Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bella, Post Adoption: Month 5

It's five months down, forever to go with our Bella. As we near the half-a-year mark, it's impossible to imagine our lives without our littlest girl. Here, a look at all she's accomplished over the last month: 

Language. Bella is continuing to find and use her voice, which we love. She has been making new vocal sounds, thanks to the help of our awesome speech therapist (like the hard /ck/ sound). She has been trying to say more words (e.g., "blue") and putting different sounds together, including "Uh-oh," "Hooray," and "Good girl" (which sounds like "Gooh Guh"). She will also let her opinion be known, using lots of nodding yes and no. It's so cute when she nods her head yes, as she raises her eyebrows up as high as she can while nodding. :)

Bella's hearing remains a mystery. There is a certain hearing test she needs done given the results of previous testing, one that typically requires sedation for kids her age, as she needs to be perfectly quiet and still for an extended period of time. We attempted this with our audiologist earlier this month but tried to do it during naptime (we purposefully scheduled the appointment during naptime, and I was literally trying to put her down for a nap on the floor of our audiologist's office), all to avoid having to sedate our sweet girl again. But, no dice. Our girl, who is usually a beautiful sleeper, just wasn't having it, despite two hours of trying. So, now she will be having the testing under sedation at the children's hospital next month. We are also trying to add on a CT scan of her brain since she will already be sedated, to rule out a potential trauma that I am not ready to share here yet, as it would break my heart to know she endured it. Prayers that we find answers by the end of next month, please!!

Motor. I mentioned in our 4-month update that one of my secret goals for Bella was to have her independently walking by Christmas, and, well....we just aren't there yet. We have tried and tried and tried, but it hasn't happened yet. Honestly, I don't believe it's for lack of ability at this point. I honestly believe it is because she is scared to walk. When Bella believes she can't do something, she fights it with all her might. She'll cry hard and give up and just not want to try. But the second, the second, she sees that she can, in fact, do things she is intimidated of, she rocks it. She is an extremely stubborn headstrong determined little girl, and she has decided she doesn't want to walk yet. Maybe by the next update... (but honestly, prayers are appreciated here. It's really hard, if I'm being honest. It's hard to continue pushing her, when I know she can do it, and seeing her so upset and so resistant. I get frustrated. She gets frustrated. We both cry. It's hard. So, prayers appreciated). 

Cognitive. Bels continues to show improvements in her cognition. She loves vrooming cars around with her big brother, Harrison. She loves playing with functional, fine motor toys in her therapies (many of which, she now owns courtesy of Christmas). She continues to love all things music and dancing. She continues to love having FUN! :)

Attaching. Bella is doing better and better about separating from us, having spent an entire weekend being cared for by her grandparents while my hub and I were away (not a single tear all weekend!). She was left in the care of babysitters several times this month, and did really, really well. I am guessing this has a lot to do with having her big siblings there, but she is doing so great with this!

Out and About/Playing. Like everyone else, December is a month full of lots of out and about, and the same was definitely true for our family. And just like she always does, Bella just went with it. She was along for the ride and game for anything we threw her way. 

Etc. I had hoped to have all major medical appointments and procedures completed by the start of the new year. Despite moving at, what feel's like lightening pace to get it all done, that is just not the case. She already has three appointments scheduled in January: Like I said before, Bella will be undergoing sedation in a few weeks to have a special hearing test completed. We will also be seeing dermatology to address her excessively dry skin and have a follow-up with our neurosurgeon. There are also a few other specialists I'd like her to see but haven't yet scheduled given our full January schedule.  

In really great news, several months ago, we applied for something called TEFRA for Bella. In a nutshell, this is a Medicaid program that will ensure she will be able to continue to receive all the therapies she needs after she ages out of early intervention at age 3. You see, with private insurance, therapy caps are met very quickly. And because our sweet little lady still needs quite a bit of therapy in her future, we applied for TEFRA in the hopes we would be able to continue her therapies as often, and for as long, as needed. Obtaining TEFRA can be challenging and it is not easily granted. It requires a pretty extensive application, and an in-home interview, and even then, often takes many, many months before the outcome is known. Well, as an early Christmas gift (?!), we learned Bella was granted TEFRA earlier this month. All that work paid off, and now we can get her the therapies she needs. Praise the Lord. <3 

Finally, we had our first post-adoption visit with our social worker earlier this week and were excited to get the first one under our belt. Adoption agencies (and China) require post-adoption visits for five years after the child has been adopted, to ensure things are going smoothly. This first report, which is due at six months post-placement, required our social worker to come (back) into our home for two hours, extensively interviewing my hub and myself, interviewing the kids, observing Bella, and checking out her room. I also had to provide quite a few documents acquired during the adoption as well as records of all the appointments, evaluations, immunizations, therapies, etc., we have had done since returning home from China. Whew! Now, our social worker will type it all up into a lengthy report, which will then be provided back to our home study agency, adoption agency, and China. :) And we'll do it all again in six months! 

So, it's been a(nother) busy month for our littlest lady, but she just takes it all in stride. We are so thankful for her sweet soul and ready to see what the new year brings our beautiful Bella. Happy 5 months post-Gotcha Day, Bellaboo. We love you with all our hearts!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Highlights from 2017

It's safe to say that 2017 was one of the biggest years for our family to date, having adding a sixth member to our Lu Crew. It was a year that I don't want to ever forget, and yet I know as time passes, the memories will grow increasingly distant. So, here, the highlights of our year, the moments that made 2017 so special for My Lu Crew:

January We kicked off the year with a bang! My hub and I traveled to Tampa to watch our beloved Clemson Tigers beat Bama to win the National Championship. We also celebrated Raleigh's fifth birthday with a gymnastics party and had a day of a *little* snow fun when we got about an inch on the ground. :) 

February In February, I snuck away to NYC with my college best friends and had the best time! The month also included the Daddy-Daughter dance, Valentine's celebrations, outdoor family fun, and the conclusion of Banks' basketball season. 

March The arrival of March meant the arrival of Spring sports - soccer for Raleigh and Harrison and baseball for Banks. My hub and I attended our Greenway's Gala for the second year and had so much fun with great friends. We also had some crazy weather that month - a good, deep snow one week and swimsuits the next. Gotta love living in the South! 

April On April 13th, we saw Bella's face for the first time and immediately knew she was ours. <3 We also headed to Charleston for Spring break, made some Easter memories, and celebrated Harrison's third birthday at the Great Wolf Lodge!

May In May, we celebrated Clay's birthday and Mother's Day. Raleigh closed out her year of gymnastics with a final show. We also concluded the school year and headed to Fripp Island with great friends to kick off summer. 

June Let the summer fun begin! We celebrated Father's Day and spent plenty of time at the pool. My hub and I headed off for a super fun lake weekend with friends, and we traveled to Ponte Vedra, Florida, as a family for the first of two family beach trips, this one being with my hub's "side" of the family. My hub and I also celebrated 13 years of marriage. <3

July We had fun celebrating the 4th at the annual pool party and also enjoyed our second family beach trip of this summer (this time with my "side," aka BLOMPS), spending the week at a house big enough to hold all (then) 11 cousins and their parents/grandparents :) North Myrtle. But the highlight of this month, hands down, was my hub and I leaving for China and meeting our daughter, Bella Elizabeth, on July 31st. 

August After two weeks in China, we returned home with our Bels, finally getting to introduce her to her big brothers and sister. Life resumed with our new normal, as Banks and Raleigh started the school year at FMES (2nd grade for Banks; kindergarten for Rals). 

September We continued settling in as a family of six in September, with boatloads of appointments and evaluations for our Bellaboo. We also celebrated Banks' 8th birthday, complete with a Putt-Putt party, and attended our first Clemson game with all four kiddos in tow! And Harrison started back to preschool, in the 3's class. 

October October was a busy one! We attended the Chinese Lantern Festival with two of our favorite families and continued our tradition of attending our town's Fall Frolic. Our Bella also had major surgery on her spinal cord but was well enough to trick-or-treat for the first time ever on Halloween. :)

November We spent the month of Thanksgiving having lots of fun! Banks' sixth season of flag football concluded, and we co-hosted our second annual Friendsgiving. We celebrated Thanksgiving with both "sides" of the family and also got our Christmas tree before month's end. 

December And finally, December. As always, December was a full, fun, festive month, made even more special by it being Bella's first Christmas with us. <3 First, though, my hub and I snuck away for a long weekend at Amelia Island with 17 other couples who we love from our neighborhood. Once we returned, it was all things Christmas, all the time, and we loved it (with a 37th birthday thrown in for this Momma). 

And that was a glimpse into our 2017! Busy, crazy, chaotic, loud, hard, full of change? YES. One that I will cherish forever? YES. Thank you for the memories, 2017. Thank you for the addition of Bella to our family. Now, we will welcome in 2018 with the kids' New Year's Eve countdown to 12:00 (Noon! Ain't nobody need four kids staying up 'til midnight ;), and we will look forward to seeing what the new year brings. Let's do this thing, 2018. We're ready for ya!