Saturday, September 6, 2008

Crazy days of Summer. . .

Wow! I have become incredibly lazy when it comes to blogging! My apologies to all of you who have been patiently waiting for an update. I must say that August was possibly one of the busiest months we have had in a long time (in my world, a long time translates into a 2-3 month time span). So much has happened that I'm not sure that I can fit it all into one blog post without boring every one to tears, so again, my apologies if you find yourselves asleep on your keyboards halfway through this post!

Evan FINALLY got his AFO's (Ankle Foot Orthotics aka Braces) at the beginning of August. For those who are unfamiliar with AFO's, they have two general purposes. The first is to offer support to the foot and ankle for weight bearing. The second is to help keep the foot in the proper position. The second purpose is especially important in Evan's case because corrected clubbed feet tend to regress if they are not properly braced (it's like wearing a retainer after you have had braces on your teeth). Evan wears his braces from about 8 am-7pm every day and his feet look fantastic. Unfortunately, I do no have a good picture of his feet or his braces at the moment, but for the purpose of providing a visual aid for this post, I will try to get some this afternoon!

Evan has also started on his physical therapy rotation again and is doing great! We are still working on strengthening those trunk muscles and he is working especially hard on learning how to get into a sitting position unassisted. We still have a long way to go before we reach this milestone, but he has really made amazing progress. He is also learning how to bear weight on his legs and had literally taken his first steps in learning to walk. We are using a gait trainer in therapy (think oversized, high tech, baby walker) and he is working on learning how to push off the floor to move forward (he has already mastered the walking motion. . one foot in front of the other, but hasn't quite grasped the concept that he has to push off the floor with his feet in order to move forward). We are hoping to get approval for the use of a gait trainer at home as well so that he is able to spend more time upright.

In occupational therapy, Evan is working on self-feeding. His therapist is in the process of making him modified utensils and a cuff for his wrist so that he can start learning how to feed himself with a spoon. He LOVES this part of therapy because it usually involves chocolate or vanilla pudding! He has also started to use his arms and his hands more. He still does not have active movement in his fingers or his hands, but he has figured out how to use them without full function. I will have to work on getting a video to show you exactly what he is doing, since trying to paint a mental picture is a bit tricky, but he has essentially learned how to "pick things up" and "hand" them to me! For example, if I put a pen in his lap, he can move his hand over to it, slide it between his fingers and put it in my hand (right now I keep my hand on the same level as his lap, but he is getting better at lifting his arms a little as well). Because the use of his hands and arms have always been our biggest question mark, this progress is very, very exciting to see!

And now for the most exciting news for the month of August. . . . .Evan started preschool!! Evan started preschool two weeks ago and he is LOVING it! A few days before school started we went to his open house and met his teacher, her assistant and Evan's aide and had a chance to explore the classroom. Evan was very happy with what he saw and I was very hopeful that his transition would be a smooth one. I had decided to drop him off and pick him up for the first week of school because I didn't want to overwhelm him with too many changes at once. The first day I dropped him off he cried when he realized that I was leaving. His teacher told me that he only cried for a minute or two and then a few times on and off during class. He was ecstatic when he saw me waiting for him after school. He cried again the next day when I went to drop him off, but again, his teacher told me that it only lasted a minute or two and that he didn't cry at all during the rest of class. Again, he was so excited to see me when I went to pick him up and his teacher told me that he had mentioned wanting to ride the bus. Evan and I had talked about the bus and he had always been excited about it, but I was still a little nervous about pushing too much on him too fast. He talked about riding the bus non-stop for the next two days until I finally gave in. I called transportation and told them that we were going to give it a shot. When I told Evan he was going to get to ride the bus he was thrilled! Because he takes his wheelchair to school, he has to ride the wheelchair lift on the bus. He was NOT happy about that part! But his bus drivers told me that he LOVED the bus and only cried on the lift (and I don't blame him. . .I rode the lift with him the first day and it's a little disconcerting!). All-in-all he is having a fantastic time at school and on the bus. He has learned that mommy and daddy will ALWAYS come back and I am very, very impressed with how quickly he has adapted to all of these new experiences (these two things, along with gaining confidence and independence, were the main reasons we felt he should go to preschool). Needless to say, we are SO proud of Evan and so excited for all this year has in store for him!
Evan's First Day of School!

Waiting for the bus!

The week before school started, we made our first trip to the ER for an injury! I consider us lucky that we were able to make it 3.5 years with this rowdy bunch without serious injury! Maren was the victim, a pillow, wielded by Uncle Chris, the attacker! I had taken Evan to OT that morning and had dropped the other kids off with my younger brother and his friend for babysitting. While I was gone, a pillow fight ensued between Maren and Chris, a favorite pastime of theirs! Apparently Chris had whacked Maren in the back with a pillow which knocked her off balance and sent her flying head-first into the corner of the wall. I arrived home a few minutes later to find a very macabre looking Maren (blood on her face, shirt and caked in her hair) and a very repentant little brother! He had cleaned the wound and loving placed a band aid over it (in her hair I might add. . .it was cute). I removed the band aid and it only took a slit second for me to determine that it was going to need stitches. The cut was about an inch and a half long and fairly deep. I quickly questioned my brother about her state of consciousness and mind following the accident, reassured him that everything would be just fine and that would likely not lose his position as favorite Uncle and then loaded Maren into the car and headed back to Children's (Evan has his therapy at Children's as well). My daughter is a beast! She did not so much as shed a tear the entire time. In fact, she was practically indifferent to the entire experience! She could've cared less when the nurses cleaned the wound and didn't even flinch when the doctor placed four stitches in her head! I think she was just enjoying being the center of attention, not to mention the fact that she walked away with a new pair of hot pink sunglasses, a Popsicle, a coloring book and crayons and several stickers! And of course, because she had done such a fantastic job, she got to have lunch at the fast food joint of her choice (in this case Burger King). I actually went home hoping that she wouldn't injure herself intentionally in the future now that she knew it provoked royal treatment! But really, WHAT A TROOPER!

After a long, eventful and productive month, we made a road trip to my grandma's house in Kentucky for Labor Day weekend for some rest and relaxation. My younger brother, Ben, attends Morehead State University and works as a trainer for the football team, who happened to be playing my alma mater, Southern Virginia University, that weekend so we took the kids to their first football game (Morehead slaughtered SVU 49-6. . ouch). They loved it (Lukas and Jacob LOVED the game, Evan LOVED the marching band!). The rest of the weekend was spent lounging around, enjoying family and the fact that there was absolutely nothing we HAD to do and nowhere we HAD to be! It was fabulous!

September is shaping up to be just as busy, if not moreso, than August! Joshua, Evan and I will be heading to Shriner's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, PA this Thursday for appointments on Friday. We hope that, after their appointments, we will have a better idea of what the next few months (and years) will bring for both of the boys. We hope to drive home on Saturday and on Monday, Evan is scheduled to have the same surgery Joshua had in May (and our fingers are crossed that this will TRULY be an outpatient surgery this time!). At the end of that week, I will be selling my oodles of children's clothing, toys and accessories at the bi-annual Dayton Mother's of Twins Clubs sale and on the 21st Richard and I will celebrate our 6th Anniversary! I will officially be starting home preschool for the kids on the 22nd, we'll have family in town the last weekend of September and, before we have time to blink, it will be October already! Whew! I need a nap just thinking about it!

Sometime over the course of the next few weeks, I will also be opening my new family blog, From the Trenches of Motherhood, as this blog was really intended to be strictly adoption oriented. I still plan to post here, but most of our day-to-day happenings will be found on my new blog, so stay tuned for the grand opening!

Again, my apologies for the silence and for the hideously long update! I would promise to do better about updating, but I am afraid I might leave you all very disappointed!


Charity Brown said...

WOW!!! You guys have been super busy! That's great that Evan is doing so well! Hopefully surgery will go well and end up being just outpatient! Glad to hear Maren did so well with her little incident. I'm impressed that you handled that so well!!! I think I would have flipped out! And, just so you know, I am planning to go to the MOM sell!! Maybe I'll pick up some of your cute things!! And, one last thing, if you need any help anytime, just let me know! I'd be glad to help with anything!!!! I know you're really busy and you do such a great job with your kids! I'd love to help!

mommajeane said...

Hey Valerie.. we will be at Shriners on Monday the 15 with our Mya and Luke for a second opinion. I am guessing you will be in the same area but will leave before we get there. If you meet a nurse/care coordinator named Debbie Armstrong tell her hi from the Briggs family. She is a very helpful contact of ours there. Hope your trip goes well. They are great.

Jill said...

How exciting - Evan's first day of pre-k! He looks SO CUTE in his clothes! :o)

I've been wondering how well Nick (Keith) will fare in school. He "should" start kindergarten next year - but I don't know if he'll be ready for that or not...Tyler's not eager for him to be in pre-k JUST yet. How is Joshua doing?

Anonymous said...

Hi just a post to say I am a adult who has AMC. But mostly I think of my self as a wife mum ( to 2 biological children) and full time student!!!!! Please give Evan a hug from me. I think you and Richard are fantastic !

Rose K

schoolmother said...

It's great to hear from you.

Jennifer said...

You sound busy and happy! I'm so glad for all the wonderful things you have reported about Evan! I hope you continue to have a wonderful fall! Can't wait to read the new blog!

quiregirl said...

Good grief, are you busy! And how exciting for Evan. Riding the bus has long been the gold standard of cool at our house, too. :)

first lady said...

YAH !!! for Evan and pre-school.

Ute said...

Don't worry about us regarding updates - you have all right to take breaks:)

I just love to check in and read how you all are doing. So, take your time with the updates and I am sure, we all are willing to read to the "long" posts:)

Dunstan Family said...

What agency did you go through for adoption?

Angela said...


We just adopted our little girl from the same orphanage in Ukraine this past April. I would love to talk to you about your experience. I think we also had the same translator.

My E-mail is: