Wednesday, July 27, 2011

School Days Once Again!

School has already started here in Arizona! The summer went by so quickly, but it really is a good schedule most of the time! It is so hot here in the summer the children can't play outside unless they are in the pool, and even that is too hot sometimes! Because our summers are shorter, the kids get two weeks off in October, at Christmas, and in March. It is beautiful here during those months so it really is more enjoyable for the children. This year, though, our boys were not ready to go back. We spent the last weekend in Colorado for a Schumaker family reunion and they were so upset at not being able to stay and have fun with their cousins. Our extended family is quite spread out, so they miss not being with family and this time seeing their tears, made ALL of us cry!

The reunion was so much fun. I feel very blessed to have married into such an amazing family. There are a gazillion Schumakers and they all have the best time together! Mary C and Francis and all their children and grandchildren organized the event and did an amazing job! So much work went into it! Selah got to meet everyone for the first time and she did so well! She charmed everyone with her smiles and sassy, but funny, little attitude. Even a life spent living in an orphanage could not take that amazing spunk out of her spirit! Praise God! Life back at home and school, has been a little more challenging after the weekend, but I think after a few days of adjustment she will be on track again.

Monday morning we took all three of our sweet kiddos to school. Zach is in fourth grade this year and preparation was so different this year for him! It feels like he has grown up overnight. He has never worried about what he was wearing, how his hair looked, or what kind of shoes he wore. This year that all changed! I am thanking God for his age appropriate development and the independence he is developing....but, I'm not to crazy about the drama involved in it all! The child would have worn a paper bag last year and now this year he was nearly in tears Sunday night making sure he looked "cool". REALLY?! Ugh. But, the drama opened the door for a great teaching moment about life and friends and how getting approval from others will never satisfy our desire to be loved. We talked about how all friends are human and will disappoint him and hurt him, some more than others. That is why we live for Jesus....He will never waiver in His love for us. I'm tryin' to "train them up"...really, I am!

Landon entered first grade and, thank goodness he dressed in whatever I picked out! lol! His shirt had a shark on it, so all was good in his world! He thought his brother's drama was waaaay over the top! :-)
He loves his new teacher and had a great first day!

And, our sweet Selah started pre-school as well! She seemed to do well on Monday and didn't have hardly any fears. Our worry more often is that she doesn't show any separation anxiety. I will be thankful for the day she is hanging on my leg and crying that she doesn't want me to leave!  She did seem to get a little nervous and hugged me tight (which I was relieved to have happen), so I am praying that her true attachment to us is developing. I am hoping and praying that this will be a positive experience for her and that she will flourish in the classroom. I am praying the teacher is filled with compassion and love for our sweet girl and is capable of walking her through her struggles. We have been blessed with such amazing therapists so far, so I am praying for more favor in this area for Selah!

Below are a few photos from some July fun!

Happy 4th of July!

Zach found a recipe and decided he wanted to prepare this delicious dessert. It was much harder than he thought....guess who ended up preparing it? It was very yummy, though!

Her laughter is contagious!

Waiting for fireworks.

On the water slide with Zach!

One tired little boy...I've never thought to put my head IN the pillowcase to sleep!

Catching lizards...what more can I say?

Princess for a day!

Selah with her cousin Jadyn in Colorado.

Back to school!

I love the contrast of the sports backpacks and Selah's Tinkerbell!
One a random note, I really need to change my blog design since there aren't any pictures of Selah and the boys look so young, but I know little to nothing about the process. The gal that designed mine a few years ago is no longer designing. I think I am going to tackle it and see what I can come up with! In the meantime, there could be some major construction disasters! If anyone has any tips as far as great websites or places to go to learn about web design, I'd love to hear them!
Blessings and smiles,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Catching Up

Yikes! Once again, time has managed to escape me and another day passes where I say..."I will definitely post tomorrow!" Hmmm.....I'm thinking my accuracy rate in the "tomorrows" may not even be floating above 0%!

So much has been happening! I'll try to give a brief description of a few events!

The school year ended and I cannot believe the boys will be in 4th and 1st grades next year! They had a great year with wonderful teachers. I know God was watching over us when He gave them the teachers they had. Each one knew just how to teach, encourage, and love the boys during the exciting times and during the tough times. It was a year they will never forget!

Selah has been doing really well. She amazes me each day with all that she is learning. It is truly amazing to see her little heart healing and her walls coming down. I think back to the beginning when she would only allow me to hold her in a very specific way...a way that gave her a feeling of still being in control. I am someone who loves with hugs and kisses and cuddles. I am simply wired that way. Therefore, it was really difficult for me when she wouldn't allow me to cuddle her, or rub her back to comfort her. To her, that touch was scary. It meant letting down her guard and surrendering her survival instinct. Fast forward two-and-a-half months, and we see a little girl who wants me reaching back to put my hand on her leg or foot when we are in the car! She gets quite dismayed when I say I just cannot continue the contortion move for very long! And just the other night, I was lying next to her on the floor as she was playing with Zach's old train set ( :-) ) and she scooted over to me, put her little back next to my hand and signaled for me to rub her back. It was precious. So, we continue to celebrate each of these milestones and praise God for the healing work He is doing in her!Are there still really rocky times? Yes! Most definitely. But now, we are all in a better place. We have all been healing and getting our "tanks" filled back up. We know that the hurdles are there, but they will pass and we will be stronger on the other side. And most of all, God has already shown us miracles in our little girl...and we are truly claiming His Word that says He will return all that has been taken away from her, and as my bloggy friend, Shelly reminded me, "He knows the way that Selah will take, when he has tried and tested her, she will come forth as GOLD. She will shine so brightly...Jesus, before the beginning of time, knew that she would have a rough start in life, but that she would come through it as precious, shiny gold." (Job 23:10).
Shining like precious gold...and sharing lots of joy and love with Daddy!
We finally got in to see the cardiologist last Friday. He confirmed that Selah does have Marfan's Syndrome and her aorta has been affected. Right now it is enlarged by about 2.5 cm. I guess that when it reaches 4 cm, they need to operate to replace it. For now, we monitor her heart closely. In 4 months we will go back to see if there is any change. He wanted to track it a bit without medication to see what it is doing, but at that point, he will want to put her on a medication that slows the enlargement process down. Because of this, Selah will never be able to play in any competitive sports. She can play leisurely, but not to a degree that would exert her heart too much. That could cause an aortic aneurysm. I know that God had His hand in this as well, though.He has blessed with an amazing musical gift. She can hear a song and may only know a couple of words from the whole thing, but can sing it from beginning to end with all bridges and choruses included! It is precious! Her favorites are the ABC Song, Jesus Loves Me, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!  I believe this gift will help her to heal any frustration or hurt that she may experience by her limitations. The boys are so athletic and sports is their life, so I know there may come a day she resents not being able to do the things they can do. As much as I wish she could have the chance to make her own decisions about what to pursue, I am confident that God will make a way!

The big news is that we took a family vacation! You are going to think we are plum crazy when I tell you where...but we do have good reason for our madness and the trip ended up being a wonderful thing for our whole family! You see, we live in Arizona. It is unbearably HOT here in the summer. It is even too hot right now to hang out in a pool! We have the mountains to drive to in order to get out of the heat, but our beautiful mountainous region here has been under attack by horrible fires. Things are so hot and dry, fires easily start by the least little spark. So, our other driving option is California. So, off to California we went and, guessed it...Disney Land! It is only about a 6 hour drive and then we can have beach time, too! Well, we were a little leery, but Selah absolutely loved the Easter Bunny at the Mall and LOVES stuffed cuddlies (just like our boys :-) ). We had a feeling she would love the characters...and thankfully we were right! She absolutely adored the characters and the rides. The lines and waiting for her turn? Not so much! She did have several meltdowns, but she usually does throughout each day, so really it wasn't any worse other than we were in public! Here are a few of photos from Disney.

After Disney, we headed north and stayed in Ventura on the beach for a few more days. Once we got to the beach and had some time to just relax, Selah loved the sand. She did NOT like walking in it, but she loved sitting, digging, and sifting through it! It was very relaxing and therapeutic for her. The funniest part was when this enormous and shaggy dog came down to the beach with his owner and while the owner was chatting away on his telephone, his dog decided to take care of business on our masterpiece sand castle! Selah and I were standing nearby and Selah just kept saying "Uh-oh!" "Uh-oh!" "Uh-oh!" Then Landon came running over and he was rightfully annoyed with both the owner and the dog! After all, he had worked a very long time alongside his brother and father making this sand castle a masterpiece!!!!! I guess the dog thought it looked like the perfect spot....
This is just how much she did NOT like walking in the sand!

Zach is always simply amazing with his little sister.

Ahhhhh....finally getting to just sit in the sand!

One of those rougher moments...but, really, that pouty little lip almost makes us laugh!

And here is the magical smile that seems to light up the world!

So much fun in the sand.

The boys are like fish! They LOVE the water so much!

On a sad note, we just lost our beloved dog, Cisco. He was with us for almost 16 years and was such an incredible little guy! He will be deeply missed. We have some wonderful memories of our furry little friend and he brought us lots of joy and laughter throughout the years! The boys are taking it very hard right now. This is their first experience with grief. They have shed many tears and it breaks my heart to see their pain. We are praying for their comfort, and for God’s glory to shine through their pain.

I also wanted to share a link from a trauma therapist who specializes in adopted and foster children and aspects of RAD. I love what she has to say. It has helped me understand so many more of the behaviors Selah demonstrates. This therapist has a book called, “Learning the Dance of Attachment - An Adoptive Parent's Guide to Fostering Healthy Development" which I really found helpful as well. It is easy to read and very informative. It helps in recognizing the behaviors that are due to attachment or trauma issues and gives you easy games, exercises, and activities to enable you to rebuild that platform for your child.
Permanence by Holly van Gulden - This link will bring you to one short video, but from there you can find several others from Holly that I think could really be helpful. There have been so many behaviors from Selah that I never would have connected to attachment issues. It has helped me to understand and then develop a plan..rather than fumble along and lose more precious time.

I am REALLY going to do my very best to post more often so that these posts don’t have to get soooooo long! Selah is going to start a preschool program on July 25th so I will be at a point where I will have a moment to myself again! Maybe my brain will regroup and I’ll be able to put a coherent thought on paper more frequently! I have been so happy to see so many more children going home with their families. It may be a rocky road filled with bumps, curves, ups, and downs...but to earn the love and trust of a child who once believed no one could ever be trusted and to see their eyes begin to sparkle the way God designed them to, is worth every single step along that  very rocky road!

Matthew 19:26, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (NIV)

Blessings and smiles,