Sipping an uncharacteristic chilled white wine, (not red), and with the kids soundly asleep on a Friday night, I attempt to collect my thoughts. In an effort to journal the details for prosperity, I can come up with no other title for this blog post. The whirlwind of events of the past week have our calendar full, our lives enriched and again find Pat and I hugging in the kitchen whispering to each other, "We are doing it!" translating to "this funky family of four is really gelling!"
Rising to the top of our priority list, we met with Dr. Freidrick at Children's Hospital about Treya's hands. He strongly suggested that we not wait to separate her fingers on her right hand because she has not yet chosen a dominant side and because the bones at the tips of the three nubs are beginning to grow inward. Currently the pinkie and two fingers next to it are webbed like a wing and are about half the length of her index finger. We won't be lengthening them, but they said that the additional mobility by being able to spread one's fingers is a huge gain.
Dr. Freidrick is young, not pushy, confident in his suggestions and had sound reasoning and purpose in the detail of the surgery explanation. It was originally scheduled for April 19th, but he is on vacation then and so we got bumped up to March 8th, while I am still on maternity leave and can convalesce with Treya as she adjusts to her arm in a cast from finger tip to arm pit.
He also wanted to operate on her other hand to remove scar tissue, a cosmetic surgery really, but we declined that one. I just couldn't put our baby under a second time for cosmetic reasons at this time. Perhaps as she ages it may become important to her, but there would be absolutely no function gained,. With any surgery, there is always tremendous risk and so for now, declining this one was a no brainer.
Thanks to the recent snow fall our first post placement appointment was rescheduled for March, as is her foot appointment, OT and PT . She also has a psych evaluation to determine if she should continue with speech therapy too. While on the subject of speech, I have to mention how proud of her we are. In less than 2 months since first uttering her first word, she now has about 50 words and more than 20 signs. This is huge when you consider that we also changed languages on her too. Treya is one bright girl.
Painting our toenails
Devi is learning about personal space and boundaries. If she had things her way, she would be holding Treya, kissing Treya, hugging Treya and having Treya sit on her lap 24/7. It has been hard to teach that at 2 years of age, Treya wants some time to do things all by herself and does not want her big sister to help all the time. We've finally got it down that sitting side by side, without touching too much still means you love your little sister.
I also have to apologize to Devi. Because she is so smart, we automatically expect so much from her. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that she is only 4 years old. In a months time, she has gone from being our baby to nearly becoming an adult, at least in the amount of responsibility that we have bestowed her. Although she loves her sister, and tries hard to think of reasons to stay home from school to play with her, she still loves our private cuddle time and I admit, it rejuvenates me too. She has always been such a happy, cuddly kiddo....something I hope stays with her for a long long time.
Looking over the past week, I would say that we have had some not so good days and some good days. Three days ago I would have sworn that I had used every ounce of patience a mother could muster for these two girls and would not be getting any nominations for mom of the year any time soon! Then just two days ago, after I had cooked Indian food, Treya turned a corner and decided if I could cook Indian, perhaps my cooking was worth a try. She has eaten everything I have prepared since that day, even asking for more, including raw vegetables, all kinds of meat and on some days milk too. (Okay, maybe it is a growth spurt, but I'm taking it as a complement). In the end, the good days far out weigh the difficult ones, and for that I am smiling and loving our new developing family dynamic.
The girls together simply bring me smiles. We've had so many fun firsts. Painting toenails - Devi's 10 and Treya's 3, baking cookies, making dinner together, watching the snow fall and then playing in the accumulation. I observed a recent morning where Devi had decided to play animal wedding. Never at a loss for words, she was full of nonstop instruction, telling Treya where to put the chairs, who would attend, and in general being a bossy big sister. Before I knew it, the playroom had taken up new residence in the hallway with a menagerie of animals occupying the various seats lined up in rows, preparing for the nuptials about to take place. They played without interruption for about 2 hours. It was darling, but more than that, it was the bonding of two sisters whom I know are becoming the best of friends.
A simple cardboard box becomes a STAGE! And the performances are LOUD
Luckily for me, there is positive reinforcement, even on the tough days. One of those days found me shopping with the two girls in tow, trying to beat the race against the falling snow. Treya was upset because she was strapped into the cart, and Devi was upset because there are not two seats - side by side - in the cart. What is a mother to do? Refocus and redirect came to mind. Give each girl a job so they forget that they are both miffed about the seating arrangement. Evidently, we were being watched....have I mentioned that my girls are LOUD? Somewhere between the radishes and zucchini, the watchful woman (a teacher by trade) complimented me on how I was using the opportunity as a "teaching moment". One girl holds the bag and chooses the perfect cucumber, handing it to the the other who stores it in the cart. Her positive comments on that trying day were enough to make me want to take both her hands in mine, cry her a river and kiss her directly on the lips. Somehow the Lord knows what we need, when we need it.
The areas that one would assume would be difficult have been a breeze. Naps and night night go off daily without a hitch and being able to go out in public with a 2 and 4 year old - out for dinner for instance - been incredibly easy. Even all the potty training antics are moving right along, however, it seems we talk about the potty an awful lot. For this, we count our blessings. Now if we can just keep Treya from screaming "EAT" at me over and over while I prepare a meal, we will be making some head way. I can't tell you how that one word repeatably screamed can wear a person down. I mean way DOWN!
Tonight was our first official "Family Movie Night" since arriving home. Once in jammies the show started...."Wonder Pets, Save the Bengal Tiger". Flanked by Pat and I on the couch finishing our glasses of wine, Devi laid in the middle with her thumb in her mouth and Pokey blanket at her side. Treya? Well, the grass never grows beneath her feet so she happily "cooked" in the nearby kitchen trotting in and out to bring us various empty spice vials to OPEN and CLOSE, again, and again, and again. Breaking the silence in more ways than one, Devi said, "Dad, pull my finger!"
Shocked and appalled, I give Pat that - you taught her THAT?- glance. To which he mouths with no sound behind her back, "I only said it in front of her once!" Rolling my eyes, I can only smile as the recent education in our household abounds AND this is our life as we know it.
I received an email about a little one year old girl from a completely different orphanage than the one I had been pursuing. I inquired on a whim. Our representative said that when she found out about this little girl, she immediately thought of our family and she was so excited to share her information. That tingling feeling of adrenaline driven hope, a familiar feeling felt once before, began to rise in my confused body. As swift as a head turns, I realized we'd been looking in all the wrong directions. Ping! Just then, up popped her medical information and her pictures into my incoming mailbox.
Pat and I poured over the little information we had about Sonalika. Coming alive with the idea that we were really going to adopt again AND that we had found our girl - were almost more than we could process at one time. Together, we grew in our resolve of heart and minds, that our search was over. Our hearts could safely open again and begin to love this child as our own forever. ...And love her we do! That was part of an entry of a post from one year ago, the first time we laid eyes on our newest family member...dubbed our jelly bean. Ironic as it is, just yesterday she said "I Love You" for the first time. I don't think she understands what that means just yet, but it made my heart soar to hear it none the less.
Just shy of one month together, I can tell you that Treya is extremely bright, anxious to soak up knowledge and loves to hide from us...waiting around a corner or a door, with the biggest smile anticipating her discovery by the seeker. Like Devi, she is going to be a strong woman with a definite mind of her own, imposing her will with every topic she feels strongly about. Currently that would be cookies, candy and cake, but also encompasses the desire to wear bows in her hair every single day.
Mornings now find her nearly leaping into my arms with glee when I come to the crib for her. She also shares the warmest welcome for daddy and Devi, with big wet kisses right on the lips every time. I love how she reaches for one of our fingers to pull us towards a new discovery or one of her many and immediate concerns...like a toy out of place or a mitten that may have fallen from it's proper shelf. She tends to be as much of a nurturer as I am, but I think this comes from her place in helping the cook prepare meals for the 100 children she once lived with.
When I consider how much this beautiful child has blossomed in such a short time, I find it hard to fathom that less than a month ago we, and more importantly, she...was in India! Trust is a gift and for us she has given it with little reservation. Yesterday, Devi and I were discussing the pros and cons of being a big sister. Devi said that she gets frustrated that Treya does not follow all the rules. I asked Devi how she would feel if when she woke up one morning she found she was sleeping in a different bed than the one she knew; her mommy and daddy were not familiar; the clothes she wore did not smell or feel like what she normally would wear; the food had a funny texture in her mouth and didn't taste like any of her favorite things. And, in addition to all of that, no one could understand anything she said and she could no longer understand anything that was being said to her? She paused for a moment and then said, "I would feel weird, momma". Then I asked her, "How do you think Treya feels about all of that?" Devi uttered one word...Sad. I think in that moment it sort of clicked for both of us. We realized what big jobs we have ahead as a mother and big sister.
Because she fits so perfectly into our family we tend to forget how much her world has been rattled. How many things are still "firsts" for her. In one month, Treya, this child of only 2 years has overcome so many obstacles and unknowns, but still continues to trust us. Each of her hugs is a little tighter, a little more self-assured and is packed with a little more love. On this year anniversary of first seeing her face, I marvel at those accomplishments.
Dress Up! A kitty cat nymph!
Treya's first pony tails and learning to say "Cheese"!
Hide and Seek with big sister.
Kissing herself in the mirror - a favorite pastime.
Valentine's Day with the Carol and Lesley, our neighbors. Putting on the shy routine.
In other news, Treya had her first pediatrician appointment last week. She was a trooper, but it was so nice to not have to worry about immunizations,. Thanks to the Hague treaty, Treya had all of her immunizations done in India, before we arrived through an approved US Embassy doctor, to ensure their viability.
To date she is 5,5,5. Her height (33 inches), weight (23 pounds) and head circumference (40.5 cm) are all at 5%. Funny, that Pat and I consider her such a TANK compared to Devi at that age, but in comparison to US standards she is just another imp.
Treya performed for Dr. Ayer nicely - saying AWWW, and showing her hands and feet to him with the most concerned look on her cute little face. He in turn, is referring us to the doctor's at Children's Hospital in Seattle to establish a base mark for her hands and feet. We are also starting her in the "Birth to 3 Years" program, to review her mobility and speech, just in case something is needed there.
She continues to be painfully shy around some and not others. We are beginning to suspect that this is all an act, perpetuated by whatever mood she tends to be in at any given moment. Just like her sister, she tends to be sweeter on men than women....go figure.
Full Throttle! That is how life has been for us since arriving home. I know all the adoption books say limit your visitation and keep things quiet, but for us that sort of seems all wrong. For one, mommy would go stir crazy and I don't think anyone would want a crazy woman looking after two small children. Secondly, our reality is never quiet and our schedule is always full, so why adapt the newest member to lifestyle that is not the truth? Treya is sort of the driver, however, if she is okay with the level of activity we continue on, if not, we pull back. She is not too keen on others holding her yet, but she is fine with being with friends and family as long as we are there too and eagerly greets them with a "Hi", a wave and a bunch of blown kisses.
Treya and Devi are learning to play together nicely (with a few blows to the others' head from time to time). Dress up is a favorite, but our bossy Devi clearly lets Trey know that she is not allowed to be a princess yet, because she is too little. She is only allowed to be a nymph, which requires wings at all times. Much of Devi's dialogue is lost on Trey who still barely understands English. I find this hilarious as Devi thinks Treya is being compliant when in truth, she does not understand of word of what she is saying. I realize this will soon change, but at the moment it is working...hence the happy smiles on our pictured Princess and Nymph.
I can't think of a better way to learn English than through song, so we signed Treya up for Kindermusik (a music class the Devi has been taking since she was 18 months old). The first class for this term was last Saturday. I was worried how Devi would react, knowing that Treya is still in the classes that require a parent to attend with them, and Devi is in the class after Treya's where the adults wait in the hall. To my surprise, she was thrilled that she is a big girl and can take class (currently learning to read music and play the glockenspiel) all by HERSELF and her BABY sister needs a parent. Phew....skirted around that hurdle. Now, how would Treya react to a room full of strangers and their kids?
I figured if she sat on my lap and just watched we would be doing very good. Surprised again! By the end of class, she was leaving my lap to go pick out instruments on her own and bring them back to me for us to explore. She could put them away when told and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the whole class. Wow! It was really really fun. We have been listening to the CD from class at home and in the car and she seems to have a true fondness for music, head bobbing each time a good song starts to play.
We are attempting to have our first babysitting adventure. Oma is going to stay with Treya on Saturday so we can take Devi to the ballet. Cinderella is being performed and it is the first big sister outing Devi has earned. With this in mind, we have been doing all kinds of things with Oma so that Treya is familiar with her and ready for a couple hours from us...granted the ballet is during nap time too, making the timing a bit easy on us too.
In any case, one of those outings included baking cookies in Oma's kitchen. Heart cookies in preparation of Valentine's Day. I fondly remember those times I baked cookies with my grandmother and how much better they tasted when they had been mixed and touched by her loving hands. I believe it is obvious by the looks on my girl's faces that they feel the same is true.
Now the funny thing about Oma and Treya is that Treya puts on this pouting act every time Oma is around. She is not afraid or insecure, she has just decided in her strong willed way that Oma has got to work REALLY hard for a smile out of her.! Oma very patiently says every time..."I've got all the time in the world, sugar!" By the end of each visit, Oma usually wins at least a grin. We wonder what it is about Oma that brings out this behavior.? Does Oma remind her of someone? or look so unlike anyone she has ever met? It really makes no sense. Treya responds positively and goes willingly to our big, loud, hairy men friends, but not yet to our loving Oma unless sweets are involved.
Dare I mention sweets. I mentioned that Treya does not understand much English, but clearly knows the words "candy", "cookie", "cake" and basically any word that represents things that should be eaten sparingly! The girl can chow and from what we know was able to eat what she wanted and when she wanted in the quantity that she wanted before we came along. Availability of food for her was never an issue. Her willingness to try new things, however, has become much better now that she can not eat that way any longer. She has been a vegetarian her whole life so I wasn't quite sure how she would react to the taste of meat. Although I don't now, I've eaten a vegetarian diet for most of my life, and find my cooking style now to treat the meat portion of a meal more as the side dish with a larger focus on the vegetables or starch.
So what does Treya "discover" as a new favorite food, while at a super bowl party this past week? MEATBALLS!! I wasn't sure if there would be something that she would like, so I lovingly prepared an Indian rice and pea dish just for her. NOPE! the girl chose meatballs and by days end, had downed 17 of them and would have continued had daddy not cut her off! Each morsel was shoveled from plate to mouth with her own mastery of a spoon, a utensil she had never tried using until she saw Devi eat with one. If you attempt to help her, she screams bloody murder. Did I mention she has a strong will?
Everything is new for her. Even using the potty. But if big sister does it, she is willing to try too and has even produced results on a couple of occasions. Sleeping with sister is still going well. Treya still cries a bit, throws everything out of her crib because she is mad that it is night night and then settles down and sleeps on her face, legs folded under. She is grasping more words and signs and now can say apple, thank you, please, baby and more. I'm almost certain some speech therapy is in order, but we will know more about that after Friday when we go to our first pediatrician appointment. We hope to get orthopedic referrals too, as we still question our decision to end the wearing of her leg braces and ponder what she should wear for shoes. AND...after 17 meatballs we question if there may be some parasite or other creature that came home with us too. EWWWW....
One of her favorite people...Uncle Bill!
Is everything rosy? NOPE...but we are finding our way and being taught by a two year old! The journey is fun, exhausting, hard, joyful, and hilarious. Did I mention she ate 17 meatballs? Lord, help us!