Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Rob went out with his girlfriend last ngiht and came home a bit later than his curfew.  I went out to the kitchen prepared to remind him of his responsibilities but stopped short when I saw his face.  Something was wrong and he had a really heartbroken look on his face.

He literally fell into my arms sobbing. Rob's taller than me, so I suspect we were quite a picture!  Rob is not a fellow who cries often or easily.  As a young child he would scream in terror but I can count on one hand the number of times that there were tears of sadness or even of anger.  I think that early experiences in his life taught him not to do this.

He was beyond words for a few minutes but eventually was able to share that he was feeling emotionally overwhelmed after meeting J. Last night was not the itme to start delving deeper.  It was just a time for holding, and reminding that he is loved and he does not have to figure this out on his own.  I told him the same thing I told Fiona on Saturday.  That conflicting emotions are normal, and that we are family and here for him. But in the days and weeks to come, we need to work together on this. I hate watching my kids hurt.  I rarely have trouble sleeping but I did last night.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Celebrations and Reunions

So today I drove to a very big city to Rob's brother Dee's baby shower.  It was a great day. I was exceedingly proud of the fact that I navigated there without "side journeys" (aka getting lost) due to my abyssmal sense of direction!  Traffic was horrid and that made me feel stressed insdie but I think I did well getting through it and not conveying my terror of highway driving  LOL

We got there and met Dee's fiancee--that would be the young woman with the wide smile and the lovely melon dress in the picture. We hit it off instantly, she and I. She has a bubbly personality, is absolutely over the moon happy to be having a baby, and she and Dee are very deeply in love.  It is wonderful.  It was great to see Dee again.  It has been far too long since we got together.  He and I have also always hit it off.

There were cousins that Fiona and Rob have not seen in years.  There was their sister Krystal who they have not seen in years.  That is her on the far right in the picture. I had worked hard to prepare Fiona for the day. We had wrapped gifts together and talked about how baby showers work because she had never been to one before. I had filled her in on the folks I knew would be there.  What I did not know was that their birth mom was coming.  That is J on the far left.  J did not know we were coming either. I think Dee genuinely didn't think about it.  He and his fiancee did this shower themselves; I thought family were throwing it for them but that wasn't really the case.

Luckily I overheard that she was coming from the train station and had time to talk with Fi and Rob in advance.  So although to say they were prepared would be an over statement, they were not blindsided.  Poor J was though.   I felt badly for her as she sort of fell apart when she saw the 2 kids. (acutally she walked past Rob first, not knowing that the tiny fellow she once held was now a strapping young man) She and I went outside to a lovely courtyard and sat together.  I'd never met her, but we connected.  We both hugged and cried. I told her what good kids they are. She had not recognized Rob when she first came in and I think that was perhaps the most painful thing for her.  I spent time talking about hte fine young man that he has grown into.  How he is a quiet fellow but when he has something to say it will be deep and from his heart.  J said she is like that too.  It was good to share stories about the kids, to hug and cry together.  I am incredibly blessed and love my kids more than there are words for.  I also recognize though that our family is built on the fracturing of another family.  However I hold an image in my mind that I saw on the internet. It is of a Japanese art form where cracked bowls are mended with beautiful threads of gold.  I think at its best and most thoughtful, building families through adoption can be like that.

When J felt stronger we went back inside and the kids spent time with her.  She had also brought her youngest daughter who is 9 and whom she is parenting. She and Lissa played  together.  R is wearing the pink shirt in the picture.

On the way home I stopped at a nearby Dunkin Donuts and sent all but Fiona in to pick up some fuel for the ride home for us all.  This gave Fi and I a chance to talk together about how she was feeling.  It was her turn to cry and to share some of her conflicted feelings.  She was glad though that her big dream of all of her family-adoptive and biological--being together happily had come to be.  She also recognized that the day may have been hard on KC who has not been able to meet his birth mother although they do have intermittent contact by letter. We did not have more than maybe 10 minutes or so before the troops were back with some food but it was enough  (I think) for reassurance and for reminding her that J can love her and she can love J and I will still love her.  She can also feel happy AND sad about J.  It is okay to have more than one feeling about someone.

I think it went okay because although I had brought a prn in case she needed it, she did not and the homeward trek was pretty normal.  Singing to the radio, talking and acting like her typical self.  I have emailed a lengthy post to the group home so that they will be aware of all that transpired. Meanwhile, I am feeling incredibly blessed that this reunion was able to happen.

Yesterday, at least for that moment in time, the gold threads of healing were shining in the cracks of our large family.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Planning for a festive Saturday

I am dancing inside with excitement.  Fiona's group home has a new clinical director and I really like her!  I am totally totally over the moon with excitement to have her as part of my daughter's team.

For the first time since she went to the group home, I have felt like I am not tilting at windmills and justifying myself six ways from Sunday.  But let me back up, so poor confused readers can see my excitement.

Fiona and the rest of the kids and I are going to go to her bio brother Dee's baby shower tomorrow.  I know how very very much Fiona wants to attend this. I also know that it is not likely that she will get lots of opportunities to see Dee or other members of her extended family. With their work schedules and transportation issues, it is challenging to orchestrate.  So this is a great time to get together.  A gathering like this is typically less stressful for my daughter as she is a social butterfly and loves to flit and chat with lots of people. It is when things get more deeply personal that she struggles.

Dr. C, the new clinical director called me this week and we had a very long, very productive discussion about the event, Fiona's issues, my plans for addressing issues that could come up or that have shown up in the past etc.  At the end of the conversations she said that I had a really good plan in place and that she would meet with the team and recommend it be approved.

The next day I got an email from the house director, that copied Dr. C saying my daughter has a consult to have her wisdom teeth extracted that same day.  While the procedure whould not happen then, they wanted to take her to the appointment and then meet me somewhere on the highway and have me take her to the party after that.

This filled my little heart with dread.  Part of my "plan" involves Fi helping to wrap the gifts she helped to pick out and to use that time to talk with all the kids about what a baby shower is.  How people act there, how there is not lots of one on one time with the new parents etc.  The dental visit would make those prep steps impossible.  Perhaps a less directionally challenged person could have that discussion en route. I will need to be totally immersed in the drive to the city.

Dr. Collins called me again last night and amazingly  she shared my concern! She felt that my plan was a good one and a healthy one and that combining the two was far too much for my daughter.  She advised me to contact the house director and ask that he reschedule the consult and that I notify the DDS of my decision as well.  I have done so and hope that all this means that tomorrow will be a day my daughter enjoys, feeling the love of both her biological family and her adoptive family surrounding her and supporting her.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Checking in with Fiona

Fiona was here this weekend and it was all good--till it suddenly wasn't.  I had no inkling of trouble brewing, she was not showing any of the physical indicators that cue me that she feels stressed. She wasn't saying anything that would give me a hint.  However a very mnor thing (KC creating a new game to play with a ball while the rest of us walked a dog) set her off.  She announced she had planned to play soccer. She only wanted to play soccer. We were not fair. KC was mean. She made a mistake having me her guardian and finsihed off the tirade with tears and announncing she wanted to go home.

I know that she has told me when she is calm that she does not like losing control in front of her siblings so I figured that was the root of that request. However she refused to communicate with me and stormed into the house, leaving me to explain to the staff as best I could, all that had happened.

Then I came home and spent the rest of the night off and on consoling KC who was devastated by the outburst.  He and Fiona are very close and he felt blindsided and betrayed.  Fiona called that night and said she was sorry, but I could still hear the anger and agitation in her voice.  I told her I acceped her apology and that we would talk Monday.

I called her after work and she sounded much more herself.  She wanted to know if I was mad at her. I explained that I was not angry, but that I was a little disappointed that she felt she had to run home and that we could not work on taking some space and then talking.  I also said that I thought something else was bothering her because games had changed before and that had never been a problem.  I asked if she was nervous about going to Dee's party next Saturday. She said that yes she was.  She wanted everyone to get along.  I said that I was sure we would.  She wanted to know if I had ever been with all the people that would be there. I said no, but I had met a lot of them and that I was looking forward to meeting those I have ony Facebooked or emailed.  Fiona's deepest desire is for all of us bio and adopted sides of her family to "blend."

I genuinely am not thinking that anything other than a good time will happen.  I think she could finally see that I am sincere in that and seemed to sound more relaxed.  Hopefully she will do well at her program this week and Saturday, we will be off to Dee's baby shower.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Berry Enjoyable Day

It doesn't take much to please me!  A day picking berries with my kids and my wife.  That'll do it!  Rob's holding all the blueberries. Raspberries were somewhat harder to find, being pretty picked out. KC is holding that haul.  Rob's planning to make raspberry cheesecake and I all ready put together a lucious fresh blueberry pie.  Barely made a dent in all we picked, so tomorrow a.m. we'll have blueberry muffins with our Sunday breakfast and then I'll freeze the rest for later use. I love supporting local growers and keeping my eco-footprint as light as possible. I loved listening to the frog chug-a-rumming in the farm pond while we picked.  It was cloudy, as it seems to be most of this summer in the Northeast, but for picking it was nice.  And seriously, with our dearth of sun, we all have learned to have fun no matter what.

My morning glories are growing like crazy.  They are another thing I love about summer. Morning glories are      a flower that just lifts my spirit and my beloved wife planted a bevy of them right outside our back door.   Fiona is here for the weekend and we had a nice supper tonight of veggie burgers, corn on the cob, fries and pie for dessert.  Later in the vening, the kids watched a Disney movie while I did Lissa's hair.  Despite the destraction, my youngest really does not like to sit still for hair.  Normally I do about 10 or 15 minutes of detangling and styling.  Tonight I felt she was fairly captive but she informed me that she wants locks sometime soon so she doesn't have to keep sitting for hair regularly.  I did remind her that they are not totally carefree but I do think perhaps they would be a good fit for her temperment.  It is more having the time and money to get them done at this point.

Exciting Invite!

Last night Rob came and let me know that his brother Dee had texted him. Dee and his fiancee are expecting a child and are having a baby shower next Saturday. We are invited.  I am excited.  I am also petrified as it is in a city south of the Big City and requires me driving us on busy highways in unfamiliar areas.  But I will do this.

I am anxious to see Dee and to meet his fiancee and to celebrate with everyone.  KC and Lissa and Rob are excited. Fiona will find out about this today when she comes for the weekend. Dee is a super nice young man and I am so glad that he reached out and invited us.  In a follow up text that I had Rob send (so that I could google directions etc) he confirmed that he was inviting all of us.  My wife is not coming, partly because she has a hard time emotionally in large groups and partly because her back has really been bothering her and this involves over an hours car drive.  But Rob explained that and I will be sure that she has a card filled with good wishes for us to bring.

Today when Fiona comes she and Rob and I will pick out gifts from their baby registry.  Then we are going blueberry picking so that we can have a blueberry pie with supper.  We stopped at a farm stand and got fresh corn this morning so it's a grilling kind of day here!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Helping or Enabling?

Yesterday was predictably hectic at work but looking at pictures from camping makes me smile! However, bringing lots of folks who don't all know each other super well together had its interesting moments. One family, a single dad with 2 boys and his older boys friend is someone that is "a friend of my friends."  But they only met him by camping at the same place several  years ago.  This dad is loving but there is sort of benign neglect going on.The youngest boy is 5 and the older one is 11.  I suspect the 11  year old has a lot of responsibilities to care for his little brother when they are not camping.

The little guy latched on to the rest of our camping friends like a drowning man with a life raft. He would wander over and pronounce he was hungry, needed a bandaid, wanted to go to the pool etc.  I can not ignore a hungry child.  I fed the boy (and a number of others that would be playing with my kids when our meals were ready) all weekend.

The only time my other friends and I had something close to a serious discussion was about this.  We were all concerned for the little fellow. But my friends felt I should stop feeding him because otherwise his dad was not going to learn. Was I enabling?  I doubt it.  The little boy is 5 and I he was treated the same way by his dad last year when we were camping.  It just isn't in me to let a child be hungry if I can avoid it. Or for them to be scared and bandaids don't cost much either. For this particular campout I always buy extra food anyway because where we are all in this giant field, there is not any real level of privacy and I figured that other people would probably eat with us from time to time. And at some level, dad tries.  The little fellow was petriefied of the pool.  I showed his father the swim vests my kids use and let his son try it.  When he saw Josh go in the water, he dug out something very similar from the storage areas of his trailer and made the kid's pool times much more enjoyable.

Then I came back home and could reconnect with the real world via news and the internet.  I read about the undocumented children and deportations.  I was even happier that I helped that little boy.  There are so many children that I can't.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Camping Recap

We are back from 5 days of camping in the White Mountains.  We were way up, at a campground with friends.  2 families that I know pretty well, one family is a friend of one of my friends and I only know them through our camping adventures.  Between us there were more than 14 kids.  There was always someone to play with, especially as other camping kids began to mix in and join in the fun.  There were late night swims in the rain. There were visits to Santas Village (including bringing one of Rob's new found friends along with us).  We had a few campfires but lots of rain so not as many as usual. Laughter. Card games. Time to read my Kindle. Talking with people I knew and people I didn't.

I loved watching the kids roam. There is an  unfettered aspect to camping that is so good for kids.  The world becomes wider and our rhythms are set to the natural world.  My kids are very outgoing and there were always gaggles of kids at our site, or they were off to one of the adjacent sites.  The sites are all in a giant field so I could always see them, yet they had this feeling of freedom and autonomy.

There really was a ton of rain and I am proud that my kids had fun despite that. There was no whining or complaining. They figured out ways to continue having fun and went with it.  Now today we are back to the work world and I am trying to recalibrate!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Catching Up

I've been busy packing for our next camping trip. The kids and I set off tomorrow around 10ish.  Tonight will see the last of the packing and the baking in advance (muffins, cookies etc) done.  I am so excited to go and the kids have been getting antsier by the day.  Luckily camping for a larger family requires a fair amount of packing and prep so there have been things to do to keep them occupied.

In the midst of all of this we have been changing up the kids bedrooms a bit.  Lissa has  a bunk bed now and sleeps on the top bunk. She adores it. KC is going to have a loft bed, that we scored off Craigslist and which my wife will hopefully put together while I have the kids off camping.  If you think they are ansty for camping--well anythiing that changes their room is even more of a hype factor.  KC's bed will hopefully give us room underneath for some of his stuff but K is also going to go through stuff of his while we are gone.  We never get rid of true momentos but KC is a hoarder and can't get rid of a piece of paper. Any paper. So we have to help him out or else he would have filled the house three times over by now.  And the weird thing is, the more cluttered his space gets, the less he likes being in it. But yet, removing the clutter himself is something he can't do.  I worry that he will be the star of a hoarding show when he grows up!

KC and Lissa have been deeply committed to the library's summer reading challenge this year.  They have both maxed out on the prizes they can earn and are pushiing onward to have the honor of their name in a book. So proud of them.  Reading has always been something that came easy for KC but that Lissa had to work a bit harder to get.  She is not a fluent reader yet but has improved so much. Her confidence in herself has also blossomed with regard to reading and that is a joy.  Last night, 30 minutes after lights out, I caught her on her bunk with a flashlight and a book.  I confiscated both but truthfully, I was happy!

My wife's been making hosta and shade gardens in the front side yards of our home for a few years now. They are really starting to mature and look beautiful.  When I take the clothes off the line at night, I can hear the crickets, sometimes if I am lucky, I can see a bat or a nighthawk.  Life is always full but it is most wonderfully, joyfully full to me in summer!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sweet Saturday!

Today was a very laid back day for us.  We did our usual Saturday morning things, and then our friends G and W were taking Lissa and Rob out for a trip to a kids museum. Actually the person of focus was Lissa, but they told her she could pick someone to go with her and she chose her big brother.  She had a marvelous time and Rob was a champ about it.He used to work at this particular museum and G and W had never been , so he was able to kind of show them around.

While they were gone, KC went to work with K at one of her smaller cleaning contracts. He got to empty trash baskets, do the recycling and a little vacuuming and earned himself some spending money for our upcoming camping trip. He was puffed out with pride for doing this.  It was really very cute.

While they were all gone, I steam cleaned our living room rug.  It is a really icky pale green.  It is pretty old and there are stains that don't come out but overall, it looks much better for my efforts.

Later in the day, KC and I went bowling.  He loves to bowl and Lissa despises it.  She thinks that bowling shoes are so ugly that she refuses to put them on her feet.  I have no idea where I got a fashionista for a daughter, but I did.  So it was a great thing for just he and I to do.

Other than that, it was a pretty quiet day and I enjoyed cleaning and doing some cooking and relaxing.  I don't do that all that much and I know I needed it. I had a 2 day migraine last week that was really hard to work through. I made it to work both days, but was pretty useless here at home.  I hate that.  I hate that it makes my kids really worried.  I hate that I feel like I am not pulling my weight.  But there wasn't much I could do about it either. So it has been nice to have some down time and rest up a wee bit.

Fabulous Fourth!

Our annual 4th of July BBQ morphed a bit larger this year, adding in some good friends who are not usually in town for the event. Actually it has grown over the years.  Once only our kids godparents came, but now there are neighbors and other friends as well.

 I envisioned tables gaily decorated in the back yard. I had games in mind for the kids and a cool outdoor art idea that I shamelessly stole from another blogger. . . and then, nature intervened. In the form of heavy rains and winds from Hurricane Arthur.

Pretty much all the festivities around us cancelled or postponed.  We did not.  I figure fun can happen somehow, anyhow.  And it did.  We got enough breaks in the weather to cook outdoors, but we set up tables in our living room for the actual meal.  My kids woke up early as usual. At quarter to 6 specifically, KC and Lissa wanted to know if they could start decorating!  Um, not quite yet, guys.

By 8:30 though, not only were they decorating, but their friend from next door was over helping out as well.  I had gotten white table cloths for most of the tables and that meant they could literally draw on them.  They had a blast doing that. One table had a blue table cloth and I had made big silver stick on stars for that one.  We made centerpieces and stuck those around the room.  Easy fun, kid friendly ones. (think 3 small flags held in place in a tiny vase by a glob of playdoough.  Then artfully covering vase with star stickers. LOL  But it was fun.  We had a blast.  We smashed everyone into the living room. There was food aplenty.  Much laughter and conversation.

In between breaks in the rain, the kids would dash outside for a bit, run around and then get chased back in by the weather.  They would play card games in the dining room while the grown ups chatted elsewhere.  It was just plain fun.

Best of all, my wife enjoyed it.  I love gatherings. But K, not so much.  She is an introvert at heart and gatherings exhaust her emotionally and physically. She said she loves the 4th of July though because she feels that people come to it with fewer expectations and that there is more fun.  I love it because it is the gathering that blends a really diverse group of our friends together.  The fact that Fiona was here with us as well, was extra special.

Tomorrow I need to start some prep for our next camping adventure. We leave next Saturday morning for NH!