Saturday, January 28, 2012

A belated 2 week update

Jebriel has been home for 16 days now! I had planned on posting a reflection of the first 2 weeks on Thursday but, it didn't happen :)

The past week has started to feel more 'normal' and less like we are still getting used to each other. He has figured out our routine and knows what behaviors we will and won't tolerate. That doesn't mean he follows them all the time, he IS a 4 year old boy after all ;) but for the most part he's a very well behaved child. He is gentle with his sisters-if they argue over a toy he won't yank it away or push them, he just holds on tight and calls for one of us to come to the rescue.

He came to us terrified of animals, we had to keep our cats locked in the back room for the first 2 days. Then he slowly got used to them and stopped freaking out when he saw them, and now he's totally fine with them. Except at night-part of his bedtime routine is making sure there are no cats hiding in his room :)
Then the first time we went to my parents' house, he got upset when he saw their cats. Well, technically he saw Moses, the giant fluffy cat with no tail, so in his defense, he may not have realized it was a cat. But, we were just over for dinner tonight and he saw and petted both cats without stressing out about it. Our next plan of action is to find a very well behaved little dog, and move up from there. My sister has 2 big dogs that can be wild and loud, and Eric's brother has 2 big dogs that are total lovers, but in an in-your-face, lick-you-all-over kind of way that is cute unless they are as tall as you and you're afraid of animals. It hasn't taken him long to start overcoming his fear of cats, so hopefully he'll be a dog lover soon too. Not so much that he wants one as a pet though ;)

He was very wary of new foods, and at every meal would scan the table and make sure I was aware of all the things he would not eat by pointing and saying "mama, no" and waving his hand over his plate. The first few days he was home, we let it slide. Everything was new and different, so we let him eat whatever made him feel comfortable. But as he became more comfortable, we slowly started requiring that he at least have the food on his plate, whether he touched it or not, and eventually put our 'rule' into place for him too that before you get seconds of anything, you need to take a 'polite bite' of the other food on your plate. We never require eating a whole pile of anything they actually don't like, but encourage a polite bite and remind them that they might like it, and won't know unless they try. The first few meals with this rule, he left the table after eating the food that he did like on his plate. Then he would very reluctantly and dramatically take a tiny taste and be sure to act disgusted.

After awhile though, he could no longer hide his liking for some of the foods he tried. It started with carrots-every afternoon I cut up some fresh veggies, I try to do an assortment of colors, to put out before dinner. They get a snack after naptime, but if they are hungry between 4pm and dinner, they can eat the veggies. For days, he would scoff at the bowl and never go near it, and then stand in the kitchen and ask for dinner every 2 minutes. Then one day, I was cutting up some carrots and he asked to see. I showed him and offered him one, and he took it. And ate it. And asked for more. That day, I had to cut more carrots, which I never have to do. Then it was mango-he spent 10 minutes making sure I knew he would NOT touch the mango on his plate, and then when it came time to take a polite bite before having more pasta, he only acted a little bit disgusted, and as I was scooping more pasta, he ate another piece, and ended up eating half a mango. Now that he's realizing that he actually DOES like a lot of new foods, he is much more willing to try them. One thing I know for sure he doesn't like though is red bell pepper. He very confidently took a bite when both girls were eating them and made a genuine yucky face!

We've had a couple of family dinners, with my parents, Eric's parents, and my sister, and 2 playdates. My best friend Sam has a 4 year old son too, so Camden came over to play in the snow last week. Then another friend from high school has a 4 year old son and a 1 year old son, and they came over yesterday for a playdate. We also have another family friend with a 4 year old son, and the family across the street has a 4 year old boy too. It's such a blessing, he has some built-in friends with parents that I already like!

We haven't started any kind of formal schooling for him, his education right now is learning English and getting accustomed to living here. We do go to the library once a week though for story and craft time. It's a class for 2 year olds, but with Vivi being 2, Journey being almost 2, and Jebriel not speaking English and being a little bit behind, we were able to get special permission to bring all 3. I promised we'd leave if they got crazy, but we've had 2 sessions and they have been great! There are 3 stories with songs in between, one song they get to use either a shaker or rhythm sticks, and the librarian is great, she's great with the kids and does all the different voices in the books. After the stories, we move over to some tables for a craft. Every week has an animal theme, so far we have done dogs and cats.

We signed Jebriel up for soccer, it doesn't start until April but you register now, I guess because they have to order t-shirts and everything. It's just through city parks and rec, non-competitive and fun (and cheaper than the local sports club!) By April he should be pretty fluent in English and is already good at following directions, so I think he'll really enjoy it.

And speaking of English, he is really catching on. He knows the English words for a lot of foods, and while he still uses the Amharic words for a lot of foods, we know those words too, and the girls have picked up on them. Now when I take bread out of the oven, everyone is chanting "Dabo! Dabo! Dabo!" We still say the Amharic and then the English word for all the words we know ("where's your kwas ball?") or sometimes we'll say it in English first and then in Amharic to remind him. He kind of picks and chooses which ones to start saying in English and which ones to keep saying in Amharic. Most of the time he says 'chama', but every once in awhile he'll say 'shoes'. He also knows a few phrases like "don't touch!" "be nice!" and "go play!" and just this weekend started saying "what's that?" It's kind of weird to see him say "mom, what's that?" so clearly. He understands almost everything we say to him now too, so his understanding of English is ahead of his speech, which is normal. I just spoke with a friend who adopted a 5 year old from Ethiopia over the summer and she said after 2 months her daughter was speaking only English. Broken English, she hadn't completely grasped it, but no Amharic. That kind of makes me sad, how fast he will lose his native language. Of course English will benefit him better here, but I do hope to help him retain at least a few words.

Not a whole lot to update on Vivi and Journey, they are still enjoying having their brother home. Journey is struggling a little bit because Vivi used to be more slow paced and she could keep up, but now Vivi wants to be just like Jebby and poor Journey can't always keep up with him and the things he likes to do.  For the most part they play well together, they all like the play kitchen and taking care of baby dolls. A lot of my day is spent tasting pretend food from my 3 little chefs and admiring dolls as they are being fed or rocked or pushed in the shopping cart.

We've been keeping pretty busy, but I'll end this post. I never set out to write such long posts, but once I start typing it's hard to stop sometimes!

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