Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

This morning we discovered that Jonathan's crutches had been delivered yesterday. At first he wanted nothing to do with them, but then we let all of the other kids try them out and they suddenly had appeal! He has attempted to use them off and on today. It is amazing to watch how he maneuvers his body to get into a standing position and get the crutches into position. We will be meeting with a physical therapist next Tuesday to make sure he is using them correctly.
Yesterday, we went on our first day trip as a family of 7. We went to a children's museum out in Lancaster and then to Dutch Wonderland's Winter Festival. Everyone had so much fun, but it was freezing! Jonathan loved every ride he went on. He especially enjoyed driving the old time cars, the bumper cars (crashing is so much fun!) and the train ride. We had a great time as a family.

Life is slowly getting easier. The days are full and at night we crash. This week is a bit different as Jeremy is off work all week. The kids are definitely enjoying having Dad around. Reality will hit hard when he returns to work on Monday. We had a wonderful Christmas as a family of 7. Jonathan did awesome. He is adjusting so well. He enjoyed opening presents and learned very quickly how to do it and ask for more to open. His vocabulary is increasing daily as he attempts to sing the ABC song and the B-I-B-L-E song. Today he was sitting at the kitchen table and said "drink". I was shocked to hear him say the word drink so clearly. Everyday he is using new words. Next week we go to Shriners Children's Hospital to find out what our options are concerning prosthetics.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Shot of Energy

Picture 1- playing trucks in the snow
Picture 2- learning to love each other
Picture 3- Family game night
Picture 4- Ben with the snowman he made
Picture 5- Jonathan as Ultraman!

Only 2 more days till Christmas! The closer it gets to Christmas the harder it is to decipher if the craziness in our house is from adding a 3 yr. old, experiencing our first big snowstorm in years, or Christmas day approaching. We have so much to be thankful for this year.

Everyday we are amazed as Jonathan is picking up more and more English. Thanks to our Leap Frog Word Whammer- he can sing his version of the ABC song.

There are a few things that truly excite Jonathan.

They are when Daddy comes home from work- it is like he hasn't seen him in years, he jumps up and down, goes running and yells Daddy, Daddy!

Jonathan also enjoys looking at pictures of himself and his family. He points to each person in the picture and says their name. This can keep him busy for quite awhile.

This week especially we have watched him experience true joy over food. Yes, food. Food he recognizes, food he must have had in China. A little over a week ago we had fish sticks and he loved them and proceeded to give his brothers more fish sticks- telling them in Chinese how good they were. Then we had tilapia- that also was a huge hit. I struck gold, when I took him to the super market and we walked past the seafood display. He about jumped out of the cart, yelling and trying to jump into the shrimp display. I am not exaggerating - his level of excitement was like he had just won a million dollars. Needless to say we bought and ate shrimp for lunch! Last night for dinner I made a chicken and vegetable dumpling (ok it was already made, but I heated it up :). I set them on a plate on the table and turned around. Next thing I know I hear "yummy, yummy in my tummy tummy" and I turn around to see Jonathan shoving them into his mouth and his plate full of them. I got a huge "Thank you Mommy!" He definitely had had these before and I guess we will be having them again. He ate so many that I had to quickly make more so that there were some for the rest of us. When Jeremy got home, Jonathan proceeded to tell him that those were "yummy, yummy" and that he should eat more.

Some days, it seems like we just got home with Jonathan and other days it seems like he has always been a part of our family. It is easy to forget that he has lost so much in his short lifetime. He is adjusting so well it is easy to forget that everything is still new to him. Food is such a little thing to us, but food that Jonathan recognizes and loves is a shot of energy for him. It comforts him.

My favorite part of the day is when I put him to bed. (He goes to bed easier then any of my other children ever did) We read books. Last night we found all the cow pictures in Good Night, Moon. He is very good at picking at things that are the same. We rock and he cuddles in my lap. He then points to his bed and I lay him down and he goes to sleep till morning. If he can handle all of the change that has occurred in his little life in the last month with such grace, so can we.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What is normal?

I have decided that attempting to be "normal" is underrated. As long as we are the homeschooling family of 5 children we will never be considered normal by the majority of the world. And that is OK. Normal is being safe, not taking risks. Normal is blending in with the rest of the world. Not sticking out. Normal is boring. So I have decided to give up my attempt to be normal. Yes, we have 5 children. Yes, we homeschool. Yes, I allow my 3 and 4 year old to ride their bikes in the house. OK- I may need to explain that last one. Jonathan has discovered that he can go very fast by pushing his bike. He also figured out how to get it into the house. He loves to be able to run pushing his bike. Jonathan having a bike in the house led to Ben wanting a bike in the house and I'm sure you can figure out the rest of the story. We are hoping that Jonathan's crutches will arrive next week and that they will replace the bike.

Ben announced last week that "He (being Jonathan) likes me!" Not sure what happened that made Ben come to that realization but we consider it progress. I am getting just a glimpse of what it must be like for mothers of twins. They are less then a year apart and squabbles happen on a daily basis, but I think Ben has realized that Jonathan is his brother and he is here to stay.

Life is getting a little easier. We are getting into a routine of sorts. We are all learning how to adapt. I am learning to let go. Tonight, Amanda volunteered to put Jonathan to bed. She put him in his PJ's, read him stories and laid with him till he fell asleep. I kinda missed my time with him, but it is really cool to see Amanda step into that mothering role. She is growing up. Our time with our children is just a blink of the eye. I gotta remember to enjoy the time I do have with them. They won't be riding bikes in the house forever.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fooled by a 3 year old

It has been a month since we first met Jonathan. Each time he has had to go potty since we met him we have helped him pull down his pants, get on the toilet and off, and then pull up his pants. Going potty is a social affair for him, it is time that he has either Jeremy or myself to himself.

Earlier this week, I was apparently moving too slow for Jonathan and next thing I know he is sitting on the toilet. Today I again didn't move fast enough and next thing I know he hops off the toilet balances himself against the sink or toilet and pulls up his underwear and pants! It was quite interesting to watch how he balanced on his one leg and used his hand to pull everything up without falling over. He did fall once, but stood back up and kept going. So now we know he doesn't need help in the bathroom (except maybe for wiping after #2 :) Because of hygiene issues he will still need help in public bathrooms, but at home he is self sufficient!

Learning something new about our boy everyday...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Big Doctors Visit

Today, we had the privilege of meeting with a wonderful team of specialists and doctors at CHOP who evaluated Jonathan's overall health and adjustment. The bottom line -- he is a happy little boy who is adjusting well! They were able to confirm for us that he is on target developmentally. The only obvious concern they could find was, of course, his speech. But the little guy has only been here about 3 weeks, so this was no shock to anyone!

Jonathan did a great job interacting with everyone and showing off. They were amazed by his mobility. They gave him a pair of lofstrand crutches (which attach to the wrists) and he took about 6-7 steps using them. This amazed the physical therapist who was surprised that he needed no prompting or help to use them. He will be getting his very own pair in the next 2-3 weeks. He will also have a few physical therapy appointments to make sure he is using them appropriately.

We will also have to follow up with an ENT Doctor took look at his tonsils (swollen tonsils are probably the cause of his snoring); consult with a urologist; and Jonathan is scheduled to be evaluated at Shriner's on January 6th for a prosthetic.

The Physical Therapist was able to tell us how to adapt a big wheel to make it easier for Jonathan to pedal. So now Jeremy has a little project.

Overall, the visit went well and that we are on the right track in dealing with Jonathan's medical issues. We came away with a laundry list of things to check and people to see, but no real unexpected twists ... and we are thankful for that!

Please continue to keep all of us in prayer. We are home, but the journey is really just beginning. Yesterday, Ben announced, "I can't take it anymore!" He said this because Jonathan had just knocked down a house he had built. Ben's world has been turned upside down and he is learning how to cope with not being the baby in the family anymore.

There have been many days when I have felt like yelling, "I can't take it anymore". There have been days I have called Jeremy at work in tears. But thank God each day is new and He gives us the strength we need for each day. We are so thankful for the family and friends who continue to support us on a daily basis. Mom-mom has gone above and beyond in caring for the kids and today she even had a wonderful dinner prepared when we got home. People think we are crazy for adding another child to our family (and yes they are probably correct) but the joy Jonathan has added to our lives has made all of the hard days worth it. His laugh is infectious, his smile warms your heart and he is teaching us what it means to love unconditionally.

The pictures are of Jonathan being cute and then earlier this week he discovered our office chair which is on wheels could be used as a walker enabling him to run through the house.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's going to be a good week

That is what I must tell myself or I would still be hiding under the covers. It is at least starting out good- Ben and Jonathan are both still asleep. Last week was rough. Everything came to a climax on Friday, when someone put a bottle of white out in the washing machine and then I unknowingly washed a load of dark clothes. That was done after someone dumped at least 6 puzzles in the middle of the floor and then mixed all the pieces together. It's kinda scary when you realize your family could write the "Baby Blues" Sunday Comic. But this week is going to be better.

Yesterday, we went to the Garden State Children's Museum. Everyone had a blast. Ben and Jonathan loved it. Life was good. If only we could move into the museum and live there. Although, I am sure with time it would lose its appeal.

This week I am going to focus on Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You know your the Mom of 4 boys when...

You know your the Mom of 4 boys when...
you climb into your bed at night and find matchbox cars under the sheets
you walk into the bathroom and the toilet seat is either up or has a potty seat on it
you can't walk through a room without a Hess truck crashing into your feet
even your rolling pin can be turned into a light sabor
the highlight of every one's day is Daddy tackle time
you don't even flinch when your youngest son (yes, Jonathan) jumps off the sofa and lands standing up

At the moment, all is quiet, although the last few days have been filled with what I like to call organized chaos. So much activity for one little house. We are completing school work each day it is just taking longer. We are beginning to find a new "normal". Our biggest problem at the moment that we are working on is Jonathan's fascination with turning things off. Light switches, the tv, the computer. This is most frustrating to the other kids as Jonathan tends to turn off the wii just as they are completing a level and all data is then lost. Yesterday, he turned off the computer and (my mistake) I had been working on something and never saved it needless to say it is gone. Lots of teachable moments happening in the Shafer home. Big kids learning patience, little guy learning not to touch buttons.

In the next few weeks we will be gaining more knowledge into what can be done pertaining to some of Jonathan's medical issues. We have an appointment on December 9th at CHOP's adoption clinic. A physical therapist will be included in the visit to evaluation Jonathan. It will be interesting to hear her assessment of him as nothing is holding him back. On December 15th, he has an appointment with our pediatrician for his first well visit. Yesterday, I was able to schedule his first evaluation appointment at Shriners for January 6th. At this appointment they will evaluate him for a prosthetic. We are very interested in learning what the prosthetic options are for him.

In midst of all of this we are trying to decorate for Christmas, shop for Christmas, send out Christmas cards (no annual letter this year), and just survive. Some days we accomplish more, some less, but I consider it a good day if everyone is alive when Jeremy comes home from work. Off to grade some math tests that 2 children just finished taking. And I better post this before Jonathan turns off the computer on me!