Sunday, March 18, 2012
Coming home essentials
I read a LOT of blogs before I left for China - hoping to glean experience from those before me who were adopting two children at once. Many were veteran adoptive families - and expressed the difficulty and sheer exhaustion of adopting two at once. Others blogged about the unique challenges of adopting older children - some of which we had experienced - and some we had not. I am so thankful for the preparation these families gave us as well as some good ideas to help the new children adjust and keep the family at home on track during the big changes. So I'm going to list the essential list for coming home:
First and foremost - God's Word. Don't take this lightly! Getting up, however early (or late depending on the day) and getting wisdom and encouragement for the daily challenges is essential. I read this before, during, and after our trip - and use it every day to address any difficulties that may arise. Most of my biggest issues with the girls are God's biggest issues with me - and Biblical perspective is extremely helpful when looking in this mirror daily.
The Bible in the pic above is from Guangzhou. It is parallel English/Chinese and helps me point out words of wisdom for my older daughter to read. The Proverbs are FULL of good stuff - like how smart your parents are, you should heed their advice, etc., haha!! The "love chapter" of I Corinthians 13 is fabulous also. I routinely have her read the Matthew parts about "not worrying" about tomorrow, that today's troubles are sufficient. "What's happening next" is always a worry for new adoptees.
Secondly, the blogs of other adoptive parents - notably that of Katie Davis, missionary to Uganda. If you read her book or blog, you come away with a renewed perspective of "difficult day." I've never really had one. I've had irritating days, annoying moments - but nothing really worthy of complaint. Perspective is a marvelous thing. Most of my bad days are the result of my own bad attitude - not the actual circumstances. The worst day can be improved with a mindset of trust that God is working it all out through the daily stuff. Isaiah 26:3 - 'nuff said.
Get help - preferably of the teenage, same gender kind. I hired this fabulous girl to work with our daughters twice a week. She teaches them English, goes over homework, and works on cartwheels and somersaults with them. While doing this, she's a terrific role model of an "American Girl" who loves Jesus, values schoolwork, and speaks and behaves in a refined manner (and who's clothes match). It's better than finishing school - it's "every day girl" stuff - and worth the small cost per week to help take the load off mom for a few hours and provide a mentor worth emulating.
Physical exercise -for them and for you. This can be at the same time. Getting outside in the sunlight - especially when you first return - is great for jet lag and great to tire out really stressed out kiddos. When they're really tired, they sleep better - and everyone feels better when they exercise. Some folks think we keep a tremendous pace - but it has been to our children's and our benefit. The girls have LOTS of developmental catching up to do, and swimming and tumbling has been very helpful with this.
Vitamins for everyone. The trip and arrival home are BUSY and fast paced - and the kids may be low in vitamins due to their previous diets. Plus, I just love gummies in the morning - and so do they!
Google translate. REVERSE TRANSLATE EVERYTHING!! You would be surprised at the misunderstandings sometimes. I didn't figure this out until about a week home and several puzzled looks later....
These can be found at Walmart - two berry "pies" for about $2. I put one in the microwave for 50 sec. after the kids go to bed and load it down with Breyers vanilla ice cream when it comes out. No matter how hard the day was, this revives me, haha! If your thing is Dove Chocolates, popsicles, or *whatever* -splurge and keep some around - the exercise takes care of most of the fallout (but not all) on the hips.
I buy the kids the little ice cream cups that don't require a bowl (to overload in the dishwasher.) They are just the right size and they love them. They can get them out of the fridge on their own, and I don't have to do anything but give permission. By 7pm, I don't want to go back in the kitchen (except for MY little treat above!) I announce their availability from the sofa and they all thank me profusely - while I'm still lying in a prone position. Perfect.
Early bedtimes. Don't think you're doing them or you a favor if you let them stay up late. They need structure, and you need a wind down time at night to be fresh for the next day.
Legos and puzzles. Think younger than their age. These are GREAT for helping with small motor skills and teaching creativity. My kids loved puzzles in China, and graduated to Legos once they got home. They have cute girly sets now - the kids love them.
Lots of paper, markers, colored pencils, and crayons. You should have heard the oohs and ahhs this first time they saw my stack of printer paper.
Other notables: buy Walmart clothes or ask for hand-me-down clothes. Many kids are careless with "things" when they first get home, some kids wipe their mouths or hands on their clothes (napkins are hard to come by in some places) and you won't want your beautiful smocked dresses trashed in the first few months of table manners teaching. While this wasn't the case with all our new kids, it is with most, so spare yourself the regret and use "disposable" or washable type clothes. Same with toys and jewelry - save the good stuff for later - and ask folks to hold off on expensive or fragile gifts.
Corelle dishes - if your family is larger, these stack compactly and make emptying the dishwasher a breeze. I don't worry about the kids helping with these as they're easy for them to handle and aren't costly to replace.
Chores - my girls were not excited about this - but they feel part of the family and some ownership over the home as they participate. We all take pride in a "job well done," so this is a nice thing for new kids to experience. I buy the stick vacuums and let them help with anything within reach. Drying dishes is a nice way to spend time together while you wash. Even if you have to re-do the task when they're not looking, it helps them feel like they're contributing.
These may sound like silly little things, but they have really made my life easier since we arrived home. Reading about missionaries puts the busy days in perspective, and the tiny little luxuries of a favorite snack at night really cheer up a sometimes exhausting day.
If this sounds disjointed it's because I've been interrupted a zillion times while typing this, haha! I hope this helps a little - and will write more **when I find time** lol!!