Saturday, November 29, 2008

Have you ever?

I know, not a first for me, I will be plagarizing someone else's blog today. This was just too good! You know what a list maker I am! The things I've done are in bold.
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke - I'd rather forget this
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous - David Hasselhoff (does this count?)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Surprinsingly more things in bold than I thought. Perhaps I'm not as boring as I once thought. Now I just need to join a band and play under a meteor shower in Hawaii. I'll work on that!

My Non-Thanksgiving-eating son...

As you may have guessed, Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. Jeff and I refused to eat breakfast on Thursday... so that we'd be able to enjoy the food at lunch all the more. Even though we're wearing our best stretchy pants and obsessing over food, Thanksgiving is so much more than food for us. We watch movies, football, and take the occasional catnap. We just spend time together. Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays for us because the expectations are pretty low. You don't have to entertain anyone. We all just hang out...and eat. And be grateful.

Josh woke up on Thanksgiving determined to not like it. He was sure he wasn't going to like the food. He wasn't even going to try it. We tried so hard to make all of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes because we wanted them to "really" experience Thanksgiving. This was their first Thanksgiving. As with all of their firsts this year, we wanted to make sure they experienced it in real American style - overindulged!

And Josh wouldn't try it.
When asked what was his favorite dish ... he replied, "nothing."

We had a good Thanksgiving anyway. It was one of the best in recent years. Jordan tortured Josh by making him carry and take care of Justine's baby "Veronica." Everytime he set her down, Jordan would say, "Josh, Veronica's crying. You'd better pick her up." And he would do it. It actually helped to break his icy mood. It helped to make him laugh. It helped to make all of us laugh and forget his being "difficult." It helped me forgive him for not liking my favorite holiday.

I had the time to remember back to last Thanksgiving when I was anticipating our upcoming court date. I would have done anything for them to be here. It wouldn't have mattered if he liked the food or not. It wouldn't have mattered that he came home and ate a bowl of cereal for Thanksgiving dinner. It just wouldn't have mattered.

And so on this Thanksgiving, I was able to just be grateful that we were all together. I thank God for my husband, my kids, my family, my house, my job, good health, and my non-Thanksgiving-eating son from Ethiopia who is such a pain, but who is also so absolutely wonderful and here at last.

P.S. Jameson ate her weight in Thanksgiving Day food ... and pretty much thinks he's crazy for not liking it. She wants Thanksgiving every day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Thanksgiving...

Poor Justine will be having an appetizer of Albuterol, with a side of Pulmicort, an entree of Zithromax and lots of liquids to drink.

She has been sick for 4 weeks now and just can't seem to kick this terrible cough. Last night, she spiked a fever and said her chest hurt. So me being the responsible mother and nurse that I am finally took her to the doctor. She has left lower lobe pneumonia, right lower and middle lobe pneumonia. She was wheezing and had crackles in both bases of her lungs. Her oxygen saturations were low in the office and she looks like crap!

We are all loving on her and babying her even more than we usually do.
I hope she feels better by tomorrow, she was really looking forward to some pumpkin pie!

Just to make you laugh


Chapter 5

This chapter in Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child is about resiliency and reactive coping behaviors.

The chapter starts out talking about how the life of an adopted child changes so dramatically. In one day... they are suddenly immersed in an almost dream-like life. And their little lives are never the same again. Wow. My friend Julia wrote about the same subject last week. It really helps to think about it in their perspective. You can read her post here. It's awesome.

People react to stress in two different ways. This book describes this as revving up and shutting down. The revving up stage is the fight or flight where one prepares for battle. The other response is shutting down. This is "playing dead" or appearing to be asleep. Internationally adopted kids can go between both behaviors. The purpose of these behaviors is their own protection and an attempt to gain balance in their physiological and emotional states.

This book describes 5 reactive coping pattern. It's so funny because I can see the kids in all of these roles at one time or another.
The Warm Rock - Quiet, withdrawn, sleeping
The Stunned Rag Doll - Spacy, frozen, limp
The Dizzy Performer - Active: performing and charming, overly friendly to adults
The Royal Boss - Controlling and demanding; may throw tantrums
The Unwilling Guest - Rejecting and sad; waiting, searching, or calling; or hyper-alert

This chapter really helped me to identify which of these behaviors my kids display and to try to figure out what's behind those behaviors. I can remember when we first got home, and Jameson was SO friendly. She was all over everyone all the time. She had no qualms about going with anyone. Everyone kept saying, "Oh, she's doing so well." And she was, and yet... I kept thinking, "that's just not right" It bothered me that she appeared to be attached to me, until I saw that she was JUST as attached to everyone else who crossed her path. I think this is somewhat better, but perhaps there will always be a bit of dizzy performing in her. At least now, she pretends to be shy and hide behind me before she performs for the stranger. Josh defintely takes on more of the more quiet behaviors.

What the behaviors mean:
Warm Rock - Shuts down to manage overstimulation, feels rejected or inadequate.
Stunned Rag Doll - Shuts down to think about the past and be disconnected from the future
Dizzy Performer - Active and revved up, overstimulated, in denial about major life changes
Royal Boss - Controlling, revving, helpless, frightened and out of control
Unwilling Guest - Rejecting, alternately revving and shutting down with grief, loss, sadness, and anger, waiting to be "found," or searching for lost caregiver

"Children with complex backgrounds tend to revert to their old coping behaviors and survival skills."
They are unable to generalize their connection and resilency behaviors from one day to the next. You may have progress on one day and then be right back where you started the next day. I think this is where our frustration comes in. We will finally see progress and then attempt to relax a little. Then the old behaviors are right back again. This book does a good job at telling what to do with your new baby, such as feeding from a bottle. But, as usual, strategies for older children are lacking. I am obviously not going to feed my 9 and 11 year old a bottle or hand feed them like a baby. But they are right on as far as figuring out what's behind the behavior. I know that at times when Josh acts like the warm rock, I tend to pull away from him thinking that he probably needs his space. In looking at it, if he is feeling rejected and then I pull away, it's probably adding to his problem. Perhaps when Josh is a stunned rag doll and stuck in the past, I need to help him to think about his future. I need to help him to see his future... to give him hope. Anyway, we'll give it a shot. If not, I guess I can look for some baby bottles. I'm sure he'd really think I was crazy if I tried to rock him and feed him a bottle wouldn't he?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chapter 4 and my AHA moment...

I'm probably going to be sued for copyright infringement for plagarizing this chapter of the book I've been reading. Oh well. I give all the credit to the book Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child. Chapter four deals with survival skills vs. family skills. While I was reading this chapter, I had a total aha moment regarding Josh.

Survival skills are the skills a child develops in response to neglect or deprivation. Deprivation is defined as the lack of the physical necessities or life: food, warmth, and shelter. Neglect is defined as the lack of consistent, nurturing attention from, and social interaction with an adult. Children develop survival skills in order to make the best out of their current situation.
It is necessary to recognize that everyone in Josh and Jameson's life did the best they could to care for them. Their parents did the best they could. Their grandmother did the best she could do with what life dealt her. And definitely everyone at Hope did the best for them that was possible. Because Josh is older and was always the leader of all the kids at Hope, I suspect that his survival skills are much more developed than you would expect.

Family skills are those skills a child develops when they are raised in a nurturing environment with a consisent caregiver. Family skills grow gradually whereas survival skills develop quickly. Family skills are based on connections between a child and an adult. There is a sense of interdependency. Children with good family skills have good communication, are able to cooperate and share.

"Children using survival skills are often manipulative."

OK, here was my AHA moment.
"The child who relies on survival skills, (sic)... has the identity or role of the boss who takes care of everything. Yet this boss-like identity is not built on strength, knowledge, and capability, for a child is essentially weak. Instead, it is an identity that forces the child to create a semblance of those traits, a false maturity."
"This pseudomature identity may fool some adults, including parents, into thinking that the child is secure and competent. In fact, such a child feels lost, alone, weak, and afraid, as well as fraudulent."

This book explains that kids who develop survival skills become tough, smart, strong, and persistent kids. It is important to recognize and acknowledge these strengths while at the same time attempting to develop their family skills. I think this is the point where I realized that I need not be irritated at these survival skills, but should relish these traits and be so grateful that the children acquired them because it's what kept them alive.

In order to develop family skills, children need specific instructions as to how to acquire these skills. I think this is where we get frustrated because sometimes we assume that they should know how to live in a family. They should know how to communicate. They should know what to do. And they don't! Acknowledging their good survival skills, while encouraging new family skills is going to be so important. For example, Josh always just walks off like he knows where he's going. This started in the airport in Germany on our way home and has continued to this day. He would just walk off in a different direction, taking the lead, and having absolutely no idea where he was going. He has this sense of uber confidence that makes it SEEM like he knows what he's doing when he really has NO idea. And so it's important for us to say to him, "I love that you are not afraid of getting lost in this big place, but I need you to let me be the leader."
We have to teach them to depend on us. We have to teach them that they don't have to fake being the boss. They don't have to fake being the adult. They now have an adult.

This chapter was really good for me to read. This is one of the things that frustrates me so much about Josh is this uber confidence when he has absolutely no idea what's going on. This has accounted for a lot of his actions in deleting pictures off my camera, breaking my computer, ordering pay per view etc. He just hits buttons and continues to do so until it either works or stops working all together. He has a hard time asking for help. We have to look for opportunities to allow him to depend on us. I think I have been trying so hard to teach him to NOT rely on me and to become responsible and quit forgetting his stuff all the time. Perhaps I was backwards in my thinking. Perhaps I need to allow him to rely on me a little more in order to allow him to rely on family skills instead of survival skills. Definitely something for us to try.

And so that is the very long, very wordy explanation of my AHA moment.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight in the wee morning hours...

In order to have a date night with my husband, we had to get everyone fed and in bed and deep in REM sleep before we snuck out of the house for our midnight showing of Twilight.

Before you all hotline me... Jordan was home with all of them while they slept.

I'm pretty sure we were the oldest ones there. I heard some teenager say, "Look at that woman over there texting..." Like I was too old to know how to text... Oh lord!

The movie was good because I love the story. It was different. It was weird. People were laughing when I'm pretty sure they weren't meant to. Jasper had this really weird look on his face throughout the whole movie. I don't know. I enjoyed it, but I'm not a movie critic. I stayed awake through the whole movie, which is usually how I judge whether they were good or bad.

It definitely made me want to read the book again because the the movie in my head was probably better than the one on the big screen.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Countdown to Edward... err, I mean Twilight...

Look over there... do you see the countdown for Twilight?
Guess what?
Yep, I'm going. I'm going to go drink a pot of coffee to stay awake for the midnight show.
Like I'll need it... Edward will be there.

Another Josh Puppet Show

OK, I know it's sideways and really out of focus... but skip ahead to 4:22 and check out Josh and Jordan. (You can watch the rest of the video if you want to... it's really cute, but not as side splitting as Josh and Jordan.)


African Playdoh

Jameson while playing with playdoh... "We have playdoh in Africa... it's called mud."

My personal entertainers...

I've had a somewhat stressful week. As I was struggling to finish the dreaded video and had to run to WalMart to buy DVD's for said dreaded video and miss dinner with my family, I was definitely not in a pleasant mood. Jordan asked me what she could do to make it better. She started listing off ideas: clean up after dinner, watch a movie with me, paint my toenails, draw a hot bath for me... and my was reply was "I want a puppet show."

Her reply, "Uh, Um, OK."

And so this eighteen year old who has so much more to do than produce puppet shows featuring 5 younger siblings, put on the mother of all puppet shows for me. I cried I was laughing so hard. They were all really good, but I think Josh won the prize for biggest surprise actor in a puppet role. He was absolutely hysterical. Comedic timing, funny accent... everything. It's the most we've heard him talk in 9 months. We should have put a puppet on his hand the minute he got here. His first show was the best, but it didn't tape well because I was laughing so hard the camera was shaking all over the place. Here's his second performance.
Make sure you watch it all the way through... the ending is the best. And listen for "sweetey and dizzert." It's hysterical.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You should try this...

We have actually started talking like this when we say each other's names... very entertaining and mentally soothing. You should try this.

A Rant of a Different Kind...

If you are expecting me to be politically correct in this post... STOP READING NOW. We can all sing kumbaya later... right now, I am going to rant.

I must admit that today... I am officially "Ethiopian'd" out.

I received a phone call a few days ago from the father of a friend who has adopted from Ethiopia. I had offered to help him a few weeks ago make a video of his pictures from Ethiopia. Offered to help... Volunteered to help... ie: did the whole entire thing myself. OK. That's fine. I did it. I did it well. I didn't complain (much). We have already discussed my inability to tell people no.

So last week, in the midst of a very busy time in my life... he called to say he needed me to do one more thing for him... make another video with a few days notice... I actually burst into tears on the phone. For a split second, all I could think of was haven't I done enough? Haven't I loved the people of Ethiopia enough for awhile? I have nothing left to give to anyone else. I know. I sound so horrible and selfish and awful. Anything you're thinking couldn't be worse than what I'm feeling about myself.

So now there is an Ethiopian get together this weekend for kids adopted from Ethiopia in the area. We usually go. We usually are involved in it. We usually bend over backwards to get everyone there. We can't make it this time unless we skip Jack's soccer game or I don't go to work, which is not an option. I almost felt guilty for saying we wouldn't be there. I almost felt like a bad adoptive parent for not giving the kids the opportunity to see their Ethiopian friends.

And then something hit me. You know what? My OTHER kids haven't been to an activity that wasn't an Ethiopian event in months. They miss birthday party after birthday party because of Josh's soccer schedule. They rarely get to do anything that is just about them. And the conclusion I came to today... is that what we are lacking is balance.

We are now beginning a quest for balance. Yes, our kids are Ethiopians... but they are also Ellerbees. And while you can seek to fix all that is wrong with the world and make Ethiopia your mission (as well it should be), you can also allow it to take your focus away from the fact that your kids need you now. I wish that I could take on every project and do every charitable thing possible to help, but sometimes there comes a time when your kids just need family time as much as they need Ethiopian time. And that's where we're at right now.

OK, that's it. I'm done with that rant. Whew, I feel better now.
Anyone for a round of kumbaya?

The rest of our family pictures...



I searched through my travel stuff and found the actual paper I took to Grandma's. Some of these questions I was too chicken to ask, but wish now that I had.

Here's that list:

  • Parents Names and what their names meant.
  • How old were their parents when they died.
  • How did they die? Where and When? Burial sites? Were the kids present? I wish I would gotten more details about this, but the kids were there and I didn't want to upset them. Jameson asked me why her mother was not buried in a cemetary here in Springfield and I hate that I don't have an answer as to where her mother is buried. When we asked Grandma about their deaths, she was very vague and we could tell we weren't going to get much info. "They got sick and died." That was all she would tell us. Their father died 7 years before and their mother 4 years before. We don't know how they died. And who knows, it could have been a million different treatable illnesses. And it doesn't really matter.
  • Where were the kids born - information about their birth - didn't get a lot of info about that
  • Grandma's name and address - OK to write - This shows how much I didn't understand - there are no addresses, so we figured out how to get pictures and letters to her through Rahel at Hope.
  • What were the kids like as babies? as kids? childhood stories.
  • Who were they named after? What do their names mean?
  • Who named them?
  • How old were their parents when they had them?
  • Anything special she wants us to know about parents or kids?
  • Any other living relatives? This was answered as there were uncles and cousins there when we went to visit.
  • Do the kids have a close relationship with grandma - again, this was obvious once we saw them together.
  • Medical background of kids - "they very good..." That's about it.
  • What did parents do for a living
  • What were their parents like?
  • personalities?
  • Religious background of parents/kids
  • What have kids been told about parents deaths?
  • What have they been told about adoption
  • Do the kids look like their parents?
  • relationship of kids with parents?
  • special needs of kids
  • what do kids and grandma think of them being adopted
  • family traditions

    To be perfectly honest, I was so overwhelmed with emotion when I saw grandma, that I just cried and cried and had a hard time even talking or asking a lot of questions. As we got more comfortable - we asked more questions. As first I asked if they had any pictures of the kids parents and she said, no,no, no. Then as time went on, she started pulling out old pictures out of a chest which held EVERYTHING the woman owned and there were pictures of Josh as a baby, their parents, cousins. I laid out the pictures on my lap and took pictures of each and every picture so that the kids would have those later. I am SO thankful that I had the presence of mind to do that. Our driver Alazar was there with us and did most of the translating for us. Even he was getting teary eyed from my blubbering. We went back 2 times and spent time with Grandma. I was not prepared for the emotion of it. Grandma just hugged me and comforted ME, while she was giving us these children. I felt like such a schmuck!

I hope this list helps those of you who are soon to travel. You will never get as much information as you want... you will leave there thinking, "Oh, I should have asked that..." and "Why didn't I ask that..." But at least this gives you something to go on when you are all emotional and crazy in the moment.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Something's missing...

Jackson went home today. And while it's good to get things back to normal... (whatever that is)... it's very obvious that something's missing. While fixing dinner tonight, I could have sworn I saw Jackson coming around the corner. We had such a great time with him. I don't know if he had a good time or not... Justine was sick like the whole, entire time he was here. I was a wee bit stressed out... and Josh had a great time with him, and they all got along great. I would post the pictures they took of each other and that I took of them... but in in typical Josh style, they've all been deleted. Imagine that! Jackson, we will miss you so much and had so much fun while you were here.

Chapter 3...

Ok so in my very layman, laid back, lackluster review of the book I happened upon at the library last week, today I will discuss Chapter 3 of Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child.

This chapter seemed like a no brainer to me. The title is "Identity and Your Child's Complex Background". I think this is something most of us have down pat. Basically they say that in order for your child to be able to construct their own positive identity, they must be able to tell their own story. In order to tell their own history, we must share everything we know with them.

Our kids are older, and therefore we probably have more information than most families. In that sense, we are so lucky. We have close relationships and ties with their immediate family and have met those who remain in Ethiopia. Josh is old enough to tell us stories about Ethiopia. Of hyenas and their two little brothers who were adopted to Germany. Jameson doesn't remember as much, and therefore relies on Josh to fill in the details. Thank God they have each other.

Before we ever picked up the kids, my good friend Julie gave me a book about creating Lifebooks for your adoptive kids. This was a great resource for me when I prepared to visit with their grandmother. I used that book to make a list of things I knew they would want to know later on. The information I got from grandma is invaluable to us, and I know I never would have been able to think of all the questions on my own.

As a person adopted as an infant, I can guarantee that any information you can give your child will help to shape them and give them a sense of identity. I know that what little information I had about my birth parents made me feel like I came from "something," I didn't just show up in this family without any history. My mom always told me that my birth mother was good in English... how she knew this, I have no idea. But I have often wondered if I always loved English, creative writing and reading because she truly was good at English, or just because I thought she was.

Tell your child's story to them as many times and as often as you think they need to hear it. Teach them about Ethiopia. Tell them whatever history you know. Even if it hurts you. Even if it makes you feel inadequate. Even if you want to just put all that behind you. Remember that your child didn't just show up. They had a history. They had a beginning. Remember to share that openly with them.


Of our Christmas card photo... and our first family picture.
I will scan the rest and get them on as soon as I can. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy 18th Jo

Jordan turned 18 on Friday November 7th. Unbelievable. Inconceivable. Unimaginable.
Jordan's dad Brian and his wife Adell and their very gorgeous baby Ella came from Oregon to help us celebrate her birthday. Brian and I were very young when Jordan was born. 19...barely. When people tell me, "You don't look old enough to have an 18 year old..." I always reply, "I'm not." But her birth was the first of many moments in my life that made me realize that there is usually a bigger plan to all of this stuff we call life. And while she may not have been our plan... initially... she definitely shaped our plans for the rest of our lives. She has been such a wonderful, perfect gift to all of us. There have been many things I have done wrong in my life... but the way Brian and I, and Jeff and Adell, have parented her has not been one of those things. I believe that even though we were stupid kids, we handled her birth and our parting better than most adults do. We have remained friends. We have rejoiced with each other in finding our life long mates. Our spouses have helped us to shape her into the wonderful woman she now is. I consider Adell a friend, and I couldn't have picked a better step mom for her. There is no fighting and no back stabbing and no harsh feelings. We feel blessed to have them as a part of our family.

Jordan and her two tickets to see the Eagles. Thanks to Uncle Ben.

Happy Birthday Jo. We wish you the best year yet, and we love you so much words can't even describe.

What's your personality cluster?

Your Personality Cluster is Introverted Intuition

You are:

You are multilayered and complex. No one can quite understand you.

You are very inspired and driven to achieve your goals.

Whether you know it or not, you are a visionary with a complete life plan.

You are intuitive enough to understand difficult problems, ideas, and people.

So what's your personality cluster? Do you have one?
I think this is pretty much right on for me. I am such a planner. I so over plan everything and then I get frustrated when things don't go exactly as I planned. One year we went on vacation to San Antonio and on the way there, I realized that Six Flags wasn't going to be open on the day we were planning on going... WallyWorld Style. I almost had a nervous breakdown in the car.
I do have such a life plan. I even made a map years ago which actually SHOWED which direction I wanted my life to go in ... complete with pictures. I still have it some where around here. I should search for it. I must admit I don't believe there were 6 kids on that map. But the rest of it... it's pretty much right on. I am like as Shrek says, "an onion." I definitely have many layers. (And no I don't stink.)
Let me know what your personality shows.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What I gleamed from Chapter 2...

This chapter in Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child dealt with Identity, attachment, connection and resilency. We are all well versed on the "attachment" catch phrase. Every adopted parent dwells on attachment. Are we attached? Is my child able to attach? Are they going to be able to attach to us? This book takes an interesting perspective on attachment.

"You and your child are creating a relationship, just as a weaver creates a weaving. Think of connecting as the process of weaving, whereas attachment is the completed piece of cloth."

This take on attachment actually made me feel somewhat better. What was it that I expected anyway? Immediate attachment? Am I depressed and worried because I don't feel like we have that completed tapestry in just 9 short months? Clearly different children attach or connect differently, and it must be assumed that it is all on their own time frame.

The author goes on to explain identity, connection and resilency as the three cornerstones of development. The book also explains chemical changes that occur in the brain of a child who has experienced trauma and loss. They live in a constant state of "fight or flight." They describe this as a "stress-shaped brain."

Parents can help children build new, healthier brain pathways with which to problem solve and learn to cope effectively.

One of the things I found most reassuring of this chapter was the fact that when internationally adopted children take two steps forward, they often take ten steps back. It certainly does seem that when we pat ourselves on the back for making progress with the kids and Josh specifically, things are doomed for weeks after.

I will leave you with the one sentence that perhaps meant the most to me.

"Children need our help most when they are at their worst."
How true and how hard that fact has been for us to accept. But we are working on it.

Alligator...Elevator... Same thing

Today Jameson said, "Mommy do you remember when you put me in the alligator on my bed at the hospital?"


"You know... the alligator..."


"The thing that goes up..."

"Oh that's an ELEVATOR..."

"Oh well same ting..."

Pretty close.

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of High School Musical.

This is too funny.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Diving in...

With my Twilight book quadrology completed, I am seeking some new reading material. While at the library today, I happened to glance down and see the book titled, Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Gogen. If you are interested, you can find this book here at amazon. Well isn't that just a coincidence? Because that's exactly what I need assistance with! So of course I added it to our milk crate on wheels that we take weekly to the library.

Chapter One: I began reading with enthusiasm. The book follows five families who have adopted during their first year at home. The backgrounds of the children range from foster care to orphanages with single caregivers to many caregivers. The children range in age from 7 months to the oldest at age four.
Well crud.
The air is definitely let out of my sails because I need help with my older adopted kids, and it's next to impossible to find any literature and research about older kids! But I decide to keep reading thinking that perhaps it may shed some light on our kids. Later on in the chapter, it actually addresses the fact that even if your kids are older, it's important to learn about the information in these early chapters. Yeah, score one for me!

And so I am diving in. And I thought I would share the highlighted points with all of you.
(OK so I'm not actually highlighting in a library book, but you get my point)
OK my pearl from chapter one:
"Children with complex backgrounds do not communicate clearly about their needs. Parents must behave as if the child has expressed those needs."

I am looking forward to increasing my knowledge about how to interpret their needs. Maybe I am missing something with Josh. Maybe he is trying to tell me something, but he just lacks the ability to do so. It is so confusing because when he wants something, he can be so charming and sweet. Josh and Jackson wanted to watch a movie tonight, therefore I received feedback, some eye contact, complete sentences and even a hug and a kiss. I know that he knows HOW to do these things... I just don't know how to get him to do these things on a consistent basis without feeling like I am constantly being manipulated.

Well off to do some reading. I'll let you know what pearl Chapter 2 holds for me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Double Feature...

9 months home...
An Attitude of Gratitude.

I was going to write about these two subjects separately, but they are so closely related today that you are getting a double feature.

Today our semon at church was on being blessed and being grateful. I am always amazed that God always knows what I need to hear most.
Here's what I heard:

1) God knows your situation.
2) God is with you in your situation.
3) God can help change your situation.

God knows what is going on in our lives. He knows our situations with family, career, finances, health. He is standing in those situations right beside us.
We need to be grateful for all of our imperfect gifts. We are all imperfect gifts. My kids are imperfect gifts. My spouse is an imperfect gift. And yes, I am an imperfect gift. I was reminded that I need to be grateful for these kids... these kids I prayed for... these kids I would have given my right arm for.... all 6 of these kids God has blessed me with. I need to be grateful for them in their imperfect state. I need to replace the anxiety and frustration I feel with gratitude. When God brings me through another day, another "situation," I need to worship him and give him thanks.
The kids service was about gratitude as well. Family theatre is as much fun as educational for the kids. Today they had a video clip about a kid who realized how much his mother did for him and how ungrateful he had been. I sat in kids church with silent tears rolling down my face, as I realize that gratitude or lack thereof is one of the things that is really gnawing on me. Josh did come home and take out the trash (one of his assigned chores this week) without being told to. This is a first.... ever. So maybe I'm not the only one who heard something useful at church today. I can only pray that everyone took something home with them from that sermon.

Tomorrow marks 9 months home for Josh and Jameson. Wow.

We continue to deal with the little things. The little things that I hope are just normal for people who were strangers 9 months ago and are now living in close quarters. There are days when things are perfect. There are still those days when all of us are struggling. Sorry to those of you who were thinking 9 months might be that perfect time for things to fall into place.
Jameson is doing great in school. Her reading has improved so much! I have never seen a child who tries harder. She is so eager and willing to learn. I believe Jameson has some real learning disabilities and has a much harder time grasping new concepts. It took her 30 minutes to figure out what number came between 209 and 211 last week, and we have been working on this for 12 weeks now. But she tries so hard and she wants to learn.

Josh remains a huge mystery to me. He continues to be SO disconnected from all of us. There are days when Josh just exists, and then there are days when he seems to be awake and interacts with us. I'm sure that things are better with Josh than they were months ago, but it gets harder to see that. The longer they are home, in some ways, it becomes more difficult. It becomes more difficult and annoying to have to tell him again that sweatpants and a button up shirt and flip flops in November are not appropriate for church. It becomes more difficult and annoying to have to tell him again to speak in sentences instead of one word caveman commands. It becomes more difficult and annoying to see him spaced out and not paying attention again. Unfortunately I can sense that we are all losing our patience with him more often now. I think this is a collective family UGH. We are all tired.

School is going well. We have considered putting Jameson in third grade at Gloria Deo next year with the other kids, but I don't think Josh will ever be able to do that. The social anxiety and lack of motivation will hold him back from this very difficult school. He just officially finished first grade and we are skipping second grade, but I would say he's probably more like a third grade level. We are going to try to get through fourth grade this year. He is a very smart boy. He just does not apply himself. He does the least amount to get by and still thinks that I won't notice if he skips pages in his work. We motivate him through soccer. If he wants to play soccer, he has to do well at home and in school. Unfortunately this is the only way to motivate him to do anything.

It is so easy to get caught up in the stuff that is making me crazy that it sometimes is difficult to appreciate the kids for the wonderful, imperfect gifts that they are. I am trying to see them for who they are. Who God made them. And I am trying to be grateful for who God made them.

I seriously feel like some sort of wicked person because I am always correcting, always telling no, always getting on to, and seemingly always remembering only the negative. It really isn't all negative. It really isn't all bad. It just isn't all good either. And so we just continue on our goal of becoming a united, engaged family. Here's to month 10.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A video of Jeff playing golf...


The Self Help Section

Yesterday I went to Borders and perused the self help section. I had successfully weaned myself off the self help books some time ago. A few years ago, I realized I ONLY read self help books. I never read for fun. I never read for entertainment. I never even read to learn something. I only read to solve my issues. I have to say I fell off the wagon yesterday and spent a great deal of time in the self help section.

I stood in Borders Bookstore absolutely cracking myself up. Here are some of the titles I was most interested in.

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness - this one wasn't for me, but I will let you guess who it is for.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People - I checked this out from the library one time and couldn't get it together enough to actually read it . So much for being highly effective.
The Anger Workbook for Women - this is just too self explanatory.
The New Dare to Discipline - I dare you to dare me. You have no idea.
You Mean I'm not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy? - Really? This should be a family read.
Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding - I just want to know how to do it; it sounds fun.
You Can Only Achieve What is Possible - Great. Now you tell me...
Please, Listen to Me! - Again, self explanatory.
Overcoming Paranoid and Suspicious Thoughts - Ha Ha Ha Ha
OCD Meditation Book - OK so I would obsess over the book then.
What To Say When You Talk To Yourself - I can't believe I never found this book before.
A Setback is a Setup for a Comeback - Thank goodness.
Saddle Your Own White Horse - Does it come with the white horse?
Taming the Beast Within - Once again, ha ha ha. I totally need this book.
2,002 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up - Only 2,002?
Don't Shoot The Dog! - This one I am actually considering buying.

I wonder if they have a book for self help book addicts?
I'm going back to my vampire smut. Screw the self help books.

Introducing President John Adams

We made it through the 4th grade history banquet. Yes, the costume was finished about 45 minutes before the banquet. He did a great job. His speech was memorized as was the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. It was about 5 minutes of completely memorized speeches for him to stand up and give in front of about a hundred people. I love it that he is so used to this that it is no longer a big deal. During his first history banquet in 1st grade, he forgot his speech and fell off the stage... twice. My how far we have come! Thank God it's over.