August 17, 2012

Five Months as a Family of Five Update

It's hard to believe it's been five months since we were sitting in an office, waiting with butterflies in our stomach for Autumn to arrive. She has changed our world and we are so blessed because of her.

Here's what life is like after five months. By the way, I skipped the four month update because not much had changed.

Communicating with Autumn
She understands most English words we use around the house, but we still don't understand a lot of what she's saying.  We've been working on her speech together and she'll be starting speech therapy soon.

She's begun Operation: Intense Whining. Even when she's trying to say a word, it often comes out as a high-pitch whine. She's trying so hard to communicate, but gets frustrated and therefore whines out her request. Poor thing. ...I'm talking about me.

And today, I confirmed that the Mandarin Chinese I spoke to Autumn for the first three months we had her, was indeed her third language learned. I met a woman at McDonald's today who was from Shanghai, very close to Yangzhou, where Autumn lived. She spoke Autumn's dialect, which is not Mandarin. Autumn had a lively conversation with her in not Mandarin. Which explains why Autumn gave me so many blank stares early on when I spoke to her in what I thought was her first language.

Autumn's Activity Level
This has not decreased. She still has to be strapped down to go into any size store. She is never ever...ever...ever content holding my hand and letting me lead her.  When we don't go her direction, she collapses to the floor and I have to drag her or pick her up. Lately she's been casually letting go of holding my hand and folding her arms, as if to say, Thanks, but this is more comfortable for me.'re three!

Around the four month mark I started feeling like I should begin seeing signs of obedience. Well that mark came and went. In the mall the other day, she took off running and I said, “Autumn, come back here. Autumn! Lie. (Come, in Chinese). Lie! LIIIIIE!!!!! She finally stopped. So yeah, that's encouraging. At least she obeys when I scream.

Then the other day I was working in the garden and turned around to find her playing in the compost bin. Nothing like playing in a barrel of rotting food. She really does get into everything.

Her grandpa took her fishing recently and she was leaning in too far and fell in the water.

Before she fell in the water.
After she fell in the water.

Her cleft lip/palate
We took her to see our oral surgeon and he said that she doesn't need any work other than speech therapy for a few years.

Potty training
That's a pretty lofty choice of words considering it simply means she's wearing Pull-ups. Am I supposed to physically put her on the potty? I mean, I could be playing SongPop or watching Project Runway or clipping my toenails. So, I just tell her to let me know when she needs to go. She hasn't yet. But at least she stopped the Pull-up fling in the middle of the night.

My mom was staying with us for a few weeks while she recovered from emergency gallbladder surgery. I was able to do a little organizing and found a training potty tucked away that I had forgotten about. I showed it to Autumn and thought I would up the potty-training a notch by offering it to her to try out. I set it in the middle of the foyer at the foot of the stairs. (And no, I don't know why I didn't put it in the bathroom – hindsight is always 20/20.)

She was excited and sat on it and after a few minutes peed! I helped her pull up her Pull-up then tugged on the basket containing the pee to get it out of the potty. Of course when I tugged it, it jerked out and the pee went splashing across the floor. I ran to get a cleaning wipe in the kitchen, only to find that the container was empty.  So I ran up the stairs to get some from the bathroom.  When I came down the stairs I was so focused on Autumn that I stepped right in the pee!  I looked up at my mom and said, "I stepped in it," as if to say, what do I do now, Mommy?  She started laughing and then I started laughing, which made her laugh more which wasn't good because she had just had surgery and it really hurt when she laughed, and trying not to laugh always makes me laugh more, which is what I did. She had to leave the room.

I should probably be a little more aggressive with the potty-training because one day last week I found poop on the carpet, the couch, the wall (in three places), the furry Elmo chair, Sheehan's favorite stuffed animal (and it wasn't his poop), streaked across the counter of the bathroom sink, and on the remote control. Once that was cleaned up, Josiah announced he had a bloody nose which dripped across the same bathroom sink, floor, and couch I had just cleaned.

Is anybody else out there a slacker potty-trainer like me?  Someone please say yes.  Because really, I think I'm the only one.  Did I miss a class on this or something? You'd think that with all my frugality that I would be more on top of this. But gosh, it's just so much work.

How the rest of us are doing.
Do you ever make a grilled cheese sandwich and forget the cheese? No?, me neither.  Last Monday the boys were to begin an all-day summer camp. I packed their swimsuits, towels, and lunches, applied sunscreen, lectured them on obedience to their counselor, and drove them to camp. When we got there it looked like the Wally World parking lot - empty. We were a week early.

I didn't cry...outwardly. But, I did take them home and yell at them to go in the backyard so I could have a temper tantrum in private. I threw my tantrum then apologized for yelling. I had a scheduled doctor appointment for Autumn that morning, so I had to drag the boys along at the last minute. They sat in the waiting room playing with toys while I took Autumn in to be examined. The first time I looked out they were playing nicely. But the second time, Josiah was laying on the floor across the doorway from the waiting room to the exam rooms like he was laying on pillows waiting for someone to put grapes in his mouth. When he saw me he said, “I'm soooo bored. When are we going? Can I have something to eat?”

And therefore, I find myself staying home a lot. Mostly to avoid public humiliation. So I came up with a list of a few benefits of being a hermit:
  1. Nobody ever sees how really out of control your kids are.
  2. You can catch up on all those episodes you missed of Project Runway.
  3. Vitamin D gummies taste like candy.
  4. You never get sunburned. Besides, the sunken eye look is in this season.  Like, sunken eye is the new black.
  5. It's easier to focus on your narcissism. Nothing helps you think more about yourself than being alone.
  6. You don't have to have a heated argument with that other mom at the McDonald's Playplace about whose kid is the bigger bully, especially when you get home and find out that it was indeed your kid that pulled the first punch.

I've had a twitch in my right eye for the past three weeks. Lack of sleep? (blasted Olympics!) or maybe stress? So if I'm shockingly out of my house and you see me, I promise I'm not winking. It's either from the lack of sunlight from my hibernation or it's my eye twitch.

I no longer where earrings. Somebody stole all of them. And the culprit wasn't Steve, Sheehan, or Josiah.

Josiah and Autumn are getting along very well. Josiah tackles her and she screams. Then she takes off with his toys, laughing, and he screams. The other night Josiah was dressing Autumn up in her dress-up clothes and was bringing her downstairs and presenting her to us as the Queen. A few minutes later he came down wearing Autumn's ducky one-piece bathing suit. Uh...

Sheehan is still the Hall House police officer even when mom and dad are present. He reminds us of the rules, about every six nanoseconds, that she is breaking or he thinks we are letting her break.

Steve has found a new level of work/life balance since time at both places are equally stressful and exhausting. He's stopped trying to find peace and solace at either location and is simply cherishing his 25 minute commute with his Ipod. Which is why he wants to move to Galena (three hours away).

So overall, things are getting easier...but my expectations are getting higher, so really we're in the same boat as two months ago.


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