I started this post as an end-of-the-year thing, but never finished it, so I'll just turn it into a One Year Home post instead! Some of it will be about James, and some of it about the rest of us. (warning: it will be LONG!)
1. One year ago yesterday we brought home a tiny little black haired boy who was clearly pretty scared and didn't understand what on earth had just happened. He went through some grieving periods in the first several months, but overall he remained his happy self. We really feel like he has bonded and attached to us quite nicely and without much difficulty. Yes, there have been hard times, but compared to what could have been, the transition overall was smooth. I credit that to the wonderful, loving foster family he had; his easy-going personality; and a whole lot of prayer!
In the beginning we had a whole slew of doctors' appointments, dental work, and various testing. Once that all settled down, we focused on getting his services started through the school district and getting his first cochlear implant. Over the summer he started therapy and he currently has 4 different therapies every week. While it's hard to juggle all that, along with work and homeschooling, he really enjoys it all and is doing very well. His vocabulary is continually growing and he is starting to string words together more consistently. I would consider him to be much like a two year old in his expressive communication. He'll get stuck on a word or phrase and say it over and over again, with no other information!! But he is so much better than he was just a few months ago. Counting is still a challenge, and so is identifying colors, but he'll get there. His drawing is improving and becoming more varied, he can put simple puzzles together, find hidden pictures, sort and match just about anything, ride a bike, hit a baseball, dress himself completely (minus buttons and snaps), and a host of other things. He has many friends and wants to see them all everyday! He gets pretty mad when I tell him we aren't seeing anyone today!! He goes to Sunday School every week and is in the 4 year old class on Wednesdays. He is the only one of the three kids who gets excited to go to work with me, and he does well playing with other kids there. As far as hearing, we are coming up on the 3 month mark for hearing. And he is doing incredibly well! He consistently recognizes his name and will look when you call him (a glorious thing, I have to say!). He knows when the phone rings and when the microwave dings. He sings along every time the national anthem is on tv. He is making so many more sounds, and is getting OOO, OH, and OW in addition to his normal AAAAAA. He is learning to recognize animal sounds and imitate them. I have very little doubt that this boy is going to be oral someday. He is scheduled for the other ear to be implanted next month.
So now onto the rest of the things that happened in the last year!!
2. We experienced a miracle in March when the Lord completely healed Jason's fractured back! With all that was going on at the time, I don't think we gave proper praise to the Lord publicly, so we shall remedy that now. Starting in the fall of 2012 Jason was having terrible back pain and was misdiagnosed for many months before his surgeon finally discovered a fracture in his spine. He continued to work (his very physical job) despite the unbearable pain until January, just before we traveled to get James. He was in constant pain but rarely complained. My man is a trooper! Anyway, at our church we have First Friday services each month, and last March we also had a special First Saturday service. I had stayed home with the kids and Jason went to run sound. He decided to go down for prayer when they were praying for healing and other needs. Some men gathered around and prayed for him, and somewhere around 9:00 I got a phone call saying, "I think I've just been healed! My back doesn't hurt and I can move!!" Such a wonderful blessing, as we were looking at the real possibility of surgery to repair the spine. After another 6 or 8 weeks of rehab, he was able to return to full duty at work, and has had no problems since! God still heals, folks!! If you are in need of a miracle, don't give up hope!!
3. Aedan and I survived our first year of homeschool through PAcyber (which I hated, and did not go back to this year) and he did very well in everything. We even finished all his work early! Liana learned to read, thanks to Hooked on Phonics. No kidding, it really does "work for me" like the old commercials said. She also completed several kindergarten level workbooks. This school year we are doing traditional homeschooling with Aedan in second grade and Liana in first. We moved our homeschooling area from the dining room table to the kitchen, and everyone is moving along quite nicely. We are blessed to have a few other homeschooling families to do things with, and get encouragement and ideas. People always ask about James and school...right now he is still somewhat behind as far as school type things, but we are working on it! We do not think he will be ready to start kindergarten this fall, though. But he will still be eligible for therapy through the AIU through next school year, so we will continue our current therapies (He has a special ed teacher, a teacher of the deaf, and speech). I do plan to homeschool him too, although I do consider sending him to the school for the deaf on occasion. We will cross that bridge when we get to it, I guess!
4. Aedan played coach-pitch baseball in the spring and the fall and was (I must say) very impressive. He certainly did not get my athletic ability, thank the Lord! His dream is to play professional baseball someday, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he did. We talk often about the need to practice and work hard, but also the need to seek God's will for our lives and do what He has planned for us. Aedan just really hopes that plan includes MLB! Liana played soccer and then t-ball at the Y, and she loved both. But we are encouraging her more toward t-ball again in the spring, when she can play for Plum, like Aedan does. She's quite the little athlete herself, and can hit the ball really well. She's already on me to buy her cleats for the spring! James will technically be old enough for t-ball too, so we will see if he is ready for organized sports this year.
5. We hit a rough patch in our marriage, which was not surprising given all the stress of adding a special needs child. I felt very overwhelmed and discouraged for many months, and disengaged from my husband. I'm not the most open person to begin with, but add stress and fatigue and I tend to shut down. But, praise God, we are still together and learning how to keep our marriage strong. I think that even though so many marriages are struggling, we don't like to talk about it and feel guilty and ashamed, which only compounds the problem. If we were more willing to be open with our marital struggles, maybe more marriages would survive, strong and healthy for the long haul. And rest assured, the same God who does miracles and heals bodies also can heal relationships!!
6. Jason left Pepsi after 8 years and went to a company called AIM National Lease. It's a trucking company, and he logs hundred of miles a week hauling insulation panels to different roofing companies and construction sites. He still works long hours, but it's not a physical job like Pepsi, so no more injuries or chronic exhaustion! And he enjoys it, which is always a good thing. We are really thankful that the Lord opened this door when he did.
And there you have it, folks. A recap of the last year, our first as a family of 5. We are looking forward to what God has in store for us in 2014!