Monday, September 5, 2011

An Unfamiliar Road

This week, there is a 14 year old boy who is dying. He is the son of some good friends of ours. For the past 4 years, we have read about his situation on a Caring Bridge site. He has been tumor free on some occasions and nearly hopelessly sick on others. This week he took a turn for the worse. Friends were starting to gather at the house. On Saturday night we read, "We don't think he'll make it through the night." I was combing Lizzie's hair into ridiculous little puffy balls. We were all sort of settling in. We'd laid out Sunday morning's outfits and prepared Sunday morning's breakfast.We read the update. Emma and I decided it was time to drive to Burnsville.

Our friends' livingroom was full of people. The kitchen island was full of mostly untouched snacks. There was a hospital bed for Victor up against the wall. And what do you do in this situation? Turns out, you sing every single song you know about Jesus. A couple of them you sing twice either because they are Victor's favorites or because you've run out of ideas. You cry a lot but also laugh some. Then he gets tired after 2 hours and you drive back home.

It's Monday and he's still alive, but the latest update said his lips are turning blue.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. --Romans 8:38-39

Saturday, September 3, 2011

More and Less

In the spirit of homeschooling preschoolers, I checked out a homeschool book from the library. I was curious to find out, just what are 4 year olds supposed to know?

One concept is more and less. Lizzie has that one totally down. She always has less. It doesn't matter what's in the cup or on the plate or in the bowl. It's less. Than anyone else.

I learned this one day at Starbucks. Zeke and Liz were splitting the rest of someone's drink. I poured some into her cup, the rest into Zeke's. "Look how much Zeke has," she commented dryly.

"Liz, you have more than he does. Look." I showed her the two cups side by side. "Who has more?"

"Zeke does."

"Liz, THIS is your cup," pointing to the one with more. "Who has more?"


So, the next day, we did lots of more and less. I let Liz control the amounts even though I told her who should get more and who should get less. Then, I had my most brilliant idea. I'd talk about how much we loved her and Zeke using cups of water. I started out showing her, "This is how much we love Zeke." I filled the glass to the very tippy top. She smiled. "And this is how much we love Liz." I started filling the glass. And just then, (all adoption experts are holding their breath,) I ran out of water. Yes, halfway to the top, my cup ranneth dry. I leaped to the sink to put more water in my measuring cup. I didn't even look at Liz, just filled her cup to the top and then let the water spill over the top.

She smiled at me. But it was the sort of smile that said, "Yea, that was a great lesson, Mom. Now my neurosis is permanent."

We'll keep trying.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dear Friend in My Hallway

I have filled out financial disclosure forms that have asked about our assets. After I list our house and our car, I run out of things to say. On one form recently, I listed this: our espresso machine.

It was $7.00 on Ebay. It came with no tray to steady the glass container so Eli built a Lego platform for it. It has made hundreds of espressos, lattes and just plain awesome cups of coffee. While it has performed well beyond its $7.00 price tag, it has been sending pressurized steam through the on/off switch for a good two months. The switch got crunchy sounding. The machine wouldn't turn on. The machine wouldn't turn off. The final blow: the machine wouldn't make coffee.

We run out of milk. We run out of bread. We run out of peanut butter and ice cream and cheese and fresh fruit and yogurt and syrup and pancake mix and cereal and even ideas for meals. However, I have not actually run out of espresso machines. I have 3 more from the same maker just for occasions like this.

When The Older Siblings Are Away

My parents graciously took Emma (17) and Eli (13) to Ames, Iowa to tour Iowa State University. Next year at this time, Emma will actually be going to some university, Lord willing, we just don't know where quite yet.

Gracie was never planning to go to Iowa since she just got home from a camp. Levi was planning to go until we were able to talk him out of the 4.5 hour car ride, the campus tour and the multiple interviews with admissions staff and professors. He would have gone; we were just afraid he and then everyone else, would have been sort of miserable.

Joel took over the Rescue Of Levi Mission. Something for which I am very, very grateful. Not because I could not have thought of anything to do with him, but because I could have thought for millions and millions of years about what to do and would have still not come up with this:

This is the far right corner of the box of Levi's new BB gun. A Remington Pump Action BB Gun. A Remington Pump Action BB Gun that has completely ignored all of us mothers all over the world who have allowed a son to own a BB gun with the strict, nonbending, unbreakable rule that no live thing will ever be shot with it.

Levi seems more manly already. No dead squirrels are in our yard. And maybe my friend with a "Bat Emergency" would give him his first job, if she didn't care about her roof or siding.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Who Would Have Known?

I can, for some reason, spend quite a lot of time in Target. I do not feel the same way about Walmart. But yesterday, a new and fascinating shopping experience came my way: Walgreens.

Who knew they had organic face wash, body lotion and acne scrub? 2 of them were marked down from $9.99 to $2.59. I bought them both.

I went in to find throat spray for Emma but my experience was so much more: Barbies and my favorite candy for $1.69 (licorice all-sorts) and school folders and suntan lotion and a line of beauty products which seem to be made of mostly fruit and beef sticks and pop and passport photos and greeting cards and swim goggles and fake Crocs for toddlers and baby supplies and lawn chairs. All of this was in a space Target uses for just their pharmacy.

Not saying I'm a Walgreens convert. Just saying it was refreshing. It was manageable. It had throat lozenges. And maybe even my newly moisturized hands smell sort of organic. In a good way.

July 4th Do's and Don'ts

I learned something new while celebrating the Fourth of July: there are definite do's and don'ts and some of them I didn't know until I did them.

If you have 7 kids and two of them are orphans and one of them remembers being an orphan, this may apply:

Run a race with your 9 year old. Only do the 2 mile because you might have to run back to your car when the race is done. Only do the 9 year old because the rest of the kids will beat you. (did this)

Think you can run it with a stroller. It's just not the time nor the place to subject your child to a bouncy ride down a busy road. (didn't do this, but thought about it)

Cheer for your son as he finishes. (did this)

Cheer at your son as he finishes, particularly with these words: "I will NOT let you walk across that finish line. Everyone else RAN across. You will too." When veiled threats didn't work, offering next to finish with him didn't seem all that inspiring either. (watched someone do this)

Dress your little ones in red, white and blue even though patriotism and bad taste can be next door neighbors.

Dress your whole family in red, white and blue. The Fourth of July isn't all about dignity but there's no need to leave it out completely.

Try to watch a parade if you're in the shade. (didn't do the shade part)

Make your 4 year old, who was an orphan 1 1/2 years ago, compete for candy with 9 year olds. (did this)

Make everyone stay up late to watch the fireworks, particularly if they are set to music, particularly if the song, "Proud to be an American" is played which somehow rouses patriotism in everyone even if the government is shut down.

So my Fourth of July 2012 resolutions:
1. Run
2. Encourage
3. Shade
4. Buy our own candy and throw it straight at Lizzie where there is no one else to grab it.
5. Dress everyone 5 and under in red, white and blue
6. Watch the fireworks.

Happy July, everyone.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trying to Be Attuned

Adoptive parents often have these little insights that give a window to their child's former life. I never have. Until today. Maybe.

Well, to be fair, I did have the Watch My Daughter Run in Her Flip Flops Moment. I felt that I had been transported to an Ethiopian dirt road and was watching my daughter run. That was in contrast to watching my white son, accustomed only to velcro sandals, trip and cry in his quest to keep up with his sister while running in his new flip flops.

Today, Liz and I were draping wet clothes over chairs. I had just pulled out my awesome clothes line but I can't find my clothes pins. For now, patio furniture will have to do.

When we were done, Liz turned to her ice cream pail full of water and began stirring it with a stick. "Mom! I FINALLY have some food for my sheep." I stopped. It was almost as if her sheep have been waiting for this bucket of food for as long as she's been here. "How many sheep do you have?" I asked.

"Only five," she answered, holding up three fingers.

"Who helps you take care of them?" I asked next, hoping for any insight to the family of 10 she once knew as her own.

"Just me," she sighed, and stirred again.

Then I was out of questions. Adoptive parents who are also authors would, by this time, know all about her extended family, their occupations and all of the particularly meaningful and cultural traditions that defined their child's life. By that night, they would be ready to replicate them.
I, in contrast, was reminded of the long path toward number mastery that Liz and I seem to have.

We came inside and read books about finding a birthday cake, a pea that doesn't want to eat candy and how to mix primary colors. Perhaps I'll just have to keep ice cream buckets and sticks lying around the house. Who knows. If her former family lived on a coffee farm, I'm all over that tradition. Twice a day.