Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Kate and Lucy wore their Chinese dresses to Wiggleworms for Halloween today. Had to wear onesies and tights underneath because of the weather but it's not a bad look! 

Enjoy the pics...


A visit from Yia Yia and Pappou

We decided to keep this Halloween a little more lowkey and not do the trick-or-treating thing. Lucy is fighting a pretty nasty cough/nose thing but I also didn't want to have the battle over candy with her. She is very aware of what candy wrappers look like and the thought of having strangers fill her bag with candy and then Len and I letting her have only some of it was just not an appealing way to spend our holiday. We're still working on helping her to self-regulate where sweets are concerned.  We gave her some pumpkin bread as a snack this week and she reacted much better to that than she did with the donuts and cake. We're also putting a bit of honey in her oatmeal and in her yogurt which makes her extremely happy but doesn't have the effect of making her crazed.

Katherine and Don flew in from DC to visit with us for Halloween again. They were here last Halloween as well. We had a photo shoot on Saturday morning with Jessie, who also photographed us last year. This time she came to our house so we got shots of all of us both inside and out on the sidewalk/yard. The girls loved the attention until lunch time hit which fortunately coincided with the end of the shoot. Both girls took long naps which gave us time to visit with Katherine and Don. After the girls woke up, Don and Len took them to the park while Katherine and I hit the Middle Eastern Grocery and Whole Foods for dinner items.

Here's Pappou helping Kate down the stairs.
Katherine set right to work making a big pot of dolmades
while Len and Pappou supervised giving the girls supper.
After supper it was time to open Halloween presents from Yia Yia and Pappou!

The monster slippers were a huge hit as were the Uglydolls.  They also got matching dresses.

After the girls went to bed we had a lovely supper prepared by Katherine of roasted fish and potatoes and sauteed rapini.

Sunday morning found the girls intent on wearing their monster slippers.
Sunday started out kind of gray and cold so we did a bit of coloring in the Walter coloring book (thanks Uncle Ry Ry and Uncle Paul)
before Len took them to the park which gave me time to make a wonderful butternut squash/sweet potato soup for lunch!
And finally a quick shout-out to a few people who have made our lives easier this week. Many thanks to Kathy C. who came over Monday with homemade chicken and noodles and pumpkin bread, to Michelle H. in VA who sent a yummy Italian feast from Calo on Wednesday, to Nancy N. in VA. who sent pizza and salad on Thursday, to Alison A. who brought over homemade veggie lasagne and pumpkin cupcakes on Friday, to Katherine and Don who bought and prepared dinner for us on Saturday and to Allison in Denver for sending yummy Thai Sunday night!

We are so appreciative of friends and family who go above and beyond to send us food and make the journey to come visit us from afar. We are looking forward to a few more visitors this year: Michelle is coming from VA next weekend, my Dad and Gloria are coming for Thanksgiving and my mom will celebrate Christmas with us!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Daddy makes a great pony

This is how we fill that 45 minutes between supper and bathtime...

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Lucy & Kate love to crawl in and out and around the high-chair...it's good for about 5 minutes. That only leaves another 715 minutes to fill...

- Posted using BlogPress from my fabulously wonderful iPad!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From 70 degrees to 50 degrees

Tuesday was such a nice day...we hit 70 degrees and the girls were thrilled to be outside at a park I had not taken them to yet. It is quite small and we were the only ones there for most of the time so it was easy to keep track of them. The swings, as always, were Lucy's favorite:
The teeter-totter springy bouncy thing was Kate's favorite:
Then we hit the slide which both seemed to equally enjoy:
Then we walked on the moving walkway which Kate enjoyed and Lucy did not; she went down a nearby slide and headed back to the swings!
Wednesday dawned chilly and only got windier and colder from there. We went for a late afternoon walk to kill the time between late afternoon snack and suppertime. They each loved these little driveway markers and thankfully there were two of them, identical, so there was blessedly no fighting over who got to sit on which one...
We also got waylaid by a ghost...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Update about speech/feeding therapy

Monday the Early Intervention team came here to evaluate Lucy. First up was the speech/feeding therapist. After spending quite some time on eating different textures and trying to drink from various types of cups, it was agreed that she would need some therapy.

Next up was the behavior therapist. She tested things like Lucy's fine and large motor skills, is she doing things like play-acting (feeding a doll, stirring with a spoon in a bowl--she does both so yay for Lucy!!), etc. She was able to follow a 2-part direction (take these shoes and put them in the tray). She cannot point to objects in a book when you name them nor can she hand you, say, a spoon, from a set of three different objects in a row just by naming but without pointing to it. She cannot put a large three piece baby puzzle together or recognize shapes to use the shape sorter. She can throw a ball overhand, climb onto low chairs, crawl up stairs and go up and down stairs with assistance. She did look to me for approval when asked to do something and made good eye contact with everyone who was speaking with her. They were surprised she had not been in foster care as things like feeding a babydoll are not typically something an orphanage kid will do. Overall, they ranked her between 8-15 months developmentally in various areas but said she didn't need therapy, just playtime with us to develop those skills she's lacking.

We will get a very detailed report in about 2 weeks from them. Once we get that, we can start therapy. We'll be doing 90 minutes twice a month in our home.

Today we had our first visit to Children's Hosp. with the speech/feeding therapist for her full evaluation. I asked if we could take advantage of both the in-home services of Early Intervention as well as the cleft team's therapist and they all agreed to work together towards the same goals. We'll see what insurance covers and then go from there.

So, today's visit also evaluated most of what the E.I. team covered. She provided this nice visual aid of how sounds are made. It's a profile (side view) of the face/throat.
So, you see the nose right? and the lips below? The area that has the M, N, NG is the nasal cavity. That is the area that makes those sounds. These are the sounds that Lucy makes well because they don't require anything of the palate or tongue or teeth to make. The hard and soft palate are shown right below that. The hard palate is required to make the T, D, S, Z, Sh, Ch, J sounds while the soft palate is required to make the K and G sounds. See the dotted lines from the soft palate? This is how the soft palate moves in order to make those sounds.

The area with a circle marked ALV is the alveolar ridge and does not normally affect speech. This is where her fistula is (where the cleft cuts through her gumline). They leave this small hole there in order to allow her jaw to grow before doing a bone graft when her adult teeth come in.

The lips are required to make the B and P sounds. The teeth are involved to make the F sound. H, W and Y can be made without using any of the above (I think that's right?). The area marked A with an arrow pointing down is the airway for breathing and the E is the esophagus.  Cannot remember what the L or S is below that--maybe the sounds that are made in that area?

Thus far the therapist noticed that she is able to make the M, N, D, and G sounds which means that her soft and hard palate are working. She can "say" six words without prompting from us to get what she wants:

more (sounds like Maw)
up (sounds like UHhh)
down (sounds like Daa)
water (sounds like wa wa)
DaDa (for daddy)

And she is trying to say Kate but it usually ends up sounding like "Keh".

She can use sign language for these things:
All done

Both therapists noticed that she is moving her upper lip quite well. This is sometimes an issue when surgeries are done in China...the lip is stitched too tightly to the gums and does not move properly. They said she does have quite a lot of scar tissue on the sides of her mouth and back near her throat. This is from the P-flap surgery that was done in China as well. If it had been done here the scarring may have been a lot less as they use lasers for that procedure. In China it was a cut and paste job but it seems to be working nonetheless as she does not seem to have some of the problems associated with the surgery such as snoring or apnea. What the scarring does affect though is how things feel in her mouth. It could be why she has a sensitivity to cold things or why some foods feel funny and are rejected.

Today's therapist ranked her based on other children between the ages of 18-23 months old. Compared to them she came out at a 96 (in the normal range) for Expressive Language (sounds she can make to express herself) and 81 (mild delay) for Receptive Language (her understanding of language). If she was compared to a 2 year old, her score for Expressive Language score would drop to 79 (mild delay). Considering she has only been exposed to the English language for 1 month she's not doing too badly!

We will work with the therapist at Children's for feeding and speech issues as well. We'll be going to their offices twice a month so if I schedule it well, she'll have therapy once a week between the two services starting next month.

On another note, I have noticed that the girls are starting to have their own language of sorts. Although Kate is quite verbal she has resorted to using the same sounds that Lucy does when they are playing together. They will make all kinds of sing-songy sounds and then laugh and laugh! Which is all wonderfully cute and gives me that warm fuzzy mama feeling...right up until Kate shoves Lucy down and takes her toy causing Lucy to shriek in outrage and look at me to right the grievous wrong that has been committed. Grrr.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Feeding issues

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had a couple of apple cider donuts on Sunday.  We also gave the girls some cake that our friend brought over. Since then, meal and snack times have become a giant PITA.

When we received Lucy, she came with an enormous trashbag that was mostly filled with candy and sweet cakes and breads.  We threw it all away and filled her sweet tooth with fruit which worked quite well. Her temperament evened out and most foods were readily accepted. Totally different story for the past couple of days.

Lucy has actually sat through a few meals and several snacks absolutely refusing to open her mouth. She looks to see what I'm serving and then clamps her mouth shut and shakes her head no. I let her sit in the high chair next to Kate as Kate finishes her meal and hand-to-god, Lucy seriously ate not one bite for the entire 25 minutes that it took for Kate to eat her meal. When I got Lucy out of the chair she headed over to the counter and pointed up to the leftover cake, making the sign for "eat", "more" and "please". I said "no, you need to have fill in whatever I was serving at that time". That was met with a temper tantrum. She hasn't had a tantrum since the first week home.

So. All sweets have once again been removed from our house. Not sure how to get her to enjoy special treats in moderation. We have never done dessert in our house as a matter of course...we save dessert for special nights or when we have company but most of the time we just don't have that stuff in the house.

The only way I finally got her to eat was to wait her out until I knew she had to be starving. After eating a very small portion of breakfast and then not eating snack or lunch at all yesterday, she woke up signing "eat!". Kate was actually asleep so I took Lucy out to the kitchen and, instead of preparing a snack, I brought out her leftover lunch of mac and cheese and some kale sauteed with garlic (both of which she has eaten with gusto in the past). She saw it and pulled the same stunt of clamped lips and vigorous head shaking. I asked one more time and when I was met with the same response, I got her down immediately and started putting stuff away.

Well. THAT was not a popular move. She threw herself down and started her old pattern of tantruming on the floor. When I asked her what she wanted, she stopped immediately and pointed to the counter (where there wasn't actually anything anymore). I lifted her up to show her the empty counter and said, "this is what we have to eat" and pointed to her meal once more. I asked if she wanted to eat and she nodded yes so back in the high chair where she finally proceeded to finish what I offered.

Although she is back to eating again, she still holds out for the first few minutes of every meal, perusing the counter for something better. At lunch today, she spotted the fruit (I had just gotten bananas and kiwi) so she wanted that instead of what I was serving. Since she had already downed one banana and one kiwi for breakfast and morning snack and I wanted her to eat something substantial for lunch so I told her no. I avoided the full-on tantrum by telling her I would take her out of the chair if she was all done but that Kate was still eating lunch. She cried a bit but grudgingly ate some lunch.

I don't, as most adoption attachment books recommend, leave food out for her. When I have let her carry a snack trap full of cheerios around, she usually just ends of throwing them all over the house when she gets full. She doesn't hoard or try to hide them and will, in fact, drop her snack trap if a toy catches her eye. She does the same in her high chair if I give her food on her plate and she doesn't want it b/c she's full--lots of throwing. So, I limit what she has access to on her own but always give her food until she says she's done.

So, all you BTDT adoptive families: how do you deal with feeding issues? I don't want this to be a battleground but I also don't want her to be unable to have a treat every now and then without a major disruption to our normal mealtimes. Any words of wisdom out there?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumnal Activities

Fall has descended upon Chicago. Leaves are falling and the air is crisp. Sounds lovely right? And it is...except that in order to go outside for a walk I must wrestle two writhing toddlers into socks, shoes, sweaters, coats, hats....and then pile the same onto me before strapping on a diaper bag and hauling them both down the stairs. Makes me want to stay inside but I know with snow soon to follow, I need to get us outside now as much as possible.  The good thing is that the girls love their hats...
We've been eating quite well this week thanks to our many friends and family sending food. Maggie and Steve sent us a Mexican feast to start the week out, Dad and Gloria followed with some yummy fare from Urban Vegan and Kelly B. came over Saturday with not one but two Shepherd's pies (one for now, one for the freezer) and an Elmo chocolate cake...
Scary but delicious.

Today was a beautiful day so we headed out to west Illinois for a day at a farm.  We had a great day so I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.
 First up was the tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. We decided to skip apple picking but we did get a nice tour past the trees.
 Yes, the girls are wearing backpacks with tails that serve as leashes...invaluable!
 Then we hit the petting area. At first both girls did not want to get down out of our arms and then suddenly, they were ALL ABOUT THE ANIMALS...it took some serious coercion to get them out of the building. Kate saw the sheep and started singing, "Baa Baa Black Sheep." Too cute.
We got them out by telling them we were going to ride some cows...a cow train no less. It worked.
Last on the list was a snack of apple cider donuts. Lucy's face was rapturous as she downed almost two donuts without stopping for air.
Fortified with sugar, we headed over to the pond to say hi to the fish before heading home.
We have a busy week ahead. Tomorrow is our usual Wiggleworms class in the morning followed by a home visit by the Early Intervention Speech and Feeding specialist for an evaluation of Lucy.  Ms. Pat will be coming over to entertain Kate during the afternoon.

Wednesday afternoon Lucy and I will go back to Children's Hosp. to meet with their speech/feeding therapist. We've been told we can do therapy through Children's and with Early Intervention at the same time, we'll just need to get both therapists talking to each other for continuity of care. It's better for us though so Lucy can have at least 2 sessions/week instead of only 1.

Meanwhile, Caitlin will come to our house to play with Kate on Wednesday. The multiple caregivers for Kate are not ideal but at the moment I just haven't had the time or energy to find someone who can give us the time and hours we need. It's been rough as each time I leave Kate it is not a pretty sight and generally I leave to her screaming "MAMA! MAMA!" Fortunately, I get a text about 5-10 minutes later telling me all is well and when I do get home she's happy and even hours later will mention "Caitlin" or "Ms. Pat" to me. 

Thursday morning is my mama group. Lucy met everyone for the first time last week and it went quite well. She stuck close to me until she was comfortable and then she ended up staying close to Kate for the rest of the time.

On Friday we are delighted to be able to get a weekend visit from Yia Yia and Pappou from DC. They were here last Halloween as well.  Is it sad that I'm wearing the SAME FLEECE TOP for last year's photos that I had on today?? Not so sad is the fact that I've lost about 15 pounds since that time, 10 of them since we got back from China. Having two toddlers has turned out to be a great weight loss plan.


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