Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to blogging

Wow, it's been a long time.
Wish I had some amazing story to tell -- but it's just been busy, busy, busy, leaving me little time to sit at the computer. Well except for work stuff. And after all the writing for work, there has been little energy, enthusiasm or time to write, well, just for me.
But I'm back. Hopefully.
School started this week, and both kids seem happy. I'm still not quite adjusted back to the schedule, but hopefully by Monday I'll feel back in the swing of things. I miss summer, though. It wasn't exactly relaxing, but we got away twice (beach in FL, beach in NC) and that was lovely. And in July we celebrated Chakisae being home for three years (and made lots of comments about how we can't believe it's been three years. On the other hand, she's so embedded in our lives, sometimes it's hard to imagine it's only been three years).
(Photos from Naples)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A new dog

We've gone nearly four years without a dog, which seems a long time, given that until our sweet old Koppel's death in the summer of 2005, I'd had a dog ever since I finished school. The kids really, really wanted a dog (Ben, of course, remembered Koppel, Kisae just loved the idea of a dog). I wanted a dog. Jim loves dogs but worried about the time and energy they require. But he finally decided okay.
So last week, we visited a rescue shelter -- thinking we'd just talk to them. But there was a small, cute Corgi mix who seemed to meet our requirements (gentle with kids, housebroken, okay home alone). And so now he is ours.
He is a small bundle of sweetness with the softest fur ever. The kids are head over heels about him. Kisae keeps saying, "I love him so much. Him legs so cute. Him bottom so cute. Him the best dog." Ben has better grammar but the same views.
His name is Murphy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Should we worry? (even a little?)

Been too busy, too stressed and too sick to blog for ages, but finally feel like jumping back in, so here goes.

As I've written perhaps before, Chakisae adores Ben and almost immediately upon joining our family latched onto him, sensing that he was the other kid, and she should be with him. One of her first words was "jump!," which she would wail when she spotted him on the backyard trampoline, and she hadn't been invited.

She often wants "same as Ben," right down to asking what he's having for breakfast before making her own decision. Though she often does make her own decisions -- there are times when I have this little tiny worry about her security or insecurity as it relates to her brother. Of course, I'm not sure that even makes sense.

But consider: She and Ben were both drawing pictures on "big paper." I praised her picture; I praised Ben's. Ben was done, however, and she was still working.

Chakisae got furious. She thought we didn't like hers; that it wasn't as good as Ben's (which, though we didn't this, was pretty nuts, since her brother only draws quick, crazy Godzillas, and she actually loves to draw and seems to have some talent in that area, in the 4-year-old kind of way).

But she would not be mollified. Instead, she got out another piece of paper and proceeded to copy Ben's big crazy Godzilla. She would not eat until she was done; she even wanted to copy his name (it was in cursive, so she didn't recognize it).

We were a) kind of amazed at her copying skills and her perseverance but b) just sorta/kinda wondering if this "same as Ben" attitude should give us pause.

Well, actually it's me that wonders this. I don't think Jim worries about this at all.

Of course, some older brother adoration is normal. Is changing your shirt so you're both wearing the shirts Gramps sent? Is agreeing to decorate your face like his with magic marker? (yeah, probably). But what about refusing to go to lunch with Grandma unless Ben comes, too? Or wondering, when Ben is at a friend's house for dinner, if he is lonely without us (as if!).

Maybe this is all normal. But I wonder, just sometimes, if it is some sign of an adoption insecurity, although I can't quite put my finger on just what it would mean.

Which maybe means it is nothing more than that she really, truly adores her older brother. And that is pretty wonderful.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A play date planned

As I was cooking dinner last night, Kisae was at her usual spot on a stool at the kitchen counter. She was writing out the ABC's, as usual, and talking, the conversation bouncing around as conversations with 4-year-old's usually do.

And then quite unexpectedly she told me she was going to write a letter to Barack Obama. Because she wanted to ask him, "I play with his girls?"

So she got a new sheet of paper and told me she was going to write, "Dear Barack Obama. I go to your house and play with your children?"

She didn't, of course, write those sentences. But she did insist I tell her how to spell Barack and Malia and Sascha and then the word "president," and she wrote those out very carefully, in her lopsided but oh-so-cute, 4-year-old hand.

I think she figures her White House play date is all but set.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bad mom moment

Let's just say that your kid is having a bit of problem with talking too much in school. And let's say that you are aware of this problem and, while it is not a crisis, it worries you.

So let's say that a certain Tuesday was particularly bad and the "infraction" notice sent home indicated that, once again, there was talking when there should not have been. And then let's say that on Wednesday you hoped for better. And that Wednesday afternoon, just as school was ending, your cell phone rang. And it was your kid's enrichment teacher -- and he'd been in enrichment that day. And your heart sinks and you brace yourself for the bad news about bad behavior.

But it is not that.

No let's say that the teacher is upset because your child burned his fingers on a hot glue gun. And she feels bad and she is (clearly) worried that you are going to be mad that he was even using a hot glue gun (to build a bridge from Popsicle sticks).

But let's say you do not feel mad. Not at all. You feel just RELIEF. He is only burned! (and not that badly). He did not get in trouble for talking. Whew, whew, whew.

Oh, you do inquire about the burned finger and because you have to run to the school later anyway, you say you will stop by and check in on him at his after-school program (and the errand to the school is to drop off food for a family dealing with unimaginable tragedy, which is always a good reminder that there is far, far worse out there and our little problems are mostly, well, little). When you stop by, your child is fine.

So again, you are relieved -- but honestly mostly because there wasn't too much talking, not so much about the finger.

And then you think, you got a call that your child was hurt and all you felt was relief? Bad mom, moment, right?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adoption, explained in crayons

Kisae loves to draw, so it's not surprising that when I pick her up at preschool her cubby contains pictures she made that day.

She had three little crayon drawings in her cubby on Tuesday. I was surprised only when she described one of them to me.

"That's you getting me," she said. "That's my house a long time ago."

The drawing showed something like a hut and then me reaching down to pick up her up. The crayon baby seemed to be in some kind of bassinet. Kisae explained that this was when she was a "tiny baby." The next picture was of just me and her and the last of the whole family but still when she was tiny.

At her age it's hard to know how much she processes about her adoption or how much she thinks about it. So I was totally surprised, maybe even taken aback, that she described it in crayon -- while at school.

It was sweet, and I think it's good that she's trying to understand the things we've told her. She described the pictures while we were in the car. I had to wait until a red light to turn around and look at them. They were so sweet. Truthfully, they made my eyes well up just a little bit.

(The scans, by the way, are pretty faded. Oh well).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter jackets? Ice on the windshields? Our brief freeze (but today high of 76. Ah).

The temperatures dropped this week for about three days, dipping below freezing three nights in a row.

I grew up in NY and went to college in upstate NY, so it's not like I cannot deal. But frankly, I've just grown used to warmer temps. And now, I found it mostly just a hassle to (for a few days) dig out jackets and sweaters and drag in plants or cover them with sheets and towels.

And I was downright puzzled about what to do when I went out to the car one morning with Kisae and discovered a sheet of ice on the windshield. Of course, I don't own a scraper. So I just waited until the heat cranked up and the ice melted.

The kids weren't initially thrilled with the whole jacket thing, though when they felt the cool air and saw the frost on the grass, they agreed. The first freezing morning, Ben wanted to call his Colorado cousins and tell them it was 32 degrees. I had to stop him because a)it was 6 a.m. there and b)I knew such weather news would be hardly, well, news to them.

Anyway, the freeze is over. We had a lovely, sunny and in the 70s, weekend. My geraniums and pansies went back outside - still blooming.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Would-be stars on ice

Ben has been interested for some time in learning to play ice hockey. Probably because Jim loves -- and sometimes plays -- this sport. But as a Florida boy, he's had limited opportunities to skate, much less learn to play hockey. In fact, his first three times on the ice took place in Colorado when we were visiting my brother' s family.

Still, this summer when his camp went ice skating he came back saying he was the best one on the ice. Of course, I did get him to admit that he was practically the only kid who'd ever been skating before that camp trip.

Well recently we took the kids to the holiday ice skating rink UCF had set up at Christmas time. Ben was thrilled -- and really not bad for a kid who was skating for only the sixth time in his life -- and came back determined to try hockey.

So Jim signed up for a "learn to play hockey" program at the one (that I know about anyway) rink in Orlando. Of course, in typical fashion Ben immediately started talking about making the competitive/traveling hockey team! We had to explain that first he had to pass through the "learn to skate" program, then he would move into "learn to play hockey," then maybe a chance to sign up for a recreational team and after that, some older kids played on the traveling team.

At least the kid dreams big. Anyway, the classes started this afternoon. Jim said he's doing well, but still needs to learn to stop. Yeah, the basics.

Chakisae skated at the holiday rink (her first time) and loved it, so I was a bit worried she'd be upset that she wasn't in the "learn to skate" program, too. But she wanted to go watch Ben today and didn't seem to mind she wasn't on the ice -- yet. Though Jim is now taken with the idea that we could sign her up, too, and maybe she'd be the first female Ethiopian hockey player. Hmm.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Donuts guys

has decided she loves donuts.

"I a huge fan of donuts, and Daddy a huge fan of donuts," she explained to me the other day.

At age 4, she has clearly figured out who is responsible for the junk food in this house.

Daddy, she added, is her "donut guy."

New Year (no resolutions but maybe a few wishes)

We had a lovely end to 2008, though I'm not sure I'd call the year itself lovely.

Too much upheaval and angst at work; too much worry/stress about Ben, though I think we're on the upside of that issue (I hope).

Maybe that is why I had no desire to do anything on New Year's Eve but stay home and hang out with the family. We decided to have just a collection of appetizer/sampler type things for dinner. Ben requested latkas. Jim wanted "summer rolls" from our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I would have grabbed some misr wat and injera but our only Ethiopian restaurant is too far away for a quick takeout run. We added some coconut shrimp and some plantains to our little international feast (also some strawberries, just to be sorta healthy).

Jim put the folding table on the patio (ah, Florida, it was a beautiful night), and we ate under the lovely glow of Mr. Tacky (our inflatable snowman).

Really, it was perfect. Than we watched Bednobs and Broomsticks, which the kids loved, though Ben expressed grave doubts when I showed him my movie selection (when will that kid learn that Mom knows things?).

We had friends over for brunch the next day, which was a low-key, enjoyable start to 2009.

I discussed resolutions with my family -- very small ones, like we'll all make our beds every day -- but no one seem interested. I think the direct quote was, "That's not going to happen."

I guess I could make it happen, but it's just not a battle I feel like waging right now.

So we head into 2009, not with a list of resolutions but just hopes that things are a little calmer, a little more upbeat -- and with the realization that many people have had a far, far rougher 2008 than we did. We are all basically healthy. Our house may be too small (in my eyes) but our mortgage is reasonable and fixed; our work may be in transition but we remain employed. We are together.

So hello 2009.