Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Talking With Jane

Jane called last evening.  Fiona had opted out of calling.  She is not angry with us but was sort of having a power struggle with Jane.  Periodically she decides that staff are in her business too much and has a bit of temper over things.  I get this as the reality is that she is 19 but functions like a much younger teen. For safety and for help with healing staff needs to have involvement for processing and such.  In some ways it is similar to some of the ways that I have to handle life with Chet. He too sometimes has the same reaction that Fiona has so when Fi's temper is turned on me for this, it doesn't bother me much.

Jane had gotten the pictures I had sent Fiona of her sister Krystal and had shared them with Fi.  Fiona had been very excited to see them but every  new contact with  family triggers feelings that overwhelm her. Typically she worries that she will "screw up" contact and "do something bad." I imagine this is particularly strong in the connections with Krystal as Krystal was afraid of her at one point.

Apparently after the picture viewing, Fiona had a phone call with Cousin N.  Somewhere in the course of that phone call she lost her control and couldn't follow the phone plan, yelled and screamed at Jane and stomped out of the room.  The good thing from my perspective is that she didn't hurt herself or others, she didn't try to leave school AND cousin N got to hear this. N was shocked and was trying to tell Fiona to be respectful to her elders which of course was not flying. N has long felt that Fi's issues would be easily and completely solved by simply being with first family.  While Jane and I both want as much first family contact as is safe and appropriate and healthy for Fiona, it would sure help if they could realize how  much healing Fi has done and how fragile she still is.  Seeing or hearing Fi when she is feeling overwhelmed may help N to  understand this and perhaps she can help educate other family members. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hello and Goodbye Irene!

Hurricane Irene has been and gone.  We were blessed and have no damage.  Leaves down and our sunflower is lost but other than that, nothng in our yard reflects her passing.  We were prepared for much worse and never even lost our power.

So it was actually a relaxing and fun day.  I made red sauce from fresh tomatos, packed the kids clothes for camping (we leave Thursday about noon) played battleship with the kids and Wii fit with them.  Then Rob and I decided to check out how we would do our fantasy football teams this year.  In years past we did this through the SI Kids site and it was a fun and friendly little competition of ours. Then SI Kids didn't do it and subbed this out to another site last year.  Rob did pretty well with it but it kept losing my data and that was frustrating for the 2 of us. It really is about us competing with each other in a friendly way and I think it wasn't as much fun for him to come out well when he never knew what I could have accomplished! LOL

I found a fantasy football site and we signed up. Then it turned out that there was an actual draft for this!  OK I just stepped into fantasy football big leagues!  My draft was this afternoon so Rob and I kind of did it together which allowed him to watch how to not navigate the site and choose ones players.  His draft is 8 p.m. tonight so I will get to watch him breeze through it.  I never would have thought that fantasy football would be part of my life if you had asked me when I was in my 20's  I was a dancer for goodness sake.  While I always liked football, it was sort of in that general way.  Raising boys who like it makes you need to be knowledgeable, trust me!

So goodbye Hurricane Irene, I'm glad you didn't feel the need to stick around!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Made With Love Challenge

Elizabeth at Water Rolls Uphill has issued a very cool challenge.  One month with no eating out.  One month of more careful grocery budgeting.  Did I say one month of no eating out?  LOL

We actually don't eat out a heck of a lot. But I do typically order pizza several times a month.  This needs to end for a bit.  We are trying to save for a big vacation next May.  It is hard for the kids to reconcile that $25.00 in pizza now is not going to benefit them next May when they want money for mouse ears!We even make really decent home made pizza.  It is just that they have a deep abiding love for take out pizza. 

I can't start the challenge till we return from our Labor Day camping vacation.  We planned the menu weeks ago and my eldest has a birthday that falls on that weekend.  Thus he gets to choose the meal and he chose to have um take out pizza! LOL  On the plus side all the other camping meals are either prepared ahead and brought with us or cooked at our campsite.

I need to abstain from ordering out at work also.  This happens probably once a week, but I know it adds  up. I do love Greek salads and on a stressful day it positively calls to me like a siren song.  Ah the feta cheese, with its salty taste and the contrast of the hot peppers. I adore hot spicy food; probably because I have no sense of smell.  But if I cut out 4 take out lunches a month and 2 orders of take out pizza I would save monthly probably $75.00 Remember we are a family of six so we get 3 medium pizzas every time we order.  Ah the joy of teen boys and their bottomless pits of stomachs. LOL  Also, my wife may be losing her job at some point in the near future; saving money would be the smart and advisable thing to do before this happens instead of afterwards!

So anyway, I am accepting the challenge.  This is a great time of year to do it. I love to cook and the changing season always makes me want to cook more. Today for instance I blanched about 30 tomatos in preparation of making either stewed tomatos or red sauce to can tomorrow.  I'm going to see what a month of more accountability can save our family.  If you want to hop on board, jump over to Elizabeth's blog and link up!

Of differences and disabilities

I live in a community that is called one of the "Twin Cities."  But the twins are really different in a lot of ways, just as our children are.  One twin, the one I live in, has easy major highway access and as a result has enjoyed a level of ongoing affluence that the other twin has not.  (don't ask me why the other twin opted out of highway access long ago but it was actually their decision to do so.) 

As a result, my city has a beautiful new expanded library, excellent city services etc.  We also have a culture where   the homeless, the obviously mentally disabled, and the "street people" don't exist.  Oh I am sure they are here. But they are tucked out of sight and best remember to remain that way. 

In our less wealthy neighboring twin city, the community struggles to provide basic city services to the residents.  Many downtown buildings are boarded up or have vacant store fronts. The library is only open 21 to 25 hours a week.  And yet, it is in that city that my eldest has the greatest level of acceptance.  Differently abled people have always been visible and present on the Main Street.  Homeless and street people often linger at the small park in the center of town in good weather and used to spend the day in the library back when it was adequately funded and open normal hours.

As such, bringing Chet to that library was always an easy experience.  The staff were wonderful to him and he grew up borrowing his books mostly at that library.  The fact that the YMCA was also there made it easy for his swimming lesson to happen and then to follow up with a visit to the library.  The director of the Children's Room became a good friend and J was always so kind and accepting that even when he was long past the age for the Childrens Room, Chet would stop down and visit.  J always had time for him and was interested in his views.

My other kids came along and as we utilized the YMCA for them, we continued using the library in that city.  Chet would spend the swim class time picking out his books and then would socialize with the staff.  The younger kids went to story hours there and they too, came to love J and her quiet demeanor. 

Then the economy began to go south a few years ago and the library was forced to reduce its hours to very minimal hours. They lost their certification and were no longer open on Saturdays.  Our world was thrown into chaos for a while as I struggled to help Chet with the change in a routine that he adored and had been in place for many years.  He was not able to successfully navigate the large beautiful library in our city. And the staff were less interested in having long conversations with a somewhat rambling 20 something.  I began to receive gentle complaints that he was too loud, too intrusive to staff and patrons.  Ultimately we went to Chet choosing his books on line at home and me picking them up for him on Saturdays.  Don't get me wrong, the libary is amazing, and the staff are very nice.  But you have to be a round peg and slide easily into a round hole.  My eldest  son is not a round peg.

A few weeks ago I got an email from J saying that they are now open 2 hours on Satudays if I would ever like to stop in.  It is hard to readjust our schedule now.  Dance has supplanted Saturday swim lessons and once that is underway the library will be closed by the time we would be free to get there.  But today, with a wide open Saturday morning, I could make this happen.

It was so great to see J.  We all chatted for the longest time. She will retire in about 2 years and it is strange to me to think of that library without her in it.  Truly she has known us for more than 20 years! Chet picked out books, talked with his friend and was so happy that it made my heart sing.  On the way home he asked to stop at a local park in the same city that we used to often go to.  There is a lovely pond with ducks and geese there.  Sadly the economy has impacted that as well and you can't drive to the park but must park about 1/2 mile away and walk in.  But we did.  And watching the troops do silly skipping and dancing down the deserted road was funny enough to make me forget (almost) that I only had flip flops on since I truly had no idea that we would wind up there today.  Sometimes the unexpected is the greatest gift of all!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dance Dance Dance!

We went shopping for this years dance gear this evening.  It occured to me that Lissa of the incredibly narrow feet might need shoes specially ordered or something. So rather than wait to find out, a week before class starts (my usual plan!!) I took them out tonight.

In a totally happy turn of events, the tap shoes have a strap that looks like a buckle but isn't and snug in beautifully around her narrow little feet. The ballet slippers are a less perfect fit but don't slip at the heel so they will be fine for a first year student. 

KC got his usual black tie taps and black ballet slippers.  He is way easy. This is a small local store and I am sure I could likely find tights and leotards far more cheaply on line. But I do try and support local businesses when I am able and the owner is just so nice.  I can tell she remembers us, as this is our third year shopping there.

It was funny though because as I was checking out she asked if I had a tights card.  I don't know what I thought she said but I didn't get it and asked her to repeat. When she said it and I did hear it, I still had no clue.  She explained and then it was clear to us both!  Duh!  I have not had to buy tights for a dancer till this year, so I did not have a tights card or know about the punch system for a discount! LOL

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bounce House Therapy

Today was crazy busy at my job. We have an obligatory "fun" outing to attend on Friday and thus a 5 day work week morphs into four not so fun filled days. (there is also that small question of fun that is "required" but I am choosing not to think about that!)  I do know that I ordered a salad for myself today and it arrived at 1:15 p.m. and I had no time to eat it till 2:30  By then I almost didn't care anymore!

So I wasn't really loving the idea that I had a commitment to take the kids to their friend A's house tonight for a get together. A has a birthday this month and because their family is so large (a party of 65 is really all the close family! LOL)  they do a smaller get together for friends before his actual birthday.  It really started at 1 today but K was busy so I had said I could bring the gang by after work.  Work that went late and I was supposed to be at A's house at 4:30 

Still I am so glad we went. They are good friends, and I enjoy spending time with them.  And. . .  They had a bounce house!  LOL A bounce house grown ups could bounce in.  Want to know something?  You just can't remain stressed while bouncing in a bounce house.  Can'!  Also, Rob came up with us, even though A is 5 and really Lissa and KC's friend.  He loved the bounce house, and flipped (literally) in it.  He went swimming in the pool, voluntarily.  And teased me about how silly I looked wearing his baseball hat backwards the way he does. (he gave it to me to hold while he was in the water and I put it on)  I told him I was trying to look "street" like he does and he totally cracked up.

It was good to see him laughing; I had wondered what today would bring after our discussion last night.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Tough Stuff

Parenting is never easy.  But adoption brings a special layer of complexity and pain to the process.  Tonight, Fiona called.  She and Jane told me that they had spent time with a social worker today whose job is to find birth families and facilitate if appropriate, re-connections between them and the child.  Fiona wants to find Mama J. her father, and a cousin. I am familiar with the process.  In our state it is called a Family Find Social Worker and it is how we first connected with Dee.

Mama J. is actually in contact with Jane.  Jane has been having phone calls with her for a bit now and is working toward a re-connection between Fiona and her birth mom. Mama J. also has another child that she is raising, a little girl who I believe is right around Lissa's age.

It turned out that Fiona all ready knows that part of the story.  Her brother Dee  told her at some point in a phone call.  I am not totally surprised by that. Dee is very angry about this.  Fi is also, though part of her also thinks that another little sister would be nice.

There are so many hard feelings for her to deal with.  She is angry with Mama J for not taking care of them, for "not fighting for us," and in her eyes letting the family unit be destroyed.  She said she remembers Mama J doing drugs and she and her sister Krystal telling her to stop because they knew something bad would happen to them all. Yet she still wants to see her first mom, to know her again and have some kind of relationship with her.  Tough stuff.

I am proud of my daughter for being brave enough to face the complexity of this.  I had to find some of that bravery myself and talk with Rob about it all tonight.  I didn't want him finding out back handedly about things so we sat in the kitchen and I told him what Fiona and Jane are doing, and what I knew about his first mom.

His eyes filled with tears that were not shed when I told him he had another sister, a little girl about the same age as Lissa.  I explained about some of Fiona's feelings and how his brother Dee felt.  I told him it was compicated and he would probably feel lots of different things as he sorted it out.  I said that if he wants to know Mama J in any manner, he needed to know that I am okay with that and will not be upset or hurt or angry at all.  I said that he may want to talk with his sister more about this as time goes on, or even Jane because she has a rare  ability to see through the complex stuff. I said I'd talk about it anytime he wants in any way he wants--face to face, email, by letter, whatever made him comfortable.

I do not hate my children's first mothers.  I do hate the pain that they are feeling tonight.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Smiles that reach the eyes

Rob has always taken really great pictures.  It is like the kid sees a camera and typically this big grin just moves onto his face.  And he is handsome--that isn't just proud mama talking. People mention it a lot.  But what I didn't really notice till I started looking back at pictures from longer ago was the difference between the smiles of say 7 or 8 years ago and the smiles now.

When I look back at the earlier shots, the smile is only his mouth.  His eyes don't reflect a lot of joy.  Truthfully, they look kind of haunted in some shots and in others, sort of vacant.  I feel a bit like a fool for not noticing this back then.  However at the time my only other child at home was Chet and he takes notoriously bad pictures.  His autism make that an ordeal for him, so to me, Rob looked so happy, so content. 

I guess what made me really notice was the two pictures from seeing Santa that hang on our fridge.  They are side by side and exactly the same size and Rob is posed exactly as KC and Lissa are 7 years later in the recent shot. That made the difference in posture and the light in the eyes jump out at me and I started looking back at older shots more carefully.  I think he spent a bunch of years faking happy.

I am reasonably sure that he isn't faking it any more. Probably not for the past few years.  I watched him at the BBQ today and he was very relaxed.  His laugh was genuine and he cracked some jokes and there was a sparkle in his eye. That sparkle is what is missing in the early pictures.  I'm glad it is there now.

Sliding into Sunday

I am soooo tired but still, excited too.  Yesterday was super busy.   The littles had a BBQ pool party in the afternoon. Rob went to the Big City and saw a farm team play at the stadium there. He didn't get home till quarter to 11.  I also had a meeting at church in the evening which upset the littles who are not used to my being out.  So it was a long though funfilled day.

Today we are having 16 to 20 people over to the house for a family BBQ  I have the tables dressed and the decorations up.  Need to frost the cake that I made yesterday and we need to get the sides made.  In reality we are in good shape, I am just tired.  So I am sitting on the computer doing next to nothing and drinking coffee and waiting for the caffiene and my natural love of parties to kick in!  LOL  I'll try and remember to post pics of the back yard. It looks really pretty.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Silly Saturday Post!

Today is a crazy day for us, the first day of a crazy weekend of fun and family and friends. This morning the kids and I will do our usual errands. Then at 1 p.m. Rob leaves to go with his godparents to a minor league ballgame, and I take the littles to a birthday party. We will get home about 4 and I will get supper ready and do showers for the kids. Then at 6 my wife comes home and I have to leave to go to church to attend a meeting for the folks teaching in RE this year. When I get home, I need to make the garlands to decorate the canopy for tomorrow's family BBQ.

It is a good thing I love crazy! LOL

In October I will have a few days of vacation with the kids. My wife is going to KY to visit an on-line friend IRL. We booked her ticket last evening and she is very excited. She has been hoping we would have the funds to do this and I just got a small bonus at work so we were able to make it happen. I don't usually have time off in the fall so I need to think about what we will do together during the day when we have finished school work.  Maybe apple picking, or a train into the Big City to the art museum there?  Hmmm

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's summer now!!!

OK I know it has been summer for a while but the thing is that morning glories are a huge  part of summer for me. And ours (and most of them in our neck of the woods have been very delayed in blooming this year.  I love to look out my back door at morning glories blossoming all over the lattice that we put up each year for them to twine about.  This year luckily our tall zinnias and our nasturciums have given me spots of beauty as I sip my morning tea.  Because until today, the 18th of August, not a "morning glorious" as KC calls them, had bloomed. 

When I saw it blooming this a.m. I had to take a picture and all the kids had to come out and admire the flower. Truly a bit of beauty that was a gift from the goddess just before I went to work.  Things have been so busy and stressful there lately that the memory of that flower brought me moments of joy all day.  Easy to please aren't I?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Awkward moment

Yesterday my co workers and I went to a mandatory training.  I will grant that if you have been in our particular industry for more than a year, none of what was presented was new.  However it is also mandated that one attend annually.  Unfortunately my boss fell asleep.  And the newest person who was hired at our site noticed and asked me afterwards if he would have to attend another training because he slept through this one.  Sigh.  Truly an awkward moment. I don't know how many other people noticed--I didn't actually because I was not sitting near him--but this does not bode well.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Nocturnal Ramblings

When Chet was around 7 or 8 he had a period of sleep walking.   It wasn't too long and when we looked back at his childhood through the lens of the increased understanding of his disability, we laid it to that.  Rob came along and he sleepwalked from about ages 5 through 8 or 9.  So much so that I had a door alarm on his bedroom door. It would not waken him, but it woke ME. And that way I could make sure he would not fall down the stairs or walk outside or something.   I laid it to the trauma he experienced as a child with the added frosting of trauma from adoption, and learning a whole new family, house and community.

Along comes KC.  Who has been ours since he was 5 days old.  Who co-slept and is probably the most emotionally secure child I know.  Able to be right out there with his feelings and also to be empathetic to others.  And guess what?  This year HE started sleep walking.  If he is going to do it, it is between 9 and 9:30 at night. So it must be when he goes from one stage of sleep into another. 

Clearly there is not really trauma as an issue here.  Or a disability.  So I am guessing that maybe at this age they are putting order to their worlds and understanding more.  At that knowledge is exciting and also at some level scary.  Obviously I don't know for sure.  But I sure listen closely around 9 p.m., these days for the footfall on the stairs.

Socializing and Mice

Yesterday was a busy day.  Usual errands in the a.m. followed by a visit from my SIL from 11 to 2:30.  Then a bit after 3 we had to head out to a BBQ.  KC and Lissa used to go to this really neat music program and their teacher Mike was throwing the BBQ  Mike presently lives in China with his new wife and baby A.  They come back once a year and spend a month or so with Mike's folks and the BBQ was their last chance to gather with family and friends before they head back to China in two days.  Mike invited us because KC emails him every other moth or so with questions about what life is like in China.  (have you seen pandas?  do you do tai chi? do you have noodles for breakfast?)  Mike loves the questions and said he would invite us to the BBQ  In one of those odd 6 degrees of separation things, Mike's dad is someone I know very well from work.  Mike also was the person who recommended Rob's piano teacher to me, so I told Rob that Joe would likely be there as well.  However, we went to this knowing that we would likely only know those 2 or 3 people.

Truthfully that would never bother me. I can and do talk with anyone.  What impressed me is that the kids did great.  There was a bounce house and a lot of other kids and the littles played very happily with everyone for more than 2 hours.  Rob stayed close by me but did talk with people.  I used to get the "s" word thrown at me a lot when we began homeschooling.  Like somehow this was going to make my kids freaky fearful little folk that would not have a friend in the big wide world or a clue as to how to make one. 

I think in a lot of ways it has worked just the opposite.  I am not sure that KC would have a lot of friends in public school. Although he is a loving and gregarious little boy, he loves things that are atypical in our society.  Sparkly dress up stuff for imaginative play.  Ballet.  Yes he also loves to break dance and play baseball but I know that he would have issues if he shared the less traditional interests on the playground.

 Rob also shows more assurance and has a great abiility to start and maintain peer relationships.  Last Thursday he was late coming home from the park.  After 15 minutes I had gotten in the van to go check on him.  (mostly because I know he does try out bike tricks and I didn't want to wonder if he was lying there with a broken ankle!)  I saw him walking home with a friend. He was pushing his bike so that they could walk together and they were engaged in an obviously happy and animated discussion. I just turned a corner and headed home on a different street so as not to embarrass him.  Rob apologized for the late return when he came in and said he and  his friend had gotten involved in talking about trading cards.

So I don't worry too much about socialization anymore!  LOL

Later in the evening the kids were having popsicles in the backyard and KC came flying in the house to tell me that Blake had caught a mouse.  Blake is the DOG!  A Brittany Spaniel.  A BIRD dog!  From a champion bloodline if we want to get down to it.  But Blake?  He wants to be a cat!  And he had indeed caught a mouse.  I guess the whole dang family marches to their own drummer don't they?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Turning of the season's wheel

There has been a decidedly September feel to mornings the past few days this week. That crispness that gives way to summer warmth again by mid day.  And the light is different in the mornings in our work room where I write and read on the computer.  It is more golden and slants into the room so differently from just a week or so ago. 

I am never truly ready for this. I am a creature of summer and heat.  I even love humidity.  Flip flops, sandals, shorts and fresh veggies from the garden. Corn so fresh that it does not need butter or salt. Fresh tomato sandwiches.  Morning glories on our lattice.   But this year the growing season has been odd.  A few things have yet to come to fruitition.  I have yet to have a tomato sandwich from a home grown tomato plant.  and our "morning glorious" have yet to flower.  They have done lots of vining--but no blooming. Thankfully the whiskey barrels of nasturciums have provided tons of color and the zinnias we grew just outside the back door as well. 

I decided to take this as a sign that summer is far from over. Despite the back to school posters. Despite the loss of daylight. Despite hearing geese fly over head two nights running, summer is not yet done.  And the morning glories will bloom!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fried Green Tomatos???

It has been a hard year to get our tomatos ripe!  We grew awesome plants from seed and got them in the community garden the very day we were allowed to plant.  This time of year we are typically picking tomatos aplenty.  Making salsa to can. Making marinara sauce to freeze or can.  Instead, I have a garden full, literally chock full, laden. . . with green tomatos.  It isn't anything we did; all our fellow gardeners are in the same boat.  It is just one of those years where the growing season was just not optimal for tomatos. Not a lot of sun and heat.  Lots of clouds and rain, especially in the spring which made for later flowering.  On the plus side, the kids pumpkins (2 white ones and 1 orange) are looking great.  Our corn is tassled. As the wind rustled through the shocks last night KC and Lissa were trying to imitate the music made by the shocks and the breeze.  Then, while K trimmed the tall grass near our plot, the kids and I played games in between the plots, keeping them well away from her sharp tools but enjoying the late summer night.  This may not be the most productive year veggie wise, but I would not trade the times we are there for anything!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enfolded by Family

Fiona called last night. She and Jane had phone problems (they use a speaker phone) so it took a while for the call to get rolling.First I could hear them but they could not  hear me, then vice versa.  On the plus side, Fiona did not appear to get anxious or angry when the delay happened.  In the past it has made the call harder as she has become upset.  Another huge plus was that Jane reported that her behavior back at school post-visit was normal. That is very exciting as I know it had to be hard to drive away after the visit was over.  It was hard for me, standing there on the porch waving.

Fiona asked last night if  I could sew her something.  LOL  She forgets sometimes that K is the seamstress in the family.  Me?  If K is not home i am more about duct tape. LOL   I explained that I could not sew if my life depended on it but how good a seamstress Mama K is.  Fiona wanted her to make a skirt, which would be kind of hard as getting fittings done.  I said it might be easier if Fi wanted something made for her room.  She said that would love to have a quilt with pictures of her family on it.  This is very do-able and I love the idea of her being able to cuddle up at night or when she is feeling low.  It is the perfect gift!  I need to find out if cousin N will get us pictures of herself and her daughter and talk with Jane further and see how many family pictures would feel good for Fiona.  (for instance I have pictures of their sister Krystal but Fi has not had contact with her and I don't know if it is going to help or hurt to have a picture of her. ) I am so excited to start working on this for her and have it done for her birthday!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunflower BBQ plans

Today the weather was weird.  Rain off and on.  Humidity very high.  Definately not a do things outside kind of day for the most part. So I caught up on some piece work that we do for our second job, read a book and helped the littles make a seashell covered picture frame.  (we used shells we collected last weekend at the beach.)  They are a little tired anyway from the excitement of yesterday so the low-key day was probably a good thing.

Late this afternoon we went to a local craft store to get artificial flowers for decorating for the BBQ that we are hosting in a couple of weeks. We only get to host this particular family shindig every couple of years. It is a lot of fun--at least to me, but I like to entertain.  My wife, um not so much.  I rent a big canopy so that rain or shine we are comfortable, and big round tables so that conversation can flow easily.  But I think a big white canopy looks sort of ugly on its own and tables should have centerpieces to look welcoming.  My wife loves sunflowers so we used that as the theme.  I got some garlands of greenery to wire on some artificial sunflowers and 3 centerpieces with the sunflower theme (almost 50 per cent off)  It is all ready fall in the craft store and winter is just around the corner. (I spied a small section of yule stuff there too and practically ran the other way!!)  I know it has to be out there. I know I myself need to put a holiday gift on layaway in the next week or two. I am just not emotionally ready to admit that summer is fleeing all too fast!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fiona's Visit

 Exploring the house. Seeing what was the same, (lots of things are) and what is different, lots is different too) Meeting the pets.  Here she and Blake are "chatting."
 Rob getting ready to pitch for our "baseball game."  I use that term loosely as the only rules for our baseball is that there are no rules! LOL
"Batting practice!"  It was such a great day. Fiona was happy and relaxed.  The meal at the restaurant she had chosen wasn't as horrible as it could be.  One meal of fries, mozzarella sticks an a cheese sandwich won't kill my kids.  I had a nice tomato soup and a garden salad.

I think it helped Fiona that there are lots of pictures of her throughout the house.  She is on the fridge like all the kids. In the living room like all the kids.  In my workroom, and in the hallway where I have pics of all the kids. Also, although some things in the house have changed--we have a big screen TV now, and a different dining room table--other things remain the same.  We have the same ratty couch (LOL), the same living room rug, the same bookcases.  In our dining room we have the same antique cabinets that were my grandmothers.  Fiona loves those and wanted a picture of them to take back to school.

KC gave Fi a book he had made for her and she was very genuinely touched.  She was concerned that there was no dessert for him at the restaurant.  (everything was either chocolate which he hates or dairy which he is allergic to) As a result she bought him gum with her own money at the store on the corner of our street. 

Jane was her usual amazing self and said that she has never seen kids as loving as mine. Which is sort of sad because I'd love to believe that most families have a strong loving foundation, but still a lovely testiment to the bonds we have worked to build together.

A day of smiles and memories.  A wonderful day to treasure!

Friday, August 5, 2011

So you think you can . . . dance!

As summer starts to slip away the signs of fall begin to appear.  There is a single branch on the tree across the street that has an undercurrent of reddish orange to it.  The branch is still green but somehow it is orangey green.

We have been taking advantage of back to school sales and buying homeschool supplies.  Enough notebooks and folders to hopefully last the year.  Even when you school at home there is something cool and fun about organizing your work space for the new grade and the kids have been loving this.

The various organizations that our kids are involved in start to gear up.  Emails have come in about a youth group trip to Maine over Columbus Day weekend for Rob.  Last week Lissa's gym sent mail about this year's classes. 

Turns out that Lissa's class was moved from 4 p.m. on Fridays to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays. And she would not know anyone in the class.  Lissa loves gymnastics but she said flat out that if her 3 friends were not in the class, she did not want to go.  So I emailed Coach Amy and we are not signing up at the gym this year.

Tonights mail brought info from the dance school where KC studies.  KC who has rhapsodized about being old enough for hiphop this year. . . right up till the schedule came.  Then he felt like he could not give up ballet and tap.  So he is deferring hip hop for another year (though he does freestyle at home all the time and breaks in my front hall like you would not believe).   I am not totally surprised as I know as much as he wants to study hip hop he really truly loves ballet and tap.  If I could have said he could take all 3 he likely would have. 

Then Lissa piped up.  Miss "I think dance is stooooopid" has changed her tune.  Seems she wants to try ballet and tap out for herself!  So much of Saturday mornings will be spent at the dance school this year.  I emailed KC's teacher and told her of his change of heart. She was thrilled as she doesn't teach the hiphop, another teacher does. She said she didn't want to lose KC yet and wasn't ready to share him with Miss Laura.  LOL  And she is excited to have Lissa in the younger class.  The 2 kids personalities are wildly different but Miss Heidi has met Lissa and knows how high energy she is.  It'll be a fun ride!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Signs of stronger relationship

Despite the bumps in the road, I think that (and i hope I am not jinxing myself) that Fiona is making huge strides sorting out our relationship, and really feeling at a deep level that it is okay for me to be her mom.  For many years, I have been mom unless the conversation turned to her first family.  Then it was "my real mom" or she would just start referring to J by "mom" and I would suddenly be either by first name or nothing. 

I don't for a minute want to imply that I want Fiona to forget her first family, nor do I deny their very important role in her life. (in fact, Jane is having phone conversations with Fiona and Rob's first mom, J so there may be actual contact at some level in the future.

Anyway, I was explaining about the kittens to Fiona.  I said that they were so little that they were both blind and deaf and that I didn't know that.  I knew about the blind thing, deaf was news to me. LOL   Fiona said with considerable assurance that she knew that because they learned it in school. But also, "When I lived with Mama J we had kittens."  Throughout the ensuing conversation, J and I were both privileged to be moms in her mind. (though it was an exceptionally tragic story about kittens that she shared--even the most simple of things in her past are so totally intertwined with tragedy)

Also, Fiona processes the call at the end and talks about things that she felt mad, sad, happy, excited etc about.  Sometimes she and Jane and I do this together on the phone at the very end.  This time she and Jane did it afterwards.  One of the things Fiona was worried about was KC's feelings.  When we were doing the big trip discussion with her, I explained that KC really felt badly that he had hurt her and that he had thought she was ready to come on the trip, when actually she still has some work to do to make a Disney trip happen. She and KC are really tight but the fact that despite her feelings of disappointment over not going yet, that she could be worried for her little brother is huge to me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"I feel like you lied"

Tonight Fiona called and with a bit of help (though not too much) from Amazing Jane, Fiona was able to give voice to her anger and disappointment over finding out about our Disney plans. She also was able to actually say that she felt that we had lied to her. She remembers one of us saying that K got sick on planes and could not fly.  I think it is likely something along those lines must have been said at some point--and my wife hates flying passionately so it seems reasonable.

I told Fiona that I felt horrible about how she found out about this and that KC did too.  She was surprised that I had talked with him about it incidently.  I said that sometimes things change and that it was really really hard to convince Mama K to consider getting on a plane but that only by flying would we be able to go to Disney. I simply can not be away from work long enough to drive from our state to Florida.  We talked about how sometimes things in life change and that this is not really the same as lying.  When the statement was said to her (what was probably 7 or 8 years ago) it  was true.  But now, many years later, it wasn't.  I think she got it.  I also told her how proud i was of her for being brave enough to tell me how she felt, and that she needed to remember that no matter how angry she was with me or how upset, I would always love her and always listen to what she wanted to tell me.

Then we talked a bit about how not coming on this trip did not mean she would never go to Disney. Jane asked if I could tell Fiona what she would need to work on in order to try and go to Disney.  I said it was really about safety.  (one of her unsafe behaviors of last week was running head first into a window which was thankfully plexi-glass.)  I said that I needed to know that no matter how excited she was, how angry, tired, frustrated whatever, that she would only use her words and she would not bolt or try to harm herself in any way.

Fiona comes out on Saturday for a visit. We are going to   a chain restaurant that she adores.  It is a hard restaurant for the rest of the family as the vegetarian options are extraordinarily limited and kind of yucky. ( yes I know cause we ate there once with my mom!!) But I don't really care.  The rest of  us can all go hungry for all I care.  My daughter is coming home for a visit on Saturday and that is so much food for my soul that my stomach won't even need food!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Defining Relationiships

It is sometimes eerie to me how something will be happening in my life, and then I will read on line about it happening in someone else's life.  Only they write about it with more authority and eloquence than I do. Because in this case, the person who experienced the same experience was fellow blogger Claudia.  And since Claudia is an author as well as an experienced adoptive mom, she wrote about it probably more eloquently than I could.  You can read her posthere.

This subject of how to best be in relationship with our children and when to be the um tough love parent and when not to, has very much been a topic for the adults in our house.  In large part the subject is my eldest son, Chet, who though 25 functions much more like a mid teen than anything else.  Socially, he is probably a bit younger even than that.

Like all parents, we want our kids to be the best self that they can be. To have the best life they can. Yada yada yada.  Where my wife and I have had the challenge in recent years is that it became clear to me some years ago that our efforts to help Chet overcome his social deficits were not only ineffective, but also causing so much angst and anxiety for him  that our relationship was becoming toxic. He had pretty much peaked and our efforts were perceived by him as more like constant nagging.  I am an optimistic person. But if someone is taught basic social skills daily and still 22 years later can not remember these things and use them, odds are you have reached the "as good as it gets" for them. 

The problem is that there can be a perception that I have "given up" and am settling for less than our son's best.  That was the root of our conversation just this weekend.  K comes from a military home and she truly believes that by being hard on him, she will somehow bring him to a place of greater social ability. 

The hard part was to have a talk that would not come off to my wife like I was judging her but would somehow help her to see that the rift between she and Chet will continue to grow if she continues to use this same tactic. I was so glad to read Claudia's blog and to be able to say that I didn't want to define my relationship with him as a lifetime filled with him feeling that he never measured up. I didn't want Chet's perception to be that somehow he was just not good enough.  If that means that I put up with some crude language (because he doesn't know how to tell jokes he invariably gravitates to something sophomoric and rude), well that is how it will be. I do remind him of time and place, but I try for this to be gentle and quiet, and not at all about whether or not he is "funny."  He wants desperately to be funny.

Somehow we did have that talk.  Being married for so long there is a deep bond of trust between us, even when we don't see eye to eye.  K doesn't necessarily believe me,but she might believe Claudia. LOL  And above all, I know she wants to feel that there is a positive loving relationship between she and Chet.  So she is committed to trying to change the way in which she interacts with him.  Tonight, I am thankful for wise bloggers and for the dedication of my wife to bring her best self to their relationship.