Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Someone odd living at my house!

Two days ago I got the mail and found a "Country Living" magazine. I don't subscribe to CL. Not that it is a bad magazine; I actually like it. But magazine subscriptions in general are something I don't pay for. The only 2 exceptions are Family Fun and Ebony. I figure anything else we can read at the library, or ask for from family for gifts. (incidently we get Down East, Readers Digest and National Geographic as gifts to the adults. Various kids get 2 varieties of Highlights, SI for Kids and Ranger Rick) Magazine deprived we are not.

So I figured the mail person just put the magazine in the wrong mailbox on the street. Especially when I looked at the name. Juju Kaka. I kid you not. Except that Juju apparently lives at our house on our street, in our city as all the other info was correct. I read the magazine since it was sitting there and sort of chuckled at the name.

Yesterday the bill for Juju's magazine arrived. Juju apparently LOVES Country Living because they subscribed for two full years. I went on line to check things out. Juju had an invalid email called email@email.com CL let me cancel Juju's subscription but I don't think I will tell Juju's alter ego that right away when he returns from camp. I will let him sweat a little because the bill is waiting for him. It will be very hard to keep a straight face though.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I see a train and it is the. . .

potty train! Well okay so much for my attempts at humor. But seriously, Lissa seems to have decided to work on this. I am so often amazed by my children. They just know when they are ready for something. I try to be as child led as I can. I don't like screaming kids. I don't like stress. So if I can avoid some or both of those, it's all good to me. Which translates into the fact that we don't force potty training. KC started around 2.5 and regressed back when Lissa came home and then did it for real when he was a bit older than 3. Lissa just announced to us that she would use the toilet and did. Also, no kiddy potty for her. She is not amused by pint sized pots! Wants the real thing thank you very much and even used the toilet when we went to my mom's on Saturday. Today she wore training pants all day. No accidents. She is very proud . . . and so are we.

KC seems to have decided to take over as "big brother" while Rob is gone. He moved his stool to Robbie's part of the kitchen island and has fed the dog (Rob's job) ever since Rob went to camp. Without being asked, might I add. Did I mention my kids amaze me?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finding Dee

I think I wrote last September sometime about having a visit with Rob's bio brother Dee. He was adopted out of the sibling group before we ever met Rob, and lived with a paternal aunt. We only had one visit with him when a cousin from the other side of the family hosted him at her home for the weekend. Then they left the country and we did not hear from the family who adopted Dee again. Sadly he is again in the "system" through no fault of his own. We were contacted by a social worker last fall whose job was to help kids in foster care find family members that they have lost touch with through their multiple placements. We were very open to contact with Dee and wrote to him and sent pictures. Told the sw we were totally cool with visitation if transport could be arranged.

Dee is a really neat kid. He and I found a lot of common ground as he is a dancer. I come from a dance background and conversation was easier than I expected because of that common ground. We love the same dance show, we talked about who we were rooting for and why etc. The social worker agreed to bring him to our home for a visit. He lives a long way from us and I am so directionally impaired and so afraid to drive in a REALLY big city that this was necessary.

The visit went great. He and Rob were a bit awkward; it has been literally years since they saw each other. He enjoyed looking at Robbie's scrapbooks and catching up on what his brother has done via pictures and my captions. He liked KC and Elisabeth; the social worker liked me.

But she was not "the" social worker. As in the permanent person assigned to Dee. So once she had facilitated a visit and processed it with Dee (learning from him that he enjoyed himself and would like more contact) her job was to give this information to another person. That social worker was supposed to meet via phone or in person with both me and the foster family and work out a visitation plan. Which never happened.

I didn't know who to call. I am not even sure which DSS office has Dee's case. However, remember me joining Facebook? It occured to me the other night that i could maybe find him via Facebook! And I did. I sent him an email. I hope he writes back.

Rob's at camp

Yesterday we brought Rob up to camp and he will be there for a week. I know he was looking forward to it. And it is a place where I think he grows and spreads his wings a bit. That is something that at his core he is the most reluctant of all my kids to do. Whether it is a fear that loved ones won't be there when you falter, or just that teen boy fear of looking dorky, he is the least likely to challenge himself. This is a safe environment to do that and he seems to really thrive there. Some of the counselors are the same as last year and remembered him which made him a bit more at ease as we checked him in.

We had begun the day by visiting with my mom who lives in the same state. We had about a 2 hour visit with her but left right after lunch because she had plans to go to an art festival. Mom is funny. We regularly drive 2.5 hours to visit her, but our visits must never exceed 2 hours. I am used to it; and I truly do think it is funny. But the gap from leaving her to the time we were allowed to check Rob in was fairly substantial--2 hours.

The good thing is that this camp/conferance center is a place we are all familiar with. Our church camps there for a weekend every September. Chet went to conferences with K and I when we used to run religious ed programs in our former church. So we hung out there, playing on the playground, KC and Rob shooting hoops, and then I took KC and Lissa down to the beach to play.

Kirsty is not a lover of sand. She likes to swim but hates sand. I grew up summering at a lake. We swam constantly in the lake, boated on the marsh and were sandy from dawn to dusk. Just part of summer for me. I also lifeguarded for a large part of my teen years and don't feel uncomfortable watching my kids in water. I think K does feel a bit more anxious when they are around the water. I am watchful but not anxious. So we left her to nap in the van and went and had fun.

I hadn't bothered with swim suits as the weather has been so weird I figured it would probably rain. It didn't while we were there though (saved a gigantic 90 minute thunderstorm for when we got home!) and we had so much fun. We ran on the beach and the tide was coming in and we would run down and let it chase us up the beach. KC is just a water bug and has been from the very first time he ever went to the beach. He just stood there with his arms spread wide and this huge grin splitting his face letting the water "catch him." From then it was but a hop skip and a jump to HIM chasing the waves and eventually becoming totally drenched by falling in face first. He wasn't frightened, just wet, and I was right beside him and pulled him up immediately. Lissa dipped her toes in and liked the sensation of wet sand under foot. However eventually the vastness of the ocean overwhelmed her and I just carried her. I love the way she cuddles in my arms now. She likes to link her arms around my neck. We watched gulls and then headed back to change clothes and dry off. While I had not packed bathing suits I always pack an extra change of clothes for the kids whenever we day trip. I have learned you just never know!

Best of all, the little kids had a good leave taking this year. Last year KC cried the first 30 minutes of the 2.5 hour drive home. This year he did run back for an extra hug from Rob and his lip was quivering as he said "I will miss you SO much Robbie," but he didn't cry. I think perhaps the fact that Lissa is older and more able to play with him is making that transition easier this time around.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The gap toothed grin!

KC, age 5, so very proud of losing
his first tooth.

mud and miscommunication

Yesterday Kirsty decided to drive up to the community garden and check our garden plot. She took the van, loaded with 3 of the 4 kids and a bunch of work she had picked up from the factory for our home business. And drove out into the field. There is an access road in said field, but we have had 23 or 24 days of rain, as readers of my blog have put up with me whining about. Said rain caused the car to become well and truly stuck in the mud. And said mud caused her to slide the van across a fence causing significant body damage. There is a dent, it isn't just a light scratch someone can buff out. Sigh.

I do give her credit for keeping the troops calm and making the 4 mile walk home for them enjoyable. FYI, KC walked 3 of the 4 miles so when I tell you my kids have boundless energy, you know i am not exaggerating! LOL Luckily we have an umbrella stroller in the car at all times, so Lissa could ride.

K called me at work and told me the car was stuck there. I was seriously angry. We are trying to save up for a new pellet stove to replace the one that died this past winter. It is something we really need. Car repairs will significantly impact that savings effort. Also, I am used to people looking to me for a solution. My whole life everyone has always looked to me for answers and solutions. My mom has done that since I was nine, when my grandmother died. My sister and K's sister still do it as well. I freely confess that I had no idea that Kirsty was scared. I figured she would be as angry with herself as I was with her. Scared didn't enter into the equation for me. Can you sort of see where this is going? Massive miscommunication. I was not kind, nurturing and loving. I asked why she hadn't called Triple A instead of me. I was stuck at work, with a car too small to fit everyone in anyway. Let's just leave it that things didn't go well! :-)

Calling Triple A didn't help. If you don't break down within 100 yards of the road, they can't help you. I guess not to many people choose to mire themselves in the middle of a field! Also the adjacent orchard started spraying and we couldn't be in the area anyway till after 5:30 when they finished. The farm and orchard folk were kind enough to tell Kirsty that they would send someone with a tractor to haul her out after the spraying was done. Kind but sort of scary to me. Dodge Caravans are known for wonky transmissions and the last thing we need to do is to have to replace said tranny. But there was not much to do but wait.

I got home from work at 4 and we had supper. The kids wanted to go to the park and enjoy our first sunny day and we had to explain that we couldn't because we had to wait for the call to go to get the van. KC sagely pronounced that Mom should not have done this. Um yeah, but I dutifully explained that Mom hadn't done this on purpose. It was a mistake, like what happens sometimes with everyone. And that maybe we would get to the park after we got the car.

Except we never did because the tractor guy never called. We drove up out of desperation at quarter to 7 and K discovered that the mud had dried enough for her to drive the van out. When I saw the side I wanted to cry. Body work doesn't come cheaply.

I feel badly that my response let down my beloved. It wasn't my intent, but it is what happened. I need to try and remember to check in with her emotions first before I say anything after a big event has happened. It isn't that I am not emotional but definately not in the same way that she is. We are so in synch in so very many ways that it is always jarring when something crops up, even after all these years, that shows --I don't know? An area to bridge? A piece of our life to work on? Perhaps more than anything it shows the differences of our upbringings. And I guess to make this adoption related, I should use this to understand why even after all these years, there are still these odd things that crop up with Robbie. Learned behaviors are very hard to unlearn.

KC lost his first tooth!

Well technically he had an abcessed molar yanked when he was 2, but this is a normal lost tooth. He has been wiggling it for days and yesterday he pulled it out. I have got to get a picture of the gap toothed smile; it is priceless! The "tooth fairy" visited last night and left him a dollar; he feels very wealthy at the moment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thinking about being connected

I am looking out the window and noticing that it is still raining and planning what kind of thing the kids and I can do tonight. And I was also thinking about how weird I think it is that people don't concentrate on walking and being present at their walk nowadays. Leastwise, in my neck of the woods. Everyone is either on a cell phone or texting, those thumbs going a mile a minute. All the time they are walking. Their feet are moving. But they can't really be seeing anything. And that is so sad. Also from a personal safety standpoint, I confess it sort of creeps me out. Years of martial arts training ingrained in me that the best safety of all is awareness of your surroundings.

I love how blogs and email can help me be connected with friends far and near. But I never want to be disconnected from the world in which I walk. Or the kids I walk with. I see parents on a cell pushing a stroller, or holding a kiddo's hand. I like thinking up games to keep my crew interested. We have scavenger hunts for things of a certain color, or guess how many cars are going to go past on a street, or see who sees the first squirrel. Couldn't do that if I was talking on a cell phone. We admire gardens and get landscaping ideas. Couldn't do that if I was texting. Now I know that I don't own a cell phone, but the point is, if I did, I would only use it for an emergency. Not to entertain me while I was walking.

Evening Walk

Last night the kids were not enthused about a visit to the park but were bouncing off the walls with energy. When we are sitting at the dinner table and everyone is jiggling and jiving, we need to do some serious energy burning! LOL Rob has a dx of ADHD but I actually firmly believe that all kids need lots of opportunities to burn energy during the day. Usually there is a lot of free time out of doors at our house. We have squirt toys and a swing set a sandbox and stuff they can use to create whatever their little imaginations come up with. But right now, the back yard is pretty much floating so they can't play there.

So I decided that we would take a long walk. We walked about 2 miles. The thing that cracked me up was that Rob and KC ran almost all the way. Talk about being right about pent up energies! I had brought the double stroller so that Lissa could ride and KC could rest if he wanted to. He would sit for short bits here and there or when I insisted due to traffic concerns, but mostly, he ran.

We stopped on a bridge and tossed sticks and rocks into the swift moving water below. We admired a cardinal that flew over our heads. We hung out at the fringes of the high schools parking lot picking wildflowers. We stopped at the garden center to admire their ducks and donkeys. It rained the last part of the walk but not really hard (like it is now). More like what the Irish call a "soft day." Which sounds better and more romantic to me than "for crying out loud MORE RAIN????" LOL

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hard data on rain

OK at least I know I am snivelling about the weather for good reason. Scientists who actually monitor temps and amount of sunlight have verified that my part of the country is having the second wettest June ever. The big prize winner was back in 1903 if you care! And one of the coolest June's ever, the top year for that was back in 1885. So we are miserable for a good reason! Ironically, weather gurus want the pattern to continue so that they can have a record breaking month. I would be totally happy not to win that title!

Complaining about rain again!

Skip this post if you live where it is sunny. Where it is warm. Both of which it normally is in my part of the country at this time of year. Only this June has had more below average temps than many others and far fewer days of sun. Like maybe 4 days of sun with no rain at all any time in the day. It poured again yesterday. Pounding rain with gusty winds. Not fun. It is cloudy though not raining now. Sigh. I am grateful that our bright yellow stella d'oro lillies are blooming. We have a good sized stand in the back yard that are not blooming yet but the ones K transplanted to our front garden are in bloom. They must like exhaust fumes from the street cause it sure isn't the sun! I also splurged and bought a bright yellow hibisicis plant and it is in a lovely blue earthen pot by our front door. I have had the pot for a long time and have never found the right plant for it. I tried begonias and they looked OK but not what I wanted. The hibiscis is gorgeous. I smile every day as I walk past it----even when it is raining.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ooma's Day

Mothers Day is Kirsty's special day. There is always another day that is "Ooma's day," so that I get a chance to be pampered, honored and such. When Chet was little, he always wanted this on Fathers Day. I think he felt good about having a card to make for a parent when he was in public school. They would always make Fathers Day cards in art class in the early years and I think just making the card and having a parent to make it for, was important to him. So for many years, that was "my day" and I was cool with that.

Then we adopted Rob and it wasn't OK with Rob. He was very clear that I wasn't a dad and this felt weird to him. I am also OK with that. I am not trying to be Dad to anyone. However I didn't want to try and celebrate it on Mothers Day--neither K or I would get that chance to kick back and feel special if that happened. So we made "Ooma's day" on a different day and it sort of floated around, usually the week after Fathers Day or there abouts. And that was fine for a few years.

This year, everyone surprised me with Ooma's Day being back on Fathers Day. I was even more surprised when K told me that it was primarily Rob who was driving that. I think perhaps it was because he leaves for camp next Saturday and then comes back the 4th of July so it would be a loooooong time before we had a weekend free to have any time to honor Ooma. But whatever the reason, I am glad he cared. I am glad that the named day of a holiday is less significant to him than joyfully celebrating the love we have as a family.

And it was a fun day. KC of course was inside out. He continually amazes me because he is always the first one to say "happy birthday" or in this case, "happy Ooma's day" when he wakens. All my other kids have to be reminded. Then it is like the switch clicks and they go "oh yeah! " and they are all about the celebration.

So he greeted me first thing, then I asked if I was supposed to go downstairs or not. It was nearly 7 and I am usually up by 6:15 so I was pretty hungry. No, he told me. It was a surprise, kind of like what we do for mom and he would go and check. So off he went. (all other kids still in bed at this point!!!) Next thing I knew, he was back with a bouquet of flowers from our garden and K was right behind him with fresh muffins and tea. All of which I could eat while she breakfasted the rest of the troops. Such decadence! Such luxury! Usually I choke down a piece of toast in record time so that I can run and email my mom before getting breakfast for the hordes.

After breakfast, they had cards for me and a gift card to Payless Shoes. I am a shoe addict! I adore shoes. I also have the most ordinary feet in the world. Size 7 1/2 B I have the "industry standard" for shoes. And all the years of dancing turned my feet into iron and I can wear virtually anything. So now I have a gift card that will allow me to support my addiction. Oh and soap! KC made me soap. I love the soaps he makes. They are from some kit he and K found and they are sooooo pretty. And the soap is glycerine based I think so it is super soft on your skin. I feel very loved.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


OK I am kind of slow to warm up to new technology. Remember I am the person who can't turn on my own TV's without the aid of small children! LOL Sad but true. It won't be hard for me to live off grid when the kiddos are grown! (another dream on the to do list of life!) But I decided I should join Facebook. The kids former music teacher has a facebook account and I would love to be able to show them pics of his life in China.Since he has 83 pics up of life in the US I am sure there will be plenty of China. But I have never done anything like this. It took me YEARS to warm up to the idea of blogging. I am a lot more private than I realized when I started this. I remember literally feeling shocked that anyone else was reading what i was writing. And it wasn't that I thought it was a bad thing. It just felt weird. I always have written a lot. Journals, poetry, etc. But I was never published so that feeling of someone else reading one's work was very new and surreal.

OK if you think THAT felt funny, imagine how I felt when I signed up for Facebook and all these people send friend invites. Understand my account has literally nothing yet. It is essentially "naked." But I had a bunch of invites from people I know (including the music teacher) and it was so wild to me that I would open my email box and they would be there. The world is such a big place and yet somehow our technology makes it a small place too. I guess now that the shock has worn off, I think that is pretty cool.

Now I have to figure out how to use Facebook!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Last Saturday without my wife . . .

at least until after labor day! Yahoo! I enjoy my day with the kids, just them and I, but I miss her too. And from Memorial Day on her shift has been from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. From Labor Day to Memorial Day it is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and that 2 hr difference is all the difference in the world. She gets time with the kiddos before they are in bed, we get time to chat and catch up. So I am stoked that this is the last day.

Our day was fun and busy here. Our sunny start to the day gave way to clouds and of course, spits of rain. Truly I was transported to Seattle while I was sleeping. Ick! We went and did our banking, our shopping and then to the garden store to get flowers for Kirsty's garden. This was Rob's mothers day gift to her which was deferred till he finished his coming of age program. He finished that but we have had such rainy weekends he couldn't plant. Today, though overcast most of the day, was clear enough to get the plants in. KC and I helped him plant. You should see my kids at a garden store. They go ape for plants. Then they all seem to love the digging in the dirt and getting the little plants in their new homes. This small shade garden is outside the window of our workroom and she sits right beside it. There are 4 or 5 perennials there that we have planted for her over the years. Hostas, bleeding heart, and a few other shade loving things. We ringed it all with bright pink impatiens, and added a few clumps of begonias for color as well.

Then we made lemon dream pie to have for dessert with supper tonite and I did the housework. After supper we played soccer in the back yard --this is Johnson Erikson soccer and doesn't in any way resemble what the rest of the known world calls soccer! Finished it up with some muddy play in the sand box so there have been early tubs and snacks and the house is settling down a bit now.

Next Saturday Robbie leaves for a week of away camp. The house is always so oddly silent when he is not here. This is odd because Rob is my quietest child and yet the hole of his absence is always profoundly loud to me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rainy Day off

At this point I feel like I am transported to some weird planet where the sun shines but rarely. It is June 19th. Last night it was something like 52 degrees here. When we were driving this a.m. we noticed green houses had covered their geraniums. This part of the NE is usually mid 70's this time of year. And in case you wondered, usually the sun shines pretty regularly. I have gotten so sun deprived that I celebrate when it comes out for 15 or 20 minutes.

Anyone else ever read Ray Bradbury? He wrote a short story about a planet where only one day every certain number of years would the sun shine. And a girl gets locked in the closet by her brothers that day and can't get out to play in the sun. I feel like that girl. Where is the dang sun? It has been warmer in Winnapeg Canada than it is in my part of the state. This is not normal folks.

And so I woke to more rain this a.m. and a forecast of predominantly rain for the next 5 days. I have decided I will not watch the weather any longer. It is too depressive. And it might inspire me to drive across the country and take out my vengeance on some part of the country that has hogged all the sun due to this crazy weather pattern!

On the positive side, we had a nice brunch at Friendlys. There is this one particular Friendlys that K and the kids usually visit on Tuesdays after one of the music classes. They are "regulars" there and I have been told by all of them how wonderful the food is. Wonderful is not an adjective that readily springs to mind when I think Friendlys but I have to say, they are right.

I had an omelet that was one of those that was not over cooked, not undercooked and totally delish. (funny side note is that I didn't need a menu; the kids had all ready informed me as to all the options I had available to me) Their usual waitress was filling in for an absent asst mgr but came over to greet us and made sure to see the kids before we left as well. They are all obviously very fond of one another; the kids had hugs for her, she had balloons for them, it was cool.

At home, due to the rain I felt sluggish. I still feel that way. I can go full speed for hours and hours when the sun is shining. In the rain, I feel like a nap every 20 minutes. One does not nap with 4 children! One drinks tea. One drinks coffee.

The boys and i played a cool word card game called Quiddler that Kirsty got the last time she and my mom went to their favorite toy store. It is a good game for an early reader like KC. He partnered with me and we could work on letter sounds. He is a bit weak in that area, primarily because he has amassed such a number of sight words that he has memorized that he has not had to sound out as much as he might otherwise. It is a skill that will help him progress though and it is a lot of fun to play the game to boot.

We went to Barnes and Noble this afternoon too. This is a field trip event to my family. We sit and read books. We play with the toys there. Eventually we buy an obscene amount of books, and then stop by the cafe to buy a snack to eat at home. I can't go there often. I have no moderation and very little inclination to develop moderation about books. I have loved reading ever since I can remember and even though I have very little time to read "big people" books at this point in my life, I love sharing my literary loves with my children. Rob got the last book in the Pendragon series he has been reading. It is an enormous book. Should keep him busy 3 or 4 days! I got Lissa a cute book that will help me work with her on colors. Everything is yellow lately. I am trying to expand her color awareness. KC wanted another school book! LOL I told him not till we finish the one we presently have. He settled for a seseme street art sticker book and having me read a number of books to him while we were there. I got Chet a Star Trek book. He loves them and is a member of the paper back swap club on line so he can hopefully trade it in for something else when he is done. I also got hte gift card for my FIL which is why I went there in the first place. He may be facing shoulder surgery in the coming months, but he too loves books and will I am sure find a way to turn the pages.

So despite the rain the day has been good. And it looks like we may have a small window of brief clearing after supper which will allow us to head to the park.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tomorrow is the last session of a local music class that KC and Lissa go to.

The classes will resume in the fall but with a new teacher as their beloved teacher has fallen in love and is moving across the world to China to be with his fiancee. He expects to live in China for the next 3 or 4 years until paperwork can be completed to allow her to come to the U.S.

The kids are devastated. They absolutely adore this fellow, who is an amazing teacher and has a great positive energy just radiating from him. I wish him well in his new life journey. I think it is exciting and fascinating. I wanted to travel a lot when I was a young childless person. Kirsty had zero interest in it, having travelled due to her dad's air force career as a child. She wanted roots, I wanted to try my wings. But I wanted the life we have together more, enough to put that on hold, maybe only for a while, maybe for this lifetime. I don't regret it a bit.

I have always been fascinated by the Orient and China specifically though. One of my favorite experiences as a teen was seeing the terra cotta army at a museum. I hope he sends a lot of emails about the things he sees and does there! In one of those "6 degrees" type of situations, this man's father is someone I see often through my job, so I will probably be in a good position to hear some stories of his experiences in China.

We decided to make a farewell card. I went on the Internet and found Chinese writing that spelled, "good bye," good luck" and his name. We took red construction paper (red being a color of good luck in China) and pictures of the kids. I was carefully cutting out the kanji to glue on the front of the card. KC and Lissa started looking at them and by the time they got glued to the front of the card, I no longer knew if they were right side up or not! We wrote the English "translation" next to each set of Chinese writing just in case our efforts had indeed rendered them gibberish. At any rate, it will I think let him know how he touched our children's lives, and help them say good bye to a friend.

Short work week

I can take Friday off this week! This is so exciting. Work has been stressful lately. Not horrible, just stressful. We have a lot of inspections in this type of housing and we finished another one in June and are gearing up for another in mid July. It isn't that we ever do badly, it is just that we all know how important they are and it weighs on everyone's minds. And my boss has not been feeling well and has been doing an excellent impression of a a hungry grizzly bear, snapping (well actually yelling) at people over almost everything. Ugh.

But I have oodles of vaca time and I was granted Friday off. Yahoo! The kids are excited. KC has all ready said we have to have a tea party. (he is into making decorations and sugar cookies) Kirsty is excited because she doesn't have to bring all the kids with her when she goes to get her hair done. . . it is all good.

And today the sun was actually shining when I got up at 5:45. Truly that is huge! The sun has not been shining in the a.m. in about 2 wks!!!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back

Feels like that is perhaps the most accurate description of raising Robbie. Lately maybe it is 3 steps back? But I do see positives, and I keep those in the forefront of my mind. But the lying, and the taking things, that has been stronger lately.

Yesterday I went up to his bedroom with the intent of changing his closets. Somehow his was the only one not fully done and I thought since I had a migraine, it was a mindless task for a rainy Sunday. En route to the closet I spotted a pair of ear buds hanging out from behind the bed. Odd, as we have a no toys in the bedroom rule. I move the bed and a veritable horde of stuff was there. Much of it was useless trash, magazines, inserts, etc. Stuffing from something he had taken apart. Batteries were under his pillow. I was checking under the pillow pretty regularly for a while and just tried to ease that back. I don't like feeling like the police when I put him to bed at night.

I cleaned up that mess and in my own clumsiness knocked a shelf in the closet as I back up. More debris cascaded down on me but a lot of this stuff was stuff that belonged to others. Last month Kirsty needed new checks for her check book. She couldn't find them. We both spent a lot of time looking everywhere for them. She doesn't write a lot of checks so that pack would easily last 4 months. We finally decided she must have accidently used them out of order and rush ordered a new set. But mean while she had to make two extra trips to the bank to withdraw money to make payments in cash and of course we paid extra for the fast delivery. Guess what was one of the things that fell out on me? Yup, the checks. he didn't do anything with them, but he took them and horded them. He even knew we were looking for them and never snuck them back--though I don't know if he even remembers what he takes or if it is more of a mindless compulsion. . .

I cleaned out the closet, and told Rob that from now on, only clothes and jewelry and the baby blanket that came from his birth family would be allowed in his room. We packed his knick nacks and momentos up together carefully and have stored them in the attic. this way I can see more readily if he has other people's belongings hidden in with his own. Whoever said it was best to hide something in plain sight had the right of it. At least where a young teen is concerned as the general environs are usually so messy that it is hard to distinguish one person's things from another without a lot of going through.

From there I moved onto the actual clothing change and he helped me with this as well. I reached under his dresser to throw out the cleats he wore last year for baseball. His young man's feet have grown and these will never fit him. They made an odd clunk as I tossed them in the trash and thankfully I heard it. I took them out and he had secreted a watch in the toe of the sneaker. It belonged to Kirsty's mom and was inscribed on the back. K's mom died 13 yrs ago; the momento while not looked at daily would surely be missed had it been consigned to the trash.

Rob wrote a letter of apology for the stealing, though even in this he had rather crazy justifications. Things are always "found on the floor" in his line of reasoning and he always is "keeping them safe" I do believe that in his first life maybe things had to be hidden to be kept safe. But I need to find a way to help him see that this is not a wise and healthful tool for the rest of his life.

Star Burst/cloud burst!

Saturday was indeed a busy day. Lynned came out to visit and we had a good time together. It is funny; she and I have a great relationship. In some ways better than she and her sister K who have all this emotional baggage between them. It becomes so little kid snarking at one another when they are together. I think maybe Lynne wishes she was more like K and this is the source of the relentless picking at her that she does. But whatever. She and I don't have that history so we just have fun. And things that bug K don't necessarily bug me. Like Lynne watches waaaaaay more TV than we do in our house. And she watches what I call the "way back machine." TV shows from when she was a child. (think Chips, Marcus Welby, 8 is enough) She sometimes gets into a rut where she starts quoting from these shows to you. I sort of ignore it. If it starts to bug me I have this really dumb look totally perfected. Let my jaw gap slightly stare a moment without speaking, finally say "huh?. . . . (long pause). . . OH! you mean some TV show?" Tends to stop it! Also it isn't hard for me to perfect the look since I usually genuinely have no clue.

We did all our errands with the kids, stopped by work to see K briefly as usual and came home and unloaded and I made one and all lunch. Then KC wanted to show her his scrapbook so she spent time looking at that and then it was time for her to hit the road.

I spent the rest of the afternoon packing for the starburst festival we were walking to. I packed rain gear as it was a possibility of showers. I packed a blanket to feast on. I packed bubble toys, football, frisbee and badminton to keep children happy. I packed enough food for an army. I made 2 quarts of lemonade and packed that. With the exception of all the toys which I put in a back pack, I fit EVERYTHING in the two baskets underneath our double stroller.

KC was beside himself with excitment. He awoke actually at 5 a.m. too excited to sleep with the double dose of fun that day---Auntie Lynne AND starburst! LOL I had to keep finding jobs for him to do while i packed so that the time would pass more easily for him. Finally, at 4 p.m. we were ready to set off. KC alternately rode with Lissa and walked till we got to the busy area. There is one short section where there is no sidewalk and extreme caution must be used. I made him ride all during that but then once we hit sidewalks again he was off and running. We found a nice picnic spot up by some big old pine trees that ring the local football field where the festival is held. We set up camp and the kids began eating as though they had not seen food in years. LOL Then we played and played. We didn't walk around all that much as it is hard to push the double stroller on uneven terrain and through the large crowds. Chet stood near us but not with us, a weird compromise that gave him a feeling of quasi independence. Some teens were part of a diversity scavenger hunt. They had to get pictures of themselves with people of many different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Chet had his pic snapped a bunch of times because he is Asian Indian and he totally adored this 15 minutes of fame!

KC was excited because he saw his Spirit Play teacher working the concession stand. He waved like crazy to her; it was too funny. This was the first year Lissa really had much of a clue as to what was going on. Last year she was on me in the sling and didn't really have a grasp of much of anything. She so wanted the little boy on the next blanket to play football with her, but at 5 he thought himself way too cool to play with a 2 year old! LOLl

Finally about 7 p.m. the exhaustion of his day hit KC like a ton of bricks. He said he was tired and I dropped one side of the stroller. He lay down, I covered him up and he fell asleep. He didn't waken when the police on ATV's rode past, when kids ran by, when this boys sleeps, he SLEEPS!
Meanwhile, Lissa and Rob are running around and Chet is still getting his picture snapped.

About 8 p.m. the skies open up. We are not talking drizzle. We are talking serious down pour. I have KC covered in a rain coat but his legs still get wet. Ditto with Lissa. Rob refuses to keep his rain coat on. apparently rain coats are not cool when you are 13. However I personally don't find getting wet and chilled "cool" either so I was not amused. The rain lasts about 20 minutes. I decide along with a horde of other folks that I am not going to wait it out.

I explain to the older boys that we are walking home. Now THEY are not amused. But there is a starburst festival every year and I remind them that we go every year. Grudgingly they help pack and we join the throng who are not hearty enough to wait till 9:30 in the cold and damp.

We get home about 9 and shortly thereafter here a very short volley of fireworks. My guess is that they did a very abbreviated display becuase charges may have been getting moist. I still wasn't sorry we left early.

Despite it all, it was fun in a crazy zany way that maybe you can only understand if you are a member of my crazy zany household. And I figure i got a heck of a work out. It is about a mile and a half each way and I had to be pushing about 70 or 75 pounds of children and gear in the stroller!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Let the sun shine!

OK I so know that i could never live in Seattle. Or the rain forest. OTOH I could probably live happily in AZ where they have something like 355 sunny days. I need sun. Deep down totally need it. Without it my normally cheerful demeanor begins to wilt To mold. I gradually turn into a nasty person even I don't want to be around. And since I can't not be around myself, I consider that a real problem.

It has rained and been cloudy since last Sunday. I am so done with this. I have been trying so hard to make the best of it. Despite the yucky weather (and it has also been unseasonably cold as well) I have taken the kids out to play every night but one. (that night was pouring) It has served to tire them out, but I notice that they are not their normal happy little selves really. I think they are feeling wilty from lack of sun as well.

Tonight we went to a friends house for a much anticipated play date. These are friends we made at the park and they recently moved into a lovely new home. We have been trying to get together at their new home to play but a myriad of issues prevented it till tonight. The kids had fun, the house is lovely, but it was exhausting. Being in someone else's home with 3 kids and a house that is not baby proofed the same way mine is, stresses me out. Everyone's 2 year old is different. I know the 2 year old we were playing with who lives there is not nearly the dare devil that my Lissa is. The fact that there was free access to 2 stories of stairs gave me the willies. Hardwood stairs. The pool is unfenced at present, though that is going to change soon. It is covered with a cover that is supposed to be child proof. Do you really think I trust that? I'd like to but the reality is I was a life guard all through high school. I know how easy it is for someone to drown. And due to all our rain there was 3 inches of water ON TOP of the supposedly child proof cover. That, my friends, is deep enough to drown.

Then of course, getting the kids to leave was a challenge. Lissa did her ear shattering scream all the way home. She was over tired and over stimulated. I all ready had my monthly migraine. She sent it into the stratosphere. But in all reality it was not her fault. We were much later coming home than when we simply go to the park. And our park visit has a routine that is rarely altered much. A certain way we walk there, certain toys we bring, a certain song we sing when we leave and come home, a snack time . . . what can I say my kids like routine. I am glad we went, it was fun in its way, but I was even more glad to get home and get them bathed and a bed.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. Kirsty's sister is spending the day and in the evening I am taking all the kids to a concert and fireworks. I am a glutton for punishment.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dealing with Disappointments

One of the things I have noticed about my kids is that depending on their prior life experiences and/or their disabilities is the way they handle disappointments. Or don't handle them. I always do my absolute level best to make sure anything I say will happen, does. It is important that they know my word can be trusted, that I am someone who will follow through. However obviously I don't control the weather, our extended family (though I have put the fear of whatever power one believes into them about promising and not coming through!) or friends. Likewise I can't control misconceptions on the part of said children. This week we had that type of experience with KC.

He watches PBS TV and on the childrens show they apparently began to advertise about an upcoming tour of those demented men known as the Wiggles. I am not seriously against the Wiggles. Kids love them. They are harmless. I just think that pretty much all adults that have to behave as the Wiggles do should either have very good um "supplements" to their diets and lots of cash for their efforts! LOL

Anyway, day one he comes out and gives me a very garbled story about new Wiggles stuff. I nod, ignore and keep doing the dishes. Day 2 he comes out and he has figured out that the Wiggles are going on tour. Nothing else, so I again am not really clued into this. Day 3, the report is that "the Wiggles are going on tour. They are coming to a city near US!" OK now i know I need to find out more. I go on line. The Wiggles are indeed going on tour. And they are not coming anywhere near us. It would be a minimum of an 8 hour (one way) drive to experience the thrill of the "Let's go bananas" tour with our wiggly friends. So I explained this to KC. I expected arguing. That is what Chet would do. For hours. He would create 50 million scenarios that would allow you to do what he wanted, even if it was at the expense of other family members. I expected sullenness. That is what Rob would do. Just be quietly miserable to me. I expected screaming which at 2 is Lissa's mode of expression when displeased. I swear the girl could shatter glass. But none of that happened.

Instead, he stood silently for a minute. Then he walked out into the kitchen with his hands clasped behind his back. "Lissa! Robbie!" he called. "I have some bad news. The Wiggles are NOT coming to a city near us after all and we won't get to see them live." Now aside from the fact that at 13, Rob was probably dancing with joy inside, I was just so beyond happy to see that he could handle it this way. I know that the other kids can't necessarily help their responses. They are informed by negative life experiences, by the results of their first parents addictions, by their disabilities. But those responses can in some cases be modified over time. At least because I am an optimist I believe that. Even for Chet who is so stuck in early teen behavior, I have hope that eventually I will get him to "young adult". I hope that eventually Rob will learn the value of talking things through and seeing that we control what we can, but can't control the world. And Lissa of course is too young to know much beyond her immediate wants and needs.

Meanwhile, I celebrate the fact that one of my four seems to have a grasp on that, and we are in the midst of planning our own "Wiggly movie celebration" for a date to be determined in August which is when the Wiggles tour is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday at the park

OK almost every night after supper we dash out the door and head to the park. I pull Elisabeth in the wagon (gee I love that wagon, glad Santa brought that!) Sometimes KC rides too but most times he runs most of the way with his big bro Robbie. There are numerous stone walls on the walk that call out to him. Two of them are built with those interlocking stones and he has learned that though they are tall he can find foot and hand holds and climb up to the top of them himself. He is very proud of this. As someone who always wanted to learn technical climbing I applaud his efforts!

Usually there are lots of kids to play with and a cadre of "regulars" that have become park buds with us. Last night, there were none. As in zero. No soccer game in progress. No kids period. My kids were depressed! They like playing with me but they like playing with others too and who could blame them.

So it wasn't the most exciting of park nights but we did have a blast right at the end when they decided it was time to pick flowers to bring home to mom. Wild roses bloom around the edge of the field so I picked those, careful of the thorns. Lissa went for the giant purple clovers, and KC found the buttercups calling to him. Rob chose asters and a tiny blooming flower that I think were bluets. All together it made a spectacular bouquet and she was duly impressed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Community Garden

We planted our community garden plot today. I love this and luckily I have managed to enthuse our kids about the experience as well. This will be our third year at the garden. You don't get the same plot each year so we have learned that there is no value to the time and energy of double digging beds. Better to put landscape cloth over everything and get your plants in the ground. A garden pro also told us that this helps prevent the spread of disease from other people' s plants. Cool.

Some of the folks there are repeaters like us and we meet and greet and re-acquaint. Usually people like to stop by and talk with us. I think as much because I am wearing Lissa in a hiking backpack while I grub in the dirt planting tomatos as anything else. For some reason this seems so wild to other people but ordinary to me.

Before I stuffed her in the Kelty, all the kids helped clear the site of rocks. This is a job perfectly suited to my rock loving kiddos. All entered into this with enthusiasm usually reserved for the winners of Publishers Clearing House. Then while Kirsty laid the landscape cloth, I put Lissa in the carrier and on my back, gave the kids their snacks to re-charge and then we started planting. We have a small row of ornamental corn, hoping to grow essentially our own harvest decorations. We have 2 places where we planted pumpkins. KC is the pumpkin grower extraordinaire. This year he chose both white and orange varieties. Rob has always wanted to try corn so that was the impetus there. Then we have tomatos up the wazoo. We can a lot. Make our own sauce. Make our own salsa to use and give as gifts. We need lots of tomatos.

Unfortunately due to the bad economy more people wanted plots than ever before and in order to squeeze out more, the plots are smaller this year than in y ears past. So we over bought on our tomatos and wound up with a number of packs left over. We made friends with some fellow gardeners by gifting them with some of the tomatos, a la Pay it Forward. Good gardens make good neighbors I think! (grin) The other flat of tomatos we are going to try and container garden here at home. Our yard doesn't do spectacularly in the light category but we are going to give it a go. I also will have window boxes with basil as there wasn't room for that this year. Oh and we planted zuchinni. The boys could help actually plant and water; Lissa was mostly the cheering section in that area.

Our economic reality this year was that we are not able to afford buying the 2 CSA boxes that we have done in years past. I wish we could do it. I believe passionately that we should eat as close to home as possible, both for optimum health and because it makes no economic or environmental sense to me to eat foods shipped from all over the place. I am instead going to frequent the farmers markets and try and score some deals on fruits and veggies that way. We typically put most of our vegetables by with summer canning and freezing so it is important that I find a venue for this.

I am jazzed about our garden spot though. It looks good, the plants are a mix of heirloom and some more common ones. I love the way gardening takes a piece of ground that doesn't look like much and helps it to bear bounty. And one of our gardening neighbors has decided she wants to learn to can so we can even share that knowledge with others. It is sort of becoming a lost art; people stare at me when they hear I can. I take it as a compliment that they think I am too young to know how to do this.

The reality is that I grew up canning tomatos and pasta sauce with my family. My job was always the icky peeling off the skin in the cold water bath. But I learned the whole process by many years of helping and it has paid off. We have built on that knowledge and can make pickles, the aforementioned salsa, can our own pie fillings (typically apple and peach are the most cost effective in our region) and jams and jellies. With the apple pie filling, we save the peels and make a scrumptious apple peel jelly. Depending on the variety of apple it is either golden jelly that looks like sunshine in a jar, or soft pink like dawn just breaking. At any rate, always pretty on the shelves.

So now another growing season unfolds with promise and possibilities. Life is so good!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bumps in the road

Ugh. Bumps in the road are inevitable. I know this, and yet, when long periods of time go relatively sans bumps, I get complacent. I get to thinking and hoping that yup, we've dealt with that. I stop thinking and asking myself what will my strategy be for when I have to deal iwth it again.

What a dumb cluck! Rob has always had issues of honesty as in he is the world's craziest liar. He has always had issues of taking things of others and hiding them and taking his own things at times he shouldn't. (i.e. taking electronics to bed) I also should have remembered that for some reason, his birthday tends to be a trigger time for these things. I don't actually know why; I don't think he knows why. There is nothing written in his big ole file that would ever shed any light on this, but I can honestly say that when he was in public school there were always behavioral issues in the 2 wks leading up to his birthday and for a week or two afterwards as well.

But somehow being as there are 52 wks in a year, and I am the consummate pollyanna who always believes things will get better, I didn't see this coming. Rob hadn't taken anything in awhile. He had been relatively honest, with only "omissions" of the typical variety one would expect of kids.

My first clue should have been the week before his birthday. He became very sluggish during the day. He is always quiet but this was way more so. I thought maybe his spring allergies were starting to kick in. But instead I found his Nintendo DS under his pillow which meant he was staying awake at night playing video games. The boy just can not function without sleep and video games truly seem to do scary things to his brain so we limit their usage. We handled that. For his birthday he got a digital camera so he can bring it to camp this summer. He spent the evening happily snapping pics and exploring functions. Then he put it down of his own volition about 7 or so and started reading. And sometime between then and bedtime, snuck it up to hide under his pillow. I found it right off, thankfully as if it fell off hte bed in the night it would likely have been damaged. (we have wood floors) I expressed my disappointment in his choice. Told him if he was worried something would happen to it that we could find a place to put it where he would be sure it was safe. He wasn't worried about it, didn't feel concern of someone else touching it. OK then.

Last night I find in his shorts pockets a bunch of small items that belong to others, including a pocket knife that Kirsty keeps in the glove box of her car for emergencies. Rob's job is to clean the van every Saturday so obviously that is how he came by it. I was way less calm about finding that. Not that i particularly worry about a 13 year old and a pocket knife. I was a girl scout and had one. But a) he could mess with it around the little kids which would be bad and b) if he was found with it in certain public venues it would be automatically that weapon/threat issue. And it is someone else's pocket knife. Taking others belongings is huge to me.

So now I have my thinking cap on as to how best to handle this. My guess is he is going to spend a lot of time helping me out this weekend.

Monday, June 1, 2009

OK, you all remember my issues with posting pictures, right? I am impaired. I suffer from technology issues and there is likely little hope that I will improve much! So you have to start at the bottom picture for the retrospective. That was a shot of Rob hiking in March of 06. I have earlier pictures but 06 was when digital camera joined our home. Beloved family member, that digital camera. But I am allowing my addled brain to wander. . . The next picture above that was March of 07. Rob is in our kitchen smiling because he is not doing school work but having his picture taken! Seriously. The kid loves having his picture taken. March of 08 is the spiffy guy with the white collar. It was cropped out of the family Easter photo of that year. Don't ask me what happened in March of 09 that caused us to be devoid of Robbie pictures but apparently we are. Instead, for your viewing pleasure, an April 09 picture. Wearing his Nike shirt. Which he will wear till it is threadbare because, well, it is a NIKE shirt! LOL I told him tonite when I tucked him in that this was his last night as a 12 year old. Tomorrow he is officially a teen ager. He smiled.