One of Jonathan's many funny faces.
The two sick ones at Eric's dad's Christmas.
The two healthy ones in the same moment as above. Note the difference in energy levels!
Joseph's favorite birthday gift - cold hard cash!
Jonathan making sure he got his share of fudge on his birthday cake/ice-cream combo.
The happy couple - 10 years later!
Well the kids have been with us for 2 weeks as of yesterday, and what a 2 weeks it has been! We’ve survived 4 Christmases (not the movie!), New Years, 2 birthdays and our 10 year anniversary – which we celebrated early by taking a one month trip to Europe and dinner locally at a great little place in a nearby town. New Year’s Eve was spent hanging out with some of our best friends. We had a great time just playing cards, watching the kids run amok and trying to pick up new songs on Wii Rock Band. We’ve been incredibly blessed to land in two wonderful small groups over our tenure at our church. The friendships that I made in the first one and am making in the latest one are so important to me and I’m extremely blessed to count you guys as friends – and not just the facebook kind of friend! Okay, enough of the sentiment!
Joseph’s birthday is the same day as our anniversary. Poor kid didn’t get much of a birthday with it being just a week after they had come home. But, we had small group for church that night, so he got to play with all the kids, got lots of extra hugs and kisses, a few presents and a yummy banana cake. This also meant that we had to keep Jonathan’s birthday low key as well (which quite frankly is fine with me!) Next year they will have made friends and I’ll do the whole sha-bang for them. (What am I doing? I’ve just put that in writing and now I’ll have to follow through with it!)
We had Christmas with Eric’s side of the family on Saturday. Jonathan and Charity had both contracted fevers in the night but John (Eric’s dad) wanted us to come anyway and the kids were feeling great as long as the Motrin was working. John and Teri (Eric’s older sister) had been with us at the airport on the night the boys got home but Laura (Eric’s little sister) hadn’t met her new nephews yet. It was fun to watch her fall in love with them and overall it was a wonderful day. Joseph was his normal goofy self all day. I’m not kidding – that child is going to give Charity a run for her money for the nuttiest kid in our family. A month or so ago I would have told you that she had that title locked up but Joseph is a complete clown! Give him an audience and about 10 minutes to loosen up and stand back! Today’s theme was “monkey man” and he did everything in his power to prove that he belongs in a zoo. He got a card from my sister for his birthday with a monkey on it, they watched Curious George on PBS a couple of times this week and Jonathan got a stuffed George for his birthday plus it’s one of the few animal names Joseph knows in English. All of these circumstances combined made for a pretty entertaining day. We were standing in line for the citrus truck this afternoon and he kept telling me over and over “Ya monkey mama. Ya monkey mama. Papa panda, mama kangaroo, ya monkey!” (Ya = I) I’m not sure what makes Eric a panda or me a kangaroo but it doesn’t really matter because at dinner we all got assigned to new animals – except Eric who is still a panda, and Monkey Man of course!
Jonathan prefers to do most of his expressing with his eyes. He makes the most hilarious facial expressions! He’s also quite pathetic when he wants to be. He does this silent cry with these HUGE crocodile tears that would work their magic on anyone who didn’t know what he was up to. I asked him to put his blanket and monkey back in his bed this afternoon and you would have thought I told him the most heartbreaking news ever! Now granted, it is harder for him to put stuff away when he doesn’t have his braces on but he is perfectly capable of the task I asked him to perform, he just didn’t want to do it and so he played the pity card. Next time Mom might buy it but this time I won the battle. Go me!!
Michael and Charity are adjusting pretty well to having 2 new brothers. I really thought that it would be hardest on MJ since he was the one giving up his room, closet, toys, etc. but I think he’s had the easiest time of it. He and Joseph are the best of friends (for now) and Michael is such a mother hen that he has naturally gravitated toward Jonathan as well. Charity feels left out a little more often. Joseph prefers Michael’s company over anyone else and Jonathan wants to be just like his big brothers so they tend to exclude her. Today I kicked Joseph and Charity outside and made MJ stay in and work on homework. It was nice to see the two middle ones playing together. They will most likely be in the same grade in the fall and so I really want them to be friends as well as siblings.
I am adjusting to being the mother of four as well. Most of the time we have a pretty good time but the hour before dinner is the worst. I call this the “arsenic hour” – you either want to take it or give it to someone! Finishing up homework, getting the house picked up before Eric gets home, and getting dinner on the table while dealing with all the “Mommy, can I…, Mommy, I need…, Mommy, Michael did this and Mommy, Charity did that”, not to mention all the complaints and requests in Russian about drives me crazy every night! We’re working on getting a routine down and I’ve got my awesome chore chart going for the 3 oldest ones ( http://www.familytools.com) and my supper swap group has started again, which helps tremendously. On the plus side – I sleep really well at night!
In many ways the time has gone quickly but in others it feels like these boys have been with us forever. They experience new things every day and it’s so much fun to see our life through their eyes. Everything is new and exciting to them and so different from what they have lived up to this point. I’ve told you all before that the transition has been very easy and that continues to be true. Both boys pout when told no but they eventually obey and we haven’t seen any of the signs or symptoms of RAD, which is a relief. (For those of you who are not familiar with the world of adoption or foster care – this is basically when a child has difficulty “attaching” to their adoptive/foster family. Feel free to Google it if you want to know what we are NOT experiencing.) They are both affectionate and have been telling us they love us for a week or so now. Joseph cried with us for the first time today. He hit his leg on the door frame during one of his “ya monkey” escapades. I know that sounds like a ridiculous thing to be happy about but I’m pleased that he knew that his tears wouldn’t be ignored by me and he let me love on him without even thinking twice. It’s the little moments like this that reassure me that even when the “honeymoon” is over, we will still be alright. Both boys will be going to the doctor on Tuesday for a well-child visit. I believe this will also get the ball rolling for Jonathan and his PT and OT. I’m antsy to get that going so that I have some idea of what challenges we will be facing. I take comport in the fact that God’s promises are true and it has been abundantly clear that He has been in this process every step of the way. We are so, so blessed!