Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alicia May

Livi watching Glee and seeing Sue's sister with DS, pointed at the TV and said "Alicia May!" It made me smile. Alicia May is the little sister with Down Syndrome from a book I read Livi, called My Sister, Alicia May. She has never associated her Auntie Maggy with Alicia May and Sue's sister looks no more like her than Maggy. I love my kid and I can't wait to see and hear how she reacts to her beautiful new sister who is just like Alicia May!

My Sister, Alicia May is really a FABULOUS book and I would highly recommend it to any family or friendships that have been touched by DS. It is about how special the big sister is to recognize how special her little sister is apart from having DS. See why I love it so much? There is a lot of really horrid, crappy kids books about DS out there but this book looks at the abilities first and foremost, of the child with DS, not the stereotypes and disabilities.

Monday, November 22, 2010


*Warning * 
This is a really rambling post that I wrote just to get all my thoughts out of my head... 
I wouldn't read it if I were you. . 

With our family dynamics about to change and things starting to progress relationally with my sister who has been estranged for two years, I've been thinking about family a lot lately. What are families supposed to look like? What do healthy parent-child relationships and sibling relationships look like? How do you raise your children to have good relationships with each other as children and in to their adult lives?

I have no idea! Jon and I were raised in polar opposite households and as many difficulties as my siblings and I have had over the years, Jon and his siblings have just as many issues between them. One up-bringing was not better than the other. We are both screwed up equally... That's probably why we put up with each other so well! We basically just need to relax, do our best and accept that we are going to mess up the kids some how, love them each unconditionally and equally, and hope that we have given them the tools to be healthy people in every way possible. 

I probably have too high of expectations of what relationships should look like and have had those expectations brought down a few notches in recent years. Things are getting better with my sister. I don't talk about it much but a lot of you know that my sister cut her family out of her life about two years ago. We've been going to family counselling for about a year now in hopes of rebuilding that relationship and just recently there has been enough healing to start seeing some progress in that relationship.

A few weeks ago my sister met Livi for the first time since she was two months old. That was a really big step for me. Livi is my world and introducing Liz back in to my world after so much hurt and mistrust was hard. I didn't want to introduce Livi in to the drama that tends to be in my family. It went really well though. Livi was a little confused. She knew she wasn't her Auntie Sessa but couldn't figure out why they looked so much alike. It was a little weird at first but Livi makes things relaxed and she tries to get to know everyone. She is a pretty amazing kid. I relaxed and it was almost like old times. There is still a long way to go in my relationship with my sister and for the whole family to heal but we are moving in the right direction.

My family has had a lot to deal with... Less than some but more than others. I always considered us really close... especially us girls. As we all got older though, our lives started to take us down different paths. We didn't have as much in common as we used to and figuring out those new dynamics was tricky, especially for me who had been in a parental role most of our lives together and has a controlling personality. I'm really close with my mom, some say a little too close. Because of the trials that we have been through together we are slightly co-dependent, but in the best sense of the word :)

With all the garbage that my family has been through we have had no choice but to be an open book. We've always communicated undisguised, with all the dirt and love that goes with it. I've learned to tame my mouth a little in recent years but authenticity and communication are still so important to me in any relationship. I don't know how else to relate to people but by being honest and I don't really even see the point. It is just too fake for me then.

I understand that there is a time and a place for true authenticity but I also don't think we are truly authentic enough. I don't mean that everyone should go and tell everyone the personal parts of your life that is not there business but I do think that family is where you should be free to be truly authentic and communicate openly. I know that as my kids get older there are things that they are going to keep from me and as a parent there are things that I am not going to tell them but I really do appreciate the openness that I was raised with... even though it was birthed out of dysfunction.

I hope to continue that level of authenticity and communication in my little family while still establishing and maintaining the authority and respect that is deserved as a parent. Hmmm... am I setting my expectations up too high again?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our Baby Girl

Well, she isn't technically a baby... but she is MY baby, OUR BABY!!! Well, soon :)

After talking with our agency this morning we had a lot of questions and gained a lot of clarity. As you know we received two preliminary proposals for little girls on Friday. One proposal only had one paragraph of information  and the other had one page. With the little information that we had, especially on the first girl, we wanted to make the most informed decision possible and were told we could request further information on both girls. I had mixed feelings about this. I was didn't want to have to look at two full files and choose one child over the other. How do you do that?

Well, it turned out that we couldn't request information of both girls at one time. We had to choose one girl that we were interested in adopting, request her information and if we we like what we see we officially commit. If we don't want to adopt her, then we could move on and request the second child information.

With our reasons and beliefs behind adoption, we will not be picking and choosing, looking for the "perfect child". Barring any extremely significant medical or behavioral issues that were not mentioned in the preliminary proposal, we are committing to the child that we received the most information on. She was the one I was drawn to from the beginning any way :) I didn't want to have to choose between the two girls and now I, sort of, don't have too! It makes the most sense to take the more complete proposal as our official proposal! We should get the full file within a few weeks and a picture!!!! :)

Our Daughter:

She is four months older Livi with her birthday at the end of April. We are expecting to have her home by her third birthday!!!! Oh My Gosh, I'm going out of my mind with excitement! She can crawl, sit and stand while holding on to something. She walks while holding someones hands, walks in all directions in a walker and can even stand unassisted for a few seconds. She claps, interacts with toys, make toys interact with each other, carries out simple orders accompanied with gestures (like come to me), and she imitates rhythmic songs and movements.

She was only 18 lbs and 76cm at her second birthday which is tiny! In the third percentile actually.... to put that in perspective Livi is in the 90th. She had a hole in her heart that closed naturally just before her second birthday and has some pulmonary hypertension. She will be under the watch of a cardiologist when she gets home. Other than that, she is perfect! She is going to be ours! I can't wait!!!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Letter

This letter was written by the birth mother of a boy born with special needs in the 1940's. It was sent along with her son as he was being sent to Woodlands, an institution in Burnaby. Back then parents were urged to give up parental rights and put their disabled children in institutions. They were told it was the best thing for everyone and for the child's best interest there should be no further contact. Thankfully we have moved past these beliefs in BC but I think these conditions and pressures are still very prevalent in Eastern Europe. I will have little to no information on my daughters birth family but this letter has softened my attitude towards them. I believe that they loved her. They did the best thing they knew how to do for her. They listened to the advice of the doctors and placed her in a place that they believed would care for her specific needs better then they themselves would be able to do. I am so thankful that my daughter's mother did make that choice. She will have a better life because her mother made that selfless, difficult decision...

To Those In Whose Hands God Has Placed My Darling son,

Dear Sirs:

This is just a few lines to outline to you some of my little boys habits. I do hope you don't mind my writing this to you.

I have put his name on all his clothes, which he has plenty of for the time being. This is the first time I have been parted from him and it seems very terrible to me just now, and yet I know it is all for the best. I  understand him so well and have loved doing everything for him for so long but my strength has given out and so now I must leave the rest to God.

He talks to me quite a bit with his eyes, but does say these few words: Ma Ma, Da Da, car, cow, I go out now, Ma Ma up, Bow Wow, Ball Boat, Walk, Nan Na meaning his granny, and when he wants a drink he says Ma instead of milk.

I have had him trained since he was two years old, and put him to the toilet every morning as soon as he is awake and mostly once or twice in the middle of the night when he wants to go he can't say it but looks down and kicks his legs and when he wants a drink of water at night he opens his mouth wide. I always had terrible trouble with his bowels right from when he was a baby, and so I have given him two tablespoons of mineral oil every night along with the same amount of Cod Liver Oil every night of this life and even then he only has a bowel movement every second night before he is washed for the night. After breakfast I dress him and put him right  in his walker which he calls his car car and he is in it until lunch time, after that a little rest and in it again until supper time, and then after that I prepare him for bed, but he loves his walker and I do hope you will let him be in it a lot, except of  course when he isn't well.

He was ruptured when very small from crying so much but this has never seemed to bother him as I have never let him cry very much. If he is naughty I just wheel him in another room and shut the door and in five minutes he has cried it out and is alright again. He is very patient and I hope you will all love him and that he gets adapted to his surroundings quickly. I am sure he will be happier once he gets used to your ways: I quite understand that he is not the only child to be cared for, that there are so many, and am only writing this because I cannot face bringing him all the way their and I thought these would be a few things you might have asked me if I had come. If there is ever anything you want me to send to him please let me know. I am packing a can of Hot Chocolate in his suit case as he loves that or cocoa but don't drink much milk except cream on his porridge in the morning. He eats and likes practically anything  except  he doesn't digest cabbage or corn very well, and does not chew his food quite as he should. I have really mashed up everything which I know I shouldn't have done.

I am sending along his toys for him to share with the others. I do hope he is allowed to play with them and have others amuse him.

My dear mother and my husband are bringing him and would you please let me know how he is from time to time and please let me know when you transfer him to New Westminster.

I am also sending along his story books he loves being read to and three little pictures to hand at the head of his bed, if you had been short of cribs he has a lovely white one he could have shipped over their, as I know there are so many little patients and I have lots of nice bedding  for him, if you could use his own little crib let me know.

I really must close now. I didn't intend to take up so much of your valuable time reading my long letter but I wanted to make things a little easier by explaining.

Thanking you all in advance for caring for my darling son,
              I am
                 Yours sincerely,
                             Mrs. Muriel

Saturday, November 6, 2010


This week I got the drive to finish up Livi and her soon-to-be sister's room. I don't know what really got in to me... especially since Jon and I have been sick with really bad colds. I think it can only been explained by the "nesting" instinct!

My sister came over and cut in on the edges while I rolled the bright purple paint on :) I took advantage of Jon staying home sick on Thursday and drove out to Richmond to pick up the girls' beds. I found them on Craigslist for a VERY reasonable price from a manufacturer. I got both bed frames and one mattress in my Mom's minivan!

Thursday night things were clean and set up enough for Livi to sleep in her new room. Livi was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement for her new room, but when it came down to being bed time Livi had some anxiety. She cried on and off for a bit while we coddled and tried to comfort her. She only took about an hour to settle down and slept the whole night through! Nap and night time the next day were not an issue. She loves her new bed. She loves her new room and continues to drag us back to play with her in it.

Friday, I finished transferring Livi's clothes and putting up pictures....

This is Livi's bed.

I love the picture on the wall. It inspired the room.
Very Alice in Wonderland-esque.

After running around all day and setting up the girls' room I finally sat down around 7pm to check my email. My heart jumped as I saw one from our adoption agency with the subject "Bulgaria"! Why did I wait until after hours, before a weekend to check my email?!?! Our Dossier was accepted and registered and attached were two proposals for little girls needing a Mommy and Daddy! Jon was sitting beside me and we started reading. I was crying. One of these girls is my baby!!! I still can't believe it!

The proposals were both not very complete and did not have pictures. We have to make an official request to get the full packages of information, which we will be doing on Monday. Both girls were born in April 2008, so they are 4 months older than Livi. Both girls have Down Syndrome, both are in the same orphanage and, from the little information we have, both seem to be developmentally quite similar. How do we choose?!!!! This seems like an impossible task.

We'll be waiting to make our official decision until we have the full files, but we know that one of these girls is our girl! We'll be asking our agency to hold back the pictures of the girls and only send us the one of the child we choose. Since they are both in the same orphanage, I don't want to know which child we said no too and have to leave her in that orphanage. It would break my heart more than having to make this decision. It seems so absurd to choose one child over the other. Please don't get me wrong, this decision is going to bring one of the best blessings for our family and I don't really believe that there is a wrong decision here... I just want to make the right one. Does that make sense?

Stay tuned for more info!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween 2010

Here's my little Ladybug! 
In the afternoon we went to the mall to get some extra use out of Livi's adorable costume. It wasn't the event in Chilliwack that it was in Abbotsford last year, but it was still a lot of fun! Livi was awesome with all the other costumes. Nothing scared her. There was a scarecrow handing out candy that scared some of the kids. Livi was just excited to go up to him and say hi! Someone in a Death costume didn't scare her either. She thought it was a lion and wanted to give it a hug. I love that looks don't scare or confuse Livi. She is interested in everyone no matter what they look like and wants to get to know them.

Before we went out for Livi's first official trick-or-treating Livi was SUPER EXCITED and kept saying "let's go! Let's Go!" I think she overstimulated herself a little because before we left she "needed a little break." We did not put her in time-out...

The first house we hit was, of course, Marmee's. She didn't quite understand that she wasn't supposed to go inside. Livi got better with her "trick-or-treat" as we went up the street. It started off as a whisper but got louder and stronger. She almost always said "thank-you" too!

There was one house that Livi had been very excited to visit. It had a giant inflated pumpkin on their yard. She saw it from a block away and talked about after each house. When we finally got there she started getting really upset that she couldn't go and touch the pumpkin. She stopped listening and threw herself on the ground. I calmly asked her if we should skip this house all together. 
Livi whined "yyyyeeeeaahhh"
Me - "So no trick-or-treating here?"
Livi - "yeah"
Jon - "Is it just too tempting?"
Livi - "Too tempting."
We passed the house without incident and my little Ladybug returned. I love that she knew that she couldn't handle the stimulation and had to skip it :)

Surprisingly, Livi was not enamored with all the chocolate she was getting. All she wanted was the lollipops! I don't think she has ever had one before so it was something new. We gave her the choice of one candy after trick-or-treating and this is what she chose...

It was really a fun evening and a very successful first trick-or-treat! I'm pretty sure I was with the prettiest Ladybug in the town!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Great Soother War of 2010

There is a small window around one year old when most children are ready to give up there soother. We missed it or didn't care enough about it at the time. Recently, Jon and I decided that this would now be a good time for Livi to give it up. We have been talking with Livi for weeks now about giving up her soother to the Fairy to give to the babies. She was on board with the idea and even excited about it. I came up with the idea, inspired from her 'Olivia Acts Out' book, to send her soothers "up, UP, UP to the moon!" to the Soother Fairy to give to the other babies. When she made it through the night soother free the Fairy left a present. In Livi's case it was a baby doll with her own toy soother... we were hoping to reinforce the idea that soothers were for babies. 

 They are all tied on...
 One last pep-talk...
 Ready... Set...

The first night was hell. She cried on and off for 2.5 hours! 15 minutes of crying, 30 minutes of play... the hours went on like this. She eventually wore herself out and fell asleep. I think she woke up once that night, but I can't be sure. It's all been a blur. 

Each morning since she has woken up an hour earlier than normal or been up for over an hour in the night and slept in. She has not napped except for on the third day out of shear exhaustion. Getting to sleep at night has heard less and less crying every night but the quality of sleep has not improved. 

Surprisingly, Livi has only asked for her soother once the first night. She understood that it was gone but does not seem to have the tools to put herself to sleep with out it. We have tried EVERYTHING we could think of and even researched for new ideas on the internet! We extended her night time wind down routine, introduced a bottle for before naps, put towels on her window to keep her room darker, rocked her like I did when she was a baby, tried sleeping with her, tried to show her other things to suck on (thumbs, fingers, blanket, fuzzy), tried to teach her to rock herself in bed, tried white noise, let her cry it out, jumped to coddle her at the first whimper, gave her lots of praise for sleeping soundly, etc... NOTHING worked.

Yesterday was day five of little too no sleep for all of us. Livi was barely coping, not listening well, hyper and grumpy at the same time, not sleeping and I was officially sick with the flu. Sleep deprivation did not help my immune system. Livi wasn't not napping because she was ready to give up her nap, she didn't know how to put herself to sleep without the a soother. She needs sleeps for her health and development. I needed a nap. I needed my sanity! After one and half hours of Livi not napping yesterday, I was defeated. Livi had won. The Soother War of 2010 was over. I gave her a soother. She slept for 2 hours. I slept for 2 hours. I feel like a bit of a failure but we all needed our sleep. I had already discussed the possibility with Jon after he had been up with her for nearly an hour the night before. He almost gave it to her then :)

We gave it our best shot but realized she was not yet ready to be soother free. We are instilling more stringent rules around it now though... in hopes of maybe weaning her off of it instead of the cold turkey approach. She is only allowed to have it in her bed when she is sleeping. We already had a nap and night time rule but would let her have it during morning cartoons and evening wind down time sometimes. No more! Only in bed!

Am I being to harsh on Livi and myself? I think this soother thing is bothering me more than normal because all the literature says 2yrs is about the cut off time. She should be ready. Livi has always been on par or ahead of the literature. I know I sound like a total controlling mother/stuck-up cow but when you have a child as easy as Livi has always been, it is hard not to expect every parenting step to be just as easy. She is going to be a horrid teenager just because I said that, isn't she?

I think the other issue going on here is my own. Realizing it has made me more okay with letting her have her soother back. I sucked my thumb until I was almost 11years old. I was very self-conscience and, I'm sure, teased about it. My mom tried EVERYTHING to get me to give it up. It turned out that leaving my birth father did the trick :) It was a coping mechanism for me that went on for longer than was normal. I need to remember that Livi doesn't have the need for that coping mechanism.... this is just a developmental phase that she is not ready to give up yet. I need to step back and watch her for when she is ready, not tell her when she should be ready.