Last week marked 10 months that our big kids have been home. Ten whole months!
Time is such a funny thing. Ten months doesn’t really sound that long, and in some ways those months have been a whirlwind. On the other hand, I can’t believe how much has changed in 10 months. I can’t believe how much more sane I am than I was 10 months ago!
So what’s life like now?
Here are some highlights from Diva:
- She is reading at grade level! Granted, she is in kindergarten, but I find this simply amazing considering she didn’t even recognize a letter from a number less than a year ago.
- She loves writing and writes everywhere she goes. For example, the other day I found a piece of paper that said things like “Caps Lock”, “Enter”, “CTRL”, “Tab”, and “Insert.” I guess she got bored while sitting at the computer desk?
- She is now a speed counter and has no problems counting to 100, although when she tells me she is going to count to 100 she always says she’s going to count to a million. I tell her she’s not going to count to 1 million and then I get grumpy eyes until she realizes her mistake.
- She talks about several friends at school and has been begging me to invite one of them over for a playdate
- She is doing very simple addition
- Diva is an EXPERT word user (maybe she learned from the 10,000 times a day we tell 2-year-old Wiggles to use his words). When she gets mad she says things like “You are being very unkind” or “You are hurting my feelings” or “I very much hate that”. It’s such a mature way for a 5-year-old to express themselves, and it’s so cute that it’s often effective for her.
- She still likes dance, but wants to do gymnastics next
- Much more outgoing and more of a risk-taker than 10 months ago. She doesn’t cling to us in new situations anymore.
- She often tells us stories about her time in Ethiopia. We have frequent conversations about her birth family and she happily says she has “two moms.” I have a feeling someone is going to get the wrong idea about this at some point.
- Her biggest downfall is that this girl talks. And talks. And talks. About nothing. The other day for an entire 15 minute car ride she talked about how much she talks. She told us that she talks a lot in the winter, and she talks a lot in the summer, and she talks some in the spring, and she talks a little in the fall. If you don’t respond then “you are being very unkind.”
And some highlights from Smiles:
- His basketball team won the Championship!
- He started karate and we are so excited for this. Neither one of us were involved in karate as children so it’s new to us, but there is such an emphasis on respect and self-discipline and he needs both of these!
- All three big kids now know the days of the week and this has made our lives So.Much.Easier.
- His reading has really improved. As his confidence grows he is becoming less reluctant to spend time reading. He’s really getting good at sounding words out, but sometimes he sounds out a word he’s not familiar with! He says it correctly but doesn’t recognize the word. It’s really quite funny.
- He showed a LOT of responsibility recently when we mistakenly dropped him off at the wrong place for practice. He found a stranger, asked to use his phone, and remembered The Husband’s number. We were shocked and so proud- this was a huge step for him!
- I talked to his teacher about bullying and it’s a complicated situation. He’s still struggling in this area but it is getting better.
- We also struggle with emotional maturity. I could probably blog about this every day for a year, but I really try to respect his privacy and consider that he may read these posts someday. So I’ll just say his lack of maturity is the cause of a lot of problems. It’s more our fault than anything. When we have him 1:1 he’s great. But we can’t always give him the attention he needs when the younger kids are around. We also have to remember that although he’s 9 years old, we can’t treat him that way or expect him to act that way. We’re trying to shift our thinking from “He’s 9 years old” to “We have 8 years of instability to undo”. So, this is an ongoing issue that I don’t see being resolved with anything but time and love and consistency.
- He has become much more willing to talk about Ethiopia. A few months ago he totally shut down if he even sensed the conversation was about his home country, but as he becomes more secure in our family he’s become more open to conversation. He recently got really mad at us and told us he wanted to go back to Ethiopia- this did not have the intended effect as we were just excited he felt comfortable enough to say that! Also, we are so encouraged that he has started speaking of his birth family in a positive way!
As we draw close to the one-year mark, we’ve been talking about how we want to celebrate “Happy Adoption Day.” The timing is not ideal as we have The Baby’s 1st birthday, Easter, Wiggles birthday, and Diva’s birthday all within the same month. We’re just going to do a small celebration with our family- Smiles is trying to convince us we should have doughnuts but Diva is pulling for cupcakes. The tough decisions these kids have to make!