Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

Winning at Carpool November 21, 2013

Filed under: everyday life,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 12:46 PM

I worry about Matthew.

Anyone who has been here for any amount of time knows this.

Last year, he was the smallest kid by far in his class…..in kindergarten for that matter, which basically made him the smallest kid in the entire school.  Add his ridiculous cuteness and crocodile tears o’plenty to the mix and you can imagine how teachers and students babied him alike.  Matthew will often rise to the occasion when people expect things from him, but last year, the bar was set low.  And he cried throughout the year, and everyone fretted and babied.  And he didn’t make much progress at all.

Which is why he is repeating kindergarten this year.

We started out the year right, with a more no-nonsense teacher who knows our family (she was Isaac’s teacher last year).  We explained that many times his crying is a simple side effect of his neurological condition.  Many times it comes and goes for no reason whatsoever, and drawing attention to it draws it out much longer.  It is best to move forward, offering him help as needed.  She has been awesome with this and on the rare occasions that he does cry, it is very short lived and (other than making sure he is okay initially) there is no fanfare drawn to it.  This, in addition to the fact that he is much more confident (being a student who knows the ropes) has led to a much better year for him.

There are still issues, of course.  One being his refusal to acknowledge his friends in situations outside of his classroom.  If we see a friend at a store or even on school grounds, but with us there, he will absolutely pretend he doesn’t know them.  If they persist, trying to get him to acknowledge them, the tears come.  I try to tell him gently….this is hurtful.  They are thinking that there is some reason you don’t like them.  If you would like to be their friend, you should at least say hello.

But he struggles.

I chaperoned the first field trip his class took.  Right when I walked in the classroom, I was smitten with a boy in his class:  Joe.  Joe is the smallest.  And he is PRECIOUS.  So cute and animated and you really want to squeeze him repeatedly.  I immediately understood why everybody was so over the moon about Matthew last year, because here I was swooning over teeny, tiny Joe.

Anyway, what Matthew never told us (because he doesn’t really tell us anything about what goes on at school) is that he and Joe are big buddies.  They spend all of their time together at recess (per Matthew’s teacher).  Apparently one morning in the Good Morning Room, Joe even sat in Matthew’s lap because he was scared (per Isaac).

All of this background info brings us to this morning.  Jason helped me with the boys this morning and we were ready much earlier than usual.  So when we got to school, the safety patrol wasn’t even out yet.  When the safety patrol are out, they say good morning and there are usually also some adults there making sure everything is running smoothly.  But today, it was just an empty sidewalk with an open school door (when kids are early they go to the Good Morning room where there is usually a DVD on).

So while my kids are getting out of the van, I see little Joe.  He is standing in the vicinity of the school door, looking concerned and confused.  No one is there to tell him good morning or to guide him indoors towards the Good Morning room.  My kids are already out of the van and the door has closed and all I can do is send intense psychic signals to Matthew.

Be a friend.

Take his hand.

Please, my mind pleads with the back of his head.

I sit there, frozen.  I see Joe recognize Matthew.  His face breaks into a smile, and I see him mouth “Matthew!”.  I have no idea what Matthew’s face looks like or how he is reacting.  I say a thousand prayers in one nanosecond.

Then I see Joe reach for Matthew, and I know that it all comes down to this.

Matthew reaches back.

They embrace.

We all win.

 

 

Things are Good August 30, 2013

Filed under: Isaac,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 9:43 AM

Sometimes, when you haven’t blogged in a long time, it’s hard to come back.  Because–where, oh where to begin?  And you get overwhelmed because there is just too much to say.

But then you just decide to sit down and write, and act like it hasn’t been months and months.

So how are you doing?

Things are good here at our house.  Really good.

I don’t know if it’s that the boys are back in school and having such a great time and back on a routine, but they are doing so well.  Not that I’m surprised that Isaac is, but Matthew is doing AMAZINGLY well at school.  I’m so glad we decided to have him repeat kindergarten.  He has so much more confidence this year.  His tears have been very, very minimal at school.  His success so far could be attributed to a lot of things:  maybe we finally hit the sweet spot on his seizure meds (which also help stabilize moods).  Maybe it is the deep pressure vest that we have him wear in the morning or afternoon that is keeping him calmer.  Maybe it is that he is no longer the smallest in his class–the kids aren’t babying/mothering him.  Maybe it is because I sent a letter to the school asking that every single person not fawn over him and to please just treat him casually and like everyone else (even though he his clearly the cutest kid at school 😉 ).  Maybe it’s because his teacher this year is much more structured, therefore her class runs a lot like our home.  I have no idea, but can we all just say

THANK GOD!!!!!

Isaac is….Isaac.  He is happy and joyful and confident and excited about life.  He is bursting with ideas every day–he want to open a toy store, have a dog show, an airplane contest.  He writes books and designs logos and makes art incessantly.  He draws blueprints and plans and asks if he can build things out of metal and wood.  He makes me so proud and completely exhausts me by 8 AM.  He still carries his Silky everywhere.  He says they are married, and that she is also his granddaughter.  He advanced to the next level of karate and he will be testing for his gold belt next month.  He wants us to open a restaurant together and he wants me to make the meals and he will make the desserts (which all revolve around my waffles and strawberry flavored cod liver oil supplements).  He marches to the beat of his own drum, and it is beautiful music to my soul.

Jason finished his masters degree this past spring.  I am so proud of him and it is so nice to have him home every night….not staying late at work studying.

As for me, things are good. Really good.  Frankly, I am on the verge of bursting with joy.  I have some opportunities on the horizon, it seems, but nothing is in stone yet, so I can’t talk much about it.  But you know when things happen and you’re like:

OH, so that’s why I’ve been going through all this, and that’s why I spent all last year doing that, and OH!!  I was made for this.

That’s pretty much where I’m at right now……and I can’t wait to tell you more.

 

Protected: Catastrophizing March 5, 2013

Filed under: Matthew,special needs — Elizabeth @ 1:45 PM

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Thanks for the Clarification January 5, 2013

Filed under: adoption thoughts,everyday life,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 9:49 AM

This morning, Matthew sat down at the dining room table to write some letters.  This, in itself, is amazing because up until this week, he hasn’t had the confidence to try and sound out words on his own.  He found a formula that he was comfortable with and stuck with it.

“Daddy u r my best daddy”

“Isaac u r my best Isaac”

“Mommy u r my best mommy”January 2013 293

Isaac pointed out to him that I was his only mommy.  But I stopped him.

Actually, Matthew has 3 mommies.  Can you tell me about them, Matthew?

You could see a light bulb go on in his head.

Omma?  And tummy mommy?

That’s right!

And just like that, he sat down to write a new letter:

January 2013 294

Way to keep me in my place.

 

 

The Story November 9, 2012

Filed under: adoption thoughts,and that's how I feel about that,faith,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 9:24 AM

I’m not embarrassed to admit that as a Christian, I still struggle with understanding things–great big theological things and even some day-to day issues.  I still have a lot of “whys” and I think that is okay.  I don’t necessarily need the answers myself, because that is basically the definition of faith, believing even when you don’t understand.  Most of the time it is enough for me to know that I may not ever know the answers during my time on earth.  That is fine for me.  But it is harder when other people question me….like people who are not Christians, who want me to have the right answers.  Or when I need to explain things to my children.

Adoption is one of these issues for me.  Adoption is wonderful–it sets the lonely in families.  I know so many beautiful families formed by adoption.  But I hate that it has to exist.  I hate it.  I don’t know how to answer these questions, of why.  I don’t like the neat little stories, tied with bows, told to children, that end with “you were made for our family”.  I just don’t believe that.  And yet, in the same breath, as a Christian, I do believe that God always knew that Matthew would end up in our family–that we would raise him.  This was written since the beginning of time.  But God didn’t make Matthew for us.  I’ve never been able to get on that train.

Yesterday, I sat down and downloaded a few songs I have been wanting on my ipod.  One of them was “The Story” by Brandi Carlile, a song I have always liked, but I’ve never really had time to listen to the lyrics.  I played it over and over again and began to learn the lyrics and sing along.

You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess
No, they don’t know who I really am
And they don’t know what
I’ve been through like you do
And I was made for you…

And I started to cry as I finally came to a place where I could make a little more sense out of our story….out of adoption.  Matthew wasn’t made for us, or for me.  But Jason and Isaac and I?  We were made for Matthew.  When Plan A fell through for Matthew, we were here, and God had prepared this family to be exactly what it needed to be.

Jason, so kind and with a seemingly never-ending well of patience.

Isaac, so loving and empathetic.  So willing to take Matthew’s hand and be his buffer to the outside world.

And me, so structured and stubborn.  God knew Matthew was going to need the routine, the traditions, my unwillingness to give up or give in.

I think I understand now.  Maybe not perfectly, but just a little better.

Thanks, Brandi.

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true…I was made for you

I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby, I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do
I was made for you

You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess
No, they don’t know who I really am
And they don’t know what
I’ve been through like you do
And I was made for you…

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true…I was made for you

Brandi Carlile “The Story”

 

Even October 13, 2012

Filed under: adoption thoughts,Matthew — Elizabeth @ 8:48 AM

I really hate to say this.  I do.  But I think that in the end The Great Loveseat Coloring Incident actually ended up being a good thing.  In a way, I think it is something that Matthew has been waiting to do since he met me.

(I’m about to get all psychological here.  Y’all bear with me.)

I truly believe that Matthew has been testing us (and me, in particular) since he joined our family.  And who could blame him?  At 2.5 he had dealt with a lot of broken attachments (many of which he can’t physically remember, but I know they are there, tattooed on his soul somehow) and then, for reasons he still doesn’t completely understand, he was removed from his foster family to join us.  There is still a part of him that believes that he did something wrong to cause this.  And from day one, I think, a part of him has been wondering what it is going to take for me to leave.  Or for me to say, you know this kid is just too much.  I’m done.

We tell him “forever” all the time, but I don’t know that he really, really believes it.

So when he colored the loveseat, I think this was it.  He had finally worked up the nerve to do the absolute worst thing he could think of.  And I have to give him mad props here–it was very personal and hurtful.

He must have been terrified, waiting to see what I would do.  And then…..we all ate dinner together.  And he still got a kiss goodnight.  The next day, our family took a walk in a park and went on a picnic.  The world did not end.  His punishments were doled out and the incident was forgotten.  How anti-climactic.

Shortly after the incident, he and I were playing Wii bowling together.  He is really good at it (he’s even bowled a perfect game before), so I definitely try my hardest.  This particular time, I beat him by one point.  Matthew is traditionally not a very good loser.  He usually cries.

But this time, when the game was over I gave him a high five and told him what a great game he played.  He was on the verge of tears, but he stopped and said, “You love me?  Even when I lose?”.

Yes, child.

Even when you lose.

Even when you claim not to love me.

Even when you color on a brand new piece of furniture.  Out of spite.

Even when anything.

No matter what and forever.

I vow to show you this everyday, not just with my words, but with my actions.

Until the only thing etched on your soul is “forever”.

 

Morning Milestone October 11, 2012

Filed under: Matthew,special needs — Elizabeth @ 9:20 AM

Kindergarten has been going great–for both boys, but surprisingly well for Matthew.  We have only had one morning that he has woken up and cried about having to go.  But a cupful of my coveted carbonated water helped turned his attitude around very quickly (it’s the closest thing he gets to a soda and he loves it!).

The one problem has been morning drop off.  He cries every morning.  And I’m not just talking about crying.  He refuses to get out of the car and stays frozen in his seat.  Parents aren’t allowed out of their cars at drop off and I finally had to contact the special education department about having an aide there specifically to drag help him out of the car.

Even with the aide there, the shenanigans continued.  But at least she was there to get him out, and help him with his backpack (which is another problem–the backpack is heavy and he is so tiny!!  He only just now has grown out of his 24 month pants!).

I felt like the crying was simply becoming a habit.  I could tell his heart wasn’t in it anymore, that he was doing it just to do it.  And I knew we just needed to break the cycle.  So at the advice of his preschool aide from last year, I decided to institute a sticker chart.  Every day he doesn’t cry or whine at drop off, he earns a sticker, and after 5 stickers he gets a reward (which will probably be a piece of homemade chocolate).

Let me do a little sidebar here on why it has taken me so long to do this.  It is very hard for me to “reward” behavior that I think should be expected.  For instance, I never understood parents who paid their kids for good grades.  I also didn’t feel that it was fair for Matthew to be earning chocolate when Isaac does this without thinking about it.  But in the end, they are totally different kids, and I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t hold Matthew to the same standards that I hold Isaac.  I want to.  But I can’t.

So this morning, we talked about the stickers.  And how he was going to be brave.

And we pulled up to the school, and the aide approached our van, and I told her, I think he is going to do it by himself today.

And for the first time in 39 days, he climbed out of the van on his own (with a slightly wobbly chin).

And everybody on the sidewalk cheered.

When you have a child with special needs, the milestones are very different.  But usually a lot sweeter.