Saturday, January 10, 2009

the daily grind

I'm almost a little overwhelmed to sit down and write what's been going on here . . . there's been so much, and I have so many thoughts swimming around my head - that this is probably going to turn out very disjointed. . . I should probably post every day, but I simply don't have the time. However, I think it's important for me to record all that's going on now, mostly for us to look back on later but also for family and friends overseas and other people who are adopting children of a similar age.

Let's see . . . Thursday morning started off on the wrong foot. I was not feeling particularly well (it had been 2 unrestful nights) and Sofia woke up shortly after I got the boys up for school. During the last week of school before Christmas break, she slept through their morning routine each day so I was able to get them out the door in time to catch the bus, looking fairly presentable. Well, now that she's awake, a monkey-wrench has been thrown into the routine machine. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but she has pretty much NO patience (in some ways, the 2 of us are very similar!). When she calls, she expects to be responded to immediately. That has made it difficult for me to help the boys and make their morning go smoothly. Anyways, the morning went from bad to worse and eventually Stefan had to come home from the farm to give me a break. He took her out and I was able to do some chores around the house. One of the big jobs was cleaning Mattias' room. In the afternoon, I took Mattias and Joel to the city - Mattias had violin lesson and Joel had floorball practice. Stefan's mom looked after Sofia - it was the first time she had spent time away from both of us. It went ok for a couple hours, but then she got restless and Stefan had to pick her up. (One of the things she does when she is restless/frustrated/angry is play with light switches - she runs all over the house, flashing them on and off. It drives me crazy. We've heard from Family N that their boys do it too.) Thursday night, Stefan continued with his and her bedtime routine - reading in our bed for awhile, then lights out and he sneaks out when she falls asleep. About an hour after that, we move her to her own bed. Thursday night she slept well and so did we.

Friday turned out to be a really good day. After breakfast, I painted her fingernails and she was not at all bothered when Stefan left for work. Then she wanted us to clean her room - she had been disappointed the day before that I had cleaned Mattias' and not hers (the reason being I was afraid she would not be able to handle me touching her stuff when she was not there). Then we did laundry - she helped me carry all the hampers to the laundry room and sort the dirty clothes (she made a comment for every pair of her brothers' underwear). She was so happy when we found her missing tights in the hamper from my room. She did the "thumbs up" and said "Yes, Mom!" Joel has a short day on Fridays, so he was home by noon. It was the first day that they played nice together for any significant amount of time. It was great - not only for their bonding, but I got some vacuuming and mopping done. The only "meltdown" of the day was when I had to go get Mattias from a friend's house. We had been outside sledding and when I said it was time to go, she said no and proceeded to run away and hide behind bushes. I finally caught her and as I carried her to the car, her toque (woolen cap) fell off and she started screaming. She wouldn't get in the car, so I had to put her in her seat and do her seatbelt, by which time Joel had brought her hat. I tried to put it on her, but she just threw it on the seat, and really started screaming, I mean SCREAMING. She finally stopped after we had driven about 100m, and was fine by the time we picked up Mattias. At home, she was so proud to show everyone her tidy room. Our evening was really nice - we roasted sausages in the fireplace in our rec room (which is the coziest room in the house) for dinner. We talked on the phone to my dad -Sofia talked to him 3 times. As the evening wore on, Stefan started feeling really bad - he had been working with insulation in the afternoon and was having an allergic reaction (runny nose, congestion and killer headache). He explained to Sofia that he couldn't read as usual and she seemed to be ok with that. When I tried to help her with her pyjamas, she tried to play silly games again, but when I left the room, she put them on herself. She brushed her teeth with Joel and then started to pout about the change in routine. So, Stefan took her to our room and without reading, they just lay down to sleep. And, she fell asleep right away!

Once again, we all had a good sleep. We woke up this morning to the sound of Mattias and Sofia in the kitchen - Mattias was making Coconut Balls and she was watching. Then he served her cereal for breakfast. The day has gone quite well. Sofia did not make a fuss about staying home when Stefan went to the farm. She has played with her brothers, watched Dora the Explorer for the first time, and has eaten well today. We took the kids outside sledding from 3-4 and she only had a couple "meltdowns" on the slope, and that's all there's been so far today. Right now she's having her first sauna, with her dad and brothers - we're hoping the sauna and shower will help her get ready for sleep:)

Something that's come up, and worth mentioning, is her feelings about Russia. For background, when we first came home, she would look at the pictures and say the names of the people in the pictures or talk about the photos (don't know what she was saying then, cuz it was all Russian). Then, around Christmas, I noticed that when she was watching a random slideshow on the computer, if it was a photo from the orphanage she would cover it with her hands and not look at it. More recently, Stefan and I were looking at the Gotcha Trip photos and when we asked her the names of the girls (in her group) and she said she didn't know. We also noticed that shortly thereafter, she had one of her "meltdowns" for no apparent reasons. Hindsight . . . Now, the last 2 days she has repeated several times, "Sofia nyet Ryssland. Sofia Finlandia." She usually says it when one of us is holding her. It started with a pocket-sized map of the world, and Stefan marked in Vancouver (to show where Grandpa and Uncle Steve live), our area in Finland and St. Petersburg. When she says it, we say, "That's right. Now you're here with your family in Finland. You're with Mama, Papa, Sam, Mattias and Joel. We love you very much." Sometimes she also says, "mama nyet Ryssland" or "papa nyet Ryssland". So, it's pretty clear to us that she doesn't want to go back to Russia.

I think I was counting my chickens before they hatched. I had made a couple comments to Stefan today about how well things finally seemed to be going . . . Sofia and the boys appear to be getting along better. She's been jumping/climbing up into my arms (mostly when Stefan's away) and holding on tight. Last night I got a hug and a kiss on the lips and I'm pretty sure she said "I love you" when I said it to her . . .While I was writing this post, they finished the sauna and I took a break to help Sofia. The evening fell apart. It started with the fact that the sauna was over. Then it was the hair. Then it was the teeth. By the time Stefan took her to bed, she was really mad and upset. He tried reading with her as usual, but she wasn't into it. She fell asleep fairly quickly. Tomorrow's a new day. I hope she wakes up happy and we get to have another good day (despite tonight's bad ending).


Amy said...

Barb - you are my hero. Seriously. What you are going through is NOT easy and I thank you for expressing it so well here. I know she doesn't always express it - but I thinks he truly loves you and is scared to death about loosing you. I know it manifests itself in odd ways, but hopefully in time these breakdowns will all be a memory.

Jackie said...

Barb- I agree with Amy. I too have a feeling that part of her breakdowns is a fear of losing you and her nw family. I am also sure part of it is the language barrier. I am so glad to read that you have had some good days as well. It's so good to post that stuff so you can look back and see where you have come. Plus, you are right... your posts and honesty (realness?) could really encourage another couple going through a similar tim down the road. I know I have looked back at blogs that I've read for encouragement as well.

I'm glad you posted! Here is to a good day tomorrow too!

Mellymel said...

You posted on my website... I DO think you were there with us during the 8-physican physical in St. Pete's! How wild is that? I have enjoyed reading your blog, especially your honest accounts about the day-to-day goings on with your new daughter and her siblings. It's tough, isn't it? It sounds like you are handling things well. You have a beautiful family.

Cheri said...

It's only been a month and I think you all have come along way! Kudos to you! You know you do have the strength to keep on... you are doing a remarkable job!! The good always outweighs the bad... it just may not seem like that now, today or even tomorrow... and, remember Sofia is only 6... lots of changes to her little world... lots of changes for everyone...
Give everyone BIG HUGS from us and tell Stefan to give you a REALLY BIG HUG from me!! Love, Cheri

Anonymous said...

Hej Barb!(Du vet hur det där ska sägas, du ska säga Hej Susanne)

Jag vill bara säga att jag också tycker att ni gör ett jättebra jobb. Vi har märkt på jobbet då vi fått ett nytt barn, att det dröjer en tid innan de besvärliga sidorna kommer fram. Det är när barneen känner sig trygga som de vågar börja protestera och vara besvärliga. Så jag tror att Sofia känner sig trygg hos er. Det är alltid en början.
Kram, Susse

tammy said...

the good days are what get you through the bad ones. we had a rough week this past week with lots of whining. it wears your patience thin. but, when they smile at you or hug you i seem to forget the whining. so...i'm glad you had some good days in there to get you through the harder ones! always remember that girls are moody. or maybe i should say, my three girls are moody. :)

Purplestamper said...

Hey Barb...It sure can be a daily grind. The good ones will start to our weigh the tough. It isn't an easy age when all the ducks are in a row, and you both have lots to learn about each other as well. Smile, breath and keep writing. It helps to make it all make sense later on. :-) much love from Canada...

Anonymous said...

Hi Barb, Stefan and Family:
Sorry I haven't written sooner. Sounds like you are doing just fine. Every family has their ups and downs, but we all come thru it, and SO WILL YOU ALL!!
Have loved reading the blogs and keeping up with everything, and just love seeing the pics, and no Stefan, that's not too much make-up for a little girl, (wait until she's heading out the house with it all on, heee, heee.....). Glad to hear everyone is doing great.
Hope to see you some day and meet the new daughter,
Nancy and Colin

Over-Caffeinated x 4 said...

Hey girl, I could just feel the sweat breaking out on my body when I read about her kicking and screaming and you having to buckle her in the car, hat flying, etc. Boy, those times are so tough! Honestly, I still have those moments with my 7 year old who has been home six years next month. I say that to say, hang in there, don't get discouraged, keep working hard on the bonding because I shut down on some levels with him and he still deals with attachment issues. I wish SO badly I could go back to that time when he was first home and SO difficult to deal with and do it right so that he would be healed now!

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.