Sunday, August 31, 2008

The book

On this particular day, I felt extremely alone. I had built up that day in my own head, believing whole heartedly that I would be coming home with a new sense of purpose, direction, support, and guidance. I had been hanging by the very end of my rope, and thought the rescue team was finally showing up. But instead of beginning the process (and I did expect a process, not sudden cure) of pulling me back up to where both feet would again be able to stand on their own, they just shook the rope. I was barely hanging on to the thing, anyway. It didn't take much of a shake to send me spiraling down to the self pity vastness below.

That day, I did choose to share with the world (the world being the 5 of you who read my blog) my grief. Only words can't describe how I really felt when I typed that post. What you don't know is how my husband reacted when I spilled all to him later that night. I'm aware the publicity I give him here on the blog doesn't really paint the accurate picture of him. The few times I've mentioned him it was because his reaction was not exactly what I needed at the moment. On that night, he was equally blunt and did not indulge me in my pity party. Only, this time, he was right. Maybe he's right every time, but I won't give him that much credit. "What are you so upset about? We know her so much better than they do, anyway. And we know her Creator."

So, we hit our knees. Again. They were still bruised and carpet burned, as I suppose knees should always be. I've clung to the God breathed words of James, who said true wisdom comes only from God, and that he gives when asked. I began to seek out websites and even blogs where mothers share their deepest thoughts and struggles through fostering and adoption. I found this mom, and this site, and Annie suggested a book by these guys. The aloneness faded. I'd chase rabbits explaining all the details, but the short of it is our current financial situation leaves a lot to be desired. My mom graciously ordered the book for me, though, and I'll be picking it up from her tomorrow. I hope I'm not setting myself up for another downfall. You'd think I'd learn not to place so much hope on one event, or book (unless it's God's precious Word). But here I am again, hardly able to stand waiting to peer inside it's cover.

Many of the sites I've found list symptoms of RAD or other attachment disorders. I had seen several lists, but only recently saw some lists that included this symptom: Parents seem hostile and angry.

I'm no psychiatrist. And that symptom has not been explained. I can only speculate what I think it means as a mother of a young girl struggling with an attachment disorder. I can think of a couple of ways that applies. But the biggest thing that struck me when I saw that listed as a symptom was relief. I'm not making this up. I'm not making it out to be worse than it is. I'm not the only parent in the world that outsiders are watching and thinking I'm not being fair to this kid. Yes, she's only 4. Yes, she's as cute as a button. Yes, she can charm and please and has fantastic manners and looks as innocent and sweet as a lollipop. So, when she tells her Sunday school teacher that she can not play with toys because her mommy would be mad and doesn't allow her to play, and when her teacher mentions this to me while my cute-as-a-button RADling watches with utter glee and complete satisfaction, it is still me that looks out of control and ridiculously overreactive as the smoke runs out of my ears. A hostile, and angry response.

It's like that all the time. The action of the child in and of itself does not seem that bad. It is beyond most people's comprehension that one so young can master mind such a scenerio. That she can, indeed, pull the strings of most puppets around her. That sounds so insane. I hear myself. I realize how ridiculous it sounds. And before her placement with us, I'd think anyone who said such was crazy, too. That sweet little face who has been through so much trauma can not possibly be bad enough to elicit those hostile reactions from her mother. I saw what she did, her mom is making it out to be such a bigger deal than it is. She's just being a typical 4 year old. 7 days, I say. Live with me. For about a week. Then we can talk about this.

The flip side of that is, though, that on some level I am hurt. The triangulation (pitting one adult against another), the pushing away, the frustration. And I'm sure there are times when my reaction is not what it should be. It's battle fatigue. Just fatigue. Just plain tired of fighting the fight and trying to be affectionate and loving.

So, that's where we are. It's honest. Brutally honest. As honest as I can possibly be and still preserve the privacy of my baby. I'm beginning to understand. I know she's operating out of fear. I know that no matter how hard she's pushing right now, that there is a tiny beating heart in there that wants my unconditional love. Even if her brain hasn't figured that out, yet. I also know she's worth every tear I shed. She's worth sleepless nights and carpet burned knees. And if your knees aren't already burned, but you'd like them to be, burn them over her. And us. And other mothers who are battling attachment disorders. It's tiresome work.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

2 Tablespoons

Hope made pancakes for supper tonight. She wanted to do them all on her own, and she pretty much did. I was working around her on other projects. **ahem**...making sure she didn't burn the kitchen down. Or worse, crack eggs onto the floor. Yes, that IS worse than a smoldering kitchen. Have you ever cleaned that up on a wood floor that has little cracks between the flanks?

Mom: I don't think you put the oil in. You need 2 tablespoons of oil.

Hope: Where's the tablespoons?

Mom (playing therapist and trying to teach the child to solve her own problems): Hmmmm. I've never been in this kitchen before. I have no idea where the measuring spoons are!

Pause - Ok, I understand why smaller children do this. Toddlers who do not yet know how to carry on a conversation, yet want to converse with you, will ask the same question over and over and over and over again. Even though they knew the answer before they asked the first time. They just want to talk. But aren't hip on what a real conversation is like. But my 8 year old? Why does she constantly ask questions that if she would just take half a second to think about, she knows the answers. She's helped in the kitchen THOUSANDS of times. Besides, there are 2 drawers. 2. Even if she had never been in there before, it's not like they were lost in the vastness of our kitchen. I'm not exaggerating one bit, people. 2 drawers.

Back to the kitchen - After just a minute I turn around and see Hope with her 2 tablespoons of oil. I busted out laughing. Wait, let me get the camera! She stood there looking confused. I laughed on. And told her she'd be the subject of my post tonight. Can you see the 2 tablespoons? I know it looks like she is all Vanna-like displaying her genuis idea, but she's actually throwing both hands out and looking at the stove in complete confusion. She can't figure out why it's so funny, and what exactly I'm taking a picture of. Who is her teacher, anyway?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Busy, Busy

We're busy as bees. We're having good school days, working hard, and that just leaves very little time on the computer for me!

Math for Hope

Faith's science notebook with a recently finished page. We're currently studying botany.

I love this next picture for a couple of reasons. The biggest one because Faith is actually teaching Grace and Charity their math lesson. During nap time one day, I taught Faith and Hope how to teach the little ones their first few math concepts, and then had them teach the lessons back to me. I did that for several reasons - I may take the time to explain later -, but for now I just want to brag. Faith did a GREAT job with the "littles" (I can't call them babies forever). I was so proud.
The other reasons I like the picture are all the things you can tell about our home and my parenting just from looking at the details:
1. Notice the ergo on the back of Grace's chair. I'm a baby wearer! ;) Even though my current "baby" is 3. I still wear her all the time.
2. Notice the ring pops. This actually is not typical at all, but when grouchy children who won't nap dictate, I can bribe for a little peace. Obviously. And I can allow sugar for special treats.
3. Notice the decor on the furniture behind the table. It once held a beautiful vase with flours, an elegant creamy white bowl full of fruit (even the bowl's crack was beautiful and elegant and added so much character), and what we call our family altar (more on that later). But, as you can see, it was out with beautiful, and in with practical. And though there is a baby doll peering out over the school table from one of the girl's baskets, they actually hold school books and supplies for each of my students.
4. Last but certainly not least, the big red bow on grace's head. You can't really tell from the picture, but the outfit she has on is mostly orange in color. (the shorts and what is on the t-shirt) The bow only matches the ring pop, And the shoes you KNOW are on her feet! ;) This is my best mothering trait....picking the battles carefully. And being wise enough to know what really matters and what doesn't. Ok, ok, so SOMETIMES it's a great trait. Sometimes I have to work at it. And sometimes wanting neat-as-a-tac children does get the best of me. And I dress them all in the cutest dresses and MATCHING bows and demand little red shoes NOT be part of the attire. I even fix the ten yr old's hair, much to her dismay. But that's more rare than ring pops.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ode to being 4

Because at 4, this outfit is suitable for any task. What can be better? Glue AND glamour. All in one day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The new shoes

Have any of you ever had a faint, terrible smell in your home? I've walked around for days, occasionally catching a wiff, trying to follow my nose to the source, but either becoming distracted first, or just not able to find the culprit. That once happened in our car, and we finally found a long-time missing sippie cup that had originally been filled with chocolate milk. I assure you it was NOT chocolate milk anymore. This time, however, a quick survey of the cupboard yeilded no missing cups. All accounted for. That couldn't be the source.

Another time, I realized my husband's (I wouldn't admit it if it was mine) sparring gear needed some bleach wipes. EEEEWWWWWW!

This week, however, the culprit was elusive. Or age is weakening my senses. Nah, that can't be it!

In other news, after this, Grace did make the transition from the worn shoes, to the new ones. There were nights she wore one pair, and held the other as she drifted off to sleep, but slowly the new ones finally broke in enough that she began wearing them and I've put the worn ones into the hope chest for safe keeping.

The life of a 4 year old is soap opera material. Oh, the drama! First of all, the bright shiny sequins have not held up so well. How can they? With each bump on the bicycle pedal or rub on the sidewalk more glitter fell off. They weren't exactly made to be everyday material. Add the rain (and mud) and well, the new shoes don't look so new. As a matter of fact, they look as worn as the old ones. Each glitter scuff has manifested some tears from Grace. Each drop of mud a crisis. But for me, if I let her wear those silly things with her church clothes that are PURPLE, then I don't care if they look worn, right? Right. So on they marched.

The last 3 days she's been wearing her new shoes nonstop, bath time being the only time her little feet were out them. This morning, as we were getting ready for church, that smell was still lingering around. Again, I tried to find the culprit. No luck. Back to fixing the little ones' hair. As I was pulling Grace's hair back, the smell got so bad I said aloud, "Good grief, what IS that?" Grace piped up. "It's my feet, mom." Like she had known it for days. All matter of fact.

My eyes got big. Oh, no. I pulled the shoes from her little feet. WWWWOOOOOLLLLFFFFFF!!!!!!! **gag**. She laughed. She was proud. Faith, Hope, Charity, AND Blessing all started squealing and scrunching their noses and waving their hands in front of their faces. And don't forget the laughing. I really should have taken a picture of Grace's face. She's a girl. Usually a very girly girl. Prissy. Sassy. And even proper. But she was VERY proud of that stink! She chased the other girls around the living room, sticking her feet in their faces, and laughing with all the gusto of a typical boy.

I put the shoes away (could not bring myself to throw them away...yet), and she cried. I have to draw the line somewhere. You can't walk around the world in red shoes that make you smell like, well, you'd just have to smell it. I can't believe such a pretty little girl can smell SO rotten!!!!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

School Update

School has gone well, although we did not accomplish 5 full days this week. Actually my goal is 4 full days. "Full" meaning every intended subject accomplished. That usually only takes us until about 1:00 (we start at 8:30 and break for lunch). The 5th day is for the fun stuff! ;) An art project, or a science project, the library, or other field trip. This week we've only managed 3 full days. One day, my sister came in and we spent the day playing hide and seek, and dancing. Today, the oldest 2 are at a friend's house celebrating one of her daughter's birthdays. But the days we had went very well, and I'm very happy with the curriculum we're using.

I have 2 4-yr-olds. One of which is MORE than ready to start kindergarden. This was suitable for me, since she really needed to be by me at the table most of the time, anyway. I also felt it would separate the 2 of them in grade level, and therefore maybe eliminate some of the competition they would otherwise experience. Charity is just one of THOSE kids. She's EXTREMELY smart. And not only that, but she's extremely coordinated, too. She's good at anything she tries. If she wants to be. She'll make excellent grades. She'll have perfect penmanship. Her reading will be perfectly fluent and expressive. You get the picture. I felt that would automatically put Grace in an awkward position. Grace is younger, though only by 4 months. And I did not think she was ready for Kindergarden.

Again, I don't know where my mind was. Can you imagine the response as Charity got to be beside me at the table, doing work I was constantly praising her for? Sitting in my lap for her reading lesson, high fives, and "great job"s, and "wow"s probably looks pretty enticing to the other 4 yr. old. Sure enough, Grace was BEGGING to do school, too. "Me, too, Mom, Me too!" "I want to do what she's doing."

So, I now have 4 official schoolers. My table is full for several hours every day. Which I love. The 2 of them are currently working on a binder. One thing I LOVE about homeschooling is that instead of getting new binders or notebooks every year, they can build on the same binder year after year. You see, Faith and Hope each have a Vocabulary binder. Each letter of the alphabet is colored or painted or crafted in a special way. We then put it in a page protector, and place in a binder. Year after year, their vocabulary words are written in their binder filed behind the correct alphabet letter. Faith has some vocabulary words she wrote way back in the first grade! ;) LOVE that! So, Charity and Grace have started their binder. They made a page for "a" this week. I don't know if we'll stick with one letter per week, or move quicker. Their reading lessons move much quicker, so we may try to keep up with that. We'll see! That's one thing about starting K a year early. We can certainly take our time and enjoy the lessons and make sure they master each skill before we move on. I love getting to be the one to teach them to read. It's my most favorite thing about home schooling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Have you done this yet? You HAVE to. We only went for about an hour, a friend teaching us the ropes, but we are hooked! This trip was just for Faith and Hope (and their friends), but next time it will be a family affair. I can see even the little ones loving the "treasure hunt". We found 2 today, and one had a coin that can also be tracked online. We have yet to track it, but will do that tomorrow, and then place it in another cache the next time we go! The girls replaced the items they took (the tracking coin, and another coin with a cross cut out of it) with necklaces. A young boy with us put in a little cowboy figurine and pulled out a cross charm "for my mom." All together, now. Aaaaaawwwwwww!

Monday, August 18, 2008

In preparation

We have a loft. We're the coolest house on the block. At least to the kids. A loft is pretty cool. Even to me. The best thing is, as our play room, I never really have to see it. Only when a shoe gets lost, or the dresser drawers are starting to look thin. This usually means mounds of clothes have been discarded up there to be replaced with dress up clothes. When toys are scattered across the living room, NO PROBLEM! I just take a few minutes to toss them up the ladder. No looking, just throwing up there. And since there is a loft for all the toys, the bedrooms stay free and clear from all that clutter. Just beds, dressers, and some books.

All summer I was thinking hard about how I would be able to sit at the table long enough with my older girls to make school really happen for them. And not just happen, but me actually enjoying the time with them and teaching them well. Not an easy task with 3 toddlers in the house. Although, I suppose I should quit calling them toddlers, since 2 of them are actually 4 years old now. Still tough, though.

I've already shared my "stations" idea. I decided to also set up the loft into stations - dividing all the toys into certain areas. Like, a dress-up area, a kitchen area (they have a small kitchen with TONS of dishes), a barbie area that houses the barbie house and a huge tub with all their barbies and barbie clothes, and a reading area.

So, one morning, with 5 girls following, I climbed the ladder to do some rearranging. OH. MY. GOODNESS. It looked like a mom hadn't been up there since we moved in. ***insert a shame-filled sigh**** Charity exclaimed, "Your eyes are buggin' out of yo head, momma!". Floor? Does the loft have a floor? Are there ANY tubs or toy chests up here? Where's the shelf with the t.v.? Where's the t.v.? Who colored on the wall? THERE'S THE PINK PLAY DOUGH! YA'LL HAVE WAAAAY TOOOO MANY TOYS!!!!!!

So, together we filled 4 30 gallon bags of JUNK. I'm not talking about just toys the don't play with .... that was another 3 bags. This is just the trashed, broken, junk that was up there. Pitiful, isn't it?

I'm happy to say, the loft is now neat and tidy (minus the coloring on the wall and the carpet stain from play dough), and divided into centers. It works GREAT! They actually spend more time up there now. I guess they can find what they want easier, and have room up there to play. We currently have a "For Sale" sign in our front yard. I hope the next place we call home has a loft.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's tough being 4

I'm cold. I'm hungry. I'm tired. But the mention of going to bed does NOT make me happy!

So, I enjoy the short time that I can, indeed, make it all better. The day is coming when I can't. For now, I can give you some strawberry milk in your favorite purple cup, I'll wrap a blanket and my arms around you, and rock you to sleep.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ridiculous: Take 2

That can of worms is starting to look enticing. Where do I even begin? Let's start with my expectations. Even I am almost laughing at what I THOUGHT was going to happen. For over 6 months now, I've been entangled in a mess of miscommunications about mental health, who it was that needed it, who exactly needed to make the referral, where to, and paperwork out the wazoo. FINALLY, 7 months after initial placement, I got an appointment at a child development center that I was ECSTATIC about. About a week before the appointment I received a thick packet of papers to fill out and information to read. The letter said the average appointment lasted 3 hours, and could last much more. It tossed around words like "full evaluation" and "head to toe assessment" and "holistic care". My excitement rose. As I sat rating behaviors on a scale, I began to get the idea that someone would be listening, taking every word into account and putting our baby's symptoms/behaviors down to form a care plan and guide us in beginning to heal her hurts and teaching her to form appropriate attachments. I envisioned a team of doctors watching her behavior alone, with just me, with other children, when strangers come in..... from behind a window. You can laugh. I don't know what I was thinking. Ridiculous. I know. I expected a doctor who would be decisive and truthful, some support, assurance, and applicable ideas. Someone who understands attachment disorders, children of abuse and neglect, and has a plan for them. I expected 3 hours of jointly designing a plan specific for my baby. That's what the letter said, right?

What I got was 20 minutes of eyes that blinked 60 times a minutes and said "What I hear you saying is____________" about 300 times. I'm not saying she wasn't genuine, but the calm softness of her voice could only be made, not natural. We were in a 4x4 room that was HOT. She asked me questions in front of my little one that the real answers would scar a regular child just to hear. I wanted to scream. I didn't want someone to repeat back to me what I was saying. Like I needed to know she heard me. I wanted someone to have some answers. Or ideas. Or at least, "Keep doing what you're doing, it is helping her, it's just going to take time". I ache for some kind of sign that I'm not screwing this kid up farther. I'm completely OK with however she will be all her life. I'm not OK with blindly stabbing at how to guide her. After our 20 minutes of fame, we were ushered out, paper in hand stating next appointment: more than a month away. Lovely. I'm already dreading a 2 hour trip, finding care for the remaining 4 for the day, for more of NOTHING. Can't wait.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And So It Begins

School, that is. I did not expect to start school until the week after next. First of all I did not order the kids' curriculum until less than a week ago, and fully expected it to be 2 to 3 weeks before it came in. The math has not yet made it here, but yesterday the mailman rang our doorbell. I'm sure he's never received so many squeals over a delivery. The big girls were jumping up and down with delighted squeals, which caused the 3 little ones to also squeal and run in circles all excited like. I was cracking up because I knew very well they had no idea what they were so happy about. Faith and Hope's excitement was enough for them to know it had to be something good! Of course we emptied the boxes right away, ooing and ahing over every book and every new adventure we get to be a part of this school year. The kids BEGGED (oh, how I wish they would stay that enthused for the entire year) to start school today. I wanted to wait because we will not be doing school tomorrow, not the weekend, and probably not Monday, either. It seemed pointless. But who can look at children begging to do school and not oblige?

School is NOT easy with 3 little ones. I've put much thought and effort into how I would handle it this year. We began the day (after breakfast and chores) with Bible time at the table with all 5 girls. Then Faith and Hope made a journal entry while I taught Charity her reading lesson. I put Blessing and Grace at the bar with water paints, and Charity joined them after her handwriting was done. That kept them busy while I read the big girls their first science lesson. Once I gave Faith and Hope their science assignment, and they were busy working, I set up 3 areas for the little kids. I put one small kid in each station, threatened them with their lives to stay there until the timer went off, and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer went off, they swapped to another spot. This bought me an hour and 1/2 of table time with the older 2 girls. I had begun training the little ones that I expected them to stay put when the special toys/activities were pulled out about a week ago. They did pretty good today. Better than I thought they would on our first day (they're so nosy about what's going on at the might be more fun!), but not as good as I hope they'll get as the school year goes on.

Lest you think these were some kind of extravagant stations, let me point out that I'm just talking about certain toys or activities that aren't always available to them. If you have any great ideas, just let me know. Obviously, the stations can't be the same everyday, or they will quickly lose interest. Here's what we did today:

Play dishes needed washed. (no one was ready to leave this station even after 30 minutes...those were VERY clean dishes)

These are "Littlest Pet Shop" toys that stay in my room for special occasions.

I have no idea what these are called. They snap together, and there are even little pieces that allow you to make rings, or bracelets. You can just snap them together in a circle for a necklace, or see how long of a line you can make. You might also notice some magnetix on the table. I intended for them to choose one or the other, but of course they wanted them both! ;)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Ahem, ok, almost wordless. But just so you know, that picture was taken on a different day than the ones below. Those leotards and skirts have become their every day uniform. Headbands are also a must. They don't have to be the same one everyday, but one is definitely needed. The bun in their hair (please don't tell them that's just a knotted ponytail - the lazy mom's bun) is also part of the dress code.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rainy days

I love rainy days. Although I admit the drought may have contributed to how much I've relished in the last couple of days. Not only has the rain brought with it some relief from the draining heat and drought, but they have been perfect days for sleeping late, napping, reading, and catching up on some much needed chores. We also had pizza night tonight, and instead of the normal salad that I usually toss to healtherize the meal (I like to make up words), the girls and I made a dessert pizza. If you've never had this, it's a MUST! Just roll out some sugar cookie dough for the pizza crust. Once cooked, spread with a cream cheese and sugar mix (1/3 cup sugar per 8 oz cream cheese), then top with fruit. Viola! Dessert pizza. Though we actually ate it before the other home made pizzas. Oh, well. We were making memories.

So here's how Charity and Grace have been spending a lot of their time. They found an old dvd of Hope's, that came with some dress-up ballet stuff once upon a time. It's an instructional type dvd complete with stretching, positions, bends, jumps, etc. They put it on the TV and dance FOR HOURS!

Notice the worn red shoes, not the new ones. ;)

Monday, August 11, 2008


Dear little red shoes,

I know that to the normal eye you may be considered old, worn, and even ugly. I know your once bright red is completely worn away on the toes, lighter in some places than others, and your velvet is stained with milk and juice and ice cream and such. But to Grace, and to me, you just may be the most beautiful pair of shoes we've ever seen. I remember when the kitten chased your bows, and when the dog had his turn of chewing on you. You have endured being left out in the pouring down rain, waiting patiently by the trampoline until you were found again. You have also endured miles and miles of parading around town, sported by your wearer, though not one thing else on her body was red. Well, I suppose you do match her lips. Or her rosy cheeks. But never her clothes. She's worn you in the exhausting heat of an Arkansas summer: with her bathing suit, with her beautiful white dress for church, with her pajamas. Even while she slept, often begging to not have you taken off as we tucked her in bed. Sometimes I would sneak into her room and gently pull you from her feet as she slept. Other times I just left you there, knowing you'd make her smile first thing in the morning. She has loved you dearly.

We bought a new pair of shoes for Grace's 4th birthday. Don't be sad. Yes, she was very excited to see those bright new ones. And, yes, you were quickly thrown to the side, seemingly forgotten. But I assure you, no one can take your place. You're just tired, and old, and I want to put you in a shadow box before you fall completely apart. I am so thankful for the joy you've brought my little Grace. You'll be treasured. And talked about for years to come. Grace's little "Dorosy" shoes.

With much love and adoration,


Friday, August 8, 2008

For Grace

My last born of the body baby is 4 today. She's the perfect example of God's grace, hence the name. We had no plans for her to come along, perfectly content going through life with our 2 children, 2 income family. Yet another example of how magnificent my own plans are.....oh, they pale in comparison to His. Thank heaven He graced us with another child even when it wasn't in our perfect plan. (Though I can't say it was a complete surprise because I was never very good at that silly pill) I loved being a nurse. Absolutely LOVED it. But as soon as Grace made her appearance, I wondered what in the world I had been doing with my life. Being her mother was the best thing I could have done. She brought the blur of life back into focus for me. My saving Grace.

She's this amazing little girl. She is prissy and dramatic, beautiful and sassy, compassionate and determined. She can be painfully shy, but her smile will melt you if she decides to give you one. She LOVES animals, kittens and alligators are her favorite. I realize those are worlds apart, but she doesn't. The alligator is just as cute and lovable in her mind. She takes great pride in her hair, which is very long and very beautiful. She likes being fashionable (well, what SHE thinks is cute) and I try hard to bite my tongue and let her wear those silly "Dorosy" shoes because that's what she wants. They are red velvet scoop out shoes that she says are "Dorosy's" (from OZ), and she wears them EVERYWHERE. Including to church with the pink dress.....and purple socks. I don't remember Dorothy wearing purple socks, but she thinks she looks more like her with them on.

We are so blessed to have her, and we can't wait to see what God unfolds for her life.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grace Makes A Fashion Statement

Can you see the red shoes? The torn tights? The PINK tutu? Is she making a statement, or what! And yes, she went into public like that. Well, does the snow cone shack count? Even there she turned a few heads! ;)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Over crowded?

Yes, those are my 2 oldest children sleeping in the top bunk, twin size bed. For the record, there was a completely empty queen bed in the next room over. In their words, they didn't want to sleep there because they didn't want to be alone in that other room. "That other room" was said in a way that would convince any stranger of a horrific monster lurking in there. The kind of monster whose sole purpose is to torture and eat little girls.

Ahem, there are 2 of you. That's not alone. And "that other room" is right next door. But, hey, I know how to pick my battles. I couldn't care less where they sleep. As long as they are getting adequate rest, and actually under my roof.

This is the way it's always been in our home. Every child has an assigned bed. A bed that's their very own. A bed they don't have to share. But every night, it's musical beds. I have even gone in there some nights to find 3 in one twin, 2 in another, and 4 empty beds in the rest of the house. Inevitably, all 5 girls end up in the same room. Why am I so worried that they need their own space?

Also notice Faith's twisted hair stuck in her ear. Just think, some people have normal kids who simply suck their thumb.

Quick, unrelated link....but this had me in stitches!

Works for Me Wednesday

Somewhere around the time of the addition of our 4th child, and the ages of the oldest two, the bathroom battle began. I could never find my hairbrush because some culprit was always stealing away with it for her use, and then laying it down where ever she happened to be at the moment. "What do you mean you can't find your brush, mom? It's just right here in the pantry. "

And I will admit some fault of my own, around here we've never cared much about sharing germs or hairbrushes or even toothbrushes. Did I just lose any readers? Am I too gross to read about, now? But it did become ridiculous that no one could find their toothbrush, or a hair brush, or was fighting over the one available, or over who it was that actually left it in the fridge.

So, it was a little extra money up front, but it has been worth it! I went to hell, and purchased these tubs for each kid. It was out with pretty and in with practical. With each addition to our family (barring the baby), we added a tub. Also, it makes packing for middle aged kids easier for them, too. And with foster children, they just take their entire tub when they leave. Each child has their own toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, even a travel size mouthwash, etc. Older kids have deodorant and whatever else they might need and not want to share with smaller children in their own tub.

When making the purchases I was a little worried that it wouldn't really solve the problems, especially if the kids just left all their stuff out, anyway. But I told the kids anything left out was "free" for anyone else to use, and/or abuse. I don't think I've ever seen anyone's things out of their tub.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The actual review

I said some time ago that I would write a true review of Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel, rather than just the small blurb I had stated earlier. I have long since left the days of writing reviews, and my current lack of short-term memory kinda makes things like that hard. Yes, I read it. Yes, I liked it. What was it that it said, again?

Ok, so it really isn't quite that bad, but close. I finished the book several weeks ago. And, well, I've slept since then. But this is how I remember it. Keep in mind that where you lean in your already existing style of parenting might determine whether or not this book is for you. I may have been (notice the reluctance to out right admit my short comings) slightly leaning towards raising a legalistic family.

If you know our family, or the church we attend, that may come as a surprise. Yes, it surprised me, too. It's funny how quickly something like legalism can sneak up on you. One minute you're enjoying the grace God so freely gave, the next there's this imaginary checklist that's driven by guilt and a need to do penance and somehow reimburse God. As if that could happen. It's not that good deeds and love can't come from legalistic people, but it's kind of for the wrong reasons. It's the difference in appreciation for our own forgiveness and grace we received from Christ stirring us to love and good deeds, or the need to pay Him back.

There was a time in my life I extremely disliked books that didn't have much in them actually applicable to life. I guess I was lazy. Just give me that checklist already so I can get on with it. If you are looking for a book that spells out some kind of discipline method or manner of handling your kids, this isn't the one you want. But I really enjoyed it, and though I don't agree with every single word, it certainly challenged me to solidify exactly how I want to raise my kids and why. And to dig in the Word for my own answers. It is not full of impossible standards (which I often seem to find in parenting books), and largely deals with our own attitude towards our kids, and caused me to really examine how I view God, grace, and in turn pass it on to my children. I do think it helped me take another step towards providing an atmosphere in our home where our kids can grow morally strong, fearing God a lot, and fearing their fellow man very little. And fear is definitely something I've dealt with off and on.

I was hoping to find a picture on the net of what Kimmel calls a matrix for grace-based parenting. I can't, but it's basically a graph that weaves these "needs" every child has:

1. Secure love
2. Significant purpose
3. A strong hope
4. The freedom to be different
5. The freedom to be vulnerable
6. The freedom to be candid
7. And the freedom to make mistakes

So there you have it. Another checklist for me to post.

Monday, August 4, 2008

And then I play

The piano, that is. It's just what I do. I've been playing since I was a first grader. I'm not sure if there is some level of playing that you get to that automatically qualifies you as a musician, or if it's just how the music takes over that brands you with that title. I don't know when I became a musician, but I can remember that as early as 3rd grade, or maybe it was 4th, playing became a way of expression. Something I'm not sure I could have lived without. I remember that distinct time because my uncle had died. One with 3 small children. As his casket was being lowered, I'll never forget as one of his daughters began to cry and yell for them not to do that to her daddy. She didn't understand. In her little mind, being put into the ground beneath her meant her daddy wasn't going to heaven, but into a place she feared greatly.

That evening, I got lost in my music. Maybe that wasn't really the first time. And maybe it was a process that had begun much earlier. But it's the first time I distinctly remember my own music being the source of comfort; and somehow the music was no longer something I played, but something that played me. It took over. Poured into me and out of me from the depths of my soul.

Since then, I've spent countless hours with my fingers playing across ivory and black keys. I play other instruments, as well. Even as I was carrying my biological children their ears heard endless playing. With my first, I was still serving in a military band as a french horn player, and her ears were exposed to hours upon hours or rehearsals and concerts before she was even born. Each biological child does seem to have their favorites, as far as pieces or composers, but for the most part they don't pay much attention to my playing. It's just as much a part of life as my washing the dishes. Just another thing moms do.

My born of the heart children were not exposed to such, though, and upon their arrival to our home they had no idea what their ears would have to endure. Although I'd like to think that's not how they view it. And I'm pretty sure it's not. Even children just visiting my home I often catch standing and staring and listening as I play. I'm not trying to say that when I play, my magical music captures any listening ears. I'd like to think I'm that good, but the truth is music just has that ability. But for them, my playing is not something to be ignored. Little hands and feet that usually can't sit still long, suddenly sit completely still for an extended period of time. Especially if I put them in my lap and play something like this (hang in there past the first part, my favorite is in the middle after the change of tempo). Blessing has been with us for over a year now, and it hasn't worn off, yet. She likes it when one hand crosses over the other. When she "plays", that's how she does it.

And so it is with my life. Anger? And then I play. Joy? And then I play. Frustration? And then I play. Deep grief? And then I play. Fear? And then I play. Intimacy with my creator? And then I play. It's just what I do.

So, what do you do?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dear neighbors,

Yes, that is sidewalk chalk that covers my drive. And no, I don't even have any intentions of washing it off. It fades eventually.
I kinda like it. Especially the big heart with "mom" inside.

Yes, all those children are mine. I'm not babysitting. But you can, anytime you like!

I suppose the bicycles need a spot other than strewn across the yard. I do tell my children to put them in the proper place. But I suppose your children always do what they're told. I'll bet they aren't dirty, either.

Sorry the lawn isn't mowed as often as yours. I promise I'm more embarrassed about that than you; but the fact is I'm not raising lawns right now. I'm raising children. Could ya please quit sending that guy over here to ask if he can mow it for me?

Please just ignore the escapee that somehow always ends up in the yard in nothing but her panties. I'll realize she's gone eventually. And by the way, I do dress her. Every morning. And 5 minutes after that. And 5 minutes after that. And 5 minutes after that.

You don't have to call DHS because I have big kids playing in the middle of the day. They aren't supposed to be in school. I home school them. I promise. Just ask them to spell something. Um, maybe not. Try some math. They're better at that. Especially if it involves money. And they can sing all the countries in the world. But you've probably already heard that, huh? I know they're incessant singing can be pretty loud. I hope you enjoy the serenades. You should feel lucky your serenades come from the mouth. Sometimes we aren't so lucky from inside the house. Even though they are girls.

And, by the way, they do have a momma. I just felt the need to assure you because I get mistaken for one of them pretty often. I'm kinda small. This past year when visiting my husband's school (he's a teacher), I was in the hall between classes, and a teacher yelled at me. I yelled back, "I've been married for 11 years and I have 6 kids!". I liked that look she made.

Come over anytime! I can't promise much, but we aren't aliens and we're all friendly. Come on the right day and I might even have some warm bread for you... or cookies and milk. Just step over the barbies and books and shoes and bears. We'll have a grand time! Of course we won't be able to hear each other for all the noise, but we can laugh at the kids together, and I have a couple of really great huggers. I really hope to see you soon. But tilt your head a little further down as you walk might rain.