Thursday, September 17, 2015

What are you going to name your child?

“Do you have names picked out?”  This is a question parents-to-be are often asked by family and friends.  When you are adopting a child, you may or may not have the opportunity to name your child.  It depends on the circumstances and age of the child.

We have adopted two children.  Our youngest was our first child, and he has been with us since birth.  Our oldest who was our second child was adopted from Bulgaria, and we were given the opportunity to change his name.

Would you like to give me another name?
J has been with us since birth, and we were able to name him; however, all of the ultrasounds showed that he was a she.  My husband and I had decided on a girl's name.  You can already guess what happened.

As the due date approached, I made my husband play the "What if?" game with me.  This after a co-worker at my school told me that his 5 boys were all supposed to be girls.  My husband was adamant that there was no reason for that since the baby was going to be a girl.  The day before the baby was born I finally got him to engage in a discussion in which we decided on a boy's name "just in case" (insert laughter here).

While we were waiting at the hospital for our child to be born, one of the German nurses asked us for the name so she could get some of the paperwork started.  We told her what our daughter's name was going to be.  

After the baby’s birth, we were able to go into the room where the nurses were going to clean the baby up.  Imagine our surprise when we opened the blanket with our bundle of joy and found that she was a he!  There was a lot of whispering back and forth between me and my husband. One of the nurses asked us if there was a problem.  “No problem.  Just a surprise.”  

The first nurse came back to us a few minutes later and asked, "Would you like to give me a different name?"  In case you were wondering, we did.

Do we change the name of a child who already knows his name?
We had a struggle with whether or not to change S's name.  He was 3 at the time we started the adoption process, and he came home when he was 4.  We knew that he was old enough to know his name.  We decided to keep that one thing as a constant in his life since we were changing everything else that he knew.  We decided that we could use the American name "Seth" as a nickname.

When we went to Bulgaria for our initial visit when S was 3, we heard the nickname the caretakers called him and loved it!  He does not go by the nickname Seth.  We retained his birth name and use the nickname his caregivers used which is just a shortened version of his full name.  He has a Bulgarian name/nickname which is very unique here in the United States.  We call him the "one name wonder".  

I will be on the couch with chocolate enjoying my family and our stories.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What are you going to do with all of your new free time?

When I was homeschooling S, I was once asked by a family member, “What do you do all day?” The whole exchange was blog worthy.  In fact, it was my first blog post and explains the name of my blog.

Now that S has graduated from high school I am often asked, “What are you going to do with all of your new free time?”  It is a valid question.  At a minimum, it implies I was doing something.  I homeschooled S for 7 years, so it would seem reasonable that I would have free time now that I don’t have that responsibility.  

Along with S graduating and relieving me of my teaching, J received his driver’s license this summer.  All of the hours and miles we have spent driving him to/from gymnastics practice are behind us.  He can now drive himself; however, we drive on Tuesdays to help out a friend whose young son wouldn’t be able to get to practice otherwise.  

What are you going to do?
I have been asked if I am going to get a job.  I have been asked if I am going to go back to school to pursue further education.  I was a teacher in my life before we had kids.  I have been asked if I am going to interpret again.

My answer was and continues to be, “I don’t know.  I will wait to see how everything plays out.”  I have looked at various options and different opportunities for myself.

In April, I wrote a blog post about Transitioning Mom.  I wasn’t too far off in my thoughts at that time.

Here’s the reality of my new free time
S does not drive.  He commutes to campus 4 days/week.  We are out of zone for bus service for him.  You see where this is going….

Four days a week,  I am driving him to/from campus.  His schedule changes day by day depending if he has tutoring or is meeting with his professors or needs time in the library.  One day one of his classes met in a campus building that was far enough from the main campus that I had to go pick S up to take him to that building for a 50 minute class.  Just enough time to run to Starbucks and come back to wait.

Yesterday I logged 124 miles taking S to an appointment, driving to/from campus, taking J to/from practice, and I squeezed back to school night in there.  Did I forget to mention that my husband is traveling for work this week?

my new free time is kind of nonexistent.  It is different.  My responsibilities have shifted.  It is a new season of life.  

I will enjoy where I am at in my life while I am on the couch with chocolate!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Did you ever think....?

“Did you ever think when you brought me home from Bulgaria that one day you would be driving me to college?”

This is the question my son asked me the other morning on our drive to campus. Hmmm…..It is a valid question.  Fourteen years ago S came home from Bulgaria.  At the time, we knew he had Cerebral Palsy.  He has since added the labels ADD and Low Vision to his medical resume.  

What were our expectations of the 4 year old who came into our lives?  Was it college?  I don’t know that college was the expectation; however, we did think of it as a possibility.  It’s hard to gauge what any 4 year old is going to do in 14 years, especially one who speaks a different language than everyone else in the family.

We just knew that we wanted every possible opportunity made available to him, so he would be prepared for whatever path he desired - college, technical education, work, etc.  In order for college to be a possibility, he needed to be pushed academically.

We have been blessed along his educational journey with mostly positive experiences and some negative experiences.  All of them have provided us with learning opportunities.  What works for S and what doesn’t work.  What are his abilities?  What are his strengths?  What are his weaknesses?

Attending college was the option he picked.  Not only is he attending, he is doing well.  He has learned a lot about himself in the 4 weeks he has been attending class.  We are seeing him take ownership of his learning (hallelujah!).  He is self-advocating.  He is meeting with his professors and creating personal relationships with them.  He asks for help when he needs it.

The answer to his question would be, “We just wanted you to do what you wanted to be happy.” 

The better question would probably have been, “Can you believe you are the parents of a college student?”  

I will be on the couch with chocolate trying to figure out how my kids are getting older while I am not.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I thought you were exaggerating.

My son who started college 3 weeks ago is feeling overwhelmed as he creates his “to-do” lists for his classes.  This is what we hear during and after the list making process:

How am I supposed to get all of this done?”
“I have a project and my homework to complete for Statistics!”
“I need to read, take notes, and write an essay.”
“When am I supposed to _____?

My son was homeschooled for 7 years throughout middle and high school.  We knew he planned on going to college.  We prepped him for it.  We made sure he had the classes he would need. We worked REALLY hard to get him to practice and utilize good study habits. 

The challenge my son has in implementing good study habits (setting a schedule, organizing himself, time management, etc) is that he has ADD so these are not traits that come easily to him.  

Every year, every day, we have talked through strategies that might be helpful to him.  We have read information.  We have shared information.  We have asked for input from him to try to figure out how to best help him help himself.  

We have used wall calendars.  We have used Google Calendar and the task list.  We have listed work on a white board in order of priority after talking through the process of prioritizing.  We have talked about reasonable time limits for work.

High School
As S made his way through high school, we continued to stress the importance of having a list, a plan, a schedule, etc. to get his work done in a timely fashion.  This would allow him to have free time which we all need.

As college became a reality, my husband and I told him that the work was going to be more difficult.  It was going to be faster. It was going to be a balance between the classes.  College professors aren’t overly concerned with the fact that you have a project, test, and paper due all the same week or day.

Now that my son is in college and can see all of his work up on his 4 month calendar, the reality of the pace and workload is upon him.  See the above quotes.

Yesterday, as we drove to campus, he was telling me AGAIN that the pace is just crazy.  

How are we supposed to learn that quickly?
You are in college.  This is how it is.  We have been telling you that for years.
I know, but I didn’t think you were telling me the truth.  I thought you were exaggerating to get my attention.
Nope.  Nothing but the facts.

I will be on the couch with chocolate, and I’m not exaggerating about that!