Happy Birthday My Teen Emmy!

Happy Happy Birthday to my next new teen: My Emily!

Ah, this one, she is some special girl. And, as with all of them, I can hardly believe she’s thirteen, already! But then again, I can. Because she’s ready for it. She’s got a very mature heart and soul, this one. God gave her a special gift of a heart to see and he filled it with compassion. Now, to temper all that soft goodness he also gave her a really whomping powerful “Death Stare”…which, when she learns to use such power for the good, will be some extraordinary skill. In the meantime, we have the countdown:

Oh my Emmy, I love you so…not for these things only. No, I love you because you are YOU. But, these things, well, they are part of you too:

1. You are an animal lover in the biggest way,
2. especially our dogs,
3. but we won’t forget your love and fascination with dolphins and marine life….
4. even mermaids!

5. You ARE athletic,
6. even though you don’t always think so and think folks are wrong about that.
7. It’s your wickedly competitive streak (you HATE to lose those team games) that makes you feel like you are not so athletic,
8. because you won’t believe it until you reach pro or Olympic level.

9. As we see with your athletics conundrum, you will push yourself to do your utmost, always.
10. But happily enough, you still love to have fun.
11. You are growing into a remarkable, beautiful young woman,
12, who has an amazing future of adventures ahead of you….
13. Which I hope and pray will always let you laugh; your laugh is the best laugh in the world.

Happy Happy Birthday to my Sweet dear birthday Girl.

Thirteen….here we go!

Your dinner will be the best Carbonara I can make, homemade bread, fresh green salad and your favorite ice cream cake!

We are so proud of you and love you so, my Emmy.

Happy Merry Christmas Birthday Beauty!

Merry Christmas to all and an extra special Happy Merry Christmas Birthday to my sweet Sarahbird!

Halloween this year, silly last minute costume grab

Today is her birthday…her 13th birthday!

Yeah, it’s a biggie!

Because, now, she is officially a teen. Ok Ok, she’s been kinda sliding into this teen stuff for, oh, at least a year or so now.  I mean, you know, the moods, the bling, the nails, the eye rolls, the music, the giggled comments with her friends and sister, the fussing over shoes.  She’s the whole little preteen teen package.  Whoa, no more PREteen.  Now, it’s all teen, all the time.

But, you know, with that teen-hood, comes wider eyes and her heart is growing too.  Yes, some more rocky times, and bigger worries, of course for the parental types (be kind to us sweet Sarah!).  But also, with teen years comes those times for more heart to heart talks and understanding.  Some of the best stuff comes in the teen years too, it’s just easy to overlook it.  I promise you, honey, that one of my bday gifts to you is I will try to NOT overlook the good.

Anyhow, enough musing, today, this Christmas day when we are brought the greatest of gifts – once again I am reminded of one of our greatest gifts: our Sarahbird.  I know you were born on THIS day for a reason  honey: so we would never ever forget that you came swaddled in soft gift wrap, a living jewel.

  1. Your smile, your REAL one, can light up a room.
  2. You are shy at times,
  3. but you are also an extroverted firecracker,
  4. and, best of all, quick to say hello and befriend the new kid.
  5. You love music,
  6. and anything flashy,
  7. and nail polish, and fashion,
  8. and boots, oh…the boots you crave….oy!
  9. But you still are just young enough to still have fun w/ sweet toys, I love that.
  10. You are doing great in school, and that fortitude is one of your great gifts.
  11. You ARE a little bossy at times, ahem, like a teen girl, I suppose.
  12. You are fierce on the basketball court, a great fearless defense player, fun to watch.
  13. And you are a key part of this family – we love you so.
  14. This rock wall was scary but you did it!

We are so proud of you and we hope all your bday wishes come true.  You are our beautiful sweet Sarahbird.  We love you so and hope today is special and shiny and full of bling that makes your face light up with happiness.

Happy 13th Birthday Sweet Sarah, we are so proud of you and we  love  you!

Finding Silence in the Chaos

So, it’s the night before Christmas; only a few hours of it left. Finally, a small silence is descending upon the house. Not a complete silence, no, never. But, for the next, oh, HOUR, it’s as quiet as it’s been in weeks. {Although, realistically, by the time I post, that hour will be GONE baby GONE.}

The small boys have finally fallen to sleep; though I have to wake them in an hour to get to midnight Mass. Even so, I’ll take it. Two of the girls have fallen into drowsy snooze, another is doing hair and the eldest is quietly playing piano. Coffeedoc is resting a bit, chilling before the last big push of Advent: again, that beautiful rigorous glorious midnight Mass. Granpa G is downstairs, snoozing no doubt. Booboo, well, he’s either still out sitting with his sweet girlfriend or he’s gone down to play some music himself. I have 20 minutes before I need to change, myself, and then launch the troops.

Amidst all this hustle and bustle…oh, who am I kidding, amidst the bedlam and wild careening boys and snapping moody girls and the hoisting and toting and then clanging and speeding of time and bodies and lists and on and on…I’ve found myself wishing for that silence of Advent. Wondering where it went and how to find it. I’ve been craving that, but simply yearning for ANY kind of silence, inner, outer, body, mind, soul. I have to admit, I’ve despaired a bit, here and there, of finding it this season.

But as we wrap up Advent, I am rethinking that despair of missing it somehow. I’ve changed my mind a bit. I think that I have inadvertantly found that deep, that silent part of Advent. Over the past few days, this past week especially, the conversations I’ve had with good friends, my kids, my dear Tom, have struck me. It took me some stewing over it to parse out the why of it. But, what I’ve found in the moods and tears and needs that I’ve listened to, see, felt, held, soothed, paced about, vented about, jangled through my own self, prayed about…is that it’s in there still; that deep after all.

This is a kind of tough transitional Christmas here in our house due to big changes; to Chris being absent. Thus, the whole traditional everything….isn’t. It’s hard to polish up a tradition when one big piece of it is missing. It’s easy to hang onto what it WAS and what it seems it should/must be. But, the very challenging trick is to accept that it’s morphing into something slightly new, slightly different, yet essentially the same. And this year, well, this year there is some twinge of sadness over that. Hard to do. And it seems that Advent isn’t supposed to be about the blues or grief or fussing or worry or hating change; at the same time it all seems too loud, too busy, too jangly, too much, and somehow so very much not enough.

But that’s it! Right there. That’s the whole of it, in a way, isn’t it?

Advent isn’t Christmas. Not yet.

Advent is that whole wait and prep for Christmas. It’s that wait for a messiah. To save us/me. And so it only makes sense to my old brain that if that is so, then yeah, Advent might be a boatload of work and trying to make mountains move and fail and fuss and kvetch and whinge on and on and worry and just be out of sorts. I mean, the Virgin Mary had to ride a donkey into Bethlehem as she was beginning labor! Talk about having a hard time maintaining the cheerful can-do attitude! Ya think she wasn’t sad and fretting and just wanted to get off the road and settle? Um, I betcha. Kinda like Advent. Maybe, just maybe, we are supposed to recognize that our lives (ok, me, mine) here are not, cannot be, just so glitzy blingy perfect in every way no matter how many bows we stick on them and no matter how many hours sitting in traffic we log. Maybe, just maybe, we are supposed to see it, live it, do the physical bodily weary work of it so that we can cry out with joy when God descends to JOIN us and come and live with us….to save us from our selves. Maybe one of the key parts of Advent is really the process of it. Even in the midst of the wrapping the cutting the taping the labels the cookies the dishes the finding jackets and gloves and retying shoes…we actually, by doing the job in front of us, are preparing our hearts to rejoice, finally, fully, for real, at the birth of a savior.

Well, I guess that maybe that under all those tasks and sighs and clanging and banging….there is a deep work that is happening. And it’s silent, so easy to overlook. But, I really think it’s there. I’m counting on it.

And now, I am going to go dress for Mass, wake my kids, nudge them as they grump through the dressing and driving, smile at Tom when they fall asleep in the pew and then bring them back home and tuck them in bed. Because, I think I’ve found the silence I was craving. It was there all the time. Deep and still under it all. Which means I’m almost ready to sing. Merry Christmas…almost……

Almost, Almost…Hurry…

It’s almost here!  I think I’ve put this up, last year or before, but this is my soundtrack for today and tomorrow, so I’m loading it here too.

Knot those bows, ice those cookies, drink the nog or grog…..Christmas is almost, almost here!

Tannenbaum Tigger Express!

So, last night we decorated the tree.  And let me go on the record: Jon, and sweet Leslie, did an awesome job of finding and cutting and hauling that tree home! It’s a beauty, perfect!

But first, before we decorated (heck just before dinner, because I’m a genius like that), just to ramp up the crazy anticipation of it all, I made gingersnaps and let the kids decorate to their messy hearts content with white icing.  While they were cooking Gabe followed me around the house, literally, asking me at least 45 times, “When are the cookies going to be done? Are they ready now?”  So we set the stage with messy but yummy white snowflake, {snowdrift} ginger snaps .

No, we can't keep shirts on him, I don't know why.

The tree part? Well, it was the fastest, wildest, LOUDEST, trimming of any tree anywhere, ever.  It had to have been, I think there must be  a trophy for that somewhere.  Why, you ask? Well….you might guess that it was due to the evening hour.  You might guess it was due to pressing social engagements for the big kids.  

You might guess that it was because we are kind of expert at the process by now.  You’d be right, to a point, on all of those tries.  But, I will say that our tree trimming was the wildest ever due almost exclusively to the completely over the top wild excited crazy loud grabbing jumping frenzy that overcame little Gabey.  

It was a peak four-almost-five-year-old moment of Christmas anticipation/insanity and “It‘s so exciting I can’t contain myself for even a second” event.  So, while we did have Christmas carols playing to set the stage…really the soundtrack of the event was more like “Gabe! Wait! Don’t grab! Sssh, yes, you’re next.  No that one is Jon’s, THIS one is for you. Yes!  Tigger is  yours, hang him up, find a spot!” And while Tigger wasn’t officially his, before…well, I think that particular little old ornament MUST be now.  Because last night, our Gabey, he WAS Tigger!   

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fussing about it.  I think if we had had a slow really mindful tree trimming I might have start to leak a bit.  Pulling out those kid ornaments with the faces from years ago…you know those ones…

…the best ones….well, I had to pass the ones of our Chris over quickly to a big kid.  Or else I would’a started blinking fast.  

And one moment time started to slow, just a little tiny bit.  I handed a picture one of him to Hannah and said, “Hang this one more toward the back or side,” (because I had already had one hung in front of him and I didn’t want to overload in front) Well, she stopped and said, “What? No!“, she might have stomped her foot even, I don’t know.  But she marched over and said, “I won’t, it goes here.” And she hung that goofy ornament with his sweet face right up high center front.  

Touchy bits, this  year, here and there.  We all feel it this year, but only maybe more when it slows a bit or on those really peak tradition moments in this clan.  

Yeah, blinking fast here...aw

So, this year, Gabey’s wildness was a pure gift.  A loud gift, to be sure.  But, even so, a grace I’d say.  

Our gift of Tigger, in  his own wild bouncy bouncy loud self.  “Whoo-hoo-hoo!”

O Tannenbaum!

Christmas is SO exciting when  you’re almost five.  

Christmas strategies

This is just what we look like round here.....

Ok, so this is a quickie post, dashed off before I rush out to a therapist appointment for one of the kiddles.  This is, in a way, my public to-do list and a virtual accountability check for me.  Because,  you see, it’s really – oh boy is it  – Christmas break now.  Which means that all the kids are off of school and off of schedule.  Which means, as you moms with kids with different needs know, that things are off kilter in a very very big way.  And, you could say, as I have before, “Oh, well then, just make a new schedule!”  Um, yeah.  Kinda hard to do.  I mean, there is a ROUGH schedule to the days: we wake, we have puppy duties, we have essential  household tasks….but I have found that if I impose an “all new” holiday schedule onto the kids over break then we still have protest…because that is ‘change’.  And change is it’s own trigger too.  So, in essence, I’m burned, either way.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place, if you will.

So, to that end, I’m strategizing online:

  • I think I need to have a softly managed newer schedule sort of overlaid onto the days.  I’ve already gone over today in detail with Marta, suggesting the way it will play out, in blocks of hours.
  • Each day needs a highlight/goal activity: tonight is decorating the tree as a family, tomorrow will be…..cookies? I don’t know yet, but I”m thinking on it….
  • Each day needs a walk with at least a few of the kids, Marta, Little Man, the puppy…maybe all the kids (tho a number of the kids need running for conditioning for basketball so that might be on tap too. But them, not me, my running days are done)
  • Reading aloud each day? Maybe.  The small boys and the new teens love it.  Marta gets overwhelmed and frustrated, and retreats to her room…so not sure.
  • Setting up a craft a couple of days this week? Suggestions? Ones that I don’t have to be involved in, more kid level/ability…because, while I was an art major, I hate crafts…..because I’m a total mom fail in that realm.  I admit it. I own it. Don’t judge me.
  • Shopping for Christmas.  This is hugely important, they kids need to gift to each other.  But Dad or Big Kids need to take them because I will want to commit Hari Kari if I do it.  Just saying.

Ok, so that’s my disorganized brainstorm thoughts this morning.  You can see I need help.  If you have any great suggestions, let me know, especially you moms of kids who live/die by the rigidity of their need for schedules and organized time, and/or have trauma/need issues.  I”m all ears and as you can see, just pedaling as fast as I can to figure it out.  And, clearly, not there yet .  Anyone???

And, as you’ve noticed, blogging is and will be sporadic, due to crazy busy household insanity with the holidays our own little Norman Rockwell Christmas Shangri-la.

It’s all about my brother….


 It’s my big brother’s bday today!
Happy Birthday David!

My biggest brother, I love him.  I only see him once in a blue moon.  I hate that but, BUT, I”m gonna see him in a few weeks and I’m so excited!
He’s some special guy.
He’s a mountain man at heart, a GIA certified jeweler (I know! Cool, huh?!),  a crazy freaky fast far distance runner back in the day/decades, and entrepreneur now importer/exporter, and a world traveler extraordinaire.

He’s the kid in our family that would alway surprise you, and at the same time, NEVER surprise you.

Because with Dave, anything could happen.

And…still might.  Ya just never know….

(the infamous 70′s prom pic, with my beautiful sis next to him)
He was the one to strike out, on his own, across the globe.  Totally and utterly self-sufficient – an Eagle Scout you know – he was kind of an early version of “Man vs Wild” but without the gross out food stuff and the video cam strapped to his pack.  David can pretty much  handle anything, anywhere…unless maybe it’s a gaggle of wild unruly loud crashing kiddles….or meat.

He likes to pose as a gruff curmudgeon, but he has the best of hearts under all that and his twinkly eyes give him away.

(Trumpkin reminds me of my big bro, every time, just a shorter warrior version.  
It makes me smile.)

He can make me laugh til I cry, he is innately witty and with that dry sense of humor he is just laugh out loud funny, always has been.

He is loyal and true and just an all around best kind of guy.
I love him to pieces and am sending him bday hugs from the south.

I miss you Dave and hope you have the best happiest of birthdays!!
I love you!

Happy Happy Bday David!  I will see you soon, yippee!

Finding Buddy

Ok, I’m trying.  But it’s a toughie this year; more so than others.  But I’m trying…. It’s a deliberate decision; an intentional choice.  

Let me clarify: this season of Advent and Christmas is being a bit challenging on finding and holding my “christmas cheer.”  By which I mean, we are overrun with hard this year, in particular: we’ve got RAD behavior and  meltdowns flying all over, we’ve got final exams taking their very ugly snipy gripey pressured toll, we’ve got the keenly felt absence of the eldest, we’ve got a little of the same biz and financial pressures that so many – oh, all of America, the world over even – are feeling, we’ve got some kids not very well regulated with their issues and behaviors…the list goes on.  And that list, that “not nice list” that I just typed out…well, it’s been kind of crushing my spirit.  Which means, it’s been kinda crushing the warm glow of this Advent season as well ’round here.  

So,  yesterday I made the choice.  I decided to lock Scrooge away; to close the door on him, turn the key and walk away.  I don’t wanna be Scrooge.  I don’t like him.  I don’t like me, as him.  So, I decided that I didn’t need to face any more ghosts or shades of what it coulda/shoulda be or has been….and sulk about it.  

From Scrooge, Classic, Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

 I decided that blues or no, RAD or adhd, bored or happy kids, we still were gonna “do” Christmas.  I owe it to the kids still here, the little ones, the big ones, the grownups even.  We owe it to each other…to embrace this season.  Sure, there are hard things; some of those RAD explosions are breathtaking and not in a good way.  But, none of it is gonna be better with wallowing in the hard and so we are gonna move through it, dragging our brightly colored lights and tinsel right through the meltdowns and the anxiety and the moods.  I will do what I can to sit and calm the kid(s) who need it. I will do what I can to check in with each kiddle daily.  I will do what I can to offset anxiety about changing schedules (new daily schedules posted, endless rechecking and confirming as requested).  I will do what I can to BE PRESENT.  But I’m gonna stop waiting for it to settle or be perfect.  Because it’s not gonna be.  This Christmas and Advent is different.  It’s a challenge in it’s own unique way, this year.  

So, I’m gonna “fake it til we make it.”  Or go down trying.  Maybe it will distract the ones who need it.  Maybe it will jump start those festive elfin feelings…in me, heck, maybe even the kids and husband.  The dog is looking more chipper already, I swear!  So, to that end, yesterday I went and gathered decorative sorts of things and I put them up….started a few new traditions even, maybe….and made the house start to look like this is a special season, set apart.  {And, yeah I know, messy kitchen and not much to see, but I TOLD you I was starting small, ok? Those snowflakes are small but tacky silly fun dangling there, made the kids say “ooooh!” Hence, worth it; don’t judge me.}

silly snowflakes, just for fun and sparkly magic

I might have even brought in a sprinkle of magic dust to make the kids go “Oh!”  Ok, I did, and  it made me very happy to see their faces and hear it. It did.  It seemed to work; at least for the evening.  

Now, we still have another day of finals to get through.  But then my college  boy is traveling over the river and through the woods. He will be arriving home this weekend, hopefully with a big ol’ tree in tow (or on roof).  Just that, right there, is gonna add a fair lot of Christmas joy around here too.    

simple but a far site better than totally bare like before

By golly, by elf……Christmas approaches.  It’s a season of magic.  We may or may not be as giddy as some years…but we are gonna try.  Forget Scrooge.  We are channeling Buddy.  

I’m feeling a tiny glimmer more sparkly already.  

Twenty times, my Jon

Happy Happy Birthday to my boy, my second born son, my Booboo!

You are twenty!!

And I know that you’re in finals and you’re swamped….and that you want to take a raincheck, or an exam-check, on your birthday until you are home to celebrate properly.  And we will.  But, even so, you have to know that today I am thinking about you, remembering your birth, the day, the entire crazy morning…and I’m sitting here doing it with a grin.  I’ve said my morning prayers for your birthday intentions, you’ll be in my heart and head and prayers all day long.  I can’t wait until you’re up so I can call you, but out of deference to your age (did I mention, it’s 20?!?!?) I will wait until a more reasonable hour when I’m sure you’re awake.  How about around noon?

I’ve said all your birthday wishes and notes before.  But, I can’t  help it, I’ve gotta post something for you, for this momentous day.  So, without further ado, yes, you guessed it, twenty things about you, my Jon, in no particular order of rank, on your birthday:

  1. I love it that  you are so creative.
  2. and so musical and I get to listen to you play.
  3. and that  you have so much fun being a DJ and it makes me grin that you’re so successful at it.
  4. I love it that you have a mind that is always scheming,
  5. even when it also kind of worries me.
  6. I figure you will always land on your feet
  7. because you have crazy sharp common sense and savvy
  8. and let’s face it, you were an old man the day you were born.
  9. You have such a soft compassionate heart
  10. that you hide from most
  11. though you have a harder time hiding your keen sense of justice
  12. and your eyes to see the littler ones.
  13. You are an amazing big brother
  14. and we count on  you to be that, more than you might realize.
  15. You can make me laugh til I cry
  16. which is one of my favorite things.
  17. You love babies and dogs
  18. and, perhaps not surprisingly, they love you back (they are natural good judges of character!)
  19. You seek the truth, no matter what
  20. and have the heart to go there, wherever you find it.

And it’s not part of the list, because it’s way too big for that…but we love you and are so very proud of you, today and every day.  We miss you and cannot wait to hug you in person.  In the meantime, enjoy your birthday cake (I hope it arrives in good, delicious, shape!).

Happy Happy Birthday My Jon, Happy 20!

We hope all your birthday wishes come true….and we love you so……

Immaculate…what a concept


Saint Anne conceiving the Virgin Mary
Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse
 Oh, it’s a big feast today!  It’s one of those feasts: an uber Catholic one. It’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. It’s actually a Solemnity, which means it has even more import…so it’s a biggie!

 This is one of the big Marian feasts, and one that often gives many folks some consternation (from a scratch on the head to fits).  For a good explanation of it all, go here (and scroll down for all those, “What’s up with that” “How can that be?” kind of responses).  I can’t give you a great theological treatise on it.  It took brilliant theologians from the east and west to determine this one over the centuries, but they did because we are human. And our inquiring minds want to know, and puzzle and ponder.  So those who have gone before us prayed and debated and concluded.  I can say that it only makes sense to my puny brain.

Pierro de Cosimo, “The Immaculate Conception and Six Saints”
For a long time, I thought that the “immaculate conception”referred to Mary’s conception of Jesus, you know, with the descent of the Holy Spirit and Gabriel and all…clean, tidy, right?
But noit’s actually about Mary and her being preserved from the stain of original sin.
Confusing, a little, huh?
Well, this is how it parses out in my old mom brain: God himself is all love and of course, without sin.  God came to us in his son, Christ, who was also without sin (being God and all).  Since all purity and all love cannot coexist with the stain of sin, how could Christ come to us as a man, without first having a pure ‘vessel’, if you will?  Well, he couldn’t, that would not correspond with the natural/divine order.  Growing in utero is, utterly, coexisting.  So, if God cannot coexist with sin, then a human mom to be would have to be found, sinless.  And thus, since God is beyond time, he prepared Mary, {from her conception of course}, to be without sin.  Because God knew, outside of time, that Mary would be the perfect (literally and figuratively) mom for Jesus.

Now, I think that’s cool!  It makes perfect sense to me and really is one of those ‘clap your hands, I get it” kind of moments.  Yeah, it’s uber Catholic.  But hey, I love being Catholic because (well, so many reasons) its cool and rich and takes my breath away.  And of course,  I love feasts….so it’s a good day!

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

**Disclaimer: yes, you saw most of this last  year.  But it’s advent and I need to be frugal w/ my net time.  So instead of wracking my puny brain to find another way to say this. I’m gonna go with what I said.  Because I meant it then and still do. Thanks for understanding…

Checking it twice….stoves!

Its’ the feast of St. Nicholas!
And, as I’m working on my own elfin to do list, in the spirit of the real St Nicholas, I want to put this on the top of our Christmas list.  The real St Nicholas was known to throw small bags of gold over the walls of some of the poor in his village; not the standard help mode of the time….

A citizen of Patara had lost all his money, and had moreover to support three daughters who could not find husbands because of their poverty; so the wretched man was going to give them over to prostitution. This came to the ears of Nicholas, who thereupon took a bag of gold and, under cover of darkness threw it in at the open window of the man’s house. Here was a dowry for the eldest girl and she was soon duly married. At intervals Nicholas did the same for the second and third; at the lasttime the father was on the watch, recognized his benefactor and overwhelmed him with his gratitude

So, in light of the spirit behind that…by which I mean, doing what works to help families – because we all need it from time to time….I offer this.  This is what I want for Christmas.  I want a new stove.  I don’t want the biggest Viking house beautiful stove or cooktop. I want this stove.  Because it will be a way to make a home more beautiful, and a family do better, this Christmas.  Go, see.  Put a stove on your list!  Put ten!  This present will last longer, taste better, and bring more joy than any other gizmo that is topping the charts.  Step into the spirit of Father Christmas today…..
The Adventure Project Holiday Stove Campaign from The Adventure Project on Vimeo.
All I want for Christmas is…a stove or two or ten!”  
Think about THAT as you’re warming up your cocoa! “

Shadows in adoption; part 1

I’ve been thinking about shadows.

I’ve been thinking about adoption shadows – by which I mean little passing things that flit across the tarmac of our families.  I sometimes think of them as remnants.  They aren’t full blown issues that come and squat down smack in the middle of the family room, taking up too much room on the sofa.  Rather, they are shadows that flutter by, reminding you “Oh yeah, there’s still stuff here.”

Specifically, I want to talk about my sweet Gabey.  He’s been home about 3.5 years now! Already! He came  home an adorable wide eyed serious toddler, and has evolved into a LOUD funny smart sweet mischeivous prince of the palace.  He charms the socks off of all he meets, if he’s so inclined.  If not, then, he turns  his attention away, no matter their efforts.  And, I used to say that his adoption was our easiest ever – out of five.  And, in many many ways, it was. It so was.  But, as it goes in real life, nothing is ever really that simple.  It would be a grave error to think, simply because his homecoming seemed simple, and his knitting into our clan seemed so smooth…..it would be a deep mistake to think that all that meant that it was simple, or seamless.  Because, it is not.  It cannot be.  Adoption isn’t like that.  And you’re fooling  yourself and doing your kid(s) a disservice if you think it is.  Which is not to say that you should keep a klieg light on it all, all the time.  Certainly not.  But, don’t dismiss those shadows.

When I speak of the shadows, I”m not only talking about that ever so topical one: attachment.  It’s there, it’s always there…but it’s not usually a shadow so much, now is it?  Usually, if you’re talking about attachment you’re talking about that big tangly monster of issues that IS taking up so much room on the sofa.  Now, I’ve got a few different shadows that I’ve been seeing and thinking about.  This post  however, after all, might as well start with the biggie.  All that attachment stuff is the first thing that comes to mind for most of us; it’s the big gorilla, most of the time.  Sometimes, though, sometimes, attachment IS more of a shadow.  It can be a shiver glinting by at a family gathering or a after a school play.  I didn’t think my Gabe had attachment issues, not really, not now after over three years here.  But, you know what? He does.  Maybe more than I realized for awhile.  He does.

These attachment issues are more fleeting moments, but they are there and we would be remiss to not keep that on top of our awareness and work to walk through them.  More now, we see him willing to walk away with someone who is, effectively, a stranger, when we are football games.  Perhaps he is willing to walk further and beyond because he is almost five and testing those boundaries. But perhaps it’s that sometimes, deep deep down, there is a gap.  Maybe.  Maybe that’s why sometimes he still turns his back and snuggles into me backwards when coming in for a hug.  Because somehow frontward is TOO close, for him.

So, what do we do about this new awareness, this new sighting of these shadowy attachment tangles? Well, we don’t take it for granted.  We do the work.  We connect.  Every way we can.  When he needs us to walk him into the darkened room (another shadow, another post), we do it.  When I can help him with his shirt in the morning, I do.  When he wants to run to me to let me smell his breath after brushing his teeth, I breath in his little boy toothpaste.  When he sits near me and asks, “Which shoes mom?”, meaning, which feet do they go on….I say “Yup, that way,”  about his tumbly socks and shoes.

and as the little boy he is...he likes to make faces now for the camera too....

This special boy, he is getting bigger.  He is realizing the world is a much bigger place than he knew.  He is almost five now and  his shoes, his heart and understanding are all taking giant steps forward.  No matter the shadows, I want to make sure I hold his hand as he goes.