Moments and Milestones

So this is my third attempt at an update in as many months.  If you are one of the people wondering if we have survived this part of the transition, the answer is yes.  Mostly.  We hit the 5 month mark last week, which means we're almost halfway through the infamous first year!

I have yet to find anything about adoption that isn't messy--both literally and figuratively.  The amount of emotional energy required to parent all 5 of our kids through this part of the journey is astronomical.  Not to mention that fact that I don't just parent these 5.  I homeschool them, too.  Most days, I'm an emotional zombie by 8pm.  But as draining as it's been, overall, the past few months have been good.  That doesn't mean that all good things have happened.  In fact, I'd say we still have more hard days than easy days at this stage.  We have more issues to work through each day than moments to just sit back and enjoy.  But we knew this would be hard, and honestly, we expected a lot of this to be harder than it's been.

While I will probably never share most my kids' stories on the Internet, I will say that their first life was unimaginably awful in so many ways.  The things they've survived come from the worst parts of life in this broken world.  Some of the things we've struggled though with them have been very much expected.  Other things we've expected just haven't happened at all.  And it's all a crazy mix of mostly good and hard things filled with emotions that don't actually have names...but it's our life, and we'd totally do this again, even knowing what we know now.

So, for those of you wondering how we are faring, here are few milestones and random moments from the past few months:

*In March, I took my first long roadtrip with the kids.  Just me and 5 crazy kids driving 10 hours to NC to visit my sister and her family!  The car ride down was a nightmare, but once I stopped the car 47 times to explain to them how we behave in close quarters and to tweak the seating arrangements, we did ok!  We survived!  And they had so much fun at Tia Ashley's house!

*Our 2 oldest Ticos are reading and writing in English!  Gina definitely understands the most English, but they're all doing really well with us speaking English to them.  They rarely ask for a translation these days.  They have just started trying to put together some sentences in English.  Because they know they are understood here at home, they haven't been super motivated to use their English.  We are hoping this changes here in the spring/summer as we register them for sports and other activities.

*Speaking of sports, we are so ready for the futbol season to begin!  Next month, we are planning to sign Wagner and Gina up for soccer!  Asher and José David are going to try out martial arts because they have too much energy and want to be ninjas, and Landyn will continue her horseback riding lessons.

*We've had 2 ER visits in the past month: Asher for a concussion and JD for stitches in his face.  Ugh.  These.  Boys.  Are.  Killing.  Me.  Thankfully, everyone survived that, too.  I've become quite good at taking all 5 kids to hospitals, doctor's appointments, preschool screenings, etc.  Just the thought of taking all 5 anywhere used to terrify me.  Now, it's just how we roll.  

*Bedtime seems to get easier and easier each month...with a few random exceptions.  For awhile, our littlest guy was throwing raging fits at bedtime.  That has stopped altogether.  And we also have a professional staller, who I think is finally learning that Mommy and Daddy aren't dumb.  


*My most-used phrase lately:  "We are on the same team."  Our Ticos came to us really not understanding anything about how a family is supposed to work.  But they do understand futbol and the idea of how a team functions together.  It's been amazing to see them grasp that and cling to it, and it has completely transformed the way my children play with each other.

*We are thankful for the sunshine and warmer temps.  My poor Costaricans were starting to wilt and lose their marbles in February.  This was the longest winter ever.  We have been riding bikes and hiking and going to the park (which we are about to do again in an hour or so).  I think for awhile, they thought we had made up the whole "spring comes after winter...and then summer after spring" thing.  

*The sibling integration (which I plan to write a whole blog post on one of these days when I have enough energy left) has been by far the hardest part, which we expected.  But honestly, they are all doing really, really well with this.  They are all struggling with different aspects of it.  Some with rivalry/competition, jealousy, the desire to be in control, finding their place, figuring out who the heck they are now...  And they drive each other crazy on good days, but they play and fight and forgive and love and hurt and heal and live to do it all over again another day.  Yesterday, actually, was the first day (I think, ever) when they all played without fighting, arguing, complaining, tattle-taling or shouting for 3 solid hours!!!!  Hallelujah!

*As a mom, I have learned that I cannot do this on my own.  With my first 2, I never questioned my ability to parent them.  With all 5, I question it hourly, and as I told Wagner on one of our harder days, I think at this stage, we will get it wrong more often then we'll get it right.  Oh how I need the grace of Jesus every single second.  Without it, I'm an ugly, frustrated, graceless mama...and none of these kids needs me to be that person.  I have to remind my perfectionist self often that this is a process, and we are still in the very early stages of it.

*Wagner and Gina told us their story about 6 weeks ago.  Probably all of it that they remember.  It was everything from their extensive files and then some.  It was gutwrenching to hear from their own mouths.  There were some angry words about their first mama...and then tears of grief when they realized that we aren't mad at her and that she suffered, too.  It was a huge step towards healing and wholeness, and one that we didn't expect to take with them this early in our journey.  We are thankful for this.  This is where their healing begins and ends...letting those dark places be penetrated by the Light.

*We had our 6-month post-adoption visit last week!  Crazy, huh?  In less than a month, it will have been 6 months since we first went to the albergue to meet these beautiful little strangers!  I am totally in awe of what God has done in that time.  A lot of it hasn't been pretty, but I guess taking back what the Enemy has stolen never is.  He doesn't like redemption stories.  Thankfully, redemption stories are what the Kingdom of heaven is all about.  

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