Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Christmas Pictures

Mike and Amanda opening presents at his mom's on Christmas Day.
Mike's mom and her new snow globe.
Amanda, Maggie and Tony's new remote controlled spider. Every place except my mom's had at least three dogs. There were six dogs at my sister's on Christmas Eve and only eight people!
Amanda and Grammy, my mom's mom, sharing a quick cuddle on the evening of Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas!

At the first of four Christmas gatherings, Amanda positioned herself in the center of a circle of cousins opening presents. She contentedly flipped through the pages of my book, while everyone else tore into packages around her.
Tyler and Tony were pretty excited to receive new gloves and hats. Last year they became pretty desperate for gloves by the end of the season.
After everyone else had opened their presents, Mike finally convinced Amanda to come and open her gifts.
Remember Mike's armful last Christmas? This year it was Amanda who has claimed the youngest cousin as her own.
We were thankful for all the friends and family who made it to our Christmas celebrations and our hearts and prayers were with those who didn't. We are looking forward to a fruitful year as three (hopefully four) new great-grandchildren will be added to the family.
After three days of hockey, playing with cousins and dogs, eating good food and playing with new gifts, we're all happy to be back home recovering from all the fun and excitement.
Wishing you and yours all the best in the new year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How do you get anything done?

Last Thursday, we had our home visit from our social worker. Many of her questions related to managing our family with the addition of a baby. The visit inspired this list.

Things I can do with a toddler:
Sort, load, wash, dry, fold and put away laundry.
Wash dishes, put away dishes, load dishwasher, unload dishwasher.
Gather veggies, wash, chop and put into the pot.
Prepare meals.
Make pancakes.
Weed the garden.
Sweep sidewalks, rake leaves, shovel snow outside.
Sweep Floors.
Wash the floor, cupboards, stove, dishwasher, refridgerator.
Refill bean jars from the bulk bags.
Practice piano.
Teach Algebra, Chemistry, Vocbulary, and monitor Spanish.
Organize toys.
Clean the bathroom.

The key is to break the job into little parts so Amanda can participate- carrying a pot from the drying rack to the cupboard, taking potatoes out of the drawer, carrying the folded towels to the drawer. I either showed her hand-over-hand what she was to do or she just copied me. She has recently discovered how to stand nicely at the sink. She stands on a captain's chair and we put boat cushions behind her to keep her from falling backward. Some chores are done best with her wrapped on my back. I also use only mild cleaners and have trained her to obey.

My favorite part of working with Amada is when she leans over, wraps her arm around me, and says, "Awwww!" To which I always say, "Awww! I love you, too!" and give her a kiss.

There are some jobs that just can't be accomplished until she goes to bed:

Working on our profile.
Editing photos.
Math, Chemistry and vocabulary corrections.
Teaching Madsen Method.
Teach writing class.
Writing letters or paying bills.
Sewing or any other craft.
Ironing clothes.

With a little planning and creativity, caring for a new baby will certainly fall into the first category. I can't really predict how Amanda will react, but as long as she can still be close to me and really participate in what I am doing, she will truly enjoy having a real little baby to love.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Like wise ye older women...

Teach the younger woman to love their husbands...Titus 2

One of my most important jobs as Amanda's mother is to foster a deep love and affection for her Daddy. I do this very intentionally by making a big deal and rushing to the door with hugs and kisses when Daddy gets home, waving goodby at the window as he drives away, bringing her to him for good night hugs and talking to her about how thankful Daddy will be as we fold his clothes or make his dinner.

Sometimes I teach her unintentionally. Yesterday, Mike was sitting on the floor in front of the couch playing Tinker Toys with Amanda while I was making dinner. I sat down on the couch for a minute, ran my fingers through Mike's hair and rubbed his back. After I returned to the kitchen, Amanda quickly came over to Mike, rubbed her fingers through his hair and patted him on the back.

May she only pick up on my good habits.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

God Smiles

God smiles. You know, those little coincidences that happen along your journey that let you know God is with you.
For example:
Three family profiles shown to Amanda's birthmom and ours was on top.
Amanda's birthmom has a brother named Tony, loves animals and didn't feel she needed to look at any of the other profiles.
The day after emailing our social worker asking for news, she called to tell us that we had been chosen, that the baby was already born and that it was a girl!
We were scheduled for fingerprinting the following day.
We would be traveling to Texas and would be able to stay with my cousin who had just bought a house.
After learning that in Vietnamese culture that it was very important to name your baby something that has meaning, we discovered that Amanda meant "worthy to be loved." We had chosen Amanda years ago because it was my grandmother's name.
After receiving pictures of Amanda's birthmom, I marveled at how much she looked like my cousin, Elisa.
While we were disraught over the delays in Amanda being freed for adoption, we ended up being in Texas and paying our placement fees the day after the C.D. with our adoption savings matured.
Not only were we given a P.T. Cruiser for our rental vehicle, but it was lemon yellow which complimented the outifts Mike, Amanda and I were wearing. We felt a little silly climbing out of that car together at the cowboy bar and grill near the agency. (Mike always ends up with P.T. Cruisers for rental vehicles and they are not designed for tall men.)
We ended up staying in Texas at my cousin's during the ten days that he was in Minnesota for his sister's wedding. It was such a blessing to have the house to ourselves because babies keep crazy hours and I was trying to establish breastfeeding.
In our profile, we had written that children were a gift from God and our super, wonderful foster family has made us burp clothes that said, "God's Precious Gift" on them.
Amanda's wonderful foster family faithfully documented all the days we were away from Amanda and our first meeting. I completely forgot about picture-taking in the moment.
At placement while Mike and I were busy with the baby, Amanda's foster mom relayed a story that some one had asked her if she was potty training Amanda, who was only three weeks old. I didn't volunteer at the time that I planned to start elimination communication right away.
The sweet Minnesota friends who drove us to and from the airport provided us with a little sweater for Amanda since is was much colder in Minnesota than in Texas.
A couple of months after Amanda came home, the Texas agency sent us Amanda's hospital pictures. I never thought I'd see those.
Amanda's adoption was finalized on the same day as our neighbors who adopted about a month after us. Again, we had some one to take pictures for us!
But months before all of this, there was this sweet little Texas Longhorn outfit hanging in my mother's garage, a rummage sale leftover, that made me think, "Wouldn't that be something if our baby was from Texas."

Hook 'em Horns!


Did I really just put that baby to bed in her socked pajamas, close the door and not hear a peep from her? That would be the first time in days!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Breaking the Habit

Update: Five days is not long enough to break the habit. I just laid Amanda down for her nap and then realized I had forgotten to put on her socked jammies. She was laying in bed happily sucking her thumb. That was quickly remedied and now she's in there complaining.

When Amanda started sucking her thumb last winter, we thought it was so cute and it was helping her go to sleep. Many former thumb-suckers and parents of thumb-suckers asked us what we were going to do about it. Mike said, "Enjoy it!"

This week, we noticed that she had a red, painful sore developing on her thumb, so while I was in the dentist, I asked for recommendations for breaking the habit. The hygenist suggested this:
I had thought of putting socks or mittens over her hands but she could easily remove them. However, these socks are sewn to her pajamas. It was good for us to attempt this method before she had learned to remove her shirt.
The first night, she cried and Mike asked if we could do this another night because he wasn't feeling very well. So, I removed the sock-sewn shirt and put her back to bed. She still kept crying on and off until 2 am. We're not sure why, but between cutting a molar, coming down with a cold, and having a sore thumb, she was unhappy.
I worked with her the following day and as long as I left the door open a crack and went in to remind her to lay down and be quiet when she fussed, she slept reasonably well. She was still sick and teething, so we had another late night on Tuesday. She would go to sleep and be quiet just long enough for us to doze off and then she would wake up again.
It's been five days now and we don't see many crabby faces like this anymore. She has accepted the socked pajamas. I'm not sure how long it takes to break the habit. I need to ask about that when I take Tony to the dentist on Tuesday. He missed his appointment because he was sick, too. Everybody has been hit with this cold and it's been no fun.
We would sure appreciate prayers for a speeding recovery for our family.

Ice Cube Hockey

These two have been keeping me very busy this week. So, I enjoyed these moments of sweetness with my sick, sleepless, teething toddler and my strong-willed, tirelessly testing teenager.