Tuesday, June 26, 2012


 Blake at the cottage
 Hanging out on the beach
 Emery at the cottage
 Putting the boat in for the Summer
 All excited for his first boat ride
 Blake lost a tooth
 Pool Fun
 At the lake
 Blake on the Ipad
 Emery loves this slide
Happy as can be

8 Weeks Home

The twins have now been home for 8 weeks and out of the orphanage for 9 weeks. I cannot believe how many changes we have seen in these kids in a 2 month time period. Blake is basically a typical 7 year old boy. We are still working on some social issues, like not taking off his clothes in front of company and not telling everyone he meets about his personal potty accomplishments! Blake has appointments the 1st week of July with an orthopedic surgeon and a vascular surgeon for his leg. We should definitely know what we are up against after these two appointments. I am eager to start the medical process for his leg. About two weeks ago, I was explaining to him that the wound specialist said it was ok for him to go swimming and get his leg wet. For 5 years, he has been told not to get his wound wet. So he is very apprehensive about believing his doctor. Even though he has accidentally got his leg wet a few times, he still will not get it wet on purpose. Anyway, while I was talking to him about getting his leg wet, he told me he wanted the doctor to give him two legs like his sisters and mommy. He had never before indicated he wanted his leg fixed. It made me want to get this process moving all the more. I always felt a little guilty about putting him through all of the stress and pain related to the surgeries he will go through. He gets around extremely well on his crutches and very few things slow him down. What if he didn't want to endure the pain to have 'normal' legs? I knew we would go through with it regardless, but I feel so much better knowing he wants his leg to be corrected. I know he doesn't completely understand everything involved in fixing his leg. But just knowing how he feels, makes a world of difference to me. Now all he talks about is playing basketball like his sisters and going golfing with his cousin! Blake is talking mostly in English, but has a couple Bulgarian words he still uses. He understands everything we say. We are now trying to encourage him to use sentences. We met last week with the school staff at our Catholic school and it was determined that Blake would start 1st grade in the Fall. He will have about 4 half hour tutoring sessions with his 1st grade teacher over the Summer to help him get to know her and her him. I am working on a large Kindergarten workbook with him through June and July and then plan to review the basics in August. Blake will need extra help throughout the year to help him catch up to his peers, but I think he will handle school well. He is very excited to start. He cannot wait to have a backpack like the other kids. Blake's behavior is excellent. He does what is asked of him and probably has only had one meltdown in the last 4 weeks. He now has family chores and receives an allowance just like his big sisters. He is very proud to do his chores. He still has trouble taking turns, but we are working on this and he is slowly getting better. He loves to play with his cousins. He loves going to our cottage and helping to drive the boat! He loves going to the hardware store with Dad and anywhere in the car! He loves following mom around constantly, which is beginning to drives mom nuts. So we are talking about privacy and personal space a little bit. He is a lovable kid with the best sense of humor. He is continuously goofing around and making us all laugh. Emery has come so far. She now knows what it is like to be in a family. She loves her morning hugs and kisses. She loves sitting on mom and dad's lap for some snuggles. She loves mom to pick her up and carry her around. No small task carrying a 40 pound kid around while trying to cook dinner and fold laundry! I love it however. She lets us kiss her all of the time now and even gives mom kisses on the lips! She sits on my lap for her bedtime story and let's me tuck her under her blanket. She doesn't stay under her blanket but loves to be tucked in. She still has a hard time falling asleep and will resort to rocking most nights. But she only rocks for a few minutes, so the rocking has decreased. She no longer bangs her head and has only hit herself maybe one time in the past 4 weeks. She is letting us console her a little bit, if she gets hurt. So we are still working on that. She still makes grunting sounds at times, but not as often. She does a lot more smiling now and has the most adorable giggle. Emery now can say 9 words. She sometimes will say them when we ask her to, but most times will not. She says them sporadically, in the correct context. She understands most everything I say to her, follows directions, and is learning self care skills. She loves to be praised and gets the cutest smile on her face when we tell her good job. I honestly don't think anyone has ever praised her. The look on her face when she accomplishes something is priceless. This little girl is learning how to do things by herself and is so very happy to do so. I show her how to do something once and the next time I tell her to do it and she does it! I think she is much more capable of learning than her caregivers thought. She is also quite stubborn. She refuses to use the potty. She will take me to the diaper cabinet when she has to go, but will hold it forever if I do not give her a diaper. This week is potty training bootcamp for Miss Emery. So we will see how it goes. Although she cannot talk much, she is quite capable of communicating. She shows us when she wants something, expresses her anger over not getting her way by slamming her bedroom door, and shows someone else what she wants if the first person didn't respond! We are glad she is 'voicing' her opinion even though sometimes it results in a time in for her. The twins will have a follow up appointment with their pediatrician in August. At that time we will determine what therapy Emery might need. We know she will need speech therapy and most likely occupational therapy. Also maybe sensory therapy. Our plan is to have her begin any necessary therapy this Fall and work one on one with mom more frequently since the other 3 kids will be in school all day. I am hoping to make good strides with her then. Emery is a happy little girl. She loves being in her little pool, loves the water at the lake, and loves going fast and hitting waves in the boat. She is quite the little gymnast. Always climbing something and walking on narrow surfaces. I do get nervous at times, but she has great balance. She loves going backwards down slides, being tossed on the coach, and jumping on her aunt's tramp. She gets mad when she cannot go outside and would prefer to be outdoors all day long. We try to accommodate her as much as possible. She loves going places in the car and can now get in and out of the car herself and shut her own door. She has a definite opinion about what outfit she wants to wear for the day and loves sneaking into her sisters room to go through their clothing drawers. We may have a fashionista on our hands! And she is as cute as a bug! The kids are doing well. But, it is still very trying at times. We had a two week period of colds running through the family and I was beyond exhausted. I am very tired by the end of the day and my patience is wearing thin by then. Bruce has not been able to go up to the cottage with us much and being a single parent over a 2 to 3 day period is hard. But we get through it. Nicole and Ashley are beyond helpful. They are wonderful big sisters! The kids all love being at the cottage, so we will definitely be going up there as much as possible. Ashley just finished up a week of basketball camp at Aquinas College and both girls are in a volleyball camp this week. They love their sports, so I am glad they can keep up their skills and have fun! We have had a good 2 months as a family of six. Looking forward to seeing the changes over the next two months. Hoping to post some pics later tonight!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bedtime Transition

Blake and Emery both are on a great bedtime schedule now. The psychologist from our adoption agency recommended that I sleep in their room on an air mattress with them for 6 weeks. Well, I did it faithfully for 4 weeks. I would read them a story, say prayers, and then sing them a song (that I made up years ago for the girls) and gently rub their back, arms, legs or face. It took Emery awhile before she would let me rub her, but she would give me a big smile when I would start singing. I did this until they fell asleep and if I wasn't totally exhausted, I would get up for an hour or so before going back to their bedroom to sleep on my air mattress. Both kids slept through the night most every night. After 4 weeks, I was more than ready to start sleeping in my own bed again and not have to lay in the room with them until they fell asleep. Blake did not take long to fall asleep, but Emery took forever to fall asleep. So, at the beginning of the 5th week, this is the transition plan I followed: Day 1 - 3: On day 1, I moved a small cd player into their room during the day and had them help me set it up. Played a baby Einstein cd for them and said we would play it again at bedtime. Followed the original bedtime routine for 3 days except substituted the cd for my singing and only rubbed them for the 1st song. Day 4 - 7: Eliminated the rubbing. Blake asked me to do it a couple times, but I just told him no and made sure I smiled at him while the cd was playing and made plenty of eye contact. During the day, I began talking about how every family member has their own bed and how each member sleeps in their own bed. I showed them Ashley's bed and Nicole's bed. I showed them mommy and daddy's bed and told them that pretty soon, mommy would be sleeping in her own bed. Day 8 - 10: On day 8, during the day, I moved the air mattress to my room and had them help me. I told them that mommy was going to start sleeping in her own bed. I told them that mommy always checks on them at night to make sure they are safe. I also told them that if they needed me during the night, they could come and wake me up. They also knew they could come in my room and go to sleep on the mattress during the night, if they needed to. For 3 nights, I sat on the floor in the middle of their beds while the cd played. I stayed in the middle until they fell asleep. Blake woke me up the 1st night to ask if he could sleep on the mattress in my room. I told him yes and that he did not have to wake me up to ask. He ended up coming to the mattress sometime during the night most every night for the next week, but he never woke me up again. Day 11 - 14: During the day on day 11, I told them that they were going to start falling asleep without mommy in the room. I told them they were big kids and I knew they could do it. At bedtime, I followed the same routine, story, prayers, tuck in and turned on the cd. Then told them good night, blew them a kiss, and told them that I would be out in the living room watching tv. I told them I would come back in a few minutes to check on them. I reminded them that mommy would be in her own bed during the night and if they woke up, they could come and sleep on the mattress in my room. But I encouraged Blake to be a big boy and stay in his own bed. The 1st night, Blake began fretting when I started to leave the room. I told him he would be fine and I would be right back to check on him, then I left and closed the door. He immediately hopped out of bed and opened the door and was all upset that I had shut the door. So, to give him a little control, I told him we could keep the door halfway open. He liked this idea and crawled back in bed. He continued to fret. I was faithful to my word and checked in on them every 5 minutes. Blake was asleep after about 15 minutes. Emery got out of her bed 3 times and came into the livingroom. The 1st time we put her back in bed and calmly told her to stay in bed. The second time we firmly told her to stay in bed. The final time we put her back in bed without saying a word to her. All of these times we guided her back to her room rather than picking her up to reinforce that she was not getting positive attention when she was disobeying. Emery has continued to get out of her bed at least once or twice some nights, usually shortly after I leave the room. Now all we have to do is stand up and look at her and she immediately heads back to bed, with a huge grin on her face! The second night of me leaving the room, Blake only fretted a few minutes. The third night, no fretting at all. Yes, they were finally falling asleep on their own!!! I mentioned that Blake continued to come in to my room and sleep on the mattress in my room. Well last week, I told him during the day one day that he now has to stay in his bed all night. At bed time, I reminded him that he had to stay in his own bed and I told him he could have a pop the next day If he did. Now Blake loves pop and I rarely let him have one, so he was all excited to hear this. He asked If I would give him 3 pops. Quite the negotiator he is! We agreed on two pops. He made it through the night without an issue. The moment he woke up in the morning he came directly to me with a big smile and said two pops mom! He got his two pops and later that day he helped me put away the mattress for good! So to sum this all up, I talked to the kids ahead of time about the changes, encouraged them to be big kids and made them feel proud of themselves, made sure they knew they were safe, and held firm to the rules. All and all I feel very pleased with the transition plan and the results. And best of all, mom is getting a little extra time at night with the girls or to herself, which makes mom a better mom the next day!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


After 4 weeks of sleeping in the twins room and a two week transition period, the twins are going to sleep on their own. I read their favorite book, Goodnight Moon, say prayers, tuck in and kisses, and I leave the room. No whining, no fretting, no tears! I check in on them every 5 minutes or so about 3 times, throw them kisses, and walk back out. Usually by the 3rd time, Blake is asleep and Emery has settled down. It takes her about 45 minutes to fall asleep. She is doing it on her own with minimal rocking, but with a few other self soothing behaviors. These behaviors are lessening as well. So I am out of their room by 8:15 and have plenty of time to spend with the girls, relax, or catch up on some chores. I feel so much better the next day with just a few hours to myself. Plus, the twins feel safe in their rooms and go to sleep happy. I did a lot of research on different techniques for transitioning out of their room. I kind of pieced together different suggestions and it went much smoother than I thought it would. I will post the method I used soon. Almost time for baths, so I will sign off for now!