Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fun Snow Day

After yesterday's stressful day we all enjoyed a relaxing day at home.  My Mom is still with us, as it would be impossible for her to get home.  Logan spent most of the day outside, only coming in for lunch and a change of clothes.  Without proper snow gear clothes can get really wet and cold quickly.

 Our yard was a fun place for some of the neighborhood kids to hang out.  I love it when Logan has so many great kids to play with outside.

 We took Nathan and Owen outside to play in the snow.  Let's just say Nathan and Owen were not fans.  Owen is not even laying touching the snow and he was still very unhappy!

 One of Logan's pair of pants were so frozen they could stand up on their own.

 In order to thaw out the boys played some Mario Kart.  These two are really concentrating.
 This is the road down the hill from our neighborhood.  My Mom's car is in a parking lot of a business at the bottom of the hill.  The wreck/pile-up/abandoned cars went on for quite a while.  I just stopped walking down there taking photos because I felt pretty awkward taking photos when so many people were dealing with their crashed/stuck/out of gas, etc cars.  None of these cars are moving.

 This is a few photos of our backyard in the snow.

We had a great day and were glad to all be together.  Tomorrow my Mom is planning to try and make it home and Preston is hoping to get to work, though he worked a lot from home today.  The boys and I will be hanging tight as school, therapy and basketball practice have all been canceled.  Not sure what Friday will bring but I do know the schools will make good decisions with the kids best interest in mind.

The adventure of January 28th

January 28th started out just like any other morning.  Logan hopped in the car of our carpool friends and he was off to school for the day.  I dropped Owen off at school and then took Nathan to ACT Clinic.  Nathan was observed by a speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and a few other people for about an hour working on and accessing different communication devices.  We have decided to go the augmentative communication devise route with him too in addition to continuing to work on his speech.  He did so well in the clinic!  We were so amazed at all his knows and could clearly communicate with us on the devise.  It was truly amazing.  I am so excited that he will be getting this and I think it is going to open his world in terms of communication.

While we were sitting in the clinic one of the ladies opened the blinds of the room to show us it was snowing.  While yes, a big deal for Alabama there had been no forecast for snow in our area so we all thought it was cute....knowing it would not last more than a few minutes.  Thursday was above 50 degrees so I assumed the ground would not be cold enough for anything to stick.

Nathan and I left the appointment and headed back to his school to drop him off so he could finish the rest of the day.  I noticed the snow started sticking and I was wondering if I should just get Owen and take them home.  I arrived at the school at 10:28 and immediately I received a phone call and e-mail that the school was closing.  They brought Owen to the car and we were on our way home.  I texted our afternoon carpool friend to see if she was still planning to get Logan if school closed early. She was, so I continued in the direction of our house.  My 2 1/2 mile trip took about 40 minutes.  The roads were already bad.  There were some areas of medium hills that cars were moving so slowly over.  I was dreading the HUGE hill to get into our neighborhood.  I had no choice but to get home.  There is no way I could get Nathan and Owen home if we had to walk.  I had 1 of their handicap strollers with me.  It is really heavy..and only one would fit in.  I would have to carry the other one and up a very steep, slippery hill I just did not see this as an option. I made it up the hill after several minutes...which is truly a miracle from God.  Once I got to our stop light my car refused to go any further.  I then decided to turn and go into our neighborhood from the oncoming traffics right turn lane (no one was coming at the time).  The van started sliding sideways down the hill.  After several attempts (and being nervous I was going to hit the car that had already been abandoned there) I made it!  Once I turned in to the neighborhood the street is pretty flat.  I even attempted our driveway...and made it though half way in I thought I was going to hit the wall...but did not.

Logan's school called and let everyone know they were planning to dismiss at noon.  They also said not to worry if you could not get there because they would keep staff there until into the evening.  At 10:45 the father of our afternoon carpool, Paul, got in his big 4 wheel drive truck and headed to get Logan and his daughter.  I figured he had a much better chance of making it there than I did.  Preston was not an option either because by this time (10:45) they had closed the road in front of Samford.  I was in contact with our afternoon carpool mom, Andrea all the time.  Paul finally made it to Logan's school about 2:30.  They then started the adventure home. 

The interstates closed, roads all over town closed, 4,000 people abandoned their cars because they literally could not go anywhere.  It was absolutely insane.  Preston planned to spend the night at Samford.  We later decided it would be good for him to walk home because he may need to walk and get Logan from wherever Paul made it.  Samford is only about 4 miles, but it was cold...being in the teens.  Preston made it home about 5:45...still no Logan...but in contact with Andrea. 
(Photos from Preston's walk home)

Paul did an incredible job and Logan made it home about 8:30.  Paul literally went way out of the way, avoiding Shades Mountain, the interstate, etc. and got him home safely!  Preston walked down to the BP at the bottom of the hill about 1 mile away to get Logan from Paul.

My Mom was a part of all this craziness too.  She left her office downtown at 11:00.  We are about 6 miles south of her office.  She ended up at the BP the same time as Logan and Preston and walked home with them, arriving at 8:30.  It took her 9 1/2 hours to get here and there is no way she would have made it to her house.  

We have so many friends that have their kids still at school, spent the night in their cars, walked miles and miles to get their kids or get home.  It was absolutely insane.  The ice was crazy and this was not forecasted...which is why we were not ready.  The weather has never been this bad in Alabama and Preston says the last time he remembers anything like this was 1982.  We are all at home chance of going anywhere.  We are excited to have Oma here with us today.  The weather is not getting above it will probably be Friday before the kids have school.

The nice thing is all the snow is still on the ground so we will be able to have some fun out there today!

Just a few random pictures from around Birmingham for out of state friends and family.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fun, Fun and More Fun

The word of the day was fun!  This morning Logan played a great basketball game.  After each game they receive a star.  Each star is a different color and recognizes something they did well in the game.  Logan received the gold star for sportsmanship.  He got hit in the head but brushed it off, did not get upset with anyone and started playing again.

Immediately after our post game pow-wow we headed to the BJCC to see the circus.  We were joined by two of the boys teachers Mrs Mary Jo and Miss Katie.  We all had a great time together!

After a late lunch and nap for Nathan and Owen we traveled just down the road to Samford to cheer on the Westminster Knights Varisty Boys Basketball Team in their Homecomming game.  They boys dominated and won 61-29.  Logan had a great job cheering on the sidelines and having fun with his friends.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Adoption Education for Family and Friends

Preston and I have spent the last few months soaking in tons of adoption education.  We have been so grateful for all we have learned knowing it will make our adopted daughter's acclimation into our family way more successful.  Here are a few educational bits for our friends and family.

Do's & Dont's for Family and Friends

-assist with household tasks
-ask questions
-redirect to parents
-care for biological children
-look to the parents for guidance and interaction
-read and educate yourself on adoption

-Don't overstep boundaries, if unclear, ask
-Don't forget/ignore the other children in the family
-Don't be judgmental or critical
-Don't give advice unless asked for
-Don't compare to biological children
-Don't be offended
-Don't assume the child is grateful, excited or appreciative they've been adopted
-Don't make everything about the kids
-Don't expect to see us soon
-Don't meet the needs of the child (food, gifts); this is the role of the parents during the attachment phase
-Don't visit for long periods of time (if at all)
-Don't ask questions about the child's history
-Don't lavish attention/affection on the new child
-Don't maintain eye contact for too long
-Don't hold, hug or kiss
-Don't bombard the child
-Don't pursue the child
-Don't try to be the child's favorite
-Don't encourage the child to come to you and leave their parents

How others can show love and support without hurting attachment

-Give space to the new family while expressing your love through cards, emails, phone calls, etc.
-Support the decisions of the parents (ask what the boundaries are and be flexible)
-If the child begins gravitating towards you, you need to show support by stepping back and avoiding eye/physical contact
- Trust the parents and respect the attachment process, then communicate it to others
-Ask how attachment is progressing and how you can help at that time
-Always assume the "safest route"

We learned on Friday that our social worker has written our home study report and sent it to her supervisor.  Soon they will be able to send it off to the government for approval!

This Week

We are totally back in the swing of things with school, therapy and doctor appointments.  I already miss the days of Christmas vacation and delayed start.  I do get an extra bonus and have all my children with me tomorrow for MLK.

Owen saw his physiatrist on Thursday.  They botoxed his hamstring.  Now it looks smooth and lush and he is ready for his leg modeling career. Okay, in all seriousness they Botox muscles that are very, very tight in order to "freeze" the muscle for a while and allow the other muscles around it to grow stronger.  Once the Botox wears off the hope is the other muscles are stronger and the strength of all the muscles is more balanced, making the hamstring less dominate and stiff.  We also talked a lot about Owen's digression in communication, mobility and movement. These are not normal for children with CP so the doctor sent Owen for a CT Scan to see if there are any new brain abnormalities.  He is also scheduled to see his neurologist in a few weeks and will also have an EEG performed to see if he is possibly having seizures.  Owen is still amazing and awesome and still talking, just not communicating on the level he was before.  Last night we were all watching the movie Planes.  Preston, Logan and I started having a conversation after a few minutes Owen looked over at us and very clearly said "be quiet".

We have had a good week of adoption progress.  We attended a two day training course that was phenomenal.  We learned so much about adopted children and raising them has to look different than biological children because of their traumatic past.  We learned many great techniques of coping with different situations, etc.  We also just learned so many great things about parenting in general that we are already applying with Logan, Nathan and Owen...and wow they really work!  Of course we had a great team of babysitters!  Olivia, Nathan and Owen's good friend Mason's Mom, brought all the boys home from school and watched them here until dinner time.  She did a great I knew she would...and her daughter Makala was a great helper.  Logan spent Friday afternoon with our carpool friends, the Boxes.  Preston's cousin Michele drove in Friday night and watched the boys all day Saturday (training from 8-5) and the Cooks took Logan to his basketball game on Saturday.  We are so thankful for such great family and friends to help out.  We learned, our first several weeks home with Karis will look different than the traditional bringing a baby home.  We will spend lots of time at home alone with her at first as she gets used to us and learns she needs to depend on her parents for her needs and attaches to us.  Once she attaches family and friends will then be introduced in to her life slowly.  I will put up information on how that transition will work soon and then a reminder closer to time.  This has everything to do with her transition to our family and nothing personal against any family or friend.

Nathan and Logan are doing really well.  Nathan continues to eat well and has his allergy test this Thursday.  I dread the pain he will go through but am excited to know what all he is allergic to and to what degree.  This will better help us meet his needs.  Logan is daily amazing me at how mature he is getting.  He is so excited and eager to help with his brothers and truly knows what they need.  The other day he was so encouraging of my Mario Kart skills (and they are pathetic).  All of my children are such a joy and blessing and I am honored to be their mother.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fun Weekend

We had a great weekend to end Christmas vacation.  Upward Basketball resumed and Logan did an awesome job. Preston is a great coach too!

 That is Logan's basketball going through the net!

We traveled to Atlanta for a fun weekend.  We reserved a room at the Marriott Marquis Downtown Atlanta.  (Thanks to an amazing steal on Priceline!)  The boys loved the view of the city from our hotel room.
 They all enjoyed some swimming in the indoor pool.

 For dinner we ate at Hard Rock Cafe.

 The Marriott Marquis has the largest atrium in the world, 45 stories.  It is a beautiful place.
 These views are from our room on the 17th floor.

That was all on Saturday.  Our Sunday was filled with lots of excitement too.  We attended One Heart Church, where our friend Geral Spicer pastors.  We loved worshiping with his congregation and learned a lot from his message.  We enjoyed catching up with his wife and long time friend, Cindy, after the service.  After church we enjoyed spending some time with our friends, Rob and Katie and their kids.  We met their new girls, Claire and Louisa. Their youngest son David (5) and Logan played for a few hours together.  When they lived near us in Birmingham a few years ago David was really little.  I enjoyed seeing Logan and David play so much together because they really did not know each other much before. It was great to see Joshua and Andrew again and spend a little more time getting to know Elizabeth.

We then headed to Georgia Tech and watched some Women's Basketball.  The boys enjoyed the game.

 After the game we had to stop at the Varsity for Frosted Oranges!

We are using these long drives to complete the book we need to read for our adoption.  We have read 190 pages of our Connected Child book and have about 40 more to go!