Thursday, May 30, 2013

School Is Out...Let The Sibling Bickering Commence

Summer school break must be a little like labor and delivery.  You forget about the painful part and just remember the good parts....just like summer break.  Usually I get about a 1 week span between the end of school and the first "sibling" issue...this year it started 2 minutes before the official end of the school year.

Needless to say and saving a few of the "participants" embarrassment, it is not easy to move home from college for the summer (Sydney) or in preparation for months of student teaching (Rachel) or to have 2 of your older sisters re enter the household (Lucas and Eli).

The issues could all probably be solved with the addition of two more bedrooms with separate entrances, all of which would be on different floors preferably with their own bathrooms and kitchens.  I have 4 more work days left until I'm off on summer break.  I just hope the house survives and I still have all kids present and accounted for when next Thursday rolls around.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Someone To Remember

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States.  Over this past week-end our family took flowers to the cemetery in memory of my dad, grandparents and sister.  Taking flowers to the cemetery at this time of year was a huge thing for my parents and something that we've continued on with our kids.

The kids all know that a cemetery is not the end but a new beginning.  They are a place however, that we can go and remember and think a little more in depth about those we've loved who have died.  The good, funny and not so fun times we may have had with that person.

I always remember back to a friend of ours that told us he thought Memorial Day and visiting cemeteries was useless and unnecessary.  Yes, you remember people no matter where you are or what time of year but his statement has always bothered me.  Visiting the grave sites of those we love lets our family share together those memories and open up conversations that I'm pretty sure people don't have anywhere other than a cemetery.

This is one tradition that Lucas especially takes an interest in.  Anything or anytime he has a chance to learn about family members and how they are related and what they were like is of interest.  When I told him we were going this week-end he started asking questions much as he's done the last 3 years since they've come home.

He was very worried that we could not take my mom to the cemetery, her health is not good.  He talked about grandma telling him stories last year and that she would be sad that she couldn't go.  I told him that yes she would be sad but that she knows that we will go for her and that we will remember all the stories she has told and add some new ones that he hasn't heard.

He thought it over and said, "Ok, I guess that will work.  I can go and remember because grandma told me stuff and I don't think I ever had anyone to remember and now I have family here so I'll do my remembering here."

I have no doubt that this grandson from a half a world away, that didn't get a chance to know his grandpa will be able to say to his children, "let me tell you what I remember about my grandparents."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Parenting a 40 Year Old Eli

A common occurrence at our house is the brief glimpses into the future of what Lucas and Eli will be like as old men.  They will have these detailed conversations that would sound more natural coming out of 80 year olds than 13 and 12 year olds.  

I arrived home from work this week to be treated to a glimpse of what Eli could look like at 40.  He walked out of his room as I came in the door looking like this....
He thought he was pretty tough looking...I had another description...then he showed me his tough face....

Then I had to tell him if he showed up at the baseball game looking like this, we would have to pull his birth certificate to prove to the other team that he was almost 12 instead of 40.  Reluctantly the mustache was removed.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A First For This Blog

I've never done this here on my blog.  I want to recommend another's blog for you to read.  I don't know why I haven't done this before, I read a lot of adoption blogs from around the world and find such a wealth of knowledge and met a world full of wonderful people through them.

I stumbled on this blog, can't remember how.  It is written by a sibling of adopted children.  The post that I would like you to read is dated, May 22, entitled "Siblings" all of them if you have the chance.  It is such a heart felt, well written and though provoking piece, she deserves to have her thoughts read.

Please take the time to go to:   It will lift you up, it will make you think and possibly make you consider your possibilities.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Meaning of a Hug

In the hectic after work, hurry clean up the house, start laundry, fix supper, clean up supper of last night, Eli managed to stop me in my tracks.  I was putting away the left over food and cleaning up from supper when in the middle of the kitchen, Eli stepped into my path with his arms out.

I said, "What's up?"  This is not the child that hugs without a well thought out or deeply felt need.  It took a long time for him to be comfortable with hugs and his initiating a hug is a well guarded luxury.

His answer,  "Just thanks for taking care of us.  I love you."  

For all the milestones this child has crossed and the progress he's made, his hugs are probably in the top 3 things that I love about him.  You know that when you are on the receiving end of them, they mean something.  They mean a lot.  They aren't given in passing, they aren't manipulative, they are amazing.

Next time you give a hug....make it an Eli kind of hug.  They mean a lot.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Who Is That Boy On The Pitcher's Mound?

Baseball season is in full swing.  We had 3 games, in 3 nights last week, one rain delay and really late nights especially for school nights.

By night 3 we were treated to a different side of Eli on the pitcher's mound....his irritation factor had been reached.  The team we were playing was tough....mainly due to the poor sportsmanship screaming out of the dug out.  Very much against league rules which are supposed to be strictly enforced...that did not happen.

Eli is usually on remote control on the baseball field.  He sees the challenge, he meets the challenge.  You don't hear a word or usually know what is going on in his head, he is ice.  Well.....the ice melted about the time he decided he'd had enough heckling and then the "Filipino Fire" lit and he visibly changed into a pitcher that was not going to allow one more lead off, attempted steal or run.

I'm not sure how many runners he had eating dirt or eventually giving up and staying put.  No it didn't help him out with the other teams heckling but it did get him to smile...a little wickedly.  I have to say from my mom's eyes, it was a slightly (no hugely) proud moment and slightly scary to watch him come off that pitcher's mound and run or throw an imposing player out or back to base.

The self control and confidence he has developed is amazing.  He's usually very careful with who sees his emotions and controls them in public....yep I think it's safe to say that he's comfortable with baseball and the rest of the season should be really interesting.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Read Everything Even If You Think It Won't Be Useful

This is directed mainly at those pre-adoptive parents but I think every adult with children in their lives could benefit.  All those books, pamphlets and materials that you are asked to read throughout the adoption process can be really repetitive, somewhat scary and contradictory.  Read them anyway.  It will prepare you even if you don't think you will encounter any of them, I'm assuring you that sometime in your journey you will.  Maybe right after your child arrives home, maybe years down the road, maybe not even in relation to your own child.

I am constantly running into circumstances either with Lucas and Eli or with others, that directly relate to items that were covered.  Things that at the time I was reading didn't hit home or I couldn't relate to. 

The single best thing I learned from all of it was to view motivations for actions and behaviors from a broader  base of knowledge.  Don't judge and react from the surface level.  When you have that "Ah! Hah!" moment of understanding a child's (in some cases - adult) behavior for more than it's appearance, every book, article or conversation clicks and you are glad you had the tools in your tool box.

Another piece of my mind:  If all parents were required to study, read, undergo inspection and navigate the bureaucracy that adoptive parents do.....children and the world at large would be a better place.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuna in the Philippines

We attended our last school concert for the year last night.  According to Eli, "he'd rather go see Iron Man 3 with his sister" but I digress.

During the performance when Lucas was supposed to be watching his brother's class sing, he leaned over to me and said, "We have tuna in the Philippines." Huh?  Random thought...or so I thought...where did that come from.

As we were walking to the car he starts singing, "oooooh tuna ma tata", the song Hakuna Matata that Eli's class sang except with a play on words, making up an elaborate song about the Filipino tuna fish and he not only sang about this fish of great standing (in his mind) when I tried to curtail his raucous rendition he took it as his personal mission to continue and to serenade the parking lot.

Crazy kid...hope he never loses that love of humor.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pleased With The Outcome

Mike and I met with the principal of Lucas' school yesterday and were very impressed with how he has chosen to meet the bullying issue, that Lucas was dealing with, head on.

I think the situation was handled with appropriate concern, understanding and dealt with in a fashion that left both boys with a clear picture that this behavior will not be tolerated.  The principal was able to reassure Lucas that it is unacceptable for anyone to bully him.

I was pretty proud of Luke for being able to go in and talk with the principal and not be too scared to speak or that he didn't think he was in trouble.  Going to the Principal's office, no matter if you are on the right side or wrong side, child or parent, is not a welcome time....even when the principal is supportive.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

One of the Good Guys

After the rant from my previous post, today was a day that Lucas and Mike and I all needed.  It was the track and field day for the elementary.  Lucas had a great day outdoors with his friends, 2 first place finishes and a third place in relay.  Eli had 2 first place finishes and a 2nd in the relay.

It was good to be out in the sunshine and see the smile on Lucas' face and those of the kids that you know are his friends and appreciate his friendship.  It was a good day.
Lucas and his buddy Ross

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Surviving An Orphanage Feels Easier

Let me start by saying some days I absolutely detest the nasty, mouthy, mean, conniving, sneaky, little poops (that's the clean version of my true words) that can surround our children on a near daily basis.  Then I need to stop and think about all the wonderful kids that are great and try to hold on to those thoughts as I try to explain to my 13 year old that he doesn't have to be friends with every kid and not every kid wants to be his friend.

I need to also say that we whole heartily embrace the fact that no child including ours is perfect and therefore we strive very hard to view issues from all sides, knowing that there can be more to the picture than what we are seeing or hearing.  This approach can have as many drawbacks as being an over protective, over reactive parent.

We've been working with Lucas on different ways to deal with bullies and trying to get him to speak up when he encounters these problems especially at school.  Tonight after yet another encounter with his tormentor we were left to try to explain the unexplainable.  Frankly, I'm done.  We have tried to give him the tools he needs to be able to handle conflict, now I think it's the parents turn.

I'm am not in favor of running to school officials about every scrape, conflict or issue.  Schools should be able to concentrate on education.....unfortunately today's society does not allow that luxury.  I suppose it could be said that, "if it happens on your watch it's your responsibility".  Thus we will be heading to school.

Meantime, we set at home for over an hour and explained to our 13 year old son, who survived abandonment, lived 5+ years in an extremely impoverished Philippine orphanage protecting and providing for his younger brother, willingly moved to a large city to a temporary foster family while waiting to join and travel with "strangers" who were to become his family, moving 1/2 a world away from everything he'd known to a culture, language and world he knew nothing of and who has embraced, achieved and grown into an incredible young man.... that the "little crapper" who isn't worth the dirt on Luke's shoe would not survive or thrive through those same type of struggles nor be half the person Lucas is right now.  Little we say, touches Lucas' "kids" heart, whose desire is to be liked by everyone.

Hearing your child say that life wasn't so confusing in the Philippines....knowing how hard their lives were in the Philippines....really makes me want to explain a few hard truths to a certain spoiled and manipulative classmate.

If you have read this blog from the beginning of our journey you will know that there aren't often times that I say a whole lot of negatives about adopting and this isn't intended to be one of those times.  It's not a frustration with adoption it's a total meltdown over some privileged, culturally and socially unexposed kid who has decided that Lucas and his gaps in understanding are free game for harassment and bullying....they aren't and this is not acceptable.

It's hard to hear your kid miss the years spent in an orphanage because understanding "mean kids" is too hard, it's heartbreaking and infuriating.  Nothing should be that tough and no bully deserves to detract from Lucas' joy of life.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Silent Treatment

Apparently silence is not so golden after all.  A certain son (Eli) has decided that it's only fun for me to have laryngitis for 24 hours but 72 hours hinders his lifestyle.

Tonight he told me, "Mom, you start talking now.  I not hear you and I'm tired of it."  Yes.  That's right.  My son just told me flat out he missed the sound of my voice.  Too funny because I know that give him 1 hour of having a mom with voice enough to give him chores and tell him to pick up his room and he will be wishing for the silent treatment again.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'm Going To Jail!

Hearing your son holler this at you at 7:00 a.m. is an eye opener to say the least.  Yes, he is going to jail....for his class field trip.  The 5th graders are touring the county jail and courthouse and having lunch in the park.  He's very excited, now if I can keep him from screaming announcements so bright and early we'd all be excited and if I were to never hear those particular words come out of his mouth again I will be super excited.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Baseball, Concerts, Field Trips, Graduations and A Wedding

Well spring has can't tell it by our weather but it has by the calendar.  The month of May is so packed with activity that we have to have a spreadsheet with our calendar in order to hopefully keep track of  everything.  Even with that there is massive juggling and having to choose between things.

This week alone we have 3 baseball games, 2 field trips, a track and field day, 6 graduations and a wedding.   I asked Mike the other day if he'd ever thought about what life would have been like if we hadn't adopted Lucas and Eli.  How quiet, slow and non rushed everything would be.  He said he couldn't imagine it and didn't want to as this is better than anything that may have been.

It is something that strikes me as an older adopting parent.  Our friends that are our age and whose kids, our older kids grew up with are now empty-nesters.  We are not.  We have (if possible) more going on than ever before.  It's something we talked about before we brought the boys home as a consideration.  It's not that our friends are sitting still, they have a world of stuff going on it's just not the same as what is happening in our home.  

I was watching television the other day and saw a commercial for a website on "training your brain" in an effort to keep your mind sharp.  It made me laugh, all you'd have to do is keep an active sports, school and social calendar and your brain would be screaming for a break.  Then I have a week-end like this past one.  I've been laid low by some spring "bug".  Eli and Lucas have taken care of "sick mom", as I am currently referred to, cleaned and cooked and played without killing one another.  They also frequently assured me that they'd take care of me when I'm old and will take care of things when we are dead.....nothing like incentive to get better when you're sick....boys are blunt and inspirational.

So if our lives no longer resemble what was or what may have been, I know that it is still a good path and one I'm so glad we are on.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mom? You Look Like Dirt

Some days boys can be tough on a mom's ego.  Today they were probably right in thinking I looked a little rough coming home from work.  It was an intense day.

A five hour software training (not fun), a tragedy with a students' family, cranky people ALL day long and I wasn't feeling the best to begin with.  But there was a silver lining....hey I'm looking for a bright spot in this day.

When I came in the door, both boys and Mike took one look at me, got me a pillow, the remote and a blanket, topped off by a pat on the head from Eli.  As the boys were moving off to the family room, I heard Eli say, "Wow, it must have been a bad day for mom."

Here I thought I was holding it together fairly well...guess not.  Really grateful for my guys tonight...even if they seem to be giving the "crazy" mom a lot of room.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Be More Like The Philippines

Today is May 2, 2013.  Today there is a two hour late start for school due to.......snow and ice.  I mentioned it's May 2nd right?  No one is happy in western Iowa this morning least of which is Eli.  This very uncommon (last time was 1960 something) snow event has schools delayed this morning.  That is not why Eli is disgruntled.  He is a kid after all.

Number one thing to make him unhappy?  Having to take the dog outside for his business.  It's cold, it's icy and being the "he man" he thinks he is, he refused to put on appropriate clothing.  Shorts and snow boots were his choice for the chore.....yep he was cold.  As all our neighbors can testify because they probably heard him complaining a 1/2 mile away.

Once he and his much chillier self got back inside, he went to the kitchen window and with hands on hips thought to teach me how inappropriate and wrong it was for us to have snow.....again.  According to him, the Philippines don't have snow right now and why does Iowa have so much and we never have had snow before in May, we should be like the Philippines.   I think he may believe we've pulled a fast one on him and that this freaky May weather is the norm and what he's experienced since coming home is actually unusual.  It's probably a good thing he wasn't adopted into a family in Alaska.