Monday, November 30, 2009

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Hot Wheels and School Orientation = Tired Boys

Today we took the boys into school to meet their teachers and school staff. We went after school when the hallways were clear - it's a good thing cause they quickly figured out the elementary building is layed out in squares and they can go around and around and end up in the same place. Lucas is more than ready to try half days this week, Eli actually seemed somewhat interested in the classroom although he did demonstrate how he could take the pencil sharpener apart. I'm praying the fire alarms are not an interesting item to him. Half days this week, see how it goes and we'll try full time next week. I'll bet there are tired boys and tired teachers by Friday.

We came home after the visit and they actually asked to look at books, reading them is not real exciting to them yet, but we talk about the story or as much as you can cover in 3 minutes or less.

Tonight they had a choice of video or playing before showers. They actually chose play - Hot Wheels all over the house, on the stairs, on the couch, ramping off the beds, over Sydney. We put a stop to the ramps when the dog became a part of the ramping system. Mike says we need more track, I think there is one grown up in this house reliving his childhood! All this excitement has led to very tired boys, young and those that may think they are......

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today's Favorites Are....

After your kids get to be a certain age you kind of forget what the really good toys are. Lucas and Eli have reminded us big time today.

We set the Christmas tree up Friday night and of course all the decorations and boxes are all over the place. The first reminder came when Eli came up missing (does it sound like we misplace the boys alot? I just tend to write more about these times). Let me back up, Eli has definitely found his voice over the past 4 days. He's constantly singing, yelling, talking, yelling or making "boy" noises that are beyond description. Anyway, in all of the Christmas mess he suddenly disappeared. I turned to ask Rachel if she'd seen him lately, I looked at her and she's grinning and glancing to the now empty Christmas tree box. I must admit I thought about seeing how long he could last but temptation got the better of me so I asked Lucas to help take the box outside, he grabbed one end and the box giggled, Lucas jumped back - not quite as good as the camel jump in the Philippines - but did clear away from the box. Out popped Eli. He was hysterical and kept the hiding game up until we'd all "found" him repeatedly.

The second toy of the day came when the now empty decoration boxes had to be hauled back to the machine shed. Lucas brought me one last box that Mike had unearthed from the back corner and as I turn to carry it in the house I hear another shriek, turn back around and Lucas is giving Eli a ride on the two wheel cart that Mike had him use to bring me the box. Ok I can see how this could be fun except once again they chose the hill in front of the house to use for their race track and were fearless of their speed. I didn't have to play the mean parent as apparently Mike gave them instructions on the proper use of a two wheeled cart and now they are once again on the bikes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

All Dressed Up and Waiting for Sunday School

Tomorrow will be the trial run for Sunday School which meant dress clothes for Eli and Lucas - If you can't tell by their grins they are pretty pleased with the sisters' choices for them. Rachel was trying on dresses for a college dinner so what better time to grab the camera. The ties were a big hit also. They saw those and you should have seen their shoulders push back and I think they stood 2 inches taller. Ties are apparently a sign of important things. Good thing they are clip-on. Rachel is going with Eli and Sydney with Lucas to their Sunday School classes tomorrow as "chaperons". I've been amazed over the changes in the boys this week. Smiles come more easily as do the hugs. Tonight we were watching a movie with the boys and one of the characters' name was Eli. Boy oh boy our Eli sat up the first time he heard it and the next time he heard the name, he points to himself and say "Eli, me and then points at the t.v. Eli." Some days we hear Lowie and Towie and then the next day they are totally Lucas and Eli. Home 2 weeks tomorrow and I'm hard pressed to track all the changes.

Learning Trust and Bike Riding at the Same Time

Lucas speeding down the drive. Hope he has more control with a car at 16! These two picture are reversed, after many crashes Dad decides to explain the finer points of braking - "ya think!"

After a gloomy, hazy, cold week Friday and Saturday have turned out to be unseasonably warm for Iowa in late November and what else should 8 and 9 year old boys on an acreage with a rock drive and lumpy grass learn to do? Ride a bike of course.
Once again, Mike was unattended when this started and from the Manila pool incident we know the results. Man am I glad boys are resilient and "bounce" really well.
I was doing laundry and came into the kitchen to see Rachel and Sydney looking out into the driveway - this too was explained earlier the girls generally could care less about the "outside" so I walked over to see what they were looking at. And what to my horrified (yes, I am still adjusting to boys and their durability) eyes do I see. Lucas going down hill on our rock drive as if he had a pack of dogs on his tail and then I see Eli wobbling on a bike only to lock up the brakes and go tail over handle bars onto the grass. Yep I hit the door rather loudly. Again to be met with 3 male faces looking at me like, "What, we're having fun, I'm ok, what, they're ok, look all body parts are attached" and then you know what? They all 3 laughed - mainly at me and mostly cause they were having fun.
Explain how face planting (repeatedly), gravel in hands and knees, and being impaled by handle bars is fun? At the end of the day, because this did go on ALL day - Lucas and Eli hit the shower and giggled all the way to bed. After drinks and good nights they asked if they could BIKE tonight? (They reverse the words tonight and morning) So this morning they hit (literally) the drive way again. Miraculously they stay away from the road - I know, I know - that to will pass.
You may notice that the boys are learning on the girls' old bikes. Luckily they can't read and I'm sure later in life they will have something to say about the bikes labels of "Glamour Girl" and "Pink Power". Sorry guys, mom needs pay back for the heart failure you gave me!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and Renewed Meaning

As I post this I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took time to count their blessings.

We've definately gotten two very obvious and wonderful blessings adding to our family this year. Lucas and Eli may not totally understand the American holiday of Thanksgiving but they definately enjoyed their first one if the shear volume of food consumed and excitement of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on t.v., plus playing with cousins Klayton and Landyn were indicators.

The boys understand this about the holiday:
  1. It's the holiday before Christmas
  2. We have turkey (which they are convinced is a "HUGE" chicken)
  3. It doesn't have gifts
  4. Christmas is the next holiday (it does have gifts)
  5. They like something called green bean casserole
  6. Eli learned how to make baked beans (amazed by the can opener)
  7. Christmas is in December!

I had started to end this post when the boys came into the kitchen which Mike and I had been industriously cleaning and putting away food in. They ran in, froze, looked at each other and said, "No more?" Now that question held more than one meaning.... I showed them the leftovers in the frig (and Eli made sure there was green bean casserole left) then we explained that yes Thanksgiving Day was almost over but we can say thank you for our blessings every day and oh by the way...Christmas is the next holiday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rachel and a Smiling Eli (It Does Happen)

Eli is definately not a smiler unless you are tickling him. Rachel was home for the weekend and he quickly became the teasing little brother, that is until Rachel found out he is extremely ticklish. He runs by her, gives her a poke until she either chases or grabs him and tickles him. Wish you could all hear his laugh, it is hysterical but the picture will have to work for now until you have a chance to meet the tickle monster.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let's Talk About the Pickle Sisters ("Ates")

Well for those of you following the blog you know that the majority of it is about the boys and their adoption into our family. I'm going to deviate a little although the boys are an integral part as you'll see.

As you may have noticed there's a new family picture at the top (thanks to my niece Jennifer). The girls have grown up with my taking family pictures outside. A few things you may need to know if you don't already; Pickles are not athletic, they are not coordinated and definitely not outdoors people, especially Alison, Rachel and Sydney.

Anyway there have been pictures in trees, bean fields, near water, in water, on rock piles and in flower beds (sorry about the allergic reaction Rachel). The big argument is always about who gets stuck in the tree this time. Alison actually did get stuck in one when she was 10 but hey the picture turned out and eventually we found a ladder.

That being said for this latest picture the girls were standing around "another" tree again debating who was the climber and also how cold they were. Until the moment when all three realize they now have brothers who not only like to climb trees but were actually in the tree already posing and thus ends an era of arguing for the Pickle Ates. Thanks Lucas and Eli!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lollipops and Pacifiers

Okay - I've been saving this one but since I posted the picture below with my great nephew, my mom and the boys I thought it was a good time to tell a story on one of my "well-meaning" - I will get you back - friend from work.

Dawn is the school nurse where I work and the head of the nutrition police at school, she is also a former nurse in our pediatrician's office and was there at the airport when we got back from the Philippines. Being the every observant and oh so helpful person that she is, she noticed that the boys were fascinated by the ring pops my great nieces had (suckers that are attached to a ring the kid wears until it's gone or such a mess the parent pries it from their protesting fingers.)

So on our way to the first pediatrician's visit last week, we stopped by my office to let the boys see "my school". Again I should have had the camera as one look at Dawn's face said she had something up her sleeve or in this case in her office for the boys. Yep - ring pops - red ring pops, right before the doctors visit. Needless to say I have access to Dawn's youngest son and their will be reprisal of caffeine and sugar. For some reason she seems to have forgotten I will be returning to work the first of February and I have a long memory.

We went to Mom's today as told below and you'll see a picture with my great nephew and his pacifier in his mouth. It didn't stay there long. The boys number one are in love with babies and two they thought this baby had a "lolly pop". No explanation worked until Eli took the pacifier out and looked it over. Put it back in Landyn's mouth and declared "NO Lolly pop" then he and Lucas proceeded to give Landyn the most pitying look as if to say poor baby doesn't even get candy. Thanks Dawn - way to corrupt an entire generation!

Sundays with "Lola" Dona Mae and Family

Sunday is usually the day that we try to get down to visit my mother at her assisted living apartment. This week we've been there a couple times, a get to know you visit, a broken chair repair and return visits and then today's.

For those that don't know my mom lives just a few blocks from my work at the top of this big hill. As we go (even if we aren't headed to Mom's) the boys will give step by step directions to get to Lola Dona's. (Lola means Grandma) Can you say back seat drivers times two?
Anyway today we arrived right after my nephew and his family left and just in time to see my niece and her family. It's kind of strange but interesting to see a family come full circle. I'm the youngest and was pretty much raised with my older nieces and nephews. Mom was big on Sunday dinners and pretty much anytime was family time. Now that she's no longer able to prepare the Sunday dinners and has a hard time hearing and seeing she still manages to hold the babies and enjoy the little ones.

I'm glad she's still here to see her newest grandkids and is excited to see them as they are to see Lola Dona.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday in Any Language

Yesterday we went to Mike's parents' home to celebrate his grandmother's and my birthdays. She turned 94 and (I'm not telling mine). The boys looked forward to the party for 2 days - won't make the mistake of telling them plans quite that far in advance again.

They were very excited to look at the birthday cake, the number of candles was hilarious to them (not to Katie and myself).

What I found interesting was that they've been given gifts over the past week, which they don't seem to know what to do with until we show them that there is something inside and it's for them. Gift bags are a total unknown. But when Katie started opening her gifts, Eli especially, sat there and watched each and every one and was excited that she'd gotten something.

We really need to get our video camera fixed because when it came time to sing Happy Birthday they were the first and loudest of the group.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Survival for The Adults and The Boys!

Well we made it through the doctor's appointment and lab draw. No adults crying that I know of and yes the boys did but not quite as loud as Tuesday. Only deaf for 30 minutes instead of 3 hours. Even better news was that the boys TB test came back completely clear. Another one of those things we're grateful for but is strange since the Philippines said their skin tests came back so high and it had meant Luke had to have a chest x-ray before they were released to travel home.
I guess there's another highlight to the day - Luke and Eli started talking as soon as we got to the truck in the parking lot (it took most of the day before) and we didn't have a kangaroo roundup in the parking lot. Luke even asked to go back into the doctor's office to watch the rest of Lion King. Disney is Magic!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Day After... DADDY'S DAY!

This was the first flight of the day out of Manila to Tokyo (a few worried faces)

For those of you who've read the previous blog we all did survive the night although Eli did finish the night sleeping with us. I was just glad to wake up with him standing by the bed saying, "sleep mommy?" Pretty much the first non-ticked off voice I'd heard since the pediatrician. I could live with the elbow in my back for that.

I took a trip to Omaha down to the Holt office and the grocery store. While I was gone Mike and the boys had a daddy's day. First to the park (they've begged everyday to go to the playground at school) then to Burger King (chicken fingers again - yuck!) and then for their first combine ride with Grandpa and Dad.

It's amazing how fast the English and Tagalog come out when they are excited. I pulled in the drive, they were playing basketball (yes there are finally Pickle's who play a sport). They came running up to the Jeep, yelling "Mommy, John Deere, driver, daddy, big, (some Tagalog - I have no idea) daddy, tractor, brrrrrr, (motion of corn coming out of auger), park, shoot ball, play, King, chicken. And thus they summed up their Daddy's Day. (I've not heard any hair raising tales of this outing but there's still time for it to come out.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who's Easier To Take To The Pediatrician?

Something I've never really contemplated too much.....until this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. when we finally made it back to the car with two of the most "unhappy" little men on the face of the planet (or at least in west Omaha).
Lucas had to have 5 "injections" - his word and Eli had 4. I'm pretty sure the nurses probably had a couple shots after work of their own - well deserved I might add. Thank God our pediatrician (at least I hope she's still our pediatrician) and her wonderful staff handled it as well as possible.

I'm going to have to get a whole lot braver to ever attempt to take them to the doctor by myself. I don't remember being so upset when the girls had their shots? Is this the beginning of selective memory? The girls will tell you yes!

Guess I'll get to find out on Thursday as they have to make a return trip for a couple more tests they were unable to complete today due to equipment malfunction? Now really did the equipment stop or were the techs traumatized too severely to continue?

So my theory is that a herd of kangaroos would be easier to take to the pediatrician than the boys are or will be. They've seen way too many doctors and needles in their short lives and I definately know it will be a loooooong time before we will not be conducting round up in the doctors office parking lot when they see where we've taken them again!
In short trauma of any kind is horrible...but when it involves kids it's horrendous beyond words!

Hair Cuts and Cruising in Style

All the boys have made a trip into town so I have a few minutes to post an observation. Yesterday was the big coat buying excursion. The boys hair seems to grow amazingly fast and Mike needed a haircut so we made a detour to Great Clips.

I explained to the boys what we were going to do at this "store". Lucas grins, Eli could have cared less. Mike told them he'd get a hair cut too. Eli's head came up so fast I was surprised he didn't give himself whiplash.

We explained to the ladies working there that this was their first "American" hair cut and that they have very little English. Wow! They had the best time. Mike went first and Eli watched. Lucas went next and Eli watched. When the next lady was ready for him he was a little shy so she set him in a chair next to Lucas who by now was turning his head this way and that way looking in the mirror with this huge grin. He looks over at Eli, nods his head and tells him, "This is good!" Up Eli climbed into the chair where she put the cape around his neck. All it took for a smile was for him to see penguins on that cape. (He loves penguins)

As they finished up the haircuts the stylists put wax in their hair. Oh my goodness. Mike has a flattop and the boys hair with aid of the wax looked like his. Lucas turns around to the mirror, makes this big O with his mouth, looks at Eli and says - "Look, like DADDY!" Whereupon, Eli flips around to the mirror gets the same O expression and turns around and runs to Mike to show him that now his hair stands up like Daddy's. Little do they understand, Mommy has to learn how to use the wax and for those of us who are hairstyling impaired well it's not easy, ok?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pictures From The Philippines

Lucas meeting "Lola" Dona Mae at our airport arrival.
More of the welcome committee, the 2nd cousins brigade
(Taylor & Landyn were there, just missed the picture)

At the People's Palace in Tagaytay

Sydney, Lucas, Eli and Rhea (our tour guide)

Rhea and Lucas singing and dancing with the band

The "Band" at Leslie's Restaurant in Tagaytay

Eli and Lucas at The People's Zoo Overlook

Taal Lake and Volcano

Two Little Fish Who Don't Know They Can't Swim

Overlook from The People's Zoo

Guess which one was mad and which was tired?
This was after the breaking of the monument at Rizal Park

Alison, Quin and The Gold Fish Gift, He's a WHAT?

Alison came up again this afternoon to spend some more time with the boys as yesterday and last night were "a little hectic". Her boyfriend Quin came along also. The boys think he's pretty neat and holler QUIN about as loud as Mom.
Quin knew from the posts of the aquarium that the boys love fish. As a thoughtful gift today he brought the boys two fish bowls with two fish each. They ran in and out as Quin and Alison got the bowls, rocks and water ready. They put the fish in the bowls, Lucas and Eli run in, Quin and Alison watching to see their reactions..... Lucas and Eli holler (again with the hollering) FISH. Eat, good food! Never a camera in hand when you need one. Come on people it was funny!
Before Quin and Alison headed to their homes we decided for Pizza Hut as it's a near mid-way point for everyone. We're working on who are the sisters and who are friends thing. Lucas is very interested in what everyone's job is. He defines Alison as nurse, Rachel as teacher and Sydney as driver (he found out she drives him to school). Quin is also studying to be a nurse. So during supper Lucas was once again defining everyone, came to Quin and Alison said "he's a nurse too". Again no camera - Lucas' face froze, mouth dropped open, frown appeared, sat bolt upright looks at me, then Alison, then Quin says "Noooooo!" Totally shocked him that a guy could be a nurse, guess there are some stereotypes already in place even this young. Poor Quin!

Coats, Mittens? School Now MOM!

Ok - Boys are loud. If anyone ever says my name in a normal tone again it may be a miracle. Every sentence is ended with MOM! That's just my statement for today not actually what this post is about.

Mike and I took the boys for coats as they are "cold MOM". Which is fine and expected. Except that they go to the door, open it and stand in the house as the cold air rushes in and scream COLD! Our answer, "yep, now shut the door."

We had to buy some smaller sized jeans for Eli today. In the Philippines he wore 5T, I had gotten smalls and 6/7. The little draw strings didn't even work unless we hung them around his neck. We'd been given some hand me downs (thanks Lynn) that worked to get us to the store without flashing anyone.

Coats were another experience. I didn't know boys were so opinionated on color. Nor did I realize that getting the boys to actually put their hands completely through the end of the sleeves would be such a chore. They both thought they should keep them up inside the sleeve as they were warm there. Therefore we moved onto gloves........mmmmm we sat in the Target aisle explaining how only one finger per finger hole. Eli opted for mittens, he looked at me like duh why didn't we just try these first. Sorry son, mommy is a little slow.

Boots, well they've never had shoes that fit so any size we put on them was "Good MOM", once we finally found the size then it was a matter of getting them to walk a little to see how they fit....ummm you'd have thought we put cement shoes on them. Two very unhappy boys when we told them they had to wear them when it snows. Maybe they'll build leg muscles before snowfall?

One last note for this post. Whenever we go somewhere 90% of the time we have to drive by the school. Lucas really wants to go to school right this minute. Rachel left this morning for college and Sydney decided to head back today also. He was really disappointed to not be going with her. So everytime we passed school it was "School now MOM?" Bet he's not that excited tomorrow about the doctor's appointments as he is about school.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Home Looks Pretty Darn Good!

Hi - Well we made it home this afternoon about 3:30. After a very long day and a half (I think that's how it works out - too tired to figure it out) we arrived in Omaha to a huge welcome of family and friends. The concept of family and friends has not been much a part of their world and for them to see so many people excited to meet them was a little scary but a whole lot more fun.

They went to bed tonight asking if their new friends can come tomorrow. Then Lucas changed direction and wanted to know if he can go to school tomorrow with Ate' Sydney. Ummm slow down bud let's touch ground first then we'll talk school. He actually had us drive him to the school first before we could come on home.

When I locate the camera I'll post some more pictures. Thank you all for supporting us and showing the boys what friends and family are about. Mike said tonight before hitting the sack that he'd imagine today had to feel like their first Christmas and birthday rolled into one. For two little guys who've had so little center around them...that's alright. Night!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ok - No More Sending Mike To The Pool Alone With The Boys

This is something that happened this a.m. when Mike took the boys up to the pool. He didn't put his swim trunks on as usual they last 10 - 30 minutes and it was colder this a.m. Anyway they came back and got their clothes back on. Mike sat down and said there were some other kids in the pool this time and the boys played with them. He said Eli really liked this one boy about his age and played with him. The boy got out, walked around the pool and jumped back in. So did Eli.....Eli can't swim! Eli could stand but the water was to the underside of his nose. Mike got him from the side and pulled him out.
About this time in the story Lucas came in and screams "Mommy - Eli (motion for jump in, motion for water over nose) "Daddy (motion for pulling) Eli (point at arm) Eli (cough)." Eli marches in the room. (Remember fewer English words) "Mommy, Daddy, arm, (motion for pulling out of pool). He turned around to Mike and hugged him. I'm not sure survival counts as bonding. Thus Sydney now chaperones the swimming pool.

Sorry Internet Is Not Our Friend Right Now...

Apologize to those looking for more pictures right now. For whatever reason we can write but not get pictures to upload. The hotel said there were power and internet issues last night but we still have a flakey connection. We'll keep trying at least until it's time to pack the computer for the airport.
Mike and Sydney have the boys back at the pool for round two. It was that or throw everyone in the bathroom while I tried to pack suitcases. We dug the suitcases out and the boys became very worried. We talked and showed them that their things were going too and then we just stopped and got all the toys and stuff for the plane and let them pack their backpacks and talk about them taking their things on the plane tomorrow to their new home.
One thing we do a lot of is talk. Amazing how much can be said when the two parties don't totally get everything in the conversation. Lucas laughs himself silly when I try to use Tagalog, Eli thinks I'm nuts. But both guys think their Dad is cool - that's cause he just grins and doesn't make a fool of himself.
Anyway the packing is pretty much done. As far as we know the flights are on time so we're leaving for the airport at 4:45 a.m. Manila time tomorrow. It takes Lucas and Eli just about 3 minutes to dress (Alison and Rachel take notice) so I'm hoping that we can throw their clothes on at 4:30 and have them downstairs without waking the entire hotel. Fat chance of that, it's a race to the elevator button, a race into the elevator (where they promptly crouch on the floor cause they don't like the way it makes their stomachs feel) and then a race out into whatever floor we're at. Sydney has learned to position herself in front of the elevators to block their exits. So far they haven't mowed her down.
Oh yah - I noticed something yesterday when we were at Tagaytay in the zoo. The boys were as explained below all over the place and I was chasing Eli and I turned around to see my 16 year old daughter in Lucas' path with her finger out saying "you will stop and hold my hand right now." Oh Lord it was like hearing my voice out of her mouth. She definately has the mom finger and eye brow raise down to a fine art form. Even better he's listened to her pretty consistently since. Once in awhile you'll see the upcoming battle for supremacy that's bound to rear it's head. Lucas has been the oldest and care giver, Sydney the youngest and has had two older, shall we say seasoned siblings to show her the roll of older sibling so let's hope we make it home before the monumental event.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I never would have guessed that being famous would be hard work. I am quickly finding out that here I am a hot item. Apparently having blue eyes makes you a movie star. Over the course of the week I've had several people come up to me and say, "You so beautiful..." and then give me this look of awe. Well, while we were at The Peoples' Palace, there were several girls staring at me and smiling, in return I smiled back and they all giggled. Next thing I know I turn around and they were trying to sneak pictures of me, I just gave a friendly laugh....really half scared. They motioned for me to stay where I was, so I politely did so as they took many pictures of me. We wondered a little bit more through the area and then we met up with them again. Where upon they all started giggling and talking fiercly among themselves. I was with Rhea at the time and so she told me that they wanted to take a picture with me. I figured okay...just one picture it will be fine, so I stop to pose with them. Finally, I got away after a picture with each of them and then a group picture. I think I made their day by stopping to do that for them. I still find it very odd though, "So eyes...fair beautiful!!!!" Rhea told me, "I told you that you'd be like a movie star here!" and wow, was she right!!! I have never felt so popular before, and I will never forget their pleased giggles. - Sydney

Friday - Tagaytay and a Camel

On Friday we took a trip out of Manila to Tagaytay to see the Taal Volcano, zoo, a palace that was never finished by Imelda Marcos. We stopped by several roadside stands, for directions, some to buy fruit. Good thing Rhea was with us or we would never have known what some of the fruit was. Only thing I consistently recognized was pineapple and cocunuts. I'll give it to Sydney she tried almost everything Rhea gave her unless it involved intestine lining, bone marrow, brains or heads of some varied animal. Sometimes it was only a taste but she did try.
We stopped by a small roadside zoo in Tagaytay. The boys had been cooped up too long and needed to run a little. Ha! The place was small so they couldn't go too far except for the side that plunged down a jungle cliff (again Mike's parenting of "they'll only do it once" was vetoed and they were banned from that area.) Any way they'd run from animal to animal about 2 areas ahead of us. Unfortunately I was worried as the kids could actually reach over to the cages within reach of the tigers, lion, one very unhappy monkey and an array of birds with beaks the size of my hand, so there was a lot of me saying no don't touch. Well as kids tend to think Mom doesn't know what she's doing (in any language) Lucas was 10 steps ahead, rounded a corner and up until this time was pretty fearless that is until he turned that corner and came face to face with the world's ugliest camel. I think he may be able to broad jump for the track team as we're pretty sure he cleared 15 feet straight back. Needless to say he was behind one of us until we left the animal area.

Amazed, Humbled, Proud and Inspired.....

I'm not sure I'll get pictures posted before we lose power (don't know why but power will be shut down from midnight to 4 a.m.)but I wanted to write about a very special part of our Tagaytay tour today.

Our tour director, Rhea used to be a social worker at an agency called CRIBS. She knew of a children's orphanage in Tagaytay (Chosen Children Village) that is home to up to 100 special needs orphans who have not been able to be adopted. The special needs run from cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness basically many high needs.

Rhea asked if we'd like to stop by and see the work and home they provide for these children. We weren't sure how the boys would handle walking back into an orphanage situation but said ok as long as they boys seemed to be handling it ok.

The directors were gone but a staff member gave us a tour of what is a truly amazing place. What they do with so little funding is absolutely astounding. Physical, occupational therapy, aqua therapy as well as an on site school. The children cared for range from babies to 24 years of age.

As we toured, the guide told us the children were about to go to lunch, we rounded a corner to the playground where about a dozen children were sitting in wheel chairs, toddlers were playing on the equipment and all those who needed assistance were being aided by those children that were able. It was such an amazing cooperative loving effort these children were demonstrating to one another.

As we stood there listening to the guide I realized that Eli was quiet (very unusual) and was waving at the little ones playing. I turned back and Lucas was beside a wheel chair helping and talking with a boy his age. Then he went to the next chair helped to clean the face of another child, on to the next to straighten someone who couldn't sit. He would have taken care of each and everyone on that playground if we hadn't had to move on. He spoke to each child whether they understood or even knew he was there. If they couldn't respond he simply patted them. Eli was helloing and goodbyeing and generally just making sure everyone got spoken to. Next we moved into the baby cottage where there were 3 infants being fed. Again with the patting and cleaning. Asking each of their names and then the names of the children helping to take care of the babies. Lucas turned to Rhea and asked where their mommys and daddys were. It took about 3 breaths before either she or the guide could answer without crying. Too late for me. I turned back around and Eli was stooped over looking into the face of a baby who couldn't hold his head up, the adult caregiver said "he's blind" Eli looks at me because he couldn't understand, I pointed to his eyes and said no see, Eli has a look when he's thinking hard it's kind of a scrunched up, pinched face - anyway he got "the look"- looked back at the baby patted his cheek and kissed the top of his head. He and Eli headed for the door and we went to the cottage where the rest of the children eat. They were divided by needs, cp, autism, hyperactivity, etc. Again the boys made the circuit of the room, talking, holding, patting, asking names, helping to push wheel chairs to tables.

I'm in total awe of two kids who weren't phased as some adults would have been by needs that were heartbreakingly difficult. I was sad to have to explain that we couldn't come back tomorrow to see the babies when our boys asked. I was proud that no matter how difficult one of the children's needs appeared they showed unconditional caring. I wish I could let each of you see this hour that we were there. I can't do it justice in writing. I hope it's something I am never too old to remember and I can't wait for you all to meet two little guys who may be over-active, impetuous and hard to understand but most importantly our sons who have this amazing capacity to love beyond there own understanding.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sorry - Exhaustion Hit Hard!

Sorry these are in reverse order of what went on today but as it's 3 a.m. forgive me!
Eli and Lucas found energy enough to swim after a long day!
Waiting for our ride at Rizal Park the last stop, Eli had just broke part of a national monument so he wasn't real happy right now and Lucas wanted to SWIM!

Yes there is a reason why in all pictures you see someone holding onto Eli. He is so fast that most shots with him in it are blurry. That and he really likes his Ate' Sydney.

Inside one of the cathedrals. Amazingly beautiful. Lucas said a prayer here. Not sure what he was praying about - "thanks - please let these people not be crazy - or please let them take me swimming now so I don't have to go to another church!" - I'm betting on the last.

Lilies in a moat at Fort Santiago.

I just like taking pictures of flowers. - Sorry indulge me.

Have you ever tried taking a picture in an aquarium with no flash, a billion people and constantly moving kids? Jay - Sydney wants you to get your job back at Henry Doorly Zoo and she has some pointers :)
The boys overlooking Manila Bay. Lucas kept insisting he could swim in it. The guide kept saying, "Yucky" This would be one of those spots we pulled Eli off a railing. Probably 40 feet down.

Sydney and Lucas. He's a hugger, so everyone be prepared!

The start of our tour day at Intramueros.

Oh no - can't remember where in Manila anyway.

Sorry everyone. I know we had some worried as I didn't post as usual. Many reasons, the leader being exhaustion and the boys discovering they can watch movies on my laptop. By the time baths and bedtime came around I couldn't go any further. So as usual it's 2:30 a.m. and here I am!
Yesterday was fun, exhausting, hot, interesting, exhausting, educational, hot and exhausting - get the picture. The boys really enjoyed the aquarium and Lucas was able to get more out of the historical sights. He remembers some from school. Eli could have cared less at some places. As long as we let him climb everything in sight he's happy. Not always safe as you'll see in some pictures.
We went to Intramueros, Fort Santiago, 3 cathedrals, gift shop (not a place for little boys) and Asian Village Restaurant, Ocean Park Aquarium and Rizal monument. Beautiful but man was it hot - 95 degrees and I'd hate to guess the humidity. The boys thrive in the heat, we just wilt. They are going to be so cold when we get back. Lucas freezes in the hotel with the airconditioning set on 75 degrees.
Friday we travel to Tagaytay. We debated after the over stimulation of yesterday whether or not to go but it's their last opportunity and our first for awhile to see the Philippine countryside so we'll go and hopefully travel easier. Dramamine is our friend.
Traffic in Manila - Crazy! 5 miles=2 hours (not rush hour) Hillary Clinton is in town which totally closed streets without warning. Roads our guides normally used weren't usable so we saw a whole lot of back streets and alleys. It is amazing to me the patience of the Philippine people. Saw only one fender bender. 5 lanes of marked roadways=7 lanes of traffic plus those created by motorcyles in between the 7 lanes. We don't need to use tax dollars to widen out interstates in Iowa, just drive like they do in Manila!
Enjoy the pictures and hopefully we'll be able to post again after our visit to Tagaytay.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let Day 3 Begin

As you can tell Day 3 is starting out a little slower. Sydney would shoot me if I took her picture but she's pretty much in the same condition as the boys. They've got to rise and shine as we're taking a tour of Manila in a little bit. Trying to let them rest as long as possible. We're off the Intramuros, American Cemetary and a couple of cathedrals. The guide has promised Sydney shopping! Whoo Hoo! Oh the boys are extremely excited about the aquarium. One thing I know they've gotten is when we told them we would see fish today. Big smiles - hope they didn't think I meant we'd be eating the fish - oops!

ICAB Meeting and a Quiet Afternoon

This is Lucas' picture taking skills. He's oh so careful of everything but really likes seeing the results of the camera on the computer.
This was Eli's attempt - can you believe it. Mike starting to look a little worn out. He'd chased the boys around and around at ICAB.

They think Daddy is pretty neat.

I can't help but think of our neighbor Shirley. When Alison was little she always wanted her to sit on her lap but Alison just didn't cooperate. Lucas' favorite spot seems to be my lap which is fine by me. He just wants so badly to be touched, hugged and reassured.

Right before we left ICAB Eva took a photo for us. Eli does not like to sit for pictures, it's not a joke anymore people. All the pictures we've had up to this point someone has been holding onto him. There's a reason, he's gone before you can press the shutter.

It seems like we waited forever to get to this part of the adoption the ICAB meeting. Where the Philippines says ok they are yours. It just seemed kind of "small". Signed two documents and wrote a note to the boys in case they ever go back to look into their earlier lives. Any way that took an hour this a.m. then it was onto the pool. That lasted about an hour. The "boys" Mike included had a blast. Sydney went along as babysitter/chaperone. I dealt with the airlines. Afterward we took the boys to eat. I'm amazed at the amount of food they consume. Lucas ate 2 hamburgers and fries. Eli ate chicken (again) with rice. By the time we were done eating Lucas was laying in the booth and Eli was melting into his seat. Mike brought them back to the room as Sydney and I conquered the mall. Actually it kicked us but we took a chunk out of it anyway. The boys also learned to use my camera so I'll post a couple of their master pieces. Overall a good afternoon but they are starting to become quiet. We're working on not letting Lucas give into everything for Eli. Harder than it sounds he's taken care of things for a long time. Amazingly if Sydney shakes her head no they immediately stop. She doesn't even make a sound. Wonder how long that will last.