Friday, July 30, 2010

Sweet Dreams

I just peeked in on Sofia tonight in her little crib and found her smiling in her sleep.

It made my evening.

Sweet dreams baby girl!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Mini Update

Life is SO incredibly busy. Having four children is SO incredibly hard. The days are long and full and busy and tiring and fun and frustrating. There are moments of bliss like today....having a picnic lunch on our front lawn watching a cement mixer truck make a new pathway for our neighbors yard. Joaquin napping peacefully after a busy morning of therapy. Sofia playing with her hands and her shadow on the picnic blanket. Diego and Mateo getting along, giggling, eating their lunch happily, mesmerized by the construction project going on across the street. And then there are moments of complete CHAOS...a huge dirty diaper explosion from Sofia right before needing to get all the kids in the car to drop off the big boys to soccer camp in time. Joaquin escaping out the door after destroying every room he came in contact with on the way out the door. Diego and Mateo fighting over who is better or faster or smarter or gets to go first or gets to go last, you name it they fight it.

It's hard work being a stay at home mom to four children ages 7 and under. It's exhausting. But I signed up for this so I show up to work every day and put in my best effort. Sometimes I do a pretty good job, some days not so much. But I try to go easy on myself...this is an adjustment for me and for Hector as well as for the kids and for Sofia. We are all evolving as a family of six now.

There are days when I get in a bit of a panic about Sofia's delays. She is making incredible progress and everyone agrees she is doing so well, but I can't help but worry and fear that she has so far to go and is so far behind. What I see at her core is a girl who is smart and capable and strong and determined when she wants to be...but sometimes I also see her lethargy or apathy for things...ghosts from her past where her little spirit may have been damaged and still needs repair. An orphanage is no place for a child...especially a child with special needs.

Sofia is still in the process of having all medical related issues checked out and ruled out. We have seen her pediatrician and an endocrinologist but we still have her cardiology appointment, ENT appointment, audiology appointment and opthomology appointment. She is currently receiving 2 hours of Physical Therapy a week and 1 hour of Occupational Therapy a week and a 1/2 hour of Music Therapy. Starting next week we will add 1 hour of Speech Therapy a week and we will see an Oral Motor Therapist once a month. She is eating all sorts of different foods and textures. And she just started self feeding this week. She learned that she can hold a cracker and put it to her mouth and eat, seems so simple but she never knew this before as everything she ever ate in the orphanage came in a bottle. We are working on the straw drinking but no luck yet. It will take some diligence and effort on my part to switch over to a sippy cup but that is her next goal for feeding. She is still VERY verbal and has excellent mimicking skills. We are still working on independent sitting...she prefers to sit in a tripod. She just started army crawling as a form of transportation...maybe up to 3 feet or so to get to a toy or food. We have so many goals for her and I try not to get overwhelmed.

Most importantly she is loved and is not lacking for love. She's also a bit famous here in Sacramento. I've had strangers stop me and ask "Is that Sofia?" and I've had people stop us in doctor's offices saying they saw Sofia on TV. She has a cult following and if you meet Sofia in person you will see that she takes the job seriously. She puts on her best smiley face and will wave to the crowds. You should see her in the stroller...waves like she's on parade. She's hilarious!

Anyway, just a little update on our baby girl. She continues to grow in our hearts each and every day. I'm still getting used to saying "the kids" instead of "the boys" and it's becoming more and more real that we have a daughter now.  I hope to share more about some deeper thoughts on adoption and special needs and having a girl with DS versus having a boy as time permits and when I get a moment to really assimilate everything that has happened since the beginning of the year. I have so much more to share and talk about. Oh boy, it's been a big year for the Sanchez family. At the end of the day, we are SO blessed and SO fortunate and for that I am SO grateful.

Those Eyes

We went to see the Opthomologist again today for a follow up on Joaquin's strabismus.  It was a good appointment in that Hector and I didn't allow ourselves to feel rushed and we asked a ton of questions and really got a better sense of what the doctor thinks is going on with his eyes.

The GREAT news is that Joaquin has wonderful vision. He does not need glasses and we can proceed with any reading program and visual activities that we want to do with him. This is a HUGE load off my mind as I have put off some interventions that I wanted to do with him because I was concerned about his crossed eyes.

The BAD news (but it's not really that bad) is that we have to patch again for one more month, patching his right eye (the dominant eye) for two hours a day. In one month we return to the doctor's office and if she feels that Joaquin is using both eyes equally, she will recommend surgery at that time. If she still feels there is an inequality, we will continue patching until the eyes are both being used (meaning there is no dominant eye).

The SCARY news is that it really looks like eye surgery for strabismus is in Joaquin's future. This is really hard for me to contemplate. There are many reasons why. First and foremost, we learned at The Institutes that eye surgery should always be avoided and instead we should work hard on helping to change the root or cause of the problem (the brain injury) instead of the result of the problem (the crossed eyes). Second, I hate the idea of cutting a muscle and reattaching it...especially when it has to do with his EYES! Third, I have sort of come to love Joaquin and his crazy crossed eyes and I worry about the "reasons" for doing this. Is it really necessary or is it cosmetic? The doctor seems to think that there are valid medical reasons as well as cosmetic reasons for doing this. Fourth, there is a 75% success rate for this surgery and the other 25% may need additional surgeries to fully resolve the strabismus. Uggh!

So...we have some time to think. We have at least one month of patching before we have to make any big decisions. In one month, we will see what the doctor says and go from there. We will be pursuing a few second opinions. We may see at least one more Opthomologist and then also consult with a Vision Therapist and an Optometrist. Just a few more things to add to our already full plate but Joaquin is SO worth it.

Such a HAM!

Have I mentioned how much I love this kid? Oh I could eat him up! And Sofia along with him. I can already tell we are going to have a lifetime of fun with these two!

Apparently Joaquin found Sofia edible too. He LOVES to kiss his sister but I guess one of those kisses turned into a "love" bite and Sofia ended up with some teeth marks on one of her cheeks. I can't say that I blame him. Those cheeks are irresistible but I will be keeping a closer eye on him from now on!

P.S. These beautiful photographs were taken by Trace Grace Photography. Aren't they AWESOME?!?


Sofia is blossoming here at home with us. It's been exactly 6 weeks today that she has been home with us and I would say that she is fully acclimated to her new life in California. Every day she becomes more and more the precious little girl she was meant to be. Sofia is 17 months old now and she is SO happy and she is eager to smile, laugh and wave hello or goodbye. In fact, I would say waving is her most favorite thing to well as clapping and smacking her lips when she wants to kiss you.

A "mommy" friend of mine (and neighbor) Tracy recently took these beautiful photographs of Sofia and Joaquin in between our occupational therapy sessions that morning and after carting off the big brothers (Diego and Mateo) to summer basketball camp.  I'm in awe of what photographers can capture in such a short amount of time with their talent.  These photographs speak more than any words that I could write. Thank you Tracy for such a lovely gift!

And one medical update...Sofia does NOT have a thyroid issue after all. We tested her 4 different times and the first two showed a VERY slight issue and the last two which were done by a more "careful" and "precise" lab showed no problems at all. We will continue to watch it closely and will most likely test every two months just to make sure we don't miss anything. What is really interesting though is that between the 2nd and 3rd blood draws I began introducing sea kelp into Sofia's diet. I add it in her morning oatmeal and it's extremely high in iodine which helps thyroid function. Could it have helped her in that short of time? I don't know, but I'm sure happy all is well with her right now!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Álvaro del Bosque

Most of you know that Spain won the World Cup this month and for those who follow soccer, you know that this is a huge deal for Spain.  If you ask Jen she'll tell you how passionate I am about soccer. She is probably glad it is over because I was glued to the TV for a month. The day the World Cup started in South Africa we were in Ukraine getting ready to take the train back to Kiev a few days after we took Sofia out of the orphanage. I was so stressed out because I didn't know until the last minute if I was going to be able to watch the opening match. Mexico was playing South Africa, the host nation. I kept flipping channels hoping I was going to bump into it and 5 minutes before kick off time, it came on and I was in heaven.  Every afternoon in Kiev all I did was watch World Cup soccer until early morning, 3 matches every day, and back at home it didn't end until the last day.  Mexico got eliminated by Argentina on the round of sixteens, so I switched to Spain as my favorite and I was really happy to see them go all the way until they raised the World Cup, raising the Cup is such a huge deal. In soccer world there is nothing like it and not many people get to do that.

This morning I got an email from my oldest brother Sergio, he is married to Elena who is from Spain, so you can imagine how excited they both are. In the email was an article about the son of Spain's Head Coach, Vicente del Bosque, who has Down Syndrome.  I didn't know this about him until today so that made the whole thing extra special, and seeing this picture brought tears to my eyes.

This is a abstract of the original article from El Pais, Madrid's main newspaper:

Of the three sons of Vicente del Bosque, there is one, Alvaro, the middle child, that change his life. Alvaro was born on August 6, 1989, back then, del Bosque was the Head Coach for Castilla. A few days after a test confirmed that Alvarito had Down Syndrome. "At first we cried a lot", I confess that now that I look back I think que gilipollas fuimos, how stupid we were.
For Vicente Del Bosque and his friends, there is no thought: Alvaro is a gift that life conceded him. Yesterday in Monclova, wearing a number 6 jersey of del Bosque and before going into the Palace Alvaro gave a big embrace to his father. Later he was seen joking with Xavi Hernandez, star midfielder, in the champions bus. "My son is happy and radiates happiness. He is mischievous, but he doesn't know evil", del Bosque proudly explains. Del Bosque, convinced that things happen for a reason, remembers that when he use to play for "El Real Madrid", every morning there was a boy with Down Syndrome that use to visit us at the locker room: "I don't remember his name, just that he was a lot of fun and we really liked him, he use to grab my mustache".
They say that Alvaro is a charming young man, but that doesn't take away being critic about his father's soccer decisions, he gets mad when he doesn't play, in his opinion, the right player in a match, and every day he use to tell him that he wanted Daniel Guiza to to make the cut for the World Cup roster, the one that didn't make it and Alvaro was really mad. He took a lot of liking for 2 players during the world cup, Llorente and Javi Martínez, just because he went to a Safari with their families, so he defended them and ask his father to play them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Touching More Hearts

It's awe inspiring to see how our story of adopting Sofia has touched the hearts and souls of people especially children near and far. Here is link to a community blog with a post about Sofia and her newest friends. LOVE it!

Click here...Natomas Song

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Just a few snapshots of our kiddos on the 4th of July. My dear friend Michelle Marrone is starting a photography business and she really has a wonderful and unique approach to capturing loved ones. Here are our sleeping baby beauties!

Joaquin (a.k.a. "Squamp"...his brothers made that one up!)
Little Miss Sofi!
Mateo (my little "Tay-Tay")
Mr. D...Diego

Summer Lovin'

Sweet Sofia is at no loss for love at our house. All three boys adore her and shower her with affection, hugs, kisses, sweet talk...the whole nine yards.

Sofia looks like a princess in some of these she should...being the only little girl in the house!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

She's Our Little Blossom

She is blossoming before our eyes. Sofia is doing so well at home with us. These photos were taken this morning. She is already sitting up unassisted after we prop her and she has so many expressions and verbalizations. She LOVES to "talk" and one of my most favorite faces is her "pouty" lips.

We've spend the past two weeks getting into a new routine, visiting friends, going to the doctors office, having blood drawn, getting regional services started, a social security card, getting initial therapy evaluations and doing our first round of PT (physical therapy) and OT (occupational therapy).

Sofia is doing so well and her eating technique from a spoon is almost perfect and soon we will transition to a straw cup from the bottle. This girl LOVES to eat. She can army crawl to get to toys or people. She loves people but I have to say she gets the most excited with her Nana. They have a very special bond already.

We haven't seen many of the specialists yet to clear her heart, ears and eyes but we are investigating the possibility of hypothyroidism. It was the only thing that came back from her labs as a bit off. The second blood test showed normal levels so tomorrow we are off to a third blood draw to see if we can figure her thyroid out. It makes a lot of sense that she may have "hypo"thyroidism...she gains weight easily, is often lethargic and sleepy, she has a hoarse voice and she sweats easily. We'll see what happens and I'm so glad we are on top of this so early so we can get her thyroid functioning properly so she feels her best.

She's a love bug, a snuggle bug and she's OUR bug! We love our little blossom!

Meet My New Sister

Here is my new sister Sofia. We are almost exactly a year apart but we look like twins next to each other. We are having so much fun together already! Mama calls us her little monkeys. I wonder why?