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Adjusting to the New Normal... and in a New Year!

Posted Jan 01 2011 7:53pm
It's been a busy 3 days home!  Hard to believe that it's already been three days, and yet Michael said "it seems like it's been longer because everything just fell into place and is working."

To say it's been easy would be a HUGE understatement.  After all, we have 8 children ages 8 and under,7 in diapers, 6 with special needs, 4 different types of diets, 3 not walking, 2 that are brand new, and I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be a partridge in a pear tree after all of that.  It's been BUSY.

I shared pictures yesterday of our Christmas celebration, but no time to type along with it.  Mostly because I was exhausted :).  In addition to having the new kiddos, I'm (and they are too) attempting to adjust to the 7 hour time difference!  It generally takes me about 3 days to be functional all day and then another 3-4 days before I'm good to go and back on 'schedule' with eating and waking and sleeping.  This time I've adjusted faster, I stayed awake until about 9 last night (which is like 4am in UA).  Of course that kind of killed any idea of a New Year's celebration, but it is what it is and I was wide awake and going at 4am with Wesley... who thought it was 11 and was ready to be  UP.

I welcomed 2011 in with a crying son at 4am and a simultaneous SMELL of another little boy which brought me from soothing Wesley on to changing Micah's very VERY stinky little bottom and bagging it up and putting it out on the front porch.  Then back to bed for a little bit (Wesley calmed quickly! YAY!) and at 6:30 I was up again and had 7 little people up, toileted, bathed, and dressed by 8 when I pulled Michael out of bed and said "help!" :)  He made breakfast and bottles for the kids while I finished the last of the baths.  Kristopher also decided he wanted a bath, so although I'm sure he didn't WASH and just PLAYED... we accomplished 8 kids' baths today.

After a rush of a morning, the day was nice and relaxed.  After breakfast we opened up the porch and Michael and I started cleaning up Christmas gifts and paper and such that were all over the place.  The living room was littered with little pieces to games and toys that needed to be put together and packaged so that the kids could get them out and play with it then put it away.  We made some good headway in both the Christmas stuff and in paperwork from when I was gone and even from when we both were gone before that.  Then I made a quick lunch of leftovers from our New Year's Eve dinner/Christmas dinner of ham and carrots, corn, and rolls.  The rest of the dinner was gone, but the kids finished off everything except the ham at lunch today.

Micah, James and Lynae still take daily naps, and we've been putting Wesley and Aleksa down as well since they're used to it and it's a good down time for them to be able to adjust to the time difference.  Brianna went tin her room as well (with Wesley) and Emma and Kristopher watched a movie (How to Train Your Dragon) for a bit.  It wasn't long before we peeked in on Brianna and Wesley to discover Brianna playing and doting on him.  Second 'check' she was playing Connect 4 at the table in her bedroom and he was just laying and listening to her jabber.  Third check Michael let them both come out, knowing that any attempt at a nap was fruitless.

I took Emma, Kristopher, Brianna, and Wesley out to the new playset that was a gift from their grandparents for Christmas and we learned that Wesley doesn't like to swing :).  I think it may come in time, but for now it freaks him out :).  Emma and Brianna both love to swing, though, and we moved the "little kids' slide" to a place where we could add the second slide attachment back on it and Brianna was glad to have that.

We came back in and I worked on laundry while Mike did dishes and I also pulled out clothes of different pant sizes for W and A.  Then, Aleksa got to play "fashion show" and she was very glad to try on a few pair of pants.  She even went to the other end of the porch when I asked her to go show Daddy (he was in our bedroom which opens to the porch on the far end) and she patted her pants when he came to see her!  She was so proud to have new clothes!

A little about the new kids and their adjustmentAleksa is sliding in SO well!  She is listening, trying to do what's asked, and generally being sweet to the other kids!  I'm AMAZED!!  We've been very strict with her from the first minute that we had her out of the institution because I was really expecting her to REALLY try her boundaries.  I don't know whether it's because I made such firm boundaries initially or if she just is naturally complacent (um... betting on the first!!) but she's done great with boundaries when they're consistent.  She hasn't cried at the kitchen gate like she had been at the apartment in Ukraine.  She's not tried to run away from us and generally when we call her (and we know she understood...) she has come.  She's learned her "new name" (her bio name was Aleksandra and we changed it to Aleksa.. BUT.. she's only ever been called Sasha and Shura... ).  We still use her nicknames as well, especially if we really need her attention.

Aleksa has been sweet to the other kids and given them toys, shared the few toys we'd given her at the apartment, and will even help them to do things then give the favorite toy back to them!  She has had her toys snatched a few times as well, and she's yelled, but not hit or tried to snatch it back or anything.  Just yelled.  YAY!  She hasn't yelled otherwise, either!  It's been so amazing to see the little "wild animal" that we visited at the orphanage turn into a "daughter" in just a few days!  She knows she's loved and I think she feels that security and is adjusting great!

Aleksa's EATING has come a LONG LONG way!  There's still a ways to go, but she was able to sit down at dinner tonight and I'd cut up mini corn dogs and sweet potato fries for supper.  We let her eat them with her hands (a few kids had them cut and a few whole, so we didn't do forks) and she did AWESOME!  We didn't have to stop her a single time!  At breakfast we were having to give her one bite at a time or she'd stuff it in her face.  At lunch she ASKED before she'd take any bites.  At dinner she ate like she'd had this a thousand times and was used to the routine.  Amazing... seriously, that is ONE day...  Of course there's still much to come, but she has a desire to please, and is really trying to learn what to do.

Tonight we all went on a walk and she walked holding Michael's hand without any difficulty whatsoever.  She hasn't been overly friendly to strangers, except that she would willingly go with anyone.  She hasn't tried to hug and kiss on people or anything of that nature until tonight when we stopped at someone's house on our walk.  We were just standing out in the road and at first she did what she usually does... told them "pakakakakaka" and waved.  When that didn't work (we didn't start walking) she started blowing kisses.  Eventually, after we continued to talk, she ran over and hugged her, then wanted to be picked up and wrapped her legs around our neighbor.  Thankfully, we know this neighbor fairly well and I don't think either one of them minded :).  I was surprised a bit, but of course she has no distinction of a 'friend' and of a family and of a stranger, etc...  I was actually glad to see her react positively to a stranger since most had gotten either a "let's go with you" or a cold shoulder and a "pakakakaka" (paka is bye in Russian, so Paka Paka is a usual goodbye between friends or children).

She appears to be happy, is playing and interacting with us and the kids, and is testing out to see what boundaries are what and listening as we set new ones.  Again-- AMAZING.  God is SO good!!  AND... she's been dry all day today!  She hasn't asked to go to the bathroom, but we usually take the kids several times during the day and she has been dry every time and gone in the toilet.  I'm hoping that she will continue to use the toilet and not her diaper, but I won't be moving her to just underwear until she's been home a few weeks and we've had more outings as well as more BMs that are successfully deposited in the toilet.  Until then, the pull up is a good backup and it's not so hard on her either.

Wesley... he's so sweet :).  Wesley is doing well, though he's had a different set of things to adjust to.  Wesley is used to being HELD.  I know it's strange to even think about, but he was one of the orphanage 'favorites' from the sound of it, and he was the underdog and not expected to live as a baby.  He has had a few times where he's SURE that he's supposed to be held, but it just wasn't possible.  In those instances he's gotten nice and mad, but then gets over it in about 20 seconds once paid attention!  He loves being around the other kids and there was an instant connection between him and Brianna.  She's enjoying having him here already!  And I think he sees her as "safe" whereas James is a bit noisy and wild for him (he's cried when James came over a few times LOL, but James is definitely safe as well- just noisier :) ).

James came to us with an adaptive stroller that he'd used for preschool the previous year, but since he's been walking for several months now, we haven't even touched the stroller.  We pulled it out of the garage on day 1 home and adjusted it for Wesley, and with a few more tweaks here and there, it has provided us a GREAT seating option for him here at the house!  Wesley likes to sit up and be able to see everyone and every thing, but in a stroller he's slumped over and in the infant/toddler rocker that we have which has a 3 pt harness he's practically laying down in it.   The adaptive stroller/wheelchair gets him upright and supports him great!  We are so glad we have it, since normally it would take up to 6 months after coming home to be able to get something with proper support.

Wesley loves to be held and has shown a huge preference toward me than being with anyone else which is a GREAT thing in the 'bonding' world!  Yesterday with all 4 grandparents and Michael here and the other 7 kids... any time I spoke or came near enough for him to see me, he was fussing and wanting to come to me.  Though I admit I was glad when he was happy with someone else for a moment at times, I was glad to know that he's got a preference to mommy than to a stranger and he expressed that (very loudly at times) yesterday.  I didn't mind taking him, of course!

Wesley is also doing much better with bed times.  In Ukraine I had to rock him to sleep every night and sometimes several times DURING the night.  Since coming home we've gotten into a bit of a routine tho it's been only 3 nights.  I put him down in the same way and say the same things and if he cries I'm right back at his side the first several times he cries.  As he's continued to turn on the water works, I'd delay just a little in going in, and eventually sometimes had to let him just cry for a few and get it out of his system so he'd be ready to settle down when I went back in.  Tonight I laid him in bed and did the routine of staying in the room and talking to Kristopher and Brianna a few minutes, turning on music and a small lamp and then left the room and-- no tears!  He did cry when Kristopher went to bed 40 minutes later, but I went in and calmed him and "repositioned" him and he quieted back down.  I left and he didn't start back up.

Both the kids are adjusting SO well!  I'm so glad that things are going well, and I know that God's hand has been on our adjustment.  It will continue to be tough, especially on days when all 8 kids are here with me and Michael's at work.  But these initial days of adjusting are generally the HARDEST (until, of course, the honeymoon is over and the kids decide to let their inner demons come out for a bit... but we'll be ready for that too...).  We are so thankful that our fears are unfounded and that though it's BUSY around here with so many little ones, that God's peace is on it all and we can still sit down at 8pm and say "I'm so glad we've done this all, and I'm glad that it's YOU (our spouse) that I'm doing it with!"

God is good-- ALL the time.  We are blessed and ready for whatever 2011 has for us.  When you stand in the shadow of the cross and look toward God, the fears roll away.  He has it all under control!

Blessings to everyone and I pray you have had an amazing start to 2011!
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