Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Passport photos

Readers who know me in real life already know that I will do almost anything to save twelve cents.  We make our own laundry soap, our own bread, and I'd be sewing/knitting our clothes if I wasn't, in addition to being thrifty, an extreme procrastinator (we'd end up naked, and with Wisconsin weather, that could be very bad).

One of the things I've been procrastinating on is getting a passport for T.  Now I'm down to the wire.  See, we filed for an extension on our taxes because I didn't have a SSN for T.  To get the SSN, it seems easiest to get the passport first.  Got that?  Passport, then SSN, then taxes.  Taxes are due October 15th.  Gulp.  Kyle, cover your eyes and don't read this:  I think we're going to have to just file without his SSN and file an amended return later.  My bad.

But in an effort to get the ball rolling the right direction, I finally looked up what we need to do to get T's passport.  To save exactly $7.84, we're using this website to make our own passport photos.  You upload a headshot with a white background, crop with their nifty help, and download the photos that are magically the right specifications and size.  We'll send this off to our local photo processor and get our passport photos for 15 cents.

The caveat was getting T to *stand still* for our little photo session.  I was all, "Hey T, look right at me, no - right. at. me.  Turn your head this way.  Wait, too far.  Look back *that* way.  Stop moving your arms.  Don't bite your lip.  Open your eyes.  Close your mouth.  Stand  up.  Don't lean forward.  Stand up straighter.  Not that straight.  I have to see both your ears.  Arms *down*."

I should have just told him: "Stop being two years old!!"
Poor guy.  Incredibly, I think we did get a shot that'll work, and Kyle reminded me this was preferable to having the whole scene play out *in public* at the grocery store with an 18 year old cashier holding an unfamiliar camera who might not have as much patience.

And also, T's passport will be actual proof that he's an American.  You never know when someone from Homeland Security will demand to see documentation at library storytime.  We can't be too careful.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I thought the horror stories would end once T was home

Playing at the park with T, minding my own business, a woman watching 2 grandkids sidles up to me and starts yaking at me. With no provocation, she proceeds to tell me:
  • The marital status of each of her kids, how many offspring each had, the childcare arrangements for each, where they currently (and previously) reside(d), which ones still visit and which ones she sees only on holidays.
  • The flaws of each of her grandchildren (she could have skipped that - the little girl who kept pushing T away from the swings and standing with her arms out to forbid him to use them? was bossy - got it).
  • She wanted to go sky diving with her son but he went without her after she tried to reschedule because she wasn't feeling well.
  • She's a blackbelt in Tae Kwan Do.
  • Her friends adopted 3 kids and the 2 boys were just perfect - so athletic and smart - but the girl - oh the girl was a disaster and had XYZ problems and ABC problems and she NMOed and then she PQRed and the police came and DEFed and now she's totally estranged from the family.
Uh, OK. Nice meeting you. I will be finding another park to play at now...backing away slowly...


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Adopt a critter?

Some people are strongly opposed to the use of the word "adopt" in sponsorship situations (adopt-a-highway, adopt-an-animal).  Here's one such argument, taken from an article I found online:
Think it through with me for a minute: we try so hard to reassure our adopted children that adoption is permanent and forever. Then we tell them we are adopting an animal, say a gorilla, at the local zoo. We send the zoo some money and go visit "our" animal, then go home. Perhaps we visit once or twice more that year. The next year our family gets together to decide how to spend the money we've set aside for donation to the community. This time we decide to let someone else sponsor the gorilla this year because we'd rather try a whale.
I can understand their argument, but usually, I shrug it off and have decided there are bigger things to worry about.  Would I prefer a "Help a Highway" sign along the road and a "Sponsor a Cheetah" program at the zoo?  Sure.  But I feel like I can't change society's use of the word adopt, so I'd rather focus my energy on helping T be comfortable with the word, and understand its different uses.

At a recent trip to our nearby zoo I was pleasantly surprised to see this display:

Their "Befriend-An-Animal" program uses no "adoption" language.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.  This was in Madison, after all, which is a particularly progressive city (76 square miles surrounded by reality).  It was nice nonetheless.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Will we ever shut up about that attachment stuff?

Probably not. This is our adoption-related blog. For fluffy family fun, visit here or here.

More thoughts on attachment, in two parts.

Part One: Grossness and TMI. You've been warned. But no pictures, thank God.

A few weeks ago, when we were newly home from camp and T was struggling more with attachment, he came down with an intestinal bug.

Oh, the agony. The pain. The loss of desire to use the toilet (alas, he'd only been potty trained for about one week). The zillions upon zillions of dirty diapers. The smells (T's). The exasperation (mine). The exhaustion (everyone's).

Day after day, for almost a week, was spent entirely changing diapers, comforting him, washing diapers, and keeping him hydrated. He was really fine except for his diarrhea. But he was spent and uncomfortable. It made him cling to me big time. I felt awful for him. I was helpless to do anything to cure him, so I just did my best to keep him snuggled and clean and full of liquids. This was not an earth shattering illness. His pediatrician didn't even want me to bring him in. But T has been so healthy since we got home - I think he's had one cold in the last 15 months - so it was really his first time being "sick" with us.

The amount he had to depend on me that week really affected T. Our routine-shattering, stranger-filled vacation had strained our bond, and I was still feeling that things were still not quite on even footing when he got sick. But T was feeling crummy enough to let me baby him a lot, which is what many attachment experts recommend to help foster a stronger bond. It's often when I feel like T's connection to us isn't so hot that babying him would be the hardest thing to do, because he's actively pushing us away. By the time T's stomach was improving, so was his attachment (until the hellacious diaper rash appeared, but that's another story). Now he and I are tight again, which, ironically (but logically, if you understand how attachment works) means he's much more confident about independently exploring his world. He seems more in control of himself and more in balance again. I'm not happy he was ill, but glad to see there was a silver lining to our challenging, unhappy week. We would have gotten back to this place eventually, but I'm grateful for the nudge.

Part Two: Mom vs. Dad, or, How the Economy Affects Attachment

I was laid off last week. I knew it was coming, and I'm seeing it as an opportunity to spend all day with T, possibly on a permanent basis (at least until he's in school, if this works out). The combination of working 2nd shift and watching T in the mornings was getting brutal on the sleep front. I'm happy for this chance and especially thrilled to see my husband more than on weekends (we worked opposite shifts to avoid needing outside childcare). But this is not about me.

Since I've been home (one whole week), T has spent much much much more time with only me than previously. He used to actually have more face time (by almost 3 hours) with Kyle on an average day. Kyle, coincidentally, just started a 2nd, part time job (it, also, began last week). (Of, felicitous fate, thank you for laying me off at the precise moment we would have started to need childcare!) Due to job #2, he's gone for some of the afternoon hours he used to spend alone with T.

In one week's time, we're seeing a pretty big slide in T's attachment with Kyle. I'm assuming Kyle (lovely, overworked, and currently sleeping Kyle) will not mind my sharing this publicly, but he's now so busy that he probably won't blog again until the semester is over, and in fact, may not even have time to read this. (Um, hi babe! Shouldn't you be working or something? =) ) T is starting to resist making eye contact with him, and is pulling stunts like trying to guess which parent would take him to the toilet before he'll answer if he needs to use it (if I'll take him, he'll go; if Kyle is taking him, he'll hold it). He insists, more than usual, on me holding him instead of Kyle, me doing the bedtime routine (which has always been Kyle's thing), me cleaning him up after meals, me reading him stories, and basically, just on me in general if we're both home. Much of T's insistence is in the form of crying and tantrums, which is painful for everyone.

I feel like this could be because he's milking my being home for all it's worth, or he's worried since his Dad is gone more than he used to be (or a combination of the two). But we're working hard to get T's bond with his dad stronger. We're sticking to the dad-son bedtime routine. Kyle still gives T all his showers. Kyle's doing some eye contact games with him. We're encouraging T to go to Kyle to be held and snuggled. I think we're also going to make a point to give T time with Kyle when I'm not an option. Either the boys or I need to leave the house for a few hours of alone time on the afternoons that Kyle is around, so that they can have fun without the stress of me being there for T to run to. This sort of bums me out because it was this extra family time I was looking forward to, but we'll still have lots of time together. I'm confident T will be begging to snuggle up to his Dad again soon.

The hard part is Kyle not taking it personally. I feel terrible for Kyle when T throws a fit about sitting on his lap after Kyle has been at work and missing him all day, while I'm equally frustrated because I could use a break myself after a day of critter wrangling. Stay tuned...