Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rudolph and the Boys

Tis the Christmas holiday season. Football, football and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I had forgotten how excited Lucas and Eli are to watch every holiday program on the air.

The first year they were home Rudolph made absolutely no sense and the Abominable Snow Monster was the scariest thing imaginable.

Last year we spent the entire hour explaining e v e r y t h i n g throughout the entire hour.

This year apparently we turned a corner with the Rudolph experience. They were both still just as excited, they made us promise that they'd be home from basketball practice in time to watch it. But this year there were no explanations needed, no hiding behind the pillows. They sat quietly, absorbed 150% in a holiday tradition that both Mike and I and the girls all have in our memories. It would be one of those links that are established within an adoptive family that a person doesn't necessarily read in the billion adoption books or enters an adoptive parents' mind when you are looking for ways to involve and introduce family traditions. That is until you are like us, perhaps two years down the road of adoption, with a few holidays under your belt and instead of watching the holiday classics, you are watching your sons enjoy a tradition that they can fully understand and absorb into themselves.

To watch them enjoy and not stress over a holiday happening is a reminder on how stressful this time of year can be for them. Chaos is not our friend on a good day, throw in larger crowds, rich and sugary foods and over stimulation is a small description of the havoc holidays can create for them. It was really nice to witness even this small piece of the holidays being enjoyed by the boys.

Rudolph is the first of what will hopefully be more enjoyable, less stressful holiday happenings. Although getting them to bed after they gave the play by play of what Rudolph said and what the snow monster did was another post entirely.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Caution to All Little Butts

Hope everyone had a special Thanksgiving holiday. Ours was hectic, fun, hectic and busy. Notice a theme? Why we decide that an extended break for a holiday is a green light for house improvements is beyond me. Throw in the fact that Friday was my birthday and then because I'm apparently old, senile and gullible agree that, "Yes. It would be ok to re-floor and put in a new toilet....as my gift." What can I say. I got my first AARP letter the other day....thus old, senile and gullible were my other birthday gifts.

So after two days Mike and I, along with all 5 of our children at one point or another, supervising us installed the new flooring and the commode. The only thing we didn't run by Lucas and Eli was the selection of the toilet itself. They apparently have very strong feelings about their primary bathroom fixture as discussed where else but at the Sunday dinner table.

With all of our family in attendance, Lucas starts out with, "Hey! What do you think you are doing. That toilet is too big. I'm Filipino. I have little butt, that hole is too big, I will fall in it." With the added support of Eli, who had apparently already taken a dip into the bowl prior to it's placement, quickly agreed. His view point, "YEAH! I have the Filipino little butt, we don't need no big hole! I'm scared I fall in and go down."

Yes we laughed....come on you are too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

20/20 Hindsight

After nearly two years with Lucas and Eli being part of our family you would think that we would have covered a lot of ground as far as memories that the boys' have of their lives in the Philippines. We have done a lot of talking about a lot of different things, sometimes we visit those same things to the point of wanting to paint pictures.

These memories can be quite complex or the most basic of things. From people, places, illnesses, general daily living to their earliest memories of their birth mother and family. It still blows me away as to how much Lucas knows about his biological mother and their lives before being placed at RSCC Zamboanga. He was 3 years old. Can you remember things when you were 3? Between his memories and the information we have received we can sort through and piece together a lot of things.

The latest concentration of discussion has been concerning the trip we took to Manila to pick up the boys in 2009. Lucas and Eli have both been reminiscing about the Holiday Inn Galleria Hotel where we stayed. Now granted it was their first experience in a hotel of any kind and the fact that they'd just been handed over to people that looked nothing like them and they knew only basic things about and had no communication beyond yes and no......so no doubt that was a very memorable time.

This particular trip down memory lane had nothing to do with any of that trauma but with the breakfast buffet at the hotel. It was AMAZING! according to Lucas and if you listen to Eli is was EVERYTHING I WANT! They know exactly what they ate, where they sat and who sat by who.

I look back at pictures from those mornings and I think I see shell shocked little boys, which they were but they were also little video/audio recorders that have the abilities to replay and use exact wording for conversations. I could not come up with half the memories they dredge up but once they start the trip down memory lane it all comes back clearly.....the sausages at breakfast, the 4 different kinds of juice Eli had to have before we figured out which kind he liked, the unexpected dip in the pool where Mike had to fish Eli out, the boys sitting on the bed with Sydney watching cartoons, the list goes on and on.

For their sakes I hope they can retain these memories. We write as much down as possible. Sometimes we find that we have to correct their perceptions of what was actually happening vs. the kids' point of view. We always wondered when adoptive parents know when is the right time to talk about the past with their kids and for us the kids are leading the way. I suppose in some ways it's not too different from talking with your biological kids about tough subjects, kids absorb things at their own pace and if you are careful and watchful you can all have 20/20 hindsight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

This Filipino Not Stopping Til I'm Full

The newest food sensation for Lucas and Eli is homemade chicken and noodles. Eli will stop after two bowls but Lucas would eat until he explodes.

Tonight he was asking for his 3rd helping (the first 2 were huge) and Sydney said, "Bud, you've had two and I've had one. I'm stuffed so you have to be getting full."

Very calmly and with "superior brotherly attitude" he said, "This Filipino is not stopping until I am full. I am not full, I am not stopping." .......so a 1/2 serving later this Filipino's mom called a stop and if by his over extended, groaning when getting up from the table was an indication he should probably have listened to his wiser older sister.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Sad Day In The Neighborhood

No.....no one died, the dog didn't run away and there were no injuries. The major tragedy to occur this week-end (at least from the boys' perspective) was the dismantling of the trampoline. I know. It's not like there aren't far graver things happening in the world today but for two boys who have bounced themselves goofy over the past 7 months and a mom that always knew where to start looking when they were outside this fixture of our yard will be missed.

Winter is pressing towards us so it was time to dismantle and wait for spring to arrive or chase it across the county when the winter winds start blowing. I do have to correct an earlier statement, there was an injury....Eli is now sporting a new crease in his forehead and an appreciation of not getting too close to his brother when he has a trampoline leg in his hands.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Girl Can Sing and A Smile Worth Millions

This week-end we had the awe inspiring, pride filled opportunity to watch Sydney in her last high school play/musical. Every other year our school does a musical, the next a play. This years' musical was Cinderella. No Sydney was not Cinderella but the Wicked Stepmother. Her sisters claim she has had a lot of practice being loud and "mean" at home....I think they provided a lot of opportunity and example for her to learn from......

If you have had the "pleasure" of a child practicing for months on end for a play, you will totally understand when I say, "it was time to get the show on the road." Long rehearsals, no family time, constant running back and forth to school, drama all the time from a stressed out, worn out teenager who is filling out college paperwork and taking some college courses and maintaining high school homework...does not always leave room for the most pleasant few months.

The stress this week was a dress rehearsal where the costumes did not fit almost the entire cast...they were done professionally...they are supposed to receive refunds....a matinee for the elementary students where Sydney scared some of them and now they won't come near her at school....how they recognize her is one for the books, she looks nothing like herself. I digress but let me say, I greatly dislike the week of performance.

On Friday we all went to watch opening night, we had seen Sydney in makeup and hair so that wasn't a surprise, what did knock all 10 of her family on their collective butts was when she sang. H O L Y S M O K E S! The girl can sing! How could any of us live around her for 18 years and not know what kind of voice she packs in that 5' body? Yes, we go to choir concerts, swing choir events but those are group efforts. For someone who is pretty quiet except when driving her point across to her brothers....WOW! I won't soon forget sitting in the auditorium listening to her first song and looking over at Alison and Rachel, beside me and seeing the same look on their faces of what I'm sure was on my face. I also now understand why those elementary kids are afraid of her....she plays one very scary step-mother.

Afterwards, the cast go out front to meet the audience and while there a lady brought two of her daughters up to Sydney. She said they wanted to talk to her but were scared. Sydney got down on the floor and tried to make them comfortable but with full make up and costume it was still a bit hard for them to realize that she wasn't the person up on stage and wasn't going to hit them with a broom like she had Cinderella.

The last little bit I'd like to share is the reactions of Lucas and Eli. You have to understand that over the past several months they have sat through rehearsals with Sydney until we pick them up after work. Usually it was about 15 minutes a few times a week. In those 15 minutes, they learned dialogue and the songs, if an understudy had been needed they could have stepped in. They can tell you almost any line in the play and sing all the songs at high volume whenever the mood strikes.....can't say as I will miss some of them as they grate on the nerves after 150,000 recitations.

During the play, while watching Sydney on stage, I could see the boys in the row in front of us. They were on the edge of their seats, laughing, clapping and generally 100% engrossed. It made me think of last years' play and the first time they had experienced something like it. They were scared, didn't like black out, couldn't sit still, overstimulated by the crowd and didn't get two steps from us.

This year was about as opposite as you can get. Comfortable and engaged. They both asked to go to the restroom. Why is this important? They KNEW where it was, weren't afraid to navigate the crowd and asked at appropriate times....then during the play they were laughing and clapping...totally understanding what was happening...that didn't happen a year ago. The very best part of watching them was when Eli took Sydney a bouquet of flowers up onto the stage, hugged her and turned around and smiled at the crowd. The kid just did something that was so far beyond him last year that I can't do it justice. It was another one of those moments where as a parent you think..."wow, would you look at that...just look at them go!"