First of all, thank you to everyone who takes the time to visit here and check in on our family. It makes us feel incredibly special to think that people we have never met (and those we know well, too!) care about our family and want to know what’s going on with us. But I want to extra thank those who take the time to leave a comment. I can’t tell you how many times your caring thoughts and words have brought a smile to my face and even tears to my eyes.
With that in mind, I want to answer a few of your questions from the past few months. I always intend to write back to each person who leaves a comment, but that has been happening less and less frequently as life has gotten fuller, so here we go:
Q: I am in awe of whatever super powers you have to get eight children to not only look at the camera but smile so perfectly! Please share your secret… I have a hard enough time with just one!
A: Do you really want to know? Okay.
No super-powers, unfortunately. At least three of my children at any given time suffer from a condition called Camera Smile. As soon as the camera appears, they contort their faces into the strangest, most unflattering expressions you have ever seen. This ailment is only aggravated by any use of the words, “Smile” or “Say Cheese!” The only cure for this unfortunate sickness is to actually make them smile real smiles.
To this end, my usual method for photo shoots is to stand on the coffee table and act ridiculous. Tell jokes, use funny voices, sing a song about how they’re not smiling or who’s not looking at the camera, opera-style usually. It’s a delicate balance, because the silliness has to be turned up high enough to rattle out the fake smiles, but if it gets too high then you start to get the head thrown back, falling on each other giggling pictures. I have many, many outtakes in both directions, but usually somewhere in there we get a gem. And you only need the one.
Q: I love how sweet your kids are always dressed by the way. Do you let them choose their clothes in the morning, or do you lay out their outfits?
A: Thank you!
For photo shoot days I totally and shamelessly pick out their clothes and coordinate them. I also like them matchy when we go somewhere busy and public, so I can find them all easily. For everyday, some of them have opinions and others don’t care that much, so I often still do the majority of the choosing.
June is the fashionista, and has been known to burst into tears at some of the awful suggestions I have put to her. She sometimes helps me pick out outfits for all the girls. Niko and I had our first major fight over a sweater vest I wanted him to wear to church when he was first home, so he usually gets a choice of a couple tops but still needs some boundaries. The two big girls wear the same sizes, so I usually pick out a couple options and they can decide between them who wears what. Special requests are welcome and usually granted, but all the girls’ clothes are kept upstairs, so it seems easier to just grab clothes for everyone than to have them all going up and digging through drawers at the same time.
Q: Oh my goodness! I barely recognized Delia! … I was wondering how she was doing so far. How has she done in learning English and/or her ability to communicate?
A: Your comment made my heart smile, thank you! Delia is doing so well in so many ways, and we are thankful for every baby step she takes toward cracking the language thing.
She is such a puzzle. When she wants to say a word, she says it so clearly and repeatedly that we are convinced she could just start talking if she wanted to. She has so far mastered: Delia, Pippa, baby, all done, no, okay, hot, oww, knock, uh-oh and probably a few others I can’t think of right now. She says them in appropriate situations, but somehow she isn’t quite using them in the way we use words. It is more like she is mimicking than actually speaking.
She also continues to love to sign and learn new signs. The way she uses sign seems to be a closer to true communication for her. She will sign “no” after she does something she knows she shouldn’t (!), sign “nice” when we remind her to use gentle hands, and sign “dog” over and over again when she sees one. She uses “more” and “water” regularly to ask for food and drink. We even had her first “sentence” right after Annis was born when she clearly signed “more” followed by “baby” after holding Annis for a short time and wanting more. At a guess I think she is at around the 20 sign mark, but they are not all clear, and sometimes she just gestures randomly, hoping to eventually hit on something that looks like a sign to us and gets her something good.
We are encouraged, though. Her frustration level has gone down significantly as she has learned to express her wants and needs. She will hopefully be starting speech therapy over the summer, and it will be interesting to see how that goes. She was hit or miss with behaving well enough at occupational therapy for it to be of any value. Similarly, she was too distracted and sometimes difficult at PT and we have decided to leave it for the summer and try again in the fall. Speech therapy will be so dependent on her willingness to make an effort, and control is still such a huge, dominating factor for her. We have every confidence that she has the ability to speak, but it will have to come on her terms. There is absolutely no persuading her to do something she doesn’t want to.
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Thanks again for your comments and questions. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, fire away. I’ve been doing a terrible job of coming up with topics of my own lately, so you may see me start posting more if you keep them coming!