Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quiet Turmoil

I haven't been blogging too much. Some of it's because we have been "busy doin' nuthin' " as my Mom would say. I mean, how many times can I talk about watching the kids play on the beach?
Because that's what we do. We wake in the morning, lazy about, eat, clean up and play and then we lunch, nap and wait for Papa to come in so we can gear up and head to the shore. Most days we spend the afternoon in the splash pool. On Monday and Wednesday we leave at 3 pm for Gymnastics and make it back home in time for bed.
Really. That's it. I cram in a grocery trip here and there and we hit the library and ice creams stands as life demands. So you see nothing much earth shattering. And this is NOT complaining. It's wonderful. It's a great life. To be able to just meander through the days watching my kids play and grow- I love it. I am very lucky and I know it.

We did have an interesting day on Thursday-4.5 hours of our life spent getting everyone to their new doctors and set up for treatment. Ev has been peeing about every 8 minutes (I wish I was exaggerating) so she went for that. Her urine was "a little dirty" so we are waiting for the culture to come back. We had to get Liam seen so we could begin his Speech Therapy. The Doc wants us to utilize Early Intervention as well as private services because he wants to be aggressive and get as much in as we can right now- we agree, and it was a relief to hear someone else get how far behind he is. It's just that, well, his private therapy will be at least twice a week and it's as faraway as Gymnastics is.

I guess I better get better at cooking ahead and planning lunches. Any ideas there?

Then I have things going on with me personally. Some things have upset me and my reaction is not what you would call mature or even remotely appropriate, but that doesn't change how I feel, how I will, most likely feel forever. And there has been news from my Doc- nothing life threatening, just something that has stripped away my last bit of self esteem and left me a bit broken and crumbled and trying to figure out how I will ever be able to feel like me again.

So there are things happening. Some things are just mundane life. Somethings will get fixed (hopefully) by antibiotics. And some things I will just have to get used to- and those are the things that I don't have the heart to put into words.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Well, That's Out of the Way

Today marks one year that Liam has been with us.
Yep. One year under our belts. The first year, the hardest year.
One year ago, we walked into a government building in Zhengzhou, China and we left as a family of four, never to be the same again.
I can't describe what this year has been like. I can't tell you how it felt to watch this little guy change and grow and settle into his family life.
It's hasn't been an easy year, but it has been wonderful in so many ways. I am in awe of this little person. I would not be able to survive the things that he has gone through all on his own, all before the age of 2.
On the day we met, we three knew that he would never have to get used to another place or group of people again- but he did not. We knew all about love- and he would have to learn. We knew the way of this family and he had to guess and fumble his way through. He has faced surgeries this year in addition to getting used to a new family. He has gained so many things but there was loss as well- loss of his birth country, loss of all that was familiar and comforting. He had to start all over again- from scratch. And he did it. He amazes me.
I thank God every moment that I have him. I have no idea what ever possessed me to hurl myself against the bureaucracy of two countries for the honor of being his Mama but I am glad I did.
Adoption is such a blessing. It's tough and trying and wonderful and ... it's just everything. Becoming a parent. Meeting these children and getting to be with them in life, to hold their hands and watch them grow.We are so lucky, Les and I. Lucky to earn the love and trust of children such as these.
Happy First Year Liam. It's all down hill from here buddy.
Here's to this year and all the beautiful years to come.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Going To the Mattresses- In More Ways Than One

Well, I have incredible timing, no one can ever dispute that fact. We moved here and Les had two weeks off, then he started work and it was a slow start so he was home plenty. Then he actually had to, you know, work. And that was about the time that I decided to fold beach towels. And the folding of the beach towels ended up seriously pulling my lower back.
That was 6 days ago.
I have been confined to the couch and taking partial showers for 6 days.
I have been living on large doses of Motrin and making it through with alot of teeth gritting.
Also? It's been hot as Hades, so you know, sitting on the hot couch and not being able to shower has worked out well. We are not even going to discuss the state of my unshaven legs, we're just not. I sort of have this whole " I Was a Middle Aged, Twisted Up, Werewolf" thing going on.
Well, I am almost better. A couple more days of taking it easy should do the trick.
The thing is though, I have had to rely heavily on Evelyn. And you know how they say power corrupts?
She's the top of the heap.
I have been struggling to re-assert my own authority these past two days.
It's like a mafia movie. You know how the old Don may have a heart attack or get shot and then the Capo's all start moving in and the old guy has to either take everyone of them out with well placed assassins or in a blood bath?
Yeah. That sort of thing.
God! I love her madly and deeply but she is a control freak. I mean it.
Arbitrary rules, no mercy, unrelentless fussing. And that's just how she's been treating me.
Her help has been invaluable, she has really worked hard to give me a hand and I appreciate it.

I just don't like having my own popsicle intake so closely monitored.  And also she only ever seems to bring me the flavors she doesn't like.

You wouldn't know it just by looking, but this is the face of a power mad popsicle mafiosa.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Here and Gone Again

The Smokewood Gang was here for a visit. A short, whirlwindy kind of trip. And now they are gone. They are already back in Ohio going back to work and loosing that last bit of beach glow. And we are here without them.
We had bunches of fun. (You know? I do not normally use the term "bunches of" anything. Weird.) We saw Cape May, we had beach time, we went Whale and Dolphin Watching, we ate lots and played lots and all in all, it was a fabulous time.
And Ev DID talk to her Grandma. In the first 5 minutes, no 2 minutes of Grandma being here, Ev climbed onto her lap and hugged her and talked about how she would always be her Grandma. And that was it. That's all Ev needed to say, and all she needed was to see that they could get here.
Oh! And the kids! Talking and laughing and holding hands. Fussing and playing and whispering at night. It's so fun to watch them together.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Out? Out?

Liam lives to be outside. Each moment of the day spent indoors is like a knife in his heart. Is it because he's a boy? Ev has never wanted to be outside as much as he does. I love when he comes running up to me and frantically makes the signs for "shoes" and "please" and "out" and "please" with this huge grin on his face. I love how when I laugh and say yes, he gasps, and turns to go get his shoes and how he is so excited he always falls- flat out on his face, gets back up, runs, falls again, gets back up and finally gets himself settled enough to function. And that's just to go out into the yard- you should see the all out fiasco that happens when anyone says the word "beach"!
The boy is in his element outside. He is happy and smiley. He plays on his own. He will stand and watch a bird fly for minutes at a time. He will follow the path of a single ant. He falls down, he scrapes his knees, he gets filthy. I simply love it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oh Daughter.

Ev has been a bit mixed up lately. She just isn't herself. We have been having some sleep issues, some mouthy issues, some control issues and some fear issues. I am trying to be patient. I think that what she is going through is after-affects of such a big upheaval.
The move went smoothly and I really though we may have made it through without too many issues but I think Ev is a bit like me, in that she falls apart after things settle down.

She is usually ready to jump at the chance to go outside. Not so much anymore. She just wants to stay in and read or be in her room all alone. She says that she's afraid of bugs and we have had a few reaaaally looooong nights where she was exhibiting some pretty serious obsessive thoughts about bugs. And by nights, I mean three a.m. kind of nights. Then we have had these weird 4- 5 am  wake-ups where she doesn't go back to sleep unitl 7 am or so, then back up for the day at 8 am. She has also been incredibly mouthy and argumentative. I am not even going to bore you with descriptions of her incessant bossing of, and fussing at, Liam- it's insane. Or how she tries to interject herself into the whole "Parenting of Liam" thing.

I am flat out exhausted.
I know that she must be.

We have tried to be understanding but not let her get away with ugly behavior and we have used very gentle corrections. We have tried to talk to her about her feelings- she shuts us down. We have used every thing we have to try and help her but I think we may have to sit back and wait to see what shakes out. I hug her and kiss her and hold her as much as she will let me. I go out of my way to tell her lots and lots of times how I love her and that she's a great kid.
She says that she is not afraid of her room and she does spend alot of time in there - all alone with her door shut. So I believer her on that front.

Ultimately I think she just got incredibly tired and strung out and the move rattled her quite a bit. I am wondering though- if she isn't working some adoption thing out in her heart and mind?
She will talk to me- eventually. It's just that when she talks to me, she will have struggled all on her own to the point where she is on the verge of a solution or to the point that she is so confused and hurt that she just can't do any more work on her own. These are the times when it is the hardest to have such an independent child- you want to help, you CAN help but they just can't let you.

The Smokewood Gang will be here for a visit on Wednesday. Maybe seeing that her family can get here will help settle her mind. Maybe she will talk with Grandma or Grandpa or Lissa....I don't know. I feel so helpless.

Maybe she's just seven.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I am just going to say up front--Sami this entry will drive you nuts. It's basically an entry that I need to do for myself and Les and no one will find it remotely interesting, unless they have adopted a cleft affected child from another country. You have all been warned...

We are approaching the one year mark in our relationship with Liam. July 27, 2010 is the day we met him in a government building in the middle of a bustling, sweltering Chinese city. Then we had to spend two more weeks in China before we could get home and start settling in. And I ~think~ alot of other families feel the same way we do, in that, you just can't get much done in the way of family growth in China. Because in China it's all about survival.

I was watching Liam play in the pool today and I was struck by how absolutely different he is. I was reminded of that boy we met and how it is so hard to find that particular little guy underneath the fella I see from day to day. And some days are still very rough with him and I wonder if I will ever have a boy that doesn't WAIL when things don't go his way, or if I will ever have a son that can look at me and verbally communicate with me or if he will just spend the rest of his life in diapers. And I know that I am being dramatic in those instances, I know that. I also know that a year with us is still only half of the time he had without us, without a family life, without a room of his own, a bed of his own, toys of his own. I also know that I am being dramatic because I can look at him and practically SEE the advances he makes each day. For instance, yesterday he learned 4 new signs and the words to go with them! I think that's pretty awesome!

Let me paint you a picture. A two year old boy that is physically right on--almost. The things he was behind on were things like socialization, interaction...Like he wold make excellent eye contact when he had a need that he wanted or needed filled but if WE wanted to talk to him he would turn his head, shift his eyes, close his eyes, try to charm us, or throw a fit--usually all of the above. He had these very quick and dramatic facial expressions that were his only means of communication so he relied on them heavily and let me tell you, he was an artist. We called him the Buddha of Displeasement. He could not entertain himself. He could not or would not follow even the simplest verbal command ( I am referring to him around the 5 month mark here). He refused to do anything and everything that would make him a functioning part of the family. I am not talking about ability here. I am talking about desire and motivation. All the time I thought, "He's not "angry"- so what's his deal?" Well, he was angry. Angry at us, at the world and he wanted no part of what we had to offer. He woke up crying and went to bed crying and most days he cried all day long. He would stand right in my face and yell and cry and throw himself on the floor. He would refuse to move his body a single millimeter to assist with diaper changes. He had to be fed every two hours for many, many weeks and when that abated he would still stuff his mouth to the point of choking with every meal. Have you ever witnessed how much food a kid with an open palate can get into their pie hole?! It's alot and he would do it in an instant when we looked away. He could not be trusted.

Les has been really frustrated because, due to circumstances out of our control, Liam has not had a single bit of professional speech therapy. But I have been thinking about it and I am NOT that upset because I honestly believe that he was not ready. He wasn't physically ready nor was he emotionally ready. It has been in just the past three months that he has had any inclination to try.

When Liam first came to us he had what I would call, "NO Oral Awareness" he didn't use his lips or his mouth for anything- it was all guttural vowel sounds. He must have throat muscles beyond belief because that's all he uses for sound. Even after being home and knowing the difference between open and closed in other things, he could not willingly open of close his mouth. He could not deliberately stick his tongue out and move it from side to side. He would never close his mouth at the end of a word. All of his sounds were those guttural vowel sounds, but not all the vowel sounds. Ahh, uhh, something that sounded like hulllah, aaa--you get the picture. And prior to his palate surgery he drooled constantly, soaking something like 6 to 8  bibs or shirts a day. I have heard that not all palate kids drool, but ours sure did. He could not blow or pucker.

Then we had surgery. And even though his mouth healed nicely he continued to drool. His surgery was Oct 12 and his drooling didn't completely stop until this Spring sometime. Now the level of drool slowly decreased as time went on but he still drooled quite a bit until then. He will still drool quite a bit if he has a stuffy nose. His left nostril is very small and narrowed with scar tissue- and when he is tired, sometimes he forgets to control his mouth but other than that he's pretty good now.
He used to have food come out of his nose. Man, was watermelon ever fun. But after he had complete closure with his palate, we rarely see anything come out of his nose and when we do it's either chocolate or tomato sauce. From what I have read, these foods are considered dilators and this is a common thing in palate kids. He ate watermelon for three days in a row this week and I never saw a bit come out of his nose.

His food hoarding issues have nearly resolved and now the only time we see him frantically packing something in, is when he's almost done and it's something he really likes or when he wants to finish one thing so he can have a second thing.

As far as his oral awareness and oral motor skills: he can blow now, not powerful but he can do it. He can pucker at will. He can stick his tongue out and move it from side to side. He's slow and clumsy but he can do it. He will close his mouth at the end of some of his"words". We have only the mmm sound as his consonant and he can do a puh sound but it's very weak and quiet and he has to work really hard. No s sound, no r sound, no b sound, his f's and h's he tries to do with his throat through clenched teeth. he can do all of the vowel sounds on command with the proper mouth shape- though e is still hard for him. And now when he tries to talk he does make a string of vowel sounds mixed with his old reliable guttural sounds. His word for Evah is like eh-something weird and guttural-ahhh. He can do a version of the L sound too. Sometimes I can get him to do a few consonant sounds with quick vowel sounds after it- but he doesn't quite get the blending yet. He tends to get all confused and his mouth in a tangle if we do too much, so I keep it light and simple and stop when he gets it right.

We are using signs with him and that has helped  tremendously. But he was VERY resistant to learn and he was very, very uninterested for quite some time. I was so desperate for him to try anything and he just WOULD NOT. Then, one day, he made up his mind to try and voila- a switch was thrown and now he signs quite a bit.
He knows the signs for: shoes, socks, shirt, milk, water, juice, soup, eggs, bread, drink, hungry, thirsty, please, up, out, in, down, sister, mama, papa, grandma, grandpa, cat, dog, fish, bird, bug, duck, rabbit, flower, car/truck, boat, bath/shower, brush teeth, all done, thank you, share, no and sorry. That's 40. You can not understand how those 40 words make it possible for this little guy to tell us things. Again this interest in and usage of signs is in the past three months.

He has a solid routine around bedtime and nap time now. And there is very little crying. He was moved into a toddler bed when we moved here and he liked to sneak out of bed and wander around the house for a bit but (knock on wood) we may have him trained out of that. He mostly goes to bed happy and easily unless we are at Grandma's or there is company at the house.
He can and does and likes to entertain himself. He has his own room and at least once or twice a day, he will retreat there to play quietly on his own. He will call for me periodically though. He still needs to know where I am.

He obeys us for the most part. He's not as good about that kind of thing as Ev, but I think even Toddler Jesus and 7 Year Old Jesus would have a hard time following rules like our Ev.  I think he (Liam, not Jesus) is still trying hard to learn all of the ins and outs of a family life. He was such a survivor and he did that through manipulation and pure stubbornness and single-mindedness so we have a while until we see that resolved. AND you know, personality comes into play. Also he's two.
He still gets really loud and put out when he is redirected or when he's in trouble. Lots of wailing and moaning. That sort of thing. B ut it happens maybe 5 times on a bad day now, so I can totally deal.

He's funny and fun loving. He likes to play, play, play. He knows that I am the Mama and he does slightly prefer me over the other two people in the house. He has always displayed kindness and empathy. He is huggable and lovable. In many ways these days, he's just a regular two year old boy that stole our hearts. And isn't that the most amazing thing?!?! To be "regular" after two years of life in institutionalized care?!

There. I wanted that all down so I could see how far he has come. I think he's done wonderfully and I am thankful for the progress I see each day. I have to think hard about the way things used to be.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


  • Ev starts her twice a week Gymnastics training today, on the Level 3 Competition Team. Have I told you that her Gymnastics is an hour away?
  • It is hot and humid here today. 91 degrees and humidity is high- I never look at the humidity percentage because it just makes me feel worse. I will tell you that I am sweating just sitting here typing.
  • I am trying very hard to get through the summer without using the central air. I wonder how long I can last? (Smokewood Gang- have no fear the embargo will be lifted for your visit)
  • Les has begun his first official week of work here at the new locale. It seems that he may have lucked out- I am waiting for the other shoe to drop but hoping it doesn't and that we can have a nice, low key life here on the Cape.
  • Billy puked last night. There are countless square yards of hard wood and tile in this house. He managed to leave that gift right in the middle of a bathroom rug- literally inches away from tile. I love cats.
  • The previous bullet reminds me...Anyone else like that website My Cat Is A Dick?
  • While we are on the subject of different sites.... Try this, Dear Photograph. I love it.
  • Ev has reached new levels of what we like to call "Continual and Never Ceasing Requests". No kidding this kid asks for something at least every minute of the day. Her morning begins with a request and ends with several all strung together in a breath. Sometimes I can't even finish answering her about one request, before she interrupts to ask about something else. It's exhausting and I won't lie- some days it makes it truly difficult to enjoy her company.
  • I gave up most of my remaining pride and submerged myself in the kiddie pool yesterday. For a good long while. I will do the same today. Yes I will.
  • We have been going to the beach most evenings. It has been heavenly. I try to never hit the beach in the heat of the day anymore, I have learned my lesson. It's just too hot and too much.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our Fourth

     Sleeping In
     Beach Bumming

Feast Menu:
     Chili -Lime Cashews
     Deviled Eggs
     BBQ Chicken and Hot Dogs
     Macaroni Salad
     Gingered Blackberry and Black PlumShortcakes
     Coconut and Strawberry Sodas

The Ruling:
     Best Fourth Ever.


Thirty-nine Looong Years

That's what my Dad would say if you asked him how long he's been married: "Thirty-nine loooong years". And his shoulders would slump dramatically as he tried to pretend that it has seemed long. The twinkle in his eye would give him away though.
It happens to be the same response you would get from my Mom. And instead of her shoulders slumping, she would get a glint in her eye and cast my Dad a hard look.
They aren't fooling anyone though.
I have been around for a majority of those 39 years and I am here to tell you that they have enjoyed nearly every minute of that time.

Without even trying, they taught me what to look for in a marriage. They taught me how to see the good in a relationship, even on the darkest days. They taught me exactly what a wife and husband relationship should look like.

I have seen them struggle through all sorts of difficult times- we are talking about all of those big nasty things life can throw at you, and they held fast.

I have learned amy things about being  a good person and a good wife, just by growing up while they were doing that thing they do so well...

Just being themselves...

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! May you have many, many more years together. 
It sure has been fun being around.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What I Will Tell Them

Tonight we sat on the beach to watch fireworks.
We got there early so the kids could romp and play in the sand and surf. And romp they did. Les and I sat on a blanket and talked of everything and nothing. Les walked Ev down to where she thinks the mermaids come up to brush their hair. Liam fell and fell and fell in the small breakers that come off the bay. We had the last few bits of taffy that I had been saving for  just the right time.
The fireworks came and went just as the crowd did. Still, we sat there on the beach, in the night, the four of us. We sat watching the sea and listening for the song of mermaids.
Because she was worried about tiny crab like things that were crawling out of the sea and because she was worried about her beloved pink flip flops getting washed away, Ev crawled into my lap. Because she was tired, she stayed there and let me wrap my arms about her.
And we began to talk she and I, as the boys sat nearby doing their own thing.
I talked to her about when she was Liam's age and we lived in Hatteras and we went to the beach and she got cold, and how I zipped her into my jacket and how, that was the first night in her life she had ever noticed the stars. I told her how she sat there with just her head poking out of my jacket and how she whispered "Zars! Zars Mama!" over and over again. I told her how we used to walk to the beach and tell the waves of our troubles and how the waves would carry those troubles to King Neptune and how he would lock them up in a sea trunk at the very bottom of the ocean. I told her other things as well, so many little stories about her and how I have loved her.
And because she needed to hear these things, she sat and listened with her head resting back on my shoulder and a wary eye on her shoes.
And I wondered about a night in our future. Maybe a night very similar to tonight and I wondered what I would tell her.
I hope that I will remember to tell her how she had to pee in the water, how she laughingly dumped sand all over her brother's head, how she was so worried about her shoes. I hope I remember to tell her what it felt like to sit there, on the sand, with those bright blossoms of light going off in the night sky and her by my side. She and Liam, all huddled under a damp and sandy towel and resting back on me. I hope to remember to tell her how her Papa peeked over my shoulder and then he too leaned on me for a bit and how that felt, to have them all there, with me in the night. I want to tell her about who she is right now: Two loose teeth, hair that smells of sun and wind and salt water, 22 mosquito bites, long, tanned legs, that she was 7 years old but wearing a size 3T swim suit, that she fit so perfectly into my lap, that I dropped my arms once from around her and she whispered, "you can still squeeze me if you need to", that she sat and Imagined the castle that King Neptune would live in and that it was the most fabulous castle anyone could have thought of. I will remind her that she believed in fairies and mermaids. I will remind her of how knowing that hermit crabs have blue blood makes her skin crawl.
 I will remind her that I loved her this night. This night and all the nights before and all the nights to come.
Yes. That's what I will tell her. I will tell her about the love.

And what will I tell Liam?
That it was his first July 4th. That with the very first firework, he flung up his fat baby arms and yelled happily at the sky, that he clapped and laughed. I will tell him how he ran to the water and hurled himself into the breakers and how he would take a direct hit in the face yet gasp and laugh and look for more. I will tell him how he sat on Papa's lap and looked out to the sea in the night and sang his little heart out. I will tell him how he became so overcome tonight, that he stood up and just HAD to kiss his Papa. I will tell him how he looked riding home in the car, wrapped in a beach towel and talking tired nonsense and made his sister nuts. I will tell him how he said " Ah Oh OO Mama" as I told him good night.
And it seems there will be love to tell him about as well. This boy of ours. Our little savage. The one that is a continual surprise. I will tell him how I am so glad, so very glad that he was with us this night.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Watta Melon

 Nothing says summer like a big slice of cool watermelon after  a swim. Just look at the juice sliding down Liam's belly!

Happy Fourth of July!!!