Thursday, September 27, 2012

Alex gets to walk...and kinda run!

So...the day after his birthday, Alex got a great birthday present from the physical therapist at the school he will be attending. She was in the early childhood classroom doing some work with him and offered to pull in the reverse walker to see how he would do in it. Here is the result:

She offered for us to take it home, and boy did he take off! He spent maybe an hour and a half total out on the sidewalk in front of the house:

And here without anyone holding onto the walker:

I don't think I've ever seen Alex so thrilled as he was while on that's like he's been waiting for this opportunity to walk for six years! In fact, he protested very loudly when it was time to quit (to go pick up his siblings). Here he is in the car, pointing and saying, "I want to walk!" over and over:

The good news is he perked up when he was assured he'd get to try it out again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy birthday, Alex!

When Alex turned five on this day one year ago, he was just getting used to a new institution, having recently been moved from the only home he'd known since he was a baby.

Today, Alex celebrated his sixth birthday with his forever family. The book that our seven-year-old daughter made for him says it all. Here is the cover:

The book is titled "The Boy Who Loved His Family"

And here is the last page:

And the last page says, "We love you!"

And here is how the birthday boy spent his big day:

Just after waking up...bed-head! "Good morning!" he says.

Eating homemade cinnamon raisin bread in the car.

Playing outdoors on a beautiful day with our good friend who has volunteered
to help care for Alex three hours a day, gratis. Once we get approved for a PCA,
she will be paid.

The big hit of the day: a nice new balloon! It went everywhere with him.

Folding hands to say grace before dinner (bread, cantaloupe, black bean soup).

Wearing the traditional Windley-Daoust birthday hat while preparing to blow out
the candles. Actually, he had no idea about blowing out candles, so someone else
had to do it for him.

Let him eat cake! With his hands!

Cake face. He actually quit eating before he was done with the cake...guess he filled up on that
good cantaloupe.

Asleep with his new stuffed animal at the end of a busy day. He loves that alligator!
Alex has made incredible strides in the three months he has been home with us.

He now uses English more often than he uses Russian, and he probably knows a couple hundred English words.

He has just recently learned the joy and art of giving and receiving hugs, and does so enthusiastically, and with a big smile on his face.

He asked to try to use the toilet today, probably inspired by the sight of his little brother potty training (and getting candy as a reward). He didn't actually go -- and actually he kind of fell off while trying to close the door -- but he got a piece of candy for his effort.

He knows how to say "please" and "thank you" and "I want."

He knows some of the words to his favorite songs on our Standing on the Rock CD.

He asks to "read" a book, and enjoys looking at the pictures.

He is up to wearing his foot braces almost all day, and is getting better and better at standing and walking (with support).

He has grown several inches, and gained several pounds.

And, he is learning to drive:

Here he quite literally turned to me and asked, "Can I have the keys?"

Did I mention that he has chutzpah? Keep going, Alex -- keep going!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Deck destruction

Have you ever woken up one day and said to yourself, "Hmm, maybe it would be a good idea to tear out our monster deck and build a raised walkway to the garage before winter comes and we're forced to walk single-file down the very narrow and icy/slushy sidewalk for seven months again"? No? Well, you're missing out, friends.

Seriously, this has been on my mind since the moment we decided to adopt a special needs child -- maybe it's the practical male in me, but it seemed obvious from the get-go that we'd need better access to the house, especially in the winter. Problem is, I hate major carpentry projects, probably because of the potential to seriously screw things up. Fortunately, I have a number of friends who are not so intimidated.

So for the past week or so, we've been tearing apart the deck -- or rather, carefully deconstructing it in order to re-use the pieces in the raised walkway that we're building to the garage. Tonight we had sixteen people come over to help move the deck off its trusses and down onto a new site (over our concrete patio) closer to the ground. It is now the first twelve feet of our raised wooden walkway.

Our friend Eric using a saws-all to cut the deck in half.

Our friend Brian using a table saw to cut the deck in half.

Moving the smaller of the two sections, which will becut in half to become
the rest of the walkway.

Moving the larger of the two pieces of the deck, which will be the first twelve
feet of the walkway, as well as a sort of wooden patio.

This is what community looks like. We have neighbors from down the street,
as well as friends from ECFE and church and book club, all having fun helping out.

Now all we have to do is reattach the posts and railings, build new stairs, rewire the electric, cut up the leftover decking, and create the rest of the walkway. Should be easy, right?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Horse camp

Yeah, we've been away from Gracewatch for a while...something about an adoption or something....

Anyway, catching up on our backlog...some pictures and videos of the girls at horse camp, one of the highlights of their summer.

And BTW, the first day of school today went great--smiles and good reports all around.