Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FASD and Crime

While spending time in Hubby's hospital room, I was able to finish a book, The Fatal Link, by Jody Allen Crowe. In this book, the author made the connection between school shootings and prenatal exposure to alcohol. It was not surprising to me, knowing that more than half of the people with FASD have trouble with the law in one way or another, due to the brain damage sustained prenatally. http://fascenter.samhsa.gov/documents/WYNK_Criminal_Justice5.pdf

Actually, The Fatal Link was kind of a depressing book for me, because I'm trying to raise two kids who struggle in their own ways with fetal alcohol.  I doubt that they will lash out like that, but I do see them struggle with certain things.  I'm hoping that by having a loving, calm, and structured home environment, and by the grace of God, they will succeed.

But the book does stir me even more to warn others not to take a chance with their kids and drink alcohol while pregnant. It breaks my heart to look at the faces and pictures of preschoolers and see the features of fetal alcohol. I think of the needless struggles some of these kids will have to face, the school problems, the behavior problems, the difficulties these kids will have when they try to live as an independent adult and just can't swing it.  I suspect my kids' birthmother is affected. It broke my heart the other day when I saw how much she struggled to understand the rental contract for her new home.  Sometimes the results of FASD are tragic. The other day, a couple of adoptive parents in Oakland were killed by their fifteen year old son.  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/31/BAFG1N0MR2.DTL Because he was adopted, was in a charter school, and committed such a crime, I'm wondering if the boy had FASD.  I don't know if we'll ever find out for sure, but it would be something that I feel should be looked into. I wonder how many of the crazy crimes that don't make sense are caused by people whose brains that are damaged by alcohol. Is throwing people in jail who have brain damage because of FASD the best our society can do to handle this problem?

I wonder what this world would be like if women wouldn't drink if they were or could get pregnant.  How would it affect our schools, our jails, our social service programs?

I am getting so tired of people minimizing the affect alcohol has on the fetus. I've had social workers flippantly say things like, "Oh yes, most of the kids in the system are affected by drugs and alcohol", like it isn't anything unusual. The school employees, even after being told that my daughter had FAS, said that they wouldn't test her until she was two years behind. And now I'm finding out through Kaiser that she has a low IQ and should have been tested. Did you know that FASD is the leading cause of mental retardation in the US? The schools here don't seem to care.

But enough of this depressing stuff for today. I think I'll have to finish reading Fantastic Antone Succeeds so that I have some more hope for my kids.

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Today is Hubby's birthday!

Hubby in Front of His Fish Tank

He left the hospital last night and is able to spend his birthday at home. I haven't planned a thing to celebrate, but he is happy to eat a home cooked meal and drink chai tea. He's joking about not having nurses chase him around with bar code readers and waking him up to take his vital signs. Hubby even was able to take a hot shower instead of taking a sponge bath now that the bandages were taken off. He's even planning to work a bit from home today. Hubby is getting back to normal, and that's the best gift of all.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hubby is Home!

Hubby is Home!!!

He couldn't get out of the place fast enough! He was feeling much better after a couple of days of antibiotics. The doctor was pleased with the progress and let him out a day before he expected. I don't know if Hubby could have stood one more day in there, though. I could tell he was feeling better and ready to come home this afternoon when he was bored by the pretty nature video on the TV that kept him captivated yesterday and last week.  Fortunately, the nurse who discharged him saw how anxious he was to get out of that room, she let him walk out, instead of the traditional wheelchair ride to the front door. I barely had enough time to gather his things to walk beside him, he was so itchy to get out of there!

Now, hopefully, we can settle down to a good routine. The kids have had a hard time with Hubby's second hospitalization. I don't know if it's because they have colds, the recent excitement from the birth family contact and birth brother staying with us a couple of days, or because this time Hubby went to the hospital unexpectedly when Mr. I was out with a friend. Maybe it's because of a combination of these things and more, but it's been a rough couple of days. Mr. I has been having nightmares, and both have been more clingy and needy.

There have been blessings in the second hospitalization, though. Hubby healed quickly. The older daughters have helped a lot with the house and the little kids. The neighbor who gave us a meal after Ms. D's hospitalization gave us a delicious coffee cake last night. People prayed for us. God kept me safe despite my clumsiness yesterday. I am even surprised that I have stayed upbeat through all this. I keep thinking that I should be a wreck right now!

But tonight the whole family is happy. There is laughter and joy in our house. Hubby is home and feeling well!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back in the Hospital...

There is now a well worn path from our house to the hospital. Yes, Hubby is back at Kaiser again.

Yesterday Hubby wasn't feeling very well. His temperature bounced from the 99's to the 98's all afternoon. I was at first thinking he was coming down with the cold the kids have so I went to church last night. But when I got back, his fever was 101 so we went to the hospital. The emergency room was crowded since it was a Saturday night, but they got us in right away. Because Hubby just had surgery, he was admitted and is on IV antibiotics. He is responding well and feeling better every hour. Right now he's trying to eat his lunch with his left hand, since they have his right arm hooked up this time.

He has a better view from his window this time, the last one he could only see sky and treetops.

Our house is is in this direction, towards the small hill on the left about two miles away.  Do you see the well worn path?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Looking on the Bright Side!

It helps to look on the bright side of things. Sometimes I get discouraged by things and am tempted to grumble, overwhelmed, and negative. I forget to be thankful for what I do have. Yes, some things are difficult. Some situations can be depressing. There is a time to grieve. But there comes a point where I find myself becoming unnecessarily depressed. There comes a time when I need to look at the bright side and find the good in a situation.

Here is a fun song sung in 1932 by Gracie Fields.

Yesterday, when I was sitting outside of the courtroom with Birthmom, she was feeling bad about the whole situation. Her son, my kids' birth brother, had been taken away from her for three days because of a nine year old warrant for him to be put in foster care when my kids were also taken away from her. That's why we had him at our house this week and she had to go through a few hearings and a lot of red tape. This is all happening when she was homeless and finding a new place to stay, her oldest son had a trial (that thankfully was delayed again), and she had to also go through a program after her jail time. She was a bit negative about not having her son with her, the timing, and the hassle of going through scary hearings and so much more red tape. But just before the hearing, we were told that everyone was recommending that the boy be returned to her and that she would get family reunification services for a few weeks or months. So I told her, "Do you realize that it might be a good thing this all happened?" She looked at me funny until I told her that because of this situation, she will get more services just when she needs them. She smiled and remembered what this all means. She will get more support and help now! Birthmom went from sad and worried to happy just by looking at the bright side!

Take a Breath!!!

I really need to relax!

This morning I tried to do the dishes and bills while cooking and eating my breakfast. Then Mr. I wanted help with his math, which I didn't have time to do. But when a kid who normally tries to get out of work wants to do schoolwork, you go with it. However, this time I was flitting between the previous tasks, helping Hubby get up, taking care of Ms. D who was complaining of a sore throat, and getting ready myself, so that we could get out the door by 8:30. Birthmom had asked me to take her to her new house to sign papers and the kids wanted to go too. Maybe that's why Mr. I wanted help with his schoolwork. He  probably was feeling anxious and wanted attention. The kids have been pretty emotional lately and it didn't help to have a distracted mom. So we got Birthmom to her appointment in time and waited for other family members to get there so that we knew she had a ride home. Then, when I walked in the door at 10:30, one of my daughters told me that someone was coming over to pick up a car, the house was a mess, dishes still needed to be done, the kids were hungry and needed to do schoolwork, and I had so much else to do. I felt pulled in so many directions.

After finishing the schoolwork and a few chores, I am forcing myself to slow down a little. Yes, it would be nice to finish the laundry, clean the house, and work on the yard, but a harried mom isn't pleasant. The kids and I are all hyped up from the week's events, and I need to lead the family in practicing a peaceful lifestyle. Yes, we can work, but work from an inner peace rather than to try to work while anxious. So instead of jumping up to help Ms. D to walk the dogs, I asked her to wait a few minutes until I finish. When I get anxious, the family demands more of my attention, and I drop whatever I'm doing to help them. This makes me more anxious, and the family becomes more anxious and make more demands, or messes, or meltdowns which increase my anxiety level... See the cycle?

So I am slowing down. I am taking a deep breath. I am enjoying my life, my family, and what God has given me. Most of these things will be here tomorrow and aren't really urgent. I need to prioritize. I need to seek God in what I am to do, not blindly run from one urgency to another.

I need to take a deep breath.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

The kids' birth brother was able to go home today. We got the kids all up early, picked up Birthmom and went to the hearing this morning that was to decide whether he went home or stay with us. He's a nice kid, but he really needed to be with his mom. Everyone at the court, including an awesome judge, agreed. I'm really pretty glad he was only here a couple of days, since I'm still being a nurse to Hubby after his surgery and Ms. D has been so emotional lately. But God's timing is better than mine, and it all worked out OK. It actually worked out better than OK for Birthmother, since she will be able to get some more services for the next few weeks while the case is still open. So she got her baby back, well, a big 15 year old baby, will get more support at a time she really needs it, and she knows that we love her. Hey, we even took in her son at a crazy time in our lives so that he didn't need to be in foster care. The kids were thrilled to have him, and are a bit sad this afternoon, but it'll be good for us to settle down.

This afternoon Hubby really wanted to go to work for a group picture. It was the 50th anniversary of SLAC, and he wanted to be a part of it, even if it was only for a few minutes. So I drove him there and waited in the car while the pictures were taken.  I was surprised that they had a helicopter that came and took some pictures also.

Hubby didn't stay for the rest of the celebration, but he got to talk to a few coworkers, which made him pretty happy.

Then we went straight to the doctor's office to have Hubby's staples removed. I can't believe it's been a week already since he had his surgery.

So now we are home. Home Sweet Home!

I can breathe, relax, and get back to normal. Of course in our house, normal is pretty different than what most people's normal looks like. And that's just fine, because we're all home where we belong.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mean Mom

I have a girl that's pretty angry at me, but I needed to stop a behavior.  Because of her FASD, she doesn't understand appropriate boundaries sometimes. She doesn't understand what she is communicating nonverbally. This time was harder, because it involved the birth family. With Birthbrother here, she's swinging back and forth in loyalty and affection, which is understandable. It's hard to guide someone who thinks concretely, but is dealing with issues that require a higher, logical part of the brain that just isn't working as well as it should. I tried to stop the behavior subtly and in a light hearted way, but she thought she knew better and continued. So I had to take her aside and give her concrete reasons why she needed to stop. One of the reasons was that she needed to obey, even if she doesn't understand, because I told her to not do something. It was something that she needs to learn to stay safe throughout her life. Afterwards she went to the bathroom and cried, hardly talked to me, did not look in my eyes, and flinched when I tried to touch her to pray for her before bed. I am a mean mom. But it did stop the behavior.

Sometimes I have to put on the mean mom hat, even when I don't think it fits very well.

Today I Didn't Do Much, Except...

Today I tried to rest a bit. I've been doing too much and getting too tired to function. Somebody must be praying for me, because I really do feel rested. Hubby is talking on the phone right now and said I was holding up pretty good. If the family notices it, I must not be too bad! I'm not very good at hiding what I feel.

Now, looking back, I found I've actually accomplished quite a bit. I'm glad I went to nursing school, even if it was 30 years ago, because I've had to help Hubby with various drains, medications, and other things to help him heal. I did some homeschool with the kids and did some laundry, cooking, and a little cleaning. I picked up a couple of computers for Nicaragua at a repair place. Now we were completely blessed because they charged half of what they quoted and threw in a power supply too! That was so amazing! We picked up one of the older birth brothers from another part of town so the kids could be together and play some football. I dropped them off at the house, and then went grocery shopping. I even got to do a little yard work before the sun set!

It's amazing how after doing all that, and more, how rested I feel! God is so good!

Tomorrow we find out if the kid's birth brother will go home tomorrow or stay another three weeks. He's been doing well but he needs to help his mom at home.

But now it's time to finish cooking dinner. Thanks for all the prayers. I feel them!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Always Room For One More

Last night I got a frantic call from Birthmother. Actually, since I was charging my phone in another room and didn't hear it ring, it was many calls and messages. I called her back at 11:00 last night, just before bed, and found out that the kid's 15, almost 16 year old birth brother was in the shelter overnight. He was about to be placed in foster care because of a nine year old warrant out when the kids were all to be in foster care.  Birthmother asked if we could take him in and I told her we'd think and pray about it over night. Well, Hubby figured something like this would happen and we both like the brother, so we contacted the county this morning. The social worker came, inspected our home for an emergency placement and now, after just a few hours, we have the birth brother here. He'll stay at least until Thursday, when he has a hearing, but it can be longer.

You can imagine the excitement and the rushing of getting the house halfway together, even while taking care of Hubby as he recuperates after his hospitalization. I am so thankful that Photography Son and his wife cleaned the kitchen while I was with Hubby at the hospital yesterday. At least that wasn't a worry. Another thing I'm thankful for is that I had recently painted the hallway and took down the smoke alarm. Just before hubby went to the hospital, we got a new one at the hardware store. I had to put it up while the  social worker was here, but at least we had it handy. There wasn't time to get one at the store, since we had only a half hour notice before she came. Everything had to be done quickly because of a new rule that kids can't stay at the shelter more than 24 hours. He needed to be picked up by 1:00 pm or go to a foster home. At least here he can be in a familiar place with his siblings. Everything went so quickly. I'm still a little bit shaky!

Oh, and today the oldest birth brother's trial is starting with the jury selection. Birthmom has to talk to the social worker and also look for more housing. And I think I have a lot on my plate!

I'm so fluttery and excited that the kids noticed, and told me to sit down and relax. If they notice, I guess I do need to calm down!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Home on the New Year...

...Chinese New Year, that is!

The neighbors lit their firecrackers last night and this morning to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. And there was celebration at our house as Hubby came home from the hospital today!

He's healing well. It will take a week or so before his drains can be removed, but Hubby is happy that he can continue his healing at home.

After days of going back and forth between the hospital and home, I am now able to stay here, where I can take care of my whole family at once. It was hard to be pulled in both directions. The older kids were wonderful in filling in the gaps, but the little ones wanted their mommy. The nurses were kind and took good care of Hubby, but he wanted his wife. And so I ran between the two places with little time to take care of myself. It will be good to get back to a routine. It will be good for me and the family.

I am so thankful for my adult children who cared for the little ones, taught their school, cleaned my kitchen, and held down the fort! This was even more difficult than most would think, since the little ones regress and act odd when their schedule is changed or there is stress, and they had to get through both. The adult kids were able to handle the behaviors very well, and the little ones were able to get through this time feeling loved and protected.

I am thankful for the doctors, nurses, and other employees at Kaiser who took such good care of Hubby.

I'm thankful for friends and family who visited Hubby and cheered him up. And I'm thankful for their prayers and support!

I am thankful for God's healing, provision, and protection during this time.  He even protected me when I was driving in the rain early one of the mornings before sunrise and I had to swerve to miss a branch that fell on the road. I was so tired, my reflexes weren't as fast as normal. But God helped me to keep control of the car.

I am thankful for Hubby, who brings a sense of peace and protection to our home. This was so evident to me while he was gone.

And I'm thankful for a New Year, both American and Chinese, for new beginnings, and a fresh start. May God bless each of you with peace, prosperity, and love.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Beauty in the Hospital

I am finding more and more beauty in the hospital.

I found some beauty in the paintings on the walls. I love that Kaiser has put such awesome art all over the place. Sometimes I almost forget I'm in a hallway in a hospital and not at a museum. This is one of the paintings on Hubby's floor.

There is beauty in how people are made. I wish I could publicly say what Hubby's surgery was about. I would be able to explain how intricate, how marvelously we are created, and how skillfully the doctors worked to fix a problem. The more I learn of anatomy and physiology, the more I am awed. I see beauty in how Hubby is healing. It really is pretty amazing!

There is beauty in the kindness of the doctors, nurses, hospital workers, friends and family. I passed a doctor in the halls yesterday and we both looked at each other and tried to place where we last met. We finally realized that she had done Hubby's pre-op exam. I told her the surgery went well and then she gave me a hug and told me she was glad. How beautiful is that?!!

I see beauty in the view from Hubby's window. The clouds the past couple of days have been dancing, moving, and pushing by, some heavy with rain, and others wispy and delicate. Seagulls have been soaring about in the wind. There is so much beauty in the changing views through the window.

There is also beauty in the CARE station on the TV. Hubby can turn on soothing music and beautiful nature scenes when he needs to relax. It is so beautiful to see God's creation, the mountains, the rivers, the animals, the plants.

There is so much beauty in this world, and it's easy to take it for granted. No, it's not just another sunset. It's a painting in the sky, made by God, to lift our spirits. There is beauty everywhere we look, if we care to find it, even in a hospital.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hospital Visits

Hubby will be in the hospital a few more days and is starting to get visitors. Today, all but two of our kids, the grandson, and a couple from our church came and prayed for him. I know it brightened Hubby's day. I think he's getting a bit bored.

Visiting Grandpa
Hubby is getting used to being in the hospital, and so he's letting me post pictures of him in a hospital gown! So now I can show the two pictures of him before surgery.

The nurse joked that this was Hubby's party hat!

Post Surgery Update

We saw the doctor today at the hospital and Hubby was able to hear for himself how things went. The surgery went well and Hubby's anatomy was easy. Hubby is in pain from the incision, but the kidney pain isn't there anymore, which is making him a happy camper...well, a happy hospital camper. He called me this morning at 6:00 to let me know he was ready for a visit, which wouldn't have been bad except the younger kids were all hyped up last night and couldn't get to sleep until after 11:00. When I was younger I used to think I was an eight hour a night sleep person. Now I'm fortunate if I get seven. I'll be glad when this is all over and I can get a good night's sleep again.

It's interesting how all this hospital stuff is affecting the kids. Mr. I is the most interesting. He calls me, whines, and clings. Nothing sounds good for him to eat. I did break down and get him some donuts for breakfasts the next couple of days. He grabbed one this afternoon while getting things for his daily outdoor play time. He left a neighborhood kid outside in the wind and drizzle, and stuffed the donut in his mouth. He said something that I couldn't understand. He repeated it to me. Mr. I had told the neighbor boy he was eating a crab cake. A crab cake? Where did he ever have a crab cake? I told him it's not nice to lie to your friends like that. Mr. I told me he wasn't lying, he just told his friend something different. Really?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Only in California

Sign at the hospital parking garage:

Notice that this sign is posted in both English and Spanish. Do we really need signs like this posted in public places? Isn't it obvious that there is gasoline and diesel exhaust in a parking garage? Does a sign like this change anyone's behavior or use of the parking garage? Do we really need to spend all this money posting signs like these, or prosecuting those who don't? I don't think so!

Only in California.....

Textbook Surgery!

Hubby had his surgery today and it went really well. It only lasted 1 1/2 hours, an hour or more shorter than expected. The doctor said it was just like they thought and it was a "textbook case". He wished he had a camera to take a picture of the blood vessels constricting the ureter. I told him, "It's times like these you wish you had a student to watch, isn't it?" There were no surprises, which is really good. And the other good thing is that it was obvious what the problem was. Nothing is worse than to go to the doctor or mechanic and not be sure that the things done would fix the problem. So Hubby is fortunate. Now he just needs to heal.

One thing we were worried about before the surgery was how Hubby would react to the anesthesia. After his last surgery 20 years ago, Hubby didn't fully wake fully from the anesthesia for over 12 hours and hallucinated about being tortured in a gulag. This time he told me he started to get up in the recovery room thinking he had to get ready for work. But the nurses ran to him to tell him to stay down and he did. He was groggy when I saw him later, but still had a sense of humor. He told me that he wanted to run the hills tomorrow. I asked him if he was joking, and he just said hmmm and fell asleep. I was pretty worried that he was back to his hallucinations because of the medication. But a few minutes later he told me he really was just joking! He just wanted to see my reaction! Funny guy!

Thank you everyone who prayed for Hubby and helped with the kids and house. I am so blessed by my friends and family!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Must Read if You Ever Struggled to Like Someone!!!

Today I read a blog by One Thankful Mom that really hit me. She talked about how, even though we love someone, sometimes it's hard to like  them. I won't go into it anymore, she is able to say it so much better than I can, but it really hit a chord with me.  Please read it if you ever had a hard time liking someone!

Even though I love them, I struggle to like the birth family because of what they do and have done to my kids. There are other people, even my kids sometimes, that rub me the wrong way or behave in ways that annoy me. But I need to list what I like about them. I need to focus on their likeable qualities. God delights in them, and I need to see them more like He does. And as I learn to like them, I will learn to love them more. 

A Pig at Costco

Today we went to Costco and Ms. D spotted a little pig in a man's arms.  They are clean, can use a litter box, and are really smart. And of course, this little guy was amazingly cute. Ms. D now wants a pig. Wouldn't you?

How Homeschool Kids Do Math

This is Ms. D doing her math.

She found Photography Son's old algebra book and wanted to start it, since other kids her age are in algebra. I don't think she's ready, but since she's done quite a bit of pre-algebra and has the desire, why not? She'll probably have to repeat it anyway. She does well in math, but the logic that's needed for algebra might make it harder for her. We'll just take our time and do it again and again if necessary. There's no shame in that.

Mr. I is regressing as far as behavior goes because he's worried about Hubby's surgery. Mr. I won't admit it, but it still comes out. We had a rough time last night because of it. He wasn't the only one dysregulated!  We certainly had an easy example when we talked about forgiveness this morning. I hope we don't have to practice forgiveness again any time soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baby Blanket...Done!

I really haven't done much in the sewing or craft area since Christmas. Yes, I made a couple of washcloths while in the waiting rooms for Hubby's pre-ops and Ms. D's therapy appointments. But other than that, I hadn't done anything else. But yesterday I needed a feeling of accomplishment, so I started a fleece blanket with a crocheted edging. It's a project that's fast, really fast. I was able to finish it in less than two days. It would have been faster if I had something better to poke the holes for the yarn, but I haven't been able to find a skip stitch rotary blade with a good review. So I use an awl that I use for making holes in fabric for snaps. It works, but it takes a little more time.

So many things I do have to be done again and again, laundry, dishes, cleaning, taking care of kids, so I like it when I can finish something.

Take What You Need

While walking the neighbor dogs this afternoon, I noticed this sign stuck to a tree next to the paseo (walkway, path, or sidewalk for you gringos).

Under the message, Take What You Need, were things like love, happiness, peace, faith, forgiveness...

And in small letters going up the right side is this message: Now go do something to brighten someone's day.

I really like this sign. It reminds me that God has so many blessings. Sometimes I feel so drained, or worried about finances, or harried and I forget to look to God and receive from Him what I need. He is a good God, He loves me, and He has so much for me. And it doesn't stop there. He wants me to not just hoard what I get, but to freely give to others like He has freely given to me. It is so tempting to be in a poverty mindset or to think there is only a little bit of blessings to go around. But in God's economy, the more we give, the more there is to give. I want to give more of my time, resources, money, talents, love, and all the rest of what God gives me.

Because the world will be a better place if each of us gives, even if we have just a little.

Monday, January 16, 2012


So many things require preparation.

I prepare for the year of homeschooling by picking out and buying curriculum, getting the paperwork organized, and reflecting on goals for the coming year. We prepared for adoption by taking classes, getting the bedrooms ready, more and more paperwork, doctors' appointments, fingerprints, reading about adoption and other things like RAD, gathering a group of people who could support us, more paperwork, providing respite for other foster kids, took CPR and First aid training, and more.  Blackbelt Daughter was in a friend's wedding yesterday and helped her friend prepare for weeks, no months before the big day. Even Photography son's impromtu mini vacation with his wife this week needed a bit of preparation in getting Microbio Daughter's help in house sitting and pet watching and adjusting work schedules.

Of course, things change, and we have to be flexible. Sometimes things come up or things don't work out as planned.  I didn't plan for Ms. D to have seizures, or Hubby's emergency room visits. And sometimes it's fun to get creative and change things around. We hear of a cool field trip or something spurs an interest that is outside of the plans and so we don't do our normal lessons. But it helps to have a plan, a guideline, or at least get things prepared beforehand. When my kids were little, I noticed a big difference in the day if I overslept or the kids would wake up before I did. Things ran much smoother if I could spend some quiet time and got things prepared for the day before the big morning rush started. Now being organized isn't my strong point by any means, I'm more of a spontaneous, creative person. My usual way of doing things is to tackle one problem at a time, even if it means packing the day of a trip, or planning for a lesson at the last minute. But I'm finding that I am more peaceful and there are less crisis times when I prepare for things in advance.

So now in the days before Hubby's surgery, we are preparing so that things run smoother while he is gone and recovering. He had pre-op appointments last week to make sure he was ready physically for surgery. He cleaned the fish tank and cleaned out the pond pump, jobs I don't really know how to do or care to learn. He wrote out the donor letters for his non-profit . I'm getting childcare arranged for surgery day, cleaning, and plan to make meals ahead of time and do some more cleaning and laundry. We did a little schoolwork today, even though it's a holiday, so that we can keep up and so I don't feel stressed about the kids missing even more school. There is so much to do, yet the more we do now, the smoother things should run later.

Not all things in life are predictable, but I'm really trying to be less of a last minute procrastinator, and more of a flexible planner. It's not my nature to plan and prepare much in advance, but I just can't afford to live in crisis mode all the time.  My frequent migraines the past two months are telling me to change something. And I think this is one of the things I can change. It will take time to learn and change habits, but it will be worth it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Plusses and Minuses

Last night we had church at our house. We belong to a gathering of house churches and our particular church meets at a different house each week. I spent the day cleaning and getting ready for people to come. It was good to get things cleaner, but I still have a way to go. Thankfully, my oldest son and his wife and some of the other kids have been helping me lately. I don't know what I would do without them!

Of course, by the time people came, I was exhausted. I was also still grieving because of Ms. D's coming diagnosis. During our church  we have time to share what God has done the past week in our lives and have prayer requests. I would normally be able to tell of how the psychologist hinted that Ms. D has a low IQ. I am both happy to have a reason for her behaviors and learning difficulties, but am grieving because of how this will impact her life. But Ms. D was here, and so I couldn't say anything. Hypervigilance has been one of the last things to heal in my kids and they don't miss a thing! It was hard for me to be a bit sad and distracted yet not be able to say why. But it was so good that Hubby got prayer for his surgery next Thursday.

People stayed awhile afterward. I served up some stew in the crock pot that wasn't done before people came, but was perfect after the main teaching and worship time. I was so happy that people stayed, but I know I was out of it and wasn't a very good conversationalist. I could have fallen asleep sitting up, and I think I did!

Some things can be good and difficult at the same time. I'm glad Ms. D is getting evaluated, yet there are difficulties that come along with it. Hubby's surgery will be difficult and long, but he will probably feel so much better after he heals. It was good to get the house clean and have people over last night, but it took a lot of work and I got tired. With labor comes a baby. With studying comes a degree. With hard work in the garden there comes good fruit. There are so many things in life that are difficult, and sometimes we don't get to reap what we expect. But when we are rewarded, doesn't it mean so much more to us?

So when I am tempted to become discouraged, weary, and ready to give up, I need to remember that there isn't much good in this life that comes without some kind of sacrifice. Even the grace that God gives us is there because of His sacrifice. Looking for the good in situations, the reward, and even God's perspective helps me to keep going.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yo Yo Days

Yesterday was a yo yo day. There were highs and there were lows. Some of the lows were close in time, making it even more stressful. Maybe things will be more even keeled someday, probably when I reach the ever elusive day when I'm organized.

Hubby is still feeling sick. He changed his pain medication around a bit in anticipation of the surgery. Of course, the medication that he can take now either doesn't work or makes him sleepy. Just a few more days!

I took Ms. D to finish her cognitive testing and was able to get some grocery shopping in while I waited. I timed it perfectly, and was back at the office ten minutes before she finished. So the high was I got the shopping done, and the low was that I am still grieving about Ms. D's testing. I'm relieved that they are finding things, but sad for what the results would mean. I'll also have to make a decision of what to tell the birth mom. That will be hard. How can you tell a mother that her child is developmentally delayed because of she drank while pregnant? It's not a very encouraging thing to hear, and Birthmom is going through even more than we are.

Ms. D found another dog while we were dog walking. She knew the owners, but they ended up not being home until well after dark which made it a bit difficult because Hubby won't allow dogs in the house. But it makes Ms. D happy to rescue dogs. She actually found a couple of other dogs down our street running around and put them inside their fence yesterday, so she got to rescue three dogs in one day.

Mr. I was overly excited about spending a couple of days with a friend. It made for some interesting behaviors. I was able to sew one of his shoes up to his satisfaction. That jerk dancing he likes to do is so hard on shoes! We just got the pair a month ago and they are already ripping! So even though Mr. I was a bit dysregulated, we got a break when he went to his friend's.

One daughter, who I won't name, locked the keys in the van last night. Fortunately we have AAA and so we called them this morning to open the door. It was actually a bit unsettling how fast the guy was able to break in the van, but I'm so glad that he was able to open it. We'll have to get another set of keys made soon. It would have been much easier, had we known where the spare keys were. The last time anyone saw the other keys it was a while ago in Ms. D's room.

We also found out, within minutes of the key problem, that Microbio Daughter's car will need a new engine. The repair will cost almost the worth of the car, but she decided today to fix it anyway, since most cars in her price range are even older and potentially more costly in future repairs. I'm glad we have a neighbor who is a mechanic we can trust. He thought it was worth it too.

We had my oldest son and his family over for dinner. They walked in with the baby just after the key and engine news. I guess I was stressed enough that Microbio Daughter could see it on my face. I do something with my mouth when stressed or deep in thought. Maybe I should see what it is and fix it, though it might be too scary!  But it was a good visit, despite my preoccupation with other things. I really enjoy it when I can see my grandson, and it was even nicer last night when they cleaned my refrigerator and kitchen. I hadn't deep cleaned the refrigerator since Thanksgiving. I didn't have time or energy (because of so many migraines) to do more than a quick pulling out of things here and there, so it was pretty bad. I was surprised at how quickly they were able to get things done. It was so wonderful!

So even though there were rough patches yesterday, it all ended well. The yo yo day ended on an upswing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Does it Take to Have a Good Life?

Today I'm thinking about what it takes to have a good life. Some would say enough money, a good job, a college education, a happy family, a moral lifestyle, good health, or a host of other things. And to have more stuff, a nicer house, a fancier car, and a more good looking spouse than our neighbors is even better! We push our children to do well in school, play sports, learn languages or an instrument, and more so that they can live a better life than we as parents have. I live in an area of the country where kids go to school and then go to tutoring right after so that they can be the best in their class. Tiger moms are everywhere!

This morning I had to take Ms. D to finish up her cognitive testing. I already wrote of how the therapist hinted that Ms. D's IQ is fairly low. I'll find out more later, though Ms. D mentioned that the testing was really hard and she totally sucked. Her words. I tried to encourage her by saying that questions like those are given to adults and they don't expect you to know all the answers. But deep down, I fear that because of the FAS, she's probably always going to struggle to learn, reason, and make good decisions. Will she have enough ability to live on her own? I don't know. I'll try to teach her as much as possible, but would she be able to make budgeting decisions? Would she be able to understand housing contracts? Hey, if I'm to be honest, I wonder if she would be victimized, struggle with addictions, or get pregnant as a teenager because she has difficulty making decisions. I'm doing my best to teach and guide her, but last year's issue with the birth family contact has really made me wonder if she'll be OK.

Although Ms. D has difficulty thinking abstractly or logically, she is gifted in other things. She is amazing with animals. I can see her working as a dog trainer, a dog groomer, or even a vet tech someday. She is wonderful with little children, and actually is even better taking care of them than many young mothers. She is a very hard worker, and sometimes cleans the house or does her homework without being asked to do it. She is a beautiful and loving daughter. So if having a good life is to have a job, she should do fine.

But even if she isn't able to hold down a job or live on her own, I still think it's possible for her to have a good life. Because I'm learning, through my kids, that having a good life is not about being richer, smarter, more "successful" than the next guy. It isn't being more morally superior and being able to follow all the rules to the tiniest principle. I'm learning that having a good life is knowing and loving God, loving others, and in turn, being loved by God and others. All the other accomplishments that we humans do are extras. They are gifts from God. They can bring joy to our lives. But those things aren't our purpose for living. They aren't why we are here.

There is purpose to every single life. And everyone, no matter the IQ, income, health, or anything else, has the ability to live a good life. Even my kids.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sista' Love

I have two sisters. No one can make me laugh longer, cry harder, or understand my background better than they can. They remember things that I've blocked from my memory, and have helped me to understand myself better. We've fought like cats, we've slept in the same room growing up, we even went to the same high school at the same time, which was when I really realized we were so close in age. We have such different personalities and adult life experiences, yet we share so many things.

One of my sisters called me last night because she was concerned for me and my family. While we were talking, I was in the middle of another migraine. Yes, I've had quite a few these past few weeks. It's a sign I'm getting a bit too stressed about all that's going on. The headache wasn't painful yet, but the other symptoms were there. Last night I even had to send Hubby to deliver some donated bread because the migraine symptoms make it difficult for me to drive. I drop things because I get clumsy, have vision problems, can't remember names of things, and headlights hurt.  You really don't want me on the road!

But one good thing came out of this headache. My sister was wondering why I get them and she doesn't.  I then told her about silent migraines, which have the symptoms of a migraine, but not the pain. Only about 1/4th of the migraines I get end up painful, but the rest can be almost as debilitating. If you want more info on silent migraines, click here. I didn't have migraine pain, yet had the other symptoms, including seeing pretty, flashy prisms, for years before I made the connection. Anyway, there are ways to treat migraines, and now my sister will be able to take care of herself better.

I'm so glad that even though we live in three different states, we can still be in contact and help each other. Because even a "little" thing like calling or a Facebook message is such a big thing and is such an encouragement. My sisters are awesome! I love them so much!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Hint of a Coming Diagnosis

Today was Ms. D's therapy appointment with Dr. A.  First, I went in and talked, and then it was Ms. D's turn. One of the things I needed to do was to observe Ms. D's interaction with peers. Well, until last night, when she went to a basketball game with a couple of friends, she hadn't been with friends in two weeks. One friend was grounded, another was gone for the Holidays, one who lives in the next town was busy, and ,of course, Ms. D was angry with a number of others. We couldn't even go to our homeschool park day because we didn't have a car. I was pretty worried that I'd have nothing to tell Dr. A. But last night I was finally able to see that Ms. D talked about the same as the other girl and seemed to interact pretty equally. Of course, Ms. D also sees her friends as being all black or white. When she's in friend mode she loves them, when she's angry with them she doesn't want to see or talk to them or about them.  Sometimes the anger or not talking sticks, other times I suddenly see her doing things with a girl she couldn't stand the day before. It's been hard for her to learn that people can sometimes do something that angers you, but you still can be polite.

Then Dr. A said something that didn't hit me at first, but is hitting me more as the day goes on. She said they have to finish the cognitive testing, but so far it looks like if Ms. D was still in school and was tested, she would qualify for an IEP due to IQ and probably wouldn't be in a regular classroom. Now, I've known Ms. D has FAS. I've known that she struggled in school. I know her weaknesses in learning, in remembering, and in thinking logically, because I help her with her school work every day. But to hear the confirmation was a bit shocking. Now I keep thinking things can change because Ms. D might have had a bad day last time and may do better Friday when she gets more testing, though deep down I suppose this is just hopeful thinking.

I was a bit shocked, though I shouldn't be.

So now I wonder if I should have pressed to get her tested when Ms. D was still in public school. I knew that kids with FASD often seem to understand more than they really do. I knew she had a difficult time in school and we had meetings with the teachers, psychologist, principal, and resource teacher, but they all discouraged doing anything other than work with the teacher until she was more than a year behind in schoolwork. Though on the other hand, if I had done the formal writing a request forcing them to test her and they found something, would she have been put in the special ed classroom? And what would that have done to her? Somehow, homeschooling her seems more humane. Lots of kids are homeschooled for many different reasons. But am I doing a good enough job? I think so, but how can I be sure she's learning as best she can? So I'm thinking of what I should do now to help her do well as an adult. I could sign her up with a private homeschool program for kids with special needs. I almost did that when I first homeschooled the kids. Maybe now it would be more important. And what about the regional center? I have no idea what they would do, but the question of whether she is getting services through the regional center pops up whenever we renew the adoption assistance. Would it be good to contact them now so that she can have services if she needs them when she is an adult?

So all these kind of things are swirling in my head, which are now added to my concerns about Hubby's surgery next week and a few other things going on. In a way, I'm grieving. So I think it's a good idea to stop worrying and start giving some of this to God. It's too much for me to handle alone.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Networking at the Hospital

 I spent the morning with Hubby at the hospital, going to his pre-op appointments to get ready for his surgery next week. It was good for me to hear first hand what was going to happen. And who we talked to when we were waiting for Hubby to get his blood drawn was absolutely amazing.

While we were sitting outside the lab, I started a conversation with a woman next to me. I can get pretty chatty while waiting around. She was taking a picture of a recipe in one of the magazines in the waiting area she then uploads the picture to her computer recipe file.  I told her that was such a great idea and I'll have to do that the next time I see an article or recipe I like. She told me that she was a baker and was going to open a bakery and vegetable market which uses local ingredients near our home next month. I can't wait until she opens, since there isn't anything like it nearby and I love the idea of fresh, local food.

So of course, we started to talk to her about trying to find a market for chocolate from Rama territory in Nicaragua. Hubby has a non profit, Progress Tools, and is beginning to work with people in Nicaragua to start small businesses there. Well, the woman we talked to has contacts with a number of chocolatiers in the area. This could be the small market for chocolate we've been praying for!  I don't think it was a coincidence that the woman sat next to us!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, today was the first day of homeschool after a long break and a hospital filled December. It wasn't too bad, considering it's also Monday. We went over most of the subjects, even if it was just a little. Ms. D couldn't find her math textbook, so she did a test instead. Hopefully she'll find it before tomorrow. Mr. I just had a few little meltdowns, but after a bit of therapeutic wrestling he calmed down. Nothing like a little physical activity and touch to work the crazies out! Of course, the kids forgot most of the things they had learned before break, but we are used to teaching and reteaching and reteaching, especially with Ms. D. There's no shame in going over the same stuff! That's one of the nice things about homeschooling a kid with FASD.

I wanted to put some new words to this song about getting back to the routine of homeschooling, but I need to get the cookies out of the oven for the meeting tonight.

21 Days

21 days.

That's how long it took for Birthmom to answer the calls and texts. She missed Christmas with the kids. She missed a New Year. The silence was really hurting Ms. D. So I texted Birthmom yesterday and told her we are praying for her. She finally called back! It's about time!

Of course, she is in the midst of moving. The landlord gave her a little extra time, yet she still hasn't found a place to go yet. So yesterday the birth family was moving things into storage. A big part of me wants to help, but when she called last night Hubby was in bed, resting from putting in the microwave. Physically he couldn't help anyone move, even Photography son who moved this weekend didn't get our help. And it would take a direct word from God to get me to go to that neighborhood after dark, especially without Hubby with me. So I listened to her and then just passed the phone to the kids so they could talk. I don't have the van during the day because Microbio Daughter needs it to get to work until her car is fixed. So I didn't offer to help them move today, even though they have to be out by this evening.

I feel kind of torn. Part of me wants to help, but without being able to plan ahead and because of the health and car problems we've had, it just isn't possible. I go back and forth between compassion and feeling annoyed that she just lets things slide until there is a crisis. I guess that's how I feel a lot of times with our relationship. I feel sorry for her that she lost her kids, yet other times I feel anger because of what she did to harm them, both before and after their birth. And as we get to know her again, this back and forth stuff keeps happening. I want to protect the kids, yet I want to show God's love to the birth family.

I really need a lot of wisdom in all of this, because it's just too hard to figure out myself.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No More Zappy Fire Action!

Hubby, with a little help from Microbio Daughter and me, installed our new microwave today!

Isn't it pretty?

It took a large part of the day, due to his illness, but Hubby did it! I'm so proud of him! And it saved us $100 to have it installed. Now we won't have that zappy thing happening when we try to nuke something. I don't have to try to put out small fires that the zappy thing caused sometimes. And the fan over the stove works, so I won't have to open doors and windows after someone accidentally forgets to turn the stove off and smokes the place up.

Thank you, Hubby!

Turning a Half Empty Glass into a Half Full One

Yesterday started out great. Our microwave oven was delivered. I was able to go with Hubby to a conference that was really encouraging. Microbio Daughter watched the kids for us which gave me a good respite time. (For those of you who have kids from hard places, you understand how needed it is to have a break from 24-7 therapeutic parenting.) I was a bit tired from weeks of not quite enough good sleep due to Hubby's tossing and getting up in the middle of the night because of pain, but felt happy and contented.

But when I came home, the kids were dysregulated because we were gone all day. Our neighborhood was also swarmed with the bomb squad, police, and fire trucks because of a package in the mail truck. Was it a chemical bomb? Fireworks? Who knows. The rumors varied wildly. But even more so, our kids' minds were going even more wildly. We also had an armed robbery of a neighborhood bank Thursday, which was also discussed in the neighborhood, so the kids were not feeling safe. Take a couple of kids with traumatic backgrounds, add the parents gone for the day, add the excitement of the emergency vehicles, add Hubby going to a different church in the evening to see a pastor from Juarez, Mexico, add the wrong time of month for Ms. D, and the result is two kids who were pretty out of it. I had also found out that a meeting Monday to discuss what to do with kids during church gatherings is the same evening that I have to help lead a homeschool meeting.  What makes it upsetting is that I know my own kids' behavior at meetings is part of the problem and it would have been really good for me to be there. Any other Monday in the month would work for me. I felt like I had no voice, that people didn't listen, and that was getting me down.

So anyway, I decided to take the two dysregulated kids to church. They didn't want to go. When they got there, Mr. I holed up in the corner, used my phone and glared at me the whole time. Ms. D was draped all over me, telling me every now and then that her stomach hurt and that she wanted to go home.  It's hard to take them anywhere when they are moody like that, and it was even harder without Hubby around to help. And then, after listening to someone complain about something and worrying about the kids' behavior, I started to get a migraine.

My glass was half empty.

I needed it to get half full.

So how do I change a half empty glass to a half full one? I need to think of the blessings. I need to be thankful for what I have, not be resentful because of what I don't have. I need to have hope that God is in control and things will get better.

So here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this morning:

I'm thankful for my family. They are so awesome, and have done so much for each other and me.
I'm thankful for my new stove and microwave. I don't have to worry about kitchen fires or explosions.
I'm thankful that the bomb threat wasn't serious and for the emergency personnel who keep us safe.
I'm thankful for heat, water, and electricity that work almost constantly.
I'm thankful for being able to homeschool and worship in freedom.
I'm thankful for friends and neighbors who have supported me and have shown kindness.
I'm thankful for transportation, cars that run, and when they don't we can have them repaired.
I'm thankful for more than enough food.
I'm thankful for medical help for our family.
I'm thankful that Hubby has such an awesome job that he enjoys and that pays the bills.
I'm thankful for the freedom to write and say things on this blog.
I'm thankful that God is in control, for His love, and for His provision.

Ah...I'm feeling better already!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Being a Blessing

Today I went to a conference put on by my church. Brian Burton, and Englishman who lives in Thailand, spoke and awesome message on being a blessing to the nations. He had a lot of cool God stories, of how ordinary people do extraordinary things by blessing people, getting to know people, ministering to their felt needs and then sharing the gospel. He worked for years trying to get people into his church. But when the tsunami came his church turned into a makeshift hospital, he changed his thinking to bring the church to the people and release ordinary people to be ministers of the Gospel. And since then, thousands have been blessed and thousands have come to God. He and the Christians of Thailand have built a hospital, schools, and even a village. And even the government leaders have responded to the way the Christians have blessed the nation. It was very encouraging to me.

Now God usually talks to me in a theme. I read things, I hear a speaker, someone mentions something, etc, all in a short period of time. This week is no different. I just wrote about a book, The Grace Effect, that had a theme of how Christianity affects a culture and is a blessing to even those who don't know God. And today I go to a conference that encouraged us to be a blessing to those we come in contact, our leaders, and our city, our nation, and the world. Do you see a connection?

I have been doing quite a bit to be a blessing, though I can always do more. I do pray for others, that God will bless them, whether or not they are a Christian. But the thing that is hitting me right now is to believe in a deeper way that God will do more than I expect through these efforts. Sometimes I can get in a rut of doing good and being a blessing to others but not expect much fruit. It's kind of like praying for hundreds of people but not expecting God to heal them. I need to expect that God will do what He says, that I can really make a difference in people's lives, and that they will be able to bless others as they are blessed. I need to think bigger. Because God has a lot of love to give, and He uses little people like me to show others His great, big Love.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Book!

Last night I was babysitting my little grandson. We had a great time playing, wrestling, and enjoying each other.

After I put him to bed, I was able to finish a book that Hubby bought and read. It was The Grace Effect by Larry Alex Taunton. The subtitle is "How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief".  It is an adoption story, but so much more. Interweaved with Taunton's family's story of adopting a ten year old girl from the Ukraine, he discusses how Christianity affects a culture, and how it's absence affects the treatment of the poor, the orphans, and the old. Taunton did an awesome job in this book in being able to write about theological issues and grace, yet interweaving their family's journey in such a way to keep me interested. Yes, he writes of their adoption, but it's much broader than that. He was able to show how even though we aren't a Christian nation, we are influenced by Christianity, and that influence benefits everyone, whether they are Christian or not.  God blesses us with a common grace. He also compares how our culture, with it's Christian influence, treats it's poor, old, and orphans, and how a totally atheistic culture treats theirs. His story highlights the differences.

The Grace Effect impacted me on so many levels. I think this book is another one that will be passed around quite a bit among my family and friends.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Play, Self Regulation, and FASD

I've got a few different things swirling around in my brain, and I'm starting to see a connection.

The first thing is a NPR article that a friend posted this morning about the importance of free, non-adult-directed play in the development of children, Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills : NPR. I was feeling pretty good about how I instinctively let my children, and my older kids especially, to have lots of play time when they could use their imaginations. I limited their extra curricular activities to one at a time until they were in high school and I made sure they had plenty of time just to play. The reasons were because we lived in the country for much of this time, the realities of having a large family and if each child had multiple activities we'd be in the car most of the day, we didn't have a ton of extra money for lessons, and because we did not have a TV. Other people around me were carting kids to music lessons, sports, drama, swimming, tutoring, art class, etc. Sometimes I felt like my kids were missing out, but just the thought of all that running around tired me out! After reading this article, and seeing that play increases executive functioning, I feel better. Maybe I was actually doing my kids a favor by letting them play and use their imaginations.

One paragraph in the article kind of worries me about my younger kids, though.

Sad because self-regulation is incredibly important. Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn. As executive function researcher Laura Berk explains, "Self-regulation predicts effective development in virtually every domain."

Why would this worry me? Because FASD affects executive functioning, decision making, problems solving, self regulation, etc. http://www.come-over.to/FAS/FASbrain.htm

The final thing that's swirling around my brain right now is that the therapist asked me to see how Ms. D plays or spends time with other kids. The more I am thinking about it, the more I'm realizing that both my kids play differently than others. And so I'm watching, learning, and trying to piece all of this together. There's a connection here, I think, but I don't have it all figured out. It might be an interesting study for someone to investigate the relationship between FASD and play. Or maybe a study on what increases executive functioning in kids with FASD. What would help my kids? What would help other kids with FASD?

I guess in the meantime, I'll just do what feels right for my family and what I think God wants us to do. Ultimately, that's what each parent ends up doing anyway. I'm constantly learning, adapting, and changing how I raise each child. Each child is different. Each life circumstance is different. And that's what makes parenting messy, unpredictable, joyful, difficult, wonderful and very exciting!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Strawberries in January

I was getting a little overwhelmed with a bunch of stuff this afternoon. I took Hubby to an appointment this morning where he was injected with a dye that made his blood vessels glow, given a diuretic, and then told to drink a lot. Now this would be uncomfortable for anyone, but to someone whose ureter is constricted, it was very painful. So when I took him home, we went pretty much straight to bed with one of the big pain pills and is sleeping the rest of the day away. Now a nap would have been good for me, since Hubby woke up extra early this morning due to the excitement of the procedure, and cut off an hour or so of badly needed sleep for me.  But then a friend called. She's going through so much more than I am, if you can believe that! While I was walking with Ms. D, I gave the neighbor who lost her dad last week a hug when I saw her. What makes it hard for the neighbor is that the hospital was neglectful and never checked him for what was causing his pain. I also found out that the grandfather of our friend in Nicaragua died. Other friends and neighbors are going through a lot right now, job loss, illness, etc. And added to all this, I wasn't feeling well, which lowers my capacity to give out. But I still couldn't rest because I needed to go grocery shopping.

While shopping, I realized that I was taking on too much of the burden for those I love. Yes, I need to pray for them and love them, but then I need to let God take care of the rest. Now that's kind of hard for a mom type like me. But I'm not made to carry the weight of the world, the sorrow, the injustice, the pain. Being overwhelmed myself isn't going to help anyone!

So then, when I was at the farmer's market, I decided to look for some things I can be thankful for. And right away I saw it! Fresh, local strawberries in January!!!

While some people are getting an Arctic blast, I am walking in the sunshine in shirtsleeves. While they are getting produce shipped across the country, I'm eating lettuce, oranges, and strawberries grown less than 50 miles away, some of it from our front yard. Yes, we have a lot of crazy new laws to deal with, not everything is going as well as I would hope, but there still are a lot of blessings. And that's where I need to keep my heart focused.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's All in the Perspective

Today I'm thinking about how all the things in our lives can be seen as either good or bad depending on our perspective.

We found out today that Microbio Daughter's car engine blew a head gasket and will cost about $1500 to fix it. At first I was feeling bad because she offered to pay for the repair. As a mom, I would rather go deeper into debt than to see our kids have to go without. But she reminded me that she had the money in the bank. It was to be in case she needed a down payment for a place if she got a job away from home, but her job near us is pretty secure. She'll be able to slowly save more over time and repairing the car is a lot cheaper than having to get a new used one. She also reminded me that she is an adult and can afford to fix the car. It really was OK. You see, my perspective at first was to protect my baby from any harm. But the better perspective is that this is a chance for my daughter to take responsibility as an adult and take care of things.

I had a great walk (5 miles!) this morning with a fellow adoptive mom. Her daughters, whom she adopted from Russia, are adults and living together in an apartment now. They are going to college and have jobs, but they have struggles. I just finished a book yesterday called A Mountain of Crumbs about a girl who grew up in Russia, and am now reading a book called The Grace Effect by Larry Alex Taunton. In the first book I got a better understanding of life under the Soviets. The second book is written by a man who adopted a girl from the Ukraine and he explains how a godless society is so bad, especially for orphans. I'm not finished with it yet, but I can already see from reading these two books that my friend did an awesome thing in rescuing her two daughters from a horrible life. Most girls who come out of orphanages in Russia become prostitutes. So in one perspective, her daughters may not be living a life to their full potential or in a way their mom would hope, but in another perspective, they have a chance here. In one perspective, my friend may wonder whether she did enough to raise the girls well enough. But in another perspective, she did an awesome job. The young women are doing so much better than what could have been, with their probable fetal alcohol exposure, neglect, abuse, and who knows what they endured in the orphanage and before.

And then this afternoon I was chatting on the computer with a friend from Rama Cay, Nicaragua. His family were about to go the hour plus boat ride to Bluefields to pick up his grandfather and take him home to Rama Cay, probably to die. My friend also asked how our family was doing. I told him that Hubby was going into the doctor tomorrow to get more tests on his kidney. This is in preparation for the surgery on the 19th. Now my Rama friend's perspective is that surgery is dangerous. He is so worried about Hubby. Our perspective is that we can't wait for the surgery! It will bring relief to the symptoms that Hubby has been living with for a long time and have been getting worse the past few weeks. We think of hospitals as places to get better. My friend thinks of hospitals as places you only go if all else fails. We know our hospitals are well stocked, our doctors and nurses excellent, and expect the care to be the best. Their hospitals are the opposite. My house is better stocked than most clinics! I found myself having a difficult time trying to show my friend that we have a completely different perspective on the surgery. Yes, we love prayers, but we aren't going in this with fear.

So when I start to get fearful, when I start to wonder whether I'm raising my kids right, when I make decisions, when I think of who to help and how, when I really do, say, or even think anything, I need to have the right perspective, really, the perspective that God has, since He sees things we can't see. One perspective leads to peace, joy, thankfulness, and love. The perspective that isn't right leads to fear, anger, envy, and selfishness. Sometimes it's hard to find the right perspective, but if I were to have a New Year's goal, I think it would be to try to discern what God's perspective is in each situation I come across in 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! 2012

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone made it safe home last night.

This year is off to an interesting start.

I'm woke up feeling much better, but Blackbelt Daughter has the virus now. Wish we could have left the virus in 2011, but in a large family we share just about everything, including viruses. Of course, we share good things too. Photography son just called offering a car for Microbio Daughter to borrow until hers gets fixed. Her car broke down this morning on Hwy. 85 on the way to church. Dad rescued her and hopefully the cost of the car fix doesn't exceed the worth of the car.

Birthdad called Ms. D last night to wish her a Happy New Year. He said he was able to get in contact with Birthmom, who is at her boyfriend's house. Birthmom had told him that she called Ms. D yesterday. Umm...No.  I even checked our phones in case we missed a call. No. Nothing since the week Ms. D was in the hospital. At least we know where Birthmom's at, she's not in jail, though it would be nice to have even an answered text. Ms. D doesn't want to talk about it, but I know it must hurt. It has to.

This morning I looked in the mirror and was completely fed up with my hair so I cut about 2 1/2 inches straight across. I might over the next few days fiddle with it here and there, maybe layering a bit, but this is good enough for now. My hair has enough wave in it to hide mistakes. It was actually harder for me to get a picture of myself. This one has weird lighting, but at least it gets my whole head in. I don't know if I'll ever get as good at taking pictures of myself with my phone as my kids. I am Mrs Ungeek, after all!
New Year DIY Haircut