Sunday, September 27, 2009

Published

Some of you may remember a post from a few weeks ago about AJ's last day in toddler group at CDHH. A few days after I posted, I received a call from the Communications Director at CDHH. She asked if they could feature AJ's experience with CDHH in the upcoming newsletter. The newsletter was just released, enjoy!

http://www.cdhh.org/fpimg/Infolink_Fall2009.pdf

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Unexpected Goodbye

About 2 weeks ago we said goodbye to AJ's SLP (Speech Language Pathologist). It was a rather unexpected, as we thought we would continue seeing her until mid-October.

When AJ's CI was activated, we began focusing on auditory/speech/language, checking in on his feeding skills here and there. He seemed to be doing just fine. We knew we would not continue with speech/feeding at CHW once AJ began school, as he receives speech during his school day, and heaven forbid we commit "duplication of services". Since we had visits covered for after AJ began school, his SLP tapped into his feeding therapy a bit more. That way, we could finish our covered visits and not waste them. It sort of reminds me of that roll-over minutes commercial with the Mom and Son. Cracks me up everytime I watch it.

During our last session, I found myself doing a lot of reflection. He was happy as a lark sitting and eating his peaches while I was remembering how long it used to take him to get used to the room, how we'd have to tag-team him to do therapy on the yoga ball, how he wouldn't let her touch his mouth...the list goes on and on. There he sat giving her fantastic eye contact, asking for more by signing the word multiples times, eating with a spoon, drinking from his cup. He has come a long way from when we started therapy. From not being able to hold his own bottle, having major oral sensory issues, not being able to hear or communicate, to this smiley little boy who charms his SLP to no end, who walks rapidly down the hall to "the door" where she comes out and gets upset if the door opens and she's not there yet, letting her in his mouth, who bit into and chewed a cookie for her, to sitting at the table for the entire session and doing activities, who tapped her hand for attention or something he wanted, to turning to her when she does the Ling sounds. It has been quite the journey.

So from here, Mommy becomes his feeding therapist. We can always return if we have an issue that comes up. We will still see Dione every few months, since she assists with his CI mappings!! Below are some pictures, unfortunately a lot of my good shots were taken with my previous cell phone, which blacked out a few months ago...meaning I lost them all. So, you may see just part of Dione in some of them.

Thank you Dione for everything you've done for our little man! We'll see you soon!!

CI Candidacy Testing-September 2008

Getting ready to HEAR for the first time- CI Activation April 2009


AJ looking up at Dione during CI Activation (I love this picture!)

Koss Cochlear Implant Program Picnic-July 2009

Playing with his all-time favorite toy at his last speech session

AJ and Dione during his last speech session-September 2009






Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Joy

There is no greater joy nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone's life.

Sister Mary Rose McGeady

Let's Talk Babies...Part 2

When the subject of babies comes up, so do questions. Lots and lots of questions.

"How many kids do you want to have?"
"When are you going to have kids?"
"So are you pregnant yet?"

Jeremy and I didn't arrive on the decision to adopt on a straight and narrow path. We struggled through infertility in a very different way than most. We hit walls before we were even able to begin treatment. We made a choice. We were offered the option of treatment that had about a 10% chance of working in our case and was more money than we were willing to risk for 10% or less odds. We were basically told its not even worth it. All the ideas of specific pills and foods, standing on your head, using frozen peas, and having 'drunk sex' were never going to work. But thank you to those who were so desperately trying to help. Some day I am going to come up with a master list of all the things people should not say in regards to someone else trying to have children. Just sayin'.

Instead, we chose domestic adoption. Yes, folks, there was a layover in domestic adoption first. It began slow, then sped up to a drastic speed, with all things going as we had hoped, even quicker. Sadly, our experience with domestic adoption ended when we received a call, a few hours before we were to have our home-study, saying we were "out of the program" -with no explanation given. (We know why and choose to spare you the details) It was devastating to again, be denied the privilege of being a parent. We sat numb for a while before beginning the international adoption process. You know the rest...
Sometimes when I think of the politics of adoption, it disgusts me. While I understand there need to be rules and regulations, for unfortunate obvious reasons, it still disgusts me. There are all these children waiting, in need, of good loving homes. There are all these prospective parents, anxious to parent and give these child the homes they deserve. And yet, RED TAPE.

When a couple decides to have a biological child, there is no application taped to your bedroom door. There is no fee to enter. There is no immigration officer sending you "approval". You do not need to have your fingerprints checked by the FBI and every other government system. No one is there to take pictures of your house to make sure it is suitable. No one is there to meticulously inspect your finances and make sure you meet the expectation. It does not matter if you've been married before or divorced. It does not matter how many other children you have. You do not have to write an autobiography. You do not need to know what authentication and apostelle mean. Last but not least, a ridiculous amount of money is not required.

My intention here is not to be insensitive, but to be honest. I know many struggle with infertility and it is not an easy journey. On the other side, I harbor no bad feelings toward all you fertile mommas. None at all. Although I don't always know why, I do believe things happen the way they happen for a reason.

{Stay with me here people, I'm getting somewhere}

When you begin your adoption process, the questions begin again.

Where are you adopting from?
Are you adopting a boy or girl? How old?
Will you have to travel?
How much is adoption?


On and on and on. Now most of you already know, I'm an open book with AJ's adoption. Ask me about the extreme joy that we felt when received his referral. Ask me what it was like to see him and hold him for the first time. Ask me how it killed me to leave him behind when we visited. I'll tell you. Ask me how nervous we were flying home with him. Ask me how much it was. Go ahead. I'll tell you. I'm not offended. I will tell you that there IS a false security in adoption. I think it comes from putting your trust and hopes into agencies and government entities (I know) to give you this healthy happy baby in exchange for a boatload of paperwork and money. We were supposed to be given a healthy child. We were told he was a healthy child. Premature, yes. Guatemala requires you to be open to prematurity, low birth weight, and a few other things. Still-you have this false security. The truth is, there is no security, either way. I laugh (to myself) now when people find out about AJ. He was adopted from Guatemala. Oh! How Nice. He has special needs. Oh! Good for you! What a great thing you are doing! We didn't know. Oooohhhh. {Insert akward silence}

Once we brought AJ home, the questions continued.

Will you adopt again? Our answer to this question has changed over time.

Will AJ have a brother or sister? Hm.

After AJ's needs were identified, we weren't asked that question so much. When we learned of his brother, they resurfaced, but soon faded again. Will we adopt another child or ?....While we decided early on that AJ's special needs would not be the deciding factor into whether or not to add to our family, it is something we think about and must take into consideration. And might I add, our trust is broken. In a way that I'm not sure could ever be repaired. We worked with a reputable adoption agency. Its not like we worked with some no-name on a Guatemalan street corner. I'm not sure we'd take that plunge again.

We do not regret our decision to adopt. AJ was meant to be our son.

So, I'll leave you with this:

When and if we decided to expand our family, we'll blog about it. Sometime.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let's Talk Babies: Part 1

So, if you know Jer and I, we are big fans of Grey's Anatomy. Although, please, Derek and Meredith, just get married already beacuse frankly, we just can't take it anymore....

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard/saw the interview of Katherine Heigl on Ellen announcing she and her husband were adopting a daughter from S. Korea. Then when I heard Naleigh had special needs, I thought it was a bold move and was pleased Katherine mentioned it on national television. I was also pleased AS PUNCH when she said the adoption was "quite the process" and "since she has special needs, S. Korea wanted her to be adopted as soon as possible."

Kudos to Katherine and Josh for going through the process like the rest of the PAP's in this world (PAP=Prospective Adoptive Parent)!! I find it refreshing she didn't need to buy off a small village in the middle of nowhere, where international adoption is not practiced, and adopt a child who's father was there to see the whole thing go down. Kudos to her for not using her magnificent "star power" to move the powers-that-be to speed up her process just because she's a celebrity. Kudos to her for filling out the paperwork, enduring the interviews, getting her fingerprints taken and feeling like your a criminal, sharing every detail of your life and then some, and having someone else tell you whether or not you can be parent.

And yes, shockingly:
Kodus to Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley for adopting a special needs child.

Yep, I said it. As a fellow adoptive parent, I had been pondering how to blog about this for a few days. Mind you, this is my first post about celebs adopting. Just sayin'. Then, ta-da, Ellen posted about it and she gave me the spark that lit the fire. Her post opened my eyes to this online article. The article itself passed my radar test. Some of the comments? Blew. Me. Away.

The pictures do not spell out the child's special needs. Nor should it. I do not consider adoption a selfless act. Honestly, I don't. I once heard a fellow AP (AP= Adoptive Parent) respond to someone who said, "How wonderful it is what you are doing," with, "What? I wanted a child, I went and got one." Now, when you look past the initial harshness of the way the comment is worded, there is much truth to this response. I do consider adoption of a special needs child selfless. Especially when I hear of families who adopt more than one child with special needs. I need to take lessons from them on how to turn myself into an octopus.

Think about this for a moment. You are signing yourself up for this position. You are willing adopting a child that has needs. Special Needs. We're talking about more than diaper changes and feedings here. You are willingly taking on a role of great magnitude, no matter what that child's special need is. To have confidence in that role, is to be admired.

Are you asking yourself why we aren't including ourselves in this mix? It's because this isn't our mix.

Our mix came in a hidden form. That's right folks: WE DID NOT KNOW AJ WAS A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD.

{For those of you that already know our story, please keep reading}

We did not know when we received and accepted his referral. We did not know when we visited. We did not know when we brought him home. We suspected some developmental issues that were expected with living in an orphange; we expected motor delays for the same reason. We were told he was a happy, healthy premie. Those words are ingrained in my head. We did not know he had special needs until the Winter of 2007.

It happens. It happened to us. It is rare, but not as rare as I thought. It wasn't right. His needs should not have been overlooked, ignored, or hidden. Whatever they were: we'll never know. I would be lying if I said my heart doesn't burn with anger (still) that he would have died had he spent a month or two more in Guatemala. He deserved his needs to be known.

Hindsight is 20/20. But when asked, "If you had known, would you still have accepted his referral?" My answer: yes. We'll never know for sure, as that wasn't the case, but I do know that as soon as we saw his photo and read his story, he was ours. We would have like to have known, to be prepared. We could have petitioned the US Embassy to expedite his adoption process for medical necessity. We might have been able to begin grieving while preparing for his arrival. Maybe he would of had access to the world of sound earlier. Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. I could Maybe till I'm blue in the face.

He is here now, and that is what is important. I know, corny. While the fact he had 13 months of nothing is present now (sometimes I think more now than ever), we are doing all we can for him. You get used to knowing that feeling won't ever go away, but that it comes and goes. He deserves all that we can give him. That means Love and Discipline. Education and Therapies. Structure and Encouragement.

People have asked us if we could give him back or give him up for adoption. Yes, we've been asked that.

Short Answer: NO.

Long Answer: I will not run. I will not walk. I will tread softly in what I have been given. I will accept the challenge before me and experience all of the emotions that come with that challenge. I accept that it will not be easy. I accept that I have no idea where to begin or what to do. I will pray for strength. I will pray for understanding. I will strive to give my child all that he deserves, not matter what it takes. I will find joy in his triumphs, and pain in his trials. I will accept reason has given me this child, without knowing what that reason is. I will learn to love Holland more than the thought of Italy. I will learn from him far more than I feel he learns from me. I will love my child unconditionally. I will fall. I will get back up. Battles we will lose. Battles we will win. I will remind myself that this did not happen to me, it happened to my child. My marriage will be tested. My faith will be tested. My relationships will change. I will learn the ease of ignorance comes from what is unknown. I will embrace the good and the bad, for balance of the two creates a peaceful harmony.

To be continued....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Extreme Honesty


Another CI Momma told me about this little guy Max's blog. As I do with any blog I'm "referred to", I settled into my comfy couch, clicked on the link, and read from the beginning to current. Many tears flowed as I read Max's blog. You see, Max has cerebral palsy, just like AJ. His blog was the first "CP" blog I read.

Max's Mom wrote an awesome post on her blog about how having a special needs child affects a marriage. And was extremely honest about it. What a refreshing post. I think sometimes we all fear honesty. I am a firm believer that raising a special needs child is not like raising a normal child. How's that for honest. The comments for this post were interesting as well.

With permission, I am posting a link to Max's blog. Please click here to read this fantastic post. Below, I've written some of the things Jeremy and I go back and forth about during any given week (you'll understand once you read the post):

...I know we don't like the theratubing around his leg idea, but its only temporary until he gets his AFOs.
...I know he does well with the spoon and its less of a mess when we feed him, but he needs to practice eating with a fork and eat on his own more.
...Did you see the new list of activities to help him communicate? I know, it worries me too.
...Did you pick up the photos for his experience books? I have to get those up and running ASAP.
...Uh-Oh why is AJ taking two steps and falling? Uh-oh, his muscles are tight again. Is he growing? Does this mean he needs botox? Will he continue to be tight?
...We have to get more Pediasure/Kid Essentials. I think I have more coupons, lets pray its on sale. Did we hear if insurance is going to cover it yet? Remind me to call.
...Sigh. He's freakin' hungry and he's mad. Where is our food? Why didn't I bring the fruit loops to tied him over?! If you get up with him he won't settle back down at the table.
...The insurance company is saying continued OT and PT is maintenance...yes, I already talked to his therapists about it. We need to draft a letter and fight this.
...We both need to stop carrying him so much and take time out of each day to help him work on self-care skills.
...When is the right time to potty train AJ? We said we'd wait till he started school and adjusted. Yep, we'll have to talk to her about it sooner than later.
...It is not good for AJ to close himself in his room and self-stim. It is not good for AJ to walk around with a metal bowl and not play with other toys. Let's find something else for him to do.
...How did AJ do in school today? We need to discuss X,Y, and Z.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Smitten

Yesterday morning we arrived at school just in the knick of time. All of the girls were sitting on the bench. When we walked in they all *gasped* and said, "AAAAJJJJJ!"

Oh Lordy. I think I'm in major trouble! Their gasp was like when you see a little girl at Disney World...as she spots Cinderella in the distance, she turns to her Mom and says, *Gasp-Breathe-Gasp* "Mommy! It's Cinderella!" It was too cute for words. He did receive the same greeting this morning, although with a little less enthusiasm.

He has already held hands with the girls, which they initiate, let me just say. I've heard from his teacher that a few of them have really taken to helping him in class. This morning, my heart just melted. One of the girls came over and put his CI coil back on his head when it fell off. When it was time to line up, she came over to me to take his hand and walk to the classroom. I think its the eyelashes!

The only thing-AJ isn't so smitten with his classmates. Any of them.

We've been so blessed to have daily contact with AJ's teacher. Last week he struggled at a water-based activity with "sharing" his space with another child. It lead to tears. He was given a break and then redirected to the water table again and he was still frustrated with sharing his space.

I really dislike this (my lame Ode to Facebook). His lack of socialization is now beginning to scare me. Will he ever get there? I'm also feeling a mega load of guilt. While other kids are playing at the waterpark and eating popsicles, my kid is enduring long drives with hours and hours of therapy and doctors appointments.

When he came home, we knew he needed to bond to us. That's all that was drilled into our heads. Don't let others hold him. Then it was don't let them meet his needs-you only. Oiy. What we didn't know was how behind he was. We thought we as parents would miss a lot, adopting him at 13 months. In a way, God blessed us, as AJ came home at a newborn level. We were able to give him his first solid foods, his first real bath in a bathtub. We saw him crawl and saw him WALK. We saw him HEAR for the first time. However, I don't think it benefited AJ coming home with a history of 13-months of NOTHING. We immediately got him into intense therapy and began his awesome adventure.

There wasn't much time for playdates. And the few playdates I went to, I ended up bawling all the way home. If ever there was a place I didn't feel comfortable and had the reality of AJ's delays and differences in front of me. This was it. And no one was making me feel that way, its just the way I felt given the situation. I spent more time calming AJ, working through his sensory issues, feeding him, and explaining why he was doing "this this and this" to the other parents while everyone else's child was running around in circles, feeding themself and asking for more milk. AJ just "didn't get it", and soon they become unimportant. PT, OT, Speech, Feeding, and his TOD visits were definitely the priority.

Some people have assumed that AJ was used to being around other children since he was in a orphange. We thought so too, at first, but now know he was either held or just layed on the carpet, next to the other children who were more mobile and placed on the foam squares in the play area. Why? Because he was so small and immobile. While I'm thankful they thought about his safety (some of those kids were chunk-a-monks), the other part of me burns with anger knowing his only "friends" were Sylvia, his caregiver, his hand (which he starred at-and still does occassionally), and small rattles. And, if he couldn't hear...yeah. He had no clue those other kids existed.

I'm feeling guilty that he hasn't been around kids more. While I know a part of it is his developmental level, it still bothers me. I'm slightly jealous of those Momma's who live on streets/in neighborhoods that have families and kiddos galore. We live on a country road where we are one of two families that are third-generation. It makes me angry and very sad that we know his brother is in Guatemala and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. We've TRIED. We would love for AJ to have a sibling or siblings. It makes me angry that adoption is so freakin' expensive. It makes me angry that our experience has made us very leary of opening our hearts again and trusting those in the adoption industry. It makes me angry that politics have essentially shut-down international adoptions. It makes me sad and angry that we can't just say, "Let's have another child." It is simply....Not. That. Simple.

I had another chat with AJ's teacher after school today, which calmed me down a bit. It seems he did well with his peers on the playground today. Per his teacher's suggestion, I am going to make an appointment with his Developmental Specialist, whom we haven't seen in quite some time. He may have some ideas as to how we can help AJ become a social butterfly, well, at least be social. He has not seen AJ in a year and I remember him saying, "Let's do the implant, give him some time, and see where he's at." I think he'll be pleasantly surprised. We are all working together to form the best program for AJ.

My new goals are to schedule a playdate for him at least once a week, focus on the good "peer-interaction" days he has and to take the bad in stride, and to give him more opportunities outside of school (other than PT and OT!).

And might I add, I certainly AM SMITTEN with Mr. AJ.

200th Post!


Well ladies & gents, we've hit 200 Posts!! WOW!

To celebrate, we're having a little give-away!!

Please leave a comment (under this post) and share your favorite story/post on our blog. We will choose a random winner on Saturday, the 19th.

How do you leave a comment?

Scroll down just a teeny-tiny bit to where it shows "Posted by AJ's Mom" at whatever time of the day. Next to it will show the # of omments. Click on 1 COMMENTS (don't click on the envelope with the arrow). I've already made a comment to start things off! Enter your comment in the text box provided, then select "who" you are commenting as. You can choose Anonymous, but then make sure you end your post with you name!

ATTENTION STALKERS: This is your chance to say HELLO! I too have been guilty of stalking other blogs and have 'fessed up to 3 of them recently. It feels good-try it! :)

Thanks for keeping up with AJ's Awesome Adventure!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday's Find

A new "themed" day!These cute little activity pads are a few of the First Steps Workbooks from Kumon. AJ's OT introduced us to the Let's Sticker & Paste!, which he absolutely loves. I found these at our local teaching supply store, The Learning Shop, although I have now seen them at Target and Barnes & Noble. I see now on Kumon's website (link above) that you can order them through Amazon.com. Average cost is $6. Well worth it!

AJ's just starting to get into Let's Fold!. I chose not to get the Let's Color!, since we already have a million coloring sheets/books, and other coloring things. But I did get the MORE Let's Color as it will help him finish coloring an object the correct color when he's ready. He's not quite ready for Let's Cut Paper! either, but I at least I know I have it when we get to that point.

Here is an example of a page in the sticker and paste workbook.

I even found a way to reuse a sheet AJ already completed! I cropped the page and used it as the cover for his "Park" Experience Book.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When Your Husband Loves Sports...

...this is what your "Girls Night In" looks like:

A Few Weeks Late

Here are some pictures from AJ's 2nd Gotcha Day Celebration. We celebrated by going to our favorite Latin Food Restaurant, Antigua Real. The owners are from Guatemala! AJ's GodMomma, Auntie Jodi, joined us. I can't believe he's been home 2 years.

AJ's Welcome Home Announcement-August 2007

Antigua Real

The Schmidt's-2 years later

Checkin' out the awesome waterwall

Dad & Auntie Jodi ("Heidi, put that freakin' camera away!")

The Fam

AJ had a burrito, rice, beans & an extra order of rice and beans!

Bean Smile

Fried Plantains

Diggin' IN!

Yummy!

AJ & Auntie Jodi

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Knowing and Doing

I'm sitting in my new found sanctuary of peace and quiet. The library.

And thinking. So much that my head hurts.

After school yesterday, I was able to chat with AJ's teacher for a few minutes. She explained to me how AJ's day is structured. She currently has parallel days planned for AJ and the other kiddos in his class. All of the other children in his class are 4. Yes, I said 4 years old.

Which means, not only is AJ the youngest at 3.3 years old, he's also the youngest, by far, developmentally. What is appropriate for the other kiddos isn't appropriate for AJ. We knew this but had wondered, with full trust in his teacher, how this was going to work.

We are thrilled with the schedule he has. He is SO where he needs to be. But I can't help but feel a little saddened that his developmental level keeps him from engaging in the activities that his peers are. His lack of socialization is something that is really beginning to worry both of us. When your child has a hundred therapy appointments a week, play date invitations are constantly turned down...and the invites eventually stop coming. Not only that, but his play skills range from solitary to the onlooker, to some parallel play (ie plays independently but beside others with same or similar toys).

Knowing that he would be in school with his peers was exciting to us. As AJ progresses and brings his levels up, his schedule will be adjusted appropriately. At this point he is with his peers for snack, on the playgrond, and during free-play at that classroom's different activity centers. Yesterday, he was at the art center, painting with dog bones and making spots on dalmatians with cotton balls.

His one-on-one instruction is going well, don't get me wrong! In just a total of 5 days at school AJ has shown major cognitive gains:
-Remembering the classroom
-Walking around to the front of school to find Mom when it was time to leave instead of gravitating toward the playground
-Signed 4 WORDS in a row to his teacher last week and then got upset yesterday because he wanted strawberries at snack and they weren't having strawberries even though he kept signing strawberries to his teacher
-Came to Mom and got excited when we did bubbles over the weekend, because they are doing bubbles each morning with him at school
-Shows more interest in books both independently and when being read to
-Has gotten better with transitioning from activity to activity in school
-Is comfortable with all of the teaching staff that is working with him
-Gravitates to the snack table where all his peers are at snack time
-Climbs in and out of his chair on his own

A few weeks ago I pulled out all of his tests/evaluations...and mentioned I would post about it. No time like the present. Please keep in mind that AJ is 39 months old. If we really want to be technical about it, he was at least 2 months early, so thats 37 months, then minus the 13 months of nothing in the orphange, thats 26 months...........

We are still stuck at 15-17 months for gross motor skills. Who knew walking backward, kicking a ball, throwing a ball, and walking sideways are learned at 15-17 month age level! I know this sounds silly to most, but I want to see him jump on a trampoline so bad. I know his Daddy would love to play catch with him. I want to see him zoom around the driveway on his tricycle. We are working on more independent walking, walking on uneven surfaces, and climbing.

His fine motor skills are average for his age-YAY! We still continue to work on getting him to put things "IN" to a container-consistently. He gets the concept, and knows how to do it, he just wants to do it when he feels like it, or with the toy that he wants. He prefers the mailbox & letters toy at the Speech clinic rather than the Piggy with the Coins at home. His self-care skills are below age level. And forget stacking-no interest AT ALL. I secretly think he can read these evaluations and decides not to do the task required. Seriously. We are working on placing simple shapes into an insert puzzle, stacking cubes, copying a horizontal line, a vertical line, and circle, and participate in appropriate dressing skills.

Moving on to his auditory skills...I revisited the Auditory Skills Checklist. I was amazed when I opened the copy his TOD gave me. The chart had nothing on it except the date of 1-28-08 and under #1 (wearing amplification during waking hours?) of the Detection section: 4hrs/day, in the evening he's very active, they whistle a lot and come out. Under #2 (use body language to indicate when something is heard?): startled. This was done on our TOD's very first visit; when AJ had hearing aids. Nothing else was filled in. Wow. I started going through and am pleased to see that he has more S's (has skill) and E's (emerging skill) than D's (doesn't have skill). The Detection, Discrimination, and Identification sections had mostly S's and E's. I found that very exciting.

In pre-symbolic communication he's at around 8 months, with scattered skills above that level, and missing some in younger levels that are speech oriented-for obvious reasons. We need to work on: repititive cooing of one-syllable "ah-ah-ah", vocalizing consonants in combination of one vowel, consonant-vowel syllable repitition "ma-ma-ma", imitation of adult-produced changes in pitch and loudness, and much more in imitation. All of the things I just listed are under 7 months, which astounds me. We also need to work on waving "Hello and Bye-Bye", imitating non-speech sounds-raspberries or tongue clicking, and clapping his hands. He's 4.5 months hearing, so.... The checklist goes to 16-18 months, I'm making the completion of this checklist a goal.

For the SKI-HI Language Development Scale, he's stuck at Unit 5, 8-10 months. He does have one or two skills in each of the Units 6-9, which is 10 through 18 months.

While we've never been ones to focus on numbers, I still want and need to know where AJ is and what we need to work on, in specifics. My "Type A" personality is kicking in-big time. And I'm aggrivated with myself because I KNOW that I could be DOING more at home for AJ. I can tell he is bored out of his gourd at home, especially now that he gets so much structure and routine at school. The four days off over the weekend were, ah hem, interesting. More self-stimulation, more wandering into his room and wanting to be alone and self-stim, more wandering with objects that weren't his, more pushing of Mom and Dad's buttons.

I need to make that workboard I've been talking about since Aiden's Mom posted hers. I need to find things for us to do that are structured play. I need to create a functional space for AJ to play and learn at home. His art bin (which is overflowing) is over here, books are over there, this is in another room, and thats over there. Craziness. I'm resisting the urge to empty my entire living room and create a space for AJ. Complete with a fresh coat of paint, a futon from IKEA, and maybe one of their floor to ceiling storage cubby thing-a-jigs. If anyone has any suggestions, shoot!

Then again, maybe I should just steal Peas' playroom in the middle of the night. Or maybe Peas would let me veg out in his playroom and play trains and I could forget about this whole mess.

Choo Choo.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Little Things That...

...irk me and little things that make me smile.

With the exception of the Reflection Posts #1-11 (to start reading click HERE), I found it odd that I don't blog about AJ's adoption much. We have so much going on, I guess it has naturally found its place at the bottom of our discussion topics.

Today, I found myself wandering around the oh-so-swanky bookstore that I despise setting foot in. I though maybe it would go well as I found a sweet parking spot close to the door. I have this thing: If I pull into the parking lot and find an awesome spot to park it usually means I'll have success in-store. So anyhow, while browsing the children's department, I stumbled on these books:
Ugh. I just KNEW what would be waiting for me when I cracked open the first book. Sure enough, it was a few pages of this giraffe meeting other animals and saying, "That's Not My Mom," until a giraffe appeared on the last page and the two were embracing with the caption "That's My Mom!" There is another book, by Dr. Seuss that bugs me to. I know, HOW can I knock Dr. Seuss?! I don't know, maybe its the titles that irk me.

Jer didn't seem all that bothered by it when I came home frustrated...which I found interesting. I often wonder how AJ will respond to books like this. I have often heard he has my eyes and eyelashes (I wish!). We rarely get looks when we are out together, I always assume its one of two things: 1) He's so light-skinned for a Guatemalan 2) People must think my Baby Daddy is Hispanic. :)

I just want him to know that we are family, and that doesn't mean we all have to look the same. I envision future conversations at the zoo being very interesting. "Mommy, all the polar bears look the same, their all white, how come we look different?" Insert akward moment #_ _ _ of answer your child's impossible questions. Somehow, knowing AJ, I don't think I'll get out of it by giving a simple answer.

After jotting down the author's name for these books (knowing I wanted to blog about this), I turned the corner to find this:

It was in the children's deparment under a section entitled "FAMILY". I cautiously picked it up, as I've read a few adoption books and haven't been so thrilled with them. And this book was perfect! I was pleasantly surprised to see this book, along with two other books about adoption in this section. (Insert smile.)
Yesterday, while looking for books on dogs (more on this in different post), I found this book at Target.
(Insert another smile). The art and illustrations in this book are phenomonal. I especially like that it brings the international idea to life. While this book is not about adoption, it supports the idea of international adoption and I think it will be a wonder tool in helping AJ understand that we are all the same.

The back of the book says this, "Every day all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. They may not speak the same language. Their lives may be quite different. But inside, they are just like you."

Nothing was on our agenda for today and all three of us napped this afternoon. (Insert a refreshed, content smile).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Since these are the hot topic in the blogging world...

...here is our calendar. I made it a few months ago in an attempt to help AJ understand the routine of the day.



We are just now getting to the point of leaving the calendar up on the door, pulling the activity cards off at the appropriate times, and talking/signing about what we are going to do next. At naptime, I change the cards for our afternoon routine.

I cut a piece of cardstock in half (length-wise) and laminated each side individually. I then used packing tape to attach them make one long strip. I used velcro pieces on the strip and on the back of each activity card. I created a chart in Word using pictures of AJ doing certain activities, as well as clip art. I wanted to him to get used to seeing a variety of things for art time, therapy days, dinner, etc. (not just the chicken nugget picture). I cut each card to size BEFORE I laminated them. Let's face it, anytime I get a chance to use my card making supplies-I'm thrilled! The laminator I have uses sheets that open on one end so you can arrange your pieces and then close it and send it through the machine. I LOVE IT! **Shameless pitch: I got my laminator @ Target for $29. The ones online and at the office stores are way more expensive!

I do really like the Listening Room calendar, but I think its a bit beyond AJ's level at the moment. Our's is a bit simpler and seems to be doing the trick. I still need to make a pouch to keep the cards in-that can be attached to the door as well. And I do like this workboard from Aiden's Mom. Oh my, it looks like I'm going to be forced down into my stamping oasis again.
(HAPPY DANCE!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mom trying to be cheap...

...didn't quite work out today.

Let me first explain that currently we are still living in Muskego. Which means I am driving AJ to Waukesha for school in the morning, hanging out in Waukesha area for 3 hours, picking him up from school, then driving home. If I were to come home inbetween, I'd only have enough time to maybe have cup of coffee and go right back to pick him up. Its not worth it. (more on this in a different post)

My first day consisted of a trip to the dollar store. Which, I must say, was quite productive in finding some activity workbooks and craft projects for Fall & Halloween for AJ. I also found double-stick tape for my handmade card obsession, which rocks since I refuse to pay $3+ for it everywhere else.

My second day consisted of a trip to the new Target. I'm in love. I found the items on my list and stuck to the list (Good Job Heidi!). Stores are very quiet in the morning...did you know that?

Last night, realizing I was two days in and didn't need another day of shopping, I made a plan.

We left the house later than usual this morning. The drive, with traffic, is an hour. We've been making it closer to 40-45 minutes. Cool. So I thought it would be fine if we left a bit later. Yeah...we almost didn't make it in time. I got him inside to sit on the bench and wait for line-up just as the bell rang. Whew! I'd rather be early than late, so we won't be doing that again.

Jeremy graciously put the GPS system back in my car, so I set it for stop #1 of my day: The DMV. I know, exciting, right?! It was closed! The SIGNS and DMV website all clearly say 8:45am. Some oh-so-bright-and-cheery employee comes out to tell us they don't open until 10:30am...but that they're open longer tonight. Well, thank you kind sir for your not-so-helpful information. If I had tried to come back at 10:30am, I wasn't so sure I get out of the DMV in time to pick AJ up.

This threw a wrench in my second stop of the day: The library. I know! More excitement!!

So now what?! I prepped some mail to go out (in the parking lot) I decided to drive down to Brookfield to Half-Priced Books and see if they had the books I've been looking for. Insert more of my cheapness here, as I rather dislike going into B&N and buying a book for a ridiulous amount of moola. Anyways...Its frustrating when 1) you can't remember the author of either book (and I don't have the web on my phone) 2) They are so busy there isn't a person available to ask if they have them on the shelves. Grrr.....

So I drove up the road a bit further to my favorite store, Tuesday Morning. I walked in and walked out. There was nothing I needed, and 5 minutes of browsing didn't even hook me into buying something I really didn't need. I sat in the car, pulled out my bag and made a few important phone calls, none of which allowed me to speak to a human. Great!

By then it was time to drive back to school and pick-up AJ. I picked up a very happy boy, with pink yogurt all over his white shirt (they painted with yogurt today). Picking him up is now the second favorite part of my day.

Does an SUV qualify as an office if it has a planner,a laptop, a phone, and a frustrated human in it?!
I'm not sure how/why I thought this little plan would work...but can tell its not going to last. It's going to put many miles on the car, take lots of gas, and may cause un-necessary shopping. I intend to make more "cheap" plans for the next few weeks. I hope to obtain my library card (how old am I?!) and go to the library to do paperwork/work on the laptop while he's in school. One day I'll grocery shop, one day I may do breakfast with a friend. I did sign up to be a parent volunteer, but its only the first week of school! Since the weather is nice I can sit in the car and read a book or do my paperwork, but not in winter! I want to sign-up for a yoga class in the area, but we are doing an 8-week assessment of AJ with his IEP team to see how he's doing and if he'll continue going with the same schedule. I don't want to sign-up for something, have things change, and then be out the green. It's more important at this point that AJ gets what he needs.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Strawberries ARE in Season...


At least in AJ's world they are!

Today, on Day 2 of Preschool, AJ's teacher reported me that during snack he SIGNED:

Strawberry. (pause) Strawberry. (pause) More. (pause) Strawberry.

HOLY COW!!! I could hardly believe what I was HEARING!

What was equally as awesome was when she was telling me the story...his teacher has the BEST animation and tone in her voice. She said/signed "Tell Mommy what we had for snack today. We had strawberries." AJ's eyes immediately looked up at her when she said the word strawberries-and he grinned at her. He recognized the word!

We now have TWO WORDS in his signing vocabulary. WAHOO!

AJ's 1st Day of School

Starting out with a Big Boy Breakfast...Cereal & Milk

Daddy helping with his backpack

Ready to Go!

Ridiculously Cute!

I need my backpack, Mom

Here we Go!

AJ's Shelf & Hook out in the hall

AJ's First "Label" with his name on it (LOVE IT!)

His chair in his classroom

He found his favorite spot (in front of the soundbooth) right away!
See ya Mom & Dad!

Pick-up Time! Mommy brought me balloons!!

I wanted to walk with them into the house!

Big Boy Lunch

So Grown Up!

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