Monday, May 30, 2011

Cake Blunders

About a month ago, I decided to get organized early. I instructed Eli to sketch out a picture of the birthday cake he had in mind. Two light sabers and lightening down each side with the phrase “Happy Birthday my 9 year old padawan,” seemed simple enough. Or so I thought. By midnight on Saturday, I gave up; deciding cake decorating is not my forte. But what happened to past years, recreating Sponge Bob and Dora? This time it was a bust.  I decided my sweet son only cared about what is going in his mouth, so I put the picture Eli drew on top of the cake and called it good. Photos of the cake were forbidden except at a side angle. I am too stubborn to give up. Maybe on Father’s Day I’ll make another attempt. I received a 4.0 cumulative GPA, completing an MBA. I recall arguing with an instructor about the B+ I received on a single assignment. My point being, I don’t give up easily. I can and will succeed decorating a cake. Eli was a great sport about the whole thing. Just a reminder of why I love my 9 year old Padawan so much. 

Tom just walked in a felicitously told me we need to turn on the oven. Eli said he would rather turn on the A/C. I’m right there with you buddy. Tom and I adamantly refuse to turn on the A/C when it cools down to the 50’s in the evening. It’s not unbearable, but you better believe, our resident heating and cooling man will have the A/C humming as soon as the evenings are warm again. 

And because my family is reading over my shoulder, they are pressuring me to include this last portion in the blog. Tom and Eli fished our local river twice over the weekend with our flat bottom boat. Tom doesn’t care about the actual fish. It can be a bottom sucking nasty fish. All Tom wants is the fight. He brought in a 20 pound carp. Tom repeated a similar mantra all weekend. “Hey, did you know I caught a 20 lbs. fish? Tom doesn’t care about what exactly he catches. It’s more important to a kid to actually catch something, so he tries to keep Eli’s interest by catching anything hooking onto his line. 

OK, off to finish working on curriculum for VBS.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eli turned 9 this week. Every birthday seems surreal. 9 years have passed since he was born, and much of it was in fast forward. Sidney is unhappy it's not her birthday. Tears and drama ensued until I was able to convince her each person much take a turn. Our talk about her birthday was simple by comparison to the other conversations over the last week. I am so happy I am the mommy helping her to understand her story. While her past is not an indication of her future, I want her to have an appreciation of its relevance in molding her life. 

I hadn't been downstairs to drink coffee, in my normal routine. I was incoherent and a bit out of it. “Go to China mommy?" Repeatedly, last week I heard the same question. This time her tone was different. Something was brewing in her head. She wasn't satisfied with my typical answers. I can't tell you exactly how the questions lead up to "why?" Ultimately, she asked why did I live in an orphanage and why China? She is smart beyond her 3 years. She is searching to understand as much as her three year old mind allows her to comprehend.

I found a simple way of explaining. As much as it tears at my soul to tell the story, I found a way. I fully believe she understood everything I told her. I am tired of the misconception small kids understand nothing. It has been my experience, they understand much more than we give credit.

This conversation was a reminder, there are circumstances and realities, I will never face or endure as a mother. Circumstances and realities her birth parents and family certainly still face. Nobody is telling me how to determine my child's fate or pressuring me to make a decision. And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't consider what life is like for Sidney's parents. I will never know them in this life, but I always pray they find peace and sense her wellness. 

I also think of all of this as opportunity makes a way for Sidney in the world. She will start a summer program for preschool. It is only four weeks and introductory, but it is opportunity. It is all parents the world over want for their children. I watch her take this step with so much appreciation for what we can and will continue to do in her life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Sort of


And after a LONG time without my camera, I give you the family camping trip 2 weeks ago. Of course, I am not sure if it qualifies as a trip, because it was only 15 minutes from home. It didn't matter. It was a blast.

Eli, stay out of the fire! One of the only decent photos I have of Eli 
from the weekend. He likes diving out of the photos.

Quit pulling my hair!

Tom - Camp chef and tin foil potato master.
Deep thoughts by Sidney.

Every girl needs to go camping equipped with a Dora fishing pole.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quick Update

Mom and Sidney had haircuts.  Sidney sat soaking up every girly girl moment of the process. Hair blown dry and strait ironed, Sidney came into the wind, squealing "no, my hair, wind blow!" Our entire one block walk was filled with concern over her new "do." To be the mom of a pint sized diva is a new adventure each day. And just to clarify, I don't encourage this behavior. This is 100% Sidney.

For all the girly girl behavior, she is a bit of a tomboy. If we didn't need to get anything else done, she would stay out from morning until night. So different from the girl we brought home two summers ago that cried standing barefoot in the grass.

Need my camera! No more cell!
Eli finishes school this week which means it will be my job to keep him occupied. I am thinking a few chores each day. I am also going to start a better reward/punishment system. Marbles given and taken away. A genius idea used by another adoptive mom and Eli's school. Reaching a certain amount means doing something special.  This is a good excuse for Tom or I to spend time with Eli one on one. A little sister is a great distraction from Mom and Dad's attention.

I think I better stop writing. Eli is reading from the "Encyclopedia of Inmaturity." I heard the words, "baking soda, vinegar, toilet paper, and ziplock."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Raisins and Kleenex

In the last five minutes I have explained to Sidney why we don’t throw raisins on the floor like dog food and later, that Kleenex is needed to hand Mom things out of her nose. Such is the life of a stay-at-home mom. Someday, when I am using my MBA, I wonder if I will have a hard time imagining all of this. 

I have tried posting photos and blogging this week, but I was having issues, so here goes…..

Like so many other adoptive parents, I am part of a yahoo group made of parents of children from Sidney’s orphanage. From time to time, we hear of groups going on mission trips to CCWI (Chenzhou Children’s Welfare Institute) in Chenzhou, Hunan. This was Sidney’s orphanage. Typically, it is a church or Christian based group. Babies are rocked, older kids do crafts and generally receive extra attention. Projects on the grounds are also completed. Another group is headed over in a couple of weeks. If you think of this group, include them in your prayers. This is an emotional experience but one which touches children who might otherwise be forgotten by the world.

I plan on going on one of the trips when the kids are older. I don’t say “if” I go on a mission to her orphanage, I say “when.” Tom isn’t convinced he could ever go. Only because he wouldn’t be allowed to pack the kids into his suitcase, throw an addition on the house, and smuggle his mother’s 13 leaf table into our kitchen. 

Someone is keeping a blog. I am drawn to it for obvious reasons. It is my job to understand as much as possible. Thinking about her environment and seeing are two different things. This isn’t easy stuff. A few months back, I talked about a professional photographer that went inside Sidney’s orphanage. It always takes me a couple of days afterward to snap out of seeing the photos.  I feel haunted by the images of the children left behind. I guess that is why I keep up the blog almost 2 years after our return. I don’t want to develop a complacent attitude.  

On a less serious, potty training is going very well! Sidney has given up some of the behavior in which she adamantly refused. 

OK, off to repot Eli’s proliferous tomato plants.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Sidney is contemplating why a three year old doesn't loose their teeth. A typical conversation in our household. I intended to post photos of our camping adventure over the weekend, but I left my camera at my mom's house. I admit, Saturday morning was a bit rough. Grouping around the camper looking for  coffee as Sidney screamed about going outside (a "patient" 3 year old unable to wait), I was wondering why we do this. I needed to buck up and snap out of it. By noon, seeing Tom and the kids with his undivided attention, I was happy we made the effort.

We had the opportunity to meet a young teen with what I believe was a cochlear implant. As he strolled past Eli, they struck up quick conversation. After a few minutes, Eli said "what is that on your head?" I cringed, thinking, how many times has this kid explained? He told Eli in articulate detail about his medical condition. Eli's response, "oh" in a disinterested manner. He was focused on picking up the conversation they started prior to his discovery. It was the first time I have thought about Eli's reaction to special needs. He interacts with the person, not the special need. If you are thinking, duh, of course he does, I can tell you this is a big deal.

I wish I could say Sidney fared as well. She played with a group of kids for upwards of 3 hours before anyone noticed her hands. After they noticed, they squatted down, surrounding her in her toddler lawn chair, grabbing her hands for inspection. Mama bear was about to growl, but Sidney took care of the situation.  She took her pint sized foot and kicked her in the face. Now, before you let out a cheer, remember, she shouldn't be kicking other kids. I do understand she has a right to her own body, and she felt threatened. And it was more of a nudge than a kick. There was no injury.

 OK, back to the land of Panda's and more VBS. Good thing I am a list maker.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Potty Success!

I get up in the morning and make a game plan before I am out of bed. It drives Tom crazy. You can imagine the twists and turns my children have created are a positive factor. Sidney senses my need to plot and plan. When Mom was ready to potty train, and Sidney decided she was going to keep using pull up's (I have determined, pullups are evil), it was a battle of wills. I realized, and I stepped back. 

So imagine my surprise last Thursday. Miss Tracey, her teacher from once per week morning playtime, said she used the potty three times in a row. Little turkey knew exactly what to do. Mom decided it was time to act. I was hesitant prior to last week. Anything extra typically causes her additional stress. And adoptive parents know it's not typical acting out. I decided we were going to have fallout no matter the timing. Friday night at midnight, a couple of night terrors later, I was questioning my judgment. Turns out by Saturday, she was still using the potty and the night terrors were no more! Mommy could not be prouder!

By Saturday morning (this is nothing short of a miracle), Tom was not working for our business or his 9-5 job, so he was there to assist. I am kicking myself for not having a camera at the ready on Saturday morning. Sidney was pushing daddy. Daddy was talking to her, sitting on the potty chair while holding up a pair of Dora underwear, in deep conversation with Sidney. This would have made a GREAT shot for the blog. Oh, well. Maybe I'll catch him next time.