Cluck of the Week: All the reasons big and small

I can't count my blessings. They are numerous and multi-faceted, both obvious and obscure. Just when you think you know your blessings, something happens to make you realize many blessings are so profound, you don't even realize they're there. Counting seems an exercise in ego.

But I couldn't let the 'day of thanks' pass by without giving our flock a virtual squeeze. Our chicken flock, that is. This is our first year with chicken-children and I can tell that the past few months have definitely changed us.

Notice those combs. Maisy is standing straight and has
a small, pale pink comb. Lulu's is larger and flushing into
red. We've heard from a reliable source that with a red
comb comes eggs! Shouldn't be long now!

We are more connected to where our food comes from. We are more tuned into what makes a healthy chicken, a healthy egg, and a safe living environment. I've cried and laughed more over those birds than I could've imagined.

Case in point: Fancy, our most skittish and least-people-friendly girl, has become accustomed to getting kitchen snacks on the back deck. She waits on the picnic table for us to notice her. When that doesn't work, she bawks like a dang rooster. If we still don't move tail, she bangs on the glass.

It's like having a third child ... only this one will draw blood if the oatmeal in your palm runs low.

Yes, we are thankful. For all the reasons, both big and small.

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On blood

Laying across my son's bed with him beside of me. Both of us on our backs, fingers entwined, alone without any distractions. A quiet moment at the end of a tough conversation that I wasn't ready to have. That's when he whispered it.

Sometimes y'all don't feel like my blood.

It's a sharp punch right in the chest and I lose my breath for a moment. I realized I've been walking on eggshells for nearly 10 years. Not wanting him to feel different, not wanting him to feel less loved or less wanted, not wanting to show preference, never wanting him to be the outsider.

Every adoptive parent has to make a choice: either tell your child another woman gave birth to him or pretend otherwise. Both choices have their consequences.

I chose to never keep my son's birth a secret from him. The questions began a few years ago. Why am I your son if my Nahnee had me in her tummy? Why are they my brothers if they aren't your sons? Why did my Nahnee give me to you but keep my brothers?

The answers have been simple. Age appropriate. Teetering on the edge. There's a hidden question that he's groping for, that he'll find. Inevitably. With maturity comes the heartbreaking quest to pin it all down, to keep pushing into the dark, to know everything.

Soon enough, he'll uncover the answers and I'll tear at the decisions I can't take back. I kept no secrets, and so my child is always searching. The weight of it propels him forward and forces him to wonder: Am I one of them?

Is blood is irrelevant? Why am I here and not there. Who were they? Where do I fit? Why don't I fit there? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

There's an answer that involves loss and pain and sadness. There's another answer that involves hope and forgiveness and faith. And honesty.

He's slowly moving into the dark, reaching out for the variables that will lead him to himself. When he finds them, my affirmation will be: You belong right here with us. You are etched into our bones, and we have shaped you in ways DNA can't fathom. We aren't just your blood, we're your marrow.

The questions will get tougher, but my legacy will be honesty. Honesty and love. Pure and endless, transcending birth and blood. Love that soothes the scars that form.

Lying there together, fingers entwined, I said to him: We're greater than blood. We're family. I pray everyday that will be enough.

***November is National Adoption Month. If you're interested in adopting, I'd be
happy to answer any questions or share my experiences with private, kinship adoption.
Learn more about general adoption issues here

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Growing out of it

I haven't written here about Javi's attention and impulsivity issues in a while. For one, I have a dedicated outlet for those types of posts. But also? Things are getting so much better.

I've been told in the past that kids often "grow out of it" and I always rolled my eyes. My mother and father never grew out of ADHD. My sister hasn't grown out of it. As I simplify and try to redefine my life, I see how I've never grown out of it.

But what I'm learning is that maturity makes a huge difference. Add maturity to a host of other variables like a stable, organized home life; a consistent, reliable schedule; an experienced, proactive teacher; and a medication choice that works. I don't think "huge difference" states it strongly enough. Life altering success comes close.

Yes, things are so much better than they were. We haven't grown out of ADHD, though. It's still there. It still must be managed and planned for and adjusted to. Only now when it rears its head, I take time to laugh, see my role, spot what might have made things work out differently, involve him a strategy session, and then move on.

Every few days I get little visual reminders that none of this is natural for him. Calm and orderly and organized may never be labels that feel comfortable on his tall, skinny body. Take this for instance:

This is what I encountered when looking for a container for leftovers after dinner yesterday. Can you guess whose chore it is to put clean dishes away? Ah, yes. My child who has been identified as academically and intellectually gifted and does above-grade-level work and is the darling of his social circle. That's the one.

And after me coaching him through a re-do, we currently have this:

Such is our life. Such is his life. We both have to work at it, and over time that work will seem easier even if it never seems natural.

It could be so much worse.


Update: In response to laziness/disorganization/"he's a man!" -- the difference between the Mountain Man's sloppy disorganization and Javi's sloppy disorganization is that the MM (and probably you, too) is capable of organizing a cabinet. For most, it's a matter of motivation and caring enough to do it.

In Javi's case, he will work with those containers all night and still be unable to organize them. I should take pictures of his multiple attempts. He has to be taught organization and then have the lesson hammered home to him again and again. No amount of motivation or desire to succeed (or just be done with it already) will change how he processes the job of putting the containers away.

He also struggles with stacking cups and completing puzzles. It's a processing thing that requires strategies. For the containers, I've taught him to find the biggest item first and put it next to the next-biggest item. He makes a line of descending order and then starts with the smallest thing and moves backward. The different shapes threw him off. Now he has learned to separate the shapes and then start the process.

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On friendship

A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails. ~Anonymous

I have several close friends, but none knew me when I was a pudgy, inquisitive toddler who loved playing dress up and wearing lipstick and carrying pocketbooks. Despite growing up in a neighborhood full of single mothers and more children than one could count, I'm not friends with any of those kids anymore.

Seeing my children making memories with other littles makes me both yearn for a lifelong friendship of my own and dedicate myself to maintaining and encouraging the friendships they make. I hope they look back 30 years from now and sigh with the contentment and gratitude of knowing that this person beside them knows exactly who they are and where they came from.

I am thankful for the friends I have now and those who've graced me with their hearts along the way. Friendship is a beautiful gift that I haven't always treasured. Lesson learned.

***This post is part of Wordish Wednesdays and Wordful Wednesdays.***

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Return of The Nutcracker

If you've been around these parts for a while you already know that my girl is a serious fan of The Nutcracker, thanks to the unlikeliest of sources.

We spent the last holiday season watching the movie, play acting the details, scouting out Nutcracker ornaments, and dreaming of a day when we'd see The Nutcracker onstage.

Guess what? Yesterday, my little girl and her friend behaved like the most mature of three year olds as we watched a live performance The Nutcracker Ballet

Everything was lined up for a meltdown: the production was in the afternoon so there was no nap, we were right on time -- meaning we were late -- and had to sit on the front row, the Mouse King only appeared for half a minute (he's her favorite, you know), and people clapped throughout (not at the end ... so Bella was worried the entire time that it was over already).

But she didn't just make it through. She enjoyed it. She clapped and stared and danced in the aisles. She whispered, "She's beautiful!" and "That's amazing!" as she watched, eyes never leaving the stage.

Who would've thought that a $5 Barbie movie bought on a whim by a cringing parent would lead to such a magical afternoon? Welcome to the first year of our first mother-daughter tradition!

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QOTD: Tacos

I'm drowning in work: deadlines for the paid stuff, fielding calls for the city's holiday parade (that I wound up managing), kids home from school, dogs stalking the chickens .... and the list goes on. I'm barely surviving. Enter my children.


Me (to my sister while wading through work crap and spotting the term): Hey, Ash. How would you like to have a hypersensitive clitoris?
Bella: I'm having tacos!
*silence and giggling*
Bella: What? I am having tacos. I don't want no yeeforish.


Javi: Mama, how many syllables are in happiness?
Me: How many do you think?
Javi: 3?
Me: That's correct.
Javi: Dad marked it wrong.
Me: Let me see what you have.
(visual: ha-ppi-ness)
Me: That's not how you break it up. Which sounds right: happ-i-ness or ha-pi-ness?
*everyone begins laughing uncontrollably*

I totally needed that.

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Cluck of the Week: Healthy Breakfast

I looked over the other day and realized our baby chicks are as big (or bigger) than the big mama chicken we brought in to "guide" them in the ways of chickenhood.

Like, how chickens should eat anything. Lulu and Maisy were picky eaters who only wanted feed, grasshoppers, or worms. But then Here's Your One Chance Fancy Don't Let Me Down taught them to eat what's in front of them. Hence them eating a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and diced apples this morning. They still won't eat bread, but bread is nowhere as good for them as oatmeal and apples so I'm not complaining.

However, despite looking massive, these big ol' chickens still aren't laying any eggs. Javi came in from checking the nests this afternoon and had two eggs. We had a mini-celebration until he remembered that he didn't check the nests yesterday.

Yeah. Celebration over and dessert revoked for the kid who skipped his chore yesterday. Another week in chicken rearing.

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