Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Break Madness

Christmas break has intensified the loving interactions which go on between brother and sister. At the beginning of the week, we could go outside, and blow off energy. We have a ton of snow, and this wears them both out in a short period. Then is started raining. If we had another day to spend today, we would definitely be visiting the McDonald’s Playland. Yes, I profess being a germophobe, but I have my limits.

I am looking for a new pair of shoes for Sidney. This is not earth shattering news, but when you have a child with a limb difference, you look for something cute with a sole. A sole accommodates the lift the local orthopedic office places inside. As best I can understand, and I am sure there is something technical in the process, they cut the sole apart and place a material in the middle. This is a means of giving her something cute without an overly orthopedic look. Many people don’t realize she has a limb difference, because she functions so well without it. We can let her run around barefooted. Our orthopedist said it will not impact her spine, because she accommodates with the other foot. Plus, if you think about how a toddler plays, they are not standing for long periods, they are typically moving from one spot to the next. Or on our case, fighting with her brother from one place to the next. I will be a bit relieved when she goes to school as she will have to keep the shoes on at all times. Despite what the orthopedist told us, common sense tells me it is easier on her back.

Dad is home today, and I am certain he will appreciate that I have sent both kids upstairs to wake him up.  We are off tomorrow to see my sister in law and family, including Sidney’s China cousin. It is amazing to me they are both from provinces next to one another. Obviously, neither of our families picked our provinces, but they still ended up being east and west of one another. I am off, the battle wages between brother and sister. I hear objects flying.  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

It’s a very quiet lazy Monday afternoon. All of the Christmas festivities have made a very sleepy Sidney and Mommy. Eli is still in some kind of post-Christmas euphoria, creating the Lego Battle of Endor. We are all recovering from a sugar hangover.  Our weekend was filled with family, leaving us very blessed to have spent time with so many people in our families. 

Tom had Christmas Eve off, so we feverishly prepared to head to his stepdad’s house. Since the death of his mother almost six years ago, and his stepfathers remarriage to Grandma Cheryll, we have gained two additional sets of cousins.  This creates a great play atmosphere, and we all look forward to these gatherings. Thirteen table leaves later, we were ready to eat. We live in an Amish community, and Tom’s mother had the table specially built, prior to her death, to accommodate our already large family. A buffet style brunch appeared , wrapping paper flew, and we were off to Tom’s Grandmas house a few miles away for the afternoon and evening.

Hanging out with Grandma Sheryl
Another group of upwards of thirty people gathered as more wrapping paper flew. I have learned to have fun in the bedlam.  My concern was Sidney’s reaction to all this activity. Last year, she was out of sorts, but this year, she threw herself into the chaos. Despite her need to be with mom at all times, she also loves to be in the spotlight. With Aunt Jill and Grandma Sheryl alternately doting on her, the little ham ball ate up the festive atmosphere. Suddenly, she threw herself into the middle of a group of small second cousins and began singing Jingle Bells. Unafraid to have her voice heard, she belted out the chorus. “Jingle bewwwlls, jingoal awl da whayyyyy!” Eli looked on, drinking his pop. I don’t allow the kids to drink any caffeinated beverages, drinking only milk (okay, maybe chocolate milk), apple juice, or water. Of course, he didn’t know it was sugar free and caffeine free. A little fact Tom left out at the refrigerator.

After this whirlwind of activity, we found it peaceful to spend the day as a family of four at home on Christmas day. At 5:30am, I heard Eli say loudly, “well, I guess I’m up for the day.” This phrase was half question half declaration. Sidney woke up as her brothers voice echoed through the house. She almost fell asleep several times while we opened gifts. An exhausted little girl slept in after ripping open her gifts.

1st Place Winner - Ugly Sweater
This was a short reprieve as we got back up early again and headed for Grandpa BobBob and Grandma Jean’s house yesterday. I will spare Tom the most revealing photos of the 1st annual ugly sweater contest which he donned sans undershirt, creating a tacky midriff bearing, yet festive top. Mom and Eli worked on their shirts on Christmas day, complete with sparkle puff paint   and sparkling balls.

Grandpa Bob and his friend (an artist) did a great job! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Finally! My husband is home for an extended weekend, and I can take on all of my pre Christmas preparation in peace! Yesterday, we made peanut butter balls and cake balls. Between Eli’s insistence that he take on dipping and Sidney handle sprinkling, and Sidney’s need to play in the sprinkles like they were a sandbox, it is a miracle everything is done. By the time we were finished, I was more than happy to hand the two off to Tom and enjoy an hour and a half of uninterrupted time, finishing shopping for stocking stuffers and a few other gifts.  
More snow.
 This morning, the kids are hanging from the rafters. I think Eli might explode before tomorrow. I am not sure there has been a minute of silence with him chattering away (as he has been known to do ). Between Christmas at three sets of grandparents, Christmas at home, and the mystery of no gifts under the tree, it is more than he can handle. After Sidney’s early Christmas, ripping open some of the gifts, I have opted to safely tuck them in an undisclosed location. New toys from an early Christmas with Tom’s parents, and talk of going to BobBob’s to open presents, have been a great distraction.

This looks like enough chocolate for me.
I have talked on several occasions about the unique bond Sidney has developed with my dad (Grandpa BobBob). In her eyes, BobBob has reached an almost super hero status. The other day, a distraught looking Sidney looked at the ground, and in a moping voice said, “when will I see BobBob?”  During the same week, in the car, on the way to Wal-Mart, she told me she had an owie. I couldn’t get into my parking spot fast enough for her liking, as she told me, “I know, BobBob help.” Some days I expect my dad to show up in a cape with a lightning bolt and a B on the back.  

I hear Tom moving, I guess that means it’s time to get productive.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Bedlam

 A possum on my deck has vacated the premises, so I can begin writing. What a nasty looking creature. As my friend made the approach to my back door, her normally friendly face became a wash of panic as she urged me to open the door quickly. I looked out to find a possum clinging to the rails of the deck.  As the creature lingered, totally unphased by my attempts to shoo it away, I made a phone call to animal control. It was playing possum (sorry, I couldn’t resist), and it refused to leave. This seemed odd, considering possum are nocturnal. I was told to contact the police, later finding out they only handle cats and dogs.  Another quick call, and Tom came home. Luckily, he was working in the vicinity. He showed up in enough time to find out it left.   

I am certain as my friend entered the safety of our home, she thought she was in bedlam. All matter of wrapping paper and boxes were strewn across the kitchen counter and table. We are in full holiday preparation mode. Eli is keeping me on schedule, giving me the number of days left each morning. Tom is working 14 hour days, so I am solo in preparation.

I typically take Sidney to drop off daycare in tight situations; however I have decided to keep her close by. With me running in twenty different directions getting ready for the holidays, she is displaying some anxious behavior. When something is different in our household, it becomes more pronounced. I have made a conscious effort to put things aside and focus on her. Eventually, the gifts will get wrapped and the to do list checked off. Tom will have added time off this week, so I am hoping the diversion and extra attention helps her feel secure again.   

On a totally unrelated topic, we are in the midst of receiving snow. It was awesome today, because I turned on a large overhead light outside and let them play in the snow after dark. It was light enough to play in the piles around our driveway, and the two of them thought it was the neatest adventure. I could barely get them inside. It is such a great way to get rid of excess energy. 

OK, more tomorrow when I have a minute.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzard and Battling Boredom

This morning off my deck.

Being cooped up in at the tail end of a Midwestern blizzard with temperatures of -2, I am not sure what exactly I have to say. I am thankful we live in town, so we can easily navigate driving. I am certain some of my metropolitan readers will find our reference, to living inside of a small community of less than 7,000, as “in town” versus living in the country amusing. It never occurred to me this was actually funny until Tom and I lived in Chicago. When we go to our large neighboring community about 20 minutes away, we refer to this as “going into town.”

Spending even a few minutes outside is dangerous. Especially today. If Eli gets cabin fever he spends 5 minutes bundling up, so he can spend 5 minutes outside. Sidney has an utter fascination with the snow. She was too little to enjoy playing outside last winter. As soon as the snow began falling Saturday, she climbed on a chair, reaching a high hook, telling us, “I go outside.” Temperatures were considerably warmer, so we could go outside and let the kids get rid of some energy. Mom shoveled, and Sidney discovered a new world. Watching her exist as a child is one of the greatest joys of being an adoptive parent.   

After being cooped up together, it felt great to attend church. Sidney received a bracelet during the children’s sermon with small beads, representing the Christmas story. Afterward, she made a game of taking the beads on and off the pipe cleaner. This might not sound newsworthy for a blog, but this is huge news in our family. She has incredible fine motor skills for someone her age, and she is missing two digits on each hand. If only I had known everything would be like this the first few days I pined away about her condition.

Confirming there were undiagnosed needs, meaning her leg with a limb discrepancy and syndactyly (webbing) on her right hand, I was in utter shock. I was prepared for this, I read the books, I talked with parents in the China adoption community; however I fell apart for a few hours after getting back to the hotel. This was no different than what any adoptive parent goes through. It only took a day to figure out Sidney was fine. None of what was going on from an orthopedic standpoint hindered her spirit. My resolve shifted from sadness about what she had endured, as a result of her condition; to understanding Tom and I were going to become her greatest advocates. What a blessing to be the person given this awesome responsibility.

I will end my blog with sharing a couple of photos of our pecans. My friend Lisa from our travel group sent me a box. We completed a majority over Thanksgiving weekend, stashing them in the freezer until I use them baking for Christmas. Eli has enjoyed assisting with the cracking. Sidney assisted for a small portion. Thank you again Lisa

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tipping Trees

 I didn’t think it was possible to tip over an entire Christmas tree. I am sure the neighbors across the street heard me scream as I tried to stand our tree back up. I don’t even think I know how it happened, it all happened so quickly. I am going to have to talk with Tom and see if he sabotaged the tree.  He finally relented and agreed to another real tree. This was a minor miracle, considering the amount of time it took me to pick one last year. Fortunately for Tom, 7 degree temperatures were conducive to a quick decision making process. I dashed out of the truck long enough to do a quick once over and darted back to the vehicle. A quick tree shake later, and we went inside to see Santa. Sidney wanted nothing to do with getting near the man in the red suite. Of course, Eli would have nothing to do with sitting in Santa's lap to show his sister it was okay. Despite her trepidation, the entire ride home, she insisted on going back to sit in Santa’s lap.

Tonight was her night. Eli had a concert for school and the man in a red suit could be seen going to the front. She alternately waved and shouted hello. She sat in his lap, looking like a deer in headlights. Of course, I didn’t have my camera, so a nice parent is forwarding photos to me. During the concert tonight I had a flashback to two years. I was sitting in the same place during a similar Christmas play wondering how things were going to happen in the next year. We had just entered the special needs program. We’ll just say it was awfully nice to have Sidney in my lap, alternately attempting to sing out loud with the songs and creating a wrestling match for mom and dad.

On an unrelated topic, we are heavy into potty training. She is either an easy child to potty train, or she started prior to coming home. I have heard this many times about orphanages with kids starting very early. Kids are put on a potty for extended periods. It is impossible to know if a young child understands the concept or simply sits there without putting it all together. Either way, she is a smart cookie, and I am hoping to have her completely out of diapers soon!

Ah, a quiet house with sleeping children. Time to relax!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This week, I was milling around Sidney’s room picking up. “NiNi’s (Sidney’s) room?” she asked. “Yes, Sidney’s room,” I said. “Oh, thank you mommy.” Not only did she thank me once, she thanked me numerous times. She is too young to have any vivid recollection of a time this room did not belong to her. Something recognized having. There are times her behavior is purely instinctual, and this was one of those times. I could almost see the wheels in her brain turning. This isn’t the first time I have mentioned, Sidney conveys many behaviors which give a window into her past. 

As I write this blog I am sitting inside, enjoying the warmth of my furnace, a cup of coffee, and my laptop, while Eli is outside before 8am shoveling the driveway. As I stumbled downstairs, hair askew (my family will appreciate this accurate portrayal), Eli was almost hyperactive, jumping up and down. It is still snowing outside, and the ground is covered for the first time this year. At this point, I was groping for the coffee while a sleepy Sidney sat on my hip, looking incoherent. He quickly wolfed down his breakfast. By 9am he has shoveled paths through the driveway and is playing with the neighbors in the backyard. This is great, because Tom is deer hunting and Eli was very disappointed not to go. Another year or two, and it will be fine. I will be out later to shovel. It is one thing that I insanely love to do. I am not sure why, I just find the whole experience enjoyable.

Speaking of enjoyable experiences, Mom took a break to go Christmas shopping while Sidney went to the daycare drop off for about 5 hours. This included lunch and a nap. I know I am an absolute wimp, but I was nervous to drop her for this period of time. Tom is working an astronomical amount of hours, so I needed the time to get things accomplished. I took note after picking her up that my trepidation was ridiculous. Not only does she enjoy her time with kids in her peer group, we both need the break. She was a bit disoriented waking up from her nap, in a new environment, and shed a few tears. This is her normal behavior as she typically wakes up grouchy.   

I didn’t realize how much I needed the mental break with the number of hours Tom works.  It is not uncommon for him to work until 10pm a couple of nights a week. These are long days. My life has become better organized as a result of the help. I am amazed what I can get done in a couple of hours when I am not interrupted. I started talking to other women staying at home with their children and online friends through China adoption. They all have a couple of hours of help a week.

OK, I am off to accomplish something.