Saturday, September 17, 2011

We have loved taking hikes on the trail near our house. I love this picture!
After one of our hikes it was warm so we let the kids get in the river. So fun!
For Cindy's birthday, Grant and Jake make her a princess litter- like in the old days! They are so creative! She loved all the attention and bossed them around just like royalty! LOL!
All Cindy wanted for her 4th birthday was a Cinderella dress. She was so excited to get that and a lot of other homemade presents from her brothers.
Jonathan was so excited to get his own nerf gun like his big brothers. Oh, the battles that ensued!
Since Jonathan's birthday was the month before we became a family, we told him we would celebrate a belated birthday. He HAD to partake of the Colombian tradition of the mom smashing the child's face in the cake after they sing. He loved it! The girls decided they didn't want to continue that tradition! Ha!
  • At the Harford County Farm Fair, Luisa told us that her foster family had a cow just like this. It was her favorite.
Playing dress-ups is the little kids' favorite pastime!
Cait was moral support for her friend, Gwen, as she got her ears pierced. Then they had fun trying on very high heels in the shoe store!

Cindy loved meeting her newest cousin Tirzah- A REAL BABYDOLL!
Quinn's box was a fighter plane..
So, I found this huge stash of big boxes along the side of the road. The kids LOVED making all kinds of vehicles and houses out of them. Entertained them for quite a while this summer!
Almost all the cousins on the Trautman side- a few babies were sleeping...
4th of July- we finally got the sparklers to light!
The boys and their cousin Andrew all decked out with marshmallow guns Uncle Dave brought over..umm..yeah..thanks soo much Dave... still finding marshmallows all over the place!  Just kidding!
Cindy had a great time riding the miniature horse at Abuelita Muzzy's house
Jonathan and Muzzy (abuelita!)
Luisa finishing the top of her very first birthday cake! Pink cake, Pink icing, and pastel sprinkles! She was in heaven! 
So, I have become a horrible blogger. Unfortunately I only find myself blogging when something big is happening in our life. I find myself not feeling like it when life is good and mundane. Well, I guess that it is a good thing everything is going good here, right?

And things have been wonderful. We have been one big (9 people) happy family since May 6th and home in the US since June 2nd- 3 months home!!! In so many ways it seems like they just arrived and yet at the same time it feels like the kids have always been a part of our family. We are all learning and growing and figuring out what our "new normal" looks like.  Frankly, Brent and I are continually in awe of how well things are going. We had prepared for attachment issues, tantrums, controlling behaviors, and a long transition time since we were adopting older kids with lots of trauma in their past. But God has been so good. He has graciously given us blessing after blessing which we don't deserve. He has healed brokenness in ways that I never imagined possible.

The children we received in Colombia are completely different than the children we have here today. We RARELY have to deal with temper tantrums and the food issues are no more challenging than with our bio kids. Though we have found that they like Mexican food more than Colombian food! HA!

About a month and a half after we got home we experienced one week of a setback with difficult behaviors. It really drained me emotionally, I think, because I was unprepared for it. In Colombia we were all psyched up for all the drama that comes with older child adoption, but then the first month or so home was so easy that I let down my guard. When things got difficult again I started to wonder if the new honeymoon at home was really over and this was our new normal- yuck. I felt really discouraged and sad. BUT, thankfully, we think they were just testing the boundaries and seeing if anything had changed. It only lasted about a week or so and since then things have been wonderful.

We had a wonderful summer full of "firsts". First cookout, first amusement park, first 4th of July, first time hiking, first time visiting grandparent's houses, first trips to the library, first doctor/dentist appointments, first Sunday School classes, and so many more. We swam in the pool a LOT, ate more watermelons than we can count (surely Jonathan is going to turn into a watermelon!), and have learned that hot dogs need to be on the dinner menu at least once a week.

We have loved learning more of their personalities and habits though I feel like we still have  a long way to go. I think once English is the primary language we will understand a lot more. Right now we are hearing a lot of Spanglish! The kids understand almost everything we are saying in English, but they are still speaking Spanish (or Spanglish) 90% of the time. This season of language acquisition is so fun. We get a lot of laughs throughout the day as we hear "muy hot" or "You I like?" (translation: do you like??)  Cindy and Jonathan are definitely picking it up the fastest being younger, however Luisa can read so she can often figure out English words by sounding them out. 

In the midst of all of the language transition, I think we lost Quinn. Because of age, he ends up having the most interaction/play time with the chicos and has almost completely gone to speaking in Spanish since there are 3 of them speaking Spanish and only him speaking English! In fact, we have had multiple instances where he has forgotten a word or two in ENGLISH! LOL! He pretty much only speaks Spanish around the house and even on his narration for school the other day, he was saying it all in Spanish until I reminded him that I couldn't understand what he was saying! He is so far beyond Brent and I!

The thing that really cracks me up, though, is to hear them bicker or argue in Spanish! And this is with all 7 of them! They have totally accepted each other as typical siblings; they love each other but fight like normal too. Except it really is hard to keep a straight face when I hear my English speaking kids fussing at their siblings in Spanish!

The kids are very open and honest about their past for which I am thankful. They are pretty matter of fact about things and don't dwell on it. It saddens me to hear so many of the stories of the abuse they experienced, but there are many happy memories entwined in the midst. I am so thankful that Luisa can remember so many details so well. It has been a gift to know little things like when Cindy was potty trained, how each of them got different scars on their body, the color of one of their favorite dresses, which foods they loved or hated in Colombia, songs they remember singing in school, silly traditions they had, friends names, stories of aunts, uncles and cousins they had in their foster families, the story of how Cindy climbed out of her crib and fell, and other little things like those. I am choosing not to dwell on all the lost time we have missed with them but be grateful for the bits that we do know. Those will be the stories we tell and retell through their lives.

Two weeks ago we started back to school. I am homeschooling all 7 so my day is pretty long so far. We are still working out the scheduling kinks as I figure out how to meet everyone's needs appropriately. I took the chicos all the way back to the beginning and started with preschool type work just to solidify what they knew and to figure out where the gaps were. So far, Luisa is flying with reading but we needed to really back up with Math.  Jonathan is sooo anxious to read and is faithful to practice his letter sounds. He always is disappointed when I say school time is over! He is picking up learning very easily because he is so motivated! Cindy is starting to learn some letter sounds and recognize numbers, but mostly she is just happy to do school like the big kids.

Yesterday we started with our first day of homeschool co-op. It ends up being a long day and we are all tired, but they love the classes. The older kids are doing World Geography, Nature Study Sketching, a serious Drawing and Painting class, drama, and Grant is taking intermediate guitar. The little guys are doing World geography, Art, Science Experiments and a Lego Club. Cindy has all kinds of preschool classes during the day which she enjoyed.

Shortly after we came home everyone (except for Cindy and I) started up Karate again. The older kids were glad to be back to the routine and friends. Luisa and Jonathan are doing surprisingly well even though they don't understand a lot. Luisa is one tough little girl with strong muscles and a determined will. When Jonathan first came to us, his fine motor skills were severely delayed. He couldn't hold a pencil, couldn't open our front door- basically had no strength to speak of. Swimming in the pool, some strategic toy options to strengthen fine motor skills, riding bikes, and karate have all helped him to improve dramatically.The difference now is amazing. He is most proud of being able to hold a pencil and write like the big kids!

So, there you have it. The past three months of boring mundaneness all summarized! Hopefully it won't be another 3 months before I get around to remembering to do another post! I'll try to upload some photos in the next post.