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!