Saturday, January 30, 2010

Brothers

4 comments:
Last week, after a particularly wonderful visit with Raul, we found ourselves overcome with ambivolence.  The visits are going fantastically.  He has taken to us with ease and the chemistry could not be better.  There are times when I look into his eyes and I see nothing but myself.  I see my son, like he's always been a part of me.  He's so familiar in a way I can't even begin to explain.

But the ambivolence was palpable.  And when we left the visit I couldn't help but feel concerned.  We were getting mixed signals from his foster mother.  She seemed so eager for us to succeed yet at every turn tried very hard to dissuede us from going on.  And that made us worry.  Did she know something we don't know? Is she trying to warn us? Why does she have so little confidence that he will be able to make this transition? We kept expressing interest and with every turn there seemed to be a road block and the process kept getting pushed back longer and longer.

We hadn't been home but a few minutes when she called and I was happy she did because we had a down right heart-to-heart. I asked her why she was saying and doing these things.  Why was she trying to get us to back out? And her response was surprising.  She had been so afraid that WE would back out that she was guarding herself (and him). In a twisted sort of way, we were both striving for the same thing: to bring Raul into our family.  And while our goal was the same, we were actually being counterproductive with both our actions and communication and in effect creating the opposite of what we both so desperately want.

Here's the thing, this adoption stuff is highly personal.  It's intimate and it's hard to be intimate with someone you don't know.  Add that to the fiercely terrifying nature of a mother about to add a new son to her family and a mother about to lose a son she's known for 2 years and it becomes downright impossible.

But we worked it out.  At one point I said to her that once the boy walks through our front door with his bags he is never leaving and that was apparently what she had been waiting to hear all along.  That we were committed to him.  That he would not have to start over.  Our only real concern was how he would react to Bubba, and vice versa.  And while we had originally scheduled for him to meet Bear first, we thought we might as well get it over with so we could all breathe a sigh of relief.

We took Bubs to meet him this last friday and while I thought in my head that I was okay, I was literally nauseous all the way there.  I blamed it on the turkey sandwich and then on a rampant case of car sickness.  I even tried to convince myself that I could be pregnant. Because apparently my being pregnant even though Howie's vas deferens have long been separated, divorced and moved to different states, was more of a plausable conclusion than facing the fact that I was just plain nervous.  Because what if it didn't work out? What if we'd been through all of this and they hated each other?

My fears were; however, unfounded. I've rarely seen Bubba so positively lit up.  They were engaged from the very beginning and while they played separately, they were very close in proximity, taking their time.  At one point Bubba was playing with a helicopter and was looking for the pilot and when I asked Raul to find it he did.  Then he knelt next to Bubba and they worked together to make the piece fit.  They talked, a shushed conversation- a connection.  And the overwhelming reality of it all made me clutch my chest while I worked really hard not to cry.  Because I'm not one of those people who can inconspicuously cry.  I automatically go into the ugly cry.  You know what I'm talking about...the blubbery, snotty, lose your breath kind of crying that makes people look at you and wonder how it was possible that the doctor's released you from the institution without supervision.

They played and ran and jumped and giggled.  We went up to Raul's room and we laid on the cold floor and squeezed the boys between us.  They wrestled and tickled each other and sat on Howie's lap for a picture.  It was easy, fluid, comfortable.

As we left, we asked Bubba what he thought of Raul and he said, "when can I bring him home." That was it for me.  I started crying and didn't stop until we got home.  It was a huge step to see him for the first time and this was another huge step, to see him in context.  It was overwhelming to see those boys, those brothers make a connection for the first time.  What a beautiful sight to see.  In all of my days I will never forget it, witnessing that powerful force that bonds us as family.







Friday, January 29, 2010

A Challenge

6 comments:
Okay, so if you haven't already, please go read THIS.  It's the "Sowing Bountifully" blog that I wrote a few days ago that talks all about how we decided to give some money even though we didn't want to give money because we are tight wads. Yes we are.  Tightwads, conservative, abstemious in terms of giving tightwads.  The truth can sometimes be an ugly thing.

In the blog I talk about how we have had it on our hearts to give more generously and how I made it my new year's resolution to do so.  So, I felt very strongly that we were supposed to give a certain amount of money to two different places but there was just one problem: we didn't have the money to give.  As in, zero...zilch...nada! Because we ended up deciding to put all of Howie's bonu (as well as our tax refund) on credit card debt.  And I have no doubt that was a wise decision.  But I couldn't shake this persistent nagging in my brain that I needed to give this money so I did something completely radical...crazy...slightly financially irresponsible.  I took a partial withdrawal from my IRA account.  And yes, I took a hit on fees and yes I believe my financial advisor is in the process of staging an intervention as we speak.  But I did it.

Because like I said before, I think that I'm supposed to push my faith to the limits.  I'm supposed to take a deep breath, close my eyes and grimace at the prospect of letting go of any semblance of control. My friend Amy and I were discussing this at length the other day and she pointed out how interesting it is that many of us would pray and have faith that God could cure our cancer or eliminate our stress or suffering.  And to a great degree, we believe it. But when it comes to money...well, that's a different story.  Because I personally don't think that I will be receiving a certified letter with a check directly from God.  Because he can cure cancer but he can't fill my bank account. *rolls eyes at self*

Now, I was not forthcoming on the amount of money that we had decided to give, only because in the previous blog I thought it unnecessary to disclose.  But now, I have to tell you because it will bring home this blog to the point that will shake you to your core.  It's that unfathomable of a story.  We set aside $600.  Now, that's not a HUGE amount of money but it's definitely enough to make my eyes (and ass) twitch.  Again, not what I would exactly label as a "comfortable" amount for me to give.  Add that to the fact that in order to give that amount I had to take a tax penalty and my heart starts to palpitate as beads of sweat roll down my face.  Now, we haven't given the money away yet because we haven't received the wire transfer as of right now.  In fact, because of the delay, we actually went into the negative with fees! And yes, I do believe that this is crazy.

But then something amazing happened. After we ear-marked the money and made the decision, we got a notice in the mail from the IRS.  The IRS! We had over-paid in our 2008 taxes and they are sending us a check for $247.00.  The next day we got a call from our insurance company.  That prescription we had just filled is apparently partially covered so they reimbursed us $100.00.  And then, we got notice from the IRA people, that the account we closed actually had $364 more than what they had anticipated.

Do the math: $247 + $100 + $364 = $711.  That's $111 dollars over what we had earmarked.  Internet...I got three checks in the mail...stamped, sealed and signed from God himself.   And I think it show's his incredible sense of humor that the money came from three of the most infamously stingy groups ever...the tax collectors, the insurance companies and the financial institutions.  Now THAT is funny!

This is no coincidence.  This is a confirmation, an affirmation that I did the right thing.  And I don't think that it was meant to give me money that I would have given away, I think it was meant to cover all of my NSF fees for being foolish enough to trust a financial company! Either way, I was still covered. I will still be just fine financially speaking.

I can't say it's easy.  But I can say it's amazing.  I challenge you right now to figure out how much money would make you uncomfortable to give.  How much would make your chest compress and your blood pressure rise? How much would you worry about?  Then take that money, double it and write a check.  Don't think too much about it because you will talk yourselves out of it.  In the infamous words of Nike, "Just Do It".  Give it to whomever, whatever, wherever you choose.  It could be anything from your local food bank to a children's hospital to the The Red Cross to World Vision.  Now, you don't have to take money out of your IRA.  Because people who do that are just plum out of their minds.  But I'm just saying'...take a chance and see what happens.  Giving once to the point that makes you feel uncomfortable won't ruin your life. It might be inconvenient, it might feel crazy, it might take you a month to recover but you WILL survive.  Do it once and see what happens.  See how it comes back to you.  See how great you feel.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Talk

2 comments:
It's been a while now that Howie and I have suspected "the talk" to be imminent with Birdie.  She's always had a fascination with babies, having babies, getting married, having a husband, etc... She would pretend that she and Bubba were married and have babies and over the summer, her imagination really started to run wild.  It coincided with the announcement that we would be adopting a child which made perfect sense to me.

We talked to her a little bit about adoption and how that is different from being born into a family but it only really added fuel to her flaming curiosity.  Then came that time Howie and I got caught in the act.  Couple that with the natural curiosity of children and it's no surprise that she's confused!

A couple of weeks ago I got called into school because Birdie was telling stories about being married and having babies.  She was telling everyone that her husband's name is Derek (one of the characters from "Monsters vs. Aliens") who works out of town a lot and that she was pregnant and lord knows what else.  Things like she was going to give birth to the missing link or a half human-half cockroach baby or a giant blob of bluish goo.  Whatever.  It was clearly a story from a girl with an overactive imagination.  From a girl who is going through a major transition in her family and is trying to sort it all out through play.

When the principal told me I started to laugh.  Because seriously, she's SEVEN! And what seven year old hasn't told incredibly ridiculous stories at one time or another?  But then the principal yelled at me and pointed her finger whilst she told me that my child is "not normal" and while she didn't say it out loud it was quite clear that it was all my fault that Birdie was crazy and telling such stories because there is clearly reason to worry that over Christmas vacation I let her get married to a chronically absent husband whom I then allowed to impregnate her with a half alien child. Just wait till she finds out that I let Bear work at the strip bar out by the airport and even paid for her breast implants, the triple D's and the sparkly pasties to go with them!  Because that's how I roll.

But I digress...It was clear to me (and our social worker) that Birdie was having difficulties processing the adoption, understanding where babies come from and how they enter families. That led us to consider having a sex talk with her.  Especially since she's almost 8 years old and I got my period when I was NINE! Nine, people! And with all the hormonally injected eggs I've let her eat during her lifetime, it's a miracle she didn't get her period on her 5th birthday!

I'm just saying, the time is running short.  We need to get to the business of discussing sex and bodies and babies and all of that craziness.  But where to start?  We ultimately decided to use a Christian based curriculum, starting with a book called "Before I was Born"  which is aimed at children 5-8 years old.  I have to admit that I questioned whether a 5-8 year old really needs to know all about semen but I did appreciate the simplicity of it as well as how it made marriage and intimacy the focus of sexual relationships.

I surprised her with the book.  She totally had no clue that I was about to unveil the holy grail of sexual information to her.  She was shocked, a little embarrassed but obviously curious.  She hung on every word and her eyes were as big as saucers.  But at the same time, she acted so nonchalant.  Like it was something that was no big deal and she didn't really care about it.  That was all a ruse, however; because as soon as I was done reading she ran to her room with the book, closed the door and proceeded to read it one hundred times in succession. I talked to her about privacy and how this is something that parents talk to their children about when they think the time is right so she shouldn't then go on the playground and start a conversation with "boy do I have something to tell you!"

But do you know what? It quenched her curiosity.  Because after that there were no real questions, nothing to wonder about, nothing to ponder and she dropped the subject altogether.  It was a great first step for both of us.  It opened up the lines of communication and set the groundwork for a relationship with trust and comfort that will hopefully last forever.  It's not an easy thing to do but I'm so glad I did it now.  Because it means that I can do it in digestible chunks. 

I would have never had this talk had she not been so persistent about the subject.  I would have preferred to wait and have the talk somewhere around 9:30 pm on the night before she gets married.  And I cannot believe that I have a daughter who is old enough to have some of this information but now she knows that I'm not afraid to talk to her and that when she has a question I will answer it.

I'm proud of myself and think I did the right thing and look forward to talking more but there is a part of me that wishes I could erase the word "scrotum" from my little girl's mental rolodex.

Monday, January 25, 2010

And You Thought I Couldn't Top The Booger Story

6 comments:
So a few months back, during a post-bath session of lotion slathering, I noticed that Bear had a gigantic wart on one of her toes.  And let me just say that when I say GIGANTIC, I mean the thing was large enough to have it's own gravitational pull. 

And since I was starting to worry that I might have to get her fitted for a special kind of orthopedic shoe that would accomodate the enormous growth, I decided to use some wart remover on it.  Except that I wasn't always consistent about putting the medicine and corresponding pads on it, mostly because every time I did, I swear that I could hear the wart growl and hiss at me.  Because it had a mind of it's own and I kept worrying that one day it would sprout arms and legs and then soon it would start dragging Bear around instead of the other way around.

Every once in a while I would slap a wart pad on there but I'm not even kidding when I say that it required TWO because it was so large that one pad didn't cover it and I had to then wrap the whole thing in gauze to keep it in place.  That was when I remembered it was there.  Most of the time I forgot about it.

But then the other day as I was taking off Bear's socks I noticed it was gone. Like, it packed up it's bags, bought a plane ticket to Rio and is now laying on a beach somewhere drinking a mai tai.  But then I asked Bear about it.

Me: "Hey! Your wart is gone.  It's all gone! Where'd it go?" (Because I might need to hire a crew of strong men to come and haul it out of the house)
Bear: "I ate it."
*record scratch*
Me: "WHAT??????????????????????? You WHAT???????????????????????"
Bear: "I ate it."

No wonder she hasn't been hungry for the last month.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Outside The Box

10 comments:
We are serioulsy thinking about sending Birdie to a different school, specifically a magnet school in Hartford.  While our town provides a great school and a good education, I think that she is struggling. 

It's not about academics. She's extrememly bright and excells in all of her class work- it's a matter of personality.  You see, the school is exceptionally structured and in my opinion, requires all the students to conform to a certain level of what they consider "acceptable behavior".  Mind you, we're not talking about things like showing respect for others or following directions.  No, this is about everyone thinking the same, speaking the same, behaving the same.  There is little room for individuality.

That might work for some.  For example, Bubba thrives in that environment.  Because he is all about routine and compliance.  He feels safe within those confines and I think it serves him well.  Birdie on the other hand, is an out-of-the-box kind of thinker.  She lives in a different kind of world than most of her peers and has perhaps what they might consider radical standards and beliefs.  She is also bigger than life.  Her personality can (and does) fill up a room to the point where you start to wonder whether you might suffocate. 

She has her own mind and is not afraid to challenge teachers, ask questions and stand up for herself.  And trust me, she endures a lot of criticism for all of it.  In art class, when she chose to color her rainbow in a palate of pastels verses the standard colors, she got a reduced grade and a reprimand for not "following directions."  When she hurridly gathered her books and coat so that she could wait for her baby brother and walk him to the bus, she (and I) were called into the office because she "should only be looking out for herself."  I was accused of giving her too much responsiblity and squashing Bubba's independence.  Because I told her to make sure her baby brother got on the bus.  Because I teach my kids to look out for one another. Don't even get me started on the time she got in trouble for getting out of line when  Bubba was crying unconsolably and she went to his side.  What's the world coming to? When parents teach their kids things like priority of family values and encourage their kids to think for themselves.  The madness!!

  And when she selfishly gave up playing with her friends in lieu of spending her time picking up garbage and putting it in the trash because as she said "is responsible for the earth", she was again scolded for touching trash.  Then there was the time when I sent her a Hershey's kiss in her lunch box and a note that said, "a little kiss from home" and I was told that I shouldn't do that anymore.

Lordy, I could go on forever on the injustices and the times she's been scolded and singled out for such things.  And the amazing part is that she is so resilient.  That while she listens to her teachers, still continues to do what her heart tells her to do.  That she endures the criticism and it doesn't change the way she thinks about herself.  I'm so proud of that but I also know that there is a danger that it won't last forever.  That eventually, that fire inside of her will be extinguished by the glances and giggles of her classmates and the disapproval of her teachers and school staff.  I don't want that.  She has something inside of her that sets her apart, even from my other children.  There is something different, unique and even a little bit crazy inside of her.  It's kind of an ugly ducking sort of situation and I think that which makes her weird and awkward today will be that which makes her AMAZING when she grows up.  It's just a matter of harnessing her strengths.

The school I'm looking into is a performing arts school which allows children the opportunity for self expression through a variety of classes such as music, art, drama and dance.  The curriculum is strong- especially for a child who is already bright- but they teach in a more "hands on" sort of way.  So that she learns to incorporate things like reading and math and social studies into normal daily activities.  I seriously think she will thrive in that kind of environment.  Not to mention that the student body (and staff) is hugely diverse.

Lets not mince words here...she's one of very few brown kids in her school and no matter how that is approached, she still stands out.  I want her to be in a sea of kids who look just like she does. I also want her to get more of her culture and that's more possible in a school that is 70% hispanic.  I want that because I grew up in a mostly caucasian school and always felt different.  Also, a funny thing happens when you're in the suburbs.  There exists some kind of a cushion between you and the real world.  We forget that not everyone lives the life we do and there is the danger of keeping our kids in a bubble.  I don't want to shelter mine from the realities of life only because if they grow up with it, they won't feel a separation between themselves and those not like themselves.

I often think that one of the best gift our parents gave me and Howie was the gift of poverty.  Because no matter where we are today there is a connection between us and those in need. It taught us responsility and a sense of compassion for our community.  And while we may not be impoverished now, it is our responsibility to teach our kids to be just as at home speaking to the president of a multi-million dollar company as they are speaking to a homeless man on the street. That kind of connection has to happen from the earliest ages. 

I want Birdie not to be judged for what she looks like or where she comes from or how she acts. I want her to be loved for who she is inside. And I think that if we foster that individuality within her, she will then be able to inturn give that same lack of judgement back to the world.  She will be able to see nothing but who people are on the inside and love them for that alone.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sowing Bountifully

4 comments:
Well, it's not even the end of the first month of the year and I have totally boogered up the whole "write a blog everyday" resolution. Meh.

I'm just gonna write about what's on my mind right now because I don't have the time or the patience to sit and write a coherent and well-thought-out blog.  So here's what's on my mind...money.

I know, I know...not the most popular topic and certainly not a politically correct topic to bring into discussion at say, a dinner party.  But here's the thing: we all deal with money and money issues so why are they so taboo? As long as one is not flaunting their wealth or asking to borrow some cash, I don't see a problem with it.

My current situation is actually a good one.  Howie is getting ready to receive a bonus and we're trying to figure out what to do with the money.  I thought about putting it all on a credit card bill because we really dug ourselves in a hole a couple of years ago and Citibank, our once trusted ally and friend has decided to go all "my you have a purdy mouth" and stick us in the ass with a hiked interest rate.  Because of this, I just want to pay off the damn thing and be done with it!

But there is a part of me that would really like to stash some cash for "just in case".  I'm leaning towards paying off the credit card with the majority and stashing a little.  It won't be much but at least it's something.  Last year, we paid of Howie's truck and it was a wise decision but there were a few times in the year (like that time that we had $800 in truck repairs) that I really wished that we had more money put away for a rainy day.

Ick.

It'll work itself out and honestly, it's such a great problem to have: having money you don't know what to do with!  Especially in a time when there are so many people who don't have a job and no means with which to pay their living expenses.  That keeps me in check because I spend more time counting my blessings than counting my pennies.  I've been trying very hard to give more and more financially because if you will remember...that was one of my resolutions...to give to the point of discomfort.  This month I am doing just that...giving far more than I've ever given at any one time.  More than it takes to feed my family for a month...more than all of my utilities combined. I say that not because I want you to say, "wow...she's amazing, that's a lot of money." But because I want to make it a point to show that 1) I dislike giving that much and 2) I'm still doing it.  Because so many people give excuses as to why they shouldn't give more to their church or support causes that are close to their hearts.  They hold back in terms of how much they give. I know this.  I'm one of those people!! I give based on what I think I can afford.  And because I know this about myself and I would like to change my stinginess, is why I made it my resolution to give more freely. Specifically, give more freely of my  CASH!  Because I could give you hours and days and months of my time but when it comes to money,  my ass starts to twitch. 

I keep remembering that God wants me to put myself in this position because it forces me to trust that he will take care of me more than I can take care of myself.  It puts me in a position of being out of control and trusting in pure and utter faith.  That even when I give to the point that it hurts, I will be blessed in the end. It goes against everything that most of us believe.  And frankly, I'm not that good at being out of control! We are taught to save and "put away for a rainy day".  But I don't think that's what I should really be concerned with.  I've read,  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

And honestly, I want my heart to be in giving, not in saving.  I want it to be in helping those in need more than helping myself.  It's just a tough thing to do because my mind gets caught up in the "what-ifs".  What if the truck dies? What if the refrigerator gives out? What if there is an unexpected medical expense?  What if.   It's scary to be without a financial safety net! As I write these checks and seal these envelopes and stick these stamps I have to remember that  "he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully."

I must remember to be eager in my giving...as difficult as that may be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hello There, Son

7 comments:
We finally met Raul.  It was last friday and I'm sorry for not posting anything sooner.  We needed time to digest it all.  I can't even begin to describe the feeling of going there.  It was, simply put, an experience you can never understand unless you're in it.  It would be like trying to explain the love you feel when they place your newborn baby in your arms. It's a million things: amazing, scary, wonderful.  Yet to define the feelings behind those words is simply impossible because it's too big, too complicated.  So what you end up saying is, "it was AWESOME!" although awesome doesn't seem to cover it and ends up sounding like an empty word.  Well, it was the same thing as we pulled into the driveway and realized we were going to meet him.  That we were going to touch him and he would be "real". I was nervous and excited and happy and scared and meeting him was awesome.  I won't elaborate because as you know, there is simply no other way to describe it.

He's heartbreakingly gorgeous! I will describe it as love at first sight because as soon as I saw him come off of his bus I felt like he was mine.  There was familiarity, something about it.  In the movie "When Harry Met Sally" one of the couples describes love like this, "I knew like the way you know about a good melon.  You just know."   

We sat in his playroom with him and watched him while we tried to absorb the reality that he is our son. His soft forehead, his gorgeous smile, his adorable toothless lisp.  Within minutes he was asking us questions and wanting to hug us.  I think that's his way of knowing if people like him and getting to know them although they try to discourage it because he is learning boundaries.  She told him he could shake his hand and he agreed but as soon as his foster mother left the room, he came over and snuck a hug. :-)

We got a grea feel for what he is like at home and what he can do (ex: get himself dressed, listen to directions) and what his struggles are (speech).  At one point he took us to his bedroom: an empty room with nothing but a bed and a clock.  You see, there were trauma's in his past which make bedrooms a traumatic place for him.  He endured significant neglect and abandonment and is scared to be alone in there and has either thrown everything out or destroyed it.  We sat on the bed with him as he showed us a toy and it just felt right.  There was a moment when he kept trying to get me to sit closer and closer and closer to him  until I was pressed up against him and he just gave a little smirk and his eyes twinkled.  And it was all over for me at that moment.  I wanted to scoop him up and squeeze him so tightly and never let him go.

As we were leaving he referred to Howie as "daddy" and pointed to me and said "mom".  The social worker said he doesn't normally do that so I wonder how much he has heard and understands.  We probably don't give him enough credit and I'm hoping that he gets it and is okay with it all.  As much as we adore him, it goes both ways.

The visit was far too short, only two hours.  It sucked to leave because we have to wait a whole other week to see him again.  We see him every friday for the next 2 weeks and Bear will start coming next week to meet him. 

They want to do a very long transition (like months) and while we agreed to take our time, I really can't see waiting that long.  I'd love to have him home by the second week of March and am going to get all mama crazy on them if they don't want that.  I'm not dealing directly with DCF as he is in a professional foster care setting and they are making special recommendations. I'm not certain of whether we have any say in when he comes home.  I'm sure they are doing the right thing for him and it is obvious that he will need a longer transition time than another child but I don't want to drag it out more than 3 months.  I have to wonder whether how much it benefits Raul and how much it benefits their pocket books to keep him longer.  I know that sounds terrible but it's the reality of things. 

In the meantime we will get prepared and look forward to seeing him more and more. It will take time to adjust the amount of work and sacrifice it will take to bring him home.  Make no mistake, he is gorgeous and wonderful but he is also autisic, much more so than Bubba.  We are in for a LOT of work. 

We're up for it but please pray for our patience and endurance as well as his healing.  I have tremendous hope for him and can't wait to see how he's blessed!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen...

3 comments:
This performance is complete with lighting effects, background dancers and costumes.  This performer gives a rock edge to a well known tune.  I smell a Billboard award!


Twinkle Rock from licha88 on Vimeo.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Full Disclosure

5 comments:
Today we met with Raul's current foster mother and the private foster care organization that places special needs kids.  All I can say is one word: YIKES!

They inundated us with a lot of scary information.  The good news is that for the most part, it was all in the past; information about who he was that contributed to who he is today.  He used to exhibit really hard core behavioral issues but has since grown out of many of them.  Not to say that he has grown out of everything or that he will ever grow out of Autism.  It's just that as kids grow up, they cope differently.

Many of the things they described sounded very familiar.  We deal with them all of the time and what we realized today is that it's such a part of our daily lives that we don't even recognize it as being abnormal.  But there will also be huge challenges with Raul.  Some of them harder than we anticipated.  There will also be many rewarding things as well.  It's just a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, a LOT of work that lies ahead.  I feel like I should start stretching.

Apparently, this is not the first time that Raul has almost been adopted.  Last year he came close but the family was not well equipped at all and didn't follow any of the rules and didn't respect any of Raul's needs.  Because of this, the foster mother and the service providers were all on edge when they met us.  They were immediately on the offensive which was really hard to endure. It was almost like they were doing their very best to talk us out of adopting him.  They did a great job! But ultimately, they realized that this wasn't our first rodeo.  We've been down this road before so what might sound overwhelming to someone who's never done it before, sounded like treacherous (yet do-able)  hard work to us.

When we told them about us and our family and our motivation to adopt and how we see the whole thing going down you could literally see the relief spread across their faces.  The social worker's shoulder's actually softened and she stopped gnashing her teeth long enough to smile.

The foster mother is wonderful.  I hope to have a long lasting and mutually beneficial friendship with her for the rest of our lives.  It was clearly difficult for her to begin this transition.  She loves him dearly and my heart goes out to her.  Her circumstances do not provide the opportunity to adopt him even though she would like nothing more than to do so.  It was just not meant to be.  But the love she has for him is not so easily dismissed.  And while it will be wrenching to see him attach to a new mommy, I think it helped tremendously when I spoke of my desire to maintain a relationship with her forever.  I will need her help and support and she will always be a huge part of his life.

We both agreed that our interests are for Raul alone.  We are going to do this right, no matter how much work (or time) it takes.  She spoke often of his inability to trust and how we will have to prove that to him by doing.  She struggled to make him trust her and she warned that it might take a while for us to earn his trust.  But we do have one ace in our pockets and that is the ability to look him straight in the eye and say what nobody has ever been able to say to him in his entire life: "we are your FOREVER FAMILY. You will never leave, nobody will ever take you, you will always have us and be one of us."  And I think that will make a big difference.

We meet our new boy on Friday.  It will be the first of many visits to integrate him into our family.  I'm excited yet nervous but I'm comforted by the words she left us with as she started to tear, "he's really going to love you."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Call Me Yoda

3 comments:
Bubba: "Where did you put my wheels?"
Me: "I think you left them upstairs."
Bubba: "But I don't see them."
Me: "That's cause they're upstairs."
Bubba: "But I can't find them."
Me: "That's because you're not looking.  You will never find something if you don't look for it."

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Green Craft

4 comments:
If have kids, then you have coloring books and if you have coloring books you have crayons.  And if you have crayons you have some that are broken, dull and useless. They drive me crazy but I don't have the heart to throw them out so we tried something that I found online.  They are called crayon cookies.

I was doubtful.  But it worked so I thought I'd pass it along to you so that you may clear your crayon boxes of the litter. Because I'm helpful that way.

I picked out all the broken crayons as well as the cheap ones that we got at Friendly's over a year ago!  I separated them and removed the paper.  Removing the paper was the worst part of this project.  I originally started using my fingernails but then some of the crayon got jammed up underneath my fingernail beds and it hurt like hell.  I cried.

I ended up using a butter knife which worked really well although I'm sure there's got to be a better way.  Anyway, that was the most time consuming part but the kids helped and we got it done pretty quickly. 

Then came the fun part.  I let the kids break them into tiny little pieces.  They thought that was awesome.  Cause seriously, there's just something about breaking a crayon. It feels so rebellious, so naughty! Frankly, I prefer breaking chalk.  Because there is just something about hearing it snap!  But I digress...

We then filled muffin tins about half way.  I just sprayed them with a little Pam before putting them in.  I baked them at 350 just until they melted.  I let them cool overnight and in the morning I just bent the muffin tin a bit and they popped right out.

The kids LOVE them!   I love that there are no junky little crayon bits all over my house anymore!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

There's Hope For Him Yet

5 comments:
Back in September I joined a bible study.  Every Friday morning I would go to someone's house to meet a bunch of women and together we studied two books along with the bible.  Bear loved going because she always got to play upstairs with the other kids and she really loves the babysitter!

Every Friday morning as we were getting dressed she would say, "are we going to see MISS KELLY"??? She said it with such excitement.  Like she was going to see Santa Clause, Cinderella and Dora The Explorer all at one time.  I would confirm our plans and she would start jumping up and down and say, "Yessssssssssssssssssss!" as she pumped her fist in the air.  Then she would chant the whole way there, "we're going to Miss Kelly's house, we're going to Miss Kelly's house, we're going to Miss Kelly's house." And as we'd pull into the driveway she would start hyperventilating.

So she loved it and so did I.  I learned a tremendous amount and was highly motivated to read my bible.  I started from the beginning...like Old Testament Genesis beginning. I've done well although I did struggle through Leviticus.  If you haven't read it already let me warn you, it's a snooze fest. If you've read it, you know what I mean. We also did two study books, the title of the first escapes my memory at the moment but the second one is "Who I Am In Christ."  It was perfect for newbie like me and is a VERY quick read.  The chapters are like 4 pages long. I love sharing with those women and learning something new every day.  But I longed to share that with Howie.  I wanted to bounce ideas off of him, to share with him in my pondering of the big questions. I prayed that he might be motivated but I steered clear of suggesting that he do it.

Our new bible study starts up next week.  A different day and new people.  I think this one is going to be a lot more in depth which is a good thing.  I just hope I can keep up!  But that's not the whole point of this blog.  The point is that last night Howie did something that completely surprised me.  I was sitting in bed reading my NIV when he made mention of "how far he'd gotten in his reading."  I turned to look at him, squinting my eyes a bit in confusion.  "Reading what?", I asked.  "The bible."  Turns out he loaded some program on his blackberry where he can read a few passages a day.

So there we were, laying in bed and reading the bible together.  I can't tell you how strange this was.  Because during my entire journey I have dived in alone.  I didn't think it wise to push Howie into something that he wasn't prepared for.  He was never against any of it. In fact, he was very supportive.  He just wasn't very interested.  I wanted to share with him but I knew that he would come along when he was good and ready.  I can't tell you how amazing it is to talk to him about all of this, to have someone on the same page.  What a wonderful gift for the new year! I'm so glad I didn't push him or encourage him to do it.  It was so much more effective to let him find it on his own.  For him to realize his own hunger and pursue it the same.

The other night we went to serve dinner at a shelter and while we were waiting to serve he went and sat with a few men who were watching TV.  After a few minutes he came over to me and said, "do you remember that TV we got on freecycle?".  A couple of days before, one of his contacts had listed a 27" TV for free.  It was in perfect condition and we had picked it up because we are starting to suspect that the TV in the playroom is going to give out at any moment.  "Yeah, why?"  "I'm gonna go home and get it.  Their TV sucks so I'm just gonna give it to them."  He went home with one of our friends and brought the TV back.  The residents were thrilled. Their old console TV with wavy lines had been replaced by a newer, clearer tube.  He also brought back my 6 book set of Harry Potter books.  Apparently he had heard one of the guys say he loved those books and wanted to give them to him.  He asked if I was okay with it and then found the guy who was very appreciative.  He also came up with the idea to teach a computer course for people in this transitional housing with the hopes that they would be able to more easily find jobs.

Is it weird that I find it totally sexy when he does stuff like that? Because I know it doesn't come easily to him.  Because when he gives of himself or when he says something about God it takes me completely by surprise and fills me with an overwhelming amount of happiness. Because a man who is giving and devoted and self-less and kind is all kinds of sexy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Extra Cheese

7 comments:
Did any of you happen to catch the premier of "The Bachelor" on Monday night? Holy cow! And not in a good way.  I watched the very first one ever and loved it, even though it was a little too sappy for me.  I could relate.  But Monday night's show was like WAY over the top cheesy.  Like when the girls got out of the limo to meet the Bachelor for the first time.  Instead of saying, "hello, it's very nice to meet you.  My name is..."  They were all, "do you have a license for those guns" and "I hear you like to fly, can I be your co-pilot for life"?  There were times that I actually had to turn away from the TV and hide my face in my pillows out of sheer embarrassment for them.  One girl brought him some dirt from Texas to show that they shared "common ground".

Let me just put this into perspective for you.  There were 25 girls and the one that tripped on her dress and fell over made THE BEST IMPRESSION.  After watching the guy for a while I noticed that they probably picked cheesy girls because he's a cheesy kind of guy.  There has to be something wrong with him.  He's a 32 year old guy who is very handsome, has a great career as a pilot that pays a substantial amount of cash and he is excited to get married and have kids.  That means that he is perfect on paper but there is something hidden in the fine print that is a deal breaker!

I watched the previews for the coming season and it looked ridiculous and dramatic and totally over the top. They hinted at a lesbian affair and showed him walking off in a huff.  Will I watch it? Of course.

Right after that was this show called "Conveyor Belt of Love".  I'm not kidding.  I couldn't make this crap up!  It was a panel of 4 women who sat across from a conveyor belt and the men had a few seconds to make a first impression and the girls would then hold up a paddle that said "interested" or "not interested".  There was every sort of freak on there! The best part was where the blond Jersey girl picked a really ordinary, chunky guy who was really awkward.  "Score one for the regular guy", he said.  Dumb yes, but kind of sweet.  All of this leads me to one conclusion: I'M SO GLAD TO BE MARRIED!

"The Biggest Loser" starts tonight.  They say it's "the biggest season yet." Pun intended.  I'm really excited to see it.  I missed last season and want to get into it although Howie told me that "Idol" starts next week too. There's also this new show called "The Deep End" that looks really great!  So many to pick from!

What will you be watching this season? What's the dumbest show you've ever seen?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why My Ear Drum Fell Out And Landed On The Floor

6 comments:
When Birdie was three she went through a screaming phase.  She would run around the house leaving a trail of echoing screeches somewhere in the upper falsetto ranges of a castrated Robin Thicke.  It was so loud that I could literally feel my eardrum reverberating inside of my head. And then it would fall out and splatter on the floor.

When she was five, the screaming stopped but it was replaced by incessant talking.  She would wake up every morning and the dam would burst from her mouth and outward would pour a torrential flood of words that would not stop until they had leveled everything in their path, including all of the helpless villagers unable to escape it's wrath.  You know how we all have a mental dialogue and a verbal dialogue?  Well, she did not distinguish between the two.  I heard EVERY thought that went on in her head without any type of censorship. I heard it for every one of her waking hours.  All day.  Every day.  I felt like I was being pummeled with words, every one of them soaking into my brain until it felt like my head was going to implode.

Now she's seven.  And instead of screaming or talking incessantly (which she still does from time to time) it's now a matter of volume.  She can be standing right next to me yet she shouts so loud you'd think that I was on the other side of double paned glass. I find myself grimacing and leaning away from her as she tells me about her day.  I have a headache within an hour of her being home due to all of the shouting.  Today, my ear actually hurt.  It felt like someone had jammed an ice pick in there and started scraping away at my Eustachian tube.  If I laid my head on concrete and someone stuck a jackhammer in my ear and started pounding away, it would fell LESS painful than listening to her loud talking.

Lord help me! I know that it's our job as parents to teach them and in order to teach them we have to repeat ourselves a gazillion times so that they finally get the message.  But I'm telling you...by the time I teach this girl how to control her mouth, I will be completely deaf!

Off To A Good Start

4 comments:
I did end up going to the gym today. I had originally planned to walk outside but then changed my mind when I stepped into the garage and all of the fluid in my eyes instantly froze, leaving tiny little icicles dangling from my bottom eyelashes.

I want to exercise.  I just don't want to lose my fingers and toes to frostbite. Call me selfish.  It felt good to get back into the groove of things.  I hadn't been to the gym in a while and after a nice workout I always wonder why I don't do it more often.  I always feel fantastic afterwards!  I've decided to extend my membership until March.  Or until I can comfortably walk outside without fear of losing my teeth to all of the chattering.

I got some errands done too.  I swung by the supermarket where I learned first hand why they say you shouldn't shop when you're hungry. I went in for a handful of things and came out with a cart.  I also went to the post office to get some stamps.  I found out that one of our postmen, a man named Patrick, passed away on Christmas Eve.  I don't know why it made me so sad.  I didn't really know him.  But he was always there, someone you could count on seeing as soon as you walked into the post office.  I got to know him a little when I was selling stuff on ebay.  He was always so friendly and helpful and every time I went in with the kids he made them giggle and gave them a lolly pop.  He had just retired and went in for minor surgery when they found he had end stage cancer.  Poor man.

I managed to get the house cleaned a little bit and take a shower before picking Bear up from preschool.  It's back into the groove of things again.  I just love the new year, it's such a fresh start.  It's like the last year was cleared from the board and I have a whole new fresh start.I've done pretty well so far with my resolutions today.  I exercised, I gave Howie a passionate kiss, I blogged.  Now, where did I put my bible?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Aaaaaaand...

7 comments:
...we're up and running again.  Well, at least when it comes to the comments we are.  We still haven't fixed the Project 365 link.  But anyway, leave me a comment.  Tell me something, anything. Ask me a question.  Any question.  Hmm, I may have opened up a Pandora's box there.

Thank you Howieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Now back to my regularly scheduled Monday.  I'm vacuuming steps and kind of complaining under my breath that we bought a house with so many freaking steps.  If you count the steps into our house we have SEVEN sets of steps in our house.  S.E.V.E.N!  That's a lot of sweeping and vacuuming! *grumbles*

Monday is also rough because of the little girl I babysit.  She's sweet and adorable and wonderful and satisfies my hunger to squeeze a baby and chew on their cheeks.  But she's tough.  She cries...A LOT.  Mondays are especially hard because they hold her all weekend and don't keep her to any routine so she has a hard time eating, sleeping, being changed, pretty much anything.  She also cries because I do horrible things to her that her parents refuse to do.  Things like cut her fingernails so that she doesn't scratch her eyes out.  Things like cleaning her ears and the crease in her neck.  Things like putting lotion on her chapped rosy cheeks. Things like cleaning the sweet potatoes stuck to her eye lashes and scrubbing the cradle cap from her crusty little head.

I know why they don't do it.  It's because she screams like someone is gutting her with a rusty nail file when you do it. Call me crazy but I'm from the school of parenting where you do what your children need, not what they want. Now that I think of it, perhaps I should use this nap time to trim her razor sharp toe nails.

Comments

5 comments:
...are currently under construction.  There is something wrong with the code and will be worked on today.  Hopefully we can get it up and running.  Oh the joys of change...

Hoping For A Date

1 comment:
We spoke with our social worker last week. I should clarify- I bugged our social worker incessantly until he finally gave in and listened. We had been waiting for a packet of more information so that we might read up a little on Raul. We wanted to know a little more about him before we meet him...which should happen sometime very soon...like perhaps this week.


We're very excited. Birdie keeps asking us when he's coming home and Mamaw is pretty much doing the same. The worker told us that the current foster family wanted to wait until after all of the holidays but since they want him to officially move home sometime in February, the clock is ticking. We've done a lot with our house over the holiday vacation in terms of preparation. We cleared out a lot of stuff and made space. The only thing we need is a bed.

The other night I had a dream about him. I was in a store with my two boys and we were shopping for clothes and they were jumping around, playing and at one point he came over to me and gave me a giant hug. It was wonderful. I know it's going to be a little awkward in the beginning but there is still a part of me that fantasizes about him liking me from the beginning.

One of the main reasons that Howie and I decided to move forward with the adoption was not just the opportunity to help a child but the opportunity to help many children. We knew that if we did it and it worked, it would inspire others to do the same. It's been a tricky thing because I want to tell others about it and encourage them to try it but I don't want to be pushy. I understand that it's not for everyone. But I've been so surprised at how many people have come up to me and asked for information. Most of the people are ones I would have never expected! It's wonderful!

So when the local office offered the opportunity to host a "fosterware" party, I was excited. I can invite the people who have asked for information and a social worker will come to the house and answer questions and give them the information they need to make a decision. The great part about this is that these are people who had wanted the info but didn't really want to persue it until they saw someone go through it. It gives them a comfortable and safe way to get the information they need. I'm so very excited. It's such a wonderful way to inspire others. Who knows what will come out of it but just the thought that another child would find a home, temporary or permanent, because of us makes me feel wonderful!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Resolutions

1 comment:
As you can see, the blog has changed.  I got all inspired by the New Year and new beginnings and starting fresh and resolutions and all of that CRAP.  I started fishing around for new layouts, specifically three column types but since I don't have time (read: patience) to sit and sift through websites galore, I settled on the first few that I liked, this one included.  It's not my favorite but since Howie spent like 10 hourse (I kid you not) working on the basics of the code, I kind of feel obliged to keep it.  At least for a while.

I'm still working on it...trying to make it my own.  It kind of feels like I just moved into a new place and I'm still trying to find where everything goes.  It doesn't feel homey yet but let me finish some unpacking and it will start to feel more like me.

A while back when I switched my background, I did something stupid.  I didn't back my shit up which meant that I lost A LOT of stuff including my list of blogs.  I've added a few back but if you'd like me to add you to my blog list, just leave it in my comments and I'll add you up.  Also, I've added a twitter feature on here...like I need something else to keep track of.  I already post my status updates to Facebook and what I need to do is connect them so that I don't have to run around making status updates all over the place.

I also want to give the Project 365 another try.  This time I get to start at the beginning of the year.  I actually did pretty well last year until Flickr went all crazy on me and I lost everything.  It really screwed up my mojo.  But I'm hoping to get back on in the saddle this new year and get to clicking away.

I've also been thinking a lot about resolutions.  Here's a list of mine for 2010
1.  Take a picture every day
2.  Exercise everyday
3.  Read the bible everyday
4.  Get a passport
5.  Stop biting my fingernails
6.  Remember to floss twice a day
7.  Read more books
8.  Kiss Howie passionately every day (which will undoubtedly be more pleasant for him if I do #6)
9.  Get back in the 5K game and run at least 3 races
10.  Give more...of my time, my money, my energy...so much that it's uncomfortable.
11. Write a blog a day (even if it's only a paragraph)

I totally think the list is do-able.  I'll start tomorrow...the three famous (and deadly) words regarding resolutions!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

2 comments:
I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to everyone who continues to read me. I know you don't have to. You have errands to run and bills to pay and kids to bathe and food to cook and floors to clean and...DAMN, you are busy people!

I just know that it takes a lot of loyalty to keep returning to a blog...to be a consistent follower. And I am very appreciative to all of you for that. It's such a pleasure to have you read me and frankly, it humbles me to think that you would be interested enough to keep coming back.

I wish you and your families a very happy, healthy new year. May your 2010 be filled with blessings and happiness!

I am confident that my year will be brilliant and am so happy to be sharing it with you!!