- Giselle in Haiti – July 2012
Giselle in Canada, Thanksgiving October 7th, 2012
A fellow adoptive mom recently posted that she isn’t writing on her blog because ever since her daughter came home, it feels like everything is changing so fast that she can’t keep up. That is so true here too! So many times in a day I think “I need to write about this, or that” and then once the peace of evening falls on our house, I forget it all. This post is super long. A huge no-no in blog world, right? I get my blog printed into books as a permanent record for our family, so I will write everything I can think of now as a record for us. Please don’t feel obligated to read it all.
All in all, I can say that Giselle has made HUGE strides in the past 2 weeks. Her confidence is blooming. Her funny, silly self is peeking through. Her love for her Daddy? EXPLODING! It’s a wonder to watch. I am going to write in bullet points (another blogging no-no) because I just need to record some of the things she is doing/saying – before they disappear in the wind.
~ She calls Amara “Amara’s” – probably because we so often tell her “That’s Amara’s toy/Amara’s turn”.
~ She has such a sing-song way of talking. There is a definite rhythm to her words. I wish I could record that here. I love hearing her talk.
~ Let me put her sleep into perspective. When she first came home, I stayed in the room with her from the time I started to put her to bed (7:30) until she woke up in the morning. I would sit on the bed and work on the computer, but didn’t want to leave her side in case she woke up. She slept SO restless – constantly moving and shifting… upside down and back up. Crying a LOT in her sleep, often waking up. Almost every night, awake from 12:30am – 4:30am. And back up at 7:00. NOW… We put her to bed in her bed, say goodnight and leave the room. Lately she hasn’t even fussed about us leaving. She is sometimes (not often enough though) sleeping through the night – and her head generally stays on the pillow which means she is having a much more restful, deep sleep. When she does sleep well – 12 hours per night, 2-2.5 hour naps! I can’t even begin to express how this has made our whole family a much happier, more peaceful place as everyone is more rested and the other kids get more mommy time.
~ Her sweet, melodic “I love ya!” and “See ya later!”. I love it when she says “Come here, Amara!”, and when she comes up to me out of the blue and says “How come?”. This makes me laugh – how do you respond to that when it isn’t even a question in conversation but used as a conversation starter? I have started to say “Because mommy loves you!” and she seems happy with that. I often hear her walking around saying “Happy, happy, happy”. I’m not sure if she understands the meaning of the word – but it makes this mother’s heart glad to hear it.
She loves helping me by putting the dirty cutlery into the dishwasher.
~ Food. Of course if anything is going to be a control battle, food will be because how do you force someone to eat/swallow their food? I will be open here – and many of you might disagree with my tactics, but it has worked for us. Often Giselle would eat something very willingly one day (i.e. soup), but when presented with exactly the same thing a day or two later, wouldn’t even touch it. This was after being home for about 6 weeks, so it wasn’t that everything tasted that unfamiliar. I finally did what I did with Kylar when he would do the same thing as an early toddler. I would take her cheeks in one hand, and spoon the food into her mouth with the other. She would be upset for a moment… but then would usually happily eat the rest of the meal. Now if she refuses to even taste something on her own, I offer her one spoonful and it isn’t an issue to get her to open up. She usually loves what we are eating and will clean her plate. If after one or two bites I can tell she just really doesn’t like it, I will give her rice and beans or something similar. On the other hand, if she isn’t in the mood for something, she will also chew and chew and chew – for up to 15 min on one bite! This is frustrating, but not impossible to deal with. Sometimes I set the timer and whatever she hasn’t eaten when the timer goes, she has to leave until the next meal time (we feed her every two hours so she certainly isn’t starving). Again, I make sure this is only for things I know she has eaten and liked in the past. She is (usually) eating a few bites of raw carrot, cucumber, peppers and lettuce. This is HUGE as most of her diet in Haiti would have been very soft and thoroughly cooked. She also eats hamburger, steak, chicken and sausage. It has taken her some time to get used to the texture of meat, and to be able to swallow it, but she usually does fine now.
~ I always had a feeling that Giselle would be Daddy’s girl. Both Kylar and Amara were more mommy’s kids, so it really was my hope and prayer that Giselle would have a special bond with Darren early in her life that our other kids didn’t develop with him until they were older. I really think this is coming true! She is so happy when he is around on the weekends. She follows him around, wants to be picked up and carried by him… she really loves her Daddy. She still prefers me for bedtime and when she is really upset she comes to me which helps me not to feel totally left out ;)
~While she is strong willed, she bends fairly easily. Placing her in her “time in” spot (she is on my chef’s mat in the kitchen by my feet – never left alone in another room as a punishment) is very upsetting for her. She will wail for about 20 seconds and then say “Oui Momma” with big nods of her head. She will give hugs, say sorry, give and receive kisses and be on her way. But of course she still has to test the limits multiple times per day. She is a 2 year old after all! The hard thing with discipline is the sneaky little things she does. Things that might mean nothing to us, but I have learned she means them as disrespect. Like tapping her teeth together at me. A quick little spit in our general direction. Or biting her tongue – pointed at Darren. I have found that if I let these little things go – she escalates into hitting or biting in a very short period of time. It might seem to someone just watching that I am being very strict with her, but I have learned what she means by them.
~ When she first arrived home – every answer to our questions would be “NO”. She would even nod her head and say “no”. Now, she says “Oui” or lately “Yup!” to almost everything. Both ways can be frustrating as I don’t really know what she wants. “Giselle, do you want more food?” “Oui!” so I bring her another serving and she cries because she was done. Slowly these things are working themselves out as she acquires more language – and is figuring out her own body. In Haiti she was fed and given drinks when it was time. Now I am asking her if she is hungry/ thirsty. This has been a real learning curve for her as I believe she didn’t really pay attention to her body’s signs before.
~ It’s so fun to watch her dance. She is very shy about it – quite self-concious actually. But when she forgets herself and lets go – it’s so cute! We say she has “old lady moves” because she does! But then she can also have some really good moves when she allows herself to be free. Sometimes she comes up to us, giggling like crazy and does a silly dance for us, then runs away. I love hearing her laugh!
~ Giselle and Amara – their relationship is blossoming! When Giselle first came home, she would freak out if Amara came close to her or me. If Amara kissed her, she would scream as if Amara had taken a bite out of her cheek… now Amara is happily greeted in the morning. She makes sure Amara has a good night hug and kiss before bedtime. And they go outside to play, or have long tea parties together. Of course somedays it seems a large portion of their “play” still involves squabbling, taking toys away, not sharing… but it is all so much more “normal”! So amazing to see Amara blossom into a big sister, and to see Giselle copy everything Amara says and does (which isn’t always a good thing!). They have dance parties together in Amara’s room. Amara dresses Giselle in dress up clothes… they walk around together in their dress up heeled shoes… I love it!
Casual tea time with Amara
~ Kylar is so good with Giselle and she generally just adores him. He loves to chase her around the house, swing her around, carry her piggy-back… She does walk into his room without permission and destroys his Lego creations (accidentally) in short order which drives him crazy, but other than that, they click really well.
~ And me? I confess I sometimes forget where Giselle has come from and how much she has gone through in the past few months. It just feels like she has always been here. Yes there are days I wonder how I can handle 3 children well. There are still some days when I feel like I am babysitting and days when I get tired of feeling like a “bad mom” because I worry about how many times I mess up with her. But mostly she is just here. Ours. I almost forget how terrible the long, long wait was. Almost. And then something will happen that reminds me, and it all comes crashing back in a hurry. It really is a traumatic and stressful experience to go through. For those of you still in the middle of the wait – don’t underestimate how hard the process (wait) is on you (your body, emotions, spiritually) and on your family. I felt like it took over my life and thoughts, so much of my time and attention. I’m noticing that my parenting sucks right now. Partly because I haven’t been reading and educating myself like I usually do. There are so many things to catch up on, but now my mind feels more free to be able to do that. And maybe when I actually get about a week of good nights of sleep, I’ll actually be able to process what I’m reading!
We are so thankful you are home Giselle. So glad that God chose us to be your parents. I hope we learn from you what God intends for us to learn, and that you always know how dearly loved you are.