Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Losing My Marbles (Literally)

 A couple of weeks ago, we visited our local Chinese restaurant. Of course, they all love Sidney, and the wife of the husband/wife team holding down the place, always stops by our table to converse with Sidney. Sometimes she tries to teach her to count in Chinese, but there is always some small lesson involved. We aren’t in very often, but it’s touching to see her try to help Sidney retain the Chinese culture.

She suddenly began inspecting the back of Sidney’s head. What??? “She have two points in back,” she said pointing at her head. “One point means she’s good easy, girl. Two points means….hmmm. I’m not sure how you say it here.” I finished her thought by saying “ornery?” She came to the conclusion this was the word she was looking for. We learned people in China look at this as a fun indicator of a child’s behavior. Oh boy, we are in trouble!
More camping mayhem. Waking up chipper like just like Mom. Not!!!

Perhaps, this is why Eli and I pulled up to the preschool to see Sidney, finishing the last few moments of outdoor play, climbing on the uppermost part of the equipment above the slide. Suddenly, I could see the teacher peeling across the small play area. “No Sidney! Get down,” she said as I read her lips. Sidney complied. I watched another two seconds before, doing the same thing. My dare devil had to try it out for herself. After the teacher lifted her down, she took back off across to the other side of the play area and mounted the caterpillar tunnel. No, no, she wasn’t going to go through it. She was going to go over it. 

Eli and I made our usual comment when we are out of ear shot from Sidney. It’s our way of bonding like the old days when Eli was an only. “She’s really something, isn’t she,” we say shaking our heads.

Tom and I have an inside joke. If she is doing something like climbing, jumping, hoping around like a frog, or scaling up the side of play equipment with gaps in the rungs half her height, we turn to one another and say in a factitious manner, “boy that special need is really slowing her down.”

Eli has finally started to come down a bit. I think he has learned not to mess with the wrath of mom. That and loosing marbles out of his jar is more painful than anything. I got this idea from another adoptive family. Marbles go in the jar for good behavior; marbles go out of the jar for bad behavior. Something like the summer my dad decided to give us tick marks for good table manners. Of course, this started when my parents saw me eating lettuce with my hands. I’ve come a long way, haven’t I Mom and Dad? 

OK, time to get up and move around. Our riding lawn mower is being repaired, and I was behind the push mower tonight for a long time. There’s something soothing about watching the neat, even rows plow down and knowing nobody is bugging me. Everyone is inside, and I am having my own moment behind the mower. Ahhh, I love summer!  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Mayhem

Our summer is flying by. A small portion of our kitchen is taken up by all matter of VBS materials as I work in preparation for the event next month. Everything is completed in large quantities. 70 foam crosses with 70 silver heating and cooling duct tape crosses, 150 nametags, 50 whales. It’s like a sweat shop. I am not the only one working feverishly, and I am so happy there are so many people I was able to hand so many things. It’s great to see people helping willingly. Sidney is convinced all this stuff I am working on means it’s time for her birthday again, and I’m collecting supplies.

Moondough....never has Sidney loved something more.
Sidney finishes summer preschool this week. This will create more hours for outside play. I think she might sleep outside, if we didn’t have to come in for the night. For a child who couldn’t put her feet in the grass two years ago, we have come a long way! And the best part, she is just like her mom as a small kid. She doesn’t care if she gets dirty! Our bathtub is getting a good workout. Eli is spending an equal amount of time outside. I love this time of year. Both kids are exhausted at bedtime!

Outdoor time for Eli also means a new group of kids. This has an impression on Eli, and it isn’t positive. I share this, because parenting doesn’t get easier. Of course, that’s an obvious statement. He is definitely testing his limits. Whatever the cause, a lack of structure and schedule in school, it’s unacceptable. He knows his boundaries, and they have been met several times this week. I felt like a mother starring in an after school special. “The pressures to follow the things your friends do aren’t going to get easier. Soon, it won’t be stupid things around the yard like pushing over your sister’s fort, because your friends think it’s cool. You will be 15, and they will be trying to hand you a cigarette.” 

My kids know I am not their friend. I tire quickly of parents that avoid all matter of discipline in order to seem cool or get along with their kids. I also watch in horror as they are completely run over. There are moments misbehavior needs to be squashed, to maintain control in the future. I sense the same type of parent misses these important opportunities and doesn’t get the nagging pit in their stomach. I feel this pit each time I know we need to conquer misbehavior in order to prevent it in the future. 

As for Sidney, she has made a new friend. It’s so fun to sit outside and watch how happy she is to have a playmate. Of course, playtime is typically broken up by someone needing to go home and use the potty or naptime. Two three year old girls after lunch swaying around, attempting to stay awake while simultaneously sucking their hand/fingers. Our neighbor finally succumbed to sleep and told Sidney who refused defeat “nap time!” She did an about face and trudged back inside while Sidney was standing there looking surprised. 

Off to the grocery store and to cut out another 100 of something and watch the skunk rocker on the Wonder Pets.  Am I the only one that thinks it’s absolutely hilarious?   

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back to Life

And she literally commented during this meal "I eat man sized breakfast."

I stuck a couple more pictures from vacation unrelated to today's post. 

We’re back to normal post vacation life. Tom working too many hours, Eli hanging out with the neighbors, mom using every spare minute to prep for VBS, and Sidney is back in her summer preschool program.

Is it me, or is the angle of this slide terrifying?

Every time I walk into the preschool with Sidney, my heart swells with joy. I know that sounds like a really dramatic statement, but for the last two years, this is all we hoped for.  No clinging behavior, no anxiousness in a new environment. She marches away without ever turning back. And each morning, I get into my car thankful God for choose Tom, Eli and I to watch all of this unfold. 

I think her preschool teacher expected a small timid little girl, but what she is discovering is tenaciousness and independence.. As Tom said one day, “dynamite comes in small packages.”  Yesterday, she told me as Sidney stood in the middle, holding onto the handle of the rope used during morning outings, she was pulling the other kids along behind her. Like, “let’s hurry this up. Why are you guys so slow?”  

This determination has defined her entire life. And I think that is why I am always so curious about her care and what took place in Chenzhou. Who shaped this personality? Her birth mom and dad?  The nannies in the orphanage?  I would like to take credit, but it’s been there since the first day we met.

I think this is why I was justifiably anxious to gain wireless access over vacation. I wanted to read the progress of the mission group traveling to Sidney’s orphanage over the same week. Groups traveling inside the orphanage are a vital link to information I never had the chance to receive. I can’t say I have read or seen so many pictures with such depth as this last group. Not only did several members blog, they took literally thousands of pictures. It’s what I expected, but it many ways so difficult. There were some things I hoped not to see. It doesn’t mean the nannies don’t love and care for the kids. To oversimplify, it’s just different.  Tom has looked at a few, but his heart can never wrap around kids living in custodial care. And it shouldn’t.  Getting comfortable means it’s easy to forget, and I know we will never stop advocating.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rain, Relaxation, and Raccoons

Our humble abode.

We survived 8 nights of camping within the confines of a 10 x 6 ft. popup camper. Given it’s dimensions, you now understand we don’t camp in something requiring its own zip code. Who wants to clean something so large on vacation?  Tom, my “husband wife” (term my mother coined on the phone this morning as she bragged up his 50/50 parenting style…….is that like a sister wife??? I hope not!) began planning this adventure last February.Tom was like a train run out of control, letting me know he thought 8 nights was the perfect amount of time. If that sounds like a long time, remember I talked him out of 9 nights. Given his stress level with work, I decided to suck it up. I tried to have a GREAT attitude, but 8 nights? What about a coffee pot and wireless internet? Maybe your own zip code is a good thing? After a couple of days waking up to freshly percolated camp stove coffee, sitting with Sidney bundled in my lap outside, I suddenly became so relaxed, all the day to day stress quickly slipped away. 

Mom, quit squeezing me, and LET ME DOWN!!!
 During the course of our adventure, I gained an intimate understanding of the state park's verminous raccoons. On one of our first nights, it seemed they were only a novelty, innocently looked down from a high tree. After tying our coolers closed, a 2:30am visit was paid by our furry neighbor. What ensued was a battle between man and beast over the next 7 nights. It seems putting the food in our vehicle wasn’t enough. As soon as we shut the camper door each night, we heard rustling around. We were unphased, knowing everything was safely put away. That’s when our furry friend turned foe took it to the next level. With both kids asleep and head to pillow I began to drift off in the cool night air. I bolted awake, hearing sniffing at the front door.  I could barely stifle my screaming to avoid alarming the kids. 

Our only reprieve was Wednesday night with heavy thunderstorms complete with wet pillows and blankets. Thank you Wal-Mart for cheap DVD’s to entertain my children in a pinch while the campsite dried out.  Let me say once again, our wisest investment to date was a small DVD player. Say what you will about the value of communing with nature. I find value in my sanity. This freed time to quietly read a ridiculous chick lit novel and play cards with Tom. I was ready to check into a hotel, but one call to my mother, our week long meteorologist, and we learned sun was in the forecast! 

Acting like I'm fishing so I can pretend we're on River Monsters.

Is it really miniature golf when your 3?
And as a concession to coming home one night early due to impending severe weather, we rented a paddle boat and explored the beach. This was only after locking our keys in the car while packing up. Thank you to the kind ranger in the park who supplied my husband the proper tools to avoid calling a locksmith. I found this relieving and frightening all at the same time. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'M BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my, the biggest blog break EVER! 9 days camping, and I had no wireles internet access! I am ready to scream it has been so long. Stay tooned to this bat station for pictures of the big campaventure. Just a teaser......bug bites, verminous raccons, and spending uninterrupted time with Tom and the kids was GREAT!