Monday, February 22, 2010

And, She's Back

As unexpectedly as the "hard times" Rosie blew in, she's blown back out. After 8 days of chaos, she got up from her nap on Saturday feeling great and behaving more like the Rosie we had gotten used to-still REALLY busy and excitable, but able to be directed, loving, and obedient (at least part of the time)!

So, what caused the meltdown? I honestly have no idea. Sometimes when Rosie gets into one of these moods, I can eventually find a trigger and we can deal with it. This time, I've racked my brain and still don't know what was going on in her brain. But, whatever it was, she seems to have gotten it out of her system. We had a great evening with friends on Saturday, a really good day yesterday, and a good day today. Yesterday included Sunday School, church, and taking Rosie to a friend's birthday tea party. Normally, that much excitement would make her really hyper and hard to handle, but she took it all in her stride, behaved beautifully, and even though she was tired, was also a good girl at cherub choir last night. Go figure!

While I can't get her to verbalize what she was thinking or feeling (she may not even know), I think she is honestly feeling much better, as not only has her behavior improved, but she spent yesterday and today desperate to cuddle and hug and talk about loving each other and me being her Mommy. I think the last round was hard on her, too.

Still going to do the reading and follow-up so that we can deal with helping ensure her ability to trust and form strong attachments and hopefully see less of "hard times Rosie".

In the meantime, here's a picture from Saturday night. This is Rosie with her two best little buddies, Rachel and Brooke. They had a great time playing "Princess" together.

Brooke is Rosie's best friend. What a pair they make! Brooke's Grandpa calls them Frick and Frack.

I'm grateful for good friends for Rosie and grateful that my sweet girl was back in time to be able to enjoy having friends over.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What I Did Today

Sweets made for my sweet-hearts 41st birthday party.
What a great excuse to spend the afternoon playing in the kitchen!
Dark fudge cake, iced with chocolate buttercream, covered in ganache, piped chocolate buttercream around the edges, and topped with chocolate covered strawberries.
Heaven on a plate!

Have I mentioned, I'm crazy about my husband? It was good to have a special reason to spoil him a little bit today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The good news-Sunshine and dry weather has returned to Oklahoma, if only for a short time. We spent the afternoon making the most of it, playing soccer, throwing frisbees, shooting the rockets, doing sidewalk chalk, and flying kites. The kites were definitely the highpoint of the afternoon.

Just chillin'! Nathan was thrilled to be old enough to fly his own kite. Once he got it flying really well, he just laid back on the ground and smiled. Every couple of minutes, he'd give me a big smile and say, "Mommy, flying a kite is really entertaining, isn't it?" Rosie had a great time, too. It never ceases to amaze me how patient Noah is with her. He happily shared his kite with her, helping he to fly it, and then letting her fly it alone. After having been told approximately 20 times that she must not let go, when Noah let her hold it alone, she let go. In the high winds this afternoon, the kite was instantly gone. And, bless his heart, he didn't say a word or make a single sad face.
Thankfully, we had a kite from Favourite Auntie Keri that Noah was finally big enough to fly, so we brought it out. It was promptly dubbed "The Shrimp".
The Bad-It has been a rough week. The last two months have gone really well. Not perfect, but we were finally seeing a real improvement in Rosie's fierce competition against Nathan, the vomiting at will, and some of the rougher aspects of helping Rosie come to terms with the effects of being an orphaned toddler and the hardships and coping mechanisms that resulted. It really felt that we were nearing the "light at the end of the tunnel". But, Rosie has used the last 8 days to make it very clear that this is not the case. We are most definitely "back in the trenches", dealing with compulsive lying, near-constant whining, excessive excitability, lots of superficially charming behavior with non-family members, extreme competition with her nearest brother, constant demands for attention, manipulating behavior, and on and on and on.
The Ugly-Well, actually, all of the above behavior is ugly. It is tiring and angering and difficult on the whole family. And, as most people outside the family are shown a very different, very endearing side of Rosie, most people have no idea what it's really like right now at home. Having reached a real low-point this week, I was able to arrange an appointment and spent an afternoon on the phone with a counsellor. After talking at length, she believes that we are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Now, this IS NOT a positive certain diagnosis. That would require more time, face-to-face interviews, and testing, but it was what I had become increasingly convinced we were dealing with, and it was both frightening and somewhat relieving to hear someone else actually say the words.
Thankfully, it isn't all ugly. There is good in there, too. Good-Rosie shows some disturbing signs of RAD, but she also shows many positive signs of attachment. The counsellor felt that there was no reason that Rosie shouldn't make excellent progress and a fully "recovery", for lack of a better word. Good-We were given some excellent information, along with direct contact information for a couple of the best therapists in the world who treat the children and families dealing with RAD's fallout. Good-We have been given several new books to read and DVDs to buy that will help with knowing how to deal with Rosie. Better-It was great to talk to someone who understood what was going on and knew what I was feeling without me even having to say it. She was a fellow Christian, who along with practical, "do this"-type advice, also gave sound Biblical wisdom and encouragement. And then, she spent a long time praying for Rosie and our family. Best-It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 22-23 We are NOT facing this alone. Rosie is not facing this alone. We will not be consumed (trust me, that earlier this week I thought I just might....) And, His compassions are new every morning.
I won't go into specifics about how we're going to approach this just yet, as frankly, we aren't sure. For now, we're focusing on lots of prayer, lots of love and touch, consistency, and ensuring that the boundaries are very clear and unchanging. While I had already done a fair bit, there is also a lot more reading and research in my future.
Will you please join us in praying for Rosie? From her birthmother to us, she had 5 different "homes" and caregivers in the space of a year. In at least two of these, she came into them not speaking the same language. For anyone, this would be a very difficult thing. In a very young child it can result in real difficulty being able to trust and form normal attachments. While Rosie has made a good start to this, there is obviously work to do.There is nothing that Satan would like better than to use this to harm her and us. But, God's plans for her are good, as are His plans for us. Please pray that God will work in her heart and mind to show her how much she is loved and give her the ability to trust us completely, and then to learn how to live and interact appropriately in life and relationships.


Dear Grumpy,

If you don't want to see a spoiler before your letter arrives in the mail, then you'd better not look!

Just wanted to get in a picture of Nathan's first letter-writing excursion. He was mighty proud of himself.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Reading Explosion

So, last Tuesday, Nathan read his first words. And, it's just kind of exploded from there. On Sunday he was playing upstairs with his Daddy, when out of the blue he pointed to one of the posters on the playroom wall and said: O-C-T-O-B-E-R, That word says October, Daddy!
Daddy's jaw about hit the floor!

Yesterday, he decided that he wants to write letters. So, he sat down to write a letter to his Grumpy. When he got to some bits he didn't know how to spell, he asked Noah to help him.

He's also decided that he wants to learn about even and odd numbers. I'm kind of letting him set his own agenda for learning right now. We are continuing with phonics and following the Kindergarten math workbooks, but if he expresses an interest in something else, we're going for it.

Looks like Nathan will be reading before he starts Kindergarten! As Gareth likes to put it, "I bet that blesses your Mommy Teacher's heart!" And yes, it does.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

From the Mouth of Nathan - Posted by Daddy

Feb 14th - Sunday Evening.

Nathan to Daddy... Why does my candy have two bits in in?

Daddy: So you can share one with your Valentine.

Nathan: Who is my Valentine?

Daddy: Well who do you love the most?

Nathan: Mommy!

Short time later...

Nathan: Mommy, I'm going to share my candy with you tomorrow!

Daddy thinks: Just as well Sarah is on a sugar free diet because not only will I get Nathan's candy, but I won't have to share my fresh stash of British Candy!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Look Who's Reading!

Two weeks ago, Nathan surprised me by saying, "I don't think I'm EVER going to learn to read".
I told him that I didn't know he wanted to learn to read, but if he did then I'd help him. His response, "Well, if I don't know how to read, then how can I know what those books say".

We checked out a new load of books from the library, and they have particularly amused him. His new favorite is "Officer Buckle and Gloria", and we have read it over and over and over and over......

So, starting last week, I began to put some real time into teaching him his phonics. And, on Tuesday Nathan sat and read his first words.
We put a jelly-bean down by each word he read correctly, and that made it even more fun!
Today was Nathan's third day reading, and he read the following words with no help: bad, bag, ban, bat, can, cap, cat, dad, Dan, fan, fat, rat, sat, pat, mat, Mom, moss, and with just a little help, egg.

Just made me smile all over. Moments like these make all of the homeschool hard work so worthwhile. I would be so sad if I had missed this moment.

Now, he's desperate to start Math, so we began his Kindergarten math workbooks today, and he spent some time with the clock manipulatives trying to figure out how to tell time.

So, so proud of my little man!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

From the Mouth of Nathan

We had hot dogs for lunch yesterday (Yeah, I know, I'm a bad mother allowing my children to eat an occasional nitrate-laden processed meat, but they LOVE them, and it is only occasionally).

Anyhow, Noah and Nathan decided they wanted chili dogs. When I put them together and saw those hot dogs covered in chili and cheese, I decided that a fork and knife were probably in order.

Nathan is just beginning to be allowed to use a fork to cut his own meals. He makes hard work of it! About half-way through trying to cut up his chili dog, the bun wasn't cooperating, and the hot dog was sliding around. He looked at it very indignantly and said, "You hot dog. You're just not cooperating. You're heinous, that's what you are, a heinous hot dog."

Definition of heinous: hateful, odious; abominable; totally reprehensible. Okay, well, we probably need to work on the definition a bit more with him, but it does make me smile to hear my 4-year old learning and trying to use big words!

It's Hard To Play Card Games with Children Who Cannot Understand What A Poker Face Is

Bob the Builder Goes Ethiopian

We love Bob with a British accent and have learned to enjoy Bob with an American accent. I wonder how Bob would sound speaking Amharic?

The Court Jester

Nathan wandered out of his bedroom this morning, looking like this:
He wanted to know if he looked like a court jester. And yes, he is wearing his jeans on his head and his shirt on his legs. Only Nathan!

Scenes from a Winter Snowstorm

With loads of snow expected and very cold temperatures, it was deemed that Inky was TOO old a lady to have to brave it in the garage, so she was given a temporary home on a blanket in the house. I'm not sure who was happier, Nathan or Inky.
I love a fire in the fireplace! Too bad they make such a mess or I'd have one every night.
As always, Sophie found some cozy spots to sleep away the storm. It freaked me out the first time I wandered into the boys' room and one of the stuffed animals sat up and looked at me!

All prepared for power outages.
This was the first time I let the kids collect snow to make snow ice cream.
They LOVED it.

Even Sophie got some.

6 inches and counting. In all, we ended up with 8 inches.
The icicles were amazing. They did a pretty good job of making jailbars over our back windows.

Did I mention Rosie loves snow?

Sledding down the driveway

View from the back of our house

There was a coating of ice over everything.
Once it started melting a bit so that it fell off, we found some funny shapes.

Nathan thought he was going to take Daddy by surprise and knock him into the snow. But, Nathan was the one who ended up in the snow.

The snow wasn't much good for making snowmen, a little too icy. So, we had to settle for making a tiny snow family on the front porch using icicle tips for arms and permanent marker to put on eyes, mouth, and buttons. Thankfully, Rosie was placated with these. She has a snowman obsession.
The kids were loving the icicles that were taller than they were.

Some views from our first venture out of the neighborhood.

It had been years since Gareth and I had sat and done a puzzle together. Now that the kids are a bit older, we managed to do this 1000 piece one. It was our first Photomosaics puzzle, and I LOVED it. 1000s of tiny pictures combined into a mosaic to make one big picture.

Did Imention? It's hard to be a pussycat in a snowstorm!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Balm for a Mommy's Tired Heart

Last week was one of those weeks. It had snowed so much the week before, the weather was still cold, it rained, the ground is absolutely sodden, and so the kids didn't really get to play outside.

In my world, this is a recipe for disaster. Nathan and Rosie NEED to be outside. There is just soooooo much energy in those two, and when you put them together it multiplies. So, by the end of this week, I was exhausted and more than a little fed up.

Rosie has made lots of progress, but life can still be pretty frustrating at the minute. She still has such a hard time listening and obeying. Sometimes it's intentional disobedience because she doesn't want to (or she's mad), but more often than not, she's simply so BUSY and hyper that even if you: get down eye to eye, tell her very plainly what she needs to do, ask her to repeat it to you, check that she understands the instructions, remind her of the consequence for disobedience, and then send her off to do it, she won't end up doing it. She'll get distracted, decide she doesn't want to, forget what she was supposed to be doing, etc, etc, etc..... And, instead of obeying, she just winds up turning into a small, Ethiopian tornado and leaving destruction and chaos in her path.

This is better on the days when I can send her outside for a couple of hours to play in the backyard. Better for me, because I get a little break. Better for her, because it gives her the ability to wear off some of that huge excess of energy. But, given the weather, that didn't happen last week, or the week before for that matter.

So, yesterday afternoon, I was tired and dreading the beginning of another week of cold and snow and hyperactive children (Did I mention that it is snowing again as I type?).

Then, as we were driving to a friends' home for our Sunday evening small group, something happened that warmed my heat and has re-energized me for the week to come. As we pulled up in their driveway, I turned around to remind Rosie of expected behavior for the evening. She sat and looked at me while I talked then said, "Okay, Mommy". Then she said, "You my Mommy. I like it you my Mommy" and gave me a big hug and kisses all over my cheeks. Definitely a balm for this Mommy's tired heart, and just what I needed to give me hope and courage to be the Mommy to the many mini house-bound munchkins for another week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Practical Way To Support Adoption

If you are a regular visitor to our blog, then you will probably have noticed the button on the left in support of The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act of 2009, H.R. 213.

The Adoption Tax Credit, enacted by President Bush, allowed for families who adopted children to re-claim up to $12,000 of their expenses when filing taxes. For families like us, knowing that we could re-claim that amount of money was what made it possible for us to take out the loan to complete our adoption. Without it, we could not have adopted Rosie, and for many if not the vast majority of other adoptive families, the same is true.

Unfortunately, the Adoption Tax Credit is due to expire in December this year. President Obama has stated that he will not renew it, but last January, H.R. 213, The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act of 2009 was introduced to Congress. This bill would ensure that the Adoption Tax Credit remains available to adoptive families. But, as with most bills introduced, this bill was sent to committee and hasn't gone anywhere since then. Most bills that are sent to committee will simply die there, having never actually made it to the floor for a chance to be heard or voted on.

This bill is of VITAL importance for the future of international adoption. Would you please take a few minutes out of your time to speak up for adoptive families and the children who wait for a family? It only takes a few minutes to write, email, or call your senators and congressmen.
Write your U.S. Representative
Write your U.S. Senator

This bill currently sits with the House Ways and Means committee, so if you have a Senator who sits on this committee, your input is especially vital.

Please, please, please take a few minutes to check out this legislation and to then contact your congressmen. And, if you have a blog or e-mail network, please feel free to pass along this information.

Of all the things our tax $$$$ go to support, I can think of none more worthy than making adoption a possibility for families and the children who wait for them.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Please pardon my blog if it is somewhat of a mess this week. I'm getting brave and going to try to give my blog a 3-column makeover. Editing HTML code=very scary nightmare, even if I do have instructions to walk me through it.

Anyhow, things may be a mess for a week or so while I figure out what I'm doing and try to take a few minutes here and there to make it work.