Friday, May 31, 2013

Lila's glasses

A few weeks ago, I took Lila to the eye doctor to see if she did, in fact, need glasses.  She did a great job.  She sat still, followed the instructions and was mostly cooperative.  She was so cute and small sitting up in that big chair.
She kind of had a hard time sitting still while we were waiting.

Once things got moving, though she did really well.  She had to go through a couple of different assessments.  I'm not sure what this one was assessing.  It had something to do with the distance at which an object came into focus, I think.

Then, she looked through a book and read the numbers on the pages while covering one eye.  I think this was a color-blindness assessment.

Then came the fancy thing with the different lenses.  This was too much cuteness for me. 
 I texted that picture to my family and the Husband responded with this:

 Then there was some more patient and not at all wiggly waiting.
And then the doctor came in and did a few more assessments of which I didn't get pictures because they involved the lights being out and by that time Faith was snoring in my lap.

He asked her to tell him what letters she saw and she said in the smallest little voice, "An upside-down E and a not upside-down E."  And then he asked about the letters below those E's and she said, "Dere too litt-ow."  (They're too little)  Then he showed her a screen with four pictures.  It had these exact images, but only the man riding the horse, the phone, the bird and the hand.

He asked her to tell him what pictures she saw.  "Dere too litt-ow," she responded.  Then, he rephrased the question: "Which one is your favorite?"

"The ant."

I had to stifle I giggle.  I knew she was talking about the man on the horse, but her answer just cracked me up for some reason.

He did a few more assessments and then told me that Lila is really, really far-sighted!  He said he was surprised because of how near-sighted I am.  I was surprised, too!  To give you an idea of how far-sighted she is, I am legally blind - to see something without my contacts or glasses, I have to literally have it an inch from my face.  My prescription is -7.75.  For near-sightedness, the prescriptions are in the negatives, for far-sightedness they're in the positives.  Lila's prescription is +4.75.  At three years old her eyes are more than half as bad as mine (although on the other side of the spectrum).  The good news is that, where near-sightedness only gets worse as a child grows, far-sightedness improves with age because it is caused by an eye that is "too short" and as the child grows, the eye grows and the vision corrects itself over time.

So, prescription in hand we went to pick out glasses.  This ended up being a little more complicated than I anticipated.  Lila was adamant that they must be pink.  We were adamant that they must be cheap and fit her right.  The Husband wanted her to have hipster glasses.  Lila wanted pink.  I wanted her to have the cheapest ones (anticipating having to replace them multiple times).  Lila wanted pink.  The optometrist (optician? ophthalmologist?)  person who helped us fit Lila's glasses said they had to be small enough for her face otherwise they might do more hard than good if the frames blocked her vision.  Lila wanted pink.  She refused to even try on other colors.  She also refused to let me take a picture of her in any of the options.  I forced this one to get approval from the Husband:
"You can take a picture, but you can't make me smile."
In the end, we found a pair that was cheap not the most expensive, fit her well and were, you guessed it, PINK (although, they look more purple in the picture above).  Glasses can fit perfectly and be reasonably priced, but if a kid doesn't want to wear them, what's the point?

Now for the battle of getting her to keep them on.  I am a little more than paranoid that we are going to lose/break/crush and otherwise render useless these really-not-that-cheap-after-all glasses.

But boy, does she look cute or what?  Aside from the scowl.
She really does not like me taking pictures of her.  And yes, that is the same dress.  And no, these weren't taken on the same day.  She wears that dress multiple times a week.  It's fluffy and twirly and princess-y and that is just her style.

One of these days I'll capture the elusive smile with glasses on!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The kind of day it has been

It has been a DAY.  You know what I mean.  The kind of day when you feel decidedly ungraceful and you manage to bump into, drop or break anything you touch?  Including your kids' feelings?  I have those kind of days a lot.  Today was one of them.

By the time I had been awake for 20 minutes, I was already a sweaty mess.  We had our end of the year staff picnic for which I had signed up to bring an uncomplicated veggie tray and bottled water.  Somehow I managed to complicate things and I found myself shoving bottles of water into the freezer an hour before the picnic when I realized that no one would want to drink water that had been roasting in the back of my car for the last 12 hours.

Then I got a call that an agent wanted to show our house.  It was just late enough in the day that I probably could have rushed home from the picnic to clean the house up, but - in an attempt to avoid more sweating and cussing - I decided that it would behoove me to prep the house before the picnic so that I wasn't stressed for time with tired crabby kids.

Faith (who is doing so much better!  HALLELUJAH!) was perturbed with me for not being willing to hold her every waking minute and Lila - bless her - was trying to "help" me.  With a resounding chorus of squawks from the Small One, Lila "helped" me make her lunch (got in my way every time I crossed the kitchen and kept taking out random items from the fridge), she "helped" me get Faith ready (pulled out a bunch of Faith's clean clothes from her drawers and brought them to me as possible outfits), she "helped" me open the windows (an unneeded task seeing as I had just turned the air conditioning on so that our house was nice and cool for potential buyers), she "helped" me change the table cloth (staged a counter-attack every time I pulled the table cloth to one side in an attempt to even it out resulting in a sort of apathetic tug-of-war and the table cloth heaped on the ground).  The table cloth incident resulted in me raising my voice at her to "STOP HELPING ME FOR THE LOVE" which made her bottom lip pop out and her brown eyes spill over.  Which, in turn, resulted in me leaving the heaped table cloth on the ground so I could pick her up and apologize and acknowledge that she was trying to help, but that sometimes it's just easier and faster for Mommy to do things by myself.  She clung to me for a good five minutes while I walked around the house trying to get things picked up.  Faith, still staging a protest from her bouncy seat, glared at me and howled each time I walked by holding her sniffling big sis.

With the house clean, I had managed to wrangle both children into their carseats when I realized that the dog had to come with us because of the showing.  As I hoisted the cooler of now luke-warm rather than boiling hot water bottles into the back of my car, I calculated the amount of space I would have left for my double stroller once the dog was in there, too.  Just enough.  I hoped.

Lila declared that she needed to bring her baby's stroller (which was jam-packed with odds and ends and every trinket she owns) to the park and threatened the return of the lower lip when I questioned it's necessity.  So, cooler with water bottles, veggie tray, two children, large dog, double stroller, purse, grocery bag with Faith's bottle stuff and Lila's lunch, Lila's stroller, and a sweaty, greasy-haired, grumpy mommy all crammed into the car.  Which is when it started raining.

It only rained briefly and I think mostly to punctuate the if-it-can-go-wrong-it-will theme of my day, but  it was just enough rain to get Lila worked up about whether she'd get to play at the park or not.  So I'm driving along thinking that, despite the internal cussing and external sweating, I was pretty pleased with myself for getting to the picnic on time.  Until I pulled in and saw everyone already there and set up and I realized it started at 11:00, not 11:30.  Curses.  Oh well, me being fashionably late is nothing new.

We pull in and the dog starts freaking out.  I'm hollering at her to stay in the back and Lila's yelling the names of all of her friends from the window and waving like a maniac.  Faith is staring contentedly into the mirror affixed to the back of her seat (evidently she had forgiven me for ignoring her all morning).  As I'm getting Lila unbuckled, she informs me that she doesn't want to get her stroller out after all because she might lose all the stuff she's crammed in there (typical).  I sigh an "okay" and give her strict instructions to stand in the grass while I get Faith strapped into the stroller.  As I walk around the back of the car, the dog - in her excitement/stupidity/panic/desire to feel the my wrath - leaps from the back seat ONTO FAITH and I just lose my mind in fury.  Faith is fine, just a little surprised to have the dog in her lap all of a sudden, but I am just beside myself, yelling at her like she can understand me and she's just staring at me dumbly.  I pull Faith out of the carseat and inspect her for injuries - none, thankfully - and I strap her into the stroller and turn on the dog who - from the guilty look on her face - has figured out from all the yelling that she shouldn't have taken a flying leap onto the baby.  She's cowering away from me and I'm trying to pull her out over Faith's carseat so I can get her leash on her. Which is when another dog walks by and Franny tries to make a break for it.  I collapse onto her in a sort of clumsy tackle, wondering why we even have a dog, before she can get very far and  miraculously we emerge in one piece, albeit all thoroughly traumatized.

The picnic went smoothly enough, but Lila was having a hard time by the end.  She's in this phase where she likes to point and grunt at me rather than use words so we have a daily battle of wills when I insist she speaks and she points and grunts emphatically with a stubborn frown on her face.  It's really fun (sarcasm).  As I load everyone and everything back in the car - wondering if it was all actually worth the stress - I get another call about another showing for later in the afternoon.  The two showings are close enough together that it's not worth going home between them so I reroute to my parents' house.

As I pull into my parent's driveway, Lila is whining about being hungry, Faith - who should be whining about being hungry - is staring transfixed at her own hand floating in front of her face and I am realizing that I am not equipped for the afternoon.

Inside, I take stock and realize I only have two diapers for Faith and half of what we need for Lila to take a much-needed nap.  In the end, I stretch one of the two size three diapers on my three year old in lieu of the Pull-Up I didn't bring, pray that Faith doesn't poop and convince Lila that she can make do for one nap time without her beloved Birdie Blanket.  She falls asleep after a short but passionate protest and Faith and I retreat to the family room.

I take a deep breath, thinking I will finally get to relax and regather myself.  Faith is restless on the floor and wants to be held so I pick her up and she shows me her gratitude by head-butting me and giving me a bloody lip.

And this, my friends in the only evidence I have of the kind of day it has been:
For your sake, I cropped out my greasy hair.  You're welcome.
P.S. Faith is feeling much better, thank you for your calls, texts and emails.  And I *think* we have her eating figured out a bit, too.  We are on a trial run with a reflux med and it seems to be helping so I'm hopeful.  We also started her on cereal and she's doing really well with that - it's good to have another route for getting calories into her.  Our happy girl is back and I'm so grateful!
P.P.S. Turns out Lila DID need glasses!  We picked them up yesterday so today was our first day with them.  I've got a post in the works with more info, but here's a picture for now:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sick baby

Oh, Faith-baby.  You have had your mom and dad quite worried lately.  Your fever progressed to a full-blown cold which has made it very hard for you to breathe, which in turn has made you eat even less than your usual not-enough.  When you went two days eating only ten ounces each day and then refused to eat anything the next morning, Daddy high-tailed it to the doctor (I had my last day of school, so Daddy was on duty).  I called and texted him all morning trying to get an update.  Each time I talked to him on the phone, I could hear your sick little self hollering in the background.  I was so worried for you that I cried every time a parent of one of my students asked me about you.  And then, your Daddy - bless him - sent me a poorly-worded text as an update:

"Very traumatic.  Ate 1 oz, passed out."

My heart leapt into my throat and I started to visualize that fastest routes to the hospital.  I imagined what it might mean for a little baby to pass out - especially one who hadn't eaten much in two days.  I imagined what might be wrong beyond just a common cold.  I imagined having to call Birth Mom to tell her that her little baby was sick.  I imagined the worst - all in a matter of the 30 seconds it took me to dial your Daddy and ask, "WHAT'S GOING ON!??"

And then, my mind spun when his calm voice on the other line said, "She's fine.  She's just sleeping."

Text message translation:

"She got herself so worked up that she fell asleep after eating an ounce."

FELL ASLEEP not PASSED OUT.  HUSBAND!  Sheesh, Dude you scared the living snot out of me!

He was very apologetic and I have punished him by telling everyone I know about his choice of words (with his permission) so that I can gather some sympathy to my plight.  I intend to get some mileage out of that story!

When it was all said and done, you had been thoroughly traumatized by all the poking and prodding on top of being under-fed and exhausted (it's hard to sleep when you can't breathe, too).  The doctor had rinsed your ears out, suctioned your nose, and had you hooked up to a nebulizer to help you breathe.  They sent us home with a nebulizer so we can give you breathing treatments when you get too stuffed up.

We were relieved to know that you were clear of any secondary infections and that you would recover in a few days.  But I'm also a little overwhelmed by the thought of you catching more than just a cold in the future since a simple cold sent us into a tailspin.

But oddly, I am also feeling very grateful.  Grateful - because I have never felt more like your mommy than when I am holding your sniffling, feverish little body close and comforting you.  I am grateful that I get to be the one to sing to you and worry about you and whisper "It's okay's" into your tiny ears when you aren't feeling good.  Only mommies get to carry the weight and worry of sick little ones.  So, if anything, my worry and stress just confirms once again: I am your mommy.  And I love you.

Get better, little girl.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thoughts on Mother's Day: Dear Faith

Dear Faith-baby,

You really are the sweetest little cuddle bug there ever was.  I love the look you give me when I come around the car to get you out of your carseat.  It's like, "Oh!  It's you!  You came for me!"  I think you like me and I know I like you.  I am sorry for the moments in the last eight weeks that you might have been scared or insecure that your little baby body couldn't articulate.  It must be overwhelming to feel big emotions and not be able to tell anyone about them.  It makes me so sad to think about that for you.

I know that your First Mama misses you a lot.  She can barely make it a week without emailing me for a new picture.  I am, of course, more than willing to oblige.  There's been a lot of talk recently about adoption ethics and I am so thankful that your daddy and I were able to sit in a room with your First Mama and Baba and hear from their own mouths that, yes, they were willingly choosing adoption and for these reasons.  I am also so thankful that I can assure you throughout your life that your First Parents loved you so very much.  They are my heroes and my heart breaks for them that they have to have the word first in front of their title and they can't just be your parents.  I know they would have parented you if they felt that they could have, but they didn't think that they could give you everything your special little self needed.  We are so glad that they chose us to meet those needs.
Look how little you were!  You have grown up so much!
I am so proud of how much you have grown and changed in the eight weeks we have been your family.  You were a floppy little thing when we brought you home, but now you roll every which way (it's no longer safe to leave you unattended on the bed!) and you are getting so close to sitting up!  You can scoot yourself forward when we give you something to push your strong legs against and I am just so proud of every little achievement you accomplish!

One of my favorite things is the look on your face when you have just rolled over or when you have gotten your balance to sit with help.  It's this wonderful mix of surprise, pride and excitement and it is often accompanied by a little squawk of delight!  It's the best.
You think you're big stuff, don't you?
We are still figuring out the whole eating thing, but we're making it.  We've tried a bunch of different strategies, but you are a particular and stubborn girl and you require your bottle at the perfect temperature and would like to only eat an ounce or two at a time.  The doctor says that we need to get you eating more and we are doing what we can to encourage you, but I can't force you to eat nor do I want to.  I know we'll figure it out in time and you are happy so I'm trying not to get too worried.

You have your first little cold (well, it's not necessarily little, but you're little so I find myself calling anything to do with you little - "little cereal, little socks, little toys, little bottle, little bink, little, little, little") and it is making it hard for you to breathe.  You did okay last night, but this morning you were so miserable and tired and the only way I could get you to sleep was propped up in my arms:
Sicky baby

It's hard to breathe when you barely have a nose, isn't it?  Poor little snuggly baby.  You kept coughing and your eyes were watering and you just kept looking at me and seemed to be saying, "Help me, please!"  It was so sad.  Your big sis takes full responsibility.  She told me, "I shared my cold with her!"  I guess my attempt to quarantine her wasn't successful.  She just can't keep her hands off you - she loves you so!

Faith, I want you to know that Mother's Day will always be bitter-sweet for me.  I will never be able to celebrate fully without also thinking about your First Mama.  You have two mothers who are committed to mothering you in the ways we are able.  I am grateful to share that wonderful job with your First Mama.  She is an amazing, selfless, smart and driven woman.  She has sacrificed a lot - her own happiness in many ways - to give you the best life possible.  I am humbled that she chose our family to give you your best life.  With Jesus' help, we will do our best to give you your best.  I love, love, love being your Mommy.

Last year at this time I never could have imagined that I would be celebrating this Mother's Day with two little people who call me Mommy.  Consider me blissfully surprised and thankful!

Happy Mother's Day (a few days late) to all you Mommies and Birth-mothers.  And to those of you for whom Mother's Day is bitter-sweet or many just bitter  - maybe you long to be a mom and it can't or hasn't happened yet, maybe you lost your own mom, maybe you are a birth mother missing your child, maybe you are an adoptive mom grieving for your child's first family - whatever the reason, may you feel the comfort of our Heavenly Father and may this day be redeemed in your life in surprising and miraculous ways.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts on Mother's Day: Dear Lila

Dear Lila,
I am so proud of you.  You have navigated the big changes in your life with such courage and tenacity. I'm amazed by your positive attitude, your hard work and your unconditional and immediate love for your little sister.  

Lila, having Faith as a sister will not always be easy.  There will be times when it seems like we are giving her preferential treatment.  There will be times when being her big sister will require things of you beyond the responsibilities of most big sisters.  I want you to know that when we adopted Faith, we considered you.  We considered how having a sister with big needs would affect you.  And in our consideration we were convinced that you are up for the task.  We know that you have it in you to be the best kind of sister for Faith.  And in the last few weeks you have proved us right time and again.

Already you are showing us your ability to care for your sister.  You are sensitive to Faith's needs - you tell me, "Mommy, I think Faith is tired" or "Mommy, Faith is sad because she dropped her toy."  You are protective of her - we have begun to let other people hold her and this bothers you because you noticed that we hadn't let anyone outside our family hold her yet.  You advocate for her - if I don't respond to Faith's cries right away, you hassle me until I do!  You take care of her - you bring her toys, put her socks back on, tuck her in with her blanket, and talk to her when she's fussy.  You affirm her achievements - you cheer when she rolls over (a task we've been working on!) or even when she makes it through a car ride without falling asleep!

I imagine you in several years, putting all of those things to work as Faith joins you at school.  You will be the perfect support for her.  You will be her guardian, her cheerleader.  We will feel at peace with the idea of sending her into an environment where we cannot be with her because you will be there for her.  She is so lucky to have you as a sister!

Aside from what an awesome big sister you are, I am also so proud of you for working hard on obedience.  You are learning that you have a choice to obey and you are learning how to engage your self-control which is very hard for you.  I have tried to be more consistent and more patient with my instructions and consequences and we have had our best week yet since Faith came home!  Hooray!

We have reluctantly started transitioning you into a rest time in the afternoons in lieu of your naps (because if I'm honest, naps haven't been working for a long time and I just wasn't ready to give them up yet!).  I set the alarm on your little pink clock and charge you with the task of playing quietly until it goes off.  We tried for 15 minutes the first day, 20 minutes the second, 30 minutes the 3rd, etc and today you made it a whole hour without coming out of your room!  Not only that, but when you came in to announce that your alarm had gone off I asked you to go pick up the toys you had played with and you proudly informed me that you already had!  Without me asking you to!  "You wanna see?" you asked me excitedly.  And we hurried into your room to find it spick and span!  You were so proud and excited and I was soooo proud of you!  Daddy heard us celebrating and he came jumping in the room in enthusiastic support of your accomplishment!  I loved seeing how excited and proud you were!

Tonight as I was snuggling beside you in bed, I was overwhelmed with how big you are getting and yet how small you are still.  I was hit with your vulnerability and maturity all at once.  I don't even know what to say about that, but I was just undone.  I wasn't sure which to feel more emotional about - the depth of your need for comfort and soothing, for reassurance and boundaries, for security and affirmation; or the outlandish length of your legs and the grown-up way you stroked my hair and kissed me goodnight.  After you were snoring, I kissed your head and breathed in that heart-melting smell of a little girl who has played hard and enjoyed this sweet earth.  It was sweat and dirt and grass and fresh air mixed in with your own natural little girl perfume.  I want to bottle it up.  I want to bottle you up.  

Sometimes I jokingly say, "Stop being three!" when you are driving me a little nuts.  But I don't mean that.  What I really mean to say to myself is, "Stop being such a grown up!  Enjoy the thrill of high pitch squeals echoing in the bathroom stalls!  Indulge in grotesque imitations of Faith's big belly burps!  Run recklessly through the long hallways of Target just for the thrill of a long stretch of road ahead!  Jump!  Off of EVERYTHING!  Don't think twice about eating a fallen fruit snack!  Wear twirly dresses and ask perfect strangers if they think I'm beautiful!  Pull everything out of my dresser drawers and line up my favorite outfits on every spare inch of floor space in my room!  Sing!  At the top of my lungs!  Inside!"  

Sometimes I lose perspective.  Sometimes I forget that this time is fleeting, just like they say.  Sometimes I wish it away.  Gasp!

But sometimes time stands still and the beauty of your long eyelashes catches my breath.  Sometimes I am overcome just by the look on your face and I just want to squeeze all the breath out of you (you know, in a good way).  Sometimes, you undo me with a word and I go from feeling frustrated and angry to tender and affectionate at once.  

You are my greatest challenge and my greatest delight.  You stretch me and push me and I am all the better for it.  Some day you will grow up and become a mommy and you will understand what I mean when I say: I weep for love of you.  My emotions run too deep, too fierce, too wild, too strong for me to chain them in and tears flow freely - gathering into pools of affection and love with each drip-drip-drip. I am a sniffily, snuffily beautiful mess of a mama's crazy reckless love for her girl.

Lila, every day I am glad I am your mommy.  Every day.  Today is no exception.  You are the reason that Mother's Day applies to me.  You made me a mommy.  I love being a mommy.  I love being your mommy.
This picture is blurry, but I just love what it captured.  You rarely let me put your hair up and I talked you into a ballerina bun today.  I took this picture to show you what your hair looked like from behind and I love the look on your face that I accidentally captured.  You are admiring yourself in that innocent way that little girls have.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Our sticker chart has evolved in the last 6 months to include specific tasks that were invoking battles for us each day.  Lila can earn a sticker for getting dressed, eating lunch, taking a nap, being nice to the dog, etc as long as she does those things without arguing.

If she earns all her stickers, she gets to choose a fairy (we did princesses the first round).  In theory, she could earn a fairy a week, but she never earns all the stickers in a day so it generally takes her several weeks to earn her prize.

She earned her first fairy this weekend (after a loooooong month of sticker chasing) and now she's taken to studying her options for her second choice.

Today her method of choice was Einie Miney Mo.  It's the cutest thing.  I love the way she sings it.  I paid attention to how she sings it today and wrote down the way she says it:

Eenie Miney Mo
catch-a tiger bya-stow
bake 'em polish
make him day
my mom said to pick
the very best one
and you are not it!

She got the last part right!  I love that girl.
It is ridiculous that this picture was taken in MAY.

Monday, May 6, 2013

a lila update

So, I know the big news around here is our sweet Faith baby's adoption, but I don't want to forget about my big kid.  Lila has been having a bit of a rough go with the transition, but she's making it.  She L-O-V-E-S her little sister (she calls her "little big sis" because...well I don't know why.  I think because I make Faith "talk" to Lila and say, "Hi, Big Sis!" so she figures Faith is the little big sis.  I'm not going to argue the point because 1. we already argue about enough these days and 2. it's cute.) and wants to help feed her, hold her, bring her toys, pick out her clothes, rearrange her room, etc.  She scolds me if I don't respond to Faith's cries quickly enough - "Mommy, go get her! She's crying!" - and she is quick to remind me of what I need to do or what she thinks Faith needs/wants.

She also can't keep her hands off of Faith which has been a problem this week because Lila caught a cold and had a fever so I wouldn't let her touch Faith.  I am terrified of Faith getting a cold because babies with Down's syndrome often have very small nasal passages so breathing can be easily impeded.  Even without a cold, Faith sounds like a little Chinese rhinoceros.  We call her "Snorty" because she snorts a lot and we are very creative with our nicknames over here.  I know that a cold is inevitable, but I'd rather wait a bit.  Like for about 17 years.  Is that too much to ask?

Oh yeah, I forgot I was talking about Lila.  Now you can probably see why she's having a hard time.  That baby is just so darn distracting!  

It's a big adjustment for a little girl to go from Only to Oldest.  She is veeeeerrrry emotional most days and I have never seen so much of her bottom lip.  Our biggest problems are her propensity toward arguing and her recklessness.  I finally got to the point a few weeks ago where I realized that I had been trying to talk her into obedience.  "You really want to obey Mommy and here's why..."  I had this epiphany when I was asking her to put her shoes on and she was essentially like, "What'll you give me for it?"  She didn't say those exact words, but that was the general direction of our conversation.  I sat her down and said, "You know what, Lila?  In our house it's not a choice to obey Mommy and Daddy.  We just obey, and if you don't you'll have a consequence."  

I think saying those words out loud gave me the permission to put the boundaries back in place that had been squeezed out by mostly good intentions and a little bit of guilt.  I had been giving her a lot of extra grace because I know this transition is hard for her and we are all on a learning curve of how to be a family of four.  But I had gotten to the point where grace was looking a little too much like Lila calling all the shots and me getting frustrated.  And the thing is, kids NEED boundaries. They want boundaries.  They feel safer with boundaries.  I know this, but I just didn't realize that "extra grace" had turned into a free-for-all of Lila does whatever the heck she wants and we just forgive it or get mad.  
Blowing bubbles on the front porch.  We've been trying to give her little bits of responsibility and independence.  She usually isn't allowed outside by herself, but the Husband told her that she could blow bubbles on the porch as long as she stayed on the porch.  He was, of course, lurking behind her watching out the window the whole time!
Boundaries.  Boundaries are good for everyone.  And I think my girl was sort of panicking because here we had turned her life upside down by bringing this stranger (a really CUTE stranger) into our house and calling her sister and suddenly my attention was divided in half and my affection was shared and we have to be quiet when the baby is sleeping and she can't do somersaults on the couch anymore when I am feeding Faith because then Faith gets a heel to the head (I'm not saying that happened...) and oh the humanity!  Her life is ruined!  But she's also confused because she really loves that baby and tells me on a daily basis, "Mommy, I LOVE having a baby sister!" or "I'm so glad Faith is my baby sister!"  

And then on top of all of that, Mommy seems to have changed the rules on her and some rules that we used to have seem like they don't apply anymore and now we have new rules that seem completely unjust because that BABY needs it quiet to sleep (high maintenance) and she can't sing her Rapunzel songs at the top of her lungs anymore.  

It must be confusing for a little girl's brain so I'm trying to re-teach her what being a part of our family and living in our house looks like.  I'm trying to show her that her life is still safe even though it's different, and that Mommy still loves her even though I lose my temper easily because I'm stressed about adding a million appointments to our schedule and going back to school and trying to get that little asian stinker to eat more than two ounces at a time!  (Seriously, she downs two ounces and then just gurgles and smiles at me and spits out the rest.  It's cute and infuriating all at the same time!)

Also, I'm 95% sure Lila needs glasses.  I got glasses in first grade and my parents think I probably needed them younger than that.  I made an appointment for her at the eye doctor in a few weeks so we will see what they say.  There's a part of me - the very irrational and stressed out part - that thinks/hopes/prays/believes that getting Lila glasses will magically fix all of her behavior problems.  The other part of me - the rational and realistic part - thinks that it might fix some of her behavior problems.  As a legally blind person myself, I know how disorienting it can be when you can't see the world around you.  I imagine part of her recklessness has to do with the fact that the things more than three feet from her face are all a blur.  I also imagine that it's probably tempting to revert into an imaginary world when the real world isn't in focus and it's hard to get her out of that imaginary world sometimes especially when the real world has a Mommy saying, "Lila!  Stop singing so loudly!"  I'm kind of dreading having to cover up those sweet big brown eyes with glasses, but I'm also looking forward to how cute she's going to look.
She picked out these hipster glasses when she was at Half Price Books with Daddy.

So, if you think about it, pray for our Lila-girl.  She is still the sweetest, funniest, most creative kid I know and I just want to be able to look at her through eyes that see the good in her and not the frustrating parts of her (like asking me one million questions in the car.  Seriously, Child.  Give Mama a BREAK.)  Pray for me, too - that I can find ways to be patient and creative in the midst of a crazy season of life.  I don't want to look back and realize I "just survived" this once-in-a-lifetime bit of Lila's life.
This was on Easter this year.  My cousin Suzy was so sweet to help Lila hold the rabbit.  Lila was enamored with Suzy's red hair.  She whispered to me, "Mommy!  She looks like Ariel!"
One last little story about my Lila.  This story will only make sense to those of you who have seen the movie Tangled.  There's a part in the movie where Rapunzel is singing about being locked up in her tower her whole life and "wondrin'" when her life will begin.
Here's the clip (pay attention to 2:15):

Lila knows this song by heart and sings it constantly.  She loves pretending like my scarves are her hair and she acts out the song, flinging her "hair" around like Rapunzel does.  A few weeks ago, she was doing this as usual and then she said, "Mommy!  Do you like my wondrin'?"  I looked up to see this:

I love that she thinks a "wondrin'" is a circular something.  I love the way her mind works.  She's the best.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What we've been up to...

Whew.  It's been awhile and I have every intention to finish our "Getting Our Girl" series soon, but I thought I'd write up a quick update post to get us caught up.  Since my last post:

I turned 30! It was rather anticlimactic because we couldn't leave Faith yet so the big bash I dreamed about with all my favorite people present wasn't really practical.  The Husband turned 30 in February and his birthday was rather uneventful as well so we just decided we're going to celebrate big next year!

We finalized Faith's adoption! In Kansas you have to wait 30 days and have at least two post-placement visits with a social worker before an adoption can be finalized so on Monday April 29th we went to court and promised to love her and care for her as our daughter for the rest of our lives.  We found out the day before that we could invite whoever we wanted, so we made a few last-minute calls and our parents, my grandparents, my sister and our friends Jordanne and Holly and Russell were able to make it!  We were so thankful to have a group of supporters, but I do wish we had more warning because I would have invited the entire world to celebrate with us!  Faith is officially ours and we couldn't be more thrilled.  She is the sweetest little snuggle bug and we are still pinching ourselves that she is home!
Can you even handle the cuteness???
I started back to school.  I took the entire month of April off to be home with Faith and I started back this week for the rest of the school year.  I am grateful to only have a few weeks before the summer.  The Husband is staying home with Faith when I teach (just once a week) so she's in good hands, but I still miss her.

We decided to try to sell our house.  I know.  We're crazy.  We decided that our life didn't have quite enough chaos so we're adding showings and home improvements to the mix.  And since we've already checked numbers 1 and 10 off of our Hopes for the New Year list, we figured we might as well tackle number 5, too!  Actually, we have had our realtor come out each year for the last three years to see where we stand in the current market and we finally have enough margin to try to get out of our house and into a bigger one.  We bought at the worst possible time - right before the market fell apart - so it's a little depressing to do the math on how much we have paid into our house, how much we have spent on some big ticket updates (roof, sewer line, etc) and how much we will lose in the long run.  But since we are expecting at least one more child in our family (our Ethiopian baby - I'm not pregnant!) we feel like we need more room.  We love this little house though, and we will be so sad to leave.

We spent all of last weekend purging and cleaning and organizing so we are feeling like we are getting pretty close.  If you know anyone looking for a house, send them our way!  We aren't officially listed yet - still have a few little things to do - but we can show any interested buyers now.

Pardon me while I shamelessly advertise our house...

The stats:
- 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
- 1 car garage
- open floor plan
- hardwoods in living, dining and two bedrooms
- laundry/mud room off master and kitchen with extra pantry space and kitchen storage
- great central location walking distance to grocery, farmer's market, parks, the elementary school and Downtown Overland Park.
- the house was rehabbed in 2006 with updated electrical, refinished hardwoods, opened up some walls and turned the family room into a big master (13'X13') with a full bath and big walk-in closet
- we bought in 2006 and since then we got a new roof, replaced the big picture window in the master, replaced the sewer line, got a new hot water heater, and did a bunch of little updates throughout (ceiling fans, paint, added outlets, added vent fans in the bathrooms, landscaping, etc)
Confession: this picture is from the fall of 2011 for our home study.  I was going to take a picture today but it was SNOWING.  Ugh. Kansas.  For crying out loud - it's MAY.

Living Room: Love our big picture window and that it's open to the dining and kitchen
Living Room view 2

Dining room: built-ins with hidden storage behind them.  Open to the living and kitchen.  The door in the back walks into our bedroom.
Kitchen: Appliances and island can stay if buyer would like.  We replaced the faucet, garbage disposal, stove and dishwasher.  The kitchen is open to the living and dining room.
Laundry/Mudroom: We use this for extra kitchen storage, dry good storage and cleaning supplies

Laundry Room: It's so nice to have it right off our bedroom!  Those cabinets go to the ceiling for lots of bonus storage.
Master bedroom: Lots of light, big closet.  We love that it's separate from the other bedrooms for some extra privacy and space from the kids.  We added a ceiling fan and replaced that big window.  Franny photo-bombed this pic - cute pup not included!

Master Bathroom: There's a bathtub to the left of the sink behind the door.
Lila's room view 1
Lila's room view 2
Faith's room 
The girls' bathroom (I'm standing in the bathtub to take the picture!)
Okay I gotta get to my girls.  Faith is waking up and Lila is sick (although is currently dressed up and fluttering around like Tinkerbell so I think the Tylenol is in effect!) so I am needed!  Pray with me that Faith doesn't catch Lila's cold.  Colds are a bigger deal for babies with Down's syndrome because they have smaller nasal passages so they can have a really hard time breathing.  I am washing Lila's hands every 5 minutes and berating her for getting too close to her sister.  No kissing, no touching, no fun!  This finicky weather isn't doing us any favors either. Boo! No more snow in MAY!  Come on, Kansas!  Get it together!!

Stay tuned for the final installment(s) of our Getting Our Girl series and please spread the word about our house!