Friday, November 8, 2013

One Year Home. (Wait, WHAT?!?!?!?!)


Pretend I posted this yesterday. Like a good, dutiful, organized mother would have. :) I had glorious dreams of having a beautiful blog entry with a mesmerizing one-year-home video that would be posted on November 3rd, the day when exactly a year ago, we landed in America with our kids. Insert a bright light and angel choruses.

Fast forward to 5:13am on November 4th, where I am sitting at work on a break, pounding a Monster energy drink and wondering how to cram a coherent blog post into a 9 minute break.

Not happening. Even with 16oz of Monster pumping through my veins. ;)

Me, the daughter of a Marine, the most punctual person ever, the girl who went straight from her college classes to her dorm to complete the homework assignments so she wouldn't have to stress over them, the girl who can't procrastinate the slightest......she is sitting here with no celebratory one-year blog post, a list of 100 things to do and no time to do them, and an IV of caffeine, which is keeping her alive. Barely.

It's been a long weekend. And not in the relaxing way. We got a call late LATE Thurday telling us some terrible news. One of Z's friends had lice. And this friend had been at our house for five hours a a few days before. Insert panic. So our weekend basically looked like this:

-500 trips to Wal*Mart, Walgreens, and CVS
-$400 spent at Wal*Mart, Walgreens, and CVS (mattress covers, lice treatments, new pillows, etc. And Gatorade. LOTS of Gatorade. (It's my secret weapon. Sick? Drink gatorade. Tired? Drink Gatorade. Being attacked by disgusting bugs? Drink Gatorade.
-72 hours and counting: shampooing, combing, cleaning, washing, bleaching. REPEAT.
-40 loads (and counting) of laundry. EVERY washable item in our house is being stuffed into our poor washer. And if it can't be washed, it's being tossed. I am NOT taking chances.

P.S. Have you ever tried to comb a brown child's beautiful hair with a lice comb? I just want to state that it's basically impossible. Like, IMPOSSIBLE. I spent SIX hours combing through Z's hair on Friday. SIX. I could have given her cornrows of the year with that much time. Instead, I spent it pulling out half the hair that I so carefully tended this past year.

Luckily we had already celebrated our Gotcha Day (Oct 28th) last weekend, so missing our November 3rd homecoming day wasn't too big a deal. I mean, we still had a family day. And major one-on-one quality time. It was just spent doing laundry and combing hair. But we DID get to watch a bazillion movies together, and hang out all day. :) And I made shrimp scampi and pudding. So it was actually pretty good. :) And now my break is over.............
............Now it's 7:45am on 11/8/13. Maybe this post will be completed by the kids two year anniversary home. ;)

I guess I should actually start writing about the past year now, huh? And on that note...........HOW has it been one year already?!?!?!?!? I can't even comprehend how fast this year has gone by. The three years leading up to our kids dragged on FOREVER. Every day was filled with heartbreak and tears and a void. Then the kids came home and BOOM! Time flew. I went from working 18 hours a day interpreting to working 24 hours a day being a mommy (plus my daily 4am interpreting).

November: Arrived home in the U.S.

December: Levi's birthday and both kids accepted Jesus as their personal Savior on December 18th. :)

January: My birthday and we took a trip to NH to visit my grandparents.

February: JD went to the ER for stolen socks in his colon. He almost didn't make it.

March: Levi was in the ER for seizures. I went to Atlanta for Created 4 Care, and the kids went to their first Callanach show (St. Pats) and stayed in a hotel with their grandparents.

April: Zahria's birthday. A big homeschooling report was due.

May: My little sister came and stayed with us for a month.

June: Lots of Callanach recording sessions....the kids became BFFs with crafts and Netflix.

July: First fireworks, and we had an adoption reunion at a big lake with our besties/adoption family.

August: We fell in love with Natalie and accepted a referral for her. Zahria went to the ER for possible cardiac issues.

September: I went to the ER for my hands (long story). We completed all our homestudy and dossier paperwork in 3 weeks.

October: Zahria is doing gymnastics 2x a week and GEMS (Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior) and Levi is doing Youth Group (basketball starts soon! :)). Gotcha Day was the 28th of course! :)

November: My sister is getting married so we are driving out to my parents for that, and then the usual Thanksgiving fun and craziness. :)

Levi: He is now at the bridge of my nose (about 5'4 and weighs 103lb) and is sporting a cool version of Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel Air haircut. Not exactly sure how to describe it but it actually works for him. He's gotten hit on by two girls recently and I am considering using my position as interpreter Mom to go to his events and terp so that I can spy and block. Just kidding. But it's a little weird to have girls checking out my son and flirting with him..... :-p Abe and I were talking about how he could easily be in his mid-thirties and have GRANDCHILDREN. Who would be growing up with our future adopted children. And then we could be in our 50's-60's and have we will probably live to see our great-great grandchildren. Okay then......................

We've seen so much growth in Levi this year, both personally and in his schoolwork. He is currently doing second and third grade work with fifth grade math. He is really good at math. His English is coming along slowly (his vocabulary has tripled in a few months though, thanks to Horizons Spelling! :)) but it's improving! I am SO proud of him!!!! He's understanding his schoolwork better, and is able to listen to stories and repeat them back or answer questions about them, which is HUGE. He had no language and no education when we brought him home one year ago, so for him to be able to do work with Zahria is incredible. And exhausting. But incredible. :)

Levi is really starting to mature and we are seeing a huge difference in how he handles himself and how he responds to hard situations. He is a typical teen, loving technology, wanting his cell phone (birthday coming up....!) and he is dying to drive. (Again, the future me, the 35-40 year old me is supposed to be writing this. Not 27 year old me!!!!) He goes between not wanting me to hug him (especially in public ;)) to running up behind me and giving me huge bear hugs. It varies day to day, so I take what I can get. :) He is super motivated to graduate high school and go to college. He is still saying that he wants to be a police officer. He's going to Youth Group and YG events (we let him go to a Colton Dixon concert in PA that was 4 hours away, all by himself) and he LOVES it. I always wondered how the Bible could claim that even if a person isn't directly told about God, that they can find Him. Till I met Levi. He always says, "Mom, I couldn't sign but I used to pray in my mind. I knew there was a God. I knew He loved me." This coming from a child who had ZERO language and no communication with those around him. From a background that does not imply a loving God. And yet the moment we laid eyes on him, we saw Jesus shining right out of him.

Levi is crazy about music and dance (he watches a Korean dance team on YouTube all the time) and he is constantly dancing around our house interpreting the music and yelling. It's pretty funny--and fun to watch, because he's a great dancer and it makes him SO happy. :) He loves to tell stories. In fact, I think if he could have headphones and tell stories all day, he'd be the happiest kid on the planet. :)

Zahria: My baby girl is 65lb and 4'4. She is a ball of crazy laughter and silliness. She is in a constant state of hysterical giggles/screams/belly laughs. COMPLETELY different than the shy, silent girl we met in Ethiopia. She's doing gymnastics twice a week and spends more time upside-down than she does on her feet. She can do splits with either leg and is working on her straddle split. She eats like a horse. It's not unusual for her to have 6 pieces of fruit, 3-4 pieces of toast, and popcorn between meals.

Zahria is a helper. That is what she loves. This little girl is ALWAYS finding ways to help me; whether it be taking out the trash, cleaning up something, bringing me a drink--she never stops. Her heart is about loving people. Everyone. She worked all summer and saved up $70 and wanted to buy Operation Christmas Child boxes. I offered to help her pay for them and she said firmly, "No Mama! I have food and a family and I am safe and I don't have to work.....and they have nothing. I want to pay for it by myself." So this tiny girl spent all her money on shoe boxes. THEN she signed herself up at church on the list of people who will provide a Thanksgiving basket to a needy family. She told me, "I will make bracelets and sell them and buy food." And she did. She made SEVENTY-FIVE BRACELETS. They were beautiful bracelets. She sold them for $1 each. And she is buying her basket. I've never seen such a selfless little kid. She puts me to shame. And she's still wanting to be a worship pastor and "help people".

We've seen a dramatic difference in Zahria too this year. She is handling herself better in hard situations too, and is no longer a silent little girl, hiding behind me and refusing to let go of me. Now she leads the way, goes to multiple events every week by herself, and she's a bit too excited to show people she loves them.....she waves and greets EVERYONE. Including all vehicles within a two-car radius when we are driving. Actually, it's funny (even though she needs some stranger-danger teaching) because she lights up their day too. I'll look in my rear-view and Zahria is frantically waving down whoever is near us. When they finally give her that awkward, "Kid....are you waving at ME???" look, she grins and continues speed-waving and bouncing up and down in her seat like they are best friends. And then the poor people can't help but smile back. It's contagious.

This year was hard, and it was amazing. Someone said adoption has the highest ups and the lowest downs. SO true. But this is incredible and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love being a mom, and I love being THEIR mom. I am so blessed to hear/see them call me that treasured word. I am so blessed to have these children. They are the most amazing people I have ever known and against all odds they have over come impossible obstacles, and still they LOVE......and they are MINE. My babies. I love them so much it hurts. Two precious faces who are going to change the world. Two people who shine for Jesus. Two hearts that are tied to mine with a bond that can't be comprehended.

I am so proud of you, Levi and Z. I love you with all that I am.

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