Monthly Archives: January 2013

A mute journey..

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Rusty with Tigger at Disney World- 2011

Last week I had the opportunity to share with another mother the journey we have traveled with Rusty and his Selective Mutism. I love how God puts people in our lives at just the right moment to be a resource and support to us when we need it most. I have had these “God moments” so many times in my life and it has always been a confirmation of God’s love and awareness of me and my struggles when that happens. Sometimes we are given the opportunity to be that answered prayer for another. One of the greatest blessings that comes from our own struggles and trials is the chance to be able to say to another person going through that same trial, “I understand..I’ve been there..You are not alone.”

A few weeks ago during a visit with one of our social workers I casually mentioned Rusty’s struggle with Selective Mutism when he was younger. She was astounded to find out that Rusty had been diagnosed with Selective Mutism and said that she had another family that she works with that just found out their daughter has selective mutism. She asked if she could pass on my phone number to that family so that they could call and speak to me about it. I happily agreed and a week later received a phone call from that mother.

As I spoke to that mother, so new to the world of Selective Mutism, I was taken back in time. As she shared her frustrations I heard her echoing the words I spoke years ago. As she shared her worries I was taken back in time to the many sleepless nights I experienced as I worried about Rusty’s future. As she poured out her heart and I heard myself in her words. We spoke for two hours. She is at the beginning of her journey..I am at the end. She doesn’t know what the road ahead holds. She is scared to begin the journey..scared of the hills that they are going to have to climb and worried about how long the journey will take. I remember being there. I remember Rusty being unable to speak to anyone except Toby, Gracie, Molly and I.  I remember being unable to get him to smile for pictures or hug loved ones. I remember the challenges of church and school classes when he couldn’t speak to his teachers or his peers. I remember worrying about his future and his ability to make friends. I remember the overwhelming fear that kept me up at night as I thought about somebody grabbing him in a store and he not being able to call out for help. I remember the begging, the bribing, the threats that were issued by us in an effort to get him to speak. I remember the relief and answers that came with the diagnoses. I was where that mother now stands..I remember.

But I also remember all of the “God moments” along the way…all of the small victories, all the baby steps of achievement, all of the people.. such wonderful people.. and resources God put in our path, and all of the blessings that came with that journey. Now here we are a few years later and it all seems a distant memory. People that meet Rusty now would never know that at one time in his life he was signing thank you because he couldn’t say it, he was recording messages on a tape recorder so he could talk to his friends, he was carrying notecards that said “yes” and “no” in his pocket so he could hold them up to answer the questions of his teachers. How far we have traveled..how good God has been..

As I spoke to that mother I shared what I learned along the way. I shared the books I found to be helpful, the tools we used to help Rusty communicate, the doctors and therapists we found to be effective but mainly I just listened. I listened as she poured out her heart, her fears, her worries and insecurities as a mother. I listened as she cried and then I told her that I understood.. and I did. I remember all too well the place where she now stands and then, by sharing my journey, she was able to catch a glimpse of where she will be standing one day. She will be where I am..looking back in wonder at how far her daughter has come..amazed at the multitude of answered prayers and small victories that brought about recovery. She will then be able to say to the next mother, “I understand…I’ve been there…You are not alone.”

 

“By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer we often find the answers to our own”

– Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This and that..

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I spent the weekend at a scrapbooking retreat with 10 other ladies. This is my 10th year attending and it is one of the highlights of my year. It takes place at a beautiful old bible college and is a wonderful opportunity to catch up on scrapbook pages, relax and laugh with friends. While I was packing the car to leave Tyler asked why I had to go and I told him so I could start making his scrapbook. He was excited to find out that he was going to get a scrapbook like the other kids. When I returned home Tyler was anxious to see his new scrapbook!

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He found some of the pictures quite funny!

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He was so excited he had to jump for joy!

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This morning when Rusty woke up he decided that although Bailey was doing much better she was still looking too skinny so he decided to fix her a custom breakfast meant to fatten her up. Bailey loved Rusty’s homemade breakfast!

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In the morning we had a visit from our social worker, Jillian. She is a social worker from our adoption agency and of all the social workers/advocates we have visiting us on a weekly basis she is our favorite. We were disappointed to find out that she is no longer going to be working with us. She is resigning from her current job to work at a teen home doing drug and alcohol counseling. She will be wonderful at that but I am crushed to be losing her. She is so good at what she does.

Toby was working from home yesterday. He is building custom countertops for the kitchen he is renovating so he was working in his workshop yesterday. The kids loved having Daddy close by. During lunch break Toby helped Gracie with her music lesson. She had to make a homemade instrument for one of her music lessons so she and Toby worked on it together.

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The completed instrument..

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Later in the day the three littlest kid went outside to play the game they have been working on. They have invented a make believe game that involves mermaids, a magic notebook and pirates. Rusty tried to explain it to me but I was lost. It has kept them entertained for weeks, though, and whenever they have a free minute they are outside continuing their game.

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Molly is the creator of this imaginary game..are you surprised? 🙂

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While the younger kids were outside playing Gracie decided to work on an art project. Last Sunday there was a “Think Pink” lesson on the values the girls should be working on in their personal progress. Gracie decided to paint a picture to hang in her room as a reminder..

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Yesterday was Rusty’s day to make dinner and have his “one on one” time with me. For dinner he made chicken alfredo casserole and cooked a spaghetti squash..yum!

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For his “one on one” time with me he wanted to do some projects from the chemistry kit he recieved for Christmas. One of the experiments we did was to make homemade bubbles..

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It worked!

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After dinner we had family night. Our lesson was on choices and how with every choice..both good and bad..comes a consequence. We played a game where the kids had to pick the consequences that matched the choice I read by standing under the letter of the answer they thought was correct.
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For our treat we had chocolate fondue so the kids had the opportunity to “choose” their chocolate treats. They loved that!

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Some of them made good choices like pineapple or pretzels dipped in chocolate. Some..not so good…082

Gracie experienced the natural consequence of dipping a pickle in chocolate..she had to eat it..

She actually said it was pretty good 🙂

Dear God..you are nice!

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094Sometimes “teachable moments”…”learning moments”..”growing moments” come at the most unexpected and often inopportune times. This morning was our weekly home school co-op. All was going smoothly. Tyler was dressed, bags were by the front door waiting to be carried out, animals had been fed, and lunches were packed. We were right on schedule..that is until Miss Molly went downstairs to feed the bunnies and discovered one of the babies had gone AWOL. She called to us to come downstairs and join her in the hunt for the little runaway. Initially we weren’t too panicked because we have had this happen a few times in the past few days. Now that they can move around we have had multiple babies escape the hutch to go exploring around the basement. The first time 3 escaped we found them under the freezer snuggled up to the motor (to keep warm). This time, however, the missing bunny was not hiding in the usual spots. We began looking..under boxes, behind boxes, under boxes..to no avail. As time passed we were all getting more and more nervous. It was then that Tyler exclaimed, “Hey, we should say a prayer!”  I couldn’t believe Tyler suggested it. It amazes me how far he has come. He came to us with no concept of prayer or God to recognizing the need for it and trusting in its power. We stopped and prayed. Tyler then wanted to know how it was going to work. “Is God going to talk to us, Momma?” I explained to him that we weren’t going to hear a voice instead God speaks to us through feelings and ideas. I told him that maybe God would put a thought in our minds of where we should look. We continued to search the basement. Tyler had such faith that at any moment that little bunny was going to show up but as time passed he began to worry…

“Momma, what if God doesn’t talk to us?”

“Momma, what if God doesn’t want us to get the bunny?”

Momma, what if we can hear God ’cause he whispers?”

“Momma, I think God told me the bunny is dead.”

As I watched his faith waiver and fear close in I prayed. I knew there was a chance the bunny had died or was lost for good but I prayed like I have never prayed for a bunny before. 🙂 I knew that moment was critical for Tyler. He was stepping out in faith. Here was a little boy who has struggled with trust issues for years because all he had known in his short life were disappointments, neglect and broken promises. Here was a boy who was just beginning to believe in my promises and trust in my word and here he was willing to step out in faith and trust that his Heavenly Father, who he is just beginning to learn about and know, could be trusted…could be counted on.

As the search grew longer and more hopeless I prayed that Tyler’s prayer would be answered. “Please, Lord,” I prayed “answer his prayer. Show him your goodness so that he can gain a testimony of the power of prayer.” For me, it wasn’t about the bunny, it was about Tyler’s spiritual journey. I thought to myself, “Lord, if there was ever a time to answer “yes” to a prayer this is it.” I prayed as we searched. After an hour and a half it was time to stop looking. We were already late for co-op and everyone was discouraged. As we walked up the stairs to put on our coats and shoes Tyler said, “Momma, it didn’t work..”

I have heard it said that God answers our prayers one of 3 ways:

1. Yes

2. Not yet

3. I have something better in mind.

I had to trust that God had something better in mind. In all of my human frailties I couldn’t see it in that moment but I know that God loves Tyler even more that I do and if he chose to not reveal that baby bunny in that moment He must have had a good reason. Tyler, though, felt let down, unheard, and abandoned.

We went to co-op (late) but had a great day..Tyler’s best day yet. He was such a good boy and I was very proud of him.

When we arrived home the kids ran downstairs hoping to find the missing bunny. Sure enough, there it sat, right by the cage. Everyone was thrilled..especially Tyler.

“We need to thank God, Momma!” he said.

I explained we thank God by praying to him. Tyler told me he was going to pray then..

“Dear God..” he prayed “You are nice!”

Amen!

My God is nice. My God is good. Sometimes we forget that in those dark moments when we are searching for something. Sometimes we forget that He is always there, He is always listening, He always cares, and He always answers.. even when it is a prayer by a six-year-old boy who has lost his bunny…perhaps, especially when it is a six-year-old boy who has lost his bunny!

 

Saturday projects

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“Saturday is a special day. It’s the day we get ready for Sunday:

We clean the house, and we shop at the store, so we won’t have to work until Monday.

We brush our clothes, and we shine our shoes,

And we call it our get-the-work-done day.

Then we trim our nails, and we shampoo our hair,

So we can be ready for Sunday.”

– Children’s Songbook

Saturday is a special day. It’s the day we get ready for Sunday…OK, this Saturday we didn’t do any clothes brushing or shoe shining but we did have a wonderful “get-the-work-done” day. We had nowhere to go and much to do on Saturday so we made it a day of projects. It was my favorite sort of day. The sun was out, Toby was home, and we were able to work together as a family. Here is a look at our day:

The morning began with a roast and vegetables being put in the crock pot for dinner. There is no better feeling than knowing dinner is cooking and will be ready to eat after working hard all day!

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Next, candles were lit so the house would smell nice as we worked.

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Then it was time to get to work. The kids’ first job was to do a good room cleaning in their bedrooms. While they worked on their rooms I cleaned the livingroom/kitchen.

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With the music playing as we worked we of course had to occasionally stop for a dance break 🙂

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While the kids and I were working inside Toby was working in the workshop outside. Toby built a workshop this summer to replace the pole building he tore down. He now has it all loaded and set up so he spent the day organizing it so he can finally enjoy it and begin working on projects.

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When the kids’ bedrooms were clean they decided to enjoy the snack they had prepared earlier. This week while grocery shopping we picked up a pack of the yogurt smoothie drinks that were on sale. Basically they are liquid yogurt. Tyler picked them out and it is a good thing we only bought one pack because the kids all gagged when they tried them. Rather than waste them I suggested they try pouring them in a cup and freezing them.. so their mid-morning treat was frozen yogurt. They said it was much better frozen!

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As I was cleaning out the fridge I discovered a pineapple that had gone bad. I cut is up to feed to the animals. Harley was especially thrilled..pineapple is his favorite treat!

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This afternoon Gracie had fun making origami sun catchers to hang in her window. They looked so pretty!

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One of Toby’s projects for the day was putting up my clothesline. We had to take it down while the workshop was being built so I was excited to get it put up again.
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When Tyler came in he wanted to watch a movie. He picked out The Lion King. He had never seen it before and ended up loving it! I think it might be his new favorite 🙂

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When Toby came in he took on the task of cutting the boys’ hair. They were both looking a little shaggy!

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While Toby was playing barber shop with the boys Gracie helped me in the kitchen. We were almost out of laundry soap so Gracie volunteered to help me make some more. We have been using the Duggar family recipe for years and love it. For a couple of dollars I can make enough laundry soap to last us 2 months. Here is how we do it:

Step 1: Grate 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap with a cheese grater.

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Step 2: Put the grated soap into a saucepan and cover with HOT water. Cook over med-low heat, stirring continually, until melted.

Step 3: Put 1 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax in a 5 gallon bucket.

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Step 3: Pour melted soap in the 5 gallon bucket. Add a few drops of scented oil (for soap or candles) and stir until the powder is dissolved.

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Step 4: Fill the bucket to the top with hot water and let it sit overnight. The next day mix equal parts of the laundry soap and water in smaller containers for easier use. Shake well each time you use. Front loaders: 1/3 cup per load. Top loaders 1 cup per load.

We ended out day with a warm dinner, good conversation and the satisfaction of being able to cross a few things off of the perpetual “to do” list.

…”Then we trimmed our nails, and we shampooed our hair, so we could be ready for Sunday!”

First bunnies..now baby hippos!

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This morning began with us oversleeping. Waking up from a deep sleep into a full-blown panic after looking at the clock and realizing the alarm never went off (The digital one or Tyler) I raced to wake up kids so they could get on their computers for their online classes. We had 15 minutes to wake Tyler and get him onto his online phonics class. He handled it well and sat in front of the computer with his bowl of cereal.. all without fighting me. Yea!!

After Tyler finished his online class Molly went outside to check on the new baby bunnies and came in frantic. “The babies are missing!” she yelled in the front door before she tore off across the yard back to the rabbit hutch. We followed. I prayed as I walked that they would be found alive and well. As we began the search and rescue process we discovered that they had fallen through a crack in the bunny hutch and had fallen to the ground. There they were huddled in the corner..a pile of baby bunnies. Overcome with relief Molly patched the hole and tucked the babies back into their nest.

Gracie and the baby bunnies.

Gracie and the baby bunnies.

Later that afternoon when piano lessons were completed Molly went back outside to make sure that the babies hadn’t somehow fallen out of the hutch again. She came running back to the house where she whispered that she needed me outside..”right now!” I followed her outside. She was in tears as she showed me the lifeless body of a baby bunny..but it wasn’t one of the furry two-week old babies it was a tiny bald body of a newborn baby. I assumed it was the body of a baby born with the litter that hadn’t survived until Molly reached in the hutch to check on the bunnies and found a bald wiggling baby in the nest with the other babies. Yes, that is right, we had litter # 2 born today.  Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Our little baby hippo!

Our little baby hippo!

We loaded up all the new babies, 7 in all, in a box to carry them inside out of the cold. We have a caged area under the basement stairs that we use when we order baby chicks and they aren’t old enough to go outside so we filled it with hay and turned it into a rabbit hutch for the time being. Tyler was thrilled to see the new baby bunnies. He peeked in the box and then looked at Molly and said, “Those aren’t bunnies. Those are baby hippos!” Then he looked at me and asked, “Hey, who hatched those?”  I suppose that is what they look like at this point.. only hours old..7 baby hippos. 🙂

A bunny from litter #1 and litter #2..look at the difference two weeks makes with baby bunnies.

A bunny from litter #1 and litter #2..look at the difference two weeks make with baby bunnies.

The new bunny hutch in the basement.

The new bunny hutch in the basement.

Tonight was date night with Tyler. I take each of the kids out one at a time on Thursday nights. This is my time to run errands and get my weekly grocery shopping done but is also a wonderful time to visit with the kids individually without interruptions. Tyler was eager to leave for date night so we took off as soon as Toby got home. As we headed down the driveway he asked me to turn up the heat. He then proceeded to inform me that the reason he needed the heat on was because he was allergic to cold air. “Oh,” I said “How do you know that you know that you are allergic to cold air.?” I thought I better ask  just to make sure that I wasn’t allergic too. “Because,” he answered, “it turns my hands and face red.” Silly kid!

193First stop on date night was at Tyler’s request. He wanted to stop at “Game Stop” (a store that sells video games). We weren’t buying anything but he wanted to try out the sample demos they have on display. We stopped and I let him play for a half an hour before we went grocery shopping.

Our next stop was for groceries. Tyler was a very enthusiastic shopper. He had many suggestions for what we should buy as we walked through the store. He was also very generous with his shopping ideas (especially with my money 🙂 ) and found things he wanted to buy for everyone we know as we walked through the store. He wanted to buy Miss Lana some soda, his friend Saga a jug of milk, Molly a Justin Bieber T-shirt, and Rusty pajamas. Although most of his requests are usually denied I still end up spending more on groceries when I shop with Tyler than with any of the other kids. For example when we stopped to pick out a box of cereal he held up a second box and informed me we needed to buy it too because it was Rusty’s favorite. Then he found Gracie’s, and Molly’s and Toby’s and our one box of cereal turned into five because he didn’t want anyone left out. 🙂207

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Tyler loves the price checker!

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We tried on every sample scent in the store. We were good and stinky by the time we headed home.

Tyler’s favorite part of shopping is stopping at the price check machines and scanning everything in the cart. It is at times like this that I have to remember to slow down and enjoy the moment and remember that although this seems like a waste of time when I really want to get home.. this is bonding.  I try to take the time to let Tyler lead. This is his date and if he wants to spend 15 minutes trying each perfume sample on himself and then on me I let him. We sniff, we compare, and we laugh. On date night he talks and shares in a way that he never does at home or when the others are around.

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Boy, I love this little man!

What beautiful brown eyes!

What beautiful brown eyes!

As part of our night-time devotionals we go around the room and everyone has to say what they are most grateful for that day. Tonight as we gathered together in the livingroom to pray and share our gratitude Tyler said, “I’m grateful for date night!”  Awwww man ..he stole mine! That is definitely what I am most grateful for this day. 🙂

Some bunny loves me!

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This morning we woke up to a coating of snow and ice on the roads so the co-op we usually attend on Wednesdays with fellow homeschoolers where we teach science, history, art and music together was cancelled. Instead of co-op our day consisted of school at home and fun with some bunnies!

The baby bunnies we discovered over the weekend  have now opened their eyes and are hopping about. The latest head count is 5 furry little babies but there could be more burrowed in the den that the Momma bunny made.  Molly was tasked with the job of climbing in the hutch to check the nest and clean out some of the old hay.

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Isn’t she a trooper!

 

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While Molly was taking care of the bunnies Tyler fed his chickens. Harley, our pot belly pig, loves when Tyler feeds his chickens. As you can see as much food made it onto Harley’s back as it did the ground. Later the chickens will enjoy sitting on Harley’s back and  feasting.

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While Molly was cleaning the cage she handed out 4 of the baby bunnies for us to hold. It is the first time we have held them and the kids were all thrilled.

 

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I don’t know which of the kids were the most thrilled…

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I think, in the end, it was Gracie..

Her exact  words..”I think this might be better than Disney World!”

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The next step in our bunny adventure..figuring out what to do with these newest family members. Right now the kids are trying to figure out ownership. Since Gracie has the only boy she has guaranteed paternity rights and therefore believes that automatically makes all the babies half hers. The maternity rights are still under debate. Rusty’s bunny spends the most time with the babies but they all look just like Molly’s bunny. We may have to call in the Maury Povich show and have some maternity tests done 🙂

On another note, Bailey, who was so very sick over Christmas is doing very well. She is still on restricted activity for six months and a variety of pills but is now eating, breathing easily, gaining weight and wanting to play. It is a miracle she survived and is doing so well.

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My fun project this afternoon was decorating my diningroom table. For my birthday my parents gave me the best gift..a basket full of everything needed for a Victorian tea party including things like cookies, an apron, teacups, sugar cubes, a cake plate, cupcake liners, plates and napkins. I was so excited and decided to put it on display and enjoy it as my table centerpiece until I have the time to indulge.

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Can I interest anyone in a cucumber sandwich and a spot of tea? Put on your lace gloves and fancy hat and join me!

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“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

– Henry James

Mud Wrestling

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As I lay on my back 3 inches deep in mud, coated from head to toe,  looking up at the clouds slowly rolling past I thought to myself, “This isn’t how I imagined this day would go.”

063What a day. What a very rough day. I spent the weekend in Ohio, without kids or husband, to celebrate my Mom’s and my birthday together. Toby very generously encouraged me to go and enjoy some special one on one time with my parents while he held down the fort in PA. It was so much fun getting to spend that time with my parents without the distractions of kids, chores, etc. We had fun visiting uninterrupted, shopping in cute antique stores that I wouldn’t dare enter with little ones in tow, and eating out for our birthday celebration. It was so much fun but I am now paying the price for my time away. I thought it might be tough on Tyler when he asked Toby, ” Is Momma ever going to come home again?”

Whether our rough day was a result of my absence over the weekend or just “one of those days” I may never know but it is sufficient to say that this is a day I hope we won’t repeat. 🙂

Some of our adventures today included..

0271. Bathtime! Tyler informed me when he was done with school in the morning that he wanted to take a bath in my big tub.017 I was thrilled that he was asking for a bath so I readily agreeed. He told me he wanted lots of bubbles so I added bubbles to the filling tub while he went to gather the toys he wanted to take in the tub with him. He was happily playing in the tub when I heard him yell out. I went to the door and asked him if he was okay and he yelled back that he sat on a piece of glass. I told him to put on his undies so I could come in. ( he still won’t let me come in if he is undressed) I walked into what appeared to be a FEMA declared state of emergency. He denies it but I am convinced a hurricane hit the bathroom while he was in the tub! 🙂 The bathroom was soaking wet from floor to ceiling. The ceiling was covered in bubbles and one of the lightbulbs on the light was broken. When I asked how the lightbulb broke he informed me that he didn’t know. “I just threw water at it,” he said. Now that is some hard water!

0092. Baby bunnies! While I was in Ohio the girls discovered baby bunnies in the hutch. They were so excited! We still don’t have the number of total babies because they stay snuggled in the den they made in the hay most of the time but we have seen at least three. Molly spent a good part of her day researching baby bunnies online for information on what she needs to do to help them thrive. They are still too little to hold but all of the kids spent time outside watching them try to walk and tip over 🙂

3. Today was a very unproductive school day. Some days we just fly though our lessons and accomplish so much.. other days are just a struggle and we are lucky to accomplish the bare minimum. It was one of those days, due in part to tantrum after tantrum. During one tantrum I caught Tyler throwing his boots and coat onto the roof after I told him he couldn’t play outside barefoot and without a coat. I guess he thought if he couldn’t reach his coat and boots he wouldn’t have to wear them. He miscalculated. He only ended up losing his opportunity to play outside.051

4. Tyler decided he was joining the army.  He informed me that he was joining the army after I told him no TV because of his attitude. I told him that I thought he might be too young. He pondered that and said, “Yeah, I think you have to be 9.” “How did you know that, Momma?” he asked. I told him I know a lot about the Army because PopPop was in the Army. “Is he still?” he asked. I told him no. “That’s good,” he said ” because Santa doesn’t bring you gifts if you are in the Army.”  “Why not?” I asked. “Because,” he replied,” when you are in the Army you slap the other Army people until the King tells you to stop..and Santa doesn’t like it when people hit.”    Hmmmm..makes sense. 🙂

0585. The day continued to escalate until I found myself laying face up in the mud. I had taken away computer, TV, Wii, and outdoor play privileges with no effect.  It was time for the fence post. He began fighting me immediately when he saw me putting on my shoes. I scooped him up and began carrying him across the yard when I felt my legs go flying out from under me. There I lay on my back covered from head to toe in mud. At that point I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Tyler looked at me indignantly and said, “You threw me in the mud!” I struggled to stand back up, scooped up Tyler, and continued to the fence post when my feet flew out from underneath me once again..SPLAT. “MOMMA!” Tyler yelled, “quit doing that!” We finally made it to the fence post where Tyler volunteered to climb up on it himself because he didn’t want my muddy hands touching him. There were the usual tears and when he finally calmed down he was able to talk about what was going on. I asked him why he was having such a hard day..why he was fighting me. He informed me that he was just having an “angry day.” I told him that we all have “angry days” sometimes but that doesn’t mean we can be mean or disobey. I asked him what he could do instead of fighting me when he was having an “angry day.” He thought about that and said, “Maybe I can punch a pillow instead.” I told him that was a good idea. 🙂 I carried him back inside where he cleaned off his legs with a washcloth and I hopped in the shower to wash the mud out of my hair. I must say my full body mud mask has done wonders for my skin 🙂072

One days like this I find myself wondering what I should share and what I shouldn’t. I worry that writing about the hard days and the tough moments will sound as though I am focusing on the troubles rather than the blessings but the reality of this journey is “the struggle is part of the story.” Sometimes I think that perhaps the struggles are the most important part of the story because it is in the struggles, in the frustration, in the pain and the fear that God reveals himself and we see what this journey is all about..

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering that I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly if it is to be done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”  Elisabeth Elliot

Battling Goliath

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The Goliath head Rusty made :)

The Goliath head Rusty made 🙂

In this lifetime you will probably never be asked to battle a 9 foot tall giant in the literal sense of the word but we all are going to be asked to face “giants” (figuratively) many times through the course of our lives. This was the topic of family night. It was interesting as we spoke about the “giants” we have to face in life what the kids viewed as their personal Goliath. It really  gave us insight as parents where their struggles were.  The night started out with Tyler not wanting to participate. This was earlier in the week when he was having a tough time. For family night once a week we have been trying to introduce Tyler to a scripture story (he came to us never hearing anything about Christ, prayer, even basic scripture stories like Noah or the Christmas story). After reading a scripture story for Tyler we try to tie it to a deeper lesson for the older kids before having some sort of activity and treat. This week it was “David and Goliath.” Tyler was being a stinker. He hid behind the couch as I read mumbling “blah, blah, blah” that is until I got to the part where David hits Goliath in the forehead with a stone from his slingshot. Suddenly a little head peaks out from behind the couch..”Did he really, momma?!” Suddenly he was engaged and interested in hearing more 🙂

Battling Goliath!

Battling Goliath!

016Afterwards everyone took the Goliath head pictures I had made and wrote on them the “Goliath” they were currently battling in their lives. Toby and I found it amusing that both of our Goliaths said, “more patience” on them. We hung Goliath’s head high on the wall. The kids took turns throwing marshmallows at Goliath’s head trying to hit him in the forehead. The kids loved it..especially Tyler. For our treat we had the cake that Grace and Tyler made earlier in the day during Gracie’s cooking class with Tyler.

We have had a few really great school days with Tyler. I am amazed at how much better he is doing sitting still and focusing on schoolwork. He doesn’t fight me as much and he is participating more. Today he sat through two online classes and participated. This is the first time he made it though both classes. He usually struggles to sit and focus for that long but he did it and even more importantly he did it without fighting. You can tell by his face though, by the end of the second class he was ready to be done. 🙂

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In the afternoon it was Gracie’s day for “one on one” time with me. I asked her what she wanted to do for our time and she said..”Makeovers!” So we did. It was a lot of fun. She did my make-up first. She was so excited to play around and experiment with the new eyeshadow set she received for Christmas.007

Then it was my turn to do her make-up..First, the before picture..

My beautiful Grace!

My beautiful Grace!

Then we began..

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It was fun spending time with Gracie being girlie and silly. When I finished she loved her new look. It was fun playing “glamour shots” in my bathroom. I was all “dolled up” and ready to head out when Toby arrived home for “date night” and grocery shopping with Rusty. A perfect end to a really great day!

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4 months and counting

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I spent the weekend in bed grateful for tissues, Tylenol, warm blankets and a husband to take over the running of the household! I was hit with the same bug everyone we know has been fighting and ended up losing my voice. It is now slowly coming back and just in the nick of time. Toby went back to work yesterday and school needed to be done  so a voice was a handy thing to have.

005Yesterday marked the 4 month anniversary of Tyler coming into our lives. I can’t believe it has only been 4 months. I was saying to Toby, had we begun the process to have another child the “traditional way” I would just be starting to show and here we have this little boy running around the house. It is as though he has always been here.  It has been an amazing journey..truly amazing and I have been humbled to see the hand of God in the whole process. When we went into this we prayed that God’s will be done. We didn’t want it to be driven by our own ideals or vision. We really wanted to let God be in control and put the child who was meant to be ours into our lives..and he did. When we received the call about Tyler we were surprised. At the time we were considering a sibling group and Tyler wasn’t even on the radar. In a matter of two days we went from finding out about him to being told we were chosen to be his parents. It is exciting to see how God works and to look back and see the foundation that has been laid over the years to prepare us for this. We prayed and prayed through the entire process that when the right child came along that we would know…that God’s will would be so clear to us that down the road, if things were hard, we would never be tempted to question or ponder whether we made a mistake. Well God answered that prayer and it has been an amazing journey…a blessed journey…but not always an easy journey. 🙂

Tyler woke up with a “bee in his bonnet.” I knew we were in for a tough day when at the breakfast table he let me know that he was no longer going to live here..he was going back to his old house. I asked him why he wanted to go back to his old house and he told me. He gave me a nice long list of why his old house was better including “bigger dogs, a nicer mom, a funner house and a better swing set.” I told him, very  gently, that this was his forever home and that he was stuck with us. He then said, “I’m sorry, Momma, but I’m leaving…. and I’m taking Daddy with me!”

Tyler loves Toby and I guess he feel that Daddy is the only thing worth taking with him. 🙂 I tried not to take it personally. I knew that it wasn’t about me, or this house, or the swing set. I knew, from the classes we have taken, that this is the normal progression of emotions and we had been told that the greatest struggle comes around month 4. We are through the excitement of the holidays and the reality that this is forever has hit him. He lived in his previous foster home for 3 years and it was all he knew from age 2 1/2 until he moved in with us. He had been told that was his forever family so I can understand his fear of attaching or trusting us when we tell him that he is with us forever.009

The day was a tough one, getting harder as the day went on. I didn’t feel well and spent the day praying for strength and patience.  It all came to a head in the afternoon when I saw him carrying the chair from his room out to the front porch. I didn’t say anything. After the day we had I was just grateful he wasn’t throwing the chair. 🙂 A few minutes later he walked by carrying his fire truck. This went on for about a half an hour when I asked him what he was doing.

He replied, “I don’t need this stuff. I’m getting a new life.”

I looked on the front porch to see the items from his room in a neat, orderly line down the front porch.

I asked, “So what are you doing with all of your stuff?”

“I’m selling it,” he informed me.

Rusty then spoke up and informed Tyler that nobody was going to buy his stuff because nobody ever came up our driveway.

Tyler thought about that and said,” Well, then I’ll sell it to baby Noah.”

(Noah is my sister’s 4 month old baby that lives out-of-state)004

“How much are you going to charge Noah for your toys?” I questioned.

Tyler thought about that..”Umm..$50.00″

“I don’t think Noah has that much money,” I said.

He considered that and said, “I know, I’ll sell him my money!”

He then ran in to get his piggy bank to add to the growing pile on the porch.

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At that point I went back to cooking dinner as he unloaded his room. I knew he was looking for a reaction and wanted me to fight with him so I just ignored him as he stormed back and forth to the front door with every toy from his toy box. He finally came into the kitchen and said, “I really am selling all my stuff!” “Ok,” I said  “Do you need help moving anything?”

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He stomped off and Toby came home to the “garage sale” on the front porch. We had dinner and then Tyler had another meltdown when Toby told him that he couldn’t have a piece of cake because of his attitude. He went into him room..now very empty..and lay on his bed (which was only in there because he couldn’t lift it.) He cried until he gave himself a headache and then cried because his head hurt. I finally lifted him up and carried him outside away from the noise and stimulation. I thought the cold air would help his head and help him calm down..it worked.  As we sat unto the bright winter stars, we rocked. I didn’t say anything I just rocked him and rubbed his back and felt him relax and melt against me. As we rocked he looked up at the sky and noticed the first star appear…

“Make a wish,” I whispered.

“What should I wish for?” he asked.

” Anything you want,” I answered.

” Ok,” he said, ” I wish for a dirt bike.”

“Did you ever wish on a star, Momma?”

“Yes,” I told him “many times.”

“Well, what did you wish for?” Tyler asked

“I once wished for a little boy,” I said

He turned his face to mine..”Are you talking about me, Momma?”

“Yes”

He thought about that for a minute..”That was a good wish, Momma..”

Yes it was. A good wish. A good prayer. A blessing from God.

Couch Cushion Olympics

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Sometimes life is just hard..

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Tyler did end up shoveling the walk without being asked. He told Daddy, “I didn’t want Momma to slip on the ice.” 🙂

“I hate you!” That is what I heard as Tyler ran to his bedroom and slammed the door behind him. He wanted to watch TV instead of doing phonics and I told him no. That was the trigger that set off the day’s events..Second day back to school and it was not a promising start. We are in the “after holiday crash.” Everyone is tired, fighting colds, low on tolerance, highly irritable and tired of being trapped inside (especially Tyler) so when I told him the consequence of his temper tantrum was no playing outside I really shot myself in the foot. It was one of those slow motion parenthood moments when you hear the words coming out of your mouth at the same time you are thinking, “NOOOOOOOOO!” trying desperately to cut the words off before more stumble out. The threat was delivered and I was stuck. I know that the key with Tyler is “follow through” and though I realized that telling him “no outside play” was more of a punishment to me then to him I knew I had to stand by it. It was a long day with a lot of bickering and back talk. When I corrected him in the afternoon for taking Rusty’s computer he proceeded to sneak a pair of scissors to his room  and pop many of his play balls before I caught him in the act and confiscated the scissors.  When I told him that they were his balls to destroy but they wouldn’t be replaced he just broke down. Often Tyler is his own worst enemy. His impulsiveness gets him into more trouble than anything else and although I realize much of this is his ADHD and possibly just being a 6-year-old boy I have to allow natural consequences to choices. (You pop your balls, you don’t have anymore balls) It is hard though. When to enforce and when to be merciful? It’s one of those tough parenting balances. Am I being too tough or am I being too easy?

When Tyler first moved in I felt that we were all walking on eggshells..us and him…trying to figure it all out. Not wanting to say or do anything that would trigger a meltdown. I feel as though the feeling in our home has become more natural. My reactions are less thought out and self questioning and more of the same “natural” reaction that I have with the other three. I think this is good and  normal progression in the adoption process but every now and then we have a “two steps forward, one step back” sort of day and I wonder if my reactions and expectations are realistic. The day got better as we neared Toby’s arrival home. Tyler lives for Toby’s arrival. He was excited to find out the girls were going out on date night and it would just be the boys at home. He did ask if we could take Rusty too so it would just be him and Daddy at home but took it well when we told him it was just a girls’ night.023

Date night with my girls was just what I needed. I usually just take one child out alone on Thursday night to grocery shop and run errands with me but Gracie asked if Molly could come along. They had both  received Claires gift cards for Christmas that they were hoping to spend at the mall..so it turned into “Girls’ Night Out” and was just what I needed.

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Molly keeping us on budget.

Our first stop was Aldi for groceries. In an effort to stick to our $60.00 a week food budget I only take cash to grocery shop.  Molly was in charge of keeping track of our purchases with the calculator..she loved it 🙂  We finished our shopping and headed back to Kohl’s. Molly was so thrilled with the skirts she bought a few days ago at 85% off that she wanted to use $10.00 of her savings to buy a few more. She was pleased to discover that they were still on sale.

Next stop..Claire’s! The girls each had $20.00 to spend and spent an hour debating what to buy. Gracie ended up getting a MP3 speaker, gloves, 031a cute hat and a necklace with her money. Molly bought a pair of gloves and two fun, wild necklaces. After our shopping was done we stopped for our treat. At the end of date night with the kids they get to pick a treat to have before we go back home. The girls picked Auntie Anne’s pretzels..YUM! We sat and looked over the girls’ purchases, visited and enjoyed our pretzels before heading home. It was just what I needed..time to laugh with my girls.

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Enjoying our treat!

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Molly with two of her purchases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we got home we found the “couch cushion olympics” in progress. The boys had pulled all the cushions off of the couch to build a fort which then was turned into a gymnastic mat for all sorts of high-flying tricks!.

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Tyler received a 8.6 from the Canadian judge!

Rusty...7.1!

Rusty…7.1!

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Meanwhile Winnie came up with her own way to have fun with cushions. Luckily it was just her dog bed she shredded and not one of my new couch cushions. She, too, received the same lecture as Tyler..”It is your bed to ruin but it won’t be replaced.” Some lessons are just hard to learn 🙂071