Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nine months plus...

We went on a vacation...by airplane.
I wondered how this would affect her.  We rehearsed over and over..."We are all going to California, we are all going to play at the beach, and we are all coming home together."

Over and over we reassured her that she could safely be excited about going on an airplane with Mommy and Daddy.

So we went.  She smiled as she buckled her baby doll into her seatbelt.  (Remember this?  We've come a long way, baby!)  I took a photo and marveled at what I was witnessing.  We flew, we landed, grandparents and a cousin met up with us.  We flew and landed again...and then we vacationed like nobody's business.

It.  Was.  Fabulous.  

I heart SoCal weather, I'm just sayin'.

Katie learned to surf, Gracie built masterpiece sandcastles, Drew threw sand...and whatever else ended up in his meaty little hands, DJ boogie-boarded, and Mama?  Well, I got myself a tan.  :)

Mari played happily in the sand all week, testing boundaries occasionally, but she IS four.  So no big deal.   We had one incident when she nearly stepped into traffic just because she wanted to go the opposite direction from where she was told, but thankfully we stopped her and Daddy stepped in to make sure she understood that she must obey the details...if we say go out this door of the car, it is for a very good reason!  (#1 being her safety!)

We ended the week relaxed and rested...ok not really.  Let's just say those college students in the condo next door can PARTAY into the wee hours.  I must be getting old.    But we arrived home safely and I again saw another layer peel away from my daughter.  Because we all went to California, we all played on the beach, and we all came home together.

She has been so much easier to deal with since.

I knew attachment was a process, but it really is remarkable to experience it.  It happens day-by-day, layer-by-layer of trust.  The emotions wax and wane, but they are always on an upward trend of growth.  I have those moments when I sit back and think about what has transpired in 9 months and I am speechless.  She is not the same child I brought home.  She has grown in every way.  Challenges?  Yes, we have them, but not nearly to the degree we had them 9 months ago.  My love for her deepens with every milestone, every smile, every time I hear her say "I want to go home" because she means home.  Our home.

Last night, my husband read to our children and the kids took turns praying afterwards.  Sweet Drew (age 4 and not given to accurate details!) decided to recount Mari's story to God...in his own way.  He has been talking lately about how he is going to grow up and go to Africa and help kids find their mommies (meaning he will help kids get adopted).  So he said  "Kids in Africa don't have mommies and Mari doesn't have a mommy so I'm gonna help them find one."  (Meaning kids LIKE her don't have mommies.)
Mari looked at him quizzically, then looked at me and said "I have a mommy."
"Yes, you do.  You have a mommy and a daddy and brothers and sisters!"  I said.

She smiled the biggest smile...a smile of satisfaction and joy.  My heart leapt with the knowing on her face.
She is found.  She belongs.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

8 months and extreme randomness...

Oh. My. Word.  Has this EVER been a busy month!

Miss Mari has been home 8 (and a half...yes I am late) months and it has been a good season for her.  There are still "days" but those days are SO much less intense than they were before.  I am seeing her draw closer to her Daddy and seek his attention and comfort, as well as respond better to my verbal commands and now is able to "talk things through" instead of falling apart and screaming in anger or frustration.  We traveled (this time ALL of us) to California for a week of fun in the sun and she did GREAT.  Daddy was there through it all and stepped in at all the right times with her and she responded beautifully to him.  Yes, she is still pushing those boundaries, but she had two of us enforcing them day in and day out for the whole week and I can see, now that we are home, how that really helped her settle a bit more.
She is more affectionate than ever, and now tells me "I need to hold you, Mommy" if she is upset.  I love to cuddle her and feel her melt into me.  What a work the Lord is doing!

I had a first with her this week that has struck me so deeply.  It was completely unexpected.  She had disobeyed and I was trying to talk to her, to get her to look me in the eye and focus on what I was saying.  She kept fidgeting with her hands, scratching at her clothes and playing with her mouth so I took her hands and held them firmly in mine so she would have to be still and listen.  She began to cry as I spoke and got very frustrated because the tears were running down her cheeks and she couldn't use her hands.  It hit me...
I had never in 8 months seen tears run down her cheeks.  Every time she has cried, she immediately takes her hands and wiped the tears before they even have a chance to spill over her eyelashes.

When is the last time someone wiped her tears away?

My heart broke for her.  As I spoke, I reached out gently and wiped away her tears.  Her eyes, which had been downcast, darted up and looked at me in surprise.  I continued to stroke her face and catch the tears as they fell while talking her through the incident and helping her understand right from wrong...

that Jesus loves her and wants her to have a clean heart.

That He died to wash her sins away and He will help her to obey when it is hard.

(Because it IS hard...even for Mommy.  Especially for Mommy)

In the midst of all this, our trip to Cali was nothing short of fabulous!  My darling 10 year old, Katie, who until this Summer didn't even like the deep end of a pool, not only swam in the Pacific Ocean, she SURFED!  Nine times my girl caught a wave a rode it in, standing on her own two feet!  She was so excited and proud of herself, and I (being the dutiful mom that I am) thoroughly embarrassed her by screaming and jumping up and down on the beach..."YOU DID IT!  YOU'RE SURFING!  OH MY WORD, YOU ARE DOING IT!!!"

We ate, we burned tanned, we ate, we loafed, we ate, we played...did I mention we ate?  I am a fan of fish tacos...
and donuts.
I'm just sayin'.

It was good.  SO good.  And such a well-timed vacay as we are now preparing for our first day of school!

The schoolroom upstairs (which just recently became such...as the kitchen table was WAY too distracting with barking dogs, telephones, and doorbells interfering with concentration) was painted a cheery green today.  Now I get to hang all the cute plaques with quotes SURE to inspire and finalize all the little details so we can get this par-tay started!  I had hoped to start tomorrow but I think it may be Monday before we really get going.  Maybe we'll do a 1/2 day for the next couple of days, just to get familiar with the books and new routine...but it will be a soft start to say the least.

I am so ready, though, to get going with this school year!  The kids are ready as well...eager to try out the new books and programs, and I can just tell we need the structure to return to our days.  It is time.
DJ is looking forward to his new Math curriculum, Katie (the bookworm) has decided she is going to assign herself book reports (we'll see how long THAT lasts!), Gracie is excited about being a first grader and doing ALL the subjects and Drew is "so proud that I am in Kindergarten" which just thrills me to no end!  The boy cannot WAIT to learn to read!

I am SO thankful for this call the Lord placed on our family.  Homeschooling is such a privilege, such a blessing.  On the hardest of days, I would not trade one moment of watching my kids learn and grow and become best friends again.  It is beautiful and I am humbled as I see the task before me.  Lord, be my strength...fill me with wisdom and patience...use my hands and my words to bless and teach and train up my children in the way YOU want them to go.

Etch these days into my memory, more clearly than any photograph.  May my children know and feel the love that surrounds them and be content.

Yes, Lord, may we all be content.