Tuesday, March 27, 2012

7 weeks - 2 days - but who is counting?

I looked up and realized that we have just crossed the 7 week mark of being *forever*.  Whew ... I am seeing the 8 week finish line approaching very quickly.  That is how we go about life these days - little finish line victories along the way to celebrate.  We made it one more glorious week!  Something about crossing a goal leaves me feeling invigorated!

Z is learning a ton and his English is really starting to blossom.  Each day he seems to add words and even small phrases to his repertoire.  Of course, they all sound absolutely precious with that infamous Ethiopian twist to them.  Last night, we about died when he pointed to the fox on his book and said "Fock".  You can use your imagination on that one ... but let's just say we're hoping we don't run across any foxes in public these days.  
So ... as of recent, we have heard "Mommy, wut es dees"?  "Mommy cum un" (Come on).  This one is always combined with the traditional Ethiopian head nod and an American hand gesture to mean "come".  "Mommy, can I"?  This begins most all phrases of desire and is accompanied by a head nod that according to Z means "You should say "des".  "Conyon base-uh-bole".  Of course, you add in that head nod again and this one isn't actually a statement but rather a question that means "Hey, we going to watch Canyon play baseball?  "Ee-taw-betty's" (strawberries), "Bikle" (bicycle), "Du-Ko-Tuh" - and please, make sure you stress each syllable and that becomes "Dakota" and well,  Maliah is said as "My-yuh".   

Those are things I can think of off the top of my head.  And in reality, you could probably care less but I just wanted to be sure I wrote some of those down as I know as time progresses, Z will sound more American than Ethiopian ... a reality that leaves me a little sad.  

The first 5 or 6 weeks I was definitely just living to survive each day.  It seems in the past few weeks that I have gotten into a better rhythm.  I did change a few ways I am doing things ... which for me means loss of sleep (of course).  I am now awaking before the roosters crow so that I can get my shower for the day.  Something about being clean changes ones entire perspective on life ... 
5:35 am that alarm goes off.  Now, if I could just squeeze out a workout, that would be really great.  Not sure how I can muster that one in too though since wake up for the big kids school days are 6:10 am.   Could someone loan me an hour?  

I also subscribed to e-meals to help me plan out a few meals each week.  I have actually been pretty impressed with most of the things I have cooked and find that most of the recipes are super easy.  Here's a picture of my Stromboli I made the other night.  Now, granted ... it isn't beautifully perfect ... but HELLO ... it was delicious and well ... a fully cooked meal made me feel like a modern day Super Woman.  Hey peeps ... our goals are small these days!  
Yummy Stromboli

Behavior with Z seems to come in waves.  I have noticed in the past 2 weeks that he thinks he is part comedian - only he's the only one laughing.  He does all sorts of silly things when I am asking him to do something.  And no, don't give him the excuse of a language barrier as this kid is bright and knows EXACTLY what I am asking.  I just think he got out of a lot of discipline at the TH by being "Cute" or "Funny".  The problem is, this Momma isn't as easily amused.  I try to give it some grace, but after the 10th time, I usually have to start deep breathing exercises so I don't loose it.  

Yes ... this silly kid.  Comedian extraordinaire!  

I also see at some points in the day (it appears it is when he is more tired) that he will literally just go banannas.  Not as in tantrums (well, that too), but as in running around, jumping on things, throwing things down and becoming completely out of control.   This is a behavior we have coined recently as "spinning".  And boy ... he can spin!  

As for attachment progress.  I don't know.  I thought we were coming a long way until this past weekend.  When we are home alone (he and I) during the day, he is affectionate, responsive and sweet.  Life on those days feels - well - normal.  But this past weekend, all of that was put to the real test and well - we failed!  Canyon had a baseball tournament and I thought I'd go out for at least one of the games since the tournament was close.  While we were there I noticed several behaviors that reminded me just how far we still have to go.  *sigh*  
When we are around others, he becomes belligerent and ugly towards me.  It is as though he thinks that "these other Nanny's will give me something you don't".  Either that, or he is full on testing me to see if I am the same everywhere. I. go.  
After a few time ins (from sticking his tongue out at me, throwing rocks over and over when I had told him not to) and watching him seek others out for the basics in life  (those things most 4 year old's would turn to Mommy or Daddy for) or work to manipulate his way into getting something he wanted from someone else, I realized that we needed to head home.  

This. was. not. easy.

One of the hardest parts of this adoption for me has been the loss of time with my oldest kids.  As I was packing up to leave, Canyon came out of the dugout (getting ready to begin the next game) and was so eager and excited to tell us that Coach was putting him on the mound (to pitch) for the next game.  *sigh*!  I would be missing it.
As I toted out my two youngest kids, thinking about missing out on my sweet boy and knowing the *work* that I *got* to do when I got home (baths and more) - again - I became so resentful.  Resentful of my husband who got to stay and enjoy.  Resentful of this life that I was now living.  Resentful that I had to be the one to miss out.  Resentful that others were having fun.  Resentful that that even while I was there ... I was no less present than if I wasn't because I was so busy taking care of this kid *again*.  

UGH ... there is that fleshly, nasty, heart of mine creeping in *again*.  

I wept.  I am pathetic.

The reality of adoption is that their is so many hard moments.  I won't lie ... There is!  
But, as I bathed my little boy and went into his room that night ... the Lord showed me ever so sweetly just what * everyone else * was missing out on that night and what I would be missing out on if I had chosen the easy road.

Z climbed up in that rocking chair he has come to love.  Tapping on it's seat he said "Mommy, sit down".  This, of course, his way of letting me know he wanted to be held and rocked.  And as I did, that little boy of mine crawled up in my lap and positioned himself just like a newborn baby would.  As I looked into his eyes, we began to sing together.  One song after another ... the same we sing each and every time we crawl up in that chair together.  And as we did, his voice began to taper off after some time.  His eyes began to draw weary and close and there, in that dark room I realized one. more. time .... just what I would have MISSED if I had not been willing to live in the hard moments.  These ones ... the ones where you look down at the face of a child once called an orphan,  siting in a dark room and realize that the Lord who created Him thought enough of You to choose you.  And no - KNOW, he doesn't make mistakes!  

This is my typical view these days as I make dinner.  He watches me over the counter.  

It's spring in Texas ... that means, you should eat outside when possible (according to two girls I know).  

Sassy Maliah.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Give me a break!

Spring Break that is!  This past week was a whirlwind of fun.  Zebene experienced all sorts of firsts and I tried when possible to capture a few through the lens.  These days, that is harder than it sounds.  Did you know ... I'm totally outnumbered!

Monday we enjoyed a day at the park with my parents and my sweet friend, Jen Verme who just came home with Alain from Rwanda.  Alain is 16 and he and Canyon spent hours playing soccer together that day.  Alain can speak pretty good English, but then again ... they are boys and they both speak the language "sport".  Who needs words!!  I wished I had a photo of them two together.   I don't because well, I was too busy trying to keep my monkey's safe on the park.  Any park photos were captured by Granny that day as I was busy catching THEM!

I awoke in the middle of the night Monday with a massive migraine.  I was sure I was about dying it was so bad.  Our Tuesday plans for Sea World fun were postponed and Zebene experienced a first ... going somewhere without his Mommy and Daddy.  Indeed, we had to break our biggest adoption rule yet.  I figured being cared for by someone was better than running the house amuck.  The kids enjoyed a movie and errands with my parents - all FOUR of them!  Thank the Lord for Granny and PiPa!  And well, one week later - things don't look any different in the attachment world so a few hours didn't seem to matter much.

Wednesday, Dakota had her horse lessons.  I decided to take Zebene out there with me.  For the first time, my boy who is fiercely afraid of dogs - pet two on his own.  He loved to say "horse" from afar ... but petting one, well, we're not quite there yet.  Baby steps, baby steps!

Thursday was Sea World Day.  My parents, once again, helped me with this endeavor.  Four kids, massive crowds and one that was on total sensory overload was definitely more than this Momma could handle alone.  The day started off great.  Zebene rode his first "roller coaster".  It was his idea.  Now, I'm not talking the Steel Eel or anything.  I am talking the itty bitty Shamu ride for toddlers.  But, this is the same boy who only recently will go down a slide at the park so these were some serious steps on his part. I won't lie ... he was TERRIFIED.  The pictures say it all.  Of course, when it was over ... he wanted to go again.
Can you see that terrified face?  

We made it!  And if you can believe it ... he smiled, giggled and wanted to go again.  

Watching Zebene experience Sea World was perhaps as priceless as the tickets themselves.  I about cried the first time that Shamu jumped from the water and saw the look on his sweet face of complete bewilderment.  He was SO surprised and amazed.  He literally jumped backwards in his seat and from that moment on, his eyes never left the water.  As the show ended a man behind us bent forward and made a comment about how enamored Zebene was with it all.  Little did the man know ... my kid had only been out of the walls of an orphanage and transitional home for 5 1/2 weeks ... life itself is one big Shamu show at this point!

Those eyes never left that show!  

It's a good thing that I have that sweet moment of Sea World.  The end of the day wasn't quite as beautiful.  During the wait for another show, Zebene decided he'd test his boundaries and his Momma.  Let's just say, I carried him out before the show began and 45 minutes later, when the rest came out from enjoying the dolphins,  he was just settling down from his long and drawn out tantrum complete with hitting and biting.  Whew!  I told Doug that Sea World was a little like the poop in the Brownie story we have told our kids.  You know the one?  When you make a batch of brownies with a bunch of kids and as your making them you add in just a little bit of poop.  The poop is supposed to represent impure things that you might add in your life.  As humans we like to rationalize those things (improper TV, music, language, etc), but the reality is, you wouldn't eat a batch of yummy brownies with a little bit of poop in them, would you?  Why add those things to your life?   Well, that was my day.  I'm human and I won't lie ... that tantrum and those moments were the little bit of poop to ruin my whole batch of brownies.  I'm working hard today to forget the poop ...

My big kid rode their very first roller coaster.  Here they GO!  

Priceless!  Caught them on the downside.  Dakota is the blonde with the hair going wild, Canyon is next to her in the orange!  They rode it two more times.  My thrill seeking, adventure kids!  

Wednesday was Doug and I's 14th Wedding Anniversary.   Seeing as how we are working to be the only ones to care for Zebene these days (unless Migraines are in the mix), we decided that we'd take the whole fam damily to dinner.  The Martine party of 6 arrived at Olive Garden to celebrate and well, celebrate we did!  We had a great time sharing in our celebration with the 4 bi-products of our years and love.  The waitress laughed pretty hard when I asked her to take our picture as a family.  As if Olive Garden was some hoity toity affair or something - I don't think she thought I was serious at first  (yeah, I could totally see the look on her face).   Little did she know, we were celebrating a whole lot more than our marriage ... this week ... I was celebrating that I was still surviving!  I was also celebrating that at nap that day ... I moved Zebene out of my room and into HIS.  That's right, our sweet boy is so excited to be in his own "tuluq" bed and well,  I'm just as excited.  It's made getting ready in the morning So. Much. Easier!
My dates for my anniversary ... less the one responsible for all of this

I know ... I have the most handsome boys around

Canyon and I and Dakota pondering 14 years of marriage

The whole fam damily!  So romantic!

Sweet nothings ... at least someone got them.

My view across the table.  Not a bad one.  

My honey ...
I think he likes that "Tuluq" bed

Friday Doug stayed home and joined us for the break.  We decided to go out the Guadalupe River for a little fishing and a picnic.  As we left the house the sky was black and it was beginning to rain.  Not quite the river experience I was hoping for.  BUT, it seems big catfish like overcast and rainy days.  Maliah dropped her line in and within about a minute caught about a 3 pounder.  You should have seen her face!  Better yet ... you should have seen Zebene's.  He's still telling me today, "feesh, feesh ... wat-ar feesh".   They ended up catching two more of equal size within just minutes.  But of course, with 4 kids ... fishing lasted only as long as it took to catch those and for me ... Momma ... to run as fast as I could to get the camera out of the car.  *sigh*
It wasn't long until they were all wading around and jumping rocks.  When we arrived at the river Zebene wasn't quite sure of the water.  When he doesn't like something, he whimpers and makes a horrible face.  He did that upon arrival but by the time we left I was having to tell him to stay up in the shallow areas and he was going to town throwing rocks into the water.
Maliah's Catfish

It's bigger than her head

You go girl!

Z wasn't so sure at first ...

You've got to kiss a few frogs - er - fish in your life before you get a prince!

River fun

My real break came on Friday night when a friend kidnapped me for a date night dinner.  As a fellow adopting Momma, she knew just how much those few hours would mean to my soul.  I can't even tell you how refreshing it was to sit on a patio, eat fattening food and laugh with a friend who has a kindred heart.   She also knew just the things I needed to hear about right now.  Words that she doesn't speak easily ... but ones that she has learned herself.  Things like "you don't have to feel guilty for not liking him sometimes" and "it's o.k. to have to remember the story ... the story of why you even got to this place".  Oh sweet friend, you hit the nail on the head.  I drove home knowing that she was so right.  Adoption is ugly.  I won't lie.  It's a brutal and hard process.  Think of the moments and hours that led up to the cross.  Can you imagine what the Lord must have felt when he was being rejected by the very people he was suffering to save?  As he was being beaten, spit on, lashed and bruised until he was bloody, do you wonder if he was thinking "Dudes, do you even have a CLUE what I am doing for you ... I am SAVING YOU"?

These days, we are Zebene's cross.  I get to bare the brunt of his anger and frustrations.  I get to be the one that he bites, kicks and rejects.  It doesn't feel good and well, there have been many moments that I have thought "Dude, do you even have a CLUE what your life would be like if it weren't for us" or better yet "Do you even care how much I have done for you"?  The reality is.  He doesn't.  He doesn't care and he doesn't understand.  For one ... he's four.  Secondly, he's human.  Thirdly, he's selfish - but then again, so am I.

But, the prayer is that one day ... just as in our own adoptions, he will walk over the bridge of redemption to full and complete healing.

So, my hours with my sweet friend were like a wind on a hot day.  I so needed that cool breeze.
Thank you ... you know who you are ... Thank you!!

So we press on.   We've hit the 6 weeks mark and today was a good day.  Well ... it's only half over, but these days, we're thankful for those moments that remind us that we are making progress in this journey called transition.   And well, on the harder moments ... we'll just remember this face.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One Month "self-report"

5 weeks forever ... but whose counting?

I can't even believe it's only been 5 weeks.  That sounds negative and it isn't meant to be  - but I do say that in an honest way.  It feels like forever ago that we were in Ethiopia getting our sweet little boy.  In 5 short weeks my life has become a whirlwind of change and I am still learning what our new "normal" is.

I sifted through my inbox e-mails this past week.  First, my apologies for the many I have yet to respond to.  But in the stash, I found my "Welcome Home" e-mail from America World with the attached link to print out and complete my "one month self report" (post placement).  My reality check that indeed, we have been home an entire month and a reminder that our kids - kids from hard places - are anything but "normal" and gasp, come with *issues*.   Hmmm, perhaps a new "normal" isn't even possible?   As I read through the questions, however,  I was also reminded of just how awesome Zebene is doing!

There is a slew of issues that a family may deal with during the attachment, transition and bonding process of an adoption.  As I mentioned in my post "26.1 miles to go", adoption is a journey and definitely not a destination.   To add to that, there is no one along the way with mile markers to tell you how far you have to go until you have "arrived".  There is no one holding up posters as you round the bend to the next crowd to cheer you over that hill.   No water stations, or cheering fans.  In fact, for many families, you begin the race and no one even tells you how far you have to run or what sorts of mountains you will have to climb along the way.   It's like going into a marathon half trained.  I mean, no offense Karen Purvis ... but your book and my life just don't seem to add up.   Did you know I have 3 more kids to parent?   Where was the training for that?

As I look through this "self-report" paper work I have come to the reality that our little guy is doing great and well, it might be ME with the issues.

Our little guy now will go off to sleep all on his own.  He still sleeps in our room, next to us on our floor and on many mornings I will return to find him playing in his bed.  This is a great sign of contentment.  He eats wonderfully and the shoulder shrug and "sniff test" have become farther and fewer between.  I think he is actually starting to believe that his Mommy fixes yummy foods ... foods he is more eager to try.  And boy does he eat!!  We're still working on just how soon he needs to climb up to the table for each meal.  As soon as the food comes out to prepare, we hear "Eat" and he is up and ready for his feast.  Never mind the fact that it still may have an hour to cook.   Poor guy.

Our communication is still difficult when it comes to him picking up words and me feeling like he fully understands me when I am trying to re-direct his behaviors.  Then again ... he has quickly taken on the word "no mommy" and loves to tell me every. single. moment. what we will do next.  I can chalk that one up to the infamous *control* issues that most of our kids will struggle with.  You would too if your world had always been out of control.  Here is one of my issues I talked about.  I know this - and it STILL drives me bonkers.   I'll let you in on a secret ... I am the one who likes to be in control!

Zebene doesn't seem to show indiscriminate affectionate to strangers necessarily but absolutely LOVES his PiPa and Granny.  I tease them that I am certain they put addictive drugs in their home as after the very first visit ... he began to ask ALL. DAY. LONG for "PiPa's house".  Of course, after trip 3, I realized that this kid is all about repetition and well ... all 3 trips he was given ice cream for "snack".  My thoughts were dead on.  Drugs = ice cream.  This kid aint no fool.  No wonder he tells me "Mommy - no, PiPa - des".

Zebene is affectionate with each of us, but it comes on his terms and his timing.  If he has been recently reprimanded or you have done something that he isn't in favor for ... you might be the recipient of the cold shoulder and the infamous "shoulder shrug".   Lately I have also gotten some pretty harsh looks and complete diverting of any eye contact as I was the one who put him in a 'time in" or made him do something that wasn't his idea.
The past two days he has wanted little to do with me.  Here goes another one of my issues ... that rejection hurts!!!

He doesn't steal, isn't destructive to himself or others.  He doesn't eat strange things, hide food or gorge himself.  We do have to tell him "all done" after adequate helpings as with most kids from an institution or malnourishment, he doesn't seem to have a 'Full barometer" yet.   He isn't cruel to animals and even seems to get his feelings pretty hurt when he is punished (showing remorse/conscience - this is a good thing).

The list of questions and concerns could go on and on ... but you get the idea.   Zebene is doing darn good.  We still have a long road ahead ... but things could definitely be harder.

So, as I sat looking through this list, I began to wonder what in the heck is my problem.  I mean, we definitely have some issues to work through and have a kid who doesn't understand a lick of what we are saying ... but things. could. be. worse.
And still, my days have been hard.  Last week, I found myself sitting in the HEB parking lot bawling like a baby, on the phone with my hubby telling him just how hard this was.  I'll admit, I have had moments when I have wondered "what in the heck have I done"?   I have felt guilty for not doing all the "Karen Purvis" things I know I should be doing.  I have felt guilty for doing all the Karen Purvis things I want to do and then realizing that by doing them ... I have now completely missed out or neglected my other 3 kids.  I have felt guilty because no one has clean clothes (because I was busy with intentional play).  I have felt guilty because everyone has clean clothes (which meant that Zebene was playing cars on the floor by himself).   I have felt guilty for dragging Zebene to the store, the bank and the UPS store - all in the same day and yet, the reality is, I have realized that my life requires that some days - we have to go to the store, the bank and the UPS store.
I wonder every single day if I am doing enough for the attachment process and measuring myself up to books written by *men* (and woman) about how I am *supposed* to do this.
I also secretly miss all the things I love to do - my workouts, cleaning my house with the music on loud and just *me time*.  Yep, I have another issue ... there are moments I wished I could have just take the easy way out.  Obedience is tough.

In the past month, I also have realized this - the world didn't stop because I adopted!  GASP!

Then tonight, I realized something else -  my God KNOWS this!

So tonight, I went into our room, turned out all the lights and I sat down in the rocking chair that Doug's Grammy gave me - 12 years ago (for the birth of Canyon).  I motioned to Zebene to come to me and up he jumped, right into my lap.  I turned him around and just like any little baby would - he laid his head down on my shoulders and cuddled up in the comfort of Mommy's arms.  I began to sing praises and within moments, tears came to my eyes.
Soon, my songs turned into prayers and into the sweetest and most needed conversation of all.  The one with the ONE who called us!   Through my tears I confessed ... this is hard.  I can't do this anymore!  Through my tears I praised him ... "I am not worthy to give him all he needs".

The reality is, my days are hard.  I won't lie.  One month post placement and a look back tells me - we've come a long way and well ... we have a long way to go.
But tonight, as I sat in my rocking chair and cried over my little boy I was reminded in my conversation with the Lord ... I don't have to do it all right.  I don't have to be perfect.  In my weakness - he is strong.  In my imperfections - he is perfect.   Guilt isn't from him.  And well, frankly, while all those books are wonderful and definitely tools to keep handy, the only one who really knows the answers is the one who already knows the pathway to our Zebene's heart.   Whew!

My daily reality won't change.  Tomorrow will be just as hard.  BUT ... perhaps what will change is my perspective.  He knows this is hard.  He knows I can't do all of this.  He knows I am not perfect.  He knows I have a mountain of laundry and a kid who needs all of me PLUS 3 more who need just as much.  He knows I am selfish and miss my *me time*.  He knows all of this and yet, somehow he still thought enough of me to choose me.   What in the word!

One Month Post Adoption Self - Report - Still Not Worthy - but CALLED!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Take me out to the ball game!

I won't lie, it feels like a decade ago that we were in Ethiopia.  There is that old saying "Time flies when your having fun".  I'm not saying we aren't having fun  ... but then again, has it only been a month???
I'll bring in my thoughts on month one soon ... until I can get all those thoughts organized, however, I thought I'd post a Zebene first.

I flew the chickens coop this past weekend.  We officially broke all our rules and I joined my sweet husband for one of Canyon's baseball games on Saturday.  Yep ... Zebene's introduction to the great American game of baseball.  All we lacked is the apple pie.

I loaded up the little's (that is what I lovingly call my two precious children born of my heart and happen to be the youngest) after nap time and drove an hour to San Marcos to join my hubbs and to see my big boy play.  Zebene did great and it was so fun to be a part of "life" again.   It almost made me feel "Normal" - almost.

Sunday rolled around and Canyon had a morning game.  Thinking they'd probably get in one or two games and not make it real far in the series (they moved up to a higher and more competitive bracket this year so we figured it would take a few tournaments to warm up), I sent Doug and Dakota out and decided the little's and I would hang out at home.  Not to mention, one said Kindergartner informed me that morning that she was "Star" student and had to have a poster done by - oh - Monday.  LOVELY!  I love procrastination.
 Noon rolled around and my phone was being bombarded with all sorts of awesome texts about Canyon hitting RBI's for a win and our Angel's moving on to the next bracket ... 4:00 pm would be game time.
Given that knowledge, I packed up those little's again and headed back out.   Who likes a chicken coop anyways?

Two games later - One of them for the Championship - and 10:00pm, we rolled back into the driveway with four exhausted kids and two exhausted parents.  Yep, Martine party of 6!!    We made it!

Zebene ... welcome to the great American past time - Baseball!  There is no time like the present to introduce you to the sport your brother rock's at - and your family loves.   Dr. Karen Purvis ... I am certain we found all sorts of sensory activities to enjoy in during our day  - climbing on the backs of the bleachers, digging in the mud and partaking in our first Texas snow cone just to name a few.

Zebene had a great time and well, might officially be the newest Angel's good luck charm.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No need for words

No need for words ...

© Lead us to Levi

Website Design by CoffeeShop Designs