The Unique Arrival of Verity Laine

As her half birthday draws nigh(!), I have finally gotten around to recording the lengthy tale of Verity’s birth.  Although I try not to make my birth stories too explicit for delicate readers, I will warn you that there was some… interesting stuff this time.   Here’s how it all went down:

Sunday, October 2:

I woke up to a sensation of wetness… but not that much.  We went about our morning routine and got ready for church, but a couple of times when I stood up I felt a tiny gush… or did I?

We went to church, and I called the midwife after lunch, just to run it by her.  “I’m not convinced your water broke,” she said.  “It just doesn’t sound like enough fluid. When’s your next appointment?”  “Tomorrow,” I told her.  She’d just check me then, to be sure.

Monday, October 3:

Theraplay in the morning. Paige came with me for company, and she brought me coffee. It was shaping up to be a pretty good day.  I was still feeling slightly leaky, but figured I’d find out what the deal was at my appointment.

After lunch, my dear friend Bonnie offered to watch the gang so I could go to my appointment by myself.  This would prove to be a much bigger commitment that she originally bargained for.  Bea came with me, just for some Mommy time.

Midwife Francesca almost didn’t check me for amniotic fluid, based on my description of how things were going, but she decided to play it safe.  There were three tests: the pH test was positive (amniotic fluid is alkaline), there was  some visible fluid (pooling) but not much, but when she looked at the dried sample under a microscope, she did not see the fern-like pattern she would expect.  All things considered, she was leaning towards thinking I had sprung a small leak.  She decided to hook me up to a non-stress test and check me again in an hour.  At this point, I had already been there or about an hour, so I called Bonnie to update.

About halfway through my hour hooked up to the monitor, my water sprung a bigger leak.  There was now no denying we were in baby mode.  That was to be the “official” time of water breaking, but I know it was really early, early Sunday morning.

Since we were still hoping for a birth center or home birth at this point, Francesca sprang into action with a new-to-me labor-inducing technique.  Apparently, a foley catheter can be used to buy you 3 centimeters of dilation. You can read more about the technique here, if you want, but suffice it to say I had to drive home with a tube draining amniotic fluid all over the place and a lot of extra padding.

By the time I got home, with a recipe for a castor oil root beer float in hand (which I never did use), Bea and I had been gone for some three hours.  Trevor would be getting home soon, and it was dinner time.  Bonnie called her husband, our assistant pastor at the time, and asked him to pick up four pizzas for us and head on over.

By the time Josh and the pizza came I was having some contractions.  They weren’t that impressive, but often enough that I was hopeful I’d manage to dodge the castor oil bullet.

Josh and Bonnie and their two kids pizza-ed with us and hung out for a while, but all the while I was sure things were heading in a nice, steady babyward direction.

We got the kids to bed, and I labored on.  I tried to sleep but couldn’t, spent some time in the bath, but eventually woke Trevor to help me assess.  After an hour of strong contractions five minutes apart, we called midwife Francesca.  She told us she could “be there in 45 minutes,” so we got off the phone excited to be gaving our third homebirth, a detail that hadn’t been nailed down previously because some of the nurses are not trained for homebirths.

Francesca called us back about ten minutes later to say that by “there” she had actually meant the birth center.  We were very glad she clarified!

I called my mom, who got to our house as quickly as she could, and we were on our way.  We arrived at the birth center (where Annis had been born) at around 5 AM on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, October 4:

Though my contractions had decidedly lost some of their oomph on the drive over and I was only at 4 cm, we were all certain that walking around would kick them back into gear in no time.  We were optimistic that I’d have the baby long before Francesca’s shift ended at 9 am, what, with this being my seventh baby and all.

So I walked and walked and walked.  I took some homeopathic remedies to unscare my labor.  I walked some more.  My contractions were 7…, 8…,10 minutes apart and not that impressive.  At the end of Francesca’s shift I was still 4 cm, and very apologetic for getting her up at 4am.

I paced around the birthing suite ALL DAY LONG with midwife Barbara (who delivered Junie and Coraline).  She tried some different homeopathic remedies, swept my membranes, sent us outside for a more vigorous walk, and eventually just let me nap for a while.

By 11 pm I was still just 4.5cm, despite some 30 hours of painful-but-too-far-apart contractions, and I felt utterly defeated.

It had now been way too long since my water had broken for anyone’s comfort, and I felt peaceful in making the decision to transfer to the hospital for some pitocin to help get my labor into gear.

Despite knowing it was what had to happen, I cried all the way to the hospital (through contractions that had suddenly decided to come quite powerfully every four minutes, by the way!). I told Trevor I wanted an epidural, maybe even a c-section, and I meant it.  I felt like my body had betrayed me and forgotten how to have a baby, and I was done.

The change of scenery and new faces at the hospital did me some good.  They gave me some slipper socks, and I found a good comfy chair to labor in.  They blew two veins before they managed to get my IV in, and this sent me back to the brink of despair for a few moments, but then I rallied.

Wednesday, October 5:

Barbara started me with just faintest whiff of pitocin at about 2 am, and it was enough to remind my body how to have a baby.  The nurse turned it up one time, and I asked if we could leave it there.  I could tell it was working, and quickly, but it wasn’t unbearable like I remembered pitocin being when I had it with Pippa’s delivery.

By about 3:30, I called for Barbara.  It was showtime.

I have been increasingly fearful about the pushing stage of labor for the last several babies, but this time was different.  I was so very weary of being in labor that the prospect of being done won out over my fear.  I was actually almost excited to push.  Excited to finally meet this new person.

Barbara tried to help me get my knees up and encouraged me not to scream, but to bear down instead, but I ignored all of these instructions, as I always do (earning myself, as usual, a few stitches afterwards).  I kicked my legs free of the nurses and let out a few final primal screams, and she was born at 3:52 am.

The 36 hours of labor was forgotten (indeed, to the nurses at the hospital, who had only seen the final three, I was some kind of birthing hero!) and there was our girl.  Perfect, amazing, mine.

The nurse asked her name, and Trevor bestowed it. Verity.  7 lbs 14 oz.  21 inches.  Very like her oldest sister, but so much her own little self.

Because of how long my water had been broken and the risk of infection, we had to stay in the hospital until Friday, which was a very different experience for me.  The first night felt like a welcome getaway, but the second I felt more like a prisoner.  In hindsight, the forced rest made it one of my fastest and easiest recoveries, and I thank God for knowing better than I did what I needed.

Winter Haps

Trevor asked me a couple nights ago if I still had a blog.  I’m not sure how kidding he was, but this is for him and anyone else who checks in once in a while despite my gross neglect.

As usual there has been much busy-ness, and most of it has been very good.

Most recently, just this morning in fact, we received the hard copy of our Letter of Acceptance from China!  This means our dossier has been approved and all that remains is the final step of his US immigration paperwork.  It also I can now share with you the boy that will soon be our son.  (I could also share his name with you, but what would be the fun in that?  Names deserve their own posts.  Don’t you think?  Stay tuned!)

Isn’t he delightful?  We can’t wait!

We’ve had two birthdays this month, with four more in the next two weeks!

Romilly is now 11…

And Juniper, the baby of our “Original Four”, is 8.

 

Happy birthday, girls!

This little one, like her sisters before her, has refused to stay tiny and new.  Sigh.  In a fit of rebellion she even went and sprouted two teeth at just four months old!

But oh, how we all adore her.

School is moving along.  We are just about two-thirds through our year.  People are learning things.  We’re in a pretty good groove.

Coraline is reading beginner books thanks in large part to the efforts of her biggest sister.  Pippa is learning algebra and loving it, which just fills my math-minor heart with the greatest joy.  Delia has made some strides with independence getting dressed, and she will be trying out a tablet-based communication device in the next couple months. Lewis wrote his name by himself for the first time a couple weeks ago.  I think the whole neighborhood heard our cheers!

One of the greatest blessings of this school year has been our dear friends, the Weavers, volunteering to have our five “readers” at their home each time I take Lewis and Delia to Theraplay.

 

These days are not just free childcare for me, but amazing, enriching, educational experiences for our kids.  They do art  and photography lessons, science experiments that I have neither the equipment nor the time to do at home (they actually looked at broccoli DNA under a microscope!) and sometimes just play educational board games.  It has transformed what felt like wasted time each week for our big kids into one of the highlights of their week.

Not to mention it gives me some much-needed downtime hanging out at Theraplay with my little girls.

Trevor is working 12-hour shifts again (with long weekends) after several brutal months of Monday to Friday weeks (how do people live like that?!), and life is feeling manageable.  That can only mean we are in the calm before the storm as we prepare to bring home our newest member.  I will take the calm wherever I can get it!

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

From the Christmas play last weekend….

To the Christmas Eve candle light service…

And the party at Grandmom’s house afterwards,

From the night before Christmas prep…

…To the whirlwind of Christmas Day,

…It has certainly been a busy season!

But in the midst of all the busyness, I hope that we managed to keep our focus where it ought to be.  As Annis went around today cupping her little hands to her mouth and exclaiming, “Jesus’ birthday!” to anyone who would listen, I hope that in her little heart and mind, the enormity of what we celebrate today is beginning to become clear:

The God who created the universe, who created us, left his throne to join us in this desperately hard life we live.  He arrived in the humblest of circumstances in order to live the perfect life we could not, die in our place, and rise again proclaiming victory over sin and death.

Today, our kids may have been excited about new Legos and endless feasting and treats, but I pray that as they grow, they will become more and more excited about the One who was the ultimate gift to this world.

Merry Christmas to you and your family today, and may your new year be filled with many blessings from our good and faithful God!

PS I must boast about one of our favorite Christmas gifts this year: some beautiful family portraits by my dear friend Ruth Thomas, of which my new blog header is one of my favorites.  If you are local and want some very reasonably priced family photos, please let me put you in touch with her!

 

November News

My goodness, time is flying by these days.  Happy Thanksgiving!  And this year, we have much to be thankful for!

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(The AWANA gang dressed up for Harvest Night.  Our new AWANA leaders are fairly exhausting me with all the theme nights, but the kids are having a ball!)

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Since Verity’s arrival, we have been getting back into our groove with life and school, but there is precious little down time. I always forget how time consuming nursing a new baby is, but I do remember that these early months fly by too quickly.  All too soon, she’ll be wriggling to get off my lap and explore, so I am soaking in every minute of her while I can.

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(First smiles!)

The end of October saw us dressing up an awful lot for people who don’t celebrate Halloween.  First, the kids had their annual “Favorite Bible Hero” night at AWANA.

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(From left to right:Bea as Balaam’s donkey, Niko as David, Lewis as an Armor of God knight, Pippa as Esther, Coraline as Ruth, Romilly as Mephibosheth, Junie as Lydia, and Delia and Annis just jumping in the picture for fun.)

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Then we found ourselves accidentally bound for the zoo on their Trick-or-Treat day, so the kids chose costumes for that, too.  I was particularly impressed with the Anna braid hat that Pippa improvised for Annis that morning!

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On Halloween night, we were visited by these two rather unlikely trick-or-treaters: Honald Clump and Dillary Trinton.  They brought us candy – so we let them in. One of these years our kids are no longer going to be surprised by the “surprise visit” from Pop-pop and Debedee on Halloween, I think!

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In early November the kids had several opportunities to volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  First, they helped give out and collect shoeboxes at Chick-Fil-A, then they helped out at our church’s collection center.

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And that’s what we’ve been up to.

But if you’ve made it this far and are still reading, you will now be rewarded with the biggest news of our November so far: our dossier was logged into China on November 8th!

Yes.  That means that we are adopting again!  In fact, we are quite far along in the process and hope to be traveling to bring home our new son in the Spring.

I have not been deliberately keeping secrets.  This adoption, unlike our others, has felt very tentative at each step. There have been so many times that it seemed like God might be closing the door only to open it again, that we are only now letting ourselves begin to trust that this is actually happening.

Although I am not allowed to share pictures publicly yet, you can get a sneak preview of our boy here on our Family Sponsorship page at Reece’s Rainbow, and learn a bit more about our new son by reading his little bio on the same site here.  We are so excited for him to join our family!

And with that, I now owe you a birth story and an adoption story.  But for now, I need to sleep while my baby is sleeping!

 

Verity Laine: About the Name

Verity.  From the English word meaning “verity, truth”.  This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.

(from BehindtheName.com)

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I’ll admit that Verity’s name has left me a little stumped in the “name story” department: how do I spin a name story about a name we have just loved forever?

With each of our babies, we (mostly I, let’s face it) had compiled a list of names, most of which we had considered for previous babies.  Names would come and go from the list, rising and falling from favor based on what middle name we were trying to accommodate or how they fit with the other kids’ names.  Over the years, certain names started to feel like “our names” even though we had never used them.  But with each of our girls, something new arrived on the list to tempt us away from “our names”, and without exception, it has been that sparkly new name that has ended up stealing our hearts and being “the one”.  Until this one.

I blame getting older.  For some reason, this time nothing new was taking center stage.  At the same time, the names we had loved for years seemed to speak to me with an urgency they’d never had before.  If we don’t use them now, who knows if we’ll ever get another chance?  I’m no Spring chicken these days, after all!

So, as the months ticked by, the list stood with names we had loved since way back when we were naming Pippa and Romilly, oldies but goodies that felt almost as familiar and beloved to me as the names we have actually bestowed.

Meanwhile, in the middle name spot… It had been our intention for a long time to stick to family names above our parents’ generation.  That way we would never have to choose to honor any one of our parents before another.  We thought we had a perfect opportunity while we were adopting Lewis to honor both my mother and Trevor’s mother at the same time, but I suffered a miscarriage that summer.  Lewis was still named for my mother as planned, but Trevor’s mum, Elaine, never got her little namesake.  When we learned we were expecting again, we knew that somehow, this little one would be named for her.

Elaine is a beautiful name, but it just wasn’t playing nice with first names that ended in vowel sounds, which was most of our list.  When we considered shortening it to Laine, lots of possibilities opened back up to us. I found myself particularly drawn to word names like flowers and virtues that were transformed into idyllic little street names when paired with Laine.  (Plus, do you hear how the E-laine is still there when you say her whole name outloud? That makes me happy, too.)

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(A not-so-idyllic street sign, compliments of google.)

With two or three old favorite virtue names already on our list, I went on a brief quest for more that I hadn’t thought of (Velocity… Humidity… Manatee..!? It got a little silly.) before finally accepting that “the name” had probably been right under our noses all along.

Then, on a longish drive home from a family day at the lake, Trevor told me that he was already thinking of her as Verity, and I felt that little thrill I’d been waiting for for almost 8 months (the latest we’ve ever agreed on a name!)  It was perfect.  It was “the name”.

As with Lewis’s name, I had a friend I needed to check with first (and, for the record, it was the same friend!) She graciously assured me that name -sharing was considered an honor in her family, and I went home that night filled with that long-awaited peace of having chosen a name I absolutely adored for our baby girl.

Verity was all but named.  All but the small detail of not knowing whether she was a boy or a girl.  But we did know, really, didn’t we?

A New Little Blessing

Meet Verity Laine Young!

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She arrived at 3:52 am on Wednesday morning, October 5, weighing 7 lbs 14 oz, 21 inches long.  I’m sorry I am so late in getting the news out.  That’s because (spoiler for the birth story post!) we just got home from the hospital yesterday!

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We are all completely in love and enjoying getting to know her.  I’ll be back soon to tell you more about her name and her unusual (for us) arrival into the world!

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Catching Up: More Summer Adventures

The rest of this summer has absolutely flown by.  While I am thankful for September and God’s great mercy in switching on the outdoor AC, I do wonder how time keeps getting away from me like this!

Early August saw these two young ladies off to their first ever overnight camp experience with Hopewell Camps at Tel Hai.  I think I was far more nervous than they were.  They both took all the new experiences in their stride, even my book-loving introvert Romilly!

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This little man had to get in on the photo op action while we were saying our goodbyes:

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On the heels of their week at camp we had a long-overdue weekend visit from Megan, of whom I regretfully took not one picture while she was here.  (You know you’re family when I don’t even get the camera out anymore!) I did take pictures of this amazing ever-growing family of dolls she has made for our kids over the years.

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Lewis’s doll was a new addition this trip (a belated birthday present), and each of the old dolls is receiving a new outfit themed around the flag of their birth country.  I cannot even tell you how much joy these little dolls have given the kids (okay, and me!) over the years.  Aren’t they wonderful?  (Please pardon Niko doll’s lack of pants.  They always turn up eventually, just not in time for the photo shoot this time.)

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Thank you, Megan, for your friendship, for spoiling us, and for another wonderful-but-way-too-short visit.

We celebrated our summer and fall birthday girls in late August with a grand party at pop-pop’s house.  (And do you know, my beautiful firstborn is 12 today?!  Happy, birthday, Pippa!)

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(Loch Ness monster and galaxy cupcakes by Pippa, even though it was her birthday party.)

And then, just like that, we found ourselves starting school again!

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With a baby coming in October and a couple of other adventures on the horizon that I will share about in future posts, we thought it would be good to get an early start.  So far, things have been going remarkably smoothly, as long as we manage to stay at home enough.

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We’ve had a busy season of appointments, which has finally started to settle down, but one permanent feature of our Fall semester at least will be speech therapy for Lewis and Delia and OT for Delia at Theraplay.  It has been over two years since we have tried traditional therapies with Delia, and we finally feel like she is ready to try again.  Lewis, I believe, will take to speech therapy like duck to water, since he wants to speak so badly and is very motivated to work at it.  He just struggles with articulation in a way that I don’t feel I have the tools to help with yet.  I was thrilled to find that both speech therapists who met with them know ASL and are very happy to use that as a stepping stone for spoken language, since both Lewis and Delia currently use more sign than speech.  Watch this space!

In the meatime, we are still chugging along with Delia’s NeuroDevelopmental Program at home, and seeing some encouraging progress.  She contiues to be more willing to attempt to copy speech (when she’s in the mood!) and has even recently added “water” to her list of words she will use meaningfully.  This is one of our daily flash card exercises.  (If the video works?)

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We are coming down the home stretch to baby time (less than six weeks to my due date!). I *think* we finally have our girl name nailed down.  And that’s probably all we’re going to need, right?  Right?!  (Any boy name suggestions are welcome.  He’s really not going to have a name if he’s a he!)

As always, thanks for hanging in there with my sporadic posting.  We are still here.  We are doing well.  We are just busy in all the best possible ways!

 

Summer Adventures 2016

Compared to last summer’s record-breaking five camping trips (or was it six?!), this summer has been relatively low-key, but we did finally get our act together and do some camping this month.

We started off at the end of June visiting friends in central PA.  (Camping is so much more palatable when you have access to a house during the day!)  We visited this fish hatchery, where the kids got to help feed the fish and see them at different stages of development – from the tiniest eggs and the exhausted mama fishies who just laid them, right through to the eight-year-old rainbow trout who had made himself a permanent home there just out of sheer stubbornness.

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Back at the house, there were four-wheeler rides and biking, archery and berry-picking to keep everyone busy.  It was a wonderful week.

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We traveled on from there to spend the 4th of July weekend with some college friends in Ohio.  The kids (and their mama) had a sweet time reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones as well.

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Back at home, Lewis got to go to his first baseball game with Trevor, Niko, Bea, Junie and Coraline.  We received some free tickets from friends at church to a Trenton Thunder (minor league) game.  Everyone had a great time, except for Coraline, who, try as she might, still does not like fireworks one little bit.

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This week, we had our official Just Us camping trip.  I’m not going to lie.  It was hot.  It was the only week Trevor’s work schedule would allow us to go, and *most* of me is saying it was worth it, but it was crazy hot.  And, you know, being six months pregnant didn’t help either.

But look at these kids!  They had so much fun fishing, riding bikes, swimming, just enjoying life together… no, yeah.  It was definitely worth it. I would do it again.  I think.

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Two big kids who just learned to play rummy:

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This little lady discovered the cutest baby ever in our bumper!

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Just a couple of ten-year-olds reading together.  (No, just to clarify, Delia does not read, that we know of, but she does love some bonding time!)

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Our last night.  The whole trip might have been worth it just for this picture!

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Hope you all are having a blessed summer as well, and keeping cool.  I will never complain about our trusty little window AC unit again!

One More Bit of News

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Can you spot the new family member in the above photo?

How about in this one?

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Little Young number ten will be joining us in October sometime!  We had our “big ultrasound” today, and everything looked wonderful with baby.  We are so excited to meet him or her (you know, probably her) and so thankful that God has blessed us this way again!

Quarterly Update

Well, I guess it goes without saying that we’ve been busy!  But probably the bigger reason for my dropping off the radar for a couple months is a shift in our technology.  Back in October, Junie won an iPad (because, you know, that’s a totally appropriate prize for a six-year-old!) in an art contest.  It’s been fun for the whole family, but has also brought with it a few unexpected issues.  It has become our go-to for taking around the house photos, but for outings we still use our other camera, two of them actually!  We are still working out the legistics of getting all of our photos accessible from the same device, and it has just made blogging that little bit less convenient.  Also we don’t turn on the laptop as often as we used to, and blogging on the iPad which I am currently attempting) has proven a less-than-smooth experience in the past, so we shall see how we get on today!

Now that I’ve gotten my excuses out of the way, hello!  Welcome back.  Here’s a little of what you’ve missed:

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This little person turned 2.  Annis is full of words now, sometimes as many as four or five together, but not quite speaking in true sentences yet.  She makes us laugh constantly and is just generally delightful to have around.

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Our big girl got braces!  Pippa has totally amazed us with her commitment to good brushing and flossing and wearing her headgear.  She’s really taken the whole thing in her stride and impressed us with her maturity.  Also, she looks super cute in them, doesn’t she?

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This is Delia a few moments after getting her pajamas on completely unassisted for the first time (in April).  She was so delighted with herself, and so were we!  She continues to chug along with her neurodevelopmental therapy at home.  She doesn’t always enjoy it, but we are seeing slow steady progress  in her ability to focus on a task and her willingness to attempt speech.  Here she is looking at photos with her baby sister:

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Niko had outpatient eye surgery to correct (a little bit of) his strabismus.  This hasn’t impacted his vision, but it lets him hold his head at a more comfortable angle and still keep his wandery eye stabilized.  He was a trouper, as always. (Although it should, perhaps, be noted that this picture was taken BEFORE his surgery, and that he was not quite so smiley afterwards, especially when we were discharged before he got to finish his Lego creation!)

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In late April and into May, we had Trevor’s parents here from England.  We had a wonderful two weeks despite the weather not being at all what I had promised May in Philadelphia would be like.  Very sorry about that!

[This would be a great place for a picture of that visit, but I don’t have any I can get to from the iPad yet.  See what I mean?  I do have a picture of some very cool candy they brought us, so I’ll show you that instead.]

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Lewis continues to make us smile and bring joy to our family.  He’s definitely feeling secure enough to express some opinions and test some boundaries now, and that is completely fine with us.

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His English vocabulary is growing slowly, but his receptive language is growing in leaps and bounds.  Yesterday he gave us one of his first (to my memory) two-word phrases, asking for his beloved new Thomas the train water bottle: “Choo-choo wa’er” (picture “water” pronounced with a cockney accent, and that will get you pretty close to how he says it.  God knew he’d have a British Daddy!)

We are still three weeks away from finishing our school year (totally worth it for two school-free weeks with Gran and Grandad), but we are finished our testing and evaluations, so we’re definitely in the home stretch.

That’s all the news for now, and I do promise not to leave it quite so long this time!

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