Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Bday Dad!

Happy Birthday to my Dad!

He is 78 years old today!

I think it's kind of special to have a birthday on New Year's Eve.
And it has made the day special to me, forever...because it's just my dad's day.
I love my dad.

He is generous and loves fiercely but quietly.
He is my riding buddy, we rode all over the desert and discussed both the family and the world's issues.
I think we solved them all...most of them at any rate.
He taught me about running (he has completed many marathons and even multiple ultra-marathons) and life in general.
My dad is all about perseverance.
I got that from him.
Thank goodness!

He has my, or I have his, sugar tooth.
And the same diabetes, bummer.
We both love coffee, good strong coffee.
We both love mexican food and horses.
He is opinionated.
He is loyal, utterly.
His family is first, in everything.
He loves to read and to fall asleep early.
He is an early bird.
I would say I am much like him in all these traits...
But Dad is also meticulous, methodical, and all about order.
So, that is clearly where we diverge!

But I miss him today, well most days,
but I wish I could hug him in person, today,
and share a cup of coffee over the paper.
And yeah, I'm making tamales - his favorite - and the tradition for today.

I love you Dad!
Happy Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

I think the girls had fun for their birthdays! 
Baby Alive twins, Fur Real Friends, Barbie Mania.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Miss M!

Happy bday Miss M!
Today you are eleven!

I am so happy for you, I think you are ready for eleven.
Ten was good, but I suspect that eleven will be even better.
And yeah, I can't believe you are eleven already!

As you have told me, more than once, you are not just the usual eleven year old girl!

You are so right: you are remarkable.
You have the biggest heart I've ever seen, and an old soul.
You have more compassion, built in, than most folks I've ever met.

You worry and fret like an old lady, but in a good way.
You carry the burdens of others, sometimes too much.

You might tend toward a little bit of moodiness, but it's tempered by your love of a good joke.
I love it that I can almost always coax a smile out of your frown.
You are stronger than most, physically, but also in your character.
God has made you strong for big things ahead, I suspect.

You are a little mamacita, and you help me so much!
You love dolls though, still...and I love that you and your sister can play dolls for hours.
You still are crazy for mermaids!
You are a sophisticated eater, I love that.
You love coffee, almost as much as I do!
And that Latte Blast cake for your bday tonight?....YUM.
You are such a homeboday, and a great companion....
even as  you have already started traveling the world.

Eleven will be a good year, I know it.
You are becoming a great beauty, inside and out.
We are SO proud of you!
I hope all your  birthday wishes come true.
We love  you so very much.

Happy Happy Bday to my girl!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Birthday Baby Girl!

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas to my Sbird!!
Eleven years old already!

My best Christmas present, ever!

It is such a special thing to have a Christmas birthday...but I know it doesn't always feel like it is. 
It feels like it can be forgotten in all the wrapping and busy and fun.
But it will never be forgotten.
It wouldn't even feel like Christmas now, without your birthday streamers and princess cake!
You, my sweet bird, are so special to me. To us.  To our family.

You, and your Christmas birthday, makes our Christmas extra special.
You are a remarkable young girl.
You are so strong, and work so hard.
You have a sweet good heart.
You try your hardest, every day.
And even when you get so mad sometimes, you always come back and make up with me.

You have a loving caring spirit.
You love to take care of smaller kids and are so good with babies.
You hate to see anyone or anything get hurt.
You love to sew and to make things.
You have an imagination and creativity as big as the Milky Way.

You are now eleven.
You, my tiniest baby, are growing so big...real double digits.
You have some big adventures, right ahead!
But even so you give me the best "morning squeeze" when we are up early in the kitchen.
And you still love playing dolls with  your sister, for hours at a time. 
I love that about you girls.

We love you so very much, our Sbird.
I think you are wonder-full.
We wish you the happiest of birthdays.
We wish for your birthday wishes to come true.
Even if it means that pineapple farm in Hawaii!

Happy Happy Bday Sbird!

We love you and are so proud of you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday


O Tannenbaum, part deux.

Decorating the tree (it turned out more, um, "petite" than expected, but still pretty)
with the traditional hot chocolate by the twinkling lights after.

Ah, tradition.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O tannenbaum!

So, Sunday was the big Christmas tree expedition.  My husband, otherwise known as Coffeedoc, is a bit of a maniac about some things.  So he has decided that it is not properly Christmas without an "over the river and through the woods" sort of cut the tree.

See that snow? That's because in order to CUT (not buy, he doesn't want them precut in November because he is also a maniac about keeping that tree up until epiphany - or beyond) the tree that I like (Frasier Fir), he has to drive over three hours.  Now, before you go and think I am a completely outrageous diva for demanding this...let me clarify.  I NEVER ASKED him to schlep drive so far for a tree.  I am, always, just happy to have a tree, any tree (though preferably not pine....oops, a diva slippage)

Anyhow, it is becoming something of a new tradition and I kind of like it.  But then again, I get to stay home and wrap presents and hang out with Miss M and Gabey Baby.  A very lovely relaxing day for us.  And while there IS a certain level of grouchiness as they all set out on the expedition, ahem, it makes for a good snowball fight once they are there.

It was Marta's first time with snow,  and snowballs.  It was cold, fun, exhausting...and they came home with a pretty tree.  So, now, it's beginning to look a lot more like Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dark into Light

It's the "shortest"day of the year.  The least amount of daylight, the longest night.

And it's perfect timing I'd say.   No only because today has been metaphorically a darker day - a slamming day filled with tantrums, sulks, and intensive parenting...but because it's when I begin to crave the light when the dark is too long.  We are made for it.  I need it, on so many levels.  From the purely physical level of dismay,"Gosh how can it  be dark already?" to the mildy fussy blue overtone of my mood for the day.  I am craving more light, both inside and out. 

That, that craving, is really what Advent is all about, it's what it's made for.  So too, we are made for the light to a few days.  Christmas is almost here, Advent is waning.  The dark night is long, and these last few days it's nice to have that anticipation built in - even to our world's own nature, and ours.

Yes.  I'm ready for Christmas.  Not ready, yet, for the details of the day....soon, soon.  But for the main event? You betcha.  I'm ready.  Today, the shortest day of the year, we get one big step closer to it.  Each day, a tiny incremental bit brighter, longer.  And then, it's Christmas day and that Light only continues to lengthen and grow.  One of my favorite Christmas, or more accurately, Advent hymns is "O Come Emmanuel," and now, just yesterday, does our Church begin to sing anticipation. 
I can't wait.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The turn-keys: Tears

So, here we are again.  Turn-keys.  Those things that I'm finding to be critical, yeah - Key - to our adjustment with this older child adoption. I've written about a couple already, here, and here.  And now, I want to write about another: Tears.

What? Tears?
How can those be so important?
Well, they are.
Yeah, it surprises me too.

I am learning that those tears are very important, critical, on different levels and in different ways.  Those tears are part of the adjusting, and I am not sure you can really adjust to all the new of an adoption without them.  And those tears are for everyone, of course.  Because each person in the family needs process the intensity of the changes and the building of new relationships. Now I'll spare  you the blathering about the tears of the rest of us: the jealous tears, the overwhelmed, the frazzled, the blue ones (yeah, it's tough on moms too).  Those are fodder for a different post.

With a younger child, toddler or infant adoption, there are also many tears.  They are also critical to the adjustment process.  But they are easier to parse out, to understand.  They are typically more, not completely, but a bit more developmentally tracked and explained.  They are simpler because the child is still slightly simpler.  No less heartbreaking, but easier to console and repair.   The tears of the turn-key I'm talking about here are the tears of the older adopted child.  In this case, our daughter.

It's hard to sort through all this coherently.  But I'll give it a go.
It seems like it wouldn't be complex, I mean, it's crying, right?
Crying is a no brainer.
Kids cry all the time.
They cry, you console.
Except, not.

When an adjusting older child cries, honestly, at first you kind of brace yourself in dread.  You wonder, and fear a little bit, is this going to slip into something bad?  Is it going to blow in like a hurricane - tank the day? Because you don't know this child so intimately yet. You haven't always seen this before.  And you know the potential.  So, you brace for it.....whatever IT is.  And sometimes, it IS something very hard: rage, deep scarred grief, irrational fear.  Sometimes, it's just overwhelmed or misconception or misunderstanding.  Sometimes, it's just mundane, but ever so powerful, hormones.  Or lack of sleep.  Or an incoming virus.  It's all over the map, crying.  Tears. 

Even so.  It's all good.  Seems counter intuitive.  Our (ok, my) first reaction might, or is, naturally to wish it away, to sigh, to find the fastest way around it all.  But, that's not necessarily the answer either.  Those tears are important.  If this child is grieving the life they left behind, no matter if that seems unlikely as that life might have been very very harsh, then that grieving must be done.  It's valid; that life was what they knew, loved (some parts) and grew to themselves in. 

It's all too easy to think of grief as a 'hanging on' to something.  It is and it isn't.  When done right, it's a 'hanging on' to the good, and letting go of the bad.  It's ok to miss the ones or the place  you loved.  And that can totally jive with learning to love new ones or new places.  But, I don't think it can be done without the tears of it.

Then there are the tears of rage and grief of the hurt - for both old and new hard things.  Those are kind of scary - for everyone.  And it's so hard to know how to help.  And I"m not sure there is any way to really truly help - at least in the overt sense.  You can't fix it.  I can't fix it, or what has happened.  But you/I can BE there.  Just be there.  Hold on to them, sit next to them, let yourself get their tears dripped onto you.
That, that mess, is a fix.  It's the only and best one.  Because you are there, they are not alone, and you're not gonna run away from it.  And so, it gets less scary, for both of you.  But, oh, those tears...they hurt.  Both of you. 

Then there are the new tears.  These are the tears that can be both wonderful and frustrating.  The frustrating ones are the ones that you, and maybe she, doesn't understand.  They just kind of spring up....from a misunderstanding, frazzled nerves, hormones.  From being a teen girl.  From sensory overload in a new country.   From language gap, culture gap....all sorts of gaps. Those too, mostly just need a little time, maybe a little space, maybe a time to hold or sit nearby.  They need to wash away....the weary effort, the bruised feelings.  And they do.  

Way back, oh 85 years or so ago, I learned in science class that water is the universal solvent.  Well, I would say that the water shed in tears, when you are talking about an older child adoption and adjusting, is one of the universal glues.  Can be.  Maybe not always (I'm talking about us, here, always, ever...that's all I know), but oh so often they are.  These tears are bonding.  The happy over the top joyful tears...they are  just fun.  They pull you all in with a grin.  But the other kind....It's hard not to care about a child who is sobbing next to you (even when you wish it weren't so).  For the child to allow you to see them, hold them, at their most vulnerable....that is the beginning of trust.  For you to sit with them, hold them, get soaked by their tears...console them.  That is the beginning of family. 

A few days ago, a sibling moment occurred.  It was a pretty typical moment - if had happened between most of the kids.  However, it was the first between Marta and another.  And it was a a flash.  But, it cut to the quick for her.  It launched one of those tear spilling, walking away times.  It meant the evening would now be redirected.  And it was.  But, it was one of those turn-key times.  Because as I consoled Marta and talked to her about what happened, she slowly sat up in bed and hugged her pillow to her.  Then Bananas came in and flopped on her bed on the other side of the room they share.  And she saw Marta, still crying.  I said, "Has this happened to you?"  And Bananas laughed and said, "Oh yeah!  See, Marta, it's like this....." and she went on to act out the same interaction with the same sib.

And very soon, Marta was laughing with us as she snuffled up her tears, eyes red rimmed.  And I froze the moment in my mind.  These tears were healing.  These tears were bonding.  These tears were typical of any sibling scuffle.  And this image, two sisters laughing about a sib, both on their beds in pj's, while one allowed us to see her snuffling and gulping a bit as she came to calm, the other trying  hard to make her laugh and move on...that's a FAMILY.  That's what happens in families.  So, yeah, these tears: they helped turn a bit closer to family.  And I am grateful for even this tough turn-key.  Another one made of gold.