Saturday, February 28, 2015

One Month Home

It's hard to believe that one month ago, we brought Gyunay home.  He and I have mostly stayed home this past month, letting him get used to home and family.  He's really doing better than we anticipated.
We are catching him up on his immunizations, and we are doing what we can to insure that his health is good.  We are also having him evaluated for speech and occupational therapy with the early intervention available here. 
At home, he is more and more comfortable.  He is expressing likes and dislikes, and he has temper fits like the toddler he is.  He also is starting to push boundaries more, which is expected, and he throws loud but brief fits when he doesn't get what he wants. We've had some hitting and biting incidents, but we have been quickly and carefully addressing those issues, so there have been less of them the last couple of days.  Most of the time, though, he is happy.  He calls Nathaniel "Dada" and me "Mama", and today for the first time, he said, "Hi, Elijah" when Elijah came upstairs after a long period of being in the basement.  He babbles a lot.  He does understand quite a bit of English, even though he doesn't really speak.
Bath and poopy diaper changes are still screaming issues, every time.  He is very afraid of new things, which can be anything from a new place (elevator, doctor's waiting room) to just being outside in a different part of the yard than he has been before.  He feels most comfortable in the sling in unusual places, though, and he does always want me around, so he is getting attached well.  He loves to follow his brothers and sister around.  He craves their attention.  He's also always happy to see Nathaniel come home from work, and he comes up to him for cuddling now.  He gives hi fives and waves bye bye.  He is very diligent in letting me know when the dog needs food or let inside or outside.  He has also stopped being rough with her and is very gentle in petting her.  Overall, he is really doing so well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lemon Icing

We had to make cupcakes for Malachi's boy scout banquet, and he requested lemon.  We made the lemon cake yesterday, which is good but only a subtle lemon flavor.  Today, Lydia and I made lemon icing, which I made up on the fly and absolutely loved.  I don't like most icings, but this was really so good.  This recipe frosted 18 cupcakes.  It's easy, too:

6 T room temp butter
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
lemon zest, optional
1T milk
juice of 1 lemon, added slowly

Actually, I think next time I would just replace the milk with all lemon juice.  This has a very lemony flavor, and I added the zest so people could guess the flavor by looking at it, and not think it was vanilla or regular white icing.  I think I'll try this recipe with orange sometime, since I also have orange extract.  I bought the extracts a long time ago, when the bulk store went out of business, and I've decided that they were a good buy.  They are usually pretty expensive, but a tiny bit goes a long way.  I've also wondered if I could just make more myself, when I run out...

Also, I made Malachi his chicken apron:

He learned how to fry eggs by himself, and has eagerly cooked eggs three times now.  So I rewarded him with the apron, and he promptly decided not to help make the cupcakes.  Oh, well.  At least he's willing to cook sometimes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Introducing...Ninja Bunny

Meet Ninja Bunny
This ferocious yet adorable creature is often found at our house.  She often wears dresses (because she's a girl bunny), and those cute braids you see are her ears (because she's a lop).  The green headband signifies that she is a ninja, because this baby bunny can really kick butt.  And yes, she was ninja bunny for church yesterday!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snow Days

Although we have had tons of snow (about a foot) and no school all week, it has been so bitter cold that the kids haven't had much of a chance to really enjoy it.  The bigger kids played outside early in the week, but yesterday the -14 temperature (yes, that's a negative, and I'm not including wind chill) kept everyone inside.  Also, Gyunay hadn't had a chance to experience the snow.  Until Today...

Elijah asked, "Mom, are you really going to take a picture of him all bundled up like the kid in A Christmas Story?"  Yes, son, I am.

His face is all shiny because Lydia coated him and herself in cocoa butter to protect their skin.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review - Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl

  One perk at having cold, snowy days is that I have more of an excuse to read.  Since my little man has been sleeping better, I've had time to read my latest selection from Bethany House, Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl.  It is actually the second book in a series, but it is a stand-alone novel.  I didn't read the first one, but I didn't feel that it was necessary to enjoy this book.

This is the most faith-centered novel I have read, and by that I mean that most of the characters are trying to live lives full of faith and bring God regularly into their conversations and daily life.  The town itself, Sanctuary Missouri, is full of conservative Christians who seem more like family than a town.  The main character, 24-year-old school teacher Sarah Miller, has found the town to be her real sanctuary after a life of trauma and heartbreak.  Now, Sarah's sister is murdered in the same fashion as her parents were 18 years ago, and Sarah has to deal with her own heartbreak as well as her young niece's, all while trying to figure out what connection exists between the two murders.

The murder mystery is solid, and I was kept wondering how it all would tie together.  Sarah herself is a likeable character, as are most of the main characters.  As she struggles with her anger, guilt, and hurt at her sister's death, she also must come to terms with her lifelong habit of comparing herself to others, particularly her older sister.  With the help of her friends and her faith, she presses forward trying to resolve the mystery while helping her niece adapt to her new life in Sanctuary.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.  I received Deadly Echoes from the publisher, Bethany House, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 16, 2015


We had a wonderful Valentine weekend, with my sister's family coming to meet Gyunay!  The kids did so good.  I wasn't sure how Gyunay would do, but he did really great.  He was particularly enthralled by my 1-year-old nephew, which makes sense, because in the orphanage, Gyunay was in a group with a bunch of 1-year-olds.


Friday, February 13, 2015

On Food

Food issues are very common with kids from "hard places" like orphanages.   Some of the advice from experts includes that only mom and dad give food to the new child for a long period of time, perhaps even six months.  Another is to try to give food whenever they ask for it.  This can sometimes be problematic, such as if a child makes himself sick from overeating.  As for us, our food issues have been fairly mild, but it is obvious that they are there.

Gyunay is doing very well.  At first, he would eat anything and everything in front of him, and he asked to eat at least once an hour, every hour, all day, and often even if he had just ate.  We had a few instances of overeating, but we seem to be doing much better with that now.  He still eats often, but not as often, and I just serve small portions.  One good point, though, is that he is starting to show preferences.  Now, most parents would not be thrilled that their son handed back his bowl of broccoli, but we were because it means that he feels comfortable enough to know that if he doesn't want that food, more food really is available for him.  He seems to trust that we will feed him, which although it seems obvious to us, it wasn't obvious to him at first.
So, what does he eat?  So far, he seems to like:
eggs: fried, hardboiled, or scrambled
fruit: strawberries, bananas, oranges, apples
any flavor applesauce
yogurt: plain, vanilla, mixed with blueberries or applesauce
cooked, pureed pumpkin (not even sweetened!)
cheesy grits
soup: vegetable, split pea and barley, chili
noodle medley
crackers, bread, rolls (with butter), cornbread
green beans
muffins: pumpkin and orange coconut
cheese: cheddar, Bulgarian, Colby jack, mozzarella
cooked carrots and onions
What he doesn't like: broccoli, chocolate pudding, peas (although he will eat one or two peas, so maybe he'll acquire the taste)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Exploring the Great Outdoors

It was so nice this weekend that I was able to get Gyunay outdoors to explore.  We quickly found that the backyard was too uneven and muddy for him to walk well, so we headed out front.  He loved walking around the concrete pad.  Lydia was playing with the stroller.  I asked if she wanted to push her brother around for a few minutes.  She was ecstatic.  "I'm a REAL big sister!"


I don't think Gyunay was thrilled to be in the stroller, but he didn't fuss.  I let her push him around for about 10 minutes, then freed him.  He was happy to walk around in big circles on the concrete.

He's really fond of the big kids.  Here he is climbing over to hold Lydia's hand. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

On the go

Nathaniel ordered this wheelie bug online, and it arrived last night, so today Gyunay is having fun riding around the house.  It is easy for him to get on and off, and wide and sturdy so he doesn't fall.  He loves it!
Of course, he also loves the box it came in.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Figuring it all out

We've been home for just a few days, so we are still figuring it all out.  Gyunay went from crying panic when we took off his shoes, to taking them off himself and running barefoot through the house.  We figured out pretty quickly that the only time his shoes were off in the orphanage was when it was nap time or bedtime.  He's starting to realize that we are barefoot people, and that it's ok.
He was also very afraid of tooth brushing, which we think was a new thing for him, but he now lets us brush his teeth without fussing.  He doesn't spit yet, but hey, it's progress.  It only took 5 years to get Lydia to brush her teeth without fussing.
He looks for us, and calls out for "Dada" when he leaves the room.  He will also call for me if I'm out of the room now.  He babbles a lot, mostly "bababa" but sometimes "nanana".  He's a very happy boy, generally. 
He still is scared of wet wipes and washrags, but today at lunch he held out his hand for me to wipe it off, and for the first time we ended a meal without tears. 
The real terror that will probably take a while to overcome is the bath.  Sheer panic.  We're going to try and give him a bath in the kitchen sink tonight.  It may not help, but it's worth a try.

Our hearts overflow.