Archive for September, 2012

Alien of Another Kind

Been a bit busy around here, and Amie has been under the weather. She doesn’t get sick very often. Quite rare in fact, but the trip to Africa (and all the stress) have probably compromised her immune system. So she has a nasty sinus and respiratory infection that just won’t let go. Sort of like the alien that shoots out of the pod and sticks the tube down your throat with its tail around your neck. I expect some alien creature to pop out of her chest whenever she has a coughing fit.

Okay, not really.

We last I wrote, we had discovered that the DHS officer working immigration at  the airport had really botched things. Asher’s date of entry, among other things, was not entered. He is technically not in the country as far as USCIS is concerned. Yes, we have an undocumented child.

We have received Micah’s green card despite not being listed as her parent/guardian on the file by the DHS employee (maybe he was a replacement DHS worker since he seems unable to do his job like the replacement refs).

One of these may appear at any moment

Amie has talked with 5-6 people with USCIS about this problem. No one seems to 1. know how to address it and 2. know who does know how to correct it. So she gets another number to call, explains it (as she tries not to cough up a lung, or alien baby), and gets another number to call. It’s like trying to get an answer from the administration about the protests in the Middle East- the answer always changes. Actually, the 5th or 6th person never called us back. We’ve been on USCIS hold for about 1 1/2 weeks.

She tried the State Department. They seemed nice, wanting to help. Couldn’t/didn’t.

Bruce should rename this song “Call it Bureaucracy”. (there is profanity, so decide whether you want to hear it) (the story continues after the song)

Now we are on to Senator McCain’s office. I’m not wild about McCain. But as the Senior Senator from AZ (he is, right?) he’d probably have more pull than Kyl, and Ron Barber reeks of incompetence. Perhaps he works for DHS in his spare time messing up immigration forms.

The SSA, on the other hand, has surprised us greatly. This despite the fact they couldn’t pull up Asher’s records. Micah’s card, which was supposed to take 2 weeks was actually printed the day I went in and we received it a few days later. I was told at least 4-6 weeks for Asher’s due to the “problem”. Less than 2. So in less time than it took anyone from USCIS to get back to us (okay, one did, on a Saturday, but gave us another number), the SSA has gotten us SSNs and cards for these to new children. Go figure.

There haven’t been many photo ops as we have settled into the busier life that Fall brings. Sunday School and the Men’s and Women’s ministries have resumed. BSF has begun. Not as much leisure time. This is part of why we didn’t want to wait until the agency was ‘ready’ for us to go. We wanted some more relaxed time before everything ramped up.

I was supposed to go to Presbytery last week, in Albuquerque. I didn’t take the right turn by mistake. I didn’t go (see aforementioned alien baby). But we did have dinner with some friends on Saturday night. The kids played dress up. Micah was not too happy about her outfit. Though the nights are cooler now, The daytime temps are still around 100. Had to be hot in that thing. But you can tell that summer is over, you have to wait a few minutes for hot water. It isn’t instantaneous right now. Such is life in the desert.

Asher has been store the food in his mouth more frequently lately. We aren’t sure if he’s hoarding (which is common, but this way?) or wants to act like he’s eating without actually swallowing food he doesn’t want. No clue. But there have been some tantrums about that, particularly since neither he nor Amie enjoy the process of digging the food out of his mouth. We will take a page from Amy Smith’s book, and the food he doesn’t eat will reappear at the next meal. No, not the chewed up, drooled upon bits.

Micah has been doing well. But still cries at night. She claims she doesn’t want to go to bed. I understand that, I didn’t either as a child. This morning she was tired. “See, I told you you needed to get some sleep.” Not exactly what she wanted to hear. She was angry the other night because she wanted to bring a stuffed animal to bed with her. Not a problem, in theory. The problem was it is an animal that her cousins gave her during the “magical” time of our visit last winter. It has fond memories for her. Last night I was trying to find another one, from the great, big bin of them we have, for her to bring to bed. Nope, that was the only one she wanted. I can see this is going to go well.

Next time I write, perhaps the alien baby will be born and our son will be “documented”. Then again…..


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It is fun getting to know the personalities of the kids. And their different mannerisms. Both Micah and Asher do what we call “the royal nod”. To communicate yes they make a barely perceptible nod. You aren’t sure you can trust your eyes. So, you end up asking them the same question a few extra times.

Micah has become enamored with my hair. She’ll stroke the back of my head, and tonight my goatee. I guess the texture is so different that she enjoys it. Sometimes she’ll stroke Jadon’s hair too.

Sort of a strange week. The Fall schedule ramped up at church and elsewhere. SS started, so now we are studying Revelation before the worship service. My Sundays got a bit longer. BSF has started as well. On Monday nights, Jadon goes with a friend of ours. Then on Tuesday morning, Amie takes the other 3. That leaves me home to home school Jadon.

Game Day also started. It is basically phys. ed. for home school kids. This was the first time Eli was officially participating. He didn’t participate for long. First, he wasn’t on Jadon’s team for a form of tag using flags (like in flag football). Then, it was the new game. While I tried to take a walk (with Asher in the stroller), he stood in the middle of the field of play crying. Micah did much better, going with the flow.

After it was over they all went to play on the playground. It was a bad parenting moment- I trusted them. When I was trying to round them up to go home, I couldn’t find any of them. Ash had strolled off, and one of the other dads was bringing him back. The others had absconded to the bathroom while a friend washed off some bug.

Amie has been sick, so that is always a joy. Which is ironic since the kids are healthy but have had lots of doctor’s appointments in the last week for shots and a TB test (all is well). As a result, I may have to fill in at the Adoption Shower tomorrow. I was ready for a “Steve movie” and may have to live with the disappointment.

We’ve been wondering what is going on with their green cards. We did get notice of action for Micah about 2 weeks ago. Nothing for Ash. Amie called Tuesday, and got no answers. That was for a higher tier.

That morning I went to the Social Security Administration (SSA) since I only had one child. The SSA was a tad confusing for a new comer. You had to check in with security guy and turn off your phone (though this did not stop some people). You lose track of time in there, and can’t be reached by anyone. Fun. So we were there later than anticipated. Hers went through okay, but there was a problem with his. We should get her card in 2 weeks, assuming the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t lose it. His might come in 4-6 weeks. I wondered if it had anything to do with not getting any notice of action from DHS or whatever it is now.

Amie finally talked with someone with a higher pay grade. Apparently the immigration dude (may he abide) either had the worst day imaginable, was under the influence of some chemicals or is incompetent to the extreme. An error- understandable. 2? I can fathom. But he made so many it was incredible. Asher’s date of entry wasn’t entered. So he’s technically not in the country. He didn’t enter what type of Visa. He put the birth mother as the contact, not Amie, for Micah. So … we are not sure why we got any notification for her. We are not sure how they plan to work this all out. Great…..

We need the SS cards so we can refile our 2011 taxes. As a non-Hague country, the adoption is based on the date of the decree, not when we took custody of the children. That puts us in a refund year, not a tax credit year. That is a big difference for us.

Soon we’ll have to work on the re-adoption. So, you see, the paperwork is not done.

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Sometimes folly is fun

There is proverb that goes something like this:

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22

The more you parent younger children, the more you realize how true this statement is. Folly is bound up in the heart of each child. It will express itself in many forms, which will differ among children. Sometimes that folly is really funny.

Take yesterday. Foolish, crazy, funny creativity. While waiting in the exam room Eli turned the doctor’s stool into a ride. Any number of children and dolls would sit the and be pushed around. Or he’d just lie on his stomach and move himself around the room. There are times his silly creativity is really funny.

Then there is Ash who kept moving the sticker he got at the doctor’s office. As you can see, it ended up on his head.

Not so funny was Eli about to put his on the inside of the recently tinted minivan windows. We already talked to him about that. My new thing with him is “When you are about to do something, ask yourself, has mom or dad said not to do this?” I’m trying to slow him down so common sense has a reasonable chance versus the folly. It needs all the help it can get.

And there are moments that remind me of Bill Cosby’s Himself. The “brain damage” is clearly evident (that is just another phrase for folly) and you go over the edge. No, neither of us holds a yardstick like a samurai warrior. But we pretty much say “I have had enough!”

It is not so funny when the kids completely tune you out. Or they use rash speech, as one of ours is prone to do. Nothing like that to move the discipline up a notch. Parenting is difficult. You deal with folly often. And it does need to be loved, nurtured, instructed and disciplined out of a child. That is wearisome. How many times do I have to tell the same child not to come downstairs during nap/rest time? Every day it is the same thing. Maddening! Brain damage.

Somehow the gospel finds us. Sometimes before we snap. Sometimes after we’ve lost our temper. Sometimes we remember how patient God is. After all, he was sending prophets to the northern kingdom for over 200 years before he sent them into exile at the hand of the Assyrians. They were committing the same sins for 200+ years. Not minor, petty stuff either. They were guilty of gross idolatry, syncretism and adopting the loathsome practices of the nations they had dispossessed. Yes, the very sins that caused those nations to be removed in judgment (read your Bible carefully, that what the conquest was- a judgment on those nations whose sin had reached its fullness).

While we must be patient with our children’s folly, we can’t ignore that folly. At least when it involves disobedience and the endangerment of self or others. When the worst days come, I often need to be reminded that I am not unique in this, and laugh. And that is where Bill Cosby comes in.

Asher and Micah have a common trait- the death glare. When they are mad at you they glare at you. Micah is not very emotional, unlike Jadon who is emotional enough for both of them. Ash is young enough to still have tantrums. But both glare, refusing to meet your eyes.

Soon they will discover that I can outdo them in the death glare. I have 4 decades of experience in these matters. I won’t be intimidated by the death glare of a pre-schooler. Not happening on my watch. But perhaps I ought to give them a big kiss instead.

It is a challenge for us as parents. Our home is not like the Cosby skit. There are not regular beatings. Fury is not spent beating children into submission. But there is discipline. We need to show that discipline is part of love.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Hebrews 12

They need to see loving discipline. While reminding Jadon that God disciplines those He loves, she responded with, “Not that again!”  Sometimes Micah cries when we discipline another child. She has to watch us to see it is part of love and not harmful.  That will take time and consistency. That can be difficult when the brain damage is spreading like a plague.

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Doubling Up

We doubled the number of children.

That means lots more dirty dishes in the dishwasher. We often run out of spoons. We lost some tea spoons along the way, so we often go to the brink. 3 meals exhaust the plastic plates we bought from Ikea. Thankfully they use the same cups all day or there would be no room in there.

Don’t tell our environmentalist friends, but sometimes Amie uses paper plates. This is part of life with 4 kids instead of 2. Life as an octomom would be “worse”. Amie does more laundry, obviously. But that is harder to notice since the kids don’t run out of clothes each day.

Tonight we went out. Chick-fil-a. Tuesday is Family Night. In the past, they offered a free children’s meal if an adult purchased a meal. It was packed when we’ve gone there before. We thought this would be a good, inexpensive night out. They stopped offering the deal. The decidedly slower pace of the night are a clear indication of just how popular that night was. Key word: was.

So we bought large quantities of nuggets. No meals. We still had a good night out, and an enjoyable meal. They kids still enjoyed some crafts. We have to adjust our dining out patterns. It will be hit and miss for awhile. Just one of those little things you don’t really anticipate.

Don’t be confused. We’re having a blast together. Most of the time.

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Struttin’ His SuperUndies Stuff

Amie is Dutch. I have a litany of Dutch jokes.

If you’re not Dutch, you ain’t much.

If you’re not Dutch, you paid to much.

This 2nd one points to their frugality. That is not a bad thing, thriftiness. Especially when you are a pastor’s wife. Especially when your husband is a carnivore.

Boys typically get the whole night training more slowly than girls. That little chemical in their brain takes longer to gain power over the desire to destroy. So, a family can quickly go broke paying for diapers or pull-ups. Or with all the laundry that can happen.

So in December 2011 Amie discovered SuperUndies. Some genius figured out that microfiber technology might be the way to go. So they made reusable underwear for kids to wear at night until they can hold it (or get up). Obviously you don’t want to use these with a child who is not potty trained, because they are not designed to handle poop. Just pee.

At first he didn’t like them because they were a little bulky. But he soon got used to them and hasn’t needed to see the chiropractor. He puts them on himself, and without fuss.

So, on those mornings when they are wet, we rinse them out in hot water. They go into the washer, on the sanitize setting with a little detergent (no bleach or softener) and then we dry them on the rack. They can go in the dryer, but there is that Dutch thing she’s got going on. She learned this technique over time, and after a helpful email from Laura at SuperUndies. Now we don’t have a smell.

I love Super Undies.  I wish we’d found them sooner.  I love that we can use a cloth product that keeps Eli dry, and keeps his bed dry.  While he occasionally has what we call “pee pee leakage,” it is far less than it was when he was in diapers.  I have purchased some of the inserts, but that pee pee leakage is so inconsistent, it’s just not worth it for me at this point.

When I purchased Super Undies, I bought two pair.  One of the pair has held up better than the other.  I’m not sure why, but there’s some stress on one of the seams in one pair of Super Undies.  The other pair is just fine.

For him, we have 2 pairs. He goes through stretches when they will be dry for a few days. And sometimes he stores up water and there is leakage. But not nearly as often as we experienced with diapers. And we aren’t continually adding to the landfill.

She likes them too.

As the adoption approached, Amie saw an opportunity to blog about SuperUndies to get a free pair. So, Micah wears a pair to bed. It has been 3 weeks, and no wet ones yet. So, soon she won’t be wearing them (and THAT’S when she’ll have her first accident).

So, if the cost of diapers and pull ups for night training are creating a budget deficit, an investment in SuperUndies ($30) may help you out in the long term.

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One thing that is becoming clear to me is that Ash is nothing like Eli. We adopted Eli at 20 months and Ash at 24 months.

Oh, he’s having a blast!

One of the differences is that Eli was very timid. He was afraid of swings, for instance. He was hesitant when it came to playing at the park.

Ash is not timid, or hesitant . He not only didn’t mind the swing, but wanted me to push him as high as human possible. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of much.

They both have rather infectious smiles.

Eli has been a great big brother lately. He seems to have make enough of a transition. He was feeling displaced (normal), and missing Jadon. But he’s been looking out for Ash the last few days. Particularly at the park as Jadon seemed more focused on herself (we all have our bad days). I made sure I affirmed him. I want to encourage that good stuff.

Ash has started to “chatter”.  Jadon keeps asking Micah “Say ….”. She’s doing great, and has started to use short sentences. Jadon speaks random Lingala terms.  But Ash has joined the game, repeating various words best he can. As you might imagine, it is getting noisier here- in a good way.

But there are still times when it is hard to communicate. Or when things that shouldn’t. Micah was sad today. She can’t tell me why. It might because Jadon was crying that she didn’t have a pretty dress to wear to church. Most had been handed down to Micah. No telling how a 5 year-old interprets that. Perhaps she felt it was her fault. But she’s usually quite happy. Today, she isn’t.  And that makes me sad.

Overall the adjustment has been much easier than we expected. It has been easier than Eli’s transition, which is what set our expectations. As we keep up with other families that have adopted from the DRC in recent months, we see that we are among those who have had a pretty good transition. Some others have had more difficult transitions. It is hard bringing a new child into your home. You have no idea how they were raised so far. You have no idea of their personalities. So, there are a lot of unknowns.

But there is also the joy of new discoveries! The kids watched a movie yesterday. So it was time to make popcorn. Perhaps they have had it, but apparently they haven’t watched it being made in my old fashioned popper. It was exciting for them. I love that.

Amie found this today. Sounds like something I’d put together, lyrically. But I don’t have the technological chops to do this. But, then again, this is not just a bored set of parents. Enjoy!

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