Kids

Kids

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Adorable Pictures taken by Ashley

 Emery
Blake

One Month Home

The twins were officially home for one month this past Sunday and 5 weeks out of the orphanage. There have been many changes over the last few weeks. Emery has said about 5 or 6 words now. She will not repeat them when you ask her to, but we know she can talk! She is just beginning to allow more physical contact. She woke up this morning and greeted me with a great big real actual hug for the first time. It felt so good to hold her so close. She has always spent her days playing with various little toys, changing her clothes constantly, and just fiddling around. She would never just sit with us. Well that has changed. She will now sit on our laps and let us rub her back, talk to her, and give her kisses. The other day I almost received a kiss from her - but not quite. Two nights ago, she left the living room and came back with her pillow and blanket and squeezed right in next to Ashley on the couch. I was sitting on the other end and when I saw her do this and then saw the big smile on her face, I almost cried. This little girl who could not be touched only 4 short weeks ago, was now all cozy on the couch with her family. It sure makes all of the difficult days seem worth it! Miss Emery no longer walks away quietly and goes off to rock by herself when her brother takes a toy from her or pushes her out of the way. She now puts up a fuss because she knows mom or dad will step in and not allow this to happen. She sure gets a big smile on her face when this happens. Which brings me to Blake. Blake is not too excited about having to share with his sister, take turns, and not be pushy. He is getting use to it and most times will accept it with a big sigh. Other times he will get frustrated and begin a tantrum, act like he is hurt, or some other attempt to take our attention away from Emery. We are working on this, taking care to make them both feel good about the house rules. Blake is not use to sharing attention with his sister. Now that she is actually seeking attention from us, Blake is having a tough time handling it. Quite a few meltdowns this past week. But, he is doing better today, so we may have reached a small turning point. Blake is basically potty trained now. He has an occasional accident and needs a pull up at bedtime, but we have come a long way in a short time! I am beginning to potty train Emery. She will sit on the potty several times a day, but has not gone yet. She may not be as easy to train as Blake, but we will get there. We have began the doctor appointments necessary for Blake's leg issue. This is hard on him because he is afraid to let anyone examine his leg. It is so hard to see him so upset, but I know his quality of life will be dramatically improved if he will one day be able to walk. I can now completely trust Blake to go outside in the back yard and play with his cousins. He does not try to run off anymore and is generally a really good kid. I know a few weeks ago I would have never thought I would be describing him as well behaved, but he really is a well behaved little guy. Emery has gone through a testing stage as well. We had a 4 day period where she would disobey every chance she got. But, she has past that little stint and is actually listening to us much better. Three times this past weekend she came back to me when I told her to and I did not have to chase her down. Even though there are some very difficult days and I am totally exhausted both mentally and physically at times, I can look back over the past month and see how far we have come. Overall, I think these kids are amazing for doing so well after having there entire world turned inside out. I know we will experience many many more issues in the future, but seeing the positive changes in the twins makes it easier to handle.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pictures

 Emery playing with water - which she is not supposed to do!
 Playing in the water again!
 Blake at the park.
 Blake on the slide.
 Nothing stops this little dude!
 Emery loves to swing.
 Another no no!
 Caught in the act!
 Emery would not touch or be near blankets when we first brought her home, now look at her!
 She loved this ribbon in her hair.
 Lunch time!
 Blake's favorite thing to do is ride on a tractor!
 Yet another water no no!
 Emery is her sister's shirt - which she pulled out of the hamper!
 Nicole all dressed up for her school dance.
Ashley all dressed up for her school dance.

Please Remember.....

A message from internationally adopted kids.


Please Remember….
If I am sad,  If I am angry,  If I am rocking,  If I am having a meltdown,  If I am having a tantrum…

I lost my Culture
I lost my Country
I lost my Language
I lost my Home
I lost my Caregivers
I lost my Friends
I lost my Bed

And I am only 7 years old….
Please Remember.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Days are Getting Better

Things are getting a bit better. Blake has only had 2 major tantrums in the past 4 days. He is learning to accept no for an answer. When he is not having a tantrum, he has the most entertaining personality. The kid keeps me laughing all day. Rather than tantruming, he is fretting when he cannot have his way. That is ok, it is a step in the right direction. Emery has had a few major meltdowns, which include banging her head very hard on the counter or the wall. We try to gently bring her to her soft chair as soon as we can, but she usually gets in one good whack. Poor kid, praying this eventually stops or at least happens less frequently. Blake has been using the potty on his own since Monday. Huge thing! Bribed him with a tractor ride. He hasn't pooped yet however. Emery has been handing me a pull up every time she pees. I think we will start training her next week. Not sure how much she understands, but will see how it goes. The kids are starting to get very very picky at meal time (just like their big sisters!). They want only snacks! Now, if they don't eat their meal, we save their plate and that is what they get for snack. Neither are too fond of this rule, but at least they are eating their meals. They never go hungry. I always have fruit available in the am and fresh veggies in the pm. We have a busy weekend coming up. The twins are going with daddy and grandma to a graduation party (pray for Bruce) and I am going to the girls last track meet. They practice 3 days a week for only 4 meets. They missed the 1st two meets while in Bulgaria, Bruce went to the third meet and I am going to the last one. Ashley's piano lessons end at the end of May so we will be done with all activities except for a few sports camps in June. Volleyball starts up the 2nd week of August so we have July off! I thank God every day that the twins love going in the car. Because we make at least 5 short trips back and forth per day for the girls. It would be extremely exhausting if B ans E were not cooperative! The kids love their water table on the deck. We go out everyday after lunch. Great fun, especially for Emery - she loves water! Hoping to post some pics soon!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wonderful Mother's Day

I had a great day celebrating my 12th and 13th Mother's Day with the girls and my 1st Mother's Day with the twins. Had a lot of catch up work to finish in the morning after a yummy breakfast made by Nicole. Then spent the afternoon out in the sunshine while the twins played with their new water table - which they absolutely love! Then went to my sister's house for a cook out celebration with family. It was a perfect day. I hope you all had a nice day too!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Question

This a question about diaper changes. During our first week with the twins, we had no diaper changing issues. But since being at home, and especially this week, Emery has been having a total meltdown when we are changing her poopy diapers. I mean an orphanage type meltdown: hitting her head or face with her fists super hard and/or banging her head on the floor, crying, and becoming totally agitated. Not sure if it is just due to a sore bottom from loose poops or something else. Anyone experience this issue? Any ideas?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thanks

Thank you blog friends for all the words of encouragement. So glad I have this outlet. Makes the day to day stuff much better!

Question for Adoptive Families

First of all, Tuesday went from bad to worse. Blake had at least 7 tantrums that lasted anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes each. Poor Emery did not get much mommy time. Yesterday was better, only one major tantrum that lasted an hour and a few minor ones. I am trying a few different things, but I think he just needs to work through his anger. Now for my question. We had planned on "cocooning" as much as possible for 6 weeks with the twins. My concern is that Blake loves being with other kids. If the girls are outside playing, he wants to play too. He loves playing with his cousins. Emery has also grown to love playing with her cousins. I didn't expect this so soon. I tried to bring her inside last night after about an hour of playtime and she burst into years, grabbed her shoes, and handed them to me. So is it important for bonding purposes that we keep them from playing with other children and only playing with mom and dad? They are never with more than about 2 to 6 children at a time. I feel it is really good for them. But, I do not want it to have a negative long term effect. How much "cocooning" is appropriate? Other than school and activity drop off/pick ups, they are both home with me all day. Any opinions on this would be greatly appreciated. Email me at tvandermeulen@comcast.net or respond in the comments section. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blake

Yesterday was my first day home alone with the twins because Bruce had to go back to work. I was surprised at how well the day went. I also tried a new method with Blake to control his tantrums. I started the morning by teaching him 3 emotions: happy, sad, and angry. We looked at picture cards I made showing facial expressions for each of these emotions. Then we sang the "if you're happy and you know it song". We used stomp your foot for the angry emotion. We went over these several times. Every time he was about to have a tantrum (5 times), I would ask him if he was angry and make the angry face and stomp his foot for him. He would star to giggle then I would redirect him to an activity. Worked like a charm. Avoided all potential tantrums. Now each of the 5 "almost" tantrums were over being told no about something. I was concerned about not letting him get out anger related to grieving. When he becomes upset for no apparent reason, I think he is just sad and grieving. He has to get his feelings out in a safe way when grieving. So I was a bit worried that avoiding the tantrum didn't let him get any anger out. Well I didn't have to worry for long. This morning he had an hour long tantrum. Screaming, kicking, hitting, throwing things. I had all I could do to keep him from hurting himself. Then I accidentally scratched him on the cheek with my fingernail (while trying to keep him from hitting the wall with his crutch) and I think he thought I did it on purpose. I felt bad, but there was no way I could explain it to him. I will have to teach accident vs. on purpose at some point in the future. This child is so adorable and has such a fun personality. But when he is having a tantrum he is extremely difficult. I am praying he starts to accept "no" and his tantrums are fewer and less severe. Hoping for a better afternoon. By the way, his tantrum started because he wanted to go see Baba Susie (my mom) and I told him she was coming over later. That was it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Things that are difficult

OK, here is a post about things related to the adoption that bug me. Not that I would change anything. Just stuff that I personally have a hard time with. Most all of these things were expected. Just wish they wouldn't bother me as much. The 1st thing is the twins not being potty trained. I think the main reason it bugs me is because the orphanage director lied to me. We were told prior to our visit they were potty trained. Every day of our visit, they were in a diaper. Twice I asked the director, via our translator, why the kids had diapers on. Both times I was told that they are definitely trained but sometimes forget to tell someone they have to go when there are visitors. Seemed a bit odd, yet somewhat understandable. So when we arrive to pick them up, I give the caregivers their change of clothes including undies. They come back and give me back the undies and a pack of diapers. Makes me wonder what else the director lied about! Anyway, it is apparent that someone must have been working on potty training them somewhat. Both would sit on the potty the week we were in country. This past week, Blake has been using the potty (for pee only) frequently as long as I remind him. Emery is no where near potty trained. So I am going to work with Blake first and then proceed with Emery. The 2nd thing that bugs me is that the kids throw any wrapper or other trash item on the ground. I know this is minor, but hey, I am being honest here. #3 - both kids prefer their finger to a tissue. Yuck! They have zero social skills. I know, this is normal for orphanage kids, it just bugs me. I think it bugs me because it seems like it will take forever for them to learn these things - overwhelming I guess. Another biggie is that Blake is such a stinker (I use the word stinker just to be nice). He bosses his sister around constantly. He yells at us in Bulgarian and shakes his finger at us. He throws a fit about 50 percent of the time he is told no. He really acts like a spoiled brat. It is super hard to teach him proper behavior skills without getting angry. I pray for patience with him on a regular basis. I also remind myself that these behaviors could be transition related and he is only 7. I know in time, things will improve. There are just moments when it seems so very overwhelming. One last thing that bugs me is that I do not have even one close or semi-close friend that has adopted a child. Nobody else really gets it and sometimes I just wish I had someone that did. OK, I am done whining now. Thanks for "listening".

Sunday, May 6, 2012

One Week Home

The twins have been home for one week nowadays out of the orphanage for almost two weeks. We actually have seen some changes already. I will start with Emery. Last week Emery would barely let us touch her. Hugs were not allowed. Kisses were not allowed. She rocked back and forth hard against walls and furniture several times a day. She rocked herself to sleep every night. She hated blankets and pillows. She would not make eye contact for more than a split second. When she was upset, she would hit herself on the head. She wanted to eat and drink water constantly. She always obeyed us if we had to tell her no. Now Miss Emery takes our hands when she wants to play. She lets us pick her up. Does not give hugs yet. If we ask her for a kiss, she turns her cheek toward us and let's us kiss her. She probably rocks during the day at least half as much. Three nights ago, she allowed me to softly rub her legs and sing her to sleep. Two days ago, I found her in her bedroom covered up with my blanket and giggling. She only rocks herself at bedtime for about 5 minutes now as opposed to about 20 minutes. She makes great eye contact now for up to about 15 or 20 seconds. She rarely hits herself anymore. She has tapered off on eating and drinking somewhat. We now have to tell her no a few times before she obeys! I think she is feeling more comfortable with us. Now for Blake. Blake was having several grieving meltdowns a day. Now he only has them occasionally. He was a stinker when he was first with us - and he still is! He is saying several English words and understands a lot of what we say. He learns easily. He was not using the potty at all the first week at the apartment. He now is using it frequently. Still has accidents, if I forget to remind him. He still hates the word no. He is getting a bit more patient, sort of! Both kids were afraid of our cat and dog. Now they chase after the cat. Emery doesn't pay any attention to the dog. Blake is still afraid of the dog when she barks, but otherwise pets her and loves to give her treats. Both kids love to ride in the car. I thought seatbelts would be an issue, but both kids did absolutely fine with them. So that's the update. If anyone has any particular questions about the twins, transition, or their orphanage, please feel free to email me at tvandermeulen@comcast.net.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Home at Last

Well, we have been home almost 6 full days now. I feel it is going a little better than expected. Not that it is easy. The transition is still hard on the kids (and on mom and dad). Sometimes one of them will start crying out of the blue. Big big tears. They are grieving. Emery will not accept any comfort during these moments. She sits in her favorite chair and rocks back and forth really hard. At least the chair has a soft back! If she hurts herself accidentally, she will also try to comfor herself by rocking. If Blake is crying he will just lay on the floor and cry and become very agitated. After about 10 minutes or so, he will come to mom or dad to be held. Blake also has full blown major tantrums. These tantrums are set off when he is told no. He is not having them as often as last week. But at least once or twice a day, he has a kicking, screaming fit. The psychologist at are agency, told us we have to enforce rules but we cannot show any anger. That is really tough. This kid is very persistent. When he does something wrong, we tell him no and try to get him interested in something else (which almost never works). If he does it again, we give him a choice of obeying or sitting on the couch with mom or dad. Most of the time he ends up on the couch, which he absolutely hates. He will get down and head right back to do whatever it was we told him no about again. Then we must carry him back to the couch and explain the choices again. Now this little guy does not give in easily. Yesterday, one of these episodes lasted 45 minutes. I think he eventually just wore himself out. We have found that if there is something he likes doing, and we tell him he will not be able to do it unless he makes a good choice, he sometimes complies. He loves watching Mickey Mouse. So if Mickey is on during one of that tantrums, we tell him we will turn the tv off. This has worked once. He loves going anywhere, especially to school to pick up his sisters and cousins. If it close to pick up time, and we tell him he cannot go if he chooses to disobey, he normally will make the right choice. Both kids will hit themselves when they become really agitated. They do not do it very hard, but it is still difficult to see because you know they are so frustrated and they are grieving and they just need to get the anger out. They had their initial pediatrician check up on Tuesday and had their blood work completed today. Blake will be seeing an orthopedic specialist in about 4 weeks for his leg issue. Both kids will have various assessments about mid summer to determine where and when we should begin school and any needed therapy. Other than the rocking and tantrum episodes, the kids are generally happy. They love to have us chase them around the house and they giggle and giggle. They love playing on the swing set out back and really had fun at the park yesterday. They both play fairly well on their own at various times throughout the day. Blake is beginning to enjoy reading books and doing puzzles with mom. I have numerous pictures around the house of the twins and of our first trip to meet them. Both kids will spend several minutes at a time looking at the pictures. I am so glad I already had them up! They both eat well and Emery now weighs the same as her brother. She was 4 pounds lighter than him. She now even has a little belly on her! She still stuffs a lot of food in her mouth at a time. Trying to gently work on this with her. She most likely does it because she is afraid her plate will be taken away before she is finished. As she begins to feel more secure and understands that she will always have food, this will improve. Blake is using more And more English words. He is also beginning to understand some of what we say. Today, after he put on his jacket to go away with dad, he said "ready daddy". So we are hanging in there and taking it step by step. Cannot wait to see how things are after another few weeks!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Trip Home

The long trip home consisted of three different flights and about 22 hours. It actually went better than expected. Blake did great the entire trip. No meltdowns at all. He had his occasional little stinker moments, which always involved being told no. Overall, he did as well as any other 7 year old boy. Emery did fairly good as well. She did have 3 meltdowns. Her first was at the Sofia airport. There were a lot of people at our gate. She just wanted to sit in a chair, be left alone, and rock. However, several well meaning people tried to talk to her and/or invaded her coveted personal space and she completely lost it. Huge tears, loud screams, and lot of trying to get out of daddy's arms while boarding the plane. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell Bulgarian speaking people why Emery does not want their attention. Once she was settled on the plane, she did great. She had no more issues while at the Munich airport or on the long 10 hour flight to Chicago. When we got off the plane in Chicago, she did fine going through customs and immigration. I could tell she was getting a bit agitated. By the time we got to security, she couldn't take all of the people any more, and another major meltdown occurred. This time, I had to carry her to our gate kicking and screaming. Would have loved to just take a moment to let her calm down, but we were close to missing our connection to Grand Rapids. Mom only suffered a few claw marks on her arm. She calmed down momentarily while boarding the plane. Then I had to put her seatbelt on her. Oh did she hate that. She screamed and fidgeted and tried to get out of the belt. She ended up banging her head accidentally on the arm of her chair and that made the meltdown worse. After about 10 minutes, she fell sound asleep. Unfortunately, she no more than fell asleep and we were in GR. She did OK at the airport. She was quiet and didn't want anything to do with our family that met us at the airport. Blake, however was his normal charming little self and adored all of the attention. We made it home by 11:30 and basically went right to bed. Both kids seemed a little scared, but fell asleep almost immediately and so did mom! 3 meltdowns, 22 hours, and 2 newly adopted kids: Fairly good trip overal.