This weekend is the four month mark for Benjamin, Grace, and Asher. Each month holds significant changes and adjustments for each of the kids. I am very pleased with just how well they have each adapted to a new environment.
New and Positive Changes:
1. Soccer: The kids truly enjoy playing soccer! They come alive on the field: running with speed, agility, and absolute joy. And they are getting faster! I think a couple of months of good nutrition has really improved their ability to play an endurance sport. Not only is soccer a good physical outlet for the kids, but it also helps to channel their very independent natures. Learning to work as a team is a good lesson for this crew.
2. Swimming: The kids are also taking swimming lessons twice a week. Because we live in Arizona, an area abounding with backyard swimming pools, we felt it vital to get a head start on teaching the wild ones to swim. The kids are so funny to watch in the water! The jump right in, trying their absolute hardest to kick and paddle. Because they are so enthusiastic... plus the fact that they simply can't sit still or listen for too long... I have to be in the pool with them. They need the constant chime of, "Sit on the step. Listen to the teacher. Stop talking." I am thankful they are not fearful of the water, but a little healthy respect would be nice. Swimming also has a positive benefit in that it stimulates their appetites. This is a good thing, as I think they could all just take or leave food.
3. School: The kids are making slow but steady progress in school. We still review numbers (1-100), colors, months, days, ABCs, etc. on a daily basis. As I mentioned in a prior post, I have found the Kumon workbooks to be a very appropriate choice for all of the kids. Thus far, they have moved up to completing the workbooks for the 4-5-6 age group. I anticipate doing each Kumon workbook, in order, until the entire set is completed. Only then do I imagine we will have enough of a foundation to move into Pre-K or K materials. They have also enjoyed and benefited from the Critical Thinking workbooks. They have finished "Book 1: Visual Perceptual Skill Building" and "Thinker Doodles" (K-1). The kids really enjoyed both of these books, and because they required very little English to explain, they just worked. The only other thing I have added to our routine (see prior post), is to have the kids listen to math music. They seem to enjoy it, and actually end up learning something!
Somethings Have Not Changed Very Much...
1. Non-stop talking at inappropriate times. The kids talk during devotions, church, movies, school, prayer, etc. Discipline has not made much of a difference.
2. Bedtime chatter continues in the boys' room. I can not get the boys to be quiet earlier than about 10 p.m. I think they are chronically tired, sleeping in only rarely. And yes, we do have a regular bedtime routine.) Reducing the level of household activity does not seem to help with an earlier bed time either. I think it's just going to take a lot more time for them to really, really settle down. Thankfully, Grace and Blanca don't chatter endlessly. They talk for a few minutes, and go right to sleep.
3. Sibling fighting continues. These kids lie to each other and about each other.
4. Bedwetting continues for Asher. He now used Pull-Ups every night. I understand night time bedwetting is pretty common for boys. Yet, the on-purpose peeing on the downstair carpet is not humorous. Asher also likes to hide his wet underpants in his bedroom. Very stinky. A friend of mine mentioned that she numbered her child's underwear, giving a pair of undies to the child only if he returned the previous pair. Guess that would help to keep track of them.
5. Food remains a sticky point. I have tried to make a little less Ethiopian food, as per my husband's request. The kids will simply not eat if they hate the food. And they are getting fussier; items that they used to eat are no longer acceptable. Even eliminating the promise of a delicious popsicle after dinner does not encourage them to eat. Makes dinner time rather stressful, as the acceptable food list seems to be getting shorter. Maybe it's just my patience with the whole thing that is getting shorter!?
6. Manners remain non-existent. We are making some progress with using utensils, thanks to the super-hero cutlery.
7. Lying and cheating are still fairly major issues; stealing has dwindled. They still have no consideration of taking care of other people's property.
8. Grieving still happens in short, intense spurts. Crying and sobbing happens only once every few weeks, and usually occurs at the end of the day. All the events lately have been when they think about Grace's half-brother in Ethiopia. They miss him dearly.
9. Not much language progress in the last month. The kids understand most of what we say, but talk in broken English. By themselves, they speak Amharic... especially if they are trying to get away with something.
New Issues and Challenges
1. Food hoarding/stealing: Asher likes to stash oranges and bottles of Gatorade in various places throughout the house. He has open access to fruit; Gatorade is an after-soccer-only beverage. I always allow the kids to have food; I realize they need to feel safe... and food is a major part of establishing that safe feeling. Nonetheless, I have found bottles of swiped Gatorade hidden by the toilet; I have found oranges in his drawers, in his pants, behind furniture, under beds, etc. Poor guy. Imagine what must be in that little brain to feel the need to steal and hide food.
2. Disobedience with a smile: All of the kids, but especially the two oldest, enjoy lying to see what they can get away with. I can correct Grace, for example, and she will apologize... and then turn around and continue what ever she was doing... and smile. She knows she's going to get in trouble, but it doesn't seem to stop her. Glen and I are very consistent with discipline, so it does seem a bit odd to me that they are trying harder than ever to do things they know they are going to get busted for. Guess that's just the nature of fallen mankind... we want to obey only when it fits our schedule and our desires. Of course, these kids also want to test us to see if we'll still nurture and love them even when they are "bad." So glad to be an experienced mommy!
3. School: The biggest challenge to the day is trying to get the kids to focus on one task and complete it. Benjamin, in particular, is very slow in his school work. He takes an estimated 45 minutes longer to complete school compared to his other sibs. He can't sit still, or he gets distracted, or he wants to rush through his work (and then makes tons of mistakes). He also wants to blame everyone around him when he fails at something. He will be our greatest challenge in school. The others seem to want to learn; he doesn't. He may be our musical genius....
All in all, the Halvorson household is doing exceptionally well. I feel incredibly blessed to have all of these little ones to teach and to nurture. I realized this was not going to be easy--- adding three more to the mix. Yet, truth be known, it has been easier than I had anticipated. That's pretty amazing!