The kids are adjusting more and more every day. School is going well - Juan is in 1st grade, and Santiago started kindergarten in the fall. Juan is still as outgoing as ever, and remains a social butterfly at school. He is learning to read, and LOVES reading. We were prepared for him to struggle with reading, as he is still learning English, but he likes reading more than math...go figure. Lately, he has started to read my "to do" lists for each day and try to decipher exactly what I'll be up to while he is away at school. Clever kid! Juan's teacher told us that he is one of the most enthusiastic students she has ever had, but we still have to work on funneling his enthusiasm in constructive ways, or he can easily make mischief.
Santiago is getting the hang of school, but it took him a while to warm up to it. He can be such an introvert, and the early days of the school year totally bamboozled him. He would just stand frozen in the hallway with his eyes and mouth wide open, and I would have to coach him through every move, along the lines of "Please take off your backpack. Please take off your jacket. Please hang your jacket on the hook." etc. etc. walking him through the routine step-by-step. He is like a different kid now though, and runs through the hallways just like all of the rest of them. He still needs his down-time on non-school days though, and I try to make sure that he can have quiet play time at home.
Christian is my little pal during the week while his brothers are away. He has mastered the potty, although he is often too "busy" to take care of his business, pretty typical for a toddler with 2 older brothers, I think. He is talking more and more every day. He has stopped saying "A-Doo-Wah-Doo-Wah-Dee" all of the time (we never really did figure out what that meant!), and now his favorites are "Booper Bun" (Super One), malo, big-boy-bed and all kinds of chatter. He mostly follows me around the house and plays beside me while I do my daily tasks. He is still as stubborn as can be, and he is becoming increasingly frustrated when we don't understand his speech. For example, he uses the phrase "Dee-Deh", which can mean: circle, cookie, chiclet (gum), or sticky. He calls himself "Dee-Den" and calls Santiago "Dah-Dah-Doo". Most of the time I can understand him, but sometimes have to guess through the laundry list of words to figure out exactly what he's trying to tell me.
We had all of the boys baptized in October. I was worried that Christian would say "under the wah-wee" when Father poured the water over his head, but he just grinned and was quiet.
We hosted some of Jason's family at our house for Thanksgiving. The children in Juan's first grade class wrote a book describing "How to Cook a Turkey" and we all had a good laugh over Juan's description of how I make the turkey: "First, my mom goes in the woods and hunts the turkey. Then she puts it in the freezer. Then she rubs nuts and green stuff on it and cooks it for 5 minutes at "really hot"..." I was the only mom who was supposedly tough enough to go and hunt my own turkey.
|Santiago's pilgrim hat from kindergarten|
|The reading of "How to Cook a Turkey"|
|A walk with Tia Lea and the doggies|
|Time to pick out a Christmas tree|
|This is the one!|
|Oh my goodness, it's Santa's elves|
Christmas itself was good, although the days leading up to it were very challenging. The younger 2 kids handled the build-up and anticipation without too much difficulty, but Juan just sort of imploded in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was actually kind of frightening for Jason and I, as it was more extreme than we anticipated. Change, even good change, is very hard for Juan to cope with, and December was a month with a lot of irregularity. The student-teacher in his class left, the days at school were full of programs, parties, and Christmas projects, and even things like an Advent Calendar ended up becoming a battleground. We started seeing behaviors in Juan that we hadn't seen since our early days together in Colombia - reckless, defiant, almost dangerous behaviors - at home and at school. Every day I woke up worrying and wondering what would lie ahead and how we would navigate through it. Eventually, we eliminated every extracurricular and Christmas activity for Juan, and began pretending that Santa Claus/presents and all the hype that go along with the season didn't even exist, focusing more on the nativity story and trying to keep things very routine at home. I had to hide all of the cookies that I wanted to share with the kids and was darn near ready to take out the Christmas tree. We really didn't know what to do or how to get a handle on things, so we kept Juan very very busy, which seemed to help us turn things around. He became my helper inside the house, and Jason's helper outside (you should see the pile of wood that those two stacked together!). We kept him so busy that he wouldn't have time to worry about things, brood, or get into too much trouble.
When Christmas finally arrived, we had down-played it by so much, the kids didn't really know what to expect. My mom and dad came for a visit, which we kept a surprise until the moment they pulled into the driveway. We went to church on Christmas Eve, and Father asked the kids to bring presents to baby Jesus on the altar. The boys did great, and they were adorable!! We had gotten Juan back to a decent base-line, and the rest of the holiday went pretty smoothly. The kids loved spending time with their Abuela and Abuelo, and we had a very nice first Christmas together. At the very least, we all survived it, and learned some valuable lessons for next year!
|Surprise!!!! It's Abuelo and Abuela!!!|
|Santiago's remote control dinosaur|
|Christian's very own cart for shopping at "Booper Bun"|
|Ice fishing with the kids|
The winter break gave us the chance to do some ice fishing and spend time with friends and family. While we had a lot of fun together as a family, I won't say that I am sad to be done with the holidays for this year and get back to a daily routine...a very predictable, very safe, daily routine.