Saturday, November 8, 2014

And then there were five...

Let me introduce the newest member of our family:

Sweet Baby Girl M
When she was first placed in my arms :)
Proud daddy of five!
S looks huge now!!
Our sweet girl surprised us by coming 2 weeks early.  We are so blessed!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkins, Babymoons, & Haircuts!

Pumpkins, cooler weather, apple crisp, and a million new pumpkin recipes that I want to try! Here are some pics of our recent trip to an orchard.

Then, of course, we're counting down the days until baby #5 decides to enter the world!  A lot of parenting "experts" recommend a "baby moon" before adding a new baby to the family.  Well, here's ours = Red Lobster, Target, & Best buy. How's that for romance?!?   ;)

This was actually the FIRST date night since bringing S home 3 months ago and (most likely) the LAST before baby #5 arrives.

And finally, we took the two young boys to get hair cuts. P loved it….S not so much!  Of course, P's a haircut veteran, while this was S's FIRST in the US.  We had S watch P, which normally helps a ton! But not this time. Thankfully, even though he was sad, there were no tears or screaming and the stylists were awesome!

Hope everyone has a fun fall!  Who knows? Maybe this could be the LAST post before the new baby comes! :)


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

10 week milestones

So last week was our 10th week home with S and he had a couple "firsts."

Now, these may sound silly to some people out there.  They're just normal things for most other families. But if you're a family through adoption, working your way through attachment, bonding, and adjustment, these are BIG & WONDERFUL accomplishments!

1. First time at weekly mass.

Normally I take the kids to church each week, while Ob stays home with S, which is fine with Ob, since he's not Catholic, he never goes anyways! But I felt like S was ready, this was THE week! I was worried because our church doesn't have a nursery or "cry room," so if S had a tantrum, I'd have to go outside or to the attached Fellowship Hall. Thankfully, he did fine. This is probably part due to having siblings to help entertain him. Our pew was a little less quiet than normal, but that's to be expected with 4 kiddos! Plus, pretty soon I'll be taking 5 kids to mass with me, so I figured I better get the hang of it with 4!! :)

2. First time on the weekly grocery trip
This is different than the quick "Oops, I need to run in & grab a gallon of milk" trips, which he has been on before.  The once-a-week BIG grocery shopping trip is Obie's domain (while I stay home & work on the laundry or bathrooms = yay for divide & conquer!) This trip involves 3 stores & 4 stops:
  1. Aldi
  2. Home, drop off Aldi's groceries with kids still in car. B or I put them away
  3. Walmart
  4. Martin's
For some unknown reason, Ob likes to take the kids with him??? In fact, they're all well-known at each store now. Martin's even gives them special "samples" now!! :) Even the Starbucks inside Martin's used to treat them to free small cups of whip cream & chocolate sauce!  Hmmm...could it be he enjoys the attention as much as them??? ;) He always comes home exhausted, but normally everyone behaves just fine & this week with S was no different.  I didn't think there would be any problems. S really likes going places & seeing new things.  He gets super excited whenever he sees us putting on our shoes because then he knows we're going somewhere.  He even yells, "Out to car!" :)

3. First time at Art on the Avenue

This is a fun day for families in our community. Local artists display their work and there are TONS of kid's activities including:
  • face painting
  • chalk pictures
  • puppet shows
  • comedians
  • building bird houses, tool boxes, or bug houses (seriously, with hammers, nails, paint, everything!)
  • balloon animals
  • crayon shavings designs
  • creating & decorating candle holders
  • and more!
Of course my favorite:  the FOOD!  Again, S did great! Even sitting to get his face painted!


It's so amazing to watch S pick up English. He's like a little sponge, seriously!!   After he completes nearly any activity he says, "There we go!"  (I didn't realize how much I say that in a day!) Then, the other day he said to his 4-yr-old brother, "No, no P. Say sorry," which I just found hilarious! Do we say that a lot to S???   When the other kids are at school, he runs around the house saying, "Where P? Where A? Where B?" and "I don't know." :)

Looking forward to many more "Firsts"

Friday, August 22, 2014

7 weeks HOME

When I started to write this post, I didn't realize how much had happened in the last 7-ish weeks. So bear with me & enjoy the ride!

The Beginning of HOME

If you recall our last day of travel was a bit of a challenge: 34 hours of no real sleep, other than a few short cat-naps for S & I.  So when we got home, it was all about survival!  Ob adjusted much quicker than S & I, but he had the help of caffeine & sleep aids, soooooo that may be why!  S & I spent those first 4 days at home in our pj's! I may have showered once…just saying' sleep deprivation + jet lag + new family member = me wrecked! Seriously, we didn't even go outside for those first 4 days! (Other than to set off some fireworks!) Here are some pics of those first few days…Remember, he came home on the 4th of July!

By day 5 it was time to break out the curling iron & make-up because it was time for my ultrasound appointment!  This was the first family outing with EVERYONE, so we were a bit nervous. Thankfully, there were no melt-downs. S did decide at one point that he was going to lay on the ground in the waiting room. He was NOT getting up. PERIOD. But he was quiet & right by us, so we let him. The tech did a normal 2D ultrasound and then surprised me by doing a 3D one too! I've never had one of those before.

Ready to meet #5?!?  It's a GIRL!!! :)

Then we went back to attempting to cocoon. I say "attempt" because it turns out I kinda stink at it! Which is weird because normally I love being home, but it turns out...
Being at home, all day long was driving me a little crazy. So, I "broke" the rules and allowed some family and friends over. (Just a couple: grandparents, aunt, & two neighbor friends, I promise.) I also tried to get outside everyday. Since it's summer that's not too hard. I really think S did better with some outside activity too. We went on walks around the neighborhood, played at the park, and started taking him on errands to the pick up the other kids or a quick grocery run.  (Maybe my view of cocooning was too strict? Idk??)

Swimming Lessons!

Then swimming lessons began for A and P and he came along and watched every day. It was nice to get a little bit of a routine going. Everything is so laid back in the summer!  But the lessons were bittersweet because they were the LAST. The city voted to close the pool for money reasons, which is super depressing. All of my kids learned to swim there! I learned to swim there! It's been around for several generations. Such as asset to our little community, now gone. :(  [Edit: The city saved the pool & renovated it! Yay!!]

Anniversary Time :) 

In the midst of all this, Ob & I celebrated our anniversary!  We didn't get a sitter and go out, because we definitely weren't comfortable leaving S yet, but we figured we could count going to China as our date!!

Shrek the Musical

Then, about 3 weeks after we arrived home, I left S for the first time to support our oldest, B, as he played the Big Bad Wolf in Shrek the Musical. It felt weird to be out & about without S (even a little guilty), but Obie stayed home with him. The play lasted until about 11 pm, so I was sure that he'd be asleep when I returned, but NOPE!  At least there weren't any problems!

A loved it so much - she saw it 3 times!!
Four Generations!
The Big Bad Wolf (minus his wig)
A's 8th b-day! 

My darling A turned 8 this summer!

Two big helpers working on A's whoopie pies!

B-day present: J-aminals…this girl is very susceptible to TV advertising!!
No cake this year - she wanted whoopie pies made from brownies with cool whip frosting
He may have gotten some on his face…  ;)
Gotta show off the bump at least a couple times during this pregnancy!
If Daddy had been in it, this would have been PERFECT!
Summer Randomness

It's interesting watching S discover new things - at first he is very shy and quiet. He just sits on my lap and studies things. After about 30 minutes of observation, he's ready to give it a try.  We have a little pool with the blow-up ring around the outside and that's exactly how he responded it.  And then he totally enjoyed it!
Normally it's 30 inches deep.  This is when it deflated… ;)
Checking out the BIG kids in the neighbors BIG pool (not brave enough to get in yet…)
S selfie!
Crazy P selfie!
Surely these sweet boys couldn't have created this mess?!?

Practicing writing our letters in shaving cream
Why can't I get them smiling at the same time?
First trip to McDonald's play place - I actually hate the food, but P loves the play place! 

In an effort to quick-hurry-up-and-squeeze-the-last-amount-of-fun-out-of-summer we took all the kiddos out to eat (twice!), shopping, and played at Chuck E. Cheese!

Texas Roadhouse - because if you're going to take a toddler (and 3 other kiddos) out to a restaurant,
you want one that's loud & you can throw peanut shells on the ground! 
He did great & LOVED throwing shells on the ground!!
The handsome teenager in the group
Another day at Steak & Shake
Chuck E Cheese - eventually he found a game he liked! ;)
The skee ball champ! 
The BIG day - B = freshman, A = 2nd gd, P = PreK.  It was a little sad not being in the pic this year. Normally it's my first day too, but with the addition of S this summer & Baby #5 in Nov, I'm taking the whole year OFF

S has been such a wonderful blessing to our family. We are so lucky to have him! He is so smart and (I may be biased) amazingly cute!! We've dealt with much of what every book/blog/article stated. My heart breaks for poor S when he's distressed. I feel guilty and frustrated that I can't "make it all better." Rationally, I know he's better off in a family rather than an orphanage, but sometimes I know he's missing his former life. The new sights, sounds, smells, food, people, language, surroundings...I know it can be overwhelming. It would be difficult for anyone to adjust, but especially a toddler who struggles to understand & communicate his feelings in the first place. I just want to comfort him and let him know that we are his family forever. We will always be here to love and protect him.

Like the books/blogs/articles stated, "Adoption is hard."  And I hate to admit it now, but if you had asked me during the first two weeks whether I recommended adoption, the answer may have been "No." :(  Those first two weeks were just rough.  The epic melt-downs. Even though we'd been warned about toddler tantrums (so I can't say I didn't know they were coming), the reality is much worse than the idea!!!  And S was so needy. I even discussed this with our social worker during our first post-placement visit. She reminded us that it's better to have a kid like that, than one that plays by himself in his room for hours. Of course, we agreed. (Our agency has been great about offering support & resources & being nonjudgmental.)

Even though I knew the adjustment was hardest one S, I can't ignore everyone else's feeling. It was challenging for the whole family. Poor P (the former baby of the family) just wanted things to go back to "normal." One day I mentioned that school was starting soon and things would go back to normal, meaning going to bed early & waking up early.
P responded: "Does that mean we're going to take S back to China? "
Me: "No!?!"
P: "But you said things were going to go back to normal!"

And I hesitate to share this, but...I had some selfish feelings too. I missed our old life, our old routines/patterns, and the freedom to get grandma or auntie to baby-sit at a moment's notice so we could go out on a date. S changed our "comfortable" lives. How could I be feeling like this? I wondered, especially since I was the one who initiated the whole adoption?  (I can feel the judgement...You may start to throw those stones now.) And this led to guilt...

[Edit: Sometimes honesty is ugly. I love our little S and never want him to feel unwanted. The reason I shared this was because I believe the realities of adoption - all of them - even the unpleasant ones -need to be revealed. We're doing no good hiding, denying, or sugar-coating it. Adoption is not all flowers and unicorns. The less "pretty" parts need to be addressed in order to truly represent the complex process and lead us to GROWTH and HEALING. I found the piece A Dirty Secret in Adoption to be a very comforting. Thank you Stefanie at No Hands But Ours!]

Thankfully, time has softened these difficulties. S is molding into our family and I'm praying each night that I can be the mom he needs. We have been working on teaching S how to behave in a family, which we're accomplishing through lots of modeling (watching & copying the older kids) and "re-do's."  Thankfully, we have a smarty on our hands and he has learned so much so fast!!  Both behaviors & language.  I'm not worried at all about his language acquisition - he's picking it up so quickly. He's a little parrot!  He can say hi, hello, bye-bye, all done, up, out, car, loud, hot, cold, more, outside, sorry, belly, butt, owie, winner, no, milk, bottle, water, yes, drink, mama, baba, daddy, UNO (yes, the card game) and all of his siblings names…pretty much anything we ask him to say! He can pair words together.  He understands what he's saying too! He even repeats what I say to him each night, "Momma loves S."

And he and his siblings are bonding. He misses them terribly when they're at school and frequently asks where they are.

So if you ask me today if I recommend adoption, my answer would be an strong "YES!"  In fact, I'm already thinking about the next time we adopt...but don't tell my husband that! ;)

- Becky