Sunday, December 12, 2010

How Old is Santa?

Question from Mr. Inquisitive aka Big Brother. And how do I answer this one? At 6 1/2, Big Brother is still writing notes to Santa. The other day, he wondered if hundreds of years ago, kids still got visits from Santa. Blind to where this would lead, I quickly answered yes. And then came the question -  how old does that make Santa?  Not sure I want to let Big Brother into the secret yet, what with it being so close to Christmas and currently fighting a battle to keep on top of all the sciences related questions Big Brother asks which constantly have me researching late into the night. The other day, Big Brother looked at me with wide eyes, surprised that mama did not have the answer to some abstract scientific question he had! I think my parents got a respite - I was in high school before I finally figured out my parents were not the reservoirs of all knowledge that I previously thought they were.

Though making this humanities leaning mama sweat trying to brush up on her science knowledge, Mr. Inquisitive is still so very sweet and for Christmas, only asked for two additions to his Thomas the Train collection - according to him, he did not want Santa to hurt his back by carrying too many presents! When I told him that Santa might not find the exact trains he wanted, he joyfully told me that Santa does not give up. Said Santa is like an artist - he would keep on trying until he finds the exact presents kids want! So Santa has his work cut out this year - they are no longer making the die-cast take along Thomas trains and finding the older ones is a treasure hunt.

Fortunately, I have some time before the twins start wanting to know the mysteries of the world! Right now, they think mommy and daddy make the sun rise and set! We had our second meeting I.E.P and they were true to form. What with three people giving them their undivided attention, trying to get them to play with all the cool toys and mommy being a bit distracted because she spent three hours answering hundreds of questions. They played, chatted and all around tried to impress their new friends. I am sure people in other offices could not believe there were only two kids in the room! The school psychologist later told me that I am a mom who gets it and praised how calm I was when re-directing the kids. Made me feel like a fraud, because that same morning, I would not have gotten any best mommy awards as I was trying to get three kids dressed and fed. They all seemed to be conspiring against me by choosing the morning when we had limited time to be the morning when they did not have appetites (not good if we were going to have a 3 hour appointment) and needed to put in a day's worth of play into an hour in the morning. Testing is good and bad - puts into focus concerns you usually ignore or become immune to,  and also cause unnecessary stress as you begin to wonder what some of the testing is pointing towards.  But, we will enjoy the Christmas season - the kids are fascinated with Christmas decorations and we have been driving around some nights to see some homes and the kids are in heaven seeing all the Christmas lights.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Not Exactly Oprah's Favorite Things, But......

I caught the tail end of Oprah today and saw the joy on the faces of the receipients of this year's Oprah's (and her sponsors') generosity. And boy did they get some good stuff. But, I am not sure the joy of a mommy getting warm fleece footed pajamas from daddy and the kiddos just because, along with some sappy love notes from said daddy and kiddos (written with the help of a guy who would never be accused of being a romantic) compares. Or the joy of a son declaring for all the world to know that I am the best mommy in the world! All because I took advantage of IHOP's kids eat free on Tuesday nights (and got a respite from cooking)! But shush, don't let big brother in on this. Big brother is sure easy to please! We used to take go out for lunch every Sunday after church, but it started getting a bit more tricky with three little ones who had missed their morning nap and who had not yet mastered the finer points of eating out while sleepy. So, it has been awhile since we had eaten out and from the way big brother was enjoying his Mac and Cheese, you would have thought he was eating at a fine French restaurant! Oh, the simple joys if only we just looked around and stopped looking for joy in stuff (and I have had my years of daydreaming about being the recipient of some of Oprah's favorite things). Tonight as I am taking a long overdue break from my daily routine and as I drink coffee in my fleece footed pajamas and watch daddy make a mess as he feeds the kids before he puts them to bed and we watch an episode of Outsourced,  I realize I have all my favorite things all under one roof!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This and That!

My, my, where did the summer go? Between Baby Boy's three hospitalizations (not a good idea for a resident doctor to let a patient go directly home from the ICU. Even daddy and the nurses did not think it was a good idea. Why? Because, the patient will be back the next day for his next hospitalization), five weddings with one out of state (hooray for all the wonderful brides who had organized childcare and activities for the kids during the weddings), baby girl 's debut as a flower girl where she took her role very seriously and was an absolute angel (with the expert guidance of her oldest brother, who at 6, thinks he is an old pro at this wedding thing. What with being  a ring bearer 4 times already under his belt), birthdays for Big Brother and mommy, Baby Girl and Baby Boy starting preschool and Big Brother starting first grade, having out of state and out of country guests for most of the summer, life has been a little busy in our neck of the woods!

Baby Boy is thriving in preschool (he had better, the good peeps of my state are investing over $40,000 a year for part-time preschool. And what does $40,000 buy him? A class with a 1: 1 teacher, student ratio - the teacher is actually an early intervention specialist, speech therapy 3 times a week, lots of field trips and physical and occupational therapy.  In the last two weeks, he has had an explosion of language and since he started preschool and using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), he is not frustrated at home at our inability to understand his babbling and gestures!  He has become his old joyful self, is able to communicate much better and does not whine all day long. He does give his teachers a run for their money - he is usually described as the adorable kid who is very, very busy!  His killer smile earns him lots of lap time with his teachers, and he refuses to follow most directions at school (though he has no problems following directions at home). He needs someone to redirect him most of the time he is in school.  I have tried giving some strategies to the school to ensure compliance, but what do I know - I am just the mommy, and they are the experts who have studied behavior modification!

Baby Girl's early intervention specialist also recommended a center setting for her since she is so social and would enjoy interacting with other kids. She goes to the same school as Baby Boy, but a different class. However, we are reconsidering our decision. She absolutely loves school and leaves the house skipping and dancing in the morning, but she has regressed in her language acquisition skills. She is a sponge and has an amazing ability to imitate the other children in her class (most have special needs). Though this will hopefully engender empathy, I really think we should pull her out and mainstream her next year.  Not sure the people of our wonderful state are getting a bang for their money in investing in her education at this point!  $40,000 a year for a child to socialize with other kids for 25 hours a week seems a little excessive when our state is almost declaring bankruptcy! She still loves dancing and singing and spends her time at school trying to fix her teachers' hair!  They describe her as absolutely delightful and after going to bed late one night, the school called very concerned because she was not her normal playful, talkative self.

At 2 1/2 years, the twins insist it would be in our best financial interest to buy stock in a diaper company. Both will happily sit on the potty for almost an hour, sing, talk and read books, but so far, no success. We have been working on this for months and after feeling maybe a bit smug in my abilities to potty train after it only took four days to fully potty train Big Brother at 23 months, I guess it is time for a dose of humility in this area. Baby Boy is pretty good at telling me he has a wet diaper,  I just cannot get him to tell me before the fact! Totally surprised that Baby Girl who is my OCD princess when it comes to cleanliness does not seem fazed by icky diapers!

Ah, next year. We begin the wonderful world of IEPs and have several meetings with the school district team which involves a child psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physcial therapist, special ed teacher, audiologist and nurse.  After the initial asssement, they decide if they need to add others to the team. My head is already spinning and I have only had one meeting of at least four. 

Baby Girl 2, that girl is something! At 1 1/2, she speaks up a storm, and not single words, thank you very much, but three or four word sentences! I have lost count of the words she can say. Not sure if this will last - her older sister also started language by skipping single words and saying complete sentences, but she now seems to have hit a wall and regressed in her language skills. Baby Girl 2 is one smart cookie, she bullies her older siblings with the biggest smile on her face, and instructs them when to sit on the potty throughout the day, reads to them and is actually initiating potty training on her own.  She is probably our most attached child, has always had a preference for mommy and daddy over anyone else and is now getting a strong case of separation anxiety. At home, she smiles and laughs all day long and does naughty things with a mischevious look daring you to come get her! And then, she runs off as fast as she can, laughing and saying she is sorry! Timeouts for her???? She spends them singing and dancing! I think she will be the kid who most keeps us on our toes!

Big Brother loves first grade though he never seems to remember what he learned in school because he says the day is soooooo long!  I can see his point - coming from 3 1/2 hours of school last year to 6 1/2 hours a day this school year  must be a shock to the systems of most 6 year olds!  He is still loving science, geography and math and can add complex numbers in his head.  He is fascinated by geography and maps and I have lost count of how many times I am googling things! He still loves astronomy, and of course his first love - trains! He saved up all his pennies and was able to go on a snow train ride a few months ago that he still talks about. A 6 hour trip ended up being 10 hours because the train broke down, but he was not complaining. He loved every second of it! He is now big brother alright, playing school and always making sure he is the teacher, bosses his younger siblings, but still very protective of the baby. She gets away with anything with him! She messes with his trains and he does not bat an eye - just smiles at her and fixes them. Not the same reaction for the twins! He is still enjoying soccer (last year he was super competitive and we tried instilling in him the value of putting in his best effort and having fun and not being obsessed with winning. He seemed to have taken the lesson too much to heart along with all his teammates! They have been creamed most of their games! We are now having to go back to the drawing board and teach him the basics of soccer - the intent is not to let every child have a chance at kicking the ball, nor is it kosher to just run around hoping the ball is kicked your way!  We are teaching him it is okay to get competitive every now and then, though he remindes us frequently it is not all about winning, but having fun.  Oh when kids start throwing your words back at you!  He is enjoying piano and is making his daddy proud by still taking Karate - after three years, I think he is ready to give it a break. But don't let his black belt dad know that!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life-Saving Insomnia!

The first night home after three great days away camping (where the kids were just as super as last year), I went to bed leaving daddy-o getting frustrated because his insomnia was rearing its ugly head. About 4:30 a.m. he heard one of the kids and thought Baby Girl was awake and goofing around. His first thought was to ignore her, but then figured she would wake her sister up. Only it was not Baby Girl, but Baby Boy in the next room who thrashing around and gasping for breath. Daddy-o woke me up and even with my sleep interrupted (not my best time of day), I got some supernatural calm and had the presence of mind to start his breathing treatments and call for an ambulance. My sleep-induced foggy mind did not allow me to think it was something very serious but decided to play it safe instead of driving baby boy myself to the ER. Best decision ever - by 5:00 a.m., baby boy was at the local emergency room in severe respitory distress. Somehow, my rational mind was asleep, because I bought the now not very believable reason the paramedics gave for why the ambulance had sirens and lights on. I also did not see through a nurse's attempts to distract me by asking me the same questions over and over as ten medical professionals worked on my son who was a code blue upon arrival. Words like intubation somehow did not penetrate my mind! The adrenaline did not start kicking in until all the action was over, the doctors had thanked us for bringing a little excitement to a slow night and they had told me how serious my son’s presenting condition was.

Baby boy earned himself a transfer to the ICU at our local children’s hospital and once again, he was such a marvelous patient. Even with an IV sticking out of his neck (they did not have the luxury of time in the ER to get one on his arm), he still charmed all the doctors and nurses. He was Mr. Cool and insisted on always wearing (and even sleeping with) his sunglasses and daddy’s hat. He is such a good patient – very forgiving even when the nurses and doctors kept prodding him and interrupting his sleep. He spent a week lapping up all the attention of either mom or dad, his visitors and was a favorite of the nurses and doctors. His beautiful smile and goofy get up of a hospital gown, hat and sunglasses bought him countless pictures from one of the nurses! After a week at the hospital, I am so happy to be back home, so thankful to God for watching out for Baby Boy and allowing for daddy-o’s insomnia that night and so happy to actually be able to talk to, play with and kiss the other kiddos instead of seeing them in passing on the drive home as we traded places daily with daddy-o. My heart really goes out to parents with hospitalized children and I would really want to find a way to minister to a mom or dad – hopefully from the outside and not the inside!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Autism Speaks.

Baby Boy’s recent hospitalization had given me a break from worrying about our impending visit with the developmental pediatrician. But my days of blessed denial that things were just not right were short lived – though I have felt really at peace in the last two days about the possible diagnosis. I had refused to do any research on autism, choosing not to worry over things I could not change. About an hour and a half into the doctor's appointment, I had to remove my head from the sand – nothing like getting a Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers to force you to face reality! Baby Boy has regressed in some areas since our last testing in December, but he shows slight improvement in others. We now have a provisional diagnosis of autism and the doctor will also be doing some testing to rule out some genetic disorders. I had not let my mind go to what this might mean, but I finally broke down at the doctor’s office. The kind of doctor she is did not help my resolve to be strong -she is the most amazing doctor I have ever met – she is so caring, compassionate, kind and the best advocate any child could ever ask for. She even apologized because she was fifteen minutes late – which was not a big deal since we were seeing the nurse during the wait. She showed real empathy for what this means, and she was really struggling and hoping that the tests she was doing as well as the questionnaire were not pointing at what she was suspecting. This is the greatest practice I have ever seen, she was not fazed even one bit when she walked in and two tired and wired toddlers had gone to town with all the toys in her office, her nurse also kept Baby Girl company for two hours, playing with her and taking her for a walk and they both offered to help me get the kids to the car. The doctor also gave me her cell phone number to call with any questions, concerns or for help to get my son additional services. She did not try to paint an unreasonably rosy picture – she assured me it could be a very tough road (the spectrum is so wide and we don't know where Baby Boy falls) and doctors are still a very long way from understanding autism, let alone getting a cure.

Everything now makes sense – Baby Boy’s speech therapist, early intervention specialist, case manager as well as occupational therapist had all been asking if I had considered center-based care so that Baby Boy’s needs could be provided under one roof. I was a bit confused since he is getting all his services under one roof – the therapists do weekly home visits – but I think they all suspected autism, but no-one wanted to say the word! This is the new territory we will be exploring – the developmental pediatrician also made recommendations for some centers and advised that he needs daily one-on-one intensive therapies. I am heart-broken. This means separating the twins and for 20-25 hours a week, removing him from the one secure place he has known. I am also terrified that I will mess this mommy thing – my formerly very cuddly and compliant son is now really testing the boundaries, becoming extremely independent and more frustrated at our inability to understand him. I grew up in a family where children’s obedience was expected and nothing raises my blood pressure more than seeing disobedient and disrespectful children. I have been working hard to establish this same expectation for my kids. How do I strike the balance between not letting my great empathy for my son make me swing to the other extreme and become too permissive with him (and possibly turn him into a little monster) or have unreasonable expectations that he cannot meet because of what is going on neurologically? Today, I am broken and I will let my heart grieve. Tomorrow, I will raise my chin, put on my big girl pants and continue advocating for baby boy. Dear, darling boy, you have been dealt a lot, but mommy and daddy will go to the ends of the earth to try and help you overcome your obstacles. And even more importantly, your Heavenly Father can take the ashes of what seems to be a bleak picture and bring Glory to Himself. I cannot wait to see how He will use you. I love you so much Baby Boy, my heart could explode.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


That's the crazy thought that went through our minds when we saw Baby Boy's bed in his room at Children's Hospital! I have never been to a children's ward, so I had never seen the cages beds that kids sleep in. I guess we needed some comic relief after our ER scare. I am a slow learner, I still did not figure out the seriousness of my son's illness even after the triage nurse immediately showed us into a room upon arrival, seeing a team of three respiratory technicians, five nurses and three doctors all working on my son and all asking me rapid fire questions. Baby Boy has had more than his fair share of ER visits at our regular hospital (nothing like being on first name basis with the ER staff), but I thought that since this was a Children's hospital, this was protocol having so many people working on your child!

Baby Boy earned himself a four day stay at Children's Hospital and my heart goes out to parents whose children have extended hospitalizations. It is exhausting trying to keep a child from tearing off their IVs, keeping them in their beds when all they want to do is to make a run for it, and entertaining a child who is stuck in bed and who is anxious because he misses his siblings, but they can't visit him because he is under precautionary isolation. But, all things considered, Baby Boy was such a trooper and we did finally see a doctor who is more aggressive in treating asthma. We had seen a pulmonologist a couple of weeks before Baby Boy's hospitalization because I felt we did not have a good treatment plan for Baby Boy's asthma, but the pulmonologist pretty much kept the same treatment plan as Baby Boy's regular pediatrician. Now we have a better treatment plan and a lot less guilt for mommy because I felt like I missing something since I was following all the doctor's orders but Baby Boy was still making too many emergency room visits. 2 of my other kids have garden variety asthma while Baby Boy is a labile asthmatic - fine one minute and within hours his heart rate is racing, low oxygen saturation and really high respirations and needs more help than just his nebulizer.

Baby Boy is now back to his old happy self and he was one happy camper to be back home. We see his developmental pediatrician this week. Little guy needs a break - he is a friendly guy alright, but our heads spin with the medical professionals in his team - pediatrician, speech therapist, occupational therapist, developmental pediatrician, early interventionist and now a pulmonologist. But we are really grateful for access to excellent medical care and understanding work places.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Because I Hate Black People.......

Event: end of kindergarten school year picnic in the park.

One little kindergarten boy asks a little kindergarten girl to please be his partner for a water balloon fight. Little kindergarten girl folds her hands and tells little kindergarten boy she does not want to be his partner. Little innocent kindergarten boy skips off happily to look for some one else who wants to play. When all are paired up, little kindergarten girl does not have a partner. Little kindergarten girl with quivering lips comes to a mommy who was observing the interaction to ask for her assistance in getting a partner. The observing mommy reminds little kindergarten girl that little kindergarten boy had asked to be her partner and she declined. Little kindergarten girl without missing a beat says she did not want to play with him because she hates black people. Observing mommy almost has a heart attack - a full fledged racist kindergartener? Unfortunately (or fortunately because this mommy is not sure of the outcome of the "little talk" she would have had) little kindergarten girl’s mommy is not at the picnic.

So many things that are tragic with this picture – little kindergarten boy who has a really tender heart who through out the school year would finish his work really fast to help little kindergarten girl with her work - some of the other little girls would make fun of little kindergarten girl since she was struggling with kindergarten schoolwork and little kindergarten boy did not want anyone making fun of her. Little kindergarten boy who really wanted to learn how to tie his shoes and though shy, would ask any adult in the class to teach him how. All so that he could teach little kindergarten girl how to tie hers so that same said girls Would stop laughing at her since she did not know how to tie hers. Tragic that little kindergarten girl’s heart has already been corrupted with such hate at such a young age. Even more tragic that little girl peddling racism is Vietnamese and will have to deal with prejudice and racism directed at her. Tragic for innocent little kindergarten boy who will have to overcome enormous challenges to be the boy who God intended him to be – brilliant scientist, kind-hearted, caring and all around one totally decent kid. Oh how my heart breaks for him - it is one thing to deal with prejudice and racism from adults, but having to deal with it from your peers as early as kindergarten? Tragic for the mommy observing this interaction who was too flabbergasted to figure out how to handle the issue – I mean a chat with the parents is probably meaningless – racism is not genetic but taught. And this mommy has to quickly get her act together to get a game plan because her black children are counting on her to protect them against racism, both veiled and not so veiled. And all this happening in an elementary school in a state that calls itself the trail blazer in progressive issues and where diversity is supposedly the fad de jour. Oh what hope is there for our children if fifty years after dogs and fire hoses were unleashed on school children fighting against racism, racism is still so much alive and well?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When Love Is Not Enough

Before adopting Baby Boy, we knew he had some developmental delays. But his social worker assured us the delays were nothing that a loving home would not “cure” in a few short months. Well, I am here to say, that a year later, love alone has not “cured” my traumatized child. I totally was uninformed on the issues that a traumatized child can face (not that it would have made any difference whatsoever in our decision), but I am sad that the professionals who should be better informed seemed more clueless than I was. More than a year later, we have loved Baby Boy to pieces, advocated for his needs and made sure he gets early intervention services, speech therapy, sees a developmental pediatrician and we are now adding occupational therapy. Even with all these interventions, the progress is slower than slow. At 28 months, Baby Boy still does not speak volitionally, nor can he use his sign language volitionally – he will repeat words in context and use a sign after you say the word, but he can’t initiate the word or sign enough to communicate. His vocabulary is less than 10 words – less than his one year old sister’s vocabulary. This sometimes leaves a frustrated child – he knows what he wants, but simply can’t communicate his needs because mommy sometimes does not understand the grunts or pointing or babbling. And this leaves a grieving mommy when she looks at a happy, smiling boy who is clueless at the mountains he will have to overcome. I thought I had some parenting issues down pat, like how to potty train in four days. But we got thrown for a loop – how do you potty train a child who will not communicate volitionally that he needs to go? If you ask him if he needs to use the potty, he just smiles and says potty. Baby boy does not understand most two step commands and we are left wondering how to parent twins who are reaching their developmental milestones miles apart? And how do you show empathy for the one, without neglecting the needs of the other? When we were getting an evaluation for occupational therapy, I wanted to bury my head and pretend that the questions that the therapist was asking were not pointing to autism. Of course, she soon removed the wool from my eyes by using the A word! Baby Boy does not have an official diagnosis of autism, and I am stopping myself from doing any research – because I want a few carefree days of blessed ignorance before his next appointment with the developmental pediatrician in a couple of weeks. So we soldier on, trying to prove his social worker right that all he needs is love and he will catch up to his peers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Big brother extraordinaire had a spell-a-thon today to raise funds for our school district (pending budget cuts may increase class size from 20 kids to 30 kids next school year). He aced it, but silly bunny did not even realize it! We have been practicing his spelling words along with his 100 sight word challenge for kindergarten and this morning, he was anxious because he thought he may not remember all his spelling words and disappoint his teacher. I so love the innocence of Kindergarteners and how they think the world of their teachers! It is such a magical age!

Congratulations big brother. You continue to amaze me with your love for your siblings, even crying your heart out yesterday when your little sister went for a sleep over, because you missed her so. Thank you for loving me so, even when I expect so much of - you are my right hand guy helping me so much with the little ones. You never complain and a year later, you still happily go get mommy diapers, help clean up toys that you did not even play with, and always remind me that the little ones are just babies when mommy gets a bit impatient sometimes! We rocked your world a year ago, but you took everything in stride and are so secure in our love for you. Thank you for being so funny and goofy and for your love of the sciences and making your humanities leaning mama have to dust up her science knowledge! Though mommy never fulfilled her daddy's dreams for her to become a doctor (she could not stand the sight of blood), you still believe in my abilities to make your boo boos better and you always call me doctor mom! You bless our hearts so much and we are so proud of you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Does Your Sunday Morning Look Like This?

6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, I am wide awake (why can’t I do this during the weekdays, when I actually need to be awake at this time so that I can get to work) and I enjoy a few minutes of quiet time day dreaming that today, is the day I just might be able to sleep in.

At 7:00 a.m. big brother bounds up to my room totally awake, full of energy that only a five year old boy can muster and he is ready to take on the world. When I realize pretending to be asleep does not curb his early morning enthusiasm, I remember big brother has not yet discovered that 5 ½ year old Kindergarteners are too cool and no longer watch Sprout and PBS Kids and I feel comfortable sending him downstairs to watch a little T.V. that states it is suitable for preschoolers.

7:10 a.m., I jump out of bed when I get visions of big brother trying to make breakfast for the family – he has a servant’s heart and is always trying to make life easier for mommy – but microwave, stove and 5 ½ old boy are just not a good combination! Okay so much for sleeping in. We enjoy some time together, make breakfast and I watch the millionth episode of Barney & Friends.

8:00 a.m. dh leaves to teach Sunday school, whistling as he goes - I think he is totally clueless that getting four kids five and under ready in the morning when you have places to go is not as easy as pie or maybe he knows (though not from experience) and he is glad he has an escape. Otherwise, he would not be so cheerful on Sunday mornings.

9:00 a.m. the three youngest have made it perfectly clear that it is time for me to get up those stairs and meet their needs. Four baths later with uncooperative munchkins who compete on who will flood the bathroom the most, who will get mommy the wettest, and who will run off the most times sans clothes, giving mommy a major work out chasing toddlers who think this is the funniest game ever. Somehow, I manage to get the two year olds and the one year old dressed. As for the five year old, he is on his own - I just hope he remembered to tuck in his shirt and clip on his tie.

9:45 a.m. Start working on two diva’s hairs - I must be an eternal optimist because I am always hopeful that the hairstyles I work on so hard on Saturday night will stay put for Sunday. However, the girls have other ideas – every Sunday morning when I go to get them out of bed, they gleefully point at their handiwork in the form of all the hair bands and barrettes lying on the floor.

10:00 a.m. Breakfast time. Try feeding three kiddos who love their food at the same time and then add big brother who decides that of all the mornings, this is the morning when he needs mommy’s help to eat his waffle! We avoid disaster, most of the food does not land on their clothes and mommy puts up the gates and prays that big brother does not take it upon himself to get all three over the gate so that they can all go upstairs to surprise mommy!

10:25 a.m. hit the shower and try to break the record of the quickest shower ever. Pretend that my clothes don’t look like a cow has been chewing on them, avoid the mirror, and hope for the best.

10:40 a.m. one of the munchkins decides mommy’s breakfast did not meet their standards and decides their Sunday finest is the best place to regurgitate their meal. Mommy quickly decides she has no time to cry, magically wipes down said child and changes their clothes all in less than two minutes, while hoping that the throw up smell is only in the air and not coming from said child. Ignore the other suspicious smell that suggests that another one or two children might need a diaper change. 10 shoes later, I have to decide whether to ignore some miscellaneous barrettes on the floor and let people think I am a bad mommy who can’t fix her daughters’ hair or if it more important to get to church on time.

10:50 a.m. load up said munchkins into the car – some are trying to wander off and pick flowers. Never thought loading up kids could lead to such a work out – I hope that the deodorant does what the advertisers say it does and also hope that the make up is water proof – oh yeah, skip that, have not had time for make up in a year. All is good. Exercise is overrated – can’t seem to break a sweat on the treadmill, but I am guaranteed to every Sunday, just loading up kids and diaper bags. Thank goodness church is just five minutes away and I make it in the nick of time – and once again promise that next Sunday, I will be one of the families that stroll in 15 minutes before service starts. And the morning is not yet over – there is still the church service, but that is for another post.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One More Orphan :(

On Wednesday night April 7, 2010, my innocent little 3 year old self fit the UN definition of an orphan and became part of the 147 million orphan statistic. While grown ups may squabble about the UN’s definition of an orphan - a child 0-17 whose mother (maternal orphans) or father (paternal orphans) or both (double orphans) are dead – they can not squabble over the fact that on that tragic day, I became a fatherless child.

On that Wednesday night, I ceased to be defined as the happy, spunky, gregarious, talkative, carefree girly girl who could tumble and wrestle with the best of them, or as the kid who astounded everyone when she could speak fluently at 1 ½ years old and who by 2 years old was already fluently bi-lingual and at 3 was working on being fluent in her third language. Before that Wednesday night, my only cares were loving my dolls, playing with my toy kitchen, having long extended tea parties and keeping everyone laughing because they say I talk a mile a minute and always say the darndest things. Instead, from that fateful night last week, everyone looks at me with pity and sorrow as I try and figure out why everyone is so sad and what it means when I ask for my daddy and everyone tells me that he is in heaven. Now, I am defined as the poor little girl who does not have a daddy.

Because on that Wednesday night you decided it was no big deal to drive drunk on a suspended license while serving probation for a previous drunken-driving conviction. And you also decided it was not worth your time to stop and check on my daddy as he lay trapped under the wheels of your pickup truck – it was more important to leave the scene so that the police would not know that you were driving drunk. Thank goodness that this is not the final image I will know about the last minutes of my daddy’s life – your brother was decent enough to remain at the scene and lead police to your home where your cowardly drunk self was hiding. And even more decent were all the people who had just spent Wednesday night at bible study with my daddy and who had just watched him don on his helmet, get on his motorcycle and wave goodbye, but who a minute later were trying to administer CPR and were praying like crazy that God would let my daddy live. As you sit in jail, you will never know just how much my daddy loved me and what a wonderful and dedicated father he was. Nor will you ever know all the sacrifices he made to be the world’s greatest father. You will never know that my daddy was an all round decent man who not only cared for me, but he so deeply cared for others, was in an elite urban search and rescue team and was training to be a firefighter so that he could continue to put his life on the line to help save lives. On Wednesday night, the brave firefighters were the first on the scene to try and help save my daddy’s life – thanks to you, he will not be joining them on the big red fire truck. The only tangible reminder of the hero that my daddy was, will be the flag given to me by a representative from our Governor's office as a thank you from the people of my state for my daddy sacrifices. On Wednesday night, his elite group of 103 men from around my state became one man short.

Today, perhaps you are reflecting on whether the buzz you felt after your drinks and getting behind the wheel was worth taking a life, while my mommy shops for the dress I will wear at my daddy’s funeral. As I walk through life without my daddy I pray that the memories we built together for the last three years will not grow dim. After a short stint in jail, you may forget that you took a life, and perhaps get behind the wheel drunk yet again. But this little girl will not have the luxury of forgetting – because she will never hear her daddy’s voice, get her daddy’s hugs again, or see the million dollar smile that her daddy gave everyone he met, but the biggest smile of all that just lit up his whole face, he saved for his little princess. This little girl will not have her daddy to cheer her on when she graduates from college and she will not have her proud daddy walking her down the aisle.

Elizabeth, we love you so very much and we who knew your daddy will make sure that your memory of him does not grow dim and we will always make sure that you always know that you were one loved and cherished daddy’s little girl.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Ms. Happy!

Baby Girl 2 is just all sunshine. She is the easiest baby the world has ever known - she has always bubbled, smiled and cooed and has very predictable needs. She smiles and laughs and is just simply delightful! We really should have named her Joy - the name totally fits her (darn those profiles which simply did not even begin to describe my baby girl's personality, hence us not choosing this name). She loves her food and though silly bunny can't chew solids yet - she still loves her pureed food. She thinks she is in heaven now that she is drinking cow's milk, absolutely adores her oldest brother and shows a lot of grace to the twins who try and force feed her her bottle! She can say mommy, daddy, bye bye, hi, up, goodnight, no (which she hears often), as well as call her brothers by name. She also "helps" her big brother learn his kindergarten sight words by calling out "up" everytime I show him a new flash card (up is one of his sight words). She is one smart cookie! She loves to play peekaboo and loves to talk on the phone! She has two little teeth trying to break through and just took a couple of steps yesterday. She stands for the longest and is so proud of herself that she just stands clapping for herself that she forgets to take a step! Baby girl is just pure joy! She is a bit mischievous and is forever trying to get into her daddy's music all the while looking to see if anyone sees her. If she notices someone watching her - she crawls a marathon - I have never seen a faster crawler! Baby girl is just pure joy and oh how everyone loves her! Happy first birthday baby girl - what a joy you are to parent and oh how my heart is filled with love for you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oh, Those Poor Africans....

Partial picture of Nairobi - picture lifted from

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia through the eyes of most adoptive parents of Ethiopian kids – wonderful and descriptive descriptions of heavily laden donkeys on the city streets, beggars everywhere happily taking candy handed out by the adoptive parents, the colors of the famous gates of the various orphanages and transitional houses, the wonderful nannies at the orphanages, the dogs barking at all hours of the night, the beautiful children left behind that the adoptive parents just want to scoop up and bring home, those poor people at the leper colony, the obligatory coffee ceremony and of course the beautiful people of Ethiopia. All of which forever changes the describer of these travels.

Kigali, Rwanda, the newest destination for International Adoptions – wonderful descriptions of the green country, the land of a thousand hills, the nice hotel with the beautiful gardens, the wonderful POAs, the traditional dancers, learning how to strap a child on the back Rwandan style and of course the genocide memorial.

Nairobi, Kenya – transit point for a lot of adoptive parents of Rwandan children: pictures of a day safari, perhaps some pictures of the kids feeding giraffes at the giraffe centre, pictures outside the clinic where you have to wait for hours for the U.S. Embassy required medical exams needed for the children’s visas and oh sometimes a description of the traffic nightmare that is downtown Nairobi.

Perspective: most parents stay in five star hotels – most in a lot nicer hotels than I have stayed in the U.S (at least true for vast majority of the five star hotels that dot Nairobi, Kenya), the opportunity to be chauffeur driven and have the driver be at your beck and call all day (when was the last time you had a taxi driver in the U.S that was at your beck and call), access to clean bottled water, excellent customer service (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but Americans around the world are thought to be some of the most generous tippers – the British – not so much, hence Americans generally get preferential treatment). On inconvenient facts that may destroy some of the stereotype of Africa? Deafening silence. I mean, how much can you appreciate my sacrifice if I tell you of the fact that there are cities in Africa have modern buildings, modern amenities, some world class hotels and restaurant, and yes, even paved streets? I mean, I have to keep with the American stereotype of the perpetually malnourished African child, with the runny nose, huge belly, ribs sticking out with flies all over their body. And the African woman who has had 10 children too many, with a child strapped to their back begging in the streets of Addis Ababa and grateful for candy from the American philanthropist who is guilty they did not bring more candy. The ramshackle kiosks where those desperately poor men are trying to eke out a living? Now these are the perfect backdrops for good pictures to show back home. Because really, could you really appreciate that I have been to Africa without these? Never mind that there are a million images in the western world that perpetuate these stereotypes, thank you very much. And the fact that it annoys most Africans to be thus depicted – as the objects of our pity, instead of someone, anyone telling of the progress made towards westernization? We never get to know that they get offended, because seriously, after numerous squeezes of the hand sanitizer after an African shakes our hands, and as we take these obligatory pictures, it never leaves room for real relationships with the citizens of these countries to really ever know. And this, my friends is the lopsided perspective we give our children adopted from Africa of their countries of origin. Because even if we tell them the reality of their countries of origin, they will still be surrounded by our families and friends who still fondly hold on to these stereotypes (thanks to those countless pictures we took).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Babyboy!

Oh, babyboy, babyboy! You smile can melt a glacier and you love, love, love, cuddles. You laugh and dance and play, play, play! You give millions of wet, slobbery kisses and all the ladies want to steal you and take you home! You want to be just like your big brother and have taken to carrying around your blankie just like him! You bring out the mommy bear in me and together for the last five months we have taken on the big bad guys and there is victory in sight! Between your killer smile and mommy's vow to advocate for you, you will get speech therapy and be able to tell mommy all the adorable things that make your eyes twinkle! You work so hard at sign language and keep mommy on her toes learning sign. You are so gentle with everyone and especially with your baby sister (unless one of your siblings takes your food)! You fool us all the time - being shy around strangers most of the time and then on your birthday being Mr. Personality and flirting with all the girls, dancing with ChuckeE and having a blast playing all the machines! Hard to believe you have been ours only ten months - it feels like you have always been a part of our family. So thankful that God entrusted you in our care. We love you bunches!

Happy Birthday BabyGirl

We love you Ms. Sunshine! You fill our home with tons of joy and laughter. You are our resident tom-boy, but at the same time all girly. You oh so patiently let mommy fix your hair and always reward my efforts by running to the mirror and saying pretty! You are a social butterfly and love mothering your siblings. You don't sit still long enough for lots of cuddles, but you make sure everyone gets their kiss and hug for the day. You love your doll and toy stroller and you are a girl after your mother's heart - you love books. You love cleaning and helping and you never miss anything around you! I wish I understood some of your animated stories that you love to tell complete with dramatization, dancing and singing! You turned two but you insist to everyone who will listen that you are six! Don't grow up too fast babygirl! Oh how I love you my baby doll.