Aliya started preschool just a week after everyone else started. She goes to the preschool at our church three mornings a week and is loving it. The first day we were there the teacher asked her if she knew how to spell her name. At that moment I thought "oh...it has not EVER occurred to me to even teach her to spell her name yet. It's a good thing that she's going to preschool...whew!" She has been on several field trips to which I accompanied a couple of and of course took an insane amount of pictures. My theory is that we have to make up for the first 5 years of her life by having the same number of scrapbooks in a matter of just a few months. It makes perfect sense...in my head, lol :) Anyway, her language is really coming along and she is even starting to lose her accent at times. There are many phrases that she has picked up from school as well as her neighborhood friends; some are good and some are not. While there are still concepts that are difficult for her to understand she is exploring her world very nicely and eagerly. She is also figuring out the system in the Snyder house, which according to her is not as fun as it is in Wolayta. According to her she apparently never had to walk in Wolayta (we walk 5 blocks to take Christian to school and we need to stop for water and stretching breaks along the way), her mother never made her eat fish (she says it smells dirty), she has to go to bed and brush her teeth every night, she does not get to "pick one" everywhere we go and she does not get to do whatever she wants. It's a hard life in America.
The boys are also continuing to adjust well to another member of the family. Christian, who just turned 6, was having some competition issues but is slowly turning the corner on that and does not feel the need for it quite as much. Dominic has been a great big brother and seems to enjoy having a little sister around. They both played soccer this fall so she got to see America's crazy schedule of practices and games. We have not signed her up for any extra activites and probably won't for a little while longer. Her attitude and behavior shows a distinct downward turn when we are too busy and/or around too many people. We've had to reign it back in a little in the last couple of weeks and have noticed an improvement on tantrums which is always good :) Aliya doesn't understand why the boys get to everything all the time though and she is stuck at home so often with mommy. "All the time we eat lunch and take a nap. Why all the time I'm sleeping? Mommy always says GO TO BED!" Yes again the Snyder house is a hard place to live where you have to take naps so that you don't become a cranky whiny diva and you have to go to bed by 8:30 every single night.
We have had some interesting moments of high pitched screaming fits from looking at a cartoon picture of a snake, making her walk on her stiff leg from the vaccines and brushing her hair. We have also had precious moments of snuggles, hugs, kisses, "I love you" and pure contentment. Every day God renews us and every day I am so thankful He does. Without that promise there are days I don't think I will make it another. We have shown her the video of her caretaker and she watched a couple of times. The second time she started to cry so I took her to her room and just sat and held her. I knew she missed her, her country and the life she once knew. Adoption is between a rock and a hard place. While it is blessing a child with a new life and a new hope as well as blessing a family with a child, it's also a heartwrenching reality that a lot of pain and suffering had to happen before those blessings could. I wish I could take away her pain but all I can do is pray for her healing heart and try and make her feel safe and loved. There are moments when I think she is doing so well and there are moments when she is still scared and lonely. One thing that has helped so much is having a network of people that support and encourage us. The community that we have exprienced through this process has been so amazing.
Well I'm sure I could write 10 times more than this but I'm going to end with a few pictures. I've got my routine back a little so perhaps I will stay more up to date on blogging and not let it go months. Thanks for following our journey. Thank you for your prayers.