Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Changing Tastes

I know. You will be surprised.....another story from the gastronomic area.

Last night we had chicken lasagna, corn, french bread and lettuce salad. Not a hugely original meal but as we are sitting there, the boys are both saying how much they like it. Then I really took a look at their plates. There was not one thing on it that they would have touched with a ten foot pole a little over a year ago.

Forget lasagna (too many things touching) - Forget corn (hadn't seen it, didn't trust it), Forget bread and butter (butter took forever to introduce) and lettuce with dressing? (We've finally upgraded to using not only Ranch but French dressing). For dessert we had strawberry shortcake.

I remember back in April of last year on a trip home from New Mexico. We stopped at a restaurant to eat and tried to get Eli to eat strawberries. Not sure what he thought they were but there was absolutely no chance they were going to be eaten.

Last night he had to go get a larger spoon so he could eat faster. In between bites it was, "Mom! These are good! They are STRAWBERRIES!" Guess they are expanding more than their vocabulary.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tornado Coverage

I sincerely hope that those reading have a sense of humor cause if you can work past this next story as being on the dangerous side ....... it's funny!

This past week, Midwest spring weather arrived with a bang, literally. We had a near miss by a tornado and hail this size of golf balls. I was working at school that evening when the storm rolled in (my Yukon looks a little on the rough side). The town I work in is 8 miles from our house and was hit first. Mike was at home with the kids (later I found out that he had a couple extras as our neighbor kids were there).

When I called and told him to watch the weather that a tornado and hail were headed that direction his response was typical of most guys. "Really, it's not doing anything here. There's nothing on the tv." In his defense the storm blew out of no where with no warning time. It happens a lot and for the most part most people don't move to shelter until you are sure. Duh - I know. Midwesterners!

When I arrived home, I was greeted by Lucas and Rachel telling me that I needed to explain tornado warnings and going to the basement to Eli. Ok. I have. We were actually in the basement for another tornado last summer. So I asked what the problem was.

Apparently, when Mike decided everyone needed to be in the basement, he told the kids to "go to the bathroom". It's the central room in the basement with no windows and has a heavy door. We've practiced and talked about this. Mike took care of some things upstairs and then went to the basement only to find that Eli was not there. They looked for him but couldn't get him to answer. Where was he? In the upstairs bathroom "going to the bathroom" as Mike instructed with the door closed. Mike finally located him and everything turned out fine.

Poor kid received so much sibling teasing this week-end that I'm pretty sure this won't happen again. Mike learned to not be anything but extremely specific with directions. The use of more words is better than brief instruction. The last words Eli had on the matter....."Mom, Dad said go to bathroom! I had to poop! I went to bathroom! Everybody hollering ELI! I had to POOP! Dad not say right thing!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Red Face

Family and friends know that the boys are funny. They love knock knock jokes (they never make sense) but laugh at their own wit. They can mimic, mime, act and generally keep us all in stitches.

Unfortunately, they don't always understand other peoples' humor. Teasing is something that they are picking up. Tonight we were finishing supper around 6:30. Eli looks up at the clock and tells Lucas that it is not time for bed yet......bedtime is a big, dreaded expectation every night, they don't argue or have a problem with it, just that they are positive that we are mistaken as parents to not allow them a 10:00 bedtime.

When Eli was commenting on the time, I looked up and said, "Oh! Sorry guys, I forgot. The clock is wrong. It's really 8:30 (bedtime). You need to hurry through your showers." The looks are their faces and the absolute silence was spectacular. It had to be at least a 30 second pause, I began to worry that we were headed for a melt down. Eli finally got it, Lucas looked at me and yelled, "Mom! You kidding me? My face got red, me get all sweaty!" Ok. Maybe I'll have to find something else to tease about as joking about bedtime seems to bring on some sort of hot flash for Lucas.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sisterly Dissertion

This morning at 4:00 a.m. Sydney officially deserted us for her school trip to Washington D.C. If you ask the boys they think she specifically deserted them.....or more specifically their ride to and from school.

Don't get me wrong. The realization that their daily schedules would change this week while she is gone came after they sat with their mouths hanging open when we told them she was going on a trip. I figured they'd ask if they could go too but instead wanted to know if she was coming back. The mom in me chooses to think they were worried about her and would miss her, the practical, realistic (not pessimistic) mom figures they were more concerned with the logistics of their daily lives and how long before they could take over her room.

I have a feeling that when Sydney returns late Friday, sleep deprived and SLEEP DEPRIVED! it will be a very loud and frequent readjustment to reality. Oh the joy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mom's Need a Break

Do you fellow mothers out there agree? I thought so. Especially when you have been gifted, by one of your children, the wonderful experience of a nasty sinus and chest cold. This gift does not, however, come with any measure of patience, tolerance for loud noises or the ability of speech.

I had a voice this a.m., now not so much. I had patience at 8:00 a.m., now at 10:00 p.m. not so much. I had a slight headache at noon now I'm pretty sure there is a tuba being played inside my head.

Why, you may ask, haven't I packed it in and gone to bed. Not that our two little, precious, germ sharing sons are still it would be the 9 teenagers in the family room having a movie night and fun. It all sounded like a nice evening for the kids when Sydney asked....of course that was when the cold medicine was not so much. They are all great kids and having a blast which makes it that much easier to leave Mike in charge and head for bed.....did I forget to mention something? Mike is in the middle of the kitchen floor trying to replace our 17 year old dishwasher, that decided today would be the day it needed a permanent break. No I can't be much help, having a head cold with blurry eyes and bi-focals does not make me line anything up straight. Going to take a mom break now....hope I don't end up on the patio with the dishwasher!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What Did You Learn Today?

The kids and I (minus Rachel, who is away at college) took Mike out for a birthday supper this evening. Alison was torturing....ummm talking to Eli and asked him what he learned at school. As is the norm, he shrugs his shoulders and says, "I don't know." Yes he does but you must go through this ritual every time you ask him a question. He finally, nods his head and says, "I learned the math."

Lucas, not to be outdone, asks if she wants to know what he learned. He informs us and half the people at Olive Garden that he learned "the plural". I was intrigued and asked him what plural meant. He once again thinks I must need to go back to school because he pats my arm and says, "Mom. It means more than one. Like mouse, plural is meese." Well he's got the concept. He also learned that singular is for one. He explained this by loudly proclaiming MOUSE is singular. Unfortunately I'm thinking the only thing that the people around us at Olive Garden heard was the word mouse. Use your imagination for the looks we got.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Civil War

No the boys are not fighting one another.....right now. We were watching a tv program on the civil war, Abraham Lincoln and slavery. Nothing graphic but for whatever reason Abraham Lincoln is the one president that the boys recognize and are interested in.

We were about 1/2 way through the program when Lucas finally understood it was a war, fought between Americans. He had to know every aspect of the who, what, where and most importantly the why.

He learned as much as I could explain ten different ways. I will gladly explain English words, spellings, family life, friendships, school projects, girls, social norms.....whatever.....I just don't want to have to explain war. It can be necessary, justified, not justified, whatever but it will never make sense to a child which I suppose should offer us some hope for the future.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Time Change = "No FAIR Bedtimes"

Ok. I made a mistake. I asked everyone at the supper table to help me remember to turn the clocks ahead Saturday night. Big mistake when you have two short people who have been demanding a later bedtime for two weeks.

Eli had a brief moment where he thought he'd earn an extra hour instead of lose one. Upon the unfortunate realization it was the exact opposite, I'm sure some of you may have heard him, "MOM! That's not fair! Don't do that! Why you do that? NO!"

We tried to explain the time change.....which by the way is anyone even those who have lived here their entire lives. Sydney's statement...."Look, we didn't just start doing this to mess with your bedtime." Did I mention she's been at state speech contest since 6:00 a.m. and her patience for two time challenged brothers was non existent. Bedtime was a little rough.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Conversations with Your Sister

Our middle daughter, Rachel, is attending college 2 1/2 hours away from home. She is an elementary ed/special education student. Her week-end visits are not restful for all. She is the sister that Lucas and Eli treat with great deference and in return expect complete and utter servitude and unending playtime (I'm aware that doesn't make sense ~ it's the way they roll).

Sydney is their anchoring sister. She's here day in and day out, they know her moods, likes, dislikes, friends, boyfriend (Parker we are so grateful you like to laugh). She is their school transportation, "boss" when we aren't home and generally the sister they are most likely to bicker with and not listen to until she comes unhinged...... because that's what brother's do.

Alison is their sister of "idol" proportions......(Alison do NOT let that go to your head!). She is the sister that they are awed by (Eli loves to see what her hair color will be week to week), she is the one they are, shall we say. intimidated by. When she brings out her RN voice they listen up. It's similar to a mom voice but I think they aren't quite sure if she's carrying a syringe as back up :) She has never threatened this, they definitely respect the nurse side. When she speaks they listen for the most part and think that because she has her own place she is the absolute goal to achieve. From day one Lucas has said he wants to be a doctor because Alison is a nurse. Not sure if it's his view that nurses are female and doctors are male or he thinks he would finally get to boss Alison....not even then buddy!

But I digress. Eli is very aware that Rachel is on her way to becoming a teacher, therefore, in his book just short of Alison's "idol" status. He wants her to read, to listen to him read and pretty much impress her with how smart he is. Saturday she took them into the library to check out books....that's another whole story.

As he waited to go, he wanted a snack, I gave him a banana. As he's eating it he says, "Hey, Mom. Does banana have sugar?" Ok. Can you tell we really, REALLY watch how much sugar he gets? This is a pretty standard question for him these days. He knows things don't go well on sugar overload. I said, "It has potassium, that's good for you." I asked if he could say that word. He said no but then Rachel asked him to repeat it that was a different story, no need to impress the mom anymore.

I don't know why but English words that he has learned since coming home don't have an accent. It's probably a very well proven fact of English language learners but when listening to an accented conversation suddenly change to a non accent for one or two words is interesting. The word potassium was a little hard to get him to try but when it came out it was clear, with all the sounds. It was also accompanied by a huge grin for his sister, to let her know she should be adequately impressed. To make sure she stayed in awe of his abilities, he's been practicing this word......a lot!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's For Breakfast

On Saturday mornings, if we aren't all going 20 different directions, Mike and the boys make breakfast. The women of the household appreciate this but are sometimes "worried" as to what we will be eating.

This mornings' menu was monkey bread (basically cinnamon, sugar and butter baked over biscuits). No way nutritional but yummy. Lucas and Eli had not had them before this morning.

As Sydney was off to state speech contest, it was just Rachel and myself left to enjoy their creation.

Rachel came out of her bedroom and Lucas asked if she wanted orange juice, hot chocolate or coffee. Her reply was, "what are we having for breakfast?" Lucas looked at the oven where the monkey bread was baking and said, "I don't know it stinky good though."

I'm not thinking he has a career as a food critic.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's Black, It's White...No It's Bickering Brothers!

I know, I know....for those that gave me dire warnings about boys and their, shall we say, unique perspectives, noises, need for physical contact and the billion other things that make boys - boys.

I'm choosing to blame the current level of bickering, shoving and all around disgruntlement that Lucas and Eli have towards one another, on spring weather. It could be hormonal, it could be brotherly irritations, it could be that they are actually independent, functioning, opinionated, irritated and somewhat irrational 9 and 11 year olds. I choose to think it's spring.

Spring conjures up pleasant feelings. There is an end to spring thus a hopeful end to the bickering. Spring marks the end of cold enforced togetherness. Spring weather gives me hope that I won't be turned in for child endangerment when I tell them to take the bickering outside. I've never been so grateful to live in the country where they can go burn off energy and get space from one another.

Girls are often given a bad wrap for being hormonal...HA! I used to feel sorry for Mike because he was trapped for a lot of years with 4 females in the I feel sorry for his mom for all the years she was trapped with 3 males in the house and the only females she could account for were a cow and female dog to even things out!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Uneven Sibling Issues

Sibling adoptions are a challenge unto themselves....or so they are in our world. I wouldn't want to change them or anything like that. It's just that sometimes it's really a challenge to keep pace with the issues being dealt with by each one of the boys.

One of the big issues to be talked about and learned about and talked about.....and did I mention talked about, is helping your internationally adopted child retain their culture and birth heritage. It's an important part of their lives and through adoption becomes a part of ours. Unfortunately only one of the boys is interested at all in talking or learning about anything concerning their Filipino heritage. Our other son wants nothing to do with anything about his past. It's sad that he feels this way right now....but it does present a challenge when trying to incorporate the culture of the Philippines and interests of one and not pushing it on the other until he's interested.
Our biggest concern in this area was whether we'd find ways to help the boys retain their culture, now it's shifted more to how to let one explore and grow and let one come to terms with his choices and to not let resentment between the two grow for those choices.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

100% and Proud

For those of you that have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that Eli is our youngest. He also had a lot of preconceived, negative notions about education. It had always been a struggle, with little success and with even less positive reinforcement.

A lot can change in 15 months. We still have moments where he struggles and I'm quite positive that his patience and attention are short but he's excited to learn......that to us is huge....and apparently to him.

He met me at the door the other night. When I say met me at the door, translate this into I couldn't get the door open because he was standing on the other side of it waving a paper and screaming, "I got 100!"

When I wedged myself into the house, the famed test paper was shoved up my nose. He was dancing full tilt in the hallway singing some happy song about getting 100% on his spelling test. Then he stopped short, turned around and asked me if 100% makes him smart. To think this kid was every made to feel dumb is unbelievable. His creativity and ability to figure out how things work show he has so many talents. Now if we can just build on his academic confidence!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Likin' America

We have a lot of conversations with Lucas about the Philippines and America. He is starting to ask more and more questions. Then and now. There and here. Orphanage and home. Sometimes these are really long lengthy talks and others are fly by questions.

The other day while I was making lunch, he appeared at my elbow, grabbed me around the middle and said, "Mom, America good. I like it." He then grabbed his book off the counter, went into his room and started reading it.

While this particular comment didn't require much from me at the time, outside of listening, it did leave me standing there wondering what on Earth brought that revelation about.

Sunday we had all the kids at home for dinner. He found it very important to tell "his" story about the Philippines to Alison. Alison was a little lost as to why he was directing the story at her but we later came to the conclusion that he had not actually told her in his own words about his life before the orphanage, during and when we came to pick up the boys. I guess it was another step in their sibling relationship. Theirs' is probably the one with the most transitions. Alison is oldest, Lucas was oldest. Alison has her own place and so we generally see her once or twice a week, so their time together is broken up.

So all around I'm thinking he's found a lot of things and people he thinks are pretty neat about America.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sometimes You Make a Wrong Call

Well. I know I'm not alone. Parents in general mess up in dozens of ways every day. Sometimes....when your child announces they don't "feel good" a certain, undisclosed parent, will do a bare bones diagnosis and say...."Oh, I think you are ok. Let's try school and see how it goes." Yeah! Everyone heads out the door for the day.

Then that night, your child says, "I hurt here (pointing to his throat). Hmmm....ok. Said throat is a little red, typical cold symptoms develop (I'll spare you the descriptions) so said, unnamed Mom breaks out the cold meds and cold symptoms are alleviated.....Ummmm nope.

This morning Lucas' throat was nasty. Mike made a doctor's appointment. Once again, we are a little "sceptical" of driving 60 miles to the doctor in order to be told it's a virus, nothing to do but wait. Yep....not this time.

Lucas has bacterial pneumonia. Say it...go ahead...I have....BAD CALL MOM! He's on antibiotics and should be feeling better soon. I wonder how long it will take until I can read his ques. He kept saying he was ok......translation: I don't want you to take me to the doctor. When he points to his throat it could mean his chest. Pretty sure if he understood about mom guilt and that he possesses the ability to get most anything out of this inadequate least until the mom guilt wares off.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Knock, Knock.....

They've discovered (attempting) to tell jokes. Yep....some are better than others. Most of the time what happens around the joke telling is funnier. Here's the conversation last night:

Eli: "Knock, Knock."

Lucas: "Who's there?"

Eli: "Snow"

Lucas: "Snow who?"

Eli: "Mom says it's going to snow Saturday!"

Lucas: "WHAT! Mom! NO MORE SNOW!

There is no more humor in Iowa, in March, at least when it comes to snow.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing an Apology....Another First

Can I just start by saying, "Wow! I am totally in awe of Eli and his enormous growth these past 15 months. I'm equally in awe of Lucas but for a range of things different from Eli.

Eli is....well.....not his brother. Surprised? We aren't. We live with them. No two siblings are the same but sometimes it's easy to blur the lines and expect the similar accomplishments, growth, you name it. I have a new respect of parents with twins.

I've written a little about Eli's experiences before arriving home. To say the least he was not a "favorite" of care givers. He does not tolerate anything or anyone he feels is a waste of time. From the referal information, to doctors evaluations to school.....he simply did not have a positive start with the adult world. He didn't go to school for the majority of his life in the Philippines. He did not trust adults and only relied on Lucas. He's not lazy or stupid. He's actually shockingly intelligent. Talk with him, you'll find out, don't talk down to him, he'll dump you in the pile with the others who have treated him poorly. Trust me, you'll be in a pile of personalities that you'd be embarrassed to associate with.

If a person were to look at his transition from arrival home until now, and if you could possibly understand all the areas in which he has had to adapt; language, family life, education, emotionally and behaviorally, coping mechanisms needing adjustments, to developing a new, evolved relationship with Lucas. It's a miracle that the scared, angry, grieving kid from last January is now a little boy who will cuddle up to me when I'm sick on the couch, put his arm around me and pat my head to see if I'm ok, who willingly does chores, who cleans up his room and now feels remorse over broken toys (even if it's an accident). He has also learned what an apology is and some ways to make an apology. He wanted to send his teacher an apology for not doing his best. Fifteen months ago he wouldn't have cared who or what a teacher was or comprehend the need.

I also find myself extremely short on patience in the area of explanations. I have talked myself blue trying to explain the background of children from institutions and the life time amount of baggage that comes along. It's not to say that this excuses or gets them a free pass with people, I believe that people and the boys are better off with information than with operating blindly. I don't expect others to automatically know institutional behaviors (let me clue you it's a whole area of development that is not widely known, especially in the United States). My frustration comes with repeated need to "fight the fight" with the same individuals who were never expected to have to "know" these issues but who are now knee deep in them. I get that they did not "ask for this new learning curve." I want to childishly tell them, "Well the boys didn't ask to be abandoned and orphaned. They didn't ask to be adopted into a different country and language. No matter how they were explained the changes that would be happening, no 8 and 9 year old is going to "get it" just like the new people in their lives could not possibly imagine how many zillion areas of early child development they have not experienced and are still learning. Just because you have a, now, 9 and 10 year old in front of you, does not mean you are experiencing the behaviors, attitudes and abilities of a 9 or 10 year old child raised in the United States from birth. Deal with it. They've come so far, they will go further, they will be more than anyone right now can imagine. Again, this mom, wants to say, "Adjust yourselves people because this is not nor ever will be "done". When you are told by people who know that this is years worth of learning.....they mean it.....and when you find yourself on the receiving end of an apology from either of our sons.....don't take it lightly......they truly mean it and take it to heart.

Can you tell I'm proud of them and Momma Bear is sharpening some claws.