Posted tagged ‘boys’

20 Years Ago

November 18, 2013

Twenty years ago this month – which happens to be Adoption Month – my husband and I were finally on the same page at the same time in the same frame of mind and submitted an application to begin an international adoption.

Several weeks before we had attended an international adoption forum at a sort of local hotel where six different adoption agencies were represented.  It was a Monday night and the hubby was semi willing to  attend as long as I promised to leave in time for him to be home to get his weekly televised dose of WWF.  Of course I’d promised.

With fingers crossed behind my back.

It was crazy.  There was a table on a small stage lined with agency representatives.  The little room was almost full.  Full of families contemplating adoption…..families that had completed adoptions…..families in the process of adopting….and kids.

Kids of all sizes and ages, running around the room, dodging parental grips, snatching hugs, sharing toys, giggling, sipping juice boxes and just having fun.

About half way through the question and answer session, I nudged the hubby to ask if he was ready to go and he shushed me.  He was listening to what people were saying. He was hooked.

Line and sinker.

Sadly, albeit appropriately since the Baby Jessica and Baby Richard sagas had just played out in the local media, the biggest concern for the pre-adoptive families was the permanency of an international adoption. And how to fund the expensive process.

We talked on the way home.  It had been a bit of a journey for us to reach this point.  We’d experimented briefly with fertility drugs.  We’d toyed with the idea of just being satisfied with the exposure we had with his daughters.  We explored adoption through foster care, open adoption and family adoption.  Nothing felt right….until that night.

So we filled out the first of three applications that were to come.

We were requesting  a little girl from India.  A toddler….or an older child that needed us.  We felt led because we had watched a tv program that depicted the dire prospects for baby girls in India just a few weeks before.

And we began to think about…and prepare…to add a little girl to our lives.  Our hearts began to open and to flower and to ready themselves for that child.


But it would be three months before our child was even born.

And another three months until we were handed this:


Our case file had been matched to a baby boy in South Korea.

It would be another six weeks until we were to hold him.  He would be four months old.

And it was seven months after submitting that first application to adopt.

Seven months of waiting and planning and preparation……and loving.

I have done a lot of reading over that past 20 years.  I understand that children who are adopted can sometimes feel a sense of abandonment.  That they may feel a sense of loss at being released for adoption by a birth parent.  I often wondered if mine ever wished for a different family.  Wished they had been matched with a family that could have given them more….or a different kind of life.

We have never talked about it…..and so I still wonder.

We have talked about their adoption situations however.  Shared what we know and the little bits of information that we have.  Told him how lucky he was that his mother knew very early that she wasn’t ready to raise a child on her own.  How grateful we were that she made the decision that brought him into our lives.

But there is another part of that story that I have neglected to share with them.

I have neglected to tell him (and her) how much they were loved even before we knew them or held them or hugged them.  How  our hearts were growing and getting ready from the day we filled out those early applications.

So while their birth parents were struggling and planning to leave them, on the other side of the world we were planning….and loving….and waiting to receive them.

Its a sad world in which adoption is needed.  But it would be a sadder one if it wasn’t available.

For everyone.



HOW Did It Happen???

March 13, 2011

The Prince turned 17 a couple of weeks ago.


Which means he no longer has a ‘restricted’ driver’s license and can drive after midnight even though he may or may not be coming from or going to a real job.

Which means he is just a year and a half away from graduating from high school.

Which means he is only a year and a half away and a summer away from starting COLLEGE.

Which means he is going to be putting his big boy pants on and looking for a real job to help pay for a car/gas/books/food/date nights/whatever.

Which means he is only a year away from casting his vote and having a real say in what is going on in the world.

Which means he is actually going to have to make decisions about things more important than just what he should have for a snack before going to bed…..or which channel to watch on the television…..or which homework to let slide this week.

Which means he is no longer my baby boy.

Just HOW did that happen?

Just how did this:

……..evolve so mind boggling quickly into this???

The Kid and his Clothes

June 29, 2010

Last spring, Prince was invited to a party.  It was a Sweet Sixteen party for a friend at school.  It was a very formal, Black and White kind of deal.  A soccer fiend who is at his most comfortable in athletic shorts and a tee shirt, Prince is also very particular about his clothes.  Shopping trips with him are horrendous because of that.

Slacks, shirts, shoes….socks… doesn’t matter.

I guess I should have realized what I was creating when I insisted – from an early age – that his clothes at least….match.  What he was wearing never seemed to bother him except when it came to socks.

He gave me fits about socks.

He didn’t like the seam at the end of the toes so we searched and searched to find some without seams.  And that was back in the olden days before manufacturers began catching on to his fetish.

It went on for years.

And then around mid elementary school he started having opinions about everything he wore.  The fabric had to feel right.  The colors had to be nondescript.  The neck had to be plain.  The length had to be just so.  The brand had to be the right one.  He drove  drives me nuts.

It hasn’t changed.

So since he didn’t have anything that was appropriate for the party, I wasn’t looking forward to a shopping trip to remedy the situation.  Neither was his Dad.  Neither was he.  But one evening  just before the big event we stopped in at my  favorite clothing store (and my only charge account) to ‘just look.’

He had nixed the idea of a jacket or suit right from the get go.  Slacks were on sale.  We found a black pair that he liked rather quickly.  Moved on to the shirts.  We had decided that a black shirt with a white tie would be the ultimate of cool.  White tie?  Check.  Since he was feeling so good about finding slacks and a tie so quickly, I snatched up a couple of black shirts and sent him off to the dressing room to try them on before he had a chance to say ‘not now.’  His dad and I waited outside. 

A shirt came out.  A very nice, silkish black shirt.  ‘Put it back.  Its too…black.’

A second shirt came out.  A heavier, cottony shirt.  “Put it back. It doesn’t feel right.”

HRH and I were rolling our eyes and shaking our heads and…almost….snickering about the dilemma.  We were never going to get out of there.

Meanwhile, the Princess, who is generally bored and disinterested on shopping trips that don’t involve pet stores or sporting good stores or skateboard anythings, meandered through the mens wear by the dressing rooms and asked, ‘why are we buying clothes for him?’  She stopped dead in her tracks when we said he had been invited to a party.

‘Someone invited him to a party?’

‘Wait….someone invited him to a party?’

Another shooper was standing by and covertly keeping an amused eye on my daughter’s obvious confusion.  I thought she would lose it when the Princess’  eyes got even wider as I reminded her about the  formal sweet sixteen party for his friend.

‘Wait……a GIRL asked him to a party?  Now why would she do that?’

Honestly, Princess, you can’t figure it out?

Growing Up….

June 9, 2009

   For the past two days I have taken my son to school and left the daughter home to finish getting ready.  This was our plan for the school year.  That I would have some quiet time with both of them in the morning.  Then she got involved in before school activities like open gym and jazz band practice.  Snow fell and ice formed on the roads.  It seemed rather wasteful not to eliminate the extra mileage – and time – and swing by the middle school after dropping him off at high school.  It gave me an extra hour and a half at MY school before my classes started.  Saved gas.  Saved time.  It did not save money since the Princess and I would ‘power shop’ at Meijers some mornings, or hit the local breakfast restaurant on the days she didn’t have open gym or jazz band practice.  Since this is the last week of school, my report cards are done and duly printed and ready to be folded, open gym is over, the jazz band played their last concert last week, I decided to let her sleep in a little bit in the morning and take him to school alone. 

       It’s interesting how much he has grown up over this winter.  He still doesn’t eat breakfast  or speak in anything other than a monosyllabic grunt in the morning.  In the afternoon there is more to say.   But today… was a milestone.  He actually smiled at me.  First time in a long while.

     We were talking about final exams and homework.  He was grunting basic answers to my basic questions.  Then I very happily said that I was glad school was ending.  As of this Thursday, no longer will he be able to holler ‘I’m doing my HOMEWORK!’ when he is asked to do something like set the table for dinner or unload the dishwasher or fold his laundry.  Battlegrounds.

    “As of Thursday, your little tushy is MINE for twelve whole weeks.” 

     And he grinned.  Actually smiled! 


     He is now fifteen and a half.  He is taller than I am.  We bought new shorts a couple of weeks ago and he is down two sizes.  He has navigated his first year in high school with perfect attendance and Academic High Honors.  He got the certificate and the bumper sticker but missed being invited to the Academic Awards Assembly by .13 percent or something like that.   He has his driving permit and complains half heartedly when I tell him to drive.  Only half heartedly.  He is looking forward to the high school’s summer soccer practices and rec league.  (Remember my post from last summer about dragging him there kicking and screaming and then sitting in the car with him until someone he knew showed up and he wouldn’t look like a dork??)  Today we signed up for soccer referee classes.  Alone.  He wasn’t stressing about being with someone he ‘knows.’ 

    And wonder of wonders he actually cleaned his room this weekend.  REALLY cleaned his room.  I’m not sure what brought that on….and I am not looking in the closet….yet.  I am just stunned to learn that the carpet in there is still the same color as the carpet elsewhere in the house. 

     It’s been so long since I have actually SEEN it. 


I Should Have Just Let Her Run……

May 15, 2009

I kept my daughter home from a track meet today.  Yesterday I sat in the pouring rain and freezing wind for another school track meet.  She threw the shot put 22 feet. She came in 4th and 2nd and 3rd in various races.  And she complained about her knees hurting.

Today was an ‘invitational.’  Considering that she has a soccer practice tomorrow night, two soccer games over the weekend and another track meet on Monday and Thursday, I figured an Invitational could be blown off.  I’d rather have her feeling good for the school track meet on Monday.  Her coach didn’t mind.  SHE did however.  She wanted to run.

But  parental precedence prevailed.  Instead of track we did the girlie thing and went shopping for a new bathing suit.  She has an out of town tournament in another week and the whole team is looking forward to the pool at the hotel.  The Princess left her bathing suit in a bag of wet things at camp last summer so a new one was on our ‘to do’  list for this weekend. 

Honestly?  I’d much rather tussle with my dentist over root canals – minus pain numbing meds – than bathing suit shop with either of my children.  Heh.

We went to a newly opened local shop and gathered up an armful of possibilities in various sizes…along with a couple of cooridnating boys’ trunks to wear over a girly suit.  Don’t ask.  It’s been a horrible fashion issue with us for the past few years.  Along with cut out backs and spaghetti type straps.  No two piece numbers or bikinis or tankinis for this gal.  Nothing like that ‘feels’ right.  And she hasn’t a clue about ‘Speedo’ and wanted to know who he was and why his name was on all of the suits.  She rolled her eyes when I said I was coming to the fitting rooms and was much relieved when I found a chair to sit in OUTSIDE the stall. 

The first hot pink and teal number was ‘tight’ around her waist. ( I later found out it was the miniscule cups in the top that bothered her.)  The plain black number was simple and functional but didn’t feel ‘right.’  Even with the black and gray skateboarded toned trunks over it.  The orange flowered one was too….’pretty’.  The hot pink one had a cut out back . She didn’t want to risk a ‘funny looking’ tan.  The last one was a winner.  The straps are wide and the back comes up a little higher.  It fits perfectly right now but we are worried about summer.  The salesperson tried to see if another store would have it one size larger.  No dice.  Bought it any way…for the upcoming out of town trip.  We will worry about summer later. 

Soooo….she put the suit on to show her dad when we got home.  And wore it a bit to stretch it out.  Sleek black with red racing stripes and perfectly fit.  The child as well as the suit.  No longer a skinny little girl, and thanks to track/soccer/skateboarding, she is toned and muscled.  Her legs have gotten longer.  Her natural complexion already bears a healthy warm tan.   Straight black hair swings to the middle of her back.  She is old enough now to go to our community pool on her own.  In that suit.  With her skateboarding buddies.  Mostly ranging from elementary to high school age.  Guys.  Dang. 

Who really needs a bathing suit anyway? 

I should have just let her run…….


February 21, 2009

mvc-011f-2He turned fifteen today.  Birthday traditions take high order in how we do things around here.  Traditionally Mom stays up late the night before wrapping every single little thing….even a package of gum.  Presents are balanced in a pile and topped with a bounty of balloons so there is a virtual shower of ballons when it comes to opening presents.  Mom has also stayed up to hang a curtain of crepe paper streamers on the birthday child’s bedroom door.  (Seriously I hate that curtain because there is no easy way to hang them. So thank you 15 for asking me NOT to do it this year.  I won’t be so lucky with your sister in August.) 

And birthday cakes have always been my ‘thing’.  Which usually means making the cake several days before and frosting it late into the night before or early in the morning the day of.  I am talking cakes like 3D teddy bears, a hockey/soccer player (with tin foil blades or chocolate chip cleats ), castles, sandy beaches with pretzel stick palm trees,  dragons (a bundt cake pan and Twinkies for the feet), space ships with aliens and even the Millineuim Falcon (when we were in our Star Wars phase).  Once I made a bed with four sleeping faces (cupcakes) decorated like the boys invited for a sleep over with two girl faces (cupcakes again) peeking over the foot and decorated to look like my daughter and her cousin who was also spending the night.  Had ‘Watch out Boys…’ lettered on the side of that one.  It was a hoot.  But, my favorite cake – ever – was the Frankenstein I made for 15’s ‘Mad Scientist’ party when he was eight.  Heh.  I baked that one in an empty 5 lb. coffee can.  This year he requested an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen….chocolate…..with a soccer ball.  Sigh.  End of ‘tradition’. 

Birthdays begin with phone calls from out of town relatives so they can sing ‘Happy Birthday.’   Non and Pop are usually the first from Florida and Aunt Darcy in South Carolina a close second.  Activity and dinner is generally whatever the birthday person requests.   Today they are at a bowling party for the newly four twin neices.  Tonight it’s crispy chicken and potatoes.  And baked beans.  And pickles.  And a birthday cake from Dairy Queen.  And red pop.  And a Red Wing hockey game on the big screen tv.  Perfect for 15.

But there are other traditions as well.  One that I really don’t share with anyone.

Every day on this day I think about a young woman on the other side of the world.  A twenty year old who gave birth to a baby, left behind some very basic and sketchy  information about herself and his absent father on a form and walked away.  Walked away leaving her slightly premature child in a nursery. 

I wonder if she thinks about him – or me – as often as I think about her on this day? 

I wonder if she wonders what he has turned out to be?  If she would be proud to know that he is kind, a good friend, a dedicated soccer player and motivated student.  I wonder if she would get a knowing gleam in her eye if  she learned that he was stubborn and tenacious and very, very shy at times.   I wonder if she would understand his quirky sense of humor.  I wonder if she thinks about what he might look like and be proud that he is – at 15 – gawky with his new height and very, very handsome. 

I hope she wonders…..and knows.  I hope she knows that her child – my son – is loved more than anything in the world.   I cannot imagine our lives without him.  He is a huge part of our family.  And I thank her.  For having the courage and faith to hand her newborn child to a stranger.   To be able to trust him to  the hands of the people who gave us the opportunity to raise him. 

Her child – my son – this angsty alien teenager being at the moment – is going to be a good, good man.  Someone we can both take pride in.  I wonder…and hope that she knows these things. 

And thinking about this is -on this day every year – is my very own birthday ‘tradition.’

Happy Birthday, Son.

I love you.

 The picture is from his 8th birthday because part of being this  angsty alien teenager being is that you fight tooth and nail about getting your picture taken…..sigh.

This one is for you…..

December 31, 2008

At some point in time, son, you are going to find yourself away from home – in a college dorm or your first apartment – and hankering for that dish that Mom made that was your favorite.  Naw…not the open can of Chef Boy R Dee’s ravioli or that Ramen noodle stuff.  It’s one that was handed down to me from my mom.  I mean, how can one ever forget coming in from a cold, wet fall/winter day to the smell of simmering swiss steak?  Yum.  It’s second only to the simmering pot of chicken and dumplings…or chili….but that’s another post.  Because you have never had the patience to sit still and watch – let alone help – I thought I would post it here for you.  So you can pull it up at any time….and make it for yourself.  So forgive me regular readers…and especially my vegetarian friends…but this one is just for him.

Swiss Steak Extraordinaire

Start with a regular round steak from the market….and look for cheap.  We don’t want to break the bank or anything.  The good stuff happens after you buy it anyway.  Cut the round steak into smaller pieces.  (My mom always left it whole and cooked it on the electric frying pan.)  Now slice a good sized sweet onion into very thin slices. 100_0692

Pour a thin coating of EVOO (that’s olive oil – thank you Rachel Ray!  I love that I even have it in my kitchen…) into a frying pan and layer about half the onion slices in there.  Turn the fire on low and get them cooking.

100_06931Now comes the fun part.  It’s messy.  Spread some newspaper on the counter top and cover it with wax paper.  Sprinkle the wax paper with some flour and dredge a piece of the steak in the flour.  ‘Dredge’ means to drag it through or coat it.  And you know that cool little hammer in the kitchen tool drawer you like?  The one with the spikes?  Well, wail away at that piece of meat, keeping it dry by turning it over and 100_0694over in the flour.  This is called ‘tenderizing’ but there is nothing ‘tender’ about it.  I have some fond memories of you and your sister helping with this part at times.  Why is it that you both like pulverizing red meat??  You need to do this with each and every piece.  Have fun!  Oh…and sprinkle on a teenybit of garlic or garlic salt now and then.   Not too much though.   

100_0695Layer the meat on top of the oil and the onions.

Layer the rest of the onions on the meat and put the cover on the pan.  You will need to turn the meat pieces occasionally…making sure that each side of 100_0696each piece gets a turn at the bottom of the pan, nearest the heat source. 

When each piece has been browned a little  you are going to pour in about a cup of water that has two bullion cubes dissolved in it.  Replace the top and let the pan simmer for a while.  ‘Simmer’ means it’s all going to be bubbling just a little…not a rolling boil. 

100_0700When it’s all cooking and smelling good – and here is the part you can omit if you are making it just for you because I know you profess to hate mushrooms – cover the whole deal with sliced, fresh mushrooms.  I usually buy a couple of whole ones and slice them really thin but the sliced ones were on sale this time.  I still ended up slicing each piece even thinner.   Your grandmother used canned mushrooms for the most part.  They were easier to find in the grocery store back in the olden days when Mom was a girl. 

100_0702The trick is to let the whole thing simmer (remember – a gentle bubbling not a boiling roll!)  for a long time.  Like an hour or two.  In fact, the longer the better.   Check it and turn the meat pieces now and then…and regularly scrape up the stuff that gets stuck to the bottom.  That’s good stuff for the gravy. Ew…don’t like what the camera flash does to the color.  This was a lovely warm, brown dish of flavor.

Whip up some mashed potatos from a box or toss one into the oven to bake.  And make some green beans or some other kind of vegetable  ….. please.  Do it for me.  For old times sake.

And there you have it. 

Your favorite thing that Mom cooked for dinner –

100_0705when you were 14……and a carnivore.