Fast forward to the treeless treehouse designs I purchased and which we are currently building. It looks rather petite in the plans, something I was worried the boys might just outgrow in a couple of years. I was actually thinking of enlarging it a little so they would be able to use it longer. Well after two days of hard work, the frame and deck platform are up and this thing is HUGE! The deck is above my head, the frame stands high in the sky and I have absolutely no idea how we are going to get the roof on that high in the air. It called for 16 ft frame boards, and that folks is just a little too tall for me to go scampering around trying to screw down plywood. I can lay the deck boards myself, I mean 7-8 feet up is not a problem, but the roof? Maybe I can rent a cherry picker for a day and dangle from it's basket to get the roof on?
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
We have been trying to get Kaytee's senior pictures taken for over a month. The first appt was ruined because Ashley visited and decided to take some of Kaytee's clothes home with her. What she chose was what Kaytee had laying out, the outfits for her portraits. We had no time to find new outfits so we rescheduled. The next appt it was raining. And the NEXT app it was raining. (We wanted some outdoor shots so rain was a big no-no) Finally, yesterday was a go. I love, love, love this photographer. She is very gifted, has a wonderful eye, and loves to do things that are very original. A lot of the seniors use the same photographer and all their shots look exactly the same. Just put a different person in the pic and voila. I hate that. The last part of the shoot was outside. We took a gold brocade love seat out to a field of flowers and shot there. The photos were amazing. I can't wait to show them off. The funniest thing, though, was it was along a busy road and the whole time people honked and yelled and waved and stared. Well, except for the time Kaytee was in the van. No one noticed us much then. LOL!
Today we began building Phase 1 of our tree house fort. I have designed it in three parts. We originally wanted to build a pirate ship (had the plans for a year) but it was clear the boys would outgrow it very quickly. So instead, we are building a set of forts, connected by rope bridges and zip lines, that will grow with the boys. We ordered all the supplies last weekend and had them delivered this week. We started at 9 am this morning and are stopping tonight at about halfway done. Contrary to the opinion of the testosterone-bound dude at the lumber yard, Chris is NOT doing it all. I, with only the help of the boys, built the deck for the fort. I am one handy Mama! (Well, Chris did show me how to use the table saw, but that was all!) The directions are pretty vague and lame, so when it said to use 2 nails, I used three screws. Hey, this is going to get a LOT of hard use. Stronger is way better!!!!
Today had to be the prettiest day of the year. Sunshine with small puffy clouds. About 80 degrees with a breeze. Blue skies, green grass, happy boys. (Okay, very dirty tired boys, but still happy!) I wish we could have a hundred days like this!!!!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Last night as I was driving into our neighborhood I saw our neighbor's two dogs standing by the side of the road. I stopped, opened the side door of the van and told them to get in. Amazingly, they did! I drove the rest of the way with two happy passengers begging for pets. I pulled into their driveway and got out to knock on the door. Our neighbor answered and knew immediately why I was there. She came out and got her two wayward 4-legged children. (They are notorious for breaking through the underground dog fence system.) I left her house with a big good-samaritan smile on my face.
Then I pulled into our drive, walked in the back door and found out that Ahren had let our Yorkie (aka Cujo) loose and she was missing. Now, this is a common event around our house. That stupid dog thinks she is a big ferocious beast and charges off into the woods on a mission to catch a deer every chance she gets. All 6 pounds of her. Like that is going to happen! i keep trying to convince her she is a princess but she isn't buying it.
So I head back outside to find our missing pup, whistle once, and she comes running into my arms.
Missing dogs: Zero
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
When dealing with RAD kids, there are good days and bad days. We have been having mostly good days, and the bad days have not been as bad. yeah! (Oh now, don't be getting all cocky there Missy, cuz the Reality Fairy is about to whack you upside the head!)
Yesterday, from the moment Ahren got out of bed, he was in full Rada-licious mode. He screamed, he hated me, I didn't love him, he wasn't getting dressed, he would not pee in the potty, he kicked me, spit on me, and tried to rip my hair out. I just kept lovingly putting him on his bed and letting him know that when he could be calm he was free to join the rest of us. (OK, I ACTED lovingly but inside my head I am allowed the freedom to be ticked!)
By the time 8:45 rolled around I was MORE than ready to take him to school. I got all the kiddos loaded up, strapped in and the van in gear and spent the firsat part of the drive wondering what in the world had triggered Ahren.
Then Ahren told me his throat felt funny, and as I turned my head to see him, his mouth formed a perfect 'O' and vomit began to spew. It was like slow motion. A chunky pink geyser that splashed all over him, the seat and the floor. The other kids began to gag so I quickly opened all the window and cranked the AC down low. We got the others dropped off at school and I got Ahren home, cleaned up and into some PJ's. He felt perfectly fine the rest of the day.
The lesson of the day? Triggers do not have to be emotional to set a child off. Sometimes just a belly ache is enough to send a kid into a RAD meltdown.
P.S. He told me later he was sorry for hurting me, without me even saying a word. Then he spent the rest of the night worried I didn't love him anymore. Poor little peanut. What a day!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Today I braved the grocery store with three boys ages 6, 4 and 4. Why yes, yes, I have lost my mind! Actually we had a plan and a mighty good one I might add! Ahren and Little S were to go into the big basket, one in the seat and one in the basket part, and then Levi would get a small cart and we would put the groceries into that. Only it started raining before we got out of the house so when we got to the store all the carts were wet. I wiped one down enough to set small boys in and we set off in search of a small cart. No luck. Well, it WAS a good plan! So Ahren had to walk with Levi while I put the groceries in the basket. The boys were mostly good. The only issues were of the extreme silly kind. There was no running up and down the aisles, no begging for un-approved items, not even for candy. They stuck with me, giggling and talking in loud voices. That was about the worst of it.
Then, when I was backing out of my spot, boys all buckled in, a pick up truck came whipping around the corner. I was already 2/3 of the way out but he still tried to squeeze past me. At the last second he stopped and I finished backing up and began to pull forward. That's when he did it. He pulled up on my rear end and revved his mighty hemi engine. Oh yes he did! (And this was no kid, this was a grown man!) So I did what any sane woman would do and I proceeded down the rest of the aisle at approximately 0.05 miles an hour. If I could have gone backwards I would have! Dude, I am a mother of 5, there is nothing you can do to intimidate me!!! Back off!!!! I laughed all the way home.
Today has been one of those rainy, dark days that cause the kids to go insane stuck inside. So I made up a new game. I called it a Scavenger Hunt and sent them all over the house to collect things. Things like a piece of trash, laundry, waste baskets, toys out of place, dirty cups, etc. Then ran all over giggling like fools and trying to bring me the most of whatever the item was. In the meantime, the house was getting picked up! Next we are going to do relay races. Races dusting, sweeping, putting laundry away, anything I can think of!!!! They are so excited!!! Hee!!!
Friday, April 16, 2010
Why do little boys stink so bad? My girls would get dirty and sweaty but they didn't smell. My boys? Yikes! After a long day playing hard and being outside I can smell them across the room. I have to wash their hair twice just to get it smelling really fresh. I bought four bottles of body wash/shampoo on sale the other day and it will only last a few weeks. Should I feed them charcoal or spray them with febreeze or what???? (Kidding.....unless you think it would work)
When attempting to take a 3 minute shower, it is really a good idea to take the cap off of the razor before trying to shave ones armpits. It is really more affective that way. I'm just saying.
A high school senior can spend the equivalent of a year of college tuition just getting ready to graduate so that they can get to college. Prom and graduation are right around the corner and the money hemorrhaging is in full swing. At this point she is going to get a gift card to the local coffee house for her gift cuz that's all I can afford! (I can see Kaytee's face when she reads that! Hilarious!!!)
Leaving a bottle of prescription eye drops on the kitchen counter is apparently an invitation for small booger boys to take it and empty it, leaving one without any medicine for a goopy eye.
Latest thing that is working great with Little S. The other day when he was upset and told me he didn't want to live here any more I told him I was sorry but he was stuck. Stuck with me forever. Ever since then he has asked me fifty times a day if he is stuck, and then smiles and hug-hug-hugs me when I tell him yes. I make it out like it's out of my control and we just have to learn to like it, but we are doing great so that's not a problem! Ahren tells him he is stuck, too and he just loves it. Seems like my best ideas are really accidental!
Still getting more tests on Ahren. More scheduled for today and next week. I thought it took a long time to get him adopted and home to us, but diagnosing him might just take as long! Right now he is having good days and slightly bad days. The bad days he is just extra tired, his blood sugar is low and he is spilling ketones which means his body is digesting muscle for fuel. It's not at serious levels so we are stable.
Ahren cannot drink from a cup without a lid. He spills it almost every time. He has been falling down a lot again too. Just standing there and he keels over. He has fallen out of his chair three times this week. I can't tell if he is just weak from whatever is going on or if he is just clumsy. He has a funny walk, too. His flat feet slap down on the ground, turn in slightly and he kind of shuffles. More muscle signs? Or is he just a goof? Well, I know he is a goof, but is there more?
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
A story about adoption failure began to surface this week all over the world. Like most adoption stories, it started with the simplest of wishes...to parent a child. A single woman, a nurse, adopted a 7 year old boy from Russia. She and her mother travelled in September to bring him home to the US. The mother and grandmother were prepared to love this boy. What they didn't know is that adopting an older child, especially one from the orphanage system, can (not always!) mean the child has suffered many traumas. Neglect, abandonment, abuse, hunger, and many more unimaginable things.
The boy, who they renamed Justin, began exhibiting behavioral issues in January (according to the articles I have seen). Hitting, spitting, screaming, threats. Violence sparked by trying to correct him or tell him no. The family felt unable to handle this child, so they made arrangements to return him to Russia. They put him on a plane along with a letter, and had a man pick him up at the airport and drop him off at the offices that oversee adoptions.
I am still trying to process this. There is no way we are getting all the information in these news stories. Did they seek help? Was there even time in that Jan-April time frame to get help? Did they contact their agency, home study social worker or even the local DFCS offices? Were they turned away? Did the judge in Russia tell the family that if they didn't want him they had to return him to Russia?
The Russian government is using this story to it's fullest to crucify the US. They want to shut down all US adoptions, blame US families for all the problems, etc etc. No part of the blame is theirs....and yet. Who runs these orphanages that care so poorly for the children that they end up horribly traumatized? Who sets the rules as to what info the adoptive families can receive? Who fails to educate the adoptive families on what issues the children might have? Who should be there to provide support when the families are struggling to parent these traumatized children????
There is so much blame, plenty to go around. The truth is that everyone failed this child. Everyone.
As the new parent to a child that came from an adoption disruption, I know what help his old family sought. I know how hard they worked and all the resources they sought out. In the end, although it was a horrifically difficult thing to do, they came to the decision that finding a different home for him was the best thing. The best for him. (Thank goodness they cared enough to do this instead of putting him on a plane) They carefully researched and sought help to find a new family. We are so blessed they chose us. Little S is a true joy. Yes he has issues. But they are issues we are well aware of and prepared to handle. Issues we have experience with. We know how to take advantage of resources, where to turn for assistance, who to call to talk us off the ledge at times.
When we filed to adopt internationally, we had to sign government paperwork that swore that we would love, care for and treat the adopted child just as we would any biological child. That the child would be afforded every right and privilege of a US citizen. That we, his adoptive family, would assume all responsibility for this child FOREVER. We took that pledge very seriously. All parenting should be taken very seriously, but when you choose to parent a child that has already suffered at least one loss (birth family), then your responsibility is even greater.
So in the end, I do blame the adoptive family for the ending of the story (only the ending). I blame them for not caring enough to find him a suitable home. For not trying for more than 2 months to identify and seek help for him. I blame them for not educating themselves before they brought him home on what issues he might have. Did they really think if they put him on that plane that the problems would all just go away for them? What about him? Did they ever consider what this act would do to him, his future, his fragile emotional state? No, I don't think they did. I think this was a terribly selfish act on their part. And we all know that true parenting cannot be selfish. Ever.
Friday, April 09, 2010
This week we had three doctors appointments, one for Little S who has an ear infection, and two for Ahren. One of his was to get the latest test results and the other was to meet with a pediatric diagnostician. The time we spent with her (90 minutes!) was wonderful. She looked through all the test results we have so far, was able to rule out a bunch of scary stuff and give us a lot of re-assurance. She is focusing her thoughts on two of the abnormal test results. The low blood sugar and the protein in the urine. We have more tests scheduled and then meet with her again. I feel like we are finally getting some traction on this. Once we get an answer to that, she is going to look at the low muscle tone and low creatinine in his blood (a marker for muscle mass). Since he also has ketones in his urine, which means his muscles are breaking down, she wants to look at that too. She thinks it is unrelated to the other issue, and can take a back-burner for now. But it's still there in her mind.
I took Little S and Ahren for Early Childhood Intervention testing at the school district offices Tuesday morning. My goal was to get them into the pre-K Head Start classes. (Free, five days a week school) They both qualified!!! Yahoo! Not because they have any huge issues or anything, but Little S qualifies because he was once in CPS custody and Ahren because he is considered ESL (english as a second language). OK, ESL is a bit of a stretch since he doesn't speak any spanish anymore, but they loved his story and wanted to keep the boys together. Oh, and they both failed their hearing tests. Little S because we found out he had a double ear infection and Ahren because he just sat there like a lump ignoring the tones in his ears! When they retested him he passed just fine, after a bunch of coaching and encouragement.
Today after I picked Levi up from school he began talking to God in the car. He told God he wanted him to put another baby just like him in my tummy. But God, be sure it's a boy-Levi and not a girl-Levi! We often talk about God in the car. That and who he is going to marry. Seriously, that has been a HUGE topic of conversation lately. Who to marry. Yikes!
Tomorrow we have Kaytee's senior portraits scheduled. First some in the studio and then some on location. I can't wait to see how they turn out. I still can't believe she is graduating. I want to squeeze her and keep her little!!!!! I guess it's a little late for that. Wah!
I need about a week to get all the outdoor work completed to get our landscaping in shape. We got a lot more freezing weather this year than is normal and lost a lot of plants. Even covering them wasn't enough. I need about 3 dump truck loads of mulch (thank goodness for the tractor to move it all around) and have enough weed and feed for 25,000 square feet of lawn to put down. Then there is the on-going battle against fire ants. For those of you who don't know the agony of fire ants, they are very aggressive ants that bite and hurt like crazy. They swarm your feet (or whatever body part happens to be in contact with the ground) and then all begin biting at once, biting over and over again. The bites turn into painful pustules by the next day. There is no love around these here parts for the ants o'fire. Poor Ahren got them in his pants recently and oh boy was that awful! They even got in his underpants. That's an owie even a Mommy can't kiss!
Monday, April 05, 2010
We had a lovely three-day weekend. It hit 90 degrees here on Saturday and those of us that are pigmentally challenged got a bit of a sunburn! Ahren, on the other hand, is turning cocoa brown. Yum! I love his skin. So beautiful! Little S is going to be tan too, but I think his hair will lighten up in the sun. Levi....well, we have lots of sunscreen!
The boys and I spent most of the day Saturday getting the garden planted. This year we added blueberry bushes, blackberry vines, two kinds of orange trees, pecan trees, and a lemon tree. This weekend we planted our tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans and watermelon. I kept it simple this year and just planted what I know we would eat. Kaytee and I will eat most of the veggies, but i plan on fixing lots of fresh veggies for the boys (including the big boy, Chris) in lots of interesting ways to see if I can hook them. I mean, who doesn't love fresh sugar snap peas?
I am heading in to pick up more of Ahren's test results this morning and have another appt for him Thursday. This morning when he got up I took him to the potty and he peed what looked like milk. Thick and white. That's the level of protein he is still spilling in his urine. He can't go on like that, it's not healthy. I wish we could get some answers once and for all!
Yesterday Little S was driving me absolutely bonkers with the constant non-sense questions. Is this my cup? Is my tongue bleeding? Is it today? After one more wake up will it be today? I remembered something I read, probably on Christine's site, about setting a limit on questions and when they have used them up, not answering any more. So I wrote twenty marks on the board and told him he had twenty questions. When the marks were all gone I could not answer any more questions for the day, no matter how important they were. Well, he thought that was a hoot and proceeded to ask silly non-sense questions just as fast as he could think of them. In fact, when he couldn't think of one he just asked the same questions again! I kept reminding him that when they were gone that was it. Well it took him about 3 minutes (seriously) to ask all twenty. Then every time after that he asked a question, I acted like the automated Fortune Teller in the carnival and answered. "I'm sorry. I cannot answer that. Please try again tomorrow". I have to admit I had a lot of fun acting like that goofy machine and you know what? The questions stopped! And they stopped with smiles all around.
Friday, April 02, 2010
Teri, and the whole Allen Family sent a huge package of glasses for out Glasses for Guats campaign. Dr. M is heading down in May and Dr. W is going later in the summer. They see an average of 200 patients each trip, handing out glasses, looking for disease and making arrangements for follow up with other volunteer medical teams.
Thanks Allen Family!!!!!!!
Thursday, April 01, 2010
I have an issue with Little S that has stumped me. Everything I have tried is not working. It's pretty sensitive and somewhat embarrassing, but I need help!
Little S is fixated on behinds. Nakey butts. Bohonkuses. He talks about them. (I say 'No bathroom talk!') He drops his pants and shows his bottom to others (Oh no you don't!). He taunts and teases, showing his behind. (He is told NO very firmly) He touches and pats and punches and slaps my behind constantly. I tell him how much I do not like it. I tell him over and over again. It makes me uncomfortable. But the worst? He wants to rub his behind on me. It seems he does this mostly when he is trying to get my attention. I hate it! He knows I hate it. He still does it. Maybe just BECAUSE he knows it bothers me.
How do I deal with this? Help!