Sunday, March 2, 2014

We're Home and All's Well

Hi All,
I know it's been a long time since I posted, so I wanted to update you.  I'm sure you can understand that we've been just a bit busy. I'll start with the kids. 
All six of them are doing well.  We had a bit of regression in Ian upon our return but that was to be expected.  He was the baby and now there are three more who are "younger" than him developmentally if not chronologically.  He's doing better now that we've been home two months! 
Gavin is learning to be a little less animated around the new littles and that personal space is important.  His "regression" upon our return was shown in anxiety, but thanks to caffeine, yes we give him coffee to help calm him down, he's doing much better.  We tried using lavender essential oils in a lotion, but unfortunately it caused an asthma attack.  We also take him, as well as Ian and Flora, out by themselves so that we have some personal time with them. 
Flora is being little mommy which we knew she would.  We're having to teach her that although she wants to play with and mother all four of her smaller siblings, she cannot pick them up or tote them around.  I say smaller siblings because although Gavin is younger, he outweighs her by at least 10 pounds.  She does not try to tote him around!
Misha, who we call Mr Fussy Pants, is quite opinionated.  He will definitely let you know if he does, or does not want something or want to do something, like go to sleep.  When he first got home he would SCREAM at the top of his lungs, which were quite substantial considering his itty bitty self, and he would do it for extended periods of time when laid down for bed.  No amount of appeasement would suffice.  However, he has stopped doing that, finally, and usually goes right off to sleep with the rest of the boys.  He's a picky eater and does not like too many fruits or veggies so we are having to find inventive ways to get them into his diet.  He is smart.  Very smart, and has learned to stand without the use of his hands since they are the weakest part of his body due to his arthrogryposis.  However, with all the tenacity of a pit bull, he is learning to use them and strengthen them in order to feed himself, play with toys, and wrestle his sister's pacifier out of her mouth!  He's learning English quickly and adds new words to his vocabulary daily it seems. He amazes us and we couldn't be more proud of him. 
Nicolai is becoming more affectionate.  He will snuggle and cuddle now where in the beginning he really was not interested.  He's learning to actually play with toys rather than just throwing them, although he still thinks it is hilarious to throw whatever is closest to him so that we have to pick it up.  He's walking very well and being the size of an infant, he looks absolutely adorable toddling across the floor.  He's learned to be more patient when we're eating.  Initially if he smelled food, he thought he should be eating and would throw an absolute fit, trying to climb my leg, while I was cooking.  Now he's pretty good about waiting until we're all at the table and have said prayer.  He does not throw a fit when eating any more and he waits to chew what's in his mouth before getting another bite although we still have to only give him one bite at a time since his eating habits are that of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.  He has learned to hold his own spoon, get the food to his mouth and hold and drink from his own cup.  He also is no longer throwing it on the floor in between drinks.  He's babbling new sounds in the past few days much like an infant would do which is great.  He has not done that previously.  Now I know you may be thinking, most kids do that, but trust me, these are huge milestones for him.
Leza is coming out of her institutional behaviors more and more.  We are seeing less stemming and more actual attending to her surroundings.  She's walking almost exclusively and not so much scooting.  She can also eat using a fork/spoon and drink independently from her own cup.  These are great strides for a little girl who would not even hold something in her hand two months ago.  She's playing with toys, the baby doll she sleeps with and she will actually look at a book.  Previously she would push anything away that was placed in her lap or hands.  She's learned a few words like Momma, Dada and Nite Nite and loves to sing (la la la la la).  I have started vocalizing with her and she will initiate it herself at times.  We gave her a binki to chew on in an effort to get her to stop grinding her teeth.  It's working pretty well.  She's maintaining eye contact more and more, and her eyes are becoming stronger.  We still feel she cannot see that well, in part from her strabismus, crossed eyes, but she may also be near sighted.  She has an eye appointment next week. 
Jode and I are doing well. Well, sort of well.  I've been sick off and on since early Dec while we were still in Ukraine.  I'm sure this past years' experiences have put a strain on my immune system in spite of my efforts to boost it.  I'm still battling something, but with six littles and two of them in school bringing home whatever is going around, it's sure to be a battle.  Jode too has been under the weather a little, but this too shall pass. 
Now I want to brag on Jode a bit.  Through all of this Jode has been working on his degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology.  Yes, Nuclear Engineering.  I know what you're thinking, he's that good lookin' and smart too?  Uh huh, that's what I thought when I first met him.  Too good to be true! ;-)  He'll be graduating in May with honors, 4.0 to be exact. He's already started applying for positions and has his first follow up appointment March 11th.  I couldn't be more proud. 
I think that's it for now.  If you've not seen any of our most recent pics, all of the kids are doing amazing, really.  We are very blessed to have each one in our lives and we are very excited to see what God has in store for each of them.
In closing, may I ask that you please remember to pray for Ukraine.  The country is on the brink of war and our hearts are breaking for the people there who we came to know and love.  Please, please keep them in your prayers. 
With love,
Jode and Kelley and family


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