Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 2 in Review

Hey, so we successfully survived two whole weeks in the good ol' USA!  It has been almost 3 weeks since we took custody of the kiddos, and I am just as much a fan of nap time as I was on day one.  We are getting a little more sleep, thankfully, and settling into a semblance of a routine.

Poop: Jayce has had a dry diaper during the day for a few days now.  He has been able to sit on the big potty.  I was a bit concerned that he would be scared of the big potty, but he defied my expectations and it didn't phase him at all.  This is a relief for mama, since I don't have to clean out the kiddo potty anymore until Anya starts training.  Her diapers are more solid, thankfully, and a little less dreadful to clean up.  Still not my favorite task, and I get out of it whenever I can.  ::shameless::

Jayce is still not talking, though he understands a lot of what is being said.  He will say "wa! wa! wa!" when he wants water.  But he otherwise communicates with body language, pointing, and an occasional "meh!" of frustration.  He communicates very effectively though, but without words.
Anya, however, is doing quite well.  I am now "Mama" instead of "Mmmmmmmah" and Philip is "Dada".  She can say variations on many words: Muffin ("ma-mnn"), cat, puppy, yummy, fish ("fffffffff"), etc.  A few days ago I heard Philip in the kitchen talking, and ending with a cheer, "ta-da!" and after a very high-pitched "daaaaa!" from Anya.  I love hearing her practice sounds and learn.  She's so alert and eager to take in what is happening around her.  Her development seems really age appropriate, considering her recent changes, and we look forward to watching her progress.

An aloe vera plant
Anya isn't hitting Jayce anymore.  Thankfully.  Poor fellow was taking a beating for a while, as were the cats.  She is starting to be more considerate of Jayce, not taking away his food or trying to bowl over him in her exuberance for life.  He continues to share readily with her.  We joke that Anya is our resident "aloe vera plant".  Her graceful limbs kinda spread everywhere and are hard to contain.  Diaper changing, sleeping, eating, playing, etc.  She's about the most spread out baby girl you'll ever meet.  She can even make a mess of a sippy cup.  Imagine that.  Containment is not her specialty.

Speaking of cats, Peel and Nip seem to have accepted the kiddos as permanent fixtures in the home.  While they are not pleased, the two parties have come to a mutual agreement to ignore one another.  Both kids have learned to pet the kitties gently, and the cats are trying desperately to tolerate the inept affection for a few seconds at a time.  I cannot ask for more.

Jayce: blows my grid every day.  That boy is incredible.  I have never been so humbled by a not-even-two year old.  His compassion, kindness and selflessness is a challenge to me.  He is so alert to the needs around him, it's a bit scary.  He saw me on my hands and knees cleaning up the floor after he had thrown food on it.  He hasn't thrown food on the floor since.  He sees Anya get in trouble (usually for being mean to him) and he consistently brings her something to drink or eat, a toy, and her blanket to comfort her.  If we are not feeding her enough food (in his estimation), he will leave his place and feed her from his plate if hers is empty.  He is able to throw things in the garbage under the sink, put shoes away, put glass bowls away in the cupboard, sort silverware, and take his dishes to the kitchen after a meal.  He does not take only his dishes, but if Philip or Anya or I are done eating, he initiates and takes our dishes also.  We didn't teach him this.  He responds to his sister with grace, gently moving her hand away if she is a bit too eager for what he has.  He drinks from a regular glass cup, and has only spilled twice.  When he's done drinking he will put his glass on the counter.  A few days ago, Jayce and I were making faces at each other and giggling.  Anya comes by and mimics what Jayce just did, and continues walking.  Jayce turns to me with a smirk and a "isn't she adorable for trying to copy me" look.  Such a big brother!  Ha ha, I can't wait to watch this boy grow up!

Church today was great.  It was their first "real" church service and we weren't sure how they would do in a confined space with loud people and music.  Once again, they were golden. Several people came up and told us how distracted they were by our kiddos, simply because they were so cute.  Better that than being an actual distraction by shrieking to wake the dead.  We have done that too, but only at bedtime.

Bedtime.  For a few nights Philip was sleeping upstairs with Anya, so she could cry without waking Jayce.  Philip was kinda "done" with getting up with her every few hours, just to rock her for another hour trying to get her to sleep, just to have a few minutes of sleep before having to rock her again for another hour.  So, instead he has been sitting by her crib, patting her back and talking to her, rather than picking her up.  She fusses galore, but is learning that she can't manipulate him into not sleeping.  The last few nights Philip has moved in again, and all 4 of us are in the same room.  It's working much better now.

People have mostly been really great about giving the kids their space.  It's been a challenge and a balancing act for us,  encouraging freedom without compromising their security, and trying to be gracious to others while still drawing firm lines to protect the kids.  Both kids have done really well with meeting others.  We have kept most of their interaction in our home.  Friends and family have stopped by, sat on the floor and played.  The kids have warmed up quickly and been happy to play with their new friendly "climbing towers".

Last week, we had a group of about 5 people over.  Jayce took one look at the newcomers and ran away into the bedroom and hid in a dark corner.  Yeah, a little too much.  People visiting in ones or twos are best.  We have tried to keep our home fairly quiet, so lots of activity with people and noise is just uncomfortable in an environment that they need to feel "safe" in.

Something Philip and I have been taking about that I want to share with y'all.  We really feel that Philip and I need to be the only ones to "make" the kids do anything right now.  Here's the thing.  Several times in the last week, well-meaning people have forced the kids to "come give me a hug" or be picked up or have their cheek or hair touched.  These are people we love and trust, and in the long-run, the kids should be comfortable with these people, but at the moment they aren't.

Many people that are "family" to Philip and I are still "strangers" to the kids.  Jayce and Anya don't even know what family is yet!  They are barely beginning to grasp who "Mama" and "Daddy" are, much less extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.  So, again, please be considerate of the kids' space and their wishes.  If I had given birth, and the kids didn't have a complex background, then things would be different.  Since this is not the case, and the kids are very new to this life with us, please don't force interaction with them.

Some specific examples: Please only pick them up if they raise their arms to you.  It's ok for family and friends to offer to pick them up, but don't force the issue.  Please don't make them come with you without checking with Philip or me, especially if you are leading them away from us.  Please only take things from them (toys, food) if they give them to you willingly.  Please don't crowd them physically so they have no escape from you.  In time, these things will not be an issue, Lord willing.  But for now, we are in a very sticky spot, and trying to navigate precious, delicate waters.

If the kids turn their face away from you, draw their hands closer to themselves, or make a disapproving noise ("meh!") please back off with a smile.  Just because they are not pushing you away does not mean that they are comfortable with you.  There will be a time when "being polite" and "you need to say hi" and "you must obey this person" will be requirements.  But, those requirements will come from Philip and I.  At the moment, we are just working hard to make them feel comfortable with us.  Feeling comfortable with the people we love will come at a later time.

Please do "high-fives" and "knuckles" and smiles with them.  And, PLEASE ask us if you have questions.  Thank you for understanding.  I hope I'm not stepping on any toes, but maybe being specific can preempt some future issues.

Other "firsts" this week:
Playing in the water hose
Bath time without fussing
Bubble baths!
Ice cream
Chocolate sauce
Tractor ride with Grand-Dad
Coffee beans

Wow, I wrote this whole blog post in one sitting!  Now I need to go wake up my small folk from their nap.  Tchau!


  1. Sometimes friends need those suggestions even when kids are totally typical with no disruption or trauma in their lives! I have learned to really appreciate those people with good kidstincts. (good instincts when interacting with kids) For those people who think you're overreacting, overprotective first-time parents... well, they can just think that. For anybody who wants help understanding that adopted kids have pasts that affect them, even once they're in stable situations, google "removed" and watch the short film. It's not the same story for these two kids or my own adopted son, but it helped give me perspective.
    Anna, I think you will know best since you're their time mom, but crying at night is often more about anxiety than manipulation. Not always. Whichever it is, it sounds like you're navigating it with flying colors. Hooray for sleep! Anytime!

  2. It's a good idea to never force kids into being affectionate, period. Sex offenders are able to prey on these children more easily, and I cringe to hear parents making their children hug others, etc.