Friday, March 23, 2018

When?

Yesterday Moses had a wrestling meet.  My Dad came.  Dave dropped Ernie off after school so he could cheer Moses on too.  It was in the back gym, not the big one.  There were metal folding chairs set up.  I sat between my Dad and Ernie.  It was loud since the chairs were right on the edge of the mat.  Parents cheering, coaches yelling, kids screaming at their teammates...you get the idea.  Ernie was so excited to be there!  First match - he asked all kinds of questions about why this guy is doing that, why that guy has those shoes, why it's in this gym...you get the idea =)  Second match - he asked if he could color.  I offered a pencil and suggested we look for paper in his backpack.  Nah!  Clearly he was already bored. 

"When am I going to be adopted?!" he said, annoyed and seemingly out of the blue.

I was caught off guard.  I shouldn't have been, for various reasons.  Bert is usually the one who asks that.  A lot.  Often.  I'll never forget how early on we were out in the yard, when Bert took his shoe off and threw it at me b/c I wouldn't adopt him already!  Bert and I have a lot of conversations about the steps to adoption and why it's a long process.  We talk about how I would adopt him RIGHT NOW or even YESTERDAY or maybe even BEFORE YOU WERE BORN!!! if that was possible.   Sometimes Ernie is present for these conversations.  Sometimes he is not.  Usually Ernie is 'meh' (as the kids say) about all this adoption stuff.  He seems indifferent.  I know that is not entirely true but even if it was, that's totally ok, acceptable and understandable.  At any rate...I should have seen it coming, but maybe not during a wrestling match like that. 

As I moved on to answering the question, in the middle of a loud wrestling meet, it seemed like time slowed down.  You know how in a movie, the stuff around the edges goes slower and blurrier while the center scene is in real time and full focus?  Like that.  There's probably a cinematic term for that, but I don't know it.  Anyway - it was one of those moments.  I sat between my Dad and my son, while another son was across the aisle in wrestling gear and I tried to explain life, the complicated foster care adoption system and my heart.  My momma heart that aches and loves and beats for my kids.  Life that is crazy and dumb and awesome and contains moments like this one where God is present and real and we just have to hold on and hurry up and wait.  'The system' that says it's for the kids but it's the kids who get a raw deal b/c, well, just b/c it's a system and not necessarily the solution.  All that.  I tried to explain all that.  To a kid.  A kid.  When I feel like a kid myself.  I wanted to turn to my Dad, my Dad who is going through his own stuff but is, still, and will always be my Dad, and I just wanted to be a kid again.  A kid.  A kid who doesn't have to explain all these things.  A kid who believes she can do anything, be anything, fix everything....thanks to her parents.  But I also love that I get to be the parent.  I love that I get to do what I can to convince my kids of those very same things. 

(Just to keep things in perspective, I have been told that nobody wants to be in my family mere hours after being asked about adoption.  This I understand too.  This is 'normal' for our situation.  This is what makes our world turn.  But those moments make the above described moments even more sweet.  And blog-worthy!) 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A roo-roo-roo!

Winky face!
Hi!  My name is Bailey!  I'm new here.  I had a long ride all the way from Memphis!  My Dad met me and my driver in a Walgreens parking lot...I was pretty overwhelmed but happy to have the big guy drive me to my furever home!  It was a long drive to my house but they had a kennel ready for me and some toys, food and water bowls.  The next morning there were all these little people!  I could not wag my tail hard enough!  They were a little loud but then all of a sudden Mom went out the door w/them and came back all by herself.  We had a pretty good first day together.  When I went out to pee, I noticed that they also have these funny looking dogs here.  I think they live outside.  I didn't see a kennel for them or any food bowls either.  They're kinda furry and they say meow a lot, especially when they're hungry!  There's also these other things in the back yard...not sure what to call them. 
They are all different colors and make some really loud noises, like they are freaking out!  They flutter around a lot but this one they call Reba sure likes me.  Sometimes Wynona comes over to say hi too.  Those girls need to tell their friends that I'm cool b/c sometimes they get a little excited and run away.  I just want to play!  I'll make friends w/them yet!
Since I've been here, I've gone on a lot of walks.  Did you know they have water here?  Once I went down there and it was LOUD - but it looked like fun!  Mom says we can go swimming when it's warmer.  She said I would like camping too - whatever that is.  I've seen this 'camper' thing and it looks like a little house!  On wheels!  That's crazy...anyway - all this activity and making friends w/the little people wears me out sometimes.  Sleeping is good.

The other day Mom took me to my first vet appointment.  There was a nice lady who put out a few crumbs of treats and then she put cheese on the wall!  CHEESE!!  She kept trying to put this black thing on my back but I wasn't having it.  I was smart and waited until she left the room to eat the cheese.  The vet came in and he talked to Mom about ticks, food and the little people.  It was a good day but I came home and took a nap since I was tuckered out.

I've also been to puppy class.  There are all these puppies there w/their Moms and Dads and a really nice couple who is helping us play together.  Mom tried to get me to lay down for a treat but um, hello?  I don't do stuff like that on the first class!  I learned a lot from my previous foster parents and Dad says I'm really a good dog.  I don't beg, I listen well, I have only jumped on the couch once!  My foster family was so nice to teach me manners!  I love people and dogs too.  I'm even starting to like the little furballs that live outside!  At puppy class, I licked every dog there.  I just went around the room and licked 'em!  The big dogs liked it, some of the little ones tried to hide but my tongue still reached them.  The teacher said I did a good job.  Mom laughed and said that I was a wet bandit.
Recently I stayed over at the vet.  I was sore when I came home and I had an owie on my belly.  Mom won't let me run much, she said it's not good after surgery.  Things w/that were going pretty well for a while but then today - UGH!  Today she took me back to the vet and this happened!!
Yup, that's a cone.  This dumb thing keeps getting caught in doorways and seriously restricts my ability to easily lick people and other dogs!!  I did discover in the wet snow today though, that if I put my nose down to sniff, when I lift up my head, I can scoop the snow!  Then if I come up fast enough, I can actually toss the stuff I scooped!  I tried to catch that and Mom kept laughing!!  Scoop, toss, jump, scoop, toss, jump!  This cone is annoying and it doesn't come off when I scrape at it w/a paw, but it is a little fun in the snow.  Just don't tell the vet I said that, ok?  Mom tried to get a video of me playing but maybe next time she'll have a little better control w/her bad arm. 
Anyway - I thought I would introduce myself since I'm sort of a big deal around here!  I'm super friendly so if you see me sometime I will demand to greet you and probably lick half your face off, just so you know how much I love friends!  I'm happy to be part of a furever family now and the coolest thing is that I'm not the only one here who was in foster care and adopted too - some of my little people went through the same thing.  If we're not a match made in heaven, I don't know what is. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Goals 2018

Before writing this post, I looked back at some of my past year's goals...yeah...I feel like writing a big fat TRY AGAIN over them or just copy and pasting them here!!  But that's boring and doesn't make for an exciting post...so....how about I just write some of the new ones here?  If you feel like it you can take a look at the older ones here.  Before I spit out a big to do list for 2018, I'd like to highlight what went well in 2017.
I cleaned and purged in the alcove!  That means I emptied the huge bin of mostly kid papers and projects that I moved to our new house 2 years ago!!  This felt sooooo soooo soooo good, even if it took me forever to do it.  School papers are better organized now and have a real home.  I'll be ironing on that latest "You're a grown-up!" badge real soon. 
Dave helped me in a big way to get a garden cage up.  I really hope this year to get some things started in the house.  Overall, the garden is set up and ready for the next year.  Big win for someone who 'has to' grow stuff!
We camped quite a few times w/family and friends - this was so good for my soul - I really hope we can plan out more of this in 2018.  I like the long trips too, but sometimes a girl just needs to see her besties and hearing the kids make mischief w/their cousins is definitely priceless.
I've been able to get to bible study w/some women from church on a semi-regular basis.  Still working on relationships and my own personal faith journey, but meeting w/people IRL is a good thing.
Guys - I've been cooking!!!  COOKING!!!!!  Now don't go thinking I mean that fancy pants restaurant kind of stuff, I'm talking casseroles, quiches and Mexican dishes, but being that we are at the Y at least twice a week for a number of hours, I've pushed myself to make real food for my family.  I even tried a new thing today!  I'm getting to be a master of all things 9 x 13...another 'grown-up achievement level' unlocked!  Where's my bouncing star and tinkly electronic theme song? 
I've been decorating the house...there are pictures on the wall...still no decorating theme or coordinating put together rooms but I'm trying!  I am even thinking of hiring a professional for some advice.  I'm ready for grown-up furniture (bought one piece already) and an actual 'style'.  Other than "I'm too lazy to do this, I have no interest, and no eye for what looks good", that is.
Alright!  Now for some new stuff!  First of all, the kids are doing well.  It's been 2 years since we added to the family and we've reached a loose routine and sense of peace in the house.  I know I can step up my game as a momma and some of my goals are related to that.  I'll begin meeting Moses at the library after school to work on his online Spanish class next semester.  I need to carve out at least 10 minutes a week w/each kid.  That sounds easy, but Lord help me, my scrambled brain can never remember to slow down and focus.  I steal moments here and there but so much of our lives happen in a group...it just needs to be a priority for me to make that connection w/each one on purpose.  Another thing I'd like to do more of is hosting people in our home for meals, Bible study or 'play dates' for the kids.  Hang outs?  Are they too old to say play dates?  Maybe!  We are always willing to have people over but I feel like I need to make everything BETTER for that to happen.  "Maybe when we get better furniture....maybe when we re-paint in here....maybe when it's not so muddy outside..."  This year I commit to trying to host someone(s) once a month!  We already hosted a family in the month of Jan, I think...which means I need to get working on a Feb date!  I feel like that one is not a super new goal, but oh well.  Here's another one - get active more.  I think this one will be a little bit easier this year, for various reasons.  Back in the day, I used to run.  I miss it and wonder if my 40yo self can muster up the strength and energy to get back to where I left off?  I once set the goal for a sub 30min 5K and came really close!  I think I technically achieved it but didn't count it for some reason.  I'll have to look that up.  Anyway - living on a country road, I still need to decide if I want to run along the shoulder out there or just drive the 3 mi to town to run on sidewalks.  That seems ridiculous but there is pretty much no shoulder on our road, just a big ditch!  Road running sounds better right now, but we'll see when I actually do it.  Finally, a big goal I have never written down but always wanted to do - design a photo book for each year since I met Dave.  I'm talking about setting it up online and having it printed.  I can't stand the thought of sitting in front of a screen editing a year's worth of photos but I know my kids love the photo books Nana has made!!  It would be totally worth it, even if there were only 100 photos in the book.  (Dude, I take THOUSANDS of photos each year, granted, not all of them are keepers, but narrowing it down to 100 for each year would be tough!!)  Lots to do in 2018!!!  Can't wait to get started on all the good stuff!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

(Once again, we are not sending Christmas cards out in the traditional way - see the end of this post for more on that...We hope you enjoy this online version! If you regularly read my blog or see my Facebook posts, some of these stories will sound familiar...buckle up - it's a long one!)

A is for AL Amyloidosis - For those of you that don't know, my Dad was diagnosed w/this rare disease months ago.  He has undergone chemo, an autologous stem cell transplant (it just means they took his own cells out, treated them and put them back in, rather than those of someone else), and a few other medical procedures for his heart.  His heart was/is the organ most affected by the disease.  Currently Dad is in 'isolation' of sorts, since his immune system is like that of a newborn baby =)  Please continue to pray for his appetite to return, for his heart/physical well being and healing but also for a peace and joy to fill his soul.  It's been a tough year and 'hiding out' at home, away from family and friends is not easy.  We have missed having Dad at birthdays, concerts, and just random gatherings...We are hopeful for the New Year, that we can get back to 'normal' and celebrate special events together! 
B is for Basketball Hoop and Band - This year we were talking about getting a hoop for the kids, when my Uncle John mentioned that he had one in his basement.  He promised it wasn't pretty but it would get the job done!  Sure enough - we picked it up one day and got the supplies to set it in the ground.  The hoop has been up for a while and there were lots of days where you could find all of us out there shooting around!  In other news, Moses is in band class this year.  He is playing his Dad's saxophone!  Just like the piano, his talent and ear provide us w/much entertainment - it was so easy for him to pick up this instrument he has never played and play whatever he wants!  We've heard commercial jingles, songs from the various genres on the radio, and random stuff they are practicing at school.  I am constantly in awe of the fact that both him and his Dad have this gift/talent.  
C is for Chicks, Chicago and Camping - A high school classmate of mine put a plea on face.book for someone to take some baby chicks off the hands of a friend who hatched them in her classroom.  I happily drove to my hometown and collected a box full of babies!  They cheep cheeped all the way home in the passenger seat!  It was so much fun for the kids to see how they grew and how the cats were around them.  Always an adventure out here!  Another big adventure this year was camping in Chicago.  Yes, IN Chicago!  It is permissible to 'camp' in the parking lot of the convention center.  There are no amenities, unless you count proximity to all that the downtown area has to offer.  Which for us, was plenty!  We did lots of outdoor free stuff, so pretty much a ton of things!  It was BLAZING hot and sweaty...aka memorable.  No electricity means sweating while you sleep, especially since there are no shade trees in parking lots!  Despite that, we would do it again in a heartbeat.  We camped many other places with many other people but some of the best times were when our kids were with their Arnold cousins!  So many giggles and inventive games!  We are truly blessed to be able to have a strong bond between our families.
D is for Duck Creek Campground - This particular campground gets a specific mention in the Christmas letter for various reasons.  We first camped there with one of my besties and her family.  One of my other best friends came up and visited while we were there and it was awesome!  There is a pond/lake, where you can fish and/or swim.  One of the first times fishing, my lucky fisherwoman/daughter Colleen caught a fish bigger than her Daddy's foot!!  As for swimming, there are these huge inflatables that *I* even had fun on!  I laughed so hard trying to get onto that Jupiter ball....I am severely out of shape and bottom heavy, so my spindly arms could not haul myself up there!  After an assist from Dave, I finally managed to climb on!  I haven't laughed like that in a long time and I went to bed that night sore, tired but beyond happy.  It was such a good time that when we were planning a camping weekend with Dave's sister and her family in the area, we suggested it again.  I'm certain we will go back next year too!  The funniest thing was that this fall, Dave was in the closet and he put on a hat we had found while camping in IL last summer.  Would you believe me if I told you that it was from Duck Creek Campground?!  IT WAS!!!  We both laughed and commented on how it was the hat that sent us subliminal messages to go there all along.  
E is for a lot of things, but nothing that really applies in 2017.  So....we hope your state of ennui is ephemeral, and please do not exculpate us as we expatiate and elucidate the other exciting things from 2017!  Consider it an education as you explore a dictionary and encounter some E words from the SAT exam!
F is for FORTY - Both Dave and I turned 40 this year.  No, there was no big bash or anything, but throughout most of the year, Dave was willing to help me knock some things off my 'life list'.  Some of them are mentioned in this post!
G is for Garden and Gymnastics - Two things that are on our list every year!  This year Dave built a serious garden 'cage' to prevent critters from getting to my plants.  Like always, there were plenty of experiments going on - we learned that beans do REALLY well, especially when I double plant them!  Cabbages do well, too.  Some other things did not get into the ground early enough though, so that's a goal for next year.  As for gymnastics - there are 2 of our kids on the team this year!  Both Moses and Bert are on the team and have competed in 2 meets so far.  At the second one, Bert came home with a 1st place medal in almost every event!  His face light up so big when they called his name!!  It's been fun to watch them both grow, learn and enjoy the sport.
H is for Hollandfest - The town we live in is Dutch.  No, I mean they are VERY DUTCH.  They celebrate their heritage every other year.  One of the things I wanted to do this year was attend the festival where they wash the streets, dance and race in wooden shoes and serve ollie bollen.  It was fun to see people we knew from the community and the kids saw lots of their friends.
I is for the Ice Age Trail - One of the things Dave wanted to start was hiking the IAT in segments.  Obviously with small kids, work and WI weather, we are not able to hike huge segments at a time, but we did have some 11 mile days in there!  It's been fun traveling to other parts of the state and hiking in different weather too.  We've been to where it starts/ends in Door County and might do more of it over Christmas Break.
J is for Jesus - Christmas is a time to celebrate His birth...yet so often the season is JAM-PACKED with decorating, shopping, parties, kid's concerts, baking, wrapping, eating, etc...please know that the Lord sent His One and Only Son Jesus to the Earth in the form of a man so that He could live, suffer and die for our sins.  (John 14, specifically verse 16, but the whole chapter is good!)  Even when life drags me down, I have a joy in my heart because I have a personal relationship with Jesus.  The gift of eternal life is for everyone, not just me, and I pray that all who read this letter know that they are LOVED!  If you have questions about my faith or want to learn more, you know how to find me!
K is for Kayaking - Six people, four kayaks...it works!  Sometimes there are 3 little people in one kayak and sometimes there's a kid in with one of us grown-ups, but Mo is almost always on his own.  We've done some kayaking in rivers and lakes this year, mostly in Waupaca area and the river here, maybe once we got out into Lake Michigan.  I think next year we might investigate a better trailer...we thought about adding to our fleet, but so far the little people are not so great at paddling and steering, so they usually get towed.
is for Lineage - This year I really wanted to get all the cousins on my paternal side of the family together.  I see the cousins from my maternal side quite often, mostly because they live in close proximity.  You know how you always say "We should really get together!" but don't?  I hate that.  Call it part of my birthday present to myself, I was determined to pull the cousins together!  Not everyone was able to make it (hello?  Work, plane tickets are not cheap, etc...) but it was so good to be together with family!!  I chose to kick the weekend off with a visit to the cemetery where my grandparents and one set of great-grandparents are buried.  The legacy those people left, both in terms of people created, physical traits and character traits, is absolutely overwhelming.  I am so blessed and grateful that I was able to share some laughs and get lots of family hugs that weekend!!
M is for Middle School and Mom Moving - This year Moses started Middle School!!  Yeah, did you blink too?  It just seems not possible but it is.  He's doing online Spanish, band and STEM as his interest classes.  He is learning a lot about responsibility...let's just leave it at that.  For the most part though, it seems to be going well!  I think we could say the same for Dave's Mom - she moved last weekend!  It was a big move - almost all the way across the state, to the same town where Dave's sister lives.  Now when we visit, it will be a two-fer!  We'll get to see 2 factions of the family on the same trip!  We're excited to have family Christmas at her new house this year and the cousins will be together again, which will probably lead to another M word = mayhem!
N is for the Ninja Mud Run - This is an annual event in my hometown.  My parents love watching my brother's son and my own boys in this event!  We had great weather for it again this year and even bumped into some friends.  The boys are already looking forward to doing it again next year!
O is for Optometrist - This year Moses got glasses.  We had a lot of laughs trying on different frames and the ones he liked the best were a pair of prescription safety glasses!  There ya go, kid, you're all set to work in the factory...(no, I did not let him get those)...but it reminded me how little I know and/or care about fashion.  Like the 40 year old Mom that I am, I was looking at all these practical, functional frames while he was looking for flashy, trendy, sporty, what in the world is on your face kinds of frames!  Ah well, in the end we found a good compromise and the poor kid can see the clock and the scoreboard.
P is for Play, Packers and Pudgie Pies - In the beginning of the year, I had a very small part in another play.  It was so good to see 'my peeps' again!  I know I've said it before, but it means a lot to me that I am able to participate in things like that.  The next one is Packers - we drove up and took in a Packers practice this year!  Bert kept tracking Clay Matthews, giving me a play by play report of which end of the field he was on, while the other kids had fun yelling for AARON!!!!  Thankfully Aaron Rodgers was willing to wave and make faces at all his adoring fans =)  Afterwards, Mo got high fives from a bunch of players as they left the practice field and Ernie got an autograph!!  It was a big day.  Also, just recently Davon House was at our local grocery store so the kids got another autograph and photo op!  The next P is MY favorite one of all!  At some point, my cousin posted something about a Pudgie Pie cookbook and I had to have it.  I love making pies when we are camping and this cookbook had all kinds of recipes!  I'm not exactly a foodie, but I do like to eat...anyway - I promise that if you camp with us next year, we can make a bunch of these recipes!
Q is for Quotidian - You didn't think you were going to learn so much from a Christmas letter, did you?  The truth is, learning is a quotidian activity.  This year I attempted to slow down and focus on the quotidian tasks of providing security to the little people.  I learned a lot about their needs and tried my best to improve the quality of our quotidian lives.  (I think that's enough of that word now!)
R is for Rock Painting - Early in the year 2016 there was a viral news story around here about someone who painted rocks for kindness or something...well the kids started seeing them around and there's a facebook group for painted rocks in our community.  So we joined!  The kids like painting rocks, hiding them, and hunting for them!  We've found rocks on hikes, at grocery stores and therapy.  It's been interesting to see the artwork and hear about who found what rock.
S is for Summerfest and Sibling visits - It was the 50th year for Summerfest and as part of my 40th year celebration, I requested to go and see one of the bands I love from 'back in the day' (when I was less than half my current age).  Dave and the kids sat through some early 90s rock for me but we got to sample lots of other bands and styles of music!  We heard the Badger Band which is always a highlight!  Another highlight has been foster family visits.  Starting in October, we began meeting with Bert and Ernie's biological siblings and their foster families (they had been previously meeting as a bio family, including their mom, with no foster family members present).  It was a new experience for all of us, since it was the kids who had something in common and not the grownups!  We have shared some laughs and look forward to getting together again in the future.
T is for TPR and Timm's Hill - TPR stands for Termination of Parental Rights.  In fall the boys' bio parents rights were terminated which means they are legally free for adoption.  It also meant that visits with bio parents ended.  No adoption date has been set - there is an appeal process so we are waiting out that time line.  This was a huge step in the legal process though!  We feel like we are halfway up the mountain.  Speaking of high points, this year we climbed the tower at Timm's Hill, aka the highest point in WI.  I am that weird girl who plans trips to see odd landmarks.  I tried looking for the lowest point but since Lake Michigan levels are constantly changing, that data doesn't really exist.  Also, did you know that there are a large number of world city names for towns in WI?  Lima, Florence, Paris, Troy, Vienna...
U is for Unanimous - some events of the year have left uloid marks on our hearts, others reminded us that we don't live in a utopia...still we are unanimous when we say that we are blessed!
V is for Vegetate - we plan to do plenty of that this Christmas Break!  At one point this season, an ad came into the house with a family on the cover all decked out in matching jammies.  The kids kept saying, "Awww!" and commenting on how neat that was...personally, I think it's a little corny, but later that night I was researching the cost of 'family pajamas' (no, it's not one big pair of jammies that everyone crams into - that's what I think of when I hear that word!!) and wouldn't you know, I found some I could stand.  We passed out the jammies over Thanksgiving weekend and slept around the tree!  We have some fun family photos of everyone in the Christmas jammies and I have officially retired from snorting whenever I see a family all matchy-matchy.  My crew looks pretty cute and VERY happy in their matching pajamas!  WORTH IT!
W is for Wildlife - as always, we see a lot of wildlife in the yard and woods.  This year we even saw a buck!!  It never gets old.
X is for Hexagon - yeah, ok it doesn't start with x!  Neither does Six, but I'd like to use these to describe our family right now.  There are 6 people in our family and consequently 6 sides to every story.  This blog post, though, is pretty much one sided since I'm the only one writing it!
Y is for Youth Group - this year Moses is old enough and has begun attending youth group through church.  I have chosen to go along and it's such a joy to see how the kids are learning and growing.
Z is for Zip Line - This year Dave installed a zip line in the backyard.  He researched all the equipment, including what would hold 300 pounds so guys like him could ride it!  (No he's not 300 pounds, but better to over-estimate than under, right?)  We put a deer stand under it and attached both a swing and a bar from a playground set.  It's about 100' and a quick ride between 2 trees!  It's given us a lot more ideas for how to get around in our woods!

So now you know our ABCs and stuff, next time won't you make memories with us!  (Terrible rhyme, but you can't blame me for trying!)  Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  May you have many blessings and friends to share them with in the New Year!

We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)...here's a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read them...you do recycle them eventually, don't you??
3) Save printing costs. See reason #1!
4) Save stress. Nothing to print, sign, stuff, address...
5) Expand our options! Now you can see a practically limitless amount of photos.
6) Our greeting to you is saved in cyber-space for posterity! 
7) It went so well the past years...we heard a lot of positive responses, and even some people who said they'd try it themselves. Welcome to the dark (green) side! (Sorry that was a goofy Star Wars joke...)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Melandia

I read a post from an amazing site called the Mighty today.  I felt like jumping up and down, yelling YES after every line, waving it in everyone's face...it's SPOT ON, exactly how I feel right now...I will share the link at the end of my post, but I wanted to expand on it a little.  So many times as a foster/adopt parent, I hear the same comments from people.  I sometimes carry a chip on my shoulder (I know I shouldn't do that - I'm a work in progress!) and get grumpy.  I feel isolated and frustrated that the average person doesn't get me or what I"m going through, but then I remember that they might not really don't know!  Back before I became a foster/adopt parent, I had absolutely no clue.  So instead of being grumpy today, I choose to try and share.  If you are one of my 7 regular readers, none of this is news to you, but maybe it will help others along the way.
You say - "You look tired..." I say - Yep, it's been busy latley! What you should know but I don't say b/c I don't want to scare you off - (from the article) Adoption is the late night researching of attachment disorders, trauma, fetal alcohol syndrome and pouring your worries out in online support groups so you can have the strength to get up in the morning and try again. (I do get up. Every morning. Mind you, not quickly, and I drop the kids off in my jammie pants a lot, but I do get up. My strength is found in the Lord, my kids' faces, my hubby's warm embrace...I yell at the tv during football games, I eat too many snacks at night, and I go to bed too late. But I get up every morning.)
You say - "You're kids are so lucky!" I say - Nah, we're the lucky ones! What I should say but I don't b/c it will make me sound over-dramatic - (from the article) Losing their first family is not lucky; it’s unimaginable, heart wrenching loss that never, ever goes away. (I would like to add that GRIEF is a huge part of adoption and foster care, not in the way you would think. There is grief when a kid returns to the bio parents, of course, but the children themselves are grieving all kinds of losses. Some of us parents might be grieving the loss of our perfect plan too. Which, yes I know is ridiculous b/c God's plan is perfect and way better than mine, but again, there are days when I struggle w/this still. And grieving is not over-dramatic. Grief is real and it's both a burden and a gift at the same time. To miss someone, to be sad about something lost is healthy but oh so hard. I could talk a long time about this but it's not the focus of this post.)
You say - "You have free time, you're a SAHM, right?" I say - Actually I'm pretty busy. I spend a lot of time driving my kids to therapies and hello? Running a house of 6 people? Yep, busy. What I should say but don't b/c some people get really upset - (from the article) People talk about being upset their favorite show got cancelled while you are re-reading a 35 page neuropsychological evaluation through tear filled eyes. (Side note: I have my favorite shows too! This Is Us, anyone? But honestly, I do read lots of medical reports and journals and research and posts from others 'in the trenches'. And yes I cry. I am not a doctor. I do not understand trauma, medical jargon or even why the sky is blue. If a show gets canceled, I do my best to move on. If my kid is denied a therapy or a service that's helpful, LOOK OUT.)
You say - "We don't really hang out anymore...she doesn't seem very friendly..." I say - (silence) (I don't say a word to you, but I lament to my husband - If a friend can put up w/my hot mess, my lack of communication, my venting...then a friendship will happen. Otherwise, I guess I don't have too many friends, just a lot of shallow acquaintances. That's my life right now.) What I wish everyone knew but why bother them with it... - (from the article) They don’t see the late nights, the trauma behaviors, the crying every day over school, endless meetings, judgmental teachers and never ending therapies. (I really don't have a lot of friends. Every single one of my best friends lives almost an hour away to multiple states away. I've tried to make friends here, I have, but who wants a friend who is tired, busy, tangled up in a hard place w/her kids and sometimes carries a chip on her shoulder? Also, it's really hard to be there for a friend w/their own needs when your energy is spent on your family's needs. I feel like I have nothing to offer anyone! 99% of the time I'm ok w/this. Please understand, though, it's hard for me. Hard to be a friend. Hard to make friends. But I do miss friends! This is the duplicity of my life right now.)
You say - "Let me know if you need anything!" I say - We're good! What rattles around in my brain but rarely gets admitted to anyone - Admitting that some days it’s just too much would be admitting you’re feeling like a failure — wouldn’t it? (It's so hard to ask for help. I believe I am the best person for this job/parenting...and yet...I over-analyze, second guess myself and fret fret fret way too much! I have asked for help on occasion and I am promptly amazed to the moon and back how much the people around us are willing to help. We couldn't do what we do w/o some good people around us.)
I really wanted to cut-n-paste the whole article!! I think it has a big impact for me right now b/c we're in the midst of it. There's a lot people don't see behind the scenes when you parent children from hard places. One of my biggest pieces of advice for people lately has been to get to know someone different from you. This applies to a lot of situations. Of course, don't put yourself in harm's way, don't go about it alone - have someone to with whom to process what you are learning, and don't do it if you can't be respectful. But seriously, we will all benefit from a greater understanding of those who are different than us. There have been a few times in life where I have done that and I'm still doing that. I don't regret one minute of getting to know someone different than me. I see the world and the others around me in a new way each time I add to those experiences. I encourage you to read this article, to gain a greater understanding of what people around you may be going through. I also hope it helps you understand me and my crazy good life a little too! (No commas, that's not a grammatical error Auntie! It's not crazy and good, well, it is but here I meant to say that it's crazy good. B/c it is.)

https://themighty.com/2017/11/what-adoption-is-when-you-parent-kids-from-hard-places/

PS - "The Mighty is a digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities."  That's how they define their site.  I think everyone can find something that makes them feel like I did after reading this article.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A beautiful mess

Wow - it's been too long!  My head has been filled w/useful and useless knowledge lately.  Guess which one is winning the war for my brain cells?  Let's dive right in, shall we?

TPR was granted the other day.  (For those that are not in the adoption/foster care world, TPR stands for Termination of Parental Rights.  Which means the kids are free and clear to be adopted!  Unless a bio parent appeals.  In which case it could be 1-2 years before an adoption date is given.  Not that I would know anything about that...)  It was sort of an unceremonious day.  I walked around for a few days feeling downright heavy that someone's loss will eventually be our gain.  The gravity of this situation is not lost on me.  I have said it before and I will say it again - this world is a broken place and we are not living the lives we were intended to live.  Yes, I am ecstatic about being a step closer to adoption, but oh man - there were a lot of waves of emotion about infertility, 'stealing' other people's kids (yes, people say things like this out loud) and the way God grafts things like trees (read about it here!  Science!  It's cool!) and people in families much the same way.  You guys, when waves rock the boat, I drop the anchor.  I really don't go anywhere (ok that's a lie, I go tons of places, taking my kids to a million appointments and activities...I put about 500 miles on my truck each week, but I don't go anywhere where I talk/really talk to people).  I function in a manner that is one foot in front of the other.  But I survived this round (take that!) and I have more tales to tell!

The boys had their first gymnastics meet!!  Super fun seeing how Moses has progressed and improved!  I was also proud of Bert - out of all the new kids, he was the only one who did not need reminders of what skills or what order they were in for each event.  He just went out there and did his routine, did the events, no reminders and minimal help from coach.  To be honest, I was a little surprised!  Still learning not to sell the little people in my house short.  They are fully capable of big things, just different things than other kids.  The next meet is this weekend and then there's a break until January, I think.  That's when the 'big' ones in Milwaukee start.  My butt is already bleacher shaped so I've got that going for me!!

I entered my 5th decade...no I'm not 50, sheesh, how tired do I look?!  Do the math - 0-10 is your first decade...I'll wait...yep, the 5th decade!  If you hear Aquarius in your head right now, you and I could be besties!  Again, the day was pretty unceremonious, which is how I like it.  I went out to lunch w/my parents which is the best!  They were there on my first day in this world so it's pretty special to be able to share another day w/them all these years later.

The start of this school year has had a few bumps.  Ernie is doing great - I think all the issues we had at the end of the year are ironed out!!  The school district this year decided to do a 'push in' model...for my kids who have educational needs, that means they are now primarily in a mainstream classroom setting, not the small group setting they were accustomed to in the past.  This has caused great upheaval for Bert!!!  Colleen seems to be hanging in there...she has such a great attitude and is always smiling!  For my guy Bert, though, this is like another blow to an already nerve wracked life.  Pray for him.  Little dude is not adjusting well.  As anyone who has parented a child who endured trauma knows, this kind of traumatic experience sends a kid right back into survival mode.  It stinks for the whole family.  It's sort of like starting over from scratch.  In these first couple of weeks of school, I found myself saying "I don't wanna adult today" many many times!  It's quite the job, parenting is....I love these little people w/every fiber of my being and I will skip all the chores in the world to be there for them.  Dust bunnies?  Nope we have a dust farm.  Sink filled w/dirty dishes?  Yep I saw that, just over here rocking my kid.  My kid who is gangly and long and makes me wonder what the weight limit is on this rocking chair...?  I cried when my aunt and uncle brought us this rocking chair...side note - sometimes a shower present is more than just a shower present.  Sometimes it represents so much more!  AND - sometimes that rocking chair takes on new meaning over time and you wind up rocking in a way or w/a person you never could have imagined back when you first considered rocking in it.  Back in the day my grandparents had this double glider thing...I think I need one of those.  I have tried looking them up online but no success.  I'm pretty sure they don't make them anymore!!  Sad face.  I remember many nights visiting my grandparents and 'gliding' on that thing.  I even scoured used sites!  Anyway - let me know if you see one.  I think I could really 'rock out' w/my big kids on one of those!  (This pic is different than the style my grandparents had, but the closest thing I could find!)

We have new chickens!!!  I think since last time I wrote, we have gotten 2 new batches of chickens...So there are quite a few of them now!  It's sort of humorous - the new ones are really friendly and follow me even more than the other/older ones.  Today a guy came to pump out the septic and left the lid ajar.  He worried they would fall in!  I promised him they were bird brains, but not that dumb!  And if it turns out that one of them is, I sure am not going in after it!  We had a good laugh!!

What else...?  Garden did well...I always sort of give up on it at the end.  I think peak harvest season coincides w/allergy season (imagine that) and I sort of avoid going outside much then.  But I did get a ton of green beans!  I didn't dig the carrots yet - should I do that now?  We've eaten 2 of the 8 cabbage.  The pumpkins and squash are still dark green...I think I got them in too late.  We'll see.  Basil needs to be picked and processed.  Maybe this weekend?  I already pulled out dead stuff like the peas and random brown greens.  Overall I am ecstatic that the garden cage worked!  Every year is a learning curve for the next, but now that I'm set up, next year should be smoother.

I've been going to youth group w/Moses and just yesterday jumped into bible study again.  I missed that!  We'll see how it works to shove extra stuff into my busy days but can I just say how weird it felt to be kidless and talking to other adults for an hour??  Scratch that - not weird - AMAZING!!!  I am so scatterbrained and all over the map most days, not really tending to my own soul, so this is good for me.

Well I've got a few more posts started in my head...hope to write more soon!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mom's agenda for back to school

I'm making a to-do list.  There are so many things I have been saying. "I'll do it when the kids go back to school" that I know I'll never remember them!  By posting a list here, I hope to refer to it and accomplish it.  The goal is to make an edited post w/them all crossed off soon!  At some point I should sort the agenda items by priority but today it's stream of consciousness typing.

1) Take a nap.
2) Get a massage.
3) Roundup the buckthorn.  (No not like a rodeo - roundup like spray the chemicals to kill the invasive species!)
4) Clean the fridge.
5) Go through mittens/hats/snowpants/boots etc.
6) Print and hang more photos (I have been doing better at this!).
7) Tour the community fitness center and see if that's better than driving to the Y.
8) Downstairs bathroom closet organized.  Ugh.  Not looking forward to it.
9) Organize desk area.  Which would hopefully lead to a bookshelf over there...
10) Go thru school papers and files from last year.  Yep, still didn't finish that!
11) Go thru med files.  I'm keeping way too many papers now that a lot is online.
12) Follow up on our girl's medical file from before adoption.  Still have no access to that.  When another future surgery is being discussed, it becomes clear that it would be good to learn about what happened in the first one.  No cause for alarm, just frustrating that we can't get the files.
13) Furniture re-do in Moses' room.  Looking for a loft/desk combo.
14) Prep a bunch of meat in the instant pot.  Freeze.
15) Clean downstairs bathroom shower/tub and tile.  Or knock it out and put in a new one, which would probably be easier.
16) Put a front on the composters and use the pitchfork to turn it over.
17) Clean out the garden.
18) Pick up in our bedroom.  I'm terrible for tossing stuff on the floor in a hurry and regretting it later.
19) Find a hutch for the dining area.  Or something like it.
20) I should just put all the closets on here.  There's stuff crammed in every one!

I'm sure there's more, but that's a pretty good start!!