True

[We are home and attempting to regain order and a schedule. We WILL dominate jet lag... just not today. And when someone isn't sleeping, they are probably on the phone with some government-run organization attempting to figure out how to add E to our insurance plan... I'm going to use a few posts to wrap up a few things from our trip.]

Nasko was very, very homesick while we were in Europe. He would constantly talk about things from back home - especially his oversized, stuffed dog, True, who he sleeps with every night.

My parents came to join us in [EEC] the final week we were there. Chance and I begged them to bring True. My mom and dad worked together on journalling and documenting the way they were able to help Nasko with his homesickness -

Merry Ann Malcolm wrote:

When I asked Ginger what they wanted us to bring to help life go more smoothly, I said, “Just don’t ask me to bring True (Nasko’s huge stuffed dog, definitely a favorite).  Well, she asked us to bring True — in one of those vacuum sealed bags so he was much smaller.

IMGP6499 IMGP6500 IMGP6501 IMGP6502 IMGP6503 IMGP6504

She had told Nasko we were bringing him a surprise and he WAS surprised.  He had been guessing toy camper since he and Diado spend time looking at/playing with their campers whenever they are together.  Even when we pulled the bag from the suitcase, he had no idea what it was.  However, once he recognized True, he was ecstatic — laughing, smiling, hugging him!

Here’s a video of Nasko receiving True after my parents arrived. He was SO happy!

Having True (and my parents) seemed to help alleviate Nasko’s homesickness somewhat! And my parents agree – it was worth lugging that big dog around the planet to see Nasko so happy!

Making Him Our Own

Today we go back to the Orphan Court, but this time we have three children with us!

We will report on our time with E, and how it has been to host him.

We will then ask permission to bring E home with us on a Visa.

Please join us in praying for our day at court. We really feel as though E is a member of our family already. We cannot wait to get him home to meet all our friends and family, and to begin taking him to doctors and specialists.

We’re so excited for the day we can finally call him “our own” and today is just another step in the process. Thank you for praying for our family!

Good Day

Reasons today is a good day:
1. The sun is shining.
2. My parents arrived last night.
3. The boys had a good morning.
4. I’m feeling more rested (probably getting used to the time change, just in time to come home this weekend!)
5. E’s Visa photos are done – one step closer to bringing him home.
6. And, well, most importantly, the gluten-free bakery was selling this:

20140714-140434-50674399.jpg
How’s your day?

How’s it going?

Our adoption agency emailed me on Thursday asking a very innocent question – “How’s it going?”

Here was my response, because I thought some of you might be interested too:

I was having a slight emotional breakdown when you sent this, and I knew I shouldn’t respond until I had a better perspective! I’m better now, so here’s what’s up:

Things are good. I’m ready to go home though. [City Name] is a fun city and I would have LOVED it with just Chance, but it’s a difficult place to go with children. (Think: no one smiles even when your adorable babies wave at them. Or most restaurants have no high chairs. A few have one – but we need two! Or I can’t eat anything that has touched gluten, and a chef tonight refused to cook my “special order” sandwich without a bun – but not until we had gotten drinks and waited quite a while with hungry kids, so we had to leave the restaurant and start over at a new one!)

My oldest is having a hard time regulating here, so his behavior is obsessive and impulsive. He’s honestly doing the best he can with the circumstances, but when you know he can do way better (at home) it’s frustrating as a parent.

But! But! Only seven more days!

And my parents arrive tomorrow.

And I’ve resolved that Satan will not steal my joy (because that’s what he wants… He’s not happy that E now has a future and hope!)

E is wonderful though. He’s your typical, opinionated three-year-old who can’t communicate because of a language barrier and speech delay – so loooots of screeching. We’re working on using sign language though, and when he remembers to sign and not screech, he is SO proud of himself. His smile is worth all the hard stuff!

He’s started giving lots of kisses and he has become comfortable enough to pick on our youngest – I think that’s a good sign!

He has really bonded with Chance, and seems to enjoy being Chance’s buddy!

So, things are good. :) But things will be even better when we get home.

A Day in the Life

I haven’t been able to keep up with journaling daily, but I don’t want to forget how we spent our time here in [EEC]. This post will document a semi-typical day for us using pictures and brief descriptions. These pictures have not been edited (except one). Heck, most aren’t even in focus…

A day in the life!

 

7:15

I wake up to hear the thud, thud, thud of Nasko’s feet on the bare wood floor.

Louis and I are greeted by Nasko saying, “Good morning! How you sleep?” [That's how they ask in Krio - in Sierra Leone, Africa]

7:30

Chance and E wake up. [They are sleeping in their own room. E doesn't want to sleep alone and I can't sleep through E's snoring.]

IMG_5210

8:37

The boys all meet in the living room to look out the window.

IMG_5214

8:55

I remember that it is our first social worker visit today, and I begin cleaning like a mad woman.IMG_5215

Chance and Nasko pull up our YouTube Worship Music playlist.  It helps keep everyone’s spirits lifted while we are here (and totally out of routine).IMG_5216

Louis opts for some early morning Sesame Street.IMG_5217

I start making a laundry pile for our itty bitty washer.IMG_5218

8:58

Chance tells me to open the window because there is a beautiful breeze today. He is right!IMG_5219

Chance joins me in cleaning, but as he bends down to clean under the couch, he’s all-of-a-sudden got a passenger!IMG_5220

9:04

I gathered all our water bottles to wash them out. They’ve been a lifesaver here as it is sometimes difficult to find “still” water at restaurants. [People here prefer sparkling water. Bleh.]IMG_5221

9:19

Nasko asks for chocolate cereal. He already had a donut. [Only healthy foods on this trip, obviously.]IMG_5222

9:48

After getting the apartment completely clean, I decided it was time for a shower. Well, because, this.IMG_5224

10:10

I attempted to take a shower alone, but someone kept whining outside the door. So, instead, I took a shower with this view.IMG_5225

10:19

I attempt to take a selfie demonstrating that I look much better than I did before a shower.IMG_5226 IMG_5227 IMG_5228

10:20

I realize I am horrible at taking selfies.IMG_5229

10:21

I brush my teeth with this view.IMG_5230 IMG_5231

10:23

Chance finished some work and started a movie on Netflix. He only gets four minutes into the movie.IMG_5232

Nasko attempts to master an airport game.IMG_5233

10:27

I tell Louis to go pick out a book while Taty showers. This is the face he makes.

IMG_5234

10:28

We read “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.”

IMG_5235

10:30

We read “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”IMG_5236

Nasko moves closer to listen, but pretends he isn’t.IMG_5237

10:33

E joins us for “Up, Up, Down.”IMG_5238

10:38

E would rather go outside, so he gets his shoes.IMG_5241

10:39

We read “Llama, Llama Red Pajama.”IMG_5242

10:41

We start getting ready to go outside. Nasko asks to bring his toy goat. He wants to put his leash on it. Together, Taty and I make the collar small enough for the goat.IMG_5244

10:46

I nurse Louis.

IMG_5246

10:58

We make the long descent down.

IMG_5249

Chance runs down the steps while holding E. E thinks it is hilarious. IMG_5250

11:01

Chance gets the double stroller from the basement storage room and we put the littles in it.IMG_5251

11:09

We are walking and looking for a gluten-free bakery that is supposed located just two blocks from our apartment.IMG_5252 IMG_5253

11:11

We find it!

Mama buys tons of pastries and gluten free pizza for lunch.IMG_5255

11:42

E begins throwing a fit as we unload back at the apartment. We’re not sure why, but it has to be bad – he refuses to eat anything. IMG_5256

11:48

I sing “Oh How I Love Jesus” to him while looking out the window, and he finally calms down.

IMG_5257

 

11:52

Everyone eats leftovers for lunch.IMG_5258

Except Mama who bought pizza.IMG_5259

12:00

The social worker and translator arrive. I don’t get to finish my pizza.

We discuss how E is doing, any concerns we have, and strategies for getting him to wear his brace and glasses. IMG_5260

12:58

Chance reads “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” to the littles while I try to answer questions.IMG_5261

1:39

I finally return to my pizza.IMG_5263

1:58

We put the boys down for naps, and I nurse Louis.IMG_5264

5:54

After EVERYONE wakes from naps and has a snack, we head back outside. We are exploring with the general goal of finding a fresh food market that the translator told us about. [Spoiler alert, we never make it that far!]

IMG_5266

 

6:04

We are still walking and not halfway there yet, I’m sure. I’m walking off these three pieces of pizza I ate for lunch.IMG_5267

6:16

We stop in at our favorite park. There is a flea market of sorts that is taking place there this week. IMG_5270

6:22

We follow our ears to a stage with a sign reading “World Choir Competition.” We listen to a couple of the choirs perform.IMG_5273

6:27

As we continue walking, we happen upon a choir from Atlanta, GA. They were very talented! Nasko attempts to chase an injured pigeon the entire time we are watching this group.IMG_5274

6:35

Back out on the street, I spot Freedom Monument for the first time.IMG_5275

6:43

We enter into a part of the Old Town that we had not been to before. We had apparently only been on the outskirts and had missed the main touristy part. IMG_5277

7:03

By this time we are hungry for anything, and decide to eat at Rockabilly’s. IMG_5278 IMG_5279 IMG_5280

7:11

Nasko tries calamari and doesn’t care too much for it until I show him a picture of squid on my iPhone, and he eats a bunch of it.IMG_5281

7:19

My pork kabob arrives.IMG_5282

7:28

Chance torments everyone at the table with his crawfish. I wonder why I have agreed to living with all boys.IMG_5283

7:43

Nasko is startled, but intrigued, by a local street performer.IMG_5284

7:45

We give Nasko and the little boys the “go ahead” to chase some pigeons. This is Nasko’s favorite pastime here.IMG_5285 IMG_5286 IMG_5287 IMG_5288

8:09

Nasko can’t seem to calm down, even after a bathroom break, so we hire a bicycle taxi to take us back to our apartment. This turns out to be the best decision we made all day.IMG_5289 IMG_5293

8:10

We drive back by Freedom Monument.IMG_5294 IMG_5295

8:23

We return up the five flights of stairs to our apartment.

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.10.22 PM

 

 

 

After this, we hurry to do medicine, diaper changes, and bedtimes. While working on this post, Chance and I witness a bar fight outside our apartment and watch the police arrive and chase suspects.

This, my friends, has been a day in the life. [Is it any wonder I am exhausted?!]

Life Hacks in [EEC] #2

I did a post last week of all the “creative” ways we’ve adapted to spending a month overseas, and I wanted to update since we’ve come up with a few more!

20140711-163927-59967681.jpg
I used masking tape to keep the littles from turning on the bidet (which has too much water pressure and sprays right onto the floor). Because, really, you can only say, “Louis, stop rinsing the toothbrushes in the bidet” so many times everyday.

20140711-164349-60229530.jpg
The apartment did not come with child safety locks, of course, so we invented our own! We started with just rolling a towel and pushing it through the handles, but it was no match for our kids. Tying the towel in a knot did the trick though!

20140711-164551-60351138.jpg


There’s no clothes dryer or outdoor clothesline here, and I only brought two bibs for messy meals (I didn’t think E was going to be Louis’ size, you might remember!) so we need these suckers to dry quickly. Chance figured out that we could shut the window on one sleeve, and have dry bibs in time for the next meal!

(I have no picture, but I do have a life hacking fail: We use a bathmat under Louis’ high chair to make clean up a bit easier. One night, it was especially caked with food. I brought it to our kitchen window to shake off the contents. There’s only a roof below, and I knew the scraps would be eaten by birds – no problem, right? Well, Chance had doubled up on the towels that night and I shook one all the way down four stories… I probably should have emailed the landlord, but I was too embarrassed!)

20140711-165238-60758176.jpg
Here’s one of those reused milk jugs again! Chance bought me flowers, and I had the perfect vase for them!

20140711-165345-60825120.jpg
At home, I used a glass jar for grease. Here, those jars are precious for leftovers, so I lined a coffee cup with foil to hold the hot grease from the beef I browned. (At least we think it was beef; it may have been pork.)

20140711-165613-60973293.jpg
I saved the rubber bands from last night’s asparagus because I just KNEW we’d come up with a use for them! This morning, Nasko wanted his goat to wear a leash (who wouldn’t?) but the collar needed some alterations. Rubber bands to the rescue!

I thought we’d mastered it all last week when I posted life hacks, but apparently not, so I may have even more by the time we fly home in nine days!

What I Know

I don’t know everything about E and his past, of course, but here are some of the things I do know after being his mama for one week:

1. He is stinking cute. His dark eyes and dark hair are actually very uncommon here in his home country. Most of the children being adopted have blond hair and blue eyes. E, like Nasko, is from the Roma tribe which is where the dark eyes, hair, and skin come from. Those features make him so beautiful.

2. He is a fighter. The orphanage staff told us this much, but I’ve now been able to see it with my own eyes. His legs and feet have many physical things wrong with them, but that does not stop him from making adaptations and working past the issues – many times as fast as someone would be able to conquer a feat traditionally.

3. E thinks that Louis is here as his personal pet. E likes to rub Louis’ head and say sweet things to him (at least they sound sweet. Who knows what he’s saying!). E also thinks he should be allowed to feed the baby!

4. On the topic of food, E really, really likes food. A lot. I’m guessing his small size has something to do with lack of nutrients/food previously available, and he is determined to make up for lost time. Thankfully, he isn’t picky — I’ve been praying for at least one child who isn’t — but he let me know that broccoli would not be consumed by him when he threw it at me while we were out to eat recently.

5. E’s love of food is rubbing off onto Louis. Louis is by no means underweight, but he’s always preferred nursing over table food. I don’t think it’s just because I’m not quite as available this past week, but Louis is eating more at meals and snacks. I think he sees E eat, and decides that must just be the thing to do!

6. E is a busy kid. Not Nasko-busy, but three-year-old busy. He likes to be helpful too though; he throws away garbage that he finds, folds towels, and attempts to clean up toys.

7. Everyone is learning patience from this kid. I’m pretty sure that our family’s “We Are Waiting” song has soared to the top forty charts this week as everyone is learning that a third kid adds to the amount of time you have to wait for Mama’s attention. (What, your family doesn’t have a “We Are Waiting” song? Y’all need to get one!)

8. E just started giving spontaneous kisses today. They are melt-worthy.

9. E loves attention. The day we picked him up from the orphanage, we went to have his passport photo taken and he waved and told every passerby “Ah-tah!” (Bye bye!). Most people returned the greeting, but one woman was busy on her cell phone. E could hardly handle it, and he yelled “AH-TAH, AH-TAH” after her. He’s used to everyone paying attention to him.

10. E is the most smiley orphanage kid I have ever met. Many children lose their smiles after being institutionalized, but E has kept it going strong. He may or may not use it as a manipulation tool, but whatever. I love that toothy grin regardless.

11. Since the first full day we had him in our care, E has refused everything of “assistance” that he is used to. He will not leave his glasses on for anything, and he SCREAMS when he put his brace on him. He finally started letting us use his special support shoes yesterday, but otherwise, he’s not interested. The funny thing is, one of the questions Chance asked at the orphanage was, “Does he ever resist his brace or glasses?” The workers promised that neither bothered him. We’re not sure what his motive is now, but for attachment purposes, we’re not pushing the issue.

12. It’s undetermined how much some of these assistive devices are actually helping anyway. We went to the zoo yesterday, and he seemed to see the far away animals without his glasses. His glasses have a VERY strong prescription, so maybe they’ve been made too strong on accident. We are anxious to begin seeing the doctors we know and trust back home.

13. E enjoys being read to. He has NO idea what I’m saying, but he’ll still grab a book and snuggle into my lap for long periods of time to read. This is super exciting, as Louis also loves to read, and it’s a great way to contain two toddlers for a few short minutes.

14. Every life change requires grief – even the good ones. Adopting E is no different. I had a couple days this week where I’ve focused too much on the order and simplicity that our life had before we added a third child (this is a laughable statement, if you have met Nasko). I forgot that this isn’t always going to be pretty, but it’s always going to be important. Today, I looked at E a little differently, and remembered that he is a broken little man who needs a Savior as much as I do.

15. The “Signing Time” theme song is permanently playing on repeat in my brain, but it is so worth it. E is very interested in learning sign language. He is picking it up quickly. It is pretty funny to see him confuse signs as he’s trying to remember them – yesterday he wanted more food and kept signing “bath” instead of “more”!

16. E was never called by his full name in the orphanage. His caregivers used a European nickname for him. This wouldn’t matter so much, except that we gave him an American name that is very close to his real name, but nothing like his nickname. Most of the time, he has no idea we are talking to him…

Everyday we learn more and more about our precious boy. I’m thankful for the privilege of being his Mama!