Thursday, August 18, 2011

Be Still

For any of you, who know me and know me well, you know that to be still is VERY hard, okay almost impossible for me.  Over the past few weeks that I haven't posted (and I am VERY sorry for that!!!), I have definitely not been still.  But over the years, I have learned that taking the time to be still IS important and necessary because it is during those times that the Lord has the opportunity to share with us something we would not otherwise hear or learn. 

I have started and never finished several blog posts over the past few weeks, so in time, you will get to read them as I finish them. :)  I knew all the time that I am leaving all of you hanging, who had such an important part in our journey to bringing Eliisa home, and that you want and need to know how it is going, but I just didn't take the time to come here and BE still for a while.  So, I am VERY sorry!  For all of you, who have called or emailed to check on us, THANK YOU!!  It means so much to us.

So, what exactly have we been up to?  This year is our first official year of homeschooling.  To all of you, who have ever done or are doing it right now, I have a HUGE admiration for you!  It is not a task that you can one day decide you want to do and then just turn around and do it.  At least, it is not that easy for me.  As some of you know, our oldest daughter Annalee has some learning difficulties, speech and language delays, and she does not necessarily learn the traditional way.  Annalee attended kindergarten last year to give her access to the resources she needed to continue to help her get caught up.  But school was very hard on Annalee because she wears bilateral BAHA's (two bone-anchored hearing aids).  If you don't have any idea what that is, don't worry, I didn't either.  Annalee has a very unique hearing loss, it is a conductive loss.  The simple definition is that her ear canals are so tiny that sound cannot travel through them to give her clear hearing.  While there is nothing wrong with her cochlea, sound is distorted too much by the time it reaches her cochlea to give her normal understanding and expression of speech.  As is the case with any type of hearing aid, all sounds are amplified with a hearing aid, and although technology has advanced so much as far as hearing aids are concerned, for a child who has never learned how to tune out background noise, it was a huge challenge for her in a kindergarten classroom.  Annalee did not learn to read this past year and by the time she would come home to allow me to work with her one on one, she was so exhausted that the only thing we could do with her was put her to bed for a nap.  :)  I knew that we would be homeschooling this year, so the past few weeks, I have spent all of my spare time preparing, researching, and putting together our curriculum, classroom, and lesson plans.   I knew we could not easily go with any curriculum for all subjects because Annalee learns at her own pace and in her own way, so it was a little more challenging to decide which would be the best approach to help her get caught up and interested in reading her own books, which she loves so much. 

But you all don't want to know all about our other girls and what I am doing in my spare time, so I will fill you in on little Eliisa.  Eliisa has also been very busy with doctors' and therapy appointments this past month.  We started getting her on track with her shots, we have tested her blood for all kinds of things, we learned that she needs glasses and have picked them out and ordered them, we have had her hearing tested (which was a challenge and we will have to go back for a second round), we have had her ears cleaned out of five years of build-up wax, we have had her evaluated by a speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist, and next week, we will finally get to see the neurosurgeon.  We will see the neurologist beginning of September.  While we are very used to constant doctors' appointments, this is a very new experience for us because we know very, very little about Eliisa's history, so every appointment there are so many different things that need to be addressed and explored, and Eliisa is definitely NOT used to these appointments.  I wish there was a diagnostic machine that takes a look at every part of the internal workings of her body at one time and then anything that needs medical attention can be addressed by the appropriate doctor.  But alas, it is not that easy.  It helps to remind me just how fearfully and wonderfully we are made by our Creator, who is the only one who knows everything there is to know about us-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Eliisa has done okay with these appointments considering that she has never experienced so much attention on her in such a short time.  We often forget in our daily trials in teaching her new things, just how far she has come already, so I thought I would be still for a moment and share some of the victories and progress she has made since coming home.  One of the very first things, Eliisa learned was how to hold hands while we pray at the table before a meal.  At first, she would fight us and cry, and now she anticipates it and willingly holds our hands while we pray.  She has learned to drink out of her own cup.  She learned to use a straw.  She is learning how not to stuff an entire meal into her mouth at one time, but to chew and swallow between each bite.  She can feed herself with a spoon!  She has learned to "fix her legs."  The only position we ever saw Eliisa sit in is the "W" sit.  This is what it looks like. 

It is NOT a good position to sit for many reasons, and we have been working on consistently reminding her to "fix her legs."  At first, we had to constantly move her legs out of that position, now we can simply tell her to fix her legs and she will fix it herself (unless she chooses to ignore us), and she even remembers herself at times to sit in a normal position.  She has learned how to keep her legs down while we are in the pool rather than floating on her back like a turtle on its house.  She is learning how to put herself to sleep without keeping herself awake for hours, although she still does it on occasion.  She is starting to play with toys rather than simply putting them in her mouth.  She learned how to turn on the music on the sit and spin and will do it every time it turns off.  She is learning not to rock herself constantly but to find other ways to stimulate her senses.  Those are just a few things that she has learned since she came home a little over a month ago.  To us, it seems like tiny progress, but when you look at how many months it takes a baby or toddler to progress to these milestones, it is HUGE.  Eliisa is also very, very stubborn.  Another reason why she fits right into this family.  :)  Stubbornness is not necessarily a bad thing when it is applied in the right way, but it has often served Eliisa to her disadvantage as she is still learning that surrender to what mama and papa want and expect from her is the easier choice.  Being persistent is the part that takes up 100% of our time right now, but it is the only way to achieve the desired action, and there are some things that only Eliisa can do for herself and we cannot "make" her do those things.  One thing, we are still struggling with is communication.  Hopefully, in time, we will find a way to help her communicate her needs and desires to us so that we can help her in those times that she is sad or hurting or wants to share something with us.  Right now, the only form of communication she uses is scream, cry, grunt, or laugh and on occasion, she will do very little babbling.  We long to hear her sing and laugh and sign or speak, but as we experienced with Annalee, it takes a LOT of time and practice and patience, and she has to come to a point where she desires to communicate with us like our other girls do. 

That's the longest she has ever sat still on the couch!
   
First Taste of Popcorn

There are so many more things I would love to share with you about what Eliisa has experienced this past month, but if I did, this post would fill pages and you would never get to read the update.  I am sorry, I do not have a lot of new pictures as I am NOT good at taking pictures at all, and Abe is unfortunately not home to take pictures during our day to day routine.  Hopefully, over the next weeks as we fall into a new routine, I will get time to finish and publish all of those started posts I have.  If you feel like I do and you have not stopped to take a time out to be still, maybe this song will help you do that, even if it is only for four short minutes. 

4 comments:

  1. Oh, Corrie!i`m so glad to hear about Eliisa!So glad to hear how MANY things she already learned.Children in mental institutions can not do many of these things and it would be take years. So glad to hear about this sweet girl!So happy she is in loving family!
    Blessings, Alla

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  2. Eliisa has come so far! I know how it only feels like small baby steps, but like you said it's easier to see when you look back at how it was. We've been praying for you; and yes, we'd like to hear about all your girls.

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  3. Wow! You have accomplished so much in the past few months. It's amazing really. Keep making time to be still...

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