Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Life doesn’t get any sweeter!

One year ago this week our paperwork landed in Colombia, time has flown by so here are a few things I want to remember and things to remember to not take for granted:

Jess and Joaquin can light up an entire room with a smile. Their energy for life is contagious. They are fighters, they are survivors, they are strong on the outside but fragile on the inside.

The process of adoption is a pure miracle that happens right in front of you.

One thing I never want to forget, Jessica and Joaquin had a certain smell about them when we first met them, but the smell was gone within the fist week.

You know you are one’s mother when you can lick your child’s suckers or share an ice cream and think nothing of it.

I never want to forget how excited and sweet Emi and Nate were to meet their brother and sister. Nate was shy and soaked it all in while Emi jumped right into wanting to be a big sister. Now the girls pick out each others clothes, help each other with their hair, and dance around the room to music while getting ready in the mornings. Nate and Joaquin love to chase each other thru the house hiding around corners to bomb each other with their clean rolled up socks then laugh from the bottom of their bellies when they nail each other.

The laughter that comes thru the doors and walls from the kids bedrooms is like medicine to ones soul.

The great big hug I get every morning when Joaquin wakes up melts my heart.

Jessica tries to be sneaky but has a look in her eye that gives her away every time.

Jessica and Joaquin do NOT like sleeping in a room alone, as a matter of fact it’s just down right scary to them.

Jessica is so smart, she is a true survivor and I admire that in her. She has amazing coping skills in every area. Our goal is to teach her how to use those skills for the good of others and to herself. She really is an amazing, child. Beautiful inside and out!

To watch Joaquin play and imagine always makes me smile, and sometimes tear up. I think of the time before we had him and how he had to take care of himself. He is so sensitive and fragile at times, who was there to rock him, comfort him…no one but himself and his big sister. Survivors I tell you! I wish I could put into words how incredible I think they are considering their background and what they have come through.

They speak of Colombia and La Maria almost daily. They talk about their favorite caretakers, Maribel and Patricia. They sing children’s songs in Spanish all the time, while they are playing, riding in the car, or just walking down the halls in the house.

Emi and Nate would not change a thing about our family and have fallen in love with the family as a family of 6. Nate talks about someday adopting on his own and Jess wishes for a little sister to be adopted. Nate says if we adopt again he wants it to be from Ethiopia.

Jess loves to watch TV but when instructed to go play, she can do so with joy and plays well alone or with others. She loves to play with polly pockets, her American girl doll, loves to fix hair and do anything girly, but is shy in front of others. She particularly loves the men of the family, uncles, grandpas and her daddy, but still says Tia Jeanie is her favorite.

Joaquin loves his Mimi and riding the motorcycle with papa. He likes to tease Emi, he adores Nate, he likes to sit on daddy’s lap to watch TV, but is really a mama’s boy. He is funny and witty and can make anyone laugh. He has a bit of trouble at times playing with bigger kids, he tends to bite or kick as a form of playing. Again, survival skills from the orphanage, but boy has that been a tough one to break.

Emi has become such a young lady through this process, but still loves being on the floor playing with her little sister. They tell secrets and have a language all their own, which I love. I have a great relationship with my sister and I desire the same for Emi and Jess.

Nate just rolls with the flow. He is a loving kid with a deep heart and a fun loving attitude, but is very sensitive and wants to please. He is a joy to be around and would be lost without the excitement of his siblings.

I tear up thinking about not having pictures of Jess and Joaquin as babies, and not being with them from the beginning, but am so thankful and more complete having them with us. Even the family, grandparents, aunts and uncles tear up thinking about the time before they were with us and realizing that even before they met Jess and Joaquin they were fully in love and attached.

And there is so much more…

So what’s going on at the Hollis’?

Everyone is doing well in school. Emi is loving the Jr High, the boys keep telling her friends that she is pretty and they like her. She just laughs at the boys...for now.

Nate, well, he is just Nate. Doing well, but everything comes so easy to him that he isn't finding school a challenge and then gets sloppy. He is just glad to have outside recess to play football.

Jessica and Joaquin are doing really well. Joaquin is speaking almost all English, I am amazed. He had to do a project about himself and one of the questions was “Who is your hero and why?” Joaquin said his brother Nate was his hero. Which made me cry. (He thinks Nate is famous when he puts on his sports uniforms) Joaquin said “Nate is big and strong and has lots of friends. And he teaches me how to do flips on the trampoline.”

Jessica is doing better with English and is loving school. She is like a commodity there. All the kids want to play with her, even the older kids. She just got an invitation to a 10 yr olds birthday party. You worry they may be made fun of, but it's been just the opposite. I ran into her tutor/ESL Teacher today who told me how awesome Jess is doing. Then her regular teacher emailed me with this message, “Also, I am speaking with Jessica's tutor almost everyday and we are both amazed at the progress she is making. She is a really hard worker and picks up on things quickly. She has a great strategy for adding and subtracting by using her crayons! She is very helpful and even helped me pass graded papers back to mailboxes today. I know I shouldn't be surprised. After all she is a Hollis!“ It was very nice to hear from Mrs. George, she is so sweet! Jessica has a long way to go, but is doing fine trying to catch up to the others.

Emi cheered at her fist JR High Game and looked so grown up. She has been mistaken as a freshman by the bus driver and some of her peers...not sure I like that.

Nate had his first football game on Saturday. They played the team they always face in the superbowl each year and they beat the team 30 to nothing. The first defensive play, Nate made the tackle and caused a fumble. He is also the punter this year. On one punt, he punted the ball, broke through the line and also made the tackle. He was wound up and had a great game. He constantly talks about playing college ball...I hope his dream comes true.

I am back to work and am liking getting everyone into routine. I have every afternoon with Joaquin, just the two of us and we are loving it.

The kids all come home little jabber boxes, so I have to give them each 5 minutes to tell me about their days so they don’t talk over each other. I’m just glad they want to share.

So all in all things are really good. We are blessed beyond what we could have imagined.