Tell me what it is you want to do with your one wild and precious life? -mary oliver

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Sarah

Sarah bloomed like we knew she would in her new place, but melted down when she wasn't able to get on the bus with her friends.  Next week, sweetie!

An AHA moment came this afternoon when I picked her up.  Another couple was touring her daycare, as I was leaving.  I had only strapped her in her carseat, when they came over to my car.

"I know this is awkward, but we're interviewing daycares and we have a little girl with Down syndrome.  What do you think about this one?"

And so Sarah's story was shared and I could only shout praises for the accommodations, the flexibility, and their love for Sarah.

I said, "She is loved and that is all a Mama wants for her child."

We talked about IEP's, and the school district preschool.  They are one year behind us, and were surprised to learn Sarah had only been in the country since Memorial Day.  I'm learning quickly, they said.  One day at a time, that's all.  

Paving the way for another child with something extra, my Sarah.  Oh, she is changing lives, making her way in this wonderful world.
Oh, the blessings she is sharing.  Her daycare teachers told me one of her friends was playing by himself when she went over, took his hand, and they played together.  Another time, she led another friend to the group area.  The adults' hearts melted and the kids are seeing her as one of their own.

My Sarah, making her mark in this world.
What a wonderful front-row seat in this wild, precious life I've been given.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This I See

When I was four, my mother took me to the doctor for an eye exam.  Afterwards, the doctor informed her that I was severely near-sighted and would need glasses.  My mother cried the entire ride home.  She had worn glasses most of her life and didn't want that stigma on her four year old child.
 In her words, "Devastated."

This was circa 1975 and the technology was not as advanced, so my lenses looked like coke bottles, and continued until high school when I was given contacts.  I don't remember that early glasses time, but the way I looked at the world changed.  I could see.  The colors, details, and shapes. 

 My father's time to choke up came later when I said, "Dad, did you know the grass is green and so are trees?"  It gripped him because he didn't know I couldn't see.
Fast forward many years.  A few weeks ago, I took Sarah for her eye exam.  My utopia was in full bloom with my rose-colored spectacles because she had sailed through her other medical workups with only some ear issues.  Another appointment and then we'll be finished with her post-adoption workup. 

 So when the doctor informed me that Sarah was very far-sighted and her eyes were working very hard to focus, my heart plummeted.  I was thrown for a loop, socked in the stomach.  Similar to my mother's reaction.   I didn't cry, but was silent the entire way home.  It's not the wearing of glasses, but the fact that I didn't know she was having trouble seeing.  I didn't know she was struggling.  I didn't know, and feel I've failed her.  (Irrational, I know.  But, I'm a mom.)
Andy wasn't at all surprised.  "Shelly, I see glasses on kids with Ds all the time.  I was expecting a prescription for glasses for her and our other kids soon enough."  Again, I live in my "glass is half-full, utopia."
But, now she can see and they add to her spunky personality.  And her lenses are thinner than mine ever were.  The miracles of new technology.  Her flat, button-shaped nose isn't enough to hold them up, so it'll be a challenge to keep them on.  Any suggestions?

We're working a few hours at a time, and soon she'll be wearing the finger-smudged specs full-time.
 I wonder what she would have said (if she had her words) the first time she put them on.  What does she see differently?
Andy went to her IEP meeting yesterday, and there was one transportation issue that was our only concern.  Before the meeting, we were notified that Sarah could attend the school Addy and Austin attend or another school in the same district.  Our hearts and prayers were praying for the first option all week long.

When I walked into the door after school, Andy said, "You are not going to like what I'm going to tell you."  Then, I knew.  She would be attending the other school.  He shared with me the entire process, how everyone at the table wanted her to attend her home school, but the transportation routes are complicated and we need her to be picked up at her daycare.  So, the other option it is. 

I wallowed for an evening.  Wondering, why?  This school is our family.  We skyped into classrooms while in Ukraine.  They followed our process.  Staff and teachers alike knew of our Sarah.  When she walked through their doors after she was home, there were tears.  Tears to see the miracle she is.  She was home.  Even the kids' classmates know of Sarah, and give her shout-outs in the hallways.  Our home and family, and we wanted Sarah to be a part of that preschool.

 But, today I know she is to shine her light in a new place.  Her daycare has seen what a miracle she is and what she can do.  Every day, she receives shout-outs as she walks the halls to her room.  She is loved.

And she will be loved in her new school.  Tomorrow, she begins the next chapter in her story.

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One Year Ago, Today

One year ago today (August 24th), our world changed.  One year ago, on this very day, our family jumped off a cliff without looking down, a leap of faith.  One year ago, this picture rocked our world, and we could not forget what we saw, what we knew.
 A spark was lit to mark our way that would carry us through the next nine months of paperwork chasing, waiting, and unknowns.  Over the next six months, we received another picture of Sarah, and a video.

On this very day...

Sarah did not know she had a family coming for her, she followed her daily routine.  Awake at  7am, breakfast at 8, lunch at 12, nap until 3, snack at 4, supper at 7, and bed at 9.  Day in, day out, she followed this pattern.

Until, April 13, 2011.  She walked into her teacher's room, amidst adults she did not recognize and had freedom to play with all the toys for a brief ten minutes, while a couple marveled at the beautiful sight their eyes beheld. 

On this very day, her world was shaken to the core.  She now had a Mama and Papa who came every day for seven weeks to visit her.  She became a rock star in her orphanage, with daily visitors.

That on May 26, 2011, her Papa  walked her out of the orphanage gates for the last time to the other side.

Where her family waited with open arms to love her.

The change a few short months with us is remarkable.  She looks so very different, safe, secure, and loved.

One year ago today, our world changed and we cannot imagine life without Sarah.  Look at her.  She is changing lives, changing perceptions, and changing the world for better.

One year ago, on this very day...

Our  family began the journey to give a little girl a new life and love she never knew.
 We are learning as we go.  Taking one day at a time.  As her mama, I run over in my mind, "Should I have done more reading, working with letters and numbers?"

  Then, I step back and realize.  Three months and look at her.  She's accomplished so much, experienced many life-changing and new adventures, and she's made friends.  She'll get there, but we'll take it one day at a time.  Knowing every day, every moment is a miracle.

For now, we celebrate on this very day, Sarah found a family.   
And her family FOUND her.  Her family FOUND her.

Everyday is a miracle.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Remembering the Good

 Sometimes, I need only to stand wherever I am, to be blessed.  mary oliver

This morning, I began my first official day of school.  It's convocation, where the entire district meets for one giant pep rally, and to see friends from other school buildings.  My friends wanted to hear about Sarah and her celebrations, when someone said,"Your blog is always so happy. You're going to the park, playing with kids, having a good time.  Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I read your blog."  Yes, I do celebrate the good things.  I focus on the positive and write about what I want to remember.  Our family has its moments.  The house can be trashed, appointments and errands run here and there, Sarah throws tantrums, and the kids are fighting.
  But when I think about the day, I remember the good.  I am blessed.

Sarah's new friends rallied around her the next day we arrived at school.  As she was searching for her first activity of choice, one spunky blondie said, "She doesn't have her words yet," and without a moment's hesitation Miss Emily said, "Her words aren't here yet, but they're on their way soon." 

Think about that.  It's a way for 3 or 4 year olds to understand individual differences.  
"They're not here yet, but they're on their way soon."

Then, that afternoon, Sarah walked into her home, waving her arms and said, "Hi." Unscripted, unprompted, spontaneous because those are the words one says when you greet someone.  She's learning.  Everyday, she's learning something new.  Her words are on their way soon.

We had her home visit from the school psychologist and the play-based assessment, but our IEP meeting won't be until the end of the month.  All the therapists, intervention specialists, and supervisors were amazed at what Sarah can do in the 2 1/2 months she's been in the U.S.  When I shared she was the only child with Down syndrome in her groupa, one therapist said,"You make a good argument for full inclusion."  My Sarah, already changing perceptions.
 As a mama, I'm on my own learning curve about her needs, instruction, and IEP's.  A different viewpoint, for sure.
The early awakening is making for an easy bedtime transition.  At the beginning of her new life in our home, Sarah needed us to lay down beside her bed until she fell asleep, otherwise she would not stay in her bed. (We tried everything!)  Soon, it was only 10-15 minutes, and now she's asleep within 5 minutes of us standing outside her door.  My little girl has found her home, her place to feel safe, her family.
 Austin chooses to sleep in a sleeping bag so that he doesn't need to make his bed in the morning.  He is the first one to fall asleep.
Addy, my tween, will fight sleep to the bitter end.  After an hour of laying in bed, she was still awake, although not fond of the flash.
We're adjusting to the new schedule, and next week, the big kids will begin.  And so the cycle continues.  Have a wonderful weekend, and remember to celebrate the many blessings you've been given.  Celebrate the moments with your family, and live life to the fullest.
  Sometimes, I need only to stand wherever I am, to be blessed.  mary oliver

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Day of School

The sun's rays were shining through our windows and casting a sunbeam halo over Sarah, as she  slammed the bedroom doors upstairs announcing to the world she's awake.  She knew something special was in store for her, but didn't know what it was.  Today, she began her first day at one of the schools she'll attend this year.
Dressed in purple with flipflops on her shirt ( a salute to the summer days), she walked confidently, like she owned the place, down the hall, and was welcomed with love from her new friends and her teacher, Miss Emily.
 She walked down the vibrant halls, decorated with artwork, smiles, and love.  A contrast to the dark, dreary corridor that  she walked the first three years of her life.
The girls were celebrating their matching skirts, and showing off their fancy duds, excited to meet their new friend.  Sarah walked around the room, exploring the small tables and chairs, and couches, and her new friends grabbed some books to read with her.

We are filled with gratitude that she has the same teacher Austin had a few years ago when he attended the school.  Miss Emily and I hugged like old friends, welcoming the new daily routine we'll share by greeting each new day with smiles and joy.   Love spilled out from both of us with the endless possibilities Sarah will have.
I gave my mom schpeal.  She is working on going to the potty, and tends to initiate it when other friends go.  She may eat some crayons, and other non-edible items, but I don't need a call every time she does that.  LOL.  She knows a few signs, and communicates with gestures and facial expressions.  Everything is new, every experience, manipulatives, everything.  She'll jump in with reckless abandonment.

Then, she asked the question all Mamas and Papas want to hear.  "What are your expectations from me?  What do you want from me to help Sarah?" 

"All I want is for her to be loved.  She'll make her way."  At that moment, both our eyes turned misty. 
Miss Emily said,  "That will most definitely be a given."  My little butterfly bloomed today, and will  be blossoming every day.

During our conversation,  I learned another little girl will be in Sarah's classroom.  Another little girl, with something extra in her makeup.  I can hardly wait to meet her parents.  Another friend.

 "All I want is for her to be loved." 

After I kissed her goodbye, she continued in exploration as if she has always been a part of the group, her friends, her place without another glimpse of her mama walking away.

The note on her daily report when I picked her up.  "Sarah had a GREAT day!  She made many new friends, and went to the bathroom on her own!  Sarah was very playful and warmed up to our classroom and friends so easily!  Yay!!"

I guess you take Mama out of the mix, and she'll do everything in her own time.

So, Miss Sarah has found a brand new place to grow, to learn, to love, and to celebrate.
She came home sat on the couch to read:)

What a beautiful day.  What a wild, precious life I'm living. 

Friday, August 12, 2011


Today was my last Friday of summer.  Wishing I could sleep in, but couldn't.    I was awake at 7am, without a wakeup call from my little sprite crawling into bed, followed by my middle child.

I hopped out of bed, followed by a jolt from the java that gets the juices pumping.  Andy surprised me with this fabulous new mug.  He had a coupon! 
My windows are open, sunbeams bursting through the blinds, and I'm reveling in these last few moments, sucking the marrow out of life.  (Thoreau quote, I don't need to trampse in the woods like my husband:)  I have my own ways of living in the moment.

The sisters putting a puzzle together after breakfast.
Janus, the Greek god of beginnings and transitions, looking at the past and towards the future.  I'm torn between my two sides.  The one side that is filled with anticipation of the possibilities the new school year brings for my children and as a teacher...the future.  But the other is wishing the sands of time would pause to savor the last few moments of this first magical summer with Sarah.  The past and present.  So many little gifts and blessings to be celebrate.
Her smile says it all, doesn't it? 

A Cinderella story, like no other.  So many possibilities are waiting for her this year.  Possibilities a few months ago weren't even an option, but one look at her and she's our Cinderella Miracle. Sometimes I watch her and think, "What will her year look like?  What will she accomplish?"  I know she will be loved in both schools she will attend.  She is constantly in motion, waiting for the next adventure, something new to experience, and never is one to sit and watch time fly by.  She sucks the marrow out of every moment.  She begins her daycare/preschool on Tuesday.  She is ready, a sponge waiting to soak up and learn. 

Addy and Austin are excited for their new year to begin, to see their friends daily, and to see their little sister at school.  A few big kids adventures to complete before I go back to work.

During Sarah's nap, Addy made a chain of Flexeez. 
 Creative, inventive fun without the need for parent set-up.

 Of course, we had to measure the length by standard and non-standard units of measurement.  Have to get some math in before school.
The blue heron came back for a visit and a snack.

I noticed the reflection in the water, after I took the picture.  I love these cool, sky-blue, billowing cotton cloud days we've been having.

Enjoying these last few days of summer.  Sucking the marrow out of life, and embracing our journey.

We've a low key weekend, our first family portrait and eating with friends.

Happy Friday!