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blooming beauties

Last weekend we were looking through some old photos.

My goodness, it is crazy how Hailee and Harper are just growing up and developing so quickly.

It seems that in the blink of an eye, they are no longer the teeny, tiny fragile little girls who we brought home from Ukraine.

They are no longer our babies.

But are now our littlest girls getting so much bigger.

Harper is a little sponge.  She learns quickly and is very inquisitive.

Her latest obsession is books!  She carries books around all day long and brings them to us saying, “Book…book.”  She absolutely loves to read and imitates everything we point to.

Harper tries so hard to learn new things.  She will try to repeat everything we say.

She never gives up!

And kisses!  She adores kisses!

She is doing so well with her speech therapist, Miss B, or as Harper calls her when she promptly arrives at our door twice a week–“Miss ‘Nena.”  Harpy is so possessive of her time with Miss Nena.  She takes her by the hand and drags her into the living room to have her alone time with Miss B.  Of course, not before kissing me, saying bye and bidding me farewell with a wave.  Lo and behold, should anyone dare interrupt while she is working with her speech therapist!  We get yelled at by the little love who knows exactly what she wants!  She’s determined and feisty!

Harper just turned five last November and she is weighing 34 pounds.  She is growing fast!

And loves, loves, loves to eat.

She feeds herself–but still needs to be reminded to swallow one mouthful before putting the next bite in her mouth.  With her very low muscle tone, choking is still an issue.  Thankfully, she’s is getting so much better at feeding herself s-l-o-w-l-y.

Haper’s learning involves a lot of pre-school educational apps on the iPad.  She loves the iPad and is so good at maneuvering her way around that thing.  Dare I say that she is even better than her mother.  Yikes!  She knows how to find the photos and the things she loves to do on the iPad.  Me?  Clueless.

We read a lot of books together.  We also work with her with blocks, building, coloring in, and all kinds of manipulatives.  Oh, and at least 50 times a day she begs us to see her best friend in the world, a.k.a. Barney the annoying purple dinosaur.  The dude has resurrected in our home (Connor also loved him), and he is back with a vengeance.  We, of course, do give in to her pitiful pleas with big blue eyes to sing and dance along with Barney and his buds. 

We’re excited to start therapy with a new occupational therapist in January.

Oh, Miss Hailee!

What a joy and a delight this little girl is to our family!  I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the absolutely terrified, desperately malnourished little girl we brought home would blossom into such a little cuddle bug.

Hailee is our resident koala.

You will usually find her wrapped around someone’s neck or wrestling on the floor Hailee-style (she was aptly named “Little Hulk” by a friend for her mad wrestling skills).  She absolutely cannot get enough of being held and played with.  Such a stark contrast to the little girl I met in 2010 who could not handle the most tender of touch–all she wanted was to be left alone to rock back and forth.

God’s ability to redeem and restore LIFE to these children never ceases to amaze me.

Hailee too is learning new things daily.  She has become so intentional and definitely makes her needs known.  If she wants a singing toy turned on, she will bring it to us, deliberately take our hand, and place it on the toy.  The girl knows exactly what she wants.

Anyone who has met Hailee in real life can attest to the fact that she never, ever sits still.  Like, never! She is constantly moving and shaking.  She only weighs 30 pounds (at 7.5 years old), but this chicky has crazy strength!  She throws her toys as far as the east is from the west with brute strength.  We are constantly dodging rapidly moving objects in our home.

Unfortunately, many of the institutional behaviors she acquired during the first five years of her confinement to a crib are still there.  She still pulls on her left ear (and pulls her hair out), she will occasionally still rock, and she still puts her hands in her mouth for no reason at all. 

BUT.  Hailee truly has come so very far.  The little habits that she still has pale in comparison to the many, many obstacles she has overcome.

Hailee is our tiny little overcomer!

Hailee also receives speech therapy here at home.  It is the cutest thing to watch.  Miss B. has to put her in her high chair to teach her…simply because you cannot keep Hailee in one place.

Will she ever speak?  We have no idea.  The goal right now is to give Hailee a way to communicate.

Hailee and Haven will also begin occupational therapy in January with a new therapist.  We’re excited about that.

People ask us all the time, “What does it take to raise a child who has Down syndrome?”

The honest answer is “nothing special.”  Raising Hailee and Harper is truly no different to raising any of our other children.

We don’t adjust our lifestyles to accommodate them–they just fit in.

We don’t do anything special–God equips us along the way.

Our day-to-day lives are really no different to what they were before these two angels joined our family.  Yes, we have therapies here in our home, but it’s really no big deal.  It is an absolute joy to provide them with everything they need to become the best that they can be.

These two children have brought us an enormous amount of joy. They have taught us so much too.

~~  Like how to savor each and every milestone they reach.

~~  Like how to treasure and accept our children for exactly who they are.

~~ And like how to slow down and enjoy the moments as they happen–“lingering longer,” as one of my dear friends calls it.

So thankful for these gifts from God.