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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Another FASD victory!

See this boy? He's my youngest son. He's sweet, kind, funny, and helpful. He's good with animals and little kids. He's also 15 years old, going on 10. Due to his Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, he is younger than his years. In the 4 years he's been with us, he has faced many challenges. He's come to a new country, adapted to a new language and culture, and learned to live in a family. He has also struggled to regulate his emotions. He has struggled with all things academic. Once a few years back, he was even hospitalized for his own safety when he just couldn't handle all the changes...but the other day, a miracle happened.

The other day, I got a call from this boy's school. It wasn't to tell me he was sick or in trouble or needed help. It was to tell me that he had volunteered to read to a group of preschoolers. Why is this noteworthy? Because until just a few short months ago, this boy couldn't read even the simplest book and we wondered if literacy would ever be within his reach. Thankfully, we've seen progress in this most important area thanks to his hard work and the persistence of his teachers. To be honest, his reading skills are still far below his grade level...but that didn't stop him from trying to read a book to younger kids...and succeeding!! To me, this is the definition of courage...and hope.

Feeling grateful and proud...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My baby is all grown up and going to college!

Seventeen years and some months ago, my DH and I were sitting at the breakfast table, bleary eyed and sleep deprived because we had a wee newborn babe who was just a few days old. I noticed my sweet husband was a bit emotional and asked him what was wrong..and he said (with a tear in his eye) that he just knew we'd blink and this precious babe would be 18 and going off to college. I told him to breathe and enjoy the next 17+ years before he sweated the next phase.

Well..today his prophecy came true. Today our little girl was accepted at the college of her choice. Dear God in Heaven, where have the years gone? In a few short months, the babe who used to fit in the crook of my arm will graduate from high school, turn 18, and move on to major in education in college. She wants to teach kids to read; she wants to touch the lives of kids the way her teachers have touched her.  So proud of my girl!!!

Congratulations, sweet Kate...you rock!

Monday, March 11, 2013

What's special about today?

Nine years ago today, a judge in the far off land of Kazakhstan gave us a precious gift. Here's what I said in an email to family and friends back then:


At 10:35am on Thursday, March 11, the judge announced his decision re: our petition to adopt Tatyana, a child of the Republic of Kazakhstan and we became parents once again!

It's hard to imagine how we could be any happier...the day we've dreamed of is here and we are so grateful.  The journey was long but worth every step; Kate has her little sister and we have a second bright and beautiful child (strong-willed, too...but we like that in our house!)  We'll be home soon....

Much love, 
            Dee, Craig, Kate, and Tanya

2004: Two of Tanya’s caregivers posed with us on adoption day.
2013: Is Kate sad because Tanya is taller than her now?

Happy adoption anniversary, monkey!!! Everything I said back then is still true...the journey to you was worth every step and then some. You're even more bright and beautiful...and still strong-willed too, Miss Sassy pants...grin.

All my love, Mom

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Emily Dickinson could have written this poem for my family

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Lately this poem has been rattling around in my head...it's an old favorite of mine but it seems very relevant to my life these days. With thanks to Emily Dickinson for her inspiration, this post is for my very special family. Each of you live each day with hope perched in your soul. You're my heroes!

  • For my daughter with FASD who thought she would never ever overcome her memory challenges...but her memory and her cognitive language skills continue to improve through her sheer grit and determination.

  • For my son who thought his PTSD and anxiety would never let him pass his driving permit test...or recite a poem in front of a class...but he has done both in the last couple of weeks. He's very proud of himself, say he likes the way his successes feel.

  • For my son who thought he would never be able to return to school and be successful after he was diagnosed as bipolar...but he's in school, working hard and looking to the future. No return trips to the hospital (he was hospitalized 4 times last year), going to therapy and social groups, participating in mentoring and responding well to meds...huge change from a year ago when hope was in short supply. I'm proud of you, my boy!

  • For my daughter who thinks she will never survive AP Statistics, AP History, AP English, Honors Chemistry, and a host of other things that are piled on her plate in her senior year...but she's doing it with grace and style.

  • For my son with FASD who has struggled with language and thought he would never learn to read...but his language skills are growing and he is reading to me each day after school. He's making me so proud!!

  • For my DH who wondered if he'd ever get a second chance at marriage and kids, He's been married to me for close to 20 years (lucky devil!) and is a great Dad to 5 teenagers. The poor man needs all the hope he can get.

As for me, I wonder daily if I have the strength/patience to give these 5 teenagers everything they need to face their challenges...and if there's enough caffeine in the world to sustain me until they're all educated and raised. Here's to hope...and lots of espresso!

Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Trampoline boys


When my oldest son's best friend was here visiting last month, I treated the boys to a visit at Skyzone, an indoor trampoline park. Since both of these guys like to be on the move, it was a great way for them to get some physical activity even in the dead of winter. Click on the play button above to take a peek at some of their fun, just a couple of minutes out of the hour of time they had to bounce...and trust me, they got a workout.

Apologies for the video...couldn't figure out how to edit/crop it to save my soul but my boy wanted me to post it anyway. Check out those front and back flips, very impressive in my opinion and worthy of posting indeed!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hope springs eternal

It happens to me every year. February ends and March sashays in; we get a few warm days and some sunshine and I start to get my hopes up. I start dreaming of replanting the vegetable garden and reclaiming my herb garden even though both beds are currently under the 2 ft of snow that's still hanging around from last month's blizzard. Just yesterday, I was shoveling out a parking space for my van from the snow bank that's still in front of our house. There's no reason to really think we're done with snow for this winter. In fact, the weather folks are predicting 1-3 inches this Thursday so we're really not out of the woods...but I just can't help myself. My heart yearns for Spring and I'm watching closely for the signs...which is why I was so thrilled to see these lovely green shoots poking up from the hard, cold ground. IT'S A SIGN!!! The stinking' groundhog was right for once and winter really is almost over!!

The more realistic me who has lived in New England for (sigh) almost 20 years now knows better. I love the husband who brought me here I love the husband who brought me here I love the husband who brought me here. I remind myself that I'll probably just get my heart broken again; we'll get another doozy of  a snowstorm, the weather will be awful for weeks, and we'll end up having our Memorial Day cookout inside...AGAIN. Hey, this is New England after all so it's to be expected...but for now, just let me dream of crocuses and daffodils and tulips.