Saturday, February 27, 2010
-Kenson cheering for the Olympic skiiers by yelling, "Go Huskers!"
-My husband always telling the kids to tell me thanks whenever they get something from me like a meal or a Kleenex. It's such a small thing but it always makes me feel like he wants them to appreciate me.
-It's finally starting to feel less like chaos and more like controlled chaos.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Kenson loudly passed gas today and muttered something about pooping in his pants. He then said, "Wait a minute! Let me check!" and started pulling down his pants and doing something funky with his hand and bottom. I quickly said something about if you have to check, you need to go the bathroom and try going poop, that we don't put our hands in our bottom to check for poop. To which he replied the ever famous three year old mantra, "WHY?"
Parenting adopted kids can sometimes be different but I think in some ways, people forget that when you parent from a Biblical worldview, the base for ALL parenting comes from the same place. Parenting must stem from the belief that all Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, correcting, and training in righteousness. Adopted kid or not.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Conleigh is really doing well. Whenever she is scared or overwhelmed she immediately retreats to D and really pulls back into herself, like a turtle pulling back into its shell. We met my folks and brother in G.I. Friday for supper and she wouldn't let D put her in the high chair or let me feed her so he had to hold her the entire time and feed her. She of course wouldn't look at anyone other than D. But as soon as we left Perkins, she was chattering away and happy as a clam. She has gotten much better about coming to me and, when we are at home, really isn't showing much of a preference between D and I.
Kenson is struggling. He is a crying mess. A lot. I really think he is missing our normal routine and the one on one time that he usually spent with me. He also has been chewing on his fingers and saying his teeth hurt so perhaps he has some molars coming in and that is complicating things. He cries about every other hour while he's awake. It's usually about a toy...but it's never really about a toy...if that makes any sense. Usually the tears are short lived but they are often. Way more than normal. God has really convicted me to pray for his heart about this, not to just pray for his mood to improve but to seek out the inner confusion in his heart and pray specifically for whatever that inner confusion is. (If I have time, I'll share more on this later.)
D and I are finding that we are tired. A lot. We're still sleeping in Conleigh's room but are hoping to move ourselves down the hall to our room this weekend. She has woken up in the middle of the night the last few nights so someone has had to get up with her but she goes right back to sleep. Kenson has been awake around 6 or 6:30 most mornings but with two of us home, one of us can take the kids who usually both wake up once Kenson comes in while the other one sleeps in a bit. But we're still tired. D has a lot on his plate as he has report cards due in a few weeks plus soccer starting. Next week has a lot of late nights for him due to meetings, etc.. He's feeling stressed by that. Plus noise stresses him a bit and, well, our house isn't exactly quiet. (I know, he's an elementary teacher. How can noise bother him? Three year old noise is different than elementary noise, that's the deal.) I think really he is just ready to be back to work. Spending all day, every day with two three year olds, one of whom is crying a lot is wearing on him. He has next week off and then he'll be back on schedule.
I am also finding that I am crabby. A lot. I have been very guilty of impatience and harsh words. Not so much yelling or even mean words, just words that were spoken with a tone of impatience and were not gentle. So the last few days I have really been praying about my tone, that it would reflect the long suffering ways of the Lord and not the impatience and selfishness of men. Having one three year old who tantrums and tears up about every little thing wears on me. Having another one who is not sure of what boundaries exist and is learning that "no" really means "no" wears on me. Working on establishing a routine wears on me. Having to work on getting on the same page as my husband in regards to our new life wears on me. (We're almost always on the same page so when we're not, it really bugs me.) It just leaves me short tempered. So I'll keep praying.
So that's the truth about where we are adjustment wise. Really in a lot of ways, it's where we expected to be. In many ways, God has been giving me some very good thoughts on prayer which seem to be so timely. When you are in times of adjustment, there is a temptation to focus on what YOU can do to change things. And in times of adjustment, it's really important to remember that we have very little power to actually change hearts both those of our children and spouses. We also can't just assume that we can will our own hearts to change and be "better" or to make ourselves deal with the changes in our lives in a certain way. God has been reminding me of my need for His presence in my life, that He is the catalyst for change including the change that happens in our hearts when the rest of our lives are in the middle of transition.
You really have to become good at reading labels. I completely avoid the mineral oil/petroleum products. Paraben is also a petroleum derivitive. It's kind of an iffy product. It's in several gels I use on Kenson's locs. But I am cautious of things with parabens. Also anything with cone at the end means it has an artificial "shiner" in the product. Again kind of iffy. Some say they are okay, some say not. The cone is supposed to make the hair look shinier. I will buy a product with a cone but prefer not to. Something else you want to look for is alcohol. Here's a link to an article on alchols. Not all alcohols are drying so you kind of want to learn the difference.
In general, you should be getting some type of conditioning/deep conditioning in the shower/bath. (Maybe every 3-4 days, maybe less.) Then add some additional moisture to the hair (this could be a hair milk, a leave in conditoner, aloe vera gel, etc.) Then add a sealer (coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, etc.) Every day that you don't do the conditioning in the bathtub, wet the hair and repeat adding moisture/sealer. At night, you can do a quick spritz with a leave in conditioner/moisturizer. (I spritz Conleigh's hair very lightly with Taliah Wajiid mist before bed. Not enough to get it completely wet, just enough to kind of "coat" her hair.) You might also try a hot oil treatment in the bathtub which might help you get some extra moisture back into the hair. (Just like you do a hot oil treatment on white hair, but you can just use some warm olive oil.)
Conleigh's hair felt terrible for several days after I took her braids out. It's finally getting better. (And not sticking straight out at odd angles.) So keep working on it; you'll get it.
You might also read through this post; I think I finally figured out the "why" behind what product to put on when.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
You fail in an attempt to defrost a ham by leaving it on the counter.
You now know for certain which electrical outlets are on the same circuit breakers because you've blown many breakers trying to plug in space heaters.
You think an interior room temperature of 60 sounds positively balmy.
You're runnning out of clean sweatshirts.
All of your family is sleeping in the same bedroom so they can share the heat.
You are actually caught up on laundry because you've been running your washing machine trying to keep it from freezing.
You pray for your furnace repair man and his ability to fix things.
Your three year old complains that his feet hurt once the heat comes back on.
Seriously...praise the Lord for heat. After 6 days without, I count it as a blessing to have heat. I can't imagine living on the streets or in your car in the cold Midwestern winters. Don't know how people to it. (And sorry that they have to.)
Monday, February 15, 2010
We are in need of a host family in or near WEST VIRGINIA.You will need to commit and complete paperwork right away so we can have you approved. The child who is coming will need you to be at the hospital staying with them while they are in patient and then to bring them home for care afterward. The child is a three year old and is NOT available for adoption as he has a family and will return to his family when he is healthy enough to do so. Please email ASAP with your interest to:Sarah: email@example.comKim: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The Haitian earthquake is an event that brings out these kind of thoughts in lots of people. People want to know how God could put millions of people in danger and why families were broken apart by death. People say blame voodoo as a reason for Haiti's suffering. People say how this earthquake was such a blessing because it united adoptive families. In short, people want to know what on earth is up with God. If He's really all powerful, why didn't He just stop the earth from shaking? If He's really all loving, how can He allow children to suffer from lack of food and medical care? If He's really just, why did all but 3 prisoners escape from the national jail while hundreds of thousands of normal citizens died? I really don't know any of these answers. And it's very hard to watch what will happen next, because I know that this tragedy has just begun. Once the rains come, life in Haiti will be very miserable. I can't even imagine.
I also can't imagine being someone who calls Haiti home. I care about Haiti deeply but I don't live there and am not involved in a daily basis with ministry there. Those who live there are struggling with how to reconcile what they've seen with their faith. The Livesay family recently posted about their own emotions. They also posted a response that they received, a response from a fellow worker in Haiti, Corrigan Clay. His response was beautiful. It truly sums up what I believe about my own inability to figure all of life out.
God had a mixture of actions & responses to a whole bunch of things with great complexity. A near infinite number of things happened on Jan 12, not just one earthquake with the same impact on everybody. Lots of peoples' stories came to very different transition points, plot twists and turns, and sometimes, tragic conclusions. There were things that happened that were just, there were things that were unjust, there were supernatural forces and natural ones, there were things that God wanted to happen and things that were not His desire, but part of an unfinished spiritual war. There was grief and redemption all in a swirl, because this is not yet the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. There were plates shifting and prayers answered and there was evil. The only reason we look for ONE particular answer for it all is that it was ONE shared experience. But our stories aren't truly all the same... they just intersected. So finding ONE reason or one reason NOT to talk about reasons is just not whole enough of a response. God acted, resisted, allowed, rejoiced, grieved, and withheld in response to a million different things on Jan 12, like He does everyday, only I imagine this day he grieved much more. (Corrigan Clay)
It left me amazed at the diversity of my God. How He must experience so many emotions in each second. How I am only capable of placing the events of life on a continuum based on time and place (usually within the context of how a moment in time affected me) but how God must be able to transcend that and, much like a 3D movie, see things with extra dimensions. How God is orchestrating this massive thing called life every day, where He carefully balances evil and justice, love and fear, sin and conquences, free will and spiritual life or spiritual death. What an amazing absolutely mind boggling, so-scary-I-need-to-be-protected-from-it scene.
I'll also share the titles of some books I've read these past few years, books that I picked because I thought they would give me some comfort or insight as I've thought about my faith and prayer.
Disappointment with God by Phillip Yancy
The Shack by William Young
For the Tough Time by Max Lucado
The Praying Life by Paul Miller
I have to say I appreciated all of them. Even The Shack which I usually do not care for Christian fiction. And I wasn't all that excited about it while reading it. It was a book that rolled around in my head for months after I read it, and eventually I came to see how much it challenged my thoughts about who God is, what His character really might be like if He took on human forms, and how He relates to us. So if you start it and find it a bit out there for you, I encourage you to keep reading; it might grow on you.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Conleigh has made huge strides in allowing her Mama to nurture her. She still loves D and often prefers him but she doesn't throw a fit every single time she can't be with him. We got groceries today and used two carts. I started to push the one with her in it, she fussed and pointed at D, we said no, and she was fine and didn't ask again. She has started giving kisses occasionally to both of us. And a few nights ago she was falling asleep next to D and rubbing his hand and head. Very sweet.
We're doing diapers again even though she probably was potty trained. It eliminates worrying about potty accidents and makes life less stressful for us and her. She is only 6 months older than Kenson was when he came home but she is much more independent. We allow her to feed herself but sneak in a couple of "let us help you moments" with each meal. She will take a sippy cup like a bottle, sort of. So we try sneaking in some cuddle time like that too. She is doing good with eye contact, unless she's mad. We're a very touchy feely family so all the tickling games, kissing games, peek-a-boo games, etc. we normally do are all part of the attachment process.
Due to our furnace issues, we've all been sleeping in Conleigh's room. Our original plan was for D and I to sleep on a mattress on the floor and Conleigh in her bed next to us. But now that Kenson is sleeping in there, he's sleeping in her bed and she's sleeping on the mattress with us. The last couple of nights, we have left the two of them in the room alone together and let them fall asleep. She's done okay with that. D said last night he heard Kenson saying, "No, no, no! Get back in bed! Mama and Papa are not going to like that!" When he went in, she was halfway to the door. He just put her back in bed and checked in a few minutes and she was just about out so no real problems. I'm hoping we are able to easily move her back to her bed and us into our bedroom. We tried putting Kenson on the mattress with us and her in her bed last night but it was an uncomfortable night for those of us on the mattress. Kenson is so much bigger and he whined most of the night about being squished. (Nevermind that he had the middle section and D and I were the ones hanging onto the edges.)
She's also getting better about being disciplined. It's hard to discipline kids who are newly home. And it's hard when they are 2 or 3 and don't quite have a brain that's developed the ability to reason. But she is starting to realize that no means no and that tantruming won't change it. She's also realizing that disobedience means a trip to the stairs or sitting in a chair or sitting with Mama or Papa. Asking her when she's disobeying if she wants to sit on the stairs usually results in a "no" and the behavior stopping. She's so much more of a "normal" two/three year old than Kenson ever was. He is just such a compliant laid back child; he rarely got into stuff he wasn't supposed to and rarely continued disobedience if he was told no.
Having two three year olds is a bit of a challenge. And with our furnace issues, we've spent our fair share of time in the living room where the space heaters are. My patience has not been what it should be. Two three year olds, whiney or tantruming children, no heat, probably some extra woman hormones...I've been a bit crabby and short tempered. He is really trying to work out how all of this works and has been full of tears often. He gets frustrated that she wants to play with ALL of his stuff. He gets frustrated that he can't just take what he wants when she has it. (Our verse this week is "love does not envy" and we've been talking about how love doesn't want what someone else has. He totally looks at me everytime we talk about it like I've got horns coming out of my head. I might as well be telling him that his pants are made out of bubble gum; it is just mind boggling to him.) He worries that what Conleigh is doing is better than what he is doing so he copies her. He has to be involved in every thing that is going on because he is scared he will miss something. He just has to work through how to be a brother. It's a lot different than just being a friend. Friends go home.
He did spend a week with my mom and dad while we were figuring out how and when to pick up Conleigh. And he did marvelous! A little teary on the first night when my mom tucked him but no anxiety after that. And when he talked about it after we were all back togther at home, he said something about how he knew he'd get to come back to our house after he stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's. Having Conleigh home has really given me a chance to contrast a working on attachment child with a pretty secure in my attachment child. He is of course not perfect and there will be moments all throughout his life where he will wonder about his adoption roots but in general, he really is getting how he is in our family forever.
Let me also add that we have had multiple requests from multiple people who have offered to let us stay at their house until we have heat again. If I didn't have two three years it would make picking up and spending a few days somewhere else easier. But most of all if I didn't have a three year old who just became part of our family, it would make the decision to stay somewhere else much easier as well. So don't think we're too proud to take some help; it's just Conleigh really needs to be home, in a routine with just us.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Now that Conleigh is home, I am having to pay closer attention to the hair. Not that I didn't pay attention to Kenson's hair but when it's shorter, it's easier to just slap some product on it and hope it works. And in locs, it's kind of the same thing. I don't mean that I just put any old product on it. I will not use mineral oil or petroleum and try to avoid any derivatives like paraben. I also try to avoid alcohol. But it doesn't mean I won't try something if it's not 100% natural. And cost is a consideration for me. We live on one income...and a teacher's salary at that. Anyway, that said, I have been really trying to figure out if I have the right products to do Conleigh's hair. With Kenson, we wash with conditioner maybe twice a week. And I use a shea butter moisturizer almost daily on his hair, usually right after he takes a bath. I also use a gel occasionally on his locs, if I'm retwisting. But that's really it.
Anyway, now that I've spent the better part of 2 hours researching products for Conleigh's hair, a light bulb went off in my head. There are so many products to choose from. And they all have different names. It gets really confusing, really quickly as to what the product is supposed to do and how you should use it. They often give directions but the directions really don't help you establish a hair care routine. Even others who are experienced in hair care don't really help because they rarely explain the "why" of their routine. I am a why girl. I like to understand why you do things. And tonight I found out some whys on hair. For the first time I think I've narrowed down my children's hair care to three essential steps. Deep condition, moisturize and seal in the moisture. That's it. Deep condition: as in washing with just conditioner, using a deep conditioner, doing a hot oil treatment. Moisturize: as in something that adds moisture to the hair, simplest version is plain old water, but could include a leave in conditioner that is water based, could also include aloe vera gel or glycerin. Seal the moisture: this is where oils and butters come in, should follow the moisture so they should be applied to wet/damp hair. Aha! I often have put oil or butters on dry hair. But it would be better to do on wet hair. So for me that means cowash with Aubrey Organics conditioner, moisturize with water or Taliah Wajiid Protective Bodifying Mist, and seal with Curls by Sisters Smith Butter Me Up. Then after those steps you can use a styling product to hold a style if necessary. And you can use a cleanser if needed too. But those are the extras.
I think I was looking at it a bit backwards. Like let me find the styling product to hold a style and I'll worry about the other things later. I do that with my own hair all the time...get sucked in by some grand styling product but don't really think about the basic three steps. I think I'm a little too excited by my new found knowledge...just hope I can sleep! (Just kidding.)
And not success...still no heat and won't have any until Monday. The furance guy had someone call in sick today so he ended up behind today even though he had thought that he would get it up and running today. I'm trying to not be crabby about it but we haven't had any heat since Tuesday afternoon. My patience is running a bit thin. I would really just like some normalcy. Earthquake drama for weeks on end, homecoming drama, and now no heat for amost a week. Yuck. I am trying to remind myself that many others are outside every night with only cardboard or a few old coats but it's not helping. (I think it's the perpetual cold feet that are doing me in!)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Things that have stayed the same:
Kenson greets everyday with a smile. He always has. The nannies would always tell us "Big baby. Happy baby." when we visited. His first reaction is almost always a smile. A wonderful big toothy one that just lights up his face. What a blessing to have a little boy who is filled by our God with joy.
Kenson delights in doing the right thing. I don't just say this because it makes him easier to parent. I say this because I can see the potential for a child who loves righteousness, who delights in a heart that is right with the Lord. It is my earnest prayer for him that he loves God's laws and that our family rules pave the way for this.
Things that have changed:
I have literally not been able to keep this kid in clothes. When he came home, he could wear 24 month clothes. A year later, he has passed through 2T, 3T, and some 4T things. He went from wearing a size 7 shoe to wearing a 10 or a 10 1/2. He has such long legs and arms.
He is so much more sure of himself. When he first came home, he was so reluctant to try new things. The playground was a major fear. It took months before he would do any of it on his own. Even walking was tricky. Uneven sidewalks would cause him to fall constantly. His first walk was 4 blocks to the post office and he fell multiple times. Stairs were scary. The bathtub was scary. Dogs and cats were scary. Stuffed animals were scary. It was all scary. He still is very reserved and more of a follower when it comes to new things but he has grown so much in this. The last few weeks in a room of 20 or so preschoolers at library story time, he has literally shouted for the librarian to listen to him. (Normal for most 3 year olds, not normal for him.)
His language is just crazy. He came home only speaking Creole. He now talks better than some of the preschoolers I've taught as a sub. He can count to 5 pretty consistely and could probably get to 10 if he could remember the number 6. He knows all of his body parts. He can name multiple types of machines, animals, and articles of clothing. He talks in 6 or 7 word sentences and is very conversational. Colors are still a stretch but it's coming. It is so much fun to listen to him, especially when it's 3 year old logic.
I am just so proud of him. He has had so much to process in the last year and his resilence shines through. He really is a delight who just makes me smile. Praise God He matched us to him.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
-Rough start (The kids got in at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and weren't released from customs until 2 a.m.. Conleigh's orphanage director was not allowed to stay with the kids overnight so when she woke up on Wednesday morning, she was surrounded by strangers. The strangers then transported her to the facility with parents and released her to us in the first group of parents shortly after nine. She was scared to death and didn't want to go to us so we asked for them to find our orphanage director. They found a different orphanage director and passed her off to that person whom she didn't know. She finally went with us and was very unhappy, pointing at the doorway looking for the director and her friends who came from HCH with her. Imagine how scary it must be to not see a single familar face for hours on end at the age of three. She finally did get to see the right director and we sat with her for quite a while, trying to ease the transition. Back to the hotel, more pointing at the door looking for others, and then finally sleep.
-Okay on Thursday all things considered as we traveled home via two flights and a two hour drive. Then we tried a bath on Friday which did not go well. After that, she abandoned me and wanted nothing to do with me.
-Kenson and my folks came Friday afternoon. She really was excited to play with Kenson. Still unhappy with me and preferring D. Avoiding my eyes, screaming and pulling away if I touched her, not letting me even give her sweets or drinks, etc.. Fun times for a Mama who is just thinking "I should be nurturing and comforting and you won't let me."
-Folks left on Saturday and all of a sudden, we enter into the realm of emotional whiplash. Conleigh is 180 differently. Still preferring D but allowing me to be near her, smiling, giggling, making eye contact, telling me to "come", etc.. Played all afternoon with Kenson including a wonderful beauty shop episode that had D, Kenson, and Conleigh using wooden spoons to comb doll hair.
-Kenson is only 6 months older than Conleigh but is at least 6 inches taller. D said today he looks like he's five and she looks like she's two.
-Given the size difference, we both had to chuckle when Kenson tried to ride Conleigh like a horse.
-And the top foods consumed by this new little American? Angel food cake, candy, ice, and broccoli with cheese. Hmmm...
Friday, February 5, 2010
Yesterday we flew home from Florida. Conleigh really wanted nothing to do with D most of the time. She flew really good for the most part. She was still very sucked into herself, very withdrawn and sad. She finally started perking up about halfway through the car ride home from Omaha. For some reason, she started singing "Happy Birthday to Papa!" and trying to feed him birthday cake. Over and over. She thought she was hilarous!
This morning was okay until I got in the bath with her. Then she was mad. And stayed mad at me most of the day and wanted nothing to do with me and only wanted D. Until the afternoon where she played in the play kitchen with me for a bit. And then my folks showed up with Kenson. And things changed so she was back to being mad at me and only wanting D. She had a major screaming tantrum twice, the last one resulting in me taking her upstairs and basically blocking the bedroom door and telling her she couldn't scream or we'd just stay upstairs. All of that was because D wouldn't let her sit with him anymore because she'd been glued to him for hours on end. She just wouldn't go to me at all. Anyway, after supper she perked up again and was excited to play in the play kitchen with Kenson. At bedtime, she kept pointing at Kenson's bedroom door and saying , "More." But after 2 minutes of light out and laying with Papa, she was out like a light.
Kenson is thrilled. He has worked very hard to share and take turns with her. He keeps calling her "baby Conleigh" and saying "talk to me". She of course does not.
We are really glad to see Kenson. He went to Grandma and Grandpa's last Friday and it's been a long time since we've seen him. I forgot how funny he really is. And how joyful his presence makes me.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Believing my God is too big for coincidences.