Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fiona Wants a Laptop

I think Jane and the staff at the Great School in the City really wanted Fiona to forget about her dreams about a laptop.  Apparently the dreams were originally inspired by a conversation with her social worker and have somehow morphed in her mind into us getting her a laptop for her birthday.  In all reality I am not against helping her get a laptop.  The stickler is that the school does not allow students on the school's internet network on their own computer. Therefore, there is no way that Fiona could surf the net on her own computer which was allegedly what she originally wanted to do. 

When she called last night she brought it up again.  I really feel that it is important to try and deal with what my kids want without pretending it doesn't exist.  So I said "gee I bet if you had your own laptop you could use a cool art program like Kid Pix Deluxe and make some neat art for your room."  Thankfully the suggestion inspired Jane who then asked Fi to help write a proposal of how she would care for a laptop if she got one, and also a list of what she wanted the laptop to do.  Surf the net was NOT mentioned by my daughter.  She totally glommed onto the art idea, and also added that she would like to be able to play and record music on it. 

I was impressed by her ability to talk about what she really wants, to take some ideas that were different from her original idea and not freak out about it, and to really clearly articulate her vision.  She has come so far.

We also have tentative plans to visit on Christmas Eve day and celebrate her birthday, possibly with a couple of her school chums joining us. I'll also bring her Christmas gifts and leave them with staff.  As I told Jane later in an email, the conversation just felt good to me.  Not just for what my daughter could say, but for the fact that both she and Jane wanted me to be part of hte conversation.  It was a "mom" moment and I was one proud mom!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Walking and Singing a Holiday Tune

I don't expect this is what was meant in the carol "The Little Drummer Boy!"   I love watching my kids make music though.  It lifts my spirits even when it is discordant, loud, or when I have a migraine.  And it isn't always loud or discordant, just sometimes! LOL

Tonight was amazingly warm for November in our region.  After supper we walked through the darkened neighborhood looking at some of the houses that have all ready got holiday light displays up.  (ours is one of them)  It isn't normally pleasant walking in the dark in November around here.  Usually there are chill winds and sometimes icy patches underfoot that worry my wife. But tonight was a bit of a gift from the goddess.  The clouds danced away and we saw Luna, a lovely crescent moon shining down on us. We sang carols as we went up and down the streets (Rob laughing at the antics of the littles--I refuse to believe he was laughing at the singing of his parents!)  It was only about 10 or 15 minutes, but it was a magical moment at the end of a day that was less than stellar.

Reality Check

It is a good thing we made a pre-cooked gingerbread house this year.  The kids and I decorated this on one of the days I had a migraine. They had a blast and I had very little to do other than open containers of decorations.  A good thing as that same day I  made a raspberry cheese cake.  Last night I went to cut the same and serve for dessert, only to find that I left out the sugar!  Seriously, I always pride myself on living life regardless of the darn migraines, but clearly i have to cross making cheesecake off the list of things I can accomplish when in the throes of one!  LOL

It is back to the work world today.  It is going to be a readjustment for the kids.  Back to school work and back to only K at home.  The littles were all ready mourning this last night.  I did point out that at the end of December I have some more time off so that helped a lot.

Rob is starting to think of his future beyond our home.  This is a big step for all teens, more so for kids who come from traumatic pasts.  For many years he has steadfastly refused to think of anything he liked or showed aptitude for that was plausible.  His life goals were things like "win a million dollars"  "play for the Patriots" and I forget what else.  This year he began talking about moving to Italy as an adult.  I asked him jokingly yesterday if that was so he didn't have to help schlep 19 boxes of holiday decorationis from the attic.  He replied that great chefs live in Italy.  (I am sure they live elsewhere too but I am not voicing that!)

So for the moment, he is interested in a culinary career and we can research that further if he feels interested and not threatened by it.  And I told him I loved the idea of him moving to Italy as I would have the opportunity to have kicking European vacations.  We both laughed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Decorating

The holiday elves have been busy at our home and it glistens in a most festive way! I'll try to post pics of various decorations and displays in the next few days so that one post doesn't get billions of pics and get hard to load.   This is one of our new holiday decorations. She is an angel that I got from A*on and she is really lovely.  The reason she does not top our tree is because her fiber optics are battery operated with the button concealed in a most un-angelic place and this would be hard to turn on and off at the top of a 7 foot tree! LOL

Ever since adopting black children I have been really conscious of making sure that my decorations reflect ethnic diversity. We have a really nice collection of black Santas, some AA angels (including the one above which KC has named Alarissa) etc.  Well, last year when Lissa was, in her words, just a baby, she beheaded my tall, talking AA Santa.  Decimated the poor guy.  This year while looking through the A*on catalog the kids spied a new talking Santa and wanted it.  But he is your classic white bread Santa.  I said that I really wanted to replace our dearly departed Santa with another black Santa.  Rob asked me why I was prejudiced against white Santas.  ROFL  Which of course I am not, but I am glad that clearly he is comfortable in his skin so to speak, and comfortable with the way race is addressed in our house that he could joke in that manner.  And  yes, we ordered White Bread Santa!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Over the Highway and thru the woods!

As is often the way, a migraine descends when I have the least amount of time for it. Yesterday I had promised my mom that I would drive the kids and I up to see her.  I woke about 2:30 a.m. with the early signs.  I got up and took some aspirin and hoped.  Woke up at 6:30 and it was still there. Crap.  The only good thing is it wasn't a blinding migraine.  I could see. I just felt crappy.  But my mom is not feeling well, needing a CT scan on 12/5 so unless it was unsafe I was not going to bail.  It was not dangerous to drive.

Migraines are such sneaky devils.  They come often from the release of stress, or a change in eating or sleeping schedules.  All 3 happened this past week so I sure was due.

The kids were so awesome. They helped navigate me up to Nana's.  My direction sense is non-existant.   And my wife is one who can drive anywhere and get you there 50 different ways. Thus it is hard for me to memorize directions as she rarely goes the same way twice.  Over the years, I have given up the trying and just chat and relax if she is driving. LOL

My mom was so glad to see us.  She has some type of thickening of her bowel wall and the CT scan is to allow the medical dudes to get a clearer idea of the scope of this and the cause.  She has been in considerable discomfort from this for a long time, while they tried to determine the cause of the pain. Unfortunately at the same time that this all happened, her middle aged cat became ill and that has really added to her stress and anxiety.

At least for a few hours yesterday, both cat and Nana were entertained by silly knock knock jokes, art work, poems and games.  We had lunch together and then eventually hit the road to get back home.  My mom emailed me how very much it all meant to her.  I know it meant a lot to all of us too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving reminiscence

Thanksgiving.  While I understand my wife's position that every day should be a thankful day and one day devoted to thanks, eating and football is not necesssary, I respectfully disagree.  I adore thanksgiving.  I love the coming together of family.  The jokes, the noise the hubbub.  I love polishing the flatware that my mother in law got in Thailand many years ago when they were stationed there.   I love polishing my mom's silver candlesticks and tenderly washing my grandmothers serving bowl.  I love decorating a pretty holiday table and adding our things--pretty napkin rings and the dinnerware to those things that have come down through the generations. 

It's not so much about the food for me, honestly.  Lots of the food is stuff I would not eat.  Yams that have been tortured in syrup in a can don't rock my world.  But for  my brother in law, who I love dearly, they ARE thanksgiving and must be present! Turkey is something I have not eaten in about 25 years.  But I'll walk a mile for my own home made parker house rolls and I am guessing the rest of those gathered would too as there were only 2 left at the end of the meal!

I love watching the kids hanging out with aunts and uncles and their Pop Pop .  Rob sharing his music, KC cracking jokes, Chet chiming in and Miss Lissa being the diva princess as only a 4 year old girl can be.  I feel very blessed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving

At the moment, my various holiday preparations are under control and I can sort of kick back a little.  It has been (for me at least) a fairly relaxing couple of days.  I have slept in--till 6:30 two days running. That is an unheard of event as a general rule. And this morning because it was dark and rainy out the kids did not want to get up right away. Instead we snuggled in my bed and told silly knock knock jokes till after 7!

I have polished all the flatware and the candlesticks, located the tablecloths for ironing, gotten my recipes together,made place cards with KC, cleaned and spiffed our spare room, done all the ironing and several loads of wash.  Like I said, laid back, Lee style!  Tonight I'll make the rolls and set them to cool rise in the pantry.

In a couple hours my SIL will arrive. She usually comes the day before Thanksgiving and we hang out together.  She feels overwhelmed by all the talking and noise on Thanksgiving day so this is kind of her special time with us.  K is all ready feeling overwhelmed by the hubub that will ensue and will go to yoga tonight to rest and recharge. She also will stay home when we journey on Friday to visit my mom.

Sometimes the differences in our parenting are wildly apparent and sometimes we are so in synch we could be one person.  I personally feel that teens are supposed to give a little back talk. It is how they start to separate and how they figure out when it is okay to do that and when it is not.  K, um, not so much.  Last night she got into it with the older boys because she called our kitchen island a square and Rob pointed out to her (quite correctly) that it was a rectangle.  Truly I have a hard time not laughing at that.  He wasn't rude or swearing and dang it, he was correct!  Maybe because I teach the math portions of homeschooling that matters to me. Geometry is so much easier to grasp when one knows ones shapes!  LOL

But at any rate, between her sinus infection and not loving Thanksgiving in general, I think K needs a break. So Friday the troops and I will set off to visit my mom (who is not feeling well and also has an ill pet that is causing her immense worry) and we will cheer her up. Because silly knock knock jokes, crazy kids and pizza just kind of do that!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fiona post visit

Jane called tonight as Fiona opted out of her phone call.  I am noticing (bit slow on the uptake but I did notice!) that this seems to be a pattern after we visit.  I wonder if it is so painful saying goodbye that she can't face talking on the phone right afterwards?  Jane said she did pretty well after we left.  She had a therapy session scheduled and spent the first part of it doing lots of loud, chaotic drumming in the expressive arts studio, but was able to gradually move from that to playing the marimbas and then to playing the maraccas with the therapist.  She didn't try to harm herself or others, she didn't destroy property, so it was all good to both Jane and I.

Jane is frustrated that Cousin N has floated out of the picture again with no explanation or contact. She is not returning calls and no one knows if something horrible is going on in her life.  Fiona is always impacted negatively by this, and it is so hard to decide if the positives of first family contact outweigh the fall out when this seems to inevitably happen.  I realize that I am a bit over the top about consistancy but I know too that my daughter needs constant proof that we are not going anywhere.

Jane seems to feel that it is reasonable for us to work toward unsupervised visits which is HUGE to me.  I explained to Jane that I have felt terrified of angering a social worker and losing the contact we did have.  Jane said I was not to worry and that she felt that the powers that be would be more than supportive.  I explained that when Fiona was moved far from us and I was begging for her to be closer for visiting to continue that I was told by the social worker then that this was a dollars and cents move and I had no legal rights and had to basically put up and shut up.  Jane did not know that part of the story, it was years before Fi wound up at the Great School in the City. 

But hopefully after the holidays (which historically are trauma trigger days for Fiona) we can get some concrete plans to work on this.  And now. . . back to the regularly scheduled Thanksgiving preparations.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Even More Thankful!

I think I wrote a few weeks ago that Rob's sister Krystal had disappeared from the Internet.  We used FB as our primary contact and suddenly she wasn't active there.  In fact she didn't show up on his friend list or mine so we figured she had deleted her account.   It was especially upsetting as we were trying to send her birthday greetings and I could tell that Rob was really upset that she was MIA. 

I had an email addy that I sent a note off to but heard nothing back.  Today when I went on line I saw her up on the friend list again so I fired off a quick greeting right away.  Told her we really hoped her birthday was as special as she was and that we were thinking of her and wishing her a happy thanksgiving.  She all ready wrote a short post back so I am feeling doubly blessed tonight!

Giving Thanks in the Big City

Today we went to the Big City to spend Thanksgiving a couple days early with my daughter Fiona.  She was so surprised to see us.  Even with a mouthful of food, doesn't she look lovely?  (please excuse doting mom comment!)  She was so surprised to see us and so, so happy!  In the past, being surprised would have meant that she couldn't hold her behavior together.  Much like my Chet, the more she wants a situation, the less able she has been to handle it.  Today, she shone.  We had dinner together--though us vegetarians had to stock up on the sides.  We were introduced around to her friends and peers.  I met her new social worker, Ms. S.  Always good to know the players.  She seems pleasant and hopefully saw how much we love each other and will be supportive should I need her assistance.

After dinner, Fiona really wanted us to play basketball. She wanted Rob to have a shoot out contest with another student.  While I am sure Rob would have enjoyed that, the gym did not have basketball hoops up at the moment. We would have to play that outdoors. Which was not on my list of things to do as it was chilly and with the littles getting over the various cruds that have beseiged our home it was not a plan.  Again, deferring something she had in her mind would never have flown in the past.  This time, though she was clearly disappointed, she was able to accept that we couldn't do it now, but we could do it at some point in the future.  Huge huge progress.  Instead, we played our version of volley ball in the gym. They had a net up and we used a light playground ball. The only rule was you could not kick the ball, anything else pretty much was okay. LOL  We started playing and it was a blast.  Gradually, her peers and classmates came in and began to join in until by the time we were done there were probably 12 kids plus us playing.  Kids swapped sides periodically, but there was no fighting or problem of any kind.  Ms. S. the social worker just stood in the background taking it in.  I gave everyone a 10 minute warning and a 5 minute warning and then at 1:30 I called a time out so that we could say goodbye to Fiona. Lots of hugs and smiles and we left her continuing the game with her friends.  For me, it doesn't get better than that!

Hair Time

I suspect there was a time when I would have never put these pictures on my blog.  Hair with a capital H is a big deal.  Not just to me but within the black community and I feel a huge responsibility for my daughter to have healthy hair, in attractive styles and to embrace her hair in its natural state.  Don't set small goals for myself do I?  Add to this mix the fact that I can't do diddley with my own hair, and you have a recipe for angst!

I spent untold hours on YouTube, reading blogs, and  researching natural hair products that would help Lissa's hair to be as healthy as possible.  And initially it was not all that hard. For some reason as a baby and toddler, she was easier about having hair done.  Sitting for an hour or so while I braided, twisted or styled was fine.  Lulled me into a false sense of security the wee wench did, because once she turned about 3.5 she started resisting hair time.  It wasn't that it hurt.  It was that it was time she had to SIT. And my daughter is not a "sitter."  She is a perpetual motion machine and asking the machine to remain in stasis for an hour or so--doesn't go over well.  Styles of necessity became simpler, because I really do not want hair time to be tears time.  And Lissa's hair is wonderfully thick and tightly kinky and coiled, so I likely will never be super fast at any style.  It is long too, when it is wet it stretches midway down her back.

I also learned that it was OK to embrace a little fuzzies with her hair.  Thank goodness for blogs like "Cherish my Daughter" who talks eloquently about not overworking her daughter's hair.  Which is why I was brave enough to post a picture of my daughter's hair style after she spent the afternoon frolicing in the back yard and rolling around on the living room floor.  Before church, this was  a cute little mix of side twists in the front, and a french braid in the back that went to a low puff.  After an active day?  Not so much.  But it was easy to smooth, finger detangle and band for sleep and will be easy to touch up for our trip into the big city today to spend the day with Fiona.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Catching My Breath!

The past few weeks have been full.  Full in both positive and negative ways.  Watching my kids perform at a coffee house, watching my teen stretch and grow, watching my littles try new things.  All good.  But we have also battled some nasty health things lately--KC's sudden bout of pneumonia, Lissa's bronchial infection, K's cold. My mom has some health issues, as had K's dad.  Work has been intense and the holidays approach bringing stress and joy in equal measures. Actually if I remember back to my sociology days, it is technically called "eustress and distress" but science has pretty well shown that regardless of whether we may enjoy the stressor, the result on our bodies is pretty much the same. 

So that makes me thankful that I have vacation this week.  A week to take things down a notch or two. Today after church I spent over an hour playing Wii fit with the gang and not thinking about work prep at all.If you knew me IRL, you would know that is very unusual.

I wish for all of us to have a bit of time to breathe, to find a moment of inner peace in whatever way works best for you!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Craving Simple

With the holidays coming, things get complicated.  Schedules.  Plans.  Even foods.  They are fancier.  Richer.  To be sure I look forward to them, but I also love simple foods.  Tonight was beans and rice.  Doesn't get much more simple than that, but I had seconds of the goodness; the beans having simmered in sauce for hours while we made Thanksgiving decorations for our big picture window.

And I think, that is sort of the answer to the holiday crazies. Finding the balance that allows me to not lose sight of the simplicity that I love and that keeps me sane, and enjoying some of the "fancy" things that feel special and exciting.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Conversation with a teen

(scene:  teen on a computer looking at a social network site)

Teen:  My friend said he broke his labia and can't go to the gym.  What's a labia?

Me:    (laughing inside)  Why don't you google it.

(teen typing furiously.  Reads definition on Wikipedia.  Slowly a grin slips across his face.)

Teen:  I guess he was joking.

You think?  ROFLMAO

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holidays are important times together

Someone I love and respect recently told me that they did not fully understand why I felt as I do about Fiona and the need to be with her at the holidays.  To me, it comes down to a promise.  I have always felt that when I signed on as a parent, that meant that I would be there, emotionally and physically when my kids need me.  I'll agree that Fiona's case is complex.  Legally, she is not my daughter.  She gets better care and treatment maintaining her status as a ward of the state, much as I hate it.  And numerous evaluations have indicated beyond a shadow of a doubt that her issues are far to complex for her to live safely and happily in a home environment.  Even ours. (I am not being arrogant here. One eval listed us as her best possible option and even at that, the evaluater felt it was not safe or attainable.)

But people are more than the sum of their evaluations.  They are more than the symptoms of their mental illness, and congition deficits.  The fact that she is my daughter means I want her with  her family on special days. I don't like thinking that she has a holiday dinner with whatever staff drew the short straw for a holiday shift, hanging out in the community room with the few other kids who don't have a home to go to. Fiona is always worried that she will drive us away with her behavioral outbursts.  I keep assuring her that I have been here for 10 years and I am not going anywhere.  But I think it takes doing things like being there for a holiday dinner to make that real in a child's mind.  And my heart is painfully oblivious to the legalities of my ties to Fiona.  It beats a drumbeat that all mothers hear; a song of worry,hope love and dreams for their child.  When we are able to be together, there are harmonies and descants, joys and sorrows weaving through the song.  Alone, it is a plaintive tune.  I'm looking forward to descants and harmonies next week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

KC's really sick

I try to be pretty laid back about childhoo illness.  Kids get sick. It is just what happens.  The wee elf came down sick Sunday and had a hacky little cough.  Said cough quickly developed into this strangly sounding thing that was always bad at night, not so much in the day time.  He has no fever and until today his energy was not impacted.  Mine was (LOL) as I have been up an hour or two every night with him when the cough thing wakens him.  He is very good about it but it was clearly frightening to him and he would clutch my  hand or rub his foot up and down my leg as he lay in bed beside me.

Today we took him to the doctor to be sure it was just a heavy cold.  And my poor little guy walked out with a dx of pneumonia.  Sheesh!  He has an antibiotic he despises but hopefully in a few days he will feel much better.

On the plus side, we talked with Fiona last night and we are very likely going to get to go to a Thanksgiving celebration that her school does.  It is next Monday and I am taking some vacation time next week so this is totally doable  I am so thrilled. It bothers me more than there are words in my vocabulary, that my daughter is not with us at holidays.  The rational part of me can totally get that the hubbub of our home on Thanksgiving would not be therepeutic in any way shape or form, but the reality is, i worry always that she feels left out and unloved. 

When I asked and found out that the school does this, was I ever eager to be there! I suspect 90 per cent of the food will not be food I can eat but I don't care. I'll be the most thankful mom there!

Monday, November 14, 2011

And sometimes, it's all good!

Accidently or otherwise, we all have to have that ah-ha moment once in a while! Otherwise, we would not have the courage to keep  parenting, to keep journeying into the uncharted forests of our children's lives and minds and  walk with on the trek.

One of the things I work unceasingly on is being there for each other.  This is a concept that is harder for some of my children than others.  Some, by nature of their disability have trouble just understanding what that means.  Feelings are mysterious, frightening and sometimes even irrelevant to that child. He does try to be present, but it is sort of "by habit."  He learns that it is not acceptable to say "well you should not have done that" when a sibling falls down, but in a memorized data sort of way.  Empathy is hard for him.

Others of my children experienced such early trauma that they are afraid that there will not be someone looking out for them.  Even when years of constancy have shown otherwise, there is a kernel of doubt and fear.  When will I show that I too can not be trusted to keep them safe.

But tonight, while I did the dishes, I set the youngest ones  to making a turkey craft. Truthfully this was "Save My Sanity 101" as they both have colds and cranky is a bit of an understatement for their personalities at the moment!  But they really got into their craft and they became cards.  I suggested grandparents or godparents as the recipients.  Lissa chose to send hers to her nana, but KC said his was for Fiona.  He often makes a picture for her so that in itself is not surprising. But the message was:

Dear Fiona,
I made this card for you but we all love you and hope you and Jane and your whole school have a great Thanksgiving.  Love. . . .(all our family names were then written) PS  xxoo  Without conversation, he knew that we should have all our names on that card so that his sister will remember that we love her even when we are apart.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Planning Yule Gifts

I started shopping the other night.  Fingers tapping across the keyboard; totally my way to shop.  I have to finish the littles tonight and then Fiona is up next.  Two calls ago she asked me if I would buy her a laptop.  I always have a tough time with the logic and intelligent part of my brain vs the parental love connection in these instances. 

I am not sure I can write this sensibly.  If you have not lived this dynamic it may seem pretty cut and dried, and truly it is not.  I know that my daughter has serious behavioral issues that likely mean that she would trash a lap top in a rage in short order.  I know that without adequate supervision she probably can not even navigate a laptop successfully and get it to do what she wants it to do. I have bought her untold numbers of personal stereos, boom boxes, ipods and mp3 players over the year. I don't think any of them have lasted more than a couple of months.

If it was one of my kids who live here at home, it would be a no brainer.  I would say they were not ready for the thing they were asking for and that would be that.  But Fi is different.  She is not with me day in and day out.  The way she feels loved is through looking at her possessions.  Through being able to say to a peer or a staff member: "My family gave me this." she feels loved and feels important.  She looks to tangible possessions as proof of love and of  the constancy of our presence in her life.  And I get that.  If I had the kind of life that my daughter has had, I think I would feel exactly the same way.  There is also a level of parental guilt that I feel over Fiona.  Part of me will always feel that I did not do enough, try hard enough or whatever with her.  All the professional evals detailing the scope of my daughter's challenges are not enough to diminish that kernel of inadequacy that I always feel about her.

So the next thing I knew, the kids were in bed and I was cruising the internet looking for refurbished laptops.  Which i found pretty reasonably.  It would still be an expensive gift, but I could juggle things and make it happen.  I did, in a moment of clarity, email Amazing Jane and tell her what I had found and ask her opinion and this week she called me.

She said that the situation is more complex and laid it out for me. The social worker is a good one and has not dropped the ball. Fiona has a chance to have a laptop. The problem is that the school has safety rules that preclude any student tapping into their internet network. Students are also prohibited from using social network sites because of a myriad of issues that make sense to me at one level and none at another. But it is what it is. So in reality, if Fiona wanted to download music or print a picture, she could not do it on her laptop. She would have to put it on a flash drive, go to staff and they would have to do this on the school server.  Jane said the school has been reluctant to have this conversation with Fi because it will be hard. She will be angry and have behavioral issues and this time of year is notoriously difficult for her anyway.  They are sort of being ostriches and putting their heads in the sand and hoping that she will forget about it.

And she might.  This week when she called, she had her clothing sizes and wants clothes for Yule.  Clothes I can do. And we share a love of fashion and a strong addiction passion for shoes and boots so this will be a lot of fun.  I hope that when she looks at them she can feel how much I love her.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday re-cap

A dear friend and former coming of age mentor for Rob captured this picture of him at the coffee house last evening.  I am so glad as my teeny little digital camera doesn't do well in low light situations and you can tell from the strings of white lights behind him that the light was less than ideal for a lower level camera.

Today was a busy day and predictably filled with spats from littles who were up way later than usual last evening.  That they slept till nearly 7 a.m. didn't negate being out till after 10 p.m. LOL  But I am willing to deal with whiny kid fall out because not only did both KC and Rob perform, but I have a really strong belief that families are whenever possible all there to cheer each other on.  I want my kids to always have each others backs, and if they are not there to share the joys, how will they have the strength and courage to share the lows?

We did our shopping, our banking, made a trip to the laundramat to wash Rob's comforter and visited the library. Then we came home and I cleaned the kitchen and made an apple pie.  We had a last minute invite for a play date for the littles but I begged off.  I know I can handle them whiny, but I don't necessarily think others should have to! LOL

It was Observation Day at dance class.  Once every 6 weeks or so the parents get to see what the kids have been working on.  KC has freaked about this over the past 2 years. Today, didn't faze him in the least.  He is so happy dancing. I love to see it.   Miss Lissa on the other hand, has become "KC Number 2" as the dance teacher put it. Actually not as bad as KC though by a long shot.  She cried for the first part of the Observation time but was able to cuddle with me for a bit and then go back for tap.

Tomorrow is church, and then Rob is volunteering at an ecology center with a friend until choir and youth group.  I love that the kids are busy in such positive ways. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

My heart sings!

I can barely carry a tune but tonight was a delightful musical melange!  Our teen youth group hosted a coffee house and there was the most amazing talent shared. From 6 year olds to senior citizens, there were all kinds of music shared.  (and also a recitation of the poem "The Highwayman" which I remember making my mother read over and over to me when I was about 9 or 10 years old!)

I loved all the music, but I was mighty partial to two of the acts.  KC and Rob both performed.  The fact that KC performed willingly was enough of a gift, the fact that he was happy both before and after doing it, priceless.  He played "The Bells of Michelmas" on his recorder and aquitted himself very well.

But Rob.  Rob played a piece that he has written at his piano lessons with some assistance from his teacher.  It is powerful and so beautiful.  I have heard it once before on our keyboard here at home.  I have got to get my son a piano.  He has talent and the difference in sound and tone on the piano tonight vs our keyboard--well there is no contest.  I can tell that all his teen passion and feelings go into his music and I am so grateful that he has this outlet to express himself in a way that is creative and positive.

At the intermission the teen choir director came up and shared with K and I how much the folks who work with the teen choir love him.  She said he is the kind of student that music teachers dream of having. They are amazed that he has only studied piano about a year.  He has an ability to accompany with percussion instruments and they have utilized him with a large drum (which he did tonight) and apparently also with shaker type instruments.  Frankly I can't play music so much of what Rebecca was saying about his talent, I only dimly understand.  That's okay!  I can and am so proud of him and that's all I need to understand.  And all Rob has to know too.

The night was further brightened by sharing the evening with our dear friends and the kids godparents, G and W.  Special night. Special people. Special music.

Sleigh Bells Ring . .

I started Yule shopping last night after the kids were in bed. Well most of the kids were in bed; Rob was still up watching the Bruins game. LOL  I am so glad that most of my shopping can be done via the internet these days.  It is so hard with our schedules and the ages of the kids to find time to sneak out to stores.  So by my bedtime, Chet and Rob were done and Lissa  and KC begun.  I have to do KC and Lissa fully this weekend and I probably will hit stores for Fiona because I have all her clothing sizes and for that I can bring the kids with me. 

I imagine that some super sale will happen the day after Thanksgiving and I would save big time had I waited. But we hope to take the tribe into the big city for a visit to an art museum that day and I have no intention of standing in lines at the crack of dawn on that day.  There is no monetary value for having time together as a family!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Candy Art!

Because I know everyone wonders what to do with the wrappers from all that Halloween candy. . . Because simply throwing them in the trash is so ordinary. . . I present an alternative.  This is art made primarily from candy wrappers by KC.  It is "Candy Land" in its most literal sense. He envisioned a factory that made the tootsie rolls and used bits of other wrappers to make the cars, the sun etc.
And this is  mine  (because I am so mature, right?  LOL)  Tootsie roll skyscrapers, a skittles garden, a farmer with fruit on his head a la Carmen Miranda and my especial fave--the starburst tree!  Silly but fun!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Eyes Have It

Rob's eyes, that is.  He has glaucoma, and was diagnosed very early in life.  His pressure test was today and I am always a little crazy inside waiting to hear the results.  Glaucoma is not curable, it is something you "manage." And management can have varying rates of success.  Part of the success depends on early identification of the disease. We have that.  Part of it depends on consistantly taking the meds.  We have that covered too.

But there are variables we can't control that will impact his ocular pressure.  Growth spurts, for instance can have an impact.  There are other things too I suspect that doctors will find out in years to come.  All I know is that I want my beautiful son with soulful brown eyes to be able to see the world. 

Today, the pressure was slightly higher in one eye, though still within the parameters for normal.  However for the first time ever, he could not see a light in one of the vision tests that they do.  It is not anything dramatic as yet, but it is that little jab from the disease letting it know we need to stay vigilient and it is not giving up.

It is also a reminder to me how frustrating it is that we have so little medical info for our children.  I know through conversation with Rob's extended family, that it is likely that his father has glaucoma.  I don't know when it was diagnosed. I don't know how well it responded to treatment, or if any issues related to it have occured. I tried to get that information and was not able to.   I wish I had those facts for my son.  It might help the doctors.  It might make Rob feel better about things.  I have read on numerous adoption blogs how much it bothers many adult adoptees to write down that they have no medical history when they see a doctor.  And I get that.  But if you are the worry wort adoptive mom it isn't a whole lot of chuckles either.

Voices and Faces

It really had nothing to do with November being the highly touted "Adoption Month."  My kids have scrapbooks that I started from the day I met them. I have always tried to include as much information about their first family as I know.  Rob is the luckiest in that regard, I have pretty comprehensive stories pictures and contact with extended family.  KC has only one picture of his first mother Y. It was taken at the hospital and sadly, she is not even holding him in the picture.  Maybe she did not want to. Maybe it would have hurt too much to.

She is wearing a sports team shirt for a team that both KC and I root for each baseball season.  And I wrote what I knew below the picture. That she said she loved to write poetry, that she wanted to finish school. . . .

KC had asked to look at his first scrapbook--the kids have upwards of 3 or 4 now each depending on their ages.  We opened it and looked a Y's picture and talked about his story.  He looked up at me wistfully and said "I wish I knew what her voice sounds like."

I do too.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Changing before my eyes

KC is an artist at heart but also has significant stage fright issues.  He had to decide by this weekend if he would be in the recital this year.  He put off the decision  all week  and woke yesterday all in a dither over it. "Oh this is the worst day of my life," he declared dramatically.  "Heart Attack!  Horror!"  Seriously, this was a quote. Ate least I know his vocabulary is good.  LOL

I said that he did not have to be in the recital. But that he had to understand that Lissa WANTS to be and he could not ruin the experience for her.  Also he would not be able to hang out back stage with me, but he could absolutely enjoy watching the show with the family members who would be in the audience.  He went away, deep in thought and an hour later told Miss Heidi at dance class that he would be performing.

Today at church I was purchasing tickets to the youth group coffee house this coming Friday.  The sign up sheet for the acts was on the poster next to me.  I saw KC writing something but truly did not know what he was doing as I was more focussed on writing my check.  When I asked what he was up to I got a withering look and a "duh, signing up for the coffee house of course!"  He apparently plans to play the recorder on Friday and allegedly will practice in front of all of us during the week so that he won't be feeling anxious!  Go figure.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

This and That

KC decided he wants a blog and he has posted a few times.  I do the scribing for him as his thoughts vastly outpace his abilty to keyboard at that speed.  What impresses me though are the depth of his thoughts and the way he organizes them.  Tonight when he came to me, he informed me that he wanted to do a series of posts about his family.  First the girls, then the boys, and I would have to wait to see what the next part is! LOL  Sometimes that kid cracks me up.

Lissa is on a high right now. Her class at church has fellowship duties and she gets to help in the kitchen.  KC's class did this last month and her nose was oh so out of joint that big brother got to the kitchen before she did.

The older boys will spend tomorrow morning helping K with the leaves that have deigned to fall from the trees. Truly this is the weirdest fall I have ever seen.  November and there are lots of trees still leaved?  Really?  In New England?  More than passing strange I will tell you!

It felt good to center and have family time today. The work week is so high paced.  I consciously take three deep breaths in my car before I drive off the site, endeavoring to leave any lingering angst or tensions there and not bring them home.  But the blackberry keeps me in constant contact and I tend to work on it off and on throughout the evening.  Mostly this is when everyone else is abed so at one level it is not a problem, at another level it does mean I never really put my job to bed.  Which I suppose I should.

On the plus side, my tax refund finally arrived in my bank account today.  So I will order Yule gifts asap. I also will be able to order our pellets and I splurged and got Lissa a new mattress and box spring to get her out of the toddler bed that she is way too big for, and a new sofa for our living room. It will arrive on Thursday.  It is not fancy.  I have 4 kids who think furniture is gym equipment. LOL  But it will be new and it also has a sleeper thing inside for company.  And it is not 20 years old and falling apart like what we have now! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pity Party is Over

Well truthfully it was over after about 2 hours yesterday.  I can't really spend hours being morose over something like a promotion.  I wanted it a lot.  I felt qualified and excited about the challenge and changes I could envision.  But it isn't happening.  I had a shower, cried, and then wrote an email to the 3 people who met with me. I thanked them for taking the time to speak with me. Said that clearly I saw things differently but I respected their position and looked forward to continuing my professional growth.   I almost immediately got a very nice email back from one of them.  He said that he was very sorry  about the delay (and he stressed delay, not denial) of the promotion. He has promised to support my professional growth and pointed to the fact that 3 other people under him have been promoted up. He said he believes in promoting from within and feels confident it will be in my future, just not right now.  I don't know if it was salve or truth. I am operating on the latter because I really believe in trying always for the best and though I know humanity means I will miss the mark, I will always be better for having tried my hardest.

Happy Un-Halloween!

 Our city finally allowed trick or treating tonight so we went out for some spooky fun!  The top photo is Chet, all dressed up as his version of Capt. Hook.  He stands on the porch making "spooky" noises or tonight, hollering "Ahoy maties, come get your Halloween booty!"  LOL  It works pretty well as we had a record high of 67 goblins visit him.  I love that we have found a way for him to participate in the holiday and enjoy it.
 Here we have Black Zeus of Black Zeus Painting.  I think it is the expressive eyes and smile that will get him the job.  If I looked at the clothes that particular painter is wearing I might think he wasn't too attentive to detail!  Rob came out with the littles and I.  It is nice how many people give him candy as we walk.  I think others see how kind he is being to the littles.
 Then we have Peter Pan.  Ready to fly!  He is in love with how shiny his tunic is and the soft feel of the pants.
And we have Tinkerbelle.  Lissa picked out the fabric for her costume herself.  I think the wee princess has a good color eye.  She felt the gold and green underskirt reminded people of the pixie dust!

We spent a good hour or so traipsing around. It was more dangerous this year as although there are no live wires down, the limbs of trees and such are all over the sidewalks and roadsides.  Far more often than I would like we had to be walking in the road.  But it was still fun and I was grateful Rob was there to hold either Lissa's or KC's hands (we kept switiching) because I felt they needed that extra help with the hazards.

Then we came home and the littles did the great candy swap.  KC hates chocolate and gives all that to his siblings.  In return, they give him any skittles, lollipops or starbursts.  It is all very ritualized and different candy is worth more than another type of candy.  I crack up listening to the haggling that ensues.  It reminds me somehow of wizened old traders at a bazaar somewhere or something.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Job News

Well in case anyone was waiting with bated breath, I will not be receiving a promotion any time soon.  I had a great training session with a bunch of other people from other sites.  It was helpful and even kind of fun.  Then at 2:30 they pulled me out of the training for what I thought was my interview.

Only it was really so that they could, as kindly as they could, explain that there was no way in hades that they were promoting me.  I do not have sufficient experience logged with the new company for them to feel confident in my skill set.  They are happy that I want a promotion (????) and are in fact willing to allow me to continue taking trainings for this position.  I did have to explain that due to my migraines I was really applying for this particular site. The site which has been my work passion and which is so close to my home that if I have a headache I know I will get home at the end of the day without killing someone on the road.  They did not know I had migraines--which I guess is a testament to my work ethic.  They understood, but it also means that if whoever they hire loves being a manager at this site that I am SOL.

I am sad, but am trying to look at this optimistically.  I am not worse off than I was before.  It is sad that they have so little faith in me but all I can do is be who I am and do what I do to the best of my ability. And I have a job when so many people don't.

But all that aside, it sucks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wish me Luck!

I got a call from our corporate office after I got home from work today.  I am at a training tomorrow and they have decided that after the training they will speak with me about my interest in the managers position where I work.  Gulp.  I am glad that I will at least have the chance to interview.  I hope they see potential in me. 

This was not the greatest of days at work.  We were not told of a key policy of our new company and now, a mere 10 months later, it comes to light.  Sheesh.  When I said that no one had told us of this policy the response was "well I will just start treating you like a child."  Yup. That inspires lots of confidence and faith in my abilities being recognized!

On the plus side (you know me, Pollyanna to the end!) I was told later on good authority that another superior (lots of chiefs in my line of work!) came to my defense, and I was also told that this was just one of those mis-speakings and not a sign of displeasure on the part of the person that said it. That they meant, they should remember to look at me as a neophyte in the company instead of automatically assuming that due to my years in the industry I would automatically know how this firm operates.  I don't know if that is collossal cover up or not, but I am choosing to believe it.  I want to have lots of positive energies and vibes going into tomorrows meeting and that won't happen if I don't believe in myself.

When should I push my kids?

As anyone who knows my family or reads my blog, probably knows, my KC is a performer that is somewhat unique.  He loves to perform but gets the most AWFUL stage fright.  He has gotten through 2 recitals successfully though and has always been very proud of himself when he has accomplished this.  Yet every fall when he asks to go back to dance, it is with the caveat that there will be no recital.  Last year was pretty easy as his teacher did not want any costume money till January. So he had a longer span of time to find and groove there and ultimately to change his mind. This year however, his teacher needs the costume deposit this coming Saturday.

Lissa totally wants to be in the recital.  KC is still adament that he does not.  I truly am always at 6's and 7's about this kind of situation.  I want my kids to stretch but I also don't want them to do something just because I want them to.  I know in my heart that he is a good dancer who really enjoys the experience. (otherwise he would not be asking if we can try to add jazz to his repertoire of tap and ballet!) I worry that if I push him that he will decide not to take lessons because then he is not faced with this dilemma and that would be horrible.  This is a kid who literally dances down deserted aisles of the grocery store every Saturday morning!

So what does a confused parent do?  I explained it to the dance teacher and asked if she would talk with him next Saturday!  LOL Can we all say cop out?