Family Friday Update: Week 16

Well, this week has had it’s share of challenges and it’s share of victories!

When we first came home we learned that we needed t o get a nightlight in the girls room if anyone was going to sleep. We tried some of the motion sensor ones that auto-timed off, but Rosie would wake up when they turned off, every single time it turned off. She would cry, every single time it turned off. So, we hunted for one that wouldn’t turn off, found it, and bought it.  It was adjustable and could be turned up very bright. (We are talking about 100 watt LED bright) I had duct tape on it so that it couldn’t be turned up too bright so that it didn’t interfere with their sleep and melatonin production. Also, Pippin doesn’t like it as bright and she will literally sleep with a blanket covering her face or use a sleep mask. Rosie, on the other hand, does not like the dark and wants it to be practically daylight when she sleeps. We discovered that recently, Rosie had started getting up and peeling back the tape and turning up the brightness. WAY UP! She is a very light sleeper and with the brightness up, she wakes up even easier than when it is at a more “normal” level. She really does sleep better when it is darker, even though she doesn’t like it when she is awake and can see that it isn’t as bright as she wants. So we decided to remove the light and put in one that can’t be altered and also won’t be activated by a motion sensor. It is a ball light that projects the globe on the ceiling. Bright enough to see in the room a little without being so bright it will interfere with sleep. Let me tell you what, Rosie did NOT like that. Not. One. Little. Bit. and she let us know it! Ohhhh the fits we had to work through for daysssssss. But we stood our ground. Comforted her when she was upset, and did everything we could help her with the adjustment. But the break through happened when Pippin, our normally quiet and passive kid, had had enough. On the third night of the new light being in the room, Rosie had been crying for her other light for about 2 hours when Pippin sat up and YELLED, “Rosie. Be quiet! Pippin is sleeping! Light? Or no light? Choose!” Rosie said, “Light” and Pippin said, “We light! GO TO SLEEP! Pippin TIRED and SLEEPING!” I am happy to report that we have not had one single fit after that and to add to the victory, Pippin seems to have found her voice, and is speaking in sentences. Praise the Lord! What is even better is that Rosie isn’t acting fearful at night at all anymore and likes her , “super cool light”. Change isn’t easy for our Rosie girl but she is learning and taking amazing steps everyday!

In school Rosie is progressing well. After school we have been practicing letters, letter sounds, and reading from our Aesop’s Fables book and letting her say her sight words. She is getting better and better everyday at recognizing words. I can’t believe that 4 months ago she didn’t have any English and now she is recognizing letters, sounds, and words. She LOVES the library and I can already tell she is going to be a reader! She loves flipping through books and looking at the pictures. Books give us a chance to cuddle, rock, and spend close time together. I love it! It was always one thing I loved when Esther and Micah were little too and I am so blessed to get to do it again with the girls.

Pippin is, as stated above, finding her voice. Literally. For so long she would just repeat the words you said. But now, she is initiating conversations, using new words, making connections, and gaining independence, and has started self regulating! She comes home from school and asks to jump on the trampoline! “Mommy, jump!” If it is raining, she asks to do “Pop See Ko” or spins around really fast or does jumping jacks, and all on her own! What a HUGE deal that is for our girl. If you don’t know about self regulation, please look it up.  Our kids with sensory processing disorder can get dis-regulated easily where they can’t focus or feel overwhelmed easily and they need to move so their brain can come back into balance and process what is going on properly. And with both girls having it on some level we need lots of running and wiggle time to help them stay balanced. Otherwise their brain shuts down, they stop being able to learn and stop being able to process because everything is overwhelming. So for her to start doing things independently to regulate is a HUGE deal.

She knows the alphabet and most of the sight words they have learned in school and had a great week with no accidents at school. That is a win! She is coming out of her shell and I am amazed at the funny spunky girl that was hiding deep inside her this whole time.   She isn’t letting Rosie talk over her as much anymore either and isn’t caving to other’s requests. So fun, (not fun) she has started telling us “no”. “Pippin, go wash your hands.”  Pippin’s response, “No.”  That goes over really well, as you can imagine. But, in the end, she is compliant and does it. I think she is just learning how to express what her desires are. She doesn’t say it defiantly and always obeys once we tell her she has to anyway. Oh, one more BIG thing… today she wrote the letter A.  She wrote it properly and legibly. Her fine motor skills are really behind and she has trouble coloring and drawing. But for the past month she has been drawing a lot, every single day, buttoning buttons, bucking her seat belt, and other little things that help with those fine motor skills, and after working at home and all the hard work of her teacher, she is learning to write! I honestly didn’t think she would be able to do that for MUCH longer.  But here she is, reading sight words in Aesop’s Fables every night, and legibly writing the letters of the alphabet.

Our girls keep blowing me away. They are really afraid of storms, and as we have had an incredibly wet week the girls have had to face those fears.  While rain doesn’t invoke tears anymore, Pippin still jumps every time she hears thunder.  And when the clouds start to come in she says, “Oh no! Sun! Where the sun go? Sun is all gone. I’m sad. No more sun.” It cracks me up! She will also say, “dun dun, thunder”. It is so stinking cute! 

This week we finalized our Halloween Costumes. Esther is going to be Elizabeth Swan and recycle her Marie Antoinette Costume. Micah is going to be Robin Hood the cool one, not the kiddie one.  Lloyd and I will be the Phantom and Christine. We have spent a lot of time over the past 2 weeks talking to the girls about Halloween, showing them pictures, practicing trick or treating, and explaining that we play dress up as a family.  So after everyone else picked their costumes and we showed the girls our costume inspiration we asked the girls what they wanted to be.  Rosie immediately said, “Rosie, be Elsa and Pippin be Anna.” Pippin retorted, “No, no Anna. Cinderella.” I double checked with her two more times and she said each time that she wants to be Cinderella for Halloween.  I honestly didn’t think she understood what I meant when I was asking her, but she totally does! I am so excited for this year and grateful that the older two have really costumes because I will need a lot of time to work on the others.

Well, that is about it for this week. Hard days with good moments and hard moments with good days. Still a jumble and probably will be for a long time. But it is so worth it. I wouldn’t trade the hard days or hard moments that contain those girls for anything in the world. In fact, I am starting to forget what life was like before them. What a sweet God we have that knows what we needed in our family and to provide a way for us to get them.  Final note, Rosie has been asking when we will get pictures of all 6 of us together up on the walls that are pretty. lol  So we are looking for someone that has experience processing photos of black people (it is not the same as photographing white people) and has patience to photograph our busy girls so we can get some new family pictures up on the wall. Cheap is also a big selling point. 

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Family Friday Update: Week 15

Week 15 at home

Both girls had to get shots last week but were real troopers! Barely any tears and no panicking. We were so proud of them! They come home EXHAUSTED everyday and barely make it to bedtime without a meltdown and barely make it to school without a meltdown in the mornings. But we are having successful days with no fits.

 

Week 2 of school was a success. We have seen Rosie’s emotional state calm as she adjusts to school and Esther and Micah begin gone more often with sports. She is starting to work on sounds that she really struggles to say. She can’t say R’s and several others. We will be working really hard at home on other things she is struggling with. We know once she feels better about school she will relax and her ability to learn will go back up. She is simply exhausted everyday by the time she gets home.

 

Pippin is loving school! Getting her frequent bathroom breaks under control has been the hardest part of her transition. Her teacher said she has seen sincere smiles and laughter this week. She has already memorized 3 site words and has been “reading” us books. Her transformation since starting school just 2 weeks ago has been phenomenal. Pippin still mostly repeats what is being said to her, but she is getting much better at communicating. She is speaking in sentences and will even carry on very short conversations now.

 

 

Micah is playing football at Covenant Classical even though we are homeschooling. He is on a 6 man team and having the time of his life. He said he feels like he is living his dream and is the luckiest kid alive. He has been amazing! Working hard, studying his playbook and memorizing the plays. Making sure he is ready to go everyday on time and works hard in practice. I am really proud of him!

Esther was signed up to play volleyball with the same school. They had a very large group and were going to split the volleyball team into two teams but unfortunately it just didn’t work out that way. So Esther decided to try her hand or legs rather at cross country with Covenant. She wasn’t sure how she would like it, but after one week she is hooked! All in all, we are exhausted but had a great week. She had her first cross country meet on Saturday and did great for only having run with the team for a week!

Family Friday Update: Week 14

Hey Friends and Family,
The girls have started school and things are going well. Rosie plays school everyday now when she gets home. Pippin is being evaluated for several things at the school, more info to come on that later.  The girls are in separate classes, which is a huge blessing.  Most of the time, twins are in separate classes because one tends to have  a more dominant personality.  Having them separated has done WONDERS for Pippin. Rosie looks after her well, but tends to talk over her in her efforts to help.  Pippin’s communications skills are still pretty poor and Rosie has really a HIGH ability to communicate and so she often tries to over compensate for Pip.  As much as we discourage this behavior at home, having them separated this week at school has allowed Pippin room to grow. She is actually interested in reading and writing now.  She started showing us she was barely interested in it about a week ago, but this week we have seen a significant increase in her desire and attention to reading and writing as well as just communicating in general.  Both teachers and the staff all say they are the most polite kids in the school. If you have ever met them you know they say, “thank you” about 50 times in one conversation.

With school starting we have had a few challenges. More meltdowns from Rosie in the mornings and/or evenings and her anxiety is back up to a higher level. At this point she isn’t exhibiting this behavior at school. After the first day of school we made our annual First Day of School Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies. In the past, Esther and Micah helped me but this year, both of them were at a sports practice and Rosie was intently working on a coloring sheet from school that she didn’t get finished and she was very concerned with getting it finished. It wasn’t homework or anything, she just really wanted to get it done. So for the first time, Pippin helped me in the kitchen. She did a great job! She poured all of the pre-measured (by me) ingredients into the bowl and mixed them.  I was honestly a little surprised and was sure that she was going to spill all over the counters, but she didn’t and the cookies turned out delicious!

Making cookies!

Neither girl likes it when the older siblings are gone at “Micahball” as Pippin so cutely refers to it, after school, but they do enjoy having some uninterrupted time with mom when they get home. Both girls are exhausted everyday post school, and bedtime has been moved forward by 30 minutes because of that so they can get to bed earlier and get some much needed sleep.

Micah in his “Micahball” uniform

We are in a great routine and they are getting some of the services needed. We know rebuilding their immune systems is going to take a long time, and having them in public school is sure going to tax it. Please keep us and them in your prayers as they will be exposed to germs that their little bodies might not be able to fight off like they should. Depending on how Rosie’s anxiety levels look in a few more weeks, we will be contacting Gladney for some support to get her into play therapy or something along those lines to help her learn self regulation on a more direct path. While we are doing all we can at home and have seen HUGE progress, usually extra support is needed for kids from hard places. Pippin has exhibited some behaviors that we think warrant a little more investigating as well. So when we reach out to Gladney, that will be on the list as well. But for now, we will let her and Pippin adjust to the change of school and see where we are after a couple more weeks.

Pippin is thriving with the change. She has had more changes in her life than Rosie and so it doesn’t usually phase her as much when something is different. So, for Pippin, the harder parts will come after the newness wears off, usually right when Rosie starts to become more settled with the change. At least that is the pattern we have seen over the summer. Pippin is over her fear of the hand dryers at school and aside from one accident at school she has done well.

One thing the teachers noticed and will be worked on is the girls’ natural volume is LOUD and they sing. All the time. Even when they shouldn’t be singing. And they don’t seem to understand that there are other people around them, that might not be thrilled to hear their constant concert. We have been working with them on this at home, but the teachers specifically mentioned it as a classroom habit as well that needs to be helped along. Thankfully their teachers are kind and patient.  We have also been able to identify that Rosie has very poor spatial relations and needs some help with that as well. She is always bumping into things because she can’t tell how far away from it is she is. Poor girl just doesn’t know where she is in the universe.

And as you can see from my Facebook post earlier, Pippin has started actually playing with Sugar instead of just tolerating her. Today’s game was tucking her in so she can sleep…. on one of my couch pillows. 😦 and playing peek a boo.

Fun Things: Rosie has started using pronouns a little this week and is speaking in third person a little less.  Most of Pippin’s words are plural. Mommies, sleepy. Snomans cold. Esthers play? Daddies here! And so forth

Tomorrow we have Micah’s first football scrimmage at Covenant Classical. He isn’t attending there, but is playing on their team this year, which is a dream come true for him. Esther is currently on their volleyball team.

Family Friday Update: Week 13!

You guys, it is FRIDAY and I am actually getting to my update. What?! So this week has been a crazy one. Can I just stop and say, God in his infinite wisdom was so good to bring our girls home at the start of summer. We have had 13 weeks home with them to bond, cuddle, sleep late, and just get to know them. I know 13 weeks isn’t “knowing them” but at the same time, it totally is!

 

Today, we had our 3 month post placement evaluation done. It was so nice to sit down and think back over all that we have done, and to truly take stock of how far we as a family and the girls in particular have come. So today, since it is so fresh on my mind, let’s look back together. Over the past three months, we have chronicled their victories. When we report something, it is because it is SO important to us or a HUGE victory for them. We try to be careful about sharing their story and struggles, because who on earth want’s all their junk out there on the internet for the world to see, but some things are so very important. We don’t ever want to seem like we have it all together, and that it is the easiest thing in the world. We want you to know that AMAZING things come out of hard work and full dependence on the Lord. There is NO way we would have made it at all without His hand and without His people holding us up on incredibly hard days. We wouldn’t be where we are without you and your prayers.

We came home on May 19th. The girls didn’t sleep for over 20 hours from waking up in the hotel in Taiwan to landing in Fort Worth. Pippin screamed and got very worked up on the plane several times and was so terrified of the toilet she screamed and cried every time I made her go. She had only been potty trained for about 5 months at that time. Rosie talked incessantly on the flight wanting to know EVERYTHING and watch all the shows and refused to try and sleep at all. She was even shushed by the flight attendants. I vowed on that flight to never travel with children again. (A vow made in weakness that I know will be broken.) We got home, everyone slept for the night, and then no one slept again for 2 weeks. Rosie had such HIGH sleep anxiety that she would wake up crying every hour or two and even threw such a magnificent fit at 2 in the morning that she hyper extended her elbow rendering it useless for about 2 weeks. It was hard times, but Jesus was near.

When we landed in Fort Worth, Rosie weighed 78.8 pounds, at 6 years old and Pippin weighed 28 pounds at 6 years old. They had not been together for longer than a meal since they had been put in care as babies, except for their time with us. They didn’t know each other, they weren’t bonded, and they didn’t understand that they were sisters. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t play together when we got home and had little to no interest in each other except when fear was involved. Rosie didn’t want Pippin out of her sight. If Pippin was in a different room, Rosie would dissolve into tears until she found her. So here we had one girl that was overweight, couldn’t run or jump, got winded just walking from the parking lot to the playground, and another that was underweight, underfed, and a live-wire of raw anxious energy eternally on high alert.

Everything was overwhelming to Pippin. She fell down a lot, didn’t understand much of anything, and the words, “no, wait, and later” created meltdowns. To her little brain it meant, “never”. Pippin didn’t want attention, affection, or help. She wanted to do it on her own and she wanted everything immediately. Eye contact was a joke and her communicating anything other than basic survival needs was only a prayer! Emotionally, Rosie seemed to, overall, be more stable. She knew why she was crying, why she was upset, and she worked really hard to explain everything to us. She knew she wasn’t going back to Taiwan and most likely will not be able to see her foster grandma again. She was grieving deeply and felt so out of control that she sought control where she could. I am so thankful Rosie knew how to attach. She knew when she cried to reach to us for comfort. Rosie quickly started establishing bonds. During those early days, Pippin cried every time she went into a foreign bathroom, fearful of the noises and full of concrete certainty that automatic toilet flushing was going to end her life. In fact, Pippin was just afraid of everything that moved and wasn’t human. Falling leaves, a bug, squirrel on the tree, a bird landing on the ground 20 feet away were all tear inducing offenses. Rosie, not usually as easily upset, would fall into terror once the sun started to set, each time we left her sight and were out of reach at night, and don’t get me started on rain! Physically both girls were weak. As previously stated, Rosie couldn’t walk longer than about 10 minutes at a snails pace without crying and becoming exhausted. She couldn’t run, jump, or carry anything heavier than a pencil. Needless to say, her gross motor skills were incredibly poor. On the flip side, her fine motor skills were good. She could write, draw, and color in the lines. She could dress herself, feed herself with chopsticks, spoon, and fork, and understood the basics of tooth brushing. Pippin, was literally the EXACT opposite. She basically ran everywhere, jumped all the time and LOVED it, and never seemed to run out of energy. Drawing, writing, and coloring on the other hand… was very poor. She couldn’t feed herself with chopsticks, but could sloppily feed herself with a fork or spoon. She could scribble like nobodies business, but you couldn’t expect more.

 

Now, three months later, Rosie is 60 pounds or less; we weighed her last week. Size 7’s are normally what she wears now, and some 6/6x’s. When we get to the park, she is the first one out of the car and SPRINTING to the play ground. Skillfully she climbs the rock walls, holds herself upright in the swing, and runs from one play structure to the next, laughing and playing. She pulls herself up on the bars and tries to cross them. She jumps on one foot and switches to the other,  jumps on both feet, dances all the time while singing as loudly as she can every song she knows! Micah and he do planks and count to see how long they can hold it.  He is teaching her how to catch and throw a bouncy ball as well. She has CALF MUSCLES! She has BICEPS! She tells us when she is full. For the first time ever, she put down her spoon ON HER OWN to talk during breakfast. Most of the time she just shovels the food into her mouth, barely chews before she swallows and is ready to brush her teeth and move on to the next task before I even sit down. But, she didn’t today. She knew there would be more food. She knew that food is a social time for us. She knew that we wouldn’t take her meal away if she didn’t get it down as quickly as humanly possible. She doesn’t cry at bedtime anymore. She simply grabs her weighted blanket, turns on the nightlight, climbs into bed, and waits to be tucked in. Remember the hourly wake up meltdowns I mentioned above? Yup she sleeps 12 hours a night. Wakes up occasionally, but doesn’t have a fit when she does. She simply lays there and goes right back to sleep. It’s not perfect, we still have tears and meltdowns, just NOTHING compared to what we had in those earliest of days.

Pippin is now almost 40 pounds. She can wear some 5T’s without them simply falling completely off her. Slowing down during most meals to put her fork down until she swallows wasn’t something we thought she would be able to do, but Pippin continually surprises us. She doesn’t cry at the table until we pray, waiting to eat, and she has even asked for more sometimes, and she says when she is full. Blessedly, she sleeps. The poor girl use to get about 6.5-8 hours per night of sleep, which is significantly lower than the amount 6 year old kids need. She falls asleep promptly at 7:30 every night, and sleeps all night until about 7:30 in the morning and even takes an hour long nap each afternoon. She tells us when she is sleepy and goes to lay down. She can draw people, animals, and attempts other things. Affection is sought after and welcomed daily. Curling up in our laps for a hug because she is happy or even sad has been a HUGE step. Today, for example, she had a ROUGH morning. She was really losing it, so I picked her up, carried her to her room, and we sat in the rocking chair. 12 weeks ago she would have pushed me away screaming, “NO” or “Boo-yah”. And wanting left alone. Today, she clung to me, like a baby clings to her momma. She curled up in my lap, accepted every hug, kiss, and stayed with her head pressed to my chest while she cried. Towards the end of it, she said, “I love you momma.” in the sweetest voice imaginable, and even said, “Thank you momma, hugs.” Pippin is understanding comfort, for what may be the first time life. Most kids will reach to their parents for a hug when they are scared or sad, she has had to learn this. Crying is healthy and normal, as is sorrow, and a myriad of other emotions, she has had to learn this. Eye contact is growing, and she desires to communicate.  She is actually trying and succeeding in communicating with us. Telling us stories, jokes, and emotions. Praise the Lord who heals ALL THINGS.  And we get REAL smiles and deep belly laughs now too.

This means our “time-in’s” are working! Seeking what is wrong and giving them the words so they can say it and practice it is working. Rosie has to know at least 100 words by now. Do you know how many they had when we got them in May? Three. “I love you.” That was it. They know most of their letters, and their sounds, colors, shapes, and a smattering of animals. But more importantly than that, they know if they ask for help, they will get it. They know if they reach for a hug it is going to be given. If they say, “I love you”one hundred million times a day, it will be said back 100 million times a day. Fear of hunger isn’t something that is driving them constantly, or even frequently anymore. I know we are not “out of the woods”. We are still having meltdowns, fear is still waging a war on both of them for a foothold, and while they are and have processed grief, the greater understanding they have of what they have gone through will bring them into a deeper level of processing and of course grief. And they are no longer giving indiscriminate affection.  Most kids have stranger danger, and Rosie had some. But Pippin? Pippin would scale any new person that walked in the door and strangle them into a hug while telling them she loved them…. 13 weeks ago.  Now, she gives a fist bump or high five, and still sometimes goes in for a side hug.  Not perfect, but HUGE progress.

School starts for them next week, so we went to meet the teacher. We also took a trip to 6 Flags in order to utilize our season passes one more time before they close during the week days. The kids had an amazing time. They just walked straight onto the rides and were able to ride numerous ones back to back. Much to our surprise, the girls had a GREAT time! Rosie LOVED the rides, who knew?!?! Pip didn’t love waiting in line for our turn on the kid rides, even though we were always the first in line for the next go through of the ride, but she loved them… once she got on of course.  And not one single tear going into or using the bathroom at 6 Flags. As Lloyd said on his earlier post, for the first time in all our time knowing them, they fell asleep in the car. My heart burst a little seeing them feel safe and comfortable enough to relax and sleep somewhere that isn’t home. BIG STUFF!

So there we have it. So much progress and some things that they will most likely have to daily give the Lord for the rest of their lives. But they are learning about that. They want the Bible read daily, they won’t let us do much of anything without praying, not that we need the reminder… but sometimes we need the reminder. I can’t imagine life without them. I can’t imagine them staying what they were in. I am so grateful the Lord has called us to be their family.
#adoptingtheekpos
#adoptionrocks
#wecouldhavemissedthis

Family Friday Update: Week 12

Sorry it isn’t Friday, but we do what we can when we can. I’m giving myself grace when it is needed; like in these situations.  Also, in the event that I haven’t had time to make what I consider a proper dinner with 4 kids, and so I crank out some breakfast tacos instead. No one seems to mind too much, aside from me of course. But the laundry is clean, the carpets have been vacuumed, and everyone has a fully belly and goes to sleep on time. When I start to think about all of the things I wish I had done, or could do, I remember that my real work is hugging, kissing, rocking, drying tears, and reading books. So, all in all, we are doing well.

We currently have more and more good days and and fewer and fewer hard moments. With school on the horizon anxiety has been rising again, mostly for Rosie as Pippin tends to handle change with more grace, but I suspect that is going to change once school has begun.  I hope not, and pray not but expect it none the less.

This week past week our NEW thing was getting their hair trimmed. Rosie needed it mostly because it was growing out very unevenly. Her short hair is getting closer to medium length and in an effort to bolster her we tell her it is medium length even though it isn’t technically. By Christmas, her hair should be the cutest medium bob cut!  It is so important for her to know that her hair is growing long and with better nutrition and vitamins her hair is growing really quickly!  It is the one thing she has told she didn’t like about her years in Taiwan. Her foster grandmother always had her hair cut very short, and Rosie has always wanted it to be long.  When we told her we would grow it out her spirits lifted so much.  The thing is in Taiwan, she was bullied for her appearance in school. Since coming home, we have focused on her health so much and she honestly looks like such a different kid! She has lost about 20 pounds over the past 3 months, and as I just stated her hair is growing out, she has glasses now, and she has more muscle and better posture.

Pippin’s hair needed trimmed really badly too. It was down to her tush and VERY uneven and damaged. We had a good 4 inches cut off. She looks so much older and her hair looks so much healthier. Her appearance has changed a lot too! She was underweight when we brought her home and has since gained about 10 pounds. Pippin LOVES to wear sweaters as she is often a little cold. I assume that is because she is so small. Pearls are her favorite necklace to wear and she wants to wear them every single day.

Growth happens in many different areas. Physically they are getting taller, healthier, and their coordination is improving all the time. Pippin has shown an interest in learning how to write. She asks us how to write a certain letter or number and then she will watch us write it and she will copy it. Those pencils sure look cute in her tiny little left hand.  Happily, her development is an area that has been developing a lot lately as well. Normally, when asking Pippin a question she would just reply with one of the words you said. Usually, the last word! This week, I asked her a question and she paused, looked at me with the wheels turning, and she replied, “I don’t know, mommy.” I was BLOWN away. She has never said anything remotely like that before or responded so appropriately.  She has begun actually TRYING to converse with us in sentences and tell us stories that we will understand. She has also started working on puzzles.

It does my heart so well to see them growing and thriving. Both girls have been working with building blocks and making new things. Drawing new pictures and really stretching out in their skills. Below are their Lego “Ninjas”. The still sing all the time and love dancing. No decision has been made on soccer vs gymnastics vs dance classes. I know the clock is ticking but we aren’t going to rush into anything. One big change at a time, and school is going to be certainly be a big change for all of us!

I have absolutely fallen in love with Daniel Tiger. It is a cartoon for kids starring, of course, a tiger and produced by the same company that did Mr Roger’s Neighborhood. It has helped them both SEE healthy ways to deal with things that are a struggle for them.

What’s on the horizon: School starts next Monday.  Lot’s of prayers please, and they will need some vaccines this week, and as mentioned before transitions are hard. School is going to be so amazing for them. I can’t wait to see them learning and growing and making new friends! Lastly, we have our 3 month post placement visit coming up this week or beginning of next.

Family Friday Update: Week 11

This week has been a full one. Saturday we had a great time with several families from our church that have adopted. We went to Benbrook lake, ate a potluck meal, and just enjoyed the company. The kids had a great time playing with the other kids.

Monday, Pippin lost a tooth. I didn’t even know she had a loose tooth. But when I got home it was there hanging out of her mouth barely holding on. I was expecting it to be a top tooth when I heard she had a loose one, because she has lost her two middle bottom teeth already and normally the top middle ones are next. But, another bottom tooth came out instead. She does have a loose middle top tooth, but it isn’t loose enough yet to worry about. I am sure by Christmas she will be a little snaggletooth.

 

Wednesday, we went to Granbury lake with some friends. They have great sand on the beaches, and no large rocks in the water. Pippin splashed in the water a little but really enjoyed the sand most.

Rosie is the water bug and was in the lake most of the day. She had so much fun swimming around, splashing, and playing with the big kids. When we got home, I started the laundry to ensure it was all clean and ready for Lloyd and Esther to pack up for camp. They left Thursday afternoon and are having a great time. The girls really missed daddy and Esther on Thursday night, but each day as they count down to their return has gotten better and better. Daily short outings have helped us break up the time and make the days go by faster.

 

Today, the girls got to spend a little time with my mom. Cocooning has meant  limiting a lot of time and affection with other people to help with our immediate family’s bonding.  This means the extended family has been incredibly neglected. Most of the family live pretty far off so isn’t a real burden, but my mom is close enough that we were able to make a quick trip to her side of the Metroplex today. We chose a neutral location that kept the interactions light. We walked around Ikea with her for a couple hours and sat in the cafe while I drank a coffee and they had juices. This was such a great way for the girls to get to know her a little better, and get more comfortable around her without requiring a ton of focus on interactions, affection, and socializing. Blessedly, it allowed me some time to not have all my attention and energy pouring out on the girls. While we have had a great 3 days, I am pretty drained today and ready to have my husband and oldest child home.

To date: Rosie has lost 18 pounds. She is close to being at a healthy weight and now we really need to focus on building muscle, improving her coordination, and her large and small motor skills. We are looking at soccer, dance, or gymnastics for her. I honestly don’t think she would enjoy soccer, but she would LOVE dance. Gymnastics would probably be the best overall choice for both girls but it is pretty “Cha-Ching”, that being said, nothing has been ruled out. She is still pretty weak but so much better than where she was 11 weeks ago. Her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds and her pronunciation gets better all the time. She is so much less anxious than she was before. She is still really afraid of the dark, but not so anxious that she melts down anytime something makes her uncomfortable. She has started telling us when she is full at meal times, praise the Lord! She is getting more and more mentally ready for school and keeps asking to go buy school supplies. Also, Rosie’s hair is now long enough for me to french braid the top of it! She was SO excited to have “Elsa hair” which means braids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To date: Pippin has gained almost 10 pounds. She still needs to gain a little more weight, but now our real focus for her is building her immune system and definitely muscle. We will eventually get to balance, coordination, and motor skills but for now she really needs more muscle and just better over all health. She loves to run so we are looking at soccer for her or gymnastics as it will improve her total body control and build muscle. I am not sure dance would be the best option of her at this point. Her cognition is still behind (as is Rosie’s to a lesser degree) and she is still easily upset but nowhere to the extent she was when we first came home. She understands so much of what we tell her, and this week I have seen an increase in her ability and desire to communicate things to us. So we know her cognition is improving, yay! With her emotional health being SO much better than it was before, it takes her longer to get upset and she doesn’t get overwhelmed as easily as she did when we first brought her home. She is learning that even if she cries, she still has to clean up her messes. This has been a HARD FOUGHT BATTLE. But this week, we had two victories in this field. She is seeking affection and comfort regularly which is a HUGE deal! To finish it up, Pippin has had ZERO meltdowns this week over our dog. No more running away or running past the dog to avoid her. She is making more and more silly faces and trying to tell us funny stories in her own “Manglish” way.

This coming week we have shots and they are getting their haircuts, (well, trimmed anyway). So prayers PLEASE for both of these. I have no clue how either of them will go. Also, we did get Rosie citizenship papers in a couple weeks ago. Pippin’s still haven’t arrived yet. So prayers please that they come in soon. We want to get a jump on the re-adoption and will also have our 3 month home follow up with our social worker soon! September brings more medical tests and dentist appointments for the girls. So be on the look out for those things and more pictures to come!

Family Friday Update: Week 10

Good grief Charlie Brown.  What a week we have had! Parks, libraries, meltdowns, tears, smiles, laughter, singing, learning to clean up and make their bed, dressing themselves and picking out their own clothes each day, also no more major Sugar fears.

I guess looking back on the past two weeks,  I am wondering if going to the doctor has triggered an emotional trauma for Pippin.  She has had some really hard days. Rosie is such a good communicator, but Pippin has never really tried.  She typically cries and then wipes her eyes and says “all done” whenever upset. She doesn’t try to tell us what is wrong, what upset her, etc.

 

But this week, we had a break though! She actually communicated what was upsetting her. And once she started talking about it, she talked about it a LOT.  This has caused a lot of joy in her this week as well as a little more teary eyed moments. Culminating with a pretty tough one on Thursday.  After the meltdown was over, Pippin asked to jump on the trampoline. I am so thankful that she is learning healthy ways to self regulate even if it is after the meltdown and not in a way to prevent one. Baby steps, right? Once she was done jumping on the trampoline, she was like a new person. Euphoric even! But the tantrum left me emotionally raw and drained. I am so blessed to have other adoptive mommas that understand and will immediately go into prayer with me during these hard moments.

With the cooler weather that evening we all went to the park and Esther and I took off on a 2 mile run and even added in a little off road hiking.  When we got back to Lloyd, Micah, and the girls everyone was so joyful and excited. You see, when we first got home from Taiwan, we took the girls to this park and Rosie couldn’t run, jump, or really do much of any play.  At this park there is a rock wall and she couldn’t get herself up even two places on the wall on our first trip.  Well, this evening Rosie ran from the car all the way to the park and played hard for about an hour, and even scaled the wall. For the first time. WITHOUT ANY assistance!!! What a blessing and encouragement to my heart to see some of the outward victories for our girls. See, despite tantrums and hardships, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. Knowing that they were not living their fullest life before and seeing that they were a fraction of the children before kills my heart and soul. I see more and more of who they are really are and what obstacles they have to overcome each day.  Despite it all, we have each felt a shift.  Our family is so much more joyful this week. And the good moments far outweigh the bad moments. 

 

What you should know is that in the middle of the most epic meltdown to date, Pippin reached out for comfort. She curled up and cuddled all afternoon and has cuddled for a significant amount of time everyday since then.  In January when we went to meet them, she didn’t know how to even be held. She would go pencil straight and lean away.  Now she reaches for us, she hugs us, and without prompting gives us kisses and says, “I love you.” Healing is happening and she is learning to trust us. She sleeps deeply, eats well, and genuinely smiles more and more. She can stand still for pictures, and even asks for them to be taken sometimes. Those moments make it all worth while. This week, Pippin has become Daddy’s shadow. She wants Daddy to read her books all evening. She climbs in his lap, and wants held. Rosie is jumping on the bandwagon of having some daddy time this weekend. 

 

 

Also, we have begun getting into a more structured routine. The girls are making their beds in the morning, picking out their own clothes (and they are only picking out dresses, lol), and then dressing themselves.  We introduced them the movie Sing, and Micah has stepped up the plate in big ways. He has let them have horsey rides, taught them how to have talent shows , and plays catch with them every day. 

 

He is even teaching them how to dribble a ball. What an amazing big brother he is turning out to be! Not to be out done, Esther is stepping up by helping with cleaning and cooking more often, and spending time coloring with them each day. She has also started working with Micah on his Latin Declensions so he will be ready for Challenge A this year at school.

 

On that note, I began talking to the girls about school since it  starts in just 3 weeks. We want them to be prepared. Rosie said she is a little scared. I told her we will have cookies after the first day of school. This is a tradition that I began back when Esther first started preschool. We make chocolate chip cookies and eat them warm from the oven. Rosie was so excited, and asked if we could also have pizza for dinner after the first day of school and was so HAPPY when I said yes. That seemed to help her not be quite as afraid, knowing she was coming home and something is already planned for her that she will enjoy. Pippin doesn’t seem to understand that school is coming yet, but we will keep working with her until she does get it.

 

One more big deal is we have had ZERO tears over our dog Sugar this week. Pippin is used to her and is no longer deathly scared. Sugar has almost become Rosie’s best friend. Praise the Lord!

This next week could be a bit of a tough one. Lloyd and Esther will be gone to church camp for 4 days. Which means it is me, Micah, Rosie, and Pippin alone for 4 days. Send up prayers that I don’t go crazy. Play dates are welcome, pizza deliveries will be accepted, and I hope to keep us busy enough to not think about them being gone too much.  lol We picked up Rosie’s glasses on Monday.

 

 

Family Friday Update: Week 9

Well, our AC decided to mess up on triple digit week! We got it taken care of it on Friday and have enjoyed a cooler house since then. But we had a HOT 2 or 3 days. We found ways to keep cool. Going to the library, walking around Ikea and drinking coffee in their cafe.  And Lloyd and I snuck out at naptime for to see a matinee of “Antman and the Wasp”. Again, it was amazing to just get out and hold hands and have some grown up conversation. Thank you for the AMC giftcard Kelly. Not having to worry about budgeting in some dates has been amazing.

I don’t have a ton of updates for this week. What I can tell you is up until this week I was concerned that they might be color blind. Our eye doctor confirmed that they were not color blind but they still were seemingly not understand or learning colors. I prayed about it and asked the Lord for insight. I was reminded that when we teach our kids at Classical Converstations anything that is visual (i.e. geography) we ask them to to show me/tell me.  Example – point to a place on the map and say, “Tell me the name of this river/country/mountain/etc.” You switch up how you ask them by alternately asking them to “Show me on the map where Laos is/the Mediterranean is/ Mount Kilimanjaro/etc.” I had ONLY been asking the girls to tell me what color each object was.  So with that download from the Lord, I picked up a multi colored pillow and ask each girl separately to “show me the yellow circle”, “show me the red circle”, “show me the blue circle”, etc.  Both girls got EVERY SINGLE COLOR correct. And has since then gotten them more and more correct each time I ask whichever way I ask.

Rosie is so good at communication and learning things in a relational way, but is much slower at learning things that are concrete. She knows some letters by sight, some numbers by sight. Pippin has much poorer communication skills, but knows almost every letter of the alphabet and their sounds by sight, as well as all of her numbers 1-10.

I actually only took one picture. Pippin found a sleep mask and loved it. She used it at nap time and fell asleep in about 5 minutes. Both girls developed a bit of a cough this week but it is under control.

Pippin mentioned a person in Taiwan this week. We don’t know who that person is, but we have asked our caseworker to please find out.

***Forgot to add in last week’s post that the doctor believes the whitening of Rosie’s skin is a form of eczema, so we have we are using eczema cream and lotion, and trying to keep her cool.

Family Friday Update Week 8

Guys, I am so sorry to be so behind in our updates. Life has been a mixed up bag of crazy busy, good and bad, victories, and hardships. So I am going back and will post a short update from each of the past 2 weeks and then a longer one for this week. With summer halfway over, we have started coming out of the cocooning process a little bit. Both girls have started dressing themselves a little more often. They could do it before, but part of the bonding process is to have ALL care provided by mom and dad.  We still brush their teeth, because they can’t do it well on their own, and in fact Rosie has a gnarly cavity that needs attention. Their first dentist appointment will likely be coming in September. As far as fun goes, the girls still play dress up almost everyday. The newest fade is for Rosie to wear Zebra ears, a zebra bow-tie, and rain boots everywhere! Pippin has discovered purses, pearls, scarves, and the lion ears and bow-tie. They also love coloring, play-dough, and pretend cooking food for each of us to eat. They love Bubble Guppies, Moana, Cinderella, and still love Frozen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have had our first battle with unknown medical issues due to lack of Info given and not being able to read another language.  We took the girls in for medical checkups. They did GREAT despite it being a long appointment. The nurse discovered Pippin had something lodged in her hear.  Apparently at some point in her life, she broke off a blue crayon in her ear.  They flushed it out and she is completely fine.  We also had to decipher their shot records. We have one for each girl in English, but they don’t contain all of the shots they have actually gotten. Their medical health book, which we also have is unfortunately in Mandarin. So big questions like, “Did they receive a TB shot?”, were not questions we could actually answer.  And, Pippin has some of the big check marks for someone that would NOT have had the shot and could possibly have TB; small, underweight, multiple homes, sweats in her sleep, etc.  We were blessed to have found out that both girls DID receive a TB shot while in Taiwan, but that being said, we are getting a THIRD TB test done on Pippin to check for “Latent TB” which is of course not contagious. The first one was a little shot in the arm, the second was a chest x-ray that was clear.  If she does have the germ, we will start a 9 month medical routine to make sure it is killed and never becomes active.  But as she is not contagious in the slightest right now,  we are happily enjoying our ignorance. The test will be scheduled soon as will an appointment to get them both caught up on vaccines because they are both a little behind and school starts soon. The girls are growing SO quickly. Pippin has outgrown all of the shoes we bought her when we got home, so now we get to go shoe shopping for her again. As it is summer, we are mostly living in flip flops, so it isn’t urgent, but we will for sure get her some new ones before school starts.  Along with vaccines we will be doing some extensive blood work and even getting stool samples run for both girls, just to make sure we can rule out as many unknown illnesses that we can’t see as possible. This is a VERY common and even recommended thing to do in international adoptions.

 

Pippin began dealing with the adoption process this week. She has been saying, “Taiwan, bye bye” and things like that. The doctor appointment seems to have triggered something in her. She has been more easily upset ever since then. Crying more often over things that don’t normally make her cry.  That has been really hard, Saturday was a tough one with lots of tears and fits from Pip.

 

Rosie took the doctor appointment like a CHAMP! She knew if she was brave she would get a sucker that I had put in my purse. And she did! She got the sucker and ate it like a BOSS! (Both girls got a sucker, and both really enjoyed them.) Then afterwards we all went to 7/11 for a free small slushie (because it was 7/11). They LOVED that. At the doctor, we found out that Rosie had lost almost 13 pounds since arriving home and Pippin had gained 8. We are well on our way to getting them where they should be size wise for their heights and optimal health. Rosie is 48 inches exactly and Pippin is just a couple inches behind her.

The next day, Rosie and Lloyd both had eye appointments. We found out that Rosie is also far sighted like Pippin, just not to the same extent. She was SOOO happy that she was getting glasses. So now, here we are a family of 6 and 5 of us are all in glasses, and I am the Lone Ranger without. Rosie picked a purple pair of glasses and they are so cute on her!

This week, Lloyd and I started trying to get a little alone time out of the house for about an hour. We split some chips and queso at the Fuzzy’s right by our house and enjoyed talking and dreaming about life.  It was really refreshing and just what we needed.

Family Friday Update: Week 7

Hello Friends and Family,

Welcome to our Week 7 Family Friday  Update. Okay, it is really Saturday but that doesn’t sound as nice, so here we are with my tardy post. This week brought some changes and was our first BIG holiday with the girls.

For starters, we have really gotten into a great rhythm and schedule. One that is going to help them so much once school starts in August. We found out that because they didn’t complete the required amount of time in kindergarten while in Taiwan, they will be able to go into Kindergarten this year, which is what we wanted. Their language and comprehension is behind enough that we think it is going to be beneficial to start them off at the very beginning. What a blessing! They are on the short list for the school we want them in, but we won’t know for absolute certain until enrollment closes for the neighborhood.

3 Friends on the 4th

Both girls have had a great week. They have been coming to church with us for about a month now, and this Sunday, we were able to leave them in class without one of us. For the first time, the girls interacted with others and participated in class. They LOVE the songs played in Bible class, especially “Every Move I Make” which they call “Waves of Mercy”. Evie isn’t in their class at church even though she is the same age, because we have chosen to hold the girls back. That being said, Rosie made a new friend. She is definitely the more social of the two and needs friends and someone to play with and interact with on a regular basis. School is going to be SO good for her in that respect. Pippin is more content to just hang with me. She doesn’t seem to feel the need for a peer to play with, though she does love playing with her sister. I have seen them walking and holding hands more often this week and hugging more too.

Ekpo6

As Pippin is the more fearful one, I wanted to make sure the girls were ready for the 4th of July. We always get together with our friends and this year our Life Group got together too for a big potluck and to watch fireworks.  About a week before the 4th of July we started watching firework shows on Youtube for a couple of minutes everyday. The girls would count down to “America’s Birthday” and talk about the “boom boom furworks”. By the time of the actual day, they were ready! Both girls were so HAPPY to see their friend, Evie. They played really well with all the kids. We ate dinner, talked, and it was so amazing to have grown up discussion and see the girls run, play, and deep belly laugh with other kids.  Evie has a BIG dog that joined us on the 4th.  Seeing all of the other kids play with the BIG dog, Josie, gave both girls the courage to go up and pet her as well. It has also been the catalyst for change in Rosie. She is no longer afraid of our tiny dog, Sugar.  She will play with her, cuddle her, sit on the floor and try to coerce her to leave the kennel so she can pet her, and tells Sugar she loves her every day. Pippin still wakes up skittish of Sugar, but by the end of each day she has warmed up and is happy to just ignore her most of the time. We are so blessed by this and didn’t realize that it was causing us stress to keep our tiny dog in the kennel all the time or fear the girls reactions if we let her out. Sugar is now back on her own schedule of coming and going to her kennel as she pleases.

This week, my grandma, Grandma Duck as my nephews have christened her, fell and sustained some pretty serious injuries including broken bones that will require surgery. She lives about an hour way, but is currently in a hospital that is only 30 minutes away.  In Texas, that isn’t far at all, so after running some errands we packed up the van and headed to see her.  This was the first time the girls met Grandma Duck. While heading up to her room we ran into my great aunt, and cousin, and my soon to be aunt, Alicia. It was a fun little reunion and the girls remembered Alicia from meeting her on Memorial Day. We stayed and chatted for a bit and then headed home for naps.

Grandma

Today has been a pajama day or “jama” as Pippin would say. So fun to just play, watch Bubble “Buppies”, Moana music videos, Go Noodle, play pretend kitchen, etc.  So far, so relaxing. And it is amazing to think we have been together for 2 months now and home almost that long. It is getting harder and harder to remember what life was like before they arrived.

Rosies tooth

Rosie: We are working on full sentences with Rosie and pronouns. She is growing in social graces and laughs more easily every day.  Names of foods, utensils, and words are being added to her vocabulary daily, but she is still struggling with colors. She still is sleeping about 12 hours a night and will occasionally take a nap. Her food habits are getting better all the time. Since coming home she has had VERY little sugar outside of what is naturally in fruit. With it so restricted the last 2 times I have offered it her, she has rejected the dessert and said she didn’t like it. She is also telling us when she is full and is drinking the correct amount of water each day. We finally got a handle on the night light situation thanks to my little friend… duct tape. We found out that occasionally Rosie would get up in the middle of the night and turn up the brightness on her nightlight to full blast (which is 100 watts). So I put some duct tape on the slider so she can’t move it unless she actually removes the tape completely. So far, she hasn’t tried or at the very least been successful. Rosie also lost her first tooth with us on Thursday, (6th tooth total for her). She was so brave and didn’t cry a bit! She loves “Toe-pee-iah”, (Zootpia).

Rosie Collage

Pippin: Pippin speaks the weirdest mix of mandarin and English. She doesn’t seem to understand the fact that we don’t understand mandarin. She does ask us what things are; all the time in fact, and then will repeat them in English and she will then use those English words mixed in with the mandarin language. It is so cute, but can be frustrating at times too. We have seen her really start to come alive this week. She smiles so much more, and is more focused as well. She LOVES music and sings all the time. She is incredibly funny and loves doing silly voices. She also has a good imagination and has almost completely mastered her shapes, letters, letter sounds, and numbers. She is truly transforming before our very eyes. While both girls enjoy playing dress up, Pippin is the one that is usually found in the high heels, puts on a pearl necklace everyday, and constantly carries a purse around with her. She loves playing dress up and you never know what she is going to come downstairs wearing, but you can usually bet it will involve a cowboy hat. She has one loose top tooth. She loves Bubble “Buppies”, (Bubble Guppies).