Archive for May, 2013

Nine months

Monday, May 27th, 2013

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*yawn*

One of the downsides to writing a blog as part of processing my life is that when life is going this good I totally forget to write anything. My kids are doing great. Two of our friends (Sophie and Elliot) started walking independently recently! And from the last blog post you all know that my husband and I started a .org. Our website is www.graftedbranch.org and I’m happy to report that it is finally running smoothly.

It seems lately my life is all about adoption advocacy and orphan care. Two of the families I had spoken with about adopting AMCers are in an Eastern European country (not Roland’s birth country, but a neighboring one) right this minute meeting their children! Following their journeys has been so rewarding and I get so excited for them! Another little one with AMC just got a commitment! And a fourth family has been emailing me for days and days asking a million great questions while considering committing to an AMCer. Plus I love getting picture updates from Igor and Victoria’s (now Joseph and Vika’s) two families who are much better than I am about keeping people updated about their newly adopted child. (Sorry.) This is very rewarding for me, but honestly orphan care is a world of heart ache. One AMCer I advocated for has lost his family and is not expected to get another one. My Raymond who is on the side of this blog has been without a family for years with no prospects. The ones who are lucky enough to get out of the system of subhuman care and into families are little lights in a vast darkness. Thankfully there have been quite a few of these encouraging little lights recently.

It’s been nine months since Roland came home. In that nine months a lot has happened. Chelsea and I got off the plane from Ukraine and about ten minutes later Chelsea was pregnant. (You know, give or take a few minutes.) Last week she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy they named Addison Ezra. The week before that a gal I had met on the street corner by my house also gave birth to a beautiful boy named Iorek. Iorek’s mom was homeless (living in a tent) and had no baby items. We were able to be her advocates, help find her a place to live (who also provided medical care), get lice treatment, have a reliable phone, and make sure she had diapers, wipes, baby clothes, a stroller and a car seat as well as many other items. I’ve never called so many government programs and been so frustrated with our system. (Well maybe not “never,” I mean Laelia’s initial diagnosis and care was a ridiculous process.) And I’ve never been so downright in awe of my generous friends and family who partnered with us. (Well I can’t say “never” there either since these same friends and family have been amazing many other times.)

The experience with helping a mother keep her child led to long talks with my husband on how else we can participate in orphan prevention. We headed a fundraiser to support parents in Haiti to keep and care for their children by selling the bracelets they made out of cereal boxes and other trash. We sold all 157 of our bracelets (with any run-off profit going to support Raymond mentioned above). And a few days ago we were able to commit to support children through Compassion International. It’s 38 dollars per child per month and we were able to make that fit into our budget with a little work. We had read a study (the first of its kind) that put statistics to the Compassion program and proved that children in the program were helped greatly by sponsorship.  You never know the long-term effects of throwing money at a third world problem, so we were grateful for the study which showed us how we could help these vulnerable children. The only down side they could see was that some children didn’t get sponsors and didn’t thrive. Well we can change that! You can go here to find a child of your own. You can write to them (they even have a tool so you can do it online) and learn about what they’re facing. Our youngest child has no parents and lives with his grandma who sometimes gets work as a farmer. Our oldest child is 18 and working through middle school and supporting her younger siblings. I’ve always wanted to be a grandma and this makes me feel like one. :)

So what’s new with all of us?

Laelia is finishing her school year and will be a kindergarten graduate next week. She started the year in a state of simi-chaos as her mother was in Ukraine and she became a big sister right before her first day of school. She also started the year not able to read or sound out words. Well she will finish the year reading sentences! We will continue to work on her reading trouble areas this summer, but I have to remember she couldn’t do it at all just nine months ago.  I’ve watched her learn to love math and all math homework this year. She can add and subtract. She can measure and compare. She can do little math problems at five that I couldn’t do in third grade. ;) Everyone I speak with says, “That’s an AMCer for you,” in other words school was bound to be enjoyable and a bit easy for her. She has also learned how to manipulate adults this year more than any other. She briefly became the scourge of all substitutes. We had to set up her IEP for next year with some warnings to aides and teachers that Laelia can do everything except for a few large gross motor actions all by herself. So don’t believe her when she says you have to do her homework for her! :) Stinker. :) Laelia also finished her first year of Sparks. She finished her book the first half of the club year and then played and goofed off the last half. This is the first year of her life that Laelia has been shy. It took me by surprise, but I do admit to enjoying her holding my leg with her little face buried in my thigh. (This was the child who never had separation anxiety or missed me when I dropped her off at preschool.) We are going to the AMC conference in Vegas in July so she can hang out with others with AMC. That has always been really good for Laelia in the past and this year we’re going as a whole family! Laelia continues to be a joy and a light.

Roland is doing wonderfully. He is a cuddle bug. Every morning I hear, “Mommy mommy mommy!!!” and get cuddle hugs from him. He loves tickles too. He is always happy. Rarely is he any other emotion. Even his brief rages at the injustice of the world (My toy car fell down! My sister won’t give me that! I don’t want to eat that! Mine!!!) just show a toddler acting way more typical than post-institutional. His least favorite thing in the world is when his sister shuts a door in his face or if Mommy or Daddy leaves the house without him. That gets a big scream, but really he’s not Mr. Screamers anymore. And he can go very quickly right back to happy bouncy fun. He hasn’t had a single medical worry in a long time. He’s not hypoglycemic anymore. He’s not deficient in vitamins and minerals anymore. He’s happy and healthy and cuddly and cute. He walks everywhere without a walker and is very very close to standing up independently using a step. He also began going to preschool a couple months ago. He goes just for a few hours in the morning on Mondays and Thursdays. Just that bit of social interaction has given him lots more words: up, down, yes (he says “da”), no, why, I don’t know, bye-bye mama, want, go, come on, food, please, pee-pee (means iPad, we think it’s a combination of Pad and TV), thank-you, help and car. He loves story time, he loves dancing, he loves playing with friends. We have really tried to get him into Early Head Start next year for four days a week instead of two because he seems to enjoy it so incredibly much and is getting so much out of it. Unfortunately that’s a long shot.

I have been getting all my grocery shopping done during the brief preschool hours in the morning. It has been glorious. I’ve also done a lot of doctor’s appointments during those hours as I gear up to donate my kidney. I just finished all my major medical appointments for that (nutritionist, MRI/MRA, nephrologist, x-rays, bloodwork, glucose test, social worker, etc.)  and will be looking to start a donation chain as the altruistic donor when the kids go back to school in the Fall. Following in my husband’s footsteps on this one. It is weird to see my husband’s picture on my informational packets and hearing, “Oh you’re Charles’ wife!” :)

Daddy (aka Charles) switched careers six months ago and is doing well at his new job. It has kept him busy nights and weekends, but mostly because he wants to do well and enjoys being challenged by it. When he’s not doing IT support for graftedbranch.org he is looking for ways to better himself and help others. He’s my math man and I love the way he can work helping orphans and kids at risk into our budget. I’m very proud of him. For the first time in our marriage he is up before I am and working hard before I open my eyes. He has also taken up running and it’s a lot of fun when he gets back from a run around our neighborhood and the kids yell, “Daddy daddy daddy!” like he’s been gone all day. :)

Okay as I wrote this post both my children got into a bag of Hershey kisses and ate the whole thing. They have little guilty chocolate mouths and the whole house is littered with foil wrappers. Oh and the littlest had been wiping his mouth on my favorite blanket. Now they don’t want breakfast. This may be why I haven’t had a ton of time to blog recently. ;) :) :)

Well I didn’t plan on blogging until I got three emails from three different people reminding me it had been a month since my last blog post. :) As I go clean up chocolate fun I’ll leave you with some random pictures. :)

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Roland and Iorek

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The cool wheelchair lift down the street. We have no way of getting up the hill otherwise.

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Laelia fell asleep while cleaning.

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Getting her Sparks award

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A ribbon for finishing her book.

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Roland was the loudest cheering section during the awards ceremony.

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Roland learned to open the back screen door.

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We found him playing in our weed pile.

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He also let the cat out.

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Then chased her around.

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This is Roland’s new ability to reach things he dropped on the floor so Laelia doesn’t have to retrieve his stuff all the time.

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My monkey.

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Laelia’s picture of her family. She loves writing our names.

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Gangsta Rollin’

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Playing Sorry (kinda old picture, he’s out of casts obviously.)

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The other day the kids decided to move all the chairs from the kitchen into the living room up the ramp for NO REASON. For days my living room was an obstacle course.

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Cute face.

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Plotting and hugging.

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Car seat and stroller for Iorek.

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Writing letters.

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Oven mitt robot… his favorite thing to steal from my kitchen when I need it.

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His stick ‘em up sleeping pose.

And just for fun because this just happened.

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Check out wrappers in the corner she was hiding under the ramp.

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Found on couch. Suspicious.

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“Caught this one eating chocolate in our bedroom.”