Friday, May 29, 2015

Of Sickness, Health, Gratitude and Weird Family Rules

    Every time I get sick I vow to be more thankful for my health and I usually am for a period of time, but before I know it, I am back to taking it for granted. While musing over that fact I began thinking about my children and how they so quickly forget the things we are trying to instill in them. Simple things like closing drawers and doors, picking up dirty laundry and putting their shoes away rather than kicking them off inside the door. Then there are the more complex things such as asking for help instead of throwing a fit when the zipper on their jacket gets stuck, reporting a siblings offense to mom or dad rather than whopping the offending person and using kind words and gentle hands. I get frustrated with them sometimes, but how often does God have the "right" to get upset with me when he is trying to instill a simple lesson in me, such as patience or gratitude and I just cannot seem to retain what he has spent so much time teaching me, yet he kindly keeps teaching, training and showing me his perfect will. 
   Yesterday Kobi's new cage/pen/bed whatever you want to call it came. Dean set it up and Lia promptly crawled inside.

    Kobi is spending most of his time outside. Getting the stomach bug the day after he came hasn't made me more accepting of having him in the house. For some reason my brain associates him with being sick to the stomach. I told Dean we should have named him Puke or Nausea, no one thought that was very funny or clever however. I will admit I am able to tolerate his presence much better today since I am feeling better so hopefully the "yuck" feeling will not always come to mind when he is around.
       During the last week of school, I cleaned the children's bedrooms. I also made a list of rules and taped it where they could easily see it. A certain young man thought that was really weird but at this point in his life I find I am doing a lot of things he considers weird. :) Anyway, one of the rules was: You must have a sheet on your bed. Yes, we have strange rules around here. One child told me he doesn't put a sheet on his bed because it saves me laundry. "If I don't put a sheet on my bed, then it won't get dirty and you won't have to wash it." Makes perfect sense, right?
   One day Joseph was telling me what he wants to be when he grows up. First he will be a dentist then he will raise horses at his cousins place. He plans to tear part of their horse barn down and build a milking parlor in it's place so he can milk cows as well. He has high aspirations! Joseph then turned to Kiana and said, "You will probably be a mom." She told him in no uncertain terms that she is going to be a cowgirl, insinuating that being a cowgirl has a much higher status than being a lowly mom! I put on a sad face and said, "But I wanted grandchildren." She thought for a moment and replied, "My boy (husband) can be your grandchild!" She has been set on being a cowgirl for the past 18 months, we will see if she changes her mind in the coming years.
  Another "weird rule" we have is writing our feelings and emotions down in journals. Tristan told me exactly what he thought about such goings on but I have scientific proof that writing is therapeutic and I hope to win him over before the summer is through. I will write another post about therapeutic journaling and it's benefits in another post.

   Shared on: Tell It To Me Tuesday's

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Life With A Dog In The House

  I am not a "dog in the house," kind of person.  
As far as I am concerned, dogs belong outside along with every other member of the animal kingdom. Dogs stink, chew on things and make lots of noise. On the other hand they can make good pets and I have often been glad for our big dogs, living in the woods as we do. But those dogs have lived outside and all of their dirt stayed outside with them.`
   When we first thought about getting a service dog, I thought it was a great idea. Then Dean reminded me that the dog would need to live in the house. I thought that would be okay, after all we wouldn't be getting a dog for a number of years anyway. I would worry about it when the time came.
   Then Emmie died and Joseph's behavior problems became more pronounced. We promised the children another puppy and it only made sense to look for a puppy who could help Joseph. There was one problem, where would the dog live? I refused to think about it, hoping a solution would present itself, it didn't.
     Monday evening Kobi slept in his dog carrier in the basement. Slept is to generous a term for the howling, yowling and whining that woke us from a sound sleep and left us all bleary eyed. Tristan gave up sleeping in his bed and slept on the basement sofa instead but even then Kobi kept up his racket. 
   Last night, Tristan came into our room and said in a shaky voice, "Kobi just won't sleep!" So the dog was banished to the shop for the remainder of the night and we all slept in peace and quiet.
  The novelty of Kobi is wearing off and today the responsibility of watching him is constantly being shuffled from one child to the next. Tristan isn't as diligent in taking him to the potty and Kobi had several accidents today. Kobi chewed on my rug and dumped his water dish umpteen times. 
   I don't think Tristan realized all the work that would be involved when he agreed to train Kobi. One evening several weeks ago, Tristan was having a hard time accepting Joseph's disabilities and he asked Dean if there was anything we could do to make Joseph better. Dean told him there is one thing we are thinking about and told Tristan we thought a dog might help Joseph. The dog would need lots of training, though, "Would you be interested in training him?" Dean asked. It took a little convincing to persuade Tristan but he soon got into reading and researching how to train your own dog. 
  The fact that I have spent the past two days with a nasty flu probably isn't helping me feel loving towards this cute, little trouble maker. The children have been fending for themselves, this is their first week of summer vacation, mom has the flu and they are responsible for a dog, no wonder things look n sound a little chaotic around here!
   So if you stop by in the next several days, watch your step, you might find dog food on my kitchen floor and a cool whip dish of water setting just inside the door or you might see Lia standing on the table screaming and Kobi with his paws on the chair trying to get up to her. Lia is still dreadfully frightened of him and he seems to delight in chasing her. We needed more chaos, right???
    Someone told Dean it isn't very "Mennonite" to have a dog in the house. Dean agreed but like he told me, "Sometimes we have to think outside the box." I replied that sometimes I would rather it be someone else who is doing such unconventional things.

Lia isn't afraid of Kobi as long as he is sleeping

Monday, May 25, 2015

Welcome Kobi

The long anticipated day has finally arrived!

Dad is home!!!!

Let me see!

Welcoming Kobi

Cautiously checking out his new world

Tristan is responsible for training Kobi. I told him I potty trained 5 children, he is going to have to train the dog.

The children all love him, with the exception of Lia. She was sitting on the grass and Kobi jumped on her, any love she had felt before vanished. 
Joseph, Tristan and Kobe

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blessed Contentment

    Today I feel a deep sense of contentment and joy. I love this weather, I love having my family home together. Watching Dean as he goes about his work, stopping to lift Lia up so she can walk on the ceiling and making wooden hay bales for Joseph, between jobs. Watching Tristan mow the yard and cheerfully haul the trash, even though it is a job he despises. Listening to Kiana as she plays with her doll house. Her people imitate the life she lives, working, playing and fighting included. Enjoying freshly made tea, that Lia declares is "thumbs up." Fresh garden salads, the strawberry plant named "Tristan" that our neighbor bought for him. It is an ever bearing variety and the label says you can now have fresh berries for breakfast every day. The deep blue sky, birds singing, flowers blooming....I love it all.
   A sense of melancholy joins the contentment I feel deep inside. So soon these days will be gone and my children will no longer be small. There won't be any small, muddy boots lying on my clean kitchen floor, alongside a jacket that the little miss shrugged off when she came inside. No, quiet nap times where the older children curl up with books while the rest of us sleep. A wooden hay bale will no longer be able to make Joseph feel loved and cared for. There will be bigger hurts pressing upon their hearts. I won't be called from my work to see the egg Mrs. Hen laid....or the egg white smeared in a pocket because the egg met an early demise. Kiana won't be as thrilled to have a dress that matches mom's. Tristan is going to 6th grade in the fall, what happened? I remember when I was in 6th grade, I thought I was pretty near grown up!
  Since the future is unknown, I have chosen to delight in today and the blessings God has bestowed upon me. I will cherish the moments because I distinctly remember the time when I had three babies in diapers, I thought they would never grow up. Then one day the diapers, bottles and baby toys were put away and they were demanding toddlers who fought and screamed at each other one moment and were best friends the next. That stage was even more difficult than the baby stage but it to passed and they were busy preschoolers who kept me running to stay ahead of them. Then Braden started Kindergarten and Kiana and Joseph followed on his heels, by entering kindergarten the next year. Now Braden is no longer here at home and Kiana and Joseph are going to be going to second grade in the fall. Lia isn't a baby and I am no longer tied down at home. I revel in the freedom but am I really ready for this stage in life? Ready or not it is here and I know I must savor it or it to will be gone. So for today I am thankful God has led us thus far and blessed us abundantly more than we could have ever asked. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Let Summer Vacation Begin!

Today was the official last day of the 2014-2015 school year. Wednesday they had early dismissal, yesterday they didn't have school but the picnic was in the evening, so it feels as if we have been getting a taste of summer vacation all week. 
Yesterday Tristan was working with a will and I asked him if he feels happy. He said, "It just feels so good to have finished 5th grade." I remember how free I used to feel when school was over for the summer.
Lia thought she had to be on the picture.

And here they are in August 2014, all ready for the first day of school.

Summer means:
Going barefoot
eating popscicles
going swimming
cabin trips
sleeping in and staying up later
extra playtime
summer reading programs

One year I made a list of things we wanted to do during summer vacation because when we don't have a plan, we don't get much accomplished. What do you do during summer vacation?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Adjustments Ahead

      Summer Vacation is coming, yippee..... or not. Summer vacation means change and change doesn't go over very well here at our house. Especially when that change comes on the heels of Mothers Day. Two big emotionally frightening things happening at once call for meltdowns, over stimulation and all out crazy behavior. 
    I was counting on CHOP to help us out with a diagnosis and recommendations for behavior problems. I haven't heard from them since Joseph's appointment on May 7. Yesterday I emailed the lady who kindly guided me through the registration process and told me which records I would need to obtain from physicians and therapists. She replied within an hour of when I sent the email and said she will check into it for me. I wish I could let her know how much her kindness is appreciated. 
   Last night I told Dean that as frustrating as Joseph's behavior can be at times, I do not feel so alone and isolated as we did with Braden. He said he thinks that is because Joseph has good times,
 times when he is funny, adorable and sweet. He may try my patience to the limit but he will turn and hug me and tell me he loves me with all the adoration of a two year old. It melts my heart every time. The sweet innocent side of him is what keeps me going when he is raging because of some inconsequential issue, or what appears inconsequential to me. 
   Yesterday we had a meltdown over a caterpillar. Lia loves caterpillars. Some one told her they turn into butterflies and ever since, she thinks they are so amazing. Joseph learned in school that caterpillars eat trees. Yesterday Lia found a caterpillar and came to tell me about it. Joseph jumped up and prepared to dispose of it. Lia began wailing because Joseph wanted to smash her new friend. I told Joseph to let it go and he burst into tears because the caterpillar will eat all of our tree's!!! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

God's Will and A Puppy


   I saw this quote on someone's FB page and was blessed by it. 

The past week was a busy one and the upcoming days are just as full. Last week I had the privilege of spending time with other women who are walking a path similar to the one we are on. They shared insight they had gleaned over the years as well as renewing my courage for the road yet to be traveled. One evening I had coffee with a woman who along with her husband, is getting into foster care. She had some questions and I was only to glad to try to answer them. 
    Several times this week the question came up, "If you knew all that you do now, would you still have adopted?" I always say, Absolutely..... but sometimes I follow up with a yes and sometimes with a no. The truth is, this is where God has called us and there is no better place to be than in the center of God's will. However there are other times that I marvel at how naively we went into foster care/adoption. At the same time, Dean and I love each and every one of our children and cannot imagine life without them. Their struggles have made us grow whether we wanted to or not.

This little guy will be joining our menagerie sometime in the next week or two. When Emmie died Dean promised that we would buy a puppy and the children didn't let him forget his promise. Tristan has agreed to train the puppy as we have some high hopes for him. I know pets are often used to help children process trauma, we would also like to train him to help Joseph stay regulated.            Now to agree on a name for him!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fox Meadows Creamery

Last night we went to a local ice cream shop that has recently opened for business, Fox Meadows Creamery. The ice cream was delicious but we were shivering so badly we weren't able to enjoy it as much as we would have liked to. 
Joseph dropped his ice cream as we walked out the door. Good mom that I am, I wiped it off and stuck it back on the cone. Figured a few germs won't hurt. 

Kiana insisted she wants two scoops of ice cream. She  stalled partway through her second scoop.

I quickly snapped a picture of Lia, she refused to pose for me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Track And Field & Mothers Day

Today was a beautiful day for Track and Field at school

Lia spent most of her time on the slide....

...and picking on her big brother

We stopped for ice cream on our way home from school

How was Mothers Day at your house? I forgot that this particular holiday is a trigger for traumatized little people. How could I forget? Sometimes I seriously wonder if my memory is failing. Kiana had a melt down on Saturday and Joseph has been unstable and tantruming all week. I cannot imagine what it would feel like knowing everyone is celebrating their mothers but your mom didn't care for you for whatever reason. Even though they now have loving parents, they are only with us because their bio parents didn't keep them safe.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mr. Snapper

Our neighbor found this fellow in her yard on Sunday. She tossed him into the woods three times and he always came back. She brought him up to us so we could put him in the woods for her.
 Dean stuck a twig in front of his mouth and he promptly snapped it in two. After that he was pretty docile, allowing people to pick him up (carefully). Eventually he had enough and did he ever get feisty! We had to carry him on the shovel because he lashed out at anyone who came close.
   The turtle was the first thing Joseph and Lia thought of when they crawled out of bed Monday morning. Throughout the day Lia would ask me if I think that turtle is still in the woods.
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                                  An angry Mr. Snapper

Monday, May 11, 2015

Blog Questions And A Thank You

There have been times I have wondered if this blog is worth the bother. I love writing but do I want everyone to know about our family? Is it right to bare my children's struggles to the public? Do I share to much, or not enough? Am I making our life sound harder than anyone else's?
   From time to time someone sends me an email or comment eluding to one or another of the above questions and I have to search my heart again and ask God's direction. 
  I asked an experienced mom what her perspective is on the subject. She has children who have struggles similar to what ours have and has a pretty good idea what goes down around here sometimes. She suggested I continue sharing the things I have and exclude the really crazy stuff that would embarrass our children someday. See, the things I relate on here are the palatable ones, the things that emotionally healthy children do from time to time. Besides I don't want to write for the "shock factor."
   I also write because of all the families out there who truly do not have anyone to turn to. Attachment Disorders are easily mistaken for a parental problem, which is exactly what the child wants people to think. The parent can share information concerning attachment disorder but there is something about seeing first hand what families can face that makes it more believable. My hope is that this blog can enlighten people about the pitfalls of RAD/Attachment Disorders.
   I will admit I also write so the people we come in contact with are able to understand our quirks better. I know for a fact that our quirks are going to become more pronounced as our children age and fall further behind their peers. Dean and I were just talking about how much we appreciate how people relate to Joseph. Joseph senses this and he in turn feels safer and more secure which lowers his fight or flight response and we can give him more freedom because he is more regulated. The more regulated he is, the less likely he is to do something that could turn out badly.
   I want to thank, you my readers, for all you have done in aiding our children on their journey to complete emotional health. They are to small to understand the impact your understanding has had on their lives but I trust that someday they will look back and thank God for the people he allowed to come into their lives.




Saturday, May 9, 2015

Remember The Hurting On Mothers Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day where we mom's soak up some extra appreciation and love from our families. The children give us small gifts and cards they made at school and we are blessed with extra hugs and kisses.
  My mind as been on another group of people however, and my heart is breaking for them. Those people for whom Mothers Day brings pain rather than joy.

   - Those who's mother is no longer here, especially those who are experiencing their first Mothers Day without mom.

- The woman who longs for a child

- Those who lost the child/children who called them mommy

- The woman who gave her all for her child but the child rejected that love and affection

- The woman who gave a child up for adoption and wonder where that child is today

- The woman who chose to destroy the life that would have made them a mom

- The child who has no mom to love because his/her mommy is in Heaven

- All of the adopted children for whom Mothers Day brings unpleasant memories

If you meet one of these hurting people take the time to give them a hug and assure them of your prayers. Take a meal to those who do not have a mom to cook for them, give a bouquet of flowers to the mom who has empty arms or spend time with the mom who lost her child. May God bless each one.....and now I am off to practice what I preach!

                                           Image result for hurting on mothers day quotes

Friday, May 8, 2015

Daily Encouragement

                                        Image result for encouragement quotes

Thanks to the kind folks who have been giving us oxygen (encouragement) this week. Many of you are probably unaware of how much your well timed words meant to me. I was thinking over the people I met and conversations I had this week when it dawned on me that every single day, someone shared words of encouragement and affirmation! God knew this week would be a stretching one for us and he sent a special blessing each and every day. What a mighty God we serve! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Joseph's Appointment

Today was Joseph's long anticipated CHOP appointment. We went to the King Of Prussia office which is closer to our house than the hospital. After we checked in they got Joseph's weight, height, head circumference and took his blood pressure. Then it was back to the waiting room until an exam room was available. 
 While Joseph was performing the tasks under the watchful eye of Miss A, I spent time with the psychologist and Doctor. I am so familiar with Braden's story, I had a difficult time remembering this is Joseph we are here to discuss, thus a whole different story. 
    I neglected to bring Joseph's prior neuro/psych evaluations with me so they did not give him any diagnosis while I was there. They did give me a list of interventions he will need and the list looks  rather daunting to say the least. 
   Joseph did well but the tests they did showed that there are quite a few area's he is behind in, some significantly so, thus all the interventions. I don't know if he will receive an FASD diagnosis because he doesn't have any facial abnormalities and he is above average in height/weight for his age. Bradens FASD doctor told us that in order to have the facial abnormalities birth mom must consume alcohol while those features are developing. Most criteria for the FASD diagnosis include facial abnormalities as one of the necessary factors. However according to Bradens doctor, they are now realizing this is not always the case and so they no longer require them to be present to receive the diagnosis. 
   The doctor did say Joseph suffers damage to the frontal lobe and that happens via trauma, neglect or it can happen in utero. Long story short, he meets all criteria for FASD except for the facial abnormalities and his height/weight so I don't know much more than I did before. :) 

Monday, May 4, 2015


We have been blessed with beautiful weather this weekend. Sunday evening we went biking at Red Bridge.

Taking a breather on one of the bridges

Lia got to ride in style.

We biked several miles and poor Joseph was worn out! He wasn't as tired as this picture would lead you to believe. He just happened to blink when I snapped the photo. However he did cheer when he saw the truck. He biked several miles, which was a real stretch for him. He had fun though.

This is how Lia relaxes....daddy's boots and a bedtime snack, everything a girl needs. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Spring Program

Yesterday was PVMS Spring Program. I thought the children did an excellent job!
Kiana -7 years old. She is growing up so quickly! 

 Look how much they grew since last spring!

Spring Program 2014 
-Look at all the missing teeth!-

Children with FASD have a difficult time regulating themselves when they are in a high energy situation. We were a little concerned how Joseph would handle all the people and the stress of standing before them but he did an excellent job. These seemingly small accomplishments mean so much to us and are a boost for his self esteem.