Monday, December 10, 2012

1 Month Home

Its been 4 weeks...a full month... since Callie came home. This past week was the first of a new month, meaning busy time for mama at work, the first one we've encountered since she's been home. As so, with the exception of Monday, the rest of the week was mine to spend with Callie and I would say this week was slightly different than those previous... more so characterized by testing of boundaries.

Monday was the only day I went to work. The act of me leaving with the twins is perhaps the most difficult thing for her to deal with. When she sees her sisters getting ready and going down to the car with papa, the tears are inevitable. She will throw her arms around my waist and beg me not to go. After prying her off, mama is left with a 30-45 minute unconscionable sobbing. We have learned that this can be eased by allowing her to get fully dressed alongside her sisters and sometimes going for a short car ride just to get out the house. While we think she is mostly upset by me leaving and not being sure when/if I'll return, there seems to be part of her that simply wants to get out of the house.

The remainder of the week was my turn. Since the twins normally accompany me to work, on days where I don't work, we've work out the arrangement where mama leaves early and drives an hour and half out of her way to drop them off at school and in the afternoon, Callie and I load up in the car and do the same drive to fetch her sisters. While very inconvenient for everyone, we feel it is necessary for the girls to see their friends at school and us be able to focus our attention on Callie during the day. She does struggle the same with her mama leaving in the morning, but to a lesser degree than papa. By the time the afternoon gets here, I get several questions that infer as "where is mama?" By the time the afternoon gets here, she is very excited and rides very well to go get her sisters. She becomes instantly excited when we pull up to their school but is still very shy inside around all their friends and teachers. On the ride home, since she sits forward facing in between her two sisters who are still rear facing, she's constantly talking to them and passing things to them. When we finally get home, there is a made dash of children excited to see their mama... Audrey now facing contention with Callie on who gets to be held/hugged until the table is set for dinner.

I started this post off with this week was different, characterized by more testing of boundaries, and that has come in the form of sleep. This week, I have instantly become unsuccessful in getting her to take her afternoon nap. We'll get changed into our pj's and into the bed and I'll settling down on the floor of her room like I always do, but she has now instantly tries to sit up/stand up, talk, and whatever else to remain awake. When I lay her back down and place the covers over her, she becomes upset and latches on with a tight bear hug. Breaking this bear hug causes instant sobbing. No longer will remaining in her room within line of sight eventually result into napping. We sat in total darkness for over an hour sobbing before eventually giving up. We haven't been too worried as at 4.5yrs old, she is really at an age where naps are becoming optional, and since we've spent so much time in the car, she usually gets a solid 45 minutes there anyway, but was such a good napper just a week ago, its like the switch just flipped. But this may also do with her attachment to papa, as mama was able to make her nap this weekend where I haven't been. But her bedtime routine has also suffered from more sobbing and extended time trying to get to sleep, but mama is always able to work her magic and once asleep, she has remained pretty steady in staying asleep until around 7:00am, so for that, we are thankful.

We also concentrated on having our 2nd and 3rd sessions with our student translator. Where I would say the first visit was characterized by head down, almost sobbing, these visits she has become accustom to him in the room where she will play and resume her normal business largely ignoring him. But while she doesn't typical respond, she does understand and acknowledge what he says to her. Also, he's been able to catch some of her chatter and while not in direct response to his questions, he is able to understand most of what she is saying. One misconception I've witnessed is just putting someone who speaks and understands Russian in front of her, doesn't immediately establish communication. Just like with any unfamiliar English speaking person, she is shy, reserved, and closed off first... just because they know her language, doesn't change her reaction to new people. However, I've found if we're able to spend time and take the focus away from her, she'll eventually start to open up. But we fell no one outside our home gets to witness her true rambunctious, chatty nature that we experience every night... but this will only come with time, for now, you couldn't imagine they are the same child.

As for everything else, our expectations are exceeded on a daily basis. She has become completely comfortable with Audrey and Harper and we have not had a single fallout between them as I was prepared for. She loves to do things for her sisters, hand them their bottles, help with bath time, even tries to instruct them to do things in Russian. Harper loves having someone to chase around and Audrey remains fascinated by what her big sister is up to. Bath time continues to be an all time favorite and potty time is no trouble. Eating continues to be hit or miss depending on the food choices, but largely we have no problem getting food into her. We've had no more breakdowns over communication or lack of understanding each other for several weeks now. She's picked up a handful of English words, even used her first English word "hot" in context last week. She is also intrigued by learning the alphabet and the alphabet song and will sing and pronounce the letters along with her various toys that do so. Her favorite letters are the beginning of her name "C" and "A" and she struggles the most with "W". Perhaps what I'm most amazed with is her ability to soak of new things so easily. She only needs to see you try something once before she's repeating it, and thats without language involved. It just further reiterates how amazing and smart she is and only needs to be given the opportunity and she will flourish.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

2 Weeks Home


Now that Sweet Girl is home we can be a little more open about the procedure. For all those coming here as a resource about adoption, Sweet Girl is from Vladimir, Russia. All posts about being in region reference Vladimir and all posts about the capital reference Moscow. Sweet Girl's new name is Anastasia Caroline. We are calling her Callie.

I hope to keep the blog up but transition it into a journal of our family and Callie's place in our lives! So with that, here's an update on what we've been up to!

Ten things I didn't expect in our first two weeks home:

1. Audrey and Harper to not bat an eye as Callie has seamlessly taken her place as the big sister. The interactions between all three girls are genuinely sweet and caring. There has been very little issue over toys, attention, etc.

2. In Moscow, Callie slept on a pallet next to the bed with us. Here, we have her on a little cot next to our bed. In Moscow, Callie slept 8p - 8a without issues. At home, when Callie wakes, she's up. This has been from 3a - 8a. Our hopes of getting her into her own room at night after a couple of days have turned into we hope we can get her into her own room by Christmas.

3. All 3 girls at once is still pretty overwhelming for Rob and I individually. It's our issue though, not theirs, as we learn to split our attentions well enough to fulfill all three girls need for affection, attention, and positive reinforcement. I feel exhausted 99% of the time. I try to not let my frequent frustration show, but I am human and I fail. Rob is super dad and is continually patient and present with them.

4. While deep down I am not surprised, Callie is modeling all the twins behavior. They throw food on the floor, she wants to see what happens when she throws food on the floor. They want a book read, she wants a book read. Callie watches their behavior as a model on how to act in our family. Thankfully, the twins are surrounded by a village of people who have helped us model good behavior for them so they can now model good behavior for Callie... except for that throwing food thing :)

5. Callie has attached very quickly to Rob and I - moreso Rob. She comes to me and loves me and needs me,  it when her Papa is at work, her little world breaks down. It is getting better as she realizes when papa leaves he will always come back. Overall, when not at home, her anxiety about being forgotten, being left, or all of us not going home is palpable. The shocking degree to which she "needs" us has been slightly overwhelming, but we're managing.

6. Eating is harder than I thought it would be. In Moscow, Callie was pretty picky about what she ate and that has continued at home. It is a little bit her controlling her completely uncontrollable surroundings and a little bit that she thinks we are crazy Americans for eating all this food out of boxes. We are learning her and she is rewarding us by trying and liking new things occasionally. She has no pressure with food. She can eat as much or as little of whatever she wants whenever she wants.

7. Callie loves going. As a way to avoid the insanity that comes from being inside all day every day, we try to go out for little trips every day. She loves to crawl into her carseat and get buckled. She loves going into stores and looking at all the stuff. In the grocery, she just wanted to touch all these things she's only seen in pictures.

8. She is SMART. She prefers to teach us the Russian word than learn the English word, but she is learning new concepts so quickly. She can bead patterns, sort, color, trace and overall learns so fast. She tries to mimic words we say and already understands lots of basic things we tell her. We taught her A and C this week and now she can consistently say, find and write those letters. And I don't even need to get into her expertise at what she's now taken as HER iPhone and HER iPad.

9. She doesn't like warm Krispy Kremes. I know it's a travesty, we are working on it.

10. She has maintained lots of orphanage habits, but others she has dropped quickly. While she can dress herself, she prefers to let us dress her. She knows she is supposed to sit for meals but sometimes, her curiosity about the cat causes her to get up and investigate. She shares well and is tolerant of Audrey and Harper being in her room and riffling through her stuff. She is opinionated about what she wears. She is learning what happens when she doesn't respond to "Nyet!"

I won't lie. This is HARD. Adding another child to your home who already has so many life experiences is not roses and daisies. But God said to follow Him. He didn't tell us it would be easy and not fraught with heartache, but He did tell us that the reward would be worth it. Seeing the light in her eyes the first time she saw fruit at the grocery store made every document we chased worth it.

So, here's our first two weeks in PICTURES!