Saturday, February 8, 2014

3 Month Home Update

While we were in the adoption process I used to dream of what Ivan would be like. I used to long to know anything about his little personality. I wondered what characteristics I would one day use to describe my sweet boy and I couldn't wait to study him and discover how God had created and formed this little one who would one day be my son.

Everyday there are moments when I find myself just marveling at this child. He is the sweetest most tender child I have ever known. He has such an innocence and softness about him which blows my mind because I know just a little of the pain that he has had to endure. He is so strong and determined. He wants to please and make happy. He delights in making others smile and laugh. AND he LOVES to be LOVED. He soaks up our love and affection and he happily pours it back out on others.

He is simply AMAZING.

I know I have said this a million times, but we are so blessed to have him in our lives.

This past month has brought HUGE changes for our family.

We're now very settled into our life as a family of four. Most days are pretty relaxed (in our crazy sort of way) and routine. If nothing shifts the flow Ivan has grown used to, we rarely see any meltdowns from him anymore.

Therapy has made a huge difference for him and therefore, our whole family. The daily visits break up our days and make them go by quickly. Ivan is making daily progress especially in regards to his english. It's amazing how quickly he has picked it up.

Right now we are working with his pt to teach him to pull himself into a chair, crawl correctly, and sit up by himself. He gets stronger every week and is continually amazing his therapists who LOVE watching and hearing (they have daily meetings and can't wait to hear what special new thing Ivan did that day) of his progress.

PT session. Holding himself up in a kneeling position.

Using the pt's scooter thing to help him crawl correctly.

Pushing himself with FLAT hands. He is so used to crawling on his wrists (he kind of army crawls), it's much harder (but much better) for him to crawl with his hands flat.
He is getting more and more comfortable holding himself in the sitting position.
just watching choo choo with brother. They love to sit together.
I feel like I have become a Pt, OT, and speech therapist in the past month. It's a challenge to fit in Ivan's stretches, exercises, facial messages (to help strengthen muscles for speech and feeding), Walbarger brushing (technique to help with sensory processing) and joint compressions each day. We're still learning to fit everything into our routine. I've found that as a mama of a child with special needs, it's really important to give yourself grace each day. Quality time and love has to come first, everything else is built on that. I'll admit, there's days when we don't get our stretching or anything in during the day, but instead of letting guilt take over, I have to remind myself, what really matters is that Ivan knows he is loved, safe, and that his basic needs have been met that day.

Maxwell family homeschool has officially begun. 

It's really more like preschool right now as our focus is on learning english, basic skills, sensory play, and learning the alphabet and numbers.

finger painting with pudding
Ivan has very short daily lessons on the ipad
drinking from an open cup... one handed even!!
Finger painting, he has a disgusted look on his face because he does not enjoy slimy textures.

He definitely preferred using the brush
We play with water almost daily. It calms Ivan and scooping water for hours has really strengthened and stretched his wrists and arms. Double win!! Landon is screaming FISHY!!

Landon giving Ivan his cup. It melts my heart whenever I catch them sharing, which is happening a lot more often now :)
Sensory play with jello. Yes, Landon's tool of choice is the potato masher. We call him our smasher-crasher-tornado child.

Ivan didn't really know what to think of it at first.

They both explored and played with it for a whole hour!!
Going sensory silly!!
 So basically our home school consists of lots of book reading, lots of snuggling, lots of fun, and LOTS of messes :)

This little boy is such a sponge! He picks up new words daily and is already learning the alphabet and can almost count to ten.

We truly never imagined it would be possible for him to excel and learn at this rate.

Love. is. powerful.

He knows that mama and daddy believe in him.

Some days it's still hard for him to break through the limitations that he was confined to his whole life, but he is a brave little man who is exploring, learning, and growing out of the mold that he was born into.

We couldn't be prouder of our Ivan.

We have also been noticing some subtle although HUGE changes in how Landon and Ivan interact with each other.

Ivan is now the first person that Landon asks for in the morning. Landon always makes sure that Ivan has his puppy and if Landon wants "his" cup he is not satisfied unless Ivan gets his cup as well. He will even grab it out of the fridge and go give it to his brother before he even takes his own.

Ivan MUST know where Landon is at all times. He says "nigh nigh Landon love you too" whenever Landon goes down for a nap. He is the first person to know when Landon wakes up and if Landon is sleeping a little too long for his liking he will crawl over to their room, knock on their door and yell "LANDON... HI... MORNING"until Landon wakes up. Ivan, being the awesome big brother he is, will also tell me when Landon is doing something he's not supposed to be doing. The other day Ivan brought me a piece of a book and said "Mama, Landon." Sure enough I went and found Landon tearing pages out of my books. I wasn't too happy about that one, but I just love the big brother Ivan is becoming and the doting (sometimes naughty) baby brother Landon is.

They just MELT my heart by how they love each other.

I was making dinner and I gave Landon a little piece of mango. He went and fed it to Ivan then he came back for another one for himself lol.
My sweet little toddler indulging in his mango
Mommy went out one night and daddy let them stay up and watch a movie.
So whats next for our eldest boy? Well a couple days ago he saw an eye doctor and we got some answers to questions we have been wondering since we first met Ivan. We really didn't think Ivan could see anything except a couple feet in front of him when we first brought him home. His eyes constantly twitched (nystagmus) and we didn't know if that would be able to be corrected. As the months have gone by his eyes have changed dramatically. After about a month home he began asking to watch shows on the ipad and tv whereas before he could not focus enough to really see what was going on. We started to realize that he seemed to be focusing better and showing signs of seeing things at further distances.

We told the eye doctor this and he was very pleased. He confirmed that he does have nystagmus which cannot be corrected, but since Ivan seems to be able to control it most of the time the doctor said he doesn't see it interfering with his life. We really only see it acting up when he is in situations where he isn't comfortable or feeling safe.

The doctor also told us that Ivan can see things near and far away, but he has to work VERY hard to do so. To make life MUCH easier on our little man, he will be getting his first pair of glasses soon. We are so excited to see the difference it'll make for him to not have to struggle and work so hard just to see the world around him. It's going to be monumental for him I'm sure!!

Also coming up, at the end of this month, we'll be heading to Gillettes Childrens hospital in St. Paul MN. Ivan will have two days worth of appointments while we're there and will be evaluated by orthopedics, neurology, and physiatry.

It will be a very busy couple days, but we are really looking forward to getting some answers and finding out what our next steps for Ivan will be.

Ryan and I have such hope that Ivan will walk someday. We will do whatever we can to fight for that dream to become a reality for our baby. We know that he has a long road ahead of him. The neglect that his little body has suffered cannot be erased, but our hope for his future is rooted in the knowledge that nothing is impossible for our God. God has a plan for our dear boy and whether he walks someday or not, his life is going to matter. Ivan has already enriched our lives more than we could of imagined.

Our sweet, silly, joy-filled, 100% perfect blessing. ~ Home 3 Months ~
In God's perfect timing, this song came on the radio a couple weeks ago when my heart was in desperate need of the reminder. It has quickly become our families anthem for this season of life.

There are so many unknowns when we attempt to look into and plan our families future, but no matter what challenges we may face, we cling to the truth that LOVE ALONE IS TRULY WORTH THE FIGHT.


Fight on my friends, love is worth it!! 



  2. Nice post and awesome pictures, especially the jello mess!! You are a wonderful mother, Natalie! Now, how about a visit up this way? :)

  3. Thank you Auntie Camille, we're hoping to finally visit home this Spring or for sure this summer. It all kind of depends on how much traveling to St. Paul we will be doing. Love and miss you!

  4. What a blessed family you all are. God has truly used you for His purpose.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I can relate to this post on so many levels! We have a bio daughter, and two adopted sons. One has many health needs related to early life trauma and I too feel like I am/should be doing PT, OT and ST all day:) And we homeschool and life is just crazy sometimes! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and life. You're doing important and special work and I can see the love in your boys' little faces!