Friday, December 26, 2014

And so it was Christmas. . .

And bam! Christmas is done!  Well, except for visiting with my inlaws sometime in January.  Other than that, we are done. This is one of the best holiday seasons over all that I can remember.  My wife has been a more present and happy participant. The kids did great overall.  We had a lot of stuff,and like any family a fair amount of the crazy-busys, but at the end of the day, I would not trade it.  There are only so many times to carol for an elderly neighbor, or bring cookies to someone who has been shut in.  Holiday parties are the fabric of the youngers memories, a way to connect with friends and celebrate all through the month.

My poor wife has been ill pretty much since before Thanksgiving. She is on another round of antibiotics and still far from well.  Yet together we wrapped all the tribe's gifts in one night (and only a few left for the next night)  We don't do extravagent Christmas.  Everyone gets 4 or 5 Santa gifts and one gift from parents. Then there are 5 family gifts--typically some kind of games.  This year it was Dance Revolution 2015, a super Farkle, a dice matching game called Nada, Mario for up to 4 players, and a card game called Slamwich.  We try to make sure all levels and abilities are represented in the family games and that at least 2 of the games can be played in 15 minutes or less.However since there are 7 in our immediate family and more in extended, it is still a lot of gifts to wrap!

Fiona had a wonderful Christmas and birthday.  I thought we were headed for disaster Christmas Eve  when she got sick to her stomach at about 7:30.  However I think maybe it was just stress of the season and the emotional baggage that definately surrounds this holiday for her.  She was only sick the once and I tucked her into bed and she was fine this morning.It did mean that she could not take her meds last night and it was amazing how much better she got up this morning and how clear she was when she woke.  I do know that her sleep is more restless without them,but I am going to mention this to the director of her program.  I know healthy rest is important but last year by contrast it took the dog licking her face I had not known he snuck upstairs) to wake her up after  7 a.m.  And the littles were NOT being quiet and she slept through it all.  This year, she heard the littles and I talking quietly in the next room and was up and eager to start the day.

My Mom and her companion came down from Maine and spent the better part of a day with us.  It was really nice.  KC had made a lot of his gifts this year. For mom he made a set of 16 notecards and drew a different design on each card.  Some were birthday, some get well, some general etc.  She was ecstatic and appreciative of them.  He made calendars for her companion and my wife.  All the kids did really well choosing gifts.  They were all gifts that showed they cared and knew the persons likes and needs.  This year Rob had taken Lissa to do her Christmas shopping, and did his own as well.  Fiona made a list with me but also did hers on her own with staff from the group home.  So in many ways, that part of the holiday prep was much easier.

Stockings are always KC's favorite part of Christmas.  I was surprised when he told me that on Christmas Eve.  He can't wait to check out all the little bits and bobs that Santa puts inside.  Gloves, pens, socks etc.  Funny kid.  So it is always stockings first in our house and then the gifts under the tree and then breakfast.  We just about had time for all that, cleaning up the living room and then my mom and G arrived. They needed a snack so they had some home made cinnamon buns and muffins and tea and then G took a nap.  When he got up it was more gifts and then dinner. Fiona's birthday is Christmas Day so I always do her party at dinner.  She LOVED the photo collage blanket that we gave her.  I am so happy it was such a hit.

After Mom and G left, I started making the phone calls to Rob and Fiona's first family. We had some great calls with lots of people, and I also called my inlaws to wish them Merry Christmas.  My wife has nearly no voice so she sort of whispered it and then turned the phone over to others who could be heard.

Today will be a quieter day.  I have to mail Fiona's gifts that she brought for some friends and distant family members.  I have to bring KC's scooter to a store for repair. And late this afternoon we are visiting the kid's godparents and meeting their new kitten. But mostly it is a wide open, kickin' back kind of day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Day

Christmas Eve day.  Fun, chaotic a bit, and inevitably the excitement ramps as the day progresses.  I have tried to keep people busy with lots of different things to keep the time moving for them.  I asked Rob this morning if he had been in touch with any of his first family so we knew how to contact tomorrow.  He said he hadn't but indicated an aunt that he would like to speak with.  I am thrilled as it is the first time he has vocalized that this is important to him.  However he was unable to make himself do the legwork to see how to contact Auntie S.  I wonder if part of him is afraid that he won't be able to reach them if he calls?  At any rate, when I could see he wasn't going to do it (finding lots of things that made him too busy to try) I called his sister Krystal and asked if we could reach her tomorrow..  She said yes, they are going to a number of family members and told me who she would be with.  I asked if she knew how to reach Auntie S and she didn't but is checking with another cousin who might.  Then I relayed all that to Rob who looked happy about it.It also helps Fiona when I can prep her as to who we are able to reach on a phone call.  At any rate, just as I would feel that transporting the kids to visits was my responsibility if I was a foster parent, as an adoptive parent it is my job to facilitate and strengthen first family relationships.  I firmly believe that every time my kids see me take that step for them, they feel safer,and happier.

And now, back to Santa tracker!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve

Here we are--Christmas Eve Eve as we say in our house. We somehow have the true miracle of the season which is remembering where gifts were hidden and finding them to wrap.  Have you ever tried to hide Christmas gifts for a family with 5 kids.  One who also has a birthday on Christmas?  It is a trip, let me tell you.

The stocking shopping got done yesterday by yours truly.  Every year I say there has to be a better way and we have yet to find it. But it gets done and there is singing and laughter and memories.  It is all good in the end.  I'd love to have that life where the gifts were wrapped November 12th or something but that is so not going to happen here.  Ever.  I will never be sitting and sipping wine on December 20th just listening to quiet music.  Well, maybe when I am 80 or something but not for now.

For now, December had no less than 5 holiday parties for the littles.  It had Lissa's birthday party, it will have Fiona's on Christmas Day. The vespers service and pageant at church was great and both the youngers were in the play this year.  I could not believe that KC was even willing to take a speaking part.  (Only one line but still, for him this is huge!)

  I got my cards out this year and that was huge for me.  Last year was the first year that I messed up and did not get any out.  I hated that.  There are folks I connect with only at Yuletide and I really missed that.

The house is decorated and mostly clean, though I will  work on that more tomorrow. We did tons of baking to gift folks for the holidays.

And this is all the more amazing when you factor in that K has been sick off and on since before Thanksgiving.  She got the flu around then, then had a round of mersa, then apparently the infection from the flu never fully left and now has new antibiotics for a raging sinus infection.  She has struggled through it but I feel badly for her.

Yet to do is to make a pumpkin pie and cinnamon buns, a birthday cake for Fiona and parker house rolls.  Tonight I will wrap the last 5 or 6 things that I got off layway today and then find some time to wrap my wife's stocking stuff.  Her gifts are done but not those.

Sending prayers for peace, for love enough to sustain, for joy in the small as well as the large, to all?!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Lissa!

The above shot was Lissa photo bombing her big brother at HIS birthday.  Her actual birthday is today and we had a small family party.  She had a party with friends at the roller rink this weekend so this was considerably more low key.  However I was impressed. She had decided that it was okay to have a venue party be our gift to her and just have a small gather at home.  She got to choose the menu (Chinese food from her favorite place) and she still had some gifts from the kids and other loving relatives.  (our gift was the roller rink party)  She got some legos, a craft kit, a necklace, earrings, a gift card, and a gorgeous dress.  And of course, she got gifts from friends just a few days ago.

Truly, I can't believe the princess is 8!  Sometimes it is 8 going on 18 and sometimes it is 8 going on 2 but it is always interesting. She is strong, emotionally and physically and I am so lucky she is our daughter.  Happy Birthday my sweet princess!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A shopping we will go!

Today was a busy day getting ready for Yule.  I took my Chet shopping.  I don't love to shop anyway, I love to shop with Chet even less!  LOL  However we soldiered through and I tried to find stores that were less stimulating for him so he could hold it together longer. This meant avoiding the big mall in our city and hitting outlying stores.  It was mentally exhausting keeping him focussed and calm but we did get through  it and his personal stress is also greatly alleviated by having his purchasing done.  He cares deeply that people get something they really want, it is just the process of getting that and understanding what people want that is hard.

Chet wants things like scotch tape.  A small personal sized bottle of maple syrup, and envelopes.  Oh and air filters for his air cleaner in his room.  (he has plenty but likes to ask for these yearly)  So due to the simplicity of that which gives him joy it is hard for him to grasp what gives OTHERS joy.  As in, "No Chet mom would not want a 12 pack of razors or coupons for her cereal."  Then there was the fact that Rob told Chet he'd like an argyle sweater.  However we could not find an argyle in the stores.  Well, we did but it was button down and I know that is not what Rob wanted.  Rob is flexible and i know his style choices.  I could find zillions of other sweaters that he would like.  Chet, being Chet was fixated on: It.Is.Not.Argyle.  6 stores later I convinced him to choose between two very nice non argyle sweaters.  We got home and I hissed to Rob "argyle?  REALLY?" which made him crack up.

Chet makes a lot of cards for family and friends each Christmas season. He brought a ton to deliver at church today.  I have yet to convince him that you don't write "Dear John Smith" inside the card when you are wishing a friend Merry Christmas.  Thankfully, people love the cards and see the caring behind his actions.  I am grateful beyond words for this.

My shopping has been going well.  Small peeps are done except for stockings.  I have found two really unusual handmade gifts for my wife that I hope she will love.  She is notoriously hard to buy for but these are unique and I think fit her personality to a T.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Always a parent

KC at 5 or 6 getting into the holiday spirit.  He is very much my "Mr. Christmas"  Today we had festively shaped pizza bites courtesy of my amazing chef son Rob, and all watched the movie Elf. I love that movie.  I remember taking Rob to the cinema to see it with is friend when it first came out.  And laughing. And laughing.  We still laugh like crazy watching it, but it is also sort of a sweet and tender movie.

Yet as we were all in our living room watching it, my heart is filled with worry for a teen in our area.  The young fellow lived where I work for most of his childhood.  When he was about 14 his family moved out of the property, but he often came back on his own to visit with our office staff.  He missed the site.  He missed us.

Yesterday he came in, I thought to visit. But instead it was because his mother has opted to move out of state and leave him here.  He is 17.  Who does that to their child? This is not even a kid who is especially troubled or challenging to parent.  Our state does not have a legal emancipation process (he all ready checked into it) so he is left in legal limbo. Unable to sign a contract, he is couch surfing between relatives homes.  He can't stay in any one home too long or risk that families housing assistance.  This bothers me at so many levels.  Families are forever and I can never imagine leaving ANYWHERE while my kids are growing up and leaving them behind.

I can't imagine missing seeing my kids senior prom outfit or graduation-assuming this boy can do any or all of these things with the chaos of his life right now.  I have reached out to a friend who runs a teen program in the city where we go to church to find out if she knows of any benefits that we can hook the kid up with.  Of course what I really feel like doing is bringing him home. . .