Sunday, July 20, 2008

Emily's first vacation..celebrating the 4th at the Beach

We spent a week at the beach earlier this month with family. It was a great week. Emily and all the boys had a blast! We even had a bonfire on the beach and roasted marshmellows on the 4th and listened to the fireworks. It was a great way to celebrate Emily's first 4th of July. She turned 16 months that week. Here are the highlights:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Putting it out there...keeping it real

I've recently had the chance to begin again getting caught up on blogs. Something I have really missed. A lot of topics that seem to be echoing each other concern transitioning into the home and keeping it real with stories and feelings... more kind of reality stuff rather than cute fluff. Since I do tend to post more cute fluff I feel a little guilty in the AP/PAP (adoptive parent/potential adoptive parent) world about always having a rosy blog. (Feel free to skip this post if you are neither an AP or PAP) I think I need to explain. It certainly is not to make other PAP's feel bad about themselves if they are struggling through the day. My goodness, that would not give me any satisfaction. Nor is it to show we are perfect. My goodness that is far from true too! I think the real reason is...I'm dead tired when I blog at night and a few bylines followed by some cute pictures of the kids is easier to muster than heavy reflection. Seriously though, while we don't live in perfectville I do feel we have lucked out in a lot of areas which have contributed to us having an easier transition than maybe others are experiencing. My hubby is a teacher and it just so happened that Emily came home at the end of the school year which meant come the middle of June, hubby was home for the summer. Just got lucky. So we have 2 adults at home the whole summer who can then devote any personal time to any child that needs it and work on our new family together. We also cut way down on our scheduling. We do not overbook and we say "no" a lot to get togethers, parties, etc. Not because we are antisocial. Quite the opposite for me. In fact that was the hardest part of adjusting to children for me was missing out on a big chunk of my social calendar. How I love to talk and party! However, it's too much on a young family so we try very hard to consistently maintain the kids' daily routines...meals, naps, bedtimes and only on occasion when it's something too good to pass up do we take the risk of staying out late with the kids or go off their schedules to attend something. We usually pay for it the next day, and we realize that of course ahead of time. We also spend a big chunk of time outside every day. I have dogs and I think of it as taking the dogs (kids) out for a run and wearing them out. The boys especially need it. It's why we moved in the first place. The boys have a lot of energy and our old yard was too small for them to run it off in, so to speak. When my oldest starts to get a little crazy inside I know that is my cue for them to grab their shoes and run around outside. And we do this rain or shine. Of course we live in sunny CA so we have more sunny than rainy days.

So having two adults at home for three months of summer, cutting way back on activities to hang out at home, spending a portion of the day outside and trying to consistently maintain schedules and routines are huge things that have helped us. Also my kids are all great sleepers and sleep 12 hours through the night. That certainly does help your sanity if you can get enough sleep every night. It will be harder in Sept to keep our schedule so minimal with school. And that fact alone already has me dreading Sept. and being on my own again.

And lastly...we lucked out with Emily. She really is amazing! She came from a great babyhome where she was very much cared for and loved which has made transitioning/attachments/etc just easier. She is also right on track developmentally and has no medical issues. Also, part of it is her temperament and personality. She is a go with the flow kid and is always up for something. Sometimes I think she is bored staying home so much. She is really funny. When I grab my car keys she runs to the door, turns around and says.."buh bye dada." She is ready to go with mama and she is not getting left behind with the boys. She really is a dream and after my second son I think almost any type of personality would be a welcome relief. Bubba is a difficult and very emotional child and even with an easy summer schedule he still has 100 meltdowns before lunch everyday. I love that little boy but he can really be hard to take. I worry for him and hope he outgrows this very emotional personality of his. Life should not be that hard at 3 years old. Again Emily cracks me up...if we are in a different room and Bubba starts shreking and crying, Emily will turn to me and say, "Bubba." How sad she can recognize his crying. So having hubby home for the summer has really been for Bubba's benefit and my sanity. It's nice to give him one-on-one attention that he requires. Also, he is painfully slow at any task. He just moves like that turtle in those Comcast commericals. It's nice to have another person to help him move along and stay on task. He is a sweetheart and of course he is only 3 years old, but boy is he the opposite of the other two kids we have. He knows it too and will tell me he likes to be different. Poor kid. I really need to stop telling him to be more like his brother and sister. He just can't help who he is. But believe me...he is my road block everyday. It is very hard to get anywhere during the school year on time with him.

But even with all of the precautions we have tried to put in place we are still very much a real family with the same ups and downs. We have our good and bad days. In addition to the kids temper tantrums I too can be moody and emotional and have my moments. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. But luckily I married a very patient man who can jump in when I'm ready to bail ship. That's important too. When you are done emotionally and mentally have someone you can call to bail you out so you can take an hour for yourself...walk around the block, shop, sit in the bath tub and cry it out, whatever it takes to bring you back down and give you some sanity. My hubby does this for me. He knows how important it is that I get out. I belong to several mom's groups and have a good group of girlfriends from college that I regulary do things with. Sometimes having an excuse to throw on the cute jeans and shirt and get out with friends for the evening can replenish you and give you the strength to get up and go for another round.

But three little ones is still a lot. We are tired most of the time. So much so that I asked my doctor to run a few tests on me especially after I couldn't get rid of that sore throat I had for close to a month at the beg. of summer. Thinking that maybe I was experiencing a thyroid problem, etc. No such luck...I'm just worn down from trying to manage three children and not exercising in so long I've lost count of the years. I do know for me when I'm overly stressed out I tend to get sore throats, esp strep and then I know I've way overdone it and it's time to slow back down.

I also know myself and my kids pretty well and know what we can handle and what we can't. I would never take them on three errands in a row by myself or take them out during naptime as that is just a time bomb waiting to go off. Keeping them as close as I can on their schedule esp. during the school year is so helpful for me so I can have a mental break during their naps. If I don't get that break I will most likey go postal. And I relax and do what I want during that time...I'm not doing laundry, cooking or paying bills...but something fun that I enjoy.

It does help to read normal development books and discipline books too. The more tools you have in your tool box, the more equipped you will feel. I also don't have too high of expectations and try to remember that everything that happens is most likely normal and totally appropriate developmentally. And that someone somewhere is experiencing the exact same thing. And I try to have a sense of humor about things and realize I'm outnumbered here and I just can't control everything that is going to happen when we are in public. Sometimes I get your kids are cute angels... and I never say thanks because I know I had very little to do with it. It was just a moment in time and the very next moment could be a nuclear diaster. Keeping a sense of humor I find is key...and trying not to let it get you down and above all else take a deep breath and try not to lose your cool, no matter what is happening. This was a key nugget I took from my sons' 2's preschool teacher when I was going through a rough potty training patch my first time around the potty. If I can catch myself fast enough before I lose it, I will think of her and repeat it like a mantra over and over to help me keep it together. But at the end of each day my goal is mostly just to try and survive the day and hope I don't mess my kids up too badly. I also hope they grow up and look back on their childhoods when they are adults and stuck behind their desks at work and think, I had a pretty awesome childhood with a family that really loves me. Yeah..that's the goal I'm really striving for.

If you have stayed with me this long...get yourself some yummy chocolate earned it. And lastly, you must realize that I had a pretty good day today because if I didn't, there is no way I could be this optimistic.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dressing Up

Who said you had to have girls to play dress-up?

What a fun surprise. We recently received a box of dress up clothes that had been out on loan in the 'hood. Their reappearance made for a fun afternoon for the kids. Thanks neighbor!! My oldest especially had a great time. Aren't they so pretty?
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