Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Home again, but not for long

I'm procrastinating right now. . I should be packing for Orlando (ORLANDO!!! It's finally here! 6 of my most favorite days of the year!!!), but instead I'm running around like a giddy school girl on Spring Break.

The kids and I had a great dance weekend in Madison. I finally got to see all of their routines, and they rocked!

This was Paloma's first dance competition that she actually danced in. She's been attending them for as long as we've gone. Even at 3, she'd happily sit and watch "cuke tids dance." So to be at a competition and actually compete?

Needless to say, the kid was amped up.

I always laugh because no matter where I take Paloma, whether it be in studio or at the competition, tons of kids know who she is. And they all want to pick her up and carry her around. Paloma never lets me carry her anywhere anymore. But she'll let all the dance kids do so. It's giving me a complex.

Paloma humbly refers to them as her "fans."

I know, clearly, we need to work on building up this kids' self-esteem, huh?

Here is Paloma with one of her "fans," Sam.

Po is one of the tiniest girls on the troupe. Here they are in their jazz costumes.

Paloma's team took first place for tap and second place for jazz. She accepted the team award on stage. When she went up to get the award, they asked her, "Where do you dance?" And in her little Paloma voice, she replied: "In Studio A."

Which is true. Our studio has 5 studios, A through E, and Paloma's troupe practices in Studio A. It was such a funny, precious moment.

Then she said, "Oh! Do you mean. . . " and she whispered in the announcer's ear. Then: "I dance at Barb's Centre for Dance."

Now a teenager, Hatfield is of an age where she and her team are all about self-sufficiency (read: watch me from the audience, Mom, and don't take my picture!)

Nonetheless, I got a few in.

Here is Hatfield's lyrical costume. Isn't it gorgeous? The girls all look like woodland fairies on stage in these costumes. Absolutely beautiful.

Paloma and Hatfield together, Paloma in her tap costume; Hatfield in her finale.

The finale this year is Just Dance, which is a Gaga-revue. Amazing. Hatfield's group wears the hat, gloves and soccer socks, and they do a hard-core hip-hop routine to Swizz Beat in it.

It is Kick Ass. It's one of those parenting moments where I am living vicariously through my child.

And can I just say? My girl can tap. As in, she has bad ass tap skills. I have NO idea where she gets this from. I can't dance and I clop like a horse when I run. She should thank me that my cloppy genetics skipped her, because that would have been a nightmare for her.

Atticus and Paloma, both in tap costumes.

Atticus with some girls from their troupe in their tap costumes. It's a tough job being the only boy on a dance team when all the girls are fighting for your attention.

See the one girl on the side, pouting because she didn't get to be next to Atticus? Srsly.

Atticus is on the Mini-Boys Team. Don't let their comical nature fool you--- these boys brought it this year.

I am so impressed with these four. Their dance is called "Girls" and they dance to a mix-up of the Beastie Boys' Girls, then I'm a Barbie Girl, then My Milkshake. It is hysterical and aweseome.

These boys got a Platinum rating, took 1st place in their entire division AND earned the Entertainment Award out of everyone there (we're talking 300+ entries.)

I am one proud Mama indeed. My inner Dance Mom came out this weekend, and I had the kids get into their dance warm-ups to eat breakfast in the hotel, because there were a ton of competitors from other dance schools there. Just to psych them out. And it totally worked.

Plus, I taught Paloma to say: "I eat the competition for breakfast." She was totally channeling the Chuck Norris of 6-year old dancers. It was highly intimidating, and it totally worked, too.

But, I did not come home with a sparkly Dance Mom t-shirt. Tempted, but didn't. Maybe next time.

So this proud Mama is going to focus now and get cracking on packing for Orlando. Because I just checked the weather channel and their high tomorrow is 87 degrees. HOT DAMN! I haven't felt temperatures like that in half a year! I am going to dig out my summer clothing right now.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


We have our first dance competition of the season this weekend, and the kids and I are packed and raring to go.

The first two years of competitions were really stressful for me. The little boys were new and struggled being home without Manmi (as if two 5-year old boys could handle watching dance in an auditorium for 10 hours at a time.) Paloma was too young to dance in competition, yet wanted to go and watch, so I would take her so I would not leave the Mister home by himself with three 5-year olds, and Paloma was. . .Paloma. And I still struggled with the damn hair bun and makeup required for Hatfield's dances (not anymore, but the learning curve was relatively steep.)

Now, however, I can't wait to take off tomorrow! Paloma is on a team and is SOOOOO excited to peform. Hatfield and Atticus are in enough dances and of an age where I drop them off backstage and no longer need to worry about them for a number of hours. I get to sit, knit, drink coffee and watch dance (all things I love to do.)

I no longer worry about home, as the boys are happy to be left with the Mister, who with couple of Old Country Buffet coupons burning a hole in his pocket, has big, glorious eating plans for his two sons and himself while vegetarian-won't-eat-at-a-buffet-to-save-her-life wife is away.

Life is good.

Here's a photo of Atticus performing with our dance school's Finale ensemble, taken on Valentine's Day at the UWGB Phoenix Basketball game.

Not to brag, but I'm going to because I'm the Mama. So prepare yourself.

Atticus is the youngest boy in the Finale this year. The ensemble cast has 200 + kids in it (Hatfield is as well), and this year their number is a GaGa revue and fabulous.

I mean really, stinking, I-get-chills-just-watching-it, fabulous.

Anyway, by the end of the number, all the dancers are onstage. The music cuts, they do a final 'pose' (is that what it's called? Heck if I know) and there is Atticus, front and center, front stage, square in the middle with all 200+ dancers around him. In all black, with his dark skin and huge shiny, white smile, my boy looks adorable and stunning. Like an illegal level of cuteness.

It is an awesome moment for him. And for me, living vicariously through him.

I am so glad that they have this opportunity, and I'm glad that they are running with it and enjoying every minute of it.

Our dance school gave a letter to all their students, which I framed and put in their bathroom. It reads:


Dance is such a great training ground for life. Almost any lesson you can learn on becoming successful in dance, is a lesson you can apply to become successful in any other part of your life. To succeed in dance you need:

* Toughness * Confidence
* Perseverance * Intense Focus
* Motivation * Positive Mental Attitude
* Teamwork * Strong Work Ethic
* Accountability

These are precisely the qualities you need to succeed in life.

The BCFD staff wants to instill these qualities into you while drawing out your natural skills and strengths. We hope to have a lasting effect, not only in the dance world, but in your life. We want you to remember these qualities as long as you live and hope they have a deep and powerful impact on your life. We hope the lessons you are taught become part of the fiber of your being now and for years afterward. We have so much confidence in you and believe that you can accomplish all of your goals.

Work hard today an every day of your life.

We believe in you!

I've always believed in my kids. But I'm really grateful that they have an extended village of loving adults who believe in them, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Keenan is an enigma
wrapped in a middle
surrounded by a mystery.

The poor kid has been physically miserable since coming home. As I've blogged about before, my little guy has suffered from giardia, rat dung tape-worm, cryptosporidium enteritis, and something else that I can't recall/could never pronounce.

Add to that ringworm and eczema, plus sores that ooze blood out of his scalp.

And add to that a child who has never been able to clearly communicate his feelings about his physical self. If I walk into a room and say, "Keenan, does your stomach hurt?" and then the doctor asks a minute later, then Cliff does 5 minutes later, we are all going to get different answers (all of which will likely make no sense whatsoever.)

He's never been able to articulate headaches, belly aches, tired, itchy, scratchy, pain, etc. Growing up through toddlerhood in Haiti, a place where nearly no one cared what physical condition he was it, he just learned to shut out that part of himself.

It's like he's detached from his own body, because he was conditioned that way due to neglect.

It breaks my heart.

I've known all along that something is just not right with this child. Pediatricians, our hospital's Infectious Disease unit, and the Children's Hospital G.I. clinic have listened politely, did a bit, and pooh-pooh'd Mama's worries.

"5 years in Haiti is a lot to recover from." "Not every child will grow a lot after being adopted." "Give him time.

Last month, I took Keenan in for his 7-year check up. The doctor took one look at him. "He looks horrible," she gasped upon walking into the room and seeing his pallor.

Uh-huh. I know.

"I believe he's severely anemic." She pulled down his lower eye lids, revealing grey-white flesh.

"Not good."

Finally, I felt like I had someone's attention. As she was examining him, she noted that he lost weight. I mentioned that his foot size has only grown a half size in the 2.5 years he has been home (something I've mentioned before, but for the first time, I felt like I was being listened to and not thought of as paranoid/hysterical.)

Looking at his nails, I mentioned to her (as I have mentioned to every doctor he has ever seen) that I've cut his toenails 3 times since he has come home from Haiti, July being the most recent time.

So she runs a CBC and it turns out that Keenan has no iron in his blood. Zip. Zero. Nada. No iron stores of any kind, although he does have hemoglobin.

She initially theorized that the iron he was taking in would go to make hemoglobin and then the parasites "utilized" (or ate, but man, the thought of parasites eating makes me feel all heebie-jeebie-ishy) the rest.

But guess what?

The parasite test came back clean.


I did some research on anemia/iron deficiency, and there's something like eight possible causes of anemia.

Behavioral issues and learning disabilities are two of the side effects of severe iron deficiency.

And guess who has some severe behavioral issues and learning disabilities?


I am beyond frustrated that it has taken so very long to begin to put all of this together.

So, where I go from here, I'm not quite sure. To sum everything up, I have a child who:

1) has no iron stores, and does not look improved after 5 weeks of nearly toxic doses of iron.
2) the worst breath/bowel movements
3) little foot growth
4) no nail growth
5) behavioral issues
6) speech issues
7) learning issues

We have seen pediatricians, received Infectious Disease consults, and the G.I. Clinic at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Anyone have any suggestions or ideas? I am really tired of the whole: Let's try this dose for two months and see type of thing. I know, he's been home 2.5 years and surely he can hold out for two months of dosing, but he's my boy and I'm feeling impatient.

Enough is enough, and I'm really hoping that this is beginning of getting the help that he needs to grow and become healthy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Trouble with Socks

This video kicks off a new feature on my blog (as if I had previous features, right?) entitled:

Things I Learned from Knitting in a Bar

This segment is:

Part 1: The Trouble with Socks

Please note:

* no alcohol was used in the making of this video

* The socks are Gryffindor colors, not Hogwarts = my bad

* No magical creatures were abused in the making of this video

*The video was graciously filmed by my teenage daughter
Hattie who, despite her embarrassment and horror over her
mother and her knitting antics, was a good sport nonetheless.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Letter to My Children

My Dearest Children,

Upon each morning, it is relatively simple:

1. Get Up
2. Get Dressed
3. Eat
4. Get Ready for School

It is called Getting Ready for the Day.
And we've done it hundreds of times before.
And I'm pretty sure if you do it again today,
your head will not fall off and roll across the floor.

And even if it does,
we have pretty good insurance.

It is not Rocket Science, small people.

Your mother would be very much obliged if you stopped pretending it was.

Hugs and Kisses,
Mummy Dearest