It was a very long week! A good one, but it seems like life is just more exhausting than it ever has been before! The best way to describe our house is a big slumber party. There's lots of giggling, a little bit of fighting, and two parents who just want everyone to go to bed at night! Considering all the changes we are all going through, things have been great. There are only little issues that come up, but I have to admit I found myself very frustrated yesterday with the little issues and kind of lost my temper with the big girls. There is such a fine line trying to cut them some slack because of their circumstances and trying to teach them our expectations as a part of this family.
I suppose there are a few things people are curious about, so I will try to address a few of those things...
Food... The girls have both adapted to our food very easily. They eat everything we eat and are very good helpers in the kitchen. Candy has been one of those little issues with Becca, as she sneaks it in her pockets and eats it when she wants. Not a big deal, but it's something we don't let the other girls do, so we had to ask her to not do that anymore. Isabella says one of her favorite things is fajitas and Becca loves apple juice slushes from Sonic! We are very pleased with how easy it has been to cook for them and with them and our meals together are a fun time of talking and laughing and each of us telling our favorite part of our day.
School... We are so happy with how well the girls did in their first week of school! They both talk a mile a minute (another little issue of trying to teach manners and how to listen to all the sisters talk) when they come home. We are very pleasantly surprised at how much Isabella loves school. They are both starting to make friends and both say that the other one has a boy that likes her! Becca only had one trip to the nurses office for a skinned up knee from a rough basketball game at recess! P.E. is definitely her favorite part of school and I think Isabella likes her time with Mrs. Arl the best. They both wrote the alphabet perfectly and read several easy reader books to us this week. We are so thankful for the wonderful teachers they have and for the kids for making them feel so welcome. Their English is improving more and more each day, which is super!
Little girls... Ryleigh is probably having the most difficult time with all the changes. She was really sick at the beginning of the week, with a high fever and aching all over. She gets irritated when the big girls speak Latvian to eachother (and I don't blame her... that's another little issue!) and she gets annoyed at all the noise sometimes (and again, I don't blame her!). It seems like we have tv's, computers, and cd players blaring all the time! Reagan loved having me back with her at Bright Beginnings this week! She is so laid back and really seems to enjoy the company of her big sisters. All in all, the four of them get along well and enjoy playing, doing crafts, and just hanging out.
Adoption progress... we received word from Daina that we can file the 1800 paperwork for the girls. Which is just the next step in making this all official. No word yet on our second trip or if the girls will have to go (please keep praying that they don't). We have started working on the forms and hope to get done in the next day or two. We also have to set up a couple of visits with our social worker so she can monitor our bonding time. We are praying that the agency is not going to charge an arm and a leg for these reports. It is one of those things that we have to do and they can pretty much make us pay whatever they want. This is one of the unexpected expenses that we did not know about at the beginning, not that it would have made a difference!
Church... We wondered how the big girls were going to feel about all the time we spend at SHCC. We just started a Saturday night contemporary service, so we go on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday nights, not to mention all the time I spend there for meetings for preschool and Children's ministry and the other activities that go on that we are a part of. We don't want to burn them out on church, but we want them to understand how important SHCC is to our family. So far they are doing fine as long as we explain to them what we are doing. We are still trying to make them understand appropriate ways to act at church, like no running, no wild behavior, no talking out during the sermon, etc. Everytime someone says "Amen", Becca says "Amen", too! I know it is hard on them to not understand everything that is being said and I am praying that they know in time it will get easier and that they will come to know Christ in a deeply personal way.
Going back to work... Being back at Bright Beginnings full time last week was such a blessing! It was so nice to have some sort of normal again! Although, it was a very sad day on Friday as we had to say good-bye to Ms. Brenda. There are a lot of changes going on and it is exciting to see where God is leading us next! I am so grateful to the awesome, Godly women I work with that make me laugh every single day! We had a great staff meeting on Thursday and those of us who are going to the Women of Joy conference in April are getting super excited about this weekend of fun, fellowship, and of course seeing Steven Curtis Chapman and Candace Cameron! I say this often, but think it is worth mentioning again, I am so blessed to work in a Christian environment where I can do what I love with the best staff ever!
Mornings with 4 daughers...The girls all get up and get ready quickly for school and really our mornings are not too hectic! We have been on time every day, but have figured out that we really need to leave no later than 7:35 for everyone to get to the right place on time. Fixing hair is an issue, not just because it is time consuming, but because the big girls are very picky about how they like their hair. I am really trying to not make it a fight, but I want them to see that it is okay to try different things. They are both so beautiful and I wish they would let me fix their hair like Ryleigh and Reagan always have. Becca did tell me that her Latvia mom burned her with the curling iron, which probably explains some of her issues. It was more of a thing where it seemed like she had done it on purpose and I explained to her that I would never, ever hurt her on purpose and that she never has to be scared about that.
Basketball... We are trying to clear up all the misunderstandings and problems that occured while we were gone and are continuing to pray for guidance as to what God's plan is for Ryleigh. For me it all goes back to this... I want her to have fun and be a part of a team that enjoys playing a fun sport that can teach them lots of things about life. I want her to be the best she can be. I really appreciate all the people who have given advice and helped me see this situation from lots of different angles. It's so sad to think that this type of thing happens all the time in little kids' sports. Part of me feels better that we are not alone, but part of me feels sad that others have walked down this road, too.
Spring break... We don't have many plans for this coming week of Spring Break. The big girls have eye dr. (can't wait for them to meet Marla!!!!) and dr. appointments this week. We will be going to my aunt Dixie's funeral on Wednesday. She lost her battle with cancer on Friday. Please pray for my Uncle Bob and the rest of their family. I know she is celebrating with Jesus now and is pain-free. I am thankful for all the memories I have of her.
Other thoughts... This adoption journey has been a leap of faith from the very beginning. We have spent a lot of time in prayer lately for God to give us the wisdom to parent our children in a way that will be pleasing to Him. I read somewhere recently that adopting older children is more like a marriage and we are finding that to be very true. The girls already have personalities that we have nothing to do with and have learned things and been influenced by so many different parental figures. It's a slow process of blending us all together. I know that they say "I love you" but I don't think they really comprehend really loving someone yet. Sometimes their lack of appreciation, concern for others, and bad attitudes are really frustrating. I know that probably sounds harsh to some of you and to others, I know you know exactly what I mean! We knew there would be challenges and we prepared ourselves the best we knew how, but the truth is, the girls are each unique in the way they deal with things, so we know that there is no book or Hague training information that could really prepare us on how to handle the issues that come up. What works for one will most certainly not work with the other because they are so different. We just pray that the love we have for them will be consistent and real to them so they can begin to heal from their past. They are generally good, sweet, funny, happy girls, which is a miracle in itself!
We appreciate all the self-proclaimed blog-stalkers who have been faithfully checking our blog and apologize that I have not had time to post lately! Thanks for continuing to pray for our family!