Ali Mae, you have grown and changed so much in the past month! You’re back to being an only child again after 3 months as a foster sister to Buzz. Right after that transition happened, I started working my way down my to do list (things to accomplish while we don’t have any foster placements in the home) which included some big changes for you. I turned your crib into a bed. I’m currently second-guessing that decision and we may go back for a while… You became potty trained for the most part, though we still have to remind you. The concepts of wet/dry have been learned pretty well. You started preschool two days a week and you are loving it! Every time we pick you up you’re having a blast dancing with your classmates and you say “I love you!” to your teachers when we leave. You’ve been talking more and more lately, often in sentences and starting to say some really funny things. Sometimes you get the order of the words mixed up, for example “I want cookie too Ali.” You have learned all of your colors (thank you Preschool Prep!) and are currently working on numbers and letters. There is no rush, of course. You have plenty of time before you need to have those things mastered. Because I’m a designer and Daddy’s a musician, we get particularly excited when we see you interested in art and music. We recently walked around the Parthenon replica at Centennial Park and when we walked up the back steps you looked up and said, “Deautiful.” You repeated it several times. That’s the first either of us have ever heard you describe a place or sight as beautiful. A couple days later we went into West Elm and your interior design loving parents were again amazed to hear you say it as you took in the atmosphere of the store. Music is also a big part of your day. Every time we get in the van you say, “music please” … repeatedly until we respond. At night you request “daddy’s music” on your CD player and often turn it on by yourself. Daddy set up a keyboard for you in the playroom which you love to play with and refer to as the “pino,” like pinot. We often catch you singing ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle and other simple songs all on your own, as well as singing along with the radio and CDs in the car. I love that your imagination seems to be growing and getting more creative while you play, too. You’ve always been a content and happy child mixed with a good amount of drama and passion. Lately your emotions have sometimes come bursting out so quickly that I think it’s catching even you off guard. We’re trying hard to be patient with you while encouraging you to develop self-control and regulation.
Speaking of beautiful, happy and dramatic… we recently had dinner with two of your biological siblings and their mom. You three have a lot in common! You had fun dancing to music together and dressing up with accessories and generally just having a silly, wild time together after dinner. It had been around a year since we’ve seen them last (a crazy busy year for our family) but we plan to get together much more frequently in the future, now that all three of you are finally old enough to really play together.
The other day while you were picking out your shoes, you said, “awesome.” I told you that I think you’re awesome. You responded, “Daddy’s awesome too, Mama.” I agreed and asked if you thought I was too. “Mommy’s awesome, too. Ali’s awesome, too.” I love you so much, Aligator. I think know being a mom would be so much fun. You make it way better than I ever imagined. You really are awesome, kid. I’m blessed to get to be your mom.
1 Comment | Family, Family: Adoption, Family: Extended Family and Friends, Family: Precious/Ali | Tagged: adoption, Ali, alianna, biological family, changes, daughter, foster care, growth, precious, siblings, two year old | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt
It’s been three months since a shy and wide-eyed little boy showed up in our kitchen at 1am on a rainy Friday night. When I look back at the pictures from his first weekend with us my first thought it, wow, he looks haggard! Poor guy was exhausted. The first week he had a hard time sleeping and would get out of bed, turn on the light, pace around, sometimes curl up with a blanket on the floor or in the chair in his room, dropping books and sippy cups and generally keeping everyone awake. By the end of his first week he was sleeping in his bed with the light off and it was no small victory. Several times in the weeks to follow he would get frightened by a sound a night, jump out of bed, put his shoes and jacket on and get ready to haul out of there. I’m happy to say that hasn’t happened in a long time. He’s even been fairly good about staying in his room in the morning until his Ok To Wake clock lights up. (More about that another time.)
I’ve already written about his progress in expressing his emotions. Buzz doesn’t talk well. He talks a lot but doesn’t articulate very precisely. That means it’s often hard to know what he’s thinking or feeling or even asking for sometimes, and it’s frustrating for all of us. Through a combination of learning and attempting lots of new words and me learning his “language” I feel like we’ve made great strides in our communication. He’s great about saying “thank you” and “your welcome.” He still defaults to “I want more” instead of “more please” but he’ll ask nicely (vs. tell me what he wants) if I remind him. He always wants milk to drink and we’ve progressed from pointing at the fridge and saying, “right there” to “ba” to “bilt” to “milt” sometimes. Progress, see! He’s getting better about apologizing after hurting someone/something or being disrespectful, though it still sounds like he’s saying, “I die” instead of “I’m sorry.” But it’s wonderful that he’s starting to develop true remorse for his actions rather than just seeing what he can get away with. Here’s an example:
Sometimes Ali and Buzz play together in the playroom while I’m in the kitchen. Often it results at some point with Ali crying and Buzz meeting me in the hallway to say, “Sorry!” This happened recently. “Don’t apologize to me. Apologize to Ali,” I said…again. I followed him into the playroom. Ali was upset but didn’t seem hurt. I’m guessing he had pushed her out of his way to go down the slide and she had fallen down. He told her he was sorry just as I had asked. I suggested he help her up. Much to my surprise, he bent down and gave her a hug. And then a kiss. And then helped her up. Oh my heart! This is the boy who usually loudly protests and pushes her away anytime she tries to give him a hug. I think he must have actually felt bad for hurting her!
He can be so sweet and helpful when he wants to be. I believe this is one of his gifts and a strong pillar of his character. I affirm it every time I see it. He can be so defiant and mean sometimes, so careless—pushing other kids out of his way or stepping on other kids’ hands or toys. And then other times he’s the most thoughtful, helpful kid I’ve ever seen. The other day I was helping Ali practice peeing on her potty chair. He went off to her room to get a new diaper for her without me asking. When she’s done, he’s always eager to take care of cleaning out the pee pan. Sometimes I have to ask several times but he is an amazing help for cleaning up and organizing. He remembers where every bit and piece goes and makes sure everything is in it’s place—all the blocks are accounted for, Ali’s babies end up back in her crib, his shoes goes in the organizer in his closet, his empty cup goes in the sink, an old sticker or bandaid goes in the trash can, his backpack is hung on it’s hook. Yesterday I was scrambling to get both kids ready and out the door on time. He helped me out by feeding Lucy, picking out and putting on his own shoes (wrong feet but good enough!), picking out Ali’s shoes and putting Lucy in her crate when it was time to go. Gosh, I’m going to miss that! I guess I need to do better about giving Ali chores. If he was with us longer, I think I would start making specific chores for Buzz to do everyday to earn rewards – he really seems to flourish there and is so proud of himself when he’s accomplished a task I’ve asked him to do.
I could tell he had grown a lot since he’s been at our house because pants and shorts that were loose now fit snugly. I weighed him the other day and not surprised to see that he had gained 3 lbs. in 3 months! He’s a tall and thin little guy. He’s also grown 2-3″ taller. Is that possible?! He’ll be 3 years old next month and he’s been wearing 4T clothes (3T bottoms when he arrived but now they’re all getting too tight, and pants are definitely too short) and size 9 or 10 shoes depending on the style. He’s pretty clumsy…falling, tripping, running into stationary objects and other kids…which is probably due to how fast his body is growing. At the same time, he’s very athletic. He’s got a great arm for throwing balls and is great at riding on the balance bike we’re borrowing from a friend. He runs fast and is a great climber.
1 Comment | Family, Family: Buzz, Family: Foster Parenting | Tagged: buzz, foster care, growth, reflection, the end | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt