The First Week

{My computer is officially dead. Which means that I may be a little slow to post—and read—blogs for the next couple of weeks. I rely on using Doug's work computer for now...Which is not just sitting around. Clearly. And thank you all for the sweet comments and notes... they are so very much appreciated!} 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. OK, OK. Not really. But good entrance line, no?! Honestly, this is going much better than we expected. Don't get me wrong... the first week at home was hard... but so, so much easier than we thought it would be. I'm sure that some of it has to do with having five days to get to know each other while still in Korea... while we weren't in our element, or in our normal groove, at least we were finding our places in the new family dynamic. Also helpful was that for one reason or another, we all pretty much immediately flipped over to Eastern Standard Time. The combination of jet lag and getting to know each other (and teething) almost did us in upon our return with Spencer five years ago... so we were pleasantly surprised when the first week didn't kill us. While I'm not flippant enough to say "we're settled," I do feel as though I can confidently say "We're doing well!" And that's a really good place to be.

This first week home was also school vacation for Spencer... which ended up being both a blessing and a curse. I'd say that his adjustment has been one of the hardest... and with good reason. We've added in a new family member, one who seems intent on upsetting big brother's apples the most. So the poor kiddo has been battling exhaustion, and a sibling, and the typical five-year-old mood swings. Which has been hard on aaaallll of us. I think we're all looking forward to the return of school tomorrow for a little normalcy in our lives. (Even if one of us doesn't realize it yet.) Doug has been back to work for a few days now... so tomorrow marks the true "first day" of our "new normal." Wish us luck.

{I feel this photo needs a descriptor. Spencer asked me to take this, and to post it. It's how he feels about school...}

Moving on to the fun stuff... A little about the new guy. In a random format of whatever comes to mind.

Milo is active. And his energy level matches that of Spencer's. I didn't actually think that was possible... but it is. While it's the same intensity, it manifests very differently. Spencer was always a little acrobat, whereas Milo is kind of brute force. Spencer will do a back handspring, forward roll, or cartwheel over the obstacle, but Milo will barrel right through it. At full speed. And never blink. He's also a fan of jumping. Constantly. Why walk from point a to point b when you can jump. Much more fun, no?! His auntie pointed out this morning that he was just like "Tigger" and that his bottom half seemed to be made from a spring. It was a very astute observation... and sums up his love of "the bounce" well.

The hotel where we stayed in Korea had a little playroom which was honestly a lifesaver for us. The boys got to run off steam and energy, as well as learn how to relate to each other in that little room. This was also where we got our first glimpse of how strong and capable Milo was. After months and months of seeing photos where he seemed like a timid, reserved boy (although the reports we received indicated he was anything but...), it was fun to see his real personality shine through. This prepared us mentally for what he would be like once he got home. And as he grows more and more comfortable, we see less and less of that "shy boy" and more and more of that "energetic boy." Oh, boy.

He's also a fan of the "great adventure." He squeals and claps when the shoes and jackets come out and he beelines for the door. He'd much rather be "out" than "in" and knows the process and steps to getting out the door efficiently. I wish I could say the same for big brother... He's not a fan of "staying behind" or "missing out." I've been trying to give Spencer some special "big boy only" outings and activities while Milo naps... and lets just say Milo makes his displeasure known when he wakes up and finds out. Even if it's something like taking Spencer out to play in the snow. Milo is NOT a fan of the snow, but the fact that we would dare go out without him... oh, the horror!

He's ridiculously savvy with the iPhone and iPad already, and is no stranger to video chatting. Like many Korean kiddos, he's familiar with the Korean cartoons "Tayo" and "Pororo"... but he's also become a big fan of American shows "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and "Yo Gabba Gabba!" He recognizes the theme songs for all of these and stops what he's doing, runs over to the TV (or iDevice) and claps and jumps when they come on. He's also a fan of music and loves to "get his groove on."

We're still trying to figure out toys. He seems to like whatever big brother is doing. Much to big brother's dismay. (And Mama's too.) He's not a fan of the "sit quietly and play" routine, although he's been caught happily playing with duplos and magna-tiles a few times now. (But every time I sit down to take a photo, he runs for my lap. YAY... but the photographer in me cringes a little.) He's also a fan of all the boxes coming to this house these days. Who needs toys when you have amazon boxes of all shapes and sizes?!

He does seem to love bath time, and I believe that "bath" was one of the first American words he understood. In Korea, Doug asked if he wanted to take a bath and he ran for the tub. He's still learning manners in there and hard lessons like "You cannot drink the bath water if there are bubbles." But we are getting there. He also adores "helping" with chores such as laundry and dishwasher duty... but thinks that unplugging the vacuum is more fun than doing anything productive with it. He's very cleanly and will throw out any little pieces of garbage he comes across. (Think big brother's abandoned cheese wrapper or a random piece of paper from a workbook.)

Every day he seems to "get" more of what we are saying in English. (We've been using a mix of Korean and English, and we know that he clearly understood Korean... but was not saying much yet.) He seems to understand the {English} phrases for Mama, Daddy, big brother, go, car, sit down, don't do that, yes, no, good job, hooray, go to your chair, bed, diaper, watch, dance... I'm sure there are more, but I'm blanking. He babbles a ton, and clearly has things to tell us, but no clear words. Well, except for one. Eat. At first I thought I misheard, but then he walked over to the table, climbed into his chair, looked at me and said, "Eat." I got the point. {wink} (And I cannot wait until his foster mother hears that this was his first word... it's so appropriate.)

The fact that his first word was "eat" is ironic because this kid loves. to. eat. I mean, he LOVES it. We were told all along that he loved food. And we witnessed it first hand when we were over there for trip one... but living it now. Wow, just wow.  At first we thought that maybe he was drowning his anxiety and fear and uncertainty by eating... but it's becoming clear that we may just have a future foodie on our hands. The funniest part is when we place something new or exciting in front of him, he exclaims "WhoooaaaaWoooowwww!!!" While wearing a completely awed expression. Then he digs in with vigor. The first couple of days home we fed the boys first, then had our meals. This quickly came to an end when Milo saw us sit down to eat, and pulled up his chair and looked at us like, "Okay, I'm ready. Where's mine?!" And then proceeded to put away a whole second meal. And snacks?! Oh my. On my list for this week is to figure out some snack options here. We're coming from a place where we had to bribe, cajole, and beg our child to stop long enough to eat to a place where, uh, the kid has figured out how to bust into the fridge, freezer, and snack cabinet. (And he is getting plenty of food/nourishment... don't worry.)

On Friday, we had our first post-placement visit with our social worker. I think that Doug and I both breathed a sigh of relief when she said multiple times, "I cannot believe you have only been home four days!" It was the confirmation that maybe... just maybe... things were going as well as we thought they were.

But, like anyone who's gone through adoption will tell you... it's not all rainbows and unicorns. There has been some significant mourning for the foster family... mostly at night. This usually manifests in uncontrollable sobbing while the eyes are screwed shut so that he doesn't have to accept the reality. It's also shown up in certain self-soothing gestures when overwhelmed or overtired. And occasionally you see glimpses of it when he does one of the foster mother's mannerisms or gestures (like the "no-no" "hand shake") and he realizes it. You see his eyes cloud over and confusion pass for a moment.

We struggled with some trust issues early on that resulted in some scary toddler rage. Luckily, that seems to have been a short-lived period for us... or we're just in the eye of the storm. I do think that even though he sometimes looks at us like "You are doing this ALL wrong," he's trusting us that it will get done. So hopefully if we do go through that again, it will be a little less intense. And, at least we won't be trapped on a plane at the time. Right?!

{This is life.}

Ups and downs. They're both there. Definitely more ups and than downs... and I think that a lot of that has to do with Milo's personality and resilience. It's so very obvious that his foster family prepared him for this and that they tried their best to give him the emotional tools to get through this trying time. It's also amazing how helpful Spencer has been. While it has not been easy on him either, he's definitely forging paths for Milo. (In between bouts of "He's bothering me!" and "Mom, he's touching my stuff!") And Doug and I just consider ourselves lucky to have both of this boys here. Each day has been better than the day before and that's all we can ask for...

Now, it's taken me two days to write this and I hope it all makes sense. I'm beat and figuring that it's better to hit "publish" before two more days slip by. I've included a lot of photos here... most of them are from this week... but some hark back to Korea days.