Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No More Fluff

The couch really isn't all that old. What is the life of a couch, anyway? We've only had it about 6 or 7 years. But it's been through 8 children plus all the ones I've kept in my home along the way. That's lots of spit up, pee, juice and dirt stains. And the cushions just have no fluff left. The seams are coming undone. I'm embarrassed when people come over. Really.

Wonder why the cushion is all flat on one side?



This is why. It's her favorite perch. She's so darn cute, who can tell her no?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Double Digits



Hope turned 10 last week. A decade ago I gave birth to my biggest baby, weighing in at 8 lbs, 1 oz. We were living in New Mexico at the time, and my grandmother had come about a week prior to her birth to help me out. Those are precious memories I'll always cherish... I was so ready to have that baby, and my grandmother and I did everything possible to speed things along. My midwife had even suggested some pressure points, and I literally had bruises where my grandmother rubbed and pressed them. She nearly walked me to death, too. But, of course, Hope would only arrive in her own timing. My mother also made it just in time to be with me for her birth. The room was full of a few of the most precious women in my life.

Hope is such a treasure. She's emotional, sensitive, a giddy, prissy girlie girl... yet she gets dirtier and rougher than any of the others, too. Whatever she does, she does with all her being, nothing is ever half-hearted. You don't have to guess at what she's feeling or thinking, she's very outward with her emotions and thoughts. She's extremely compassionate, and just such a joy! Oh, I love this girl of mine!



She and Faith made her birthday cake very late on her birthday. They giggled and carried on. I didn't even mind the mess they left in the kitchen. And we all sang and had cake and celebrated Hope's 10th year of life. Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Randomness

- A week or so ago TJ came in from turkey hunting decked out in his camo. He had on a leaf suit like this one... hard to describe, but basically he looked like a tree. A leafy one. Fashionable Grace got this excited, starry look in her eyes and said, "Oh, Dad, where'd you get those fancy pants?"

- Blessing, who is more RADish-like than I'd like to admit (do I really have to walk this road twice, Lord?) - was banished to her room a couple of days ago for being totally between me and the other 2's math lesson. Like would not. get. her. head. out from between me and the math-u-see blocks. Of course I was rather distracted by the math lesson, and instead of going to her room, she made a detour in the kitchen... to the kitchen drawer (that was child locked, mind you)... got out a knife and nearly sliced her finger right off. At least the amount of blood would make you believe so. Afraid she'd be in trouble, she did not tell me and smeared blood from one end of the house to the other. I swear it looked like a crime scene here. Good grief.

- TJ is out of town on a fishing trip/men's retreat. I'm a single mom for a few days. I'm so spoiled... he does so much around here. He often cooks, baths kids, ENTERTAINS them, and the list goes on and on and on. I miss him for much more than the work he does, but that part is missed, too.

- All the kids have been on the new playground Hubby built non-stop. The weather is perfect outside and they have just played and played and played. It's been so nice!

- This weekend Faith has her first swim meet of the season. Go Faith!

- I had one of my finer mother moments this week as Hope was stomping around moaning and groaning and pouting like she was dying over a denied piece of candy. I quick turned on a DVR'd episode of AI Gives Back and showed her the segment with an adorable little girl in Africa, orphaned and dying from AIDS. Then I said, "look at her and then throw your little fit over not getting a piece of candy." Not my best moment. Ugh. Poor Hope. Not denying that she needed a reality check, but let's just say that was a little over kill on my part. I suppose I was throwing my own little fit about her behavior. Hmmm...I wonder where she gets it from.

- Mercy has a nice blue shoe print right smack on her forehead. Goose egg and very defined blue sole shoe print lines. Poor thing walked right in front of a swinging girl. Yep, shoe to the forehead. Did you hear her scream from your house? Between the sliced finger, and the undeniable shoe print on the face, well, I'm glad DHS isn't making visits around here anymore. Mother of the year award coming my way soon!

- Can't think of a thing more, though I know my kids have done and said no less than a thousand hilarious things this week. Hope your weekend is great!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Strangling Barbies

The UPS guy delivered the swings! Thanks SO MUCH to my husband's mom, who we all call "Mimi", for the lumber and the swings. It's perfect, and the kids LOVE it!




Mercy says "Cheese" now, any time the camera is out. Well, actually she doesn't say "cheese" at all. But she slaps on this grin and hums at a high pitch. She thinks she's saying "Chesse". Does that count as talking?


They sweep, sweep, sweep, and sweep the inside of their clubhouse. Must be the dirtiest floor ever in there...



Oh, fashionable Grace.



Faith and Hope spent their evening tearing up our tree. And Strangling Barbies. I suppose that needs some explaining. It started on the trampoline, tossing hula hoops. Before long, a hoop was hung in the tree. They tossed another hoop in an effort to knock the first one down... of course that resulted in 2 stuck hoops. And so the quest to retrieve them began. Do you see the monkey in the tree? She's well hidden in the leaves, but she's pretty high.



And then there was this bright idea to tie their barbies to a rope. They would toss it and try to hang their home made anchors to the hula. It eventually worked.... and apparently the whole deal was just more fun than they could stand and so they tossed the hoops into the tree again. Silly girls.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

He's at it Again

Oh, yes he is.

But this time, it's a playhouse for the kids, so most of the mess is outside. And there's no hole in my wall. Happy Momma. Happy kids. Happy Daddy. It's win-win all the way around.

He's closing in the bottom (actually already has, I just don't have a picture). There are beams extending out the sides for swings (ordered, not delivered yet), and eventually there will be a slide... have you looked at buying a slide? How in the world can something that looks so simple cost so much? Ugh.

I'm so proud... and so is Hubby. It looks great, and the kids are super excited.

This picture cracked me up, though. Once again you can tell a lot about my mothering by the picture. Blessing has on a blue dress with purple pants underneath. I praised her for dressing herself. And told her how wonderful it looked. Notice Grace is back in the red slippers. Poor Mercy doesn't even have a shirt or shoes on, and is that a tootsie pop in her hand? Good grief. Not to mention my 18 month old is standing at the top of a 5 ft. high opening. And no one is paying a bit of attention. Oh, wait... yes, I am. Just not concerned. Nonchalantly taking a picture. Can you imagine if that was my first born up there? Nah... the first born would have been fully dressed, including socks and tennis shoes, hair fixed, bow in, NO CANDY, and certainly not walking around with a stick hanging out of her mouth. That's just too dangerous. And 5 ft. high? My, how more children changes a girl. ;-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hogskin Hammies

Remember that little town festival Hogskin Holidays? Well, I failed to mention my oldest 2 girls marched in the parade as a little group that made up the Hogskin Hammies. They were decked out in boas and necklaces and piggy ear-rings, and carried lawn chairs with them. Yes, lawn chairs. With all the flare of Stomp, they did a little routine that included banging the chairs on the ground, slapping them open and shut, and twirling them in rhythmic fashion.

Yes, very cool.

What's even cooler is that the governor (along with his entourage of security people and paparazzi - which my husband and I thought was hilarious - where did he think he was? Chicago?) took notice. He, too, was in the parade, and as it turns out tried his hand at lawn chair drums. Here's a picture of my grandmother bossing around the governor. Who would have ever thought I'd see the day? Apparently Hope is really enjoying the boss session, too. Funny girl.



And here's the whole hammie group with him. Are they cute?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Locks of Love

Grace has had long, beautiful hair for years. For awhile, I think her hair distinguished her from her sisters who were so close in age, and that's one reason she loved it so much. People would constantly compliment her hair, and she would stand a little taller, and priss a little more sassy-like.



For a month or so, she's being saying she wanted to cut it. Fine by me, I assure you it's a tangled mess to wash, brush, and fix. She would often cry when I was brushing it out, yet still insist she didn't want to cut it (though I tried to talk her into it). This time, though, it was her own idea, and she stuck with it. I didn't push one way or the other, but I did show her this site, and what she could do with that beautiful hair of hers.



And so she did... Saturday Aunt Lissa (against her will) snipped off a 13 inch ponytail for Locks of Love. And you just thought the walk was sassy beforehand. My word that child strutted around, flipping her head back and forth, hands on hips with a real swagger in her step. Cutie-patootie!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hogskin Holidays

To celebrate Charity's birthday, we spent a day at Hogskin Holidays. The girls had arm bands for the fair and spent most of the day riding rides. Unfortunately, I have a little one with sticky fingers (Mercy), and the photo card from the day is GONE. Ugh. I'm totally sad about that (and my mom is gasping... it was hers... don't worry too much, mom, I had already looked at it and the only pictures on it were the ones from that day). Anyway, I did load just a few of the pictures for a sneak peek, just not very many. I really hate not having pictures of Charity blowing out her motif candle (oops) on her birthday cake.

But at least I can share a few pictures with you. Believe it or not, Grace, the biggest fraidy cat of the bunch (typically) got on the ferris wheel. Her first ride was with Faith and Charity. Can you tell which one Grace is? Lol.



Don't worry, she got over it and actually rode the ferris wheel several more times.

Hope, who is fairly fearless when it comes to rides, unfortunately is also extremely prone to motion sickness. Rides opened at 10 a.m. At 10:05, one ride later (a doozy of a ride, mind you... she picked the spinniest -yes, I make up words- one there... the Scat II) she was green tinted and about to lose her breakfast. Her nana bought her a coke, and she stood sipping while everyone else rode other rides.



Mercy spent most of the day attached to Aunt Lissa, and Melissa climbed up and down that silly slide more times than I can count. Huge grins from Mercy, then grunts to get right back on. Mercy grunts, Melissa obliges (or mom, or sisters, or whoever is close). ;-)



It's a terrible picture, but at least it's proof we had funnel cakes! What's a fair experience without the food... the kids all had foot long corn dogs and funnel cakes!



Charity loved riding and did a great job handling a day of indulgence and fun. We all enjoyed the day, even enjoyed her, being with her, and watching her have a great time without becoming obnoxious or ridiculously hyperactive. Blessing who is typically fearless, is actually very afraid of rides. She stuck by my side most of the morning, but eventually mustered up the courage and rode lots of rides, including big ones. My big 2 girls have loved rides since they were small, so everyone had a great time!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dear Charity,

Happy Birthday!

Oh, sweet baby. You've lived with us for 2 years now, and you turned 6 today. Wow. In some ways it seems like you've always been a part of our family... I can't remember life without you. In other ways it still seems like yesterday you stamped your little foot at me, threw your lunch plate in the floor, and with your cute little nose turned up told me my lunch was completely unacceptable. And that I should now fix you a grilled cheese sandwich.

I laughed. It was funny then, and it's still funny now. However, had I known your little bossy demand was RAD on that very day, and what RAD would mean for all of us, I might have tucked tail and ran. Maybe that's why God had things happen the way they did. I don't think I would have tested the waters... I would have been too afraid if I had read so many discouraging things about RAD before you came. If I knew you were living with it. Because sometimes I still try to make it about me. Like I'm the one living with RAD. Like I'm the victim. I have no idea what being a victim is, do I, sweetie? You do. And I still see it in your eyes sometimes.

I'm so glad I didn' t know. Because I would have missed life with you. I wouldn't trade you, what you've taught me, or how you've blessed me for anything in the whole wide world! I'm in for the ride, baby! And I suppose if I feel like I'm on a roller coaster, then what you feel is ten times that.

RAD is diminishing and Charity is emerging. And what a beautiful, smart, COMPASSIONATE (wow, only you and I can fully appreciate that), hard little worker you are. I'm so proud of what you are accomplishing. It's hard work for your Dad and I, but it's even harder work for you, and I can't believe you're still putting up with us and our silly selves. Some days we just can't get it right, huh? But we're trying. Just like you. I see you trying... you're trying so hard, and that's so great to see! There was awhile there I didn't think you were going to try. Or that you were going to give us a chance. And who could blame you, really?

Oh, you still like to play some games. Your Dad laughed his head off the other day as you held up a crayon, the coloring book laid out in front of you, and looked at it all completely perplexed and said, "What do I do with this?" It was so obvious. You've only colored pretty much every day since you've been with us. But, I'll let that slide... after all, that day was full of indulgence and love and fun and praise to celebrate your birthday. It was sure to be met with some back sliding. But you know what? It didn't end with a fit. In fact, you laughed. You shrugged your shoulders without becoming all pitiful or whining or melting into a pot of rage and frustration. Look how far you've come! You did later exclaim, "Look at those goats!!!!" as the horses in the parade went by. But it was a fleeting moment and you went on to enjoy the parade. And cake at Nana's house. With no over-the-top-ness or maniacal laughing or ANYTHING! Wow! You're doing SO well!

Birthdays are hard for me. And I wonder if they'll be hard for you, too, as you grow and wonder what your first years were like. And what your first moms were like. As I hug and kiss little Mercy's face I realize how much I missed with you. How many kisses, how many hugs, how many hours of staring into each other's faces? How many tickles, lullabies, and feeding each other cookies? Were you chubby? Were you an early walker? Were you a nosy body like your sister Hope, or a whiny baby like your sister Grace? Were your little personality traits cherished and laughed about by your caregivers? I want all that with you. And if it isn't bad enough that I didn't get to have those moments with you...it seems no one did. It's not as if you were being cuddled and loved by anyone for all those years. Not consistently. Not by the same mom. Maybe not at all. Definitely not at all for some length of time. I know that much to be true. 3 different homes in 6 weeks? and at least 7 in your first 3 years?

But one thing I'm sure of is you're mine now! And I'm so happy about that. And so is your dad, your sisters, and your grandparents. You are an amazing little girl, and we might clash heads often, but it's just because your little will is so incredibly strong. And you know what? I think that's a wonderful thing. You have so much to offer this world! People just naturally gravitate to you. You're already an amazing leader, you pay such close attention to detail.. and you're good at EVERYTHING you try!

I might not be the best mom in the world. You might have even had one fat motif candle stuck in the middle of your cake instead of 6 little birthday candles. Oops. But no mom can love you more than I do.

Love Always,

Your mom. Not your foster mom. Not your birth mom. Not the best mom. But YOUR mom.

And I'm so happy it gets to be me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Buddies



It's a terrible picture, poor Sadie looks like pure evil... but at least you can see that these two are buddies. More and more they play together, curl up together, eat together, etc. Silly pets!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Family

My grandmother, and my youngest sister aren't the only cool ones in the family. Aunt Lissa (my sister who made her grand entrance into the world ON my birthday... no, it gets better... on my very 1st birthday!) is oh-so-special. She paints toe nails and fixes hair just right (and cuts hair, too, I might add... imagine if I had to pay for all these hair do's!), she steals girls away one or two or three at a time and makes them feel extra special. She also is one of the very few (thinking very hard, quite possibly the only) one with whom I leave all 6 girls at once. That's another post for another day, but for some reason I seem to think I'm the only one that can handle all 6. Laughing at myself now. I can be so retarded sometimes.

So anyway, back to that terrific Aunt Lissa... I think I figured out her secret. She gives them treats. Like a whole spoon full of marshmallow cream! Whose love wouldn't that buy?



I tell people all the time there is no way I would have considered any more after about number 4 if it wasn't for Melissa. Add my mother (happy birthday, mom!) and my dad... who are my encouragers, support system, and prayer warriors, and well I just can't be any more blessed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Have Mercy



Isn't she the cutest?

My youngest sister and her beau came over to visit the other day. Aunt Candice is adored by all the girls... and me, too. She's 10 years younger than I, and I had a very special place in my heart for her from the day she was born. While she was here Mercy decided (a short time ago NO ONE but Momma would do - and it bothered my dear family who was trying to love on her) that Aunt Candice was pretty cool after all. She clung tight the whole time she was here.

After playing outside for awhile we popped some popcorn and put in The Princess and the Frog. Mercy is getting so big... wanting her own bowl just like everyone else, then laid back in Candice's lap and didn't move the whole movie. Of course, I think Candice was slipping Mercy some sips of her coke. That may have helped matters a bit.



Nothing like an 18 month old strung out on coke. ;-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Coolest Grandmother Ever

Actually, she's the coolest GREAT grandmother ever!

Who would have ever thought my daughter would be on a bright red one of these with her great grandmother?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Heavy Hearted

It's been one of those weekends. I'm not so blown down that I can't look around and see the joy, the blessings, and the comfort of my Savior, but knocked down enough that His plan seems not-so-great. I know how ridiculous that sounds.. like my plan could somehow be better than the God who breathed out of His nostrils stars that make the Sun look like an m&m. But a time where my head knowledge knows that when I see His face in the glorious light of heaven, I will no longer want to ask why, yet my heart lagging far behind... hanging on to anger and fear and frustration...yearning for answers, and fairness.

We lost our adoption specialist this weekend.

When my husband was a band director, she was one of his band parents. Upon learning that we were about to complete our foster license, she stopped him at a softball game and said, "I need to place a little girl in a forever home... she looks just like your family, I can see her little blonde head tagging along behind the rest of your girls." After that, the ball began rolling fast and Blessing soon came to our home. What a gift God gave, but used her hands to do it.

We've spent hours laughing, crying, and experiencing the ups and downs of fostering and adopting children together. She was not only an adoption specialist, but a foster parent herself, currently fostering 2 small children whose lives just got turned upside down. Again. As if their little lives didn't already hold enough trauma. Please pray for them. At the tender young age of 6 and 4, they have already lost more than most of us lose in a lifetime.

She was our adoption specialist, responsible in many ways for the adoption of my children. She was a friend. She was a mom. And she'll be missed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Daunting Task



I love this time of year. I really do. We hear frogs singing at night, and birds singing in the mornings. The kids stay outside almost all day, running in and out only for drinks, snacks, and to bring me treasures... usually in the form of flowers (weeds) or rocks. They bring in a mess of dirt and leaves with them, but I suppose that's what brooms are made for.

Because we store non-seasonal clothes in bins out in the garage, when a season change comes this daunting task of sorting, trying-on, washing, and packing away comes with it. My living room looks like a few dressers and a garage sale threw up in there. Not only are clothes everywhere, but because I'm not doing my normal pick-up-behind-kids-every-hour routine, so the whole house is a mess. Ugh.



The kids love it, though. It's like shopping. They're trying on clothes and oooing and aaaahhhhing and saying, "cccuuuutttteee". Not only that, but since I'm so preoccupied with sorting, washing, making lists of needs, etc., the T.V. has been on for 2 days straight. I'm not bothering them about school work. It's win-win for them! ;)



Hopefully I'll finish up all the clothes today, and it will be on to the shoe buckets tomorrow. Joy, joy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daddy's Toss

... is very high.



And is rewarded with grand giggles and squeals and laughter.



A good girl Daddy can toss very high.. but he can brush hair, too. I've even known him to put pig tails in. Aw, Good Daddy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

She's a Hunter, Too

One of Faith's most favorite things is spending time with her Papa. She thinks he hung the moon. She treasures their time together, and rambles on and on to me later about all that he's said and done. I swear if he said oranges were really purple she'd believe him and argue with the rest of the world. So sweet.

A lot of their time together is spent shooting guns, roaming the woods, and hunting. He has taken her on the youth hunt for a few years now. She got her first deer last year, and her first buck this year. I know lots of women and girls in this part of the country are hunters (including my sister and my mother-in-law), but it still just strikes me as funny when I see my little girl all decked out in camo and boots, toting a gun and sporting hunter's orange.


Friday, March 12, 2010

So It Isn't November

But I wasn't blogging then, so we can pretend. Faith turned 12 last November. Wow. She'll be a teenager this very year. And this is where I do that gulpy thing cause of a big fat lump in my throat. Has it really been 12 years ago that a doctor handed me a beautiful, 6 lb little girl? A baby girl, whom I might add, seemed to know from that very moment who she was, exactly how she wanted her life, and has rarely swayed.

I could go on for hours about her personality... but of course you just have to know her. She's the best kid ever. Well, one of the 6 bestest kids ever. And as is typical of birthdays around here, the birthday girl pretty much chooses (within reason, of course) the activities for the day. This is the 3rd year in a row that all she wanted to do was ride horses. She LOVES horses with a passion that runs deep. She still says when she grows up she'll wants to do hippotherapy (therapeutic riding) - working with horses and kids with disabilities and/or emotional struggles. She'll be fantastic at that... or whatever she decides to do.

So, we saddled up. Here's Faith about to put a blanket on Blue.



She isn't the only one who loves horses. Here's Hope with Sugar.



Big sisters riding little sisters.



Blessing's turn lasted long enough for me to turn around and get the camera. By then she was already reaching for me to get her back off. She's fearless in so many ways, but she did not like the horses, and she does not like elevators or 4-wheelers or public bathrooms. Strange mix, huh?



Sweet birthday memories.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hugs for Dad


There isn't anything better than little arms squeezing tight around your neck... especially when it's accompanied with giggles that tickle your ear, and a little one's grunts like she is squeezing with all her might. But do you know what my favorite part about that picture is? It's my husband's eyes. You can barely see any of his face. But it's enough. Enough to know the joy her sweet hug is bringing him. Enough to know his heart is swelling like mine. Enough to know his smile says it all. Look at those lines in his eyes... his grin must be a mile wide! Oh, the joy our children bring us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

That Face


This picture of Charity really cracks me up. I thought about just doing a Wordless Wednesday, but I think the reason I find the picture so funny takes some explanation of her personality.

It captures so perfectly her determination. She tries so hard. Too hard, really. She thinks she needs to be perfect. She pays attention to every detail... toes pointed, hands touching toes, jump real high, just the way my big sisters do it... Oh, sweet baby, we love you no matter what! We don't want you to be just like them.

Unfortunately, for a long time her determination was directed towards less than desirable behaviors. She was determined alright... determined to keep us at arm length, to control the house hold, and to cause chaos. She was pretty successful at it, too. She was in survival mode, and I'm glad I understand that now. Because at the time it was extremely hard to swallow.

Oh, the mountains she's beginning to move. RAD is diminishing, and Charity is emerging. I read a great comment a special needs mom made about her daughter. About how her daughter had epilepsy, but epilepsy didn't have her. She talked about how her disorder didn't define her. Unfortunately for RADlings, or at least for me in Charity's case, it did define her for a very long time. It's all I could see. But that isn't true anymore. She's moving that mountain, one rock at a time. We (her family) are trying to help her move rocks, too, but most of the work is hers alone. AND SHE'S DOING IT!!!!! Praise God for His mighty works in her little heart!

She's a hard worker and a perfectionist. To a fault, really, and we're actually working on messing up. And it being ok to mess up. Like, practicing getting things wrong and then reacting nonchalantly. I say, "I want you to tell me the sound this letter makes, but tell me the wrong sound." Then when she "messes up", we laugh and snap our fingers and say, "dad-gum-it, I messed up - now I'm gonna try again." So that maybe when she really messes something up she thinks she should have gotten right, it won't cause a downward spiral of fits and rage.

But my point is that her determination isn't aimed at gaining control or the attention (at any cost) of everyone around her. She's now applying that same strong will and determination to getting along with her sisters. To doing her chores well. To accept what we've said and just say, "yes, ma'am". So when the moments of being stuck or regression come, they are oh-so-much-easier to accept... to respond to her the way she really needs instead of my own anger and frustration oozing out.

Funny how a strong character trait is both a weakness and a strength. The very thing about her that makes me want to pull my hair out is also the very thing I love deeply.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Flying High



Yesterday my family joined us for church, and then spent the afternoon at the house for lunch, cards, to share kisses with giggling, wiggling girls, to dance and sing, and so on and so on. Love those kinds of days! My mom took her camera out and captured some great pictures of the girls on the trampoline.






Charity trying to do the split jump like her big sisters. She's a good study... she watches carefully and imitates well. She's so good at everything she tries.



Blessing was not to be out done... she's trying her best, too... see her little hand trying to grab the foot?



Now, I was inside playing cards... but my guess is cautious Grace wouldn't even try. Jumping high is stretching her fraidy-cat personality enough.