Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Super Catty H1N1-Induced Thought of the Day

I am the latest in our household to fall victim to the H1N1 bug. Poor Po is still struggling, and her chest x-rays from today show the beginnings of what could turn into a nasty case of pneumonia, if we aren't careful.

So I nicely suggested (okay, kicked out) the healthy children to play, and Paloma and I are hunkered down on the couch, dozing in and out of consciousness.
So here is my nasty thought for the day:

Niecy Nash from Clean House:


Fashion Challenged Woman
or
Drag Queen?
Come on, now, I can't be the only one who has wondered. . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

5 weeks

We're in our 5th week of public school 4-K for our WonderTrips.

5 weeks.

That's all it took for our Paloma to catch the outbreak of H1N1 going through her school.

Our poor Po is so sick. We spoke to our pediatrician at length, who agreed that Paloma has H1N1 or the seasonal flu. It doesn't really matter, because it's too late to treat and the flu is the flu, no matter the strain. We're guessing H1N1, since a bunch of other kids in her class have it. Either way, we chose not to test because 1) it doesn't matter and 2) I prefer not to have the holier-than-thou "My child is healthy so how dare you bring H1N1 into our school" parent lynch mob after us. Because it totally exists, and they scare me.

So let's do the math. 5 kids. Sick in successive order with a flu that takes a good 7 days to kick. Hmmmmmm. . . .

We should be able to leave our house and rejoin society maybe . . .November?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Autumn Frame of Mind

This morning, I ran through shrouded foggy mists and fresh autumn puddles.

It was glorious (seriously).

It was also the first time I went running in about 7 weeks. I felt cloppy and my footsteps were unsure.

That was not so glorious.

But I don't care so much about that. It just felt good to wake up to a house of sleeping children, to lace up my shoes in the dark and to escape the house unnoticed.

I'm slowly trying to move into some semblance of a normal. Running, an activity I've tried to participate in regularly for the past year and a half, needs to fit in there somewhere. So I'm going to try and work it in.

Being outside before most of the world awakes is a treat. I notice so much that I never would otherwise. This morning, I noticed how some trees were already a brilliant neon red-orange in spots. I spied firewood freshly stacked against side garages. And I noticed more fall mums, blooming in reds, oranges, yellows and purples, than I could possibly count.

Then it occured to me that this is the first season where I'm not entering it thinking, "This fall the boys will come home."

This fall, the boys are home. Our first fall together.

So far, the boys are loving it. The children spend most of their outdoor play time meticulously raking up every leaf in our yard, and Miss Ruth's yard, and Maddy's yard (our next door neighbors.) Not a single leaf isn't accounted for.

Hatfield develops the "game plan" for raking and the children set to it like obedient little soldiers (enjoy it while you can, my dear oldest daughter.) They rake all the leaves into two piles, each carefully placed directly in front of our two front yard swings, which hang off the huge tree in our side yard.

Then they swing high, and bravely jump into the "huge" (or "hooj" as our boys call it in their adorable little accents) pile of leaves. A pile so big that it actually covers all the way up to their little ankles.

I can't wait for the leaves to really start falling, and the kids discover that those piles get so hooj they can bury themselves completely. They are going to love it every bit as much as the Mister and I are going to love watching them.

Today after homeschool, piano, dance and dinner, my job is to pack us up for a family getaway. Come Thursday we hit the road to spend a wonderful autumn weekend in Door County. Fudge, salt water taffy and apple picking await us all. And an antique store which is an authorized Fiesta Ware dealer awaits me. Once a year I get to drool over all the beautiful pieces, and this time I plan to indulge a bit and fulfill one of my lemongrass daydreams.

Pictures to follow, I promise. Until then, enjoy these first days of Autumn!
Sarah

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Too Much Information

My friend Lila wrote a great post this morning that got me thinking on this subject. I've written this post out in my mind before, but never found the time to post. Thanks for the reminder, Lila :)

Once upon a time, our society valued discretion and respected privacy. People's personal affairs were kept personal, and while gossip certainly always ensued, there was always an unspoken rule about what you could ask somebody and what was just off limits.

Now, people are nosy nearly to the point of assualt. 24/7 news, tabloids, talk shows, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter...all have dulled our senses and deadened our society's ability to recognize the need for discretion and privacy.

Americans generally feel we have the right to know everything about everyone. It's been my experience that when they feel denied of that, they generally go on the attack. People want to know intimate details about marriages, love lives, family histories, work human resource situations, etc. And they are ego-centric enough to think that they are certainly entitled to the information.

There are genuine people in this world who are interested in building a family through adoption and are genuinely interested. Their genuine nature usually shines through, and I have no issue answering questions about the adoption process, our homestudy agency, our orphanage and post-placement services.

But we are a mixed family, and a rather unusually mixed one here in our little upper Midwest portion of the world. An Asian dad, white mom, one white kid, two mixed kids (one who looks hispanic, one who looks asian) and two black kids.

For a huge segment of our I-have-the-right-to-know society, they take one look at our family and begin drooling for every juicy morsel of our family's existence.

Everyday, I am asked about our boys' birth families. Sometimes by loose acquaintances. And a lot by complete strangers. No place is sacred; I'm asked this intrusively personal question at church, at my children's school, at the playground, in the checkout line at Target.

My thought is always the same: Excuse me? What could that possibly have to do with anything about anything relevant to your life? is what I would like to answer.

Instead, I usually give some generic answer, like, "children are given up for a host of reasons in Haiti, just as they are in America, from death to abuse to a parent's decision to not raise their child for personal reasons."

Now, you would think that most people would let it drop after that. Maybe 50% of them do not, which is always shocking to me. Instead of leaving it at that, they push the issue, wanting to know about Miles and Keenan specifically.

"Well, now, that's their personal history, and I'm not in the position to discuss that on their behalf," is what I usually say.

And you know what most people do? They seem offended with me because I 1) didn't give them the information they wanted and 2) seemed "uncalled for" in my curt response. Even though they were the ones who pushed the issue.

Sigh.

The other thing which never ceases to amaze me is that people always want to know if and how our boys are related outside of adoption. I have tried to look at this from many angles to see if my edginess is uncalled for in any way, but I always come back to the answer that people just want to know out of sheer nosiness.

Often I wonder if I am just going through a phase in my post-adoption adjustment. Will I ever stop feeling irritated by these Nosy Nellies? I'm assuming that the questioning won't ever cease, so I guess the answer lies in me. And only time will tell.

Friday, September 18, 2009

How Did We Get to Friday Already?

I don't know how we are at Friday already, but here we are. The days fly by and I find myself a bit mystified that our third week of school is nearly finished.

The week brought me one of those blessings-come-out-of-difficult-times situations. I had to take the boys to get immunizations on Wednesday. Five each, plus the flu nasal squirt. Miles came through with flying colors, making huge grimaces with each administration but nary a peep escaped his lips.

Keenan, well, I guess the most gentle way to explain what happened is to say that our boy is a fighter. Evidenced by two overturned chairs, a ripped-to-hell paper examine bench sheeting, the need for two nurses and moi to reign our little guy in and hold him down.

If the doctor visit wasn't traumatic enough for our little man, he ended up having a bad reaction to one of those shots. High fever, legs swollen and very painful to the touch.

Yesterday he laid on the couch the whole day. Barely ate, barely drank (even refused a brownie.) He felt miserable.

And he decided that he needed a Mama.

I hugged on him and cuddled him and rocked him. I gave him a sippy cup in bottle fashion, rubbed his head with cool rags. I babied him and whispered how much I loved him to him in his ear.

I fought back tears all day, thinking of all the times in his short little life he had been sick and needed a Mama to love on him.

But no Mama was there.

That's one of those thoughts which I'm not quite sure how to catergorize in my mind.

So, in the end, yesterday became one of those great, unexpected opportunities to help strengthen our bonds. Every cloud has a silver lining.

And I am so grateful.

Happy Weekending!
Sarah

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Well-Rounded Education

Last night Hatfield and I went shopping. On the way home, You Spin Me Right Round by Dead or Alive played on the radio, so I cranked it up.

The Mister remembered the video:


which we promptly pulled up on YouTube. I especially dig the finger shaking on "You look like you're lots of fun" and eyepatch.

We homeschool to give our children the most in-depth, pace-appropriate well-rounded education possible. Which now includes a sociological study entitled:

Classic 80's Music Videos 101

So we need your help! What other songs/videos shall we include in our syllabus?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The tropical end of the gene pool

If Miss Paloma wore her flip flops,
in winter,
with no socks,
we would declare her to prefer the
Frozen Tundra end of her gene pool.

However,
once the thermometer
falls below 75 degrees,
our girl dons her Flips Flops

with socks



thereby making her,
without a doubt,
1,000,000,000,000% Chamorro.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Building Blocks

This has been a tough week.

I feel stretched very thin right now. My focuses are children, homeschool, husband and then the disaster that was previously known as my house. If you are my friend, please don't think that I put something material ahead of you :) I have a social worker coming over next week for a post-placement checkup, and I don't want CPS called due to the condition of my home.

I have 12 unplayed messages on my phone right now, dating back over a week. I access my email once every few days, because we still have no working computer and the Mister has been traveling a lot this week (no Mister = no laptop). I know that I have about a billion unanswered emails too. If you are someone waiting to hear from me, know that I know, I love you, and I'll get back to you, I promise. Once I regain some semblance of sanity and balance in my life (hopefully before the decade's end, but no promises, lol!)


I'm going to vent by saying that I cannot believe the number of people who have come to me in the past few days asking to join a club, volunteer for a position or otherwise commit time away from family. Like the retired neighbor who spends her days gardening and golfing, who came over and asked me to take over some neighborhood cancer fund raising volunteer position where I would "only" have to address 40 envelopes, mail them, call to follow up, and collect the money. She's "busy" but she knows that I stay home. Seriously?

Maybe because I have willingly chosen to have 5 children people think I'm a glutton for punishment (likely) or superwoman (ha!). Maybe because I don't have a new baby, they think that adding two older ones is a cakewalk and non-deserving of adjustment. Or that because we have homeschooled 3 years now, I don't need any time for getting back into the swing of things. Or maybe they're smoking crack. Or maybe I am. I don't know. But I do know that right now, I can't.do.any.more.

This week has been rough and tough with Keenan. Our little guy is past the shell-shock, and he's lessened up on the mourning activities. But now he's in the, okay, here I am, let's see how far up the food chain I can get in this family phrase.


My cute little guy can be charming and adorable. I think he utilized those qualities to become one of the nannies' favorites at the creche. A darling favorite who was very much spoiled. Because our boy can certainly become one major diva at times. And he uses that diva nature to test. And test. And test.


Today, I find my patience wearing thin. And I find my confidence about his attachment at times begins to falter.


Instead of focusing on my fears, I'm trying to focus on two different thoughts.

The first is: Attachment is NOT Keenan's job. He is a hurt, grieving, scared little boy. He doesn't know the first thing about attaching. That's not saying he has free ticket to avoid rules, consequences and boundaries. But what it is saying is that it is MY job to get him to attach to me. My job to keep my emotions in check, my attitude in check and my behaviors in check.


Sometimes, after an entire day of having a child shut down and stare at you emptily, or refuse to listen to anything you say, it is very easy to think, "Why can't this child love me? What is his problem where he won't show love and respect?" Being run-down, exhausted and frustrated can very easily lead to those lines of thinking. It's not pretty, but it's honest.

So I find that focusing on my job description to be helpful. I often write down key phrases on my Motherboard to help me remember when frustation begins to cloud my vision. Silly, but it works.

The other thought that I find myself focus on is one in which my wise bloggy friend Small Town Girl recently shared on her blog. Life is made up of thousands of experiences. Many, many of those experiences with our adopted children are good. Loving. Kind. Fun. Family-building. But when you hit a down-and-out moment, and things have been tough for a stretch of time, it's easy to forget about all those other moments.

But it's important not to let those less-than moments erase the building. Several bad days or having to constantly establish the same boundary (over and over) again does not take away from the foundation we are building. In fact, many times, it's the actual living through those hard times and seeing it through to the other side, which strengthen our foundation even more.

So for the weekend, I'm turning off the phone and focusing on the building blocks of our family. We are still a young family of seven, and it's okay to say "no" to the world for a while and focus only our own little unit here in our little corner of the world. Maybe I'll only have more frustrations on Monday to report, but at some point, things will turn a corner (I think it was around week 5 or 6 with Miles) and I'll be able to say, "We've seen this bump in the road through." Many more bumps will come, but we'll only be all the stronger.

Happy building!
Sarah

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Two Months HOME

I found myself staring in disbelief at the Motherboard this morning (a huge whiteboard calendar which hangs on my kitchen wall.) Today is September 9th, which means that Miles has been here with our family for TWO months now.

I spent much of our adoption mentally ticking away time. Every 3 or 4 month delay would leave me fuming, "We just lost a quarter/third of a year here." So my first thought upon my calendar revelation was: "Our boy's been with us a sixth of a year."

Silly, I know, but what a difference to think that he was been with us some portion of a year. The first weeks are tough. It took about 6 weeks or so until I, more often than not, felt confident in the direction we are taking with Miles.

But what a difference a sixth of a year makes compared to those first few weeks. While we still have issues that we are still working on with Miles, and there are many, many times when I'd like to bang my head against a wall having to explain an expected behavior for the billionth time, it's nothing short of amazing to see our little boy's growth and development.

Miles is a child who, deep in his soul, wanted a Mommy and Daddy. Quiet, reserved, withdrawn at the orphanage, he is coming out of his shell here and thriving. He loves hugs and kisses. He loves having his bed, his books, his place. He'll proudly share anything he has, because it's his and he's proud. He sets an example for the other children with sharing.

When Miles first arrived home and we'd look at a book or watch tv, he would point to children (or child-like animal characters) and tell me who they were. They were always his friends from the orphanage. He still does this all the time, except now everyone is Manmi, or Hatfield, or Keenan, or Atticus, or Paloma. And the most hilarious name bestowment of all: Daddy. That one always has him laughing so hard I worry that he'll wet himself.

God certainly played a hand in bringing this little boy home first. Miles first reaction is to back down any time around Keenan; but having those weeks with us alone, when he could grow and gain confidence and a voice, just allowed him to blossom into his own person. At times he will challenge Keenan on something which he must never have before, and you can see the pride in Miles and the confusion/uncertainty in Keenan (who's not used to Miles challenging him on anything, is my guess.)

Miles is our "gentle giant." So big and strong he could easily challenge any child in our home except Hatfield, he never does. He has a HUGE belly laugh which brings great JOY to anyone who hears it. We've even had strangers comment on his wondrous laugh in the store: "I just love to hear it!" one little old grannie gushed.

Our little guy is loving school and each day his English amazes me. Last Thursday after school, as soon as he saw me, he came running up to me with the biggest smile ever. "Mum Mum Mum! Guess what, guess what! At school today I played the . . . "and then he started moving his arms with great fervor to show me he did. "The drums?" I guessed.

"Yes!" he said with great pride. "The Jrooms!"

It was one of those parenting moments when your heart wants to burst with joy and pride.

It was one of those parenting moments where you don't have an ounce of doubt in you that this match was meant to be.

Happy 2 months home, Miles.
You have blessed us immeasurably.
We look forward to a lifetime of hearing your wonderful laugh.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

School

The first week of 4-K ("gadri" in Kreyol) is complete, and I am happy to report that it has been a smashing success.

Miles and Paloma were more than ready to start their first day.

Paloma is proud.


Miles is excited.



Keenan is so happy that Mommy made him his own backpack, even if he's not going to gadri just yet.



Never did I think that I would have three 4-year olds in my home,

but since we found out an error in Keenan's DOB, that is exactly what we have.

God's gift are mysterious and wonderful.


You can see the weight of the world in Mile's face. He became nervous once the children lined up.


No trace of nervousness is left by the time school is done.



I returned to find smiling, adorable little Cliffords.

To celebrate this momentous occassion, I made a from-scratch chocolate cake.




Because let's face it: there's nothing says I Love You like a from-scratch chocolate cake. Right, Mister?
Edited to Note: Yes, Miles is indeed wearing a dress. Hatfield felt inspired to bring up our Dress Up Bin full of 70's and 90's bridesmaids' gowns and 80's prom dresses. With a few smaller size Christmas treasures thrown in. Miles is wearing my cousin Kate's Christmas dress circa 1988. The Mister is very proud.