Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Celebrating The Season


Lots of images on this post. Has been a very busy season, and more-than-the-usual stress involved. Still planning on going private, but I wanted to post these pictures before they became obsolete!


My kind and supportive friend Janet took the girls for most of a day to give me some private shopping time. They got all dressed up and went to the mall to see Santa.











Janet got to try out her new Nikkon, with spectacular results!

The girls asked Santa for bikes this Christmas. Guess what Virginia? There IS a Santa Claus!

They asked for the training wheels to come off after the first day. Ava took off like a pro on the very first push! Elle is still working on it. She has the balance thing down but still working on control, which she lacks. And all she really cares about is speed! Lord help me!

Christmas is not complete for little girls without new dolls. Ava named hers after me. Even though it looks like her.

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We also had a birthday in there. Elle turned 7 three days before Christmas. We had her little party on the Sunday before the holiday.

She had a little bit of a hard time understanding the whole concept. Because she has never even celebrated her birthday, or known when it was, I have been telling her for months it was 'at Christmas'. Then I had to explain to her that her birthday was on the 22nd but we were having the party on the 20th. By the time it was all said and done, she thought she was having 3 birthday parties, and had a bit of a meltdown when she found out that was NOT the case! Luckily, Santa Claus and his visit made up for all that misunderstanding, and hopefully we have it down for next year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Don't forget to turn the music off at the side bar...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Going Private

Have not wanted to do this, but have been considering it for awhile. Now, even more lately. There is no guarantee that I will write more, but I do need to write honestly, and feel like I'm having to sugarcoat or omit right now for protection.

If you are interested in following us please send me your email on this forum.

Thanks!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Still Marked By November

I did not exit unscathed from November. On Monday, the last day of the month, I found out that Stevenson is OUT OF IBESR!!! This is truly amazing, a 5 month stay. Even M., the director of the O is amazed. The ONLY reason I can think that this happened is that I was granted dispense for the girls only 18 months ago, and perhaps they piggybacked it.

Of course there is one small glitch with the paperwork: the child emerged with my maiden name attached to him instead of my name, which is my married name. And I found out something interesting about Haitian culture. In Haiti, if you get a divorce, the women's name automatically reverts back to her family name. M. could not fathom why we don't do the same, and I told him it was because of the children. This did not happen with the girls, but, you know, personnel changes in these offices, so who knows why. She thought it would be an easy fix.

As always, this news is bittersweet. To my adoptive friends that have been waiting so long for dispense and approval, I am so sorry you are still stuck in this process, and I know the feeling well. If there is rhyme or reason to Haitian adoption, I can't figure it out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Final Benediction

For the past several years November has brought gifts, news, events, and epiphanies that have foreshadowed and changed the course of the rest of my life. So far this year I am free from that, but there are still 2 days left in the month. So there is still time.

Each event has built upon the other. I suspect that this year's event is only that I share what happened last year, as I promised at that time that I would.

I'll go backwards just a little.

It is beyond ironic to me that November is National Adoption Month.

In November of 2006 is when God first placed the desire to adopt in my heart. Once that happens, for those of you who know, there is no place to go but forward. You can think about it, analyze it, parse it, slice it and dice it, and try to run away from it (I tried all of the above and more) but it is in your heart. If you are honest with yourself, you cannot get away.

In November of 2007 my long-term boyfriend/fiance broke up for good, forever. Yes, I know I wrote that it happened in June of 2007, and that is when I started adoption proceeding. That is true. I also wrote that there was a coda to the story, and the short version is we had one more get together that lasted about a month. When I told him I was adopting Ava and Elle, he turned on an immediate dime and it was really over. 5 + years down the drain.

Then last November on Thanksgiving Day I received a phone call that rocked my world. The younger brother of my girls was being placed for adoption. Did I want the opportunity to adopt him?

It was actually a whole lot more complicated than that, but that was the jest of it.

Did I? Well yes, I did. With all my heart. But I was in complete shock. I was near the end of my financial allocation for adoption, and there was no more. I said I had to think it over (pray about it) and try to get some clarity.

I will say this. Even though my first adoption was not complete, I had it in the back of my mind that there was one more child for me. I chalked this up to a sort of a phantom fantasy. It seemed that the actual reality would only upset the apple cart in my perfect world. (lol) However, it was clear enough in my fantasy that this child was a boy, under the age of 5 with brown skin. I had researched domestic adoption again, and only come up with frustration. Then I started looking at the little boys at the "O" that needed families, but I did not feel led in that direction. At which point I would laugh at myself and tell myself I must be freaking crazy.
That's one reason the phone call was so shocking. It addressed my phantom feelings/fantasy and more. Stevenson was 4 years old, just a little over a year younger than Elle. It felt like a missing piece of a big puzzle. (For one thing it explained to me her 'middle child' behaviors that I had already experienced on my visits.) I realized that Ava was 4 years old when he was born, and that she was probably very attached to him. (I found out I was right about that)


It was just Lucas and I for Thanksgiving that day. So after I got off the phone, I told him. He said he thought I should do it. I told him I wanted to, I just did not know how I was going to manage it and I was not going to make an emotional decision. My entire body felt like it was buzzing, literally. And that continued for days. Which is exactly how I felt the first time the desire to adopt was placed in my heart. I knew I had to make a decision. I knew what my heart wanted, but I just did not know how I could do it. A brief hard look at my finances told me what I already knew: after adoption expenses, it was going to be TIGHT. And just where would those adoption expenses come from? Much less the $ for living day to day?

I will confess that I still don't know all the answers to those last two questions, a year later. But I do know that our lives are made up of a mixture of (mostly) self-determination, uncontrollable outside circumstances, and grace. I knew I was being graced right then. And I was afraid. But again, my heart was telling me to go forward.

After a nearly sleepless night, Lucas asked me the next day if I had made up my mind yet. I said no. "But Mom! What if he is meant to be the best soccer player ever and he never got his opportunity!"

That was kind of dramatic, but true. I ended up calling back 2 days earlier than I said I was going to and telling them I was going to do it.


"OK" I was told "But you can't change your mind about this."

"I'm not going to change my mind."

When I went to Haiti in April, I stayed longer than I normally would have because I wanted to meet and spend time with Stevenson. I was unsure how this was all going to take place on this trip, but the last night I was there is when M. brought him to the hotel, along with their birth mother.

It was a short visit, but one of the most intense 30 minutes I have ever experienced. In addition to extreme sadness there was extreme happiness. When I met this boy I was immediately taken with him. I was glowing. For days afterwards, even with all that was going on. For me, it was love at first sight!





He was smiley and sweet. His sisters were so happy to see him. Our time was very short together. I gave him a stuffed turtle which was really a back pack; it had a toy car ("machine!") inside and a pair of sunglasses.







I know it was explained to him what was happening, but I'm sure his (now) 5 year old little brain could not comprehend it. This was also the night that M told Ava and Elle that he would be coming to live with us. For all us, it may have been one of the happiest and saddest days of our lives. Ava cried herself to sleep, happy and overwhelming sad at the same time.



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He went into the orphanage after that. It was rough at first. He was so upset he did not eat for a week and he got sick, but they finally got him turned around. He's doing good now.

I'm glad he is well now but that broke my heart. Again. The choices people have to make in the face of that kind of poverty breaks my heart. I feel like if his mom has to make these kind of sacrifices and choices who am I to whine about money? It may not be easy for me, but it's attainable. I'm not fooling myself. I have to have some work done on my house (expansion)before I will be approved for another home study, and that is in addition to adoption expenses.

But the Lord has brought us this far, I trust him not to fail me now.

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I will continue to reflect on this turn of events as time goes on. I have a year's worth of thoughts in my rolling around in my brain, so trust me, I have plenty to say!



Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving


So much to be thankful for this year. It almost goes without saying, except I say it anyway. To validate it, and give praise to the One from Whom All Blessings Flow.
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Lucas went to North Carolina with his Dad, and of course Nick is in California, so it was just the girls and I for their first Thanksgiving holiday. They are not totally convinced on this American traditional cuisine, but we reviewed the story about the Pilgrims and the Indians, and I talked about how they farmed and hunted and traded and worked the whole traditional food aspect of it in there so they could kind of understand. They liked some of it, especially in comparison to the cafeteria turkey dinner they were served about a week ago. After that, I was afraid they would never eat turkey again, but they did, and they liked it, and they proclaimed me a good cook and a good mama, LOL.
Hoping I'm not jinxing myself but life seems a little easier lately in terms of their adjustments. We are miles away from the beginning, and we never had really horrible times, but we've had some tough ones. Once in awhile that still happens, but everyday seems like we are making progress and improving our relationships and our bonding as a family. I know I say stuff like that alot, but it's because it's true. The first year IS hard, and it's not over yet but I consider myself blessed and I would not change a minute of it!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Race On The Playground

Not the kind of race you usually associate with the playground.



This is a tough story to tell, and I only know how to do it in a straight-forward manner. I'm still in shock, and I don't know that I have any helpful insight or commentary at this point.





Except for the fact that we are on a furlough week, today was low-stress at work. It was the last day before our furlough-Thanksgiving break, which is 5 days, and because of our restricted hours, I actually had time (and just enough money) to do my holiday grocery shopping ALONE and pick up the kids early. When I got to the school, I walked in the front door and immediately sensed something was wrong. The PE coach was standing near the front door talking to a man and a little girl who were seated on a bench in front of the office. Coach runs the after school program, but he is usually gone for the day by the time I get there. (the YWCO counselors who do the bulk of the work anyway, finish the day) I recognized the little girl: she is in my Sunday School class. I know her mom, and I assumed the man was her father. As I walked by them he was asking her "was it the big one or the little one?" all the while following me with his eyes. I kept walking, but instinctively I knew he was talking about my girls. He may as well have said "was it the big BLACK one or the little BLACK one?" My kids are not the only black kids in aftercare, but they are the only ones that come as a package, so to speak. I thought 'I wonder WTH this is all about, and worked hard at keeping my anger and my panic level under the radar since I had no facts about anything yet. Just an instinctive fire alarm going off inside of me.



I got to the cafeteria and one of the YWCO counselors caught me at the door and said, "oh good you're here. Something happened today, and Coach needs to talk to you." I said "he's up front with L_ _ _ _ _ and her dad" the counselor said "well, I guess I need to tell you what happened today. Your girls are not in trouble or anything, but something happened"



I was glad he sorta clarified that. The girls have not had any behavior issues at school, but they've had some at home, and at that point I was wondering if some of it had spilled over.



But no. We went into the room next door and he proceeded to tell me that Ava and L----- had gotten into a minor altercation on the playground that included some shoving and some arguing. L----- ended up on the ground, and although she was not hurt, she was mad. At that point she called Ava the "N" word. Ava did not know what it meant but she knew it was bad. She must have said "I am not" because at that point L----- said she was because her skin was brown and not like her own.



I was so shocked I think you could have knocked me over with a feather. But my mind was racing. Where would this kid get this stuff and why did she think it was OK to bring it to school? All right, I realize that is not even a reasonable question sequence. The only answer possible is that she got it from an adult in her life and she is too young to control her emotions when she gets angry. But she must have known it was wrong because I found out later from Ava that she tried to apologize before Ava told anyone, and then she tried to lie about the fact that she said it.



At any rate, Coach finally came back and told me what happened. I asked him where he thought L------ got that word, and he said at first he was not sure because her dad was a policeman and he is Hispanic. He was 'interrogating' her when I walked in the front door, and he finally got her to admit what she did. Then Coach slipped a little and let me know that the Dad thought it came from Mom's side of the family, as they are divorced and apparently there is some animosity there. In my head I was imagining Mom and/or her family disparaging Dad, some of it based on his racial identity. I imagined if they had an issue about Hispanics, it did not stop there. Of course, L------ is half Hispanic too. And she is a very beautiful and sweet little girl. My heart is breaking for these little kids. But most especially for my own daughter. When we got home, I took her aside and asked her what happened. Her eyes started filling up with tears almost immediately, and spilled over when she got to the heart of the story. She definitely got that it was about her being brown and different, even though she did not know what that word meant.



I told her it was a bad word and we don't use it, and that L------ was in trouble because she did. I also told her it was not OK to shove little kids. But I told her most of all, "don't EVER let someone else make you feel bad about yourself by something THEY say. It's THEIR problem and those bad things are not true." I also told her that when Jesus looks at us he does not care or even see the color of our skin and he only looks at what is in our hearts, because that is what is important. That she is beautiful and we are all beautiful to Him. Also that if L------ apologized by chance, that she should accept her apology and not hold a grudge, because that is what Jesus would do, and what He would want her to do too.



She cried for a little while and I knew it really hurt her. And she does not even understand all the implications, she only knew that this little girl singled her out because she is different, and tried to make her feel like she was less than because of the color of her skin.



It may seems harsh that I'm tagging the Mom on this but there is a little history there. Mom goes to the same church I do, and like I said, her daughter is/was in my Sunday School class. But last Sunday, her mom pulled her out and put her in with the older age group, which is really not appropriate. It was obvious that there was a problem there, but I was trying not to take it personally. I really don't know this woman but I see her at school functions and at church and I am always friendly towards her. After church Sunday I saw her at a grocery store, and she obviously snubbed me. When I greeted her she turned her back on me.



I thought "Wow, she really does have a problem with me and I really don't even know her"



Based on all the evidence, I can only guess that she is one of those that 'does not approve' of my lifestyle. This is the same issue with my X-boyfriend/fiance' so it's semi-familiar territory.



I don't know what will happen next. L----- will be "written up" by the YWCO program. Yeah, she's five years old. I'm shocked that a 5 year old can be 'written up" but I guess it has to be documented. And it forces the parents to acknowledge it. It's really up to the parents to correct this. Church will be interesting on Sunday. There are at least 30,000 people in this county and probably 200 churches, and we happen to attend the same one. As well as Coach. He and I are on the same volunteer team.



I'm not a huge proponent of "political correctness", however I am even less a fan of hateful behavior. The huge majority of people I know or meet, Black and White, Hispanic and Asian, are pretty open and accepting of my family. Most people just love these girls. Still, it's jarring to encounter this personally, I won't lie.



And if you are thinking that the Deep South is hopelessly entrenched in this, I would have to disagree. Much has changed here, and in our country in general. I have lived in other places, and seen the ugly face of racism up close. I have always know it was morally wrong. The South has staged much of the institutional changes and there are still generations of grudges to be eased for people of both races. The media is obsessed with the dramatic. But you can encounter hate anywhere you go, as well as love. We can only hope and pray that love wins.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Monkey Bars




We stopped by the playground at the school on our way home from church yesterday. The girls have been itchin' to show me their prowess on the monkey bars. They have been working on this skill since they got home in April, you might remember their attempts over the summer...








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And now, for some lady-like poses!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gone Again


My oldest has decided to go back to California, so we saw him off on Wednesday. I'm sad because he won't be close by, but I'm happy because he is happy. If those conflicting emotions make any sense!

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Kickoff to the Holdays




For me, Halloween always marks the beginning of the busy holiday season. Even more hectic, (and more fun) when there are little kids involved.
The girls adored the Halloween thing, and it took them no time to figure it out! Elle was a princess (check out the Barbie cowboy boots with her dress!....Princess Pistolero to be sure!) and Ava was an angel. She wanted to be a butterfly, so I let her think that angel costume was a butterfly costume, it had wings after all. And butterflies have halos, don't ya know???


We carved pumpkins in the afternoon.



Then got dressed and went to the open house at the Volunteer Fire Dept. The weather was strange. Rained during the day, and got really muggy, I had to turn the air conditioning on. Then it quit raining. Then it started getting cold, and started raining again, which is pretty much what it did for the rest of the evening. Mostly just drizzle tho.








Running in the rain to the VFD

Ava is checking it all out! Elle giving me an earful as usual!

Cotton candy for the first time...it looks so inviting, but it tastes so...nothing~ They decided they really did not care for it after all. After this we started the trick or treating. They were so darn excited and happy, they could hardly believe it. Suffice it to say, they LOVE Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

6 Months Home




I really can't believe I'm posting this. SIX MONTHS HOME!!!

It has absolutely flown by. I say that, and then I think of the days that seemed like they would never end. Those days are fewer and farther between...we still have some tough times, but they occur less and usually last a few hours at the most. I can't really complain about it because I know it's nothing compared to the level of difficulty that some families experience. We are blessed in that these girls came from a relatively stable home (I'm thinking that poverty and illness were the major instability factors) and their two years in the orphanage had lots of positives to balance out those negatives. They made lots of friends, they had lots of experiences they would not have had otherwise, and they knew their time there was limited. They adored and identified with the orphanage director, and always felt she had their best interests at heart. For all but 30 days, they knew I was their 'Mama Blan' and that someday they would come 'abroad' to live with me. (We are still working on the whole 'concept of adoption' thing. They accept I am their mother II, that Lucas and Nick are their brothers...they have difficulty understanding that they are my daughters...I guess because they know they were born to mother I)

They are bright kids. Elle is very athletic. Given her personality, in that she needs alot of attention and recognition, this is good and I plan on developing her in this direction. Ava is more cerebral as well as girly. She likes to make money. She's been telling me she wants to be a Taxi Driver because they make lots of money LOL She will ask for extra jobs to earn money, and she will scrounge change from every place she can think of and exchange it. She is very interested in school, and her reading is moving right along. She is on a first grade level at this point, but progressing. Her teacher's plan is to teach her both first and second grade this year. We work at it, and she's making progress. Her teacher found out what I already suspected: if we started her in the first grade, it would be almost impossible to bump her up. She figured if she put Ava back there for a period of time, to get her that solid foundation, she would move up fast. She found out that she would probably not move up at all, except one grade at the end of the year. Given Ava's age, this would not be a good scenario. Thanks to all you adoptive parents out there in the blogosphere, I figured this would be the case, and that is why I was adamant that she start in the second grade, even though she is older than most of her classmates. She is not the only 9 year old in her class however, nor is she the only adoptee or even the only one who's first language is not English. Which is pretty amazing when you consider our little country school.

Elle likes school especially for the social aspect, but she lacks concentration in all things academic. I wondered if she was disordered in anyway, because she is VERY ACTIVE, but then one day I watched her (at home) sit for hours and make seed-bead bracelets, and I realized that could not be the case. Her teacher confirmed that at our conference last week. She is NOT hyper-active. She is very active, however!

They both need extra help with language, of course. There is just so much to learn! But they are on track, doing well. Elle does slip back into using Creole for certain words sometimes, and she is babyish sometimes, but they rarely speak Creole amongst themselves anymore. I've tried to keep Ava interested in it, but she just is not, so I suspect she has already lost much of it. Their language teacher recommended listening to (children's) books on tape, which can be checked out at the public library. I will let you know how that goes.

They are highly competitive with each other over my attention. When they start talking over each other (and fighting about it) I make them raise their hands (like they are in class) and then call on them. They fight and argue and bicker, but if I separate them for any length of time they get anxious over the one missing. Suffice it to say their relationship is very complicated. I believe it has been incredibly helpful for them to be adopted together, even tho at times I have questioned my own sanity. Because sometimes it's just TOO MUCH! and I wonder if they are getting all the individualized attention they need. A new child in the family is a huge transition for everyone. Somehow, I have been given strength when I felt like I had no more. And I believe in the long run, it is what is best for them.
It's true what they say: the first year is very hard, and we are only 1/2 way thru it. But things are so much easier that they were 3 or 4 months ago. I have hope I might even get a semblance of my life back! Someday! Because I see glimpses of it now... I know we will never be the same, and I don't expect us to be. But I welcome the balance, and it feels healthy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Break





























The girls have been on Fall Break from school for the last 5 days. We had two really nice days without rain, and went to the ball fields to run the dog Sunday night. Also to run some energy off them!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Turnaround

Just a short update on the situation I last posted about:

Until Monday, I had 4 superiors. Now I have 3. My immediate supervisor was let go.

The tension has lifted, and I feel free to do my job again. The managers I supervise feel the same. It's like we've been living a bad dream for the last 5 months. When things get this bad, I feel like all the life gets sucked out of me. The things that usually bring me joy seem meaningless, I feel flat. So I am looking forward to a return to my life. I knew I could not and did not want to continue that way. Even after 14 years it was forcing me to look elsewhere.

Apparently I was not the only one who felt this was a bad fit.

I do hate for anyone to lose their job, and I pray this person finds another one. But this person leaving was the best thing that could have happened to this establishment.

This was not the same person that chided me about my sick leave. So that may continue to be an issue.

It's amazing that I have struggled with so much of this for months, I post it and get an outpouring of support, and then it changes the next day!!! You guys are amazing!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

MiA

I've never neglected this blog for such a long period. There are things going on right now that I can't discuss on a public forum. Truth be told, I could use a few prayers.

Things with the girls are going pretty well, and especially under the circumstances. I am working long, long, crazy hours, and on top of that, we have gone thru a long season of illness which has included several bouts of H1N1, (more than two) and a hospitalization. I posted in anger about this a few days ago and felt compelled to take it down because my blog is not private. Let me just say that no one likes experiencing that their job might be in jeopardy. Not in this economy. Not when you are the sole provider for your family.

It feels weird to express this. No one likes a whiner or a complainer. It goes against my nature.

I vacillate alot between being really angry at things I have no control over and blaming myself. I'm also very tired. I no longer understand this world where the job is the most important thing in the world. Because I know in my heart and soul, that's a lie. Important, yes. The most important thing in existence? Uh...no.

But I do OK if I stick close to God and just take it one day at a time. I know He is bigger than any ridiculous political situation. Or any earthly situation, for that matter.

I also want to thank Janet, my former husband and his family, and my sons for their very real support. One way or another, I will make it thru this.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Raining, Pouring


I can only pray we are done with infirmities for awhile. Ava was just released from the hospital.
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After two days on the flu meds it became obvious that her stomach problem was not related to the flu. She still had the same pain in the same place, becoming more and more debilitating. By that time it was Friday before the long week-end, and the pediatrician's office decided to take an extra day off. So, I knew there was no hope of seeing someone before Tuesday unless we had an emergency situation. She got thru the next four days but she was in quite a bit of pain. It was not constant, but it was consistent. I finally got her in for a Tuesday afternoon appointment. I was hoping against hope that he would give her prescription for an intestinal virus and that would be the end of it, but after testing her physical reactions, he feared the strong possibility of appendicitis and sent us to the hospital. She immediately started to cry at this news, but we got her calmed down. I realized that her concept of a hospital must be a pretty scary thing. She also freaked out later when she had to go for her CT scan, but inserting the IV and drawing all the blood did not phase her. Fortunately her CT showed negative for an inflamed appendix, but unfortunately, it showed she had a huge intestinal blockage. This was baffling to me as she'd had fairly regular bowel movements over the week-end. But they gave her something in hopes of moving it and we had to stay until something happened. Or until they made something happen. Fortunately for Ava, 24 hours later, she moved it and they released us. After the freakout about the CT scan and her growing irritation with the IV hook up I was not enjoying the thought of her enduring an enema. I will forever have the image of her in her much-too-baggy hospital gown that came down to her ankles, in her stocking feet, walking up and down the corridor with her IV with beads in her hair and halfway down her back, click-clacking away. The good thing is the IV solution took away the pain.

I had to make a quick and unconventional decision concerning Elle. I asked my X and his wife to take her, realizing that our hospital stay was going to be more than observation. They were gracious and accommodating. I figured she was already familiar with them, she loves playing with their girls, and Lucas would be there too. But I knew internally it was going to freak her out. I told her I would come and get her as soon as possible but she was going to have to spend the night there and she could sleep in Lucas' room if she wanted to. I made her promise not to cry, which she agreed to. Then I said a quick prayer, crossed my fingers, and let her go. I talked to her on the phone a couple of times, but I was anxious. She did great, and she did not cry the whole time. But as soon as we got in the car she started melting down. I figured that would happen. I asked her "why are you crying now that I am here? You did not cry the whole time you were gone!" to which she retorted "because you told me not too!"

The real answer to the question is "because she can". She held it together while she had to, but obviously it was not that easy.

Then began the battle for Mom's attention. Big one because she'd had it exclusively for over 24 hours, and Little one because she had not had it at all. I won't lie and say things got back to normal after we got home last night. This whole thing threw everyone off kilter, and the two weeks of constant health problems has exhausted me. It's early morning and I can only hope it somewhat normalizes today. I'm going to work. I should be able to make it a whole day. That should please my boss.
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It was not all gloom and doom over the week-end. Ava had her moments that were pain-free, and at those times she returned to her happy self. They discovered this old swing (which is minus the actual swing) hidden away in my back yard.




Not to get overly philosophical, but I heard it said recently that it's the moments in life that make up our life. So I'm having to really learn to take the good with the bad. Not to let the bad color my day or even color my life. I've had a thousand bonding moments with these girls that I never have time to record here. Some unbelievable conversations. It's easy to get discouraged by the hard stuff but it's important to remember the value of perseverance and to cherish those 1000 moments. And look forward to the ones that will come.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Will You Buy Me A Daddy?"

Hello single parents. At some point all of us are going to hear some version of this question, and the fact is, there is not any easy answer to it!

I honestly never contemplated the (sometimes controversial) issues of single parenthood until I decided to become one. Even tho I am divorced my X and I have still raised the boys "together" and that worked out pretty well. Sometimes I wonder if I am shortchanging my girls because they do not have a daddy. There are plenty of people in the world that believe that it is wrong to raise a child without two parents, but the fact is, it happens. Parents get divorced, parents become widowed, and their are plenty of needy orphans around the globe that are---shall we say---extremely disadvantaged. Whose parents died in a war, or from a disease that they could not get treatment for, whose extended family cannot or will not take care of them. Kids who are starving, who may be ill, or even enslaved. It's all out there, a whole lot closer than we think, outside our 1st world bubble.

For me, I took the view that it was better for these kids to be adopted into a single parent home than to continue to struggle, not only to live, but to have some sort of a future. I also had wanted to expand my family for a long time, but the men I was with did not share my view. I decided to do something about it all before I got any older. I do believe, from my own experiences, that it's better to raise kids in a two parent environment and I am completely open to it, but right now that is just not the reality for me or the girls. I am grateful everyday for their first parents who provided them love and structure, even when it became impossible to provide food, health care and education. I am also grateful to my X (and I never thought I would say this!) for being there for the boys, and also, for providing a type of male role model/anchor for these girls. They adore him.

That said, here's the deal-io. We were watching "Hannah Montana the Movie" for about the 60th time the other day while I was doing Elle's hair. (BTW this movie also deals with single parenthood as one of it's themes) My favorite part of the movie came on, and as usual, I said, "this is my favorite part of the movie!"



What can I say? The man (still) has IT!

Elle looked up at me and said in all seriousness "Can you buy me a daddy?"
I did not mean to laugh but it was hard to help myself. I said "honey, I can't buy a daddy"

Ava said "You have to get married!"

Elle said "Well, I want you to get married, I want a daddy! He could help you!"


Ava "I don't want you to get married!" This is the second time she has expressed this, so I asked her,

"Why? Are you afraid he would take attention away from you?"

She nodded her head. She admitted it. I said "yeah, but you'd have a daddy!'

She shook her head. No, nada, negative.

Not to worry big girl. There is no daddy on the horizon right now. I'm sorry little girl, for now.

Then THEIR favorite part of the movie came on. Dance!



video

H1N1---Don't Panic

Being the anti-hypochondriac that I am, I refused to believe that this would affect us. (Yes, sometimes I have a problem with denial!) But I am also dismayed at the hype that the media has given this issue. It strikes fear in the hearts of the vulnerable, which is just diabolical in my opinion. Yes, some people have died from it, and that is very bad but the media rarely report that people die of influenza EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

The fact is that this strain of flu is rampant right now, but at least in our region, it's not very severe. At all. Ava complained of a tummy ache the other night, and she did not want any Pepto. If you are adopting from Haiti you should probably be aware that your children may have more gastro-intestinal issues than other kids. Ava has them but they tend to be mild. Elle only has them when she eats too much. Their systems just aren't used to that much food.

I digress. Ava's belly hurt, but it was not crippling and she went to sleep. She complained about it in the morning again yesterday, on her right side, but I sent her to school anyway because it was not debilitating and hard to discern if it was serious. I was thinking---appendix?---but I knew the pain was in the wrong place. I got the phone call after I'd been at work about an hour. The school nurse had Ava in the clinic and she could not go back to class. By the time I got there, the pediatrician had closed for lunch so we just hung out at home. She was in good spirits and the pain pretty much was gone or was low grade, but I called the doctor's office anyway and they said to bring her right in. She also had a low-grade sore throat.

The good news is she has gained 4 pounds in less than 2 months. About 7 since she has been home. She is a very picky eater and is fully capable of going on an involuntary hunger strike when she gets upset, so I was happy about this. The bad news is he diagnosed her with H1N1.

He told me it was rampant right now but not severe, just give her the treatment and she would be fine. In all, she was/is not acting very sick. It seems to come and go. I'm keeping her home today to give her 24 hours on the antibiotics, and so she will not be contagious, but otherwise she is in good shape. It did take some work to find the Tamiflu. It was hard to find a pharmacy that had it in stock.

I realize that one of the concerns is that this flu will return during the winter with a vengeance, a stronger strain. At least, according to the media. Sure, that is a concern. Even if your kid does not seem that sick, have them looked at and get it taken care of now. Use your common sense to keep them as healthy as possible. I read somewhere that it was recommended that they stay isolated 7-10 days. The doctors are NOT recommending this because that would be ridiculous. Be wary of the hype. And above all, don't panic.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Little Catch Up

First of all, I'm going to bite the bullet here and start calling the kids by their real names. It's just feeling too contrived to do the alias thing. I feel like I don't have enough time to be contrived. The whole alias thing messes up my mental flow, and God knows I sure don't need that!


When the girls first came home I called them by their Haitian names. I told them when we were in Haiti that they had American names, and I told them what they were. They seemed fairly unimpressed and I decided it would be best not to force the issue at that time. I also figured out that if they were really freaked out by a name change that I could easily live with them keeping their Haitian names as their first names. As time progressed, we would occasionally talk about it but I still did not force anything. Then I enrolled them in daycare. I enrolled them as using their Haitian names as their middle names, since that was the plan anyway. At that point I was not that attached to the whole idea anymore, but their peers started calling them by their American names and by that time they were ready for it, and they accepted it with pride and pleasure.



Ava Widmina; now just Ava


Elle Marie Lovely; most of the time just Elle now,
or Elle Marie
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Elle Marie has been complaining about a toothache off and on and before I could get her in for a check-up, the situation deteriorated suddenly, and for the worse. All of a sudden as of last Wednesday she was in terrific pain all of the time, and orajel or Tylenol did not even touch it. I got her in to see the dentist Thursday, who referred her to a pediatric dentist. The cavity was right on a nerve, and that was the problem. Who unfortunately could not see her until today. The last 5 days have been pretty hellish. It's hard to have a baby that is crying in pain almost all the time. Hard on her, hard on everybody. She was prescribed Tylenol with codeine, which seemed to have a short shelf life when it came to pain relief and ending up giving her a stomach ache plus constipation on top of it all. Let me just say last night ended with a Tylenol PM for her and an adult beverage for me. Today we went to the dentist, and I knew it was going to involve sedation, so I was able to explain that to her. After looking, the dentist decided it was going to be best to remove the baby tooth instead of trying to save it. I explained all that to her as well. They took her back and it was all over with pretty quickly. She did well, and did not cry.

Until she got in the car. Then she started mourning that tooth. She did not believe me when I told her another one was going to grow in it's place. By the time we got home home she was in a full on rage. She raged over that darn tooth for at least an hour, boy was she mad. I also tried to explain to her that she was not going to have anymore of that deep pain, but she would not listen. That dentist took something important away from her, and she was having none of it. She'd already forgotten how much pain she'd been in over the past 5 days. Sigh.

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Ava has been doing some extreme grieving over her 1st mom and her family in Haiti. It's hard to listen to and it's hard to watch but I know it's crucial for me to be there with her and I am glad that she trusts me enough to demand that I go thru it with her. Some seemingly little thing will set her off and she goes into an irrational tantrum. Then she starts screaming for her first mama over and over. Then she rages, and I mean she rages. Finally she breaks down into sadness and that is when she will finally allow me in, in fact she needs me at that point. The good news is, the whole process builds trust for her towards me. I KNOW she has to go thru it. Also, she will tell me lots of things about her life and her family before and after these episodes. There have not been too many, just a few at this point. It's really hard. And I know it's a 100X harder on her than me, which just blows my mind.

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But other than these detours, the girls are doing really well. Ava likes to cook. She has alot of natural style. She is catching up in her reading level, moving really quickly. Her latest favorite saying is "Yes Ma'm!" Elle is full of energy and extremely naturally athletic. She can be unbelievably sweet. For all they've been thru they still have their innocence. And they are a ton of fun.

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Nick and Ashley came over the other night on their way out of town. They were on their way to NYC via Raleigh and Philly. Not sure how long they will be up there, and he left a suitcase behind, but if I were a bettin' woman, I would say he'll be there for awhile. He's restless, and their is no place like New York for that. I could have lived there when I was younger, but I did not discover the place for myself until long after I became a small town girl again, so for me it's a great place to visit but I don't want to live there. However, I think he will like it. I don't expect him back for that suitcase for awhile.


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As for Lucas...well, right now he's a teenager doing teenage things. He's pretty good with his sisters, but he was ready to see his dad the night Nick and Ashley came over, so he did not stay for this love fest. I promise I will sneak up on him with the camera soon!

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