Sunday, September 18, 2011

So much to post..... So little time!

     5 Weeks home....  I actually had lost count and thought it was six!  Ha!  It's been awhile since I wrote about progress going on here.  The past 2 weeks or so have been full of ups and downs.
     First of all --   "Teddy" is becoming "Jonathan Theodor Jacobsen."  We are slowly changing over to his new name.  When we taught him the phrase, "What is your name?" we all would practice with our whole name-- first, middle and last.  So, he learned right away that his new name was Jonathan Theodor Jacobsen.  However, he always referred to himself as Theodor; the nickname "Teddy" was what he was called by the orphanage staff.  We wanted to keep "Theodor" as his middle name, and -- since he was already 9 years old when he joined us, if he really wanted to keep his name, then that was OK with us.  In the last week, though, he has started referring to himself as Jonathan Theodor, so that's what we've been calling him as well.  It's a mouthful, but hopefully soon we can switch to just "Jonathan" if he is satisfied with that!

     Next, thanks to my sister, Cathy, who just happens to be an O.T. (how much of a blessing is that?!) , "Jonathan Theodor" has started with some therapy!!!  Cathy evaluated him last weekend and gave us some ideas that we've started putting into practice.


     Here Teddy is putting the little glass beads into a container that is just out of his comfortable reach.  It forces him to stretch his hips and legs.  Cathy is working to make most of his therapy into game-type things.  If we demonstrate it for Teddy, his competitive nature makes him want to do it just like we did!

      One other good thing is that "Jonathan Theodor" is doing really well in school.  That is NOT to say that he is enjoying it.  In spite of the break through that we had that one week, the weekend always messes things up!!  He goes 2 days without school, and goes back to his old protests every Monday.  But, quite honestly, he is making a lot of progress.

     The "downer" side of the days since I last posted is that Teddy really has ramped up the "testing" behaviors.  It's fully expected, fully understandable, and fully a patience tester!  :)  Not only has he been having some issues with Dan and me, but he also got to the point where he'd been around everyone in our household long enough to know exactly what it takes to aggravate others (brother and sisters) ... and he hasn't always made himself very endearing to some of them!

     Now, it's very, very easy only to look at the testing and the irritations as negatives.  But, that is simply just from a worldly perspective.  Truth be told (God's truth, that is!), every single time that Teddy challenges Dan's or my authority is a gift of an opportunity to teach a little boy what consistent, loving discipline is.  When I keep that  perspective, being consistent and loving in my discipline comes easier.  When my eyes are NOT looking from that perspective, then life is not pretty.  Over the course of the past 2 weeks, there have been times that I've been floored by obvious answers to my prayer for God to pour out His peace in my heart, and give me His unconditional love for a little boy who has never experienced it.  Grace... it's only God's grace.  Other times, I will confess, I have been floored by ugly examples of my pride that pull me into a power struggle with Teddy that need not be there.  That, too, turns out to be grace again -- grace of a loving Father who cares enough to expose the pride that is obviously there, and teach me to let Him root it out.  And then, the irritations that Teddy has recently enjoyed bringing about in his brother and sisters -- from God's perspective -- those things can be such good opportunities to let God build Christ-like character in them, too.  Tough---  but SO rewarding if we'll all yield to the Spirit and His prompting to respond in a Christ-like way.

Teddy is learning to be gentle with the bunny rabbit!

Our little Indian -- complete with red berry war paint made by Justin!  Teddy wants to do whatever anyone else is doing.... even if he doesn't exactly understand what it is that they are doing!  Ha!  He had no idea whatsoever why he was putting chicken feathers in his "head band," but if it was good enough for Justin, it was good enough for him!!  :)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Comes Naturally

  My kids have a great daddy!  Dan is very involved with them, and they love for him to be around.  He's a very hard worker, and often gets the kids to work along side him at home.  BUT,  he plays hard, too!  :)  Dan is very competitive, and the kids get so excited when Daddy is involved in a game....  he always makes it more fun.  So, therefore, what comes naturally when Daddy has to be away from home?  We all miss him very much.  We think about him, talk about what he might be doing, and can't wait for him to get back.  When he makes it home, the kids all talk at the same time trying to catch him up with things that have happened while he's been gone, they cover him with hugs, and hardly will let him leave the room without someone tagging along!
   What comes naturally to a child who has lived for 9 years in an institution?  "Natural" is the fact that no adults permanently live with you.  The caretakers work shifts, and then go home to their families.  An orphan does not usually have one particular person that he is attached to, one that he misses a lot when that person is gone.  Teddy walked away from the place that had been his home for 5 years and never even casually glanced back.  ( He had been moved there when he was too old to stay in the "baby house" anymore.)  Some of the caretakers seemed sad to see him go, but he did not look even one of them in the eye.  I don't think he even would have waved if we hadn't been waving with him.
   Dan left in the early hours of Tuesday morning to go on an out-of-state business trip.  The other kids knew what was going on, but I forgot to try to prepare Teddy.  Dan is always up and gone to work well before Teddy wakes up each morning, so he got up on Tuesday with nothing seeming any different to him anyway.  I thought that at lunch he would ask where Daddy was, since Dan usually comes in about the time we're getting ready to sit down to eat.  Teddy was oblivious.  I thought that when we got ready for bed, and Dan wasn't there, that Teddy might ask where Daddy was.  Dan always prays with the kids and gives them kisses and hugs before they head to bed.  NO reaction whatsoever from Teddy.  Surely when another day went by, he would ask when Daddy would be home.  All day today, I thought it might occur to him that someone was missing.  He never even realized it.  The kids were all ready for bed tonight when the phone rang.  It was Dan, and I was glad that he called while Teddy was still awake.  I explained what was going on to Dan, and handed the phone to Teddy.  It was unbelievable to watch the expression on his face.....  at first no understanding at all....  then when I said, "It's Daddy" again, it was kind of like a light bulb going on.
   I just wish I knew what really goes on inside his head.  What does he really comprehend yet about "family?"  Are Dan and I still very much like caretakers who might show up for their shift..... or, might not?  Of course, with our house having 7 people in it all the time even without Daddy, Teddy hasn't been lacking for attention or things to do.  He's been enjoying all of the things that he did NOT have at the institution, and the big 'job' of playing takes most of his interest, anyway.  But, it's been painfully obvious that there is quite a lack of attachment yet in his emotions toward those of us who call him part of our family now.  It will take awhile before family  is just what comes naturally.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Three Weeks Home

   Here are pictures of our third week.  Progress is being made every day....  Teddy's legs are getting stronger, and his English is getting better.  Friday he had his first pediatric appointment.  He got 3 shots and a finger prick..... the blood pressure cuff was fun, but those 4 things were not fun at all.... HOWEVER, as we were headed out, the very sweet nurse (who thought Teddy was great!) asked, "Does he like stickers?"  Ha!  So, the 4 not-so-fun things added up to 4 big  stickers.... and he walked out smiling!
   After the full exam, the pediatrician gave us her opinion (not an official diagnosis, I guess, but it does certainly make sense) --- She said that he most likely has mild cerebral palsy.  She suggested looking into therapy just for strengthening his muscles, particularly the left leg.  The surgery that was done 2 years ago (from the looks of things) was most likely not  to correct a club foot.  From the sound of his translated medical file, it was to loosen a rigid Achilles tendon.  We'll still talk with an orthopedist, not exactly for an exam, but just to get his "take" on things.
   So, for a few pictures of the week:

Climbing trees, riding bikes, and swimming still remain the top 3 favorite activities.  Here is Teddy with Sarah and Anna.

Bubble blowing was fun, too!

This is the first family picture of ALL of us together!

Friday, September 2, 2011

One Big Break-through

    We started our home school routine just 36 hours after Teddy arrived in America.  We got home late on the night of Saturday, August 13th, and started school at 8:00 am on Monday morning.  Everything was so new on those first days that Teddy very much was in the "honeymoon" phase of adjustment, and all was well.  It only took a few days, though, before he had realized that "school time" was not the most fun part of the day!  :)  From that point on, we had a battle over one part of the schedule during school time.  But, a nice break-through came 2 days ago..... I was SO excited.  Every day prior to Wednesday, Teddy would realize that I was about to ask him to work on phonics.  He would look me straight in the eye with lots of purpose and say, "NO, Ma-mo!" (He still calls me "Ma-Mo" which is Bulgarian!)  It had honestly been quite a long time since one of our kids had flat -out told me NO!  Now, that's not to say that we have perfectly obedient kids....  usually they do agree, though, but sometimes with delaying tactics!!  We just typically had most of the real battles finished when they were younger.... and had established the chain of authority!!  :)
   So, Teddy kept up his insistence every day that he would NOT do phonics, but in the end, every day (sometimes after a long while, sometimes not-so-long) he would realize that I was very serious when I said, "NO phonics, then NO bike riding!"  He always ended up doing the work, but the next day, it was the same all over again, and I could see by the look on his face that each day he REALLY wished that he could wait me out and see if I would yield first.  But, all it usually took was for it to become obvious that since Leslie was being cooperative, she could cruise on through phonics, math, and reading while he sat pouting at the table saying, "NO!" every time I glanced his way.  The closer she got to being finished with the subjects that must come before any outdoor activities could take place, the more he would realize that SHE was going to beat him to the bike!!  Finally, he would cave in to the calling of the bike!
   However, on Wednesday, even before I asked him to come work on phonics, he did a funny pantomime of sitting at the table doing school work, and said, "Yes, Ma-mo!"   --- Lots of high fives and stickers when that  subject was done!! :)  Hurray!!
   That continued on Thursday and today!!  I think we've won that battle!  More are there to win, of course!  Last night I was looking through the original file we first read about Teddy, and it said, "He has a pronounced stubbornness!!"  I had completely forgotten that was even in there!  We had not seen that part of his personality on our first visit at all.  Naturally it showed up before too long, back while we were still in Bulgaria with him, but it just made me laugh to read it!  The thing about orphan children being stubborn, though, is that it usually is one of the characteristics that -- very honestly -- has kept them alive to this point.  That is not true for all children, of course, but it makes sense that a stubborn persistence in life keeps them from giving in when their lives are very hard.  I'm thankful for the victories we have seen this week.... but I am thankful, too, for his persistence!
   I have reward stickers that have various words of encouragement on them....  Good Job!   Great Work!   Excellent!   Awesome!  Tonight before bed, I got out the calendar and showed him that since today was Friday, tomorrow was a "no school" day.  Teddy's reply??     "AWESOME!"   :)