Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008

I can't imagine any post being harder to write than this one. Looking back over this past year is exhausting, much less trying to express the range of emotion, all the happenings, in a few short paragraphs. It really can't be done, at least not and leave you with anywhere near an accurate picture. My, how many things can change in one year?

Exactly one year ago this evening, we piled into our Dodge caravan with our 4 children and headed to a friends house. There we met lots of other friends, with great food, played games right till midnight, and then threw confetti all over the place. It was a great night. Just before that Christmas, we had learned that Blessing's birth mother's appeal of her parental termination had been denied, and we would be able to finalize her adoption soon. It was a wonderful holiday season. One favorite moment happened just about Christmas time. Blessing fell and bumped her head. She began crying, and calling me, "Momma, momma, momma". I scooped her in my arms, and noticed the tears in my sister's eyes. "You're her momma", my sister said quietly. I teared up, too. It was only a short time before that she would not have wanted my comfort. All the hours of holding her while she screamed bloody murder and body remained stiff and rigid melted away. She folded to my hold. She looked me in the eyes. Her arms wrapped around my body. What a beautiful, beautiful moment. I was, indeed going to get to be this little girl's forever momma. What a Blessing. ;)

And though that moment didn't take place in 2008, it's exactly how we began our year. Early in the year (February) her adoption was finalized, and we celebrated with great joy!

Over the course of the year, 4 new children came to our home. We no longer drive a mini-van. We also gotten bigger versions of a washer/dryer, and extra pots and pans, too. Some children have left, some still remain. Each child's journey, short or long, has left a deep impression. Extreme highs, joyful celebration when children reach goals previously not known if they could accomplish. Sweet moments of tender love, family games and movie nights, bear hugs from 6 children at once. There is no better life. There were extreme lows. Researching problems, reading prognoses that are less than desirable, turning from one to another with no answers. Steps forwards. Steps backwards. Saying goodbye to children, when you know their chance out in the world is slim. Lower lows than ever before. Fits of rage (not only from my children), pleading with God like never before, hopeless at times. Yet Higher highs than ever before. More hope, love, blessings, joy, and peace than I've ever known. Even now, as I type, the warm breath of a newborn as she sleeps against my neck...the tickles in the ear when a little one has a secret to share... the utterly ridiculous moments having 6 children brings! There is just no other life I'd prefer..

He gives and takes away. Worship has new meaning. Relying on Him has new meaning. Family has new meaning. Friends have new meaning. Life is all new. More exciting, more precious, more sensuous. We've laughed, cried, hugged, and held on for dear life! I can't imagine more heartache, nor can I imagine life any more abundant than it is now. And besides, if all of that's what it takes to praise you, Jesus, bring the rain.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grace's Christmas Favorite

My husband's mom, who we call Mimi, loves Christmas. She loves our kids. She also loves gift giving. This combines for a mountain of treasures beneath her Christmas tree. She starts at the turn of the new year, and every gift carries with it lots of thought for that particular child.

I've mentioned Grace's love for her red dorosy shoes more than once. And her obsession with the Wizard of Oz is well known by all who care for her. Mimi lovingly made, yes, home-made, a Dorothy dress. She found her a new pair of ruby red slippers (this is her 3rd, the first two looking more than a little worn). Also in the box was a basket, which held tucked inside blue ribbon bows for her hair, and a little black puppy dog.

Mimi knew that Grace would love it eventually. But she wasn't sure she would know what it was right away. She thought she wouldn't recognize it as Dorothy's dress. I assured her she would, that she knew everything "Oz" very well. But Mimi continued to worry.

When Grace opened that particular package, she first pulled out the red slippers. "Oooooooo, Pretty", she said. She was excited already, and hadn't even yet noticed there was more in the box. Look at Hope's face. Isn't that precious? That's my favorite part of that picture... a big sister so lovingly anxious for her little sister to see her gift.




Next, she pulled out the puppy dog, stood, twirled him around, and exclaimed, "Oh, Toto!", with all the dramatic flare of a child who had lost her puppy months ago. I laughed. Mimi beamed.



The dress had to be put on immediately. You might have noticed it in her picture in the previous post. And as you might suspect it can only be torn from her skin with a fight, to be washed each night, and then to be donned again the next morning.



After all the gift opening, an aunt and uncle who she rarely sees, and doesn't really know, came for lunch. As fate would have it, her aunt's name is Dorothy. Grace bounced in with her little dress on, and Aunt Dorothy ravished her with compliments. Then she said, "You know, my name is Dorothy." Grace looked her up and down as if trying to find a piece of the Dorothy she knows in her dress or body somewhere. Then very matter of factly said, "No, it's not." And bounced off singing, "Flollow (not a typo, that's how she says it) the yellow brick road."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Long time, No blog

Christmas has been wonderful, and I'm still just completely overwhelmed when I think of this last year. I desperately want to write that end-of-the-year- post that can at least give a tiny glimpse of how I feel about it, but words seem to fall so short, and lack any accuracy of it's depth at all.

So much is happening right at once! A lot of it, I can't share because of privacy to our foster children, and really absolutely nothing is set in stone. Yet the recent chain of events is leaving us with some real possibilities that completely change our future and how we plan for it. Mostly having to do with the number of children in our home, and how many we might joyfully celebrate as fully ours. That possibility is incredible, and would be nothing but welcomed. However, that does not mean that it won't bring it's own challenges, and change much about our life and future.

At least there is finally a new post, and even a few pictures to share from Christmas. My mom and dad got the middle girls these great little riding toys. EVERY. ONE. has had a turn on these things, not only the little girls, but the big ones, and the even bigger ones! That's my sister on one of them! ;) They aren't powered by pedals, and you don't push them with your feet. It's hard to explain, but they are "motored" by turning the steering wheel back and forth. TOO. MUCH. FUN.

Charity, pushing my sister... rather delightfully, I might add! I love the look on her fact! And my sister looks like a bug... she's 29, by the way, not exactly a little kid! I had a turn, as did my mom, too! hahahaha!


Charity, pushing Faith, and Grace:


Blessing:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Practice Sessions

It must be some new fad I've bought into about raising kids. I can't tell you how many practice sessions we've had since Blessing's arrival in our home over a year ago. When Charity joined our family, then the ghost, practice sessions hit an all time high. I wish I had video taped some of them. I mean, we practice things "normal" kids don't usually need to practice. Like, with Blessing we practiced looking at the dog without falling into the fetal position and screaming bloody murder. Really. We would stand her in the room, tell her "Let's practice". Pull a stuffed animal dog out complete with mocked growling, and ask, "what are you going to do?" and I'd hold my arms out so she'd know to come to me when she was afraid. At first she didn't get it, but eventually the game of jumping into mom's arms became something fun. I'd laugh and squeeze her, and make a big deal. Then we'd put her back in the middle of the room and call Toby. Of course it took her awhile to come to me in the real situation, but you get the idea of a practice session.

Oh, the things we've practiced. We've practiced saying, "yes, mom" with a smile rather than folded arms and pouty lips. We've practiced putting an empty plate into the sink without licking it down, first. We've practiced a low, normal toned voice rather than whining. We've practiced getting in and out of the car seat quickly. Patting gently rather than way-laying. Petting rather than kicking. Looking at who you are talking to in the eye. Telling the truth. And the list goes on and on and on.

Just a few days ago I summoned all 5 older ones to the rug, where I then told them we'd been having some trouble. I told Faith to tell me "no" when I asked her something. I said, "Faith, will you help me put these dished away?" She said, "No". And then I threw the biggest, exaggerated fit possible. Really. Got down in the floor and kicked and screamed and said phrases common to the two born of the heart babies. "It's not FAIR!!!" and so on and so on. I did a good job. ;)

Then I asked her again. Again she said "nope." And I folded my arms and pouted and whined. You get the picture? We went through that cycle several times, with me giving different, yet inappropriate responses. The giggles were fantastic. Did you know throwing a worthy fit is exhausting? I had no idea my little ones were getting so much exercise! Whew!

From there, I suggested the kids ask me for something they commonly ask for. Then I had them first give the WRONG response. Then I had them give the RIGHT response. This was hilarious to me, because each one actually asked for something that they ALWAYS ask for. Something that drives me crazy, especially when they ask at the most inopportune times. Then, each one did EXACTLY what they usually do that is wrong. Might I remind you I did not tell them what to do, just to do the wrong thing. Faith rolled her eyes. Hope looked pitifully sad. Charity whined with all the flare we usually see. Grace did some fake crying complete with real tears. And Blessing cocked that little head to the side, jumped up and down, and proclaimed, "But, Mom...." and then fell into her fit. Really funny. It proves how devious they really can be, how fake the fits are, and how they often ARE in control when I want to chalk it up to something in their past. I'm NOT saying there aren't times when rage-full fits are a result of being overwhelmed and their little bodies' way of releasing major stress, but more times than not it is something they can control... or at least should be learning to control. Any way you think about it, it was certain proof they absolutely understand their normal responses are not correct, and they are fully capable of rising to the occasion and responding appropriately.

So... go practice! (If your kids need it, like mine!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fine Arts

I began second guessing my decision to take my 11 and 8 year olds to "The Nutcracker" when one belched at supper and then hysterical laughter by all followed. One also managed to look much like a dog lapping up his food from a bowl, practically laying on the table. Forget not having elbows up there, how about entire torsos? There we sat, with friends, all dressed up, which we rarely do, and yet manners fled them. I had failed to have a lesson about concert etiquette before hand, and was realizing that maybe it wasn't such a good idea as I watched them have less than desired behavior at the dinner table. Not to mention they did not sit next to me, so I couldn't pinch them into properness. Though there may have been a kick or two under the table.

To be completely honest, I've never cared much about ballet. I understand the strength, dedication and hard work that goes into making something so incredibly hard look so beautiful and elegant. Really, I do. As a martial artist, I absolutely understand the strength it takes to hold a leg out so high for so long. And though every martial artist in the world would hate my guts and strongly disagree, I actually think it takes MORE strength to dance so gracefully than it takes to get through a form or break boards. But for whatever reason, though I completely respect and can even appreciate the art, there is not the same deep love for it that I have for the music alone. Oh, the music! It's too hard to put into words the love and adoration I have for such beauty. Even as they began warming up, I watched intently, listening to different instruments, each with it's own beautiful sound. Oh, how I missed playing, myself. I leaned over to Faith and whispered in her ear..., "I spent many an hour while you grew in my belly, playing in different bands, orchestras, and gigs like this." She asked why I stopped if I missed it so much. I understand the beauty of relinquishing something you love to focus on children and family. There just isn't time to devote to the kind of practice it takes to play on that level. But right at that moment, I had to wonder what life would be like had she not come so unexpected... my husband and I had dreams of touring, playing, and performing. And I couldn't bring myself to tell her she was the reason. At least, not like that. I was afraid she couldn't understand that though I miss it, and still dream of what might have been, she is worth every minute of anything I might have let go of.

And then, the lights dimmed and the ballet began. Faith watched intently for the first, oh, 2 minutes. She quickly faded. And though I expected her to enjoy it, her boredness (like that made up word?) was obvious. She wiggled in her seat, sighed often, and would have fallen asleep had I allowed her to lean over.

I thought my 8 year old, Hope, would fade like Faith did. I knew she would like it, but doubted her ability to really watch and enjoy the entire thing. But, oh, how wrong I was. That little one sat captured the EN. TIRE. ballet. She watched wide-eyed and softly whispered her amazement, "ooooo" she would say. Or , "oh, how beautiful". Or "Mom, did you see her?" "Mom, look at that!" "Mom, Did you see that?"

She had lots of favorite moments that she relived on the ride home. She laughed hysterically when Fritz received a spanking. She loved the life size dolls who could do amazing things with their bodies. She loved Mrs. Ginger and her children (one of which was a friend of hers who had auditioned for the part). And of course, the snowflakes were "the most beautiful thing." And lets not forget the arabian dancers, the chinese dancers, and the sugar plum fairy.

And now, she's BEGGING for ballet. And twirling ever-so-gracefully, or not, across the living room 50 times a day.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Morning Routine


So the picture has absolutely nothing to do with the post. I was looking for an image (without uploading from my own camera) that would go with getting kids up in the morning. For some reason, my search words pulled this image, and I thought it was hilarious, and fit my exhausted mood. So there you go, the link between the post and the picture! ;)

I was telling a friend yesterday about our morning routine. Now, I must warn you that just a few short weeks ago our morning was NOTHING like this. At that time, we were home schoolers. We slept till 8 or so, mornings were leisure like, and it wasn't really until lunch or after that any real work was accomplished, chores/school or otherwise. The combination of choosing to put our kids into school, learning more about how to help RAD kids, and a need to affectively get everyone ready and in the car by 7:25 without spending my morning yelling and nagging, spurred my husband and I to hammer out a routine that works for us in the morning. I'm proud of how well it's gone, and thought I'd share.

First of all, I did some practice sessions with the kids. I talked, explained, posted some rules and chores, and even had the kids literally walk through the "morning" the way we expected. (Remind me to dedicate a whole post to some of the practice sessions we've had. You're sure to die laughing) Then, we started the first morning with a bang. I think one of the main keys to making this work is that we committed to not ask the kids over and over to get their things done. They don't get them done, breakfast is not served to them. I have had kids come to the table, only to be completely ignored as I spooned every one else's breakfast onto their plate. And yes, even my slightly delayed 3 year old knew what needed to be done and completed it without being told again. She screamed for awhile first, certain we'd break and remind her. And I'll even admit I wasn't sold. I wasn't convinced she understood why I was ignoring her and not putting anything on her plate. It was hard not to tell her again that her bed needed made and her shoes needed to be on her feet. You know what? After only a few minutes of ignoring, she went to her room, finished up, and came to the table with her shoes on. SUCCESS!!!! And then a little anger on my part, because that means the little toot has had me repeating myself senselessly when she really knows what she should be doing. ;) They're so much smarter than we give them credit for.

I wake them at 6:30. You'll be happy to know wake up call comes in the form of beautiful, loud singing on my part, "Rise, and Shine, and Give God the Glory, Glory!" Complete with enthusiastic clapping and ripping of covers to expose pajama'd bodies to the cold. Faith, just this morning, said with hands over her ears, "Really? I mean, really... must you? Must you do this EV.ERY. MOR. NING.?" In fact, Blessing is the only one that seems happy to see me and joins in song. I picked the right name for that one, huh?

I serve breakfast at 7. But only to children who are at the table, fully dressed with shoes on, whose beds have been made and rooms are clean. They also must have already brushed the hair and teeth. I realize the teeth thing is slightly out of order, but, I assure you there is NO WAY anyone's teeth would be brushed at all if we waited until after breakfast. Can you imagine? 5 girls gathered around one sink right about the time we should be walking out the door? Besides, nothing can be held over them as incentive if breakfast has already been served. The oldest 2 do have a couple of extra morning chores. They make sure the bathroom is back in shape, including kitty litter and sweeping around her litter box. Often, the kids are actually done before I'm done with breakfast. In that case, they each go to their "Think within yourself" spot, and do a brain gym we call strong sitting till I'm ready. I'll try to remember to explain that one a little later, too, but for now just know they are still, quiet, in one spot practicing some self control while thinking or praying. Blessing, because of the drugs she's been exposed to, has the most trouble with this part, but is getting better all the time, and poor impulse control just runs strong in her veins. I usually have her sit close to Faith, who just reminds her to sit back down every time she gets up, and that's usually enough to keep her on her spot.

Now, sounds great, doesn't it? And most mornings it really does go that well. Don't get some picture perfect idea in your head, though. This morning was one of those that just didn't go right. We still have those. I'm not even sure exactly how it went wrong this morning, but no one was strong sitting. In fact, 2 kids had oranges on the way out the door, 1 will eat at school, and I told the others we'd eat when we returned home. Blessing left with NO shoes on her feet, Charity was crying because she couldn't find her jacket, I was still in house shoes, and Hope was desperately trying to find a book she was suppose to return today. So, every morning is not that smooth... But most have been, and I'm proud of how every one is doing. Charity even helped Blessing put on her socks yesterday morning. For those of you who can't appreciate that, you should know that Charity has shown very little interest in helping anyone but herself unless she has a 2nd agenda. Blessing is neurologically challenged and socks give her the worst fits! Those seams, the feel on her feet, I'm not sure exactly what goes through her mind... but putting on socks is usually an ordeal and they must be pulled back of and put on again several times and there are often tears and throwing the socks across the room and kicking involved! ;) Which, by the way, is the beauty of the morning routine. I'm not fighting with her anymore. No socks and shoes? No breakfast. No emotion. No pleading. Just ignoring. And eventually, she gets them on herself and appears at her place to be served! And I congratulate, tell her how nice it is to see her this morning, and all is well! How 'bout them apples?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reflection

Wordless Wednesday just really deserves a few words. We'd been threatening to put up the Christmas decorations for several weeks, not caring that it was way too early by some folks' standards. I LOVE this time of year, and the kids were begging, but we were simply just too busy till the week of Thanksgiving. That was an emotional week, as we had a little drama concerning family gatherings and a new baby girl that just so happens to have skin slightly darker than ours. (It was extended family, you can rest assured all of our parents and siblings have been nothing but smitten by the new baby) It was really not at all worthy of a response from my husband and I, though we were "barred" from a few gatherings over the course of a year. It doesn't at all affect us directly other than those gatherings that have been tradition, but we aren't bothered by that. We are, however, completely disgusted with a still living idea among "Christians" that white and black people (though, I say again, she is not black, or at least, not just black) should not live or worship together. I new that it would not be a choice that other family members would make for themselves, but I really fully believed they couldn't possibly look at a baby in desperate need of a loving family and deny that based on color, or even believe that we shouldn't, as foster parents, care for her. Apparently, when they showed up at the door, I was supposed to take a look and say, "oh, wait, she's the wrong color, take her back." ( I actually did know that she was bi-racial before she came, but you get the idea).

Anyway, again I'm chasing rabbits, but it does help you understand my frame of mind that week. It made me sick (literally, I spent much of the week nauseous) to think of this little girl's future rejection and hurt because of some people's ignorance. I'd look in her little face and my heart would break. Oh, how Satan is so skilled at attacking those things that we just slightly question about ourselves, and then suddenly confidence in who we are... and whose we are, and the very things that make us beautiful become something we hate about ourselves. My husband and I fully anticipated rejection towards ourselves, but I suppose I did not process that rejection all the way down to the little one, and what she might one day feel. I also did not consider the affect it would have on our parents. I mean, I knew they would love and accept, so I didn't blink. I'm now realizing it affects their relationships with their siblings and their immediate families. I'm not as confident as I once was.

But I can tell you what I am... and that's fully in love. Oh, how wonderful it is to hold her, to feel her warm breath against my neck as I rock and sing. She's smiling at us now, recognizing our voices, and even turning to see her foster sisters playing. Our 3 a.m. feedings are special quiet times when I get to hear what she has to say... those sweet little coos and beautiful eyes that lock on mine.

And she's not the only huge blessing in our life. As I hung those stockings across the mantel, I got really tickled. I was laughing so hard as I was trying to get them all to fit up there. My husband was laughing at me, and saying, "What in the world are you laughing at?" "Look at these!", I said. "I can't even fit them all up here! We really have too many kids, we're gonna have to hang some on the wall!" And as I stood gazing across 8 stockings, suddenly my laughing became crying. Poor Hubby. He was looking at me like I was from outer space again. I know, so completely womanish and hormonal. But really, this year has been the wildest ride EVER. We've had a total of 8 kids, 4 of them brand new to our home this year. There have been ups like never before, and downs like never before. Some days have been so hard I wanted to quit. I mean, really quit. Somebody give me a gun. Or a rope. Some days have been so full of joy and hope and laughter and blessings that I thought my heart would burst. I'll save some specifics for the end of the year review, sure to come around New Year's Eve, but this year has just been like no other in my life. And the hugeness of it all... oh, so much bigger than myself.... just hit as I stood looking at all those stockings. First I couldn't stop laughing, then I couldn't stop crying, and I'm just so completely overwhelmed with how blessed we are, the gifts we've been given, that we've survived, and not just survived, but are living in this messed up world with the joy, love, grace, and favor of our Savior.

...A Savior whose birth I'm so excited about celebrating this season! We've got some fun things coming soon.... I'm taking the big girls to see the Nutcracker Saturday. We're having a big "Happy Birthday" party for Jesus with a couple of other families we're great friends with. All my kids will be in a Christmas pageant (actually, 2) this year. And we'll be filling a stocking for Jesus as well! So... what are you doing for Jesus's birthday this year?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Don't Wear Panty Hose

Well, there was a funeral about 3 years ago....

But Grace is only 4, and I suppose she doesn't remember that one time. Grace needed to see the doctor, which I don't typically do very quickly with my born of the body babies. In fact, I have a reputation with my doctor. The born of the heart babies are rushed in for the simplest things. It's not favoritism, more like accountability. As a foster parent, I can't afford for something simple to become major, and be accused of not caring for them properly. My own children? Oh, they'll live. And that must really be in question if I'm taking one of them to see a doctor. Although I did recently take Hope for a wart the size of Mt. Rushmore even though I knew it wasn't life threatening. However, she had been hobbling for a few weeks because the thing was right smack in the middle of her tender little foot. My natural remedies seemed to only be encouraging more growth, so I gave in. I also took her in 3 weeks after swallowing a large metal ball when she set off a metal detector, too. I figured 3 weeks in was a little long. ;) Another post for another day....

Anyway, the real story is that Grace's throat looked horrible, and she had run fever for 3 days with no sign of improvement. So I hauled her with the rest of my crew to see Dr. S. Now Grace is used to seeing Dr. S, after all she delivered her and has cared for her since. Not only that, but between 6 kids, 2 newborns that needed often check-ups, and Grace thinks Dr. S is her best friend. We were only passing Dr. S. in the hall while she was working with SOMEONE ELSE when Grace started shouting her complaints. "My throat is sore, Dr. S., and my ears have cereal and boogers in them, and I have a ganglion cyst (which actually disappeared, but she still tells everyone she has one), and are YOU gonna take my throat out?" There was some laughing from doctor and nurses alike as I tried to shush her and explain she would get her time in a few minutes. I also told her that Dr. S. would not have to take her throat out, but the frog in there had to go, and if she didn't hush that I might ask her to take out the tongue as well. She replied that THAT was a "no good idea" because she needed her tongue to taste sucker she was sure to get as she left the office for being a good girl. Then she decided maybe it WAS a good idea after all because she couldn't taste broccoli or get in trouble for sticking her tongue out. And then I pulled my hair out because this kid can't stop talking!

Eventually Dr. S. stepped into our room and looked at Grace's throat and ears and the spot where the ganglion cyst used to be. She aims to please. ;) Then, she sat on her stool and began talking to me. I could see the inquisitive look on Grace's face, as she sat across the room from the Doctor, eyeing her legs. As the Doctor and I talked, she slowly, stealthily, creeped over beside the doctor. She then promptly sat down on the floor right beside her stool. I knew what she was about to do, but Dr. was still talking, and well, it's rude to interrupt. Sure enough Grace's hand slowly reached for Dr. S's leg. You see, she had on panty hose. Grace had quit looking at her leg, and was watching Dr. S's face intently as she carefully, slowly reached forward and touched her leg. Grace then proceeded to rub her little hand up and down Dr. S's calf, which I'm sure was silky smooth and a nice feel to this little 4 year old's mind. I honestly can't tell you Dr. S's initial response, I was too busy trying resist the uncontrollable urge to bust into a fit of laughter and keep my composure. Doctor did eventually look down at Grace, right about the time she quit innocently rubbing her leg, and proceeded to actually pinch the panty hose, pull them away from Dr. S's leg, and then let go. They snapped back into place, and Grace was delighted. "What ARE those?" she said, wide-eyed and full of wonder. Completely unaware she was being ever-so-inappropriate, and extremely excited about this new find, her eyes and face said it all. She would definitely need to ask Santa for a pair of those! I'm so thankful our doctor is also a mother herself. She was only amused and did not press any kind of charges for sexual harassment.

And sure enough, in the van on the way home, she piped up, "Mom, why don't you wear those nice things?" Because they wouldn't look right under my jeans, darling. Cleaning poopie diapers and mixing juice cups and refereeing fights over puzzle pieces just doesn't fit with panty hose wearing outfits. The time will come..... and then I"ll miss these days.

Friday, November 21, 2008

11 Years Ago

I became a mother. I had been warned of how my little one would not look pretty right off. About how nasty babies are at birth, their faces flat, heads coned, red and just not very pretty. I was a teenager, excited about being "mom" but scared to death as well. Tons of family eagerly awaited her arrival outside my hospital room. I had spent 9 months crawling around on my hands and knees. I lost weight... something my 100 pound frame didn't tolerate very well. I honestly can't remember what weight I got down to, I think it was 90 pounds. I was so young and dumb that I thought I was pregnant, and just supposed to be sick, so I let it go day in and day out without holding a thing down. When I couldn't get myself out of the tub one day, my husband helped me out, literally dressed me and carried me down to the car. Upon arrival at the doctor's office, they promptly sent me over to the hospital and declared I couldn't leave until I was at an acceptable weight. Lovely, huh?

The day she was born all I could think was how amazingly beautiful she was. Those silly people who said newborns were less than pleasing to look at hadn't seen MY baby! She came into the world complaining about the competency of the nursing staff, demanding better service, and certain her parents couldn't be meant for her. After all, we were babies ourselves, how could we possibly give accurate care to a princess such has herself?

Not much has changed. ;) She's still opinionated and not much can be said to persuade her otherwise. She often instructs me on how the younger ones should be cared for, and I'm constantly reminding her that she made it this far without dying, that Dad and I are perfectly capable of caring for them, and might even know what's best! She was an amazing little girl, that I often took credit for. It wasn't until the 3rd or 4th child that I realized she was what she is in spite of me rather than because of me. That I really had very little to do with her incredible ability to discern, to choose her own path no matter what those around her are doing, to stand firm in her convictions, and care so deeply for those who are struggling. She's more grounded than even I give her credit for. She likes what she likes, hates what she doesn't, and there is very little gray. She's a rule follower, and has little tolerance for those who don't respect the rules or each other. She is mostly serious, but when she laughs that true, full, belly laugh, everyone around her does the same. She's witty, and her sense of humor is very different than our other children's. She's smart, oh so beautiful, already has a deep love for her Savior and a desire to share His love with others, and she is AMAZING with little toddlers and babies. Right now, she wants to work in hippotherapy when she grows up. She has ALWAYS loved horses, and children, and I think that would be an incredible opportunity for her to work with both. She has so much exposure to emotionally disturbed children, as well as those with developmental delays, and her care for them is far beyond her age. I'm not always sure that's a good thing, I want to make sure she's a little girl as long as she can be, but her talents and passions are becoming clearer and clearer with each passing year.

Though I certainly miss days of rocking, nursing, and singing to my sweet little angel, I look forward to sharing the rest of my life with her. I love this stage, too! She's not only my little girl, now, but we have "real" conversations, she's becoming less of me, and more of herself. And less of herself, and more of Jesus. Such an incredible life to be a part of! Happy Birthday, Faith.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

Baby Must-Have(s):




Here is my favorite thing for my little one! I LOVE this sling. The picture is terrible.... that is true stay-at-home-mom form! The old, gray, ratty sweatshirt. Complete with spit up on he shoulder. I promise, I can don a sleek black top and look cute as a button with that same sling. Mercy has spent hours in it, it's very comfy for her, and I can hold and still have 2 free hands. LOVE IT! I have one of these, which I also love and strongly recommend for any parent, but I don't like it until baby is about 5 months old. Then, it's the absolute best way for wearing baby.



Here's another favorite. My other babies didn't have these, and I just love them for Mercy. Actually, my older kids like them, too. They usually wear them on their arms - you can check out the website to see all kinds of patterns and ways to wear them. For Mercy, I love that I can just put a onesie on her, these great babylegs, and change her diaper without the frustrating buttons or pulling on and off pants, and they keep her legs warm! ;) She isn't old enough yet, but I'm betting they don't slide off when crawling like other pants seem to do. And even the body suits aren't good for crawling because babies somehow end up pulling their knees and feet all the way up to where their belly should be! ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just for Alyssa's Mom

Dear Alyssa's Mom (cause I don't know what else to call you!),


You should know that you are a VERY special person. Because I have 2 rules. Never forward emails. And never play Tag. But since I crack you up, and that's like the bestest compliment ever, I'm gonna play! ;)

So, here are the rules:

Aw, heck, I'm not going to follow the rules, so, I might as well not post them!

Ok, ok, cut to the chase..... Seven things about me:

1. I have bungee jumped, sky coasted, been out of the country, served in our armed forces, broken real boards with karate kicks, and had babies with no drugs. However, I have never whistled. It's my thorn in the flesh. God wanted to keep me humble, so he gave me defected lips. HOURS of trying to no avail!

2. I LOVE the stickers from Sonic. You know, the one they stick to your cup with your receipt. I carefully peel it off so that I can play with it for hours.

3. I have an obsession with names. Yes, names. Like, I HAVE to know what the pregnant lady is naming her baby. I love to know everyone's middle names and why their parents picked the names they did. I still pick out names I like for little girls and boys though my baby naming days are over. Weird, huh?

4. I CAN'T STAND lotion between my toes. My skin crawls just typing it.

5. I've done a lot of things wrong, but this is what I got right: My husband, and the children that followed.

6. Every time I go out with my kids at least one woman says, "Don't you know what causes that?" (referring to the number of children with me). I LOVE to answer, "Yes, but it's TOO good to give up. Is your husband doing something wrong?"

7. Bad language really bugs me. Unless I'm the one using it.

Thanks for thinking of me, Alyssa's Mom. ;) I have enjoyed your blog and the encouragement when learning to live with my own RADical daughter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

He Fits Right In

Toby, AKA the Tobster, AKA Tobs, AKA Toby Coke, our miniature schnauzer, disappeared while we were at camp. We left him in our fenced in back yard, at about 4:00 in the morning. When my sister came to check on him at about 10:00 that same morning, he wasn't there. He's always been Houdini. We gave him the wrong name.

My sister called the pound, walked the streets for the week we were gone. We did the same when we returned. My little girls shed lots of tears for our dear lost friend. I might have even shed one or two, and hard-hearted hubby searched for him more than anyone. We assumed after the second week we wouldn't see him again. Were certain after the third. Oh, the sad little faces!

I didn't really want another dog, but looking at those long faces I somehow found myself asking if they wanted to look into adopting one. My oldest announced, "Absolutely not, just another one to love too much and then cry over!". Oh, the teaching I need to do with that one. But, still, I understand. She kind of gets that from me, anyway.

A good friend of mine rescues dogs from the pound. She had been seeing a schnauzer there, for about a month. Yesterday, she chose him, and called me to see what caring for a Schnauzer was like. "Don't put him up on your site till I talk to TJ and see if maybe we want him." She said she thought he was a puppy, salt and pepper (which Toby really isn't), and she thought he was a lot smaller than Toby, too. She suggested driving by to show him to us. I think maybe she knows I'm a sucker for a puppy.

And so out from the van, jumps none other than TOBY!!! Can you believe it? I really wasn't convinced it was him at first. He doesn't answer his name. He doesn't act the same. Poor guy's been locked up in a concrete cage for a month. No sunshine. No walks. Little food. His hair is WAY overgrown, he's skinnier, and I think he's suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Considering the nature of our family, I suppose he fits right in! :) PTSD?? Join the club. What's life without a little RAD? or ODD? or ADD? or PTSD? Heck, why not all of the above?

The girls' reactions? Not a chance I can put that into words. Some moments, are just priceless.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Not Me Monday

This did NOT happen at my house!!!!!

And for the record, I was NOT too busy. The bat made it onto the windshield while my husband was driving, and I really didn't know until 2 days later, when I was INSIDE the van, going 60 mph. After that, I just forgot. I was NOT waiting on my husband to dispose of it. Because, that would indicate I expect him to do what I ask. I would NEVER do that. And I most certainly would NOT continue to see that bat staring at me every time I walked outside and just ignore it there. NOT ME!

And she even left out more of the gross things that she DIDN'T see! Faith killed a deer on the youth hunt a little over a week ago. Being her first, she was excited to say the least. Because the dear deer lacked any antlers for keepsakes, she and her Papa decided to cut off her hoof. Home to my house it came, in a little ziplock sandwich bag. I yelled, er, um, I mean instructed her to get that thing out of my house! And to take it out of the bag and hang it so it would dry out. She heard the "Get that out of my house!" part. Of course her ears turned off after the first sentence. My kids NEVER do that. They ALWAYS follow directions in their entirety.

Faith did not coming running INTO THE HOUSE, with that hoof, still in the bag, while my dear friend was here. There were NOT any bugs in there. No maggots, either. NOT IN MY HOUSE! NEVER! (You'd think my house was full of boys, rather than 6 girls!)

I am NOT gross! My carport is ALWAYS clean. Bat-free. Bird-poop free. Acorn free. And most importantly, Maggot free.

Also, I would NEVER post a Not-Me-Monday without following the rules. I would NEVER do it wrong. So now, I'll fix what I did NOT do. Stop by MckMomma's and check out her blog! She's got a new little miracle that you can join in the celebration for!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Never Ending Story

Cook a meal. Feed a meal. Clean up a meal.

Cook a meal. Feed a meal. Clean up a meal.

Cook a meal. Feed a meal. Clean up a meal.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Two Thugs

Oh, yes, they were. Their car could not have been older. It was dented and hoopty looking. But, my! how the rims on that thing shined! They nearly blinded me as they wheeled towards my family car. Ok, so maybe my "car" is a 12 passenger, but hey, it's a love-hate relationship. Anyway, I new thugs were close before I ever saw them. My windows were rattling, and that low bass thump literally shook my body. My ear drums stung.

I was minding my own business, of course, waiting in a very long line of folks for a spot by a gas pump. Rarely an issue in this small town, but every lane had at least 2 cars. After Grandpa pulled his old truck away from the pump, I was next in line. I'd been behind him, waiting patiently and joyfully, because that's what Christians do. But just as I was shifting into gear, the thugs came whipping in from in front of Grandpa's truck and I'm sure my face said it all. Are you kidding me? I know they didn't just whip in there like they didn't see me waiting here in line! I was disgusted. 2 black men. Skin tight caps on their heads. Windows down, arms hung out the vibrating windows. How rude.

Then, the driver smiled. Huh? Yeah, that's right. He mouthed, "sorry", while buddy thelma waved me into my spot with his arm that was hung out the window, pointing his thumb towards the pump to the beat of his nasty music. His head tilted back in that "there ya go" kind of way.

A huge grin from me. Then a shameful blush. Lesson learned. I thought I wasn't judgmental. humph.

And on the way out of the parking lot we almost had a head on collision again. I waved big. 2 thugs. Nah, my 2 buddies, waved me ahead of them. Ladies first, you know.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Trio's Song

My two 4 yr. olds, and my 3 yr. old are walking through the house with their arms around each other, singing a song in ever-so-lovely-and-loud voices. The actual words to the song are:

"There's no better time to worship you. There's no better time to worship you."

What they are singing:

"There's no better time to wear shampoo. There's no better time to wear shampoo." It does kind of sound like "worship you." ha!

Reminds me of a certain other little singer (Faith) who, after hearing in church "I've got peace like a river", ran through the house one day on her way to the bathroom singing at the top of her little lungs, "I've gotta pee like a river, I've gotta pee like a river!". She was 2. I laughed so hard, my protruding pregnant belly shook like Santa's. And then my pressured bladder had to pee like a river, too.

Lord, don't let me forget the good stuff.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not Me Monday

I did not drive around town Sat. running errands, the van fully kid-free, yet jamming to the Veggie Tales' version of "Ease on Down the Road". Not me!

Last week with the van loaded down with kids, I absolutely did not stop at a stop light, throw it in park, unbuckle and jump over 2 seats to sweetly re-buckle a kid who thinks climbing out of her seat is funny. I repeat sweetly. I did not hurdle back over the seats into my own driver's seat just as the light was turning green.

I then, did NOT see a policeman in the adjacent turning lane. And I in no way smiled and waved. Because that would just be stupid. And He did not smile and wave back. He also did not pull at his own seat belt, and point to mine, which wasn't buckled. Because, you see, the driver should always be buckled. Heck, the driver should be in her seat. Where I ALWAYS am! :)

Later, I did not see another policeman. Gosh, I'm glad it wasn't the same one. You know, the one I didn't see earlier that morning. Anyway, this time I was in my seat, minding my own business. I did not have a cell phone in one hand. I also did not have a french vanilla cappuccino in the other hand. Because that would leave no hands for driving.... only elbows. I'm much safer than that! And I absolutely DID NOT wave at this police officer, either. There definitely wasn't some slight spewing of sweet coffee from my mouth when I noticed him there...as I hurriedly tried to place the cup in it's holder, while simultaneously throwing the phone across the van as if it was never to my ear. NOT ME!

The officer did not drive off laughing. I did not turn 10 shades of red. My children did not ridicule me about "Po-Po's gonna get Momma." Where did they hear that, anyway? Who calls the police "Po-Po"?

And last, but not least, I did not kick goldfish crumbs under the couch in a quick last stitch effort to not look like the worst house-keeper ever when the doorbell rang. NOT ME!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

He calls me "Mom"

Early in Feb. Charity came to live with us. By the end of February, her older brother joined our family as well. We fully intended to be their forever family. Our whole hearts in love with them instantly. Just the same way we instantly fell in love with Blessing. The ghost's time with us was fairly short, he left our home at the end of May. It was our decision for him to leave, a decision that tore our hearts to pieces, and left us broken like never before. I cried. For months. Still do, at times.

His visit with us this weekend brought a wide range of feelings, each feeling an overwhelming rush, and each bringing with it a cycle of thought that only goes around and around and never really ends. Were we right? Were we wrong? Could we have done something different? Yet knowing it's impossible to pray harder, or to love more than I did... and still do.

He still calls me "mom". Yet, I can't be that to him. Does he still wish for that? Do I still wish for that? It was also obvious, though we enjoyed our visit with him, that we cannot be his forever family. We simply can not meet his needs as well as the needs of the rest of our children. It sounds so cruel. Saying those words is oh so painful.

His time living and then leaving us has taught me more than any other circumstance in my whole life. He taught me what I could handle. Actually, that's not true, he taught me what God's empowerment can allow me to handle. He taught me what I can't handle, a lesson that was much harder to learn. He taught me love isn't enough. He taught me that though my plan seemed much more magnificent, that God and I don't think alike. He taught me that the deepest desire, belief, and faith in healing doesn't mean it will come. He taught me that God's grace is, indeed, sufficient. That God is absolutely He who gives.... and He who takes away. He taught me that I will choose to follow with my life and say, "And if not....".

And it's most ironic that he dressed as, and is referred to in this post as "the ghost". Because his memory is much like that... I remember him with love and joy. The bike ramps and boots and dirty jeans and swinging from rafters were all things foreign. For a time, tutus and skirts and twirling girls were not the only things in my home. There was a boy. A loud boy who made me laugh, those full belly laughs, as he ran through the house in his batman pajamas, a sheet as his cape. A boy whose socks were never clean, and who left a rank smell in the van and his room and everywhere else he visited. A smell he was proud of. He was rambunctious and full of life and his smile could make my heart skip a beat. Yes, I loved being a mother to a boy. And yet his memory also brings sadness, and a pain that is haunting, allowing guilt and questions and anger to rise again. And I throw up my feelings all over my God and again, grace is sufficient.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!


Here's my trick or treating crew: from left to right, that's Blessing, then my sister as Cruella De Ville, baby Mercy in little orphan Annie's arms. Hope is a beauty queen (imagine that), the ghost is Charity's biological brother who is spending the weekend with us, and Grace and Charity were fairies (Blessing, too). I'll be taking the ghost back "home" tomorrow, I'll try to share more about his story later. At least a little.

Charity acted very much like the RADling she is most of the day today. Brother was coming for a visit, and she needed to sabotage any fun and express her utter dissatisfaction with the way life is going. Not to mention that when brother is here, she should be the absolute center of his attention, and she is very good at manipulating him into doing just about anything, even putting a bow in his hair and calling himself a girl. Her behavior was horrific, really. By 4:00 I was struggling with staying calm and collected. But the evening wrapped up very nicely and I'm extremely proud of her behavior during trick or treating and afterwards (despite the mound of sugar!). Though I was struggling, I expected as much for the full stay of her brother, so for her to calm down and enjoy the evening is a huge accomplishment for her!

We had fun, but I think next year we'll think of something more creative for Halloween. Start a new tradition.... any ideas?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gracie Pooh


She's such a mess. I thought this picture was a good example of her crazy character. She was headed to her Tiny Tiger class, which we just recently started back at after a break. She and Charity both started, actually, and they are both excited and doing very well. Except Grace can't keep her mouth closed. Even during class. But VERY cute, none the less.

Notice the hair piece. So Typical Grace. She loves the bright, the out of the ordinary, the braids (Dorothy-ish), and the way it "tickles my back, momma".

Notice the eyes are closed. What she's actually doing is clicking those stinky red shoes together and saying, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home." Complete with all the drama and wishfulness of actually dreaming herself from Oz to Kansas. She is Dorosy, after all. And that is not a typo. She will argue that her name IS Doro-SY. Not Doro-THY. After all, she is 4. She knows it ALL.

And last but not least, the orange shirt beneath the pink one. Because, at 4, that's perfect fashion sense! Isn't she the cutes thing ever?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


So it's pretty sad when Wordless Wednesday has more words than your normal posts. And even more sad when it doesn't happen on Wednesday. I really uploaded the picture and typed the title before I realized it was Thursday. Can I blame that on sleep deprivation? I do have a newborn.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

PACE

Tomorrow Mercy has her PACE assessment with UAMS. The last one I attended with a foster son was pretty lengthy, so I anticipate a long day. Her mom and dad are also coming and I'll be supervising a visit. I was present at the last visit, and they were both not only respectful and polite to me but also kind and appreciative. Awkwardness is still alive and well, but mostly because I don't want to make them feel like I've taken their place. I can't imagine what it must be like to be on the other side. I must be awful threatening as it is, add that I know what's wrong when the baby cries, and they don't, and it can get hairy. Step in and tell them what to do? Can that be taught without inducing a feeling of inferiority and making them feel like they don't know their own baby? They don't, by the way. They've seen her for 1 hour in 3 weeks. I'm so ambivalent. I want to support, encourage, teach, and whole-heartedly work towards reunifying what could be a very successful family. I also want to steal away in the dark of night with my beautiful little baby to hold and rock and never let go. Ah, the life of a foster parent. The day I don't love my placements (I hate calling them that, they're my children) that much, though, is the day I need to quit being a foster parent. Don't you think?

Meanwhile, we accomplished all but math in school today. I've given Faith and Hope a little more freedom lately, by making assignments that are more lengthy than normal, stating a due date and time, and then letting them work when they want to. That's working very well, and surprisingly they've both asked without prompting how much should be done each day in order to complete it by the due date. Impressive for a 10 and 8 year old - to me, anyway. I've also noticed both working at various times during the day. I'm so proud! And as for math....Dad has to fix the dvd player first. So we're on hold for a few days.

We have lots of ideas up our sleeves, and that's always fun... to think, dream, and plan. Where the rubber meets the road, though, is another story. If money was no obstacle ..... well, what a life that would be! We are currently very interested in therapeutic riding. Becoming a certified instructor through NARHA would only be a couple of months worth of work. There is really nothing like that in our area. We would also love to offer weekend retreats/training/respite and support for families like ours, and other families with handicapped or emotionally disturbed kids on a ranch-type property. Much work is needed before we get to that point, though. Like, um, land. A big enough house and/or camp-style cabins. A barn. And lets not forget horses. Anyone have half a million dollars lying around?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Camp

Oh, there's so much to say and really no way on earth I can relay what camp was like. There's good. There's bad. And then there's the ugly. Let's start with the bad so I can end this thing on a good note.

Unprofessional. Poorly staffed. Poorly planned. That pretty much sums it up. Don't get me wrong, the directors' hearts were in the right place. They have a love for "our" kids, and want to see families healed. They were kind people who know a lot about RAD and the things that make these kids better. However, I was assured there would be activities and crafts for my non-RADlings during class time for us (3 hour classes from 9 to 12). Because they did not have enough staff, they were expected to sit with us, still, not making noise, ect. for the class time. Um, not happening. And shouldn't be expected. 2nd of all, because Nancy Thomas was not present (we did know that ahead of time), her classes at a previous camp were taped and shown to us. The tapes, however, were like home-made (not professional) and the audio was terrible. We couldn't understand her about half the time, nor could we see the power point slides she was pointing to on the video because of a glare. So, between tending to 6 kids with us during the classes, and the lack of professionalism of the videos, we got very little from them. In the afternoons there was supposed to be planned family activities, in fact as much as 2.5 hours was scheduled for just that. The actual activities, though, lasted a mere 30 minutes. Not cool. We bailed on Wednesday, deciding we'd be better off ordering Nancy's curriculum online and learning it ourselves.

On the flip side, though, we met some AMAZING families! Some of the families had been implementing Nancy's methods long before attending camp, and have seen INCREDIBLE results in their kids. We learned lots of techniques just from the other families, and it was so reassuring to rub shoulders with moms who understand what life with RAD is like. Armed with the relatively small amount of things we learned, we returned home and began to train all our children, but intensively worked with Charity. Already her improvement is very noticeable. I'm so encouraged by her progress, and by being with kids at camp who had RAD but have now become enjoyable, loving, trusting members of their family. All in all, a worthy experience. I do still think that these types of camps could be an amazing experience for families, but I strongly suggest attending one that Nancy is actually present.

Not Me Monday

This is not my bed, and we do NOT sleep like this. Ever.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Must Be Quick

I have so much on my mind, but I simply don't have the time to sit and write it all out. My days have been a whirl wind of court, visits, doctor's appointments, and somewhere in there meeting the needs of 6 amazing little girls and brushing my teeth, too. Oh, wait, did I brush my teeth?

I was plum giddy about receiving an award. Thanks, Scrapper Mom. As soon as we return from camp, I'll pass on the award, and link some great blogs I read. This is my first bloggy award, and I'm so excited! ;) Who knew a little square widget could make my day? :)

My life as a foster mom is causing a lot of deep thought lately. My husband and I are still trying to work through exactly what our next step is in terms of ministry/mission/and INCOME. We have lots of ideas, and change is looming. The time I've spent with Mercy's mom and dad, and in court with all of them has me turned inside out. I hope to articulate all that's been going on much better for you soon. Hopefully this week at camp I will have time to write and will post it for you when we return. I hope you guys come back after a week of silence. Please do! I've so enjoyed getting so many new "faces" lately.

For now, though, I must attempt the daunting task of packing a family of 8 for a week of camp. Hmmm.....we'll see how that goes!

And since I won't be here for this coming "Not Me Monday", here's just one thing I would absolutely never ever do:

I did not strap my poster-child-for-ritalin in her car seat, and put it in front of the TV so that I could shower without any destruction of property or emptying of soap bottles. NOT ME!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How is it?


How is it that one little tiny girl can generate as much laundry as the other 7 people in the house put together?

That is not a complaint. Again, I say, the mundane and normally frustrating tasks babies and children bring suddenly becomes a privilege when tomorrow is no guarantee. It's no guarantee for any of us, or any of our children, but it just isn't taken for granted with children we foster. Mercy (that's her official blog name, now) will have had 2 court dates, 1 doctor's appointment, 1 visitation, and 1 WIC appointment before the end of this week. I'll be wearing her sling style in the Race for the Cure Saturday, and then we leave bright and early Sunday morning for camp in Tennessee. She's a busy little bee! She's already growing and changing, and we still can't take our eyes off her!

Not Me Monday

I am so NOT posting a "Not Me Monday" on Wednesday. How lame would that be?

I did get out of bed and fix breakfast and feed the kids this morning. I absolutely DID NOT go back to bed with a book and a baby while the rest of the children were left to govern themselves, frying their brains on TV and computer games and running amuck.

Much like my views on TV, I have never thought credit cards came from Satan himself. I don't get my panties in a wad about using credit. However, it's still not normally a lifestyle we choose. We were married for 7 years before we had a credit card at all, and have never carried a balance more than a couple of months. I IN NO WAY just made the stupidest financial decision ever and purchased 2 recliners on 0 down, no payment for 12 months. NOT ME!!!!

I did not just tell one of my kids to hit the other.

I have never rolled the windows down and cranked Laurie Berkner all the way up to drown out a crying baby, a whining toddler, tattling preschoolers, and bickering grade schoolers. Never. I am always of sound mind and wouldn't stoop to reciprocating elementary behavior that solves/teaches nothing.

And I absolutely, would never, ever in a billion years have reese's cups for lunch while demanding my children eat their peanut butter and honey sandwiches and yogurt and pretzels. How rude! (At least I was sneaky about it) Oh, wait...am I supposed to say I wasn't sneaky about it? And that's another thing. I'm NEVER confused. I'm perfect. I always understand.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No Calling?

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." –Talmud

It cracks me up when Christian people talk about not having a calling. Huh? I'm so confused. Do they read the same bible I do?

Monday, October 6, 2008

WHAT WAS I THINKING???????

The clan:

1 sleep deprived, and rather naive, normally laid back but pushed to the limit mom

1 RADling who never does very well in public

1 tiny dynamite package who was exposed to drugs in utero and can only talk at decibel 5, and "hyper" is the understatement of the year

1 thus far very relaxed and content baby who suddenly thought the world was out to get her

3 other girls without any specific ailments unless no tolerance and no patience is considered sickness

About 50 more coughing, sneezing, THROWING UP (I kid not, 2 seats over from my preemie, no attempt to even leave the room just cradling the trash can she brought from home!), feverish people in a much too little waiting room

3 hours, people, THREE HOURS!!!! I really thought I was going to have a full out panic attack. I'm an idiot. I think that was even more stupid than going to Wal-Mart with all of them.

Satisfaction? Shmatisfaction. I'm sure that feeling will return, but for now the girl who wrote that is no where to be found!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Satisfaction

- Six beautiful little girls snuggled safely in their beds,
Good night kisses still fresh on their heads.

- Coos of an infant, and big brown eyes.
Baby smells, and baby sighs.

- A glance in the mirror, each buckled in their seat.
"Little Bunny Foo Foo" becomes a goon in defeat.

- A tiny babe's warm breath against my neck,
stealing midnight glances, just one more check.

- Dances, giggles, squeals, leaps and twirls,
and all the glamour in a house full of girls.

- The tug on my finger, "Come on, Mom, Pleeeeease?"
Butterfly kisses and a little hand's tight squeeze.

- Daddy lets me sleep in, after a wakeful night.
But sleep eludes when little girls are all squealing with delight.

- Knees worn from prayer, tired bodies falling in the dust.
A knowing Father, for He walked ahead of us.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Really?

Ok, so you really can't understand this post unless you read this first. It's another RADical mom, one of whom I've sort of attached myself to in my effort to find some support, non-aloneness, and ideas for helping our RADish heal. I read that particular post a few short days ago, not having any similar experience. Then, BANG, and the last few days my RADling has been ridiculously giggly. She has also taken some significant steps backwards, leaving me frustrated again. And the giggling drives me INSANE!!! It sounds insane when she does it. That mom describes it well. It's exactly what my baby's laugh is like. "maniacal fit of the strangest laughter". I'm left wondering if the cause is the same as her Em.

And the title is what I'm left with. Really? I mean even after everything I've read, and everything I've first hand seen that gives the crazy stuff I've read validity, I'm still just having a hard time swallowing this one. I almost can't believe that this crazy giggling thing Charity has suddenly started could really be a reaction to feeling love. A feeling she's never felt before. And so her body doesn't know how to react, and the maniacal giggling is what comes out. I want to believe it. That would mean maybe we are on our way to some healing. And it might even explain the steps backwards in behavior. For RADlings, feeling something like affection or love brings with it great fear. It might as well be killing them, and they have to push back. And I do believe this mom is likely right on target with her little one. But is that what this is with my Charity? Really? Because I'm telling you everything in me wants to tell her to STOP!!!! You're acting CRAZY! Of course I don't say that, but sheesh, I'm thinking it!

I usually don't beg for comments, but if you are reading because you have a RADish, too, please, speak up! I'm dying to hear of others' experiences.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Changes

I usually go kicking and screaming. But in this case, my little blog space has been looking "ack!" for a long time. Change was needed. Some people think I am very creative because of my music. And I suppose that part of me is. But artsy? Not a bit. A friend once even forbid me to cut out any more of the Christmas ornaments our children were making for a charity. Really. That bad. That term about not being able to draw stick people really does apply to me, no exaggeration. And, I must also admit, that I'm not exactly happy about practicing or trying very hard if I already know I can't be really good at it.

So, I followed this friend's link to here, and it looked easy enough! Now maybe I'll be more inspired to take the time and add some things to my side bar. You know, in all my spare time! ;)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Acorn Pumpkins



I know, it's a terrible picture. My good camera had a mishap with the ground more than a year ago. I cried. I still cry occasionally. My wonderful mother in law is sending it in to be fixed for my Christmas present this year. Oh, I can't wait! Till then, these blurry ones will just have to do. School has pretty much been out the window this week. But we at least were a little crafty today. It was such a beautiful, cool fall day, and we spent much of it outdoors. Well, once I talked myself into actually getting out of the bed, anyway. The newest addition still thinks night time is for playing, and day time for sleeping. If it were a born of the body baby, I'd probably be frustrated and cranky about that. Born of the heart babies are different....especially ones that I know might not be staying. They are not taken for granted. The once dread of having to get up at night suddenly becomes a privilege. It should be so with born of the body babies, too, but for some reason that isn't always as obvious with them. There's a sneak peek in one of the pictures, at least you can see how TINY she is!





Do you see that Blessing is painting her fingers more than the acorns? Oh, and she actually has her clothes on!!!!! ;)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thanks

to all of you for being so interested and encouraging. I don't think I've ever been point blank told, "Do not blog pictures of your foster children." And I actually did post them for awhile. Till I got a site meter and realized how many people I did not know that were reading. At that point, I felt if safer to not put pictures, particularly close ups or their faces, just so ensure their privacy and their families' privacy. That's also why I use fake names for all the girls. I didn't want anyone to be able to google any name of our family members and pull up my blog. I know you'd love to see a good picture of my new little one. And I'd love nothing more than to show you just how beautiful her eyes are. Oh, those eyes!

But, for now, this will have to suffice. That's my 8 yr. old holding her. Can you tell how little she is? She's a grunter. Like I seriously would call her Miss Piggy for her bloggy name. But somehow, I can't justify that when all the other's are sweet names. She's still so teeny tiny to us. I know she's not at fragile as she seems, but I'm not nearly as laid back with her as I have been with the other babies. It's probably both her size and her preemie status that has my guard up. She did horribly last night!!!! Ack! I'm guessing there is no difference in night and day at the hospital, and so it will take her some time to learn that 1 to 4 is not time to party! ;)

Monday, September 29, 2008

She's here!

And she's beautiful.

And chocolate. (oh, how we wanted chocolate! ;)

And TEENY!!!!!!

The only thing I really know now, that I didn't before, is that she was born at 34 weeks. I don't even know how much she weighs now (or at birth), but I'm guessing a high 4 pounds or low 5. There was a time I was VERY good at guessing the weight of a baby by sight, but I haven't worked in labor and delivery for 4 years, now. The little girls were already in bed, but the oldest 2 are plum giddy and silly. We can't take our eyes off her!

Camp

For all of those wondering, we do not a baby girl yet. I did not get a confirmation call, however I wasn't holding my breath, either. Last time we received an infant for placement I was supposed to get a phone call first, too, but they just showed up at the door. So, I still have no idea whether she's coming or not. She was not scheduled to be discharged from the hospital until today, though, and the case worker had already said she would not be able to go and get her until later this afternoon/evening. So I may not know for some time, still.

On to more news. We will be traveling out of state for a week long camp by LeeAnn's Horses for Attachment!!!! I can not even begin to accurately articulate to you all this means for our family or how thrilled I am. First of all, we don't typically have a few thousand dollars laying around to fund such an adventure. I'm not usually one to talk money, but just so you understand what kind of miracle this is, you need to know that we have been living on $300 per week for several months. And we do have both a house payment and one car payment. So, the ability alone to go is miraculous. We home school, which allows my entire family to attend and be a part of the camp. This is not necessary, but recommended, and I'm excited that the siblings of our RADish will be having some time with and now adult sibling who completely understands what that position in such a family is like. The week will be full of training sessions for my husband and I as parents, trust building activities and games for our entire family, sessions/crafts for both our RADling and all her siblings. There will be chores and work, but lots of family time to promote attachment. After talking to the director over the telephone for more than an hour, I am very excited about not only the parenting methods (Nancy Thomas often directs these camps, though she will not actually be present at this one) that we'll come home educated about, but just the atmosphere of the week should provide lots of fun as well as learning about developing conscience and promoting attachment. So, we leave in just 2 weeks, and I have even cleared taking the new little one along if she's here. Can you imagine making a 500 mile trip with 6 kids, 4 of which are 4 and under? I giggle thinking about it. We made a trip to Florida this past summer, it actually wasn't as hard as I had anticipated, but I thought if I had to sing, "The Wheels on the Bus go round and round" one more time, I would die. Really. Faint dead away! ;)

Here's to another thousand times singing that silly song!!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Family Growing?


We should get an absolute confirmation call sometime today. The case worker isn't 100% positive just yet, but she already feels fairly confident.... but on Monday, if all goes as she is planning right now, she will be bringing me a new little baby girl right from the hospital! As always, we don't know how long she'll be with us. Could be anywhere from 5 days, to 6 weeks, to a year. I anticipate mom working hard and being able to care for her eventually, she is currently breastfeeding and planning to send milk for us to use. That alone speaks well of her.

We can't wait to get our hands on her! I had not planned on telling the kids until we knew for sure, but Grace asked about Little Boy Blue last night, who went home in July after a 6 week stay with us. She was not at all upset, but asked if we could go get him for a little stay. I took that opportunity to go ahead and tell her that no, we couldn't see him, but that we might be taking care of another little baby while her mom gets better. She was excited about that! She asked a thousand questions I don't yet know the answer to: "What's her name? How little is she? Is she chocolate?" Obviously the last question cracks me up. All my born of the body kids have wanted a "chocolate" baby. As a matter of fact, Hope desperately wanted Grace to be chocolate. While I was pregnant (she was 4) she tried to place her order. Like I had control over what kind of baby was growing in my belly. "I want boys, momma. 2 of them. Chocolate." All matter of fact like she was sure that's what was in my protruding belly. I really worried she wouldn't accept her GIRL sister, only 1, "manilla". Not even 1 factor what she wanted. hahahaha!

This baby is biracial, (I wonder if that is chocolate enough?) and I'm sure the other girls will inspect every inch of her as soon as she gets here. Just like they have with every other baby that comes to our home. Whether staying or just visiting. What is that about kids (and some adults - me)? I even find myself asking other moms if I can take their baby's socks off. And I really would completely undress them if it wasn't so dang inappropriate! Upon entering the room to see Grace for the first time, Faith (then 6) immediately loosened the burrito wrap, pulled the socks, and then pulled her diaper tabs and took a peek. Bwahahahahahahahaha!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fair Night

Every year, the kids get armbands for one night at the fair. You know, a little paper bracelet that allows them to ride any ride as many times as they want from 6 to 10. Feeling very brave, because you can't take any kids without expecting the full day to be crazy with distractions and fits and over stimulation, I purchased the arm bands knowing the fun they'd bring along with all the melting down. So, after packing a back pack with sippie cups and light jackets and crackers and extra clothes for my pee-not-in-potty kid, we headed out to the fair. We were just a little before 6, so we rounded the exhibits and the animals (such fun!). I thought Blessing was never going to leave the pig. He was snorting away and she thought that was the funniest thing ever. I'm racking my brain, thinking, surely she's has seen a pig before. But I guess maybe she really hasn't.... other than the pictures in the books we read. She snorted and squealed and turned circles, oh how I wish I'd had a video camera!

I can't believe how big the kids are getting. Even my 2 4-yr olds jumped on rides that just seemed way too big for them. The big swings. The Ferris Wheel (with their siblings, not with their parents.... we didn't have armbands). The Tilt-a-Whirl. Which, by the way, I'm SO old! I could ride anything I wanted over and over again at one time in my life, now I can't even watch my kids go round and round without being queasy. The Tilt-a-Whirl was their favorite, I think. At least they rode it a thousand times. I wish I had brought my camera so that you could see how little they looked! They squealed and laughed and ran from ride to ride. Blessing clung to my neck after quickly jumping on a ride, then realizing she didn't like it, cried the whole ride, and then wouldn't try another one for quite some time. There was one slide, though, that she slid on a hundred times. The guy in the gate just stopped making her go out the exit like all the other kids, she was free to go right from the bottom back to the ladder again.

My RADling? Not a hitch. And we're talking a public place!!!!!! I think she was so excited about the rides that charming everyone around her was too far back in her brain! She had a couple of whines about not getting to go to the exact ride she wanted to right at the moment, but no fits or aggression when corrected and explained to that we have to do what others want to do, too. Very good night for her. There was one incident of pushing a sibling, but she paid her consequence without too much of a fuss, and even allowed me to comfort her afterwards right in the middle of all that noise and crowd and lights. I couldn't believe it. She also was nurturing towards a friend's baby while sitting out a ride because of the pushing. Ok, for those of you who can't appreciate this...... I'm saying she pushed, yes, but when dished the consequence of sitting out for a ride, she cried. Usually it would be met with screaming and fitting. Very loud, obnoxious crying that isn't genuine. These were real tears, yes it was only because she didn't get to ride, but that would be any kid's response. The fact is, it was genuine. And, after a few minutes of turning her back to me, she turned back around and held up her arms for me to hold her. I then explained what she did, what she should have done, and that she would get to ride again when the other kids got off that one ride. She stopped crying, smiled and talked to ME about OTHER things while we waited. No more whining. No more blaming. And, she even focused her attention to a nearby baby, which she lovingly patted on the back and talked to softly. Where did this kid come from? Wooo-hooooo!!!!

I had 2 kids that didn't last till 10. I brought them home at about 9 (after getting our 12 passenger stuck in the field and being pulled out by about 6 guys, including one with a 4 wheel drive and a chain....another post for another day). I'll bet you can't guess which 2! It wasn't my RADical darling, or my fraidy cat (Grace)...who was riding everything there...go figure. One was Hope... who loves to ride and is much less cautious about what she'll ride than her older sibling, unfortunately for her she gets motion sickness. So, looking very green she finally agreed home sounded good, and I brought Blessing along with me. Blessing wasn't convinced she was done, but she was beginning to wilt. So I pulled the "I'm the mommy" card and made her come home, too. But no one was actually in bed until after 10. They did stay in bed a little longer than normal this morning....we'll see what today holds! No matter what, it was very worth the trouble! Lots of fun and hopefully some great family memories!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Friends


I'd love to write an extremely poetic, beautiful post about friendship. The kind that makes you smile, and cry, and laugh all at once, about all the blessings and carrying and loving and kindness that true friendships bring... the kind that leaves you warm and fuzzy. But, I'm still too tired for all that thinking and constructing sentences. The truth is, chickadee is just that kind of friend. One worthy of such a fuss. But what actually made me suddenly consider the evolution of our friendship (we've only known each other for about 3 years) was something she said about a week ago. And I'm laughing at the thought of her opening my post to find her own picture and a post about her! I'd have a fit if it was me she broadcasted on her blog. But that's the whole point of the post.....we are officially at a point in our friendship that I can do it and she'll still love me whether she likes it or not. I think. **evilish grin**

I was having a terrible day. Really. It was the day after (or 2? I can't remember) being up all night with a violently throwing up baby. Ok, so she's 4. But I can call her baby if I want. Just try and stop me. Might I remind you I am a martial artist. Anyway, the house was a wreck. Complete with dishes still out on the bar, blankets and toys and colors strewn through the living room. I had fully intended to attend our home school group's meeting that afternoon, but by 11 when one kid had peed in about 5 pair of panties and another was relentless in her barking/yelling orders at everyone I changed my mind. Keep in mind, outings seem to shift my RADling into high gear with the indiscriminate affection and charming that everyone else seems to love but drives me crazy. Yes, I like run-on sentences. It's my blog, thank you. Take into account that I had already dressed everyone, fixed their hair and put shoes on them only for them to look like orphans and needing to do it all over again before we left, and well, I just figured it would be easier to stay at home. My friend called, and pushed me to go. I finally outed (with a whine I'm sure equal to the kind I've been complaining about from my kids) to her that, "I've got one that can't pee on the potty, and one that won't stop screaming!" Without so much as a second to contemplate, my friend laughed at me. She lovingly (kind of) said, "Well, I can fix that, I'll bring a diaper and some tape!"

Despite her ability to fix all my problems, I still insisted on staying on my couch. So, she came and picked up my older two girls and toted them all around town to their art lessons and the group meeting, and even stopped and got them some ice cream. While I and the little ones napped. Isn't that sweet? But she ruined it when she came in my house and didn't just ignore the mess. "Good grief." She said. "The kids need to play orphan at your house like they do at mine, and clean this place up." And that sealed it for me. Because you see, it wasn't really a slam (right?) .... no one but a true friend is that brave. Only true friends can say that kind of thing to each other. Or maybe it's just cause she's pregnant.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Too Tired....

.....to construct complete sentences, so, how about random thoughts in the form of bullet points?

- I now have sprayed enough deet on my children to keep a small army from getting a mosquito bite.

- It still doesn't work. My kids look no different than the abused ones I've seen as a nurse/foster parent and I talk bad about their mothers for letting their kids get so eaten up by bugs.

- RAD is still alive and kicking. I'm as stubborn as it is, though.

- Stocking up on enough sprite and saltine crackers to nurse a mega family during an outbreak of stomach virus might keep everyone else from getting it. Did I really get through that with only one child falling prey?

- We got in a great day of school, even included some fun stuff for the first day of fall. Fun stuff. Good stuff. I feel great about what we accomplished.

- School, by the way, for 3 different grades and 4 different children and chasing/meals/chores in between took from 9 till 5.

- A sense of accomplishment does not erase weariness. Lots of colors, glue sticks, leaves, reading lessons, math lessons, potty breaks, and running after one kid who might as well be the poster child for ritilin (Blessing, in case you're wondering) has taken it's toll. I'm pooped.

- It's worth it. I'm pouring my cup completely out, but He keeps overflowing it. It all comes out in the wash.

- The family bed idea was not meant for a 7 member family. Must have major discussion with children. Before tonight.


Ok, so this one can't be a bullet point because I feel the need to explain. I've never been one of those moms who thought the TV came straight from hell. But I've never really cared for it, either. I happen to think there are some great shows out there, but the commercials ruin it. It seems if my kids watch much at all they're suddenly whining about all these things they want that they don't have. Attitudes just seem to crash and burn much quicker and much more often if TV has been in the diet. Today, though, after cleaning about 3 tons of pillow stuffing (how in the world did all of that ever fit in that pillow to begin with?) after 4 loads of laundry, school, 3 meals and 3 clean ups, too many phone calls and too many melt downs; I think about 5 episodes of Dora are in order. I deserve it. So do they.