Monthly Archives: November 2012

Date night with Rusty

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002Tonight was my “date night” with Rusty. Every Thursday night  is my grocery shopping night. Before Tyler moved in this was my date night with Toby. I would cook a pizza for the kids and leave Gracie in charge. The kids would have a fun, movie night without parents  while Toby and I would be able to do the weekly grocery shopping and run errands without kids. It was a great way to get my shopping done for the week but also get uninterrupted time to talk with my hubby. When we finished our shopping we would go out to dinner before heading home.

Now that Tyler is here we can’t do date nights the same way..because the adoption isn’t finalized we can’t leave Tyler with someone else unless they are over the age of 21 and have all their clearances. Date night with Toby now consists of date night in our bedroom. Wednesday night Toby will pick up a Redbox movie for the kids to watch and we lock ourselves in our bedroom, have a picnic in bed,watch a movie,  and go over bills/calendars/and upcoming events without interruption. It isn’t the same “interruption free” visit that it was with Tyler banging on the door every 10 minutes, yelling, “What are you guys doing in there!? Is date night over yet?!” …but hey it is better than nothing! 🙂

Meanwhile Thursday errand running is now open since Toby can no longer join me so when Tyler moved in I started “date night” with the kids on Thursday night. Each kid gets one Thursday night a month to run errands alone with me. It is our chance to visit and have some alone time. It amazes me how much they open up and want to share when there aren’t siblings around. After we are done with errands they get to pick a treat to get before we go home. Last night was Rusty’s date night..

First stop..the gas station. While I pumped gas Rusty volunteered to clean my windows.

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Next stop..pick up Tyler’s medication refills, grocery shop and look for Rusty’s co-op secret Santa gift.

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Grocery shopping with a helper usually takes longer than if I went alone but it is a lot more entertaining!

Final stop..the hot dog shop.

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French fries with vinegar..YUM. A perfect end to a fun evening with my boy 🙂

Crying over spilt milk…

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It seems as though the last two days have been nothing but tears. I think Toby is the only one who hasn’t had some sort of emotional meltdown. It seems as though everyone is extra sensitive and overly emotional. I realize most of this is due to shear exhaustion after a very busy holiday week. Everyone is tired and on top of that everyone is battling colds and not feeling well. The result is 3 days of playing referee to arguments, hurt feelings and tearful breakdowns.

Tyler has had a tough time since Thanksgiving weekend. I was so proud of how good he was this past weekend and how well he handled the stress and craziness of it all but I feel we are now paying for it. 7 days of being out of a routine was fun but I don’t know if it was worth it. I know part of the problem is that I am tired and I really want to just climb into bed and sleep for a few days rather than deal with the behavior issues as they arise but I know that it is during this time when I really don’t want to fight the battles that it is most important that I do.

Poor Tyler has spent quite a bit of time sitting on the fence post. We have found the “fence post” to be an effective tool in dealing with Tyler’s temper tantrums. When he begins to spin out of control we carry him out to the corner of the field and he has a “time out” on the fence post while Toby or I stand out there with him and talk to him until he calms down. We have found that most of his meltdowns are a result of something deeper but in the midst of his tantrum we can’t always get him to communicate his emotions. There is no reasoning  in that moment so going out to the fence post.. especially when it is dark and cold outside.. is a great way to get him to “cool down” quickly (both figuratively and literally.) When he is through with the tantrum and is calming down we can then talk through what it was that set him off and talk about what we can do differently next time.

There have been so many tears shed in the last few days that I feel like it’s a miracle we aren’t swimming through the house. Here is a sampling of what has been happening here at Patchwork Farm…

1. Tyler had a visit scheduled with his biological brother on Monday. The morning was spent with him in tears begging not to go. I was so frustrated with the county because I had purposely requested a change in his scheduled visit. I knew that after an emotional week-end  the visit would be tough on him. When the driver showed up to take him for the visit ( I’m not allowed to take him. A hired driver must pick him up) he put on his brakes and wouldn’t get into the car. He was on the verge of tears and wouldn’t look at me or respond to my questions. The driver was very empathetic and said that she wasn’t going to force him to go. She kindly said that these things happen all the time and that she would just reschedule the visit. We will try again in December..

Some days are just tough.. poor little boy..

2. Tyler and Rusty have been driving each other crazy lately. I know Rusty isn’t feeling good and so he is less patient then normal with Tyler. When Rusty becomes more sensitive Tyler tends to become more of a tease and it just escalates from there. Yesterday when Rusty wouldn’t share a game with Tyler, Tyler responded by threatening to tell Santa what a bad boy Rusty is…more tears.

Tyler and his new pet, Mimi!

3. Tyler didn’t want to go to our home school co-op yesterday but he went and was fine once we got there. While there he received a frog webkinz from Miss Lana, his history teacher, for a Christmas gift. He was so excited to get home and register it online and start playing with it. He named it Mimi. I did have to hide the scissors though when I found him trying to give it a haircut. He told me that frogs aren’t supposed to be furry so he was going to cut its hair. After I explained that cutting its hair would ruin it he agreed to leave it alone..but I think I’ll keep the scissors hidden for a while just to be safe 🙂

4. The kids woke up yesterday morning to find dead baby bunnies in the rabbit hutch. We didn’t even know we had a pregnant rabbit so finding babies was a shock. Molly shed many tears as she pulled the pink, bald babies out of the hutch to bury them. She is my animal lover and always takes it the hardest when we lose an animal.

5. This morning we  had an eggnog explosion in the dining room. Rusty was all set up for his online literature class with his

Don’t cry over spilt milk..or eggnog!

notebook, computer, and a FULL glass of eggnog when Tyler raced by tripping on the computer cord. The computer knocked into the glass of eggnog sending it flying against the wall. The wall, table, floor and pictures were covered in eggnog. This was the final straw for Rusty who was tired after being kept up all night by Tyler coughing and not feeling well. It was like the eruption after days of build up. Rusty yelled, “Tyler ruins everything!” as he ran from the room in tears. Tyler, devastated by Rusty’s declaration, ran to his room in tears. Me, tired of it ALL, began to cry until I looked down and saw Winnie, who had been caught in the eggnog explosion ,covered in eggnog, happily licking up the mess on the floor. I just had to laugh…

Marjorie Pay Hinckley had it right when she said:

“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”

Enough tears… We are taking the rest of the day off of school… We are going to go play outside in the sunshine and enjoy the blessing of laughter!

Brotherly fun!

Miss Molly

Thanksgiving to Christmas in two hours flat!

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  • Sammy loved Lambert. It was an animal just his size!

Grace and Sammy playing “Hide and Seek” ( Can you find Sammy?)

Sunday morning dawned cold and snowy. Everyone was up at 6 am including all our guests. We were kicking them out the door (not really..well kind of) and heading to holiday celebration #2 at my mom and dad’s house in Ohio. We were going to celebrate Christmas with my sister and her family who wouldn’t be able to come for Christmas on December 25th. Everyone was  on the road by 6:30 am. The back of our car was filled with Christmas presents, sleepy children and a lamb! Lambert is still on a bottle so we had to take him with us. He sat in the back seat with Molly..looking out the window. We received more than one startled look as we passed other cars along the way.

When we arrived at the Homestead the kids stumbled over each other to run and greet their aunts, uncles and cousins that they don’t get to see too often. Aunt Kelly (my sister), Uncle Tom, and their kiddos..Lydia, Nate, Sammy and Noah came in from Michigan and Uncle

Uncle Travis and Ranger

Gracie and Noah..my new nephew:)

Travis (my brother) came to visit from Texas. We just had one day that all of our schedules overlapped and that we would all be at my parent’s home at the same time. We were planning on getting as much visiting, playing, laughing and celebrating into those 12 hours as we could. This was the first time Tyler was meeting his new family. He was nervous about the visit and a bit shy at those initial introductions but it didn’t take him long at all to warm up to everyone! I was able to meet Noah, my newest nephew, for the first time..what a doll! It was such a joy to be together!The kids took off to play and see the farm animals outside. Tyler was so anxious to meet George, my parents’ donkey. He has been talking about George for weeks. On the drive to their house he informed me that he was going to “drive that donkey” when he got there.

The other day we were talking about Christmas gifts and who we needed to buy for. He wanted to know what we were going to buy George for Christmas. I asked him what he thought we should buy George..what do you buy a donkey for Christmas?? He thought about it for a bit then a flash of inspiration lit up his face..”I know!” he said, “We can buy him a frisbee! Then he can throw it for the goats to catch!” Getting into his train of thought I then suggested that perhaps we buy him a soccer ball to play with. Tyler looked at me with disbelief..” Mama..donkeys can’t kick balls.” He walked away shaking his head in disgust at his foolish mother. 🙂

Well, George was everything Tyler hoped he would be. ( No, he did not “drive” him). Molly put Lambert in the pen with the other animals and then joined the other kids in the barn to play on the hay. They had a blast climbing on the hay bales. Toby rearranged the bales of hay to make tunnels for them to climb in and hide in. My Mom decorated the corner of the barn for our “Christmas” dinner and gift exchange…so charming! It was so nice sitting and visiting with my family while we watched the kids climb and play.

Tyler and Lydia..best buddies..peeling hard boiled eggs.

Climbing on the bales of hay.

After letting the kids play for a while it was time to exchange Christmas gifts. Since Kelly’s family won’t be able to join us for Christmas we all gave her family their gifts early and she had our gifts for us so as to keep any of us from having to mail packages. As a result we each had 1 gift to open while her kids had multiple gifts to open from the rest of us. I wasn’t sure how Tyler was going to react to that. I was worried that he would think he had fewer gifts to open because of some  reason other than the real one. Toby pulled him aside ahead of time and explained that it wasn’t really Christmas and that we were just exchanging gifts with Aunt Kelly and Uncle Tom. He handled it so well. He opened his gift from them, a Nerf gun, and loved it! He ran off to play with it in the hay while everyone else continued to open gifts. It was a lot of fun and everyone was thrilled with the gifts they received. After exchanging gifts we headed back to the house. The temperature was dropping and it was too cold to eat in the barn like we had originally planned. We had a delicious dinner and then played “Telestrations” as a family. What a fun game! I don’t know when I have laughed so much. When it was time to leave Tyler was devastated. “Why can’t we spend the night like Lydia?” ( his new favorite cousin) he wanted to know. It was hard saying goodbye after such a short visit but I was so grateful that we were able to have that time together regardless of how short the visit was.

What a busy 6 days we had..it was so much fun..but boy do I need a nap! As I look at the wonderful time we have had, the sweet memories we have made, the wonderful families we are both blessed with, and all that went well with Tyler and his first Thanksgiving with us I feel like a millionaire! How truly, truly blessed I am…

Cousins!!

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”                                                                                – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Buttermilk Falls

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About 10 minutes from our home we have a little hidden gem known as Buttermilk Falls. With Toby’s family in town we were looking for something fun to do as a group and decided it would be fun to pack a picnic lunch and hike the short path up to the falls to eat. It was another beautiful day and the weather was perfect for a hike!

The group headed up to the falls..

Molly

Rusty

The boys enjoyed climbing on the rocks and the cliffs!

There wasn’t as much water coming over the falls compared to other times of the year but the kids and adults still had fun hiking behind it to have their picture taken! It was a good thing we went when we did because the next day turned cold and snowy…Brrrrr.

Fish sticks for Thanksgiving dinner

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Fish sticks for Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving arrived along with Toby’s family and some beautiful weather. We had two of Toby’s cousins staying at our home along with their families. The kids were so excited at the prospect of cousins to play with. Our visitors arrived Wednesday night and we enjoyed a quiet evening getting reacquainted (well.. as quiet as you can get with 9 kiddos running around the house) before we joined with the rest of the family for Thanksgiving day.

Rusty LOVED the little motor bike. We were proud of how brave and independent he was..my little boy is growing up!

Thanksgiving day was beautiful. The sun was out and after a morning brunch of breakfast casseroles, fruit and muffins we had time to play while we waited for the “crunch time” that comes right before dinner is served up. The kids had fun playing together, feeding the farm animals, and riding the ATVs and the dirt bike we borrowed from a friend.  The adults

Grace taking Tyler for a ride.

enjoyed the outdoor toys too!Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and came together without too much stress thanks to  many hands working together to make it happen. We decorated the tables with brown paper and had a crayon at each place for everyone to write or draw pictures of what they were grateful for. The kids loved being able to color on the tables.

For dinner we had all the usual favorites..turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, sweet potato casserole, homemade rolls, fish sticks….yes, you read that right..fishsticks 🙂 In preparation for Thanksgiving we were working with Tyler to prepare him for the holiday and the visitors we had coming. We knew that this might be a hard or stressful holiday for him being away from all he knew or was familiar with so we wanted to incorporate some of those Thanksgiving traditions that he loved and would want to continue into our Thanksgiving so we asked him

Our Thanksgiving table.

what his favorite Thanksgiving food was. I told him that I would make sure we had it. He said he loved the fish sticks at Thanksgiving. Fish sticks..hmmm…I told him that was an unusual choice for Thanksgiving. He looked at me like he couldn’t believe it wasn’t always on our holiday table and said, “Well, the indians ate fish.” Yes, I guess they did. 🙂 So sitting alongside the usual trimmings was the newest holiday dinner tradition..fish sticks.

Tyler requested fish sticks for Thanksgiving dinner!

After dinner we cleaned up which due to the wise use of paper plates and plastic cutlery was an easy job! After dinner we started a fire in the fire pit outside and enjoyed  sitting around the fire visiting and roasting marshmallows. When the temperature began to drop we headed inside for the kids’ gift exchange and the adult’s white elephant gift exchange. Rusty and Tyler each received homemade marshmallow shooter guns with a bag of mini marshmallows. They were a huge hit with the boys and with Winnie who would chase and then devour the ammunition as it shot across the room. Molly received a peace sign decal for her bedroom wall and Gracie got a beautiful scarf.

Tyler did wonderfully. He handled the craziness of the day like a trooper and wasn’t nearly as overwhelmed or anxious as I expected. The many prayers I have been sending heavenward over the last few weeks were answered and it was truly a blessed first Thanksgiving with Tyler. That night as I tucked him into bed he asked me to lay with him. I said we could snuggle for a little bit. He asked me what snuggling was. I told him it was sitting close together and hugging each other. He said, “I like to do that with you, Mommy.”

“I like to do that with you too, Tyler.”

After a wonderful but very busy day it was so peaceful to lay in the darkened room, snuggling my little boy as I thought back on the day and counted the many blessings I have to be thankful for!

Burdens or Blessings

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Burdens or Blessings

Tyler, my big helper!

I have discovered that one of the things that determines my attitude or perspective on things is fatigue. It is very easy to lose perspective when you are overwhelmed and sleep deprived.

The last dew days have been incredibly busy with school assignments, Thanksgiving preparations, cleaning, baking, shopping, appointments, social worker visits and paperwork. I found I was crawling into bed at night thinking, “I can’t wait until this week is over.” I hate feeling that way..wishing my days away. I find myself postponing joy..thinking about how I long for a quiet day, a week with no obligations, a month where nothing is asked of me and I can just be still. As I pondered the emotions I was dealing with I realized that although I feel that the answer is quieter days I realize the real answer is a change of perspective. Life is full, life is busy and chances are they will be for many years to come. I don’t want to wish away these days waiting for simpler ones. So what is the answer??

First..prioritize. I have to trim the fat. I have to learn that it is ok to say “No.” So much of my fatigue and stress is self-inflicted. For example I will find myself bemoaning the length of my “to do” list as I wrap crayons in fall  paper for the Thanksgiving table..will I never learn?!

Second..turn to the source of all creativity, energy and ability. I find that when life gets busy and I get overwhelmed my quiet time with the Lord is the first thing I drop in my day when in reality it is during these busy seasons of our life when that time with the Lord needs to be  a priority. How often do I need to learn this lesson before it sinks in..

Third…choose what you will focus on.

Gracie filling out her leaves for the gratitude tree

As I was out grocery shopping last night battling the hoards of fellow shoppers who also thought shopping Tuesday night would be a great idea I found myself mentally grumbling about the crowds, the cost, the late hour and long lines and I realized I had a choice. I could choose to see the burdens or the blessings of that moment.

I could complain about the rising costs of groceries or I could give thanks that I live in a land where I can walk into a store and have access to  shelves full of food and that we have money in our checking account to purchase food.

I could complain about the crowds I have to battle in the isles or I could give thanks for the fact that I have a husband at home who is willing to watch the kids so I can shop alone.

I could complain about the long lines or I could give thanks that I have legs stong enough to hold me as I stand in line and that I’m not walking with crutches or sitting  in a wheelchair.

The list goes on and on..

I can complain about the cost of gas or I can give thanks for the car I have and that I do not have to walk everywhere I go.

I can complain about another dirty shirt being thrown in the laundry basket after I thought I was finally caught up on laundry or I can give thanks for the fact that I have children to dirty clothes and that I have a washing machine to wash them in.

I can complain about a sink full of dirty dishes or I can give thanks for  the fact that we have food to get those dishes dirty.

I can complain about Toby’s busy days and late nights or I can give thanks that he indeed has a job.

Tyler helping me make treats for our Thanksgiving table.

I can complain about school requirements and assignments or I can give thanks for the opportunity I have to home school and teach my children.

I can complain about the cleaning that needs to be done or I can give thanks that I have a home where we life a full, happy, messy life.

There is joy to be found in all things. Change your mindset to one of gratitude and thanksgiving and you will be amazed at how the burdens will be lifted. As one author penned:

“Thank heavens for dirty dishes. They have a tale to tell.While other folks go hungry we are eating very well. With home and health and happiness we shouldn’t want to fuss..by this stack of evidence God’s very good to us.”

The gratitude tree that hangs on my bedroom door. It is a good reminder of all the things we have to be thankful for. The two large leaves in the middle are Tyler’s..he wrote Bailey and Lambert on his leaves 🙂

24 hours of non-stop fun..or craziness..

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24 hours of non-stop fun..or craziness..

Rusty..all packed and ready to camp!

It all began at 6:00pm Friday night when Toby arrived home, quickly loaded up the camping supplies that Rusty had sitting by the front door and headed out. They were off to Rusty’s first Boy Scout camp out. Toby was such a good sport about it. I know he would have much rather spent the night in his own bed after a long day of hard work than sleeping on the cold ground outside. Once they left it was just the girls and Tyler and I. Tyler was disappointed to be left home with the girls so as a treat we rented the Lorax movie. When it was his bedtime I tucked him in and got to work. I had big plans for the night. I took advantage of the fact Toby was gone and planned to tackle my “to do” list for Thanksgiving. Every now and then I do this..especially when I am feeling overwhelmed and am struggling to get caught up.. I just pull an “all nighter” and work through the night. I usually pay for it the next day but I do feel so much better emotionally to just get the things done that I am wasting energy dreading. I turn on a fun movie and work through the night. I love it and find that I am 100 % more productive when nobody is awake. I am not interrupted to answer questions, pour drinks, make snacks, listen to complaints, etc. It is just me, a quiet house and no distractions. I so enjoy that quiet time when I can just work and think. I was able to accomplish a lot but around 4:30am I could feel myself hitting the proverbial “wall” so I thought to myself “I’ll just lay down and sleep for a few hours until Tyler gets up.” An hour later Tyler comes bounding into the room ready to begin his day. Oh well, that hour of sleep was nice. 🙂

We had to leave the house by 9:00 for a busy morning. The girls were meeting the other teenagers from church to rake leaves for a widow who has many, many trees. They do it every year and really enjoy the service project. Afterword the woman thanks them with cocoa and donuts. I dropped them off to work and took Tyler to church for the Christmas Santa Workshop they planned for the 3-11 year old children at church. Toby was going to drop off Rusty there after the campout and then head to Home Depot to buy fencing to finish our fence before family comes in for Thanksgiving.

The boys being “crafty”

Tyler’s handprints. Yes, those are two right hands..he only wanted to get one hand dirty 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The craft day for the kids was wonderful! The women who planned it put so much time and effort into making it a wonderful activity. There were 9 stations that the kids could go to and make a craft that they then got to wrap up and take home as a Christmas gift for a loved one. There was Christmas music playing and had a fun, festive atmosphere. Tyler made it through 6 stations before he declared he was done and wanted to go play outside. He lasted longer then I expected. Although crafts aren’t really his favorite thing I was proud of how well he did!

After all the kids were done with their morning activities we headed home to work on outdoor projects before the girls and I had to leave for another activity in the evening. Toby worked on the fence while the kids and I worked our way through a multitude of outdoor projects.

One of the chores for the day was bathing Winnie after she has fun playing in ashes!

In the evening the girls and I had the “Young Women in Excellence” program at church where we have the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of the young ladies in the area. We arrived at the event to find out that I was supposed to decorate a table to display the projects and achievements of the teenage girls from our church..must have missed that memo..Uh Oh. I looked around the room to see the beautiful displays other women have come up with. I quickly headed out to the car with Grace and Molly to see what we had in the car that could be turned into a centerpiece. I felt as though I was in some sort of decorating reality show..”All right, contestants, you have 5 minutes to decorate a table using only the objects you can find in your car.”  In the car we had very slim pickings. I had the school supplies from our Wednesday home school co-op that I hadn’t carried in yet or the crafts that the boys had done that morning, a rake, some gum wrappers, a tornado simulator and playdoh..hmmm. I could sculpt something out of play dough or make a centerpiece out of the spare tire and rakes like a faux flower arrangement or create an abstract  piece of pop art using gum wrappers and stale french fries..what to do, what to do. I ended up using colored tissue paper on the table then sprinkling fake jewels and plastic jewelry across it. Oh well, it all worked out in the end and I was once again taught a lesson in humility and letting go of the need for other’s approval. God is really working on the “people pleasing” part of me that I struggle with. 🙂

My beautiful daughters.

It ended up being a wonderful night and I was grateful to get that special time with my girls. We were back home around 9:00pm. We prepared the kids for bed, said prayers, and had a bedtime story. As Toby lifted Tyler into his arms to carry him to bed I heard Tyler say, “I love you Daddy! You’re the best man in the world!”

You know what ,Tyler, you are right. You are absolutely right!

Sweet rewards

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Sweet rewards

Last night we had a wonderful surprise..Tyler slept through the night! Ever since the time change Tyler has had a hard time adjusting to the fact that it is not sunny out when he wakes up at his usual 6:30/7:00 am time so anytime he wakes up in the night he assumes it is morning because now it is dark when he wakes up. As a result starting around 2:00am we hear BANG  BANG..”WAKE UP IT’S MORNING TIME!” . Toby climbs out of bed, tucks Tyler back it while Tyler insists that it is morning time, and goes back to sleep for an hour or so until Tyler tries again. Toby then says to me, “Today for school could you please teach Tyler how to read a clock?” 🙂 Last night we put a digital clock next to his bed and told him that he couldn’t come out of his room until the first number turned 7. It worked! At 7:08 he came bounding out of his room and proudly declared that he waited until morning to wake up.

It was a good thing we had a restful night sleep because this morning was his bimonthly therapy appointment. I was praying this appointment would go smoother than the last one..

Last appointment started out well but it didn’t end well. Tyler went into his appointment without a fight. He invited Rusty to come along on our “date”, as we call it. Every therapy appointment day we go out for an ice cream cone after his appointment if it goes well and he behaves. This time he invited Rusty to come along.  About halfway through the appointment the door opened and the therapist said, “Mrs. McCleery, I need you to come in and deal with this.” (Those dreaded words) I walked into the following scene..Tyler in the corner refusing to come out and game pieces scattered around the therapist’s room. She informed me that Tyler refused to clean up the game and when she tried to make him he began to temper tantrum and that I needed to “deal with this”. I looked at her, bit my tongue and thought to myself, “I can’t believe we pay for this bimonthly experience.” I felt as though I was refereeing  two squabbling kids rather than speaking to a licensed therapist but I did as she said and “dealt” with Tyler. I picked him up and carried him out of the office and his kicked and wiggled and cried. I was grateful I wore my tennis shoes instead of heels. (I learned my lesson after the first appointment ) As we walked past the front desk I told Rusty he was going to have to set up our next appointment as I carried Tyler to the car. (For those of you who know Rusty’s history you will note the irony of Rusty speaking to the receptionist and setting up Tyler’s next therapy appointment.)  🙂

When we were settled in the car waiting for Rusty I tried to get Tyler to tell me what happened..but to no avail. We have come so far and yet we still have these moments where I am at a loss as to how to deal with these situations. Do I punish the behavior..do I sympathize with the emotions he is battling..so I pray. I don’t know what to do, but I know someone who does. We are trying to teach Tyler that there are consequences for choices and with that in mind I drove to the McDonald’s drive thru. I ordered two ice cream cones. Tyler perked up. Suddenly he was happy and animated. I pulled up to the window and handed the first cone that came out  to Rusty and then took the second cone and begin to eat it as we pulled away. Tyler suddenly realized what it all meant and he began to cry. He didn’t say a word he just sobbed..sobbed the entire way home. It broke my heart and it took everything I had to keep eating that cone. When we arrived home I lifted him in my arms and hugged him. I told him I loved him and that I was sorry he missed out on getting an ice cream cone but the good news was that there would be another appointment and another chance to make a good choice. He hugged me back and said he was sorry.

Sometimes being a mother is so hard and the right choice is rarely the easy choice. I wanted desperately to buy him a cone but because I love him I couldn’t. I could have driven home without buying any cones but Rusty earned his cone and would the lesson have had the same impact if he didn’t watch Rusty eat his cone..I don’t know. All I know is that I followed the promptings I received and hoped it was the right decision.

Fast forward to this morning..

We arrived at therapy. Tyler went it without a fight. He followed directions, remained in the room for the entire time and I wasn’t called in to break up any fights. A successful day.. so afterward we all had ice cream!

In other news:

Tyler’s new school books!

Tyler received his new kindergarten materials. After talking to the school we have decided it would be in his best interest to move him back to Kindergarten. I think with all things considered like his young age, his many transitions and the holes I see in his education history it will be for the best. I was thrilled to learn that the kindergarten teacher that will be overseeing him will be the same teacher that the girls had when they were little. I love her and am thrilled that I get to work with her again!

Rusty and his dog, Brownie.

Tonight will be Rusty’s first overnight campout now that he is a boy scout. Toby will be going with him. He is so excited and was thrilled to learn that for dinner they are cooking steaks over the fire! Wow..I’m jealous..well maybe not about sleeping in a tent when it is 30 degrees outside but definitely about the steaks 🙂 I think it will be wonderful for Rusty and Toby to have some one on one time together and for Rusty to have Toby’s undivided attention for the night…and I have my own big plans for the night!

PS- Any guesses what Gracie has been reading lately?

Gracie’s homemade wand made with glue, beads and paint.

9 days and counting..

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9 days and counting..

Thanksgiving is almost here and by the looks of my home you would never know that we are having Toby’s extended family coming  to visit in 9

Molly organized the schoolroom.

days!  Yesterday we were off school for the day but much to my children’s disappointment it was not a holiday..it was a project day! We had much to accomplish and what I would have spent weeks working on a little at a time, marathon style, was crammed into a 10 hour sprint! It is amazing how much harder it is to get housework done now that we have added a 6-year-old to the mix. My days of locking myself in a room to clean while the other kids entertained themselves is long gone..not that I’m complaining..I am thrilled Tyler wants to be with me every hour of everyday…BUT I haven’t figured out how to get ready for a houseful of holiday visitors with this new life change as well as homeschooling them all. As a result the projects that I should have been working on for weeks were squeezed into a day. Tyler was a trooper and such a good sport about it all. The older kids were cleaning machines! I think I could rent them out for a little side cash 🙂

Gracie’s room

Molly’s room

To add some incentive I made a list of all that I wanted to accomplish from big tasks like cleaning out closets and steam cleaning carpets to smaller tasks like wiping down light switches and organizing the tupperware drawer then assigned a monetary reward to each job done. I posted the list and the kids started picking the jobs they wanted by putting

The playroom

their names next to those jobs. We turned on some music, pulled out the cleaning supplies and went to work! When the kids would finish a job they would come get me so I could inspect the job they did and if they passed then they would be paid .25, .50, or $1.00 based on the job they did.

Normally I don’t pay the kids for helping around the house but this was a very effective way to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time and because they don’t normally get paid for cleaning it added to the novelty of it all. We accomplished an amazing amount and by 7:00pm we were all ready for bed.

While we have been preparing the inside of the house for company Toby has been tackling projects outside. Toby built a new garage this summer and has been undertaking the HUGE job of moving all his things from the old  building

Toby tearing down the old building..Tyler supervising!

to his  new workshop and tearing down the old building before company arrives.

You would think that Winnie cleaned the entire house single-handedly by the way she collapsed at the end of the day!

Everyone slept well last night after a day of many projects!

We’ve come a long way, baby!

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We’ve come a long way, baby!

Tyler’s second visit with us before he moved in.

This weekend was full of successful firsts..

1. Tyler’s had his first appointment with his new psychiatrist. It went so well. Toby and I both took him in case there was a meltdown and one of us would have to take him out while the other stayed to talk with the doctor.. but it wasn’t even necessary. He walked into the office without an argument, climbed on the scale to be weighed and measured then sat calmly on Toby’s lap while we spoke with the doctor. I was pleased that the doctor let us stay in the room with him the entire time. Tyler was so well-behaved and I was very proud of him. What a long way we have come from his first appointment with the therapist when he refused to go in and the appointment ended with everyone crying except the therapist! (Although she was the cause on most of our tears!)

2. Tyler made it though an entire Sunday church service for the first time since he moved in. He went to church without a fight and he was wearing clothes..woohoo! He has given up on the whole” pajamas for church” idea. He sat through the service and went to class without a fight. Toby went with him because he still won’t go into class by himself but he was well-behaved and even participated and raised his hand to answer questions. Our next goal is to get him comfortable enough to go to class by himself because Toby is ready for some adult interaction on Sundays. 🙂

Tyler’s 3rd visit

3. We have had almost an entire week of easy bedtimes with Tyler. Bedtimes were always the hardest time of the day. They usually dragged on for an hour or two before we all were all so exhausted from the fight that we dropped where we stood and fell asleep. 😉 Tyler would fight us, tantrum, cry, climb out of bed, trash the room, etc. before he would wear himself out.. but this last week we have read him his story, said bedtime prayers, and tucked him in and he went straight to sleep with no fight. What a blessing that has been. It is so hard to fight the good fight when you are running on empty.

Our first weekend visit with Tyler.

Two weeks ago we had a visit  with the county social worker and she was asking how things were going. Her visit followed soon after Tyler’s “sit out” where we waited 3 hours for him to get into his booster seat and buckle up. As I told her about the incident and how we handled it and the end result her response was..”Oh, so are you going to keep him or should we start looking for a new placement.” I couldn’t believe it. “Of course we are going to keep him,” I replied.  I was shocked that she would assume that a temper tantrum would cause us to give up and throw in the towel. She told me it happens all the time. I look at Tyler’s history and I guess that is true when I see the number of foster homes he went through before he came to us. It breaks my heart to see how quickly we, as people,  give up on others when things quit being “fun” and start getting hard.

Love is about commitment. It’s about staying in it for the long haul and not giving up on those we love when they let us down, or disappoint us, or when it stops being easy. If we had given up on Tyler after that tantrum just look at all the progress and growth we would have missed. I know this process of adoption is full of successes and setbacks and will continue to be as we move forward…but isn’t that what being a family is all about. Family is about not giving up on each other or on ourselves during those dark times because if we “jump ship” during the storms of life then we will never get to experience the sunshine that comes after the storm.

Our first week with Tyler was spent on a houseboat!

“Being a family means you are part of something wonderful. It means you will love and be loved the rest of your life..no matter what.”

“When you are tempted to lose patience with someone, think how patient God has been with you.”

Tyler after two months with us..and all his farmyard friends.