Monday, February 24, 2014

We Received a Gift Today

Today we received an unexpected email which included lots of photos of Elijah, from about 5 months old until the present.

Oh my goodness, how adorable is he?!

So many adoptees and adoptive parents are never blessed with baby pictures that fill in some missing pieces.

We are so lucky.

Of course, along with these photos -- like so much of anything connected with adoption -- there are mixed feelings.

While I am so happy to have these photos, I am so sad I was not there as his mama when he was a baby.

I can't stop my mother-brain from thinking "how did he get that bruise?"  or "why is he sad in that picture?"

I would be lying if I said I didn't have a little stab of jealousy because someone else is holding my baby when I couldn't.  And, at the same time, I am so grateful someone was. 

I am a bundle of contradictions:  both angry that the paperwork took so long when we were waiting here all along, and also so struck with awe that, against all odds, he is here with us now.

I love this photo because it looks so much like Elijah does today.  It reminds me that he is the same boy, the same soul, even though he is 6 years older.  

It wasn't too late.  He is here now.  And he is such a gift to this family.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Winter: a disjointed summary

This has been the craziest winter of my life.  Just so busy -- good busy -- but filled to the brink.  We have had LOTS of snow and ice.

Thanks goodness for a warm fire.

 We have lost power twice, but this has made us all more appreciative of the light and heat we have most of the time.  

We have pulled out all of our toys, including the huge boxes of Playmobil.

And we have delved into some art projects we usually don't have the time to do.

I am glad to report that Elijah has moved on from playing games 24/7 (although he probably would continue if I let him..)

and he is interacting with the whole family.

Elijah and Ellie and Christopher are the 3 Stooges.  They play together all the time, and there is lots of silliness and messes along the way.  Elijah is the leader of the pack.

Elijah has even "done school" with us a few times.  I am not pushing it right now.  We had consciously decided to not worry about traditional "table work" for the first 6 months he is home, and just let Elijah absorb the language and our family life and culture.

But occasionally he has wanted to join us.  And, when he does, he has a remarkable attention span and, I must add, very neat handwriting!

Nicholas, almost 9, has taken the role of protector and leader.  
He has come so far, and we are so proud of him.  He is so responsible and careful.

Despite the frigid temperatures and heaps of snow, he plays outside every day.  He loves it.  

He leads the other boys, and sometimes Ellie, out to the back creek, and has had to perform a few "rescue missions" over the past weeks.  Don't worry, everyone is fine, thanks to Ranger Nick.

While Olivia does not usually come on the outdoors adventures, she is very busy.  She particularly loves fencing.  She is also into ice skating, and is taking a writing class at our local homeschool co-op.

I can't believe that she is almost 10.  She is already showing so many signs of budding independence and I realized that our years left with her at home will go quickly.  I love her so much.

Olivia is also really into cooking and baking, as well as sewing.  Here is a custard fruit tart she made.  Delicious!

This Chinese New Year, we were invited to Linda's house (our Chinese instructor) to celebrate.  It was such an honor to spend the holiday with a Chinese family.

Here is Christopher with Linda's husband.

Our boys felt quite at home, as you can see.  They are wrestling over a flashlight.

The three amigos, in silk.

Peter dared them to kiss.  They took the bait.

And then promptly wiped the kisses off.

3 of my Chinese treasures.  I am so lucky.

Here is Linda and her fabulous spread.  The food was so good.  I have tried to replicate some of her recipes.  And, all I will say is, I need more practice!

What a fun night.

Christopher is such a sweet, loving baby.  Everyone loves him, especially his siblings.  In their eyes, he can do no wrong.  

In the past months, we have started to worry that he is more delayed that we had initially believed.  He was still not talking at all, and seemed to have some motor planning and processing issues going on.  For instance, if you asked him to do something, he had trouble planning how to take that information and then act upon it.

Here is Christopher's Occupational Therapist, Ms. Julie, who is wonderful and comes to our home once a week.  Christopher loves her, and so does Ellie!

We decided to have Christopher start speech therapy with Ms. Suzy, the speech therapist that we have used for Nicholas, Peter and Ellie (Ellie continues to have therapy).

It has made a huge difference.

In the last month, Christopher has been using sign language without being prompted to do so (showing his understanding of language and cognitive ability to communicate!) and has even started using the words "baba" (bottle) and "dada."  

Most of all, we are just happy to see that he "gets it."  He needs a little help, especially with oral-motor issues, but he is on his way. We celebrate baby steps around here.

My kids are running out of patience with me as I type on the computer, so I will have to update you about Peter and Ellie in the next post.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

What's on your nightstand?

It's been a long, hard winter and I might have a bit of the winter blues ("are you SAD." John asks me jokingly, referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder). No, I am not really depressed, just...blah. It has been a struggle to keep up with everything, especially with the power outages due to the snow and ice, and my blogging has definitely been suffering.

But I am determined to begin again.  

With a short post.  About books. 

My friend Sigal wrote a post on her blog ( about reading that got me thinking about my favorite hobby.

Books keep me sane.  They help me make sense of the world.  They are my companions and my therapy.  Both my escape and my connection to the world. I am excited for every dentist appointment, every haircut, and every plane ride because I get to read.  Even every bedtime.

Simple pleasures.

So, this is what I am reading now.  Plus, a couple on my Kindle (my favorite is Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement) and, of course, my favorite blogs. I am always reading a bunch of different things at once.

Like Sigal, I sometimes get asked how I have time to read, and I answer that you can find time for something you love.  We all do, whether that is TV, talking on the phone, texting, working out, or cleaning your house. None is more virtuous than the other, really. It's just our different ways to regulate, or ground ourselves.

I am terrible about returning texts, emails, or phone calls, I am always behind on the laundry, and I haven't exercised regularly since Ellie came home.  I have never seen Downton Abbey. But I find time to read.  

Anyway, any other readers out there?  What is on your nightstand right now?