Saturday, December 7, 2013

Potty trained

So sorry we haven't posted is such a long time. We have been so busy... and I have also tried to post on our blog and something seems amiss.... it wants to run all the paragraphs together and I can't even do a hard return to separate them. Anyway, just a quick update... after a year and 3 months home.... our daugher is now potty trained! I can't tell you have much a difference this has made to all of us. It's wonderful giving up changing those diapers - but more importantly, our little miss is embracing the idea of "growing up" and is so much more confident! I guess she needed to be a baby for a good long while in her new family --- and I am totally ok with that. :) If I don't post again before Christmas - wishing all of you a very merry Christmas in celebrating our Lord's birth! Renae.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Book reviews for a beloved PAP

I don't know what is wrong with our blog - I can't seem to format anyting - so this all runs together (sorry). I really want to blog on events, update pictures ... tell about Lauren's birthday, gotcha day, our fall break.... all the things of family -- but I have no time!! I do however, love helping other PAPs... so per request from a beloved PAP - I'm posting about adoption books we've read. It was actually easier for me to pull some of this info. from our service plan document - so here is goes.... We loved reading all these books in preparation for Lauren - and let me tell you -- each one just increased our knowledge and anticipation for our little girl's arrival. Family of Adoption by Joyce Maguire Pavao This book was very helpful in it describes various issues and challenges based on the age of the adopted child. We particularly liked the discussions on the birth mother, the need to know they were born a normal birth like every other human. The family tree discussion will certainly be helpful when that issue comes up in school. Similarly the discussion on daydreaming was particularly interesting and helpful. The urge to search discussion and ideas for how to describe the birth mother (by not using the typical explanation, “you birth mother was very young and very poor”), seemed to be quite helpful and logical – although was not obvious to us before our reading on this topic. The characteristics of an adopted child were quite helpful as well…to allow us to understand when issues of anger or intimacy, or fantasy may come up as she grows and matures. It seems as the truth is the key concept of the book throughout the various stages of their development – truth, respect, and understanding. 20 Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge All of the 20 things are profound; here are the items that spoke to us: Grief and loss may surface into anger towards the adoptive parent. This helps us to understand when behavior issues arise; we likely are dealing with grief. Yet Eldridge also says firm and loving discipline is needed to reassure Lauren that we can handle her. This appears like a very delicate balance between being able to recognize grief and loss…and also the idea of control and challenge of boundaries. This will be something we will need to work together on to determine what we are dealing with. Also the fear of abandonment is one that we will have to be mindful of – we anticipate either a pleaser or someone trying to push us away to test our love and see if we will reject her. While clearly we’d rather have a pleaser, but we know that even that has its challenges, we just want to build self-esteem and validate all that Lauren is so that she feels safe and secure in who she is and can be free to make mistakes and be herself. Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall Inside Transracial Adoption is like an encyclopedia for adoptive families. It comes with so many issues it’s difficult to summarize here. The primary themes are the normal stages that children of color go through when adopted into a white family and also the importance of providing your child of color with real, meaningful relationships with people that are like them. This involves the family understanding to live multi-culturally, being deliberate in bringing multiple races into the family circle of friends, and also looking at the world through your child’s eyes and equipping them for their future in this society. There were so many helpful tips, examples, ideas, thoughts… one of particular is to “not worry about being perfect and doing everything right …our own security about being good enough will provide security to our child”. This resonated with us, because we do want to do things right by Lauren, and want to give her all the nurture and self-worth possible – so we have to be careful about over doing it, or worrying about whether we are doing all the right things. At some point we have to pray for discernment, seek advice from others, and trust our instincts. This is really a fabulous book that we are sure will serve as a reference tool through the years as challenges come up. Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray The personal vignettes included on various family situations encountered by adoptive families proved particularly insightful, as you want to know how the theories and concepts are integrated within the family. The therapist peering down the throat of a young girl and stating “I see a good heart down there” moved me. The author appears to have a solid grounding on practical techniques and good insight on adopted children’s issues…and how best to approach them. The developmental stages will be very helpful to us as we proceed with evaluating Lauren’s child development stage, and where we need to begin our parenting to help her complete that stage so she can progress to the next one. This book shall be a good reference for many years as we look for advice and approaches to best parent our adopted daughter. Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best We learned several helpful insights from The Weaver’s Craft. In summary, here are key points we gathered from the book: For discipline: use physical redirects by leading a child away from undesirable behavior; utilize referential speaking, speaking about the child within earshot to others praising the child; state positively and concisely what you want from the child – such as sit quietly in your seat versus don’t be doing something On transition: work on transition objects, including toys, sheets, blankets and even toothbrushes; smell may be important so don’t wash prior to them being taken; offer to replace the items with new ones. Could be a significant part of the transition process. We are planning a few things of transition – we plan on sending the orphanage a photo album of our family, Lauren’s room, our van – and her car seat, etc… Then we also plan on bring toys when we arrive at the orphanage… one set to play with her during short visits two days before we take her with us. We plan to leave the toys at Bal Asha – but also have an identical set in our hotel, so when we do take her with us, they same toys will be at our hotel, and we won’t be faced with bringing her a few toys and then taking them away… plus it is a way for us to donate to the orphanage. We are not planning many, many toys…just a few interesting learning toys, blocks, stacking cups…typical things that 2-3 year old children enjoy. Hopkins also suggests taking pictures of her care givers, honoring them, etc… of course this will also be a key item for her Life Book when we return home. On language: Lauren will likely stop speaking for awhile while she “regroups” and begins acquiring English; it may be several weeks or months before she begins speaking to us, depending on where she is developmentally. Hopkins suggests testing for developmental delays may be best later, after she has time to adjust; she may be affected by environmental conditioning, including institutional conditioning On Developmental stage: Hopkins suggests knowing the child’s developmental stage is important; child may exhibit self-comforting behaviors (self-rocking, sucking on her own body parts) to soothe herself; may have given up on adults soothing her so she attempts self-care; may resist being fed; may need to regress toward infant dependency to transfer dependency on newly adoptive parents; very important to have caregiver give permission to Lauren for transition to adoptive parents On Play: Hopkins suggest play is an important developmental method for toddlers; activities such as mud, sand and finger painting all encourage creative play; use the “stop/start” game to allow toddler sense of mastery of when to begin/end involved play; page 158 provides ideas on toys to encourage development at age-appropriate levels; work toward child directed play in which the toddler uses their imagination, such as playing with dolls and dress up; stimulation can be done through a baby swing if the child is an infant or small enough; very good to have that rocking motion while standing in front of the swing so they can smile and demonstrate involvement On Structure, Rituals, Family: Hopkins suggests structure and consistency are essential to the adoptive toddler; important to shown consistency as toddler may have come from chaos before; discuss upcoming events ahead of time; don’t led toddler wake up to unfamiliar/strange people: work to tell them if this will occur ahead of time; work toward consistency and constancy by “a place for everything and everything in its place” for toys, shoes and other important artifacts; incorporate rituals and traditions into the family, such as special foods, celebrations of culture, “brother-sister” day celebrating the adoption into the family, and other events; limit interaction with others the first few weeks; family should bond with adopted child; Our Own: Adopting the Older Child by Trish Maskew Many insightful things were gathered from this book, in summary the following were new take aways: Maskew suggests that independence and dependence might be in conflict with each other; child may demonstrate very good behavior the first few weeks and then regress; may also regress in language as she begins to learn English—may enter a quiet phase until she speaks more English Some tips on bonding: Tips – Building Attachment  Read a bedtime story every night  Have family meetings  Put on kids’ music and clap to it  Have a new family portrait made early on  Have fun together  Rock the child to sleep  Put up any valuables so as not get broken  Establish set routines  Change bad behaviors over time and not all at once  Let housekeeping go and focus on child  Find opportunities to touch  Exercise together Parenting Your Adopted Older Child by Brenda McCreight This book was very well laid out with practical tips on dealing with a wide variety of issues. It seems to cover a wide array of topics in a succinct manner. We really liked the family identity chapter and ideas for creating a strong sense of family. The chapter on play was interesting, because it never occurred to us that our daughter may not know “how” to play given limited resources in an orphanage (this was certainly the case with Lauren – no knowing how to play). I guess we assumed that in that setting, there would still be toys and interaction among children, that the children would learn the concept of play. We recognize this may or may not be the case with Lauren, but it’s nice to know in advance this may be the case – so we know the importance of possibly needing to slowly teach her to play. It seemed the book wrapped up with a concept we believe is crucial to a successful transition with Lauren, and that is the concept of creating a sense of belonging. Actually, the book put it as moving the child from a sense of aloneness to a sense of belonging. It seems that many of the disorders described in the book (ADHD, etc) are generally found in all children, not necessarily only in adopted children….and the concept of attachment, bonding, etc… we fully understand how this occurs as an infant, but we question if this is a life-long issue, as families allow children to retreat to a bedroom only to play video games or watch TV, while parents work overtime or focus on their own desires. For us, we pray that our family values and traditions set us apart from some of the things of the world that seem to pull families apart. Raising children well must be a high family priority and deliberate in many actions. So the creation of a sense of belonging can only be accomplished by a structured environment that is loving, open, consistent, and a high priority to the family as a unit. Letters from Motherless Daughters (although a heart-breaker - really good for understanding loss and trauma) Although many letters are from daughters that have no mother as a result of their death, there are also several stories of abandoned daughters. These are particularly pointed and as one daughter wrote, “I think that it’s harder to be abandoned by your mother than to have her die. Death is final, and you know in your heart and soul that your mother is never coming back. When she just leaves, you always have hope that one day you will be reunited.” Although this is really hard to accept, Lauren will always wonder about her mother, as this book describes, many times in her life she will long for her mother, such as her wedding or birth of her own child. There are times and events throughout her life in which she will be particularly sad that she is unable to share them with her birthmother. We must acknowledge and validate that sadness, knowing there is nothing we can do to make this hurt go away. – a great website for all things Indian

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day!!

Well... I can't believe it's been this long since I've posted on our blog.... life is busy! Some of our latest news is.... Lauren is playing on a soccer team, yep... she's going to be 4 in ten short days and she barely made the age cut-off ... and she was really wanting to play, so we signed her up. I was traveling for work, so I missed the first practice..but from the reviews I got from Brad, Joshua, and my mom... she was a hit! The smallest one on the field, but mighty! There is another adoptee - from Ethiopia on her team, so she took to her right away... and I hear by the end of the practice they were hugging each other. I cannot believe it's a been a year since we met Lauren for the first time! Happy Gotcha Day, little miss. I remember that day oh so well.... your sweet scared little heart... and how daddy held you and walked you around BAT until you fell asleep. That is when you napped on the clock! Now of course, life is too much fun to nap at a consistent time when you are home with family, right?? We are so very proud of how far you've come this year... but also where you've taken us as your family. We are forever changed by you being in our lives and we are so thankful that God gave us you! For tonight's celebration, we will be going to a local Indian restaurant... that's of course after we put on your doggy and kitty-cat tatoos! Pictures to follow.....yall.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lauren grows up, just a bit

Have you ever had one of those experiences with your children when you look at them one day and say to yourself, "something is certainly different".  Well, we had such an experience with Lauren recently.  Joshua spent from July 6th to July 18th with Brad's parents... and somewhere around July 13th, I recall... Brad had to leave for a week long business trip to Kansas City.  So.... I had Lauren all to myself from the time Brad left for his trip until we picked up Joshua in Indy on the 18th.  Lauren missed her brother, badly... but did get used to it, especially since she did get to talk to him on the phone periodically...and she knew he was at "Papa's".  Lauren missed daddy, but an interesting thing happened..... she didn't really show it until July 17! The night before we were heading to pick up Joshua .... she sat up in bed and said with this intense cry.... "want Bye-ah".... and just sobbed.... then she went on to cry, "Daddy, daddy, daddy".... I could not comfort her.  So we called Brad and he talked to her a bit on the phone to calm her.  Before he left for weeks (maybe months).... they had become best of friends... Brad would take her to the park, take her with him on his evening walk around the neighborhood, play with her in the back yard, take her swimming.... she just couldn't wait for daddy to get home from work each night. 

Now I'm the caretaker - but not as good at the playing and having fun stuff.  Each parent takes on a role - and I'm the one dealing with the house, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, school activities, etc.  So when I realized that she would be totally bored with me all week without Joshua OR Brad.... my girls in my small group insisted that I send her to VBS at church each evening.  So I did. 

She came home the first night showing me how to do jumping jacks! She was so proud of herself and just smiled and smiled.  Night two.... she came home showing how to "touch your toes".... one of my friends husband had the toddlers during part of VBS to do toddler sports....well this was just up her alley.  They played basketball and soccer.... of course after "warming up".  More than one of the guys from our church told me what a great dribbler Lauren is.... and how she has basketball scholarship written all over her... being in the BBN (Big Blue Nation).... basketball is HUGE -- so of course that's a great compliment... but I also informed these guys... she's predicted to be around 4 foot 8 or MAYBE 4 foot 10, unless she really takes off the normal growth pattern.... so not so sure about the basketball scholarship :) 

Each night I asked her if she wanted to go to church and do jumping jacks and she eagerly shook her head yes... so night after night -- she learned more about Jesus, learned songs and even did the motions, and  of course got to participate in toddler sports.  She loved every minute of it....and here is what I learned about Lauren:

1.) She loves organized activities or organized sports
2.) She is VERY adaptable
3.) She totally understands what others tell her - even if she doesn't know them
4.) She is tolerant
5.) She is strong
6.) She is brave

Closing ceremony was amazing.  Here is a picture of their worship time -- and I will post a link that hopefully you can connect to in order to see one of their closing ceremony songs.  (of course she's the little one in the front row in yellow t-shirt in this video - and yes, that quick wave was a "shout out" to momma in the audience - I waved to her first and she noticed, so she waved back, but then got right back into her song :))

So when Brad returned, we picked him up at the airport of Friday night right after the VBS closing ... Joshua of course ran to him and hugged him ....and was very excited to see him.  Usually, Lauren would follow suit and do what Joshua does...but this time she was a bit different.  She went to Brad - hugged his legs a bit -- and then was ready to come back to me.  Every since his return she has declared that she's "momma's baby".... previously she would most often say, "daddy's baby".... and she has been clinging more to me.  She's punishing Brad for leaving her -- and it shows.  She's protecting her little heart from getting close again - so she won't have to miss him so much the next time.  Brad is patiently working his way back into her trust, but it's very interesting to watch.  Oh she loves him so.... and she just wants to jump back into their old routines...but she's cautious.  She's getting there... I mean the girl loves to go outside and with this KY heat right now... Brad is about the only one that will take her on these long walks or to the park to play....and especially now since we've watched her reaction, Brad wants to be the only one to take her to the park until things get back to "normal".  We're getting there -- she is laughing with him, hugging him, and off on his shoulders for their walk.  So we're not concerned, just keeping a watchful eye :) 

When Brad returned he said to me, "she's can that be that in one week she's grown up?... but really there is something so much different about her.... she's not a baby, she's a little girl"...confident and assured...learning and thriving - yep little Lauren grows up these last few weeks, just a bit. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Some Lauren miscellaneous happenings.....

Lauren is doing well..... still working on English.... her new favorite phrases are:

Not bunny (not funny) bye-ah  (especially uses this when he's teasing her)
Come - ear (here)
Stand up
Outside - outside!!
Daddy, daddy, daddy
Wimming, wimming (swimming)
and it goes on and one.... she's so very smart! 

We went back to pullups -- potty training wasn't going so well.  Here is the deal..... her IAC doctor told us that her adopted daughter was 4 1/2 before she was potty trained.  Meanwhile, we were going through this struggle of her doing well at school  (but of course they took her every 30 minutes)...but she would come home and we'd ask if she had to go to the bathroom - she would say "no" then go pee or poop in the living room- of course make a big mess in her underwear, pants, dresses, whatever she had on - and then she would get sad.  She began to act out - and I just noticed her little spirit deflate -- and I didn't even shame her or anything.  Then one night - going to bed she said, "momma's baby" and pointed to herself.  I asked her - do you want to be momma's baby?  she said, "yes" - and I said, "do you want to be in pullups or panties?" and in her Indian voice she said pullups - not very clear - but I could tell that is what she picked.  So it occurred to me - she wants to be a baby still a little while longer -- and when she's ready.... she will probably be potty trained in a matter of days. Until then.... we wait. 

One funny story that just shows the innocence of a child.... I was changing a PARTICULARLY stinky diaper one day and I said, "whew.... Doggies".... and she sat up, looked down at her dirty diaper and said, "puppies???" - it was hilarious.... she thought she had puppies somehow in her diaper!  She's a hoot!  Everyone loves that story - and I want to save in for future laughs and document here.  Oh how I love this sweet innocent child.

Another happening is we went to the Louisville zoo - and played at the splash park. Now this is a sensory girl's heaven for sure!!  She absolutely LOVED it. 

Reading maps waiting for the tram -- what bye-ah does, Lauren does.

Making water come up the pants / errr. swim suit ... crazy kiddos.

where did that water go??

Down the slide!!

Joshua down the silde too ..... in 2013

    Joshua - same slide.... in 2007...same boy....same love for adventure

Sibling love....sortof.... where is daddy for my rescue??

Interactive water play at Louisville zoo splash much fun!!
This picture of Lauren and our friend, Beverly is very special.  Beverly is a family friend that helped fund part of Lauren's adoption expenses.  Even though Lauren has no idea about Bev's generosity..... Lauren took to her instantly...... it's like some bond between them just came about at their first meeting :) 

As Lauren continues to love to mimic Joshua and do all the things he does.... she also has her own personality and interests..... like her piano playing.... "ABC remix"  .... of course the fact that she doesn't have a shirt on is a direct correlation to Joshua.... if he takes his shirt off for night time PJs.... she notices when he comes downstairs....and she decides she wants her shirt off too!  Oh how she LOVES her brother.

Last Lauren story..... at church this week in her small group classroom the teachers told us this story.... of course Brad was beaming.....

Teachers were talking about what to be thankful for to the children.  Mind you - these are 3 and 4 year olds.  When the teacher got to Lauren she said, "Lauren can you think of something you are thankful for?" and Lauren replied, "I love my daddy"..... oh my stars... this girl gets it totally!  She has such love and compassion for others, she's sensitive to others' needs, and she loves deeply.  I just can't wait to see what all God does in her life.

p.s. ...for the record, she still wants momma at night-night :)  ..... and oh how I love that time.... of course it's usually after she's been in Joshua's room with Joshua and daddy listening to the nightly made up story... :) when the lights go out.... she wants momma. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Head banging is gone... I was made to love you

It occurred to me recently that as we are working through our night time routine with Lauren - as she cuddles on my lap for a bit before going to her big girl bed --- that the head banging is basically GONE!  My heart just sat with this concept for a bit ..... praising God that she is bonding, attaching... and her stress in the transition is easing.... and her little heart is healing..... she's at home with her forever family. 

I can't help but think about the trauma we experience in life..... neglect, abuse, a loss, a tragic event (like these tornados and storms), car accidents, illness..... our losses go on and on.  But God created an amazing human spirit...... if you ever doubt that, look into the innocent eyes of a child, watch them cope with life's challenges with a smile and determination, watch how funny they can be....and how they laugh at the smallest how they love others unconditionally. My heart is full of joy at the person that Lauren is -- and another idea came to my mind.... I was made to love her!    

In the world of adoption, there are many times when things are challenging and even we as parents may want to head bang :) -- just to find some relief.  But I'm often reminded that this challenge will pass - and our Lord is the great comforter.....beyond all earthly things....and just what if all this was actually planned by the great designer of all??? 

We have a new favorite song - it's Toby Mack's - Made to Love You.  We love this song and she is so great... she loves the "la-la-la,la,la" chorus...and tries to sing the verses.... I know the song is about being made to love the Lord... I totally get that.  But don't you also think we can apply these types of song as parents to our children -- I mean, after all....we are children of the wonderful, amazing living God -- and so many analogies in the Bible refer to parent / child relationships.... shepherds and sheep.... etc.  So I'm taking the liberty of really settling in on the idea that I was made to love Lauren..... now I mean more than just a parent with the ability to love.... what I mean is much deeper than that.  My life experiences ....however dark, and broken, and losses and my hurts are JUST what I will use one day to explain God's great plan for her.... and how I will minister to her own broken heart.  Not to get too personal here -- but let's just say we all have brokenness beyond all human repair -- the kind of hurts and sadness in our life that ONLY the Lord and His amazing grace can heal. I'm learning each day through a variety of avenues that God LOVES ME! ..... as I am, yet wants me to be different than I am... because He loves me that much....and He wants me to experience a new kind of joy - and a new kind of relationship with him..... so as I embrace this very fact....and as I love myself more and more -- I will be fully equipped through the grace of God to better parent Lauren. My life.... was made to love my little miss.... all before we were ever born??  When I rest in this truth -- and I think also about Brad and how he is with Lauren and the relationship they have .... he too adds unique and very special life experiences to be able to parent Lauren in different ways (like his LOVE for the outdoors, hiking, etc.... Lauren LOVES being outside)... and we both also have things about us that specially gift us to parent Joshua. 

So I leave all you adoption families (some home....others still in the waiting).... with the idea that God LOVES YOU TOO! And..... he just very well may have made YOU to love that special someone you are waiting for (or that special child already home in your arms).  I encourage you to look at your own life experiences and sit in the joy that those life experiences may be the greatest thing to connect you to your child.  Isn't our Lord amazing??

Toby Mack's - Made to Love You   (just imagine Lauren singing..... the nah, nah, nah parts :) to come in the future :)

The dream is fading, now I'm staring at the door
I know its over cause my feet have hit the cold floor
Check my reflection, I ain't feelin what I see
It's no mystery
Whatever happened to a passion I could live for
What became of the flame that made me feel more
And when did I forget that...

I was made to love you

I was made to find you

I was made just for you

Made to adore you

I was made to love

And be loved by you

You were here before me

You were waiting on me

And you said you'd keep me

Never would you leave me I was made to love

and be loved by you

The dream's alive with my eyes opened wide
Back in the ring you've got me swinging for the grand prize
I feel the haters spittin vapors on my dreams
But I still believe
I'm reachin out, reachin up, reachin over
I feel a breeze cover me called Jehovah
And daddy I'm on my way

Cause I was made to love...

I was made to love you

I was made to find you

I was made just for you

Made to adore you

I was made to love

And be loved by you

You were here before me

You were waiting on me

And you said you'd keep me

Never would you leave me I was made to love

and be loved by you

I was made to love you

I was made just for you

Made to adore you

I was made to love

And be loved by you

You were here before me

You were waiting on me

And you said you'd keep me

Never would you leave me I was made to love

and be loved by you

(nah, nah, nah, nah - nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

(nah, nah, nah, nah - nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Anything I would give up for you (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Everything, I'd give it all away (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Anything I would give up for you (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Everything, I'd give it all away (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Anything I would give up for you (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Everything, I'd give it, I'd give it all away, Oh yeah

Cause I was made to love you (I was made to love you)

Yeah I was made to love you (I was made to find you)

Cause I was made to love you (I was made to adore you, made just for you) (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

I was made to love you (I was made to adore you, made just for you)

Cause I was made to love you (I was made to adore you, made just for you) (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

I was made to love you (I was made to adore you)

Yeah I'm loved by you

Yeah I'm loved by you (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Yeah I' m loved by you (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

(nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

(nah, nah, nah, nah, nah)

Friday, May 17, 2013

First leaving Lauren overnight

The trip was booked for a few weeks, the anxiety was growing... I had to leave to go across the country to San Juan Island, Washington for work.... and my family was staying home (my mom, Brad, Joshua AND Lauren)... all stayed at our house while I was gone.  The preparations were many.... I made lunches for Lauren and put them in her locker at school --- for all four days I planned to be gone.... I put 14 pair of new underwear in a baggie at school in her locker - because potty training just takes that many some weeks... along with a baggie of pants, socks, and shirts.... all set for the school accidents to come.  I washed Joshua's school uniform ready for the full week.... and I stocked up on groceries... I purchased small gifts for Joshua and Lauren -- labeled them for each day... and left them in the secret hiding place.  I talked to Lauren several nights in a row...."you know you are my forever daughter"...."u-huh"... "and I will come back for you after my work trip".... "I will be gone 4 days, ok"..... over and over again each night we went through this routine and she continued to say, "no" after each time I told her I'd be gone.... this wasn't going so well.  Until finally the night before I left we went through our routine and I said, "you know mommy's going away for four days.... let's count those on our fingers"...."and I will come back to you, right?".....and she finally said, "nefs"... which is her "yes"..... ahhhhh.... I think she really understands not to fear about mommy leaving.

While I was gone -- I talked on the phone when I could - but I got a whole new appreciation for the challenges of working with such a different time zone - and trying to call the eastern time zone area..... had a whole new appreciation for what our adoption agency rep goes through when calling families (since she's on the west coast)...... anyway... we talked maybe twice.... and I was amazed at how well she was doing.  My mom and Lauren bonded even deeper - and of course she and Joshua slept in our king bed each night.... what a great excuse to sleep in mommy's room.  I was so proud of how both kids handled my being gone.  (Joshua does have shorts on for bedtime below :))  daddy's wrapped like a burrito, Lauren is hot... Joshua snuggled in the middle of the king bed....ugh!

With each milestone... I feel Lauren is proclaiming this as her forever family -- with grace and confidence...and self-assured-ness :)  -- all by her actions.  She was great at school all week - didn't act out and continued to work on potty training.... Brad said she was also well-behaved at home.  That has continued since I got home last night.  She has a bit of a matured demeanor - if that makes any sense.  Who knows - maybe I'm imagining it -- but I do know that often the adoptions books (the ones that tell you don't leave your adopted child for at least a year after they are home).... don't get it right for all circumstances and families. 

I'm also reminded once again at how lucky I am to have Brad -- and my mom nearby.  Brad was great with the kids, playing, helping to fix lunches for Joshua, and even trimmed Lauren's bangs! My mom took the kids to school each day and picked them up --- and by Wednesday night (day 3)... when I called her she said, "Brad and I are exhausted"....LOL - that cracked me up - after three days of the kid routine I do each and every day after day..... they both were "exhausted" -- such a labor of love - God provides all the strength we need right?  Has to be something divine going on for those hard working mommas.

Anyway... we survived.... all of us.... and my little girl seemed to change overnight with confidence and greater assurance.  God is so very good.

p.s. - Trip was great other than some flight delays and challenges. 
Baby plane I had to take from Seattle to San Juan Island - talk about scary - but so thankful my flight was delayed and I took the early Tuesday am flight -- colleagues on flight the day before got sick on the plane it was soooo bumpy, gusty, and stormy.... I would have freaked out.... thankful I was spared that challenge.

Weather was great, shopping amazing (went shopping with a friend while other colleagues went on a whale watching boat ride), and work time very productive with exciting assignments and neat strategic plans for the future.  I'm excited about our company's year ahead --- and I'm blessed to have such a great place to work....and a husband that supports my career while also appreciates my desire to be mommy too.   

Whale watchers coming back from their adventure....

View out our hotel.....

So now having done it ..... I know I can do it again when the duty calls :) 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My heart longing to be Indian

So last night we had a great time with our neighbors taking all the kids to the park for a picnic. And while there - an Indian family came to swing, play, etc. It is the first time I've seen an ENTIRE Indian family at our nearby park.... many times there are children and a mom -- but not the ENTIRE family unit. First dad was there and playing with the two children -- probably about ages 5 (a little girl) and 7 (a young boy) -- they played on the climbing structure -- and on the teeter totter -- they were swinging in swings. Then while they were Lauren continued to keep her eye right on them.... while I was pushing her in a swing... the mommy walked right in front of us.... in her beautiful Indian dress.... and Lauren watched her from left to right as the momma greeted her family.... they laughed and ran around...all 4 of them enjoying each other.... while Lauren watched and watched, not taking her eyes off of them.... while I continued to push her in the toddler swing.....and my heart broke.

Lauren was quiet and kept her head fixed on this family --- and my heart began to ache like nothing before. I can't be Indian for her. I don't think I have ever wanted so badly to just be Indian. I am not so naive to think that all the love and happiness we pour into her is enough ... she's Indian and I know will have a longing for what her family "should" have been in India. Brad joined me at the swing and I shared my observation. Of course he poured all his love into her -- doing all the things they normally do at the park together....and I joined in too - chasing her, etc. Trying desperately to make up for the fact that her mom ...... a.b.a.n.d.o.n.e.d...her...... how that fact pains my heart so deeply for her.

Then today, while going through her room - getting ready for Nanna's rummage sale next weekend, we cleared her armoire and I ran across her bangles that sweet Nickie (and Charu and family) mailed to us... we opened the package and much to my surprise it wasn't a solid bracelet as the package would lead you to believe --- it was TONs of thin bangles all lined up. So we began to put them on Lauren... she LOVED it. I also put on her Indian party dress and asked her if she wanted to wear it to church tomorrow.... and I asked her, "do you want mommy to wear her Indian dress to church too?".....she replied yes. ..... so we wrapped up our project and I confirmed one more time, "do you want to wear this sparkly dress tomorrow??"....and she pointed to her soft cotton American ruffle dress..... so she goes for comfort after all.... although the Indian dress is beautiful and embellished with all kinds of sequins etc.... we'll see how she feels in the morning. I'm processing this pain --- and the pain I'm sure she will one day face when she's older -- and I'm realizing, I will give her all I've got as a mom, leader, guide, friend, and parent..... I will empty myself for this child .... but the one thing that she may always long for I can't give to her .... an Indian momma.... so I'm absolutely sold out on the idea that the loss she experienced along with any other loss she will have in her life can ONLY be filled by Jesus..... can only be HEALED by Jesus..... and HE is sufficient!

"Ease is for heaven, not earth.  Life on earth is fundamentally out of shape and out of order by reason of sin.... so pains, disappointments, trauma..... etc. etc. await us in the future, just as they have overtaken us already in the past".... from a book I'm currently reading called... "God's Healing for Life's Losses" by Robert W. Kellemen..... it is amazing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Potty train success and some other stuff :)

Just a quick update on life with Lauren.  :) 

We are in the throws of potty training, and she is doing so well.... we are so proud of her.  For those new to our blog - she's 3 1/2 and been home for about 7 months.  Our transition has been overall very good.... we have our days, but hey....every parent has those days, right? 

Her school is really helping with the potty training process.  They take her every 20 minutes to the bathroom - and if she's dry and goes - she gets a jelly bean.... if she doesn't go - then they try in another 10 minutes.  They are gradually extending the time and she is doing great!  She of course LOVES getting the candy -- "dandy" as she puts it.  At home we follow the same routine - only we take her about every 30-40 minutes.  She even went to the park recently for a good long time with no accidents..... this girl LOVES being outside. So we are well on our way to fully potty trained success.

I recall when we started the adoption process.... our agency told us that the ages of 2-3 really are a great age to bring a child home.  They are still young enough to be a "baby" yet old enough to know enough about what is going on with joining a new family, etc.  I think Lauren secretly likes for me to call her "my baby" - but she also loves to be independent - and do things on her own... so there is a real delicate balance between nuture and also letting this little bird fly.... we are so proud of how she's doing.

She is still taking speech therapy at her school to work on English development.  She's started to really take off with the english language -- trying to say anything...... and her crying or fussing when things don't go her way is really diminishing, especially when I tell her, "I don't understand, you must use your English".... then she stops fussing and tries to tell me what she needs. 

Today will be interesting.... we have Joshua's soccer game.  Two weeks ago, I took Lauren to Joshua's soccer practice and Brad had to work late so wasn't planning on coming to practice.  Well, Lauren was a "hot mess" as we say here in Kentucky.  She wanted to go on the soccer field and didn't understand WHY she couldn't play.  How do you explain organized sports to this girl???  Well she twisted and turned trying to get out of her stroller (which I brought to be able to contain her the best I could).... that only made her mad.  She's a strong willed little tyke.  So I got her out and also discovered she was wet....took her to the van for a change -- and called Brad to try to come home to get her and help me out.  It was rough... she wanted to play soccer with her brother soooo bad.  Every since, we have taken her to my mom's on nights for practice and she didn't attend his first game last Saturday.  Well today, my mom has plans.... so Brad and I plan to tag team with her and see how it goes at the game.  Folks, this is how it is with a little sensory seeker -- you have to be creative and sometimes change your environment, miss out on some things, etc.... because until they develop and learn how to process "the world" you have to decide what types of public things you can tolerate sharing all your struggles.... and it's really ok to miss a game or two -- we've learned in our family that EVERYONE makes sacrifices sometimes.  It's all good. 

Joshua has probably sacrificed the most - and I often remember my friend Sarah from Colorado telling me something on these lines.....-- having Lauren is the absolute best thing for Joshua -- he will learn the world doesn't circle around him and it's soooo much easier for a little guy to learn this at his age -- than for him to have to learn that lesson say, as a teenager or young adult...psst... I think some people never learn that lesson.  I'm thankful my adoption world includes people that will speak the truth to me.

Joshua and Lauren are coming along in their relationship.  They love and embrace each other -- but also have their moments where Joshua is just naughty and perhaps pushes her off his bed (like last night) during reading time -- but then she responds, not often....but last night she did --- with a good bite on his arm.  Both were wrong in their actions and got told about it - but there is something so very basic about survival instincts.  Lauren hasn't bitten for a very long time - but last night, I think it totally ticked her off to be pushed off the bed.... she cried and thought about it and then..... yikes!  Looks like we will soon need to teach the "turn the cheek" passage.  Meanwhile, we are settling into a good new normal..... some days great, others are a one ever said this is supposed to be easy.  And when it's good.... it is sooo very good.... like playing outside on the swingset and having big brother push you on the swing. ...... Love these children.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Day 2013

Enjoy a post of pics from church today.  Lauren loves her church and especially likes the homemade donut holes that Kuluba's wife makes every single week!  The kids all love them :)   Happy Easter from our house to yours!

 With Nanna

Momma, Daddy, Joshua, and Lauren

Silly faces......

Like sister....

I'm going with him, but just checking to make sure you are coming too :)

posing by the car -- I wish I could say something spiritual - like, "my kids were cheering Jesus' victorious rise from the grave"....but in reality - they were just doing a silly pose :)


Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Life with Lauren update - and Easter 2013

Time with Friends:
A few weeks ago, Lauren, Joshua and I went to Cincinatti to visit some other adoption friends.  We got to meet Munni, who just came home from India.... she's a cutie!  And we also got to meet four other mommas - of which one is Munni's mom and the other three are waiting for their child to come home still.  We all had a great time in the hotel and out to eat!  Kristen (Munni's mom) took us to all the best restaurants, including an amazing Indian restaurant, and Colista had the best home made cookies for the hotel room.... so we were set! We talked until wee hours in the morning - mostly about adoption....adoption....adoption!  But we also shared things of the Lord and prayed for these children to come home soon.  It was a really nice time....for anyone in the adoption process, I encourage you to engage in friendship building through blogs - it's truly a beautiful thing.  The other thing I've noticed is --- families in the adoption process talk a similar language - that quite frankly people not in it - don't always understand.... so it is awesome to have close friends that "get it".  I am so very blessed to have met these awesome ladies.... that I know I can say are my friends.... and when we meet again, we will pick up right where we left off!!
When we went to eat at this pizza place - the kids got entertained for a good long time just watching the guys make pizzas including throwing the dough in the air - which I couldn't seem to catch on camera.  :)

Lauren experienced her first swimming in a hotel pool (well, really second...but a pool in India coupled with two seconds and terror screaming doesn't really count).  Lauren absolutely LOVED swimming in the pool - and wanted to be free to swim on her own - which I wasn't about to allow.  Since we've been home - Brad has taken her twice to the YMCA pool - and she is just nuts over it!  Today she got to swim with a life jacket on - so was a bit free - and Brad said she paddled herself around and really enjoyed it.  I see swimming lessons in her future real soon!

Deeper Bonding:
One thing that happended while we were in Cincinatti was when the kids and I went to the hotel for nap time - all the other girls went off for a pedicure - so we were in our hotel room with the living room center and their attached room all alone.  We had been leaving all the connecting doors open - so guess what happened??  Lauren - while trying to avoid a nap - went wandering around - and slipped into their room before I could stop her and SHUT the connecting door.  Well as you know, from the other side of the door (my side) the door doesn't have a door knob.  So Lauren tried to get the door open - but it was either locked or too hard for her to turn -- so yep - she was locked into the adjoining room (of which I did not have a key for!).... Joshua and I tried to talk her through opening the door - but she was clearly struggling.  I went to the living room area to call the front desk -- and unbeknownst to me - Joshua went into the hallway to talk to Lauren at the exterior door -- as I was on the phone - my little 7 year old Joshua talked Lauren through the process of opening the exterior door and got her out safely (as Joshua puts it.... I rescued her... while momma was freaking out)... yep - I guess he's right. He even remember to swing the top safety lock on our door so he could get back into our room!! (Ok, you know... we think our boy is pretty smart!!)  They ran into the living room area - Joshua dropped to his knees and Lauren came up to hug him and sit on his lap as he rocked her and patted her back.  I hung up from the front desk thanking them and reporting "never mind".... and totally enjoyed the moment between brother and sister.  And I thought - yep - this is why we adopted .... because one day when Brad and I are either old -- or even passed on -- they will have each other.  God is so very good.   This also has helped Joshua grow up tremendously -- right before our Cinci trip - we went to one session of Play Therapy - where our counselor said to Joshua as we all stood by, "Joshua, your job in the family is to play with Lauren - but also to keep her SAFE during play"... "so, while you like to wrestle, etc... is that keeping her safe?" - he paused to think - and replied, "yes", knowing full well that it wasn't.... she corrected him - and we reminded him periodically about what Joan said.  We love Joan - she has studied under Dr. Karyn Purvis - so of course, we are sold out on her techiniques... it's really been great so far for our family dynamics!.... Back to the locked door -- so when Joshua "rescued" Lauren - I went nuts with praise on him and told him several times, "that is awesome!! that is just what Joan was talking about - taking care of Lauren and loving her - looking out for her safety" -- since then, he's told the story several times to our friends - and even took Lauren to show-n-tell at his school to tell the story -- I think he's passed a major milestone as Big brother.

Newport Acquarium:
On our way out of town - Joshua, Lauren and I went to Newport Acquarium.  Lauren loved most of it -- but especially the "gucks" AKA ducks, which were really penguins.  Joshua has been there before - but also loves the penguins.

Easter Egg Hunt:
Roll the days and weeks forward -- and now we're ready to celebrate Easter.  Lauren finally got the idea of picking up Easter Eggs at our hunt today -- especially when she discovered chocolate inside each one.  It was funny, she was inspecting the inside of each one she picked up - before putting in her bag.  She's something else!  And tomorrow is Easter! 

Waiting for the egg hunt to begin

                    Lauren needed daddy's help,  Joshua was a pro

Tradition is to recyle the eggs - so all the families go empty the candy so the church has eggs for next year.  Kids don't mind leaving the eggs behind - because hello... the chocolate is the best part!  I totally hate that I missed getting a picture of the field before the kids got out there.  I know if I were Mer or Kristen - I would have thought of that beautiful picture. :)  - It was a huge field full of eggs - and Mrs. Brenda separates by age group with orange cones :)

 Then inside for crafts and the puppet show with Mrs. Brenda - the children's pastor -- of course they tell the real Easter story and the kids love it!  We love our intentional church! 

Lauren with her Wed. night small group leader :) Love Mrs. Shannon

Lauren and Brenda - Lauren asked Mrs. Brenda about the "woo - woo" which means dog to Lauren, so Mrs. Brenda got the puppet back out and played on the floor... kids loved it.

Joshua and Lauren trying to feed the dog sweet tarts - Lauren could not figure out why this dog could not swallow his snack!  pssst... I think she thought he was real :)

Well, six months home with Lauren and our only struggles are these:  1.) I am the only one that can put Lauren to bed - why this is a problem??....well in about a month I leave for a 4 day business trip - over night - by myself - and Brad and Joshua will have Lauren at home by themselves....well, I think my mom may come over too - for a female in the house  - but boy am I worried about this! As Brad puts it, "Renae, you are her oxygen"... so my heart hurts thinking about it.  We began practicing with Brad puttig Lauren to bed last night....didn't go so well..... and 2.) This girl still isn't potty trained - and I think isn't all that interested in it at the moment.  I think really she's regressing -- she was so much better earlier on when she first started potty training, but I think it's gone on too long - she's not that crazy for the chocolate M&S's because she gets other chocolate at other times.... and frankly the pull ups are too absorbant - so being wet doesn't seem to bother her.  She's gotten lazy about potty training, for sure.  I REALLY want her potty trained before summer.... but who knows. 

We are all well, kids love school and each other, we have a great summer planned of camps and fun, and Lauren's English is really picking up through speech therapy and just living life at home :)  So thankful for our church.  As we left the egg hunt, both Brad and I said, how lucky we are to have a church that brings in seekers - but isn't pushy, recognizes that egg hunts (even though are "of the world") can also incorporate the REAL Easter story -- and a church that constantly reminds our kiddos how much God loves them -- and how they also love each other through example.... we are blessed.  But what is greatest of all, is that Lauren feels right at home there -- the teenage girls come to her and want to hug her - hold her - say hello.  Lauren roams around saying hi to people and making herself at home -- and I know I can always find her in the large room for kids at the end of any event, with Joshua shooting basketball hoops! I pray both our kids remain connected to this church - because through attendance and intentional work --- PLUS us at home, we pray they will know Jesus for themselves.  Pouring into the soul.....let the grace overflow!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quick check in

So my blogging has taken a bit of downturn.... we've just been so busy and most of the time when I'm at the computer - Lauren wants to come and look at pictures, play, color, etc... so it's hard to ignore that sweet face :)  But yep - it's 5 am and I'm up - can't get back to sleep -- so what to do??? BLOG!!

On our girl - she's still sleeping in her bed - although does wake up about 1/3 of the time and needs comforted (put back to sleep)....hence why I'm up at 5 right now :)  - usually I can go right back to sleep, but after being sick and sleeping for 9 hours after church yesterday.....not tonight.

She's getting speech therapy at her school - this along with the Leappad2 - Alphabet Factory video is really enhancing her English skills.  She said "poop" the other day and we were all very proud :)  - of course at first we laughed because it came out of no where - so now, when we have company and she wants to show off, she just spurts it out....thankfully everyone understands and just accepts her the way she is.

I was sick recently and as I was laying in bed with a vomit bowel....roaring vomit -- she came to visit me up on the bed to inform me, "mommy.....stinky"...but then proceeded to take a kleenex and wipe my face and ask me, "ok??" - I assured her I was fine and she was happy to accept that, got up... closed the bedroom door and off to the park she went with daddy and Joshua.  I do have to say, she was particularly good these days when I was sick... kids are so intune, aren't they?  Well today I was more on the mend and she was silly goose tonight at bedtime... taunting us... wanting us to chase her and tickle her :)  Happy to have mommy back, no doubt.

She's a good girl, sweet and loving.... growing and learning.  She's about 30 lbs now! Ranging around 29 to 29.5 lbs most days, she loves to weigh herself and we cheer how big she's getting.  She's 3 1/2 - and is already wearing 3T and some 4T clothes!  Her 2T jeans used to fall below her tennis shoes (or close to the floor) and now it seems they are just over her tennis shoes - so we think she's grown in height maybe 1/2 inch to 1 inch - along with her belly growing (which pulls up those pants) :)   Those elastic waist draw thingys are awesome for these kiddos - because they can wear age appropriate clothes even when they are tiny - just suck in that waist elastic and you are good to go!  When you pick her up - she feels like a brick!  She's a solid girl, and it seems like muscle is abounding in her.  (she loves to help carry in groceries - which is so funny, because even when I give her light bags - she insists on taking several in one trip -- so this is GREAT weight bearing therapy!!)  ...and she drops the bags on the kitchen floor, like the rest of us with a, "whew".  Too funny.   

Eating has become a bit of a challenge - our great eater of all things chicken and veggie - has turned a bit into a selective eater....her new favorite thing is crunchy cheetos.  I'm thankful she still eats apples and tons of fruit cups too....of course her rice, and now also mac and cheese. 

She LOVES to play basketball, seriously.... Brad takes her to the YMCA and when it's open gym night and all the big kids are playing ball in 1/2 of the gym (usually volleyball on the other half)... they pull out on the basketball side a small lower to the ground basketball hoop - well she proceeds to get her ball from the rack, like all the big boys do it -- and just dribble right to her little hoop with daddy... it's really a sight to be seen.  She's the only girl on the court - and when her ball bounces away, she has no problem running through the big guys to retrieve her ball -- occasionally one of their balls will hit her (in the back, on the head, whatever)...and she turns to give them a look --- the look on their face is priceless, like..."SOORRRY, little one".... Brad and I are amazed at how well she can dribble -- we don't have the heart to tell her she's going to be short more than likely, so unless she's a really talented guard, B-ball is likely not in the cards for her.  But who knows.  You ask, can she make a basket??  Well, not yet -- it takes daddy putting her on his shoulders to do that.... she's still just too short and doesn't have the strength to really get the ball high enough even for the little basket hoop, but she certainly tries....and tries...she's a determined little one.

It occurred to me HOW she's getting so good at dribbling..... one day, I picked her up early from school and because it is winter, her school doesn't go outside for recess / gross motor time when it's real cold or wet -- but instead has a full gym (her school is in an old elementary school)... and guess what, 1/2 of the gym is full of basketballs and a little hoop for kiddos -- and the other 1/2 of the gym is for kids that want to ride on little plastic cars, etc.... push trucks around, etc.  Well, guess where I found her.  Her teacher says that is her favorite spot and she plays basketball every day!  No wonder she knows how to dribble!!   Well....she is in the Blue Nation, after all -- although our Wildcats are having a "building year" - this year.  It's ok, we still love our cats!  Can't wait til little miss is old enough to maybe even take her to a game. 

On Joshua - he and Lauren continue to be great friends - wrestling on the floor - tickling, chasing each other.  Lauren does all things Joshua!  He is accepting of her constant loving and hanging on him - sharing the recliner for cartoons, etc.  He does love her - but like all little sisters - does get annoyed some times...but hey, he wouldn't be normal if he didn't.  When he plays with the neighbor boys and Lauren has to stay home -- she cries for him...always wanting her "bye-ah" near here after school, etc.  When he leaves it breaks her heart - as if she's wondering if she will ever see him again, then when he runs in the back door - she greets him with open arms and a hug and all is well.  She does calm down when he leaves, but it is hard right at first.  She loves him doubt.  It's interesting about these kiddos, I'm curious, do any of your adopted children really attach to a toy, doll, blanket or stuffed animal?  Lauren seems to play with things..and really enjoy them, loves her books etc., but it's people she's attached to?  She doesn't look to her stuffed Elmo, for example for comfort...or her blanket (although she likes her blanket)... it's almost as if these things have a purpose, but in her mind they are not for bonding or comfort.  Wondered if that is "normal".  I know Joshua had a favorite kitty and his blanket that he was attached to at night time in particular.  oh well, for now ... I will be her teddy bear :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Ok, so I've fallen prey to the blogs that go out of sight for a bit -- let's face it, life with a three year old when you are 47 years old is tiring :)  -- but full and fun too!  But today, while kiddos are still sleeping since there is no school today, I thought I'd quickly catch you up :)

Joshua was sick on Valentines day.... so didn't get to go to school and have his party - but his wonderful teacher sent home some of his homework and his bag of valentines and candy... she's so sweet ... she also sent him a message, "Joshua, when I was in First grade, I missed my valentines day party too - and I remember my brother bringing home my cards and I sat at home and opened them one by one".... she is so awesome.... he LOVES her, so of course this made him feel so much better.  We are blessed to have her at our school.

Now little miss had a different experience.... she was all set for her party at school! First we put our lunch box away, this isn't my teacher....but EVERYONE knows me at school and helps out.

Hey - you brought the camera to school! Now you know I will want to take a turn and get a picture of YOU, momma.

 But wait, it's still early and I need to do my morning stretch :)

Now back to that camera thing, I'm only gonna smile if you promise to let me have a turn.  (Am I sassy or what?)

My turn, my turn, my of course I agreed and she got a lovely picture of my black pants, which I decided wasn't worth posting here :)

You can't catch me if I run into my classroom real

In my classroom, at circle, we each passed out Valentines cards.  This is all so very new to me...but I love little cardboard pictures. 

"Chank-chew" (thank you in her adorable little accent)

Now it's my turn..... I love this party.

And that's life with Lauren..... we are blessed. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The cycle is broken.... little miss sleeps in her own bed!!

Well, since we last posted ALOT has been going on. We continued to work with Lauren on sleeping in her bed and for two nights she slept in her bed with Joshua on the floor by her.... then my mom ended up needing to go to the ER one afternoon after her followup visit to her doctor. Long story short - she had very high blood pressure and the doctor would NOT let her go home and insisted she go to the ER - so she did and I spent from 5 pm until 1:30 am in the ER waiting for tests and results. Anyway, she ended up with a kidney stone that is obstructed.... got a stent - and will have O/P procedures to break up stone later on this upcoming week...she's all good :) This all happened on Monday night.... ANYWAY.... this little change in plans ended up being great for our family.

Brad had Joshua and Lauren since I was at the ER -- had to get both to bed... well as you can imagine, Lauren cried for me at bedtime ... and Brad walk/ rocked her around until she calmed down and then he actually slept with her and Joshua in our king bed. I got home at 1:40 or so -- and she woke up and reached for me... it was so good to tell her I'm always coming back ...but that also daddy loves her very much and will always take care of her too! Great bonding moment. Given the time of night - I swept her up and took her to sleep with me in Joshua's bed.

BUT the next several nights..... actually every night since then, she has been sleeping in her room in her toddler bed! Joshua starts out resting next to her -- and he eventually slips out of her bed - there is just not enough room for both -- and he's been sleeping on the floor in her room. Some have a protective dog at their feet during night time -- Lauren has Joshua..... and it's so very cute!! It's hard to see Lauren, because her babydoll's head is right next to hers - which blends in dark hair with her own dark hair - and I think her brown little arm is up there in the mix too, along with one of her groovy dolls (who happens to have dark shoes) -- but I promise you -- the little brown spot in that white bed is our little miss. And you can sortof see Joshua on the floor :)

I am soooo excited to begin catching up on sleep -- it feels wonderful to have a full night (or almost full night). Lauren usually wake up sometimes at 12:30, other times at 2 or 3am -- and if I'm lucky 5 am -- I go in and comfort her with pats and turn back on her lullaby CD, along with her dream lite turtle that shines stars on the ceiling.... these things together give her security in knowing where she is and that all is ok. Today she slept until 8 am!! YES!! I think she's getting better sleep too!

Now to be real transparent - those initial nights were rough in getting her to lay down -- and we even did our sleep training techniques that we used on Joshua we learned from Millpond Sleep Center -- from Nanny 911. Basically, you close the door until they lay down (they hate the door closed) -- when you open the door if they haven't laid down you tell them, "lay down or I will close the door" if they lay down, keep the door open-- she just got spitting mad the first few times because she wanted to make it clear she did not want to sleep here --- she even gave me "the Marathi" and pointed to our bedroom as if to say, "you know we sleep together in that bed in your room - so let's go in there now and be done with this!".... but we remained calm and consistent -- and now after around 1 week - she's fine in her bed --- and even tells her baby dolls "night-night" when she leaves them in the morning to come downstairs -- it's the cutest thing. I do still have to stay in her room until she's asleep - which usually isn't long at all - but I'm fine with that for now. And I also don't think she'd do well if Joshua wasn't in her room initially either - she really calls out to him and NEEDS him by her..... so thankful he seems to understand this need and have empathy for her.

I am thankful for mom's ER visit and our determination to break this cycle. Sometimes changing the routine is all it takes to get permanent change accomplished. Many people have prayed for us over this sleep thing - and for that I am ever grateful!