Sunday, March 31, 2013


Sara's first American Easter was pretty low key--on purpose.  I'm not going to get
on a soap box but I think we can all admit that holidays have become way too commercialized.  It's nice to have a child that doesn't know what she's "missing."  She seemed to know what Easter was when we talked about it but I don't think she had any expectations.

She woke up to an adorable Easter basket from a girl at work.  (How amazing is she?)  It had a bunch of great gifts that she loved.  Almost all of them featured Disney Princesses---a big hit in our house.  Not an ounce of candy in it.  Perfect!
It took her a while to get the hang of unwrapping the presents but she did get it.  (All the gifts she's gotten since she's been home have been in gift bags.)  She didn't want to rip the paper so it took us quite a while to get everything open.

She LOVES any excuse to get dressed up and she LOVES new clothes.  She found it terribly amusing that mommy put a skirt on.  (I rarely wear skirts.)  She was running around me flipping the skirt up and laughing.  If I had known it was going to be the highlight of her day, I would have taken a video.

After church, we went to Laura's house for dinner and an Easter Egg Hunt.  Dinner wasn't a huge success but I refuse to fight with her about food in public.  (I got her to put a green bean in her mouth and she acted like I was trying to kill her.  Seriously.)  

Joleigh was nice enough to leave some eggs behind for Sara.  She's not very good at looking for things.  (I think the vision issues have something to do with that.)  She got much better at it as we hunted.

Sara and her new friend Joleigh.  It's hard to believe Joleigh is only a year older than Sara.  She's so much taller!  Laura and I have both had trouble finding spring jackets for our girls.  Thus, Sara has no coat and Joleigh is wearing a winter jacket.

She definitely loved the jelly bean ones (her mouth is full!) but wasn't at all interested in the ones with pennies.  Silly girl!  After I refused to open any more eggs for her, she started asking other people at the dinner if they would help her.  The girl is determined!

After a busy day and no nap, Little Miss Sara is sleeping soundly in her bed--early!  Tomorrow begins another new phase for her.  I go back to work. Tuesday she starts school.   Time to adjust to our new "normal."  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Eye Update

We went back to the eye doctor today.  Always an adventure with this little one!  She wants to comply but her eyes just seem to be very sensitive.

Her eyes are still irritated but the doctor was able to get a good prescription.  She's definitely going to need some glasses.  We tried on a bunch of frames.  She really seemed to like the pink ones but threw a pair that weren't pink.   (They got to see a bit of the personality that she manages to hide from most people.)  I wish I had taken a picture with some on.  She looks so grown up!!!  I'm really hoping that she buys into them once she realizes how well she can see with them.  Right now, she enjoyed trying them on but wanted to put them all on her head like I do with my sunglasses.

I can't say enough about Meyer Eye Care.  They did a wonderful job with Sara and all her little quirks.  After trying on countless glasses, I asked if they had heard of Specs 4 Us.  They are glasses made specifically for kids with Down syndrome and their tiny noses.  They immediately called the company and have four samples on the way.  What great service!  So, we are going to wait until those come in before we make a final decision on frames.

She does have a congenital cataract in her left eye.  At this point, it's hard to tell how bad it is.  She didn't think it looked very thick and Sara can't tell us how much of her vision is impaired.  The plan is to visit a cataract surgeon for more information.

They dilated her eyes to get a better view.  They gave her some disposable sun glasses but she wasn't interested in them.  As soon as we got in the car, the light began to hurt her eyes.  I gave her my sunglasses but she threw them.  She also threw her snack cup, both shoes, and her socks.  By the time we got home, she was inconsolable.

She tends to call me Papa because she struggles to say the letter M.  In the midst of her wailing in the car, she was definitely crying Mama.  Not the way I wanted to hear it for the first time.  Fortunately, she settled down as soon as we got home.  She's now napping under her comforter.  It's nice and dark in there.

Monday, March 25, 2013

NY with the Fam

While we've only been home a short time, I really felt like we needed to make a trip to NY so Sara could meet almost all of my immediate family.  (She will meet my sister next month.) I go back to work at the beginning of April and she starts school.  I have a feeling things will be pretty crazy until June.

When I book tickets, I always book the cheapest flight.  I always think that $20 is going to make or break my budget.  Here's Sara at 5:15 the morning we left.  I think she'd agree that a few more hours sleep is worth $20.

I asked to pre-board because everything just takes a little longer sometimes.  (Really.  Most of the time.)  As we were boarding, the copilot asked if she wanted to sit in the cockpit.  I warned here that Sara would probably turn some knobs and flip some levers.  She assured me that they had to check them all before we took off anyway.  (There isn't a picture of all the coaxing it took to get her out of that seat.)  

We stopped for lunch after my parents picked us up.  By the time we were done eating, the early wake up call was evident.  She slept from the restaurant to their house.

My brother brought his two girls over to meet Sara that evening.  She and Grace really weren't sure what to make of each other.  Grace wanted to chat with Sara and Sara was not interested.  If anything can bring two little girls together, it's an ipad.

Even Uncle Bryon is smitten with her.

On Saturday, we met up with Jason and Angie at a Zumbathon that another RR family was holding.  They are in the process of adopting a tiny little guy from Eastern Europe.  It was so nice to meet them (and even nicer to know that the fundraising/adopting phase of my life is over.)  

I loved seeing Claudia.  I almost miss the days when I saw her multiple times a week.  She is doing so well.  I love watching these girls grow and change.  I can't wait to see what the next few years hold for them.  (I can't believe this is the only picture I got of her.  Watching Zumba.)  

Sara was not content to watch Zumba.  She is watching the instructor here to figure out what she was supposed to be doing.  At other times, she was right out there dancing.  She's been using a lot more hip wiggle in her dancing since Saturday.  I'm not sure Zumba was a good influence on her.  

After an appearance at the fund raiser, we went to Bounce It Out.  Sara LOVED it.  I couldn't keep up with where she was. I felt like she was getting trampled by the bigger kids.  She was having so much fun; she didn't seem to notice.
 At one point, she was incredibly high in this huge contraption.  I didn't think I'd ever get her out but was able to talk her down.  (I had visions of having to climb all the way up there and bring my screaming daughter out.)  She's the pink dot up there.

She loves my parents two cats.  She's convinced they are dogs and will not be persuaded other wises.  Even as I type, she sitting on my lap saying "Wow-wow."  Good thing they've had years of being tortured by my brother and aren't bothered by her at all.

She also likes grandpa's chickens but from about 4 feet away and while holding mommy's hand.  It didn't help that the rooster went crazy when she walked in.  They are the perfect animal for her.  She can pretend she wants to touch them all she wants but they won't actually let her. She thinks she wants to pet them but she really doesn't.

Overall, I think her favorite part of the trip is her grandpa.  She LOVES him for sure.  She hasn't called him Santa, again.  She does call him Pa though.  

It has definitely been worth packing and traveling again.  She loves my family and I couldn't ask for more support and love from them.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Collage Photos

Here are some collages I've made. Sara did not come from a bad place. She was well taken care of. Watch these photos and see what a little love can do.

These were all the pictures I had of Sara before I met her.  

These were all taken in the first 48 hours that I had Sara with me. 

Passport picture on the left.  Visa picture on the right.  She is not photogenic.  It takes a lot of tries to get a good picture.  Colombian officials aren't into multiple attempts.  

We had the privilege of meeting two other little girls that found their forever families on Reece's Rainbow.  It was God's timing that we all ended up there together.  (Are they not the cutest things ever?  I happen to know of another little girl just like these there that needs a family of her own.)  

All these pictures have been taken since we got home.  She is loving experiencing new things.  I think that the picture in the middle says it all.  The smile goes all the way to her eyes.  

These photos are all from her photo shoot with the photographer behind Changing the Face of Beauty.  She is growing up right in front of me.  Every day. 

World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day 2013.  You might wonder why DS needs it's own day.  After all, everyone knows someone with DS and we all know about it, right?

Well, in this day and age of scientific advancement, a LARGE majority of people who find out that their unborn child has DS choose to abort.  (I've heard up to 90% but I can't confirm that number. There are also a lot people that choose not to find out.)

People need to understand that having a child with Down Syndrome is not the end of the world.  It's not a death sentence for your child or your family.  It's a different life but one that is full of small and large victories; good days and bad; happiness and sorrow.  (Sounds a lot like raising any child.  Doesn't it?)  

The International Down Syndrome Coalition has put together a beautiful video for World Down Syndrome Day.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  (Sara watched this about 10 times and tried to mimic every dance move she saw.  I'm convinced the "dance" gene must be on the 21st chromosome.)  

Here are some of my favorite photos published last year by IDSC.  I'm sure you'll figure out why I love them:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Letters to My Daughter--World Down Syndrome Day

Tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day. This year's theme is I Am Who I Am. Here is my letter to Sara about who she is.


I can't believe we've been home for two weeks. So many times, I felt like this would never happen. Now, it seems like you've been here all along.

I can honestly say that I'm in awe of you. I loved you long before I met you but I had no idea how wonderful you are. You really are amazing.

You are a charmer. People love you every where you go. We were in Walgreens long enough to pick up pictures today and they were all talking about you when we left. You say "hola" to everyone we meet. You can't leave with out a "bye," "ciao" and blowing a kiss. This week alone, you charmed the eye doctor, pediatrician, lab ladies, school staff, Anna, Lauren, and a random lady in Target.

You are a hard worker. You love to help. Today you helped me make the beds, clean the floor, and put away the groceries. I don't even ask you to help, you just like to. (I hope you carry this trait with you into your teenage years!)

You want to learn. If you see me do something once, you want to do it alone. I got you a little chair at Ikea. You watched me screw in one piece and then did the rest yourself. I cracked an egg for you this morning and you then did one perfectly! You are do clever and you are always trying to do new things. I can't wait to see what happens when you are in school!

You are so good about medical things. You willingly let me put eye drops in. You give yourself your allergy medicine. You were so good at the pediatrician, eye doctor, and lab. You tried to do everything asked of you. You even gave them your right arm after they took blood out of your left.

You are sweet and kind. You comfort people who are sad or hurt. You randomly stop playing to give me a kiss. You love to cuddle in my bed before we start our day. You love babies and like to pat and "sush" them.

I hope that, as you get older, people continue to see the real you. You are so much more than an extra chromosome. You are amazing! I am in awe of you!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Random Questions

I've been asked some very, very random questions in the last two weeks.  Some directly related to the adoption.  Some because I've been to more medical appointments in the last week than in the last decade.  Most of them because I speak Spanish to my child in public.  Let's just say that people have no problem asking whatever pops into their heads.  I don't mind answering questions but sometimes they crack me up.  Here are a few that I remember:

Eye Doctor:  Was she premature?
Me:  I don't think so.
Eye Doctor:  Birth weight?
Me:  Oooo.  No idea.
Eye Doctor (looking at me strangely):  Was it a normal pregnancy?
Me:  I think so.
Eye Doctor:  Is she a foster child or something?

Lab Lady:  So, what language is that?
Me:  Spanish
Lab Lady:  So she only understands Spanish?
Me:  Yes.
Lab Lady:  Why would you only speak Spanish to her?
Me:  Because that's what she understands.
Lab Lady: Are you ever going to teach her English?
Me:  Maybe....

Host:  Oh. She's learning Spanish.
Me:  No.  That's all she speaks.
Host:  Oh.
Guest:  Why does she only speak Spanish?
Me:  She's Colombian.
Guest:  I don't know what that means.
Me:  She's from Colombia.
Guest:  Gives me a weird look.
Me:  The country in South America?

Receptionist:  Name?
Me:  Sara
Receptionist:  Birthdate?
Me:  I tell her.  
Receptionist:  Religion?
Me:  Ummmmm...Christian.
Receptionist:  What kind of Christian?
Me:  The kind that doesn't interfere with my medical treatment.
 (Good thing I had just seen the Grey's episode where the Jehovah's Witness couldn't get a blood transfusion.)  

Different Receptionist:  Name?

Me:  Sara
Receptionist:  Birthdate?
Me:  I tell her.  
Receptionist:  Race?
Me:  Does it matter?
Receptionist:  Race?
Me:  Hispanic
Receptionist:  Hispanic, non-white?
Me:  She's Hispanic but she's pretty white.
Receptionist:  I'm just going to check Hispanic.

School Form:  Circle the race of the majority of your family members.  (Well, we're kind of split 50/50 over here.)

Side note:  Why do the forms all say Hispanic, non-white?  What in the world does that mean?  My child is Latina but certainly doesn't look it.  She looks white.  Why can't they just say Hispanic?  

I know that people are just curious and don't mean to be rude.  I just love the way people phrase things sometimes.

Side note 2:  Yes.  I am white.  I have blond hair and freckles.  AND, I speak Spanish.  Yep.  It's possible.  (I got a lot less stares in Bogota for speaking Spanish than I do here.)  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life at Home

Life at home is going well.  I think it was such a blessing that we had two months together in Colombia before we transitioned to this whole new world here.  Sara is adjusting well.  She still has her moments of unpleasant behavior but those usually come when she is very tired and/or we are leaving an activity that she would not like to leave.  Over all, she goes with the flow.  She seems to be understanding some English and says "hi," "bye," and "cheese."  We're still using mostly Spanish.  We've been busy with school and doctor appointments.  We fly next week to meet the rest of my family in NY.  That might be a little overwhelming but they are all dying to meet her.   Here's a glimpse into Sara's "new" life.

Her favorite toy is definitely her baby doll.  She might "need" a stroller for baby soon.  She pushes her all over the house in her crib.

She's been to both the Children's Museum in Oak Lawn and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  The children's museum was more her speed.  She could run around and play with whatever she wanted.

Nana flew in to meet us when we got home.  She seemed to remember her from the week we were all together in Bogota.  

The only movie she's really interested in so far is Tangled.  She has an appointment with the eye doctor on Monday.  Then I'll know if she needs to be that close to see or if I can start saying "back up from the tv" like every other parent in America.   

Macaroni and Cheese is definitely her favorite new food.  Some days, she barely eats.  Other days, she can't find enough food in the world.

She's a little overwhelmed when told she can pick her own snack or fruit.  I don't think she's ever seen the inside of a refrigerator before.

She LOVES watching her food be made.  She doesn't seem interested in helping yet but she definitely wants to watch.

She loved her McDonalds fries experience.  I'm not a huge fan of McDonalds so we haven't done the whole Happy Meal experience yet.  We stopped there once and now she asks every single time we drive by.

She definitely loves picking out her own clothes.  Right now, she's happy to pick out one piece (usually a skirt or shirt) and let me pick out the rest.  I can't convince her to wear sweatpants and a hoodie, even if we aren't going anywhere.  She's definitely a skirt girl.

Like I said before, we have our struggles and our not-so-pleasant moments but, overall, things are going wonderfully.  She so wants to learn and try new things.  She helped me put together an IKEA chair tonight.  You show her something once and she's got it.  I can't wait for her to get into school!