Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's been 8 months...

Seriously...can't believe it. It has been 8 months already. Some days have flown by and others have crept slowly. I love to do these posts so I can see how far we have come. It is hard to really notice how much has changed when you are in the thick of it, but stepping back, you get a better picture.

We have really seen some great improvements. Our whole family is doing really well and it continues to be a blessing. I had our follow up call with our agency the other day and was really encouraged. I was able to share some of the breakthroughs that we have had recently and our case worker shared that she thought we were doing many things right and could really take comfort and encouragement for seeing such great results for cocooning and being so intentional.

  • I have gone out for an evening or 2 and had Chuck put the boys down by himself. I am working at being able to be gone for a weekend in Feb., so I need to work on allowing Chuck to take more responsibility for the kiddos.
  • We can do more than one activity a day. Like the park and church. We still don't take the boys out to shopping much or very stimulating activities.
  • Tate seems to be more comfortable around crowds of people. Like our adoption gatherings, or church. He is also starting to eat with others around and not be on such a food strike.
  • Tyce continues to show improvement with being around other kids. He still has a hard time playing with others when we are around others. It isn't that he acts naughty, it almost seems like he struggles with social skills. He seeks out individual toys rather than group play.
  • Tyce still doesn't like toys much. BUT...he loves to draw and color. He is very creative and creates a picture almost every day that represents our family.
  • Tyce is learning to read. We are almost 2/3 of the way done with the 100 lessons book. He is catching on quickly but continues to struggle with some accent issues.
  • Tate is doing better with his language. He is finally using more new words every day. He still uses his made up jibber language and haven't seen that stop.
  • We've had some really good breakthroughs with Tyce. We have been able to identify some key triggers to pain and hurt for him and are helping him process through those feelings.
  • Tate doesn't tantrum much anymore. Instead he finds a spot to sit and be sad, but when he is over it, he comes out and can bounce back quickly.
  • Tate is still struggling with "playing nice". He can sure act like a stinker sometimes.
  • The boys are learning to "check in" when they are out playing. They come over and "check in" with me and show me some good eye contact.
  • We have been working really hard with eye contact with mom and boys. Tate's is continuing to lengthen and show good genuine connection. Tyce still has a hard time when he is being corrected to show eye contact.
  • We now have a dial with "red, yellow and green" spots to show if Tyce is struggling a little, or shutting down, or ready to listen and obey. He is learning he has some control in the situation.
  • Tyce's preschool teacher says he is still doing well and listening and obeying. I notice he doesn't take his eyes off the teacher and watches her intently. Could be a sign of being on high alert.
  • We've learned how important it is to identify with the boys pain and watch their behavior to adjust to make things easier for them to succeed.
  • Soccer season is over, Tyce did an amazing job (another post) and scored a total of 53 goals in 8 games.
  • When the boys offer to pray, Tyce has now moved to including variety in his prayers (rather than just "thank you you Jesus, amen". And Tate has started to prayer jibberish and he always wants to sing after we pray.
  • Tyce called out for me one night recently because he had a bloody nose. That was his first time to call for me after I had tucked him into bed. It was a GREAT thing.
  • Still haven't recieved those birth certificates in the mail...ugh...guess I need to follow up on it.
  • I've been hunting for a picture of a mud hut that resembles the home that the boys lived in. I think I found something close. Below is the closest I have come up with.
I will hope to post again soon. Busy busy around here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

connecting with friends

This summer we were able to meet a lot of AGCI families while we gathered for the regional picnic here in our area. Even though we have a big adoption group here it was such a treat to meet some online friends face to face.

And I did what your mother would tell you NOT to do...I invited virtual strangers to our home for an overnight visit. =) It's hard to call the Pratt family strangers. We had emailed back and forth, talked on the phone, spent time getting to know each other via blogs and facebook. This was one of the families that got to spend time with our boys before we even traveled to bring them home. Actually they both "fell in love with our boys" and didn't even know they were siblings. They gave us pictures and filled us in on their visit with them way back last winter. truly was a treat to meet them in person. They drove over 10 hours to come and spend time here for the AGCI picnic. They brought their little Mekele home a few months before we did. And he is a cutie. Tyce sure took to being the "big brother" of the little guys that weekend. Now Tate...well...he wasn't so sure about having another baby around. He spent the weekend on a food strike and talked in a funny gruff voice the whole time they were here.

It will be fun to watch how God grows their family as they hope and plan to adopt again soon. We will be praying for them and supporting them as they continue to follow where God leads. Just have to say...there is just something SOOOOO special about connecting with other adoptive families. They feel like extended family to us.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

one of the reasons I DON'T cut their hair

Aside from being cute...I mean REALLY...those curls are just adorable. One of the main reasons I don't cut their hair is traumatic. The boys were old enough that they remember when they were brought to the orphanage and had their hair cut (actually, shaved). Almost all of the kids get their head shaved when they enter the orphan system. Ring worm is very common and it is easy to detect if it is on their scalp when their hair is shaved.

I have trimmed Tate's hair 2 times but the last time I got out the scissors to give it a little trim, he was so emotionally upset, I just put the comb and scissors away. Here are some pics of their first hair cuts here at home.

You can tell how upset he is. He cried the whole time. And it just isn't worth it right now, so we will grow the hair nice and BIG. is really cute when it is cut a little shorter. Oh...such big eyes our little one has. Couldn't you just eat him up???

Actually Tyce doesn't want his hair cut either. He likes big hair. He has tighter curls and it is really easy and fun to style his hair in twists. I have only cut his hair once and I regretted it as soon as I did it. One of the only hard parts of long hair is how much hair product it takes to keep it moisturized.
I might encourage any adoptive mamas out there to consider that the hair cut might trigger a negative memory for your little ones. I'm not advocating you grow it long, but consider clippers could cause some trauma. A little lolly pop and lots of hugs from mom might help soothe in the situation.


When we first came home, our boys were fascinated by the heat or air that would come out of the floor vents. In fact, that was just one of the MANY discoveries they were enthralled with. The ice that came out of the refrigerator. The buttons on the remote. The garage door that opened with a button. The loud sound of the vacuum or blender. Even the idea of putting the dishes in the dish washer and having them come out clean was interesting.

The boys had to touch and discover all of their new world for them selves. They had to investigate every button on the cell phone. And when I say EVERY button, I really mean EVERY button. They had to see what would happen if they flipped every light switch. This was all part of exploring and learning. It only became a problem when they found the switch to the air conditioner and switched it off (we had NO clue they had done this until we paid for a repair man to come and fix it...$140 later). Or when "someone" found the knob for the hot water heater and all of our showers were cold (we wised up and investigated before we called a repair man). Or how about when the little one found the bug spray...yep...we have had to baby proof the house.

Here is Tate discovering the cool air coming out of the floor vent. A perfect spot to sit on a hot summer day.

Dedication to the LORD

We had our parent child dedication on Sunday. It was an opportunity for our family to stand before our church family and share that we desire to raise our boys in a home that glorifies God. We met with our pastor earlier in the week and were able to share more about our adoption story and how God led us to our sweet peas. It was also a good reminder that these sweet children that God has allowed us to parent, really belong to Him. All of our kids are God's and we just get the blessing of being the earthy mom and dad.

As part of the dedication, they share the boys' names and meanings and pick a verse that is appropriate.

Tyson - means one who is fiery or name for our explosive little guy. The director at the orphanage said he was a monsoon.

Fikadu - the name his birth mom gave him - means God's will.

We are praying that it is God's desire and will for his life that Tyson will be an explosion for the Kingdom of heaven.

Tatum - means joyful or one who brings cheer...again...perfect. Having Tate as part of our family brings much joy and blessings.

Abush - the name his birth mom gave him - means baby boy. A common name you give babies when they are first born in Ethiopia.

We are so grateful for this baby boy that God has brought into our life. He truly has brought more joy into our home.

Thank you LORD for bringing our boys into our lives and blessing us with these precious children.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moving from Coping Skills to Family Skills

I have been reading a fantastic book that has helped put some of our boy's behaviors into perspective. If you are adopting or have adopted, make sure and check out Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child. I am learning more about why the kids respond to different situations. Learning about their coping skills (AKA survival skills).

You see...we have one child who "shuts down" when he is maxed out and another who "revs up and acts out". If you look through our pictures, it is pretty easy to see which one of our boys "shuts down". Our little guy. He doesn't like to have his picture taken. He doesn't like to eat when others are around. He can very easily be the one who looks shy or like he is pouting.

Here are some pictures from his birthday. I took the kids for ice cream. And...he was "out of sorts".
Now this was a few months ago and he has come a LONG way since then. But it is good to show how he can respond when he is having an overwhelming moment or feeling stressed.
Now our older one...he likes to act wild and get spazzy and then it is hard for him to settle down and listen and follow the instructions.
Here we are...trying to celebrate Tate's birthday with some ice cream out, and he shuts down and has a tantrum at the Sonic drive in (and no, I did not take that picture). When we first came home, we got a "baptism by fire" if you will on tantrums. Whoa...those were some powerful tantrums from our little guy. But, here we are, almost 8 months home and we haven't seen a tantrum in a while. The boys have learned to use more appropriate ways to express their disappointment or grief. Instead of tantrums, Tate will often curl up on the ground and put his head down. Then we take a moment to talk and use our words to share what he is feeling. We are working hard at moving from coping skills/survival skills to "family skills".

Everything I do with our boys in intentional. I am working hard at parenting them the best I can to build them up for success. It is really neat to see them doing better and better at stressful situations. They are using those learned skills (family skills) to handle the hard times. As their communication skills grow and their language improves, it helps the situation so much.

Now, there are times that they quickly revert back to survival skills (acting out or shutting down). Any kind of change of routine or any simple change, can bring them back to their familiar coping skills. So, we are still a bit of a "messy" family, but we are heading in the right direction.