Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Losing The Hockey Battle

                                                                            From this....
To this...

                                                                          In just 6 years.

I remember when Jacob first came home. He was a sweet and innocent baby who always made his mommy proud. Well, almost always. He still makes me happy and proud but he has been corrupted by his grandfather. His grandfather has been taking him to college hockey games and Jacob is now obsessed.

Jacob spends hours practicing his hockey skills and even made me buy him some street goalie gear. His ultimate goal is to learn to be a goalie. I have tried my best to steer him in other directions but it just isn't working. The child can spend hours watching U Tube videos of hockey skills and how to wear the equipment properly. He wears his inline skates around the house and driving and practicing his stick skills. All of this after just one year of hockey.

My other dilemma is that Jacob is good. There was only one other child able to keep up with him at hockey and that was the coaches son. It's hard for me to say no to a sport that he appears to be showing natural talent at. I realize he will never play for the NHL and probably not even college but he really loves the sport now and he's good at his level.

So what is the problem? Well, a couple. One is that hockey takes a lot of time although my supervisor at work keeps telling me I will make it work if it's important enough to him. The other problem is the cost. The next 2 years won't be too bad but it gets really expensive after that. I can't imagine paying almost $900 for one child's sport in a year. That doesn't even include the cost of equipment or the two or three overnight trips we would have to take for games.

Other sports are so much cheaper and the schedules are more consistent. Yet, I know that he doesn't have the same love for them that he has for hockey. So I am stuck. Hockey is a game that if he doesn't continue to play and build skills, he will be behind his peers very quickly and not able to play later. He can still play hockey and my true love, baseball, but he would have to stop winter swim team and just swim during the summer.

We have until August or September to decide. I guess I will wait and see how summer swim team goes and then decide. He can always start swimming again later and he is now a strong swimmer that I don't have to worry about drowning. Which is really why I put him in swimming in the first place.

Break Time

I spent the past 3 years in grad school (graduated last August) and have spent almost all of my time either at work, school or with my kids. Work and school took up so much time that I didn't want to lose anymore time with my children so I decided to just put my social life on hold unless I could take my kids with me. It also meant that I never got time to just have fun without responsibility. Even when playing softball (which is a stress reliever for me), I had my children for all but 2 games and had to split my attention between the game and keeping at least some kind of eye on them.

I am done with school now and had a chance tonight to go out with a friend I hadn't seen in over a year. This friend also has a young son but wanted it to be "kid free." My first reaction was to turn her down. After all, the restaurant was expensive and I knew I couldn't afford to eat there and hire a babysitter. I talked to my dad about it and I think he realized how badly I needed some adult time with a good friend I don't see often. He and my mom volunteered to watch my kids which meant I didn't have to pay for their dinner or a babysitter.

I can now say that was some of the best money I have spent. I came home feeling more relaxed and energized than I have felt in a very long time. All of a sudden, I had more energy when getting the kids ready for bed and can feel myself being more patient. I don't know how long this relaxed feeling will last but I can say that it was well worth the expense of a dinner out. Especially since it's the first time in my life I have spent that much money on one meal and the last time I will spend that much for a very long time. And don't forget it's the first time in three years that I had a girls night out. Every girl deserves one and three years was way too long to wait.

I love my kids to death and want to spend time with them. I am also learning that by taking a little time to myself, it makes me a better mom the rest of the time. I have more patience, more energy and feel better. I have a habit of always giving to others and forgetting to care for myself. I know this and I struggle to find a happy medium. I am learning that time to myself doesn't count if it means  I am spending it shopping for Christmas or Easter gifts for my kids. I am still being a mom then and spending that "free" time meeting their needs and not my own. My kids will always come first and I will never want to leave them with other people so I can go out very often but once every 3 years is definitely not often enough. For now, I am just going to enjoy having my batteries recharged for the time being. That and hold, hug and appreciate my children during the time I am able to spend with them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ethiopian Camp Plans

Parents who don't adopt from other countries, cultures or nationalities may not realize how important culture camp is. It's hard to explain or completely understand how important it is until you see the look on a child's face as they explain to others what it means to be from their culture. I see the pride when my children talk about Ethiopia or share an Ethiopian story with their friends. Even my youngest son (who was born in the US) is proud of his brother's Ethiopian heritage and used to try to convince people he was also born in Ethiopia. Jacob could find Ethiopia on a map when he was 3 and both of my kids can tell you what time it is in Ethiopia.

So why is culture camp a priority? After all, my kids are already proud of our connection to Ethiopia. Here are some reasons.

1) Other families that look like ours. It is one of the few places we go where Matthew is in the racial minority and almost all of the families are multiracial.

2) We aren't a conspicuous family where people make assumptions about us based on our different skin colors. Everyone knows we are a family formed by adoption and celebrates it with us. We don't have to fight stereotypes or respond to people asking questions about if Jacob is Matthew's friend and how great it is that he gets to spend so much time with him. They all know the kids are brothers.

3) We see adults, children and teenagers who were born in Ethiopia and who all love the culture and country. There is no better way to learn about another country and culture than to hear about it from people who have lived there.

4) Everyone there is learning from each other. We are all there for the same reasons. To make friends, learn about Ethiopia and have fun.

5) No negative stereotypes. My children are exposed to the same media that everyone else is. Pictures of children starving, reports of disease and comments from people who have no understanding but are quick to judge people who live differently than the  way we live in the USA. At camp, everyone is accepting and loves Ethiopia and the information shared is based on facts and not stereotypes. We leave camp proud of Ethiopia and ready to share and educate others when they make comments based on media reports and not true life.

6) We leave camp with new friends, stronger connections to old friends and a reminder of how lucky we are to have been touched by Ethiopia. Not too mention on blessed we are to be a family.

There are camps and organizations around the country. None of the camps are cheap but the lessons we learn are priceless. I encourage anyone who's family has children from different cultures or countries to look into a cultural camp near you. Or even one you can travel to. You will not be sorry.