January 2007


I think I found the true sign that you’re a family. No, it’s not that your kids want to cuddle with you or that you want to be with them every moment. The true sign that you are a family is when your kids start repeating your mantras back to you:

At breakfast the other day the kids said in unison, “More eating; less talking,” after I asked them to hurry up.

And apparently it works both ways because in the last few days I’ve caught myself saying both “What the hecka?” (Meron’s favorite saying) and “Good Idea?” (what Estifanos’ says after stating that he wants to do something).

instruction manualFollow up from last weeks question: How do you teach kids to value the things that you give them? Specifically I’m thinking about them loosing things/getting them dirty beyond washable/destroying them. Obviously you can not replace them, but more often than not it’s an item of clothing, and going naked to school isn’t an option in California (yet). So I’m looking for other ideas.

As always, longer posts on your blog with a link in the comments are fine…more than fine…they’re encouraged.

instruction manualI never thought I’d be taking childrearing advice from my childless younger sister, but she does have lots of experience working with kids (and families) as a social worker. So, Theresa is this weeks winner.

Tomorrow’s question will be a follow up to this one.

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Side rant, but not worthy of a whole post: I think I need to cut down on my RSS feeds (or people need to stop posting on the weekends). I had >250 posts in my Google Reader today. Now granted I didn’t read any posts this weekend, but still, 250+ is near impossible. I’m getting really good a skimming and I’ve got it down to 55 at the moment (including whatever the count went up by in the last 4 hours). All those people who send out partial feeds need to think about what they say in the first few lines of their post; ‘cuz if it doesn’t peak my interest, I’m not clicking though. </rant>

That time of the week already. Just an FYI, you’re being watched (anonymously), so click with care, I may adjust the links I share based solely on your clicks (or lack there of). Lots of random stuff this week for you to check out (but light on the blog reading side). If you’re only here for parenting info, jump down to #5:

On Monday our almost year long health scare finally came to somewhat of a conclusion after we met with the head cardilogist at Children’s Hospital.

A week before we traveled to get our two older kids in Ethiopia in April of ’06 we got some disturbing news. We were on a conference call with our travel group, and the social worker asked Brian and I to call them when we were done because they needed to talk to us. I could tell it was some sort of disturbing news. Brian asked me how I know it was bad news. I stated, “I know social workers. I am one of them.” We hurridly called back to find out that our then 3 year old had been taken to his embassy physical, and they had determined his heart was on the other side of his body. He also had a blockage. That was all they knew.at that time. Our social worker stated, “You know you have options.” I told her, “He is my son and my only options right now are to determine how to be with him, and how to get him the best medical care possible.”

Even though I hadn’t yet met Estifanos, I knew he was my baby. He was in my heart, and he was my son. Everyone at the Horizon House was surprised by the E man having a heart condition. Anyone who knows my son would be. He is the most active and happiest boy most people have ever met. He was taken to two cardiologist in Ethiopia that week. Brian and I went through every scenario in our head including the worst. All we did know was he was our son, and we were bringing him home. We have a medical director of a hospital in our family, which helped us during this difficult time. He and his staff read the reports from Ethiopia and determined first that all E man’s oragns are reversed. One in 10,000 people have this condidtion. I had never heard of it before this. This condition is much better than if just your heart is reversed. This condition made sense now because when we got our referral they noted he had an enlarged spleen, but it turned out the doctor was looking at his liver. They also determined that the blockage could be treated. We traveled a week later and brought E man and Meron home.

In June we finally got our first appoitnment with a cardiologist here. That cardiologist told us he thought they could do the ballon intervention, but that we needed to see the head cardiologist. Now the E man was taking this all in stride . He likes the bracelets at the hospital, and the toys he gets, but me on the other hand not so good. I have always hated doctors and hospitals. I guess it is funny I married a Phd.

Anyway in September we finally saw the head cardiologist who stated that they needed to do a catherisation, and that he didn’t think it could be fixed with the ballon. He thought the E man may need open heart surgery. After I took the E man back to school. I was so sad. Why him? He has lived through so much pain and hardship in his short three years of life. I then remembered though that if he was still in Ethiopia this would never have been discovered, and he may have died at an early age. This thought put it all in perspective.

In December, he had the heart catherisation. They could not do the ballon intervention. The head cardiologist stated he didn’t know what was best, and needed to consult his team. He stated, in a normal heart, they would have to do surgery because of the blockage, but since the E man’s heart is reversed it is better for him because that valve is used to working harder.

We then had to wait another month to hear their decsion, and again we prepared for the worse. On Monday after waiting for two and a half hours to see the doctor, the nurse practioner came in and listened to his heart. She stated, “It sounds awesome.” I looked at Brian and we both thought that this has to be good news. The doctor then came in and told us that E man does not need open heart surgery. We felt so reliveved.

I realized, at that moment, that although my son has only been in my life 10 months, I can’t imagine loving him anymore if I had given birth to him. My mother, who is not a religious person, told me maybe that all of the years of struggle to have children and adopt came to this exact moment. Estifanos has an amazing life here, and his heart condidtion can be treated. If he had stayed in Ethiopia, it may have never been discovered, and it could havbe gotten worse. This morning as I watched my now 4 year old playing with his baby sister I thought about how it was just about a year ago that I ached to be with him, and help him through this medical crisis. He and my two beautiful daughters are a survivors though, and anyone who knows them sees the joy they have for life.

I’ve decided that playgrounds are evil. Why you might ask? Did my kids fall off the monkey bars and hurt themselves? Did a kid punch one of my lovely children for no apparent reason? No, the reason I have a sudden dislike for the playground is that it’s where kids learn stuff from their peers and it’s completely unregulated out there. Two examples from the last couple of weeks:

When Meron comes home, we always ask her how her day was. Her response, “School is boring.”
We asked why. “I don’t know.”
“Do you know what borring means?” “No”
“Then why the heck are you saying it.” “My friends on the playground said school is boring.”

Sitting at the dinner table Meron calmly states, “Estifanos is going to die.”
“Meron, that’s not very nice.” “Why?” she asks.
“Do you know what it means to die?” “No”
I think if we had pressed we could have gotten a vague answer because it turns out they were playing “Superman” on the playground and someone was playing dead, but we decided to not press it so we could give her our view of what it means and why she shouldn’t say it.

Short of hanging out on the playground, I’m not sure what we can do to control her intake of knowledge from her peers. I’m sure part of the misinformation (like the boring comment) comes from kids with older siblings, but obviously we can’t ban her from playing with those kids (and I guess that means Estifanos and Yordie will likely be the facilitators of misinformation). I guess we’ll have to stick with what we’ve been doing, ask lots of questions and correct the misinformation.

instruction manual This weeks question, how do you teach a 5 year old the value of money?  Not what values do coins represent, but why we can’t buy everything you want and if you loose your jacket, that’s money we could have used for other things.  Bonus points if you have a way that younger siblings can participate or won’t be interested  (we’ve got a little sibling equality issues in our house right now).

As always, if you need more space (or just think your readers would like to hear your answer) feel free to put it on your blog and leave a link.

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