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Dear Daniel,

Being the oldest is a blessing and a curse. You are finding that out every day, I am sure. I can relate to you on so many levels. You are grateful you are the oldest because you get to do things first. You get the newest clothes and you are the first to ride a bike and drive a car and everything else. But being the oldest also means that much more is expected of you. You are expected to help with your siblings. You are expected to be the leader and example because you know the rules and you know how things are done. I never really wanted a big sister because I really really liked that role. I did always miss not having an older brother though to protect me and tell me how pretty I was.

We’ve been together in Colombia for 10 days now. My first impression of you was that of calm and tenderness. You had the biggest smile I had ever seen when you walked in the room at CRAN. You played the role of oldest perfectly, letting the others have their turn with me and dad first. You reassured Daniela that everything would be alright when we left for the van. You have continued to put Juan Pablo in his place by telling him to grow up and listen to mommy and daddy.

Some fun facts about you:
1. You took your very first hot shower today–Thursday, August 14th. Since you’ve had cold showers for so many years you were reluctant to try it, and we didn’t push you. Finally, after seeing your siblings enjoy standing under the water–not rushing to get away from it–you decided to try it on your own and you said that you LOVED it. Dad and I will forever picture you turning the cold water on and revving yourself up to run under it. As soon as you had enough water to be wet, you would turn the water off and soap yourself up. Once sudded up, you would revv up once again for the rinse cycle. I hear it’s healthy to take cold showers, but it’s obviously not enjoyable. I am grateful for the ability to have whatever type of shower I want. I am also grateful to give that opportunity to you and your siblings.

2. Right now, your favorite thing is to fly kites. Since you were soooo good the other day, dad took you to buy one as your reward. I think we spent two hours at the park that day, and you never stopped running. There is a long path that runs through the park (it’s part of a greenway). You ran back and forth the entire time trying to get the kite to fly. You were successful on many attempts. Regardless, that is one of my fondest memories so far.

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3. You LOVE Frosted Flakes. You would eat four bowls at a time, if I let you. You also love soda, potato chips, and ketchup. Yep, you’re a regular kid!

4. Last night, after having a really hard afternoon (losing the beloved kite and park privileges for the day because of poor choices in behavior) you and dad bonded in the kitchen by making everyone breakfast for dinner. This was the first time you had ever attempted cooking. I’m so glad that dad shares the cooking responsibilities with me. You can learn a lot from him. He’s pretty good at it. By the way, you did an excellent job. Breakfast is one of favorite thing to have for dinner, and I have never seen anyone eat dinner as fast as you and your siblings last night. Grandma put a pancake and bacon in front of Juan P. and when she turned around it was gone. All of your were lined up for more faster than we could make them. YUMMY! You’ll fit right into the McCracken family.
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5. Power Rangers is your favorite kid show….and grandma spoiled you at the mall by buying you a Power Rangers tracing book. You also taught your siblings how to play Power Rangers the other night–breaking one of the beds….It’s a good thing daddy is an engineer!!!

6. You still keep your toothbrush and toothpaste in your backpack. It was your responsibility in the orphanage to put the toothpaste on everyone’s toothbrush, and you continue to do that. I wonder when you will leave your toothbrush in the bathroom with everyone else’s. Maybe when we get “home.” You are very good at being the passer-outer of things. You always make sure everyone gets an equal share.

I love you, big brother. I am so glad you are the oldest. And I am so glad that you have a sparkle in your eye. You may be the oldest, but mostly you are just a kid. I can’t wait to watch you grow into a young man. I also can’t wait until we can communicate fully, and I can ask you questions about the orphanage before you forget too much!

Love Forever,
Mom
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Daniel is adjusting well. He only had nighttime accidents when he doesn’t go to the bathroom at 11:00–that’s when Adam wakes him up to go. He really is quite tender and calm. He has only physically struggled with us once–yesterday. So he lost some privileges, and today he is back to normal. I think there was a little frustration over language, but mostly he just wanted to watch tv, and not follow the schedule. He was totally testing! Danny is always hugging me and kissing me. He is fairly equally bonded to both Adam and I, but he takes it much harder when Adam scolds him. Interesting!!! He lets both of us rub his head and touch him. He tries to act too big for loves during the day, but at night, and in the morning especially, he eats it up.

For the most part, Daniel has been really easy to grow with. If I’m ranking the four of them, he’s the second easiest to “mother” so far. He LOVES to pout and sulk when he doesn’t get his way, but he quickly works it out himself and comes around. I think mostly his frustration is born out of finding his place in this new family. Instead of being the father figure, he now has parents that do that for everyone. He’s trying to be a kid, but is having a hard time letting go of the control that comes with being on your own  for so long.

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