Saturday, January 26, 2013

Worries and wonders...

Most of what I write here is all positive. It is all upbeat, not because I am sugar coating, but just because our little ones ARE doing that well. But like all moms, I do have my worries.
I just wish everyone could see how perfect they are and would take the time to get to know them.

I worry about when they are older, if other kids will be mean to them.
I worry if I should homeschool them or put them in public school.
I wonder if we should spend part of the summer doing extra school type work so they can always stay at the same education level as their peers, or if I should just let them be kids and enjoy their summer.
I wonder about their future; if they will find love, if they will live with us forever, live in their own place, get married.
I worry about people not treating them fairly, or with respect.
I worry they will be told they can not vote.
I wonder if they will ever drive a car.
I wonder if they will go to college.

Because in the end, I only want what is best for them, I want them to be happy, to enjoy life, to live each day to the fullest.

When I asked my husband what he thought he said,
He wonders how they will see themselves
He wonders if we will be able to teach them to be happy with themselves so they never feel they have to conform to anything other than who they are
He wonders if they will find someone really special, like Mark and I have found in each other.
He wonders if we put them in the public school system if they will get bullied and how will they deal with that.
What situations are we going to have to face, and help Veronika and Gavyn with, because of other people's ignorance.

When I asked if there was anything else he worried or wondered about he replied that there was nothing else he worried about, because he knows that with our love and support they will thrive.

 I know that there is no one who could love them more than we do, that we will support them 100%, and that we will do everything we can to help them have the best life ever. What we can not do, is change other people, but maybe, just maybe, we can educate them... because kids and adults with Down syndrome, are more alike than different.


And in case you have not heard.... there is a NEW R word.... the word is Respect!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Today marks SIX MONTHS that Veronika and Gavyn have been home!!
It is amazing how much they have grown and how much they are now able to accomplish.

Where does the time go? This is what they looked like when they first got home six months ago....
 Six Months Later...

They have SO much personality!

So what has Veronika done since getting home?
  • Learn to sit up
  • Learn to army crawl
  • Crawl
  • Pull to a Stand
  • Cruise holding onto furniture
  • Sign More, All done, Eat
  • Clap
  • Bang pots and pans with spoons
  • Self feed with pincher grasp
  • Roll a ball
  • Eat all solids
  • Chew
  • Go from sitting to standing without holding on
  • Stand unaided for 5-10 seconds
  • Walks holding onto someone's hands
  • Splashes in water
  • Drinks from a straw
  • Follow simple directions such as "put the ball in the cup", "put the block in the bucket" 
  • Learn to jump in the Johnny Jumper
  • Turn pages in a book
  • Get into everything she should not get into
  • Gives kisses and hugs
  • Wave, she is famous for her "thumb" wave but will also do a hand wave at times
  • Babbles "dada, "eh?" (I think someone forgot to tell her we aren't Canadians), "ahh"
Veronika is bold and likes to discover everything. She has a great sense of wonder, but is VERY sensitive to others. If Gavyn is upset or crying she will also become upset. There are times when we put lotion on Gavyn to help with dry skin and if he gets upset and cries she will also become upset and sometimes even snub us for making him upset. She is serious and a thinker. She has the greatest belly laugh when tickled and loves to clap when she does something good. She is normally pretty quiet and can be sneaky about getting into things. She likes to get into EVERYTHING!

What has Gavyn done since getting home?
  • Learn to sit up
  • Learn to crawl
  • Pull to a stand
  • Sign More
  • Eat all solids
  • Self feed with pincher grasp
  • Chew
  • Walks holding onto someone's hands
  • Splash in water
  • Drink from a straw
  • Turn pages of a book
  • Follow simple directions such as "Gavyn, do NOT eat the furniture"
  • Rock forwards and backwards in the Johnny Jumper
  • Learn to hold on when someone is holding him
  • Gives kisses and hugs
  • Babbles "mama, dada, baba, bubu, eeeeee"
 Gavyn is very smiley and happy. He loves to be held and cuddled. He is also VERY strong. We have had to put industrial strength velcro onto most of their toys because he was picking them up and flipping them all over. Sometimes that would accidentally hit him or Veronika, but now with the velcro on them he is no longer able to pick them up and he can play with them appropriately.  He is very sensory seeking and wants to be tossed up in the air, swing high, or rock fast. He is going to LOVE roller coasters when he grows up. He is almost always either laughing or crying. He loves to make noises and can get quite loud. He is calm most of the time and is usually more patient than Veronika.

We are so proud of them! Happy Six Month Home Anniversary Veronika and Gavyn!!
 What are WE doing to help them reach these goals??
Before we adopted I started researching everything I could to find out how we could help them reach their fullest potential. I found books and youtube videos by Glenn Doman.
I came across this video

So we started working on teaching the to read, we started working hard on crawling. In fact once they started crawling, we followed  Glenn Doman's program and started having the crawl 1/4 mile PER DAY!!! We measured our living room and discovered if they crawled across the living room 90 times it would equal 1/4 mile. Armed with gluten free pretzels and Signing Time videos, we got them to crawl 30 times in the morning, 30 times at noon, and 30 times in the evening.
We have seen so much growth faster than we could have ever imagined!!
The greatest thing is I found his books at our library! So it didn't even cost me anything. Just time to watch the videos and time to read the books that I checked out from the library.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Adventures of Stink Butt

So I, the Amazing Stink Butt, woke up this morning with my mind racing and wondering what I could  get into today.
While waiting for breakfast, a store mail flyer looked really tasty. After all, it is made from paper. Yum! But Daddy took it away, he didn't even let me finish chewing the piece I had in my mouth.
At breakfast, tossing toast on the floor seemed like a good idea until Mommy would not pick it up and give it back.
After breakfast, it seemed like a great idea to to into Mommy's newly painted room and get into the plastic sheeting covering the floor. Until Mommy came and took it away and would not let me back into the room.
So I decided to go play in the kitchen, there are SO many wonderful things in there. I found the box of books Mommy had taken out of her room while the paint was drying. Those looked like fun. Mommy said she didn't want me eating the pages or tearing the books, so she would not let me play with them.
The internet cable looked like a lot of fun! But Mommy would not let me pull it out of the wall :(
Then I tried to get into the garbage can, but Mommy said No, it was icky.
So I tried to help myself to a snack of the dog's food. I even managed to get a piece before Mommy fished it out of my mouth and took me out of the kitchen, locking the baby gate.

I guess I will settle with emptying my whole toy shelf onto the floor with my side-kick Bubby (pronounced Bub-bee.)

Sunday, January 6, 2013


John Bowlby was one of the earliest attachment theorists and described attachment as a "...lasting psychological connectedness between human beings." 

We have been home for five and a half months now. Veronika has done very well with attachments. She knows the difference between strangers and familiar faces and she prefers her family. She loves cuddles and gives great hugs. She is reserved around people she does not know, and does not like people she is unfamiliar with to invade her personal space.

Gavyn is getting better but still has a lot to work on with attachment. He does not understand the difference between strangers and familiar faces and will go to anyone. (he learned this skill in the orphanage due to neglect- he learned he had to get his needs meet by anyone he could reach out to) The moment he sees someone walk near, he will reach out his arms, even if someone else is already holding him. He has finally started to rest his head on my shoulder!! This is HUGE!!! He is also holding onto us when he is picked up. Before, he would let his arms dangle by his sides.

I have been doing a lot of research on attachment and have gotten in contact with a attachment therapist who we are hoping can offer some suggestions. The good news is that he is still very young. We can work on this and while it may take time, we are know we can help him to attach.

So what are we doing to help him?
  • Mimicking him - helping him understand that there is a connection to us. When he makes a noise, we repeat it. If he puts a block in the bucket, we put one in as well.This allows him to feel like he is important. If he makes a face we make it back. It also is a great way to show him how to mimic so he is able to learn to mimic us.
  • Meeting every cry - Because he never had his needs met at the orphanage when he cried, he learned not to cry. Now we are teaching him that he has a voice, his needs are important. Sometimes he will cry because he does not like to take his medicine or does not want his diaper changed, sorry son, those are things you will have to learn to accept. However, if he cries because he is tired, hungry, wet/poopy, or just wants to be held, those are cries we are answering and right way. 
  • Lots of Praise - we want him to know that we notice him. He is just learning how to splash in the tub, so every time he splashes we clap and tell him how good he is doing. When he works on his PT/OT we are telling him how we are so proud of him. When he makes an effort to try something new, we give lots of praise.
  • Understanding - it can be really hard to see your child who is 15 months old and know that at 15 months they should be doing XYZ but they are not. You want them to meet those goals and milestones, however, we have to keep in mind that until we brought him home, he had never had the chance to do anything. It was as if he was a new born when he was home. So while age wise he is 15 months old, he has only had the last five and a half months to play with toys, to learn to sit up, to learn to crawl. I think that is pretty darn impressive!
  • Babying – this may seem like a no-brainer. After all, he is still very much a baby, however, when you are trying to help them gain some skills, you often forget that hey, it is ok if I still spoon feed, bottle feed, etc. He missed out on all those attachments of being fed, cuddled, loved, so now we are giving it to him every chance we get.
  • Adapting – After being a parent for 22 years, I am kind of set in my ways of how to parent. Veronika has easily accepted and is thriving in my normal parenting practices. With Gavyn, we are having to do things differently. I am learning how to parent a child with an attachment disorder, and accepting that the way I have always done things, is not what is best for Gavyn. By adapting the way I normally do things, we are able to meet his needs and help him learn to attach.
  • Seeking - I am constantly seeking more knowledge, trying to discover what MORE we can do to help him. This quest will not stop until I know we have helped him fully attach.
  • Persistence – Sometimes it can be frustrating and heart breaking. As a mother, seeing your child who is in your arms reach out to a stranger is very hard. It tears you to pieces. The key is to never give up, to know that one day, a stranger will walk by and he will not reach out, instead he will cling to you because he will want you instead.
This is not a complete list, as I learn more, the list will continue to grow.  But for now, we are starting to see some progress, and are very encouraged! 
Playing in the kitchen cabinet with the plastic wear - Veronika is very bold and was pulling everything out, Gavyn watched and waited until it was out before he would pick anything up. Having such a brave big sister to show him how to play is really helping Gavyn.