Friday, September 16, 2016

Nine.

I promise, I really don't intend to go so long between updates! I do have a few things to share:

1) On October 8th, we will have a team walking in the local Step Up for Down Syndrome walk to raise money for the local Down syndrome association. Our goal is to raise $1,000, please consider donating to "Octavia's Arsenal" to sponsor us! The link can be found here.

2) A few months ago, I became a rep for The Gourmet Cupboard. The reason I joined TGC (aside from the fact that I love their products!) is to help families in the process of adopting. TGC has a fundraising opportunity and I would like to extend this opportunity to as many families in the process of adopting as possible! I am also willing to do fundraisers for school clubs, churches, or anyone else in need of a fundraiser. For fundraisers, you earn $1.50 for each individual mix sold and 50% on fundraising packages. There is potential to earn a LOT of money from these fundraisers!

A little bit about TGC: The Gourmet Cupboard makes cooking simple. Their gourmet mixes are handmade using only the finest gourmet ingredients at just the right proportions. Each mix includes all the dry ingredients, all you need are the sour cream, water, cream cheese, meat, etc. All products are individually made at the time of your order and most contain no MSG or preservatives.

The product line includes soups, meals, side dishes, sweet and savory dips, teas, coffees, muffins & breads, desserts, diabetic friendly & sugar free, cookies, seasonings, salads & dressings, and SO much more!

Besides making cooking easier on you, TGC mixes make great gifts!

The fundraiser I have going on right now is for a family in the process of adopting "Laura", a little girl I had the pleasure of meeting while I was adopting Octavia. The link for their fundraiser can be found here.

3) You probably want to know how the little one is doing, right? I saved the best for last! Octavia is thriving and learning new things every day! She started Early On in July and has had a handful of visits with her therapist. She will be working with her therapist once a week now that school is in session. What is Early On? Early On serves infants and toddlers from birth to 36 months with developmental delay or conditions that could lead to such delay. It has been well established that early intervention is an effective way to prevent or reduce problems for children at a later age.

Octavia's accomplishments:
- Walking, she's walking approximately 50% of the time
- Self feeding, she can feed herself with a spoon
- First haircut
- Stacks blocks, the blocks she has are similar to these Squeeze Blocks
- Drink out of a straw, Munchkin 7oz Weighted Straw Sippy Cup is the first straw sippy she's been able to use.
- First camping trip
- Words, Octavia says at least 10 words, including bye, hi, dog, bubbles, thank you, sit, out, ball, mom, oh, and uh oh
- Gestures, she can wave, give kisses, clap, and raise her arms when you say "so big!"

Last week, Octavia had an appointment with an eye doctor, who referred us to a specialist. The first ophthalmologist she saw suspects that Octavia has blocked tear ducts and the specialist we see on next week should give us more definitive answers. I initially scheduled the eye appointment because I was concerned she was getting strabismus in one eye. However, that is not the case. Children with DS sometimes have small folds of skin at the inner corners of their eyes, called Epicanthal folds.

And now... OCTAVIA SPAM!!!!! I adore this girl so much! She brightens my day, every day and can always make me laugh!

Tay and the baby in the mirror.

Dressed up as a bag of popcorn for Trick-or-Treating at the campground. The hat lasted .001 seconds.

Nighttime at the campground.

At the Children's Museum, Octavia had a lot of fun!

Goofy girl!

Hanging out at the Shipshewana Flea Market.

Octavia and her best friend, our pup Zenobia.

Playing at Early On.

BUBBLES!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Five Months Home

I never intend on going a month (or more!) between blog posts but life has been passing by crazy fast. Octavia is 18 months old and has been home for almost 6 months! Now that the weather is warm, we have been spending more time outside. We like going to the park to play. The first few times Octavia was put in the infant swing, she didn’t last more than a minute but after going a few times with daycare and seeing another child her age love the swing, she began to like it. Now, she loves it and will throw a fit if I take her out of the swing! I recently bought a Lillebaby carrier to use when we go on walks and stuff. She loves to be in it and it’s so comfy for me! I only wish I had it when I was on my pickup trip, we might have gone on more walks since it’s so much cozier than the one I had with me then.

Octavia is as sweet as a honey bee, she loves to give me hugs and snuggle, and she thinks it’s the funniest thing ever when she can get me to laugh. She enjoys dancing to music and banging her blocks together. Oh, and she loves water! She gets so excited when I run bath water for her. She pulls herself up, walks along the couch and walks while pushing objects across the floor. Last week, Octavia had a follow-up appointment at the neurologist. Her blood work wasn’t back yet but he did check on her development. She is now 21.1 lbs. and 28.5”. In her first appointment home (on 12/22), she was 16.3 lbs. and 27.5”. Using the new Down syndrome growth charts, this puts her at the 50th percentile for weight and 18th percentile for length. At 13 months, she was in the 18th percentile for weight and the 38th percentile for length.
Standing!

She’s also cut three new teeth in the last week alone. All three of her new teeth are in the front and on top. She has eleven teeth now and she loves to use them (to eat). She doesn’t like it when I feed her anymore, she’d much rather take the food and feed herself. When she first came home, she was using bottles, even after she transitioned to solid food. She soon transitioned to the transitional sippy cups and now uses regular sippy cups full time.
Eating one of her favorite foods -- graham crackers!

Favorites
Meals: chicken and potatoes or pasta, spaghetti
Vegetables: peas
Fruit: bananas, applesauce
Snacks: Yogurt, graham crackers
Toy: VTech Connect And Sing Animal Train
Book: "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You" by Dr. Seuss

She loves to read!

For Mother’s Day, I got a pretty plant delivered to my work. For my first Mother’s Day, Octavia and I spent the day with my mom.

Mother's Day 2016: Not the best picture but she's a wiggle worm!

The whole adoption thing still seems so surreal. I feel as though Octavia has always been mine, always been a part of me, and to think she hasn’t even been legally mine for 6 months is crazy. In my heart, she’s been mine since before she was born. It was heartbreaking to receive the news about Zola last March but in all honesty, it couldn’t have worked out better. Zola has been home with her family for 8 months, is loved, and is thriving.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Three Months Home!

Time passes by so quickly. We have been home for three months now and Octavia has been adjusting well. She's 16 months now and really starting to "talk". Even though her "words" are not clearly understood, she definitely gets her point across!

In January, we saw the pediatric orthopedist about possible hip dysplasia. I'm happy to report that she doesn't have it. We'll be going back in two years for a check up.

We had her cardio appointment in early February and the cardiologist believes that her heart defect is small to moderate but since she hasn't had any issues, I just have to keep an eye on things and we'll be going back in another year.

Earlier this month, we saw the neurologist and he ordered a diagnostic test for Down syndrome. Both the doctor and I thought it would be beneficial in the future to have an official diagnosis. We'll be stopping in to the lab this week to get the test done. Her follow up isn't until April or May so we will have the official results then.

There is a family adopting from the same orphanage Octavia was in. They're a few months away from their pick up trip but are currently working on raising funds for 120 pairs of brand new shoes so the children there can each have their very own shoes. For a $20 donation, you're not only helping to provide an orphan with brand new shoes, you'll have a chance to win a brand new I-Pad Mini. You can read more at Marcy's Blog.

Today
Happy baby!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Two months!

Octavia has been out of the orphanage for almost 10 weeks now and we've been home for 7 weeks (we got home 12/18).

Our trip home was uneventful. We flew from Octavia's country to Vienna, from Vienna to Newark, NJ, and then Newark home. The entire trip took just under 23 hours and Octavia did extremely well throughout the entire thing. For the long trip from Vienna to Newark, we had the entire middle section of seats to our self, which was nice because Octavia was a lap baby and we got to spread out a little more than we would have otherwise.
The first leg of our trip home!

Part of the welcome home crew! Octavia and I were really tired by this point! Recognize the sweatshirt & t-shirt in the front row and the pink shirt on the right? I sold those!


Since we got home, Octavia got to celebrate her first real Christmas.
Christmas Day

She is pulling herself up on people and furniture and loves to stand when I'm holding her hands. Being held and holding my hands to stand up are two of her favorite activities. Until we got home, she was only drinking formula and eating baby cereal. She's now eating solids and loves it, she especially likes to self feed. Three of her favorite foods are bananas, peas, and yogurt. She also loves to drink apple juice.

Left: The first picture I ever saw, she was 4 months old.
Right: A few days ago, at 14 months.

I've been back to work for three weeks now and Octavia loves her daycare. She gets to play with other children her age and the daycare woman's two girls (5 & 3) love to dote on Octavia. We're still working on getting our morning routine down but we're almost there!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Two Weeks!

It's been close to two weeks that Octavia has been "home". My little girl ceases to amaze me. Every day, she is showing a new skill.

A few of her newest accomplishments:

- Babble: She used to just "sing" when music was on but now she is talking almost non-stop!
- Laughing: At first, she would just smile when she was tickled but now, she actually laughs. She has such a beautiful laugh.
- Hugs & Kisses: When I pick Octavia up in the morning, she hugs me and lays her head on my shoulder. She will also give those sweet baby kisses that everyone loves!

Even though I am fully funded, I still have my Amazon link. I will be using the funds to help another family adopting from Octavia's country who is currently in process to adopt a boy called Blake. You can find the link on the right-hand side of my blog. To read more about Blake's family, read their RR FSP or check out their blog. As a reminder, using the link doesn't cost you anything!

Today, our translator and driver took us on a short excursion to a few old churches. St Hripsime Church is one of the oldest surviving churches here. The church sits on the remains of a pagan structure and is also the site where St. Hripsime was martyred during the time of the conversion of this country to Christianity.

The second place we went was Etchmiadzen Cathedral, which is considered to be the oldest cathedral in the world. It is believed that St. Gregory the Illuminator had a vision of Jesus Christ descending from heaven and striking the earth with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built.

Outside St. Hripsime Church 

Outside Etchmiadzin Cathedral



Thursday, December 10, 2015

Help Lilit Have Surgery!

Lilit is a little girl waiting to be adopted in Armenia, where I am right now.
At birth, Lilit was diagnosed with kyphosis scoliosis with rotation and chest deformation. Lilit was given up by her mother and brought to one of the orphanages here 9 days after her birth. At 6, she moved to another orphanage.
Lilit is now 8 and needs spinal surgery. SOAR-Toronto Chapter (http://soar-us.org/toronto/) has set up a Go Fund Me page to support Lilit. 100% of the money raised will go directly to Lilit's medical bills and whatever it takes to get this lovely girl healthy.
Nobody deserves to be sick, and especially not a little girl who doesn’t have parents to hug her and/or be happy for her. There are no words to adequately express how much your thoughts, prayers and donations will mean to Lilit. Please help us help her.
To the best of my understanding, Lilit first needs diagnostics to see if she is a surgical candidate. The MRI and X-ray images from Armenia are of poor quality and the doctors here in the US could not make a definitive determination about treatment. The surgery which we believe will most likely be chosen for her is a spinal procedure where magnetic rods are placed into her spine. Over the next 2-3 years, these rods are moved further apart to slowly straighten her spine. This would involve seeing orthopedics 2-3 per year for several years.
The raw cost estimate we received from a children's hospital here in the US is $250,000 including diagnostics, surgery, and the follow-ups. We are hoping that professional services can be donated, so that the cost will come down significantly as reflected in the fundraiser.
If you have a few dollars to spare, please consider donating to Lilit's medical fund. Every dollar counts and this surgery will change Lilit's life. 

If you would like more information on Lilit, please check out her profile on Reece's Rainbow. http://reecesrainbow.org/80331/eden-3

Fully Funded!

I would like to thank you for your generosity over the course of this adoption. There have been some trying times but everything has worked out according to His plan.

Here is a screenshot of my FSP. It is SO nice to read that top line. Fully funded. Wow! There were times I thought I wouldn't make it.


Please keep following our story. Even though the adoption is complete, our story hasn't ended. I will be sharing our journey this trip as well as our time together once we get home. 

If you have a few extra dollars, please consider donating to another family in Michigan who are going go get their sweet daughter! They left yesterday and are still $1,836 from being fully funded! Please help in any way that you can! You can donate to their FSP here and read more about their journey here.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lost

Tonight, as I was rocking my sweet girl in my arms, I couldn't help but think about the children still waiting. ChristianReese, and Callum especially.

I have met all three. They're wonderful little boys who don't deserve a life in an orphanage (no child does). They deserve a mama who will kiss their boo-boos and a papa who will play catch with them. They deserve a chance to live outside orphanage walls. To go for long walks, to have clothes of their own, to have toys that belong to them. Yes, these boys all have special needs but that shouldn't make them less worthy of a family. Doesn't every child deserve the love of a family?

Callum (almost 6)

Callum is completely lovable and wants nothing more than hugs. He is mild mannered and tends to go off alone and play with a toy rather than join the rest of the group. He's a love bug and very strong, which is surprising given his size! He is friendly and has a beautiful smile.

Christian (6)

Christian's caregivers are very surprised that he is still waiting for a family. He's doing very well and has age appropriate self-help skills. He is verbal, can dress himself, he makes his bed, and is fully potty-trained. He's a quiet guy who plays well by himself and with the other children in his group.


Reese (8)

Reese's smile is infectious! He also has big blue eyes, so pretty! He loves to be a part of the other children's laughter and joy. Reese is verbal. He will often start prayers and has them memorized. He's bright but his current physical limitations hold him back. He would thrive in a family who could provide him with the therapies he needs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gotcha!

I woke up to this beautiful site. I hope that I can have an even better view over the next few weeks.

Mount Ararat, believed to be the location of Noah's Ark.

Today, I received the adoption decree. I am now legally Peaches' mother! Peaches is officially an orphan no more!

Peaches is now Octavia! Octavia left the orphanage for forever and she seems pretty happy about it. She is nearly 13 months old and she hasn't let her extra chromosome slow her down. She is sitting up, crawling, and loves to stand when you hold her hands. 

Outside the orphanage gates.

So happy to be home with her mama!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Greetings from Eastern Europe!

I left on Friday at 1:45 pm and arrived here Sunday at 1:20 am. There weren't any problems on any of my flights and I had layovers in Detroit (only an hour), Amsterdam, and Moscow.

Once I got to the apartment, I unpacked everything and went to bed. I slept late because jetlag hit me a lot worse this time than it did last time. Once I got up on Sunday and got going, my translator took me around and showed me where the local market was, where the money exchange was, etc. I'm in a different part of town than I was last time so it feels a bit different. After she showed me around, I ended at the market (the Vernissage) to pick up a few souvenirs. I will probably end up going back next Sunday since there isn't much else to do!

Yesterday morning, I spent some time hanging out with Peaches at the orphanage. She has her first tooth, she just recently started sitting up, she is crawling, and she loves to hold my hands to stand up. I was worried that the clothes I brought wouldn't fit her but they're just the right size for her!

In the afternoon, I had court. It started at 5:00 pm and was done by 5:18 pm. The judge said to come back on Wednesday, December 2 for the court decree. Once I get the court decree, I can get Peaches from the orphanage. What a great day that will be!!!

It's raining today so besides going to the orphanage and out to lunch, I've just hung out at the apartment.

Cannot wait for tomorrow!