Thursday, May 31, 2012

Can She Fix It? Yes She Can!

Today I got to play Bob the Builder...well at least his sidekick Wendy.

We haven't had any blinds or curtains on our front window for over a year, since we repainted. It was like living in a fishbowl, despite the plants and trees. And it sure got hot on days like today when it was over ninety degrees and the sun streamed in the southwest facing window. Hubby got the blinds a few weeks ago, and they've been waiting to be installed. I don't know why I procrastinated, since it took less than an hour. But a hot day was enough to kick start me. The instructions were Spartan. I think all the practice of reading instructions of assembling Ikea furniture helped me.  Though the instructions today didn't have the odd man-like figures on Ikea instructions, humoring me and showing me how assemble step-by-step. Fortunately, window shades are not rocket science, but I only say that because I haven't tried to restring those things.

Here are a couple of pictures. Notice I was catwalking on the window sills using a power drill and wearing a skirt and flip flops. Danger! Don't do this at home!

The Instructions in 5 Easy Steps

 Here are the instructions, written in English, French, and Spanish. 

b. Simple, frugal, or austere: a Spartan diet; a spartan lifestyle.
c. Marked by brevity of speech; laconic.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remembering Papo

Last night I got a call from our neighbor friend across the street. Her dad, who my kids and his grand kids call Papo, was not expected to be revived and she needed me to stay with her kids while she went to see him. He did pass away, but her mom started to have chest pains and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I stayed at my neighbor's home until she and her husband returned a bit after four this morning. Today we are watching their toddler which is a very good thing for Ms. D and Mr. I.

Mr. I and Ms. D adored Papo. He treated my kids like grandchildren, and was very kind. Though his health was poor for the past few years, as long as we've known him actually, he always had a smile and a zest for life. He was a strong Christian, which takes away the sting of losing him, at least for me. I know, and my friend knows, that he is in heaven and is not burdened by pain and illness any longer. But many in the family don't believe, so his passing will be even harder. We will all miss Papo. Like my experience with my own father, a long illness doesn't really prepare the family and friends when death finally catches up. It is such a shock, even though you think you are prepared. I pray that God will comfort them.

I am thankful for knowing Papo. I am thankful that he was able to go to a graduation party and a family wedding this past weekend and enjoy his family, whom he loved dearly. I am thankful that Mr. I was able to help at the party and see him one last time. My kids will have some more mourning work to do now, which scares me. But having Papo's grandson over today has been good, especially for Ms. D.

We love you, Papo! Have fun!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Green Mama's Birthday

It was one of my daughter in law's birthday today. I'll call her Green Mama for now, since I think that's what she said she wanted to be called. If not, I'll change her name, but Green Mama fits. She loves to do things naturally, cloth diapers, organic cotton, earth friendly soaps, and lately organic, vegan food. I really like that she is trying to be more environmentally conscious. It should be good for their health. As long as she prepares most of her food and cleaning supplies, and I help her out with the sewing and cloth diapers, it should be less expensive, especially in the long run. Yes, you might spend a little more now, but months and years down the road good food and doing things that are easier on the earth will save money and doctor visits. Junk food is cheap, but what does it do to our arteries and digestion over the years? I wish I could have done more to get my younger kids to eat healthy. They lived on junk food before they came to our home, and they refuse to eat a lot of the healthy food I try to give them. I like it that Green Mama is helping my grandson to eat more vegetables and fruits while he is young, because it sure is hard to change eating habits once they are established.

We had a little birthday party for Green Mama today. I grilled garden burgers and cheeseburgers. Hubby loved the garden burgers, but my kids wouldn't try them. Oh well, maybe they will someday.

Happy Birthday, Green Mama

What a Cute Family

Grandson Taking a Walk

Riding On Auntie's Shoulders

Looking at Trees While Taking a Walk

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gaining a Daughter

Today I went to our pastor's son's wedding. My pastor and his wife had only sons until today, when they gained a daughter. They were so happy!

It reminded me how I have also gained two daughters through their marriage to my sons. I'm so blessed to have them in our family. Tomorrow one of them is having a birthday and I'll get to see her again. I can't wait! I love them both dearly and don't see them nearly enough.  It's a real balance to love up on them, yet give them the independence young adults thrive on. I'm still learning how to be a good mother in law!

Oh, and since I got all dressed up for the wedding, I thought I'd take a picture of myself. Of course the lighting is horrible, and I could only get a head shot holding my phone, but there aren't many times I get dressed up. I really need to make more dresses that fit my curves. Nothing in the stores fits me well enough. The dress I wore tonight was bought online and was a bit spendy, at least by my standards. I'll have to take the plunge and learn to adjust a pattern to fit. If I can do it, I'll wear dresses more often!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Riding Horses

Today in horse class, the kids got to ride with someone leading the horse. It was hard to take pictures of the kids, since they were in an odd mood, but I did sneak in a few. It hasn't been the first time I had a kid who didn't like his picture taken, only to complain later that there weren't many photos of when he was little. At least now with digital cameras I don't have to worry about wasting film on blurred images and hands over the faces. I can take more chances to sneak pictures, which is the only way to get photos of these kids sometimes.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Court and Birth Family Contact

Today was a pretty eventful day.

I remembered last night to look up the next court date for the Ms. D's and Mr. I's oldest brother who is one of a few of the birth family on trial for murder. I was surprised that today was the day for the next hearing. Perfect timing again! I told Hubby, who decided to take a few hours off to go to the hearing to support the birth family. Ten minutes before he left, he asked the kids if they wanted to go with him. They said yes, because they hadn't seen their brother in nine years, and quickly got ready to go.

It went pretty well, considering Ms. D wasn't speaking to her birth mom, but she overcame her animosity and was civil. Of course, when you act polite towards someone, it becomes harder to hold a grudge, so by the end of the time, Ms. D was speaking to her birth mom again. It actually was a time of reconciliation, since Ms. D's birth mother spoke civilly to her ex-husband for the first time in years. To learn to be polite to those who have hurt you is a hard lesson, and I hope Ms. D will eventually learn it. We told her that she doesn't have to like the person, she doesn't have to trust the person, but she does have to show the courtesy of politely speaking to a person like her birth mom.

As for the hearing, it didn't go so well, but it sure worked out for the kids. The DA wasn't there because of a scheduling conflict, so they had to postpone the hearing until next month. At first they were going to wait until September, but that is a long time from now and they have been in jail for nearly three years already. So much for the right to a speedy trial! It makes me wonder how broken our criminal justice system is, that they brought everyone there, the defendants, lawyers, judge, guards, family, etc., only to tell everyone to come back another day. Isn't there a better way to handle this? When they realized the scheduling conflict, couldn't they notify everyone by email, phone, or letter and not take up court time and space? No wonder it's been taking so long!

But actually, this all worked out for the kids. Next time they are going to show the surveillance video from the altercation and I don't want Ms. D or Mr. I to see that kind of thing. Ms. D had a hard enough time seeing her brother in shackles, and cried when she came home. But I'm glad the kids got to see their brother, since I have no idea how long it will be before they can see him again.

Hubby took the kids' birth mom to her home and picked up another brother to hang out at our house this afternoon. I let them spend some time eating together while I finished walking the dogs. Right now Mr. I is playing ball with his friends and his brother. Ms. D is in her room. I don't know why she isn't with them, but she doesn't want to talk about it. She probably took offense at something, but it is probably good that she is in a quiet space right now. She can't handle too much excitement. I am concerned that she will start seizing again because of all the excitement today.

I picked up some food this afternoon to give out. Hubby is out now delivering the food to a men's group home and a daughter of a missionary friend who has been having health problems. It's been so fun to have the food pass through our hands and bless so many. The man who runs the group home said that the food was arriving just in time. Isn't that just like something God would do?  Sometimes we don't see how we'd ever get through a situation, and at the last minute a door opens, a friend calls to encourage, or provision comes from unexpected places just when you are about to lose hope. I should remember this the next time I get to worrying, since worrying comes so naturally for me!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grandson Time!

Tonight we got to take care of my grandson while his mama and daddy could go to their couples' group. First he ate with us, then Auntie and Uncle took him outside to play. He liked looking at all the big boys play. He also enjoyed playing on the keyboard, taking a bath, and being read to before bed. It was so fun to snuggle with the little guy. All my kids are pretty much full sized now. My grandson was able to fall asleep quickly. Maybe if he does this more, we'll be able to watch him overnight sometime so his mama and daddy can have a night off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quick Diaper Cover and a Good Horse Class

Today my grandson came over so his mommy could have some girl time with a friend. I loved having him over. He's at such a cute age. After feeding him lunch, we took him in the stroller to walk dogs and pick up the neighbor boy after his kindergarten class. When we got home, I noticed a certain smell and changed my grandson's pants. Unfortunately, he had leaked into the diaper cover, and there weren't any replacements. I had been meaning to make some bigger ones for him, but I wasn't in the mood to sew before today.  So this little emergency kicked me out of my funk, and I dusted my sewing machine off. I really did have to dust the thing, since I hadn't used it in months.

I couldn't find my diaper cover pattern, so I used a diaper pattern and adjusted it a little. I found out that making a diaper cover is a little like making soup. As long as you get the basic size and  proportions and have the right materials, it doesn't really matter if you don't measure exactly. In less than an hour, the little guy's bottom was covered and I had the pleasure of creating. Isn't the turtle print cute?

Ms. D Holding Grandson To Show Off His Diaper Cover
Right after Grandson left, I had just enough time to hang up some clothes on the line and get the kids ready for their horse class. Today at the class they learned about bridles, bits, and how to put a saddle on a horse. My kids did wonderfully. It was another girl's turn to have a difficult time. I am so thankful for Doug and Pat at Victory Ranch who are willing to put up with and teach kids who have come from hard places. It's not an easy thing to do!

Going to Practice Putting on a Saddle

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday's Happenings

Sunday was full of activity too.

Hubby delivered the last of the bread and bananas to a couple of neighborhood churches to distribute. He then took Ms. D to a guide dog puppy training class while I did a little more work around the house, trying to get things cleaned up after yesterday's activity.

Mr. I's flag football game was next. He has been complaining of various aches and pains before each game, only to have the pain disappear when he started playing. Yesterday he complained of a sore knee, and really did sit out of the game for awhile, but it didn't seem to bother him once he got started.  He cries wolf so much, I sometimes worry I will ignore a real injury. He'll limp when he thinks I'm looking, but the limp suddenly goes away as soon as he sees my attention is on something else. Here he is catching a touchdown pass. He's number seven in black. Does this look like a kid with a knee injury to you?

Sunday afternoon was solar eclipse time. So we made a pinhole viewer and looked at the shadow of the moon cross the sunlight.

Finally, the kids were interested in a science learning opportunity. At first they weren't, and it was difficult to get them to walk outside the door. But after awhile they noticed something. They noticed the eerie lighting of the sun being almost completely blocked by the moon. Then they were interested. I am such a science and art geek and wish they would catch on, but it takes a lot to grab their attention. The solar eclipse was the one thing that caught their attention.

Some neighbors came outside also, and showed us the interesting shadows of the sun shining through some leaves on the side of the house.

I'm glad that after the eclipse watching, supper, and a quick walk to the store, I had nothing else planned for the day. I was starting to get a headache, and so I tried to lie down and read. Of course, as soon as I was horizontal, the kids started filing into my room with this problem or that problem. It still makes them a bit uneasy when I don't look like I'm on top of things. Yes, moms get tired and need to rest too. Someday they'll learn to let me rest. Everyone will be much happier. Really!

Weekend Whirlwind

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. It started Friday around midnight when Hubby picked up a food delivery from a local store to give to the needy in the area. Since there were so many perishables, he had to pick up some ice. While he was doing that, I packed the freezer and refrigerator so things wouldn't spoil before Hubby could deliver them the next morning. I'm so glad I had cleaned the refrigerator out earlier in the week. I just wish I had time to clean the freezer out too. I've been trying lately to eat as much of our own food as we have stored. It doesn't matter how much money I have saved by buying on sale if food goes to waste.

In the morning I did a few loads of laundry and cleaned the house a bit. Later, while I took the kids to the horse class, Hubby delivered food to different people and groups. He also prayed for people while he was out. The kids did better at the horse class than the previous classes. They are slowly getting used to the routine, and do just fine as long as I stay a bit of a distance away. Microbio daughter came with me, so she was able to take some pictures while I watched from afar. 

Saturday afternoon we had a family picnic. It was so good to get together with all the kids and their families. Of course it wasn't all smiles. Mr. I had a hard time because he had it stuck in his head that if he didn't have his birth brother or a friend there, he would have a miserable time. Of course, he had a better time than he would admit, but the intermittent whining was a bit much for me after I had so little sleep the night before. I'm so glad we got together as a family, though. It didn't take much preparation, and it was a beautiful day to get out. The park we chose wasn't too crowded and was only a couple of miles away from our house. Everyone, except maybe Mr. I at times, had fun.

We ate, played bocce ball, played on the playground, relaxed, and talked. I hope we will be able to do this again soon.

After all that, we went to church. By then, I was exhausted from a lack of sleep, a busy schedule, and a really rough week with the kids. We left as soon as we could, and collapsed in bed when we got home. Saturday was a full day! I think I have enough for one post and will continue Sunday's activities on another.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

All Is Well...

Tonight I'm realizing how blessed I am.

Our old social worker had brain surgery today. Her tumor was not malignant and she posted a smiling picture of herself just hours after surgery!

I have an amazing family. My kids get along with each other. When times are tough, the older ones pitch in and support me and each other in so many ways. We are a great team!

I have an adorable grandson. Today we got to play with him, take walks, and snuggle. He helped me water the plants and look at the hummingbirds as they sipped the flowers. There's nothing like a little child to point me to what is important in life.

Grandson Enjoying Being the Center of Attention
Sometimes I need those kind of reminders, especially after going through some rough patches. I can get all wrapped up in dealing with meltdowns, difficulties in homeschool, FASD, finances, and undone housework and forget to take some time out and enjoy the little things. My grandson slowed me down today. I took time to look at the flowers and the hummingbirds, the pond and the airplanes, hear the wind in the trees and the songs of the birds. But looking back, I got a lot more housework, schoolwork, and yard work done because I did slow down. I even had time to cut Mr. I's hair and drive kids here and there. I didn't waste time pacing around the house, putting out emotional fires, and crying or trying not to cry in front of the kids. It's amazing how much time is wasted when I am anxious and my mind is racing. I should make it a priority to spend some time each day to slow down and let God direct me more, because running around like a headless chicken sure doesn't get me anywhere! I have too much to do to not slow down.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ms. D!

Today was Ms. D's fourteenth birthday!

I can't believe she is that old. Wasn't it just a little bit ago that I was able to carry her and her brother at the same time? Wasn't it yesterday that her favorite song was the Disney Happy Birthday Song, and she sang along, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy, Happy Birthday to you? I think someone did a switch on me and replaced a girl with a young woman.

I'm going to start out with the last part of her birthday because it is what I most want to remember.  Ms. D's friend joined our family. Ms. D opened presents and really liked the book of dog careers I gave her. Her siblings gave her flowers, ear rings, and a Niners mug. We had cheesecake and since I was so unprepared, we had just one candle for her to blow out. But at least we had one!  Before that, we at out at our neighborhood Chinese food place. They know that Ms. D likes chicken chow fun, and Mr. I likes Mongolian Beef. The rest of the family changes what they order, but the kids are so consistent that I think the waiter writes the order down before the kids even say what they want.

Though the horse class started out rough, the kids really enjoyed themselves once they got to work with the horses and ponies. They got to learn how to lead a pony today.
Mr. I Leading a Pony

Ms. D Leading a Pony

The beginning of the day was awful. I don't know if it was because of Ms. D's birthday, the fear of the horse class, or a combination of the two, but Mr. I had numerous meltdowns. So did I. I think I cried three or four times today, it was so intense. He said he was too sick to go to the horse class, but he wasn't. He picked on his sister until she cried too. It was intense. It's interesting how fear looks like anger or rebelliousness in him.  I'm glad he finally recovered and overcame that fear.

Despite the rough start, Ms. D had a good birthday. I played the Disney Happy Birthday song for her and she reminisced about the time when she listened to that song over and over. She was remembering the good times when she first came to our house. Hopefully, we will all just remember the good times we had today and not the difficulties.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Whose Vision For My Kids Am I Looking At?

Tonight was our large homeschool parents' night out. I am so glad I made it. It was more encouraging than I had expected.

Tonight the leaders of our group spoke on Homeschooling With the Holy Spirit. One funny aside is how the husband told of his church background. They believed in the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scriptures. It was good to have someone with that background to teach about being lead by the Holy Spirit to such a spiritually diverse group. We are all Christians, but we come from such differing backgrounds.

The main point was to be led by God in whatever we do. They encouraged us that, "God's Spirit is not a method to accomplish our agenda for homeschool. Homeschooling is a method God uses to accomplish His purposes in the lives of our kids and family."

There were other good points, like asking God how He made our kids and adapting the schooling to that. Another was to encourage our kids to go to God with their pain. Wow! That sure hit me with all my kids are going through lately. We were also encouraged to spend time alone with God and listen to what He would say to us about our kids. We also had time to practice that and write down what we felt in our hearts. And finally, they suggested we help our kids to learn to hear God by giving them time to be quiet and ask God for a picture.  These were just a few of the things I'd like to put into practice in our home.

But what really hit me this evening was a story they shared of their own lives. They, too, adopted their kids. One of their children had been acting out lately. I was able to identify with that! The mother was worrying about how her child's behavior could lead to some pretty awful things if it continued into adulthood, and she was worrying about him ending up in prison some day. That really caught my attention because I've also worried about jail, teen pregnancies, drug use, and whatever else the statistics and my fears led me to believe. So what the woman said next brought me to tears. She asked God about her son, and she felt God speak in her heart, "You have bought into the enemy's vision for his (her son's) future. You need to have My (God's) vision for his future."


I realized I've been looking at the wrong person's vision of the future for my kids' lives. I have looked at their behaviors, listened to the enemy, and began to lose hope. Yes, there will be a time when my kids will make choices for their lives, but God's vision is so good. I need to ask Him what it is, and see my kids as God sees them, not down to what the enemy would like to drag them. God loves them even more than I do, and I need to help them to see that. He has a vision for their lives that is so beautiful, and I need to pray that they will head in that direction. May God help me to show my kids His love for them and that I not lose sight of His vision for their lives.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It Wasn't All That Bad

Mother's Day was a success at our house yesterday. It had to be one of the best ones in years. There were no meltdowns. Mr. I did complain about a sick stomach on the way to his football games. He moaned that he was too sick to play and had on the most pitiful sick face, but I didn't buy it. He wasn't sick when he played with his friends, or while we were at home with Hubby, but saved his drama performance for when Microbio Daughter and I were alone in the car with him. To say the least, it was an interesting ride to the game. As soon as he got there, he played well and the sickness miraculously vanished.

Mr. I's team won both games, which helped with his confidence. I hope he will be less anxious next week.

On the way home from the games we stopped at the store and I got some potato salad, bread, and chips to round out our dinner. The chips were Mr. I's idea. He thought I should have some for Mother's Day. I'm not especially fond of chips, but he is. I thought it was pretty cute. It reminded me of one of my cousins whose sons gave her a couple of freshly caught fish for Mother's Day.

When I came home, I grilled some thin steaks and made some green beans, and put them on the table with some grapes. The grilled thin cut steaks were great. I had bought the thinner cuts because they were just marked down. I had never bought them this way before. My family likes their meat well done, so the meat cooked more quickly, and was easier to eat.  The thinner portions went farther. The meat we ate cost less than $9.00, and we had leftovers too.

The rest of the night I was fighting a headache, so I just read and rested. Microbio Daughter gave me The Help movie, but she had already given me such a wonderful gift by helping me with the kids this weekend. She has such a quiet, calm, strength about her. She's the kind of person I would want to be around during a disaster, and this weekend could have been a disaster, had she not been there to calm Mr. I and Ms. D. She brought her sister to the mall, where I do not like to go, and came with me to her brother's game. She is one of those people who often go unnoticed until you realize that you couldn't have made it without them.

My sons called, and Blackbelt Daughter gave me a special gift that will be a secret until we can arrange it. I am so blessed to have such an awesome family!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Dreaded Mother's Day

Yes, today is the big day. Mother's Day. It's the day when mothers are honored, taken out for lunch, and families get together. There are many beautiful traditions that people do which show their appreciation for the one who brought them to the world and raised them.

Mothers Day. It's also the day when childless women stay home from church so they don't have to stay seated as other women, even teen moms, are being honored for popping out a kid. It's the day when people who lost their moms mourn. It's the day when sons run to the store to grab some flowers, any flowers, so that they don't have to hear all the grief for not doing something nice for their mom on Mother's Day. It's a day when my kids' birth mom, and so many other birth moms out there are mourning the loss of their children.

It's also the day when kids who have been adopted from hard places act out. It's understandable. Most holidays are filled with dysregulation anyway. But Mother's Day also reminds them they aren't living with the mom who bore them. They are now living with someone who was a stranger, who looks different than they do, who took the place of their birth mom. Even if they love their adoptive mom, there is still a lot of loss mixed in. And it's hard, really hard to sort through these feelings. If there is a lot of change to the routine, a focus on someone else, and a celebration, those hard feelings are even more difficult to process. Mother's Day is traditionally filled with all the ingredients for the kids to act out. And they typically do.

I don't know what my kids have planned for today. I'd rather have things low key, because most of all, I want no tears, no meltdowns, and no rages on Mother's Day. I also realize that this is a big thing to hope for, especially after yesterday, when the kids were dysregulated from the birth family phone call until they fell asleep in the evening. If it wasn't for Microbio daughter stepping in to help with Ms. D, I don't think I could have made it. I'm still a bit anxious and worn out. That could be why I'm facing this day with so much trepidation.

But so far things are going well, and the morning is almost over. Ms D, her friend, and Microbio Daughter just came in with some flowers. Aren't they pretty?

There hasn't been any meltdowns so far. Maybe I'm dreading Mother's Day for no reason. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Honey From Our Own Bees!

We were able to get a few quarts of honey from last year's bees. Earlier this year, Hubby gave some to the new bees to strengthen their hives, but we saved a little for ourselves. Earlier this week Hubby extracted the honey with our new extractor, and today he bottled it in little jars so we can give some away. I must admit, I love the taste of our very own honey!

Birth Family Drama

Today we got a call from Birthdad saying that the kids' eighteen year old brother was moving to Arizona today as we were on our way to the horse class. Ms. D was devastated and cried and talked to Birthdad as we drove the twenty minutes to the farm. The kids were already on edge because I had them wear "ugly" boots so they wouldn't get their feet dirty around the horses, and Hubby told the kids that they had to go to us to the healing conference tonight. Oh, and they both slept overnight at friends' houses and were sleep deprived. This wasn't the best time to hear news of another loss. Of course, the birth family didn't know what was going on here, and we didn't know what was going on there, so we couldn't lessen the blow. Ms. D has been refusing to speak to Birthmom, because she threw the brother out of the house. Ms. D also has felt rejected by Birthmom because Birthmom has been pretty evasive on her part too. It's really hard for me to know what is going on in that house because of all the secrecy. Ms. D finds out things, but she isn't able to understand that the birth family has problems, lots of them. I tell her not to take things personally, but of course she still does. Each incident, like finding out that her birth brother was on the plane and she wasn't able to say goodbye, just adds to her feeling of rejection. She doesn't like to talk about it, and all I can do is hold her as she cries and muddle as best I can to help her.

We had to leave early from the horse class. Ms. D pulled it together enough to start the class, but then both kids refused to read. Because the teacher didn't know what was going on and was treating it more like a rebellious issue rather than a grieving one, I started to say that they just heard some hard news from the birth family. The kids burst into tears and Mr. I stormed out to the car, so the teacher suggested we leave for the day and come back early next time. So the ride home was hard. The kids were angry at me because they felt they were doing fine until I said something. They obviously weren't. Mr. I was worried that Hubby would be angry that we came home early, which he wasn't after hearing about the birth family drama. I am so anxious and am feeling so inadequate about this whole thing. Fortunately, Ms. D is talking on the phone to the birth family and I am starting to hear a little laughter instead of crying. I wish I knew all of what is going on. I don't know if I ever will.  Not being able to shield the kids from so much hurt is hard for me. God is going to have to protect their hearts. And I need to let God do His work. This is too big for me to handle alone.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Taming the Materialism Monster in a RADish

For those of you who have fostered or adopted kids, or have had any dealings at all with those with Reactive Attachment Disorder, you'll understand what I mean by taming the material monster in a RADish.

For those of you who don't, I'll try to explain as concisely as I can. When a baby or young child under three is neglected, abused, moved from home to home, or is otherwise unable to form a secure attachment to a caregiver, usually the mother, they cope by either drawing away from relationships or become really clingy. There are different kinds of attachment disorder, anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, or a mixture of swinging from one to the other. There are also degrees of attachment problems. Looking back, our kids have had a lot of problems in this area. Some of the things we saw in our kids were a lack of eye contact, seeing people as objects rather than someone who has feelings and love, ordering others to do what they wanted, crying at places that were "happy places" like parks and stores, friendlier to strangers than to their family, hitting, kicking, and swearing at me but charming around others, and so on. We spent years with a therapist to help them form attachments to me and Hubby. We all worked hard and there has been wonderful progress.

Since my son has healed so much in the nine years we've had him in our home, it kind of hits me unexpectedly when he regresses. I know he's been stressed about the horse class, Ms. D's seizures, the birth family, and Ms. D's birthday next week, so I really should have been more aware of what is going on. Lately he's been trying to order me around more, mostly in the area of getting material things.

A new bike, new shoes, new hat, new ipod, new camera, fast food, Jamba juice, cowboy boots, new shorts, new shirts...and these are all in the past two weeks. He's wanting to go to a store for something He doesn't get all he wants, and what he does get doesn't satisfy. He wants more the next day. Or the next hour. Today he told me I should buy Ms. D the latest ipod for her birthday so he could get her old one. I told him no, I wasn't going to spend $250 dollars on a birthday present. I don't really know how much the latest ipod costs, but I think it's around there. He also said he needed to go to the store, now, to get new shorts because he doesn't have enough. I can count at least five pairs he has off the top of my head. We just bought him a new pair last week. He doesn't need new shorts. He just wants something new to fill a void in his heart. A void he thinks can be filled by materialism, but can only be filled with God's love and the love of his family.

When I told him no, I won't buy anything for him today because I don't want him to become materialistic, he became angry. He still won't let me touch him without a fuss, but he did look in my eyes as he went out to play with his friends. I think he knows that he isn't going anywhere without making eye contact. I'm going to have to figure out how else to tame this materialism monster. I have a lot of attachment tricks up my sleeve! Mr. I is trying to put material stuff between himself and me, but I'm going to figure out how to tame that materialism monster!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Third Horse Class

Well, Mr. I finally, finally, started to have fun at the horse class, but nobody let him know that. The anticipation and lead up wasn't pretty. Of course the anxiety was exacerbated by a bit of constipation. I don't think he drinks as much as he needs in this hot weather. He sometimes gets his signals crossed in the sensory areas and doesn't realize he is hungry or thirsty and I have to remind him to eat or drink. I remember when I worked in a nursing home, the CNA class teachers told us that dementia can be increased with constipation, in addition to too much medication and other causes. I didn't quite get it then, but I sure do now. Mr. I doesn't have dementia, but he is on edge emotionally. So when he's thirsty, tired, or needs to go to the bathroom he can regress. And he sure regressed today!

But during the horse class, Mr. I participated, asked questions, answered questions, and in general showed his charming self to the instructors! He had fun!

Mr. I Tying a Quick Release Knot

Ms. D Tying a Quick Release Knot

If you don't see the above video, it's on youtube. Video Link
So tonight Mr. I is happy. He even did some of his English for tomorrow!

Ms. D went to the local middle school open house with a friend and decided that she is much better off homeschooling. She told me she would have been getting into a lot of fights. I don't know about the fighting thing, but I do know that she wouldn't be able to handle all the stress. After all, we keep things pretty calm and slow paced here for her and it still gets too stressful sometimes. But it's good for her to see it for herself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Little Avoidance Going On Here

There is a little avoidance going on here, and it isn't with the kids.

Yes, I'm the one who's been doing the avoiding!

I haven't sewn, knitted, or crocheted for a few months, other than a quick mending here and there that I have to do or we'll have a bigger mess later . Oh, I have plenty of materials and waiting projects, but I just haven't been able to bring the things out and start creating.  It's usually been my therapy to do handcrafts, but for some reason I've hit a wall. It's almost as if I'm afraid to start, and I don't know why. There are books to read, yard work to catch up, a blog to write, even housework to do! If you know me, housework is typically my downfall. The house is slowly shaping up, but I'm avoiding what really brings me joy, creating beautiful things that last longer than a clean kitchen!

Another thing that I had been avoiding was sending Ms. D's psychological and cognitive report to the regional center. I finally sent it out yesterday after nearly three months of having it sit on my nightstand. I didn't even reread it until today. Yes, that thing was sitting next to me for months and I couldn't bring myself to look at the thing! So I overcame my avoidance and procrastination, and did what I should have done a long time ago. I'm pretty teary eyed about it too. But somehow I need to get past all this grieving and learn to accept it, so I can better parent Ms. D. It takes time, but it's also taking a lot of courage to do what is best for her.

Maybe tomorrow I'll get out my knitting needles or my sewing machine. My avoidance behavior has gone on too long!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Packed Weekend

This weekend was packed with fun, work, and family.

Friday evening's excitement was a local school carnival. Ms. D was supposed to meet up with a neighbor and help take care of her boys. I had to go there after awhile and find Ms. D and help her connect. I could tell by her face that she was overwhelmed by the crowds and loud music  blaring over speakers. It probably wasn't a good idea for me to leave her there in that state, because she ended up finding an old school friend and walking in another direction after the carnival. She didn't call until after Hubby and I walked and drove through the neighborhood trying to locate her. When we did, Hubby had a good talk about safety and giving us a call to let us know where she is. After all, a teenage girl was kidnapped not far from us a couple of months ago and hasn't been found yet. It's kind of nice that the friend's parents were in complete agreement. A couple of years ago, our distress would have been chalked up to us being overprotective homeschool parents. Now, we don't have to explain that Ms. D has FASD and is MR. There are many parents near us who are even more protective than we are.

Saturday morning was horse class. Ms. D loved it from the beginning, but Mr. I was sullen until he got to pet and feed the horses carrots. Microbio daughter came with us, which is good in case I need someone else to take them to one of their classes. If Hubby doesn't have too much homework, I might ask him to come with me. I'm getting pretty tired of Mr. I's stubbornness at trying a new activity. I hope and pray he will act better next time.

Horse class

Ms. D and Mr. I with the ponies

Mr. I feeding a pony
We then got the kids food because we had a few errands to do before coming home. Now this can be tricky because Ms. D is so picky! We went to one of the few places she would eat but Mr. I refused to order anything. He was hungry and thirsty, and unfortunately was past the place of being able to think straight. I ordered for him and then ordered him to eat. He did, and got his brain back.

Later we picked up bread that Hubby delivered to a few churches and people in the neighborhood. Then it was off to church. Both kids were so exhausted, they fell asleep for most of the time.

Today Hubby picked up and delivered more bread while I took a walk with a friend. Then we worked on the back yard. It needed so much work, and we needed to get it to a half way decent state before we could get approved to puppy sit. I've been working on it, but I needed help. Thanks, Hubby and Microbio Daughter!

This afternoon was Mr. I's foot ball games. They won both of them this week so Mr. I was very happy. I spent the time alternating between watching and reading a book.

Football game

This evening, we went to visit our grandson and his family. My daughter-in-law is Filipino, and so after playing with Grandson, we went out for some yummy Filipino food. We topped it off with some halo halo, which is a drink with ice cream, shaved ice, sweet beans, fruit, and other chewy things. It was so good. This picture is after we took the taro ice cream off the top, so it's not quite as pretty, but I love the intent look of Grandson. He sure loves halo halo!
Grandson eyeing the halo halo
This evening I helped a neighbor lay out a bit of sod. It really is a two person job. I did it myself once when I had to get the front yard finished by a certain time after building our house. Hubby had just had minor surgery, so I ended up doing most of it myself, with a little help from my kids. It is a dirty, hard job, so I just had to help my neighbor. While I was doing that, Hubby was moving one of the hives to a woman's house in exchange for a share of the honey. We don't want more than two hives here, but we have over a dozen people who want hives at their homes. I thought it would be difficult to find homes for bee hives, but that hasn't been a problem. Hubby also delivered some more bread to a mens' shelter tonight.
Just a fraction of the bread delivered this weekend

They were very pleased with the food. We now have a number of churches, neighbors, and shelters who will accept food. It didn't take long for us to find a home for hundreds of loaves of donated bread this weekend. We thought that would be difficult, but it hasn't been a problem either!

I'm starting to see a pattern here! The things that I think will be difficult are really working out. I need to trust that God will take care of my kids. It seems like such a difficult thing, to raise them with all the problems they've had to face. But God has a way of helping us to navigate through seemingly impossible situations. It's not always the way I'd imagine or hope, sometimes it's pretty rocky, but it's always much better in the end.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Help One Child

The other night I went to my monthly Help One Child meeting. I can't stress enough how important it is for parents of adopted kids to have a group of people that can empathize with you, share the joys and frustrations, and be a source of support. We usually go around the circle and share what has gone on the past month. Some have had it relatively easy, and we get hope that there are good times coming. Some have had bad months, and we know we are not alone. It's one of those places where we can give and receive advice, knowing that each child is different, each situation is different, but it's worth a try. It's a place where people understand that our kids' behaviors aren't a sign that we are really bad parents, but we are parents trying our best to help our kids who are far from typical.

We also watched a training on a video this time. It was good to hear people comment afterwards about how the training skipped what we most needed to hear, and just gave a disclaimer about following state laws in handling a child who is out of control. We agreed that we were pretty good at guiding a child who is slowly escalating, but what do you do with a child who jumps to a rage as soon as you tell him he needs to wait a minute for a drink of water? Yes, I've had kids rage in the car, three minutes from home, because I wouldn't stop the car immediately, on the highway, and give them a drink. In their minds, they were going to die if they didn't get the water now! This is typical behavior for an infant, but not for an eight or nine year old. The other parents in my Help One Child meeting understand, really understand. They also understand how we can fiercely love our kids, no matter how they behave. And no matter how hard things are, we'd bring our kids into our homes and hearts again, if we could do it all over.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Horse Class

Today was the kids' first horse class at Victory Ranch. Neither one wanted to go, but Ms. D had a great time after she warmed up. I had to bring a kindergartener neighbor boy with us, and he acted better than Mr. I. Hopefully he'll do better next time. He sure needs it! Sometimes a little stretching is good for him!

Here are some pictures of the first day.

Three week old foal and his mama

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Honey Extractor

Hubby got a new honey extractor delivered while he was at his class this evening. It didn't take long for him to get it out and look at it. It moves very smoothly. We'll see how it works when we put the frames in. I can't wait to taste honey from our bees.