Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lots going on

Hmmm....let's see. Thanksgiving and Christmas went great. I had Thanksgiving at home for the first time ever. It was just us with two of our nieces. Christmas went better than expected. January was a flurry of activity. I took Grace to see the doctor in November over concerns with her swaying all the time. I suspected hyperactivity, but I didn't want to suggest it yet. The doctor was not very nice. He basically laughed at us and told me that sometimes mothers see problems where problems don't exist. I asked for a recommendation for an OT, and istead he gave me a recommendation for a neurologist so I will "see that nothing's wrong". Well...so her appointment was on January 10. The neurologist listened to my concerns, then said that Grace has sensory processing disorder. (SPD) Since then I've learned that she is a sensory seeker. She also told me that Grace has all the facial features of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Boy, was I shocked.

Since then it's been a whirlwind trying to get her the services she needs. The neurologist did prescribe OT and PT. We are having a lot of fun trying to figure out what her sensory diet is. This includes activities that she can do that will allow her to settle down and concentrate in class, as well as activities that will allow her to participate in story time appropriately. It will take some time working with the OT before we find that magic combination. My only regret is that we had to leave our doctor after all this time. He was there for us when we received word that we could not have children. He worked with us through our depression. He was ecstatic with us when we decided to adopt. He was so excited to help us fill out all our medical forms. He almost cried when we brought our daughter home and had her first appointment. He's really enjoyed seeing her grow and develop. Unfortunately, he's missed several big flags, and I've just had enough.

Whenever I would bring her in I would mention how gassy she was and expressed concern how that wasn't normal. He just kept insisting that she was just gassy. Fast forward a bit, and we learn that it was lactose that was doing it. We had a similar battle just recently and discovered all dairy and soy causes issues, too, but I had to do all my own detective work to figure that out. I have been concerned about her size. She is very small for her age. She will be five in a couple days, yet some two and a half year olds are bigger than she is. Her two year old cousin wears the same size pants! However, I was met with "she's just petite".

The diagnosis of FAS totally explains her size. It also explains her digestive issues, as I later discovered that a lot of children with FAS tend to be intolerant to several foods. It also explains the SPD. When I confronted our doctor with the evidence of FAS, he ignored it and said she just looks Russian. I've had enough. He expressed concern over "labeling" her too early because it will follow her the rest of her life. However, we have to acknowledge what's before our eyes. There are certain behaviors and habits that need to be addressed if she is to become a well-functioning student, and ignoring the FAS diagnosis could prevent her from getting the help she needs.

Currently, she is working with an OT to help us figure out what she can do to settle her system. We are also seeing a PT to help with gross motor issues. We are waiting to make an appointment with a developmental/behavioral pediatrician so we can confirm if some of the other behaviors are FAS related or if there is additional ADHD to work with also.

All in all, we are having a busy Winter/Spring. Hoping to write more later.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh, my how time flies!

Well, I had a very busy summer and had no time for updates. I guess since I starte posting on Facebook, I kind of forgot about my blog! So....the last post I mentioned that we've thought about adopting again. We went to the seminar and attended one meeting about adopting from Foster Care, and then put it aside for the time being. Towards the end of May, I went to the doctor because my shoulder had been bothering me for about 9 months, and I had been taking some pain medicine, but it wasn't really getting any better. After an MRI, it was declared that I had a torn tendon! So, off to the orthopedic doctor I went! It was determined that I would need surgery to repair the tear, which was 3/4 torn through. I took the month of July to get ready. I cleaned the house, purchased frozen meals, arranged for help the first week after surgery, and prepared my daughter for the fact that mommy would be in a sling for four weeks and won't be able to do a lot of things. The big day came on August 1. Surgery went well. My month in the sling went pretty fast, although learning how to do everything left handed was fun. I am now almost nine weeks post-op and have been attending physical therapy now for about six weeks. I have attended physical therapy for three days a week. Just this week, the PT said I would no longer need to be stretched out because my range of motion is normal, and I would only need to come and do my exercises. He also sent a request to the doctor stating that I would only need four more weeks of therapy. However, when I saw the doctor today, he said that I only need about three weeks of therapy and only once a week! Since the PT gave me exercises to do at home, there's no need to go to the therapist three times a week, when I can do many of the exercises at home. YAY!

So, I'm back to "normal" in some ways. I just have to build up my strength. My right arm is still very weak, and I still have trouble reaching behind me, but all other motions are back to normal. I think it was wise to focus on preparing the house for the surgery and also to keep a low profile after the surgery. Now, we can concentrate on our decision to adopt again!

Basically, we can't afford another international adoption. Even domestic adoptions are out of reach. I know there are grant programs and such, but I'm not sure that's where God is leading us this time. We have been considering adopting from foster care. We have some friends that have adopted through foster care, and we will schedule some meetings with them to kind of feel out the process and ask some questions. We will be taking our time, however, and it might be another two years before we finally have a child. We do need about 33 credits of PRIDE training through DCFS, and they have to be taken in consecutive weeks, so about 9 weeks or so. Not sure yet on the details. So, I looked at the schedule for DCFS training in our area, and most sessions in our area are done already. That's ok because we have to have a completed homestudy before we can begin the program. Perhaps by the time we get the homestudy done, it will be a new year, and we can start the program then. Like I said, we're not in a huge hurry, but we've both agreed that we can start, so it's just a question of finding the right agency and scheduling the home study.

So, now about Grace. She loved her preschool year, and she graduated in May. We had a fairly good summer. The weather wasn't great, and I spent a lot of time preparing for the surgery, but we did get to the zoo a few times and she was able to go to parks and play outside and such. We also went to Indiana to visit family a few times. August was hard. After the surgery, I was in a very bulky sling that attached my arm to my side so I couldn't move my shoulder. No driving and no lifting for me. I tried to take her to the park a few times. Mostly, though, we stayed around the house. She weathered the time well, though. She's very independant, and she was able to dress herself, and take herself to the potty. She was very willing to help me in any way she could, and she very sweetly prayed for me every night. I owe my quick recovery to her prayers.

Well, I must stop for now. Time to make dinner! I'll try to update more frequently, especially as we start the paper trail for another adoption!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring? And other news...

Well, spring is supposed to be here, but it's so cold it feels more like fall. Grace is doing great in school and every day she has to sign herself in. She's doing great writing her letters. G, A, C, E are all recognizable, but her R looks like an A. I think she's doing a fantastic job, and I can really see the progress from January until now. We are really looking forward to celebrating Easter. Today is Good Friday, and Grace and I are leaving this afternoon to visit with my mom. We will be coloring Easter Eggs. My nephew, Raymond will be there also. Raymond loves to be with Grace. He is so sweet. He's 9 and he is awesome with Grace, very patient and kind. After we visit with my mom and color eggs, I'll head over to my Mother-in-law's place where we will color eggs with her cousins on Daddy's side-Kiyana, Monique, and Sarina. On Saturday, we celebrate Easter with my mom. We'll arrive at around 11 and then eat lunch around 1 pm. After lunch my mom is going to hide the eggs (depending on the weather...if the weather is bad, the eggs will be hiden already...if the weather is good my mom thought of taking the eggs to a park to hide them). Anyway, Raymond and Grace will look for eggs. On Sunday we'll celebrate with Brian's family. We will go to the 9:30 service at Bethel in Crown Point, then go back to the house for the lunch. My MIL is thinking about having the girls search for some eggs on Saturday morning before we leave for my mom's but I don't know if that will work.

Well, so on to the other news.....

Earlier this month, I saw an ad for an adoption seminar coming up in our area. I signed us up for it and then realized that our own pastor at Calvary in Oak Park is going to be the keynote speaker. I am looking forward to this seminar. So, as I was thinking about it, I realized that this seminar is worth DCFS credits. Probably not much-like 5 or something, but I realized that I don't think we can keep those credits for very long. I thought that if we could start a home study we could use those points. I approached the subject with Brian and he agreed. I've contacted Adoptuskids.org, and they've passed our information along to an agency in Coook county that specializes in adopting from foster care, which is what we are interested in. So, although we haven't started the home study quite yet, I guess you could say that we've started the adoption process once again! It will be interesting to see what this process is like compared to the first one. I hope we are more prepared for the roller-coaster ride! Wish us luck. I'll probably be posting more often with all our frustrations and triumphs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BLIZZARD 2011

video

Well, we survived the big blizzard. We all had fun waking up this morning and seeing all the snow. Looking out our back door, snow was piled up halfway up our door, so we couldn't get out our back door. For our front door, the snow blew across to our neighbors, so our stairs were clear. However, my husband never put glass in our storm door, so snow had blown in between. The outside of our front door was covered in snow, and I wasn't able to get it closed again once I opened it to clear the snow. There was snow wedged in the little cracks, and we had to clear it in order to shut the door. Our cars cannot be moved. We are in a townhouse, and we have 30 parking spots along a busy street. Not only do we have about 20 inches behind our cars, but the plows also pushed all the snow off the main road right along our parking area. We tried to call plows to move the snow, but all of them said that they couldn't even get in to begin to plow. Others said they can't do it because there is so much snow that they would need a dump truck to move the snow-which they didn't have access to. All 30 of us are going to try to call the village public works tomorrow and complain because the village snow plows helped push that snow behind our cars and therefor they should be responsible for helping us remove it.

We did venture out in the late morning and early afternoon. We shoveled the sidewalks. Well, our neighbors shoveled the sidewalk, I just did a little bit by our stairs. The snow piles were so high from shoveling we were able to create an area for the kids to sled. It was actually pretty fun. Later in the afternoon while Grace was taking a nap, I braved the snow to go out and clear some of the snow off my car. I had a really hard time removing the snow around my car just to get to the doors. I then used my shovel to remove the snow from the top of my car. At least when the sub-zero temps fall tonight, there's no snow on the car to freeze to it! I just can't believe how much snow is behind our cars! I don't know who we are going to end up getting to remove the snow, but I pray it's tomorrow. Here's another video to show the snow piled up behind the cars.

video

Friday, January 28, 2011

More photos from Disney

Grace with Belle. All these characters were very good and so very friendly! Grace is just absolutely in love with Princesses.
Ariel was really cute. She was calling the kids little fish, and asked Grace if she'd seen Flounder.

Snow White gave her a big kiss on the cheek and left lipstick lips. We showed Grace in the mirror, and she didn't want to wipe it off. Belle left lipstick on the other cheek. It was really cute.


Grace wanted to wear her Sleeping Beauty dress on this day, but it's very long on her and wouldn't have fit. Most of her princess dresses we got from church-sponsored resales, and the dresses were "Halloween" costumes purchased for very cheap-but they are authentic Disney dresses.



I'm usually the one behind the camera, and we therefore have very few pictures of Grace and I together. However, for this trip Brian insisted on taking the pictures. I was a little thankful because I really was able to enjoy myself without having the camera stuck up to my face the whole time. He did a pretty good job with the photos. He said that perhaps he'd like to get into photography as a hobby himself.
Grace did such a good job this trip. We didn't bring a stroller because she doesn't usually like to use one anyway. She actually did great. I think it was the fourth day before she started complaining that her feet hurt. She hardly ever asked us to carry her, and she was in such a good mood the whole week.
Since we've been home, she's talked non-stop about the characters we saw. I've shown her the DVD I made of all the videos we took, and she was so thrilled. She loves to watch herself on the movie, and she really enjoys watching all the shows we saw. We were allowed to videorecord whole performances. The only requirement was not to use flash or an extra light. As most performances were well-lit, the video turned out great. She can watch all the shows to her heart's content!
I also was able to get our photos printed. I made extra copies for Grace, and I'm helping her make her very own scrapbook. I purchased a scrapbook kit from Disney, and I'm currently working on it.
I started having the characters signing pieces of fabrich, which I am going to use to make an autograph quilt for Grace. Brian wanted to have signatures in a book also, so I purchased a small autograph book for the characters to sign also. She will have lots of things to remember her trip. I'm actually looking forward to another trip-and to see if we can save even more money than we did this time!
I'll post photos of the autograph quilt once it's finished. I have the first row complete. I have ten large 12*12 squares with the signatures on them. I then take 6*6 squares of patterned fabric to match the signatures (so Mickey Mouse fabric will go with the large piece that has Mickey's signature). I also have white squares with iron-on pictures. I will also be using iron-on photos of Grace from the trip, too. It sounds ambitious, but I did a lot of the cutting and iron-ons before our trip, I just need to sew them together and arrange the fabric.
On another note, I'm currently planning Grace's birthday party. For the first time, I'm planning on inviting her friends for a children's party. Grace wants a Princess party, so I am going to have the girls be Princesses and the boys be Knights. I'm a little nervous and a little excited at the same time because I've never planned a children's party before.




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vacation!!!




Well, Brian came home from the hospital on January 3 feeling great. All the phlegm was out of his lungs, and he was ready to go back to work! As a matter of fact, he went to work that afternnon after enjoying lunch with us.


On Saturday the 8 we left for our vacation. The traveling went really well, and Grace loved the airplane. We had six full days to visit Disney, and a 5 day park pass. On Saturday we arrived late so we just had dinner at our hotel. On Sunday we went to Epcot. There were a lot more live shows than I expected, and Grace loved them all. I wish we had seen more live performances at the Country pavilions, but we did see a couple.


On Monday it was rainy all day, and instead of wasting the rainy day at a park, we went to Downtown Disney for some window shopping. There was a huge Disney store, and Legoland. We had a nice day despite the weather.


On Tuesday we went to Hollywood Studios. Again, I was surprised at the amount of live shows there were. Grace saw a lot of characters. She loved getting their signatures and sitting for pictures.


Wednesday was Animal Kingdom, and it was the coldest day there. I don't think it got to 50 degrees. In the morning, Grace had to wear gloves to keep her hands warm! We had fun, though, between seeing the characters and going on Safari.


Thursday and Friday we went to Magic Kingdom. I figured that Grace would prefer this park more than the others, and I was right. Not only did it have some nice shows, but it also had rides that she could go on, and Meet-and-Greets with the princesses, the fairies, Rapunzel, and Tiana. On Thursday we stayed to see the Lights parade, which was nice. We also saw the fireworks show. It was really cool. Grace was so tired she fell asleep in my arms while we were waiting for our bus to take us back to the hotel. Speaking of being tired-Grace did really well, and she didn't have a nap the whole week. We didn't feel like hauling her all the way to the hotel for a nap and knew that she would probably be too excited to sleep! She did really well, and didn't get cranky-just a little more touchy.


On Friday we had breakfast at the castle with Cinderella and the other Princesses. She had such a great time. I am so glad we were able to allow her to go to this. She did not want to come home on Saturday. However, the vacation had to end sometime. She was very disappointed and sad to go home. She wants to return to Disney again-she has asked about it almost every day since we came home.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas came and went...




Wow, Christmas went by so fast! On Christmas Eve, Brian had the day off, so we celebrated with just us. Grace doesn't know any better, so we just said St. Nick came a day early. We slept in and then all came downstairs together, where we video taped and photographed Grace opening her presents. I think the one on the bottom says it all. She recieved a doll house with accessories and a whole bunch of Disney Princess stuff which we will be using on our trip to Florida on Saturday.
After we opened presents, we had pancakes and then just spent the rest of the day relaxing. Later in the evening we left for Indiana to spend Christmas with our families. On Christmas morning after everyone had eaten and was dressed, all the kids sat very patiently for a photo of all the Reynolds girls. Yes, the Reynolds have all girls. We then allowed the kids to open all their gifts, and it was a nice time. Grace received some clothes and ZuZu pets. They're interesting little things. Later in the afternoon, cousins came over and we all had lunch together. It was a very nice, relaxing day.
On Sunday we were going to go to church, but Grace had a really stuffy nose and was coughing a bit so we decided not to go. Around noon or so we went to my brother's house where we exchanged gifts and had lunch. It was much less stressful than it usually is, and we had a great time.
Now-on to other news. The day Brian was supposed to return to work (that would be the 27th), he wasn't feeling well. We took him to Immediate care, and they sent us to ER. He had pneumonia. 70 percent of his lungs were full. Unfortunately, he was there an entire week, so Grace and I spent New Years by ourselves. He was released on January 3rd and immediately went to work. He had to get in a bit of work because we are leaving for vacation soon and we needed some income to pay the bills that will come in. Anyway, he is doing well and has instructions to do his therapy even when he doesn't feel like it. So far this week, I think he's only missed twice. I'm a little nervous about the vacation. Perhaps I can convince him to start the antibiotics once we return. Especially if they cause digestion issues, we don't want to be walking around Disney and get him dehydrated again. Well, I'll just see what happens. We are super excited about our trip. We leave for Disney on the 8th and will return on the 15th. We don't plan on taking a laptop with us, so we won't have internet access. We plan on having a great time, however.