Saturday, April 23, 2016

Oct 2014

Hi all,
Halloween was tons of fun.  Geri came up to meet the new baby Murielle (new cousins are awesome!) and trick or treat with us.  Suddenly it's fall and the temps are colder and we get to break out the gloves and hats.  I love this time of year.  The days are darker and the feeling is more calm and subdued. Maybe that's why I like it. It's calm like me. 

It was Bek Day and Rin was excited to be the first one to tell him Happy Adoption Day.  We went to rouse him for school and his hair looked like Cindyloo Who.  But even cuter if that’s possible.  After going out to dinner at Bek’s favorite place that night, Uncle Julio’s, we got GTown Cupcakes.  I hope my little Who felt special because we think he’s pretty fantastic. 

Rin has turned into this lovely amazing loving calm(ish) child who is an absolute delight to be around.  Not that he hasn't always been wonderful but something in him has clicked and I think that maybe it has to do with him being more self aware.  He now will tell me when he's tired or hungry.  And when he is upset, he is able to better get himself under control by taking deep breaths or stepping away from the situation.  He is loving and kind to both his parents and his brother.  It is amazing.  Oh, and if he stays up late, he will actually sleep in so it doesn't ruin the next day with neverending meltdowns.  It is like the clouds have parted and the sun in shining down on our perfect life.  I am also realizing that he is more sensory dependent than I realized.  Those meltdowns that he was always having I now know is a part of his sensory sensitivities and is completely normal.  As is the hyperactivity in new or chaotic situations.  It's not bad behavior, it's how he copes.  And when he melts down and goes to his room to turn on his sound machine as loud as possible and crawl under the covers, it's good.  It's his safe place, his cocoon.  And I wish that maybe I had known more about his sensory issue when he was younger and perhaps I could have helped him develop his coping mechanisms a little bit better but I guess better late than never.  Learning about it is giving me more patience and understanding when he reacts the way he sometimes does.  And it is making me not take it so personally that he didn't want to cuddle or that he fixates on things instead of listening to me.  It is not normal for me but it is for him and that's OK.  Difference is what makes the world interesting.   

And some things I don’t want to forget…
Asking for a brother.  Another one.  Constantly.  Used to be a sister but I guess girls have cooties now.

Do you want some pineapple with your lunch?  "No, it not a pineapple kind of day”
Letting him win the buckle race every time.
I tell him that he needs to wear shoes.  "We'll have to see about that"

Love to all, -m 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sept 2014

Hi all,
We had the worst first week of school in the history of parenting.  OK so no one died so I guess technically it could be worse but this is one that goes down in history- the tale that gets told and retold by friends and family for a lifetime.  Let me just share the email I sent to my little brother who was excited about my upcoming visit to meet my new niece Freya:

So guys, let me tell you about the last five days of my life.  Sorry it's so long but we've been busy.  And not in a good way...  

On Thursday, on the way to pick up Rin from school, Bek started puking all over the back of my car.  After getting him back home, cleaning him up, cleaning up all subsequent barf, and getting him to bed a few hours later, I asked Rinat how he felt.  "Well, um, my head really itches."  Fuuuuuuuuck.  Yup, he had lice.  And so did everyone in the family.  We have been shampooing and combing over and over and over for HOURS twice a day since Thursday with this enzyme shampoo foam crap.  And I took every pillow, sheet, towel, stuffed animal, hat, dress-up clothes in the house and either washed them every day on sanitary (that’s 11 loads a day and each load takes about 1&½ hour to wash and an hour to dry- do the math), bagged them, or took them to the dry cleaners.  Then- even though I haven't found any actual bugs (just nits) on anyone since Saturday- I was still going insane thinking I still had them and scratching nonstop so I decided on Sunday morning to just suck it up and pay a million dollars to have a service treat us all and I make an appointment for Monday morning- agreeing to holiday rates ($120/hour X about 7).  But no, Sunday night Bek had diarrhea all over the place (yes, the floor, his hands, and the wall too!) and I once again got him taken care of and down to sleep and think that perhaps all will be well in the morning and we can still make our appointment.  But no because at 11pm Peter starts barfing.  Awesomeness.  I get maybe 3 hours of sleep, cancel our appointment and search online for what else to do.  I get up, get the kids breakfast, and all is well.  I am just about to walk out and head to CVS to get Nix and food and jello when Rin says "I think I might barf."  So yup, now it's his turn.  He at least is able to make it to the toilet in time but now I'm stuck at home for at least several more hours taking care of the barf and poo crew.  But then the angels sang from above when Mer called to check on me and I told her what was going on and she came over with 3 bags of Nix, lice combs, candy, and magazines from CVS, 5 bags of groceries appropriate for the throwup bug, and 2 bags of toys from her house for the kids because, of course, they have not been able to leave the house for 4 days now and are going insane as am I.  But finally today (Tuesday) I think we might be good.  I have sent both kids to school (yes, I know technically I am supposed to wait 24 hours before sending Rin back after barfing but I just couldn't and he said he felt fine) and I am crossing my fingers they are both fine today.  Anyway, what this boils down to is that I am going to keep checking our heads for lice and if I find any I am going to have to cancel my trip out to Seattle  :(  And, of course, if you are uncomfortable with me being there even if I don't find anything between now and then I totally understand and I am happy to come another time.  Just say the word.  I know Liz won't be on leave soon but maybe we could find a time when she has a couple of days off.  Anyway, you guys talk and let me know what you think.  Oh, and I have jury duty tomorrow too so if I get picked (not likely) I might have to cancel too.  Or if I start barfing.
I'm so frigging tired right now.
Bye, -m  

And hours after sending that email- was there ever any doubt?- I started barfing.  I threw up for 18 hours straight and it took me a week to get over it.  Talk about a horrible start to the school year.  But hopefully that means that we’re all done with the bad luck for the year. *sound of me knocking on wood*

Some notes on Rin this month:
“It's not that we don't HAVE the money, it's that we don't want to spend it on this particular thing.”  He is listening to what I say after all!
Being Rin’s mom has made me so much more self aware.  After researching his need to constant stimulation, I realized some things about myself. I realized that noise stresses me out, that I need time by myself, that I like calm and quiet.  And I realized that as far as that goes, he is my opposite. But that’s not a negative.  Peter’s my opposite too and that’s worked out pretty well so far I think.  I’m pretty sure he thinks so too J
So this morning at breakfast, Rinat told me "I snuggled with Bek this morning."  Huh?  He said he was up and went to the bathroom and stuck his head in and Bek requested he snuggle, so he climbed in bed and snuggled with him for a while and they talked.  All I can say to that is AWWWWW.  That is the sweetest thing that I have ever heard.  That is one good kid.  Love those boys.
PS- those are salamanders from our backyard above.  Cool, huh?

Some notes on Bek this month:
Aibek starting lacrosse is the funniest thing ever. He is such a hambone and is really more interested in entertaining the teachers than actually doing it right but he does sometimes give it a good try. On the first day they were working on scooping the ball up with the stick and he tried and had trouble so one of the coaches came and gave him some tips and then told him to give it a try on his own and went off to help someone else. Well sure enough he tried and tried until he finally scooped it up and he was so excited that he ran up and interrupts the coach helping someone and told her "I did it!" And she told him that he did a good job but he wouldn't let her turn back around to help the other kid until he had gotten a high five from her. Everyone chuckled at that. But I'm not completely sure he has that fighter instinct that is essential to competitive sports. He's just so good natured that if he and another kid go for the ball at the same time, he literally stops and lets them get it. He is that kid in the outfield who is too busy chasing butterflies to catch that fly ball that comes his way. I love it. Because to be honest, I don't really care if he's good at sports, I just care that he has fun. Now school is another story and I have a feeling that we will face some hurdles there but we'll see.  But for now I’m loving that I have a Ferdinand the Bull in the house.

And I did actually get a chance to redo my trip to Seattle and it was great.  I had 5 whole days where it was just me and Ted’s fam and it was both wonderful and weird (because- you know- I had no kids saying Mommy nonstop). We mostly hung out and just enjoyed each other's company but we also did some wandering around and some eating yummy food and some stomping around parks. It was good. And I spent some time snuggling baby Freya and making towers with Oscar. And I also harassed my travel partners to start thinking about traveling somewhere again (we have been to India, Turkey, Thailand and Cambodia together as well as Ted and I wandering around Europe for a couple of months back in 1999). Rent a house for a month in Tahiti? Let's do it. Head to somewhere the kids can run free and be kids? I'm in. They are not there quite yet but I have high hopes.  So maybe one day we will. Or maybe when that sad empty nest comes then we will once again find the time and energy to explore like we did before. But really I just wish we all lived closer together so we could see each other more often. But, um, check out that gorgeous sunrise from their living room.  *Swoon*

But I guess I’ll just have to soak up the time we do have when we’re together and look forward to our next trip when we’re apart. 
Love to all, -m

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Aug 2014

Hi all, 
Rin is getting so darn old.  He’s to the age now when a lot of my childhood memories start.  Things like losing his front teeth.  Don’t you remember when you had that front gap?  It’s so weird to think that he’s there already.  Rin's tooth was looking a little bit wonky one day and he yelled from downstairs "Mom. My tooth fell out." like it wasn't a huge deal.  He's an old pro at this now.  But it's the last gap my sweet boy is going to have and then he'll have those big buck teeth that little boys get before they have the big mouths to fit them.  He's getting hair on his legs and he's starting to fill out some so the little boy is rapidly disappearing and being replaced by a little man.  I have a little man living in my house and it’s freaking me out.  

August was the big family get together at the beach in NC.  After a long drive, we stopped by the airport to grab Mom and then made our way the last 30 minutes to the beach house to meet everyone else.  We were greeted by homemade BBQ and cold beers by Walt and Nan which was so welcome after our time in the car.  The cousins couldn’t have been more excited to see each other and were rolling all over each other on the floor like a bunch of puppies and just jumping right back into where we had last left them. 

The highlight from the week was, of course, family but these are some of the others:
Catching giant creepy sand fleas to use as bait
Surf fishing
Group Rainbow Looming
Amazing storm with lightening that we could watch over the ocean
Ice cream in the rain
Boogie boarding so much that we had to buy more
Fabulous weather
Cousin Emma coming to hang out
Fishing charter with the boys
A perfect day at the beach with no giant waves, swimming out in the sea
A night out to dinner followed by Brit’s Donuts and fireworks watched out on the balcony
Taking a stroll down the beach in the dark
This small child of mine is an absolute fish.  While I was struggling to stay on my feet as waves crashed, he was happily diving right into it and coming up with a smile. 
Rinat has really enjoyed it all- the waves, the beach, the fishing, the sand, but most of all I think he’s enjoyed the friendship of his cousins and their friends. 

The last night we were there, Nan cooked up the fish that the kids had bought home from fishing and then was the talent show.  The kids had been looking forward to it all week long and asking each other what their talent was going to be.  Walt decided on his standby- the duck call using his hands.  Sutton did, among other things- a puppet show with Nan about a pirate who also sang the song from Muppet Treasure Island Yo Ho Ho.  Sarah played Twinkle Twinkly on her guitar.  There were exercise demonstrations and stories and Me and Peter doing karaoke.  Grandma Shay did a Komishebai (story with pictures) of how she got to school every morning when they lived in Japan- the bike, the train, the bus.  And how they got to Japan via car, train, and boat.  And the grand finale was Rinat showing everyone how to make a fishing lure (big surprise).  That kid is not short on confidence. 

Our final day of fun and started with a rainbow.  The weather was hot and the sea was fantastic.  We ate up all the food from the fridge, we stopped trying to wash dirty clothes and instead just started piling them up to pack away.
I sit here in the post-lunch calm of them playing together when all the bellies are full and the eyes are at half mast.  Sam is at the table working on his summer project for school while the others play quietly in the fort they made in the loft or they play a game of Oldie Maid with the Garfield playing cards someone brought.  They are off in twos and threes and I hate to pull them away but the beach is calling and the hours are counting down until the beach is no longer an option.  And then we will all go our separate ways and the monotony and excitement of a new school year begins.  There will be tears and goodbyes and we’ll see you soons.  As we drive back home to DC with the kids asleep in the backseat, my body still feels the back and forth pull of the ocean and though we have left it, it hasn’t left me.  Not quite yet.

And a day after we got home, it was the first day of school.  This was the summer of bedtimes that were thrown out the window and sugar cereal eaten for breakfast.  It was hard to get back into the swing of things but a new school year is always exciting so we hopped right up and got going.  Rin had an uncharacteristically nervous look on his face and was very quiet.  Maybe because he only knew two of the other kids.  Maybe because he thought it might be harder this year.  He told me that this year he is going to sit quietly at his desk.  That he is going to be organized this year and keep everything neat in his desk.  It's his goal.  And he has started wanting to make his bed and keep his room neat too. But he was super excited and was really looking forward to school starting and being in a class without the kids that kept getting in trouble last year.  His first grade year was tough with his teacher getting sick and ultimately passing away.  There was a parade of subs before hiring a student teacher.  I am crossing my fingers that his teacher this year has no issues and is there day in a day out for the entire year.  Most of all I hope that he enjoys learning as much as I do and retains his curiosity about the world and that the teacher fosters it. 

One the second day Rin said "It's going to be the best year EVER!"  No one can call him understated, that's for sure.  For his Me Bag, he brought a fishing bait, a photo of a fish he caught this summer, and a photo of Bubby to share with the class.  Did he want a photo of the rest of us?  Nope, he did not.  Oh well, good thing I know he loves us anyway.  Although sometimes he doesn’t make it 100% clear.  But at least he’ll day "I'm wiping off the slobber, not the kiss" when he gets a smooch from his little bro.  And really I do know he loves us all tons.  And we love him right back.  Especially when he says stuff like this:
"Mom, I'm not gonna get married"  
OK so no kids then?  That’s too bad.  Kids are fun.  
"Yeah, I like kids even though I don't want a wife.  I'll adopt them.  From Kazakhstan of course."

For Bek, the first day was sort of a non event since he has the same teacher in the same room.  Most of the kids in his class are new though which I think is good so that he'll have to take on more of the role of being the expert at things.  I know he can step up to the plate. This is the last time I am ever likely to have a preschooler and it’s both a relief and also really sad.  The time when they are young goes by so amazingly quickly and I find myself wishing I could just hold onto it just a little bit longer.  But he’s always telling me “You my best mommy” and I just can’t get enough of it.

We went for his Post Op visit at the ENT.  It was all of 15 seconds and the doc said all is well.  I have seen so many changes since the surgery- he sleeps less, he doesn’t fall asleep during dinner or always in the car.  He is talking more and better and can actually make the sounds when I correct him.  But most important of all, I have noticed that he is just more alert in general.  Before, when I would ask if he remembered what happened in a story we read yesterday he’d say “I dunno.”  But now, he not only remembers but tells all sorts of details about the story.  And instead of scribbling, he draws people with eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, feet, hands, legs.  I’m sure some of this is just due to him getting older but really it was like it was overnight.  It was like someone waved a magic wand.  I think it’s the quality of sleep he is getting.  And it makes me so happy that he is interested in things now. 

We have spent hours at the park so far.  The big boys might not want to play on the equipment but they sure have fun running around like maniacs and hiding in the 'forest' and digging at the 'creek'.  I need to bring a soccer ball or something next time for a game.  What to sign him up for after school?  Apparently I was supposed to do the soccer signup last May- yup, May- so that's out.  He doesn't seem super into lacrosse but I might sign him up anyway.  I think he might also do a Spontaneous Challenge (sort of like Odyssey of the Mind) with the Great Adventure Lab at school and maybe an MSA sport like soccer or hockey or tennis.  I dunno.  He says he doesn't want to sign up for anything but I know none of his friends will be around after school because they are all signed up for stuff.  And I want to keep him off the Minecraft to it's either park or signups.  I think I might sign little Beks up for either lax or ice skating too.  He needs something going on also I think.  And I'm sure we'll do speech at some point but I'll give it another month.  Gotta let his little throat heal for a while.

Love to all, -m

July 2014

 Hi All,
So we are back from KP and on to the lake.  As usual, we were so excited to get on our way and settle into lake life.  The sort of life that is calmer and slower.  This is a place where there are Poptarts for breakfast and cookies for lunch.  Where bedtimes are forgotten about and a dip in the lake counts as a shower.  I sit and I watch my sweet boys as they fearlessly jump from the dock and spend hours trying to catch that elusive fish which finally comes with the biggest smile imaginable.  In short, it's heaven. I love hearing the kids play with Peter. He sets the work aside and gives them his full attention and they soak it up.

Rinat kept at the fishing thing for hours and hours. This kid is tenacious. It might make him a challenge to raise because he keeps at it like a dog with a rat, but it sure will serve him well as an adult in the work world. Hard work is no problem for him. He just perseveres. Aibek is just a little charmer and wins people over and gets them to fall all over themselves to put a smile on his face. He has this way of getting out of trouble just with a look that makes everyone laugh and diffuses the situation. 

One day while we were there, the Petty’s came to play. There was fish hunting. And there was pirate ship pretending. I just love their pretend play and how they all work together to make the magic happen.  They had so much fun and for an entire day everyone got along.  All five of them just had an all out blast.  And all four adults too.   

Then Peter had to head back to work in DC.  While we had Gigi at the lake, I decided to take advantage.  So I left Bekkers there to play with his grandma and Rin and I drove off for the day to visit a sleepaway camp for next summer.  We got up really early and drove all day.  He was so excited when we started out and as we got closer and closer the mountains got bigger and bigger and his excitement grew until he was about to burst.  There were no electronics, there was only talking.  I learned so much about his life and his thoughts and all of it without Bek chiming in.  Rin absolutely loved the camp we visited and said he 100% wants to go there- that he doesn't want to look at any more. We’ll see. I think it was the tons of salamanders that he saw in the lake that sold him. Or the grilled cheese at lunch. Or the zip line. Or the fact that all the kids were having so much darn fun.  I dunno.  But he’s excited at the thought of being on his own for a week next summer.  As am I.  He will be missed and I’m sure he will miss home at least a little but I know that the amount of fun he has will outweigh any home sickness.     

And then there were 3...  Gigi and Mar went back to town, our friends were gone, and Peter had to head back to work in DC so it was just the boys and me.  There was fishing and swimming and digging in the sand and catching minnows but it was much quieter and the kids missed having other kids around to play with.  On Weds morning, when Aibek hopped into the bed with me he asked "You make me bekfast?" in his little singsong voice, he then asked, "Why Dada not comin' round?  My miss him."  And when it was time to go home, we were pretty much ready.  Well, except that poor Bek had no idea what was waiting for him when we got back.  Little did he know, but my sweet boy was coming back home to have surgery.  Yup, SURGERY. 

I was nervous because of what had happened with Rinat back when he was 14 months.  I was a basket case actually.  The Doc said he had extremely big tonsils and adenoids but that it was no problem and it would be fine and not to worry and Children’s is prepared for anything and that they would take good care of him.  But still, I worried.  That’s what moms do.  But our sweet baby was brave even when they were carrying him off to the induction room.  He was smiling and blowing kisses to me as he disappeared into the next room while I tried to put on a brave face so he wouldn’t be scared.  And- of course- all went well and there were no issues. 

First words out of his mouth were "My have bekfast?" He was so hungry. There is no doubt about it- my kids are warriors in the truest sense. Just as Rinat did after his scary surgery back in 2008, Aibek just bounced right back after his like nothing happened. These kids of ours are amazing. Rinat was worried about him and said he might cry when he saw him. Happy tears he said. We always talk about he day we almost lost him and I think it terrified him to think it could happen to his little brother. So I thought it was really important to show Rinat that he was alive and well. Rinat had been talking since we scheduled it about how he felt bad for him and he was going to get him a present to make him feel better. So after camp that day, Peter brought Rin for a visit and they stayed for dinner and Rin was just so incredibly sweet with him.  Bek and I had to stay the night which was miserable but 1 grape Popsicle, 1 giant lemon poppy seed muffin, 3 Mac n cheeses, 5 chocolate ice creams, and an apple juice later we were outta there and back to our house for recovery.  He came out of the gate all gung ho and as the week went on he actually seemed to be feeling worse instead of better.  There was a lot of crying during that week but overall he was a trooper.

Poor Rin’s adoption day was overshadowed by Bek's surgery. I told Rinat that he's lucky bc I don't even have an adoption day "What???!!! No adoption day?!" That's so SAD!"  But we got it together and did a trip to the Zoo, which is always a favorite.  He got to pick where we went and what we saw.  And he felt special which is pretty much the whole point.  So it was a success as far as I’m concerned.   

There has been some downtime for Rin and he has been filling it by finally reading fiction books on his own.  I am not sure what prompted it (Harry Potter maybe?) but I’m glad he’s finally into it.  He has been reading the Wimpy Kid books and gets to watch one of the movies now that he’s read one of the books.  They’re sort of funny in a totally inappropriate way.  Just good little boy fun. 

Rin could barely contain his excitement about going to Camp Calleva again.  It was a countdown of days until he got to go.  
Every day he comes home and is so covered in dirt that I have to scrub down the tub after he gets out of it. It’s good, dirty fun.  I was asking Rin one morning what he was doing today at camp and he said “Climbing wall” not very excited at all.  I asked why he didn’t like it and he said it scared him.  I talked to him about that things that sometimes scare you and challenge you are good because it’s good to do things that you don’t think you’re able and then you can be really proud of yourself afterwards and that they wouldn’t get him to do anything dangerous.  After he got home from camp that afternoon he ran off to play and it wasn’t until I was tucking him in bed that night that I remembered to ask “Oh yeah, Hon. How was the climbing wall today?” and he got a big smile on his face and told me “I went all the way to the top, Mom.  I was really scared but then I did it anyway and I got to ring the bell.  And it made me feel good about myself that I could instead of being too scared.”  I, of course, told him how proud I was and teared up.  No surprise there for either of us.  It wasn’t so much that I was proud of him, it was that I was happy that he was proud of himself.  Because really in life it’s more important to be in competition with yourself than with anyone else.  And I loved that he challenged himself to do it and was victorious.  Seeing him go out of his comfort zone inspires me to go outside of mine. 

Love to all, -m