Our Family

Our Family

Friday, October 23, 2015

The New Normal

We have been officially home a little over a year. Brielle touched US soil and became a citizen on October 11, 2014. Our sentencia date was October 8th, so we celebrate our Family Day annually on that date. This year we decided to eat some arepas and go to the zoo. It was truly a perfect day of spending time together, just our little family.
 Lunch at Aprea Mia

 Checking out the fish (or maybe just her reflection)

 Riding the train

Her favorite part was riding the carousel  
 Finishing the day with ice cream (not as good as Crepes y Waffles!)

I finally feel like we are settling into a good rhythm and finding our new normal at home. The first year had so many big victories, but a lot of struggles too. It didn't always feel hard, but looking back I see how we fought big battles. I believe the Lord just gave us strength to get through each one as it came. I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but we are finally to the point where we truly enjoy our time together. Brielle was left alone most of the time in the orphanage, so it has taken awhile for her to learn to enjoy people. Now that she is in school I treasure the time that we have together. One of my favorite things to do is lay a blanket outside and read books with her. We also love to snuggle in her new big girl bed (that was mine when I was little!) And her favorite part of the day is when Daddy walks in the door; she is a daddy's girl through and through.

We have also enjoyed outings together so much more lately. It feels less like we are managing, and more like we are truly enjoying our family time. Brielle loved picking apples a few weeks ago!

She has made some great accomplishments in the last few weeks, and is growing taller all the time! 
  • Walking 25 or so steps by herself
  • Using the potty pretty consistently 
  • Saying 7-8 words (that we understand), and trying to imitate everything we say
    • 'mo' for more
    • 'ga-ga' for Dada
    • Mama
    • 'Eee-a' for Tia (Aunt Erin)
    • Noooo and shaking her head
    • 'Ahha' and nodding for yes
    • 'ush eeth' for brush teeth
    • 'ush' for flush
    • 'hep' for help
    • And probably more that I'm forgetting or we don't understand yet!

  • Sleeping in a twin bed, and sometimes staying under her covers (a big sensory victory)
  • Learning how to trace shapes and letters, but we are still working on this one!
  • Engaging in more pretend play

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gotcha Day: A Year Later

I truly cannot believe that a year ago today was the first time we met our beautiful daughter. There are times when I cannot believe a year has passed, but there are times when I feel like we've had Brielle forever. I think it has almost taken me a year to process our Gotcha Day.

We decided pretty quickly after our Gotcha Day that it would not be the day for celebration. We had been warned by others about how emotional it can be for everyone, so we were somewhat prepared. I remember the first thing I thought when I saw Brielle was how incredibily tiny she was, and clearly not a typical 3 year old. We tried very hard to engage her, and help her to understand the life-changing event that was occurring. She could not make eye contact, did not know how to be held, and was not mentally with-it. It was a pretty scary day for us all. I think at that point Scott and I were accepting that we had adopted a child with very little functioning skills. That was not what we expected. Although we will never know I am sure the day was incredibly hard for Brielle too. She was taken away from the only orphanage she had known to sleep in a new one for a night, put into new clothes that were too big, and handed off to strangers who didn't speak her language.

We didn't hear any noise out of her until she let out a giggle in the car going over a pot hole. That brought a moment of relief, knowing that at least she could laugh. My prayer then became that there would be a day when she would laugh at us, not at bumps in the road.

We played outside in the grass, and with some of the toys we brought. Brielle was pretty content just to be held, and she slowly learned how to lean in and form her body to ours. We had a small dinner, and put her to bed. She went down without crying and slept 12 hours straight.

Scott and I didn't talk much about that day, and how we felt because it was too hard. Our expectations from her file were very different than the reality we walked in to.

I was reading some of the blogs I wrote before we went to Bogota last year. I had written about a sermon from Momentum based on Matthew 28-30, where Jesus talks about followers taking his yoke.  In the sermon Bart described how Christ's yoke fits each of us perfectly because the yoke is molded for us, and us for the yoke. I know on August 14, 2014 I was questioning whether the yoke Christ had given us was indeed a good fit. Now a year later I know, with out doubt, that the yoke of parenting Brielle was designed specifically for us. It is still not a perfect fit because Christ is molding us to fit that yoke every day, growing patience, love, and grace in us.

Brielle was not the child we expected her to be, and she still exceeds our expectations every day. I cannot even recount all her accomplishments this year. The way that she overcomes her difficulties amazes me every day. I am blessed to be her momma, and pray that God will continue to use her story to draw others to Him.

(And in case you're wondering October 8th is our Family Day celebration, when we will celebrate the day our adoption was final in court and we could come home a family of 3.)

 Waiting Anxiously

 She wasn't sure what to do with the baby doll

 One of her first car rides
Our first family photo!

How she has grown and changed in one year. 
We cannot wait to see what God has planned for her future!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

May and June Recap

May and June have been busy months, so here is a picture recap!

Vacation in Cancun
 Sailing on the catamaran
 Eating yummy tacos
 Tubing at Xel-Ha with her tia

 Brielle has been working hard at therapy! One of her favorite activities is riding the tricycle

 The best part of summer is spending lots of time on the boat!

 Hosting a rainy memorial day with all our friends

We went up to Dahlongea for my birthday, and got to use our awesome Osprey pack. 

 Loving family time in our new house

Friend weekend at the lake. Nora loved swimming! 

Brielle has achieved an important milestone of stacking blocks.  

She also spent her first week at 'Grammy Camp', while Mommy was taking a class to finish her masters.  

 Nothing says summer like pizza and cupcakes at the pool.

 The slip-n-slide is also a new favorite.

Fun Sunday lunch playing with the cousins. So fun to have family live close!

Brielle has made some great progress in the last few months:
  • She has taken a few independent steps, and is gaining confidence in her walking everyday. 
  • She is getting close to using a fork by herself, and has mastered the spoon.
  • She is getting her own adaptive tricycle, so she can ride while we go on our evening walks. Not only will the trike strengthen her legs, but it will also help with brain connectivity.
  • She has gotten a body compression suit called Theratogs. It helps calm her system, and also helps with brain connectivity. 
  • The biggest victory is that Brielle has started using two 'words'. This is a huge deal because we weren't sure if she would ever understand how sounds can have meaning. She has started saying 'mo' for more, and 'hep' for help. Most people might not be able to understand her words, but we know what she is trying to say!
It is hard to believe that we will have been a family for a whole year in August. Our little girl has amazing progress, and we are so blessed to be her parents. Thanks for your support and prayers!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

March and April

It has been a crazy two months, and I have not sat long enough to write my monthly blog update. March and April have been very busy months for us as we started a new adventure as homeowners!

We started looking at houses when Scott got a new job in January. I know a lot of families deal with a commute but it was NOT working for Brielle. She was used to having her daddy 24/7, so him getting home at 7 was really hard for her. We closed on our house in the beginning of March, and moved the last weekend in March. It was a whirlwind month of packing, driving back and forth, therapy, and Brielle's birthday!

Her birthday was March 27th and we moved March 28th. As much as I wanted to throw her a big party I knew it was not in the books this year. So I thought about her favorite things, and that became her party: balloons, Chick-Fil-A, friends and cupcakes. It was low key, and just right for our sweet 4 year old. She had a blast and was asleep 5 minutes into the drive home.

Scott's parents came to visit right after we moved, and were a huge help painting. We painted our dining room ceiling, and whole master bathroom. We had the rest of the house painted before we moved in, so it was nice to check our final painting projects off. Then my parents came the next weekend, and helped us wallpaper the dining room. All we have left is to hang pictures!

Brielle has been making great progress lately. She is using her signs pretty consistently, even though she does mix up which ones to use from time to time. Now the struggle has been having her understand that she doesn't always get what she wants just because she is signing. Brielle has done pretty well with the move, and loves her big girl room. She has started standing independently for a few seconds at a time, and cruises along all the furniture to get around.

In OT she has mastered her first puzzle and a stacker toy, which are both developmental milestones. She loves the ball pit and the swing the most. PT is not her favorite, but we are seeing the results at home.

Last Friday we had her IEP test with the Paulding county schools. She will be starting their special needs Pre-K in the fall. She does really well in Sunday School, so we know  she will be ready for school. She will also receive PT, OT and speech at school.

Yesterday we got her AFOs (ankle-foot orthodics), and she really likes them! She likes things that squeeze, so she doesn't mind wearing them. She already is standing much better, and is working up the courage to take those first independent steps!

We still enjoy our sweet girl every day, but she is certainly a stubborn toddler. We have to be consistent in discipline, and the temper tantrums are fierce when she is told no. But she has become so much more aware of her surroundings and wants to help with everything from vacuuming the house to putting away laundry to feeding the dogs. She has come such a long way in just 8 months. Praise the Lord for all the healing He has done in her life!

Thank you for all your continued prayer and support!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

6 months with our girl!

It is hard to believe that we have been Mommy and Daddy for almost half a year! February 14th will mark our 6th month mark since our Gotcha Day. Many families choose to celebrate different milestones in their adoption journey. For us Gotcha Day was a day of hectic schedules, an unsure child, and lots of forced smiles. The day that we celebrate is what we will call Family Day (October 8, 2014). This is the day our adoption became legal. We had to fight hard for the courts to process our case, and God proved faithful in the end.

Here is an update on our lives over the last month:

Brielle was evaluated for physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) in January. We will now start seeing those therapists weekly. In OT she will be learning life skills (dressing, eating, etc.) and working towards developmental milestones (stacking blocks, coloring, holding a pencil, etc.) In PT we will concentrate on more gross motor skills. She is really getting strong in her legs! She pulls up and cruises all over the place, and is getting more steady on her feet. We should be getting her fitted for braces in the next month, and her PT thinks she will really take off after that! The PT was really impressed that she has gone from not crawling all the way to walking with assistance in 6 months.

 Brielle is becoming much more proficient with sign language, but she only does it when she feels like it. :) Typical toddler. She can consistently sign more, please, bath, sing, eat, and all done. We are trying to teach her 'no' to help with some of her frustration. We are also working on potty training, and she is doing pretty well. She also has 'rest time' from 1-3pm every day. We used to make her stay in bed, even if she was playing or reading books, but that hasn't worked lately. Just this week she has started doing the sweetest thing, when she is done playing she will crawl up in her bed and fall fast asleep! My girl is getting so big!

We are having more food battles, but they are typical toddler food battles. I know that is a good thing because she is forming opinions of her own, and is growing out of food fears. It sure is hard on this momma though! I never know if she will like the same thing day to day. But she consistently eats eggs, chicken nuggets, broccoli, kale chips, and plain pasta. One a good day we get some yogurt, turkey and blueberries too. I never thought I would be the momma to give into her child's food battle, but with an adoptive kid you just have to! When a child has gone without food at some point it is important for attachment for them to know they always have food, even if its not always what I made for dinner.

She has become much more affectionate with us, and often just crawls up in my lap to snuggle. Playing reciprocally is one of our OT goals, and she gets better every day. It is so fun watching her learn how to interact, and her realization that she doesn't have to always play alone. We have been hearing lots of belly laughs lately!

Here is a look at our last month together:
Finally fitting into some cute 3t clothes
 Always torturing loving her doggies
 Woods exploration
 Morning baths help cranky attitudes
 We've mastered eating with a spoon!
Fun time at Ben & Jordyn's house

 We have learned that one sheet of paper is not enough painting space for this girl
 Snuggles with a sick girl
 Boundary testing...
 Sensory play with Flynn
 Sleeping hard after playing hard
 She loved the goop!
 This never happens, but she fell asleep on our way to youth group
 Wagon in the woods
 She has decided to eat apples like Mommy
 First trip to the Dekalb Farmers Market
 First time in Sunday School 

   Gotcha Day & Six Months Home!

Thank you for all your love, support and prayers!

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