Saturday, January 19, 2013

Millie Update

Millie Update Pt. 1
We've been encouraged by some growth in our youngest daughter these last few weeks and thought others might like to hear how she's doing. As a reminder, she has severe childhood apraxia of speech.  This basically means the signals for speech have a hard time making it from her brain to her mouth, so her mouth doesn't know how to form the sounds.  There is no known physiological reason for this. Basically, the experts, in most cases, don't know why this happens.  Millie is 4 years, 4 months ago and speaks maybe at a 16-month level, judging her by where my oldest daughter was at that age.

 She has been attending speech therapy for about 2 years now. At first, it was only once a week through Early On. Once she turned 3, she became eligible for school-provided speech therapy which she receives 2x a week. We also pay for private therapy 2x a week. Or at least we used to. She just received a grant through United Healthcare!!!  Whoop! Whoop!  The recommended treatment for apraxia is one-on-one therapy 4-5x a week. Throughout all this time, she was making minimal progress. We were always assured that one day it would happen for her. She would hit a burst of speech like most kids with apraxia do.  We kept waiting, just didn't seem to be happening.

Now, for the good part.
One day, I received an e-mail through an adoptive parents' yahoo group. It contained this link:

 I read this post about a kid so similar to my Millie and I knew we had to do this. Because apart from her speech delay, Millie was that kid that I felt clueless about how to parent. Discipline didn't work with her. She was extremely impulsive. I was thinking future ADHD diagnosis.  I had to give the Feingold Diet a good try. So we did.

I cleaned out our cabinets. Gave a bunch of stuff containing the bad stuff to others. (Felt a little weird about that." Here's a bunch of food containing harmful preservatives, dyes, etc. I don't want my kids to eat it. You give it to your kids." )   Even got rid of our fragranced home/beauty products. Began a whole new way of life, really. Feel a bit counter-culture, actually. We can't just go out to eat anymore. Mommy has to cook - every night. Okay, we usually have one take-out meal a week at places we know we can tolerate.  Anyways, I digress. Back to Millie.

This was the beginning of a turn-around for Millie. Did her speech explode overnight? No way. but did it begin? Yes, just enough to give us hope. Little by little. Sometimes by spurts. Sometimes there seemed to be nothing. But now, 5 months later, Millie is becoming a new girl.

First, there is the overall personality/cognitive change. Her preschool teacher told me she was so much more "with it" this year and that she was really worried about Millie at the end of last year. Several other adults have said she seems to be following what's going on so much more now. Yes, there's a maturation factor at work, I'm sure. But this Momma knows it's more than that.

She will sometimes sit and snuggle with me now. She never did that before, unless she was sick. She will look at me. She will answer my questions with 'yeah' or 'no.' She is "all there" now. She wasn't before. She's still a handful, oh yeah. But she doesn't exhaust me now.  She plays for longer periods of time. She's not constantly asking for something or getting into something off-limits. She still has those moments, but it's less frequent.

And my girl is talking. She got off the schoolbus yesterday. I greeted her as usual, "Hi, baby, how are you?" She replied, "Good." Okay, there was no final "d", but that doesn't matter. She said "good." Never happened before.

To be continued...


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vika's 1st Year

Happy 1 Year Anniversary, Victoria Faye!  Here's some random thoughts on our first year together.
The adoption process is kind of like a marriage ceremony. It's exciting, fun, and okay, it can make you a nervous wreck, too. Then comes the marriage or real-life. Living with a new little person requires adjustments and learning on every one's part.  I think her parents have had to grow and change just as much as Vika has. And that's a good thing.

First morning waking up to a new life.

What can I say? She is amazing. In the past year she has learned to eat and chew normal food, hold her own in a house with 3 other rowdy kids and a dog. She can now communicate some of her basic needs through sign language and oh yeah, learned to understand the English language.

Having her has shown me what compassionate kids we have. All 3 have welcomed her,love her, are proud of her, and sometimes fight to play with her. I gotta admit, that warms my heart and I think it's extremely good for them.
Millie still thinks she's Vika's mother/teacher/caregiver. Honestly, I don't know if I'll ever break her of this. Fortunately, V. has learned to tolerate Millie's fussing over her pretty well. Many times I go up to their room to see what they're doing and find Millie holding a learning session with V. her captive audience. Most times of the day, you can find them together.
Vika has really blossomed, particularly these last few months. Attachment issues? Not this girl. Sensory issues? Nope. Institutional autism? Uh-uh. As Gabe and I like to say, 'we got a good one.'  She does have a good amount of spunk and naughtiness thrown in for good measure, as it should be.
This little girl has brought so much
fun, laughter, and opportunities for growth into our lives. She is possibly the world's best cuddler.  She has turned into such a happy, smiley, loveable child.  Sometimes I wonder how we got along without her. I marvel at our Lord's graciousness in meeting our needs along the way. So many times, I thought "What are we doing?! Should we really be doing this?!"  We are about the most flawed people you could find, and yet, He blesses us with such a darling of a child. Praises, that's all I can say. 
We love you, Viccola. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Apple a Day? No, Thank You!

Strange title for a blog post, aint it? Well, here's why.  As some of you know, we have becoming devotees of the Feingold diet in our family. We've been on it for several weeks now and have seen some really wonderful results from it.  On FG, there's Stage 1 and Stage 2. We are, naturally, on Stage 1, but I'm chomping at the bit to go to Stage 2.  The only real difference in the two deals with something called 'salicylates.'  Don't ask me what this is exactly. I haven't a clue. All I know is this is found in many natural foods: apples, grapes, tomatoes, berries, certain spices. All good stuff, right?  For some people, though, salicylates can cause health and/or behavioral/learning problems.  This is why FG has you avoid these foods on Stage 1. During Stage 2 you can slowly and carefully re-introduce these foods, one at a time, to test for any possible reactions.
Me, being the inpatient person I am, decided we were ready to try some apples/applesauce.  Of course, I could have been influenced by my two preschool daughters' teachers, who are asking if I can send in appleasauce for snack. I'm already the crazy mom to them, I'm sure, who's asking that my children not use fingerpaints, lotion, or hand stamps.  (If you do FG, get used to certain people thinking you're a nutjob). So, yeah, I admit I rushed into Stage 2 a bit.  And besides, they're apples, for pity's sake! Surely my kids won't have a problem, right? Here's what I observed after a day or two of eating the stuff.
Vika, who had gotten to be such a happy, bubbly, laughing little thing the last few weeks, became, well, grumpy again.  Easily irritated, crying over trivial things.  I swear it's true.  Could apples really cause this? I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't lived it.
And then there's Millie. Prior to our apple experiment, she was amazing us daily with new sounds. She was able to sit still for longer periods of time.  She was becoming a new child. For real.  Enter apples, the sounds stop. she's back to her pointing and grunting for everything.  The familiar frustration of driving with her in the backseat returns.  Hearing her little sounds of wanting to tell/show me something but only being able to guess what it is. Before I was at least getting a beginning consonant or vowel.  How weird is that?
On the behavioral side of things, now I would tell her to do something and she would cross her arms, shake her head, and make sort of a 'nnnnn' sound. That's 'no' for her.  The tantrums returned, along with the screaming.
Mommy had made a big mistake. Fortunately, I was able to almost immediately link these behaviors to the apples. Problem is, apparently, this evil potion, chemical, whatever it is, salicylate, takes a long time to completely clear out of your system. It took 5-6 days until I noticed the kinder, gentler, happier, smarter children returning.  And yay! they're back!!
Let me tell you, I am dying to be able to cook with tomatoes again. Hands down, the hardest food to do without. No spaghetti sauce, tomtao sauce, regular pizza sauce. Ugh. No fun. Or let me rephrase that,  we're thankful to have enough food to fill our bellies, but it sure would be nice to have regular pizza with tomato sauce again. Please, Lord, someday?  But, after the failed apple experiment, I'm not in that big a hurry. Pleasant, teachable, vocalizing children are far more valuable.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reason #1

 Reason #1 why I love the Feingold diet

Quiet children!  I am often amazed these days to look up and see my children involved in their various pursuits and I didn't even realize they were in the room. Homework gets done, chores get done, play goes on and peace is maintained. Did you think that today's children were capable of being quiet? I'm not sure I did. Don't get me wrong, they can be loud. I wouldn't want children who weren't capable of getting a little rowdy, but overall, I am discovering a quietude in them that's new for us. And I love it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's been a long, long time. I thought it was about time to dust off the old blog and share some things that have been going on with our family.  I should probably give a rundown of everything that's been happening the past few months, but that is way more work than I have time for now.  Instead, how about some pictures of some things we did this summer with no particular theme, just Summer '12.  Here ya' go!

Checking out Lake Superior.  So so beautiful.

Visiting some of the waterfalls around Munising, MI. 

 My boy. He looks so much like my dad here.

 We took a boat ride to view some actual shipwrecks in Lake Superior. And we got to steer the boat!
Dutch Village, Holland, MI. The highlight of the dance was definitely when one of the dancers' wooden shoe flew off and landed in the nearby pond.  Exciting stuff.

Taking a break to cool off with Dad's soda.
Eva and I visited the Dunning Historical Museum in Plymouth, MI. They have a Lincoln exhibit with an actual lock of Lincoln's hair!
Another famous couple.
 Eva, Eli, and I toured the Jiffy plant in Dexter, MI and we got free stuff!!
Millie and Vika at the Detroit Riverwalk.
 Gabe and I went on a whole weekend date. We took in a Tigers game.

Visited the Detroit Institute of Art.  An awesome place to visit. We couldn't see it all in a few hours.
Visited Belle Isle.  Honestly, the aquarium was really sad.  Maybe one day it will be restored to its former glory.

 We cruised the Detroit River on the River Princess! The Motown show was good, but we did not do the Soul Train line but did enjoy watching others with a little alcohol in their system do it.

 General Motors world headquarters shot taken from the boat.
Now for some odds and ends.
 Kensington Metropark - When toddlers attack.

My super-duper-garage-cleaner-uppers.  Guess which one is not as eager to do his work?
And now, another sad installment of "what happens when dads dress kids." Truly a noteworthy entry.

Our Russian sweetheart loves the water. Can you tell?
I hope you all enjoy these few snapshots into our family's life this past summer. Another entry soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good morning, friends.  I promised a little more detail on why we decided that we would not continue with our adoption of "Spencer." Well, better late than never.   I guess our hesitation all started a few months ago when I became very unexpectedly pregnant. A few weeks later, we found out it was a miscarriage. 3 weeks after that, I had a very scary, traumatic trip to the emergency room.  All is well now, but these events left me physically and emotionally drained.  I guess they took the steam out of us.  This was one factor in our decision.

The other, and really more important one, is the needs of our current children, particularly our 2 little ones.  Vika, who came to us through adoption last year, is doing very well. Yes, there are areas where we are all still adjusting since she came. We are still learning the best ways of parenting her. She still gets overwhelmed by too much commotion. We are trying to teach her more appropriate ways to ask for what she wants/needs. But overall, she has done very well.

It is our youngest bio child who is causing us the most concern right now.  She has some needs/behaviors that consume most of my energy daily.  If you know us or have followed this blog at all, you are probably aware of what those are.  We are exploring the best ways of helping her. But honestly, she is the child that causes me to feel like I'm a new parent. Like I don't know anything about raising children. She is a mystery child to me in many ways.

The decision that we made to not go forward with the adoption was exceedingly difficult. What would happen to Spencer?  It took us a while before we had the courage to make that call. To back out because it really seemed best for our family.

But we did.  And here's the good part. The very same day we notified RR of our decision, another family had already stepped forward to adopt him!! Did that make our decision easier, oh yeah! Spencer will have a beautiful family that has loved him for a long time.  And it really did confirm to us that we had done the right thing, for him and for us.

So this story really does have a happy ending. Spencer will have a family. And our family, well, we will be busy with the 4 blessings we already have.  We are looking forward to doing some things that we've put off for a few years.  With saving for adoption, the almost 2 years our last adoption took, paper-chasing, etc.  our lives have kind of revolved around adoption for the past 3 years. We've put off doing lots of things with the kids because we didn't want to spend the money or couldn't take the time.  So, we're going to try to kick up our heels a little bit, maybe get some things done around the house.  God led us to Vika and has really blessed us with her. We are looking forward to what He has in store for us next! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hello all. I am writing with some sad news today. After much wrestling and prayer, we have decided we can no longer continue with our adoption of Spencer.  We have some definite reasons that have led us to this decision. We are currently on vacation, so I must be very brief here. I will write a longer post when we return fully explaining how we came to this decision. Thanks for your understanding.