Sunday, December 15, 2013

36 years 3 months 25 days

August 1977, Sandy Macri and her 2 and a half year old son Chris in Florida.

November 2013, Ann Macri and her 2 and a half year old daughter Avi in California. 

These two photos were taken a mere 13,266 days apart. My how time flies. I think both moms are thinking the same thing. I remember how much easier traveling was when it was just my husband and I. What will we do to keep this little person entertained and still make it back in time for nap? Will they remember this?

To be honest, I mostly don't. I have only little glimpses really. The familiar look of seaweed on the beach, the sound of the water, the feel of the wet sand.  These are more flashbulb images than anything else. I'm not even sure these images are from that time or just an amalgamation of memories over the years. I wonder what Avi will retain, if anything, from this portion of her life. The reality is she'll remember very little which is why we're trying so hard to document everything.

Times are good now. But I'll let you in on a secret. This blog is a highlight reel. I realize that when I look through it. Times are good, but there are things we miss. I feel tired a lot of the time. Between work and taking care of Avi, Ann and I have a lot less down time time together. We still have fun and we smile and laugh a lot. But, we're tired. Papa Gene and Aunt Pam have been a blessing when the take Avi for a few hours on occasional weekends. Sometimes Ann and I don't even do anything, or we end up at Target just wandering around. We miss these simple things. Avi is a wonderful addition to our life, but parenthood is exhausting. It gives me a real appreciation for the hard work my parents put in over the years.

It has definitely gotten a lot easier than it was originally. Avi is communicating more each week. That's made a big difference. Instead of getting mad and screaming, Ann has gotten her to say "help please". That's a fantastic change over where we were 4 months ago. She's asking for apples, milk, water, cookies, and a myriad of other things. It's so nice to be able to have back and forth communication to figure out what she wants.

She's still not sleeping great though. We're each getting up once or twice a night to go tuck her back in. People I've talked with have said it's a good year or two before she'll sleep through the night. That's seems like it's the path we're headed down.

When I look at the videos we took when we first met compared to the kiddo who's with us now, it doesn't even seem like the same child. The out of control kid who was tearing up books and hitting foster mom now eats what we eat for dinner and says please and thank you with ease. Instead of pulling away from me when I go to hold her hand, she climbs on top of me at story time and wants hugs and kisses.

I guess, when I write it all out like that, we really do have it pretty good. I still read posts on the internet adoption groups. Kids having "traumaverseries" on the anniversary of their adoption, or acute episodes of screaming attacks brought on by any adoption related issue. Grated, I have my opinion that some of these issues are parent induced, we have none of that. In fact, we've got a fantastically well adjusted, yet frustratingly typical two year old. After all she's been through this year, we're thankful for that. She's a bouncy, fun, sweet little person who just happens to be two.

So yes, the pictures to follow are selected from the best of times. But I have to say, tired days and all, we're still having a great time.

Avi's second airplane flight was WAY better than her first.
We took a trip to California for Thanksgiving. It was a mixed bag. She traveled so much better than the trip home from Seoul. But after a few days, she was done. By day three she was over it. We had wanted to take a trip with family early next year, but after seeing how this trip went, we're thinking we'll wait about 6 months before we try it again. 

We decorated the Christmas tree with Avi's new word. Avi and I went to the park and collected pine cones. She's an expert at identifying these little guys now and thrilled when she gets to point one out. She's also pretty excited to point them out on the tree. 

We also decorated the tree in Avi's room. She's pretty impressed with it. 

Avi's first haircut. She did pretty well.
1st day of vacation

Can you tell the difference on the last day?

Met Santa. Meh...

Avi's favorite little friend, "doggie".

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Learning Every Day

Avi at month 1, month 2 and month 3
What a difference time has made. I've been so busy with work and family that this little blog has not been updated. Avi is doing really well. She's had grumpy days and happy days. But overall she's progressed leaps and bounds from when she first arrived home. We haven't seen a single thing we can attribute to an adoption related issue. Everything is just typical toddler stuff. Sometimes it's tough being two.

This last week was a language explosion. She's repeating all kinds of words. Ann says I can't teach her Yeee Haaw! I thought she should have some knowledge of our Indiana roots. Apparently not. But she's picked up on so many things it's hard to list them all. Most of the time she seems to know what we're saying and does as we ask. (more or less). Other times she's still a bit lost. But overall she is a wonderfully happy little girl and she keeps us entertained.

Of all the words she learned, "NO!" is her favorite.   Our favorite is "GO BRONCOS!".  We're enjoying bath time more and sleep has no longer been a problem. She's in her own room and doing fine there. Bedtime has been so much easier as of late. Avi falls asleep within 10 to 15 minutes and only wakes occasionally. Compared to the first few months, it's a different world.

Hugs and kisses are plentiful now. In fact, "Love you" accompanied by a big hug is a wonderfully common experience now. She doesn't know a stranger. Everyone she meets gets a big "Hi". We're very lucky to have such a wonderful little person in our lives.

Here's a recap of things we've done since the last update. 

Avi was a bumblebee for Halloween. 

She learned how to swing.

Sophie is still her best bud.

We cheered on mom at the New York Marathon.

Pumpkin excavation was a blast!

We can walk Farley.

And Sophie

We totally fixed our first flat tire.

But it took a step stool to use the bike pump.

Received a wonderful piggy bank from Uncle Paul and Aunt Pam!

From our family photos at Chatfield lake.

Once again, the truth behind the internet myth we perpetuate.

She has an eternally happy spirit.

And still loves noodles.

Preparing for camping at Denver Botanic Gardens.

I use my cuteness to my advantage for sure.

Are you going to eat that?

Cooking Bronco's Chili. (staged by the way)
Ok, so maybe I enjoy hugs a bit more than she does sometimes.

Hanging out with her best friend.
Avi is a wonderful little girl who is growing every day. We're so happy to be a family together.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hi, We're all insane here

A two year old stole my brain. Has anyone seen it lately?

I'm watching you.
Day 60: My captor continues to torment me with daily screaming and incomprehensible babble. She moved in and quickly took control as imperial ruler. She is a kind and generous ruler when she feels. Other times, when the whim hits her, she demands food specially prepared for her. She then refuses it in lieu of eating what's on my plate, leaving me hungry. She seems to understand the concept of potty, but finds it much more convenient to have me handle those duties for her. If not for her inexplicable cuteness, I know her reign of terror would have ended long ago. I feel I may be going insane.

What a wonderful little girl we have. Time has gone so fast. Did a month just pass by? Where did it go? We were just taking that picture for month one in front of the piano and the next thing I know, it's October. Overall, I'd say things have gone really well. What have we learned this month? Well,  1) 2 year olds are insane. 2) Spend enough time around them and you get a little nutty too. I've found myself saying things like "Oooh, good job!", "Wow! Way to go, you did so good!", every day. That would be fine if it weren't to the staff at work. They've taken it well and seem to appreciate the compliments almost as as much as Avi does. 

I'm still reading other people's blogs. Nobody I know personally, just ones that I've happened across regarding adoptions from Korea. I do this for no other reason but to compare our progress to the "norm." It's incredible the problems I've read about that we've managed to be spared. Extreme separation anxiety, angry outbursts and uncontrollable temper abound on the internet. I don't know if it's only people who are having problems that post blogs, or if we're just incredibly lucky. Actually, we're lucky regardless, but perhaps the first point is true as well. I'm no expert on parenting by any stretch of the imagination. But I think our best key to success was something I heard about 2 years ago. If you treat a kid like damaged goods, they'll act like damaged goods. Treat them like a kid and they act like a kid. I think we've stuck to that as much as we can. Whether it's that philosophy or just good luck I can't say, but we're doing incredibly well compared to many of the stories I've read. 

Avi's true personality is coming out. She's still sweet and friendly, but has a bit of a bossy streak. I know that's pretty normal for a two year old. She must have gotten comfortable because that took a while to show up. She's getting in trouble at preschool for being a bit too rough with her classmates. We're working on not hitting or throwing things. I think as language comes along, she'll get better with that. And language is coming along. She is using a few more words now and seems to understand what we're saying. I know this because when we ask her to do something, she slyly smiles and moonwalks backwards out of the room as if saying, "No, I'm not doing whatever it is you're asking. Matter of fact, I'm going to see how much I can get away with not doing. So whatever it is you're saying, uuummm, no." That's good progress, no?  

Avi knows Gali, Sophie and Farley and likes to call them by name every time she sees them. She has no idea what our names are, however. So we've been working on mommy and daddy with her. 

Sleeping is getting better some nights. Other nights it's like an hourly alarm clock you can't shut off. So we've decided next weekend the big move happens. We're moving her to her room. We've started with story time over there. This weeks naps in her room. And next weekend, the big change. Sleeping over there. We're pretty sure that will be tough, but we'll make it through. She's handled all these other changes so well. We'll see how this one goes. 

I've decided to get myself back to the gym. With Avi's sleeping pattern, I've been out of sorts and run down with all the changes. Ann's been encouraging me to get back there and reestablish a routine. So this morning I finally went back. It wasn't a tough workout or even very long. But the simple act of getting back there really helped me out. I felt better after doing cardio for a while. I think that simple hour to myself was a real treat. It made me a better dad when I got home. Ann says all I missed was a poopy diaper. Even with our busy schedule, I'm going to make time to keep it up. 

Here's the rest of our month in review. 
Popsicles taste better when shared with Sophie.
Dog slobber makes it sweeter. 

Floss! Are you guys dentists or something?

I will try to eat this bug when you turn your head. 
Met grandma and grandpa for the first time. Grandparents are one of life's greatest gifts.
Peekaboo is our favorite game.

At the end of an exhausting day.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

One Month In

The internet myth we perpetuate
The reality

It’s hard to believe one month has gone by so quickly. In the same thought, it seems like years since we endured that flight home. I look at those pictures of the exhausted family and I can see how far we’ve come.

We’ve had our rough spots. But I still have to say that it’s been easier than we both thought. Nights are still the toughest time. Some nights we take a bath, put on our PJ’s and in 10 minutes we’re out. In fact, I missed the Broncos game Monday night because she fell asleep too quickly. Yep, it was all her fault I missed the game. Not the fact that my bed’s too comfy and I was tired. I planned on a good half hour to hour of crying while I waited for her to fall asleep, then I’d go back down and watch the game. She fell asleep almost immediately and so did I. Next thing I knew, I was reading about the great game the next morning. Ann and I are both a bit sleep deprived. Though she falls asleep much easier now, she doesn’t tend to stay asleep. She’ll wake up 2-3 times a night, cry then fall back to sleep in 5-10 minutes. It’s good for her, but for us it takes a while to get back to sleep again. We each took a night this weekend and slept downstairs. That full night of rest helped both of us.

Right now she’s sleeping in the daybed in our room. We want to transition her over to her room, but I don’t think she’s ready for that yet. She woke up the other night after we went downstairs. She lost her mind and her pants, neither of which is a good thing. We found our pantless crying daughter unhappily demanding our presence and it was a good hour before she nodded off again.  So we’ll get that transition started soon, but not just yet.

As you can tell from the movies, she loves to dance. Ann had to tell me to stop posting dance videos. I’ve got another, and it’s really cute. But perhaps she’s right and I need to branch out a little. She’s also thinned out a bit since she’s come home. We attribute that to no more formula and increased activity. The doctor says she’s at the 98th percentile with regards to height. Perhaps basketball or pro wrestling is in our future? Regina at our adoption agency says I can’t refer to her as a beast anymore.

Other than that she’s healthy as a horse. And she can eat like one too. I though you had to coax kids into eating their food. Not Avi. I’ve got to block her from eating my food. She tries everything easily. She will still not eat a vegetable but Ann thinks she has the trick with some veggie smoothie recipes we found.

Language is coming along. We now know how to say book, uh-oh, mamma and papa, please, no thank you, up, Gali, Sophie, meow, woof, bye-bye, and most importantly, Avi. She understands quite a bit more than that as well. Everything from let’s go, to pick that up, put it away, eating, bathing, car and stroller rides. I’d like her to learn “go the hell to sleep”, but we haven’t started that one yet. Check with me after month two.  

I enjoy the small victories immensely. Avi and I took a bike ride to the park yesterday. Originally that Chariot would send her into a screaming fit. Now she just happily sat back there humming and singing to herself. She still has a slight preference for Ann when we’re all together, but will allow me to hold her hand while walking and even ask for me to pick her up. That balance has made Ann’s job much easier, and mine much more enjoyable.
Another small victory. Farley, our chicken dog, has
come around and decided Avi is not out to kill him.
The cat is another story.

Last night though was the biggest victory of all. Bedtime was upon us and Ann was reading the Dr. Seuss alphabet book. That’s her favorite right now. Each night at the end we turn off the lights and each kiss her goodnight. Last night she decided it was time to start giving out hugs and kisses of her own. I’ve never received a hug or kiss from my daughter before. Never. And last night the flood gates opened. We actually didn’t want her to go to sleep. I know I missed a lot while she was in Korea. First steps, teeth and words will never be memories we have. But that beautiful little girl, smiling from ear to ear while doling out kisses and hugs will forever be one of my most cherished experiences.  And yes I’m a big softie because I’m tearing up now too. 

Now go the hell to sleep. 

                                                          (Oh, and here's another dancing video:)

Papa Gene and Avi mocking
the camera person.
Papa Gene and Avi reading together

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Keeping up with the Macri's

I haven't had much time to write since Avi's been home. She's napping right now so I've got a few minutes. In short, she's doing really well. Sleeping is still tough, but she is doing better. She's still a mama's girl, but she's tolerating me more and more. But to those who've been reading this blog and wondering how things are going, I give you the best blog entry ever. 10% talk, 90% pictures! so here we go.

This happy little girl has turned our lives upside down.
And we couldn't be happier about it. 

Our trip on the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

We have more moments like this than when we do with miss crabby pants.

Psy impression.

We found out we're good at eating bananas with chopsticks.
After learning about the Rocky movies,
 Avi does her best impression of Rocky's coach Mickey.

What do you think?
Avi found out water is a blast

Mom found out water + Avi is a blast too!

We are not thrilled about the carseat but are slowly learning
this part of life is non-negotiable.

Avi is fearless around animals and loves the lorekeet exhibit at the zoo.

Avi and her friend Nellie playing at the pool. 

Avi and Sophie are buds. Avi and the cat, not so much.
This is how we find them more often than not. 

Through channeling her powers of sheer zen concentration,
Avi has learned to tolerate our foolish American ways.

Just found her hanging out in this thing.
Better than any toy we've bought. 

Avi is not sure about water yet. Swimming is a ways off.

And last but not least. Avi's opinion is this FRIGGIN ROCKS!