Friday, April 27, 2012

Things We Are Learning

Since Papa has been gone, we have been learning a few things. Things like:

  • Mama is a perpetual cupboard door leaver opener face. Honestly, my kitchen looks like that scene in The Sixth Sense by the time I'm done cooking. Apparently Les comes behind me and closes them as I cook.
  • Mama is the one that doesn't put a new roll of tp on the roller. Who knew?
  • Liam is more affected than I thought he would be. He is having nightmares and sleepwalking.
  • Evelyn is just as affected as I thought she would be but she is holding up and being strong.
  • Construction paper chains really help children get a grasp of time- both elapsed time and countdown-wise.
  • Eating pizza twice in one week is a bit much, even for me.
  • There is no such thing as too many episodes of Mad Men in one day.
  • Skype, Facetime calls, texting and iphones make a huge difference when a member of the family is far away.
So we are surviving, just as I suspected we might. Evelyn is finding that she is holding on but she doesn't want me to know it, so if I ask, she gets a bit dramatic and morose. Overall I think that Ev showing her emotions is great, even if it tends to be a bit heavy on the melodrama, especially when the issue is of this nature. We have worked very hard trying to teach her how to open up and let us help her. I have just stood back and let her talk about it when and how she wants.

I am tired though. Oh so very tired. My hats off to single Moms.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Temporary But Awful Just the Same

Today we drove our Papa an hour a half away, and in the rain, we said goodbye and he boarded a plane.
We are looking at 5 weeks without him. 35 days.
We drove home and walked into the house and it felt smaller and darker and much less homey without him here. I guess it's just the knowing how long we will be without him.
For me, this is an all too familiar cycle.
We get the word that he is being sent away. I hate it and throw multiple fits and I have at least one day where I get mad at him, then I enter my denial phase.
Then he starts to pack.
And I drive him to some stinking airport somewhere and I come home alone.
Then I look at the calendar, map the days and I just try to survive until the half way mark- because after that half way mark, it's all down hill. Except for the last three days which take on a hell all of their own...
At the beginning, you only listen to sad music, watch depressing movies and eat junk food. Towards the end, you listen to happy pop songs, you watch comedies and you frantically try to make up for x amount of days of eating like a college freshman....

But its been awhile and I'm out of practice. And this time I am left here with two kids who are already beside themselves with missing him. Ev has known and she can process the exact length of time he will be gone. Liam just knows he is gone now and that an airplane was involved and that Papa won't be home tonight, he says "Oh Man!", and slaps his forehead whenever we talk about it. Evelyn cried quietly in the car for awhile as we drove home and then she let herself fall asleep.

Ev is a Papa's girl- through and through. Ev feels things very deeply and she frets and worries and just gets all worked up. She has been crying at night for a week now, I wonder what tonight's bedtime will bring?

I can handle my own loneliness and missing him- hers is unbearable.

Well, it looks like Netflix, junk food and lots of lovins to get us through tonight...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On Raising Girls

To say we have put a lot of thought into raising our children would be a big understatement for, in fact, it is kind of all Les and I ever think about. The thing that I have noticed though, is that is seems so much easier to help a boy find his place in Society than it is a girl. We basically have to keep him from bonking his head around too much, make sure he doesn't choke on luggage, or foamy mosaic pieces, or on hoarded food (sadly all of those examples are taken from Liam's personal history), we have to teach him general respect and courtesy, we have to teach him strength of character, goal setting, stick-to-it-ivity... you know, really just your basic steps for becoming a respectable adult.
But with a daughter? Whoa. You have to teach her all of that stuff, plus how to be Princess Leia, Michelle Obama, Jodi Foster, Madame Curie, Katherine Hepburn and Grace Kelley. You have to teach her that Society is tough and is looking for ways to keep her down, you have to teach her how to be tough and soft, assertive and empathetic. And yes, all of those characteristics are good for a boy child to have and if we do it right, he will. Its just that with a girl, you have to make sure she knows that she is in for a fight.

We were at the park the other day, Ev was in gymnastics so it was just Mowgli and The Parents. As we sat watching our very clumsy, gravity incompetent 3 year old climb a 10 ft slide over and over again, this little girl approaches. She is about 4 or 5 maybe. She had been walking around tentatively for a few minutes and she finally decided she wanted to do the slide. She ran up to it, and just as her little hands wrapped around the ladder...her Female Caregiver (mom? grandma?) calls her back and tells her, "Oh! That slide is not for you, that is for big kids. You can't do that one". And then I choked and gasped and died a little inside for this little girl. But she didn't give up. A few minutes later, she tried again, only to be told this second time, that, "That big slide is for the boys. You don't want to do what the boys do."  This second attempt of hers went down just as we were leaving to pick Ev up and if I would have had the time, as God is my witness, I would have taken that little girl on that slide myself! What was her takeaway from that day at the park? How many more days will she have like that? What will her self image be like when she's 15 or 20 or 35?

It is very important to Les and I that our children both be confident, well rounded people who never once believe someone if they are told that they "can't do it". It is my goal in life to have a boy that cooks and a daughter that can change the oil in her car. It is my intention to let my kids fall and get scuffed up if it means that they learn to climb the big slide. It is my intention to push them and cheer them on to whatever goals their amazing minds come up with. It is my intent to see them out in the world fighting for what they want and getting it because they don't know how to give up.

Friday, April 20, 2012

*And see the way that light attaches to a girl

There is an inherent unfairness to being a parent, you are supposed to be the responsible one, you are supposed to direct the growing and evolving of these beings that move in and out of your days. You can not just sit back and bask in their magic every moment of the day, you can try(and I do) but eventually you will need to feed them, or teach them, or tell them to stop hitting their brother with a book... and all of those domestic chores can pile up and turn into this magic stealing monster if you let them.
I try not to.
I have this little daughter in my life, she is all at once the most beautifully simple and wearingly complex person that I have ever encountered. She shines with an inner light made of pure happiness and joy that can be seen from miles away. She has this empathy for others that leaves me staggered in its wake. She can giggle and babble and chat all day and just when you think she's missed something, she will turn, look at you and lay down some deep insight.
And seeing her mind and spirit work is like watching dust motes dance in a sunbeam. You sit there wrapped in your own normalcy, mesmerized by her, you are held captive by her beauty both inside and out and all you can do is hold your breath and watch and wonder if you haven't glimpsed some secret the Universe is trying to whisper.
She can run and twirl so fast her edges blur.
She laughs and jokes and every time you hear that little chuckle, you gasp in gratitude that she is here and you can be near her.
Everything she does she does completely. Not a single detail missed, not a single oversight.
I wonder sometimes if it is her strict web of inner rules or if it is her magic that holds her together and propels her though her days.
I wonder if she will ever, in a million years be able to comprehend the depth of love and wonder I hold in my heart for her.
* that title is a line from a Counting Crows song.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Big Question

As an adoptive parent, you find that over time, you will ask yourself the same question over and over when it comes to your children...
"Is this an adoption thing or a personality thing?"
It actually is a pretty big issue because of what you are seeing is an "adoption thing" and it also carries negative connotations, then you have to deal with that. Well, really we, as parents (and I do mean the collective "we") try to face down all issues we think might be impacting our children negatively but with the adoption spectrum, you have to go about it all in a slightly different way than if it's just a simple "personality thing" or a "stage".

I'll give you a for instance:
Liam still gets very frantic when it comes to food, and he also seems to exhibit his highest emotional times with meal time. We have moved beyond the food hoarding and we are well beyond the "feeding him every two hours like an infant phase" (THANK GOD) but I am still seeing some issues and, as his Mama, I have to sit back and watch and evaluate to see what we are dealing with here.
It goes like this: If I am handing anything out- anything at all that can be ingested, and I hand it to Evelyn first, we see in Liam this absolute panic and manic behavior until he gets his fair share. Now, this only lasts about 5 seconds and if you weren't his parents, I doubt that you would even notice. I have noticed it though and because it seems to be coinciding with some other food or meal time things that I am seeing, it makes me start to wonder.
So we watch and wait to see if this is just "normal", and yes, I know that there is a certain level of "me too! me too!" that is absolutley normal for his age group- or if this is pointing at something that goes a bit deeper.

I read an article or blog entry once titled something like "The F-word of Adoption" and this article talked about how adopted children, particularly Internationally Adopted, post-institutionalized children have food issues and how food is ties directly to trust.

And so we watch.
And adjust where needed.
And we play fair with the kids.
And we love him and squeeze him and try to be what he needs.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Uncle Mike and Co.

Make a video - it's fun, easy and free!

Our visitors are here. Uncle Mike and Aunt Jessica and Robbie and Wyatt and ....... Riley! I will say that Riley has stole the hearts of every single person in this house. We have been having lots of fun, lots of gaming and a trip to the zoo.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Most Important Sign of All

Liam has learned a new sign. It is one that I have been trying and trying to teach him and he just nailed it last week. Its the sign for "family" and I have come to understand that, for a child who has been home with his family for less time than he was without them, for a child that can only express himself through signs or a picture exchange, for a child that may wonder if this situation he's in right now will last, for a child that might wonder sometimes if this is the end of the line, no more changes, no new people....for this child of mine, this was and is the single most important sign.

Family. "Ahm-ee Mom"

It is really a simple word for a such an idea of complexity and permanency and really so important for all adopted children to begin to understand. Your family is your foundation and if you have spent the first part of your life with no family, nothing permanent, no group of people to claim you, no Mama or Papa or Sissy of your very is very difficult to have faith in this new group of people who seem to be be taking care of you and liking you. It is hard for you to comprehend love and family but the start of the realization of  "family" in your heart and bones begins with the word.


 And you know what? He is getting it. He really is. He is using his new sign at very telling times.
Yesterday at our Easter dinner, he looked around at us all, smiling and watching and at last, he called me...
"Yes, Liam?"
"Aahm-ee" (as he makes his new sign)
And he points to each one of us in turn and does this little hand flip of his that means "many" or "all".
And he sat there, smiling big and he looked very pleased with himself but, he also looked happy and relaxed.

This morning, he and his sister stood watching out of the patio doors, watching for a slip of orange fur to make an appearance so they could fuss at him one last time before he (the cat) sat off on his morning rounds. And as they stood there, Liam slowly leaned into his Sissy and wrapped his chubby little arms around her. They stood there like that, close and quiet for a few moments, and then he turned to me, smiled big and made the sign again.


Yes, my sweet boy, we are your family and we will be forever.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012

Well, Easter is all over. Evelyn has rated it a five star holiday and Liam's Easter basket looks like it never had any candy in it, so I guess it was a hit. We really did have a nice day, the weather was the nicest that I can remember for years, and although we didn't do a thing that people would call amazing- it was an amazing day. We got up early and watched the kids exclaim over their baskets and they started eating candy the minute they got their hot little hands on some (and they didn't really stop until bed time). We watched Rango and laughed until we cried. There was a nap. There was playing out side, there was an egg hunt, a family dinner, Skyping with Smokewood and then bedtime.
Tonight they went to bed tired and happy and full of anticipation for some very special visitors to head our way tomorrow....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Funny Bunnies


Last night I had a dream that I had a husband but it wasn't really MY husband. There was this man in my life and he was there and parenting my children but it was all ...wrong. Wrong because it wasn't Leslie but in my dream state I could not recognize that, in the dream I just knew that it wasn't right, something was off. Then I heard a noise and I was roused form my dream and I rolled over and there he was. Mine own Leslie, quietly going about his morning, getting ready for work and trying his best not to wake me. I was so thankful that he was there, or HERE in my life with me, I was so glad to see his sleepy face in the dim morning light. All became right in my world again and I drifted back to sleep as he snuck out of the house to go earn a buck.
 I woke again a few minutes later and I lay there in the quiet, thinking and remembering and wondering how I ever got lucky enough to have a man like him in my life.
He takes me as I am. All the bumps, bruises, ugly spots...all of the good, all of the bad and all of the inbetween. He loves me for who I am, who I have the potential to be and the girl that I was.
I called him yesterday in the midst of my Easter Basket Shopping Frenzy. This was his afternoon off and this was about the 5th call that I had  made to him, he answered the phone full of patience and wondering what I was calling about now. Well, I needed a tally on plastic eggs, plastic grass and baskets.... He had to call me back with the information as he would have to climb to the attic and drag down my tote of Easter Crap to get that tally. Now, he knows how I love to spoil the kids on the holidays, it's pathological really, but it is who I am. So he told me, you have 4 baskets, lots of eggs, enough grass for two baskets, so if they are getting two baskets a piece you will need more grass...."
That right there is why I love him so and why I am so lucky. He thinks is absolutely ridiculous that a single child would have more than one basket on Easter morning, but he also knows that in the past, my frenzy has taken over and there has been, what we will call, "overflow". He patiently accepted many calls form me on his afternoon "off", he clambered up to the attic at my request...
He is not intimidated by me, he does not do nice things for me just to keep me quiet, he does nice things for me because he is nice, because he loves me and likes to see me happy. And he is tolerant of my child spoilage because he knows why I do it, he understands their origins and my obsessive need sometimes try to make up for things. He understands this because he genuinely and truly loves us all and he does his best every day to be his best for us.

I am not writing these things to brag. I am writing them because he reads my blog and I want him to know how much I love him and that I see him and the multitude of small things he does just to see me smile, or just to give me a hand or just because he is head over heels in love with our kids.