Friday, March 30, 2007


This week we've made a few more strides in development. Emily has been bending her knees more and gets herself into a crawling position most of the time as I set her down on the blanket to play. I've seen her get into that position a couple of times on her own, but she's still not sure what to do once she's there.

Yesterday, I saw her feed herself for the first time (on purpose). When we eat meals in the high chair we usually wrap up by trying some finger foods. We've been using the snack puffs and they usually get so sticky from her slobbery hands that they stick and eventually work their way into her mouth. Despite this, I haven't seen her intentionally put one in her mouth on purpose. However, yesterday we had her first (and soon to be last) Occupational Therapy session. They used some Cheerios and voila! into the mouth they went after only a few failed attempts. (We'll be adding more Cheerios to our diets soon!)

I say "soon to be last" OT session because I was told yesterday that Emily really doesn't seem all that far behind and seems to be tracking on target for her age group. At our next OT appointment I will be given an overview of things to work on with Emily at home.

This afternoon we had our first Physical Therapy session to see if Emily had catch up work to do in that area. We found out that yes, she has a ways to go. Her muscles in her shoulders, waist, back, hamstrings, and thighs, etc. are unusually tight and she's been finding other ways to get around without using the correct muscles. Her tailbone tends to curve under her when she sits so that's why she hasn't been sitting up very well yet. Her feet also tend to be very tense and when we stand her up she's usually on her tippy toes. Her physical therapist, Laurie, taught me a bunch of different things that we need to work on every day to help her stretch out her muscles. Fortunately, Emily is pretty layed back and lets me work with her on these.

1. When we sit her down on the floor, we're supposed to help her roll her bottom towards her back so it's squarely under her.
2. Every time we lay her down for a diaper change we're supposed to sit her down first and then help her twist to get an arm behind her before laying her down.
3. Also when we change her diaper, we're supposed to hold down one shoulder and using her leg, twist her trunk in the opposite direction and repeat with the other side.
4. Tummy time is the most highly recommended form of play... as opposed to laying on back, jumping, rocking, etc.
5. When we sit on the floor with her, we're also supposed to have her sit on one of our feet or legs and reach down to the carpet to pick up her toys.
6. When she stands, we are supposed to make sure her feet are flat on the floor and that her body is centered over her feet so her tendons stretch out and she develops a good center of gravity.

At our next visit we'll work on adding more mobility to her spine.

I'm happy to know that the problems she has are all correctable as far as we know but it's also frustrating to learn of all these new problems. I wasn't aware that her muscles were so tense and that many of her behaviors are learned from being so immobile in her crib at the babyhouse. She overextends her neck so she can see behind her because she wasn't able to roll over for so long. Doing this seems to work the wrong muscles so it's much easier to lean back than it is to lean forward... which is why she isn't nearly as flexible as most babies. Last month she finally discovered she had knees and now, at 10 months old, she's just now flexible enough to touch her toes and grab onto them occasionally.

Fortunately, she has a loving family and extended family and we'll all work hard to help her catch up. These types of fundamental skills are the building blocks for other skills that will come with time. The goal is to help her now so she doesn't develop more problems down the road.

We have also been working on some sign language. We've been working on the word "more" while we're eating because it's a little more appropriate than grunting when you aren't getting fed fast enough. ;-) The funny part is that the sign for "more" is essentially made by tapping your fingertips from both hands together. Emily will do the sign with a little prompting but she clasps her hands together under her chin like she's ready to pray... or beg for food. If you didn't know better, you might really wonder about us! Hehehe.

Anyway, please keep us in prayer. We pray that Emily will make a smooth and speedy progression through the PT sessions and that we can remember all the stuff we're supposed to do to help her out.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I recorded these a couple of weeks ago but didn't get a chance to upload the video because it takes so long to upload sometimes. Here are a couple of videos of how Emily soothes her gums when she's thrown her teething toys on the ground. It made me giggle.

Speaking of giggles... here's Miss Em at her finest. We actually recorded it before we left Almaty, Kazakhstan with the intent of sharing it with you folks back home. It just surfaced again and I realized it never made it to the blog yet. (ps - the shirt says "Poop on Michigan"!)

PBC Shower/Welcome Home

Our friends and family at Prospect Baptist Church held a baby shower and welcome home party for Emily on Sunday (3/25). She received a lot of presents... clothes, toys, diapers, books, etc. Thank you everyone!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Aunt Shell's Friends?

On March 13th Grandma (Jenni's mom) went with us to visit Aunt Shell's office in Columbus. We had heard that Emily had quite the fan club there and she wanted to meet some of her biggest fans. Here's a synopsis of the visit:

And a special one for Laura!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Where is Kazakhstan?

Here are a couple of pictures I thought I should share...

I still get a lot of questions when we say we just got back from Kazakhstan. Usually the response is, "Kaza-what?". ;-)

Here is a map of the world with Kazakhstan in green. It was previously part of the Soviet Union but achieved its independence in 1991. They are still building their economy and trying to make life better for its citizens.

Emily's caregivers requested this picture when we were close to the end of our visits. We never got to meet the woman holding Emily but she must have been close to her. There are several pictures of just her holding Emily. We got to see the woman in the red shirt about once or twice a week. She would sometimes bring Emily in to our visits after she had been changed and when we went to pick her up after court this particular caregiver was definitely having a tough time saying goodbye. It was bittersweet. But... she did hope that Emily would make us happy and proud parents and that she would be a "good citizen of your country"... which seemed to be a theme with most of the people of Kazakhstan. ;-)

Emily's "Crib" in Uralsk

I found some more pictures this afternoon while I was cleaning up my files and I realized I never posted pictures of Emily's rooms while she was in the babyhouse.

So, for your viewing pleasure here ya go!

This is a picture of the room where Emily slept when we adopted her from Babyhouse #2 in Uralsk. She was in group #2 with 12 other babies that were roughly her age.

This is a close-up of Emily's crib!

Each baby had their own crib with their name on it. In some other countries and other regions in Kazakhstan, babies sometimes share cribs but this was not the case for Emily. She was a big girl and had her own space.

Adjacent to the crib room is the babies' playroom. And from what we can tell, there are 2 large cribs in this room as well as rocking chairs, toys, walkers and other therapy and baby equipment. This is one of the large cribs and they will sometimes hang toys from the "beam" across the top of the crib.

This is another view of the play room and you can see the type of equipment they use with the babies. When I asked if all the babies were rotated through the walkers and got to use them I was told that was sometimes the case. However, many times the walkers were actually used to isolate babies that were biters or hitters, etc. so they didn't harm the other babies.

Hope you enjoyed these! What do you think?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Visual DNA

Before I was a Mom...

I got this in an email today (thanks, Marla!) and thought it would be appropriate to share with all you moms out there. Sorry, I don't know who originally wrote it.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Before I was a Mom I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.

I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.

I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom - I had never been puked on.

Pooped on.

Chewed on.

Peed on.

I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.

I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests.

Or give shots.

I never looked into teary eyes and cried.

I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.

I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put them down.

I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.

I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.

I never knew that I could love someone so much.

I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom - I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.

I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.

I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.

I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom - I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.

I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the
wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.

I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mom.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Celebrate Adoption group

As many of you reading this blog are already aware, Tom and I own The Shepherd's Nook, a Christian bookstore in Marion. Over the past couple of years we have been sharing our adoption progress with the customers that come in and have been very open to talk about our process and adoption status. Throughout that time, we have met so many people in the local community that have had their lives impacted by both local and international adoption. We have met children that have been adopted and adults that were adopted as children. We have been welcomed into this adoption community with open arms since we announced our plans to travel to Kazakhstan to bring home our daughter.

I never would have guessed how many lives are truly impacted by this life-changing commitment. Nearly everyone knows somebody close to them that has been adopted!

A little over a year ago we held a "Pancakes for Emily" fundraiser at All Occasions in Waldo. Our family, friends, co-workers and perfect strangers came out to support what we were doing. We are so grateful to all the people that came out to support our efforts to bring Emily into our family. I wish that all adopting families could have as much support as we have!

Tom and I have been brainstorming some ideas since that event last year. We would like to start up an adoption support group for families and individuals in the area. Some ideas we have for this group would be regular social events, an annual Celebrate Adoption gathering, internet and email support, and more. We would like to help those interested in adoption to make important connections and would like to connect families in the area that have adopted.

If you have any suggestions, comments, would like to join a group like this or know someone who would, please feel free to email me!

Thanks and be blessed!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Help Me Grow follow-up

This morning was Emily's appointment with Help Me Grow to get her evaluation done. They did an ELAP which I "think" stands for Early Learning Accomplishment Profile. Although Emily is 10 mos. old now, from the information they gathered earlier this week, they have said her "adjusted age" is 7 mos. This takes into account that she was born approximately 10 weeks premature and that she spent the first 8 months of her life in an orphanage/babyhouse. So, with this in mind, she should be developmentally where a 7 month old should be.

The evaluation was actually pretty fun for Emily. The girls at the agency played with her and worked with an assortment of toys to estimate how far along she was. They saw her roll over, prop herself up with one hand, pick up some blocks, turn her head for a rattle, pull a toy out of a mat, resist letting go of a toy, pull a blanket off of a toy to get to it, and much more. They also asked us some questions about things we had observed as far as putting words together, mimicking, attachment, anxiety, etc. From their 30 minutes of play (and us chatting) they then scored her results to get an idea of where she stands. I will know more next week when I get the "official" report but for now I think this is what they said.

Physical Development - 6 months (They are encouraging physical therapy to help her catch up.)
Cognitive Development - 12 months (wow!)
Language Development - 7 months
Social Development - 9 months

Again, I will know more about what each of these mean and if I remembered them correctly toward the end of next week.

A little more about Help Me Grow -- It is an agency that helps children from infant to age 3 and they service all families regardless of income level. They provide free evaluations during that time and help families connect to services and other agencies that will assist with their children's development. You can learn more about Marion County's Help Me Grow program at:

There is also very detailed information about Help Me Grow and a ton of resources available through Ohio's Department of Health at:

We've heard nothing but good things about Help Me Grow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

10 Mos. and More Teeth!

Today, Emily turns 10 months old and a certain little someone decided they would like to add some more chompers today! We discovered Emily's 2nd tooth today. She now has 2 bottom teeth coming in. They're still hardly noticeable until you put your finger in her mouth! She has also learned how to bite the spoon when I feed her so it's harder to pull out of her mouth. This makes her giggle.

Emily is still eating very well and is eating just about everything. The only baby food she has refused so far was Sweet Peas but she downed a whole jar of them the following week. She's even getting better at eating "puffs" and we're working on learning how to pick them up and feed ourselves. (Tom and I have it mastered, but Emily still has a way to go.)

This weekend she also discovered her toes when I left her socks off for a while... now they serve as an incentive to sit up longer. After all, it's so much fun to play with those wiggling digits! Emily is doing much better at sitting up. We practice every day. She is now flexible enough and can lean forward enough to sit up on her own once I get her into position but she still gets a little top heavy and wants to flop to the side every now and then. (Remember... Emily was stiff as a board when we first met her and has been making steady progress toward mobility every day.) She loves to stand up and look around. Again, I have to stand her up but as long as I lightly hold on to her waist for balance she will hold the pose. She gets a very proud look on her face when she's standing up!

In other news, we got a little stir crazy this weekend and we visited the Waldo Park when the temperature "spiked". Emily was a little confused about the whole process... hence the weird expression on her face. ;-)

Not the prettiest swingset but it's a swingset nonetheless!

What are you doing to me?

Get me outta here!

Friday, March 09, 2007


There's a clear reason now why our daughter has been slobbering up a storm and putting everything in her mouth. We highly suspected she might be teething but it's for certain now. Emily's first tooth showed up yesterday (3/8). It's on the bottom (left/center).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Visits with Kael!

Last Friday, we had our friends Keith and Jessica over to meet Emily and they brought their daughter, Kael (rhymes with Gayle). Kael and Emily were intrigued by each other and wanted to touch each other.

Finally some more photos!

I just realized earlier this week that I have posted about 5 entries without pictures. Today will make up for that!

When Dad comes home from work they spend a little time playing together and giggling. Emily likes to rough-house with her Dad quite a bit and usually begs for more!

And... for those of you curious about sprouting hair... this one's for you! Her hair has more than doubled since we first saw her!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Surprised to say the least...

This morning I woke up hearing my daughter singing "Jingle Bells" over the baby monitor! Or so I thought. I woke up just a hair before my alarm clock sounded and clearly heard a little girl singing "Jingle Bells"... in the middle of the night! After a few seconds, I remembered that we had stuff playing in Emily's room before we went to bed and had forgotten to turn it off. The weird thing is... I don't remember seeing "Jingle Bells" on either of our iPods!

Hmmmm... This mom's going to have to do a little investigative work!
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