Friday, February 26, 2010

Darn Dog



Meet Happy. She's the newest member of our family, and we love her.

A little while back, when it snowed outside, I took the camera out to take pictures of the kids. Seemed like every picture I snapped, there Happy was, attached to Grace's sleeve.



I swear she had those teeth sunk into Grace's sleeve for 30 minutes.



Grace finally looked at me and said, "Darn dog". I've gotta do better about my language. So doesn't sound good hearing it back out of my child's mouth. At least she didn't say "CCCRRRRAAAAAAPPPPP". Which my mouth seems to be fond of lately. Think less of me? Shoulda heard what I said when I walked into the open cabinet door. You know, the one right at forehead level, that I had left open to put dishes away out of the dishwasher. Smart, huh?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What It Really Looks Like

Remember that cute table?



Not so much. I mean, it can be. But it never is. It's this constant hangout place for homework, school books and projects, colors, plates and snacks. Look close... there's a glue gun, an old applesauce cup, empty cereal box, sunflower seeds, magnetix, and tiny pet shop toys.



Then again, at any given time there are children being nourished at that table. Children patiently (or not) learning to work diligently, take pride in their work, and accomplishing great feats (learning to spell is great, right?). Children laughing over their snack or playing peek-a-boo with their little sister. Life is good. Clutter drives me crazy. But life is good.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Must Post Something

Except I have no idea what. Oh... Oh, when you can't think of anything, it comes in bullet points, right? Last week I:

- saw the doctor. One of those dreaded appointments when a girl needs one of Annie's hoodie/sarong packs. I also took a scolding like I was 3 - for minimizing and waiting to come in. Trying not to share just way too much information in an inappropriate place, but the scolding might have been slightly less humiliating had we been talking face to face. Ahem. And the real joy is I get to do it all again (I was referred) this week. Lucky, lucky me.

- saw the doctor again. This time my 4 year old had/has torticollis. I had actually been waiting on an excuse to take her in to talk about some developmental issues, anyway. My concerns for her are growing... and so Blessing, too, left with a referral. 2 of them actually. One to PT for her torticollis and one to a children's testing type facility. Our clinic really should just put up a statue out front for our contributions. I love my doctor, but I've seen a little much of her lately. ;)

- My husband played the guitar and I sang at a wild game supper Saturday night. Only we crashed and burned. Really. We could not find each other for the life of us. Only 300 people there. Sheesh. Other than that it was a great night with lots of interesting food (ever had coon?), great fellowship and fun.

- Because of all the winter weather we've had, we've missed "fairapy" for over a month. Charity is hanging in there. She has her moments, but she's actually tolerated it pretty well. It's probably me that needs it more than she does. It forces me to concentrate on Charity only and enjoy her for the shining personality she is... instead of constantly barking the corrections.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How Sweet It Is

... to hold a new born baby (I've been humming that song since I got my hands on this little one). It really is one of my favorite things... to rock a baby, to hear their little coos. I behaved myself. I didn't ask to undress her. I didn't see her tiny feet.



It's even sweeter when the tie that binds you is a special one. This sweet baby's family loved me when I was unlovable - when I was doing a pretty sufficient job of pushing away everyone in my family hard and furious (yes, I was one of those teens). They played a very special role in my life and I love them dearly.



My two older girls tagged along... they took after their momma when it comes to loving babies. Faith, especially, immediately started in on wanting another one for our own family. Really? You have 5 sisters and you want more? To which she replies quickly that it REALLY needs to be a boy. Bi-racial. Like we can go to McDonald's and place an order.



I love that they know just how to hold a baby. I love that their siblings have given them a glimpse into what life is like for others... they've literally seen children ripped from their parents (that was an accident, how that all happened was extremely unprofessional) but it has really shaped how they see our life, and how they care for little ones.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

RADical Art

I haven't blogged much about RAD lately, and that alone is probably telling about the stage we are in now. It isn't all consuming anymore. She's healing. She's attaching. She's making big strides.

Now that doesn't mean RAD isn't alive and well. It doesn't mean gross manipulation or other yucky behaviors don't show their ugly heads on a daily basis. But what is present now that was so absent before is empathy. And dare I say a conscience. She's thoughtful. She's accepting and giving genuine affection and words of praise. And now I need to get up and jump up and down for joy because you have no idea what a big deal that is.

Mostly what we deal with now is obnoxiousness. Times a hundred. Way over the top giggling and silliness. Very loud. Very anxious... all of those probably stem from anxiety and low self value. Oh, if she could just see herself the way I see her. Better yet, the way Jesus sees her. She's so beautiful. And so talented. She has a lot to offer this world. Look at this picture:



Ok, so I know it's stellar parenting to compare children. But I'm just being honest. My born of the body babies have zero art skill. They take after me. They love to see it, love to do it, but the actual work falls a little short. My stick people look disproportionate. That tale you hear about people that can't draw a straight line - That'd be me. So it may not take a whole lot to impress me. Even so, I'm thinking all the bright colors and the drawing is just really good for 5. Somebody tell me what a great artist she is. ;)

Then there are the self portraits. These make me sad. It still amazes me how her little face can smile like she is in these photos. How she can laugh all day and seemingly have a good time, and yet when she draws herself, or draws pictures of the day, she's always sad in the pictures. I have seen a few pictures that she actually drew a smile on her face, but there would still be something different about her. She's tinier than everyone else. Or she's towering over everyone else. All the little girls can have the same color clothes, but hers will be different. She even explained to me one day that her clothes were different and that's why she was sad. She also almost always has a tac, a nail, or a needle (her descriptions) poking out of her arms or legs. Oh, she breaks my heart!



So that's where we are... working hard to build her little spirit (you can't imagine how hard that is in a child who also needs constant correction). I guess what it sort of boils down to is we are working on our parenting. Because when I want to scream at her she really needs to be pulled close. Cause when I want to take her behavior personally it really has nothing at all to do with me. Cause when I want her to shut up with the stupid questions already, she really needs me to talk to her. And not say shut-up. So I go in the bathroom, and bang my head on the wall a few times. And come out with a smile and say, "Yes, dear, that's the kitchen. And since you don't know how to get there, we can practice together." Ah, life with RAD.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow

Yesterday evening the flakes began to fall. My kids were super excited. They didn't wait for it to accumulate, as soon as it was snowing they headed out. It rarely snows here in our little corner of the world, and the little girls have been praying nightly for snow.



Charity wasn't having the best of days (far from the worst, though) and needed to finish up a chore before going out. I think it hurt me way worse than her to make her stay in. She got with the program though, and made it outside not too long after the rest of us. I'm thinking maybe something fairly traumatic happened around a wintry storm. I'm remembering the last time it snowed (2 years ago) she was a pill. Sabotaged the fun. Couldn't sled or enjoy anything. Come to think of it, I know that her move to me happened when her foster mom fell on ice and broke her hip. Charity was with her and saw her loaded into the ambulance, writhing in pain. She later told me that G.S. (her name for foster mom) fell on purpose so that she wouldn't have to care for her anymore. Maybe there's a connection to yesterday's yucky behaviors?

Faith got snow in her pants. Hilarious.



Mercy desperately wanted outside, too, so despite already having the sniffles, I took her outside. She loved it. But she didn't see much.


The kids all went out for round 2 this morning. With Dad. And the big 2 were mmmaaaaaadddddd about going to school. We let them play first, and be tardy. I hate school. I really do. I'm still a homeschooler at heart. This stinks. I wanted to keep them home today. Ugh.



Our home this morning:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sick-er-Scared

In our room sits a couch.. well, not really. Really it's an extra large chair. You know, sort of a loveseat, but only one huge cushion - comes with an ottoman kind of couch. When we moved, we no longer had room for it in our living room, and so it made its home in our bedroom. I didn't realize what a great decision that would be. It just sort of happened by default, but it has proven to be of great use there.

You see, we used to sleep a little something like this:



Our bed was (still is to some degree) like a revolving door. Any given night 1 or 2 or 6 children would find their way to our bed sometime during the night. We've pretty much always been very laid back about that, even enjoying the nighttime snuggling, and have even purposefully slept with our babies. Also slept purposefully with our adopted children to promote attachment (or in Mercy's case just because it was easier to care for her at night).

But with our number of children, and since there is no bed big enough for 8, things had to change. I'm getting older. I require more sleep. Once we moved we started telling children that they were more than welcome in our room, bring a pillow and blanket with them and get on the couch. PERFECT! We're still approachable, in sight for scared little ones, ear shot for sick ones, but getting sleep without kidney punches or kicks to the head or stealing of covers.

Grace had strep a week or so ago, and as I tucked her in she asked if she could sleep on the "sick-er-scared couch". Didn't realize it had a name, but yes, dear, it's always available for that very reason.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not Quite the After

So we aren't completely done, but we're getting close. At least there isn't a whole in the wall. And we can all fit around the table. Yay!



My husband built, we stained, I painted, and he distressed the wood. Kind of. He drew the line at sanding. I wanted him to do a little burning/beating, too. Really distress it. He wanted to be able to paint back over it if it didn't look right, and so here's the compromise.

Any ideas on window treatments and cushions? I'm so NOT the decorating type. I mean, I know when I like something, and I want it to look nice. But I'm a country girl at heart, and am just not the creative type when it comes to that sort of thing. So... what kind of material for the cushions? Patterned or solid? or none at all? And I really need those blinds, the sun really comes blazing in during the afternoons, and I'm guessing curtains might look rather silly over the blinds? Take the blinds down anyway? Hmm, Hmmm, Hmmm.... ;)

Oh, and I'm cruising the flea markets for 4 old country chairs for the rest of the seating around the table.

A close up of the colors:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not Me Monday



I did not have so many laundry baskets in one room - half with clean, unfolded clothes, and half with dirty ones - that after being shuffled around and dug through by kids (and hubby) I couldn't tell which were which. I totally did not have to just wash them all again. Not me!

I absolutely didn't cuss about that, either.

I did not grab everyone's sunday morning clothes and throw them into the dryer to knock off the wrinkles instead of using the iron. You know, the one that hasn't been plugged up since we moved here. I'm way too conservative with energy and money to do a thing like that!

I did not put 3 of my girls' hair up in knotted buns instead of having to actually brush their hair all the way out. Who would do a thing like that?

I did not cry over 6th grade math.

Speaking of crying, I would never EVER cry over a breast cancer commercial. Especially not every. single. time. the thing comes on. NOT ME!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Mother

My mother is turning red right this very minute. Don't worry, Mom, I only have about 10 readers... on a good day. This is mostly for you and me. And because I think you're hilarious.

Yesterday was one of those days. It wasn't terrible, mind you, and I wasn't in a bad mood (believe it or not). But it was, none the less, just one of those days. It started when I burnt the pancakes. Almost as impossible as burning soup when you consider I don't mean I burnt one batch on one side. No, every last pancake was crispy, and a few non-edible. Pretty sure pancakes shouldn't be crunchy. It set off the smoke alarm, and I opened doors to get some of the fog out of the house. So we sat, eating crunchy pancakes under the fan in the freezing cold. Nice.

Blessing melted under the noise of the fire alarm, of course. I'm very much so realizing she definitely has some kind of sensory issue, mostly with noises though some seams and tags/materials bother her, too. I already knew it, but it seems more pronounced lately. Do things like that get worse?

It was very cold and wet here, but I actually kind of like those days occasionally. I wasn't feeling the best in the world, and so it was a great day to spend curled up with books (currently re-reading Karyn Purvis's Connected Child, The Dragon Rider to the big kids, and a Junie B. book to the littles) and movies and stay in pajamas. As the day went on I felt worse. I never actually took my temp, but I'm assuming I had a high fever since I was alternating between chills and then that cold sweat that feels horrible. I spent the better part of the day in the recliner, piling on blankets while I shivered, and then agitatedly throwing them off while I sweat to death.

In the morning I had sent my mom a text message. My sister and I love to text each other, and we've been on Mom hot and heavy to join us. My mom is young and hip (is that laying it on too thick?), and never once did I think it was about ability, but about being frugal (she doesn't have a texting plan). She's also kind of turned off to it (as was I before I got addicted) by other people's rudeness with their phones. My text was just a typical, sweet, Good morning, Have a good day kind of text. My sister and I had decided to send her a text everyday until she gives in and gets a plan. Because you know she can't leave them unopened. The suspense would kill her.

That evening, I got a text back. In all caps. Mom, that means you're yelling. Did you mean to yell at me? The text said, "I CAN DO IT BYE". I busted out laughing. Which was needed cause currently 6th grade math had both Faith AND I in tears. I told ya, one of those days. Faith was reading the text(s) along with me, and we both needed that smile. I quick texted my mom back, saying glad she can do it, but I can't do math. Explaining we were in tears. Now if that doesn't rise a compassionate response from your mother, what will?

Then I get back, the same message a 2nd time, "I CAN DO IT BYE". Now Faith and I are really laughing because it's obvious she can't. Even though she did yell at me twice and I was already in tears, we over looked that part and wittingly replied, "Are you sure you can do it?". And then we quit math and giggled over it more while we soothed ourselves with chocolate and coke. I said , "Math sucks". And then Faith (12 years old) gave me a speech about the word "sucks". I'm getting that mother-of-the-year award this year, dang it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Napping Turtles


Gracie drew a map yesterday.

A treasure map. Then she cracked me up telling me about her adventures trying to get to that pirate's treasure. That's "Snake Lake" at the top. And she told me about it with all the drama and fear (complete with trembling) of having been in that lake before, surrounded by snakes... some big enough to swallow her whole, and some no bigger than her pinky finger. She barely got out alive. So glad she had the "back scene" to keep the poison from killing her.

Then there is "Flower Hill". Thank goodness she could rest and sing something equivalent to "Sound of Music" while dancing and twirling.... I assure you I got the whole show. I wasn't really paying attention to the whole thing. Bad mothering, I know. But the child can do this for FOR.ev.er.

Sometime hours later we finally got around to the Napping Turtles. If you want to see one it's over there on the left with the purple head. I said, "You mean snapping turtles?". And she laughed. Whole-heartedly like I was the funniest thing on Earth. And then said, full of smiles and giggliness, "Silly momma, turtles don't have fingers."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The System

Yesterday, I read this post, which was prompted by a question asked by a social worker who just so happens to frequent by blog, too. I love knowing she's reading, and I love it when she has input, it's just a whole different perspective than my own.

I'm not funny, and I would much rather you go read her post than the rest of my own... she's hilarious yet packs a punch and always makes me think. And I need reminded often that Charity and Blessing feel and act the way they do for darn good reasons. I know the world won't bend to them because of they're misfortune, and that beating their past to death with a stick does them no good... but neither does ignoring it or expecting them to just get over it.

Anyway that post really got me to thinking about our experience with the system, my biggest frustrations as well as what went well. For us, with every single placement, I really did feel as though each worker got into the field for the right reasons. That they loved the kids, and wanted what was best for them. I think of social workers kind of like I do teachers... most of them (there are those stinkin few) love kids and are good teachers that are just trying to do the best they can while working within the system that they have to abide by. They see the flaws sometimes even better than we do, but law, administrators, etc., force them to follow guidelines they wish they could toss out the window. ;) Add that there are too many cases (or students) per worker/teacher, and you get overworked, underpaid, frustrated and sometimes calloused workers. All that rambling to say I have loved my workers. Yes, some have been better than others about the visits or about letting me know all that is available to the child in terms of clothing allowance, etc., but each one has loved my children and I really believe wanted what was very best for them.

My frustration... no... deep, fueling anger... comes from the seemingly nonchalant attitude towards families who want to become foster or adoptive parents. We have encouraged and watched 3 different families that would make GREAT families... are open to older children and understand the complications of taking in abused/neglected kids (they know our RADling) try to get through the process... and yet 2 years later do not have open homes, or have open homes but have not been presented with disclosures. These are people who longingly desire to hold children, and knowing there are children who need them.... WHY AREN'T THEY TOGETHER???? Drives me insane. It's a HUGE problem in our state (AR).

I completely understand how overworked our adoption specialist, for example, is. I'm not pointing a finger at anyone, just saying SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE. One family that I spoke of has the means to adopt internationally, they chose the state... they want to help these children. SO FRUSTRATING!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Paci Love, Mercy Love


Mercy's the bestest baby ever. If all babies were like her, I'd have 6 more. We just carry her up (after a minute or two of rocking or singing or reading or all of the above), still wide awake, & lay her in bed. She holds those little hands out, which is our cue to put every pacifier we can find into her hands. Usually 4 or 5. Place her lovey and blanket in the crook of her arm, kiss her on the head and walk out of the room.

She's typically calm and laid back... though she does have her fitful moments. She is the baby, after all. 6 little mommas have answered her every whim all of her life. She's gonna be rotten! Cute, but rotten. ;)

Don't you want to just squeeze those cheeks?