Sunday, August 29, 2010

BBQ & "BobBob"

There’s nothing that reinvigorates a mom like a night out with friends. Our community hosts a local BBQ and beer tasting this time of year or “BrewBQ.” Our good friends Dustin and Jill joined us at the annual fest. Last year we were unable to attend as it was the weekend of Sidney’s baptism, and she was in no way ready to stay with my parents for the night. Yesterday, Tom and I were happy for a break. His schedule has reached a crazy number of hours between his regular job and our business, so it was good to spend some time together. Prior to going to the BrewBQ, we spent a good part of the day hanging out eating by ourselves, drinking good coffee (I am a huge coffee drinker, so this was great!),and shopping. We actually got to spend time in Barnes & Noble minus any children. This was a little slice of heaven.

The kids were transplanted to my parent’s house for the evening. They are less than an hour away. Eli was more than happy to take a break from Mom and Dad and commented that we needed to leave. He thought we were hanging around a bit too long when dropping them off. Sidney did beautifully without getting upset about sleeping overnight at “BobBob” and “JeanJean’s” house. She can retain their names but not a full Grandpa Bob and Grandma Jean. Eli always includes their first name, because they have 6 grandparents. Remarriage on Tom’s side has created more grandparents and cousins, who my kids love spending time with.

Sidney has developed a really neat relationship with my dad. He spent extensive time in Asia when he was in the military, so he understands much about the environment she might have come from. She has internalized this. My dad was the person who accurately guessed the correct clothing sizes for Sidney prior to travel and gave us tips on small things, like telling us to feed her from a bowl. She also loves being around my mom, but if Bob is in the room, she makes a straight line for his lap. Eli is equally the same way with my mom and adores my dad.

I can’t express how important family support has been in the last few months. It’s important under normal circumstances. Whether it is sitting with us during those long hours of surgery or simply listening. It is essential. It is easier to rationalize a lot of things that feel out of your control when you have a listening ear.

Off to start another week. Here’s hoping for an early bedtime. Sidney refused to nap for my mom. There was too much fun to be had, like playing with the very large Dora house my mom found at a garage sale complete with pool and characters or going to the park.

Friday, August 27, 2010

School Time Calm and Coffee Creamer

Sidney is sacked out next to me, and Eli is pondering aloud why women don’t have chest hair. A normal afternoon in our household. We had a quiet couple of days after dropping Eli at school. Almost too quiet. Sidney has gotten into the back to school routine quickly. This was more than obvious later in the week when she was back to her old antics, pretending she was singing into a microphone (Dad’s large drill bit), contemplating the cat’s dislike of tail pulling, and attempting to figure out why mom did not think spreading powdered creamer on the table was a good idea.

Sidney’s behavior continues to unfold as does any toddler, but there is a certain amount of joy in watching it happen. I hardly recognize her personality as the same child that came into our life last year. She was too easily able to take care of herself and had all of the components of a 16 month old without the mischief and joy. I can report we now have both.

Thankfully, this normal behavior no longer includes tantrums of varying length. Tom experienced one while I was helping during Bible School that lasted 45 minutes. We understood why. She was trying to tell us what she wanted, but we were unable understand everything. It is nice to have typical toddler issues. So much of what goes on in the first year home is constantly questioning what is normal toddler behavior and what is associated with the orphanage. For one of the first times, we were able to tell the difference.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School

Eli’s name was placed on a Duck’s Unlimited Plaque in the northern part of our state, commemorating private land going to public hunting grounds. Eli’s enthusiasm about the event was contagious. When he came downstairs Sunday morning, he told us, “I think I am going to be famous or something.” You would have thought he was going on national television.

2 hours in the car one way was actually quite peaceful as Sidney napped and Eli had his DVD’s. When we got out we were suddenly reminded that this type of hunting land is usually in the middle of the country with zero shade. Nevertheless, as Eli complained about how he was “sooooooooo HOT,” I told him he had to tough it out. This is the first time when I have actually told Tom to get Sidney into the air conditioning. She was her typical spunky self, and I couldn’t get her to stop running around. She was starting to look overheated, so towards the end he took her to the air conditioned vehicle. Eli thought it was cool to do a rubbing of his name on the plaque with around 200 other names.

On the way home, we took an unexpected detour. Off the interstate was the community college where I met Tom. I shushed an enthusiastic Tom, as we drove around the campus. He was in full story telling mode, and I was certain neither of our kids needed to know about our lives at the age of 19 and 20. What a surreal feeling to drive around with 2 kids in tow.

Today Eli was off to 3rd grade. His attitude about going has improved significantly since last week, and he is more than ready to spend his daytime hours around kids his own age. Sidney is trying to wrap her head around what is going on. I think she remembers the routine, but she was not happy that her “Ly Ly” was not coming back with us after the opening assembly. They have formed an even closer bond over the summer. Last year, we were only home from China for 3 weeks prior to the 1st day of school, so it was great for them to spend such an extensive amount of time together.

With Eli back in school, we will also schedule Sidney’s echocardiogram soon, as well as a renal ultrasound. When a child has anomalies like Sidney’s, this is a preventative measure to make sure we are not missing something. We completed a skeletal scan in June. This came back showing no other anomalies than her hands, leg, and missing toe. Wonderful! We are optimistic there is nothing else, but as we have known throughout this process, God is driving the bus and we are simply along for the ride.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Three cheers to my sanity - school's starting!

We had the opportunity to drop off school supplies yesterday. Our school allows us to come early making the first morning of school less chaotic. It was almost surreal to take my child into a 3rd grade classroom. I wish I could report that Eli is overjoyed to go back to school. His standard line is, “but Mom it’s so boring.” My standard response is “tough.” Then I give the tired lecture of all parents about being thankful for education. I continue my lecture with the conclusion of children in the world giving anything for his many opportunities. To which, Eli holds in an eye roll. In Eli’s world, there are too many other important things to do. After all, a battle is constantly being waged between Star Wars Lego characters.

As Eli put things away and chatted with his new teacher, Sidney quickly got over her disappointment that she was not going to school. Her assumption that she also needed her “pack pack” was understandable. She will go next year to a 3 year old preschool program 3 mornings a week. Can you tell I am excited? I think it must be about the hundredth time I have mentioned it. Tom is in the trades and works VERY long hours. We made the mutual decision there would be no balance if I went back to work after Eli was born. I enjoy working and contributing, so that is why I write on contract from home. It is something I envision doing a lot more of once Sidney is in school. This is not to say I don’t enjoy being home. I love the fact that both kids are with me.

Our other adventures this week included a trip to see my brother and sister in law for a day. They live in a neighboring state; however we are close enough to travel there and back in a day. Our nephew is a year old. It is fun to watch Sidney interact with her cousin. It is obvious that she has a lot experience with babies. She is a nurturer. Despite her pinching and hitting when we first came home, she becomes very gentle when we are around a baby.

It is obvious she has witnessed the care of a large number of babies at one time. She typically lays her dolls all together in one area or in rows. She runs to the kitchen and grabs a towel out of the drawer and covers them up. This is only after I hear her shushing each baby to sleep.

Off to clean.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


It has been an awesome weekend. Not only did Sidney sleep in until 8:30am this morning, and thankfully not because she was sick, Dad and Mom went out Friday night. We were invited to a relatives wedding reception. Ahhhh, to have a conversation with my husband in blessed silence on the the drive over. We were transformed back into Tom and Cara.

This was the first time we had someone outside of family watch the kids since coming home with Sidney. It wasn't that we were afraid to leave her with someone else. Life has gotten in the way with typical summer activity. However, it felt great walking out the door knowing we have established a sense of trust with Sidney. This is definitely a privilege that has been earned by our family. When a toddler has never expereinced a constant sense of routine stability, it takes a long time. Love can move moutains. Of course, she shed a few tears when we left. Tom said she was playing me and quickly shooed me out the door. Turns out he was right, as she stopped quickly after we left.

Of course, Eli was more than happy Mom and Dad were leaving. I have written many times about my independent boy. He couldn't wait for the baby sitter to get here, after heeding several warnings that we were to do nothing embarassing. He was more than happy we were leaving for the evening.

After we got home Friday night, I was expecting some kind of aftermath with Sidney. It is not uncommon for her to wake up several times in the night when something is outside of her routine. We had a pleasant surprise when we woke up on Saturday morning, and she slept all night without issue. Another mountain climbed and conquered! Notice the photo of Dad conquering a mountain of his own, left over wedding cake. The same was true last night after playing with her many girl cousins at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

We measured the kids over the weekend. Our little chili pepper has grown 6 inches in the last year! This is something that is always in the back of my mind due to the giardia she had when she came home. This has stunted her growth, and it is something we are closely monitoring. This is a great start, and we pray her health continues in this positive direction. Eli also grew, 2 inches in the last year.....wasn't it just yesterday he was 14 lbs during his 2 week visit? Yes, you read that correctly. Maybe that is why it was so shocking Sidney was only 15 lbs when we came home. As I said last week, she is now a whopping 20.5 lbs!

One more week and Eli is back in school! Routine and structure, music to this mom's ears!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wrestling Matches and Redirection

This is what happens when Mom turns her back for 2 seconds, and I find my brothers markers.

Our niece was baptized today. The addition of 4 extra cousins with my two already active children always brings an element of chaos to the situation. We attend church regularly, as well as our nieces and nephews, but the kids love being together. At one point, I looked over and our 2 year old niece was stuffing cheese crackers into Sidney’s mouth as Sidney encouragingly laughed out loud. This was only before Eli’s cousin, 2 years younger, asked out loud if he could spend the night at our house, arm wrapped tightly around Eli. Eli sat stoically in fear of his mother. This all occurred after the kids came flooding into our bench after communion. Later our newly baptized niece said to the people ahead of us “I pee.” I think I picked up crayons off the floor at least 20 times. Each week there is an element of uncertainty.

Later our kids had a chance to catch up with their cousins and play outside in the scorching heat. It was especially nice to see our nieces and nephews with their family together. So precious to see my niece laying her head on her dads shoulder during church. My brother-in-law is recently returned from Iraq. It never leaves my mind that his service is the reason our children are allowed to sit in church together worshiping God. It also makes me think about the lack of Christianity in Sidney’s life, prior to the adoption, and how little time it took for her to learn simple things like folding her hands for a meal prayer, or standing on the kneeler in our church. Just another big reason I am so thankful she is our daughter. I have read that in an orphanage, kids are taught that God is something that is made up. This makes me sad, knowing that there is little hope, in an environment where they have nowhere to go with their pain and frustration.

I asked Sidney this morning if she had fun with her cousins yesterday, and she nodded her head, yes, enthusiastically. We are noticing her vocabulary increasing, in response to what we are asking or in her ability to speak. Many times people ask me if she spoke any Chinese when she came home. She was almost 15 months when she came home, so I think there were a few times she was trying to communicate something but I obviously did not understand. We continue to use her nickname in the orphanage, “Xia Xia” pronounced “Sha Sha, and she clearly understands this as one of her names. Another cool thing she has retained from China is that that she ends her words with aahhh. So, Mommy is Mommmeeee - ah or Dada is Dada-ah. Tom will tell you I have spent MANY hours reading about China and have heard this from other adoptive parents.

OK, back to digging out my house. We had light colds this week and mom felt good enough to plant herself on the couch in front of a book with a towel over her head as she steamed her sinuses. I am certain the kids thought I was insane. Sidney kept trying to peek inside to make sure I was still there.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Counting Down

Mom will you please stop taking my picture for your blog!
I am writing this as I watch Sidney happily munching on her cereal, thinking that watching her eat gives me a sense of peace. Eating has been a trial since day one. There have been many times we worried about her caloric intake. It is difficult to get food down a child who simply does not want to eat. We have turned a corner, and she is eating more. We experienced this before however not for this length of time. A lack of sufficient nutrition in the orphanage, and giardia, contributed to her decreased appetite. Nutrition has made all the difference in her size. She has gained 5 lbs since we came home, her hair is thicker, and she has the rounded legs and arms of a toddler.

I am on a countdown to the beginning of school. I love my children dearly; however we need structure and consistency in our schedule. Eli is like a caged animal the last couple of days. Mosquitoes in our yard and entire town make it miserable to be outside unless doused in a thick layer of Off. Eli will receive a replacement for his speedometer on his bike today, so hopefully, the combination of speed and repellent will be enough to get him out of my hair.

In a few days, Sidney and I will be left by ourselves. I am going to get Eli back into the school year before I make any decisions, however we are considering putting her into daycare one or two mornings a week. This is something I don’t want to do, but I sense that she would rather be around kids a couple of hours a day. This is understandable, considering she spent much of her life in an environment filled with children. I fear the additional illness in our house, so we might opt not to send her. This would be extra time for me to write. I contract, and I could pick up more if I had a solid block of time. Tom also has billing and other things I need to get done. I am trying to get a grip on what I will do when both kids are in school. I also see our families needs are different than when Eli was the same age with the addition of our business. Tom works all day and many times works into the evening. There has to be some balance, and I keep reading blogs saying many moms have at least an afternoon a week.

OK, off to accomplish something. Sidney is quietly sitting in front of Mickey Mouse watching the hibiscus hoola and proudly advising, “I love Mickey Mouse.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yesterday, we registered Eli for school. He will start 3rd grade this fall. He started attending a small Catholic school when he began all day kindergarten. Forking out the tuition for a semester was not fun, but when I drop him off, it is reassuring that he is receiving a solid Christian educationI was nervous when he began attending, as we are not Catholic and attend our Lutheran church. I found the curriculum is non denominational. Although, the first time I attended children’s mass, I had to giggle when his teacher told him to genuflect by the pew.

I have found his attendance at this school has sparked in depth conversation about our own faith which is always something positive. We are surrounded by a tight knit group of families with under 150 kids in attendance. He will attend through 8th grade. High school will remain a large question mark for the next few years. Sidney will start attending during a 3 day summer program next year for 5 weeks. This will lead up to attending 3 yr old preschool in the fall. I think she is ready now. Outside of her size there are days I contemplate if her birth date is actually accurate and she was premature at birth.

For this reason, I would like to enroll Sidney in daycare for a few hours a week. I write on contract and this would give me the opportunity to expand the work a little bit. I need a solid block of time without interruption, however I feel guilty about doing this. I think it would be great for Sidney as she has no socialization with kids her age during the day. Some might say this is not an issue, however she is most accustomed to interaction with other kids. My fear is the illness coming into our house which is already prevalent with Eli dragging everything in. Ultimately, I will probably wait until she is in school in the fall, but we are tossing around ideas.

The photos are from the weekend. Tom loves to cook. In the 40’s and 50’s, I would have been considered a bad wife. I hate cooking. I should say I like to do it, but it takes so much time and makes such a mess. My contribution for this particular meal was to clean the sweet corn. With that note, you will have to wager your own guess on our home state. I love to bake and have canned in previous summers. I am thinking of freezing sweet corn. Tom considers this his down time after work to relax and transition from work. I think it is great, and I not so willingly clean up the mess.

I hear cheerios hitting the floor. Time to go.