One Month Home: Highs and Lows

We’ve been a family of seven for just over a month, now, and I thought I’d post a new list of the highs and lows.

Highs and Lows:

High:   Those in our community who have brought us (or had us over for) dinner, and those who have picked things up for us at the grocery store.  A couple of really awesome friends have come over to watch movies with the kids while I organize elsewhere in the house, or have invited me out alone to keep me from becoming (more) socially awkward.

Mostly High:  The girls’ command of the English language is improving.  Their command of commands is also improving.  Specifically, phrases such as, “Mom, I am hungry.  Eat now,” and “Hisaiah, stop!”

High:  Lydia has learned to ride her bike.

Low:  The girls’ first doctor’s appointments, including vaccinations and blood draws.  We were in one office or another from 1:30 until 5 pm one afternoon.

Low:  We have had to replace the upstairs bathroom sink and had to have our air conditioner repaired yesterday, making for some interesting (though small) hurdles.

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High:  We are watching God work in our eldest daughter’s heart.  I enjoy getting to teach brief theology lessons each morning to the three big girls, who sometimes teach the lesson to Daddy later in the day.  Or sometimes get bored during my lectures.

Low:  I really want a date with my husband.  No, just a conversation.  No, one complete, coherent sentence with an appropriate, thought-out response at the end.

High:  We had some really good family photos taken by our talented friend Tammy Stayton.   Tammy is the only person in the whole entire world who can get a good photo of me actually looking at the camera, and not looking like a buck-toothed, crooked-nosed, one-eyed chicken.  Feel free to quote any part of that review for your website, Tammy.  If that doesn’t get you business, I don’t know what will . . .

Low:  The head lice aftermath.  The head-shavings that followed.  The weeping and teeth-gnashing.

Low:  Materialism.  Technology.  Discontent.

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High:  Family devotion time at night which now includes an array of drums and a borrowed guitar that’s short a string.  Lest you think that’s metaphorical, I assure you it needs a new string.  No one in the house currently knows how to even play a guitar, but we have a few rock band hopefuls.  Right now, DA mans this guitar by randomly strumming it throughout whatever song we’re singing.  It’s humorous that the younger kids believe he actually knows what he’s doing.  They think he is simply amazing.   I think we’re Von Trapp family rejects.

Low:  Exactly one hundred Facebook acquaintances have invited me to get addicted to play some kind of Facebook game about candy.  I continue to ignore those requests.  And a bunch of e-mails.  And my voicemail box is full.  And I managed to eat two pieces of toast before 7 pm today.

Low:  The stress of trying to remember what grace for ones own self feels like.  First, I feel guilty for not getting something done/doing it quickly enough/doing it often enough.  Next, I am reminded that I should be having grace toward myself.  Then, I feel guilty for feeling guilty.  Repeat.  It’s a vicious cycle.

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High:  Knowing that it is God who has called us here, and that our hope remains in Jesus alone, regardless of what the day holds.

 

Two Weeks Home: Highs and Lows

family photo coming homeWe have now officially been a family of seven (in the same house) for two weeks!  There’s nothing particularly special about two weeks, except that I only just now seem to have the time to sit down and write something—anything—longer than my own name as I sign for pizza.

In true Family Group style, here are some highs and lows of the past two weeks:

Highs:

  • Lydia, Ruby, and Zoey seem to have adjusted well to family life here so far.  They are very sweet and joyful girls.  Along with Abigail and Isaiah, they are each trying to find their places.  All five of the kids seem to genuinely love one another.  Upon first meeting at the airport, Abby and Ruby made a beeline for each other, and Isaiah and Zoey became instant friends, as well.
  • Nothing—NOTHING—has been as bad as I’d been afraid it might be.  Right after we’d accepted our referral, I began preparing myself for the girls’ homecoming by reading blog posts, books, and talking to other adoptive parents about their struggles.  At least at the moment, we don’t seem to be facing any of the most frightening scenarios I’d tried to prepare myself for.  Our situation is entirely different, and probably will be in the future.  If I could go back, I would tell myself not to read anything other than biographies of missionaries who served a hundred years ago, because what we’ve done as a family is more like Judson or Taylor setting sail on a ship with all their earthly possessions packed in a coffin than anything else I’ve ever done.  We’re going to do this thing—by God’s grace—or die trying.
  • We sing more.  A lot more.  Although we have always enjoyed music, we’ve never been an especially musically talented family.  But it seems like someone is always singing something these days, sometimes accompanied by an African drum.  This is really fun when we have our devotion time before bed.  (I’ve also been singing “Lord, I Need You” and “Oh, How I Need You” on automatic replay in my head.)
  • We had previously decided to lock down and go nowhere for the first few weeks home, but that has not been realistic.  In fact, one week after we arrived home, the girls wanted to know if we were going to church.  Since they hadn’t read all of the books, they didn’t understand the adoption philosophy behind staying put.  We finally decided to go and come home early if necessary.  We’ve now been twice, as well as to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, the park, to DA’s school to set up his classroom, and to the seminary to swim.
  • We pray together often–and for positive reasons.
  • Not one single person has run down the road away from us, naked.

Lows:

  • All of the kid’s have their little arguments and complaints.  Someone is always calling for “Mom,” with all the urgency of a severe head trauma, but the reality is usually only as serious as someone not sharing.  Sometimes tears are used to [attempt to] manipulate the situation.  But, baby, I wasn’t born yesterday and I mothered a kid through 10 months of colic.  Crocodile tears are cake.
  • There is no universal naptime anymore.  My introvert time is limited.  This is in no way scientific, but I’m pretty sure I’ve had time to respond to about one e-mail or phone call for every five I’ve received.  Just today, I noticed that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m no longer ashamed to chase everyone outside to play, or to have quiet time while standing over the washing machine as it fills.  If you think about it, it’s kind of like relaxing by a fountain.
  • Cooking has never been my strength, but I’ve kept up with it well for the past two weeks.  Lydia has helped out by cooking a few Ethiopian meals, like shiro and tibbs.  This would be a “high” except that I almost set the kitchen on fire one morning while making French toast.  Near-fires are almost always a low.
  • We’ve struggled to find foods that all the kids will eat.  So far, our list is:  peanut butter sandwiches, pancakes, bananas, rice, and Cajun fish.
  • The lowest low has got to be treating everyone—EVERYONE—for head lice.  I seriously almost treated the cat, before we found out it wasn’t necessary.  I washed, combed, and picked through the massive amount of hair that our children have (ok, Yay’s off the hook here).  It took over eight hours.  We washed clothes for days on end.  I had to give one child a very short haircut.  I thought about hiring a realtor and just moving.  I still might.
  • We’ve watched High School Musical a lot.  I just feel like this needs to be on this list.

 Other:

  • Back in February, we accepted a referral for 3, 6, and 8-year-old girls.  It’s become clear to us, though, that our eldest is actually more like 11 or 12.  This has been a little challenging, in that we planned for an 8-year-old.  The clothing and toys we stockpiled were for an 8-year-old.  I remember feeling stretched by the thought of parenting a child older than Abby, but I thought, “How much different can eight be from six?”  Well, twelve-ish is definitely different from six.  Remember that tortuous era of your life called puberty?  Yeah, we’d tried to block that out, too.   We have had to hit the ground running.  Plus, I’ve never before had to think about the rules and limitations we now have to set on media and telephone usage, the appropriate fit of clothing, and how much High School Musical is too much (um, even a fraction of a nano-second of a choreographed song about playing some type of team sport?).

P.S.

  • If you see us out in public, please remember than my kids have been dressing themselves lately.  This should help explain their bold fashion choices of polka dots with plaid, pajama pants before six, sequined newsboy hats that are too small for their heads, shirts and pants that were intended to fit a sister of another size, and a colorful array of tutus, superhero masks, and a sombrero.

*Photo by Tammy Stayton Photography