How's it going?
(Do they want the truth?) "I mean, yeah, overall it's going well...there have been moments...I mean it's hard...but we're all in transition...but it's been pretty easy, I mean...once you've parented a kid, what's a few more, right?" I find myself stammering around trying to figure out if the people want the long answer or the short one!
So in an effort to answer the question (mostly for myself to remember!), I thought I'd write a blog post about it. Then, I can think it through and answer as honestly as possible...
First things first. I have found a blog name for the 2 boys - Bert and Ernie! Bert is the older one; he is much more shy and quiet. Ernie doesn't know the meaning of the word quiet =) He has no fear, compared to Bert, who at times can be anxious about things, like the kiddie pool. Bert watches and learns, is quick to give his food, his toy, his anything! really to help his brother's perceived sense of injustice. Ernie is bold, vocal and strong! He doesn't let his age, size or circumstances limit him. They seem so different, yet at the end of the day, both just want to be held and loved.
So - it is going well. It's been 9 days since they have arrived and there has been a high level of activity in those days. They started school! Bert is in the 1st grade, while Ernie is doing half days of junior kindergarten 4 days a week. Every day (every...day...) Ernie cries when we drop the others off at school...but one of the days we went open gymnastics family time and wow, did we have fun! Both boys are great sleepers - but we've made sure there is lots of physical activity in our days, lots of gross motor stuff so that helps. It's nice we can all go for big hikes in the woods, go to the Y or just spread out in our house. We are 'remembering' what it's like to have kids younger than our own though - as parents, we have to kind of go through a re-entry - this is how we make potty pit stops to avoid accidents, this is how we provide snacks between meals so no one gets hangry and aggressive, this is how we look for signs of exhaustion (rubbing eyes, falling asleep on Moses 1 minute into Bible time, etc)...oh the things we re-learn now that there are 'littles' in the house again! There are plenty of sibling spats, of course, but there are some really amazing things happening too. I have to brag on my big kids - one day we had a particularly long time in the truck. Ernie was just 'done' and 'over it', getting a little stir crazy. At one of the pit stops, Moses moved up a row next to Ernie and was working on comforting him. We were all relieved and grateful it worked!! The next night, Bert really did not want to leave the Y - he was quite grumpy and for the first time we saw real tears from him. (They were quiet tears, but they were there!) After tucking the littles into bed, Dave texted me to say that on the ride home, Ernie started singing and comforting his big brother Bert. "Jesus loves me this I know..." Dave said he had tears rolling down his face! I made sure to let Moses know that his action of comforting someone was not only noticed, but followed!! The littles want so badly to be like the bigs, not just in the fun or silly ways, but in the way they treat others too!! It was a powerful moment to see my 10yo realize this and make the connection. He has been so helpful to buckle people in or tie their shoes...Sometimes sharing things like toys or your parents can be hard, but Colleen is constantly sharing her stuff. Her and Ernie are often playing My Little Pony together and she is quick to make sure everyone has a car or something so that no one is left out. When Ernie got a free lanyard from the Y for his ID card, Colleen started to bemoan the fact that she did not get one when she was 'new'. "Here, you can have it!" Ernie put it around her neck and this momma danced for joy! I reminded everyone that this 'makes my heart big' to see and hear them loving on each other this way! Colleen shares her things and the others have taken note and do the same!
Please don't think it's all roses and rainbows...there have been episodes of yelling and shoving and such, but honestly? Those are short lived and each day that passes has seen these behaviors fall away. We are figuring out what works and what doesn't. We've made what feels like a million trips to the box store to be sure everyone has what they need (car seats? check! socks? check! a million boxes of cereal? check!) and the logistics of who goes where on what day is coming easier. Some things we still need to figure out - 1) Date nights. Dave and I did really good w/this a few years back, once a week we went out after bed time. GOD BLESS OUR BABYSITTER WHO LEFT US TO BE A MARINE!!! He was awesome. Then he left and his sister came a few times - she's awesome too! But then life got busy and we just sort of forgot to keep that going. Since we moved, we've gone out maybe 3 times, thanks to our pastor's daughter. She's a girl we hope to see more of! I'm not sure in this season of transition we are ready to do that again, yet we desperately need to carve out a few minutes w/o kids. All the trauma mamas and foster/adopt peoples are nodding their heads in agreement right now! 2) Going to just about any event where there is a crowd. So far we've been to 2 small events, a gymnastics meet and a small party at church. Both were acceptable to attend given that they had only one entrance/exit and we could see the kids at all times. I know we have time to figure this out, but despite having 4 hands and 4 kids, large crowds are just not do-able yet. Even going to grandma and grandpa's house would take a lot of advance planning and prayer at this point! We're enjoying the 'cocooning' time and just being us together at home, but spring break is coming! My teacher hubby is itching to get out of here and go someplace fun! 3) Car rides seem to end in a shout fest. Dinners go well b/c everyone takes turns telling mom about their day. In the car, there is always someone who wants music, someone who doesn't, someone who is convinced the other is breathing on them, someone who wants everyone to look out the window at that 'thing' they can't describe...AHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHHHHH!!! So far, everyone seems to like the country music station. I've tried the Disney station, general kid tunes, pop radio, etc...BUT! Long trips (and by long, I mean more than 20 mins!) are unavoidable at times, given our situation, so we do need to figure this out. Once, I managed to convince everyone to air drum, air guitar and air sing through 2 Led Zeppelin songs and hey, what do you know? It worked! (Ok, maybe it came out sounding like a demand, but when we were all laughing, no one seemed to care! Just being real here!)
How's it going? Is that more than you wanted to know? A lot of people (mostly casual acquaintances) hear me say it's going well and follow up by saying that we're doing something so good and nice...and then I stop them. It's me/us who are blessed. Our hearts are full and we are always growing and learning from our kids. The grace they give me and each other is something truly special. This road we have chosen to travel has bumps and very few road signs, but we are enjoying the journey and continue to press on toward the goal.
Oh blah, there was so much more I wanted to write about! But's it's after 8 and due to football and a new improved staggered bedtime for all, I forgot to eat dinner. We ate a late lunch and I wasn't hungry...but now I am...
All this to say, if you have been praying for us, keep it up! We have had a lot of answered prayers (which is a whole different post!) but we can always use more =) Thank you - it's going well...that's the short answer!