Eight Weeks Home…and Friday Links

December 7, 2012

The Girls

Eight weeks ago today, we came home with our girls. It feels like they’ve been here forever — and then again, it all still feels so new.

We continue to see progress each week. In fact, about three or four weeks back, we noticed a marked improvement in the number of tantrums. I’ll never forget the day we reached suppertime and there hadn’t been one major meltdown. I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. Plenty of whining, of course, and a few minor upsets, but no long, crazy, thrashing, intense, please-someone-come-and-do-something-before-Mummy-commits-hara-kiri kind of stuff. Of course, bedtime was another story, and the next day was atrocious, but it was the beginning of a big change in the number and degree of the tantrums — and that’s a welcome relief.

The regression is still there and probably will be for a while. Those behaviors can be very challenging to deal with. It’s also hard to know how much to do and not do with them: Sometimes they’re great on short outings, and sometimes they melt down in the middle of the sidewalk. Sometimes they barely notice a visitor, and sometimes it sets them off for the rest of the day. I’m constantly experimenting to try to find the right balance.

They’re understanding and speaking more English, which makes a huge difference. It’s a riot to hear them say words and phrases with their adorable accents, sometimes using words out of context or in the wrong order. Last week, we were sitting at lunch and S said, “I love Mummy. I love Daddy. I love H. I love thank you.” I overhear them calling to each other, “C’mon, sweetie!” And they’ve learned to chant, “Me! Me! Me! Me!” and “Me, too!” Every day they pick up something new.

On the food front, they’re making some big strides. (Can I get an Amen and a Glory Hallelujah?) Not so much in the vegetable department, but even there they’ve had a few breakthroughs. They’ve fallen for pomegranate seeds and occasionally drink the healthy banana smoothies I make, which have a bit of frozen kale or spinach in them. They love my spelt pancakes with maple syrup. I served them fermented miso soup, and they slurped it up. Not so much the superfood muffins I made yesterday morning, though; they were jumping up and down with excitement, thinking I was baking “pupcakes,” but when they tasted them, the jumping turned into dirty looks. No doubt they felt betrayed…and now think Mummy is a terrible cook. They adore pizza — and call it “pista” — and they love hot dogs with kimchi or sauerkraut. One of them is a freak for baked beans, and the other enjoys steel-cut oatmeal with coconut milk. They’re not eating nearly the amount of bread or bananas anymore. They still love Indian food — and, of course, Ethiopian — and have now added Caribbean to their list of favorite ethnic cuisines (much to B’s delight).

Coming up with meals and snacks is still a big challenge, made harder by the fact that one day they love something and the next day declare it “yucky” and push it away. But at least I now have more than four foods I can serve, and they are so much better about trying new things. When I don’t know what else to do, I make a native Ethiopian vegetarian dish called shiro, which they never tire of.

S & H

My two little beans (which I’m fond of calling them) are clearly feeling more secure and safe and continue to attach really well. They’re full of personality, fun, silliness, quirks, and sweetness. I need to start recording the everyday moments before I forget them.

As for me…well, I had three nights in a row this week in my own bed, which is amazing. I’m still falling asleep with them, and we’ve all had some pretty late nights. But they’re sleeping more soundly, and I’m better rested from slumbering under my own covers beside that stranger I like (better known as my husband).

So that’s my eight-week report. We still have a ways to go, but there’s a lot to celebrate!

Before I get to the links I found this week, I want to give a big shout-out to my brother John and his beautiful wife, Noemi, who gave birth to a baby boy last night. We’re thrilled to welcome Samuel Bernard to the world and can’t wait to meet him in the new year!

Also, Hanukkah begins this weekend, so Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish readers.

  • Great article about loving a child the rest of the world doesn’t value.

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul

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1 Ann December 7, 2012 at 11:02 am

Aw, what a nice post! Glad things are getting a bit better. Our kids were rough with going out around age 3-4-5 and it got to the point we started dreading going out. But as long as we were always ready to leave and go home at any minute (and were strong enough to still pick them up!), we would carry on. And then of course hibernate for a week afterwards.

Off to read this Elf on a Shelf link!

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2 Zoe Saint-Paul December 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Yes, be ready to leave where ever we go at any minute, is good advice!

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3 Therese December 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Love, love, love your post and happy update! So nice to share your successes and give us a chance to celebrate with you. We’re headed to that Ethiopian grocery next weekend, so if you have any updates about what you need, let me know.

I skimmed the Elf article because I’ve heard mom friends complaining about having to move it every night, but wasn’t sure what it was. Obviously, I’m pretty out of it! My first reactions are mixed – on the one hand, I’m not going to criticize parents for doing the best they can to encourage good behavior; on the other hand, it seems like too much work to move the little dude around every night – and that much effort for a false story doesn’t seem worthwhile. To me. But others’ mileage may vary!

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4 Zoe Saint-Paul December 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Thanks, T.

I’m not a fan of Elf on the Shelf myself, but I do consider the person who came up with it rather genius!

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5 Kelly December 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm

So glad to hear of some positive steps over at your house! Hooray for that, and for sleeping in your own bed… with your husband! And oh my, aren’t they just the cutest little Habeshas ever?

One thing I’ve been trying to remind myself in my (very different) adjustment to motherhood is that some things that are frustrating with K are the same things that are frustrating to all parents of kids her age. So, sometimes when H&S are protesting eating food that they happily ate the day before, or melting down on an outing when on other days they are fine, it might help to remind yourself that all 4-year-olds do those things to some degree. Of course, your 4-year-olds are going through a unique and different situation than most, and you all have a lot of adjustment and settling in still to do. But I’ve found it helpful to just remind myself from time to time that it’s not ALL about being newly adopted. This is a new revelation on my part and it’s really helped me out and given me a new way to look at things.

Hope the good times continue to be even more frequent! And hang in there through the not-so-good times.

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6 Zoe Saint-Paul December 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I find it really hard to tell the difference between normal preschooler behavior and newly adopted behavior. Figuring it out is made more difficult, I think, by being a new mom and having no previous experience to compare it to. An adoption counselor has advised us to constantly remind ourselves that right now, they are 4 going on 2. And I find it hard to do sometimes.

It’s funny because after writing all this, I found myself feeling like I might have painted too rosy a picture. Especially because today ended up being a tough one. “Doing better” is so relative! But I do want to celebrate the good stuff and mark the progress.

Looking forward to comparing notes in person one of these days!

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7 jen December 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

so glad things are starting to get easier for all of you! believe it or not, this is kind of quick! my girls have the same cupcake pajamas, btw…. they absolutely love them.

happy holidays to you and your beautiful family!

jen

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8 Zoe Saint-Paul December 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

You know, I realize this IS pretty early, compared to what other parents go through. Frankly, I can’t imagine seeing little or no progress for months on end. Two months feels like a lifetime — and to think of going another 4 or 6 before being able to say anything really positive… ugh. And I know there are parents who are/have been in that boat. It’s good to remind myself of this when I’m feeling discouraged. I do find this a two steps forward, one step back kind of process.

And those cupcake PJs are indeed cute — they love them!

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9 Kristin W December 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Sounds like you are doing great (or at least as great as you can). I like your social worker’s advice to think of them as younger. Whenever I remember to tell myself that developmentally, Ayub is only three, it makes me step back and recognize that his behavior is “normal.” It just takes time, and it does get easier. One day you’ll realize that you can’t remember when the last tantrum was. (I know…it seems hard to believe, but honestly, one day I couldn’t remember.) And by the way…they are gorgeous!

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10 Em December 9, 2012 at 2:49 am

I just love seeing the pics and hearing about the updates! xoxo

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11 bill bannon December 12, 2012 at 6:34 am

I love the language news and the subversive spinach news. Walmart sells a wonderful Amish macaroni salad that is a tad sweet and potato salad that is a tad sweet ( 4lbs.$4.98…nutty value….very reusable roundish plastic containers). I mix kale into it to subvert myself in the greens department….though turnip greens are even higher in calcium but not as hideable in other foods, being a bit tough in texture.

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12 Matt December 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Great to the progress on all fronts, keep up the good work and fantastic updates!

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