Friday, November 27, 2009

Snippets for the day

I am enjoying reading the things given to us by Project Enlightenment. We just have a class overview on positive discipline, a couple kids book, and a parenting book I'd heard nice things about, as well as a few handouts. I swear, it's making me look at parenting (and discipline and even Paxton himself) in a whole different light. Suddenly things seem so much more manageable, and so much simpler and easier to handle. It's hard to be told by friends or family to let some things go, especially when your kid is acting up so much. But to actually read something that pretty much describes your kid AND your parenting style and gives tips on what would help, and then to actually see them work... yeah, we're feeling pretty good about this.
I'm so in love with Ambrose. OMG. So in love. So in love with Paxton as well, of course, but I've been in love with him for awhile now and this love for Ambrose is new. I'm such a lucky person!
Thanksgiving was fun, though we were like 2 hours late to dinner!
Growth spurt is over!!! Ambrose is now going 3 hours between meals. I'd tried this before and it didn't work, but tried it again (for a 3rd time I think) and it's working now. Also he's sleeping like a fiend right now! Seriously back to where he was when he first came home, 6 hours of sleep to 2 hours of awake time, with only 3 real awake periods a day! Unfortunately, they seem to happen at night... Such is the way of the young ones in this household!
Diapers! I love diapers! Nice, soft, pretty cloth diapers! Today our second batch of used Bum Genius One Sizes are being shipped out! Or Monday, I suppose, but hopefully today! And I just contacted a woman about some fitteds I really like (I have 3) and a cover I really want (I have one but her's has frogs on it). I know, I'm weird! But we have yet to put a disposable on Ambrose and I'm quite proud of it.
Carriers! Like cloth diapers, they're an addiction. Today I hacked up a T-shirt to make a carrier but it was too big :( I need to find one that's tight on me. If it weren't Black Friday I would've gone out looking for one today with the boys just to get out.
Nik is coming home in an hour. Yay! More video game! And maybe a shower for me!
Ambrose hasn't poo'd in forever. I feel bad for him, but apparently that's normal. So okay. Maybe I should stop giving him prune juice since it doesn't seem to be doing anything for him anyway.
On that note... seriously with breastfeeding you can go up to 2-3 weeks with no poops and that's normal? So why are there so many people formula feeding when they had a decent supply and weren't working? I mean... almost no poop! And it doesn't even smell bad when it comes out! How can that possibly look unattractive?
I'm better about putting away laundry now than I was pre-Ambrose. That's... weird.
Sleeeeep! I'm getting more of it! And also reading at night and sometimes during the day and it makes my brain feel less dumb! And also coffee is still nice! Yay!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Little snippets

Dropped off Paxton's preschool registration today. He'll be in the Monkey class. Makes me think of all those debates on forums about the term "monkey" and whether or not it's as bad as the N word. Either way, it's a small and diverse group that has a lot of fun and is used to children with all different sorts of needs and backgrounds. We both can't wait for January
Ambrose has a runny nose. As does Paxton but his doesn't scare me as much. At least all nose goo has so far been clear. Also, he's still wicked cute, even when he does sneeze out boogers.
Paxton has decided that I'm Dora and that's what he calls me. It's somewhat weird.
Last night Nik informed me that he hopes to be placed with baby #3 within the next 2 years. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Though... I think I'd like to at least be in process in 2 years. Still waiting to see whether Viet Nam reopens adoptions to the US :)
Have come to the realization that if our last child comes to us as an infant by the time I'm 32 then when I'm 50 that youngest child will be 18. Hmmmm.... So only 5 more years... Can I squeeze in another 2 or 3?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Total Heaven

No idea what's happened but lately P's been easier, in my own opinion. Or maybe I've just been less susceptible to my own potential PTSD? The lovely woman we're working with at Project Enlightenment was able to catch on to me and pointed out that I myself have some PTSD from that first year with Paxton when things were so rough and I felt so isolated and frustrated and alone. So essentially the second he starts to act like that again at all, even if it's perfectly normal for his age and situation, I kinda freak out and get way too upset about it. Good to know, and good to have a professional calmly agree that that's what it is. Makes me feel a little less crazy :)

My sister came down to visit with her kids and it was great. Just wish I could've had more free time or stayed awake longer! Last week was the busiest week we've had in a loooooong time. P turned 4, FOUR!!!, on Tuesday, Weds we toured P's new preschool and he didn't want to leave, then Thurs I took A to his first library storytime, then met up with family that afternoon. Friday P went to soccer practice (he behaves so well there! And loves it so much!) then the doctors in the afternoon. I had trouble not crying when they gave him his flu boosters. He kept asking me to keep them from giving him shots. No amount of reasonable talk (ie, this will keep you and hopefully your brother from getting very sick) can make it okay for a 4 year old. They just had to do it and then he was sobbing and in my arms. He was fine a minute later. I still want to cry thinking about it.

Saturday morning I hung out with my sister for a bit, with Ambrosey of course :) That night was ACH's Christmas Party and P was in heaven with Santa. Our family doesn't technically "do" Santa but hey, he believes Dora the Explorer is real too so I'm not bugged that he thinks Santa is real. I just won't push it on him as he grows (also we want him to know who the gifts are from). We got to see A's respite provider, Ginni, as well as the woman who helped bring the milk to her house. They both held him and took pictures and loved on him. All in all a very pleasant evening. And oh, the cute babies galore! I just wish more families had come :)

Sunday we just hung out here and set up for the party once P was down for a nap. My mom, Sarah and Brenna came over to help out. Before the party I took Sarah, Brenna and Paxton to the park for 20 minutes. I wish we'd had long enough to walk there since it is a nice walk. About 15 minutes with P in a stroller (been put away for a loooong time) and about 30 minutes with P walking! Only like 2 minutes in a car, though. The party was small, but nice. Just us, my parents, sister and her kids, uncle and aunt, and my grandparents. My mother provided a huge spread of food that was hardly touched, we had a store bought cake (we were going to bake one but Paxton was insistent that we get one at the store since they already have them made. And he likes saying Harris Teeter). A few presents, which is enough for him to be occupied for at least a week. Plans for a big party next year.

Sunday night we went out for Ethiopian food which I'm proud to say my "all white food" niece actually ate and enjoyed. It was too much food but it was gooooooood! Then we had to say goodbye :( Sarah and Brenna cuddled Ambrose one last time, we all hugged, P said his thanks and goodbyes and we went home. *Sigh*. Guess I'll have to get up there sometime to see them.

Yesterday was great. I mean, it was rainy, icky, cold day but it was pleasant and productive. We returned the pump, I did laundry, dishes and grocery shopping and got that all put away, made a real dinner, got Ambrose to sleep for a nap without me holding him for like the 3rd time ever and got a nice long shower and got to blowdry my hair, read some more Jack of Fables (reading relaxes me if it's fun) and just generally had a great day. And Paxton has been nice. Still impulsive, still jumpy and jittery (the "wiggles" are new to him) and still only half listening about unimportant stuff. But for the second time ever (in a row no less) he walked beside me for grocery shopping and I didn't have to put him in the cart, and he wasn't in a truly sour or angry attitude.

So... all's well in Paxton land right now. Neither of us can wait for him to start 5, FIVE!!!, day a week preschool in January. We were going to do 3 day but decided, with P.E., that he really needs consistency as much as possible. So Monday through Friday it is. 9:15-12:15. I'm... actually looking forward to it a lot. And so's he. I get alone time with A when he's just starting to get more mobile and interactive (he'll be just 3 months then) and P gets his own special big kid time with like 10 other kids and 2 teachers. They're used to working with P.E., used to kids with special needs (though I'd say P is "higher needs") and even used to international refugee children, i.e. kids that came from a traumatic experience in another country. And they come greatly recommended, and after seeing their program... I'm excited. I think it'll really help P take that next leap into growing up emotionally. I think that's where we're lagging by keeping him at home. He needed help to grow physically and we did it (he came home barely walking at age 2). And he needed help to grow mentally and I worked with him a lot, though he caught up fast. And he needed help feeling secure and help curbing violence and help just growing until he could handle the outside world. And he grew and he grew and now... he needs something else to continue his growth. So every day mommy will drop him off for 2 hours of mostly playing with some structure, with a program that's small and educated and consistent and patient, and hopefully that'll take him the next bit. I feel sad but I agree: this is what's best. And I'm happy and excited for him. He asks every day if he can go to school now! I can't wait :)

Also, a quick note on Ambrose. We're just over a week into the 6 week growth spurt and I think it's starting to subside. Still not much sleep at night for me, but he's bigger (everyone is noticing now) and stronger (oh man can he hold that head up!) and in the past 24 hours he's been sooooo smiley! Even saying "hi smiley!" earns you a huge, total face smile! I think I'm finally where I was with P: loving him more and more and more every day. I did that with P for like a month or two and it always surprised me every day how much I loved him more. It was like, after the shock wore off my heart just started growing and growing and growing and I just loved him more and more. Same with A. Every day I look at my boys and wonder "how is it possible to love them more today than yesterday? Is it even possible to love them even more tomorrow?" I just love my guys :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Feeling yucky...

In more ways than one.

I really, really, badly need a shower. My hair and face are oily and it's been 2 days. The baby peed all over me this morning and I only had time to change, not wash, and then there's spit up... And I'm just tired and could really, really use a refreshing shower to wash away the gunk, external and internal.

Pax's violence has resurfaced.

And I have no idea what to do about it.

You know what worked to curb it last time? Hitting back. No, I'm serious. We tried so, so much but finally it came down to "if you hit me, I will hit your hand right back." And parenting expert snobs be damned, it worked. But I'm not exactly a fan of that and I'd like to never walk that path again, thank you very much, even if it makes me equally snobby. I'd prefer to use words with my big boy, and visuals and calming actions or even redirection.

But I'm just so damn head-tired.

I can't handle another year like that one we experienced with P, where he was constantly, CONSTANTLY beating on me. And no one would listen...

Nik would go to work and P'd be kicking my legs and if I picked him up (one can only resist for so long) he'd be puching my eyes and neck, head butting me all over, biting my nose and trying to rip it off, scratching and pinching and, well... you get the picture. I even remember one day when I just couldn't take it anymore and I was just balled up in a corner crying my eyes out while he beat me as hard and as fiercely as he could over my head, neck and shoulders.

And yes I get that he was very small and I was very big and I should just "be the parent" and magically make it stop.

And I did.

By hitting back.

Granted, with warning, rather sparsely and much lighter than he hit me.

And it stopped and it's been stopped for a looooooooong time now.

At this point we thought it was over.

And granted... it may be, in a sense. The reasons he was hitting the first time (orphanage behavior, terrible two's, adjustment) are behind us. And many 4 year olds hit and many new big brothers regress, and really it's not even close to constant, just a few small sporadic moments that end with "I'm sorry" and kisses and "I love you very much" and a promise to not do it again after going over what hands are really for.

But I'm scared.

I hate to admit it but I'm damn near petrified.

And this is the reason I don't think we'll ever follow through with that dream of adopting more older children. I'm a wuss and I freely admit it. But while what he's doing now can be classified as "actually pretty normal" it reminds me too much of that year of hardship that we journeyed alone.

And I'm scared, for him and for me and for other kids because what if this isn't just a temporary regression? And what if it continues and I can't find another way to stem it off besides physical discipline?

I just have to keep repeating to myself "we've come so far" and "this too shall pass" but somedays....

Somedays I just need a break, dammit.

Or a shower.

Yeah, a shower would be great right about now (and since I missed my chance this morning it looks like I might have to wait until tomorrow morning...)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Soccer practice...

Is so much fun! I wish we'd tried it ages ago! I'm just cheap and Raleigh is full of free stuff for kids :) It's like $80 for 6 sessions but just to see P actually listening and interacting and following 90% of the directions and coming out of it with such a huge, proud smile on his face... It's just awesome :) And he might not be a perfect angel and the coach might spend a little more time reminding him what he's supposed to be doing, but he's behaving so much better for him than at Sunday School. Here's hoping that this is an indication of how preschool will go... (though he did do some more pushing today, not pushing down just pushing away from his ball/him to get space, so we'll need to work on that).

Quickish update

You know you're a ditz when your baby is doing his "but why aren't you feeding me NOW?" cry and you tell him "now, Ambrose, I'm going to feed you at 9:15 and it's only 9:15 so you still have.... ohhhh, waaaaait..." I really should learn to listen to my baby :)

Just gotta make sure he's full up before we leave for soccer practice! Today will be P's second session in a 6 session thingiemabob. It was so fun to see him last time. The coach was very engaging so for the most part P listened and had a lot of fun. While it's always hard to see him standing out from the crowd (ie, 8 kids sitting in a circle listening and P running around screaming "never!" when the coach asks him to sit too) it was very fun to see him having fun and then actually joining in and participating. Hopefully socialization will help him. I think what we're realizing now, with the help of Project Enlightenment and materials they've loaned us, is that he's not as bad as he used to be, and not as bad as we thought. He'd probably improve considerably through constant socialization with groups. Right now he's typically great one-on-one (like, total angel great) and for the most part he's good with me. But he does not handle transitions well and he does not handle crowds well, and these are two things that preschool will help with. So, as much as I hate "giving up" on the homeschooling thing (at least for now) we're going to be touring preschools starting with choice #1 next Weds. I'm so nervous! But after seeing the difference between P at Sunday School (very disruptive with a non-engaging activity) and soccer practice (semi-disruptive with a very engaging activity) I think an engaging preschool might actually help to "cure" the problem. That an ongoing help from P.E. They're so nice! And they notice EVERYTHING and help by pointing out the little things we say/do with P and how we can modify them for best results. And not in a snooty way! I swear, they're real professionals, they actually know how to talk to parents. I didn't expect upon using their services that they'd be aiding the whole family dynamic but that's their specialty. The world needs more people like them. I already feel like a better and more effective mom to P!

Also, thanks to their advice, I'm much better rested and thus having more fun with both boys. I love enjoying my kids. Honestly sometimes I think our biggest problem with P is that we USED to have a ton of problems and now the second he starts acting moody at all, even if it's normal 4 year old moodiness, we instantly see issues and it's just sooooo overwhelming. I told Nik it's like years ago when I climbed the steps to Sacre Coeur in Paris. The top looked so beautiful and unlike my companions I didn't want to ride to the top, I wanted to walk it, I wanted that experience. And it sucked. You can't tell how many stairs are left and you get to a plateau, walk a bit, and find even more stairs waiting for you. Over and over again! I felt physically nauseauted about 2/3 of the way up and wanted to give up, but couldn't. Would I just go right back down? But I'd come so far!!! So I continued and eventually made it to the top, and really, I was kind of proud of myself even if it was rough.

That's what it's like raising a traumatised child. We're so, so close to the top, so close that at this point he's just like any other kid that isn't used to being in a group setting. We somehow made it far enough that he's no longer this totally angry being who responds with violence and terror. Only sometimes, when things really set him off, and even then we have a lot of warning (and should've seen the signs Sunday). Instead we now have a little boy with a bit further to go, just another flight or two of stairs. And I'll admit to exhaustion at the thought and even a touch of nausea when we think we're almost there and notice yet another flight of steps coming into view. But we're close. And we've come so, so, so far.

And I love him :) And he loves us. And that helps tremendously.

Now let's just pray he doesn't tackle anyone at soccer practice today... see last week he wanted to sit on the blue circle but another kid got their first and after using his words to get the kid off he decided to take the more direct approach and, well... let's just say mommy was embarassed but the other kid (and his mom) didn't care. We're going to have to work on that too...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Smart, smart mommy (not)

On Saturday I asked Nik to take P to have his hair cut at the barbers before having their daddy-son day together. I really can't care for it on a daily basis like I could and at that point it was just screaming "mommy's a white girl," if you know what I mean. Poor thing looked awful with unmoisturized, uncaredfor hair and I just wanted it shaved down and manageable, at least for the time being until we get into a groove (and the baby lets me put him down).

Apparently it was quite traumatic, but I wasn't there and didn't take it seriously. I know he's shrieked the other times we did it too and figured it wasn't too big a deal.

Then yesterday, at church, he had an outright panic meltdown. I haven't seen him that bad in months. Nik says 2 months for him, I'd say 6 months for me. He totally flipped. We're talking hitting, biting, shrieking and blood curdling screams at the top of his lungs. After trying to calm him I took the baby into the hall while Nik held him in the library. I was barely holding it together and people kept coming by wondering what was up with the screams...

We finally had to take him home like that and Nik held him for another half hour until it passed. He was still "off" in the afternoon, but much better than he'd been all morning.

I was shocked and scared and upset and just so, so tired.

And then I used what few braincells I have active right now, trying to think about the trigger.

Nik told me it was the barber shop. That was the big difference. I didn't listen at first, but then...

When we got his referral photo over 2 years ago he had a mohawk. The Sidama mohawk. Nice and cleanly shaved around the sides. He'd been cleanly shaved when he arrived at the orphanage. He'd been cleanly shaved right before leaving his first family. OMG, I'm an idiot.

But an idiot with a bit more insight.

And he's happier today. And his hair looks so nice!

(on another note, must buy my own razer. He doesn't freak out when we trim him at home)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Things are going a bit better around here...

So we had our first meeting with Project Enlightenment, and will be going back next week. The things we gleaned from it:
-Need to work on discipline methods a bit
-Need to work more on getting P to stay in bed longer (he's so much better with more sleep...)
-I need more sleep, and that was like point #1 actually, so I've started to get Nik up at night to take Mr. Awake for an hour and bring him back to bed to nurse and conk out. Gets me an extra hour's sleep, moreso really since I don't have to get out of bed at 3am for anything more than a diaper change. I'm also going to bed at like 9:30 or earlier.
-We're going to put P in preschool. I'm a little weepy over that one. Going to tour a couple that are close to us and have openings next week.
-Need to micromanage him a bit more.
-Need to actually get breaks from him so we're (mostly I'm) not worn down since we can't be very effective if we're too tired to deal with things.

I think the big thing at this point is socialization and also us figuring out what's an issue and what's totally normal. We're going to have a screening with him done by a professional and we're meeting with them again, this time with Paxton present, just so they get a better idea of everything.

I actually felt kinda good when we talked about his history and what our first year together was like and they asked "how on Earth did you survive that?" Paxton now? Manageable but disruptive of group activities, sometimes disrespectful of adults and a bit impulsive. Paxton then? Holy terror who we loved endlessly but who we struggled to get through the day living with. I'd much rather take Pax now to Pax then. Even so, if we can help solve the issues at hand that'll be great.

It's also nice to review materials and speak with people and find out that while he used to be a very, very difficult kid with rough issues, he's now a slightly difficult kid with some issues that will likely go away pretty easily. I'm definitely feeling a lot better.

Also, they have an incredible library there and we were able to find Parenting with Love and Logic just sitting there. I just started reading it. Looks like we might be drill seargent parents. Oy. Never expected that one, didn't start off that way either, but at this point we're so used to stepping in and stopping him from doing any harm at all. Something we gravitated toward during that tough first year, I suppose, and now we'll need to retrain ourselves.

So the whole family is going in for a retraining.

I feel... odd using government services and asking them to take part in our family life.

I also feel so, so much better. I think even with more sleep and a more relaxed attitude (and feeling totally validated) I'm able to handle Paxton a little better. He's been better for me. Still can be a total butt though...


Paxton started Soccer today. It's like $67 for the next 5 sessions (one a week) but he just had sooooo much fun at today's trial practice... It was great to watch him start off being a total pain in the butt (leaving the circle and screaming "neeveeeer!" when the coach asked him to rejoin) to actually listening and becoming totally engaged in the practice. At the end he semi-tackled (pulled?) another kid in a fight for the blue spot (as opposed to the orange spot, where Paxton was supposed to sit) but all apologies were made and everyone was cool with it. P left hopping up and down and telling me "Yay! I had a lot of fun!!!"


Took Ambrose in for his 1 month check up. He's roughly 75th percentile for everything! They tell me he's thriving, and noted how strong and alert he is, much more than they're used to with similarly aged babies. Looks like we have a healthy boy on our hands :)

They tried to redo the PKU test since last time they attempted twice (and he clotted quickly) and the result was insufficient. They tried and tried and finally gave up today. Said it was just inhumane. You just can't get blood out of this kid!

He's 22 inches and 10lb 2.5 oz


Tomorrow is Saturday, Tomorrow is Saturday! I get to sleep in during A's mid-late morning nap! And Nik and P get to have fun at Marbles! And they get to eat at Roly Poly and bring home lunch for me! And then? And then and then and then??? DAAAAAAATE! Totally putting P in bed then thawing a bottle for A, putting some of our brand spanking used (bought of CL) BumGenius out for Gambi, and going out for dinner, just the two of us! Yaaaaay! Then home for bed :) Haha!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Life is hard sometimes...

Despite the joyousness of being a family of 4, we're really struggling with P lately. Trying to get help from available resources. He's tough, tougher than most kids. Not the hardest child I've ever come into contact with, but still rough. And today I'm just feeling overwhelmed and alone.

It's all so situational. In some situations he's a "normal kid." We even get compliments on his demeanor. In others, he's a royal terror. I know that fear seems to drive most of it, if not all of it. But he won't admit when he's scared. And I'm just so tired of my own hypervigilence watching him, my own micromanaging.

Hopefully we'll be receiving help soon. It's not awful, he's not awful, but this behavior needs to stop, like, yesterday.

At least he's an awesome big brother. Above and beyond all else P loves A and will stop everything to take care of him.