Friday, March 7, 2014


So, several people have asked about Harris' transition to public school. It's great. His teacher could not be more wonderful. She is an encourager and a nurturer and her kindergarteners follow her around like little ducklings. She accepted Harris, thrust into her classroom on day one after Christmas break, with grace and kindess and has done everything she can to help him succeed. Harris loves it. He thinks school is awesome and will quite possibly be saddened to learn summer exists.

He did tell me today that he misses getting to play in his room, so maybe not.  Homeschooling him was necessary for a season and I'm glad we did it. When you have a 2:1 student:teacher ratio, you get to move faster. Not because the student is brilliant or the teacher is gifted, just because there is less going on. That is the part that bums be out about him being in kindergarten. He is just sort of hanging out. However, things come up like Presidents' Day, and he is magically taught information about the holiday that I didn't spend hours putting together. That part is AWESOME. We covered all the holidays at home but it required considerably more work on my part and I have to say I don't miss it. At this point, Caroline's reading teacher has been tackling that so I can focus on regularly scheduled programming.

Also, Harris has been playing football. I knew the temperature was supposed to drop that day but I had no idea how much! It was muggy and warm the last time I checked and was in the low 40's and windy by the time we got there! It was miserable. Notice in this picture how the ref is dressed vs everyone else. Half the boys are wearing shorts. The only ones who had on something else lived close enough to run home or have the other parent bring things. 

Harris and Caroline were rock stars and neither one complained one time. Bless their hearts. 
We had to leave to get blankets. Harris could hardly move his fingers but he was still going after flags.

I told Caroline that we were 'die-hard' fans to watch in that weather (without being prepared) and she told me next time she just wanted to be a normal fan. Ha! Me too! 

Soooo, update here. Caroline started school this week too. 

I have VERY mixed emotions on this. She's in school because homeschool turned into a huge disaster. I have no idea what the root of the problem was. Did she want me to fight for her to stay home? Was she mad because Harris was in school? Was it a control issue? Do we have a bad school dynamic? I have NO idea. I approached it from every angle I could think of to try to get back on track and it was just getting worse. I considered just skipping everything but reading and focusing on connecting with her. But she is six. Well, a rule of thumb is that an adopted child is generally half their emotional age, which we have found to be accurate. She's six sometimes and three sometimes but the times she is six she needs intellectual stimulation and the times she is three she needs me to be around. So I just don't know. What was obvious is that our relationship was not being strengthened at this point with her being home. It was causing stress on everyone involved and it was time for something new. Her teacher is not what anyone might call nurturing and Caroline prayed after the first day for 'her tummy not to be nervous that her mommy wouldn't come back.' That's always a fear in her mind right now and she seems to be basically on her own each day to sort it out. That is ripping my heart out. However, this happened with Walker. I didn't know how to advocate for him until another adult treated him unkindly. Maybe this is the same thing. And I would not say her teacher is unkind; she is just somewhat distant. Maybe that will help in learning to establish healthy boundaries. Regardless, my primary focus right now HAS to be solidifying a relationship with her. Taking academics off the table and just being her mom has been refreshing. We played princess and read books today and just enjoyed each other. It was much needed.

There is nothing to worry about with her being up to grade level, though. Her very first day, they had a spelling pre-test. She spelled all of the words correctly and was given the 'challenge' words to learn for the test at the end of the week. That is crazy! A child that did not know the names of colors, much less letters, in June is in the 'challenge' portion of spelling by March. She does not mess around. She also wanted to take the training wheels off her bike when Harris did his. She couldn't sit on a swing or jump on a trampoline 8 months ago and now she is throwing caution to the wind to keep up with her brother. And she's doing it! I'm so proud of her!

In other news, Officer Walker's occupational therapist is doing amazing things for him! I had no idea things like this were possible. He's been evaluated for occupational therapy services before and has never qualified, which was puzzling to me. His fine motor skills rock but his gross motor skills are delayed and more than that he is clearly physically just 'off.' He was finally given an extensive sensory evaluation and that did the trick. His OT texted me to say she input his scores twice because he came out with such a dis regulated profile that it didn't match how he looked in person. For my fellow statistics people, the way this evaluation is scored is looking at the distance from the mean. Walker scored two or more standard deviations (the highest measure) on almost every category. He is sensory seeking and his body has no idea he is moving. She spins him on a sit and spin, where he stands up with his head upside down touching the sit and spin, spinning around. He thinks it's funny when he should be vomiting. We have been doing something called the Wilabarger protocol, which is brushing his limbs and back with a brush every 90 minutes and then doing joint compression on each joint. It sounds like voodoo but is literally changing him before my eyes. The first day we did it, he told me a story of something that had happened a couple of weeks before and used a more extensive vocabulary than I've ever heard from him. This was significant because he generally speaks like a younger child and only talks about what is happening right in front of him. 

Also, he is using a weighted blanket and sleeping through the night! He had been on melatonin, which didn't work. His developmental pediatrician gave him something stronger and it didn't work. He would wake up every single night and play. Can you imagine how you would feel if you never slept an entire night? We knew it mattered but had no idea how to help him sleep. The weighted blanket is great for him. We put him to bed for the first time tonight without medicine and so far so good. Since we started the brushing, he often says he is tired. He sits in my lap and is content to just cuddle and hang out. That has NEVER happened. His OT's input is that he isn't tired, he's just relaxed for the first time. He's only ever felt that way at exhaustion so all he knows to say is that he is tired. Bless his heart, he's finally able to feel relaxed! I am amazed at the conversation we've been able to have and the change I've seen in him in the past few weeks. It's attributed entirely to what his OT has been been doing. I'm so thankful.

Hayes is trucking right along. We finally celebrated little his birthday. The weekend before I was out of town because a family member was in the hospital and the day of Walker went in the hospital for a few days so his celebration got pushed back. 
Belatedly, I realized he has no idea that light you a candle...

 you sing a song....

You sing the whole darn song.....

blow out a candle....

THEN you get the cupcake.

He was not a fan of waiting for the thing. Noted.

 What were we thinking with a piano??? Rookie move, but they all four like it.

He carefully opened his other gifts.

He looks like a child that may have had things snatched from his hands. But not this time. 

Hayes has also developed an attachment to a certain hat. 

He is killing me with all the cuteness. I love this sweet sidekick.

I am still working from home when I find babysitters to help control the crazy. Most of our sitters have graduated and gotten real jobs or gotten married, or both. I joined to try to find fresh meat and NO ONE wants to watch four kids. No one.  I even put in my add on sittercity that our babysitters do come back and it's not as nutty as it sounds. There's not a chance I would put on there that one has special needs. We will discuss it when we have lured them in. :) We need backup becuase this picture is much closer to reality than any of the others!

Tom and I are taking a parenting class geared towards adoptive parents called Empowered to Connect. It has readings from a few different books each week, homework, and the class is a discussion/lecture format for two hours each week. We've heard these ideas before but this helps cement what this looks like in real life. The interesting thing is that most of it focuses on the parent's reaction and helps you to remember to see through the child's lens. For three months, before we had heard of any of these concepts, we tried parenting Caroline in exactly the way we parented Harris. It was miserable and disastrous. I really don't know where we would be without having been exposed to this. I'm not sure we would have had a chance at being a functioning family. It's all proven by data (children's cortisol levels, etc) but it's really looking at the way God parents us.  It gets into brain development and how the child's history impacts that and what role you as a parent have as well. It's all about fostering relationship. It is NOT 'spare the rod, spoil the child.' I am so glad God has gifted Dr. Purvis and her team with this knowledge, insight, and passion to advocate for orphans becuase it's changing lives. If anyone is adopting or know someone that is, this is an excellent video. It's only five minutes long. :)

Counting the Cost of the Journey from Tapestry on Vimeo.

"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."
John 14:21

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