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Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

What a lovely day! It started with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade while Craig and I cooked together, something we've always enjoyed. The kids wandered in and out when they were hungry but otherwise amused themselves with some form of electronic entertainment. This pretty much lasted until early afternoon when we started munching on appetizers that our best friends/next door neighbors brought over...and they also brought us this cute table decoration!

We seated 11 people at our early dinner and served enough food for twice that many! Our next door neighbors joined us and shared in the cooking. We had a true feast of both ham and turkey, white and sweet potatoes, dressing and cranberry orange relish, fruits and veggies. Dessert was 3 kinds of pie and a lemon tart...and Irish coffee for the adults.

The kids disappeared again once they were sufficiently stuffed and sugared up, returning to their various pursuits. For the boys, this included some kind of shoot 'em up computer game where they played in teams. For the girls, this included watching Christmas movies, cutting out paper snowflakes, and playing Christmas carols on the piano. Once the dishes were cleaned up, Craig and I watched "Miracle on 34th Street", our all time favorite holiday movie which never fails to fill us with the Christmas spirit. We all ended the day happy and grateful, not a single cross word spoken all day...now that's something to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Three years ago this Thanksgiving,..

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving...and fear

We've been back from Kaz for 2 weeks now. If all had gone as we had hoped, we'd be on our way back for our anticipated Dec. 2 court date...but it didn't happen.

On November 20th, we were notified by our agency that our judge had decided that our adoption dossier was out of date and we needed to redo it. For many, this would have been the death knell of the adoption. Never mind all the updated docs that we had given to the judge in Kaz while we were there...she wanted the full dossier, 30+ docs, all approved by the Kaz Embassy. She gave us until Dec. 9 to accomplish the near impossible...assembling an adoption dossier generally takes 2-3 months, then another 2-3 months to get it approved at the Kaz embassy in Washington, DC. If we can meet her goal, then she says we can have a court date of either Dec. 17, 18, or 19. Sigh...I did a lot of whining and not sleeping for the first few days, then I kicked it into high gear and started assembling a dossier...for the fourth time. Our adoption friends have been a great help...our home study agency and social worker have moved the world for us to update our docs; our friend and personal notary even showed up at our house in her bathrobe late one night to notarize docs for us. Our international agency arranged for emergency translation services so that each document could be translated as I completed the notarization and apostille process, even over Thanksgiving weekend. People we don't even know have hand-carried docs for us from Kaz to the US which they will send to our agency tomorrow to complete our dossier...and yes, after I finished whining and complaining, I did manage to assemble a 25+ document dossier in a week's time. Craig and I sent it via Expressmail yesterday to our international agency. Our new docs and the updated docs that were returned to us from Kaz will be married up, checked for accuracy, and sent to the Kaz embassy this week. We have been told that the person who reviews dossiers there understands our special circumstances and will review our paperwork on an emergency basis. We can only hope...so what do we have to be thankful for? Oh. Just everything.

In the frenzy that existed this past week in our house, I was still able to see what we have to cherish...3 great kids who are frustrated by not being able to have Aniyar and Madiyar here with us...but who also are happy to have Mom and Dad home for Thanksgiving. We watched the Macy's Day parade, stuffed a turkey, made cranberry-orange relish, started our Christmas shopping, enjoyed Max making French Toast for the whole family's breakfast and Kate's Apple Crumb pie. I had the great joy of going to both the library and the Early Bird sales, sharing Family Movie Night and then reading with my kids before bed.

So much to be grateful for...but I just wish we had been a little closer to 2 other kids who wait for us on the other side of the planet...still waking in a cold sweat at 4am, afraid we'll fail after all of this. Dawn helps...keeping busy helps...and I'm no quitter. We'll play the hand we've been dealt and hope for the best. Tomorrow's goal...write to the boys, try to explain all of this and the new timetable...hmm...how the heck do I do that?

Fast forward 3 years...5 kids in our house...our traditional homemade borscht for dinner...no dossiers to revise, just lots of singing, cooking, and laughter. The most stressful thing we have planned is hitting the Black Friday sales. Words like "Thanksgiving" and "thankful" don't begin to cover it...but "miracle" does.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What will I say?

This week, I'll go to a college class and talk about adoption just like I've done several times before over the years. In the past, I've talked about our travels to Kazakhstan, the struggles of the international adoption process, the transition and adjustment period that adopted kids go through, the issues older adopted kids face, etc...but now that I have a house full of 5 teens, what else could I possibly add?

Should I mention the son who is struggling mightily with hormones and a medication change at present? Should I mention that he has picked fights with sibs, screamed and sworn at us, and threatened to kill us all in our sleep this week?

Should I talk about my other son who put a hole in the wall out of frustration after an argument with the aforementioned son?

Should I talk about my daughter who is grounded after sneaking out of the house with her friend last week?

Should I mention that there's been a lot of singing and dancing around the kitchen, hugs, and laughter lately in spite of these other things?

Maybe I should talk about the dinner my oldest cooked for the whole family all (well, mostly) by herself...

Or the fact that my boys ratted out their sister for sneaking out of the house (and took pictures of her) because they were actually worried about her...

Or that two of my sons have already finished their Christmas shopping for their sibs because they just couldn't wait...

Or the way I've noticed my kids helping each other...when they're not trying to kill each other.

Maybe I should just talk about how building a family takes work...

And how building a family with traumatized children who have no reason to trust takes even more work...

And that teenagers are by definition difficult...and traumatized teens can be doubly so...

And yet...by some small miracle,

And against all odds...

In spite of different blood and different ethnicity and coming from opposite sides of the planet...

In spite of spending our days riding a roller coaster of trauma and hormones and teenage angst,

And dysfunctional though we may be...

We are a family.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My less bloggy life...

Sign language interpreter symbol
For the past few years, I've blogged mostly about my kids....in fact, I started Kate's Wish when we were preparing to adopt our last 2 kids as a way of chronicling our journey as a family. Since 2007, I've been a stay at home Mom so many folks may not even be aware of my professional side. (To be honest, there have been times since I became a mother of 5 when I wondered if I even still had a professional side.) However, in the past year or so, as we've emerged from the adoption transition period and settled down in earnest to raise our teens...and as the tough economy and spiraling fuel and food costs have taken their toll on our checkbook...it's become clear that one income only stretches so far. That means Mom has returned to the workforce (well...it's not like I wasn't working, was it? I just wasn't being paid, now was I? But don't get me started...)

Anyway...I've been accepting freelance interpreting assignments for a few months now. See, I'm a nationally certified American sign language interpreter, have been for a few decades or so. That means I'm lucky enough to have a skill set that 's a bit unique and in demand so I'm getting offered quite a bit of work from referral agencies. I have the luxury of booking assignments that normally fits within the kids' school schedule...but working outside the home again means I have even more balls to keep in the air in my daily juggling act. How does this impact a typical day? Ahh, multi-tasking! It often looks something like this:

6:45am          Leap cheerfully out of bed to make breakfast for the cherubs (first cherub is already awake, showered, and dressed, thanks to Dad)
7:15am         Wake 4 remaining cherubs; feed, medicate, sign forms, pack lunches, prepare for day as needed
7:40am         Wave farewell to Cherub #1 as he boards the bus
7:45am         Shower & dress in appropriate attire for work, vainly attempting to avoid dog hair and food stains
8:00am         Drive remaining cherubs to school in the Mom van
8:10am         Scurry off to the interpreting assignment du jour (could be legal, medical, or mental health...or almost anything else...somewhere within a 40 mile radius)
9-9:30ish      Arrive at assignment somewhat harried after fighting Boston area gridlock; next 2 hrs are spent in an alternate universe where no one calls me Mom...I am in fact often addressed as Madame Interpreter...fancy that! )
11-11:30ish  Leave assignment; begin calculating total earnings...roughly $130 for 2 hrs work.
12:00noon    Stop at grocery store; spend $100 on food
12:30pm       Stop at gas station; spend $50 for fuel for the Mom van
1:30ish          Arrive home
                     Put away groceries
                     Begin dinner prep
                     Start laundry
                     Clean house
                     Long for a nap...vain hope!
                     Answer a zillion emails, text messages, voicemails
                     Check calendar, book work, do billing
                     Confirm dental, medical, and therapy appts for cherubs
                     Write blog post (Ha!!!! Another vain hope...)
3:00pm          First cherub arrives home from school; Mom's snack wagon and homework help center opens
4:00pm          Mom van collects remaining 4 cherubs from school...unless someone an after school activity
4:15pm          Mom's snack wagon and homework help center continues to provide service
5:00pm          Mom van returns to school to pick up stragglers
5-6ish            Trips to library, driving practice, and assorted other errands take place;
                      Chores are completed by happy cherubs under Mom's watchful eye
6:15ish           Dinner is served at an actual dinner table without screens and with family dinner conversation
                      (Translation: no one gets excused until they share about their day...so help me God!)
6:45pm          Mom's snack wagon and homework center begins evening shift as dinner dishes are cleared
8:00pm          All screens go dark...cherubs get ready for bed/prepare for next day
8:30pm          First cherub goes to bed, others begin shower rotation, beg for extended bedtimes, etc.
9:30pm          Only the 16 year olds remain standing; Dad is already asleep...

10-10:30ish    Big kids wander off to bed
10:30ish         Mom is now alone to fold laundry, make lists, check calendar for next day
                     Answer a zillion emails, text messages, voicemails
                     Fill out field trip forms, medical forms, school activity forms, etc.
11:30ish        Mom downloads photos to computer, starts to write witty blog entry complete with pics
11:45ish        Mom falls asleep at computer keyboard (Oops...another day with no blog entry!)

Sorry, faithful readers...I'll try to do better...really.