Archive for the 'hooray' Category

Roland took his first steps! HE IS WALKING!!!

Monday, November 26th, 2012

On November 15th, 2012 Roland took his first steps! I had the worst cold of my life and had lost my voice so all the cheering him on just came out air. :) Click here to see his very first ever steps!!!

And here’s a video of his longest walking stretch that day. He falls at the end, but after the initial fussing he was begging to get up and “wok” again. :) I just wanted to take more medicine and go to bed, but Rolly pleaded for me to do more walking with him. He couldn’t turn since his little make-shift walker lacked caster wheels so after he ran into something he’d whine for me to turn him around.

So proud of himself!

Love his little monkey tushy. :)

For weight we put a bag of quinoa in the seat that we drew a face on and called “Keenwah baby.”

Although he was falling a lot, Roland was taking more and more steps! But then two days before Thanksgiving he got a cast change which left him hurting and miserable. He couldn’t weight-bear, stand or even crawl. Poor guy has to have a new transition every two weeks as his body changes slightly through casting and he has to relearn how to do everything all over again.

Before

After

But check out the progress we’re making! Less than a month left of upper body casts! Look how bendy those arms are!

*Someone* was happier about the trip to the hospital than the other one. She was great and helped Rolly all through the casting process.

Oh and speaking of Laelia, she walked the entire day. I forgot her wheelchair and her walking sticks, but instead of going back for them she begged to walk. She walked from the parking garage to the elevator to the hospital to the casting area to McDonalds and back to the parking garage. (Those who have been to Rady’s know what a huge distance that is!) And she did it all without walking sticks! Just held my hand for some of the rougher terrain. Incredible!

She wanted her hair done up before we left with the bows we won at the auction to bring Igor home from the orphanage. People would compliment her hair and she would say, “And my walking is great too!” :)

Two days after his casting change Roland was feeling much better and started to grab his “walker” and fuss at me to stand him up. Quinoa baby had broken through the material in the toy stroller so we had to make due with a ten pound weight attached to the bars. Eventually he was walking EVEN BETTER than before! Know what helped the most? We got him a walking coach. She works for cookies.

Click here for the video of him learning to walk with Laelia.

Click here for the video of him “racing” Laelia. I no longer hovered as he was no longer falling!

My babies both walk!!!

Take THAT arthrogryposis!

Victoria has a family!!!

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Okay did you see my post below? Did you see Victoria’s picture in that heart image I made? Well today we’re celebrating! Today is wonderful! Today Victoria has a family!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laelia is Victoria’s praying friend.

Laelia was student of the week a couple weeks ago and did a poster about herself. When it asked what she wished for (bottom right of poster), she wished every AMCer like her could have a mom and dad. We printed out their pictures and taped them to her poster.

In the bottom right you can see Victoria’s picture. Laelia prays for Victoria every single night.

When I told Laelia that Victoria had a family she screamed.

Then she asked if we could throw a party. :)

Love it!

My kids rock!!!

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Remember the video of Laelia walking up the ramp while crying because it was so hard? But she makes it all the way up just for the love of chocolate? Well check out this video under the same conditions only this time she walked from her bedroom, up the ramp and to the den without KAFOs!!! Chocolate did the trick again!

And remember this video of Roland learning to feed himself a graham cracker after a month of stretching those elbows? Well in this video he is FEEDING HIMSELF WITH A SPOON for the first time ever after two months of stretching and serial casting!

My kids rock!!!

Laelia is a walking, kindergartening super girl!

Monday, September 17th, 2012

I have to brag on my daughter for a bit. My big girl just started kindergarten and became a big sister all within the last few weeks. There have been a lot of transitions and changes going on around her, and she has been so mature about it all (most of the time). She’s been doing lots of big girl things, like helping her brother through his issues. And thankfully our friends have been there to make her feel loved. Here she is all dressed up for a party at Lauren and Ryan’s house. Chelsea came to pick her up and take her. She was so excited to go all by herself (as we couldn’t go out with Rolly yet) and  had me do her hair and dress her up. Then she made Roland pretend to be a prince and hold her hand. So cute!

She also is doing well in kindergarten despite the rough start. The school bus took her to the wrong school on her first day. She ended up in the nurse’s office for falling asleep in class so deeply that they thought she had passed out. She dealt with a little boy who hit her. She finished her first homework assignment. (Homework in kindergarten?! Boo.) She even convinced her aide that she was on the school lunch program and that she was a  vegetarian who had to eat cheese sticks. All this in the first few days of school!

Somewhere in there she’s learning letters and stuff. :) Except for Friday. Friday went like this:

Me: “Laelia what did you do at school today?
Laelia: “Watched Lion King and ate cupcakes. Oh I didn’t eat my sandwich because of the cupcakes.”
Me: “Did you learn anything today?”
Laelia: “Meh.”

Haha. Fortunately I’m *that* mom who calls school everyday to figure out how things really are. (Wonderful team, wonderful teacher, wonderful aide, wonderful school. And rest assured that they made her eat some of her sandwich. :))

She wrote, “I <3 Dad”

First day of kindergarten picture!

And here’s Laelia ten minutes before her school’s Open House. :-/

As far as the hard work Laelia has been doing in physical therapy, she has exciting new accomplishments to share! It all started in Ukraine when Laelia learned to walk without her crutches. She then brought that skill home to San Diego and was walking around the house for the first time ever. (Video here.) While I was back in Ukraine getting her brother Laelia learned to walk down a large step by herself. (Video by Linda  here.) And recently she mastered walking up and down the wheelchair ramp without her crutches! (Video here.)

Laelia’s boyfriend, Ryan, started to walk without his KAFOs (leg braces) and Laelia was super impressed. So we started standing every day for a few seconds in the mornings. She was up to 30 seconds, then a minute, then two! Finally she got up to three minutes! (Video here.) After that I had her start lifting one foot up slightly at a time, back and forth, like walking in place.

Then on Sunday, September 16th, she was “walking” in place so well that I handed her her crutches and dared her to take a few steps. She didn’t hesitate. She walked for the first time in her life in nothing but socks and shoes! No KAFOs (knee braces), no AFOs (feet braces) and no… pants. Well sue me. These things happen when they happen, and sometimes you’re not wearing pants. ;) (Video here.)

The next day she was walking quite a bit further, maybe five yards. And she asked me if someday she could walk without any braces or crutches or anything. (Video here.) In this video she specifically mentions wanting to walk up the ramp.

Off camera I said I’d give her some chocolate if she ever made it up the ramp and then she started to head towards the ramp! I  cautioned  her that she had only been walking for two days and the ramp was hard. She got a few steps up and started feeling the pain on those atrophied legs. I asked if she wanted to sit down. She said, “No, I’m going up the ramp. Take a video.” So I turned the video back on and watched as she bravely took one painful step after another. She cried the whole time, but wouldn’t give up even though she knew she could at any time. (Video here. And it’s hard to watch.)

I gave her a long leg massage after that and she felt better. Then she went to AWANA a couple hours later and even participated in game time!

I’m just so proud of my little daughter. (Although if she heard me call her “little” she’d correct me and say, “I’m a kindergartener,” with all the pomp of someone who just got their doctorate.)

And I love how independent and mobile she is. If I tell her to go to her room, she can walk there no matter where she is. If she’s sitting in the living room, she can scoot over to the step near the wheelchair ramp and use it to stand up and then walk without crutches to her room. That’s simply amazing. She puts on her KAFOs (full leg braces) and tennis shoes over them herself and then walks around the house opening doors and getting into things. I love this! And these abilities are new; just in time for her brother’s arrival and me needing more help from her.

Okay I have to wrap this up since I’m out of time and it’s late. Someday I’ll have more time and sleep and just happily blog away about my amazing children. :) In the meantime I’ll just be in awe of my little baby who is all grow’d up. Boohoo. Love her.

Best link on the Internets

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Click this! It’s the best link on the planet!

LINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Orphan no more! Home forever!

(Last night Chelsea took Laelia to a party and my hubby had to work until midnight so it was just Rolly and me.  I was just so emotional as I sat there and thought about all the people who helped us raise funds for our adoption. “Our adoption” was sitting in my living room, eating rice and grinning at me. Thank you all so much! Boohoohoo.)

The story of Roland continued

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  John 14:18

Being at home was surreal. We were legally a family of four, but could not claim our son from the orphanage until after the appeal time ran out. Not that we didn’t have plenty of distractions. I was unpacking and repacking, Charley was getting documents notarized, Linda (Charley’s sister) was moving in, Niki (our roommate) was getting ready to move out and Laelia was settling back in after a lot of travel. We were also trying to get return tickets set up, which after some back and forth turned out to be one-way tickets. I told Chelsea we didn’t know when we would get to come home. I’m super comforting like that. ;)

When Chelsea and I got to the ticket counter we were told that Ukraine may not let us enter with one-way tickets. It was pretty funny. I also think the guy thought Chelsea and I were adopting as a couple. Let’s just say you get a lot of strange questions when you travel with an empty car seat stroller (that Germany liked to lose).

Traveling without children is glorious. I highly recommend it.

When we landed I recognized Niko and all the sudden realized how comforting and familiar Kiev was. There’s the lemon and chocolate ice cream and there’s the random people in my personal space and there’s where I get  grivnas for my dollars and there’s the unbearable heat (which happened to be a record-breaker for Kiev). Home again home again. :) We were asked if we wanted to wait around for an hour for another family. It turned out to be Chris and Julie who we started this whole process with! Super exciting to see them again! In fact we also got to meet several adopted families who we’d been Facebook friends with but had yet to hang out with. It was a lot of fun!

AMC mommies

Then we settled into our apartment. Chelsea and I scored a better apartment than what my family and I shared a couple weeks earlier. We hauled some water up there and battled the multiple locks to get in. (Three locked doors until you get in the apartment, five locked doors until you get into the bedroom with the  meager  AC unit where we were huddled.) So we were plenty safe. I was so glad to have a friend for this part of the trip.

I’ve got to say that for the first week it was like a vacation. We did a lot of tourist-y things that I couldn’t drag my daughter to while we were here the first time. Plus I could now find my way around. Chelsea wouldn’t sit still so we had a lot of adventures. :) We mastered the metro. We saw all the sights. We visited anyone who was in Kiev for any reason who we kindof knew from Reece’s Rainbow. One night we got on a bus late at night going “somewhere” (we can’t read the signs) and got off after about six stops and found our way back. Just for fun. This was a grand adventure.

While I was gone for the two weeks, Laelia had learned two new tricks (Linda was taking over PT at home). She learned to walk down a step with her crutches (video here) and open doors (video here). She could not wait for me to get home and show off her skills. I was able to Facetime with her one morning and she was so darn cute and showed me how she also learned to lock and unlock the doors. (Ut oh! Haha!) She said she missed me and it about broke my heart. I love my little girl.

The first full day in Ukraine was a big paper chase. We were in a car for over six hours just so I could sign three pieces of paper. It was killer. But I finally got my son’s birth certificate! It now listed his new name and me as his mommy! That was super exciting.

At least they assure me that’s what it said. I can’t read a word of his birth certificate. Our last stop that day was to change his tax code. I guess it’s like our version of a SS number. They need to officially delete (or change, I wasn’t clear) the tax code to show that Yegor no longer existed now that his birth certificate has been changed to Roland. This needed to be done *before* we could apply for his passport. After waiting for hours it was clear something went wrong. Our driver was late to pick up the next family from the airport and we needed to leave. We just prayed it would work out.

It didn’t.

We couldn’t get Roland and take him to get his passport photo without this code change. We couldn’t get this code change. If we couldn’t get the process started on his passport then we couldn’t leave. And without reason to visit (like to get official stuff done on his passport) it was hard to get a driver from the team to take us to the orphanage since there were so many families in need of the team this summer. I posted the following plea for prayer on Facebook Thursday night: “We hit a snag in the paperwork processing part of this adoption. I’ll just say something went wrong and it kept us from getting Roland’s passport photo today or seeing him. It’s been five days and I have yet to hold him, and it may be four days before we can move forward in this process if they don’t fix it tomorrow before the weekend. We’re now behind and may be looking at more days here.”

The next day we waited around for hours for Niko to call us. Finally we got word that we could move forward and at least get the passport photo taken, although the problems had not been completely resolved. We jumped in  the car and drove to his orphanage. I was so excited to see my baby again!

First we had to drive down the road to get a picture taken for our embassy appointment. Upon entering the car for the very first time Roland burst into pathetic, fearful tears. It broke my heart. I started singing to him and he only  whimpered  occasionally after that. Cars are scary. (Ukrainian traffic is more scary.) Once out of the car he hammed it up for the first pictures. He is so darn cute! Then we had to make the long drive to Kiev to get his passport pictures taken. I sang and rocked and comforted. He did okay, considering this was all so new, with only this occasional whimper. It was his nap time, but he couldn’t sleep through something like this, even with the rocking motions. His eyes were wide the whole time.

I sang every song I could think of to him. From Christmas songs to Take Me Out to the Ballgame. I started singing How Great Thou Art, but when it came to the line of, “And when I think, that God, his son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,” I started totally choking up and tearing up. That was a no go. Wow, now that I have a son… well that means a lot more to me.

Finally we arrived for passport application and pictures and then got in the car to go all the way back. Poor little guy handled it like a champ. I think he was relieved to be dropped back off at the orphanage though.

Then the second of our delays happened. The person in charge of processing our passport had some sort of death in her family and was unable to be reached. So now we were waiting on a passport that was not coming, couldn’t reach the lady doing it (God forbid someone else takes over in this case), and without a passport in hand we could not finish our embassy appointments. We ended up going to the first embassy appointment without the passport. They said we had to bring it to our second and final appointment the next day. We hoped and prayed and waited but it never came. Also there was no word on if it was coming.

We had to cancel our second embassy appointment.

I spent $40 to visit the orphanage for seven minutes that day. It was suppose to be 30 minutes, but between delays and the nannies “getting him ready” our time was only seven minutes. I had just enough time to promise him I would come back for him. (It was either leave then or try to find our way back with a $100 taxi who didn’t speak English.)

The day we were *suppose* to book our tickets home  had come and gone. We were stuck. Chelsea had to work on Monday. I had an important medical appointment in San Diego for Roland on Tuesday with an adoption specialist. It was stressful. And part of the stress was that I didn’t have my little boy who was now legally mine.

So I made the decision to take Roland from the orphanage without having his passport. They recommend taking your child out of the orphanage closer to when you travel home so as not to confuse them with new living arrangements that don’t last. But the thought of leaving him in the orphanage one more day just hurt my heart. So I told the team I was taking him. When we arrived at the orphanage I was asked if I had an outfit for him. I didn’t. I had plenty at the apartment, but was under the impression that they sent them home with one. (They do.) They said, “Then maybe you wait and get him tomorrow.” Nah uh. I just offered to pay for the clothes on his back. It was  unnecessary  as they gave them to me. (Girl socks, pants four sizes too big and a shirt and sweater.) I also requested the blanket on his bed. They handed me a very stinky sheet. (It made my eyes water.)

I had asked to see how he ate his lunch. They put me in a white coat and led me up to the feeding room. Every child sat in a little chair and ate with a giant oversized spoon. Every child except Roland who was on the floor. They told me they fed him tea and stew. They warned that Roland has a tiny mouth and to put the spoon back in his mouth with little tiny bites on it. He didn’t know how to chew and just swallowed the food whole. Roland was “done” before the other children and he sat there watching them eat. Then I took him upstairs to finish signing him out of there. I felt strange in my white nanny coat.

This is the director of the orphanage and our driver, Niko. Both of these people are wonderful, and our family owes them a great deal.

We walked out of the orphanage forever. Here’s the video I posted in a previous teaser post.

He would never go back there. Never be left alone. We took him back to our apartment in Kiev. By this point the unbearable heat was gone and it was raining and cold. We walked around in the rain trying to find diapers since our local pharmacy (because they only sell diapers there) didn’t have any. (The umbrella scared him.) Roland was in the city with it’s noises and he was completely overwhelmed. He  buried  his head in my chest and threw up down my shirt. But finally we found some diapers.

And finally, like magic, the passport came through! We drove out to get it and held it like it was made of gold.

We quickly had Yulia set up a new embassy appointment for Thursday and booked flights home for Friday.

Unfortunately our friends Julie and Chris didn’t end up getting their passport in time and had to cancel their flights home. We visited them and their new son, Ryan, in their apartment before we left. Isn’t Ryan adorable?! They are the same size, but Ryan is several years older.

In Kiev Roland explored the apartment. He loved to turn on the microwave. (Who puts a microwave at toddler level?!) He loved to open and shut the hall door. When I tried to feed him lunch I realized that Roland has a lot of feeding issues. For one thing he doesn’t know how to chew. And I wasn’t about to stick a large spoon down his throat. The first stupid thing I did was feed him a grape that he choked on. Ugh. You’d think I’d never had a kid before. Then we tried little bites of pasta. We settled on baby food in jars and he happily ate that. Little guy couldn’t even bite off a tiny piece of graham cracker. Both Chelsea and I were pointing at our teeth and making exaggerated chewing motions. He sucked everything like a bottle (like chewy granola bars) or swallowed it whole (he gummed and swallowed an entire banana).

Roland got his first real bath. He loved the splashy fun. It was hard to scrub him as he was just a blur of motion. I learned he hates to have his little hands scrubbed so we had to pretend to play games with them. He was so happy. And he finally smelled wonderful. It was easy to curl up with him that night and smell his shampooed little head.

When it was time for bed I put his sheet (eww) on him for a familiar smell and curled up beside him. He didn’t move from that spot and slept almost through the night. This would be the last time this would ever happen. I’ll explain more on that later. It was so nice to sing him to sleep and hold his hand until he drifted off. His arms don’t bend so he sleeps with them out like this.

It had just been one day, one huge day, and his life was forever changed. He was loved. He would never be left again.

Our ride to the airport showed up at 3:00am the next morning. Roland said goodbye (he can wave bye-bye) to the team, and to Erika (Bernadette and Mason‘s mommy) who enjoyed loving on him. Travel was hard, not as hard as it could have been, but hard nonetheless. Roland still has belt burns on his skin where they made him put on a seat belt for the first flight and he twisted and freaked out. The next two plane rides I did not make him wear it. He freaked out and would slide to the floor, then would fall asleep, then would be fine, and then freak out again and slide to the floor. He threw up. He couldn’t keep liquids down. He choked on a tiny piece of bread. He pooped a ton and had to get changed on the plane which he hated. He screamed a lot. I’m sure the other passengers loved us. :) I got through half of the Avengers movie and that was the only break I really got. Even when he was calm I was still worried about him.

We arrived home completely worn out. Just by accident we ran into some church friends in the airport parking lot on their way back from a trip to visit family. I got to show off my new baby. It was fun and I was starting to regret not having a big reception when we arrived. (After 28 hours of travel, one big cheering crowd can’t really add too much more to the trauma, right?) Roland got to see his daddy for the first time in almost a  month. Even though I was starting to get sick to my stomach (probably from a bug I picked up), I was so relieved to be home. We were home.

And life was about to get interesting. And hard.

To be continued…

Videos

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Sorry I have been super busy and distracted with two kids at home and readjustments. I will update later, but thought I would post some videos in the meantime. Sorry this is all I have time for!

Click here to see the video of Roland leaving the orphanage for the VERY LAST TIME. Orphan no more!

Click here to see Laelia walking around the house WITHOUT HER CRUTCHES! (The noise Roland is making in the background is his “thinking” noise whenever he’s working something out in his head.)

Exciting times!

Family of Four

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Blog changes! It’s now not all about Laelia anymore, but about her brother too!

It’s official! We are now (legally) a family of four! Introducing Laelia’s new little brother and our new son, Roland!

We now have a Lalibug and a Rollypoly. ;)

Laelia is thrilled with her little brother when he’s not trying to grab her face with his “grabby hands” (her words). He also has arthrogryposis and, we’re guessing here, but we think it’s the exact same amyoplasia type as Laelia. Both of them look so much alike it’s going to be hard convincing people that amyoplasia is not genetic! :)

Laelia will be five on October 3rd and Roland will be two on October 14th.

There’s so much to say, but I’ve been pretty quiet in the blogging world to protect the privacy of this process. Just know that I’ll be catching you all up on our foreign summer travels, adoption and everything Laelia very soon. (She can now walk short distances on flat surfaces without her walking sticks! And she learned to climb up on the couch! She learned to do both those things while in a foreign country!)

We love our kids so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The history of Laelia’s knees

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The history of Laelia’s knees.

Once upon a time Laelia had bent knees. (Bent = flexion.)

We tried serial casting, daily stretches and finally KAFOs (knee ankle foot orthotics)  to try and straighten them out.

When we got down to 45 degrees flexion she was able to stand with KAFOs!

Even as we stretched her nightly and the KAFOs pushed her legs straight, those  stubborn  knees were still stuck in 40 degree flexion.

Then Dr. van Bosse did Laelia’s knee surgery to make her knees straighter. (Straight = extension.)

The surgical releases allowed her to gain about 15 degrees of extension overnight!

Still I was a little disappointed that her stubborn knees were still a bit bent.

But with the eight plates inserted we watched her very slowly gain a few degrees of extension every month. This picture is just two months after surgery!

Then last night at dinner I watched Laelia push her knee down to 0 degrees.

That’s perfectly straight.

PERFECTLY STRAIGHT!!!

Now I don’t have a  goniometer, but that looks like 0 degrees to me!

When she let go it was still within 5 degrees of perfectly straight!

They still bend a little when standing, but we are very happy that in three months we’ve gained almost ten additional degrees of  extension  with the eight plates! That’s amazing!!!

Praise God!

Thank you Doctor van Bosse!!!

I love it!

(Click on this picture to make it bigger and more readable. You don’t want to miss this!)

 

 

AMC friends

Monday, May 21st, 2012

This week we got to hang out with some awesome AMCers… and one bunny. :)

Laelia and Luke.

We got to go to Luke’s grandma’s house and hang out and play! I’ve got to say I love this family! We had some great conversations and a very nice time! (And Sarah can babysit anytime she wants!) Luke is adorable and has made me completely baby crazy. :)

Then yesterday we drove up north for a party!

And here’s Easton, the Birthday Boy!

Here’s us and Elliot’s family hanging out on the grass.

He wouldn’t let her hold his hand, so she grabbed his sleeve and yelled, “I got him, Mama!”

Cool presents!

Buddies Teresa and Laelia share secrets. :)

A plane went over! Look how cute they are!

Elliot, Easton, Laelia and Mikaela  all have AMC!

Their favorite thing was when Angie stepped over them. :)

Laelia LOVED the bouncy house!

My daughter is a lizard with a deadly tongue. ;)

She did this the entire way back. :)

We so enjoy hanging out with our AMC family!