Thursday, July 31, 2014

6 Week Update: Photos, Videos, And A Confession

It's been 6 weeks since we got home.  Sometimes it feels more like 6 months, honestly.  We have done so much, and the kids have made more progress than I ever thought possible.

Both kids go down to nap and sleep with virtually no fussing.  We have the same routine every day: Up, breakfast, activity (running with Mama, shopping, etc), pre-lunch, lunch, nap, play time, pre-dinner, dinner, play, snack, teeth brushing, bed, with liberal potty visits intermixed.  The exact timing of the routine is pretty loose, but the order of events stays the same.  It seems to work pretty well.  The kids are still sleeping in our room at night.  It makes for a nice "unit" feeling for them, I think, and we are right there if they need anything.  Probably in the next month or so we will try to get them to sleep upstairs for nap, and gradually help them feel comfortable sleeping in a different room.  It will be nice to have my bedroom back at some point.

Both kids do great with visitors now.  The perfect quantity of visitors seems to be no more than 2.  More than that and the kiddos seem overwhelmed with all the activity and extra bodies in the house.  However, we started having Tuesday night Bible study here again, and they did pretty well last week and again last night.

Some fun activities in the last few weeks:

My friend and I took the kiddos to the zoo for the first time.  The kids did great, but were less enthusiastic (read: not an iota of enthusiasm) about the elephants and cheetahs and bears and lions than we had hoped.  In fact, their favorite part were the ducks and statues.  Oh, and people-watching the other kiddos.  I was super thankful that my friend came with me, since I would have gone crazy otherwise.  Let me share a few of my favorite pics.

Anya at the petting-zoo part, petting a goat
The 4 of us at the giraffe enclosure

Anya was less than thrilled that there
was a bird on my hand.  She peed through her
jeans moments after.

Jayce sitting in a lion cub statue

The flamingos.  I would think that pink birds would
be a little more exciting.

DUCKS!  Look!  DUCKS!!!!  (very exotic. ::facepalm::)

Cheetah.  Spots.  Ok, next?

Amy has been such a great friend for about 15 years now,
maid of honor at my wedding, and she and her twin are
pretty much as "sister" to me as you can get.  We even look alike!

At the vulture area.  We overheard a parent freaking
out that they would put something "D-E-A-D!!!" where
kids could see it.  Um, what are vultures expected to eat?
Goldfish crackers???
We have been blessed with a few play-dates with other families.  My kids are still a novelty to the other kiddos, their skin being dark and all.  Jayce and Anya have taken it in stride, but I think they were getting a little tired of being the center of attention for other kids.  Here are some cute pics from that, though:

Katie and Jayce

Jayce's first experience with baseball

Anya holding a ball.  She was less than thrilled with such boy-ish
past times as baseball.

How many kiddos can we fit on a wagon?

Rylea and Anya

A few more fun pics:

Jayce inside his first cardboard fort.  I had to crawl
in first to show him what do to with it, but then he
got the idea and booted me out.

Anya with the kids' favorite outdoor toy, a gift from Miss Paula

Anya figured out how to put crayons back in the box!
This is a great accomplishment, since this feat was
previously elusive.

Daddy tickling the Little Man.  I love to hear him

Jayce helping Daddy at the warehouse.  Philip
took him to work today and Jayce had a blast.
A whole warehouse full of (dog) toys (that squeak!)
Yes, that is a box cutter in his hand.  Yes, he still
has all his fingers.

Anya having Aunt Juli sniff the flower
In the last few days, Anya has really blossomed and progressed.  She is much more attentive to her surroundings, more observant of what Philip and I are doing, more communicative about her needs, and more willing to interact.  She even indicated to me that she needed a diaper change the other day.  She is more attached to Philip than to me (which is fine for starters), so I've been working on loving on her and spending some time with just her.  She's responded so well to that, and I feel as though there is a connection there that wasn't before.

**new day!**

Even thinking that I can accomplish an entire blog post in a day is kinda a joke.

A few developments: Jayce is talking!  Sorta.  He is saying "banana" and "water" and "all done!" and a few other things I can't remember at the moment.  Here's a video of him saying "banana" (which kinda sounds like "ba-my-yah" which is rather adorable.

And, yesterday, Jayce showed just how much of our child he is.  He initiated pouring water on his sister.  Then, he asked for more water.  And poured it on Anya again, as I took a picture.  He seemed kinda mystified that she was not pleased with his wet offering, but then giggled as he pointed and rubbed her wet curly hair.  Seeing that Anya was not overly upset by the administrations, I asked him to do it again, and caught it on video.  He is soooooo my son!

A few more cute pics:
My best friend told me to freeze sandwiches of banana and
peanut butter and give them to the kids as a treat. At first I thought
she was brilliant until I saw the (very adorable) mess I had to clean up.

Philip picked up the floor to vacuum, but Jayce still wanted to ride
his rocking moose.

Gotta say, my daughter is beautiful, even with
blue crayon on her face.  Love her more and more
every day!

This is actually a pic from a friend in Ethiopia right now.  Ship something
to a third world country by DHL?  This is how it is delivered, AND why
we bathe everything in prayer that is mailed.  Adoption dossiers
(basically your entire life) is carried in these things!

Doesn't smell nice.

Too hot for the fuzzy kitty

Jayce giggling inside his fort, this time with his ball

A flower.  Wha??  

My favorite pic right now.  Little Man is so calm
about his mischievousness!

Hey look, mom!  It's us!
Ok, back to reality.  Before I post this looooong post, I wanted to share.

You're welcome to stop reading here.  It's fine and probably best.

Maybe no one else can relate. These last few days have actually been kinda rough.  Probably 90% of it is just in my head, making a mountain out of a mole-hill in typical emotional-girl fashion.  I kinda feel tired of people, tired going-going-going, tired of making food, tired of being happy for the kids' sake, tired of expending more energy than I have, and tired of feeling inadequate for all the roles I now fill.  I had a bit of a cry-session with Philip last night, and some prayer and a nights' sleep helped.

Then, this morning, a stranger-to-me replied to Philip's correspondence about the kids, and commented on some things I had posted.  The feeling I got (a mountain-from-a-molehill thing) from her comments was "oh-how-cute, she tried, and is totally not up-to-par with what normal people should know and be capable of".  It was as if my inconsequential ineptness in this area was a source of humor to her.  I guess I hit on one of her pet peeves.

I threw a temper tantrum.  Ashamedly, I did.

After feeling sooooo on-edge for the last few days, a complete stranger points out that I again failed to get it right.  I'll refrain from sharing all my thoughts on the subject, but I did feel quite put out and my poor husband got an ear-full.  I'm a mom.  I'm barely keeping my head above water right now.  I'm going nuts, and feel overwhelmed at every turn.  Thank you, random stranger, for pointing out an area that I'm not as astute as you think I should be.

Let's just say that I needed some time alone, time with God, prayers and tears, and a good solid nap.  Again, I am super grateful for my husband who let me freak out and then abandon the family for a while (why yes, I felt inadequate for leaving my family when I should have super-human strength and never need time alone, right??  Right???  People's comments should never affect me, right?)

So, lest you think that everything is peachy here, and I'm "perfect" and doing fabulous all the time, and have all my ducks in a row, please be aware that I'm very, very human.  I won't share all my kids' dirt and the bumps in the road we have had with them, but I will occasionally share my shortcomings and the times I totally blow it.  Today was one of those days. 

On the flip side, we went to our martial art class again tonight.  I did not die, and the kids were amazing while we were in class.  One of the other students told me my kids were the second set of little kids that she actually liked.  I feel blessed to have such great kiddos.  God is so gracious to me.  My cousin put it well, that there is nothing like gearing up for a challenge, and then God gives you circumstances better than you ever could have dreamed.  He indeed is good.  All the time!

Oh, a few more videos if you're up for it.

Jayce setting the table for me:

Anya putting crayons back in the box:

And Jayce making scrambled eggs (and refusing to say eggs or banana):

Psalm 73:23-28
"...Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"I'm Going To Take A Shower"

I'm smiling as I type.  What a silly title for this post!  Yes, what a hilarious statement.  What ever made me think that I could utter it this morning?  Or any morning, for that matter?!

"I'm going to (go get clean clothes, see the unmade bed and make it, find kid clothes, sort and put away the kid clothes, unpack a suitcase, find more kid clothes, sort and put them away, go upstairs, straighten the upstairs, restock the diaper drawer, insist that a child eats their healthy food before a muffin, pick up a screaming child, hold the screaming child until they stop screaming 45 minutes later, become coated in kid tears, sweat and spit, feed the child the healthy food, let the child consume the muffin, clean up the kitchen, unload the dishwasher, reload the dishwasher, put a child on the potty, clean up that child, hear a knock on the door, welcome unexpected visitors, hope I don't stink, serve tea and coffee, clean up after visitors, start a load of laundry, remember that it's eating up my hot water, stop the laundry, take out meat to thaw for dinner, look for my clothes that have now been transported to all corners of the house, trip over the cat, take a child potty again, trip over shoes while coming out of the bathroom, clean up the shoes, find my scattered clean clothes, run away from the children chasing me, run into the bathroom, close the door, and) take a shower."

That's kinda how that goes.

So, I just lost about 5 days worth of blogging since the irritating technology didn't save my work.  So, I'll add the pics and videos, and you can insert your own witty comments.  Arg.

Jayce learned to use a kitchen knife this past week.  It makes me feel pretty great that my not-even-two year old is aware enough to safely learn and work like that in the kitchen.  Sure, he'll make mistakes, but we all do, and he's not to young to learn responsibility and safety.

He also likes to look over my shoulder and watch, sniff, taste test, and stir.  Here, he got to try ginger root.

I don't think he liked it.  :/

Anya is learning quickly.  She is eating neatly and drinking with fewer spews to the corners of the room.  We are letting her feed herself more often, which is nice.  She continues to mimic words and sounds, and she is catching on to games that Jayce will play.  Both kids are interacting with each other and "talking" to each other more and more.  It's cute and fun.

Anya and I both had pneumonia last week.  She just had a cough, but I had a fever for 3 days and was so weak that I had to rest after walking across the room.  I was out for about a week.  I could really tell the impact it had on bonding with the kiddos when I was unable to interact with them.  Philip was amazing and picked up the slack, though only having one functioning parent is difficult.  Anya and I both got on antibiotics, and are much better now, besides a lingering occasional cough.  I was very thankful for a friend and my mother in law for each bringing a meal.  It really helped a lot, since making anything other than PB&J was complicated.  This first month of mommy-hood has been interesting.  It has been a cross between "please leave me alone" and "please help me".  I'm not sure where the balance is.  Combine that with sickness, and, well, lets just say that last week was not my best.

We went to the park today since both kids woke up with more energy than should be legal.  It was their first time on swings.  There was another mom there with her three white kids.  At one point, I overheard her answering an unheard question by saying "people come in all colors!"  It was so cute!  I wish I could hear the whole conversation they will have later.  The five kids had an enjoyable time looking at each other.  It seems good for Jayce and Anya to be able to watch other kids play, since they don't know how to on their own.

Yesterday we all went to a wedding.  It was a small event, and they did great.  I think their outfits were perfectly adorable.

Pretty much my favorite pic: Grandma Bee
with her grand baby.  I love Jayce's eyes,
and his little brown hand on hers.

Two good looking boys!

Mommy and me

Oh, I have to share about Jayce's shirt.  So, I have had this suit for him for a while.  (He's almost grown out of it.)  But I didn't have a collared shirt.  Sure, I have plaid flannel.  Most days I'm not hick enough to put a suit jacket over flannel, although no one would have been surprised.  So, Anya and I went to GoodWill to look for a shirt.  Before hand, I prayed specifically that God would give us a shirt that was the right color and size for him.  After several minutes of looking through the hodgepodge of over-worn kids' clothes, there was ONE boys' dress shirt.  White.  Name brand. Jayce's exact size.  Brand new.  With tags.  $4.  HOW COOL IS GOD????  I loved that little reminder of His care for me and my crazy life.

After the wedding we went to our krav maga class.  It was the first time we had been back since the kids were home.  They were very patient through the class, staying off the mats and quietly playing.  At one point, "Big John" had Philip in a hold, lifted off the ground.  Anya saw her daddy being "attacked" and her eyes became very round, her lip puckered, and a little whimper escaped her lips.  I think all the guys' hearts melted, and Philip had to reassure her that he was fine.  In other news, I can barely move today, though it was not a hard workout.  Gotta get back in shape.  Arg.

We are going to the zoo tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have some cute kiddo-animal pics coming up soon.

That's all for now!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

One Month Home: Learning About Being a Parent

Handsome Little Man is
such an "old soul"
As our learning curve has spiked in the last few weeks, I thought I'd share some of what we are coming to accept as our new "normal".  We have been home a month now.  I never dreamed I'd actually survive this month.  They say it gets better, so I'm holding onto that!  It's been good.  Really, it has.  I feel as though it has not been as "hard" as it has been completely exhausting.  Somehow, I manage to get up every morning.  Somehow the kids are fed, clothed, bathed, played with, loved on, taken on walks, disciplined in love, and are growing and learning.  I guess this is God's grace played out in a real life situation.

Ok, so some things we've learned, along with some random observations:

Coffee.  We thought we were addicts before, but now?  I think I've tripled my coffee consumption since the kids came home, and there is no signs of that decreasing in the foreseeable future.  The 25 pounds of coffee beans that we brought back from Ethiopia aren't going to last very long at this rate.

Philip and I accidentally talk to each other in kiddo-talk.  Simplified vocabulary, "kitty" "potty" and "yummy" are now liberally sprinkled through our adult conversations.  Dangit.

We talk about poop.  A lot.  We rejoice over various stages of poop.  Firm poop is now Facebook worthy, despite my friend's criticisms. I have tried to be positive and not share that we are, again, dealing with poop issues.  Shhhh.

The music we listen to needs to be more carefully filtered.  We are opposed to Jayce and Anya singing along to "Coal Mine" before they are two.  Zac Brown, however, is acceptable in any form.  ???  (Well, he should be.)

Morning snuggles with Jayce are the best ever.

It's refreshing to be "the parent".  I don't have to worry about someone else dictating my choices.  Obviously I'm dong the best I can, and obviously there are times I need advice.  (Ok, I often need advice.)  However, if I want to pick up a cheerio off the floor and put it back on their plate, that's my call.  If I want to boil the toy that has fallen on the floor, that's also my call.  It's nice.  Philip and I agree that we could never do this with someone else's kids.  It would feel too threatening.

Nothing is more important than spending time with the kiddos.

First Otter-Pop from the
neighbor girl next door
Forget "prego-brain", this "Mama-brain" is even more spacey.  I seriously can't remember anything.  at. all.  I'm lucky my head is attached or I'd leave it laying around somewhere.  For example, I have gone out to the car several times without my shoes on.  The kids are fully clothed, with shoes and socks.  The "put shoes on" task was mentally checked off when their shoes were put on, so surely I don't need to think about my shoes anymore, right?  Yeah, I could barely walk after I walked barefoot to the park on hot asphalt.  ::Mama fail::

I am even more grateful for my husband, and I depend on him more than ever.  His patience, enthusiasm, endurance and resourcefulness is crazy.  I love him so much!

You can never pack enough snacks.

Our definition of "dirty" has changed dramatically.  Now, if it's just a little food, it's still clean.  Or just a little pee.  Or just a little dirt.  Or just a little slobber.  Poop, however, is always dirty.  Yuck.

You don't need a gym when the kids discover how "fun" it is to make you do crunches when they are standing on your abs or sit-ups when they are flopped on your chest.

I have had to evaluate my priorities, and choose wisely.  At least, I have to choose.  Since I only have maybe two hours a day to myself, during nap, I cannot do everything I would want to.  Nap?  Blog?  Movie?  Time with Husband?  Cook?  Clean?  Laundry?  Read?  Garden?  Jog?  Chat with a friend?  Yeah, I can't do it all.  A lot has slipped through the cracks, mostly housework.

The aspect that has suffered the most is my time with God.  I have not yet really figured out how that is supposed to work yet, and how to do that in a way to show the kids it's importance.

Baby Girl "painting" in the bath tub with
shaving cream and food coloring
All of a sudden I have things in common with friends that I never hung out with before, and all of a sudden, I'm different than friends that I've been close to for years.  I'm really grateful for everyone's confidence in me and willingness to bail me out in a pinch.  Especially my Mom.  She's been amazing.

I find myself evaluating whether friends' kids would be a good influence on my kids.

Calling someone back within a reasonable amount of time is....  um...  a thing of the past.  Sorry.

A tank of gas lasts, like, 2 weeks now.  We don't really go anywhere during the week anymore.

It's hard to get used to finding such tiny clothing in my laundry pile or other places in the house.  Then, there were tiny helicopters in my shower.  Wha??  Oh, yeah.  I have kiddos now.

I am eternally glad that we brought home two kiddos instead of one.  They don't really "entertain" each other, but they are a source of comfort for each other.  They are beginning to interact more and it's both a relief and kinda fun to watch.

Baby girl all giddy that she has
a pretty dress for Auntie Grace
and Uncle Jonathan's wedding
I love how "boy" Jayce is, and how "girl" Anya is.  I actually kinda marvel at how God designed them. No one needed to "teach" Jayce how to "fight" with a sword, play with cars, make "little boy noises" or be protective of Sister.  No one needed to show Anya how to snuggle a doll, be dramatic, or prissy.  The "boy" stuff just isn't as interesting to her.  How cool is God?

The mere presence of coffee in my day, whether I actually have the presence of mind to drink it or not, can lift my spirits!  Though, forgetting to drink it results in disaster.

All social activities revolve around nap time.  Pity the poor person who angers of the gods of Nap.

Jayce wiping Anya's nose this evening.
She wasn't thrilled
So, this week Jayce learned to crack eggs.  He wiped down the table, set the table, wiped sister's face while she was eating with a piece of tissue (three times!) and decided to wash my dish for me.  He didn't play in the water.  He was legitimately washing my dish. He and Anya also got their first piece of mail!  Jayce needed a little help to know where to start, but once started, he unearthed the letter pronto!

Pushing a stroller is hard work!  It seems to increase my workout by at least half.  What before might have been an easy 3 1/2 mile walk all of a sudden becomes a drenched-in-sweat-look-like-crap experience.

I'm not a fan of being hit on by creepy guys while pushing a stroller.  I don't know what the attraction is.  I'm not a fan of being hit on by anyone, really, but it's unnerving in the above circumstance.

Being a parent is.....  unlike anything I've done before.  Obviously.  I don't really feel "stressed" by it, but every muscle in my back and neck is tight.  I don't feel pressured to live up other others' parenting ideals,  but I feel overwhelmed by my own.  My kiddos are the best in the world, I can't imagine any other small folk fitting into our family so perfectly.  
A safe place to be
 I must admit, I miss quiet evenings with my husband, not being exhausted, lingering over coffee, and actually eating.  I miss being able to work out, being at the store for as long as I want, and taking my time waking up in the morning.  But, it's not about me, and these are small things to give up for the privilege of raising two of God's most perfect creations.  We are loving watching them grow and develop.  Every day there are new things to marvel at and laugh at and beat our heads against the wall about.

Look at how they have changed in the last 5 weeks (from when we took custody):


And now: