Saturday, August 2, 2008

The ride is over----

I have waited to post this last blog---- it is bittersweet for me. I had to take a poll to help confirm that I should indeed end this blog and merge it with my Smilesandtrials blog. While I have loved journaling all about our adoption journey to Ukraine, Dennis is now home, is a huge part of our family and therefore should be on our family blog. I will update you with this final post to share the huge strides Dennis has made since he has been home.

Thank you to all of you who have let the most encouraging and thoughtful comments. I appreciate them so much. Thank you to all that have contributed to our family in some way. What a huge blessing you have been to our family. I can't even begin to express how uplifting you have all been. God Bless you.

Just tonight John took this picture of Anna, Dennis, and I. I love it! He laid in my arms for an hour after this picture till he finally fell asleep. Did I mention that he is a sweaty little boy when he sleeps? :)

A couple of days ago, Dennis got this soft, homemade blanket and talking doggy. Thanks Jody for sending such a wonderful gift!

If Dennis could talk this is what he would be saying---"Oh no! My Mama caught me playing with her vacuum cleaner. Better pretend that I was playing with this piano instead."

Dennis is gaining weight! Since he was weighed during his medical exam in Ukraine he has gained four pounds---- in only 16 days!

Here is Dennis getting ready for his bath on 7/19/08.

Look at him on 8/1/08! He has filled out so much--- very little of his ribs show---- there is actual chunkiness forming around his thighs! He feels so much nicer in my arms--- not as fragile and not as bony!

I am just thrilled that he has taken off like he has since he came home.

Here are five huge noticeable changes that have taken place with our son Dennis.

1. He walks without help whereas when we first met him he had an awkward crawl and couldn't walk without our help.
2. He coos, laughs, and jabbers up a storm. During the first week we heard very little sound from Dennis.
3. He is an eating machine now that he is home! The first time I tried to feed him a banana, he gagged and spit it out, and I was concerned that he might have eating issues.
4. Dennis is into everything if we let him ------ the cupboards, the movies, the puzzles, even the toilet! Awwwe!! That caught me off guard! Now all of us are closing the toilet seat and bathroom door for added precaution.
5. Dennis is not shy around his siblings after all! In fact, Dennis loves all of them so much as they do him--- it is so obvious to everyone!

I have to admit that the first morning home, Dennis fell off the bed because I dozed off with him supposedly sleeping next to me. I felt like such a horrible mother for him falling off that I decided to show him how to get off by turning himself around and scooting off the side slowly until his feet hit the ground. Kid you not, I only had to show this kid once and now he is always scooting himself off the bed, that little turkey! I'm now rethinking what I have taught him. :)

He has his first consult with the pediatric plastic surgeon up at Valley Children's Hospital this Tuesday, August 5th. I have also talked with UCLA and Shriner's but feel at this time that going with this particular doctor is the best choice for Dennis and our family. Not only does this doctor come highly recommended but the hospital is fairly close by which means minimal travel and this doctor has already written two letters on our behalf to include as part of our dossier when we did all of our adoption paperwork.

Now please come join us over at our family blog where I will continue to share all about Dennis and how he is doing. And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask whenever.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dennis is Walking!

It really amazes me how much Dennis has progressed developmentally, physically, and emotionally since he has come home just 11 short days ago. Honestly, I expected him to take longer to catch up, and I was hoping that I would get to have a baby for at least a little while longer---- but alas that is not the case at all. I have a full fledged toddler!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dennis is Home Video

Now that Dennis is home, I thought it would be nice to make a video of him with all of us. He is so much a part of our family. Hope you enjoy!

This is Home music by Switchfoot

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dennis home a week

Have I told you how many times I have counted my blessings since Dennis has come home one week ago? I can't begin to tell you to make you truly understand what a blessing he has been to our family. So often I hear how lucky he is that we took him in, but oh how wrong are those that only consider our son the lucky one. It is indeed our family that has through him once again been shown that God makes no mistakes. Dennis is no mistake, and how much my kid's adore him help me to know that they feel that no one ever needs to be perfect in order for them to be wanted. Dennis is so wanted. Just take any of my children aside and ask them........... Dennis is one cool baby!

Just had to get that off my chest. :)

Here are some of my favorite pictures taken from last week.

Here is Dennis getting his first haircut. He was such a good boy while I trimmed it up. He has a couple of bald spots caused by scarring...... so that was a bit of a challenge cutting it evenly yet being sure his hair still covers them so that he has a natural looking head of hair. I think I did a pretty good job considering this was my first attempt.

He loves to brush his teeth. Doing this kept him occupied while getting his teeth clean too! What a good mom I am..... teaching my son to multi-task so young. :)

This is Jonny's first time being a big brother. He really enjoys it especially since Dennis is so much fun to play with!

Can't you see how proud Jonny is?!!!!

Dennis enjoys when I rub baby lotion on his legs and feet. I asked Jonny if I could rub some on
him after I was done with Dennis. After convincing Jonny that he wouldn't be considered a baby just because I rubbed baby lotion on him, he let me.

Here I thought that Dennis would have major eating issues, and in my opinion, he has none unless you consider needing to have his food pureed a problem. But I don't, and he eats everything and tons of it. I made around three gallons of borscht with tons of fresh veggies and froze it in bags. Come time I need it, I thaw a bag out and then puree it into a thick soup, heat it up, add a piece of crumbled up bread and two heaping tablespoons of sour cream with a pat of butter, and voila......... delicious and nutritious baby food that even I would eat!

Dennis looks like a sleeping angel, doesn't he?

Little by little, Dennis is making more direct eye contact with me, and I'm cherishing it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Mother and Her Son

This picture says a thousand words.
I am in love with my son. In my eyes he is just perfect. The new life he has breathed into me is indescribable. The joy he has brought our family is a gift that I am enjoying every second. Getting to watch his every move is such a privilege. Everyday he is blossoming into this little boy who will always be changing.... for the better....... because of love.
I want him to feel the same love for me because I am his Mama. I want him to trust and feel secure enough to be happy and love just the way my other children do.
Every day I make sure to spend some time rocking him right around the time he is going to sleep. The first night I did this, he cried for 10 minutes before drifting off to sleep. Although his adjustment has been going incredibly well, he seems to prefer to self sooth himself by sucking his hand and rubbing his neck. He would rather do this by himself. While this is not a terrible thing, I personally feel that he should be able to be soothed by me. I want him to know that he no longer needs to solely rely on himself to be comforted.
I am his Mama and I want him to know what it feels like to be rocked, cuddled, hugged......... I want him to know physical touch in the way that would actually cause him to reach out for it himself.
I look forward to the day where he leans forward to rub noses with me and then steals a little kiss just because he can.
Tonight when I got him ready for bed there was hardly a whimper when I picked him up to rock him. While he preferred to look away from me as I rocked him the prior two nights, this time I decided to hold him facing me. I wanted him to see my eyes, feel my breath, hear my heartbeat, and feel my kisses and nose rubs all over his face.
So far so good. Houston, we have made contact.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Loving Life with Dennis

I must say that I am in love with my new son more than I could have imagined. From the moment we knew of him back in March to now, he has been such a blessing to our family. Everyday he is surprising me, as are the rest of my children and I feel like a very blessed mother.

Each of Dennis' older siblings have finally got to spend some one on one time with their little brother. Not only has each of them accepted Dennis and labeled him the cutest baby in the world, but Dennis seems to approve of all of them. I am amazed at how quickly each of them have seen past his eye and into his sweet little soul. I can't count the times that I have heard one of my children say today how perfect Dennis is.

Andrew just loved letting Dennis touch him as he got to know him. Dennis quickly learned that if he threw blocks down, Andrew would quickly run to pick them up. This was very entertaining for Dennis.

I just love this picture of Andrew and Jonny lying on the floor watching Dennis.

Jonny is so happy that he is finally a big brother. After being around Dennis for a while, Jonny noticed Dennis babbling after waking up from his nap. Dennis babbled and babbled and it was quite loud. Jonny's response? "Mom, I didn't know that Dennis speaks Spanish?"

Dennis always has someone just waiting to hold and play with him. This time it was Julia.

How funny! The girls put the socks on Dennis that John got from first class on the plane ride home. But William was way more entertaining.

Look at all the girls around Dennis. I bet he is loving life!

I don't think that Dennis had ever had his teeth brushed before us. His poor little gums bled a lot the first time John brushed his teeth. Now we brush them at least twice a day and his gums bleed very little. He is such a smart little man. When he sees the brush he opens his mouth like a little bird.

Daddy took Dennis swimming. Boy, did he love it!

Thanks Mom for the baby floaty. It is perfect!

Dennis was all smiles. He just loves water!

Today I got Dennis in to see our primary care physician. They were able to move it up from Thursday, praise the Lord. That means he will get to Valley Children's all the sooner.

His visit went really well.

Here he is being a big boy in the waiting room.

Here is Dennis waiting to see the doctor.

Dennis was very good during the exam. I also found out that he is very healthy. His ears look very clear as did his nose and throat. His unspecified heart disease was unfounded (surprise, surprise), and he has already gained over a pound since his exam at the Embassy last week. He is shy just one once from 20 pounds and is 31 1/2 inches tall. His head circumference is 19 in and he is not as delayed as I thought he would be. Praise the Lord again!

He got four shots, two in each leg, and little Dennis let me comfort him afterwards. Rachel and Julia were impressed how quickly he stopped crying.

He has now been officially referred up to Valley Children's to have his cleft palate closed.

As we were driving back to Grandma's to pick up the rest of the kids, I took this picture. I think it is so sweet the way Dennis wanted to hold his sisters' hands.

Dennis loves his oldest brother Adam because he makes him laugh. What makes me love this picture so much is the way that Adam was getting Dennis to laugh and smile. I see so much of his Dad, my husband in him and I already know what an amazing father he is going to make one day.

I just had to share this picture (edited of course) of Dennis at his first bath here at home. BTW, he just loves bathes. Don't worry, I am trying my best to fatten him up, and I bet he will look completely different in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Sleeping Angel

Daddy was right about you my sweet silly boy. You do like to occasionally sleep with your eye open. Don't worry my child, just rest and trust that you can close that eye. I am glad that you chose to close it when I gently stroked your eyelid down. Now you can sleep in complete peace now that you are in loving hands.

This is what I did at nap time and he fell asleep tonight with his eye shut. I truly don't think he has a problem at all....... I think he was just waiting till he felt safe before he would shut his eye.

Doesn't he look peaceful? His little snore is very cute too.

If you are wondering why the sock is on his hand, I had to make my first big mommy decision about him. Remember how I told you that he sucks his hand? While it is incredibly cute, it is making his hand look very raw and painful. His whole hand is chapped and has cracks in the crease of his thumb and first finger. His nail on his index finger is also badly deteriorated and I think that it has a fungal infection. So today I started putting Neosporin on his hand and thought this sock might help him to stop sucking his hand. So far so good, but I do feel for the little guy who I know finds great comfort in this. I hope that I am making the right decision and that this doesn't traumatize him to much. On the flip side, we have given him a bottle, and while he cannot suck from it, he finds great comfort holding it and biting the nipple which then squirts the liquid in his mouth.

Home at last!

They got home at 2:00 am. We were outside waiting to greet them.

Julia and Rachel were so excited they could hardly stand it.

He is even more perfect than I remember.

Everyone wanted to take a turn holding Dennis before we all went to bed.

For the most part, Dennis didn't mind.

I think he remembers me from before. At least I like to think so.

Dennis and Daddy have a bedtime ritual that include playing tug-o-war with their teeth. Don't worry, it wasn't rough. :) Dennis slept with us last night. I learned that he sucks his fist for comfort and loves to have his bottom patted as he is going to sleep.

We all slept from 3:00 am to 8:15 am. Pretty good start to getting on a California baby schedule in my opinion.

For breakfast Dennis ate a whole mashed banana with 1/2 cup of rice cereal. That wasn't
enough for this champion eater so I fixed him the same amount with pears instead. He ate every last bite, and his belly button popped out to let us know he was full.

All of the kids are getting along great. Dennis seems to enjoy all of the attention, and the kids just adore him.

As for me, I couldn't ask for a more amazing son.

BTW, he is sound asleep taking his afternoon nap, and I have been asked about a million times if he could be woken up by the kids. My response..... NYET!

Friday, July 18, 2008

BIG UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!!

Awesome news! The pilot announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, just wanted to let you know that we were conducting a test and that the plane's auto pilot computer landed the plane!" Now John and Dennis are in the car driving home! Praise God.

The drive is three hours folks, but don't worry, John is running on adrenaline--- I can hear in his voice how excited he is to be in the car driving. His spirits are high, and I am just so thankful that they are on the last stretch home. Dennis did really well this last flight...... slept most of the way.... Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, we are here steadily preparing for their arrival.

The kids made welcome home banners.

And they did it with such enthusiasm!

Didn't they do a great job?!!!!!!!!!!!!

And here I am nesting like crazy.........hey wait a minute, I thought I vacuumed two days ago.

Caleb on dish duty.......... this Mama needs the kitchen to sparkle for her new arrival. I wish I could truly understand the nesting concept because I have had it with each and every child, and yet I knew back when I had my first child they don't even notice.... LOL.

I've even hung his picture.

Can you tell how excited we all are for Daddy and Dennis to just hurry up and be here?