Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our Month with Z

The girl with the big puff on top of her head jumped right into our hearts. Such a sweetheart and so well behaved. "Z" warmed up to us slowly, especially Bryce. There were no males in her life that we knew of, just single mom and grandma. Stiff and standoff-ish at times (she didn't even know how to be tickled), but by the end of the first week she began to relax.

The second night she was with us, I was gone at bedtime but when I got home, I went straight upstairs to tell the kiddos good-night. She saw me walk into the room and said, "Hi Mommy!" with a big smile on her face. Oh, my heart melted. I tried to give lots of hugs and kisses and encouraging words, but it's hard when my hands are full with keeping up. And she got sick with a bad cold + ear infection almost right away (thank you for sharing, Silas), so that made things a little more stressful.

About that stress? This was our first placement where the child was just put into the foster care system; there were so many phone calls and doctor appointments and more calls and visits with Mom twice a week. I was in constant communication with the DCS FCM (Department of Child Services / family case manager), the guardian ad litem (court-appointed child advocate), our foster agency case worker, and the visit specialist (coordinated and transported to all visits with bio mom). Whew.

Relationships with bio mom were dicey from the beginning, and it was hard on me (we never even met her, all of our "contact" was through communication with others). We felt attacked and not trusted. Which, in hind sight, makes sense: her child was taken from her for a good reason, but she (quite naturally) responded with accusations, insecurity, blame throwing, manipulation--grasping for control. And my heart didn't handle it very well.

One day it came to a head after our physical care for Z was questioned. I was washing dishes and crying when Romans 12 came to mind, and so I began to meditate. Love must be sincere.....cling to what is good....honor one another above yourselves.....serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.....practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse....Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud.....Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.....Do not take revenge, my friends.....Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

And I began to pray: for Z and for her mom and her grandma and for the case workers. When my flesh is weak and I know I want to respond wrongly or I don't know what to do at all.....I can pray. And sometimes that's all that needs to be done.

Sometime during our wonderful month with Z, as I was kissing her cheek or tucking her in at night and hearing her repeat "I love you" or learning how to do cornrows in her hair or having dance parties with JD & Silas in the living room (when she "danced" by bouncing up and down).....sometime in the midst of all that, I realized that I am just her mom-in-the-in-between. We expected Z to be with us 4-6 months but they moved her on to another home quite suddenly, and we will never know what becomes of her. But I will be praying for her for years to come....oh precious Z.

Favorite memory: on her last night with us, she slept in a room with Silas. I was putting Silas to bed and singing "Jesus Loves Me"--and Z started to sing it along with me. It's JD's current favorite song so she heard it almost every night, but I had no idea she knew all of the words. So encouraging to know she will take the words of that song with her. Jesus loves me, this I know...Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong...  My heart misses her, but how wonderful to know that my God goes with her, and He loves her more.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Silas at 16.5 months

Silas Fredric has progressed in leaps and bounds since my last post. And I almost mean that literally; he is bounding around the house these days. Started walking at 13.5 months (was a pretty fast little crawling man up until then) . . . and he just took off. Now he almost runs after Justus and it's all I can do to keep up with him after church. He's probably off chasing a ball somewhere.

"Ball" was one of his first words, along with "dad," "uh-oh," "hi," "bird" and "doggie." He also says "JD" really well and an occasional "all done." I'm still waiting for "mama" to make an official appearance, although I think he's copied JD in saying it a few times. My favorite is when I walk in his room after nap time and he says, "Hi!" as clear as can be and so happy.

Speaking of happy, this little man is just happy all of the time. Perpetual smile. Such a good disposition. What a joy. Except that right now he's working on about 5-6 teeth, so there have been a few more tears and whines. Around 1 year old, he got 4 teeth and just now is working on some more...thank goodness, he sure had trouble chewing apples.

Silas does really well with the few signs that we taught him: all done, more, please, and thank you.  It sure helps cut down on the whining and pointing at meal time. Also, just last week, he started complaining when I was feeding him, so I handed him the bowl and spoon and he proceeded to feed himself the entire meal! Well, that's a nice development--way to go, Si-Man!

I still call him "Si-Man" quite often, but Bryce has moved on to "Silo" and JD followed suit. I hear "SILO!" all over the house now. Lately, JD tries to make Silas look at him while he's talking, but that doesn't work so well: Silas just tunes him out, I think. :-)

He still takes two naps a day, usually. The first one from 9:30-11ish and then 1:30-4ish. And he still sucks his thumb, actually both thumbs. We have an ambidextrous thumb sucker....that will be fun when we need to help him stop. Silas still has the curly hair! And it's getting so long. But now that we're playing outside more, it's all sweaty under his hat. Time for a summer cut! Speaking of outside--this little man loves it. He would swing and carry balls around all day, and cries when we bring him in. He'll point to the door and say, "bye bye" and wave....meaning he wants to go bye-bye. I have a feeling I'll be outside a lot with two boys this summer!

Oh we love you. Your cuteness. Your delightful smile. The way you back up and sit on my lap when we're reading books on the floor. The way you snuggle in when we're singing songs before bed. The way you get the kitchen washcloth to clean up the chair after you spill milk. Your excitement when you see birds or dogs or school buses outside. You're such fun!

(They were sitting together so nicely until I grabbed the camera.)

On the fire engine!

Playing with tractors at Great Papa's house.

He and the dog have a love/hate relationship: Silas loves the dog, and I'm not sure how the dog feels about Silas...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Justus: a snapshot at 3-years-old

Rather, quite a few snapshots of my 3-year-old. Every post I feel like I say "this is such a fun stage." But, right now, this is such a fun stage!

A little bit of a sleepy face.

He says, "Wrap me up, Mom" when he gets cold.
Last night we were on the way to Eagle Creek Park and JD was asking Bryce a million "why" questions. Finally, Bryce said, "JD, just sit back and enjoy the ride." And Justus said: "But I like talking to you, Daddy." Yes, yes you do like talking.... a lot.

This morning I heard Justus say to Silas: "You're my friend, Silo." They play so well together, most of the time. JD pretending; Silas tagging along. It's hilarious when JD tackles Silas or tries to give him hugs. JD will also carry on one-sided conversations with Silas--Silas just nods and makes his "yes" sound.

Justus loves when we turn on the music loud and dance (i.e. jump and spin) around the living room. His current favorite song is "We are the Free" by Matt Redmond (aka "the oh-oh song").

A couple of months ago we dropped his nap time. After a few weeks of miserable bedtimes (someone would not stay in bed, no matter what we did!) we finally realized that he was simply not tired at bedtime. We dropped the afternoon nap, and then he could fall asleep at night. Instead, I implemented a rest/quiet time on the couch for about 1-1.5 hours in the afternoon. Sometimes he falls sleep. Sometimes he looks at books. Sometimes he watches cartoons (Veggie Tales and Thomas the Train are current favorites).

"Mama" is what he first learned to call me. And then he started to throw in "Mom" every once in awhile. When he's on the other side of the house and I'm not responding to him, then he'll start yelling "Sweetie Pie!" since that's what Bryce calls me. It's amazing what they pick up from listening to you. I guess I say, "maybe" and "what are you talking about" a lot....because now he does too.

When he's trying to explain something to me but I'm not quite understanding, then he'll say, "Do you know what I'm talkin' about?"

Justus plays so well by himself! Usually while Silas has his first nap, I use that time to clean or work on the computer or read my Bible, and he just plays and plays. Riding his little bike around. Pushing the mower. Lining up cars on the ottoman. Lots of little conversations. I just love listening and secretly watching him.

Justus can tend to be a little sensitive and emotional (...ahem....wonder who he gets that from). And he doesn't like loud noises. Yesterday at the playground, he told one of the other kids that they were being too loud (!!). When we play music at home, he says, "just a little bit loud"--it can't be too loud. At church, he plugs his ears when the automatic toilets flush....hilarious.

"Face Time" with Dad when he's at work

After his dentist appointment last month they wanted him to stop sucking his thumb. We did a couple of weeks of bandaids on the thumb at night time.....and it worked! I haven't caught him sucking his thumb in a couple of weeks.
Sledding with Dad at Shoaff Park in Fort Wayne

Potty Training Story:
We started training him on December 31. (I had been dreading it, but finally decided to just go for it.) We had four days with no activities and Bryce only working one of those days, so after lunch on a Wednesday, we said: let's do it. He never again wore diapers during the day. Pull-ups at night only (and after the first few nights, he was completely dry about 60% of the time). He had already been pooping on the toilet about 50% of the time for a couple of months, so that made the transition easier. I set the timer for 20 minute intervals for a "pee time" reminder and we dove in. A couple of accidents the first afternoon--he had no idea how to control his bladder. Just a few accidents the second day, and I stretched the timer to 30-40 minute intervals. Even better on the third day, hardly any accidents. There were a couple of small relapses that first week (mostly when I forgot to remind him) but it essentially took 2.5 days and he was doing great! So much easier than I anticipated. Way to go, JD!

Hanging out with cousin Everett
I don't think I've seen JD walk down the stairs at our house for a couple of months: he always slides down. Runs around the corner, literally throws himself on the stairs, and slides down on his belly as fast as he can. There's a certain technique to it now, too: one knee is usually bent. It's crazy how fast he goes on our steep stairs.
Helping wash dishes with one of our Safe Families children
We usually sing a couple of songs before bedtime. JD doesn't always sing along, but don't let it fool you: he knows all of the words! For awhile, his favorite was "Jesus Loves Me" and right now he always requests "My God is So Big."

Justus, I love your questions (most of the time). I love your grin. I love watching you play. I love it when you tackle your Dad and try to make a scary growl. I love it when you care for Silas. I love it when you give me nose kisses at night.