Tuesday, September 30, 2014

14 Weeks Home, and More Coffee Please

Anya meets her first fuzzy caterpillar
Greetings from the depths of motherhood!  Wow, this is a wild and crazy adventure, and will make for great stories later.  I give up trying to formulate an intelligent thought, and if I don't start blogging again soon, it will never happen.  I was hoping for something profound and exciting to share, but I'll be lucky if I get to proofread this post.
Anya and her cousin, Henry
The kids have been home 3 1/2 months now.  In some ways, it has seemed like 3 1/2 years.  I'm not sure of the balance between "sticking to routine" vs. "doing fun and exciting things".  However, we have been doing fun things together and the kids learn new things every day.  Each day they learn a few new words, and seem to be a sponge for new experiences.  Each day starts with coffee (me) and lots of enthusiasm and energy (them).  By the time lunch rolls around, I'm counting the milliseconds until nap.  I'm honestly not sure how I make it to the end of each day, but the days keep passing, and I'm still alive.  The kids are even still alive!

Speaking of coffee, I'm a zombie without it, but don't seem to have any extra energy with it.  It's rather a loose-loose situation.  Yup, a true addict.

When we aren't as neat and tidy.....
We are still cute!
Jayce turned two on the 13th.  Philip was gone at a men's retreat, so I packed the kids up and snagged a few girlfriends and we went to the beach for the weekend.  We had a ton of fun, and I kept the sand out of the kids' hair with swim caps.  They looked a little odd, but don't judge.  It beat finding sand in their hair for the next week.  Both kids had overcome their fear of the waves by this time, and Anya thankfully overcame her propensity for eating sand.  We ate a nice dinner at a Thai place, and the owner's daughter was just a few days older than Anya.  I was pleased that both kids ate with the same care that we use (usually) at home.  It's pretty easy to take them to restaurants because they don't often make a mess.  The gentleman at the ice cream shop gave us an extra scoop of ice cream, and both kids enjoyed it, but did not finish.

Kiddos with their Auntie Stasia
The Monday after we got back from the beach, I had a birthday party for Jayce.  It was turtle themed, since turtles seem to be his favorite animal.  Jayce's friend Adane came, and we had fun playing together.  Mom helped, and did a fabulous job on the games.  That evening, I had an improvised hot dog roast for family.  It didn't really go according to plan, since the Estacada Fire had spread and Philip's family was waiting for the evacuation notice.  However, everyone ended the evening fed and happy, and with peace of mind that their horses and dogs were safe.

Adane, Jayce and Anya

Pin the Tail on the Turtle!

Anya is developing more coordination, with no loss of enthusiasm.  She can do almost anything Jayce does, but with giggles and princess-like flair.  She's such a girl!  I'll ask her to get her shoes and without fail, she brings her sparkly sandals.  Her favorite clothes are foofy and pink.  I'm not sure where this came from, and I never dreamed I'd have a daughter quite like her!

My beautiful, beautiful Baby Girl

She makes us smile every day, and I think her "velcro hugs" in the morning are the best-- she attaches herself to us in a hug that shows all of her zeal for life, her love and upbeat attitude.  Can't help but love her to pieces!

Mama, Auntie Juju, and Baby Girl

Grandma Bee

Jayce continues to amaze and learn and grow. He will imitate us at every opportunity, including knife defense at krav maga.  Evidently he handed his grand-mom a garden trowel, did some fancy chopping moves with his hands, and boldly took the trowel away from her, proud for knowing how to disarm his grandma.  What a nut!

Can we be any more handsome????

He is talking constantly, mostly in jabber.  He will repeat words regularly, and we continue to stretch and insist on proper responses.  "Yes, Mama" is preferred to "no, no no, no, no!!!!!!"  Just a few days ago we heard Jayce and Anya talking to each other with some English words intermixed.  It was fun to hear.  They have their own jabber language, but some English sprinkled in for good measure is a step in the right direction.

This boy is starting his modeling career early

Jayce learned the secret of manipulation the other day.  He wanted a banana, but I was busy.  So, he came over to where I was working, laid his head on my lap and snuggled for a moment.  Then he asked for a "bamyah" while looking adorable.  Mama's heart melted and he got his bamyah.

Jayce will do anything new, as long as he knows what to expect.  (My kid.) Anya, being the more adventurous of the two (Philip's kid), often gets to be the guinea pig while Jayce watches her.  Then, he is happy to do the activity after he watched Anya survive.  Everything from haircuts to craft projects, if you give the boy an example, he'll follow happily.  He watched us and figured out how to use a fork and a knife, all by himself.  The video is poor since the window was behind him, but the dexterity he has is pretty impressive for 2 years old.

Philip and I took the kids to the beach just to enjoy some time as a family.  We didn't spend much time on the sand, since the weather was not warm.  However, we fed seals at the Seaside Aquarium, which was actually pretty cool.  The aquarium itself was nice but not spectacular, but the seals were a hit.  They were super lively and active, and you ended up soaked from their splashing.  Both kids enjoyed feeding them halves of little fish (icky) and watching the seals bark and clap and splash and dive for the treat.  I'm still not sure what I think about halves of dead fish.

Later in the evening we went walking and watched a street performer and his guitar.  Both kids were fascinated, content to stop and be serenaded for a while.

As much as the kids will get annoyed with each other and be as "normal" of siblings as you can get, it's fun to watch them love on each other just as much.  Hugs are a common occurrence in our home, and usually end in a tackle.  But, it's a loving tackle.

They enjoy riding Auntie Juju's horse, and Anya finally consented to a horse being a part of her Princess Transport.  She was previously terrified.

Jayce tried on his first motorcycle helmet, and thought he was pretty hot stuff for it.

They love to go places, even if it's on a walk in the neighborhood.  My only concern is that they pronounce "shoes" as "douche".  I'm hoping they grow into a proper pronunciation sooner rather than later.

We were at a wedding recently and the venue had an antique water pump as decor.  Jayce explored the pump, asked about the water, and seemed to know what it was for.  I later realized that the spigot resembled the water source at the orphanage where he stayed for several months.

A few more videos of adorableness:

Philip blew bubbles on them in the tub tonight:

Anya talking on her phone:

That's all for now!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Too Much Activity

I love this guy more and more every day,
even if he did have to wear an orange bow
tie for his brother's wedding
Even before I had kids, I got myself in trouble for packing too much into my week.  Now that I have two small folks that have shorter attention spans, need more rest, and become overwhelmed by too many people, I get myself in even bigger trouble.  Philip and I tell each other over and over that we need to slow down.  Wayyyy down.  Somehow, despite our best efforts, it's still not working.

Now.  We gotta slow down.  WAY down.  These past 3 weeks have just been too much for everyone.  Please hear me, ALL of it has been good.  Good people, good memories, good meetings, good times, good places, good everything.  Just all munched into a short period of time.  I'm grateful for this week that we have almost an entire week until our next social event.  It'll be perfect!

The kids soldiered on very well over the past week.  We realized how taxing the craziness was on them, though, when they began to digress in areas we covered weeks ago with them: spitting out food, more diaper wetting, fussiness, fighting, etc.  We've taken it easy for the last few days and those issues seem to evaporate.

A few highlights from the past weeks:

Two friends came to visit, Matu was born in Liberia and came to the States when she was about 6.

Later in the week, Anastasia came up.  She spends weekends with us during the school year, but hadn't met the kids yet.  The kiddos had their first county fair with Anastasia and my mom.  They enjoyed the chickens and bunnies, but Anya was terrified by the cows.  Jayce took it all in stride.  Oh, look.  Another cow.

Baby Girl petting a chicken
Baby Girl NOT happy about cows

Very possessive of her Auntie Stasia

Philip's brother and sis-in-law came up from Costa Rica with their 3 children.  Jonathan got married this past weekend, so it was a good time for all the family to be together.  It was also a time for Jayce and Anya to meet their cousins.  One of my favorite moments was from Coslon, the oldest cousin.  He met Jayce and asked "is this my new cousin?"  So sweet and accepting, and it was fun watching the 5 kids interact.
Cousins: 6 weeks apart.  #blackandwhite

My beautiful sis-in-law with Anya and Addie

Anya and Addie, her cousin, were flower girls in the wedding.  (They are only 6 weeks apart in age-- so adorable!) Philip was to walk both girls down the aisle, but Addie saw her dad at the front and made a bee-line for him, ignoring her flower-distributing duty.  Jayce was not in the wedding, but he was dressed to the nines.  It was a good thing, since he attached himself to his Grand-dad and refused to be held by anyone else the entire day.  He even walked down the aisle with Grand-dad and sat contentedly with him during the entire ceremony.

My little heart-breaker

Anya walking down the aisle with Daddy after
Addie deserted them

5 Cousins

LOVE this Little Man

The next day I had a shower I helped plan for another friend.  One of the games involved making wedding dresses out of toilet paper.

This morning some dear friends came over to meet the kids.  They knew my parents when my mom was pregnant with me, and have been a part of my life for 30 years. It was precious to see them interacting with my kids.

Yesterday (^) Jayce expanded his vocabulary some more.  He added "horse" (Zhorsh) and his own name, Jayce (Jzaysh)!  He will also say "push",


Oh, good grief.  This is another week-to-write blog post.  LOL.  We took the kids to the State fair and Anya was less afraid of the cows, which was great.  She even said "oooooo oooooo oooooo" ("moo") for the sound a cow makes. They both love chocolate milk, and Jayce was chill as can be in the petting zoo.  Nothing phased him.  Anya whimpered the entire time, but did pet a goat, sheep, pig, and llama when requested.  Brave girl!  Animals aren't her "thing".

Jayce has said shoe, ear and head in the last few days.  I think he's trying to say "good job!" and "got it!" but it's not coming out quite right.  Those are phrases we say often, so I think he's trying to incorporate them.  He'll also say "oh!" and "wow" when something surprises or impresses him.

Anya will happily say "turtle" now as well.

Jayce is still adamantly opposed to bugs and snakes.  Especially bugs.  The world stops spinning when she sees a bug, and the screams continue until the bug is no longer in his view.

Both kids are beginning to tell us stories about what happened.  Jayce will point to Anya, say her name, and make hand motions to indicate she needs to pick up the mess she made on the table.  He'll say her name and then make a kissing noise to tell me that she kissed him, or point to Daddy and the couch to tell me that Daddy threw him on the couch.

On a different note, we had our first post-placement visit today! I didn't really have time to be nervous or panic about it.  We got to meet Brenda, the Dove staff member that helped us through the last 6 or so months before the kids were home.  We had communicated with her by e-mail but had never met her in person.  We also met our new social worker, Elise, who is actually really great.  I hope she sticks around for a while, since there have been so many staff changes in the last year or two.  They came and asked us a few questions, but it was mercifully low key: what kinds of foods do they like?  What are their favorite activities?  Do they like any extended family members?  How well do they sleep at night?  Brenda and Elise brought the kids fleece blankets and the kids enjoyed the "Where's Anya?  There she is!" game, with many giggles and squirms.  It felt like it went really well, the kids behaved well, and we might have fooled them into thinking that we weren't terrible parents.  ;)  Bahaha!

Ok, well, if I don't post this now, I may never.  Thanks for checking in!

Oh, and all the craziness of this week, yeah, we're ok.  Surviving fine.  I still forget to eat (breakfast for me yesterday was at 5pm) but the kids are adapting well, and Anya is getting SO CHUBBY!  I was looking at her in the bathtub yesterday and she resembles a gumdrop.  Jayce is still a bean pole.  But, he's like his daddy and won't be able to be chubby even if he wanted to.  :)