April & May

Hello, friends!  I know we have basically dropped off the map these past couple months, but that’s mainly because life has been ca-ray-zy.  I have been telling myself that one day when things calm down, I will sit down and blog posts for different highlights of April and May.  However, I’ve determined that the likelihood of that happening is pretty much 0%, so instead, here is just one post about fun things from Spring!

All of Elliott’s therapies have begun!  After spending more than month in various evaluations, we are finally on a regular schedule with therapy.  Therapies fall into two categories for us – at home and at the hospital.  One day a week we go to the hospital for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy back-to-back in one super therapy afternoon.  Our at-home therapies come to our house to work with Elliott (LOVE LOVE LOVE), and include physical therapy, speech therapy, and a type of education/play therapy.  Currently, the physical therapist visits once a week, and the other home therapists visit every other week.  All of this shakes out to at least two therapy days a week, which definitely keeps us busy!  The progress Elliott is making through the help of this amazing team is unbelievable, so we are incredibly thankful for all the many ways they are investing in our family!

Elliott's physical therapy walker

Elliott’s physical therapy walker

Elliott's left foot is a little wonky, so his therapists are helping correct that

Elliott’s left foot is a little wonky, so his therapists are helping correct that

We celebrated Easter!  Easter is considered to be the most widely celebrated holiday in Poland, filled with many rich traditions representing the country’s heritage and Catholic roots.  And although Easter is, of course, very important to us as well, we realized we didn’t have many traditions specific to this special time.  In order to celebrate Easter, we decided to incorporate Polish foods and traditions.  We invited Alex’s parents over to join us for a spread of traditional Polish Easter foods and a meal filled with nods to Elliott’s heritage and our time spent there.  Making the meal definitely stretched me outside my cooking comfort zone, and I was amazed at how much I loved being surrounded by delicious smells that I remember once disliking.  If I closed my eyes, I could imagine I was in Baba’s kitchen.

So many traditional Polish Easter foods!

So many traditional Polish Easter foods!

Pussy willows are used to decorate during Easter because palm branches are hard to come by in Poland

Pussy willows are used to decorate during Easter because palm branches are hard to come by in Poland

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We celebrated Elliott’s Name Day!

Name Days are a beloved Polish tradition that is comparable to our celebration of birthdays.  Poland is predominantly a Catholic country, and had a tradition of naming children almost exclusively after saints.  Each saint has a designated day on which he/she is recognized, and everyone who shares the name of that saint celebrates his/her Name Day on that day!  Name Days are celebrated very similarly to how we celebrate birthdays, with friends, family, gifts, food, and desserts.  The biggest difference between American birthday celebrations and Polish Name Day celebrations is that Name Days are not connected in any way to age.  As in, no one would refer to this as Elliott’s “second” Name Day as they would his “second” birthday.  Many say this is why the older generations particularly prefer Name Day celebrations to birthday celebrations.  It is becoming more common for younger people in Poland to celebrate both their birthday and their Name Day, though many still celebrate their Name Day exclusively.

We decided that because Elliott’s Name Day and birthday are close together (April 24th and May 28th, respectively), our Name Day celebration would be a more personal celebration with just our immediate family, whereas the birthday celebration would extend to other friends and family.  But for his first Name Day, we decided to have a party with family and friends to give them a little taste of Polish culture.  True to Polish custom, we spent the days leading up to the celebration making tons of food – mainly pierogis straight from Baba’s recipe (GUYS.  I can’t even.).  We devoured them, watched Elliott absolutely dominate some cake, then opened presents.  It was our first time to celebrate Elliott on a special day, which was made even more special by having family and friends present!

We got this puzzle for Elliott to recognize both his Polish and American names

We got this puzzle for Elliott to recognize both his Polish and American names

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We moved!

When we got home from Poland, the lease was almost up on the home we had lived in for three years.  And even though we hadn’t been home long yet, we decided we wanted to look for a new place.  Despite having the new addition of Elliott, we wanted somewhere smaller.  Living in Europe for a couple months was an eye-opening experience in more ways than I can count, but one thing we particularly enjoyed was their use of smaller spaces.  The sizes of houses/apartments was significantly smaller than what would be considered normal for typical American family, but they do it well a more minimalistic lifestyle that seemed to be the norm.  Everything is a little smaller, a little slower, a little cozy.  It felt cramped at first, but by the end of our time in Poland, we realized that aspect of the lifestyle really appealed to us.  Our house back in Iowa, even with a new family member, felt like it was full of wasted space.  We immediately set to downsizing, purging, and simplifying.  Soon, we found a house that perfectly merged the coziness of a Polish home with the style of the American ones we were used to, and we LOVE it.  It was strangely satisfying to get rid of most of what we had in storage and keep only what we really loved or really needed.  The house is nearly half the size of our old one, and we couldn’t love it more.

We know we won’t be here long term – it is adorable little rental we will stay in while save and decide what is next for us.  When we moved in, I told Alex that it reminded me of the cabin in the woods our friends from church let us go several times during our adoption process for some time to retreat and reflect.  In my mind, I’ve been calling our current home ‘The Retreat House”, because that is what it is – a cozy, homey, lovely little place where we are learning to be a family before we transition to the next chapter.

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This furniture/decor belonged to the previous tenants, but here is a peek inside!

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We went to Ohio … twice!

I have two younger sisters, and this year both of them graduated!  My middle sister graduated from THE Ohio State University and is now a first grade teacher, and my youngest sister (the one who came to Poland with us) graduated from high school and is about to be a freshman at Taylor University.  I could not be more proud of either of them, and it was a joy and an adventure of Elliott and I to travel to Ohio for each of their graduation ceremonies and celebrations.  Elliott handled the 10-hour (each way) drives surprisingly well, except for the final leg of the second trip home, where he spent ten hours loudly expressing how he really felt.  He got to meet the rest of my family, as well as many old and dear friends.

The trips were also a bit of a test to see how he would handle the kind of new experiences and new environments that used to send him over the edge from over-stimulation and stress.  Overall, things went better than expected in this department.  A few old behaviors rom our early days with him popped up, and we needed several recovery days after each trip for him to fully become himself again.  But overall, we were pleased!

Roadside bottle break

Roadside bottle break

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Elliott meeting my some of my aunts and one of my little cousins

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Meeting my childhood best friend of 20+ years!

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Aunt Kara’s OSU graduation

Aunt Laura's high school graduation

Aunt Laura’s high school graduation

Overall, it was an incredibly busy/crazy/stressful/fun couple of months.  As I sit on my front porch and write this, I’m still feeling like I never want to leave home again, and am looking forward to a summer full of our first warm weather (FINALLY) adventures as a family!

 

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