Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Celebrations Are At An End

Well, we have come to the end of the celebrations for Ev's eighth birthday. It was complete with a tea party, a beach day, a going to see Brave in the theater day, a birthday day (with presents and cake), presents from near and far, cards and missives from family, phone calls, balloons, and last but not least -a day in a skiff out in the harbor fishing with her Papa.
Our aim is not to spoil with  material things but to spoil our children with our time and collective family memories so, well played there!
Ev has stated this this is her "best birthday ever" and it has also been written in at least five of her little journals so I'm taking that as the official word on this one.

And I'm spent....

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mooshy Pot Pie

I was taking part in an online discussion recently about they whys and wherefores of gender decisions in the minds and hearts of adoptive parents and that set off almost two weeks of heavy thinking and soul searching on my part.
Really, no thought went into checking the girl box on the paperwork the first time. We were adopting from China, we were going the NSN route (non-special needs) and we had been told that meant girl. We were just naive enough not to question it and really it didn't matter to us either way so we didn't. We didn't question.
The second time around though we were a whole lot smarter about many , many things where adoption was concerned and most particularly where the perspective adopted child was concerned. So when it came time to check that gender box we were very determined to make sure that everyone between us and the CCAA knew that a boy was totally copacetic. Now Les was all gung-ho for a boy, all of the way- and I was a bit reserved on that matter in my heart of hearts, but I had learned too much about the plight of little boys with special needs in the heart of China to NOT check that boy box too.  (BUUUUUT)I wanted Ev to have a sister.
I wanted her to have a sister the way I have a sister. There is nothing like it. If you are lucky enough to have a sister that is close then you know, there is nothing that can ever quite take the place of that relationship. You will never be alone as long as you can piss your sister off.
The Universe saw fit to bring us Liam. We forged ahead and all of those fears about sisterhood, a daughter being a daughter for life... brothers and sisters, sister-in-law's... it all was out of my head until this recent online conversation. Then I started worrying again. What if... what if... wouldn't a sister....
But you see there was The Moosh. He's here! And. He. Is. Ours. And. Was. Meant. To. Be. And I never ever ever ever ever could think that having him was some sort of mix up so what that what did that leave me?
I had to look at what was happening here in my own home. I had to look at what my oh so complicated, oh so sophisticated, oh so independent daughter was learning from a veritable little monkey man. Because as a mother, the one thing that I have learned for sure, write that shit in stone, is this: it is so not about me, ever, not for one single solitary moment, it is about them, always. The two of them. My children and what they need and if I forget that? They will remind me. And if they are too busy to get to it, The Universe will remind me. SO the bonus is that he happens to be exactly the little guy that I needed but the REAL issue here is this:
Liam is the exact brother that Evelyn needed in her life and she is the sister that he needed in his.
All of the trust issues that I have fretted over with her for years and years? Well, as she watches Liam trusting us and showing emotions publicly and you know, not bursting into flames or being unable to sustain his own life- she is slowly but surely starting to mimic him and it is good for her. I could have spent years talking myself blue in the face about it being ok to cry and let me know when she was sad but seeing her brother get some serious face time over that stuff has made her see that it's ok and she has let her guard come down. I have talked about this before, yes. It's just that, it keeps happening in these small increments and it's so good for her - I'm just amazed. The girl demanded a kiss from me in the middle of the grocery store today! She cried at the movie theater!She is talking to us when she is sad or mad or upset! These are all very great things for our little stoic wonder.

And all of those little lazy lima bean issues I fret over for him? Well? Having a sister that is a human combustible engine really fires up the old competitive bones and keeps him moving. He is also so very sick and tired of hearing her fuss over his messes that he is oh so slowly getting the idea of cleaning up after himself.

And as my husband, who has two sisters that he is very close with says, "The relationship between brothers and sisters can be great your whole life too. Just because it's not something you had, doesn't mean there's no value to it". He is so right. I have also had to look at the many women I know who have sisters they don't get along with and don't value the way I value mine.
So here's to my Mooshy Pot Pie! He may not be able to fight gravity off for very long, he may not be able to remember why he walked into a room, he might not get that he CAN move his plate closer to his body, he might slam his head into mailboxes, get stuck in step-stools, get stuck under side tables, he might trip over oxygen...but he is exactly the boy we were waiting for.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Many Happy Returns

What can be said when your daughter turns from her seventh year, shaking it off like an old dusty coat and turns bright faced into her eighth? What do you do when you wake up one morning and look at her and realize that she has lost every single ounce of baby chub you worked so hard to pack onto her frame and now she is a sleek gazelle of a girl? How do you adjust your eyes to the new light patterns that refract off of her as she morphs from a baby into a little girl on the verge of something bigger... ineffable?
You don't speak, you stand mute before her.
There is nothing you can do, you are helpless in her wake.
You can not adjust, you are a hapless victim of her metamorphosis.
So she turns eight and the honor of witnessing her growth and maturation belongs to Les and I. To see her begin to get brighter and brighter and spread out into the world like a winter sunrise is the most miraculous, spiritual, private and mesmerizing event that I have ever been privy to. Words in my native tongue fail me utterly at this point, and I suspect that from here on out I will be left faltering and floundering in an attempt to put to words what it is to be this near to such a person as she, as she grows.

Sometimes in stories there are these magic items, items of great power, items that have deep and ancient magic hidden within but somehow these objects become hidden and covered over to resemble every day objects. Mostly they perform just like their everyday counterparts but, when the right person is looking, or the light is just right, or the moon is full, or a wizard says the right words... the magic flares up and burns off the every day. Well, that's about what it's like being Evelyn's parents.
Most of the time, she is just a regular kid, laughing and joking and making toot jokes or driving me nuts with the fussing. But then...oh then... the light will hit her hair just right, or she will turn her head just so, or her brother will fall and need her succor, or she will say some freakishly deep statement about a movie or a book or a family situation and all of that everyday burns right off and we get a glimpse of what truly makes up her spirit.
And it is blinding.
And makes me realize that she is amazing.

So Happy Birthday to my magic bringer, may her eighth year be all that she can imagine and a bit more for good measure. May she find all of the lost things, may she hold on just a bit longer to the pure innocence and free spiritedness of childhood.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fathers, Daddies and Papas

Sometimes in life you get lucky and that's good. Great even. The nature of luck makes it so that if you have good luck, it will most likely snowball and then, you will continue to have good luck.
In my case, I was lucky enough to be born to great parents and end up with Jack as my Dad. ( My Mom is pretty excellent too but this is Father's Day so I'm working on a theme here).
Having Jack as a Father was a pretty singular experience. It was akin to being raised by a fellow child that could drive...but... that's not quite it either because that implies that what he did was silly and goofy and undirected and that wasn't it at all, how he and my mom raised us was so much more, so much better than that. His fatherhood was much more tailored than that. There was silliness when we needed it, discipline when the situation called for it, there was always love and respect, and the occasional Ninja outfit....My sister and I were seen for who we were at every stage of our lives, we were given love and respect (yes, I already said that but it is very important to give that to your children and those are the two things that I am most thankful for), we were given the best of what they had, every day- I am talking about the best of themselves here. They were the best that they could be for us, day after day, year after year and it continues into today for our children, their grandchildren.

 I had this great Daddy when I was a little thing. A Daddy that could drive the fastest, pick me up the highest, he could be the funniest, he was the best. As I grew older he became my Dad. I realized he was pretty smart- book smart and smart about life. I started to see that he made sacrifices for his family and as a pre-teen and a teenager I had no words within me to thank him, to tell him that I saw who he was.

Then as I got older even and started to date, this is where the luck of having him as a father paid off. I got to look around and compare. I got to see that I had a pretty great Dad and I realized very quickly that I really didn't want to settle for anything less in life. I grew up in a house with a man that was an excellent husband and a terrific father, that was luck. I could either place value on that luck and pursue a man that was like my own Dad or I could go the other way.... I chose to try my best and get a guy that was like my Dad.

Some guy that really and truly liked his family. Some guy that would consider me a friend. Some guy that would spend his life being a steward for the children we had in our lives. Some guy that would make me laugh and protect me. Some guy that would help me.

I have two very excellent men in my life.
My Mom found one, I found the other.
One is my Daddy.
The other, a Papa to my children, my husband.
Jack and Leslie- I love you both.
Happy Father's Day.
Thank you both for loving me.
Even if you get together and "girl watch" occasionally.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stories of China

Every once in awhile we find ourselves navigating a deep emotional family discussion. As an adoptive family the topic selection can be, and often times is, an emotional minefield. Sometimes though you get lucky and you find that the Big Talk you are currently in with your very-soon-to-8 year-old is how she has been sneaking books late and night and reading until midnight or so.
Then you find that you are in this conversation about reading and books and before you know it, there is this real ~ REAL~ dinner conversation happening. About books. With your 7 year old. How cool is that?
You realize too that it's also about choices and her growing up and you begin to work that into the conversation and before you know it, you are outright begging her making very thinly veiled pleas for her to home home for Christmas when she is 25- but I digress.
Through her comments you begin to see that she really has been a bit upset thinking that she might be in trouble, even though for three days now this has been an open and ongoing discussion and you have repeatedly told her that it's ok. I thought it might be time to just put it all out there for her, so I did. I told her that she was almost 8 now and what was I going to say? She knew when we had things to do the next day, she knew that once I put her to bed she shouldn't be making noise and having a hooplah and making a bunch of requests, I let her know that her Papa and I knew she had been up reading and we didn't mind ("You knew?!?!"). I basically informed her that this was our way of letting her know that we trust her, that she's cool, that we are trying to let go a bit and see what she can do. I think she got it. I think she was pleased. She might have mentioned something about coming home for Christmas when she was 25 if she wasn't too busy....
My point is this, when we talk emotional stuff and she ends up feeling happy and secure, she always wants to finish with us telling her stories of when we met her in China.
And so we do.
The story of "The Big Room and How We Met"
The first time she smiled at me.
The story of how she pooped all over a red couch in a hotel.
How Mama was so hungry she stole bread from Papa.
How she was so tiny.
Why we started calling her Butter Bean.
How Papa nearly burned down the hotel and she slept through it.
Her first bottle with us.

The funny thing is that I find this with Liam too. When he is very happy and secure in a family moment , he looks around and tells what he can of his China story. "Mama, You, Sissy, come China, get baby Liam. Home. We. All. Family." "AAA UUU OOO" ( I love you).
And so his China stories begin.

And I will proudly tell them their stories of China, whenever and wherever they want to hear them because those are the stories of my family.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Boys Versus Girls

We were on a family walk tonight over at the beach. Les and I were kicking a soccer ball about and Ev was running along the surf line and Liam was bobbing along between us, occasionally landing face first in the sand, like he does... he came across a patch of sea foam and it surprised him because he's never paid attention to it and well, he did what a boy does. He stomped it to smithereens.
As we walked along I got to thinking about that and why it struck me as being so funny and odd and kind of different. It's because my first child is a girl. Now, the things I am about to say will not be considered profound by anyone who has both girl children and boy children but it all sort of washed over me today and left me amused.
You can sort them into two camps by how they are going to react to two major stimulus groups: something unknown and something dead.
Lets look at the something unknown:
A girl: will be the more varied of the study group. She can have several variants of basically two major reactions based upon her overriding emotional state that day.  She can either go all fraidy cat or she can go mystical. I prefer the mystical route. For instance, a girl comes across some sea foam, it's unknown...must be...mermaids! Yes! That's it! Something, something, mermaids, something! Chitter chatter wonder amazement! Mark the occasion! MER-FREAKING-MAIDS-WERE-HERE-ZOMFG!!!!! OR She will weep uncontrollably until she is taken home and given ice cream.
A boy: Will stomp that shit into the earth and run until he finds more to stomp. He will gleefully eradicate. every. last. bit. And only think of ice cream because his sister mentioned it.
Lets see what happens when they come across something dead:
A girl: EEEEEEWWWWWWW!!!!!!OR she go all sciency for a bit and poke at it unti she sees something gross then, EEEEEWWWWW!!!! OR, if her emotions are running high a very romantic and involved burial might need to take place, you know, something that involves lace and tears and poetry. After the funeral, she'll be so upset that she will need ice cream to calm he beleaguered soul.
A boy: Well that depends on the size of the dead thing doesn't it? Dead bug? Call for Mama. Small dead mammal?Pick it up and play with it until your mother catches you and decides that she must quarantine you and call the CDC- no wait she better save that call to the CDC for the time you inevitably come across a dead LARGE mammal and immediately become Han Solo on the surface of Hoth and the animal is now a dead Tauntaun and you are not going to survive the oncoming night so you have to slice open the belly and climb inside and pull in the unconscious form of your closest friend so you guys can live to fight off The Imperial Forces and somebody still has to seriously snog Leia...and instead you get a bath in Lysol and a lesson about poking dead moles with sticks. He won't think of ice cream until his sister suggests that he might feel better after that stinky Lysol bath if he had some.

Then theres also this----
Raising boys: Ur Doing it Wrong Acshully

And Raising Girls----
Ummm yes acshully that's it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Boy

                              Sons are the anchors to a mother's life   ~Sophocles

They come into your life different than girls, right from the start. They come in crashing and banging, stomping and growling. They are dinosaurs and knights. They are monsters and puppies. They scoot and huff. Holler and bungle.
OH! But if you wait for it- there is a softness there that is something entirely of its own origin. A sweetness, a roundness, a slobbery kiss given at the most wonderfully unexpected moments.
A son can wrap you up and drag you down as his prisoner and you are willing to go. You are his, body and soul. And you longed for him every moment of your life. And you never knew.
You simply never knew the joy that would come from having such a wild, soft, noisy, wonderful thing at your side.

At three, my little guy is such a fun mix of things so strange and wild that it can all come only from the mind and will of a child. We just stand back and watch him and shake our heads in wonder at what he will think to do next. He loves his purple wizard hat and sees absolutely no contradiction in wearing it while playing football or while wizarding or while capturing a warrior maiden for that matter. His favorite book is a calm sleepy book about barn owls but his favorite toys are swords and battle axes. He loves to ride his bike up and down the quiet streets of our neighborhood while belting out odes to his Mama or singing about the deep blue summer sky. He is clumsy and falls over air, exactly like his cousin, but he is strong and gets up and runs off, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying.
"I help you Mama?" is the thing I hear him say most throughout the day. He just wants to be here with me, doing whatever it is I happen to be doing. Sometimes we will be doing something, it can be anything really, but he will get so overcome with happiness that he will stop whatever it is and run at me with his lips already puckered making the "mmmm" sound and lay a big kiss on me- just because he is happy. 
The other day he did this at the beach, he had run all of the way to the water line, decided that he was overcome with joy, turned and ran all of the way back to me, kissed me and then ran back and jumped in the ocean, his expression of thanks and joy complete. How can I not be completely in love with a boy such as this? 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Head Scramble

  • Some folks may wonder why I would post and talk about having such a bad parenting day with my kids, well... That's because I try to have this blog be as close to a real journal as possible for myself and I need to get that stuff out there too. And let's face it, we all need to read that other people have shitty days too because zomfg!
  • I have been utterly and completely freaked out about Lyme's Diseases for awhile now and my damnable cat keeps coming home with ticks. Gahhh.
  • I have decided that Topamax may be my own personal miracle drug.
  • Did you know that if you send a three year old out of the room you are in because you NEED some quiet, he will go three rooms away and find a mother trucking recorder to play?! I bet you didn't know that.
  • I have discovered that a book written in the 1970's about the British Navy in the 1800's can be a laugh out loud romp. I am talking about Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. Thank you Les for encouraging me to read the series. It really is one of the best books I have ever read.
  • I used to have two vices. Drinking Caffeine Free Diet Coke like it was going out of Style - no really 6-8 cans a day- and cussing. Now thanks to the Topamax, I have had to quit the Coke cold turkey (and yes I am grieving all official like with the real Kubler Ross Stages and all)(and the bonus of near Trainspotting-esque withdrawal)  but unless they invent a pill that makes the cuss words taste like hot vomit water in my mouth....well...I will continue to have a vocabulary that makes my mother sigh with dismay. Sorry Mom. I'm down to one vice and this one won't give me some weird cancer or that's good. Right?
  • I felt like the cussing needed to be addressed because, elephant in the room? Man. There's like three and a stand in up there. I am such a lady. Well, we all have our talents. I can crochet and I can cuss. Not as divergent as you would think.
  • We have had The Hangover in from Netflix for three days now and we just can't seem to put it in and watch it. Methinks we may not be that interested. We'd rather read books about the British Navy in the 1800's. Nerds.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sometimes The Loving Can't Be The Thing

And it's not the loving that's at fault. It's not that your love isn't there or big enough or selfless enough. It's that it's sometimes impossible to keep it all right there at the forefront and then you get all human and things deteriorate and by the time the kids are down for an early bedtime, you look at yourself in the mirror and turn away in disgust.
I can't figure out how to be one of those Mom's that never looses her cool. I try and try. I could sit here and type paragraph after paragraph about how the kids drove me to loosing my cool tonight but in reality I AM THE ONE THAT LOST MY COOL.
I am the grown up. The responsibility is mine.
I know that ultimately it's ok if a mom yells at her kids once in awhile and everyone is sent to bed early and crying. No lasting damage was done. There will be apologies and explanations and trying harder and doing over. It's ok that the kids see us dealing with anger and frustration. It's ok that they see we can, and do apologize.

It just doesn't stop us from feeling like terrible people once we have calmed down and the house is too quiet, too early.

Let us be clear for the sake of the Internet and the Grandma. Some yelling occured. Mama stomped about a bit, talking loudly and making large gestures with her arms. Mama made it clear how very fed up she is with certain repetitive bad behaviors. The children noticed.

I love them dearly and I would dearly love a do over for most of today- not just this dinner time fiasco.


Monday, June 4, 2012

My Girl

                                      "And though she be but little, she is fierce."
                                                                                                   -Ole Willy

She weighs 37 pounds soaking wet at age 8 (well almost 8). She is the human embodiment of the phrase "spring steel and rawhide". She has six pack abs and her leg muscles ripple when she walks, runs, hops, skips or jumps. She can shimmy to the top of our street sign. She can back down kids years older than her and twice or three times her size if she thinks they are being mean to someone else, "someone smaller".  She cooks. She can help her Papa change the oil in the cars. She climbs trees. She is forever and always doing something gymnastic-y. She is a Math Whiz. She is kind. She is funny. She can smack talk with the best of them during video games. She will set up a blockade in Parcheesi and NOT move it, not matter how many dark looks her Mama gives her. She never thinks for a moment that she can't do something she sets her mind to. She sincerely believes that the only reason she can't drive is because she can't reach the pedals yet. She can run for 2 miles and not stop, she can bike forever. She can tend her brother's wound with the skill of a field nurse or the tenderness of a Big Sissy- whatever the situation calls for. She loves Harry Potter and fully believes that by the end of the summer she too will be a wizard. She believes in fairies and mermaids and Santa still. She loves the beautiful facts of science and math. She loves her microscope. She wants a telescope. She loves her cat. She wants a pet bunny. She is loyal. She is strong and fierce and wild. She is kind and gentle and sweet. She is Evelyn.