Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to score on a Home Study

We have been in the adoption arena for many years and during that time we have learned a lot of things. One of the most stressful parts of an adoption is the home study. Here comes a total stranger to inspect your home and rate you as prospective parents. It is terrifying! Will they look in the closets? In the oven? Under your bed????? In my experience, the social workers were so nice and my anxiety was totally un-called for, but still, I stressed. Each and every time.

So here are my secrets to acing that most important interview. The home study.....

First, be sure your children are perfectly groomed. Not a hair out of place........

Have lots of inspirational signs all over the house. Shows them you have a great outlook on life.
Keep lots of healthy snacks in plain sight. Healthy food builds healthy kids ya know!!!!!
Show them that your childs health is first and foremost. Vitamins, minerals, immunity boosters, Nestles Quik. Yeah, very important. Milk..makes a body good. Or something like that.
Make sure you have a really cool pet. Social workers love rodents. If not a rodent, be sure to have a big hairy tarantula or at least a poisonous snake.
There should always be some unexpected decorations in the house. Random rubber mice stuck to the ceiling are very good.
Have a really organized pantry, showing lots of healthy food. It is a huge bonus if you can have random religious material in amongst the food. (See the yellow cross? It says, 'To God, You are the Best".)
So follow our lead and you are sure to impress and even WOW that social worker with your awesomeness. Oh, and one more thing. Be sure to show them the un-flushed toilets so they know your children are regular!!! You can thank me now for no pictures.......

Friday, February 26, 2010

Go Texan Day

There is a tradition round these here parts that the week right before *Rodeo* begins all the school kids dress up like cowboys and cowgirls and have Go Texan Day. All week long they study about Texas, the history, the state bird/mammal/flowers, the map, etc. It's a big deal here.

So let me introduce you to the cowboys of the Jammin J Ranch.

Little S shows us his best gun battle pose. Draw mister!

Laughin Levi does a little cowboy runway pose. Hmm, too much time hanging around his sisters maybe? Or a future as a male model.....
And Adorable Ahren the silly smilin cowboy. He is the ladies man of the bunch, spending most of his time wooing the cowgirls.
Here is the whole Jammim J Ranch Gang, ready to round up those cows and lasso some pretty girls.
Had to add one more picture. Little Miss Holly, dressed in the finest ladies duds, stopped by for a little photo op this morning. Levi says he is going to marry her. Awww......
*Rodeo*: The Houston Livestock and Rodeo is a HUGE event and is known simply as Rodeo. In their minds, there is no other. They may be right!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Anniversary My Sweetheart!

Eight years. It's been eight years! I love this man more today than I did when we said our vows. He is the salt of the earth, the kindest, most decent, caring person I have ever met. He makes me be a better person just by being around him. He is my heart, my soul, my world. My everything. I wanted to do a post listing 100 things I love about him, but i don't have a lot of time this morning. Here is a first stab at it:

1) His smile
2) His giving heart
3) he spoils me!
4) He laughs at my stupid jokes
5) he makes me laugh
6) He trusts easily and openly
7) he would give you the shirt off his back
8) he is a manly man
9) his butt
10) his patience
11) he is always calm
12) he loves everything I cook (or at least pretends to)
13) his quick wit
14) he is a great snuggler
15) he loves our kids with his whole heart
16) he is a fantastic father
17) he calls me every day
18) he is dependable
19) he tells me he loves me every day
20) he kisses me goodbye and hello every day
21) he loves wildlife
22) he is a friend to the end
23) he is very loyal
24) he fills my van up with gas
25) he holds the door for me
26) he puts up with my crazies
27) he is a great hugger
28) he has big strong hands
29) he is a homebody
30) he loves to read

More later.....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weekend updates

We just got home from spending the middle of the day at 'The place where a kid can be a kid' and where parents lose their minds and money. You know the one, with the giant cartoon rat and rubber pizza? The boys had a ball and Kaytee came with me to help. (Bless that child, she VOLUNTEERED!) Everyone ate a ton of pizza which is unusual. they are usually too busy to stop and eat. Today they were begging me to buy more pizza. Go figure!

Now Kaytee is at a modeling class, the boys are watching a movie courtesy of netflix, and I am supposed to be cleaning. Oh well, those dust bunnies are awfully cute!

This has been a week of fears and tears. I am hesitant to say too much but things came up that made us fear that Little S would not get to stay with us. Luckily it is all working out. We love that little guy so much and I can't imagine having to let him go. It has only been a number of weeks but we have laid a firm foundation and are seeing improvements daily. He is turning out to be a happy, fun little boy whose greatest joys come from 'sitting in our laps and snuggling and playing with his brothers' (his exact words). We discovered that he has reflux and started him on a daily medicine and he has stopped throwing up and complaining of tummy aches. He is eating everything in sight and I had to move him up a size in pants. The old ones were too short and too tight! He is sleeping well although he has a habit of waking really early and then waking up the entire rest of the household, not by being bad but just by being so excited that he is very loud. He just can't wait for everyone else to get up.

Ahren is a hoot. He is the ultimate charmer, so beautiful and so ornery all at the same time. His biggest goal in life is to get someone else to do everything for him. He will tell me he can't put his shoes on because his legs are broken, that he is too tired, that his back hurts, anything he can think of. it is hilarious. It has been good for him that Little S has been here because the competition between them has actually spurred him on to do many more things for himself. He wants to keep up and that motivates him. He can now swing himself, something I had been trying to get him to do for ages. But Little S could do it and lo and behold, Ahren can too!

Levi is so sweet. If I say something about taking him to the store with me, he will ask if we can take the little boys with us too. He likes to buy them things if he grocery shops with me. He gets annoyed with them, totally normal, but he also looks out for them and takes care of them. One day they were outside playing and Little S came in without telling Levi. Levi couldn't find him and freaked out. He found him inside and gave him a big lecture on letting someone know where he is going. I don't ever expect Levi to be responsible for them, that's not his job. He just does it all on his own. He is the best big brother!

We got some other really sad news this week. A couple that we are really close to is splitting up. My heart is breaking for both of them. I have been through it and would never wish that pain on anyone, not even my worst enemies. It makes me stop and realize that I take my dear sweet husband for granted. I don't let him know how much he means to me. It is our anniversary this week so what better time to show him all that he means to me. Now if I just had a clue on how to show him.....beyond the obvious, that is. Something really special. I am going to have to think, think, think.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I wish...

That I could always be so patient and cool headed, but alas, I am human. I have my moments. I have been following Christine's vlogs on therapeutic parenting and trying to learn sooo much. She had a wonderful one on lying and trying to get our kids to tell the truth. bottom line is they will dig in and never tell the truth if you try and make them. But, but, but......No, no buts, they still get a consequence but save your breath trying to get them to admit something.

Yeah, I heard the information but it is sooo much harder to actually do it in the heat of the moment. This morning Little S kicked Levi in the mouth. I saw it, I knew what happened, but do you think I could get him to ADMIT he kicked his brother? Heck no. After minutes of me arguing with a 4 year old and LOSING (yeah, goodbye pride...) it finally dawned on me. I stopped, put him in a chair until he could say he was sorry, stopped arguing with him and just told him he was in control of when he got out of the chair. Then I walked away. Totally frustrated and mad at myself, but quiet. Little S sat there for a good 10 minutes, first crying big tearless fake sobs, then whining loudly, then finally pouting quietly. Eventually he got off the chair and apologized to Levi. I praised him for that and told him to go play.

Man, these techniques sound so simple, if A then B, etc. But in reality it goes against every parenting instinct. I have a lot to learn and practice!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Crisis managed

This is a typical event at our house and happens many times a day. Switch out the item in question, the players and the level of hitting/screaming and lather, rinse, repeat.

Boy 1: Has ball.
Boy 2: Wants ball. Decides that best way to get ball is to scream in Boy #1's ear.
Boy #1 smacks offending Boy #2.
Boy #2 responds by wildly flailing, smacking and screaming at Boy #1.

Mom steps in. Arguing I let them try and solve themselves, physical contact and I step in.

1st, I separate them and quiet them down. I talk quietly and if they interrupt I hold up one finger, tilt my head and remind them I am talking. This usually works.

I ask Boy #2 if he tried asking nicely for the ball. He starts to say, 'But I..' and I cut him off. This is a yes or no answer, did you ask nicely. He starts, 'Well, I..' and I cut him off. I keep reminding him that I am asking a simple yes or no question and just need an answer, not an argument. He eventually mumbles No and pouts.

In the meantime, Boy #1 is trying to interrupt over and over again and I stop him too. I explain that I am talking to Boy #2 and that he will have a turn next. I finally ask him if he thought he handled the situation well, and he admits he didn't. I ask him how he could have done better and he tells me.

I then tell Boy #2 if he still wants the ball to please ask nicely. He pouts for a little while longer, then asks Boy #1, 'Can I have the ball, please?' and Boy #1 hands it to him with a smile. They all play happily for a little while.

Mommy pours herself more coffee, wishes she had some Kahlua to add to it, and attempts to read more than one sentence in the paper.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Oh, and we instituted a new star chart yesterday. To earn a star a child needs to do something nice, unexpectedly and without being asked, for another brother. Sharing does not count, it is expected. Conversely, hurting a brother without being provoked causes the offending child to lose a star. So far they are struggling to understand what will earn a star. There has been lots of trying to give each other things, etc and that doesn't count. (They can't yell, 'Look Mommy, I gave him the ball' and get a star) We'll see how this goes....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pix and updates

Isn't this an amazing picture of Ashley? As Kaytee always says, she is cute but Ashley is beautiful. Truly beautiful.
These two boys share a passion/addiction to the Wii. We let them play some each day but have to limit it. No couch potatoes allowed!
I swear this child was meant for us, with his love, love, love of cheese. We are one cheesy family! By the way, he has gained almost 6 pounds and grown almost an inch in a month. I think he is trying his best to compete with Ahren! So long college fund, hello food bill. Hee!
We like to make home-made pizzas and I let each of the boys roll out their own pizza dough. (Home made dough by me of course!) Then they got to top them and get them ready for the oven. It was messy but a blast. They are so proud of their creations and snarf them down.
Little S really got into his work. How this child got flour in his ear I will never know....
Mommy, mommy, take my picture!! I hear that a lot around here.
One day before school they decided I needed to take pictures of them so they got some accessories and posed for me. Can you see that Little S is catching up in height to Ahren? (Of course the spiked hair helps...)
We got new bicycles for the two little boys. They are identical except for a big A or S on the front. It has been really cold but that hasn't stopped them from enjoying them. With the long driveway around the house and to the barn plus the basketball court they have plenty of room to ride without ever getting near the street.
Loving his new ride and trying to stay warm. Lips are blue? Time to come in!
On warmer days this is the walk the men folk take each evening. They take our black lab Jackson for a walk around the pond, throw out fish and turtle food and bond. That's Levi on his four wheeler in the background. Note the helmet. It is only a battery powered 4-wheeler but it can go pretty fast and we are teaching him the safety rules right off the bat.

Amazing! We passed an entire week without one illness. No one threw up, no fevers, no infections, no snotty noses, no visit to the doctors office. It was like a vacation!!!!

Kaytee has been accepted into 6 or 7 colleges and now she had to do the hard task of deciding where to go. Each of the schools offered the medical background classes she is interested in, each had pro and cons and each needed careful consideration. Well, after lots and lots of research, she has chosen her college. Texas Tech!!!! She will be a Red Raider come this fall. She is rooming with a friend and we have her room reserved and her dining package selected. She is registered for orientation and this is really happening. My BABY!!!! How soon is too soon to start crying???????

Ahren woke up at 12:35 last night and proceeded to wake up most of the household. He hasn't done that in a while. He then proceeded to stay awake for 2 hours, keeping both me and Little S awake the entire time. Some of it was S's fault too. They feed off of each other. They were not throwing fits, just wouldn't settle down and kept getting out of bed. The consequence for not sleeping at night? Naps! They are both sound asleep right now. There was much whining and complaining about having to lay down, but both were asleep in minutes. Me? No such luck. No naps for Mommy, just good coffee and the knowledge that they will remember naptime the next time they think they can stay up all night.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Nonsense questions and chattiness

A while back I talked about how Ahren would ask a single, nonsense question over and over and over. I'm not talking 5 or 6 times, I m talking 20, 30 or 40 times. Seriously. At the time, I didn't recognize it as a sign of an attachment disorder, but now I know. When he sat in his carseat and asked Daddy 47 times, 'What doing Daddy?', even though we answered him, it wasn't a sign of curiosity. Nope. Not at all. He knew what Daddy was doing. It wasn't about that. Not at all. He needed us to respond, no matter what, to him. He needed to hear us, to know we heard him, to be answering him no matter what. A control issue perhaps?

We have dealt with this in various ways. Answered him, given him nonsense answers, told him we know what he is doing and won't play, joked and teased. Somehow, it has worked and he is much better. Which one worked? I have no idea. He still asks non-sense questions, but not repeating like before.

Ahren likes to talk non-stop in the car. My theory is he knows we are a captive audience so we have to listen. He will talk and talk and talk and talk. Just to hear himself talk. He doesn't say anything that is conversational or we can answer, just non-stop chatter. We have been interrupting him with our own non-sense and it has slowed his chatter. He has to stop and think about what we say, form a response and it slows him down. We also play games like 'who can be quiet the longest', He is very competitive so this helps.

Any other ideas out there on how to deal with a small child and this behavior? I appreciate any and all ideas!!!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Oh My Goodness.....

This morning Levi, at the ripe ol' age of 6 1/2, asked me what this word meant.....are you ready for this.............


I had to make him say it twice because I didn't believe what I heard.

I told him we would look it up together later.

I am soooo in trouble.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

I am of a certain age where I should have quite a storehouse of wisdom. You would assume so, anyways. Unfortunately I am also quite stubborn and that tends to be my downfall.

For your reading pleasure I bring to you some things I have recently learned the hard way:

1) Denying to yourself that you are getting the sickness of the week will NOT prevent you from getting it.

2) Taking your children to indoor 3D black-light mini golf while in that state of denial is NOT a good idea.

3) In further denial, do NOT eat mexican fast food for lunch. I can't stress that one enough.

4) Do NOT promise to take aforementioned children to Target later in the day when denial of stomache bug is clearly NOT working.

5) Do not attempt parenting, therapeutic of plain jane, while trying not to hurl mexican fast food at your offspring. Yelling, 'Just leave me alone' while in the bathroom is really unacceptable, even if you are having a 'reversal of fortune' at the time.

And so, I hope that you are not as stubborn as I am and that you can learn something from my mistakes. Now please forgive me while I go lie on the couch and pretend dinner will make itself.

Oh, and I did manage to get the van cleaned. Three rounds of Lysol soaking by me plus a professional shampooing did the trick. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Worst Lunch Hour EVER

I spent the morning at work after dropping everyone off at school/preschool. I then swung by the pre-school to get all the littles and headed home. We had just walked in the door when Little S told me he was going to throw up. I rushed him to the bathroom but the door was locked and it was in use. So I snatched him up and ran for the kitchen sink, making it just in time for the geyser to blow.

I got him cleaned up and settled down and then the phone rang. It was the school nurse and I needed to pick up Levi. I got there, checked him out and had to take the long way home because the back street into our neighborhood was blocked off. About one block from the house I heard gulp, gulp, splaaaash, splash, splash. Sure enough Levi was vomiting all over the inside of the van. He had just finished lunch so there was a lot.

I got him home, cleaned up and into bed and went out to try and clean up the worst in the van. It is down into the seats, under the seats, in the seat belt tracks, everywhere. I soaked it with Lysol, wiped up everything I could see, soaked it all again and left the van in the garage with all the windows open. I drove the other car back to work.

Both boys fell asleep and later threw up again. They seem better now. We will see how tonight goes. It's only a matter of time before everyone else is hit with this.

Anyone want to purchase a used, very smelly van?????