Thursday, April 28, 2011


Snuggling with Zeke in bed tonight: (with his Barry White 3 year old voice)
"Mama, do I have step motha? If I did, I would be scared." (We've listened to Snow White lately)
"No, buddy. You have me forever. And you have a birth mother in Rwanda."
"Why did she have me?"
"You were in her tummy and she loved you but she couldn't care for you. She wanted me to be your mama."
"That was a good idea. And also, I know Jesus likes my twisty curls."
(There's me, tears running down my face, laughing hysterically. Pretty sure God was smiling too.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Zeke the Rock Star

Our happy Zeke has been growing his hair out for "Twisty Curls like a Rock star." I googled every African American hair website out there, found a youtube video, spent a lot of time (but very little $$)at Sally Beauty Supply and 3 happy hours twisting the Sparkly Eyed Toddler's hair. It isn't fabulous yet because his hair was still only 3 inches long....but it's a cool start! He loves it and loved every moment getting the hair done by mama. Of course, Zeke pretty much loves everything. Still, I saved the family $85 AND we had fun doing it.

Funny side note: Most adoptive families (or any family with multiple small kids for that matter) will agree that sleeping is a somewhat gray area. When we first came home, we had this crazy idea of putting Etienne in his own bed in with Blake. Zeke was in the crib (that's a relative term, "in") next to our bed. It didn't take long to realize E needed to share a bed, not just a room. So the youngest shacked together in the lower bunk, with big bro Blake above. As you can imagine, once the sleep issues began to fade, the fun began! Most nights, there were a lot of giggling fits and funny song lyrics drifting from the "big boy room." Until it lasted after midnight most nights. So we offered the spare room to Blake, who said "Why would I want my own room?!?" Of course, Etienne followed suit. Then we asked Zeke. His response, "I can have rock and roll room by myself?" So the baby has a big double bed with a guitar on the wall and last night he fell asleep singing to himself, "play that funky music, white boy. play that funky music LOUD." He is so, so happy. Take that, attachment experts!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Let's get real.

Last week was definitely one of our "steps back." We had lots of lying, peeing/pooing, uncontrolled crying. You know, the ugly stuff. I posted on Thursday about our new approach (per the experts) and that we were giving it a go with the whole no reward/punishment thing. What I didn't share was all the anger I felt in doing this. I really, really lost it. After another day of lying and peeing, when Etienne was skipped on downstairs with his siblings to watch our Thursday night tradition, "Wipe Out." Gggrr!! It was infuriating to me that he'd had so many hurtful, disgusting behaviors yet were we still including him in the fun family activity. I literally had to separate myself from the entourage so that I could pray that God would just take that anger and fill it with love and patience. I pulled out Colossians and reread chapter 3, thinking that although I may not be bound by the sin of lust or filthy language, anger may be another story...
So Etienne tests my limits. He redefines "active." There is no pant that he won't wear through in less then 8 weeks. His sheets need changed at least a few times a week. The enormity of his heart is unreal. His theme song is "Don't Worry, Be Happy." His wants are simple. Sunday morning, knowing he was about to start whining, I made him spoon with me in bed. He sighed, started to suck his thumb, saying, "I sure like when we cuddle, Mama." And then I know God has replaced that anger with love.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

3 Down and oh so many to go....

3 down as in therapy sessions. The sessions are interesting, to say the least. Next time, Zeke isn't allowed to go because he answers everyone questions for them. For those who know Zeke, this is truly his style. Of course, he yells the "right" answer out in his Barry White voice with his sparkly eyes, making it difficult for anyone to do anything except kiss him. While Zeke yells answers out, Molly supervises Etienne's bouncing off the walls and enforces rules ("E, you can't do the worm while she's talking to you!") and Blake holds my hand.
All lightheartedness aside, we are getting some solid, experienced advice. The struggle is there because a lot of what we are being encouraged to do seems completely illogical. The biggest concept to wrap my brain around is that we don't have any big consequences for good or bad behavior. No more sticker charts, phone calls, etc. The only reward is over-the-top praise and encouragement when E makes a good choice; and praising his siblings like crazy to set an example. It's sort of working. We have been seeing progress with the exaggerated emotions too; and it's really funny when everyone does their mad face.
I am attempting to reprogram my brain and for the most part, I get it. Plus, none of our previous attempts at rewards, discipline or consequences ever worked (back to the fact that I have no mama gut instinct when it comes to post adoption life). Last night, Etienne peed AND pooped his pants. WHAT?!?!? We had a good day, fairly good week. There was no logic to it and it's pointless to guess (Was he tired? Angry at me for something?) Those are the actions that infuriate me but at least I am getting that I just can't get it. If that makes sense.
Accepting that I know nothing about mothering Etienne has become somewhat freeing. It's a relief to have a professional that just gets it in our corner too. And I think I've pinpointed part of my struggle. I've said that I won't accept that Etienne is broken. I've also realized I want him to be my son. Not my adopted son. Just my son.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Family Day

This week was family week at Blake's preschool, so we thought we'd take advantage and do the shortened version of our adoption talk. The above book, We Belong Together, by Todd Parr, is one of my favorites. Each person in the book is a bright primary color so it's easy to initiate the topic of race. I grabbed this book, some plantains, the boys and some well intentioned expectations and headed to the YMCA.
I'm an educated woman so I knew I had just a little window of attention with the 4 year old crowd. We all rounded up into the circle, passed out the sweet plantains and I began to read. Well, I am so much more patient waiting on babies to be born than a group of preschoolers! I couldn't get through a page without a "nobody is really purple!" or "I didn't look like my mom when I came out of her tummy!" To say the least, I did appreciate the fact that the only ones really listening seemed to be my 3 sons....
After the story, I attempted to ask the crowd "How does your family help you?" Blake, knowing the routine, attempted to feed answers to his classmates "Aidan, say they kiss your boo-boos." We usually have a photo of a band-aid, another of some kids jumping rope, and a giant heart. The goal here is to point out that the things your family gives you have nothing to do with biology. I quickly realized I better just point out the obvious about Blake's brothers, tell the group its okay to look different and still be a family and get the heck out of Dodge. I left a little disheartened but the next morning a fellow preschool mom informed me that her son told her all about adoption. So mission accomplished. Whew. Good thing family week is only once a year.