Showing posts from March, 2016

Happy 10th Birthday, K.!

Today K. turns 10.

I find that sentence staggering. He's now in the double digits and surely it was just yesterday that we came home with our exceedingly tiny two year old boy. (He wore 9 month size clothes at that time.) I remember being so worried about him... and us. He could walk, but that was about it. Would he ever talk? Grow? Gain strength? What was our future going to look like? Would we be able to manage it? There were so many unknowns. But he was sweet and cute as a bug and we loved him.

I wish I could go back in time and tell myself not to worry, that K. would be just fine. In fact, he would be more than just fine. He would grow into a pretty fantastic boy with no limitations. Without the worry I could have enjoyed his first years home a little bit more. This is probably a good lesson for me right now as well. I have an over-active imagination that is not always put to good purpose. Ninety-nine percent of the time, my wild imaginings of a bleak future never pan out.

So …

Attachment tips

A while back, someone asked me to write out the things I wished I had done from the beginning of our adoption journey to facilitate attachment (yours, not the child's but the child certainly benefits) and healing. I say wished because they are the things that took me years to figure out and had I done them, I think life would have gone a wee bit smoother. It certainly wouldn't have fixed everything, but I wouldn't have made things worse. I'm also not saying that these things are easy. They take conscious effort and are often the exact opposite of what your feelings are telling you to do at the time. It takes practice to be able to override your emotions and do what you know is right even if you are not feeling it. With those caveats, here is my short list.

Smile. This is possibly the singe biggest thing you can do to aid your attachment to your child. It is also great for how your child perceives you. The trouble comes when things get hard, our initial reaction is to le…

Master players

I've been doing a lot of reading about the power and benefits of play. This is a usual topic for me, but with the arrival of R., it has felt vital. I am more convinced than ever that imaginary play is something incredibly needed by all children for mental and emotional growth. Imaginary play is how children practice new ideas and new skills. It is how they practice interacting with the people and the world around them. It is how they practice being human.

The book I just finished is, The Play's the Thing: Teachers' Roles in Children's Play by Elizabeth Jones and Gretchen Reynolds. While it is directed at early childhood educators, I find it has plenty to say to me as a parent in how to encourage and make the most of my children's play. It also helps to give me more language as to why it is so important. (Great, you're thinking. Just what she needed... more ammunition.) This book is very much in the same vein as Vivian Gussin Paly, whom I rave about at intervals

Happy Easter 2016

Over the weekend we dyed eggs...
Y., G., L., and R.
R., H., and J.
The whole passel of children (three families total).
Then we celebrated on Easter morning.

Yes, that grown man there is B. No, I have no idea how that happened.
P. and Y.
L., R., and H.
After church we did our annual egg hung. The weather was not overly cooperative, so we opted for inside this year.

TM played the piano to accompany the hunting. (Once again, I have no idea how he has grown so big.)

Here I can be normal

Earlier this week, I made a new friend. She is the friend of a friend and is also parenting an atypical child. We had a nice visit, chatting and comparing notes. Afterwards she wrote me an email, thanking me and said, "For two hours, I felt like a normal person." And I understood what she meant. We didn't have to explain our lives to each other. We could share frustrations without fear of someone silently pointing out we volunteered for this job. We didn't feel as though we had to live up to "wonderful" and, in fact, commiserated about how exactly un-wonderful we each were. I enjoyed our time as much as she did.

It got me to thinking. We who are currently in the trenches parenting our special children need the support of each other. It's not always easy to find time to get that support or to even know the people who can offer that support. Thus an idea was born.

If you are in the Chicago/North Suburban Chicago area and are an adoptive parent of a child …

Good food from randomness

No doctor's appointments today, but we did make it to the library. Nearly 100 books later we are at home and I am going to try to start to dig out from the chaos. Because of that chaos and the fairly random assortment of groceries I picked up yesterday, we have a new favorite pasta dish. Well, J. and I have a new favorite pasta dish... not all of the children were entirely convinced, but since it is rare that everyone is happy with the meal and since I cook for me and J. anyway, it works. I thought you might like the recipe. It was pretty easy and very good.

Random Grocery Shopping Trip Pasta

Serves 10, so you may want to halve it if you aren't feeding quite so many

2 lbs linguine
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large packages (bundles? fist-fulls?) of thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into ~ 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 large bag of fresh spinach
2 cans diced tomatoes

(Start your water while you cook the topping and then let the topping simmer while you cook the pasta.)

Saute the onion i…

It's like hitting the jackpot

I think I have mentioned here before about my trials finding a neurologist that I can work with. I don't mean to be the difficult, crotchety parent. I really don't. But I am also not uneducated about my girls' syndrome, and living with them, I certainly know them better than anyone. Finding a doctor who would take me seriously, even if my thoughts were a bit off of the traditional track for standard seizure treatments was very important. And very difficult. After many phone calls, (the kind of calls where I'm sure there is now some code after my name which means "Run, don't deal with the crazy woman," in many medical data bases) I made appointments for R. and H. with a new neurologist.

I wasn't sure I was going to be entirely happy. I didn't know much about this doctor and she practiced in a suburb 45 minutes away in no traffic. On the plus side, though, one of the nurses whom I routinely work with in another office was doing some investigative wo…

Breathing a huge sigh of relief and now able to tell the rest of the story

Today was the day that Y. had her initial appointment with the orthopedic doctor to address some of her mobility issues. I am so happy to say that there is really nothing but good news. Some really good news. But to fully appreciate the good news, you need to hear a part of the back story that you have been missing.

Way back almost a year ago, when we were finally able to ask to look at Y.'s file because we finally received approval to adopt two children, we were thrown for a bit of a loop. We knew that cerebral palsy was the possible diagnosis, but I wondered why such a cute girl with a mild to moderate special need was still sitting on the shared list. Cute females without serious delays or serious medical needs don't just sit around. There had to be something else going on. I received the file and started to look through it. Everything looked fine until I got to the page with the results of an (uncooperative) CT scan. In the results was buried one little word. OK, the word …

An autodidact's fan letter

This is the email I just sent to the author of the book, The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness by Todd Rose.

Dear Mr. Rose,
It is rare that I write a fan letter to an author, but having just finished your book, The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness, I found I needed to. First I want to say thank you. In your account of how the concept of average and there being one “best” path has crept into and influenced our society, you have managed to give me words to explain so many things that have been lurking around the edges of my mind.
Even though I excelled at school, happily being one of those extremely quick students who were placed at the top of any curve, I knew intuitively something was wrong. I knew it when I would do what I considered to be mediocre work only to have teachers fawn over it. I knew it when I tried in vain to tell teachers that math was difficult for me, only to be placed back in the top math group… because I was a…

A little bit of mail fun

Jimmy... Jimmy... Jimmy... Jimmy... Jimmy... still needs a family.
I realized yesterday that I inadvertently used the same type of title phrase two days ago, so decided to keep it going. But it was some fun mail that arrived today. Look...

Who doesn't love to get surprise presents in the mail? Certainly no one around here. This is from my virtual-turned-real-life-but-we-don't-see-each-other-nearly-enough-because-we-live-too-far-apart friend, Ann, who blogs over at Crazy for Kids. She sent gifts for the new girls, treats for everyone, and even a box of cookies for our tea time. We had them today. Everyone was thrilled to have a different type of cookie from what I usually buy.

R. and Y. especially loved their packages. I told each girl that they were from Mommy's friend. Or I told them they were from Mommy's apple. For some reason, my old brain cannot keep straight the Mandarin for those two words and I routinely get them wrong. It just adds to their c…

A little bit of color

Jimmy still needs a family. He cannot age out. How else can he become a pianist like he dreams of being if he doesn't get a family? Get used to seeing this...

I don't normally go in for pastels, except during the months of March and April. In those months I positively crave them. I think it is due to only having seen greys, browns, and whites outside my windows for so many months. And since Easter falls during these months, the bulk of my Easter table decorations are definitely on the pastel end of things. It does make it easy to mix and match things acquired from previous years; I'm nothing if not consistent.

This is all a prologue as to why, when I saw instructions for an Easter table runner, I was suddenly overcome with the need to make it. Well, except I didn't want a runner. To fit fourteen people around our dining room table, we have to put two tables together, and the result is very long. So long, any normal size table runner is not really going …

A little bit of hope

Yesterday I promised you news about R., so here it is. I'm pretty excited about it.

When M. was over on Saturday I made use of an having an artist-in-residence to create a manipulative that would help R. to learn to draw a face. I envisioned a laminated (of course) game along the lines of Mr. Potato Head with eyes, nose, and mouth that could be moved and placed on a face shape. My thinking was that if we removed the pencil skills part and focused on identifying facial parts, both having R. identify her own and identifying others, both other people's and in photographs, we could build her mental image of "face."

Here is what M. created for me. (Sorry about the photo quality... I was taking them quickly because K. has an ortho. appointment in a half an hour.)

Here is the blank face with the various parts.
An example of the some of the parts on the face.
Well, R. was highly interested in what M. was doing, and M. was great and took time to explain each thing and have R.…

Pi Day craft

It's Pi Day (you know, 3/14, the first three numbers in pi?) It is also the first Monday after the dratted time change, which makes for tired cranky children. It also makes for a tired mother. These things are not a good combination. (An aside... I grew up in Arizona, a state which wisely does not observe the crazy time-change plan. I thought it was weird my freshman year in college and I still think it's weird. Why? Why put us through this twice a year?) 
We hadn't done a real art project in quite some time, so in my pre-fully caffeinated stupor, I ran across this post dealing with math art, and I knew this was what we were going to be doing. (My art supply hoarding pays off once again. I already had some graph paper [though I needed to print out some bigger grid for younger types], markers, watercolors, and watercolor paper.) 
I pretty much copied the instructions whole sale. First you graph the beginning digits of pi which then become skyscrapers in your skyline. If yo…

Happy 23rd Birthday, M.!

Yesterday was actually M's birthday, but due to many people's schedules, we celebrated tonight.

We had cherry pie, so TM stood in as candle holder. It was a pretty low-key birthday, as birthdays become in your adult years. It was just nice to spend time together. Everyone was there except A., who flew to Florida today with the university crew team. She will spend her spring break rowing for six hours a day.
But back to M. It is also harder as an adult to think of what you want for your birthday, so we gave rain checks and some really good chocolate. (Because who doesn't want really good chocolate?) L. also decided that another show was in order. She had to make do with an abbreviated version between us getting dinner on the table late and the dratted time change. The main characters were once again K., L., and Y.

So Happy Birthday to my adored first born. You are fantastically talented and I'm always excited to see what you do next. (And I will be forever grateful for …