Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Whew! It is done!

Christmas. Every year I seem to have a little more trouble getting into the spirit than I did the year before. Christmas is so much WORK. You have the tree, and the lights, and the decorations and the cooking and and and and.....

But what this Christmas had, which we've never experienced before, is the opportunity to see Axel "Get it". They whole process. His first Christmas here Axel had been home 10 days. As you can see in this picture, he was as lost as he looked.

Poor baby! In a matter of days he'd been ripped out of his world, dragged to the other side of it, lived among people speaking a language he didn't understand, then driven four hours to meet another group of people who also didn't know how to talk!  Adoption = trauma, there is no doubt about it.

Axel's second Christmas he'd been home one year, but we also added Asher, who had been home just 17 days. Asher spent a lot of time rolling around on the floor dangling stuff. That's pretty much all he did in the orphanage too.

But Axel? He seemed to kind of remember what was going on. He at least knew about the opening presents part, even if he didn't understand anything else. 

So this makes Axel's third Christmas in our home. This year he remembered the process! We talked about the birth of Jesus, God's gift to us. We talked about Santa, and gifts, we left cookies and milk out for Santa, etc. (and Angela got up at 12:30 a.m. , 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. to see if Santa had come yet.)

Although Axel is very meticulous, he really enjoyed opening gifts as well as watching everyone else open theirs. When Axel came to us, he arrived complete with a pair of slippers that NEVER left his feet when he was in the house. In Serbia you never go barefoot or in stocking feet in the house and he cherished his slippers, often chastising us for walking around indecent. LOL Within a couple of weeks of arriving he outgrew those slippers. He's had a couple pair since then but he outgrows them so quickly I've quit buying them. Imagine how thrilled he was to find a new pair of slippers with his Christmas stocking! And hats, which he likes almost as much! Asher, on the other hand, does NOT like the Elmo heads bobbing around on his slippers, nor is he thrilled with the hat!

I was going to have the big kids open a gift before having Asher open one. You know, so he would see  how this whole thing works. Yeah, Axel opened his and Asher was ready to go! It would be nice to think it was to see what was inside, but that would be denying the fact he really just realized there would be pieces of paper for dangling. LOL

 I was a bit shocked this morning to see pictures people had posted of INSANE amounts of gifts for each child. It also seemed to be a bit of a competition, people posting pictures of their kids in front of a huge pile of stuff, talking about "what a haul" their kid made. Is this what Christmas is really about for some? In past years we have been guilty of the excess part. This year we adopted the four gift rule. WOW!!! Am I so glad we did this! Not only did it make my job  so much easier, but the kids are enjoying EVERYTHING they got! There are no forgotten items. There is no over abundance. I don't need to clean out too much in order to fit the new things in. I think once this adoption is done, we're going to put a little money aside for the kids so Christmas they can each choose one family who is in the process of adoption and contribute to their fundraising as part of their giving to others.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that Angela is a fan of stripes. Not just ANY stripes! No, there is a stripe criteria and what makes a "good stripe" is known only to her. Often one of the boys will come out of their room dressed for the day and Angela will announce, "Oh! Nice stripes!!!" We take note of the comment for later purchases. Just an FYI, the boys department in clothing stores as MUCH better stripes than the girls.

So, this is Asher's second Christmas. How did HE do? Well...Asher was a bit overwhelmed. He did ok with the opening of gifts, and he even played with them a few minutes, but really, Asher is not happy having his routine disrupted. He signed "school" several times today. When we went to visit with relatives he was pretty out of sorts. He couldn't play with anything other than to dangle it, or ask person after person to pick him up. It's exhausting having to constantly tell him "No", and I know we sound like ogres. He is just so indiscriminate that as much as we'd like to say "Yes, he's been here a year now, pick him up." we won't let them. For one thing, he IS 8 years old. He needs to learn to keep his own feet on the floor. Sometimes it's hard to remember this when he is developmentally very much 2 years old and not much bigger than our nephew who is 2 1/2. When he isn't asking to be picked up he's asking to eat. When he's not asking to be picked up or to eat, he's asking to drink. It is constant. He needs, needs, needs. It is his way of saying he doesn't feel secure in his environment. At home he doesn't do this anymore. But, if we have a house full of people over? That disruption in his routine and environment causes all the behavior to come back. When we bring the new guy home we expect there will be a bit of regression as we reassure him he hasn't lost is place as "baby" of the family, and that just because there is a new kid here, the rules still apply!

All in all, it really was a wonderful Christmas. I even made one batch of cookies with the kids. (I know, right? ME! I did that!) and we're planning on making more later this week while the kids are out of school. (don't fall over, and don't hold me to it if I change my mind!) It really is fun to see the changes in the kids from year to year. Angela is growing up so much, and is an amazing big sister to the boys. She's been talking about her new brother for a couple of days now, really excited for him to get here. (She's actually more excited to be hanging out with our caregiver friends and NOT have Mom and Dad around! LOL)

Merry Christmas to all my readers. I hope yours was as blessed as ours.


Hevel Cohen said...

Oh my, Axel has grown so much! And stripes rock!

The Sumulong 3 said...

Very cute picture of all three of them in their hats and slippers! I like Axel's idea of always wearing slippers around the house--I do it too.

I'll assume you were thinking of my post/pics from Christmas. I didn't write or post those to compete with anyone. I bought Owen 4 things-2 stuffed animals and 2 books; the rest came from relatives/friends. If I could get them to donate $/items in his honor or send a gift card or a book, that would be fantastic and I have suggested it many times, but I can't make them do it.

Leah S. said...

Stephanie, I didn't even see your pics! Now that I've looked at them...umm....NO they are NOTHING compared to the things I have seen from people on FB!

The Sumulong 3 said...

Sorry, didn't mean to get defensive and shouldn't have jumped to conclusions! I do think my kiddo got too many presents though.......need to send a note with the Rule of Four written on it (and some very specific suggestions as to what constitutes "need" and "want"!) next year!!

Melissa said...

We had fun this year with the whole 'Something they want, something they need, something to read, something to share',rule. It was a lot easier on me that's for sure. Definitely better for them too.

Leslie said...

I have read quite a bit of your blog today. A friend of mine pointed to it on Facebook. She was actually talking about the fact that Russian adoptions had been shut down for the US. I started reading and I was hooked. I don't have kids yet. Your family seems amazing :-). Quick question. In a February post, you stated you didn't write about Angela much because A) She is gone quite a bit (school and whatnot) and B) Kids are cruel and you did not want to give them ammunition. Has Angela had to deal with bullying?

Leah S. said...

Leslie, thanks for visiting and hanging out on my blog! That I'm aware of, Angela has had to deal with bullying a couple times over the years. I'm sure there are probably things said that I never hear about.

Leslie said...

Thank you for the response! I'm putting you on my google reader, so i can keep up to date. I love your posts!