I fell to sleep last night at 5pm or so...I crashed. I woke at one point at like 8:00 but couldn't stay awake and went to sleep on the couch.
The moment I opened my eyes at midnight and realized where I was...was just perfect. It was this bolt up...looking around...seeing the fireplace on...the glow of lights in the kitchen and the view out our living room windows...ahhh. Home.
I felt WIDE awake. Like...morning wide awake.
And I was.
That was midnight and I did not go to sleep until about 3pm today!
It was the most amazing night to stay awake all night. The gratitude felt almost overwhelming. To go from dreaming of this moment for a year when the initial mayhem would be behind us and we would be here...home....to actually being here. I felt like I could explode. Every sparkle in the sky had me smiling in wonder. And then I watched the light fill the sky. It was beautiful. I'm not a morning person so it's rare that I'll see that. Then the sun peak through. I even went out on our unfinished deck and took it in.
Not a peep in the house. In fact, at about 3am I heard ZhenAi open her door. I walked down the hallway and as to not scare her, I said "it's Mama coming". She was going to the bathroom and I'm glad I was awake because I led her back to bed and tucked her in. She had a loud fan in her bedroom and she slept until 9 am!!
Dean slept all night and Nazara and Izrael woke at 9:30! Crazy awesome. Even if Mama was awake all night.
I made a hot breakfast for the kids and it was just so fun being there as each sleepy head rolled into the living room this morning.
After breakfast at some point I decided it was time to tackle the mops of boys' hair I came home to. :) I knew before we left that I should have done it then but there really was no time. None. So Zion, Azlan, Chazano, Zihao and Taizi all got their hair cut. By a mama with extreme jet lag. Yes.
ZhenAi had a complete melt down this morning but came out of it a lot faster than she has been. She seems really drawn to Tirzah which is really special because Tirzah has a huge heart and will be a great 'teacher'.
Today I was reminded of something we saw at Sea World on our Make A Wish trip a few years ago. We walked up to a pool of dolphins. As one was jumping through the air we saw 3 babies following close behind doing everything Mama was doing. The instructor told us that they spend so much time with the adults and I can still see her expression as she said "it's great because Mama then turns and teaches everything to her babies so we don't have to.".
Well...in a bit of a different way, that's what we are seeing happen here.
There are 3 things I've honestly worked my butt of with. My marriage, parenting and our business.
Parenting... being a long, sometimes grueling process of day-in, day-out monotony that has incredible reward. Consistency being it's biggest secret by far. Today I saw ZhenAi watch all the other children and imitate them. I felt like the instructor at Sea World. Ahhhh. I worked so so so hard teaching and training and raising our children. And to see ZhenAi come in and start to imitate them...I couldn't help but smile and think of those little dolphins.
So we coached the other kids to make sure they say "thank you" loud and clear and "excuse me" if they happen to burp (since she does...frequently ;) ). Also to put their hands over their eyes when we pray so she can see what we are doing. I was showing her how to close her eyes when we pray and she was just staring at me. So I asked the kids to cover their eyes and she looked up at them, looked around and quickly put her hands over her eyes! It was the kind of moment that made my heart go all tingly and fuzzy. Seriously.
After lunch they each carried ONE cup (keeping things really simple so she can follow) and she watched and watched, then went back to the table and got one cup and brought it to Zunduka. They all clapped and cheered for her.
We taught her how to color today. She clearly has never held a crayon. Ever. She would just hit it on the page. Then small scratches of color. I showed her the motion of back and forth, back and forth and wouldn't you know she totally got it. It's slow and could be considered painful to watch...but she's doing it.
Don't misinterpret what I'm saying. I'm a firm believer that Dean and I are the parents and our children are....just that...children. We don't want them resenting growing up in a large family and think they were 'mini mom' and 'mini dad'. They are not. They are children. They do have chores, they get paid to do jobs like help with the little children etc. But there's something special about what we are seeing...a 12 year old girl just soaking in all these amazing new siblings she's surrounded by...and naturally just following their footsteps.
Tonight after dinner I showed her to the bathroom and she didn't fight me this time. I actually put the shampoo in her hand and she definitely didn't know what to do with it but as I showed her she little by little would pat it on her head. She's a long way from washing her hair independently but it's a small start in the right direction. After her bath I brought her to her room. She's currently sleeping in a queen bed in Nazara and Izrael's room upstairs (they are in our room). We thought we should keep her close right now but I suspect before long she will be wanting to be closer to Tirzah she just really likes being near her. I brought her to her room and started brushing her hair and I couldn't believe it when she pulled back the blankets to her bed! This was all going to happen without a struggle tonight!
She laid in bed and I tucked her in. I've been praying with her at bedtime and of course she just stares at me like I've lost my mind each night. But tonight I asked to hold her hand. She put her hand in mine and I started to pray very very very slowly.
And this voice spoke up "Gowwwwooooooooeyyy"
She was repeating after me! I kept my eyes closed. "Thank you...."
She tried real hard. Some words you can make out but most are a real struggle.
"For Mama....for Baba...Tirzah..." and as she worked so hard to say each word I didn't have the heart to say more. "for Jesus....Amen".
I opened my eyes to see her smiling. Shoulders hunches.
I kissed her on the forehead...told her I love her and sat up straight. Then I put out my arms motioning for a hug. She usually just stares and gets really stiff. She didn't...I was shocked to see her try to pull herself up and then put her arms out for a very stiff, efforted...hug. Like she didn't know how to do it...but she sure wanted to.
And that is how my evening ended with Miss ZhenAi. I would say an amazing first day home.
It's now 12:15...I've had a few hour nap today after not sleeping since midnight last night and I feel wide awake. Kids are ready for church in the morning and hopefully I won't look like I have extreme jet lag when we show up.
I'm ready for a cup of midnight coffee...I think that would be the perfect ending to today.