Four Weeks {and a CanvasPop giveaway!}

It’s been a little over four weeks since we came home from China with Sawyer, and it seems so much longer than that! It feels like we’ve been through so much since we first met him. He is such a SMART, funny little guy, and his personality is starting to come through more and more.canvas1

We’ve been keeping our lives very simple and have taken “cacooning” fairly seriously. We haven’t really taken Sawyer anywhere except to my parents’ house and to our doctor’s office. It is challenging and can feel pretty isolating, but it is so good for him to get really comfortable with his new home and establish new routines.

At his orphanage, he lived in 2-3 rooms and likely never went anywhere except to occasional doctor appointments, so we are careful not to overwhelm his little world with lots of new places and people.canvas2

We spend most of our time outside playing in the yard and going for walks and bike rides around the neighborhood. He is starting to play on his own really well as I work outside. He is a typical two year old boy and loves to dig in the dirt and play with trucks.

I try to do most of my errands and studio work while he naps in the afternoon. It’s been such a blessing to have hubs working from home, so that I can run to the store or post office if I need to while Sawyer naps.

canvas3It’s very difficult for him to speak because of his cleft palate. He is able to say very short words like “hi” and “hey” and “wow” and when he grunts, we are able to understand what he is trying to say most of the time. Hopefully after his surgeries, his speech will improve.

He has adapted so well to our world, and I continue to be amazed at how fast he picks up new things. He seems to understand almost everything we tell him. He is one amazing little guy!canvas4

CanvasPop asked if they could send me a canvas to review on the blog, and I chose this photo that was taken on the day we first met Sawyer. I LOVE the canvas and hung it in the corner of his nursery. Every single day before I put him to bed we have a fun little game where he points to the canvas, then points to me and himself. Then I say “Mama and Sawyer”. It’s so sweet and reminds me of our first days together.canvas5

And today I have a fun giveaway for you! CanvasPop has generously agreed to give our winner a FREE 16″ x 20″ photo canvas and it includes free shipping within the US.

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post.

For a second chance to win, “like” Aimee Weaver Designs on Facebook and let another comment telling me you “liked” it.

For a third chance to win, follow me on instagram @aimeesweaver and let another comment that you are following me.

Giveaway is open to US residents only and will close on Friday, May 15 at 5:00pm EST. A random winner will be chosen and announced on the blog.

CanvasPop has also given 35% off anything in their site with coupon code PINKLIFE35 and it is valid for two months.

Good luck!

5 Things

Because my brain is feeling scattered and disorganized, here are some randoms going on in my life right now…

1. “So, how are you doing?” It’s a question I get asked probably every day and, honestly, most times I do not know what to say. My canned answer is “Overall, we are doing really well!”. Truthfully, it has been hard. Nothing about adoption is easy. Sawyer has been adjusting and bonding better than I ever hoped or expected, but it has still been a challenge. A friend passed this blog post along to me last week, and it puts into words exactly how I am feeling. Lots of mixed emotions. But I am confident and very hopeful that we will all adjust as time goes on.PicMonkey Collage

2. Because Sawyer loves to be outside, I have been spending so much time working on my patio and freshening up outdoor tables and chairs with paint and newly covered cushions. blog3I planted a teensy tiny garden a few weeks ago. It’s been like a little bit of therapy for all of us to be outside. And, hello Spring. It is gorgeous here right now.blog2

3. I’ve been working on some acrylic paintings on canvas lately. Nothing fancy, but I’m loving the practice and challenge of doing something new.IMG_1410

4. Autobiographies are probably my favorite kind of books to read and I just finished this one by Julie Andrews. People are so fascinating, aren’t they? I love reading behind-the-scenes stories that people have.blog

I also just read “Unbroken” while we were in China, and it was fantastic. A movie just came out based on the book, which I haven’t seen yet. It’s on my list though. Have you seen it?blog2

5. Our bathroom has looked like a sad construction zone for months, and now we (husband) finally has the time to finish it. YAY. Here it is in its current state.blog4

Isn’t it lovely? (or not) I will share “afters” when it’s finished. I’m thinking pale gray walls, pretty new fixtures and some fun artwork. I love having a project like this to work on.

A Favorite Neutral

The walls in our hallway were green every since we moved in nine years ago. I can’t believe I had waited so long to change them. It is so not like me. I liked the green walls (you can see them in this OLD post from 2010), but I was very ready to lighten up the space that is typically kind of dark.

While searching for a neutral color, I think I found a new favorite. The color I used is called Combed Cotton by PPG Pittsburgh Paints. I painted walls a few months ago and created a new gallery wall going up the steps. It’s still a work in progress.hall1hall8

The color goes perfectly with the gray-beige color in the kitchen and the gray-blue color in the family room. It’s a cream that doesn’t have a lot of yellow but has a hint of gray undertones. It’s so pretty. And it looks great with white trim. Our trim color is Ultra Pure White by Behr.hall11hall10hall16hall3hall5hall17hall4hall6hall15hall7

A little about our youngest

It’s been just over a week since since we came home from China, and we are settling into our new normal with this sweet little guy. I thought I’d share a little bit more about him with you.

Sawyer2

Since we first met him, he has surprised us with his ability to communicate, even though he doesn’t understand English and we don’t understand Chinese. We have never had a moment where he’s been frustrated with us not understanding him. He uses hand motions and grunts when he wants or needs something. For example, he points to his mouth or his belly when he’s hungry and moves his hands in a certain motion meaning “no”. We’ve also taught him a few signs like “more” and “all done”, which he’s learned very quickly.

Because of his cleft palate, he has trouble forming words, so he doesn’t say much except “no”. I mean, he’s two, so it’s normal that it is his favorite word, right?

Sawyer3His very favorite thing to do is play outside, and we’ve been taking lots of walks and doing a lot of swinging. I am so thankful it is Spring and the weather has been great for being outside! Our days would be a lot harder if we were stuck inside all day.

He also likes to play with legos and toy farm animals and little cars and trucks. He seems to figure things out very quickly and likes to organize and stack his toys.Sawyer4

Like a lot of kids coming from orphanages, food is very important to him and he is obsessed with it. He is almost constantly telling us he is hungry, and we are careful to meet his needs for comfort and security in food. I try to have healthy snacks on hand for him. He most likely wasn’t fed as much as he needed at the orphanage and now that he is able to have as much as he wants, he probably has fears that it will be taken away, so he finds a lot of security in knowing food is always available to him.

Because he has a cleft palate, we really didn’t know what he was able to eat. We’ve been really surprised to find out that he can eat absolutely anything, including things that are more difficult to take bites out of like apples. So far he eats whatever we eat and has never turned anything down. It’s been such a blessing and has made our lives much easier.

He probably was never taught how to use a spoon to eat, and he has loved learning that. He is incredibly messy when he eats, though, and I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to eat outdoors so that my floors stay somewhat clean!

It might not look like it in the photos, but he is a little guy. Even though he is two, he wears 18 months clothes and many of them are too big for him. But I suspect he will gain a lot of weight in the next few months.
Sawyer6

Sleeping has been a bit of an issue. He has a hard time falling asleep most nights. We stay with him and hold his hand or rub his back until he falls asleep, and it can take as long as an hour and a half. It takes a lot of patience, but it can also be a bonding time with him. When he finally falls asleep, he usually stays sleeping until morning.

He takes a nap in the afternoon and it can take a while for him to fall asleep for that as well. He generally doesn’t seem scared about sleeping – he usually seems like he just doesn’t want to miss out on anything and wants to keep playing.

Sawyer5

He is such a joy and has an awesome, fun personality that we see coming out more and more every day! He loves to make funny faces and make us laugh. He is still getting to know us, so it feels at times like he is a bit reserved, but I think as time goes on, he will become more comfortable.

He is very attached to me and hubs, which is a very good thing. He is wary of strangers and new people and likes to stay close by when a new person stops by. That also means that he is typically very clingy and likes to be held most of the time. It can be very tiring, but I am so thankful that he is bonding well with us.

He has bonded very well with Avery since she went to China with us, and Jack does a great job playing with him. Violet is having a more difficult time warming up to him. She was the youngest and now a lot of the attention is going to Sawyer, so she naturally is having a harder time with the change. But I am confident that with time she will grow to love him too.Sawyer7We have an appointment with a cleft palate team at the end of May and will schedule him for surgery to have his lip repaired. Four months after that, he will have surgery to have his palate (the inside of his mouth) repaired. Right now he doesn’t have a roof in his mouth, so when he eats, and it can be a challenge to keep the inside of his nose and mouth clean.

We have decided to keep him mostly home and with us for at least six weeks (called cacooning and you can read more about it here). We won’t be taking him out in public, church, stores, other people’s houses, etc. for that time. The idea is to really work on the bond between him and us, and we want all of his needs to be met by us, so that he learns to trust us as his parents.

He has been taken from the only home he’s known at the orphanage and has dealt with so much change since we’ve gotten him. Although he seems very happy and comfortable with us, we still know that his world has been turned upside down, so we want to do our best to ease his transition into our world. We want to soak up our time with him, playing with him, showing him how much we love him and that we will take care of him.

Thank you for all your encouraging words and comments from my previous posts! I appreciate each and every one of them so much.