A Birthday Twin. Jax & Isa Celebrate Together

Jaxen and Isabel (Jax and Isa) share a birthday. When we were preparing paperwork to adopt again we asked Jax how he felt about having a birthday twin. He is our most laid back kid, so he didn’t think much about sharing his special day with someone 9 years his junior. He just wanted to make sure that our birthday traditions would stay intact. We assured him they would.

The letter board went up. As I always do, I am going to say that I can’t believe how old he is. My little buddy is a 6’2″ tall freshmen in high school now. Wow.

A picture of a letter board with the words 'Happy Birthday Jax, My little buddy, We love you so much, 15 years' on it in white letters.

Our American born kiddo wanted Chinese food, the kind that comes from an actual Chinese-owned restaurant. So, that is what he got. I love him for that. It made his Chinese siblings very happy too. He got Manga, because that is his passion currently.

Jaxen, a tall Black boy wearing a pink hoodie, sitting at a long table with a plate of Chinese food in front of him. He is smiling for the camera.

Our birthday twin was celebrated the following day when we held a party for Isabel.

An image of a letter board with the words 'Happy Birthday Isabel, Nuestra Colombiana, We love you so much, 7 years' on it in white letters.

Our Colombiana chose chicken nuggets and French fries, because she is definitely Colombian-American now. The kids wanted her to get a chance to try Chick-fil-A, but we aren’t down with their values, so these are look Costco nuggets that supposedly taste very similar served with homemade sauce.

Isabel, a small Black girl in a dark purple dress, eating chicken nuggets and French fries off of a silver plate while smiling for the camera.

She wanted a doll. We chose this one. It appears to have been the right choice because she is sure it is Ally. Ally has worn her hair like that in the past. This doll isn’t shaped like a white girl. Representation matters. Isa is really happy with her gift.

Isabel, a small Black girl in a dark purple dress, with her doll. The doll has long, pink, braided hair. Isabel is holding the doll for the camera to see.

–FullPlateMom, who loves her birthday twins.

No Longer A Teenager. Ally Turns Twenty Years Old!

Ally turned 20 years old this week. She was able to come home from the University for a visit after carefully quarantining and testing negative right before her visit. She has been living in a large University dorm. She contracted COVID in October from someone in the dorm, despite being very careful. As a respite provider for her sister, she has now been fully vaccinated as a Tier 1A health care provider, but I am still anxiously waiting for more research on just how well protected that makes her. So, we are still being very careful.

We have missed her so much! It’s so good to see her again! Juliana and Sofia baked her a cake. There was even soda! Soda is a huge treat in our house. Good old Faygo for the win!

It’s still pretty wintery here, and Ally loves soft cozy things, so we followed the trends and got her a super soft, popcorn sweater, in a color that looks AH-MAZING on her. Juliana was impressed. I guess that’s what happens when you’re twenty years old, you’re officially old now, and you like receiving gifts like sweaters? That’s what Ally told me.

Isa was especially happy to see Ally. She asks about her daily. They FaceTime a lot. She always reminds us (in her native language of ASL) where Ally is. In doing this, she is reassuring herself that she understands what went down when Ally left. “Ally, left…University. Come home, soon.” That promise was hard to keep with COVID in play, but again, we’re doing our best.

She did manage to talk Ally into doing her hair when she was here. I appreciate that as well. Isa sits for Ally. She sits…less…for mom and dad.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t believe she is mom of a fully grown human.

A Career Transition

For the past three school years I have worked as a School Nurse at the same elementary school. This week I am making a career transition. I am moving on to high school! That seems crazy to me! I always viewed myself as a “little kid” person. And, moving schools in the middle of the school year, during a pandemic, isn’t optimal. Yet, here I am, in my new office, all masked up and ready to go.

I will miss my school family at the elementary school. But the turn over was beginning to impact me, especially among the admin team. Losing a Principal and an AP in the same year was really hard. We couldn’t form the high functioning team I had always hoped for within student services. Even larger of an issue for personally was the step backward I saw in really adopting practices that would help us move forward on becoming a trauma sensitive school.

Practices that were being put back in place were practices I just don’t agree with. I don’t think they will move the school forward in holistic student health. Leadership and I had to agree to disagree and I needed to move on. It was time for a career transition.

This transition will allow me to continue my work on trauma informed practices in the school setting, work that I intend to weave into my doctoral studies. And, I get to build the high functioning team I dreamed of as we move from a health office to an actual clinic inside of this small city of a school. We are serving 2300 students. For many students, we are their only access to health care. Our work is important. It is especially important during a pandemic, and as we recover from what has happened in our student’s lives while they were out of school.

I know that I am an important piece of that recovery. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

–FullPlateMom, who is here for more than just Band-aids and barf buckets.

Tess is 10! Congenital Heart Disease has nothing on her!

Tess is 10 years old! Given her diagnosis of severe Congenital Heart Disease, we weren’t sure we would see this day. I am so thankful for every day with her, but I am also left wondering where my tiny, slightly blue, toddler is? Tess became my best friend the second I set foot on Chinese soil. She is still my shadow. She is an early riser, just like me, so she will pop into my room long before anyone else is awake just to ask me how I slept and what is on my agenda for today?

She is truly becoming a pre-teen now though. Her early hours aren’t quite as early as they were before. She wanted her hair done for her birthday. Being that we are still in a place where COVID numbers are skyrocketing in our community, this took some arranging. Our beloved stylist opened the salon early just for Tess. They are both masked up, obviously, and we came with freshly washed hair and left to blow dry and style at home. It wasn’t quite the salon experience she is used to, but we are trying so hard to be pandemic safe.

She loves shrimp, especially coconut shrimp. So she chose that for dinner, along with her other favorite, BLTs. Our girl loves her some bacon. We’re okay with that for special occasions. Her Congenital Heart Disease isn’t the same as heart disease in an adult. Heart healthy foods are important for everyone, but she is also tiny, and slightly under weight. We are working on that. In the right amounts, bacon has been helpful.

We are so grateful for Tess. I hope that wherever her birth family is today, they know she is okay, that she is better than okay actually, she is living her best life every single day.

–FullPlateMom, who is so blessed by Tess.

Skiing with the teen boys

I took the teenage boys skiing this week. I am in a transition period with work, which has been pretty difficult to manage. Skiing with these guys brought joy.

We ended up at this hill.

I don’t feel like a very good mom to them lately. Mental health issues for teenagers during a pandemic have taken a wrecking ball to our relationship. Brady hardly lives at home anymore. That’s painful. He has rejected a lot of what we have to offer as a family in place of being with friends and partying. He has made unsafe choices that have left his sisters and risk of COVID-19 infection. That has been really hard for the rest of the family to grapple with. He is focusing on himself right now. This is what he needs to do, I suppose, but it has done real harm inside of our family. Today was about meeting each other where we’re at and spending time together.

It didn’t turn out quite that way, except for Jax and I. AJ and Cam went off together, good friends that they are as well as brothers. They also ski at similar ability levels. Brady happened upon a friend. A coincidence, or so he says. I doubt it. Deep breath, we’re meeting each other where we’re at. We never saw him again until it was time to go.

Jax and I spent the entire time together. This guy has spent his entire life checking on me. “How was your day, mom?” “Did you sleep okay?” And lately, “Why are you crying, mom?” He is precious, and awkward, and has lost so much this year too. I adore him, and I am so grateful for the time he is spending with me and how he is taking care of me, his dad, and his younger siblings. It’s not his job to hold any of us up, and yet, here he is.

–FullPlateMom, who is grateful for the day.