Saturday, January 11, 2014

Two Months and Counting Report...and a LOT of photos!

Can you even believe I'm typing that!  2 months home and counting.  Nora will have been home two months on the 14th and it sort of feels like if I would have blinked in that time I would have missed it all.  It has been a pretty hectic 2 months.  Although the first several weeks were spent not going much of anywhere, they were super busy on the homefront getting to know Nora and her getting to know her new family.  After those initial weeks, I also got sick with a cold that I couldn't kick, lost my voice twice, and am still fighting the remains of a third round of it.  Oh, and three of the four kids also got rounds of fevers or sickness.   Not fun.  In the most recent weeks we hosted my side of our family at our house for a belated Christmas celebration and made a trip to South Dakota over New Years for Micah's side of the family's Christmas.  All in all, despite the sickness stuff, it has been enjoyable...just hectic.  This is all why a post has taken me a long time to accomplish!

So, an update to what life looks like 2 months into life on our homefront with Nora...

Nora continues to do well.  Physically she is growing!  She grew 3/4 of an inch and gained 3 pounds in her first 5 weeks home.  Her hair is also growing wonderfully.  Most of this would be due to better nutrition in her diet, but some of her hair growth is also do to better products being used to promote growth.  We are curious to see what kind of overall growth her next month or so brings because just before Christmas we finally received a confirmed Giardia parasite test which has now been treated with antibiotics.  If she put on 3 pounds and still had a parasite in her system, who knows what her gains will look like when her body gets ALL of the nutrients being piled in there!  She is also thoroughly enjoying her Christmas present--a child's trampoline!  Our hope is not only will this give her something fun to do, it will also help promote more muscle movements and strength-building as she jumps...and jumps...and jumps...and

Emotionally, she is also thriving.  She seems to know who "Mommy" and "Daddy" are at this point and that we are more important than others who come to our house for a visit or we go to a house to visit.  She has a very outgoing personality (which our other children shy away from) so we are still watchful of what is Nora just being Nora and what is Nora seeking attention from anyone who will give it to her.  She REALLY enjoys wrestling and tickling sessions with Daddy and would probably do these all day long if he wasn't at work.  She also likes to follow me around the house and is my constant shadow.  She wants to do whatever I am doing and although that has its moments of annoyance, I also know it is helping her to continue the assurance that I am the person she can trust.  She loves her brothers and sister and looks forward to the bus bringing Lily and Toby home from school so she can be with them.  Quinn and Nora have some more learning to do of each other, but as Nora learns to use her words more and more and Quinn understands the limits of what brotherly teasing she can handle, I know they will do much better with each other.  We can definitely tell she has grown up around other children and lots of activity as she really thrives in this environment the most.

She is definitely still 2 years old and testing her boundaries more and more each day it seems, which is both hard and good.  This is a good thing in that it helps her establish what is okay and what is not okay, but it is wearing a little bit on this Mama.  It is hard to hear myself correcting, directing, and having to constantly be helping Nora know what is okay and what is not okay without much feedback from her to know if she is understanding anything or not (I know, I know, welcome back to the 2 year old stage!).  The times to love on her, cuddle, smile, and laugh are critical because much of the day is spent saying "no, no, no", "no touch", "Nora, listen to my words", "Nora, use your words," etc.  I know these parental duties are also a huge sign of love from me to her as I am trying to help her stay safe, become confident, and thrive in her environment, but it takes intentionality to also soften up and show her in the mix that Mommies can be silly and fun too.  We have one stubborn girl on her hands so she fits into this family well I guess.  I look forward to the day when more of the expectations and understandings are known (and obeyed) and we can just have fun together.  The phrase "parenting is hard work and parenting is heart work" is true whether you grew them in your belly or in your heart!

See, not always happy faces from this sweet 2 year old when she doesn't get her way!

Speaking of Nora using her words...she is learning more and more English, but for the most part she is still simply repeating a lot of what we are saying to her.  She understands most of what we are asking of her at this point whether she knows how to verbally respond or not.  If we ask her to do something or go get something, she will do exactly what we are asking of her OR she will shake her head "no" and stubbornly try to resist what we are asking of her...remember, she's 2!  Ha!  She still has her thick Creole/French accent, but from what we hear she will slowly start to lose it the more language she picks up.  She may still be saying some things in Creole, but it is hard to tell what is babble and what is Creole since we don't know the language ourselves.  Most of her speaking is one word sentences or two word sentences.  If she knows the English word for whatever she is talking about, she likes to use it.  For example, "outside", "ears", "silly", "chair", "ouch", "jump", "eat", "coat", "shoes", "slippers", "zipper", "baby", "eyes", "nose", "bye, bye", "hi", "nigh-night", "hat",  "socks", "pants", "shirt", "hair", "Mommy watch", "thank you", "YES!", "no" and all of our names are pretty well said words at this point.

As for myself, I am adjusting to the changes of being a mom of 4 and a mom of a toddler again slowly but fairly well.  Currently, Micah has done a wonderful job of letting me get out to the store or to a meeting sans children in the evenings in order for me to gain a bit of my sanity back in an "adult world".  Tonight is his company holiday party so we are looking forward to our first date without Nora along since she has been home.  It is double nice knowing we have awesome friends who are willing to try out the first babysitting for her and the others together with no Mom or Dad.  If all goes well tonight, I will begin attempting my regular trade-off babysitting with a friend that we have been doing two mornings a week/every other week for a few years now.  I have truly missed these "breaks" from motherhood since Nora has been home and look forward to a quiet house with no responsibilities for a few hours again here and there.  If Nora doesn't seem to be adjusting well then we'll pull back for a while and try again later.  You never know till you try though and I believe we are finally to a point where trying is a great idea...for all of us!

I will leave you with a video and a ton of photos we have had taken over the past month.  The more "formal" family photos were taken by a friend from church (Brandi Gingerich) who has her own photography business called Glimpse Photography.  You can find her on facebook here if you are interested in having your own family photos taken!  The rest are just candids of Nora and the fam over December and Christmas times with family.  Until next time...whenever that may be...have a beautiful, wonderful, amazing start to this new year, friends!

For whatever reason, I'm not getting my YouTube videos to post on here (insert GRRR...) so here is the link to the video:

We love how Nora is looking at us in this one.  It's like she's saying, "Ummm...what is wrong with these crazy people?"
If you remember the paper chain Lily made for the past 2 years and 4 months (adding a link for every day waiting for Nora to come home), this is the final product all stretched out!  It is also what is hung in the tree in the following photos.
Silly Nora!  She wore these gloves and glasses all morning and cried when I had to take them off for lunch and nap time.
Photos of her first time out playing in the snow--she LOVED it!
Quinn has found his partner in silly crime!
Daddy reading the Christmas Story before gift time
LEGO central for the boys this Christmas.
Us girls being silly
Silly Nora faces
Sisterly Love
Latta Side Family Photo
Grandma and Grandpa finally got to hold Nora and have it be all smiles!
My mom made all the grandkids awesome robes for Christmas.  They wear them daily and I love knowing they were made with Grandma love!
My dad made the grandkids very special birth date-numbered post office box banks from the year he graduated high school with wood from a tree he bought with his own grandfather.  He then divided out his change jar between all of them.  Priceless gifts and moments.
The Thieszen side Family Photo (minus Micah's sister Sara and her family and his sister, Kristi)
All smiles for Papa T, who was reunited with Nora after he was able to visit with her twice in Haiti before she even came home.
There may be a cowgirl in her yet, Uncle Jerry.
We loved meeting our newest family member--our niece, Olivia!
Strong Uncle Charlie
Aunt Judi made the two new girls into the cutest little elephants ever!
Aunt Rachel made these sweet hats for my sweet girls.  Love them and her!