Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Dreams

I love listening to my kids chatter.  Last night while I was doing up the dishes I heard KC say to Lissa, "Sissy do you know what Friday is?"  She either shook her head or he rushed on in his excitement.  "Friday is the last day in the month of November and that means on Saturday we get to open the first box in our Advent calendars."  The excitement and potentiality that surrounds the holidays has always been special to me and my kids.  The decorations, the giving of gifts, the music, and the seasonal special things that punctuate what would otherwise be a dark and dreary time.

Like all kids, they have special things they want under the tree.  They are not over the top witht heir wishes and neither are the older boys.  In fact Chet wants some cards for a game that he and Rob play and some post-it notes. (He loves to make notes about things)  He is getting more than those things but it was cute how he shared his wants with me.

Likewise  Fiona shared her dream with me when we had our last phone call.  She wants something called Nike high heels.  Since I am such a shoe lover I can not believe I had never heard of these but there you go. Probably I didn't because of the sky high price tag!  Anyway, she wants a pair that are a sort of deep reddish pink with red accents. Sounds ugly but isn't, as I have seen the picture and am not able to figure out how to import it from google images to here. Additionally Fiona is a size 9 which is a harder size to find in womens shoes.

Evenings have found me trolling the internet trying to get a lead on a reasonably priced pair of these shoes for her.  I have tried all my usual stores, ebay, you name it.  There was a store name on the image she sent me and when I researched that it was a man in China looking for a business parner.   I think I will skip that income opportunity!  LOL

But all humor aside, I am seriously stressed over this.  The reason goes back to the year that Fiona first came into our lives. She was 9.  We met about a week before Christmas at her foster home.  All the meetings were set up by her social worker.  We played together and she told me that she wanted only one thing for Christmas--an EZ Bake oven.  We were not allowed to get her a gift as we literally met days before the holiday but we were encouraged to visit her right after Christmas.  We went to her foster home the day after and found that another child in the household had gotten that gift.  Fiona had gotten a coloring book.

I can't imagine doing that to a kid.  And though it was years ago, it remains in my mind.  Dreams should not be lightly disregarded.  So if anyone can think of someplace else to try, shout out.  Otherwise, I am back to google and maybe even my little friend in China! :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Rob has a glaucoma appointment today. They will measure his ocular pressure, check for any signs of vision loss and make sure that his eyes are still responsive to the meds we put in his eyes twice daily.  I am very vigilent about the drops and in fact insist that an adult put them in his eyes. This is because I read in a medical journal that one of the prime reasons for glaucoma not being well managed after diagnosis is that it is hard to administer the drops properly to yourself.

But aside from being careful that the meds go in on time and properly, most of the year, glaucoma fades to the background in my mind.  We have been lucky that thus far there is only a tiny bit of pereperal vision loss and overall he is still 20/20

Yet every time a check up comes due, I fret.  Glaucoma is silent and insidious and the thought of my son losing his vision becomes real  and huge to me again.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

On the Catwalk

I wish I knew why this picture is sideways. It is vertical when I look at it in my picture file but this is what Blogger apparently does to it when I select it.  I suppose that in a weird way it is appropriate for the pic to be slightly off.  This is my Chet, modeling an African dashiki that a friend sent to us.  To say he loves it would be the understatement of the century.  He had absolutely the best time having his picture taken for this post.  Usually photos are so hard for him.  The very mention of it makes him grimace in what he thinks is a smile and you watch his body become more progressively rigid and tense.

The symbol of autism awareness is a puzzle piece.  It is a perfect symbol as it is truly a puzzle.  Not just the "what" of autism, or dealing with the behaviors, but sometimes just trying to understand the thought process, or figuring out what a trigger was, so that a situation can be more manageable the next time. It is baffling often, exhausting many times, and I worry for Chet's future frequently.

For some reason, wearing the dashiki was magical.  He was mugging for the camera and posing in ways I have never seen him do.
Here is another!  I love this.  I love how happy he is and that for this  moment in time, his essence and spirit could shine unfettered.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Visit to see the Nutcracker

Today was our trek into the Big City to see the Nutcracker.  We trained in and made a full day of it.  Actually when you travel by train on the weekend it sort of has to be a full day event. But I'll take that over the stress of the drive and the worry that I might trigger a migraine while driving with my kids in the car.

We cleaned up real well for the event! :-)  Lissa is wearing her new dress that is really an early birthday gift from her Aunt and grandfather.  She had a bun in her hair with a pink ballerina snood thing over it and small dangly earrings.  She was totally sure she was the cat's meoux.  KC and Rob wore nice jeans (Rob) and pants (KC) and sweaters for both.  I am really not a person who says a lot about clothing for day to day wear.  I think kids need to express themselves and clothing is a fairly harmless way of that happening. But it is also important to know what type of dress is appropriate for certain occasions and a trip to a very fancy opera house to see a ballet has a certain dress code to it.  Luckily not only did they get that, but they looked on a par with others there and could see that for themselves.

We had lunch after arriving in the Big City and then took a taxi to the Opera House.  It is a beautiful building with amazing architectural details.  It was really easy to pass the time waiting (we were instructed to arrive 45 to 60 minutes early to insure we were seated for the curtains rise.  Late comers are forced to wait till intermission for seating which means they would miss more than 1/2 of the ballet.)  Our seats were extraordinarily good.  We were close enough to really see the dancers feet and costumes well. (dance afficionados want to see the feet!)  Also being pretty close draws children into a performance.

KC was leaning forward in his seat.  He is the one with the deepest love of dance and when he also heard that his Nana studied with the founder of this ballet company, he was over the moon with excitement.  Lissa was captivated as well, though more by the story of the Nutcracker and the spectacle of it-the glitter and scene changes could enthrall anyone, even a non dancer.  .   .  except maybe my Rob who wrote on his FB a  post about grown men in tights.  LOL  I told him it was still a good experience and not one he has to repeat but good nonetheless.  And he was every bit the gentleman while we were there; sullen really isn't in his nature.

We were home well after 7 which is late for my two youngest as then it was showers and bed--thankfully we had eaten supper at the station while we waited for a 5:30 train to take us home.  My wife is baffled as to why anyone would hang around a train station for an hour or so instead of driving but truly, the time passes quickly and we have fun while we are there.

Tomorrow is Sunday, the last day of this Thanksgiving break.  I have so enjoyed every second of this time away from work and fully with my family.  We have some of our Saturday chores to do tomorrow and then want to make our annual holiday gingerbread house and attend the tree lighting in the center of our city.  It will be a nice wrap up to a really great few days!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Yipes, it's . . . Yule?

 Thanksgiving is barely digested and we found ourselves decking the house today!  We are not normally so flat out full tilt in our decorating.  Usually we do it over a couple of weeks.  This is nice because our house is big and it is not so exhausting.  Or maybe it is and we are just used to it.   But this year, we had to change things up. My wife works several part time jobs and today was the one and only day that we would all be together.  Between her jobs, my jobs and Rob's volunteer schedule, after today, it is never a full complement at the same time.

One or the other of us could surely have helped the kids decorate but we both like it to be a full family experience.  I in particular am strongly in favor of this.  Probably because the first few years after my mother in law passed away, my wife was still grieving and could not be emotionally present (or sometimes even physically present) when we were decking the house.

 So today, it was a Yule tide explosion. The tree at the top looks amazing.  I say this with no lack of pride as I have had trees who had 42 ornaments on one branch and none on any others.  I have had trees felled by children and pets.  But this tree looks great and the kids all helped in one way or another.

My next favorite thing was a new decoration area. That is the top of our new closets in the front hall.  It gave a safe place to show off some treasures I have not been able to put out for a few years.  These are villages made by my MIL. She was so amazingly talented, and taken far too soon. . .

This is a couple of our Santas, one of my many black Santas, and a shiny iridescent fellow my kids adore and a painting by a dear friend and amazing artist, Jane Houghton.

Tomorrow, we train into the Big City to see the Nutcracker!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feeling Thankful

It is quiet here today, at least as quiet as my house ever gets.  :-)  Others might think it bedlam but tomorrow--tomorrow will be bedlam and though I am dealing with a migraine I am lookng forward to it.
The kids and I have made cranberry sauce, and a birthday cake for my BIL's girl friend.  Someday he needs to just marry her all ready! Three pies are baked and waiting in cold storage. We had to go out an buy a one cup liquid measure as my wife took our measuring cup with her to work.  I have two others but they are large quantity measuring cups and didn't do the dinky 3/4 cup of liquid that I needed for these  recipes.  Later I will put dough on for my parker house rolls and that can cold rise in the pantry over night.

The bedroom is cleaned and ready for my mom who will stay Thanksgiving night.  The kids have tidied their toys and cleaned their art areas, and soon I will vacuum the living room and the entry way.  Right now they are all outside burning off some steam.

We have been to the cemetary and cleaned the graves there and placed our winter arrangements on the graves.  I think both my mom will want to go as will K's dad.  It always feels right to me to do this around Thanksgiving.  It is part of the circle of our lives, and though I personally only wish my ashes left somewhere we have enjoyed together (and there are so many I don't care what anyone chooses) I know that those whose graves I tend, wanted to be remembered in this way.

And so, in the season of love and thanksgiving, I share with you a song from one of our favorite artists, most especially beloved by my 8 year old.  May gratitude grace and love be with you all this Thanksgiving!

Love is the reason, by Joe Jencks

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


No, not Black Friday shopping.  I don't do that typically--though I may do some online things this year as I am way behind in that regard.  Rather, this is for Rob who has been invited to a semi-formal event the first of next month.  His girlfriends best friend is having a quinceneria, which is always a fancy schmancy event.  It is not something one wears colorful skinny jeans too.  LOL

Tongya enlisted my help in handling this as she knows Rob is very stylish in a fresh sort of way.  He always looks cool but this is not a "cool" look place.  He has a suit and was fine with wearing one.  I told him later that he might want to check in with her and see what color her dress will be so he does not choose a dress shirt that will clash with her dress.

Tongya instructed him to get a cream colored shirt and a gold tie.  Oh my stars, you told my boy GOLD?  What a brave young woman to tell a lover of bling to get something gold.  But we worked it out and he finally settled on a cream shirt and a gold toned paisley tie.  Enough of a modern fresh look to make him feel his cool quotient has not been diminished, stylish enough to look like he knows how to dress for an event like this.  Now if I can make sure he leaves the house without the leopard print fedora. . .

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving!  Ironically, I did not love it as a child.  I remember being expected to watch the Macys Parade on TV and being b.o.r.e.d to tears.  Ironically in a supreme twist of cosmic humor, my kids adore watching this parade and it is a part of the holiday tradition that they look forward to each year.  KC researches what the floats will be and can't wait to have Aunt Lynne arrive so she can cuddle with him while they watch for Santa at the end of the parade!

There are other traditions too.  The cornucopia above is on the side board throughout November.  KC and Lissa are responsible for arranging the display as they see fit.  They always do a really good job and even if they didn't, it would still be theirs to do because that is how they will learn color and balance and make memories.

I did not take pics of the turkey place cards they made out of foam either.  It is another family tradition for them to do this each year.  It isn't always turkeys, it is whatever seasonal thing sparks our fancy each year. We have stamped gold acorns and oak leaves on cardstock, made indian corn out of cardboard etc.  Nothing hard or elaborate as they have to make about 12 of them and for kids, that is a lot!

And then there are things that become tradition in their yearly use.  There is my grandmothers silver candlesticks that we use as part of the centerpiece each year.  The while plates with the white on white pattern that my wife and I bought years ago dress the table.  And the flatware above is polished by yours truly each year and used for the meal. This flatware was my mother in laws and comes from Thailand where my FIL was stationed many years ago.  K and her family lived there for several years when she was very young.  

As I was polishing the forks and such tonight it occured to me that I never talked about Thailand with my mother in law.  I "knew" their years there from K and never thought to seek out her perspective and her story.  I am sure it was a different story--that of a young wife and mother living in a foreign country. And now, I can't hear that story as she died far too young, when we all thought we all had much more time and many more chances.

I am reminded that my children also have stories.  Stories we have made together.  They also have stories of their lives before me.  Some I have been lucky enough to become the keeper of.  I have every scrap of info that i could ever find for each of my kids carefully recorded in scrapbooks.  They have access to them any time they want and we often look at them together.  But they also have stories that are as lost as the stories of my inlaws years in Thailand.  Things that happened or people who may have touched their lives in some way that I know nothing about. Despite my best efforts some of these things, are gone and unless we make a connection with first family members, are not likely to become shiny polished parts of their lives.  There will be empty places where they know something should be, but don't know what it is or where to find it.

That is why I am passionate about keeping connection with all the people who care about my kids--first family members, friends etc.  There can never be too many people who care about your children.  Just keep drawing the circle wider to enfold them all.  And tell the stories, and make the memories.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What healing looks like for us

Emotional healing is in my experience, sometimes trickier than healing from an obvious injury.  When you break a leg for instance, people see the cast. They watch you use the crutches. They know you are going through PT when the cast comes off , celebrate the fact that the limp disappears a bit each day as the limb regains strength.

It isn't so visible with our psyches.  And especially when it is our children.  It is hard to pick up what is a normal stage of development and what is something that is a result of a traumatic past.  One overlays the other oftentimes, confusing the heck out of well meaning adults and concerned parents. (read that: me!)

But I have learned over the journey of the past 11 years that for us, healing looks like:

Fiona calling me Mom in front of her biological cousins and aunts

Fiona being able to share her pain in both words and tears instead of rages and destruction.

Fiona being able to call home to us after visiting with us.

Fiona wanting to give gifts to us instead of only receiving them.

Rob talking on the phone at night with friends so long the phone needs to re-charge.

Rob sharing a movie with me or debating the merits of a music artist that we both listen to.

Rob putting down his coffee on Sunday to go do the weird jump and chest bump thing that guys do with one of the guys from church.

Rob making a reservation on the phone for he and his girlfriend at a popular local restaurant.

Fiona making plans to share Christmas Eve day with us at home.

Fiona wanting both her adoptive family and her biological family to be in relationship with each other.

Fiona starting to make plans for her future as an adult and wanting to share those dreams with me.

Rob teasing me in front of his friends, respectfully, but teasing.

People who have not parented children who have suffered trauma may not see how huge each of these things are to me. For us, they are true causes of gratitude and celebration.  I remember vividly wondering if Rob would ever be at ease. Anywhere.  He always could make friends easily.  I think that is a combination of his personality and a survival mechanism. But he was not at ease.  He was guarded always. Waiting for an angry adult.  Waiting for me to say there was no food.  Waiting for the disappointment of a broken promise.  And more.

Fiona was also guarded but our relationship was (and to some extent still is) complicated by her disabilities and the fact that her loss and trauma history is even greater than her brothers.

There are always bumps in the road.  Unlike a broken leg, progress is often uneven.
 Yet they are healing.  They grow, they shine and that is all anyone ever wants for their kids.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How do you define family?

My wife and I are usually on the same page.  .  .  except when we most spectacularly are not!  A few days ago she explained to me that she was not comfortable with sending out a holiday picture including Fiona. That Fiona was "not our daughter" and although she was family, because she is Rob's bio sister, I was not facing up to the facts.  Well that is sort of the cliff notes version.  It was a pretty long and extended discussion.  I responded that for me, Fiona is my daughter and I am committed to her and in relationship with her in that manner.  I could not dictate how my wife saw their relationship but neither could she dictate mine. I feel strongly--all right more than strongly--that you hang in there with kids for the long haul.  I also see family as defined in a wider array of situations these days.  It is absolutely true that Fi is not legally my daughter and it is true I have not raised her in the traditional sense of the word.  But it is also true that she looks to me as a mom, asks counsel of me that is typical of kids from parents and craves the support and acceptance of me as a parent. The fact that she lives at school in the Big City is very superfluous and does not make me not a parent. There are other kids at the school who also don't live at home.  There are other kids that are day students.  Again, that does not define the role of parents in the lives of the children. I also pointed out that ALL the kids view Fiona as a sister, not just Robbie.  The littles are as excited as anyone that she is coming on Christmas Eve.

I was pretty hurt by the conversation but we ended it all civilly and she went up to bed.  I was too restless to continue work so I went up as well and lost myself in a good book for a few hours.  The next morning she said she owed me an apology.  She had chatted on line with several friends who are also foster or adoptive parents and overwhelmingly, the concensus supported my view that Fiona is our daughter and that there is nothing amiss about a holiday snapshot with her in the photo. K said that further reflection on her part made her decide that her feelings stem from unresolved guilt on her part that Fiona had to be removed from our house.  In her mind, saying she could not parent Fiona in our home made her not a parent, and she had not really spent time thinking on this or thinking how to redefine their relationship.  In her defense she is typically working when we visit or call so her opportunities to deepen a connection are more limited than mine have been.

It all wound up so much more positively than I could ever have expected a mere 24 hours before.  I am sorry that K is still feeling pain over the disruption in ways that I have come to terms with over the years.  But I am glad that we had a chance to talk things through.  And I am still glad that Fiona is in our family photo and coming on Christmas Eve!

Anniversary Day

It doesn't seem possible and I don't think I  am ready for it, but today is Rob and T's one year anniversary.  Rob has planned a nice day for the two of them.  I will pick her up after we finish our morning stuff and they will come back to our house. They are making cookies together (pumpkin penuche!) for fellowship at church. They are both in youth group and the youth group is responsible for food this week.  Then T wants to "walk around" our city.  There is not much to see but she lives about 15 minutes from us so Rob is going to show her such sights as exist.  Rob has made a reservation for them at a nice restaurant.  A local family owned business, not a chain of sameness like going to a place like Applebees or TGIFridays.  Nothing wrong with any of those in some circumstances but this place has been owned by the same local family for many years and the service and food can not be beat.  Plus in the evening there are little candles and a nice ambience for an occasion such as this.

Two years ago , maybe even at the start of this year, it is not likely Rob would have planned all this--even with help.  Yes, I did offer suggestions, and i did explain about how to make a reservation and why you did that. But he followed through on everything. I am so glad that T is a really sweet and lovely girl with a good head on her shoulders and lots of plans for her future. She is someone that I feel comfortable with being so important to my Rob.

Happy Anniversary guys!

Friday, November 16, 2012

American Girl

Two ways to bring home the Bitty Twins. Bitty Twins + Book (two dolls, two outfits, and a book), $105. Bitty Twins Starter Collection (includes 18 pieces!), $185 - Save $20. Choose your Twins.

The flood of catalogs has begun.  I try to get them into the recycling before the kids see most of them. But inevitably, some squeak by me.  The kids pore over them and wishes and dreams are voiced.  Yesterday, the American Girl catalog came.

Lissa could care less.  KC kept trying to show them to her.  She kept on ignoring him. Finally when she was in bed, he sat down and pored over it for himself.  He wants an American Girl doll in the worst way.  He read the stories of each doll aloud to me.

And you know what rots?  I don't care one whit that he wants an American Girl doll. But the only way to get a boy American Girl doll (OK I fully realize how weird that part of the sentence looks) is to buy the Bitty Twins shown above.  I can't have the only kid who wants a boy doll.  Can't we have American Boys?  Sigh. I see Itty Bitty Twins in our future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Improving Spaces

The big reveal!  Or at least an attempt at it!  The work room we just renovated is pretty large and oddly sized so it is hard to figure out how to best take pictures.  The room is sort of in 'zones.'  Above is the craft zone. This is an old particle board armoire that K and I used to use for clothing about 15 years back.  With wire shelving and painted the same cheery red as our front hall, it is a great way to store the craft supplies. There are bins that were repurposed from a toy storage set up that the kids no longer use and two bulletin boards were added to the side.
 In the second shot you can see "my" zone.  I finally have a really functional computer center.  I have two lovely shelves (also in the same cheery red to carry the color punch through the room.  These are mounted on a door we do not ever open.  In a les cost concious world we would remove the door and dry wall it but this is the save a penny version not "This old house!" LOL  Everything I need for correspondence and bill paying and filing is at my fingertips and it is so so easy to keep neat.  Behind my area starts the homeschool area with the big bulleten board for kid art.
 This shot gives a good view of the color we painted the paneling.  I call it barely yellow, but the color on the can says "full moon."  It is such a wonderful change from the totally dark floor to ceiling paneling we had before.It is scrubbable paint and it also covered the paneling beautifully with just two coats and a coat of primer. We did not fill in the grooves of the paneling and the result is somewhat reminiscent of bead board.  In the corner is a bookcase we got surprisingly inexpensively and it stores all the homeschool curriculums for the kids. On top of it are 3 red knick knacks that we grouped there (things we all ready owned just relocated) to carry the accent color through the room.
KC's "new" homeschool desk.  This was my desk growing up so truly the only new thing here is that it is new to him and the light on it.  Lighting is still wonky in this room, so table lamps are important. The cool thing about this light (aside from the fact that it was not expensive) is that it also has a built in pencil holder.

I did not take a picture of the piece work area, which is also newly organized and takes up a smaller portion of the room.  I think that it probably always could have but we did not realize it.  Originally when we started doing piece work in this room, we had to have baby gates up to keep the littles safe. The gates came down a few years ago but it did not occur to us to look at the space in any way other than the way we had been using it before.  At some point (tax return time?)  I am looking to purchase a small laptop table for my wife. They are very inexpensive and I would also like a small but comfy chair for when we are teaching or reading to the kids.  I also have plans to repaint a few wooden tv tables that we have (have not exactly decided how yet) and use them as end tables. They would be helpful but easily folded up if the room needed more space for the piece work at a given time.

Fiona Calls

Fiona called last night.  Actually Jane called to say that Fiona had walked out of the room and was not likely to call because she had been highly agitated for the past several hours.   At which point Fi surprised all of us and walked back in and asked to talk only to me.

I am not sure what was bothering her--sometimes it is hard to tell.  She has another off campus visit on Monday night with her cousin and cousin's young daughter.  Cousin wants Fi to be able to come to her house for a few hours on Christmas so they are working diligently to make sure that this happens.  I think Fiona is excited about this but she also may be equal parts anxious.

It wasn't the greatest call but at least we were able to connect and on a hugely positive note, there were no outbursts or behavior issues when she came back to school after our visit.  That is the second time in a row for that now and that I think is a huge success.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tis not quite the season. . .

This is going to be our holiday picture to send out with our cards this Yule.  Fiona was out to visit today and we got the picture.  I am not the photographer my wife is and K was not home, so I snapped 6 or 8 shots and this was the best.  I am more about the memory and everyone looks happy so I am good to go!  It means so much to me that Fi is int he picture with us. That is more important to me than any elaborate setting for the shot or even Lissa standing up properly. LOL (you may have deduced that she was not intending to do that today!

It was a great visit today.  We did some stuff here at home, and we also got to a store and got Fiona a really cute shirt and a neat knitted vest with a faux fur collar. We stopped at the Harvest event at my job also.  I am so lucky.  This may be our Christmas photo but my thanksgiving in my heart is that Fiona is able to be so connected with us.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiona Visits Tomorrow!

Fiona is coming tomorrow. She will in an ideal world, be here shortly after we return from dance classes and stay about 4 or 5 hours.  I am so excited.  This will hopefully be our longest visit yet and puts us a step closer to overngihts.

I have the holiday hats purchased so that we can take our family Yule picture while she is here and I hope to take all the kids to my job. The residents and one of my coworkers are putting on a harvest social.  We used to do a lot of programming for kids when we were owned by a different company.  The focus of my present company is different.  I don't really share the vision but the good thing is that despite their refusal to do this type of programming, there is enough interest in filling the need that people have stepped up to do it.  It is low budget but it is something and I think that is fantastic. I also feel as part of management that it is important to show up, even briefly, and show support for the resident efforts.  I am also going to try and take some pictures.  I have never been able to bring Fi to my work and am looking forward to a chance to do that with her.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The election is over!

The rhetoric will be (mostly) done.  I love politics and thinking through issues but even I am exhausted by the amount of advertising and blitzing that has occured with this election.  What I am pleased about though is the increasing involvement in a very open manner in politics by movie stars.  For my kids, listening to JayZ do a PSA is cool to them.  Frankly for me, listening to Matt Damon do one is kind of cool too! ::-)  For the kids and I these announcements were a springboard for talking about how important voting is.  It is more than a right, it is a privilege. One that many people die for in countries around the world.  Knowing that people who  they admire or think are "cool" feel that voting is important is helpful.

We  have also always brought our whole family to the polls when we vote.  We want our kids to see the process, to see our commitment to it. We talk in age appropriate terms with each of them about who and what we support and why.  I am also vigilent that we do not speak disparagingly about a candidate or issue even if I feel strongly against them.  I want them to understand that there will always be differences of opinions but we don't have to be hateful about it.  Some of the things I read on social media that so-called adults say to one another when they disagree make my hair curl!

Something else that makes my hair curl. . . in our next presidential election, my son Rob will be old enough to vote and Fiona was old enough to vote in this one.  Where does the time go?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Supporting Families to avoid adoption

In general, this is laudable and sensible to me. Even as an adoptive parent who loves my children passionately, I know that they are mine because of a deep loss. A wound that all my love will not heal.  However, I am deeply conflicted as to what constitutes supporting a marginal family so that the family can be a safe home for a child.

In a largely unbloggable work situation about a week ago, a child was in a dangerous situation.  It is pretty apparent that the parent was utterly unaware of the danger her young child was in and equally clear that this situation was not the kind of thing most parents would ever be unaware of.  Thankfully, nothing horrible happened to the child.  I called the authorities however because of the danger the child had been in and the lack of awareness that mom expressed over the situation.

My call was "screened out."  I got a form letter saying that the agency is all ready working with the family.  Yippee.  The mother and the case worker subsequently showed up at the office to explain to my boss how diligently the mom is working her plan.

This is the biggest load of you know what I have ever seen.  This was not the first incident I had ever witnessed with the family, only the most dangerous and egregious.  I know we are all human and can be fooled by someone who can spin a good story.  I know too that to work in human services one must have an optimistic nature that believes that a situation can change for the better.  And most times, I actually believe that too.

I don't in this particular case and it angers me to the point of incoherence that a child's safely and well being are treated in such a cavalier manner. That said, I don't know what the answer is, so it is probably unfair of me to be so scathing.  I also know of cases where I believe  DCF has acted precipitiously and unfairly, removing children from homes and situations that could have been worked with.  Like so much in our society these days, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Politics and kids

We were driving yesterday and KC asked if I was voting for Scott Brown or Elizabeth Warren.  I told him that i was leaning toward Elizabeth Warren.  He said if he was voting he would vote for Scott Brown.
****Disclaimer**** I don't think Brown has done a bad job in the Senate. Most particularly I have admired the fact that despite looking like a tea party poster boy in the last election, he has been remarkably moderate and centrist.   However there are a couple of key issues that make me lean toward Warren.

Anyway, back to my conversation with my 8 year old.  When I asked why he would vote for Scott Brown if he was voting he enumerated his answers.

1.  He looks friendly and like he could be a neighbor.
2.  He was calm.
3.  He was strong looking.

I found it interesting as sometimes I think we have become so polarized in this election that it is literally statements like these that people are using for the decision making process.  This election has been rife with demonization of candidates by their opponents at almost every level. I find this very sad as it takes our minds off the real issues.  Whoever is elected, I hope that they will work with fellow senators.  The needs of our nation require that we learn to (or perhaps re-learn) the art of cooperation and leaving behind partisan politics.  Or, in the words of my young son, we need calmness.  And we need to remember that our nation as a whole are "neighbors,' and learn to think for the greater good.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Post a Day for 30 days????

There was a time when that would not seem daunting.  I love to write. It helps me process my feelings, my place in my corner of the world, and wrestle with issues much larger than myself.  It is just that life keeps getting in the way of that active mediation called writing!  I am going to try and carve out time diligently this November though.

I was reminded on another blog that November is Adoption month.  You might assume that I am thoroughly behind this celebratory view of adoption since this is the institution that has allowed me to have a family.  And I am grateful.  I love my children with every fiber of my being.

However, the very fact that they are my children now, means that they have experienced huge loss.  For all of them, this is experienced and shared with me, very differently.  KC at 8 wants to actively search for his first mother Y.  I have gotten no help at all from our adoption agency.  And here, I find myself angry and concerned.  It seems to me that an agency should have resources to help first mothers and adoptees find each other.  But apparently they don't.  If a mother comes knocking, they contact the adoptive family but that is the extent of it.  Inadequate is an understatement.

I am lucky that I have a lot of personal information that will hopefully aid us in the search for Y.  I am searching the internet in a variety of ways, but if anyone who happens upon my blog knows of a really good way, shout out!

I am glad that KC is comfortable sharing his feelings so honestly with me.  He is also happier for seeing that I am committed to helping him in his search.  What I hope he does not see, is how much it hurts me when he says "the search for my real mother."  I know this is a hot button in adoption circles.  There are a lot of people who may well feel that I am not his "real" mother.  I rather subscribe to the Velveteen Rabbit philosophy of "real."  My motherhood is made real by my love and continued non judgemental presence in my children's lives.

I know in my heart that what he is speaking to is the biological connection when he says this.  KC is an artist.  He notes the smallest details in the world around him.  Facial similarities and even similar likes and gestures are not lost on him.  I don't know what the search for Y will ultimately reveal.  My hope is that it widens the circle of our family, that we build a relationship she is comfortable with.  Maybe. . . it will happen this November.  That would be an adoption month to celebrate!

Teen Trip

It is Friday night and my Rob is en route to another New England state with our Youth Group. They will get together with other UU teens for a "lock in" event.  He is quite excited about it and his packing skills are improving a bit with all the travelling that he has been doing lately.  For some reason he typically forgets pajamas, a toothbrush and other essential type things.  What he remembers?  Cologne, fancy shirt, Axe deoderant and his jewelry.  It's all about priorities when you are 16!  This time though, he got it all. (drum roll should sound!)

He and his girlfriend are coming up on their one year anniversary and he is trying to decide on the best place to take her out to dinner.  It is very cute watching him sweat over this.  In their relationship, typically his girlfriend is the planner. She is a go-getter and Rob is happy to follow her lead.  (thankfully she is a go getter in a positive way!)  But I mentioned to Rob that I doubted very much that she wanted to have to call him and ask what they were going to do for their anniversary so he should consider taking point on this.  He has been checking out restaurant websites on line and even (gasp) looking at the menu of the one I suggested!

Our work room/library is almost completely repainted.  My wife is a speed demon at painting.  I should not be surprised. Back in the 80's we ran our own painting and cleaning business on the side while still working full time at our housing job.  I loved it but as Chet got older, we wanted to have more family time and we closed up shop. The skills stayed though! Pictures will be posted once the furniture is arranged and the bulletin boards arrive etc!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


As we launch back into renovations, we have also done some re-purposing.  I try to be as frugal as I can.  With 4 kids at home, I would rather put money into their experiences than "stuff."  Dance and piano lessons are not cheap. Neither is away camp for Rob etc.  But they are also things that enrich them far beyond any measure of money.

KC needed a head board for his bed.  He did not have one as initially his bed was in my room as I worked on getting him used to sleeping alone.  The bed having no headboard made the walk patterns easier.  When he made the leap into sharing a room with Rob, I just tucked the bed into a corner and figured he did not need a headboard.  Which he really didn't from a practical standpoint. But he looked over at his brother's headboard and suddenly thought that I was going to go buy him one.  Wrong.

However we had a storage system we were no longer using.  Three shelves high, it has 9 cubes built into it for storage.  We let him paint it in the colors of his choice.  My wife made a base for it and stuck it behind the bed. Voila!  He has a headboard with lots of storage.  The bottom 3 cubes are hidden by the mattress but 6 are available to him as well as the top of it of course.  He is thrilled.  I am thrilled.  It all cost the $4.00 for paint!

Miss Lissa needed a way to store the plethora of stuffed animals in her room. She and KC have a very grand time playing with all these little stuffed cats and dogs that my mom got them for Yule a couple years back. But they wind up all over the floor and I don't love that.  If i were to run in her room at night in the dark to help her, I would probably kill myself sliding on a stuffie!

We had another small storage unit that was supplanted by our new front hall closets.  By turning it on its side it became a low 3 bin storage center that fits perfectly under her window.  The top is almost like a window bench for her.  3 baskets tuck into the sections, one for cats, one for dogs, one for their paraphenalia.  She too got to paint it up (in her fave color pepto bismal pink!)  Less paint for this one, $2.00

So while some renovations are costing, some things are not costing anything but creativity and a bit of time.  Also they involve the kids and engage them in looking at ways that work for them so that hopefully cleaning is just a part of life and not a source of strife. (that wasn't meant to be a rhyme, guys!)