Thursday, October 9, 2014

Back to school and other fun things

I realize that the kids have been back to school for a couple of months now, but it's never too late for back to school pictures, right?  We are getting into a good routine, and everyone is adjusting well to the new schedule.  Will is a big kindergartner now, Alex is a cool 3rd grader, and Nate is officially a middle school student!  When the boys all got dressed for their first day of school, Will was so excited and said, "My guys and I all match, except our heads!"  Will was also very excited about his rest mat, until he realized that he actually had to take a nap every day...

I was surprised one day to turn around and find Will eating his afternoon snack of goldfish with chopsticks...

Anna has started back at our church's Mother's Day Out 2 days a week and is really enjoying her time there.  She has 5 different therapists/teachers from the school system who are seeing her during the week (since Anna is a big 3 year old and has transitioned from the Early Steps program to the school system) and it has worked well to have 4 of the therapists/teachers see her at Mother's Day Out.  Everyone has been very kind to work with us on our crazy schedule!  Anna also attends a group speech class twice a week and is continuing with her outpatient speech and OT.  Thankfully she loves staying busy and loves all her teachers/therapists!

First day of MDO!

Love the new backpack!

Anna's true feelings about taking back to school pictures

The boys had a fun homecoming parade at school a few weeks ago, and they collected one of Anna's favorite things - beads!  One day I walked in to find Anna methodically placing beads on David, and I found out that David had told her to put the beads on him and she happily complied.  She will also wear the beads herself for about 5 seconds before she throws them on the floor.

A couple of weeks ago I had some problems in the morning with Big Blue (my super cool minivan), so in an attempt to get Anna to her group speech class in time, I quickly put Anna in the backseat of David's truck and put my laptop in the backseat as well (which normally I would never do).  As I was driving, I heard some banging and looked in the mirror to see Anna very awkwardly turning my computer every direction.  I start calling out, "Anna, put Mommy's computer down please!  Be gentle, careful please!" (as if that would work - ha)   Anyway, at a super long stoplight I looked back and saw Anna had positioned my computer correctly, opened it up, and was typing away.  No wonder my icons are always mixed up on my desktop!

People often ask how Anna is coming along with her speech, and it is a very slow process.  Communication is very difficult for her, and she gets frustrated at times.  She still doesn't have any words, but she is finally starting to catch on to the signing process a little bit more.  Her receptive ability is improving - I know she understands a lot of what we say, even if she doesn't always do what we ask her to do!  She is making some good progress in other areas, though - she loves painting and coloring (and playing in the water/mud is still her favorite).  Anna loves coloring so much that she is coloring everywhere - herself, walls, the kitchen floor, her dresser, etc.  But it actually makes me so happy when she develops these new skills that it doesn't bother me like it would with the boys!  David and I laugh and say that Anna's version of the "terrible twos" is even more intense than all 3 of the boys put together.  But she is such a sweet girl - very loving and curious, and she keeps all of us on our toes!  Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement as we continue to work with Anna - when I look back at those early videos of her, it reminds me of how far she has come!

Friday, July 11, 2014

a few updates

I realize that I am not good about updating the blog these days, but I just had to put a few of these pictures up (even though some are several months old!)  As far as an Anna update, she is doing well but still has a long way to go as far as communication goes!  She is growing and keeping me busy.  Still no words yet, which leads to some frustrating moments - but she is finally starting to sign (we have been working diligently with her on signing for quite some time, but she is starting to come around with that).  She will bring me a book and give me the sign for "book" - then sort of dances in place and gives me her big cheesy smile when I clap for her and read the book.  She only has a couple of other signs for now, but I feel like she is about to take off in that area.  And we know she understands more and more - the boys will tell her something, and she will respond appropriately (for example, they will ask her if she wants to "bounce" and she will run to her big Swiss ball and wait for one of them to pick her up and bounce her on the ball).

Anna continues to do lots of therapy - PT, OT, and speech - and she started doing group speech therapy at a new place this past week.  Sometimes I feel a little discouraged about her progress, but when I look back at where she started...for example, I thought I would never get her off the bottle!  And now she can sip through a straw like a champ!  She is also starting to scribble with a crayon on paper, which is a vast improvement.  Anna also really enjoys sidewalk chalk and finds ways to color on doors/walls whenever she can.

Back in March we made a trip to Oklahoma, and we got to meet my friend Sarah's new sweet daughter, Rachel, who was in the same orphanage as Anna (that still is so crazy to me - Sarah and I have literally talked about adopting from China since we were in college, I think).  We also met up with my dear friend Paulette, whose daughter Lillie is also from China and so much fun!  Side note: my awesome niece, Taylor, was kind enough to come along with me when all of us moms met up at Chick-Fil-A.  She made the visit so much more enjoyable by helping us chase all the kids!  All of  decided that we should not have any get-togethers without Taylor present.

I love this picture of Taylor with Anna and Rachel - they are both trying to escape all the picture-taking!

All the moms with their Chinese kids...and Will (who is making a goofy face, of course)

Will and Lillie had a blast together - this was taken when we walked through an Asian grocery store (I had no idea such a large store existed in Oklahoma City!)  We were quite a sight in the store - all of us moms with our Chinese kids!
On a more serious note, Rachel will be having surgery soon and I know her family would appreciate your prayers.  Rachel is doing so well, and I can't imagine a better family for her than Sarah, Steve, and their boys - they are amazing!  You can read more about her upcoming procedure here: The next step 

In the fall a group will be going to Anna's orphanage for a mission trip.  One of the participants is going to put together a photo book of children who have been adopted from Qingyang SWI to take to the directors and nannies and show them how the kids are doing.  So I asked a friend from church if she would be willing to try to get a picture of Anna that I could add to the book.  Wouldn't you know that it rained on the day we had decided to meet - and of course that makes sense, because my little Anna is obsessed with rain and mud puddles!  So Cathy got some great pictures of Anna playing in the rain, and even looking outside at the rain (which is also what she does at home when it is raining - because she wants to be outside in the rain!).

Finally, we had a fun visit with another adoptive family who came to visit Baton Rouge a few weeks ago - and Anna now has a new friend named Jenna.  It is such a blessing to meet other families who have adopted and understand the shared experiences.  Jenna's family traveled with our dear friends the Halls when they went to China to get their daughter, so they have a unique friendship.  Now, getting Anna to sit still for a picture is difficult enough - but I am truly impressed that my friend June was able to get all three girls together for a picture!  I think somehow some candy was involved as a bribe...

Anna, Sarah Jane, and Jenna

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Boomer Sooner and fun with friends!

It was a happy day in the Goza household the night of the Sugar Bowl…OU beat Alabama, so Anna was very pleased.  Actually, she didn't really care much about the game, but she did sit for quite some time with David and her brothers on the couch…which is a very rare occurrence!  

She totally adores her daddy!

It has been so much fun to have a new friend at church - our dear friends brought their daughter home on October 31st, and we know that Sarah Jane and Anna will be great friends!  It is so much fun to have Sarah Jane around and see her with her new family.  Sarah Jane was very thoughtful and brought home several cute dresses for Anna from China, so Sarah Jane's mom and I will continue to attempt to get pictures of the girls together.  M&Ms were a great enticement to distract the girls.

As I type this, one of my dear friends, Sarah, is on her way to China to bring home her daughter.  Sarah and I were roommates in college, and we have talked for years about adoption.  Sarah's daughter is in the same orphanage where Anna was and is approximately the same age as Anna…what are the odds of that?  Sarah has 4 boys and is now going to experience the joys of having a little girl, too!  If anyone wants to follow her journey, here is her blog:
I have found that it is so much more fun to share in the joy of a friend traveling to adopt than the actual process of doing it…I was so thankful to get to travel with my mom to get Anna, but whew!  It is WAY more fun to have already been through the process and rejoice with others as they travel!  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My little messy girl

I haven't posted in a while, but I was inspired to post something as I have been reading my friend's blog daily.  As I write this, dear friends of ours are flying back from China with their new 3 year old precious little girl…and I am so happy for them!  (not happy that they are having to fly for a million hours, because that's a pain…but it will all be over soon!)

Anna has turned into a little tornado of mess…a precious mess…but really a mess.  When we go anywhere, she somehow finds the mud and water puddles and will not stop until she jumps in them.  I have given up fighting her and just bring towels with me.  We are always the last to leave practice (for the boys' various sporting activities), so everyone always walks past my little muddy girl.  People now know me as the mom with the little girl in the mud.  

Yes…she puts her head in the muddy water

Anna also likes to find her own snacks these days.  She will reach her little hands up and pull anything she can off the table or the edge of the kitchen counter.  And if the kitchen cabinets aren't closed she will pry them open and find something she can dump out.  The boys often forget and leave their cups too close to the edge of the table…Anna will pour them out on the floor, then sit in the milk/water/juice and pat it with her little hands.

She also found a (non-toxic) blue marker left on the ground and decided to taste it... 

And here's a non-messy picture! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Anna and her "guys"

I have been meaning for some time to post about Anna's interactions with her brothers.  I have to say that leading up to the trip to China to get Anna I was concerned about how it would impact them.  It is a big adjustment, after all, for the arrival of a new child in a family - and knowing that sweet Anna would need a lot of therapy and medical attention made me a little worried about how the boys would respond.  As I look back over the past year, I am so thankful for what an amazing job they have done with their baby sister.  The one I was most worried about (since he was losing his "baby status" in the family) was Will - and I can't keep Will away from Anna!  I am constantly having to tell Will that Anna needs some space, let's not hug Anna so much right now, Will is constantly hugging and interacting with her.  A month or two after Anna came home, Will started to make up his own birth story to match Anna' he would tell us something like this:  "When I was a baby girl in China, and my name was Josh Hamilton, and I lived in an orphanage, you came and got me and took me to Dallas and named me Will!"  The older boys thought that was absolutely hilarious and love to tell that story over and over again - and we've finally convinced Will that he was never a Chinese baby girl with a major league baseball player's name - that God brought children to our home in different ways!  A few weeks ago Will's class worked on a project in Sunday school.  They were talking about how God provides for them, and the teachers had the kids tell them what they would ask God to provide them.  Here's Will's list: "house, clothes, tent, water, food, baby sister, and a Bible".  Now, that is a very nice list - he even threw in the Bible - but a couple of items are noticeably absent.  I guess David, Nate, Alex and I won't take it too personally.
Alex and Nate have been so kind with their sister as well.  Alex has such a tender heart and will tell me frequently that he thinks we should adopt another baby since there are so many orphans (sigh - what a kind heart - but no plans for that at this time!)  Nate gets Anna out of her crib almost every morning, and he loves to carry her around and laugh with her.  Certainly my boys have their moments, and they aren't always joyful to attend Anna's doctor or therapy visits and wait - but I am grateful that they have adjusted so well.  I hear some version of this phrase frequently in our home from all 3 of the boys (with no prompting from me or David), "I am so glad Anna is a part of our family!"  Me too, too!

At the airport - 5/23/12

Nate admitted (about 2 months ago) that he had tears in his eyes when he first saw Anna


So much attention!

New pictures taken 2 weeks ago - thanks to our friend Jessica!  

This is one of my favorites - it's as if Anna is saying "I'm surrounded by boys!"

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's year later!

Gotcha Day - 1 year anniversary

So thankful for all of Anna's progress - here's a video with some highlights of the past year!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More firsts...including first steps!

Anna has been making some great progress over the past few weeks, and she has achieved some fun milestones.  Here are some highlights:

A toothbrush finally made it into her mouth!  Unfortunately she stole Nate's toothbrush, but he was kind enough to let her have it.  And it has music with it, which makes it extra cool.

She is starting to put things in her mouth, which is a big step for her.  She has been very reluctant to explore this way, so thankfully she is making progress in this area (she is chewing on a baby-safe necklace, I might add)

While she is still reluctant to eat any food besides baby food, her SLP has been able to sneak in a fruit roll-up!  She and the boys will certainly appreciate all the same junk food together.  Good thing we're working on using a toothbrush.

She is standing independently for long periods of time now.  As noted in this picture, she has developed a strong affinity for glasses.  Thankfully mr. potato head glasses have been found and are her comfort toy - she carries them everywhere!  And don't even think about picking her up if you have glasses on...she will snatch them off your face!

She made it down the aisle as a little flower girl at my brothers wedding, escorted by her 3 brothers and cousin, without screaming!  

And the big news - she took her first steps tonight!  My PT goal was for her to take independent steps by her 2nd birthday, so we met the goal with a month to spare.