Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Caedmon's been talking about wanting to go to a Sharks' hockey game for quite some time. Andy thought it'd be a fun "bonding" experience for them, so he got some tickets to a preseason game. I looked for some Sharks' apparel at Target and Walmart, but everything they had was more than I wanted to spend.

I decided to make matching T-shirts for Caedmon & Andy with an "iron-on" Sharks' logo. I thought it'd be so simple...akin to applying a temporary tattoo. Unfortunately, I may be one of the least "crafty" people in the world, so even an iron-on project proved too difficult for me.

First mistake: I forgot that you have to invert the picture that you want to print so that the letters don't iron on backwards. Fortunately I realized this BEFORE I ironed them on to the tshirts. I had one extra sheet of the iron-on paper and just reprinted the logos...this time inverted.

The next problem came when trying to peel off the either wouldn't come or it took the image with it. No, my friend, it was NOT like trying to apply a temporary tattoo.

The shirts were unwearable and ended up in our trash can last night. (So much for saving money, huh?)

My back-up plan was to draw (trace) the logo on a plain white tshirt with a Sharpie marker. It looked more than a little ghetto, but that's the beauty of being a kid. If you're unashamed to wear your Spiderman costume to Walmart, you're not going to be embarrassed to wear a tshirt with a Sharpie marker drawing on it. It actually makes you feel cool, especially if your mom spikes your hair.

Caedmon's best tough-guy look
 Sammy wanted his picture taken, too.
He looks so short next to Caedmon.

Such an amazing dad. 
Caedmon has no idea how blessed he is.

This picture of Caedmon is SO classic. 
I promise you that he could be at Disney World and
have this expression on his face. Gratefulness is not 
one of his strongest virtues...

Caedmon's buddies, Nico & Aiden 
(and their dads) also came to the game.

Yeah, they had nose-bleed seats. Still had fun, though!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Caedmon!

Caedmon turned 4 years old two weeks ago. We ended up having 4 different celebrations...birthday party with friends, actual birthday complete with a playdate and dinner at Red Robbin (Caedmon's pick) with the family, cupcakes at his preschool, and one more when a package arrived a few days after the big day!

We had a great time celebrating his life! Here are a few of my favorite pics:

Spiderman Cupcakes...Caedmon wanted me to draw
Spiderman on the cupcake. I told him a web was as
close as I could get!

Spiderman masks instead of party hats

Cailyn Santos enjoying her cupcake

 All the kiddos

Present time...everyone wanted to help!

A $5 Spiderman umbrella was Caedmons #1 birthday wish

 Caedmon got a new friend/pen pal via Compassion International.
His friend, Yohannis, is from Ethiopia and is the same age as Caedmon.
Birthday celebration at preschool.
The teachers have told us that they often have to separate 
Caedmon & Lily because they do everything together.

Mommy & the birthday this pic

 Presents from Mimi & Papa.
These have been a huge hit around here!

Love that kid. Happy Birthday to my precious Caedmon!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

One Month Review

Sammy has been home for one month now, and what a month it has been! I feel like I am just now getting my feet back under me (a little) and my emotions regulated. Everything I had read during this adoption process had told me to prepare for a difficult transition home that would work it's way out with time. But after being with Sammy in Ethiopia, seeing his personality, and having zero problems with him when I had full custody of him there in-country, I thought..."Oh, not for us. This transition won't be that bad." I stand corrected.

It takes time for Sammy to bond with us. I expected this, and he honestly has far exceeded my expectations in this category (in a good way). He extremely loving and affectionate...kisses and hugs all day long. Sammy has the personality type that just assumes everyone loves him and thinks he's adorable...which he is.

What I did not expect (at least for myself) is that it takes time for us to bond with him. I felt so bonded to Sammy before we ever had him. Before I ever saw his picture or knew his name, I was in love with him. I have been totally blindsided by my need to GROW in my love-relationship with him. This has actually been very difficult for me and I've carried an extreme amount of guilt and cried many, many tears this month as a result of it. I just assumed I would automatically have the same bond with Sammy that I have with Caedmon. I will one day, but I'm learning that it takes time to develop. I've had 4 years to develop this bond with Caedmon and only 4 weeks with Sammy.

It takes time for Sammy to feel safe and secure in our family. Right now, Sammy fears that every time I walk out of the room I may have just walked out of his life forever. He screams a petrified scream if he can't see us or find us for more than 10 seconds. I leave his door open at nap time and AS SOON as I hear him stir, I RUN into the room so he'll see me right away. If I don't hear him for some reason, screaming will soon commence.

Sammy's difficulty with sleep has been the most challenging part for us. He will only fall asleep if he can see me (or Andy), so I have to sit by his bed until he's asleep for naptime and at night. Whereas he would sleep for 2-3 hours every afternoon in Ethiopia, he will only take a 1-1 1/2 hour nap here. Once he wakes up, he is jolted awake and will not fall back asleep.

You'd think the shorter naps would make him extra tired and he would sleep great at night. Not so much. Sammy wakes up (on average) about 4 times a night. He sleeps in a pack-n-play right by my side of the bed. Most nights we're able to lay him right back down and he'll immediately go back to sleep. Other nights, however, there is so much screaming that you'd think he's in physical pain. But he's not. I think it's just fear and grief.

It's like Sammy tries to keep his eyes open as much as he possibly can to make sure we're still there. He only sleeps when his body absolutely demands it and he cannot hold his eyes open anymore.

My sister has a son who is almost exactly the same age as Sammy. When I shared this with her she said, "That makes me so sad. I just imagine if Caleb was in this situation. What if something happened to us and Caleb was being cared for by someone else, even by you? He would be so confused and sad and upset. He's old enough to know exactly what he wants, but there's no way he could have it."

Sammy has lost everything. And though, from our perspective, he has absolutely GAINED everything, he did not asked to be put in this situation. I have to remind myself of this when I'm sleep deprived and he doesn't seem quite as cute or endearing.

Adoption, being a mom, or living a life that honors Christ is not about my comfort, my convenience, or my desires. It is about laying down my life to serve and love others the way that Christ has served and loved me. "Loving" someone has a lot more to do with a choice and a commitment than a feeling. So these are the verses that I am claiming for myself during this season. I feel like they so perfectly speak to my need at this time:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers [sons]...Let us love not with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.           1 John 3:16, 18-20

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'll Be Back...

I love to write. It's therapy for me. So, if I am not writing much on this blog, it is typically the result of one of two reasons:

1- I am super busy and just don't have the time.
2- I am not in the best place emotionally and don't want to be a downer to the whole blogosphere.

My absence these days is a combination of both. I'll just say this...adjusting to our new normal has been way more difficult than I expected. I have more questions than answers, more things to do than time to do them, and more crazy thoughts and emotions than I'd like to admit. One day I will share some of these thoughts and emotions, but for now it's too raw.

However, I do write blogs all day'd just have to be able to read my mind to know what I've written because they never quite make it to the computer. Hang on, Blog Fans...I'll be back one day soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It ain't Giada, but it'll work...

Last night I was in the need for a quick meal that I all the ingredients for already on hand. It was a pretty good meal to be able to throw together in 30 minutes. So, if you have a busy day and no time to grocery shop, here's a good "go to" meal.

Creole Tilapia
(Buy a big bag of frozen tilapia from Costco or your grocery store to keep on hand)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line up to 6 pieces of fish in a baking dish.
In a skillet, saute 2 chopped green onions in a couple tablespoons of butter.
2 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 T. lemon juice
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. basil
1/4 t. red pepper
Cook until heated well. Pour over fish and bake in oven uncovered for 20-25 minutes depending on thickness of fish.

When you stick the fish in the oven, start cooking some rice. (I like Jasmine Rice.) They'll get done about the same time.

Then start on the green beans. Typically, I like these green beans that I posted about here. But when I'm in a hurry or don't have fresh on hand, these aren't too shabby.

Sweet Green Beans
(plan about 1 can of beans per 3 people)

In a sauce pan. Cook on medium low for 15-20 minutes.
1 can whole green beans. Drain half the juice.
Chop a little onion (maybe a couple tablespoons)
A little olive oil
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried basil
About a teaspoon of sugar or Splenda.

Open a couple cans of sliced peaches to serve with the meal.

So the whole meal consists of Creole Tilapia served over rice, sweet green beans, and peaches. Not exactly the meal I would want to "show off" with for company, but it'll work!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

So, how is Caedmon adjusting?

That's a question I've been hearing a lot lately, so I thought I'd just answer it publicly. Overall, Caedmon is fantastic! He brings me such joy and I feel so endeared to that child it is absolutely insane. He has grown up right before my eyes over the past couple of weeks. Having a little one in the home makes the older one seem so much bigger! I just want to squeeze him every time I see him looking all grown up in his collared Polo shirt, jeans, and Chuck Taylor All Star shoes. So stinkin' cute!

(He refuses to look directly at the camera.)

Caedmon started preschool for the first time last week! He loves it. He goes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9-12 and happens to be in the same class as Fi & Mandy's little girl, Lily. This is a great opportunity for him to feel like he's a big boy and gets to do something special on his own. It also gives me a little time one-on-one with Sammy each week.

He is REALLY into super-heros right now. My mom bought him a Buzz Lightyear costume and he has hardly taken it off. He wants to put it on as soon as he wakes up in the morning, has worn it to Walmart, and requests to sleep in it for naptime! A friend also recently gave him two pairs of Batman pajamas which he thinks is fantastic.

He's shooting his laser here.

No shame

Nap time apparel

Adjusting to having a little brother has been difficult in many ways. The first week Sammy was home, Caedmon was quite emotional...which is normal for Caedmon, but even taken to another level. Caedmon, who could typically care less about milk, decided he needed a cup of milked warmed up every time Sammy had a cup of milk warmed up! He wet his pants multiple times. And every time he woke up and saw Sammy, the expression on his face said, "'re still here?"

In many ways, Sammy relates much better to Caedmon than Caedmon relates to Sammy. This isn't surprising to me because Sammy is used to living with 12 other kids in one room, so sharing a whole apartment with 1 other kid is no big deal. He tries to wrestle with Caedmon, play with Caedmon, and thinks Caedmon is absolutely hysterical!

Caedmon, on the other hand, tries to store all of his "special big-boy toys" in high places around the house where Sammy can't reach them. If Caedmon notices Sammy (peacefully) playing with a toy, he suddenly becomes extremely interested in that particular toy and needs it right away. Many-a-tear has been shed over either not getting the toy (Caedmon) or getting the toy yanked out of his hand (Sammy).

Caedmon also finds it necessary to give me the play-by-play on all that Sammy is if we're not all 3 in the same room sitting 3 feet from each other. "Mommy, Sammy's touching this... Sammy's climbing that..."

Caedmon has also miraculously developed a skill of reading minds and interpreting baby babble. He says things like, "Mommy, Sammy wants to read this book but I'm reading this book... Mommy, Sammy says he wants to drink out of my cup but I'm drinking out of my cup."

Overall, it is typical sibling stuff and we are growing through it. Having a brother will be so good for Caedmon, and we are still holding our breath that one day they may actually become friends!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2 Weeks Ago Today

Two weeks ago today, Sammy & I landed at the SFO airport and we began our life as a family of 4. While I have been absent here on the blogosphere, we are alive and well here in California and it has been quite a ride the past couple of weeks.

Firsts for Sammy over the past two weeks:
  • first time in an airplane
  • first time in a carseat
  • first time to meet his brother
  • first time to see his new house
  • first time to South Bay Church
  • first time to meet CC (my mom)
  • first time to be surrounded by so many white & Asian people
  • first time to Santana Row to have a burger at "The Counter". Mmmm.
  • first time to visit an American doctor
  • (probably) first time to the playground or to play in sand
  • (probably) first picnic...we had 2 this week
  • first time on a tricycle
  • first time to Daddy's office
  • first (of many) trips to Target & Walmart
  • first party to be held in his honor

Other huge changes include being immersed in a new language, transitioning from formula to milk, and trading in his bottles for sippy cups. The poor kid's been through A LOT, so we gotta give him a little slack if he needs to have a melt down every once in a while. He's handling it with much more grace than I'm sure I would!

My mom left today after being here for an 8 day visit. I told her I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dreading her leaving. She was so incredibly helpful to have as we are getting adjusted to being home. Just getting from the car to our apartment with a diaper bag, purse, groceries/supplies from Target, plus one child on the hip and the other looking a lady bugs in the grass has proven to be much trickier than I expected. I needed the extra hands this week that my mom provided!

One rude awakening Sammy will experience now that CC is gone is that he will be "enjoying" pack-n-play time while Mommy showers and gets ready in the morning. This experience is dreadful and consists of 45 minutes of screaming, after which Sammy requires a change of clothes. If he could talk, his screams would say, "GET OUT OF THE SHOWER! YOU'VE BEEN IN THERE FOR 3 MINUTES! GET OUT OF THE SHOWER ALREADY! HOLD ME! HOLD ME! I WANT TO GO BACK TO AFRICA!!!" So much for a warm, relaxing shower to get your day off on the right foot!

This is me getting out the door:
Is everyone dressed and (somewhat) clean? (me, Caedmon, Sammy)
Caedmon, go potty. Sammy, diaper change.
Shoes on? (me, Caedmon, Sammy)
Gather drinks and/or snacks for everyone.
Diaper bag. Sling. Purse. Keys. Phone. Sunglasses.

As I am thinking through this mental check list, I am being followed around by Sammy who has his arms raised and is screaming for me to pick him up. I told my mom, "I am losing brain cells by the minute!" I believe I have lost my keys at least once a day every single day since we've been home!

Sometimes it feels like 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Especially when it comes to sleep. Sammy started (kinda) sleeping through the night for several nights in a row. Then we had 3 nights with multiple bouts of screaming. Then, last night, he did much better again. It just takes time, I know...

In the midst of the chaos and lack of sleep and tears, we have experienced some priceless moments...the kind you hope you never forget. Watching Caedmon & Sammy run up and down the hallway to tackle Daddy and then burst into hysterical laughter. A beautiful day at the park complete with a picnic, Caedmon riding his bike, and pushing Sammy on the tricycle. Worshiping Jesus at South Bay with Sammy in my arms and his head resting on my shoulder. These are my "happily ever after" moments.

On the way home last night, Sammy sang a song that he had no doubt learned at the orphanage. He held his hands in the air, snapping his fingers and singing the whole way home. I so wish I knew that song. It was absolutely precious!