Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Growth

It's been a time of growth for some kiddos around here.  Learning and growing which is sometimes painful, but also good to see and gives them such a sense of accomplishment when they (often do) succeed!

It's not always easy to walk this path with all our kids. Not easy at all. But worth it-- not one doubt there, each one completely and totally worth the effort, lessons repeated, struggles and eventually the "getting it" part.

We've had Phoebe making great strides recently. Really starting to see what FAMILY means to her life. Not just the "Oh now I have a mom and dad," which did indeed thrill her.  But also that when she is corrected that we do it with her very best interests at heart.

Phoebe was very babied with her foster mom. While I am very happy she was so well cared for/loved, this did not lend her to the idea of "Do things yourself to be independent." And at times she has NOT been thrilled with our "do it yourself" ideas. NOPE.

BUT, recently I saw her have a total "Light bulb moment."  So fun to see our kiddos learning stuff, sometimes slow, sometimes warp speed:)

  When I explained to her that I was teaching her to do things herself-- working on the hair most recently which is really HARD for her. She can't see her hair. She's gotta feel it out. And while most of you are going "Ahhhh" and thinking, Oh, just do it for her...........

This will not give her the pride of doing it herself.

 It will not give her the thrill of independence that she CAN do her hair and DO IT WELL. 

 So the light bulb moment was when I was talking to her after yet another morning of her sneaking and asking Kat to do her hair:(  And I explained to her why I wanted her to do it herself.... why we want her to do lots of things herself. Reminding her that she couldn't even dress herself when she came to us.

She very quickly huffed at me and said "I can dress myself"  and I told her "Yes, you can NOW.  But how embarrassing would it have been to  go to Outdoor School and have to ask a teacher to help you get dressed?"

And she giggled then said "Oh, that would have been terrible." And I said, "Yes. It would have and I love you enough that I never want you to be embarrassed like that so even though you got mad, you tried to get out of it, I taught you to dress yourself because you needed to be able to do that." 

LIGHT BULB MOMENT. I tell ya.  "OH." She said. She didn't need to say any more. It was obvious she GOT IT.  She's not "being punished" by being told to do things or at the very least TRY to do them before asking for help--- she's being TAUGHT. It's a GOOD THING.

Right away we saw changes -- the next morning she proceeded to take her hair and braid the sides and pull them back together--- done very well:) And she shined with the praise I gave her for her effort. The thrill of that independence was precious to see on her face.  She's such a joy filled person, such a treasure.  So glad we get to share these moments with her even if some of the time getting here wasn't a picnic.

Speaking of picnic, we went to one on Saturday, had a blast.  4 wheeled. Camp fire. 22 quarts of my homemade chicken corn soup. Chase came with Mal, he is officially moved out now. 

He handed me a gift for my birthday (he texted me on my birthday too) and said it was the cheapest thing he could find (gotta work on that "gift giving etiquette" with him) and it was a book with note pads with the initial "B." 

Now (MOM, really?) before you go to the word that rhythms with "Itch" he said "I guess B mean BUSY."  I think Mal tried to explain to him it was supposed to be a V for Vickie or M for Mom, maybe?

He's been back to get some more stuff and do laundry.  We took the last of his stuff in to his new digs on Sunday afternoon while taking Chloe in to work, here's the picture he "tolerated" me taking, of him on the porch of his new digs.

 He seems to like his new place although I think he misses us-- or maybe the noise of us?

Chloe, shown here in her work clothes is really enjoying her new job. She likes older people and says they are very funny.  Something not funny to her-- her first pay of a whooping $26. After taxes.

Did I mention life lessons?  There's a big one. She's got big plans for those paychecks, that will be something I share down the road. It's a biggie for sure. A small hint that it will be HARD on this momma.  But I'm going to suck it up just for her:)

Chloe recently got to fulfill a DREAM of hers. Something she has been wanting and begging for-the-last-five-years to do since she came home. 

 She called it "being a Wise Man."  It took us a bit to figure out the Chloe Chinglish and that she meant being a "BRIDESMAID." In a wedding. 

She's badgered her cousin and sister to "Get married already!" 

She was sooo excited when she was asked by a good friend to be in her wedding.  And a lovelier color they could not have picked, Chloe just looked stunning.  Not that her momma is bias or anything:) 

She wasn't thrilled she had to wear a touch of makeup, no, not my Chloe who calls herself my "Tommy boy"-- that means tomboy to everyone else.......... but she survived the very lightly applied makeup and had a great time at the wedding. 

It's been nice to see her more this past week, with field hockey over and football ending this week, we will go back to much less "to do" things, especially the pick ups of various children at never-the-same-time, creating hours and hours of waiting on SOMEONE for mostly DAD doing that waiting.  Miss that guy.  Wanna see him more!

One day/evening I did get to see him?  Our  anniversary last week (went out only a DAY after the date--that's gotta be a record, usually it's months till we find time) because the older kiddos helped out with pick ups of various sport loving/ working children and we went.

The "little girls" who are not-so-little anymore, asked giggling "Were we going on a DATE?"  Silly girls, YES. We went on a date.  And we talked about............. the kids, of course. What else?  Ha ha.

It's good to have that time alone. To reminisce when we met each other (I was 14, he was 16) and we dated, then split, then went on to other things in life. Some HARD. Some wonderful (like our kids).  Then reunited and married. WELL. Never saw that coming. Never saw God using us, to build this family of 14+. 

Couldn't have dreamed it up in my WILDEST dreams:)

 So thankful this man, stands at my side in this family with his love-- for God, for us.  So thankful that we handed over the reins to God some time ago and probably didn't even realize we had done it as deeply as we did. Might have scared the dickens out of us. But instead He has blessed us, over and over. 

So before I get too gushy on you, I'll go on to tell you what the rest of the crew has been up to---

Miss Paisley got a phone for her birthday.  Now, we really debated if she was ready, if she would realize that "hiding out" would not be allowed.  And we have been pleasantly surprised in how reasonable she has been with her new phone.

This present for her birthday gave Chance a life lesson.  Someone (named Chance) was really angry/upset that Paisley got a phone BEFORE HIM. 

Well, SONshine was reminded that he has said repeatedly, mind you, that he did not, does not, did not, want a phone. Nope, didn't want one, didn't care that we didn't feel he was ready until possibly recently, to have a phone. He was SOOOOO insistent he didn't want one, didn't care about a phone, us CRAZY parents did a really crazy thing-- we believed HIM. 

Yep, we did!  I mean--- he went on, and on and on that he DID NOT WANT a phone.  I reminded him of this and asked him what we were supposed to think when he kept saying that?  Mind readers we are NOT.  That was a "OH" moment for him, for sure.

Might remember to tell us how he REALLY feels next time, so we don't have such misunderstandings, huh?

Chance informed us he does have a date for semi formal which comes up soon.  I made the mistake of asking Chloe if she was going with a date. 

 OIY. That girl. Where her brothers are barely containing themselves  for the "go ahead" to date, she looked at me and said there was "Not one person she would even consider dating in school."

  Apparently all the guys are sooooooo immature.  Goodness.

Now what would we know about that? Ha ha.  We have raised/are raising just a few of those males, ya know?

I got to go to one of "those males" football game last week,  that was where dad and I spent our actual anniversary day after working, watching Camden play.

He cracks me up, dad got a snickers bar and then didn't eat it. I asked him why.  He said "Camden will ask for one after half time."  YES, he did. He didn't look up in the stands once till he was HUNGRY--  then picked us out and motioned us over. 

"Could he please have a snickers?"  Funny kid.  I threw it down to him and he grinned. LOVE his smile:)  He's so handsome, my only red headed child. 

Now don't think he's favored, he wrote MY EULOGY for a class assignment. I told him "Thanks  A LOT" for picking me. 

A few things that stood out that he wrote----  
That I treated everyone equal. All the kids. And I loved them and cared for them like a mother bird with her chicks. And a lion with her cubs.  (I pointed out that this should be a lioness but he said "Didn't matter.") 

He got that right. I love them that much.  Although glad I'm still here to be loving them and that his eulogy for me was just a class assignment.... phewwwww:) 

Thanking God for each day, never taking a day for granted:)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Birthday Girls

It's birthday time again.

And I've been informed I am not posting often enough-- thanks for letting me know--CHLOE.

I'd have more to blog about if you were home more often, daughter o'mine.  I've been missing this girl. 

 Field hockey, now over except for the wrap up banquet.  She started her new job this week. But hopefully we will see her more without the field hockey. I kinda like her ALOT and miss spending time with her.

As for the birthday girls-- Malaree  turned 23 yesterday, October 17.

 Kat turned 11 today, October 18.

Our girls. We soooo enjoy having the blessing of daughters.  They are funny, smart, caring, loving, thoughtful girls.

We are very proud of them-- even when they are harassing me to get busy blogging. 

You are welcome Chloe. You now have "something to read." 

I sure hope you are satisfied-- but if not you are welcome to come do a guest post on mom's ol' blog. 

 Or even be home more to give me funny things to blog about?  

I can say it was not a "drama free" birthday party.  No wonder we only invite family to these shindigs----OIY. 

The girls, might, just might, have been rude about a bracelet given to Kat:( 

Oh, girls.  Neither Kat nor Phoebe handle either of them getting more of anything than the other. Especially gifts/ attention.  Typical sister jealousy for their ages.

Besides the drama--- we dearly wish both Malaree and Kat the happiest birthdays and many, many more to come:)

We love you both, our precious girls!!  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gotcha Day 8 years later

How did 8 years fly by so quickly?  How does it seem like this girl, our Kat has ALWAYS been here with us?

Yes, it's been 8 years since we were handed our tiny girl, our 7th child, first adoption.

  Crying and not-too-thrilled to meet us, we were smitten with Miss Kat the very second we laid eyes on her.  Such a precious sweetheart she was.

Her adoption was totally started for selfish reasons-- we wanted to add a little girl to our family.  We weren't looking to be any different than many other families because even now we are just 2 regular 'ol people. 

God took our adoption of Kat to open our eyes to the need, to the plight of older children in China and He placed on our hearts the burden to care.

To DO SOMETHING. And He followed that up with never leaving us, through 5 more adoptions, many, many funds needed, trials and difficulties to get these 6 home and even now long after the last adoption has been completed to guide us in raising all of our precious ones.

Even that bio one still home:)  The guy who claims Kat wouldn't be here if he didn't ask for "a  little sister to play with" and drove us nuts asking and asking, even trying to "find" a sister in the Christmas catalog.  Seriously. 

And as much as Camden picks on this sister he badly wanted, they also have a very special bond and love each other very much. 

And how could we not fall deeply in love with this girl and see what a treasure she was and want to add in more treasures to our life? 

She's growing up, our precious girl, soon to be 11 years old. She still loves to draw things, make little cards or papers for me and her dad.

She likes music, likes to read and ride her bike. She's a great big sister for Phoebe to learn from. 

Kat's Gotcha Day Anniversary will consist of a fun gifts (Word Find book, pencils, gum, hair stuff, snacks she likes, lip glosses) and a Thank You card from us, saying "Thank you for being our girl."

She's such a joy, even when I am puzzling over the fact that somehow, some way, God made this little China girl with MY personality-- who acts JUST-LIKE-ME  and she ended up a part of our family. 

 I still don't know how that happened since I wasn't anywhere near China in 2003 when she was born. I swear it. 

At times, quite stubborn and temperamental-- I totally "GET" her.  I really do. And we adore this girl, our longed for, prayed for, cried for, yearned for--- little girl.  We love her to the moon and back.  Could-not-love-her-more.

We are so thankful for the blessing of her. And for what her adoption opened our eyes and lives up to.  5 more children we didn't expect to join this crew and become family members. We feel so incredibly blessed to have all of them and our homegrown children as well.

I wondered before we adopted her, would I  have the same "mother's intuition" with her? Then she needed her tonsils and adenoids out, only home a few months but when I told hubby and the nurse "She's crying and needs me." They could not hear her.

 But I told the nurse she HAD to go check and when she did ---- Kat was in the recovery room and was crying for me. I KNEW.  I had no doubt after that day how deeply she was planted in my heart.

Adoption is an amazing journey and we are so thankful to God for this one, this precious child. Once called orphan. Now our beloved daughter forever and ever more.

Love you tons, Miss Kitty.

Happy Gotcha Day!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Remembering him

Precious Tristan---

So hard to believe it's now been 6 years since I kissed the bridge of your nose, right where my lips fit perfectly. 

Camden's note :Mom, the baby wats (wants) you!
So hard to not have your baby smell to breathe in each day and rejoice that you were with us for another sunrise.

So hard to recall sitting on my porch at 4 am the day before and wanting to scream because my baby was dying but the world was going right on as usual, as if nothing was wrong.

So hard to not miss the feel of you in my arms. They ACHED for days after you left, with the desire to feel you in them, just one more time.

So easy to have loved you.

So easy to know God granted you your time here.

So easy to see what a blessing you were to us all.

So easy to know we will see you again, precious son, when we come to Heaven:)

Some called you a foster child, we called you SON. 6 years but our love remains true.  Forever and ever our beloved son, we could not have been more blessed to have you for the short time we did.

A special and wonderful gift to our lives.

Just as our adoptive kiddos are. I've been hurt recently by family members (Yep, them again) who were saying that we get monthly checks to care for our adoptive children.

This is NOT true.

I'm bummed that if they don't know the truth that they would spread lies. That they wouldn't just ASK.  We did not adopt ANY of our children (or even foster) to gain funds.

We did fundraise for adoption costs. We did take a tax credit for fees we had already paid (can take this once per child's adoption once the adoption is over) because I was given the opportunity to go to full time hours for a year to pay for adoption costs for Kat.

Once we had adoption tax credit from her adoption we used that larger than normal tax return to roll over on to Chloe's adoption, then the boys, etc. We never ONCE went in to adoption looking for pay outs for their daily costs to raise them.

We both WORK. We rely on GOD to provide for us, our strong and healthy bodies that can work, that extra hours of work come when costs come up such as uncovered dental, school clothes, car repairs. I coupon like crazy to keep food costs down because we pay for all the groceries from our paychecks.

Our home was purchased and remodeled with a good, old fashioned mortgage. Our down payment came from the old house equity. Having this newer home decreased not only our monthly mortgage payment (we still marvel about God's provisions of that) but our fuel costs are 1/3 what they were in our old drafty home.

Even when we did foster, we never did it for the money. If we had we would have jumped over to therapeutic care (we took the  therapeutic training to use for our foster kiddos to give better care-- but we did county care) which paid 3x the daily rate compared to county care.  We didn't  because we wanted to help kids, not have income from them.

Now, do not think I begrudge anyone who DOES adopt from foster care here and gets a monthly stipend. NOPE-- I am thrilled for you because it's expensive to raise kids. VERY expensive. And that was started here in the US to allow people who could not afford to raise a child or more to their budget to encourage adoption. And I think it's a super thing to do that.

It just doesn't happen to apply to us because we adopted internationally and private domestic for Paisley, so there is no "aid" for us. And we are okay with that. Because we adopted knowing this- we signed the papers saying we would care for them as if they were born of us. And we do.

Because each and every need is met. God is our benefactor. He provides each and every time. Our kids do not go without. Yes, to have all of them we have had to do some budgeting-- we do not have new cars, we have to look at what activities we can afford for them when the issue arises. Just like most every other family out there.

I only address this because it's not only an insult to US, it's a greater insult to GOD that we have these treasures added in by adoption and then to have our own family insinuate they are "making us money" or "government funded." Shame on you family. Shame.

 Everyone in this house honors and serves GOD. 

 Sometimes one of the HARDEST things to do is to understand what we have is GOD'S. Not ours. The house. The funds,  even the children are HIS. And what we try our best to do is honor Him in that.

Hopefully this will clear up once and for all the question of how we have what we have. One word for you (family members)..........................  GOD.

And it's an amazing blessing to have HIM provide each and every time for ALL of our needs. He has never once let any one of us down.  I'll be praying today for peace for losing our precious baby boy 6 years now, and for forgiveness to those who have hurt us with their false tales:(

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The return and a Birthday

Well,  the girls are back. They came off the bus sobbing. First Phoebe, then Kat. I thought "Wow, they really missed us."  UMMM, NO. They did NOT. 

They were sobbing because they missed the camp counselors. Oh yes, they were. I will spare you the pictures of them, red faced and sad:(

So much in fact that they have already written letters to them. Have I mentioned anything before about how dramatic 10, nearly 11 year old girls can be?

Let's just say they had a great time and hopefully will be able to go to camp again someday. At least we know they won't be missing us too much. 

One nice and new thing this year was pictures one teacher uploaded each day so I got to see the girls and know they were at least ok. One picture made me laugh-- everyone sitting around in tee shirts except for my Phoebe, who was sitting sideways, not a bit of her showing from under her poncho which she had the hood up and pulled tight around her face. Not a drop of rain to be seen?

Not sure if she was cold or what?

The girls sang a song they learned on the way home, then cried some more. I got them in the door and busy unpacking so the tears abated. Surprisingly only one load of laundry from them but some very wet and stinky shoes to air out.

Camden had a football game this week, the team won. I got assigned food booth duty for a varsity game this week  because Camden is in football. Not sure how I (verses anyone else in this family) ended up assigned to do this---BUT---It wasn't too bad, it rained very hard right before the game started so not many people came out. 

Today we had a very special surprise for Paisley's birthday. First there was a 5 K walk/ run planned around her day. Called "A piece of cake" 5K. Not only planned just for her birthday but for a BIG surprise, her runner came all the way  from Virginia  to finally meet Paisley in person. 

Cari (Paisley's runner) was paired with Paisley through a group called "I Run 4".  It  pairs up runners with disabled people who can't run. This gives the runner someone to dedicate their miles to and our girl is Cari' s inspiration as she shares her triumph over her daily pain/ difficulties with her arthritis. It a wonderfully positive relationship between them. 

Cari wanted to push Paisley in her chair for the 5k so off they went:) Paisley was thrilled to be able to participate in a way that didn't hurt. Her first ever race!
She got a shirt too. Just like everyone else. 

And after the 5K we had CAKE, of course:) We shared the day with 2 other runners from "I Run 4" as well as another child paired up with a runner. And all the proceeds of the 5K went to a local organization that provides services for disabled people in our community.

Paisley was so surprised to see Cari, they hit it off right away. They shared a medal they won too:)

Later we will have MORE cake and celebrate this big day for Paisley some more, enjoying our girl's birthday and so very thankful we get to share in her life, that she is HERE, not an aged out face of an orphan on someone's advocacy post--- NOPE, not this ONE, God said. No, she is called instead..... daughter. Sister. Cousin. Grand daughter. So very precious.  

Happy Birthday Paisley, you are very loved and very special to us all........

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gone

Not Chase, at least not yet.

THE GIRLS..... the littlest ones.  GASP.

They have gone to Outdoor School for the next 4 days and 3 nights.  

I kid you not.

They were excited, happy, excited, excited. Then Kat cried once on the bus:(

I am not worried about Phoebe, she's up for it. Kat has not been away from us since she was adopted.  Yup.  8 YEARS. Has not spent the night elsewhere except the night of Tristan's passing.

And even then she was with her siblings.

She's got Phoebe, although they are in separate cabins. And study groups. So Phoebe can not dump on Kat to do things for her, and Kat will not be picking on Phoebe. Yes, oh yes, they do those things. (Check out photo below and notice Kat making "bunny ears" on Phoebe's head)

Please understand they are almost 11 year old girls. They do things to each other, not one more than the other from what I can see. Some of it typical, some of it not nice and we have to address (often) and some just girlie drama that they test out on all of us.

Let's just say they will be MISSED for sure and it's going to be AWFULLY quiet around here. No girlie giggles. No talking through every meal till told to be quiet and EAT.

Odd. I don't like it. But I did what was needed. Told them to "Go, have fun" and that they would be back soon.

 Hugged them and sent them off.  Yes, I did. Encouraging them to learn all they could and have the best experience possible. 

 Love them.  Tons and tons.

 So very hard to let them gooooooooooo.............


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sentences

Not JAIL sentences (MOM)--- but actual sentences.

Yes, this is indeed, a punishment in our home. It helps two-fold.  It teaches spelling and makes the "offender" ponder their misdeed over and over and well, OVER.

Many times. Depending on the issue. Sometimes it's as easy as an apology around here.  But sometimes there are issues that return to us and that's when sentences come in to play.

And speaking of play, we do not play favorites. We've had a run lately of "sentence writing" from " I will not yell at my mom" to "I will not be disrespectful" to "I will not be jealous of Phoebe" to "I will listen to my parents."

One certain child is wayyyyyy more stubborn than most, she got to write her 50 sentences  4---- as in FOUR times over.  Yes, she did.

WHY? Because first she misspelled. And was given the opportunity to fix that error easily but added the missing letter by making a total mess of the sentences.

And she did this ON PURPOSE. So 50 more sentences later, she wrote them in anger--- tiny, tiny print till the last one then it was HUGE. 

Was told to "Try again."  Snot is not acceptable. Oh, do they ever try to push the rules.  They are kiddos after all. Typical, snotty, tween/teen children.  They rarely ever surprise me now that I have raised 12+ of them, but they DO secretly (not gonna let them know this) amuse me.

We usually start at 50 sentences, now ours are 10 and up, it used to be 25. And they sit and write till they are done. Pee breaks (and not excessive pee breaks either) ONLY.

Matter of fact, Phoebe was not too thrilled she had to wait to finish her sentences to get supper last night (I didn't say she didn't GET to eat ---MOM) but it sure "hurried" her up.  She was only about 10 minutes behind the others getting supper but she was not happy.

The most sentences anyone got to do this week?  Paisley got to write 200 times that she will not yell at me, yes, indeed she did.  Do I give leniency for her arthritis? No, I do not.

 NOT because I do not care, because I do. BUT because she is fully aware she has arthritis and will be given more and more sentences if the behavior does not stop and she made the choice to continue until she got to 200. So 200 she did.

It's a time for them not just to ponder their problem but also to cool down. I mean, you can't rage while writing or the number you will write goes up and up.  Crying is allowed but not howling (Kat likes to do that one) or the sentences will------- you got it--- increase in number.

Don't worry, the "girls" were not the only ones who got sentences to write, a boy here tried his hand at dishing out some snot and got assigned some as well. Equal opportunity parents we are:) 

Lots of learning going on here this week.  Also changing out the "dish night" rotation to add in Kat and take out Chase, who is barely ever home.

So that's our beginning of fall and week so far.  No more sentences about that.............