Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lock Down Equals PTSD Risk

Unfortunately in our world practicing for the unthinkable is necessary in a lot of places....especially schools.  As a school secretary I get to see the other side of these drills and know how vital they can be if there is a need to go into a lock down at school.

As a parent of two sons who have been on the front lines to some pretty horrendous actions of nasty people, thieves breaking into the orphanage, soldiers searching around and in the orphanage for "bad" people and many more incidents, I dread lock down drills at school.

Eli has moved past a lot of his triggers for Post Traumatic Stress.  Lucas still struggles with crowds, trigger words and these drills.  Thank goodness once again the school and teachers are aware and prepare him as much as possible.  We talk about the drills at home...a lot.  They can still bring on nightmares and "quiet" periods.  

We've thought about not having him present during these drills but they could save his life.  It's a hard balance for everyone.  Tonight we talked some more.  Lucas told me he still sees the "bad men" from the orphanage days but they don't make him feel like holding his breath so much.  I'll take that as a good sign that he's put some distance between then and now.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where Do You Start and Stop

These past couple of week's we've been reading back through the blog to find dates, names, time frames and   everyday stories in order to complete school work and answer questions.  I am so glad we started this blog when we did.  I didn't think I'd keep it up and as I don't want to jinx myself who knows how long it goes on. Some days and or weeks there is a lot to say and others....not so much.  

As Lucas worked through his speech project, his teacher and us too, have used it as a tool to help him reconstruct the last 3 years and prior to coming home.  

What I'd like to say and hopefully encourage anyone out there that is starting to talk about, slugging their way through the paperwork, in the heartbreaking waiting parts or the traveling or already home part of adoption to seriously think about keeping a blog.

I was never good with the girls' baby books...sorry girls.  This I seem to be able to keep up with...usually.  I think it has also been a great tool for the boys.  They look through it and read parts of it and will come back to it or see a picture from 3 years ago and ask a question from that time that they may not have had the words or understanding to ask at the time.

This hodge podge,rambling blog has turned out to be a tool for them that I didn't realize it could be when we started it at the beginning of our journey.

I'd also like to say that, yes I know people are freaked out about sharing too much and yes there are crazy, nasty people out there but I also will share with you that I have met, spoken with, answered questions from and had the unexplainable privilege of meeting some amazing people around the world.  The connection adoption holds for so many is not something I realized when we started out to adopt our sons.  

If you open yourselves up, you will run the risk of dealing with the nasty people but I can also tell you that for me, the sound of joy in someones email or the phone call I get from someone I've never met letting me know that their "call" finally came to travel is so beyond compare, that the negative side is put into perspective.

It can also help me.  At those times when I want to pull my hair out and wonder if we really know what we are doing, I will go back reread something we may have struggled with and it lets me know that we managed to get over that hurdle, we'll get over the next too.

Think about a blog, think about sharing yourself with others, the good, the bad and the ugly and you just may find that what you receive in return is beyond your imagination.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Celebrating and Retaliating

When there are brothers and sisters involved anything least in this family.  There is teasing, arguing, teasing, rough housing, teasing....and A LOT of teasing.

Today is Rachel's 22nd birthday and we had a family/friend birthday party for her before she headed back to college yesterday.  We were missing Alison but as she was in Las Vegas with friends I'm sure she will forgive us for celebrating without her.  Her dog was present so I guess that was her rep.

I managed one semi good pic but as the "brothers" weren't cooperating real well the "sisters" thought they would manage them for the remaining photo ops.  The bottom was the last picture after that decision...not because the boys quit...I did, I wasn't up to the task.

Happy Birthday Rachel ~ Hope you enjoy a wonderful day!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lecture Fall Out

Can you relate to a particular parental "moment" that went the wrong direction?  After 28 years of such moments they can still amaze me as to how off course and who the teaching opportunity affects.

Teaching manners is a big deal around here.  I can not handle chomping, chewing with a mouth open, gulping, interrupting or lack of respect for others.  I'm death on it.  In the course of this week-end there has been a lot of manners and the lack of them on display.

I had to laugh when I overheard a conversation in the kitchen over the last glass of lemonade.   It went something like this:  
  • Do you want that glass of lemonade?
  • I don't know do you?
  • If you want it, go ahead.
  • No, no you may have it.
  • No.  It's ok.  I don't need it.  You have it.
  • No. You may have it.
  • I'm fine, I don't mind if you take it.
  • No, no, I want you to have it.
This was not a conversation between Lucas and Eli but between Eli and Dad.  The extent and duration (I didn't put it all in here) was amazing.  The glass of lemonade, you may ask......still sitting in the middle of the counter for me to clean up.  Males.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Explanation Please

We have had a return to winter weather this past few days, lots of snow, wind and no school for anyone.  It's hard to tell who enjoys snow days off from school more, the kids or the adults who work at a school.  

It was not my intention to do much but enjoy the time off...yes I was strike.  But in the interest of self preservation and survival, I did periodically expect a little help with chores.  Play a little, do a chore usually works well.....until I discover the stock pile of dirty clothes that two certain sons have been creating behind their beds and on the closet floor.  So my laundry that I thought was done...was is now and not by me.

What is it with kids?  It's not just the guys that do this I remember this as and issue with the girls.  Mom asks, "do you have your dirty clothes in the laundry room?"  Kid replies, "yes, yep, ya".  They do not!  The clothes hamper is 2 feet away but the floor is the chosen spot and once it hits the floor it becomes invisible and forgotten to them.

I wash it, they should get it to the laundry, right?  What are we doing on the 2nd snow day?  Vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, dusting, baking and......LAUNDRY!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Speech Contest and My Story

Hi.  My name is Lucas.  Mom is letting me write on this page for the first time.  Here is a rough draft of my speech for contest.  I hope you like it, it tells some things about me.

My name is Lucas and I was born and lived in the Philippines until I was adopted three years ago.
When I lived in the Philippines my name was Lowie Liguid.  I was raised in an orphanage in Zamboanga City on the island of Mindanao.
My birth language was Tagalog.  I also spoke a dialect called Visayan.  I did not know any English until three years ago.  I began learning English when I was told that my brother and I were going to be adopted.
My life in the orphanage was very hard.  The children who live there have to work hard around the orphanage.  When I turned seven I had many jobs such as kitchen chores, cleaning, helping feed the babies and laundry.  
There are many children who live in the orphanage and some were mean to me.  When I would walk to school sometimes other kids would pick on me.
The food we would eat in the orphanage is different from what we have here in America.  Sometimes I miss having the food I ate in the Philippines but I have more food now and it is good too.
When I learned that I was going to have a family in America I was excited and scared.   I am glad I know how to work hard because learning a new language and learning what it is like to live with a dad and mom and sisters is not easy for me.
I started school two weeks after I came to America.  It was very confusing.  The school is very different and has many different rules.  I was very lucky that the other kids helped me and the teachers too.  I was scared at my American school because in the Philippines if I did something wrong at school I would have to hold out my hand and the teacher would hit it with a stick.  I did not know if that was a rule in America, I was glad that it is not.
There were so many new things to learn when I came home.  I have had to learn English by listening to other people.  They taught me the names of things at home and at school.  Sometimes I think they might get tired of having to say things over and over to me so that I understand.
 I have had to learn to be a part of a family with people that I had never met.  It was scary in the Philippines because I only had my brother at the orphanage.
I also wanted to make friends here in America but I don’t always understand them.    My friends teach me so many things each day but I don’t think they know how much.  They teach me games, rules, how to be a friend but also how to speak and understand English.
I began preparing to learn English while still in the Philippines but the hard work really began with an 18 hour trip from Manila, to Tokyo, to Minneapolis and then to Omaha.  My teachers, parents and other friends have helped to teach me how to speak English but to also read and write this hard language.
I am not the only English language learner in our school.  In America 1 out of 10 students in a class room is an English language learner.   Learning to speak, understand, read and write English is so important to me.  It let’s me be a part of my new home and gives me the chance to grow up to be the best possible person I can be.
That is Lucas' rough draft.  He and his teacher are still working to whittle it down a little as it does run over the time allotted.  It's hard to cram 13 years into 5 minutes.  Overall the project I knew was coming and dreading has gone pretty well.  We will see how he handles a crowd listening to him, he doesn't like people to pay too close attention to his speaking as he's very aware that he doesn't sound or speak like others.  No matter how it turns out or even if he flat out refuses and his grade suffers it's ok.  He's learned a lot through the project and we are happy that he tackled it.

Speech Contest

Lucas' 5th grade classmates will be holding a speech contest in a few weeks.  The speech topic is, Someone Who Has Overcome Something in Their Life.  With the help of his teachers and some guidance from us, his topic is himself and his journey in learning English.

His classroom teacher has helped him form an outline and explained, rewritten and explained a lot.  He was very scared...still is to speak in front of people but once he understood that he would be talking about a subject he knows, himself, he has gotten more comfortable.

Last night, we sat down together and went over the outline, his assignment last night was the rough draft.

He could tell me what it was that he wanted to say and then we'd work at putting it into a complete sentence.  Sometimes his structure isn't always correct and he doesn't want to be embarrassed.

Out of his rough draft he has a rough 7 minute speech.  He says a lot about himself but I know there was a lot more he wanted to say.  He doesn't quite grasp the time limit concept.....he has stuff to say.  With his permission I will post his speech tomorrow for you all to read.  Perhaps it will be simplistic to some but to others you'll see a little bit of his journey through his eyes.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Death is Different

This has been a hard winter for our family and friends.  We have lost more than a few loved ones over this season.  It's hard to grasp the death of those we love even as an adult who understands the promise of meeting them again in heaven.  Loss is painful for those left behind.

We have always involved our children in the process of death, funerals and burials.  I firmly believe if you lessen the fear of the unknown and answer the questions when asked you can eventually ease a child or anyone through this difficult time.

We have taken Lucas and Eli to a few funerals and prayer services of those they have known. Their great grandmother, neighbors and close friend. Yes, they were slightly scared but with the help of a wonderful, small town, funeral director who did not shy away from the questions (we took them separately and the funeral director volunteered to be there to answer any thing they may ask, there was a lot and I learned stuff too).

The boys have absorbed, processed and asked a thousand questions.  It's good as long as I have the answers.  When I can't give absolutes than we talk over the unknown and usually they put their own brand on the answer.  Nothing too far off base, just a childs' point of view.

This week we were present to honor the life of a wonderful man who always took an interest in the boys and has been a presence in Mike and my lives for most of them.  I think the one question that came up this time vs. previous times was the comparison of ages of all the people that Lucas and Eli know.  They were putting everyone in chronological order as that is their perception of who dies first.

What struck me about this particular conversation and explanation was that I can vividly remember having this same conversation with my mom and sisters when I was their age.  I remember where, when and who was there.  I think it was the turning point where I first realized that life and death is not something that is a certainty....I remember how scary that was as a kid.

As we were working through all the questions this week Eli gave his insight on death.  He said, "Mom, dead is different.  It doesn't have rules that make sense.  I will have to think about this some more, I'll have to figure it out."  There are just some things that do not have a concrete enough answers for a child.  Parents will have to allow for the "figuring it out" phase.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flying Solo

Last night Lucas was invited to spend an overnight at a friend's and go play laser tag with his family.  Eli was designated as the parental chaperon for Mike and I.  He was less than enthusiastic to be flying solo with the parents.  Let's just say, having both your parents' undivided attention is less than thrilling for any kid.

If you were to ask him about his night, he would probably have you convinced that he had no fun at all.  Forget the video games, the tv watching or other playing....he had no fun!  He doesn't do well (at least in his own mind) flying solo with the parents. 

I couldn't bring myself to shatter his bubble further by letting him know that when Lucas heads off to college he will be "stuck" with old folks for a year by himself before he goes to college.  Then I will need to explain that as the youngest in my family, I was at home, solo, with my parents for 7 years after my older sister left while I may understand his "no fun" problem, I probably will point out his one year survival compared to seven doesn't compare.  Motherly understanding and compassion are sometimes at odds.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wrestling Via Daddy Daycare

A mini break in the school schedule has meant that Mike took a couple of vacation days and conducted "Daddy Daycare" also known as "the guys of the house have run amok".  My house will take an all week-end cleaning to catch up but they have had fun.

I have many pieces of evidence to attest to that as demonstrated by the picture below.  This is one of the many Filipino wrestling moves that Lucas was practicing with his the livingroom, by the china cabinet.    I was not amused but they sure were.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How Is It Possible?

We (I really mean me) have been working on one particular habit that the boys' have, that is sure to drive me into the crazy house....chomping their food.  Let me just say that chomping food is a pet peeve of anyone.

At first I thought it was because they were hungry and wanted to eat as much as possible, as fast as possible.  Then I thought it could be developmental as they didn't learn to eat solids on target.  Then I thought I should probably get over it as it wasn't improving, then I rethought that and decided someone was in grave danger of bodily injury if we didn't master silent chewing (or at least quieter).

I just can't figure out how it is possible to chomp with their mouths closed.  At one point I thought they were dislocating their jaws to make that much noise.  Who knew applesauce made noise?  How about rice?  It ALL makes noise.  I haven't given up....much as they want me to but I am looking into noise canceling headphones.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Exhaustion By Valentines

This is a short school week for our kids.  Their school Valentine's party is on Tuesday so Sunday afternoon we worked on Valentine cards for their classmates.  When I say worked on please translate that to "boy speak" meaning they wrote their friends name, signed their name and added a piece of candy.  Not as fun as the past couple years where they humored me and put a little effort into it.  Those days are over.

Apparently, the stress and work load were too much for Lucas.  He spent roughly 45 minutes on the task and then went to sleep on the couch at 5:00 and didn't wake up until 7:15 this morning.  Yes.  I did check on him, no he didn't appear ill.  The only thing I can contribute this "coma" to was the Valentine cards.

Footnote:  I'm home today from work and I am waiting for that call from school saying, "Mrs. Pickle, Lucas appears to be sick."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Story of Me

One of the things that an adoptive parent reads about in adoption books is about when your child comes to a certain point in school where assignments may be given such as family trees, family history or tracing the child's development from birth.  For many adoptive's not possible to fill in the same "brackets" due to lack of knowledge concerning their background.

Let me start by saying I'm so grateful that our first experience into this area is with a Lucas' teacher and our friend, Lynn.  Lynn has been with us every step of the journey, she advocated for the boys before we knew them. 

Lucas' class is participating in a speech contest.  Everyone does a 3-5 minute speech, subject this year is, "someone who has overcome obstacles."  After a lot of debate on the adult side of things, taking into consideration his language development and understanding of the process itself, he decided he would talk about his life as an orphan, adoptive son and a student learning a new culture and language.  Did I mention it's 3-5 minutes, I can't tell his story that fast.

So we are traveling down memory lane, reestablishing old knowledge and feelings, clarifying a lot from what his perception was to the facts.  The remarkable thing in talking with him is that he truly doesn't see what an overwhelming path he has traveled.  The bits and pieces of struggles, yes, but not the whole picture.  That not everyone has had to struggle as much and fought as hard as he has to be where he is now.  Things that you or I may view as difficult he just accepts as a normal part of his life.

I can't wait to see and hear the end product of this assignment.  We are all learning a lot, school doesn't always just educate the student but those that are touched by that student.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Our Newest Activist

Late last fall I wrote of an incident at a local Walmart where we had an "encounter" with a Walmart employee that had an issue with Lucas and Eli.  To bring you up to speed we initially thought it was because she saw 2 preteen boys, she quickly shed light that it wasn't just boys but racially different boys from her preferred customers.  It was ugly, we took care of it and received appropriate apologies.

It's one of those learning experiences that the boys ....and us really took to heart.  Yesterday after a trip into the city, where diversity is much more the norm, Lucas brought up the Walmart issue.  We rehashed it, talked about what to do, what not to do and safety.

At the end of the discussion, Eli decided to bestow his thoughts,  "Well I don't care.  It's not right! It's just not good and not right and it shouldn't be that way.  I don't treat them bad.  They are wrong! They should know that's wrong, I'll tell them."  I'm sure he will as the entire restaurant we were in now knows his stand on the subject.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Last Female Standing

Last night during the Super Bowl football game, as I sat in the upstairs living room, enjoying a mushy movie, by myself, I had the epiphany that I am the only female left in the house on a regular basis and the only sane person of either gender.

How did I come to this wonderful realization?  Let me tell you.  It was as I turned up the volume on my movie for the fifth time and realized it was over 1/2 way to the max.  No I'm not that deaf.  The volume of cheering, screaming, shouting and grunts coming from the family room which was taken over by the majority, male population of our house, was responsible for my shutting off my movie, grabbing a book and shutting myself in the bedroom.

I may be the only female left standing in our house right now but I'm also the only person not seriously depressed today because their team lost.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Think They Missed Someone

This seems to be another one of those busy times of year (aren't they all).  Rachel and Sydney are in the final semester of college for this year, they are coming and going, sometimes they won't be home for 3 weeks at a time.  They'd probably prefer longer stretches but mom can't handle it.

I know a couple of other, less noticeable people who have a problem with not seeing their sisters, that would be the two Filipino brothers in the family.  It is an amazing phenomenon.  Neither group seems to pay too much attention to the other (that's just not cool) but as a parent if you stand back and watch you can catch all kinds of  "I've missed you but I won't let you or anyone else know", cues. 

From the spontaneous rough housing, to room invasions or the Star Wars saber fight that went on shortly before Sydney headed back to school this afternoon.  The boys hate trying to talk to people on the phone and they are just getting the hang of pestering their sisters by text and Face Time...Alison wisely hasn't purchased an IPhone so she is saved from this face to face brotherly invasion.

So in between visits Mike and I hear, Where is Rachel, what is Syd doing, is Alison at home, are they coming home, when, when, when.  Even if it is "uncool" to admit to your sisters that they miss them, Lucas and Eli sure drop a lot of clues.