Sunday, April 6, 2014

Six!



I have a six year old! Sidney typically starts planning her birthday in October. True to form the mothers of her classmates were almost looking at me expectantly the days following her birthday. After all she was planning a big party. However Sidney forgot to tell her friends SHE was planning a big party. I had planned on having her invite some friends, however we need to figure it out. My crazy husband thinks we need to invite all 19 kids from her class. After all Eli had his entire class. Is he remembering this correctly? Unfortunately yes.


In other events Eli is almost ready to make his onstage debut next weekend in Annie. Eli’s a pretty simple kid. As long as he’s not hungry or overtired, has an available area to hang out with intermittent Mincr*ft, and isn’t being nagged to practice his trombone, all in all he’s a content kid. Sometimes we like it when he pushes himself outside his regular routine. We were surprised when he told us he wanted to participate. His teacher told us the music teacher came to her needing people to take roles and the schemed together. They were ready to have to convince him if necessary, however he agreed immediately. That’s only because it wasn’t his mother asking. I would have been met with a resounding no!

The same conferences were for Sidney. She is doing well in all respects. Frankly, I think her teacher is more perplexed than I am. Let’s face it our kids are completely outside of the box. Couple this with the fact that Sidney has sensory issues, and she’s struggling a bit with reading which is really no surprise considering there was no literacy the first part of her life. I can share this because her teacher will never know, however I think she was taken aback that I wasn’t upset when she told me she had never seen a child with her specific set of issues. She has issues retaining site words or immediate knowledge. Of course never being one to leave any stone unturned when it comes to my kids, I have started researching learning to read with her sensory issues. Many things are becoming clearer, so as I learn I will share. If anything I write can help another parent in my situation it’s worth it.

It’s off to another week!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lion Tamer

I’ve many times talked about Sidney’s VERY outgoing nature. Timid is not a word I will probably ever use to describe her. She’s friendly to everyone and somehow kids seem magnetically drawn to her. I remember when I put her into preschool the first year, my fear was that her physical makeup would be the source of negative experiences. How was I to know that two years later in kindergarten the girls would fight over who was going to play with her?


Last night her kindergarten class did a circus. Appropriately, Sidney was the lion tamer. By the way, I have no idea what being a lion tamer has to do with wearing a straw hat, but this was her costume so we’ll go with it. Smiley Sidney (her stage name) lead the lions (two boys from her class) through a series of feats like jumping through the flamed hoop. Or this case jumping through the hoola hoop with orange fabric tied around it. And true to form, she was the first act. At the end, each group of acts sang a portion of, “Take Me Out to the Circus” to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Unfortunately, one of the lions took ill last night, and there was one shy little boy that approached the microphone with Sidney. No problem. Sidney’s vocals more than made up for any volume lost. Everyone she encounters agrees it’s this outgoing attitude that makes a person completely forget about her hands and foot. In so many ways this is an answered prayer.


I’m typing and hoping I’m not hearing the same noise I heard a few days ago. There was a stirring in the living room closet. It wasn’t our old cat Ralph creaking around. I was up working and thought the coffee hadn’t kicked in, so I thought I was hearing things. Not so much. Out of the corner of my eye a small creature streaked across the living room. I texted Tom the following words, “There is a mouse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come down immediately!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tom stumbled out of bed and went behind the chair searching for the vermin. No luck. Tom expertly set a trap with peanut butter. I am a grown woman, and I’m not proud of this next part. I was so afraid of the mouse that I removed my work from the general vicinity and never returned to the living room instead working from the kitchen all day. I finally came back in when Tom came home and declared the creature dead. With all the foot traffic in and out of people picking up cookies, we think the little critter snuck in.


So that’s my week in a nutshell. This weekend will be relaxing and cleaning. This was only after last weekend when we went to the waterpark with Tom’s parents. Sidney took one look at the splash pad and said, “That’s for baby’s,” heading for the waterslides. She went down every single one of them by herself. Of course, dad went down first and caught her at the bottom. It’s amazing how sweet he was with Sidney. At the end of our little weakened hiatus, he convinced me it would be a good idea to get on the double raft and go down the waterslide with him. Nobody ever told me that when two full grown adults get in, the speed picks up rapidly. Eli tells me the entire waterpark heard me screaming, “I HATE THIS!” 

And I'm off to my Saturday.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St Patrick's Day!




Despite the fact that I am MORE than ready for warm weather
I thought it was beautiful a few weeks ago. 


I was talking with someone one day about Sidney’s outgoing personality. It’s impossible to have time to notice any visible special needs. She’s such an outgoing girl that her infectious personality typically overtakes a person before they have the time to think about looking at her hands or foot. Her ability  using her hands also makes it difficult to notice. We don’t typically dwell on it although she does ask sometimes why she has to be different. I think that’s probably pretty normal.

Think twice before agreeing to be the cookie mom!

That being said, it’s not very often that we see her truly feeling down about an encounter she’s had with another child in regard to her hands or foot. A small overly curious girl in church has become bothersome, asking about her differences each Sunday. Once she grabbed her hands. Believe me, I let it go on (as Tom’s mother used to say when she was alive) about one hot minute before I call her off. Her brothers are also completely awesome stepping in and carrying on talking to Sidney without a care in the world. We are instilling in her that it’s her right to tell the girl to get away, that she’s invading her space, to use Tom’s line (a shark bit off the other two). Sorry, we have a solid sense of humor in this house.
Super Sidney!

I knew with Sunday coming it was a good time to remind her she has the right to tell her to go away or whatever she feels comfortable doing. I also reminded her that her best friend Zoey was going to probably be there. She loves spending time with her, so she immediately perked up. I said, “She’s a good friend isn’t she.” Her response gave me an indication of what she has faced when I’m not there in school. “She never asks the hard questions.” I had to choke back the knot in my throat.

I’m so grateful for friends who are simply her friend. There’s no discussion of why she’s Chinese and all the other kids in the school outside of a couple of African American kids are all Caucasian. There’s no conversation about why God created her with three fingers. Instead, their time is filled with talk about being old enough to have a sleepover, fairies, and examining one another’s clothing (I fear the teenage years).


Okay I can’t write anymore. That thing is happening since it’s close to 9PM where my eyes are getting heavy, and I know any second my heads going to start bobbing backward, jerking me awake!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cookies...

 I just got done tromping around the neighborhood selling Girl Scout cookies with Sidney out of a sled. Many blocks and unshoveled walks later, we went back home seven boxes lighter. This might not sound like anything to brag about, but if you could have seen how many houses had nobody home, it might be easier to understand our victory. Plus the fact that it was such a fun thing to do with her. It was a balmy 20 degrees, finally warm enough to be outside safely. This weekend also entailed Eli participating in his first band contest playing his trombone. So you know I’m not a tyrant, I understand Eli is only in sixth grade. I will spare you the details, however it was a time his father and I had to let him fail to learn a lesson.

Apart from cookies sales and tough love, Sidney is going to start getting additional help with reading for 30 minutes a day from a professional that comes into the school. I was pleasantly surprised when her teacher commented that a lack of early literacy can have a great impact when a child is first learning to read. Typically when I explain something about Sidney in relationship to her early experiences and how it impacts her daily life, the person does one of two things. Either they look at me like I’ve grown a second head, or they say, “Yeah but she was so little then. Certainly that shouldn’t have an impact now.” I also explained to her teacher it’s probably only been about a year and a half that we could get her to sit down for a book.

My take on the situation is she simply needs more time. And as I said to my mom on the phone this weekend, I can’t compare her skills to other kids, because she hasn’t had a past that parallels any child I know.  This isn’t rocking my boat much, because I know her incredible growth and development considering where we started. It doesn’t matter the situation biological or adoptive (and I have an opinion because I’m mothering both), our kids don’t come with a guidebook. Plus, my gut tells me at some point it will simply click. Her teacher has talked about a second year of kindergarten, however I think if she’s bored, it’s going to be more opportunity her to get feisty. She’s doing very well in math and science, so it’s a balancing act. Thankfully, as my friend reminded me the other day, we don’t actually have to make a decision until next August, and so much can change in between.


I’m off to another week and hopefully someone doesn’t find me buried under an avalanche of cookies. I forgot to mention not only are we selling them, I am the cookie mom. That’s another post entirely. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What's the use of five?

I’ve talked before about how all the tough conversations seem to come in the car. I can never figure out what’s up with that. Is it because the kids are not looking me in the eye? And it’s not one or the other that does this more often. It’s both the kids. I am Sidney’s girl scout leader (about to be inundated with many cookies, but that’s another post), and as we were driving over to the meeting, out of nowhere she said to me, “Mom I wish I could be like everybody else.” She has expressed on occasion that she would like to have five fingers to which we ask her if there is anything that she is unable with three fingers that we can do with five to which, of course, she answers no.

This time she was simply saying it’s frustrating sometimes to look different. I think going to school there have been children who are kindly curious. It’s the curiosity that means they don’t understand why. There might be a frightened look or a question. Typically these are the children that understand quickly this is the way God made her and move on. Then there are the gawkers, the repeat offenders who come back to us on a weekly basis in places like church and grab her hands. Mama bear takes care of those.

“Sidney God made you perfect. God made you, you. There is no one else like you. Is there anything you can’t do with your three fingers that I can do with five?” “No mom,” she answered in the familiar mantra that has become our conversation. Tom is ready to let her tell kids that a shark bit them off. Sorry maybe some people don’t find that funny, but we prefer to keep a sense of humor about all things in our house.

What she told me next shocked me. She started talking about the girls in her class. Her two closest friends have made no mention or worry about her differences. In fact at the moment she is caught in a friendship triangle. Sidney is not one of two vying for the other person’s attention. No, she is the one being fought over. Instead she said, “(Enter girls name) said she wishes she had three fingers. She thinks it’s cool.” That’s when was reassured once again everything will be okay.

Sometimes she is so mainstreamed with her differences that forget. I shouldn’t say, “Sometimes,” because it’s really all the time. She goes to school with her peers without an IEP. She has such an outgoing personality, that I’m not sure from the time another child meets her to the moment they realize there are differences that they have time to care.  Her friendship and spirited nature take over before it matters. So we will take these conversations as they come.


I’m not quite sure where to stop writing, so this is it. I am off to start my day which includes cleaning and baking. I have to force myself to do the first part and give myself the reward of the second. The kids have an open house tomorrow, so stay tuned for more pictures. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Extendo Holiday

More Christmas pictures! Celebrating at my parents, it was one of the only days warm enough to enjoy being outside. 
I love the nights we make “mashed potatoes.” While the kids are lapping them down, they have absolutely no idea they are actually eating a head of cauliflower. This is the only secret ingredient we use cooking.  Tom is the master, covering the top of the pan with sliced potatoes. We don’t typically deceive our children about anything; however this is a matter of heath. I thought our plan was foiled when Tom was called out for work leaving me to complete the process. Eli came in the kitchen rambling as he does about a fact he’d learned as I said, “I’ve got something hot! Stay in the living room,” despite the fact that he’s 11 and knows to stay away.


Uncle Jason (my brother) was such a good sport to keep pushing me on the sled!

This is the 19th day of Christmas break. Can you tell I’m feeling crazy? Sidney has finally succumbed to the lack of routine with a couple of meltdowns while the days drag on. We are experiencing the “polar vortex” discussed everywhere on the news. Mother Nature is having her way with the weather which doesn’t allow for time outside. This is vital for Sidney. Yesterday morning I picked up my phone to see it was -18 outside. The complete opposite of his sister, Eli is elated to have the additional time on break from school.
Tromping around the yard with my cousin Finn and the neighbor dog.
Speaking of school, we had a hard conversation with Eli the other night. We are looking at sending him to public school next year. He’s attended our small private Catholic school since kindergarten, so starting in 7th grade when everyone else in our community goes to the building for 7-1th grade, we would like him to go at the same time as the other kids. 
I love this glazed over look on my nephews face. Ah the magic of Christmas
Yesterday during Sunday School one of the kids in our class told him, “But you’ll be with all your friends.” Awesome! This is exactly what he needed to hear. Actually he thought of getting an iPad for his own use was also enticing. Obviously our decision will be based on much more than technology. I can’t tell what he’s thinking. Of course that’s nothing new. Part of me thinks, he wants to make the decision to move over, but it’s a really scary thing to think about. I’m sure he would just love knowing this was on here for all the world read. Of course, he might be more upset about the cauliflower. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Procrastination

I guess I can’t procrastinate the job I started upstairs much longer, so I figure blogging is a good excuse. I’m in the process of going through the kids clothes. I typically try to do this a few times a with shifts int the season. I'm doing it now, because Sidney is growing! She has grown four inches this year. Eli grew four and a half inches. He’s turning into my giant. When he was a baby, the doctor estimated he will be 6’5”, so when he is fully grown it will be fun to see how close he hits. He’s already a size 10 shoe in men’s, and it’s time for a bigger pair.  


It's actually kind of nice to do something brainless like sorting clothes and cleaning. My work is quiet over the holidays. I'm enjoying it while it lasts. It’s good to take time to breathe. The past week was nuts between making sure all the gifts were wrapped, juggling kids home on break with working all the while relishing the fact that we didn’t have to rush out the door every morning and could stay in our PJ's a bit longer. There is no struggle to fly out the door with Eli in tow mumbling something about being sent to his misery (school). We are in the process of making big decisions about school, but I will write about that at a later time.

It's good the holidays are chaotic, because it forced me to have the conversation with Tom that the only problem I was experiencing was a first world problem. Without all the blessings in our lives, we wouldn’t have to worry about who was getting what gift and if we’d bought fairly for each child, if we wanted to bake cookies now or later, if the outfit had come yet in the mail in time for the concert, or when I was going to have time to get the roping on the front porch. 

I spent a few days feeling very conflicted last week as a result of this conversation. Not only do I think about the children in orphanages who don't know about Christmas and have never experienced abundance, I get frustrated at the lack of understanding about true need in the world around me. And we're all guilty of it. This isn't meant as a lecture. It's also a way to process all that was in my head.
Break means more time to cuddle with mom.
What else is going on? Eli is in euphoria on break, and Sidney has finally started to regulate during the schedule change a bit more. Any change in schedule is tough for most kids, but Sidney is a kid who completely excels in a strict structured environment. I think parents of sensory kids or kids in general from a similar back ground can understand when I say she never really lands. As Tom says, she doesn't "regulate" in her environment.  So what have I done to ease this? We are big on calendars in our house. Meaning if we are going to grandma’s house for Christmas, we draw a car on that day. If we are home, it’s a blank space. She is much more content when she can bring it to me and verify what is going on for the day. 

Okay off to get something done!