Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All My Sickies

They're falling like dominoes....

Fever

Chills

Runny noses

Vanessa is quite sick. The twins don't act sick but they have fevers, runny noses and flushed faces.

Bri and Christina are fighting....


****
I was visiting with a social worker yesterday.
It had nothing to do with the twins, but Missy can sniff out a social worker a mile away.
She was on high alert.
She must have said it about three times, "But we're *****'s (our last name) now!!"
Yes, kiddo you are one of us now.
There's not a thing to worry about.

I don't want to lose our foster care license after all it takes to get one.
We were in danger of losing it.
We are now moving it from a private agency to the local DSHS
where I can keep it up-to-date more easily
and maybe actually use it.
The last time we did respite it was such a big deal for the other foster family to get an okay to have us watch their kid for a weekend because our license was not with the regular system.
That will all be changed very soon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tearful

Totally unexpected.

We never saw it coming at all.

We are still scratching our heads to figure out what it was about.

Christina was cleaning and organizing the cupboard in James' room. It holds the kids art supplies and school books and can't seem to stay orderly for more than three days at a time. There's an old 13 inch TV in there. Old as in maybe 40 years old and weighs a ton for it's size. It's the only one we have. I have kept it because it is hooked up to an old vhs machine and we have couple old home movies. One is of our wedding. The other is of the girls when they were small.  There's quite a few good clips of when Christina was about 2 years old on that second one.

As Christina was cleaning she popped this vhs in to pass the time. The twins were drawn in right away. They've watched it before, but it's so funny to see those big girls so little. There's a part where Steve wrestles with the girls on the floor. There's a part where he reads them a story. There's the part where we sang songs together around the piano....

And that's when the tears began to flow.  

I think the simple music broke the dam that was holding back a lot of emotion. Heartbroken, sad, and maybe even a little confused at the powerful feelings... James cried his sorrow out on my shoulder.

It's so absolutely distressing that this boy of nearly 8 cannot explain why he is crying. All his thoughts are captive secrets. All we know is that watching our family interacting years ago on that small screen  before he was even born triggered a lot of feelings. Maybe he doesn't understand that he wasn't born yet. He just definitely recognized that he wasn't there. He's missing from the action. Maybe he wants his dad to roughhouse with him more like he saw in the video. Maybe he wants to be little again. Maybe we'll never know.

As for Missy, she only wanted to know "when we got Christina".  As in, how old was she when the social worker dropped her off at the door?

Life isn't very fair, is it?

Just Have to Say

that I am very proud of how the kiddos have been handling themselves.

Yesterday was like a test.... a long enjoyable day with friends,  church, fellowship, good food, fun games and a late bedtime. They did great! But what is even better is how they are doing today. After all that I sort of expected the grumpies to come out. Well, I more than sort of expected it, I planned for it. However, they are doing very well. Missy was really upset about something for a few minutes and I thought, "okay, here we go...." but she took some time to get herself together and both kids are happy.

I've been noticing a trend towards greater lengths of peace and contentment that lasts longer and longer and I'm praising the Lord for this.

I know that there will be trials.

I know that James will struggle with transitions and with putting forth his best energies when things take work. I know he will shut down on me and I will have to go through the steps to get his brain back in gear. I know he will wet his pants nearly every time he plays outside.

I know that Missy will have a melt down and possibly a tantrum when she gets anxious and the blow up may be over something insignificant. I know she will play control games sometimes... I know she will be whiny when she is tired. I know that when she is bored she is trouble.

I know that.

Being prepared and having a clear plan is key to stopping the downward spirals that are so detrimental to their mental health.

They know they are loved.
They know the boundaries.
They know they don't like being out of control.

They know they are pretty powerless to pull out of downward spin

~  and that scares them.

Frankly, when I don't have an emergency plan that works in a crisis moment it scares me.
All of us reacting and responding out of fear creates chaos.

Sometimes the plan doesn't work. Or it doesn't work anymore. And plan B must be put into place... or plan X,Y, and Z must be thought up.

Ever looking to the ONE who knows them best is crucial.
Praise is indispensable.
Refocusing the mind is vital.
Getting a plan from God is essential.

Psalm 34 encompasses all of these....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Taxes

Does anyone have tips to share on doing our taxes this year?

Is claiming adoption complicated?

I am thinking we can claim that we adopted 2 special needs kids in 2011.

Should we get someone to help us with our taxes this year?

Is this going to delay our Income tax return?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Home, More Stairs

We're back.

Steve and I had our immigration appointments back to back- that is one day after the other in a city a couple hours drive away. So he reserved a room in a hotel. Vanessa insisted that we leave the twins with her and she worked out the details. It was nice.

When we got to the immigration office they went ahead and did our fingerprints back to back on the same day - which made a ton more sense to me than their original plan. Alas for Steve, who was ready for the interview. They did not interview us. I, who really didn't think they were going to, breathed a sigh of relief as I didn't know all 100 facts yet.

So then, what do we do? Go home because we are done? Or go ahead with our date?

It really wasn't a hard choice.

The twins both have colds. It comes from not having sense enough to know when you are cold or wet or that your boots are filled with snow when you are sledding. I don't know when they'll start to have those kinds of feelings...

James has been doing a lot of stairs. He's learning the 4th verse of Psalms 34, if that tells you anything. What can I say? It works. We are working on self control.

This morning it was time to go out and feed the animals. He says, "But it's cold out there!"

Meaning, I don't want to go outside and feed the animals. I want to sit on the couch and do nothing. Yesterday I let him do nothing for awhile because he has a cold and literally he does NOTHING by the hour.

I look at him in surprise. "And it wasn't cold yesterday, or the day before when you went to feed the animals? Get going, boy!"

He starts running towards his coat and anger consumes him and he gets LOUD and his movements are frenetic.

I'm on my feet, "QUICK. Let's do stairs!"

Of course, that only makes him cry and holler, but he starts. I have him alternately patting his shoulders while crossing his arms as he runs up and down the stairs. He also recites his verses at the same time. All this engages his mind and he doesn't have much time to concentrate on being mad. When he can look me in the eye, smile and say his verses, I change it up and have him count by 5's. If we can switch gears pleasantly then he's done and we carry on with the day. We've been doing this a lot. The plan is to break up his focus on his feelings and to put praise in his mouth. The other idea is that I want him to have to work harder to be mad than to be happy. I want it to be so much work he would rather do what is right.

I might have a tough day ahead. He sort of thinks having a cold is excuse for his behavior. I let him rest yesterday for awhile...

Monday, January 23, 2012

I WILL Bless the LORD at ALL Times

His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 
My soul shall make her boast in the LORD, 
the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.

James is working on learning Psalm 34. He has learned verse 1 and 2 so far.
The drawings help a ton!
I love that it is about praise. SO positive!


He's also working on his attitude towards his school work.

Whenever things started to go South I had him do jumping jacks today,
or stairs
and recite his verses
and count by 5s.

He had to do a lot of each today. It was tough sometimes, but I wouldn't let up until the mad was replaced with glad. I had him look me in the eye each time he got to the top of the stairs and I would smile and recite his verses for him . When he would decide it wasn't worth the work (long past when I would have thought it wasn't worth the effort if I were him, as many as 25 sets of stairs) and he would begin to smile and be sweet we would talk about what the verses mean and he would have to recite them with the proper facial expression.

We talked about what it means to be humble and contrasted that with what it means to be proud.

It made for kind of a long haul. He  was really wanting to control the situation, but we brought him around again and again. He had clothes to fold in between, so it wasn't as tedious as it might have been.

He's out sledding now. And the ladybug timer is set for every thirty minutes to remind him to come in and use the facilities. :-)

He is actually more tired of his "games" than I am at the moment. When he first starts my heart pounds and I get shaky.... scrambling to put a stop to the nonsense before he gets into it, knowing where it could lead... BUT once I have a plan and I feel like things aren't beyond certain perimeters then I am fine. If things escalate beyond hope then I can pull out the "hike the mountain" card or have him go to his room so I can walk away. Otherwise, Ohhhhh boy!

Oh, and we are ending these disciplinary exercises with him saying,
 "Yes, mom, Thank you for strengthening my mind and body."

lol. That was Bri's contribution to the plan. She says that's what kids have to say if there were told to do push ups as a reminder to follow the rules at Bible Camp. I think it's a great reminder to him why he's being disciplined in the first place.


Snow Is Good

It's good for kids.
It keeps them exercising all day long and they sleep hard at night.
When they sleep hard at night they wake up fresh and cheery.
We're off to school with smiles all around.

Thank the Lord for SNOW!

And for the sunshine. It is wonderful!!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Foggy Brains and American Government . . .

don't go together.
Or at least studying American Government/History and my foggy,
migraine head don't work together real well.
I thought the American Government was into SLOW... as in red-tape and snails pace, and all that.
Didn't we just apply for this citizenship thing two weeks ago?
I wasn't thinking I would have to be prepared for an interview by this week.

Alas, but I hate politics, government and all that tedious stuff.
The history is the only part I am fine with.

I'm suppose to care that there are 435 representatives for congress and two senators for each State if I want to become a citizen? I can hardly keep the executive branch, legislative branch, judicial branch, supreme court, congress, the cabinet and senate  mapped out let alone people's names attached to their offices. Truly I'm nearing the stage of life where I have to write post-it notes with my kids names on them! Forget people I don't know.

I was one of those lucky homeschooled kids. We didn't study government. Or not at least until it caught up with me somewhere in 11th or 12th grade. I was living in Lesotho at the time and I was doing this government homeschool course. Seriously though, studying South African government during the days of the apartheid... yeah, real helpful to me - then and now.

****

It hasn't stopped snowing yet.

Sledding was on the agenda for the kids today. The big girls did their share of sledding, too. My 5 and 5 from the neighbor's house makes for one big continuous party all day. Missy could hardly drag herself into the house tonight and was asleep before you could snap your fingers twice. James took a little longer as he had some serious washing up to do. He'd soaked his snow suite through from the inside out multiple times. Sadly, I have no idea how to break of him this disgusting habit.

There is so much snow the roads are a mess.  Winter has arrived.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yes Sirreeeee!

A certain little boy is learning to tell time.

He can tell you the time on the hour and the half hour....

but don't confuse him with quarter hours,

or minutes. 

Not yet, anyway.

I'm thinking I know what an 8 year old boy 

who knows how to tell time should get for his birthday!!!

That's going to be one big deal around here.

Shhhhhh. 

I hope you all can keep a secret better than he can.

Not only is he learning to tell the time

he has patience enough to use the computer to do a couple of 

online telling the time games.

And he only cried three tears when I very artfully got him away 

from the computer

when I had decided he was done.

He did his math today without one trial.

He sat for 4 minutes with his hands folded and his 

back straight

without blinken' an eye.

Amazing, isn't it?

I am so thankful.

Life would be perfect if Missy hadn't completely 

picked up where he left off 

** on the attitude issues.**

ha! ha! just kidding. 

Life is good.  

I only have two little children and not ten. 

For that I am grateful.

(I can be grateful for that, can't I?

'cause He's only given me enough strength to deal with two.

But apparently I can only deal with one continuous bad attitude at a time.)

A New Twist on an Old Battle

Missy is still making unahppy sounds in her bedroom one hour since she should have been in school.

The first couple weeks of going to school was great and new and exciting.

Now school is still great and fun and exciting, but getting ready for school and getting through the morning routine is NOT.

We're back to our morning fight.

One morning this week she was late. A lot late, because she couldn't get herself together. The next morning I put her in the car screaming and half dressed. This morning I refused to listen to the screaming. I sat in the car and waited. I'll skip middle of the story because it's about more screaming and I wouldn't let her in the car like that. We came in and I sent her to her room to cool down and I sat at the breakfast bar to eat an apple. When I couldn't swallow it I realized I was taking it all way to personally and I got up and hopped in the car and drove away to where I couldn't hear it. Poor Christina! Missy is calmed down some, though not happy. I'm afraid to speak to her yet. I don't know whether to just let her be in the quiet of her room this morning or to try and get her to the last half of her school time.

I was afraid it would be this way.

I don't know that it will make a difference, but I am going to try and figure out if there are things she can do at a different time of day. Some things are not optional. She has to get dressed. She has to brush her teeth. Maybe she can feed her rabbit later, though.

We are suppose to give thanks in everything so I have been trying.

I am thankful for the trial to sand off my rough edges.
I am thankful I have a little girl.
I am thankful that she likes school and that she is learning there.
I am thankful that God has the answer to this morning problem.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sledding


 In case they hadn't had enough of the white stuff after sledding... we fed them snow cones.
Courtesy of Mathew.
Any flavor - your choice - with refills.
Nineteen kids worth of wet snow clothes.
And too much fun!

Talk about craziness.

In That Case...

Please, pray for me
and Missy
today.

*SMILE*


I smile every time I think of it.
I can't help it.
A few posts back I was feeling very much like a failure
at this parenting with unconditional love thing...

and I received a comment from Anonymous.
Previously,
Anonymous and I were not friends.
I don't like not knowing who is talking to me out of the 
deep, dark, foggy abyss.
Often Anonymous can say things they wouldn't say
if you knew who they were...
It's too easy to say what you think and hope nobody figures you out.

BUT
this time Anonymous was extremely helpful and kind.
Maybe they forgot to sign their name,
or maybe they forgot their name.

I loved their advice.
It was perfect.

Anonymous and I are now friends.


But I crack up  every time I think of it.

In that case I'll absolutely pray for you....

In that case...
maybe I'll have to whine every day
so that you'll pray for me.

'cause I'm a struggling
human
who hasn't got it all together
quite yet,
and 
my faith is wimpy and frail. . .
and I get tired,
very tired of the battle.

I know that God is Greater than all our trials
and He will ultimately save these children
from themselves,
and me 
from myself,
BUT 
it makes a difference when you pray for us.

Missy's had a rough morning. 
Regardless, I got her to school on time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tricks of the Trade

In dealing with recalcitrant behavior it's nice to have a bag full of tricks.

Little tricks quickly grow old and wear out, though.

They don't do anything to heal or regenerate the heart,

but they do provide ways to avoid the booby traps

the cantankerous ones might set for the wary parent,

and they help the contrary one realize they aren't in charge.

The trick pulled from the hat for today was jumping jacks.

Garbled, undecipherable speech, "forgetting", sluggishness, sudden inability to write numbers,  and other various and sundry purposeful annoyances were cured with a round or two of jumping jacks.

To be sure, the first few sets caused sparks to fly,

but mad jacks don't count...
only happy jacks pass muster,

depending on how much energy one might have for mad jacks decided how
many happy jacks were required.

Sometimes a little humor goes a long ways.

Other times Mom does jumping jacks right along with the kid,

To show it can be a blast.

The point is to cause  "jack" to refocus his attention...
Or it might just be to make trying to push buttons more work than it is worth because, you know, sometimes the child would like to make Mom work very, very hard to understand him, or to remind him, or to help him, or argue with him... but if she can save her breath and turn the tables on him he just might get tired first.

SNOW

I think we are finally getting our winter's worth of snow today.
Buster Brown is happy about that.
He practically volunteered to do the dishes this morning,
so he must be happy.

And ahem...

Dad is home today,

sooooo, when the little gaffer had sudden paralysis of the mouth when asked to repeat his memory verse this morning (which he normally likes to do, but as he's pledged himself to noncompliance....well, you know...) and dad whispered that he had time to take him hiking today if it was needed

suddenly

all trials and tribulations vanished.

Then

he discovered it IS SNOWING!

We are planning a snow day tomorrow with invitations out to all sledding deprived children we can find. There's quite a few in these here parts!


It backfires every time I make a hard and fast rule.

Had some kids from choir thinking they could just not come to practice but still be in the program. (Like, huh????) and so I said if anybody was not at rehearsal today they were NOT going to be in the program on the 28th.  Now it's snowing like a blizzard and if half the kids can't make it - what kind of program will that be???

Like I say, happens every time. Will I ever learn?

****
(Choir is Canceled. Program postponed!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Changing the Wording...

Thanks to all who sent encouragement and promises. I have some all alone time this morning where I am going over those promises and presenting them to God. I ask Him to honor them.

After Dad's comment about not talking of failure, I am changing all the wording of this post.

I did blow it this morning.

It's been rough.

Kiddo has tried me to the core. All that stubbornness he had towards school last week he poured into balking at one single, solitary chore I asked him to do in place of feeding the dog yesterday. He literally laid on the cold ground outside and refused to move ALL day.

He would not budge in his refusal.

Nothing. No entreaty, no patience, no kindness, no firmness, no pleading, no ultimatums would move him.

ALL day.

Steve came home at 6 and took him up the mountain for a father-son- hike -your-nasty-attitude-out exercise.

The kid ran away,

In the pitch dark on the mountain despite his fear of cougar and coyote.

He lost his way down the ridge and ended up in the orchards in the valley. He was never truly lost as far as that goes. He knows the area well and even in the dark, there are definite markers to turn you around if you miss the first few  - but as far as we were concerned we lost him. What if he went the wrong way and over the steep part and hit his head or something? And, the animals are no joke, either. Flashlights are puny in the dark on this mountain.

Vanessa found him.

Steve took him up again, because since running away was wrong and scary he needed to walk with dad and come home with a new attitude.

Eventually he did.

BUT he then refused to sleep. He was practically propping his eye lids open but he would not give in.
I got on my knees beside him and tried to connect in some way. Trying to talk to him is difficult. His words have no meaning. They are a set of words that he uses in a ceaseless round of confusion. It's very difficult to get to the heart of the matter. Impossible, actually.

He uses no feeling words. It takes him a full minute to say the word "because" and then you wait a full minute for him to say "I don't want to".... "Because".... "I not obey".  "Yes", "No" is used interchangeably depending how you state the question.  Very frustrating when you just want to know what is going on in his head and to find out if there is anything you can do about it.

This morning he was a bear, of course.

And I had had it.

And that's when I began to steam.  I probably would make a pretty mean sergeant in the army.

And suddenly, he had enough of my ordering and commanding him through his routine and he decided to sweeten up.

Just like that.

Both kids were late to school.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lying

Lying is at an all time high with Buster Brown.


At this time I can believe NOTHING he says.

He's quite convincing.

Almost.

Everyone else will believe him but me and eventually the truth shows up.

I wish I knew why. There has to be a reason.

I don't have any strategies. I haven't been doing anything about it except to let him know clearly that he isn't speaking the truth and then expecting him to do what he says he already did. I am trying not to ask him questions to give him opportunity, but that isn't easy at all. One can point blank say, "You didn't feed the dog",  and he will lie from here to kingdom come that he did and that he gave her a full container, etc... Dogs can't talk, but they don't lie, either. The dog was so starving she was knocking on the door and barking for her breakfast.

This morning as I handed Buster's' coveted buttered waffles to the dog, I told him that if he couldn't feed the dog her dog food he would have to share his breakfast and only when it was super clear to him that I didn't buy his line did he admit he had never fed her.  Brianna went out and fed the dog and cats. Missy hadn't fed the cats either. They are both in time-out for not doing their chores.

I'm trying to be matter-of-fact. I expect him to lie until whatever the real issue is has resolved.

If anyone has suggestions, I'm all ears.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reality Check

I am not doing very well at posting a picture a day. Look how many days I have already missed in the first two weeks of January!

It's kind of like the new Bible reading plan I embarked on. Reading so many chapters a day isn't really my style, I guess. Too easy to miss the important things when one has to read so fast.

Okay, so don't laugh. I saw this little picture and thought,