Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Midsummer Night's Blog

So...I guess I should blog?
Here's the deal.  You probably assume that the reason I haven't blogged is that I'm just too crazy exhausted to find the time, and you are right.  By the time we go through the 90 minutes of getting the kids to bed, all I want to do is go to bed myself.  But there is another reason.  I'm not exactly sure what to say.  I KNOW!  Quite unusual for the lilly de brazen.
See, in my mind, there are categories for people who have some kind of online presence--either with blogs of facebook or what-have-you.  Especially mommy type people.  It's either all about how much they adore their beautiful children, pictures of the special crafts they did together, pictures of the special decorating projects the mommy did while the children were playing peacefully and working on their long division, more emphatic exclamations of adoration and softly filtered instagram pictures of said children and a fantastic self-photo of themselves with full hair and make-up, right before their child obviously pooped rainbows.    OR, the other end of the pendulum is a constant rant about how frustrated they are, how naughty their kids are, how exhausting this role is, and it almost becomes a one-upmanship of mommy martyrdom.  As soon as one mom opts to vent a little about a rough morning or a near-comical naughty behavior, someone else says "Oh yeah, well MY kid ____________!"
OK, obviously I'm using a bit of hyperbole here, and venting a little myself.  (And may I just say, MANY of my friends don't fall into either of those categories.) But I'm very aware of it all and find myself trying to walk a balance between being REAL about my life and my "job" and my kids, but also not using this space to post a litany of ways that they frustrate me.  It's a little narcissistic, really, worrying about what you think of my post.  Either you read it, or you don't!  Get over yourself, Jen.  However, especially now that we have a newly adopted child, I want to be conscious of the fact that my words are permanent, and they will someday read this, and I don't want them to look back and read mommy's weekly complaint column.

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?  :)

I guess that's my LONG way of saying that although I am tempted to give you many paragraphs of vivid description of how and why I'm feeling pretty frazzled these days, I'm going to be a little more vague in respect for my kids.  But I haven't been sure how to do that, which is why the delay in posting.  But I'm going to give it a try.  I'll still be honest, but I'm also going to purposely highlight some positives.

I think Asher is doing really well with his adjustment to our family.  He is bonding with all of us, myself most of all.  I LOVE that when he wakes up from his nap, he now falls into me and snuggles on my shoulder for a bit.  He's also come to me several times with a book and motioned for me to sit with him and read the book, which is HUGE.  Or just comes over to be held. He does very well in new situations and is absolutely charming and friendly to everyone we spend time with.   But I don't think he's ready for us to leave him with childcare or a sitter yet, which is good.  We have left him with each grandma for about 1 hour each, here at our house, with both the big sibs home, and he did great!  AND he seemed excited when I came home, which is a good thing.  :)

I'm slightly embarrassed to say that it took us almost 3 weeks to get our act together and print out the "three picture story,"  have it copied and laminated.  The 3 picture story is a technique suggested by some professionals and used by many of my adoptive parent friends.  From the get-go, you print out a picture of your child with his foster family (or mother), one of the day we were all together, then one of him with his new family.  Then you frequently show him the pictures and describe in simple words what happened--the "Big Change" was when you came to live with us. No secrets, no mystery, just simple explanation.  I felt some major guilt about the fact that it took us so long.  BUT, for this particular child, it might not have been such a bad thing.  By the time we looked at it together, the sight of his foster mother did not upset him.  (Big steps from the day he saw a gift from his foster grandma and fell apart with grief.)   He did (and does) look at it quite a bit, we have 2 copies laying around the house, and we encourage him to give a kiss to the picture of his foster mom, which he's done several times.  But the people he is most interested in pointing out are Carson and Sydney.  :)

Someone asked if I still have the "babysitting" feeling.  The good news is: I really don't!  He definitely feels like my son.  I dole out kisses and hugs unconsciously now.  However, MY son has some very challenging behaviors that we struggle with daily.  To be fair, MY THREE CHILDREN have some very challenging behaviors that I'm struggling with daily.  They are just kind of all needing and wanting me in different ways, but at the same time.  Well, just really feels like all day long.  Asher gets very jealous if I'm physically affectionate with either of the other kids.  He gets upset and angry quickly, and spends much of the day in time-in or time-out for acting on that anger.  (Time in: both of us sitting on the floor in the corner of the kitchen. Time out: him sitting alone, but I am still in the room.) Sydney spends much of the day laying on the floor crying over something or other, paralyzed to move or make a decision.  Carson spends much of the day telling me how bored he is and creating conflict as sport. "EVERYONE in this family has a garbage can in their room but ME!  It's NOT FAIR!"   ????  
I'm trying to work with the bigger kids to learn to "read the room" so to speak.  They have no concept of when it might be appropriate to wait for my attention.  I'll be wrestling an angry, screaming toddler on the floor for time-in, and Carson will walk up and put the iPod in my face and say "Mom, will you please type in the password so I can download this free game?"  Or when I'm on hour 2 of trying to get Asher to sleep for his nap, and he's a-l-m-o-s-t there, Sydney will bang the door open, walk in the room and in a stage whisper from 12 feet away say "MOM!  CAN I HAVE A SNACK?"  Cue: awake, alert, crying toddler.


OK, so I did get into some specifics.  But I'm determined to not have this be a total downer blog post.  Let me focus on some positives.
My little boy is adorbs!  He loves to say "shoes" and since he and Sydney wear the same size shoe (!), he tries hers on all the time.  This particular morning, he was sporting the CLASSIC look of cowboy boots and diaper.

 Of course I can't take Asher's picture without Sydney wanting to pose! 

Not to be outdone, the naked cowboy comes in for a close up.

THIS (below) is the picture that captures a thousand words about these two.  I keep waiting for the newness to wear off for Sydney, but although she gets irritated and tattles on her little brother now, she still CAN'T. KEEP. HER. HANDS. OFF!  She just wants to hug, pat, squeeze and kiss him constantly.  He is not into it, even though he does seem to love her.  I probably say 25 times a day: "Sydney!  Hands off!"  "Hands to yourself!"  I've stopped disciplining him for pinching her face and just told her she needs to keep her face out of his reach!  Carson and Sydney still fight over who gets to sit by Asher at the table and who gets to unbuckle his booster seat.  How long, I wonder?!

I was brave [read: stupid] and let the kids do some painting yesterday.  This was when we were all still on speaking terms.  Asher did have fun and we will do it again, but there will be some ground rules and more washable paint and a hose at the ready.  I'm sorry I didn't get any pics of C and S.

Several people have asked about his language acquisition, and I can tell it is coming, but we still have a long way to go. Just in the past week he has improved greatly in mimicking the words we say.  I'm sure the barrier must be very frustrating for him! The cool news is that he picks up signs really quickly.  His sign language vocab is bigger than his verbal English vocab.  Our "signs" are not necessarily ASL approved, just whatever our family agrees on.  :)

He can sign: eat, water, please, more, down, sad, hurt, sorry, hot, cold, all-done, no-no.  To be honest, that list right there can get you through a lot of conversations with a 22 month old.  :)  I'm looking forward to when he can understand me a bit more, when I have to explain things that are frustrating to him, like why he can't have the raw chicken I'm cutting on the counter, or that I love him and his siblings equally and right now your big sister has a bee sting, so that's why I'm holding her and not you. 

But overall, I think Asher is doing very well.  He's mostly a happy, BUSY, curious toddler who seems pretty content in his new home.  He adores his big siblings and can play a copycat game with them all day long.  We've been trying to get out often and go to parks, and I'm grateful that he is a tad bit reserved on some of these play structures.  :)  Water play is always a big hit for him, so that is our go-to after nap activity.  He has 2 speeds: 90 mph and asleep.  He is a pinball and the world is his machine.  There is no end of things that amuse and entice him--the number one being overhead planes.  He squeals with delight and makes airplane noises and motions with his arms whenever we hear one. 

Despite any frustrations about this transition, I have a complete peace about our son and about our decision to adopt him.  I have a deep sense of completion--THIS is what we waited for!  YES.  WORTH IT.  I love thinking about our future together with him, about him growing up in this house.  I love that someone saw us from across a parking lot last week and said they knew it was us, b/c who else in town has a blond boy, a red-head girl and a little Asian toddler?  :)  I love seeing him open his heart to us more and more each day, and feeling mine open more as well. 

And if I had done my hair or make-up at all in the last month, I would have taken a self-photo with me and my three angels and posted it.  Right HERE.  Because they are adorable.  And I love them fiercely.  But I'll tell you right now: their poop?  NOT made of rainbows.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here we go, campers!

No, I have not given up blogging.  My current life situation does not lend itself to blogging time or the mental capacity to formulate thoughts.  Or the luxury of going to the bathroom without an audience.  So this will not be a state of the family update about all things Asher and adoption and attachment.  But it will have lots of cute pictures!
We went on our annual 4th of July campout with my side of the family a couple weeks ago.  We had amazing weather up on the mountain and Asher had a great time!  First camping trip: success. I was so pleased that he did so well and didn't seem bothered at all by being away from home.  in fact, he loved it.  And by "it" I mean the dirt.  If I had to name this weekend, I would name it "Embrace the filth."  It was also nice to have so many other adults around to keep some extra eyes out for this boy who is quick and stealth in his ability to escape or get into trouble.  Super handy when there's a fire around several hours of the day.  He slept in a pack & play in our (new, bigger) tent and (with the help of a sleep aid) he slept like a champ!  So, in lieu of a proper update, please accept these pictures as my offering of compromise:
Uncle Mike has a special camping guitar that was all the rage.

Asher was very curious about the music.

But even more curious about the CAMPFIRE!

He was really focused on that fire the first night.  It was the longest he sat still for the entire 3 days.

The tummy bug that Syd had on the fourth of July stayed through until the campout.  :(

Our new wagon was a HIT!  It got tons of use this weekend.  As you can see, Asher likes being pulled fast.  I mean, kind of likes it.  Just a little.
 Another first: s'mores.
 He approves.
 Cousin Jack and Carson eating blueberry pancakes.
 We brought some games to play for entertainment this year.  They were kind of in the genre of "minute to win it" if you've seen that show.  This game involved putting Vaseline on your nose and moving the cotton ball from the plate to...off of the plate.
 This is my nephew Jack again, and ever since he was born, his eyelashes have been long and lush and melt my heart.  :)
 This is a game where you move paper bags using only your teeth!
 In this game, the three biggest boys wore shower caps covered in shaving cream.
 Then we threw cheeze puffs at their heads!

 Looking good, boys.

This is a great concentration shot.
 They are shooting water guns at ping pong balls set on golf tees.
 This picture makes me laugh so hard, b/c Abby stopped trying to play the game and just entertained herself by shooting at Sydney.  :)
 Go Wyatt!

It was a beautiful day on Frog Lake!  And fortunately the lake is only about 2.5 feet deep for at least 50 yards out!  Makes for an easy rafting trip for the dads and the kids. 
 I LOVE this pic of these girls!  Abby and Sydney.  They are both 4 years old.
 For some reason, Kaitlyn's desire to float and keep floating was just cracking me up!  She was content to float around and have us push her and spin her around.  Ha!  So cute.
 This is classic, confident Carson.  Love it!  6 years, 9 months old.  Skinny as the day is long.  I swear I feed him.
 More best buds!

Believe it or not, all of these pics were from the first 24 hours of the trip.  This next pic is the last one I took before my camera died.  It is a great shot of our little man to represent a great weekend.  So glad that this memory will be a good one for all of us!  And also?  I'm 99% sure Asher is pooping in this picture.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The 4th

We are very rarely home for the 4th of July, b/c we have an annual camping trip, but this year the actual holiday fell in the middle of the week, and the camping trip wasn't until the weekend.  I have lots of fun pictures of camping to come (maybe even later today, as my MIL and SIL have the big kids at the Z double O), but some great shots from the 4th itself.  As you can tell, since we don't do this often, I didn't even think to dress people in patriotic colors.  Any red, white or blue is a coincidence.  We went south to a wonderful, candy-throwing parade in Trent's grandmother's hometown, and then had a delightful picnic with GG (great-grandmother) and Charlie.  It was such a gorgeous day and we had a great time!
When candy is being thrown, Carson does not mess around.  Don't let his casual stance fool you.  This is pre-pounce.  He was lightning quick.
 Asher was TERRIFIED of the first loud vehicle to pass (it was actually some strange steam engine thingy), and I had to walk far away with him while he shook and cried.  It was SO. SAD!  But it was a good sign that he was clinging to me and looking in my face while he was scared.  We slowly made our way back, and he sat in Daddy's lap for most of the parade, not as scared of the other noises.
 Unfortunately, Sydney was quite sick that day.  I asked if she wanted to stay home, but she wanted to come.  When we first got to the parade, we threw a bunch of blankets on the ground as we got set up.  She laid down on those blankets on the concrete and didn't get up for almost an hour!  I finally coaxed her to sit in her fancy new camping chair she got for her birthday.  But as you can see...
 ...she still wasn't feeling well.  Papa Phil kept her company.
 Until she fell asleep sitting up!
 GG and Charlie have a beautiful backyard where we had an awesome picnic lunch with BBQ chicken and lots of fresh fruit.
 We found a way for sicky to be near us.  :)
 I love this shot of Carson!  He was so tickled to get a ride in the tractor with Charlie and also tickled to eat so many blueberries and raspberries.
 This little guy loves being outside--and eating, of course.
 They happen to have a vintage tricycle around for visits such as this.
 Warm day, cool shade...if you can't be home in your own bed, this is a pretty decent way to rest when you're not feeling well.
 GG and Carson!
 Daddy getting his workout.
 I wish you could see Asher's face in this one.  Priceless!