"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do.
God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know,
and holds us responsible to act." Prov 24:12

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sasha Is On A Roll

Good golly... Sasha has been on a roll these last 12 hours! Not only did he eat pasta out of my hand today but tonight he did something else extraordinary. After dinner, we had family movie night. When Sasha saw his dad opening a bottle of water, he yelled "Daddy! Daddy!" We asked if he wanted the water... never thinking in a million years that he would say yes. But he did and then he did something he has NEVER done before... he drank out of the water bottle and loved it! He loved it so much that he drank almost all the water! He did not want to stop.

This is extraordinary because Sasha is very stubborn and very particular about what he drinks and how he drinks. He only wants milk. He hates it (well at least he did) when we give him water. He will only drink water if he is extremely thirsty (which was not the case tonight), otherwise he will just take a sip and push it away angrily. So the fact that he asked for water tonight and then drank so much of it was just crazy! Also he will only drink from things that have been Sasha approved, which is either the type of sippy cups we started him on when he first came home last year or the straw cups he has since graduated to the last few months. He will rarely drink out of anything else. But tonight that all changed! And he did such a good job with the water bottle. He knew exactly what to do which can't be easy for a child who only drinks out of sippy cups or straws. So for us, this was quite an extraordinary night! Thank you for keeping us in your prayers... it has made such a difference! Here are a couple pics of his newest accomplishment.

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for all the advice, encouragement and support so far!!! It has helped a lot to just hear your stories and to read all the different ideas posted. There must have been a lot of prayers too for Sasha and our family last night because he did something quite extraordinary today (well, extraordinary for us anyway) and he wanted to share a video of him to show everyone. Thank you again!

Oh, and this is what the KLOVE Encouraging Word of the Day was today when I opened my email. Funny how things work like that!

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.
~ Proverbs 19:20

Friday, June 24, 2011

Food & Eating... So Many Issues, Help Please

This was a hard post for me to write because I have a hard time asking for help. But I have been putting it off long enough so here goes. Sasha has been home for just over a year and we are still having so many issues surrounding his eating habits and food. I honestly thought it would have gotten better by this time... well to be fair, it has gotten better but it is still extremely difficult. Out of all the issues he could have come home with after being institutionalized for the first 18 months of his life... this is really the only one he has and for that we are grateful. But it is still very difficult and now I am turning to my blog for some much needed advice. I don't even know where to start because there are just so many things. Please if anyone has any ideas at all about any of this... either ideas about helping or just if you have been in the same position and want to give some support... please, please just leave a comment. I would greatly appreciate any help and encouragement we can get.

I know that as you are reading this, some might think that Sasha is just trying to control the situation or us... which I am sure he is to an extent. But when it comes to food, especially when you have a child that is so emotionally sensitive about everything involving food, there is only so much you can do in terms of being strict. We have also tried to get help from our OT and another OT that specializes in issues such as Sasha's to no avail. We are basically on our own and that is why I am asking other adoptive parents out there for help. So please, I welcome any and all advice and encouragement at this point. Here are the main issues we face on a daily basis...

*Sasha still refuses to have any independence at the table. At the beginning, I completely understood this. He needed to gain our trust and we were more than willing but now it has been over a year and I am a little frustrated. I am frustrated that he simply does not want to do anything himself. He can drink out of his cup himself but he won't. Even if the straw is in his mouth, he will not drink unless we get involved. He will scream and yell help or please until we give in. Most of the time we don't but honestly, when he is begging "please" and "help"... sometimes it is hard.
Usually, if he doesn't stop the behavior, we just send him to his room for a timeout but truthfully, it is not working. He will stop crying and then when we bring him back to the table, it starts all over again. This has been going on for months and months and months... a long time! He gets so dehydrated during the day so it is hard when we see him refusing to drink when we KNOW he can. He will on occasion but it is few and far between.

As far as eating independently, we are not even close. Not one bit. He has refused any sort of adaptive device his OT or we have made him. He will not even try to feed himself with or without an adaptive device. I would think at some point he would want that independence. Am I wrong to think that he would want this, especially after a year of being home?

*Sasha still refuses to chew. He knows how to chew. He loves his chew stick he got from his OT and displays, through this activity, that he knows how to chew. But when it comes time to eating, he just won't. He will mush stuff around in his mouth and then if it gets stuck on the roof of his mouth, which it often does, he will then ask for some milk to help wash it down. But he will not chew it. This is still limiting his food choices greatly. If he thinks he won't like it or that he will have to chew too much he does one of two things. He spits it out right away or he locks his mouth shut so we can't even get him to try it. There is only so much yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese, pasta (you get the point) a boy can have... he has got to graduate to other stuff at some point.

*Sasha will not take any food by hand. Everything, absolutely everything, has to be given to him on a spoon. If we try to feed him things by hand, he locks his mouth shut and refuses to open it. We have tried everything from the baby things that just melt in your mouth, to cookies, to ice cream, to sandwiches... seriously, we have tried it all and to no avail. How do you get a child to try things when they just lock their mouth shut or spit out the food (if we are extremely lucky to actually get it in his mouth)? I know some people might say just don't give in and do this day after day but I have two problems with this thinking when it comes to Sasha... he has too many, way too many, emotional issues with food to do this (we don't want to see him regress) and secondly, honestly I think he is so stubborn that he would literally let himself starve rather than eat something from our hand. Seriously!

*He still gets very emotional about food but I will say this is actually getting better, thankfully. There are not as many tears now. He knows he can trust us and has really made leaps and bounds in this area. But does this ever fully go away? Or do some kids always have these emotional issues with food that they just can't get rid of because they were so psychologically damaged at such a young age in regards to food? We, well actually I, think that if we are too strict with him regarding all these issues that he will actually regress in this area. Am I right to fear this?

If you have stayed with me through this long, personal post I really, truly appreciate it. Any advice and/or encouragement would mean so much to me. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pool Time!

Hanging out at the pool... we love summer!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gotcha Day!

Yesterday Sasha celebrated the 1st anniversary of his Gotcha Day with his forever family! Words are not enough to express just how much we love our baby boy. He is truly a treasure in our family and we continually feel blessed that we were called to be his family. Happy Gotcha Day Sasha Hunt James Toomey!

This WAS Sasha's life. A life spent alone in a crib with no family to call his own.

This IS Sasha's life. Here he is with his forever family on the 1st anniversary of his Gotcha Day. No longer left alone in his crib, he is now embraced by the love of his forever family and he has flourished! He continues to amaze us each and every day.

Sasha on his Gotcha Day last year, leaving the only life he ever knew at the orphanage to start the life that God knew he deserved with his forever family.

Sasha outside his OWN house with his OWN family that loves him SO much.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heath Turns 5!

I cannot believe I am even typing this. This past week, our baby boy turned 5 and became more of a big boy rather than a baby boy! For some reason, 5 seems like a big change to me... the first real birthday where big things happen and change. He will be going to school in a few months now that he is 5! How much more of a change can that be?!

Heath Toomey, we love you so much. You are our first born and the moment you were born, our lives literally changed forever. That first moment I saw you, that first moment they set you on my chest... I remember it like it was yesterday and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about. That is the moment my life changed forever! That is the moment when I felt a love explode inside of me that I never even knew was possible... an all encompassing, unconditional love like no other. You changed our lives 5 years ago Heath and you continue to change our lives each and every day.

You are so unbelievably brilliant and you continue to amaze us with the things you do and the things you come up with. I heard a quote once that said "Lawyers are not made, they are born". Yep, that pretty much sums up you. You will argue any point from the smallest trivial thing to the most important concept of God and you will do it with assertiveness, confidence and intelligence. While this trait may wear on us on a daily basis it will serve you well in the future if we continue to guide you in the right direction.

You have a gift Heath Toomey and I hope and pray that you channel all that energy, all that gusto, all that intelligence for the good. You have such a big heart and are so loving and kind to your family that I have no doubt in my mind that you will do great things throughout your lifetime. I am so proud of you and I love you with all of my heart baby boy. You and your brothers are the lights of my life! Happy 5th Birthday Heath Toomey!

Showing everyone your new 5th birthday shirt. I think you liked it!

On the way to some early morning birthday fun at the zoo with Gram!

Getting ready for the 3D movie about baby animals at the zoo. Boy do we look good!

Opening some presents. I think you might be a little happy!

Opening the "Hogo" stick from Gram & Pa... the one you had been "training" for the last 6 months!

A view of the prehistoric cake I decorated for you. You had nicely asked that I decorate a cake with a Pliosaur in the ocean, and a super croc on land that is about to attack a Pterosaur on a nest. Well, there you have it!

A Second View...

Your first look at the birthday cake. You were so cute because you were very excited to tell me how much you liked it but you just had to point out the mistakes as well. For instance, "I really like it mom, I really do but technically a Pliosaur would never eat an Elasmosaurus. But that's okay, I really do like it." You are too funny Heath Toomey!

I am so glad we got that Slip n Slide for the 100* weather that evening. You all had such a great time playing in water!

Keeping cool...

Good friends celebrating a very special boy!

Playing in the castle...

Ya'll look so cute in this picture. You can just tell you were having so much fun outside right before this.

I love this picture of you and your friend. I love the way he is looking at you... very sweet.

Here's to another year my love... Happy 5th Birthday!