Sunday, July 29, 2012

Can we fit anything more into a week?

Our "week" began last Saturday. The Children's Ministry at our church hosted a cookout for the kids at the waterslide. Typically the lifeguards are not all that friendly however, our fearless leaders invited the hungry young lifeguards to eat with our group and they extended the time at the waterslide and they were super nice. So here is Mariah and me "rocking" (Jeremy's term, not mine) our sunglasses. Notice the photographer in the lenses?  Yep....the most handsome radio voice I know!

Anywhere there is food, you will likely find Mariah. It was a nice time to be with a small group. I took Mariah to the pavilion and we enjoyed fellowship with several friends. I cannot forget to mention the ducks that wanted to make the pavilion their home. 

It was here that Mariah decided she wanted to be held by Miss April as we were talking. She reached for her right from my arms! I think it made April's day. I believe her words were, "Just wait until I tell my mom that I got to hold Mariah!"  I wish I had taken that picture! Instead I snapped this.....
Here was Mr. Fullerton and a can of very cold Pepsi. Mariah walked over to him and he touched her arm with the cold can. Mind you, in China, every beverage is typically served room temperature. Mariah didn't quite know what to think. Marty enjoyed every second she was with him too. 

Here are a few pics of my other kiddos enjoying their evening of fun! This is Becca's first trip down!
Here is Mikey. Not sure if that name is allowed to be printed. Micah told the kids a year ago that Mommy is the only one allowed to call him that. Not really sure why. But, he will always be my Mikey!
This is a picture of Kyle! Always a kid at heart. He is my teenage sweetie.
Lastly we have Ben. He decided to hitch a ride! Looks like fun!
Sunday morning I stayed home with Mariah but took the other four kids to church. I assume they behaved as they sat with Miss Billie. I believe Micah sat with his friend, Ryan and the others sat with Miss Billie. 

Sunday evening began our first night of VBS. I came to church and helped register the kids for night one! I love kids and it was a sweet time to joke with these kids and talk with everyone there. However, Mariah's behavior took a turn. I believe it was too much for her so I took her to get a bite to eat at Wendy's. I realized that this plan to help with VBS was not going to work. I felt terrible but had to bail out as a helper. Jeremy, on the other hand, was faithful to help. He also played taxi driver as my kids invited the neighborhood. I don't know too many hubby's that would take 4 of their own kids and 4 neighbor kids......alone! But he never complained.

Mariah and I came for only two nights of VBS, Sunday and Wednesday. My cousin, Justin, and family were in visiting family in Pennsylvania. He called and wanted to come to visit us. So, Wednesday afternoon Justin, Heather and their three kids came to visit. They also were visitors to our church's VBS. Mariah and I also came. I think Mariah is getting quite comfortable with us and church. She was happy to roam around the back of the room then got brave. I think she spotted her siblings in their rows and made her way up to them. She wasn't happy when I quickly brought her back to us. 

The picture below shows Mariah as she took Heather's hair clip and was playing. It is an adorable picture but somewhat sad. She came home from the orphanage with some habits that were likely for her survival. We have watched her hide things under her chin. I believe it serves two purposes. One is it just frees up her hands for more "things". Secondly, I think it was a way to save something for later and so that others would not take it from her.
Mariah also wandered over to Daddy while he was taping parts of VBS. He picked her up and you can see her enjoying the music. She has found her voice. She loves to sing!
As the kids were singing the song "OBEDIENCE ", Mariah would not leave Jeremy's tripod alone. She actually made one of the legs collapse! The song choice was pure irony!
Here is a picture of Justin's boys and our boys playing with Star Wars action figures, Legos, and playing Star Wars video games. Then they went swimming!
We have noticed a few things with Mariah that always make us smile. Can you guess what she is up to?
How about here?
Okay......she found a picture of Jeremy and I and carried it around the house kissing it. It was really sweet! Sometimes she kisses with her tongue.
Can you tell she has three brothers? Is there any hope for me to finally have a girly girl? The Nerf Ax kind of negates the sparkles on her top.
Okay....then my parents decided to make a quick visit. Justin, Heather and kids spent the night on Wednesday. Then my parents came on Friday and stayed until Saturday.

My mom surprised me by having me go out to my dad's truck to get a surprise in the back seat. I honestly had no idea what it could be. I opened the door and up popped my oldest sister, Patty! I screamed! I was not expecting that. I knew she was scheduled to work (the hospital called her off).  We had such a nice visit. Patty got to meet Mariah and Mariah enjoyed time with two of her grandparents. We had a cookout on the deck as well. Here we are all squeezed around the table!
Mariah is working on some self-help skills. Let's just say it is a work in progress!
Mom helped with my laundry. She had some help from Mariah as well. As quickly as Mom folded, Mariah unfolded!
We had a very busy week! 

I forgot to mention that Mariah had her first check-up with our pediatrician on Monday. Sadly, I thought the appointment was on Tuesday. I called their office at 1:38 on Monday. Her appointment was for 2pm. I had to wake her from her nap and rush there. I forgot to grab her diaper bag on my way out the door. I'm a little out of practice. It all went well, except for two immunizations. 

Then on Tuesday, Kyle had to go to the doctor's for his allergy shots. He had an allergic reaction to those. 

Never a dull moment at the Kaminski house!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Outside!!!!! The first time we took Mariah outside was a bit overwhelming for her. Two of our neighbors came over and she didn't know what to do with herself. She kept coming over to me to be picked up. Then she wanted down and went over and sat on the porch with a blank stare. So, we have taken a few steps back and we are gradually introducing her to her new world. This moment above was captured by Jeremy as Mariah was picking up some rocks. She was delighted!

The adjustments are coming, slowly. We notice that she seeks refuge in Jeremy and me. That is such a positive for us. She enjoys the kids, but we are a safe haven for her. Now, don't get me wrong, she has a long way to go but she is coming along faster than we anticipated.

We noticed that she refuses strangers. Now, the tough thing about that is we have worked so hard to teach our older kids to speak to adults when spoken to and to be polite. So it is a bit strange that we rejoice in the fact that it may seem she is being rude. I assure you, she is not being rude. Mariah is realizing that Mama and Baba are safe and pretty neat! So please be patient with Mariah as she learns about her new life. She is simply a child. She is not comfortable yet with some of our love. We just pray that during some of these uncomfortable moments, God whispers in her ear and in her heart that it is ok.
Here is one of the very rare moments that she tolerated a hug from any of our kids and even laid her head back. She was about to fall asleep on Benjamin. They were swinging together on the deck.

Mariah is sort of the apple of everyone's eye. Can you tell?
Or how about here?
I forgot to mention.....first time with bubbles. It looks like Kyle is about to kiss her though!
She really enjoyed this!
Does anyone but me notice how our Mikey always has his arms around someone during a picture? Now, Mariah definitely needed to be held down, or she would have run out onto the road. Micah just does it so sweetly.
Mikey really enjoyed a few moments with just him and Mariah. He was pulling some grass and blowing it. Mariah thought it was hilarious! 
So here is our blonde beauty and our Chinese princess! I love this picture!
I want to explain this picture a little. Mariah was supposed to be sleeping but that wasn't happening just yet. She was playing with her Minnie Mouse (check out her left arm). The pillow she is using was made by a sweet lady at our church. Miss Shirley is fighting cancer right now but was determined to make something for Mariah. 

Then notice the pink blanket? My sister asked me a couple of months ago to pick out the yarn for a blanket for Mariah. Tina made this blanket for Mariah and she has used it everyday since our return from China. I am thrilled that she has claimed something as a comfort item. She HATES to be covered up though. I notice that she will always pull her blanket over to play with as she sucks her thumb. So, Aunt Tina.......THANK YOU!!!!
Again, she is supposed to be sleeping! Notice the blanket just pulled over. she will uncover herself in her sleep if I try to sneak in and pull the covers over her. When she is bored, the stuffed Minnie Mouse and her rag doll go overboard. The blanket and pillow stay.

A few of the struggles we are having right now are Mariah's understanding of us coming back. As you remember, she clung to Jeremy in China and had nothing to do with me. Well, now she definitely prefers Jeremy but also loves on me. She struggles with Jeremy coming home from work. It seems as though she is angry with him for leaving. He really has to beg and plead for her to just be civil with him. Here was what I caught today. Jeremy is desperate for her acceptance. Food is the way to her heart!
See, I told you before that she eats between meals. She got into our cereal cupboard and just started munching. That is okay. She needs to realize that food will always be available. This is the other struggle we are having. 

She eats every meal as if it might be her last. She insists on being in her highchair every time we walk into the kitchen. She will fuss until I do and hang onto the tray. She wants to eat ALL.THE.TIME!!

Our international adoption doctor told us that she probably never ate until she reached full. Also, her eating schedule was never deviated from. So, she ate even if she wasn't hungry. This has all contributed to her overeating. We are not making a big deal about it at all and many of these kids outgrow this on their own. So, we pray. Sweet girl, there will always be food here for you!

She is frustrated with the language barrier as well. Her way of dealing with it is to scratch herself or me. She also began to pinch. It is her way of communicating with us. We have to pay attention to those things and respect that she is uncomfortable.

This week she began to say more English words. After a diaper change I give her my fingers and she holds on. I help her up and I say, "Up, up, up!" She has begun to copy me. Just today, she tried to say "eat" but only the "t" sound came out.

She offered me her juice tonight and allowed me to take a drink. This is showing us her compassionate heart. I am so thankful for the small things!

Jeremy came home with a baby gate the other day. Needless to say, Mariah was not at all impressed!
She actually hates the gate. The door to the left in this picture is the  kids' bathroom. Door remains closed! There is another door to the right which you cannot see here, that is our older boys' bedroom. That door is also closed. Mariah only has freedom down the upstairs hallway and our bedroom. She will scream when she sees me grab the gate to put up. Then we saw her lift her leg up (after watching the other kids) and her foot was in the handle of the gate. She is not strong enough yet to pull herself over, but we see that coming. When she is really angry, she tosses everything she can grab and run with from our room, over the gate. Sometimes those things make it down the steps!

Parenting these toddler years again is just as wonderful as it was with my others. I think I am a tad busier though.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus Children's

So we made it to Uncle Don's and Aunt Tammy's house!  Jeremy got home from church Sunday night and we hurried up and ate a quick supper and got on the road to Columbus. Tammy was watching our older four kids for us while we took Mariah to Cincinnati Children's International Adoption Center for her general check-up. Aunt Tammy must have looked fun enough to be okay to sit with on the couch and Uncle Don........well, it was acceptable (in Mariah's eyes) for him to just observe!
So with a blurry picture and all, Mariah was showing that aunts can be pretty special too!

Jeremy and I got up bright and early and got on the road from their house and headed to Cincinnati. Her appointment was for 10am and we got there around 9:20am.

As part of God's plan for our family, we have been to this facility several times. This is one reason why we chose Cincinnati. Micah and Ben have both been to Cincinnati numerous times to see their specialists. This probably explains all why we are so comfortable here. This was a smaller campus than their main hospital but we really liked it here last time and requested an appointment here instead of downtown at the main hospital. We have been to three of their locations.

Mariah is not exactly the best traveler. Even though she got to bed at midnight the night before and was up by 6am, she only slept for the last 35 minutes of the ride from Columbus to Cincinnati. 

Her appointment went well. We saw a social worker who evaluated Mariah's bonding and attachment as well as her adjusting. The social worker was really nice and gave us some pointers on helping Mariah with a few things. Basically, she is overwhelmed. So we have decided to cut back on activity. This is affecting Mariah's behavior and communication with us. 

Mariah had her own interpreter while there. It was funny to watch Mariah as she listened to the interpreter. You could see the wheels turning! I'm wondering what Mariah was thinking...maybe something like, "Wow, I haven't heard someone speak like that to me in a long time!" Anyhow, Mariah never really responded to her verbally but it was obvious she understood what the interpreter was saying. Our interpreter also told us she liked Mariah's hair and in Chin@ they call that "fire cracker" hair. 

The occupational therapist was trying to get Mariah to stack some blocks on top of each other and Mariah just kept playing. When the interpreter requested the same thing.....Mariah stacked all four blocks!  So, we clearly understand there is still a language barrier.
We see that tongue of hers come out quite a bit! Not sure if it is just pure concentration or enjoyment or sensory needs but there is her tongue.
Mariah was funny while in the exam room. Then they left and we waited for the next healthcare worker to come in. Mariah would walk right up to the blue floor tile and not take another step. I think she was afraid of the blue floor! 

The last appointment was with the doctor. Dr. Staat is wonderful!!! She is an adoptive parent and understands the joys and struggles of international adoption. She was the doctor I spoke with while in Chin@. She was super sweet and didn't take long.

The appointments lasted about 3 1/2 hours. We had long since run out of entertainment for Mariah. She was done with her diaper bag of toys and wanted something different. Then they came in with her tb shot. Oh that poor baby. She cried something terrible!

Dr. Staat explained to us that instead of having a mobile toddler, we have a very mobile infant. She will explore anything and everything since it is all so new to her. Absolutely everything goes into her mouth. Including a handful of potting soil from the front porch...just ask Jeremy.

Mariah is globally delayed. That means that she is delayed some in many areas of her development. She has low muscle tone (which we already knew), she has poor oral motor skills and that contributes to her not wanting to chew her food. It is work to chew and she gets too tired and swallows things whole. Mariah's speech is also delayed. Dr. Staat highly recommended that we wait for a few months before any referrals to therapists. We need to get her familiar and comfortable with home first.

We went down for her bloodwork after the appointment. The lab tech came out and explained that they did not have what was needed for the bloodwork. She assured us that we could drive the 20 minutes up the road to Dayton and they could do the labwork. 

We left and drove to Dayton. Let's just say that Dayton is not 20 minutes.........more like 45-50 minutes away. When we got there they apologized and told us that they didn't have the orders and didn't understand why we were told they would. No one could get a hold of Cincinnati so we left and headed back to Columbus praying that we could have Cincinnati fax the order to Columbus Children's.

Cincinnati called my cell phone and we were set to have the bloodwork done in Columbus. So.......8 hours later we were finally sitting in the waiting room at Columbus Children's. Mariah decided to entertain herself by clearing off the shelves in the waiting room.

The other four kids were entertaining themselves as well. They were all telling us that they didn't want to hear Mariah cry.

They finally called us back and we took her back to the lab. There was a little concern that it was too much blood to draw but after some quick math on their part they figured it was fine. They started with her left arm (right arm had the tb shot/test). Halfway through they lost the vein. Unfortunately, they had to draw more blood from her right arm as well.

She screamed and cried! She was soaked from sweating so terribly. Then as a result, I was soaked too since I was holding her. Poor thing. We were glad it was over and to finally be on the road home to WV. Here was Mariah once we got her in the car. Her hair is soaked! Notice the pink camo bandaid in the crook of her arm.

That was our long exhausting day! It certainly was not a fun day. To be perfectly honest, I think Jeremy and I were both a bit grumpy too! 

Did you notice in the above picture that Mariah is eating? She is eating in our car! Jeremy caved in and allowed her that luxury. He felt she had been through enough already!

We stopped to eat at a restaurant on the way home. We had another mom come up to us halfway through our meal and began to ask question about international adoption. She and her husband are very interested and didn't know where or how to start. I jotted down my email for her and a few agencies that have a good reputation and I think I will be hearing from her soon.

Adoption has opened many doors for us. We are passionate about adoption (domestic or international) and it also allows us the opportunity to witness to others. We are able to share our journey and how God worked in miraculous ways to bring Mariah home. 

I have a few adoption friends that are struggling right now. Emily Rancourt and Merideth Toering have little girls that just had open heart surgery. Emily's little one, Lily, was pictured on my Facebook page. She is finally slowly improving. Merideth's little one, which is actually her little sister, Brooke, just had her surgery today. She is doing better but we still covet prayers for these families.

Today we spent the day recovering. My older kids slept in until 10:45! That is unheard of, especially for Ben. I think we all needed to just relax today.

Mariah fell asleep while eating her lunch today. It got quiet and I looked over and this is what I saw.....
Then this........
I took her up for her nap and she slept for almost five hours! I suppose this was to make up for the less than one hour of sleep all day yesterday. She was determined to stay awake in the car.

I am one blessed mommy to call these five kids mine! I love them more than I ever thought possible. We are praying for continued healing of Mariah's "broken heart". She has come so far but still struggles. Every day we can see a slight change in this wonderful creation of God. My heart is overjoyed as I watch her pure delight in so many emptying a box of Kleenexes (sorry, no picture)! 

Or seeing rain for the first time then the giggles as I open the sliding door and let her out to play in the rain....

Or swinging (yes, that is Benjamin)......
First time with bare feet in the grass......
First time with rocks.......
First time playing on the deck (that toy was Kyle's....13 years ago).....
And the first time lying on the floor with daddy......just because he can........
Sheer joy!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you Lord for allowing us the blessing and privilege to be the parents to five absolutely amazing children. Let us always seek Your wisdom and never grow weary in this life You have seen best to fit us.