Thursday, December 31, 2009

This new chapter brings 25 plus years rushing back

As we embark upon this new year, which is always a time for reflection, I have much more to reflect upon than ever before as my son prepares to be married this coming Saturday. To say that the years rushed by in the blink of an eye does not even do the passing of time justice. I sit here with tears stinging my eyes as I think of the newborn, the baby, the toddler, the boy, the adolescent and now the man that my Justin has become.

My dreams for him are all being realized. He is moving through this life in a way that would make any mother proud. He is a good person, loving, kind, hysterically funny, hard working and now all of those wonderful qualities are going to be appreciated by a loving wife. Judy is bright, beautiful and loves Justin as fiercely as he loves her. No mother could or should ask for more.

I cannot say that it has all been smooth sailing. I would not be doing the man justice if I told you that falsehood. Thankfully though, with each mistake came an opportunity to learn and my boy has always been bright enough to learn his lessons well the first time. Because he has learned lots of lessons early, he has set himself up for success and happiness during this time and beyond.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention that even though my dreams are being realized that there have been growing pains experienced as the mother of a grown child while still mothering the DD. Navigating the "letting go" process has been painful in some ways and exhilerating in others. I have found it to be the most challanging part of parenting so far. It is not an easy thing to watch as your son chooses a woman to spend his the rest of his life with and no longer needs his mother in the same way. This natural process has been a bit hard for me. Justin has a new number one woman in his life and that is as it should be. However, that does not mean that it was not without some uncomfortable moments along the way. When my four year old children look at me it is with blind and unadulterated adoration. A grown son looks at his wife in that way. There are lots of years and time to come to grips with the changes but there still is a learning curve...especially for someone as emotional as I am.

The beautiful thing is that Justin and I are both communicators. When we are on the brink of a new challenge, we suck it up and discuss it. When we let our emotions get the best of us, we never allow the chasm to widen and silence to intervene. We have been able to come to our new "normal" and appreciate all that it brings. What it has brought to me is a wonderful daughter in law as well as a beautiful new family to expand our horizons and bring more fun and laughter to our happy home.

Justin, I want to the world to know how proud I am of you; not just because you are truly a good citizen and wonderful man but because you have chosen an amazing woman to journey through this life with. I could not be any happier for you than I am. Marc is as well but this blog is my personal voice and I want you to hear it loud and clear from your mama.

May you know joy beyond human measure, may you live your life to it's fullest potential, may you always be loyal and true and above all, may you put your wife first, last and always. If you do all of this....your life will be all that I had dreamt for you but more importantly, what you have dreamt for yourself.

I love you.

PS I have shared this before but I think it is worth sharing again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

See Marc, I told you I was the funniest!

Conversation heard in car today between the DD.

"Ethan, you know who is the funniest person in our house...Mommy is the funniest, then comes Daddy and then comes me. Ethan, you are not funny at all but I still love you!"

"Thank you Katie."

"You are welcome Ethan."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Helping our children come to terms with life's hardest lessons

Katie Starr is a most sensitive soul and lately her sensitivity is being fully felt in the area of losing her grandfather and the illness that preceded his death.

After Big Al passed away back in September, we chose what we felt was the best time (if there is such a thing) to discuss his death in the simplest of terms with them. I wrote about it on the blog in this post. Ethan was not developmentally able to grasp the concept at all, which I was grateful for at the time, as four is quite a young age to process it. Katie, who is also four but emotionally older, was able to process it just enough to begin to dwell on it and try to figure it all out. You could tell she was quite perplexed that she would not be able to see Grandpa, other than in pictures or in memories or her dreams but she seemed satisfied at the time with our answers to her questions.

That did not last very long....

She speaks about him quite often and when she does, she always tells us that she misses him and cries a bit. Each time she brings him up we reinforce the seeds that have already been sewn and she seems to understand a bit more, although she is still going through her own grieving process. When she sees Grandma she always tells her how much she misses Grandpa and goes through the same process. It is so hard to see her so sad but I know that it is her way of making it more concrete.

Katie is so vulnerable to loss. She has had too much of it in her short life; more than anyone should ever have to deal with. She and actually both of her brothers have had losses of one or both of their biological parents and even Justin's dad is not available to him in any real sense and has not been for a very long time. I know that all of my children struggle with the fallout from this and it manifests in different ways. With Katie, who lost both her bio parents as well as her foster parents, the pain was quite raw for a very long time. She has a real fear of abandonment and loss. When one of us is sick she literally becomes physically upset by it. When her grandparents leave after a visit she is always saddened by it.

Last evening, just before our holiday dinner, I was talking while eating and the food went down the wrong pipe. This is never good but because I am getting over a bout with Bronchitis, I really struggled for breath and once I caught it, I ran coughing and gagging to the bathroom while Justin, my mom and Judy ran after me to make sure I was OK. This episode went on for about 10 minutes and while it was happening, both Katie and Ethan were VERY upset. Katie was really more than just upset, she was just about inconsolable and clung to me for the rest of the evening as she kept reminding me how upset she was and that she "gets so scared when Mommy is sick."

I am glad that she is able to verbalize her fear although I believe it this fear of illness begins with the fear that any of her loved ones will leave her again.

Katie has always been a "thinker." It makes life a bit more trying for her as she mulls things over and over. I knew she was this way from the first days we became her parents back in China. She grieved so much harder and so much longer than any of the children in our travel group. The entire group worried about her and it last for months after we came home. You can see the her little mind trying to come to terms with her loss in this photo taken in China. She takes nothing lightly and I feel in my heart that she will have the hardest time coming to terms with why she lost her biological parents. She is much like Justin in this way. Ethan is a "doer" and even though he is quite bright, he does not dwell on things and he does not suffer in the same way. I may be proven wrong but this is how I see it all playing out.

I will see how it unfolds with her as we try to use these moments to comfort her as much as we can. She is really such a happy and resilient child. I know in time that she will be able to process this in her own way and I pray that she begins to feel secure that our family will not be going anywhere...that we are here to stay...for her and for her brothers....forever.


Of course, the fact that Marc was seriously ill for several months during the time his dad was so ill and hospitalized twice as well as being on IV antibiotics for 6 weeks here at home has probably heightened the response as well. Thanks to Corinne for reminding me of that. Hard to believe that I have already put that period of our life so far behind me that I forgot that it is part of the issue that we are still living.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The gift of good manners

I have been pondering what is one of my biggest pet peeves lately and I was wondering what others thoughts were on the subject that is the focus of my pondering. The peeve is the minuscule number of parents teaching their children the social graces. By no means, do I think that a preschooler should have the ability to hold their own in a lengthy conversation at a party but it has become painfully apparent that there is a breakdown in parenting when it comes to the instruction of greetings when meeting adults in addition to other appropriate polite salutations and responses. "Hello Mrs Smith or Hello Mrs Lori" is how I have my children address adults but I know way too many parents that do not instruct their children to even say hello to the adults and other children that they are meeting, let alone instruct them in giving a proper greeting. Sometimes I will observe a parent instructing the child to say "Hello" and when the child does not, just ignores the opportunity for a teachable moment and moves along in their own conversation.

How about parents helping their children to assist other children when joining in a group or activity such as "Katie, please say hello to Jane and after you do so can you please introduce her to Ethan?"

Greeting and manners such as good morning, please, thank you, excuse me, may I, may I please be excused, etc. seem to have been abandoned by so many and I really think it is just one more symptom of the breakdown of polite society. I see more and more children, much older than my two four year old's that do have this type of training at all. They brush past you as if you do not even merit their attention. It is unbelievable to me! What does being a parent really mean to people? Are we not supposed to be our childrens first and most important teachers?

I take that responsibility seriously as did my parents, who I feel taught my sister and I very well. It has served us both throughout our lives. We are both able to handle any business or social situation gracefully. My sister and I have passed this on to Justin and his cousin Sam already and I am teaching my little ones now. When they see people that we know they always say "Hello" politely without even being asked and when we meet new people I prompt them in the greetings already discussed, if they do not initiate themselves.

So, what are your thoughts on this subject? While you are pondering that one I will "Thank you" in advance for giving me those thoughts :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hanukkah Blessings

Hanukkah has been wonderful this year. Obviously, the first thing that I am thankful for is that I have a healthy husband to share it all with. Marc's heart and health is completely back to normal and it makes my own heart sing.

This is the first year that the kids "REALLY" get it! They are beginning to understand the basis of the holiday and what the meaning of the holiday is. Of course, the gift giving has not been lost on them either.

One of the highlights of the holiday would have to be the party that we held here at the house this past weekend for 14 of the DD's friends and their parents. We served delicious food, played fun games with the children, did crafts and had a gift exchange, which was a big hit!

Another big highlight was gift giving each evening with the DD. Tonight was night 6 and it was a very special night; one that memories are made of.

After the candles were lit and it was time to give a gift to each child, I realized that I had one extra gift for each, so we decided to give them two tonight....well, that set off waves of excitement!

The first gift for Katie was an American Girl "Asian Bitty Baby" with a layette. I have actually had this gift for about 18 months but held back from giving it to her for two reasons; I wanted her to be mature enough to take care of it and second, I thought that Ethan would end up wanting to play with it too because when he first came home from China he wanted every doll that Katie had. I actually held it so long that I second guessed myself and thought that she was now too old for it. Well, was I wrong about that! She absolutely adores it and I think it will be one of her fav toys for quite some time. She named it Hong Shan, which is her Chinese name and Hong Shan is now sleeping soundly with Katie Starr Hong Shan.

Ethan got a Huge Tonka Crane....boy oh boy, did he love that!! This is the third vehicle or piece of heavy machinery that he has received for Hanukkah and he is just loving all of them.

The other two gifts were equally well received; Katie got dress up princess shoes and Ethan got a fun pre-school game called Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. We all played a few rounds of the game and had a lot of fun! I highly recommend it for this age group.

The icing on the cake came after those second gifts were given. Katie Starr turned to me with the most beautiful and sincere look and said "Mommy, thank you and Daddy for giving us all of these wonderful presents.

There is very little in life that is more gratifying than to have an appreciative child. That is a virtue that we model for them every day and I am very proud to say that we have not one but three appreciative children.

Here are a few cute photos from night 6 of Hanukkah...



















and one last thing to add that we all are appreciative for and that is Nana. My mom and all of the grandparents adore our children; all of them. Here we are celebrating my mom's birthday yesterday. The whole motley crew was together but with all of the fun and frivolity, I just got a couple of shots of her and as well as my goofballs. Love them all!!




Saturday, December 12, 2009

My mind cannot even go to that dark place

My friend Kira called me today, totally upset and beside herself with what she had just witnessed. After hearing the following scary tale, I decided that it was an important story to share.

Kira was at a local Wal M*rt and was standing in line waiting to return an item that she had purchased. All of the sudden, she saw a little girl that she estimated to be no older than 3 years old; lost and crying. An employee was called to the scene and began to make attempts to call the mom or guardian to the front of the store via the intercom system. This went on and on for some 15 to 20 minutes and of course the child was very scared and upset. At this point an older man walked up and claimed to be the little girl's grandfather. The child seemed to not know him and when he tried to call her to him, she did not want to go. The employee refused to let the man take the girl with him as she had no way to know that she was really her grandfather, as he was claiming. At this point the mother finally walked up and the child went running to her immediately. This woman did not seem the least bit frantic or upset that her daughter had been missing for all of that time. She just basically wanted to take her child with her and move on after confirming that there was no grandfather with them....not so fast! While this was happening the man slipped away. Other employees were sent to look for him and the police were called, both to try to locate this man and to determine the fitness of the mother.

How horrifying is that!! This man, if left to his own evil agenda, would have taken this little girl and I do not even want to think of the outcome!! The mother, in my opinion, was more than just negligent, she was complicit in the unknown outcome. I pray that their situation is carefully scrutinized!

All of the people that were standing by were horribly upset. Kira said it was a terrible scene that she will never forget.

Thank G-d that this innocent being was kept safe. This man was laying in wait for the right opportunity and he almost found it. If this child had been one that willingly went with people that she did not know......well, the thought of that is mind boggling and tears sting my eyes at the thought of it.

I know that you all understand why I am sharing this and will continue to take the steps necessary to protect your child(ren) as well as any precious and innocent child in your care that cannot protect themselves. Their well being and even their lives depend on it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Are you trying to tell me something?

Katie was sitting on my lap this morning and blurts out the following....

"Mom, the freckles on your legs are sharp; they are poking me!" *SNORT*

I guess I should have shaved my legs this morning.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Promoting my new venture!

I am celebrating the grand opening of my online Avon Store with lots of promotional give-a-ways on my Facebook Avon Online Page

Check it out, as everyone that becomes a fan of my page is entered into the drawing and there are a few other ways to get more entries. You do not have to be a user of facebook to get involved. One way to do it is by adding a link to my online store on your blog and you will get two entries into the drawing. If you purchase product then you will get five entries for the gift. A Twitter shout out with a link will earn you two entries as well.

Here is the video of Katie drawing a winner from my first promotion.

Thank you all for helping me to pass the word about this new business and if you are kind enough to become a customer, you will never be sorry. Just as in my Real Estate business, I always make sure I give very personal and professional service.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Ding Dong...Guess who is calling!

Lori is and she is selling Avon! I have always loved the Avon Brand and I have decided to become a Avon Representative. I have an E-Store...of course :) Please visit my store for any of your Avon needs. I would be so happy to be able to assist you!

This company is longer your Mother's Avon! They still deal in Makeup and Skin Care but now there is so much more to choose from. From Jewelry to clothing to perfume to toys and dolls are just a few examples. Please check it out for yourself.

If you purchase 30.00 or more this holiday season, please use coupon code FS30REP for free shipping!

If you do not like to shop online, then please just drop me a line or leave me a comment and I will place your order and have it shipped for you.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Katie was practicing for her Hanuakkah show next Friday and she was so darn cute that I had to catch it for posterity.

So here it is, immortalized for all time......Introducing Miss Katie Starr singing............

Puff the Jewish Dragon

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tools of the Trade

I came home late today and laid down my weary bones for a few minutes. Katie came in to see me and wanted to make me feel better so she gave me her fav (and first) stuffed animal, "Snotty Baby" to make me "feel better." Then she put her Sesame Street Elmo Stethescope on my heart and followed it up with her big bird scope to look in my ears and throat. Katie's Diagnosis...... H1N1!! I swear it's true!! Unfortunately, I may have to take Snuffleupagus brand Tamiflu!! *SNORT*

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

There is nothing worse than watching your child struggle for breathe

About ten days ago, I blogged about the fact that Katie was in the throes of bronchial distress directly related to that foam pit that she played in while at a birthday party. Now, Katie has been diagnosed with asthma and the last 2+ weeks have been nothing short of horrifying; both for her and for us.

Initially, she was placed on Albuterol Syrup in order that her airways stay open, but it was not enough to stop the terrible bronchial spasms that were causing her to cough and struggle with her breathe until she vomited. The doctor even placed her on an antibiotic in the hope that this may be a bacteria that would be killed off. Finally, on Saturday evening my terror level reached new heights as her situation worsened and I got in touch with her pediatrician who was forced to place her on the nebulizer for breathing treatments and in addition prescribed oral steroids to reduce the inflammation. When she did this, it was with words of caution that things would deteriorate before they improved. Well, she was correct! Katie's symptoms were even worse than before and to compound the discomfort, was the fact that the steroid causes sleeplessness and irritability. Katie's emotions were off the chart and she was basically jumping out of her skin.

Last night it got so bad that she was inconsolable and we took her into our bed to comfort her. Thankfully, it did comfort her and she slept. Since she is a major bed hog, no one else did...but I digress.

She woke up and I could sense immediately that she seemed to be a bit better. She was not exploding into uncontrollable attacks of coughing. I called the Doctor to ask her if we could adjust the steroid a bit as it was really playing with her little body. After listening to what she was going through and hearing that we had a bit of improvement she told me to skip the nighttime dose and double dose her in the morning. I am bringing her back tomorrow so that she can be assessed and to see what our next step is. My understanding is that once they get it under control completely, then they place her on a maintenance medication. Tonight has been peaceful so far and she is sleeping....fingers crossed!

Katie made a statement last night that was actually a refrain that I have heard throughout this ordeal. It really has struck me; both in it's deep sadness and the insight it gave me into our four year old's amazing little mind. "Mommy, I want to be normal again, I just want all of this to go away so that I can be normal..."

I gave her the only answer that I could "Baby, you will be normal again; I promise you will..."

I always keep my promises!