Monday, December 23, 2013

First Week Home Highlights

After arriving home we finally managed to get everyone to bed (with the help of melatonin gummies) around 2am, and Brian headed off to work bright and early 5 hours later! I went from 3 kids and 3 adults to 3 kids and 1 adult. Gulp. Nothing like jumping right in. Thankfully the kids slept late. I woke up M and C at 11:30, L got up on her own around 10:45. It made for a rather short and easy morning! I could tell poor Lily was feeling a little scared and unsure. She went from a curious and independent explorer in China to the quiet, withdrawn, and clingy girl of our first few days with her. She also went back to sleeping on me, but apparently our bed is way more comfortable and my back didn't hurt so I didn't mind. She also backtracked a little with Brian and didn't really want much to do with him. We did manage to meet him for our traditional Monday lunch at Subway. The kids were a little confused since I was calling their sandwiches lunch but it was really their breakfast. I mean, if you can have breakfast for dinner why can't you have lunch for breakfast? Makes perfect sense! Now I must say that getting three kids out the door in a timely fashion is definitely going to be a goal that I will be working toward. However, for my first outing alone I managed to have clothes on all three kids, and 2/3 with shoes. But I did not manage to bring my phone. No big deal, except that our 12:15 lunch date was quickly turning into a 12:30 lunch date, and I was sitting by myself in Subway with all three kids and no way to call Brian to see if he was actually coming. Finally at 12:45 he walked in the door. Hi honey, I'm out! No, we actually did eat lunch together and then took our weekly walk down the sidewalk to throw rocks in what used to be a pond but is now a dried up mess of weeds. M and C don't seem to mind as long as they get to throw stuff. Typical. Lily started to come back out of her shell a bit, and decided to walk with us and then slightly ahead of us or behind us, depending on what was piquing her curiosity. We came back home and the kids had fun showing Lily the toys in her room and playing with their toys that they hadn't seen in two weeks. We obviously skipped naps, although I really could have used one!

We were very fortunate not to experience much jet lag. Lily and Matthew switched their schedules right away, and Caroline was the only one who was waking up at 2am for the first 3 nights. Although I must say, she did that before China on occasion. And I'm not sure if it was the jet lag or just the fact that she was used to sleeping the same room with my mom and Matthew the whole time and didn't want to be alone. Overall, everyone was sleeping at the right times. I just felt like I needed a whole lot more sleep than I was getting! I definitely missed out on a lot when we were in China. This resulted in many incoherent sentences, misplaced objects, and I'm pretty sure I lost some brain cells permanently.

One of the reasons I really wanted to travel over Thanksgiving was because Matthew would only miss 2 weeks of school total. If we traveled before or after or close to Christmas, he'd be off for those holidays plus 2 more weeks. Yes, I realize that he is in preschool and that him missing school is not going to be detrimental to his academics or education. That's not why I was concerned. Last year he liked school until about November when he missed several weeks due to illness, then cried every day and the rest of the year was a struggle. Needless to say I did not want to repeat that. So, praise God, we were able to travel over Thanksgiving and he only missed 2 weeks total. We talked about going back, he was excited to go back and see his friends, he practically skipped down the hallway, and then when he entered his classroom and all his friends were talking to him and looking at him and excited to see him, he started crying and didn't want to go. Lovely. Here we go again. Thankfully he has a wonderful teacher who took care of him, even though she had to hold him back from following me to the car, and he was fine a few hours later. Turns out he just got shy with everyone staring at him. Now he's fine. Lily seemed to have no problem with people looking at her and welcoming her and giving her attention. She just smiled at them all and hit herself on the head. You know, her standard greeting. Thank you again Matthew.

Another reason I really was hopeful for Thanksgiving travel was so that we'd be back in time to see Matthew and Caroline's Christmas program at school. Yes, I know that makes me a crazy mom. I don't care! Thursday night our family all joined us for the show. Now if you'll remember, getting three kids ready and arriving on time is still a challenge. I managed to get Caroline into her sweater dress (which we strategically call a shirt because she hates dresses) and leggings. It only resulted in a 15 minute screaming fit this time. Matthew was wearing a costume so I didn't worry about changing his clothes from school. We were still late. I walked Matthew up and his class was already heading out the door to the sanctuary. Then I realized that even though they were wearing costumes, that was only for part of the show. They were wearing their clothes for the last song. All the kids were wearing button down shirts or sweater vests and pants or dresses. Matthew was wearing his motorcycle shirt, athletic shorts, and blue crocs. Oh, and he was also wearing his medal from climbing the Great Wall that he had just gotten back from Baba. Awesome. Yes, I was that mom. So the show starts and when Matthew's class comes out they are all dressed as angels or shepherds. They were adorable. And then out walks Matthew with his medal over his costume. It was priceless and by far my favorite thing. Caroline's class came out to sing Jingle Bells and Away in a Manger (or what she calls the Jesus Sweet Head song). Even though she knows every word by heart and sings it all the time, she didn't utter a word up there. Actually none of the kids did. I think they were preoccupied with everyone staring at them. She did have fun shaking her jingle bells though! Lily was great the whole time. She really seems to enjoy music and happily ate her Cheerios and stood at my feet. The only sounds she made were happy sounds and giggles. After the program we enjoyed some cookies and juice. Lily took off walking all over the room. I think she was just making sure that no one took her cookie from her. Brian followed after her, and for the first time she let my dad play with her and hold her too! Of course it only lasted until she saw me, so they kept her up in the front of the sanctuary for a bit. It's so much fun to see her personality coming out again!

We got our Christmas tree this week! Not sure it was the smartest move, since Lily just likes to undecorate it constantly. But the kids did have fun finding the ornaments that weren't breakable to put on the tree. I just have to plan on having at least 5 ornaments on the ground at all times. Matthew and Caroline were so cute decorating it. They like to put the ornaments on the very tips of the branches, and definitely do not limit each branch to one ornament. The bottom branches are already losing lots of needles due to the frequency of ornaments being put on and taken off. Check out all the ornaments Matthew put on one branch below. And photo credits are shared with Matthew here, Brian wasn't home! He's a pretty good photographer!

So here's the adoption/Lily update. At the beginning of the week it was pretty rough. I felt like I had absolutely no time to do anything, just like it was the first few days in China. I had to go to bed when she did, which basically meant that I didn't really get to see Brian at all. Plus he was working longer hours to make up for the 2 weeks he missed. He'd basically come home, we'd eat dinner, give the kids a bath, have a little play time, then I'd put Lily to bed and that would be it for the night. The people that brought us dinner that week were such lifesavers. I have no idea how I would have cooked anything. During the toughest moments I couldn't help but think how much easier it was just having 2 kids, and I prayed that God would give me an overflow of love to give to my kids. As the week went on, Lily felt more and more like my daughter and just fit right into our family. My love for her progressed from loving her through my actions to loving her with my emotions as well. She opened up to Brian again and allowed him to put her to bed at night which freed me up to take care of things in the evening. I started to feel like a real human again! She started to feel safe and comfortable in our house and would sit and play or wander around the rooms. She still preferred me and would get upset if I was holding Matthew or Caroline, but she was returning to her curious independent self. Friday was a big milestone day for us. I took all three kids to Walmart by myself! Then by Friday night I actually left all the kids with Brian and ran a 5K! We have really come far in a week.

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