Sunday, October 30, 2011

Can't Say It Enough

I sometimes feel silly writing so much about how proud I am of Lucas and Eli and for that matter, Alison, Rachel and Sydney.

Our household has been very full this past week. We have friends staying with us. It has added 4 more people and a whole lot of activity, fun, work and close quarters. I'm not complaining about that...we are very fortunate to be able to make room.

We are grateful that our kids have the opportunity to witness friendship and understanding up close. Let's face it practical applications of these traits works much better than telling your kids what a friend is, how they behave or the sacrifices a friend may have to make.

Sydney, Lucas and Eli have met that call for friendship this week above and beyond our expectations. They have opened their hearts, their home, their personal items, toys and their parents' time, sharing all of it and with no complaints.

For Lucas and Eli, two years ago they had no personal "special" things to call their own. We've all worked to bring them an understanding of things and people that they can claim as their own. Now they not only claim toys, clothes and a home but they are to a point where they can now share and give back to others. If it were myself in their shoes it would be very easy to be selfish and possessive. This is where I stand amazed. I'm not saying that they don't have the ability to be selfish and possessive at times....they are kids.....but I do think that they recognize others in need and it gives them such joy to have things that they claim as their own and are able to share.

When you spent your first 8 and 9 years being given things from others, to be able to be in a place to finally give back is a lesson that they've passed with flying colors.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oops, I Didn't See The Signs

You may know how it feels as a parent to have excellent 20/20 hindsight. When you kick yourself for not paying attention and reading your kids non verbal signs. I find myself becoming less aware of the visual/non verbal signs with the boys as they're developing more complex English. That's where the oops factor comes in.

I'm not sure at what point if ever we will be able to know they will express themselves 100% of the time. Don't get me wrong they do sooooo much better than where we started from. Case in point; last night Eli brought his homework paper to me and we set down at the table to work on it. I should also point out that he really wants to do his homework but there are times when he can't. He doesn't have the skill set yet. I also know that he tends to be easily distracted, I'm not blind to this either. I will probably make all you school employees cringe when I say...I don't care if he gets his homework done like everyone else or at all. If the work is so far beyond where he is that we have no way to connect the dots...we don't do it. We are also very lucky that our school and teachers know this. Most of the time things are adjusted, sometimes they aren't. As long as we move forward we are ok.

Last nights' homework was a variation of a book report that was read to the kids in class by a parent. That's what info I had from Eli. I hate book reports for ELL I did not say that to him but my prejudice on this probably helped lead to the missed sign from him. We tried to talk about the book but he got very quiet which sometimes means "I wasn't paying attention and now my mom knows." So what is the mature mother to do. I said, "Fine if you aren't willing to at least tell me what you can remember (I don't care what little piece they give me, just so that they were able to get something) than you will need to explain to the teacher why your homework isn't done."

I went to the laundry room and then it hit me. The look on his face, his body language and his shrugging. Oh! Darn! I missed it. I called him into the laundry room and said, "Hey E, is something wrong. I'm not mad but do you want to tell me what's wrong?" His first reaction is to think when it comes to school that adults are mad at him. It's a left over gift from his earliest school experiences. He stood there for about 2 seconds and then I was enveloped in a full body hug and the tears came. He had a "bad" head (headache)and didn't feel good all day and he didn't understand why he couldn't tell me the story. I reminded him that we have medicine for when he doesn't feel good but that he has to tell me because sometimes mom can't guess. I asked if he'd like to go find something to help his headache. Once again I was honored with a huge hug and then even better..."I love you Mom!" Lesson to me: PAY ATTENTION!

Sometimes it feels like I'm always about 3 steps behind when either of the boys feel ill. They tough out a lot of things and although it's much better they just don't think anything about feeling bad and that there are things we can do to make them feel better. I'll be so glad when and if those coping skills are gone. It masks a lot of things not only at home but at school and with others who will not have the time or desire to investigate.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lecturing the Selective Listener

Guest Lecturers: Lucas and Eli
Selective Listeners: Lucas and Eli

On Sunday I gave the go ahead for the massive clean out of the spare room downstairs that Lucas has requested for HIS VERY OWN! It used to be Alison then Rachel's but for the past year and half it's pretty much turned into a mess. So what else does everyone want to do on what is probably the last pleasant fall Sunday......clean, sort, throw away, repeat.

Sydney appeared from the clean out area (I assigned myself brownie baking duty) and said, "Mom, you won't believe those guys. They sound just like dad. Lucas is telling Eli, just dig in, just get it done, pitch in, stop whining. Eli is telling dig in! you keep going! you stop bossing! It's your room, you DO IT!" She said they were all 3 standing in the middle, each bossing the others. Three bosses in a 12 x 11 room...not enough space for that many chiefs. Sydney made a good choice and went to her own room to clean.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Girls Are Not Like Trading Cards

Lucas and Eli like the girls. All girls, all women, anyone of the female persuasion from the age of 0-98.....they haven't met anyone older than 98 so the jury is out on that one. I was a little concerned with their need to talk about their "girlfriends" until I hung out with a couple of their friends and apparently 10 and 11 year old boys have their own definition of "girlfriend".

The one thing these Casanova's don't have is discretion or discernment when talking about these so called girlfriends. It is the sworn duty however of Alison, Rachel and Sydney to broaden their horizons in relation to how one respects, speaks of and generally treat their "girlfriends". Some lessons come easier than others. Some lessons are very loud.

At supper the other night (Sydney's boyfriend Parker in attendance) Lucas and Eli begin bragging about their girlfriends. At one point throwing Parker under the bus by asking him about his other girlfriends and if he was marrying Sydney. I'm really surprised someone hasn't choked to death......or been choked to death..... at one of our meals.

The conversations then switched into another downhill direction where upon the boys thought they would decide who could claim which girls. Similar to trading baseball cards. That would be when Parker choked, Sydney became a very animated, vigorous, LOUD instructor on boyfriend/girlfriend 101. Lucas and Eli have not brought the subject up least with their sister.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Worm Bitten

Ha! What were you all thinking?

For the past several days Lucas has been turned into a book worm and some how that has turned Eli into a book worm also. Lucas proudly finished up a 214 page book (he made sure several dozen times that I knew the exact number of pages). The largest book he has ever read. He's all about earning reader points for school. He's a little competitive.

We actually had a book war of sorts after school on Wednesday. While waiting for Sydney to arrive from the high school to pick them up, they sat reading. Eli decided he wanted Lucas' book, Lucas let him look but once Syd arrived on the scene there was a possessive tug of war over the much coveted book. Luckily we don't have to replace the book in question, it survived.

Wednesday night after Lucas had finished with the book, Eli grabbed it and was on the couch reading it when all of the sudden he busted out laughing. Not just a giggle or chuckle but a prolonged belly laugh.....he got the joke in the book. Humor, especially written, is something that is very hard for them to understand in English. That's not to say that each of them think they are the funniest person to ever exist.

Lucas has a pretty huge accomplishment in reading that large of a book. Reading in English 2 years ago was non existent for the most part. Eli didn't read at all 2 years ago in any language, now he's able to not only read but find the humor hidden within the pages.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Online Monitoring Your Kids

No this is not about monitoring your children's internet usage. It's about a conversation that started with Lucas and Eli when I asked if they were getting more than one milk a day at school....they know that they should only have one at lunch and one at snack time.

Of course we had the immediate reaction of, "No! We only get one." I said, "Hmmm. That's funny the computer shows me that you are both getting two milks each day." Now it was not my intended purpose to freak them out but sometimes they just take the conversation ball and let it run all over themselves. A parent can learn the most interesting things this way.

They have been to my office at the school I work in and have seen our security cameras on my computer. For whatever reason, in a split second they both assumed that I could watch them at their school on the cameras and knew everything they do....all day long. So when they continued to freak out about it they just kept digging the hole a little deeper and then started piling dirt on the other brother. Can you say tattling.

At this point neither Mike nor I can get too worried about anything they are freaking about because let's face it, what freaks out 10 and 11 year old boys for the most part isn't too bad....that will hit about 13?

Now before anyone freaks out on behalf of the boys, I tried several times to correct the assumption that I could "see" them and that I only meant I could view their purchases online through the school website but let me tell you when two Filipino brothers start dishing dirt on the other in order to get out of trouble themselves, it's loud, it's non stop and it's fast. I'm going to let this mistaken superpower of observation that they think I possess ride for a few days and see what other little tidbits spill forth. Boy oh boy if I can convince them that as teenagers their cars will all have video surveillance that would be sweet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ramps, Risk and Recovery

Guess what? I have no idea what so ever as to why the male species defies logic and common sense.

I have 3 people of the male persuasion (one being a decidedly "adult" husband) who have constructed some sort of haphazard ramp system in our front yard/patio area from which the other 2 males (risk taking sons) are launching themselves and their bicycles from as I type.

From my motherly eyes (in the house where I'm biting my tongue because everyone says this is how boys learn) I can see:

  1. this ramp involves 2 boards of questionable integrity and size

  2. an old railroad tie that probably has a trillion splinters waiting to embed in some one's nether regions

  3. 2 overly sugared up boys who are fighting over who gets the privilege of experiencing the ramp of wonder first

  4. a husband who is proudly grinning ear to ear that his sons are such marvels of construction.

They've got the ramp, they have the no holds barred mentality now I wonder if they've thought about which one of them has to come inside to tell me that they will need the band aids, Bactine and splinter extractor......hmmmm think its probably a good time to stop watching.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Being Wanted

How does a parent, biological or adoptive, explain to their child why they were wanted? Some of you may have encountered this question and probably have found a very good way of explaining. So far we continue to search out more and more ways to explain this to Lucas and Eli.

I've been wondering for several days what it is that Lucas is so heavily thinking about. Last night it was him saying that he's home, that gave me a clue. Sunday after lunch he came up to me and said, "Thanks mom." I thought it was for lunch. But then he continued on with, "I have a family. In the Philippines I did not have a family. I didn't have anyone to sit with when I ate. Now I have my family and we all sit together. I love my family. You came to Philippines to get me so I could come here and have a family, right?"

So with my hands full of dirty dishes and a messed up kitchen I was left trying to find yet another way to explain the logistics of his adoption. One of the things that stumps us quite often is not being able to use the word adoption in our explanations. We can use it but it means absolutely nothing to them. Adoption was something that was not explained to them before we met. It's not a concept that was ever introduced. Lucas and Eli knew they would be coming to live with a new family in America but had no true understanding that they would be members of that family or what a family actually was.

They have over the course of the last two years learned in baby steps what being in a family is like. In the same respect they are learning what they missed out on during their time in an orphanage. It's a double edged sword. A whole lot of whys and very few concrete answers that make sense to their eleven and ten year old minds.

I guess that what we are all learning is that the words really don't mean a whole lot. It is the consistent, day in day out, year after year living that will explain some of the questions. Other questions will have to evolve as we all increase our understanding of each other. In between times there will probably be more answers given over dirty dishes, messy rooms and meals and probably a whole lot more heavy thinking.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"I'm Home"

Have you ever thought or said those words after being away from home for any length of time? Did you ever consider what those words meant? What or where is your home? What makes a home? I don't like to be away from home for very long at a time. I get that from my dad. He would take us on these great road trips but they were a whirlwind, up at 4 a.m. and go, he didn't like to be away for long.

Lucas stayed overnight with a friend Friday night. You would have thought Eli's world had ended as he repeatedly said, "I miss my brother." Then when Lucas came home Saturday, you guessed it, Eli picked a fight at every turn. Brothers. I can't win on that one.

We were putting the boys to bed Saturday night when Lucas sat up and said, "I'm home!" I have never heard a more heart felt declaration from a kid. That one word....home.....coming from him packs a huge punch.

I've been lucky enough in life to have had a home all my life, to have a family to come home to and a place where I felt safe and loved. A place I wanted to be. Lucas has finally discovered his home, his safe place, a place he wants to be. With those few words and the absolute sincerity behind them he has found his home. It does a heart good.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Alright I Listened, Now Be Prepared

Over the past two years on our family's adoption journey I've been encouraged, cajoled and pretty much told that I should write more than I do. I love to write, I am not an expert on anything just a mom who happens to have at varying times 5 pretty neat kids who are a never ending source of humor, frustration, angst, pride and a never ending source of writing material.

I've spoken with family members, friends, parents who are on their own adoption journeys, friends that I've met face to face, others via phone and web. I know some of these people have a wide range of why it is they ask me to write more. Some know that I love to write, some are friends who are touched by something that struck them here in the blog world. Some need to hear that others have traveled a road they are on and survived perhaps a little bruised and weary but hopefully better off for the journey. Some have met our family individually or as a unit and wonder...what if we...not because it's a perfect picture, far from it but it's a seed that might just need some "fertilizer". (Ha!)

There are others out there that fortunately I haven't heard a lot from. The detractors, the pessimistic, self involved ones who could care less what I say or what our family learns along the way. Great by me, they can pass on by and find another place to land.

For those of you out there that have faithfully read, cheered, both cried and rejoiced with us in our journey you will notice that with the usual posts there will be those posts that are slightly different and may speak to something that could hit home to you or you may wonder, "what in the world?" Whichever way it lands in your heart know that somewhere in the background there may be someone who can benefit...that's my hope. There may be someone who asked what we do/did or how we handle things and asked. I'm continually amazed at how willing people can be to share there accomplishments, struggles and needs. I'm also completely amazed by those of you out there that share your concerns and want to hear my take on them. Once again, I'm a wife and a mom, not an expert in anything just someone willing to put it out there for whatever someone can glean from the reading.

So. You asked for more. We'll see where it leads. At times this blog will look and sound the same, at other times it may read a little differently. Thank you to all of you for caring to follow and words of encouragement along the way. Bless you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chicken Reincarnation

Last night we had fried chicken for supper. Chicken is a favorite of Lucas and especially Eli. After eating 4 large pieces, Eli was studying the next piece.

He turned around to me and asked, "If we get glue and put the chicken back together, will it be alive.....oh no! where's the head! It no live without the head." Once again....I have no explanations just go with it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pickle Boys Dating Service

Perhaps you all have been able to gather that Lucas and Eli feel that every woman (particularly their sisters) must have a boyfriend/husband. They are quite adamant about it the point that I'm starting to fear for their lives.

First we have the case of Sydney's boyfriend. They took it upon themselves to tell him that they should get married and he should change his name to Pickle. When Parker tried (unsuccessfully) to explain that they were just dating and that when people got married usually the guy does not take the wife's name. They were equally appalled and insulted thinking that Parker did not think Pickle was a good enough last name. It's good enough for them, therefore it should be good enough for Parker. My thought outside of being extremely apologetic to Parker is that no Parker Pickle would not under any circumstances be a good name.

Second we have Rachel, who is somewhat safe as she is away at college the majority of the time and she is currently seeing someone. Safe and receiving the "brotherly" approvals.

Third we have Alison. Alison who is staying with us this week as she has had her wisdom teeth out and looks like she's been in a boxing ring. Tonight was the first time she felt like trying to eat something at suppertime or to remain vertical longer than 2 minutes....I'm pretty sure she regrets it....not because of the tough time eating but because about 2 bites into the meal Eli imperiously points his fork at her and says, "So you have boyfriend yet?" Oh. Yes. He. Did. For anyone worried he is still breathing...don't.... because he went on to offer with Lucas' help to "find" her a boy. Then the capper to his dating service questionnaire, "Do you want a Filipino boyfriend or a Chinese boyfriend?" I don't know where they get this stuff but I'm pretty sure they may want to investigate a new business as their dating service will never make it off the ground if their sisters have anything to say about it. Come to think of it they may not see Christmas.

People it's never dull here, it's loud, it's really loud. But it is an absolute hoot!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Think Before We Speak

This would be the "Think Before We Speak" lesson #949 for Lucas. Something that he probably should have thought really hard about before saying to his sister as they are getting ready to leave for school.....
"Sydney. Is that the only dress you have?"
Ok. #1 it was a shirt not a dress #2 it was new #3 he said this while expecting a ride to school from the sister he just offended. But don't worry Eli once again saved the day with humor by saying, "DUDE! Don't you know. You say you look nice Sydney. It not dress, can't you see bro!"

Sydney's response was to wait in the car til they hauled their contrite, apologetic tushes out there. They are at school....peace reigns!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hiking and Harvest Time

Hiking the Loess Hills of Iowa with Grandma Ruth

If you look closely at the photo above you will see why I have a washing machine full of soy beans and why Grandpa Jerry is short a few bushels. No boots + rolling in a wagon full of soy beans = fun for boys not so much fun for a mom who wasn't aware of the "fun" until it was too late.

Lucas and Eli had a great week-end helping with the start of harvest. I grew up on a farm but the boys think that because I'm a "girl" that I can't possibly know anything....never mind they had not seen a combine or John Deere tractor until 2 years ago.....

On the way to see my mom yesterday morning I misguidedly mentioned that there weren't any farmers combining the fields between our town and the next. Eli's disgusted, all-knowing farmer response? "Mom. (hurrumph) they not picking the is still GREEN...can you not see the green?? (hurrumph) My response? "Well....son....can you not SEE that tone of voice may not be your wisest decision?" Yes, yes he did choose a different tone from there on out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

When The Women Are Away....

On Saturday, Sydney and I made the much dreaded grocery shopping trip. While we were slaving away, battling pre Nebraska football game crowds to bring home food which will be consumed at an amazing rate....oops that's another post.

One may wonder what the "boys" were up to? Well when I left the house this a.m. they were planning on driving up to one of Grandpa's farms to help with harvest. I (mistakenly) assumed this meant tractor riding, combine riding and general harvest type activities.....and there was some of that.

There was also the brilliant idea of the "boys" to take the go cart with them so that they could drive the mile long rows as grandpa combined. By the graphic and animated descriptions from Lucas and Eli there was little following the rows and a whole lot of spins, cookies and general mayhem in the field. By the amount of dirt on their clothes, in their hair, in their boots I'm really wondering how much dirt they left in grandpa's field. I also wonder at what point today Sydney and I were suppose to have that much fun.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Kid is Trying To Kill Me!

Eli. He really is out to get me. I know it. He is determined to put me into hysterics with his "revelations". He always....I mean always....causes at least one near fatal happening when we are driving somewhere.

He is very animated to say the least, the more he has to say the faster and louder it comes out. Friday evenings' near miss was caused at warp speed when he announces from the back seat...."MOM! My mustache, it is growing, it is growing right now! No really it is growing right now, I know it! Look, Look! Right here under my nose!" You'd think he had a Fu Man Chu mustache under that nose.

I have no idea where this came from. I have no explanations for why everyone in our neighborhood knows to get out of the way when they see our Yukon coming down the that's not true, it's because the driver (me) is hysterically laughing.