Monday, May 31, 2010

Not Easily Forgotten

When Lucas and Eli first came home they spoke often of people, places and things that happened to them in the Philippines. As time has gone on they still talk about these things but now are inserting experiences they've had since arriving home.

Lucas fights very hard to remember everything from the Philippines. He can tell you his daily schedule, the things he played in Manila, his chores at the orphanage and about all the people in his life. Slowly he is becoming "accepting" that there are pieces of his life there that he won't always be able to recall clearly. Not to say that doesn't make him sad, just allows for him to grieve it and open up for new experiences. I've written some of his stories down so later he will still have his thoughts if not the actual memories.

Eli doesn't seem to have that same need to remember every detail as I think his dependence on Lucas to do that for him has always worked in the past. We hear far fewer remembrances from him but that is not to say that he doesn't have them. Once in awhile we catch one of those flashes.

This week-end the boys were outside and I heard Eli scream, (ok they scream and yell outside a lot, so you listen for the "important" screams) Before I could reach the door Eli came running and hollering for Mike. When we got him slowed down enough to understand he was upset about hearing gun shots. We live in the country and it's not at all uncommon to hear neighbors target practicing. Our neighbors are not close but in the country sound travels. It took some convincing but we finally got Eli to understand that it was not the same kind of shooting that he had heard and experienced in Zamboanga and told him who it was and what they were doing.

Both Lucas and Eli have talked a lot about the guards, soldiers and guns in the Philippines. It also made a very real impression on us when we went to Manila. You just don't see a whole lot of that in our insulated world. It is definitely one of those memories I wish they neither one had and were able to easily forget.

I have to say that while we were waiting for the boys to come home last summer and were thinking of all the things we may need to address with them, gunfire was not on my radar.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Explain Farming - You Try It!

You know I write a lot about explanations to the boys about pretty much everything, which is totally expected and amazing to watch when the explanation makes sense to them.

Unfortunately, not all the explanations are absorbed. Tonight I took Lucas to his baseball game by myself. It was one of the few times we've had one on one time lately. The game was held about 20 miles from our home so we had "car time explanations" on the way to the game; what town is this, how far, where does that road go, where is my coach, where are my get the picture.

On the way home (it was a really long game!) I was tired and he was tired so the car questions were not played and I realized that we'd both been quiet for about 10 minutes.....totally unheard of for either us....and then I started watching Lucas which probably wasn't the safest while driving.

Anyway, he had his nose on the side window looking out at the farm land we were passing. I finally asked what he thought about what he was seeing. He asked what the green on the ground was. I told him it was corn that the farmers planted and was just coming up. He looked back outside and said, "That not here when I come to America." Again we went back over the seasons and that he arrived in winter and corn doesn't grow in Iowa in winter. He went about another 5 minutes and said, "Corn is good, it green, grow big all the time - no snow, more corn." I do believe the kid is still traumatized by this past winter. Wait until he sees corn that is 7 feet tall.

Then we talked about all the farmers he knows. He now thinks he should tell them to grow corn all the time so that there is "no more cold!" Guess the farming explanation will need to be revisited.

What's Your Morning Seranade? not boring....even at 6:30 a.m. This morning I was getting ready for work and came out to the kitchen to find Lucas dressed, glasses on, sitting at the table ready for breakfast. Because Mike is busy taking a class right now I had asked the boys if they could be extra helpful in the mornings this week and help get ready for school. Well he did, Eli showed 10 minutes later. Yeah for the testosterone factor, their sisters were a "little" slower in the rise and shine department but everyone did manage to at least move before I left for work.

Anyway, I digress. As I'm finishing up my make-up I hear Lucas singing at the table. Then I clue in as to what it is. "All the Single Ladies", Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" and then to conclude the mix......"Michael Row Your Boat Ashore". I'm just hoping I didn't show up to work looking like a clown because I couldn't stop laughing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Two Very Important People

Eli and His Teacher at the Spring Concert
Lucas and His Teacher
These past 6 months Lucas and Eli have made so much progress. One area that we had expected to be difficult was school. Without the help of their teachers and the staff at school, we know without a doubt they would not be where they are right now. Here is a glimpse of two people that the boys think the world of.

Birthday Wishes.....

Eli's Birthday Crown from School
He celebrated his summer birthday last week with his class
Eli's birthday is quickly approaching, 10 days and counting. As we sat, again at the supper table, I asked him what he might like for his birthday.
This wasn't so much an issue back in January with Lucas' birthday as he was pretty decisive on what he'd like to receive.
Eli very thoughtfully paused and contemplated his answer. I'm thinking ok he's really got a list to go through. Guess what he asked for..............

a cake. Mom please white cake with frosting!
Ok, I'm once again left with my mouth open. That seriously is all we could get out of him. With help from Lucas he asked for Superman and Spiderman. (Those being Lucas' favorites.) Later he came back and said, "Is cake ok?"
Yep that's a sure thing!

The Eyes Have It

Lucas has been fascinated from the very beginning by people's eyes. Blue eyes are his favorite as he really wants to have eyes like his dad.

This week-end we were sitting at the supper table, he grabs my arm and very worriedly asks, "what is wrong?" Huh? I said nothing, trying to scramble through the conversations going on at the table that he may have not understood. He insisted with, "What wrong with your eyes, they black?"

Ok, tact is not in the boys' realm, social norms pass them by so far. So I figured he was talking about the dark circles under my eyes. So I started to explain that. Nope that's not the concern. He was talking about my pupils. It was very bright in the house so they were smaller than I guess he'd seen.

He calls any eyes that are a different color than his, American eyes. I tried to explain that everyone has pupils and he did too, that it was just very hard to see his as his eyes are so dark. Ok that ended his eating as he had to run to the mirror to try and see his pupils. I'm surprised his eye lids are still attached as he pulled them every which way to try to see into them. Once again I lost this explanation because he wasn't able to see his.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oh, Brother!

The following post is from "Big (and sometimes frustrated) sister, Sydney.

Over these months that we've had with Lucas and Eli, there has been many interesting things shared and said. I must admit a few times they've made me laugh so hard I cried a little. Everyone always asks how I am doing with them, now that I'm not the youngest anymore. Well, I am learning to be an older sister, learning to be on my guard at all times because they like to surprise me, I have also gotten better at catching things; they always keep me on my toes.

One thing that has always, and probably will always, catch me off-guard is when they say things in plain English. They will say them as plain as day, and it is usually directed at me. On a normal day it is, "Me no do dis," or, "Me no like dat." But on days like today, it goes something like, "SYDNEY! STOP POKING ME!", or, "Sydney, please help me with this!"

My personal favorite was tonight at the dinner table when Eli pops up and says, "Sydney's my friend." I thought, "Oh, that's really nice," then he continues, "Sydney can fly!" This is where I thought to myself, "Hm, I guess being his friend gives me magical powers." I'm not really sure what I should make of this, but hey, at least I'm his friend tonight!

I think I'm finally getting a hang of being an older sister now. It's kind of nice; although loud at times, it is fun. To all of you who are asking if they're picking up the language, most definitely! They might not quite get it all the time, but if you get them worked up, or they have something to say, they'll get their point across.
-Sydney Pickle

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Screaming Snakes!

All I can say is yuck! Boys (and men because Mike was there too) can be so gross sometimes. Saturday was really nice here so we were trying to get some yard work accomplished. I was very happily mowing when I literally ran over a snake. Not a little one either (yes it was a gardener snake) but it was about 2 feet long. Let me say again.....Yuck!

Unfortunately for everyone including the snake it was not killed, at least not right away. I'm sorry I hate snakes ok? I did what I felt appropriate and screamed. Well apparently it was an impressive scream because it brought all the guys running....wish that worked when it was time to help in the house.

The boys who have discovered several little snakes in the yard prior to this are not what I would call particularly brave (they will deny this and claim great heroic deeds) when it comes to this latest encounter....they too screamed like little girls until Mike and our dog got ahold of the snake, then it was a complete free for all. I put the mower in gear and left the guys, the dog and the snake in the dust. The guys and dog are still here, the snake is not!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

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"This is MY Mom"

Friday was extremely busy around here as the last couple posts give you a glimpse. Yesterday at the track and field, Mike, Rachel and I were busy running between the Lucas and Eli's events to try to catch each of them.

Many times it's in one of these "new" situations that the boys are learning for the first time that they also manage to teach and surprise us.

Each time I came into the vicinity of Lucas he would run up, grab my arm and drag me to his classmates and say to them, "This is MY mom!" First time I was surprised (I've met some of these boys before) the second time he says, "I have a mom." He'd point to Rachel and say, "Rachel my sister." Ate' has been replaced with sister. He really wanted to make sure that his friends knew he had a family. This was his first foray into introducing us to someone instead of us introducing him.

For a group of 9 year old boys to patiently be introduced to a mom and sister they are a pretty neat bunch of kids. They probably wondered why Lucas thought it was so special but it's good that they just envelope him as being just like the crowd. It was kind of nice for me (cause I know this too will not last) that my son thought it was neat to have a Mom......I know the teenage years await.

Baseball Scrimmage

Lucas and Eli are now moving into baseball as we are finishing soccer. We asked them before signing them up if they were interested in all these sports.....yes I know stupid question! Friday night after a morning at track and field day Lucas' team had their first scrimmage game. For those of you with boy athletes I'll say use your imagination on Mike trying to explain to Lucas and Eli the "equipment" placement before they left for school that morning. No I didn't take pictures! But it certainly is burned into my brain. Unfortunately Dad ran late at work so wasn't home for the "mom no help with this!" moment when Lucas was dressing!

Track and Field Day

Lucas' face speaks volumes

Click on the picture above to get a closer look at Eli's expression

Lucas and Mrs. Armstrong
Mrs. Armstrong helps Lucas in the classroom
and is pretty neat in his eyes
Eli placed 2nd in the standing broad jump.
The faculty and student helpers were so great explaining the
events to the guys as they'd never seen most of them.
Lucas' game face before the tennis ball throw.
All concentration.

Friday was a big day for the boys at school. That's to say that they got to spend the entire morning outside in the sunshine at the school's track and field day. Pictures say a lot more than I can. Only one thing....Eli wants to do it again on Monday...ooops back to the grind Eli.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Family Is What You Make Of It

Supper seems to be a really good time for the boys to unload and educate us on their lives and to expand our own. We hear all kinds of things; Filipino memories, friends new and old, aunties and guards from the orphanage, school happenings and questions on everyday stuff that they've been wondering about.

I can't even tell you what brought this conversation around but I said something about my dad. My dad died in 2001 at 86 years of age. We have a photo of mom and dad but for whatever reason until tonight it hadn't clicked. Anyway when I said, "My dad...." Lucas looked at me and said, "You have dad? He go away? He come here tomorrow?" (We have family coming for Mother's Day) So began the discussion of Dad's death, what caused it and lots of references to Lola Katie's recent death. Eli wanted to know if his heart was tired.

You could see the gears moving and practically hear them. Lucas looked at Mike and I was sure he was going to ask if Mike would die but he didn't. He was absolutely amazed to know that I had a Dad that isn't here with the rest of our family. He knows Lola Ruth is Mike's mom and Lola Dona Mae is my mom and that Grandpa Jerry is Mike's dad but hadn't questioned the absence of Dad. One more hole in the family bridge that needs to be built. Later Lucas pats my arm and says, "You my mom, me you family now." I just never thought of myself as an orphan but that's a connection Lucas seems to have made at a time when he is comparing everything past and present life.

Friday, May 7, 2010


One of the first questions when adopting that the agency should ask and is totally not (at least in my spotty memory) should be: How do you handle tense sporting situations? How would you handle your child being injured by (I am totally understating this as this blog is viewed by children) unsportsmanlike conduct?

I should probably be glad that they didn't ask that question cause my answer would be that my heart would be in my throat, biting my tongue, let my husband go to the field (cause I may injure the little poop who hurt mine and take out a few Dads from the other side who thought the head kick after the ball was dead deserved laughter) and I definitely would fail miserably in not embarrassing my kid during the 1/2 to check out his eye.

The jury is out on whether Eli will be sporting a black eye and a knot on his temple for tomorrow's double header. Lucas, Eli and Mike all assure me that it is fine (the kid got nailed by a soccer ball after the whistle - come on!) and the injury will just make him look tough. Probably will. Eli may have joined some tough boys club with his first soccer injury but this is not a mom who enjoys this at all. Now that I've cleared that from my mind, I will restart my heart and go check him one more time. Wonder how embarrassed he'll be when he reads this when he's 18.

Mother's Day Gift Brawl

Well....not exactly. Lucas and Eli are very excited about Mother's Day on Sunday. They have watched tv shows with Mother's Day themes and have lots of ideas. All of which they've shared with me every night, telling me which ones they want to do....I finally had to break the news to Mike that he may want to do some planning or Sunday morning could be a little rocky.

For two guys who have not celebrated this particular holiday they are sure enjoying the build up to it. It's really neat how we get to see things as new and exciting that we may have been taking for granted in the past.

For the past 2 days Lucas and Eli have been one upping each other in the gift category. So far they've not told me anything as the argument stops when I come in the room and they shoe me away saying secret, Sunday. Then when I leave the argument resumes with much, "No! Mom's Sunday me this or me that." Hope they enjoy the day as much as I have in the lead up to it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mom, You Smell!

Well not exactly what you want to hear first thing in the a.m. from your oldest sons' mouth. But I took a breath and said, "Oh?" What can I say it was very early there were no clever responses in my brain.

He did redeem himself though. Lucas said, "You smell good (perfume) just like flower in Philippines." Ok I'll take that as a compliment but I think he may need to work on his delivery before he gets a girl friend!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Horsing Around

Eli and Lucas and Will the Wonder Horse
Aunt Teddie, Lucas and Cousin Loryn (not sure who had more fun)

Lucas wants a horse - bet you all are surprised!
The boys have been looking forward to riding horses at Aunt Teddie's house since they saw her picture with a horse that we sent them in Manila last summer. The pictures can tell you how thrilled they were.

The Wisdom and Insanity of Road Trips

During the course of 5 days this past week we spent 36 hours in a vehicle with 4 of our 5 kids on the way to and from New Mexico for Grandma Katie's funeral.

My dad was always one for vacation road trips as long as they went to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. I think he was either insane or brilliant to pack his kids and later his grand kids into the car and willingly drive away from home for a week to 10 days.

I have to say if you want to get to know your kids (any age) better this is a sure fired way to do it as long as you have a firm grip on yourself, your wallet and your sense of humor.

This is the furthest the boys have been away from home and the longest since we came back from the Philippines in November. They handled the whole trip pretty well, Alison and Sydney handled it pretty well (Rachel had college finals so she missed this trip). I should probably qualify this by saying they tolerated one another in an enclosed space for extended periods with only minor eruptions and sibling disagreements. I'm also pretty sure Alison and Sydney will not be getting into a vehicle with their brothers for awhile.

Below are some of the dialogue from the car:
  • Eli -"me no like Sydney!"
  • Lucas - "what is thees?" (Texas)
  • Lucas - "me no like" (Oklahoma)
  • Eli and Lucas to Sydney - "speak ENGLISH!" (she said caballo)
  • Trying to get Eli to pronounce elasticman - came out Eli-astic
  • Eli talking about the mountains in New Mexico - "let's go up!" Lucas -"no you fall down!"
  • Sydney trying to get Eli to try strawberries - tells him he's never had them. He says he has......strawberry Poptarts

And so went the billion conversations throughout this road trip.

So while my dad certainly enjoyed our family road trips I'm betting he secretly loved being slightly deaf from the farm tractor.