Thursday, August 22, 2013

A new normal

The time has arrived and this week the big kids headed back to school.  It was a big deal this year because Kate started Kindergarten.  It was a big day for her, and for me.  I have been dreading this day for a long time, but she was very excited and I know she is very ready, so that made it easier to watch her go. 

She seemed to have a good first day, as did the boys.  Hard to believe we are back to school.  For obvious reasons, our summer seems like a blur.  But, here we are and hopefully everyone will have a good year.
Rob and I decided a while back that we would not send Vivian to school this fall.  It just didn't feel right.  I don't think she is ready.  Or, maybe it is that I am not ready.
Kate started preschool when she was 2 years old.  So, it has been 4 years since I have had a child home with me all day with no school.  In a lot of ways, it is a step "back" to be home again with a toddler.  But it is a step that I voluntarily took. 
We made the most of our time together on our first day just the two of us.  First, I took a jog with her.  Oh, exercise, how I have missed you!!!! Other than a walk or two, I have not exercised since before we left for China.  It was so nice to get outside and get my heart rate going a bit
After our walk, I just let her play for a bit.  I love watching her exploring the world


When we got home, I decided it was finally a good time to have Vivian open some gifts that had been waiting for her from some of my mom's friends.  I figured this was a chance for her to open them without her older siblings taking over.  If you sweet ladies are reading, thank you notes are coming!!  Thank you so much for these precious gifts, and for thinking of Vivian.  And for always doing wonderful things for me.  She LOVED them.

This was best I could do at  a picture of her with both her new dolls. She was so excited she would not sit still

So now Vivian and I will begin to get used to our new normal.  It will just be the two of us every day.  I have us signed up for swim lessons and a music class.  Although I have to laugh that I will be back with all the 20 and 30-something year old moms, I don't for one second take for granted the privilege that it is to be the one doing these things with Vivian. I feel so incredibly blessed to be the one to show her these things and spend this time with her.

One of the things that has taken me by surprise since arriving home with Vivian is how much I think about her birth parents.  Every time she does something new, or smiles one of her beautiful smiles, I think of them.  I wonder about them.  Especially her mom.  I think about the crazy twists of fate that landed the child she birthed in my living room.  I don't know how to reconcile the way I feel so certain that Vivian is supposed to be here with us, and so certain she is supposed to be my daughter, with the way I feel so sad that she is not with them.  I am convinced Vivian and I were supposed to find each other.  Yet, I know there is a woman on the other side of the world who may wonder about her every day.  What am I supposed to do with that???  How is this fair??

I don't know.  But, I do know that Vivian is here with me and I will not take that for granted.  I may not be able to make it the gym, or have lunch with friends,  or even shower on my own ... but that is OK.  I am honored to be raising her, and I intend to live up to the silent promise I made her birth parents as we left China:  to give her all the love I have to give, just like I did with my other three kids.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A week in pictures (LOTS of them)

I am working on a few blog posts (mostly in my head right now) that are kind of "wordy".  It is going to take me a few days to get them together, so for now I am going to do an update that is short on words and heavy on pictures.  We have had another great week with Vivian.  A few things to note:

She really loves the pool.  Yes, the girl who hardly wanted to get in while we were in China and first home, now loves going to the pool.  She puts her puddle jumpers on and goes in by herself

She has started to settle down with her eating.  She is not crying any more when we take her food away, and now hands me her plate when she is done and says, "all done".  She is still trying all kinds of new foods and now has taken to helping herself to the pantry when she wants a snack!!  She is also beginning to sign and say "more".

She experienced two of my least favorite things to do this week:  shop at Costco (BTW, this picture was taken right after church.  We do NOT roll around town in collared shirts and fancy dresses)

and play at Chuck-E-Cheese.  She didn't quite get the concept of rolling the ball....

She is developing quite the bond with her oldest brother and oldest cousin.  The older ones seem to understand Vivian the most. They are mature enough to give her the space she needs; confident enough to not have their feelings hurt when she is not "in the mood"; and patient enough to stick with her in the good moments and the bad.  And all of this is paying off.  She really loves them.  And the sweetest part is:  they really love her.  They are both 10 years old and have all kinds of things they could choose to do with their time every day.  And yet they choose to spend their time being servants to an almost 3 year old.  Any time they are around you see Vivian with her pointer finger out ordering them around.  They will do ANYTHING for her.  They are making their parents so proud.

The other day they abandoned all ipads, ipods and TV when Vivian pointed to outside. They took her out and played with her for over an hour.  I followed them around with my camera


This is one of the amazing things about adoption.  You get a front row seat to see how love can transform the life of a child who never knew love.  BUT, you also get to see how giving that love can transform the lives of those who give it.

And just in case there weren't enough pictures for you so far, two more favorites from the week

Linking up with Lisa this week for Favorite Photo Friday.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Progress and Challenges

The title of this blog post explains exactly where we are right now with Vivian.  She is making so much progress in so many ways, but that progress is bringing with it a whole new set of challenges.  Lets start with the challenges, and then I will report the progress.

The biggest challenge we are having right now with Vivian is communication.  For the first few weeks it did not seem to matter much to her that she could not communicate with us.  I think she was just too overwhelmed to care. Now that she is more comfortable with us, she is ready for us to understand more of what she wants and needs, yet she doesn't have the words to tell us.  This really frustrates her at times.  She has taken to what Rob has coined "the Chewbacca".  She whines for things in a loud "aahhh" until we figure out what she wants.  Lets just say this is not our favorite new trick of hers.  She continues to be very attached to me.  While this is a positive thing for our relationship, it is not a positive thing for helping me be productive!  If I am not holding her she is standing in between my legs WANTING me to hold her and giving me the "chewbacca".  Here is what happened the other night when I tried to put her down to cook dinner:

We are also still having some food issues.  Girlfriend just does NOT stop eating.  She continues to eat pretty much anything we give her (except fruit which you would think she would love).  If she sees that someone has something on their plate that she doesn't have, she gets upset and wants to have some of it.  She has a heartbreaking habit of crying when we take her food away.  We KNOW she is getting more than enough to eat, but it is still hard to to watch her cry when we take her plate away.  Even if it is empty, she does not want to let go of it.  Hopefully over time she will trust that we will always give her as much as she wants to eat.

Now, on the positive side, she continues to make progress EVERY DAY.  She is more and more comfortable in our house, and will roam around for a few minutes without me.  She is definitely feeling at home with her siblings, and doesn't hesitate to boss them around.  Yesterday she made both her brothers get in her pack and play with her to read books

She is doing better when we go out and about, also.  We went to a park the other day and she ran around and played!!  This is such progress.  The first few times we went to a park she just sat on my lap, to afraid to play and too unsteady and weak to climb the equipment.  It was so encouraging to see how much her strength has improved already

not so sure at first
she went in

doing the stairs by herself!

it takes a lot of concentration

always someone willing to help

oh, that face

Luckily, the big kids don't mind that we are spending so much time at "little kid" parks

We are also seeing a lot of progress in the relationship between Vivian and Kate.  Kate has been SOOO patient with Vivian.  All of the kids have.  Major breakthrough the other morning .. Vivian wanted Kate's seat pulled right next to hers so they were touching during breakfast.  This is a big deal for a girl who can be grouchy slow to warm up in the morning

eating eggs together

Another big event this week:  Vivian got in the bath!!  As long as Kate is in with her, she is happy.  This is making bath time much more fun (and efficient)

The girls are getting in a routine of taking a bath and then having some special play time together.  It is so sweet.

I think anyone who knows me knows how happy it makes me to see the beginnings of this sister relationship.

Whew!  That was a lot of pictures!  I have to try and start blogging more often (yeah right) because Vivian is doing new things every day!

Last thing I wanted to include was this video of the kids working with Vivian to get her to say "mama".  She is certainly not lacking for any attention right now.  I hope she feels as loved as she is.

the long road