Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Make A Joyful Noise

Psalm 98: 4-6
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;break forth into joyous sound and sing praises!5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,with the lyre and the sound of melody!6 With Trumpets and the sound of the hornMake a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Tonight was Angela's spring choir concert. I have to tell you, these choir concerts are bitter sweet for me. I waffle from loving all she is doing, then moments later having tears streaming down my face.

Let me explain....

When I was pregnant with Angela, like all moms I had hopes and dreams. Because of the very difficult pregnancy I had many ultrasounds and knew I was having a girl. I didn't know anything else. I am not a person who enjoys shopping much, but I had this recurring dream of shoe shopping with a long-haired little girl who looked just like me. (Funny, it was always about shoes; the most difficult piece of clothing to buy for Angela.) My point is, I had these dreams of where we would be at this time of our lives, and these choir concerts are a time when it is  evident to me haven't arrived and probably never will.. There are a lot of things in life Angela will never do that all her typical peers are doing, and they're getting awarded for doing them....at the choir concerts.

I never did a blog post about the Christmas concert and what happened to make me want to crawl under a chair in embarrasement. I'm sure most of the other 1000 parents in the audience didn't have a clue what was happening, but I did. Tonight I was prepared to avoid a repeat of the Christmas concert. I bought Angela three new pairs of shoes (two will be returned) in an attempt to find a pair that were not only cute and matched her dress, but that she could also walk in safely. I bought two dresses for her to try, hoping one would be appropriate for her. Because she is so tiny I have to buy dresses for her in the little girls department. (Stuff in the women's petites or Juniors are too broad in the shoulders/chest which cause..ummm..exposure.) I hate putting Angela in dresses. It's not socially safe for her to be in a dress. Things can happen, like when she does "the worm" on the floor.....on her back....in a dress. Little girl dresses on my 17 year old daughter.

When we arrive at school, it hits me.

The beautiful high school girls in their stylish dresses, the fancy shoes, the hair, the make up. It's not Angela. Its just not where she is right now. The other girls, they greet one another with squeals of delight. They give Angela a half-wave on their way to greet another friend with a hug and peels of laughter.

But Angela sees her true friend coming. Another student from the special ed. program. Their pleasure in seeing one another is genuine, not forced. They are real friends.

Angela is happy.

Why do I feel like I'm going to cry?

I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.

I leave Angela with the rest of the choir members and find my seat in the auditorium with one of the other parents. While we're waiting for the performances to start I look through the program and see there will be a lot of awards tonight. It's the last concert for the graduating seniors and there will be a little send off. My chest tightens at the thought of these awards being given out because I know...I know there won't be an award for Angela.

We listen to the first couple of choirs. Our school is highly competitive in the arts, music included. These are competitive choirs. They are amazing.

It's time for Angela's choir. This group of young women have more courage than any other students in that school. They LOVE to sing. They sing with everything they've got and you can pick out the voice of every single girl. Every. Single. One. This is not a competitive choir.

As the choir members move onto stage to take their places along the risers, I hear the people behind me talking. "See that tiny little girl with the white top?"

I brace myself. I swear, if there is one derogatory comment made about this choir.... God please not tonight! My friend nudges me. She heard the comment too.

I listen closer, "See her? She has Down syndrome. She's always in front and she's absolutely adorable. She LOVES to sing and has so much fun! Watch her. She's always trying to spice it up a bit."

Is that it? Is that what everyone else sees of my girl? Because in my head I think they're praying this part of the concert would hurry up and end, because it can be a bit painful to the ear. And in my head, this 'cute' stuff Angela does was 'cute' when she was 6, but is not so cute at 17! I guess its just me, because at least those around me, who don't know I'm her mother, are getting a kick out of Angela on stage.

Angela does, indeed, like to spice things up! Angela loves songs that get her moving and shaking...all over...and if they aren't singing those kinds of songs, well she doesn't really care. She'll make them that way. On this night Angela stood on the top riser, screwing up her face as she belted out HER OWN lyrics at the top of her lungs, all the while dancing away to her own rhythm. SHE was having a blast!

After all the choirs had performed the awards given out. I had to wonder...when? When will it be Angela's turn to receive an award for what she loves doing most?  Not everyone gets awards. I get that. Angela gets that. But like every other kid she HOPES that this will be her time. As her mother, I pray she gets her time. The kids who are getting awards have done great, even amazing things with their voices to earn those awards. They have dedicated countless hours to rehearsals and voice lessons. Angela spends countless hours practicing too...in our basement...with the door closed so we can't hear her.

Before I know it, it is time to recognize the graduating Seniors. There is a slide show of "then and now"  baby pictures of those graduating. In my head I envision Angela's early baby pictures - of her with tubes and wires, laying under a glowing light in the hospital NICU. Next, all 50+ students are called onto the stage, one by one, as it's announced where they will be going next year, and what their long-term goal is. "Sally Sue Smith. She will be attending Harvard Law School and hopes to practice criminal law."

There were two kids who stood out to me. One is a young man I've seen around for several years. I can't remember what college he was planning to attend in the fall, but he wants to major in Special Education. Another young lady who wants to become and Audiologist and Speech Pathologist. I cried when I heard each of them. I couldn't help but be thankful some of these kids had been touched by "our kids". I wanted to find that young man and hug him; to tell him "Thank you!". I wanted to find his mother, to hug her and say "Thank you!" for raising such a cool young man!

My mind went other directions. In two years Angela will be graduating. She will have her named called and she will walk up on that stage, accepting a red rose from her choir director. Will they have to say "Angela Spring, She plans on singing Karaoke in her basement, and perfecting the Star Spangled Banner. She would like to be a neurosurgeon." But really, where will Angela be going when she graduates? What will she be doing for a job? While Angela's future is very bright, on this particular night it stood out to me just how uncertain things are.

Being a mom to Angela isn't always easy. Some things, like this choir concert, are such "normal" life experiences that have a way of turning on me. It's these "normal" events that point out to me just how far we are from that. And yet, it isn't about me, is it? It's about this smiling, glowing, confident young lady who stands ready to take on the world. Isn't that exactly what the goal has been all along? 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

1 Month Home!

Can you believe that we've been home with Abel for a whole month? We came home on April 27th. In many ways this month has been exhausting, but I always feel this way when we come home. It takes some adjusting to add an older, traumatized and very mobile kid to the routine of the household.

The first week home, mornings were very stressful. We have a pretty set morning routine and Abel didn't know how it worked. When I was trying to get Angela eating and out the door, Abel was at the table fretting about weather or not he was going to be fed, grabbing everything within reach, etc. Then, by the time the boys got up Abel was done eating which meant he needed to be watched very closely. It was a bit chaotic and made me feel like I was always one step behind. But now, one month down the road, we have our new morning routine! Angela gets up, dressed and to the table. While she's eating Dean wakes the boys up. By the time all the boys are done using the bathroom Angela is ready to get in there and get teeth/hair/face done. (We do have another bathroom downstairs but Angela needs help with personal hygeine in the morning and it's easier to use the main floor bathroom) By the time Angela is ready to leave the boys are eating breakfast. Then its off to get their teeth/hair/faces done, Axel leaves and the little boys get dressed. Dean walks Asher to the bus and Abel *always* goes along! The whole morning process, from the time I get Angela up in the morning until Asher is ready to leave takes one hour. Once he's ready the little boys have about 1/2 hour to watch a Signing Time video. We could absolutely do the routine faster if we needed to, but right now our mornings have a nice flow and nobody is stressed out our being rushed out the door. Well, unless they are causing some kind of problem as TEENAGERS sometimes do!

When we first came home we couldn't take our eyes off Abel for even a second. He has this thing about wanting to move anything heavy just for the sake of adult reaction. I'm talking things like couches, dining room tables or heavy dressers (which happen to be bolted to the wall!) In the institution he would do this to get the caregivers attention. It worked great because they would come running and give him whatever he wanted. Yes, it gets us to come to, only to put him in the time-out spot and remove all attention. I am happy to say we don't see this behavior anymore unless he is extremely stressed, which I'll talk about in a minute.

When we came home Abel was in diapers 27/7. I really don't understand this at all. Why the caregivers in the institution would want to change diapers on a 10 year old boy is beyond me! It took one weekend and Abel was completely out of diapers with only an occasional accident. Now accidents are extremely rare and we don't have to tell him to go anymore because he tells us. He is dry at night and he has yet to wet the bed. YAY ABEL!

We have started making the rounds to all the doctors. He has seen our regular pediatrician and had 17 vials of blood drawn which required a small army to hold him down. I still need to collect stool samples and bring those in. At the time of his medical appointment in Serbia he weighed 48 lbs. Now he is 53 lb and rock solid. Seriously this kid is all muscle. He is only about 1/2 in taller than Asher but is 10 lbs heavier. I expect he's going to shoot up very quickly so, although he and Asher are wearing the same size clothes, I'm keeping all Axel's outgrown clothes handy. ;-)

Last week we started doing assessments for school. With both Axel and Asher I waited until they'd been home around 3 months before doing this. Unfortunately they had lost a lot of their Serbian by then  so we couldn't really get an accurate picture of what they knew. Also, if we didn't get it done now we'd have to wait until fall, which would mean he wouldn't start school until November or December. I decided to get Abel testing done now so he can start school in October (more on that later.) Anyway, when we arrived at the office for testing, Abel was pretty cooperative. We were working with an ST who has known our family for 10 years, working with Angela when we first moved here and Angela was on home-bound school services. She also did both Axel and Asher's assessments when they were adopted. So here comes Abel, fairly cooperative and just a tiny bit silly. We did a few things as we waited for the translator to come. I was happy to see the face of "I." come in. She translated for Asher when he had his surgery and has done some document translation for me as well. She's very nice. Anyway, she entered the room and introduced herself. Abel stared at her a minute, then his eyes glazed over. He gave his manic laugh and the craziness began!!!! He started trying to flip the table over, threw every piece of testing material, hitting, kicking, screaming. He was absolutely manic!!! All of this was done while he was laughing.

We can only guess what was going through his mind. Believe me, we have thought of every possibility. We were NOT in a school setting, so this shouldn't have triggered the whole "being in an institutional setting" thing. We were in a small room without noise or distractions. Before the translator arrived he was fine. When he heard the Serbian is when the trouble started. Dean and I decided that Abel's hearing Serbian triggered the behavior he always displayed in the institution. Think about it: Abel wasn't out in the community getting a wide variety of experiences. In Serbia he was a boy who did what he wanted, when he wanted. When he didn't want to do something he destroyed the place. That's what he was doing during the assessment. He heard Serbian and went right back to the little boy we left in Serbia. This screaming, throwing, kicking, hitting, destroying everything went on four AN HOUR before I came to my senses. I pulled out the crackers I had stashed in my purse. The interpreter told him "You do x, you get the cracker." That was all we needed to do! For the next 1/2 hour he did pretty much everything we requested of him then turned to me with his mouth open for a bite of cracker. We were able to find out that, in Serbian, he knows his colors, shapes, the letters of his Serbian name, he can short shapes by size and he can copy horizontal and vertical lines being drawn. I'm a bit nervous about him starting school in the fall, but our district is great in working with me to ease the boys into the setting slowly.

When the assessment was done Abel did NOT return back to normal. He spent the entire day in screaming fits of rage. It was a very physically and emotionally difficult day. I did decide that although we have translators arranged for a couple upcoming visits, I'm canceling the translators. I just can't do that to him, or us, again.

Sleeping is not going so great. I know he needs his tonsils and adenoids out, because they're huge. I have heard him choking awake many times! But he does other things too, more of general sleep disturbance. He rocks most of the night, either sitting up or log rolling. He also wakes up and tries to wander the house around 2:00 a.m. every night. We send him back to bed where he just starts rocking again. Sleep disturbances are very common among kids with DS. Without medication Angela stays awake for DAYS at a time, only sleeping a few minutes here and there. My guess is once  his T&A are removed we'll be doing a sleep study to find out what's up.

Abel and Asher continue to be great buddies! As I'm writing this, they're standing in front of me playing a little game of copy-cat. Abel is the leader. ;-) The giggles are a joy to hear! Oh yes, sometimes it disintegrates into wrestling. LOL

On the communication front, Abel picks up signs as fast as I can remember to show him new ones! He doesn't really like to watch Signing Time yet, but little by little he's liking it. He's signing A LOT, and if he can't think of a sign for something he just makes it up. He often requests things that are out of sight, he asks if he can put his shoes on (in hopes we'll take him somewhere if he does!). He asks to eat, and drink. He asks for more of whatever we're having.

Abel has come so far in just one month! It hasn't been easy, that's for sure. It is built into him to try to manipulate the environment in negative ways to get what he wants. We have 10 years of that to undo, and it's going to take a long time. There are many days I have to pray, asking God to show me things from Abel's perspective so I can figure out how to manage whatever the problem is. Believe me, there are many times I screw up. There are lots of tricky parenting situations every day. Then I remind myself that these aren't just "parenting situations". These are "healing and therapy" sessions that most parents have never seen, much less had to deal with themselves. Most of our support system has no idea  what we're talking about and I'm sure we come across as overly strict by not allowing certain things. Sometimes explaining the hows and whys is more exhausting than dealing with the issues themselves.



Sunday, May 26, 2013

At The Park

Although this weekend (Memorial weekend) is cold and gloomy, last weekend was beautiful! We've been scrambling to get some much-needed yard work done but took a break to visit the neighborhood park. Angela was really sick so she stayed home but the boys had a blast!

Axel is deathly afraid of heights, or climbing structures he's not familiar with. He was being very brave on this day! Last year he wouldn't climb this thing.

Darned rocks in the shoes.

Who's this cool dude hanging out on the slide?

Asher fears nothing, pretty much!

I thought he would stop and go back down when the ladder turned. But no, he kept going.

Abel was determined to get this thing figured out.

Mom! Show me how you did that again.

Somehow this just isn't working.

Swinging monkeys.

 Axel got brave and tried another one!

Abel the strong man.

I found another monkey on the dome.

He wasn't alone for long.

Abel isn't about to be left out of the fun.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Busyness

Last week Abel saw the dentist for the first time. No pictures of this visit because I was busy...you know...being a mom. The dentist confirmed what we already knew, but...you know...you have to actually be seen by the real doctor in order to make decisions. LOL Anyway, it was confirmed that he needs several teeth pulled (baby teeth that haven't fallen out on their own or that are rotten enough they need to go.) plus 10 years of plaque and tartar to scrape off. He handled the visit well, letting the dentist count all his teeth (I've never seen a kid with so many teeth!) and do a good cursory exam. The dentist did agree that having him checked for a sub-mucus cleft palate would be a good idea.

Today I had a meeting with Asher's new school! The numbers in our district have been pushed *just enough* that they were able to add another special ed classroom on our side of town. (Last year the wanted to send Asher to a building 15 miles away, which we would not agree to.) I guess the only needed one more special ed student, and...well...we have one. LOL Anyway, today we met with his new teacher, speech and occupational therapists. His current staff was in attendance to so we could go over all his stuff. In addition, Asher's PSA who is fluent in ASL will be moving with him. The cool thing is, Abel will be at this school too!  We're going to be very sad to say goodbye to Asher's staff at his current school. They really have bent over backward to work with this complicated little boy, all of us learning as we go. I just cannot say enough about them. And yet, we're very excited for the change of placement for Asher. The mainstream kindergarten was an excellent place for him this year. He was able to see how typical children play, and most importantly, that they TALK. He learned the routine, and just plain learned about being in the school setting. Unfortunately moving onto a regular ed. 1st grade classroom isn't an appropriate placement for him. He will certainly spend time in the mainstream classroom for things like music, art, etc. but all his academic time will be in the special ed. classroom. He'll also have OT four days a week, ST twice a week, DAPE and music therapy every day. He is going to LOVE school next year!

As soon as we were done with Asher's meeting, Abel's teacher came in to get the scoop on him. I'm so very excited!!! Ms. H. was Angela's teacher for elementary school and I ADORE her. We spent a few minutes talking about Abel, and then went to see her classroom. The boys are in different age groups but will be right next door to one another. I just feel this is going to be an awesome year for both of them!

Later in the day was fun for the other kids, since it was their turn at the dentist! LOL

All three of the kids were in chairs at once. Asher was in the chair in the quiet area where it's a little less scary. He wanted to hold Dean's hand the whole time, but he was great about opening his mouth!

Oh, but then she got a different tool. He was a bit nervous about that.

Angela has a horrible time at the dentist, can't you tell? (she's completely relaxed. LOL) Her biggest problem with the dentist is they have to keep telling her to stop talking!


And then there is Axel with a death grip on the chair. Seriously, he was hanging on like he might fly away if he didn't!

Who's this guy, sitting quietly on the sidelines, minding his own business? This is the BEST we have ever seen him sit! He made sure to stay a safe distance from those dentist chairs and he never moved from this spot!

Aaaand back to Asher in the quiet chair. Notice Dad is holding his hands now. ;-)

Axel does have one cavity, (he'll be having it filled under general anesthesia along with a couple other minor things) and all three kids have plaque problems in the same area, so we are going to come up with a new brushing routine. Hopefully when we go back in Feb. there will be improvement in this area.

Tomorrow's schedule says I'm busy all day. Abel has an assessment in the morning, and Axel and Asher each have two hours of therapy in the afternoon, and then there is track practice after dinner! Busy...I like busy!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Creative Chaos Awards

Last week was the annual "Creative Chaos Awards" for Angela's broadcasting class at school.
The students in this class spend the year producing several videos, doing research, and learning about the production process. It is Angela's favorite class, and the highlight of the year for all the students is
this award ceremony.

The day is spent with their school "buddies" doing their hair and make up, nails, etc. I wasn't there for that part so I didn't get pictures. :-(

Then they are picked up by a limo and driven to the ceremony.

Here they come! Here they come!





STAR SIGHTING!!! Here's our star, emerging from the limo!!!



This is her good friend C. They have been together in school for the last 5 years. He has been her protector much of that time, and stepping in to help her with things like zipping a coat, or getting her backpack together. He has been a great friend. And, 2 years ago he was the same height as Angela. 


Now a little back story: 

Back in February we had Angela's IEP meeting. We talked a lot about her broadcasting class, since it's her favorite. Her speech teacher runs the broadcasting class and uses it to work on speech goals. (smart guy!) At her IEP meeting he said, "She *really* liked the "All About Me" production work. When we were working on her script she went into great detail. You and Dean give her so many opportunities that many kids who have disabilities never have a chance to experience. Trips, sports, hunting, fishing..."

I interrupted. "Umm excuse me? Hunting?"

"Oh yeah! She told us all about her deer hunting trip, being up in the deer stand, gutting the deer. All that stuff."

It took me a moment to pull my chin off the floor, and then I started laughing. 

"Angela has never been hunting in her life."

Wow, did she have THEM fooled!!! She had so many details, surely this was a real experience! Oh, Angela can tell a story alright! And if you don't know her, or us, or the context, she will totally have you believing her! She is forever telling me about various people and situations and I have to ask, "Is this a person on TV or at school?" But I have to be careful, because it could be a person she saw on TV at school. LOL

So now we're at the award ceremony. There was a wide variety of awards given. Guess who was up for Best "All About Me" video?

Here's her All About Me video. 







The last award given was the Cameron Hooey award. Cameron was one of Angela's classmates.

On April 3rd, Cameron Hooey passed away suddenly. He was 18 years old. The staff at school put together a beautiful montage full of photos and videos of Cameron. Since his funeral was the day before we left for Serbia we weren't able to attend, so we were really glad to be part of this. The Cameron Hooey award will be an award given every year to one of the broadcasting students. His dad accepted the award for him this year, and it was a very emotional end to a great ceremony.


There was some time on the red carpet.





(Dean was hanging onto Abel because people were walking by with food!)

Congratulations to my drama queen and a job well done!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

AAAA's

Some people are confused about all the A's in our house, and who is who. Let me go back and tell you a little about each one. It may help, or possibly confuse you more! HA!

Angela - age 16
Named for the angels of faith who kept her alive during a very difficult pregnancy. Angela, turning 17 next month, is queen of all. She is a partying kind of girl and there is always excitement when she's around! She is her own best cheerleader and is usually whooping and hollering with excitement over something. Angela is NOT a girly-girl! She has never played with dolls. Angela has no fear and will often jump into a new situation head first. She is a story teller (and there is no way to know if what she's telling you is fiction or fantasy because she is THAT good!) and a drama queen. One of her favorite things is attending summer street dances where she can stand RIGHT in front of the speakers and "shake my booty". Angela has a few medical issues, the most complicated being Cricopharyngeal Achalasia, Anhidrosis, Reactive Airway Disease and a stroke disorder that is accompanied by TIA's. She also has a hearing loss and wears hearing aids in both ears.

Axel - age 12
Named for my grandfather, Axel Lundgren. Axel will be 13 before we know it! Axel was adopted from Serbia in December 2010 and has been with us for 2 1/2 years. When he came he was wearing a size 5 and now he is as tall as Angela! Axel is the "strong and silent" type. He is very funny and very affectionate. He loves to brush my hair,  or anyone's hair. He is gentle and kind. He is a bit timid, often needing a lot of encouragement to try new things! Axel had AAI and subsequent spinal fusion 2 years ago on May 16th 2011. He was in a halo for three months, then three months in a neck brace. He has no other health problems.

Abel - age 10
The newest member of our family. Named for Adam and Eve's "good" son, Abel just turned 10 years old last month while were there to adopt him from Serbia. He has been with us 3 1/2 weeks. Abel is a very busy young man! He is super smart and quick to figure out how things work. (Dean and I can often be found getting Abel busy doing something out of sight so we can lock a door or put new batteries in something!) Abel loves to climb, and run, and just be ALL BOY! When we take walks he is usually kicking stones along the way. As far as we know, Abel doesn't have any serious current medical issues. I say "current" because we know he had an ASD at one time, as well as something with his mitral valve. He does have rumination syndrome that seems to be diminishing a bit. We start all his appointments this week to get all systems checked out.

Asher - age 8

Asher, from Genesis 30:13, was adopted from Serbia in December 2011. He has been with us over a year and a half and has changed SO MUCH! Asher is a total clown, with a sense of humor that never stops. He loves to climb up, in and under everything that is possible. He is constantly hopping, working to perfect the skill now that he can get both feet off the ground! Asher has AAI but so far does not need surgery. We are supposed to have a check up in June but since I haven't gotten it scheduled yet (I'm waiting to get Abel's X-rays done) I don't think it will happen until August. He does not have any other medical problems. 

Communicating

I do believe Asher and Abel just had their first conversation!

The setting: boys are getting dressed. Asher has has just stood up after putting on his pants. Abel is still sitting on the floor just hanging out. Keep in mind this conversation took place in American Sign Language without an intervention from me.

Asher (tapping Abel gently on the shoulder.): "Stand up. Music."
Abel- responded to Asher and stood up.
Asher - gives Abel a hug
Abel - pushing Asher away - "brush teeth" (points toward bathroom.)
Asher - laughs, runs toward the bathroom.

I'm thrilled with how these boys get along, but this business of them talking to one another is something I didn't anticipate at this point!! It is SO FUN to watch!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ethics in Adoption

Today Jen Hatmaker has Pt 2 of a series on ethics in adoption. She makes many valid points, some of which I would like to highlight here because they are *all* issues I ran into during my first adoption from Serbia. (which are no longer an issue!!!) Please  take a trip over to Jen's blog and have yourself a read.

 Can we see a copy of a recent audited financial statement? Annual report? 

When you ask questions, do you feel shut down, disrespected, bullied, or discouraged? I asked my agency hard questions and got pages and pages of immediate, thorough responses. If you are discouraged from talking to other families, researching, asking difficult questions, or investigating, RUN.

Are other adoptive families with concerns are painted as lunatics or troublemakers?

Does correspondence lean too heavily on emotional propaganda and "rescue" rhetoric, as opposed to professionalism and an obvious commitment to best practices?

An agency that claims to have special connections or processes in country.

If you hear the word “expedited,” run for the hills. That is not a thing. That is corruption.

Payments without receipts (common in Eastern European adoptions).

Friday, May 17, 2013

Growth

Last year Asher was new to us. He spent the last couple of months of school in a kindergarten classroom. He was SO TINY!!! This year he went back kindergarten with the same teacher and additional supports in place.

Last year for Mother's Day the kids gave us moms a picture. Since this is Asher's second time around, I was privileged enough to get a second picture too!

Look at the difference from 2012 to 2013! 
Last year it was still really hard for Asher to give us eye contact. 
He didn't understand English yet either, so taking pictures was always
a bit confusing for him. But this year? He's got it down!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Special Olympics Area Track Meet

Last week was our area track meet for Special Olympics. Angela and Axel were really excited, and Asher got to compete for the first time!

There were a few problems with the meet this year. I don't know if there was a different group running it, but the meet started late, nobody was standing at the finish, nor was it marked so athletes didn't know where the line was.  Because of this, some athlete times were not recorded and others didn't get their awards.

Still the kids had a great time! I'm really thankful that the night before Tyler came into town (he lives about an hour away and doesn't have a car.) so he joined us for the day. In hindsight I don't know how we would have managed the day without his help! Abel still has a hard time with large crowds and there was a lot of running around to be done getting kids to various events!

It was one of the coldest days in May in Minnesota's history. We arrived dressed for WINTER, wearing winter coats, gloves, hats, etc. Later in the day it sleeted hailed. Eventually the sun came out but by then it was time to go home!

We stripped the kids of their winter coats so they could run. 

Watch little Ashie "run" the 50 meter!!! Oh he was so cute!

Axel and Asher getting their awards. This year Axel wasn't happy standing on top of the podium.


Way down there, in the 1st place spot, is Angela. We could hear her whooping and hollering in the stands. LOL

As she does every year, Angela did the long jump. This is the first year she seemed to understand the purpose. Some years she has only jumped 5 inches! This year were her best jumps ever! 



Abel had fun bonding with big brother Tyler. He had so much fun that Tyler was struggling to get Abel down, so two seconds after taking this picture I went to help. Well, Abel was over stimulated by that point, and when I went behind him to lift him down, he threw his body back, catching me in the nose with his head. The impact caused me to see stars and dropped me right to the ground. My four front crowns felt loose (though now they're fine so I think it was just the impact) and the point where my nasal septum joins my upper lip/jaw was broken! Inside my mouth my palate is black and blue and the upper part of my mouth is as well. 

Axel also did the softball throw and Asher did the tennis ball. They both threw really well (Axel's throwing "well" is about 6 meters) and we'll find out their results next week.

In the end, Axel came home with a 1st and 2nd, Asher came home with 4th, Angela brought in a 1st and 7th. We're very proud of our kids! The good outweighs the bad, ALWAYS!!! Thank you God for giving me this day to enjoy five of my kids at once, for brining three boys from the other side of the world, for giving me one amazing daughter to keep me company in the mist of all the maleness, and a partner to share it all with!