Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cindy's Wedding

Steve's parents are now officially empty-nesters. The last of Steve's siblings got married. Congratulations Cindy and Justin!

(Of course, our girls are thrilled to have a new uncle.)

The girls were counting down the days until they could wear their pretty dresses, except Sierra, who would have preferred wearing a tie like Dad.

Monday, June 29, 2009

To Throw a Tooth...or Money

Lilly lost 2 teeth in 3 days. She told us in Ghana, they throw the tooth on the roof. We told her in America, the Tooth Fairy comes and takes the tooth and leaves money in its place. Any guess which she wanted to do? ....SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!
She didn't understand what in the heck the Tooth Fairy wanted her teeth for. Madison told her that she builds tooth castles with them. She seemed OK with that. (Doesn't she look adorable with her "long, flowing" braids? She loves them!!!)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Congratulations Madi!!!

I have to be a mom and brag a bit about Madison. She scored in the top 10% nationally on the Iowa Tests in Math, Science and Total Composition. She is such a good student and loves learning. She never needs me to tell her to do her homework....she just does it on her own. She is very self-motivated and driven to learn.

She also just made a competition soccer team. She has been playing recreational soccer since she was 4 and just loves it. We are happy for her. She will get better coaching on a comp team and I think she will really be able to improve her skills. The competition league held a soccer clinic where the coaches could watch the girls who were interested in the team run through some drills, then the team coach attended one of Madi's rec games to watch her play. He said he liked what he saw and wants her on his team. Practices start in July.

Congratulations Madi! We are proud of your accomplishments!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Fun Trip One

For summer vacation this year, we are not going anywhere big or expensive. We have decided to take little day trips here or there each week to keep costs down.

So our first summer trip was riding a train. (Sorry...no pictures....the camera was left in the car.)

We drove to Salt Lake, parked our car and bought a group pass on the Frontrunner commuter train to Ogden ($10 for me, my four children, plus a friend for Madi.) We got off in Ogden with the intent of touring the free Disney Train (promoting the new movie "A Christmas Carol"). When we arrived, we learned it was a 2 to 3 hour wait to tour the train, so we decided to have lunch in Ogden and go back to Salt Lake.

When we returned in Salt Lake, we played in the fountains at Gateway. The kids had so much fun in the water. Here is a picture of Madison and her cousin at the fountains from our trip there last summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ghana in Our Home

I thought it was important to have some items from Ghana in our home. Here are the items I bought in Ghana to display.
Beautiful hand-made beads.
These dolls all are carrying a baby on their back. Women in Ghana sell things on the streets and usually carry their goods on their head.
This doll also has a baby on her back. Each of my girls have one wearing a different color of dress.
Cloth nativity set.
This nativity is carved out of a common wood in Ghana, although I don't remember the name of the wood.

A special thanks to Kathy who helped me in my shopping! She did such a great job. I especially LOVE the beads she picked out for me to make bracelets with!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stealing with a Kiss

Savannah is our girlie girl. She loves dressing up, looking pretty, and is a little princess. Often when she sees me wearing lipstick, she steals it from my lips by kissing me.

Sunday at church, she was sitting on my lap and gave me a big kiss and stole my lipstick. She immediately showed Lilly that she was now wearing mom's lipstick. She asked Lilly, "Do you want some lipstick too?" Lilly said yes. I thought Savannah would direct her to my lips, but instead Savannah planted a big kiss on Lilly and shared her stolen lipstick with her sister.

Aawww....the adjustment is going so much better....no more worries about germ sharing.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Adjusting and Bonding

I have really meant to make a blog entry about adjusting and bonding, but just haven't gotten around to it. Partly that is because I am still adjusting and it seems like I always have more laundry to do and more house to clean and more taxi driving to do to get the kids here and there. And then the other reason I haven't done it is because it was a bit discouraging....at first.

When we first brought Lilly home, as I said before, she and Madi really hit it off. That lasted for several days, then Madi would say, "Does Lilly have to follow me around everywhere?" "Can't I play with my friend without Lilly coming too?" Honeymoon over.

That being said, Madison and Lilly still get along well, meaning no fighting, playing well together, and enjoying sharing a room together. Lilly always wants to share the same bed with Madison too. I think she was used to sleeping close to someone all the time. She doesn't like to be in her own bed alone. And she is a bit afraid of the dark which surprises me since it is SO dark in Africa at night with no electricity or flashlights.

The adjustment to having a new body in the house was the hardest on the twins which took me by surprise. I should have expected it and should have done some more reading and talking with others who didn't follow birth order in their adoptions. I thought since they were twins and had each other, they wouldn't feel as threatened by a new sister who is older and bigger than they are. Boy was I WRONG.

They were very jealous of the attention she received. They were pretty mean to her sometimes. They always had something to criticize her about. They were ruthless. As a parent, this was very difficult because we wanted Lilly to feel a part of our family. We wanted her to feel welcome and loved. After a few days, Lilly said she liked everything about America except her 2 younger sisters. There was always fighting. Biting. Hitting. I wondered "What have we done?" We tried time-outs, taking away privileges, etc., but that only seemed to make things worse because now Sierra and Savannah thought they were always in trouble because their new sister kept telling on them.

Sierra and Savannah were afraid that they would get Lilly's germs if they touched her. Steve kept encouraging the girls to play together and we played all kinds of games that included physical touch. Games like ring-around-the-rosies, duck duck goose, etc. This seemed to work and we started to see some progress.

Steve took 2 weeks off work (paternity leave...we love the company he works for!) and we did some fun things as a family. We thought it was important to do some activities that would create memories that included Lilly. We went to the Children's Museum. We went to the Zoo. We went to an indoor amusement park. We went on an Easter egg hunt and met the Easter Bunny. We had picnics together and other fun things. One day, we decided to stay home for the day and do some catching up on cleaning and organizing the children's bedrooms since we had just moved them all around. Part way through the day Lilly said, "Dad, I want to ride a roller coaster." We laughed at this and thought we had probably misled her about life in America. I think she came to expect these major family fun days everyday.

Now speaking as a mother, it was really different for me to bond with a 5 year old than it was to bond with a baby. When we adopted our other 3 children, they were infants. I bonded with Madison very naturally and I would say instantly. It took a little longer to bond with the twins because they were preemies and in the hospital for a month. Then when they were home, I was not getting much sleep and still so worried about them. We had already lost a son who was born prematurely and I think I was afraid of bonding with them and then losing them too. But it still only took a few weeks caring for them to bond with them. With an infant, I was always holding them, kissing them, feeding them, caring for them in every way. With a 5 year old, it is different. She is very independent and doesn't want me to help her bathe, dress, eat, etc. She is not used to physical affection...hugging, kissing, being held. I don't think it has been a part of her life up until now. She is warming up to the idea of a hug and a bedtime kiss, but it was weird for her at first.

Lilly has been here now for two and a half months and things are SO much better. Madison still gets along well with her. Lilly has learned to give her some space when her friends come. Sierra and Savannah like having her as their sister now. They still fight sometimes, but more like sisters than enemies :). I see them standing up for each other now. Sometimes Sierra will side with Lilly instead of always take Savannah's side and vice-versa. Sometimes they play really well as a threesome. Now I say, "Look what we've done instead of What have we done." We have created a family. I can't imagine our lives without Lilly a part of it. We know she was meant to join our family and the trial of adjusting has been worth it.