Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday Thunks

It's Thursday and, stuck for topics as I seem to be lately, I will make use of this handy little meme: 

1. To whom did you last give the finger? The guy in the burgundy pickup truck who risked both of our lives in order to not let me into his lane.  But I only did it with my mind ~ which, if you knew me, you would know is far wicked-er. 

2. If you had 1,000 dollars and HAD to spend it, what would you buy?  A new kitchen table set.  We need a new, round one . . . with new energy.

3. What was the last beverage you spilled on yourself?  Coffee, all down the front of my white shirt . . . and then I had to walk around like that for the rest of the day.  ugh

4. When was the last photograph you took? What was it of?  The last photo I took was of a bookstand in IKEA.  My boy and I are trying to take pictures, when we are together, of architectural elements that resemble letters (like those new, trendy art pieces) and plan to spell out f-a-m-i-l-y.  That bookstand will be the capital "I."

5. Who was the last person to smoke a cigarette in your presence?  A very drunk, very high, very tattooed, almost naked young woman who came up and talked to my friend and I as we walked through the county fair.  I guess the fact that my friend was walking her two sheep reminded the young woman of her cat and, somehow, her step-mother.  It was an odd conversation.

6. What animal did you last pet or hold?  My little-old-man dog, Jasper.  We adopted him last February and, being 10 years old and set in his ways, he has no idea what to do with affection.  I try to give him his space, but every once in a while I just can't stand it any longer and simply must cuddle him.  And so I did, last night.  And he hated almost every minute of it. 

7. What was the last superstitious thing you did?  Insisted that my husband knock on wood after he said a particularly positive thing about something.  And then I forced him to do it again when he knocked, rather dismissively, on metal rather than wood the first time.

8. What was the last text message you received?  "Hi!  I'm here!  I'm in 'baggage claim.'  Let me know when you get here.  I can't believe it!"

9. What was the last musical instrument played in your presence?  My son began piano lessons this past June.  He practices every day.  I love hearing his "Good King Wenceslas," even if it is 95 degrees right now.

10. What was the last note that you wrote on your hand?  Absolutely no idea.  It had to be in grade school.

11. What are you wearing as you answer these ridiculously stupid TT questions?  It depends upon whom is asking.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

By the school calendar, it is the last week of summer . . .
Make a splash!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sandwiches are Good

And now, to completely lighten the mood, I must share with you that I won a most fabulous giveaway over at Sandwich 365.  It is a gift card to, and I am so excited. 

My thanks to Keri for both her giveaway and her deliciously fun blog.  If you like sandwiches ~ and who doesn't ~ or even just good blogging, you have to check out her very original, very fun blog.

I'll bet not even Keri knew that my favorite quote about life involves a sandwich . . .

I had been going to college at night, part-time for nearly 5 years.  It was time to start making some decisions.  I felt the call of law school, yet was daunted by the time, cost, and challenge that law school and, later, a legal career would mean.  I looked to my favorite English professor for some perspective.  He was a lawyer by day and an English Lit. prof by night.  I summed up my issues and desires and apprehensions.  I shared my worries about the expense of law school and the financial struggle it would be.   I asked him what he thought, to which he answered:

"Life is short.  Do what you want.  You can always find someone who'll make you a sandwich." 

So there you have it.  And he is right.  For the most part, people are kind and, should you need it, they will help you.  Lean on that knowledge when you need some comfort and encouragement and then set your shoulders back and get on with it.

Thanks, Professor Campenni!

And thanks, again, to Keri at Sandwich 365 ~


Saturday, August 14, 2010

About My Daughter

If you've read my blog long enough, you've probably noticed that I can go on and on about my beautiful boy, but seldom mention much about my daughter.

I've noticed that, too, and rather than continue being self-conscious about it, I thought I would just explain.

As I've mentioned before, we adopted our daughter from Ukraine at 16 months old.  And while most people think she was just a baby when we brought her home, that is not the truth.

The first 16 months of my daughter's life were filled with fear, pain, and utter loneliness.  A healthy baby abandoned at a poor hospital, it took the hospital 6 months to get around to placing her in the nearest orphanage.  Healthy babies don't get much attention at a poor, over-wrought hospital.  She was named by the village registrar as she filled out the transfer forms.  My daughter did not have a name for the first 6 months of her life.

Once she arrived at the orphanage, she quickly became ill with constant infections related to poor hygiene.  By the time we found her in the children's hospital, she had been in the hospital three other times with kidney infections and she suffered with whooping cough, all by 16 months old.

So we did not bring home a baby.  We brought home a cold, hardened little girl who was already world weary and emotionally stunted.  But we believed we could help her and have devoted the past 6 years to doing just that.

We tried to just "love her through it."  We showered her with love, time, and affection.  It made her more frightened and combative.  We tried giving her space and patience.  All she did was retreat further.  We tried family counseling.  My husband and I explored things in our own pasts that may have been complicating our relationship with our daughter.  Our self-understanding improved, but our daughter did not.

Finally, we tried an attachment therapist.  And it was only then that things made sense.  Our daughter has Reactive Attachment Disorder.  She rejects an emotional bond with anyone.  She does not love; she cannot love.  Any emotional intimacy simply terrifies her, on a subconscious level, and she works to repel any emotional connection with anyone.  She operates, emotionally and mentally, as if she is still an orphan.  She feels especially threatened by a parental relationship.  She rejects it openly.  Her heart is locked away, "safe" from all people.  She trusts no one, she loves no one, she believes she needs no one.

Emotionally, she cannot distinguish between strangers and family.  When I explain that my daughter does not love me, it offends the sensitivities of the average person and they argue with me, emphatically believing that she does love me.  They argue partly to spare my feelings, but even more to protect their own understanding of what a child is:  innocent, pure-hearted, vessels of love.  But my daughter does not love me.  And she doesn't love you.  She loves no one.

In order to preserve this emotional solitude, she must repel any and all close relationships.  All she knows is that she feels happier and more comfortable when there is distance, the more the better.  Distance is created by tension.  Tension is created in any number of ways; open defiance or passive aggression.  All you will know, if you are around my daughter long enough, is that you feel bad around her.  If she is around you enough, you will feel bad all the time, even after she's gone to school, gone to bed, is off playing alone.  You start to shut down emotionally, yourself.  You stay within yourself; you feel so heartsick that you begin to believe you have nothing to offer anyone; nothing anyone would want.  If your own child does not want you, who else would?  That is the state my daughter, subconsciously, works to affect in anyone close to her. 

This is where my family is right now with my daughter.  It happened slowly and systematically.  First, it was just me, and I thought I was just having difficulty adjusting to a challenging child.  I began loathing myself for my seeming weakness in the face of her challenges.  And I had help from others in this self-loathing.  People have perceived me, at times, to be cold toward my daughter, not hugging her enough, etc.  When I was weak, I agreed with them, pushing aside the reality that, unless there was someone else watching, she recoiled at my touch, my hug, my affection.  I began to believe that., somehow, I was the problem for my daughter.

Then my husband began to struggle.  He was surprised at how quickly and deeply he would lose his temper with her.  Always a remarkably patient person, the change in him was notable.  He began to hate himself for how easily angered he was with her.

And now it has happened with my son.  The nicest kid in the world, he is no longer interested in playing with or even really speaking much with his sister.  She does all she can to hurt him because she has finally figured out that the easiest and most undeniable way to incense us is to hurt him.  And she is right.

We have been working diligently and tirelessly to save our daughter and to save our family.  We have become a "therapeutic family" for her which is a "through the looking glass" type of parenting that, to see it, appears bizarre and harsh; emotions are removed, seemingly, and unbending rigidity is replaced.  Again, onlookers perceive that we are hard on our daughter.  The reality is, our daughter is hard on us, and we are fighting for our lives here.  If my daughter cannot be healed, she will live a life of emotional and moral turpitude, and the rest of us will suffer as we watch her live so miserably.

The one blessing out of this struggle is that it allows us to see and love and appreciate every moment with our son.  We take very little for granted.  We appreciate that he is happy to see us in the morning and that he says goodnight with a kiss before bed.  That he hugs us and smiles and means it.  That he will not malign us when our backs are turned.  That we can see him enjoy things and that he enjoys things that we enjoy.  That his heart is at peace when we are happy.  It is a blessing to appreciate his touch and to notice that his eyes meet mine.  It is a gift that I look forward to seeing him, and he smiles when he sees me.  It is an act of love that he tells us when he is sick or hurt and that he calls for us after a bad dream.  Do you know that a child makes a choice to depend you when she is sick?  Do you realize what an act of trust it is when a child calls for you after she has thrown up in her bed?  Do you know that some children would choose to sleep in their own vomit than give over enough of themselves to ask for help?  This is the perspective my daughter has brought to our lives.  And this is why I have endless moments to cherish with my son.  And why I struggle so with so little to write about my daughter.

It is not that I don't love my daughter, I do; with all my heart.  But loving my daughter, in all honesty, is about withstanding pain more than it is about enjoying moments of love.  And that is not something easy or pleasant to write about.

So please forgive me if my writings seem to exclude my daughter.  It is not for lack of love, but for lack of beautiful moments.


For more information on Reactive Attachment Disorder, I recommend: ATTACh

One more thing, there are more of us out there than you might think.  If you see a family where the dynamics seem to be just a little bit "off" and you are about to conclude that the mom is just "mean" or cold or controlling, please consider for a moment that there may be much more to the picture than you can see . . . and then say a prayer for strength for her and peace for the child.  I would appreciate it so much.  Thank you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nature-Nick Does The Fair

 (not my son, not our fair)

The county fair begins this weekend.

Before my son came along, if my husband and I went to the fair, it was mainly to shop the novelty stands, play a few carnival games, and have a beer or two.  If we didn't find a good band or an interesting act to watch, it was an early night. 

Then along came my boy and, as kids are apt to do, he turned the lights on in our lives and even the fair is a new place brimming with things we had never noticed before. 

I had no idea what we were missing.

My boy is a nature-nick.  He gardens and raises his own worms and newts; he has his own pond, and he even cooks.  He loathes rides, loud music, and mainstream mayhem.

When he was 5 years old, I got him started on making cookies and entering them in the fair.  I thought it would be a one-year lark.  He won first-place in the oatmeal category and that was it.  Ever since, he takes his cookies very seriously.  He has become a full-blown oatmeal cookie snob.  And when he goes to enter his cookies, he takes on an aire of an Iron Chef entering Kitchen Stadium.  Serious business.

 (Sophistication magazine)

Then we enter his pinewood derby car in the arts building.  He is feeling pretty confident this year since the body of his car actually holds water (a la snowglobe).  Pretty cool, I must say.

When we return to the fair once it is actually open, we must first check out the cookie placings.  He is used to getting either first or second place.  If not, we may be drowning our sorrows in a snow cone before heading over to check out the pinewood derby car category.  Since very few people seem to realize they can enter their derby cars, the competition is not usually very stiff.   

Then we head straight over to the native garden plot put on by the local extension office.  He shakes them down for all kinds of information.  They don't take him seriously at first, but once he refers to some plants by name and asks a question they don't know the answer to, he earns their respect.  By the time we are leaving them, they are reminding him of the minimum age for volunteers in their office. 

From there, we shop the booths looking for cheap lucky bamboo.  It's amazing the price breaks people will give an earnest kid.   

Then we hit the chicken barn and my son does his patented rooster call -- guaranteed to bend the ear of every rooster in the place and get an impassioned response from every single one of them.  We leave the place a'rocking and a'cackling.

We stroll through the goat barn while we discuss the ins and outs of having goats, legally, in the city.  Then we discuss the practicality in hiding goats in the city. 

We will offer him an ice cream cone from the dairy barn, but when he confirms that the ice cream is not made on-site from the dairy cows we just petted, he will imply that it is a misleading scam and opt for a funnel cake instead.  

After that we make a bee-line for the midway. 

But it's not what you think. 

My boy went on one ride too many last year at Hershey Park.  He's now traumatized.  No rides in his near future.  But we head to the midway just far enough to find the fishbowl game.  He has been saving his money for weeks.  We will play until we win at least one -- even if he needs parental subsidies to finally score one.  That fish wins the lottery because it will live in my son's pond along with prior years' winners, swimming freely and feasting lavishly on plant roots and larvae.  

On our way out, we will meander through the agricultural barn and marvel at the beautiful flowers and huge vegetables.  My son will outrageously claim that his sunflowers are every bit as big as the grand prize winner.  My husband and I begin to question his visual accuracy. 

All the way back to the car, we listen to him hatching a plan to grow the hugest pumpkin and the biggest sunflower and the reddest tomato for next year.

On the way home, he will implore us again to agree with him that his sunflower is way bigger.  We will just sigh and roll our eyes. 

Once we get home, no matter how late, he will want to float the fish bag in the pond and release his new tenant as soon as possible. 

(his pond was still under construction in this pic)

I must admit, it is a specially satisfying feeling to watch a little fish who, just hours ago had a gloomy future, find his way out of the bag and finally realize he is free.  The long, fast sprints of swimming are joyous to watch.  Eventually, the fish finds the pond's depths and disappears from our view for the night. 

We all come back inside and get ready for bed.

That's what the fair looks like when you're traveling with my boy; a nature-nick's take on the fair.

And I thought we'd been to the fair before him . . .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Peace on Earth,
Good will toward All,
From my pets to yours!

This dog is being nominated for sainthood someday!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Traci at 38 and Growing gave me this wonderful award.  She has a wonderful blog that you should consider checking out if you get the chance.

So, guess what?  I'm supposed to tell you 7 things you don't know about me.  I am beginning to wonder what there is I can tell you that:

1.  You don't already know.
2.  I don't mind you knowing.

Hmmm, let's see . . .

1.  I once went 5 full days and nights without eating a thing, only drinking water.  Dumb, very dumb.

2.  People who barely know me believe me to be a very confident person.  The truth is, I am actually one of the most insecure people you'll ever meet.

3.  I've only sent my picture to one online acquaintance, ever.  Unless you meet me in person, you probably won't ever know what I look like.

4.  I don't like nuts in brownies.  They ruin perfectly good brownies; I just don't see why people are so quick to do that.

5.  I've always wished I had a sister.  I've always felt a lack of women in my life.

6.  I spend time noticing that often the most idealistic people are also the most negative and I wonder whether they ever realize that.

7.  I think Robert Redford is an absolutely horrid actor.  Very handsome, but a horrid actor.  I just don't get it.

Okay, now I'm supposed to pass this award along, but I am always hesitant to do so because I dread leaving someone out, many blogs no longer accept awards, and I worry you won't actually want it (see #2).

So, if you're reading this and think you'd like to participate, please snag the picture of the award above and go to it.  Come back here and leave your link so people can find you.  Okay?  Okay. 

Thanks again, Traci!  I love your blog.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday 9

Happy Saturday!  I don't know about you, but I think this past week was one of the longest in my entire life.  I take refuge this weekend.

Time for the Saturday 9:

1. How many of your friendships have lasted more than ten years? Which of your current friends do you feel will still be important to you ten years from now?  In my adult life?  I think, sadly, I would have to say none.  Yikes!  But, in my defense, it has been a very fluid 15 years or so in college, moving, moving again, having a family, etc. 

2. When you look at yourself in the mirror, what’s the first thing you look at?  My hair.  In this humidity, it is usually quite the spectacle.  Ugh!

3. Who was the most recent person on your missed call list on your cell phone? What’s your relationship with the person?  My daughter's therapist.  She is my lifeline these days. 

4. What did your last text message you received on your cell phone say?  "Hi!  Can you believe it's me??  I'm seeing if I can get this text thing to work.  I'm going to send this now." 

5. How would you “label” yourself?  I have no idea what to make of myself.

6. What was your favorite age that you’ve been?  I think the first year of my son's life was the best -- everything was simple and happy and within my control.  I was 30.  Or maybe back when I was 19 or so and thought I knew everything and could handle anything.

7. What is your current desk top picture? What’s it significant?  Our chickens eating some watermelon, a fun summertime image.

8. What was the last thing you said to someone that you‘d like to take back?  Nothing, honestly.  I am very good at not saying things I don't mean.

9. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to go back in time and fix all your mistakes which would you choose?  Truthfully, I would GIVE all I will ever earn to be able to go back to fix my mistakes.  Not that there are many.  Just one.  A big one, that's all.

Pop over to Crazy Sam to participate or find other participants.

Have a weekend!

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm 1!

One year ago today, I began this blog.

I registered with Blogger and away we went.

I have met people who live down the road as well as down-under, from women with sheep to boys with chickens, people who knit and people who cook and, gasp!, people who do both.  Women and moms, fathers and men, and even a dog; you all bring something special to my life and I cherish those things.

I have laughed with you and cried with you . . . I've written when the words come easy and when they must be forced onto the page and glued down to stay there.

And you, my dear readers, have been most generous and patient with me.  You've read it all.  You've read when I've had something to say and when I've felt like I had nothing to say.

I thank you for all the times you've stopped by and for every comment you've left.  I have honestly treasured every one. 

And I thank you for the company and hours of companionship you have given me through your own blogs.  Your talents overwhelm and inspire me.

You have enhanced my life. 

Thank you. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Important Sandwich

A bridge was crossed yesterday.  A milestone reached.  And I'm not sure how I feel about it.

I was up to my eyeballs in paperwork, telephone calls, and official emails.  Lunchtime descended.  My son broached the subject of what to eat.  Food and serving food was the last thing on my mind.  What was on my mind was what was on the paper in my hands.

That's when it happened. 

Without even looking up from the document I was reviewing, I asked my son to make his own lunch . . . his own sandwich, namely.

And he did it. 

Somehow, while I continued to read on, he located the bread, the peanut butter, the jelly, the apple, and even selected a yogurt.

And he ate.

And then cleaned up. 

I finally tore myself away from my desk long enough to take him to his chess meet. 

And then I went back to my reading and my calling and my waiting to be called. 

And then we ran errands for three hours. 

And pretty soon I was kissing my boy goodnight.

And it was only after I sat down with my husband and reviewed the day's happenings that I realized that my son had made his own lunch for the very first time.  And my heart squeezed a little.

He's ten years old.  More than capable of making his own sandwich, I know.  And I know it is something he should be relied upon to do from time to time, with growing frequency as he gets older. 

But, from the time he was born, I promised myself I would not miss a thing.  I would not take anything for granted.  I promised myself, and my boy, that I would not wake up one day with a grown man for a son and not remember it happening.  That I would take notice of the little things, the measures of progress, and the milestones, for I fervently believe my great-grandmother's adage, "Every step they take is a step away from you." 

My boy took a big step away from me yesterday.  He made his own sandwich.  And from now on, it will be nice if I make him a sandwich, but not necessary.  Not necessary.

And it did, it snuck by me in an instant when I wasn't paying attention.

One more step away from me.

Time goes so quickly when you're watching a child grow.

My boy is on his way.

But as I look around the house, I am comforted. . . 

With all the socks he has still not learned to put in the hamper, he won't get too far.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thursday Thunks

Time for Thursday Thunks . . .

1. Do you have any special talents? Tell us about them.  Well, I've been told I'm a pretty good arguer.  Wanna make somethin' of it?

2. What is your favorite sound?  Hmmmm . . . probably my son's, "Good Morning, Mommy!"  or maybe the chimes on a town clock or perhaps the angelic voices of a boys' choir. the coo of a mourning dove . . . how can anyone answer this?

3. What was your favorite TV show as a child or teen?  I was big into Little House on the Prairie as a child, I confess.

4. There are a lot of specialty TV networks now devoted to things like golf, gardening, shopping, game shows, sports, news and sci-fi. Do you have any favorite TV networks?  I like the Food Network and the new Cooking TV. 

5. What is your guilty pleasure TV show?  The Real Housewives of ______.  What?  Oh, you love them, too!

6. Have you ever dreamt that you made love to someone you haven’t yet met?  Yes, and that's all I'm saying unless you buy me dinner.

7. What is your favorite sci-fi movie?  King Kong -- classic.

8. What is your favorite reality show?  It's a tie between Top Chef and Project Runway.  (Tie -- clothing humor, get it?)

9. When shopping at the grocery store, do you always return your cart?  Of course I do . . . what kind of psychopath do you think I am?

10. Do you take compliments well?  I'm horrible at it.  Don't say anything nice or I will have to argue with you until I win (see answer to #1).

To read more answers or to participate yourself, click over to Thursday Thunks.

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