My Family

My Family
Here we all are!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cookies with Kaia

Yesterday I got to have my Grandgirlies over for the day while mom and dad worked.  Kaia, 2 1/2, and I made cookies.  I found a cookie sheet that has Christmas shapes built in so you just push the dough in.  For a little one it seemed just the right amount of work.  As we were mixing the dough and pushing it into the pan I started thinking about my mother.

My mom died when I was 19 and was never able to enjoy grandparenting.  I was so sad for all she has missed.   I think she would have enjoyed it.  She might not have enjoyed the domestic type projects we were pursuing yesterday, but she would have loved to have taken the kids to plays, concerts, museums or movies.  How much she has missed.  I felt a  burden yesterday - of the joyful kind, if that's possible - to somehow make my mother a part of our day.

So, I enjoyed every minute of yesterday.  I was experiencing the joy for the both of us.  I miss you mom.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Feed the World?

Ella, Jacob and I were out for dinner.  The Christmas song, "Let them know it's Christmas Time", which has the refrain, "Feed the World" in it was playing overhead.  Jacob mistakenly thought they said feed the squirrels.  Of course I burst out laughing.  Ella shook her head and said, "See this is why I don't like going out with you two.  First Jacob says something funny and then you laugh too loud and I think to myself, I'm not with this white woman."  She, of course, continues with how she knows we're her family and she 's happy to be here.  She's way too thoughtful to just leave the slam where it is, even though it's completely tongue in cheek.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Youtube is for Eternity

I was reciting John 3:16 with Callie the other night and I asked her - eternal life - where will you spend eternal life?  She thought a minute and blurted - "Youtube".  That girl just cracks me up.  We repeated the same scenario last night and she replied, "Crazy ride".  I think we'll move on tonight - not sure I want to hear her next description.

That is not how I envision heaven at all, but with her current obsession with amusement rides this apparently signifies paradise.  Perhaps it's the possibility of all her fears dissolving, never needing her earmuffs to cover up the myriad of noises that daily assault her hearing and send her running from rooms or hugging the earmuffs tightly to her head.

I envision heaven for Callie being a place where she can run, play, dance and sing without worries of sudden noises.  Where her senses can take in all the sounds, smells and sights with joyous abandon and without fear of any kind.  How awesome that will be - seeing all my kids with all their earthly chains - physical disabilities, cognitive delays, mental health issues, learning disabilities - freed to express and experience everything to the fullest will truly be heaven for me too.

To quote a song we used to sing, "Heaven is a wonderful place - filled with glory and grace"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chris turns 21!

Christopher turns 21 today.  He is the only child who has lived under our roof with every sibling.  Other than a few months at a time none of the other older siblings has lived with their younger siblings.  When Ella was very young he made her call him "boss" which she still calls him.  There was a a time when that annoyed me and now it's just kind of funny.

                                                           Happy Birthday Chris!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Other Centered Santa

Most years Ella and Jacob have seen Santa at our foster son Robby's group home.  This Santa is different than other Santa's.  He 's very other centered.  He does let the kids tell him what they want for Christmas, but also talks about giving to others.

Jacob got on his lap and Santa asked him if he'd been good.  Jacob hesitated and Santa looked at Ella - let's ask someone who doesn't know you  - knowing perfectly well they were siblings.  Ella didn't seem sure how to answer - she hesitantly answered, "yes to the has he been good question."  On the way home Ella explained to Jacob that Santa doesn't expect perfection.  She continued that he's really just expecting more of a 50/50 good to bad ratio.

Santa then asked Ella what she wanted and she kept hedging with I don't know.  He said, "Let's put it this way. What would make you happy?"  She said, "Mom I thought I have everything that makes me happy  - friends, family and comfort.  He gave me two choices.  I could either write him a note asking for something for myself or I could give up my request and he would get a toy for someone who doesn't have any.  I was thinking maybe I could do both.  Something small for me and something for someone else."  I love that she was giving it so much thought.  Seemed like character building on her part.

Now on the other hand Christian totally reenacted a scene from the movie "Elf".  When Santa walked in he excitedly pointed and shouted, "I know him"!  A good time had by all.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In Sync - but not the band

Yesterday it was very hectic here, not especially unusual I suppose.  I was running in the door after dropping Ella off at soccer practice and Mark was slicing mushrooms while he had something outside on the grill.  He said, "Can you take over?"  "Sure," I said.  Our Melissa was standing in the kitchen and commented on our ability to, relatively seamlessly, take over each other's duties when needed.  Mind you it's not always seamless and I have a tendency to think my way is better than however Mark is going to do it, but generally we are in sync, shall we say.

It's a good reminder that the easy rhythm we have in our marriage wasn't always there and I need to remind our young married kids that this too will happen for them, but it takes time.  Sure we still get on each other's nerves and step on each other's toes, but the practice of every day living does cut down on those times.

Years back a good friend who also had been married for, probably 25 yrs. at that point, said the thing he would most miss if his marriage ended was the history they shared together.  How true it is that no one else has been there for all the experiences we've enjoyed and sometimes endured together.  There are so many expressions or jokes we repeat or stories we remember that no one else shares.  The longer we're together the more memories we gather.  Well, now I'm just depressing myself because like it or not someday there will cease to be new memories to share.  With the household of kids we're still raising one of the rare times we argue it's over who gets to go first - Me first - Me first!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Callie is 11!

Our Callie girl is 11 today.   She loves the Katy Perry song "FIrework" and it fits her. There's a stanza in it that reads "You don't have to feel like a waste of space - You're original cannot be replaced - If you only knew what the future holds - After a hurricane comes a rainbow"  Then the verse which is belted - "'Cause baby you're a firework - Come on show 'em what you're worth - Make 'em go oh, oh, oh - As you shoot across the sky."

Every time I hear this song I think of Callie and am grateful for the little firecracker she's become.  I'll admit we're still often in the hurricane stage with her, but she shows her rainbow side on a regular basis and we were often unsure that would be the case.

Nearly every day she awes us with something new.  This year will be full of Callie hurricanes and rainbows which is what makes life so very exciting and challenging.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY CALLIE!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wow - summer must've been busy!

I can't believe I haven't posted since the end of June.  Summer's are pretty busy, but full of things I wish I would have documented.

The funniest, in retrospect, thing that happened involved Callie - of course.  She had been having an exceptionally impulsive day.  Mark and I had only sat down to rest for a few minutes when we both realized she wasn't in eye sight.  Mark started walking towards the family room which is one story off the ground and saw things flying towards the window, but didn't hear a sound.  He realized the window was open and there was no screen and she was pitching virtually the entire contents of our family room out the window.  As he started running towards her saying, "Callie, Callie, Callie,"  she started throwing as fast as possible as to finish what she had started.

It was one of those times when what she did was so enormous it was laughable - even in the moment.  It was, however, beastly hot and not much fun to make her pick it up and haul it back into the house.
The girl may have a point - I'm in a bit of a pitching mood myself - if only to avoid her calling my attention to the fact we all have too much.  Putting it neatly in bags before hauling it outdoors is a lot easier.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 3 State Special Olympics

We had to be there earlier Sat. and got a closer parking lot spot.  I was hoping we could just swiftly go up the bridge and into the field without Callie getting too freaked out about the buses.  No such luck.  She tried riding Austin's, our helper for the day, back but was having trouble staying on.  As we neared the bus she kept saying - not by the bus - on the bus - like the field trip.  She jumped on the bus and all was well.  Apparently to her being in the monster is better than walking by it.  Definitely an analogy of some sort, but I was much to tired to connect the dots.

Callie had her long jump and as she has done at every practice she jumped once then again and again in the pit to the end.  She had an audience by the second jump who found her "style" adorable.  Then, for some reason, she only jumped once the last time.  She took a silver, which was awesome.

Christian had his 200 meter run first and really ran the whole way taking a gold medal.  Then took a gold for the 50M.  Really surprised us all as he is usually pretty cavalier about his running.  He was really proud of himself as well he should have been.

Our first state meet was exhausting and stressful, but I'm glad we did it and we will do it again.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 2 - Minnesota Special Olympics Meet

Today Callie had her 100M run.  The walk from the parking lot to the field was very stressful for Callie.  There are school buses for shuttling people and city buses as well as general traffic noise.  All of which is completely overwhelming for Callie.  She is terrified of the buses - she fears their loud breaks, their unexpected starting and stopping.  It took everything we had to get her safely up and over the bridge.  She finally made it, but was clearly stressed out by the experience.

 Thankfully she remembered the Boogie Tent - the place where dancing happens.  She did the macarana, the hokey pokey and Surfin' USA - with every song and dance she relaxed.  It was also mascot day - there was the Saints baseball team mascot, the Wild's mascot, McGruff, some others I didn't recognize and her favorite - Buck the Swarm mascot.  The Swarm is our pro lacrosse team - her big brother, a big fan and player of lacrosse,  would have been proud.  In true Callie style she put the mascots together in matchmaker style and brought people in to dance along.

She was ready to go when it was time for her big race.  I watched several other races as I waited for her to line up for her race.  Finally it's their turn and Callie and our friend Julie follow the group into the arena, then across the field and I was perplexed - why are they crossing the field when the finish line is clearly right in front of me - the cheerers are right in front of me.  All of a sudden I realize that she is going to run her race on the other side of the track.  She is going to run the race that we had worked so hard on.  We worked on conquering her fear of the starter gun or even the whistle - we talked and talked about staying strong - not crying or falling down or clawing the track due to her anxiety.  I panicked that I was going to miss this race that we had all worked so hard on.  I jumped up, grabbed my camera and while repeating - you've got to be kidding me - all the way around the track I ran trying to get there in time.  I wanted that first race on video so we could celebrate it over and over.  I realized there was no way I would make it in time.  I could tell she was running well, but not what place she took.

Immediately afterwards she went to the awards ceremony.  We anxiously waited to see what place she came in.  Hallelujah she was 2nd - she appeared to be the youngest by far, but she came in second.  We were all so proud of her.  As Julie and I talked about it we realized that it was very likely she ran well because she was on the far side of the track - away from the cheerers and all the observers.  In retrospect it was a good thing for Callie and after all it is suppose to be about her and her ability to overcome - not my need as a mom to fulfill my desire to madly cheer for our girl who is an overcomer and continues to be an overcomer.  Oh, I was cheering - it was just a quieter more inside type of cheer.  Yeah Callie!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Special Olympics State Meet Day One

Today was the first day of the 2011 state Special Olympics Meet.  Christian had a softball throw and Callie had a tennis ball throw.  While we were waiting for their turn, we watched a wheelchair race.  It was a 25M wheelchair race.  There were 4 men racing.  The first and second ones across the finish line were in racing chairs and tooling along pretty quickly.  The third finished shortly after.

 I thought the race was over and then heard the cheerers, yes they have volunteers whose specific job is cheering the athletes, were cheering for Paul who had basically parked on the side.  He would move just a foot or so after lots of cheering and encouragement.  It was over 16 minutes before he completed his 25M, but no one seemed to lose their patience, no one stopped him because it was taking so long and no one seemed to be at all discouraged - especially Paul.  It seems clique to say it was inspiring, but I don't know what other word to use.

Christian did a great job and took silver in the softball throw.  Callie was more interested in her technique then the actual outcome of her throw, but she was thrilled to get a bronze.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Last practice - Next stop State Meet

Tonight was the last practice for Special Olympics track and field before the state meet this Thurs., Fri. and Sat.  The field was full tonight of young men playing summer football.  Callie started out all right, but as they started playing their game the whistles started and Callie began to lose it.  She wanted to practice her run, but got about half way and fell apart.  She lie on the ground and cried.  I encouraged her to get up and try again and after a couple more false starts she made it.

Friday she is to run her 100M race.  Many of her favorite people will be there cheering her on - although she is not fond of cheering either.  There are so many of us who have a vested interest in her succeeding, but at the end of the day - she is already a huge success as she's overcome so much and, eventually, I have no doubt that this is something she will also overcome.  It may not be this year, but we will continue to cheer her on until she does.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Father Who Lives at My House.

The father who lives at my house is patient, kind and gentle.
These were not qualities I was raised to admire in men or in a father.
Thankfully God gave me a man who embodies the very essence of patience, kindness and gentleness.
He is also tons of fun to be with and why his adult sons often seek out his presence.
There is no greater compliment than when your grown up children want to spend time with their daddy.
Love you Mark - can't imagine experiencing this life without you.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Toddler Tornado goes home

We had a really fun couple of days with Toddler Tornado.  He has autism and his mom and dad have done an excellent job helping him deal with this confusing world.  It wasn't difficult taking him out places because they've done the difficult job of teaching him to hold your hand when you are walking places.  As long as he held my hand he did a great job of behaving himself.  Every once in awhile he would drop my hand and slowly edge his way further and further away from me.  As he "escaped" he would begin to get over excited and start acting "silly".  It seems as though the hand holding just helped him keep his act together, so to speak.

Probably the biggest battle we had was getting him to eat.  His food choices have become increasingly more restrictive.  He really hadn't eaten anything all day on Thursday and we wanted to be sure he didn't wake up in the middle of the night hungry.  His mom and dad brought steak for him and after cooking it we offered it on a fork, but he wouldn't have anything to do with it.  Finally Mark offered it with the tongs he had cooked it with.  That he would take and he ate it all.  His parents told us he had several forks at home that he favored as well.  Who can know why he has issues with utensils, but he does.

These are the kind of behaviors parents of kids with autism deal with every day.  They can be overwhelming to deal with, or you just realize it's just the way it is and it becomes part of your "normal".  Our daughter Callie deals with many sensory issues as well.  Today it started raining.  She has such an intense fear of lightening and thunder that she climbed into bed and covered her head hiding from what the rain might bring.

I've gotten the impression that some people look at the adjustments we make for Callie and those that are made for Toddler Tornado and think we may be "spoiling" them or giving in to them.  They simply don't understand how deep these issues are - sensory or otherwise.

 I know I had fears as a kid, still have them, but never debilitating enough to hide in my bed.  She is my hero every day that she gets up and deals with a world which often presents itself to be a very scary place for her.  My grandson is my hero as well as he is living in a world that often perplexes him in ways I don't understand.  He begins extensive therapy next week and I'm so excited to see how he progresses as I know he will.  They are over comers - every day that they get up and live in a world which I find easy to navigate, but is often completely baffling to them.

Every time they allow me to take a peek into how they experience the world it's a privilege.  How blessed I am that they are a part of my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Toddler Tornado

Today our grandson Dominic, or as his mother refers to him, the Toddler Tornado arrived.  He was wide awake when they dropped him off at 5AM on their way to the airport.  He napped about an hour this afternoon, so hopefully he'll sleep like a log.

We went to the Minnesota Zoo and met Melissa and her 2 girlies there too.  Was a good time and a beautiful day to be there.  This year summer seemed so long in coming that I'm enjoying every nano second of nice weather.

We took Shannie who was a total trooper.  The goats absolutely loved her chair and pushed on the wheels, chewed on the arms - it was pretty funny.  She didn't seem to mind nor was she particularly amused by it, but we were.

When we got home Jacob asked me where Dominic was going to sleep.  I said he would take the bottom bunk, while Jacob slept in the top.  He did the fist pull in move and said - yes! it's like having another brother!  So, apparently the other 5 brothers weren't enough?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Last Day of School

Today was the last day of school for Ella and Jacob who were the last to finish their school year.  They are happy to be off and free of a schedule for awhile and so am I.  The change in schedule is not a good thing for Callie, but she will adjust to this more free style schedule eventually.

Shannon, Callie, Christian and Jacob will all have summer school.  All four have different schedules - yikes!  Hopefully I will be able to keep the schedules straight, although I'm not placing any bets on it.

Tomorrow Dominic will be coming for a couple nights while mom and dad head to CA.  Should be fun, exhausting I'm sure, but fun.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I've never been much of a gardener, but this year decided to tackle our side yard and add some landscaping.  Mark, of course, provided much of the muscle, but I've worked physically harder the past few days then for quite some time.  It is turning out nicely, I think.

 Perhaps this is a sign of old age?  Seems like many people take up gardening in retirement or when they get older.  Not sure why that is because it is really hard work.  Hopefully rewarding, but hard work nonetheless.

I am sitting under my gazebo enjoying a glorious evening pre-mosquito weather and a very cool evening with a gentle breeze.  My favorite kinda weather.  I promised myself I would sit on this wonderful patio every day possible for at least a little bit.  This was a long winter - weather wise and these beautiful summer days are so very precious.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Callie + Reader's Theatre = Hilarity

In case I haven't mentioned it before Callie is missing the inhibition factor most of us develop as we become aware of the fact people are watching.  Callie, however, could not care less.  The play she was in was a take off on Little Red Riding Hood and she played a mother.  She played it well and remembered all her lines.  As she watched the other plays she ran up during one to put the pillow in it's correct spot and in another she turned a prop around that was placed backwards.  I have no question that she probably knew most if not all the lines in each play as well.

After the plays, the teacher played a DVD she made that highlighted the past year of school.  Callie sat quietly at first - then they played the Macarana song and she began doing the movements in her seat.  Next came the Electric Slide and there was no holding her back.  Her aide pulled her to the side, but unless they removed her from the classroom she was not going to stop.  Fortunately, the classroom teacher thought it was an added bonus and judging from the giggles of parents, no one seemed too terribly annoyed.  It's a difficult balance sometimes between appropriate behavior and letting her express herself.  Just because the rest of us are afraid to let it all hang out, why should we stop her from said hanging out.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brynn Morgan has arrived!

She was born May 26 at 8:14AM weighing in at 8 lbs. 5 ozs. which surprised everyone.  The delivering doctor sai, "Looks like you have a sumo wrestler here," which Melissa decided was an acceptable statement only because the Dr. was also Asian.  There was also a clanging of a scalpel hitting the floor followed by silence and my daughter's right on humor, "5 second rule?"

Big sister Kaia spent the night with us and did quite well, but by 11AM when it was time to go meet her baby sister she was ready to go.  On the way in as we were drilling her on seeing mommy, daddy and baby Brynn - and how she was a big sister she proclaimed, "OK I try."  When it came down to sharing daddy's lap with baby Brynn she did what every 2 yr. old does - tried to push her off daddy's lap.  Such is the beginning of sibling rivalry.

Now, everyone is home and the adjustment will begin.  I try to remember what that was like after Jonathan was born - I came home to Conor, 3, but also Chad, 9, who we had adopted just 7 mos. earlier.  Mark's mother graciously stayed with the boys while I was in the hospital, but had to return home as soon as I was home.  Somehow we all manage to adjust as will they - as I like to say - it's our new normal.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

I have never shared a Mother's Day with my mother as she died before I became one.  I also never lived in the same town as my mother-in-law, so other than a phone call, the holiday has always been mine alone.  This may not have been in my favor as it allowed me to make it all about me.  For probably the first 20+ years I celebrated Mother's Day my dear husband tried to make it special for me, but my expectations were absurd.  He also frequently had to work and so getting the day "off" for either of us wasn't working very well.

Several years back I mentioned to my kids that I wanted a 4 slice toaster for Mother's Day - unfortunately my sarcasm was lost on them and they were so excited when Mark presented this present to me. I stared back and very ungraciously said - seriously a toaster.  

I finally decided that my husband was the most wonderful father and generous husband and that giving him a bad time for being a less than perfect gift giver said more about what an ungrateful person I was than whether or not he appreciated me.  

The best gift we gave ourselves was no gifts at all.  We either buy something for ourselves or just go out for dinner and a movie or sometimes spend a night in a motel - all better than stressing out trying to buy just that right thing.

However, this year he about busted a gut with excitement, although I was clueless, when he presented me with the most generous gift ever - a laptop computer.  Not just any laptop, but a MacBook Air.  I've been waxing poetic about that book I'm going to write someday and how it would be so much easier if I just had a laptop I could use.  Well, here it is and now the pressure is on.  Not from number one husband, but from myself.  

This present totally makes up for the toaster - I pinky swear promise to never mention it again.  Oh my goodness, how in heavens name can I match this for Father's Day - yikes!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cultural Literacy - Sort Of

I take my role as a caucasian mother raising AA children very seriously.  So much cultural information that  a AA child might pick up just being in a black family or community generally becomes a purposeful conversation for us.  Some are important pieces of history or teaching racial slurs so they know when they are being insulted - a coping skill they definitely need to know.  Then there are the hilarious or absurd conversations as the one we had last night.

My Ella is a very curvy girl already and will become more so as she grows and giving her a good self image is utmost on my mind when I look at how quickly she is physically maturing.  So conversations such as we had in the car last night are important for us to have.  What a huge disservice I would do to my daughter to send her out into the world completely ignorant to her history and culture.  Therefore, we had a talk about big butts - yes a very cultural conversation.

While switching stations they were listening to a hip hop song which had a reference to a girl's big backyard - not sure they heard it, but I started gabbing that many hip hop songs make references to, well, big butts - which is cultural.  So, I started telling Ella what a great apple bottom she has and how when a black woman asks, "Do these pants make my butt look big?" and someone says yes - this is the answer they're hoping to hear.  On the other hand, a white woman would likely be insulted.  "Isn't that silly," I said.

Then I launched into the song from Sir Mix-A-Lot that they know from Shrek, "I like big butts and I cannot lie!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Special Olympics flashback

Callie and Christian are both old enough to participate in Special Olympics now, so I signed them up for track and field.  Chad, who is 36 now, was active for a few years when he was in elementary school.  For a variety of reasons we stopped participating, not the least of which was his fear of starter guns.  He would stand at the starter line with his hands on his ears waiting for the gun to go off and after all the other athletes were well on their way he would start his run.

 I assumed with the awareness of sensory issues, sensitivity to sound being a big one, another way to start races would have been in place.  But, as Callie lined up to run for the first time, with her ear protectors in place, she saw the starter gun and started walking briskly the other direction.  I was very clear that if the gun was used, we would likely have to leave and the dad put the gun away without hesitation.  I asked the coach if they would be used at the meets and the answer was a clear yes.

It seemed an e-mail to the state office was in order to express some dismay that the use of guns was still in effect.  The reply I got was that when a sport traditionally uses a starter gun, then that's what they do.  If an athlete has a problem with the gun a whistle can be used in it's place.  Now this really shows no understanding of sensory issues as any gun going off anywhere in the arena will send Callie running - and not as intended.

After stewing about it a bit I decided that we should figure out a way for her to make peace with the starter gun.  She can't spend her whole life arranging her life around the possibility of loud and unexpected noises.    So, a new pair of ear protectors, hopefully a more effective pair, are on order.  The $200+ ones are out of our price range, so hopefully the $35 will suffice.  I'm also tracking down a starter gun and darn it we're going to do our level best to help her overcome her fear.  She's overcome so much, why not this?

Now, as to the Special Olympics - one of the meanings of special refers to exceptional.  Callie is nothing if not exceptional and if anyone deserves to run in the Special Olympics - she does.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Well Preserved

The other day I was shopping with Shannon - a rare occasion for us for several reasons.  Generally I do not shop with children.  The majority of my kids are not recreational shoppers.  This is probably due to the fact that it is rare that a purchase is likely to be made and unless it's a toy - they're not interested.  Works for me.

So, Shannon will soon be 14 - amazing - and we were having a girl's day out.  I found a cute outfit for her at Macy's - major clearance - and we were checking out.  I didn't have my Macy's card, so gave her my ID to look up my account info.  Obviously she took note of my age, but I didn't realize that was the catalyst of the conversational exchange we then had.  She first started commenting on my coral colored hoodie and what a great color it was on me.  Then she proceeded to tell me, in a very thick Asian accent which for some reason made it funnier, how I didn't have any age spots on my face or wrinkles.  Well, now that's just ridiculous as it took me a pound of make up to cover both those things up.

At first I was kind of flattered and then I realized she was commenting because she knew what my advanced age was and I officially have hit the "well-preserved" category.  I guess that's still a good thing, but it's hard to get used to the - you look great...............for your age - comments.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Full Moon?

We've noticed a huge correlation between several of our kids - Callie in particular this past time - and an increase in impulsivity or other behavioral issues.  Everyone who works in group homes, hospitals, nursing homes, the court system, etc. they all have notice that there is an increase - this is not a new phenomenon it's a well known fact.  Now, why it occurs is up for grabs, but there is no denying it does happen.  Hello - where do you think the term lunatic came from?  Just google moon cycle and behavior and you'll see a list of the increase in violent crimes etc. etc.

Here are two of Callie's creations over the past super moon - the biggest in almost 20 yrs.  The fish survived and thankfully we did not have a reinactment of the book, "A Fish out of Water".  In case you've never read it the boy in the book can't resist feeding the fish over and over again instead of the small pinch the pet store owner told him to feed it.  The fish ends up huge - too big for even a swimming pool.  
The "mural" on her bedroom wall will take longer to fix.  Yes, it's permanent marker, so painting is in order.  However, my dear Mark, is already in the process of creating a new bedroom for Ella who has been a patient roomate, but as she nears 10, she really needs some space to herself.  So,  he just finished painting her new room and still has woodwork etc. to complete before he can then turn his attention to yet another repair job.  Hence the often stated - no wonder we never get ahead in this joint!
You can see the progression from right to left as she practices the playground scene she wants to draw.  Happy children on a slide - the sun is smiling.  I'm thinking if we hadn't been in such a hurry to clean it up, maybe we would have just framed it and called it art. I've seen worse.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue. Where did that annoying expression come from.  I've never been a particularly patient person, which for some odd reason seems to surprise people.  I have certainly come a long way, but every once in awhile that ugly snapping impatient head pops out and watch out or better yet get out of my way.

In Wikipedia it states, "Patience is the level of endurance one's character can take before negativity."  I sure hate when my character is called into question.

But Thomas Jefferson said, "Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances." So then, if I develop more patience than I can be just a little bit superior - but then I have an issue with pride which is another character flaw. Who am I kidding being cool and unruffled at all times is never going to happen.  Sometimes you just can't win.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What's broken mean?

Yesterday during worship at church Callie was in her usual spot, front and center, singing and dancing her dolls on the stage as she stood before it.  The song was Hosanna by Paul Baloche and one line states, "In Your Kingdom broken lives are made new,  You make us new."  As soon as that line finished she rushed over to me and said, "Mom, what's broken mean?"  I was already feeling emotional from a long week and tears were threatening to spill over just from weariness as I held her face in my hands and said, "It means hearts - broken hearts Callie."

She rushed back to her spot to continue singing and memories of her face when she first came filled my head.  She was beautiful, but her face lacked all expression and she was a perfect example of a broken life. Then I watched her continue to dance her dolls and sing along - what an awesome vision of a broken life made new.  How grateful I am that God has allowed us to be a witness to her transformation and what hope it gives to me that He will continue to make lives new.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dancing at the edge

For about a week now, we've had a child who is dancing at the edge, as we call it.  This means they walk right to the edge of misbehavior or a temper tantrum and then at the last minute step away.  It is exhausting to parent during those times as you never know when the cliff will be jumped.  Today the edge was stepped on in a store as the child threw down a toy, crossing the arms as they didn't get their way.  With a typical child I'd have scooped them up and out we'd gone.  This is not possible with this child.  Too big and they would likely have run top speed away from me which would have been incredibly upsetting to the other child with me and dangerous for the child who would have run.

Parenting children with attachment issues is a whole different kind of parenting.  Yes, you must hold them accountable, but in order to safely go through the day, sometimes concessions are made.  It's been a long week and Mark and I both feel as if we're walking the edge too - the edge of our own temper tantrum.  

Next weekend is our anniversary and boy could we have used some time away, but that is not to be.  Hopefully, next week will be calmer - hope does spring eternal, but frankly tonight, we're just very weary.  Perhaps tomorrow we will all take a big step away from the edge - that would sure be nice.

Friday, March 4, 2011

She's My Hero

Today Callie had a field trip to a museum and our state capitol.  All week her school staff have been trying to prepare her.  Their biggest concern was her extreme fear of the "big" bus.  You see she is picked up daily at the end of our driveway by the "little" special ed. bus.  She always wears her headphones which mute the sounds she has to deal with.  Her driver knows to never honk the horn or warn her if it's really necessary.  Even then, she may have a meltdown.

Well, she did it.  She got on the bus and had a great time and her behavior was awesome!  She has overcome so much and I'm so proud of her.  I wonder how many fears I have that prevent me from my full potential - ones I may not even be aware of because I have worked around them for so long.

Callie you are awesome and totally my hero - way to go!

Monday, February 14, 2011

His Hands

Last night our church served dinner at the Simpson's Homeless Shelter again.  Ella, Jacob and one of Ella's friends also come along.  Our Sunday school kids had created Valentine's to be handed out, so that was the kid's job.  When we were ready to leave the kitchen and hand them out Ella said, "I'm not comfortable with this,"  to which I replied, "Get ready to get out of your comfort zone then because that's why we're here."

The three of them went from table to table passing them out.  Some quietly received them, at one table a couple of the women giggled together how sweet that was and how cute they were and one gentleman asked Ella's friend to write his name on the envelope.  Then there was the younger gentleman who wanted to share a magic trick with them in return.  He had two cards that were red and blue and curved so when they were on top of each other they were the same size, but when side to side one looked taller.  They were baffled and he was thrilled by their response.  He came back about 5 or 6 times to repeat the trick.  He then let each of them hold the cards and try it as well.  It was so very sweet to see them huddled together and to see the man smiling so very broadly.  We always pray before we serve and ask God to give us Jesus' words of kindness and to let our hands be His hands - the kids did just that and I was so very proud of them.

Every time we go I am amazed at the resilience of people.  Yes, there are some folks there that look as if they can barely hold their heads up and for them, my heart breaks.  But, there are so many people we meet there who smile and are so gracious and thankful that it's amazing.  One woman came in and introduced herself and thanked us for the food and then said, "It was great because I'm eating for two - because I have a split personality."  That a girl!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happiness is...........

According to a new study people who make $75,000 per year are the happiest - less then that and they're more unhappy and more doesn't make you happier.  To that I say - wowser - that's a lot of dough.  We are in the process of raising 11 kids and somehow we've managed to be pretty happy I think with considerably less.  I certainly understand that at a certain point when you don't have to worry about paying your bills or if you can provide for the necessities of life including health care, but every thing after that is really gravy isn't it
  I learned early on in parenting from a friend not to take kids shopping unless necessary.  Her philosophy was it just creates discontent about what they have when they discover what they don't have.  How true that is for all of us, especially those of us who live in overindulgent suburbia.  I had to remind my kids often that - no - we are not poor.  We just happen to live amongst people that contrasted to the rest of the world are completely rich.  In fact, contrasted to the rest of the world - we - are really rich.

 How very skewed our perspective can get.  This is why traveling is so very important.  When you are exposed to how the rest of the world lives it is easier to keep things in perspective.  Now, maybe if we did fall into that $75,000 income range we could do more of that traveling - maybe that would make me happier - most likely I'll never know.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Not borrowing trouble

Again Callie has amazed us.  She came home with a spelling test this week that her teacher allowed her to take orally.  She spelled - bought, spread, grocery, these, write and emergency perfectly!  A+ 100%  This coming from the girl who might not walk, didn't speak at all till she was past 3 yrs. old etc. etc. etc.

The other day she was turning the lamp on - just carefully turning the knob.  This may not sound amazing to anyone else, but to us, this is completely amazing.  Just a year ago she was throwing lamps down or across the room on a fairly regular basis.

It is a great thing to remind ourselves of the humongous strides she has made.  It's so easy to get bogged down on what she is unable to do, or the behaviors you fear will never go away - especially as she gets bigger and we get older.  Those are legitimate fears, however, I remind myself of the biblical wisdom in Matthew 6:34 which states "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of it's own." - Amen to that!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King day in school

The charter school Ella and Jacob attend does not take Martin Luther King day off. It's our first year there, so I'm not sure why that is, but they were only back two days from their long winter break before MLK day, so perhaps that is why.
I asked them in what ways the school or teachers recognized the day. Ella said that basically they just said - Happy Martin Luther King day. Not quite what I was hoping for. Jacob said they read a book detailing Dr. King's life. He said as his teacher was reading everyone turned around to look at Jacob. Apparently he is now the only black kid in his class, so when they were discussing segregation they naturally looked at him. He didn't like that - who could blame him. I told him that likely the kids looked at him because they had never heard there was a time when kids of different colors weren't allowed to be in school together. And I do believe that that is probably true. Everyone wants to believe that we can be color blind, but we aren't, nor do I necessarily think we should be.
In a Newsweek article from Sept. 2009 titled "See Baby Discriminate" three groups of families were asked to discuss racial equality with their children. The first group were simple given multiculturally themed videos, the second group used the videos and were to follow up with a discussion and the third group were given a checklist of topics, but no videos. Out of about 30 families in the third group - 5 abruptly quit the study. Two told the researchers, "We don't want to have these conversations with our child. We don't want to point out skin color." Hey guess what everybody - they've already noticed! The study went on to discover that those who thought their goal of "teaching" their kids to be colorblind actually taught the opposite. When asked, "Do your parents like black people?" Fourteen percent said outright, "No, my parents don't like black people." 38% answered that they didn't know. By ignoring people's race parents actually were telling their kids different must be bad.
This is my opinion, but living in a suburb where diversity exists, but as I stated Jacob is still the only black kid in his class, we, as parents, have to talk about it - in a positive way - but we must address that race does exist. How do we do that? Well, I'd say taking advantage of Martin Luther King day, for instance, is a good start. Discuss who he was and what he did. Go to one of the many special events that go on the weekend before the holiday. Send them to me - I'll tell them the story of how I got to shake his hand as a little girl. Beyond that, seek out multicultural friends and don't be afraid to discuss their differences - notice the difference in hair, skin etc. Don't make it the focus, just work it in to the conversation. I have an adult son who made me aware of using color when describing someone - everyone - "my friend Mary - she's white, has blond hair and blue eyes, about my height" - it is a part of our description and our reality and not only used for people who's skin is different from mine. I always ask my kids what color the person's skin is when they describe them, it's simply a part of their description, not the focus.
Thankfully, on Wed. the kids came home to tell me they had a special program about Dr. King, his legacy and how people are different and the same. Yes were are, but talking about our differences is just as important as pointing out how much the same we are - in our house different is good - really good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Green flag us!

Late Sunday afternoon Shannon developed a crudie eye which I knew was pink eye. Jonathan and Jill both had it and I've seen it many times. So, I started flushing it like crazy with a baking soda water mix I read about as a natural treatment. By Mon. morning it was hardly even red - but - I knew if I didn't get Dr. ordered drops school would be a problem.
I really didn't want to have to drag Shannon into the Doc's office and Mark was on an overnight with Ella and Jacob, so I called in to see if they'd just order the drops for me. When the nurse called she asked me to tell her the symptoms, which I did, but she quizzed me a bit and I really had to bite my tongue to not just yell - I'm pretty sure I've seen more cases of pink eye just in my family then you have at work - but I managed to control my tongue. It's really a pride issue, I guess, as we've had so many times that we've had to run to school to change out a G-tube because the medical staff had no idea what to do when one has fallen out.
I wish that there was a way to flag our kids files so that staff could know - these people know what they're doing! Maybe I should market that - green for knowledgeable parents, yellow for parents open to learning or on their way and red for parents who call and freak out about every little thing. Boy, that would sure save me a lot of time and frustration and it's, of course, really about me isn't it?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday mornings

Sunday mornings are generally a little hectic around here. We had everyone dressed etc. and ready to go except Shannie and Chad. I sent Ella and Jacob out, then Christian and Callie down the basement stairs. Mark was concerned about them being out by the van because it was running. I said I was sure it was OK for a minute, but then said that he should probably head down - more because our van lift is acting up and has to be hand cranked until we can get it fixed.

I finished getting Shannie and Chad ready and headed down in the elevator. When we got outside Mark said he found Callie kneeling in front of the exhaust pipe of the van like she was having a facial. Yikes! Somedays that girl just cuts years off our lives I'm sure.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Giggles on the couch

Tonight there was a family film on TV - Change of Plans - in which a couple without children inherit 4 children due to tragic circumstances. It was fun to watch with the kids and a bit of a tearjerker - completely unrealistic - in just a few weeks the kids all fall in love with their new parents - right.......

During one commercial break there was an ad promoting adoption - specifically older adoption. The kids would say things like, "now I have a mom and dad to tuck me in" and "now I have a mom to read me a story every day" - ah, so cute. Then one kid says, "sometimes my mom lets me and my sister stay up late and watch a movie" to which Ella and Jacob shout - "ah, no fair you never do that!" Then Ella says - "wait, we're doing that now aren't we?" Well, technically it wasn't late, but glad she recognized she didn't get such a raw deal.