Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Week Report Card

So a full week has gone by and we're ready to give a report on how things are rolling here at Camp Hoffman. You can see the grades above and we'll break it down for ya here...

Wow. This has happened quick and has been incredible. Now - to be fair - she did spend almost two weeks with Laura in Ethiopia. But holy cow - she has bonded with both Laura, me AND Meron in such an incredible way.

She is very concerned with where Meron is when she's not around - especially when it gets close to things she isn't too fond of (see also: BEDTIME). She will come equally to me or Laura and shows a TON of affection. Overall - we couldn't ask for a better bonding experience. I think she is starting to understand that we're here for good and we are going to protect her, feed her, love her, etc.

She really is doing pretty good. She will watch Meron and follow her lead on ALMOST anything. I say almost because she might be the only toddler I know who doesn't like macaroni and cheese. Well - yet at least.

My first morning alone with her she tried to convince me to give her a bowl of syrup.
(don't worry - I didnt!). But now she is eating tons of fruits, some beans, some meat, applesauce, COOKIES (big hit) - she's pretty much eating what we eat - no special diets for her.

Oh - and she has learned to say "Yummy in my tummy!" when she likes something...

Okay - so we gave her a C up there - and trust me - that is GREAT right now! If we were grading last week that would have been an F-. But she has made SUCH an improvement.

At first -we couldn't even ACT like we were going to leave the room without the saddest face and the biggest crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks. Wait too long to pick her up and shrieks and sobs followed pretty quickly. Middle of the week we were on an air mattress in her room. Did this two nights and then moved out to the couch. Spent a few nights like that - being quick to respond when she woke up startled or scared and now we are here - her lying peacefully while we leave the room. She has also learned not to scream but to gently say "Mommy! Daddy! I need you!" across the monitor and we are there in a snap.

As I type this she is asleep in her room by herself - noise machine running, baby doll snuggled up and stars projected on her ceiling. I wouldn't say she is a fan of bedtime - but she has shown tremendous growth in both her self-confidence as well as her confidence in us.

And can I add this - she is potty trained. Full-on, all-out potty trained. Like - big girl panties all day and all night. Not a single accident. Oh.... and she has been that way for a YEAR! Holy big girl Batman...

Well - this has just been flat out fun. The girl is like an English language sponge. She has absorbed so much of it that communicating with her has not really been a problem at all. It almost seems magical how she knows so much of it.

But she'll still rattle off a paragraph or two in Amharic to ya. My favorite is when she did it once to Meron and Meron listened all intently and then looked staright at her and said:
"I don't know what you are saying! What does that mean sissy?"
This was actually one of the areas I was worried about - but all that worry melted away the first time I was driving with her and Meron and I heard her say from her car-seat in her sweet little accent:
"I love you guys!"
Heart... melted.

Whew... two things going on here. This little teeny tiny girl has some adult-sized stubbornness in her! And the other thing is this - its clear and obvious she was in a group child setting with little or no discipline. That's nobody's fault - those caregivers did the best they could - but this little one is used to pouting and crying to get her way...

And unfortunately for her - we don't roll like that at Camp Hoffman. Just ask Meron. So Mebrate has gotten to see Meron in timeout a few times and has even had a couple of her own. She's just so smart... she totally gets it. She comes running out of timeout for the hugs and kisses we always chase those with - and she has apologized and has been incredibly good and quick at modifying her behavior.

We've shown her a TON of grace too because we do realize the circumstances she has been under - but we also believe that some structure and discipline are very helpful in creating the environment that these kids actually desire. And it's been missing - so we're slowly but steadily bringing it back in. I have full confidence in her around this stuff - shes just shown us how smart she is so I know she'll get it...

So - apparently 80 pound canines aren't kept as pets in Ethiopia! Poor girl was TERRIFIED of our geriatric golden retriever. First night she was just buried her head in our chest and would barely come up for air.

So we have had to do some creative gating of the house - but man - she has covered some serious ground. I mean -we've gone from me thinking we broke her for good by her just seeing Clay to tonight - when on her own (while being held) she reached out to pet his head.

She has come a super long way in a short amount of time - and given all the other adjustments she is having to make - I have to say I am pretty proud of her. Clay - no worries my man - you'll be back to snoozing at the top of the steps in no time!

Seriously - I am pretty sure the girl was a professional player in Ethiopia. She can play with the best of them. Her imagination is fun and she loves to dress up, wear Disney princess shoes and lots and lots of beads.

She is perfectly content playing by herself but I think she loves it even more when her and Meron get a good play session on. Not only does she play well - but she has slowly learned the art of picking up her toys too. Now if she can just teach Meron.

She has a ton of it. She squeezes so hard when she hugs us - she'll pat our backs like we pat hers. She gives kisses and says "I love you!" in her precious little accented voice. Bottom line - shes got a lot of love. It amazes me - given her circumstances and what her tiny little body and mind have gone through over the past 2 years - that the power of love is so strong that it can defeat everything else.

Oh - she has some mourning to do - and we'll be right there by her side through it all - but I am confident her love level is gonna have her riding high through all of that. I love her love.

Meron has been nothing short of incredible as a big sister. For having to deal with not just a little baby sister - but a toddler able to do everything you can (and some things you can't) - Meron has shown a tremendous amount of love, caring, sacrifice, faith, strength... I could go on and on. I am SO SO proud of her and the big girl she grew into almost overnight. I love her, her mommy loves her and her little sister ADORES her. Big fat kudos to our girl for doing such a kick-butt job.

There ya have it... one week down at Camp Hoffman as a party of four - and we're LOVING it!


Rachel said...

I am so happy for you!! Great report, she is doing so great.

And the part about Mebrate teaching Meron how to pick uo toys made me laugh! :))

emily said...

Love the update and a certain shirt in this post! Way to go girls. Just makes me so happy to see you two together. :)

Kathleen said...

Love this report card! Meron is really an awesome girl. I pray my 4 year old is as loving and kind to his new little sister when she comes home as Meron is to Mebrate.

Very happy for all of you :)