Friday, July 31, 2015

Little House

A couple of months ago this house went on clearance. We thought is was so cute, we couldn't resist since the price was right. But we had to finish leveling the yard for her to use it. Asthon would see the box and ask when her house would be built. Well, a few months later, and we're still not there. So we decided to build it anyway and let her play with it in the garage while it's still summer and hopefully it will move to it's final place soon.

Ashton loves her house.

It has an outdoor eating area with lights.

It has a dutch door, which Ashton loves.

Windows everywhere for natural light.

She's already moved in furniture... her Darth Vadar chair fits snugly inside. In the back of the house is the kitchen with a sink and stove and basket for fruit.

But Ashton's favorite parts are the bell and mailbox.

She keeps asking if anyone will send her mail. So we'll be sure that happens someday soon. In the mean time she mails herself fruit.

I'm hoping Sunday to take her to find small flower pots and put in flowers at the front of her house. The empty holes just look so bare and lifeless. I'm going to let her pick what flowers she wants as long as it stays within budget. I don't know how well fake flowers will last, but we'll see how they fair.

She hasn't had the neighbor kids over in her house yet. But I bet soon. I can't imagine they'd let her play here all by herself. And I'm hoping that the leveling of the ground and regrassing will happen very soon. The rotatiller has been over the area, but it still needs more dirt to be leveled and then we will need to lay down the sod before the sod is gone for the season. But it's been raining so much this summer, we haven't been able to knock it off.

At least her house is up and I love how it makes the garage smell of cedar. It smells so good. I hate to have the smell leave.

I'm hoping to seal the wood on Sunday. I'll see if I can find a sealant and work on the house on Sunday. That's the plan, anyway.

So more house adventures to come!
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sleepless Nights

I praise God for giving us an amazing life. We have employment, shelter, food, love... all the necessities in life. It's a really good life. So when I talk about our struggles, it's not that I'm ungrateful or dwelling on the bad. I'm just being realistic. Saying how it is. Life isn't all roses, and I'm not going to share all our struggles out on the world wide web, but I'm willing to show glimpses about daily life. and I want Ashton to know the ups and downs of her childhood. Especially the arts she won't remember when she grows up. I'd like her to see how loved she was and the good and bad days. And I want her to see how we did our best we could to manage them. I think this blog is priceless for her.

But I'm off point.

Most of our struggles have been sleeping... or the lack there of. It's been no secret. And I sleep very little to begin with. I now have a fitbit and I come to find out I sleep roughly 3.5 hours a night! That's crazy. It says I'm restless the rest of the time. So if I don't get my sleep, I'm very cranky. Sleep affects me greatly.

So it's a blessing that I have a great husband that will help out in those wee hours of the night to help out with Ashton if she's crying.

Well, Ashton has had about 4 terrible nights in a row. Last night was my turn. You wouldn't believe with all her "friends" above and having Peyton the cat and Kiara the pekingese on her bed, that she'd feel alone. But she does. And when she wakes up, it's hard to console her. She can cry hard for hours until she falls back to sleep.

Last night, she woke up about 1am. Not hungry, not with foot pain, but scared to be alone. I tried consoling her and she just wouldn't stop shaking or crying. So I told her to come to our room. It slowly subsided and she slept through the night after that. I just wish she felt safe and not abandoned if we're not within sight. But that isn't the case. So we do our best to show her we're here. We're not going anywhere.

Also, yesterday we just got notification from her daycare of another week off. This time in October. I hated finding out 2 months in advance. We need more time to properly plan. Even if it's in their contract that they get 2 weeks off a year, when I got the first newsletter in January and saw the July week, I thought that was it. Silly me!

There are some problems with the time off. One, I don't have the vacation to stay with her. And two, my husband will be out of town for work. I'm sure I can have my brother or mother help out a day here or there. And I may be able for a day... but I've got to find alternative daycare. A back up. Something. And that unknown doesn't sit well with me.

I'm a planner. I hate not having a back up for something like this. I know I can manage it; and worst case, I'll work from home with her (but I know with just Ashton and me, I won't get much work done - that's more for her sick days). But I want something better than that. I'm doing my best not to fret about it and cast my worries to God. He's got it all taken care of. But right now, I'm trying to control the anxiety I feel.

With all her mosquito bites she's getting from playing out side and being filthy dirty, then hearing this. her daycare is good, but I worry isn't in her best interests. I know they love her and she's been learning a lot, but right now, I'm just tired of any daycare drama. And there really is't any drama... it's not on fire or closing... I've jumped those hurdles before. But this surprise and all the little things, I'm just saddened that things aren't falling into place and that I feel like it's always a bit of a struggle in that department.

I'm doing my best to quickly find alternative back up daycare. I just pray, it doesn't cost more or is too scary for her (she has anxiety about being alone... I can't imagine a brand new place for just a week. It will have to be a very special person or place.) I'm trying to see this as a test God is putting me through so I can rise to the challenge. Again, I DO know without a doubt, that it'll be okay. I can watch her, worst case, while working - but that's not ideal. I'd like ideal, if I can get it. So I'm going to try and see what resources I have out there or look around at alternative temporary care.

I just wish I had the plan now. I'm not patient. And I want to have several backup plans, ideal ones, not worst case. But that's okay. Right now I don't need ideal. I'm safe in knowing I do have a back-up plan. Not the best, but it's me, and I'm best for her. Hopefully, work would understand if it comes to this. They have before.

So here she is with Fancy this morning. My little pirate. Covered in band-aids to stop her from scratching her mosquito bites raw and ready for daycare.

I will way it was great that it was a good drop off day. She had no tears, no "Stay", she ran off without a care in the world.

Sometimes, it's the little things like that which help make it a better day to face the challenges head on.

So as I was saying before... blessed life, amazingly happy life, but still a few hurdles to keep me grounded and keep it all in perspective and appreciate the blessings we have.
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Baby Shower

On my mother's side of the family, Ashton has a lot of girl cousins. Miss M who is going off to college this year. Miss E who is 7. Miss E who is 5. Miss M who is 3. Well 7 year old Miss E will be getting a baby brother this September. Mr. L. So there will finally be a boy on this side of the family and Miss E will have a sibling.

So before we set off to the baby shower, Ashton came to me very concerned. "I don't want to go to the baby shower" she said. It was a much different tune than earlier where she was excited and wanted to ensure her cousins would be there to play with. I asked her why. "I don't want to get wet." 

She thought we were going to bathe the baby together. I told her it was a party instead, and she wanted to know the party theme. But she was still a bit unsure, curious about the baby.

When we arrived I showed her Miss J. and her belly holding the baby. I showed her all the gifts and cake and Ashton seemed satisfied. Then she went off to play with her cousins.

She had a great time. She played, she ate, she was disappointed to leave at the end of it.

We can't wait to meet Mr. L!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bunny Feet

Yesterday, when I picked up Ashton from daycare I asked how she was. How long did the whaling last after I left.

I was told she was great once I left and headed to breakfast. Misses me like crazy until I'm gone! Geez.

Ashton has a pair of daycare sneakers that she wears to play outside. That way her other shoes last and don't get dirty.

Well, when I went to pick her up, she was outside playing with her sneakers on sort of. They were like slippers. She was crushing the backs and didn't have her foot all the way in. They told me that they're too small now. My little girl is growing.

So the size 5s are now too small. So I decided when we got home we'd try on all her size 5 shoes and see what she's officially grown out of and what she can still wear.

We laid them all out on the floor in front of us. Those that fit went back in the shoe drawer. Those that were too small went in the trash bag to take out of her room.

She'd outgrown a lot of them, but some did still fit (though some snug). And then I went through her future sized shoe tub to see what I had in size 6 or 7 that she could wear.

We found these bunny boots that LauLau had gotten many years ago while we were still waiting. They finally fit. She looked adorable in the boots. Completely impractical, but so cute! Don't know what she'll wear them with. Will have to find some snow bunny outfits this fall.

We found a couple of pair of shoes she could wear, but no new daycare shoes. So we'll have to go shopping for practical sneakers this weekend for daycare play.

Then it was bath time. I love her pirate hoodie towel. She's grown much since she first wore it. It used to drag on the ground. But she's still as charming in it as ever!

This morning when we left for daycare, I put on her heart with "A" charm necklace she got from her Godmother M. from Finland. I also drew another heart on her hand. But told her I wouldn't anymore if she got upset like she did yesterday. And that if she was good today when I dropped her off I'd continue the hearts.

Lo and behold, she ran straight in for a hug from her daycare provider and was all smiles. I was able to drop off and leave! Let's see if this will hold up again for awhile.

Raising a child is definitely a day by day process and some days you leap ahead and others you fall backwards. But the roller-coaster ride is worth it.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Broken Heart

What works one day, doesn't necessarily work the next. This is something you learn quickly with a child.

Ashton was doing so well. We watched the "Kissing Hand" every night and I drew a new heart on her hand every morning. She would love to show off the new color and she'd ask to watch the "Kissing Hand" as she enjoyed it so much.

However, even with these armed in my back pocket to help with separation anxiety, this morning it was to no avail.

She was clinging to me and this time, crying! It broke my heart.

I'm sure she thought I was breaking hers. I tried so hard to console her, but she couldn't listen to me over her sobbing. I just had to put her in the daycare provider's arms and walk away. It hurt so much.

I tried telling her I always come back. I tried telling her she could call me at any time. I told her I loved her. But it was on deaf ears. It didn't matter. All that mattered was I was leaving.

I have a few other things to yet try. But it's still no substitute for being there. How I wish I could. I'd love to just sit and rock her and hold each other. But in reality, bills must be paid and so I must work.

I try explaining that too to her. Yeah, so doesn't matter.

Hopefully, per her usual, she just bounced back after I left. I won't know until later today.

I just hated leaving her without her feeling secure. I feel as if I failed in that moment. And I want her to feel so loved, that she doesn't feel abandoned anytime I leave. But I know that sometimes, no matter what you do, they'll cry if you leave.

But I won't let that deter me. I will keep looking for answers to help her broken heart. And until I do, I can only pray that God helps calm her and let her bounce back quickly as she usually does.

But whether it's 5 minutes or 45 minutes of crying and missing her parents, it isn't easy and my poor heart breaks for her broken heart. I just want to hug her until all the pieces mend back together.
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hitting the Dunes

A couple of years ago, we went to Indiana Dunes. We've been wanting to go back, but between weather and the drive it has to be almost perfect timing to do so. So we weren't able to make it last year. However, we finally could today.

This time we packed sunscreen instead of bug spray and we had Ashton in the right sized swimsuit. In fact it's the exact same swimsuit she wore 2 years ago. And it fits like a glove now. We brought a beach tent to help keep the sun off, we thought we were much better prepared this time.

It only got up into the low 80s so the water was freezing cold! But that didn't stop Ashton. She was more than ready for the beach.

The first things she started doing were leaps of joy! Definitely not scared of the sand like she was two years ago.

Then she got buried in the sand by her daddy to her delight. 

Then she wanted to build a sandcastle... and it quickly turned into getting buckets of water and making "hot chocolate" instead. She made hot chocolate for everyone.

Ashton was a very busy girl, lots to do.

The beach go crowded very quickly. But that didn't slow down our girl at all. I think it only encouraged her. 

Soon she started doing "laps" in the water and was so proud of her "swimming" which consisted of her crawling on her hands along the water and feet floating out. She wanted to be sure that her daddy and I were watching her feat at all times. And we told her many times how impressed we were of her.

She never slowed down for a minute. And as we had a 3 hour drive back we had to leave while things were still in high swing. And Ashton had a melt down. She didn't like leaving her beach. And she tried to go out further in the water to stop us from getting her back on land. I had to walk her back to the parking lot with her crying and kicking her feet. What a fun way to end the day. We had several talks with her about it, hopefully they sunk in.

We thought everything went well. However, on the ride back I zonked out. Turned out I was sunburned. So was my husband and Ashton had a deep tan. The sunblock that we got didn't work. It was a dud! Even with me in the tent most of the time, I ended up with burns across my head, neck, back, shoulders, chest, legs, same with the husband. Ashton luckily doesn't burn like us and just tanned up. But it'd be nice to eventually get to go to the beach and enjoy it without turning into a lobster every time! Sigh!! Not getting generic sunscreen to save money ever again!

I hope we can go back again this year. I don't think it'll happen. We're so busy every weekend through September, but you never know. If nothing else, we'll try and hit a pool sometime and with better sunscreen!
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Jesus Loves Me

Today was the last day of VBS. Ashton said her favorite part was singing. So I asked her to sing a song, and this is what I got.

They ended with focusing on Jesus is the light. Ashton ended up with glow sticks with that written on it. She was very protective of her glow sticks and slept with them when she went to bed.

Seems VBS was a hit!
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My Heart is Always with You

Ashton's artwork from VBS yesterday... the cross she made.

I'll ask her about it and all I can get from her on what she does there is sing. I know she does so much more, but what else can you get from a 3 year old?

But before that, all day yesterday I worried about Ashton being "left alone". I wanted to be sure I was prepared with some new ideas if things got worse for Ashton. I've done a lot of reading about adoption, before I ever was matched. Separation anxiety was discussed. So was the exact opposite. But still, to me it seemed only natural to go to one of my Facebook adoption groups and ask other parents what they've done. I got almost 100 comments. All those suggestions, it's a wonderful support system. I got all varying bits of information. From others relating their stories, some saying it's natural for even non-adoptive kids, most saying the kid will grow out of it - eventually, to others saying get her therapy, to here are some tricks to try.

As she's not screaming, crying, or anything extreme, I don't think she needs counseling. But I did write down my favorites to try.

  • I bought matching heart necklaces which we both wore and touched to be close when we missed each other. - As Ashton loves jewelry, I could see this or a variation of this for her. I love her locket of us, but it's too valuable for her to loose at daycare, so she doesn't wear it. But maybe a cheaper version just for daycare... to see her family.
  • Read the story "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn and then plant a bunch of kisses in the palm of each others hands ( unlimited supply planted every morning). That way during the day they can get a kiss whenever they want one. A reading of the book is below. - Ashton loves books and little rituals, so this could be a great thing.
  •  I would draw a little heart on her hand with marker and give it a kiss. She would look at it during the day whenever she needed some comfort. (even give it a kiss) Helped immensely. - Ashton loves face painting, so why not a heart on her hand from her Mommy.
  • I would say I wanted 3 kisses. I would get 2 from her and tell I would be back for the 3rd later. This helped her to know I would come back, because I had to to get that 3rd kiss. It sounds silly, but it is totally logical in the mind of a 3 year old. - Easy enough to try, and I see Ashton waiting for it.
  • Someone told a trick to give the child some thing to care for until you meet again. It can be a teddy or just something of yours so that she knows you'll be back and she will put her focus on the subject not on missing you. - Transference, I get that. She's not really into dolls, but maybe for this instance it may work. Would have to be sure it's something that can get dirty or mishandled easily since she's at a daycare. And get a spare for if it's forgotten, lost, etc.
  • Give her something of yours she can wear. Sometimes I gave them my necklace that I wear all the time, to wear. It was easier for them to believe I would comeback for the necklace than for them.

Hearing some plans did my heart good. I felt armed with best intentions rather than feeling guilty that my daughter felt abandoned. So after the workday, I went to pick up Ashton, waiting to hear how it went. I assumed not worst case scenario as I didn't get a call from her.

So as for how she did yesterday "being left alone". Her daycare provider told me, unlike the day before, once I left, all was great. Her usual self. No problems. Of course! So I was the one worrying and she was fine. But if it happened once it could happen again, and at bedtime it's obviously a concern. So I wasn't going to let it slide.

Once I picked her up and asked her if she was ready for VBS, she immediately said, "Don't leave me alone". So I knew that yes, she'll be fine, but it's the initial leaving that is scary, not the actual act itself (except when she's alone at bedtime).

So as VBS was immediately after daycare, I didn't have time to do any of the things mentioned above. So I just used bribery. She could come home after VBS and instead of going to bed, stay up and watch a movie if she was a big girl and didn't fuss when I dropped her off. And guess what, worked like a charm. She so wanted to see "The Croods" again!

But that wouldn't work as a permanent solution for future.

So, what did I do? Last night, after VBS, since I didn't have time to buy a book or buy matching jewelry, I did the easiest ones. I played "The Kissing Hand" video for her before bed, and I kisses her hands and she mine. She seemed to really like it. It did nothing to help her go to bed with me leaving the room, but it was a start on making her know I was always there.

Then the morning of, I kissed her hands again and decided to give her a special gift. My heart.

I drew my heart on her hand for her telling her she had my heart and kisses to keep her safe and warm and knew I'd come back. She was so scared to smear the heart. She kept saying not to touch her hand!

She was so proud of the heart. When she was dropped off to daycare she wanted to show off her heart on her hand. Didn't worry about me leaving at all. Now I know this newness will wear off, but maybe if I do different designs, or try a varying arrangement of the suggestions to keep it fresh, perhaps it will help. Time will only tell.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Don't Leave me Alone

Overall, I think we are a very fortunate family. Many adoptive families have had attachment challenges, medical challenges, and so many hurdles to help overcome. Ashton has be relatively easy.

On Gotcha Day all the kids were mourning and wailing in fear. Rightfully so. Not our girl. She was chill, as long as you didn't take any of her food away. And since day one, she's always been "goes with the flow" carefree type of girl. Now don't get me wrong, she's 3. She does get stubborn and upset over silly things.

And yes, we've had our medical issues. All which have been resolved discreetly. The only SN that can easily be seen is her petite size.

We are not the norm when it comes to adoption. Our girl has been the best case scenario for a lot of instances. But when things do come up, we really notice. Whether it's adoption related or not.

Our biggest hurdle has been her sleeping. It's gotten a lot better over the past few months. She sleeps well some nights, others not so well. We play each night by ear. Sometimes we let her co-sleep with us. Others, we sit and rock her to sleep. Others we just let the dog sleep with her. We have a bag full of different remedies depending on her need that night. 

The trigger for her night problems. Almost every night she asks "Don't leave me" or "I don't want to be alone" before she sleeps. And I stay with her until she falls asleep. Usually that works. Not many children like the dark or want to be alone before bed. But because of her adoption, we do take this more seriously than if she wasn't.

Her fear of being alone or us leaving her happens anytime she is dropped off. Everyday when I drop her off at daycare, she clings and tells me not to leave, but 30 seconds later after I left, she's in good spirits. The exact same thing happens at Sunday school. And we make sure our seats are closest to the door so she can see us, just in case. But after we've left after a few seconds she's fine and all is well.

Even if LauLau is home with her and her Daddy and I go out, she make a big to-do about us leaving. We get that. But we always know she'll be fine once we're out the door. It's always helped my heart to know she brightens up after I'm gone. Otherwise, everyday would be so hard to leave her.

But that is usually how far it's gone. Night time before bed and drop offs at daycare or Sunday school.

Yesterday, at daycare she cried for about 45 minutes saying she didn't want me to leave her (And this happened while I was not there). Her daycare provider couldn't console her. She was concerned if she should call me at work or not. She didn't want to make her longing worse. Luckily, it only lasted that 45 minutes and the rest of the time was how it usually was - a happy-go-lucky girl.

This morning, the first thing she said when she woke up was, "Don't leave me". She clinged to me like glue. It took an extra 10 minutes to drop her off at daycare. She didn't cry, but she clung and kept asking me to stay.

Her daycare provider decided today she could be a special helper trying to help out the situation. And I told her today, she could call me at work if she wanted. I don't want to feed this, but I tell her I always come back. I reassured her the best I could. I tell her I have to work to feed and shelter her and that I'm coming back for her as soon as I can, like I do everyday.

She had no daycare last week and one of us parents were with her throughout that week, so maybe that is feeding into this?

But is this a phase or something deeper? I'm beginning to get concerned. This morning was heartbreaking. I can only hope her day goes better. This is going to be a rough morning being apart from her.

If I knew it'd help, I would have taken PTO and spent the day with her. But did that help last week? And what would tomorrow bring. I can't do this everyday, and I can't quit work and be a SAHM. Today will be hard until I know she's okay.

I can't tell her enough, I will never leave her alone. She will never be alone.
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Monday, July 13, 2015

The Sheep

Today at VBS Ashton got to pet a sheep and learned about the missing sheep and the Shepard who found him.

She made a sheep from cheerios and a paper plate. I don't know why it has 4 eyes and why the eyes are not together, but this is a special sheep.

When we left the handler was still allowing kids to pet the sheep. Ashton of course was all about petting it again. So we let her and the handler said that they were going to China to adopt for the first time. Their son is there, they're matched and she was waiting for her fingerprint appointment.

We chatted for a good 10 minutes about adoption. It's funny how you learn about more adoptive families once you're in the process or have already adopted.

Last night, when Ashton went to bed, there were tons of thunderstorms. But our little girl hasn't woken. She went to bed without a fuss and is sleeping soundly. I don't know why tonight is different, but we'll take it.
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

First Day of VBS

My husband went to vacation bible school as a kid. I never did. I don't know if my church's I went to over the years never had them, or if it was too much for my parents to enroll us kids in them, but I don't remember any VBS growing up. So when asked if we would sign Ashton up, I wasn't sure what it all entailed, but I hoped she wasn't too young for it.

We signed her up weeks ago and today saw it partially set up during service for the first day of VBS. Ashton was excited by the balloons.

I had to run over to her to make sure she didn't get "into" the tent. But she loved all the green and balloons.

She sat down next to this guy, by the fire. She was looking at all the fun balloons, when I wanted to take a cute snapshot of her with "Mr. Rogers" I called him. None of the kids knew who that was. So I told Ashton to look up. And of course, it true Ashton style, she literally looked up and wouldn't stop. This was the best photo I could take of her.

She didn't know what VBS was, but knew she wanted to go back to the balloons later that day.

They had t all set up really nicely. When we arrived, There were at least 100 kids in line to register in. The teams were broken up by age groups. The team names were of forest creatures. There were the Snakes, Squirrels, Foxes... Ashton was a Firefly. And her team color (the t-shirt color) that the Fireflies were was red.

Ashton got an XS shirt... which must have been for at least a 5 year old, it was HUGE. So we got a rubber-band to knot it up on the side to make it easier, but it kept falling off her shoulder.

We dropped her off and we had 2 hours alone without her. It was crazy. We rarely are without her. If so, it's for a quick date night about once every 3-4 months or so. So we don't get out much. So what did we do without her? We went grocery shopping. It was so nice for us to both go and not have to keep after a toddler.

We're hoping the next night to get some housework done! Don't we know how to make the most of an Ashton-less 2 hours?

We got back about 5 minutes before pickup and we ran upstairs to watch.

Ashton was having a blast.

She was rockin' out! Of course being darkly lit and up far away, the photos weren't too grea and zoomed video a bit funky in color. But it was cool to see none the less.

When I asked Ashton what her favorite part was, she told me it was the music. When we picked her up she had made a medical kit from construction paper. Inside were band-aids taped to it, cotton balls glued inside and a tongue depressor. She even told us she got to play outside.

I'm glad it went so well. I can't wait for her future VBS nights and see what more she'll do.
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