Saturday, October 30, 2010

3 Days To Go

3 day to go until election day! Make sure you vote! Think about the issues and the past history. Not just the past two years but the past 10 years. As a society we are very quick to blame people in need of help rather than look at our responsibilty as a society to help each other out. We have very short-term memories and fail to see beyond today. We like to blame victims rather than look at the problems within the system. Sometimes it is easier to believe that we are all secure and nothing bad will ever happen but the truth is life can change in an instant.

How would the candidate you support react to people who find themselves in poverty because of unexpected illness or job loss or just because they are going to school and struggling to pay tuition and their bills? Would he/she see it as his/her own responsibility and have little compassion or would they be willing to support policies and programs to help the person get back on his/her feet and move forward. If the candidate you support cannot seem to answer questions honestly or only thinks about big buisness interests and millionaires but not about the middle class or how to help people struggling today, think twice about your vote. I know who I am voting for and I trust my readers will think beyond the rhetoric and make the right choice. For those of you in Wisconsin, I stronly urge you to think twice before voting for a millionaire who doesn't even know what it is like to work on the line in his own factory much less be willing to discuss his plans for once he is elected.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Glasses Update

After only 24 hours with his glasses, Jacob is still doing great. His teacher said he wore them all day yesterday without any complaints. He is allowed to take them off when he goes outside or plays sports so I told him he must give them to his teacher at that time. Jacob's teacher reported that he was careful to put them in his case at recess and wanted to put them in his case at nap but the case wasn't in the room at that time. She convinced him that I would not be mad if he just left them on the counter where they would be safe. His teacher also stated that Jacob cleaned them often throughout the day. She even had to tell him to stop cleaning them at one point so that he could finish his work. Apparently, he likes them very clean.

Today is day 2 and I am sure some of the newness is beginning to wear off. I am still proud that he is being very careful with them and making sure he doesn't just set them on the ground and walk away. He seems to like them for the most part. His eyes are still adjusting so he finds them watering or itching from time to time but the doctor states that is normal. His left eye needs to learn to relax as his right eye begins to work harder again. It should feel more normal to him in the next few days.

Half Over

It is official. The school semester is half over. After going to school full-time, working full-time, and completing an internship, this semester is far less stressful. The problem is that since it's not as stressful, I am having trouble staying motivated to do the work. I don't have to work constantly to keep up so I find myself stalling and thinking I'll just do it later. Instead, I am sitting in my room the night before a major assignment is due trying to pound it out and still have it an A.

Even with my lack of motivation, I am really glad I chose to go part-time this year. I get to see my kids more and even have somewhat of a social life. I didn't want to really go out with friends and without my kids last year since I had so little free time. This year I am really enjoying hiring a sitter and going out occassionally. Who knows? Maybe I'll even start dating again. What I do know is that I am a much better mom when I have time with my kids but also have time to hire a sitter and just soicalize with other adults (and no kids) occassionally.

This school year has been going much better than last and hopefully will continue to go well. Going part-time pushed my graduation back a year to August, 2012 but that is fine. After all, it is only one more year.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jacob's New Glasses

Jacob got his first pair of glasses today! There is another pair on order. Doesn't he look handsome?

Good Jacob's In California

Jacob has been an incredibly easy kid to parent. But like all kids, he has his challenging days. After a couple of more challenging days I had the following conversation with him.

M: Do you know where my good Jacob went?

J: He's in California.

M: What's he doing in California?

J: He's visiting his grandma.

M: I thought his grandma lived here?

J: No. She moved to California. He took a plane there.

M: Well, I hope he comes back soon. I miss him.

J: He won't. He's on a jet place but it's a really slow plane. He won't be back until after Christmas maybe next summer.

M: That's too bad. I really miss him.

All I Want For Christmas

Jacob and I were watching TV the other night when an add for a toy came on. I asked Jacob what he wants Santa to bring him this year. He stated, "Something for Ms. Jessie." I asked him if he wanted something for himself. He stated, "No. Just something for Ms. Jessie." That teacher has quite the spell on my kid. I love it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Has Begun

Halloween 2010 has begun. We attended a party at the YMCA on Friday evening and then went trick-or-treating at the zoo today. It was raining pretty hard this morning and we got to the zoo as soon as the radar screen showed the rain had moved out of the area. It was clear that the crowds would not be quite as big this year though so some of the tents were handing out full handfuls of candy. At the end, Jacob handed me his bag complaining it was too heavy to carry. I carried his and M's and admit my arm was tired by the time we got to the car. Jacob also won Most Realistic Costume award Friday night. You be the judge. He's a pilot.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So Alike We Must Be Related

I am off moved when I think about how much Jacob fits into our family. Granted he has been home for 3.5 years but the similarities between us are uncanny. So many traits that even a doctor mentioned he knows it can't all be enviornmental. Here are some of the ways we are alike:

- Bad teeth. I realize some of Jacob's cavities are from prenatal malnutrition but the overbite and braces in his future? I had some type of device from age 9 to 19. Jacob goes to the same dentist I did as a kid. About six months ago Dr. W stated he can definitely see my genetics in Jacob's teeth. I politely reminded him that Jacob was adopted.
- Bad eyes. I have had glasses or contacts since 4th grade. Jacob is a little ahead of me but getting his first pair sometime next week.
- Love of baseball. Okay. This one may be enviornmental :)
- Size. My mom noticed that at 2.5 years old, Jacob was the exact same height and weight my brother and I were at that age. 2 years later and he gets the same "petite" comments I remember getting. My brother is now 5'9" and I am 5'6" so Jacob will probably be somewhere in there also.
- Personality. People commented at the guest house in Ethiopia that my son was sarcastic and liked to tease. That was just a day after meeting him. He had only been with me for about 3 hours total so I had little influence on that one. His nannies said they would miss his smile. The one he gave whenever he was doing something he knew he shouldn't. He already had the S sense of humor and he was only 17 months. My mom groaned right there.
- Jacob and I both love pink but will settle for red when pink isn't available. For both of us, the more light pink the better. Only I try to convince people it is salmon :)
- Jacob's birthday is 2 days after my grandmother's.
-Jacob acts so much like my brother did at that age and is so similar that I catch myself and my dad calling him Chuck. Of course, I also call him M but that's just because I don't always look to see who I am yelling at :)

I know these similarities are more than just enviornmental. I also know that the similarities are only part of what makes him my son. I don't share all of these traits with M but he is also my son. It is the bond and love that makes us a family. I just really enjoy finding more ways we are alike all the time. And I do have similarities with M but they are definitely more enviornmental than anything else.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Did You Know...

- 5000 children a year are expelled in the US from state-financed preschools every year.
- Some for-profit schools eject children at twice the rate as public preschools
- There are almost 3 times as many children expelled from day cares and preschools each year as from elementary, middle and high schools

These statistics were all taken from USA Today articles and speak of the very scary reality that our children are suffering in our day cares. We need day care and preschool teachers who are trained in understanding child development, recognizing potential problem behaviors early, dealing with children's behaviors and understanding that positive reinforcement is always better than negative reinforcement. It should not be so easy for day cares to expel children just because they don't fit the norm or are more difficult to deal with than other children (but not violent). My children are lucky in that their current classroom teachers are very good but so many children are not that lucky.

Della Cava, M. (2005, Sept. 21). Out-of-line preschoolers face expulsion. USA Today.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fearing The Worst...

Jacob has a port wine stain on his face. One of the side effects from it is that he is at an increased risk of glaucoma. Every 6-12 months we see a pediatric eye specialist to make sure his pressures are normal and there are no signs of nerve damage. As Jacob has gotten older, the risks of major problems from the port wine stain and the risk of glaucoma have gotten smaller. To the point that while he still needs to be checked regularly, the chances are very slim he will develop it.

We got to the clinic early and I was expecting a normal exam. Then I noticed Jacob was having trouble seeing some of the letters on the eye chart and only wanted to use one eye. The tech took his readings and began asking questions about the last time he had his pressures checked and if we had them checked under anesthesia. I began thinking about Jacob's eye watering lately when he entered certain department stores and just assumed it was an allergy. But was it really? I began to get nervous. The tech told us to go to the game room and play for about 40 minutes while the drops dilated his eyes. Then we would see Dr. G.

True to their words, almost exactly 40 minutes later we were taken to an exam room. We were told to wait there and Dr. G and his student would be in soon. A few minutes later, I heard Dr. G. talking in the hallway. I heard him explaining what a port wine stain is and the things they are watching for. He began talking about glaucoma, nerve damage and pressure readings. Now I was really getting nervous. Was he just teaching (like I have heard him do before) or was there really a problem. I love going to the university system for medical care because I learn a lot listening to the doctors talk to students but sometimes it is a little scary.

Dr. G introduced his student and stated he was a little concerned about what the tech had seen when he checked Jacob earlier that morning. Uh, oh. Now the warning bells are beginning to sound. I say a little prayer and then ask the doctor if he would be willing to recheck Jacob's pressures. I had remembered him telling me a couple years ago that if Jacob was crying or upset it could artificially raise the pressures. Jacob had been resisting the pressure reading and was scared so maybe that was the cause.

Dr. G looked at me surprised and stated, "Why? His pressures are perfect?" Now it was my turn to look confused and surprised. Dr. G explained that 15 is average but anything between 10 and 21 is normal. Jacob was 14 in one eye and 15 in another. I let out a little sigh but was still concerned. So what are you worried about?

Dr. G began explaining that Jacob is slightly nearsighted in one eye and slightly farsighted in the other resulting in him learning to only use one eye. Oh, that. Yeah, I noticed he didn't like using his right eye on the eye test. Dr. G stated if both eyes were the same, he wouldn't consider glasses because technically he sees well enough. He is just concerned that only using one eye may lead to further problems down the road.

Dr. G begins explaining how glasses aren't all that bad, he only has to use them for certain activities but he can wear them all the time, etc. He tells me not to worry that it is not related to a very scary medical diagnosis of Struge Weber and that my baby will be fine. I'm only half listening to all of this. I can't get over the relief that it is only glasses, he may not need them forever and mostly- he doesn't have glaucoma! I make him tell me again that he doesn't have glaucoma. Dr. G smiles, tells me not to worry and states only a very small number of children without Sturge Weber (which he assures me again Jacob does not and will not have) develop glaucoma after age 4. Jacob is 5 now. This is one relieved and happy mama. Oh, and I found a good deal on 2 pairs of glasses. He will get them next week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time To Exercise

So I have decided it is time that I start trying to find time to exercise. This is a very difficult feat. The kids and I always have somewhere to go and on nights where it is quiet I am trying to catch up on homework. I have been watching my kids swim the past few weeks and there is a lap lane that usually has plenty of room for another swimmer. I think it is time that I become that swimmer.

My only question is whether I should swim while the boys do or before. I could swim before their lessons and let them play in the child watch area. They enjoy spending time in there. I could also swim while they have lessons which would require less time but also could be a distraction to the kids. I am thinking that the boys would get tired of watching me after a couple minutes since swimming by themselves is far more exciting but it is still a concern.

They have a lesson tonight and I am trying to decide what to do. I still have a few hours to decide and if whatever I try doesn't seem to work, I can always do something different next week. One of the nice thing about having both boys in lessons at the same time is that I have 30 minutes to myself to swim, relax or maybe even lift weights.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is The Dream Act Amnesty?

Many people are against amnesty for undocumented immigrants. I'm not really sure how I feel about amnesty for those already living in this country who are law abiding. Especially for those who have found a way to make a postive impact on their communities. Adults who choose to travel to America illegally and undocumented place their lives and their family's lives in jeopardy. It is a dangerous journey and one that has no guarantees. There are people who spend many years waiting for the chance to move the America legally and providing amnesty allows people to jump ahead in line. Yet, undocumented adult immigrants made the journey because they saw it as their best hope. Faced with a life of struggle to eat and meet basic needs, they chase the same American dream American children are taught in schools every day. The debate on amnesty will continue long after immigration reform is accomplished yet I would argue that The Dream Act is not amnesty.

Some people may wonder how giving a free residency card and potentially citizenship to undocumented immigrants under The Dream Act is not amnesty. While it is true that it has some of the same characteristics as amnesty, it is not a free pass to citizenship or permanent legal residency. Let me explain why I don't consider it amnesty.

- Amnesty is basically forgiveness for people who knowlingly broke the law. People who would benefit from The Dream Act were children when they entered the United States and were not able to decide for themselves where they wanted to live. They were not old enough to fully understand the consequences of their actions and many did not have the ability to decide but merely followed their parents' instructions.

- It's not a free handout. In order for a person to qualify for The Dream Act they must graduate from a US high school. They must then serve 2 years in our military serving our country or complete 2 years of college. This is a lot of service and definitely not free.

- It's not open to just any undocumented immigrant. Even if the person entered as a minor and graduate high school, it's still not guaranteed that they will be able to become documented. They must be of good character. Basically, they cannot commit crimes and must show that they are a benefit to society and not a drain on society.

The Dream Act isn't about granting amnest to undocumented immigrants. It's about giving hope to a generation of children who did not choose to be undocumented but are forced to live with the effects. It's about giving children an incentive to graduate from high school and succeed in college or the military so they can support themselves and their families without struggling at minimum wage (or below minimum wage) jobs who will pay cash and overlook their immigration status. Allowing all children in this country to pursue their dreams without basing those dreams on their immigration status. Think about if this was a child you knew? A child in your neighborhood, church or child's school? Wouldn't you want the best for them?

Election day is now 17 days away. As you consider the candidates, take a moment to look at the sponsors of The Dream Act. Support those candidates who realize the importance of allowing all children in US schools to dream and dream big. For those of you living in Wisconsin, I urge you to support Senator Russ Feingold. One of the many co-sponsors on The Dream Act.

Church, Values and My Children

This weekend was consecration Sunday at our church. We actually attend two Methodist churches and visited both this weekend. Why? Because Sunday School was cancelled at one for an all church brunch and becuase I really enjoy the services on Saturday night. The sermon at both churches had to do with money and giving but today's sermon was also about much more. It was about what the church offers to us and why we go.

I admit that it would be easy and enjoyable to sit at home on a Sunday morning and just play legos with the kids. It would be nice to not put our Saturday afternoon and evening plans on hold and skip church. Yet I don't do that (very often). Why is that? What does church give to me that I hope to give to my children? Church is very important to my children's birth families but my reasons for taking them goes way beyond the promises I made to their first families. I made those promises knowing that I planned to insist they attend church and church school anyway. So why is it I insist my children attend religious services and activities? Here is my top 5 list for going to church with them (in no particular order).

5) A chance to see other families and children who view God and their relationship with God as important.

4) To see people living their faith out loud. Putting their words into action by volunteering in their communities, donating money to charities and church, being kind to their neighbors even when we don't agree with each other or really even like each other.

3) Learning respect for our differences. Now I realize that some churches are better at this than others and some members are better than others but as a church we really try to celebrate our differences. Open doors. Open Hearts. Open Minds. That is the slogan the United Methodist Church had a few years ago and one that we try to live out eery day.

2) Developing a stronger relationship with God. Yes, I can read the bible to my children and talk about God at home but there is something different about praying at church and hearing scripture with others.

1) To hear other people's opinions and interpretations of God's laws than my own. While I am sure I am right most of the time (or at least every once in awhile), we all grow when we listen and consider ideas that are different than our own.

5) To join other Christians on a journey of faith. This is important. No matter if the times are good or bad we all are on this journey together. Younger members of the church look to older members for mentors, leaders and wisdom. Older members learn from watching younger members experience life and faith in different ways than they did. Together we all become stronger as Christians and as a church.

So if you have never attended church or are looking for a new church to join, please join us. We may not always agree about the details of our religious beliefs but we will agree in the basics. That God loves each of us, wants the best for us and that together we can grow in faith and love.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Good Reminder

I have been under a lot of stress lately. My job has been less than pleasant. While I do not feel free to comment on recent activities there, I will say that I have not been happy there in a very long time. I have spent the past four years considering career changes and the past year working very hard at actually changing one.

My current job is getting very difficult to work now that my children are getting older. Jacob is in 4K this year and I really don't feel comfortable pulling him out of school just to spend time with me. I work about 3 weekends a month so that only leaves evenings and 1 weekend a month that I can devote to him. It's just not enough.

I'm not looking for a job that is strictly Monday through Friday but one that is mostly normal business hours. I don't mind working occasional evening hours even a couple times a week and am fully prepared to find a sitter for the occassional evening. It's the weekends that are hard.

I applied for a job earlier this fall and was told I was at the top of the list. I know that they heard good things and checked my references so I am close to getting a job. Then I didn't hear anything. It's been just over a month and I was beginning to think I was passed over. I was feeling very frustrated and sure that I would never get the job that I want and am working so hard for.

Last night I was reminded that God is watching over us and that He knows more than I do. I need to trust him in the job situation and just be patient.

A friend stopped by the house and told me she had spoken to the supervisor for the job I want so badly. Apparently there are going to be a small number of layoffs in the next two months (mostly through attrition) and so they don't want to hire anyone until they know there is a position available.

Now I am grateful they haven't hired me yet. I really can't afford to transfer and then be laid off right away. I need income and just can't afford to go for very long without one. I also have to have a job when I finally get approval to finish M's adoption. That will probably be happening very soon (fingers crossed and prayers said). So it really is better that I wait to transfer until I know that I won't be laid off right away. Two months really isn't that long to wait. After all, I have been at my current job for over 9 years and a few more months probably won't kill me.

Swimming Lessons

Swimming lessons are coming to an end. Jacob and M both had a great time. This was M's first time in lessons and he loved them. Jacob has topped out on lessons until he either turns 6 or increases his endurance a little more. He has mastered the skills so he really only needs to get a little stronger. He will probably move up later this year. M showed no fear and has been passed to the second level on his first try! It appears I will soon have 2 fish swimming through the pool and scaring life guards!

I have already signed the boys up for their next session. I really liked their teachers this time. They were a little older than the high school seniors at their last pool and were very experienced. They had 2 teachers assigned to the youngest kids so that the kids got to spend more time practicing and less time just waiting. I am considering swimming laps while they swim next session. It would be good if we all got some good exercise in the pool.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pictures From The Pumpkin Farm

Jacob's New Crush

Jacob has a new crush. I admit I am a little jealous. Every morning he wakes up and asks if his teacher, Miss Jessie, will be at school. If I say no he asks if he can come home at lunch stating he will miss me too much while he is at school. If Miss Jessie is going to be there, he tells me he wants to stay all day. He then gets dressed as quickly as he can.

Yesterday I went with the boys' school on a trip to the pumpkin farm. Jacob asked if Miss Jessie was going and I told him she was. He then stated I could stay with M's class and he would go with Miss Jessie. I dropped him off in his class and told him I would see him on the bus.

M and I got on the bus first. Jacob's class was running a little late so everyone was waiting when they arrived. Jacob got on first and walked over to me. I scooted over and he stated, "Mom, can I sit by Miss Jessie?" I said sure and he ran down the aisle.

We arrived at the farm and Jacob's class decided to go by themselves to look at some different animals where it wasn't so crowded. I saw him again about 20 minutes later and went over to say hi. He immediately told me that he was with Miss Jessie and I needed to go back to M's class. I admit my heart dropped at little at the realization that he preferred his teacher to me. Or at least at that moment.

Jacob also rode the bus back to school with Miss Jessie and then decided he wanted to stay to the end of the day. Now I know that Jacob still wants me around and that deep down he liked having me on the field trip. I caught him running towards me a few times and then looking at Miss Jessie. I also know that he is growing up and Miss Jessie won't be the last person to steal him from me.