I realize this plan is both ambitious and optimistic considering we are going to have more medical appointments and a traumatized child living with us. I think of it as a target to aim at and we’ll prioritize and streamline it as we go along. If I have things here and ready, then more can happen. If you look at the end where “extra” stuff goes, you’ll see that I’m going to have fun learning materials around for them to learn organically on. If some of the formal learning gets behind, they’ll get ahead in the hands-on learning stuff.
Reminder of Washington State’s homeschool subject requirements (which do not have to be taught separately/individually):
1. Occupational education
5. Social Studies
11. Appreciation for Art and Music
Mostly self-led studies:
– 1 year subscription to JAM Inventions
– A number of educational tv shows and movies (have any recommendations?)
– A stack of inexpensive science kits ($10-$20) including a “Magic” science kit, a bubble-gum making kit, perfumery, etc.
– A couple projects where i gather the materials and then let the kids have at it, such as birdseed ornaments, homemade rock candy and homemade slime
Everything here at home is going well. Jordan’s in a good spell (sleeping, happy), the girls are wrapping up loose ends in their schooling and Anna is preparing for her big, year-end ballet recital. The adoption paperwork continues its slow path towards court and us becoming Daniel’s legal, permanent parents. That’s going to feel so good. It’s unlikely, but I’m praying for a court date in July, because court is closed for summer holiday the month of August. September or October aren’t out of the question, though. If the Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, we should have everything in order to pick him up a month after court. Waiting is hard, but I’m getting practiced at it.
Sometimes I don’t realize how picture-perfect our life seems. Until I look through our pictures. So before I show you our gorgeous photos, I want to tell you that: I’m typing this blog in my pajamas, I had a hard time getting the kids to wake up this morning, The floor hasn’t been vacuumed or swept in over a week, it’s raining today, the garden is only half planted (in June!) and neglected, I had two days of dragging around followed by a super day yesterday, my bed is unmade, I have stacks of books I planned to read YEARS ago still sitting in my room gathering dust and I keep adding to the pile, and Jordan learned how to pinch. Okay, now that you have a glimpse at the normalness of our life, I’ll show you the beauty of our late May and early June:
Going into the water with the kids is not my usual cup of tea. But man, it’s been a long winter. I helped these two crazies out to sit on a rock in the deep water!
I stole a single medium frame of honey for us. I’m hoping for more this fall. I got two pints and a little more from it!
We have just one hive this year with bees (the other died last year) but it is healthy and I added another box. No, they’re not in the typical order in this picture.
Maggie is fearless with the bees. I had to talk her out of petting them. She had her hands in the extra box with a bunch of bees, swiping up drips of spilled honey with her finger.
There’s so much honey flow going on now that a few actually drowned in honey (is that a good way to go?) that pooled under where I set a hive box with torn honeycomb. And the honey that pooled? It was almost ignored. Clearly, they have enough!
There is such a good nectar flow going on right now that the bees hardly cared that I was in their hive except that I was interrupting their work.
So much honey!!!
I did henna at a friend’s birthday party to practice. I did several of these kitties on little girls’ hands there!
Last weekend I got invited to do henna at a local farm event in August. (Northwest Organic Gardens Tomato and Garlic Festival) So I decided I should actually practice. This is too big to fit on a hand, but when I found it online, I knew I wanted to try it!
Jordan may have had a tantrum when he was asked to work, but he is really excelling in the relational/play/sweet department!
Jordan’s private occupational therapist since he was adopted is about to retire her business and work more decent hours for a change. We are going to miss our weekly visits!
Dry clothes (that took a long time to change) and dinner at Mo’s rounded out our day!
Eventually, the kids used a log as a raft. The expeditions commenced! Brian and I were thrilled at their ingenuity. They were cold. Funny: At one point, Jackson and Maggie were about to panic and wanted me to come rescue them. They thought they couldn’t reach any more or get back to shore. I mentioned how shallow the water was and they were shocked to find out that it didn’t even reach their waist and happily pushed their raft back to shore walking.
The beach was big enough that the crowd was no problem. We brought Jordan’s wheelchair so we could stop watching him off and on.
Carolyn shared her snack with her younger cousin.
Brian and the big kids built a partial bridge. Which washed away with the tide.
He is a big kid now! 8-year-old Jordan. Funny story of him for the day: He was walking down the beach along the big creek with me following way behind. He noticed how far away I was…. did a quick look… made a beeline for the creek. Luckily, I am so in tune with Jordan, that I sensed he was about to do that. I ran and jumped in front of him a few feet from the water and he collided with me. I laughed so much at the surprised and startled look on his face. (he got wet later, but it was too cold to get wet early on)
I scraped up some of the packed sand and Jordan was only too happy to throw it. He was particularly pleased if someBODY came close enough to throw it at!
We decided to go to the beach on Memorial Day! Yes, it was busy. Yes, there was traffic. No, the warm weather was not there.
My heart is full.
The Davis girls
Cold or not, the kids wanted to play!
Another day – another day at the river! The water is snow-melt and is COLD.
Brian forgot his shoes.
Garage sale pile! I am trying to get myself psyched up to have a garage sale.
Garage sale pile.
Ruby is afraid of cameras for some reason. It’s so hard to get a picture of my favorite furball!
Pollen and nectar, coming in!
I wish I could attach this bigger, because it’s fascinating to see the bees up close!
Maggie came out to take pictures with me as I sat in the sun, enjoying the sight and smell.
Anna is 10 years old!
Maggie is 7 1/2 years old!
My baby is 4 1/2 years old!
Time to play in the local river! Age difference – 2 1/2 years between tall and medium. 3 years difference between medium and small.
There’s very little to do for the adoption process now. There’s a few papers to gather and send off, but after that, it’s completely out of our hands.
We’re over the worst of the jet lag, but I’m still rather disorganized and half mast. Did I tell you that our septic is backed up? Yeah, we can’t flush the toilets or let water go down the drain. We’re almost $400 in and it’s going to be a big chunk more than that tomorrow, I expect. I sure hope it can be repaired without having to install a new septic… those cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ouch.
Jordan got a new bus driver and I am a really unhappy mother. She’s been late, lost and inspires no confidence in either her driving or child-handling skills. It hasn’t been fun having conversations with her boss trying to get a kind lady fired, but I don’t feel comfortable letting her drive my son around. (sigh) They had his old bus driver going with her today. We’ll see what they say tomorrow. These aren’t easy judgments to make.
The best part of the wait is preparing for and imagining our son’s arrival home. Where will he sleep? What will he wear? What kind of food will he need? Then there’s the medical stuff that I don’t understand so well – what doctors do I need to call now – which ones do I wait – what appointments to we hurry into and which ones do we put off? He’s not under anybody’s care here in the US, so I don’t have anybody advising me. If it were down syndrome, I’d know what to do. But arthrogryposis is a completely different animal and I’m scratching my head a lot. And his tiny size… I know that he’s not eating well, but is he as malnourished as he seems… should i be looking into the medical side of that… or is his small size due to the arthrogryposis – because it’s not unheard of for them to go together. All this grown-up thinking i’m trying to do through the jet lag!
I took all these beautiful videos of Daniel. But I’m finding it hard to watch them without feeling this strong … well, I don’t want the videos, I want the boy. That little boy belongs here on my lap. In my home. Within my sphere. Where I can do what I can do to mend the broken places in his heart and encourage the broken places in his mind and carry him to physicians who will strengthen the crooked parts of his body. I want the boy.
But I promised some friends that I would share some more and he really is a darling, enjoyable little boy. Though he doesn’t engage and communicate like the average kid yet, he clearly observes and mimics others! Here is a video of him talking on the phone!!! (“Hello” is usually “oh-ah!” in his country)
First – before he began talking on the phone:
Chatty little fella!
His hand over mine.
He likes music.
Daniel’s bedroom. He sleeps in the soft crib, because he’s tall enough to fall out of the others.
I can’t help but make comparisons between our visits with Jordan in 2011 and our
visits with Daniel now. Jordan was so cute. I’ve looked back to some pictures
from our first visits with him. He had the baby fat in his cheeks, that wide
mouth smile that I adore. Videos of his laugh elicited a collective sigh from
our whole church when we got home. There was this nagging little doubt in my
mind then, “Why doesn’t this kid play?” You know how you can play silly little
games with babies? Like give and take, patty cake, peek-a-boo. Jordan would
watch those sorts of things and laugh when you said boo. But it was an
achievement, years later, when he figured out how to play it. Still, I assumed
at the time that whatever delays Jordan had, we’d make up in good time, just by
virtue of bringing him into our family.
Those expectations were not met and I had a hard time with that. My hopes for
Jordan have had repeated adjustments (read: disappointment). I figured he’d
suffered from neglect and therefore hadn’t progressed, therefore we’d meet his
needs and he’d bounce back. Turns out, many times, I have no clue how to meet
his needs, or even what his needs are (read: guilt). I still have no idea why
Home Depot sends him into fight or flight mode. It has been a hard road forming
a relationship with someone who doesn’t talk, doesn’t respond typically to
touch, is stressed by food, and while dealing with the above emotions myself.
Jordan is my son. Not the son I imagined he would be in 2011 but the son God
gave me and I love him. I have new hopes for him and I am proud of all that he
has accomplished. We are on a journey together. A slower and more painful
journey than I imagined, and I can’t see the destination… but we are going there
Daniel is also adorable. His big brown eyes and crooked smile are real heart
breakers. When I pick him up he wraps his arm around my shoulder. A couple times
now I’ve just carried him around in a newborn cradle hold. He is an easy kid to
fall in love with. I had a lot of fear going to meet Daniel that he would be as
passive as Jordan was but Daniel has not been passive. He displays social skills
already that we still work very hard to encourage in Jordan. Taking turns,
initiating play. Daniel invents interactive games, that is a skill that was way
beyond my wildest hopes. Daniel copies sounds, words, and actions. Again, much
more than I dared hope for. I am heartened by this and grateful for it.
At the same time I am trying to take note of the red flags. When we put a bib on
Daniel to feed him he cries, throws himself backward and becomes stiff as a
board. I think there is a real chance he has trouble coordinating swallowing and
breathing and maybe an acid reflux problem. He screams if you take a toy from
him or don’t give him what he wants. He shuts down in unfamiliar places or
situations. He demonstrates almost no stranger anxiety. He may not have any idea
his sounds are actually communication. It might be simple mimicry and he might
forever struggle to make his feelings known. On the other, hand his greater level
of understanding may well lead to more complicated feelings about his adoptive
journey (read:abandonment, neglect).
I’d give 50-50 odds that we will come back in 6 months to find he has regressed
in health or development. The workers at the orphanage talk about how handsome
Daniel is and how he will be a model because he is thin. This is a four year old
wearing size 18 months clothes. Let’s be realistic people. He may well be model
material but let’s get some meat on this kid! Daniel has one leg in a cast right
now to try to correct some of his club foot. His poor little legs are quite
deformed. To see him walking someday would be a miracle. Not impossible, just a
Miracles happen and I believe God has great plans for both Jordan and Daniel.
But it’s a long and difficult journey we are on. I don’t want the rough spots to
catch me unaware. My hope is that I can spend more time celebrating the gifts we
receive through Daniel and less time dealing with unmet expectations.
I Peter 5:8-11 (The Message) Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like
nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. Youâ€™re not the
only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over
the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever.
It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in
Christâ€”eternal and glorious plans they are!â€”will have you put together and on
your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
Bwhahah. With this tape measure, I will conquer the world!
Daniel learns very quickly. His attention is not held long by something he easily masters. We brought a little stacking toy today and after just a moment, he understood it and was delighted with the different options he had. Stack together, apart, tall, short, here, there, everywhere. He giggled at his own cleverness. He will stop and be attentive for music and for walking around also. When we finally bring him home, I predict a difficulty in keeping him occupied in the hotel and for the long flight home! When he is afraid or worried, he becomes quiet and still, like a little mouse. We’ve been discussing what our parenting strategies will need to be in order to meet his heart’s needs and respond to his internal fears which he will not dismiss just because we adopt him.
And that he struggles is clear. His stick-thin legs. A staff member (who seems to treat him kindly and to care for him) says that he does not like to eat. And that he will be a model when he grows up, because he is so thin. The combination of neglect and ignorance and plain wrongness tries to make wounds in our hearts. We have a big tender spot inside our chests with many bandages right now. He is the size of a small toddler despite his four years. They say he has only recently begun interacting with the world. Even as we sit and spend time with him, no other orphan children come outside. Just some children from a community program. I know this building has a basement with the sick kids. The dying kids. If Daniel is in good condition, then that is a dark room, no matter the sunlight or well-meaning staff. Daniel does not have relationships with his staff and has a clear emotional distance from us. He delights in the world and he enjoys to be touched… these will serve him well in the future. But I don’t want any of you to believe that he is just fine here.
There are other children… in similar conditions and in worse conditions. It brings us to our knees in prayer to be unable to bring them comfort and family. Anna feels this way about all the stray dogs and cats that wander around the city. Two dogs had a territory dispute where we were resting on a bench. Anna said, “I don’t know which one I feel more sorry for!” and then, “I wish I could give them all homes and love and snuggles.”
Because she knows… everybody needs those things.
Just two more days here and then we begin the long journey home. And the aching long wait until we come back for the pick-up trip. It should be November or before. Pray for before!
Daniel was dressed very nicely for his visit and photo today!
Daniel snuggled up very close and quiet for the drive, only moving now and then to get a better look at things.
Soooooo handsome. Thankfully, the visa photo was quick, because his face began to scrunch up for a cry when I sat him on the stool for his picture.
When we got back, they brought us his morning snack – this time a bowl (sweet mashed bread, cheese, tea and sugar) and also a bottle. He actually ate some for us. Then he drank some of the bottle. It was a pretty emotional moment for Brian to offer his son something nurturing that he’s missed the first four years of.
Snuggling up on the swing.
We decided to hire a woman through a “baba” program to spend time with Daniel five days a week. We have heard mixed reports from people who have done this before us and it seems to really depend on the baba. We are praying we made the best decision.
Daniel really liked this toy!
Walking by a cathedral we wished to visit…. but we waited until too late and it was closed.
We enjoyed watching a car get towed. Happily, it wasn’t our car! This is called a “spider” in the community for picking up illegally parked cars.
We enjoyed walking through the shopping and tourist area downtown. This juggler was entertaining people and Brian and he traded juggles for a moment. We left him a tip and marveled at his skill.
The videos today are wonderful!
He learns SO FAST. He imitates what we do and what we say. He is curious and determined. He tries everything.
I love the way he was chuckling with his success:
There were many memorable moments today. But this one I stopped to film. I think Brian commented that he had never in his life had a more appreciative audience for his juggling.
We’re just a typical, atypical family in the Pacific Northwest. We homeschool, love Jesus and are learning as we go.
We have three beautiful daughters, born in 2007, 2009 and 2012 and two handsome sons (one born in 2009 who arrived home December, 2011 and one born in 2013 who should arrive home in 2017).
After learning about the need for adoptive families of children with special needs, (and here and here) we began the process to adopt our son Jordan (who has Down Syndrome). He arrived home on December 3rd, 2011!. You can see photos from our trips to Bulgaria by looking at June and Nov/Dec 2011 archives.