Friday, November 30, 2012

God Lights

Tis the season to decorate, bake and decorate some more.  Our neighbors are so good about decorating outside their homes for everyone to enjoy.  I'm still trying to get the guys to hang outside lights.  Inside is done, thank goodness.  

This morning as we once again headed out to school, Eli started talking about the light of God.  Ok.  Just really out of context for what we were doing.  So as I'm trying to follow his conversation with Lucas I hear,  "you know those people have God's light, we need to get the light of Jesus."  To which Lucas quickly agrees and wants to know if dad can find God's light.  WHAT?

Two miles later and a whole lot of drawing with their hands, they were talking about the neighbors manger scene that was still lit this morning thus the light of God.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Heard It Crack

Those are the words that came out of Eli's mouth as we pulled in to the school parking lot.  What?  Heard what crack?  Obviously, it wasn't a bone as he was playing last night, good this morning and not screaming in pain.  What?

His explanation..."Oh you know last night when you were gone.  Dad gave me an apple and when I bit into it my tooth made a crack sound."  Great.  Does your tooth hurt?  "Nope, but it sure is wiggly.  Are all my teeth going to fall out like that picture of grandpa?  Will I talk like this?"  Which was followed by much inappropriate facial expressions of those without teeth.

Lucas, who could not be left out of the discussion, tells his little brother, "You sure have lost a lot of teeth since we got here.  Pretty soon you aren't going to have any.  You just keep getting rid of them and pretty soon God doesn't give you any more."

What can I say.  We pulled up to the school door and I let them out, came to work and drank a pot of coffee, I'm not leaving the house without caffeine again. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Eyes Have It

"Mom.  How come you and dad look at people's mouth when they talk?"  I wanted to say it's because your dad and I are old and getting deaf so we have to read lips....but I didn't, that was a little too close to true.

Lucas went on to say that he doesn't look at lips he looks at peoples' eyes.  He told us that he can "hear" a lot more by their eyes, even if he doesn't understand the words because they are talking too fast, their eyes will tell him.

Sadly, he also went on to say that he is quiet in school, watching eyes because that way he can figure out what is being said......people talk too fast.  I can only imagine how tired his brain is from deciphering a constant barrage of English.  Then to realize he's "reading" eyes to judge what is going on and people's intent.

We knew both he and Eli are watchers, it is a coping mechanism from the orphanage.  Safety, approval and knowledge were gained from watching, now watching has become a learning tool and probably a little security as they navigate growing up.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wake Up Call

Have you ever been sleeping soundly and get the feeling someone is watching you?  This has been my wake up call for the past several mornings...at 5:30 a.m....followed by "I'm ready."  WHAT!

I don't get it.  Mike jokingly told him on Sunday that he needed to make sure he set his alarm so he'd have plenty of time to get ready for school.  Lucas asked him what time, he said 5:30 but did correct himself when he realized Luke took him seriously.  This is the part I don't understand.  This was a conversation between Mike and Lucas...why do I have to be woken up at 5:30?

It is nice that he has his bed made, room picked up and back pack ready.  Today he even remembered to take his drum kit to school for practice.  I wonder if I should be leaving him a list of chores I need done...pretty sure that would cure the early wake up.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Three Years to Spontaneity

Over the course of the three years since the boys came home, they have met and passed many milestones.  One of those surfaced in technicolor this holiday week-end.  All 5 kids were in the house for extended periods of time.  It allowed them to interact with one another in ways that brief visits on week-ends and an hour or two here and there don't touch.  Bicker, joke, argue, joke...repeat...you get the idea.

It was hectic here, Thanksgiving, family pictures, birthday and Christmas decorating all in the span of 4 days.  Lots of together time.  Lucas and Eli are getting better at giving themselves breaks when they get too overstimulated and need some down time.  Only one melt down this week-end, I count that successful.

Something that was new to the family dynamics this holiday was that both boys have developed this sense of appropriate spontaneity in humor, interactions, behavior and did I mention humor?  At one point Alison turned around after being verbally zinged by Eli with such a shocked expression it was hilarious.  She asked, "Where did this kid come from?"  "Where is he learning to talk like that?"  Not inappropriately by any means, just verbally holding his ground in a humorous conversation with the sister that can talk her way into and out of anything.

I hate to tell the girls...their brothers have had them and their dynamics under close study for the past 3 years and spontaneous humor is only the tip of the iceberg to things they have mastered.  Beware!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Holidays are Mixing Together

Many reasons to be thankful today.  Family being the biggest and best gift.  Lucas and Eli have picked out and are in charge of making their favorite food for today.  Lucas is in charge of homemade noodles.  Eli is making stuffing.  Yep stuffing, something that he wouldn't touch the first Thanksgiving home.

We were sitting at supper last night talking about all the items we had yet to make.  Lucas informs us that he had roast pig for Thanksgiving in the Philippines.  We had to explain that yes he may have had a roast pig but Thanksgiving is generally an American holiday.  They probably had this treat on a different holiday in the Philippines.

He shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't care if it was Thanksgiving or not, he sure was thankful to eat it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Know.....Right :)

Some mornings a mom just have to laughs.  With Eli, there are a lot of laughs.  I've never seen a kid who jumps out of bed with a smile on his face, ready to go and is 110% in to everything he does.

In an attempt to clean house and bake for the Thanksgiving holiday, we were trying to get the boys to pick up their rooms a little better than normal.  Mike went into Eli's room to help him do a little "fine tuning" to his clean up job.  Later, as I walked by the doorway I noticed a couple of things on the floor that needed to be put into the laundry.  I said, "Eli, you still have some dirty clothes on the floor."

He calls back from his position in front of cartoons on tv.  "I know, right? (total disgust in his voice)  Dad said he'd do it."  Nothing like starting the holidays with a laugh.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Know What They Will Look Like in 60 Years

We had a brief glimpse of the future and what Lucas and Eli will look and act like 60 years from now.  Sitting together on the couch, one reading a book, the other drawing.  Talking to one another at supersonic speed and neither one listening to the other.

When I say they were speaking fast, I mean we could not understand a word that was uttered.  After about 10 minutes of this (my hearing and sanity were in danger) they stopped at the same time, looked at each other and said at the same time, "What?"  Practicing for their old age I guess.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When Girls Come Calling.....Really!

Sometimes important matters that should be addressed with all respect and seriousness are .........hilarious.   We want to be sure that the boys approach friends (boys and girls) with respect.  We also impress upon them sometimes daily that at 11 and 12 years old....they do NOT have girlfriends but friends that are girls.

That works right up until a girl calls the house and talks with one of the boys, he blushes an alarming color of red and mumbles into the phone.    After ending the call he walks away, shaking his head and mumbling, "Ah, man."  I find myself walking the other way, thinking...."Really!  I'm not ready for this."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holiday Request From The School Lunch

I made my holiday request from the family for food they would like to eat for Thanksgiving dinner.  Our kids, if nothing else, are consistent with their favorites.  Alison - macaroni salad, Rachel - pie, Sydney - pistachio salad, Lucas - green bean casserole.....and then there is Eli (with full support of Lucas).  

Can you guess what he REALLY wants for dinner?  Sweet potatoes just like the school cooks make.  In his estimation they are the best things possible.  I'm not sure what that says for my cooking but like the dutiful (or  passivating) mom that I am, I made one of the oddest calls our school probably received today,  "Can you tell me if there is anything special the cooks do to their sweet potatoes?"  

After assuring the school that, "no, I don't have a complaint", "no my child didn't get sick from it", I had to explain that my son, "REALLY wanted those for Thanksgiving."  Now you may be wondering what the secret recipe is?   Open a can, sprinkle with brown sugar, warm.  I can handle it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Who Giggles More?

I'm really starting to question who giggles more.....boys or girls?  Right now I'm thinking boys.  For the past month or so, one or the other or both of the boys have been sick or injured.  Apparently they've both recovered admirably.

For the last two nights they giggle at each other, the tv, the dog, their parents, their sisters, bodily functions, brushing their teeth (that is not a pretty sight).  Last night Eli was across the room working on his homework....smiling with the occasional giggle thrown in.  Did you catch that?  Homework (voluntarily), smiles and happy.  This from the kid who wouldn't go to school 3 years ago.  I feel like giggling!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What's He Speaking?

I've been reading a book called "The ELL Brain and How It Learns".  It's a fantastic book that parents and teachers of ELL kids should read.  It is such an eye opener to all that is going on in their brain and what all has to happen for these learners.  It is one of the few books that my husband has picked up read 3 pages and said, "Oh.  I wish I'd known this 3 years ago, it would explain so much."  And then he kept reading.

As a population at large a lot of people could benefit from reading it.  For those that have never had to learn a new language or those who mock or judge those learning, it could give them a new point of view.

Although last night in our house we had our own little intolerance issue in regards to people with accents and what is "wrong with him?"  Nope, not from any native English speaker but from one of our sons, as he was watching tv.  He heard someone speak English with a heavy Eastern European accent and was quite adamant about that person not speaking English correctly.  He was, just accented.  

I pointed out to our son that he too speaks with an accent.  He was so shocked.  He looked at his brother and said, "No I don't, I talk just like him."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sydney's College Project...Her Brothers

Sydney is a college freshman this year.  Lots of assignments, with lots of subject matters.  This past week one of those subjects for a speech was international adoption and her brothers.  I think she found it challenging to fit her knowledge of the subject in the designated time frame.  No she wasn't short for material.           It's kind of neat that she learned so much about the process and what it took to bring Lucas and Eli home.

After class she was approached by several people who were either touched by adoption already, want to adopt in the future or were curious about some of her photos.  As Sydney was telling me this she said, "Mom, I think maybe some of them thought Rachel was adopted too, you know that whole blond thing." 

I don't think about the "looks" of our family.  Our kids are our kids, not adopted, not biological just our kids.       I think I actually used to get more comments on whether or not Rachel was adopted when she was little than I have with the boys.  I think I'll suggest to Sydney that her next subject should be on genetics and family traits.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Not Rude, You're Ignorant

Probably not the nicest title for a blog post but after a week of contemplating, evaluating and trying to "let it go" this is still the title and subject that I can't drop.

Before traveling to the Philippines to bring Lucas and Eli home, I made a small book for our friends and family, introducing the boys, a little about their background, photos and small bits of info concerning institutions and behaviors that can be associated with children raised in that environment.  In a nutshell I tried to condense all the adoption and attachment books that I'd read and include things that our friends and family may be introduced to along with our two new family members.

A couple of people that received this booklet were nice enough to let me know they appreciated it, as it answered some questions that they were hesitant to ask but interested in so that they could also help in the transition and their interactions with Lucas and Eli.

Included in this cliff note introduction were customs and mannerisms that may differ from the boys to our norm.  Nothing wrong with differences but people do wonder.  These are not differences that we have ever tried to "change"....why should we, it is culturally and socially acceptable.  They are fully aware that we do some things differently, if they adapt to it that's fine, if they ask questions about the differences we answer.  They are also aware that the differences can make them stand out in peer situations.  This is usually when they may chose to adapt the situation.  The key to that statement....THEY CHOSE!

So.  For anyone who may run into our family, we are a family made up of 2 cultures, experiences, language differences and behaviors.  We try very hard to not let these differences be an excuse for bad behavior but unless you have immersed and understand Lucas and Eli's birth culture do not presume to correct something with them that you deem to be impolite or rude.  Here is your first clue when you have breached an appropriate boundary.....Lucas and Eli will look at you like your are an idiot.  They won't say anything to you  about your misstep as that is rude for a child to correct an adult, they will simply know you are ignorant of things outside your small world.   Your second clue of a monumental proportion?   Me.  As you finish your tirade at my child please look over your shoulder because I am there.  I will be there.  I will address your ignorance either with education, condemnation or avoidance.  I will not allow my children to feel or believe their culture is any less valuable than yours.  Do not attempt to impress your "manners" on them, they have parents who will be the guideline.

As in the beginning, ask questions, seek answers we are always happy to talk with anyone about most aspects of adoption and the boys.  We are not okay for others to devalue and make our boys feel less than anyone else.  Educate yourself....be rid of your ignorance your world will be so much brighter.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Define Freedom

Periodically Lucas and Eli go through phases where all extra talk is about the Philippines and their memories.  Lately, we've moved beyond the Philippines to details of meeting us in Manila, travel home and the first days in their new home.

Lucas has been talking about being scared, not being understood and not understanding what we were saying.  (Here we thought we were doing so well.)  About learning to ride a bike and learning all the rooms in the house.

One of the interesting thoughts he told us went like this, "I remember being soooo tired.  I went to sleep and woke up the next day and looked at everything.  You said I could go outside and play but I didn't know where to stop outside.  Someone always told me where to play, someone always told us when.  You said I could just go play.  That's what freedom is.  Freedom is when you can play outside when you want."

What's your definition of freedom.  To a newly adopted 9 year old from the Philippines, it's freedom to be a kid.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cowboy Cars

Our town is small.  One stop light and no fast food.  I know.  Small.  Driving through town itself takes 90 seconds at most.  Traffic is slow so there is always time to look at everything and everyone....that may add 15 seconds to your travel time.

That is unless your child (Eli) screams, "Look at the cowboy car!" thus causing you to give yourself whiplash.  Then there is the mom mind confusion that ensues as I try to figure out what on earth is a cowboy car.  Do you know?

This is a common test whenever we are in the car.  Let's see how many kinds of cars mom does not know the name of.  Their favorites are Mustangs, Cameros and Corvettes.  Yes.  I do know these.  Not a cowboy car....have you figured it out yet?

It was the sheriff's car with the emblem on the door.  Just like a cowboy sheriff wears according to Eli.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who'd You Vote For?

Voting is today.  If I should have forgotten after the million calls from campaign workers and the fliers overflowing the mailbox, I have 2 very verbal, opinionated sons, who are adamant about the voting process.  They are excited. 

I have to confess.  I just really want all the ads, calls and mail to stop.  Yes it's an important process.  Yes I will vote.  Yes I've decided.  I just want to not be told, reminded, cajoled, lied to and harassed by the process 24 hours a day.

The boys are all excited about who is voting for whom.  They even asked their principal who he voted for...sorry Mr. Makey.  They want to make sure that they can come with me to vote after school.  

Four years from now the boys will be 16 and 15 the next time elections are held.  I wonder if they will be as involved, excited and hopeful as they are today.  They have a very high appreciation of America, it's opportunities and they value each and every freedom they have.  I wonder if the rest of us truly place such high value on the million reasons we should vote, should appreciate America and should have an opinion.  Vote, have an opinion and follow through.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Speak Correctly

We don't have to remind the boys of this quite as much as we used to.  What we have taking place in the house is a reversal.  Forbid if one of the native English speakers forms a sentence wrong or uses a word incorrectly or flat out says the wrong word.

Eli, the speach profectionist, is on the case or the case of the errant speaker.  I used to try to explain that people sometimes use the wrong words and it is impolite to correct people especially those older than him.  Unfortunately, he is headed for a debate career.  His argument.....you correct me all the time, I learn English the right way, you should use it the right way, how else am I suppose to learn.  Ok.  Well.  Guess we all will be watching our words and if he happens to correct one of you out there, we ask that you understand how much he values getting the words right.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mickey Mouse It Was Not

We live on a farm in Iowa, Midwest views, Midwest critters.  It's not uncommon at this time of year to have at least one (I delude myself to think there is only one) cold mouse make it's way inside with the intention of setting up house.

This time we apparently didn't detect our visitor quite as quickly and so when he met his demise he was extremely "healthy".  Gross, yuck and ick!

I came home from school this week to the very unwelcoming smell of something dead.  With the superior help of my two brave sons we emptied the  cupboards and went on a rodent hunt.  We found it.  Ewwww!

Eli (because he was the only remaining soul to take on the task - Luke and I provided support from the other side of the house) extracted the remains and disposed of the unwelcome guest.  

Reason 9547 that it's good to have brave men in the house.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Which Child Gets The Consequence

Adults mess up, kids mess up.  Sometimes both at the same time.  I arrived to pick the boys up at after-school care to hear a report that one of "your" boys said a naughty word.

Hmmmm. Ok.  My question, "which boy?"  I thought it was a normal question.  Then I looked at this wonderful lady's face, she has taken care of so many children in our community and is a real blessing in control and patience with so many in her care, but at that moment the look on her face was priceless....no clue.  Confirmed by her reply, "I don't know."  

I soooo wanted to laugh (inappropriate I know).  Luckily the offending child confessed and was accurately identified.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Going To Find The Kids

I've written previously about trips to and from school and about all the hilarious, mind blowing, sibling tattling and self outing that goes on within the 2 mile stretch between school and home.

With the sun rising later and later, I take the boys to school in the dark these days.  This morning as we are approaching the school driveway Eli spots a school bus heading out on it's route with all it's lights on (probably while he noticed it today and not previously).

Also to explain further, Lucas and Eli's favorite sport these days, is to impart to one another how much smarter they are than the other.  In Eli's most superior, know-it-all voice.  He says, "Oh look.  The school bus is going to go find all the kids."  The next 30 seconds of conversation was Lucas trying to get Eli to understand that a bus has a route and the kids are picked up at the same place all the time and that the bus doesn't "find" kids.

Eli's response....."so!"  If I'd only known one small word could stop the bickering so effectively.  We are talking dead silence all the way into the school building.  Not mad silence, just an acceptance to the end of the discussion.  So for all the parents out there...remember this powerful (and mature) word to end all arguments...."so".