Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer...the whole enchilada

Summer: The whole enchilada….

In a few short hours my kids will turn in for bed. Tomorrow they go back to school but right now it is still summer vacation. 
It absolutely FLEW by.  
We welcomed the sunshine with Skyler’s 11th birthday.

(Doritos on the burger...only the cool kids do it)

The first couple of weeks were a mix of late mornings, pool time and Sky’s All Stars team.

And this 4th of July the deep ache within my bones was silenced with a family trip to Ludington. 

I could write pages and pages about this. 
That smell--I already miss it. If you could smell the color green you’d smell Ludington. The perfect beach town nestled on  the shores of Lake Michigan and keeper of my greatest childhood memories. It is the pure essence of summer—the perfect concoction of meadow, firework smoke, ice cream, lake water, wine, starry skies, the buzzing of mosquitos and sun kissed shoulders all wrapped up in a warm summer's night.

(sand tunnels)


A few short days after we returned from our trip we celebrated Adoption Day.  It was in true Vegas fashion.  A quick stop in a Vegas court room where the five of us raised our right hand and promised forever  to one another.  Then we hit the strip to celebrate.

Next, we took a quick trip to visit my sister. Where cousins shared stories in the backseat and more summer memories where made. 

Then back to late mornings, swimming and playing at the park. Rinse. Repeat. 
Now we enjoy one last swim and BBQ dinner on the porch to wring out the last drop of summer and greet summer's end.

And tonight as I crawl into bed and give Jason a smile and let out a sigh it will need no translation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Last week

Last week started off amazing but at this point is almost a blur.


I received the My Special Mom Award at a Mother’s Day event.  My kids stepped onto the stage and into the light. They embraced their story and I am so proud of them for that.  A few short months ago Josh was so uncomfortable with being in foster care that he would tell his friends that we were his step parents.  When asked which was his real parent he would reply that we were both his step parents.  We’ve come a long way. 

Here is a bit of our moment:


Jason and I got into the Strangest. Fight. Ever.  It was over nothing.  We exchanged some words.  He stormed off into the bedroom.  I looked around for an excuse to go into the bedroom.  I pretended to change out my purse.  I could tell he was watching me so I laughed.  And then he laughed.  End of fight.


 Our local radio station played a part of my mother’s day speech on the radio-holy cow!

Later that night we found out that the kids’ biological family reached out to Josh through Facebook, again.


After no sleep I met with the kids’ therapeutic team who suggested we allow contact with the biological family.  Terrified.


 Zero sleep. Skyler officially has all As and Bs, Orthopedic appointment proves that Josh needs Surgery. A trip to the Vet, my sweet Pepe is getting old.


Well, Thursday was a long day:

I use to worry that because I didn’t birth my kids I wouldn’t have motherly instincts and if I did they’d somehow be mediocre.   But then an incident occurs and I left face to face with one of my children and they are expecting me to say the right words and rise to the given occasion.  I know there have been times when I’ve let them down.  Times when I’ve spent the entire night tossing and turning wishing that I’d handled it differently.  Or said more or said less.  But life continues to throw us curve balls and makes way for a “do over”. 

I got my do over.  A note from a friend just about broke Kyla’s heart (and mine too).  I knew we would have to deal with this at some point or another but I hadn’t had time to prepare myself for it. 

I knew something was wrong with her right away.  She sat at the kitchen table and with a quivering mouth told me about her day. 

One of Kyla’s good friends, one whom she shared her whole life story with, didn’t invite Kyla to her birthday party.  The explanation was given in a note. It included your typical he said she said 6th grade drama. I so wish it would have stopped there.

But towards the bottom, there it was in written in purple ink…

PS at least my mom wanted me

Damn it.  Now, the first thoughts that ran through my mind were not kind and little immature.  I wanted to find her friend and tell her she was never welcomed in my home again.  I wanted to tell her what hateful person she was but then I met Kyla’s eyes…she was barely hanging on and waiting for me to make this better. 

And somehow, I knew exactly what to do.  I bent down beside her, cuffed her face in my hands and I told her I want you.  I want you Kyla.  I want you.  I want you.  She dropped to her knees and we sat on the kitchen floor and I hugged her as she sobbed into my shoulder.  Before I knew it Josh was on the floor hugging us too.  And before long my baby girl was soothed.

Later that night we initiated contact with the biological family.  I’m still scared.


Barely any sleep but we managed to run the kids’ to a birthday party, get groceries and called it an early night.


One baseball game, two trips to friend’s houses and a birthday party.  Which left Jason and I home alone on a Saturday evening or the first time in a very long 16 months.  We sipped champagne and tried to catch our breath.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

                        A few months ago….it was the one year anniversary of Gotcha Day

I use to work for a community outreach program that promoted environmental wellness.  At the end of each year I was tasked with putting on a banquet not only as a means of thanking our volunteers and staff but to also reflect on the year’s success.  I would spend hours collecting data which included things such as how many hours were donated to our cause, the amount of trash removed around our community, and how many miles of trail were restored in our National Park Areas.  The compiled data would be presented at the end of the banquet and our organization would relish in another successful year.

As we near the end of our first year with the kids I can’t help but find myself trying to measure our success. So much progress has been made.  Social skills have enhanced.  My shy kids who were once glued to each other in new settings are now the first to run and make new friends and have also proven to be a little more social in class then expected.  The real biggie is all of the academic progress that has been accomplished.  Josh knows that if he applies himself he is capable of getting As and Bs.  Kyla, well- this girl is going places.  Sky probably had the furthest to go.  He was so behind— a year ago he didn’t know an even number from an odd was or any of his multiplication facts.  He struggled in class and was a disruption.  Homework time was horrible and tested my patience on a daily basis.  He didn’t understand the material and he fought me every step of the way. Today, Sky is an A and B student and homework time is easy peasy.   

And while I’m happy about the social, behavioral and academic progress what about of the rest of it? 

Like the new traditions we’ve started. The purple plate at dinner earned for some sort of good deed or success- copied from my friend Layke. Or the love notes I write to my daughter like: “Be yourself…everyone else is already taken” and “To worry about what you don’t have is a waste of what of you do have”.  And one of my all-time faves is our dinner time inferences that go something like this…

Kyla says, “A woman is running through a mall”
Dad- she shop lifted
Josh- the mall is closing
Skyler- she is being chased by dogs and or aliens

Me- there is a super sale happening

And how do I measure all of the blending? A year ago, the kids seemed so different from us.  Jason and I favored more traditional sports like football or baseball and they were all skaters.  I remember not knowing how to answer Jason when he said how come the kids won’t have a catch with me? I love all things girly and Kyla swore she would never wear a dress. But a gradual shift has occurred within the walls of our home.  We’ve been sewing our fabrics together, folding, becoming one blanket that wraps us up as we fade into each other. We know have a wiffle ball field in our back yard that we call “Pepe Park” that everyone enjoys.   I’ve been known to ride skateboards and scooters in our Cul de Sac. Kyla loves all things that can be found at Justice for Girls. 

Most recently, I’ve been watching the bond between Skyler and Jason grow. A couple of months ago Skyler passed me in the hallway and he was humming, “mmm mm mm m m m, I was mmm mm mm m m m”.  “What are you humming?” I asked. He replied, “Born in the USA”.  Me: “Why?” Him: “Because it’s awesome.”  Jason also coached his baseball team this fall and the two spent hours together practicing and having a catch.  And on Saturday mornings you’ll find Jason in his home office working at his desk. Equally, you’ll find Skyler in the home office on Saturday mornings reading his father’s books on baseball and Bruce Springsteen.

 There were plenty of challenges over the past year and I send a big thank you to my sister, Tawney for always answering my panicky phone calls.  Like the time I called her because Kyla had decided she didn’t want to have her first sleep over half way through it. Or, Skyler’s first day of the 4th grade again.  I was terrified that kid’s would tease him and I doubted the decision Jason and I made to hold him back a year.  But, like always, my big sister knew exactly what to say to me.

These past couple of days I’ve sifted through photos of the past year.  I’ve made a mental note of pounds of trash or challenging behaviors removed this year, the hours donated or therapy and homework time and lastly, the trails restored--progress and the folding of our new family.  And so tonight the five of us will get dressed up and over dinner we will talk about the progress we’ve made, laugh about the struggles we’ve faced and as a family we will celebrate the completion of a successful year.

The truth is I didn’t post this because I was struggling at the one year anniversary.  And, I felt terrible about it. The truth is this parent stuff is hard work.  Some days it down right kicks my ass.  I was trying to wrap up our year with ribbons and bows but really I was searching for the tape to hold it and us together. 

I find myself wanting to share only the good and just where has that gotten me…well, I haven’t written in months.      “A-ha moment” If I only write about the good I will hardly write at all.  My life isn’t always so picture perfect.  And while these moments do float in and out (and you better believe I will be posting just as fast as I can with pictures to prove it) there are so many moments when we struggle. 
And so, If I’m not honest how can I ever expect anyone else to be…so from here on out (oh lord) you’re  getting it all.