Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh Glorious Day

Oh Glorious Day!

Or maybe not so much.

My allergies are acting up. My eyes itch and hurt from dryness. I keep sneezing. Fun stuff.

We had indoor recess. Again. The outdoors are there for a reason. Sanity. Children need to be outside every day. Every single one.

The weather. Oh the weather. Today we experienced a wide range of weather. We woke up to sunlight (which was a pleasant treat). Some time mid morning, the clouds moved in. Rain, lots of rain. Oh, and a little snow mixed in. Then at some point we had hail. And when we came home, it was sleeting cute little balls of ice. And did I mention how cold it was today?

I had wailing and gnashing of teeth tonight when a child had to scrub the floor (after using dry erase marker on a board on the floor and missing the board several times. By the way, dry erase marker doesn't seem to come out.). I think the word "mean" was used several times...from their mouth, not mine.

I am getting killed in several Words with Friends games. I feel dumb. And the thing is, sometimes I am. But sometimes when you get vowels every single round, there is only so much you can do.

I found out a friend was moving. I don't like people to move away.

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day...have you ever been in an elementary school on April Fool's Day? Oh, fun, lots of fun. No, not really.

Next week is standardized testing. I could write pages on this but won't. Just know it puts a big dark cloud over my head for a couple of weeks...

I didn't exercise tonight which I needed to do. But I am tired.

I am trying to clean up this house. I can't do it. Every time I turn around, another child has made a mess and seems oblivious TO the mess.

But about dinnertime, the kids noticed. The sun was shining. No more sleet, now more hail. Sunshine.

So I had to peek of course. I have a thing for sunsets. And I was not disappointed.

Isn't that just like God?

Things don't go the way we want them to. There are storms in our lives. Some days it feels like we are getting pelted by troubles.

Yet in the end, He is there. He always was. We may not always see Him, but He is there.

Oh Glorious Day!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Gardening RADishes

If you are involved in the adoption world at all, you probably have heard of RAD. If not, let me give you a very brief introduction. RAD stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder. Basically, it a condition or a situation in which a child has difficulty attaching to a caregiver. This can be caused by different things such as failure to establish a relationship with one caregiver as a baby (such as an orphanage situation), traumatic events in a young child's life, or prolonged hospital stays. Obviously, dealing with RAD can be a difficult situation for any parent.

In researching, the MAYO Clinic defines RAD as a serious and RARE condition.

And that is probably true for a "true" diagnosis of RAD.

But if you are in the adoption world, you use this term a bit more loosely.

One of my favorite adoption blogs to read is Wendy's blog. She has dealt with RAD issues with both a biological child and two of her adopted children. She is FULL of RAD advice and just good practical parenting suggestions. One of my favorite things she said (and maybe the most freeing to me) was that RAD doesn't have to be just that child who is totally shut off from the world. It can be in various degrees. She calls it "RADish".

So whether Mayo would define it as RAD or not, I just know that adoption does come with its own set of challenges. And attachment is a big one, especially for the older child coming home.

The funny thing is that attachment issues with my two adoptees shows itself in two different ways. One child has tended to be more detached. We are slowly building up that trust and breaking down the walls that have been built around the heart. The other one is overly attached, as in always within arms length. Well, almost always. And both bring about their own set of challenges.

I still don't have all of the answers. I know that every day it seems like we are a step closer to a more normal attachment. But it is like a roller coaster ride.

All this is coming about because my friend Debbie (who has also adopted a couple of precious girls) recently posted a link on her blog about RAD. It was written by a grandmother.

Click here.

I will say, we are fortunate. Our family is supportive of us, though I know they may not always understand why we are doing what we are doing. Heck, I am not totally sure I understand. We are learning this together.

I do know that parenting children with attachment issues (whether it is truly RAD or not) is a little different than parenting children without. And it is probably easy to judge a parent dealing with such issues based on the behavior of their children.

But judgment is not what that mom needs. She needs prayer. She needs understanding. She needs a helping hand. She needs someone to celebrate the small victories rather than having someone point out the big defeats. She needs someone to say, "Hey, you are getting there. I DO see a difference."

If you have never gardened "RADishes", you are fortunate. However, if you have, no matter what degree, know that you aren't alone. There are more of us out in the garden with you, sowing the seeds of love and attachment and pulling the weeds of frustration, anger, and despair.

Hopefully with enough sunshine (love), water (tears), and soil (the down and dirty, getting in the trenches of parenthood), we will soon have a garden full of...not RADishes but radiant flowers growing with deep roots of love and attachment.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Building the Blocks

A virtual friend of mine (we met through adoption stories) mentioned a family tonight on Facebook.

This family has nine children. Yes, nine. Four are "homegrown". Two are adopted from Guatemala. Two are adopted through the foster program. And one is from Ethiopia.

When I saw this, I had to check out this mom.

All I can say is wow.

I don't know Amy personally but I can't help but be in awe of her.

Nine kids.


Four kids keep me on my toes. I am pretty sure nine would have my head spinning.

Yet I looked at her website and saw a lady with a sense of humor, a deep faith, and a love for children.

I want to go sit at her feet and listen to her teach me!

Even if she is in Texas.

However, she is not staying in Texas.

Amy and Todd have heard a call from God. A charge to take care of the orphans in the world.

So they (and seven of their children I believe) are heading to Guatemala to serve in an orphanage there.

Wow again.

I loved visiting Guatemala. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people.

But the thought of leaving family and friends to live

I haven't decided how I can help yet. Definitely praying, maybe supporting (at least on occasion).

But I will definitely be reading about the adventures.

Maybe you would like to join me?

Building the Blocks

PS I would encourage you to watch their video. Just have some Kleenex ready.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Mom's Want Ad

I have been thinking about what kinds of things might be included in a want ad for a mom. Here are just a few, though you know that the list could go on and on and on and on...feel free to add in a few here and there (in the comments section).

Wanted: One Mother
Pay: Hugs and Kisses and a very rare "thank you"
Hours: 24/7 all year long. No holidays. No vacations.

The mother must be able to...
  • act excited when being fed yet another pretend "cookie" and drinking a pretend milk from a tiny little plastic cup
  • simultaneously brush their own teeth while brushing the hair of their daughter
  • get knots of any size or complexity out of shoestrings
  • endure the stomping feet and the rolling eyes that will appear when homework, chores, or punishments are mentioned
  • predict the weather for the day as your children are getting dressed each morning
  • pretend to race their children to their room yet make sure not to win...
  • laugh at jokes that really have no punch lines
  • give up the last brownie to the child who is giving his/her puppy dog eyes
  • listen to three conversations in the car at the same time
  • read the same book over and over and over again
  • make up songs to fit any mundane chore (such as the Brushing Teeth song)
  • create a menu that is healthy, not too pricey, and pleasing to all in the household
  • pray daily for and with their child(ren)
  • strong enough to leave a basketball game with a child who is in the midst of a temper tantrum even when it feels like everyone's eyes are on both of you
  • eat cold meals by the time you finish dishing out everyone else's meals, get another napkin, refill cups of milk, wipe up a spill, etc
  • check over one child's homework while calling out spelling words for another
  • remember that each child is in charge of their OWN choices and that bad choices don't automatically condemn them as a bad mom (working on this one at our house)
  • play a game of Memory when you really just want to sink into a chair and play a few rounds of Words with Friends
  • deny your child the cell phone, t.v., Facebook, etc that "everyone else has" just because you love them
  • do just "one more thing" before going to bed no matter how exhausted you are to start all over the next time...
  • mediate arguments between two children even though your head is throbbing
  • dole out consequences for misbehavior but then remember what consequences were doled out
  • answer questions about just about everything, from the simple (what does ham come from?) to the complex ("Why do people have to die?")
  • be in two places at one time on days that multiple children have multiple activities going on
  • start your Saturday with cartoons and children in your bed
  • read your newspaper as you field a thousand morning questions
  • remember the tiniest details of your children's early lives for those days they want to reminisce...
  • act enthusiastic about algebra even if the sight of the equations makes you physically ill
  • let children fight their own battles sometimes even though your hands are clenched the whole time
  • love your child even as he/she screams how mean you are
  • laugh at is the only way to survive
  • give up a part of your heart for each child
  • question each and every decision you make regarding your children in hopes of doing it right
  • give up some personal dreams, some trips, some social life to be home and be a mom
  • stop and remember nights like this, nights when you wish the world would stop and you could just wallow in the happiness and joy being a mother can bring...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Testimony

The other day in church, someone asked the challenging question, "When is the last time you shared your testimony?"

I kind of chuckled to myself and thought, "Each and every day."

That is true in a way. As a mom, I feel like my mission field is at home. I have four people in this house listening to me, so I share my faith daily (I hope).

But if I am pressed, I know that I am probably not as "out there" with my faith as I could be.

I always feel like I am walking a thin line. I don't ever want to push people away by being in their face about God. Yet, I never want to deny him or seem ashamed. I am not. I always hope that my faith comes through even when I don't broadcast it.

So I was thinking about all of this throughout church and thought, "I could just share my testimony through a blog post."

The thing is, I don't have the most exciting testimony. I wasn't a drug addict who suddenly found God. I wasn't on the brink of death when I realized something was missing in my heart.

I don't even remember the exact moment I "prayed the prayer".

I do remember my baptism though.

I grew up in a Christian household. I remember going to church as a youngster. When I was about six, we moved to NWARkansas, and I attended a small church here. I still smile when I pass it.

It was around that time I really started learning about God. I don't remember the exact day. My mom says she remembers it. I do know that I believed in Him. I trusted Him. And I wanted Him in my heart.

So I asked Him.

I was baptized shortly afterward. I do want to say I don't believe in any way the baptism saved me. It was just my way of showing the world, or at least the people in my church, that I believed.

As I grew, I was fairly faithful in attending church and usually was involved in church activities. I also sought God in my own life, through prayer and through Bible Study. I sometimes find journal entries from my much younger years...I really do believe I had a relationship with God even as a kid. Sometimes I even think it was more mature then than it is now.

It wasn't until I was in college (and after) that I began to understand the meaning of grace. Before then, I still think I was relying on my good works to get me to heaven. Or at least to gain His acceptance. But as I grew and made mistakes...even as a believer...I realized how very much of a gift grace is. (Grace: Getting something we don't deserve, such as eternal life)

I have had periods of walking right next to God and others where I walked my own way (then usually found myself lost and calling out, "God, where are you?" Sometimes in my life, I am deep in the word and in prayer, others I am just going through the motions of life. I will say that I feel like I have learned more about Him, especially as my Father, through having children.

I have also struggled at times in my life about my salvation. What if I didn't pray the right prayer? Say the right words? Think the right thing?

I don't always get the answers.

I do know that I love my God.

He is a loving God. A perfect God. A just God. He is the way (the ONLY way), the truth, the life. And He loves me for who I am in spite of who I am. He forgives me for the many times a day I fail and sees me as His child. He is building a place for me in heaven, a place I long to be some days when the pains and trials of life feel too strong, too heavy, on my soul.

I can do NOTHING to earn His love. All I have to do is accept it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Because I love Him, I want to please Him. That is where the good works come in. I don't do them to earn my spot in heaven. I do those things (though not nearly enough) to glorify Him. So maybe others will look at me and see Him through me.

I know that God is bigger than me. He sees things (like the future) I don't see. It is easy to want to rush to Him in times of despair and call out, "Why, God, why?" But I can't always know. I am human and only see with human eyes. Sometimes it is just the way it is. I have to trust that He has a plan.

Going along with that, I have to let God be who He is. He is the creator. The author of life. The judge.

It is not my place to judge. That is for God and God alone.

It is my place to love others, to share Him with them, to pray for others.

One of the things I appreciate about our pastor is that he does not place emphasis on one prayer. He actually focuses more on the relationship. It is easy to utter those words in a prayer. But it is actually the fruit in our life that will reveal whether we truly have that relationship with Him.

I still have a long way to go, thirty plus years later. I am not who I want to be and not who Jesus commands me to be. I am a work in progress.

Thankfully, He seems to still love me.

Even now, in the ebbs and flow of our relationship, I cannot imagine my life without Him.

He guides my decisions. He is the one I lean on when I feel weak (seems to happen a lot more now that I am a parent). He is my Counselor. He is my Father (even though He gave me a wonderful human father here on earth).

And now my hope and prayer is that my children will see this in my life, and in the life of their daddy, and that they will desire the same thing. That is our prayer. Every day.

Like I said, not the most exciting testimony. But it is my story. And hopefully it will be until my last breath.

I don't write like this on here often, and won't much unless I feel led to, but I just wanted to share a little bit about what I believe. (Leaves you feeling very vulnerable :)


Saturday, March 5, 2011

They Grow SOOO Fast...

I remember how many people told us this when Hunter was first born. It was hard to believe, since he was a tiny little guy. In fact, I remember feeling a bit irritated every time I heard it. Ahhh, the joys of hormones and sleeplessness...

Now, what is it I want to tell new parents? The same thing. And I say it, knowing they are probably rolling their eyes at me. You just don't know until you have been there.

I look at that "tiny baby" who is now a pre-teen. I am beginning to see teen behaviors...the rolling of the eyes, the sharp tones indicating that I know absolutely nothing in his eyes. (Not to make him sound like a nightmare...he is a pretty delightful kid most of the time) He has a very fun sense of humor. And he reads books like "Phantom of the Opera." No more Dr. Seuss here.

I see that nine year old girl with her very unique sense of style. She makes us dessert on a regular basis (loves making brownies). She loves playing basketball and blows me away with her dribbling skills. I think in another few years (if not sooner) she will be looking at me in the eyes.

I watch that six year old girl who can read me books now instead of me reading to her. She empties the dishwasher like a pro and can sort her own dirty clothes. She is always ready for a good hike and loves her time at the beach as much as I do.

And then there is that three year old who is just a month away from turning four. He still requires a lot of help but even now I see that life is changing for him too. He gets dressed without much help (other than those tricky shoes) and washes his own face in the morning. I will suddenly hear music playing over the monitor...he loves to randomly turn on his CDs and sing with them. He tickles us at dinner with his stories about his day or his made up stories about the alligators under his bed.

Where did that time go? Wasn't it just yesterday we were holding our firstborn in our arms, watching his every move? Or dressing our daughter up in frilly little pink dresses and tiny little hairbows? (Now when is the last time I have "fixed" her hair???) Or carried child 3 around in a hip carrier, her little thumb stuck in her mouth the whole time? Or rocked our youngest, holding the bottle, watching him drink his formula to his heart's content?

What happened?

I find myself wanting to stop time sometimes.

It isn't that I don't look forward to new stages. Our oldest is a neat kid...I look forward to seeing what he is like in four years. And I will admit there are times I really wish our youngest would be a little more self-sufficient.

But I know the times we have known are passing away. And likely, unless God gives us a BIG sign, will be not be back. We are passing on the clothes that our children have outgrown. We are about to get rid of the high chair and hopefully switch out the bedroom furniture for some of the kids. The girls have a more "grown up" bedding theme now...bright polka dots and stripes rather than flowers and butterflies.

I find myself pausing sometimes, wondering where the time has gone.

When I watch child 2 run up to the gym for her basketball practice, I swear I still see that little girl that toddled around our yard, trying not to touch the grass.

When I hear child 1 "announcing" football games for us, I hear the little toddler voice that sang the Arkansas Fight Song and call the Hogs.

As child 3 reads stories to me, I wonder when it was that I stopped reading stories to her (thankfully she still lets me on occasion) every night.

And child 4? I find myself sometimes just hugging him a little tighter, a little longer...if he will let me.

I know.

Enjoy the moments know.

They will be gone before I know it.

More later,

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Legacy of an Adopted Child

I promise, I don't typically copy and paste things on the blog. Usually it is my own original crazy thoughts. But both the Invisible Mom and Legacy of an Adopted Child touched my heart this week.

A friend, an adoptee herself, posted this on Facebook and i just had to share it. It says so much of what I hope my children will hold true in their hearts one day...

Legacy of An Adopted Child

Author Unknown

Once there were two women,

Who barely knew each other.

One is in your heart forever,

The other you’ll call mother.

Two different lives,

Shaped to make yours one.

One became your guiding star,

The other became your sun.

The first gave you life,

And the second taught you how to live it.

The first gave you a need for love,

And the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality,

The other gave you a name.

One gave you the seed of talent,

The other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotions,

The other calmed your fears.

One saw your first sweet smile,

The other dried your tears.

One gave you a family,

It was what God intended for her to do.

The other prayed for a child,

And God led her straight to you.

And now you ask me

Through your tears,

The age old question through the years.

Heredity or environment…

Which are you a product of?

Neither, my darling… neither,

Just two different kinds of love.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Little Nuggets of Wisdom

This year I have a big birthday coming up.

What did you say?

Why, of course it is the big 3-0. Wink, wink. :)

Anyway, I was talking to a co-worker/friend who is having the same birthday as me, just a little bit earlier. Anyway, we were both saying we really thought we would feel wiser by now. I remember looking at my mom at this age (and even younger) thinking she was (and is) the wisest woman I know. So here I am, wondering where all this wisdom is. Deep down, I still feel like the same insecure little teenager I once was. Just in an aging body.

But maybe, just maybe, as I reflect, I have learned a thing or two along the way.

Here are a few Nuggets of wisdom. Feel free to share your own via the comments.

  • The times I am needed the most by my children: When I am in the bathroom and when I am in the shower. Why?
  • Sometimes "Because I said so" is just the perfect answer.
  • I need to learn to appreciate my kids for who they are rather than feel disappointed in who they aren't.
  • No matter how much you love them, there will always be a hole in the heart of the adopted child for their birthmother. Some feel it more than others but it is always there.
  • Yes, you can love a child who is not biologically yours just like they are biologically yours.
  • The Roomba was an excellent addition to our household.
  • If we aren't using it, we need it to go away. We have a standing bag for Goodwill next to our door. I fill it as I find things.
  • Chores are good for kids. I wish we had started even earlier, but better late than never. The kids can empty the dishwasher, refill it, sort their clothes, put away their clothes, take out the recycle, clean off the bathroom counter, and help set the table.
  • Along with the benefits of chores comes the responsibility and time needed to teach.
  • Homework time goes much smoother if there has been a little downtime after school (like time outside to play).
  • The best conversations and information comes on the drives home after school...I learn a lot that way.
  • My kids think their bedtimes are a drag...nobody has to go to bed as "early" as they do. How did I get this little bit of wisdom? They tell me daily.
  • I need to get my exercise in before I chill out behind the computer at night. Once that happens, I am toast.
  • Our love (as in marriage love) has grown over the years (at least for me it has, can't speak for him :) though we show it in totally different ways these days.
  • You just have to live the life you are in right now. A romantic getaway for a week would be divine but (besides the financial constraints) the practicality of having someone watch four kids for a week is not very likely. So instead we have late night dinner dates (at home with take out) or cook a meal together. Not the same but it works for us at this point in life.
  • No matter how old I get, I will never lose that mothering instinct and the desire to hold a newborn. Even if I had 20 kids, I still would want a newborn in my arms. Instead, I need to wait for grandchildren in the far off distance...
  • Just be patient, this too shall pass. And something as equally as "un-fun" will likely take its place...
  • Always have extra laundry detergent, milk, and bread on hand. They will not go to waste.
  • Check backpacks as soon as they come home. Sign it and send it back or it may get buried on your counter.
  • Every child is different. They all respond in different ways to parenting techniques. You just have to try and see what works.
  • Tastes food, in clothes, in furniture.
  • You can teach your children all of the right things to do, but in the end, they make their own decisions. I can't necessarily take the blame for the choices THEY make any more than I can take the credit for the choices they make.
  • Sometimes moms need more than six hours of sleep.
  • I could think of a lot more of these but I need that more than six hours of sleep...
Better go. :)

More later,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

And It Dropped...

I almost wrote a post the other night about how I was waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop.

The past few weeks had been pretty good. I had gotten to go hiking on the weekend. I have gotten a lot done (starting other blogs, organizing my classroom, keeping up with laundry, etc). We changed our home phone service. I am enjoying my i-phone. And for the most part, the kids had been pretty delightful.

It was almost too good to be true.


But in the back of my mind, I was waiting.

Waiting for that other shoe to drop.

You know, that little bit of a cloud hanging over your want to ignore it and the rain it will bring but you can't.

I really wanted to freeze time this past weekend. The way my heart was overflowing with contentment on Saturday after a beautiful hike around a lake on a warm day with my family...I wanted that to last.

And it did for a day or two. Or three.

Then today happened.

I won't go into details about today to protect the innocent, or rather the guilty.

I will just say it was not a stellar day for our household.

The other shoe dropped.


Today was a day I wanted to be an invisible mom.

More later,