Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wow! It's been a while!

I didn't realize how long I've went without updating this site until someone (thanks Jenn) pointed it out to me. Time just slips away when you're crazy busy.

So, I need to catch up about 6 months, eh?

Our late winter, early spring was pretty uneventful. The little girls (Chiao and Elizabeth) continued to grow and learn well at "school". They made HUGE leaps of progress with their speech! The older twins, Tia and Amber, were enjoying their last year of high school and getting antsy to graduate! And Kelli was just riding along on life (despite our encouragement to "do something"). But all was well.

Then came May! Olivia decided to make her entry into the world a full 4 weeks early! She was born via c/s on May 17th at approx 6pm. My mom and Amber had went up with us and helped with the little girls, and Kelli had driven up with Tia but still made it in time. My dad had left for Indiana that morning and boogied back, trying to make it for the birth! He made it just in time! Olivia then ended up in the NICU (wow...deja vu!) on CPap for respiratory distress and shortly after that developed a good case of jaundice. She was able to discontinue with the CPap and Oxygen about 36 hours after birth, but had to stay on the bili-lights. So we stayed our full 4 days and they discharged her home with a bili blanket for immediate follow up at home for the jaundice. My father-in-law had flown in from New Orleans the day of our discharge and stayed over the weekend. He was a big help with the little girls.

While we were in the hospital 2 1/2 hours away the twins had baccalaureate (sp?). Joby drove home to attend it, pick up his dad at the airport, and came back to get us the next day. I was sad to miss their celebration, but they were very understanding of the whole thing.

Four days after we came home Olivia ended up back in the local hospital because her bili level was critically high! It was so high that her pediatrician came to the hospital that night to see her and make sure she was stable before she could sleep that night. She ended up back under powerful bili lights and spend 2 more days hospitalized before coming home on a different type of bili bed. After another week like that, her bili level was low enough to stop worrying and stop using the lights. Geez!

Meanwhile Earl flew back to New Orleans on Tuesday and the twins graduated on Thursday night. Chiao did NOT understand why she couldn't sit with her "Ber" and Eaa" at the ceremony! And, you guessed it, half way thru a teachers speech Chiao had scooted down the bleacher a little bit away from us and she got up and ran down to the graduated seated on the floor of the gym and climbed up in Tia's lap! I had to go and get her and bring her back. After Amber and Tia said, "we thought you should have just left her with us". Yeah, that would've went over well with the faculty! haha

Betsy and Loey (mother-in-law and sister-in-law) flew in on Friday. They stayed for about a week and helped out a good bit. Then the day they left, Earl and Joby's brother Kiley flew back in. We had my in-laws, at least one of them, for a full 3 weeks. They were a great deal of help and we loved seeing them.

Kelli left for the Army the day BEFORE the twins graduated. He was bummed he missed it. He was happy that Olivia came early thought because he thought he was going to miss her birth and that really had upset him. He is pretty close to Elizabeth and Chiao-Chiao and really wanted to hold Olivia before he left.

Then the twins graduation open house and Earl and Kiley back to New Orleans and that ended our May! whew!!!

So now we are preparing for our Buddy Walk! It's the 3rd annual that we've had and we have tons to do for it. Being the only support group for Down syndrome in this entire area, we really want to reach out and this awareness walk is important to our members so we don't want to let them down. Anyone in the area it's September 26th, feel free to drop in!

So, I think I've caught up on the big things. I'll have to do a better job keeping current from now on. (Joby's thinking we should change the URL address from "we need one more" to "we have a houseful!") haha

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Too cute!

So, we went to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner... and of course dressed the girls for Christmas. Go figure! :-) But I couldn't resist, they are so darn cute!

Then this last week we put up our Christmas tree. What fun! The babies had a BALL! (way better than the last few years where the big kids were big enough they didn't REALLY care to help...took some of the fun out.) The little girls were really, truly amazed by the lights and by "helping" Daddy hang the ornaments. And I took so many pictures that now when I get the camera out Chiao-Chiao runs over to the tree, turns around and sits down as if to say, "cheese". She thinks this is the best place for a portrait now! haha

Hope all of your Thanksgivings were wonderful and found you with many things to be thankful for. I know we have at least 5 blessings to count at this time (3 of which asked me for gas money that day! haha).

Happy Holidays,


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chiao doing the "Do your ears hang low" dance
Elizabeth loves to Pose.

Hey, Papa, what are you doing up there?

Oops, a few more pics I couldn't help but share. After her baptism, we had a "Gotcha" party for Chiao. Joby's Dad, and 2 of his Aunts had flown in (Heidi and Gretchen) so we figured it was the perfect time. Both Chiao and Elizabeth had beautiful dresses we brought back from Taiwan and they both LOVED them! So darn cute!

Some recent pics

Tia and her boyfriend Brian (with Chiao-Chiao) ready to leave for the Homecoming Dance

Amber all set for her last Homecoming dance

Chiao-Chiao after her baptism in September

Chiao, Kelli, Amber, Tia and Elizabeth after Chiao's baptism

Here are some recent pictures of my children. They are our pride and joy and we have had a wonderful Fall with them. My son stood in for Chiao's Godfather at her baptism (he was called out of town on a last minute emergency) and I was able to get this picture of all 5 of my kids (not an easy task lately). Kelli leaves for the Army January 13, so I'm glad to have this picture now.

WOW, it's been a while!

Wow, I can't believe it's been since September since I've "blogged" on here. We have just been crazy around here lately.

First came the start of the school year. This is Amber and Tia's Senior year, so that was exciting and involved shopping for the perfect dress for their last homecoming dance, getting Senior pictures taken, etc. Then, of course, we have HOMECOMING weekend itself. That was a fun weekend, but very busy with hairstylist appointments, last minutes runs for new earrings after losing "the" pair, etc.

We've been running and running lately. The twins were both sick, one had the dreaded flu, the other strep throat. School was closed for the best part of the week as everyone was home sick anyway. Then Elizabeth caught the bug, then Chiao-Chiao (Lily). It took both little girls considerably longer to recover (thanks Down syndrome for those smaller air passages that prevent the Yuck from coming out! geez, poor babies)

We have, at this point, all recovered (I hope).

Several weekends ago Joby and I and the little girls took my parents to Frankenmuth to sight see. For those of you not familiar with this area, it houses "Bronners", the largest Christmas store in the world. The town itself is a small, picturesque German village. It's beautiful! We enjoyed the day immensely. The little girls LOVED the Christmas store, even if they were a little bit overwhelmed.

We also received a bit of shocking news a short time ago. Those of you who know us personally know what a difficult time we had having Elizabeth. Several rounds of infertility meds, 3 losses, then a difficult pregnancy. That was part (only part) of the reason we decided to adopt when deciding to have one more. And so now we have a gorgeous daughter Chiao-Chiao. Then, low and behold, several weeks ago we found ourselves in the part of the "shocked" parents who find themselves pregnant again at 40! Boy, you could have blown me over with a breath! We are all happy and excited, but I do have to admit, Joby and the kids are happier than I am at 8am when I'm so darn sick! (this too shall pass.....right?....right?)

So, we have had a busy life lately. Although SO much to say, no time to say it. :-)

I hope this finds everyone well and happy and busy preparing for a wonderful Holiday season.
I will try to keep up more. Thanks so much for everyone's support in all we do.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

our life lately...

Chiao-Chiao taking a rest while playing outside
Elizabeth catching a lift from her brother Kelli while at the mall.

Those two are ALWAYS willing to kiss each other....even when they WON'T kiss anyone else!

Who us??

This is CC's ticked-off face. It's probably wrong, but I think it's so darn cute! haha

Well, I keep thinking, "when things return to normal and calm down." Could one of you mothers out there tell me what "normal" is? I don't think we'll ever get there again (I'm not sure we were ever there to begin with! haha). But I'm not complaining. I'm loving my life!
Everything is going pretty well. Chiao-Chiao (Lily) has continued to adapt well. She went from going to everybody, fairly indiscriminately, to preferring me or her daddy, or the older kids if they're home (since Kelli lives in his own apartment with his own life and the twins have now started their Senior year of High School...guess how much they're home!). Everybody else seems to think it's because I've kept her with me constantly, not leaving her with anyone. However, I've always done that with Elizabeth also so... I, however, think it's because she's finally settling into the family. She now KNOWS and FEELS I'm Momma, Joby is Daddy and the big kids are HERS! Everybody else is great and I'm sure she loves them. She's always happy to see them, etc. However, she now KNOWS she can always count on us and we're who she falls back on. At least, she knows that and is continuing to learn it more and more. I think this is healthy and shows great attachment and proper "grouping" type emotion. When others attempt to take her she will turn into my shoulder, preferring to stay with me in groups. But she does play with them and will leave my side to play...she just prefers to do it by her own initiative and when she knows she can come back to me if she wants.

So.. soon enough she will be more than willing to "go" without me. I'm treasuring this stage! LOL. Elizabeth and CC are also inseparable. They play wonderfully together! They can also play apart (CC in one corner of the playroom, Elizabeth in the other playing something totally different) but they KNOW the other is close by and they check frequently. It's not that very different from when my older twins were babies. So, once again, healthy!
I do have to share though. CC was quite sick one day last week. Vomiting and such. She would only move a foot or so and then go right back to sleep wherever that put her. She did this all day. Elizabeth kept checking on her... patting her on the back softly and kissing her cheek. Then Elizabeth came over when CC started to vomit. I really thought it would scare her or she would cry. However, she just reached out and patted CC on the back thru the entire episode and looked so sad. She just wanted her bud to feel better.

Then the other day Elizabeth fell down and lay on the carpet crying. CC went running over and clapped her hands together twice and held them out to Elizabeth (she does this when SHE wants picked up by us). She was trying to tell E she would hold her. It was SO sweet. She then patted HER on the back softly!

Elizabeth has apraxia and doesn't speak. She signs, but has absolutely no words. CC babbles CONSTANTLY and has several words (and maybe more...but we don't speak Chinese LOL). So, last night, E wanted Joby to pick her up. She kept raising her arms for "up" and making an attention getting noise, but Joby was busy and didn't pay attention. CC went up to him, patted him (quite firmly) on the thigh, and said very clearly "JOE!". She then looked at E and said "up" very adamantly! Tell me the two of them aren't close!!! :-)

So, I only had a moment, but wanted to share it with you. For all of those who have followed our journey, I hope this touches your heart as it does mine. They are the most precious children! And I am such a blessed mother to have raised (almost) 3 bright, beautiful, caring kids and now I get to do it all over again!

I've posted a couple of pics that have absolutely nothing to do with this post...just thought they were so darn cute! haha

Will catch up more soon,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where was I?

I purposely leave my camera out where it's easily accessible so that when the kids do something funny, or are just looking really cute (and let's face it, that's pretty darn frequently!), I can find it quickly. I'll admit I am slower now than when the big kids were babies, and I think the babies are quicker than the big kids were! LOL. Anyway, because the big kids think the little kids are so darn cute, the are always taking pictures of them. I never know what I might find when I download (upload?) my memory card to my computer. Thank goodness for digital or Joby and I would be in the poorhouse due to film and processing expense!

So, back to the point (it's late, cut me some slack). I just found these pictures. They made me laugh so I thought I would share them and they may brighten someone else's day too. Please, however, disregard the mess. The babies were sitting on the kitchen island and I must have just finished cooking supper. At least, that is my guess. There is a bag of rice next to Chiao-Chiao and she's not trying to eat it, so I'm going with it's AFTER supper! :-) I have no idea where I am????? The big kids must be getting them ready for baths or something, so maybe I'm doing laundry??? mmmmmm.

Anyway, hopefully they make you smile as they did me.

Hope all is as well in your world as it is in mine.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

A week in review..

We have now had Lily home, in the states, for 8 days. However, due to previous committments for Joby's work, we went out of town on Thursday and only just returned home. The good news is we were able to stay at a resort where they have an indoor water park...and we found out Lily LOVES the water!! Oh my goodness. We took her and Elizabeth into the baby section, set her down and went to sit down with her (so she wouldn't get scared, of course) and she stood up and walked in further! The stinker! She loved everything about it, the water, the splashes, the sprinkles of water caused by the other kids going by...everything! I'm so glad because I felt pretty bad taking her out of town right after we brought her home. But she did WONDERFULLY!

We have also got the sleeping issues under control (for the last couple of nights anyway). Lily has been going to sleep around 8 or 8:30 and waking up 7 or 7:30. And she SLEEPS! Unlike Elizabeth, who still wakes up multiple times during the night, she sleeps sound. I'm lovin' it!

So, everything is going well and she's adjusting like a pro. She still has occassional moments where she is a little sad, and I think she's missing her caregivers and her friends. We let her experience this because I think it would be wrong to try to "jolly" her out of it. But then, after a moment or two, she comes over and wants me to cuddle for a while. Sometimes she has some tears, sometimes just a sad look. But either way, it seems like she is looking to me more and more to help and that it makes her feel better to be held by me or Joby. So, all in all, I think she's doing WONDERFUL!

I've posted a couple of pics. Lily and Elizabeth at the park with bubbles, and then at the resort in the water. They have become pretty good buds and share pretty well. Elizabeth was crying about taking some medicine last night, and Lily patted her on the back as if to say, "it's o.k. now" and opened her own mouth as if offering to take it for her. It was priceless! And Lily fell down and hurt her fingers and Elizabeth went over and patted her head to comfort her. (She then showed her how to hold out her hand so I could kiss was so sweet!).

So, we're good here. Hope you all are well also.

Monday, August 3, 2009

There's no place like home!

Well, we are back home. After a VERY long day of traveling, we arrived back home to be greeted by all of our children and Tia's boyfriend, Brian. Lily traveled sooooo well! She played with her toys, watched a Dora video that we bought in Chinese, and slept for a nap. She was probably the most perfect child I have ever traveled with! Especially when you figure in the length of time spent in airports and planes, and the small length of time she had been with us to this point.

As we walked in the door, Tia and Amber greeted us, holding Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Lily looked at each other for about 2 minutes without much expression, then both girls smiled so big and Elizabeth clapped! They were both willing to kiss the other and give "high fives", and when we put them down, they both played well together with the toys. It was absolutely amazing!

It has remained pretty much the same way since then. The only issue we seem to be dealing with is the time change. Taiwan is exactly 12 hours ahead of us. So, 4am here is 4pm there! And believe me, Lily knows this! She seems to be constantly tired (except at 4am of course.)haha. Poor thing. We've been putting her down for a nap with Elizabeth, and then waking her by 3:30 or 4:00 (although she DOESN'T want to get up then... it's the middle of the night by her body's clock!) She is a baby that, when she wants to sleep... SHE SLEEPS! Even though we get her up, she will lay on our shoulders.... fold over and lay on her feet on the floor... if sat on the sofa, fall over sideways and sleep that way. Yesterday we took her grocery shopping and she actually put her head down on the metal side of the shopping cart! When I tried to pick it up, she just continued to sleep with her head cupped in the palm of my hand. If I wasn't trying to change her schedule around, it would be almost comical. But I feel sooo bad for her because she is always so tired. I plan on talking to our pediatrician to see if there is something I can do to help her... perhaps give her something to help her sleep THRU the night, so she can be less tired the next day until her nap... get on a little bit of a typical schedule. I'm not sure, but we have to do something for the poor baby!

Even with all of this, she seems to be adjusting well and generally happy. She is adapting to western food (although rice noodles are still her very favorite and we offer them pretty regularly). She is playing well with Elizabeth, and even learned the signs for "itsy-bitsy spider" yesterday. We now catch her doing it and singing quietly (in baby chinese babble of course). It's so darn cute!

So, just thought I'd let everyone know how well it's went.

Oh, forgot to mention. Our trip was wonderful! We had one day to sight-see with our guide/driver. Other than that, we just wandered around Taipei on our own. It was great. Everyone we encountered was very polite and thoughtful.

On Thursday we went to the orphanage again and met with the Birthparents. They were so sweet. Thru translation from the social worker, they told us "thank you", repeatedly, for adopting Lily. BF told us how he thought she was the most beautiful baby at birth! After they found out about the Down syndrome, they placed her at Cathwel (the orphanage) in hopes that she would be adopted by a family that lived somewhere where she would be more accepted and loved than in Asia. And, just as important to him, somewhere that she could get an education. Apparently in Asia she could not attend school.

They reported that another family had tried to adopt Lily at the same time. However, after looking at our dosier and family photo album, they didn't even consider them. The clincher you ask? The BF said that when he saw the pictures of our older children with Elizabeth (I included ones with the twins playing with her, and one where Kelli was holding and soothing her when she was scared of a parade) that he knew we were the family for Yin-Chiao! He said he could tell that the twins would always accept and love her, as he saw how much they accepted and loved Elizabeth, who also had DS. He also said (and this was important to him as sons are important in Asia!) that he could tell that Kelli would always love and protect her, as he saw how Kelli loved and protected Elizabeth in the photo's. Many that we have dealt with in this process have thought )(and told us!) that having a child with DS so close in age to Lily would be a detriment to the family choosing us. However, it proved to be just the opposite.

They were so kind and thoughtful, and obviously loved their daughter. They did ask us if we would look them up if we ever made it back to Taiwan, and we told them absolutely! And we certainly would! And they asked us if we would make sure Lily received and education, and of course we promised them we would.

They then totally surprised, and absolutely touched my heart! There is a Chinese belief that everyone in the universe is connected by a red thread. Lily's birthparents presented us with a necklace and bracelet that they had made for Lily to wear when she was old enough. It was made from red knotted thread, with milky jade beads and a milky jade ring at the bottom. Jade is a valuable stone in Asia, and the milkier the appearance, the more valued by the Asian culture. It was beautiful. Alright, you may think... that's touching... but mmmm. Well, now for the part that will tell you what kind of people they were. With all they were going thru, knowing they will probably never again see their daughter, whom they obviously love enough to give up, they were thoughtful enough to present an IDENTICAL set they had made for Elizabeth: "Yin-Chiao's sister"! I had held it together pretty well until then, but then my tears joined the birth parents. If that didn't touch you... reread it and see if you would have thought to do that.

Alright, that's all for now... I have babies sleeping (finally!!!!) and so must sleep myself. Have to be ready for that 4am alarm! haha

May your lives be as blessed as ours have been; may your children bring you as much joy as ours have brought us.

Sheryl and Joby Hyman

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Video of Lily...

Today is the 3rd day she's been with us, and the best so far. She's happy, chatty, smiling! Tonight we came home from dinner and Joby and I were talking about our day tomorrow. Lily got free for 5 seconds (swear!) and in the bathroom she went! She crawled into the tub fully clothed and wanted a bath. It was so funny!!! So, Daddy helped her while mommy went to get the video camera... I couldn't get the video to post on here correctly; it kept cutting the side off... so if you follow this link you can find it. She's so darn cute!!!
View this montage created at One True Media
Lily in bathtub, Taiwan, 3 days out

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We're here and well...

Well, we arrived in Taipei on Sunday night. The flight went well, although sooooo long. It was midnight when we got to our hotel and checked in and all. We were starving though so Joby and I went walking in search of food. Our driver, Nick, had told us it was safe at night as long as we didn't go down dark alleys. And the concierge at the hotel told us there was a McDonalds open 24 hours around the block. Come to find out, there are 3 McDonalds within walking distance, 3 7-11's, a Dunkin Donuts RIGHT next door and Starbucks 3 store fronts over! hahaha, and I was worried. ;-)

Monday we got up and took a taxi to AIT (the American Embassy) where we met with the Cathwel representative, Lily's Nanny, and Lily. We could only get an appointment for Monday morning at 8am, so had to pick up Lily at the Embassy instead of the orphanage. She was so cute! The Nanny was so very helpful in getting Lily to make up with us. She was sly! She brought treats, gave me the box and told Lily, who they call Chiao-Chiao (Chow-Chow), get the treat from Momma! In Chinese of course, but we understood the gist. So, after a few minutes of this, she let me hold her. She loves music and will calm down pretty quickly if you sing... anything!

After this, we went to the clinic because she needed to be re-checked for treatment of a sore-throat. The doctor there was very nice and spoke English fairly well. He donates his time to the orphanage! She is on antibiotics, but isn't fussy about it. You would never know she was sick.

We made a stop at the orphange following the clinic. This entire time Chiao-Chiao let me carry her, hold her, etc. We went to meet Sister Rosa who runs the orphanage and get more information from her caregivers. They gave us more pictures, including some from when she was a baby baby that her birthmother wanted us to have. The social worker had someone make a charm bracelet for her that has the Chinese characters of her name on it! The gave us her medical information, a letter her birthmother wrote her for when she is older, and... an animated Santa Clause! Apparently she loved this so much that her caregiver wanted her to have it. She knows how to push the little button on the base so it sings and dances. How funny. It was a quick visit, as we have to go back on Thursday to meet the birthmother, and will see more then.

So... we've been back to the hotel now for Monday and Tuesday. We've made small trips out to shop and eat, and Chiao-Chiao has done sooo well!!! We are very impressed. She seems to have made up to both Joby and I very well. We were warned that many orphanage children don't make up to men very well initially, but she's done wonderfully with Joby! She will smile for him more easily than me!

So, that's where we are at this time. Today we're going to try to find the Toys R Us and get a couple of small things for the plane. We have it incredibly difficult to find toys here!! None of the stores around here seem to carry any. But we got the name and address of the Toys R Us fromour driver and so we're going to try for that. It's such a long plane ride that the poor baby has to have something to do. We did find, by accident last night, that she seems to love cartoon t.v. She watched it last night for about 1/2 hour while drinking a bottle.

Well, Lily and Daddy are beginning to stir so I better get the day going.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Less than 1 week from now!!!

Alright... in less than one week we will be enroute to pick up our daughter!!! Joby and I were just talking about it a few minutes ago and it was like it HIT both of us at once... All of the preparations, the paperwork, the worry, (the money!) and it's finally happening! WE ARE GOING TO TAIWAN AND WILL BE PICKING UP OUR YOUNGEST DAUGHTER IN LESS THAN 1 WEEK! This time next week, we will both be trying to sleep (most likely both talking!) on the plane enroute to Asia! So... everyone who has prayed, please say a "thank you" for all of the answered prayers! We are so very grateful!

So, right now, at 10:00 pm, we are cleaning up again from our construction work on our house. We now have the foyer re drywalled (I finished mudding the drywall about an hour ago), Amber's room is done (except the final coat of paint on the wall), and the family room, well, I'm able to shut the door leading to the rest of the house and turn my back and it will be fine. I know I can keep the babies out of there when I get back until Joby can finish it... so no worries. We know it will come together as it should!

Here is a picture of Elizabeth helping Daddy with reframing our family room. So darn cute!!!! And I wish I could show you a picture of her with her little plastic hammer hitting the 2x6 when Joby was hitting it up above... but I was so busy smiling and being in love that I forgot to take the picture, so you'll have to use your imagination. (just picture the cutest thing ever.... there you go!)

I apologize if I'm rambling; and even I can tell that I am, but I'm just too tired from construction ever lasting and can't keep the phrases smooth. But we had to share how excited we are, and how grateful for all of your help. So... good night. I'll post soon when I have more to say (and can say it with some semblence of continuity!)