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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Updates...

It's the end of the month...time for updates!

Luke is so TALL!  Every time I hug the little guy, I swear he grows another inch!  During May he returned back to occupational therapy at Legacy Salmon Creek.  It is amazing how a month back on track has effected him in such a positive way.  He is cooperating more, sensory behaviors have lessened to some degree, he is wearing his compression shirt and is tolerating 15 minutes of iLs (our listening program) a day.  This a HUGE improvement from the boy who refused and threw a BIG fit if I put the headphones on him.  The month also brought an intake for counseling to help me and Luke at home.  He played several awesome baseball games, and he took a field trip to Fort Vancouver.  Luke is getting ready to earn his green belt in karate.  His eyes are stable for now.  We have another appointment at Casey Eye at the end of June.  The doctor is planning on giving him another visual field test sometime this summer. 

Grace is doing very well.  She is still enjoying her pierced ears, although I have to admit she loves to go through earrings. :)  She has been getting ready for her big ballet showcase in June.  Her dance class is tapping to the song "It takes two."  It should be really cute!  We just had her dance pictures taken yesterday.  Nothing like 12 girls in red lipstick :)  She is doing well in school and despite setbacks in reading she has been catching up to grade level.  I attended her 1st grade music performance in May and watched her sing her little heart out and twirled her ribbon.  She shinned!  Grace is anxiously awaiting the return of her speech therapist (who has been out on maternity leave) so she can attend therapy at the same time as Luke. 


 This little pixie has been acting "2"!!! This past month she has mastered the art of screaming at the top of her lungs when she doesn't get her way, throws her self on the floor and yells "it's not fair", and has eaten more fruit snacks than I can count.  She is picking up words so quickly and communicating with me all the time.  Her favorite activity this month so far has been going to the "mailbox" so she can open the box with the key.  This ususally goes on until I drag her screaming out of the post office. 

This month brought me a lot of appointments for the kids and myself.  There was not one week that did not include at least one medical and one therapy appointment.

I found out recently that Luke's teacher (whom I adore) will not be looping up to 4th grade (like everyone had been telling me she would be).  I was crushed and I cried.  I actually began thinking that this summer I could relax and not worry about what the next school year would hold for Luke.  I could enter a year and have the teacher know my son and my son know the teacher.  There would be a relationship established and the teaching and learning styles known.  The thought of having to introduce another teacher to Luke and begin the fight all over for his needs next fall is a daunting task for me.  I was looking forward to having a break from the "advocational" role this next school year, but it's not to be.  Sometimes the fighting is non-stop.  Today I just have a bad attitude and it doesn't seem fair.  I know life isn't fair, but today I just want it to be.

This has led to me having trouble sleeping.  I have a difficult time falling asleep when Mark is gone.  My sleeping patterns are way off.  He has been gone probably at least half the nights in the last month.  It gets lonely a lot.  I try and keep my kids as the sole focus and count my blessings to keep a positive attitude, but I must admit I don't always do this.  I am certain I yelled at the kids when the windows were open and the neighbors heard my sin.  Sometimes moms just yell.  I hate that.  I read that when you yell it only shows that "no one is in control."  I could use prayers and support.

Mark's activities consist of work, president of the deacon board at church, helping our neighbor build a room in their garage, hiking Dog Mountain, poker night.  I don't know how he does it.  But I am glad he is a better time manager than I.  I am working on it.  When everything boils down...I.just.miss.him.alot!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thirty-Three

Yesterday was my birthday...I turned 33.  It doesn't seem possible that another year has come and gone.  It feels that with each passing year time somehow speeds up.  I would like to know how to slow it down for a bit.  The kids keep growing, getting bigger, smarter, older.  Sometimes I feel I am just grasping for the time that flies by, trying desperately to make sure that I am not missing out on things with them. 


It was a simple birthday, but just being with the kids brings me happiness.  Mark and I went out to dinner (by ourselves) and he bought me a Larson's banana cake.  Yum!  I got a new lens for my camera, and some nice gift cards and a pedicure (thank you mom)! 

My birthday always falls around Memorial day weekend.  I couldn't help but remember all the Memorial day weekend BBQ's we had for my birthday at Grandy and Papa's property.  Baked beans, corn on the cob, rides on the ATV, croquet, flying kites.  Family.  I never dreamed that those Memorial day bbq's would end.  I guess I assumed they would go on forever.  Naive...I know.  It's just another family experience that grieves my heart because I can't duplicate it for my children.  I can try...and I do to make things special, unique and fun, but I can't provide 5 acres, 20 family members and all the things that go with it.  Things change and sometimes change is difficult.  I guess I am just stuck a little in the past wanting for things that can never be again, and feeling guilty for not fully appreciating what I had when I had it.  I was thankful last night when we went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house (Mark's parents) to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on their new fire pit.  It was just so nice to be around family.  I think my heart just needed that. 

In this next year it is really a goal of mine to purposely slow down.  To not be running from activity to activity.  And while I know that their will always be a therapy or appointment, I am looking to weed out all the unimportant time wasting activities from my life.  I am planning to continue to implement organizational skills and de cluttering our home.  I guess overall I just want my life to be simpler this coming year. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Enough

This week has been a crazy one!  It seems each week brings appointments, meetings and activities with it.  This week was full of karate, baseball, ballet, a trip to the ENT and occupational therapy. This week also brought us the opportunity to decide if we would foster a 2 1/2 year old boy.  Almost every week since January, the Department of Children and Family Services has been calling asking our family to foster a little boy.  There was the little love with the skull fracture, the toothless 6 month old, the 1 year old or the countless others that I have said "no, not right now" to.  Each time my heart breaking for the stories recounted on the other end of the phone.  Each time feeling like I am letting someone down.  Each time wondering "could I do more?  Am I doing ENOUGH?" 
(Luke and Baby G)

I don't know what it was about this phone call that actually made us consider.  Maybe it was his name (they are always more real when you know their names), maybe because I battle the internal struggle of "am I doing ENOUGH for God?"  Maybe because I know that just due to the fact that I was born in the USA, I have MORE than nearly 90% of the world's population.  We could squeeze ONE more in.  I could love a baby that needs a "for awhile" mommy.  I have been that before.  The words ring in my head, "to whom much is given, much will be required."  I take that VERY seriously.
(Isabella 3 days old)
We pray, and I dig deeper into finding out more about his case, birth family and needs.  God speaks CLEARLY, we obey, we say "NO".  My heart breaks.  Being a foster parent comes with some very serious risks.  Risks to our family, my career as a teacher, risks to our children.  This case carried a very HIGH risk to our family and we could not accept.  I cry out "am I doing ENOUGH God? I know what YOUR word says about defending the fatherless and speaking for those who cannot speak!"  Isaiah 1:17 "Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."  James 1:27 says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
(Luke and Baby K)
I read a lot.  I love to read other adoption blogs.  Foster adoption, private adoption, international adoption, it doesn't matter.  It is encouraging to read about others experiences with adoption.  I am always moved with the miraculous stories told of how their children came to be with them.  I read about a mom who has adopted 9 children, or Katie from Uganda who moved to that country and has 14 daughters (she is 22 years old) or the blog about a foster mom's journey.  I compare myself and feel less than ENOUGH.  I could be doing more, I should be doing more...I am not ENOUGH.
My 3 blessings!
I heard it said this last month that we need to "respond to the CALLING and not the NEED."  This is TRUE.  If I focused solely on the NEED, I would be doing things for the wrong reasons.  I am ONE.  I can't save all the orphaned children (147 million of them).  But I can do MY part to help the orphan crisis.  We have adopted 2 and we have been parents to 14 children since 2004.  Lately, I have been asking "what is MY calling?"  This is what I know...my CALLING is to these 3 little people that God entrusted me with.  The truth....2 of them were orphans.  God set the lonely in our family and wove us together to create something beautiful.  If I spend my days focusing on the NEED, or wondering if "I am doing ENOUGH?" I am missing out on the CALLING that HE has set in front of me.
(Baby R)

So...I asked that our foster license be put "on hold".  That means we are still a licensed foster family, but not accepting placements at this time.  My kiddos combined needs are great.  In the foster care system they have a level system to determine the needs of the children.  Level 1 is considered "basic" level or "typical" developing and it goes up to a Level 4 (high needs, medical needs, developmental needs).  Grace is considered a Level 2, Luke is considered a Level 4.  Miss B, is just Miss B, with her own set of "needs" including not wanting to separate from mommy and purely being 2 years old :)  I wouldn't change anything...not one bit.  Not the challenge, therapies, medical issues, nothing.  It has helped shape me and mold me into the person God wants me to be.  Truth is I don't know if there will be anymore kids for our family.  I am open to another either through adoption or biological.  But I am in no hurry.  Right now I know that I am in HIS will.  And I am doing ENOUGH.  I am ready for whatever HE might call us to in the future, but I am not looking or worrying about it.  HE is ultimately ENOUGH! When we were struggling to have a family, I had to come to a point and make peace with the fact that if we never had a baby, that it was OK and it was ENOUGH.  That was a difficult place to come to.  I wanted a baby so badly, but I surrendered to God and told him that I was incredibly blessed with my husband and that it was ENOUGH. I am so BLESSED!  I thank God for all the wonderful, incredibly blessings HE has given us.  Thank you God for being ENOUGH. 
(My 3 babies at the Happiest Place On Earth "Maui")

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weighted Blanket

Wednesday the much anticipated weighted blanket arrived in the mail!  I was thrilled because I thought it would at least be another week.  Luke and I were very excited to open it up and try it out.  I must say the blanket exceeded my expectations for quality.  It is a 12 pound, blue puppy dog paw print soft fleece.  The weights are distributed in small squares individually sewn around the entire blanket.  If interested in this product look up "The Magic Blanket." 

Luke immediately tried it out by wrapping himself in the blanket.  He sighed very deeply when put on his shoulders. 


(Luke sleeping soundly under his NEW weighted blanket)
He is loving the pressure the blanket provides him.  He put it to good use the first night he had it.  What surprises me, is even with how heavy it is, Luke wants more weight and more pressure on his body.  He still wants his other "heavy blanket" on top of the weighted blanket.  His poor little system has been so "out of sync" lately. 

However, I do believe I have pinpointed the catalyst for the "off" behavior.  It is Mark switching from working a predictable "yard job" schedule with BNSF, to a very unpredictable "road job" schedule.  Luke can barely handle it.  On Wednesday, when we talked to the therapist for the first time, he had tears running down his cheeks telling her how dad now goes back and forth to Pasco and "I don't even know where he is anymore."  "He says he is going to go to work or not go to work, and then he doesn't do what he says."  "I can't stand it!"  My poor baby!!!  That was the first time Luke has put it into words.  We are now trying to figure out what we can do to ease Luke's anxiety around this issue.  It is not easy, but I believe making this discovery will help us all. 

Honestly I am with Luke....Mark's work schedule is VERY difficult.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  He comes and goes at all weird times of the day and night. They call and he goes!  The sacrifice HE is making is HUGE!  I can't imagine. 

I honestly have been struggling with guilt.  If I had just kept my job with the Vancouver School District working part-time this would not be an issue.  Our schedules would be predictable, I only worked until 11:30am, I had vacations and summers off, money would be predictable, Luke would be calmer, ugh what was I thinking? Truth is I blame myself for Luke's latest issues.  This is still so incredibly difficult for me.  I struggle with feelings of failure.  I tell myself, "Breathe in and out and walk one step in front of another"....Ugh...I think I need a "weighted blanket."

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Different Look At Mother's Day

Mother's Day means so many different things to me.  It is complex and emotional...for so many years it was cards and homemade gifts for my mom.  I can remember making magnets, picture frames, flower pots and coupon books.

Then, Mother's Day 2003 took on a different perspective.  A day that normally is associated with JOY, now was a day associated with LOSS.  That should have been my first Mother's Day, instead it was a day to remind me of what "should have been."  My first baby would have been a month old.  I remember sitting in the back row of church crying listening to the message being preached by the pastor.  And feeling hopeless as the MOTHERS were asked to STAND.  I sat silent in my chair, but wanting to scream!  It was horrible for a "mommy" like me...the "mommy" typically not celebrated on Mother's Day. 

Mother's Day 2004 was really no different than 2003....EXCEPT I was now a "Mommy" that should have had a 1 year old and a 1 month old sitting with me. The seats next to me were empty.  2 losses in 2 years.  PAIN.  Silent pain.  I remained SEATED this year as well.  This was also the first Mother's Day celebrated without with my dad.  He had passed in Nov. 2003. 

2005 was the first time I celebrated Mother's Day.   I was a foster mom at the time, and Luke was just weeks away from being adopted.  It was the first Mother's Day in years that brought me JOY.  I was with my mom and brother (who had recently graduated from Azua Pacific University).  We were at his church in California.  I was HONORED as a Mother that morning...I actually got to STAND up when they acknowledged the mothers.  Then we celebrated at Disneyland where I was given a flower to mark my role as a mom. 


The Mother's Days that have come and gone over the last six years have been filled with both JOY and PAIN, both HAPPINESS and SADNESS, both HOPE and GRIEF. For every Mother's Day I celebrate with Luke and Grace, it means that 2 other mothers do not celebrate the day with Luke and Grace.  You could argue that it is "their loss," or "they don't deserve to," or "they should have tried harder, " the fact is that they gave life to those little people and without them I wouldn't be celebrating Mother's Day.  Every Mother's Day, I take time to honor them.  I send them each a card and thank them for the gift of life.  I remind them how much I love Luke and Grace and what a gift they are to me.  I include a picture of Luke and Grace and take time to pause and remember the connection we all have together, birth mom, child, forever mom.... and how each of us could not exist and complete our roles without the other.

A few years ago, before I had Isabella, I sat through another Mother's Day service in church.  Luke and Grace had been adopted, and I STOOD at the appropriate time...But as I listened to another Mother's Day message, I was upset by the limited view being discussed from the pulpit.  The words still ring in my head today "nursing mother," "mother that gives birth," "mother who supported me from the beginning of life."  I was angered as an ADOPTIVE mother because it made me feel less.  Even though I was a MOTHER, at the time of the preacher's message I hadn't given birth, or nursed or was the first person to hold Luke and Grace.  I didn't see either of them take their first steps, or was there to hear them say their first words.  I was however there night after night when Grace screamed for the first month she lived with us, or have laid with my son in recovery after his heart surgery, sat in counseling, answered questions like "why didn't my birth mother want me?"  or cry because I am so broken hearted about the hand my son was dealt. 

So after that Mother's Day Sunday, I decided that I wouldn't go to church on Mother's Day.  There was too much anger, hurt and anxiety built up around it.  I feel it is important to remember all MOMS.  My mind is drawn to the so many different types of mother's I know and care about....the mother whose children are grown, the mother who is in the midst of the day to day care of her young children, the mother to teenagers, the step mother, the grandmother who is assuming the role of mother for her grandchildren, the mother of a rebellious child, the adoptive mother, the mother that has lost her baby or young child, the mother who has miscarried, the mother who has given her child up for adoption, the mother who walked away, the mother that has aborted her baby, the mother whose children are in foster care, the foster mother, and one I know so well...the barren woman (who wants so desperately to be a mommy). I am sure there are many more mothers that I have failed to mention.  Each MOTHER carrying a wide array of emotions, hurts, joys, failures, grief, hope, worry, etc. 


I decided instead to embrace the little people that call me "mommy" on a day to day basis, to honor my mom who gave me life, and to reach out to the birth moms in my life that share that role as mom.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Therapy Room



For the last 3 weeks, I have been working very diligently on our front living room.  A month ago, I decided that the front room was a waste of space for our family (with the exception of the computer).  So...I got rid of EVERYTHING with no purpose...the table sitting in the window, the fake leather couch (hehe) and the coffee table.  We have maxed out our 1450 sq feet, and since moving isn't on the horizon for us, we created a space for our kids...to benefit them. 
(This little table from IKEA is the only purchase I have made for this room so far 19.99).

I have organized a homework desk with a soft light.  I went through all the school supplies (markers, pens, stamps, paper, etc.) finding them each a home and labeling them with their appropriate picture cue card. 
I gutted each of their rooms and moved board games, building toys and Lego's out to this recycled shelf.  My kids love the Thomas Kincaid light, and I made sure to include some Bella toys in the yellow tote so she will have activities to do too.  She doesn't like to be left out!

I found the play doh and all they different sets they have (Dr. drill and fill, shake shoppe, etc) and then found them a home on my black shelf (complete with picture cue card).  Coloring books, work books, trains have their own basket and I created a "Grocery Store".  I found a Creative Learning cash register at a 2nd hand store for 7 dollars (regularly 40 at Learning Palace) and recycled boxed goods by taping up butter boxes, gold fish box, and other fun food.  The kids stuck garage sale price tags on everything and "Whole Foods" bags were recycled so the kids can "bag their groceries."  This has been HOURS of fun for them!
I dusted off the lite brite and found it home, hung the iLs and the components for that therapy system.  The kids choose their own activities during their iLs session.  We have been doing the CALMING protocol right now.  Luke has been less resistant and I am so happy.  Grace is wonderful about doing iLs and is quick to ask and choose her activities.

Mark hung the suspended tennis ball.  The mini trampoline has a home and my teacher supplies are finally organized.  The prize box is in view for hard working kids.  I have compression shirts, theraputty and a weighted blanket on their way hopefully to be delivered by the post man soon! (Compression shirt arrived yesterday.  He LOVES it!) 

(Grace jumping on the trampoline doing tennis ball work).


The big plastic drawer has all my teaching supplies and manipulative's.  They enjoy writing on the white board and the emotions poster has been hung to help Luke identify what he is feeling instead of just blowing up when frustrated, angry, upset, mad, etc .

The bags were a little project of mine.  I created the 2 bags to be grabbed in a quick situation when heading out.  They have the essentials in them that can get us through karate practice or ballet, or any other appointment we might have.  The bags have diapers, wipes, color books, crayons, juice boxes, fruit snacks, dum-dums and pencils and paper.  Just trying to be more organized. 

My last issue was wanting desperately to have an indoor swing in our home.  A friend of mine suspended on in a door way frame.  I found this neat option to put in a door frame.  I like this idea because IF we ever move I can take it with me to another house.  There are also expander bars if the door frame ever exceeds 36 inches.  Now to pry another 90.00 bucks from our bank account to purchase the bar and then another 50.00 for the net the swing I really want for Luke. 
Support Bar - Rainy Day Indoor Playground

Patience...I know....sometimes it is just so difficult for me to not "sell the shirt off my back" to pay for the things I know can benefit Luke, or help make our home "happier" and "calm". 
(Here is Luke in his new compression shirt.  It is nice because it is so long and will hug his hips too.  It is navy so it can be worn under his clothes or just as it is.  His arms are pretty skinny but the length is right.  I need to order him so more now that I know that he likes them.  He actually was asking me to make the shirt hug him tighter. :)
He went back to OT this week...I am so grateful!  Joy, his therapist, is so WONDERFUL!!! I can't sing her praises high enough.  She not only is great with Luke she supports me too!

(Luke doing iLs while playing Operation with mom.)
(Grace enjoying her little "office space."  She loves to play at the desk and create!  She is very artistic!

My kids are amazing.  The things they do make me so proud.  The courage they display in their lives inspire me!  They are my heroes!!! I love them so much! 





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