Friday, January 25, 2013

4 Years

I cannot believe it has been 4 years since Kenson came home.  That seems so long ago.  God has blessed Kenson with a teaching heart that wants to do what is right and that likes to help others, not just by doing it for them but by showing them how.  I am pretty sure he will be a gentle giant in the years to come.

Kenson and his Mama Juislene right before we left the orphanage

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kids and Bedrooms (Also subtitled When oh When Will Children Learn It Is Easier to Put It Away Immediately Rather than Throwing It On the Floor?)

Okay, talk to me about kids and clean bedrooms.  I am struggling to find a balance between giving my kids the freedom to make choices and having a disaster area 24-7.  In our old house, the bedrooms were all upstairs and the kids rarely played in their rooms so the rooms were rarely messy.  Plus, my kids were younger so I was more apt to take the time to help them clean if things were messy.  Now, our house is all one level so the kids play in their rooms often.  Plus now that my kids are in kindergarten, I have a bit different expectations for them and their ability to keep their own space clean.  I don't mind providing some occasional guidance especially if we've done a major cleaning under the bed or cleaning out the closet but the day to day maintanence of not just throwing stuff on the floor, they should be able to handle on their own.

We started by saying that anyone who had a clean room on Friday night could go get doughnuts with D on Saturday mornings.  That just resulted in them waiting until Friday to clean which meant huge messes and lots of moaning and groaning and trying to shove everything under the bed.  Then I thought we would try to tie it into our "let's learn about money" program.  Right now, my kids have two chores they must do every day plus the usual things that help to keep the common living spaces of the house clean.  Those are must do jobs with no incentives.  But they can always earn money by doing extra jobs and earning extra money is important because any toys/clothing that they did not pick up after being asked go to the box on the fridge and the kids have to pay to get them back.  So giving them the chance to earn some money every night by having a clean room is not such a bad thing.  However, they both drag their feet about it plus I have to check every night to see if the rooms are clean which cuts into our already busy night.  And often, their rooms are not clean. 

Saying things like "only people with clean rooms get to read books and sing" (ie do the regular night time routine) really doesn't work.  It just means they often chose to miss it and then cry when it happens.  And for my kids, while they are sad about missing out, it often does not change their behavior because the next day is just a repeat of that.  Also, losing toys is not effective.  My kids often do not care all that much if the toys get taken away or even if they get taken to the thrift store.  I'm hoping having to pay money to get them back will be the right currency to help change that behavior.  (Can you tell we struggle with picking up often around here?  My mom even said the same thing when she was here while we were in China.  They are super slow, not easily encouraged to do a thorough job, etc..)

Raising Olives has an idea I kind of like which is to award a Clean Room Award and a weekly prize but to encourage all kids to have clean rooms by creating special priveleges for when there is a tie between the two rooms.  I like that it is competitive but that if the kids work together to get all bedrooms clean, then there is a special treat.  Still not sure if I feel like committing to keeping up with that though.

Other than that, I'm kind of striking out.  Trying to decide what my expectations are...definitely am not ready to let my kids have a pit.  And when it gets too bad, the kids just get overwhelmed and give up before they even start.  But I don't want to be the bedroom police.

Friday, January 18, 2013

3 Months Home

Zeke's been home 3 months and I haven't really done a single update on how he's doing.  Honestly, he's doing great.  Despite his intial reluctance to want to interact with us, he is now flourshing and seeks out hugs, kisses, and attention.  He's my first who was definitely attached to one main caregiver so for him, he had a lot of grief to sort out before he was ready to transfer his attachment to us.  He started going to the church nursery at the end of November with me staying a few times and then him staying on his own.  He transitioned into that really well with a few tears the first time he had to stay on his own that soon stopped once he got busy playing.  Now, it's no tears.

He has a long list of English words he says consistently including more, yes, no, dog, cat, bird, frog, hat, banana, apple, drink, car, shut the door, teeth, hair, amen, Nay Nay (Conleigh), Ten Ten (Kenson), baby, tv, chicken, ball, up, down, snow, chocolate and potty. 

Chocolate and potty are now on the list because he's been working on re training to use the big boy potty.  (He was potty trained in China but it is way to stressful to try to have a transitioning toddler and worry about potty issues.  Plus using diapers again pushes the child backwards a bit and creates a situation where the child has to be dependent upon the parents which is what you are trying to teach a newly home child.  So he was back in diapers from October to just after Christmas but now is pretty much potty trained.)

It's been just the two of us at home during the day which has been kind of a fun time.  I have enjoyed his presence a lot.  He just a happy smiley guy most of the time.  He is very good at playing independently but also likes to cuddle after lunch for some tv time or stop to play a game of some kind with me.  The minute the garage door opens when the others return home from school, he runs to the door in anticipation and loves to see everyone return.  And of course, he still adores the dog.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Adoptive Parent Rant

Humor me for a moment.  I'm about to do something I really try hard not to do:  question the choices other people make in parenting.  And really it's not even a parenting choice; it's more about a parent's choice. 

Can I tell you how crazy it makes me to watch potential adoptive parents continue to say how much they are looking for a girl?  I just saw someone who was online today, asking questions about adoption, specifically how long it would take to be matched with a girl because "we just believe some families were made for girls."  (I know I should not post quotes of what someone has said on an online forum and normally I would never do so but it just affects me so.  I in no way want to be seen as out to get any person for the words she has said, only to draw attention to how that comment might sound to others.)  Comments like that are made fairly regularly in the adoption world so really it's not just about what one person has said; it's more about a compilation of comments.

I certainly understand and respect a single parent who says I need to parent a child who is the same gender as I am.  I get how a single mom may have doubts about her ability to handle a teen of the opposite sex or help an older child of the opposite sex adjust to family living.  I certainly am okay with her choice to set out to adopt a girl.

But for the rest of us, let's call a spade a spade and say "I am making a choice and that choice may mean I wait a crazy long time waiting for a girl while boy after boy passes right on by."  I know there are all sorts of reasons people make the choices they do.  Things like a desire to provide a sister for the silbings or a desire to reuse the girl things a family may already have like clothes and toys.  Probably even practical reasons I haven't considered.  But I just have a hard time understanding choices made about gender, made before a specific child is even considered, the choice that says "we are only open to adoption if we can adopt a girl."

I understand that adoption involves a lot of very personal choices.  One of the very first things you do in an adoption is go through a checklist of special needs and decide what special needs you belive your family is capable of parenting.  I suppose some would say selecting a gender is similar to that.  But I can't help but think it's not.  Raising a boy does not require a special skill set, an extensive group of specialists, a life time of committment to caring for a child's basic needs, or access to specific resources. 

Raising a boy, while different than raising a girl, requires the same desire to pour out a 1 Corinthians 13 type love on a child.  That's it. 

(I suppose it might also require some extra Oxyclean and frequent flyer miles at your local hospital but even that is pretty child specific.  My first is a boy who is cautious and sensitive although little by the little, he is stepping out of those comfort zones.)

It breaks my heart to think of kids like my two boys being set aside not because their ages were not a good fit or because they had special needs that a family could not manage but simply because they were boys.  Yes, successful adoption is about managing expectations and matching your expectations and needs to an adoption situation.  But really?  Gender is the deal breaker?  I just don't get it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sledding with Jared

Still working on Christmas photos...

But I do have some other fun ones from Christmas Eve.  My brother took the kids sledding with his four wheeler.  In the cow pasture.  Those of you who aren't farm people, he went slow and the cows thought they were getting fed so they kind of just milled around  (Just Kenson and Conleigh went.)  The kids had a blast and my brother has secured his title of being "Crazy but Cool Uncle Jared."