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


Henry suddenly has $155 in his grant fund!

That's $125 raised this week!


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.  


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.   


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


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!