Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ooma's Day

The kids woke me up at 6 a.m. this morning . . . to tell me to stay in bed!  ROFL  It turned out that they had decided today we would celebrate "Ooma's Day" (my 1/2 of Mothers Day) and plans were afoot.  However as my wife, who would orchestrate the plans was not yet awake, they played and chattered on my bed for another 45 minutes while I slept. (I use that term very loosely folks!)

Then K got up and in short order, tea, flowers, OJ and gifts appeared. Cards made with care and love.  Items chosen with thought and knowledge of what matters most to me.  And eventually, muffins, fresh from the oven to savor in bed while I read on K's Kindle.  I feel very loved!

Friday, May 25, 2012

KC at 8

It seems silly to write that as a title. He has only been 8 for just over a month. But there has been a huge developmental leap for him that came with turning 8.  In his mind he is really a "big" kid now and is trying to be more adventurous.  He is my least adventurous child.  One who likes the same foods, the same clothes, the same stories. . . you get the drift.

Suddenly he has started trying new foods. And doing more than swallowing the required "tasting portion" whole and chasing it down quickly with beverage.  He has discovered that some new foods he actually (gasp) LIKES and this has enboldened him to try even more.  I am thrilled. It seemed for a bit there like he was going to live on plain pasta and veggie burgers forever. LOL

He has been more receptive to staying in his own bed most nights.  I am thrilled about that too.  I am a huge cosleeping proponent but he needs to be able to self soothe a bit.  One of the downsides of co-sleeping is he got so used to the sounds, scents and tactile feeling of someone else in bed that he truly misses it, even when many stuffed animal friends are there to keep him company.  But again, big progress has been made.

8 is also kind of the time that all my kids start to be more probing about their adoption stories and KC is no different.  Last night he was lying across my lap and i was rubbing his back for him while we read bedtime stories.  He seemed a bit troubled and I wasn't sure about what.  Finally he said,
  "It is very sad to have no family."
I asked what he meant.
   "Well, I had no family until you came.  I was in the hospital all alone.  I think I was scared."
My heart broke.  I reminded him that his first mother was in the hospital too and he was not ever, for one minute alone.  I told him again about the NICU and how the nurses took extra special care because he was such a teeny tiny baby, and how they spent a long time teaching Mom and I how to care for him before we brought him home.  I waited a bit and then told him he should remember he can always always talk about any questions he has about his adoption and his first mom.

He cuddled closer and sighed, and said he just wished he could hear her voice.  And that he worried that she was dead.  I said it was not likely that she was dead as we knew how old she was when she had him and that put her in her mid 30's now.  I told him about how Y wrote that she loved poetry and art and that I thought those were gifts that he has from his mother and that he will always share with her.  I reminded him that we have her picture in his very first scrapbook and that she is wearing the team shirt of the Yankees who he and I cheer on every summer.

It is all I really have that I can give him now of his story.  I don't know where Y is now or how she is doing.  I hope with all my heart that she is doing well and finished the schooling she wanted to do.  I hope someday she reads the letters I leave at the agency for her every year, telling about KC's year and filled with pictures taken all during the year.  I would love to get a call some day that she wants to meet him.  And I wish my son didn't feel this pain.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fiona's arts night

The kids and I talked with Fiona last night.  Amazing Jane was away but staff still made sure we could have our phone call.  Yay!  They seem to be getting better about this recently and I am pretty excited about it.  :-)  Fiona was in good spirits.  Next Tuesday we will all be together at an event for her school. The kids are all working on songs to sing and will be backed up by a real band.  There is also other entertainment and some other stuff happening.

I reminded her that we were excited about coming to be with her and told her I would be bringing my camera.  She let out this long "moo-ooom" and kind of giggled.  I said she had to put up with it, it is just what moms do and she outright laughed.

Then KC got on the phone and asked her about what she was going to wear.  She must have told him and then I heard him say "how are you going to do your hair?"  (pause)  "Oh a bun?"  And what are you going to put in it?"  (another pause)  "Well you know you need a flower, or a decoration or a hair net or something in your hair to be truly fashionable!"  OMG my kids crack me up!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Plans

I am not good at sitting around.  This bugs my wife who is able to just "be".  For me, "being" is synonymous with "doing."  I suspect I am both hardwired that way and also nurtured that way, as I was raised in a "doing" sort of family.

K dreams of summers where we laze around.  They don't happen, which is why she has regularly scheduled runaway days.  She leaves us every 4 to 6 weeks and has a day to herself to quietly and silently do whatever it is that recharges her spirit at that moment.

The kids and I recharge with jumping into experiences.  And with that in mind, I am surprised at how much the summer is filling up all ready.  We have thus far--a July camping trip for the kids and I, Rob has a July campout with his godfather, the kids and I want to hit a folk festival in a not far off town the last Saturday in July, there is a birthday party at a childrens play area to attend.  In August we have another birthday, another camping trip and KC and Lissa's annual summer party.

The summer party is starting to take shape.  A friend of a friend is doing a free magic show where she will do magic tricks but then TEACH 3 tricks to the kids so that they can do their own magic shows.  There will also be some games that KC has planned during the year and a bounce house.  KC and Lissa made a list of the friends they want to invite.  There are 21 names on the list.  None of them are related to us.  Clearly the folks that think home-schooled children are bereft of socialization have not met my tribe. LOL

Adding in beach trips, and gardening at our community garden plot, picnics and after supper hikes,visits with Fiona, and meals on the deck,  summer is looking pretty good!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Recital Re-cap

This is the best picture I have of Lissa at the dance recital.  Anytime she saw a camera she had such a serious expression you would think she hated the whole deal. Since she told me last night on the way home that she wants to take classes again, I doubt that is the case!  LOL  But for whatever reason, she could not crack a smile.  This was my little squirrel back stage, making a craft.  We parents who keep the kids busy till they go on, work in the cafeteria plying them with snacks and crafts!  

And here is KC in one of his 2 costumes.  This was the zebra outfit which was his tap number.  His calm demeanor extended to both performances and although I was present in the cafeteria both days and walked him and his class to the stage, I did not once have to stand in the wings.  This meant that then I could run (literally) to the audatorium and sneak in the front and actually see how he looks from the front on stage! First time ever!

He is a trooper too as yesterday, on day 2 of recital, the tap on one of his shoes came 3/4 off.  He came over to me and I had to yank the whole tap off.  It didn't bother him though and he went right out and performed as if nothing unusual had occured.

His jazz performance was my favorite, probably because it was HIS favorite and you could see how much he loved it.  Boy was I tired though by weekends end.  Yesterday, 2 of my friends who had worked backstage the day before had tickets to watch the show and needed someone to help their children change.  So I had 3 extra kids to help change into multiple costumes.  By 9 p.m. last night I was ready for bed, though I did not get there till 10 as we have a large and difficult paper job to complete as well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I am shamelessly borrowing Rob's photo of the sunrise from our lanai when we were in Florida.  There were the most amazing sunrises there that week. . . Sunrises are about new chances and opportunities to grow and last night I watched KC make a milestone of growth at his dress rehearsal.

Unlike years past, he had NO anxiety issues.  The back stage crew all remember him and introduced themselves to him and he was cheery and happy.  Not serious and shaking.  I did not have to be in the wings on stage for him as I have in previous years. I walked him to the stage and quietly stepped back.  Last year he would have broken line and clutched my hand like a drowning person.  This year, he just kept walking.

So I got to sit in the audience and watch the rehearsal.  The numbers are so cute and I enjoyed it so much.  I didn't enjoy as much the fact that we were there from 3:30 to 9 p.m. LOL  But ironically, KC did.  (thankfully K could come pick up Lissa when her part was done as it was too long for her to hang around).  KC said that last year when Miss Heidi grouped the younger kids together for practice he felt more scared because he didn't really know where he was in the program.  So he would rather stay later and have the feel of the whole show.  Which makes sense.

So my crazy life is filled with recital stuff this weekend.  Plus we have 15 yards of mulch to spread and yesterday was the first decent weather day since we returned home from vacation. Which means very little of Mulch Mountain has begun to cover the front beds.  K and I have a gigantic piece work order and we have never done this particular job before.  It is due next Friday and while the pay will be good, figuring out the time slots to work on it with all the other stuff going on is making me a wee bit um, crazy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rehearsal Day

Today is the dress rehearsal for this weekends dance recital.  I'll try and post pictures of KC and Lissa in costume.  KC is a zebra in one number and a star in another. Lissa is a squirrel.  KC adores dancing.  He dances everywhere he goes, singing or making up poetry as he moves.  He brought his recital music to Florida and practiced there, and practiced again in our kitchen last night.

However, he is also a child who has massive stage fright--at least till he gets out on stage.  Then he is fine, but the time leading up to it sees an increase in his fear and his anxiety.  I am hoping it is better for him this year.  And kicking myself because this would have been the ideal thing to try tapping over, but as I need to head out to work imminently it is not likely I'll be able to do that.  Sigh.  I've been reading so much about how helpful this is, but thinking that I could not think of at this point a clear focus for a tapping session.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Touchdown. . . you re-entered real life!

We had a very good flight back home despite having our planes takeoff delayed. This was difficult for Chet who thinks schedules are   Yesterday was my first day back at work and a couple hours in, I kind of felt like I was almost but not quite back in the groove.  Work is a super high speed environment and it was hard to leave the relaxed feeling of Florida behind.

Last night was also the night that Fiona calls us and she did make the call.  I reminded the kids at supper that we were not going to mention anything about our trip because it is hurtful to remind people we love of something they could not do with us. Then I crossed my fingers.  It is a big concept for a young 8 and a flighty 5 year old.  But they rocked it out!!!  KC talked to her about budgeting. Fi has begun trying to learn to budget for her "luxury" items (she wants a video game system first).  KC is trying to save for his own CD and radio player so this was the gist of their entire conversation.  Lissa just got the sillies and was goofy on the phone, I suspect that she was so concerned about messing up that she said little as a result. That is okay with me.  Even saying little, she was cute and nothing hurting happened.  Rob talked to her about his girl and asked Fiona what she was going to wear to the prom which is coming up in June.

So tis all good.  The kids informed me last evening that they had talked to K and would like to return to Florida in 2 years. So I guess we will be saving again.  LOL  I was going to make a pitch for San Diego but whatever.  The second trip they want to do Sea World and Busch Gardens and not do Disney.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our bags are packed and we're ready to go

The above picture is Chet and  Rob on the Safari ride at Animal Kingdom.  It is our last day here--the last day of a magical vacation.  I am glad we only did Disney for 2 days, but I am sad to be leaving Florida.  I have always joked that I lived in a warm climate area in a past life and now I actually believe it.  Everything here feels like coming home in that familiar sense.  Like when you have been away from some place of your soul for a long time and return? It is like that for me here.  The architecture feels familiar, my spirit knows the slow easy sway of spanish moss.  I waken and look to the glorious sunrise and watch the sunset each evening.  The huge orbs ascent and descent offer unimpeded views in the flatter landscape that this state offers.

My wife does not feel the same way.  She enjoys vacation time but she is a New Englander through and through. What can I expect of a woman who wants to retire to Miane?  Which is a lovely state where it is cold foggy or snowy 6 months of the year or more! LOL

In a moment of curiousity I googled home prices in the area we are staying at.  The house we are renting feels so luxurious that I thought it would have a gigantic price tag.  Recessions are good for something I guess as comparable homes in this neighborhood seem to sell in the 160s to 190s, and usually fully furnished.  My jaw about hit the floor.

Not that I am buying a home or relocating my family but it is fun to dream a bit.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

That is the Everest roller coaster you are looking at!  Chet and Rob rode that yesterday while I took the littles to the Dino Play yard at Animal Kingdom.  We all did a number of other rides as well but the highlight was really the Safari ride we took first thing in the morning.  The animals are in expansive spaces that so closely resemble their natural habitats you kind of forget that you are in Florida.  Elephants meandering by, lions perched on rocks staring down--not behind bars the way they are in zoos.  After that, we walked a nature trail and studied an amazing variety of bird life in the aviary.

We were home by mid afternoon and spent the entire rest of the day in the pool.  I can't believe that it is Saturday all ready and that on Monday we are flying home to our state.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Vacation, all I ever wanted!

We are on vacation and loving every minute of it.  The picture above is our private pool and lanai at the house we are renting.  I adore it here.  I swear I lived somewhere down south or in the islands in a past life.  It feels like home. The architecture of the buildings we pass resonate with me--as opposed to K or my kids who remark on the "flatness" of the landscapes compared to our northern vistas.

Our flight went well, if one discounts KC's anxiety attack about flying.  (lots of "I just can't do this," and I finally had to sing him his bedtime song and he fell asleep for 1/2 the flight.  And one must discount Chet's delayed motion sickness response to the flight and the drive.  When we got out at a park for the kids to play he announced he was shutting down now.  Say what?  I soon learned this meant he felt sick to his swtomach and like passing out.  Neurotypical people would have noticed the symptoms before we were in crisis mode bu that is travel with Chet.  We got permission to enter our house a few hours early and got him cooled down and resting.  Thankfully, he was fine the next day.

Magic Kingdom likes up to its magical lype. I was as enchanted as my kids.  I am immature I guess but I loved every second there.  The next day we went to Silver Springs and rode glass bottomed boats.  You could see soooooo far down into the springs and the aquatic life was unbelievable.  There were other cool things to do there too but that boat ride was the most memorable.

Today we went to Animal Kingdom. The safari was so incredibly cool and we saw tons of animals interacting in habitats that really appear to closely resemble the jungle savannah, etc.  And it was amazing!  We did it early in the a.m. so the animals were by and large active and alert.  There was also a cool nature trail through an aviary and the birdlife was astonishing.  There were rides too, but the nature aspects were so great that they overshadowed the "park" stuff.

Tomorrow we are hanging out at a science museum and then the final day we are just kicking back at our house here.  Which is also so comfy and so helpful in keeping Chet regulated.  He has his own room and seems to seek out the quiet of "his" space.  He has enjoyed the pool and with it being our own private pool I have had no worries that his slightly over the top antics are disruptive to others.

Rob has enjoyed everything we have done and has spent a lot of time in the pool for a boy who professes to hate the water.  LOL  He has always been annoyed with me because I made him learn to swim but at least he is a good swimmer despite his objections.  And he and KC and Lissa have romped for hours in this pool.  There is a hot tub too where I have spent a brief bit of time, and K has lounged a bit as well.  It all feels sort of surreal as this is all so far from our "real" life. But the chance to take a breath and enjoy something so different and to all be together is by far the greatest gift of all.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dance Fever!

This goof ball is my dancer. Lissa takes lessons too, but it is too early to tell if she is liking it or just along for the ride. I finally screwed up the courage today to tell his dance teacher, the sweet Miss Heidi, that he would not be there next Saturday.  Next Saturday would be the last regular class before recital.  My heart was in my throat.  My palms were sweaty.  I am not joking--I come from a dance family and I know what my aunt or my mother would have said if I had "pulled a stunt like that" (that would be a quote I know I would have heard from them)  before a recital .  Eeek!

Thankfully Miss Heidi is way more easy going.  She said that it was fine and KC had his routines down cold.  That in fact, she has two close friends who come each year just to watch him because he has grown so much as a dancer over the past 4 years.  I was shocked.  I love to watch him dance but I figure I love to watch just about everything my kids do.   But Heidi feels he has real talent and she can also see he is getting annoyed with the flightier girls in his class who don't take it all as seriously as he does.  So, it is all good.  I bought the tickets for the show that will be on the 19th and 20th, and went home with a song in my heart.

Planning for Rob's 16th Birthday

Rob will turn 16 this June.  It is hard to wrap my mind around that sometimes.  In some ways, he is still so very much a kid. Enough of a kid that I have said there will be no license yet.  He is not mature enough for that and still so distractable.  He texts like it is going out of style.  I don't want a tragedy that can be averted by just waiting for a bit more maturity.  But I am rambling. . .

About 4 weeks ago I started asking Rob what he thought he might want to do to celebrate. I said that we could do his family party on Sunday as his actual B-day is the Saturday and he could do something with friend(s) on that day if he wanted.  I gave him a couple of ideas.  He said he would think about it.

I checked in a couple weeks after that.  He still had no clue.  I checked in this past Friday.  No clue.  I said that he needed to come to a decision so we could notify others if he wanted to spend time with them. But that he needed to understand that this was optional. And did not negate a family party.  Or the birthday mural.  He can even still have a pinata in the back yard if he wants to. (I did get a smirk at that one!)

 I said I was just trying to respect the fact that 16 is kind of a big deal.  But if at the end of this weekend he still had no clue, we might run out of time to plan something involving people outside the family.  We have a week of vacation and come back to recital week. The week after that there is something for Fiona, my mother's birthday, memorial day weekend and then we are at the door of his birthday.  He said he would think about it some more.

He finally decided he would like to have his best  friend spend the day and sleep over.  I talked with his friends Mom today and it is fine.  They go to the same church we do, and we can bring his friend to church with us the following Sunday.  The funny thing was that Vicki told me she went through the same thing with her son over his birthday this past April.  And he never came to a decision and she got so angry that they just had a family party. 

It kind of cracked me up as there are 2 years difference in the boys and yet developmentally they are very similar. But truly, none of it really angered me. I told her that I figure it takes at least 3 tries and usually 4.  It is sort of like gardening.  First you plant the seed. Then you water. Then you check for growth. Then you finally see something.  She said I was way more patient than she is.  Maybe, but I think it is more that having multiple kids has taught me that kids will flower in their own time and space and that we can't rush it, or have it happen on our schedule.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's tradition. . .

 Today is Derby Day!  It is also Cinco De Mayo and under other circumstances, we would have feasted on tacos, and listened to Mexican music.  But in our house, the Derby trumps just about everything.  See way back, my "career path" was to be the first female jockey to win the Run for the Roses.  Except I went and got tall. Way tall for a jockey.  And so I am an "arm chair jockey" every year for the Triple Crown races.  I am lucky enough to have seen a number of triple crown wins.  My kids never have.

For the past few years, we have made silly hats, kind of a take off on the extravagent headwear one sees in the stands on Derby Day.  Some were animal shaped, some were garishly loaded with artificial flowers, etc.  But this year, I thought the kids were probably past that.  They helped me plan the layout of the cake pictured above (where Butterscotch is beating Brownie by a furlong). And I figured that and our sweet tea and picnic supper by the tube would be our Derby celebration.

Then Rob--my soon to be 16 year old said "aren't we making hats?" 

See, what we can lose sight of when trying to balance our kids burgeoning "coolness" and sense of individuality, is that it is also the traditions of family life which give them the strength to push against us and find their own path.  It gives security, and something to build on.

So off we went to the craft store.  We found ball caps. And duct tape in wild colors.  We found fabric markers and stencils.  And crazy hats were created and worn.   And photographed for posterity.   

Friday, May 4, 2012

Vacation inches closer!

Friday!!!!! This is my last day of work  before vacation.  Well not really as I am going into the office on Saturday for a few hours. But my last official day and i am so excited.  I have fun doing anything with my kids but a big trip to sunny Florida?  Woo hoo!  I am SO ready.  We have carry ons about packed and Monday I will do the banking. We are not charging anything. I am real proud of that as I have saved and scrimped for this experience for 2 full years.  And in a way, the idea of renting a house really came from the blog world.  I read about the trip  that a bunch of adoptive moms took to Florida 2 years ago and discovered they rented gorgeous houses.  Saw pictures.  Drooled.  Talked to a friend who had also rented a house.  And took the plunge.  I am hoping it helps my oldest to stay more centered during the trip.  As excited as I am, and as excited as Chet is, a week of new experiences and changes in routine for him is a lot.

We have one day planned to do nothing. Just hang at the house and play in the pool and the game room and chill.  It was hard for me to cross going to the place with zip lines off my list of things to do. (I am not joking!!) But there will be other times and other zip lines, and I want to do everything I can to help him be successful.

We have finished up all our piece work to turn into the local factory today so that is all set for our leave taking as well.  My wife has found one 3 hour job on Saturdays that will start sometime after our return from vacation.  And she has an interview on Monday the night before we leave, for a second.  Tonight Rob and his girl friend will get to hang out for a few hours so that the two of them will be able to survive a week apart.  And Saturday is the Kentucky Derby.  Life doesn't get much better!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fiona in 2 yrs

Fiona called last night.  When I picked up the phone she asked if she could just talk with me.  Her voice was quiet, quivering.  I said sure and it was like a flood gate opened.  She cried and cried and through the sobs, told me that she is afraid of what will happen in two years when she graduates from the Great School. That she doesn't want to move to a group home because she doesn't want to have to meet all new people again. . . that staff don't understand this and keep talking about it. . . that all she wants to do is come home. . . that she doesn't  understand why she can't come home. . . maybe I didn't want her. . .

It all pretty much made me want to cry too.  I told her I loved her very very much and that we were working toward overnight visits.  I told her this would always be her home.  I did manage to work into the conversation that although Chet still lives at home that this isn't really his choice. I have not been able to find services for his type of disability and he is not able to live on his own. If you asked Chet, he would tell you that living at home as a young adult is far from his first choice. The conversation then veered a little bit to the fact that most kids don't live at home forever. they do come back home often but usually have their own place.

Fiona had a tough re-entry after the last home visit.  Problems occured on the trip back to school which Jane handled well, but were an issue none the less.  More problems occured during the next several days. Fiona also had a visit from a first family member the following weekend and told Jane that she felt back to back visits from family  were overwhelming and more than she can handle. And she opted out of phoning the Tuesday after the phone call.  All of  which of course, as Jane pointed out to me in a followup email, is part of the problem with Fiona thinking she could live here full time.  The immediacy of family life, the intimacy of things, eventually becomes overwhelming to her.  And her reactions to that are pretty extreme and frequently unsafe.

During the phone call we also made a plan for Fi to talk with her DCF worker (who is new) and to express her desire to live with us.  (I realize that for the adults this means "near" and for Fiona it means physically in my home but we have to handle things one step at a time)  The changing of her case from the extreme other end of our state to our location is key to any of this happening.  We are hoping that Fiona self advocating for this will make a difference.

I also spoke with K  last night about becoming Fiona's legal guardians.  If this will not lose her any services--because she really needs a lot of mental health services that my insurance would not cover--I really want to do this. I have been thinking about it for a long time and it is one thing for Fiona and I to call each other family, and mom and daughter. But without a more official standing, I don't have a lot of clout in advocating for her. I have been so blessed with my relationship with the Great School in the City and with Jane, but truthfully no other relationship with her placements has ever been like this.   I can't just blissfully go on believing that whereever she goes post- Great School that the same type of easy constant access will prevail.

K is far less passionate about this--her relationship with Fiona is less intense. Partly because I think Fiona really scared her badly during the times she raged here and partly because K's work schedule has limited a lot of the visits that I have had. That has made it harder for her to see the strides Fiona has made and for healing of her old scars to happen.  But she is open to the idea, and realistically it could just be me that is the legal guardian  if need be.  I am going to run the idea by Jane after vacation and see what she thinks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Worry Wort

KC is a worry wort.  More so than most of my other kids.  Just now he is stressing over the upcoming trip to Florida which is MUCH closer now!  He is afraid we will miss the plane. He is afraid that he will be scared on the take off because he does not like the sensation of "tickles" in his belly.  We have conversed at length and he is calm, just worried.When you are attached, and have been comforted and raised from birth, that sharing is automatic almost.  I didn't have to go dig the worry out of him with a pickaxe, he jumped into my arms and whispered it in my ear.

But it makes me think about all the internal worries that Rob carried when he first came home. Worries that he never felt safe enough to share, worries that I know Fiona still carries as well.  With Rob, I didn't find out many of them until the past several years and I felt so sad and so inadequate.  Realistically, I don't think I could have done differently than I did.  He needed a quiet, gentle non confrontationial approach.  In many ways he still does. But we have roadways of communication that are much better now.  They are still country lanes instead of super highways (grin) but they exist and they are used regularly.

And now for my worry--Fiona is supposed to call tonight.   I worry that someone will talk about the trip (logical as it is less than a week away) and that it will hurt her all over again that she can't come.   I am going to try and prime the pump with other topics (May baskets that we   made last night, things we have done outside) but they are kids and that is no guarantee.