Friday, December 19, 2008

Gifts of Christmas

Christmas is quickly approaching.  I am almost done shopping.  This year I was able to give a fun surprise to my husband.  He mentioned a few weeks ago that he really wanted a puppy.  We have a 2 year old dog and of course, 3 children so I laughed at him!!  I told him he should get me some newborn twins while he was at it!!  Well, he searched the internet to find breeders in our area but found none for the kind of dog we have and want.  (A Cavapoo- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle mix.)  He was ready to spend way too much money to have one shipped here.  Well, I mentioned this to a friend of mine who told me her friend, just 5 miles away, had a litter of Cavapoos right now.  The exact breed we are looking for!!  I couldn't believe it.  I called her and sure enough, she had 4 puppies left.  I made an appt. at 5pm to come see them and pick one.  I told my husband I needed him home at 5 to take him to see a playset someone was selling for really cheap.  A few hours later he called me from work to tell me he was reading the paper and found Cavapoo puppies for sale just 5 miles from our house!  He had called the breeder and set up a 7:30 appointment.  Oh yes, the same breeder.  It was great!  I called the breeder to let her know the 7:30 appt was my DH and we had a good laugh.  She had told him there were 3 puppies available because she already promised one to me.  She hadn't realized it was my DH who called.  So, we drove to go see the "playset" and he stressed on the way there about how he was going to move a playset and put it back together.  As we pulled in to the house, I thought he might recognize the address but he didn't.  We went to her backyard with her and I could see Kevin scanning the backyard for the playset.  We turned a corner and there were the kennels with all the puppies.  He glanced at them and continued to walk.  I said, "Honey, incase you haven't noticed, there is no playset.  We're here to see the puppies.  This is the breeder and I am the 5 o'clock appt."  He said, "NO WAY!"  He was totally surprised and I let him in on the whole story.  It was great!!  Anyway, since I couldn't beat him I decided to join him.  So, the day after Christmas we will pick up our new puppy, Gus.  I don't know which made Kevin happier, getting the puppy or the relief of not having to put a huge playset together!  I think it was definitely the puppy.  Too fun!

On another wonderful note, Max is now official.  His name has been changed and he is now readopted in the U.S.   I am SO happy that is done.  Now we can bless him at church and have him become part of our forever family.  It is a really special thing in our church to take your children to a temple and have a ceremony to become a family unit forever and not just for life.  We will do that the day after Christmas!  What a special day it will be to have all my children there together.  I know I will feel Braxton's love on that day.  My children will all dress in white and it will be beautiful.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Computer issues

So, I wanted to post Buddy Walk pictures and Halloween pictures but my computer is on the fritz.  I am using my husband's laptop but I can't get the latest photos.  I'm not exactly computer literate!  I have to tell you though that Tia's teacher was telling me last week that one of her sight words is "come", which Tia knows and usually doesn't hesitate to say in her list of words.  Well, last week Tia was in a teasing mood and when they got to the word "come", Tia said, "dot com"  When the teacher looked at her funny she said, "It says Sesame Street dot com" complete with a smirk on her face.  So funny!!!!  When I was 6, computers were non existent, now I need my 6 year old to teach me how to work it!  LOL
Also, my friend Joyana Jensen is coming to town from CO for Thanksgiving.  She is an awesome photographer and would love to set up some shoots while she is here. So, if you live in Mesa or Gilbert and haven't gotten your Christmas card photos done go to her website, check it out and call her  to schedule an appt.  http://www.treasuredphotosbyjoyana.com  She does an amazing job!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just Pictures

Max playing with his car. If you click on it you can see his tongue out making the "bbbbb" car noise.
I just LOVE this boy!! What a smile!

Tia riding Abu the camel at the zoo. Tyler wouldn't do it.

Zoo Hugs. Is there ever a bad time for hugs? Too cute.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Camping and Court

Tia with her Mac-N-Cheese
Click on the picture and you can see the fish Tia caught!

Here's the set up. New tent and everything.

Here are some pictures from the Daddy-Daughter Camp out our church does. Let me tell you Tia was one excited girl!!!! She thinks tents and s'mores are about the best thing ever! I don't know who's child she is because I HATE camping.

So yesterday was totally crazy. We got an appointment with the social worker for tomorrow to do the post adoption follow up. So, we thought the court date would be continued another day. Well, at 9:45am I was walking out of the lab from getting Max's blood drawn for thyroid levels (never fun) and my phone had 5 missed calls from my hubby telling me they want us at the courthouse at 10am! So, I drove there not knowing which building it was in. My husband rode his motorcycle to work so I couldn't call him to get directions. After carrying Max into 3 different places (with a broken toe), we found it. We sat there with our attorney for almost an hour. I felt bad because neither Kevin or I was dressed to be in a courtroom for an adoption. After waiting for so long the judge decided he wouldn't hear our case until all the paperwork was present. Sigh!
I guess what happened was that the attorney asked for the case to be rescheduled and then called later and asked that we be allowed to do the testimony part of it and just be mailed the certificate when the paperwork was complete. The attorney from the District office told our attorney that the judge was new to adoptions but that he himself has done many and that is the way it works. Well, the judge did not do that. The worst part is that they rescheduled our hearing for December!!! Good grief. It will be ready next week and just sit there until December. After that I had to run home, feed the boys and then go to the school to get Tia for early release. Today was also the day to pick up the cookie dough for the school fund raiser. So, I got that, drove home and realized they forgot some of my order. So, I drove back to the school and completed the order. Then came home, showered and headed off to parent teacher conferences back at the school. Those went well.

Tia's teacher really likes having her in class and is surprised how well she is doing. Her writing is coming along well and she is doing great in reading. She has never missed more than one on her spelling test. Tyler's teacher says he's stubborn and funny and doesn't talk much at school. He cracks me up. He talks a lot at home so I don't know why he doesn't at school. His favorite funny word right now is "Buns". Every time he is drawing a picture and I ask what it is he says, "Buns" and laughs hysterically. It is so funny that I can't not laugh. His laugh is SO contagious. We are in trouble with that guy! Some day I will have to record it so you can see how funny he is.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Re-adoption

So tomorrow was supposed to be a great day. Max's re-adoption day. He would finally be "Max" and he would have an English birth certificate with his new name. Well, as you can guess, there was a glitch. No one informed us, until today, that we need a post placement visit to show the judge tomorrow. Serbia does not require one until he has been here 6 months so we didn't even call an agency yet. Typing this two hours later: I called the agency and they can come on Saturday to do the visit. YEAH! So, it should only set us back a few weeks. I am glad because we can't bless him in our church until his birth certificate name matches his blessing name. Oh, and I broke my toe today. Nice! It is swollen and black and blue. I'm glad it is still sandal weather here for a while. My friend said my warranty must have just run out because last week I tripped in the car while re-buckling Tyler, who unbuckled his car seat as Kevin was driving. Anyway, I hurt my knee doing that and now my toe. What a dork I am!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ear tubes

Max got ear tubes Monday. He had built up fluid that wasn't going away. We don't know how long it was there so we figured we better not wait much longer. It was decreasing his hearing by 40-50 decibels. They did the ABR (hearing test) while he was still under and his hearing is perfect now that the fluid is gone. Yeah!! He has seemed more mellow too. He used to be REALLY loud sometimes. Now he doesn't seem to need to yell as much. Although, I am still testing this theory as it has only been a few days. It may just be wishful thinking. :-)
I always hate having a child in surgery but he did great. I mean he was screaming when I got to the post surgery room but he calmed quickly with a bottle and mommy. He is NOT a fan of men in a doctor's office setting so I made sure it would be a woman caring for him all the way through. Before surgery, he let the girl do the vitals just fine but when the male anesthesiologist came in to just listen to his lungs, he threw a fit. Funny! Anyway, he is doing great now.
He is signing "More" now. It is SOOO cute. He signs "more" every time he wants more tickles. He says "OOOO" for "Choo Choo" and "Brrrrr" when he plays with a toy car. He is all boy! He loves balls, trucks, cars, trains and especially the school bus. He watches it everyday until it is out of sight. Yup, he's cute!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our second interview this week

Here is the link to our second interview.
Type "Down syndrome" in the search spot and then click on Sharing Down Syndrome AZ

Max was SO cute!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Link to story

Here is the link for the news story that ran tonight.  I think it went well.  What do you think?  Like I said before, at least the kids are cute!!!  It shows a commercial first and then our story. 


http://www.azfamily.com/video/newsat9-index.html?nvid=281421


Max the Celebrity

So, if you haven't read the last post, read it now. I guess it is my week to be a superstar because I am now going to do a live interview on Fox 10 at 8:30am tomorrow morning. So, if you want to see me and Max---again, you can watch that too. So, tonight at 9 on Channel 3 and tomorrow at about 8:30am on channel 10. The Fox interview is about the Buddy Walk and Sharing Down Syndrome AZ. (One of the support groups in AZ). Who knew Max would have his moment of fame so soon? =-)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Tomorrow night at 9pm my family will be on Channel 3 "News at Nine." They came out and interviewed me on Friday afternoon. McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin has a son with Down syndrome so DS is getting a lot of media attention right now. I think it's great. So, last Thursday the news station called and asked if I would do an interview. I said sure. They said they wanted to do it in my home and "would today or tomorrow be better?" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Now if you have a house ready for a camera crew to come over, I am impressed. I do not. So, I agreed to the next day and for 24 hours cleaned every corner of my first 3 rooms they would see. Now comes the funny part: The camera man and producer showed up before the anchor so they decided to shoot video of the kids playing. The kids had the playroom messed up in no time and when the anchor came in to meet the kids she sat on the playroom floor and said, "Let's just do the interview here." Again, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! LOL So, in the mess we sit and do the interview. So, for those of you who live in AZ and watch it tomorrow please don't think I didn't clean my house because I really did!!! They were here over an hour but the story will be less than 5 minutes I'm sure. I just hope I didn't say anything dumb. I think I did OK but we'll see. When I get nervous I can't express myself very well. So, tune in if you get a chance. It will probably be online after it airs so for those out of the area I will give you the link next time. Only if it's good. =-)

Friday, August 29, 2008

August update

Life has been so crazy this month. I don't know why I thought it would calm down with school starting but it definitely didn't. The update on Tia's school situation is good. She got a new aide who I really, really like! She is young and has a 14 y.o. sister with DS so she loves children with DS. HOORAY!! Tia seems to really like school. I went and talked to her class last week about her having Down syndrome and what that meant. It went well I think. She showed them some sign language and we talked a lot about how everyone is different but we can all be friends. Tia loved showing off and telling them about the things she loves to do. It was really cute.

Now for the update on Max. He is cruising furniture!!!! We were a bit unsure how long it would take because he seems to have very unstable ankles but he holds on and walks from one end of the couch to the other without a problem. It is so exciting to watch. Now for the not fun part. He is teething and has a cold so he is crying a lot and having a hard time sleeping. It has been a bit stressful at times but we are hanging in there.

Tyler likes school too and I really like his teacher. He pretty much only tells me about snack but I hear him singing all the songs and he is talking a lot more. He never wants to go to school because he thinks life as a couch potato is much more appealing but once the bus comes, he is ready! Too funny.

Tonight on Dateline was a look into institutions/orphanages in Serbia. It was SO heartbreaking. Max came from a Children's Home that was NOT like that. We are so glad that he had good care and that he was put up for adoption there. The other institutions do not offer children for adoption and so the overcrowding is terrible and the staffing is low and the neglect is high. My life is busy. Sometimes my life feels very stressful but I am so thankful for Max in our family and for those who helped bring him to us. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

First week of first grade

Tia's first day of first grade!!! How cute!! Can you guess what her favorite color is? =-)


So how was the first week of school, you ask? STRESSFUL!!! Tia's teacher and aide did not have any information on her. I had written a 3 page "All about Tia" for them and I was really glad I did. One thing they did not know is that Tia will not poop in the potty so she is still in Pull-Ups at school and needs to be changed and taken to the bathroom on a schedule to pee. The aide is less than thrilled about this and has asked for a different student assignment. So, we will see how long it takes to get a different aide. I can't blame her, I don't love it either but have no idea how to get her to "go".

There was NO aide for lunch like there was supposed to be so I played lunch aide all week and had to find a sitter for Ty and Max during lunch. Now she is going to eat with a Special Needs class so she can have some help opening things and making sure she gets to the right places and has time to eat. She eats 3 things. Pasta squares (by Gerber), mac-n-cheese, and Vienna Sausages. That is what she will eat every week, all year. YUCK!!! I really hope I can convince her to broaden her horizons a bit. Hot lunch has a lot of choices but I am worried she will ask for something she doesn't like and won't eat. She does that a lot. She will ask for pizza or PB&J and I know from years of wasting food, that she won't eat it. I'm not sure if she is just asking for what she knows other kids eat (like Tyler) or what?! Sigh.

I just wish I could enroll my kids in school and that was it. But, it is so much more work, effort and stress with a child with special needs. After 4 days, the Resource teacher offered us a Skills Class (self-contained classroom) as an option for Tia instead of the regular ed. class she is in. That was frustrating. Could they give her a chance to adjust??? I am not anti special education at all but, I know that research shows children with DS are better off in a typical class with modifications. Tia is bright, she does not have behavior issues, she tries hard and there is no reason they cannot help her succeed in a regular classroom. I don't know what the next few years will bring but for now we feel strongly that Tia is in the right place. I pray, cry, stress and read as much as I can before her IEP meetings to place her in the right setting. It is hard to have someone tell you they don't think you made the best decision. I don't tell other people that they made the wrong decisions for their children! I can't imagine telling someone, "So, I noticed your son is immature for his age" or "most kids his age can jump better than that" or whatever. If I said that to a typical parent they would hit me! I don't know why people think they can point out our children's short comings. They have Down syndrome. They are not going to be age appropriate in everything. This is why Special Education services are in place to help them. OK, so to sum up, this week was hard! =-) Sorry for ranting and raving. Hopefully, this week will go better and Tia will get a new aide.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's almost August

My 3 cuties in Utah. Yes, I was standing on the right of them. And yes, this is the best shot we got.

This is Tia with her cousin Elisabeth getting ready for "camping". They slept in the tent in the backyard and Tia was SOOOO excited!!! Daddy will have to take her camping now. (Notice I didn't say mommy. =-))

You have to click on the picture to blow it up and see the true love of ice cream this boy possesses. And how cute is he sitting in the wagon?

Fish face? Kisses? I don't know but super cute!!!

We are back from a long vacation to Utah and Idaho. I think it will be a while before Max wants to sit in his car seat for any length of time. It was a long drive. We had such a fun time at my brother Dave's house as you can see. Getting out of the AZ heat was wonderful!!! We did all get the stomach flu (except Kevin and my brother, go figure) but what could be more bonding than throwing up together?! Ha ha. No, only a few got it while we were actually there. The rest saved it for this week.

School starts here on Monday. Tia will be in first grade and it will be the first time she is going to school ALL day. I am a ball of nerves. I got sick to my stomach as I shopped for lunch box foods yesterday. I really have NO idea if she will eat anything. She is a super picky eater and only eats warmed up foods like raviolis, mac and cheese, etc. So, what to pack in a lunch box??? I don't know! She won't eat bread or meat or cheese or pretty much anything packable. I am just planning on heating stuff before she goes to school and hope she eats it 4 hours later. She is in a regular ed. classroom but will have an aide with her so she won't be able to just eat the cookies and go play. But, I am sad. I will really miss her. She will have therapy 4 days a week right after school, then do homework, eat dinner and go to bed. She is losing her playtime and that makes me sad. It also makes me worry about her behavior getting crazy. I hope it all goes well and I have worried all summer for no reason. =-)

Ty goes to preschool and has a new teacher this year. He is pretty easy going and I think he will be fine. Max may be confused to have such a quiet house for a few hours a day. I'm SURE he will enjoy his one-on-one time with mommy. He is a mama's boy. Poor guy got the stomach flu on vacation and now has a cold. He has been really cranky and I think he is teething as well. It makes the days really long this week. But, I still have to say whenever anyone asks about him I have to just say he is wonderful. Because he really is such a joy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

July fun

Our little Serbian-American celebrating the 4th of July! How cute is that?! We didn't get to see any fireworks but we went to a parade and had tons of fun in Flagstaff at my sister's house. We went to Mormon Lake and saw team roping, buffalo, goats, chickens, cows, etc. The kids were all excited to see "real cowboys."


Now that Max weighs 21 lbs., 9 oz (9780 grams) he gets a forward facing car seat!!! Yes, that is over 4 lbs of weight gain in 6 weeks! We are officially off Pediasure and onto whole milk. Well, as soon as we can wean him off the flavorful Pediasure. We are at about a 30/70 mix right now in favor of milk.


This is Tia and Tyler playing hide-and-seek. Can you find them??? Too funny!!! If I say, "Where are Tia and Tyler, I can't find them. Tia will stay hidden but yell out, "Over here. Look over here." Kids are awesome!

Max has his first word!! He is clapping his hands now and with it says, "EEEAA" otherwise known as, "YEAH." He is such a joy. He loves balls and is really starting to love playing with Tia and Tyler. Tia is not fond of sharing her tea parties with the party wrecker but she loves him. I can't believe we have had him for almost 2 months now. In some ways it feels like he has been here forever and in other ways it feels like he just got here. He is changing everyday and picking up new skills left and right. It is so much fun to be part of showing him new things and watching him succeed and learn. He is funny and silly and fits right in. He is such a blessing to our home!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Look at Max now!!!

He pulled himself up!!!! I walked into the room and there he was standing. Awesome, huh?!
Is this my child??? He wouldn't even take a bath a month ago and now he LOVES the pool! Click on the picture to see it bigger. His face is so cute!!


This is what Tyler did one morning before waking us up. He lined up all the matching containers on the counter and stacked up the soup. He could be VERY instrumental later in helping mommy organize my life. He loves to count and line stuff up. Too cute!

Life is good. Max is probably 20 lbs by now. We are on a waiting list for a feeding therapist (there are 20 people on the list!!!) so we'll see how long it takes. In the meantime, he is eating very thick foods and doing well. He has a fever today thanks to his vaccinations but it will pass. He is only taking one bottle a day now. Everything else is spoon fed. Way to go Max!!! I keep him on the bottle on purpose and will probably do that for a while. It is a good bonding activity and comforts him at bedtime. Being laid down for bed is not his favorite thing. He would much rather be held but rarely falls asleep in my arms. He will fight sleep forever and just get more and more cranky if I hold him. I don't let him cry to sleep though. So, if he cries for more than 10 seconds, I pick him up, rock him longer and try again. I wouldn't suggest this technique unless your child is adopted. :-) It makes for a long evening sometimes. But, he is getting more trust that I will be here tomorrow and he can go to sleep.

We put our papers in yesterday to change Max's name and re-adopt him in the US. This just helps build a paper trail here and give him a US birth certificate, SS # etc. I can't wait for his name to be Max officially, so doctor's offices quit calling to confirm appts for my daughter!! The attorney said it could be a few weeks until court, or several months. Strange, huh? We get the attorney FREE through my husband's work which is very nice. So, hopefully it won't take too long to get the court date. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I love you through "Thick or Thin"

We had Max's Upper GI swallow test yesterday. He was not thrilled drinking barium but he drank enough to get results (and to poop white!) Basically, he aspirates anything thinner than pudding consistency! Not great news, but... the great news is that it is NOT structural. Meaning, it is just because of his lack oral motor control. So, the therapist recommended 2-3 months of feeding therapy and then come back to check it again. I was relieved to hear that! We are not supposed to give him any liquids. I don't know how that is possible. I meet with the pediatrician tomorrow to figure it all out. We are also upping his Prevacid for reflux.

Oh, I talked to an elderly lady while waiting in the hospital for the test. She asked me what Max's "condition" was called. I told her Down syndrome. She said, "Some of the people with Down syndrome are really pretty advanced." I agreed, of course. She told me she had seen "So You Think You Can Dance" when the young man with DS was on there. She said, "He was a bright boy. He spoke well and seemed to have a good life." I was SO thrilled that the boy on that show had been given air time. He truly did what he set out to do...change people's opinions. Way to go!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Weight check today

We had a weight check today. I am SOOO excited to announce that Max is now 19 lbs, 10 oz! He has gained 36 oz in 21 days!!!!!! How amazing! He came to us at 17-6 and we were hoping for a one-ounce-a-day weight gain which we have happily exceeded! Maybe we won't have to be on Pediasure as long as we thought.

Tomorrow is the big upper GI test so, we'll see how it goes. NO surgery is the ultimate goal in my mind! I know I can't control it but I have done the g-button life and I don't want to go there again. Plus, I hate putting my kids under anesthesia. So, hopefully we can use medication for reflux without needing the fundoplication. The doctor said today that most likely if he is aspirating when he swallows, it can be fixed with a feeding specialist since he is already 17 months old and is dealing OK with it. We will see what tomorrow morning brings.

My hubby is home! No more single mom. Don't you just think it's cruel to leave me with 3 kids right off the bat! Just kidding. I mean, really, golf is important too. HA HA. Just teasing! I love you honey. But I am VERY glad you are home! Now, can you change that dirty diaper?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The many steps of bathtime

Step 1: Fully dressed with NO water . Play for 2-3 minutes.

Step 2: Clothes off but diaper on, still NO water. Continue playtime.




Step 3: Diaper off, play a while. Then start the water. He usually freaks out as soon at it touches him, but today he did great!


Step 4: Wash body and hair while playing and singing. He whined but was still happy for the camera.

Step 5: Love on my little Max burrito!! He did amazing!!!!
WE DID IT!!!! I am SO happy he is trusting me now! I really just think he had no idea it was supposed to be fun. Now he is relaxing a little. We will continue the 5 step process for a while to help him feel more at ease. He is just so dang fun! Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. I'm so happy to have others to ask!!!

Also, Max ate 2 meals by spoon yesterday!!! He is up to eating 8-10 oz of baby food at a time. It is awesome! Next battle will be texture. I plan to wait a few weeks for that. We have an upper GI study next Tuesday to see about his aspiration and reflux. I am so curious to see what is going on. He is still really raspy after every feeding and has a nasty cough even with the meds he is on now. My hope is that it is just reflux and not a structural issue when he swallows. Reflux can be fixed with medication. I'm not sure what they will do if it is structural.

Tia and Tyler are adjusting really well. Tia still needs her space now and then but there has been a lot of change for her to deal with. She has a new respite provider, we've had lots of company, Max's crying scares her, and daddy went out of town for a few days. She is still processing everything. Tyler is very easy going and change is not as difficult for him. So, he helps Tia by being a friend to play with. They are great kids!! Right now they are pretending to be in school. Tyler is writing his abc's and Tia is giving a lecture on manners! "You have to share Tyler, OK?" "OK" Pretty funny. I am almost surprised things are going so well. I am just trying not to feel spread too thin but give everyone some one on one time. It takes a lot of energy but it is worth it!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

2 weeks later






We have been home for 2 weeks now. It feels so great! Max is doing really well. He is paying more attention to Tia and Tyler and seems to be settling in. He has explored about every inch of the playroom and front room. It is so fun to see him enjoying life in our family! My sister came for a little bit today and hasn't seem him in 2 weeks. She said he looks stronger and healthier already. That was nice to hear.

He has actually done 2 amazing things since he's been here. He is putting weight through his feet now and pulling up on my hands. He wouldn't put any weight on his feet before and he thinks it is the funnest game ever! AND as you can see, today he ate from a spoon!!!! He hasn't been liking the baby food in a bottle much the last few days so I decided to try it on a spoon. I started with sweet potatoes (because no baby can refuse those) and it worked. He was messy but he opened his mouth every time for the spoon. He did bite the spoon A LOT and wouldn't give it back which was funny but he did it!! So, for 2 meals today he ate some baby food. I tried stage 3 but he wasn't ready for the texture so I blended it up and he liked that better. Little by little he is getting it. He definitely still likes the bottle for his milk.

He still HATES the bath and we are trying things with no success but we will get there. He doesn't mind playing in a pan of water, or putting his feet in water but hates to be sitting in it. I even tried to get in with him in just two inches of water but he freaked out. So, next I will put him in the tub with NO water and some toys and see how he does. I am only trying something every few days so it doesn't become too stressful for him. I sure wish I knew how he handled baths in Serbia. I just feel so bad for him. Overall, he is doing great and is an absolute sweetheart!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Huff Family Update


Yes, we are all alive! I know I haven't written an update but life has been busy this week. I haven't made it to the computer much. Max is doing really good and yes, I cut his hair. It took 3 days for him to get off Serbian time which was really hard since Kevin and I were so exhausted. He would be up at 1:30am every night ready for food and playtime. He now sleeps from 7:30pm-5am. My other kids are early risers too so although that is a bit early, we are happy to sleep through the night. I was worried Max would not want to be held very much but it is quite the contrary. He loves to be held and often cries when put down. He does play on the floor by himself but prefers if we play with him there. I think it's great. He is commando crawling everywhere and we have to put all the cords up! He definitely knows me and prefers me. We are in spoil mode right now so he knows we won't leave him. He is SO happy and sweet!!!

The hardest part has been the food. He is not really thrilled with most things we give him. He is still 100% on a bottle so we have to grind up stuff and put it in a bottle for lunch and dinner. I am sure everything has a very different flavor than he is used to. He did not like our milk much either. But, after going to the pediatrician, he is now on Pediasure which he likes, thank goodness. However, it is $10.50 for 6 bottles! Hopefully, he won't be on it for long. He weighs 17-6 and is in 6-9 month clothes but he will be on to 9-12 month clothes soon. He has terrible reflux which we are getting a good handle on but he and I still go through a few outfits a day. I tried rice cereal on a spoon today and lets just say, it's going to be a while! It took 8 tries to get one spoonful in. Pretty funny.

We got referrals for all our doctors and have appointments set for the ENT(ear doctor), the eye doctor, the GI doctor for a swallow test to check to see if he is aspirating his food (as we think he is), a hearing screening, an endocrinologist as his thyroid hormone is elevated, the cardiologist just to be 100% sure everything is OK, and the evaluation for therapy services. Is that it? LOL We have the world's best pediatrician so she is covering all the bases for us. He is on breathing treatments and reflux medicine and is doing amazingly well now. He had a pretty bad cough and rattle sound going on before.

So much for laying low for a while. This week Tia had Kindergarten graduation, Tyler had the end of the year Preschool program, we had family in town for my nephew and niece's graduation, and overall life has been busy this week. Max is overwhelmed for sure and we are trying to keep that to a minimum. He just gets super tired and won't sleep because he doesn't want to miss anything. He LOVES being outside. Tia and Tyler are great with him. Tia loves to hold him. Tyler comes in every morning, gets face to face with Max and says, "Hello brother." It is SO sweet. They are not overly interested to the point of annoyance but like him and kiss him and then go on their way. It has been so fun to see how well he fits in our family. I feel like he has been here forever. I guess because he was in our hearts for so long before we brought him home. We really love him!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

We are all together!!!!





WE ARE HOME!!! I am so happy to be home with my kids and be all together. Thank you SO much to my sister for everything you did. Would you believe during the 2 weeks while we were gone, between the 5 children she had to deal with the stomach flu 3 times (her included), strep throat, two kids with double ear infections, croup, Tia falling and cutting her head, and pink eye!!! 4 of the 5 kids are now on antibiotics and the Urgent Care knows my brother-in-law by name. Insane! So, needless to say they are also VERY happy we are home to take over! Sorry, Amber!!! You are awesome!

Max did OK on the plane. He was so overstimulated and wouldn't sleep. Then he would get so over tired he would scream for 5-10 minutes and finally fall asleep. He slept most of the way from NY to Phoenix which of course messed up his night's sleep. He is totally backwards and exhausted when he is awake. Kevin and I took turns taking naps today as we did not sleep on the plane more than 30 minutes in a 28 hour period. I am just glad I have some adrenaline from seeing Tia and Tyler.

They LOVE Max and are SO happy to meet him and be with us again. It was adorable to see them all loving each other. I am sure when the exhaustion wears off, we will have so much fun. Kevin is home this week. Thank goodness!!! We have 100 things this week as it is the last week of school. I hope Max can hang in there a few more days. Then we can all calm down and just enjoy each other. Max already met a few of the cousins, one aunt and uncle, and one grandma. He was a hit! How could he go wrong with that smile?! Anyway, I am off to bed. I am SO happy to be home! Thanks to everyone for your support and friendship!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Doing the Visa Dance!!!!!

It all came together today!!! It was a bit stressful running here and there but we did it!!! Max is ours and has a Visa and will become an American citizen tomorrow evening when we touch down in New York City! It may not be through Ellis Island, but it works for me! We will be home in AZ at 9:45 pm tomorrow night. WOW!!! Thank you all so much for your prayers and words of encouragement.

We spent all day running around with Max and he was a trooper. He got so exhausted but wouldn't settle down to rest as there was too much to see. So we brought him back to the Children's home for a nap this afternoon. He has one more breathing treatment tonight to receive and then we will go get him for the final time. I am so happy to be with him. He and I have a very nice connection already. He does NOT like doctors however, and screamed the whole time she examined him. But, afterward he reached for me and calmed very quickly with me. I know there is much bonding to be done but that will come in time. We fed him baby food mixed with milk in a bottle. I had to poke a bigger hole in the tip as that is what he is used to. I will slowly have to wean him off some of the "not so good for oral motor" habits. :-)

So, that is our wonderful news. Next time I write I will be home in AZ! If I can add some pictures tonight I will. Kevin is at the botanical gardens and I need to go pack!!! Yeah!!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

HAPPY GOTCHA DAY!!!!!!

We did it!!!!! Max is officially our son today!!!! We got word at 8:30 am that the Minister signed the papers and we would be traveling to Max's birth town to finish the adoption. We drove about 2 1/2 hours south (beautiful drive by the way) and met with the Center for Social Work there. They have been the legal gaurdians for Max up until now. We were pleasantly surprised to see the Director there. We didn't meet her before. She was SO nice and wanted to be sure everything went smoothly. We shared our story and photos with her and exchanged gifts.

Then they read us the paperwork in English. We signed the adoption papers. Then we all stood up and the Director put her stamp of approval on it and officially announced us as the adoptive parents of Andrija Huff. We will change his name in the States to Max Andre Huff. We decided to keep part of his birth name. Oh, and yes, I had tears in my eyes when it was announced out loud. We have waited 10 long months for this day!!! I am SOOO happy he is ours!!!

We took the ladies from the center to lunch while the attorney took our paperwork to get a passport for Max. After lunch we went to the police station and signed for his Serbian passport. His little picture in a passport is so cute! So, all went SO much better than anyone expected. Now tomorrow we will take him to the Embassy approved doctor, get our translated paperwork from the attorney, and head to the Embassy for the Visa. OH PLEASE let them give us a Visa tomorrow!!!

Tonight Jasmina took us to a wonderful theatre to see a Folk Dancing performance. It was amazing and so nice to celebrate our day. It was (aside from adopting Max) my favorite thing we have done in Serbia. I really loved it. The costumes, singing and dancing were so great. The culture here is very strong. On any given night you can find an opera, concert, play, ect. I do wish we could have done even more. Kevin and I love that kind of thing but rarely have the time when we are home.

OK, it is midnight here and tomorrow is another big day. I am off to bed. My very, very small bed. :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2nd Wednesday in Serbia




Yes, more cute pictures! I'm telling you this boy is CUTE! We still did not get the papers signed by the Minister today. He is now in Belgrade though, which is good. We should know early in the am if we are traveling tomorrow. Everything must go as planned or we will not be home until next week. I HATE that because Tia is counting the days until we are home and it will be sad for her if we don't make it on the day we promised. Labor is hard and painful and adoption is slow and stressful. Either way, you must sacrifice something. I guess that is what makes it that much sweeter in the end. We will let you know how tomorrow goes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2nd Tuesday in Serbia

I need to start by asking for a prayer request. We are not going to Max's hometown tomorrow. They could not find the Minister today to get his signature. We must have that before we complete the adoption. This means we HAVE to get the signature tomorrow, go to Leskovac on Thursday, have Max's medical exam Friday and get the US embassy to give us his Visa the same day (Friday). (Usually, this takes 24 hours.) If the embassy takes 2 days for the Visa, we are stuck here until Monday. If the signature doesn't happen tomorrow, we are stuck here until next week for sure. Belgrade is a beautiful place but I miss my kids!!! I really want to get home Saturday! The people at the US embassy were SO nice to us today when we went to get all the forms. They said they will try to have the Visa the same day but it is out of their control. Please, pray that everything will fall into place and we will come home as planned. I am sure my sister will pray extra hard. LOL

OK, now to today. We spent time with Max this morning. He was in a really silly and talkative mood. He was laughing and babbling a lot. He doesn't smile all the time and we have even seen him a bit cranky but he is much more good natured than I ever would have thought. His nickname here is "smesko" which means "smiley boy." It is well deserved! In the afternoon we went to Zemun, which I guess would be a suburb of Belgrade. It was nice and more laid back than in the city. There were a lot of children there which we haven't seen so much in the city. AND, we have seen 4 older children/adults with Down syndrome!! I always want to talk to their families with them but the language barrier has prevented me from trying. So, I am very happy to know that some people here do value our children. Very cool.

We have not had a problem finding food here. The food is good and even more importantly, the ice cream and desserts are very good too. We found an amazing dessert place here. The only thing is when we asked for milk, they brought us steamed milk. It was actually good with chocolate cake though! We do eat out a lot even though we have a kitchen. I am not much of a cook and I figure it is good to experience the culture. Right? LOL Tomorrow, I am making apple pie for the church members. They meet on Wednesday night for family night. Don't be too impressed, I'm cheating. I brought pie crust mix and canned apple filling with me from the states. I also brought "apple pie spice" and it got crushed in my luggage. So I have one suitcase full of stuff covered in cinnamon!! It smells good though. LOL Oh, the joys of traveling!

Monday, May 12, 2008

2nd Monday in Serbia



Today we had wonderful weather!  We took Max outside to the play ground in front of the Children's home.  We put him in the swing.  He seemed to like it.  He is not one to complain much about anything yet.  (Oh yeah, except cleaning his nose and face.)  Several of the older children were outside too.  They are cute and some come to talk to us and give us hugs.  After about an hour outside, we took Max back in.  He played for a few minutes and then sacked out in my lap.  I guess he is not used to watching 20 kids run around.  

After we left the Children's home, we went downtown with Jasmina.  She showed us several nice stores and restaurants.   We ate a lot of lunch and then walked it off by going back to the castle to take pictures and see the churches there.  It was really amazing.  You can see the whole city and the Danube River.  Funny story...Kevin was wearing shorts and they did not allow this in the church so he had to wrap a shawl around his legs.  He looked like he had a skirt on.  I don't know which is more disrespectful, shorts or a guy in a skirt?!  Pretty funny.  We took a small tour of the fortress museum and Kevin liked that the best.  He really enjoys learning about the history here.  He read about it a lot before we came.  I read about the city as it is now and things to do here.  Together we have found we are familiar with many of the sites here.  The people here appreciate that we take interest in their culture and history.  

It looks like we will go to Max's hometown on Wednesday.  We will bring the attorney's husband to help us.  He is well known in that area and can use his influence to help us if needed.  Let's hope it all goes well but, we are all a bit nervous.  One of the people there is not happy about international adoption and could make it difficult for us.  Tomorrow we go to get forms at the US Embassy and schedule an appointment for the Visa interview.  We will get Max's physical on Thursday.  He is using breathing treatments right now for a respiratory infection so we will not take him from the children's home until probably Friday.  We want him to get all his medications.  We leave Saturday morning.  I think this week will go quickly but Wednesday may feel VERY long.  We will see.  Lots of arguing in Serbian. :-) But if you have been here, you know that is NO big deal.  Serbians are very passionate people.  It has been fun.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday in Serbia

As I write this I can hear fireworks of celebration from the elections today. It is almost midnight here. We went downtown tonight and all was calm but there were news crews everywhere and one of the streets was closed for a party.

We went to church this morning. Our church is small here but lots of the members spoke English and everyone was wonderful to us. Of course they made us speak but it was nice to share our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They all told us how grateful they are that we would give a child from Serbia a better life. Really, it is Kevin and I who are grateful to be given the opportunity and means to do so.

After church we went to visit Max. It was there that we realized it was Mother's Day in the U.S. It was so nice to have Max with me today so I wasn't so sad to be away from Tia and Tyler. We did talk to them today via webcam which is really great. It is nice for them to be able to see us and us them. I sure miss them!! My sister got the stomach flu last night so her hubby had to take care of all 5 kids alone today. Thanks to both of you for all your sacrifices this week!!! Pretty much every one of the kids have been sick while we have been here. Not fun for her!

Well, I am exhausted so I am off to bed. Did I mention our bed is about 6 inches bigger than a twin bed? Pretty funny as we are not small people! I will be so happy to have my Cali King back! :-) Here's to hoping we don't fall out of bed!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday in Serbia

Mommy and Max
Kisses are a bit more like licks in his world.  Funny.
He loves to play ball and is good at rolling it back and forth to us.  He likes when I get the ball and say, "Fa la vum" which is "Thank you."  He gives me big smiles.  
Jasmina's choir concert in front of part of the Children's hospital.

Hello again.  We only spent about 45 minutes with Max today.  But, in case you are wondering, he is still cute!!! LOL  Jasmina invited us to go to a concert she was performing in with her choir.  It was for a benefit at a children's hospital.  It was very nice and the weather is perfect today!  It really is a beautiful city!!  The elections are tomorrow so there is much going on in the way of entertainment in the city center.  There is a rule here that you cannot campaign for 3 days before the election to give everyone a time to decide.  I wish we would be so lucky in the States.  LOL  The other night there were about 30-40 policemen outside the US Embassy.  Kevin and I thought it was because it was the last night of campaigning.  Come to find out it was because of a soccer game!!!  Some people riot if their team loses and so they always heighten security on nights of soccer games.  Pretty funny.  It is not even near the soccer stadium.  My brothers will understand the passion soccer brings in other countries!  (We are a BIG soccer family.)  

We went to a concert last night at the castle here.  We didn't get close to the stage but had a good time walking around and people watching.  Young people drink a lot here and everyone smokes.  It is different for us.  Cafe's are everywhere and we have a harder time finding places that serve food and not just drinks.  We asked Jasmina and she gave us some great suggestions.  We did go to a really nice restaurant last night and the menu was in English.  We will most likely go back there.  It is very nice to meet someone who speaks English.  I must be getting homesick!  Yes, I am.  

So, the rest of today we will sightsee.  There will be an orchestra concert in the park with the castle tonight and we will go there for sure.  We are trying to get tickets to the Opera too.  We just want to experience all we can here.  Tomorrow we will go to church in the morning and then to see Max in the afternoon.  Until tomorrow, here are some more pictures.  

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday from Serbia

video

Here is some cute video from yesterday afternoon.  We went to get his pictures for the passport and visa today.  The physical therapist walked there with us.  It was probably Max's first trip out of the children's home.  He was very serious and a bit shell shocked.  No smiling for the camera.  But, we are one step closer to the adoption.  We should go to his hometown next Tuesday or Wednesday to sign the papers.  Hopefully, it will go smoothly.  We are now coming to the center of town for internet use as we can use wireless and be outside to "people watch."  The young girls dress like American's in the 1980's!  It is funny to see.  Maybe that is the trend in the US too.  What would I know??  

We tried to use our washer only to find out it was broken.  It filled with water but would not drain.  The door to the washer is on the front so we had to open it to get the clothes out to dry.  It was quite comical to watch Kevin trying to catch all the water as he opened the door.  Needless to say, it is getting fixed tomorrow!  Funny.  Now I wish I had brought a few more clothes.  Our apartment has been good though.   We are a bit squished as we only have a full size bed (about 6-8 inches bigger than a twin) but at least it is not a twin.  Beggars can't be choosers!  :-)  We are doing well.  Have fun laughing along with the video! 

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursday am in Serbia

View from our apartment windowView from children's home window
Our cutie cute little monkey, Max
His cute little grin, outside on the playground.

Another great day! Max is just wonderful. He is such a sweetheart and so much fun! His smile and laugh are contagious! Enjoy the pictures.