Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lucas' Disgust

I have fallen short, once again and not for the last time in Lucas' eyes. I threw away some "very important" papers! Or at least in his eyes they were VERY important. What were they and why were they important?

They were school work that should have been signed and returned to school per his teachers' directions. We scoured the house last night looking for them but I'm pretty confident they went into the trash during the holiday clean up. You should have seen the look of disgust he gave me. I'd have taken a picture but I'm also confident he'd have thrown a fit.

Even after promising to email the teacher...which I actually remembered to do.....it still took a while for him to come to terms with the fact that I can no longer be trusted with his all important school papers. It was a good lesson to learn, perhaps he should apply this knowledge, that when mom starting cleaning you'd best have your things picked up....can we say.... toys!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Soap Box Post - Beware

For those out there that have read this blog or talked with me, you know that I will probably discuss almost anything as long as Mike and I feel it to be constructive and a non issue for our family now or in the future.

Recently a few individuals have commented on whether we feel we are spoiling the boys. As I could address this topic to infinity and never affect those that feel an obligation to manage others' parenting I will say this:

1. We parent the way we feel is best for all 5 of our children and meet their individual needs. Those outside the family are not aware of those needs and are not in a position to sit in judgement. Nor do we need to explain each and every issue we deal with...good, bad or otherwise.

2. Boys and girls do have different needs. Guess what? We are around children ALL the time and our kids don't behave better or worse than any other child. If we must compare our kids with others they actually have less material possessions than their peers.

3. This is very specific to the boys....they did grow up for the 5+ years in an orphanage, they did not have personal possessions, they did not learn how to take care of such things (they did not have it to take care of). They are learning what owning and caring for things entails.
While we don't intend or purposely try to compensate by buying them loads of things it probably does seem like they have a lot or get a lot. But think of it this way, when you are 9 and 10 years old, living in a different home, family, culture, a different climate, a different country you need to have the tools/toys/clothes to adapt to that new life. As parents we will do and provide whatever our family needs in order for our kids to be happy and well adjusted.

For those out there that provide each of us with non-judgmental emotional support....thank you. We can never let you know how much it is needed and appreciated. For those that still need to learn to check their "good intentions and advice", please take a moment and review your own choices and whether you are living in an isolating, judgemental bubble that hinders you from enjoying people around you. We don't claim to have every answer to every question and issue, we do claim that our kids are loved and we will choose to love them, discipline them, provide for their necessities and spoil them as we choose.

From the beginning of our adoption we have tried to be very open with those who have a genuine interest either in the adoption process or in our adoption in particular. Yes, with such openess we "invite" those with negativity access, it doesn't mean we are going to let that negativity dictate to us. We choose to share quite a bit, sometimes more than is always comfortable, in an effort to educate and to ease Lucas' and Eli's transition here at home. No parent, biological or adoptive, has every answer. No child, biological or adoptive is perfect, without mistakes learning and growth don't occur. What we can offer to those with questions is support, encouragement and a listening heart. That's what I'm striving for and for those who choose to express their negative opinions....perhaps you are the spoiled individuals.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Underwear Food

This evening Mike and I took all the kids and Sydney's boyfriend to a restaurant for supper. As a side note I don't think we should be allowed in public for numerous reasons. Those exact reasons are yours to imagine.

The boys' ordered a pizza to share. That should have been a pretty safe food choice.....if you believe that you've not experienced dining with Eli. Food is never boring when he is around. I about choked on my steak when Eli announced to every table within 20 feet of us, "Look underwear!" I gave myself whiplash looking at him and there to my amazement and his credit he has created a perfect set of briefs from his pizza slice. It was definitely a proud moment for the entire family.....only surpassed as he shoved the "fruit of the loom" in his mouth.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mom, Where Were You?

In the past I've written about the instances where one or the other of the boys will start a conversation mid thought and it's our job to catch up and figure out the topic. Tonight, I caught the conversation okay, I just didn't have an answer that did the question justice.

Lucas was sitting with me watching tv (Dancing With the Stars - meets his need to dance like Michael Jackson - what can I say MJ was a huge star in the Philippines). Lucas started in with the question, "Mom, last year you always watch this?" I told him yes. He then very seriously turned to me and asked, "Last year me in Philippines, where were you? You here and me in Philippines, why you not there with me?" Talk about the loaded question of the day....nope he won question of the week.

Neither of the boys have ever seemed real interested in the story behind their adoptions or how the whole process came about. They will ask pieces here and there, they will ask if what they remember is "really real" but to question what was happening here in our family and what they were experiencing at the same time in the Philippines is definitely a new deeper level of thinking.

It will be interesting to see if this is the basis for Lucas' latest "quiet" period. The last few weeks he's kind of been in a holding pattern in school, at home and socially. Usually it means he's trying to process everything that's going on or there is something he's pondering. I suppose if I were him I'd wonder why it took a long time for Eli and himself to have their family. I'm just glad that we are able to have such neat little boys for sons......even if we didn't get there quite as quickly as we'd all wish.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Gift of Silence

Tonight Mike decided that he and the boys would go birthday shopping for me. I can say shopping....not high on any of the threesomes list.

With expected groaning and moaning from the 10 and under bracket, Mike informs me as they shuffle forth into shopping that my gift from him is this evening full of silence.

What am I doing? Cleaning for Thanksgiving, in blessed peace and it's actually staying clean for the next 2 hours! Whoopee!

Monday, November 22, 2010

All I Want For Christmas

I know, I know, Thanksgiving is still coming and already the talk of Christmas is here. Actually if you look in the stores and listen to tv we've been in the Christmas season for two months.

Today Alison did us the supreme pleasure of asking the boys what they would like for Christmas. Good for her, she's planning and budgeting....bad for us because now it's on the boys' radar.

So after a day of listing the complete inventory of Toys R Us, Eli came over to me right before bedtime and said, "Mom, I know what I have for Christmas." I thought he'd used the wrong word in the sentence. I thought he meant what he wanted. Nope. I recieved my extra special birthday/early Christmas gift. When asked what he had, he said, "I got my mom." Hoping all of you out there have an extra special holiday season and have your own extra special moments. This one pretty much made mine a great one!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eli at Eighty

Yes, Eli continues to amuse and bemuse us. Friday was the day that I (in my apparent declining mental state) took both boys, Rachel and Sydney to the doctors where we had the Divine (translate that to excruciating) experience of flu shots, flu mists, 3 injections and a pre-op physical for Rachel. All parties involved survived with only one child (Eli) needing to be hog tied to receive his portion of this experience.

Needless to say upon arriving back at the vehicle I threw 2 headphones at the boys, slapped in a dvd and the girls and I rode in much needed silence for the hour trip home. The only times that the golden silence was interrupted was when Eli, who really does sound like a deaf old man, would burst out with commentary on the movie....totally not realizing everyone can hear him.

When I noticed that I began hearing the dvd (without the use of headphones) that the boys had control of the volume, so I turned it back to a level that didn't cause auditory damage. Eli in a totally disgusted, old man voice....."I can not see, I can not hear, I can not LISTEN!" I'm pretty sure I won't be here when Eli is 80 years old but I have experienced his old man disgust.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mom - You Brain Good?

Once again I've given Lucas reason (at least in his mind) to doubt my intellect. My birthday is coming up next week and for some unknown reason my age became a topic last night. Now Lucas has designated himself the keeper of every one's age. He's very good at it.

During the course of this conversation and the other 5 going on at the same time, I became momentarily confused as to which question I was answering. Eli asked how old I would be on my birthday. I said 49. Wow did that not go over well with Mike or Lucas.....don't know what Mike's hang up with his wife being 49 is but luckily I don't have to figure it out as Lucas was quick to inform me that I will be 48. Oops, it's lucky I didn't say 59 Mike could have had a stroke.

Then after Lucas straightened out my muddled thinking he turned and asked, "Mom. You brain good?" Now I suppose I will be subjected to daily brain inspections.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Happens When a Dam is at Flood Stage

I've spoken with several people about the boys' "quiet times" in an effort to explain to those who notice that they seem to learn in sporadic rates. They will absorb everything, reading, math, English, social interactions. While they may not master it at least they are invested and excited to try new things.

We are learning through repeated phases that when they have absorbed as much as their brains and emotions will allow they become quiet. Their speech will regress several months and they are very quiet at home. It usually lasts a week or a little more and then they climb back on the cross country track to learning.

For me, one of the hardest things to explain and have people understand, is that on the outside surface the boys can appear very much as the average 9 and 10 year old American boys. This is happening more and more especially as their English expands and their accents are decreasing. The surface of their growth is very deceiving to what lies beneath and the struggles they may be having.

The best example is to imagine a dam with water behind it. At certain times of the year the water level and pressure is fairly consistent and manageable. As spring melt and heavy rain occurs those water levels and pressure build. The dam can withstand the additional load but at a certain point that pressure must be relieved or the damage to the dam's structure is compromised.

Lucas and Eli are very much like a dam with the pressure of learning and knowledge building up and then the flood gates have to release that pressure, then their brains go under maintenance/repair and then their brains are ready for new information to build.

Their flood stages are occurring less frequently and maintenance/repair are becoming quicker but those flood gates do get a work out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mom Needs a Boss

and Lucas has decided he's it.....it's not working well for him. We go through these "misguided bossing phases" periodically.

He generally limits his bossing to Eli, except Eli has now found that he doesn't have to listen to Lord Lucas and talks back - needed to happen and I'm glad he started standing up for himself but I'm surprised it hasn't come to blows.

When I can objectively step back and realize Lucas' bossing is coming from frustration at least I can see a pattern. He does this when he's overloaded and feels out of control. Too many things entering his brain so we notice his speech slowing down and words coming harder then I am treated to the "bossy" side of our eldest son. Did I mention it doesn't work out well for him.

This morning, Mike and I were talking in the kitchen, I said something and then changed my mind. Lucas needed to "guide" me by saying that I had said something different. How did I ever survive? Then he said I would be late for work that I needed to hurry up.....why go to work apparently my boss came to me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Explain Joyful

Constant explanation for words is a constant these days and this past year. I, at times, wonder if I'll ever be able to speak a complete sentence without stopping and explaining at least one word. I especially have these moments when at school and I'm talking with a student. I'll say something and then immediately launch into an explanation or another way of saying something. I'm sure quite a few kids wonder what's "wrong" with Mrs. Pickle that she says everything 3 ways.

Tonight for some reason Eli said, "What is joyful?"....I don't know maybe starting to practice Christmas songs with this word at church? Anyway, I took a breath to explain and before I could Lucas said, "It means bigger than happy, best ever feeling." Well...ok Mr. Webster....I was glad to hear him with an explanation but have to admit I was at a loss because I didn't need to explain anything. Whoa to moms when their kids start to take those steps away.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Don't Remember Visayan and That's Not My Grandma

We knew it was happening but it's a little sad to realize that the boys are now to the point that they remember only two words in Visayan which is the dialect they spoke in the Philippines.

Lucas was in the middle of a conversation and suddenly said, "I don't remember Visayan. I know English." He sat there a second and continued on. Later I asked him if that worried him (he is a worrier) and he said no because no one knows it here, not even Eli. Kind of sad. We had hoped maybe (and naively) that because they had each other to speak Visayan with that perhaps they'd retain some. Eli hasn't had much since spring. The more English they acquire the less they have of their native language.

A lot of people would say what's the big deal with that? It just seems like it's one more piece of their past that is gone, one more piece of their heritage that is changed. We, as adults, knew this would most likely be the case but you can still hope.

What surprises me the most is that Lucas doesn't seem to be concerned. It used to freak him out when he couldn't come up with the Visayan or Tagalog word for something. This time it was different in that he was "okay" with knowing he doesn't remember. I don't know if he just is more comfortable with his knowledge of English, that he knows he can communicate or if it's become comfortable enough here that he feels it's ok to let go.

His other revelation that night was to say that he now knows that his foster mom in Manila was not his "real" grandma (lola) because his real grandmas are Grandma Ruth and Grandma Dona Mae they are HIS family. This was a gigantic step because family relationships have probably been one of the toughest things to explain to the boys. Progress is not without sacrifices.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some Things A Mom Doesn't Want to Know...

Particularly when Dad takes the boys to the corn field to ride in the combine with their new idol, Gene, and during what I'm assuming was some sort of "guy talk/farming break" Lucas decides to high tail it through the corn field in pursuit of a "cat".

Ummm, we are in Iowa, rural Iowa, it was dark and Lucas has yet to figure out the difference between cats. They are all cats in his eyes. It doesn't matter if they are domestic, feral, raccoons, bobcat or my personal favorite, the skunk.

Lucas assures me it was orange and after some sort of stand off the "cat" ran off and he went back to the "grown-ups".

Did I forget to mention that this kid is customarily scared of the dark? At least from the inside of a well lit house but drop him into a dark cornfield at night and he's Mr. Brave. All I know is if he meets up with the skunk he and his Dad will be sleeping in the dark.....outside.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kids Book Brain Saturation

I had a good laugh as I headed off to work this morning. Eli was sitting at the table eating breakfast and I see him grab his book bag from the chair and as I head down the hallway I hear, "Daddy! I READ NOW! I READ THIS BOOK NOW! You listen." Yes the capital letters apply because he was very adamant and loud. I didn't need to wake Lucas and Sydney as Eli is the breakfast alarm clock.

It didn't matter that we'd read those books (repeatedly) over the week-end, he is so excited that he's reading on his own that we READ till we memorize every one of them. No wonder Mike and I feel like there isn't any more room left in our brains....they are full of kids books!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What a Week

It has definitely been a full week...try as I might I just couldn't get to posting. We started the week with finalizing the boys' adoption in court on Monday (that's a post by itself). Then Eli's fall basketball practices started - Lucas really wants to play but unfortunately there isn't a coach available for his age group. Then to top off a hectic week Sydney had two matinees, a dress rehearsal and two performances of the high school play. I'm sure I missed something in all that.

Needless to say on this Sunday morning we are all moving very slow. Good thing the time changed today. I finally got the boys convinced to go eat breakfast. They were both sitting beside me at the computer looking at pictures from our trip to pick them up in the Philippines.

It's really interesting to pull those pictures out every once in awhile. I look at them and see how much the boys have both changed, I see two very weary kids and I see their personalities that I didn't know at the time.

The boys' perception of the pictures, places and people in the pictures were a little different this time than the last time we looked at them. They recognized the places and the things we were doing in the pictures like they usually do but this time their frame of reference was from inside our family circle as opposed to times before when they referred to the two of them and us separately.


I thought it was interesting that this time through they were very interested in looking at the pictures of the trip home and from the airport in Omaha when we arrived home. They went through those pictures looking at the people and talking about what they remembered from that day. Lucas looked at a photo of him and my mom and said, "Grandma Dona Mae gave me candy! She know I like chocolate!" Guess it goes to show....my mom knew that if you treat your family (especially the grandkids) that impression lasts a long time and always brings a smile.

Monday, November 1, 2010

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