Friday, December 31, 2010

Henry

Goal reached!  Henry has $1,000.00 in his grant fund!

Thank you to all those who helped.  I'll be keeping my eye on Henry and will let you know if his forever family finds him.

I'll also post the grand total of the Angel Tree donations when I find out.  There are so many kids with huge grants!  Now all they need is a family.

Could it be you?

May 2011 be a year where record numbers of families step out in faith, and provide homes for these precious souls.



Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.
–Cadet Maxim


Hope you all have a blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Play Date



Ben had his first play date yesterday!  My new friend Amy brought her two boys over so the Mom's could chat and the boys could play.  While I didn't take any pictures, we had a great time!

It is such a blessing to have a friend who is an experienced Mom of 3 boys with DS.  Yep, you read that right, 3!  Amy has one biological son with DS and she adopted 2 very special boys from Russia.

Amy has a beautiful family and a huge heart for orphans with Down syndrome, you can check out her blog here.

Thanks again Amy!  I look forward to many more play dates.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A most important post....



....to read and consider over coffee this morning,  here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I wish I knew who he was calling...

....and what they are talking about.
























cause it sure sounded like an interesting conversation. :)


Sunday, December 19, 2010

TKD Testing


The girls both tested this past week for their next level Tae Kwon Do belt.  They were promoted to 4th geup.  Tests are always fun to go watch.  We see them in class doing their thing week after week, but on test night, with their nervous energy going, they really shine.  I'm always amazed by how hard they work, how much they have to remember and how far they have come.































Congratulations on your accomplishment girls!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Change of Plans

I was contacted by Catholic communications company called The Maximus Group located in Atlanta, Georgia, to help promote a new movie.


Change of Plans is the latest offering from Family Movie Night, presented by Walmart and P&G. It's the story of Sally and Jason Danville, a young couple with plenty of love, talent, and career opportunities - and no responsibilities. When Sally's childhood friend dies and entrusts her with four children, Sally and Jason begin a journey that changes the focus of their lives and expands their definition of family. Three of these four children have become siblings through international adoption, and the movie offers a challenging, heart-warming insight into the joys and struggles of building a family from a group of strangers.


:30 Change of Plans from Moms4FamilyTV.com > on Vimeo.
>



It looks really cute, and Brooke White from American Idol is in it!  Love her!


Change of Plans airs on Saturday, January 8 on Fox.  


Let me know if you get a chance to watch it, tell me what you think! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Helping Henry...:)

My sister, Jen has a wonderful post today about last minute gift ideas.  Go check it out!

One of the ideas she posted is a very cute lego rosary.  

**If you purchase a rosary between now and December 31st, and mention Henry, Mark will donate $5 toward Henry's fund!**

Henry's fund is now at $215, let's see if we can make that $1,000 goal!

Home Schooling Your Child With Down syndrome, a Resource List




While I am just beginning to research this topic more in depth, and am by no means an expert, I wanted to share some resources I'm exploring.  I'm hoping it helps to organize my thoughts, so much to think about.




Blogs:



MommyLife (Good Montessori based resources, and tips) 


Websites:

Riverbend Down Syndrome Association (A great all around resource, but especially loved the section on HS)


Communicating Partners  (Not necessarily a HS site, but great info on being your childs' first, and most influential teacher)

Many of the popular HS curriculum sources have adapted materials for children with special needs.  Seton (which I've heard great things about!  Has resources for children who need special services) 

Books:









Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wrapping Up Our Week - 12/10/2010




No pictures this week, I guess we've been busy!

Busy and productive, I should say.  We've gone completely back to basics as far as school goes, and it has made all the difference.  We stripped away all the extra, "busy" work that was clogging up our day. 

 We have for some time, been following the Robinson Curriculum (RC), but adding in a few extras out of worry that it wasn't enough on it's own.  

My sister, Jen,  is considering making some curriculum changes at her house, and asking questions about RC.   Nothing like questions and research to rekindle a flame!  Discussing things with her, has helped me to remember why I loved this curriculum to begin with.   By adding in the extras along the way, based on my own insecurities, I have watered down my childrens' education. 

Simplifying their day, actually allows them a more in depth study of the basics.  It also allows them to self-teach, a skill that builds confidence, independence, and a true, lasting understanding of their subject.  I'm not spoon feeding them the information, they are taking responsibility for their own education, with my supervision and leadership, of course.   

So, what does an RC day look like in our home?

The girls begin their day with 1 lesson of Saxon math, this includes reading/referencing the daily lesson, then working all the problems in the lesson practice.  They also correct their own work, keeping track of their accuracy rate for the day.  We are going to start graphing this, in hopes of continuous improvement of focus.  Typically they are getting 2-3 problems wrong the first time through.  Not bad out of 30 problems.  Usually they are careless mistakes.  

We discuss their results.  What went well, what was difficult, etc.  It's fun to see them invested in and excited about their work.

After math, they move on to writing or reading.  They are just beginning to move through the RC reading list.  I love this list, but the books are tough. It's mostly, out of print, oldies, but goodies.  No twaddle here!  It's been a little hard for them to get into, because they are just more difficult to read than they are used to.  Proof positive that the educational standards have dropped considerably in this country.  

Reading consists of  a chapter or two a day, and memorizing vocabulary words from a pre-determined list for each book.   

The goal for writing is an essay a day.  We are not there yet.  This week the girls did some creative writing, then IEW'd a paragraph from their current reading.  We are still working on getting a good structured paragraph before they are let loose on essay's.  

The end result was a more productive, more calm week.  The girls spent more time on less work, and felt more challenged.  

With Owen, who is 6, we have been concentrating solely on reading, handwriting, and math basics.  Skip counting, memorizing math facts, reading skills, and copy work,  fill his time right now.  This is all in preparation for his first RC year.   I'm not sure if he will be ready in the fall for that or not, we will see.

So, what is Ben up too?

Exploring, babbling, and eating fill his day.  He continues to do really well. 

 The spitting up has improved tremendously!  I'm not sure if this is a result of his metabolism being regulated by correcting his thyroid issue, or because we have removed gluten from his diet.  We did both at about the same time, so who knows.  Whatever the reason, we are loving the results.  

We also had our first post-placement visit with our social worker this week.

Also re-kindled this week, knitting!  The girls picked up their needles again, and have been obsessed ever since.   Fun!  And something we all love. 

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a "dirty Jobs" kind of day

The kids have really been into watching "Dirty Jobs" lately.  I admit to getting sucked in occasionally.  Thank you Netflix for wii.  I'm thinking of contacting the show.  (Not really, just one of my many crazy thoughts you are being subjected to).  Has Mike ever been a Mom for a day?   I know he's been a pig farmer, a pigeon pooper scooper, and even a high rise widow washer.  But somehow I don't think those compare to what the average Mom sees in a day.   I'd love to see him cleaning up spit up, wiping the runny nose of a reluctant victim, cleaning up after a messy pureed toddler meal, and changing a very p**py diaper on a little one with very busy hands, if you catch my drift, and all in the same 30 minute time period.  Oh, and with at least 2 other children yelling for his attention all the while.  Many Mom's I know have way more than that to contend with!


{Yes, he's very cute and smart.  It's a talent to be so messy and make us laugh at the same time!}

So, ladies, what is your messiest story?  Come on, I need some amo for promoting the show idea!  Let them see that we have the best, dirtiest job ever!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Such An Honor




Barbara Curtis, who blogs over at MommyLife, featured our family on her last post , on the last day of National Adoption Month.

Such a nice post, by a very nice lady.  Thanks Barbara!

Barbara is the Mother of 12 children, including 4 with Down syndrome.  After the birth of their son Jonny(DS), they went on to adopt 3 boys who had all been blessed with Down syndrome.

She is an amazing Mom, with tons of great advice for Mommy's of all children.  Visit her today!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ben update

Ben continues to do well.  It is a joy having him in our family.

He started treatment for his low thyroid function, and had his cardiology appointment last week.  His appointment went well, but they need to repeat his echo.  He was a little too wiggly for the technicians taste, so the next one he will be sedated for.  :)  I don't anticipate any problems.  They just want to be 100% sure they can clear him of any issues.


Last night I decided to let Ben try and feed himself.  I'm not one for messes, so this was a stretch for me. Ben enjoyed it immensely as you will see.

Oh, the concentration....


....the focus...


...the joy in his success!  


Making sure to get every last bite.  This boy loves his food.


The end result.  An oatmeal facial.


Next time, I'll remember the bib!

I don't know how he does it, but this boy makes us belly laugh on a daily basis.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Cheer




{Doesn't Marney look happy?}

Last night we took all the kids to see some holiday lights at the zoo.  The pics didn't turn out great, but we had fun!


Tonight we are making our Jesse tree and beginning our Advent celebration.  This e-book can be downloaded for free, ornaments included.  Should be fun!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving





There is so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Disappointment, Decisions Made, Prayers Answered

That's what is running through my head today.

Disappointment at hearing from my boss today that they no longer need the temporary employees on my unit, me included.  Part of me was looking forward to possibly going back, I love my job, I love being a nurse.  I love contributing to my family financially, easing Jim's burden.  That was, after all, why I went back to school in the first place.  We had lived through the ups and downs of the Michigan auto industry, experienced a "recession" long before the rest of the state/country felt the effects.  We knew it was coming.  We wanted some financial stability.  Plus, I have always wanted to be a nurse.  It was a win, win situation.  I worked really hard to earn that degree.  I was really good at my job.  I put a great deal of my heart and soul into nursing.  So, today I'm feeling disappointed.  Maybe a little sorry for myself, too.  My ego has been bruised.

As much as I love being a nurse, I love my family more.  I feel needed here.  Now more than ever.  This is why I have been agonizing about this decision.  To go back or not to go back, that was the question weighing heavily on my heart and mind.  I want to be home, but how can I just give up everything I have worked so hard for?  How can I give up the paycheck, that allows us to feel somewhat OK at the end of the month?  I've been praying for help making that decision.  I wanted someone else to make it.  How could I ever choose my job over my family.   Today I guess my prayer was answered, the decision was made for me.  Making it harder in some ways, I've never left  job where it was not on my terms, but easier in others.

I read a quote once about making decisions, about, how do we know what God wants us to do.  I can't find it right now, but it went something along the lines of "If God wants us to do something, He will open the door, if not, He will close it."  As simple as that.  How freeing in many ways.  Don't take the disappointments personal, it just wasn't His plan for your life at this moment.

Maybe God just wants me to put my whole heart and soul into raising these 4 fantastic kids.   I've seen his hand all along in this journey, the timing of certain things, landing a great job in the first place.  Maybe it all happened to help bring Ben home, to help me be a better Mom for Ben, for all our kids.




This did make me smile today:

" If you can't be a good example, then you you'll just have to be a horrible warning."



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wrapping Up Our Week, a little late...

It was good to get going on our new version of a "normal" week.  The kids were glad to get back to school, even though adding Ben to the mix required a little tweaking of our routine.

Nothing has changed for the girls, they are still doing Math first thing, followed by writing, phonics, handwriting, and spelling.  It's all just a little noisier these days!  I've been doing group work (bible, and nature study) just before nap time.  Ben is great at entertaining himself for 20-30 minutes as long as we are close.  Once Ben goes down for his nap, it's my one on one time with Owen.  He is has really taken off with math, reading, not so much.

I think this routine is going to work out well.  For now anyway.  :)

The kids had Zoo school this week, they are really enjoying learning new things and making new friends.  (They were also missing some special friends that were not there this time.  You know who you are...that's all I'll say....I might cry if I go on.  Did I mention I missed those friends too and their Mommy?  OK, I'll stop now.)  They all commented when we got home about how nice it was to be in classes with kids who share their love of learning and who are mature students.  Homeschoolers rock!

Free time in the morning for Owen gives he and Ben plenty of time for some testosterone filled monkey business.  Important for brothers, I think.  Even at the expense of my tupperware cabinet.


Their relationship is growing already.  At first Ben would hit and growl when Owen would approach. Owen would get up and walk away.  Ben learned quickly this was no way to make friends!  There was an older boy with DS at the orphanage about Owen's size, who was not very nice to Ben, so I'm sure this was just his defense's kicking in.  He didn't know any different.  Now he is starting to learn that having a brother can be lot's of fun.  

(The hair pulling has also stopped for the most part!  He has come such a long way in very little time.) 


GI update:  Mr. Ben is not so happy here being confined to his high chair.  We have been trying to keep him upright for about at least 30 minutes after meals, we have found that it greatly reduces his spitting up episodes.  Also, we are thickening his liquids, and feeding him a bland pureed diet.  Yummy right?  It's all helping though.  His GI appointment isn't until January, so we are doing all we can to minimize his discomfort in the meantime.

We try to keep him busy with toys, books, and singing silly songs.

We have also started having him drink from a straw.  I've read several different articles that the best thing for oral-motor development is drinking thick liquids through a straw.  Easy enough to do at home, and tasty too.  I'm thinking smoothies!  Jim helped me figure out how to make our own honey bear for straw training, the ones they sell on therapy websites are expensive.  

Ben also picked up 2 new signs this week, one is real, and one is not.  He quickly learned the sign for "clean" he is always taking off his socks and cleaning to floor, high chair tray, whatever surface needs it apparently.  Just what were they making him do at that orphanage I wonder?  So, we say clean, clean, when he does this and finally put the ASL sign with it for him.

  The other sign was made up by his clueless parents.  In our vain attempts at teaching him in english exactly who Mommy and Daddy are, we used gestures and loud voices of course!  That always helps when communicating with others who do not speak english doesn't it?  The louder the better, I have found.  We were using our hands to gesture to ourselves (waving our hands toward our chest) and saying (I'll put most the blame on Jim here, just because I can) "Me Daddy, you Ben."  Not quite that caveman-like, but you get the picture.

Anyway, every time we asked Ben to say Momma or Daddy, he was slapping his chest.  Why is he doing that,  we asked?  That's not the sign for Mommy or Daddy!?!  Huh.  Did I tell you this boy was smart?  


Everyone needs a sister who puts pants on your head, and gets a good laugh at your expense, right?


Ah, there's nothing a home schooling Mom loves more that seeing her kids crowded around the computer for non-educational purposes.  Not!  We don't have cable, but guess what?  It turns out, you don't need it!  If your kids are the least bit computer savvy, they can find plenty of junk right on the computer.  I have a serious love/hate relationship with technology.  Most days I just want to throw the TV and the (kids) computer out the window.  (I would keep mine of course)  But then I remember we are just not that family.  We like to balance all the learning with a little junk.  We wouldn't want to be known as the weird family or anything, right?  Oh, wait.  Might be too late for that.  

Anyway, it looks like Ben is enjoying being corrupted.  He lived for two years without TV, he has a lot of catching up to do.  Who is this Dora character you speak of?  


More playing.  Owen builds the tower, and Ben, waits patiently while Owen builds an architectural masterpiece knocks it down before he's finished.


Ben had his "welcome home" blood work done this week.  Marney and Owen came back to the lab for moral support, while Madeline wisely stayed in the waiting room.  Ben screamed bloody murder, and Marney got a little weak in the knees and had to sit down.  I thought we were going to have two patients for a second there!

The results came back great except for his thyroid function seems to be a little low, so he goes back to the doctor next week.  They will most likely repeat the test, or do a different one.  If he is hypothyroid, this would explain many of the symptoms he is having, that I thought were GI related.  His restless sleep, hoarse voice (at times), and swallowing issues (choking).  It would also explain his slow growth, tongue protrusion, very dry skin, and breathlessness with activity (although not in a cardiac way-I just thought it was because of his big belly!).  

The only thing that worries me, is that putting him on synthroid would return him to his "natural" activity level.  Hypothyroid tends to cause sluggishness, and sleepiness.  If this is Ben sluggish, then Ben on synthroid frightens me!

Ben is going to be busy with doctors appointments in December and January.  I'm holding off on getting therapy evals for now, I don't want to bombard him with too much stuff so soon.  Being home and having 3 typical siblings is stimulating enough for now. :)

So that was our busy week.  We are looking forward to a short school week,  Thanksgiving at Mom's, and Daddy home for 4 whole days, yeah!

Have a great weekend, what's left of it anyway!



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hey!




Henry suddenly has $155 in his grant fund!

That's $125 raised this week!

Awesome!

Thank You!!!

Every dollar brings Henry closer to finding his family.


Don't you just want to squeeze his chubby cheeks?

And snap up his pants?

He's so cute!




Sunday, November 14, 2010

Meeting Ben


Jim captured the first time we met Ben on video...


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christmas Warrior Info


I finally received the link to Henry's sponsorship page.  You can find it on the left hand side of this blog.  Click on it!  The link will take you to a page where you can see all the children on the Angel Tree this year.  Scroll down a little ways and you will find Henry's picture.  Click on his name, and that will lead you to the page where you can make a tax deductible donation directly to Reece's Rainbow.  

OR

You can just click here.  It will take you directly to his page, but it's kind of fun to take the long route and check out how much has been raised for the other children.

Reece's Rainbow will add your donation directly to Henry's grant fund. 

If you give a gift of $35 or more by December 15th, you will receive an ornament with Henry's picture to hang on your tree.


While not every family is called to adopt, you can still make a difference in the life of an orphan.  Thank you for making a difference for Henry.
 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wrapping Up Our Week





This was Ben's first week home.  So, how did it go?

Let's take a look...







{Ben's first participation in the Brown family after dinner kitchen dancing}



I'd say he fits right in.

Really, it feels like he's always been here.

The kids can't get enough of him, they have been such a huge help.  Someone is always offering to get him dressed (which is no easy feat, let me tell you!  He is a wiggly boy.),  offering to feed him, or take him outside to play. 

The girls each told me on separate occasions, "Mom, I just love him, I forget that he has Down syndrome."

The first time I heard this I was speechless.  It took me a while to process that statement, because it's something that I struggle with, and I'm his Mother.   Is it the innocence of childhood that let's them forget?  Is it the cynicism of the adult world, or the pressure to be perfect that forces me to always keep it in the back of my mind?  

I guess I can't totally forget.  It's my responsibility as his Mother to help Ben be all that he can be.  This will mean that he needs a little extra help in certain areas.  But I don't ever want Down syndrome to be the first and only thing I, or anyone else for that matter, sees.  He is so much more.  

He is a happy, silly, and playful boy.  He loves to laugh.  He loves music.  He loves to eat.  He is strong willed, but compliant at the same time.  He is loud, and demands attention.  He loves to snuggle.  
He has a gift for making sure that for every encounter he has with another human being, that person walks away smiling.  How many people can say that?

No, he's not perfect, but who is?  My hair's a mess and I have baby slobber on my shoulder at all times, who cares?  Any life worth living is a messy one.  We all have issues, some of them just can't be covered up with make-up, nice clothes, and a big house.

The second time I heard that statement, I was a little more prepared and said, that's great honey, because that's the way it should be.  We should all just see Ben when we look at him.  Just like we do with everyone we love.  We see the good, the bad, and the ugly, and love them anyway.

I'm so happy they have figured this out at such a young age.  I know this experience is making them more compassionate and more sensitive people.

***********

Lest you think it's  been all rainbow's and butterflies around here this week,  there have been some struggles.  Normal things that go on when adding a new member to your family.  There has been a few tears, some jealous feelings, some "can we send him back?" moments.  But, I know they will get fewer and farther between as the weeks pass.

The three big kids have been sick with a stomach virus.  Nothing says welcome back to reality more than a stomach virus!  

Even that felt good though, it felt good to get back to taking care of all my kids.  I never thought a stomach virus could feel like a blessing.

************

Ben went to the doctor on Wednesday.  He has some growing to do.  He is only 21lbs.  That only puts him in the 10th percentile on the DS growth chart.  He didn't even score on the regular chart!  He's been ordered to eat.  That won't be much of a hardship for this boy.   

Other than that he looks great, and doesn't have to go back for 3 months.

In the meantime, he will need to be cleared by a cardiologist,  have his vision checked, and have some blood work done.  I'll be scheduling those appointments today.

************

Have a great weekend!


I'm linking up with Jen @ Forever For Always No Matter What.  Be sure and visit, and share your week as well.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Home Sweet Home




Here are a few pics of our homecoming.  Never before have I been so glad to see our family and be home.




We missed these kids so much.  Madeline gave us the hugest hugs ever, she was a sight for sore eyes.  Man, have we missed that girl. 


I love this girl in purple.


OMGoodness how I missed my little man.

He said, "Mom I missed you so much, I even forgot how your hair smelled."

Then, "you know I'm sleeping in your bed tonight, right?"  Yes, I certainly had planned on that.

He looked so grown up, wearing jeans and everything.

Tell me, how can I keep them little?


Leah and Ben meet at last.  I so cannot wait to see the relationship that forms between these two little souls.


Ben was a trooper.  23 hours of travel, 3 different planes, and he still managed to smile through most of it.

He didn't mind his first car seat ride too much.  Once he settled in, he jabbered all the way home from the airport.   The other kids laughed in all the appropriate places.  He just ate up their attention, and appreciation for his witty humor.  I think he's going to like it here.

He crashed shortly after getting home, and slept all night.  There will be much exploring today.   

P.S.

We came home to an extremely clean home ( my Mom worked her magic, I don't know what she does it, but I can never get my house to feel this clean.), a meal in the fridge, all the kids laundry caught up and put away, gifts, and a "Welcome home Ben" cake made by our very own Cake Boss.   

Oh, and a few home projects complete, Thanks Dad!  The stairs looks great!

Thank you to our wonderful family, we are grateful, and feel very loved.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We Have The Visa!


Heading home in the morning!

Pray for our safe travels, and that Ben does not spend the whole trip spitting up.  :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Update



As much as I'd like to say we are packing for our return trip, I can't.

We had our embassy appointment Monday, and received word today that Ben's visa will not be ready in time for us to fly out Thursday.

They need "a few more" days.

What does that mean?

I can't call the airline and tell them to change our tickets to "a few days" from now.

Hopefully we will be able to fly out Saturday.

Say a few prayers for us!



Saturday, October 30, 2010

We Are Christmas Warrior's





Please help us raise $1000.00 this Christmas season for this little cutie.

Soon, I will be posting a Chip-In on my side bar, where you can make a tax deductible donation directly to Reeces' Rainbow, to be added to his adoption fund.  

All too often, the huge expense of adopting is the only barrier standing in the way of loving families giving these children a forever family.  Your donation can help make the dream of adoption, reality.

Please keep Reeces' Rainbow in mind when planning your giving this Christmas season.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ben Fact Sheet

I want to record some fun (and a few not so fun) facts about Ben right now.  I'm hoping this will be a way to track his progress over the next several months of him being home, and being part of a family vs. orphanage life.

Come on, let's find out all about me!


Fact 1:  Ben was born on July 19th 2008 in Goris, Armenia, he is 2 years and 3 months old.  He weighs about 20 lbs, and is wearing size 18 month on bottom and 18-24 month on top.  His feet are tiny.

Fact 2:  He is stinkin' cute.

Fact 3: He says "Momma," "Dadda," and "eat" very clearly.

Fact 4:  He knows the signs for "eat", and "more."   He already knew the sign for "eat," we have been working on "more" with him, it didn't take long.  He is a great student.

Fact 5:  He doesn't have too many orphanage behaviors, but teeth grinding, and growling at us when he is not happy with something are two we hope will go away quickly.  Oh, he also sucks on his fingers a lot, and likes to pull hair.  :)

Fact 6:  I think he is having some dysphagia (swallowing) issues, he coughs often with thin liquids, and has difficulty swallowing anything other than baby food consistency.  Definitely will get that evaluated when we get home.

Fact 7:  Reflux is a huge issue.  He spits up often, and has a hoarse voice.  We put him back on Zantac and this seems to be helping a bit.  He keeps sticking his fingers down his throat and making himself spit up, we're not sure if he is doing this because his throat hurts, it's a self stim thing, habit, or attention seeking. 

Fact 8:  He loves bath time.  It's a good thing, because, boy does he need one by the end of the day (see fact 7).

Fact 9:  He is a super sleeper.  He has been consistently sleeping for 12-13 hours straight every night, and naps for 2 hours after lunch.

Fact 10:  He is happy, playful, and engaging.  His favorite toys right now are soft activity books and his soft photo albums.  He loves to talk about who everyone is, and kisses them each in turn.  Also, every time he sees himself in a mirror, he blows himself a kiss.  No self esteem issues here!

Fact 11:  He is walking more and more, taking 5-6 steps independently, and walks quite a ways while hanging on to one of our fingers.

Fact 12:  He loves music, especially playing the piano, I see lessons in his future.

Fact 13:  He is a flirt!  He waves and smiles at all the pretty girls.  Jen, he and Leah will make quite the successful greeting duo.

Fact 14:  We think, he is a healthy, smart, high functioning child with a very bright future. 

Fact 15:  He certainly has a way of keeping us very, very busy!  Thank goodness for fact 9.


Signed, 
Ben's Management Team


Monday, October 25, 2010

Pieces of Armenia

We were treated to a tour of two Armenian monasteries, and a winery last Sunday. 

( I am a little behind on posting updates, Jim and I have been violently ill a little under the weather for the past couple of days.  If we were in Haiti, I would have drug myself to the hospital convinced it was cholera, but alas it was merely a stomach virus.  Ben was slightly confused, what happened to my fun new parents?  Who are these lumps on the sofa?  

Never fear, we have recovered, and are back to our usual spunky selves.)



Khor Virap (means "deep hole") monastery near the boarder of Turkey with a beautiful view of Mt Ararat in the background.  



This monastery was built on the site of a pagan temple after St. Gregory the Illuminator was tortured and kept in a deep hole for 13 years.  Gregory, whose given name at birth was Suren,  was born to a Persian family living in Armenia.  St. Gregory the Illuminator is credited for bringing Christianity to Armenia. 




Sunday morning we woke up to no power in our apartment.  This is us, not showered. :)  Mt. Ararat is a sacred place to Armenians and to Christians around the world.  It is said to be the site where the Noah's Ark came to rest after the flood.  Currently Mt. Ararat is located in Turkish territory, but it continues to be one of the symbols of Armenia. 


After leaving Khor Virap, we stopped at a restaurant (the pic above is not the restaurant!) in the mountains to place our lunch order before heading to the next monastery.  Across the road, these women were making lavash (spelling it how it sounds, I think we spell it with a "w" in the states) to store for the winter.  We were told it would keep for 6-9 months.  Our favorite part was the oven in the floor.  Two women were rolling out the dough, and the third was slapping it against the hot bricks on the side to bake.  It was yummy.

Sarah, I see a future for us here if our families ever decide to kick us out!  Do you want to roll dough, or run the oven?


Next, we headed up the mountain to a monastery called Noravank.



Me, at the top of the real stairway to heaven.  Not sure why I came back down.  Seriously, the steps were less than a foot wide.


The outdoor restaurant where we had lunch.  It was beautiful.  Deep in a crevasse with a river running right through it.


The winery was our last stop.  We had a great day.



Ben continues to do well.  He is sleeping better and better each night, and settling into a routine with us.  

Today the sisters had a farewell party for him and the daughter of one of the other families traveling with us.  It was very nice.  The children sang songs, and said goodbye, good luck, we will miss you.  I got chastised by an 8 year old for crying.   I couldn't help it.  Ben received a blessing by a priest from the Catholic Church of Armenia, using a relic from Mother Theresa.  So I guess he received a blessing from Mother Theresa herself?

The sisters gave him a photo album of his first two years, which I know in the adoption world is huge!  Most children from an orphanage do not receive this.  We feel very blessed he has these treasures.

We also received his baptism certificate, yes Uncle Bob, he's Catholic!

They kept thanking us for taking him, one of the sisters pulled me aside and said, "God puts a call inside of us, and we can either say yes, or say no.  Thank you for saying yes."  I don't think she knew how significant that was to our story, and the current adoption campaign circulating about saying "yes."       I'll never forget that moment.

We don't feel worthy of their praise, we are the one's who are grateful for our boy.