Monday, January 31, 2011

Explaining a Cemetery

Did you ever watch a movie and just watch it? No explaining, no thinking, no brain waves firing? Yep, we used to do that too. Watch a movie, just to watch.

These days when we watch with the boys, the movie does not end when the credits roll. You do not passively sit and watch any part of the movie, every corner of that screen is analyzed, every piece of the background action is absorbed.

It really makes it hard to pick a show that will work for entertainment as most lead to a lot of stress for the boys and stress for the parents. I think the pause and rewind button on our remote is worn out.

School was dismissed early due to weather today and mid afternoon I decided we needed a little noise relief and put in a movie. We actually made it a good distance into it before I had to stop and explain something. I think we restarted the movie after a half hour talk. The question.....what is that place? It was Arlington National Cemetery. The boys know what a cemetery is, what grave markers are. They had not seen a military funeral or the very obvious military markers of Arlington.

Lucas and Eli asked why they were all the same, where it was at, who was buried there, if we knew anyone buried there, does everyone in a war go there, do they put the flag in the grave, how many markers are there in the cemetery and so many other things that I can't even remember. The thing that amazes me is that the view of Arlington was way in the background, not a major feature of the show.

Can you imagine watching a show and pulling that much detail from the picture. No wonder videos are so overwhelming to them. Next time you sit down to watch tv or a movie try this experiment, don't look at the foreground of the picture, look way in the back. Try it for 5 minutes. It will give you great insight into the mind of someone who is processing every piece of data they can lay their minds to. And for those of you who meet up with Lucas and Eli on a daily basis.....just because they may not see what's in front of them, they may be seeing what is out of your vision.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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Canadian, Norwegian, Southern Filipino?

I cannot even begin to imagine where Eli has come up with his latest accent/slang terminology.

While it's hilarious to listen to when he's yahing this and that and throwing in a deep southern accent, it is extremely hard to figure out what he's saying. It just slips through once in awhile but where is it coming from?

You would think he's been watching weird shows on tv or something. After four days of this "accent" I must say I'm ready for him to develop our flat, Midwest tone, it's a little hard on the ears not to mention the brain.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A First at Age 11

Tomorrow Lucas will be 11 years old. His 2nd birthday with us. It kind of feels like we are celebrating 2 things at once. An adoptive parent is usually hyper aware that there are conflicts with chronological and developmental ages for their kids. But I have to confess that sometimes things can still make it by us and we are surprised about a reaction until it hits us that, "oh yah, this is another first." Makes me have a "duh" moment as a parent.

Lucas was so excited to have his first "friends" birthday party. We went to a movie and pizza. He had so much fun but was in his worry frame of mind, where he found it hard to relax because he was concerned about what was next. By the end though he had that fun thing down. You can tell by the picture.....or maybe that was when the sugar and caffeine hit.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adam and Eve

Today is proving to be one of those hectic days where parents need to clone themselves.

Sydney is off to district group speech contest (without parents) :( and Lucas is having his first birthday party with friends from school. He turns 11 on Tuesday but he's taking some friends to the movies and pizza today. As we've come to learn in the past year, boys are a totally different species and combine that with movie, candy, soda and pizza........let me say Mike, Rachel and myself are on party duty. I can't believe I used to take the girls and a whole car full of their friends by myself.....guess I've gotten smart, scared or old....take your pick.

Anyway, Sydney is part of a duo performing a speech depicting Adam and Eve in conversation with God before and after the "apple". The catch is they are reversed roles, Sydney portrays Adam and Parker is Eve....give credit to a 16 year old guy who has it together enough to do this! Yes this is the bragging part, they are absolutely hilarious. (Side note - we just learned they received a 1 rating and will be going to state!)

Sydney and Parker have put a lot of hours into this performance. Practicing at home, at school, at church. This morning at the breakfast table the boys realized Sydney wasn't here and asked when she left (7:00 a.m.) and we told them what she was doing.

Well, no one can say that these two don't pay attention and retain what is going on in their environment. Eli pops up with, "Weeelll, Hello Adam." Lucas follows with, "Weeellll Helllooo Eve!" And proceeded to keep us in stitches with their interpretations of Sydney and Parker and Adam and Eve.

Now. I'm just hoping tomorrow at Sunday School, these two portrayals don't appear to enlighten the entire Sunday School room, the teachers will be wondering what on Earth we're telling them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No Touchy!

Okay. Maybe a little of his sisters' OCD where food placement is concerned has rubbed off on Eli. Tonight at supper, I was putting the much despised vegetables on his plate and he frantically starts building a bridge between the corn and his beans and wieners, screaming, "No touchy, mom! Corn only here."

I had to put the corn exactly where he designated, while ensuring him that there would be no rogue kernels of corn trying to invade his beans and wieners. One thing about a kid who doesn't like his food touching.....he ate the corn fast so it couldn't get out of control and he did it without complaining that he didn't like it. You may also notice (as I'm sure our girls did) that I did not disclose which or how many of them seem to have this OCD fetish of no food touching. Their mom is smart!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

He's Pink

When I get home from work, almost every day, Lucas has something that he wants me to explain to him. Usually it's something from school, about friends or missed social cues. His brain must be so tired at the end of a day, I can't imagine.

One of the things he thought was a total mystery was that one of his best friends' face turns red when he laughs. According to Lucas, his friend laughs a lot. Okay after we talked about skin color and blushing and all that it entails, he looks at me and asks, "but he's okay?" Poor kid probably thought his friend had an incurable skin issue.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Rock

At dinner time Sydney and Eli sit next to one another at the table. To say we are trying to reinstill some mealtime manners is an understatement. Unfortunately for those of us teaching, we get tired of repeating. Sydney being one of these unfortunate, overworked manner teachers.

Tonight she stopped talking and started in with glaring at her littlest brother in the hopes he would miraculously acquire the ability to read her thoughts. Her errors with this method were not realizing that he is:
  1. a male
  2. a brother who loves to irritate his sister

in short her method was less than effective until her glare apparently cracked Eli's steely resolve at which point he turned to me and said, "Mom! Me need rock right here." Then he proceeded to show that he wanted a large rock between the two of them. I thought it could possibly be effective from both their view points......Mike said no.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Did You Know?

Did you know that when it snows it is not just frozen water crystals?

In the eyes of two boys who were too fascinated last year to think beyond snow balls, snow men and forts, this year they see ice cream cones, snow tears (flakes), ice tears (sleet),ice caves like the "laskians" have (interpreted to be people from Alaska), snow blowers (no not the machine, wind blowing snow around)and the lists go on and on. So do the interpretations until we figure out which part of the snow we're talking about.

Unfortunately, right now, we have a lot of snow examples for them to broaden their horizons. Gotta love January in Iowa!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


It has been a lesson in "espionage" parenting to make sure the boys get enough calcium in their diets. For over a year we've tried a lot of different items. We finally mastered cheese (Lucas' new favorite food, after of course the not to be outdone chicken) and yogurt on a limited basis.

I think Eli may have been experiencing cabin fever, snow storm dementia or hit his head but last night he came into the kitchen, tapped me on the arm and said, "I need some milk." I'm pretty sure the kid thinks I'm a little slow on the uptake, usually he just flabbergasts me to the point I'm temporarily incapacitated. I said, "Are you sure?" Why, why would I ask him that and not just give it to him? Maybe he's right, I am a little slow. He, got this look on his face that pretty much said, "wow, I'm going to have to draw her a picture." "Yes, Mom! I want to drink milk."

I poured him a glass and watched him chug it. I was sincerely hoping we wouldn't have a return visit. He handed the glass to me, smiled and went back to playing. I don't know what inspired the sudden "need" to drink milk but hey it worked and outside of the kid continuing to talk to me as if I'm the one learning English I'm all for it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day Part Two

I have supper in the oven and have issued the no more outside directive to the boys. It continues to snow....yipppeee....I've learned my lesson, no more wishing for snow days or at least until late February.

The last trip back inside Eli yells from the doorway, "MOM! Hot up my clothes!" His clothes were soaked, he was soaked and he thought I should dump it all into the dryer so he could go back out. Not happening. Although ..... if I hide in the dryer, could they find me?

9 Inches of Insanity and Growing

Ok. I admit it. I committed one of the cardinal sins of parenting. I wished for a snow day. For those of you sitting at home with your cooped up children, I apologize. I should have been much more specific and wished the snow day was for the school I work at and not my kids school. Five hours, 9 inches of snow and accumulating and I am going to stick someones head in a snow drift. I can say this without remorse as the head may very well be my own.

Our first half of this day brought a wake up call from Eli at 6:45 because he just knew we overslept and were late for school. Followed this up with a demand for waffles and eggs.....yep that didn't work out well, three trips to "play outside" resulting in 3 soaked snow pants, 4 sets of mittens and a lost hat, the topper to these outside excursions was the discovery, resuscitation and unfortunately ultimate death of a sparrow.......(the girls just never had the need to pick up dead or nearly so things and bring them inside). We are now deaf from hearing, "I'm hungry!", "I'm bored!" "Can I (fill in the blank and say it a billion times). I did mention the snow drift was looking inviting right?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Liked Him Better When He Didn't Talk

No that is not a statement from any parental figure in our household.

It is, however, Lucas' sentiments expressed at the dinner table when Eli was holding up his end of the conversations and very diligently expressing himself. In the middle of the verbal barrage, Lucas turned to me and said, "I liked him better when he didn't talk in the Philippines! He talks all the time now."

After I was done choking, I had to explain that it was ok for Eli to talk and maybe he just had a lot of talking to catch up on. Not that the explanation appeased Lucas (I know it didn't slow Eli down) as he turned back to his meal, I heard Lucas mumbling, "talk, talk, talk, he still talks too much."

Outside of Lucas and probably a few teachers the rest of the world should be glad and prepared that he's found his voice, the kid is smart, funny and has the most interesting insights. Hopefully he's bright enough to ease up so Lucas doesn't try to put a muzzle on him.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Put K Not C

"Mom! Put K not C....I read should be K not C!" What? This is the breakfast time announcement, pronouncement or disgusted with the English language tirade I experienced from Eli this morning.

He had finished breakfast and was putting his coat and mittens on to go outside and feed the dogs. He was reading the words on his new he is very proud of reading and being able to figure words out on signs, clothing, cars, whatever. This morning the gloves were under scrutiny. They have a guitar with the word ROCK on them. Thus, his long winded, very loud explanation of why it should have just a K, why did it have a C, the C doesn't do anything and that it shouldn't be there.
  1. I did not have my coffee yet
  2. I did mention this is all shouted at high decibel
  3. He would not let it go
  4. I did NOT have my coffee yet
  5. I got him different gloves
There are just some things that you can not explain to an outraged, nine year old on the verge of some sort of nuclear meltdown over the utter lack of common sense in the English language...especially early in the morning without MY COFFEE!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

ELL Frustrations

It seems like we take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back some weeks when it comes to the boys learning to read. Eli has come so far from a year ago. He started out with no English and no reading or writing, no school experience for the most part. Lucas had schooling, had to learn English also and to read and write in English. So I need to tell myself that even when we have a tough night with reading books and homework they have achieved more in a year than some kids (and grown ups) do in a much longer time frame.

I also need to kick myself in the butt when I'm frustrated with constantly explaining and reexplaining that "no they aren't where their AMERICAN peers are with the school work. No, we've been told, by people who are very knowledgeable, that it will take SIX years, not six months before we should expect that. There are no miraculous infusions of knowledge." It is in the gutter, sweat, tears and a few unpleasant thoughts directed at random individuals, warfare!

And then......the sun shines. Eli sitting at the table with one of his two nightly reading books, telling us how to pronounce "ing" at the end of his words. How to find the start and the end of a book.....yes that has to be learned also. It's Lucas reading something (not necessarily a school book) and coming to us to tell us what he knows about it. Guess what? His knowledge wasn't contained within the reading material and he was correct. It's Rachel sitting at the table and working with Lucas to help him make it through those school reading books that are kicking his butt.

So at the end of this rant I've learned I need to notice the sun more and let the cloudy parts go knowing that the sun is on the other side and we are truly having more sunny weather all the time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Work Order

Today was the first day back to school for the kids after Christmas break. The school I work for starts up tomorrow.

Eli was excited to talk about his day, Lucas wanted to know what "my" school had for lunch. I reminded them that I didn't have school today.

With total disgust for their slacker mom, Eli informs me, "Mom, You go to school. No more stay home." Ok, Mr. Boss Man. I think he thought I skipped school. Back to the work trenches for everyone tomorrow :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011


We do a lot of that at our house when it comes to the boys' previous life experiences and memories.

A person wouldn't think that with there only being a year difference in their ages that their memories and experiences would be so varied. Some of it is that Lucas is much more verbal and can express things better. Eli is becoming more willing to talk about his earlier years but he is a very in the moment kid.

One of the "dealing" situations we run into is when the boys bring up an experience from the Philippines and what they think they saw and what probably was happening are two very different things. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot and I do mean a lot of things that they tell us about in great detail that no kid should witness but thank goodness as of yet they've not pieced the truth of these experiences together.

Other times, there are things we have to point out the truth of what was happening for safety sake. For instance, today Lucas was telling us he could "hold" fire in his hands because he saw a man do it in the Philippines. Okay....much discussion and detective work along with a whole lot of fill in the blank led us to the conclusion that they'd gone to a circus/magic show where he saw this performed. Now our next "dealing" session is getting him to understand it was a trick and not something he can do. Sometimes I'd like to get a hold of those who exposed these kids to so much and didn't bother to provide the guidance and explanations for the experience.

Our safety issues, when the boys first arrived, dealt with crossing streets, strangers, allergic reactions and them getting lost. Now it's moved up a level to constantly explaining real and make believe. I feel bad when they are enjoying a show or whatever and we have to point out that it's make believe so they don't actually try it themselves. It dims the child like wonder in their eyes and feels like you've just revealed secrets of Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Close Encounter

How do you know when your child may have indulged in too much soda over the holidays?

Well, for Eli it was simple. All five of our kids were home tonight for supper, movies and down time before we all start back to school and work.

I (yes, I was the one who contributed to the delinquency of soda at night) poured pop into Eli's glass and didn't think much about it until the girls started hysterically laughing. Eli apparently was very excited to see the foam at the top of his glass as he thought it meant he'd have a full glass.

Bending over the top of his glass and the closer the foam came to the rim, the quieter his chant of, "closer, closer, closer, YES!" He did deflate a little as the foam receded but was still pleased that he'd gotten the soda to begin with. I, on the other hand, reconfirmed that as a parent, if you give your hyper child pop at night, you deserve whatever you get!