Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Highs and the Lows

Life in general has it's ups and downs.  Parenting is no different in that respect, and some days there can be an abundance of both.  Don't get me wrong, having a large growing family is incredible, but sometimes it is simply just hard.  On the flip side, there are tons of times that it is awesome and seemingly perfect.  My struggle is to be patient and forgiving during the tough times, and to stop comparing the kids to each other and to other children. 

The girls enjoyed being back at school with their friends and their teachers.  After some blood, sweat, and tears, I turned to the advice of Shan Stallings in dealing with homeschooling Sam.  In addition to her fantastic advice and great ideas, she reminded me of two important things.  Samuel isn't just having to learn academics right now, he is having to learn how to be a part of a family, how to be in America and all of the new tastes, sounds and smells, how to speak and understand English, and countless other new things we take for granted.  Additionally, she encouraged me not to judge his achievements based on when and how other kids learn.  Each child is different, and we are learning to celebrate his achievements instead of stressing over what else he needs to master.  He has achieved a significant amount lately though!  He can now buckle himself in his booster seat, write his name, write a handful of letters, and recognize several letters and numbers.  We have also been practicing strength exercises, as his upper body strength is a little behind. 

We were fortunate to experience one of the big family highs in the Highlands last weekend.  Packing was no big deal after having packed and unpacked eight weeks of clothes and such, and we all five headed out mid-morning last Friday for North Carolina to celebrate Brent's cousin's wedding.  Brent had calls almost the entire five hours, the kids watched movies and behaved fantastically, and we stopped at Taco Bell for lunch which made this mama happy!  All went really well until the very end when Alex started crying that her back hurt, and we had to pull over on a windy road for her to potty on some leaves.  A two year old with a small bladder and no public buildings calls for a very rustic bathroom situation.

We didn't make as good time as we expected, so we all five got ready for the rehearsal dinner in the back of the car in the middle of downtown Highlands.  It was fun seeing all of the family and meeting Richard's (Brent's cousin) bride's family and friends. The evening started in a courtyard with appetizers being served and corn hole to be played.  Our three used their pent up energy to run a few miles around the courtyard, and then played some corn hole.  Sam has a good arm and surprisingly good aim.  He struggles with things like opening doors and hand strength, but he does not struggle at all with throwing or catching!

Soon, it was time for supper and man-oh-man it was delicious!  Fancified southern comfort food was the cuisine du jour.  The kids devoured their meals.  My favorite part was the collard greens, and I am salivated thinking about their scrumptiousness.  After the meal, the toasts and roasts were adorable.  We got to see some of their precious video, but it sadly malfunctioned before we could see it all.  Because of bedtimes, we left before the party was over.  We assumed the wedding party would assume we leave while attitudes were still good, instead of staying and everybody having to celebrate and talk over sleepy grouchy children.

The drive to the house that we rented rivaled the drives in Medellin with all of the windy roads, except the roads here were not only windy, but a slip up means you tumble down a gorge to sure death.  Nausea from the windy roads, and terror from the treacherous cliffs made for an interesting drive, but we finally arrived at the awesome house we were sharing with Brent's sister and her husband, Lindsey and Michael.  We quickly unpacked and put the kids to bed.  Later in the evening, Lindsey and Michael, as well as Brent's brother, Travis, arrived.  We all got to visit and hang out for a while before all of us big people turned in for bed as well.  

The following day was fantastic.  The kids were ecstatic to wake up to a house-full of family, and we had a leisurely breakfast and morning before heading out for some Highland adventures.  We visited most of the "must-see sights" of the area including a breath taking waterfall.  The foliage was gorgeous, and we were in awe of the God-made beauty surrounding us everywhere we journeyed.  Brent's parents tried to meet up with us, but thanks to some confusing directions and really poor cell service, we never ended up at the same location.

After some short power naps for the kids, we headed out to the wedding.  Travis, Lindsey, and Michael left much earlier than us to be part of family photos.  We felt horrible about it, but we just couldn't let the kids fore go their naps, and so we missed out on the pictures.  The wedding was really sweet.  Now that we have been married for almost six years, it seems each wedding is more and more precious as it reminds us of our incredible adventure of marriage.  We were nervous about having three kids sit through a wedding, but they did pretty well all-in-all.  Alex had a few extremely loud things to say, and she received a dirty look from a high school girl, but I don't think it interfered with the actual ceremony.

The reception was held at a gorgeous location, and was the nicest reception Brent and I have ever attended.  It was a multi-coursed sit down meal with a menu was designed by a Dutch chef.  It was fancy and delicious.  Every table had perfectly gorgeous flower arrangements, and the service staff was very professional.  Clearly the day was about the bride and groom, but we felt like royalty to be invited!   The newly weds, Richard and Lindsay, looked absolutely perfect.  Their first dance was sweet, and the dances with the father of the bride and mother of the groom were fantastic. 

Once the meal was over, the band took the stage.  Most of the guests were about our age, but without children.  Some of them took to the dance floor and were doing a good job of cutting a rug, but then the real dancers appeared.  Sam, Lilly Grace, and Alex were hysterical, energetic, and phenomenal dancers.  I know I am biased, but they were the best two and four year old dancers I have ever seen. I hope some of it is on video.  The wild and fun band even had them talk into the microphone and dance on stage.  Aside from water breaks, they danced for at least an hour and a half nonstop.  We ended up driving back to the mountain house with three tired, sweaty children. 

The rest of the trip went extremely well, and our family of five stayed a day extra than Brent's siblings.  Before we drove home on Monday, we ate breakfast at a delicious restaurant at a quaint and very fancy inn in downtown Highlands.  It was our first southern breakfast since arriving back in the states, and it was phenomenal.  As life always seems though, when things are going so well, something bad usually swings our way to bring us back to reality. The girls suddenly were burning up with fever, complaining of sore throats, body aches, and belly pain.  Alex was coughing constantly, and becoming hoarse.

This is where the low comes in.  The girls were sick for an entire week.  They couldn't go to school, and the illness wouldn't seem to let off at all.  They both missed their fall parties, and it was nearly impossible to homeschool Sam when dealing with two sick irritable girls.  I am hesitant to take them to the doctor, because most childhood illnesses are viral.  However, after five days of awful symptoms and fevers that wouldn't break below 101, I caved and we ended up at the pediatrician.  Despite a really rough week on so many levels, the kids were actually pretty good at the doctor.  Three kids and a mom crammed into a tiny room isn't much fun, but we managed and they did well.  The girls were diagnosed with coxsackie virus, which can have a huge range of symptoms.  The girls experienced almost every single symptom throughout the week, and were clearly miserable. 

As if that wasn't enough, our cute miniature dachshund had an awful allergic reaction one night that wound us up at the emergency vet.  My sweet mother came along, as Lucy was looking awful.  Her throat started swelling, and I was terrified her airway was going to close.  As I was gathering my things to head to the vet, I was wondering in my head how to do CPR on a snout, and how to trache a six pound dog.  Lucy ended up being fine, and her swelling went down after a couple of days, a steroid, and gobs of Benadryl.

Friday finally rolled around, and Friday meant Halloween!  My parents were joining us for a thematic Halloween supper (I love themed meals), so I was busy cooking when I decided it was time to dress the kids in their adorable outfits.  Sam was dressed as Jake from the Netherland Pirates, and Lilly Grace was sporting her Izzy outfit from the same show. I stripped Alex's clothes off of her to put her in her Scully the Parrot costume to find her trunk, belly, back, and arms covered with coarse bright red dots.  Another symptom of this heinous virus.  All the kids were finally dressed, and then family came over to see them in their costumes.   Marge came first and brought play-doh, which the kids loved playing with.  She left just as Linda and Tim were coming, and they also brought some fun treats for the kids buckets.  My parents then arrived, and Brent got home around the same time as well. 

We enjoyed our supper, and my parents manned the house while we took the kids trick-or-treating.  They had so much fun, and it truly is so much fun watching kids being excited.  We tried not to let Alex or Lilly Grace touch any other children, so I don't think we spread any of their yucky cooties. 

The next morning, we met one of my friends, Laurie for a post-adoption photo shoot.  Alex's rash had spread to her neck, chin, and mouth, and the spots on her upper chest blistered.  Not a one of us was in a good mood.  The kids at least had an excuse - they didn't feel well.  Brent and I were just sick of the rotten attitudes that come with illness.  Sam is making great strides at acting like a big boy, instead of a 2 or 3 year old, but he regressed and was acting like a young toddler the morning of pictures.  The combination was not lovely whatsoever, but Laurie is talented and ended up getting some wonderful photos!  By looking at the pictures, you would think we were all in stellar moods.  I am just relieved she takes pictures and not videos. 

After a day of lack of patience, rough attitudes, and disobedience, we decided we needed something fun to go on for the kids.  We met Brent's parents at Miyako, a Hibachi restaurant.  It was just what the munchkins needed.  They enjoyed the entertainment of watching the man prepare our meals, and they really enjoyed their meals.  Lilly Grace has hardly had more than a couple of bites per meal this week, but she ate two bowls of the soup.  Sam basically inhaled his soup and enjoyed his chicken.  Alex asked for steak instead of chicken and ate an adult-sized portion.  It was a great cure for a stressed out family, and we were thankful the week ended on a good note. 

Kiddos Posing at the Rehearsal Dinner

Buchanan and Whisonant Families at the Reception

The Beginning of  Lucy's Facial Swelling

Scully, Jake, and Izzy: All from Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Oatmeal Bath for Miss Polka Dots

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