Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

We hope you swing in the New Year in style...

We pray you have a safe, happy, healthy, 
prosperous and blessed 2012!

If you are seeking a last minute tax deduction the orphans on Reece's Rainbow would be glad to help you out!   

We are thankful for our sweet Dariya being home and safe but, there are many others who don't have families yet.  
Please pray and donate.

Friday, December 30, 2011

I made a friend take 2!

Back when Dariya started preschool at IDC I posted this post  about a typical little girl (A)  who was a peer model in Dariya's class that adored her.  Well, 2 1/2 months later we get a call this week from "A's" mommy asking if we can come over for a play date that "A" talks about Dariya all the time STILL.   "A" even sings songs like "where oh where is Dariya?"  How sweet is that?   Be still my momma's heart!

This morning we loaded up the crew and had a couple hour play date with "A" and her older sibs (Aidan was quite happy to have kids his age to play with also).

This little sweet 3 year old truly loves Dariya. Anytime Dariya wandered out of her sight she would be quick to locate her.  While we were playing outside (it is a beautifully sunny, winter day) Dariya tripped and fell down.  "A" ran over to make sure she was ok.  But, the very best was when Dariya told me she needed to go potty of course, "A" followed right along, followed by Alayna.  When Dariya went the crowd went crazy clapping and cheering and "A" said, "Dariya, good job I am so proud of you."    What a sweet encourager.

As a mother I couldn't be more blessed to have witnessed this little girl's love for our Dariya.  I pray as the years go on these two remain friends and that both our girls experience true friends like this often.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas is overwhelming

For our little Ukrainian princess Christmas was a little overwhelming.  Nothing major.  No melt downs or freak out moments but, we could tell she was overwhelmed.  At Christmas Eve service she lasted about 20 minutes, due to her nap rebellion that day so she and I spent the rest of the time in the lobby.

On Christmas morning, we could quickly tell that Dariya had never opened a present nor understood what the heck we were doing.   We sang Happy birthday to Jesus and read the Christmas story.   She hung in there for about 15 minutes opening a present or two then quickly was ready to climb into my lap to escape the chaos of her siblings.  When I got up to take more pictures she quietly went into the other room and lay down next to the dogs and read a book while Aidan and Alayna finished unwrapping their gifts.

Thankful that she liked all her gifts and has enjoyed playing with them the last couple days.
The look of wonder before we started opening

We love our books from Ms. Laura and Ms. Juanita

Aidan loves his new electric scooter
The girls have played non stop with their new doll house

One of Dariya's favorite gifts - a doll head to groom!  She has been carrying it around like a caveman!   But, hey it saves Alayna from being her victim!
Aidan made Jason a MCFC football pitch with players for Christmas

Aidan and Alayna had a blast opening everything and loved all they received.  We had a nice quiet Christmas morning then had an enjoyable evening at my brother's house celebrating with family.

Christmas night opening her present with help from Uncle Ed

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas...
We couldn't be happier and more blessed to be celebrating and sharing the true meaning of Christmas with Dariya for the first time.  We are grateful for the army of people who helped us bring her home.  Our lives are forever blessed.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:11-14

We hope your Christmas is filled with the blessings of food, fun, family and focusing on celebrating Jesus' birth.

Blessings to you,
Jason, Rochelle, Aidan, Dariya and Alayna

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My little helpers

The girls are great helpers around the house, they love to vacuum (sorry no pics for fear the dogs might get sucked up while my hand wasn't on the machine), clean the windows, do laundry (even if it is unfolding all the folded ones) and generally just help me do whatever I am doing.  Here are a few pics from this week to show you what I mean...
Feeding the dog  Checking to make sure there aren't left overs!

Making up your own games...
Helping yourself to a goldfish snack -  if the pantry isn't locked  it is goldfish ANYTIME!

Redecorating the tree - Alayna has moved this one particular ornament almost daily

I am sure they are working on that "perfect" Christmas picture because they have requested  me to take pics of them in front of the tree hundreds of times.  Who can refuse?

Helping add "lotion" (Desitin) to your sister while she uses the toilet and mom has gone to get her clothes.

See I told you they were helpful!  ;)  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Not too late to shop the Angel tree for Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sleep Study

At our down syndrome visit earlier this fall we learned that the guidelines for kids with down syndrome now includes a sleep study before they are 4 years old.

Today was our appointment at the sleep clinic.  Pretty simple and painless and in and out in about an hour and a half.  Thankful for Aidan who helped entertain the girls while I answered all the questions.

The doctor doesn't have any red flags with either girl but, does want to go ahead and have sleep studies completed on them in the spring (so we can avoid the hospital during the winter months, thank you God for intelligent and thoughtful doctors today).

In April the girls will each have a separate night to stay over.  As one parent has to stay the night with them, I thought I would keep myself from going crazy and schedule them a week apart instead of trying to kill two birds with one stone this time! =)  Prayerfully no obstructed sleep apnea is found in either one of them.
Not at the sleep clinic but as soon as they got home they took care of their babies!
If you have a child with ds I highly recommend talking to your doctor about a sleep study.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Operation Underpants take 2

Last Christmas break we held operation underpants using the opportunity of being home for several weeks to transition Alayna from diapers into panties and she has been diaper free (during waking hours) ever since.

With Dariya waking me up at 3 am this week to use the potty and the girls having a 3 week break before heading back to preschool I have again taken up the operation in hopes of getting Dariya transitioned as well.

Dariya will let us know most of the time when she needs to use the toilet but, isn't always consistent about it.  She stays dry most mornings at home and at preschool when taken to the toilet a couple times.  So I think it is time to try big girl panties....

However, she is much more unpredictable than Alayna when toileting.  She can go and then I think we are good for a while and  20 minutes later she has an accident.

Alayna was thrilled with her big girl panties, hated to be put on the potty on a schedule and had very few accidents.  Dariya didn't seem to be overly thrilled with panties at first but I think she is getting the big girl idea.   She doesn't mind a schedule as long as it isn't too frequently and will attempt to go when you put her on.  She is able to go about an hour without an accident. So far so good only 1 accident in a couple days.

Wish us luck and feel free to say a potty training prayer for Miss Dariya (and for me)!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 months....

Dariya has been home for 5 months.  I know some adoption stories aren't as easy as ours has been and for that we are truly grateful.

She just fits into our family.  She isn't a square peg that we are trying to shove into a round hole.  I forget that she has only been here a few months, seems like forever.  She just fits perfectly, just as God had planned.

Don't get me wrong life with two preschoolers and an 8 year old (going on 30) isn't always easy.  For example, the GI Joe Dariya dropped in the bathtub the other night and tried to help us scoop it out or that both girls are starting to run so how come I am always the one who is tired at nap time?
Having all three kids is a huge blessing.

We have been told that about 6 months is the time when adoptive children lose their native language.  This obviously causes some language barriers, stress on the adopted child and therefore some unwanted behaviors.

As we get closer to 6 months home, we have noticed that Dariya has lost almost all of her Russian already.   When I spoke a phrase in Russian to her the other night she just looked at me blankly as if to say, "what are you speaking?"  Then Jason tried another few words and she didn't even stop what she was doing to look up or take notice.  

Her sign language is well over 100+ (sorry I haven't counted lately) and her verbal language continues to rise almost daily.  She loves learning and going to school and is doing very well.

We have also seen another rise in her self soothing, rocking behavior during the night which was almost completely gone.  Thankful we haven't seen it during the day since the first few months home.

About a month ago I was thrilled that she could actually say mama and know that was me.  She has been saying mama since we met her but, she never really equated it to me.

However, we have also seen a slight set back in that she started calling Jason, the bus aide, and even a 9 year old girl from church "mama" and probably all her teachers as well.  We quickly redirect her and she moves on but, to say that this isn't a process in our journey would be a lie.

The other week at church she walked up to a complete stranger and wanted her to pick her up.  This is not a good thing in adoption bonding.  I had to politely ask the woman not to pick her up and explained why.  Thankfully this woman works with children with special needs and had some understanding of adoption and bonding so wasn't offended by my request.  Yes, some people are offended when adoptive parents have asked them not to feed, cater to, pick up or show affection to their adopted child.  We have been blessed with a great group of people around us who "get it" and have asked before picking her up and have been thoughtful in not hindering our family bonding but, we know many families that this hasn't been the case.

We continue to work on the bonding and family relationship.  She understands we are her family and would probably choose me over anyone (unless you had food) but she really doesn't understand what a "family" is yet.  We know that time will help her understand and give her the connection to us and help her to feel stable and secure in where God has placed her.

Overall, our months together have been wonderful.  The bond between Aidan, Alayna and Dariya brings my heart joy each day.  To hear the giggles that come from the girls when Aidan plays with them is truly priceless.  To watch the girls pretend play is nothing short of fabulous.

Looking forward to watching the bonds grow, seeing her experience and learn new things and enjoying our blessings along this beautiful journey.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

DSG Christmas Party: Meeting Santa

This morning the DSG held their annual Christmas party.  As always they put on a fabulous party with breakfast, presents, Santa and plenty of time to catch up with all our friends we don't get to see often enough.

As the line for Santa wasn't too long when we arrived we thought we would traumatize our children  get good pictures before eating (don't worry we had already fed the troops at home before leaving, we don't miss that step at our house!)

As we were in line for Santa, Dariya spied the buffet line and starting signing and saying eat!  It all went downhill from there folks...and I have photos to prove it.
I love Aidan's "Oh this is fantastic" look  

Now WHO did you say you were???
Thankful for Aidan's everlasting smile!
Dariya was happy as a clam to get off Santa's lap, didn't care a thing for the present (princess backpack) or opening it and was joyous when we headed for the buffet line.  Show me the bacon!  Hey a girl's gotta eat right?

Alayna loved opening her present (Dora dollhouse accessories which will go perfect with the dollhouse the girls are getting for Christmas shhh don't tell them) and was excited to find her friends.

Thanks DSG for all you do for our family!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Look out truffles

I love baking especially around Christmastime.  Two of my favorites sweet treats are fudge and Oreo truffles.  The rest of my family fight over the truffles (while I sneak away and eat the fudge).  We just knew this year that Dariya wouldn't be joining in the fight because she does not enjoy sweets (except an occasional ice cream)  But, I think we were wrong....

I told the kids I had made treats while they were at school so they prayed begged for some after dinner.

First bite I think she was hooked....

Alayna quickly remembered truffles and how to pronounce that word!

There are MORE??????  Sugar overload......

I think I will wait right here until dessert tomorrow night...
Can't think of a sweeter way to celebrate 5 months since we broke her out of that orphanage than with loads of chocolate!  Love you Dariya!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oral motor update

We began really focusing on oral motor improvement on Dariya about 3 weeks ago.  Using Sara Rosenfeld Johnson's straw therapy, chewy tubes for jaw strengthening and cheek and lip massage to stimulate those muscles (this was something I learned from Alayna's previous speech therapist). 

Dariya has done fantastically well.  She has been able to go from needing jaw support to drink with straw #1 to being able to do it on her own without bringing her tongue outside her mouth.   She also loves the cheek massage and reminds me to do it daily. 
She is beginning to smile for pictures!
At breakfast this morning she picked up her cup and drank all by herself using the proper technique.  Jason immediately noticed and praised her on how well she is doing.  She has come so far in such a short time.  I am truly thankful I went to this workshop. 

At first Jason was pretty skeptical of the price of the straws but, we have found it to be worth it.   I look forward to the girls moving up to the next straw and seeing how this has an impact on their speech development. 

Alayna has better oral motor skills and can easily drink from straw 1, 2, and 3 already (possibly higher but, I haven't tried them yet).  The benefits of this therapy for tongue retraction, jaw stability, and speech production are numerous and we look forward to hearing Dariya produce more sounds and Alayna being more intelligible in her speech in the near future. 

As Christmas nears Jason has been working later and later (9:45 on Tuesday) so thankfully Aidan has been super helpful entertaining the girls during the transition times before and after dinner so we don't experience melt down city too often (on the girls part anyway).   Here is a little clip of the antics.