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Archive for August, 2012


Things have been moving toward normalcy over the last week. Here are some random, stream of conscious thoughts.

Asher has been sleeping through the night, and no middle of the night poops. He has a few bad dreams a week.

Asher seems to enjoy his antibiotic. He really didn’t like the pill for ringworm. But he eagerly takes the liquid. The strep has pretty much disappeared.

He’s often a playful little boy. Jadon likes to carry him like a huge doll, but he’ll run around and giggle.

He enjoys showers now. Or at least doesn’t scream. He can now get in there with the others. Yeah, nothing like 4 kids in the shower to add to the chaos.

Micah is a generally happy kid. She likes books. She imitates Jadon, sitting there with an open book (particularly at table) even without pictures. I like it. I know she can’t read because often the book is upside down.

She loves rasberries, giggling up a storm.

She also likes snuggling up to me on the couch while I watch ESPN. This was a pleasant surprise.

She is used to the dog, and even pets her sometimes. This is better than Ash who is fascinated by pulling her tail. We are told that the DRC is similar to Mexico, that most dogs are strays or guard dogs. You don’t go near them. So having a dog in the house and actually play with it is a big adjustment.

Teaching Eli is … interesting. I worked with him on printing and math. There is far less crying than when Jadon does this stuff. Apparently he cries when he does phonics.

We discovered the Lingala word we thought meant “stop” means something more like “shut up”. This is unfortunate because Jadon is like “tika” this and “tika” that. It is only slightly more popular than “suba” and “cosuba” which refer to #1 and #2. So, we are trying to purge “tika” from the vocab, remembering that sometimes things get lost in translation. The kids have created the suba dance. They just plain like to dance together.

The heat hasn’t been too bad. So most afternoons the kids are playing outside- splashing in the pool, riding bikes and trikes and generally running up and down the street. Some mornings they head into the back yard to play. Or give Jadon space as she tackles school work. She needs to concentrate, you know. Getting the rust off has been painful for Amie. I’m able to sneak out to the office.

We really enjoyed the last batch of meals provided by people in the church. There are a number of great cooks in the church. Some were able to stay and talk, getting to know the kids better.

I’m glad I’m a more competent dad than Jim Halpert.

Amie injured her back teaching a class on Friday. So, she’s been moving a little slow lately. It is slowly feeling better.

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Chillin’


Decided to take a break from the Red Sox drama (if you care, I’m glad they were able to make the trade, on a few fronts).

One of the things the kids love to do is dance. We bought a keyboard so Jadon can practice piano, which hasn’t really happened. But they like the pre-programmed songs. They have a favorite and then bop around the home school room. It really is fun to watch. But they like it loud! Just as much fun, for them, is that Jadon videos sessions. Nearly every time she says “Hi, I’m Jadon and this is my sister Micah….” Every time. On a few you can hear me saying ‘We know, we know!”

We’ve been consistent with the Family Worship most mornings. All but Asher have a hard time sitting reasonably still. Eli tries to answer the questions, and gets a few. But mostly it is Jadon. I’m sure Micah is soaking it all in. I’ve resumed the work with the catechism. This is a different one than the church used with the kids. So Eli doesn’t know as many. But he’s trying. Jadon is a bit rusty after a summer of sporadic at best practice.

Yesterday I took the kids to a tour of the Marana Police Station while Amie took Asher to the doctor for a follow up. I didn’t realize the “tour” would be outdoors in the 95 degree heat. We had a good time, and they loved the K-9 unit. We saw how good the drug sniffing dogs were. And the new K-9 officer got to wear the bite suit for a demonstration. One dog, know as their most powerful dog, nearly knocked him down. He regularly dents vehicles. We learned that they get all the dogs from Europe. Sadly, they spend the first 2 years in a small kennel before being sold to be trained. They are work dogs, not pets. They love to work. We got to see the bomb squad robots. The bomb guy said they often use X-Box controls. I guess you can do something with superior X-Box skills. I stand corrected. Sadly, Eli didn’t want to get on either of the motorcycles- a Victory and a BMW.

Asher is in the 6th percentile in weight and 18th for height. Based on that, I’d think he’d be skinny like Eli was. The stuff on his legs was a strep infection. But it is getting better. Looks like the stuff on his head is not ringworm. Or might not be.

It was a weird health week, again. Jadon and Eli have had minor coughs. And Eli’s left eye was nearly swollen shut for 2 days. Perhaps a stye. He was a trooper about it. Then Amie hurt her back doing squats while leading a class. Asher has slept well most nights. We’ve had some typical kid stuff, hitting and not sharing. But nothing extreme or unusual. Asher now eats his carrots. Perhaps he was hoarding before. We didn’t really experience that with Eli, But at first he ate like a horse. He finally realized “hmmm, they have 3 meals here every day. And snacks.”

Today was play in the sun day. The kids started in the kiddie pool. But while I washed the cars they enjoyed the water flowing down the driveway. If I was 6, I might be able to explain it. But I’m not and I cannot.

It was a long week, and I wish I could rest on Sunday. But His grace is sufficient.

Micah was sad again tonight. That is what is tough. She can’t really tell me why. Whether she misses someone or someplace? Whether she wishes she was elsewhere? No idea.

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Left Out


Ah, pardon the finger

Today was the day people felt left.

Tonight Jadon wanted me to carry her into their room. I relented, though I’ve got a muscle that feels not quite right. My plan was to go back to the loft and carry Micah into the room too. But she followed us.

Jadon decided this was the time to snuggle. So I was tickling her, and we were laughing on her bed. I didn’t realize that Micah left the room, feeling left out.

She came back and had her angry, “you’re not here”, look on her face. She didn’t want to be tickled. But I gave her a long hug and rubbed her back. When I pulled back I saw her first tear. I wiped it away and pulled her in close again, holding her for awhile.

I’ve been Jadon’s dad for 7+ years. We have some established patterns of affection. I’ve been Micah’s dad for 2 weeks. We don’t have those patterns. I don’t want to overwhelm her. But apparently I’m going too slow.

We aren’t sure how much affection she has had in the past. Perhaps there is a longing for something she has never known.Hard to say. She understands us, but really can’t communicate with us. Heartbreaking, actually.

Eli came down after being put to bed. No surprise there. He said he wanted skin like Asher’s. He felt left out. He’s the only one with skin like his. Everyone has different skin.

Earlier in the day I got a call from the agency. She told me that they had a sibling that had just been brought in to the orphanage. They wanted to know if we wanted to reunite him with Asher and Micah. I was a tad confused. He was 2. But so is Asher. Turns out he was actually a cousin, but at some point their mother received custody. It was a strange turn of events. Perhaps we’ll try to keep in touch when he is adopted. But they might not even know him.

After the confusion, she asked me how the transition was going. “Pretty good.” Yes, I did explain.

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No More Orphanages!


His serious look

It has been a wild and wacky few days.

Friday night Asher had a relapse. Saturday we went to the gym. Friends brought Jadon home for a playdate with their daughter. So we took the other 3 out for snack. There is a place in the food court at the local mall that sells Pretzel Bites. We enjoyed them, but I wasn’t enjoying Eli. He was acting quite obnoxious, as sometimes happens when certain children are in public. He would be the certain child. He … would regret this.

We got home and it was haircut time. My hair- due to bed head, hat head and sweat head- was looking like the crime of the century. It was long overdue. So was Eli’s. He looked like the star of a low budget 70’s martial arts film. He looked so goofy with his hair sticking up and the pork chop side burns. Since it was “only” in the 90’s, it was a great day for a haircut outside.

The rest of the day is a blur. But Asher slept much better Saturday night. Which was good because we were wiped!

We are still trying to get Asher on the same sleep schedule as the rest of us. I mentioned this during my sermon to illustrate how we need to learn a new way of life when we come to Christ. One of the nursery workers had just started to snuggle with him for a nap when I said this. The nap was over (it’s awesome that someone listens to me!).

Asher slept well again Sunday night. But we noticed the disturbing trend that the kids were getting up too early. Not just up, but out of bed, dressed and running around. We had a family meeting, so to speak, about this over dinner tonight. Just a fatherly reminder. I also mentioned nap time was to be heeded. If dad turned on their fan, and turned off their lights they were not to reverse that and play. Asher, on the other hand, was screaming through most of his nap time.

Post-haricut

He really hates it when I give him a little swat (I’ve only done it twice). He kicks his legs in anger. He’s not hurt or in pain. Just angry. Today I held his legs until the kicking stopped. I think I mentioned before that we’ve been reluctant to physically discipline the children since we don’t know if they have been abused. So I’m wonder how to discipline Micah as she continues to lock her door.

Today was Asher’s first visit to the doctor. We wanted them to look at his ears and chest. His breathing has sounded congested, and stuff has been leaking out of his ears. It didn’t smell like an infection, but we wanted to be safe. He had 2 cultures done. One on the ears, and one on one of the abscesses. The PA noted that at some point he had a perforated ear drum. This would be why he’s not in pain, there is no pressure. But she prescribed some antibiotics to clear up the infections. Next week they will have their first checkups.

When Jadon has been upset lately, she has said she was afraid we’d take her to an orphanage. She struggles with speaking rashly. This is a new version of it. So tonight I also mentioned that none of them would ever end up in an orphanage again (or the first time in Jadon’s case). Should anything happen to us (Jadon predictably got all sad) Dan and Jeannine would take care of them. We thought that would be fun. We’ll see.

Oh, there were fun times as well. Micah must have watched too many (any) music videos at some point. She can have this exaggerated hip sway at times. And when dancing she sometimes does a crotch grab. Very odd for a 5 year-old.

But, they can be quite cute when they dance together. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get the link from FB to work. Alas….

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We’ve seen some good progress in the last few days.

  • Micah has actually started to pet the dog. Still a bit leery, but making some great progress. Asher is no longer petrified of the dog.
  • Asher did NOT cry during his shower last night! He’s catching on nicely.
  • Asher did NOT cry before going to sleep last night. He spend a few minutes snuggling with me on the couch before bedtime. And there was a dose of Melatonin. But he had a good night’s sleep.
  • Micah has already made great progress on the tricycle in just 2 days.
  • Asher is starting to get used to a schedule after not having anything resembling one, we guess, all his life.
  • Asher is sleeping until after 6 now, so we are getting more sleep.

We has some discipline issues yesterday. Sometimes Micah does not treat Eli well. She had a time out (we don’t know if they have been abused, and are putting off any spanking until we bond). It was the quietest time out I’ve witnessed. Jadon and Eli cry and moan. She accepted it. I also talked with her about not locking doors, and not writing on the table with the pencil. Not big stuff- quite ordinary for any family. She seems to respond fairly well. But we’ve noticed that, like Eli, she has learned how to use that beautiful smile. Now we have a Congolese Charmer to go with our Chinese Charmer.

Today she called me “Poppa”. The first time I’ve noticed her calling me anything. Just odd since the other kids call me Daddy. It sounds cute when she says it. She does understand much of what we say.

Getting into the fray!

We’ve been able to have family worship just about every morning this week. We read a story from The Gospel Story Bible, then we pray together. Great to see the kids make requests for their new siblings. The last few days we’ve been singing The Doxology. This is something we have struggled with at times. So this was a good time to re-commit to our efforts.

Today was their first trip to the park. Micah was adventurous. Asher did well too. It was a short trip before running errands. Asher is playing more. He’s very laid back, except when he’s angry. Mostly he’s quiet and laid back. He goes with the flow. Sometimes that means his bigger sister tossing him in a laundry basket to push him down the stairs. Or just to hang out.

On the health front, Jadon’s pink eye is getting better. Asher has not had anymore abscesses. But he’s had goop coming out of his ear. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by what is probably an ear infection. Pretty strange. Eli still has a cough, but that is about it.

We have made a health care switch. We are going to try Christian Healthcare Ministries, foregoing the insurance route. We know some people who have had a great experience with it. Some not so much. The time wasted fighting with insurance companies is time we could use in more constructive ways. We do have some kids to educate.

We have had some people drop off some great meals. More are to come. That has helpedĀ  us quite a bit time wise. We can focus on some other things. If only I could remember to bring the brownies that have been in the church refrigerator since Sunday.

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Cryin’ Time


Let’s go with the negative titles. Keep in mind, I’m not complaining. Just giving the theme of the day.

Actually, for Asher it has been mostly screaming. He was screaming for an hour at a time yesterday around lunch. And at 9:30 last night. And around lunch today. Toss in accidentally biting Amie while she was checking to see if he’s swallowed his medication.

This morning Jadon spent plenty of time crying. Can’t find a skirt. Bonked her head. The others are being mean. Blah, blah, blah. Sorry I don’t have much sympathy between Asher’s screaming and Eli’s coughing, I didn’t sleep well (which means this may not be coherent).

But we’ve been feeling better the last two day. Jadon’s pink eye is disappearing, and my little bug on Monday is gone.

Tonight was a nice night for a walk with the kids. Micah did much better on the tricycle. She’s still struggling with pedaling. And steering. But she kept trying. She didn’t give up. So, after traversing the cul de sac we lost the tricycle. She pushed the stroller, with Asher, up the hill. After I took the dog while other dogs were on the other side of the road, Jadon took the stoller and Micah ran after Eli as he rode a bike. The girl can run.

Not much progress on the language front. We’ve picked up some Lingala. She isn’t speaking much English,but seems to understand a fair amount.

I’ve been working, so that’s all I’ve got.

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A Day of Tantrums


No, not my tantrums. Mostly Asher, but he was not alone among the children.

Once again Asher started moaning around 5:15. He didn’t cry out before then, or have a middle of the night poop (the silver lining). But Eli was up about 10:30 and didn’t feel well. And the neighbors were on their back porch talking until at least 1:30. Yes, I heard them. Ash, by the way, took his moaning act into the pack & play in our closet so Eli could get more sleep. Didn’t work, the other kids were running around well before 6 (don’t they get how WRONG this is?!). The moaning morphed into crying and screaming.

A more peaceful moment. I had to go back to Saturday!

The Bible reading during our family worship time was put on pause due to Asher’s crying. We aren’t sure what was wrong. Perhaps he just wanted to get down. We don’t know. But he was even less happy on the steps, and then his crib.

Monday is the day I come home around lunch to watch the kids while Amie teaches an exercise class. So I had lunch duty. They all had carrots. Ash had to finish his before getting anything else. Just wasn’t going to happen. A few made their way into his mouth, and stayed there. When I tried to check, it all started up again.

In the midst of that I had to deal with Eli and the numerous ways he was acting out. He reluctantly made his way to his room, and bed. No Wonder Pets for him! Or Ash who still sat at the table as I waited him out. By George (and John, Paul and Ringo) he was going to swallow that food! How do you make that happen by the way? It is in there, but not going down.

When I brought him upstairs to the pack and play, he took it to a new level. When he was kicking his feet he got a pat on the leg. I think I hit the volume button by mistake. He would scream for about an hour. When I went to get him up for his nap, I couldn’t roust him. I had to literally grab both arms and lift him to his feet for him to wake up. Out cold.

As the day wore on, Jadon (who now has pink eye) was whining worse than a dog who wants to eat but can’t. About everything. It was clear that it would be an early night for the kids. When I choose to read the short stories Micah and Eli picked out and not the tome she did, the whining turned to tears. Did I mention I wasn’t feeling well?

Just plain wore us out. We were reminded of the days of Elijah. No, not the song that I can’t stand (I live in the days of Jesus). Eli could really throw a tantrum those first few months. My power struggles with Ash today? Mere child’s play compared to the nuclear events Eli and I went through. It is to be expected. Not enjoyed, but expected. This too shall pass. The question is, will we survive? We aren’t as young as we used to be.

 

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