Wednesday, December 24, 2008
On my wrist.
And broke it.
Apparently, the type of break I have is pretty rare and will likely require surgery. They had to immobilize my hand including my thumb. Which I use, a lot. For things like diapers and car seats and buttons.
All this on the eve of Christmas Eve. Oy!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Here's just a recent example....
On Sunday, we drove to Kent to visit an old friend of mine and her family. Jasons behavior was, quite frankly, surprisingly excellent. He was an appropriately rambuncheous, engaging, fun child to be with. Even his OCD has a moment to shine when he took time sort some of there toys. All and all an excellent start to the holiday break.
On Monday, however, I had to spend the day with my mom at the hospital with my dad. Our annual visit see Santa was postponed to later than evening and Daddy was in charge at home.
So, my beautiful, fun, usually solid headed 9yo decided to paint his carpet with model paint then calmly tell me about it when he was eating his dinner as we waited in line to see Santa. Sigh.
See what I mean.
Monday, December 22, 2008
There is something wrong with him since he was released from the hospital yesterday because of his cervical spinal fusion surgery this last Thursday. He wasn't home 18 hours before we had to call the squad. We don't know at the point exactly what's wrong. He's very disoriented and not at all himself. It's pretty scary.
They did find that he has pneumonia, but it's hard to reconcile his reactions and behavior to what they found. So they admitted him and are running more tests to try and figure it out. It was a hard day for my mom and I and tomorrow it will be my brother and I in shifts until she can get off work.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I hate it when this happens.
Jason has been shifty and sneaky for a couple of days now.
He keeps disappearing to his room.
He's jumpier than normal, even for the time of the year.
My mom-sense was going off big time.
So, after giving him several chances to tell us what was going on, I sat in his room and pushed the issue...
...and Jason presented me with Andy's Nintendo DS that was hidden in the stuffed animals on his bed. On his own and well before I even threatened him with a search.
He's very sorry. Lately, we get a lot of genuine remorse when he makes mistakes, but that doesn't make this any easier. He has had an ongoing problem with handhelds which is why the DS is Andy's. He lost his Gameboy for a similar crime when we had already taken it away for overuse.
He's getting a DIDj for Christmas from my mom, but now I wonder if it's a good idea since he started this again.
Why can't this every be easy?
Friday, December 19, 2008
Today we were talking about Christmas and holidays and traditions. One of the moms was talking about whether or not to encourage her daughter's belief in Santa. A couple moms said they weren't and a couple said they were. This precluded a conversation about what happens when your kids finds out that you are Santa and so on.
Personally, I never really intended to encourage a belief in Santa, instead wanting to focus on Christ and the celebration of his birth. I didn't have a problem with people who do, it just wasn't my thing.
I didn't get that choice though. As happens with any older child adoption, you child has their own culture and beliefs when they join your family.
In our case, we had a very fervent belief in Santa, Rudolph and all his reindeer. No biggie...we adjusted. We get pictures taken yearly with the big man, bake him cookies, write him letters and even feed his reindeer.
But what struck me in all of this was my reaction to the conversation. At one point, I point, I just said "Oh, we didn't have a choice. Jason came that way."
Later, when relaying the story to Andy while we sorted through our Chirstmas shopping, it struck me as hysterically funny.
Not because of Santa or the conversation or anything like that.
But I was suddenly struck with an image of my son at age 4, in a brightly colored box with a cellophane front, labeled clearly...
An adorable 4yo boy with blue eyes, sandy brown hair and glasses.
He comes complete with a bright smile, a limited vocabulary and a belief in Santa!
Twisted, I know. But hey, it's who I am. And once my mind started rolling, I pictured Hannah being born with a tattoo requiring pink clothes and Micah coming with a recommendation for a protection plan due to ER trips.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Micah is as sweet as he is stubborn. As sensitive as he is ornery. As cuddly as he is dynamic.
Micah loves all things that GO. He rides, rolls and pushes anything that moves. Even me. Disney Pixar's Cars is his favorite movie and every car trip involves a 'discussion' of the various vehicles we see on the route.
He's a stickler to routine and will very loudly let you knew when you aren't following his.
He's also a hugger. He gives some of the best deep, bone-crushing, heart-melting squeezes around. (Secretly, I love that he still needs rocked to sleep for nap and bed time because I get daily doses of those squeezes.)
But he's also not so much a baby anymore.
Although he hates change and is refusing to give up his crib, I know the time is coming. He goes and climbs and does so many things just like a big kid.
And now that he's talking more, he sounds like a kid too.
Just today I told him "no" and he told me to "be quiet." I think the attitude comes on as the baby fat disappears.
But really. No matter how big he gets, he'll still be my baby. Right? Right?
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
How do I start to describe Hannah?
Just like Jason and Micah are all boy, Hannah is all girl. Pink and princessy is all she desires. The frillier the better. Her room is pink. She picks out pink clothes. Even her bike is pink.
I know, I know. This is the trend in girl stuff, but I was never this way. I was a tom-boy, through and through. My daughter wants her nails done and her ears pierced. It hard for me to fathom sometimes...it's almost like raising a child from another planet.
But enough about me and back to Hannah.
I think the thing that strikes me the most about Hannah is her heart. She's very smart and very determined, but her heart is what makes her stand out.
She's the only "typical" child in our family. Surrounded by her brother's special needs, their therapies and appointments, it would be so easy for her to become bitter over time lost with mom and dad.
She isn't though. Not at all.
In fact, she gets mad at us if she feels we are too hard or not understanding enough. She's a peer model in our district special needs preschool this year and has become a leader in the classroom. She has real empathy for her other classmates and the therapists love to work with her along with the other kids. She loves school and even tells us she has homework. Just so she can keep learning more.
Hannah is patient enough to take her time when it comes. We do try very hard to make special time for each of our kids, but during the everyday stuff, the independent, self-sufficient child often gets lost in the shuffle. So, Hannah helps me make dinner, set the table and clean the kitchen. She sits and chats with me when I fold clothes or pick up toys or even try to take a bath. She'll chat with Andy when he works on the motorcycle or the computer or the car. It doesn't matter what we do, as long as she is with us.
She is just this awesome little girl and I can't wait to see what is in store for her next.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Ah, the Christmas season is upon us.
I love Christmas. I really do. I have such great memories of Christmas as a child. I love the music, the decorations and the food. (Especially the food) I love a chance to celebrate the birth of my Lord. And as a family, we have lots of traditions and things that we do to celebrate.
Each family member gets a new ornament to put on the tree signifying something about the past year. Mine this year is a Starbuck coffee cup, if that tells you anything about how I survive my days.
We visit the same "Santa" every year for pictures. The kids are old enough now that they remember him, although Jason has figured out that he just "works" for Santa now. He said Santa can't possibly be at a mall this close to Christmas when he has a sleigh to pack. (I love my son's thinking.)
The kids all get a set of Christmas lights in their room.
We visit the lights at the Zoo.
I always do a baking day with the kids. This is messy, but fun. And they love handing out "their" cookies.
This year, Jason and Hannah were able to sing in the Christmas program and we always look forward to our Christmas Eve candlelight service.
But there is a dark, underbelly to Christmas here as well.
Not everyone has happy memories of the holidays and I was his mom before I really understood what this could mean. And boy, was that first Christmas a hard one. I didn't really understand all that he was dealing with that first year. As excited as we were about our first Christmas as parents, Jason was grieving just as hard for the life he was no longer a part of. And for the chaotic parts of that life that had followed him to our home.
By the time we reached Christmas, Jason's brother, DJ, was imploding and spend the days before Christmas in a psychiatric facility. And just 5 weeks after Christmas, the county removed DJ for Jason's safety. Needless to say, this is not always a good time of year in our house.
While Hannah and Micah have only ever known the holiday with us, Jason has memories of Christmas with his foster family. He also remembers his first Christmas with us. A holiday that filled his mom and dad with joy, but him with sorrow. During this season he is always on edge. Jumpy. A bit quicker to lash out. A bit easier to cry.
Behaviors that have been gone for months, sometimes years resurface again. We ended up looking like crazy parents because we surpervise our oldest more than our youngest. He needs this though. I don't think Jason would ever admit to his friends that he liked sitting at the table with us at the Christmas party, but he was calmed and better behaved than he had been in days.
It helps knowing we're not alone in this either. I have a friend who blogged on this very topic earlier this week. This Christmas insanity seems to be rather common among parents of hurt children. We have friends that forgo the tree altogether and others that simply decorate for a couple of days then go back to normal. Some, like us, try for as much of a normal holiday as possible. We all seem to be dealing with varying levels of insanity, but at least we are not alone.
Hang in there everyone. This too shall pass and then we only have 365 days until we get to do it again.
Jason joined our family and permanently implanted himself in our hearts the summer of 2003. From the moment I first heard about him, I wanted him as my son. From the first picture, I knew he was. In his Blues Clues shirt, shaved head and what seemed like enormous shoes at the time, I fell in love. I know that God led us to Jason and him to us.
It was far from perfect though. Jason's life, no matter how nice we make it, has left him with lasting scars. He experienced more loss in his first 5 years than I have in my 35. Because of things that happened before he was even born, he fights with even some of the simplest of tasks. At 4, when most kids are learning their alphabet, he was still learning to put 3 words together. Instead of potty training, he was trying to trust this new family he was with. He had to grieve over the only family he had ever known and accept this new one he was given. He had to learn to stop surviving and to start living.
And he has. That was all 5 1/2 years ago. Jason is now a 9 year old boy full of wonder and mirth. He's a 3rd grader, a baseball player and a martial artist. He's a singer, a builder and a child in love with make believe. He loves all living creatures and I think given the chance would start a zoo in my house. And, heaven help him, he has his father's sarcastiv sense of humor.
That's not to say everything is perfect.
He IS a 9yo boy.
Jason, despite his love for his siblings, finds them extremely annoying at times. I am apparently evil as I give out CHORES, require homework to be completed and clean his room. Oh, and lets not forget the daily shower thing. OY!
For most 2 1/2 year olds, this isn't really a significant thing, but to for my little guy, it's HUGE.
In October of 2007, we had Micah evaluated for a speech delay. I knew something was wrong. Kids do all develop at different speeds and some kids just don't talk until later, but those kids rarely scream and cry for hours because they can't get their needs expressed.
The testing revealed that while Micah understood everything being said to him and was typical in his receptive language in play, he was like a 9mo in his expressive language. The theory is that is recurrent ear infections basically made him deaf for most of his life up to that point. In fact, 6 months after the evaluation, he had a surgery to get a second set of tubes and his adenoids removed. We immediately started my little guy in therapy and in addition to the speech delay, he was later diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.
Fast forward to now, Micah's been in therapy for over a year and has been in a school program for language delayed toddlers since September. Micah can now tell me what he needs. He's making sentences. He's telling me he loves me. He's happy. He's joyous. He's SINGING!
And in the past couple of weeks, he's talking on the phone. Before he never even tried because nobody understood him. But now, he's confident in his ability to speak. Confident enough to talk on the phone where he knows that the only thing connecting him to the other person is his voice and they are understanding him.
Sometimes, in this crazy life I lead, I just love to celebrate the little things. And today, my son talk to his dad on the phone.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Andy and I were married just over 9 years ago. We knew from the beginning we wanted kids and from very early on that we wanted to adopt. God led us to foster/adoption and in July of 2003 we were matched with our son, Jason, and his older brother, DJ. To say we jumped into the deep end of the pool without a life jacket would be an understatement. Think a raging river with weights.
That was 5 1/2 years ago and while DJ has gone on to a new family (another story for another time), we have added 2 more kids to our family. Three weeks after Jason's adoption was finalized we found out we were pregnant with Hannah. Nine months after she was born we found out Micah was on his way as well. Our brood currently consists of Jason (9), Hannah (4) and Micah (2). They are an active bunch who certainly keep us on our toes.
It's always a challenge raising kids and we really like a challenge.