It seems like our girls are adjusted to being sisters. Some days more than others. The sibling rivalry increases as Nina is able to communicate better, as well as the sweet moments of play and interaction between the three girls. And every night the girls give each other hugs and kisses.
Nina is doing incredibly well with her language acquisition. She does have dysarthria, which makes it hard to understand her at times. Mostly, Andy, Ellie, Nichole and I understand what she is saying, while others find it a bit more difficult. The crazy thing is that even people that have known us for a while seem to think twice about which little girl with special needs in our family was adopted. I suppose Nina really does look like a Stumbo, while Nichole has the Down syndrome characteristics that might throw people off at first. However, Nichole looks a lot like me. The resemblance has led me to the conclusion that by looking at Nichole I know exactly what I would look like if I had Down syndrome. A conclusion that makes Andy laugh at me while patting my back. I am still trying to decide what that means.
Nina's physical abilities are pretty much the same. We do feel confident that she will walk someday, but this might take a couple of years. Botox has been phenomenal for her braces, and her heels do come closer to the ground. However, braces or no braces, she is used to walking on her toes and we feel like we are hitting the wall when it comes to seeing real progress.
With Nina's increases language and communication, we have seen an increase of tantrums. She also likes to talk back and whines...just to get attention. This is clearly a behavior that worked for her at the orphanage, and we are trying to break it.
On the other hand, it seems like her tantrums are back to those I saw when I first got Nina. Shaking her body, scratching her face, and banging her head against the floor (very disturbing institutionalized behavior.) As she is able to communicate more, we have wondered if she is frustrated that what worked at the orphanage to get her way is not working here, and this is her way to show it.
A while back I blogged about author Jolene Philo and her book "A Different Dream for My Child." In her book she mentions post traumatic stress disorder in children. I have had the privilege to meet Jolene and talk to her about Nina. I do think that Nina exemplifies behavior that is consistent with post traumatic stress.
On a positive note, Nina seems to be gaining weight. Hooray! She has put on 2 pounds. She is also a very sweet little girl and she is always wanting to help and be a "big girl." She often tells us that she loves us and blows kisses to us from afar. And since sweet does not seem enough to describe her, I think I will tell you she is like "candy."
Nina's favorite color is yellow and she has started to play imagination games. Yes friends, she has finally reached this stage of development making her sisters quite happy. And Ellie finally has a playmate to entice with Barbies and Polly Pockets. Nichole is more into the relational games and she likes to play doctor or mommy; games that are played by all three girls. I love it!
Nina is almost potty trained. She wear underwear all day and we use pull ups at night and during nap time. We also recently got the Potty Stool and she is able to get on the toilet on her own. And although she still needs help, it is amazing what a sense of independence and accomplishment this has given her. What is great, is that this has been a great little stool for Nichole too and Nichole has even had a few success moments that are greatly rewarded by giving her toilet paper. Oh the joys of being able to wipe yourself...ahem...actually, with Nichole the joy is to drop the toilet paper in the toilet bowl, there is now wiping involved in the process.
As for Ellie, she continues to craft away and be the greatest big sister. She is so helpful. And now that she loves headbands, she can even do her own hair! It makes life easier for me, but she is especially proud of herself for doing so much on her own. And just for the record, she wants to be an artist ballerina when she grows up.