Monthly Archives: February 2017

Florida Updates

It’s been pretty crazy, so I haven’t had a lot of time (or headspace) to update. Those of you following on Facebook have gotten some tidbits, but here’s a more full update. 

We arrived safely and with no puking, and Grandma had tater tot casserole ready in the oven. There was much joy all around. 

Our first full day was unfortunately occupied with urgent care and the pharmacy. On the second day of travel, I developed terrible wrist and hand pain, kind of out of nowhere. The urgent care PA diagnosed me with nerve pain, and I’ve been wearing a brace and taking prednisone, which has been a huge help. The prednisone is keeping me awake at night, which I don’t love, but at this point it’s worth it. 

Later that night Elias complained of tooth pain. This poor kid and his poor teeth. I sent a picture to the dentist and Elias is on penicillin. At least both medicines are cheap! The folks at this pharmacy are quite lovely. 

We got to visit Give Kids the World again as an alumni family. You get a tag when you go in that identifies you as alumni, and all the volunteers and staff say “Welcome back!” when they see you coming. 

We hung at the ice cream shop for a while – all the ice cream you want, all day, free – and Elias ingested enough popsicles for an army. (So basically just like Grandma’s house.)

We visited the magic castle, where Levi left a star on our original visit. It’s way up on the ceiling. Here’s a blurry picture – Levi’s star is circled. 

The constant car time has been killing my back, so I snuck into the welcome office and asked if I could lie on the floor with my feet up the wall, please. They acted like it was a normal request. 

And this leads to one of the most amazing things at GKTW. Paul was talking to a dad from the Bronx yesterday, and said, “One of the best things here is you can just relax about everything.” 

“OH I KNOW!!!” boomed Bronx Dad. 

For us, relaxing mostly means not worrying about spills and breakage; everything is kid-friendly and spills are met with smiles and assistance. For Bronx Dad it means a lot more. His son has profound mental disabilities. He’s nearly a grown man in body, but his brain and behavior will ever catch up. He had a huge throwdown at supper the other night. No one even batted an eye, a nonreaction both unique and welcome. “Relief” probably doesn’t quite cover it. 

Speaking of relaxing, Paul and I snuck off for a date night, courtesy of Paul’s niece Amanda agreeing to watch the boys. Luna is a local Venice restaurant with authentic Italian and sports stuff literally everywhere, even on the ceiling. As I told a friend yesterday , it’s good sports stuff – even I recognize a lot of the autographs. We shared a booth with Bobby Knight. 

Paul and I left so stuffed we weren’t sure we were going to make it home. I took a nice walk this morning to get rid of the feeling, and drank a ton of water. All of the sudden I felt a lot better. A walk and water. Who’da thunk? (I am a slow learner.)

Headed to pick up the boys at the beach now. We are armed with pizza and headed for Mote Marine Lab after lunch. Onward and upward!


We introduced the boys to hockey today. I was trying to explain it this morning and I finally gave up and said, “They get to push and shove and knock each other down.” 


They fell asleep less than five minutes after we got in the car. 

We had a quiet ride up there. Paul and I got to talk to one another for awhile without interruption. I believe this was God’s special little birthday present for me. 

“This is like going to the doctor,” Levi said which might seem odd, but apparently going to Children’s is his only memorable experience with a large parking garage. 

Here we are hanging out in one of the Cavs practice courts. 

The boys each got a blow-up hockey stick. Very useful for whacking one other in the head. 

This was another special trip from A Kid Again, the folks that sent us to the North Pole. Thank you to everyone there and the volunteers and donors that make it possible, because we had a great time! 

I love hockey, and I don’t think I’ve been to a game in 15 years. The rules came back to me pretty quickly (though I couldn’t answer Elias when he asked what a penalty for interfering meant), and I think Paul was amused by my hollering after I settled in. 

Unfortunately, the Monsters lost in a sudden death overtime shootout. Elias was pretty mad about it, but I felt like we got our money’s worth. (Ha.)

We had to remind the boys constantly to keep walking. The size of both the arena and the crowd were a little overwhelming for them, and a lot of looking around was required. 

I told them as we were leaving how proud I am of them. There was no complaining about boredom, and the only fight was a minor scuffle as we were waiting for the elevator in the parking garage after. I am so encouraged by this display that I would agree to another sporting event. Even right now, right after we left. 

I am typing this in the car (no I am not driving) on the way home, and they are sleeping again. 

It’s a good day. 

Another Van Trip

“I want to talk to you about something,” Paul said, sitting down at the kitchen table with a full glass of water and a trepidatious look, “and I want you to listen until I’m done before you start yelling.”

“Okay,” I said slowly, pushing away my almost-finished dinner. “Given that opening, I’m not sure I can make any promises, but I’ll try.”

Paul took in some air, and looked at me carefully. “When we go to visit Mom and Lyman in Florida this winter,” he said, “I’d really like to drive instead of fly.”

There may be a few of you following along at home who can’t think why that statement might be a prelude to yelling. If you’re in that group, make yourself a nice cup of tea and go read this before you come back to us.

“I promise,” Paul said immediately into my stunned silence, “that I’m not going to try to drive straight through. We’ll stop for a night each way.”

“Uh huh,” I said, but my tone wasn’t acquiescent.

“You can wear headphones all the time so you can’t hear the fighting,” he added. “And I won’t say a word about it.”

“Um,” I said.


I don’t actually understand why he wants to drive, although it doesn’t seem to be rooted in active cruelty. I don’t actually understand why I agreed, either.

Regardless, we are being proactive. We’ve borrowed a bunch of movies from a friend that the boys haven’t seen before, and I intend to let them fry their little brain boxes into temporary oblivion if they so choose. I’ve reserved a hotspot from the library, so I will have my beloved internet with me all the time. There will, of course, be buckets. Just in case.

So I’m okay. See? I’m fine. Because I know everything is going to be great. I am sure of it.

We leave in a couple of weeks. I am not at all nervous about this trip. I am confident that I will get everything packed and set up and I won’t stay up way too late doing any of that and it will be fantastic.

Everything is super.


I’m not always great with dates. I’ve mentioned before that anniversaries sometimes sneak up on me. I am convinced that this is not an actual decline in cognitive ability, but the fact that I am trying to remember roughly 1000 things at any given time. (Just nod and smile.)

So last night when I slid into bed, already far too late, and Paul sleepily asked me what was wrong I said, “I don’t know.” And I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me from lying awake under a cloud of nebulous anxiety.

This morning, Paul posted a link to this piece I wrote a few years ago, on the twentieth anniversary of my dad’s death, which means that today it’s twenty-three years.

Oh. Right.

This is the oddest thing to me, that I don’t see it coming but my body does. My conscious mind is busy getting the children to school and driving to work and making food Elias will refuse to eat, and my body is tensing against the approach of remembered grief.

This is in no way unique to me. I was talking with a group of other adoptive moms recently. Some of their children were adopted before they could possibly remember food scarcity, and yet they hide food in their rooms. They worry about whether they’ll have enough to eat, despite the fact they haven’t truly been hungry since they can remember. One boy struggles without visible external reason for a few weeks every year around the time when he was surrendered by his birthmother.

It is as if pain and fear and grief seep into our very cells and lie there dormant. Waiting.

I read somewhere that grief is the price we pay for love, and I believe it’s true. You love someone, you’re going to break your heart over them somehow, someday. But that isn’t the end of the story.

That boy I talked about? His story goes on with his mother knowing about his hard time coming and preparing and planning and lying on the bed with him when he cries and when he doesn’t, and loving him so hard and so there while he grieves for the mother he lost. Those kids who are worried they won’t have enough to eat even though they don’t know why? Their stories go on with their mamas, breaking their hearts that their babies ever suffered and breaking their brains to think up ways to help.

And even me. When I am busy not paying attention, I have someone who remembers for me, and people that tell me stories I never heard about my father. He woke up in a recovery room once, and the first thing he wanted to do was comfort a baby he heard crying. I didn’t know that story until today, and I’m a little richer for it now.

We all bear scars – if you don’t, maybe brace yourself – and it does no good to pretend that remembered pain doesn’t hurt. But I am convinced that it’s no match for present love.