Sunday, May 13, 2012

Celebrating Three Months Home

Our last month has been busy seeing and learning and doing new things!

We had a fun music play date with our DSACT InkDot friends.  We met lots of new friends who also happen to have extra chromosomes just like us!
Hannah - Playing with a rain stick.  Brother is with us (in the yellow shirt).

Naomi - "I found a tambourine!" (Hannah, Nathan and Sarah are in the background.)

We visited Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls, Texas and picked blackberries and strawberries. It was the first day for blackberry picking, so we had lots to fill our box.
"I'm not sure I like those thorns..."

Don't these look the yummiest?!

We visited the goats. We weren't too keen on actually petting them, but we checked them out.
Naomi (back seat) & Hannah (in front)

Feed me, please!  Pretty, please!

And to celebrate our Three Month Anniversary with our family - we had Strawberry Sundaes made with the fresh strawberries from the farm!  Yummy!
Hannah - "Oh, I'm ready for this!"

Naomi really likes strawberry sauce!

All in all, the girls are growing and doing very, very well! They have officially been home for 3 full months as of May 9th.

Hannah has gained 5 pounds and grown 1.5 inches since coming home. She is gaining a noticeable amount of muscle in her legs and arms. She's already filled about 1/2 of the "growing room" that was allowed in her AFO braces.  It might not be too long before she outgrows these. :)

Naomi has gained 5 pounds and grown 1/2 inch since coming home.  She is filling in and also gaining some noticeable muscle in her calves. She lost her first tooth here, but must have swallowed it.  We couldn't find it anywhere. It was there and 5 minutes later it was GONE! Nowhere to be found....

We had evaluations and assessments with the school district this month, too.  The day was busy with lots of questions about what the girls can do, what they might understand, and lots of chances to show what skills they have and what we can build upon.  I'm waiting on the school folks to finish their reports on their findings and recommendations and we'll get together to see how we proceed with an education plan for them.

In delving over developmental milestone charts and filling out assessment forms for the school, the girls seem to be generally at about an 18-months-old developmental level in most areas.

Hannah is making great progress in walking. She is very motivated to be mobile right now. She's able to take several steps by herself.  Her balance is still wobbly, but she's able to go a little farther on her own. With assistance holding her hands, she can go a good distance down a long hall or across a big room. She can cruise the furniture and walls with ease.  She has only a few ASL signs she will do, but doesn't show a lot of interest in doing it now.  She can mimic or copy signs, but doesn't usually use them independently. yet. This is not a big deal.  Many kids with Down syndrome will be busy working on one big milestone task, and will often stall, or put learning other big tasks on the sidelines while they mastering one.  That seems to be just what she's doing.  We're also still working on playing with toys without throwing them across the room or accidentally hitting someone with them. Maybe she can be a star softball pitcher one day. This girl has an arm that can throw!

Naomi is our quiet observer.  She is more motivated right now to communicate rather than walking.  And that's perfectly fine.  She has about 20 ASL (American Sign Language) signs that she uses independently and appropriately. In her repertoire, she can ask for food, drink and bath now.  She can sign:  up, down, all done, brush teeth, eat, drink, banana, milk, more, please, night night, bath, dog, shoes, go, rabbit, hugs, wash hands, brush hair, turn around, and a few more that I can't think of right now.  There's quite a few more we're still working on. She loves to watch and listen.  This week she also surprised us by pointing to something she wants - which of course is bananas. The girl loves bananas! She is figuring out cause & effect pop-up and musical toys. She likes to get up on a chair and watch while I wash dishes.  And she figured out how to climb three stairs this week!  The baby gate stopped her or she might have made it to the top.

We still have a number of doctor appointments that will keep us busy over the summer.  That and playing outside as much as we can until it gets just too hot.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Back to the Dentist

Monday, March 28, 2012

We headed back to the dentist for another cleaning.
Naomi is signing "brush teeth" while we wait for Dr. Kelly.
Because Naomi's teeth and gums are in such poor shape, we are doing a little cleaning each time.  She's a great patient and we go for as long as she'll tolerate at each visit.  Then we give her a little break, give the gums some more time to heal and then we'll go back.
Watching "Meet the Robinsons" on the overhead screen.
All done!
All smiles!

New Legs!

Hannah was fitted for some nifty AFO (Ankle-Foot Orthotic) braces this month and has been wearing them for a couple weeks now.

Her feet are very flat (common to Down syndrome) and they also turn under severely.  So much that she's almost walking on the insides of her ankles. Ouch!  These will help to support her ankles, while positioning them properly for walking and standing. It will also help her to have better balance as she's still learning to walk independently.

I wasn't sure what to expect when we went for our fitting.  But they turned out really, really cute!  They have a heart patten on them and they are incredibly thin and lightweight.  We even able to use the tennis shoes that she was already wearing.  The braces that Naomi was wearing at the orphanage are about 3 times heavier than these.  Hannah wasn't sure at first, but once he put them on, she was all smiles and was up and walking right away.  Now she actually helps me to fasten the velcro when we put them on.
Cute pattern!

Spring in Texas

I just love the Spring weather in Texas.  My all-time favorite part is the beautiful Bluebonnet flowers that blanket the fields this time of year.  Here are a few pictures from the last two weeks as we have enjoyed the fantastic Spring weather!

Hannah on the swing.

BIG smiles!

Sarah and Naomi - Sisters!

 Do you notice the green grass?  The drought we've had the past two years left our pastures dry and dusty.  We've been blessed by good rains over the last 3 months, so we have some thick, deep grass now.  The girls have NEVER put their bare little feet on grass before. So we tried it out.... and as of now, they are NOT impressed!  Too funny!  I'm sure over time they'll come around as they see their brothers and sister walking in it.
Hannah has the most beautiful blue eyes.
Loving the sunshine!
All that playing just tuckered me OUT! (Hannah)
The other benefit of the rain has been the beautiful bumper crop of Bluebonnet flowers this year. And our neighbor has a fantastic patch we could take some pictures in....
We've also enjoyed some really warm days and the kids begged me to get out their little wading pool. Do you think they liked it???

You should have heard the endless laughter and squeals!  Now they could splash and make the big mess they want do in the bathtub.

And i just have to share this one since it's so funny.... Naomi doesn't yet chew and eat big or hard foods, but she was sure interested in my slice of pizza one evening....
Soon enough, Little One...

Tiny Little Teeth

March 7, 2012

We went to see out favorite dentist - Dr. Kelly.  We've gotten to know her quite well over the last 3 years as we've ventured in every 3 months for cleanings.  She's a mom and her kids are very close to the same ages as mine.  She has many kids in her practice that have special needs, and she is sensitive to meeting them where they need it.  And she has the most kid-friendly office I've ever been to. From the entry with a huge colorful mural that covers 3 of the 4 walls in the waiting room, down to each treatment bench that is equipped with a flat-screen monitor showing latest releases of kid movies. Get that! The kids get to watch movies while having their teeth cleaned!

When I was a kid all I got to watch was the dentist's nose hairs move back and forth as he breathed.  Lucky little buggars!

Naomi was first up on the bench since her teeth would take the most work today. Her poor teeth are in the poorest shape I have ever seen. They are brown-to-dark-gray along the gums of almost every tooth. She has strong bad breath. Every time I have brushed her teeth up to this point, her gums bleed horribly.

As Dr Kelly looked her over and began scraping and cleaning, her poor little gums just bled like crazy.  And Naomi was such a quiet little trooper. She obviously isn't a fan of having her teeth scraped, but neither am I.  Dr. K also said that this is the first time in her years of practice that she has ever seen full-blown periodontal disease of the baby teeth.  This is where the infection and decay has gone down into the jaw bone. She is losing the bone material in the jaw that holds her teeth in place and keeps them from moving or falling out.  The good news is that once we can get to the point of clearing up the decay and infection, when her adult teeth come in, she will be able to regrow the bone for her adult teeth, thus reversing the damage she has now.

So we will be trekking back to see Dr. K every two weeks until we can get Naomi's teeth and gums back to healthy status. We have Doctor's orders to brush her teeth 2-3 times a day and using an oral rinse twice a day until she's all better. It's a darn good thing she doesn't mind me brushing her teeth!  Hannah sure doesn't.

Hannah was up next for her exam.  She tends to be much more orally defensive and does not like hands around her face. She gets stressed very easily.  I was sure this would be a tricky and very loud examination. I knew the exam table would be a challenge.  But Dr. K is great and knows just how to work with kids and parents.  We did something she calls a "lap exam".  I sat in a chair and held Hannah in my lap. Dr. K sat in another chair directly across from me, our knees almost touching. I laid Hannah back so she was laying across our legs and her head was in Dr K's lap. They moved the light over to us and we worked right there.  I was able to hold Hannah's hands down while Dr K cleaned. Of course Hannah cried and screamed the whole time. I'm sure she must have scared every poor kid who was in the waiting room.  But it worked out well.  The more she cried, Dr K was able to get a clear view and examine and brush/clean her teeth really, really well!  But Dr. K was super-fast and was done with her in less than 10 minutes.

AND NO CAVITIES! I couldn't believe it! There is evidence that she grinds her teeth, but otherwise her teeth look great and her gums are healthy! She doesn't have to go back for another 6 months!

 We got our ballons and stickers and headed out.

As is our usual custom after the dentist visit, we go to CiCi's Pizza buffet for lunch.  I had promised the kids we would go, but as we rounded the corner I had immediate regret.  There were two school buses unloading out front.  I didn't see the kids go in, but I could just envision that it was the high school football team and they would eat all the pizza and it would be really loud.  I expressed to the kids that I wasn't sure about this choice, but my son begged to go anyway.

About that time, I saw that they were unloading two students in wheelchairs from the second bus.  I realized it probably wasn't the football team and felt better about going ahead with the plan.  And I'm really glad I did!

We walked in and I suddenly realized that every kid in there had some special need.  These were kids from the local high school and this was a special outing for lunch.  There were 3 kids in wheelchairs, 3 young men with Down syndrome, and a whole host of others.  Probably 30 kids in all.  I have to say it was the most beautiful thing I've seen.  And here we were with our two newest girls who have Down syndrome. We fit right in!

And I have to add.... this was Georgetown High School that publicly celebrated TWO kids with Down syndrome recently.  Their student body voted two students with DS as Homecoming King and Homecoming Queen in 2010! You can read more about them HERE. Be sure to watch the video.

I have to say that I had to choke back tears as I sat there having lunch with my kids.  Here I was sitting in a room full of kids who are included and cared for. They have the opportunities to go to school. They have access to good medical and dental care.  Their parents are no longer told to send them away to institutions anymore.  I sat there remembering the orphanage and the hope that Hannah and Naomi did NOT have in their country. They both had already been scheduled to be moved to a mental institution.  While they are still scrawny, small and underweight right now,  I sat there happy and overcome with the hope that they now have in their lives and their futures.

Even as I sit here recounting, I still well up with tears.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weight Check!

March 1, 2012  we stopped by the doctor's office for a weight check.

Naomi now weighs 27 pounds, up 2 pounds from her weight taken on February 13, 2012!

Hannah now weighs 26.5 pounds, up 2.5 pounds from her weight on February 13, 2012!

I'm sure much of this from becoming re-hydrated. The girls are both already looking so much better and we can see that they are filling in nicely.

We finished the medication for the intestinal parasites, and the new checks came back clear!!!

Happy Birthday, Little Princess

March 2, 2012

Today Naomi celebrated her 8th birthday.  But today is the first birthday she celebrated outside of the orphanage with her new family.

We started off the day with color sprinkles on our morning cereal....
Every Princess should start her birthday with color sprinkles on her cereal!
We sang Happy Birthday countless times throughout the day....  which were always greeted with her sweet little smiles.

We wanted to celebrate at IHOP for a pancake dinner, but our plans were delayed to do a flat tire on mom's van. So mom whipped up some pancakes at home.  A couple days later we celebrated with cake at Grandma's house!
Not sure I know this song, yet...
Brother and Sister are showing her how to blow out the candles.  There's so much to learn about this birthday thing...
Happy Birthday, Sweet Naomi! You are celebrated today and everyday.  May you have many more celebrations to come!  We love you so much!!!