Thursday, December 29, 2016

So. Many. Questions

Since Little Ham has started to uncoil, he has been asking the pressing questions that nobody has been there to answer so far in his life. And there are a lot of things he wants to know. Thousands of questions, ranging in magnitude from word definitions to "why does pee smell like popcorn" to "Why does Ellen DeGeneres dress like a man?"

We have deeply enjoyed watching him learn and piece together his world into a more meaningful structure than the incongruous, fractured world of a lonely child. He is able to piece a few things together now on his own and his fear is less because life is starting to make sense.

We're rooting for him, and have lots of answers for his many questions.

Hang in there Little Ham!

Friday, December 16, 2016

There Goes Santa Claus *snif*

I suspect this is the last year of believing in Santa for the boys. They were so excited at the beginning of the holiday season about Santa and being really good and all of that great Santa stuff, however it seems to be wearing off.

Probably some of it is my fault -- Little Ham put out a list for Santa of over $2000 worth of stuff, so "Santa" wrote back and said something along the lines of "I'll bring you joy but not all this crap."

And I see that Santa is real when the boys want something, but when "Santa can see you [doing that naughty thing]" then Santa doesn't exist.

The Elf on the Shelf is getting it square in the teeth. I heard the boys yesterday, discussing how they are pretty sure that Dad moves the Elf every morning before work. "It's either Dad or Mom moving it, for sure."

When people look at your 3 year olds and say, "They grow up so fast," I never really understood that because the little teeny kid phase seems to last forever when you're in it. Now that it's fading, it seems like it was only a heartbeat.

Where does it all go.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Turkey Trot - a story of success and other things.

Thanksgiving morning this year brought Mom to the kitchen and Dad (and the boys) plus Neighbor T to the Baltimore City Turkey Trot 5K run.

There was a great deal of complaining from all three guys, but they dutifully headed out so I could cook Thanksgiving dinner. The race went smoothly (ish) depending on which of our sons you ask, but none the worse for wear.

As my weary racers approached the car to go home, Hamslice tripped over a chunk of concrete and went careering into a ditch. A major cement burn to the face, a black eye and two black knees later, Hamslice arrived home, still sniffling and needing a lot of TLC.

In all of the excitement about Hamslice, nobody really paid attention to the race standings (really with our un-athletic family, who would?) but we should have.

Little Ham had the fastest time in the entire Male 9 and under category for the race. Amazing!! He ran his first 5K with a final time of 29:20

We sent a note to Little Ham's running coach to let her know. We are so proud of him. AND he is proud of himself, which is also really, really good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Roadside Chat

This week on Monday, Little Ham refused to get out of the car to go to school. Like... refused. We were in the drop-off zone and he wouldn't budge. It was a new one for me, so I dug deep for a way to handle it. I said this foolishness: "If you won't go to school, then there must be a big problem so we are going to sit here in the driveway and talk about your feelings all day 'till we get to the bottom of it."

And so we sat. We watched all the other parents drop off their kids and saw the buses zoom by until we were all alone. And we sat some more. 45 minutes ticked by.

Finally Little Ham started talking. And talking. and talking. He emptied his poor heart to me, and I felt for the first time that we were connecting as parent and child. He said he is feeling overwhelmed by the new school, and that he is worried every minute of the day that Hamslice is stealing his Pokemon cards, and  and and...

So we devised a plan where we would get him a safe for his room with a combination that only he knows. I also promised to talk to the school administration RIGHT AWAY to make sure they are helping him. We also talked about locks for bedroom doors and other things we can do to solve some of these problems.

That very day Hambone went and bought safes for both kids. I marched right into the school as well and relayed this most urgent request.

The immediate action made an impression on Little Ham. And now he talks to me about lots of other things instead of just asking for hugs and kisses all the time. We are ... connecting.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Normal people advice

Hamslice asked a few weeks ago to see his old therapist -- said he had a things he wanted to talk with her about, so yesterday was his appointment. At the end, the therapist had us both sit together and talk about how things are going in our family.

Hamslice had ideas that he wanted to spend more time with Mom and less with Little Ham, and maybe some time with Dad too.

The therapist then started asking me "what hobbies and activities do you do together with your children" and for the life of me I couldn't think of a thing. The session then turned a little judgy and uncomfortable for me. Hamslice had several ideas of things we could do together, and I was thrilled to hear his thoughts.

Of course the first thing I did was come home and yell at Hambone "Why don't we do anything with our kids!" and his response was "like what."  And of course that didn't help. It just meant that he wouldn't have been helpful in the session either.

I've been rolling this over and over in my head, and I think it's like last year when the school administration told me to "stop helicopter parenting" and I was so overjoyed that they felt that *I* was the problem (and not Hamslice). Maybe this little judgement session was a sign that our family is finally ready to start having hobbies and living like a normal group of people.

If you think about it, we have not been able to do *any* family activities as of yet due to the behavior issues we have had before us. Anywhere we went was met with fury and tantrums from one or both boys. And Hamslice's refusal to enjoy any activity prior to Little Ham's arrival, well that has been lifelong.

So, now, are we free to try things? Actual activities? fun?

Sounds too good to be true, but I'm game.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

*not* an Olympian

This semester I have both kids enrolled in a program called "Kids with Goals," which provides fitness training and overall life lessons. They both LOVE the program, and I am thankful for the very capable gym teacher who brought this program to life.

At any rate, on Tuesdays they do exercise in the gym. On Thursdays, the students AND THEIR PARENTS run on the NCR trail near the school. We are required to run for 40 minutes, which I would like to point out is a pretty big stretch for ol' Mom.

Little Ham is probably the fastest 9 year old runner I have ever seen, so he goes off with the older kids and runs his heart out. Hamslice and I bring up the rear, because often Hamslice runs with one arm hanging limp, or with one of his feet turned completely sideways..."just because." 

I was doing my incredibly slow near-jog, when Hamslice looked at me with a completely serious face and said, "Mom, did you ever win the Olympics?"

"No, honey, I did not win any of the Olympics"

"But you were in them, right?"

I loved his precious serious face and serious questions. I am going to really miss this age when it's over.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Little Ham finds love

So Little Ham pulled me aside yesterday because he had something he really wanted to get off of his chest. He said, "There's this girl in class who I really like, and today she said she likes me too."

I smiled at being let into the inner circle.

He went on to say "It feels really weird."

It's a big step, Little Ham. Relax and go slow. Don't forget to breathe.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Moving through the hump.

Little Ham continues to struggle with the mind blowing concept that he is not leaving here. He is so ingrained in the routine of "6 months here, 6 months there, 6 months somewhere else" that he has packed his emotional bags two or three times in the last couple of weeks. He describes the feeling as being 'Way high up on the mountain where no one can reach me.' And from down here on the ground, it looks like he disappears into his head and there's nothing left behind for us. His eyes grow black and hollow. There is no meaningful conversation. Arms are crossed.

So, being the jackasses we are, we continue to talk to him while he's on the mountain. We ignore it entirely, and tell jokes to each other and sing songs and have a nice family right in front of him. This makes him storm off in a huff. 10 minutes later he returns, a little further down the mountain.

We go up and down the mountain about once a week, more so this week because he had a pretty bad head cold.  I am not sure if this will be better or worse after the adoption is finalized. This can't be fun for him.

In other news, Hamslice is back to his old tricks of making enemies of all the teachers at school. He is back to refusing to write ANYTHING AT ALL. He will give all answers orally, but if he is given a pencil and a blank piece of paper, well you can expect a tantrum but not any writing.

So we had our 23,645,230th parent teacher conference last week with the big support group that includes therapists and a note taker.

The school had put him on a behavior mod program without telling me, and I was pretty mad. The behavior mod had 6 aspects of behavior to achieve (which is too many) and they measured twice each day. If he passed all six aspects to their satisfaction, he would earn a reward. It had been running for 2 weeks, which means 20 evaluations. I asked how many of the evaluations he passed and they said ONE. So 19 times out of 20 he was told he was not good, and he had to see all that negativity written out in check boxes on a piece of paper.

They didn't like it when I said it that way. And I got them to admit that really all we need from Hamslice this year is for him to start writing, which would be a behavior mod program with only ONE check mark in it.


Come on Hamslice.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Committment Issues, a la Little Ham

The adoption looms large in our household, and has bifurcated the family. Hamslice is ready to send Little Ham away, Hambone and I are "all in" and ready to sign the papers tomorrow if we could get them. Little Ham's response is a little different.

We had a good conversation about it yesterday right before bed. (We are able to have real conversations now without dissolving into screaming) He asked if he would be able to sleep in bed with Hambone and I after the adoption is final. I said, "no, probably not, but you don't have to worry about the adoption anymore, we have already decided we want you to stay."

He said, "Well what if I don't decide to stay."

I said, "You can say whatever you feel to the social worker and she will make a decision accordingly."

He said, "I wonder if she could show me some pictures of other families. I don't want to meet them and do Skype calls and all that, but I would like to see what my options are."

I said, "We could probably do that. BUT, if you get to look at other families, then we should probably look at some other kids, just to see what OUR options are."

Little Ham immediately closed the discussion, because he does NOT want us looking at other kids. He needs to have these really "on the line" discussions, and when he hears that we're open to his ideas, then he starts to hear how it sounds to say it out loud and he changes his mind. But I think talking through it is better than me closing down the discussion right away.

The social worker comes next Thursday. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hamslice Movie Creator

This past week, Hamslice and Little Ham were at Club Scientific. Hamslice did a creative camp, which I was pretty sure he'd hate, but it turns out he kind of liked it.

It was a stop-motion (used to be called claymation) class and he made this movie, which is pretty neat (as his Mother, I think it's Oscar worthy!) 

NOTE: There is a false ending where it says "I Hope You Enjoyed It." This runs for about a minute and then there's more.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Two steps forward...

We were successful in postponing the forensic interview -- Little Ham is not in the mood to talk to anyone besides "normal people" which means he blew off his interview with our social worker, refused to talk to his therapist, and so on. He seems to have decided he is cured all by himself.

Of course, he isn't.

We are beginning to spot mis-wired neural pathways from his troubled past such as:
  • Trust -- he has no idea how this works
  • How to disagree in a constructive way -- right now it devolves immediately to screaming
  • How to be friends with family -- it's a constant struggle for power, as if that is all there is to being in a family.

 It will be a long time before he realizes that there's no "winning" at family, you just get to be together. The constant struggle for victory is very draining on the rest of us. Some of it is age -- we see this from Hamslice, however Little Ham has an extra dose of it.

I have learned though, that the key is "small doses of Mom." If I decide to spend a super fun all day interactive day with these boys, they resent it almost as soon as I begin. Their day is spent finding fault with everything I do, and blaming me for all things in the universe.

Days work better with Mom at the computer, checking in with the boys from time to time, and the boys do their thing. It's an adjustment, but I am also realizing it's the key to a little freedom for me as well. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

3 month check in Part 2

We have made a lot of progress since our last post.

Today, Little Ham got new glasses (the prescription he had from Colorado was WAAY out of wack). All of the reading avoidance and issues with him rubbing his eyes and having red eyes seems to be cleared up in one easy step.

We also had a therapy appointment, where the therapist said she sees clear attachment with Little Ham and our family, and she sees no signs of RAD anymore. While he is still traumatized, which will take a long time to heal, he definitely considers us his family and wants to be with us.

 We have also learned that the medication Little Ham came here with is not prescribed at a useful dose level, so we have the option of stopping medication if we choose to do so -- it isn't doing anything now, and we would have to really mega dose to have an effect. We have some thinking to do.

The tantrums and running away and door slamming and breaking stuff seems to have subsided for the time being. The therapist thinks this may have been is 'ultimate test' to see if he can make us get rid of him. Because we didn't crack, he is relaxing into the family. (maybe.)

Meanwhile Hamslice has learned so many social skills that he is actually surviving and (dare I say thriving?) at camp Puh'Tok and he wants to invite people for his birthday party. I am still breathless at the news.

The two boys have also become relentless Pokeman players, and they know all the cards and levels and attacks and... whatever else Pokeman do. It's really interesting to see them working together on the game.

Friday, July 01, 2016

3 month update - The Face of Fury

We have learned of new abuse in Little Ham's past, so now we are working with Gilpin County to make sure the documentation is all there. We have had calls with the sheriffs office and will talk with Little Ham's lawyer next week. This poor dude, what *hasn't* happened to him.

As far as the family goes, we have developed a kind of gallows humor that takes us through Little Ham's many tantrums. My suspicion is that he has been treated as "uncontrollable" and has managed to escalate his tantrums to whatever level is needed to get what he wants.

Sound familiar?

So he is not sure what to do with a family that does not respond to tantrums of any scale. Lately, he has gone to such lengths as 'running away' where he stands in the yard and waits for us to chase him. And we don't. So then it's this eerie scene where we are all sitting inside, and then this face appears in the window. The face of fury. And he bangs on the doors/windows to get us to chase him. Which we don't.

Eventually he comes in when the tantrum is over and sits next to us like nothing has happened. Except he is very sleepy. These tantrums exhaust him, so he generally takes a cat nap within a few minutes of calming down.

While the tantrum is happening, Hamslice, Hambone and I sit still and talk about our day, with only a few references to the fury happening in or outside the house. Basically we just wait until it's over and then we can go back to our day together. After bedtime though, sometimes Hambone and I do imitate the scenes a little, because it is hilarious and we need to blow off steam.

The tantrums are beginning to subside, due to lack of effectiveness. On the flip side, when Little Ham does something well, he gets good rewards. He is realizing that one way of behaving works much better than the others. But I think he is also really attached to the tantrums, and needs them every so often.

So we aren't sure this will ever really end, but we are enjoying the times in between.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Flipping the switch

This weekend, Little Ham flipped the switch and started calling us "Mom and Dad". Or... if he wants candy, "Mommy and Daddy".

2 months to the day since his arrival.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Attitude in the Classroom, anyone?

Hamslice's last day of school is today, and while he is regarded as one of the smartest kids in the class, his current report card shows Ds and Fs.

Why is that, you ask?

Darling Hamslice has decided to take charge of his own education, which means he's learning all the concepts quickly. However, during test taking, he gets a bit of an attitude. His thinking is this, "If I have demonstrated that I understand the concepts on page one of the test, I should not have to keep repeating myself on the other pages."

Therefore, he TEARS OUT the pages that he feels are repetitive and throws them in the trash. So while his peers turn in a 7 page test, he turns in only 3 pages. Of course, all 3 pages demonstrate a different skill, and all skills are represented, yet he fails the test.

It's really hard to be mad at him about this, because it feels like genius to me. Of COURSE you wouldn't waste your time repeating yourself. I get it hon. If I had it to do over again I'd be right there with you.

2 months and all is well

Tomorrow marks our 2 month anniversary of being a foursome. We have definitely had our ups and downs, but are figuring out some of the causes of behaviors. For Little Ham, the issue is that he has shame about his many family losses, choosing to blame himself for all of it. He talks about being a bad baby, and being a bad kid often when he is really upset. This means any discipline that we impose reinforces his 'bad kid' idea, and makes things way more intense.

We've found that if we warn that 'a consequence' will happen if a behavior continues, the behavior stops immediately. His goal is to be not only a good kid, but a 'perfect kid'. This in and of itself may cause problems along the way, but at least we know what he wants more than anything else. If we show the good kid path, he is likely to follow.

Hang in there Little Ham, we're catching on...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

And the Truth Comes Out... A memoir from Hamslice

Today Hamslice and I had the newly-rare experience of riding together in the car... just the two of us. And since we have been busy with Little Ham, I wanted to check in, so I asked Hamslice if he noticed anything different about me and Hambone now that we're not all up in his grill all the time.

He said, "I noticed you're a lot nicer now that I'm not spending 100% of my time trying to get revenge on you." And I busted out laughing. It was a huge belly laugh of acknowledgement and relief.

Earlier conversation had included a litany of things Hamslice dislikes about Little Ham, but after this revelation, we both agreed that we have a lot to be thankful about. Little Ham nudged our family dynamic in this very positive new direction and it has improved parental relations quite a bit with Hamslice.

Hamslice then detailed his revenge plotting, his timing and schemes against me all these years. "I know just how to push your buttons, Mom," he said.

Ahh Hamslice.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Achieving Status Quo

The 18th marks one month of our new family dynamic, and I believe we're going to do just fine. Little Ham and I have been working through control issues and how to handle shut downs, with some good progress.

And this morning we talked about how hard Mother's Day was last week. I asked him if he was struggling with it and he said, "yeah."  I said it was a lot of pressure to put on someone who just arrived in a new home a week ago. He seemed to appreciate the fact that I noticed, and I told him how brave he was to put together cards and make his way through the holiday anyway.

Hamslice has been an absolute trooper through this process as well. He went from being 'in love' on day 1 to 'in hate' on day 3 to starting to figure it out this week. 

In the mornings they like to go outside to pick up sticks and rocks as a way to earn some spending money. They have realized that teamwork is the way to greater profitability, and they are starting to communicate with a greater goal in mind. This is fixing many issues between the two of them, and it provides a way to soothe their constant competition for parental attention.

It feels like we're starting to become a family. =)

Friday, May 06, 2016

And then there's this. (handkerchief please)

This weekend is Mother's Day, and I was not sure what to expect from Little Ham. Hamslice got the flu so I know there is no card coming home from school from him.

Little Ham... Well... see for yourself. *sniff*

Love that guy...

Cookies, redux

Yesterday Little Ham and I did some good healing work together. Our work was in the morning, and after school he asked for two of my cookies, he ate them AND said they were good.


Thursday, May 05, 2016

An illustration, using cookies.

I've been getting some questions about what it looks like to take someone you don't know into your home and pretend to be a family after one fateful Monday night. Instead of trying to *actually* explain it, I'll tell you about making cookies.

On Saturday, I decided to make homemade cookies as a treat for my boys. Little Ham is very excited about cooking and wanted to help, so of course I let him. However, cookie baking is a pretty loaded subject for someone who has been through 6 homes. Apparently every single new mom he's had (including his biological grandma) made cookies together with him as an ice breaker.

While we were mixing ingredients, a lot of stories came out about who would let him snoop what during the process. Grandma let him eat butter and chocolate chips. Mom L let him have some of the batter, and so on. I made him wait to snoop until we were at the very last step before baking, which was not very popular -- someone was pretty sure he wanted to eat a whole stick of butter.

At the final taste/snoop time, Little Ham took a bite of dough and said "This tastes TERRIBLE" and spit it out. He then told me how much Mom L's cookies were better than mine.

I baked the cookies without his assistance, because he then wanted to leave to go play with Hamslice.

After the cookies were baked, he tried one and again insisted they were terrible and he couldn't even finish one.

The next day he forgot that they were my cookies, and he ate one and asked for another. I smiled hugely, and he then changed his mind and reminded me that the cookies are gross.

The next day, he took one store bought cookie in his lunch *and* one of mine, but I pretended to not notice. When I asked about the cookie later he insisted that he threw it in the trash.

When I brought this up in therapy, Little Ham told the therapist that Mom L's cookies were "Magical."

And so this is what it's like to have a new kid in your house who has a whole life they've already lived without you. It will take time and a lot of love, but I still believe that maybe in a year or two, he'll eat my cookies. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A note about honeymooning

Much like being married, I don't know that there's a specific second when you know the honeymoon is over, it just sort of "occurs."

These last few days we have been tested by Little Ham, and to our credit, he's using his best material. However, he doesn't have any idea who he's dealing with here. Our ability to deflect meltdowns and oppositional behavior borders on professional level. He keeps trying to control us, but that just doesn't seem to work either.

It seems that we get long spurts of good behavior, peppered with humongous meltdowns.

Sound familiar?

We are also learning about tag teaming, where sometimes either Hambone or I will be at loggerheads with Little Ham, so the other takes over for the evening. That seems to diffuse further bad behavior, and gives both parent and child a chance to reset.

We had a tough Thursday last week and a tough Monday this week, but in between we have a lot of laughter and hugs and smiles. We are still enjoying ourselves very much.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Brotherly love?

Today was Little Ham's first day of school. Oh such anxiety! Both boys were up at 5am, but Little Ham spent most of his time grooming for school. 45 minutes of hair combing, and packing/repacking his lunch box made him pretty busy. He wore his backpack most of the morning in order to be ready to leave at any time.

Finally to calm him, we left for school 10 minutes early, which meant 20 minutes of just waiting for the doors to open. He is SO excited!

Some of you have been asking how the 'sibling stuff' is going, and I will say it's a huge change. Hamslice and Little Ham bounce back and forth from Best Buds to Mortal Enemies several times each day, which has me and Hambone a bit bewildered. Hambone says it's normal boy kid stuff, so I'm just taking it as it comes. I have been measuring the ME time VS the BB times, and we do have a positive swing on the BB time, so I feel like we'll get there. They're doing special little boy friendship moves like showing each other their "business" and telling secrets.

Little Ham referred to Hambone and I as "Mom and Dad" when talking to his therapist on Monday, and when talking to the people at school. At home it's still "Ms. T" and "Mr. T" although I did hear a "Dad Hambone" slip out yesterday.

Current favorite activity to do together (besides the trampoline) is fishing in the pond behind our house. It's a nice quiet thing to do where they can just "be" without too much talking.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Oh my Gosh"

Little Ham has been working hard to integrate into the family. I am deeply impressed with his courage and resilience as he tackles yet *another* family (we are his 4th) and does his best to learn the rules and be friendly.

Yesterday I heard him muttering under his breath "Oh my gosh" over and over, which was a phrase I hadn't heard yet. It sounded peculiar -- not like his other phraseology and his intonation was the not the same as when he says other phrases. I listened and listened, and then realized that he was imitating *Me*.

With all of the unusual behavior in our family, I have muttered the phrase "Oh my gosh" as a little coping mechanism when things are just super bizarre. I must have been muttering this over and over this week as we were working on our family integration. It was adorable to hear it coming from this little guy and I choose to believe means I'm "in there" somewhere in his schema.

Yesterday Hamslice had "club friendship" which is his social thinking therapy group. At the end of group, his facilitators were beaming -- they couldn't believe how good his behavior was and how "in tune" he was with his group mates.  This is what we were hoping for all this time.

Regarding "getting in there"  with Little Ham, we had a good sign last night when we were reading before bed. Usually Hamslice leans against my shoulder and Little Ham sits to the side. Yesterday, Little Ham asked to sit on my lap and he leaned against my arm and did a snuggle for one full book. By the second book he wanted to sit on the floor, but I'll take a whole book's worth. =)

This morning at breakfast Little Ham was talking about his name, and how he didn't like his given first name. We talked about how we get to change it officially in 6 months and he gets to be "first name that you like" + "Our last name"  and he his comment was, "Can we do it in one month?"

Honeymooning is great stuff. Hambone says "Wait till the honeymoon is over." He's probably right, however this part is pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Day 3 and All's Well

Little Ham has been doing well here so far -- three nights in a row with no nightmares and no waking in the middle of the night to play with toys. He and Hamslice are also figuring out how to talk to each other with meaning. They are starting to have shared experiences and there is finally enough content to talk about that the conversation isn't just about "what I know" Vs. "what you know."

Hambone and I are amazed at how joyful it is to listen to the kids talk to *each other* instead of constantly to us. We had an actual sidebar conversation at dinner last night while the kids had their own conversation and that was like a whole new world for us.

Their favorite activities are "car trading" where they line up all their matchbox cars and trade for features like speed, color and shape  and they are also riding bikes together a lot. We made up a new game yesterday with bounce discs to start building motor control/regulation in both of them and that went well. Oh and they are on the trampoline a lot too.

It is interesting to listen to Hamslice talk to Little Ham -- when he is using his 'best personality' he uses a lot of phrases that I say and redirects conversation like I do. I honestly was under the impression that he had no idea what I have ever said to him. It makes me feel all squishy inside.

Little Ham is very thoughtful, asking for ways to help with tasks that I'm working on, and opening/holding doors for everyone. He is working so hard right now to earn his place in this family, and I wish he knew that he doesn't need to earn his spot, that it has been here all along.

Anyway, all the experts say this is the Honeymoon phase and the real stuff is coming yet. I am not sure what the real stuff is going to be, or how bad, so I am documenting the good so we have a breadcrumb trail through whatever comes next. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Arrival

It took Little Ham and his social worker quite a while to navigate the airport and make their way to the house. They arrived at 2:30 am and I was up to greet them.

Little Ham's first thought was to give gifts to our family -- 1/2 bag of pistachios and 6 pieces of gum (two pieces for each of us, he figured). He then offered to sell all of his toys in a garage sale tomorrow to help raise money for our home.

We went upstairs right away for bed time. We read two books, Fly Guy and The Way I Feel and then I asked him if he was Mad/Sad/happy/Scared and he said he was happy. He fell right asleep and made it through the night with no nightmares and no incidents.

Off to a good start!

Midnight Delivery - the Ham Red Eye

Our new little ham's plane touches down at BWI in about 20 minutes. It's midnight, and I am the designated "waiter upper" for his arrival. And I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

He was supposed to arrive yesterday, but there was a massive blizzard in Colorado (on April 17!!) that cancelled every flight out of Denver until about 10 this morning. He and his social worker were lucky enough to get on a late night flight for tonight, so here we go!

He will get to the house around 1:30 AM and I get to put him to bed in his own room for the first time in our house. It's a big day...

Safe travels, little man. Your new Mom is waiting for you.

Friday, April 08, 2016

And we have a New Ham to talk about

This morning we received confirmation that our little guy from Colorado is coming to visit on April 16 and that this visit (if it goes well) will morph into PLACEMENT automatically. So for those of you not "in the system," this means he has a 3 day visit but then does not go back to Colorado. He will stay with us for a month test, then contiguously for six months of foster placement and then into a permanent adoptive placement.

It's here! We get to be with our new son!

I am brimming with excitement, but of course it is only 6am so I have to wait until everyone else gets up to share the news. So I write it here!  17 months of planning and hoping and now it's happening!!!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Shocking innocence

Tonight at dinner we were reminiscing about how Hamslice used to eat squid when he was two years old. We showed him how he would have the tentacles from the squid hanging out of his mouth and he would laugh and chomp it down.

Hamslice's comment back was, "Yeah, and then I had sperm breath."

To which Hambone and I did our best to keep a neutral expression, and we asked simply "How so?"

And he very eloquently described how Sperm whales eat squid, therefore if you eat squid you will have the same breath as a Sperm whale. And while we were so relieved to hear this explanation, we know it's going to come up in conversation among adults for years to come.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It's Definitely a Control Thing

The battle for daily control wages on. Now we're into full on ridiculous territory, and I love it. This is such a normal kid situation and I've been prepping for years for it to come. These days the battle is about outer wear. SOMEONE won't wear a jacket, or boots or gloves or a hat.

During the Blizzard of 2016, Hamslice wouldn't even consider wearing a jacket. He played in the snow with Crocks and no mittens. And then of course he got sick.

I've resorted to refusing to drive the car until he gets a jacket on, just to show who is in charge. My secret delight is to have him in the back seat, ready for school (but missing his coat). I get to pull halfway out of the garage and then *discover* his missing coat, and then refuse to drive anymore until he goes inside to get a coat.

Day 1 I read an entire magazine. Day 2, I got 5 pages of Rocks & Minerals under my belt before he caved. Each episode takes less time.


mwha ha ha.

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's a Control Thing, or is he a Junkie?

With all the snow days (hello two more this week) we have been a little more lax with our tablet and computer gaming policies. Seriously, we can only play SO MANY board games in a week before we can't stand any more.

And we have noticed there is *something* about the video games that act like THC or heroin or something in our little guy's brain, because he can't stop playing. Furthermore, his life seems to revolve around playing to the point where he tries to manipulate other areas of his life to get more game time. Consider this conversation:
"Mom, can I play tablet?"

"Not right now"
"Can I play Legos?"


"How long will I need to play Legos in order to earn tablet time?"

"It doesn't work that way"

"What do I have to build then, in order to earn tablet time?"
If I wanted to keep going with this conversation I could fill entire days with banal discussion about *any other* activity may be parlayed into earning tablet time. For instance, "If I eat 5 brussels sprouts, can I get 10 minutes of tablet time?"

We have even made him run on the treadmill for tablet time, which he will do for 90  minutes in a stretch just to get 30 minutes of tablet time.

The only other place I've seen this single minded drive has been with drug addicted adults and teens. This kid has dedicated his life to scoring time on the tablet, and then when he DOES get the tablet, he plays the most mindless games. Stuff without a plot, and just explosion after explosion. He drifts off to a place I don't understand.

I am so not an 8 year old boy.

I've been trying to figure out if it's a control issue outside of the game, like maybe he feels he is manipulating adults by scoring tablet time, because he knows we don't like him to use it. Once I explained to him that tablet time is at my sole discretion and that he can't "make" me give it to him, he calmed down a bit.

But um... so far 34 requests for tablet already today and it's 1pm.


Monday, February 01, 2016


Last week was the Blizzard of 2016. We received nearly 3 feet of snow, and we have been digging out for days.

Today is the first time in 11 days that Hamslice is back in school. He had off starting the Friday prior to the storm, and then all of last week. By Thursday afternoon he looked at me and declared, "Mom I don't know how much more of this I can take!"

However, this snow storm gave him the opportunity to shovel, build snowmen and sled a little bit. This is all pretty exciting stuff for a little guy. He was pretty sure he would hate sledding until he actually tried it.

I suspect that he was doing most outdoor activities solely to get some hot chocolate afterward, but that's OK by me.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Colorado Update

So we spent two months exactly in the vortex of emotions that follows when there is no communication about someone you care deeply about. Yesterday we finally heard back.

It turns out that our little guy had been given to another family and our adoption was "off" for this lengthy period. No one told us about this decision. Over the course of these two months, THAT family disappeared somehow and now we are back "on".

We are at a disadvantage because the whole group really wants to adopt him into a Colorado family. The distance has been an issue from the get-go.

This is all very confusing for us, and hits the extremes "up and down," but we persevere. Please keep us in your thoughts...