3 weeks home

I know a few faithful and persistent friends have requested more blog updates.  😉  Part of it is just pure exhaustion and part of it is that I don’t even know where to start to document all the moments and emotions and setbacks and successes.  I’ll just say–it’s a very complicated time!

First, the simple stuff.  Trent spent some bonding time with Asher at the swimming pool and I took the big kids to see BRAVE with my folks.

 The red curly hair comparison was not lost on Syd.  She asked that morning if I would make her hair look like the Brave girl.  I tried to poof it a little more than usual.  🙂
 We really liked the movie, although there was a couple intense scenes with a scary bear.  It’s not my fave Pixar movie, but I did really enjoy it and will definitely buy it for our family movie library.  I liked the humor and the dynamics of the relationship between the heroine and her mother.  I’m not what I would call a feminist, but I can appreciate that in this movie, the princess did not need a prince to come to her rescue or even to come at all for the story to be complete.  She had an adventurous, wild spirit and it was really easy to get wrapped up with her in her quest to be free of restraining tradition.  Plus, it was just plain fun to have the main character look so much like my daughter!
Several months ago, Aunt Tara brought these shirts back from Universal Studios in Orlando. We finally got them out last week and they were a huge hit!  This pic is a little blurry, but it’s still my favorite.

Asher NEEDS a bath every night after dinner, and often after lunch.   The kids argue over who gets to be in there with him, so sometimes I just surrender to the drenched bathroom and let them all pile in.  Hilarity and maternal frustration ensue.

I love watching Asher watch his siblings.  They are so un-self-conscious about life, and he is enthralled.

So, it’s been three weeks since we flew home and I think I can no longer blame my tiredness on the jetlag.  🙂  I will just blame it on the transition to three kids.  It’s kinda kicking my butt!  This was a text conversation yesterday.
Trent: Hows the day going.
Me:  WHY ARE THEY ALL SO WHINEY AND NEEDY?!?!?!
Before I continue my complaint, let me also say that having the three of them together is such a highlight of this season.  A friend asked me to bullet points the best and worst of the last month, and the first thing I said for “best” was having my three kids together under one roof.  The big kids are still in honeymoon (most of the time) with Asher and love him like crazy.  When it comes to him, they are quick to help, slow to anger and full of ideas.  When it comes to the rest of life, howeverlet’s just say school starts Wednesday, September 5th, but who’s counting?
It seems that I have several moments throughout the day when all three children are needing me.  Usually in different ways and different places.  This morning we were getting ready to have some friends over for a playdate.  Carson decided to engage in a very ambitious light-saber-themed craft project that needed lots of adult supervision and help (and the type of supplies provided on his PBSkids shows, but that we do not have around, like yards of PVC pipe), while Sydney was in the middle of an off-the-charts screaming, crying meltdown.  Both my bio kids have supersensitive skin and some sensory issues (Carson’s were also heightened during preschool age).  If something on Sydney’s body is itchy or hurting, THE. WORLD. STOPS.  No solutions or lotions I offer seem to help, no amount of coaxing or bribing can convince her to continue dressing and stop writhing around nude on the bathroom floor or hyperventilating in the tub, which if often where I put her in attempts to soothe.  So I was dashing back and forth between them, as they both were screaming the same thing: MOM! I NEED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! and meanwhile, the child who probably TRULY needs my attention the most is perfectly happy spraying an entire $10 bottle of sunscreen out onto my bedspread, and pouring my coffee all over himself whilst pooping his diaper.  (Don’t fret, it was lukewarm, because it takes me 3 hours to finish a cup.) (The coffee, not the poop you smart alecks.)
I feel a little ridiculous for being so whiney about this all, considering I have many friends who have four or more children and I know it can be done.  Maybe they just have a lot of coffee-stained children and unfinished craft projects.  My friend (whose presence with an iced skinny caramel machiatto was SO VERY APPRECIATED this morning after the aforementioned circus, thank you Christy!) asked how my emotional health was, and I felt I could confidently tell her I’m doing OK.  I’m surprised that THIS (transition to three with one being a newly adopted toddler) is harder than I thought it would be.  Each day I feel far from balanced and together, but even dealing with the attachment stuff with Asher, I feel like God is protecting my heart and I don’t feel blue or sad or helpless.  I feel like we have a long journey ahead of us, but our family really seems complete to me. It seems RIGHT. I feel like that journey will continue to progress steadily and someday my complaints will be the same, but different and it won’t be a surprise to me any longer.
I just realized that whole paragraph was full of the words “I FEEL.”  Ha!  Oh, brother. Dear diary….
OK, I know most of you are curious about Asher!  Overall, he is doing great.  He is a fun and happy little guy, silly and very smart. I see signs of attachment, especially with me as the primary caregiver, increasing daily.  I’ve been reading up again on exercises we can do to build the bond and connect more.  I focus a LOT on eye-contact with him.  It’s so great to have the kids around, but our best moments are when the two of us are alone.  When I hug him, he hugs back, and same with kisses usually.  But we have a long way to go.  I think the little details that are contrasted between a newly adopted toddler and a securely attached todder are the most interesting to me.    For instance, when I pick Asher up, he doesn’t fight me, but he doesn’t “hold me back.”  Know what I mean?  He never hangs his arm around my shoulder or even leans his body towards mine.  He’s like a chunky little ragdoll, just deadweight in my arms–if anything he’s leaning away.  Although he often responds to his name inside the house by turning his head, if his back is to me, he does not come to me or turn around when I call to him…using either or both of his names.  When we are in public, he is still a major flight risk.  He often wakes up at night crying hard, asking for “mae” which is what he called his foster mother.  🙁
Asher has been doing great with meeting so many new people.  We are sticking with a “high-five” policy for friends and family, asking that they hold off on the hugs for a little while longer.  He gladly says “Hi” and “Bye-bye” to anyone and everyone.  He’s silly and charming and smiley when we spend time with others.  Which is great!  Unless it’s not.  I think the exaggerated version of this is the toddler reaching out to be held by any kind-looking stranger in the store, and it’s called “mommy shopping.”  I wouldn’t say he’s to that point, but I am conscious of kind of keeping him close and reinforcing that “I am Mommy, this is Daddy, we’re here to stay, you will never go to live with anyone else.”  But of course I’m delighted than our family is getting to know Asher and that he’s not completely shy of everyone.
The hardest part of this transition for me has been the face-dunked-in-cold-water shock of having a wild toddler boy in the house.  He is like a bull in a china shop, and I am having to re-align my expectations constantly!   If it can be torn, he will tear it; broken, he will break it; spilled, he will spill it, etc.    I think his behavior is mostly very normal curious toddler activities, coupled with grieving behavior (ie: “my life is so out of control, I am going to do something within my control, even if that means I will chew up my food and spit it out all over the floor”) and also just testing the boundaries of his new home to see where they are!  But this leaves me in a constant battle during the day of tempering my corrective interactions and our positive interactions.  I’ve had to verbalize some of this internal dialogue with the big kids, when they complain, for instance, that he is dumping out the blocks AGAIN when we just picked them up.  There are so many things that are off limits for Asher, and so many times we have to say “no-no” that even though this is annoying, it’s not hurting anyone or against the rules, so we’re gonna let him go ahead and dump them out again.  And why don’t we just play with them again too? 
Something that is very often brought to my mind is how earthly adoption parallels my spiritual adoption.  And how this adoption has opened my eyes to how powerful and great God’s love for us truly is.  This is so deep and REAL to me right now that I would need a clearer head and more typing time to even attempt to put in into words.  But just know that when I look at my hot-headed blondie, emotional red-head and mischevious little Thai boy, all giggling together–I get a glimpse of how my heavenly Father looks at this impatient, messed-up dishwater blonde mama.  And I FEEL (haha) like it is rocking my world.  In a good way. 😉
I don’t know if that is an adequate update or not.  But it will have to do for now.  I have a precious evening mostly to myself (C, S and T are at the rodeo and A is asleep) and I don’t want to spend the entire thing in front of this computer screen.  🙂  Thank you again, for all the love and prayers and checking in and commenting and, just, all of it.