Mina is a precious little girl recently rescued from an orphanage in Eastern Europe who is now finally home with her forever family! She had been without a mother or father to love her & care for her each day. No one to rock her, kiss her gently or tell her she's loved. She is blessed with an extra chromosome known as Down syndrome, which for her that meant a life of being viewed as worthless in the country she was born into & a life without hope. Because of this her parents gave her up at the age of 6 months when they found out the diagnosis & from there her life progressivly went down hill. We are the Gower family residing in OKC who recently adopted this little angel. She was extremely malnourished and unable to do just about anything when we first met her. She will be 2 in January & is the size of a 3-6 month old weighing 14lbs. She continues to amaze us at how quickly she is progressing with love and nutrition. She has learned to sit up, roll over, feed herself finger foods, hold her own bottle and loves to interact with toys and other children. Her life has changed so much in such a short period of time and will forever be changed! Thank you Lord for putting a burden on our hearts to rescue this little blessing and making her apart of our family!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mina's first Thanksgiving!

Yesterday was Mina's first Thanksgiving with family!! When we were eating breakfast yesterday it dawned on me that it was Mina's very first Thanksgiving spent with family. This is the first Holiday season that she will be surrounded by lots of family and lots of love!

We spent the morning watching the Macy's day parade with the girls with a cozy fire going and then went over to Jim's families for the day for fun family time and lots of yummy food. Mina absolutely loved it!!! She had enough to eat for a few people and her little belly was full full full!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!! There is so many things I am thankful for!! I am thankful for all of my family, for my wonderful husband and for our 2 precious girls!! I am thankful that within this past year the Lord blessed us with precious Mina and that soon we will have our 3rd little blessing in our arms as well!! I am thankful that Mina will never again have to experience any holidays without family! 

Please remember all the many children in the world who don't have family to spend the holiday season with.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers that the orphans in the world can be surrounded by God's love and that they too will soon have a family come for them!!

Our happy little Turkey on this special Thankful day!!

Mina digging into the big plate of turkey :)

Mina filling up on all the yummy food!

And here she is wiping her own mouth with her napkin :)
All done!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sick Baby Scare

I think one of the scariest things is when one of your children is struggling to breathe. Last night around 11 Mina woke up and Jim and I heard her making all sorts of funny noises so I went in her room and grabbed her up. She was wheezing really bad with every breath she took. We were so worried and went back and forth on whether or not we should take her to the ER.

We quickly turned the shower on and stood in there with her so the steam could help open her up some.  She started to sound a bit better till we got out of the shower and back to the bed with her.  We gave her some guifenesin to help loosen up the phlegm in her chest and rubbed vicks on her feet and chest and had the humidifier going.  She ended up sleeping between us last night although I could say we didn't get much sleep.  I kept being afraid she would stop breathing and I think I prayed just about the entire night even in my sleep :)  She sounded much better once she fell asleep but still was wheezing most the night.

I took her into the doctor this morning and he tested her for RSV which was negative and said that it sounds like one of the many viruses going around or croup.  She has started breathing so much better through out the day and seems to be doing okay the night time just worries me because most likely it will be coming back again tonight.  The doc perscribed some liquid steroids to help keep the phlegm loose in her chest and hopefully help eliminate some of the wheezing at night and he said to just continue what we did last night with her and it will just have to run its course.

Exciting news: Mina is now up to 17.5 lbs!!!  She has gained 3.5 lbs in the past couple months! Horray!!

Please keep our little angel in your prayers and that she feels better and that this little bug doesn't last long. 

Momma why are you taking my picture right now in the middle of the night when I'm miserable?? :(

Physical therapy!

So physical therapy has finally begun for Mina and it is going great. She has only had 2 physical therapy sessions and is such a fast learner. She has physical therapy 2 times a month for now and if more is needed we will increase it, but they think she is doing extremely well and picking up on everything quickly so it will just be a matter of time and practice for her to learn how to do things.

We have been working on teaching her to go from the sitting position to lying down and from lying down back up to the sitting position. The first day we started working on it by the end of the physical therapy session she did it all by herself trying to get a toy!! Going from lying down to sitting up has been a little bit more of a challenge as she continues to gain the muscle strength but she is doing great. I have walked in her room several times to her sitting up in her crib... now the catch is I don't know if she is actually sitting up on her own or pulling herself up by her bumper or possibly big sister may have helped sit her up. Haven't quite caught this one in action. She does however grab hold of your hand with one of hers and push with her other to pull herself up. Also lately if she is lying on her back and I am leaning over her she will do sit ups to come up and kiss me :) So precious!!! She LOVES to give kisses!! I get 100s of kisses everyday!! She also has added Dadda to her new list of vocabulary words. Horray!!! Daddy is very excited about this one!

Another thing we have been working on is knee time or the crawling position. She hates being up on her knees but is starting to get a little more used to the idea. We have used a motivating toy to get her to stay up on her knees as she plays with it and watches the balls go around and recently she actually let go of the toy table and was just sitting on her knees for about 5 minutes (very exciting!!) Now the crawling position on her hands and knees usually results in several tears... she just doesn't like it but she will do it for a little while before she realizes she can successfully get out of that position on her own. Hopefully before to much longer this little one will take off crawling :) and then this mama will have to do more chasing around. LOL
Mina has also been doing great with potty training. She still doesn't tell me when she needs to go but sometimes when I ask her she will actually shake her head. Usually if her diaper is dry when I check it we will take her potty and 99.9% of the time she will always go & gets so excited!! Lately I've only had to change 1-2 diapers a day! Horray!!

She is really doing wonderful developmentally for the short time she's been home with us and we are so proud of our girl!!

Video of Mina going from sitting to crawling around.

In the crawling position

Spending time on her knees

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning with the Duggars!

God always amazes me. Just this past week when Jim and I were just chatting one day I told him I think it would be awesome if he ever got the opportunity to do a shoot for the Duggars and how much I would love to come along for that. Little did I know that within the week after saying that he would actually get contacted for a shoot there & what a blessing it would be that I got to go along. I normally don't go out with Jim on shoots but he had been out of town in Kansas and hadn't had much sleep the night before and had been up since 4am. After making it back home around 9pm from Kansas he loaded the truck up and we left around 11pm without any sleep to head to Arkansas to be there for a 4am call time. He needed someone to ride with him to help keep him up and thankfully my brother couldn't go & my mom said she would keep the girls overnight so I got to go with him. Thank you mom!!

First off it was so wonderful to get so much time with my husband. We had 8 hours in drive time and it was great to just have that time to talk with one another and spend time together. I always love long chat times with my hubby :) And we talked and talked the whole way there & back to keep each other up. Wonderful time I cherish and am so grateful for! I sure do love my husband and it is sure wonderful to get alone time with him!

Today has been such a wonderful experience and I am so grateful for the time I got to spend meeting and being with the Duggar family. They are such a sweet sweet loving family and it is just such an amazing thing to be in a home surrounded with the love of Christ and amazing people that follow the Lord. I have always had a list of questions I'd love to ask Michelle Duggar and learn from her and today I actually got the chance to talk to her. She is such an amazing woman. She visited with me for about an hour and gave me so many tips, advice, resources, books she recommends and homeschooling tools and programs they use. Their children are all so precious and so well behaved and they are such a welcoming beautiful family.

Today I really felt like I got one of the greatest opportunities of a lifetime in meeting a family I look up to as being such a wonderful role model and example of following Christ. I love Michelle's sweet calm gentle spirit and pray that I can become more and more like that as I follow after God & my relationship with Him grows. So many people a lot of times are so busy with their own lives and what's going on just trying to keep up with themselves but Michelle took time out of her day to pour into my life (a complete stranger) and share with me things she has learned over the years & pour blessings and words of encouragement into my family & it meant so much to me.

Anyway if you all are wondering what we were there for this morning on the Today show they had a live shot of their family and announcing that Josh and Anna will be having their 2nd child. What great joy and excitement for them to be blessed with another gift of life!

Check out the Duggars at http://www.duggarfamily.com/ and catch them on TLC.
We still have 2 years till homeschooling starts for our little ones but I am so excited to have this information and resources for when we do start homeschooling. I am also very excited to get the Monki See Monki Doo videos to start with the girls to begin to teach them to read and recognize words.

To my sister and my mommy friends that are homeschooling or about to start here's a list for Education and Homeschooling children:
  • Monki See Monki Doo Videos for babies & preschoolers http://www.monkisee.com/
  • Sing, Spell, Read and Write (phonics) - 1st- 3rd grade
  • ACE- Accelerated Christian Education- Pace workbooks Math, English & Spelling - 1st-3rd grade
  • SOS- Switched On Schoolhouse - 3rd grade and up
  • Typing Tutor- Mavis Beacon- 3rd grade & up
2 books recommended that I can't wait to read on parenting and discipline:
  • How to Be the Parents of Happy And Obedient Children- Roy Lessin
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart- Tedd Tripp

Thank you to Michelle and the Duggar family for welcoming us into their home, pouring into us and teaching us tips on how to raise our children in a Godly home!

Also HAPPY VETERAN'S DAY to my precious husband and all other's who've served!  Baby I love you and am so proud of you for serving our country!!  Thank you to all Veteran's!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Today is Orphan Sunday

So today is orphan Sunday.....

We have been home with Mina now for 2 months and as the time has flown by with all the adjustments of life with an additional child, doctors visits, and working towards getting therapy started my thoughts still continously go back to all those we had to leave behind.

There's not a video I watch, a song for orphans I hear, or a story I read that doesn't almost instantly bring tears to my eyes.  Maybe a part of that could be me being hormonal since I'm pregnant :)

I have really been searching to find what more I can do for the remaining 143+million still out there in this world longing for their family.  I recently attended the Chazown conference with Life Church about finding your purpose and vision for which God created you for! And am currently searching and praying that God reveals to me what He created me for and what I can do to serve Him during my life on this earth! I have ideas but there are so many things I feel I want to do for the Lord and not enough time and energy in a lifetime to do it all.

If I'm being 100% honest part of me just wishes to push the pain and hurt and thoughts that burden my heart away... but what good would that do. I have only looked at the precious children on Reeces Rainbow a few times since I have been home mostly because I know I will long and hurt for them and want to bring them all home with me. Obviously I am not super human and can't care for 143million orphans in my lifetime and can only do what I can so I am here using my voice to advocate for these precious little ones. 

Please watch these videos and pray and ask the Lord what more you can do whether it be through prayer, financial support, or adoption.  God has called us ALL to care for the orphans and be the father to the fatherless. That is part of our job as christians and followers of Christ.  So I truly ask you on this Orphan Sunday to take today and spend it in prayer searching for what the Lord will have you do to help save the life of a child.  Please pray pray pray for all these precious children that live life without family, without love and without the proper care and nurishment they need to survive. Please pray that the Lord comfort and embrace them as only He can.  Please pray for the Hearts of God's people to be burdened and do something to stand up against the injustice that happens to these precious blessings.

They are not a burden, they are a gift!

We are so blessed by Mina being a part of our family and thank the Lord God for blessing us with her and giving us a burden to bring her home that regardless of what people said we couldn't shake! 

Check out http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ and seek out a child or children to pray for by name, to possibly sponsor financially, or help be a voice and advocate to help him or her find a forever family!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A hurting heart for her mama!

I have been overfilled with pure joy the past many days as I have watched this amazing caterpillar turn into a butterfly.  As Mina has changed, learned, and grown so much recently and is doing things so much quicker than I had ever imgained.  I look at her with so much excitment and adoration with amazement of the little gift the Lord blessed us with and can't help but think about her birth mother and all the joy she's missing. 

As Mina continues to say mama over and over numerous times a day and look up at me with arms stretched high with the biggest grin on her face.... as she bobs her head and dances anytime she hears music, as she lays her head into my chest and snuggles.... as she pats my back while I'm loving on her and she blows me many many kisses I think of all the things her mother is missing out on and my heart hurts for her.  There is so much love and happiness Mina has brought into our lives and our home and although I am so grateful it saddens me to think of all her family is missing by her not being a part of their life.

I often times wonder what her mother's thoughts are; how frequently does she think of her; how much does she miss her; does she wonder where she is or if she is even still alive???  Mina lived with her parents and siblings till she was 6 months old. They had bonded with her, loved her and cared for her.... and then because of her diagnosis they gave her away.  My mind wonders if they gave her away because of fear of the unknown, because of society, did they give her away in hopes that she would be adopted and have a better chance?? I suppose my mind will always wonder about her feelings and thoughts.

My hope is that one day maybe our precious girl can meet her biological family.  That they can see her and see how much she's changed and know how blessed our family has been because of her.

I am now 24 weeks along in my pregnancy and having met with my midwife yesterday was asked if I had any of the prenatal testings- amniocentesis done.  Once again I said no and I'm not interested in ever having any type of testing regarding that matter done.  At least this time around my no was 100% accepted and not argued as opposed to my pregnancy with Myla were the doctor pushed and pushed to still receive a big N-O.  For me I just don't see the point in it.  No matter what the case maybe, what my child maybe born with or what could possibly be wrong with our baby we will always love her and accept her whole-heartedly.  We will be thankful for the blessing and gift that God chose to give us and we will cherish her & know that God ALWAYS has a plan and purpose for each child that He creates!

I absolutely love my precious girls and think that we are so blessed to soon have 3 little angels that God has entrusted us with.  There is no greater gift in the world and I can not thank Him enough for the blessings!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mina army crawl, standing, waving & kissing! Horray!!

Mina has been doing wonderful!! She seems to be loving life and living more and more. Each day that passes more light, life and spark seem to enter this precious childs body. She is so much happier... smiley and filled with laughter.

She is my best little eater. She will eat and eat and never is there a time she doesn't clean her plate :) And she is definitely not picky. She has been doing great with finger foods and loves to feed herself. We can definitely tell that she has been gaining a little weight. Praise the Lord!! Her little feet look like they've been growing also. Everytime it is meal time and we put her in the high chair she gets so excited and just gets the biggest smile.

She is babbling and baby talking much much more now. She is really good with b sounds like.... ba (for ball) and loves to say bye, and the past couple days she has been saying mama a ton :) Horray!!

Her biggest joy and accomplishment is waving and blowing kisses and she can melt your heart doing it. She always knows when someone is getting ready to leave and she will start making loud noises to get your attention as she blows kisses and waves extatically.
So yesterday and today have been such wonderful blessings and great joy for us!! Last night Mina was in the jumper and I kept telling her to stand up and she did it. She would stand up for about 10-15 seconds and did it probably close to 30 times. We are so proud of her! It was so exciting. She was so proud of herself and did it over and over again with a huge smile. Then today after she went potty on the toilet before her nap I laid her down to put her diaper on and she just quickly rolled over and started army crawling across her bedroom floor. She made it all the way to the other side pulling herself with her arms and pushing her legs behind her :) She isn't up on her hands and knees but she is doing so good and is now more mobile. Before she had been rolling to get to what she wanted and now she can actually pull herself and scoot to get what she wants. We had her do it several times back and forth and I finally caught it on video (although by this point she was a bit tired.) YAY Go Mina!!! She sure has made her mommy and daddy very proud of her! She is just learning so quickly! Amazing what 2 months of love and nourishment can do! This is the same little girl that just 2 months ago couldn't even sit up on her own or drink out of a bottle. WOW!! Blows my mind!

Here's several videos to share with you all the JOY we got to experience today!

Mina  showing you her newest accomplishment! Waving, Kissing, and Standing!!

So cute!! She is jumping jumping away!!!

Our little crawling machine!! Watch out world Mina is becoming mobile!  Woohoo!

Another video of her standing!

We finally are getting somewhere with her physical therapy getting started. Our doctor recommend we use Sooner Start for therapy. He said they were really wonderful and do a great job with total overall care and getting you with the therapist and people you need to best help the child develop and learn. So over a month ago we began the process where the doctor sent in the information for us to get started. Weeks went by and I called several times trying to get in contact with someone to set up the initial visit. Well finally after leaving my information and frustration (I might add) with the receptionist a few days later I received a call from a lady saying she was assigned as our resource coordinator and she scheduled an evaluation appt for Mina. We chose the earliest she had available which was a week out. The day arrives, my house is picked up in order and clean to the best of my ability, the girls are dressed and ready and we are sitting around the living room waiting for a nock on the door to meet our resource coordinator. Well 2 minutes before our 9:30 appointment I get a phone call from another lady stating that our coordinator won't be here. So all the preparing, cleaning, and waiting was for nothing. On the bright side my house was in order and my girls were all ready for the day. Then I'm told that I will receive a call from someone in a few days to re-schedule. I wait till the following week- no call. I call in... no answer. I wait some more. Finally another week gone by I get a hold of them and am told that I am assigned another resource coordinator because ours is no longer with them but our new resource coordinator has not yet started so I will have to wait till she gets in the office to receive a call for an appointment. I get a call the next day thankfully and do a 20 minute phone interview and get an appointment scheduled for the next week to finally have the evaluation. The day comes. Same routine of cleaning, preparing and no show. So here my girls are at 12:00 waiting for our company and by 12:30 I get ahold of someone in the office that gives me the # to the lady who was supposed to be at my home. Call her and leave a message. Call the office back and explain the situation and my frustration once again. The receptionist takes down my information and contacts our new resource coordinator and then called me back and apologized saying they are not sure what happened but somehow our appointment slot had disappeared. Not quite sure how that happens. Then she proceeded to tell me that they are no longer doing in home evaluations and I will have to drive my child in for the evaluation about 30 minutes away and it will take around an hour and a half to 2 hours. By this point I was pretty much in tears. Trying to take both the girls downtown, park in a parking garage, tote them to the building and then entertain them for 2 hrs during the evaluation and answer ?s just didn't seem like it would go over all that well... but we had no other choices so the appt was scheduled. About 15 minutes later and if I'm being honest... many tears later.... the lady calls me back and said that 2 ladies in the office that do evaluations overheard our conversation and felt really bad for me and agreed to come to my house the next afternoon. Praise the Lord!! So on Wednesday we met with them in our home. Basically it was just an evaluation to prove to them that Mina does indeed need therapy. Of course in every area and aspect of Mina's life they confirmed that she is extremely behind (as if we needed the confirmation :) So now we are just waiting on getting therapy scheduled at this point. So soon very soon I hope and pray her therapy will finally begin and she will be able to continue to quickly develop as she has been!

It is so crazy to think that Mina has now been home with us for almost 2 months and she has learned so much and changed so much. I took a walk down memory lane earlier today reminiscing and looking at pictures of when we first met Mina and Oh what a different child she was. She has learned so much and we are so proud of our little angel. She continues to amaze us and I look forward to seeing what great things God has in store for her life!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mina's test results- Praise the Lord!

I am so excited we finally got all of Mina's test results.  Everything was normal and negative.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with her that they have found. Praise the Lord!! We are so excited and overjoyed!!   They tested her for CBC, RPR, Lead, Hep B and C, HIV, anemia, and I think a couple others that I can't remember at the moment.  They are sending me a full report on all of the labs done and the results as well as the echo.  Even her echo ultrasound for her heart murmur came back normal! Yay! Glad to have all of that complete and finally hear the results!  The only test they have left that they want to do is a chromosome analysis test which was what they were going to draw blood for this past Monday.  Apparently the test takes quite a bit of blood from what the nurse said when I talked to her.  I think we are going to hold off on that because we already know she has DS and I hate to take her and put her through more torcher having more blood drawn already and that's not a high concern since we already know what the outcome of that test will be anyways.

Thank you all for your prayers for her!! We are so appreciative and are so thankful that the Lord has protected little Miss Mina and that she is healthy! Can't ask for anything more than that! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord always!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Potty potty on the Pot!

Yes this is Mina sitting on the potty :)  LOL  We have just been occasionally sitting her on the potty to get her used to it and she actually doesn't mind it anymore.  In the beginning she hated it and cried but now she will sit there and actually go sometime! Horray! Still I'm sure we have a long ways to go before she is officially potty trained but I think you can never start to early.  After all Myla was fully potty trained by 18 months.... and wouldn't it be so wonderful if Mina is by the time this baby gets here in February so we will only have 1 in diapers :)  Well we will see.  I know from everything I've read DS children are usually potty trained later but it never hurts to start getting them used to the idea.

Tonight she went poopoo on the potty!  Hip hip horray.  One less poopy diaper I had to change!  She has probably gone #2 at least 15 times on the potty... mostly due to daddy's patience sitting with her... but we are very proud of our girl!

Czech Festival & Echo Ultrasound of Mina's heart

Well Friday night we spent the night at my parents because when we returned home from Ukraine with our newest little blessing somehow our dogs were covered in fleas.  They haven't had fleas in at least 4 years but of course the only month we are ever gone is when they get them and by the time we were home and immediately put frontline on them it was already to late and they had already occupied our home.  Grrr..... I hate fleas.  I think that would be one question I would want to ask the Lord when I get to heaven the Why?... but of course when that day comes I won't give a flying flip about those annoying little pesky critters.  Anyway, Friday we did an in depth thorough clean, vacume and Jim took us to my mom's so that he could do a good spray down of everything in our home. We have been trying numerous things the past month since we made it back and just haven't been able to get rid of them.  Good news is that since all of that I have only seen one flea in the past 4 days and have been vacumming and emptying the vacume cleaner like a crazy person and have been praying to the Lord each day to please make them forever gone. So Saturday morning we woke up 2 hrs after my poor husband had fallen asleep (@ 6:30am) cause after he finished spraying he stayed up and worked on his truck changing out the motor mount.  He is amazing and my hero :)   Oh of topic again.... back to saturday morning when we got up and went to the Czech festival parade out in Yukon.  We went to the parade and met up with a lot of our family, ate some yummy food and enjoyed the festivities.

All ready to go to the Parade with her thinking cap on :)

Mina watching the parade with Mommy

Myla watching the parade with daddy!

Playing with balloons!

Watching the parade in Aunt Jamies arms!
What a fun fun day we had!!!
Today we had to take Mina to have her Echo/ ultrasound of her heart done.  We went to Children's hospital and suprisingly it didn't take to long.  Mina did great at first and then got really upset in the middle. She kept trying to push the ultrasound scanner thingy off her chest and attempted to pull of the sticky things on her. Don't you just love my medical terminology :)  I tried to give her milk, let her play with my phone, toys... but still she was not having it. After many tears mommy got smart and pulled out the puffs.  Why didn't I think of that sooner.  She loves those things and those kept the tears away... at least until the Echo was done and then she got upset at me for putting the puffs away.  LOL Overall she did great!! Of course the person doing it couldn't tell us anything. She said the cardiologist would review it and write up a report this afternoon and that we should probably hear from her pediatrician on Thursday.  My mom went with me since Jim is out of town and she thinks that it didn't look exactly right and she thought it appeared there maybe a problem.   We are just praying and hoping for the best and waiting till we hear the results.  Please say a prayer for little Mina and that all will be fine with her little heart. I will let you all know once we get the results.

Below she is reaching for a puff :)

And here she is eating it!

And this is my super sleepy girl after a long day and practically missing her nap since the Echo was during her naptime.

We still haven't heard back on any of the blood work just yet.  Still waiting for a call from the doctors office.  We didn't end up going back in yesterday (Monday) for more blood to be drawn quite frankly because I didn't want to torcher the child two days in row.  We will probably take her into the lab to have more blood drawn on Thursday or Friday and then it will probably be a week or so on those remaining test results.  Once we get back any news I will let everyone know.

Thank you all for your prayers and for continuing to follow our journey and see as our precious girl changes and grows!!