It has been a time of adjustment and transition for everyone, getting to know our wee ones, and changing our lives to be a family of twelve with TEN children, ages 2 to 17. The little girls are doing great. Kahsu is the little one, two years old as of the end of November, and came home at a miniscule weight of 15.8 pounds. As of Thursday the29th she weighed in at 17 pounds! So a gain of 1.2 pounds in two weeks. She runs around, plays with the animals and her siblings, and chatters up a storm. She is a strong willed little girl, but as she adjusts she is doing more interacting rather than tantruming, which we are grateful for! In fact, tantrums are generally reduced to twice a day, and generally over predictable things that you would expect from two year old. She loves to be held, and will take us by the hand to show us things she is interested in. Her smile lights up the room and it is hard to not give her everything when she smiles at you. (As I write this, she and Aman are playing and she is giggling up a storm, squealing and chattering with him.)
Azeb is the bigger of the girls - three years old Christmas Eve. We didn't really have preconceived notions about what a three year old with Down Syndrome would be like, given that she hadn't had early intervention or anything. Well, I haven't done a formal assessment, but she is pretty spot on as far as I am concerned. She runs and climbs and is well know as the "entertainment committee" , and she has never met someone whom she did not consider her best friend. We know that she uses at least 20 words in Tigrayna, and has learned four signs (more, eat, please, all done) since I took custody. She understands and follows multistep directions - some in English with gestures, and some in Amharic. She remembers really well and imitates everything wonderfully. She is a sunny, energetic, expressive child. Busy is a very good description of her. But in a delightful way. We had to get child sized brooms because she was wanting to sweep like we do and nearly taking everything out with the handle of the big broom!!! We even bought a little broom to take to the stable with us because she loves to follow behind and sweep!
Oh, my. The big kids are playing with the littles so I can write this, and they are surely getting them wound up, and hopefully exhausted. I am hearing squeals, laughter, screams and giggles quite loudly. It is an interesting mix having teens down to toddlers - the phrases you hear sometimes are hysterical. Such as: a teen is sitting between the two car seats in the car as we run her to a friend's house - "Don't you touch me with those sticky fingers!" I just giggle. Of course, said teen did end up part way covered in cracker crumbs!
When people ask the kids how it is going they generally say "loud" though that has gotten to be less and less of the response as time has gone on. It is getting easier every day and more routine. When Kahsu runs in here by the computer as I type this, with Faith crawling close behind, pretending to be a puppy, Kahsu squealing all the way, and she puts up her arms for me to take her, and throws those tiny arms around my neck - well, how can you not just melt? Then she wiggles down, blows me kisses, waves "bye" and runs off, big sister close behind.
I have to say, having parented toddlers before, raising them to teens and getting to start over, is great fun. It turns out, I still have a huge bag of tricks and tons of experience that really means not much phases us. If we haven't experienced it, we have talked to other parents over the years who have. So, I can confess to you, that YES, I DO duct tape Azeb's diapers closed. NOT on the skin, but across the tabs to keep them closed. You really don't even have to ask why we had to resort to that - let's just say that you can only fool Mom three times (and make a horrible mess that nearly makes THIS mom gag) before she pulls out the big guns. So, yes, in our diaper bag you will find a scissors (needed to get it off) and duct tape. And the diaper bag stays securely closed and up high, away from little fingers. LOL! I have a whole different perspective on it this time around. I have seen my littles grow up into bigs and all that goes between, and can relax a little and enjoy this without some of the worries I had before. Each child is different, and has different needs and challenges, but I find that wealth of experience is great help. I can relax and delight in some of this, where before I may have felt unsure about some things. I know that many things are phases of development and will pass, and some are growing experiences.
So, yes, we are fine. Exhausted, but fine. Learning to balance our new life. I don't try to go to Wednesday night church myself - the littles need to head to bed and it is just too late, but I take the bigs to meet up with Dad, swap vehicles and head home to snuggle the littles before sleep. It is a new pattern, but a nice one. There are some things that we just have to change. There are some things that need to flex some. But it is all good. We are thanking God daily, when we have a moment to breathe and realize that after all that, they are really here, really thriving, and our family is blessed. Busy, but blessed.
Our current list of activities for all the kids include: work (three kids), horse training/lessons, kennel club (same class for three kids and three dogs), 4H (less active than we had been previously), church, music lessons, and band (Alex). It is busy, wonderful and fairly balanced. We try to have only two busy days, balanced by two entire days at home, and two less busy and then Sundays. The big kids need to have their things that they are interested in and growth, but it needs to be balanced by sanity and everyone's needs. The boys are looking forward to soccer season starting in May, and Kiley to horse show season, also starting in early May. Thankfully, the little girls love the horses! And running around watching the soccer games will be great, but we will need to make sure they don't run ONTO the field to join their siblings!
I will try to update more frequently, but it will likely be at weird times (when everyone is asleep and I hv
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11