Friday, June 25, 2010

Travelling East

Our travels have taken us to Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and finally Massachusetts. The older kids plotted out the first part of our journey so we ended up in the following places:

The kids loved each and every one of these places while C. and I just hung back and watched in awe as they took in these historic places. (We were thrilled that time prevented us from including Mount Vernon on this trip.) :). Tortuga and Corazon captivated the tour guide's attention at Monticello with their questions about Jefferson and he almost fell over when Corazon asked to see the wine dumbwaiter. Their favorite part: his library because "he was a book lover too." Their favorite souvenir was a pencil inscribed with his famous quote "I cannot live without books." Milagro's favorite was the Liberty Bell but she was very distressed that it had a crack. She wanted to see the liberty bell "without a crack" and thus far she has created a highly embellished story of how the bell got it's crack and how much trouble those people who cracked it should be in! Pollito liked Independence Hall (as did the older kids) because he thought the building was "cool" and the older kids were in awe because C.'s 7th great grandfather was a signer of the Declaration of Independence so they feel a special connection to anything related to that.  The statue of liberty made the greatest impression on all of us. I was the only one who had been there before but it is still an awesome sight. Walking the hundreds of stairs up and down however was not awesome! We had a glorious day so we took in Ellis Island as well and I swear you can still feel the spirit of the many souls who passed through those halls. The kids loved the movie at Ellis Island and are now begging to study immigration for our Social Studies work this summer! I think it is official that my kids are geeks!

We arrived in MA and headed to Rockport/Gloucester where we have been for the past week. Milagro's highpoint so far has been riding in a purple smartcar. She is obsessed with smart cars and a visit from the minister who baptized them last summer brought the chance for a ride right to our doorstep. It was a brief event just down the street since fitting her carseat wasn't an option (one reason we aren't getting one anytime soon!) For the most part, RAD and ODD behaviors have been "under control" with the exception of one really lousy day with Tortuga. He got physically aggessive with me, for what appeared to be an inconsequential redirection and I almost had to restrain him. We actually were able to work through it together and he calmed down enough that we could move through it. We ended up having a wonderful conversation (once he was completely regulated) about how his anger affects other people and how his lack of trust makes it hard for everyone in the family including himself. He missed out on one beach trip but otherwise has been able to join the family for lots of relaxing time in the sun. We are excited to be spending time in Boston seeing so many friends and family for the next couple of weeks. I think that being back in our old house will bring up some good and bad memories for all of them but especially the older kids. We have begun talking about how our bodies hold memory even if we don't actually
"remember" particular events and that is giving the older kids some language to process some of what they might feel over the next few weeks especially as we reconnect with birth families and previous foster families.

Sunday, June 13, 2010



It has been a busy week as we prepare to travel East so I haven't had time to write. We started by celebrating my birthday and then doing a mad dash to get the house ready and everything packed for our time away from home. The days leading up to my birthday were really nice ones thanks to C. She started the celebration early and we even got a babysitter and went out to dinner to a new restaurant just the two of us which is an all-too-rare occurrence. Of course, starting the day before my actual birthday the two older kids were pretty challenging. It is just too hard for them to see someone else be the "center" of attention and they did their best to draw attention to themselves. Tortuga "forgot" all his routines, tattled constantly on the other kids for all kinds of real and imagined offenses, and pretty much worked hard to make everyone else miserable. Corazon just couldn't stay regulated. She couldn't (or wouldn't) even try and whined, pouted, and cried her way through the two days. They didn't manage to put too much of a damper in the day and were able to regroup long enough for us to do dinner, cake, and gifts.

The kids' gifts were quite lovely and very telling. Milagro had decided that she wanted to get me a heart necklace because she "loves me so much." I have a heart necklace (actually about a half dozen because Corazon has given them to me over the years) and C. was able to steer her toward buying me a cross (I had lost mine which I have worn for more than 20 years). She looks at the cross as touches it every chance she gets and say "I am soooo happy mom because I love you sooooo much." It is about the sweetest thing! Pollito and I "do coffee" two or three times each week so he had that on his mind and got me a coffee mug and coffee beans (all his own idea). He was so excited to give them to me and held on to the secret for two whole days, which for him is an absolute miracle. Corazon made me a necklace, another heart  :-) , and got me a little "Br**kstone desk fan because I am "always hot" :-(. She is my hypervigilant child and I am her obsession. She notices everything I say, do, like, etc. as long as it isn't any direct request or instruction to her.  Tortuga got me candy. Quite a bit of candy and gum. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but do like gum but I know that in his mind candy is about the greatest gift ever so I took it in the spirit in which it was offered.

I have so much else I want to write about but no time. Maybe I will be able to find a window as we hit the road...

By the way, that is my birthday cake!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One week and 250+ hugs later

One week and 250+ hugs later...

My daughters have each gotten manicures and pedicures from me, foot rubs (really giggle sessions) and hand massages. We discovered that vanilla-scented lotion is "better than eating ice cream!" and we baked banana bread to see us through several weekend breakfasts.

Corazon and I have played countless games of Scr*bble and Tr*uble, and Block*s, read for an hour from the same book while sitting side-by-side, had "coffee" while designing our own family logo, talked about puberty, periods, and body hair while cleaning a closet, and sat outside to watch a storm roll in.

Milagro and I played with her hand puppets, played with her baby dolls (I was the "babysitter"), went on a hunt for "Y sticks," and had a "screaming contest" to see who had the loudest, longest, softest and scariest yells. I lost each one of those contests but it was rigged since she was the judge. We also took a "pretend" nap on the couch, read "Please, Baby, Please" more than 20 times, and "cooked" dinner together.

My sons have each gotten manicures and pedicures and hand massages from me. They got the privilege of giving ME foot rubs (I have my lines!!!!!) We learned to play Wii bowling together.

Pollito and I jumped on the trampoline while singing at the top of our lungs, went grocery shopping "just ourselves," had breakfast together (just the two of us) and took pictures of each other making funny faces. I told him his birth, gotcha and adoption stories 7 or 8 times (twice during our grocery store run), and we built a new home for all his dinosaurs with legos (waaaaay longer than a 30 minute activity).  We have cuddled on the couch, fed each other m&ms, and made up a new lullaby just for him.

Tortuga and I sat back to back for 10-15 minutes and talked about something every. single. day. this past week. He brushed my hair and gave me a foot massage while I sang him ALL of the baby's lullabies that he could remember. I tucked him in one night and stayed until he fell asleep. We played Bl*ckus, looked through the beginning of his lifebook and started a new scrapbook for 2010, and made "fancy" paper airplanes then had a contest to see whose flew higher, longer and "better." He showed me 3 new magic tricks that he made up and I pretended not to know how they worked so he could explain them to me and he taught me how to "play" his guitar.

One week and 250+ hugs later...

I have counted the times this week that Milagro said "Excuse me mom, can you hold me?" and "I need you to hold me NOW!!!!" plus the times she threw her head up and kicked and screamed because she didn't, couldn't, wouldn't or shouldn't get whatever she wanted/needed.  This helped me gain a new appreciation for how hard negotiating life's realities can be for a "normal" child and wonder at how many times my older children felt and feel this way but haven't known how to ask or expected to get what they needed. I am greatly aware of how easy it is to hug, hold, and kiss my toddler and tell her all the reasons I love her. I am aware of how much I want to always feel this way about her. I thank the Creator for bringing her into my life to remind me how one's childhood should be and how much love and affection we all really need/want.
I have watched Pollito's eyes light up when I "sneak in" to wake him before everyone else is up even though he probably could have used the sleep. I have taken "time outs" with him when he wasn't playing nicely with his sister and used that as an opportunity to hear him tell me how hard it is to be nice when he doesn't want to be. (I could totally relate!) I am more aware of how often I don't take the opportunity to hug, hold, and tell him all the reasons I love him. I thank the Creator for bringing him into my life to remind me how important a parent's response and attitude is in making the worst feelings and consequences seem not so bad when there's someone there to help you through them.
I have witnessed Corazon's body totally melt into me as she spontaneously said "Mom I love you so much" and been able to see that love in her eyes. I am reminded that this was not always so. I am aware of how quickly my little girl is growing up and how fast time really has flown even though years with her have sometimes felt like hell. I am more aware of how often I don't take the opportunity to hug, hold, and tell her all the reasons I love her and all that makes her special. I am more mindful to thank her for all the things she does to help me and all the things that she teaches me about how to bet a better mom to her. I thank the Creator for bringing her into my life to remind me how important it is to parent in a purposeful manner and to notice not only what she tells me but what she doesn't say that is often so much more meaningful.
I have witnessed Tortuga's desperate need to be 2, 3, and 4 years old again and my equally desperate fight to make him grow up. I have seen him most at ease when he is playing with Milagro and her "baby" toys and truly realized that no one played with him like that. I have heard him say "I love you" and "that was so much fun, mom" with a genuine joy that hasn't been here very long. It feels like I am witnessing a caterpillar emerge from a cocoon and I am fighting with every ounce of my being to not rush that process along. I am finally letting myself get really angry for what he has missed out on and (if I am honest) for being the one who has to somehow rectify that. I am more aware of how often I don't take the opportunity to hug, hold, and tell him all the reasons I love him because I am often so caught up in the things that make me not like him very much. I am aware of how much easier it is to remember to hug him if I just "pick a tick" for the day and use that as the reason to give him a hug. I thank the Creator for bringing him into my life to remind me how important it is to show love to our children especially when they are being their most unlovable, unlikable selves.

One week and 250+ hugs later...

We are a "huggy" family to begin with but now we are aware of how much we want and need those hugs. Don't misunderstand and think this was a better week than most others. It wasn't. In some ways it was much worse but I don't know how to tackle that just yet. It has been a hard week. We have had all the usual ups and downs--fun moments, good laughs, family meals, walks, moments of discovery, quiet moments,  fights, meltdowns, tantrums, defiance, rudeness, meanness, and wishes for the day to end!  One thing that is different is that I have a new sense of deliberateness to how I want my children to feel every day as they interact with me no matter how lousy their behavior, attitude, or day has been. I am also more aware that I can do this even if sometimes it's the farthest thing from my mind and I have to "fake it" to get through it.

Thank you Christine. =D> You are amazing. ^:)^

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