Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning new things

When we first came home with the kids, I had so many plans for preschool type learning, and as I mentioned a while back, I kept having to move farther and farther back in my expectations about what we would be teaching.  I finally decided that my new kids needed a "babyhood" in which to learn the language, the expectations of our family, to potty train, and to allow all of us to bond with each other.

Well, I've declared the babyhood officially over, and the kids are doing great with understanding the  language (we use a little bit of sign language, and a lot of body language, since they're still not very verbal,) potty training is going better and better every day (since that post in which I said something big was about to happen--either good or bad!)  they seem to have accepted the rhythms of our family life, and we're all making strides in bonding with each other (since there are eight of us living in the same house, that's a lot of combinations for the bonding process!)

So our big push now is for manners.  We have some messy eaters, and some yucky, weird habits that don't need to continue, so I say, "That's not good manners!" or "Have good manners!" a lot!  If we have our say, our kids will be fully capable of conducting themselves appropriately in any social situation.  This may be a challenge to implement, since my husband and I are both know-it-alls, and can occasionally kill a conversation just by opening our mouths, but I think for the most part we get along just fine, and have the potential to be able to teach good behavior to special needs kids (we've never really done it before!)

I'm also increasing the preschool activities, now that we're past the baby type activities  (mostly) and although I did very little formal preschool stuff first time around, I can see a real advantage to it this time.  A lot of the skills that didn't take much to learn, especially if introduced to a slightly older child, are a bit tougher this time around.  So we're doing lots of exercising and play to increase gross motor skills, and lots of fun indoor-type stuff to increase fine motor skills.

Little Boy has made huge strides with his sensory type issues.  I remember him throwing grass clippings in the air for months, feeling the texture, and letting it land in his hair and clothes.  He doesn't do that anymore, so I guess he's moved on.  This week I took him to a playground that I had taken him to months ago, and back then he just sat and played in the pea gravel, running his hands through it, and throwing it in the air, completely ignoring the playground toys.  This time he ran through the pea gravel over and over again (the uneven surface is great for building strength, balance and coordination) to get from the stairs and climbing platforms to the slide.  The second time down, he went headfirst, and from then on, he never went feet first again.  I finally took him home when he was exhausted!  He never did pay any attention to the pea gravel this time.
It's hard to share!  We definitely see a lot of squabbling now that people understand their rights!
She's learned so much this year.  How to eat slowly, chew thoroughly, manageable bite sizes.  Still so much to learn, though!

This favorite activity involves dried beans, and a yogurt container with a bean-sized hole in the top.  Good for pincer grasp practice.

He's finally mature enough to play games on the computer, since he doesn't throw himself off the chair in a rage when we don't let him play with the mouse!

Big Girl likes to sing along, and repeat the words.  Little Boy is more of a silent participant.
I gave her these mardi gras bead necklaces to sort into another container.  That takes some work, and the basket handle adds another obstacle...

Look at that concentration!

I still think nature is the greatest teacher.  This particular warm evening we had a windstorm.  She waved her branch in the wind, and felt the difference...  We also got to practice the sign for "wind" a whole bunch!

Little Boy found a feather to hold out in the wind...

Little Girl was singing with her eyes closed, and I think she liked how the wind carried her voice away.

Playdough--take 2!  This time they had a much better idea how to play with it.

Big Girl still wanted to eat it, but more for the texture, I think, since she obviously didn't like the taste.  I can relate.  I like to eat squishy things, like marshmallows and power bars.

This one enjoyed squishing it, and putting it into the containers.

Look how hard he's working!  He spent the whole time cutting his, and it was totally covered with cut marks by the time we finished up.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fun to look at the differences

A year ago this month we went to Eastern Europe to adopt our kids, and we brought them home just before Thanksgiving, so lots of reminiscing, and comparing going on around here. "Remember this? Remember that?" So many things are still overwhelming, such as the potty training, which is still going full steam ahead, but lots of successes, too, which make us feel a sense of accomplishment. Our kids seem to have adapted well, and of course, Little Boy has made the greatest changes in attitude and behavior. Now they are each putting us through our paces, as all small children are wont to do with their parents. We love them dearly, and they are lively, and bring non-stop action to our home. We are still exhausted, but it's a satisfying exhaustion, at least for me. The other members of the family might feel differently!

Below are some pictures from last year, actually January or February, most likely, so not really a full year between them.  Still fun to see the changes.  Each of the kids has grown a full clothing size since we got them, which is a normal rate of growth for any child.  The girls are average on the Down syndrome growth charts, and our boy is at the 25th percentile on the Down syndrome charts, up from the 5th percentile.  Makes my heart warm to see them happy and healthy!
That was then...

This is now!

That was then...

This is now!

That was then...

This is now!

Did some of the other two up here, so we can compare next year.

"I'm up here, so I'm automatically allowed in the cupboards..."

Couldn't coax a smile from him.

"What is in here, anyway?"

Adorable and special to us!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

once a week

My daughter who lives far away accused me of rarely posting, since she likes to keep up on what's going on here on the home front via this blog, and I replied that I post every week.  She insisted that I don't, but I'm pretty sure I do.  Here's my post for this week, sweetie-- and for my other sweeties who don't live at home anymore!

Modeling their new coats

What a brother-sister spy duo they would have made!

She was supposed to be modeling her new boots, but you know how some  people are, always goofing off...

This one wasn't very cooperative, either.  Believe me when I say these girls were stylin'!

This morning everyone was in a good mood at breakfast.

Love that pinky finger!

Definitely a morning person!

Big Girl is very particular about how she eats her food (even though her manners can be atrocious!) and she carefully eats each item from least favorite to most favorite.  Witness:  apples before cookies!

Some of us still make a pretty big mess...

"What'cha lookin' at?  Huh?  Huh?"

This week was very busy, harvesting tomatoes and apples.  Canned both.  No pictures of the tomatoes, because those jars aren't so pretty as these.

L. was a huge help this week, and stuck with me to the end, processing apple sauce.  S. and B. were a big help, too, but L. was definitely my right hand man.  We got three 5-gal. buckets of Jonagold apples off our little tree this year.  Here are some of the prettiest.  This was the first year this tree has produced anything more than a few tiny, sad apples.  Our transparent tree had a bumper crop, too.  Must have been the cool summer.  Cool summer also means lots of green tomatoes sitting in the laundry room to ripen.  

Monday, October 3, 2011


The kiddos received playdough last year for Christmas, but because every toy I bought for them was pretty much too-advanced, and we've had to teach them how to play with practically every single toy they come across, I decided to wait to introduce playdough. The beginning of the school year seemed like a good time, and I'd like to announce that they are starting to get the hang of writing implements. They hold onto them for more than thirty seconds without getting bored or breaking them. So preschool activities are starting to look like possibilities.

We all played with them, to give them a good idea of how to play with it, and just because it's fun! The big kids were pretty good sports, and got pretty creative with it.

Big Girl took a giant bite before anyone could stop her, and then drooled bright yellow saliva for a while. After she discovered it didn't taste good, she wasn't really interested in it. She's all about the food!

Little Girl played nicely with it, and tore it into little pieces which she delicately placed in a lid. I've noticed lately that her pincer grasp is becoming a little more refined. She didn't try to eat any until someone (ahem!) pretended to take a bite of a playdough patty, and then offered it to her with, "Would you care for some?" Mean!

Little Boy has to be convinced of the desirability of any food, and doesn't just pop things in his mouth, willy-nilly. He was, however, intrigued with the texture, and poked his finger into it, and then tried to wipe the small blobs off, booger-style, onto his sister's shoulder. She, of course, took exception to this with as much disgust as if it were really boogers. Kids!

It's been a long year of potty-training, and a few weeks ago, things were really looking up, and we were having a lot of success. Then it all seemed to go downhill, which wasn't completely unexpected. Last week was a beautiful week, in which it all seemed to be coming together, and we were practically weeping tears of joy. What a long year it's been!

We rejoiced prematurely. This week the potty wars are back with a vengeance, and we are being driven to our knees! At least we can pray well from that position! Please, God! Intervene! Show your power! I don't know how many more full baths, full clothing changes, and full linen changes I can do in one day! Because of the fury of the storm, I feel we're on the brink of something momentous and historic. I just don't know what it is. David thinks it's because they've figured out that we're not going to send them back, and they're getting relaxed. I'm hoping it's just one last hurrah to babyhood, and diapers, before they settle down to embrace potty-trainedness, and all the grownup responsibilities it represents. It could happen!