This blog chronicles the miracles and struggles of our daughters, Emily and Olivia. Emily was born 15 weeks early and had many complications, but she continues to amaze us! Olivia, born in China with heart complications, is also beating the odds. She joined her forever family (us!) when she was four years old and has been doing wonderfully! UPDATE: We started homeschooling August 2009 :)
We exceeded our $2,000 fundraising goal for March of Dimes!! We had beautiful weather as we walked today alongside 1,500 others in DuPage county's WalkAmerica in Naperville. The walk helps to raise money and awareness to help babies born too early, like our Emily. Thank you to all who contributed to such a worthy cause!
I have so many videos because Olivia--the child who hated the camera not so long ago--now begs me to grab the camera and photograph her at every turn! She wants me to put down whatever I'm doing and get the camera ASAP! Last night while attempting to cook dinner, she was happily playing the piano and really wanted me to record it. Daddy wasn't home yet and she was singing up a storm about him :) You may recognize Bunny, her current faithful companion, at her side. This is the bunny she just found the other day after Bunny #1 turned on and scared her, but already no other stuffed animal will do and she carries it everywhere!
With the nice spring weather the girls have been enjoying playing outside and one of Olivia's latest feats is pumping on a swing! When we first met her she was didn't seem to know what to do with swings or slides and was afraid of them, but you'd never know it now. She's a very quick study so it doesn't take her long to start imitating what Emily does. Everything she does is so darn cute, partly because she's so tiny. She fits in 18-24 month clothes and looks like she ought to be too young to be doing some of the things she does! Whenever we're at a playground I hear moms telling their towering two-year olds to watch out for the little baby--my tiny four year old!
This 2 min. video clip from today shows Olivia dancing with a bunny (that does NOT turn on--see a previous post) and saying some body parts. It's amazing how quickly she's learning English and forming sentences!
This weekend's weather was a far cry from the snow of a few weeks ago! Emily and some neighbor kids thought they needed to escape the heat in the sprinkler! Olivia, who doesn't like to get water in her eyes, didn't venture too far into the sprinkler, but had fun with all the kids. She also enjoyed picking flowers and bringing them to me!
At home we've been teaching Olivia about prayers, but at this point all she understands is that we close our eyes and say thank you and sometimes fold our hands. At church today she was pretty quiet until the pastor began to pray and then she very proudly and loudly yelled, "look, Mommy," as she pointed to her closed eyes to make sure I noticed how well she was following protocol!
Another kid said a funny thing the first we took Olivia to church. I had her put in a skirt to make it obvious--despite the buzz cut--that she is a girl. My attempt obviously failed because when I dropped Emily off in her Sunday school class a little girl demanded to know, "why is HE wearing a skirt?"
It was 80 degrees and beautiful so after church we had a picnic lunch at a park. While we were there I took some pictures of them in their cute matching outfits from some of our great neighbors. Aren't they cute?! The outfits. . . and the girls, I mean!
In China we used a Hip Panda to carry Olivia around. The girls quickly discovered that they could also carry their new Chinese dolls on their hips, too. The dolls came as sets with a little one strapped on a bigger doll's back and the girls are skinny enough that we were able to tie the dolls’ straps around them. When Olivia saw this doll’s carrying strap laying around she started asking for BeBe and once I strapped it and baby on her, insisted that I take her picture!
It's hard to feel down too long when I've got these cute little girls around. This morning after I got out of the shower I found Olivia waiting for me, pretending to wash her own hair as well as a stuffed bunny's. She then had her bunny go potty just like we'd seen moms in China do with their kids on the street! There, instead of diapers or underwear, the toddlers just wear no split pants (no seam in the crotch for easy access) so when the moment strikes, the moms just pick the kids up from behind and spread their legs (envision a cheerleader straddle/toe touch jump) and let them do their business. Yes, it's a different world there! Anyway, you can see Olivia doing this with the bunny and then some...but the funny part was what happened when she attempted to wash the bunny's hands afterwards. You have to watch it to find out.
Olivia left the first scene upset, but to my surprise returned with another bunny to continue her grooming.
In light of the Virginia Tech tragedy, my concerns are trivial, but I'm still ready for a new, more carefree day. Our day started out at the endocrinologist's office. There was nothing new or earth shattering revealed, only a long list of follow-ups to add to my already long list of medical follow-ups. I now need to take Olivia to one place for a bunch more blood work, another place for a hand X-ray (to determine bone age), and yet a third place for an ultrasound of her thyroid...and then return to the endocrinologist in six weeks with all the results. If lab results indicate it, she may need to take daily thyroid medicine for life. It wouldn't be the end of the world, but all this thyroid stuff is more scary, expensive, time consuming and inconvenient than I was anticipating. And we haven't even gotten to her known special need yet, her heart... The thyroid and anemia issues were extra surprises. Tomorrow I'll remember how blessed we are that Olivia's transition has been so smooth, but today my head is still spinning with all this medical stuff.
Moments after we got home from the doctor, still fresh in overwhelm, Emily's teacher called to share some concerns. I suppose there is never a good time to get these kinds of calls, and I am grateful that she cared enough to call, but now I'm doubly overwhelmed. Emily's issues trouble me more than the thyroid stuff that can be treated with medication. Her issues are nothing new (difficulty with focus and processing/comprehension), but at the beginning of the year she seemed to be doing so much better. Today's call was kind of a crushing dose of reality and a fresh reminder that repeating kindergarten didn't solve everything.
In addition to school work at home (that's been lacking since Olivia came along!) she's also been getting educational therapy to help her overcome some learning disabilities. All these combined efforts had seemed to be making a big difference for the better... but today is the first I'd heard that her teacher's noticed that Emily seems to be struggling more than before. The teacher wasn't sure whether to attribute it to all the transitions at home or if things were just getting harder for her at school as the year progressed. I'm also wondering what role sleep plays in this. Prior to going to China she was still taking a nap every day, and now, not only does she not take a nap, but she is getting to bed later because of Olivia. It's hard to pinpoint an exact cause but the end result is disappointing to hear. It brings back all the fears about what struggles her educational future may hold. She's come a long way from that fragile 1.5 pound baby who wasn't expected to live and we'll just have to keep on fighting to beat the odds. With some prayer and a good night's sleep, I'm hoping to feel more optimistic tomorrow.
The girls were both fascinated a few weeks ago when their cousin Sara played her violin for them. Emily got to try playing it and Olivia's been asking to see the pictures of it ever since, pointing to my laptop and saying, "biolin, biolin." Well...today Olivia decided that a comb and half a plastic Easter egg can make a fine violin! She tucked the comb under her chin and announced that she had a violin and insisted that I take her picture!
Here are a few of those clips that I've pieced together. It's almost 2 minutes and in the middle she adds some fancy footwork that resembles Irish step dancing. ...and I thought she was Chinese!
I have been creating scrapbook pages on the computer (and then printing them out) for years now, but I'm having a hard time getting caught up after taking 1300 pix in China alone! I haven't tackled the trip yet, but instead have tried to start current and work my way back.
I've got about 30 pages done from this past month. Yes, I suppose it's overkill, but I always feel compelled to scrapbook all the good ones and there are just so many darn good ones!!
I won't bore you with the whole album, but here's a small sample of what I've been working on. You can click on a page to see a larger version.
Disclaimer fine print-Not all scrapbook elements are of my own creation. If you'd like any info on designer credits, please ask.
Today Olivia got to play in her first snow! I wouldn't say she was giddy with excitement, but she was curious and didn't want to come in. She busied herself cleaning off the slide and then once it was free of snow, she started putting snow back on it! It'd probably be more exciting if she were dressed in a snow suit and could fully experience it by sledding or making snow angels...but this Mom's not up for that this spring morning. A few weeks ago it was 80 degrees and I'm ready for more of that!