Tuesday, December 22, 2015

May the Force Be With You

Don't worry - no spoilers.

My cute hubby and I haven't been on a movie date for years, but we were all-in for Star Wars.  No, we didn't go opening night because of, you know, kids and responsibilities and stuff.  But did go.  And it was awesome.

Yup, this is how we looked going to the movies.  Minus the nerf gun.  I have a feeling some of the effect was lost when we put on the 3D glasses.

I admit to trying to temper my enthusiasm.   I intentionally didn't watch any trailers or try to find out anything about the movie ahead of time, which was no easy task.  The bitter disappointment of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull was still a little too fresh in my mind.  But this movie delivered. 

Now I just have to count down the days till the next installment comes out...

Have a great Christmas, and May the Force be With You.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

DTC - Happy Thanksgiving to Us!

What, you may be asking, is DTC, and why does a turkey want it?  Well, Dear Readers, the turkey drawings is just symbolic of Thanksgiving, it doesn't have the prefontal cortex capacity to appreciate the joys of the letters DTC.  Silly Reader.

But, DTC is very, very real.  Dossier to China (DTC) is the adoption milestone where all the paperwork generated, gathered, authenticated,  reviewed, and approved is sent to China.  This packet of information includes our home study, our I800a (one US gov. approval), recently issued birth certificates and marriage certificates (because they expire), medical forms, employment letters, reference letters, financial documents, etc.

All these documents had to be official copies.  They had to be notarized.  They needed a State Authentication saying that the notary was valid.  Then the Chinese Consulate put their own official seal on it saying that the State Authentication was valid.  Don't worry.  All those steps help to keep many people employed.  All those authentications to make sure we weren't falsifying documents also cost us hundreds and hundreds of dollars. 

In this packet is also a letter where we formally ask China if we can pretty, pretty please adopt the child we have already been matched with, waiting for us in China.  Yes, they gave us pre-approval, when we sent them a letter back in June asking them if we could adopt this same child, but now we are waiting on the super-duper official approval called LOA (Letter of Acceptance) given by China saying that they really do mean it.  We can adopt him.  Then there will be various letters sent back and forth among the US Consulate, US Immigration, Chinese government, adoption agency and us acknowledging and approving everyone else's approval.

All this will take several more months and we are hoping to travel to complete the adoption around April. 

If there are so many more steps involved and so many more months of waiting, why is this step a big deal?  At this point, there is nothing I can do to hurry up the process.  I have no more documents to but people about.  I don't have to worry about the Consulate not accepting a document because somebody's signature got smudged, or there was a typo, or someone accidentally forgot to fill in a random space on a random form. 

Now we just wait.  And wait.  And wait for the next approval. 

But I am so thankful for the opportunity to wait for our sweet boy.  I am so thankful for everyone who has helped us get to this point in the process.  I am thankful that I see the light at the end of the tunnel - when our new son joins our family.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I Can't Stare at my Daughter Anymore

My oldest daughter, Bridget, is leaving for a school field trip today.  She'll be gone three nights.  No, it is not the first time she has been gone for this long, but I always feel a bit melancholy before any of my kids leave for a few days.

So, before she left, I stared at her.  You know the kind of stare - where you try to soak up every feature an really notice how much your child has been changing and maturing when you weren't paying attention.

"Mom, you're creepy.  Why are you staring at me like that?"  Was the response I got.

I realize now that she is 13,  I can't openly stare at my daughter any more.

Young children want you to stare at them.  They delight in it.  Grade school kids might get a little self conscious, but are otherwise okay with the attention.  Teenagers are a whole different story.

Bridget - the girl I can't stare at anymore.

So now I have to stare in stealth mode.  Like a ninja.  I have to catch moments when she is focused on homework and take in the angle of how she rests her head on her hand.  I have to watch out the window as she plays with the neighbors to stare at her unguarded smiles.  I look at her during sporting events to see how her body has grown strong and agile, running on the field.

This is my daughter's last year of middle school.  Next year high school starts.  Then college, where I won't be able to stare at her much at all.  So yeah.  I am going to stare at my child as much as I can till then.  In as non-creepy way as possible.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Grand Gun Control Experiment

I don't normally get political on this blog.  I tend to write about what I know - laundry, adoption, and 15 passenger vans.

But as a mother, I am done.  I am just done hearing about how other mothers have to bury their children from another mass shooting.  I am done imagining the families of the 30,000 people killed with guns every single year.  I am just done with the whole thing.

I am also sick of any mention of gun control assumes an automatic infringement of 2nd Amendment Rights.  Basic gun control does not mean that someone will take away all your guns.  I can't even imagine that would be possible considering we have 88 guns for every 100 people in the country.  We have more guns per capita than any other nation.  (Please insert "We're Number One" chant here)

Gun control does not mean that we are suddenly a dictatorship like those fascist countries of England, Australia,  Canada, Japan, South Korea...and nearly every other First World country with stricter gun laws than the US.

Common-sense gun control just means that the country takes into account the rights of all its citizens - both the undeniable right to own guns and the undeniable right to not get shot with guns.

I have no problem with people having guns for protection in their home.  I think it is hunky-dory for people to go to gun ranges for fun.  I'm a-okay with other people hunting cute furry animals.

Everyone has their own ideas of what gun control legislation (if any) should be enacted.  Personally, I am in favor of background checks for all gun purchases, even those at gun shows.  I believe high capacity magazines should be banned.  I don't see why we are required to be trained before legally driving an automobile which could kill someone, but training is not required to use a gun that is specifically designed to kill.  Buying an assault rifle should not be as easy to buy as placing an order for an iphone on Amazon.

But what do I know?  I am just a mother who wants her kids' First Amendment right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness upheld as much as their Second Amendment right to form their own militia - which, by the way, is supposed to be "well-regulated" according to the Constitution. (Although that part doesn't usually get stressed by the NRA.)

However, since nobody can quite decide on which gun control legislation should be passed, might I suggest a novel approach to legislation.  I think we should conduct a grand experiment to settle whether unfettered access to any weapon of choice makes our society safer or less safe.

Here's the plan:

We enact stricter gun control laws in 49 states.  But, we allow anyone with a strong sense that gun restriction hurts our country to live in Florida with no gun control legislation whatsoever.

That's right.  Let them have their flame throwers, fully automatic Howitzers, and tanks rumbling down Alligator Alley.  They can arm themselves with grenades and stick land mines in their lawns.  They can erect statues of Charlton Heston in every city center.  Have at it!  It will be fun! 

Fortunately, Florida already has stand-your-ground legislation in place, so if they feel any sense of danger, they can just shoot the heck out of anyone they feel threatened by.  I'm feeling safe already thinking about it.

I realize this might mean some changes for the Happiest Place on Earth.  In order for everyone to feel safe around so many guns, the characters in Disney World will probably have to be armed.  There may need to be some sort of gun corral outside of The Its a Small World ride.  Frontierland could sell fully functioning six-shooters to six-year-olds.   Cinderella's castle could have snipers posted at every turret.  Nothing but the best security to make families feel like they are not about to be shot. 

Everything is more magical with an assault rifle.  Yippe-ki-yay!

Then, if and when I am proved wrong - when we find out that minimal to no weaponry restrictions does, in fact, equal a safer society with fewer deaths, I will very humbly and sincerely admit I was wrong.  When it is proven that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" and unrestricted access to firearms does not, in fact, increase the homicide rate, I will acknowledge the fallibility in my reasoning.

But then again, what do I know.  I'm just a mom.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

7 Things Not to Say - Special Needs Adoption

Imagine you have been waiting months or years for your child.  You are excited, nervous, and eager to share your news with many people.  You want them to see your child and "Oooh" and "Aaah" over his precious face.  You know the world is a better place for him being in it and you are uncontrollably happy that you are the one who gets to be his Mommy or Daddy.  

Now imagine that instead of joy and congratulations, you are met with unintended insults. The reactions indicate, however subtly,  that your child is not good enough.  You feel pity instead of joy.  And you know that every time you show a picture of your beloved child, there's a chance you could be met with this reaction.

Pretty heartbreaking, isn't it.

Accepting a referral for a child is a huge milestone in the adoption process.  It is the moment when your dreams suddenly have a real, live child attached.  You see the child you will love for the rest of your life.  The vague imagery of adoption is gone and the specific reality of your future sets in. 

It is terrifying, exhilarating, and a feeling that can't be contained.  Imagine the excitement of seeing an ultrasound picture times a thousand.   

This can also be a vulnerable time for an adoptive parent waiting to welcome a child with identified medical needs. Adoptive parents need people to share their joy just as much as any mother announcing a pregnancy or an adoption of a child without medical quirks.  If the child has a visible difference, the vulnerability increases.  The adoptive parent sees the beauty of this child - will others?

Our family is not the only family in the history of the world who has adopted a child with identified medical needs.  Its really not that special or unusual.  

Yet many families, including my own, have heard unfortunate comments when sharing their news.  Not from you, of course, Dear Reader.  But, I have compiled a list of some of the things people have said to me about our adoptions.  I am sharing not only what not to say, but why it is an inappropriate comment.  

I know the people who said these things didn't mean to hurt feelings or insult.  I believe they just didn't think through their responses.  

1.  What is wrong with him/her?

Sometimes a child has a visible difference.  Sometimes friends and families know a family has been pursuing the adoption of a Waiting Child (adoption lingo for a child who has an identified medical need or some other situation that might make it a little harder to find the perfect parents for them).  

When a family tells you they have been matched with a child, NEVER ask, "What's wrong with him?"  because there is nothing "wrong" with the child.  They may have been made less than typical, but it isn't "wrong". 

Nobody is an unblemished specimen of human perfection.  Even you.  Even your child.   And well brought up people don't immediately inquire about the medical minutia of everyone they meet.  Adoptive parents have the right to not be questioned about their child's health to satisfy your general curiosity. 

If they want to discuss their child's medical needs with you, let them bring it up first.  

The only time you can ask about the medical condition first is if you are a very, very close friend or family member.  If you wouldn't discuss the details of your colonoscopy with this friend, your relationship is not close enough to allow you to ask this question.

2.  Did you know he/she would have that?  Couldn't you say "No"?

Anyone intending to adopt a child with a medical condition chooses it.  (There can be undisclosed issues, but that is a different situation).  The prospective adoptive parents must discuss the needs they are comfortable parenting with their social worker.  They must be approved to adopt a child with those needs by not only their social worker, but also the US government and, in the case of international adoption, the other countries government.  They have to do adequate research on the medical needs and have a plan of care in place.

Once a child with medical needs is referred to the family, they have the opportunity to decide if they are able to meet the needs of that particular child.  There  is a whole lot of thought and introspection involved.

Basically, a person must actively seek out and choose to adopt a child with a disclosed medical condition.  So yes, an adoptive parent did know about any known and disclosed medical conditions before accepting the referral.

The problem with asking if the adoptive parents could have said, "No" implies there is some reason this child should not be wanted.  Asking if they could back out of it is akin to asking a parent who gave birth to a child with a medical need, "Would you refuse to parent that child if you could?  Do you wish you had a different child instead?"  

That is all kinds of wrong.

3.  They are so lucky you would choose them.

No, they are not lucky to be chosen.  Children with special needs are just as much of a blessing to a family as children without identified medical needs.  To say they are lucky implies that there is something inherently "less than" about them.  

Adoptive parents know you mean this as a compliment.  But, as a guideline, if you wouldn't say this to a parent about their biological child, you shouldn't say it to a parent adopting a special needs child.  

4.  I could never adopt a child like that.

Why not?  An adoptive parent, clutching the picture of the child they are promising to love forever does not want to hear about why you would never adopt a child "like that".  Because I can guarantee that even if they are nervous about how the medical needs will affect them and their family, they have no desire to listen to why their new child wouldn't have measure up to your standards.

5.  Are they cheaper if they are Special Needs?  

For the millionth time, parents don't buy children they adopt.  So they are not cheaper.  Sometimes there are adoption fee reductions for children who are harder to place.  Sometimes parents can get grants to help offset adoption fees.  However, often times the cost of surgeries, therapies, etc. involved mean that adoptive parents anticipate spending significantly more long-term on their children with special needs than they would if they adopted a child without identified needs.  

A second point that to note.  The phrase, "The child is special needs."  is not appropriate.  The child may have special needs.  But it is not who they are. Usually the child's medical need is one of the very last things parents will think about when when describing their child.

I know this sounds like nit-picking.  But I am assuming if you have read this far into the post, you want to learn how to support an adoptive family.  Or you are an adoptive parent nodding along.  Or you are just killing time till you have to pick your kid up from soccer practice.  Whatever. 

6.  Are you sure you want to take that on?

As described above, a parent must give a whole lot of consideration to whether they are able to meet the needs of a child with specific medical issues.  If the adoptive parents are showing you the picture, they've already crossed the Rubicon.  They're in.   

Questioning them about their abilities implies that they jumped into the situation before adequate consideration of the impact of the medical needs at best.  Or it suggests you don't think they could handle it at worst.  Even if you don't mean it to be confrontational, it puts adoptive parents on the defensive.

7.  I knew someone who had that...

Great.  Unless you have personal experience parenting a child with the medical need, adoptive parents don't usually want to hear your second-hand stories.  Unless the story involves just how awesome that child is.

If your intention is to tell us about the struggles involved in parenting a child with that need, save it.   Adoptive parents want support, not a negative anecdote by somebody who hasn't lived it.  

EVERY child deserves a family.  Photo from Love Without Boundaries - an amazing organization who works with Chinese orphans, especially those with medical needs.

Here's what you may not realize:

When a biological child has unanticipated medical needs, the family often must mourn the "perfect" child they had anticipated.  They need to readjust their thinking and can often feel trapped by a situation they have no control over.  I've been there.  I know.

With special needs adoption, there is no mourning over what might have been.  Adoptive parents have the luxury of taking the child as they are.  They can celebrate the child without feeling like they missed out on a completely typical child (whatever that is).  They go into it with eyes and hearts wide open.

So, if you shouldn't say any of the above when an adoptive parent shows you the referral picture of their new child or when you meet their new child, what should you say?

It's easy.  Take your pick of any of the following

Congratulations!!  Your new son/daughter is adorable!   I'm so happy for you!  I know this child will be a tremendous blessing for your family! I can't wait to meet him/her.

You don't have to be clever.  Just share the joy. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What's the Big Deal About 16 Months?

Nope.  I don't want to walk yet.

This little cutie pie is now 16 months old, which seems like a fairly random age to become fixated upon. 

She seems like she has has always been here.  I know her quirks.  I can anticipate her reactions.  I have been able to watch her grow, learn, struggle, change, and thrive.

Sixteen months is also the age Levi was when he came home.  He seemed so old when we met him because we had nothing more than a couple of very outdated pictures to last us from referral till travel.   The pictures showed a baby.  We adopted a toddler.  We never had the gradual sense of him leaving babyhood and entering into the young boy stage.

The sweet boy we are adopting from China (I can't publicly reveal many details yet until we are further along in the process) has just hit the milestone of 19 months old.  So while I watch Juliet grow, I know that our newest one is doing his own awesome, remarkable, amazing toddler tricks.  I just don't know who is there to cheer him on. 

We continue the adoption paperwork avalanche, but can only move along as quickly as everyone else processing the things we submit.   We anticipate a late Spring or early Summer adoption trip - which doesn't seem nearly soon enough.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Shameful Music Collection

Let me start this post by admitting I am hopelessly uncool when it comes to music.  I will share some of my musical vices and you may giggle out loud, if you so choose.  But, I imagine even the biggest music buffs out there (a group to which I do not belong) like some pretty lame music in a completely un-ironic way.  They just don't admit it. 

I am a fan of records, and not just those perpetually cool albums that you can name-drop in a conversation and immediately have an aura of awesomeness around you.  Fortunately, I have given up on being cool a long time ago and I am pretty content with being authentically me instead. 

I realize that I prefer to pick my albums using the same criteria I use to pick out wine.

1.  Cheapness.  I am a fan of discount booze like I am a fan Goodwill records.  You don't need to invest a lot of money to bring a lot of joy.

4.  Novelty.  Since I don't have a refined palate for either music or alcohol, I am able to appreciate a lot of mediocre content.  My standards aren't impossibly high because I don't have the skill set to recognize the flaws anyway.  If the wine or album were the best ever made, they wouldn't be in the discount bin, would they?  I can appreciate it for what it is and not expect perfection.  My expectations are sufficiently low for me to be happy with nearly every purchase.

3.  Fun pictures.  You bet I pick out wine that has an interesting label, and most of my record selections were based on cover art. An amazingly, awesomely bad cover art is my favorite.

4.  Variety.  Its nice to have a beverage and music for any mood.  Sometimes I want sad, old country.  Sometimes polkas, or marching bands, or hymns, or show tunes.  Sometimes something a little royal like Carole King, Nat King Cole or Elvis (the King of Rock).

Here are some "highlights" of my collection:

The Hair.  Oh, the 70's Hair.  John Schneider (aka Bo Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard) was my first crush ever.  Unfortunately, the album cover is about the only redeeming quality to this purchase.  Once in a lifetime was enough to listen to the record.  But that feathered hair is enough to warrant a place of honor in my record collection.

Scary clown.  Applique Lee brand jeans.  Menacing bull.  And song lyrics like this to haunt your nightmares:  I could ride 'em all the bulls and the broncos knew I was boss
But the ride that woman took me on
Broke a whole lot more than this ole cowboy's bones
While the tears on my make-up melts my painted smile into a frown
The crowd thinks I'm a dandy I'm Bandy the rodeo clown. 

Alvin and crew sing Bette Davis Eyes, Whip It, Queen of Hearts, etc.  I love my children.  A lot. 

I like Dixie music so I probably would have gotten this record even without the awesome cover.  The emotion of the trombone player makes me regret my decision to play clarinet (although he's rocking out as well.).  Drummer looks like he lost something - or maybe he is just showing off that strong profile.  It is hard enough for a Baritone to get respect, but do they really need to have him turned the wrong way?  I'm not sure who the creepy guy is behind the trombone player.  Maybe a groupie?  Banjo Guy's fake smile is hiding the fact that he is crouched, ready to pounce on unsuspecting Drummer and steal his coveted plaid coat.  You know Trumpet planned the album cover as a way to impress the ladies with his suave, soulful stance.

With that expression, he looks like Columbo ready to solve the Case of the Harmonica Murder. 

Who thinks Polka music isn't fun?  This group's claim to fame is that they played at the Nebraska State Fair 26 years in a row.  Oh, and there were a lot more than six people in the actual band.  And they weren't all fat.

I'm got some Norwegian heritage, so I took a chance on this album.  I've come to the conclusion that everything sounds nice in Norwegian.  This could be an album full of tragedy, insults, or curse words and I wouldn't really care because it sounds so pleasant.

My children sometimes ask to listen to the "Scary Guy" music.  Bach is actually so lovely, that I find it ironic to have such a severe composer on the cover with children in various states of fear.  The back cover has several more choir-robed children in near tears.

I have decided to have eight children just to form a band like this.  I intend to create the ultimate bouffant for myself and replicate the groovy seventies hair and clothes for the rest of my family.  We will magically acquire musical talent and fund the children's college educations with proceeds from our road tour.

I enjoy classical music.  I enjoy classical music performed by an orchestra of Robin Hood clad musicians immensely more.

My forays into thrift store music have provide me with the following data regarding genre of albums:  33% are show tunes.  33% are Christmas albums.  33% are a combination of Barry Manilow and Linda Ronstadt albums.  The remaining 1% make up all the other music styles and artist.  This particular Christmas album set itself apart by the cover musician's ability to play mariachi-style Christmas music with mittens on.
You don't have to be a pre-teen boy to recognize the humor of a conductor named "Whoopee Will Fart".  I mean Wilfahrt.  And there are Hummel figurines making out on the cover.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Home Study Visits - Done

We had our final home study visit (assuming we get our official home study approval shortly).  For those who have traveled this path already, you know the giant sense of relief that comes from completing this step.  For the uninitiated, let me give you a snapshot of this particular tribulation.

Imagine, if you would, that you are hosting a guest in your home.  Imagine that this guest will inspect every room in your home.  Then imagine that this guest gets to decide if you are awesome enough to parent a child. 

That is the joy of a home study.

Well, that is not actually how it goes, but that is how it feels.  In actuality, the social workers we have had have all been lovely people.  That doesn't prevent the panic from setting in a couple of weeks before the visit.

The problem is that I know everyone else goes cleaning crazy for home study visits.  If I didn't, I imagine the social worker thinking, "Is this as good as it gets after mandatory-reporter level cleaning?"

Why don't all adoptive parents make a pact that they will only wash a few dishes and scrub the bathroom before their home study visit so we are all on the same playing field.  Then I won't feel a compulsion to Martha Stewartize my home before the social worker comes.  Who am I kidding?  You can't Martha a home with seven kids in it.  But you know I'm going to try.

Let's be clear.  My home is not Hoarders-worthy.  In the last hour before company comes over, I usually resort to a frantically shouted, "Just throw that in my bedroom and close the door." with the spare odds and ends that just hadn't gotten put away.  If I invite you over, you can count on me being sweaty and slightly out of breath when I answer the door due to my last minute tidying.  That just doesn't cut it when the social worker looks in your bedroom.  And office.  And laundry room.  And playroom...

Just getting all caught up with laundry should have been a laudable enough goal. 

Instead I organized all the crafting supplies.  I purged bags of clothing.  I replaced all my dead plants.  I painted furniture, people.  

I even cleaned my closet, even though home study visits don't involve looking through closets or drawers.  That is what home study neuroses will do to a girl.

And if that wasn't enough, I baked some pretty awesome cookies and pulled them out of the oven five minutes before the social worker pulled in front of the house. 

Do you want to know how long the home tour took?  Less than three minutes. 

When I came home from a meeting later that night, there was no hiding the fact that seven little people live in this house. 

Fortunately, even if adoptive parents forget in the haze of Windex and Soft Scrub, home visits are not there to assess if your home could be featured in a decorating magazine.  They are there to assess if you would be a good family for a child who needs one.  They want you to succeed.  They don't want to judge a stray sock or a Lego piece on the floor (Unless they stepped on it - those things hurt like the devil.) 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Shot Heard Round the Ballfield

This year, Concordia Academy (the high school just across the street from my children's school) needed more players for their JV softball team.  Some of the 7th and 8th grade girls were given the chance to play on the team.  Bridget, my seventh grader joined the team, even though she had not had much in the way of formal team play.

Although she was reluctant initially, she has been having a great time playing second base.  I have been having a great time watching her.

Until this week.

There was a hard shot straight at her.  She got in front of the ball, like she should, but it took one hard, bad hop and nailed her in the forehead.  It sounded like a line drive does coming off the bat, only this was my sweet baby's head.

She staggered for a moment.  I rushed onto the field.  Her coach and the ump were right behind me.

The first words out of the girl's mouth were, "I'm okay.  I can keep playing."  The girl didn't even cry.  She is one tough kid. 

Yeah, that's my tough girl

Well, she didn't keep playing, of course.  I took her home and watched for any sign of concussion, which she miraculously didn't have.  She just had a headache and a big lump on her forehead.  Of all the possible spots for it to hit, we were so fortunate it hit where there was the least likelihood of severe injury.  What an incredible blessing.

I went out before her next practice to buy her a softball fielding mask.  Often just the pitcher, 1st base and 3rd base players wear them so I hadn't bought one for her.  But I can still hear that horrible sound of the impact, so now she's got one.  And she was back at practice the next day.  Fielding balls fearlessly.

Fielding masks weren't around when I played fast pitch.  I'm glad they are now.  One close call is enough.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Waiting for the Perfect Post

So let me point out the elephant in the room.  It has been several months since my last blog post.

First life got busy.  Then, it had been so long since I posted that the neurotic in me decided that I needed to find the "perfect" inspirational post to get started again.  Because after all, you don't want to pull an Indiana Jones.

You know - where people wait forever till the next installment in the franchise after the Last Crusade only to be extraordinarily disappointed with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?  Don't worry Harrison Ford, I still love you in a slightly more than platonic way.

Then I got over myself and realized that nobody probably cared about the blog.  Updating it became one of those last things on my To Do list that just got carried over every day but never completed.

Fortunately, one of my favorite relatives snapped me out of complacency and asked about the blog.  I let her know my predicament of not having the perfect post.  So the practical gal suggested a topic for me.  Perfect.  The perfect topic is one I don't have to freak out over.

She suggested imaginations in childhood, specifically imaginary friends.  So I will take her up on it.  Here goes:

You all might be thinking that imaginary friends are cute and harmless.  They celebrate that moment when magic is possible and kids can't quite tell real from make believe.  It all seems so innocent.

But not in my family.  Imaginary friends are used as a means of domination.

Bridget started the imaginary friend fest when she was young.  Everything progressed in the typical fashion and then she outgrew it.  Until her brother's invisible buddy joined the family.

Riley's imaginary friend was named "Mr. Nobody", and the boy was pretty happy to have him roaming around the house keeping him company.  Bridget was not keen to lose the idolizing attention of her little brother and stole his imaginary friend.  Mr. Nobody no longer belonged to Riley because Bridget claimed him.  That is what unbridled power does to an older sibling.

Riley was not to be dissuaded from having a make-believe friend, so he settled on Mrs. Nobody.  Although this character wasn't stolen away from him, both he and Mrs. Nobody still ended up being bossed around by Bridget and Mr. Nobody.

Next in the line of imaginary friends came Connor's friend named "The Little Guy".  The little guy was apparently a Tom Thumb kind of invisible chap who liked to hang around the house.  Connor rather liked him, but Bridget confiscated him, too.  She would tell Connor where his imaginary friend was and was not.  She told him what The Little Guy did.  I could see Connor trying to grasp control over the situation, but unfortunately the persuasive declarations by his sister were too much for his imagination to overrule.

I think the effort to control The Little Guy became too great and he, too, fell as a casualty of growing up.

Sawyer's friend named "Puffy" has been the latest imaginary friend to enter our home.  Puffy started out as Sawyer's other dad.  Puffy was his fun dad that he liked to do lots of stuff with.  Of course I felt superior in that I was not replaced by an imaginary friend.  I gloated in front of my dear husband.  Then Puffy somehow morphed into his more fun mom.  I didn't gloat anymore.

Puffy managed to become his brother, his friend, and any other cool role Sawyer could think of.  He loved Puffy.

So naturally Bridget was gearing up a hostile takeover of the fake person named Puffy.  But it never happened.  It turns out there is a force stronger than the devious nature of an older sister.  That force is the pure power of absolute belief.

Bridget couldn't take the imaginary friend because Sawyer wasn't wishy-washy about his belief.  He was convinced Puffy was real, so of course Bridget couldn't take him.

At one point, Sawyer came to me jubilant.  I asked the reason and he told me that he beat Puffy at Uno.  Apparently, Puffy was just about to win, but forgot to say "Uno" so Sawyer was able to remain the Uno champion.  Take that, imaginary person!

I congratulated Sawyer.  He leaned in by me and looked both ways to be sure nobody was listening.  Then he whispered, "That Puffy at the table isn't really real, you know."  I smiled and nodded.  Yes, I knew.

Then he added "But the Puffy up in my room is.  He talks to me at night and tells me what to do."

Bonus points for Sawyer for not only being the first person to successfully protect his imaginary friend from his sister, but also for creeping me out in the process.