Friday, January 30, 2015

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch...

The two biggest kids went with D to soccer conditioning.  Apparently, as they were driving home, Conleigh remarked that she sure hoped the house hadn't exploded while they were gone.  Kenson wasn't fazed because he asserted that if that had happened, Mom probably would have called us.  About the same time as that conversation was happening, Zeke and I were playing a tweaked version of Pictionary on the patio doors using dry erase markers.  Basically, the person who was drawing picked something to draw and the other person had to guess what it was.  You laugh, but playing that game with a 4 year old requires a lot of skill in terms of guessing appropriately.  I guessed incorrectly several times.  Two of those times probably should not have counted.  The first time he drew a shark, but not just any shark, a blue shark.  I guessed great white, lemon, tiger, zebra, and goblin which were all not right.  The second instance where I'd like a redo involved Zeke drawing a Japanese spider crab.  Somehow, I failed to entertain that as even a remote possibility.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

6 Years Home

Who is this kid? Gosh he has changed so much. From the Haitian toddler who we heard was a "big baby, happy baby" to an 8 year old who is still big and happy. From his first few weeks at home where he explored running water and electric lights, from a cautious guy who was scared of dogs and stuffed animals and flush toilets, to a confident and kind hearted, loves any sport involving a ball big kid. I love his gentle spirit and his sensitive heart as well as his infectious smile.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Flat Twists Up Do with Diagonal Parts

Love that Conleigh's hair is finally getting long enough to do some styles with.  
This is two opposing diagonal parts that were flat twisted into a ponytail.  
She loved it; 
I think she was impressed that her hair could do that 
since the twists actually sit pretty high off of her head.
Best part?  
Only took 30 minutes and now her hair is out of the way for gymnastics which is a must.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Smart Cookies and Smelly Armpits

Let me brag a bit on Zeke.  He is such a smart cookie.  Part of it is having older siblings who come home from school talking about all sorts of stuff and he wants to be just as smart as they are.  Part of it is just who he is.  He is a sponge and remembers everything.  Because the big kids are working on addition and subtraction facts, Zeke thinks he ought to be too.  So for months now, the big kids have been quizzing him on math facts.  It's not unusual to hear them ask him "Zeke, what's 3 + 1?" and for him to answer correctly.  It's also not unusual to have him ask me, "Mom, what's 2 + 2?" and then have him tell me the answer.

It's mostly just rote memorization with out a lot of actual understanding of what he is saying.  Or so I thought.  Tonight at supper he told me that 1 and 2 are close together.  So that means that if you add 5 +  1 and then 5 + 2, that the answers have to be close together too and that the answers are indeed close together because the answers are 6 and 7.  Teacher me was super impressed.  Zeke didn't articulate it quite so clearly so D was completely confused and then slightly skeptical when I interpreted Zeke's version of how to find the answers.  I raised my eyebrows and told D how that was pretty impressive for a 4 year old to understand.

And then Conleigh shared with us all the real reason why Zeke can do math problems.  "Mom, he's smart like that because I let him smell my armpits at night."

I can not make this stuff up.

Not if I tried.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Born That Way

A child born with a limb difference is whole. They have not lost anything for this is the way they were born. As a baby their developing mind does not understand or recognize that they are "supposed to" have two hands or ten fingers. They are equipped with the instinct to DO and learn to do what they want to do; find comfort, hold a bottle, play, crawl, climb, walk. There is no self concern with how they look. People often say our children "adapt so well", but as a baby it is not about adapting because it is all they have ever known. There is no altering of what they would have done- it is simply a matter of what they WILL DO with what they have. Our children were born physically different but also with the innate ability to meet and conquer each task and challenge that comes their way long before they can even recognize what is viewed/assumed as a challenge by others. Sure, later in life there will be adapting, they will adapt to living in a world built for people who do not have limb differences. I say this will further foster our children's ability to be problem solvers, creators and achievers. The necessity that comes with thinking outside the box and puzzle solving I think makes our children smarter, more creative, dynamic and mentally strong just by doing the day to day things most take for granted. Add pursuing a passion and now some truly marvelous ingenuity and drive comes into play. (Jim Abbott, Nick Newell, Tony Memmel). Our children are not to be underestimated and certainly not pitied. Though to some people it appears that our children have lost something, the unseen is what they have been given. And just like their limb difference- they were born that way.

-Molly Stapelman, Lucky Fin Project founder

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Of Selma and Hope

These images aren't new to me but for some reason, with the release of Selma, these images have taken on a new life.  Maybe it's the juxtaposition of the release of Selma so close to the chaos of Ferguson.  Maybe it's just that for the first time these images are really personal because I've had to do some real thinking about how the movie previews for Selma are going to impact someone close to me since my kids are old enough to see the images and have some heavy questions about that period of American history.

That's one of the parts of being brown that you cannot escape.  Your story, even though it may be many generations removed from today, is born out of a sad, unjust history.  With that in mind, my kids were pre taught the basics of slavery and the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement prior to kindergarten because I did not want them hearing even tidbits about that for the first time, while sitting in a room surrounded by their peers.  

I think these pictures also provide valuable context into some of what has happened regarding the justice system, the police, and the black community.  1963 seems like a long time ago.  But 1963 really isn't that long ago.   Especially when you or your parents or grandparents were personal witnesses to the events of the Jim Crow south.  I do not think for a minute that it justifies any of what has happened (especially violence and destruction) nor do I think it negates the dynamic progress that has occurred within the last 50 years.  But I do think it should give use pause as we think about why others may view situations differently than we do.

But back to these images and my own reaction.  It is one thing to know in your head that the words and actions of our past are intensely painful.  It's another to watch pieces of that play out on the faces of your own children.  Until you have had to sit and explain it to your own brown babies, it's just not quite the same.  

Because how do you explain that at some point in time people thought it was okay to use them as slaves without them hearing a message of "I am brown and someone says I am less than human." 

Because how do you explain, that at some point in time people thought they should be kept separate from white people without them hearing the message "I am brown and I am so different."  

Because how do explain that at some point in time people routinely used violence to perpetuate a system of inequality and hatred without them hearing the message "I am brown and people resisted change so they could keep being mean to me."  

It's about eyes that darken a bit in shame and eyes that flash over the injustice.  It's about our shame as a nation becoming their own personal shame.  Perhaps that's the biggest thing I want my kids to know.  This is not their shame.  This-this complicated, ugly history-it's our history not just theirs.  We may not have lived it and while we certainly can't live in the past, it is a jagged, broken part of who we are and were as a nation.  It is not theirs alone to bear.

It's also about hope.  Go back and look at that first image I linked.  It's taken in Little Rock, when the Little Rock Seven integrated the public high school.  Look at the row of angry white women just behind the black teen.  See the one in the middle?  She actually wasn't a woman at the time.  She was a classmate of the black teen.   At the time, she taunted and yelled and fought hard to avoid integration.  Years later, Oprah reunited the Little Rock Seven on one of her shows.  Oprah also found three of their white classmates and brought them to her show as well.  All were adults in their 40's.  The show featured both the white girl and the black girl from the original image.  I can only imagine the words used on that day on the Little Rock Street.  I don't have to image the words said on the Oprah stage because I heard them for myself.  On Oprah's stage, these all grown up women met yet again, and the white woman offered an tear filled apology.  She was clear that she was raised by parents who supported racism but that the cycle of overt, in your face racism ended with her and her children.  

So maybe that's the other lesson of all of this:  that there is always room for reconciliation and hope.    Our nation is certainly not perfect.  I dread the day when my son has to deal with the n word as used by so many high school boys who think they are too cool and he feels like perhaps he has to go along to get along.  I already know the pain of my kids being told they can't play because they are brown.  Even if not said out of outright racism, even if just said by kids as a way to be mean with no real understanding of the racial aspect of it, it has left its mark on my child's brain.  But even knowing that, there's hope and forgiveness and that is the legacy of Selma.