Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month SEVEN


     This is the second month that has seemed to go by a little less quickly...and I'm so grateful for that feeling. If I had to pick a month where I've felt like life was a little more "normal"...this month would be it! Admittedly, I have felt more like myself as a mom. The preceding months were largely a blur with numerous appointments, sicknesses, procedures, and behaviors...and all on little to no sleep. I never want to make light of the blessing that adoption is to our family...but this journey has also been full of the most challenging and frustrating moments in my journey as a parent. Adoption is HARD stuff. I am constantly working to be more patient (and trust me, I am presented with plenty of opportunities to succeed and FAIL at this each day) and give more grace without completely losing sight of how far we've come...because we have come a LONG way since July!
     Yesterday, we had our six month check-up with the IAC at Nationwide. In speaking with the team there, we realized just how well Josiah truly is doing since he's been home. Like re-reading this blog, we were able to reflect on all the growth we're continuing to make together. One of our biggest challenges has been behavior and discipline. Our little boy has quite the IQ (read: smarty pants!) and we've felt a bit trapped in how we can effectively teach him appropriate consequences. But the doctors were in complete agreement with some of the strategies we've used and they seem to be helping Josiah understand how to interact appropriately in daily tasks. For example, we had a stand-off in the church bathroom this morning where he basically screamed and hit me for an extended period of time. Basically, we continue to remind him that hands are for "nice touches" and until he signs "All done" and says "Sorry" we don't move an inch. He also has to ask to be held during this time. He refuses to communicate during his tantrums so we're working hard to fix that response. This boy is stubborn...but so is his Mama! Overall, I feel like this consistency is definitely working! It doesn't make the situation less frustrating or less exhausting...but we're seeing positive change. Whew! Here's a quick recap of our SEVENTH month with Josiah Bug!

     These two cuties are still banana-lovin' fools! In fact, they officially have adopted this word in their vocabularies. Their versions of "banana" are quite different from each other though. Learning two toddler dialects is quite interesting!

     At any given time, these two can be found holding hands, hugging, or  kissing. They are rather affectionate towards each other which melts my Mama heart. They are also more than capable of hitting, antagonizing, teasing, and stealing toys. We've even had a couple biting experiences which is a first for our family! Yowza! I have loved watching their relationship grow. They have such different personalities but they truly compliment one another.

     We tried our hand at some snow-painting! Josiah LOVED it. We've yet to take him out in his snowsuit yet. I hear we may have a chance to try that this week in Ohio!? We shall see. I think he'd enjoy it. 

     Another new trick this month was "snapping" with Mama. This was just the cutest thing. I was snapping to some music in the kitchen one day and I thought my snaps sounded a little louder than usual. I looked over to find Josiah sitting on the chair...moving his fingers...and clicking his mouth. I couldn't believe it. It was precious!

     Josiah basically eats anything we put in front of him now. There are definitely still days of picky-eating but we are so pleased with how well he has adjusted. He's such a copycat so I think he's more willing to try things now. One of his newest favorites...tomatoes! Cooked or fresh! It doesn't matter! He's definitely my first baby to willingly eat these.

He loves wearing Daddy's hat...and buckets.


     And we're having some success at using the potty! It's not something I'm trying to push by any means...but I think he'll be ready in the next couple months! M&Ms are this little boy's love language! His sister might need a bit more convincing.

     I can't wait to celebrate Josiah's SECOND birthday at the end of this month! I know he'll love a day where it's all about HIM. Ha! Who can blame him? We are definitely going to celebrate this special day with a lot of FUN. That is for sure. Thanks for reading, friends!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month SIX

     I have to say...this felt like a slow month- for me at least- but in all of the best ways! We've officially held our boy for half of a YEAR! That fact alone seems crazy to think about...but here we are again with a quick recap of Josiah's SIXTH month as a Murray.
     My favorite accomplishment for Josiah this month was the word "MAMA!" Selfish of me? Yes. :-) He has never used or been able to repeat this word when we've tried. The m sound is tricky for him and I don't think he was connecting it all together...but this month...he figured it out! I'm his MAMA! And he even calls for me- which totally melts my heart.
     Also, we made yet another change in the sleep department this month. But it's been such a positive one! We took Josiah's crib mattress OUT of his crib and moved it into our bedroom. He now sleeps on his mattress...on the floor...beside his Mama. And bedtime is no longer dreaded each and every night. He loves it. He even naps there with some consistency! We're still dealing with some pretty intense night terrors and/or tantrums in the middle of the night...usually from 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m...but overall, it's been a big improvement. It's so encouraging how this change has positively impacted his eating too. We have far less trouble at mealtime now. Yay!

Josiah tried footy-jammies for the first time (Thanks, Grandma!) and seems to like them. He's our first kiddo that hasn't had to shed them in the middle of the night due to overheating. His other siblings are giant hotboxes so we could never put them in these kind of jams. Ha! So cute! It's really made Emmaline want to try on some of Sydney's old footies. But she can never make it the entire night. Sooooo we skip them. 

Josiah LOVES helping with the laundry. He also enjoys being in just a diaper and thinks he is pretty hilarious running around the house in such attire.

He's still good for at least one high chair nap and one floor nap per month. Haha!


He now eats an entire banana by himself! Huge sensory victory!!!

     A BIG set of firsts for our Josiah were Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, and three family Christmases. Oh my! Here he is at Christmas Eve service with his big bro. Josiah is still pretty cooperative with smiling for pictures. His younger

Christmas morning started out extremely rough for our little guy. He was breaking a pair of sunglasses so I had to take them away...which triggered a complete meltdown. Eventually, we could distract him and he got to enjoy opening his presents wrapped in the cutest panda wrapping paper! It was the first Christmas we've had in a long time where we haven't had to leave the house for another get-together. Such a BIG blessing for our family this year!

This boy LOVES putting things into containers so this popcorn set was right up his alley!

     Another FIRST this month was a professional hair cut. I know. Finally, right?! He did really well! Of course he sat on my lap, but I expected that...the cut almost put him to sleep! It was very relaxing for him. Here he is showing me his "good" side. 

Just ordinary shenanigans with his siblings...

We were so, so grateful to have a vacation from work and school this Christmas season so that we could spend quality time together as a family. It was much needed in the rush of life as of late! We also started "warm fuzzy" jars for Sydney and Landon as a way to notice all of the positive things they do each day. It's been a tough transition for them and tensions can be pretty high with all of the attention and care Josiah (or Emmaline) needs. Both big sibs filled their jar so Eric and I took them out on a movie date! And we stopped at their favorite place in the world...Barnes & Noble. Cookies, hot chocolate, and a new chapter book made for two HAPPY kids! P.s. If you haven't seen Ferdinand...go. It's completely adorable.

We are looking forward to the New Year and expect 2018 to brings its challenges and setbacks. But we're looking forward to coming out on the other side with new perspectives, changed attitudes, and overall growth for the better! I also expect this to be the year of "potty training." Oye. Our babes are going to be TWO in February and March. HOW!? Celebrating our two, 2 year olds will be quite the adventure! I'm already seeing plenty of toddler tantrums these days. Actually, make that double the tantrums. I did choose a word for 2018 though...and that word is patience! Suits me just right...don't ya think?! This Mama is going to need a whole lotta patience. And coffee. Ha! Thanks for following along, friends!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month FIVE

*I have to note that every single time I get out this blanket...he comes over and sits down...and then looks up and smiles while I drag over a chair. Golly, he's such a genius. Thanks for obliging your Mama, Bug!*

     Technically, yesterday marked FIVE whole months with our Siah Bug. And if I'm being completely honest...I just couldn't bring myself to try and write a post for this month. While all months have had their challenges, I think this past month was the most exhausting for us- both physically and emotionally. Exhausting not in the form of doctor visits, but rather in the form of s.l.e.e.p.  I'm typically a person that can go on very little sleep...but this last month met me with pure exhaustion. There were nights when I was getting maybe a couple of hours of sleep at most. And those sleepless nights were happening consecutively...with no end in sight. *We even went to Urgent Care a few weeks ago because I was convinced he had an ear infection due to the sleep struggles. But alas, no ear infection...yet.*
     For the past four months, I've co-slept with Josiah. The first month of crib-sleeping was miserable and no one was sleeping. And we saw immediate relief with co-sleeping since that was what we did in China too. However! Co-sleeping with Josiah is actually more draining than any of my other newborn experiences with Sydney, Landon, or Emmaline. You see...when a newborn can meet their needs by diaper changes or feeding or rocking. When Josiah cries, there really isn't any meeting of his needs. He doesn't want held. He doesn't want milk. Or water. No new diaper. He just screams. And screams. And screams. For sometimes hours on end. We've read a lot about night terrors and I definitely think that is a legitimate possibility. But it seems that something else might be going on...which is why we were SO excited for his BAER procedure today.
     Eric and I missed several alarms this morning, but thankfully, we got out of the house by 5 a.m. to drive to the hospital for a 6 a.m. show with both Josiah and Emmaline in tow. We waited two hours before going back and beginning the sedation...this time Josiah had to be put under using general anesthesia. The "why" behind this different plan is long and involved and I had to be Mama Bear more than I cared to be over the course of several phone calls...but we kept our appointment in order to get answers sooner than {even} later and trusted God that He would see Josiah through this procedure with the same ease as Josiah's MRI sedation. And God truly did. Josiah did very well waking up from the anesthesia and we were pleased with his results. The ENT ended up putting tubes in both ears because Josiah had quite a bit of thick fluid behind his right ear drum (Was this causing our HORRIBLE sleeping again?! Definitely possible!). His left ear drum passed with flying colors under all frequencies which was a huge answer to prayer because this has always been his problematic ear. The right ear started off really well during the BAER...but the audiologist ran into trouble when his ear started draining so she couldn't get it to show normal hearing. She did not feel he was likely a candidate for hearing aids and thought the tubes were going to be our answer to all of Josiah's failed hearing tests. YAY! We're going to check into some speech therapy just to make sure we're not falling behind during this crucial language development stage. And we'll do a hearing test on the right ear in a few weeks to see if the audiologist can feel good about what she's getting the right ear to do.
     Here's our boy when I finally went back and waited for him to wake up. Admittedly, I cried when they put the mask on him and watched him scream with the initial sedation. He's been through so much. Seeing him so peaceful in the crib melted my heart though. The nurses kept commenting on his perfect little lips. <3

     My biggest complaint about today was the fact that we weren't working with a pediatric sedation team like we were for his MRI. If you remember from my last post, Josiah had the most successful IV stick to date because they were willing to listen to me and use an ultrasound machine to find a good vein. Of course, he still didn't like it...but it was one poke and success. I shared these same concerns and suggestions to our anesthetist and she claimed that because Josiah would be asleep he wouldn't feel anything anyway. Um...last time I checked...he wasn't a testing subject to experiment with?! I had to get my Mama Bear suit on to inform her that whether he "felt" it or not... I did NOT want her poking around his arms several times before finding a vein. She assured me they would take great care of him...and that the medicine usually made veins "plump" up. Long story short...his veins don't "plump" up ever and now our boy has some bruises on his hand from FAILED IV pokes. I will definitely be sharing my complaints with the powers that be. Ugh. Mama knows best. All in all, it was a LONG day but we're so hopeful that these tubes will help Josiah in so many ways! And maybe we can all sleep? Because we can't understand how our son is even standing most days. It's affecting him in big ways too!
     Now...since the sleeping was so bad this month...we finally decided to try the crib again this past weekend. His screaming fits were waking up the rest of the house so we had nothing to lose. The first night didn't go so well with crying and constant about stamina! Not good. But eventually, he fell asleep. CIO is a huge no-no (probably to many non-adoptive parents...but definitely!!!!! for adoptive parents) so that was hard...but honestly, living on such little sleep as a parent isn't healthy either. Patience and grace don't exist with sleeplessness. The second night in his crib was better...and last night...was basically a dream! He watched Emmaline and took her lead. He cried a bit...but would look over at her and see her laying down...and then realize he was supposed to do the same. HUGE breakthrough! (I told Eric that at this point...if Emmaline asked for a pony...I'd give it to her! We love you Sugar Bear! And Mommy and Daddy owe you big time for all of your great modeling. Haha!) I should note...that all 3 nights...Josiah slept through the ENTIRE his crib. So while it did take some crying...we have felt mostly positive about tackling the crib again. Here's praying this streak continues. And if it doesn't, hopefully I'm in a much better state to handle the incessant crying and blood-curdling screaming.
     Eating is still inconsistent, but he's getting better at eating fruits for us. The textures don't seem to bother him as much. He'll eat a whole banana is one sitting so that's improvement. This is still definitely a trigger for his tantrums though. We're trying to find a happy medium and not die on EVERY single hill. But, he also can't live off of cheese puffs...which is a bummer for our cheese puff-loving boy. Truth.
     Here's a recap of some other things that happened this month! Not pictured: A SECOND hair cut by Mommy. I know, I know. I said I'd never...but we had family pictures and we were desperate. It's not as terrible...but I'm not about to make it a regular thing. Promise, Siah! xoxo

The bigs had a living room sleepover this month so that was an open invitation for Josiah to lay down. If something or someone is on the floor...SO IS JOSIAH! Haha!

Josiah enjoyed our Christmas Parade in town! Santa rides down the street on a fire truck and everything...which made this boy's whole face LIGHT UP! It's definitely a face I'll always remember. 

Thanksgiving was at our house this year which was soo helpful for this little boy and not being overstimulated. Such a blessing! (Thanks, Ma! ;-) You can have it back next year. xoxo)

Jingle, our Elf, came and brought the kiddos Christmas jams. The boys match and the girls match. Be still my Mama heart! Josiah and Emmaline love finding Jingle every morning. They're both really good at saying Jingle's name clearly too!

Josiah LOVED decorating the tree. He would cup both hands around each ornament and grit his teeth and shake. True excitement! Such a sweet FIRST we got to share with our boy this year!

Reading bedtime stories in front of the Christmas tree is a favorite nighttime activity. 

Eating FISH sticks is always a victory. Don't worry...they're #wildcaught. He ate TEN of them though so I was proud...because main dishes are a battle for us. And fish is protein, people! YAY!

     We look forward to celebrating Jesus' birth with Josiah during month SIX. We can't wait to see what he thinks about Christmas and all it entails. The food, the presents, the family. We won't have the luxury of staying home during this holiday season...but we're praying we can support Josiah as needed with all of the extra "stuff" that December brings. It can definitely be an overwhelming time so we'll try and follow his lead. It's been fun shopping for his Four Gifts. Sydney and Landon helped me pick out his "Want" already and we can't wait for him to see it. 
     Enjoy this December, friends. I pray you're able to relax and appreciate the slowness at times. That is so important for me to remember in this season of go, go, go. Blessings!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hands Full, Heart Full: Month FOUR


     Months keep getting faster...and life has seemed to move at a similar pace. Work is busy. School is busy. Home is busy. Life is busy. I'm sure I'm just taking a number in this game called LIFE. But! Here's a quick peek at what month FOUR looked like for our family of six. Can I remember anything that's happened in the last few weeks?! We'll see!
     The beginning of the month meant big things for our little boy. Josiah was sedated for an MRI so we could have accurate and updated scans of his brain. China would not share Josiah's previous CT scans so we merely had a diagnosis of his special need based on their report. After his scare in month ONE, we needed to see this MRI to determine a plan of care and whether his diagnosis was accurate. Josiah had to get an IV which was the part I was looking forward to the his past experiences have been nothing short of horrific. Our sedation nurse was amazing though and listened to me when I shared my concerns about his IV. His veins have been near impossible to find in the past so she didn't hesitate to use the ultrasound machine to find a viable vein and it worked SO WELL! Now, don't get me wrong...he hated it and screamed like a banshee per usual...but it didn't take more than 1 poke. VICTORY! And again, the nurses commented on his screaming stamina. That seems to be a recurring comment for our little guy. Yikes.
     When Josiah was done with the MRI, he snapped back to reality rather quickly. In fact, he wanted to run around immediately...except for the fact that his head felt like a cannon ball and he had zero head control. That made things interesting. The nurse let us bring all of our "baggage" down to the main floor with a red wagon since we had Emmaline too. Neither kiddo wanted to ride in the our diaper bags got a luxurious ride. Eventually, Josiah wanted to sit in after it was all said and done and we were ready to go. Ha! We got the MRI results back and his diagnosis (per China) was confirmed. He has a rare brain malformation. We were fully aware of this need when we said yes to his file. Thankfully, he is not showing any negative effects right now. We'll continue to monitor his behavior and ability to learn as he grows. We may find that reasoning or other critical thinking skills are difficult for him. Or we may not. Only time will tell. We are grateful for a positive report and know that God has our boy in the palm of His hand.

     It was nice to have the rest of the MRI day to relax with these two goofs. They do enjoy each other's company quite a bit!

     Josiah always plays "doctor" when he comes home from one of our many, many visits to a medical facility. He's getting quite handy with a stethoscope. 

     Here he is being "one of the big kids" and watching a little Family Feud with mom and dad. He is the definition of "monkey see, monkey do"...and sometimes it's adorable...and sometimes it's not. ;-) This would be one of those adorable times.

     Josiah was supposed to have another procedure called the BAER done along with his MRI. During this procedure, they'd hook up a computer to both ears and go through a series of sounds at all ranges to figure out where Josiah's exact problem is from his brain to his ear. However, when the nurse went to check his ear canals using some thingamajig...she wasn't getting a lot of movement from either ear. I told her this was considered "normal" for our boy and we've never had anything BUT no movement. That's why we were here in the first place. But alas, she had to call the audiologist who did a few tests of her own and determined that his ears were not healthy enough to conduct the test. I was...what you might call...frustrated. Josiah had just finished a 10-day medication for an ear infection. At this point, he had been on three different antibiotics for ear infections...we were at FOUR ear infections in three months (his first one was in China and we didn't know). Poor boy! Admittedly, I cried and our superhero sedation nurse swooped in and told me she'd make sure we had a game plan before we left. To make this long story slightly shorter, we made a series of phone calls to our ENT who, in fact, scheduled Josiah for a BAER procedure in December. This means more sedation. He'll also have an ear exam done while sedated so hopefully we can get answers as to why he isn't passing any of his hearing tests. I was not a happy Mama Bear with that audiologist who did not even consult our ENT. Thankfully, he handled the sedation very well so we are praying that we have a similar experience in December.
     Other highlights this month include: Josiah's first trip to Leaders Farm...complete with goat-feeding, giant slides, and cinnamon sugar donuts! Donuts not pictured. We ate them too fast. 

     Josiah also got to experience Sydney's 8th birthday which meant he spent four hours last Saturday with five eight-year old girls. Can you stay overstimulated?! The girls absolutely LOVED Josiah (and Emmaline too). And Josiah loved them equally as much. But we're noticing that he definitely has a limit when it comes to stimulation. We've had to pull back in a few areas in order to control this a bit more. For example, we've not ever been much of a "tickling" family because I, personally, hate being tickled. So I don't tickle my kiddos. The only time we ever tickle Josiah is if he's throwing a tantrum and needs the extra sensory. It can usually snap him out of it. If we tickle Josiah at any other time, he becomes overactive and out of control. It's hard to calm him down. I've also taken a break from going to second service at church with Josiah because we haven't put him into the nursery yet...and having him in Sunday School with me means he runs around the room going up to anyone and everyone. Again, this can all be good and normal stuff. But for our boy, it gets to be too much and can affect his mood and behavior for the rest of the day. We're still learning each day about what is too much!

To wrap up our fourth month with Josiah, we went trick-or-treating with the kiddos. Josiah and Emmaline were Mickey and Minnie. I got zero good pictures because...they're toddlers...and Josiah felt LESS than amused about a costume. See proof below.

     Luckily, after about twenty minutes of screaming and crying, he warmed up to his plump mouse body and decided to try this door-to-door thing. Once he learned that food was being passed out, it became a little more interesting. Actually, he loves to stand on the back of our sit-and-stand stroller so that in itself was entertaining. It was super cold so we almost left the babes with Grandma H. but we decided to give it a try with the whole gang. And we survived! Emmaline LOVED walking on her own and carrying her pumpkin. Josiah loved eating snacks the best. And family pictures are a struggle. For real.

     Sleep has seen some improvement, but nothing is consistent. Josiah always gives us at least one terrible week of sleep where it's incessant screaming throughout the night. I'm fairly certain he has an ear infection right now as sleep has started to worsen again. Last night, he took more than two hours to fall asleep after not napping AT.ALL during the day. How is that even possible?! I am the one who puts him to bed and the consistency has seemed to help...but it also means I'm lucky if my contacts are taken out and my teeth are brushed because he takes so long to fall asleep and I dare not leave the bed to do ANYTHING. Most times, he falls asleep directly on top of my head. 
     We're also continuing to work on eating. We learned that Josiah LOVES fish. (And Emmaline loves tartar sauce.) Haha! He isn't a great eater for us and will refuse to eat much except yogurt. It's still trial and error with him at mealtime. 
     We are hopeful for a great month and more progress. We'll have Thanksgiving in a few weeks and that definitely has the potential to be an overstimulating experience for Josiah. And then there's Christmas and all the stops that usually entails. We have definitely found that sometimes we just have to say "no" when it comes to certain things. It just gets to be too much for all of us.
     As always, we appreciate your prayers. I'm convinced that they have kept me somewhat alive and sane. My excessive amounts of caffeine each day could also be helping. ;-) But thank you, thank you for following along and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. This is the hardest thing we've ever done...but it's worth it. We know that. But it doesn't take away the fact that it is a daily grind of HARD stuff. Until next month! 

P.s. We got to spend a quick session with our dear friend, Suzy, who took our adoption announcement pictures years ago! She captured some sweet moments of our little family. The babes were NOT their smiley selves and none of our tricks seemed to be working. Stinkers. But Suzy always seems to catch some great shots! xoxo