Friday, March 30, 2012


We got a couple of bee packages yesterday. Hubby picked them up while I took care of Grandson.

I didn't know how he'd handle Grandpa in a bee suit, but Grandson thought it was pretty fun!

Then Hubby went on the roof to put the bees in their new homes.

I think the bee boxes are a pretty interesting way to transport the girls. The box contains some food and a special little container for the queen. Do you see how they crowd around her?

After putting the queen container into the hive, Hubby poured the rest of the bees in after her. I hope they like their new homes.

I haven't been too concerned about bees in our yard stinging us or the neighbors. Honey bees tend to be pretty docile and don't normally sting unless provoked. Some of them were even loose in the car and in our house yesterday as Hubby was transporting them and didn't bother us at all. Unfortunately, the baby next door was stung by a bee this morning. Though we don't have the only bees in the neighborhood, the neighbors across the street have them in their walls, it might have been one of ours. I think the ones that didn't make it into the hive last night were probably pretty upset. Hopefully we won't have any more incidents. I really like having our own honey.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

After the growth of the last two days, we've had a bit of regression. Me too!

It actually started last night when I wouldn't let Ms. D bring a neighbor cat in for the night. Too many of us have allergies to cats to have one of our own. It was raining, and Ms. D thought it was so cruel to leave it outside. She has been giving it a lot of attention lately, giving it snacks and sneaking it into her room. But it's our neighbor's cat, not ours. The cat is well fed, friendly, and though it spends a lot of time outside, it is well cared for. If the cat went home, I'm sure it would be brought inside. But in her mind they aren't doing a good enough job and the cat likes her, so she should be able to have it.

And I am sure paying for it today. Ms. D has been disrespectful, moody, and has refused to do her schoolwork. I am fighting a cold, so I didn't handle her behaviors very well this morning. The combination of Ms. D's behaviors and my grumpiness rubbed off on Mr. I. The worst part for me was when they played the God card and said they don't believe in God or the Bible. Mr. I quickly retracted the statement, but Ms. D knew that her unbelief would cut me deeper than just about anything else. She knows what hurts and is not afraid to use it to get what she wants, which is a cat or dog.

I read a blog today from another adoptive mom of kids with FASD. She wrote about the toddler rules of possession that people with FASD struggle with here and here. I think part of the problem is that both kids struggle with impulse control and ownership issues (others would call it stealing), probably caused by FASD. My kids have grown considerably in this area, but it still pops up from time to time, usually within the family. Ms. D wants the cat, so she feels like she should have it. It doesn't matter that we can't have a cat because of allergies or that the cat has an owner that is taking reasonable care of it. She wants it, so she should have it, and I'm being terribly mean to not let her have it or bring it inside.

As I'm writing this, I am realizing that there also might be something deeper. I don't know if she can verbalize it, but I'm wondering if there might be some adoption issues going on here too. Just like we got the kids after they were neglected, maybe she feels she should be able to take in a cat that she feels is neglected. She might also be wondering why would I make her stop taking care of the cat at our house because it has another family. Is she thinking I might do the same with her, now that she found her birth family? Or is she resentful that she can't go back to her first family where she feels she belongs?

So I need a lot of wisdom here. I talked to the kids about showing respect, even if they don't agree with someone in authority, but I wonder how I can talk to Ms. D about some of these other things, like faith, responsibility, and adoption. It's hard enough with teenagers, but it's even harder with a girl with FASD, MR, and a bit of RAD.

Sometimes parenting is pretty hard and scary.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Growth

If I were to choose two words that best describe the past two days, they would be new growth.

I checked on the peas today before it started to rain again, and they are almost four inches high. They are doing well, considering how I've neglected my garden this winter. The birds got to them a little, but not as much as in past years. 

Because Black Belt Daughter is on spring break, I was able to go to a prayer meeting yesterday morning for our house church. I was wondering if I would have much to give, since I have felt pretty dry spiritually the past few months. But as we prayed for some women about to travel to lead a retreat, I found I was able to listen and pray pretty well. It felt good to be moving in the right direction, since I've felt pretty stuck in so many ways lately.

Later yesterday I took the kids to the dentist. Though Mr. I was a bit dysregulated in the morning, he was awesome during the cleaning and exam. He even swished the fluoride in his mouth! That's a big deal. A really big deal! This is the same kid who jumped off the chair in the middle of a filling a couple of years ago. We had to come back with Hubby later to finish the process. Mr. I has a great fear of dentists, so to sit still and follow directions are signs of growth. 

Then in the evening, Hubby and I had left for a meeting and the kids did well with Microbio Daughter in charge.  That we were able to leave the kids after a dentist visit, and have good behavior, is a sign of great growth. 

We got some food to deliver at the meeting, and after that popped in at Birthmom's house unannounced. It was the end of the month, so she was so happy to get the food. Once again, all my fears of feeling angry at her vanished as soon as I saw her. I am growing in my ability to love Birthmom and to forgive her. One of her cousins came in and so Birthmom gave her some food and told the cousin that God is so good to provide for them. We prayed for her and then she prayed for us. Birthmom even seems to be growing too!

Today I took the kids to see the Hunger Games. I never know how they will respond to a film. But this time they did well and were pretty regulated afterwards. Sometimes even children's movies would be too stimulating for them and they would act out. But today they were calm and happy. Wow! More growth!

This evening Hubby and I delivered more food and were gone for a couple of hours. When we came back, Mr. I was trying to make a crepe with Nutella for a snack. He made the crepe himself and flipped it over without help! Usually he doesn't do it right and then gets frustrated. But not tonight! That he calmly made something that is really pretty difficult, and did it with a good attitude on a night I wasn't here, shows awesome growth!

Growth doesn't always happen in a steady manner. Sometimes there are plateaus or even a little going backwards. I've surely done that before! But after such a long season of difficulties, it is good to see the growth in me and in others. I am so thankful that we don't have to always have the same problems and that we can grow.  It gives me hope for the future, both in my own life, in the life of my kids, and in others.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Today was a day of peace.

It must have been by the grace of God that it was calm, because there were plenty of potential triggers. Ms. D had a friend overnight, so she didn't have quite enough sleep. Mr. I was also a bit sleep deprived and started to get a little dysregulated a few times during the day. But those times were very short lived.

Just before bed Mr. I needed to have some laundry done. He told me he could do it, but when I came in to check on him, there were a couple things that needed correction or teaching. I asked him if he put the dried clothes in the basket and he said yes. Then I noticed that he only put a few clothes into the washer.  I asked him what we could do to be good to the earth. He told me that we could put more clothes in the washer. I could see that he was a bit put off that I would correct him, and he got a bit more upset when I started to take clothes out of the hamper and put them in the water. Why? Because that's where he put the clean clothes. I calmly told him that that's where dirty clothes go, not clean clothes. The clean laundry goes in the laundry basket after they are dried. Normally this situation, which wouldn't be a problem with a neuro-typical kid, would send Mr. I into a tailspin. But this time he controlled himself and went to the bathroom for a few minutes to cool off. He then was able to come to me for his bedtime prayer and snuggle a little bit.

I've been a bit worried for Ms. D the past few days. A girl in our local high school has been missing for a bit over a week. I've tried to talk to Ms. D about keeping safe and how we need to protect her. Unfortunately, she hasn't wanted to talk about it. But she did smile when I told her that Hubby checked up on her while she was out with a friend so that she could be safe.

It's hard to communicate how pleasantly surprised I am that the kids have done so well today and how peaceful I feel. It isn't a typical day, though it is how I'd like it to be more often. The peacefulness in our home today has truly been a gift.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Busytown and Grace

Today I felt like a part of Busytown by Richard Scarry. It was one of my oldest son's favorite books when he was a little guy, probably because it was filled with animals doing everyday jobs and activities. He enjoyed seeing many things going on at once and it was all portrayed in a humorous way. It truly was a busy town, and like it, I had a really busy day!

It actually started the night before when I realized that time flew much too quickly while we were reading and waiting for the boys to all settle down. I didn't get to bed until after midnight. Normally, because I am a morning person, I don't need an alarm clock. But if I do, I just use my phone. I needed to leave the house at 7:30 am to get to a homeschool meeting, but I forgot my phone in another room until after I was all warm and snug in bed. So instead of getting up to set the alarm, I thought I'd just wake up on my own. You can imagine what happened then. Yes, I kept waking up to check the time every hour or so. So I didn't start the day very rested.

I made it to the homeschool leaders meeting in good time. I'm glad I went, because it helped me to see that I co-lead and awesome group. The name of our group has grace in it, and it describes our group so well. Most of us have kids with special needs, and would be discouraging to go to a group where type A moms teach their kids Latin in kindergarten. We give each other grace, room to be real, and lots of prayer and support for each other. It's really been a lifeline to me, and I think others have appreciated it as well.

From there I went to the grocery store to pick up things for two potlucks. Then it was over the Santa Cruz Mountains to go to a friends birthday and housewarming. I am so happy for her. It is a beautiful home in a woodsy, country feeling area that is just a short walking distance to a small town. I enjoyed the get together today, though I was at first a bit leery of all the therapist friends that were there. I wonder if I'm the only one who gets a little intimidated by a roomful of therapists. Are they analyzing me? I probably would! Fortunately, her friends are transparent and full of grace. I really had a good time.

Then it was time to travel a few miles down the coast to our Celebration Gathering for church. Once a month the house churches in our network get together and have a time of food, worship, testimonies, teaching, and more. Hubby came with the kids and a friend in the van and met me there. I hadn't seen the kids since the night before, so Mr. I was really happy to see me. They were all in one piece and survived a day without mom. Good job, Hubby! Oh, and guess what our pastor taught about? Grace! Well, more specifically, how Jesus came to bring grace and truth, and how we need to share about God like that.

I was pretty tired after all that, so I drove back over the mountains in the rain with the kids. I didn't have a banana mobile like the gorilla in Busytown, but I drove our little Prius, all the while thinking about how it had been a very busy day.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Have No Idea What to Title This


The last two days were a whirlwind of activity followed by a relatively peaceful evening.

Yesterday we had Grandson over in the evening. He was totally cute and peaceful, despite the fussiness before his mom and dad left him with us for a couple of hours. Yes, even a toddler can be a good actor. When mom was around he only wanted her, but when she left he was happy with the rest of us. I'm so glad that he is attached to her though, since I know what it's like when a child is unattached and has RAD. He's learning some pretty good lessons now that will help him to live a happier live. I no longer underestimate the importance of the early years in learning how to love others and accepting other's love.

Grandpa Showing Grandson a Tree
Looking at a Jet, a Vulture, and a Bunch of Sea Gulls
Grandson and His Daddy
Today I took Ms. D back to the doctor. She was complaining of the same symptoms, had abdominal pain, and was very sleepy. The doctor felt like she was coming down with a flu that is going around, so the visit was a waste of time and money. But at least I didn't have to hear many more complaints after that. Ms. D can really obsess with the tiniest symptom, like an enlarged lymph node, and doesn't really believe me when I tell her it's something we can handle at home. I guess her birth mom is the same way. It's interesting how certain behaviors seem almost genetic.

We also went grocery shopping in the next town and met Microbio Daughter for lunch. On the way back, we passed by the place where a teenage girl disappeared last week. She went to the high school that the neighbor kids attend, and the girls picture was pasted all over the neighborhood. When we walked the dogs I thought I could talk to Ms. D about her feelings about all of this, but she wasn't in the mood for talking. I don't know if it's because she wasn't feeling well, or if it's too hard for her to talk about it. I'll try again when she feels better. I know it must be on her mind, yet it's hard to know to what extent. And I can  also use this as a way to teach the kids how to be safer, since both have made some pretty unsafe decisions lately.

This afternoon, I went to a woman's home in our house church for a prayer time. It was so good to get together with other women and receive support and prayers. At first I didn't think much had happened this week, but then I realized that the eighteen year old relative coming for a surprise visit, illness, and getting the report for Ms. D's cognitive assessment had all happened since we last met Saturday! Things that happened a week ago seem like a month, and a month seems like two. If I don't have things on my calendar, I lose track of time. I'm so glad to have my phone calendar with me most of the time. I think I'd miss a lot of appointments and important dates if I didn't have it.

When I came home from prayer, Microbio Daughter finished cooking supper and I was able to sit to a nice hot meal. I found out Hubby told Mr. I he could have some friends sleep here. They had plans spend the night outside and were pretty upset when I told them no, it was too cold and rain was coming. So now there are four boys staying up too late in one small room. I'm going to a meeting early in the morning so hopefully they will do Ok while I'm gone. I'm letting Hubby take care of things.

I did have a relaxing evening. Hubby is reading and I've been reading and goofing off on the computer. It's nice to have some down time after such a busy day and week. Tomorrow is full with a  meeting, a party, and church. Well, that's if nothing else comes up. I plan, but I have to be flexible. You never know what may happen next!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back to the Doctor

Today we went back to the doctor because Ms. D had some symptoms that I wasn't sure could be treated at home. It turned out to be something else that was probably caused by the antibiotics from her strep throat.  I won't say any more because I tend to get all geeky when it comes to medical stuff. Three years of nursing school and having relatives in the medical field really desensitized me. I have to be careful not to give too much information and cause someone else to lose their lunch. Yes, it's happened before!

Hospitals used to be an exciting place for me. I am amazed at how intricately and wonderfully we are made. The human body is so awesome! I love to help people in the healing process. If I hadn't fostered and adopted the kids, I would have gone back to nursing school. But lately, probably because of all the illness and hospital stays the past few months, I haven't been as happy to be around that place. A couple of days ago, as I was passing by the hospital in the evening, I even had a slight panic attack.

I'm also avoiding looking at Ms. D's cognitive report. I quickly read through it when I got it two mornings ago, but have not looked at it since. I really need to copy it and send it to the regional center, and also go to the medical records department and get her health records sent. But I've just been "too busy". Deep down, I know I'm procrastinating because I'm emotionally not quite ready. My little panic attack later that night is probably related to getting the report.

The cognitive assessment was actually pretty accurate. I realize now that I had been minimizing or explaining away certain behaviors. I've attributed certain difficulties in learning to her being stressed, distracted, or because of her past. They do probably have an effect on her learning, but aren't the sole cause of the learning problems. I've been paying more attention to how she talks to others, and I've noticed some differences between her and other girls her age, which explains why she has such stormy relationships with her friends.

I'm still grieving, but it's hard to grieve when the kids are awake. So instead I've been busying or distracting myself. But in the end I need to get to a place where I let go of what could have been, and enjoy the beautiful and sweet daughter who is such a precious gift. I need to love her for who she is, and not concentrate on her weaknesses. Not many relationships can survive the habit of looking at all the imperfections in the other person. I know one of the strengths in our marriage is that we give our spouse grace and enjoy the strengths of the other person, rather than nit picking at each other's weaknesses. I sure have plenty of faults! It's a bit harder to do this when teaching and raising kids, because I do have a responsibility to train and guide them into adulthood. But there is a balance. I don't think I have the wisdom to find that balance, but it does and will make me more and more dependent on Him, who has all wisdom.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This afternoon we have Grandson over. You'd never know he is going through a separation anxiety phase, unless you saw him with his mommy just before she left. I remember when I wouldn't believe that my kids were just fine after I left them with their grandma. I thought she was just saying they were fine to make me feel better.  I wonder if my daughter-in-law thinks the same. But now I have proof!

Grandson and His Auntie

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mr. I's Turnaround

Mr. I started the day on the wrong side of the bed. He fussed. He picked on his sister. He gave plenty of bad looks while I was trying to teach him. He even swore a little bit when I told him we'd pick up a neighbor kid.

Then I *made* him help us walk the dogs. Mr. I was not happy.

Until we saw a butterfly and I gave Mr. I my phone to take pictures.

He took pictures of the butterfly. He took pictures of flowers.

 I took a picture of Mr. I in a field of flowers.

 And Mr. I took more pictures of flowers, this time throwing them in the air.

 He climbed a cherry tree and took more pictures.

Mr. I was happier after that. At least he was happier until I left him this evening to go to my homeschool moms group. But Hubby took them out for frozen yogurt and had a good time of talking about keeping the kids safe. So while I got some social interaction and a focus on giving my burdens to God, one of my main concerns was being taken care of at home. We'll sure need a lot of help from God to keep these kids safe. I sure can't raise them alone!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Enlisting the Help of Birthmom

Today we enlisted Birthmom's help. We didn't prepare her ahead of time, but she did well. Sometimes help comes from unexpected places.

Ms. D and Mr. I had met an 18 yo young man last week through one of Ms. D's slightly older friends. He said he was a second cousin related to an uncle they didn't know.  Ms. D, in her thinking, immediately trusted the guy (family first!) and invited him over to meet me this afternoon. I was on the sofa not feeling well, and Hubby was out delivering bread to some people we know in need. That's when the kids bring in this young man. Mr. I went out to play with his friends and Ms. D busied herself with a little cousin who was here. So I asked the guy to sit down and chat. He seemed nice enough, but there were some red flags. He had parked his car a street down and walked over. He had a bit of a surprised look when I was able to work into the conversation that Ms. D was only 13 and younger than his kid sister. My kids were shooting me odd looks like I'd better accept him or they'd go behind my back again. I couldn't figure out why this 18 year old guy would come alone, unannounced, just to meet some younger kids in the extended family. Was he wanting to go out Ms. D?  Was he casing our place out? I don't know. So I pretended like I was doing something on my phone and took his picture. We chatted for a bit. I apologized for not being more hospitable, but I wasn't feeling well. And after about ten minutes, he left.

I couldn't figure out at first what to do. Hubby was gone. The kids are overly trusting and think the birth family would never harm them. They don't know the danger that some of the family members pose, even though a number of them are awaiting trial for murder. The kids continually dismiss our warnings about signs of gang activity in the family. They believe everything people in that family say. I need to at least know who the people are, how I can reach them, and what dangers there are so I can keep the kids safe.

Of course, Hubby and I don't know anything. The kids *know* that they are safe with family. Family First!!!

A little bit later I thought of an idea of how to protect the kids. It was a pretty big chance because the warning needed to come from someone in the birth family in order for Ms. D to believe it. Hubby was going to drop some bread and the little cousin at Birthmom's house a little later in the day. So I asked him to show Birthmom the young man's picture and see if she knew who he was and what he was like.  I was a bit concerned because Birthmom has been very stressed lately and Ms. D was already angry with her. Birthmom had a bit of an anxiety attack in church last night and offended Ms. D. She doesn't understand why her birth mom would act the way she did.  I wasn't sure if Ms. D would even listen to her if she was still angry. I didn't have a chance to rehearse with or talk to Birthmom before Hubby talked about the situation with the man.  But if she could be on our team to help Ms. D to be more cautious with people, even if they say they are family, we will all be ahead.

And that's just what happened! Birthmom didn't really know the man. She thought he could have been related, there are so many people in her family, but she didn't recognize him in the picture. And she and Ms. D's older sister both cautioned Ms. D to not be so trusting of everyone who says they are family. They wanted her to be safe too. They did so well!

I heard it was an emotional time for Ms. D. When she came home I was still on the couch, so Ms. D draped herself on me and started to have seizures.

But I think it worked. Thanks, Birthmom!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Homemade Chocolate

Blackbelt Daughter asked to make some chocolate this evening with her boyfriend and Hubby. They had fun trying out different additions. I can't wait to see how our first homemade batch turns out.

Here is a picture of me at the chocolate class a couple of weeks ago.


Today Mr. I was stretched.  I told him that we would drop off a couple of things off at Grandson's house and then go to a Costco that he'd never been to before. The first part was OK, but the second? The thought of going to a new store sent him spinning. He talked fast about nothing in particular, had a hard time concentrating, and he kept changing his mind about whether he wanted to go or not. He really wanted to see Grandson; he adores his nephew. Yet the places we normally grocery shop were in the opposite direction. With gas so expensive, I didn't want to change plans and drive an extra 25 miles just because Mr. I was uncomfortable. I left it up to him to stay home with Hubby or come with me. He had a hard time making a decision, but he finally decided to come.

First we visited a bit with Grandson.

Then we went to Costco to get some groceries and something for the kids to eat. The strange Costco. The Costco that Mr. I became so dysregulated about visiting. Yes, that one.

The kids were too hungry to wait until I was done shopping. It was past lunchtime and they hadn't eaten much else earlier in the day. We had run out of what they wanted to eat, so they refused to eat a full meal for breakfast. I must not be the only mom to have almost full cupboards yet still hear kids complain there is *nothing* to eat. But since I really did have a time in my life when there was nothing to eat but mustard and spices when I came home hungry after school, I have little sympathy for their complaints.

So I gave them a choice that made them s.t.r.e.t.c.h even further. I said they could get something at the food court and meet me in the other part of the store if they didn't want to wait. They did it! Mr. I and Ms. D did a good job too! They returned the change to me when they found me. They smiled and were happy, even offering to help. Mr. I overcame his fear and behaved in a responsible way! Since then he's been regulated, happy, and content. I'm so glad he had this opportunity to grow.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting Better

Thank you, God, for the things you sometimes give us and sometimes you don't give us, but we still like you anyway.

This quote is from an awesome little guy, Owen, who I think is about four years old. Of course, sometimes it takes a child to show us the obvious. We don't always get what we want, but we need to be thankful for everything we do get, and not get all mad at God when things don't seem to go our way. It's so simple, but how many times do I fall short? 

Part of my anger yesterday was the apparent cluelessness of yet another expert who minimizes the effect of alcohol on a developing brain. Part of me was acting like a mama bear, wanting the best for my kids. But when I really searched my heart, I realized that part of my anger was how inadequate I feel to raise these kids. So the guy's nonverbal and verbal responses felt like an attack on me and my ability to teach my kids and make educational decisions for them, rather than his enthusiasm for his job. And when he asked me if I prayed for my kids, I was angry that he would even ask that question, like we have neglected our children by not praying for them. But if I am truthful, I must say that I have also been a bit angry that God hasn't healed the kids as much as I would like. Yes, I get angry at God sometimes. 

So to put my mind on the good things, and not become bitter, I am going to list a few things I'm thankful for tonight.

1. Wonderful friends who scrape me off the floor of discouragement and hurt and help me to get back on my feet.

2. Hubby and I got to spend some time this evening with Photographer Son and his sweet wife and silly kitty. They also fed us some homemade pho. Yummy! I am thankful for another date night with Hubby. I am so thankful that my older kids are all doing well and love God. 

3. The freedom to homeschool my kids. Though it's been hard, they are learning at their own pace. They even worked a little on their online schoolwork while I was gone this evening without me asking them to do it. 

4. This afternoon I got to finish a book, The Hunger Games, and it only took me a couple days. We are passing it around among the adults in the family. I love to be able to read and I'm realizing that I can read more now without the kids acting up. This is a *big* accomplishment in our family. 

5. The younger kids still have issues, like Mr. I is still awake at 11 p.m. and can't fall asleep, but they have overcome so much. They are really compassionate and tender.

6. I have all that I need. God has provided time after time, and sometimes I hardly notice. 

7. I have a loving husband and family. That's better than any material possession! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm Spittin' Mad Right Now

Tonight I went with Hubby to a homeschool information panel at our local library. It was close by and a number of my friends and fellow homeschoolers were there. And I was hoping to, and I did, learn of some other groups and resources that we can utilize in the coming years. All went well until the end when we were able to move around and ask further questions of people on the panel.

Hubby spotted a friend who is an educational consultant. The friend had worked in the public school system helping struggling learners until last year when budget cuts ended his job. So now he is drumming up work to help homeschool students who are struggling.  I have considered working with him. Until tonight.

And I am so upset.

Why? Because he gave me an unbelieving look when I told him of Ms. D's IQ score. He made it sound like she could learn anything if he was able to work with her. When I told him that we have to teach her concretely and might never understand things like algebra, he shook his head like we were so wrong. He had no sympathy, no encouragement, and had a very judgmental attitude towards us. He didn't seem to believe that alcohol kills brain cells. He has no idea of how hard Ms. D and I have worked, and how difficult it is for her to grasp some concepts or remember from day to day. He seemed to have no clue of how FAS affects people emotionally, mentally, and intellectually.

He also asked us if we have prayed for Ms. D. Have we prayed for her? What kind of question is that! Of course we have prayed for her. I don't think I've prayed harder for any of my other kids than how I've prayed for the two youngest.

It has been so frustrating for me to have people minimize the effect of alcohol on fetuses. This interaction tonight just added to my frustration. Would someone tell a parent who has a kid with Down Syndrome that their low IQ score is a misdiagnosis or because the parents didn't pray?

Maybe Hubby is right and it's all a misunderstanding. But the nonverbal communication that the man gave me and some of his comments hit a sore spot for me. A very sore spot. I'm spittin' mad!

Totally Unrelated Thoughts and Experiences

Thought number 1:

I didn't write for over a day because I assumed there wasn't much to say. After all, we haven't had a major crisis or illness lately, there hasn't been any seizures, and life has slowed down a bit. Of course when I think about it, our calmness would be someone else's chaos, but we become accustomed to a certain rhythm in our lives. It became apparent one day last week when one of our neighbors came by to pick up her daughter and remarked about how busy I was. I had thought things were pretty calm until I realized I was making dinner, searching for one daughter's uniform so her boyfriend could get it to her, watching the neighbor boys, and helping another neighbor girl with her homework while my younger kids were in and out playing with friends. Now I can't always do that much at once. The workload just happened to flow fairly easily that day. But it's interesting how my attitude and the stress I feel has more to do with what's going inside my head than what's going on outside of it. If I take the time to feed my spirit, soul, and body, I have more capacity to handle what life throws at me. It's something for me to remember if I feel stressed and overwhelmed.

Totally unrelated thought number 2:
I am getting so tired of this political season and it's only March. People have been calling each other names, friends accusing others of being uninformed, conspiracy theorists, or worse, and people attacking others personally instead of discussing and debating policies and platforms. I am getting tired of double standards and the misrepresentation of peoples' character, policies, and beliefs. An example that has been troubling me this week is that I keep getting ads, articles, and news clips that talk about the "Republican War on Women". Really? Is it a war on women to think that a religious hospital, employer, or organization should have the right to follow their beliefs and should not be forced to provide or pay for abortions or birth control? Now I don't agree fully with the traditional view of the Catholic church on birth control, but I feel a Catholic or any other religious organization or person should have the freedom to not have to fund or provide for something that is contrary to their beliefs. And people have the freedom go somewhere else. At least now they do. I'm afraid this is just another step in the eroding of our freedom of religion. Now that's what I feel the real war is about, not a war on women. 

Totally unrelated thought number 3:

I just had the (hopefully) last appointment with the psychologist at Kaiser. I still don't have Ms. D's cognitive testing report. The head of the department needs to sign off on it and he's been on vacation the past three weeks. Hopefully I'll get it soon so I can apply for the regional center. Because the psychologist doesn't think therapy would be beneficial to Ms. D because of her IQ, I'm thinking of looking elsewhere so she can learn to deal with stress better. She was in tears last night and didn't want to talk to us about her friend who got in trouble with her parents.  Her friend's conflict was pretty overwhelming to Ms. D.  Sometimes she seems able to comprehend situations, but other times she misses too many of the subtle social and intellectual parts of interactions.  She did talk to Birthdad on the phone about it though. It was interesting to hear her part of the conversation, which showed her concrete way of looking at the world. Hubby and I talked about telling Birthdad about Ms. D's IQ. He'd then be able to understand why she talks in certain ways. I think he'd be able to respond to her with even more understanding, although he seems to be doing pretty well already. I am still praying about what to say to Birthmom because of her limited capacity to think and handle stress. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Making Lemonade

I thought it'd be good to write something about making lemonade out of lemons, using the old saying to tie in what's going on in my life. But today is kind of busy with a psychiatrist appointment, schoolwork, and trying to get as much laundry done before it starts raining, so I'm not in the space to do much reflection. So maybe another time.

Yesterday I really did make lemonade, and I'll do some more soon. Our Meyer lemon tree is full of ripe fruit, and really needs to be harvested. There are still hundreds of lemons on that poor tree, even after using lemons for our own use and sharing with friends and neighbors. So before the rain makes the tree heavier, I need to get going and make some juice to freeze.

A few years ago Hubby got me a nice citrus squeezer. So it doesn't take long to cut the fruit in half, put in the lemon or orange, drop the handle, and collect the juice. We used to have a squeezer that needed more muscle power, but our Orange X does the job easily. I just have to make sure I put the cup under the part the juice comes out, and don't start spacing off and leave my finger in the way. OUCH!

When the lemons are squeezed I make lemonade by putting about a cup of lemon juice in a pitcher, sweeten it to taste, and add ice and water.  One friend adds blended strawberries. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds yummy!

Whatever lemon juice I don't use, I freeze in ice cube trays, small plastic containers, or silicon muffin cups. The next day I pop them out and put them in a plastic freezer bag. That way, I can bring out just what I need later. It's nice to have different sizes to choose from for different recipes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ummm...You Want to do What?

I just realized that Mr. I made plans to go to the mall with a few friends. Without an adult.

The rule in our house is there is no unsupervised mall walking until you are old enough to work in a mall. There are just too many things that could go wrong in that environment, especially for kids who are easily overstimulated and impulsive.

Mr. I had asked a few days ago with a friend's mom, so I said yes. But then the mom had to do some other errands and so they couldn't go then, but today would be better. Well today he said he needed a ride, and it took a bit for me to wonder why would he need a ride if he's going with an adult? When I found out their plans, I told him no, that there is no going to the mall unless there is an adult. He then said I let him do it a few weeks ago. I didn't realize until he said this that he was unsupervised the last time he went. I thought he was going with some friends to a dance competition next to the mall, at least that's what he told me, and I assumed he needed a ride home because he had to leave before the other boys were finished. I should never assume with my kids. They can be full of surprises. In his thinking, if I let him do something once, even if he hid some of the story, I should let him do it again.

The part that bugs me is that I was so dense. I guess I shouldn't feel so bad, though. I think there was a little muddling on purpose on his part. Once it dawned on me what was going on I told him no. I stood my ground. I will not be manipulated. I will do what's best for my kids. I am MOM!

Girl Time!

Yesterday I was able to break away and spend some time with a few of the women from church. It was so good to chat over brunch. Not all the women have read my blog, so it was good for me to update them on what's been going on in my life lately. Going to church as a family is wonderful, but there is a limitation in what I can say in front of the kids. I really needed the prayers and the support of those in my church, but the kids have been sticking to me like glue lately. When Ms. D is stressed or isn't feeling well she hangs on people. Last week she even accidentally pushed me into a chair at church and I almost fell over someone's popcorn bowl. Fortunately it wasn't a push, so I didn't fall, but it was a lean that kept coming and put me off balance. Maybe I need to learn a little yoga or Tai Chi to improve my flexibility and balance. Do you think I'll fit in with the elderly Chinese at the park?

Photo from

So yesterday, both at the brunch and later at church, I was finally able to ask for prayer about Ms. D, my learning to deal with the regional center, for my emotions and ability to forgive the birth mom on a new level, and that I can be filled spiritually during this time. I can't tell you how important it is to have support from other women when you have kids with special needs. The women in my church are amazing and are such a wonderful gift to me.  I really needed that girl time!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Settling Down to a More Organized Season

Things are settling down to a new normal. I'm finding out that things aren't quite as exciting as they were this winter, but I kind of like it.

So now, instead of running from one crisis to another, I'm able to start to get my life, my house, my homeschool in order again. I'm able to enjoy my family and friends. I had a great time babysitting for Grandson last night. It was so fun to play, put him to bed, and learn his little bedtime routine. I'm enjoying life. Instead of reflecting on the past year and planning for the next in January, I'm doing it in March.

It took three overdue library books to remind me that I need to be more deliberate in organization. See, I used to check the library website every week or two to make sure I didn't have overdue books hiding in the kids' rooms. Any homeschoolers you ask can tell you that overdue fines can be a real budget buster when you check out so many books. But during the winter, we rarely went to the library so I stopped checking the website. So when I returned the books last week, I overlooked three books and didn't realize it until after a few days worth of fines. It wasn't much, but it could have been prevented.

I realized that the library book situation was just a symptom of general disorganization due to my personality and the different crises of the past year. And though I can't change everything, I can start to change a few things, make them a habit, and go in the right direction. The saying, a stitch in time saves nine, is so true. When I get too overwhelmed and disorganized, I forget to pay a bill here, buy something that I already have but can't find there, and it all adds up. If I'm to save money and have a neater house, if I'm going to teach my kids well, I need to do a little planning and take care of things before they get out of hand. Of course it can be pretty overwhelming when I look at the whole picture. But if I tackle an area one at a time, regularly, then the job isn't so overwhelming.

So this week I'm paying bills, doing paperwork, cleaning the house, mending clothes, and in general, getting a bit more organized. I finally submitted some adoption paperwork this week that was due the end of December. I'm tackling some projects that I've been procrastinating.

Now getting the rest of the family to start new habits will be a trick, but I think if I work on my stuff, they will come on board a little easier. The kids are slowly ramping up on the schoolwork again. It's not like we stopped altogether, but we did the minimum these past few months. And it's hard to get them to realize that we can't do the minimum all the time. But this week we've done a little more. Next week I'll add something else. And hopefully they will get used to the new workload.

The same goes for the housework. For some reason, when the house is neater, the kids don't trash the place as quickly. I'm hoping to get them to the point where they pick up after their spills without me riding them. But until that time, things need to be organized enough that I see it right away. It's a lot easier to catch them in the act of spilling juice on the floor than to later notice that there are spots all over the kitchen and wonder how they got there. Because the kids ALWAYS deny making a mess, even when caught in the act.

So I'm settling down to a new normal, at least I hope is a new normal. I never know what will come next, but I need to be prepared. I am working on taking care of the little things before they become big things. And I'm doing it a bit at a time so I don't get overwhelmed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Liberation Day!

Today was Liberation Day for Hubby. He got the last tube out after his surgery and is already feeling much better. It will be good to take long walks with him again, even though he normally walks much faster than I can get my legs moving. 

Tonight I also went to a Help One Child meeting. It was good to get together with other foster and adoptive parents. It always helps to know I am not alone in this journey and there are other people who have the joys and struggles of raising kids with special needs. We also watched a Karen Purvis video. On the one hand, we feel a bit inadequate after watching it, but on the other hand we get some good ideas and encouragement to try new ways of relating to our kids. 

Earlier, when I asked Hubby if he was feeling well enough for me to leave the kids with him tonight, I joked about how the kids would respond to another night with me being gone. I told him, "Do you want to bet they both say 'Nooooooo! Do you HAVE to GO?!!!!!'" They did not disappoint! Of course they ended up having a good time, since Hubby and Microbio Daughter took them with a neighbor family out to get some ice cream. When I prayed for them when I came back, the kids were happy and content. We'll see how things go tomorrow. Maybe I should try some of the things I learned tonight from the video. It's worth a try!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bee Guild Date Night

Hubby and I ran out on the kids again tonight and left the kids with Microbio daughter. Whoohooo!!!

This time we went to our monthly bee guild meeting.  If you are interested in raising bees, or even want to learn more about them, I'd recommend going to a meeting like this to learn from the collective wisdom of bee keepers. Now beekeepers are pretty diverse, but a rather laid back group of people. I guess that comes with having a hobby like beekeeping where if you get overexcited, the bees can sense it. The bee people also bend over backwards to help others who are just starting out. We learned a lot this time, even though we had gone to a similar class before. And as an added bonus, Hubby and I had another date night! It's so good to have something else we can share as a couple. I'm glad we went.

Almond milk

One of the things we learned at the chocolate class was to make almond milk. I had been frightened a bit by watching a friend make soy milk once, and so I imagined almond milk would be just as difficult. But it's not! With almonds being so plentiful in California, and since regular milk doesn't agree with me, I think I'll try making almond milk at home.

Soak 16 oz. raw almonds for 4-8 hours.
Put almonds in blender with 2-4 times water to almonds (the teacher uses 2 1/2-3 times)
Strain the milk in bag or cheesecloth, of course saving the milk
The leftover almonds can be used in bread
Add honey, fruit (strawberries, bananas, dates) and ground vanilla to taste

Doesn't it sound easy?

The chocolate class teacher added frozen strawberries, vanilla, local wildflower honey, and a few fresh dates. It made such a delicious smoothie!

I don't know if my blender can work, but I might just invest in a better one if it doesn't. I like the idea of making more of my food from fresh, local ingredients.

More of Our Trip to the City

Yesterday, when we went to San Francisco for the chocolate class, we left the two youngest in the care of Microbio daughter. She has been so brave in doing things with and for the kids lately. The other day she even took Ms. D to the mall for a shopping trip and then when she came back she took Mr. I and his friends out for some sandwiches. The little ones get really dysregulated when we do things outside of the normal routine, and even more so when I leave them, even for an afternoon. It sure is hard before, during, and in the recovery stage! But it's good for me, and it's good for them to see me go and come back. It helps me to know that they are in capable hands and I don't have to worry.

We went to the city early in order to get a parking space ($18) and have time to slowly walk, since Hubby is still recovering from surgery. The class was across the street from the old US mint. There was an exhibition for history groups and museums, so we decided to stop in for a few minutes. 
Woman Dressed in Turn of the Century Clothing


After the museum and a relaxing time of sitting in park people watching, we went to our class. We made chocolate, but also learned how to make almond milk and tasted a strawberry shake made with it. It was so tasty and also very easy to make. 

Finally, after the class we went to a Vietnamese sandwich shop and had dinner together. One guy in a very colorful group suggested his favorite sandwich and another person in line suggested another. So we ordered one of each and they were both excellent choices!  

Even though we spent just a few hours on our date, it was a good time to reconnect after all the drama of the past few months. I'm so happy that Hubby thought to do it. One of the things that was worrying me lately was reading statistics of marriage difficulties for parents of kids with special needs. Our marriage is really good, and we've had the little ones with us for nine years, but the new diagnosis of Ms. D's MR scared me a bit. But even though Hubby and I do have a good marriage, I realize we need to do things to make sure it stays that way. And spending time together, without the kids, doing something interesting and fun, is one of the ways we can keep enjoying each other instead of drifting apart. Thanks, Hubby!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate Class

Fun in the City!

Hubby and I went to a chocolate making class taught by the owner of Benchic Chocolate in San Francisco today. It was so fun to spend time with Hubby, learn something new, make connections, meet people, and learn about the chocolate making process. Hopefully, it might even help the people on Nicaragua who grow the cacao beans. When Hubby went to the Rama Territory last summer for his nonprofit, he found out a few of the people grew cacao trees but don't have a market. So since then, he's been trying to figure out how to get the chocolate or ingredients from there to here. This class was a chance to see what goes into some of the process. The chocolate was easier to make than I had thought.

Hubby Making Chocolate

Pouring the Chocolate into the Molds

Easy recipe

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What I Want to Blog About

What I really want to write about today is how I finished a sewing, knitting, crocheting, or quilting project. Or maybe getting my spring planting done on such a beautiful, sunny, California day. Or maybe about seeing my grandson, or about doing something fun with the family. I want to be able to write about something that would be encouraging. But that's not what I can write about today.

What I am thinking about, praying about, and pondering, isn't very pretty. It's not something that I can show others that I've accomplished something, or at least had fun. What I'm thinking about is how I'm having to forgive the kids' birthmother on another level. I have to forgive Birthmom for making Ms. D MR. Ms. D's IQ is in the 50-70 point range because Birthmom drank alcohol while she was pregnant. I've forgiven her for giving the kids FASD, but now there's another level. And I'm scared for Ms. D, angry, grieving... And it's hard to forgive. But I must forgive her for the kids' sake, for me, for the rest of the family, and for our relationship with the birth family.

We talked about layers of unbelief in church tonight. I'm staring at a new layer of unbelief in my life. Can I trust that God will take care of Ms. D? Can I trust that God will give me all I need to love and guide the kids to love and follow God, and to have a good life? Can I trust that I can give my hurts, my fears, and my need for justice to God? Can I learn to see the birth family as God sees them? Can I learn to hear God well enough an obey Him in every step, not holding back in fear, or going ahead of Him in pride?

I can't do it in my own strength. It's so clear to me now.

So maybe tomorrow I can blog about something fun or creative. Hubby and I, after all, are going to San Francisco to take a chocolate making class. I'm looking forward to it and also writing about it. But tonight...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Two Thoughts

I'm really having a hard time figuring out what to call this post. Nothing quite seems adequate. And I'm not entirely sure how the two things I'm thinking about intertwine, yet in some ways they do.

The first thought is about a post that another mom of kids with FASD wrote today. She says it so well, I'll just have to ask you to look at it here. I too, had unrealistic expectations of how my youngest kids would act and heal by living with us. I thought I was prepared. We had done respite care for other foster kids, talked for years with people who have fostered and adopted, took classes, and read up on what to expect. But the bottom line is that you never fully know or deeply understand how bringing kids with FASD into your home will affect your life, your marriage, your other children, your reputation, your faith. And it's been good. It's been hard. Harder than I could have ever imagined. Yet good.

The other thought I've had today was about tornadoes. There has been a swarm of them this week and many people have died today. I narrowly missed a deadly tornado when I was three and lived in Illinois, and I've lived in fear of them since. Now you would think that living on the West Coast, where tornadoes are rare, for over thirty years would lessen the fear response. But until a few years ago, my heart would race and I would break out in a sweat at tornado videos, newscasts, or the few tornado warnings or watches I would hear in the area. When I had a bit of a panic attack after hearing a warning for a tornado about sixty miles away one day, I decided to do something about it. Being the overachieving person that I can be, I decided to desensitize myself as much as possible. I watched videos of tornadoes, I watched movies, I did what I could, like practice relaxation techniques, to get to the place where I could hear about a tornado and not panic. So today, I did the same. And I didn't panic. I prayed, I watched, I read. But I was able to keep my heart rate down.

Sometimes I feel like if I work hard enough, I can do anything, even if it's overcoming a childhood fear. But I need to remember that it isn't always possible to make things all better by working harder. I can't ever work hard enough to heal my kids, to make them act perfect, to do what I want them to do. God is the only one who can heal. I am not the healer. God is the only one who can change hearts. I can only obey Him and trust that He loves the kids even more than I do. I can do some things to help, but I can't do it all. And knowing that is good. Hard, but good.