Monday, April 27, 2009

Another busy weekend!

On Friday, Jenetta took the girls to the strawberry fields in Carlsbad. They both really love strawberries! We have lots of photos that we can't post, but you can use your imagination - they had red juice all over their faces!

Later that night, Jenetta made strawberry shortcake for us and mixed the whipped cream from scratch.

Then yesterday, we went to Austin Barnett's first birthday party. It was held at Lake Poway Park. O is fascinated with Austin in particular and all little ones in general. L thought it was really funny that Austin wiped the blue icing from his cupcake all over his face. Then we spent some time feeding the ducks, playing with our friends from home group, and inspecting Austin's new toys to insure they worked correctly! :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

My parents, my sister, and cousin Priya!

Last weekend, we had a full house! Jessica and her daughter Priya came down with my parents for a visit. The girls loved meeting their cousin, Auntie, and another set of grandparents! It's confusing for us and we wonder how they handle having ten (2 still to meet) people that you call grandpa or grandma, but it doesn't seem to faze them at all. We had been told over and over that adopted kids can never have too many adults to love on them, and we are seeing that to be true.

It was a lot of fun for us, and it was so nice to see family, but we breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday when things got back to normal. I guess we are all still in our adjustment period, and it will take us a while before we are ready to receive guests again :) Jenetta and I were talking about it afterward and the thing that was most challenging for us that we never felt like we had any down time. Things happened with the schedule for a variety of reason so that it didn't really work out for us to leave the girls with the grandparents, and when the girls were asleep, we were always visiting with family. Next time we will definitely take some time for ourselves!

Oh, and for the last pictures, we went with our friends from our home group to hang out at a pool since it was almost 100 degrees!!! The pool was chilly, but it felt good to cool off. Both O and L braved it enough to go down the slide at the deep end of the pool. I caught them and helped them swim back - it was so much fun!!!

Yesterday, O asked when Priya would visit again. :) Skype will have to do until July! :)

Sick Day

On Wednesday, O was sick. She woke up yelling at 6:00 am that she needed a bucket. The rest of the morning was spent sitting with her and running with her to the bathroom to hold her hair back over the toilet. God gave me a really good perspective of compassion for her that morning. We sat quietly together. I built a fort for them out of blankets and O layed down in there between trips to the bathroom.

Is this terrible to say? The sickness knocked down her usual energy level about 50 notches. She was calm, quiet, could think and speak and hear clearly, and was really pleasant to be around! Am I a horrible parent for thinking that?

I'll give you an example. Typically, she chases the dog around all day and bosses her around. Miranda tolerates it, but by the way she growls, it is clear she is unhappy with being told what to do and where to be all the time. We are constantly telling O to be nice to the dog and just play with her with the ball (Miranda's favorite game). On Wednesay, O was too sick to be very bossy. We didn't hear the usual shout "AWANDA, SIT!!!" over and over and over. They just laid together nicely on the ottoman as we watched Sesame Street. It was too cute:

By 11:30, she was feeling better, but still her energy level was way down. It made for a pretty good day.

Oh, and in case you were wondering why I was home all morning, Jenetta went with the social worker and the lawyer to the first court hearing for the girls. This is the beginning of the adoption process which should be completed some time around Christmas. We were all planning on going together, but with the illness, Jenetta just went by herself. Everything is proceeding normally on that front.

A bit behind

It's been a crazy few weeks, and I haven't put very many photos up. I have a few minutes to spare now.

Two weeks ago I took the girls to the Fleet Science center in Balboa park. We had a lot of fun. There is a little-kid zone that is perfect for them. They can touch, press buttons, whatever they want!

Jenetta's mom Joy was kind enough to go along with me to give Jenetta a break. On the way in, we stopped to check out the rose garden in Balboa park. That park is so awesome! There are so many cool things there. I wish it wasn't a 30 minute drive to get there! :)

Here are some photos of them at the rose garden.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Very tired, but thought I would try to post something...

On the days that I run at 5:30 before the girls get up, I am pretty much wiped out by the time the girls get to bed. So I don't have a lot of energy now, but I wanted to send out a quick update.

Things are going well. The girls are responding more and more to our instruction and guidance. Like any 3 and 4 year old, they are pushing boundaries and seeing what they can and cannot get away with. They are very affectionate with us now and are working well with the bedtime and naptime routine. Tonight we took them to Chipotle and ate with David, Courtney, and Isaiah. They were pretty good, but toward the end of our dinner, we could tell that it was time to go. O especially needs to move around a lot, so it is hard for her to sit politely at a table for so long.

Yesterday I was rewarded with a day off from work, so I took the girls to Del Mar to play on the beach. They loved the waves and the sand. They loved the sand a little too much, I think (they had it pretty much everywhere, and even after showering at the beach and when we got back home, there was still sand on their pillows after nap time :) The trip allowed me to give Jenetta a little break. Everything went really well, although it was difficult keeping an eye on two of them regarding the water. O wanted to play in the ocean, but L gets cold very quickly, so she was more interested in digging in the sand. It's tough to deal with that at low tide with only one parent! We had lots of compromise between them, and I ended up just holding L up out of the water while O experienced the waves coming in to her feet. Everything was great until I got back to the truck and realized that I had forgotten to pay the parking meter!!!! Argh!!!

We are excited for the girls to meet some of my family on Friday! My parents are driving down from Redding and they are bringing my sister Jessica and her daughter Priya along as well, so the girls will meet a cousin for the first time. We are really looking forward to the weekend together.

We are noticing many differences between the two girls. They have totally different interests and personalities. Because L is quieter and more thoughtful, it is easy to see how she was labelled the "good one" when O was identified as the "bad girl." We are doing our best to try to help O with the challenges she faces and to make her feel loved just the way she is. But she will need a lot from us and others to overcome some of the things she has been exposed to. And we will need a lot of patience in working with her - she is more than a handful at times!

Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter dresses

We took lots of photos today, but these are the only ones I can put on the blog. Sorry! The rest of them showed their faces much too clearly to put online.

They were really happy to be wearing their matching Easter dresses. They wanted to put them on Friday and yesterday, too. It was so hard for them to wait! :)

We had a tiny egg hunt inside this morning, and they traded in their empty eggs for a present to open - we had saved the two baby dolls that the Pavs got for them until today.

Church was fun - We were able to leave both of them in the preschool class the whole time by themselves without any problems. They had another egg hunt at church and O had a large volume of jelly beans to show for it. Mysteriously, while she was checking out the piano with Ryan after the service, all but two of them disappeared! O didn't seem to notice. She ate the last two and put her Easter-decorated bag into Mommy's purse.

They still get a little overwhelmed by everyone when we try to leave. Everyone is so nice and encouraging and wants to see them, but it gets a little too much sometimes. As we were making it to the door, O whispered to me "let's get outta here!" And I agreed! :)

Mommy is reading them a story now and getting them down for their nap. When they wake up, they will get to meet Uncle Cris and Auntie Alana, who are coming over for dinner.

The smells coming from the kitchen are calling to Daddy....

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good bedtime

Tonight was a really good night. We received a really yummy dinner from Donna Kalla and the girls went to town on it. (Taco salad is my favorite, and I think it is one of the girl's as well) It was delivered a bit earlier than I had expected, but that made for an earlier dinner, an earlier play time, earlier bath time, earlier story time and a slightly earlier falling asleep time. I might actually get to bed at a decent hour tonight! :)

O had her usual tiny tantrums, but we have a pretty clear routine that we follow, and they rarely last more than a minute now. She is learning what she can and cannot do. It seems that she has more of them around me than when just Jenetta is here, but she is often more wound up around me - we play rougher and louder when daddy is under the pile of blankets and pillows, etc. This probably ramps up her baseline for excitement, so a tiny thing not going her way brings on the tears.

One thing that concerns us is that O has very little compassion for her little sister. We have to remind ourselves that this has just not been modeled for her. She has a ME FIRST attitude in pretty much everything she does and sometimes this is really bad for L and we are doing our best to work on that. And we are not just talking about typical four year old stuff. It seems thoughtfully hurtful at times. It is a slow process, but we see the mental wheels turning for O a little bit.

The main reason I wanted to post tonight was that something happened during story time that could have gone very badly, but actually turned out really good. We read a book called David Gets In Trouble. The girls really liked David Goes to School yesterday, so we continued with the theme of a kid that does a lot of wrong things and makes up a lot of excuses. At first I really disliked the book, but after I saw what it is doing for the girls, it is growing on me. They ask "Why he do that?" on just about every page, and it leads to talks about why they do the things they do. We have calm, rational discussions about the progress they are making.

Whenever David does something wrong, L sighs "Oh, Man!" and I think that is priceless! But in one scene, he gets his mouth washed out with soap for saying a bad word. O talked about that because apparently this had been done to her before. This led to a conversation about spanking and hitting. I assured her that we would never put soap in her mouth or hit her. O talked about some things she had experienced before and the homes she had been in (as clearly as a four year old can do), so I mentioned that we love her very much and want them both to stay with us forever. She put her head down on my lap, and I thought she might be crying, so I asked her if that made her sad. I was worried about all these memories and what they would stir up.

But she just looked up and smiled and said "No, make me happy!"

Then we prayed together and they went to bed.

We meet with their social worker tomorrow, so it will be interesting to get her take on all this.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another friend dinner

I didn't take any photos last night because I was pretty tired, but we were really blessed to have our friends Nikki and Robbie (and little Abby) bring us dinner. The girls went to town on the BBQ chicken! They had so much fun interacting with Abby, too. O gets a little rough, so we have to keep a lid on that, but for the most part, they are pretty good at playing with and interacting with babies.

Jenetta had to step out for a while, so it was really huge to have the extra help for dinner. They were even kind enough to help clean up afterward, which is always a never-ending struggle.

I think one of the things I appreciated most is just feeling supported and loved. They know what we are going through, and it was nice to just be calm and relaxed in the midst of the chaos and talk with people who care and understand.

It was very calming and refreshing.

We had a loud awakening this morning: L walked out of her bedroom and the cat was running away from her and because she was just waking up, it scared her pretty badly. She screamed and started crying, so I got up to get her and comfort her. Her heart was pounding so hard!

But after some snuggling, all was well again.

Pray for Jenetta today - she is not feeling well. This is hard enough without being sick on top of it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Good Day/Bad Day

Today I think I did too much. I ran 12 miles in the morning, got the car washed for Jenetta, and then took the girls out for about two hours with our friends Blake and Rachael. We went on a hike to Lake Wohlford. We even saw a man catch a fish! Blake held it and O was willing to try to touch it, but L kept her distance :)

The hike was really great, and it was nice to have the help with the girls. It is so obvious that Blake and Rachael are going to be outstanding parents someday. They definitely have the gift!

Here are some photos from the hike:

Then we got sandwiches at Subway and took them home to mommy for lunch. After that, I got the girls down for a nap and mommy had to leave to shoot a wedding. From then on, I was on my own. Yikes!!!

The diaper thing was gross, but not as tough as I thought.

What was tough was playing/policing them all day by myself. O is really fond of getting into things that could potentially cause her great bodily injury. That was tough to deal with and it really wore me down after a while. Dinner at Lourdes was probably not the smartest decision on my part - but force of habit - It's what I do when Jenetta is gone! But by the time bath time had come around, I was pretty short with her and she knew it. Man - a four year old is really good at pushing buttons when they want to!!!

I think not having mommy around for dinner and bath time was disconcerting for L and she asked to get under the covers in O's bed after story time. This worked for about ten minutes until O started whispering things to L that really upset her. This incident was really heartbreaking for me. It was clear by what she said that some terrible things have been said to her, or somehow, she has developed an extremely negative image of herself. It really bothered me.

It took both of them longer than usual to settle down, but because O had started bath time at 7:30, they were still asleep sooner than the last few nights. Then I folded the six loads of laundry I had been working on all day, and cleaned up the house until Jenetta got home.

One of the things we learned in our adoptive parenting classes is that if you have a tough day, or blow it in some way, don't worry, you'll get a chance to do better tomorrow when the same thing happens again :) This is encouraging and frightening at the same time.

When I sat down to write this, our friend Laura had posted a comment that concluded this way:
". Most importantly, I think you all are realizing in a big way that when God says His grace is sufficient, He means that it grows to accomodate your need! Love to you...Laura"

I so needed to hear that tonight!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dinner with friends!

Ok, I know that some in our HG will be jealous about this, but we have decided to introduce the girls to our friends slowly so they don't get completely overwhelmed when we take them some Thursday night and everyone is there wanting to meet them for the first time.

We had to start somewhere :)

Tonight, we had Brandon and Crystal and Austin over for dinner. It was so much fun! The girls were really fascinated by Austin. They helped (sort of) to feed him, and played with him a lot. Brandon is a natural with the kids. Doesn't he look pretty playing dress up?

On a slightly more serious note, O has been taking to having breakdowns when interacting with me. Grandma Joy with her many years of preschool experience has suggested that maybe O is a bit concerned that if she is not a good girl, then daddy won't come back from work. This makes some sense because the tears only come when I am gently correcting her regarding undesirable behaviors. They never last long and mostly, she just wants me to hold her while she cries. This never happens to Jenetta who is with them most of the day everyday.

I'll give a good example from tonight. I made a phone call to another friend and O wanted to talk as well and hold the phone. She accidentally hit End and hung up on the call. When I explained to her that this is why we don't press buttons - just hold the phone, she started sobbing. We called right back and it was no big deal, but she didn't see it that way. All we can do is provide consistency and love. Hopefully, she will soon begin to feel secure that daddy is always coming back every afternoon and that even when she makes mistakes, I still love her unconditionally.

Anyway, here are some of the fun pics from tonight: (there are actually some much better ones but they showed faces too clearly for online posting - sorry!)

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I'm sure many of you are checking this and hoping for updates. Sorry we haven't had much - we've been busy parenting!!! (and too exhausted to do much else)

A few brief things:

- We are firmly in Mommy and Daddy mode. The girls have been calling us that consistently since the evening on day one.

- O seems to be through the worst of the temper tantrum phase. It seems clear to us that this worked for her in the past. The embarrassment or hassle of the screaming got her what she wanted. When she found out that no matter how much she screamed and cried that we were going to hold her and tell her she couldn't have/do/get/ whatever... but we were so sorry that it upset her and we love her very much... she decided that the tantrums really weren't worth it. They went from 20 minutes down to 5 and from four per day down to two. Today was tantrum-free for O. So that has been a relief!

- L is starting to assert herself which makes us happy. She is very quiet and definitely hides in O's shadow. We take this as a sign that she is feeling more comfortable. A few minor tantrums from her have actually been a welcome thing for us.

- Like any 4 and 3 year old, boundaries are always being pushed and tested. It is hard to be consistent, but we know what the right thing to do is. Plus it helps being married to about the most stubborn person I know :)

- Bedtime is probably the biggest challenge, but we have seen drastic improvement, and are putting a plan in place to have that be a more "normal" experience. The biggest obstacle is that O has so much energy. We lay her down and she kicks and tosses and turns in the sheets for a good half hour. I watch her and see her stare at the ceiling fan. I wonder what is going on in that tiny head. Her mind must be going a hundred miles an hour. L is no problem at bedtime. She sleeps like daddy does - pulls up the covers, yawns a few times, and she is out.

- People at church have been so kind to us to bring meals and flowers! We feel very loved. And it has been nice to have a grandma with so many years of preschool teaching experience. Her observations and time invested with the girls has been really helpful.

- We are starting to figure out the routine - and I was actually able to run four miles today! - Still haven't showered, though - I'm totally stinky, so I'm off to do that now :)

Thanks for your prayers!

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