Saturday, September 28, 2013

Apple Picking

My last post was Thursday and that has proven to be our toughest day.  Chloe seems to have gotten her angst out of her system with her complete unravel on Thursday and is charming once again and seems to be thoroughly enjoying her brother.

Friday morning, Christian seemed be be even more sad and I wondered what the day would hold, but he also was running a fever.  He wanted nothing to do with Marc, would even cry when I left the room.  I gave him Motrin and when his fever broken he was happy as a clam and perfectly fine with Marc once again.  He's been really fine ever since.  He's just doing amazingly well.  He has slept through the night four nights in a row now...this is an enormous gift!  He is just a ball of smiles and cuddles and we are really enjoying all four of our kids.

One of our favorite fall activities is Apple Picking, so we decided since Christian seems to be doing so well and he loves the outdoors, we'd venture out of the house for a day and enjoy this beautiful fall weather.  I carried him in the Ergo carrier when we were near lots of people, but out where we were picking apples, we were by ourselves and he was happy to walk.  It was nice to feel "normal" for a day, though we are very tired this evening.  No one knew we were in the middle of this huge life change, we were just another family with four kids.  It felt like a little glimpse of the future...when we will feel normal all the time;)  (Right now, things are going well but still feel palpably fragile most of the time.)

Yay- all four of our kiddos in one picture...can I say how much I LOVE THIS!

 Chloe and her Hannah

I am blessed beyond measure...

In search of the "good trees"


Christian LOVED carrying his apple bag;)

This girl is ALWAYS climbing trees;)

Ava and I HAD to get the beautiful apples at the top of the tree...

Family Picture

Our extended family picture;)  What will we do when Hannah leave us?;)

Christian Chillaxin' with mommy while other kids play

Duck/water racing

I don't know what you call this air bouncy trampoline thing, but the kids loved it.

Chloe LOVED being a farm girl


A peaceful ride home...

Sunshine and fresh air lead to good naps;)

I feel so content and blessed.  Four sleeping kids upstairs and a dining room table full of apples ready to be turned into yummy things tomorrow.  A full, wonderful fall day, what more could I ask for?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Reality is sometimes hard to swallow.

Today was our hardest day yet, though still filled with many good moments.

Christian is indeed grieving and requiring a few more cuddles.  This is very hard for my other children.  I realized it was hard because we've had some whining and neediness.  Yesterday, Chloe asked me to hold her and asked a lot of questions about why Christian doesn't have a mama and why we can't go to his house instead of this one, etc.  She was definitely having trouble sharing mama and processing what having a new brother means,  but today she came unhinged.  She was so off, out of sorts, inconsolable that we took her to the doctor.  I was certain she must have an ear infection.  She is absolutely 100% physically healthy.  I mean the doctor didn't even say, "It looks like she has some fluid in her ears, she's probably not feeling very well, a cold is coming."  Nope, not even a little physical explanation.  The girl was just having a complete melt down.  It's very hard to meet everyone's needs.  With the move so recent, it breaks my heart that she was struggling to such a degree.  She was MUCH better this evening and said she felt happy, so I am thankful she was able to "bounce back" but it hurt my heart.

We went to the park after her morning melt down to give the kids a change of pace.  It is just a neighborhood park, the day was gorgeous and with most people in school, we knew it would be vacant.

 It definitely helped Chloe kind of change gears

 and Phin always love being at the park with his Papa.

 Christian was excited as soon as we pulled up.  He was SO happy though cautious at first.

But soon he got the hang of it....

He loved the slide and swings...

Then, folks, I made a huge mistake.  We've been playing chase a lot in the house and yard and Christian loves it.  I started running to have him chase me and he PANICKED.  I will never forget the look on his face.  It was sheer panic and terror.  He thought I was running away and leaving him, I guess.  He had a look like he was going to wail, but NO sound came out.  Just shock, frozen in shock.  He didn't play too much thereafter, he just clung to me.  Soon we went home.  

It wasn't a purposeful move, of course, but we were in a strange place and as well as he looks like he's doing, it was a reminder that the trauma is right under the surface.  He is doing SO well, but he is vulnerable.  

He bounced right back.  He was a bit whiny at naptime for the first time with me, but very calm at bedtime.  He slept through the night again last night, so I am hopeful tonight will be the same.

We are definitely in a fragile place.  As wonderful as it's going for the most part, the balance for each of the kids is precarious.  Please continue to lift us up in prayer.  We are having so many wonderful moments and we are thankful, but today had some really tough ones and my heart just feels sad for the hurt my kiddos are experiencing.  Chloe is losing baby status and that is hard.  I know she'll be okay, but it is hard to see the moments where hurt or confusion over takes her.  Christian is definitely embracing our life.  I know he feels safe with us and he expresses so much joy, but he is also missing his friends and caregivers from the creche, missing what he's known his whole life.  I can't make that easy for him and I wish I could.  

Tomorrow is a new day, we embrace whatever it holds, knowing it's all part of the transition.  We would rather the kids express their emotions than suppress them!  God is giving us strength and grace and we are so thankful for support and prayers!!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our life at the moment

First, let me just say Christian slept through the night last night.  It was SO nice to sleep all night long.  I don't know if it will continue but I will take it whenever he wants to do it;)

I think he started grieving a bit today.  We were looking at pictures of his friends and nannies.  Today he was very excited saying their names but afterwards wanted to just be held and wanted to be held a lot thereafter.

He also is wanting me and not Marc at nap/bedtime.  Today I went to Costco as Marc was putting him down.  Apparently he cried for a good few minutes.  Tonight I was trying to focus on Chloe and let Marc put him down but he fell apart and he couldn't be consoled at all by Marc.  He'll stop crying instantly when I come.  We'll have to learn the balance but for now we are meeting the need for him to feel safe and held.  He plays with Marc and has a great time with him.  If he needs me to put him to sleep, I can do that.

Things otherwise continue to go well.  He is just a lot of fun.  He is full of life just like our other kiddos.  It's fun to learn more about him each day and watch HIM learn about his new environment.

A few highlights for me:

-I wish I could bottle the joy and amazement the first time I turned on the dryer with him hanging on my leg.  HILARIOUS y'all!  My dryer has a window and he was pointing talking excitedly in toddler speak Kreyol and pointing.  He stood there amazed and giddy for quite a few minute and still loves to check it out whenever its on.

-He doesn't watch at all.  A WONDERFUL thing, except this is how I usually get a shower in the morning or have a quiet time;)

-He LOVES my sensory table.  It currently has dry beans in it and he'll play in it over an hour...perhaps my new shower distraction?

-He LOVES to be outside.

-He is SO SMART!  I mean REALLY, smart.  He imitates and communicates with motions AMAZINGLY'd think he'd been trained to do it.  He already puts his laundry in the hamper, his diaper in the diaper bin, lays down immediately when I put down a towel to change his diaper.  He is just a SHARP cookie.

-He has obviously been exposed to some potty training already.  He goes in the bathroom and says, "pee pee".  I take off his diaper, he lifts the seats, stands there a minute and then takes toilet paper and wipes himself.  Adorable.  He doesn't actually go, but if hey, any positivity in that direction, is okay by me.

-He loves to be tickled.  He'll come up to you and just raise his arm and point to his arm pit;) or point to his belly...or take his socks off so we tickle his feet.

-He is a good eater.  He'll make it known when he doesn't want something, but he's great about trying things.  He loves meat.  He hasn't had much fruit or fresh veggies and it took us a bit to figure out when we offer him fruit it must be room temperature for him to eat it.

-He is diggin' being able to have his sippy cup whenever he wants (at the orphanage that had special water times and then they'd be put away)...we wonder if it's becoming a security object;)

-He loves dogs in books and it's one of the words he's acquired already.  Our neighbors dog ran out when we were in the backyard today and started barking.  I think it's the first time he's seen a live dog.  It was hysterical.  He was shocked and not quite scared, but not quite happy.  He held my hand and stared and pointed.  Then he warmed up and started to run near the property line and away once he figured out the dog stayed put;)

-He did really well in a short car ride today so my anxiety about the car seat seems unfounded!

Here are a few more photos...we are enjoying our time just hanging as a family immensely.  Seriously folks, highly recommend checking out of life and just "being" together;)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Today was another good day.  Our bio kids are all struggling a bit.  We let Ava stay home from school so we could just have time as a family, I hope it helped.  She is acting just weird....which equates to annoying cuz she is 7;). It's hard to be patient.  Chloe is whiney.  Phin will be fine and then disappear and we find him hiding by himself kind of moping. The cool thing is as we seek him out he is learning to put words to his feelings more than he has in the past.  I feel like with Chloe and Ava, the summer's difficult move and the behavior that crept up in the chaos prepared us for this.  They both need structure but lots of grace and reassurance.  Both Marc and I have to be very diligent about doling out lots of affection,  the kids seem to really watch and feel sad if we seem to be hugging on Christian,  they all are simultaneously still playing with him and having fun.  It's going well, Marc and I just have to be really diligent and aware at all times.  It's a bit tiring but I really feel like we are being strengthened.  I know we are bring prayed for!

Christian is biting.  How do you handle that when he doesn't speak the language?  Time ins so far aren't working.  He bites both when he is playing and where is frustrated with Chloe.  We taught her to just say "NO" loudly but she told us tonight he bits harder when she says's sort of funny, but not something we want to continue.  He can't apologize yet, so we just keep trying to reinforce that it isn't acceptable.  We might need some advice from other adoptive parents on this one.

I spoke with our director today.  She was very encouraging that indeed all the good we are seeing really is good.  She said there typically isn't a honeymoon period with toddlers, but that we will see an increase in behavior issues and tantrums as he gets more comfortable.  He'll test us more and more.  We'll definitely be watching for it,  I guess right now I am just thankful he is doing so well so we can focus on the kids who are struggling.  He takes a lot of energy cuz he is two and needs us around but I am glad he is pretty happy and snuggly and sleeping fairly well and such.  He does get up at night but no night terrors, which are common in new adoptees.  He calms easily and goes back to bed...I am hoping he'll sleep through the night soon.

He does well in his own bed, as well.  We sit next to him until he falls asleep but we are getting our evenings so I am thankful,  Chloe is having a harder time sleeping than he is right now.  

Thanks for prayers!! Please keep praying.  I am so thankful for them.  Please pray especially as Marc goes back to work next week and we can no longer tag team it during the day...I will be stretched even thinner!  His grace is sufficient for me!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Homecoming Part 5- We've ARRIVED!

9/23- 1:30pm

I was too tired to write last night.  We arrived in Chicago and Many of our friends were there despite the late flight; my precious family was too.  It was SO amazing to hear cheers as we came down the escalator.  So many people love and support us, we are humbled.  I can't articulate how special this moment is and what an honor it is to share with people that love us!

Christian did great.  We were there about 20 minutes or so and he was fine, but tired.  Based on how well he did all day, I actually think he may have even smiled at these new faces had he not been so tired!  Ava, Phin, and Chloe are excited.

Christian fell asleep in the car on the way home.  Phin told us he thought the airport was overwhelming and I guess that means Christian must have found it even more so;)  Christian stayed asleep at home even though diaper and pajama change and got up about this morning at 6am.

He and the other kids are sleeping now after and amazing morning.  We are exhausted but I find it hard to nap today.  The hardest part, is just making sure the other kids have our attention too, and everyone is tired and a little needier than normal but over all it's been GREAT!  We have to stay engaged in play all the time, but that is okay.  Hannah is helping with clean up and being so amazing at giving us family time today.  I can't thank her enough for how she's helped us. She's a gift.

This journey has far to go and I can't wait to keep watching it unfold.  This kid is amazing.  He is playful, eating, wrestling with papa and the kids, but showing amazing signs of attachment.  Constantly coming back to one of us during play, calling me while he's play, asking for more food, wanting us to stay with him while he falls asleep.

 We looked at the pictures from the trip today of the creche and his friends.  The book says it's important in validating their grief.  He seemed like he was pondering it all as we looked  and wanted me to hold him, but no tears, just a lot of studying it.  We will continue to pray for his heart.

We read a book called Toddler Adoption that said the main difference between Toddler adoption and adopting a child is there is no Honeymoon Period in Toddler adoption.  I'll have to ask around to see how true this is.  I don't know if we should we waiting for everything to fall apart in 4-6 weeks or if the book is right and we are just really fortunate?  We'll energy to worry about it today;)  Even if life is going to crash, I am thankful for the precious moments of today!