Sunday, December 23, 2012


You know, if I don't receive a thing this week in the way of Christmas gifts, I've already been given a whole, whole lot.  I'll share about that in this post.

What a week it has been!  Maybe I just need to recount it chronologically, so I don't forget anything.  Last weekend was rough, to say the least.  It was so rough that we once again find ourselves on the receiving end of formal counsel - kind of humiliating to someone who likes to give the appearance of always "having it together."  But I honestly do not, I really don't.  I think God is going to use this time for His glory in the end, but I'm anticipating a rather painful time of soul-evisceration as I attempt to work through some issues with a counselor in the next few months.  Self-denial and cover-up is ever so much more comfortable!

Monday I went to the dr.  I've been sick off and on since late April - mostly "on."  It seems like I catch every single bug that comes along.  I've had 3  head colds since Thanksgiving alone (more than likely, it's the same cold that just subsides for a short time before rearing it's ugly, snotty head once again).  Plus, I'm back to losing weight again.  I thought that had leveled off, but I noticed a couple of weeks ago that my pants were getting saggy again.  I stepped on the scale and I was down an even 20 lbs. since I got the scale in March.  Not good.  I had actually addressed this with the naturopath/allergist/chiropractor Ben and I saw earlier this month.  He told me that it was because I "wanted to be sick" and that he had fixed that and it wouldn't be happening anymore.  Yes, well, telling me I "want" to be sick is NOT helpful at all and the very next week I was sick again after seeing him - so much for "fixing" me!  So, I saw my regular dr. on Monday.  He told me that I've actually lost closer to 25-30 lbs since I had my pre-adoption physical in the fall of '11.  He doesn't know if that is coincidental or related to my seemingly suppressed immune system.  He ran blood work and it all came back normal, which is very frustrating to me.  "What?  You were hoping he'd say you have cancer?" Paul sarcastically asked when I told him.  I see the dr. again in a few weeks - what he thinks he's going to do for me, I have no idea.  It's kind of discouraging.  Not to mention that I have even more clothes to take in, now, and I'm back to shifting around uncomfortably when I lay down or sit for too long (no padding).  I know, I know - half the world would love to have this problem and I think I would probably be more discouraged if I was struggling with being overweight, too.  At least being thin is socially acceptable(thankful this isn't the period of Rubenesque beauties)!  But it is still alarming to me to be losing weight so rapidly and not having a reason to wherewith to credit it.  Mostly, though, I'd just like to quit getting sick!  But, enough about my poor body.  As I get into my older years, I do NOT want to be someone who feels the need to share every ache and pain with my audience.

The next day, I attended a Christmas party for my mom's group.  I came away completely overwhelmed by the generosity of others.  Many, many people had donated gifts for our group.  I guess they feel sorry for us poor mothers of special needs kiddos!  I was given a space heater (that Paul quickly set up in our cold bathroom), a gift certificate to a fancy Jordan Creek steak house, a book, a certificate for an hour-long massage, a gift card to a local pizza joint, a kids' cd,  a decorative plate, some candle holders, lotion, soap, a flame-less candle, and tickets to Des Moines symphony.  I'm still reeling about the sheer amount of gifts I was given! I'm going to have a lot of thank-you notes to write, that's for sure!  It's always such a blessing just to spend an evening with this group of ladies, but to get treated like this on top of that - wow!

Wednesday, Ben's choir performed out at Merle Hay Mall.  That's the group above.  I dragged 4 kiddos with me.  Ben did such a good job, even though he had to stand and sing for an hour.  It was a little harder keeping the 3 Littles occupied while I tried to listen to Ben.  Afterwards, I had to manage lunch at the food court for the kids, plus Ben.  He had a different aide with him who isn't terribly familiar with his needs, so I kind of had to take over.  And David - well, money still presents a problem for him, so I had to go order his food once I had Ben and the Littles all settled and eating.  By the time I ate, my food was stone cold, which is not all that unusual for me.  Maybe that's why I'm losing weight!  I had to do a little bit of mall shopping afterwards and then I got to drive to the McDonald's by the airport and meet up with Matt, Kirsti, and the kids who had just flown in from Arizona for Christmas.  That was neat and fun and the highlight of my day!

That evening the snow started and didn't stop until the next day after we had gotten more than 7 inches.  It was a very wet, heavy snow.  After the last two winters we've had it was so much fun!  It was near blizzard conditions the next day because of the wind.  Paul didn't go to work, Sam and Lizzie were so anxious to play outside, the boys didn't have school - just a really nice, "snowed-in" kind of day!  And now it is assured that we will be having a white Christmas.  I'm not even sure when we last had one of those!  School was canceled again on Friday, which surprised me.  I was a little concerned because I knew Ben had done some shopping for Sam as part of his life skills class - I figured we'd have to buy a replacement gift for him.  But Ben's teacher emailed me and asked if we could meet at the school (even volunteered to drive to my house, but I wasn't about to let her do that) so she could get that to me.

Paul ended up being called into work on Thurs. evening.  He worked past midnight.  Then, his "on call" week started at 8am Friday.  He got home at 2 Sat. morning, got less than 4 hours of sleep, and got home last night (Sat) around 10:30.  He said he had gotten two more calls on the way home, but told the home owners he couldn't come until morning.  He needed to sleep!  He was out the door by 6:30 this morning and it's after 9 now and I'm not sure when I'll see him.

We were discussing this today.  It seems like he is always on call and super busy right around Christmas.  I'm trying to have a thankful heart because I remember how tough last winter was financially.  And the last couple of paychecks have been kind of short because up until this week, we've had a warm, dry start to our winter.  Money troubles always make me pretty antsy and worried and depressed.  But yet - it would be nice to be able to actually enjoy Christmas together.  Tomorrow night my piece is going to be performed by Tammy at our Christmas Eve service.  Will came home from church tonight and said they were "setting up" for it tonight but he wasn't allowed to tell me anything more.  That really has me curious!  And how I wish Paul could see that, too - a lot.  I really, really want him to see my thoughts come to life on the stage!  But I rather imagine he'll still be fixing furnaces then.  We're not even sure when we'll do our family gift exchange because we're taking off bright and early for Council Bluffs on Tuesday.  Sigh...but I just can't complain - too much, anyway.  Paul has a job and he's getting desperately needed hours right now.  When you have a half a dozen kids, you have to expect there to be some sacrifices along the way.

But still, it makes it easy for me to feel sorry for myself.  I think I'm hopeless - I feel sorry for myself when work is scarce and money is tight.  And I feel sorry for myself when Paul is working night and day because he's not around!

I felt the need to watch "Fireproof" again Friday night; Paul had watched it on his own a week ago.  I learn something new every single time I watch that.  This time it was about the importance of forgiveness - ouch, as that is a hard one for me!  Of course, I bawled all the way through the movie, even though I practically have the thing memorized.  I KNOW where the tear-jerker parts are, but I still cry every single time!  And I am not one to re-watch movies; Fireproof is an exception because it is just so amazing.

I have had lots and lots of trouble with Miss Lizzie lately.  I'm not sure what's going on in her little head, but it's translating to lots and lots of discipline issues.  When Paul is not here, that means that I am the one dealing with them.  It's hard - not unexpected, but hard, just the same.  Defiance is a really, really hard thing for me to deal with.  I find myself fighting anger (my own) more than I am used to dealing with.

I spent all day Saturday - yes, the Sat. before Christmas! - doing my normal bi-monthly shopping.  It actually went pretty smoothly, even though Sam and Lizzie insisted on coming.  They were both in an agreeable mood which made my day easier.  I did have to wait in line a really, really long time at Walmart, but fortunately, my kindle is always in my purse these days!  After we got done at Walmart I thought we were going to go home.  It was then that Lizzie realized she had lost her mittens (that were attached by a string in her sleeves).  Argh!  I knew the high was only supposed to be in the teens today, so she had to have mittens.  But I was not about to go traipsing all over Walmart looking for her mittens, esp. with two preschoolers and a loaded-down shopping cart.  So off to Younkers we went...I balked at the notion of paying $15 for a pair of small mittens, so I dragged the tired kids through the mall to the Children's Place and Gymboree, which, of course, did not have the needed mittens.  So I ended up paying $15 after all.

And then,, today....I took the kids to church.  Well, David stayed home since he spent all day yesterday throwing up.  Fortunately, he seems to be doing better and nobody appears to have caught his germs.  I had a few nice conversations with friends at church and then headed home.  I fed the kids, had a horrible time with Lizzie who has recently decided that nap and bed times are her preferred battling grounds.  I picked up the house, did some laundry and present wrapping - just kind of slummed it all afternoon in my sweats.  And then this evening, the doorbell rings.  We don't even have a front porch right now since Paul dismantled it to do the basement.  All we have is a mound of dirt in front of the front door.  We've been using the back door only since late summer.  I opened the door and in traipses the entire youth group of the Pleasantville Church of Christ!  I don't know these teenagers, but most knew Ben.  In fact, quite a few of them are in choir with him.  They got in my house and kept asking, "Where's Ben, where's Ben?"  I found him and he was just thrilled to death to see his schoolmates.  They brought us a laundry basket just full of Christmas stuff - a huge ham, pies, cookies, a wax warmer, a table cloth, a gingerbread house kid, sparkling grape juice (which made the kids giggle since we are teetotalers and the bottles look like wine!).   I have no idea why the youth group chose to bless US, but I am grateful.  It made my evening.  I don't know if they think we are exceptionally poor or if it's because they feel sorry for Ben with his disabilities or maybe it was just because they like Ben, and thus us, by extension.  No matter the instigation, it was nothing short of a huge blessing.

This has turned into a frightfully long post - definitely should have broken it up until several small ones, I think.  I'll leave you with this on this Christmas Eve eve:

This week I was looking at Ellie in her high chair and commented quietly to no one in particular, "Boy, does she look like her mother!"  Will looked at me quizzically and commented, "I thought YOU were her mother!"  Ooh, touche, indeed!  But I am - not of her flesh, but of the heart.

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Old Boobies and New Names

Christmas is upon us.  I'm doing pretty well this year.  My shopping is all but done and about 2/3 of my cards have made it into my mailbox.  My baking is at a minimum this particular year and I finally figured out how to make my own peanut brittle that tastes really, really yummy!

My favorite Christmas hymn has always been "O, Holy Night."  My favorite version is when my husband sings it - gives me goosebumps!  Josh Groban's version is a close second.  But my all-time favorite secular Christmas song is "All I want for Christmas is You" sung by Mariah Carey.  That song can get me dancing around my kitchen like nothing else!  The other night I was doing Lizzie's hair, which is always a long and painful (for her) process.  You mothers of white children do not know how easy you have it when it comes to hair!  But I'm learning and parts are getting straighter and the hair itself is getting less fuzzy and dried-out looking all the time.  I digress, though.  Since there was a Christmas special on, I parked Miss Lizzie on the stool in front of the tv while I braided.  They announced that Mariah Carey would be singing "All I Want..." in a moment and I got excited.  There was a distinct possibility that Lizzie would end up with some crooked parts because there was no way I'd be able to listen without wiggling around at least a little bit!  Mariah comes on and her dress was cut away - far, far away.  Everybody in America got a bird's eye view of her huge breasts.  I bet half of the viewers (the male half) were thinking, "Yeah, I know what I want for Christmas!"

Lizzie pipes up, "Mommy, that is inappropriate!"  I had to agree with her.  But I had to secretly admit to myself that overriding feeling was not embarrassment at the singer's state of undress, but rather, jealousy.  Mariah Carey is my exact same age.  She was coming into her fame about the time I was in college and getting married so I've always kind of identified with her for age alone.  That's the only thing we have in common!.  I look down at my also-nearly - 42 year old chest and sigh.  Life is so, so not fair.

I was reminded too, of the year my brother, Matt, who was maybe 4 at the time, watched a Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Christmas special on tv.  He then seriously commented that he felt sorry for Dolly because "her chest must sure be cold out in that snow!"  That still makes me laugh! 

You know, Michael Buble has a really nice, new version of Mariah's famous song.  Maybe I'll start listening to that instead.
We may be changing the girls' middle names, after all. That has never been the plan.  I never, ever wanted to try to pretend that the girls came to me in the normal way.  I thought that by using their first names as their new middle names it would not only help keep their heritage and past in place, but would be a nod of thanks to their mother who chose life for them.

Well, I'm having second thoughts on that now.  We had an incident this week with Birth Mom that was just stunning and kind of dried up any wells of sympathy I had towards her previously.  Baby is named after Birth Mom and it hit me that if I keep her first name as her middle name then she might always have this warm, fuzzy feeling in her psyche that she shares a name with her birth mother.  This thought came to me as I was drifting off to sleep the night that I received a phone call informing me of Birth Mom's latest stunt.  I woke up Paul to inform him of my stunning revelation.  He muttered something and went back to sleep.  In the morning, I tried to convince myself that these are crazy thoughts and of course, we'll go with the original name plan.

But I just can't shake this feeling that they're supposed to have completely new names, first and middle.  So now, I'm on a name hunt.  For years, I've only ever thought of my favorite first names (Elizabeth, Eleanor, and Annie), but never tried to pair anything with those names in my head.  I am having tremendous difficulty coming up with new middle names!  I had thought of "Hope" but Paul shot that down.  I thought that would be perfect, considering the situation.  And it's a pretty name.   He said he doesn't like it when people use nouns, verbs, and attributes as names. He suggested I see if I can find two female names that mean "hope" but aren't Hope.  I've looked at several baby name sites and I don't know, but "Nadia" and "Tikvah" just aren't doing anything for me (those names mean "hope").  And this is what gets me, too.  When I was pregnant with the boys, I came up with the names.  I would tell them to Paul and each time he would say, "Sounds good to me!"  NOW, he decides to start caring what we actually name our kids?

So, anyway, I've got names galore parading through my head, trying to find the perfect combination.  All the while I'm still wondering if I'm doing the right thing by stripping the girls of their original names entirely.  But if you should come up with some really cool names that sound good with Elizabeth and Eleanor, let me know!

I sure don't want to have to turn to Sam for help.  He informed me yesterday that he has decided to have four kids someday, and that two of them are going to be named, "Spike-erica" and "Shab."  "Spikerica" just happens to also be the moniker he has bestowed on his stuffed triceratops toy, too.  I told him that first he'll need to find a wife.  Sam asked, "How many of those will I need?"  I told him one ought to do it.  He then asked if I thought he would be able to find one someday.  I don't think he'll have a problem!

But he may have to do some artful convincing if he's still stuck on Spikerica and Shab for future children's names...

(There's Gonna Be) Days Like This

The last 7 days have been a bit rough.  Hunting season started last Sat and went through Wed.  That meant that I was up at 5:30 each of those mornings making a decent breakfast for the hunters and then spent the morning in the kitchen making a good noon-time meal for them.  My body is not made to arise that early!  It's just...unnatural.  And for all that effort, the guys (Paul, Will, and two friends) only brought down two button bucks.  They were hoping to fill 7 tags.  This was the worst year, ever.  It was pretty warm, which didn't help.  Both Paul and Will had brand-new hunting gear to wear and it was too warm to even wear them!  We butchered up the little bit we had last night - may feed us for a month or so.  I'll be curious to see how God intends to provide now.

And then, Lizzie has had a really, really, REALLY rough week, behavior-wise.  That means Mom has had a really, really, ROUGH week, too!  A couple of days in there she was just golden, so I know she's capable of choosing good behavior.  Yesterday was awful.  We went to Jefferson for Ben's and my allergy appointments.  I brought along Sam and Lizzie.  Before we went in I warned all 3 what kind of behavior I expected.  By the time I was on the table, being worked on, Lizzie was throwing a raging tantrum, screaming and thrashing.  It was so bad the dr. had to intervene and get her settled.  I could have just died - I was angry and embarrassed.  The dr. assured me afterwards not to worry about it - that she would "only be little for a little while."  That didn't help much.  Why does motherhood have to be so humiliating at times?  I know my personality is such that I expect my kids to be well-behaved at all times.  For the most part they are.  And when they're not -ooh, boy.  Things are not going to be pleasant between Mom and Child!  But I also know that's why I really struggled when Ben went through his rough time a few years ago and why I'm struggling now with Lizzie. I have high expectations of behavior for everyone in my life.  That has caused me lots and lots of disappointments, angst, and grief over the years.

We had another counseling session Tuesday.  I was kind of looking forward to it.  So far, the counselor has offered up some helpful information and I've gained insight into the girls' hurts and brain development.  I'm really looking, though, for more "meat."  I want to do know what to do when certain behaviors raise their ugly heads.  So far, the counselor has spent most of her time explaining to me what has happened to the girls' brains and suggesting bonding activities for us (very helpful).  I used the term "deliberate disobedience" when explaining to her what we were dealing with.  She told me I needed to get that terminology out of my vocabulary because there is no such thing as deliberate disobedience when it comes to young children.  That's because they are not capable of choosing to obey or disobey.  They just do - whatever - I guess.

My jaw about hit the floor.  Paul said if he'd been there he would have walked out.  You know, I don't have an advanced degree.  I don't even have an undergraduate degree, since I decided marriage and motherhood were more important to me than spending more time and money pursuing a career I didn't even want in the first place.  I'm sure this counselor has her master's degree at the minimum.  But I am not an idiot, either.  You cannot tell me that children are incapable of making disobedient choices.  Babies can make these choices.  I noticed with all of mine that somewhere around 10 months they would look me square in the eye and choose to do their own thing, knowing full well what I expected. 

So, wow - this counselor is obviously not going to be that much help.  I'll probably go back, but I'm going to be stretching out the appointments farther and farther apart.  It's disappointing when I have to pick through everything she says (like digging all the vegetables out of beef stew) to try to find something that I can agree with and use.  There are some Christian counseling centers in the area.  I'm not sure if they would take state insurance, but all I can do is check.

Neat Adoption quote I ran across this week by a guy named...well, I can't read my handwriting where I scribbled this down off Facebook, actually.  I think his last name is "Loux."  It doesn't matter since I don't know who he is anyway.

Adoption is redemption.  It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous.  Buying back lives costs so much.  When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.

I've been thinking a lot about this.  I had never really thought about adoption as redemption, but it is.  It's giving a person a second chance at a good life.  That's exactly what God did for us.  We were all doomed with no chance at all.  But he rescued us through the cross, just as Paul and I are rescuing these little girls.  I kind of hesitate to say it like that, though, because that makes it sound like we are super-heroes and we're not.  We're not saints and we're getting a whole lot of enjoyment out of the deal, too. It has been nothing short of pure joy to add two more children to my brood and to have girls at last just kind of tops it all off!  Of course, there is a certain amount of pain-in-the neck-ness, too about the process.

And adoption is NOT natural.  These kids were not born to me, carry nothing of my gene pool in their little bodies, come from an entirely different culture and race, but yet they're becoming mine, just the same.  How does that happen?  Is love really all it takes?  It truly is an outrageous notion to think that one can graft another person into their family tree, lineage, and heritage for future generations.  But somehow, it works.

Even when they're humiliating their mother at the doctor's office...