Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

This Woman’s Work April 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 9:48 PM

Once upon a time I wore heels to work. I had a laptop, a company car, and a corporate AmEx card. I lunched with work friends without giving too much thought to how much I was spending. I spent my weekends laying by our pool, going to movies, sleeping in, and eating out. We took leisurely vacations to Key West, the Bahamas, New York City. Even as I type this, I am thinking, was that really me? Was life ever really that simple and easy? Was that really only 4 years ago?

Once upon a time I had my very own apartment. It was in (what I thought to be) a hip part of town. I loved this place. The apartment complex looked like Melrose Place on the inside, with a pool smack in the middle. The windows were so flimsy that in the winter, it was too cold to sleep in my room, so I slept on the couch. Which I loved. In the spring I would open the balcony doors and turn on music, and it was heavenly. It was all mine. In the fall and winter, the air would be heavy with the smell of barbecue ribs from the famous restaurant just down the street. And I think, was that my life? Was I ever really so carefree? Was that really just 10 years ago?

Once upon a time I worked on a dude ranch. I was graduating from college and wanted an adventure. I had never been further west than Mississippi and I didn’t know a soul out there, but I sent in an application and got a job. I bought a cowboy hat and my sister and I road tripped out to Colorado. I stayed for 5 months and met a ton of interesting people. Everyone thought my southern accent was hysterical. I came home with a nasty cigarette habit and a penchant for John Denver music. And I think, was that really me? Was I ever really that adventurous? Was that really only 11 years ago?

Now I am wife, mother, housekeeper, cook, accountant. I teach water aerobics. I spend a great deal of time every day feigning interest and delight as my child yells, Mommy watch DIS!!! I respond to hysterics that stem from pajama pants and socks separating and leaving a bare swatch of leg skin vulnerable to the cold, night air. I wipe butts, I wipe faces. I walk by a mirror and think, why is it that my hair has a Friar Tuck quality about it? I go to the grocery store twice in 3 days and still can’t remember that we need ketchup. I commit to memory the name of every train in the Thomas series. I pack 2 sippy cups and at least 4 snacks every time I want to run out for anything. I clip coupons, I read sale papers, I meal plan, I try to buy good, nutritious food for my family, yet there are still pop tarts in my pantry. My body is a human jungle gym to these crawly, climby, jumpy boys. I read books, I sing songs. Every time I walk in the kitchen, there is a load of dishes that need to be put away. I desperately need new clothes and yet every time I find a second to shop, I find myself in the children’s section buying something for the boys instead. I ask them what does a lion say, what letter says Guh-Guh-Guh? I referree fights from 2 rooms away while taking a shower. I change sheets 2 days in a row because of a Pull Up malfunction. And on days like today I look around and think, is this really my life?

Some days I feel like Nicolas Cage’s character in the Family Man (one of my favorite all-time movies) when he is saying to his wife, This isn’t my house….those aren’t my kids…..I’m not supposed to be here!!!

In a few years, my boys will be in school, real school, all-day school. They will make real friends, friends that are much cooler than me. They will ask to spend the night away. They will get involved with sports or other activities and I will become their driver, their cheerleader. Mom, can I have $20 to go to the movies….but drop me off on the other side of the parking lot. One day they will be driving themselves. One day they will be gone raising families of their own. I will look around this empty house and think was that really me? Was that really my life? Was I ever really that lucky and blessed to have all day with those 2 breathtaking boys? Was that really only 20 years ago?

So I remind myself, soak it up, mama, it’s only for a season. Enjoy it all while it lasts.

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A More Colorful World April 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 8:40 PM

Our house goes on the market tomorrow!!! We got this idea in January, and are now ready to put up the sign and see what happens.

When we bought our house in 2006, we had no children and Jason had a job about 30 minutes outside of town. Our main objectives were proximity to a certain interstate highway to help in his commute, central location to our nearby family members, and good schools. I remember when we were looking at the house and dreaming of children, I said to Jason, “well, we could never outgrow this house”. It’s true–it is a really big house!!

And we haven’t outgrown it–not even close, but it doesn’t seem to fit anymore….for a lot of reasons.

For one thing, Jason has a different job now, one that is closer than the last one, but there are other nice and lovely neighborhoods we could live in that would shave valuable time off his commute to and from work.

My mom lived with us for about a year and a half. This big house definitely served us all well during that time, as she was able to have her own room and bathroom downstairs. But after she moved out, I just realized it was a huge chunk of house that never got used anymore.

The schools here are great–you would actually be hard pressed to find better schools around here. But there isn’t a lot of diversity. Okay, I phrased that a little too nicely. It is basically an all-white area. And if Isaac was our only son, it would probably be something we would roll our eyes at and say we wish it was different, but I doubt we would do much about it. Because let’s face it, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. However, we now have an Asian son. And it IS a big deal.

I’m not saying that we live around a bunch of racists. I’m not saying that at all. Someone asked me today if I really thought Matthew would be made fun of at school if we stayed here. That’s not necessarily what I’m worried about. Let’s face it, kids are insensitive and cruel sometimes. Both of my boys are going to get taunted and teased for different reasons at some point. Unfortunately for Matthew, there will be times when it will have to do with the fact that he is Asian or maybe even because he is adopted. I can’t change that, as much as it pains me. But what I can do is give him the opportunity to be in a more diverse setting. To have peers that look like him, and peers that look like Isaac….not to mention peers who are black, Hispanic, Indian, etc. That is the least I can do.

When we started discussing WHERE we want to move, we both agreed on a certain part of town. It is closer to Jason’s job and school, it has great schools, lower home prices, and (we hoped) more diversity. It is also an area that we LIKE, that feels like it fits us. It is an area we wanted to look at in 2006, but didn’t make sense with Jason’s job at the time.

The more we thought about it, the more we thought we better do our research on the diversity aspect. As it turns out, our state department of education has a website that allows you to look at the demographics (by race and sex) of every school in the state, grade by grade. We compared a number of nearby schools and were so excited to find that the area we desire to move to has the highest ratio of Asian students than any other one!! Now when I say “high”, I am talking about 4-6 Asian students per grade. But that is something!!! Not to mention the fact that other races are represented as well.

Not to sound silly, but it felt like such a sign to me. That this is what we are supposed to be doing and this is where we are supposed to be going.

With all that being said, it is possible that our house will sit on the market and attract no interest at all. We may end up living here for the rest of our lives, but I don’t think so. I feel excited and energized and ready for a change. I believe good things are in store for our family.

 

Happy and Sad April 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 10:51 PM

Tonight when I was putting Matthew to bed, I tried to sing Happy Birthday to him in Korean. I wondered if he would remember it. His face lit up with a huge smile right when I started singing it. I know I didn’t get all of the words right, but he loved it. He tried to sing along. When I was done, he pretended to blow out candles and then he yelled, CAKE!!! Then he sang it as best he could to himself over and over as he fell asleep.

It made me so happy and so sad all at the same time.

 

Keepers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 1:49 PM

When you have two little boys, you also have a lot of priceless art coming into your home. Preschool, story time, Busy Bees, you name it, they come home clutching their most recent masterpiece. If only there was some way to save it all…..but alas, I have no interest in being featured on the show “Hoarders”.

I have this hanging cord in our kitchen where I display all of their most recent and special art.Every so often, I purge the pictures and add new ones, and I must admit, it is very rare that I keep one unless it is quite special…..although Isaac did pull one out of the recycling bin the other day, saying, “I love this picture!!!”. So it went back up on display and has now become a “keeper”.

But sometimes they come home with something that is so special. Something that you know immediately you will keep forever, in a place that you will see it every day. Isaac made this last year in school…..
I adore it. I treasure it. It sits in my kitchen right next to my coffee maker which guarantees that I get to look at it every day. Sometimes he pulls it down and places his hand over it, marveling over the fact that his hand is now bigger than the tile itself.

Today I got my first real “keeper” from Matthew.

He made me this flower for Mother’s Day in his Busy Bees class. His teacher said he painstakingly painted it just so. He walked out of his class carrying it like a trophy. I kept it for him while he napped, but he is awake now and carrying it around again. If he ever really gives it to me, I will keep it forever, displayed somewhere that lets me admire it every day.

Another priceless piece of art, celebrating my first Mother’s Day as his mother. Definitely something to treasure.

 

I Can Think of Many More Appropriate Labels April 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 2:04 PM

With Matthew’s third birthday coming up in just 12 days (oh my goodness, I am about to have two 3-year olds!!), we are working to phase him out of early intervention. Early Intervention is our state program that offers services to children who are developmentally behind from birth to three years old. Once the child turns three, their local school system takes over if services are still required. We have had multiple meetings with our local school so that they could evaluate Matthew and see where he stands developmentally.

To receive services through the school system, the child has to show an even greater delay than is required to receive early intervention services. Since Matthew has thrived so much in early intervention, I wasn’t expecting that he would qualify for much. Their services range from things like 5 day/week preschool to simply having a therapist work with your child once/month on speech, or even having someone consult with your child’s preschool teacher at a private school, like where we send Isaac. I knew he would qualify for some kind of speech help, at least I thought he would, but like I said, he has come so far.

Our eligibility meeting was yesterday. I won’t leave you hanging. He showed significant delays in multiple categories. If it was just speech, then they would have just called it “speech delay” but because his delays included speech, social-emotional, and cognitive, he got labeled as Developmentally Delayed.

And I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that it made me sad and defensive and lots of other feelings all at the same time. Because it is a label. And I know it doesn’t define him and it doesn’t mean he is dumb or handicapped or anything, but I don’t like it.

I am not saying they are wrong. I agree with the results. But it is hard to hear because I know how smart he is. He knows his shapes, he can count to ten, he knows all of his colors, even stupid colors like gray, he knows his animals and the sounds they make. He can recognize all numbers and some letters.

But he can’t tell me when he wants juice.

And last week for the very first time he told me he was hungry. And that was HUGE.

You might wonder why he scored so low on the cognitive testing when he is so very obviously brilliant (because, he is!!). They consider a child to have “mastery” over something when they can do it in multiple situations with different people, etc. For instance, if just about anyone asked Isaac to name body parts, he could do it. Here at home, at school, at the park. And Matthew can and will do that stuff for me. But he refused to do a lot of things for the teacher. And he said “no” to everything she said. Even when he meant yes. Unfortunately that is not uncommon with him. So that didn’t help too much.

He works so hard. SO HARD. You can see him working when he is trying to tell me something, when he is trying to recall information. Jason and I laugh because sometimes he moves his head up and down with the effort to say certain words–I joke that he has to rattle the words out of his head.

And yes, he has only been home for 5 months–I am not saying I expected more from him or anything like that. But speech has been REALLY, REALLY hard. From what I hear from other adoptive parents of toddlers, I suspect he is having a harder time than most other kids. And I want him to get help. He deserves it. We all deserve it.

And I am so very grateful that help is available to us, to him. Did I mention that this preschool is FREE? Yes, I do love free things. But this free thing hurts just a little.

I am feeling very conflicted about all of it.

We will take advantage of it. In the end, this is where he will go, he will receive services that he needs. They have a specially tailored plan to help him meet measurable goals. And he will blow them away.

But I am mourning too. I thought my boys would be together next year at the preschool we know and love. In different classes, but seeing each other in chapel and on the playground. I am mourning this new “label” (and yes, I still know it doesn’t mean anything and it’s not like he’s wearing a scarlet letter, but cripes!!), especially because I was starting to forget he had any kind of special needs at all. When he first came home, I thought about his diagnosis non-stop and would watch his behavior and wonder if it was a side effect of his condition. But recently, I find myself forgetting that he is anything but a typical boy. I go days and weeks without considering the condition of his brain. And they reminded me. And I didn’t want to be reminded.

Developmentally delayed is not the label I wanted my child to have, and it is certainly not the way I think of him.

If I had to put a label on Matthew, I can think of a few that fit much better:
Best Turn Taker
Most Charming
Meanest Stink Eye
Biggest Bacon Lover
Train Aficionado
Hairiest Toddler Ever
Owner of the Roundest and Fastest Flowing Tears
Never Being the First to Let Go during a Hug
Most Gentle and Loving 2-Year Old, especially with Babies and Small Animals
Skinniest Legs
Genius–uh huh, I said it. Mark my words.

Oh yes, I can think of plenty of labels for my little boy, and I’m sure his preschool teachers will enjoy finding out ALL of these wonderful things about him next year as well.

 

Emergency!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 1:30 PM

As I mentioned in my last post, we had a middle of the night (10:30 is totally the middle of the night, right? Or am I just incredibly lame?) trip to the emergency room with Matthew this weekend. He has been having allergies (I know, who hasn’t) that have had his eyes swollen beyond belief. He got some prescription medicine that wasn’t doing much, but we didn’t think much of it because it was just his eyes, and he didn’t seem to be too terribly miserable.

He woke up at about 10:30 Saturday night doing this wheezy coughing, crying, struggling to breathe thing. We have dealt with our share of croup around here with Isaac and I thought it might be croup, but it didn’t sound “barky”. We got out the humidifier and calmed him down and it kept happening. Since it didn’t sound like typical croup, I began to worry that it might be an asthma attack….and did I mention his eyes were nearly swollen shut? Poor kid.

Wanting to be better safe than sorry, we decided to go to the ER and my mom came over to stay here with Isaac who slept blissfully through all of the drama. My mom, who is a nurse (but inexplicably panics when a grandchild has any kind of malady), arrived and said we should “call the rescue squad!!!”, which even in the gravity of the situation made me laugh because I haven’t heard anyone say “rescue squad” since I moved away from my hometown.

Jason and I felt confident that he was stable (or believe me, I would have called the AMBULANCE, not the rescue squad) so we got him in the car to go. The poor guy just wanted to get back in bed. He kept saying “no” and pointing to his bed–I felt so bad for him.

Then I really began to worry about what he thought might be happening…..because about 5 months ago, his foster family woke him up incredibly early when it was still dark outside. They drove him to the adoption agency where we took custody of him and immediately boarded a 14 hour flight. I was really scared that HE was scared that everything was about to go haywire in his life.

Even though I get notoriously carsick, I rode in the backseat with him with my head in his lap talking to him. I took our Ergo carrier and wore him the entire time we were in the hospital. He seemed to feel pretty secure which eased my mind. Since he was having trouble breathing, they called us back pretty quickly, so there is something to be said about that versus a sprained ankle or something.

They diagnosed croup and gave him an epinephrine breathing treatment and oral steroids. But they agreed it was not “conventional” croup and they did multiple x-rays of his neck because they thought there was a chance he had ingested a foreign body that was obstructing his airway. Jason and I had to restrain him during the x-rays and you can imagine how much he liked that. He was crying and struggling so I started singing–I think I was singing the Thomas song. He immediately stopped crying–not because he liked it, but to tell me no. He kept saying, “no, another one”. So I would sing something else, and he would say “no, another one”. We kept that up the entire time and he didn’t cry, so that was good.

Have I mentioned that right before all the drama began at our house, I drank a mug of nighttime Theraflu because I was coming down with a cold? Have you ever had that? I was just a little bit tired….like wanting-to-cry-tired.

Anyhow……they observed him for a “few hours” and we were discharged right around 4 AM. He fell asleep in the car. Jason and I climbed in bed and right as I started to drift off, I heard Isaac calling me…..because he had wet pajamas and a wet bed…and a diaper that appeared to have malfunctioned.

I got him some new pajamas and he called me in at 5 to tell me he didn’t like his pajamas and he wanted another tattoo of Harold (from Thomas the train) because his other one had washed off during his bath.

Then he called me in at 5:30 because that is what time he gets up.

YAWN.

Thank God my mom was still here and she kept him occupied while I slept a few more hours.

Matthew is doing okay and his pediatrician thinks the entire thing is from severe allergies. He is on a different medication now and should be fine. It wouldn’t hurt if we were blessed with a big old rainstorm to wash away some of this pollen though…..

 

Protected: A Day Out with Thomas (Our Life is Now Complete) April 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 8:10 AM

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