Sunday, April 24, 2011


Three cutie-pies

Goofing off on the scooter

Goofing off on the swing

"Hey!  Candy tastes pretty good!"


"I see no reason to go hunting for eggs..."

"I've found quite a few..."

"NO!!  Don't throw the e---!"

"Stomping on eggs?!  Okay, the hunt is over for you, Missy!"
We had a lovely Easter weekend.  We were reminded of our saviour's love for us, and of his sacrifice, and that he conquered death.  Hallelujah!  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

Just look about you for evidence of God's miraculous power.  The Bible says that all of nature declares the glory of God.  Spring, especially, reminds us of that. 

In our home, we have a daily reminder of his miraculous power in these three little ones.  They were doomed, seemingly unwanted and unloved, but someone loved them enough to go to redeem them, and bring them into the family, and again, as the Bible says, we are all his sons and daughters by adoption, and we have been redeemed and brought into his family.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New clothes for Easter

"Stop pointing that blasted camera at me!"

"I mean it!  This is making me mad!"

"Feel free to take my picture anytime!  I feel as pretty as a princess!"

"I can make a goofy face for you while making a slurpy noise... Mom is hoping it means I'll start saying the 'f'' sound soon!"

"I just adore a new outfit!  I know!  I'm such a girl!"

"I like a little mystery..."

"Okay-- it's no mystery;  I'm not in the mood for a photo shoot."

"Please may I go back to my nap, now?"
Hubby and I went to the big city last weekend for date night, hit the Olive Garden, and went shopping for Easter clothes for the littles.  Wow, styles have changed since my older kids were little.  I thought there'd be more lace and ruffles, at least for the holiday.  Most of the styles look like miniature teenager clothes to me, and I'm not that fond of the styles for my teenager (although she likes them just fine.)

Did  manage to find some old-fashioned little kids' clothes.  I'm guessing that these must be old-fashioned, since I like them, and they weren't in colors like chartreuse or vivid purple, with bold graphics.  I want to take them to a studio to get their portraits done, but just in case that doesn't work out, I wanted pics of them in these cute (to me, anyway) duds.

You can tell which kids are fashion-conscious by how much they're protesting about wearing old-fashioned clothes.  The one happy child apparently hasn't kept up with the newer looks. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's fun to be outdoors

We're so happy to see spring!  I lost most of my rose bushes this past winter, since it was so cold, and even though it seems that it took longer to get here, spring is finally here!

The kids love to get outside to play.  Everything is an adventure to them, and they love to explore even the little things.  Do you remember what it was like to examine a blade of grass, or follow a crack in the sidewalk with your finger?  And what about dirt?  Do you remember discovering that?  It has so many lovely uses--mud pies, little trails, and mountains, filling a little dump truck...  What joy to watch them learning!

Haven't gotten organized, or caught up enough yet, to get started on gardening, or starting my seedlings, like every other year, but I'm getting the itch.  Sunshine will do that to you!

"Good day?  What's so good about it?"

"Well, for one thing, the first flower of the season is blooming.  Isn't it beautiful?" 

"And, it's utterly delicious!"  Just kidding;  I don't let the kids eat flowers!

"All right, now-  I've learned some valuable lessons today about the properties of dirt, especially when it's thrown in the air, on a windy day..."

Hmm... those fangs...  isn't Transylvania in Eastern Europe?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Something of a routine

"I've learned how to hold on, and don't fall off anymore, when someone gives me a good push!"  (not a fun surprise for the pusher or the pushee!)

This is just getting cocky-- waving while swinging!

Just chillin'.  Yes, everyone gets a turn on the potty.

"But it's really boring..."

She must have been feeling maternal this day--surrounded by baby dolls.  She often cuddles her babies, and gives them a kiss.  That little doll is the potty-training doll, and his pants are usually pulled down, even though I always pull them up for him!
I feel like we're starting to get into something of a routine, albeit an exhausting, sometimes overwhelming routine.  I finally feel comfortable enough with the three kids to start taking them places, and last week we went shopping several times, and even went to get x-rays at the hospital.

Children with Down syndrome are at risk for a condition called atlanto-axial instability, and can suffer damage to the spinal cord, if it is not addressed, so we went to get our x-rays done, to rule it out.  The girls enjoyed all the attention, and stood fairly still for their x-rays, but our boy was a noodle, and no matter where we held him for support, or to limit his activeness, he collapsed a different part of his body.  He can fold completely in half, and when we tried to hold him straight, he held his feet up off of the floor.  Very challenging!  I told them, "He waits to see exactly what you want from him, and then makes sure you don't get it!  This is a guiding life principle for him!"

Actually, he's getting better all the time.  Today, he came to the table when he was called, eagerly climbed up into his booster chair, and willingly reached out to hold hands for the before-meal prayer.  Then he ate his dinner quite independently, didn't make much mess, and climbed down himself after his hands and face were wiped.  These were all challenges a few months ago, and we do not take them for granted.  Thank you, God!

Okay, I didn't mention the part about having to take at least one teenager with me, when I take the little kids anywhere, and two teens is preferable.  I dream about taking them by myself, but we aren't at that point yet.

Someone asked me if the kids are in school yet, and the short answer is:  no.  The long answer is that our family has a long, proud tradition of homeschooling, with short periods of public schooling thrown in.  Our older kids all went to school while I went to nursing school, and the ones who have reached high school age went to public high school, and then early entrance to college.  Since my husband and I both work full-time, we may resort to public school in the future, but for now, we feel we can teach them best at home.

As healthcare professionals, as well as veteran homeschooling parents, we are aware of resources that are available, and developmental stages.  We have researched quite a bit about Down syndrome, and about education in general.  We recognize that there are particular challenges, and learning styles that are common with Down syndrome.

I have assessed the children as we have gotten to know them, to find their levels, and at this point, I've moved back so far from where I expected to be, that I've decided to give them a "babyhood" of sorts, allowing them to become integrated into the family, learn the language, learn the family rules, find their own particular niche, and get potty-trained!  We enjoyed our babies so much, and would never have dreamed of sending them off to school as babies, when they still needed so much attention.

At this point we are focusing on nutrition (I make smoothies with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in--any fresh fruit, green tea for it antioxidative properties, fresh veggies like carrots, spinach and cilantro--not bell pepper; it tastes way too strong-- probiotics, yogurt, wheatgrass and barley mixes, and even my Reliv supplement.  I also feed them lots of variety, and give them fresh veggies and fruits to get them used to eating them, not just drinking them.

Some other things we are focusing on are:  learning to walk, run, jump and climb, improving balance, muscle tone, fine motor skills, drawing (even just holding a pen or pencil, and learning to make lines, circles, etc.) spatial skills (this is a tough one!) table manners (chew, chew slowly and thoroughly, swallow, one bite at a time, hold a fork and spoon properly, use a straw) and learn to talk (lots of babbling going on around here, that is starting to sound like english babbling, with lots of open vowel sounds, instead of like russian babbling, with lots of consonants.)

We have lots of educational toys, books, games, videos, and even some that are good for physical therapy, and learning to use their bodies better.  Now that the weather is decent, they're going outside to play, also.  None of these things use themselves, though, and all require lots of time, attention, and hands-on from someone big.  The kids rarely get on the little trampoline voluntarily, for instance, and have to be encouraged and helped.  Then, it's great fun, but if they don't have someone right there, two of them default to rocking and daydreaming, and the other one defaults to dismantling the house (which I'm sure is very stimulating, but not smiled on!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Update on the girls

"We got a new toy!"

"So what if none of us knows how to jump yet!  We'll figure it out, because we try harder!"
I promised an update on the girls, so here goes:

Big Girl is still very loving, and quiet, and likes to be held or to look at picture books, or to just sit and think.  We try to keep her active and moving, since we know she needs lots of stimulation, and physical activity.  That's not her natural inclination, though.  She hasn't changed too much since we brought her home, but she seems really different than when she was in the orphanage, when she was so aggressive.  She and Little Girl are best friends, and seem to always have an understanding.  They like to play together, and are very tender with one another, freely giving hugs, or stroking each other's hair.  Big Girl tries to talk more than the others, but her words sound very little like what she's trying to imitate.  We just keep encouraging her, though.  I try to give her lots of little jobs, and most of the time, she can figure out what I want from her, and will give it a try.  For example:  "Throw this away in the garbage."  "No, no;  that's the dirty laundry!"  "Look!  Look where I'm pointing!  Garbage! Gar---bage!  Right there!  Yes, yes!  That's right!  Garbage!"

I think when we all understand english, life will be a little easier.

Little Girl is our most animated child, with tons of personality, who loves to charm everyone whose path crosses hers.  She also has a great sense of humor.  She laughs a lot, and makes a lot of jokes.  She laughs at our jokes, as well as her own.  When she laughs, she laughs so hard that her head bobs up and down, as if it's so funny, she just can't bear it.  Of course, she's very animated when she's not happy, also.  She cries loudly and with much drama.  She has a little routine in which she begins a long, drawn out wail, while slowly tipping her head to one side, and bringing the back of her hand up to cover her eyes.  We all know what's coming when she starts this, so it makes everyone laugh.  That makes it even worse, of course.  She's also very sassy, and makes a lot of faces at her older brothers and sister when they boss her.  She'll also point at them at the same time.  She tries to talk, also, but again, hard to recognize what she's trying to say.

Time to go;  life is busy!