Monday, August 31, 2009

Meet the Teacher

Ethan (and I) had his "Meet the teacher" meeting at his new school today. He has expressed his nervousness about starting school throughout the summer. There have been many changes in his life over the last few months, but I think starting school might be the biggest anxiety-producer of them all. I don't know if it's a separation anxiety thing (I've read about how such times of major transitions in autonomy can really produce fear in some adopted children who actually worry that they will loose their family again). I don't know if it's a new, unfamiliar situation thing. I don't know if it's a fear of failure thing. I do know my little man is not too sure about the whole thing.

I was glad to have the opportunity to speak with his teacher today. She asked some good questions to understand Ethan better, and I feel comfortable that she will be a good match for our sensitive and inquisitive and not-so-outgoing-yet kindergartener.

On the way into the building, though, it was this mommy who had the biggest scare. As Ethan came to the door of the van, I grabbed his hand and helped him hop down. As we walked across the yard, he looked up and asked, "Mom, why are you holding my hand?," pulling his hand free to adjust his backpack.

Not already!

"Well, I thought you might like to hold my hand. But it's up to you. You can hold my hand or you can not hold my hand."

I don't know how I said those words because I think my heart had stopped.

As little fingers reached back over and encircled mine, however, it swelled with love and joy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Easy Recipe for Backyard Fun


backyard space
1 slide
1 expandable tunnel
3 large plastic totes
approximately 6 ft. of thick plank
1 garbage can lid
1 extension ladder
1 garbage can
1 ball
approximately 10 ice cream bucket lids

Arrange items randomly around backyard and provide simple navigating instructions to preschoolers. Ingredient substitution encouraged. Careful timing of course navigation by individual participants may be required. Preschooler engagement with this activity may exceed one hour! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bathrooms Redone and Parks Explored

Tap. Tap. Tap.

It's not just the click-clack of the keys I hear as I type this post. The plaster walls of the downstairs bathroom are currently being chipped away in order to update them with mildew resistent drywall, new flooring, and updated fixtures. This is stage 2 of the bathroom renovation plan. Stage 1 involved the redoing of the upstairs bathroom.

It's not all work and no play, though! Our family keeps finding new parks as we explore previously unknown areas of our neighborhood. Here's a few pics of the kids on one recent adventure!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Long Distance Love

Through another family adopting two children (one of whom has been a buddy to Abu) in Ethiopia, we were able to "make contact" with Abu last week. We had emailed this family some recent pictures and messages for them to pass on to our son. Also, they provided him the opportunity to respond to us. This is the report we received back:
He chose an orange crayon and drew some nice shapes and then I asked him to write his name and he wrote it with ease. He was very calm and serious during our time together. My son was very excited to give him the pictures of your family which he looked at over and over again.

We received the pictures above and several more. When I showed opened them for Jadon today, he got very excited and kissed the computer screen repeatedly. How we long to actually hug and kiss and snuggle and just BE together with our special young man! What a reunion we will have someday -- hopefully in a little over a month!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Aftermath

We celebrated our arrival home from Nanny and Gramps' Backyard Camping Resort with the opening of a package of punching balloons and the cranking of a new kids' worship CD. Dancing, flying balloons, and much silliness ensued.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Great Vacation Idea

Mid-August is always a special time in this family. Ethan's birthday and our anniversary fall right in the middle of the month. Marking these special days is always a priority. This year, we were considering a camping trip, but the plans weren't really coming together very well. Campsites seemed to be booked (or more expensive than we wanted to pay) for the times we wanted. Mike's work schedule is still a bit erratic. Plus, we were not sure how Jadon would handle the whole camping thing.

The brainstorm came Thursday. Why not do a backyard camping adventure at Nanny and Gramps' house (while they are on vacation themselves)??? The (greatly-simplified) details came together quickly.

The tent has been a big hit! (I think it reminds Jadon of Ethiopia???) The kids have one tent, and the parents have another. Other than one interruption from a very loud emergency vehicle, the children's sleeping has been wonderfully complete (and, in my opinion, especially cute!)

Of course, Nanny and Gramps' Campground Resort also comes with its own private swimming pool and plenty of pool accessories. Everyone loves the water, especially on these HOT summer days!
Another special treat is that Auntie Jenn was able to join us for a couple days. This was extraordinarily exciting for Ethan, because she had promised to take him riding for his birthday.
I love the picture below because it seems to capture Ethan's quiet love for the outdoors, farms, and, of course, horses.

Everyone got a turn.........

Ahhhh, yes. Memories are made on days like these.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Big brother Ethan himself taught Abby to "pump" herself on the swings this morning.
They let me in on their success this afternoon.
(By the way, she's not even four yet...but HE will be SIX tomorrow!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Separation and Sleep: Our Strategies

It has become clear in the few weeks that we have been home that Jadon has some anxieties relating to separation. Though, most of the time, you would just observe a joyful, somewhat mischievous boy, naptimes and evening bedtimes can reveal another perspective. Without Mike or I in the room with him, Jadon begins to wail, frantic and unable to calm himself. While we are tempted to let him "cry it out," we wonder if that would really help him to settle the anxieties that seem to be connected to his sleeptime efforts.

We have come up with the following strategies to help reduce Jadon's anxieties relating to the separation at bedtime:

-We try to stick to a predictable bedtime routine: pajamas, brush teeth, read Bible story, sing, pray, potty, kisses, tuck in.

-I speak reassuringly to Jadon about the process: I am near. I know he can fall asleep on his own; I am also firm about our groundrules. He must lie down, and he must be quiet.

-Mike or I sit at the desk across the room until we are sure Jadon is asleep. I usually bring a book or the laptop up in order to focus my attention away from the anxious sleep-fighter.

-We plan to keep this routine the same for at least one week before moving our chair slightly farther away.

Other strategies that we are using include connection with his blankie. I try to carry his small fleece blankie around most of the day (yeah, in July!) in order to make it a transitional object. Daytime snuggles with me also include blankie. The idea is that when the time comes for him to be alone in his room, he will have this "symbol" of Mom's presence to comfort him.

Additionally, we play sleeping games in which we pretend to sleep and wake up. Sometimes I leave and come back to wake him up. Sometimes I'm the one quietly falling asleep so he can wake me up. Basically, the idea is to make sleeping less scary.

If he wakes up during the night, Mike or I go upstairs and lie on the floor beside his bed. He seems to have nightmares fairly often. He also wakes earlier than we would prefer, and we are trying to help him to extend his quiet, rest time until an hour that makes for less grumpy family members!!!

This is our current strategy. I'll let you know how it works out!

Also, we've had a lot of fun moments in the last couple days. Here's a peek:
We played Ethan's new game, Buckaroo, after supper one night. Every time the donkey kicked, Jadon would be freeze for about two seconds and then giggle like crazy. This caused Ethan to purposefully cause bucking as often as possible!
We started a simple curriculum to introduce French to the kids. Today we learned "Bonjour!" and "Au revoir." Ethan will start in French immersion kindergarten in just a couple weeks. When in Quebec...

To break the heat, we filled three totes with water and let the kids splash away.

After the splashing, the kids helped clean out the mixing bowl. Peanut butter cake to come!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some funny ironies

After years of coaching Ethan and Abby to "use your words" and to "work it out" themselves, we have apparently gotten through. Ethan's biggest frustration with his little brother is: "He doesn't listen to my words." Poor guy. I can hardly tell him that now he needs to use motions or something!

Ethan is my veggie guy. Other than lima beans, he will gobble down anything plantlike that I put in front of him. (Honestly, I've given up on lima beans as, apparently, I'm the ONLY one in the family who will eat them.) How many five year old boys do you know who would list cream of asparagus soup as a favorite? Abby, on the other hand, is a carb girl. Give her rice, bread, crackers, cereal, or pasta, and she is generally a very satisfied girl. In Jadon, it seems we have found our carnivore. He will pick the meat out of any dish and finish it off first as if it might disappear if he doesn't get it in there quickly. Thankfully, he doesn't seem to be too picky of an eater. He has turned down a few things, but not much. On the other hand, he does seem to be able to know when he needs to stop eating (a skill that can be underdeveloped in orphans, especially those who have faced hunger in the past). Now, perhaps Abu will be a dairy boy? If we can't cover the food groups individually, at least we could get them all as a family!

I haven't played piano in several weeks (and have the fingernails to prove it!), but the younger Tappers tried out their skills for a while this afternoon!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Good times

The adjustment to life in our new home and with our newest addition continues. Although there are many challenges (who knew how hard it could be to transfer various information/identity documentation from one organization to another??!!), in general, things have gone extremely well. We are really enjoying each other!

Here's our spunky, fun girl playing "superheroes" first thing this morning:

Meanwhile, the boys were busy with the tractor:

Before lunch, we walked/biked downtown. Before getting our library cards and signing out some great kids books, we enjoyed some family time in the park:

We did get an update from our agency regarding Abu. The results of the first step of his medical testing were just released (after much pestering of the lab technicians by our agency's staff). While these results cannot be taken to guarantee the final results, they can be an initial indicator. Thankfully, these results were negative! Hopefully, in a few more weeks, the final results will come back negative as well.
We were also told that Abu is still doing very well at the transition home. Abu's nannies have commented that he seems more active and playful since our week with him and that he asks often about when we will be able to bring him home. We have a couple families who will be visiting the transition home in weeks to come who have already agreed to visit with him and to share our intentions of reuniting as soon as possible. Perhaps in another few weeks we'll be able to show a family picture with all six of us!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More favorite things

Jumping on the couch: (When Jadon says it, it sounds like "Dump, dump, dump!)

Yogurt pops on a hot day:

Swinging together: