Showing posts from 2011

Let's Talk About Tian

Most of my posts about language development have centered on Travis, who is deaf.  His language progress has intrigued me because 1: he's my first deaf child 2: he came to us having been exposed to no formal language. Tian, however, has made amazing language strides in his own right!  When we first read his file, we assumed he was at least hard-of-hearing, if not deaf.  As we read more about microtia and atresia and got more information on Tian, we quickly realized we needed to keep an open mind because he most probably could hear.  Now that he's been home with us almost 6 months, we can tell that he not only can hear, but seems to have keen hearing in many circumstances.  Just this morning, he heard the faint sound of a faraway helicopter outside, perked up and signed, "helicopter!"  Other times, it seems he doesn't hear some things, but that may just be his age. Obviously, he doesn't have complete hearing in his right ear.  That's evidenced in the fa

Balancing the Bios

Although they make rare appearances here, we DO have three older kids.  However you want to say it: birth kids, original 3, biological children, fruit of our loins, made in America.  Some of those are politically incorrect and one is just gross, but they are all terms that could be/have been used to describe the oldest three Brownies. Could you just die?  December 2006 Five years later, they would NEVER agree to do this pose! They love their brother, but would no longer be willing to smooch him on the cheek and have it saved as a framable photo forever.  Ah, the sweet, younger years. The three oldest kids have had quite a 2011!  They moved from a kids' dream house and neighborhood into an apartment half the size of the house. They went from having their own room to sharing a room.  They left the street that held some of their dearest friends.  They happily, and without a second thought, gave up a spring cruise on the Disney Dream, were content with a very humble holidays,  a

Keeping the Boys' Pasts

One of the many things I took away from the various adoption blogs I read and on Beth O'Malley's newsletters about creating lifebooks, was this: Don't forget that your adopted child had a life before they came into your family. It seems many adoptive parents have made the mistake of telling the child's life story beginning at "gotcha" day or the day the parents first saw their file. This came to mind this Christmas as we were decorating the tree.  Each of my birth kids were given an ornament to commemorate their first, second and third Christmases.   I considered how to commemorate the boys' first Christmases.  Without previous consideration, I may have called this year their "first Christmas," but it wasn't!  Before we met them, Travis lived through 3 Christmases and Tian, 2.  So I began a search for ornaments for the boys.  My first thought was to search eBay for year-appropriate ornaments similar to their older siblings'.  But

Dinnertime Chatting

Last night, as we were finishing up dinner, I noticed Ken and Travis visiting about some of the China photos they were viewing. This map, along with another map showing us flying east to China, was one of the photos they were looking at.  I started recording the video when Ken was explaining who flew TO China, then who all flew back to the USA. In the first segment of the video, Travis is mimicking everything Ken signs which, in this case, is each of our names.  Hearing kids do this same type of mimicking when they learn to converse. (At this point, Travis knows all of our names and can identify each of us by name.  He can also identify a number of other people by name or title.) After scrolling through a few more photos, then returning to the map again, Travis points at the map and happily states, "Travis!" Travis was on this flight!  Ken corrects him.  I love the look on his face.  You can tell he totally thought he was stating a fact.  So he tentatively asks, "T

Making Everything Visual

A while back, I blogged  about the differences in rearing a Deaf child compared to a hearing child.  Something else came to mind this week as we were playing and being silly with the boys. In the past, when my kids were toddlers and were upset about something, I could often soothe them by singing a song with their name in it.  Other times, when we were dancing or being silly, I would have them follow me while I marched and chanted their name.  They would always look a little stunned, then grin from ear-to-ear and even get a little shy at the sound of their name expressed in such a fun way. Not long after getting back to the states with the boys, we were marching around the couch, playing follow-the-leader.  The kids and I started chanting Tian's name over and over again while clapping in unison and he loved it!  He reacted just like my older kids had when they were little.  I thought about Travis and wondered for a moment how I could duplicate this event so he could enjoy it, t

Family Photos

We had a great time getting our family photos done a few weeks ago. Check out Veronica Skeldon Photography if you're in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This was our first time to do a "real life" shoot instead of sitting in a studio. I really liked the feel that came from these photos.  I'm having a tough time picking favorites, though!  This shoot reminded me of the one we did a year ago with the picture frame.  I remember dreaming about what it might be like to have the boys with us.  It's still surreal at times that we DO have them.  When I'm putting them to bed at night and gaze on their sweet, sleeping faces, I have to pinch myself.

Language Milestones

Tonight at dinner, we caught a video of Travis (age 3 1/2 in years, but only 4 1/2 months in language), "babbling." It reminds me of this viral video of a hearing girl babbling.  Babbling is normally something kids do beginning at a very young age, then as they get closer to one year, their babbling begins to sound more like words, even though they are still unintelligible.  Just like the hearing parents respond to this girl by talking to her normally, as if they know what she's saying, we respond to Travis as if we are comprehending every word he's signing. What's interesting about Travis, being 3 years old, but only 4 months old in language development.  He matches many of his 3-year milestones , but is also behind some of them.  All the while, he's hitting milestones for 12-24 months. His most recent advances in communication: He clearly and consistently tell us "yes" when he wants something and "no" when he doesn't.  For


In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought this would be an appropriate time to list just a few of the things I'm thankful for, specifically over the past year.  Let me be clear.  I'm not just generally thankful, like, "Thanks, Universe, for randomly happening so that the events of my life might be what they are at this moment."  I'm thankful specifically to the God of the Universe for the people, circumstances, gifts, location on the planet, material items; the list could go on and on.  In fact, here it is: My husband, who has been my partner in life, worthy leader, loved daddy of my kids, and best friend for the past 15 years and will be from now through eternity. Hannah, our firstborn who is sensitive, helpful, and soft-hearted. Mackenzie, our little pixie girl, who is delightful, happy, and obedient. TJ, now our oldest son, who is ALL boy, but still loves his momma and isn't afraid to show it. Travis, who we first saw in picture one year ago thi

First Dentist Visit

The boys did fabulously today at the dentist. I'll let the photos tell the story. The boys have come here twice before for siblings' appointments. The train is always a hit! Already opening wide! See your clean, shiny teeth? Tian brushes the doggie's (or is it a kangaroo?) teeth! (This would have terrified Travis!) Cool in his shades. She said, "I wish they were all this good!"

Growing By Leaps and Bounds

Language, I mean.  Their language astounds us every day. I'm posting these videos to show parents (and plead with those parents) who have deaf kids that it's never too early nor too late to start signing with your kids!!  The sooner, the better, but if you're a parent who, for whatever reason, chose not to sign with your kids, it's not too late to start.  You may be scared when you hear that there is an optimal "language window" from birth to 4 or 5.  You may feel nervous that you've let that window pass while chasing an "oral dream."  Don't be nervous!  Just start learning.  Start signing!  Start giving your child access to language.  They can certainly work on speech and hearing as they grow, but don't deny them language NOW!  :) Here is Travis.  At three years old, he had NO language.  After four months with us, he's "re-reading" the book I just read to him.  Sorry about the poor video quality.  I was filming this at

Life With a Deaf Child

After parenting three biological children for the past almost 12 years and now parenting two adopted toddlers for 4 months (seems like so much longer than that), I've begun to make some observations in comparing the two. More than the "adopted" difference, I see a difference in how we parent Travis since he's completely deaf.  Here are a few things that I've noted as different from how I parented my first three and even how I parent Tian. Crying for seemingly no reason. In the beginning, Tian did this now and then, mostly in the middle of his nap or at bed time.  Those episodes quickly stopped, though.  Now he cries when most kids cry: when he's hurt or when he's not getting his way. Travis will still cry sometimes when we have no clue what he wants.  He will be pointing and crying, but we can't figure out what it is he wants.  He's perfectly able to tell us he wants water or milk. He can tell us "No, I don't want that" when we

Walking In the Light

Over the past several months, even before we left for China, I've been feeling like I'm wandering without direction.  For almost an entire year leading up to the adoption, our lives were consumed with paperwork, homestudy, grant applications, budgeting, selling a house, moving, unpacking, more paperwork, and waiting.  A lot of our schoolwork and anything resembling a "normal" schedule went out the window during those months. Once we had settled into our new place, we also reached the end of our paper chase and began the couple of months of just waiting.  During that time, I purposed to get a lot accomplished, but didn't.  I think that waiting time began my season of wandering.  (Yes, I mean wandering and not wondering, although a lot of that was going on, too.) Almost immediately after we started the adoption process, I started dumping outside responsibilities.  At the time I was serving on the board of our amazing homeschool co-op, facilitating our monthly home

Bigotry and Bullying

A couple of months ago, I blogged about the negative comments my kids were hearing regarding our choice to homeschool.  In addition to the homeschool comments, my kids have been told by other kids in our neighborhood that they "don't matter," they are "idiots" "fa**ots""gay."  They have a stupid family.   They've been introduced to the "n" word for the first time ever and have gotten an earful of other colorful expletives.  We can deal with so-called "bad" words, but the name-calling and cruel terms are the ones that get to me. The kids had an interesting way they learned about the "n" word.  They were playing with two of their friends who are Black.  An older Black boy casually called another Black boy this name.  My girls wouldn't have even noticed, but their girl friends gasped and covered their mouths.  My girls asked them what that meant and the girls said, "You need to ask your mom, but it&#

"Like They've Always Been With Us"

Nearing our four-month anniversary with the boys, Ken and I often find ourselves saying things like this to each other: "I can't imagine not having them." "What if we hadn't listened to God's call to us to adopt these two?" "I'm SO GLAD we adopted both boys at once." "I have no regrets." "I LOVE these boys!" "I feel like they've always been with us." These are good feelings to have.  We're very blessed to be in this place. But....  (don't you know that, with me, there is always a but?" But they haven't always been with us.  They had a life before they came to us; a life we will never truly know.  For Travis he had three full years of life: One year with a mom and dad at least.  Grandparents. Siblings, possibly.  Then he had two very unique years in, what appears to be a decent, clean, happy-looking institution.  We know he was exposed to a rich variety of people.  He had friend

Fall Family Traditions

October has been full of some of our fun fall family traditions as well as a first for all 5 Brownies. Pumpkin Carving This is something the kids and I enjoy every year.  This year, the boys got to help by removing the icky, slimy guts from the pumpkin! Before the carving Pulling out guts! Our owl, Hedwig Visit to Oklahoma to meet The Brown Grands The boys did fabulously!  They had a great time visiting, playing with their cousin Emily, riding bikes, driving RC cars, and riding around in Grandpa's "tractor."  It was the boys' first overnight stay away from home (still with us, of course) and they didn't seemed phased a bit!  However, the look of deep love on Travis' face when we pulled in at our house told Ken and me that he knows this is home.  Travis smiled, laughed, and would have wrapped his arms around the house to give it a big hug if he could.  It was heartwarming to witness. Grandpa driving the boys. Putting together the airplane.