"Adventures, I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull...But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have just landed in them, usually...I expect they had a lot of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten."

-Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The CP Connection #2- Progress

Stumbo Family Story

Any time I need a reminder of how far Alina has come in the last year, I just have to watch video's of her in Ukraine, and after we came home. Video's like this, taken October 2010 in Ukraine.

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Or these...

Taken 3 months after coming home, and after getting AFO's and de rotational bands.

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Taking a few tentative steps in May.

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And getting so good she can walk without AFO's in August.

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And able to walk long distances in October.

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The progress is astounding. She is a hard working little girl. The last couple video's she's not wearing the de rotational bands. She has torosion on her legs because the spasticity is on the inside muscles of her legs, which pulls her feet in. The de rotational bands work great, but they stress her out big time. Its a large piece of velcro foam around her waist and then stretchy bands wrapped around and down her legs, connecting to her AFO's and they keep her feet somewhat straight. I will say that she is doing great without them, the muscles on the outsides of her legs are really coming around, and she's able to keep them fairly straight if she's not tired.

I'm so proud of her. It has not been easy for her, she's had to work really hard, put up with therapy and stretching, trying to give up while everyone is telling her YOU CAN DO IT! She amazes me, and everyone around her.

*this post is part of The CP Connection blog ring. Click the icon at the top of this post to view others!*

Friday, December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We had a great Christmas. Very low key and we got to see everyone important. We have to choose what to do and what we have to miss every year, and we've kind of went on an every other year type of thing, and that works. Running around too much just makes for cranky kids and tired parents!

We haven't had any snow (but its snowing today!) so the kids were able to use their new scooters a few times, and the temps have reached 40 almost every day! Completely unheard of for MN in December. Just yesterday we all went to the store in nothing but hoodie sweatshirts!

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and that the new year brings you blessings!

Just before opening gifts Christmas morning


All ready go to up to Grandma's!


Traditional in front of the fireplace picture on Christmas. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!

Once again we traipsed into the backyard to cut down our tree. If you didn't know, our home is located in a tree farm, so we have ample supply of trees. Although they haven't been properly maintained/trimmed for years so we always end up with Charlie Brown-ish trees. :) But thats ok... a quirky tree suits us.

The winner this year...


It takes a mighty talented dog....

Or maybe she's just telling me no more pictures. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

A walking update

Alina is doing AMAZING with walking! She walks all over now, and its fun to watch her carry her plate to the sink after meals or get her own cup, simple every day things. Of course we are still working on proper gait, and still considering options for her (surgery, orthotics, etc) but from not even being able to sit on her butt a year ago to walking today.... not too shabby!

(she walks a little better without these goofy boots on, but she insists and she doesn't fall, so I let them slide on non-school day. :)) Also she is supposed to be wearing derotational bands, but they stress her out so we don't wear them as much as we are supposed to. She does just fine without them, however with them on her feet are very straight.
WITH her AFO's on....

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And these last two are without AFO's on. :)

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The CP Connection

My friend, Ellie had a great idea to get a circle of CP blogs linked up. So today is the first installment of...
(click to Ellie's blog to read more about the blog link)

The CP Connection

Stumbo Family Story

If someone had told us two years ago that we would be adopting a child with Cerebral Palsy, we would have probably laughed it off and went about our business. Then, in May 2010, I seen this...


.... and everything changed. That little face, those goofy pigtails and choppy hair, the big blue eyes and adorable little grin changed everything. Without really realizing it at the time, I was looking at my daughter. There was just something about her, and as I read the tiny little blurb about her, I kept reading past the Cerebral Palsy diagnosis. But a few days later (and after looking at her picture a few more times) I finally googled Cerebral Palsy. I found the Gillette website for their CP Center (where she is now seen) and read until I thought my brain would burst. So.much.information. when we had so little to go on for her. So, I did what any crazy person would do, I started blind emailing people for information. I asked on adoption boards for CP parents to contact me, I emailed doctors, called offices, asked anyone who would listen for information. I found a couple really great moms to bounce information off of and to ask questions (like you, L!) and every single person was uplifting and encouraging.

So, we stepped off the cliff, a leap of faith. We submitted paperwork, updated our homestudy and information. We went for new fingerprints, put together a new dossier (remember we had started our adoption in Kyrgyzstan almost 2 years earlier, then it shut down.)

We did all of this with many unknowns. How affected would she be? Is she speaking? Walking? Is she in any therapies? School? Was she well cared for? Could we really do this?

But it all seemed right, paperwork went easily, everything fell into place in a timeline that was perfect. Our time in country was wonderful, and we really enjoyed ourselves. And of course, we came home with a perfect little treasure that is the amazing 4yr old we all know and love today.

But still, its hard sometimes with all the unknowns. We had and still have lots of questions, and as we were able to meet more parents, get to know more who had adopted and who had children with CP, and as our circle grew, we became more confident and everything got easier. And I'm so thankful for those parents who encouraged us, the moms who answered all my emails and questions and didn't tell me I was crazy (though I'm sure at least one was wondering what I was on... lol!)

We cannot imagine our life today without Alina. She is perfect in every way. Yes, she has Cerebral Palsy, and yes, she struggles with some things, and so do we. But if we ever have a bad day, we just have to remember that little picture above, and where she came from, and how far she has come in the last year. She is amazing and she will always be amazing.

And we are blessed to know all these families, these new connections and ones we've known for a year or better. Families who have kids living with CP and being able to share with each other. That is amazing.