Saturday, May 7, 2016

11 months...

How in Heaven's name has it been nearly 11 months since I last  posted??  I am sorry about the absence.

How has the Princess changed in 11 months?  The short answer is in every way possible!  But you want the long answer, right? :D

She started preschool in the fall.  We were hoping that being around other kids her age would help in her usage of English and were we right!!  Before the end of the first week, she started using English.  Everyday she seemed to come out with another word or even phrase that she had learned.  Sadly, though, as she started using English, her Serbian started to diminish.  She still understands a bit of Serbian because Hubby's co-worker occasionally speaks to her.  But, even she thinks that perhaps it is better for now if our girlie focuses on English.  One day, it would be nice to have all 3 of our kids relearn their 1st language....but that is for the future.  Preschool also has forced her to learn to do things for herself that she was resistant to.  Some of her accomplishments: She has learned to go up and down stairs by holding the railing only.  (She used to put her other hand down on the stair in front to keep her balance).  She can put on and take off her own boots and coat.  She is still working on the coat zipper, but she is getting there.  She now eats on her own 100% of the time and can drink from an open cup.  She is potty trained (during the day) and accidents are usually the result of getting too involved in what she is doing.  She usually only wets a little before she realizes it and then she will go to the bathroom.  She can dress and undress herself, although we are still working on making sure that clothes are not put on backwards.

This girl LOVES music!  And she really has a knack for learning lyrics.  I think she knows every word of every song on all my Celtic Thunder CD's.  And she really knows how to belt it out! :)  She has also fallen in love with current musicals.....High School Musical and Teen Beach movie to name a couple.  She loves to sing and dance with the movies and it makes us happy to see her so excited.

In her ministry file, something was mentioned about muscle contractions in her arms and hands.  When Hubby and I met her, we thought that those "contractions" looked more like repetitive tics. The movements would get more intense when she was tired or stressed and she would zone out.  I mentioned it to her pediatrician when she first came home and he told me that he thought it was just a self stimming thing and she would probably grow out of it.   So, we just let it be for a year.  When she was due for her annual physical, I mentioned it again to her physician and he did not seem concerned. (That kind of bugged me!)  I asked him if it was possible for us to get a referral to neurology because I just felt it needed to be addressed.  I nearly had to beg, but we got the referral.  I am glad that I followed my gut on that one.  I know this will sound very strange, but the day I took her in, she was extremely "tic-y" and I was thankful.  The neurologist was able to see every tic that she does...her hands, her face, her arms, her sounds...everything!  He had thought that some of it looked like a tonic seizure, but an EEG ruled that out, thankfully.  But, he did give us a preliminary diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome.  He also believes that she has CP.  I'm not sure if he will do additional tests to confirm that diagnosis or not.  We see him again in a couple weeks so I am guessing we will find out what our "next step" is.  Stepping into the world of neurology was a scary one, but we are thankful to have friends who have walked this road and were able to show us it isn't that scary.

She has done an amazing job in pre-k this year.  She is still quite delayed so we have decided to retain her in pre-k again next year.  She is just not ready for kindergarten and I am happy that our school is willing to take our thoughts into account.  She is loved by all she meets!  We are blessed to have this little bundle of energy/attitude in our family.  She certainly keeps us all on our toes!

 As you can see, she LOVES her Papaw and the feeling is mutual!

Our little full of spunk and confidence!  Oh how we love her!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

5 months

Well, our Little Miss has been home for 5  months.  She has changed and grown and fits into our home like she has always been here.  She still has her moments of screaming when she doesn't get her way, but I have been assured that is "because she is a girl."  But for the most part, she is learning that screaming does not get you what you want and you end up having to sit in a time out chair for a bit on top of not getting what you want.  I did not believe those who had gone before me that parenting a girl would be so different.  Girls are most definitely different beasts!  :)

Gone are the days of her getting angry that she is not held/carried everywhere.  She is even becoming quite proficient at going up and down stairs.  She still needs something to hold on to, such as a railing.  Although, just yesterday she was able to step up and then down a small curb all by herself.  She got angry that I wouldn't give her my hand, but I knew it was small enough that she could do it if she tried.  She has little confidence in new things and it took her a long time to try.  But once she tried, she did it! 

When she first came to us, she did not want to eat any real food.  Even plain bread was not good enough.  She only wanted junk food.  Since we have been home, she has learned that real food isn't all that bad.  She especially likes spaghetti.  Any food that is on Mama and Daddy's plate is usually very interesting too.   The digestive issues that she experienced in Serbia have not manifested since she has been home and her food intake increased. 

She has decided that dresses are the absolute only thing she wants to wear.  I was quite thankful that Walmart decided to carry modest girls' dresses this summer.  She prefers her dresses/skirts to go down by her knees and is a very modest little girl in making sure her dress is always pulled down. :) 

As far as using English, she uses very little.  Hubby asked her the other day why she wasn't speaking English, and her response was, "I no speak English!"  with a look on her face that said she was better than using our language.  It's quite hilarious though, because if she REALLY wants something, out pops a perfect English sentence asking for it.  She understands most everything we say to her, just like any other 4 year old.  She has retained a good deal of Serbian and uses it all the time.  She was even able to have a pretty lengthy conversation the other day about painted fingernails and jewelry with one of Hubby's  co-workers who came here from Bosnia.  So, it seems we have a bi-lingual girlie on our least for now.

She starts half day preschool in the fall.  I am excited to see her grow simply by being around other kids her age.  Maybe it will also encourage her to speak English.  Although, at a family reunion recently, one of her cousins who is her age told her that she needs to speak English.  She threw her hands in the air, huffed and said, "I can't do it!"  She was so serious that the adults around her clamped their lips shut to keep from howling with laughter.  

I feel like this post is very disjointed.  I can't get my thoughts to flow like I normally prefer.  My brain is all a jumble these days.  I can't really say that I am overwhelmed.  When she first came home, that would have been the definition of me.  Now, though, we have gotten into a groove and everything seems to be flowing.  Still, those jumbled thoughts.  Maybe I will figure it out soon.  If so, I will let you know. :)

I leave you with a picture from this evening.  Vlado was reading to his siblings.  I didn't ask him to, but he still did it.  He is such a good big brother!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Update since we have been home

We have been home a month.  Our little girl is fitting in like she has always been here (well, except for still speaking Serbian most of the time). 

Our trip home was uneventful, for the most part.  The most stressful was in Zurich.  We had a 45 minute layover and we knew that having to go through security was going to make it tight.  We are not exactly sure how, but Hubby's small pocket knife got put into one of our carry-ons.  They missed it in Belgrade, but it was noticed in Zurich.  Because it was so small, they did not confiscate it, but it did hold us up for about 10 minutes before they found it.  Then I had to try to repack the suitcase quickly (I had it so perfect before) but things did not want to fit after they rummaged through it.  Anyway, we got it done and practically ran to the gate which was difficult for Hubby because he was carrying her as well as his backpack.  But we made it and with time to spare.  The airline held the plane for about 20 minutes because there was a group of 25 students that they were waiting for.  It was surprising that the plane was less than 1/2 full.  I have never seen that many empty seats on an international flight.  J slept most of the long flight which was good.  She is quite a plane traveler.  She grins the entire time unless there is turbulence....then she laughs hysterically. She acts like the bumpy plane is an amusement park ride. :)  She did eat a little of the dinner on the flight as well as a couple of the snacks.  We were happy with any calories we could get into her at that point. 

Arriving at Newark, we had to go through customs, immigration, security and then get the tickets for our last leg.  After we did all that, Hubby decided enough was enough and put J down to have her walk.  She screamed!!  It was kind of nice that it was late because people just thought she was a tired toddler who had enough traveling so we got a lot of reassuring smiles instead of glares.  It was true that she was tired and probably had had enough of traveling, however, she was screaming more because she DID NOT WANT TO WALK!  We finally got to our gate and she was happy to sit.  I took the opportunity to take her to the bathroom and change her.  We were so very blessed that we didn't have a major blowout diaper on the plane like we did with both boys.  Of course, a child has to eat and she had eaten very little our last few days.  I also made her walk and she loudly voiced her displeasure.  I guess she figured out that screaming wasn't helping because she quietly walked once the diaper change was over and we headed back to our gate.  She was so patient and sat quietly (with very little rocking) until it was time for our plane to leave. 

We had not told the boys we were coming home.  We knew that we wouldn't get home until around 2am and they had school the next day.  So, I surprised them by waking them up the next morning.  V was so very excited to see me and I got a HUGE hug!  F walked right by me.  Both were the reactions I expected. lol

Both boys were terrified of her when we first came home.  They would stand far away from her and just stare.  I think both of them were just very confused that she was so much smaller than they are.  But, they are better now.  V has even been known to help her get out of her coat and boots when we get home...although she is beginning to learn how to do those things herself.  She is slowly learning to have a little independence.  F pretty much ignores her.  I think, in his brain, if he pretends she isn't here, she won't be.  He does not deal well with change.  We know he will get there, but it will take him time. 

Eating has not been the problem that we feared.  Like I mentioned earlier, she did not want to eat much the last few days we were in Serbia.  If it was not chips or candy, she wanted nothing to do with it.  Since her special need is a physical issue with her GI tract, we knew that the lack of eating and therefore lack of GI motion was bound to cause a problem.  Since being home, she has taken a lot of cues from the boys and now eats pretty much anything they do.  We are doing a lot of finger foods right now to encourage her to self feed.  We are slowly working on the use of spoon or fork, but that is really slow going. 

J really enjoys being with the boys and misses them terribly when they go to school.  She is so super excited when she hears them come home and squeals. :) 

She LOVES music.  I really enjoy a group called Celtic Thunder and our girlie loves them too!  We have a couple DVD's of their concerts and she dances and sings with the music and when the song is done, she will clap and whoop.  It is the cutest thing! 

She was fearful of the animals when she first came home, but now she is best friends with both....although out cat, Sammy, is the one who receives most of her attention.  We have to stop her "loving" him sometimes because he just wants to sleep. 

She understands a good deal of what we say to her.  She is not speaking much English but still a lot of Serbian.  We are regaled with long stories nearly every day and we only are able to catch a few words here and there.  But she is so animated and has so much to say!  When we ask her a question, she will answer in Serbian.  If we don't understand at first, she figures out a way (she is very good at showing us what she needs/wants)  We are so very blessed to have this little girl in our family. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

No words

I haven't posted for a couple days because I am frustrated and don't want to have this be too negative.  After the weekend of everything going so smoothly, we were waiting for the final shoe to usually does, right?

Monday, we spent over 2.5 hours at the embassy.  In the end, we had the visa interview and we were told that the Visa would be done on Tuesday and we could pick it up at 3pm.  Being pretty excited, we booked our return plane tickets and were excited to have our family all together Wednesday evening. 

Tuesday morning, our phone rang and it was the embassy.  I was excited thinking they were calling to tell us that the visa was ready and we could come anytime.  They were calling to tell us that the biometric photo recognition clearance had not come back yet.  (Don't ask what that means because I'm not really sure)  It was still possible for it to come in the afternoon, but nothing could be done until that clearance came back.  So, we waited.  The minutes seemed to tick by faster than normal.  Around 4:30, the cell rang again and they said that the visa would not be ready. 

We got up pretty early today thinking they would call us.  Our phone remained silent until 11:30.  It was a different person this time, but still it wasn't good news.  Now, her visa is "stuck in the computer."  They had to send a request to have it fixed....the computer held desk is in DC.  I'm assuming that they do not work 24 hours.  The only way we can leave tomorrow is for the help desk to get it fixed so the embassy can print her visa.  Otherwise, we remain here.  Right now, we have no idea how long. 

My heart hurts.  My head hurts.  I just want to go home.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

So very soon

We have been away from our boys for 2 weeks and 1 day.  It seems so much longer than that.  Now, don't get me wrong, our girlie is worth the trip!  She is worth the stress and paperwork and fees.  But still, not having our boys around is not fun.  But, we will be going home so very soon!

When we applied for Jovana's passport on Friday, they assured us that it would be available for pickup on Saturday.  Although they seemed certain, I just did not believe it.  I had never heard of anyone getting their child's passport on a Saturday.  Still, though, we went to the police station on Saturday afternoon.  We were there less than 20 minutes and walked out with a shiny new passport with our girl's new name and her beautiful face.

Z called the doctor who does physicals for the US Embassy right after we left the police station.  She told him that it might be possible to do the physical that evening.  She ended up not being able to do it, but she DID do it today.  A passport on Saturday and a physical on Sunday?  I couldn't be happier about that! 

J was not happy about seeing the doctor.  Taking her clothes off was the first offense.  Then, she tried to see what the doctor was writing and the doctor said something to her that offended her because she shrank back into my arms and whimpered.  Then, Lord have mercy, we made her stand up!  Oh, the horror!  Our 5 minute physical was complete and the doctor said we could go back to the waiting room.  I stood up and J put her arms up for me to carry her.  I told her she could walk and she started screaming.  This poor child is in for a rude awakening.  I LOVE her being close, but she certainly is capable of walking.  I truly believe she still wobbles and has lower muscle tone because she was carried everywhere.  Anyway, the doctor again fussed at her (telling her she needed to walk) and she stopped screaming but continued to whine.  But, for all her fussing, we got her completed medical form so we have everything we need for our 2pm Embassy appointment tomorrow.  I can breathe a sigh of relief!

On the way back to the apartment, we had Z stop at McDonalds....our first visit since we've been here.  Hubby and I got something for ourselves and also got 2 Happy Meals (we wanted 2 toys for the boys).  Once we got back, I handed J a pack of French fries and she chowed down!  I offered her a burger and she contemplated it for quite a while.  She held it and looked it up and down, then handed it back to me with a, "Ne."  She finished the first pack of fries and then tried to take some from my plate!  So, I pulled out the 2nd pack of fries from the other Happy Meal and she ate half of that pack too.  She was one happy girl!  She took a couple sips of Coke, but I don't think she liked the bubbles.  Neither of the boys did either, so that didn't surprise me.  I think she ate more tonight than she has in 2 days.  Our trip to the foster home set us back a few days in the food department.   It seems that McDonalds makes our princess happy (although Mama taking pictures seems to have lost its appeal)

Friday, January 30, 2015

She is ours!

Today is mine and Hubby's 5th anniversary.  We were more than willing to share this day with our precious little girl because today was her adoption day.

I have waited many years to be blessed with a daughter and she is the best blessing I could have ever prayed for! 

Our ceremony was scheduled for 11am.  It was very informal and we were done by 11:30.  After the ceremony, we found out that there was a glitch that could have presented a real problem.  Two days ago, it was discovered that she was born in the capital city versus the city where we were having our ceremony.  Since the birth certificate and citizenship papers (documents needed to get her passport) have to be issued in her birth place, if that fact would not have been discovered until today, we could have had delay of a few days.  We are so thankful that they discovered it and the lawyer was able to travel the half hour today to get the documents we needed.  I am so very impressed with how well our little one handled the 2 hours of waiting.  She was a little antsy, but nothing too bad.  She was incredibly tired and I thought she had drifted off several times (resting on my shoulder) but she always woke up pretty quickly.  Just as she was starting to get really grumpy, the lawyer was back and we were off to the police station to apply for her passport.  The police station was very efficient and we were finished quicker than we could have imagined.  We were told that her passport should be available for us to pick up tomorrow.  I have never heard of a passport being available for pickup on a weekend, but we are praying that is true.  Once we have her passport in hand, we can schedule her medical.  As of now, we have an appointment at the Embassy at 2pm on Monday.  The exact day we get to come home is still a little fuzzy, but we are so close! 

The Lord has blessed us beyond measure!  Continue praying for our little one, please!  She started with a small cough yesterday and she sounds pretty congested today.  I just pray that she is feeling better before our flight home.  I would hate for her to be feeling bad during our long travel day. 

Without further ado, let me introduce you to our daughter.  This is Jovana Breen! 

I'm sorry that I don't have a picture from today.  I was fighting a migraine most of the day and completely spaced on taking pictures.  Hubby did take a couple, but his computer is giving him fits about emailing.  I will post some of her on her adoption day very soon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prayers worked!

You all were praying with us, weren't ya, weren't ya, weren't ya???  I didn't blog yesterday because I was tired and we hadn't heard anything new or done anything new and it made me blah. :(  Well, I guess we had heard something new, but it wasn't something we wanted to hear.  We were told that the Minister  would not be signing because he had traveled to Auschwitz for the 70th anniversary of the liberation.  At first, we were told that it was just for the day.  Then, later, we were told that he would be there until the end of the week.  Needless to say, we were bummed.

On Monday, the social worker had contacted Z to say that she wanted to come to the apartment to see us.  We were confused because they had already written the reports and sent them to the Ministry.  Still, you can't say no. :)  They arrived about 9:30 and at 10:15, Z's phone rang.  It was the Ministry and they told him that the Minister had decided to come back.....AND HE HAD SIGNED OUR DOCUMENTS!!!  At first, the social worker said that it would probably be best to put our adoption ceremony off until Tues.  We are so very thankful for Z because he worked his magic, and our ceremony is on FRIDAY!  The coolest part about that is Friday is our anniversary. :) 

I can't really think to write any more right now.  We are just a little excited over here!