Sunny is settling in very well, though she has a lot of learning ahead of her. She doesn't really understand how normal family life is supposed to be, and she's not used to the firm consistency that makes our household work.
We have had a few incidents lately that have been great learning opportunities for her, and we are definitely starting to see some tiny little emotional roots beginning to grow. She's learning that her tantrums don't frighten us (or even overly concern us, as we've had a couple kids with MUCH worse tantrums...), and that when Oma or Appa says "no" that it means "absolutely not." She is definitely learning that we offer plenty of opportunities to make choices...but sitting down and telling Oma or Appa "no" to both choices means that WE make the choice for her : ). She is definitely getting used to Itty Bitty, and is beginning that he has different needs than she does. She still gets jealous that he sometimes eats dinner before the rest of us (because of his earlier bedtime), and that he gets held/carried more often....but I did hear her refer to him as "HER baby" tonight. We are trying to ease her into age-appropriate independence with certain tasks...like asking for what she wants (instead of hinting or just plain staring), dressing herself, and putting away toys in the morning and before bed. She has discovered our toy kitchen and LOVES to use it. Since I knew she was interested, I let Eli walk her through how to make a peach cobbler last weekend, with delicious results. Eli now has my recipe down pat, and other than turning on the oven and melting the butter, he can make it from start to finish independently : ).
Eli is thriving with Sunny's arrival. She sometimes drives him crazy, but they usually get along pretty well. I think it's hilarious that Eli has now thrown himself into piano with a passion that is something to behold...it's also interesting that he has become somewhat quieter in the wake of Sunny's incessant chatter. I LOVE to see them playing together...they are very imaginative and can play well for hours on end with only minor arguments. He's also excited that she's mature enough to "do school". He truly enjoys sitting down to work on a few math problems, and loves that she is old enough/ready enough to participate at her own level (I'm teaching her one-to-one correspondence, since she can already dependably count to 9 by rote). He enjoys reading to her and Michael, so we're sneaking in a little extra practice whenever we can, and she's learning her letters (she can sing the ABCs, but does not recognize them in print yet). I let him take charge with his snap kit and show her how to wire a speaker and a light last weekend, and he thoroughly enjoyed his role. This sounds so simple, but was really impossible while simultaneously trying to conquer Wonder Boy's tantrums or Scooter's inability to participate (or even play on his own in the same room). He also seemed to feel pretty good about himself when standing up for her on the playground last week, when a bigger kid wouldn't let Sunny slide, and he was able to get the bigger kid to move for her. The hardest thing to see, though, is that Eli is holding back (somewhat) from bonding with Sunny. I feel bad that so many kids have come and gone, that he doesn't want to get too close. This is one of the concerns we had for him, when we decided to stop fostering, and it will definitely be an ongoing concern.
|Eli and Sunny, working peacefully|
|Enjoying math enough to bring it outside to play...!|
For the first time in a while, though, we are getting back to some of the things we used to enjoy as a family, simply because we are now more able to. Enjoying time hanging out and just letting the kids play peacefully...yes! Time to go shop or eat at a restaurant...yes! The ability to go out and enjoy activities in the community...YES!! Here's hoping that we have a successful strawberry picking adventure soon...my freezer is now empty of strawberries, and I think the Eli and Sunny would really love doing this together. Strawberry picking is one of Eli's favorite things about spring time...and they have been playing "garden" in the yard since Sunny arrived.
This is not to say that we'll be able to jump into everything with both feet...but there's definitely room to start to do things again, where many things we enjoy might have been impossible before. Sunny's tantrums at children's choir practice tonight prove that pretty well...although she had two, she recovered from both well and quickly. This is pretty typical of all of her tantrums...frequent but short. Of course, we also have concerns about attachment that we will be addressing with her, as she occasionally seeks out unknown adults to get affection/attention, but this is not unusual in a child who has lived through what she has. She is also somewhat manipulative, and though she has definitely not yet mastered triangulation, she is very much seeking control over every single thing she possibly can...behavior that, again, is very common in kids who have experienced trauma, and should ease/decrease in the next few months.
In the meantime, Itty Bitty's case has begun moving rapidly again. We've been waiting on one particular item to be addressed in his case...and it's the one thing upon which his future placement depends. We will be attending some upcoming court dates and are fervently hoping/praying that his case is settled in our direction. We love him so much, and so badly want to be his forever family. Patrick and I both firmly believe that it is in his best interests to stay with us. Unfortunately, though, this is out of our control, and only God knows what will happen. Thankfully, the intense waiting and worrying will be over soon, and we should know the judge's final decision by the end of June, when Itty Bitty will be 13 months old.