Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It seems like it might be hope

The title of this post is from one of my favorite songs by Sara Groves, It Might Be Hope. There have definitely been moments in this parenting journey when the lines from this song do run through my head. In the past day or two they are there again, this time in regards to R. 

I have been pretty open about how challenging this child is. I'm realizing that the biggest challenge is not from her delays or her seizures (which were pretty bad at first) or even her indiscriminate affection. No, the biggest challenge has been how stuck she has seemed in where she was. With H., we saw right away a child fighting to get out. She was at least aware of when others were doing something and she wasn't, and she would at least try. With R., we seem to have a child who has become so comfortable in her extremely narrow little comfort zone, that for whatever reason (probably fear... all fear) she cannot tolerate being out of it. I have never seen a child who can sit for three to four hours a day doing the same repetitive task over and over. (That's when I'm either too distracted or didn't catch it. We don't let her do this regularly, it is so unhealthy.) Her lack of desire to expand her world; her seemingly obliviousness to what else is going on around her and that she might take part has been the most difficult. How do you create even the most cursory amount of curiosity in a child? I'm not sure I know, but that doesn't stop me from trying different things.

Felt safety, a push (or two or one hundred) out of her comfort zone, continuing to try to increase her English language ability, and work on her use of her body have been what we have been doing. For a very long time it has felt as though I don't have enough years left in my life to see genuine progress based on her past rate of glacial progress. (Actually glaciers might move faster.) 

But we have seen glimmers of hope...

One of the things we have been really pushing is for her to go back to being right-handed. Based on her pretty amazing chopstick skills, I'm quite sure that her right hand was her dominate hand before her brain surgery. Then, as a result of the surgery, she switched to her left hand and her right had a tendency to hang in a way that reminded me of a stroke victim. The right hand, though wasn't being held by spastic or hypotonic muscles, it had just become a habit brought on by the surgery. (I'm guessing here, but I think I'm correct.) When asked to relax her arm and hand and hold them straight, she can. So like a stroke victim, we have been insisting that she use that hand, mainly to facilitate the connections in the left half of her brain which were compromised by the surgery. It takes a lot of reminding.

Well, the other night when I was tucking R. into bed, I noticed a funny thing. She had her right hand in front of her face and was opening and closing it and tracking its movements with her eyes. If you have ever watched a baby when she first discovers her hands, this looked remarkably similar. Could it be that R.'s brain is finally realizing that she has another hand? I don't know, but this is certainly worth noting.

Next, we have been working on basic body movements, such as a tall kneel. Now, a year ago, getting R. to do a tall kneel took two people, a lot of encouragement (from us), and a whole lot of screeching (from her). We weren't hurting her, just asking her to do something outside her comfort zone; her comfort zone being sitting, standing, lying down, and 'W' sitting. (Don't worry, we nixed the 'W' sit immediately and she never does it now.) But anything outside those things didn't happen. No lying on the floor trying to do different things with her body such as every other child in my house did. The high kneel felt so odd to her that it was terrifying. She couldn't balance or hold it by herself and needed support. She just didn't know how to use her muscles to do such a thing. By contrast, Y., who has a genuine reason to not be able to do a tall kneed (and it was actually a PT goal), worked relentlessly on it and conquered it by the end of that PT cycle. (Ah, the competition is strong in that one.) We didn't do it everyday, but we kept on. 

The other night, when all the younger people were trying to outdo each other in the physical fitness department, R. noticed! She wanted to join in. (Do you have any idea how huge this is?) She got down on the floor and started doing a high kneel. It was a rather, um, interesting high kneel, but she voluntarily did it. Over the past couple of days, I have gotten her to do a more traditional looking one. She still doesn't like it, and complains at how it feels, but she has been doing it on her own. After she complains, she will look at me and inform me that she didn't have to do this in China. 

Finally, she has drawn her first recognizable object with no outside help. Here, look.

There are still a lot of unrecognizable squiggles, which are very typical of her normal drawing, but look there in the center and the left. Can you tell what those are? They are trees! When we asked her what she drew, and she said trees, we didn't have to ask which squiggles were the trees. We could tell!

These are our glimmers to the child within. A child so locked-up by past trauma that it is terrifying to come out. (I just want to be clear. The trauma was from her time in the orphanage, before she arrived at her foster home. Her foster home loved her and put her on the path towards healing.) If you can't understand how a child could become such a shell, then you need to read the description of what life is like for a child in an orphanage. My real-life friend has several older girls who were adopted. They are all very articulate and are able to share what their previous life is like. The are, in my opinion, the best advocates for adoption. Read what they have to say. Yes, life can be challenging helping a child heal. But is there a better way to spend your time and your life?

Adoption Questions, Part 3

Seriously, take the time to click on the link and read.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

See how Q. grows

Q. is getting bigger and bigger. He can flutter about with his wings, likes to be held and petted, and particularly likes to walk around on the kitchen table. His adult wings are continuing to grow in on his body, though the down under his wings is not starting to be replaced with real feathers and he looks a little scruffy. Today we also noticed that his head is starting to lose its chick fluffiness. Once the adult feathers all grow in we will be able to tell if Q. is a boy or a girl. Boy bobwhite quail have white patches of feathers on their face. 

You get quail pictures because that involves no thought. STILL no earnest money. I need to pay the down payment on the carpet and flooring so it can be ordered, but it is a lot of money. It is a particularly large sum of money if you are still feeling uneasy about your buyers. I'm just not sure I can pay the down payment with this much uncertainty. Of course, this also means that they cannot order the carpet and flooring. It also makes me a little nervous that we will lose our spot on the calendar to install it during the week the furniture is in storage. I vacillate between extreme stress to extreme anger to extreme despair. It's an exhausting way to live. Why, or why can't people just be nice and do what they say they are going to do?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday move update, May 22, 2017

All this blogging about moving is sure to get worse before it gets better. I have nothing else inside my head. Please accept my apologizes in advance, with a promise to try to venture into other topics soon. Maybe when the earnest money appears. (It's still not there. Really. How could I make this up? It's like living in a bad novel at this point.)

Instead, I continue to spend money (or promise to spend money) that we don't really have yet. Today it was to finalize the carpet and flooring in the new house. We're all set to go, once we have possession. I will probably more than a little neurotic about the carpeting and what is and is not allowed on it for quite a while. Sticker shock is a real thing... and I think we've even got a pretty good deal.

Why do I have such trouble justifying the expense of the flooring? I'm really having trouble not feeling as though I'm spending money frivolously. I guess I've lived with questionable flooring surfaces for so long that paying for something I actually like feels wasteful. I am also quite sure that at this point in time, I'm not actually a completely sane person, so that could play into it as well. Does anyone else have trouble like this?

I also realized that on Saturday it was one month before the moving vans arrive. Yes, I panicked. There is still a lot to pack. Up to this point, the move have been so far out that it has been a bit hypothetical, but less than a month makes it seem far more real. That, and starting to say good-by to people. There have been a few moments where the realization that this is really happening has hit me, and it feels a bit shocking.

Because there is nothing else but moving in my brain, I asked the family if they would mind skipping dinner for the next month or so. Surprisingly they did not all jump on the band wagon. I suppose this means that I still have to cook and go grocery shopping as well as fix what is vaguely passing as dinner these days.

If this is all a bit too repetitive and rambling for you, then go and check out my latest article, which is not about moving. Changing a Child's Name After Adoption

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday bullets, May 19, 2017

This is much later in the day than I normally write, but I've been home about 1 1/2 hours today. I'm pooped.

  • One of the day's activities was to go to a local, large appliance store with three friends. Three of the four of us are contemplating differing degrees of kitchen remodeling in the near future, so we went just to scope out the appliances together. And have lunch. And spend time with each other, which we very rarely get to do.
  • About that scoping out... well, I bought a refrigerator. The one in our new house is not as big as we are used to, nor will there be room for the second refrigerator that we also have here. I was a bit concerned about how we were going to make this work. Well, we saw a floor model on sale that was big enough on the inside so that it just might work. So I bought it. It's being delivered at the end of the month and will just have to sit in the garage. I also have to call the moving company to warn them we are adding a refrigerator to the moving total. It was really a good deal....
  • I have now sorted and repacked all the boxes which were packed months ago. The pile of things to go on the truck is about a quarter smaller, which is a good thing. And now that I'm done moving backwards, I can start packing in earnest.
  • D. did a fantastic job in Fiddler on the Roof last weekend. I was very proud of him. He is really not a little boy anymore, and his acting really shows that. While I thought he was good last spring in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he has significantly matured in his acting over the year and it really showed.
  • Living with actors has taught me to expect this, but the post-show slump is not my favorite part of the whole process.
  • Did I mention that J. bought a functioning car earlier this week? He did! Now he doesn't have to stop several times during the commute to put coolant in. The crazy thing, and somewhat telling about our lives at this point in time, I have yet to actually see it. He parks it in the garage in back, and the hours that he is home are not exactly the hours I'm going to head out to the garage to look at a car. Maybe I'll see it this weekend.
  • I only have four more weeks with my current piano students. This makes me more than a little sad, as I am used to watching them grow up and mature. It seems a bit wrong to leave mid-stream.
  • This evening we went down to the Field Museum Member's Night, where they pretty much throw open the museum to members, even the parts that aren't normally open. It is one of our favorite museum things to do. We spent most of our time this year down in the second lower level, two floors below the ground level which is as far as we can usually go. We saw all sorts of specimens. We got to touch a skunk pelt (very soft... who knew?), see an angler fish (much smaller than I imagined), look at a hippo skull (much larger than I imagined), and learn about the Golden Mole, which is neither golden nor a mole, has no eyes or ears, and pretty much lives below ground all its life. It's kind of like a burrowing tube of fur. It's pretty hard to go wrong with an evening like that. The best part? Even though it was late and we'd been standing for quite some time, everyone held it together and we all had a lovely evening. (If you know G. and L. personally, you have a good idea of how extraordinary this is.)
  • J. may have to sleep for a month once this whole moving thing is done. He ends each week more exhausted than the one before. At least this weekend does not involve commencements.
And now, it's really late and piano students come early in the morning. I'm heading off to bed. Good night.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Welcome to the bug museum

This is what has kept the younger half busy for much of the day. They made a bug museum, with a huge portion of the fun being the digging up of the bugs. They made an entrance.

Followed by two tanks of exhibits. The tanks are some the M. has stored on our back porch, being of the mind that one can never have too many tanks, because you never know when you'll come across an animal in need of one. They also dug out some old fish tank decorations to give the bugs, "Something to play with and look at."

Then there was the touching station, where you could interact with the bugs one-on-one. (Do you think these children have been to their fair share of museums?) When I was visiting, I was shown the petting area, but was told it wasn't open and that I would have to come back.

While they were creating their museum, I was folding laundry, making lists, driving people places, and doing a little grocery shopping. I'm pretty sure they had more fun.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

That was a long day

We spent the afternoon at the new house so that architects (aka my good friend H-S Family mom, who conveniently also happens to be an architect), contractors, and flooring measurers could come and do their thing. There was a lot going on. Plus, I brought all the little people so that they could see where we were going to be living. They enjoyed running around and looking at things, but I think it still had a feel of someone else's house, so that heavy-duty investigations will wait until we've actually moved.

The contractor brought up some issues that we will need to think about and how it all fits into the triage list of what to take care of first. Having a HVAC guy come out, it quickly rising to the top. The heating and cooling systems of the house, while there, are all a bit wonky, and possibly expensive to run. But we received some good news, too. The wall I would like taken out before we move in, shouldn't be a problem, and adding a larger dining room onto the back of the house also seems to be a fairly straightforward process. And I still love the house and the land is still beautiful.

The ride out there and back, though were less than enjoyable. It was very warm today. It is also the day that we discovered that not only is the air-conditioning not blowing cool air, it is not blowing any air at all. The fan seems to be broken. It was like riding in an oven on wheels. (The window situation on a large van does not lend itself to a lot of air flow.) I stopped and bought the overly tired and hot children some ice cream before we headed back. At five pm. Right in the middle of rush hour. I'll be calling to take the van in tomorrow to get the air fixed.

On the other hand, J. was able to purchase a more reliable vehicle today, which means he won't have to stop two or three times on his way home to put water in the cooling system. It will make his drive a lot less stressful. He is counting the days until we move, because the commute becomes increasingly miserable for him. We're down to 38 days until closing.

No, don't ask about that niggling little issue of earnest money.

Monday, May 15, 2017

It's time for...

the weekly Monday Move Update. I bet you all can't wait. It would be much more exciting if I had some truly positive news to share. But I don't. It's like this little game we're playing. They pretend they're buying the house, I pretend we're actually going to move, and hopefully somewhere along the line, we can all stop living in our little fantasy world.

In the meantime, I've put done a decidedly not imaginary deposit on the movers, as well as a deposit to the company who is going to get rid of anything else we don't put on the moving truck. I had forgotten exactly how expensive moving can be.

In other fun news, I've spent a good portion of the day up on the third floor where we have a very large pile of boxes already packed and stored. I should add, these boxes were packed and stored before we knew where we were going to be moving. There is something about knowing the space things are going to be going into, to make one reconsider exactly what one is taking. Thus, I realized what I really, really needed to do was to go through these boxes, untape them, look through them, sort, and repack them all. Sounds like fun, huh? (It's not.) But I also know I will thank myself when it comes time to actually move and then unpack. Plus, I now have a nice color coded labeling system, which should make it easier for the movers to get everything in its proper place, so I while I'm repacking can do that as well.

When I'm not unpacking and repacking boxes, I seem to be driving children around getting various orthotic devices repaired. K. had a bracket come off his braces over the weekend, and one of Y.'s AFO's had a clip which broke off. Off course, neither office was close to the other. One was a half hour south, and the other a half hour north. That equals two hours of driving for appointments which combined took less than a half an hour.

But at least the weather is glorious and the children are enjoying being able to play outside. Even Q. is having some fun due to the warmer weather. Earlier today, B. took some smaller people down to the local pet shop so they could spend some of their 'hard-earned' picture selling money. What did they buy? Small crickets so the quail could enjoy chasing them around and having a tasty snack.
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