Photgraphy

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

4 months home - Post Adoption Update

4 Months!!!

How has it only been 4 months when it's felt like 4 years? She just fits into our family so perfectly.  She was meant to be a Richardson, there is no doubt about that. 

She is really really doing so great.  I don't want to paint the picture that our journey has been perfect but no major challenges up to this point.  She really is a happy little bundle of joy most of the time.  She is a bit winey sometimes, maybe because she is getting more comfortable sharing her emotions, I'm not sure.  Or maybe her wine is more of means to communicate with us. While her needs are easy to meet I do wish she could tell us everything going through her head.   

This girl doesn't lack in the affection department what so ever.  Recently she just doesn't kiss me on each cheek like she normally would.  She kisses all over my face.  She will kiss down my arm, lol.  Its so sweet but goodness it is a lot of kisses. haha. She will grab both sides of my cheeks, caress my face. She is so affectionate and it just puts a huge smile on my face.  Who doesn't love to be loved on?  She cannot say I love you yet but she does the I love you sign all the time.  Even before I say it or do the sign, she will do it on her own.  I mean, if that doesn't melt your heart, I don't know what will. 

She will be starting school this fall in September or October.  She will likely go 3-4 days a week from 11-2. Once school starts I'm basically going to be an Uber service for my kids, lol.  

The boys, Libby and Willow will all be going to 3 different schools with different drop-off and pick-up times. Not to mention the activities they will be doing and I'm sure some private therapies we will be starting as well.  Whew! This is one major reason I'm not ready for Summer to be over. 

Willow and Libby are doing leaps and bounds better. They steal toys and pester each other like sisters but Libby especially is doing a lot better with the adjustment of a new sister.  She calls Willow her baby sister and is protective of her.  I just pray their relationship continues to grow and blossom into something so amazing. Willow has a special relationship with all of her siblings. I'm sharing several of random pictures below.  All from my iPhone which is another huge reminder for me to pull out my real camera more often.  But none the less, these pictures have captured memories and moments I'll cherish.  So cheesy sounding, I know but true. 

Enjoy the picture overload!!!!

Here she is with Cooper before bed. My 2 most snuggly babies right here. 


 With her Aiden too.  She crawls to the top bunk every night to give him some love too. 


Libby doesn't cuddle with Willow every night but when they do, its just priceless.  I will treasure these photos before bedtime. 


 

I'll just let the rest of the photos speak for themselves mainly.  










Willow was scared going through the car wash so Aiden was quick to make her feel safe. 


We are in the pool at least 3 days a week.  She absolutely loves the water!



Willow has made some sweet friends too.  Look how cute her and Madeley are here.  





Car rides are always a bit crazy!!!!



Her face after she got into Mommy's make up.  It was only funny the first time. ;)





She absolutely loves dessert! All Kinds!!!!  



One in a Melon!!! :)


And then my absolute favorite in the last 2 months is this picture!!!


Eating
She is still a great eater…no surprise there.  We are having no issues in this area.  She is becoming a little more particular about what she eats which is just like any other kid and I'm glad she feels comfortable enough to let us know. 

Sleeping
She sleeps great and sleeps hard which is such a huge blessing for everyone in the house.   Not sleeping good can be such a hard season to go through but this is not one we have had to deal with.  Sometimes she doesn't always want to go to sleep and when I ask her if she wants to go Night Night, she will shake her head No almost every time. lol. We are going to be transitioning her into her bedroom soon that has a crib that will be set up toddler style (since she can crawl out anyways) but we have to get some safeguards set up in place first.  So in the next update in a couple months, she will be in her own room. That is the plan anyways. ;)

Challenges
 Willow is still throwing food down but not as much.  I'm trying to respond and not react.  I think sometimes she just wants a reaction from me regardless if I'm making a sad face and telling her no.  She does love to throw stuff in the trash, so I'm hoping she catches on to that versus throwing stuff on the ground.  I've noticed some of her behaviors are more sensory seeking as well as just doing it for attention so I'm trying to figure out the best way to respond and then also give her the sensory she needs too.  This is all new to me so I've been reading books and reaching out to seasoned moms of children with down syndrome.  Some things she does, I just try to give grace.  I've got to pick my battles here.  If she takes her shoes off every single time we get in the car, then oh well.  That's not something worth getting all worked up over so I have let that go.   Obviously though when I find her putting make up all over her face or putting hand soap all of her body in the bathroom, I have to correct that.  I'm trying to not have a big reaction like I want to in the moment and respond the best way for her. 

Development
I don't even know where to start because she seriously does everything she sets her mind to.  She is so smart and is like a little sponge right now learning so much in her new world.  She loves learning the motions to new songs and is getting really good at doing them all pretty well to head, shoulders, knees and toes.  We are also working on counting now, just to 5.  She just loves to learn so I'm really excited for her to start school in the fall. 

Speech/Sign Language
She hasn't said very many new words since my last update but she is understanding even more of what we say to her.  She does say Amen after a prayer, but it comes out Ma-Men. Its so precious. She is showing all the signs to definitely be more verbal one day, it will just take some time.  She moves at her own pace and we will do everything we can to help her reach her full potential. 

Physical Growth
She is still 25ish lbs and has grown about 1/2 inch.  Her hair is still growing, its getting so much thicker and longer.  I feel like her longer hair is making her look a bit older so it appears she has physically grown more than she has.  

Attachment 
This has blossomed the most since my last update.  Willow is so very attached to her family, especially me.  She does prefer me most of the time.  She will briefly go to other people but then generally wants to come right back to me.  She is kind of like velcro, she wants to be with me all the time.  She still goes and plays of course but if I'm sitting down for any reason you can bet she is going be right next to me or on top of me in 2 seconds.  If you have been to my house, you have seen this. LOL.   She attends sunday school now and each time I drop her off, she cries, which is a good thing.  Within a minute or so she is calm and playing.  Then when I pick her up, its so darn cute how excited she gets. She absolutely 100% knows that I am mama.  Its not near the struggle it was before to keep her from going to strangers and just loving on them like she would before.  

Dr. Appts
We have not had any doctor appointments recently but next week she has a followup with the ENT.  She will likely needs tubes in her ears.  Then in a couple weeks from now she will get her eyes checked.  Can you imagine Willow in glasses??  I'm not positive she will need them but the chances are high, so we will find that out soon as well. 

..............

So that pretty much sums up the last couple months with our precious Willow! One thing in case you haven't noticed lately is how passionate I am about down syndrome, adoption and advocating for so many adorable children that need a family to say Yes to them.  I see their little faces posted everywhere every single day and its gut wrenching.  We didn't know very much about Willow when we said Yes to her.  We stepped out in complete faith over fear and goodness can you believe what we would of missed?  When I think about all the Joy we would of missed if we had just stayed comfortable, it just tears me up inside.  She obviously is pretty smitten with us too so its a huge blessing all around.  One that I cannot even explain.  

I'm saying all of this to say, Don't let adoption or Down syndrome or children that have lived most or all of their lives in an orphanage make you un comfortable.  Yes there are unknowns but goodness if God has planted a seed in your heart and you are wanting to learn more, don't ignore that.  Start asking questions and most importantly pray about it.   

If its God's will for your family, God will provide a way.  But you have to step out in Complete Faith.  Our Adoption Journey has been such a faith journey, it still is. Regardless of the struggles you will encounter,  it will be one of the Best Yes's in your Entire LIFE!  

Thanks for all the love, comments and stories that we hear via in person, messaged, emailed, texted to us.  I love reading them and responding.  It is such an encouragement and I just want to give all the Glory to God.  None of this would be possible without him. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our First Family Photos

EEEK! I'm so excited to share these. I knew that shortly after we got home from China, that I would want to get some photos of our family of 6. Just as when you have a newborn, you do the same.  It's just silly to wait that long, you want to capture those moments when it's new.   Even though we are all still adjusting, I didn't want to wait very long.  

Typically we do pictures in the fall so it was nice to change things up and do a Summer shoot. Plus I wanted to dress in a different type of wardrobe as well.  It was definitely warm during our session but if you wait till an hour before sunset it's not terrible and that is what we did.  We met Sarah, the photographer at 7:15 in Dallas. She was so sweet and great to work with. 

I know being a photographer myself that late evening sessions can be tougher on the little ones but it's so worth to try and make it happen so you can get this yummy light. We put the girls down for later naps that day so that they wouldn't have a meltdown mid session or be really tired and out of it.  Plus it's Summer so I figured, what the heck! Let's try and make this work. 

The first picture I'm sharing is my favorite one of our family of 6.  It's not really posed  (which is what I wanted) and we each are just looking at each other.  Willow was patting Coopers back which was sweet and Libby was just looking at the flowers,  I think it just turned out perfect.  You can see all of our outfits pretty well too.  This mama worked hard on that part.  LOL!



Choosing outfits for a session can be daunting, lol.   It really can.   I genuinely tried to make this work without having to purchase anything.  However I did end up buying (on the day before our session) a few items because I really just wanted this to come together as best as possible.  It was obviously a very special session with Willow now being home.  There are more images of Willow too since this was her first session.  That was intentional in case you might be wondering why there are so many of her.  I have thousands of pictures of my other 3 kiddos as I've always got to photograph them since they day they were born.   

Typically I tell Moms to choose what you want to wear first.  Because lets be real, how often our us moms always in the pictures these days??  It was actually Libby's matilda jane romper though with the lemons on them, that I centered the outfits around.  I knew it was the perfect summer outfit for pictures so I started there.  The boys were easy.  I brought in blue as another color so we had a pretty soft pastel palette.  Cooper wore the blue shorts with a grey shirt, which he already had.  Score!  Aiden wore the green pants so all the boys were not wearing shorts and it was a nice compliment to the green in Libby's romper as well.  I did buy Aiden just a plain white polo to wear which he can totally wear again. No big deal.  Tyler wore a blue polo shirt which complimented Cooper's shorts and a light khaki shorts which he already had in his closet as well. 

I wanted to bring in more yellow (which is definitely not my color) so I found this simple yellow dress at baby gap for Willow with the white lace embroidered trim around the bottom and it was the perfect compliment.  It was on sale too for $14 which made it even better.   I try not to mix too many different patterns for a session.  I already had the flower crown that Willow is wearing and believe it or not, she loves to wear it.  Unlike her bows that she always pulls out. 

So far, I had only had to spend about $30 for Aiden's shirt and Willow's dress but I still could not find something that I loved for myself.  I had some dresses but nothing that was the right color or style. So I glanced at Nordstroms the day before and got super lucky with this one.  It was a soft pink and very flattering on.  It had these beautiful ruffles around the front and had a nice flow to it.  Although it isn't something I will wear often, I absolutely fell in love with it and will wear it again. 

Here it is.  If you need a dress for a wedding or just a special occasion, consider this dress.  It comes in 5 colors too. The color I got is called Hibiscus which is a little darker than the color shown on this model.  Its a great price as well and great length for those that are not real tall....like me. ;)


Alright, so enough about our wardrobe. Let me share the other favorites from this session. 

Lots of tickling here :)




I love the colors so much in all these photos but I love me some black and whites too!




 I wish you could see some of Willows face in this picture but she was reaching down to grab Cooper's hand.  So Sweet! We were all just doing our own thing and that is what I love about it.  Definitely one of my favorites!


Now Willow is looking, but Miss Libby looks kinda sad.  ;)  She wasn't her perky self for this shoot.  She was not a fan of the tall grass not to mention she is 2 1/2 so there ya go. LOL.  But this is real and this is us.  I still love it!


Kisses...I just adore this one!


I'm so thankful for all the precious photos Sarah got of me and Willow.  It really shows what a joy she is and how much our love is both growing for one another.  It's still so surreal that she is home and in our arms.  God is so good and my heart is so FULL!




Next up, was photos of just the 4 kiddos.  Much easier said than done. lol. But they turned out really cute!

Libby's face though...there is always one. ;)



This is when Tyler and I were acting totally ridiculous trying to get them all to look like they love each other.  Lol. They really do but if you are parents you know what I'm talking about.  It's more so on their terms so whenever you really want them to cooperate, it's going to be more of a struggle.



I can't believe we have 2 blondes, a red head and one with black hair.  Looks like we need a brunette now. haha.  I'm sure if Tyler is reading this, he might of just passed out. 


We were getting ready to all lay on the quilt for more family photos and Willow came up to me which made for more sweet shots of just me and her.  I couldn't love these more! 











Tyler joined in as well.  The other 3 kiddos were having some skittles (yes we bribed) and taking a little break.  The boys especially were getting hot. Aiden complained about having pants on.  There is always something with one of them. 








How beautiful is this quilt that Sarah brought? 







Thank you again so much Sarah Hamilton Photography! We will cherish these photos and absolutely love how they turned out.