Friday, March 23, 2012

The Best Seats In the House

We still miss our old house. It was OURS you see and while we like this new place, it doesn't ever quite compare in our minds. We do ok though, don't get me wrong. And we know that we have some great people and furry ones living in our "old house" (Hi Aunt Kathryn!).
The thing this new house has? The one feature I saw that made me think we could make a go here were the window seats. In each of the small bedrooms, there is a lovely little window seat, all carpeted and right at the front of the house, so they look out onto the front yard. I never said a thing to the kids, I wanted to see what they would make of them.
Evelyn uses hers for reading.
Liam uses his to play with his action figures or he sits and sings out to the world.
Today, while I cleaned the rest of the house, the kids were having "room time" and this is how I found each of them:

It seems they love the window seats, just like I was hoping they would. And I find it funny that they use them for what qualifies as contemplative time. 

Today the windows were flung open and the neighborhood was filled with bird song and the occasional tinkle from Billy's bell as he ranged about. I love that my children can enjoy quiet moments like that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Mathematics of a Migraine

I suffer from migraines.
That means that my family also suffers from migraines.
There is no easy way around that fact. When you have a member of the family that is nearly incapacitated with pain, everyone in the family is affected no matter who the person is. If the affected person happens to be a parent, the effect is multiplied exponentially.
I am not alone in this world of migraines, nor am I special. This just happens to be one facet of how I have to stitch my life together. Lord knows that there are people out there who have worse migraines than I do, migraines that hit harder, last longer, and come more often. But I do get them, and they have a powerful enough kick to leave me a stumbling, huddling, weeping mess sometimes.
I am just coming out from under one and I was thinking about how this one particular headache has affected my life, and it seems that one can begin to attach mathematical statements to the hours of pain...
I just spent 4 days in pain with this last one. So...that is about....

  • 96 hours
  • 400 mg of Imitrex
  • 2000 mg (or more) of Ibuprofen
  • 1300 mg of Tylenol
  • 6 capsules of Fiorinal
  • 6 naps (yes some days had more than one nap), aka retreating to a dark and quiet room in a feeble attempt to waylay the light and sound sensitivity.
  • 1 near syncopal episode
  • 2 missed board games with the kids
  • 1 missed game of epic hide and seek
  • 2 missed chances of being the Bad Guy in, what seemed to be, a very interesting game of Time Thievery.
  • 2 missed showers
  • 3 nights of missing other meds
  • 2 major episodes of self pity complete with crying and moaning
  • 1 husband left to do the job of two parents
  • 2 children left with a hallow cringing husk of a mother

These aren't just headaches. This is not something that skims off of the daily lives of my kids. Every morning when I get Liam from bed, he looks at me, makes the sign for pain and then gently rubs the side of my head with his warm little hands. He's asking me if my head hurts and that will tell him how his day will go. This thing affects my kids, how can it not?
Sometimes I have a migraine that I can kind of work around, I just grin and bear it and after the kids are in bed, I collapse and breathe deep and medicate myself. Sometimes, I have times when they hit so hard and so fast that I can only gasp and run for my dark bedroom and hope that Les can pick up the slack. Sometimes I lie and say that I'm fine and just suck it up if I can, because I get sick to death of dealing with this sort of math.

I only medicate when I can no longer hold up under the pain and then I medicate very conservatively. (yes the above is very conservative). I hate the side effects and the hangovers from the meds almost as much as I hate hurting, and to be honest, nothing ever really takes them away, they just get a bit far off enough that you can sleep for a bit.

So that's it. These migraines are here and they are woven into the fabric of our family, no matter my opinion on the subject.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The First and the Eighth

Today was March 17th- a big day around here normally, what with our Irish showing and the fact that it is the anniversary of our referral for Ev.
This year, we added in something else pretty cool, it was Ev's first ever Gymnastics Competition! She did wonderfully! I am so proud of her, not because she actually got ribbons and a metal and helped her team to a trophy. Nope, I am busting with pride because that girl was scared to death, she has been all week, and after a huge meltdown earlier in the week at practice, I had no idea how today would play. You know what? She walked right out there and jumped in. That is what makes me the most proud- she was afraid, but she trusted us, relied on her coaches and went for it. All of that other stuff is just icing on the cake.
If you have never been to a gymnastic meet, let me tell you, it is long (4.5 hours long today), a bit boring unless your kid is doing something, a bit chaotic, hard to film and absolutely wonderful. In the video above, it's my fault that the bar routine is out of focus, I had to hold the camera over my head and hope for the best as there was about a ton of apparatus between us and The Flying Bean. On the balance beam, I love how she kind of forgot her routine and you can see her talking away to Miss Gemma- that part was just like it is week after week in practice (she is usually quite a bit more steady on the beam though but her nerves were getting the best of her).

Also today marks 8 years since her little face burst into my heart and life. Eight years.
What can I say about this marvelous little creature that hops about my life giggling and making every single thing better just because she is there?
I love her and I am so proud of the person that she is.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Was the Middle Part?

  • The kids and I are currently addicted to what they call "Chinese Noodles" for lunch. I have two recipes but really we LOVE the one and tolerate the other when I run out of Sesame Oil. Here they are: Chinese Noodles Number One And our runner up is: Soba Noodles with Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce or what we call Chinese Noodles Number Two. If I call them anything other than Chinese Noodles , I am looked at as if I have grown another head and they won't eat them.
  • Liam is well into his potty training. I would love to say that he has it down cold but...well..he's kind of an air head. After three or four days of semi-independence with no accidents, he wanted more independence. We gave him that independence and then he started having accidents- like two or three a day! We could not figure out what was going on so we stepped up the surveillance. What we found was this: He would go to the potty, and get on the potty but he would forget to pull his pants down! So he would be on the potty and therefor pee, but then he would notice that his pants were still on but it would be too late! Really! Boys. What can I say?
  • I am feeling lots and lots better recently. I have been on the Synthroid for almost 6 weeks now and I can really tell a difference. It's not perfect, I still have very little stamina and I seem to still desperately need at least 10 hours of sleep and a nap...but my mentation is improving, my personality is coming back and I have new hair growth coming in.
  • We have had several truly beautiful Spring days and I have a terribly hard time making Ev sit in the house working away at Math and Spelling when the world is beckoning to us so strongly... 
  • I haven't been picking up my camera alot lately. I go through phases and the nice weather will get me back in the habit. But really we mostly just do school and the trips for ST and Gymnastics so it's not all that interesting even if my kids are adorable.
  • Ev has only 4 days until her Competition. Her nerves are still jangly but she is practicing hard and following our advice (shocker!) of thinking positive thoughts. Also her friends told her that they too are getting nervous and that helped her to know that she wasn't the only one nervous.
  • Liam is Liam! Right now it's all about the potty, his bike and his pathological need to be every where Sissy is, to have everything Sissy has, to say everything Sissy says- it's funny in a way but I wonder when he will get a bit more independent of her?
  • We bought a new couch today but I have to wait 8 weeks for it to get here. 

Friday, March 9, 2012


Evelyn is gearing up for her first ever gymnastics competition.
It will take place on March 17, the eighth anniversary of her referral.
She is a nervous wreck about it.
As we drove home last night along the dark highway, just she and I, she talked in a tiny tremulous voice about her fears. She is worried about how many people will be watching her, if she will do well, will her coaches be close enough, can they at least give her high fives or shout out the next move if she gets stuck. She told me that she even asked her friends and they aren't all that nervous so why is she?
I tried to be reassuring. I put a brave face on and I said all of the things I think a Mama is supposed to say at a time like this: It is okay to be afraid and nervous, just do your best and have fun, the first one is the hardest because it is all unknown and unfamiliar, you are ready, you have practiced, your coaches will be there, you won't be alone...
But I keep thinking about this tiny 37 pound girl walking out onto that floor, all alone in a twinkly blue leo to whip that muscly frame about while these unknown adults judge her and... well, to be honest it makes me a bit queazy. This tiny, white hot star of a girl, all alone out there in the middle of a huge gym, tumbling and flipping and being afraid and nervous. I really just want to pull her onto my lap and tell her not to worry, we won't go, we're good.
Then I think about her as a gymnast, how she loves it, how her natural grace helps her BE a gymnast and I know this is something she has to face, we have to face. She can do it and she will be great. Medal or no, trophy or no. She will be a champion because she went out there and did her thing even though she was afraid.

Brevin is Six

A birthday took place. My nephew turned six.
If you had been at the bowling party my sister put on, you would not have thought twice about it. It was you typical, normal, oh so loud and kooky kids birthday party.
There he was amongst his friends and cousins and sisters, smiling big, wanting to bowl more, eat the cake, open presents and all about 3 minutes before his Mommy was ready for that particular activity. He laughed and joked and goofed off with classmates, he was more than happy to open the vast array of gifts brought in.
It was all so very normal and happy.
And that is the part that choked me up, time and time again.
It was all normal.
He was here with us and he turned six.
A normal boy having a normal birthday on an oh so glorious normal day.

He is the first boy in my heart. He is my Brevin. He is klutzy and goofy, funny and wild. He is loved.
Happy Birthday to one of the coolest boys that I know.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What's In A Name?

Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam.
My son has under 10 words that he can clearly say and be understood.
His name is one of them.
Liam. Liam. Liam.
He says his name about 673 times a day- in different tones, in different cadences, as a part of bigger and more grand statements. But always and forever, the "Liam".
And I love it.
It's not annoying at all, and I am not being sarcastic. It's truly not.
It's endearing and cute and lovable.
Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam.
And as I listen to his little song of self, hour after hour and day after day, I am eternally grateful that we chose that particular name for him.
We knew he was cleft affected and we knew speech would be an issue and it was of utmost importance that he have a name that he could pronounce. Luckily we have always liked the name Liam. And he kind of looked like a Liam, in a Chinese kind of way.
And so he is Liam. And he knows he is Liam. And he can say it.
He doesn't like to be called anything else. His family nick name? Moosh? It's a running joke around here how he will always stop and say, "No Moo. Leee-uummm".
And I have wondered about this.
Maybe it's just because his vocabulary is so severely limited and it's one of the words he can say. And maybe it's because that one word is tied in with his developmental stage, the "me" stage.
Yes, all of that might be true but there is a whisper in my heart that tells me it's also something more.
It took him a long time to answer to that name, and during that time, we could not get him to respond to either his Chinese "orphanage nickname" nor his Chinese formal name, and that fact leads me to believe that maybe he wasn't called those names, not really. Maybe he had a different nickname with his foster family. If he did, no one ever told me what it was- I know because that would have been one important fact and I would have burned it into my heart.
He was also called "Zane" in his Love Without Boundaries updates. Again, this is not a name he ever heard, it was just a name that organization used to identify him within their system.
That whisper tells me that he never really had a name. That maybe he was a boy and that was enough until we came along. Maybe not answering to any particular name was a part of his grieving process but there is still that whisper...
That whisper tells me that to his little heart, that name, that word, that sound he learned to associate with himself- maybe that word also means family to him. Maybe it also stands for love and trust and faith and a life that is ever blissfully not changing. Not the big things anyway.
I think this because he never answered or responded to Liam in any meaningful way until we felt like he was settling in, until we felt like some trust was being built up and banked away.
Maybe my husband will read this and think that I am leaning towards the melodramatic again. Maybe you will read this and think that I am full of malarky. But my mother's heart is whispering to me and I listen and, to me, that is the only thing that matters.
To him, his name means: forever, family, love, mama, papa, sissy, mine, me, me too, safety, food, warmth, toys.
To me, his name means that I have a son and he has me.