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Friday, February 27, 2009

Our Attachment Journey: Part 6- Not The End. Just The Beginning

Well, it's the end of my series but not the end of the journey. Today is all about the absolute joy we've found in Jonas. He is such a blessing!! We love him so much.

While it can be said that life takes a bit more effort these days it is also true that the rewards are tenfold. Everyday we're building up our relationship as a family. Each day brings with it victories and new joys. There's nothing more thrilling than seeing my son beam a smile at me and truly mean it. To have him rest his head on me and sigh in relaxation makes the world come to a halt in that moment. It brings me great joy to see how loving and nurturing his sisters are and how he enjoys them. And, the fun which only children can conjure up together fills my days to the brim with laughter.

As a student of all things my son (and daughters too) the more I get to know him (them) the more there is to love. He is letting me in bit by bit. Every time he gives an inch it's so rewarding. He is a remarkable child! Each new insight into his soul reveals God's amazing handy work. And, there's so much more to learn.

I wrote a long time ago, before I ever knew who Jonas was, that God had placed my Ethiopian baby in my heart so firmly that he was the only child I wanted. I would be persuaded to have no other despite the fact that I didn't even know who he was yet. That place in my heart was reserved by God for Jonas. Today Jonas is the child I want even more. He is who I love! I would NEVER, EVER trade a single moment.

I used to call my friends up and cry on the phone to them during the wait to bring Jonas home. I'd tell them I couldn't bear the distance between us anymore. That I was ready to move on and begin mothering him already- in real life. Well, my prayers have been answered. I remind myself of this when I'm roused from a deep sleep at 2 a.m. by my screaming baby. "This is the 'real' part you so desperately longed for!" Then, a smile creeps over my face and I thank God He never leaves me and that He's given me more than I could ever have dreamed in this beloved family of mine.

Our Attachment Journey: Part 5- Team Effort

Today I wanted to take time to highlight my husband.(I LOVE YOU DUSTIN!) I would be remiss not to acknowledge him at this point.

Dustin is doing his own work with Jonas to promote attachment and it's exciting watch him succeed. It's truly a team effort. While there are always tense moments to be had when we are working together to parent under such emotionally charged (and sleep deprived) circumstances we've really pulled together during this time.

One thing which has worked well for us is to have strategy sessions where we'll talk over what we're doing, analyze its effectiveness and work out a plan moving forward. We use the sessions to tell each other the little occurrences that may have been overlooked in the busyness of each other's day. I value our conversations because I've found clarity often comes to me by reexamining events after some time has passed. It's helps give me time to sort through the emotions and allows me to better ponder the behaviours themselves and what might me motivating them. Sometimes just recounting the details to him helps straighten out my thoughts. Because Jonas basically communicates to us non-verbally my husband's superior ability to read body language has helped me immensely. If I didn't have him to share his insights I'd be missing a lot!

One thing I've decided I am going to do is take some "me time" more regularly. I'm blocking out time on my calendar to spend alone or with friends. I'm also trying to make it easy for Dustin to have his time too, by suggesting he call a friend, etc. I know that I can help him to feel more free to go out by keeping his To Do List short and letting him know which things are a priority and which things I can wait for. Neither of us have ever been good about building relaxation into our schedule but at this point we need to learn to make it a priority. We have a lot of stress in our lives between our business and home. If we don't want to drain our reserves we need to recharge regularly.

Prioritizing fun/relaxation time is something I will really be working on moving forward. You can check back in a month or so to see how I'm doing with that. I'd love my readers to share their advice! Are you good at taking your own "me time?" How do you arrange your schedule to fit it in? In light of these economic times I'd enjoy hearing what you do to keep costs down for dates and de-stressing activities.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our Attachment Journey: Part 4- Little, Nagging Behaviours

It's now my rule that if something Jonas is doing doesn't sit well with me (from an attachment point of view) I will go with my gut. Especially where attachment is concerned. I've found it can be easy to dismiss some behaviours because they seem "little". I have to be honest and say that in all my reading about attachment before Jonas came home I focused on the more wild and overt behaviours (maybe that's naturally just the kind of stuff that really sticks with you as a PAP.) and didn't really spend time thinking about how attachment issues could play out in the "small" stuff. Since coming home, though, there have been many times I'd sense a warning flag pop up over things that seemed inconsequential at first. (Especially in the early days) These "little" behaviours nagged me though. They were things which wouldn't ordinarily be of much concern, but, (and this is a BIG but) all together the "little" things add up to more. Especially in adoption. These behaviours have to be addressed or attachment will not happen.

I'll give you examples of "little" behaviours that seemed easy to explain away, but first I just want take a second to tell you one thing. In order to keep the flow of this series in some sort of logical order I've stuck on topic so far. While I have been writing much lately about difficult things, things which might tempt others to view life with Jonas as being strictly what you read here I want you to know that it's not the case. I've chosen this topical format for easier consumption of the concepts I've been learning. Life, as we all know, isn't so linear. Needless to say I realize that this series is a little top heavy. So far, my posts have centered around stuff that doesn't always send waves of warm fuzzies up a persons' spine. I just wanted to take a moment to say there's so much more to the story and I can't wait to tell you. Just know I'm saving the best for last :-)

Okay, back to task. Those "little" behaviours:

Scan down the Infant Attachment Checklist and Additional Behaviours first. I'm just going to give quick examples of what these look like for us. I will be linking the behaviours to their coordinating description so you can gain more information. (So, you'll want to check those links out :-)

From the first we picked Jonas up in Addis Ababa he had a habit of batting at our faces. Not all the time and not necessarily when he was crying or fussy. Just random hard wacks. We thought maybe he just had poor muscle control. Even still, it didn't sit right with us. Looking back I can see that his batting at our faces was stress related and an attempt to create some distance between us. I am glad we chose to listen to our instincts and begin working on that right away. Haven't had trouble with that lately.

When my friend (who is an experienced adoptive mother) came over she noticed that Jonas never rested on me. He clung to me, hung from me, stood up on me, rolled over, flipped and then began the rotation all over again. She called it "wallerin" (Well, I'm originally from Chicago and I'll be honest and tell you I have not a clue what that means.) I called it baby style WWF wrestling. It was constant. He never sat still. At first I didn't think anything of it. I told myself it must just be 'boy behaviour' and that's why it was new to me. I sure didn't mind if he enjoyed being close to me. But my friend's notice of it made me take a closer look. It was a little of this and a little of this mixed together with a desire for physical contact.

I've kept it no secret that we've had issues with eating. Jonas has never met a bottle he couldn't polish off. No matter how much solid food he's horked down beforehand. He was obviously overeating. Bottle feeding was beginning to feel more like a barrier rather than an aid to our attachment. We wondered, would it help our hurt our cause if we took the bottle away? Would Jonas to rely on us for comfort in the bottle's absence? We risked him viewing us as unable or unwilling to meet his needs. It was a really tough call. I figured I'd test him out by deleting his usual pre-nap bottle. For two days he went down without a hint of resistance. This built my confidence up enough to attempt to put him down for the night without bottle feeding him first. I really thought I had it all figured out :-)

Do you want to know how well that worked? Well, I already told you in Part 2. That was the night he really let me have it. It was as if he was saying, "Hey lady! If you didn't get it before let me spell it out for you.... I'm. not. attaching. to. you. (yet.)

We've reinstated his bedtime bottle only. Just 4 ounces. Enough to fill up the tank but not enough for him to fall asleep while nursing. It's helpful because Jonas is still learning to be rocked to sleep in my arms. Jonas had a particular position he liked to be held in. He preferred to be sitting on my lap with his head on my chest but facing out. That was one of those "little" things that could be blown off without being educated about attachment disorders. It's a common posture for kids with attachment issues. He was controlling how things went down between us. If I tried to turn his head so that it was facing in towards my chest or switch him to the cradle hold he freaked. He displayed his dislike by swatting at me.

Each day both Dustin and I hold him in the cradle position, playing games and making him giggle, singing songs or just quietly stroking his face if he'll let us. A lot of times we are met with much resistance. It takes persistence to wait Jonas out until he's calm. It's hard but important work. Each day he shows some sign of improvement...... there's always something to encourage us. (No matter how small it may be.)

Also,( something I didn't notice until recently. Okay, well, it only occurred to me last night, truth be told) Jonas repetitively chatters when he's agitated and crying. Often times he'll do it when we are working on holding him in the cradle hold. It feels a lot like he's trying to create "white noise" to distract himself from what's happening.

Well, that's all I've got for now (Trust me, it feels like enough! Don't you think? haha). Does your child have any habits that raise a warning flag for you? What have you done about them? Have you seen progress? Any advice you like to share with me? If so, Please leave a comment.


P.S.- This post is personal but I am choosing to post anyway because I believe I benefited greatly from watching my friends observe their children, spot the issues and deal with them. I had to be taught how to think about attachment. I've said before that I am certainly no expert but I think I've been blessed to be able to come to certain honest conclusions about Jonas quickly because my friends taught me well. It takes a lot to send this kind of info out in the world in such a public way. I wouldn't do it if I didn't feel the Lord would use it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Attachment Journey: Part 3- Working It Through

In Part 2 I had gained some peace through prayer for our attachment journey but there was still the business of learning to start working with the wiggling mess of tears in my arms. How would I take lemons and turn them into lemonade? Clearly, on this particular night Jonas was locked in a cycle he couldn't get out of and it was new to me. He'd never reacted this strongly before. It was time to dig through my parenting toolbox and find the best tool for the job. My mind searched through catalogues of information I attempted to store there during the long wait for Jonas to come home. I landed on what you may have heard parenting books refer to as "redirection". I call it good, old fashioned distraction. I had read in some adoption resources about using mirrors as tools for attachment. Jonas and I had played in front of the mirror several times before and he enjoyed it. I figured it couldn't hurt to try it now.

I trotted down the hallway toward the full length mirror in my bedroom with a new plan of action. Off went Jonas' pajamas and mommy's shirt. Skin to skin (yup, read that in a book too), I embraced him in front of the mirror. At first Jonas wouldn't stop his screaming but with a little coaxing he began to wave "Selam" (hello) at himself. He just couldn't resist his own good looks and he was soon found giving himself flirting glances and smiles. Still, no desire to even look anywhere near the vicinity of my eyes. So I sat there with a persistent smile on my face (Which was no small feat, because, you haven't truly lived until you've had to sit your half-naked self in front of a mirror for an hour or so and stare at your tummy chub, ahem, amongst other things.... Try keeping a smile on your face then! ) while I continued to tempt him into playing his favorite games. Eventually he conceded to a game of peek-a-boo with himself in the mirror. It took several rounds of that before he'd play peek-a-boo with me through the mirror. I was gaining ground on him even if he immediately turned his head away from me after each"boo!" At lease I'd held his gaze through the mirror for a moment.

I continued my campaign for more eye contact by switching up my tactics. Now I began using encouraging words of affirmation. I said things like, "Look at that mommy. She loves Jonas so much. She's a good mommy. She's gonna take care of Jojo's needs." (Now, I'm not gonna lie. It felt a whole lot like brainwashing even though I knew better.) "Jonas is a lovely boy. You are worthy of love because God says so." And on and on. Every time he smiled I called him my happy boy. By now he was responding when I called his name and would shift his eyes to me.

I cajoled him into playing more games with me. Eskimo kisses, butterfly kisses, tummy tickles. He softened more every time. Towards the end he began laying his head against my chest and smiling at himself in the mirror. Truthfully though, I wasn't sure whether it was because he was enjoying a snuggle or because his head felt too heavy to hold up anymore. After he had been thoroughly exhausted I held him while he drifted off to sleep. He still wanted his head turned out from my body. I resolved not to require too much from him. He had acquiesced to my pleas to draw near to him. It wouldn't be wise to push the point tonight.

By the end of the evening I was both energized and a little bit scared. Energized because I had done it- I managed to work through some of his detachment. Every little bit counts and I knew that over time these little victories would end up winning the war. Scared because there's no way to know how long he'll put up a fight. I had to pray again to ask God to sustain me for the long haul because the thought of weeks, months, years possibly of this kind of work seemed daunting.

Next time I'll share a bit about some of the behaviours I've come to recognize Jonas throw up as barriers to our attachment and the tactics were trying to use to combat them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Attachment Journey- Part 2 Pain and Prayer

In Part 1 of Our Attachment Journey I told you about my motivation to share about the process we're working through as new adoptive parents. I'd like to add that I am not a professional and am not proclaiming to have all the answers. I am simply a mom working to make connections (largely through trial and error. Emphasis on error) with a son who's been home less than two months. If you, the reader, can look in on our process and begin to think about how you might handle things- if your creative juices start flowing, if you feel inspired to come up with a game plan to fortify your heart for the potential trials that lay ahead of you- then, I would be blessed to have played a small role it that endeavor. If not, feel free to click past me on to some other blog more worthy of your time. Please, just don't judge or criticize me.

With that being said, let me pick up where I left off.

(What's that? You say you've forgotten already. Well let me remind you....)

We begin with my screaming infant. (It's all coming back now, isn't it.)

I held my child in the cradle position while he pushed my body away, arched his back and flailed his head wildly. We had enjoyed a nice day together- as we often do- filled with peek-a-boo games, giggles..... kisses even. It was good. Felt like progress. I rocked him to sleep at bedtime and he went down without a fuss. But, he awoke just under an hour after he had gone to bed for the night screaming and inconsolable. I found my voice trembling as I attempted to convince my son to look at me. I wept when he did everything in his small (yet mighty) power to avoid looking at my face. He spiraled deeper and deeper into his angry pain. Nothing I tried would convince him to let me share in the moment with him. I longed to help him keep his head above water. To keep him from slipping under the surface of solitude in his suffering. In that moment the magnitude of the pain and sorrow my little boy was battling against washed over me. I grieved for him. Deeply.

Then, I grieved for myself. It had to be done. I wasn't above it. I don't think anyone is. I mean, there's nothing like an enraged infant's extreme distaste for anything, well... you to make you feel like an impostor. Or child molester. Take your pick. It felt like the bench-warmer who finally got his chance to make a winning play only to fumble it all away. But I couldn't tarry there. I got it out of my system and moved on. Any more such business and the temptation to pity myself might have become too compelling.

I am Jonas' mommy, though apparently someone forget to notify him of that. Seems he's not too impressed with that little piece of paper with a stamp on it that verifies my claims. And, while I'm the only mom available to him I'm not his only mother. It goes without saying I'm not his first choice lately. I gave myself permission to grieve alongside Jonas because he couldn't have the mommy he wanted in that moment. It would have been so easy for me to be deeply hurt by his reaction to me instead of sharing in his grief. ( In this one instance I will offer a small bit of advice. Guard your hearts against this mommies! Don't give the enemy a foothold.) Only by God's grace was I able to look beyond his rejection and love him the way he needed me to. I believe I would absolutely have taken it personally if he were my first child. I thank the Lord, Giver of good gifts, that I have the experience of raising three other children under my belt before my current enlistment. You better believe I chanted "You're a good mother. You may not be what he wants but you're what he needs." in my head over and over again. (If you are a first time mommy, an adoptive one at that, then you MUST get some friends around you who can verbalize these things to you. You call them up and you tell them to remind you what a good mommy you are. Then, you hang up and begin telling yourself the same things.) Without that anchor I am sure I would have lost my footing and drifted further away from progress on a current of self defeat.

Somehow, despite being momentarily stunned by the tragedy of our son's losses while watching them play out through his behaviour, I was energized with renewed determination not to relent. I reminded myself this was just one battle in a fierce war for our son's heart. I was campaigning to storm the gates of Jonas' defences armed with a mother's love. A good soldier can't just expect to breeze right through battlements of self preservation without exerting vigorous effort. So I prayed. And called for reinforcements. I asked God to break the back of Jonas' resistance to me as the mother He divinely appointed. Knowing that it may not happen in this moment- that it may take a thousand moments like this one- but that one day my prayer would be answered . I asked God to make me secure enough to allow Jonas to work through his grief and take his time learning to allow me to be his mother.

There was freedom for me in the realization that while Jonas needed time to surrender to- and eventually climb his way out of the grasp of- his losses I was free to pray prayers of hope for him. I was free to dream of the day when he will have passed through the waters and come out healed, despite the circumstances of the present. I am not bound by Jonas' sorrow in the same way he is at the moment. Because of my experience with God's healing in my life I can have confidence for Jonas' future. I rejoiced knowing that God desires healing for Jonas even more than I do. By His hand Jonas is moving away from pain and toward healing. Despite appearances. That's the truth regardless of how either of us may feel at any given moment.

Oddly enough, over the loud wailing I was able to hear the Lord's voice more clearly than I have in a long time. God encouraged me to know that the prayers the He led me to pray are laying the foundation for healing. He will give me the wisdom and insight I need to effectively parent Jonas. My prayers will be answered because God has inspired them. The words of my mouth and the desires of my heart toward Jonas are in line with God's. As I held him I knew Jonas would have his heart restored. No doubt about it.

I may have panicked for a minute there but God had brought me back. Hope restored.

Now what?

....To Be Continued in my next post in the series.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Our Attachment Journey - Part 1, Why Talk About It?

I've had a number of people speak to me about how they don't often see people addressing their struggles with attachment and bonding on their blogs and some have expressed relief at my willingness to air things out in my last post. I'd like to tell them that some of my best friends have been in the trenches of adoptive parenting for years and have been very candid in discussing with me both their experiences on the mountain tops and in the valleys. They have left no piece of dirty laundry hidden from my sight and because of that there's not much that has surprised me about the way I feel since bringing Jonas home. I can't imagine how much more difficult things would have been for me without the wealth of knowledge I've gained from my friends. I have benefited greatly from their willingness to be open and honest with me. I guess that's why I feel free to post about the nitty gritty of our journey with Jonas.

I'm no adoptive parenting super hero but I believe in transparency and in the sweet release of letting go of keeping up appearances. So, I've decided I will be posting on the subject of our trials in attachment more. I am cautious and sensitive to avoid over exposing our precious son's private struggles but I also want to keep it real for all my PAP (that's Pre Adoptive Parent) peeps out there. Maybe there's a mom reading somewhere who feels alone in her attachment struggles. Maybe she'd like to read that someone else is having to burn through the majority of her brain cells coming up with a plan of action, then put it into practice also. Maybe she's like my friend who was the first of anyone she knew to adopt or she's feeling the pressure to behave as if everything's coming up roses while she's at play group when all she really wants to do is cry, cry, cry.

........Or, maybe I just need to vent and this is the forum I choose. That works too. LOL.

Anyway, I'm writing up a few posts in this series and I'm dedicating them to my beloved BTDT (Been There Done That) friends, Brooke and Kim, who kept it real with me in order that they might equip and prepare me for my own mountaintop and valley experiences. I love you guys!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tenacious Like My Father

My last posts on attachment and bonding have been pretty positive because, well, things overall have been very positive. This post isn't a negative per se. It's more like well rounded :-) While progress is being made every day that's not to say we don't have our share of hurdles to jump and bridges to cross.

I've been keeping some pretty late hours with Jonas recently. It's been trial and error for me to figure out what he wants and what his true needs are. He's back to wanting to comfort eat through the night. He sleeping fitfully and waking up demanding a full tummy even though he will spit up all that food. It's just not good for him. I have come to believe through prayer and observation what Jonas is truly desirous of is deep comfort. Not the kind that comes from food, but the kind that comes from attachment. And I'm working on it. Though, attachment is not something I can say that Jonas feels toward me. Not yet anyway.

He's further ahead in the attachment process with Dustin. That isn't a bad thing. In fact, I am happy about it in many ways. It's so important for him to identify with His father. I am glad to see their special relationship being built. It's a joy to witness. But, it's a twist from my previous parenting experiences. I've always had that instant connection with the girls. I've been the sunshine of their infant lives and, while sure, I had to "work" to meet their needs I never had to work to gain their acceptance. Not in the way I'm working right now.

It's so very hard to explain. And, I wish I could do a better job of it. It's just that Jonas is hurt. As charming and funny, bright and cheerful, playful and resilient as he is there's a darker side there. Nothing freaky or alarming be assured. Only all that is natural from sustaining such deep losses as he has. He wants love and comfort but he's not sure he wants it from me. Sometimes he's more than willing to allow me to bring him comfort and satisfaction and other times he flat out rejects it from me. Like tonight as I was trying to soothe him to sleep, while he was crying he saw a long strand of my hair hanging down. His hand went up to reach for it but it was just outside his grasp. Oooh he kept a reachin' and a reachin' with all his angry might for that hair. It wasn't a 'just let me get a piece of her to love on, any 'ole piece will do' kind of reach he was makin'. No, he wanted to ring my bell and if he could have given a big yank on that strand of hair he would have. What I had to offer just wan't what he wanted. Not because it's me personally. I think it's just humanity.

Oh I could so identify with my son in that moment. How many times have I had a need, a deep seeded need, that could not or would not be fulfilled? Maybe I wanted something more than any human could offer me and refused to go to the Lord for His provision instead. And, because of the anger over not having that need met, how many times have I lashed out to those closest to me? Too many times to count I'm afraid. How many times has my heavenly Father been standing over me offering comfort and love while I struggled to accept it from Him?

A long time ago God spoke something into my heart. He spoke to me about my own personal adoption as His child. As his adopted daughter I need to learn how to function within the family of God. God has always taught me but I haven't always made the choice to accept what He's offered me. It's my choice whether I accept or reject my place in His family. From time to time I may or may not feel like I belong to Him, that He loves me or that His methods of raising me as His own are effective. At times I feel like rejecting the Lord's brand of parenting and other times I do reject his parenting. That doesn't mean I don't still have a place in His home, or that God isn't loving me just the way I actually need to be loved. The problem is sometimes I don't even understand what my needs are. It becomes a battle of the wills at that point. Then, the question begs to be answered: Will I be stubborn and push Him away or will I relax my arched back into the embrace of my Heavenly Father just like I'm asking Jonas to do with me?

Yes, I can identify in some small way with how my son feels because we're not so different, the two of us. My prayer for him is that he will see the loving arms of his Heavenly Father extending to him through my imperfect embrace. I pray that Jonas will learn to accept my love for Him and be comforted by it and that he grow to find security and satisfaction in his place in this family as well as in the House of the Lord.

As far as my prayers for myself, I am so thankful for the comfort that comes from knowing that my God is a loving God and a tenacious Father. If He wasn't so awesome I'd be tempted to feel I could use up all the tenacity and patience He's got. I'm so thankful that can never be the case. I need to learn from my Daddy well so I can follow in His footsteps. I've got a son who's just like me and I'm going to need all the tenacity I can get!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

charity:water, Twestival

charity: water for Twestival from charity: water on Vimeo.

I mentioned I joined 300 voices which supports charity:water. Here's a video of what charity:water is doing and an opportunity for you to get involved.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Family Photos '09

My friend Brooke was kind enough to offer up her talents to take the first pictures of our family as a group of six. I am so thankful to her for taking time out of her very busy life to snap some shots of us. Thanks Brooke!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A New Way To Pray

I'm reading Celebration of Discipline again. I've been chewing on the first chapter, oh, for a few months now.**

First, I read about meditation and now I'm digging into prayer. Something of which I've been doing A LOT lately. It's also been on my heart to teach my children to pray. Not that their prayers need improvement necessarily (I am not the prayer police) but I want to give them a tool box filled with skills. Also, I've noticed they tend to pray the same things over and over again. I wanted to help them think outside their "box", so to speak.

So Dustin and I tried something with them. On pgs. 30 &31 of Celebration the author shares an exercise called "palms up, palms down." Basically it's an exercise of turning over those things which may be agitating or distracting you in order to better receive the things of God in preparation for meditation of scriptures, or in our case prayer.

For our version we sat in a circle with eyes closed, palms down and went clockwise letting go of our burdens and distractions. When one person was finished they would tap the person on the right (I can't believe we've never used the "circle tap" method for all our kids. Every nights it's a "can I go next?" fest. This cures that!). Next we flipped our palms up and took turns again receiving help from Jesus. Then we folded hands and entered into prayer. I could not believe how enthusiastic the girls were about this. It really brought up some surprising "throw aways" as they came to call it. They opened their hearts before the Lord and in our hearing "threw things away" we didn't know they were feeling. Things like their burdens over their disobedience, their sickness, their fears. It was amazing! They truly enjoyed throwing them away and then, in turn, "filling up their empty places with Jesus." Their smiles beamed (with eyes closed) while they raked in peace and forgiveness from the Lord for the palms up portion. Then, most rewarding of all, I noticed their prayers were turned to others. Their focus was able to extend beyond themselves and toward others with their burdens lifted having received the gifts Christ offered them.

They woke up requesting to do it again. So we did. I think they plan to make it a daily practice.

** I actually went back to a post where I was last reading the book and I realize it's been a WHOLE YEAR since I've picked up the book. WOW! That shocks me. Can time really be moving that fast? **

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


We all woke up with some sort of sinus infection and cough this morning. Dustin called from work to tell me he was miserable. I've got the better job between the two of us! I'm not in a hurry to start school today. My head feels sloshy. I experienced a lot of vertigo yesterday. It may be I don't do school until after lunch. The kids aren't that motivated either as you can see below.
Here's my drooly monster. He's GOT to be naked to eat. He just makes too big a mess otherwise. No bib can handle his mealtime antics. We've had to take the fabric cover off his highchair because it becomes soiled each meal. It's just easier to wipe off the plastic cushion cover each time. The reason for the mess is not mommy's spoon driving skills but rather Jonas' spoon whacking skills. And the fact that he prefers to eat anything, and I do mean anything, that he can feed himself over being fed. He is working so hard on his coordination and feels so proud when he gets a good mouthful of his favorite yogurt melts into his mouth. He looks us and squeals making sure I'm watching his accomplishments.

Needless to say, Jonas is chunking up sufficiently. Every corner of him has rounded out nicely :-) Especially those cheeks I love so much. They're kiss magnets, I tell you!

As you can see below his top two teeth came in. I can't describe to you the grinding sound he's learned to make with his new chompers. My ears cannot handle that sound. It's bone chilling. But, he gets a kick out of it. He's become the biting bandit now that he's got accomplices for his bottom teeth. Now he can really sink into something.Namely mommy. He discovered this trick Sunday at church. When he bit down on my thigh. Yea, that got a reaction outta mommy. He bit me 5 more times on the right shoulder after that.

Jonas is still learning social cues. He's really behind in that regard. Since prior to coming home he had limited interaction with a primary caregiver he's not been able to study facial expression to gain understanding about when a person is angry and when they are pleased. From infancy parents send cues to their baby which help develop emotional "awareness". Like when a baby is wet as his diaper is changed his mother will say "Oh is that yucky diaper bothering you? Let mommy get you a new one." she'll make faces for emphasis naturally. This type of instinctual training develops ties between child and parent and teaches them not only that their need will be met but it begins to name emotions for the little one and teach him to identify with his parents. So that child at 11 months will know right away without any verbal warning when his mommy is displeased with his biting behavior. The verbal discipline, at that point would actually be more like the emphasis or exclamation mark. That baby knows mommy's "no" face and doesn't like to disappoint mommy. When mommy's disappointed baby's disappointed too.

To highlight the difference for you: Jonas would get this very confused look on his face when I firmly told him "No! Aydelem!" and would stare hard at my face studying my expression. Sometimes he'd even laugh. Not out of defiance but sheer ignorance. He had no concept of what was taking place. I don't know that he had ever been disciplined. Lately though, he's beginning to attach to us and starting to become agitated when we discipline him. He is beginning to sense our displeasure and it's beginning to upset him which is a BIG deal. You see if your kids don't attach emotionally then they don't care if they are upsetting you. It's a big piece of the attachment puzzle for his emotional age to identify with his parents emotions. We are not there yet but the progress we're making feels very satisfying! We've had a couple of times when he's made a pouty face and let a token tear drop out to show he's getting the idea. Quickly after we discipline with a firm word we assure him with hugs and tell him we love him. His smile then returns quickly.

Normally, with our other kids after many biting infractions I would have begun to flick them lightly on the lip to drive home my serious dislike for that behaviour but for Jonas it just isn't the right way to go. He's learning. It takes time. And, it would appear that it's going to take a few more chunks outta momma too. But he's willing to learn and making progress and that's the real priority. So if you unexpectedly hear me yelp loudly (say, like in church) you'll understand why :-)

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Movie and My Recent Thoughts

I came across a story about the movie Lord, Save Us From Your Followers and went to the website to learn more about it. You can watch a 10 minute trailer at the site. It captured my interest.

It renewed my contemplation of that fine line between calling a spade a spade while making sure you've removed the plank from your own eye. I'm wrestling with the grayness of walking in the Spirit- if that makes any sense. Of knowing when to speak and when to shut up, how to "feel" about things and how to pray. Of knowing when and how to, as my friend puts it so well, live love out loud.