Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sammy!

We celebrated Sammy's 2 year old birthday tonight. We don't know his actual birthday, but we chose October 28th based on some information his birth mother was able to provide. We wanted to do something to make it special and celebrate, but nothing too big or overwhelming for him. So we just invited over our dear friends, the Santos family, for dinner, presents, and dessert. It was a very fun, non-stressful birthday party!

Here are a few pictures of our evening:

I love how Sammy is grabbing food off of Cailyn's plate 
while she's not looking! That boy loves to eat.

Name puzzle given to him by his Uncle Teve & Aunt Lala

All four of the kiddos "helped" unwrap the presents.
It was fun & exciting for all of them because they know
they will all benefit from Sammy's toys!

Notice how Caedmon very subtly "helps" Sammy
blow out his candles.

Pretty excited about his dessert...

He has a smile that will light up your life!

 Nite-Nite snuggles with Mama.

Dear Sammy,

Happy Birthday! We are so happy to get to celebrate YOUR LIFE that God saw fit to rescue from poverty and malnutrition and probably death. We are abundantly thankful that God chose to place you in our family. You are a priceless gift to us.

TWO things that I love about you as you turn TWO years old:

1- You are incredibly resilient. You have been through an enormous amount of turmoil and grief in your short life. I know in your heart that you realize your life is not as it should be. And yet somehow you smile and laugh your way through every day. I cannot imagine going through all that you've been through, and I think you've displayed great strength in the midst of it. I believe that God will use your resilience to enable you to overcome insurmountable odds that people who lack faith said could never be done. Your ability to maintain joy in the midst of uncertainty should be an inspiration to us all.

2- You are a "people-person". Not so much right now because you're still nervous when we go into new settings. But your daddy & I had the great joy of seeing your personality in Ethiopia and we can see it now when it's just us in our own home. Soon enough you will come back into your own again and the world will be so blessed by your winsome ways. Your smile, playfulness, and contagious belly laughter could win over the hardest of hearts. You know that you are adorable and you either assume that everyone else does too, or you just don't really care what everyone else thinks. Either way, God will use your "woo" to allow you to gain favor in people's eyes. This will give you influence into their lives and we pray that you will use that influence for God's glory.

Samuel Wondimu Wood, you have already added so much to our family. We celebrate YOU today and all that God has made you to be! I love you so, my precious baby boy. You are my answered prayer.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monsters Inside Me

Have you ever heard of the show Monsters Inside Me? I hadn't either, but another adoptive family told me about it while in Ethiopia (when I was eating dinner, no less). It's about parasites and what they do to your body. The episode my friend had watched was very, very gross...made my skin crawl while I continued to choke down my spaghetti.

Any way, Sammy has had a monster inside him for quite some time now. Giardia. I was suspicious that something might be going on intestinally while in Ethiopia because his poop/gas would blow you out of a room! It was putrid! I promise you that if there had been a toxic gas alarm in our room, it would have gone off at all hours of the day. While he did have some diarrhea, stinky-ness was his main symptom. I felt the need to apologize to everyone who came by our room and felt sorry for those seated anywhere near us on the airplane.

Please meet the 5th member of our family, Giardia.

As soon as I knew the date we'd be bringing Sammy home, I scheduled a doctor's appointment for him and requested a stool sample, blood work, and thorough physical. Sure enough, the lab technician called me the next day informing us of what I already new...Sammy has a parasite.

This is super common in adopted kids and it's really no big deal to treat. I was honestly relieved to know that there was a reason for this godless odor that was invading our home and that there was hope for eliminating it. We started Sammy on meds right away and thought that was that.

When I took him back 3 weeks later for a follow-up, our pediatrician said "Let's do one more stool sample just to make sure the medicine took care of it." Might I add that gathering a stool sample is not on my Top 10 list of fun things to do. But, of course, I agreed and the next day we got another call...There are still monsters among us.

Sammy just completed round 2 of the meds and hopefully the monster has been neutralized. But now I'm totally paranoid. One nurse told us, "I've seen this get passed through a whole family." So Sammy definitely has at least one more stool sample in his future, but I told Andy that if this is a requirement for all of us, he's on his own! That is where. I. draw. the. line.

This is what we do with Giardia filled diapers (sorry it's sideways)...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two month (two day) review...

We have had Sammy home a little over two months now. The fact that this blog is two days late is quite indicative of my life right now. I feel like I'm just a little "behind on life" these days and I'm having to evaluate what truly has to get done and what can wait one more day. Or week. Or month...

Sammy continues to do better and better during the day time. He is completely comfortable in our house (does not always have to be right beside me) and is completely comfortable with his "Uncle Fi & Aunt Mandy" or his "Vovo & Vova" (Renan & Juliane). Those are the only people we have left Sammy with and they have a special connection with him.

His English is picking up. He understands a TON and he's got a handful of words as well:
  • daddy (Andy & I are both "daddy")
  • no
  • hello
  • bye-bye
  • night-night
  • "oose" (shoes)
  • "wa" (water)
  • bite (eat)
  • doggy (all 4-legged creatures are in this category)
  • mama (only repeats it if I say it)
  • Kay-Kay (Caedmon)
  • touch 
  • hot
  • side (outside)

Sammy has made a lot of progress with attachment this month. He has begun kissing me...only when he wants to, and never when requested. It's really cute, though. He kisses the tip of my nose and then both cheeks. This happens primarily at bedtime. He has also kissed Andy once. He clings to me like a monkey when we are out & about, especially in settings where there are a lot of people. At least we all know that he feels safe with me. That's a good foundation to begin working with...

I am also making a lot of progress with bonding to Sammy. I shared in the One Month Review that I was surprised that the bonding process was so difficult for me. I thought it would be instantaneous. For some adoptive parents it is, and I was really beating myself up about the fact that I didn't share the same bond with Sammy that I had with Caedmon. I have come to peace with that and I realize that the bond will form and grow stronger and stronger with time. Even over the last week I can feel change taking place in my heart...I feel more tenderness and endearment toward Sammy. He's beginning to seem less like a friend's kid that I'm taking care of and more like my son. A family of four is feeling more and more normal.

Night time is our worst time. To say I'm frustrated would be an understatement. It is so difficult for me to know what Sammy needs and what is best for him. Sammy is still sleeping in our room in a pack-n-play. After cuddling and rocking him for a few minutes, I lay him in his bed and then I just wait. And wait. And wait...for him to fall asleep. In Ethiopia, he would fall asleep within 5 minutes. At least one night this past week, it took well over an hour. The process is getting longer and longer instead of shorter and shorter.

Why not just leave him in there and carry on with your business? That's absolutely what I did with Caedmon. He cried, but he learned to soothe himself and fall asleep on his own. That is what I would love to do with Sammy, but he's got this whole fear of abandonment thing going on. I can't just let him cry it out the way I would a biological child.

Also, his night time sleep is not making a whole lot of progress, either. He's not waking up screaming anymore, so that's good. But he's still waking up multiple times a night, just fussing/whining wanting me to keep my hand on him. It's gotten to the point that once he wakes up the first time, he will continue to wake up every 20-30 minutes throughout the rest of the night...unless I bring him in bed with me. Then he sleeps fine. But when Sammy comes in, Andy goes out. And continually bringing Sammy in bed is reinforcing the night time whining.

I honestly don't know what to do. It's not because of a lack of opinions...everyone has a piece of advice. I just know:
  1. I can't stay awake all night to keep my hand on a sleeping child, and
  2. I would much rather sleep with my husband than my son.
I'm going to talk with our social worker about it because we have got to get this wheel rolling the other direction. 

God is teaching me so much through this process...about what it means to truly love someone, about relying on His strength instead of my own, about endurance and patience, and about my own heart...which is much more depraved and ugly than I'd like to admit. I've realized that, in my mind, I idealize how I think I would respond in given situations that seem noble (i.e. being a missionary in a foreign country, raising a child with downs syndrome, or adopting). But when I'm actually living it out day-by-day, my responses are far from ideal. I appreciate God's grace, forgiveness, and strength at a whole new level.

My life does not feel very "tidy" right now. Or noble. But I am learning to love my son more and more every day. We are sharing more tender moments and funny moments together which has a way of knitting our hearts to one another. Two months down and a lifetime to go. I think we're on the right track.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top 28 Memories from my 28th year

5 Bad / 23 Good Memories:

5 Bad Memories:
1- The trip home from Ethiopia with Sammy. Read about that here.
2- Swine Flu (for me & Caedmon). Read about that here.
 3- Freezer going out on us 3 times
 4- Caedmon opening his Christmas presents TWICE before Christmas day
 5- Caedmon on Albuterol-- INSANITY! (I have a video of this, but it is too scary to share.)

23 Good Memories

1- Meeting Sammy for the first words to describe this moment.
2- Watching Tiana be presented with her van given by members of South Bay. Watch the video here.
3- Snuggling in bed with Caedmon in the morning-- his face pressed against mine.
4- Speaking at South Bay on Mother's Day
5- Receiving our referral call and seeing Sammy's picture for the first time on Mother's Day weekend
6- Celebrating 24 Baptisms- each one is so special to me, especially if I know that person's story
7- Caedmon's first day of preschool
 8- Watching Andy's dad watch Andy preach on Easter Sunday
 9-Finding out that more than just my mom reads my blog...I now have a whooping 14 followers! (don't be jealous, all you bloggers out there)

10- Attending C3 in Texas with the South Bay staff
11- Celebrating our 7 (SEVEN) year anniversary in San Francisco--best anniversary yet!
12- Seeing God provide thousands upon thousands of dollars for our adoption expenses. NOTHING is too big for Him!
13- Watching all 3 of my boys do the "Monster Dance" in their PJs after bath time (video footage to come)
14- Celebrating South Bay's one year anniversary in February...Cardboard testimonies...God has done so much so soon.

 15- Family vacation to Lake Tahoe- our last big "Hoorah" with Caedmon as an only child
16- Attending the GLO conference in Corpus Christi, TX with my college roommate, Kendall
17- Being apart of EPIC Church's first Preview Service in San Francisco--EPIC is the first church plant that South Bay is partnering with...may there be many, many more!
18- Gotcha Day- August 17, 2010...Sammy joins his forever family
19- Experiencing South Bay's growth from one service, to two services, to three services, to looking for a more permanent facility
20- Watching Sammy see the ocean for the first time
21- Being apart of a church staff that TRULY loves each other
22- Weekly date nights with the most amazing man I know
23- The peace of knowing that I am where God wants me to be doing what God wants me to do.

the best is yet to come...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

4 year olds, Stickers, & Weddings

A couple weeks ago, the Santos kids were over at our house for dinner while Mandy & Filipe had their Date Night. Andy and I had the joy of eavesdropping on this dinner the end of it we were laughing so hard we were nearly in tears!

Lily was very excited about a sticker she had and said she was going to wear it forever and ever...even at her wedding.
To this Caedmon replies, "I'm not going to marry you, Lily."
Lily: "Yes you are!"
Caedmon: "No, I will run away."
Lily: "No. You will stay AND you will be a pastor."
Caedmon: "No, Lily. I will run away."

Lily was getting very concerned by this point and said in a somewhat desperate voice, "Well someone has to marry me or I won't have a husband!"

Caedmon: "No, Lily. I won't let anyone marry you. I will kill all the boys at your wedding."

This about put Lily over the edge, so she looked to us for reinforcement. She said, "Caedmon said he's going to kill everyone at my wedding but I wanted to show them my sticker!"

The conversation ended at this point because Andy & I were laughing so hard we couldn't even reply. However, that was evidently NOT the end of the conversation for Lily and Caedmon because by the end of the night they had worked out a compromise. Caedmon said to me, "Mom, Lily said I could come to her wedding if I promised not to kill everyone."

Glad they were able to work that one out.

 Popsicles after dinner.
This is the way we bribe the girls to love our house!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Lunch-Time Conversation with Caedmon

Caedmon (4 years old): "Mom, are teenagers adults that are kids?"
Me: "Umm, yeah, that's a pretty good definition."
C: "Tell me everything about teenagers."
Me: "Teenagers often make irrational decisions."
C: "Okay, what else?"
Me: "Teenagers experience a lot of hormonal changes."
C: "Okay, what else?"
Me: "Teenagers often have an increased attraction toward the opposite gender."
C: "Okay, what else?"
Me: "That's all I know."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A White-Mama Moment

Can I just remind everyone that black people hair is quite different than white people hair? Poor Sammy. Despite all our efforts to tame it, his hair has been getting more and more frizzy ever since we got home. And, evidently, other people have begun to notice as well...

The other day I was in Walmart when an African American woman stopped me.

She said, "Ma'am, may I ask you a question?"
Me: "Sure"
Her: "Do you ever put any type of oil on his hair?"
Me: "Well, I have this stuff called Shea Butter that I put on it every night. It's supposed to moisturize it."
Her: "No. Uuh-uuh. That's not gonna work. Look how dry his hair is."

She touches his hair and just says over and over again, "Look how dry it is. Do you see how dry it is?"

I nod my head rapidly in agreement, like confessing a sin. I felt the need to apologize or something. She told me of a couple products to try and when I walked away I just whispered to my son, "I'm sorry, Sammy. You've got a white mama and she doesn't know what in the world to do with your hair!"

The hair saga continues...

Last night Andy let me take a break and go to Starbucks for a couple hours after dinner. He said he was going to take the boys over to Super Cuts to get Sammy a haircut (for the first time). When I came home I was shocked to see that Sammy had been all but scalped! No more hair for Sammy, poor guy. Andy said it was quite the traumatic experience as Sammy was petrified of the clippers. He screamed the entire haircut head shaving.

Guess I won't be needing those hair products after all...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Better and better...

We're making progress here at the Wood household. It is painfully slow, but it is progress no less. Here is one example:

Sammy was having some pack-n-play time yesterday while I was getting ready. Pack-n-play time has improved from constant screaming to standing there watching my every move to occasionally engaging with his toys. Yesterday, Caedmon climbed in with him for a few minutes and there was (quite surprisingly) no screaming. I had to take a picture to remind myself that not 100% of their interactions involve tears.

Also, the past three nights Sammy has only woken up one time each night as opposed to the typical 4-5 times. That is VERY exciting for me and I am hopeful that the trend will continue.

Lest you think that life is smooth sailing around here...Sammy has bit Caedmon at least half a dozen times now and continually throws objects (like play screwdrivers) at all of us. Caedmon has a black eye and a gash on each eye from two separate incidents (not involving Sammy)...that should look nice for school pictures on Thursday. Sammy fell off a stool today and I called the nurse thinking he might have a concussion. The kitchen is now "off limits" for the boys because so many injuries happen in there. Caedmon is back on Albuterol and Flovent for wheezing which makes him absolutely insane. Sometimes in a funny way, sometimes in a I-might-put-you-in-a-straight-jacket way.

Me? I've only cried once so far this week, which I guess is progress, too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sound Sleeper?

This shirt is a total joke. We keep putting it on him hoping it will be prophetic. It's not working, yet...

"Hi, Sammy. How are you doing at 2 AM?"
"Sammy, good to see ya. (sarcasm) It's 3 AM."
4 AM: "Yep, we're still here. Didn't go anywhere in the last hour."
6 AM: "Sammy, go back to sleep. Still have another hour to sleep."

Oh, for a uninterrupted night of sleep...yawn.