Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All about Z

Today we celebrate Ezekiel's birthday.  Today we give extra thanks for our "sparkly-eyed smiley face," as his sister so fondly calls him.  Our family is funnier, sillier and more complete because of our little man.  I asked the entourage what they loved about Zeke-ee baby.

10 Things to Love about Zeke:
  • He's really funny. Example: "Strangers have guns & that guy doesn't have a gun, so he's not a stranger" or his frequent call for siblings "Come to PaPa!"
  • Meal time, European (or Rwandan) style.  Eating with Zeke takes a long time.  People generally think he eats a lot, but in actuality, he is slow & savors (or protests) his food
  • Snuggling.  The kid LOVES it.  He literally falls asleep with a grin if someone will lie next to him.  This morning, he asked if he could lay on me for his birthday. Sigh. He melts me
  • Hand-me-downs.  It is a battle to convince Zeke to wear any clothing that wasn't previously worn out by his big brothers.  He does not like anything that is just his.  I guess this is kind of awesome, considering he's the youngest of four.
  • The squeeze factor.  Zeke has some sensory deficits that play out in quirky ways.  The boy can't stand Velcro shoes because we can't pull them tight enough and he prefers his shirts and underwear two sizes too small (it's slightly indecent!)
  • His voice.  It's like Barry White just sucked helium out of a balloon
  • Zeke is forgiving.  He is bullied all day long by his older sibling and every time, he goes back for more.  With each apology, he squeaks, "It's okay, I forgive you." And he means it.
  • His spirit.  Zeke looks at a tree, and sees a magnificent tree.  He hears a song, and it's beautiful.  He meets someone new, and they are a friend.  Zeke finds good everywhere.
  • Books.  The kid hoards books under his pillows, behind stuffed animals and inside the sheets. He can not get enough of reading.  I think he gets that from his big sister.
  • His memory.  Once, he told me about how I gave him a bottle while he was wrapped tight and than we went to a white room where the doctor checked him.  That really did happen.  In Ethiopia!  He can also tell you how to get to Mama's work, Grandpa's house or I29 to Kansas.
  • His one liners.  We can be in the middle of an emotionally draining conversation ("Why did my birth mom not want me?") and he'll follow up with "I'm gonna be Bat Man when I get big."

  • The moment we met.

    Molly can't be better at loving him.

    Babe in a bucket

    SO BIG!

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    That's why E has US and not just ME.

         Ryan went skiing for a couple of days with some old buddies.  I was intentional about scheduling zoo picnics, air plane museums and movies (sure, "fun mommy status", but I had selfish motivation-if we are busy the house stays clean and the time goes by faster!).  By Saturday night,  I was feeling pretty confident about our few days without daddy.  Until 1:49am.  That's when I was awakened by Etienne with stool filled pants.  Seriously, my 5/6 year old poo'd his pants.  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, really I did.  Is your tummy hurting?  Do you feel yucky? No, no, just a sleepy half smile and a very stinky, disgusting mess.  This is the part where I deliberately tried to step outside myself and look down on mother and son, an objective view.  Really, no guilt, no anger, just an efficient, gag-filled clean up and back to bed.  Inside, I was fuming.  It was offensive to clean up a big kid like this!  How didn't he feel or know this when he hasn't had #2 accidents in at least a year?   Instead of praying away my frustration, I angrily text'd Ryan.  Here's the texts:
    Kara: I realize it's 1am but I just got woke up bc E pooped his pants. I am gagging.
    Ryan: I'm so sorry.
    Kara: Soooo disgusting.  Cleaning a 5yo up that has poop everywhere. He acts like it's no biggie.
    Ryan: Surprised?
    Kara: It's POO. It's should be offensive and it should be embarrassing.  How can he do that?
    Ryan: Should be, yes. He SHOULD be out of diapers by now.  And he SHOULD have been held as a baby.
         That's when I started crying.  And that's when I turned to praying for my little boy's heart and mine.  I know that a lot of marriages, they hit the ugly stuff and the relationship crumbles.  I am more in love with my husband than ever before and I am so, so blessed by him.  However, in my defense, if he hadn't been on a mountain and in the bathroom with the poo instead, he would have needed reminded too.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    The return of the rad.

         Nuts!  Our house has this really big window over our entry way.  At night, we can see what's going on in the kids bathroom upstairs through the reflection in that window.  It's actually really awesome for Ryan and I to "catch" the boys.  They've yet to figure out that if they close the door,  mama and daddy won't be able to know what's going on from the living room.  We're planning on an "door open policy" until at least 14...
         The "nuts" is our frustration because from the reflection, we could see Zeke peeking into a Sonic cup that was sitting on the bathroom counter.  I hollered up to him what he was doing and he said something about "lemonade got in the bathroom."  I don't need to spell this out for you.  Not long after the "lemonade" puddle on the floor, counter and in the Sonic cup was cleaned up, Etienne had indeed confessed.  Nuts for the disgusting, gross behavior that is more of a toddler than a boy.  Yippee for honesty!  He went around the topic for a few stumbling sentences, but eventually gave us an indirect confession.  And now I have a ridiculously clean bathroom again.
        Nuts part 2.  He also broke Zeke's bed yesterday again by jumping on it.  The "lemonade" and the bed jumping all happened while with the sitter,Laurel, who was excited to give us a good report, was here.  He is so sneaky and so manipulative and she felt really awful that he did this nonsense under the radar and on her watch.  She has known him since he has been home, she loves him (and us)well.  It's just the true nature of RAD.  But it isn't Etiennne's heart.  It isn't who he wants to be.
       I left for Ash Wednesday service fuming.  Disappointed that after over a week of mostly great behavior, we were somehow back peddling.  Angry at myself for raising my voice over pee on the floor.  Sad for Laurel that he had deceived her.  Ugh.  I spent the next hour tearful and in prayer.  I was thinking about when Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, alone, not even tempted by earthly needs,  and how that needs to be me right now.  Obviously, I can't drop everything and head to Yuma, but  I can repent and I can sacrifice.  
      You see, as a kid, all I knew of Lent was that my Catholic friends stopped eating candy and the cafeteria served fish sticks on Friday.  Now, as an adult humbled by my life, I want this time to be about me turning solely to God  and preparing my heart for Him.  And Etienne's attachment disorder always leads me to that place once again.   It's really easy, after a full night's sleep and encouraging words from a preschool teacher, to think I've got this mom thing sort of figured out.  The lemonade and the flip-flopped mattress were my reminder that, clearly, my heart needs repentance and prayer as much as always.  In short, I am thankful for that stinkin' attachment disorder, in an indirect kinda way.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Too big.

         In the past month or so,  I feel like Zeke has lost some of his innocence.  I know that I have shared before that when Zeke sees pictures of Blake as a baby, he has always said "There's me!"  So secure is he in his family, that his eyes see a baby and he knows that he is the baby in this family, so that baby must be him.  Disregard the fact that Blake is a toe-headed white boy and Zeke is Rwandan.  Love that!
        Last night, Zeke was describing something at school and he said, "She is white like you," using skin color as a descriptive in a story.  This is new.  Normal and expected, I know, but still a bittersweet change. What little change in his brain suddenly made him register this objective?  
         When Ryan and I jumped on the adoption boat, believe me that we had plenty of heart-to-hearts regarding trans-racial adoption.  We'd be fools and our social workers slackers if we hadn't.  Deciding to bring African children into a Caucasian family is a big deal and an issue that my thinking has changed a lot on since doing so.  I used to think that "love is blind."  We would love all of our kiddos the same and we would raise them focusing on the similarities; that we are all God's children: with two eyes ("Mama's the only one who doesn't have brown eyes in our famly!"), two elbows, one heart, one family.  This is true, don't get me wrong!  However, I noticed quite soon after coming home that if there was another dark skinned person in the same space as us, Etienne would find him.  Of course he notices the differences and of course he wants to feel included!  This is why I choose to drive to our fabulous black barber shop every couple of weeks rather than save the $10 and have daddy do it.  If we never acknowledge or embrace that our boys' hair is high maintenance, that their skin is darker or their features are different, than I believe that by not talking about it, we run the risk of implying that it doesn't matter, doesn't exist or is shameful.  Does that make sense?  Ultimately, as Molly, Blake, E and Zeke's mama, my goal is to lead them to the cross and that at the cross, they will find security in their Savior alone.  I will do whatever I need to do to get them there.
    And now, back by popular demand, our bald headed boy!



         It happened.  Zeke decided for an early birthday celebration that he wanted his haircut.  All morning, he insisted he wanted to be bald.  I gave him a few hours and a few conversations, but he insisted.  He even  went and dug out his daddy's clippers.  One shave in and he was in tears.  "I changed my mind! Stop!"  Too late and what a lousy way to learn a lesson.  Today is now day 1 of "Growing My Twisty Curls Back."

    Lots of tears here.

    Sunday, February 19, 2012


      Music is a big deal at our house.  While driving around, we tend to listen to KLOVE ( I know, I know, cheesy but after the entourage questioned the lyrics of "Jesse's Girl" I had no choice) but Ryan and I both take a little bit of pride in our kid's musical knowledge.  If you ask Blake his favorite songs, it is probably Jack Johnson or Lennon while Molly is into the Newsies soundtrack.  Zeke has a thing for Billy Ocean and Etienne, like his mama, takes great comfort in a lot of song lyrics.  So his favorite depends on what is going on in his little heart.
      Currently, both the little boys love the Newsboys song "God's Not Dead."  Zeke aspires for his twisty curls to take the look of lead singer, Michael Tait, (I KNOW his Pops, Daddy and Grandpa aren't lovin' this look, but Zeke is his own boy!) .  He also really wants the newest CD for his birthday.
    Michael Tait of the Newsboys

    Ezekiel Higgins, of the Higgins' Entourage
        Asking this kid about cutting his hair leads to a lot of unnecessary yelling.  Every now and than, someone thinks he is a girl.  Truthfully, the people that think that are white people that aren't usually around black people.  Yup, I just said that.
      Below is Etienne's latest dance video to The Newsboys newest song and my Entourage's current fave.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Cooking Rwandan food in the spaceship

         That's what the boys are doing while I try to get myself presentable.  It seems crazy that at the age they are, I can't take a shower while they are awake, but it's true.  Last time I tried,  I found snow goggles dangling from a sad plant that couldn't handle the winter gear and a tearful Zeke stuck under a bed.  Not pretty.
         So we use my 5 minute shower time for working on our sensory deficits.  Today there is a tray of rice and dry noodles in the bathtub, which is also known as the space ship.  The boys are making me Rwandan chicken before I depart to the moon.  Wish me luck!
    FYI: if your kiddo has some sensory  issues, rice is one option to help him "rewire"

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    This thing called LOVE.

         Historically, Valentine's goes something like this in our house:
    Ryan: "Its unspoken that we aren't doing gifts,right?"
    Me: "Yup. Gifts! I gotta go to CVS at bedtime or I may be the worst mom in the world if they don't have a gift"

         The gifts are usually something like a new toothbrush or hair clips.  This year, I went all out with sun glasses and nail polish.  Nothing says I love you like a fresh mani/pedi.
    Getting a bit too grown up. Check out the friend-do in her hair.

    Seriously. How can I not laugh?

    Again.  He signed the girl cards in his class, "Love, Justin Bieber."( It was Molly's idea, I'm supposed to say.)
         I woke them up with Prince and they got cantaloupe for breakfast. Sorry, no heart shaped food here.  I did ask them, "What do we know about love anyway?"  Molly rolled her eyes, Etienne said "I get candy," Zeke was yelling and Blake-man said "It's from God." Score!

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Honestly (guest blog post)

         Post adoption is like post partum depression.  A lot of families deal with it, but not a lot talk about it.  Personally, I think part of this shame is because we wanted this.  A family adopting doesn't have an "oops" baby or much a a twinkle in the eye kinda beginning.  It's long, it's a lot of paperwork, planning, saving, scheming (it's true, if you've had more than 1 home study, you know what I am talking about), tears, prayers, fundraisers, etc.  I really feel like I have had friends that don't have sympathy because they saw me searching in the 11th hour for a notary or working extra shifts to pay for surprise fees.  I still want this.   I want to love all 4 of my babies unconditionally and without regards, excuses or justification but I am not there yet.
         For me, I believe that my boy's struggle is because in his core, he thinks he has to earn love.  Our job as his parents is to fight that lie every day until God wins.  There are other families like ours, and thankfully, God has used social networking to  connect us.  Kim Van Brunt is a writer and adoptive mom who talks about real life adoption.  She's asked me to blog for her (hoping it's not a one time deal!)  Here's the rest of my version of reactive attachment disorder (RAD).

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Glance at Crazyville

    Whish, whish, swish.  The sound of Etienne and his layers sneaking around at night.  Our night time insomnia has returned and the constant, really bad behaviors have decreased during the day.  I have no explanation of why.  I can't really say that my "babying" him or doing my midwife tricks helped.  I tried.   And I would prefer the uneasiness of our nighttime prowler and the lack of sleep any day.  I do less sleep on a regular basis; you know babies prefer the nighttime.  
    Reality is that we will eb and flow without any rhyme or reason for our attachment behaviors.  Reality is funny.  I am so grateful that finding underwear in my entry light cracks me up; 2 years ago, I would have been grumpy that my child was throwing underwear.  Sure, we may need to replace some dry wall and clear the ducts from army men and play dough, but it's keeping me out of the loony bin.

         Molly and I have fun with the random findings in our house.  Here is a glimpse of the week.  This is totally normal.  I love this.

    A pair of Batman jammies found  on my dresser mirror

    Our new eraser light switch. You can find one in  all the bedrooms.

    "What's the problem?" Utility broom in the bathroom, check.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Stop whining already.

       I have a difficult child.  I do not have a brain tumor.   Our friends and fellow Rwanda family,Ben & Susie Thomas are fighting a much bigger battle than RAD.  Susie has a large brain tumor AND she is pregnant.  She loves God, is a bit cynical (probably why I am her fan) and her grace under pressure is inspiring.  Tomorrow is remove the tumor day.  I love to remember that God already wrote Susie's story; and she knows that He is at the beginning ,the middle and the end.

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Patchouli & Whale Sounds

         One of my docs always teases me, "Gonna get the baby out with some ocean music and patchouli?"  All my staff knows I love using aromatherapy, pressure points, music & good ol' fashioned touch to chill out my freaking labor moms.  Yesterday, a day I had myself surrounded my desk with essential oils, Beatles and soft lighting when I got the phone call I had been fearing.  Etienne and Zeke's principal had left me a voice mail while I was seeing a patient.  I called back and listened as Etienne's teacher, in tears, told me that the staff feels that E needs to move out of his present class room.  She also said, yes, he had been saying inappropriate things about his mom (but they sided with me).
         I arrived home and E wouldn't acknowledge me and I couldn't talk to him either.  I was sad and fearful.  Ryan and I mumbled through a conversation about school (it's hard to tell a kid anything when you know they aren't hearing you anyway).Then my other half announced he was taking the other kids to get ingredients for sundaes, looked at me and said, "You can do it. Fake it."  Then they left us.  
         So we forced ourselves to bake brownies and I let him lick the spoon.  We filled the sink with big, calming lavender bubbles and played as we washed dishes.  I decided to use calming & soothing scents like lavender (sorry, Wob, no patchouli) and filled the kid bathroom with everything midwife.  Etienne soaked in the tub and I gave him a foot massage.  We listened to Exodus and rocked.  Hummed music and prayed.  He appeared to despise it but I found myself calmer and my heart softened to this boy again.  It took him 3 hours to fall asleep and he wasn't having labor pains.  
         It was worth a try.  Trial and error.  The tools of my trade served me well and now I know that Etienne could care less, but I do think he liked the foot massage.
    Historically, the scent of lavender has been considered valuable for it's calming effects.  Modern studies support this herb too.  Etienne does not.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    I did not see this one coming.

    Fear.  This is a new emotion for me to experience in the last 14 hours.  I've had doubt, frustration, sadness, uncertainty, but not fear.  Yuck.  The kind of fear that I have heard about; making your head spin with stories of snowballing effect in the middle of the night.
         "I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says 'Do not fear, I will help you.'" -Isaiah 41:13
    This verse was posted all over our house a couple of years ago following a TAG report Molly did on tornadoes.  This verse flashed in my brain this morning and I am grasping to it now, hoping in this truth.
    About a week or so (maybe longer) Etienne started mentioning that I am mean.  Okay, no biggie to tell my mom or the staff at the Y.  I don't care if anyone thinks I am mean; Ryan was following it up with things like "Peeing on mommy's floor is mean.  Teasing your little brother is mean."  Yesterday he told Ryan that I was pulling and grabbing him.  I haven't touched that child with anything but gentle, nurturing contact in months!  No big deal, that's what you're thinking.  Here's my fear: to people who don't know Etienne well, he is charming, sweet, and generally well behaved.  My fear is that he is telling a well intended, mandated reporter that I am pulling and grabbing him.  After he has been telling them I am mean. After he is moaning and groaning about his aches and pains (usually as a result of an attempted Puss in Boots move off the railing or bunk bed).  You see my fear?  To the average reader, my fear is exaggerated and I am "making a mountain out of a mole hill."  We moms tend to do that.  So I sat in tears in the front of the car with this new gross emotion overwhelming me as Ryan dealt with our boy for the remainder of the evening.
    Somewhere around 3:30am last night, I played out my worst case scenario.  E tells the para at school that I am pushing and grabbing him; she has to report this per state law.  CPS shows up.  God shows up too.  I have Molly's articulate words and a household of beauty out of ashes.  And probably a decent blog post.  I can handle that.  Laughing at the thought of Molly and Blake defending me to anyone was the moment I realized my prayer allowed God's words to overcome this fear.  He will win this battle too.