Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Three Months Home

At the 3 month mark, I thought I would have all kinds of profound words of wisdom. I do not; my brain is mush, my back hurts, and I should be getting ready to go to work right now! Life is very busy for us. It can also be very unpredictable. I will begin to think things are really going great, every thing is on track, then I get some random surprise out of left field. In other words, life is very life-like lately.

And I would not have it any other way!

We have the joy and the pain. We experience the agony and the ecstasy. We take the bitter with the sweet. And above all else, we keep our eye on the ball. Don't lose sight of the goal posts! Yes, we might move the goal posts, and the goal may change daily, but big or small we do our best to keep it all in our sights.

I would like to say we are super-duper organized, no one ever loses their composure, and every single problem is reasoned out with collaboration by all, but of course that would be a lie. I recently watched 'Cheaper by the Dozen' on TV. I had never seen it before, but I laughed my @ss off. Because even tho it's goofy, there is such an element of truth to it. And I only have 1/4 of the kids! Most of my peers do not have unruly families: I do. Their lives are organized to the nth degree, even to the future. Mine is not. That said, I would not have it any other way!

So, here are some things that have happened lately.

The explosion of language continues. Almost all conversation, including bickering, occurs in English. I sometimes have a difficult time with the accent, but they learned along time ago to panomine for me.

Mostly they move forward with lightning speed, but sometimes regression happens. When I see my 9 year old with her thumb in her mouth and she was already out of sorts to begin with, I know we are in for some rough waters. She was really having a rough time a week or so ago. Meltdowns everyday. Long ones and lots of grieving, which is hard. Hard for her because it's painful, hard for me because there is nothing much I can do to alleviate the pain except be there. Sometimes all this is accompanied by rebellion and acting out, and I can only think that she is testing me to see if I will still be her mom when it's over with. I will, and I am.

My Princess has mostly just acted like a 3 year old when she regresses, and that can be frustrating. She confirmed my feeling that she will sometimes do something negative/destructive just to get attention if she thinks things are not going her way. The last few days though her grieving has just taken a different route. She has been quiet and sad. That is actually harder for me to take; I want my Pistolero back! Finally it came out. She said:

"I want you to take me to see my first Mama"

While I realize they think about these things everyday, it shocked me to hear her say that, it's something I would expect her sister to say. When I have talked about their Haitian mama that is what I have called her...their Haitian mama, or their mom in Haiti. But she said her 'first mama'; this is language she is familiar with, so this must be how it's been explained to her. I said:

"Do you miss your first mama?" a rhetorical question of course, but I did want her to verbalize her feelings.


"Honey, that is totally normal. Of course you miss her"

Her sister chimed in at that point and was actually trying to divert her pain and the subject moved on. My mind was racing, because I was not sure how to tell her that I could not take her to see her first Mama. Since the question was never answered, I'm sure it will come up again. And the answer is, I don't know. Not anytime soon. I don't want to tell her maybe in ten years, or when she turns 18. I'm still not sure what I'm going to tell her. I think sometimes that is what the agony of her older sister's grief is about. She knows this is permanent, where as my little one has not quite grasped that.
I love having conversations with the girls. Pistolero is more babyish, but Miss Lady tells me alot of things about life in Haiti, life at the creche, life at home. You probably have not met too many 9 year olds that have witnessed not only one live birth, but two! (Mama and Sister) An older brother has a horse. Papa taught them how to whistle. They actually are not very interested in talking about Haiti and from what I've heard from other parents, that seems to be common. But I do keep the door open, so sometimes they just tell me these things.
School starts next week and we are getting ready for that. I'm talking next week off (yay!). And my oldest son is flying home on August 12. Not sure how long he's hanging around, but I can't wait to see him! And the girls can't wait to meet him!

Picture Album---At The Park
Celebrating 3 months at home....

A catapiller @ the community garden

Walking the trail....

to the shoals...where we met this pretty dog!

And back home again...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Car Show

Yesterday coming home after church, we noticed signs for a car show. In our neighborhood. Which is kind of strange, because we don't live in a neighborhood conducive to that kind of thing. It's a sleepy little town with the train track running thru it, and 4 churches within 3 blocks. But...that was the deal. One of the churches was doing a benefit, and that is what the car show was about. So...they had all these antique cars parked on the grounds, a stone's throw from our house. After lunch we walked up there to check it out.

You know I love tractors!

Plenty of really old cars and trucks like this one.

But I'm a sucker for muscle cars. I could not decide between the Chevy or the Dodge...expensive hobby, I know. And not on the top of my list right now!

The girls, of course, could have cared less about the cars. They just wanted to play!

Friday, July 17, 2009


I found out yesterday the kids are having a little talent show at their school, and Little Miss Lady has been teaching her friends a Haitian song to sing for it.

Some of the kids were finding it difficult to learn, never having been exposed to another language. Miss Valerie was going on and on yesterday about how far the girl's English has progressed and how amazed she is at their ability. She kept telling the other kids "see, it's not so easy to speak another language, now is it!"

I was just glad to get this on video before they forget this stuff! And yes, that is Princess Pistolero in the background "let me see". If it's going on, she wants to be in the middle of it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

What $3.50 And 75 Days Can Do

Bag of 25 balloons: $1.50

Doggie Dress: $1.00

Doggie T-Shirt: $1.00

(clearance @ Wal-Mart)

Peace & Love with Doggies: PRICELESS!

The photo shoot and the lay-out were the creation of Little Miss Lady. I was just the photographer following directions! We noticed afterwards that her dress almost matched Sydney's perfectly LOL

The final shot. They realized that dogs don't always cooperate when it comes to photography.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Attention Deficit

This is not a post about learning disabilities. This is a post about post-institutional behavior.
And when adopting, most of us face at least some of it.

The title for today's post could have also been hypochondria. Because that is how lack of attention and perceived lack of attention is currently manifesting itself, especially for Miss Lady.

In a way, this is a hard one for me because as I have written before, I am the anti-hypochondriac. But it was not always that way. When I was a little girl, about the same age as Miss Lady, I was an internal hypochondriac. I had an on-going fantasy life that involved me getting sick and being in the hospital and having everyone come to visit me and feeling really bad about not paying enough attention to me. In my fantasy it all ended well with me completely recovering from whatever ailment and my family and friends put in their place and never taking me for granted again. All I can figure is that 1.) I had a middle sister who was a complete drama queen and had to have center stage at all times, and 2.) being the oldest I was physically and emotionally responsible for all the children (lots of them) much of the time.

I see so much of myself in my little girl. And did I mention that adopting/having children brings up alot of old issues??? (It's normal, I found out. And it's OK.)

She does not do the fantasy thing so much as she tries acting it out in reality. Yesterday she got a scraped knee at daycare. Actually two scrapes. Since band-aids usually cure everything, she got two, plus some antiseptic, and was sent on her way. So when I arrived to pick her up, she was sprawled out in the corner of the room, upset, and when she saw me, she started crying for good measure. Miss Valerie said " I don't know what is wrong with her" as she held my arm and limped out the door. But I did. I knew what was wrong.

I'm not sure how kids at home in Haiti are treated when they are sick, but I'm pretty sure it's not medically. There just is not enough of it. If they have a good mama (and mine did) does she fawn over and make a big deal, since that is all she can do? Or does she tell them it's going to be OK and send them on their way, since there are much bigger deals going on daily such as how to eat? I do know that when kids got ill at the orphanage, they got some medical treatment and also some special treatment, which is wonderful. Getting that kind of attention must have felt like hitting the jackpot.

Miss Lady has a little (middle) sister that has her own attention issues. She may not be quite as dramatic as my sister was, but she is close. So when we got home yesterday, the issue over the knee subsided until bedtime. I put on new antiseptic and two new band-aids and we went to bed. I was really exhausted after a busy week-end and going back to work. Miss Lady decided it time to start wailing about her knee hurting. I propped her knee for her, and then Princess P decided to get in on the wailing action too. Usually they are good about falling asleep, but not so this time. After talking, soothing, and doing everything I could think of to ease them and NOT lose my mind, I did something I had not done before. I got up and walked out.

I knew that was not going to make them feel better but I had to get some distance or I was going to lose my patience. After about 10 minutes the wailing turned to full on hysteria, and by that time I had regained myself. I went back in their room and turned the light on. I told them I would not stay in their room if they kept up their wailing, but I would stay if they stopped. Princess stopped immediately. I turned out the light and crawled into bed with them. Miss Lady whimpered a bit longer, including telling me over and over "it hurt". My empathy capacity had returned in my 10 minute hiatus, and I was able to tell her I knew it hurt and I was sorry about that. (And also if you go to sleep you won't notice it...) And she did fall asleep shortly.

I'm not saying this is the right way to do it. Everyone has to find their own way and all kids and most circumstances are different. As much as I hate the fact that these kids have a seemingly infinite/abnormal (which makes sense considering circumstances) need for attention, trying to constantly appease that is not practical for real life, nor is it even possible. Because the pit can become bottomless. That is human nature. The immature human yearns for unending adulation/love. An untreated bottomless pit can lead to addiction and other destructive behaviors.

I find that somehow I have to distinguish the fine line between nurturing and enabling and it's not always easy. It's hard to see kids hurting. Sometimes it's hard to know if/when they are manipulating. When I look at it thru their eyes (and as a child, not an adult) the way becomes more clear. I also find it helpful to blog about this stuff because there is not alot of support out there in the 'real' world. Most people just don't 'get it' because most people do not have a realistic experience with adopted children. And yes, it's a different experience than bio-kids.

At any rate, while some of this is trying, it's also very rewarding and I would not trade this experience for anything. The girls are so funny. On Sunday night Princess looked over at Miss Lady and said "Hey! No crying today!" She meant that neither of them had a meltdown and it was a real accomplishment.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Fourth of July

My friend over at Casa de King has a post that mirrors my mind-set about being an American, as well as having these kids home at last. And I was so grateful to be able to celebrate this holiday with them. I remember last year LG was not here either, and I pretty much did nothing. Unfortunately I was content with that. One thing I know for sure, these girls are going to keep me young! Doing nothing IS NOT AN OPTION!

Here's one of the main things I did today, of course. At the end (of many hours) I finally figured out that a 1 & 1/4 inch box is the perfect size for the perfect braid for these little beads. At least on this little girl's head. She is old enough to pick what she wants done and sometimes is very set on it. Like yesterday. I groaned when I saw she had collected all these little pony beads. But, oh well. She has beautiful hair BTW.

While doing hair, I had a Boston Butt in the crock, making the Best BBQ Evah! The girls liked it. They thought it was chicken. I have learned that for the time being to call all meat chicken so they will eat it. If I try to explain that it's beef or pork or turkey, they say "Me no like it!" after one little bite. So when they ask if it's chicken, I just nod. For now. It works and they eat it.

I knew I would never get them up and ready in time for a parade, but we did make it to the local fireworks show. Somebody is getting excited about that!

A short time later she is pouting a little bit about something. I know she will forget all about it as soon as the show starts.

And these two, goofing off. As they should.

Then we came home and lit off a small box of our own pyro-technics. The girls fell into bed exhausted at 11pm, (me too) it was way past their bed-time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July Bullet Points

*I have been trying to teach the girls a little bit about the July 4th holiday. It is a difficult concept for young minds to grasp. I bought them little star spangled outfits and let them wear them to daycare today. Then one of the kid's mom came with cupcakes decorated red/white/blue and they all sang 'happy birthday 4th of July' so they are starting to get the idea. I can't wait to see them watch fireworks for the first time!

*They have 'American' names that blend with their Haitian names. Their Haitian names now serve as their middle names. I eased into this transition. In the beginning I did not know if we would get there or not, everything was so overwhelming to them, this was just one more thing. But at daycare, their American names are used and they like that. We sometimes fall back to their Haitian names at home out of comfort and habit, but mostly we just use the new names and everyone is comfortable with that. Except Miss Lady told Princess that she had to call her by her Haitian name, she was not allowed to call her A_ _ at home. Not sure what that is all about, and it does not matter because that lasted for one day, and Princess is back to calling her A _ _ just like they do at school.

*I hope I'm not scaring people when I write about some of the behavioral issues that are going on with the girls especially now that they are getting more comfortable at home. It's annoying, but it's all manageable. Yesterday Little Miss Lady wanted to do a less bratty, but still pouty version of getting ready for school. I think this is how God keeps me close to Him because it's always at this point I literally pray for patience. (And it helps, alot) When we got to the teeth brushing point tho, and she was trying to drag her heels, and I took her toothbrush away from her and told her cheerfully that I was going to brush her teeth for her (again) she shaped up, grabbed the tooth brush back from me and said she would do it herself. She was mad and she cried, but she got it done and that was the end of it.

*Every afternoon when I go to pick them up, Princess Pistolero is filthy from rolling around on the play ground, and Miss Lady has a bunch of drawing/letterings she has done and wants to bring home. All this week she has had some version of everybody she loves. Today, it was just "I love UUUUU" over and over again. The other day (and this is not unusual) she named everyone in the family, including 'Papa'. That would be my ex-husband. They are totally enthralled with him. Having once felt the same, I'm unsure of how to handle this, so I just let them be enthralled with him and he enjoys it. They know we're not married anymore, and I guess they know he has another wife and 2 little girls, whom they conveniently ignore whenever we are over there picking up LG. I'll keep you posted on how this all plays out. They have not called him Papa to his face yet but I know it's coming....

*They love "Telenovelas" (Mexican soap operas) almost as much as they love cartoons. When they get tired of cartoons, this is what they naturally gravitate towards. I notice that culturally, these soaps reflect more of what they are accustomed to. They definitely gravitate towards that Latin American feel. That's just what we need, to be speaking 3 languages in this house, as if we don't have enough already going on! My favorite is "Guarded By An Angel". At least, I'm pretty sure that is the English translation. See, it's not hard to get sucked into these things.

That's it for now. Hopefully I will have some fun holiday photos in a few days!

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