Monday, July 30, 2012

Lots of Learning

I love this picture of Ben from his week at Jr. High camp.  This was after he played the mud pit activity - he looks so outraged!

All my boys are back now.  Will had Sr. High camp last week and said it was his best week of camp ever.  Now he's attending Football Camp, which is actually different from previous years.  Rather than literally camping out at the school, he just attends from 5:30 - 8:30 every night this week.  Then next week starts actual football practice.  His last year...sniff...

I am glad to have all my chicks in the nest again, though.  I took Will in for his sports physical this morning.  He's 6'1" now and 170 lbs.  Paul is 6 foot and weighs 200.

Guess what I've been learning a lot about?  It's called Reactive Attachment Disorder.  The child with an attachment disorder lives for power - for protection.  Because he survived whatever neglect and abuse was meted out before his removal he views everything in life as a battle.  It is imperative that he "win" every encounter.  He's also all about protecting his heart.  If he's been moved around (and by virtue of being a foster child, he has) he has quickly learned that there is no such as thing as permanence.  If he builds a barrier between himself and whoever his caregiver is, then it won't be so hurtful when he is moved again.  Sometimes, these children can be reached, but sometimes the damage is so great that the new parents spend the rest of their lives trying to heal the hurt within their child and are unsuccessful.  I'm reading a recommended book entitled, "Parenting the Hurt Child."  I'm learning a lot.  You should ask me sometime why I'm reading this.  I bet you can guess.  We may have taken on a battle we can never win.  But I'm going to do my best - which is all God is asking of me.

It sounds like Paul is definitely going to be a big brother again.  His dad called last night and said they found out that they can definitely adopt their great-grandkids, who would be Paul's great niece and nephew.  Now, technically and legally, they will be his siblings.    I've got some mixed feelings about that whole situation.  But then I suppose mixed feelings are always going to be part of the bag when you're dealing with an unnatural situation created by sin.

I have been really sick for quite awhile, but am starting to feel better finally.  I got what I thought was a cold two weeks ago.  It was horrible and I just couldn't get better.  I finally went to Urgent Care a week ago (I always forget how incompetent they are at Urg. Care until I go again - imbeciles) thinking I had a sinus infection.  After I waited for an hour to be seen they told me I just had a simple cold and there was nothing they could do for me.  Grrr....I was gradually getting better, but I had just never had something hang on like this.  Last Thurs. we went to Jefferson to see Dr. Miller.  Our primary reason for seeing him is for allergy treatment.  But I mentioned to him that my immune system seems to be shot lately, which baffles me because I am normally so healthy, thanks to all the Vit D I ingest  He did some testing on me and said, "You are really sick!"  No kidding.  He said I have been sick for months, which doesn't surprise me.  I have gotten one thing after another since last Feb.  And, he said that he strongly suspected it was an e-coli infection.  Eww!  But he said he fixed me.  And honestly, I am feeling tons better now.

I bought a Kindle today.  A year ago at this time I would have laughed at the idea and claimed that nothing could replace the feel of paper in the hands.  But, I've been slowly persuaded of the value in recent months.  I just bought the basic edition.  It's all I wanted.  I didn't need all the fancy features of the $200 Fire version.  I already had a $25 gift card to Best Buy from a previous promotion a few weeks ago when I bought some virus protection so with tax and everything, I paid under $60 for my kindle.  And then I ordered a lighted case for it off Amazon this afternoon for $15.  So we'll see how I like it.  I think I will like it - a lot!

Here is a link to an article I wrote a few weeks ago for Jewels:  This one surprised me.  I wasn't all that excited by it when I wrote it.  I wrote it in a hurry because I was already 2 days past my deadline.  I didn't really like how it came together.  In fact, I didn't even have plans to put a link to it on Facebook because I just didn't care for it.  I checked the link at 7:30 the morning it posted just to make sure it posted correctly.  To my surprise, I already had 3 comments on it!  So, I figured it must be better than I had thought it was!  I put the link up on FB and 2 of my friends ended up sharing the link on their page.  People seemed to really like this article, for some reason!  I wrote about true love and plastic surgery.  I figured somewhere along the way I would make someone mad because I didn't even include a line in the article about how I didn't have a problem with plastic surgery, per se, that it was an individual decision, and so on.  I thought about putting something like that in but there just was not a good spot for it.  But nobody said anything, so I guess I didn't offend!

The girls' case worker is coming over for her first visit this Wednesday, I found out today.  I have a feeling that a compulsive urge to clean is about to hit.  It had better, anyway, for my sake!

August happens this week.  I think August officially means that summer is over, although Ben doesn't go back until the 22nd and I don't plan to start school with the other boys until after then.  But I have so much to do between now and then to get ready for everyone's schooling.  I'm actually a little concerned about how I'm going to get it all done.  It will get done, but I'm just not sure how! 

We are headed out west this weekend.  Kathy and I are getting together.  I have a feeling I am going to appreciate this visit more than any other one I've ever had before!  Paul is going to try to get the AC in his mom's van working for her.  Next week we are going to Adventureland one day.  We have been wanting to get out to Living History Farms in August, too, but I don't know when we can make that work.   I know Paul is talking about starting to dig out the basement at the end of the month, too.  I'm dreading that - looking forward to more room, but dreading the mess again!

One day at a time...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Joy in the Valley

I'm ba-a-ack!  Well, kind of.  I used to be so good at blogging but this last month - oh, boy...

We are nearly done with week 3 of having  our new additions.  I think we're settling in.  There have been some definite behavior issues to address, but it's been good because it has forced me to evaluate my own parenting and re-think some things.  Overall, I'd say things are great and  bonding is happening.  I'm tired, but I think that's to be expected.  Last week I was definitely feeling drained in all different ways - mentally, physically, emotionally.  This week I am doing better and starting to emerge out of the fog, I think.  A little bit ago we met (well, I met)  with the court-appointed attorney who represents our girls - their guardian ad lit um, I think he's called.  He was very helpful to me and helped provide some reassurance I was hoping for.  This process is one of a lot of emotional ups and downs because nothing is settled yet.  But in the midst of all the uncertainty we have two little girls who need some stability and consistency, regardless of what their foster mama is feeling at the moment.  It's definitely one of the tougher things I have ever taken on!  God is control and His will will be accomplished, regardless of what the final outcome is.

I did realize this week that I am going to have to change my shopping locales, though.  For 8 years I have been using a certain Walmart in Des Moines but Monday, someone who knows our girls approached me.  She was perfectly nice, but it kind of freaked me out.  I do not want to have encounters like this.  So I'm going to have to make some shopping changes.  It helped too, that I had this big ordeal that day checking out.  I was attempting to purchase some storage tubs and the cashier tried to inform me that she could not sell them to me because they were "not in the system."  The whole ordeal probably took about a half hour.  I stubbornly insisted that Walmart would sell me the tubs because I had just carted them for an hour and a half throughout the store and I was not leaving without them.  In the end, I got what I wanted, but I was more than a little steamed about the whole episode.  I'm thinking there are some better Walmarts in the metro area where I could do my shopping!

This week Paul and the older boys are all up at camp.  It's been a nice week and it's been a rough week because of that.  I enjoy not having to cook and getting to watch movies every night.  But it's been hard because I am parenting 3 small children all by myself.  The things I normally have the older boys do - taking out the garbage, feeding the dog, taking care of the dishwasher,  bringing down laundry, picking up, etc - I have to do myself.  And I miss having Paul around.  He's just my rock, especially in the churning waters we currently find ourselves wading through.  Yesterday, my friend Julie and her little girl came over (we had a 1 yr old, a 2 yr old, a 3 yr old and a 4 yr old at our house yesterday!).  I enjoyed it so much.  I think I just have been that deprived of adult conversation! I remember these days when Will, Ben, and David were small.  It is one of the toughest seasons of motherhood, I think.

Before they left, David told Sam he would be the "man of the house" this week.  Sam took that to heart.  Yesterday I went to get the mail and he stopped me and said, "I'm the man of the house and mans get the mail!"  Then today he was quite disgusted at his sister who objected to him telling her he was the boss of her.  As he told me, "Being a man means being the boss!"  Poor kid!

Paul had to get stitches a couple of weeks ago.  He got hurt working on a furnace.  It was right on his knuckle.  He ended up getting the nurse up at camp to take the stitches out for him.

I have lost 10 lbs in just the last couple of months.  I realized a couple of weeks ago I was down 6 and then I weighed myself earlier this week and another 4 have gone missing.  I had begun to notice that my pants were feeling awfully loose these days.  That part of weight loss is annoying.  At first I was just baffled because I haven't changed anything - I'm eating the same and I'm not exercising (in fact, I sold my treadmill to make room for a baby crib).  But it finally occurred to me that I have been taking a magnesium supplement since the end of April.  By doing so, I have been able to quit taking my migraine medication.  And one of the side effects of that medications is weight gain.  That weight crept on so slowly that I never attributed it to the drug - figured it was just because I was getting older.  But when I saw Dr. Miller in Jefferson this April he commented to me that the drug I was on does cause weight gain, although, he admitted, he didn't really think I was being bothered by that.  So that would be my guess as to why the pounds have come off.  Or else I have cancer and don't know it yet.

My grandma died last week.  That's been kind of upsetting to me.  It wasn't totally unexpected, but yet, I was surprised.  I suppose I would have felt the same even if Grandma had been 110.  I'll probably blog about her one of these days.  She was a terribly influential person in my life.  Now, I have no grandparents at all.  I suppose that's not uncommon for being 41 years old.  But it's still sad, I think.

The day after Grandma's death, Charlotte called.  You may recall from earlier posts that I am close with my neighbors (late 60s), James and Charlotte.  In fact, I had just been up to see them a few days earlier.  At the time James mentioned that he had been coughing up blood for a few days.  He ended up in the hospital the next day and I was able to get up to Mercy last Sat. to visit for awhile.  Then, that Friday Charlotte called to let me know that they had just found out James had stage 4 lung cancer.  It's not treatable and he doesn't have long.  That is also upsetting to me and more than a little sad.

Today I am painting my back door - red.  I had forgotten how much I hate working with red paint until I got this thing going.  You have to put coat after coat on it before it looks right.  My plan this week had been to paint both sides of the door (the other side will be white with blue trim, the kitchen side is white with yellow trim) and to sand and paint Baby's dresser.  Yes, well, plans are always nice...Baby may have her dresser by the time she's 12, if I am lucky.

We will get through this time.  A year from now, I'm going to be smiling as I look back on how far we have all come.   And even though the "getting there" may be a little uncomfortable, it's not without its own joys.  I am choosing to embrace life, even in the valley.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This is a FaithWriter's story I wrote a couple of months ago.  It didn't make it into the top 10, so I'm copying it here.  Our subject was "weary."  I kind of liked this one!

Coming Apart
“You just don’t understand!” With that anguished cry, sixteen year old feet run up the stairs and the resounding bam! of her bedroom door slamming shakes the house. I start to head up the stairs, intent on scolding my daughter (“We do not slam doors in this house, young lady!”) but instead, I pause, and then head the opposite direction. I’m just so tired of arguing with Kasey these days. Truthfully, I do understand because I was sixteen once, - a long time ago. Before I was so tired all the time.

I hear the raised voices before I reach the family room. It’s the twins, fighting with each other again. I’m tempted to ignore the fracas, but then I see Joe straddling his brother, with his fist in the air, holding a video remote controller. Pinned underneath his brother, Luke is about to have a very close encounter with the controller.

“Joe!” I yell. My nine - year old pauses, mid-swing. Thus ensues a session of “He did, well, he said” and ends with me sending one culprit to his room and the other to go feed the dog. I feel a headache coming on.

I enter the kitchen, intent on finding an aspirin – or the whole bottle. I pass by my desk and suddenly remember that the energy company expects to have a check in their hot little hands by tomorrow. Ugh. I mentally try to subtract this week’s groceries, the boys’ field trip money, and the check I had to write to the vet from last week’s balance. Hmm – wonder how much is in savings? If only Bill was working regular hours like he used to. But his employer has taken a hit with the economy, too. Once again, the idea of maybe having to look for some part-time work runs through my head.

I sigh - I’m tired. But it’s more than that, really. It’s this bone-deep weariness that has crept into my soul. Where’s the rest? Where’s the peace? This chaos and upset is not what I dreamed of when I used to envision my future life. Maybe it’s just called “reality.” Whatever it is, though, sometimes I feel like I’m coming apart.

I see that some child has drunk exactly two-thirds of a can of soda and left the remainder on the counter. I pour the rest into a mug and add some ice. Slipping outside, I sit down on the porch swing. Creak…creak…I am reminded that I need to ask Bill to oil that thing.

Closing my eyes, I drink and attempt to enjoy the last little bit of daylight. I know the kids will find me eventually, but for now I enjoy the quiet. I hear the ducks greeting each other down by the pond and the rustle in the grass of – well, I really don’t want to know what’s rustling in the grass! Maybe I just need to take more moments like these throughout the day – to relax, to de-stress.

“Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

The Scripture learned long-ago pops into my mind. Can it be that easy? I know that when I go back in the house I’ll still have a surly teenager, boys that fight better than they get along, a dog intent on destroying every good piece of furniture we own, and bills we can’t pay. But if there’s some rest along the way for my fatigue, then maybe that’s all I need for now. And if that rest can come from Jesus, then so much the better. I think He probably understood heart - weariness as much as anyone during His time on earth.

Crunching over the gravel, Bill’s truck pulls into the driveway. As he gets out, I can tell by the slump of his shoulders that it’s been another rough day. I scoot over and pat the swing beside me. Bill slowly eases his body down. We don’t say anything, but watch as the brilliant sun disappears over the horizon. Bill’s calloused hand slides under mine and we lace fingers.

I feel my heart begin to lighten. Perhaps life isn’t so terrible after all. Sometimes a weary heart just needs the chance to come apart and rest for a little bit, that’s all.

Somewhere in the distance, I hear a mother duck, quacking to her little ones, calling them close for the night.

It’s time to rest.

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Just Different

All you have to do is view the above picture to know that yes, we got the girls, and ahem...we've been shopping!  In my defense, they badly needed shoes.  Ok, so technically a person only needs one pair of shoes, but they have all these cute Sunday dresses and I've been waiting to buy little girl shoes a long, LONG time!  So, that's why we came home with 12 pairs.

Last week was quite the week.  We're into the second week now and still adjusting.  I think we will be for some time.  There's no major problems, but there is a world of difference between giving birth to a child and training them from the very start to being given a little stranger who already has a world view and set behavior patterns.  It's going to take some time...lots of

And we have a baby in the house again, which is fun.  She's not quite walking, but is into everything - yeah, that stage!  Fortunately, we just went through this a few years ago with Sam so my memory isn't totally rusty.  But I'm cleaning up lots of toddler messes these days!

And then, we all got sick last week on top of everything else!  The girls came to us with head colds.  We didn't get those, but we all got the flu.  Fortunately, it was staggered.  The boys all woke up vomiting on Thursday, I had it Friday, and Paul succumbed Saturday night.  It was just a 24 hour bug so by the time the next person went down, the previous sickie was up and could help out.  But I'm still tired and worn out from my bout.  Do you know we had not had the flu in this house since November of 2008?  And this was still too soon!  I'm so used to all of us being healthy most all the time.

We got our new pool up last week.  It's one Paul picked up at an auction this winter - actually the very day that we found out we had been approved for both our licenses.  Oh, it is nice!  I bought the little kids those expensive floaty suits and of course, we're taking all kinds of precautions with them in order to keep them alive.  But we've never had anything other than a wading pool.  For the first time we have room to actually swim and float - very relaxing!  With the extra-warm temperatures we've been having it's even more enjoyable!  I was fearful of what it would cost to fill it but I did the city's water bills this evening (and our meter was just read this morning) and our bill was only about $40 higher than normal - not as bad as I had feared.  And then I have to take into account all the money we're saving by not going to the public pools as often - good deal!

I don't think I really have anything else to report on right now.  My life is pretty much consumed right now with these new additions to our house.  Everyone keeps asking me how Sam is doing, which is understandable since he is closest in age to them.  He's doing fine.  Someday I can really envision him having a close relationship with his sisters.  Right now, he's tolerant.  The closeness will come later!  He's kind of been "king of the castle" his entire life, so this is a huge change for him, but he is handling it well.  I think it's hardest on me, to be honest.  It's definitely what I wanted and it makes me very happy when they wrap their little arms around my neck.  But I'm exhausted, too.  Somebody needs me constantly and I continually have things to address with them.  I just don't get a break!  I think I kind of took the freedom I had with the boys for granted - and now it's gone.  But I remember what it was like after Sam was first born and I remember feeling very similarly.  I felt nearly panicked by all that needed to be done and all the demands on me.  At least this time I don't have sore nipples on top of it!

 We'll get through this time.  God directed our steps and I know He will equip us to handle the many different things that are being thrown at us right now.  It's not all bad - it's just different.