May and June are two of my favorite months because the time is chock full of special events. Between Mother's Day and Father's Day, we celebrate 2 birthdays, a wedding anniversary, and the end of the school year with all of the attendant ceremonies and activities.
In New England, May also usually means that the weather will actually be warm more often than not and the chance of snow is finally behind us. The old willow tree in our back yard is green again, the grass is growing in spite of our 3 greyhounds, and our vegetable garden is taking shape. Craig is cooking a lot of burgers and steak tips on the grill and we're all enjoying being outside more. On a couple of nice evenings, Craig and I have even been able to relax on our deck while the kids play basketball, street hockey, soccer, or catch until it's too dark to see the ball. Other times, we rush to feed everyone, then race off in different directions to get Tanya to a softball game, Max to flag football, or Kate to piano. We laugh a lot more these days and the atmosphere in our home is much more relaxed. It feels almost normal around here...but the reality is that we're still missing one of our 5 kids so nothing is really normal at all.
Aniyar has been in the hospital for 6 weeks now. He's still in a pediatric psychiatry unit in the Franciscan Children's Hospital in Boston where he's being evaluated and treated with therapy and medication for his impulsivity and his angry outbursts. We visit him frequently and have taken him out on passes both on and off the hospital grounds several times now. We were able to take him out to lunch with us on Mother's Day and he has been home to visit on the last 2 Saturdays. We do see some improvement in his ability to regulate his behavior and we're encouraged. We are hopeful that he might be able to rejoin us at home at some point as long as we can all be safe.
Time and the support systems we've accessed for the whole family have helped the rest of us to recover and regroup; we have help from social workers who visit us from a great group called Adoption Journeys. They support all of the kids as well as Mom and Dad. We also have on-going therapy for Madiyar who struggles greatly with his brother's absence...and for Max who is most anxious about Aniyar's return. The girls continue to do well with this roller coaster ride and Craig and I just keep hanging on with support from family, friends, and trusted advocates from our adoption community (Thanks, Ann and Leah!)
Life is even busier than ever now that my role as Mom also includes attending multiple IEP meetings for Madiyar, driving to Boston every few days for visits and family meetings for Aniyar, and continuing to support the other 3 kids as well. I feel like I spend most days in my minivan...or doing laundry...now if I could just put a washer and dryer in the minivan, I'd be all set.
Craig has taken on the primary role of sports enthusiast, adjusting his work schedule to take Tanya to her softball games and practices...the rest of us have watched parts of her games and one night we even cheered her on while we ate a family picnic supper...but Dad is the faithful fan who has been to every game. Little League softball has been Tanya's own form of therapy this spring; she's loving the physical activity and being a part of a team. She's making new friends and enjoying learning something that comes easy to her. Tanya is a good athlete; she's gained enough confidence that she asked the coach if she could pitch in the game they played on her 12th. birthday...and she got her wish. Our girl wasn't the best pitcher of the day...but it makes my eyes fill with tears to see her on the mound and know how far she has come in the 6 years she's been with us.
Max is doing well at school but struggling a bit at home...tonight he gave me a note telling me that he wanted to talk to me but he didn't want to interrupt since he knew I'd rather spend time with my new favorite son, Madiyar. Actually, I viewed this as huge progress for Max who has been really mad lately but not willing to talk about what's bothering him...his fear of being replaced. We were able to talk and I was able to remind my boy that he was my first son, my special boy and absolutely impossible to replace. (After all, how many other mothers have a son who is obsessed with squirrels and dreams of assembling a squirrel army to take over Canada?) We've turned a corner tonight as we've faced Max's worst fears about being sent away...no way, Squirrel! You're stuck with us and we'll always love you.
Kate continues to sail along through the year with her eyes on the prize...and this time, it's a gift card to a bookstore. She submitted a poem to a writing competition at her school and was selected as a finalist; she and the other finalists will read their works at a local bookstore tonight as a part of the competition. If she wins, I'm quite sure Kate will have the gift card spent before she lets us take her home...the child loves to read...so you won't be surprised to learn that her poem is entitled, "The Library", and is about one of her favorite places.
As for our Madiyar...this boy still delights and confounds us...and I must admit that he has a way of melting his new mom's heart. He can be rude and inappropriate and pretty darn annoying at times...but he can also be mature beyond his years and caring beyond measure. This is the boy who was recently suspended from school for kicking a teacher...arghh!!!...and the same boy who carefully picked out 12 items in the Dollar Store for Tanya's birthday, all painstakingly chosen to her interests and bought with his own money...awww! As for being suspended, I didn't want him thinking he was getting out of school that easily...so we brought his teacher and computer to the house every day and he did all of his work here at home. By the end of the suspension, he said he would never have a problem at school again; staying at home was just too boring! (Score one for Mom.) At home, our Madiyar is a gem, funny and kind and warm...and his English increases exponentially with each passing day, informed by friends and family, TV and Radio Disney. Yes, he sings along to all the songs in English...with a strong Russian accent and lots of enthusiasm.
Craig and I celebrated our 16th anniversary on May 29 with a quiet dinner at home (as quiet as it can get with all of our kids around). We fed the kids early and sent them off to watch movies and play videogames, then had our friends, Rick and Deb, over for a late evening grown-up dinner of salad and steaks on the grill. We shared a champagne toast and reminisced a bit, then called it a night. There was no expensive jewelry with lots of bling as a gift, no Ferrari with a bow on it in the driveway, no tickets for a 2nd honeymoon in Paris. Kate says we're boring and not very sentimental. (Our defense is that we shot the wad on 3 trips to Kazakhstan last year and our 2nd honeymoon was spent traveling the road between Ust-Kamenogorsk and Ridder.) At this point, the best gift of all for Mom and Dad is a peaceful evening at home and a good night's sleep...jeez, we really are boring...but never bored with our brood!