Sometimes you just need a little rockin’ out

About a month after Jonathan moved in, I was completely drained, in every way. I was exhausted, feeling uncomfortable in my new role, feeling weird and lost without working, missing being around my friends and co-workers…and maybe a little bitter about cleaning and cooking and doing laundry all day…

Anyway, we were driving somewhere one evening and it was already dark (it was winter time) and old Bon Jovi came on the radio. Now, Gord is a huge music fanatic and likes to listen loud and we had tried on several occasions to turn up the music in the car and ‘dance’ but Jonathan would get so mad and scream to turn it down.

On this night however he asked for it to be turned up really loud, and as we both rocked out and laughed and I sang badly loudly and Bon Jovi and me belted out “whooah, we’re half way there” and “take my hand, we’ll make it I swear” I could feel the tears coming.

Then,
“We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
Cause it doesn’t make a difference
If we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot
For love – well give it a shot”

I burst into tears and I started to feel much better, like maybe I can do this.

Sometimes you just need a little rock to make it all better.

**This post is a link up to Memory Box on The Adoption Social website. Check it and other great memories and blogs out by clicking here.

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Birthdays and Back to Winter

So this happened this week: IMG_20130228_192210Anthony turned ELEVEN!!!

He had a laser tag party with his friends, a special dinner and cake and presents at our house and then another cake and present night at his moms. If some kids think that having divorced parents sucks, come talk to this guy, he finds it all good;) And that hat, that’s a Finn hat I made him. It hasn’t left his head in 7 days. If you could hashtag blogs it would read: #donttouchitwitha10footpole. If you are not familiar with Finn from Adventure Time and you have a young boy in your house, you should check it out.

Making a card for the big bro. He was so proud:)IMG_20130228_152636

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This week we started trying some new parenting/behaviour ideas with Jonathan. It was hard. He pushed back, in a big way. He knew something was up and day one he had a freak out to end all freak outs. I almost joined in. It was probably the worst day since he moved in. But then, the next day happened. And that next day was beautiful and sunny and calm. We went for a big walk in the sunshine, I think we both needed it. Close to the end of our jaunt, Jonathan went running down a hill and did a head first slide into home base. But there was no home base, only a mud puddle. He handled it like a champ!IMG_20130301_161625

We’ve had a couple more freaky freak outs and extra hiding under his bed in the past few days, but he is coming around quicker and things are less intense when they do happen. Insert large sigh of relief….for now. I really don’t know where I can find another bucket of patience to handle much more of what went down the other days, but I’m willing to pay a pretty penny if anybody gots some!

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The next day after our wonderful sunshine and walk, this happened:20130303_113357
Oh Calgary. You sure keep it interesting.

And I couldn’t think of anything better to do during a snow storm (except go get groceries…always an adventure) then this: IMG_20130303_141758

My poor plants have been very neglected the past few months and but they recieved lots of care on this snowy day. I can’t wait for spring to get out in the garden with Jonathan this year!

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And just a final picture to follow-up on my last post about our cats, this has been happening more and more:IMG_20130306_203121

It’s cozy and wonderful.

The Power of Kitty Brown

Jonathan fell in love with our cats day one, and much to my surprise they loved him right back. He calls them Kitty Brown and Kitty Black.

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Just like us, the cats were use to quiet and calm and I was positive when his loud, fast-moving, only quiet when he’s sleeping self moved in our black cat who is scared of her own shadow (Kravan) would be hiding under a bed for a loooong time. And, although our brown cat (Calypso) is super friendly and loves any kind of attention (she stops people on the sidewalk as they pass and will flop down to have her belly scratched) she isn’t use to little people and I figured she would be uninterested in this new human.

But, what has been unfolding before my eyes has been amazing to watch.

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I knew something was brewing between the Jman and Kitty Brown about 7 weeks or so after he moved in. We were told from his last foster mom (there have been 4) that in the recent past, he frequently would run and hide when he would hurt himself. In this way, Jonathan is making HUGE progress and is seeking comfort from me when hurt about 90% of the time, and he is slowly letting Gord into the mix too.

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On this particular day he had hurt himself, and the other 10% happened.

He cried out, I went to him, and he ran.

He ran away yelling “NO NO NO” and hid under his bed. I lay down quietly on the floor beside his bed and was talking to him, or trying to anyway. Really, I was getting nowhere fast and he continued to cry and shout at me. Then, in saunters Brown Kitty. She went right under the bed and he completely switched – calling to her in his sweet little voice he was so calm. She came back out from under the bed and Jonathan followed. He sat in my waiting lap and showed me his hurt toe while the cat stood by. I was speechless at what I had just saw.

Turns out it wasn’t a fluke, which I had started to think it may have been. Several times after this happened I noticed when Jonathan had a fall or would bang an elbow and crying would follow, even if he came to me, a few seconds after his first cries the cat would appear.

And then last week, this happened:

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There is something between these two. No flukes. No coincidences. Just a boy and his cat and some unspoken love.

Moments earlier, he had been in time out. Screaming louder than I had heard him ever before. When it was all over, he jumped in the bath and Kitty Brown came right in and plopped herself beside the tub. He would accidentally splash some water while he played about and the cat would run out for a moment, but she kept returning. Right back beside him. Blowing my mind.

Blowing my freakin’ mind!!!

And Kitty Black? She never did hide under the beds, or anywhere else for that matter. Not only that, she has even started to get in on the Jonathan love too. As his bath finished that night, she came in taking up the post after Brown Kitty had left. And, she often joins us on the bed each night while we read a book or two.

I tell ya, there is something special about this boy and these cats.

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Blowing. My Mind.

 

**I just need to explain the horrendous blue carpet and disaster of a room that keeps popping up in my photos. It is our sun room. It has no insulation. In the summer it is gloriously hot and wonderful and we sit and read and there are plants and despite the blue carpet it is the most wonderful little space. Sigh. Unfortunately, in the winter when it get to -30 outside, it’s also that inside the sun room; so it becomes a dumping ground. Jonathan does not seem to care about the cold and spends so much time playing in here that many pictures end up with a lovely blue tinge with junk in the back ground. I feel better that you all know this now.

Photo Dump

Big photo dump! Here’s what we’ve been up to the last couple of week:)

This cat, she’s killing me with her cuteness. She’s so sweet and gentle and has this crazy connection with Jonathan (more on that later). And, when she’s super cozy and sleepy at night she starts to wink. Always. Sigh, I know I will be the crazy cat lady when I’m old.

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This is as much baking as I’ve got to do on my own/with Jonathan (yes I’m counting pancakes as baking because that’s all I’ve got). I thought I’d get to do this more, but apparently quiet afternoons of tea and sunshine and baking are a myth of parental leave.

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We got Jonathan this spinney Ikea chair. He loves it and I think he’s almost done his first novel.

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I started embroidering. It’s terrible – I can’t stop. I’m so serious I bought these I’m-so-serious-about-embroidery scissors to prove it. I’m on my third project and I’ve abandoned all my other sewing and quilting projects which is a problem as there is a pile waiting to go.  And this guy, even though he’s about to turn ELEVEN next week, he still likes to bake a pie (and murder it) with his step mama…well he pretty much can bake on his own own but I pretend he needs my help;)

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Last week I would do errands and then park in the preschool lot 30 minutes early so I could listen to Canada Reads. I’ve listen before, but this year I was hooked. I’m half way done February by Lisa Moore and man alive, it’s good. I also put up these girly fabric circles (thank you Pinterest) on our wall…so far Gord doesn’t seem to mind;)

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It was my birthday last week and Gordy spoiled me. We had 2 nights of respite and even got away to Banff for one night. It was so nice and appreciated. I got spoiled with presents including this air plant, my first. Hope I can keep it alive!

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We’ve been spending time at the zoo (I’m one visit away from bringing my pillow and moving into the botanical gardens…the smell, the humidity…)

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Off for dinner and then some wine and cheese with my love…I think I have a serious cheese problem developing… more on that later too;)

Brotherly Love

I wish I had time to write more in-depth about this, and perhaps I will at a later date, but I just wanted to write a quick note about Anthony and how being a big brother has rocked his world.

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Anthony was an only child for 10 years. An only child who has two families and all the attention in the world. One family, his mom’s side, is very big with lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Our side is smaller and all who live between 3 hours drive and 3 hour plane ride away, but the first and only grandchild on Gord’s side of the family. Needless to say, Anthony has been the centre of attention and love for a looooong time.

When I get overwhelmed and I have no more patience at the end of the day (or sometimes the beginning too:) and I can feel myself adjusting to all this crazy emotional toll and change and madness that is occurring in our once quiet house, I sometimes forget that Anthony too is feeling the same adjustment, the same change, and is trying to cope with this new little fire ball running around making fire truck sounds, spilling water, and screaming in time outs. Our house before Jonathan was very, very quiet. Very. Anthony is a very quiet, passive, laid back kid. Very. Jonathan is anything but.

Anthony has been on high emotional alert since the night of meeting Jonathan. Just as it was for us, all the talking and preparing and processing that happened before meeting Jonathan could not prepare us for how things would actually be. And I saw it hit Anthony hard the very night he met his little brother. The reality of it all was very different then thinking about it and talking about it. For everybody. But I think even more so for Anthony.

The age difference between them is big (6 years) and the language barrier between them also creates some difficulty (Jonathan’s at about a 2.5 yr old language wise). Anthony and I talk about this often and I explain being what being Deaf means and what Jonathan can and can’t do right now, how he is learning etc. He often will say things like, he ignores Jonathan because he can’t understand him.

We can see Anthony is edgy most days, but those edgy days are slowly fading and becoming more mixed in with his laid back days. He is still sometimes quick to cry, get’s frustrated faster than normal, but overall when we look at the bigger picture of this whole wild journey, he is handling things pretty well. We think so anyway:)

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(Last week I watched some instinctive (I could hardly believe it!) brotherly love kick in: I was too far ahead of these guys and turned back just in time to see Anthony move himself behind Jonathan on a slippery hill and brace himself in case Jonathan fell. My heart melted a little bit right here)

There are lots of conversations explaining, fairly generally, where Jonathan came from in hopes of Anthony understanding some of Jonathan’s behaviour a bit more (the idea that sometimes kids come from rough places is not new to Anthony – the joys of having two social workers for parents!) There are lots of conversation around what being 4 years old means. And there are lots of conversations around what being a brother means, looks like and how it’s okay to feel mad and pissed off sometimes….as long as you move on afterwards.

And I am trying my best to remember that loosing your cool really means “help I can’t cope with all this change today”. I know Anthony, I know. And I’m sorry sometimes I forget just how hard and big it all is.

But then, there is this:

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They often don’t physically share the same space, so to see them not only close, but actually interacting was awesome. This happened a couple of days ago on a day off from school; Anthony, on his own initiative, blew bubbles for Jonathan to chase and pop. And then, because Jonathan had earlier asked and was now sporting a pirate eye patch and sword made by my madd crafting skills, Anthony asked me if he could make him a pirate ship to play in. Are you freakin’ kidding me?! YES YES YES!!!  I sat at the kitchen table pretending to work on the computer while secretly having a victory dance party in my head. Of course I also snapped as many secret pictures as I could of the brotherly bond, slowly, starting to finally shine through.

It’s happening. It’s slow and it’s hard. But it’s happening:)

Do I Parent Differently?

 It’s a little ranty and long, and I just want to note I don’t think that parenting any child is easy, no matter your relationship or how they came into your life.

 I struggle with this a lot – do I parent differently from other parents because Jonathan is adopted? Do I parent my stepson, Anthony, differently because he’s my stepson and he has his mom in his life? Although I’d like the answer to be no, I think it is yes. Yes I think I do.

 I believe they both have different needs, and I respond to those needs and parent them each as individuals based on what they need, their personalities, their history, our relationship and so many other factors. And because of my unique relationship with each of them, that separates me from other parents who do not have the same unique relationships…ie who don’t have a step son and an adoptive son.

 I should acknowledge that this seems to be the opposite of a recent post I wrote about there being an ‘us vs. them’ mentality among adoptive and biological moms/parents, and I hope that I’m not contradicting myself too much here, or at the least, that I expressed myself, and can do so again today, as accurately as the thoughts are in my head. I do believe there are differences in raising or parenting biological children vs. adoptive children, just as raising a child with a disability is different than a ‘typical’ child. It’s just simply different. Fundamentally I think it’s all the same – love, consistency, boundaries, laughter, honesty…but the day to day activities, or sometimes the purpose behind an activity may be different because of your relationship with any given child. I’m not commenting here on right or wrong, I’m simply just expressing my views and how I choose to parent my two kids.                                                         IMG_20130104_134632 When I first met Anthony I was very cautious and reserved in my role with him. And it wasn’t my place to jump in a parent him; I was just some stranger who was hanging around. A lot. And we did stuff together sometimes. I jumped into a mothering type role right away – I making food, cleaning up etc., helped him with different things, drove him to school sometimes etc. But I was very aware that I was not his mom, he had (has) a mom and that was not me. And in the beginning, he was very clear with me that talking about being in trouble at school (which he refused to do), talking about deeper feelings (which he would not do) as well as discipline (which I would not do) was not where we were at. I accepted this and over time, once we had a strong foundation, our relationship shifted and grew and deepened. This took a looong time, I would guess about 4 or so years for us to get the point where I felt comfortable talking to him about tougher things and he felt he could trust me with bigger things. Now, although he still has his mom very much in his life, it feels like I am his mom, his step mom, which is kinda awesome I might add. And I think he would say that he sees me as a mom, but he is quick to point out I’m his step mom, because it is different than being his mom who still exists in his life. But, we are both good with that and acknowledge that it is a unique relationship. I think because I took the time to go slow and build a strong foundation and relationship, it greatly benefited how he acts and responds to my parenting now. Which I should point out is very positive, and still evolving.

IMG_20130203_122830 With Jonathan, it’s different again. He’s had too much insecurity and too much shuffle in his short life to beat around the bush and take it slow. And, he doesn’t have another mom in his life making the situation different from Anthony. What we know about attachment is that kids who struggle with it need to know first off who is in charge and who will keep him safe. That’s me; Mama numero uno. So, I am strict with him. And I have a lot of expectations around his behaviour (I say ‘I’ but Gord and I are both in this boat). At the same time, I make sure we have lots of fun each day so we can build that ever so important relationship, as we are still in the early stages of getting to know each other. Also, I am more understanding and tolerant of (some) misbehaviour (but by the end of the day man alive does it get hard to keep this all in mind) from a boy who, although to others seems to be not listening, is struggling to regulate himself because he was never soothed as a baby and is now acting like a crazy man in the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong – tolerant does not mean that misbehaviour is ignored or accepted. Oh no no no – simply a lack of self regulation skills will not get you a free ride around these parts, it will however, get you a simple talking to, a big hug, and a lesson in calming down, hopefully with some kind of body contact or rocking or back rubbing thrown in. See, different: What parent of a biological kid thinks of making physical contact with their child while giving them ‘a lesson’? I’ll tell you who – adoptive parents. Me. I do. A hyper vigilant wanna-make-it better and get on the attachment train mama. It looks like simple parenting (explaining to a child their behaviour is unacceptable) but the purpose behind it is different.

It’s hard. It’s tiring. It takes a lot of conscience effort and some days I suck at it. But I can see the positive effects of my (our) efforts. When the hair dresser brings Anthony back to the front of the joint and says to me ‘he’s an awesome kid’, I know I’m doing okay. When people who have known Jonathan over several placements (we are lucky to still have contact with a couple of these amazing consistent people in his life) see him and exclaim how happy he is and how well he’s doing; I know I am on the right path and choosing to parent differently, even though it isolates me and separates me from other parents, is the right way to parent my kids.

(A Sad) Indoor Winter Garden

I’m a little of tired of saying “I saw this thing on Pinterest”, but…. I saw this thing on Pinterest.

Cut celery, put in water, plant, it will grow forever.

Cut green onions, put in water, it will grow forever.

Well, I don’t know where all these successful green thumbs are at now with their celery and onions but they sure didn’t leave any tips beyond ‘put in water’ and ‘plant’! (To be fair I only looked at a couple of sites)

Here’s my progress:

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Day one – easy enough. After just a few hours you could actually see the green onion had already started growing a few centimeters

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One week later – onions are growing fast, celery very slow. And, I’ve been to lazy to go get soil to plant the celery so I just change the water every couple days (with the onion too) and move along

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Two weeks later – onions are awesome, celery still slow, but growing. And still in water…

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3-4 weeks later – I chopped off the amazing regrown onions to use about a week before this photo and this is what grew back (so the third regrowth for these stalks) –  straggly, uneven, falling over onions (and the roots were a rats nest). Onion is out. The celery is still not planted in soil, BUT it is doing really well (I just pulled off the outer layers of slimy yuckyness  and continue to change the water). So celery can stay for now. Perhaps this week I will even make it out to buy soil and then maybe it will really start to take off?!

Oh Pinterest….

*** It’s now been about 5/6 weeks…I can’t keep track…and I didn’t make it to get soil. The tiny celery stalks got really limp and the outside was just too slimy to carry on. Perhaps the soil IS the key and the failure is all my fault. I shall try again in the spring!