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Friday, September 30, 2011

A rare perfect day...

Unless you're raising kids in Stepford, CT, nothing is perfect and parenting is never easy. No matter the age of your kids, there are always challenges, whether it's the Terrible Twos or the teenage years. Each day brings some new crisis adventure to be experienced. Many of these adventures in parenting result in Mommy or Daddy clutching her/his head and reaching for the Excedrin bottle. It's to be expected in any family and it's a given in our family...we do have 5 teens, after all. (I know, I know....what were we thinking when we chose to adopt 4 kids who were all roughly within 2 years of each other and our bio child in age??? Did we not realize that they would all become teens at the same time??? Couldn't we foresee the Hormone Hell we were heading for??? Logic clearly didn't enter into our reasoning. Funny thing, emotion...it leads you to do some pretty crazy amazing things.) Anyway, the days are often long and fraught with drama in our house...but just once in a while, we get lucky.

Yesterday was darn near perfect. Here's why:

  • The morning routine and school day went smoothly 
    • No one got their panties in a twist, sulked, or misplaced their homework folder
    • Everyone got to school on time
    • No one forgot their lunch, binder, or any other item which would necessitate Mom making another trip to school
    • Everyone had a good day in the pursuit of learning
  • On the van ride home from school, everyone was in a good mood (a minor miracle)
    • There was laughter and good-natured teasing, no hurt feelings or unkind comments
  • No one got into an argument (another minor miracle)
  • Everyone did their chores and homework without complaint (Ummm...who are these kids?)
  • We had actual dinner conversation, complete with stories of everyone's day, jokes, and laughter
    • At one point, Craig and I just looked at each other and smiled, basking in this rare moment of familial bliss
    • Our kids were being loud and funny and fun to be with at the dinner table
    • No one was asking to be excused  2 minutes into the meal to return to a videogame or a TV screen
    • Successful family bonding time...check!
  • The rest of the evening continued the same way...
    • Kindness was exhibited between sibs
    • No one got their panties into a twist about a single thing (This was when I started thinking about Stepford kids...)
    • No one argued about bedtime, screen limits, or showers (OK, there was a little grumbling about the last item...but only token resistance from one cherub so I'm calling it a victory.)
  • I actually got to watch TV with my big kids, another rare treat
    • All homework was done early and all the chores, too.
    • The younger kids were in bed ON TIME!!
    • My 16 year olds watched a couple of episodes of Vampire Diaries on DVD
      • No one bickered or argued
      • No one hogged the remote
      • I thoroughly enjoyed their company
      • They went to bed without argument around 10:30...
  •  I got to watch TV all by myself after that (Now that's an unusual occurrence!)
  •  I went to sleep smiling and counting my lucky stars...all 5 of them.
While I'd love to have times like this every day, I don't have any illusions. My kids are human and so are their parents...none of us are Stepford models of perfection. It may be a while until we get another near idyllic stretch of harmony around here. My goal is to store up this positive energy and draw on it the next time life in Hormone Hell gets a bit crazy...it's either that or move to a strange little town in Connecticut.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Madiyar is 16!

Shudder....another 16 year old in the house. Yet another one old enough to prepare for his driving permit test, think he's all grown up, be fresh and sassy, and push the edge of the envelope at times. More valium, please...

We celebrated with Chinese takeout for dinner, then Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake decorated with Skittles at the birthday boy's request

As for gifts, well...we couldn't resist having a bit of fun. He's quite the comedian, our oldest boy...fond of telling tall tales to see if he can get away with fooling us...so his dad decided to return the favor on his birthday. Craig told him that we knew he'd really like a car for his 16th birthday but we thought he really deserved more than just a stinkin' car. We decided he needed wheels and wings!
Envision hopeful, excited expression at the mention of a car...even more hopeful, excited expression at the mention of more and wheels!  

Envision puzzled and then suspicious expression upon hearing mention of wings...

The wheels in question were in the form of a really cool skateboard. The wings were in the form of a remote control fighter plane.

Envision rueful grin when he realized he'd been had.

Oh, don't worry about him...he actually has been begging for a pintail longboard for months and was also drooling over the planes so he wasn't really disappointed.

M with his wings and wheels

First test drive on new wheels...no learner's permit required.
The rest of his big gift includes wheels, too...Madiyar and Craig are headed to Loudon tomorrow for a full day of NASCAR car and truck races at NH Motor Speedway.. Father/son bonding at its best...fast cars, risk-taking behavior, testosterone, noise, and junk food. Could it get any better?

Happy 16th. to our Mad Dog! We hope you had fun....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's been a while...

So which should I go with when I get me to a nunnery? The traditional Carmelite habit or the modern tunic?

A long time has passed since my last post, about two weeks. There's been plenty to write about...another birthday, the ups and downs of parenting teens with special needs, autumn's arrival in New England, the wonderful picnic we attended with other adoptive families last weekend, etc. I have dutifully taken pictures and thought about my posts but somehow, the muse hasn't been with me. Why, you ask? Well, I'm in a funk...or beset by demons...or both.

Between increased homework responsibilities, my role as in-home therapist and mediator of all disputes (someone's always got their panties in a twist around here about something), school/home special education liaison, and my schedule as chauffeur for soccer season, medical appointments, social engagements and more, I'm busy.

I've also started accepting more freelance interpreting work to ease our financial situation. (Five kids can really eat and always need new clothes; then there's the approach of the holidays...and college.) My brain is pretty well fried after a full day of interpreting and yet the fam still needs dinner when I get home...but it's not only the cooking that makes it tough.

There's the daily stress and conflict of living with 5 teens who are obviously much smarter that the adults in the house. Lately we've been dealing with significant testing of family rules and limits by one of our kids, medication changes and behavioral challenges with another, and the onset of puberty with a vengeance that is really causing emotional upset with yet another. There's been more yelling and door slamming than usual even for us. Sometimes, it feels like we live in the middle of a hormonal hurricane.

For good or ill, I am often the lightening rod in these storms; I hate conflict and wish I could avoid these battles...but parenting requires intervention and I'm usually the dispenser of justice around here. When wrongs need to be righted, some applicant or another will appear at my side, asking to be heard in the Court of Mom (COM). (You know, I'm not making this up...just the other day, I overheard Kate warning one of her sibs that she was going to petition the COM if they didn't stop disturbing her while she was doing her homework. Exact words, no lie...) One can also be summoned into the COM for lying, breaking house rules, abusing privileges, etc. Not surprisingly, the summoned party is rarely happy to be found in front of the court. In fact, the summoned party is often surly, defensive, and at times downright verbally abusive to the bench.

I don't like feeling like the bad guy; I don't like being told that my kid hates me. I don't like being sworn at. It hurts. 

I feel stretched to the limit and beyond. I'm quick to anger, short of patience, in need of respite. There's none in sight.

Sometimes I want to run away and join a nice, quiet convent (hence the pic at the beginning of this post)...so far, I've settled for going for a loooong walk instead.

I also feel like I've lost a bit of my soul (or is it just my self?) somewhere along the way...but that's probably another story.

I'm so tired.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall is here and the last kid has returned to school...

Handsome, isn't he?

Also pretty handsome about now...

It finally happened; the bus appeared at our door and transported my youngest to his first day of 6th grade. After what seems like the longest summer on record, all 5 of the cherubs are back to school. Aniyar started Middle School today, two weeks after his siblings returned to their Charter School. Wish my youngest could be with the others since we dearly love our Salem Academy Charter School but his special needs and educational delays are just too great for that setting.

Instead, he'll be in a SPED self-contained classroom in the local school district's middle school which will hopefully address his learning challenges, memory issues, and emotional and behavioral needs related to his FASD. Not sure how it will go...Aniyar doesn't handle change well and he's been stressing about going to a new school.Can't blame him...I'm stressing about it, too. We're braced for some regression and acting out and have put supports in place to hopefully ease his transition. I've met with his teacher, the counselor, the principal, and everyone else I can think of to review his needs. I've also let everyone know I intend to be an involved parent who will advocate for her child. (This is polite code for pain-in-the-butt parent who uses the phone, email, IEP meetings, and foot-stomping as needed to get services for her kid .) Just call me Mama Bear.

Aniyar and I visited his new classroom last week and he's met everyone as well. He will have a one-on-one aide to help him, someone to escort him from the bus to his classroom and back, and tons of academic support. I've gotten him as much support as I could and I hope it goes well...I have my fingers crossed. Could the rest of you please cross your fingers and say a prayer for us, too?

I expect challenges. I expect crabby moods and resistance to homework. I expect lots of complaints about school and unhappiness about earlier bedtimes. In fact, I've already gotten a call from the school counselor about his first meltdown ....but at least he resolved his anger quickly and it ended on a positive note. We're moving forward...and I'm feeling a bit more prepared to cope.

For the past several hours, there's been a blissful silence under our roof. It's raining softly and the air is cool, whispering of autumn's approach; I've spent the day puttering around the house. I made a huge pot of soup and an even bigger pot of plov (a Russian meat and rice pilaf that my kids love) to warm my loved ones' bellies tonight. I hummed to myself as I picked tomatoes from our garden. I've cleaned, done laundry, made phone calls and set up appointments for the doctor, the dentist, the hairdresser. In short, I've been productive, had a break from the cherubs, and even a bit of rest.

Have I mentioned that I love Fall?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Warning....stay off the roads!

It happened...we went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday. Kate took her test and emerged victorious. We now have an officially sanctioned driver in training in our family. I'm thinking of ordering her this button to wear:

Maybe I should have it made into a magnetic sign for my van? Aww, I'm just kidding, honey...we're so proud of you!