Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why JUST Is A Four-Letter Word

We were at lunch with some sweet friends last week when it happened. It was a very common lunchtime conversation moms have about this time of year, and it went something like this. 

Mom A: "We are so bored, you guys. If I have to fight with them about the iPad again today, I might just lose it." 
Mom B: "Amen. When does school go back in session again?"
Mom A: "Not soon enough. Thank God for camps, though, right?" 
Mom C: "Yeah, I'm ready, too...but I just have one kid, so I have no right to complain." 

And then, two hours later, it happened again on the phone.

Mom Friend: "I just don't know how to get her to stop throwing such awful fits."
Me: "I wish I knew. Three kids in, and I still don't know how to diffuse some of their rants."
Mom Friend: "It's exhausting. I don't know how you do it everyday, all day. I just have them nights and weekends, and I can't even do it right." 

Six years ago, almost to the day, I dropped 12-week-old Carter off at his first day of daycare. I cried the whole way to work and everyday I dropped him off for the next nine months. It was the hardest year of my life, and I ended up in therapy for the first time since high school that spring. 

I just had one kid.

I just had him nights and weekends.

Here's the thing - life and parenting is HARD. Period. No matter the age. No matter the stage. No matter if we have one kid or twelve. No matter if we work outside the home or inside the home. No matter if we're single or divorced or have been married 42 years. 

And when we put a qualifier on our struggles like just, we discredit our struggle because someone else, it seems, has it harder. We feel as if we have to justify ourselves for thinking it's hard because we "JUST" something...we just have one kid, we just see them after day care, we just have kids without special needs, we just have biological kids, we just have boys, we just have girls, we just stay at home...the list could go on and on.

I've been thinking a lot lately about why we do this just thing with regards to sharing our struggles, and here's why it bothers me so much - it stems from comparison. How many times have we, as women or moms, had a conversation with a friend where we compared our children? I'm not sure I can remember a play date or a conversation I've had with other moms where comparison DIDN'T happen. It comes as naturally as breathing. We do it in an attempt to find common ground, but the truth is that comparing our children usually doesn't find common usually just leaves us feeling bad about ourselves or unnecessarily worried about our children.

Oh, your kid was speaking full sentences at 18 months? Mine only said mama and dada.
Oh, your kid was fully potty-trained by two? Mine still needs a diaper at almost three.
Oh, your kid was reading by four? Mine is getting tutoring in second grade.
Oh, your kid licks the wall? Okay, yeah, mine doesn't do that. 

But, you get the point!

Can I let you in on a secret? When God created you, He created you and wired you in such a specific way that you have the exact right tools to parent the children He's given you. No one else. Those little cherubs were made specifically for YOU. Period. There's no need to compare when He equipped YOU for the job.  

So, a favor, ladies...the next time you find yourself tempted to downplay or discredit a struggle you're facing just because someone else seemingly has it harder, give yourself some grace. Quit the comparison trap. You are the only one in the world in  your exact circumstances. Parenting your exact children. 

And you know what? You are just what they need.
Monday, June 26, 2017

Post Adoption: 7 Months Home

This sweet boy has been home seven months! (Okay, seven months and some change. Summer is hard.) 

It's crazy to think that a year ago, we hadn't even seen his face yet, and now we can't imagine our life without him. What an amazing God we serve.

So, let's's what has been going on this month with our Brooks!

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT: Not a whole lot of change here...Brooks continues to be 90 mph most of the time. Blake and I have both noticed that he's gotten heavier lately, so I'm very curious what his weight is now. I'm guessing 21-22 pounds, but since we haven't been to the doctor in a while, I'm truthfully not sure. His clothes seem to be getting tighter, too, so I'm eager to see how he's grown! 

ATTACHMENT: All good things here! This month, he got pretty particular about only wanting Mommy to do certain things...that was kind of hard, but it's also totally normal toddler behavior. As I'm writing this, he's currently at his first preschool camp...his first separation for longer than an hour in a structured, school-like environment. Prayers! I'll let you know how he did later this week.

LANGUAGE: I'd definitely say this has been his biggest improvement again this month. He's trying to string words together which is super cute. He'll try to say "Bye bye Carter," "Night night Daddy," and things like that. It's not totally clear yet, but he's trying which is just about all I can hope for right now.
He's also gotten really into animal and vehicle sounds this month. He knows the sounds that cows, monkeys, snakes, dogs, cats, horses, ducks, and birds make, and he'll also say "beep beep" or "vroom" for cars and "chugga chugga choo choo" for trains. It's pretty adorable if I do say so myself. Also...I've never had a kid before that lined up cars. I've always seen other kids do it, but mine never have. Brooks LOVES to do this...and it's apparently exhausting. ;)

SLEEP: So, we finally weaned him off Melatonin this month which means the days of rocking him to sleep are gone. He has a very hard time winding down and shutting off at night, so we started a new ritual at night where we tuck in his stuffed animals ("woof woof" and "ah ah," his monkey and dog) with one of his blankets and then tuck him in with his blanket. We give everyone kisses and say "night night" and then I leave the room. 99.9% of the time he doesn't fuss and simply yells "night night" back to me once the door shuts and then he goes to sleep.
Part of me is so happy about this because it shows tremendous attachment growth and also shows that he feels safe, but I won't lie, I kind of miss the snuggles! Part of growing up, I know...but knowing he's probably our last baby, it's hard to let go!

FOOD: This continues to basically be his love language. No real change here other than he fell in love with whole milk yogurt pouches this month. Mom didn't fall in love with the price (over $1 per pouch...ouch!), but since we can't get more than a few sips of milk into him here and there, I know he needs the calcium and vitamin D, so we bite the bullet and pay it. 

HEALTH: No sickness this month, and we've cut our breathing treatments down to just once a day! WOO-freaking-HOO! He also got two thumbs up at his post-op check with the urologist, so that was great to hear! Healthy boy! 

Brooks is no longer "unaware" when the big kids get treats...and must have one of his own. SIGH. So, this month, he's had his first Blizzard, Slurpee, and ice cream sandwich.
Maybe that's why he's heavier? ;) 

This kid will NOT be left out of pictures. He will weasel his little tushy in the middle of the mix and "DEE!" (cheese) until the cows come home. He wants to be IN the mix...such a stinker! Also, he has NO IDEA how many "big brothers" he actually has. This kid is so doted on by all of our friends and their kids that I'm quite certain NO ONE will mess with him. He has been so incredibly accepted and loved by so truly takes a village, y'all. 

He has some mad love for the splash pad... 

and went to the zoo for the first time this month!

And got another haircut...why does he looks SO BIG?!! 

We love this little man something fierce...looking forward to all the next month will bring with his first trip to the lake, moving into our new house, and another week of camp! Happy Monday, friends! 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Post Adoption: 5 and 6 Months Home's been a while. ;) And it would appear I have missed quite a few updates on my dusty little blog here. EEEK.

I could write a litany of excuses as to why I haven't updated anything here in almost two months, but the truth is that life just gets crazy sometimes and the hobbies take a back seat. I know you all understand that! BUT, I'm no quitter, and I promised a monthly update from each month of Brooks's first year home, so let's play a little catch-up, shall we?

5 Months Home on 4/14 - EASTER! 

Let's call this the 5/6 Months Home Update...because truthfully, I'm not sure anymore what he did at five months home and what happened at six. #thirdkidproblems

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT: So, this little ninja has grown quite a bit since coming home! At his 18-month check-up, he weighed in at just over 20 pounds (1st percentile) and was 30.25 inches tall (2nd percentile). His head was still the same and they marked that as the 5th percentile. He's small and mighty, but no one seems concerned because he is continuing to grow on his own tiny curve. A month after these measurements were taken, he went in for a little surgical procedure and weighed in at 21 pounds, so we'll take it! He continues to be a non-stop, all boy, Energizer bunny. His favorite word is GO, and that totally personifies him. He loves to climb, jump, slide, and hang on the monkey bars. We're fairly certain he will one day excel at gymnastics. 

ATTACHMENT: He continues to do so well in this department. No tears at drop-off at church for several weeks in a row now. He has gotten a little more particular about who he lets hold him and always looks to me for approval before allowing one of my friends or a family member to interact with him which is totally appropriate and a GOOD thing. I really couldn't be any more grateful for how well his attachment has gone. He continues to prefer me for comfort and Daddy for play time...just like my other two did at this age! 

LANGUAGE: So, this has been a HUGE season of development here. He attempts to say 50-100 words now (all in English...his Mandarin is long gone) and has begun to try putting words together. He'll sing song lyrics ("Row row row ba boat") and understands generally everything we say. He follows commands, "talks" with his siblings, and has a very clear NO. (His favorite word...oy.) It's really been shocking to me just how far he's come in just six months of hearing English. He's a little sponge and it's such a gift to see him learn! 

SLEEP: We had a few rough nights over the last few months, primarily due to travel and some fear/anxiety over seeing us start packing to move later this summer, but I generally can't complain. He fought a few naps here and there, but he really has done so well here. 

FOOD: No huge changes here, but he did discover a few new favorites the last few months. Lately, he's become a BIG fan of ice cream, clementines, Cheerios with milk, donuts, and he FINALLY accepted chicken nuggets. (Is it sad that I'm secretly thrilled about this? If you're going to survive in this family, you've gotta eat nuggets. Sorry not sorry.) He continues to love all noodles, soups, eggs, blueberries, fruit snacks, yogurt, grapes, rice, quesadillas, and queso. The only things I really can't get him to eat are ground meats and watermelon. :) 

HEALTH: Alllllllll the praise hands here - we seem to FINALLY have his asthma under control! We have not needed Albuterol in over two months, and we go back to the doctor this month to discuss weaning him off the steroids. I think the increasing heat has killed off some of his allergy triggers, and the steroids helped him through that rough patch. Also, knock on wood, we haven't dealt with any sickness since late March. Praise the LORD! 

RANDOM FACTS: Brooks celebrated his first Easter since last update! 

He also enjoyed celebrating Carter's birthday...

and loved our first family trip as a family of five! 

He is LOVING all the pool days...

and went to the splash pad for the first time! 

I know all parents think their children are the greatest, but you guys, everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, who meets this precious little guy remarks on how special he is. I was sitting at a girls' night dinner last night, and one sweet friend said to me, "I just feel like he's going to be something really special." At the risk of sounding all gushy, I couldn't agree more! Brooks is truly a GIFT to us, and when I think of all the times during the adoption process that we felt like throwing in the towel, I just about lose it. We could've missed this...and I'm SO GLAD we didn't let fear stop us from saying YES to this precious one. What an awesome God we serve. 
Monday, April 10, 2017

Bluebonnets 2017

We introduced Brooks to a Texas tradition earlier this month...bluebonnets! Thanks for the amazing photos, Kristin Michael Photography! 

(You'd never know this kid had a raging double ear infection as these were taken...)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Post Adoption: 4 Months

[Y' lie...I wrote this two weeks ago and forgot to publish it! Better late than never, right?]

Four months! What in the actual world, y'all? How have we had this precious boy for four months already?! If you haven't yet seen our video of our trip to China, you can see that HERE.

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT: Brooks has two speeds - ON and asleep. He's 90 to nothin' and it's just the best. Okay, maybe not the best when he's running and screaming through Kroger, but MOST of the time, his energy is just contagious and I can't get enough. Brooks is a running, climbing, jumping machine...and just totally all boy.

He loves to push things around, throw things, and dump out anything he can. Total toddler terrorist. His fine motor skills are also improving. He eats 90% of his food with a fork, loves to put anything he possibly can together, and has even started problem solving at times when he can't figure something out. He is a determined little boy, and I can't wait to see how that energy gets channeled as he grows up! No updated measurements, but we go to the doctor for his 18-month check next week, and I'm anticipating quite a jump in both height and weight. We'll see!

ATTACHMENT: We are so thankful that we really have no issues in this department. Brooks continues to prefer Mama, but he gets SO excited when "Dada" comes home from work and will go running to him screaming "DADA!" at the top of his lungs. Blake has been doing his nightly bedtime this month, and this has really strengthened their bond. We were told that at church yesterday morning, Brooks played very happily with the other kids during service which we were thrilled about! Up until now, he basically tolerated church and primarily wanted to be held, so that was great to hear! We love seeing his confidence and security growing in his family. He loves his siblings, too!

LANGUAGE: This area has been the biggest growth this month by far. Last month, he had a handful of words, and over the last four weeks, he has absolutely taken off with talking. I have a list going on my phone, and at last count, Brooks at least attempted to use about 20 words! His most common words are Mama, Dada, Carter, bye-bye (his best word), hi, more, all done ("ah da"), night-night, "woof woof" (what he calls dogs), diaper, bubble, uh oh, snack ("nack nack"), Kate Kate (sounds like "day day"), poo poo, boo boo, and he attempts to sing "Row Row Row Your Boat." It's the cutest thing! Now that he's grasping the language more, he's really into books and loves to have mama, daddy, or Carter read to him.

SLEEP: We had a few bad naps this month, but otherwise, sleep continues to be his best skill. Typically, he naps from 11:30/12 until about 2 and sleeps from 7 at night until 7:30/8 the next morning. He falls asleep in the car every once in a while, but it's not a huge deal - he transfers well, so it's all good! No night wakings in a LONG time - hallelujah!

FOOD: Still no issues here, but a few new favorites were discovered this month! Chicken noodle soup became a big fave, as did greek yogurt, corn dogs, fruit snacks (womp womp), french fries, ketchup, and tacos. He's a solid American, y'all. 

HEALTH: We have been battling some hardcore allergies over here, and his nebulizer treatments have been increased to help support his struggling little lungs. We know do TWO steroid treatments daily, and use Albuterol as needed. In addition, he's now on a daily allergy medication, and we are just praying that the summer heat kicks in quickly so all this pollen and cedarwood gets burned up. If we spend much time outside or if it's especially windy, this poor buddy's breathing just goes nutty. It's been kind of a pain and scary at times, but what a gift and privilege it is to have him HOME with easy access to wonderful doctors and a mama's lap to sit in while he does his treatments. I sometimes wonder how all of this would've been handled had it been going on in China.

Brooks got his first haircut on February 26th! It was mostly just a trim because his sideburns were going crazy, but I feel like it just made him look so OLD! (No pictures from in the salon because he would only let her cut it in my wasn't pretty...)

Brooks has a mild obsession with slides. Now that he can climb up and down small ladders, he literally goes up and down, up and down, up and down, the whole time we are at a playground. He claps when he gets to the bottom, too. It's the sweetest.

Shocking no one, this big cousin of ours is quickly becoming a favorite of his...just like the other two! He loves him some Kensi, and we LOVE having her around to help!

Brooks has been doing My Gym classes for a couple of months now, and he absolutely adores it. I love seeing him start to interact with his "friends," and I think it's played a huge part in his development. Clearly, he loved Bubble day! 

Oh, these two. So much love. So much jealousy. So many ups and downs. They can be doing this one minute, and the next, they're hitting each other because they both want on my lap. It's exhausting but adorable all at the same time. I jokingly call them frenemies...but I think it's pretty accurate.

That about sums up month four with our little one! We can't imagine life without him and are so thankful that God completed our family with just the most amazing son. We are so lucky he's ours!
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