Saturday, April 26, 2014


Last Sunday was Isabelle and Hallie's first Easter, and it was probably the nicest holiday we have had since the girls came home. I have mentioned in earlier posts that Isabelle struggles with a lot of stress. She gets stressed if she feels like we don't approve of her. She gets stressed if she feels like mealtime is going to be late. She gets stressed if other people get second helpings before she does. Or if she is the last one to get her shoes on in the morning. Or if Greg steps outside and she can't see him. Unfortunately, she spends a lot of her time stressed. We have seen a lot of improvement in this area in the last few months, but one thing that has still caused lots of anxiety for her is any deviation from our normal routine. Even if it is a fun change, she ends up distressed and unhappy. I don't think she enjoyed anything about Christmas this year. Decorating cookies made her stressed. Cutting down the tree made her stressed. And so did decorating the tree. And opening presents. And visiting with family. Everything about it was different than her normal routine, and she did not like it. Valentine's Day was a little better, just because it is a lower-key holiday, but she still didn't enjoy it. When I tried to help her decorate her Valentine's bag, she just wrung her hands and shredded stickers all over the table. I wasn't expecting Easter to go well, but to my surprise, she did great! She is really learning to trust us for her stability, instead of needing such a strict routine, and it is exciting to watch that happen.

She loved dying Easter eggs with the Rosenow kids.

She loved her new Easter Dress! As soon as she saw it, she began clapping her hands and trying to jump up and down (still doesn't quite have the coordination for that yet), and told me, "Oh cute!"

She even enjoyed the Easter egg hunt, although her poor vision made it difficult for her to find very many.

Hallie has always been more relaxed about holidays than Isabelle, and she did great, just like we expected. She wasn't crazy about dying the eggs, though, because she is still really funny about touching food of any kind. You can tell by the look on her face that she thought we were crazy for expecting her to touch the egg in the strange-looking liquid.

She also looked super cute in her "Easter dress," which some of you may recognize as the same dress she was wearing last year in Guangzhou. It was too cute not to use again.

She didn't really want to look for Easter eggs during the hunt, but she had a wonderful time playing on the swing while the other kids hunted.

And finally one group shot of all the kids. Gabriela looks like she is crying, but she promised me that she wasn't sad; the sun was just in her eyes.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2014

World Down Syndrome Day (a LONG update)

It has been about four months since I have updated this blog, and our life has changed in many ways. We have been so busy that I haven't thought much about blogging, but it just seemed wrong to let today pass without some sort of an entry. I remember March 21 from last year so clearly still. Our paperwork had been submitted to China, and we were stuck waiting. It was a pretty sad day for me because my girls were still so far away, but I remember looking forward to this year when all three of my little ones with Down Syndrome would be together. I promised that there would be cute pictures on 3-21 of this year, so here they are. I will combine a brief recap of the last four months with a few pictures of my girls.

Many of you already know the big family news, but just in case anyone hasn't heard yet, we are expecting a baby in June. We are having a little girl, whom we are naming Victoria. I was really sick for the first few months of the pregnancy, which is one of the reasons that I wasn't able to update this blog, but I feel much better now.

Update on Mikaela:
We really don't have a whole lot to report about her. She is thriving in every area as always. She is fully potty-trained, both during the day and at night. Her vocabulary grows almost daily, and I think her articulation must be improving as well, because strangers are occasionally able to understand her, and that hasn't been the case before. She is learning to play memory games and really enjoys that. Her big obsession right now is The Little Mermaid, and most of her Christmas presents were Ariel themed in some way.

Update on Isabelle:
Isabelle has made incredible progress in many areas since November. Just before Thanksgiving, we finally got her fitted for a pair of glasses, and she has blossomed since then! We had strongly suspected that many of her difficulties were vision related rather than motor or cognitive, and that has certainly proven to be true. Her walking improved almost overnight once she could see where she was going, and she is far more confident in every area. The first morning after she got her glasses, she spent all of breakfast time looking around at everyone and smiling and waving. I think it was the first time she had been able to see all of our faces clearly. She still has essentially no depth perception, because her eyes don't work together at all. We are now patching her stronger right eye for half an hour each day in an attempt to improve that for her. If this doesn't work, she will probably have to have surgery at some point in the future.

In December, Isabelle had her heart repaired in a simple surgery. She only spent one night in the hospital, and doesn't even have a scar from it. The nurses all fell in love with her, and one of them even gave her a stethoscope to keep.

Isabelle is also potty-training. We didn't have any intention of trying this with her until she learned a bit more English and was more confident in our love for her. Once she saw us potty-training Matthias, though, she was emphatic that she wanted to potty train too. Every time I put him on his little potty, she said, "Mommy, me pot!" Finally we bought her a little potty and let her try. She is amazing! I would say she is probably 85% of the way trained during the day now. I remind her to go every so often, and she rarely has more than one accident in a day. For the past three days, she hasn't had any accidents! I am hoping she might be all they way there by the time the baby comes.

Yesterday, she had her first dental cleaning, and did great! She doesn't have a single cavity. This was a shock to us, because her teeth had never been brushed before she came to live with us. I don't think I have ever heard of a child being adopted from an orphanage as old as she was without any cavities at all. We are really thankful for this news. At the end of the cleaning, she was allowed to choose a toy out of the "treasure chest" and picked a little tiara. She is becoming quite a girly-girl, and really enjoys anything pretty and shiny. I love seeing her personality emerge.

Update on Hallie:

The biggest news about Hallie is that she is eating!! We have been working with her since the day that she came to live with us to try to get her to eat anything by spoon, and she is finally doing it. She actually eats three meals a day now, and takes one or two bottles. She is still pretty thin, but we are starting to see her fill out. We can tell she is healthier because her hair is growing thick and soft now, instead being thin, coarse, and rusty-looking like it was when she came home. She continues to be happy and affectionate and is an absolute joy to be around almost all the time. She is very emphatic about being Mommy's baby, and we expect that she will have the most difficult transition once Victoria arrives. She does not like to share my attention or my lap.

Happy World Down Syndrome day!