Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Four Weeks and an Update

I think awhile back I mentioned that time both "flies" and "crawls". I can't believe we've been together four weeks. One of my commitments to my little pixie was to keep her world super small during our first month together - to focus on our attachment. I remember asking my friend Lesa before I left on E's gotcha trip to keep me accountable to that commitment, because I knew it would be hard for me. I have many dear friends and I knew I would want them to meet her right away. And here we are, one month in! I am so very glad that I stuck with it and did keep things very small for her - I really feel like we are making strides in our mutual attachment to one another. Our biggest struggle is bedtime - I think it must have been a very scary time for her.

A couple of weeks ago my Auntie Jan (my mom's twin sister) and my cousin Karri came for a visit. It was so special to me. My mom passed away seven years ago - I miss her terribly. She would have just adored E. and I know she would have been here with me during these first few weeks. It meant the world to me that Jan and Karri would fly out to be with us so quickly - it felt a bit like having mom around.
We had a blast and my little pixie just loved them.
Auntie Jan taught E. how to walk on top of her feet - this produced squeals of delight.

Auntie Jan and Karri bought E. an "acheena" and Karri most graciously put it together - 37 steps! Good grief! Here's the success!

Pixie and Syd had a ball playing in the box the Cozy Coupe came in

Since E's birthday happened during the first month she was home I kept her "party" really small - Auntie (my sister) and Syd of course and then Papa (my dad) and Becky (who traveled to Russia with me on the "gotcha trip") and her husband Kelly. We had a great time and E. was so surprised by gifts, and cupcakes. She really didn't know what to think when we sang happy birthday to her - she got this really confused look on her face - it was too cute. Here are some pix - I realized I didn't get a picture of E. with Auntie (or Teetee as E. says) we need to fix that!
Pixie and Papa

Becky and Kelly (or Kewwwie as E. calls him) with E.

E.'s very first cupcake - yummy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Humility and Sacrifice

If you had asked me before E. came home if I struggle with pride or selfishness I probably would have said no - I'm a pretty humble person and in general pretty generous. Four weeks later and ask me again - my answer - uh huh! Yeah, I do. The Lord is definitely working humility and servanthood or sacrifice into my heart in all kinds of new ways. This little person who has just uprooted herself and moved half way around the world is undeniably, all-consuming and understandably, one big ball of need. Even with all of my training and experience there are so many times when I just don't know what to do or how to help her. My internal reactions sometimes feel selfish and stingy. And there are parts of me (the prideful ones) that just don't want to admit that I don't know what to do or that I feel this selfish. The ugly parts of yourself show up when you parent, don't they? And so, I felt compelled to mention it here....confession is good for the soul.
I really wouldn't have expected this and definitely wouldn't ask to learn these lessons, but I'm also really grateful for God's kindness, patience and mercy toward me as I grow in humility and willingness to sacrifice.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Birthday!

E. turned three today. Happy, happy birthday sweet girl. I am so happy you celebrated at home. Tomorrow night Papa (my dad) and friends Becky (who traveled with me to bring E. home) and her hubby Kelly will come over for a birthday dinner complete with cupcakes :)
I pray, on this day, for your birth mama - I pray for her health and her heart - it must hurt on a day like today - she gave you life and she will always be a part of you. So I pray that the Lord will bless her and keep her safe - that He would bring hope and healing to her heart.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What does E. Love?

She loves to help unload and load the dishwasher...although we still haven't quite gotten the idea that you shouldn't lick every item you put in or take out of the dishwasher....yucky on both accounts!
She loves her bath...sheeesha (not sure if that is even remotely close to the Russian word for bath, but that is what she calls it. She can hardly contain herself.
She loves looking at typically toddler and maybe little girl too? Wherever she catches a glimpse of her reflection (the fridge, the oven door, the bathroom mirror, the light fixture over our kitchen table, even the drain plug in the bath tub) she is enamored :)
She loves to pray....this one just makes my heart sing....she reminds me if it seems like I might forget at nap or bedtime and she bows her little head right along with us at the dinner table. Thank You Lord, that even though she doesn't understand one word she knows there is peace in prayer and it draws her in.
She loves going outside and especially to the park. I am amazed at her fearlessness climbing ladders I'd rather she avoid :)
She loves Sydney and asks about her all day long while she is at school. I love that she does this and it is truly an answer to prayer that they enjoy each other so much.
We've been together three weeks today - so amazing all the things I am learning about her each and every day.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Home Two Weeks

During the day time seems to crawl and then I look at the calendar and realize that E. has been at home for two weeks. That is really amazing! I think after four years on the road to being a mom, honestly, I am still holding back a bit - waiting for the other shoe to drop - I've been protecting my heart for so long - not allowing myself to get my hopes up too high for fear they would be dashed again. And now, she's home and it's really an interesting experience....I'm not even sure I can put it into words, but it seems I need to make a conscious moment by moment decision to celebrate, to find joy in E. and how well she is doing - to find joy in being her mama.
I asked Syd and my sister tonight what changes they've noticed in two weeks and this is the list we came up with...
Her hair is already getting thicker and longer.
She is open to more new foods and will at least try new things. At first she was, understandably, resistant.
Her skin is full of color and her cheeks are fuller (and not only when they are stuffed with food.)
Her receptive language is already growing. I will say to her, "let's go get some socks" and she runs to her dresser and the sock drawer to pick them out.
She smiles more.
Syd says she is much more animated, and I agree.
E. your family adores you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

As promised...

More pictures :)
E. and I have been a family for 2 weeks :) Amazing! I still cannot believe it. So what have we been up to?

Driving around in my Cozy Coupe that Auntie Jan bought me :) The Russian word for car is Machina (not sure of the spelling), but she says it "acheena"

Loving taking a bath with Syd. This is the only picture of Syd in the bath I'm allowed to post :)

Climbing the stairs to the slide at our local park. I cannot believe how fearless she is - she will try anything and she is getting stronger every time we play at the park.

And wearing my bunny hat and Auntie Kristen's sunglasses. My future's so bright I gotta wear shades :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Learning to Stay Present

Staying present seems to be an ongoing lesson of mine to learn. Professionally, I am a trained counselor and have worked with many families who struggle with attachment challenges. Perhaps similar to a doctor or nurse who brings a child into their home, I find myself "knowing" too much about attachment issues and as a result, I'm constantly looking for signs that issues are there. UGH! This is not helpful.

This week I was reading in Matthew chapter 6 in The Message version and these verses hit me square between the eyes!

Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

I realize the context of this passage is about money, but I so clearly felt the Lord saying to me "watch E. unfold with wide eyed wonder and belief in what I am doing in both of you! Don't live squinty eyed looking for problems! Allow me to fill you up with my light." And also, asking me to "give my full attention to what He is doing right here, right now in our lives and not worry about the next ten steps on our journey - focus right here, right now!"

So this has been my prayer this week - to live in wide eyed wonder, staying present to each moment as it unfolds.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Home One Week

One week ago tonight we arrived home. After a 24+ journey we made it. It seems like ages ago. E. has been with me for one and half weeks and already I see her blossoming into her own little person. It is really delightful and sometimes incredibly frustrating (she's two after all :)

Things I've noticed...
In all of the three visit trips she rarely spoke - to me or her caregivers - here at home she is a chatterbox - she sings little songs out loud, she chats away to all of us and to her dolly - so very sweet - I need to figure out how to upload a video from my camera and I'll share one of her sweet little songs. I have to say the music teacher, Tatiana, at the Vladimir Baby House ROCKS in my book!

She is holding far less food in her mouth for lengthy periods of time - at the hotel in Moscow, Becky and I noticed quite often that she would still have food in her mouth an hour or more after we had eaten - sadly, I think she unconsciously was storing up in case she didn't get more. This has subsided quite a bit.

Her attention span is about as long as a flea's - or at least what I would imagine a flea's might be :) and oh my this is exhausting - all the moms of toddlers probably completely understand this. This morning we had play-doh'd, puzzled, colored, played this little piggy and danced around and it was only 9:30am - how in the world will I make it 'till nap time?

She doesn't push me away as often, she comes over to sit on my lap or right next to me more and more often. Thank you, Lord, our bond is growing.

We are finally getting over jetlag! Woo hoo!

I have to admit, while I thought I was prepared for how difficult this would be,
I wasn't...
It has been a long week
Adoption is messy...
language barriers...
getting to know each other...
me learning how to be a mom to a toddler right out of the gate...
E. learning how to live in a family...
grieving the loss of her life at the orphanage - not consciously, but grieving nonetheless,
yes, it's messy
and painful
I promise, more pictures soon...for now, good night.