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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three years ago this week...

Craig and I brought home our two new sons from Kazakhstan. Here's what I had to say then:

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Home at last...

The past 48 hours are a blur...here's a synopsis of events.

Waited all day Thursday (1/22)with crossed fingers in Almaty to hear that the boys' passports had been flown to Ust and back and were finally correctly stamped so we could go home

Received the call from Oleg around 6:00pm that he was bringing the completed passports to us

Much screaming and cheering could be heard from 2 excited boys and their parents

Called kids in US around 6:15pm KZ time/7:15am US time to relay the good news

More screaming and cheering over Skype

Several hours of waiting to go to the airport at 1:30am

Madiyar asked at least 10 times how many more hours before we leave and proclaimed he wouldn't be able to sleep

Woke two sleepy boys to ride to the airport

Held our breath as the boys' passports and stamps were reviewed at passport control

Started breathing again once we were cleared for our flight

Waited for 2 hours to board our 4:10am flight

Madiyar asked at least 10 times how many more minutes until we would board

Dad spent the last of our tengee on over-priced airport candy

Boarded our flight and smiled as the wheels left the runway

Experienced much playing with tray tables, seatbelts, window shades, etc.

Eventually experienced much-needed sleep

Landed in Frankfurt at 5:20am for a 6 hour layover

Parents drank life-giving lattes while feeding the children M & M's, distributed Mom's stash of emergency Russian comic books, encouraged GameBoy playing, watched a movie until the computer battery died

Introduced our sons to the joys of playing on escalators and moving sidewalks, calling it exercise

Explored every inch of terminals A and B while trying to teach Aniyar to push a baggage cart without maiming someone

Visited several bathrooms, elevators, and more escalators and moving sidewalks

Instructed our children on the finer points of not pushing buttons or opening alarmed doors

Fed our kids their first McDonald's Happy Meals, including an ice cream sundae for Aniyar, a desperate attempt to bribe our way through the last part of our layover

Finally meandered to our gate at 11:00am

Responded to Madiyar's 20th request about how many more minutes until our 12:15 departure

Boarded our flight and walked through Business class to get to our cheap seats in Economy

Answered Madiyar's question as to why we didn't just sit in the nice big seats of Business class, dispelling his fantasy re: his new parents' vast wealth

Enjoyed Lufthansa's good service and food...for 8 long hours...with Craig seated 2 rows away from the rest of us

We travel back in time, chasing the sun across the sky and regaining a day in the process.

Gave Madiyar hourly updates on how many more hours until our arrival in Boston

After 6 hours, returned from bathroom to find the boys belting each other over rights to the window seat

Mom pulls darling boys apart and sits between them

Dad walks by on the way to the bathroom and wonders why Madiyar is now in the aisle seat and sulking

Mom reads and ignores sulking

Madiyar decides to stop sulking and asks how many more hours to Boston

Aniyar gets teary-eyed and asks why it's taking so long

Mom tells him stories about doggies who will give him kisses at home

Boys are distracted by the movie Wall-E and a snack for the last 2 hours of the flight; Mom is distracted by a small glass of purely medicinal cognac offered by the flight attendants.

Wheels touch down in Boston around 2pm on Friday, January 23 as new sons flagrantly attempt to flaunt seat belt rules while straining to see out the window.

Mom and Dad smile at each other across the rows as our new sons become US citizens when wheels touch US soil.

Mom tells boys they are now Americans

Aniyar asks if he can have a fishing pole now...he has seen Boston Harbor and wants to catch us some dinner

We proceed triumphantly off the plane and to passport control and immigration

No one throws a temper tantrum like Max did at this point in 2005

We go to the room where the boys' visas are entered into the computer system and they are welcomed to America officially as its' newest citizens

Everyone smiles and off we go into the main terminal by 3pm...over 5 years after we met the boys in this very spot, they've finally returned.

Our friend Deb picks us up and drives us home

We search the house for our kids but no one's home

Aniyar and Madiyar are greeted warmly by the dogs and new friendships are formed

Our kids arrive home from our friend Laura's house a few minutes later, screaming and yelling

Mom is assaulted by screaming children who knock her down with hugs

Other family members, new and old, are similarly and enthusiastically asssaulted

A maelstrom of greetings, showing the new kids around, opening overdue Christmas gifts, etc ensues

After an exhausting frenzy, various children engage themselves in movies in various languages, then videogames, then remote control vehicles

Around 6:00pm, Mom and Dad order take-out Chinese food since a home-cooked meal seems like an impossible dream.

By 6:30pm, we sit down to our first dinner as a family of 7...and we're all smiling.

Look at my guys (and sister Kate) now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Totally Wonderful Day

It's a rare event but it happens...a day with mostly progress and a whole lot of good with all the kids. In this case, I also got the added bonus of a chunk of one on one time with two in particular.

Such fun, I spent the early hours with my oldest two who are in High School. They've been taking mid-terms so they've had time off from school after their tests. These guys are funny and sweet and very smart and when we can avoid the pitfalls of adolescent angst and mood swings, they are delightful company. Today was one of those occasions..it was lunch at the mall and non-stop entertainment as they teased each other, cracked jokes, and strolled through the stores arm in arm with me, their mom! At home, I got help with dinner prep, actual conversation with said teens about their lives (gasp!), and even an invitation to play a videogame with my son...whoa. 16 may be my new favorite age.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A simple truth about parenting kids with trauma...

"On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life."

                                                    J. Smith

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My youngest is a year older...and how old is that?

The birthday boy wanted to celebrate at home with family.
Of course, he wanted an ice cream cake.

He was pretty excited about these remote control helicopters, too.

His physical body turned 14 a few days ago...but due to his FASD, his mental/emotional age is quite a bit younger. Overall, my boy's age is sort of on a sliding scale between 8 and 14 years of age. He has faced many challenges in his young life and has many more ahead of him. In spite of all that, he is indisputably one of the sweetest, purest souls I have ever met.

When people hear of his struggles, they often shake their heads. They call us saints for adopting him, say how lucky he is to have us...but those people are so wrong. In spite of the struggles (the behaviors and rages related to his PTSD and FASD are real and awful and frustrating, no denying), we are the lucky ones. I am blessed to be his mom, to have his love...and to have earned his trust. Here are a few things about my boy:

  • He has a smile that lights up the world and he gives great hugs...to everyone.
  • In 3 years since joining our family, he has grown a foot; he's thrilled that he's finally tall enough to sit in the front seat of our van.
  • He says he wants to live with Mom and Dad forever and take care of us when we're old. 
  • He still likes Scooby Doo cartoons...but he's also getting zits and peach fuzz on his upper lip.
  • He loves videogames, especially if he can shoot at things or blow them up...but he also would like a new Winnie the Pooh movie.
  • He loves animals, especially dogs.
  • He's terrified of zombies and totally believes in them. When I tell him that zombies aren't real, he pats my arm and tells me that when they come for us, he'll keep me safe.
  • He loves to wrestle, be a ninja, jump, run, play...and dance.
  • He's a gifted artist...when he draws at school, the other kids gather around and ask him for pictures.
  • He loves to snuggle and watch TV with his siblings, his parents, and our dogs.
  • He's popular with the 6th grade girls...and he's starting to figure out that he likes them, too.
  • He has a tender heart and is a fierce defender of his friends...which is how he got suspended from school for 2 days last week for fighting. Sigh...
  • He doesn't like school but has many friends there, both students and staff...and he's proud of his academic progress.
  • He can read on about the first grade level now...and that's a huge victory.
  • He says he wants a cell phone so he can text his friends; I told him to keep improving his reading and we'll talk.
  • He loves helping me in the kitchen, especially cutting up veggies for salads.
  • He hates doing his chore (taking out the compost bucket) because he's sure zombies are lurking in the yard, waiting to eat his brain.
  • It takes him a long time to master new skills...but once he learns a new skill, he does it perfectly.
  • He feels everything deeply...that means that his rages can be intense...but his joys are also intense...and these days, we see more joy than anger.
  • Of all of my kids, he is the one who is most willing to accept responsibility and apologize for his mistakes...and his apologies are sincere, never empty.
  • This child loves wholly, fiercely, and unreservedly. Here's where I'm blessed...because I'm loved by this boy.
  • This child doesn't trust easily because his early life has taught him that most adults weren't worthy of his trust. Again I am blessed...because I'm trusted by this boy.
  • And last but not least, he's generous. He asked me the other day how much wheelchairs cost. You see, he wants to start saving now for a nice one for my old age. Awww...how sweet is that? 
Hope you enjoyed your birthday, my wonderful son! I'm so proud of you!!!
                                                                 Your Lucky Mom


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our Christmas break in pictures...

As promised, here are the pics of our recent revelry during the holidays. First, Christmas at home:
What the living room looked like before the kids got up on Christmas...

What the kids looked like before we turned them loose on the gifts...

Please note the Christmas PJ's matched to personality...

The frenzy began with stockings...
Then we moved onto bigger gifts...and I lost my camera in a sea of wrapping paper.
Found the camera in time to take this pic of our Christmas feast...prime rib...can you see that the roasting pan is empty?

We spent Craig's birthday and New Year's Eve at our place in the White Mountains of New Hampshire:

Max hates to have his picture taken, can you tell?

Dad opening his gifts...

Dad playing with his gifts.
 For New Year's Eve, we took the party outside and built a little fire...
We toasted marshmallows, drank hot chocolate,

 and played light-up frisbee..

And then we made smores!
We danced to music from Kate's cell phone...and the boys started a snowball throwing contest.

This is the victory dance...who's the man??? (And why isn't he wearing a coat?)

We watched the ball drop and drank bubbly stuff.

When it got too cold, we took the party back inside.
Don't let my boy's silly grin fool you...he was only drinking sparkling apple cider.
My Kate raises her glass...
As we ring in 2012, we offer a toast...from our family to yours.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Holiday hiatus

As you can tell, I've been taking a break from blogging for the holidays. The abridged version of our festivities is as follows:

Christmas Day was awesome from the gifts (both material and spiritual) to the prime rib dinner. I especially gave thanks for the five teen angels who made a wrapping paper mess of the living room and squealed with delight at their presents (both given and received).

Christmas Week was filled with challenges and triumphs...more later on this...but the triumphs outweighed the challenges.

Dad's birthday (12/30) and New Year's Eve/Day were spent away from home. We headed to New Hampshire in search of snow fun for a few days...we've enjoyed:
  • sledding, 
  • ice skating, 
  • swimming in the pool,
  • snowball fights and fort-building
We even rang in the New Year outdoors with a fire pit just for us! It didn't feel cold as we:
  • sipped hot chocolate, 
  • toasted marshmallows, 
  • ate S'mores,
  • played light up frisbee,
  • threw snowballs
We stayed up late last night, banged pots and pans at midnight, and drank sparkling cider. Today we slept in, ate too much, broke our Screenless Sunday rules, hung out in the Recreation Center, and generally were lazy. It felt good. We'll head home tomorrow and I'll get around to posting pics and details of our adventures. In the meantime, I have to go referee a ping pong match between my kids...then I think we'll have the rest of those S'mores.

Happy New Year!