How are we? Hmmmm... In some ways it is an easy question to answer, and in other ways it is a tricky question to answer. Overall, we are really, really good. We are amazed everyday at how well Alina is doing - linguistically, emotionally, physically. She is such a joy, which is a phrase I hear myself repeating over and over again. But it is true. She really is a joy. I thoroughly enjoy being with her, and it is as great a blessing to me to watch her relationships with Mark and the boys. This new journey as a family of five is a marathon, not a sprint but I think we've started strong out of the gate. Each day there is another small moment of progress relationally and emotionally. Little things that other families take for granted can be giant milestones for us. The tricky part of answering the "how are we" question comes when people who aren't very familiar with older child adoption/international adoption ask. Is it going well? Oh, my yes. Do we have difficult moments? Yes, sometimes we do. Nothing unexpected and so far everything is very appropriate for the transition we are all going through. But I feel this "pressure" to deliver the rainbows and unicorns spiel to the people who want the "happily ever after" now. I don't doubt the existence of the older child adoption happily ever after...I am just realistic enough to know it is probably further down the road. It is hard to know which answer people want to hear, and it is hard to know who, as Jack Nickelson once famously said, can't handle the truth. So the easy and honest answer is, we are really, really good.
We have spent the last two weekends traveling! I am not a huge fan of that much time away from home, so I could only imagine how difficult it would be for Alina, but she handled everything amazingly well! First, we went to a family wedding in Baltimore. It was a blast! We had such a wonderful time, and Alina got to meet her "Pa Ken" (Mark's dad) and most of the folks on his side of the family. It brings her such joy to have "her" extended family. We spent an evening at Camden Yards and a little time sightseeing one morning, and Baltimore was great! Definitely a place for a long family weekend someday in the future. This past weekend was the now annual family reunion with my mother's side of the family. After 24 hours of driving the previous weekend, we were on the fence about going at all, but at the last minute we packed the car up again and headed up to Pennsylvania. It was wonderful. Alina got to meet her aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as meeting my aunts, uncles, and cousins, who I still share a very close bond with. It was such a blessed weekend, although slightly bittersweet because it was the first year without Gram there. While everyone had a terrific time, we all noticed the void. My mom was kind enough to ride out with me to the cemetery to see Gram's grave (which I was not necessarily ready to do, but when you live 12 hours away you have to go when you can and not when you're ready...), and Alina wanted to ride along. She is named after my Grandma Ruth, and it was a surreal moment for me to see my new daughter standing next to my absolutely adored Gram's grave. I keep hearing the verse from the Bible "You give and take away" whispered in my heart in those moments. Alina has been very curious about Grandma Ruth since she is named after her, and it was fun to answer her questions. ("Was she pretty?" "Did she like children?")
Today was the last day of school for the boys so we are officially on summer vacation! We are starting summer break with a bit of a whimper - both boys are sick and missed school today, but I am hoping for a more calm, slightly routined summer! We will continue to work on English and "school" with all three children, but we are also planning lots of FUN. Swimming, hiking, trips to the library, the dollar movies, time with friends. It will be great for all of us.
Here are a few pictures from our last few weeks!
|Alina Ruta and Abigail Ruth|
|Horseback riding at Uncle Jim's|
|I love this picture!|
|Our family at the wedding|
|Outside Camden Yards|
|Popcorn and baseball!|