Sunday, February 28, 2010

Have You Ever Traveled With 2 Old Deaf Men?

Well we have just returned from an out of town wedding. It was about 4 hours away and we were fortunate (?) to have all 5 of our kids be able to go with us. This was the first long distance excursion with everyone.

The boys had never been to a wedding and the uncertainty and crowd was a little intimidating to Lucas. Eli.....well resilient should have been his middle name or maybe we should have named him George, as in Curious. Unfortunately I'm not sure how many heard his commentary on the wedding kiss, "Yucky!" It seemed really loud to his mom. Once we made it through the ceremony and dinner they finally unwound enough to enjoy the dance. Finally! Pickle's who dance! I think they thought the whole thing revolved around them having a chance to see some of their favorite people (Gene and Pam ~ parents of the bride). Who knew Gene had tux pockets full of suckers; outside of the boys who seem to have radar for candy.

Anyway, you know the saying that if someone doesn't speak English just talk louder and then maybe they'll understand? Ya - well even when you live with non proficient English speakers sometimes it's easy to fall into that mode when you spend 4 hours in an enclosed vehicle repeating, answering, repeating, inventing new explanations, repeating and oh ya repeating. I'm quite sure there are some towns in Kansas that think our vehicle had a radio turned up really loud.....nope just us talking as if we are all hard of hearing.

On the way home we stopped to eat supper at Cracker Barrel which happens to be by an Applebee's. Eli wanted to know if we were eating at applesauce. Well that took 4 of us to help him say Applebee's (still calls it applesauce). But it does explain some other conversations in the car with him when I couldn't figure out why he suddenly started talking about eating applesauce. The we went into Cracker Barrel. Eli asked again what it was called. Simultaneously Alison and I said Cracker Barrel which came out rather loud as we were both saying it... he looks at us (you know that look kids get that mom's just know something is going to come out totally wrong but there is no stopping it?) and just as loudly says "Crapper Barrel?" Here is Alison and I shushing and he just keeps saying it. Thank goodness it was filled with the elderly and hard of hearing cause no one seemed to notice. Ok it was funny!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mastering the English Language is Wierd

I was speaking with a friend who came to the U.S. from Korea 6 years ago. She had to learn all her English starting at the age of 26. She is always very interested in how the boys' English is coming. It is the thing that she has found the most difficult outside of missing family.

I think the boys' English is coming along about on track for where we expected them to be. Some days are a little clearer, some weeks we have full sentences, others we're back to 3 words.

But then every once in awhile one or the other will pop up with a word that blows my mind. I'm concentrating on teaching I, we, they, today, tomorrow, tonight. Well tonight they've both got the sniffles and a cough so we gave them some cold medicine.

Eli takes nothing without a full explanation of what it is, what it will do, what it tastes like and who else has to take it. I'm waiting for him to ask for a complete listing of ingredients next....but I digress....anyway after taking the medicine he hands me the cup and says "delicious", huh? Delicious....really. We struggle with the word I but can come up with delicious. Go figure!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remember Those Baby Pictures

I was working on the blog and looked up to see the header picture of the boys. It looked funny to me and then I realized, they don't look like that anymore. The picture is roughly a month and a half old and they have changed so much.

Glasses, lost teeth, about 2 inches in growth, a little heavier. Just looking more their ages...which is good but it's kind of like looking at your kids' baby pictures and then realizing that they aren't babies anymore.

While the boys weren't with us as babies the changes that they've gone through these past 3 months are really remarkable. I just hadn't stepped back to look at their physical growth. It's one of those "glad they are doing well, sad they are growing up so fast already."

We have a wedding this week-end, hopefully we can get a family shot that is updated. Need to pull the camera out again!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oh! Mommy You Sick?

Yep. Nothing freaks Lucas out as much as Mike or I not feeling well. I've had a nasty head and chest cold for the past 4 days and a headache that doesn't stop. Needless to say talking hasn't been something I'm doing a lot of right now and he's all about talking (loudly).

I must have looked particularly crummy Monday as he looks at me and says, "Mommy, you no good." Huh? He must have realized that didn't come out quite right as he backed up and said, "sorry, you sick?" Ok, I'll take that. Eli must have gotten the drift as I've gotten more hugs from him over the past several days. I'll just be glad if they don't get this stuff.

Last night Lucas instructed me, "you stay bed, sleep." He's not past that whole "take care of everybody" thing. I think I'll try cotton in my ears to deaden the sound when they get home today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

See Me Full!

Ok pull out your imagination for this post.

Lucas and Eli love to eat, eat pretty much anything, eat at great speed. Typical boys and I'm not complaining except for the speed part. They are learning to slow down but until they master it we usually have to give reminders and then at some point say I think you've probably had enough for now.

Well Eli has taken it upon himself to develop his own full monitoring system. He'll be eating along and we see him pull his shirt up and look at his belly. When it reaches a "Eli determined expansion" size, he proudly announces, " full." Ok bud, I'm sure grateful that skin is expandable!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You Know When You Can't Make Ends Meet?

Well today was one of those days for us. Mike was called to an account late this afternoon, Sydney was going out of town with her speech team and I couldn't make it home from work until 45 minutes after she needed to leave.

Luckily Mike's mom and grandmother were willing to watch the boys for that gap time. Luckily for us all that the boys really like to visit Lola Ruth and Lola Katie. They had cake and snacks and colored pictures and watched tv. And oh did I mention that they rocked in the rockers? Yep it is one of their most favorite things to do. Rock in a rocker. Unfortunately when I picked them up I didn't have a camera, they looked like two little old men rocking away watching tv. When they watch tv they don't need their glasses but the rule is they don't take their glasses off without giving them to me (sometimes they actually pay attention to that rule) so this time they just slid their glasses to the ends of their noses thus only increasing the "old man" look. I'm not sure how may miles Lola Ruth's rockers are good for but I think the boys used up 1/2 their life expectancy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Explain I'm NOT Holding Them Hostage!"

That is the call I received at work this morning from Sydney. Let's back up, the kids' school started 2 hours late, mine started as usual. Mike got the boys around for school before he left for work and Sydney was to drive them all to school when it was time.

The boys were explained (apparently not well) that yes there was school but a little late starting. Mike thought it was covered when he left. Ummm....nope.

Sydney called to ask that I explain to them that no she was not being mean and refusing to take them to school. They had their coats, boots and book bags on and were ready an hour early.

First I attempted to explain to Lucas - his response, "no school now", "me go now" "Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. McGinn at school!" Finally hit on the phrase that no his teachers were not at school yet and he couldn't go until they got there. That seemed to work for the coat and bag removal - the boots stayed on. Then it was Eli's turn - "MOMMY, driver SYDNEY, school" - I mentioned before routines are big in their (and our) lives. I did the whole explanation thing again and finally ended with you take off your things and Sydney will set the timer, when it rings you can go to school.

It all worked, Sydney is a little traumatized, the boys have totally forgotten it - Alison and Rachel probably think Sydney's just getting a little payback for things she pulled with them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Goodnight Mommy and Holding Hands

Well I posted earlier this evening and thought I'd follow it up with something that just happened at the boys' bedtime.

Bedtime is very regimented; bathroom, drinks, lights out, kisses and good night. Same thing, night after night. It has to happen in this order for the boys to be comfortable.

Eli is our son who has not been real comfortable with hugs, snuggling, generally touching. We let him initiate whatever he's comfortable with. It's gotten better and better over the past several months. He comes up and will give us a hug more spontaneously.

Tonight happened to be the night that I was the last one in the room. I gave Lucas his hugs and kiss good night and leaned over to do the same with Eli. Everything as usual except when I went to stand up he grabbed my hand (he's not into holding hands at all) in both of his, pulled me down with our hands to his cheek and just held it there. Pretty soon (not nearly long enough for me) he let go and said goodnight Mommy. At a quick glance it probably doesn't seem like much but in Eli's world pretty bold move. Maybe he knew the "working" mommy needed a little bit extra tonight.

Working Mom Guilt - Not a Great Feeling

Well today was yet another snow/wind/ice (I'm not even sure) day off of school for the kids. Unfortunately I work for a neighboring school district who did not cancel.

I was really fortunate not to have to work outside the house when the girls were little so I never had to experience going to work and leaving the kids behind. It's not like I had to find a sitter, Sydney is a great built-in sitter. (one we are very conscious of not using unless necessary - listening to their ate' is not always high on the boys' lists of things to do - more like "let's see how irritated we can make her!") Mike was also working from home today. So no big deal right? Nope, I felt like dirt ALL day. Major case of guilt.

I remember one of my friends saying that she felt so guilty taking her recently adopted daughter to daycare. While I totally sympathized I can say I just didn't get it. You spend all this time waiting and then you have this brief time together and then wham - back into the rat race.

I have to say I felt guilty taking a 3 month leave at the time and now I'm so grateful that I did cause I probably wouldn't have lasted.

Mike brought the boys down later this afternoon to visit the office and get out of the house (probably to save his and Sydney's sanity too). The guilt didn't stop as they were getting ready to leave Lucas said, "you come home now Mom!" I explained I'd be home in an hour. Not good enough - "No you come now, no work, home." I have to say he has gotten very good at the application of said guilt. I need to be very aware of that but he has the ability to put on a face that would make the most die-hard workaholic chuck his job.

All survived the day, hopefully there is school tomorrow for all of us. I'm thinking that even with all the books we read before the boys came home that there is a really big hole in the information for after you bring your kids home.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bumpy Brain and Road Rash at Burger King?

Today was what has become our Saturday since Eli started playing basketball. We went to his game and afterward Sydney and I went to Omaha on errands while Mike took the boys to Burger King and home.

Tonight at supper Mike says "Ummmm, we got road rash you might want to see." Huh? I know the basketball game was a little rough but didn't remember seeing Eli hit the deck. But not to worry I didn't have long to wait for explanations as Lucas and Eli gave detailed accounts as to how they played in the playground at Burger King where Eli acquired a matching set of elbow road rash. Lucas was not to be outdone because he explained what I believe was his head bouncing off both sides of the tube slide. I stopped trying to understand how this kind of play could be fun or why guys seem to think the more war wounds obtained the better the play time was.

As a side note I've also decided that I have to rearrange our places at the table. Right now I sit between both boys, I'm getting a sore neck as they love to engage in "ping pong" conversation. I realized this is the source of my sore neck when they were recounting their Burger King adventure and I caught sight of my reflection in the window and I looked like one of those bauble headed animals.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sound of Music?

This is a common scene that greets me when I arrive home. The boys hanging from trees.

This just reminded me of a scene in the Sound of Music where the kids were hanging from the trees. Only things missing.....

the drapery clothes
the summer weather
5 additional siblings
singing (the noise coming from the boys was NOT singing)
and a governess (where's Julie Andrews when you need her)
Anyway they are quite the tree climbers, if Eli can't reach Lucas improvising a lift system with loose branches.....wonder how many broken bones we'll acquire?

Scooping for a Hoop!

Well when winter house confinement gets to boys they become full of energy and ingenuity. I arrived home from work today to have the boys meet me at the car door saying, "Come, surprise, come, special, come, surprise!" Oooookay, I'm thinking good school papers? Nope they had uncovered our patio which we haven't really seen since mid-December so that they could play basketball.

Something about the winter coats, gloves, overalls and boots just doesn't make for a whole lot of successful shots but they definitely got a work out making it happen.

As a side note Lucas lost a tooth and Eli received his first birthday party invitation. Now I just have to try to gear myself up better for my arrival home after work. It's been just a little over a week since I went back to work and having the noise of an elementary school all day, I was used to coming home to relative quiet.....ummm not any more.....all is good!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Touch of the Past, A Friend for the Future

Tonight the boys were able to Skype with a little friend who lived at the same center in Zamboanga. We'd been trying to set this up for the past month and it finally came together this evening. They loved getting to see their friend again. We had pictures prior to this and they've been able to tell us a lot from those about RSCC, the workers, the layout of the home and day to day living there.

I have to say it was a little overwhelming for Eli as he has become our thinker and was excited to see her and her family but he couldn't quite get out everything he wanted to say so he was a little frustrated but since we ended the call and have had supper, he's started in with the questions and reminiscing.

Lucas was a little envious of the big brothers their friend has (don't think they'd trade their sisters but would add a few brothers). He is our best information source about life in Zamboanga and details. Eli is more of the worrier about where all the children are that shared their lives for the past 5 years. Tonight's visit was really neat to experience, I hope we're able to have more of these visits.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What Is Valentines?

That is a whole lot harder than you think to explain. Imagine trying to explain a "holiday" to a child that has never heard of it, now multiply it by two and then imagine two screwed up, puckered faces that burst out laughing when you fail. Long story short the explanation stands at "give your friends cards with candy in them." We really need to rethink our holidays. If you can't put it into terms a child understands perhaps it's a little more commercial than necessary. The boys had fun signing their valentine cards. Putting their friends names on them was a little challenging for Eli so Sydney helped him with some of the letters. Lucas surprised us by knowing how to spell almost everyone's name in his class.....go figure. I can tell you the boys took the whole card signing much more seriously than I remember the girls when they were in elementary. Now comes the dreaded wait for school party day and the sugar overload. Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Can Happen In A Year

It's been a year this week since we began working to bring Lucas and Eli home from the Philippines.

In this past year we've completed enough paper work to paper the walls of the White House (if not that than one very large office at the Immigration Department) we've read enough adoption books to fill 3 shelves in a library (beginning adoption, waiting to adopt, attachment, trauma, family adjustments, cross cultural adoption, international adoptions to name a few subject matters) we've had background checks by our local police and the FBI, we've completed social worker visits, parenting classes, we saw our 2nd oldest graduate from high school and our oldest move into her own apartment. We passed for approval to adopt from our agency, our government, the Philippine government and the Philippine Inter-Country Adoption board, our physicians, our kids' physicians, a psychologist and probably the mail man. We prayed for patience and really got a good lesson in practicing patience to make sure we knew it's importance. We received 3 dozen pictures of our boys. We learned some Tagalog. We were in and out of more of our government buildings than I previously knew existed. We anxiously watched as our boys survived 4 typhoons and massive flooding over the summer. We mastered security lines and body scans. We moved our second oldest to college in the fall. We received undescribable support from our family, friends, church and community. We navigated 2 U.S. airports, 2 international airports. Restrained ourselves (barely) with airline mechanical delays. We landed in a foreign country and were parents to 8 & 9 year olds 12 hours later. We learned more Tagalog in a week than we had in the previous 8 months, we traveled back to the U.S. with no major issues (thank God!) Our family expanded by 2 starting in February but was united in November. We've re-entered the world of the elementary school system, adapting to having 2 sons and 3 daughters, gaining a better understanding of the much heard of "attachment", entered the world of wrestling and basketball, re-entered the world of pediatricians, vaccinations and growth spurts.

Wow it has been a fascinating, wondrous and tiring year. But a year that we wouldn't have missed for anything....we have our sons, our girls have their brothers and Lucas and Eli have a family. 2009 was pretty darn good!