Sunday, January 19, 2014

Names, Easy Street and Levi T.

Happy 'holidays' to you! Reshma calls any non-school day a 'holiday' and it's been fun looking at every day out of routine in that light. Considering she has only done two formal days of homeschool so far it's probably seemed like life will just be one long string of 'holidays!' 

There have been a few things we've wanted to share that haven't yet made it into other posts so we thought we'd take a little time during 'holiday' to share. 

1. Her name
You may have found yourself in our writings wondering how in the world you should pronounce R-E-S-H-M-A. That was us, too, until about six months ago when we finally decided on a pronunciation - mostly because we were referring to her name a lot since we had finally learned it. REEsh-mah is what we had been calling her but when we arrived in India and heard every Indian pronouncing it with more of a long 'a' sound instead of a long 'e' we started rethinking our pronunciation. Wanting to keep her birth name yet make it as easy for Americans to pronounce as possible, we were in a conundrum that was finally solved when Reshma's communication improved enough to give us her opinion. While she's still not so sure about the three names we've tacked onto her first, we are confident in time she will learn to appreciate each. We wanted her to forever carry and remember her story. And so, finally, we can share that she is officially-- 
Reshma /raysh-mah/- silky
Amariah /am-ah-rye-ah/- promised by God
Elaine /eh-lane/- sun ray, shining light (family middle name on the Harrell side)
Tegen /tee-gen/- the last surname she will have to carry until Mr. Husband 

2. The Latest
The past week held many more firsts for Reshma - she is taking everything in stride like she's been going to the grocery store, tromping through dense forests and eating in our school's cafeteria all her life. Her favorites so far (which all seem very therapeutic) are to sit quietly and color with Jason, play simple card games like 'Uno' or 'Go Fish' and late night hide-n-seek with the family. 

We had one particularly hard day this week. Reshma withdrew emotionally quite a bit like what was normal during our first week in India together. In response we simplified/rescheduled and spent a quiet morning at home before visiting the Indian grocery store in the afternoon for a little heart TLC. Her eyes lit up at all the products she recognized and on more than one occasion she kissed her hand to some of the favorite things she found on the shelves. It's so easy to forget how foreign everything is for her - including foods that seem so normal and tasty to us. 

We were able to find one of Reshma's Indian favorites, Maggi (essentially Indian Ramen noodles), that she'd been asking for since coming home. It was great to find that and so many more 'comfort foods' for her to stock up on - including a few other little things like the shampoo she always used and the puffed rice she ate often for breakfast. It was hard to know where to draw the line and say no because she would have brought home the whole store! Needless to say, we'll be trying lots of Indian dishes based on the bags we toted out of that grocery store! Radha Grocery was very thankful for Reshma Tegen this week!

3. Homeschooling.
Homeschooling is going well thanks to the amazing support of homeschooling friends in our area. Just last week as we were looking up expensive curriculum options, two homeschooling moms blessed us with FIVE huge bins full of books! We're still wading into the waters of this intimidating ocean but it is so comforting to find other families out there with us. Even though this is hard work, it's the best decision for our family at this point. One of our greatest concerns and biggest prayers in keeping her home, though, has been for good friendships with girls her age. In India she had rich, close friendships with about five different little girls and her having to say goodbye to them added a heavy layer to the difficulty of her leaving. But already in this past week and in the play dates arranged for the coming week we are amazed by the answers to these prayers.

4. Daddy's Girl
Watching the change in Jason has been awe inspiring. That God would allow a husband to humble himself and listen to a wife talk about dreams in the night then act on those leadings and fully embrace an almost pre-teen girl is amazing. Every time I see him wrestling or coloring or making over a little over dramatized boo-boo, I'm amazed and thankful. Already, he'd do anything for her...even let her give him a bindi! (Though he's drawn the line with shaving his beard and growing his hair which she's asked him to do multiple times.:) Good things are happening in both their hearts as she's being loved extravagantly by this man! 

5. Levi T.
We also wanted to take a minute to share about Levi. While Reshma's gotten most of the blog spotlight, Levi has been getting lots of attention on the home front. This transition has been no easy street for him. Getting an older sister, traveling halfway around the world, eating spicy food, and on and on... The boy has had lots of adjustments to make and a lot of the attention he's gotten hasn't been for the positive. But just yesterday we saw our silly, fun Levi emerging again. Let me share a little of his antics-- Yesterday he got up with me before everyone else and we spent a little time together in his room. For Christmas he got two fake fish from the grandparents as a way of preparing for possible real fish in the future (the only pet we're allowed to have in our apartment complex). Levi has LOVED those little fish - which are magnetized and appear to 'swim' around their little bowl even though they are plastic. Almost daily I see him scooping them out of the bowl toting them somewhere or cleaning out their tank. When the fish were missing yesterday I asked where they were and Levi proudly led me to his top bunk to find them 'safe and cozy with Sir Topham Hatt (from Thomas the Tank Engine)' just as Levi had left them the night before. 

"But fish can't live outside of water," I told him.

"I won't take real fish out," he said. "We'll just buy them a waterproof blanket so they can stay warm and cozy in their bowl!"

"But Levi, you can't put your hands in their water will make them sick. And by the way, the water in their bowl so dirty - have you been putting your hands in it?"

Levi adamantly began declaring he hadn't been playing in the water as Reshma came into his room and shed some light on the subject... "No fingers, but he fed them crackers yesterday." LOL

This boy makes up for the hard parenting moments with his sweet, innocent disposition! Sometimes it's all we can do not to laugh out loud. Like when he was getting disciplined for not telling the truth about eating something and lost the Indian cookie/cracker in his hand as a consequence. The only thing he had to say for his actions was, "Oh man, I should'a ate it faster..."

Oh, this boy!

We're thankful for the joy that gets mixed in with the sorrow! Parenting is a great adventure and one we wouldn't trade for anything in the world which that leads us to our final thought for the morning...

6. Good Reads
Much like becoming a new parent and scouring through What to Expect the First Year, it's been nice to have a similar book for this new parenting adventure. One that I've found to be exceptionally insightful and helpful to us is Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen. We hope this resource reference might be helpful to other adoptive families as well. We'd be interested to hear about other books Indifamilies have found helpful too!


April :: UnraveledbyGrace said...

Our physician at the local international Adoption Clinic gave us this book as a gift. I'm glad to know you like it as it makes me more excited to start reading it. It's a thick book.

I really love "The Connected Child" but you are probably already familiar with that one. I've also heard really good things about "The Whole Brain Child" by Dan Siegal.

Peter and Nancy said...

I've been catching up on your posts -- I read a few while we were in India, but wasn't able to comment for some reason.

I love your thoughtful decisions such as scheduling quiet time, and the trip to the Indian grocery -- very wise and loving things to do for her!

We are glad you didn't have to deliver our photo album -- the orphanage ended up being an hour and a half outside the city! The address they used for correspondence was an office location, so it wouldn't have arrived for some time. We SO appreciate your kindness in offering to deliver it!

We will be praying for your lovely, lovely daughter -- she is a gem, and is so brave and amazing.
God bless your family of four!