Monday, September 18, 2017

Football Season Has Arrived....and Let The Injuries Commence

You can guess quickly where this post is headed.  Lucas and Eli are now a Sophomore and a Freshman in high school.  That by itself makes my head spin.  They are both members of the JV/Varsity football teams.  While football season is not quite as exhausting from the parent level the guys are definitely working hard. 

Lucas is seeing a lot of playing time.  He isn't the largest kid on the team but anyone who doubts what determination can do just needs to watch what he can accomplish with a 5'6"/160 pounds of Filipino Fire.

Eli....well he's had a tough season....two games in he broke his collar bone...yep that was not on any of our lists of things to try.  Like everything he does in sports it's 110% and meeting up with a linebacker and the ground was not in his favor.  It's effectively sidelined him for the season. Watching him pace the sidelines and watch his team mates play is a tough one for him, he desperately wants back out there.



Saturday, August 27, 2016

It's That Time of Year

As you may have noticed there is a new header photograph.  We are still attempting at least one family photo a year.  It is getting harder to coordinate all the work schedules and distances.  Very blessed the kids all humor me.  Alison married her husband Mark last November, Rachel will be marrying Ross in October 2017.  Sydney has graduated from college and is now a radio show host for a country station and in production for the station also.  Lucas started high school which just points out how quickly time flies.  Eli is in his last year of Jr. High and loves nothing better than to tease his siblings and brother in laws.  It's been a busy, hectic, fun and at times exhausting year but wouldn't trade it for the world.

Friday, August 26, 2016

High School Sports Season Begins

Tonight is Lucas' first high school football game.  He's pretty excited and I'm pretty nervous.  Like every other sports parent out there you pray for a non injury game.  With Lucas' history of sport related injuries it can be a little hard on a mom's nerves.  Go Panthers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

2016 First Day of School

Time is going by much too quickly.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Boys of Summer 2016

Eli played Short Stop, Pitcher and 3rd Base



Lucas played Pitcher and Center Field


People ask them all the time what their favorite sports are....answers are pretty consistent...the favorites are whatever they are playing right now.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2015 Ended In Celebration

2015 was definitely a busy year for our family.  Alison married Mark Stockamp in late November in the Dominican Republic.  It was such a fantastic time for the entire family as we traveled to the Caribbean for the big day and then returned home for a reception with extended family and friends.  Lucas and Eli were groomsmen and took their rolls very seriously.....and then not so seriously.
 
 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall Brings on Football Season!


A few more games left for the 2015 football season.  Lucas and Eli played on the same teams this year which really gave us a break on running around like crazy people....now we are just the crazy family in the stands!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer Fun 2015

The first picture was on day two of the boys being home in 2009.  The second was taken 5 1/2 years later...suppose the next picture will involve cars?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Filipino Fire

I'm not sure at what point we all started referring to the boys as "the Filipino Fire".  When they started playing sports in school it kind of took over a life of it's own and now our family and friends have the t-shirts to prove it.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Five Years Ago.....

I took a walk backwards as we are coming up on the 5 year anniversary of the boys' homecoming.  I was reading back over the blog and looking through pictures.  Five years ago today, Sydney, Mike and I were desperately trying to grab onto patience as we waited through airline mechanical problems on our way to Manila.

I'd encourage anyone who is adopting to try blogging, write a journal, record it however you can.  The memories are priceless and will mean something to you, your child and all those people who are supporting you.

I may not possess any more patience today than I did five years ago but we do have two amazing sons to show from the journey and a boatload of memories.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This is a photo that means more than most people realize.  Yes it's a picture of Eli and his coach after a tough loss at the championship game.  More importantly to me it's a photo showing exactly how far Eli has come in building relationships and valuing them.  He's learned to trust, to embrace the good times and lean on others in the tough times.  From a scared, distrustful boy of five years ago to a teenager who's future is expanding and bright....this photo represents his journey to a life of possibilities!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Look Out World He's Behind The Wheel

This totally blows my mind.  Five years ago we were teaching this tiny little boy how to ride a bike and now he is the proud holder of a driving permit.  
I am so proud of him.  He passed his test on the first try even after Mike and he had to dig up more proof that he is a citizen of the US.  Birth certificate, adoption paperwork and social security card were not proof.  Mike had to dig for his original permanent residency card.  Thank goodness I'm a paperwork junky and file everything.  He managed to go back to the court house and pass the test.  Step toward independence #1029

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Time Flying By...We Are Here

Amazing how life is interrupted by life.  The last 6 months have really flown.  Lucas has started Jr. High (no I was not and still am not ready for that) and Eli is in the 6th grade.  Summer baseball finished and now life revolves around football practice and games.  This week's game highlights, Eli scored 6 touchdowns for his team and Lucas had 2 touchdowns last night (one was 65 yards).  Needless to say they love sports, all kinds.

I feel bad about not keeping up on the blog.  We've had so many emails and calls checking for updates.   I will endeavor to do better.  Thanks for your continued interest in the boys they are two very special individuals.
There is never a dull moment even when mom is saying "stop it!"


Friday, March 14, 2014

Humor or Not

Busy, busy, busy.  I apologize....again....for the interruption.  Life has a way of picking up too much speed and I seem to have my emergency brake set.  Hopefully life will cooperate and let me catch my breath.

In this vortex of family busyness I seem to have developed a very warped and juvenile sense of humor.  I didn't realize this until last night driving home from supper with Lucas, Eli and Rachel.  I literally could not stop laughing from the antics and "jokes" the boys were pulling off in the car.  I thought it was hilarious until I looked over at Rachel and saw a look of disgust and definitely no laughter.

I took stock of the hilarity and although I still think it was all funny I realized my humor has probably slid backwards about 30+ years and morphed into a teenage boys' world of humor.  This world consists of really, really lame jokes, noises and grunts.  This world is not appreciated by many outside of the teenage boy world.  I, unfortunately for our daughters, seem to have taken up residence in this world....oh well I survived their "girly world of drama", they will survive mine and their brothers world of humor or we will all grow up, hopefully still laughing but this time at the same things.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fighting Brain

On the way to school this morning, Lucas, Eli and I were talking about studying hard (specifically spelling and comprehension).  Lucas was bragging about his 100% on the last test, Eli.....well he was pleased with missing 3 because if he'd gotten 100% it would mean he'd have to start doing the challenge words.....the kid is an operator.  That part of the conversation will be covered at home this evening, not enough time before they were dropped off.

I was trying to explain that spelling and comprehension work is important so that their English learning continues to expand....and that includes challenge words.

Lucas finally took over, explaining in the "bigger, older, smarter brother" way that gets absolutely no where with Eli but makes Luke feel superior, he said, "You know Eli, so we get to the point where our brains quit fighting and we just know the English words."

I asked Lucas if he feels like his brain is fighting and how that feels.  His reply?  "You know.  It's like the words are in my brain in a circle and I want them to come out my mouth but my brain is squeezing to keep them in my head.  The words and my brain fight."  Meanwhile Eli is sitting there nodding.  Eli said, "Yep, like in Science I need to know all the words to answer the question before I raise my hand and sometimes they just won't get out of my brain fast enough."

What a description of the way they live with learning English.  Can you even imagine that level of struggle where you feel that your brain is a vice holding back what you are capable of and know?  Can you say frustrating?  So far they are fighting each and every day to keep learning, some days they fight harder, other days they create ways of getting out of "challenge" words...but then I think every day is a challenge and so far these Filipino fighters are up to their challenges.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

No Babies

Eli informed us last night that he "doesn't want babies now", as in present tense.  Thank goodness!  Mike offered to take him to a friend who has a little one so he could see that babies weren't all bad when he gets older.  His response?   "Maybe later but I think I'll get a dog....or a monkey, the kind with a white beard that looks like an old man.  Those have got to be better than a baby, right?"




Sunday, January 19, 2014

I'm White! No You're Red!--

A person never knows what activity or conversation or argument you may be subjected to upon entering our house.  The screaming declarations of "I'm white!" and "No, you're red!" greeted me after work on Friday.  I admit it stalled me at the door.

I'm was thinking....okay they often have a conversation of "what are we?".  Usually it's generated from a remark or happening at school, so I figured that was the origin.  I went into the living room to investigate and offer guidance....I have to admit that the "no you're red" statement had me stumped.

There was no worry that I would have to pull out my cultural, ethnic explanations as what I found awaiting me, were Lucas and Eli playing X-Box Soccer.  They were screaming about what color their individual teams jersey's were......I left them to it.  Some arguments about color do not involve mom's participation.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hugs and Homesick

Sometimes Eli has the ability to leave you speechless, smiling and crying all at the same time.  It's quite the talent.  As I was leaving the house for work, he slowly followed me to the door.....this is not usual as he's usually glued to the breakfast table until there is nothing left.

I turned around and asked him if he needed something.  He grabbed me around the waist and hugged the stuffing out of me.   He's not a kid who hugs easily or without a great deal of thought....his feelings and how he expresses them mean a lot...they aren't given lightly or expressed gratuitously.

As he's hugging he said, "Mom is it okay if I miss the Philippines sometimes?  I mean I want to be here but sometimes I get to thinking about it and I miss stuff from there...is that okay?"  Gulp.....a what point did we drop the ball to ever make him feel he couldn't miss it or that it was a problem.

While I couldn't cover everything in the little bit of time I had, we did talk about the fact that the Philippines are a part of his life and he would be sad and miss things and people from there probably for the rest of his life....but that was also okay and even more okay to talk about the things he was missing.

The silent brooder that he is, this is an area we will have to stay on top of.  It is so easy to fall in to the thought process of the further we are away from their homecoming that the issues become less....it's not the case.  Those issues evolve and morph and lead into other avenues...most likely for their entire lives.  We've known it, we know it, we become complacent.  Reality check in the form of Eli brings us back.  I have to say though, in some ways, I'm glad he is experiencing a little bit of homesickness just because for so long he could see nor remember anything that was good about his early life.  Time, distance, healing and love are powerful things opening doors backwards to shed a different light on his history, it's a good thing, it can be a tough thing but another avenue to travel and experience, pot holes and all.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Coach Assist

Regular season basketball is over and now Lucas and Eli are in the midst of tournaments.  Saturdays are consumed with all day basketball....luckily the boys play in gyms that are either in the same building or close. So far the game times have overlapped so Mike and I separate and each watch a game.

Saturdays' tournament game for Eli proved to be eventful for him.  The kid gives 110% to whatever sport he is doing, full out from start to stop.  He is also the boy who would have to have a limb severed before he'd admit to being hurt.

Half way through the last of three games he had to come of the court, limping with a nasty leg cramp.  It took quite awhile for him to be able to walk on it, then he reentered the game and was on the court about 2 minutes when he got another cramp in the opposite leg and this one put him in a fetal position in the middle of the court, his coach went out and had to physically carry him back to the bench....that one put him out of the game.

He had never had a leg cramp and had no clue what was happening.  He did learn the lesson of listening when mom is pushing fluids and also the newest word in his vocabulary....potassium.  I'm hoping his coach doesn't have a hernia because that boy is solid muscle.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Listen To This Not That

I can tell you from experience (I'm the youngest of 5) younger siblings do not like nor want to always listen to their "older" siblings when being told to do something.  What can I say, we youngings of the family are independent and probably spoiled.

Lucas and Eli have the awesome placement of the younger siblings with three older sisters....yep they sure don't always appreciate the helpful advice, directions or orders coming their way.  Then there are the times when your older sister, the elementary teacher, needs your one of a kind assistance for a school project, then they give their undivided attention and cooperation.

Rachel needed two, empty Pringle potato chip cans for a teaching tool.  She came home with the Pringles and asked if it'd be okay for the boys to eat the chips so she could use the cans.  Mom that I am, assumed that she would bag the chips and just let Lucas and Eli eat them at some point.  That assumption was wrong.

Lucas ate the entire can before I realized what was happening and Eli would have devoured his if he hadn't been at basketball practice.  After I pointed out that the ensuing stomach ache was self induced with the aid of an older sister and that perhaps he should use a certain amount of self discipline (I wasn't real sympathetic) Lucas' statement...."you tell me to listen to the sisters and then you tell me not to listen to the sisters...girls are confusing and you're a girl mom!"  Oh but his education in the male art of listening to what women say and doing what they intend not what the actual words say.  Good luck buddy!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Why People Stop Their Adoption Blogs

I know that I've pondered the question of why people who have diligently chronicled their adoption and family stories by blogging, have made the decision, sometimes without explanation to stop writing.  I'm not sure how you all feel out there but when you read about the day in and day out journey and gain so much by having this wealth of experience to learn from, it can lead to a big gap when the writer chooses to end their public journey.

I have to confess that during this past month, I've been so busy, over extended and after a particularly nasty bout of the flu running rampant in our home, I've let the writing and journaling slide.  As we celebrated the holidays and I've had time away from work, I've thought, "am I at a point where I should back away?"

I have never been short of subject matter to cover with Lucas and Eli.  They are ever changing.  I have loved writing this blog for the past nearly 5 years.....why was I feeling this reluctance to continue?  It struck me tonight as we were eating supper......there are still adoption type subjects (will probably always be) that I'm able to write about but what I realized is there has been a shift, if ever so suttle.

Throughout these past 5 years, Lucas, Eli and our family adoption stories and adjustments led the way to the majority of our living.  This has changed.  Adoption has become a piece of our puzzle, not the majority but a piece.  It does not always define us as heavily as it once did.

There are so many of you out there that have invested in our boys, from near and far, during these past years.  Please celebrate this milestone with us.  We've all reached a point where we are living and you will start reading about what life looks like from the next step in adoption....the part where life happens, not necessarily driven by but enhanced through our adoption story.

I hope you will stick around to see what life holds for us next.  I'm back to writing, I'm not abandoning the ship and 2014 will see us celebrating Lucas' 14th birthday, Eli turning into a teenager (that is so already happening) and hopefully a whole lot of family, friends and that includes all of you bloggy friends!  Thanks for continuing to journey with us!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Part of the Holt Family

This blog would not exist without the dedication and love for the world's orphans that the staff of Holt International possess.  Our family would not exist in it's present form.  We were asked to write an update for the Holt International Magazine on Lucas and Eli's adoption, transition and give a brief glimpse into our family's world.

If you'd be interested in reading the article it appears in the latest issue of the magazine.  You should be able to access it with the link below.
http://www.holtinternational.org/magazine/2013/11/11/the-language-of-love/

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Am

Have I told you lately that boys can be really strange?  Or have I mentioned that their sense of humor is really weird too?  They are and it is.  Strange and weird.

If you'd ever want to know what is going through any of your children's heads, no matter their ages...it works on the adult "children" too....simply make supper, make sure to sit at the table and then hold on for the ride because you will learn the most amazing, ridiculous, heart  felt and goofy things about your kids.

Last nights' conversational extravaganza was how many names Eli could come up with to call himself.  Tuna, Michael Jordan, amazing, cabbage, super,  runner, smart are but to name a few.  Who knows where he dug these up.  I'm glad to see some high self esteem descriptions but am totally stumped by tuna....who knows...like I said weird but hilarious.  Sit down with your kids...you'll never be bored.

Monday, November 25, 2013

virus

No we've not dropped off the planet.  I will win the battle against the virus currently attacking my computer and hopefully return in the next day of two.  Thanks for checking back.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Discovering His Humor

Eli is hilarious.  He's funny when he's not even trying.  Usually his humor is reserved for those he feels comfortable sharing it with,  yesterday and again today he's decided he is comfortable with his new English Language Learner teacher.  It's taken him since the beginning of the school year in August to reach this milestone.

We knew he'd find it difficult when his ELL teacher who had been with both the boys since they started school, retired at the end of last year.  Eli needs to observe, figure out the person and personality, test them and then if they don't fail at any point along the way he may let them in to his inner circle.  Within the inner circle is a whole other world of hurdles in his trust meter.  He's a tough one but when you achieve it, you know it, a whole different world of Eli opens up.

Ms. Michael has entered the world of his humor....I feel for her because now she is the recipient of adolescent boy humor...Eli style.  Hiding behind the door and scaring her is this week's funny activity of choice.  Luckily for him she has a sense of humor and understands that she's crossed into his world of trust.  Now if we don't get a call saying, "Mrs. Pickle, please explain to your son that he can not be scaring faculty."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Free At Last, Free At Last

Lucas is free from his medical restrictions and let me tell you he couldn't be happier.  The specialist released him with just a few limitations for the next few days as he gets back into the swing of activities.

The doctor said he was really pleased to see how far he's come.   He explained how he wanted him to go about reentering activities and sports.....yep you guessed it.....Mike and I listened.....Lucas not so much.  He got clearance for P.E., recess and sports.....and then he promptly lost his hearing.  The doctor is very good at reading adolescent boys and took the time to make sure he got the point.

I knew he was going to be excited to get back to activity but he actually asked if he could start doing all of his classwork and testing.  When the doctor mentioned this part he actually turned to me and said, "See Mom!  I told you I could do work."  Really.  Like I had purposely and maliciously prohibited him from school work...yep that's not going to last.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Donate My Organs

I bet you've found yourselves in a conversation that left you wondering how on earth it began.  I know where this particular conversation started....it was a news report...about organ donation and a young girl who died in an accident and her organs were donated and the story of the recipient of her heart.

Usually Lucas and Eli will run from the tv in disgust when the news is on....after all a tv is only good for cartoons and x-box games...this time, I don't know exactly why they both sat forward on the couch and listened to the entire story.  When the news program went to commercial, oh how the questions started flying.

How, why, when, where, but why, to name a few.  Thirty minutes later, I'd exhausted every bit of the information I was able to give on the subject.  When something strikes these guys as interesting or important, they don't accept the easiest or shallowest of explanations.

Something that never ceases to amaze me, from the very first time we met them in the offices of KBF on a hot Manila morning, they exchanged "the look".  It is something to witness.  If you see it, you will know that there is a whole world of thoughts and communication going on between them.

Eli said, "I didn't know such a thing was possible."  Lucas, "Can anyone give their organs, even us?"  That began a whole new conversation about what they truly understand and what their wishes would be.  It's not a quick one, it's not one to have lightly and it can be a decidedly uncomfortable one but what an impact this girls' life and her families unselfishness following her death has had on two kids who didn't know the possibilities.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ending In Laughter

I can't say that when I arrived home this afternoon that I expected to be greeted with a yelling, "Hey Mom!  How was your day?" coming from the direction of the living room as I was coming in the back door.

It's not a totally unfamiliar question but as I started to answer while walking into the living room I was greeted with this......
Lucas must have known I needed a laugh.  He also guessed right when he presented me with a bowl of popcorn, a soda and the remote, telling me to relax.  He's definitely on the mend.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nanny vs. Care Facility

I'm certainly glad that Lucas is feeling better....I'm glad to have the return of his humor....or his brutal honesty (maybe).  He has the ability to be sweet yet brutally thoughtful.

These past few nights he has returned to his information spewing self during supper time.  This evening he and Eli were discussing the merits of becoming famous.  They have already come to the decision that they will be famous but in what area or areas are still up for debate (with one another because no one else will feed into their fantasies).

Lucas leaned over to me, patted my knee and said (with a straight face) "Don't worry mom.  You will probably still be alive when we are famous.  I will have a lot of nannies."  Now I am a little slow sometimes and did not possess the smarts to not be baited by his comment.  I said,  "Nannies?  Why are you going to have a lot of kids that you need more than one nanny?"

He grins (never a good sign when in this type of discussion) and says,  "No, for you and dad.  I will get you lots of nannies to take care of you cause you'll be old and that way you don't have to go to a place full of other old people like you.  I will make our house bigger so you and the nannies can be over there and I'll be over here but I'll still see you."

Eli, much more direct and totally irreverent,  "Don't worry, mom, when I'm famous I'll come see you so you can be sure I'm okay but then I will have to leave again so I can keep being famous."

Well I'm sure glad they've got goals as well as our retirement/elder care needs all figured out.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Heart Stopping

I wish for each of you to have someone like Eli in your lives.  He is quite frankly amazing.  He is a gentle soul, full of mischief, humor, orneriness, intelligence and insight.  Amazing.   In these last few weeks while Lucas recovers, Eli's lost a little bit of his spontaneous humor.  I'm glad to report that this evening we saw our first glimpse of it's return.

We treated the boys to Chinese food.  They would eat it every day of the week. for 3 meals a day if we'd let them.  If we throw in chop sticks it's better than Christmas morning.  I gave up waiting for them to finish their 3rd helpings and started cleaning up.

Twenty minutes later I hear them push their chairs back with accompanying loud groans.  Eli then says,  "I'm so full my heart has stopped.  I know it doesn't have room to beat, my stomach is pushing on it!"  Forget how hard I laughed, Luke laughed harder and that is a sound that's been scarce lately, it did this mom's heart good.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Writing the Memories

No matter how your family has been created I would encourage all of you to contemplate the following.  If for some unforeseen reason you were to no longer count on your memory to pass on your history, family stories or day to day happenings, what would you do?

This is something that has been very much a part of our lives these past three weeks since Lucas' injury and memory loss.  While his memory is much improved, there are gaps.  Lucas was the chief caretaker of he and Eli's memories of the Philippines.  He has related stories on their birth family, orphanage, friends and caregivers, day to day life, feelings and thoughts as they waited for a forever family.  When those memories were temporarily interrupted and are still being recovered, it has driven home one very important thing....all those times that I've felt too tired to write another one of their stories or memories, every time I've thought "oh I'll write that later"....and then couldn't remember what it was or never went back...those memories could be forever gone in the blink of an eye and one more piece of Lucas and Eli's lives would be missing.

In adoption especially at the onset of the process there is a lot of talk about creating life books.  I have to admit the thought of undertaking more paper and writing was less than appealing.  I was horrible at keeping our daughters' baby books up to date, I knew I'd probably have the same track record in creating something like that for the boys.

I stumbled into blogging, initially as a way to ease the frustration of the process, then as a way to feel like I had something to do while we waited to travel, then as a way to hopefully let other adopting parents know what our journey has been like for us.

In the last 3 weeks I've come to realize that while this journaling has not been perfect, consistent or all inclusive it has provided a source to record their memories, a history that could have easily been lost through injury.

So, I'd like to encourage all of you to write, record or share in whatever form you are comfortable with.....but do it, record those precious memories, preserve your history and those of your children.  You can never know when those documented memories may be needed to be recreated in an effort to keep your family from losing a precious piece of their lives.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We Are Making Another Attempt

I should say Lucas is making another attempt at a nearly full day of school.  We are going to aim for only sat shortening it by an hour.   This week we had to back off to 3-3 1/2 hour days, any more put him on the couch sleeping off a headache.  He doesn't return to the specialist until November 11.  I hope he can progress back to full days, headache free by then.

As we educate ourselves more and more about concussions, traumatic brain injuries and secondary hits we are doing our best to put the breaks on his need to be like "all the other kids" and make sure he's recovered completely.  What we are being told is that as long as he is completely recovered that there is no more increase chance of further concussions than any one else....as long as he is fully recovered....that is key.

I know if you've read this blog for any length of time you will know that we are blessed with our public school's cooperation and willingness to do whatever is necessary to meet the boys' needs.  This is very much the case again for Lucas' special accommodations during this healing period.

So for now he sits on the sidelines of activities and basketball and becomes increasingly frustrated with the wait to heal.  He understands the need, it doesn't help his 13 year old drive to be like his friends.  Imagine if you can trying to put your foot on a porcupine to hold it in place...that would be about the level we are at.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Butterflies on a Stick

Sometimes you can have a conversation with your kid that just short circuits and goes off in a totally unexpected ..... and hilarious direction.

At supper, Lucas was talking to Mike about pretty much every subject imaginable.  (It's what he does to try and fill in the blanks in his memory.)  Somehow the conversation deviated into Mike's dating history 35+ years ago.

Lucas said, "Dad what did you feel like when you asked mom out the first time?"  Mike, not over thinking the answer replied, "I had butterflies in my stomach."  Let me say...for an English Language Learner, using slang or "sayings" really messes a kid up.

Lucas had the most flabbergasted look on his face, followed up with, "WHAT!  You put butterflies in your stomach?  How'd you do that?  Did you put the butterflies on a stick and then give them to mom?  Why would mom want butterflies on a stick?  I don't think girls would like that dad!  That's weird, no one should do that to butterflies, they need to be free, not be put on a stick."

Let me also say his entire part of the conversation took place in one breathe and there was no stopping him.  Eli, who was doing his part to eat through an entire plate full of chicken, put his chicken leg down, looked at his brother and said, "Dude!  You need to slow down and figure it out.  Dad didn't touch any butterflies and what makes you think he gave mom a stick of them?  He's just talking English."

We then experienced the required brotherly arguing of, "well he said..."  "he didn't mean that..." "but he said..."  "listen closer..."  Needless  to say no butterflies were ever harmed in the telling of this story.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

He's Made Huge Progress

Tuesday afternoon was a very good day for Lucas.  He went to school, rested when needed and in the middle of friends reintroducing themselves, he says "it came back!"  He said he looked around and it "popped" and he new them.

He had a headache right before the "pop" and then it was gone and the memory was there.  There are spotty places yet and he's still restricted from everything but the relief on his face to be able to see someone and know them and their name was priceless.

He's got a clearer picture of the day of the injury.  He will come up and ask every once in a while if what he remembers is correct.  He doesn't quite trust his brain yet.  We wanted to wait and see if he would lose ground overnight as he slept as had been the pattern but he was up and telling us "I still remember!"

The whole remembering and school took it's tole, he was on the couch and snoozing most of the night and headed to bed early (on his own).  Either way there was one excited kid headed out to school this morning.....some pretty excited grown ups too!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Next Phase of Recovery

Today was another step in Lucas' recovery process.  By meeting with the brain trauma specialist we have a working plan to help him in his recovery.  It is a combined effort of home, school and specialists and most importantly Luke providing the hard work of slowing down, no physical activity, no basketball, no video, telling us and teachers when he needs to stop and rest.

The doctor explained that in 85% of cases like Lucas' the injured person will recover ground lost in about a week.  12% will take about 3-12 weeks to fully recover and then there is the undetermined 3% that go beyond that time frame.

He expects Lucas to come in to that 3-12 week mark.  Due to his continued loss of names and pieces of his memory and English he felt that his degree of injury was more severe than initially determined.  He said that Lucas recalling information, going to sleep and waking up sometimes remembering that information and sometimes not should also be considered average for his injury and that should rectify itself. Basically, REST!

He still tires easily, gets headaches although not as severe and tries desperately to hide what he does and doesn't know.  He tells us he is embarrassed to let people know he doesn't know their names.  For now we continue to take school one day at a time, we encourage him to rest (wish us luck).


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Do You Suppose They Will Ever......

The six words titling this post run through my mind often in relation to Lucas and Eli.   The phrase runs a close second to my self commentary of, "because I said."  Thoughts beginning with the phrase, "do you suppose they will ever..." have a tendency to freeze me in my tracks, break my heart or leave me beaming with pride.  I wonder.

  • "Do you suppose they will ever say turn on/off a light instead of close/open the light?"
  • "Do you suppose they will ever learn to like potatoes?"
  • "Do you suppose they will ever pass a driving test?
  • "Do you suppose they will lose their fearlessness?"
  • "Do you suppose they will always have this close relationship to one another?"
  • "Do you suppose they will go to college?"
  • "Do you suppose they will be taller than average Filipino males?"
  • "Do you suppose they will always be worriers?"
  • "Do you suppose they will adopt when they are older?"
This list goes on forever.  Some are trivial, some are frequent fliers through my brain.  Some are generated from frustration, having explained something a billion times and not getting through.  Some are generated by a sense of awe at their abilities to cope, adapt, accept and move forward.

This past week with Lucas' injury and all the coping and adapting everyone in our home has been experiencing, the phrase of "do you suppose..." has taken on a life of it's own.  It is quickly being overtaken by "what if....."  When that pops in to my head, I try to quickly follow it by taking a lesson from our sons.  Cope, adapt, accept and move forward.  Do you suppose they will ever stop teaching us far more than we teach them?


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hopefully

Lucas tried school yesterday.  The goal was to try it until noon.  We got a call at 10:45 that he was struggling and went to pick him up.  The teachers teamed him with a buddy to help him navigate the building, classes and re-introductions in the event that adults weren't on the spot.  I'm very grateful that this student was so willing to help out.  Lucas needed it.

The hope was that he'd recognize at least something, the building, layout and maybe even a few faces, that didn't happen.  Mike walked him to the classroom, he didn't know the way.  He still refers to his teachers as teachers, not by name.  Reading brings on an instant headache.  So more resting this week-end...he is not happy.

Someone asked if he remembers being hurt.  Right now, he remembers up to the point of his head connecting with the ground.  He does not ask questions about the injury or what happened.  Last night there was a little spark of memory as he was talking and spontaneously mentioned a friends' name.  His face was priceless (ours probably were too).  He stopped mid conversation and said, "I said a name!"

He's handling the headaches and tiredness but knowing that he knows someone but can't identify them is really starting to wear on him.  He is using Eli a lot for the information filler.  Eli is totally gloating about that.  Once upon a time, things were reversed and Eli depended on Lucas to provide the words and be the "front" man.

Hopefully the specialist on Monday will be able to offer some more information, hopefully a week-end of rest will give his brain some encouragement to heal, hopefully some more names will spontaneously pop into conversations.  Hopefully we will start seeing some progress toward healing because I'm really missing this smile.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Making Friends The Second Time Around

Lucas is going to try a half day of school on Friday.  He's a little nervous.  He still doesn't have a grasp on people's names.  The amnesia is hanging tight when it comes to people's names.

He is concerned about not knowing the kids and teachers.  I have to say we live in a community that has some pretty amazing teachers, parents and kids.  The amount of concern for him has been heart warming.   His friends at school know what they might expect and he understands that he doesn't have to know it all walking in the door.....yep it really doesn't help him, friends are important to him and he doesn't want anyone feeling bad if he doesn't recognize them.

He's going to have a peer buddy tomorrow for the time that he's at school so hopefully it will ease the door open to reintroducing everyone.  We just don't know, the teachers are as prepared as they can be for him and the students are kids who just want their friend back.

So ready or not Friday will be here and we will hope for the best.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Lucas' recovery is progressing.  His memory is the frustrating part.  His balance is greatly improved doesn't bother him for the most part.  His headache comes and goes.  Sometimes he just puts a pillow over his face to block the light and sleeps.  Sleep is what he needs.

He's able to place family members names but has trouble with teachers, friends and extended family names.   He recognizes people as those he knows but just can't hook the names into place.  He isn't a happy camper.  
We'd hoped he could do a half day of school on Thursday but with persistent symptoms that's not in the cards.  Again, not a happy camper.  He has to be symptom free for 24 hours before we progress to the next step in recovery....that illusive memory and headache is really a kicker.

Eli has found a new lease of brotherly care.  He can't get in the door fast enough to check on him after school.  He will sit and play quietly (for Eli this is a huge and unusual thing) with whatever Lucas feels like doing.  Every once in a while you will catch sight of him passing by Lucas and patting him on the shoulder with the occasional, "Doing okay bro?"  This has really scared him too.

So we will spend the day imitating rocks and not doing much.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a two steps forward kind of day while omitting the step backwards.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Football, Trauma Center, Traumatic Brain Injury and House Bound

Our week-end was anything but dull.  At this point we all wish it had been dull and uneventful and unremarkable.  It was not.

Lucas and Eli's football playoff game was Saturday morning.  With four minutes left in the game Lucas was running the football when he was caught by two opponents....I say caught and not tackled as he was dragging the two kids behind him....he doesn't quit easily....then he was hit by a third from the side.  The kid grabbed his face mask and with the combined weight of all three took Lucas to the ground....first thing to hit the ground was his helmet/head.

This all took place near our sidelines a short distance from us, his coaches and team mates.  At first we thought he had the wind knocked out of him, he stood up and went to the sidelines.  We saw his coach take a look and he called Mike over to take a look.

I have to say that we were extremely blessed that we had a large contingency of family which included two of our daughters (one of which was Alison who is a nurse) 2 of their boyfriends, my sister and at least 4 other mothers who are also nurses.

Alison evaluated him and called me out of the stands, by the time I got to him he was on his knees, eyes shut and in obvious trouble.  We immediately suspected a concussion.  We headed to the nearest hospital, with the help of many to get Eli gathered up, our stuff located and extra vehicles driven home.

We didn't make it to the hospital before he developed further complications and we stopped at a fire station for help.  He was transported to a trauma center and after a CT and exam it was concluded that he has a minor traumatic brain injury (guess this is the new way of scaring the crud out of parents for saying concussion).

With the standard protocol for concussion rehab under our belt he was released and all day Sunday he rested and seemed to be doing fairly well.  Then came this morning.  We were to take him into the doctor as a follow up.  I woke him up late, he was very quiet (not normally a morning person so I didn't worry too much).  Then came the road trip to the doctor.  I looked over at him and he had the most bewildered look on his face....just totally lost.  Scared the crud out of me.  I started out by asking him if he remembered things from yesterday.  Nope.  Then I asked where we were going.  Nothing.  I said Lucas can you tell me your brother's name.  He looked at me, glanced sideways, looked back and I could see him visibly swallow and then something that I will never forget came out, "I have a brother?"

That had to be one of the longest drives into Omaha I have ever taken.  Our appointment with the doctor and referral to a doctor specializing in sport related traumatic brain injuries was both reassuring and has given us a general idea of what to expect.  Barring complications he's on the slow boat to recovery and a frequent participant in naps, boredom and quiet time.

In my previous post I said that I thought age has helped us in being prepared to adopt...yep that came back and kicked me hard.   I've aged 5 years in 3 days and pretty sure that my blood pressure is a little high.  I'm so grateful for the fantastic medical care he's been given but if I don't see the inside of a rescue squad, trauma unit or CT room I'll be forever thankful.

There is a lot of debate on kids playing contact sports.  It really is a talk that I'd encourage every parent to have with one another and their child.  Will he play football in the future?  We'll see what next season brings and whether he has any interest.  In the mean time I'll leave you with a photo from this last game that gives you a little glimpse of his love of the game.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Would This Be Easier If We Were Younger?

I recently read a post about how younger parents deal with issues compared to the approach of older parents.  We are in the older parenting group.  Having started parenting in our 20's and are now raising teenagers again...do I think there is a difference?  You'd better believe it.

Patience.  I never thought I'd say I have more of this expendable commodity and after my previous post it may seen contradictory but I just don't get as impatient with Lucas and Eli as I was with the girls when they were the same age.  (Ok, Lucas is sitting beside me chomping in my ear so the patience may be spotty).  I do know that the girls say, "Mom!  You would never have let us do that, this or the other."  It's true.  Don't sweat the small stuff.

House keeping.  Again don't sweat the small stuff.  My house is no where near as clean and neat as it was when the girls were younger.  Just not the top priority.

What is allowed and not allowed.  As politically incorrect as this is I think this has to do more with raising boys rather than girls.  It is different.

Energy level.  This is a tough one.  Some days I'd say I have more than when the girls were little, other days I'd say I let things slide in order to keep up with the boys.  Either way, I hit the bed at night and sleep...like a worn out mom.  Think that happens at any age.

Do we handle issues differently.  Most definitely.  I'm so glad that we had some parenting under our belts before handling the issues we deal with now.  Good, bad and normal I don't think that we'd have done as well with the tough stuff in our 20's.  Do I think that only older parents make good adoptive parents?  No.  Absolutely not.  I just speak for me.

It's kind of like saying if one of your difficult babies was born first they'd have been an only child.  (Our girls have heard us say this and know whom we are speaking of).  For us it has been a better fit to adopt later in life.  I'd say that after 20+ years of talking about adopting that the right time for us was now.  Older, slightly slower and totally enjoying the experience.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Is With Boys and Their Moodiness?

Raising teenagers (or surviving the teenagers) is never dull.  You never are dealing with the same personality from one day to the next and sometimes not from one hour to the next.  I have a new appreciation of those people with twins.  

The year difference in age between Lucas and Eli are not going to give us the same breather we had with the girls.  With our daughters, one was on the tail end of teenage issues as the other was entering, usually not overlapping too badly.

How two people can be so engaged, happy and sweet and within minutes turn into little poops and then just as quickly turn back into amazing kids....urghhh!  This Jekyll and Hyde behavior is tiring not only for their parents but they just haven't realized how much work they are putting into these hormone driven, privilege restriction inducing antics.

One thing about surviving 3 teenage daughters it was really good practice for 2 teenage boys.....and if I keep telling myself that enough times a day, the 2 teenage boys may survive to see the week-end.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Timeline Project #1 In The Books

The much dreaded school project that probably 90% of adoptive parents dread....the child's life timeline.  We are definitely lucky that Lucas was the first to approach the project.  He's a little easier going with the unknown parts of his history and is content to draw pictures where he didn't have photos.  Unless Eli changes a lot in the next year it probably won't be the case.  He wants definitive answers and photographic proof.

I understand the concept behind these timeline assignments but I also think that in this day and time and societal issues being what they are that a different project needs to be looked at....too many of today's school kids have time lines with big blank areas.  Information missing from the process of adoption, the frequent moves of the foster care system or the restrictions of poverty that don't leave room for the luxury of photos.  I think the lesson that was intended is frequently lost in the uncomfortable, blanks that children must drag out for their classmates to view.

Changing the project won't change the facts but it does allow the child the dignity to keep what portions of their lives private that they want and share those details in the time and place of their choosing with those they choose.

Adoption "experts" extol the need to let the child's life story be their own and share how they chose.  Well experts....you tell that to a teacher with an assignment that is required.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

They Are Excited To Hear From You

I am so grateful that we live in a time where computers, Internet and blogs can help shorten the span of our earth.  The connections we've been able to establish here and the wonderful information that you share back is amazing.  

Recently, we have had several comments from the Philippines.  Lucas and Eli are thrilled when someone writes a comment or sends information about the Philippines, recipes, knowledge of children that have been adopted from their orphanage.  It means a lot to all of us.

We say thank you for taking the time to read and respond.  Thank you for filling in the gaps, answering questions and for asking questions.  Your participation here helps to bring up some pretty amazing conversations for our family.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our China Family

Lucas and Eli enjoy anything that involves throwing, kicking, rolling or bouncing a ball...any kind of ball.  This is becoming somewhat of an issue as all things involving these activities has been banned from inside the house for good reason.   Having practiced hard at baseball and football they don't really grasp how hard and damaging some of their throws can or could be.

Our house dog loves to play catch and fetch with the boys.  I'd like to have a dollar for every time I've stopped the three of them.  They all look so shocked that it's not allowed....even for the thousandth time I've said it.

Eli let hurl the dog's toy and "accidentally" hit the china cabinet.  Nothing was damaged except my patience.  Once again I said, "Be careful or you could break the china cabinet or knock the china over that is in it."  I don't know what came over him or what he thought he heard but his head whipped around and he said, "WHAT!  That's stuff from our China family?"

No matter what I did to explain china dishes, heirlooms and crystal he is truly convinced that we have relatives from China that gave us their dishes.  I gave up.  As long as their isn't a ball bouncing off the cabinet I'm willing to let him believe that we are some strange Norwegian, French and English Chinese descendants.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Is There Life After Football Season?

To answer that question.....yes, it's called basketball but we have one more week-end to go with football as the boys' team pulled off another win today and are now headed to the playoffs.  Go Panthers!
They use their brotherly, silent communications on the football field to their advantage.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mom! Just Look At This!

Our nice fall weather is swiftly coming to an end....therefore every outside chore known to man has to be accomplished today before we leave for a football game at 2:00....did I mention it's 45 degrees outside and most of these chores could have been done in our nice, comfortable 75 degree weather this past week...but I digress.

Once the boys were convinced that yes they did have to wake up and start moving, then came the "I can't find warm clothes to work outside" dilemmas.  That stall lasted about 5 minutes or until my patience left and choices suddenly became available.

As I was making a pot of coffee, I hear what had to be a moose walking through our house, as people can't possibly make that much noise.  I turned around and there stood Lucas with his arms out to his sides and mouth hanging open.  "Mom!  Just look at this!  What happened?"

This would be one of those times that he refused to let me take a picture....I really wanted a picture....he had dug out warm clothes from last spring and to say they no longer fit is an understatement.  The jeans were 4 inches above his ankles, what were supposed to be long sleeves stopped 3/4 of the way to his wrists and the sweatshirt now looks like it was cut off at his belly button.

He's been so proud to pass his sisters in height but didn't realize how that translates to other things.  Some of his favorite clothes no longer fit and he was not impressed.  No matter how much tugging he was doing on the clothes there is no doubt they will not be fitting him again.

As a small side note to the chores....apparently those involve every piece of machinery, tool and vehicle we have...3 lawn mowers, 2 chain saws, trimmer, tractor and rope...I'm doing laundry it just seems a wiser choice.

Friday, October 4, 2013

They Make The Day Better

As frustrating as our children can be....as much worrying as a parent does (no matter how old the kid gets)...there are those days that make you fully appreciate your kids.  I don't know what our lives would be like without all 5 of them in it......okay that's not exactly true....they'd be duller and slower and no where near as interesting.

Today was a day that I hope to never repeat.  It started out tough and got worse.  By 3:30 all I wanted to do was come home and hide my head under a pillow....well that wasn't happening.  I picked Lucas and Eli up at school and before we made it back to the car, they had my day pegged before even asking.

We're starting to reach that point where for brief (I do mean brief, they are teenagers) periods of time, they can hold down a serious, heartfelt conversation.  We got home, they unloaded their book bags, put stuff away and brought me a drink (no not that kind) into the laundry room and told me to sit down and relax.

Now that is the point where the teenager genes kicked in and they went to ride the go cart.  But I think, in it's own way, that was taking care of mom too.  Clearing the house for some peace and regrouping time.  That is as much peace as you get listening to them scream, laugh and rev engines requiring me to keep checking outside to make sure everyone is still in one piece....even that helped to lighten the day.

So to this day that kicked my butt, I'm through with you and I'm calling it family night cause family is a whole lot more important and caring than anything that I could drag home at the end of the day.