Monday, March 30, 2015

Science Fair and Therapy

I dread science fair more than my kids do. They pick a topic and then spend the weeks leading up to the finish line forgetting about it, but I know what's coming.  Looming over my head is the deadline, the crying, the arguing and fit throwing, and that's just me. (Kidding, sort of) Aidan is possibly going to need future therapy for his 5th grade science fair project. That was three years ago and the events of that last weekend leading up to project completion are still convulsing in his memory.

I'm so over the need to "help" my kids with their projects while casting sideways looks at the other parents' boards who were also "helping". It's a cutthroat science fair war out there, and I'm out. Now I look at it as more of a character building experience. "It has to be done, but nobody wants to do it, it's fine if it stinks, but it has to be your best effort, and sometimes in life you just have to do things that you don't want to do."

This year was much more relaxed, now that we worked out some of the kinks on Aidan. Chloe picked a topic and Chris was assigned the job of being her support team. As the resident engineer, after about 3rd grade, all of the math and science things are automatically dropped in his lap. A little time out to talk about engineers. They are perfectly wonderful, and I adore mine thoroughly, but they do have a certain complex way of thinking. They can be sometimes like a Rube Goldberg machine taking ideas from point A to point B. (This might be the moment when Aidan starts twitching)

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Imagine this: Chloe is on the computer creating a spreadsheet to graph her electrical output from her lemons and potatoes, Aidan is not at all helping by continually offering his memories of science fairs past, and I am lecturing Chris about exactly what it means to be a support team as opposed to a project manager. And then, the science stuff is all done, and now it's time for design. At which point, I stop lecturing my husband, and start project managering the photographs and painting (Chloe stopped me from photo shopping her pictures)... See? Character building.

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The cutest little scientist
Petrichor: the pleasant earthy smell after the rain.
Vellichor: the strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

There needs to be a special word for that euphoric, blissful feeling, when the science fair project is finished. Or I guess, we could just say that it's ineffable: too great to be expressed with words.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Swing of Things

We've been trying to get back in the swing of things over here. Spring has come and brought a change from winter rest to spring busy. So, in the midst, I'm working out how to not let busy define us. Here's a few glimpses:
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The Trebol Terminators
Somebody cute and feisty has switched focus from tae kwon do to soccer. The girls had their first game last Saturday, and they came out of the gates like champs. Chloe scored once and also had a beautiful save as goalie. She's been telling me, "You're my mom, not my coach". Which I'm taking to mean, that she wants me to cheer for her wholeheartedly, and not to notice if she doesn't do something correctly. Fortunately, I'm only assistant coaching now, so I can leave the hard stuff to the Actual Coach.
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Trebol Green
This guy has finally found his wheels, and it's super fun to watch. He's becoming quite the leader on, and off, the field.
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eTown Hall
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Getting ready to perform
Aidan had a performance at Impact for Education's award ceremony. They played Imagine by John Lennon. Aidan has dress clothes that he never wears and only brings out at these sorts of occasions. And he's growing, quickly. Which became rather apparent when his pants had risen to levels to escape a small flood, and his shirt prevented him from lifting his arms. Fortunately, you don't need to lift your arms to play the cello, and he was wearing cool stripey socks. But now we know, that we need to literally have a dress rehearsal that takes place sooner than an hour before the show.
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The Treats
We had to watch from the downstairs area, on a big screen tv that didn't actually have sound at first, and then only in parts. But Aidan looked awesome playing his cello. The good part was that it put us right by the lovely treat table, and those chocolate covered pretzels that look like pencils were quite tasty.

The end for now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tattered Wings pt 2

I couldn't finish the story. I was stuck. I tried to think of the ending, just the way that I wanted it to turn out. But the truth is that we are still in that place by the side of the great water, looking at the water and wondering if we have the strength to keep flying.

Let me back up a little, this whole adoption journey has been much more taxing than my Anne-with-an-E self enjoys. I'm a sprinter, I like to see the finish line from my beginnings. Run hard, turn left. I like happy endings, ones with a nice tidy bow, where everyone ends up where they belong. I like sunshine and rainbows, and answers.

We thought we had our answer several times. The last time, we were giddy with anticipation. We'd been frustrated with the lack of communication etc from our agency, and contacted another local agency (with great reviews) that also worked in Bulgaria. After the briefest of communication, on the phone, they asked if we would mind switching gears and considering two sisters from Guyana. They were the right age, both our kids jumped on board, and get this, their names were Destiny and Devine. It felt absolutely perfect. They sent over a picture and we fell in love, all of a sudden. All we would have to do was transfer our home study and within months, would be expected to bring them home. We said YES, less than 24 hours after they asked us. Then, nothing. I sent emails, waited, nothing.  Weeks went by and I asked for a meeting, and I heard, "Yes, we'll get back to you". Nothing. Again.

Now I was getting more and more frustrated. We finally pestered enough and sat down for a face to face with the founder of the agency, at which point, we heard, "Oh, the girls are already spoken for by a family further along in the queue". Are you freakin kidding me? But she cheered us on, sorry that we had had difficulties to that point, and declared that sometimes people just had issues for no apparent reason but now, things were going to be different. We decided to go ahead with the Guyana program anyway for a bunch of reasons that fit us. Until months later, after more radio silence, we find out that they discontinued the program....

Meanwhile, our enthusiasm for Bulgaria had lost steam as the projected time to completion stretched from 3-5 years, becoming more entangled in red tape, and the frequent switching of our social workers. So we decided that we might limp to a different program, only to discover that our agency had lost the contracts to work in the other country we were interested in...

So we put all of our stuff on hold while we waited to hear back if our agency won the contract to work in Brazil. They assured me they would get back to me as soon as they finalized in January...

And then there was quiet.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tattered Wings Pt 1

We sat at the table when our social worker asked a question, "How do you plan on making an adopted child feel a desired part of your family?" Instantly, I knew. "I will write a story" I told her.

Once upon a time, there was a family of birds. There was a momma bird who was good and kind, a daddy bird who was gentle and strong, a brother bird who was brave and fun, and a sister bird who was both caring and fierce. The bird family lived in a cozy little nest, with bits of straw, sunshine and love sticking out everywhere.

Every day, daddy bird flew off to gather plump worms and bits of curvy sticks. Every day, Mommy bird flew to the tippy top of the wide spreading branches of the sweet smelling apple tree to sing her heart out. As the sun began to dip beneath the outline of the sky, mommy bird's song guided a swooping and soaring Brother and Sister home from testing their wings in the wide open spaces at the foot of the mountains. Every night, Daddy bird stretched his wings out over his family and whispered the names of the stars as they blinked to life one by one, until the eyes of the small birds drooped to a close.

But as the small bird family watched the dance of the seasons pass, they began to feel as if they were missing something, and a small hole began to stretch in their hearts, a hole that ached to be filled with another little bird. Mommy bird began singing louder, hoping to draw their small bird, home, to their nest. Daddy bird began flying in farther and farther circles during his gatherings, adding more bits to their nest. Brother and Sister began testing the strength of their muscles by swooping and soaring higher and higher, all the while glancing up to see if their small bird might drop from the sky.

At last, one day, the bird family decided that their little bird must be lost and could not find its way home. So Daddy bird, Mommy bird, Brother and Sister, left their snug little nest and took to flight. They flew high over mountains, dodging eagles and airplanes. They swung low through canyons, searching in crevices and old forgotten trees. Once, they thought they spotted something and their hearts leapt inside, but it turned out to only be a misshapen twig.

The skies gathered darkness as they left behind warm sunlit areas. Their wings ached from flying and their hearts were heavy for home, but the longing for their own, lost little bird made them continue on. Finally they reached a mighty water that stretched  so far it seemed to blend into the sky. Mommy bird's hat was tattered from the journey and brother and sister birds' wings had grown as strong as could be. The ocean seemed so huge and the journey now so impossible that their hearts quivered with fear. But as that instant grew into a long moment, a gentle wind lifted their feathers and whispered, courage....

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Little About Dog Piles

I don't like picking up dog poop. Except for the times when I wander outside because I need to be outside, and I just happen to notice, and casually clean the yard. Those times I feel happy and satisfied. But the times that I'm scouring the yard to "get ready" for something, not so much. All I can see are piles and piles, evidence that Roscoe has been snacking in the compost bin again. Then, I don't enjoy myself any, even with a nice clean yard, because I'm too busy to notice the clean; it's just one more thing to be checked off my list. Maybe that was the problem with Martha, in the Bible, she was out of rhythm with work and rest, and was locked in a cycle of the next thing to be accomplished, fixed, or finished. That's me a lot of days, and it's exhausting.

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The Pile Maker

This Lenten season, I haven't given up anything per se, because to be honest, sacrifice and self denial of things can be difficult, but not necessarily life changing for me. I come from a family where difficult things were woven into the fabric of our lives, and I can do denial and self discipline. The harder thing for me is to rest, and to listen. To listen, instead of doing. To sit in quiet and contemplation when it leaves my hands empty and my chores undone. I'm finding when I lift my eyes up long enough to see the big picture, instead of losing myself in the tiny details, I notice more. I feel more alive, connected and peaceful. Time slows, and I'm not exhausted anymore.