AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Deafness, FPM, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Meat and Potatoes, Sofia, Tess

Raising Readers: Book Club, Full Plate Style.

Last July, I started a book club with some of my besties.

I chose three of my kids who had a similar reading level and I crowdsourced a book that they might all like. I downloaded the reading guide for the book here. We had multiple meetings at local restaurants where I had gift cards or coupons. Y’all, it was the highlight of the summer.

So, when summer was dawning on the horizon this year, these three lobbied to have a book club again. But, this time, all of their besties jumped on the band wagon. Initially, I divided the kids into two groups. But, once we got going, the tiniest of Full Platers also demanded their own book club. Now we have three going.

The kids are obsessed. When is our next meeting?!? Can I read ahead?!? Oh my gosh, mom! I can’t wait for you to find out what happens in the next chapter.

The “bigs” are reading Children of Blood and Bone. Here’s the free teacher guide I found to help prompt our discussions.

Juliana is the youngest of this group. She is a rising 7th grader, but reads at a high school level. Ally is not joining us this summer because of the aforementioned internship she has at an on campus preschool. Her internship includes room and board at a local dorm. We send her snaps like this one to let her know she is missed.

Their meetings were first. We’ve had three so far, because this book is a brick. The next meeting will be our last for this book. We’re taking suggestions for the next TBR (To Be Read). The kids love Black authors, and their favorite genre is definitely fantasy/magical realism. Dystopian novels are okay.

The “middles” are reading George. Juliana chose this for them. I love that an older kid is curating the bookshelf of the younger kids. I am using the reading guide from the Anti-Defamation League.

A note to readers of this post: Don’t message me with any outrage over my children being “exposed” to a book of this variety. That is my intent, all you haters. I want my children to know about people who are different than they are. Understanding the life experience of others is what combats hatred and cruelty. Reading this isn’t going to make anyone anything other than more compassionate. We need a little less hatred in the world these days. Should you choose to post a comment with malicious intent despite reading this warning, I will simply not approve it. If you continue to send ugly comments, I will start blocking IP addresses. The end.

Then the “littles” demanded a Book Club. Let’s be honest, they really just wanted the treats and the time with mom. Whatever gets you reading, right? I structured their club a little differently, because it includes two Deaf kids and I sign like a rising 1st grader.

Their Book Club occurs at home. It does involve a dessert. Last week it was a brownie bowl. We choose a brand new picture book. I practice signing it, in ASL, and voicing it simultaneously. That’s a stretch for me to focus on correct ASL grammar while voicing English. Lots of times I try that and slip into SEE (Signed Exact English). This week’s book was the new Pigeon book by Mo Willems!

We adore Pigeon around here.

When the book is done, everyone in our little group has to sit for three questions that check their comprehension. Gigi struggles with that because her language is so delayed. ‘Why’, ‘What’, and ‘How’ questions are hard for her. ‘Who’ and ‘When’ are easier. This time she nailed both though. ‘How did the Pigeon get to school?’ ‘The bus! Same as me!’ ‘Pigeon was scared of school…why?!?’ ‘Maybe, friends…none. *insert sad facial expression*’ Nailed it.

They are loving this. I am loving this. It is a great way to connect with my kids.

–FullPlateMom, who is all about the connection, especially with her less than chatty teens.

FPM, Meat and Potatoes, Veggies

Summer Overcomer

It has been a rough one, there really is no other way to put it.  Isa is doing great.  Her health is better than we could have asked for.  Eyes, perfect.  Heart, holding steady.  Lungs, chronic, but manageable.  Ears, super deaf, which is just what we expected, and what we love.

Work has been hard.  I am currently partially unemployed.  We’re working on that, but upon coming home, I took a large salary cut that impacted us in ways it will take us awhile to come back from.  It was like the perfect financial storm after coming home from an adoption.

The political climate has us worried about our health insurance.  We’re self-employed and there promises to be a large increase in our premium very soon.  We struggled with our ACA premium under Obama.  We’re suffocating with it under Trump.  Ally will become an adult soon and we will have to buy her own policy.  She can no longer be covered under our policy purchased on the market.  She has asthma, which is a pre-existing condition.  We feel like we’re working harder than ever just to survive.

Last weekend I was diagnosed with kidney dysfunction and I am currently being worked up for Type 1 Diabetes.  I have long battled auto-immune issues.  This seems to be the latest one.   We have conquered way bigger things.  It’s just that, right now, it feels like a pile on.  I’m tired.

I had big plans for this summer.  They have gotten a lot more low key.  We’re hitting up locations around town, exploring our city, and getting ready for a big trip to DC in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully that will make up for some of the bummer parts of this summer.  

Because we are overcomes, summer overcomes.

–FullPlateMom, who is so grateful for what she does have.

Dessert, Gigi, Meat and Potatoes, Tess

Halloween 2017

2017’s theme is “Just keep swimming!”  So, this seemed so appropriate.

Our little Dory is struggling a little.  Her lungs are always troublesome, but her weight is now a concern too.  We’re trying to figure out why she’s so very fragile.

Luckily, she’s got people to swim right along beside her.  Always.

While her body might be tiny and fragile, her spirit is big and strong.

–FullPlateMom, who will keep swimming right alongside her too.

 

Adoption, Bread and Butter, Dessert, FPM, Isabel, Juliana, Meat and Potatoes, Trauma, Veggies

Refresh(er)

I attended Refresh Chicago this weekend.  I had been planning this for months.  It has been on my calendar since March.  I barely made it.  Joe and I had a HUGE fight.  The kid in our home who struggles the most with attachment chose the week of the conference to have a week of meltdowns.  This isn’t atypical once we get into the swing of school.  She begins to feel safe and she lets her trauma flag fly.  Still, this week though?!? NO!

I missed Friday morning’s session.  I almost didn’t get in the car.  Then a friend messaged me, “We don’t care how late you are, JUST COME!”  So, I dried my tears, loaded up my janky, old SUV, and headed out.  I enjoyed three blissful hours in the car, three hours to myself to laugh at podcasts, cry at Tom Petty songs, and to just be alone.

I made it for lunch, for the afternoon breakout sessions, and then for the Friday night general session.  Refresh is a religious conference.  While religion is painful for me, faith isn’t.  Faith is strength in this home.  In fact, there are times when it’s all I’ve got to go on, faith that it will get better.  Friday night’s general session wasn’t about getting through it though.  It was a night to let go of it.  A message about faith and about letting go of what is burdening us.

The Refresh leaders gave us each a Sharpie marker and a balloon (never fear, both the balloon and the string are specially crafter biodegradable materials, I didn’t even have to ask, they offered that info up, because they know their crowd).  They asked us to write out the things that were burdening us the very most.  I took a pic of my balloon.

But, this picture is a lie.  I’m going to own that right now.  My balloon was full of so many other burdens.  I should have taken pictures of those words too.  I had a moment of fear about being quite so open though.  My daughter is waiting too long, that’s true.  That is a huge burden, but it’s a more acceptable burden, because that isn’t within my control.  I worry every single day that Isabel will die before we can get there, that she will die without ever having a family.

There were other burdens on this balloon though…

“My marriage is a mess right now.”

“I have a child who HATES me.  She might never know secure attachment.”

“I can’t support all the teachers who work for me the way they need to be supported.”

“People hate me for using public resources for my children.”

“There is never enough money.”

“I don’t do enough to fight racism, homophobia and xenophobia to make up for the fact that I was blind to it for too long.”

“I’m fat and ugly.  I don’t take care of myself well enough.”

“I am not enough.”

I didn’t take a picture of any of those words, because, “I am scared” was also written on that balloon.  I am scared.  That might be the biggest burden of them all.  I live in fear of never being enough for all the people who depend on me.  I drive myself into the ground trying to help everyone else before I help myself.  I’m going to do better.  I have to do better.

I have to let all of that go.  I did that this weekend.  It is my prayer that you will read this and let this go as well, because there was another take away this message this weekend.

You’re not alone, and neither am I.

–FullPlateMom, who is here if you need to let go of something, and who hopes to see you at Refresh next year.  Let’s make our ‘me too!’ group the largest EVER.

 

Brady, Cate, Isabel, Meat and Potatoes, Tess

I Love Sundays.

We are STILL waiting for our I800A approval from the government in order to move forward with our adoption from Colombia.  It is now day 48.  Sigh.  

Sundays at our house are slow and lazy.  They’re mandatory family time as we worship at home together.  I’ve explained before why we left our church.  This morning’s sermon, via Podcast, was on sibling relationships.  We followed that up with a science podcast about alternative fuels and what Carbon is doing to our environment.  I know how weird this sounds, but this is so my family, faith, science and social justice, not in any particular order.

I cooked.

They wander.

But we all listen.

Every once in awhile someone would ask me a question about faith, science or social justice, and how they all intertwine, and a conversation would begin.  Those conversations bring connection.

This is what I want for them.  To learn about all these subjects, how they relate, and how they shape our world.

That’s why I love Sundays.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait for Isabel to join our lazy Sundays.

 

Cam, Meat and Potatoes

Wingardium Leviosaaaaa

We’re literary dorks around here.  And, once one of the children has read a book, it is often shared with everyone else in a way that makes certain works of literature become trendy within our house.  Right now, it’s all about Harry Potter.  I know we sound like we’re late to this ball game, and we are.  Honestly, it is usually Middle-Middle who raises the obsession with something and the other boys follow with enthusiasm, always ready to try something new.  Responsiboy had read most of the Harry Potter series, up to the Goblet of Fire.  Cedric Diggory’s tragic and untimely demise in that book had me holding back.

This year, I decided to start reading them aloud, figuring that by the time I reached poor Cedric’s death, the kids would be old enough to handle it.  My reading spurred Responsiboy’s renewed interest and he has read all but the last two books now.  And, it created an obsession with M-M.

This is the back story on how I spent my Saturday making nine wands, and is the explanation for why the entire neighborhood likely spent their Saturday watching the boys point painted chopsticks at one another while shouting latin-like exclamations as they ran around the house, front yard to back, cursing one another.  At least it’s warm enough for them to do this in the out of doors now.

In case you have a Harry Potter dork in your home, I used this tutorial from Pinterest to create these little beauties.

Harry Potter Wands

Harry Potter Wands-1

The only thing I did differently was that I spray painted my chopsticks instead of hand painting them all.  When you’re churning them out in the numbers I was, spraying them was just easier.  I’m still a little high off the fumes though.

All in all, my literary dorks were quite pleased.  I’m quite pleased to see them loving literature.

Harry Potter Wands-2

FullPlateMom, who wants to remind you that you can follow her on Pinterest for more fun Saturday projects!

 

Adoption, Advocacy, Meat and Potatoes, Megafamily

The Selfish in the Selfless.

A disclaimer:  I am leaving the comments on for this post because 1. I could use the kind words right about now and 2. I think there are other people who can relate and should be allowed to find comfort here.  I am moderating the comments though, and if you say mean things to me I will merely not hit publish, and while I might get to read your unkindness, the rest of the world won’t.  So, in other words… don’t bother.  

There have been a few things going on at FullPlateManor.  They’re big things.  And, they’re hard to explain without writing a book.  Some of them have to do with the fact that our kids are growing up.  Some of them are what I would consider normal adolescence.

Some of the other things are decidedly not normal, well, not for other families.  Early this week, I purchased plane tickets for Dolly and I to fly to Boston to meet the Cardiothoracic Surgery team there.  Today, I got an email letting me know that the surgeon we had hoped so desperately to meet won’t be in at all that week.  72 hours after I purchased plane tickets just to meet him and actually grown the huevos to GO.  You see, I’ve been stalling.  Now I’ve done it, and he’s cancelled!!!  Oh.my.God.  I had a moment of quiet hysteria this morning, one where I told myself that if I went ape on the staff at the hospital it would only mean that I would be labelled as a lunatic and would likely affect Dolly’s care.  I don’t want to be that mom, you know, the one the nursing staff flips for during report to see who gets saddled with her.  I want my daughter to be the one they fight to care for, because as a nurse, I know how much that means to her recovery.  So, I frantically Facebook messaged every mama I knew would understand, took a breath, and finally… calmed the freak down.

I did confide in our Cardiologist that I had woken up several times over the past few weeks in a cold sweat about what is to come for Dolly.  Are we making the best choice for her?  Will this surgery make her life easier in the long run or are we absolutely wrecking her quality of life because WE want more time with her?  Am I being selfish to hurt her so badly so that she might live longer?  Because I want her to.  I want to see her take ballet lessons.  I want to watch her learn to swim, to see her go to her first dance, to watch her get married, to see her grow old and grey.  I want that for me, because I am too weak to imagine going on in this world without her.

It seems selfless to fly across the country to take a chance on a surgery that may leave her with her native heart, but it is truly rooted in selfishness.  I want her to be better.  I want it for her, but I want it for me too.

I am truly selfish within what only appears selfless.

There is another girl who appears on the advocacy page of this blog who has become a major topic of conversation in this house.  It looks like she has cancer.  A cancer that is likely curable in the U.S., but one that is not in China simply because she has no mom or dad to pay for the cure.  Conversations of her have opened the door to conversations about just how much we as a family can, and should, take on.  I want to take on more, FPD is hesitant, one of our children is flat out scared.  While helping would seem selfless, is it selfish for us to adopt again?  Heck yeah.  Every single time we do, it’s because we want to call that child ours.  Mostly, because I want to call that child ours.  I drive that train in this house.  FPD would have been happy with one kid, or three kids.  He’s happy with nine kids.  Will he always be happy with adding more?  I don’t know.  Maybe I push too hard.  I always consider the impact on my children, or I thought I did, but maybe I’m losing perspective.  All I know is that when that face appeared in my email,  I wanted to be their mom.  I am selfish.  I could have sponsored that child.  Or, I could simply stop looking.  I could unfollow every waiting child advocacy group I belong to on FB, I could cut ties with the adoption community, I could shut that world out completely.  I don’t want to.  I wanted to have a huge family.  And, I don’t want to shut that door.

It seems selfless to parent nine children who might otherwise not have parents.  I want them to have a mom, but I also wanted to be that mom.

I am truly selfish within what only appears selfless.

This is what I wrestle with daily.

–FullPlateMom, who occasionally wonders if she’s driving that train right off a cliff.