Sunday, September 30, 2012

5 Months Home

Emery and Blake have been home now for 5 months.  Some recent milestones we have reached:

Emery is about  90% potty trained.  She still has an occasional accident.  She also does not communicate that she has to go when we are not at home.  Still working on that.

Blake started 1st grade and absolutely loves it.  His teacher and skills support specialist are very happy with his progress, feel he fits in well with his classmates and is a happy, joyful little boy.

Emery has been in therapy for 4 weeks.  Her therapist provided a progress report last week and can already see improvement.  She feels Emery has lots of potential.  Very good to hear.  Emery has mastered various puzzles and other therapeutic activities.  Which is a major change since she could not sit still for more than 2 minutes when she first arrived home.

Blake's self-care skills have improved from virtually none to many.  He uses the potty by himself, flosses and brushes his teeth, dresses himself, washes his hair and body himself, gets his own snacks, and cleans up after himself.

Emery loves to be held and cuddled.  She will randomly crawl on our laps throughout the day.  She seeks me out to engage in play with her.  She puts her head on my shoulder when I carry her.  She puts my arms around her when she is on my lap.  I am amazed at how far our little girl has come.  There is nothing better than holding a child that initially didn't want to be near you.

Blake bickers with his sisters and occasionally is a little mouthy with mom.  I know this may seem like a strange milestone.  But, this tells me that he is fitting in with our family.  He and the girls act like normal siblings.  Him being a little bit mouthy at times seems normal as well.  He is comfortable enough to voice his opinion because he feels safe.  He knows we love him and he understands that he is part of our family.

Emery is completely over her hitting episodes.  She is back to her normal giggly little self.  We are not walking on egg shells anymore with her and she is doing fine.  Thank you God for bringing her back to us.  I know we may face more of this stuff in the future.  At least I now know we can get through it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Emery is doing better

Emry is not quite back to herself again, but she is getting there.  We went to therapy yesterday, and her therapist tried a weighted lap pad on her and deep pressure massage to her arms and legs and light pressure massage to her head, shoulders and back.  Emery went in to therapy crying, moaning, and hitting herself.  Within 20 minutes of the lap pad and massage therapy, she was perfectly calm.  Within 30 minutes, she was engaging with me while playing in a bin of beans.  Best of all, she was smiling!  Her therapist also would give her slow, tight squeezes, release, and ask her if she wanted more squeezes.  Emery would actually reply "yes".  Her therapist continued this for about 10 minutes.  The last few minutes of our session, Emery wanted to do a few things that she normally did in therapy.  The transformation was unbelievable.  I love her therapist!  She let me take the weighted lap pad home.  Emery rocked on the way home, but was smiling the entire way.  We arrived home and she wanted a snack!  This was the first time she asked for a snack since last Saturday.  And this girl loves her snacks.  We had to leave again shortly after her snack to pickup  the kids from school and she put her shoes on and climbed in the car without any hitting!  She was excited to see the kids.  We came home and she went potty all on her own and wanted to get dressed.  So wonderful because even seeing clothes would have began a hitting episode before.  She lasted until about 7 pm and then became upset at shower time.  She began hitting herself and rocking.  We skipped shower and she went to bed rocking somewhat.  She settled down until about 9:30 and then she decided to get up and be all giggly and silly!  I didn't make her go back to bed because I was so happy to see her smiling until about 10:30.  She was up on and off all night but was not upset at all.  No hitting episodes yet today, and I even had to wake her to take the kids to school!  She isn't quite herself yet.  She has gone back to her room a couple times to rock for about 10 minutes or so.  But she has wanted to play with me, eat, get dressed and even had me put a barrette in her hair.  She is outside swinging right now, which although her favorite activity, she has not wanted to do since her episodes began.  I am so happy that I don't care that I am exhausted from little sleep last night.   I have been able to cuddle so much with her this past week, maybe these episodes were a bit of a blessing in disguise in attachment progress!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Self-Soothing, Self-Injury

It has been a very difficult weekend.  After a wonderful week with Emery showing some improvement and being so very happy, she took what seems to be a giant leap back.  Emery has always used self-soothing techniques to calm herself.  She rocks and hits herself in the head with her fists.  The hitting has steadily decreased over time to the point where she may have a brief episode once every two to three weeks.  On Saturday morning, she woke up in her normal happy mood.  After about an hour, she started hitting herself and became very upset when I asked her to brush her teeth.  This was not normal, but I thought she must just be expressing some emotion over something.  Well, she wouldn't calm down.  Which is not normal for her.  Normally, her hitting episodes would only last 5 maybe 10 minutes.  We normally would just try to talk gentle to her and tell her everything was OK, and she would be over it.  She continued trying to hit herself on and off all day long.  We were holding her for most of the episodes because we were afraid the continuous hitting wasn't good.  The strange part of all of this is that she wanted us to hold her and cuddle her and gently try to hold her arms.  But, it was like she just couldn't stop hitting herself.  By evening, we noticed her head by her temples was beginning to bruise from the hitting.  We decided to take her to the med center just to rule out any ear or throat infections or other illness.  She cannot talk much so it was not possible for her to let us know if she was hurting.  No infections or abnormalities were found at the med center.  She calmed down on the way home and fell asleep in her rocking chair soon after arriving home.  She slept through the night and woke up in a happy mood.  That didn't last long and soon she started hitting herself again and sobbing.  Once again, all day long this continued.  She wanted to be held but could not stop hitting herself without us holding her arms gently.  I decided to call the after hours pediatrician line because I was concerned her new TB medication might have a mood changing side effect.  The doctor felt this was unlikely and told us to call back tomorrow.  She slept through the night with the exception of moving from her bed to her rocking chair, which she does often.  Woke up all smiles.  She saw me take out a clean pull up from the cabinet and the hitting began again.  Continued for over three hours.  We did not let her hit herself for this long. we held her.  While she was being held and sobbing and trying to hit herself, she kind of looked half asleep by the end of the 3 hour episode.  Then she kind of opened her eyes up real wide, smiled, and as been fine since.  We are walking on egg shells trying not to upset her.  If she comes to us for something, she is fine.  But if we approach her with a drink or snack she looks like she is about to start another episode and runs off.  She hasn't started another episode, but it seems like she could have one at any time.  Today we talked to the international adoption team in Cincinnati, our adoption social worker and we have a call into Emery's therapist.  This is what they think is going on:  they do not think the TB medicine is the cause because she has been on it for 2 weeks and a reaction would have occurred sooner than now.  They think she is under stress just from the changes in our home over the last 3 weeks.    She has had three major changes, we are no longer going to the cottage on the weekends, she started therapy, and her siblings are in school and she has mom completely to herself most of the day.  They gave an idea to slowly transition her out of the episodes.  They feel we should try to keep stress to a minimum and use the transition technique they gave us and then call them back on Wednesday.  This is what we are going to do.  It is just scary because she rarely hit herself anymore and it has never lasted over 10 minutes, let alone 3 days.  Has anyone ever experienced this before?  Is it common to take such a major step backward?  Does anyone have any other ideas of what could be going on with her?  Any suggestions?

Friday, September 14, 2012


I know I do not post many pictures.  Pictures from my camera are a pain to upload on my computer.  So, I always procrastinate!  Anyway, here a lot of pics.  Hopefully, I haven't duplicated any!  These are not in any particular order.

 4th of July Fun.  We are normally at the cottage on the 4th.  But, this year, the 4th fell on a Wednesday and Blake had medical appts both the day before and the day after.  So we were at home for sparklers!

 Blake and his cousin Avery hanging out on the 4th of July.
 Even the kitty likes to relax at the cottage!
 Blake loves my brother's dog Harley.
 Happy as can be to be riding on the boat!
 The girls showing off!
The dogs go along with us on the boat every time.  They have claimed their spots at the front of the boat.
 Dinner at one of our favorite restaurants near the cottage.
 We have to keep Emery trapped in the booth so she doesn't go exploring!
 Blake and Emery on their 1st Indian Lake Hike with Dad and Ashley.

 Trying to get a family picture.  Emery was way to giggly to cooperate!
 Relaxing on the boat.
 Chilling at out hotel in Cincinnati after a long day at the International Adoption Clinic.
 Dinner while in Cincinnati.

 Catnap for Blake and Ashley on the long drive to Cincinnati.
 Blake has lost another tooth and is very proud of his money from the tooth fairy.
 Relaxing at the cottage.
 Emery loves the hammock at the cottage.
Grandma Susie (my mom) with all of her grand kids:  Emery, Nicole, Avery, Blake, Conner and Ashley.
 Kayaking with Uncle Eric.
 Captain Emery!
This is my favorite picture, just taken last weekend.  Ashley was getting the twins ready to cheer for their sisters at the volleyball games.  Go Wildcats!
No idea how this pic of Blake from the 4th of July ended up down at the end.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Emery began therapy last week.  It went well.  Of course, everything the therapist works on with her involves something she loves, such as swinging, climbing, sliding and dumping buckets of balls over her head.  The therapy combines all types of therapies into one.  So we are covering speech, occupational and physical therapy.  They base all activities on Emery's strengths to improve her areas of weakness.  Emery was diagnosed with two specific conditions in addition to global development delays.  She has speech apraxia.  Basically, her brain is not sending messages at a normal speed to her mouth.  This is why she so often mouths words but no voice comes out.  It also explains why she understands everything that is said to her, but doesn't talk much.  Speech apraxia can be congenital or a child can develop it from lack of  being talked to.  Emery also has a visual perception disorder.  She does not use her eyes to complete tasks.  For example, rather than looking at a puzzle to see where a piece may fit, she will try to fit the piece while looking elsewhere.  This most likely is caused from severe lack of eye contact with caregivers.  It brings tears to my eyes thinking about her being left alone for very long time periods with no form of interaction. Fortunately, with therapy both conditions can be overcome.  The therapist is beginning sessions with a specific reflex therapy to basically fill in gaps in her development that began early in her life.  The process is very specific, but I have not had time to thoroughly research it.  It sounds promising and Emery enjoys the reflex therapy.  We plan to continue therapy for a year and then consider education based on her abilities at that time.  I thought she might miss having all the kids around, but she seems to be enjoying her mom time.  This is probably the first time in her life she has had love and attention all to herself.  I believe Emery will really progress over the next year.  One thing is for sure,  she is a happy little girl and she is so unbelievably cute!


Nicole, Ashley and Blake are in their 3rd week of school already.  It is going better than I imagined for Blake.  He was so excited on his 1st day and so proud to sit at his desk.  I was so worried about the day being too long for him.  But he has not had any issues at all.  From day one, he has walked out of school with his sisters and cousins smiling from ear to ear.  His first question to me is "mom, school tomorrow?".   I am so happy for him and thankful he loves it.  He seems to be transitioning into the school routine extremely well.  He is such a little charmer, the school staff just love him.  His joy and spirit are infectious.  I love my little guy so much!  I have an 8th grader, 7th grader and 1st grader.  Quite the age span.  I am most likely the oldest 1st grade Mom, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bulgaria Faith Hope Love T-Shirts

I have there new Bulgaria T-Shirts available to give away.  They are exactly like the T-Shirts in our family picture above.  They are Adult size Medium.  Two shirts have never been wore and one was wore once, but I can't tell the difference.  The shirts say Faith, Hope, and Love in both English and Bulgarian.  If anyone is interested, I will send them free of charge.  Contact me at