About Me

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I'm a 30-something wife and mom. My boys are my pride and joy. Together, we are navigating being a forever family post international adoption.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Easy Rhubarb Crisp

 
My Grandfathers were both master gardeners. Every summer they would each produce a bumper-crop of produce. We were never wanting for tomatoes, zucchini, beans, carrots, raspberries and on and on.
 
I have learned, in the last 9 years as a homeowner, a green thumb is not hereditary. I joke that I have, instead, a black thumb. I am excellent at killing plants, even ones that are supposed to be hardy.
 
One thing I have been successful at growing in the last couple of years is rhubarb. And boy, when I say successful I mean it. I have bags and bags of the stuff in my freezer, and more on the way.
 
One of my favorite recipes for rhubarb is this crisp. It's both easy to make and tasty. A winning combination, in my books.

SERVINGS 4

INGREDIENTS

    4 cups rhubarb, cut into 3/4 " pieces
    1 cup sugar
    1⁄4 cup flour
    1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup flour
    1 cup brown sugar
    1⁄2 cup rolled oats
    1⁄2 cup melted butter
DIRECTIONS

Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour, cinnamon and vanilla and put into 8" x 8" x 2" glass baking dish.

Combine flour, brown sugar, rolled oats and melted butter and sprinkle streusel over rhubarb mixture.


















Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.










Serve warm with ice cream.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Shoes. Or Not...

I just bought Buddy a new pair of shoes. He's gone from size 2 to a 5 since September, so it's not his first new pair this year.

He has small feet for a tween. They're the cutest little round feet I have ever seen in my life. I would eat them up, if they didn't stink to high heaven half the time.

When we adopted him almost 2 years ago he was in size 1 shoes. While in country, bought him a pair of over-sized velcro runners because they were the only thing we could find that were close to fitting him.

Once we got home, it was only slightly easier to find footwear. Most size 1 shoes are made for little kids. They not only have velcro-closures but cartoon characters and light-up soles. They aren't the kind of thing a young man wants to wear.

Before Buddy started school, we took him to a huge athletic store to get a pair of gym shoes. They had three pairs of size 1 lace-up runners and none of them appealed to him. He pointed out several pairs he liked, and I explained that because he had small feet, they weren't available in his size.

Little did we know that Buddy had often been teased in the orphanage for having small feet. They also rarely had shoes donated that fit him and he often missed out on fun things like soccer cleats.

So, we experienced our first public melt-down. And, we also didn't get any new shoes that day.

Triggers are funny things. Sometimes they are obvious, but sometimes the most random thing can set Buddy off.

Ever since, either I go shopping for Buddy's shoes alone, we order them online or go to stores that divide the shoes into sections by size. Buddy isn't nearly as sensitive about his small feet anymore, but there is no point in tempting fate.

And we make sure that when Buddy outgrows his shoes that we save them to send to one specific boy back at the orphanage who is a few years younger than Buddy and has small feet himself.

L - New shoes (with end of year friend signatures)  R - Old shoes

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Day at the Fair

Every year the fair comes to town. My parents used to take my step-sisters, brother and I when we were little and we would ride all the rides, eat mini doughnuts and come home dirty and exhausted. 

It was awesome! 

Hubby is terrified of rides, so for a long time I had no reason to go. Until last year. 

Buddy loves rides. The only ride that Hubby likes is the bumper cars, which I can't stand. But guess who loves them too: Buddy! 

Going to the fair was one of my top 10 moments of 2014. 

This past weekend, we went again. We road all the rides, ate mini doughnuts and came home dirty and exhausted. 

It was awesome!

The view from the ferris wheel
The Mega Drop
The Ring of Fire
The Swing Tower
Hubby trying his luck at the midway games
Buddy walking on water in a WOW Bubble

Monday, June 22, 2015

Choosing to be Adopted

Buddy was given a say in the matter when we adopted him, as all older children in his country are. He first verbally agreed to being adopted and then wrote out a statement indicating the same. Some children are even asked to give a statement in adoption court, although Buddy wasn't asked to do so.


After we first got home, Buddy told Hubby and I that he liked us the moment he saw us and wanted to be adopted by us. I cried.

Once we had been home close to a year, Buddy started opening up about his true feelings about being adopted. I was pretty hard to hear him say, "I never wanted to be adopted."

We have talked about it many times since. Buddy has explained that when he was living in the orphanage he didn't think he needed to be adopted. That he was perfectly fine with his life as it was. He didn't want it to change, but didn't think he actually had a choice.

Wow.

He has elaborated and said he no longer thinks everything was fine in the orphanage, but at the time he didn't know any better. He didn't know what it meant to be a part of a stable family where you get more than enough, as opposed to just enough to sustain.

I don't feel guilty for adopting Buddy in the slightest. It is clear from watching him grow and develop emotionally, intellectually and physically that he is in the right place. I watch him sleep soundly when he used to fight bedtime. I kiss his round cheeks that used to be hollow. And I wrap my arms around him and hear him exclaim, "Mama, you know what? I love you!"

I have no doubt Buddy is where he should be.

But still...

Adoption is hard. For Buddy, he lost what little control and consistency he had in his life. It was leaving the familiar for the unknown.

For him, it has worked out. The same isn't true for every kid, though.

What is the point of having a child choose to be adopted when they actually don't feel there is any other option?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Father's Day

Father's Day is Sunday. I'm not going to give you any details, just in case Hubby decides to check my blog before then.

For most of my life, Father's Day was a weird day for me.

I have a biological father and a step-father. My birth dad isn't really much of a part of my life, although he does flit in and out unpredictably. He's not a bad guy, but he is a bad dad. My step-father is my Dad, but he died in 2009 from pancreatic cancer.

Father's Day for the 4 years between my Dad's death and when we adopted Buddy were hard days. And the first Father's Day after adopting was difficult too. Our honeymoon period had ended and we were trying to navigate the difficult task of being a family when we didn't really understand what that meant.

This week, we are started a search for Buddy's biological father. Buddy told us he wants to know who his birth dad is, and so we've found someone in his home country who will hopefully be able to find that information for us.

I guess what I'm trying to say in all this is that sometimes in a non-traditional family, holidays and celebrations don't look like the perfect picture Hallmark intended them to. They can be hard and sad. And people who aren't living the same kind of life don't always understand.

So, I am going to say the same thing here as I will say to Hubby. The same thing I tell myself. And Buddy. Don't put pressure on yourself to feel how you THINK you should feel on these days. If it's hard, let it be hard. If you're sad, allow yourself to feel sad.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads* out there. I hope you have an awesome day. You deserve it!

Especially to the most important Dad in my life, my own amazing husband!

*Dad = biological, adoptive, step, foster, and Father-figures. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Baseball, Commitment and Understanding Consequences

Buddy signed up for lunchtime intramural baseball this year and things had been going fine. Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. They had a tournament that was fun. It clearly isn't Buddy's favorite sport but he also doesn't hate it.

Last week, I was sitting outside enjoying a warm, sunny evening. Buddy came out of the house to sit with me and we were chatting about our days. I asked Buddy if there was still baseball or if it was done for the year.

"They're still playing, but not me. I missed a game and Mr. Black told me I couldn't come back."

Great.

We talked about it a bit, and the story according to Buddy was he forgot he had baseball and was playing with his friends over the lunch hour. He didn't notice the game going on until it was almost over. When he went to the field, he was told by his teacher he was off the team for missing.

This story sound like it doesn't add up to anyone else? Because it sure didn't sound like the whole truth to me.

At the same time, I was worried that Buddy was kicked off the team permanently. Regardless of what he had done, I questioned the appropriateness of the consequence for a kid with abandonment issues.

I asked Buddy how it made him feel to be told he couldn't play any more. He said it made him feel nothing, then got up and walked to the other side of our yard. I said that if it was me, I would probably have felt embarrassed. That I don't like to be wrong and when people point out when I am I don't like it, especially if other people are around. He nodded and we left it at that.

Hubby contacted the school and had a conversation with Mr. Black the next day. His story was a little different and more believable. Buddy didn't want to stay around the diamond at lunch time and chose not to play baseball that day.  Mr. Black said he generally doesn't punish kids for missing a game, but the difference was that Buddy "was right there and chose not to play."  He made a commitment to the team which he didn't honor and commitments are important, so Mr. Black gave Buddy a one-game suspension.  He was welcome to come back and play the next game after that.

Hubby told Mr. Black that Buddy didn't seem to understand the reason why couldn't play baseball, other than that he simply missed the game. Buddy didn't get the lesson Mr. Black was trying to teach. Hubby reminded Mr. Black that when bad things happen, Buddy withdraws and avoids focusing on the event and that we've found it's important to be really clear about what consequences are imposed and why.

Mr. Black wasn't defensive, he said he would follow up with Buddy. He thought Buddy understood but realized he clearly must not have.  We were all on the same page.

So, after his one-game suspension, Buddy returned for the final game. They may have lost in the playoffs, but I hope Buddy gained more than just a title from his time on the team.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Best Mom

Last week, I was reading to Buddy before bed. He wrapped his arms around my neck and put his head on my chest and said:

"You're my first Mom, right?"

"I'm not your first Mom, Mama Anne is. But I am your forever Mom."

"Well, you're my best Mom."

"It isn't a competition, having you in my life is all I need. You don't need to pick one Mom over the other."

This is the message I give Buddy consistently. After we first adopted, I struggled to understand how Mama Anne and I fit in to the big picture of Buddy's life.
But it isn't really up to me. It's for Buddy to decide how he feels about us. And whatever he decides is perfectly fine.

"How ever you feel about me and about Mama Anne is good. And that was a very nice thing to say, thank you very much. You are my best son. I love you so much."

"I love you, too. Can you read to the end of the chapter?"

And so I did.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Why You Should Know CPR

Yesterday I spent 8 hours in class - first-aid class, that is.

Ever since university I've been a certified first-aider. To maintain my certificate, I take a refresher class every three year. It requires a day spent watching videos, listening to lectures and doing practical work on both fellow students and dummies. And a multiple choice test at the end of it all.



I started doing first-aid training because it was required by my faculty, then because it looked good on a resume, and finally to maintain professional expanded-scope certification. But most recently, I've wanted to have it for an even more important reason.

Buddy.

I think every parent should be certified in first-aid.

In the course of the 8 hour class, we learned CPR, abdominal compressions (aka the Heimlich maneuver), how to clean and dress a wound, stop a severe bleeding, and treat burns, anaphylaxis and shock.

I'm not an expert in first aid by any means. But the course makes me feel more confident that I can deal with emergency situations. Now that I'm a Mom, it's that much more important to me.

The chance that I will ever need to use CPR is pretty slim. But the thing with CPR (and other first-aid skills) is that if I do need ever them, it may very well be because someone I love is in distress.

That's definitely worth 8 hours of my time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Two Steps Forward...

A few weeks ago we had a significant breach of a clearly established internet safety rule. This was followed by a conversation about why we have rules (to keep us safe) and a consequence of no electronics for one week.

Buddy was unhappy and there was some quiet pouting, but generally it went over well. There was no dysregulation, self-harm or property destruction like in the past.

I was pleasantly surprised.

I should have known better.

Within about an hour Buddy went from quiet to sullen to withdrawn. He wouldn't verbally acknowledge me, although he would nod or shrug to a direct question. At the same time, he was doing little things that he knows push my buttons to get a reaction.

Buddy had soccer that same night, which I thought would be a good opportunity for us to get some space from each other. Besides, it was Hubby's turn to be "flag Dad" and I wasn't really looking forward to sitting by myself anyways.

Hubby packed Buddy up into the car to drive to the soccer pitch. Buddy was doing warm-up drills and then next thing Hubby knew he was gone. A few minutes later, Buddy came running up to Hubby, smiling, and cheerfully exclaimed, "I just puked!"

Ok...

Hubby decided it wasn't a good night for soccer. Once they got home, Buddy seemed upbeat, but of course that can mean a lot more than it seems. At his request, I ran him a bath, and sat with him reading from Calvin and Hobbs, one of his favorites.

After the bath, Buddy put on his PJs and asked me to stay with him in his room. We laid side by side for 30 minutes quietly reading. By the time I was ready for bed myself, he was already asleep.

The next morning, I had an early meeting and didn't bother waking Buddy until I absolutely needed to. He was obviously still not feeling well, and was complaining of dizziness and generally feeling sick. I let him decide if he was up to going to school and after much deliberation and soliciting my advice, he decided to stay home.

After my meeting, I called home to check on him and offered to bring him something to eat. He said he was starting to get hungry, so I picked him up a breakfast sandwich and smoothie (and a coffee for me!) and headed home. After sleeping away the morning and having  a bite to eat, he wanted to go to school.

Buddy has come so far when it comes to processing emotions. But two steps forward, one step back. I am glad that Hubby and I are getting better at understanding the meaning behind the behavior and understanding Buddy's unique way for dealing with anger, unhappiness and stress.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Who the Heck is Garri Potter?

Buddy is a really witty, funny, sarcastic kid. He is my son, after all.

When we first met Buddy at the orphanage, he was pretty quiet and reserved. This was generally the case when we were around other people, especially adults. But as soon as we were alone, his exhuberant personality would shine through.

By the time our adoption was complete and we were ready to go home, we had known each other for nearly two month. While we still had a long way to go, we were pretty comfortable and bonded over joking around and teasing each other.

I remember walking down a congested sidewalk in the middle of the day on our way to pick up Buddy's travel visa a few days before we went home. It was so crowded we couldn't all walk together. Hubby was in front and Buddy and I were following behind him, hand in hand.

As we walked, we passed a poster for a Harry Potter movie. I pointed it out and asked Buddy if he had seen the movies. He looked at me like I was crazy and corrected me that it was not Harry. The famous wizard, in fact, went by the name Garri.

Who the heck is Garri Potter?

I corrected him. No his name isn't Garri. That may the translation, but he is British and named Harry.

I'll save you the back and forth of the next 10 minutes, but it basically went like this: "Garri!" "Not Garri, HARRY!" "NO Harry, GARRI!"...

Eventually Hubby turned around, rolled his eyes, laughed, and asked us to keep it down. I looked around the busy street and realized that we were basically yelling at each other and laughing like maniacs. And in a country known for it stoicism, we were sticking out like a couple of sore thumbs.

When we were in Universal at Harry Potter Land, I remembered this. And Buddy did, too, because he looked up at me as we were walking, holding hands, laughed and said "No Harry, GARRI!"

Spasiba, Garri Potter, for giving me my first inside joke with Buddy.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Everything is an Argument

But I'm only... Just one more... First can I... You never said... As soon as I...

In a minute...
Lately, Hubby and I have been dealing with something that seems to be pretty common in parenting: argumentativeness.

Of course, there is the extra layer with Buddy.

Honestly guys, it's really annoying.

I try hard to be a Connected Parent who says "yes" more than "no" and searches for the meaning behind the behavior. I understand the reason for boundary testing and the importance of providing a safe environment.

But sometimes I just want to shout "Just do as I say and stop arguing."

Not that I ever have...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Day at the Farm

Last weekend, Hubby, Buddy and I were lucky enough to have been invited to spend the day at a friend's farm along with several other adoptive families.

I grew up in a rural, isolated mining town. I had been to a farm a grand total of once prior to this weekend. I was pretty excited to spend the day with not only some great people, but also a bunch of cows.

Getting the lay of the land
The boys found a bird's nest
Target Practice
My goal was a cow-selfie - success!
I don't think the cows were as excited as I was...
A close en-cow-nter
Walking through the field

Just an afternoon out in the country solidified for me that I'm a true city girl (there was poo everywhere!). But I'm so happy we had the chance to go and experience a day at the farm.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Being Brave - One Millennial's Perspective

Normally, I couldn't really care less about what people post on Facebook. I generally scroll through quotes, quizzes and questionnaires without more than a cursory glance to see if they relate to me. If not, I just keep on scrollin'.

This quote did catch my attention, but not in a good way.

 

I'm pretty proud of my Millennial status. We are a generation of innovators. We have a strong sense of global community. We don't just break the rules, we are changing the game.

It's quotes like this that give us Millenials a bad name. Or rather bad names, like narcissistic, entitled, self-serving. This quote is the reason why those who came before us think that we're spoiled brats.

So, please allow me to indulge myself and re-write the above quote.



To my fellow Millenials, let me say this. Being brave isn't about doing what you have to do to make yourself happy. It's doing what you have to do to make the people who count on you happy. Your happiness will follow, trust me.

That's just my opinion, though. Take it for what you will.