Exactly one week ago, Kevin, Caleb, and I were on a United flight from Hong Kong to Chicago. One week! It seems like minutes ago and years ago all at the same time. Around this time a week ago, we were probably being served a dinner of roast beef, steamed broccoli and carrots, and a salad. (I cheered at the sight of iceberg lettuce and a sliver of cucumber.) We were probably doing our best to get Caleb to sleep. It was hard for him, having likely never slept anywhere but a crib his entire life. Mom and Dad’s arms (or an empty airplane seat) didn’t equate to the security of his crib where he could root into the corner with his head pressed up against the rails and peacefully suck his thumb until he fell asleep. We were probably nodding off here and there, praying that more time had passed of the long flight while we snoozed. We were definitely counting the minutes until 9:09 pm when our second flight was due to land at our nearby airport. When our plane departing Chicago sat on the runway for 45 minutes before takeoff, that was the first time in our entire two week trip that I thought I would lose it. I prayed (begged!), “Please, God, just let us leave.”
As we approached the airport at the end of our second flight, Kevin said, “We’re circling.” Oh my gosh. SERIOUSLY??? Get me to my babies, for the love! After 28 hours of travel, we had no patience or common courtesy left. As soon as the plane rolled to a stop, we jumped up and claimed our place ahead of others so that we could deplane. We made a quick stop to change Caleb into his little brother t shirt and rounded the corner to see our family and friends who were waiting for us. If you missed the pics of our homecoming, you can find them here. Nicole did a phenomenal job of capturing our first moments together as a family of six. I am so thankful that I have these pictures to share with Caleb when he’s older.
When we got home that night with the kids, MeMe, Papaw, and Granny, we stayed up until past midnight. No way was anyone going to bed after all the excitement! After everyone settled, Kevin and I fired up the dvr at 1:00 am. Remember, it was still afternoon in China to us! It felt so good to be HOME!
The big question everyone has asked over the past week is, “How are the kids?”
Braden is a stellar big brother. When I asked each kid individually if having Caleb here was better, worse, or about the same as they each expected, Braden said, “BETTER!” I think initially he would have preferred a brother a little older than Caleb, but he has quickly learned that Caleb isn’t a boring newborn. Braden tells Caleb corny jokes, and Caleb laughs as if he truly gets the punch line. Braden loves to “babysit” for me so that I can cook dinner or help the girls. If he’s not on Caleb duty, he helps me cook or clean up the kitchen. He has been such a big help! Braden definitely needs his “baby fix” multiple times per day.
Annalise is the second mommy around here. She was super excited about getting Caleb, but her answer was also, “BETTER!” when I asked about her expectations. I think Annalise would solely take on the responsibility of Caleb if I would let her (except for diapers, drool, and anything remotely gross). She loves to help feed him and pick out his clothes. As soon as we can get this baby to sit still, I know she’ll love reading to him! When she hears him wake up, she is the first to the crib to greet him and ask him how he slept.
Waverly is having a tougher time adjusting than we thought she would. Maybe it’s because she had only been away from us for one night prior to our trip. Maybe it’s because she’s going through what we call “grandparent detox.” (Our kids usually experience this when we return home from Mississippi. Grandparents are fun and let them eat candy and get away with things that the Enforcers do not allow. When we return home, we usually have a week or so of detox in which none of our children particularly like us, but they eventually settle back into routine and rules.) When I asked Waverly about her expectations, she said, “Worse.” This was surprising to me since she was the biggest advocate for Caleb coming home. She then asked, “When are you taking him back?” I told her that Caleb was her brother now just like Braden, and that he would be here forever. She said, “Oh. I thought he was just visiting!” We’re working it out though. She revealed that she wants one on one time with Caleb. (It’s hard because they all fight over him.) She also wants one on one time with me. We had a special Mommy-Waverly night shopping yesterday for birthday gifts for friends. That seemed to help her spirits. She does love showing him off to everyone though despite her mixed emotions!
Caleb is doing so well. We had some sleep issues for a couple of nights, but overall, we couldn’t ask for a better transition for him. He seems to be attaching to Kevin and me, which is GREAT. When he’s playing with the kids and sees one of us, he immediately wants us, much to the dismay of the kids. He reaches for me to pick him up and whines if I’m cooking with him playing next to me. While those don’t seem like desirable behaviors, they are really good signs that Caleb knows that we are Mommy and Daddy, his caregivers now. He is overall such a happy baby! He absolutely adores his brother and sisters. He thinks they are hilarious. I thought his transition from day one with us to day 8 with us was big. He is a totally different kid now! At home, he is no longer hesitant and reserved. He is all over the place! He can crawl on all fours, but he prefers to army crawl. He knows 1) he’s faster that way and 2) he can carry the remote control that way. (What is the fascination with remotes?) He is pulling up on the kitchen cabinets, and he is hanging from the handle of the dishwasher door. We have a wild little man on our hands! He wants to walk so badly, but he’s just not quite there yet. He babbles a lot. So far he has learned what “bye bye” and “high five” mean, and he delights in showing off his mad clapping skills. Praise the Lord that he loves the Ergo baby carrier. Being the youngest of four, he is going to spend quite a bit of time hanging with Mommy at all our activities!
As for Kevin and me, all I have is two words: jet lag. Boy, oh boy. By the time we adjusted to China, it was time to fly home. I am napping when Caleb and Waverly nap, which I’m sure is why I’ve been up since 1:40 am. By afternoon, I am toast, and I sleep in Waverly’s room with her until Braden gets home. Kevin has been going to bed early, which is highly unusual for him. He slept through March Madness! This too shall pass.
On Sunday morning, I watched the kids looking through their Easter baskets, and I thought, “Wow. Four kids is a lot of kids!” But everything about this just feels right.