Sunday, December 27, 2009

The True Meaning of Christmas

We bought this at Maku (a store that sells nothing but handcrafted Colombian items) in Bogota. I'll just let the simplicity of this Nativity speak for itself.

Christmas Day - December 25, 2009

We got all the kids "Leapsters" for Christmas. We also got them each a charger (will save us a fortune in batteries), 3 extra games each, and a bag (the girls got little purses) to carry and store them in. We hit a grand slam home run with these... which has not always been the case with gifts (if you've been there, you know what I mean).

For fun, count the number of times you see a dog's tail in these photos.

Kids with a stack o' presents each...

Let the ripping begin!

...and more ripping of paper...

Joke of the day... Claudia has joined the Canadian army... probably because the uniform was sooooo cute! (Thanks again for the clothes Wendy R. from Canada!)

Nothing left to do now except play...

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Christmas Play - December 20, 2009

I'll start this post with a sidebar...

We've had a lot of snow and very cold weather the past several days (since Christmas Eve). My PC (we don't have a laptop) is in a "three seasons" porch off of our bedroom, aka "my office". For this reason, when it's cold, I don't get on the computer too much. It's still freezing outside today, but the sun is out today, so I have the shades open and it is bearable to be in my office long enough to post some Christmas pictures ;-). A laptop is still on my wish list...

Below are pictures of the kids in the church Christmas Play last Sunday. I was joking with Tim that our two "angels" held their halos up with their horns - no matter how angelic they look ;-).

The Bonds, another KC CHI family - and good friends of the Sinclairs - were at the Christmas service too.

Mayerly is the angel on the left, Manuela Sinclair is the angel in the middle, Diana is the angel on the right, and Vanesa Sinclair is Mary

Claudia is the lamb on the left, Oscar is the shepherd on the left and Angee Sinclair is the lamb just to the right of Mary (Vanesa)

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Where does all the time go?

Holy cow, November already! Here's a run-down of the latest happenings:

Miss Mayerly decided that it is much better to listen to her teacher (and her Mom & Dad) than it is to never get to watch TV, do extra work around the house, and get your birthday celebration cancelled. - Okay, confession time, we ended up eating the cake the Tuesday night after her birthday (we'd already baked it and decorated it the night before her birthday) and we did pictures of her blowing out candles - but she had two consecutive good reports from her teacher before that happened. She also got her birthday gift after she had five consecutive days of good reports from her teacher. Actually, she now has over three weeks straight with good reports from her teacher! She can be a very good girl when she wants to be... she's just incredibly stubborn (and learning that her Mom is even more stubborn).

Oscar's face (remember the Bell's Palsy?) is back to normal now. He can eat and drink and blink and smile - the whole nine yards. Amazing the little things we take for granted... Thank you to all who prayed for his quick recovery.

Diana will start vision therapy soon. We had to take her to an osteopathic doctor first before we started the therapy. She has her second appointment with the osteopath next week and then I'll set up the weekly vision therapy appointments. Diana is really struggling in her 2nd grade class. She is in ELL, and is starting Title I reading and goes to 1st grade for extra help with reading too. I also talked to the school counselor about getting Diana (actually all the girls) tested to receive speech therapy. All our kids have Spanish language developmental delays and were receiving speech therapy in Colombia. I now know that the reason that I had such a hard time understanding them in the first few months is because they didn't pronounce things correctly in Spanish - and my Spanish wasn't good enough to pick up on that at first. That, and they talked really fast... Anyway, I'm thinking that Diana and Claudia especially need speech therapy. Now that they mix Spanish and English, I can't figure out if they are mispronouncing a word in Spanish or in English - right now I can't understand much of anything either of them say! Oscar and Mayerly have better pronounciation in Spanish and English, so I can usually figure out their Spanglish!

Claudia is doing very well in kindergarten according to her teacher (big change from last year), and is starting to spell some simple words. My favorite is when she says "M-O-M spewls Mama". Cracks me up. Oscar just rolls his eyes and shakes his head...

Last week, the girls all had bad colds and Tim and I got bronchitis and sinus infections. Oscar just had a very mild cold. Everyone is recovering now, but last week was pretty lousy on the health front. At least we didn't get the pig flu...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mayerly's 8th Birthday

Well, this is where I would normally post pictures of Mayerly's birthday celebration. Unfortunately, there was no celebration last night. We have had an ongoing problem with Mayerly listening to us at home and to her teacher at school. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that the past 2 weeks she has had more bad reports from school than good ones.

She had been warned repeatedly all week not to continue this misbehavior (and grounded from her favorite activities and has had added chores to do around the house when she received bad reports). Well, yesterday (which was her birthday) she had another bad report from school - so we had to follow through with our threat to cancel her birthday celebration.

We are more disappointed than many of you probably are about not having happy birthday, candle-blowing-out pictures (especially since this is our first birthday with her). But we couldn't make our threat to cancel her birthday celebration an empty one either. She WILL start listening to the adults in charge of her, or her life is not going to be very much fun for awhile.

So, instead of posting birthday pictures, I'm posting the girls' school pictures. We just got all of them back this week. I think they turned out pretty well (better than any of mine ever were).

Friday, October 9, 2009

One dentist, one doctor, one lawyer

Wednesday we went to the dentist. Oscar, Diana & Mayerly will all need sealant to be applied to their teeth. Diana will need a crown and Mayerly has a cavity. We go back in November for the sealants and will have to return for Diana's crown (she had a big old filling that fell out). Claudia was the only one who won't have to return until her next six month cleaning appointment.

Today Diana and I went back to see the eye doctor. She needed to do a couple more tests due to the communication barrier (even though we had an interpreter). Diana tends to want to try to give the "right answer" instead of telling the doctor exactly what she is seeing. We couldn't seem to convince her that there are no "right answers" to these test questions. Anyway, the doctor seemed to get the answers she had been looking for today. She also is a Christian doctor (which I didn't realize before). She made a comment to me about praying before this exam that she would be able to figure Diana's vision problem out - and this visit she was able to. The doctor believes that Diana can see out of her left eye and that the eye turn is likely developmental rather than congenital.

Tim and I will go to see the doctor on the 19th to discuss what we do next. First thing, Diana will be getting new glasses with a different prescription. Next we have a referral to an osteopathic doctor that Diana will see before she starts therapy. What more, I don't know...

I also called a lawyer this week about getting the re-adoption (actually it is a "recognition of foreign adoption" hearing) rolling. If we don't hit any snags, we may have that all done by Christmastime this year.

We also had another interesting thing develop recently. Unfortunately, I can't talk about it right now - mainly because we don't know enough to talk about it. Anyway, maybe someday soon we will know something. That probably doesn't make any sense... so, if you would, just pray for all our children and for us as parents.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Doctors, doctors and more doctors...

The other day I noticed that when Oscar blinked, he was only blinking one eye. I looked at him more carefully and then noticed that when he smiled, only the left side moved. So, we were soon headed for the doctor. Turns out he has Bell's Palsy. The doctor says that no one knows what causes it and there is no treatment for it. However, it seems that this is a temporary condition and that it should go away in a few weeks. If he is still can't move the right side of his face in six weeks, we are supposed to go back.

Poor kid, he can't drink anything without it coming back out of his mouth and we have to tape his eye shut at night when he goes to bed. (If his left eye is open, the right eye opens, but then he can't close it again without using his hand.)

Pray for a quick recovery for him, if you are so inclined...

Diana had her second visit to the optometrist's office today where they did more testing. Today she was with the therapist instead of the doctor.

Next week, we are all going to the dentist...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Update on Diana

Thursday was our first visit with the vision therapy optometrist. Diana just loves her. They spent 2 hours "playing games" (really, they were vision tests) and the doctor told her that she would not have to wear a patch or use atropine drops again (I think that is what really won Diana over). The doctor is a former teacher and has a wonderful "bed side manner". So different from the opthamologist we were seeing (although our new doctor says that he is an excellent surgeon). Diana even WANTED to wear her glasses to school the next day. Before, I had to practically threaten her life to make her wear them.

We should be finished with the evaluation phase by October 19th. We'll keep you informed of the progress.

Also, I'm reading a book called "Fixing My Gaze" by Susan R. Barry. She's had strabismus since birth and had it surgically corrected several times. When she was 50years old, she underwent vision therapy and she was finally able to see in 3D (stereovision) for the first time in her life. Her experience goes against the conventional wisdom that if strabismus isn't corrected by the age of about 6 or 7, it cannot be corrected. Gives me hope for Diana's eyesight.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Diana's Eye

We went for Diana's 3rd opthamologist appointment back on August 29th. The news wasn't good. He could not see any improvement in her left eye and wants to do corrective surgery. I asked him about any alternatives or therapies and he said that there were no therapies and that surgery was the only way. However, after surgery all he was going to do was patch her right eye again. Being me, I wasn't convinced and decided to do my own research. What did parents ever do before Al Gore invented the internet? (hehehe)

From what I've read, Diana's condition (amblyopic strabismus) cannot be corrected with surgery. Sure her eye may not turn in anymore, but she still won't see any better out of it. What causes the eye to turn in is a disconnect between the brain and the eye. Surgery can't fix that, but I think therapy could. In fact, surgeries usually have to be re-done after a few years - sometimes several times because the real problem is not being addressed.

There is something called "vision therapy" done by a few optometrists. It turns out that there is one in Kansas City that does it. Long story short, we have an appointment this Thursday for testing and another next Wednesday for more testing and then the doctor will write up an evaluation. After that we will likely begin weekly therapy.

The reason that there are not a lot of doctors who do this is because it is not widely covered by insurance. In fact, we will have to pay for all the testing out-of-pocket and then try to get reimbursed by our health insurance company. Incredibly, most insurance companies will cover eye surgery to correct the strabismus (eye turn). Crazy! Who cares if the kid can see, let's just make her "look normal"! Oh yes, health insurance does need reform... but I'm still not in favor of "Obamacare".

I'm off my soapbox now. We'll keep you informed about Diana's progress.

Friday, August 28, 2009

El tiene 12 anos hoy!

Today is Oscar's 12th birthday. Of course, everyone had school today. But after school we all went to Red Robin for dinner. Oscar had pizza (yeah, I know it's a burger place - but it's his birthday). We then had a quiet celebration back at the house with cake and ice cream.

Enjoy the pictures!

After Dad set fire to the cake...

After he put out the fire...

Las Quatro
Can't get rid of Hank's 'blue eye' with my picasa freeware...

He says it is his dream to be a 'bombero', we'll see...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Short Happenings

*** Hankie boy ***
We brought Hank home the last week of June. He has done much better with the kids than we expected. We did have to have a few lessons on "when to know when Hank has had enough of you" and "where Hank will let you touch him so you don't incur his wrath" and "why it's never, ever a good idea to take Hank's toys away from him". They have been good about not pushing him past his limits, and he has been more tolerant of their intrusions on him than we thought he would be.
The kids all went to summer school in June. In July/August the girls went to a day camp that is run by the county parks and rec department at a local lake. Oscar spent his summer (after summer school) with Grandma Schoemig learning more reading, writing and math. He also started playing soccer on a team with his cousin Neil in August. The girls went back to school this week. Diana is in 2nd grade, Mayerly is in 1st grade and Claudia is in kindergarten. Oscar is still being home schooled by Grandma right now. We're hoping he'll be caught up enough to go to school next year, but we aren't going to rush him into something we feel he isn't yet ready for. He still has a lot of ground to make up.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy 9th Birthday - One Day Late - Diana!

This week has been completely crazy, so I didn't get this posted yesterday on Diana's 9th birthday. We had our 2nd post-adopt visit on Tuesday, I also had to finish an article for the newsletter at work and I'm also working on some neighborhood stuff that needs to go to the City Planning Commission before next Tuesday. I'm also working full time these days (until the kids start back to school on August 17th - then I'm back to part time). I am sooo ready for the weekend! Enjoy the pictures.

Grandpa Verhulst, Claudia & Oscar

Diana blowing out her candles

Mom, Diana, Grandma Schoemig, Luke, Mayerly, Blakely, Aunt Val, Grandma & Grandpa Verhulst and the back of Oscar's head...

Dad setting fire to the cake (his favorite job)

The happy birthday girl

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Got "turned in" to the Media by our Neighbors...

Yup, we are now minor celebrities in our community. It's so weird... Anyway, below is a link to the newspaper article that ran July 4th.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bunnies y Flowders

Every morning we give the kids 3 pills; one OTC Claritin (actually it's Costco brand), one Flintstones (also Costco brand), and one calcium chew (chocolate flavor, also from Costco). ***sidebar*** The kids take calcium at the pediatricians' recommendation. When we first took Oscar to the doctor, he was complaining about his elbow (and before that feet in Colombia until we bought him some shoes that fit him better) hurting him. The doctor took an X-ray of his arm and found no damage, but did find his bone tissue to be very thin. Henceforth, calcium.***

Anyway, the calcium comes in a foil wrapper. Every morning I get 4 flowers (or flowders as Oscar pronounces them). One from each kid. Below is a picture of my flowders from this morning.

Flowers by (left to right): Claudia, Mayerly (es una copa today), Diana & Oscar


Our yard seems to be a bunny haven. This is the second clutch (it's a clutch of bunnies, right?) to be born in our back yard this year. The kids are facinated by "los bunnies". I took this picture yesterday over my lunch hour. It's a good thing too, because by the time I got home from picking the kids up from school, they had all left the nest. Hanai (our dog) found one in the yard and was carrying it around in her mouth which led to shrieks from Mayerly and Claudia that "Hanai esta comiendo un bunny!" (Hanai is eating a bunny - if you no habla espanol) -sidebar- Hanai doesn't eat bunnies, she just wants to play with them, the bunnies just fail to understand that... Anyway, I retrieved the bunny from Hanai and it was completely unharmed. Everyone gave a little pet and some picos (kisses) on the bunny's head (which it really did not appreciate) and I set it free under the firewood rack.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Six Flags - St. Louis, MO

Over Memorial Day weekend we met my (Anne's) good friend Dalila, her husband Jeff and their daughter Nicole in St. Louis. It was our first first family trip out of town. We went to Six Flags and to the St. Louis Zoo. The kids had a great time and so did we (I hope we weren't too much for Dalila and Jeff, since they just have one kid right now :-).)

Claudia and Mayerly were too small to ride most of the roller coasters. I rode the Evel Kenevel (don't know if I spelled that right) with Diana and the Screaming Eagle with Oscar. I don't think Diana was real crazy about the roller coasters. We all rode the Tony Hawk roller coaster - Mayerly rode with Tim and evidently screamed to be let off the whole time. Claudia rode with me and laughed her head off the whole ride... I tried to talk Oscar into riding Batman with me, but he decided that he didn't like the idea of his legs dangling on a coaster. Maybe we'll get him to ride the one at Worlds of Fun. Oscar must have told me 'Thank you, Ma' (-sidebar- he's trying to say "Mom", but he has trouble getting that last consonant on most English words) at least five times. I asked him 'For what?', he said 'For dis (making a gesture for the whole park/zoo)'. I ask you, when was the last time you heard an 11-year-old boy thanking one of his parents for a trip to the amusement park or the zoo?

In other news...
notice Claudia's new hairdo. She can pull any barrette that I have bought out, so as soon as her hair got long enough, I started putting it in teeny, tiny pony tails. She looks like a toddler, but at least she looks like a girl.

Diana's eye isn't hurt. She's wearing an eye patch for her strabismus. The doctor said to try that first. She has to wear it all day for a month and then we go back in July to see if that is working at all. It's hard to get her to wear it, and the silly things don't stick very well to sweaty skin (it is almost summer here in the humid midwest). We're doing the best we can with it.

Claudia, Mayerly, Nicole, Diana & Oscar w/ Pepe LePew

Claudia, Mayerly, Diana & Oscar

Oscar, Claudia, Diana & Mayerly with Taz

Mayerly and Claudia

Nicole, Tim, Mayerly, Diana, Claudia & Oscar with Tweety (this is toward the end of the day)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bikes, Parque and Fiesta

I'm just posting some recent pictures with this one. The girls (except Claudia) got their faces painted at school this afternoon.

The girls on the swingset

Diana with a 'tigre' face

Mayerly with a 'mariposa/gato' face

Our swingset that the kids call 'el parque'
This is the view of it from my office window upstairs

Diana, Oscar and Mayerly on their bikes

Monday, April 6, 2009

Short Update

We finally got the immunization thing squared away last Thursday (at about 4:30 pm). The girls started school on Friday and they absolutely loved it! Their teacher is bilingual and there are kids in their class that speak Spanish. I only hope that this does not slow their learning of English, since that is the main reason we put them in public school.

I go back to work tomorrow (5 hours per day). Things haven't gone exactly as we had planned, but when does anything? We've just kinda rolled with it and we are surviving.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ode to Hanai

Just wanted to give some credit to our 2-year-old Golden-Retreiver-mix Hanai. She was (is) not used to having children in the house (except for the occasional nieces and nephews). She has been sat on, hugged, kissed, dragged around the house by her collar, paws stepped on, fur pulled, fur rubbed the wrong way, screeched at... you name it, they've done it to her. She has been very tolerant in my opinion. We brought her home first since she is pretty laid back. Our other dog (Hank) is a 7-year-old terrier- mix. He will be living at my (Anne's) mom's house for awhile... he would not tolerate any of the above - at all.
Hanai (han-eye)

Oscar (ohz-car)

Diana (dion-ah)

Mayerly (my-airly)

Claudia (clow-dia)

First Professional Family Picture


This one is of just the kids...

Tim doesn't like this one, but I do...

While we were in Bogota, we bought all the kids handmade (Colombian, of course) sweaters. Before it gets too warm, and before they all outgrow them, we got our picture taken. We also got individual pictures taken of each child in his/her sweater. I'll put those above this post (if the kids can refrain from calling me in to referee their skirmishes long enough).


We finally finished shots for all the kids... so we thought... so I turned in the paperwork yesterday morning to enroll the girls in school. They said everything looked like it was in order, so they should be able to start today. However, last night at 4:40pm (when it is too late to do anything about any problems) the school nurse called Tim and told him that their shots are not current and that we need to get more shots. We had blood drawn and testing done to make sure that the shot records from Colombia were correct - and our pediatrician said that they were. The nurse also wanted to know when (month and year) they had all had chicken pox. We don't have that information - again - that's why we had blood drawn on each of the kids. I'm going to the school tomorrow to see if they will accept the shot records from the US Embassy doctor. I'm also going to see what I can do about the chicken pox thing . What a pain...


The kids are all starting to pick up more English. Here are some of the funnier things that they say...

Goose nigh (Good night)

Vamos a la house (We're going home)

A-goo ghoula (Good girl - to our dog Hanai [pronounced Han-I])

Seent-ow (Sit down - also to Hanai)

Comb on (Come on - Hanai has been very useful in teaching them short phrases...)

Noooo Can-I (what they usually say to Hanai about a hundred times a day)

Estop it (Stop it - this one is not always directed at the dog)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Feliz Cumpleanos a Claudia (6 years old today)

Here are the pictures first, since I know that's what everyone wants to see anyway...

Here she is with her cake
She's pretty pleased with her candle blowing abilities (I don't know why Tim has a fist in this picture, he didn't hit her... really)

Claudia with her new 'Viewmaster' and Mayerly (don't know exactly what she's looking at...)
Just in case you didn't think the other two (Oscar and Diana) made it home with us, here's a picture of them too
So you are probably asking, "What happened to Claudia's hair???" To protect the innocent and the guilty, we will just say that there was a little problem and we had to cut it all off. If I (Anne) don't dress her in pink and put barretts in her hair, she looks like a little boy - I hate it. Here's hoping it grows out fast...
Back to the Birthday. We went about the day just as we normally do, get up, get dressed have breakfast, do our school thing, eat lunch, play all afternoon... point being - no one had any clue that today was Claudia's birthday. We had dinner (ham and bean soup and cornbread - 'rico' according to the kids... that's good in case you don't know) and then I brought out the cake I baked earlier while they were playing upstairs (only Mayerly saw me because the TV is downstairs...). It was kinda like a surprise party because everyone was surprised... too funny.

We started homeschooling with 'Abuelita' (Grandma Schoemig) last Monday. The good news is that the kids are doing well, and are even starting to pick up some English words. The bad news is that they are all very far behind where they should be scholastically. My hope is that we can get Mayerly and Claudia in school by September at a grade level not too far below where they should be for their ages. I think Oscar and Diana will be working with my mom longer than that.
I also found a preschool close to our house that will take Claudia (even though she is now six years old and doesn't speak English). I'm going to take her on Friday to see how she does there. If she looks like she will be okay, we will enroll her for the 1/2 day classes (5 days a week).
That's it for now. Hasta luego.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Weeee're Heeeere!

Just a short post to let everyone know we made it home okay. It feels good to be typing on an 'English' keyboard again (I used a Spanish and a French one in Colombia and couldn't find the @ on either of them most of the time...).

The kids traveled pretty well. We didn't have any tantrums, but we did have to tell them to be quiet on the airplane more than a few times. They were pretty wound up.

We got home about 9pm here (that's 10pm in Bogota). The grandparents were very happy to meet their new grandkids (even if they can't understand anything they say). The kids didn't go to bed until 10:30.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Going Home

All of us in the back yard at El Refugio The kids with Rosita, one of the ladies who works at the B&B

Sorry, we haven´t been able to post for a couple of days. The computer at the B&B got a virus and was out for repair. We didn´t do it...

Over the weekend we just hung out at the B&B waiting to go to the US Embassy on Monday. We did a little last minute shopping and took the kids out for ice cream at Mimi´s and pizza at Pizza Hut (yeah there is one here within walking distance). Sunday was cold and rainy.

On Monday we left for the embassy right after breakfast (about 9am). There, we gave them all our paperwork and waited in line to be called up to one of the windows. They called our name and we went up to the window where the agent had to lay eyes on each of the kids. She then told them they could sit down. Then I (Anne) had to answer a couple of questions and sign my name four times (once for each of the kids). We then got to pay for all the visas at another window. After that we had to sit down and wait again for them to call our name again. When they did, the lady told me that they would have the visas ready the next day at 3:30pm and she also had to look at each one of the kids again. Then we went back to the B&B - that was at about 1pm.

Today I went to the embassy and picked up the visas and paperwork for US Immigration in Atlanta (Tim stayed home and entertained the kids at the park). The guy at the window remembered me from the day before. I don´t think it is often that they see people adopting four kids. He wished us the best for our new family.

That was the last piece of paperwork. We are done here. Our flight schedule was confirmed this morning. We are leaving Bogota early Wednesday morning. See you in KC...

-Tim & Anne