Monday, January 31, 2011

Nichole gets a First haircut too!

2 What are your thoughts?
Everyone in our family has a cold right now. For most of us it means just a little runny nose. For Nichole, it means a runny nose and her eyes get "funky" like Ellie likes to say. The goober mess her runny nose made on her hair, along with her sucking on it had me wanting to get it cut for a while. Since we got Nina's hair cut (and I got one myself) I must have been in the  new do mood.

This morning I decided that I could cut her hair if she was very still (since she has little hair). She really did sit still. I figured I would be cutting the curls off (which I was sad, but I had to cut her hair at some point in her life! Well, I am happy to say that the curls are still there (more like big waves) however, I am not sure that I did such a  great job because I only know to cut straight hair! Good thing is that hair grows!

So here are some pictures, and Nichole did not want any pictures taken! So this is the best I could do!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nina had her First Real Haircut!

8 What are your thoughts?
Today Nina got to have her first real haircut! When she was at the orphanage, she got her hair chopped pretty often. I don't know if she ever got to have hair cover her ears. I am also not sure who decided on the style or length. My guess is that whoever did it was not a hairdresser, and it was just a lot easier to cut the kid's hair that have to worry about washing or brushing very often.

We have been growing out Nina's hair for a year! Her hair has not grown very fast, and it was beginning to look very stringy and unhealthy, but we finally had some length to work with. So today, Nina got her first real haircut. And we assured her, that getting her hair cut did not mean she would look like a boy, and it would be really cute.

She was wiggly, but our hair dresser is fantastic!

First stop...bangs! Nina has struggled to gain weight, and her body does not seem to absorb nutrients very well. A few months ago we began to give the girls Juice Plus+ and I feel like it has made a difference. We finally began to see baby hair growing in places where her hair had been scarce. Her forehead had so many baby hairs that it made sense to get bangs, and I thought she would look so cute with bangs. I do love them, and Ellie thought they were the best part of Nina's haircut.
Isn't it cute? We got rid of all the uneven layers, and we were able to match the line where she had cut her hair a while back.

 Okay Nina, now smile at the camera!
 She was more willing to smile once we got home and she got her glasses on. If you pay close attention, you can see that she got her bifocal lenses. I think she is adjusting to those pretty well.

And don't forget to enter to win a free book!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Potty Training...Mommy

0 What are your thoughts?
Nichole is doing really well with potty training. No, really, she is. I think the one that is having a hard time with this! I think she is more ready than I am to work hard at this, so I need to deal with the fact that we are going to be cleaning up accidents here for a while.

Nichole had been telling us when she had to go potty right before we began this process. This is why we knew she was ready to begin. I don't know if she was telling us as she felt it come, before, or right after. We simply just changed her diaper. Number 2 was different (because it takes her a long time to get it out, one advantage of low muscle tone I suppose) so I was getting her to go in the toilet if I got to her in time.

We began this process, I just sat her on the potty when I changed her diaper. Almost every time she would go, so we knew she knew that when you sit on the potty, you tinkle. However, her diaper was still wet between changes.

Sometimes, if she wets her diaper, she has figured out how to take it off. She will throw it away on her own and then let's me know "potty." So I think she is definitely feeling the wet diaper and not liking it. This led me to believe the "Cool alert" diapers would be a good idea. You know, those diapers that are supposed to get really cold when you go potty to increase the sensation. They worked with Ellie for a couple of weeks.

We tried it today...and it did not even face her! So we can scratch that idea!

I then let her go without a diaper, which has never worked in the past. She came to me and said "potty" I asked her if she wanted to go to Melmo, and she ran straight to Melmo. I then noticed that her night shirt was wet. I thought she had just told me that she had gone potty already. What is my surprise but to see that Melmo had some potty in it! Nichole had to go potty, she sat on Melmo, and she just did not know how to pull her pajamas up. Now isn't that exciting!

I though to myself, "She is getting this, and the no diaper idea is working!"

Well, you get some, and you miss some I suppose. There was a nice wet spot in the middle of the room later on, and she did not even acknowledge the fact that she had an accident. Oh well. We are still going to do this!

And this mommy is ready to potty train a little rascal!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway- The Charlatan's Boy

12 What are your thoughts?
A Waterbrook, Multnomah Publishing Group Book

The Charlatan's Boy
Jonathan Rogers

Grady has no last name, he does not know where he came from and he has no mama and no pa. All he has is Floyd, a huckster who is a liar and a fraud. For as long as Grady can remember, he has been traveling with Floyd all over Corenwald, putting on a Feechie act where he gets to be "The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp!" Grady, having nothing to hold on to, comes to believe this character to be his true identity. He is a he-feechie, alive and in the flesh. But the people of Corenwald no longer believe in Feechies  and Floyd and Grady must find new trades. Grady's heart is broken as he is told he is not a real Feechie, but only the Ugliest Boy in the world. An idea that births a new act, but when another boy is found to be uglier than Grady, a new trade most be found, and Floyd and Grady find themselves in the Phrenologist trade. Yet, Grady cannot forget the old days.  Neither can Floyd forget the money they made with the Feechie act. Together, Floyd and Grady set to create another Great Feechie Scare. Floyd, merely using the ugly boy for his profit, while Grady longs to relieve the days where he had an identity, and he knew who he was.

I  enjoyed this book. From the beginning, my heart was drawn to Grady. He longs to know who he is and where he came from. As an adoptive mother, Grady's heart speaks to me. He wants to be loved, he wants to know where he comes from, who he is, and wishing that he had a friend, someone who cared for him. Grady's likable character is well established from the beginning, and his personality and voice are consistent and strong throughout the book.

Floyd and Grady's adventures as they travel from town to town putting on their Fechie act, along with the other various performances, are fun and entertaining. These are sprinkled with Grady's longings of love and friendship, and you get a good, light hearted read.

While it was not a page turner, I recommend this as a fun read.

If you want to read the first few chapters, you can visit the Waterbrook Multnomah webiste. There you can purchase the book if you get hooked!

You can also read chapter 1 and 2 here.

Do you want this book?

Well, here is the deal, Stumbo Family Story is having a giveaway!

This is how you can enter. Just leave me a comment and tell what your favorite fiction book is. For an additional chance to win, go to my book review on the Multnomah website and rank my review, then come back here and leave a second comment.
Also remember to leave your contact infromation so I can contact you if you win!

This entry will be open until January 31 at midnight, then I will use a random generator to select the winner!
(US residents only)

If you don't win, here are a couple other places places where you can buy the book: amazon or Christian books. It is also available as an e-book.
I recieved this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publising Group  for my review.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

International Day of Acceptance

0 What are your thoughts?

This is what 3E says about their symbol.

"It is a symbol of society accepting people with disabilities as equals and a symbol that people with disabilities accept their challenges and even embrace them. By replacing the wheel with a heart, the stigma of the wheelchair is also removed, and it can be a symbol for people with any disability or impairment. It represents the person, not society's perception of their lack in abilities.

The symbol is an attitude and a lifestyle. It's accepting one's abilities and rallying around that diversity and turning it into strength. It's loving and living life to the fullest no matter who you are and what you look like, what you can or cannot do."

I have two children with special needs. One with Down syndrome and one with Cerebral Palsy. I want them to be accepted by society, I want them to thrive in the areas where they are gifted and talented. I know that they will be contributing members to society if given a chance.

Today, as we celebrate International Day of Acceptance, let's make a choice to see those with disabilities not as individuals with limitations, but rather as individuals full of potential.

These individuals don't live disabled...they live!

Our girls live life to the fullest, and what a joy it is to watch.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Being Sisters

2 What are your thoughts?
From the moment Ellie laid eyes on Nina, she was meeting her new sister. Nina was not just another little girl coming to spend some time with us, Ellie saw her and loved her as a sister. Those first few months were hard on Ellie,  she wanted to love Nina, hug her, play with her, and show her the wonderful world of little girls. Nina, on the other hand, wanted little to do with Ellie. Ellie cried with a broken heart and would often ask, "Why doesn't Nina love me?" Then one day, Nina threw her arms around Ellie and pulled her close. This was the beginning of their relationship, the day they became sisters. It was an exciting and moving moment to watch.

If you were to see Ellie and Nina now, you would see that they are great friends. Sure they fight, they get frustrated with each other and annoyed at times. They grunt at each other and say, "I don't want to play with you anymore!" But every morning we find them together playing family, or strawberry shortcake, or barbies. They color, play babies, giggle, and make up stories. They are sisters.

But this has not been the case with Nina and Nichole. Nichole had a hard time liking the new little girl that came to her family. She did not like the fact that in some ways, because of Nina's mobility issues, Nichole was being asked to be a big girl, and not the baby in our family. Nichole quickly figured out that she could push Nina over easily, or hit her head with a video case (not sure why this was the object of her choice to hit Nina on the head). How we redirected, and how we hoped some day they would like each other.

Just the other day, I heard 2 little girls giggling, and what was my surprise but to find Nina and Nichole playing together. They were sitting in front of a fan with the air blowing their hair and having a great time imitating each other and laughing at the silly faces they made. I smiled, reminded that they do have a merry time before they settle down for a nap talking to each other, laughing, and sometimes playing catch from crib to bed, from crib to bed. They might not play together all day, but they do have a bond together. They are sisters.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bifocals are for Little Kids Too

2 What are your thoughts?
Nina's glasses have really helped her to see. However, her eyes are still crossing when she is working on close up things.

Yesterday she had an eye appointment and she will be getting bifocals.

With her new glasses, Nina will be able to see better up close as well as the bigger picture. I am also hoping that this will continue to help with her visual perception processing. She is getting better, but she is still unable to make purposeful marks on a paper without tracing them. Her coloring is improving, so that does mean things are getting a little better...slowly but surely!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Calling all Cerebral Palsy Moms!

12 What are your thoughts?
This is how I have been feeling lately with Nina and the challenges of her Cerebral Palsy. I just don't know what to do to help her! Nichole has always been easy, the challenges of Down syndrome I understand, I get how Nichole works, but Nina is a different story, Cerebral Palsy is so complex.

Nina has been with us for a year. She is just tight tight tight. Although she did make progress after arriving home, she is not doing any better. Actually, we feel like she is regressing once again. And this is my frustration, I cannot find what motivates her! She has little to no desire to ever walk or be independent. When I tell her we are going to stretch she says no, when I tell her we do this so that someday she can walk, she tells me it is okay, she just wants a wheelchair. Anything having to do with her mobility is a fight and she has no motivation or desire to do this! Is it a result of her CP? Is it a result of being institutionalized for almost 4 years and an emotional thing? Well, we don't know!

So I am going to the experts on Cerebral Palsy. No, not the doctors. Yes, they are experts on the medical field, but, they are not the ones raising and doing life with the kids they serve. Not the ones that actually "get" what it is like to parent our children. They are amazing at what they do, but their help can be limited unless they too have walked this road.

I am calling all mom with kids with Cerebral palsy. I need your help! Do you have a blog? Let me know so I can learn from your experience. Do you have advice? I am open to all advice. Do you have words of encouragement? I can use them right now!

I am not giving up on Nina, and it breaks my heart to see that she seems to be giving up on herself!

I want to know what has worked for you. From therapy to surgeries, to songs that motivate your child!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nichole Likes Her Potty!

0 What are your thoughts?
Well it has only been a few days since we have been "Potty Training." And Nichole is doing well. Better than I expected.

We are not being aggressive with this, we are taking it slow, and so far so good. These last few days, all we have done is get Nichole to sit on the potty when we change her diaper. And guess what? She has gone potty almost every time! She sits there, and she pushes. She rally does know what she is supposed to do.

Her diapers are still wet when we are changing them. But the fact that she is going on the potty tells us that she does know how to empty her bladder when she is sitting on the potty. Or that she can consciously empty it. However, she is also going when she feels the need to go, and therefore is not necessarily "holding" it.

This week we will continue to do this, and after that, we will begin to go on a schedule. Oh the joys of potty training!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Nina's Anniversary

1 What are your thoughts?
On January 1st of last year Nina joined her place in our family, it was the first time that all 5 of us were together. Ellie was so excited to meet Nina, she could not believe that she was real and not just a girl on a picture or someone she had seen through a computer screen. Nichole was not sure of the new little girl that was hanging around. Andy and I were just happy to be together after the long emotional process of adoption. And Nina, she was scared, she was so scared. She did not know what it meant to be have a family, she did not understand our speech, our ways, and the details of our world.

When Nina arrived, she was behind Nichole in development in all aspects except her ability to talk, and unfortunately, our languages were different. She was 3 1/2 years old, but her development seemed to be that of a typical 18 month old. In amazement, we watched her go through baby stages and quickly move on to a toddler stage, and now a little girl. Although she is still not your typical 4 1/2 year old, the difference in this little girl is astounding!

Those first few months were hard. They were really hard. For Nina, for Ellie and Nichole, for us as parents, but especially for me. My love, patience, compassion, and gratitude were tested every day, and I failed many times. I felt like a failure as a mother, not being able to love and help Nina as I had hoped to do. Over time, as we began to know each other, we began to refer to Nina as our "Fiery Furnace" for God was using her to stretch us and teach us about His heart and His unconditional love.

As Nina's speech developed and we began to be able to communicate, Nina was able to share with us about her life as an orphan, and about the things that she feared and the life that she lived. She was able to tell us about her excitement over having a family, and we would hear her saying, "Nina, happy girl!" We were able to get to know one another better, and to learn to fall in love with one another.

We have asked ourselves, "Where would Nina be if we had not adopted her?" "What would her future been like if she had grown up in her country?" What a different life she would have had, with little hope and no future. But what about us? Where would we be if we had not adopted Nina? Sure, life would be easier, a lot easier. But what about us? What about our hearts? What about our ability to love? What about being conformed to be more like Christ? As much as we saved her, she has been a tool of transformation in our lives. She has expanded our hearts, and she has brought us great joy.

If you were to meet Nina today, you would be amazed at the fact that she has been with us for only a year. Her speech really is phenomenal, and she is a charmer. She thrives in praises and affirmation. Her little heart's desire is to make us laugh and to hear us call her beautiful. She is unusually good at sharing and she wants to help any way she can. Which as you can imagine, makes it easy to want to love her. She loves hugs and kisses, and to be cuddled.

It still amazes me to think that there was a child of God forgotten at an orphanage, sentenced by her disability, and out of all people, God chose us to be her parents, not her biological mother, and not another adoptive family, but us. He did not bring her to us through birth, but He grew her in our hearts. Half-way across the world He called to us, "Will you love one of mine? One that has been discarded? A daughter that I deeply love?" We responded to God's call, and what a blessing this journey has been for all of us! And although it has been hard, we would do it again, and again.

What a wonderfully testing year it has been, how we have been transformed, and how we have been falling in love. We treasure our Ukrainian princess, and we could not do life without her. She belongs with us, she is our daughter.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

When You Begin Potty Training Your Child With Down Syndrome

3 What are your thoughts?
Potty training a child with Down syndrome is a lot like potty training a typical child. You implement many of the same methods, and sometimes you have to do "trial and error" until you find what clicks with your child. Just remember, your child might take  a little bit longer to get it.

Once you have determined weather your child is ready to be potty trained, there are a few helpful things you can do as you begin the process. (If you are not sure weather your child is ready or not, you might want to check out the "Readiness Steps")

Remember, this is all taken from the NDSS PowerPoint presentation. If you are interested in having it, send me an e-mail and I will forward it to you.

Decide what your "potty words" will be and stick with those. If your child is not able to verbalize the words, make sure you learn the sign for those words.

Select a potty chair with your child. Although it would be nicer and easier to use the big potty, a small potty chair might be a good place to start.

Have your child sit on the potty seat after removing diapers. Allow them (or encourage them) to sit on it 2-5 minutes.

Lead your child to the potty chair at regular intervals during the day.

For 2 weeks you might want to consider "tracking" your child's diaper every 30 minutes to an hour. Basically, every half and hour to an hour check their diaper and make notes. Is it wet? Is it dirty? Is it dry? How long did he/she go with a dry diaper? Are there consistent times where your child is having a BM?

Have a tangible reward for your child if they successfully go potty in the potty chair.  Always use lots of praise for trying. You want this to be a good experience.

Avoid forcing to use the potty. If your child is fighting it every time, you might want to wait for 1-3 months and try again.

Do not use punishment when your child has an accident, or when they refuse to use the potty. A "negative" potty related experience may result in a more frustrating  situation.

On a personal note...

Before you begin, consider what your goal is, and what your definition of "potty trained" will be. For example, Nina (our daughter with Cerebral palsy) is almost at the point where we will consider her being potty trained. It means that when she has to go she lets us know. She can crawl to the bathroom, and maybe climb up on the stool, but that is as far as she can do. The rest of the process is fully dependent on our help. If we are not home, then we have to wheel carry her to the toilet.

With Nichole, we are hoping for the same. We want her to tell us when she has to go so we can take her. She cannot dress or undress herself quite yet, and I have no problem doing that. if she is telling me she has to go, and has bladder and bowel control, I will consider that potty trained.

Wish you all good luck as you embark in this great fun mothering adventure of potty training. Oh the extra clothes you will wash, the nice little puddles you will wipe along the way. But remember, if your child gets and M&M for successfully going, you can have a handful!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Potty Training a Child with Down Syndrome

4 What are your thoughts?
Just like everything takes  a little bit longer for kids with Down syndrome, toilet training is no exception. Some things I have not minded taking a little bit longer, but when it comes to using the potty...I really do wish Nichole would decide she wants to be just like her big sisters and be done with diapers!

It is suggested to begin potty training children with Down syndrome at age 3. Why wait until then? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

First, kids with Down syndrome have hypotonia (low muscle tone) and bladder control means using muscles that are going to be weaker and will need some training.

Second, potty training is dependent on the child's individual self awareness as they develop and mature. Typical children tend to do this quicker, while kids with Down syndrome might take a little bit longer (again, it all depends on the individual child). While Ellie was fully potty trained by age 3, Nichole is just now getting to the point where we can begin the process, she is just getting to the point where she understands. (I do not agree with the IQ talk as it is extremely difficult to determine any child's IQ, you know your child, you know when they are ready)

A while back we got the Potty Stool. It has been a great tool for Nina (who has Cerebral Palsy) in feeling "safe" in the toilet and Nina is almost completely potty trained. Nichole seemed interested. However, one day she attempted to sit on the toilet without the toilet insert and fell in the toilet (yeah, gross, but it has happened to your kids too!) And Nichole now is scared she will fall in. Or all she wants to do is wipe and no more business.

The NDSS has a PowerPoint presentation that has a wealth of information on how to toilet train your children with Down syndrome. You want it? Shoot me an e-mail and I can send that to you. (I highly prefer their presentation and information over the previous link on this post)

Their basic recommendations are to begin at age 3, determine patterns for 2 weeks, and dedicate time to focus!

Is your child with Down syndrome ready? Here is a checklist (from NDSS)

Ability to walk to toilet by him/herself

Sense of sitting on toilet with good balance
Understanding and following 1-2 step instructions
Telling when the child needs to use the potty
Positive relationship with parents/ caregivers
Desire for child to be independent

So now, once you know if your child is ready, you can embark on the great toilet training adventure! Nichole is ready, and so am I! Now on to work on the next steps and I will follow up with more information on potty training in the next few days.



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