Saturday, August 30, 2014

Much over due!

We are now celebrating our three year anniversary with Sam and July 7th was our one year family-versary for Kidist. We are doing really well. We have had our challenges this last year- and have really come out on top. I have invested a great deal of time and energy tried my best with work- having been given the opportunity to help with the development of some wonderful and innovative charter schools. In the end, I am now a new administrator of a really unique Chinese/Mandarin immersion school. Sam has also had some issues with his academic growth and development. Yet we are dealing with them as best as we can. We have had a really great OT who does work with his legs and his sensory issues at his school. We have fine tuned medication for him and hes behaving wonderfully. We have had wonderful trips to see family in Ohio and Florida.We have also spent a great deal of time at Carowinds and different fun camps this summer. Gabe is doing wonderfully- in the midst of Pokemon Fever! Kidist has been such a happy and healthy girl- who is super sweet and social- making friends so easily.  She is also always asking about having a sister- ha! She  has proven to be a super talented soccer player. We had bone scans and dental exams for both....and we have some decisions to make with their ages. These results are somewhat revealing...showing Sam to actually be a bit younger and Kidist to be older. So we have been able to talk with our social worker, other adopted parents and with Sam and Kidist specifically. There is a high probability ages will be altered- Sam is excited to be "be 6 again" he says over and over, and is repeating 5K anyway. Kidist has often told us she is much older, even as old as ten. The more she is able to communicate about her past, the more we wish to honor it. She will officially be ten in January. I am not certain how I feel about them being further apart in age, but I do think its the best thing. Kidist and Gabe seem much more developmentally close, and have such a highly competitive streak, that its almost cute :)
Ok photo dump!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

How long has it been?

well i am finally coming up for air....these last two months have been a whirlwind of school, stress, medical issues, new work issues, works conferences, Disney trips, parent visits, school conferences, john being out of town. Its been a roller coaster - Our school year started off with a rough start....we are still very much in that rough start , but its getting easier. Gabe had some issues transitioning to his new classwork routines- with extra homework, more things to be responsible for. However he really did shine brightly with his peers, socially speaking. He began an Pokemon club, joined the steel drum band, and has made some new friends. His grades aren't where we want them to be, but he is really having to adjust to a great deal . Kidist has been the one child to have a seamless transition- she does great in school, loves her teacher, loves the staff- has so many friends, helps with the babies, gives everyone hugs all the time. Her health is great, her adjustment has been really good and she is just thriving. Theres some issue with a prescription injection we need for her- but we are trying to work that out with insurance. Sam continues to be challenged by sensory issues that have reared their ugly heads. He had the roughest start of everyone- but still has a zest and love for going to school. He just gets so very worked up when he lacks control of the activities or the routine changes. We have found an OT who is adept to sensory issues, as is the asst principal. They are working with him at least twice a week- the OT comes to the school. Also, we have also cut out wheat, artificial dyes, take 2400 mg of omega fatty acids, and Sam is also taking 10 mg of Focaline. Its been a good change...hes making progress, we are working out kinks, there are side effects we have to deal with (like lack of appetite and weird leg/head aches late in the afternoon). But hes making improvements and is more focused and mentally engaged with his work and surroundings. Today we went to a birthday party- and had a cupcake (wheat,) with a good amount of colored frosting and two cups of bright red Hawaiian punch. He has not had these things, especially all at once, in 6 or 7 weeks. For the two hours that followed this concoction- he zipped around, running like a maniac, jumped like a wild man on the trampoline, then  proceeded to try and wrestle and fight Gabe- getting very worked up- clawing up Gabe's arms and legs. When I had to begin dealing with this issue- Sam proceeded to have one of the biggest melt downs I have ever seen from him...starting off really sad- sobbing,, then banging things, then banging his head on the bench at the table.... I had to put him in my bed with pillows around the floor to keep him safe. He flailed around yelling and throwing his body against the bed, then would sit up , then throw himself back went on for 30 minutes. This would have been right around when his focaline wore off and the birthday party crap concoction kicked in. I hate seeing him like this but i find it encouraging to have proof of what causes this.....i care for four children, two home grown and two habeshas- and he is the only one with such drastic sensory issues and food sensitivities. So ...our life is a bit messy right now....we tend to have a good grasp on it all- and of course there is more 'good' than 'challenging'- we are making it through. All the staff at Sams new school says things to him like "you are gonna make it...we are keeping you are so smart, you belong here"- ....which is good to hear, given that the first two weeks included Sam fleeing the classroom several times daily, climbing under tables, throwing chairs and just outright refusal to comply with anything.....we are working on it all- every day.
I am sharing all of this, not to be a mom who intending to share TMI about her son from a hard place- but so that other families walking this same road know there are others here along for the journey. Sam has been home two years and we see new challenges often- The attachment is there, the love is there, but we work every day on patience and understanding. And you know if we have issues with patience and understanding, then his teachers must certainly have issues too....

Saturday, August 24, 2013

hows attachment going- and who is that girl giving everyone hugs?

So school has begun and other than not liking to be woken up in the morning at all (grumpiest ever) Kidist is having lots of fun with school. Sam is doing really well too- he is an early rise. Gabe is making a somewhat difficult transition into the world of personal responsibility. At his old school the teachers aide would literally put all the homework worksheets/reading in each and every child's binder for open it up and do it all ...and go around and check behind if they forgot. Not so ith three different teachers, plus electives here in the 4th grade. Gabe is forgetting things left and right- then having major freak outs and looking for someone to blame. So we have had several talks about being personally responsible and just trying to remember "hey do I have everything I need? If not, what do I need to do?" I had him say that question this morning, outloud, on the way to the car for a fencing work shop...we realized a day long fencing workshop DID need a lunch and his fencing bag....all which Gabe left in the house. He then gets uber frustrated and stomps around when he has to go back and get something....wooooweeee buddy- this is your deal now.
Anyhow. I wanted to touch on attachment with K because we are now starting to see some behaviors that make me worry a little. I am with her much of the time, i am the limit setter, the referee with the brother, the buyer of most things, the consequence giver (mainly to Sam but she sees it), and the driver to school and doctors. So i seem to be more authoritarian in her eyes and likely less of a "friend". K has always been a hugger, and up to a few weeks ago she would hug me all the time too. That has ceased to be the case unless i approach her. However we will spend an extra three minutes at the end of each day for her to hug teachers, Sams K5 aide, the assistant principal and even the secretary each day. She jumps into Johns arms at the end of the day and asks him to carry her around (which is a good sign and likely something she needs)- However she gets bitter with me when i have her take her plates to the sink, require she keep her bedroom door open, and . She also loves to go every where at church, running from room to room for hugs, but when i need her to sit in one area so our church meeting/ orientation can take place- she glares at me with such a pissed off attitude. So i am not sure what to do. I know i should likely look for more times to just have fun and be her friend instead of being more authoritarian i am looking for opportunities/ideas for that - which can accompany an often whiney and impulsive 5 year old

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A very full world over here

Wow Kidist has been home a month already and we have just been in a whirlwind of activities, work, play dates, doctors appointments, school visits, swimming and playing. I have been working part time, taking Kidist in with me to work. However when she sees the boys going to camps/pre-school she was upset that she couldn't go too. So last week we enrolled her into the Edventure 'Spa Science' camp. It turned out that two girls from our UU congregation were going, plus a third was there but in a different camp. Kidist had such a great time. This week 'gee-maw' and Papa Mike are visiting. We have been swimming a lot this summer- and Kidist has basically taught herself to swim. She decided last Saturday -no more vest.  Its amazing to watch how comfortable she is in the water. Sam is like a fish as well- its great for his legs, sensory issues and to expel lots of energy.
Kidist and Sam are continuing to get along very well- but not too fake. She sets limits for him and has to reign him in- which is very typical. She is not bonding much with Gabe. Hes older and a boy and seems out of her realm of interest....but he does she her stuff like handstands and how to do flips in the water. She loves Brave but has been asking for Cinderella. I am not sure where she was exposed to Cinderella- but she kept asking and asking. My mom bought her a Cinderella doll two days ago and I got her the movie. She has a bit of an obsession...especially when she saw in the DVD case a little brochure about going to Disney and meeting the princesses....she jumped up and showed it to me. Yikes!
She is excited about school and asks about it nearly every day. I had to go out of my way to find people to tell her, in Amharic, that her camp was not school (i wish it were, baby!) School starts early here- August 19th. She will be in the 2nd grade :) Sam will be joining her at the same school, but in Kindergarten and Gabe will be at a near by public elementary in 4th schools for everyone. Anxiety for me
Kidist's English is coming along well, but I really do not want her to loose her Amharic so I try and find weekly chances for her to use it.
I am trying to find time to update the blog- but I have been working for the developing charter school and Sustainable Carolina- plus being a mommy to three, sometime four kids! Its been a bit crazy, but in a good way. Kidist also loves her dad.... which is great. Kidist and Sam will be at the Little Gym this year for dance and tumbling. We are all pretty excited! * I don't have as many pictures of Gabe because he alternates between his dads house and ours in the summer- so he is not around as much....and when he is, he is usually hiding and playing on the Kindle or Slate!


Monday, July 15, 2013

joys and concerns

At my church we do a frequent activity called 'candles of community' in which people from the community, church members etc come up and light a candle in the name of some significant joys and concerns in their lives.
I dont go up too often, but felt the urge to put them here.

Countless shrieks and giggles from two little Ethiopian children who seem like they grew up together- the instant love is amazing and i hope it never fades
A husband who is supportive and patient with me and the children, a fun dad that specifically goes out of his way to make sure he spends some one on one time with each child.
Two glasses of wine- right now there are two on the table next to me....i poured one and because John is always to attentive, he poured me one....not realizing - woo hoo
The sheer excitement of a little boy so overjoyed it wasnt raining that he ran to the pool and jumped in, with his socks on!!!!
My work- i love researching and developing curriculum and managing education research/projects for our local schools and charter school development
My animals- my beautiful tortoise has a new outside 'habitat' and my doggies all love one another.
My fearless new daughter who even during times of slight concern, digs her heels in and stays present, with us and engaged with our family. She could shut down out of grief and fear and even though she is likely feeling those things, she has remained 'with us' and willing to experience anything.
Our new schools for this upcoming year

Raising a son of color in a post Trayvon Martin verdict world
My Lula dog- she is loosing sight, hearing and i think a bit of dementia is setting in :(
My kitchen floor- really it sucks, its horrible, it needs to be rescued
My dissertation proposal, or rather my lack of a dissertation proposal
Developing a new charter school amid weird school politics
Our children's academic futures

Saturday, July 13, 2013

so many new things

whew most days have been so busy with family and resettling here, settling Kidist in, that at the end of the day we feel like we have run a marathon. All of us are really giving it 110% to family time, engaging Kidist in new experiences while at the same time trying to keep her world small. She seemed eager to meet some little girls her age- but only was able to hang out with some for a short time at the water park before rain set in. John has been home all week except for Friday. We have been busy- kids museum, pool, small water park, playing games here with Sam, Gabe and Ross. She likes video games, and Gabe has been trying to show her the Wii- shes getting good with certain Wii Fit games. We have not called her sister yet, but plan to very soon. She prays in Amharic and at times sings in Amharic- but has been trying to mimic Sam and Gabes words. This girl knows how to go to bed. As soon as she sees thats what we are all doing, she gets her dolls ready on her bed, gets changed and before we know it, is often laying down awaiting good-night hugs. Today we had a former student of mine come to do her hair. She loves getting her hair done. Food- she tried any and everything, but is not gorging or hoarding. She will often clean her plate and get more but in a very non-aggressive way. However, when it comes to certain snacky items she will go through the kitchen at will and pull out any food that looks interesting. We have child doors on the larger cabinets but the fridge gets open from time to time. Drinking from a straw at the guest house and at restaurants has been a new novel fun thing for her- so much so that she has been known to drink up ketchup with a straw. She gets along great with Sam but just today I have started to see a bit of rivalry or testy-ness with Gabe. It may be brought on by him, a bit, because he gets overly territorial/argumentative over most everything, so she could be reacting to him a bit. He sees little value in giving of his time or effort unless we specifically tell him when and what to do.This has caused significant strife with Sam and I fear it may cause issues with Kidist. But at this moment i have put them both on the Wii, without disruptions of me, Sam or John and they are doing well together. Of course I am in the very same room. We are making sure not to let her too far from us even if shes with a brother.
I was re-reading a post on another blog I follow about attachment and some guest posts from another blogger about older-child adoption (the challenges, unknowns and positives). This time it does feel lots different than with Sam- but theres good and challenging 'different'. The good- shes able to really relate to Sam and Gabe in great ways, is responsible, able-bodied and can take care of many of her needs. She has a great memory of her language, culture and history and values singing and praying in her language. She is ahead of where we thought she would be as far as school skills goes. NO POTTY TRAINING! The challenges- since she is not small and in casts (like Sam)- there lack of physical contact. We would hold and hug Sam all the time and now we have to try make opportunities for that. She has a big personality that can exude lots of confidence but at the same time it make be a mask for not letting us in on a deeper level (which I totally understand). She and Sam both have complicated histories- both spent years in institutions and/or not living in a traditional family structure. Luckily both have taken to John in a big way- which I am so so thankful for. Kidist and Sam both just seem to exude so much joy when they are experiencing fun and exciting things- little trepidation. However, when they do not get what they want, they both show it- Sam more so than Kidist. Next week will bring changes- Gabe will be at his dad's house, Sam will be back at his pre-school/day care and John will be at work. It will be just me and K, and at times going to work for little bits at a time. Wish us luck!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

blue birds hotel, Kidist and Fruit ninja

i have so much to say and explain and describe about my very eventful embassy trip. We are home! Kidist is resilient, beautiful, creative and artistic little girl who has been so brave, and really extended herself to embrace her new family. She has timid moments, but they are few. Sam is so in love with his new big sister and Gabe has embraced being a big brother to a little girl who is much more patient, calm and attentive compared to Sam. I stayed at the Blue Birds hotel instead of the Horizon House Guest house. The guest rooms are not ready and at this time they are likely choosing a different direction and using the rooms who would have been a guest room for older children's games/learning. I had Wifi but only had my Kindle- which does not have an app that I can use for Blogger :( I will type more as the thoughts come and my mind is not like mashed potatoes. I have tons of Facebook, so i will get some pictures up here.

Kidist mastered some games on my Kindle- one being Fruit Ninja :)

She is brave and excited- loves her dolls and will patiently be 'taught' chess by Gabe, while also spending time wrestling and tickling Sam....beautiful girl.
Selfie- day one !

Love this was across from my hotel

Dressed up for embassy :)

Kidist took this picture- I gave her this doll right before we went to a traditional dinner. 
Baby Princess Tiana came along!

So beautiful right before the coffee ceremony

Just landed in DC!!!

Wasting time, 3 hour layover in Dulles!!

Lounging on our first morning together

Not a great picture but her smile shines thru!!!