Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yet another hair post!

have a couple pictures of Lissa's hair. One you can't really see all that well, but it was a french braid in the center back of her hair, with the rest of her hair free around it. That is the one in the orange dress where she is helping to make salad. That is her favorite cooking job. (in a totally non hair thing, all my kids have always had a favorite cooking chore. Rob was making pancakes, Chet was making cake, KC was making bread dough and Lissa is salad) She was getting the salad together for her godparent's visit last Saturday.

In the second photo you get a better view of today's hair. I did piggy back braids making a sort of headband in the front of her hair so that her hair in the back could be free. I like the look and it works well while I still mess around with learning corn rows and perfecting my french braids. I had originally planned for her to wear a twist style today but she demolished it this a.m. before she even got out of bed!

Some good news

My mom called tonight. She had her ultrasound today to follow up on the questionable mammograms. The professional opinion is that there is nothing to worry about and no sign that this small thing (5 mm thingy) is cancerous. They even compared the last 3 or 4 mammograms (I forget which) and determined that it has always been there and never changed size or shape. It just wasn't as easy to see with the older style mammograms. Most likely it is a calcium deposit. She has the option of having a biopsy if she feels insecure in the diagnosis and she may yet decide to do that. But overall it is very good news and she seemed very cheerful and upbeat.

Swine Flu

I am not totally freaked over swine flu but I am decidedly alert to it. Sigh. A flu that no one has immunity to is not a good thing. Particularly since my wife is allergic to literally all antibiotics except zithromax and is prone to pneumonia. And guess what, is allergic to the stuff in the pneumonia shot so the Dr. told her 3 yrs ago she could never have one again. Hmmm not the stuff to gladden ones heart.

We are only about 30 minutes away by car from a community with 2 confirmed cases. I am not stopping the normal things we do but I am a bit more vigilent over hand washing. And I am opting out of big venue type things. For instance going to a large indoor stadium to see Sesame Street Live is no longer on my potential to-do list. KC saw the ad for this a few wks ago and I was sort of considering if we could swing taking he and Lissa but am not now.

I had someone come to my office yesterday who decided to put on those disposable gloves before she did her move in paper work. I am not at that stage yet, but I am also a wee bit of a sitting duck as tons of people from all walks of life and a wide variety of locations come through my office regularly.

On the plus side, in a totally not related topic, I did something cool and neat with Elisabeth's hair this morning. She had pulled out all the twists I put in at bedtime when I got her up. Sigh. Little sweet faced demon! And because she had mauled them when she took them out there was no way to create a style from their absence. So I sprayed and conditioned her hair, picked it through and then made two "headbands" from braids that went sort of diagonally across her head. They are not true cornrows but are "piggy back" braids, but it worked. And it let me leave the back 1/2 of her hair free today which I like to do every once in a while. I wanted to get a picture but had to leave for work. If it still looks good tonite I'll take a shot when I get home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Watching the changes in my kids is exciting to me. Like on Saturday for instance, I saw a new more relaxed Rob during our visit with the kids godparents. He found safety in keeping his eyes on the ballgame, but was joking and chatting in a very funny, yet somehow a bit understated way. It was cool.

With KC it has been watching his thirst for knowledge. Always an eager learner, he is positively desperate to learn how to read and has been investing so much positive energy into that.

With Lissa, it came last night. She was drawing while I was cleaning up the supper dishes. I had given her a yellow marker and some blank paper. I had identified the color for her as she tends to name all colors pink! She nodded her head when I gave her the marker and then a few minutes later held up the paper. It was now pretty well covered in yellow and she said "Look Ooma!" "Sunny!" I was psyched.

Chet's milestone has been that he has not been yanking and pulling on his hair. Consequently it is much longer than usual (we usually have to shave it because otherwise he has caused damage to his scalp.) and he looks awesome!

Monday, April 27, 2009


I am okay with the fact that I am relatively intelligent. I am not bragging. I am not mensa material but I do pretty well figuring out things and by and large, school was very easy for me. But I think I suck at EQ.

Remember all the talk about EQ a few years back? It was emotional intelligence quotients. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it at the time. Partly because emotions aren't a big part of Chet's vocabulary and at the time he was our only child. Partly because I think it is also mumbo jumbo. Or at least I thought so.

Recently I have revised that opinion a wee bit. The thing is, I do know my kids emotionally. I can tell at a very deep level, and pretty easily what they are saying behind what their words are. I don't have that level of confidence though, with adults.

With adults, some times they seem to want solutions, sometimes they want to b*tch. And the line between those two is often very very blurry. What the heck, how do I know which is which? It was about 6 years into our marriage before I understood that Kirsty complaining about Chet's behavior was not asking me to come up with new behavior management strategies. Or her sighs over the time to balance her checkbook did not mean that she wanted me to set her up on Quicken. . . I know now that I can ask her outright if I don't know which it is that she wants or needs.

But other adults in my family are less comfortable with that. I am supposed to divine psychically or something if they want a solution or they want me to spend 20 or 30 or 40 minutes saying "mmmmmm" every few minutes. Sigh. Mmmmmmm. Oh, excuse me, I was practicing! (laughing)

Right now, my mom is going through some hard things. Her husband of 21 years is dying. It is never easy to be present at the passing of someone and dealing with the staff at the nursing home where he has spent his last years has been difficult. It is a sad reality of our society that we don't spend much time working on handling the passing on of our elders with dignity and understanding.

She has also had a questionable mammogram. My grandmother died of breast cancer back when I was 9. I think my mom feels that this automatically marks her for breast cancer. The reality is that at this point we don't know that. She has a scan on Friday which will hopefully tell us good news that it is not a cancer situation. But I can't tell when she calls with these issues if she wants ideas on how to get more help at the nursing home or if she wants something else. And I worry that I am not giving her the help that she needs. Or the support that she wants. My mom would never want me to ask what she wants. My whole life I was supposed to just know. So this isn't a good time in her life to try and change that. I do hope however I have chosen the right words for her, and I hope with all my heart that she has good results on Friday.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Today was mostly a great day. Busy Saturday morning with errands as usual and then home by noon. Fixed lunch for the kids and made cookies for dessert tonite. We were having the kids godparents over to celebrate Yule. Yup, we know it is April, but with sicknesses on both sides and G.'s travel for his work taking him to sunny CA for weeks at a time, this was the first time they were really free when we were. So we grabbed the date. It was 80 degrees to add to the irony of the late celebration but still a really fun time. They loved the gifts the kids had made them. The kids loved the B and N gift cards they received. Lissa was a bit shy and reticent at first, but warmed up by the middle of the evening. I had to do her hair and as I wanted to watch the ball game (sigh. . . the Yankees lost!) and wanted to be sociable I did it in the living room on the floor with her. It probably took 20 minutes longer that way as there were more distractions so she was more wiggly, but it worked. I think W. really liked seeing how I did Lissa's hair and how Lissa likes to be part of the process of selecting her hair beads and baubles. So that was all good.

Another good thing this week is that my niece gave birth to her second child on the 23rd. Mom and baby are both doing fine. A hale and hearty little boy, so she now has a girl 5 and little N. I can't wait to meet him.

I just realized tonight that I wrote the stories of all my children, but I never wrote the story of Isabella. She deserves to be honored as well, and tonight, most especially.
There are tangled coils in my family. 2 yrs ago, my sister was pregnant. She had asked K and I to adopt her child as she felt she was totally not in a place emotionally to raise another child. My sister has 2 children still at home, a "tween" and a teen. She was leaving a marriage, living apart from her third husband. She was considered an "elderly" pregnancy, being in her late 40's. There was a significant risk of birth defect and she also felt unable to raise a child with a disability.

We agreed and had begun the adoption process. We went to her Dr appts with her. We tried very hard to be there for her emotionally. I have always felt very conflicted over this situation. It felt wrong to be excited over having another child, even though I was. Elisabeth and my sister's baby would have been what used to be called "Irish twins." I have no idea why but they would have been only about 9 or 10 months apart. I thought it would be really cool for Lissa to have a sibling so close in age. Let's face it, if I could have 20 kids I probably would! (laughing) Well, maybe not 20, but I love children, I love parenting. I couldn't help being stoked about another child. We wanted to keep the adoption open as possible and have my sister be in the child's life in whatever ways she could or wanted to be. As excited as I was, I also felt I was walking this tightrope, trying to support the needs of my sister, and prepare for a new baby.

My sister has some significant mental health issues, and her life for a myriad of reasons is far from stable. She was very clear that she wanted more stability for this child than she was able to offer, even to the two children she still has at home. The agency that did our homestudy for our 2 previous adoptions agreed to update our homestudy and also to provide counselling to my sister and her two children. They are a fantastic agency and their counselling was phenomenal. They didn't judge. They didn't advocate adoption or any other choice. They were truly there in the most supportive way that anyone could be. Even when she lost the baby.

The meds that my sister took for her mental illness were apparently toxic to the child growing within her and the baby died early in the pregnancy. Unhelpfully, a doctor later told my sister this. Yup, that was news to share after the fact with a woman who had asked her doctor if her meds were safe for the child when she first found out she was pregnant

. But our homestudying agency was loving and helpful to her in the grief and loss that was felt by my sister and her children and helped her create a farewell ceremony that would give some level of closure to them. My sister named the baby Isabella.

The loss of the child made me feel even weirder. I felt a great sadness as well, but I also felt guilty for feeling sad. My sister had such a bigger reason for sadness. I focussed on trying to be there for her. And my mother was never happy about the pregnancy, my sister's suggestion that we adopt--pretty much the whole situation angered her so I couldn't talk with her about this.

Anyway, there is a point to this. Today, Isabella would have been 2. My sister called tonight while we were entertaining. K took the call and said she was very upset. I think that the fact that my niece just had her baby makes things even harder for her. I know I thought of the date instantly when I received the call about baby N. His birth was 3 weeks early incidently. I thought of Isabella with a pang, but also with worry for my sister.

I don't know what to do or what to say to help her. I am actually relieved that K happened to grab the phone when it rang. Kirsty is way better at having that right thing to say. I am really good at figuring out solutions, at having logical decisions carefully delineated. But figuring out what to say when faced with emotional pain is really really hard for me. I worry about saying the wrong thing, particularly in a case where I know my sister has real mental health issues.

I hope tonite some brainstorm hits and I'll wake up tomorrow knowing what to say and what to do.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Budding Opera Star?

This face? This is the tempestuous Lissa ready to launch into supersonic scream mode! Note the tell tale beetling of brows, the glare worthy of what has been described for basilisks in myths of yore. . . except basilisks could not shatter glass with their screams. Lissa, with a wee bit of practice, just might! Gotta love the 2's!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Relevent TV

Well, relevent to adoption issues anyway. There is no secret that I watch TV that is not really marketed to my demographic category. It isn't really that I care what age box I check off on surveys, it is just that I like really like shows that are geared toward teens and younger adults. I have always joked that I am just a little immature. My wife says I have a case of arrested development. Whatever.

One of my favorite shows is the new 90210. I think I mentioned this once before but it has been interesting to watch how they have handled some issues that are pertinent to adoptees and their families.

There is the teenaged son, a handsome young black man, who was adopted by white parents and has a white sister now. The brother and sister are close, but he shares concerns when they move about having to share the whole adoption story again when people don't understand their family. He yearns for connections with other black people and finds a way for that to happen. Most happily for me, a white parent of children of color, Dixon's character seems to learn to move confidently in both black and white realms. He isn't an "oreo." I work really hard to make sure that my kids won't be viewed that way either or to feel disconnected from their heritage.

There is a pregnant young teen. She feels she has to put her baby up for adoption because of her age and the lack of family support in her life. This week she interviewed a prospective family and it was a scene that made me cry. Her pain was so present, the eager excitement of the prospective adoptive family were also clearly evident. I wondered as I watched it, how my children's first mothers are. If they are happy, if they know how very much I love our children.

There was a powerful episode with a young girl's battle with mental illness as the main story line. She also happens to be the girlfriend of Dixon. Her increasingly erratic behavior and her need to control him once she decides she is in love with him drives him away from her. Faced with losing the first great love in her life, the mental health issue becomes a crisis and she spirals out of control. There was a lot of honesty in that episode. Dixon was angry with her and didn't want to be involved in trying to find her and help her. It didn't occur to him until things were nearly done that he knew what was wrong with his girlfriend. She wasn't on drugs the way all the adults thought. She had bipolar disorder and he remembered the signs from his first mother. He talked with his sister about what it had been like being with his first mother and her illness, and what made him realize what was happening to his girl friend. He realizes as he talks why he was angry and not the concerned loving boyfriend at first. I thought a lot about the first mother of one of my children who I suspect suffered from mental illness. I wonder what kind of supports might have helped her and allowed her to keep her family intact. And I know that I would not have a boy I love deeply had that happened. I also know it would have been the best option and should have been a priority. I know the impression of other family members is that this is not what happened and I suspect there is some truth in that.

There isn't really a huge point to this. Obviously those of us in the world of adoption are aware of these issues. Many, if not most of us, not only work on these issues, but educate ourselves, our families, and the people who are involved with our children's lives. I guess what I like about the show is that it plants a seed of thought in the context of watchable TV. In a society that gets its news from soundbites as a general rule, I think that is a helpful thing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Focus on the Positive

Rob is on the cusp of teen hood. And while I don't mind that per se, it sort of keeps reminding me that I have x number of years to "get it right." To somehow impart honesty and a work ethic in this boy that I love so much. I think that when you do older child adoption it is sort of like when I took those compressed high speed courses in college. You could take a semester once a week or cram it in triple speed over 4 wks in the summer. It was exhausting, getting all the info that quickly.

There is so much about Rob that is wonderful. He is sweet, funny, tender with younger children and good with animals. He also has so much to learn and I sometimes feel like there isn't time enough for him to learn what he needs.

Rob has a fascination with fire. Not a huge fascination but it is there. I know that part of that is a boy thing. Chet went through this too. I get that fire is mysterious, that controlling it is compelling and deeply primal. I am more than willing to help my kids make campfires. I actually was a girl scout and can do a one match fire. (yup, I know, bragging!)

I just feel a little freaked when I walk through the kitchen and smell that smell that only hangs in the air after a match has been lit. Or when I find a small packet of matches in his pants pocket when we check them to throw in the wash. (not snooping, don't want to dry another crayon folks!)

On the plus side, he pretty much fessed up on the packet of matches. At least to the where they came from part. A little fudging on how they ended up in his pocket. I told him he had to bring them back to church on Sunday and give them to his teacher and apologize for "accidently" bringing them home. On the lit match front, he didn't admit what he did. But, and this is a huge but for Robbie, he didn't deny it either. Up to now, he has done what they call on some adoption lists "crazy lying." Lying that has no hope of even being remotely plausible. One could hold all the evidence in your hand in front of him and he would still maintain his wildly improbable story. You could give him time to reconsider and he would respond by further embellishing the crazy story. So the lack of denial was a step forward. I didn't give a consequence for the match lighting. I just removed all the matches from the kitchen (sigh). And told him that dying in a fire is a really really crappy way to die. That was probably the mean and petty part. Some shrink will be able to blame me somewhere down the road for imprinting that particular neurosis on my son. Remember how I said I want my kids to find their own phobias? Well I do, except that even more than small places, the thought of being trapped by fire totally wigs me out. K has some past life theories about that (laugh) but all I know is while I enjoy controlled fire, I am a real control freak about it. I am a martinet about fire safety and hyper vigilent with kids around fire. I try to relax but I just can't. So part of me needs for him to get this sometime soon!

The other positive we had was tonight Rob neglected to shower. (something pre-teen boys should not neglect!) When we pointed out that he hadn't been in the bathroom long, he volunteered, yes VOLUNTEERED that he had not showered. Wahoo! When I told him we had just gotten an email inviting him to go to the skate rink and laser tag place with a female friend of his and a few of her other friends tomorrow he didn't balk a bit at returning to the bathroom for a shower. Small steps, it's all about the small steps!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Patriots Day Event

We were up bright and early this a.m. to go to my company's annual Patriots Day outing. We haven't been too many times. There is always a shortage of tickets to the ball game which is a part of the event. The Boston Marathon runs the same day and the company knows that many people like to come in and see that as well. But the big draw is always the ballgame; especially with the price of tickets to a ballgame nowadays. And truthfully, for a family of 6 (though only 5 of us went) this is the way I can afford to offer a major league game experience. If I buy the tickets, we watch farm teams. Still fun, but totally a different experience.
We park at a T station about 1/2 way between our home and the Big City. We got our weird subway card pass. Sigh. My age is showing. Tokens were sooooo much simpler! But nice transit people helped the rubes from the country get their pass and we got on our first train. It was a great ride. The kids loved it. We got to the station where we would switch to the next train. Alas! Havoc! Chaos! Mayhem! Well maybe not mayhem but how about gigunda crowds and trains so packed that dead sardines in a can had more room? K held Lissa in her arms. Lissa was seriously ticked because she wanted me to hold her. But truthfully KC also needed to be held and he weighs too much for K to hold. I was wishing I had brought the sling and then I could have done them both. Both littles were very anxious during that subway ride. It seemed to take forever but I know that was because we were all so uncomfortable. I couldn't even reach a bar to hold onto for balance. Literally we were held up by the wall of people. Have I ever mentioned I am claustrophobic? I am and try to hide this from my kids. I don't believe in sharing my fears and phobias; they have a lifetime to decide on their own. However the only way I could keep KC at all calm was to hum his favorite Bob Marley tune in his ear the whole train ride. Yup, the whole ride. Even for me, that was a bit too much Marley! :-)
Got to my corporate office at about 10 of 11 which meant we were going to be late for the game which started at 11:05. But we needed bathrooms and handwashing after the crush. There were brunchy things to grab a quick bite and of course, I had to get our tickets. We did all this and walked to the ball park. Our seats were great. Up real high but we could see amazingly well. Also there was a wall behind us so that we didn't have to worry about drunk guys spilling beer down our necks or chilly breezes from the back. The weather was not horrible. Not spectacular but we had a forecast of a rainout till a day ago so I am pleased we got what we did. Watery overcast sun with a chilly breeze. We dressed for it and even I with my Reynauds wasn't cold.
Got the kids a bit of food at the park. If you are careful, some things are a decent buy. Like a papa ginos personal pizza. $6.00 and all 3 kids shared it. Stack that against a diet coke. The diet coke that I lusted after and refused to buy at the park because it cost $4.50 Are they serious????? Come on people, we are in a recession! I had packed snacks that we could um, conceal on our persons as well. Little bags of goldfish, m and m's and drinks for the littles. The last time I was at the park they checked our bag for foodstuffs as they were contraband. Today, they didn't look. I could have had a whole dang picnic in that thar diaper bag and they couldn't have cared less!
The game was good. Rob's fave player hit an out of the park home run and there were numerous great plays. I am not a fan of the home team. Sadly I am a fan of their ultimate arch rival. But I still enjoy going to a ball game. There is a certain fun energy at a game, particulary when you aren't stuck sitting next to drunks or jerks. We were with people who were really nice. Some were people we knew from work; some just happened to be there and were nice.
The pictures show Lissa in her baseball gear, KC asleep (yes you read that correctly. . . I have the only child who has not once but twice fallen asleep at a very loud baseball game) and Robbie grinning for the camera. All the kids did real well. Lissa is a live wire and was up and down out of our arms, climbing on us and around us and enchanting everyone. People were equally enchanted with KC but he quickly became a sleeping lump curled up mostly in his chair but overlapping a bit into mine. I covered him with fleece and didn't hear from him for an hour.
Rob took lots of pictures (including the ones of his brother and sister) but I snapped the one of him. He loves to watch a ball game and though he is the quietest fan I have ever known, he did do the wave, and clapped and grinned from ear to ear.
We left the game before it was over, hoping to find an easier subway train ride back to our car. It was wise as Elisabeth was exhausted having not napped at all. Unlike KC she is one who has to sleep in her own bed ,in the same way that she is always put to bed. So if we are not home, she just stays awake. But the bottom line is that the cars were not crowded because neither the race or the game had completely finished and we were able to be back at our house just before supper time. All in all, a fun day.
The other thing that makes this event special to K and I is that 5 years ago when we went, we had only Chet and Robbie as our children. When we got home from the ball game there were 5 messages on our answering machine to call our adoption agency in Chicago. KC had been born prematurely (he was supposed to be a C section delivery the end of May) and we were needed in Chicago.
Chet had a quiet day at home while we were gone. He doesn't understand sports and while that in itself would not be a reason not to come, the fact that subways make him very ill, is. He gets migraines from the fumes and the flashing lights. So for health reasons, I think it best that he stay home.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday hair

I suspect that as Lissa gets older I'll have one day, or one evening when I "do" her hair in a fancier style that will last the week. At least, that is what I seem to read about. The reality for a toddler who thinks she is a cross between a defensive linebacker for the NE Patriots and a flower fairy with a bit of Cleopatra diva thrown in. . . it is more like 3 or 4 days on a style if I am lucky. I know too that I am fussy about her hair. I have seen AA kids with their hair looking less than fine. But it is OK in the AA community because they are in a black family. In the black communities eyes it is totally not okay if I have my little diva darlin' looking less than fine. It looks like I don't know squat about her hair, black hair (capital H). So anyway, I also know that having well kept hair is important to Lissa's self image and her image as it is reflected back to her from her cultural community.

Dang, a whole paragraph to yak on that and I haven't even gotten to what I wanted to talk about. Which was her hair style! I did twists last night because they look so cute and she has been begging to use the flower snaps again and they look sweet with twists. But today Miss Lissa woke with a proverbial bee in her bonnet or hair across her hiney and was a crabby apple princess. I think this was in part that she had to stay home with Kirsty today and couldn't come to church with her brothers. Whatever the reason, she made sure we paid and paid. . . and did I say PAID? All day long in a myriad of ways, not the least of which was yanking on the twists and getting some of her pretties out. Which she would then throw around the room and say "sow-wy Ooma" with a little tee hee at the end that let you know she was so not sorry!

Tomorrow we are going to my corporate office's Patriots Day event. We get to see the Red Sox play someone. Tampa Bay I think. I am a Yankees fan, but it is a great day for the kids. And I don't want to bring my daughter looking like the wreck of the hesperus. So tonite after supper I took the twists and took them out and did braids and beads. This is not impossible for her to destroy but it does take a bit of intensive work. Hopefully she won't have the energy to invest in that enterprise because I had her outside a couple of hours playing today. Unlike some of my online friends that are having snow flurries today, we could and did enjoy more moderate spring temps and played at the park and in our back yard.

So here is a picture of Lissa with her new do. Let's hope it lasts a day or two!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Birthday Pictures!

Snippets of a wiggly birthday! Note one of our 'wiggles' placemats drawn by yours truly! The banner was made by Kirsty. Rob helped blow up all the balloons--note the wiggly looking long balloons! And the cake. Mostly decorated and made by Kirsty, my only contribution was the Happy Birthday KC at the bottom as K can't really write with frosting!
It was a wonderful day and a very joy filled experience for our little newly minted 5 year old! He is a very tired fellow at the moment!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

On the cusp of 5

Picture on the left is KC nearly 2. Picture on the right is KC nearly 5! In all my kids I see such changes and such growth in so many various ways. But in KC, possibly because he was a preemie and so very tiny and so very helpless for so long, the changes seem so profound. I remember how he wasn't longer than from the tip of my fingers to my elbow when we brought him home. How he didn't even have eyebrows and could only barely drink 2 oz of formula at a feeding.
Now, he is such a strong and purposeful little sprite. Full of energy and questions and music and love.
With each of my children my life has changed dramatically. With Chet there were the changes that come from being a parent for the very first time. The realization that someone else counted on you, needed you in ways that a partner didn't. There were growing realizations about his disabilities, and how life long some of those needs would be. With Rob, I learned about healing from trauma. How true healing sometimes needs to happen slowly, quietly and with gentle purpose. With KC I learned that bodies may seem fragile but spirits can be strong. With Elisabeth I learned that having two children close in age is a delightful gift and watching a different sort of bond build than that of my other children has been a huge gift.
It may be KC's birthday tomorrow, but truly I am the one who has the best gifts.

Birthday Prep

It's nearly party time again in our family. Tomorrow, KC turns the big 0-5! LOL He is about inside out with excitement. He decided he wants a "wiggles" party. The wiggles for the uninitiated are 4 weird guys who sing a lot of kids songs. They must either have been paid extremely well or on drugs. They are also, KC's present fave. Unfortunately all the Wiggles stuff on the birthday websites has been discontinued. A park mom last night told me that is because the show is no longer on the air. Maybe the Wiggles are presently doing time for the aforementioned substance issue I posited? Maybe they are hiding on a deserted island somewhere so that toddlers and preschoolers stop following them like the Pied Pier screaming "Big Red Car!" I don't know. I do know I didn't want to disappoint KC though. I managed to find a pinata and party hats with the wiggles, a cake topper and thank you cards, but that was it. Zippo on decorations, plates and the other stuff that goes with kiddy partys. However I did find an activity book with many pics of the Wiggles in it. So every night I have been drawing Wiggles placemats and posters for the dining room. KC proofs them in the morning and while Picasso I am not, I pass the 4 nearly 5 year old art test. LOL

Today I will get bright primary colored construction paper to back the placemats with and primary colored streamers and plates and we will be set to decorate tomorrow. On the plus side, it makes this a very cost affordable birthday! We have a CD of Wiggles music from the library and KC has informed us we will be singing so I might try to find some kazoos or something silly like that. And tomorrow, as KC informed me this morning, it will be time for us to all get wiggly!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Losing Threads

Rob has a bio brother who we visited with in September. The social worker who brought D out to us called afterwards and we talked about how well the visit went. I enjoyed D. Rob seemed to enjoy the chance to reconnect, though there was the expected awkwardness as many years had passed since they saw one another. But they did connect and D enjoyed our family. The sw told me that he wanted to see us again. We were very open to seeing him again, perhaps even having visits where he could spend the weekend.

But alas, in the ways of children in care, life was not so simple and straightforward. The sw who i dealt with was one whose specific job was to locate family who had been separated through foster care or adoption issues. Because D is in foster care again, he had a different sw. Someone I don't know the name of. The family find social worker is out of the picture once the family in question is found. She said she would notify his "real" social worker (regular sw?) of the mutual interest in visits. That was September. I have heard nothing.

I know that some bio family were being considered as placement for D. He really wants to stay with the people he is with now. But family are considered an option first and foremost in the system. And the family find social worker said she knew that the bio family hates us. Actually hate was her word, i am not exaggerating. I said i knew that. That there were no doubt voodoo dolls in their houses with my name on them and pins stuck in them. LOL My guess is that if D got placed with family, we aren't going to see him again.

And I feel really badly about that. It would be good for Rob to have a bio connection. And I genuinely like the boy. We had a lot in common to talk about. He is amazingly mature for his age. But oddly, it was KC who brought the subject up this a.m. He wanted to know when we would see D again "because he really likes him." I have a picture of D and Rob on the fridge from the visit and I think he was looking at that.

It is sad that there are so many roadblocks to keeping the connection between kids who get separated due to issues in their first families. I jump through hoops to try and keep any connection with Fiona at all, but it is so hard. We are always the last to find out about any changes for her. There isn't much effort by staff or the workers in her life to keep in contact with us. She has been moved in the past--even hospitalized--and we haven't found out for weeks. I realize we are not legally in a position to be notified, but come on; I write to the child every week!

There is not really much of a point to this rambling. Just frustration. And sadness for relationships that may never develop.

Monday, April 13, 2009

KC's views

KC loves to borrow our camera and these are his shots from yesterday! I love looking at how he sees the world, and for 4 he takes pretty good pictures!
The picture at the top is the decoration on our dining room sideboard.

A basket of bunnies are in the dining room and our chandelier was festooned with eggs.

Robbie's tie dye egg art hung on the wall! There were more, but these were my favorite shots!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

We haven't had dinner but the rest of the holiday fun has happened! Last night, luckily, KC fell asleep early and we were able to easily hide the eggs with the kids clues to help them find their Easter basket. Or rather, K hid the eggs with clues and I made dum dum lollipops into flowers. (note to self: children do not really appreciate the ascethic beauty of spring blooms made from lollipops.) Further note to self: it was fun anyway! KC made a picture for the Easter Bunny before he fell asleep so the Easter Bunny, thoughtful rodent that he is, left him a thank you note. KC has this now on the headboard of his bed. Small things truly have great meaning to this child. If not the beauty of dum dum flowers! LOL

Everyone was up at 6:30 and the hunt commenced. Lissa did really well puzzling through her 3 picture clues to find her basket and bunny. KC has the drill down cold and did great. The older boys are old pros but a couple clues made them puzzle a while as well. (kudos to Kirsty clue writer for stumping them!!) While that took place the blueberry white chocolate scones were baking. Stop drooling, only children with a vast capacity for the sweet and gooey would like these things. Well, truthfully, I like a BITE of them,but only a bite. More than that truly just gaks me out. But they were engulfed in a sugary orgy and we then got ready for church. We have to be at church by 9 which really means being there about 8:45 as this gives time for everyone to hang coats and get settled. Parenting Chet taught me that he couldn't handle rush so we move along briskly and make sure he has time to settle after transitioning from car to church. Gives me time to review behavioral parameters as well. It doesn't hurt the other kids to parent them in the same fashion. They may not have the same developmental need but they do respond positively to it, so I don't sweat it.

We had time to take the above picture and about 5 others. In all of them some of the children are smiling and looking at the camera. In no picture are they ALL looking at the camera and smiling. This is a fact of taking pictures of large groups of children, in my experience. As long as none of them are bawling or dribbling body fluids in the shot, I typically consider any of them keepers. Lissa laughed and smiled after each shot was taken but refused to smile when they were taken.

Church was great. On this Sunday the kids stay in service for only part of the morning. Normally I am a big proponent on kids remaining in the sanctuary on occasion. I feel it teaches them the rhythm of a service and the way to handle a worshipful community. Also as we are Unitarian Universalists there is a bit more elasticity in the expectations of children at service. It is not considered rude or inappropriate that I bring crayons and paper for them, or that they cuddle up and nap if they are tired. However, on a sugary Easter rush, I found I don't mind a bit that they exit stage right part way through the service. By then, Elisabeth had escaped from Kirsty once and run down the entire length of the sanctuary bellowing "CHET" at the top of her lungs. When she got to him she gave him a huge hug. Thankfully it wasn't during the pastoral prayer or something! Our minister had told a wonderful childrens story on the origin of typical Easter symbols like the hare and the egg. These have pagan origins and as I am a UU pagan I was glad that he shared the story in his typical kid friendly story telling manner. At the end he asked the children what the hare's name might have become. KC put his hand up and proudly announced "Rocket!" Never missing a beat, "Rocket" was somehow incorporated into the morning.

Meanwhile Rob had whispered early in the service that he needed to use the bathroom. 20 minutes later and he wasn't back yet. KC was freaking out. I was reasonably sure he was finding something to occupy himself so that he didn't return to the sanctuary, but there was the possibility that he might have been ill or something. So when the kids were dismissed (the aforementioned stage right) to hunt for eggs, I left with them to find Robbie.

Not to worry, he was in the kitchen helping a friend frost cupcakes for fellowship. While I applauded his culinary leanings, I sent him to the sanctuary with a reminder that he is to check with K or I before deciding to do something differently. He actually seemed a little happy that we could have been worried about him; I noticed he actually smiled when I said I didn't know if he was puking copious quantities of Easter candy when he didn't come back to the pew. (and yes, saldy enough that is what I really said. I am the parent of 3 boys; I have nearly forgotten how to speak politely!)

So aside from dinner which hasn't happened yet, the day has been a success. I don't know what we will eat, but we will decorate the table with the little white chocolate and chow mein noodle birds nests the kids and I made yesterday and a cake will be dessert. Other than that, the menu is TBD.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More on Hair!

Motherissues asked about Lissa's hair regimen and some of the products we use. I purchase almost all her hair care conditioners etc from They have a children's part of the site called bareminerals I think but you can link to it right from there. The stuff is amazing! For Lissa I have the napturally sulphate free shampoo but I rarely use it. I typically just conditioner wash (sometimes referred to as "no poo washing" or "co-washing) Her head and hair never smell icky or seem to have any build up. About every 4 months or so, that is when I do the actual shampoo. The co-wash I just wet her hair as usual and gently work the kiwi coconut smoothie into her hair. It works great on her and a little goes a long way-perhaps because she is still young. (though she really has a great deal of hair now) When I style her hair I use a variety of things depending on what I am going to do and how long I hope it will stay in place. Perhaps because of her age, perhaps because of my relative inexperience, her styles typically don't last more than a week if I am truly lucky. Braids and beads will last that long. . . unless we spend a lot of time at the park! That is what did in her most recent hair do. there is a pre-braiding conditioner and of course the name escapes me, but I put this on every single section before I do braids or twists. Her hair still feels nice and soft when I take the braids out (which I did this a.m. before work so I can vouch for this) and has no sign of damage. When it is in braids or twists I have a revitalizing tonic from the same site and I lightly spray with that and then the conditioner/water mix and gently, oh so gently work into the twists or braids.

Beading is becoming a lot of fun. at a site called I found a beading tool. I think they also sell them at The beads slide on this gizmo, her hair goes through a slit in it and i slide the beads up the braid in a flash. If I was super organized I would fill 6 or 7 beaders ahead of time. . . i am not that organized. Also I am usually styling her hair when she is in the tub or just out of the tub. It is when she is least wiggly. Usually I braid or twist in the tub, but put the pretties in (Lissa's term) when she is out. She helps pick out her hair decorations and is beginning to try to thread the beads on the beader for me. (I give her a spare one to mess with while I work) I try to use elastics sparingly in her hair to avoid breakage so I don't use them at the base of her hair when I do twists though I have lots of friends who do. I often don't even use them at the end of twists and use a teeny barrette or snap there instead. After a couple of days they usually hold themselves in place really well.

I also have a shea butter conditioner that I use on her hair overnight sometimes and I use that on the boys as well. There is also a really smooth conditioner that the site sells which I use on KC's hair. Rob typically likes his shaved. He is not into hair care which is probably an age thing, but I am not going to have him walking around looking unkempt. People will assume that I don't know how to care for his hair or how to teach him to care for his hair. Neither is true. He is just a pre-teen going through that stage that all boys go through. Till he is out of it, it is shaved head by mutual agreement. And i have to say, that looks great on him anyway; he has a really well shaped head (that looks weird as I write it but it is true). By comparison, KC has sort of a lumpy head (that too looks weird as i write it) and a shaved head is not his best look--though sometimes he talks me into it because he likes to match Rob. LOL

Lissa hates headbands so free hair days are typically only 1/2 free with something done in the front like small twists or pony puffs, and the back conditioned and picked out free. Once I did all little bantu knots like a self headband across the front of her hair and left the back free. Her big brother Rob told me she looked like she had a skin disease and had big bumps. OK didn't do that style again! (although everyone else thought it was cute!) He also doesn't like the twist out style so I don't do that as often as I would like although I think it looks very cute. I just got some cute alligater clips with faux gems on the top of them and am going to see what I can come up with to incorporate those into a style for special occasions, such as church or a dinner out etc. She loves those giant balls that are on each end of a covered elastic so when I do her hair in a hurry it is often with the "ballies." The set we have are purple and yellow, and handpainted to raise money for an orphanage in Ethiopia. They are really pretty.

I have dreams of learning to cornrow and french braid. I can envision 2 fat french braids running around her head on either side. With the shape of her face it would look stunning. But I am going to have to find someone who will actually show me. Youtube isn't helping with that one; I think the angles are not quite right on the camera shots to help me. I have done flat twists once and do like those. I plan on doing more of those in the future as well. I'll have to try and take some better pictures when I do her styles; I am really bad about that!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hair Fun

You can't really see from the picture but there are all twists in Lissa's hair and they are held in place with these floral snap things. Sort of looks like a beltane priestess with her floral wreath. She and I have been having fun exploring hair styles. Most recently she had beaded braids but I forgot to take pictures before I started dismantling the style. I need to do something new for Easter, the braids were getting too fuzzy after days of play to look good for Easter Sunday.
I spend a lot of time on a list that is for adoptive parents learning to care for their black children's hair and skin. I troll Youtube whenever I have an odd minute looking at how black woman style their hair and their children's hair. It is important to me that Elisabeth's hair look good, that it be healthy and that it not look like a clueless white chick did her hair. One of my black friends said that for years her white step mom made her look like Minnie Mouse giving her two giant puffs on the top of her head. I know she has a deep loving bond with her step mom but I could tell that was not a happy memory.
Likewise I have spent considerable time researching products to use on her hair. Here I have found that ironically, the black community isn't always the best source of information. Traditional "greases" and the famous "pink lotion" are often recommended and they aren't really the best or healthiest alternatives for her hair. I have found some good products thanks to the list that I am on and to my obcessive research. K laughs about it. My Virgo nature is just analytical and I always find research reassuring and helpful. . . except when it comes to cornrows and french braids. Videos just aren't cutting it for me with those. I am going to have to find me a real live person to show me with their own two hands so that I can do that for Lissa!

Hey I saw some sun!

You know, I don't know sometimes why I look forward to April. That old adage about the showers? Well it was based in reality. I have been feeling seriously sun deprived. I am a sun person. Always have been. I hate clouds. I can hack a day or two. And I routinely take the kids on walks in the rain, play games in the rain etc so that they can burn off energy and enjoy all aspects of nature. But my soul, it wants S-U-N. Finally we got some today and we spent a long time at the park tonight as a result. A good couple of hours so I have very tired children. It is funny. All our park friendships seem to just pick up where they left off. The kids remember each other despite a winter (a long long winter) apart. Their respective parents reconnect and we just had a grand time.

While I had the kids out, Kirsty prepared the clues for our annual Easter egg hunt. We don't do well with kids racing pell mell through the house looking for their Easter basket. My eldest tends to spin in circles in one place repeating that he looked everywhere. My middle guy would bowl over anyone for a piece of candy. The littles would be bowling pins. It would not be pretty. It would take the happy , the hoppy , the joy out of Easter faster than my vacuum sucks up dust bunnies. So we do a clue hunt. A clue hunt for each child. Takes some time to do but it is so nice to sit calmly in the kitchen and sip tea while they find their Easter joy! We don't do a lot of candy either. I am taking dum dum lollipops and turning them into flowers. They will look cute and they are not something that the kids will eat a billion of. At least not at once. The littles are getting sand toys. Rob will get a CD of his favorite music and my eldest hair color so he can do a funky do to celebrate spring.

Dinner is not fancy, but kid friendly and usually involves some kind of bunny cake or egg shaped cake for dessert. If the weather is nice, we'll go for a walk or a short hike afterwards.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Art and Kids

OK so I am not all that artistic. I am relatively crafty and I have fun with art, but truly having an artistic bent? Uh uh, I mostly passed my art classes in school by sucking up to the art teacher and doing scut work to keep the art room clean.

However I figure art like music is a great way for kids to express themselves so our house has always been awash with paints, paper, pencils, crayons, oh the crayons! And pretty much whatever else you could slap on a piece of paper if you were feeling picasso like.

KC draws all the time. Literally. All. the. time. He goes no where without a pad of paper and some kind of drawing implement. He draws things to represent the groceries when we go shopping, practices writing sometimes, but draws the majority of the time. I didn't realize that his drawing abilities were above his age until yesterday.

I am going to be part of a teaching team at our UU church and the program has a huge art component. As part of the training they covered what kids typically draw at different ages. Curious, I read the section on 4 year olds and discovered that they usually draw heads with legs and arms coming out of them. KC did that when he was 3 but by the time he had turned 4 his people all ready had a blocky body and all the parts. In fact he tends to be very careful to draw details like eyelashes, eyebrows, fingers and toes. Recently, he has been careful that there are the correct number of fingers.

Kids his age apparently don't usually draw lots of things on a picture. They draw a big picture of themself as a walking head, with small bits and bobs around it. He does definately make himself large--unless he is drawing the rest of our family and then I notice he is careful to be more in scale. But he draws flowers, houses, big suns with happy faces on them.

So I guess he is ahead of a curve that I didn't even know existed! I wonder if the lack of "coloring books" in our house help contribute to that or if it is something unique to him?

Music and Memories

I love weekends in general but of late I have loved Sundays almost a bit more than Saturdays. They are the one weekend day when we are all together, first of all. Saturdays is my day with the kids while Kirsty is working. We always have a lot of fun and look forward to whatever silly things we have planned after the morning shopping and errands. Regardless of how many errands we need to do, we manage to have fun doing them and always have time for games or something enjoyable in the afternoon. But Sundays have a different tempo. Despite the fact that my kids are always early risers (Lissa seems programmed to waken at quarter to 6 each day and the others are not far behind) it is more relaxed. Maybe not what my friends would consider relaxed as I have friends who routinely sleep till 10 a.m. but relaxed for me!

Recently Kirsty has been able to begin attending church with us again and this too has made our Sundays special. While I was getting KC comfortable with separating from me in church, Kirsty opted to stay home with Elisabeth rather than bring her and try and keep her busy during a service, or having to stay with her in the nursery. I understand her thinking, though if our positions were reversed I would have brought her and kept her in the sanctuary with me. Anyway, that is what has been happening now that KC is comfortable not being joined to my hip. Most weeks he attends his church school class and he has come to love it. He is one of the very youngest children in the room as he is not yet 5 but for the most part he keeps up very well. This has allowed me to work with Lissa, bringing her into the sanctuary and she too has done well. I think Kirsty envisioned her being noisy or disruptive and she typically isn't. I bring crayons and paper and she colors quietly, lies with her head in my lap when she needs a break, and looks at the hymnals. I like bringing my kids to service. It is only an hour and I like the feeling of us all taking that hour out to be together. I like the fact that they grow up having some understanding of how to behave in similar situations. My doing that has emboldened Kirsty to believe that she too could come and sit in the service with us so this Sunday she did just that.

Partly she came because this week we had a guest musician, Joe Jencks. KC announced when he heard this that there was no way he was going to class. He had to hear Joe! He has heard him several times before, we have some of his CD's and we even found him on YouTube one day when KC was antsy and I was desperate for something that would keep him busy! LOL KC also told his mom that she had to come to church with us this week so she could see how amazing Joe is. To date, all she had experienced was the recorded music, never a live performance. With that emphatic endorsement, she opted wisely to come! Both KC and Lissa were with us the whole time. Ironically, because I have been bringing the kids to church, they both tended to leave K alone during the service. They did their usual cuddling in my lap, drawing quietly at my feet etc. Both little heads would pop up instantly though when the music started. Lissa is a bit braver than her brother and she would edge to the end of the pew so she could see better. KC would sit on me or very close to me but attentive throughout.

After the service, he got to meet Joe in person and shake his hand. It was so sweet to see as I have never seen a child more star struck. He was speechless (something he mostly isn't ever nowadays!) and his eyes were as big as saucers. It truly made KC's day though. When we got home the first thing he did was to take out his guitar and try and figure out for himself how Joe played a particular part of one of his songs. It involves sort of hitting the front of the guitar I think in between strummings--I dunno, I am totally musically inept but KC had noted what he did and is determined to replicate. I wonder if he'll figure it out?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Visiting Grampa

Yesterday we made the trek to Maine to visit with my mom's husband. All ready frail, at 95 I think this cancer will take him quickly. For his sake I hope so. I don't want pain in his passing. I know he has been done with living for a long time. He has had to be in a nursing home for more than a year now as he needs extensive help with daily living and it had become far more than my mother (getting on in years herself) could handle 24/7

The visit went very well. My eldest held it together which is always a worry. His autistic issues make social situations awkward and potentially challenging always. I wanted his last visit with Ken to be a good one for both of them and it was. I spent the week prepping Chet at odd moments of things he could remember to tell his grandfather--things grampa would enjoy hearing about. Chet took this to heart and did a stellar job. His grandfather was smiling broadly.

Talking is hard for Rob so other than hugs and hellos he offered to play with Elisabeth and I let him do this. We were in a large activity room which offered her room to move after the long car ride. Ken liked watching the attentive way that Rob plays with is little sister and this too offered him joy.

KC had made many gifts for his grampa. He is always making things and I usually mail them, but I had saved the last 4 and that way KC could tell Grampa all about them. Then, because he is my showman he climbed up on the activity room stage and danced for everyone. LOL My mom is a retired dance teacher and especially enjoyed watching his self taught tap dancing.

So it went well. There are good memories for all to carry forward into the future. That is a gift not just for my kids, but my mom who is facing the loss of her husband, and for Ken who we love very much.