Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Venting makes everything better

  I am much more peaceful today. I guess blowing off some steam makes everything better. Now if I could just find someone to therapeutically slap I would be on top of the world. Any volunteers????

  What I really need is a good long ride on my horse. Nothing but the sounds of the saddle creaking and his hooves hitting the trail. A ride that will cleanse my soul and leave my body sore in a good way. Too bad I barely have time to feed the big guy! Oh well, soon I will have time. I just need to hold on for a little less than 2 weeks....

Funny things around my house:

Levi asked me the other day what a dowager was. He had been watching Downton Abbey! Then we asked him if he wanted the pizza birthday party package at the resort we are staying at over his birthday or to eat in the restaurant. He asked if the restaurant was nice and I said yes, and he picked that. Fine dining over pizza.....???? But the kicker was when our friend Lizette was going to stop by with her 8 year old daughter the other day. Levi got up early, cleaned his room, brushed his hair and teeth, put on clean clothes and sprayed himself with Axe body spray. All on his own......because a girl was coming over. He is 9 years old and going on 21.

Ahren is going through some sort of phase (at least I hope it is a phase because if it isn't I am really worried). He asks the dumbest questions, things he knows the answer to but asks anyway. Like this: "Is that breakfast?" as I am cooking dinner. "Is Daddy here?" when Daddy is sitting in a chair 10 feet away. It is really odd, like he is disconnected from the world around him. He has asked his fair share of silly questions in the past, but this is different. He really seems confused and lost. Good thing he is so cute.....

Seth/Jonathan/Seth is on a summer binge of high level activity. We don't medicate him during the weekends, vacations and summer and this year he is showing his true ADHD energy level. he is doing much better controlling himself, but he has his moments. The other day I stopped by a spa that my friend works at and we were discussing keeping skin looking young, etc. I mentioned that I turn 50 in a few months and she told me how fab I look. (Yay!) On the way out of the shop, Seth looked at me and said, "Mommy, I didn't know you were that old. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone." I am still cracking up over that!!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Overwhelming Year

  The past year, well 9 months specifically, have been pretty rough on me. Trying to finalize Seth/Jonathan's adoption presented many challenges. Apparently opening your home to a child whose previous family wants you to parent him, a child who wants to be in your home, and a child whom CPS feels is best placed with you presents problems to our legal system. I had called lawyer after lawyer and gotten all kinds of run-around. Some wanted to go all the way back to his biological parents and have them relinquish their rights again, even though they had done that years ago. We ended up having two attorneys, a new complete home study in addition to our original updated home study, new background checks at the local, state and federal level, the blessings of CPS and the amicus, and a nice fat chunk of money.
  Then there was the whole "wah I hurt my hand opening a jar of jelly" which resulted in surgery, months in a cast and brace, a nice infection, and thousands of dollars in medical bills. Not to mention the frustration of trying to do everything I needed to do with only one hand. Oh, and those background checks required fingerprints which had to wait until my thumb wasn't tightly secured in a cast. Geeesh.
  Add in graduate school, a very accelerated course in Clinical Research Administration, finishing in 9 months (I have two weeks left!) I had to give up a lot of things to accomplish this goal. Sleep, socializing, sleep. I put a huge amount of effort into school and I am carrying a 4.0 GPA. I am positioning myself to land the job I want. Not the job that is available or easy, the best job.
  Then there are three of us paying college tuition right now, me, Kaytee and Ashley. Not cheap! Financial strain is always hard. And as much joy it filled me with to see my precious Ashley walk across that stage, decked out in honors and awards, it was still emotionally hard. My baybeee!!! Now she is off to start college in a couple of weeks and it scares them rap,out of me. Letting the baby bird step,out of the nest with no net below them. That is the single hardest thing I have had to do as a parent. Let....go........
  It's the latest losses that seem to have tipped me over the edge. Blaine's senseless death. I watch the other young adults move on with their lives and I think about him. Sweet, angry, teddy bear boy. He is really gone. My heart just keeps breaking for him.
  And the ultimate loss. My sweet baby girl. I have such a clear image of her pinned to her hospital bed, her little legs curled inward, her eyes dim and her tiny body in pain. I can still remember the moment the doctor popped the x-ray onto the light box and I saw the crack across her skull, suddenly realizing what had happened. Someone had beaten her nearly to death. Starved her, neglected her and nearly killed her. I spent weeks holding her, feeding her, loving her back to health. I now know that God only meant for me to save her, not to mother her and it hurts so badly. Wy not me? Why can't I be her Mama. Didn't I do everything I needed to do. Everything I was supposed to do? Why not me? I will never understand but I will get peace. It comes in little waves.
  So this has been rough. I know others have had it worse and I feel for them. (Deon, I am praying for you!) right now I am picking up the pieces, re-aligning my goals and making some decisions. Time to focus on tomorrow, not yesterday, not on what-if. Time to create some new areas of focus.
  But....I might need to hide under my rock for a while longer.......

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Someone I work with asked me the other what my house looked like. They had heard me talking about the boys having lots of room to run, the deer, the horses, etc and were curious. Well,m here is what it looks like. We designed it ourselves and had it custom built. There is nothing formal anywhere. No formal dining room or living room. It is all open and sunny, with tons of windows on the back of the house looking out over our land. We can't see any neighbors when we look out the back. We love that!

The front view

Overhead view taken from a helicopter

Looking out the covered patio windows
the barn, the play sets, etc

Poor grass has taken a beating with the drought
There's our fabulous pool, in the shade under the covered barn patio. If it is in full sun, the water gets too hot to swim and the boys get too much sun. 

More out the back windows
The sand box is full of pea gravel. Cleaner and drains better and just as much fun.

What we see every day in our yard. We have mineral blocks and feed out for them. I know, you aren't supposed to feed them, but the drought has been very hard on them and we are living in THEIR space. They didn't invite us here.

Many babies each spring. So sweet....

How gorgeous are they?

And one shot inside the house - the laundry room. I will post more photos from inside soon, as i clean a room and can get a deceptively organized looking shot....LOL!

Last week the boys went to Camp Invention and had a blast. As usual, Mama got the most homework to do. With one day notice we had to come up with crazy hats. Out came the glue gun and voila, party hat! Levi's hat was covered with old CDs(Music Mogul) and Ahren's hat was covered with leaves and grass (Camoflauge) Thank goodness for glue guns and ingenuity!
 I don't think he ate any of the decorations....

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Ashley Graduation 2013

Sigh....my second baby girl is a graduate of high school. Officially an adult,  grown-up
big girl! Can't bring myself to say those words, but she is a high school graduate!

Here is proof that I can clean up, wear jewelry, have pretty nails, and even toddle around in high heels. This was at dinner after the ceremony.

In typical Wendy fashion, I ran out of the hotel in a frenzy without my camera so am waiting on everyone else to send me the pics they snapped. I did get a lot of shots at the celebratory dinner. On a side note: the graduation was at a ginormous venue in Plano, Texas so I researched hotels nearby and ended up making reservations at the Marriot Residence Inn on Quorum. One word: AWESOME! We had a 2-bedroom, 2 bath suite with a living room and kitchen, fireplace, 3 flat screen tv's, pool, basketball court and wonderful free hot breakfast buffet. Wonderful service and amazing rooms. Plus it was only 10 minutes from the graduation venue.

So many wonderful choices for dinner, how can we choose?

This was a fine-dining restaurant but they embraced my boys and didn't blink an eye. The chef made special kids plates for all 3 boys based on what they each said they liked. We had a large corner table where we could all relax and enjoy. And maybe cut up a little....what can I say....they get it from their father(s).

I had been bugging Ashley for a couple of weeks that she needed to decide where she wanted to eat so we could get reservations. She finally told me on Wed. night, and sent me the info Thursday morning. Needless to say, there were no reservations to be had at that restaurant, a Texas legendary string of family owned restaurants. So I set about finding a steak and seafood restaurant that we could get into and also was suitable. More in a minute.......

Kaytee and her main squeeze Tabor. I think I might like him just a little bit more than I like her........

I spent my lunch hour Thursday searching seafood restaurants in that part of Dallas and I stumbled on a small family owned restaurant that had rave reviews and an award winning chef. I was nervous but called them anyway. Sure, no problem, 9 diners for 6:30 pm the following day. All set. Then I found out you could order special flowers to be waiting on the table when you arrive. So I ordered that too. I did a little nail biting and knocking on wood hoping it was as wonderful as all the reviews said. 

Kaytee and Ashley's Dad Chris on the left and his brother Greg on the right. Hmmm...I wonder if they are related? Hah! I love Greg, he is my favorite ex-in-law of all time. 

The graduation ended earlier than we had estimated and then I realized that I cannot count and had only reserved a table for 9 (I think I subconsciously excluded my ex. I know I counted Greg, since i was so hoping he would come to dinner with us!) So at 5 pm we called the restaurant to see if we could change the reservation to 10 people at 6:00pm. No problem! We are ready whenever you are. Was this a good sign or a bad sign? I didn't know.

Kaytee showing me her opinion of my driving ability in rush hour Dallas traffic. Hey, I didn't hit anybody and the crazy lady in the red car honked at me and also at other people! Notice Tabor in the background. He chose to be neutral  on the subject. Wise man.

We arrived at the restaurant in 3 separate cars, all met in the bar area and then were led to our table. The flowers were already there! And beautiful too. What a great surprise. Many families had picked up grocery store roses for their graduates, but I wanted something different. Something vibrant and special, just like my girl. These are Alstromerias, one of my favorites. They are like little colorful orchids.

After we ordered, Ashley opened presents. This is the savings bond Grandma and Grandpa Jarman sent  her. When Levi saw it his eyes got really big. Apparently he understands the value of money. Hmmmm. Ashleys eyes got big too. Then a little misty. Sweet girl.

My parents also sent money plus my Mom sent her 50 year high school key. This is the 60th reunion of her graduation and Ashley is her mini-me grandchild (we still aren't sure if that is a good thing....HAHA!) She and Ashley have struggled through many of the same health and emotional issues in childhood. They look alike, act alike and think alike. Whenever I didn't understand Ashley I called my Mom and asked her what was going on. She always knew exactly what was going on in Ashley's pretty little stubborn head.

The service at the restaurant was top notch. We never had to wait on anything, she was prompt and thorough, but never overbearing. It's like she had a sixth sense when someone needed anything. In fact, she didn't even bat an eye when Kaytee asked for ketchup for her fish. (I, on the other hand, was mortified and pretended I did not know her!!!! For proof see the small silver cup of ketchup next to Kaytee's plate.)

Lots of conversation allowed me to get a candid shot here. What a beautiful couple, inside and out.
Another candid shot.

Lobster for Ashley. It was phenomenal. In fact all of the food was superb. Ten entrees, ten winners.

The only interesting and a bit surprising bit to the restaurant? The artwork. We decided that this was a modern representation of a male transvestite trying to socialize. Or not......
Want to know where we ate? Remington's Seafood Grill on Beltline Rd in Addison, Texas. Total success for our special celebration. Even though we got reservations so easily, the place filled up to max soon after we arrived. I guess we just got lucky. Really, really lucky.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The End....Again

    On October 11th, 2006, which just happens to be my birthday, we embarked on a journey. We entered with the best of intentions, the desire to share all of our blessings with a child that needed us. We had been dealing with Ahren's crazy adoption processor a year and knew it would be a long time before it was resolved. We had made the decision to add a baby girl to our clan and I had been researching agencies. On that day, I received a phone call and then a single picture. A baby girl, just hours old, with the tiniest little sweetheart face. I forwarded the picture to Chris and within minutes were were accepting her as our daughter. Just 5 days later I held her in my arms for the first time. She looked up at me with wide open eyes, seeming to study and memorize my face. So tiny and yet she seemed like an old soul, just like Ashley. It's the look of deep wisdom in their eyes, like they know the secrets of the universe.
   One year later I was again holding her, only this time she was extremely ill. She was malnourished, had parasites and an infection, had been suffering grand mal seizures, and as the doctor gently showed me, a crack in her skull that traversed across the back of her head and up over one ear. She had been severely beaten, then days later dropped off at the hospital without anything. I stayed with her, the doctor releasing her to me, and nursed her back to health. Daily injections of antibiotics, high calorie nutrition and vitamins, and lots of love. I begged our embassy to intervene and allow me to get her to the US to receive treatment for the excess fluid on her brain. There was little they could do, but they were kind and empathetic. Once she was stronger and stable, I found a foster family that had experience in health care. I left her with them and she began to flourish.
    In August of 2008 on out trip to bring Ahren's home, I spent time with her. This was not the only visit, but it was to be the last. She was almost 2 years old and could walk holding onto a hand. Soon she would be walking by herself, a major accomplishment given the brain damage. She was happy and bright and energetic. It was so good to see her. I met with her doctors and set in place a new plan for therapy and treatment, just like we had done in the past. She needed as much intervention as possible to overcome the injuries to her brain. If I couldn't have her home with me, then I would be sure she got everything she needed there.
    Just weeks later we heard from our agency that her adoption had been deemed irregular and that they had taken her and placed her in a state run orphanage. How scared she just have been! How terrified when she was pulled out of her foster mothers arms and driven away to an unknown place. I can only imagine how horrible it must have been.
    We grieved, believing that this was the end of the road. Then, a couple of years ago, we get notice from our government that our adoption case is one of the open grandfathered cases in Guatemala. Our government wants to help get the stranded kids home. Hope! Disbelief!! Joy!!!! We ran through every emotion  and back again. Patiently we awaited news, supplied information and kept the faith. Little changed. Then just recently, a few kids came home!!! Could it be? Was it finally time to get these last children to their waiting families?
    A very special group of waiting parents reached out to me and began to explain the new process. It was essentially starting all over again, but it was working. American parents had been successful with the new system. I cannot explain the pure excitement, trepidation, joy, fear, etc that I experienced. I began to gird myself for a new battle. New paperwork, new demands, a LOT of money but more importantly a lot of energy and pain. I worried I couldn't do it. Worried if I should do it? Worried if I was capable of doing it. So gently, and quietly I made the first baby steps to begin the process. First up was to find out the current status of our i600, our petition to the US government to adopt out of the country.
    What we found out is that last fall, Peri Brynn, had been adopted by a family in Guatemala. Our case was permanently closed, no options left. It's odd, I am horribly sad, but also happy for her. She will not live in the orphanage, only to get kicked out as a teen and left on the streets to fend for herself. She has someone who loves her and cares for her. I would rather that be the case than her to wait in the orphanage for longer in the hopes that we would get her. We are sad, but at peace. God's will is done. I can live with that.