April 24, 2012

Family Update - Home One Month

Autumn's transition has been a breeze so far.  She's beautiful and happy, eats almost everything we put in front of her (or sees in the garden, particularly chives – major onion breath), sleeps well (once asleep), is helpful (she screams, "Mamaaaaaaa!!!" like a bomb is detonating, every time the microwave beeps and food is ready), is learning a little English (could be more except Mama is practicing too much Chinese on her daughter), has a shorter than we're used to attention span (4 minutes for a new toy, 30 seconds for an old one, and 10 minutes for a video), loves going to Sunday school, is incredibly active (as noted in previous blog entries), loves to be outside/go places in the mini-van (if someone is leaving and she can't go, she cries and hurriedly puts her shoes and coat on - sometimes she'll be standing by the door crying in her shoes, coat, and only a diaper underneath), she's smart and is working on how to unlock the doors in our house (we've had to lock them all from the inside because she gets into so much, but lately she's been carrying around an army guy like it's a key, sticking it in the locks), and she jokes around a lot and laughs at her own attempts at wittiness (just like Mama).

The rest of the family?  A little more challenging.

The Boys - Everyday gets a little better for them.  They did quite well in China, considering the circumstances, but when they got home to their own turf and realized it was being invaded by a non-English speaking/understanding half-pint, things changed.  She was touching their toys, breaking the house rules, and seemingly, getting away with them, as she received drastically large amounts of attention that they had been receiving prior to China.  There have been days when I wondered if they would ever love her and there have been days where I have seen a gentle and kind side from the boys, I have not seen before.  Their adjustment is our greatest area of prayer right now. We're focusing on getting them the attention they need, by taking 30 minutes of one parent-to-one boy time each night to do whatever they want.

Steve - He's struggling with balancing attention among the three kids.  After working all day, and then trying to find time to cram in enough attention for each kid, he's left doing the Nestea Plunge into bed at night.  

Fuzzy-Kitty - Oh, wait, she's been gone since last August.

Kate - I'm struggling to get used to having a three-year old back in the house who, appropriately, loves to get into everything, dump it out, and leave it for someone else to clean up.  The energy it takes to keep up with her and at the same time, teach the boys how to be gentle and kind with her is overwhelming.  I'm hoping that as she learns more English and the way things work in a family, that things will be easier.  

My new motto is "just let it go, and love".  

She climbs a chair and pulls down an entire box of hair accoutrements and leaves them all over the floor? Just let it go!  Put on a smile and sing the Barney clean-up song as you demonstrate picking them up, as she's walking away looking for her next target.  

She throws a tantrum because she wants her dinner in a bowl, not on a plate?  Just let it go!  Smile a sympathetic smile and pull her meal away until she cries it out and settles for the plate (this never would have worked for Sheehan - he would have starved for two days before eating off that stinking plate).  

She sets off the elevator alarm at the boy's school where they take speech, then runs down the hall, yelling in delight that mom is chasing her (or screaming in despair because she is strapped down in her stroller) and disrupts the entire building?  Just let it go!  Smile and laugh, then blog about it later.

She closes every door in the house that you want open?  Just let it go!  Smile and say, "open," and then when you come back later and see they're all closed, just let it go again!  With gritted teeth, force a smile, that you hope miraculously connects to your heart, remind her "open" and remember that she still doesn't know English.  

She opens all the doors you want closed, loses all the remotes for the 12th time, and inadvertently reconfigures your computer to do things you've never been able to do?  Just let it go!  Go to your room.  Cry your eyes out.  Beg God for mercy on your soul.  Somehow, pick yourself up off the floor as she wails outside your closed door.  With renewed empathy, give her a hug and a kiss and tell her wo ai ni (I love you). 

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April 10, 2012

Videos from China

Since I wasn't able to post any videos in China (had something to do with my iPad and my inability to figure it out) I'm posting some now.  Enjoy!

Three year old energy...
at the airport - see post Flying to Guangzhou

The cattle drive.  I mean, the physical exam.
See post Physical Exam

What Mornings Looked Like in China

Freaking Scary Lions
See post Guangzhou Zoo

Save the Drama for Your...wait.

Cinematography courtesy of Sheehan.  
I just thought Josiah flying through the room was funny.

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April 05, 2012

Home a Week

 A few people have emailed me over the past week asking for an update on what we've been up to since getting home. In a word: nothing. We've been up to nothing. If my identity were at all tied up in my accomplishments as a mother, which, of course, it's not (dramatic pause). My identity is tied up in Jesus (second dramatic pause). Ok, well, let's just say that, absolutely, without a doubt, hypothetically, IF some part of my identity were wrapped up in my role as a mother – which, again, we know it's not – then my title this week would be Queen Nothing.

I wish Nothing included lounging on the couch, eating dark chocolates and sipping even chocolatier mochas, while the boys played harmoniously on the floor, and Autumn and I snuggled together building attachment, by looking longingly into each other's eyes. (sigh) But our Nothing looked more like this: I picked up blocks, and watched Autumn dump them; I picked up plastic grocery items, and watched Autumn dump them; I watched Autumn dump the contents of the diaper bag as my lower lip and shoulders dragged on the ground because I was so tired of picking up dumped items; I tried to read Autumn a book and she skipped every page to the very end, then threw it on the floor; I listened to my sons talk incessantly about Angry Birds and the three foot high green pig towers they were building in their room because they weren't allowed to play on the iPad except for (in a whiny voice) one hour on the weekend; I broke up fights between Sheehan and Autumn, Sheehan and Josiah, and Josiah and Autumn; and I relearned that a quiet child is not a content child, but is a mischievous child.

But, I know deep down somewhere hidden in the crevices between my liver and my gallbladder (which we all know is a useless organ anyway...or am I confusing that with the tonsils?) that I've accomplished quite a lot this week. I've played with my children, I've loved them, I've trained them, I've comforted them, I've gotten to know them better, and I've worked on that whole bonding and attachment thing.

Other notable Nothings we did this week:
  • Watched way too much TV. In fact, I've watched so much of that Sid the Science Kid that I've developed an overwhelming distaste for every character on that show, but especially pink-headed Gerald, who I want to punch in the face because he's so annoying. Also, Elmo is Autumn's new BFF.
  • Played on the playground – discovered that Autumn likes the swings, but only so high before she goes from giddiness to sheer terror.
  • Got back to a normal sleep schedule in a record eight days (Thanks Steve!). I missed the Chinese cement mattresses so much that I found myself lured into sleeping on Autumn's bedroom floor a few nights - to simulate that not-so-soft feeling.
  • Celebrated Autumn's 3rd Birthday – I hate to say this is nothing because it's so not nothing, but when you get back from the other side of the world just five days prior and you're still jet-lagged, then birthdays take a backseat. We did manage to pick up some cupcakes at Dominick's and throw up some recycled decorations and blow up balloons. We did it while Autumn napped and when she woke up and saw it, she gasped in delight over and over again. It was very cute.

Things we've learned about Autumn this week:
Autumn goes by the philosophy of “Touchers, Keepers, Losers, Weepers. She believes that if she touches something, then it's automatically hers. She pats her chest and says, “Yu-way”, which is how she says her Chinese name. If you remind her that the item belongs to someone else, she stamps her foot and goes into tantrum mode. Items she has touched and therefore claimed, have included: most of the boy's toys, my phone, everyone else's plate of food, the iPad, Steve's shoes, and feminine hygiene products.

She has a great sense of humor and likes to give and receive jokes. She will take something that belongs to someone else and will run away and when you chase her, she thinks it's funny and she runs all the faster, laughing at you and herself.
She has the gift of encouragement. Every time I successfully use the potty, she shouts, “hao jie la” which means something like, “great job!”

She likes to run around naked. But, who doesn't?

Her two most favorite things in the world are taking a bath and going outside. Taking a bath is liquid heaven to her. She'd do it twice a day if I'd let her. I have to be very careful about putting on shoes or a sweater near the front door because when she sees that, she thinks it's time to go (anywhere, but inside) and will start bringing me everything else that I might need to go outside (sunglasses, gloves, purse, coat). If we don't go outside, then she throws a tantrum. If she puts her coat on in the morning (because she mistakenly thinks she's going outside), she spends most of the day wearing it and refuses to take it off...unless she's getting a bath.

Our biggest challenge since we got home has been the adjustment between Sheehan and Autumn. They both want to be #1 and are both stubborn. I made the mistake of leaving the bathroom door open the other day while taking care of business. Autumn ran in and tried to shut the door behind her. Sheehan ran in and put his foot in front of the door to block her from closing it. She started jumping up and down, crying and then screamed at Sheehan. He was determined to not let her close the door. I sat, limp and dumbfounded, at what was unfolding in front of me just out of arm's reach. She started hitting him and kicking him. He tried hitting her back. I leaned forward swiping at anything, and missing. I yelled at Sheehan to leave the room and then got up and picked up Autumn and placed her outside the bathroom with the door closed, so I could finish. She cried and screamed even louder. I spoke soothingly to her through the door. That didn't help. Then Sheehan came back and tried to pull her off the door. Josiah was somewhere in the background, singing his made up song, “bu yao (which means “no”), bu-bu yao. Bu yao, bu-bu yoa.” Where was that stinking box of Calgon?! When I opened the door, Autumn stopped crying and shouted, “hao jie la!”

Video from China

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