In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cuttin' a Rug

When I was in high school (and college and my single years) if there was an award for "Miss Goody Two Shoes," I think I would have definitely been in the running. That's why when Donny DeBruno, who had a good handle on our high school party scene, yelled out from across the parking lot, "You cuttin' a rug this weekend?" I replied a sarcastic, "Yeah . . . . . right . . . . !" First of all, why was Donny DeBruno talking to me? Second of all, I had no idea what "cutting a rug" was, so I just assumed it was something bad, if the cool kids were using that phrase . . . hence my answer. All that to say, for those of you still in your Goody Two Shoes Phase, "cutting a rug," simply means . . . dancing. We are doing a bit of a dance around here and I hesitate to say, that it is going decently well.  Actually, we have a lot of dances going on around here.

My all time favorite dancing is swing dancing.  One reason I like it so much, is that it has actual moves that you can learn. Even if you lack certain dance talent, you can learn how to execute the moves at the right time and you may appear to be able to somewhat dance.  The part of our life that feels more like a swing dance, is that we have a little bit more of a schedule back in our lives.  Or maybe I should just call it what it is - we have a nap time again, which has added some real sanity back into my life.  It wasn't easy, but this is a move that makes our family look like we kind of know what we are doing.   The first trial of nap time, came with screaming, pinching, etc. . . for about 30 minutes, but you wouldn't even believe what it looked like today!  She crawled in my lap, while I was sitting in the rocking chair, we played a little, and then she wrapped her arms around my waist, laid her head on my chest and quickly fell asleep.  (Insert tear).  It was precious.

We are also doing a little bit of regular club type dancing.  At my college, a dance was called a "function," because Baptists don't dance, you know?  I definitely feel like I am at "a function."  I feel a little uncertain of how I look on the dance floor of child raising, without specific dance steps to follow.  All of my kids feel very delicate right now and there is no question that they are.  They are all experiencing some sort of trauma, but we are working on giving them all a voice and making sure they feel connected.  If that sounds like it is straight out of a Karyn Purvis book on adoption, it probably is.  I know you are not supposed to leave the side of your child for like 2 years, but come hell or high water, I was not going to miss her conference in Denver this weekend.  So, Dave and I split up the sessions and it was certainly worth it.  Naturally, I have already found it hard to recall any of the information as tantrums arise,  but it has given us a direction to head.   It was the perfect timing for it (minus the fact that we couldn't both attend all the sessions), because before you adopt, you sit through those conferences just praying that your soon to be child won't be one of the severe cases on the clips they show, but if you wait too long, then you just have more retraining to do.

And the last dance we are doing a little less of each day, is head banging.  Phew!  There are still daily tantrums and life is far far from back to "normal," but I'm pretty sure we are making some progress.  Yesterday, as we sat in church, with Maci on Dave's lap (of course) she was just smiling and looking at us and I felt so proud of her that I could hardly contain myself.  I wanted to stand up and tell everyone to look at how precious she is.  What an amazing feeling, to be falling in love with a child that I really only met a month ago. I know as soon as I press "publish," our entire house will fall apart and the next post will be about how we are back to ground zero, but for now, I'll bask in the feeling of progress:)

I know some of you have already seen this clip, but how could I resist posting it again, in light of this blog title?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Backwards Motion

Good Golly Miss Molly! Now if all of those were four letter words, you would actually know how I am feeling. I bet there are a few of you out there, that after a cutie little video and a couple of good days, might think that things are starting to fall into place around here. Don't be deceived, my dear friends. We are now home a little over 2 weeks and today was without question, the hardest to date. There were quite a few tears from all parties, not withstanding the grown ups. So, to those whose prayers for us are beginning to wane somewhat, please don't stop now. We would be beyond grateful.

I'd be lying if I said that every day was terrible, because there have actually been a couple of doable days. However, I hesitantly (because I don't totally know what I'm doing) venture to say that those days were more about keeping the statue quo than about moving forward. As long as I am trying to make everybody happy, things are OK, but the minute I need to take a little charge, there is some weeping and knashing of teeth that can be heard across the Pike's Peak region. My theory is this. I have now had some time under my belt to observe a little more about our newest member. I've realized (with some help from another adoptive family) that there is a difference between her kind, "No, thank you" and her "NO" with a few expletives in front and in back of it. I am picking up on the subtle lip gestures that are not friendly in nature, as well as all that lies behind the good ol' Ethiopian one sided shoulder shrug. All that to say, today was the end of observation and the beginning of taking back a little control around here.

As I've mentioned before, she is pretty into Dave, so sometimes when Dave is home, it is easy to let him deal with her, instead of me. I'll do the playing, but Dave will do the dirty work. For instance, when I try to give her a bath, it is mostly just screaming and meltdowns, but when he gives her a bath, she practically falls asleep as he massages the conditioner through her curly locks. Anyway, today, was different. While Dave was in charge of the other two, I was in charge of Maci Meeraf and I can assure this move was not a hit with the dear one. She put up more of a fight than I've ever seen before and her stamina was remarkable. I am happy to announce that she is sleeping right now, however, I am not happy to announce that I'm wrung out completely and starting to question why we ever thought this was a good idea?

Right at this very moment I am terribly sad that I told Leah that I would read her a book and scratch her back before bed, but she fell asleep before I could get there. I even tried to wake her back up, so I could follow through on my promise. Out of all the things to cry about today, the thing with Leah is the one I can't stop crying about, but I suppose it may be a an accumulation of hard hours in the day doing a little catching up.

Hopefully, sometime in the nearish future, I will have a post that will have a title like, "Progress Being Made," "She Didn't Cry When I Washed Her Hands!," "Fun day in New Zealand," but for now, the days just kind of stink and I'm feeling like we are pedaling hard, but we're going backwards.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Whoa Nellie!

Meeraf at home, instead of just hanging out as a picture on our fridge!
Sunnie and Meeraf playing in Ethiopia.
The car ride from home from the airport.

I want to go back and talk about my trip, because although I NEVER want to do that again, it really was a great trip. It was so fun to take someone there who had never been to a place like Ethiopia. It was so fun to go with my best friend from high school, Sunnie. It's not even like we keep in touch all that well and it's not like the plan for her to go was years in the making. It was a 9th inning call that was made within a few weeks of traveling.

If you know me well, you know that laughing takes me a long way. Life without laughing for me, is a bit like life without water. I have to laugh. It is what makes everything OK. When we boarded the plane from Denver to Frankfurt, we were already doubled over with laughter at the Italian guy next to me who snored louder than a buzz saw before we were even in the air and that trend continued throughout the whole trip. Of course, as the trip went on, it was mixed in with crying and temper tantrums and boundary testing, etc. . . . , but the laughter kept me sane. We were also, so beyond lucky to travel with Steve and Kelly, with whom I'm sure they are still thinking, "what would those girls have done without us." On the flights home, we put Steve in charge and he took up the challenge with great resolve and a smile on his face. So, thanks Steve - we would probably still be in the Sudan if you were not there to help us out! And thanks Scott, for letting Sunnie go with me.

At this very moment, I could use a little laughter in my life. The honeymoon is officially over and this has been the hardest day so far. Before today, I kinda thought that maybe we were one of the lucky ones. Sure, she was shunning me, but she was in love with Dave and from time to time she would give me a little encouragement and let me in a little. She smiled, she played, she shared, she was funny and silly, but BOY HOWDY, today has been a rough one. Hopefully, it is a growing one, though. Earlier today she had a melt down over washing her hands, so I picked her up, which sent her into a new level of melt down, complete with hitting and biting, but I just held her tight. Maybe it was the wrong thing to do, but after a slew of angry Amharic, she relaxed and then in a completely different manner, she began to cry. Not the angry cry that she had carried on with for quite a while, but a real sad sad cry. It was like two totally different languages. One of anger and one of pain. Oh - this is hard stuff. Mostly, for her, but it takes a lot out of us, too. I can't tell you how much I am dreading Dave going back to work. If he didn't have to go, then I would feel like this is totally doable, but I'm getting a little nervous. She will let him do anything, and me do nothing. Although, she will let me do whatever after she throws a little fit. It's just that I'm not sure I can handle a little fit, every time I need to put a shoe on, brush teeth, put lotion on, give her medicine, bathe her, pick her up, feed her, etc. . . I am so grateful that many well seasoned adoptive parents have told me that it is normal that a child attaches to the dad first, due to the fact that they have never had a dad that has hurt them, only a mom and a couple of female nannies who have left painful wounds in their tiny hearts. Well, that's about all I can muster about now, so I'm signing off.

OK, so I never sent that last post, so I'll just continue for a minute now. It is now 3 days later from the time I wrote the previous stuff. The next day was GREAT! She was so smiley, would let me help her, she played, and she didn't recoil every time I went to touch her. The hope is back! Whew!

Then yesterday was another pretty hard day, but kind of what I expected. Dave went to work the whole day. Spencer had a fever, but didn't want to stay in bed, Leah is getting another cold and I think Maci Meeraf thought she gave in a little too much yesterday. Under those circumstances, I think it was impossible to have a good day. We actually had a pretty good morning, but the afternoon was a train wreck. It was mostly Spence and Leah that were acting out, but Maci Meeraf was certainly keeping her distance from me. It felt awful, because I'm supposed to be providing this safe, cozy, comfortable place for Maci, but Spence and Leah were fighting, crying and falling apart and I had no back up. I found myself giving in to all my kids, because I couldn't risk multiple melt downs by everyone. Terrible - I know! It was the worst day possible for Dave to go back to work. It feels frustrating that Dave has saved a million vacation days for this very time, but he can't even use them, due to circumstances at work. Anyway, now I am whining. I know these posts are not terribly imaginative and just kind of informative, but I just want to keep people informed, I guess?

Today - it is only 7:58 on Friday and who knows what the day will hold. Please God - let it be better than yesterday!