Thursday, April 20, 2017

Three Months

Well, we're a bit past the three month mark now of Johanna being part of our family. Everything is going pretty smoothly, though there are still some tough periods. It's definitely become more automatic to do everything twice (make two lunches, get two coats out, buckle two carseats, read two stories, etc.). It feels strange now to go somewhere with just Jonas. I love having both a girl and a boy and seeing the differences between the two of them.

We moved Johanna's mattress upstairs to her own bedroom a couple of weeks ago. That seems to have caused a bit of regression, as we have seen daytime meltdowns more frequently since doing this, even though I stay with her until she falls asleep. However, she learned to sleep through the night without waking up to cry after only a few nights, and she willingly stays in her room until her green light on her "OK to Wake" clock comes on in the morning.

Her language ability continues to impress us. She can speak in full (short) sentences now, sing along with several songs, and she and Jonas can actually have conversations as they play together. She's actually pretty funny sometimes, and we find ourselves cracking up at some of the phrases and facial expressions she puts together. Her sense of humor is good; she understands nuanced jokes in movies and simple sarcasm and teasing. Lately, Zack likes to call her "Grandma Johanna," as she has kind of a grandmotherly way about her (caretaker, helpful, old soul, etc.). She takes it pretty well, laughing as she tells him, "Johanna no grandma!"

When I weighed Jonas and Johanna the other week, they were exactly the same...32.9 pounds. She is noticeably taller than him now; she looks to have grown about an inch since coming home. Her legs are super long, and much to his dismay, she uses them to her advantage to out-climb Jonas on some playground equipment, rocks, and trees! She still eats anything and everything and takes a daily nap. Hooray!

Johanna loves gymnastics, music class, dancing, swimming, and art projects. She was very into decorating eggs at Easter! She also loves learning. She practices writing letters on her own for fun (she's actually doing it as I write this), often asking for paper and a pen and then showing me her work. It looks like she might be left-handed after all! Another thing she enjoys is to ask what something is called and then saying, "Wha' 'bout Johanna try?" and then she'll want me to ask her what it is so she can practice the word.

Since the last update, Johanna had her first haircut, as we're trying to even out the orphanage bowl cut. Her bangs are starting to grow out, but I always have to put some sort of hair tie or barrette in to keep them out of her face. We're now down to three molluscum on her face and one on her neck that hopefully are on their way out. The big ones she came home with are all gone; these are newer ones that came afterward.

We also went on our first camping trip over Spring Break, spending two nights in Fruita, Colorado. Johanna loved helping set up camp and sleeping in the tent, along with running around and biking in the desert. We've had good times at the Denver Zoo, the Children's Museum, the Botanic Gardens, and lots of visits to Washington Park. Johanna can almost keep up with Jonas on her Strider bike, and she loves going on the swings.

She still copies Jonas like crazy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. They do get in arguments and fights occasionally, like all siblings, but they play together super well most of the time. I think Jonas is pretty happy to have someone to follow him around and do whatever he suggests (at least for now!). That kid needed a playmate very badly, and the fact that he talks nonstop sure helps her language acquisition!

As I mentioned, the meltdowns are still happening. Right now they are averaging about two to three times per week, sometimes pretty hardcore and full-on. It's usually something little that sets them off. Last night it was me getting Johanna out of the bathtub first when she wanted Jonas to be first (he wanted her to be first, so it was a lose-lose choice for me!). She'll start out upset about the small event, but then she'll deteriorate into full meltdown mode and it becomes very obviously not about the catalyst event at all. Major ones will have the flailing/kicking/hitting/screaming and last about thirty minutes, but they all end with her deep grieving cry, which is very distinguishable from her regular "I got an owie" or "I'm a little upset" cry. It's kind of a haunting cry that seems to come from deep within, and she often wails for Nainai in the middle of it. So sad. At least she lets me hold her now while she "gets it out." After it's done, she sort of snaps out of it and everything goes back to normal like nothing ever happened.

Recently, Johanna has been very interested in looking on as I've been organizing pictures on the computer from our trip to China. I've let her see whatever pictures she's interested in, including ones from the orphanage visit where she's pictured with Nainai and her friends. She always wants to keep looking and likes talking about them. Just the other day she was looking at her "apartment" on the orphanage grounds and pointing out where "Nainai cooks eggs" (the kitchen), "Johanna go potty" (the bathroom), and "Johanna sleeping" (her bed).

Last week, we even had conversations about pictures where Johanna was wearing that infamous red coat! She told me Nainai gave it to her, and we talked and laughed together about how she didn't want to take it off for many days. I mimicked how she would zip it up even higher sometimes, and I told her about how she eventually took it off for her bath and was okay. A few days later, Johanna repeated her version of the story to me happily while looking at another coat picture. It had several hand motions and went something like, "Johanna coat, no take off, Mama Dada say off, Johanna no off, coat off (unzipping motion), Johanna happy!"

Though Johanna happily views pictures from China and likes discussing them in the moment, I think her recent exposure to those images, along with her bed being moved upstairs has led to the increase in meltdowns we've seen in the past week or two. When she's not having meltdowns, things are great. Her attitude is better overall, and she's much more willing to say, "Okay Mama" instead of fighting back when I ask her to do something. She's still not a morning person, but at least it's just silence for awhile instead of scowling. And I've been able to put her extremely helpful nature to use for my benefit sometimes, including emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, feeding the dog, fetching items from other rooms, etc.!

I'll leave you with one cute story about Johanna looking at the pictures from her time in China. In the same session where she was pointing out all of the rooms at Nainai's place and various things about the orphanage, we got to the end of the album, where there are pictures of her sobbing as she says goodbye to her foster mother and friends. One of the last pictures is the one posted here, with all four of us in front of the sculpture out in front of the orphanage. Even though she's obviously miserable in the picture and having one of the worst days of her life, Johanna pointed to this picture as it flashed on my screen the other day and happily shouted just one word upon seeing it. "FAMILY!" she declared. And that's how I know we're all going to be alright.