Thursday, June 22, 2017

HAPPY BELATED FATHER'S DAY


I know I am late in wishing Andrew Happy Father's Day.  On Father's Day, we were driving to Niagara Falls so I had no way to post on that day.

So today I want to take the time to say thank you to Andrew for being a wonderful husband to me and an incredible father to our 5 kids.  You provide and care for us beyond measure.  Your wisdom and love guide and direct us each and every day.   You are tons of fun and love spending time with your kids.  Thank you for all you do!

One of the most frequent comments I get about our adoptions of Ben and Jonah is, "You must have an amazing husband."   To this comment, I am so happy I can agree!

When we were first married or even after having our 3 biological kids, we never imagined we would adopt 2 children.  It was never in our plan, but it was in God's plan for us!  

Andrew, as a man of God, felt the Lord calling us to adopt two children with special needs.  With much prayer, he led our family down this road, and we are very grateful for his willingness to listen to God's direction in our lives.  

It's quite an adventure!






Wednesday, June 21, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEN for real this time!

Our proud birthday boy

Willing to share the spotlight with Jonah.  


 Birthday cupcakes at 10 a.m.!

Bubble gun battles


 Brotherly love


Ben with the smoking gun!

Ben is probably thinking it is an American tradition to celebrate your birthday for over a month!

Over Memorial Day weekend, we had a huge family party for him.  Then at school on 6-6, his 5K class celebrated all summer birthdays so he had party for that.  And last week Sunday, Grandma and Grandpa gave him his present of a John Deere tractor.


But TODAY is actually his real birthday: 6-21-10.


So today we are going to celebrate his birthday one more time.  Next year might be a bit of disappointment....


Cupcakes at 10 am this morning, 2 bubble blowing guns for presents, and eating out for pizza tonight!


We love you so much Benjamin Kostas!  You are a joy to have in our family.  You are funny, sweet, full of spunk, and super smart.  You seem to be a born leader so it will be very exciting to see what you do in life someday.  You will be in charge of something, we are sure!


On this special day, I can't help but think of your birth parents, especially your birth mother.  I don't know what time of day you were born.  I don't know when they were first given your diagnosis of Down syndrome.  I don't know how much time they spent with you in the hospital after being given that diagnosis.  I don't know if your birth day had any amount of happiness in it because because your birth mother knew she would not be able to keep you because you had Down syndrome.  My heart breaks for her today as she may be thinking of the baby boy she never got to be with.  


I also don't know how your birthdays were acknowledged for the past 5 years in the orphanage.  I hope that some sort of celebration happened, but I just don't know.  


All of these things I don't know bring tears to my eyes.  You are a beautiful child and such a blessing to our family.  You were never a mistake.  There is nothing about you that makes you not worthy to be someone's son.   


I hope and pray that in time your country (and many other countries) will start to see that children with Down syndrome are mostly just like any other children:  cute, sweet, naughty :), and full of so much potential!  You might get places in a little different way, but you will get there.  


I am so grateful that we have the privilege to watch you grow and blossom.


Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

BEST PARENTS EVER!


Tomorrow is Father's Day so I realize this post should be a tribute to my dad.  However, the wonderful thing about my parents is that I always think of them as together.  What they have modeled and taught me over all these years is their deep love for each other. They are a pair, always working together and always supporting each other in whatever life has thrown them over the years.  And with 5 kids, they have faced a lot!  

So today I honor not only my wonderful dad, but my wonderful parents. They truly are the best parents ever!  I have been blessed from little on to have them guide and direct me through life.  As a parent myself, I realize how much work and stress I must have put them through.  But they never gave up on me and always were there for me.  I would not be who I am today if it hadn't been for my wonderful dad and mom.

I love you both so much!  Thank you for everything!  

Happy Father's Day Dad and Mom!



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

NO SCHOOL?????

I guess you can take the boy of out of school, but not school out of the boy.

Jonah got the backpacks ready to go this morning thinking he would be off to school as usual after breakfast.

Jonah really misses school.  This is the first summer in his 4 years of school that he actually noticed the change in routine for the summer.  

I am so happy that school is such a source of joy for him and not frustration.  It is my hope and prayer this continues!  

Ben isn't really showing any feelings positive or negative about the change in routine.  Probably because Ben's entire life has been changed this past year so what's one more new thing, right?

Because it is so important to keep things fresh in the boys' minds during the summer, this is how we are doing "school" this summer:  

1. I am trying to work 30 minutes a day with the boys.  

2. Jonah's 5K teacher is tutoring them once a week (isn't that nice????!!!).  

3. The boys will also be having tutoring once a week at Gigi's Playhouse in Milwaukee.  Gigi's Playhouses are Down syndrome achievement centers located across the United States.  They are amazing places! Here is the link:
Gigi's Playhouse 

4. And student majoring in special education from a local college is also working with the boys once a week.  

So hopefully, with all that input this summer, the boys should not take any steps backwards for school in the fall.  

Finally, the boys will have a month of swimming lessons and possibly a week at Vacation Bible School. 

Whew, sounds like this mom is going to have to be organized to get them where they are suppose to be!

The reason we are not sending the boys to the summer school offered by our district is because our school can't offer one-on-one support during the summer.  The boys' teachers felt that having them in school without the proper support might lead to them thinking school is a place they can misbehave.  After all our hard work of showing them how to act appropriately at school, we didn't want to risk jeopardizing that.  

So that is why we are doing this hodge podge of "school" this summer, but I think it will work. 

Teaching the boys to be flexible and go with the flow is a life skill they need so this will probably help serve that purpose also.





Sunday, June 11, 2017

WALK THIS WAY

The boys and I went for a walk the other day.  Please note, this walk was only down the block and back!  

Some things to know:  the federal safety guidelines must have changed because it now seems a life jacket is recommended for riding a bike instead of a helmet, and even suggested for safety when walking.

I am hope these make you smile!








Do you walk this way?  Might be more fun...


Thursday, June 8, 2017

OUR AMAZING JONAH

Although this blog primarily tells the story of our adoption of Ben, today I would like to give you some Jonah history.  

This little boy's adoption story is as incredible as Ben's, although very different.  Jonah was a domestic adoption only 20 minutes from our home.  That in itself is a huge difference considering we flew over 5000 miles for Ben!  However, the miracles that God worked to bring us and Jonah together are still incredible!  

And as I think about Jonah completing 5K today and moving onto 1st grade, I am just in awe of how the Lord has watched over him and helped him learn and grow and stay healthy.  So I wanted to take a stroll down memory lane for Jonah because his story is amazing!









LAST DAY OF SCHOOL

The boys before school.  Take note, by next fall there will probably be 2 houses built in the background.  13 years we got to enjoy open field!


I have to include this photo of our Lydia.  She graduated from 8th grade today!  Lydia received the Presidential Award of Education for having a GPA over 3.8 for the past 4 years!  We love our Liddy!


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Ben with his 5K teacher

Jonah with his 5K teacher

Jonah with his special education teacher and aides from the past 4 years.  
I wasn't able to get photos of his speech, physical, and occupational therapists.  

Ben with his special education teacher and aides. 
I wasn't able to get photos of his speech, physical, and occupational therapists. 

Today is the last day of 5K for the boys.  Next year is a big leap for them going into 1st grade.  They will be in a new special education room for grades 1-4 so new teachers and aides.  For Jonah, this is exceptionally huge because he has been with same special ed teacher and aides for the past 4 years!  They are like family to us.  

So today is a happy sad day for me.  

I am happy because I am so proud of what these boys have accomplished this past year and for Jonah, the past 4 years.  I am excited because they have such great potential to grow up and do amazing things.  What some see as a disability, I see them having Down syndrome as part of what makes them unique, beautiful, and incredible individuals.  I really believe the sky is the limit for these two!

I am also happy because of the amazing group of teachers and aides that have worked with Ben and Jonah the past year and 4 years.  These ladies are an amazing group of women who definitely show their love and concern for their students.  They have taken the challenges that the boys have presented and helped them (and us) overcome those challenges with dignity.  No one at school has ever made me feel like they were disappointed or frustrated with Ben and Jonah.  Every curve ball was taken in stride, and everyone pitched in to help them and find a solution or better way to do things.  What a blessing we have had with our experience at school!  

So a big shout out to Mrs. Suhorepetz, Mrs. Seider, Mrs. Claerbaut, Ms. Laura, Mrs. Poole (1st 3 yrs with Jonah), Mrs. Brochtrup, Mrs. Brayshaw (1st 2 years with Jonah), Mrs. Kloiber, Mrs. Schmitz, Mrs. Brill, Mrs. Velzke and Mrs. Hoffman.  Thank you to all of you.  We so appreciate your help!!!!

I am also happy because summer is such a fun time of year, time to relax and go exciting places like Niagra Falls and Mammoth Cave.  Time to swim and go to the beach.  

I am sad because the last day of school means that all the kiddos just keep getting older.  Stephen is going to be a senior in high school next year, Lydia a freshman, and Abigail will be in year 2 of college- oh my!  I don't handle change well  (maybe Jonah gets his difficulty from me?).  

So I leave you with these two funny cartoons that I think moms will find funny...