Monday, November 29, 2010


Thanksgiving is over. Time for that other holiday to move in and set up residence everywhere. But not here, not just yet.
I love Christmas, I truly do. The colors, the songs, cheery fires popping in a fireplace while that Christmas tree holds court in a quiet corner. I am just not quite ready yet. I like to have a week or two of just plain old December. I like to feel the year winding down, quietly and slowly, sinking past. I like to play George Winston and have afternoons of cutting and gluing paper chains. I like to let anticipation build. I like to let my children sit back and have a  bit of normalcy this time of year.
I don't like to march right from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I like a little breather before the magic takes hold and lifts us up into the ethers, never letting us down until we land breathless and exhausted on the shores of a new year.
So we will take a breather. No tree yet, no snowmen yet. No cookies to bake, not quite this soon.
But in a week or two?
I will fling our door wide open and invite Christmas into this home. We will decorate and bake and talk endlessly of Santa and his magic elves, we will carefully plan out what to leave the Dwarves that dwell in our basement and run our furnaces (they really like beer and cheese). We will arrange visits with family coming from afar. We will meet new cousins and play new games with cousins we have known for years.
We will watch the face of a little boy opening his first Christmas presents ever. We will enjoy our daughter and her initial shyness and reluctance to disturb those precious packages shining under a fragrant evergreen.
For now though, we will experience early December in regular, every day ways.
Soon though....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Looks Like He Made It

See this little imp?
He just had an appointment with his plastic surgeon today. Guess who gets to eat a "regular diet" now?
That's right, he made it!!!
Those three small holes closed right up, so well in fact,  that I had to remind the Doc that they were actually there the last time. Liam is good to go.
Whew! Just in time for Thanksgiving too!
Grandma, you better double up on a few of those dishes we are planning. And maybe think about another 15 pounds of turkey. Because? This boy can eat. I mean he has capacity and free rein now.

We don't have to see the Plastic's Team for another year, and that my friends is something to be Thankful for.

I forgot to mention this earlier but his ear tubes are doing well too. His hearing is at completely normal levels now and everything looks good.

Now, if only those darn Speech Therapists would get in touch....

(By the way, may I add that I simply adore that little face?)


It's that time of year again.
A time for family, friends and food.
I am thankful to have so many great people in my life. I am surrounded by love and laughter on most any day of the year.
There is a moment that I repeat each night as I lay down and drift off to sleep. A lightening quick review of my life. In that moment I am most grateful for these three people:

                                                           And these four shadows:

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Girl

Oh! Lord!

Some days are just on the calendar to get through. Ya know?
Take today for example. Ev wakes up her chipper self and begins to request special this and special that, not only for breakfast but for a week to come. If you know me at all, you understand that it's very difficult for me to process this kind of thing before noon.
 Liam wakes up, soaked in pee and mad at the world.
The cat starts biting my ankles the minute I swing my legs out of bed.
Liam has a fit the entire time I am cleaning the old, cold pee soaked clothes off of him.
 I have to cook breakfast while Liam stands guard whimpering and crying the entire time. Breakfast itself goes ok but when it's over, Liam feels that 10 ounces of milk and 2 scrambled eggs was not enough and he starts crying and whining again.
I have to end a phone call with Les about 10 minutes later because Liam vomited up about a ton of scrambled eggs and milk into Ev's play cash register.  And may I say, who ever though that keeping Barbie shoes in a cash register was a good idea? While he sits and watches me clean the register, Liam makes an un-holy deposit into his pamper. That was a great mingling of fragrances.
The cat, realizing that biting my ankles is not eliciting the glorious chase scene or fabulous tuna feast that he had envisioned begins systematically clawing the furniture in a last ditch effort to wrest my attention from the kids.
All clean and freshly diapered Liam decides to play with the paper money from the register but he wants to carry it in these perfectly neat piles. The thing is, he's two and can't pull it off, so he walks around crying and weeping while he tries and tries to fix his stack of pretend presidents. He makes these endless little circles crying and complaining. It's maddening.
In the meantime, happy little Ev gets a sword and starts Kung Fu-ing. Liam decides to forsake that abominable cash for the sword. He wants that sword. Bad. He should have the sword. He demands the sword. Well, we take turns around here and we don't negotiate with terrorists so... Liam doesn't get the sword. This sends Liam into another crying jag and me wondering if we have any Vodka in the joint.
Also by this time Ev is feeling very superior and begins Lording it over Liam.
Les is working late today. He won't be home until bedtime. Isn't that convenient?

A few notes: Please read this as a funny breakdown of a tragic morning: that's what it is. 
*Also please realize that Liam will eat until he vomits as he did this morning, so I have no clear understanding of the proper amounts to offer him.
*The cat is a self centered, four legged tyrant.
*Cleaning the recycled eggs out of the Barbie shoes was the absolute worst thing to happen today.
*Liam has never had to figure things out for himself or really try at anything so things like sorting money can be VERY trying. I help him a time or two but I feel that he must figure these things out on his own in the way that a 6 to 9 month old infant has to.
*He was still mad over the money so when he wanted the sword that just compounded his frustrations. He eventually got his turn and immediately dropped the sword and wanted the doll that Ev had.
* I haven't, as of yet, located any hard liquor.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Little People

There are these two little people in my life.
I have this little girl. And she is a Universe. Irrepressible. Bright. Witty. And razor sharp. Ev is this little rocket of a person, always on, always burning. Burning for the next thing, the next holiday. Each person has their own smell and if you are lucky enough to have Ev sit on your lap for a few stolen moments, rare quiet ones, and you can lean over and press your face against her hair, you will catch a whiff of her scent under the shampoo. She has this smell of hot cinders in a fireplace.
If you sneak into her room at night and watch her sleeping that's the only time you will find her still. Just laying there in her pink room, her mind a million miles away on fantastic journeys that she will surely tell you about in the morning. At these times you can lean in and press your face against hers and listen to her breathe for a bit. In. Out. Sigh. Don't stay too long though, she will sense you there, up close, and she will start to stir. While you are leaned in close you will notice that she smells a bit different at night, she smells a bit sweeter and cooler. You are catching bits of her dreams that have tangled up in her hair.
She will smile at you sometimes, and you will forget every single thing but those dimples and that sparkle in her eye. You will see her perfect white teeth all in a row and wonder at the order of the universe.
She can come to you in moments of sadness or weariness and silently climb onto your lap and look into your eyes and just by being there,  make it all all right.
She is an old, old soul all wrapped up in the tiny body of a little girl.

I have this little boy. I still don't really know him yet. I do know that he is a sensitive boy. Easily wounded, easy to forgive. He is this chubby ball of cuddle. Every morning I lift him out of his crib and creep back though the chill in the house, back to my bed. I tuck him in, right up close to my body and he just goes limp. We lay there, the cat at our feet, our breath mingling and he whispers sweet baby secrets to me. I love to kiss him right under his fat cheeks, on his sweet warm neck. He loves that too, he will giggle and turn his head so I can kiss the other side. I know that he is teaching me things about myself. I know that things are tough now, but in a way so easy. So very easy.

I have these two little people in my life and I am their Mama. Many responsibilities hang over my head: teaching them to read and write, teaching right from wrong, helping them think for themselves...the list goes on. There is one responsibility though that is bigger and more important than them all and that is to love them. Somehow the loving of them seems to be the easiest thing.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Yesterday has left us bruised and battered.
Today we are pulling ourselves together. Evelyn is all clamped down again, with all of her grief and pain locked deeply away. Every time that I make eye contact with her she says, "I know Mom. I know" and she skitters away. I am on the verge of tears and feel adrift.
I think she is saying that she knows that I love her, that she knows that I care, that she knows that she can talk to me.
We talked a good long while yesterday and things about her past were revealed to her in a way that, although age appropriate, were not easy to hear. She had questions and opinions. Several times she attempted to take the words out of my mouth and re-write her history and I wanted to let her. Oh how I wanted to let her.
I couldn't though. As much as I wanted I had to keep re-stating the truth as gently as I could.
We got out every bit of paper that I had that contained any scrap of information about her time before us. She wanted to see all of the gifts and treasures we brought back from our trip in 2005. She sat holding a delicate rice bowl and said, "Tell me something happy from when I was a baby" and I did.
I told her of love and first bottles and little gummy smiles offered up on a hot, steamy day. I told her of first steps and fat baby legs. I told her of first words and resting on laps during thunderstorms. I told her of a Papa and how he lost himself to a tiny girl born half way around the world.

I am not sure that I have done the right thing. I keep looking at her to see if she is ok, to see if she is hurting. I think she is, but she won't tell me until she can. Until it's too much. I will be here for her and I will keep talking about Liam and his behaviors in the same way. Liam is a good neutral ground for her, she can allow herself emotions for him that she won't let out for herself and that's a start I suppose.

It's my privilege and honor to walk through life with these children born of another woman. It's my privilege and honor to be allowed to see them and all of the things that make them up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


This afternoon Liam cut his finger. This afternoon Liam cut is finger and then Evelyn had to face the grief that has been in her heart since June 25,  2004.
I am always amazed at how, in adoptive families, simple moments can be flipped upside down and inside out and leave you gasping on the edge of what you can stand. My least favorite part about being a mama is that it falls on me to say the things that no one else can or will say. It falls on me to shed light on the painful past and then pick up the pieces.

There we were, I was making some cole slaw, Ev was sitting on the counter reading,  A Fly Went By aloud, Liam was cooking in the play kitchen right next to us. I glanced down and there he was with blood all over, just cooking away. Upon investigation, he had a small paper cut and I just needed to put a  band aid over it. Ev was very confused by the whole thing. How did he get cut? Why didn't he cry? Why didn't he let you know?
We have been dealing with the Orphanage behaviors that we see in Liam and the only way to help Ev understand and thus be more patient and understanding, is to just lay it on the line. Today I said " Ev he didn't come to me because he doesn't really know he could. He has never had his very own Mama to help him when he is hurt'
That statement did her in. It really did.
Some may say that I shouldn't have said it. Maybe I shouldn't have. Maybe I should have just made up a soft lie. BUT, Ev is a difficult girl. She keeps her emotions on strict lock down. I have to push things to get her to talk. About anything. Adoption talk though, is the worst. She has so much pain and confusion that she just likes to pretend it didn't happen.
 Maybe I should leave things alone. Let her stay in her denial. But what happens when she hits 20 or 30 and all of it crashes in on her and she never had a talk with us? What if it hits her and paralyzes her and leaves her alone and distrustful for a long time? How can I not teach her these things when it is so very vital to acknowledge our past?
I stood there in the kitchen and let Liam bleed as I faced a wet eyed Ev and talked. And I talked. And I talked. I realized that I needed her to TALK. So I asked her to use ONE word. Just one word about her past and living in the orphanage. She sat there on my counter and hid her face and yelled "I don't want to. I just want to pretend I wasn't there!!!!!" And I wept and I said "please..." and then, oh and then. She lifted up her face and I saw more pain there than I have ever witnessed in another person's eyes and she yelled, "SAD!!!!!!!!! I am sad for baby EVELYN" and then she wept. Great sobbing shuddering weeping. And I held her and I wept too. We were there together and in that moment we wept for that baby that was left alone at just one day old.
A mother and a daughter bound, not by the biology of flesh and bone but bound by the biology of loss and love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Isn't He Just?

Two Boys

Attachment and bonding. Grief. Settling in. Figuring it out. Learning new rules. Learning new ways to survive. Jealousy. Change. Power struggles.
These things (and more) are a part of our every day life right now. In a comment to another adoptive Mama, I just said, "it's the good, the bad and the ugly wrapped up into every day" and that's about it. We get it all, every day, sometimes hourly.
I strive to keep a transparent blog. I don't want to present this happy face to everyone when there are days that I am not sure we will all make it through. Neither do I want to continually blab about this long and difficult process.  The fact is we are happy. We are also struggling.
After I struggle all day and feel beat up and bruised, the last thing I want to do is sit down and re-hash it all  in the blog. It's too much. It's much easier to sit and talk about how he smiles and melts my heart or how I love to see him and Ev hold hands. No matter how you try to be complete, when you blog, you just give these quick looks into your life.
In reality there are two Liams. There is the Liam that we, his immediate family knows and the other Liam. Now the Other Liam is smooth, easy going, a no fusser, a compliant little guy. He is all round edges and softness. The Real Liam is a bit more....real. Our Liam is rough and loud, he cries, he hurls himself onto the floor in protest. He kicks the cat. He hits his sister. Our Liam is all of the things he has to offer. ALL of it.
I am surprisingly ok with the Real Version. I like that one better. I am suspicious of the Other Liam. I know that he is hiding things.
 I know that he trusts us enough to let us handle his dirty laundry. I know that some day these two versions will be reconciled. This is a common thing in adopted kids, the two faces. It's all to do with how they trust and how they see relationships.
The facts are these:
Liam is loved.
He is precious.
I finally have the little lovable bear that I always wanted.
He IS sweet.
He is kind.
He is trying.
He is grieving.
He is confused.
He is hurting.
He is wondering what the heck is going on.
He can't talk.
He is stubborn.
He is a tester.
He is sensitive.
He is a little boy in a big confusing world.
He likes us but is still not sure if we are the final chapter.
He's two, man, is he ever two.
There is also the fact that even though this is tough, it could be much, much worse. I know families that struggle with RAD and severe attachment/ trust issues.
I love this boy and I am glad that he is here. He is a good fit for us. We just have some rough places to smooth over. We have work ahead. We also have work behind. I mean, we are a world away from those first few days in China.
And this is all just how I feel/see things/understand. What about my little boy? How must he hurt and struggle? I have an idea but I will never have the full weight of his grief and confusion settled into my heart.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anatomy of a fit

This is Liam.
Having a ninny.
It lasted 45 seconds.
He was devastated to learn that he actually had to come to me when I called him.
I am a tyrant.
He suffers greatly.

Action Girl

I like to try and catch action shots of Ev sometimes. That girl is so dynamic and fierce that you have to know her in person to really get a sense of the movement and activity that is a part of her. She also has the most intense concentration that I have ever seen in a child under the age of 12.
She was out back playing soccer with Les two days ago. They weren't using a regulation ball but one of those big bouncy ones. Liam was on his bike, slowly trundling back and forth through their game field.
Her eyes never left that ball. There were random bouts of Kung Fu- there always is with Ev. Liam never got hit or tripped over. They played like this for the entire afternoon. She would only pause to gulp down some water or to further illustrate what she was currently discussing. Yes she even talks whilst playing sports.
And,  yes she is wearing shorts and teal patent leather flip flops in November. To play soccer. What up?

And now, your moment of Kung Fu.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Situational Awareness

My daughter is highly intelligent. Can you hear the "But" in that statement?
Yes, Ev is about the sharpest knife in the drawer, BUT, I swear, she is absolutely clueless about situational awareness.
Oh, you want an example? I just happen to have a hundred.....
After an incredibly long and difficult day with The Prince of Whine, I was in the kitchen making dinner. Now, the day was so bad that breakfast and lunch were both fraught with mini-disasters. You know the kind, milk boiling up and out of a cup all over the microwave, dropped eggs landing cheese-side down on the freshly mopped floor. Things that aren't that bad but when they happen in clusters, all day, you can feel your self-control slipping. The fact that as all of this happened with a very loud and distinct sound track? Well, it just gets better and better.
So yeah. Dinner time. There I am in the kitchen with The Queen of Re-caps ( no kidding, she even re-caps her facial expressions if you missed them--hell even if you didn't) and The Prince of Whine and I sort of--cough cough--lost it. I sent them streaking out of the kitchen with a bellow and an expletive (I AM highly evolved).
Not 30 seconds later she comes walking back in handing me a dish towel. A dish towel that she had to walk in and pick up from a perfectly respectable resting location on the counter. She came in, picked up a dish towel that no one needed, and handed it to me. Or tried to anyway.
I had just yelled and sent them out of the kitchen! What sane child would willingly re-enter a room with a raging hornet of a mother? Honestly.
Sometimes I have a sneaking suspicion that she DOES have SA but she just likes messing with my head.
That couldn't be it.
Could it?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Relax Papa

You CAN put pictures up on the new blog. See?

On Reading Blogs

I was asked once, "Why blog?" I found that an answer to that question was easily forthcoming. I keep this blog so that I may remember. I also have it public because it started as a way to just keep my family up to date on the cuteness that was (is) my daughter (and son), but now it's a journal, a touch stone.
 Over the past few years, I have learned a couple of things about myself. I have learned that I am a true extrovert and thus must have me feelings linked to language to gain any insight. Heck I don't even know how I feel about a movie until I TALK about it. I have also learned that I NEED to have a coherent language for my experiences or I tend to drift through life, not focusing on anything. Blogging helps me.

A question that I find much more difficult to answer is, "Why read the blogs of others?" I think I have finally found the answer: Because it makes me feel less alone.
There aren't many people in my personal life that have a deep understanding of adoption and it's impact on your life, your heart, your head. I have many people who love me and have the ability to lend a sympathetic ear. I have people in my life who read up on the subject to be better prepared to help me in tough moments. But really, it's just me and Les who have this deep understanding of adoption in this small circle that is my life.

So I read the blogs of folks who know about the pain of waiting, because then we are waiting together and it doesn't feel quite as bad. I read the blogs so that when I have a bad day and I think, " I can not do this again", I can read the blog of a mother who has done it 7 or 8 times and lived to tell the tale. I read these blogs because there is a sense of community offered and some days you just need to see that someone else is struggling too, or that someone else gets, really gets, what that first unsolicited affection means. I read them because this a tough gig and if I thought that I was in it alone, I would not be able to make it.
I remember struggling terribly with Post-Adoption Depression when we first cam home with Ev. I remember how I had never even heard that term before I found a blog of an adoptive Mom who put it all on the line. I remember the sense of relief that I had when I realized that, My GOD, we are normal, this is ok, we will get through.
But also? I am addicted to seeing these kids come home and grow and thrive. It does my heart and soul good to see families come together in the way that mine did.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Today Papa instituted a day of rest. He also instituted a Papa's Choice day. I was okay with that, even if it meant endless episodes from the History Channel and lots of war stuff.
We needed it. All of us. We needed the rest, the lack of school, the lack of requirements. We let our hair down, so to speak.
This Sunday was the FIRST day, entire day, that I could feel this family congealing into what we shall be. It wasn't perfect either, but it was good. Ev took a rare nap and the entirety of that nap was spent with her on my lap. Ev and Liam PLAYED together in harmony for a long period of time. There was kissing and zerberting and hugging and playing flashlight tag in a darkened house.
There was also whining and mild disobedience and a few territorial scuffles.
But that's what it is right?
Finding those moments to hold onto in the face of things to come, or in the shadows of things past.
I could feel the dry scales of the stressed me sloughing off to reveal something shiny and new.
I could see my son making a conscious decision to BE with us.
I could see Ev reaching a deeper level of acceptance of her brother.
I could see my husband starting anew.

I do not expect that all of our hard adjusting days are over. No indeed. I was not born yesterday and this isn't my first time at the rodeo. It's just that, when you get this day. This day. That day of real ease that is the first after a new adoption, you can finally breathe. You can allow your heart and mind to begin to release the why's, the what if's, the where for's and you can cinch your boots down tighter and wade a bit deeper.

Leslie and I have been working hard and talking lots and lots as time and the children allow. We have allowed ourselves to be painfully honest with each other and we have not judged, or attempted to "fix it". We have just talked and let things out and slowly we have evolved a plan of attack for this family. A new way to be. We have calculated the trajectory of Liam and we have factored it in and we have  made real and proper strides.

This Sunday, for the first time, my son leaned into me and planted a big slobbery kiss on me, more than one in fact. I didn't ask first or make the mmmmwah face, he just wanted to kiss me and he did.

A good Sunday it was.