Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two Months

Johanna has been with our family for two months now! Sometimes it feels like we have a little stranger walking around our house, and at other times it feels like she's always been here. We're definitely having a lot of fun with her, and she's really starting to adjust and get more comfortable here at home.

Her language abilities are amazing. She comprehends much of what we say, and she's definitely got over 100 English words of her own that she uses on a regular basis. She talks a lot in the car or at our house, but she's still pretty quiet out in public. She won't really talk to anyone else but us if she's not at home. But that's okay. I think that'll be her personality in general...quieter than Jonas and not as outgoing.

She's healthy as can be. Even when the rest of us were sick the other week with either the flu or strep, Johanna got none of it. The runny nose she had upon first coming home is totally gone; she probably just had to get used to the clean air! Some of her molluscum are clearing up, and though we're still battling new little ones that have appeared, overall they look tons better. She's also gained at least two pounds (she's only two pounds lighter than Jonas now) and probably some height as well. Unfortunately, her dentist visit revealed that she did come to us with three cavities in her back molars, so we'll have to get those fixed in the near future.

She continues to love music. Frozen is her favorite movie by far, and she asks me to tell our Echo Dot to play "Let it Go" several times a day. She also sings her own version of it. Walking down the hallway of Jonas's school, she points out every single backpack with Anna and Elsa on it (and there are several). Songs with hand motions are especially appealing to her, and she learns them remarkably quickly. She and I will be starting Music Together classes in a few weeks, which I think she will love.

Other activities include a weekly art class we do together while Jonas is at school, which she really enjoys, and gymnastics with Jonas. Today was the first day she didn't have any tears or meltdowns before or at gymnastics, so that was a huge step. She absolutely loves the class and is so proud of herself when she does it, but it's the only activity (so far) where she doesn't have access to me (I have to sit on the bleachers and watch). So the anticipation of having to "go it alone" often stresses her out and leads to fearful tears and rages. But today was great! It's not looking like Zack and I will get to have a date night any time soon though!

Girly things also continue to be a hit. She loves picking out hair accessories that match her outfits and having me do her hair every day. I love it too! Her bangs are growing out and her hair is getting longer. Her go-to dress-up outfit is a blue princess dress, and she likes her dress-up doll sticker book and Minnie Mouse toy where she gets to change her outfits and bows. Lately, we've also been having fun playing board games together while Jonas is at school. She picks up on the rules quite quickly and enjoys playing several rounds in a row.

Johanna finally went swimming (and loved it), and we went to the zoo yesterday (she loved that too). I'm dying to sign her up for some dance classes, but I'm not sure she's quite ready for that type of separation, as they would be without Jonas as well. She's gone to a couple of parties and a parade and done pretty well at those too. As her language ability increases, we are able to explain things to her, and that seems to make a big difference in her comfort level at activities and unknown places.

Both sets of grandparents have now met her, and she did very well with both visits. There were a few evening tears on the first day of the visits after they left our house, but Johanna warmed up to them appropriately and enjoyed their attention while they were here. She definitely made the connection between the family pictures displayed in our house and the people visiting. Seeing them on video chats beforehand also helped.

Major meltdowns have pretty much ceased. We haven't seen the tantrums with face hitting, kicking, etc. in a couple of weeks. Even the gymnastics meltdowns were mostly just major tears and screaming. That's not to say she's not moody. Girlfriend is not a morning person! Or a post-nap person! She has this scowl sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Even Jonas will call her out now, asking, "Why do you have a mad face?"

She's gotten a lot better about accepting the word "no" from us, usually. She pretty much knows the rules and sticks to them, unless of course Jonas is leading the way! She does get mad when she wants to do something herself, and we won't let her. It could be because it's dangerous, or we're in a hurry, or it's something parents should take care of, or it's Jonas's turn, or whatever, but she definitely dislikes when we don't agree to her "I do it!" yells. This poor girl must have had to do everything for herself in China. Sometimes we literally have to tell her to take a break or to "let me be the Mama!" And sometimes when she gets frustrated, she gets pouty, but she's learning pretty quickly that words will get her a lot further than whining!

Johanna loves to have fun. She copies Jonas word for word and motion for motion for much of the day, and those two have a blast together. Jonas is very protective of her out in public, sometimes to a fault, yelling at kids on the playground or at the zoo if he perceives that they are trying to steal her turn or push her! It's fun to see how creative they get in their playing together, whether it's turning a box into a spaceship or toy containers into boats. She forces him to dance; her forces her to swordfight! Her giggle is adorable, and it especially comes out when Zack gets home from work and wrestles with the kids.

She still sleeps and eats incredibly well, which we feel so fortunate for, as those are two areas that many adoptees struggle with upon coming home. I'd say she now eats more than Jonas! Lately, she's especially loved meat, asking for third and fourth helpings! Her mattress is still downstairs by our bed, but I bet we could get her into her own room pretty soon after explaining the monitor and her "okay to wake" green light clock. She sleeps through the night, still takes a daily one hour nap, and comes upstairs after waking to find us without any tears (the scowl might be there though!). We really can't complain about anything in these areas!

I do think Johanna is still warming up to us and her new life, understandably. She's not spontaneously affectionate yet (usually), and though she seems to understand that we are her "special people," I don't think she trusts that we'll always be around. She's always kind of eyeing people and places suspiciously, and you can tell she's often not at ease out in public. Thankfully, she has Jonas to look to for learning how to attach and view the world, and in time, I'm sure she'll start to understand what "family" really means.

We're so thankful for the family, friends, and community members who have rallied around us as we made (and continue to make) this sometimes-difficult transition. From dinners delivered to our doorstep to surprise presents in the mail for our little girl to understanding when Johanna needs to be "ignored" by others at church or MOPS or art class or given special attention at gymnastics to accepting our homebound nature lately to cards or messages we receive just checking in on us, it's all been appreciated and made things much easier. I think we're starting to come out of our cloud and get some sense of normalcy around here. Johanna is a sweet little girl, and we're enjoying seeing how she fits into our family of four. I'm still posting almost daily on Instagram, so go there if you'd like regular picture updates on both kids!

Common Questions

Here are some questions I've been asked (several times) since Johanna's been home, so I thought I'd put the answers here for everyone...

Question: "How's she adjusting?"

Answer: See the blog post coming soon about our two months together!

Question: "How do you pronounce Johanna?"

Answer: Actually, I don't usually get asked this one. I'd prefer if people asked! People often just say it wrong, especially at doctors' offices! It's correctly pronounced like Joe-Hannah. The "han" part rhymes with "man," not "tron." I do understand that mix-up. However, when she gets called Joanna, Joanne, or Johnna, I'm at a loss.

Question: "Are they (Jonas and Johanna) twins?"

Answer: "No, they are five days apart."
That answer really throws people. I kind of enjoy the confused looks and reactions! They really look nothing alike, folks. I get that they're both Asian, but come on!

Question: "Are they from China?"

Answer: "Nope, she is, but he's from Kyrgyzstan."
Enter the confused looks again. Understandable, as I had never heard of Kyrgyzstan either. But believe it or not, not every Asian adopted kid is from China!

Question: "So do you have any kids of your own?"

Answer: "Well, they are my own!"
Yes, I was actually asked this the other day. I gave the answer above with a smile on my face, and the lady immediately backpedaled and there were no hard feelings on either side, but geez. I get that it's just ignorance about adoption-friendly language, but it still stings. These kids are 100% "my own." I didn't take it personally and chose to see it as an opportunity to educate her, saying next, "I have no biological children" (not that it was any of her business anyway). Terminology matters sometimes, folks.

Question: "Will you adopt again?"

Answer: "Do you want to give me $35,000?"
It's hard to see all those kids in the orphanages and not want to bring them all home, but I think we're done. Our family feels complete. Our home feels full. Our finances feel drained! Our little family of four is just fine. I mean, unless you want to actually give us $35,000... :)