Looking back through all of the year's photos brings both tears and relief. I shed many tears in the months prior to my children's arrival... but certainly many more since their arrival! I reread some of my journal from when I first returned home. It read, "I am now writing this a couple of weeks after the last entry. I just have no time to do anything! Life has gotten exhausting! In retrospect, the hardest part of this whole process was just coming home."I am so thankful that the first year is now history--- not that I didn't enjoy most of it, but because grief, transition, and healing is just so difficult.
These were some of the notes I jotted down during the kids' first three months:
Oldest: Eating very well. Sleeping well when he finally does settle down enough to sleep. Constant fighting with siblings: hitting, kicking and throwing items (sometimes drawing blood!). Karate moves all the time. No tantrums, but cries like he's being killed during shots, blood work, dental visits (freaked out at dentist). Shoe size grew from 1 to 3 within 3 weeks time! Hep A exposure and parasites, but no cavities! Sensitive to discipline or correction. He gets mad at himself and cries. Destroyed many household items. Likes to clean and help me. Seeks Dad's approval. Extremely hyperactive. Good with pets. Throws food on floor and against the wall. "Accumulates" items and stashes them in his bag or in hiding areas throughout the house. No respect for property or ownership. Can't be quiet or sit still. Very impulsive; no self-control. GOD HELP ME!
Middle: Yikes! Crying, screaming, pouting, hitting, biting, not eating. Angry, sad, totally grief-stricken. Sobs uncontrollably. Wild, undisciplined, very selfish, greedy, hyperactive. Throws rocks at siblings--- draws blood. Destroys household items. Likes shots at the doctor; enjoyed visiting dentist. Runs away; park or any outings not doable! Okay with pets. Grief + self-pity = bad combo! Highly manipulative. Deliberately disobedient and defiant. Takes items in house. Pees on floor in bedroom. Loves bathing. Cries in the mirror to see tears. Hug-hold works well. Takes 45-60 minutes of straight screaming before settling down. Can not sit down to read or listen to story. Enjoys coloring and watching Ethiopian preschool show and Jesus film in Amharic. Parasites. GOD HELP ME!
Youngest: Very physical, yet calmer than older brother. More introverted. Hits, kicks--- especially sister. Likes my Ethiopian cooking. No dairy. Loves hard-boiled eggs and spiced hamburger. Sleeps well when brother can be quiet. Plays hard and constantly. Breaks items in house by taking them apart. Very hyperactive. Runs in circles with sibs. Throws food on floor. Pees in bed, pants, floor. "Ninja-like" behavior: told to sit down (e.g. during dinner), but then waits for a moment when mom isn't looking and sneaks off to play. Quite clever. Very manipulative. Aggressive and defies authority. Enjoys puzzles, coloring. Chatters endlessly. Loves to take a bath. Can't listen to books. No cavities. Prior Hep A exposure and parasites.GOD HELP ME!
TO THIS... ONE YEAR LATER!
Oldest: Maturing in relationships with other sibs. No hitting or hurting. Pretty obedient, although needs to be corrected frequently for not listening carefully. Instructions need to be broken down into small steps. Starting to read, spell, write at 1st grade level. Math is difficult. Enjoys all types of music. Likes to help in house, loves to play. Enjoys cooking, playing games, drawing, being outside. Gets along famously with sibs, especially older boys. Very affectionate with parents, loves to give gifts. Learning to ask permission. Smiles easily and all the time. Physically healthy and growing fast! Likes golf and basketball. Initiates and loves hugs and kisses. Busy, but hyperactivity is not as much of a challenge. Biggest issues: learning is difficult, inattention; impulsive. Strengths: very sensitive, good natured, artistic, positive attitude, natural leader (very charismatic).
Middle: Gets along with other family members well; fighting to a minimum. Can handle correction, although is still disrespectful in attitude. Very strong-willed. Energetic, but not hyper. Acts out with around other family members to get attention. Smiles easily and a lot. Good grooming. Keeps room clean. Likes to help, and shows sweet and appropriate affection to parents. Outgoing, enthusiastic. Likes school. Enjoys running and golf. Loves hugs, kisses, one-on-one time. Asking lots of questions about the Lord. Reading, writing, math at first grade level. Creative, good-natured. Learning to ask permission, although wants to be in charge. Loves church. Biggest issues: negative attitude and challenges authority; impulsive. Strengths: strong-willed, enthusiastic, loves life, persistent.
Youngest: Much calmer. Very happy child. Plays hard, but can focus on tasks. Loves family. Kind and affectionate with everyone. Likes school--- very smart. Could progress faster than current level. Enjoys sports and is very coordinated. Physically healthy and growing fast. Tends to overeat. Sleeps well. Hates to clean. Messy. Pure boy! Likes music. Learning to ask permission. More introverted than sibs. Likes soccer, taekwondo, swimming. Loves playing with older boys. Loves hugs and kisses. Feels comfortable in his own skin... quiet confidence. Enjoys reading the Bible and seeks people out to read it to him. Biggest issues: overeating, grooming. Strengths: intelligent, sensitive, loves life, can problem solve.
It is almost hard to imagine these were the same kids! They have all grown and matured in huge ways; I am so proud of how they have adapted to this crazy American culture. I love them more than I can articulate. Makes me want to do it all over again....