Tuesday, March 31, 2009

He Ate Dinner!!

I made the mistake once of telling God what I could and could not handle in a child. When we began our adoption journeys 6 years ago, we (Jamie and I) both had experience with a lot of different disabilities. Me from growing up with a physically disabled sister and the exposure that brought to my family, which led to working as a respite provider for families with disabled children, and working in a variety of group home settings with adults. Jamie worked with disabled adults in a group home setting.

Our experience lead us to adopting a child with Down Syndrome, and we are now working on our fourth adoption of a child with Down Syndrome. I made it clear to the good Lord that autism was not something I could take on. He seems to be intent on proving me wrong.

We think Dante has autism. He is on a wait list to be evaluated, it will probably be at least 6 months before he gets an appointment. Dante has always had some occasionally troubling behaviors, but they have gotten worse lately. He developed a cold in early February, and had some eating troubles shortly after. We just assumed he had a sore throat, but here it is the end of March and he has regressed to baby food only. There is no medical reason, so the doctor and I think it must be sensory issues.

For a while we continued to try getting him to eat-- he used to love french fries, grapes, pasta, anything we ate he would too. Now when we try to feed him he bangs his head on the tray or back of his chair. Whenever he gets frustrated he bangs his head on the floor, or crawls to the end of the couch where he knows the stuffing is worn down and bangs there. We've taken to sitting on the floor to feed him so he won't give himself more bruises.

But tonight he ate dinner!! It was just shepherd's pie, and it took him a lot of fussing to work himself up to it, but once he got the first bite in he did not stop until it was gone. He was sitting on my lap, and I had portioned some out for him just in case, and he ate it!!

This does not mean I suddenly think he does not have autism after all, but I am so thankful for this baby step back to my happy boy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Special Olympics

Saturday Amelia participated in the Assessment Round for Special Olympics. It helps to determine her placement in the Summer Games this June. She, of course, was spectacular and had a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, I have one of the least expensive digital cameras out there, and it showed its lack of quality in the photos I tried to take of her routines. I gave up after a while and just have these 2 of her at the end. She was thrilled with her medal and participation ribbon.
What I found the most impressive that evening was the dedication of the Special Olympics volunteers. There is nearly one for every athlete. Their dedication is amazing, and I am very thankful for the teens and adults who are spending time every week helping. Every now and then (during my three hours sitting on the bleachers) a bored, distracted, or overstimulated athlete would take off across the floor, and his/her volunteer would patiently redirect him/her back to the mat where they were waiting. One of Amelia's coaches went through her floor routine with her, making sure she went through each step. By June Amelia might be able to do it with the coach just on the sidelines!
PS- Can you see where she trimmed her bangs?

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the Farm

Some friends of ours have been in the midst of a personal tragedy, their husband/dad was injured on their farm and is still in the hospital recovering. It has been an awesome experience seeing the outpourings of love for them, expressed tangibly through meals, farm help, and visits to Mr. G in his rehab hospital.

We are able to help as well, thankfully because of the flexibility we have in homeschooling. I have actually struggled with what to post about this, because I do not want to seem boastful or to be drawing attention to the good works of my kids. But they have been so blessed to be able to help with barn chores, and to put into practice what the Bible teaches about being a servant.

Zachary has been amazing, and Nikita loves to feed the calves. Zach and Nik are actually up there now playing with P and P. I took some pictures while I was up there last Wednesday, and tomorrow Amelia, Micah, and I will take the pictures in to Mr. G. It will be our first time visiting him; I have to admit that I am more comfortable mucking the barn than doing hospital visits. (Although I slipped and nearly fell into that muck on Wednesday, if that had happened I would probably revise my levels of comfort!)

Nikita and P are feeding Dan his milk. Dan has weak legs and it took a long time. P is next to Nik and all you can see is his glove as he steadies Dan's chin.

This is a picture of Nik, Zach, P, and P playing
hide 'n seek in the hay. You cannot see Zach and P because they are down in between the rolls of hay. It was a nice diversion for a few minutes!

This is Henry. I think he is absolutely hysterical looking with his "toupe" there on top. The poor guy must have had a bald spot!

My friend Meridith did not grow up near farm animals, and she has definitely had some learning experiences when she goes up to help. L had to explain to her that the wooden eggs do not get collected from the hen's nest boxes, just the real ones please!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Down Syndrome and Adoption

Yesterday I went to the Annual Convention of the Massachusett's Down Syndrome Congress. It was nice to be in the company of so many other parents of children and adults with Down Syndrome. A lot of parents had brought their infants who have DS, so there was a lot of oohing and ahhing over the adorable little ones. The seminars that I attended were excellent, and the keynote speaker was a very inspiring self-advocate.

The Conference was titled "Power of the Dream". After a while, it began to trouble me that there was so much talk about advocating for people with DS, educating others about not setting limits on people with DS, and empowering people with DS. All these families so determined to do right by their child. It was all important, but also so sad to know that there are so many orphans who have no voice, no advocate. It really cannot be just about our own children with Down Syndrome, it must be about all children with Down Syndrome. Where do the orphans fit in to the Dream?

The Lord gave me the opportunity on a number of occasions to discuss adoption with other parents. When asked as an opening to conversation how old my child with DS is, and do I have a boy or a girl, I get to say I have three special children. This naturally leads to the question of adoption. I was able to plant 5 seeds yesterday. I do not know if they will be watered and grow, but I know that 5 more people are now aware of the need to not only educate and advocate for our own children, but the need to educate the people of other countries and the directors of orphanages, and to advocate for the adoption of children with Down Syndrome. Maybe even one of those five will go on to adopt a special child.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maple Syrup!

Zach and I spent the last two days boiling down the maple sap. We started outside over a fire, but there was no way we could have someone out there for ten hours or more supervising it. And, honestly, he and I just could not get a good fire going. I guess building campfires will be our next project.
We all enjoyed a few hours outside in the balmy 50 degree weather.

We brought the sap inside and boiled it down on the stove. The pot in the picture was full of sap, with about four cups that would not fit in. And it is a BIG pot! The measuring cup on the left shows how much syrup we had in the end. 1 1/2 cups. It was barely 1/2 an inch high in the pan at the end. Of course, there was some tasting going on throughout the process to see how the sap was becoming sweeter as it evaporated, leaving the syrup. At one point Zach scooped out a cupful of the boiling sap and made a cup of tea with it. He said it was delicious!

This morning I made french toast and we used the maple syrup. There is actually just enough left for Jamie to try some tomorrow morning, after Zach (very thoughtfully) set some aside to give to Nana and Poppy.

This project was definitely a learning experience and well worth all the time put into it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Less Than Three Weeks!

I wish I was saying that about travel, but not yet. April 7th is Sunny's Hearing Date in Taiwan, and we will hopefully know soon after that when we can travel. Less than three weeks until a judge sees our adoption case!

In the meantime, life goes on here in the Lindsay household. Amelia's speech therapist is working with her on sentences. Together they look at a book, then use a pacing board to make a sentence. So far, most have been something like, "the dog is red" or "the girl is reading". Amelia now thinks every sentence should have "the" or "is" in it. Yesterday she came to me and said, "The Dante sleeping"- and indeed, Dante had fallen asleep on the floor. Each word was said separately and distinctly. I was quite proud of her! To keep the praise coming, she continued trying to make sentences. I asked Alexander to dish her some ice cream, so she said, "The Nanner ice cream is share". (I call him Xander.)

This morning she let me know "the ___ is broken". I really could not tell what she said is broken because of Dante's music toy playing, but she made an excellent sentence! She's trying!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Old Sturbridge Village

Today all of us but Nikita went to Old Sturbridge Village. It portrays life in 1830, and they were doing sugaring demonstrations this weekend. We also enjoy visiting in March because of all the newborn lambs!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What a Sap!

Zachary and I decided that we should tap some trees for maple sap and try our hand at boiling it down. We are by no means professional tree-tappers, and barely qualify as amateurs! So I bought four "taps" and yesterday Jamie, Zach, and I headed out into the yard with our make-shift drill, empty plastic juice bottles, and some string.

I said to Jamie, "Let's start with that big oak tree over there". To which he replied "OK" and started off in the direction of said oak tree. Hmmm, this is perhaps why we do not even qualify as amateur tree-tappers! Zach joined us and I tried the same joke on him. He did somewhat better, saying "Ok" but immediately following with "wait a minute!" and stopping.

We got the job done and today two of the bottles are already half full! I know a little about making syrup and that even if we get all 4 juice bottles filled (without the string breaking and them spilling all over the ground), it would boil down to enough syrup for one plate of pancakes. We are enjoying the anticipation so far though.

Tomorrow we are going as a family to Old Sturbridge Village to see their old-fashioned tree tapping and boiling down of the sap. I will post pictures-- if I remember the camera!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Being Lazy Can Be Good?

The kids and I try to do devotions every morning, along with reading two Psalms. I say try because we did not manage to make time for it Tuesday morning. I only have to admit to that because today by mistake I used Tuesday's Our Daily Bread for the devotion.

The first verse in the reading was Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."" After the reading of the devotion, we each have to share our thoughts on it. I shared about being content with what I have has been forced upon me somewhat lately because the driver's side window of my van will not go down. Typically, it is not unusual for me to run through the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru to grab myself one of those delicious coffees. Or, after going 45 minutes into Worcester for a doctor appointment with one or more kids, we would hit a McDonald's drive-thru for a snack of fries on the way home. (I could always justify calling it a snack, we rarely spent money on whole meals!)

But now with that non-working window, I am just too lazy to actually go in for that coffee or fries, especially since it would mean unbuckling the little ones so as not to leave them in the vehicle alone. So Zach asked if that means it is good that I am sometimes lazy. He's a the-glass-is-half-full kind of guy!

I have learned to be content to just drive by Dunkin Donuts. It is pretty sad that every time I drive by one and the kids see the sign Amelia will say "coffee!!" and Micah will say "donuts!!". Ame knows what I love, and Micah knows what he loves! (Double chocolate with frosting and sprinkles)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Amelia is 8!

On Wednesday Amelia turned 8! We started off the day by meeting Meridith at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Ame had the breakfast of champions, her style: Froot Loops, French Fries, and Bacon. The wonderful servers then sang Happy Birthday to Amelia and presented her with a hot fudge sundae.

Back at home, Nikita and I decorated cupcakes for Amelia to take to Family Night at church. I caught Micah sampling the frosting. He looks fairly unrepentant, and in fact turned his back on my seconds after I took this photo!

Amelia seems to be convinced she is 28, not 8. She is an adult trapped in a child's body. Here are some pictures of her assisting Dante with his ankle braces. I think it is cute that Dante has no problem with Amelia helping him. He is holding his shoe as he waits for her to tighten the velcro.

Here is an unrelated photo of Micah, just for fun. He had decided to play house in the bathroom but fell asleep!