The General

When we set out on our adoption journey I honestly didn’t want a toddler. To start over. I hated potty training and had ZERO desire to do it again. The car seats, the messes, the sippy cups…the time and energy toddlers take. I am an “older” mom. There are 40 years between me and the General. But God had other plans. And we are thankful He knows better.

Our youngest man cub literally longs to be in charge, to be the boss in almost every situation. Hence the nickname, The General. While it has been challenging, we are leaning on God to teach us how to equip The General for the obvious call to leadership God put in him.

IMG_2814Here he is trying to negotiate bedtime with Dad (a former Marine, mind you). While we got a few good laughs, the General’s strategies didn’t work.

IMG_2957  This pose comes naturally to him, as he is ever ready to defend and protect. (Yes, those are flip flops on his shoulders.)

IMG_2974His independent nature overrides any fear or hesitation most of the time. Sometimes his sense of adventure + independent nature + lack of proper fear can = a nervous momma.

IMG_2812He LOVES Jesus and wants to preach one day. He has it all planned out. The general will stand in the back at church with the “Big Guys” who too feel called to preach and make plans to preach in each other’s churches. “I am just a kid” is not in his DNA. Here when we set up our first nativity scene he kept staring at Jesus and Mary. He had questions but most of all he wanted to make sure Mary and Jesus would be alright out there all night. I am telling you the urge to protect is very strong in him. It is so precious and enduring too. He has stood up to people in defense of others. He is also convicting quick to forgive.

IMG_2972Raising a leader is an honor while at the same time, challenging. Teaching when to lead, when to follow. When to be on top and when to support can be tough for a kindergartner, heck, to be honest, for some adults too.

IMG_2711No one wants to raise a dictatorial tyrant. (Seriously, he came out like this. Not even sure if he has ever seen Hilter, but by golly…) Thankfully, God put a sweet tenderness in the General to balance out his need to be the boss. He is ever ready to give hugs, compliment and encourage. He knows no stranger and EVERYWHERE we go people LOVE him. Out of all six of our kids, he is the most social. If you were to look up social butterfly you’d see his sweet face. Cannot wait to see what God has in store for him.

IMG_2712What are your tips on raising independent leaders?

 

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Double Digits

Mr. Bubblewrap turned ten at the end of last year. We kept is simple, no party. Overwhelment is something we try to keep out of his life. So he chose to go out for coffee with Dad and Mom. Coffee and ice cream, coffee ice cream to be exact.IMG_2827

Each year for his birthday dessert, he wants cinnamon rolls. This year I was inspired by Mandy at Biblical Homemaking blog and laid the rolls our in the number 10. He thought it was the coolest.IMG_2828

We liked the idea of the birthday dates with Dad and Mom so much that we are going to do it much more often. Parties for the big birthdays…5, 10 (though not for Mr. Bubblewrap), 13 and maybe 16.

These Two

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When it comes to our man cubs (thank you for the phrase, Ruth from Gracelaced), these two are close. Our oldest and youngest man cubs. Though they are very different in personality they connect so well. Their imagination goes way beyond the others. They push each other and yet are each other’s safe place. Each is a leader, yet both are willing to follow the other. 14 years age difference may seem like a big now but I am excited to see this relationship grow. To see what God has in store for these brothers.

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Addicted

As you more than likely know, we brought home a sibling group of four in the beginning of 2015. We went from a household of three to a household of seven overnight. To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement. But one of the first things we noticed was our son’s addiction to video games. He (Chief) was a month shy of 11 when we got him.

Now when we were told about the kids from CYFD, one of the things we were told was that he had been diagnosed with a learning disorder and he liked to play video games. “Okay, no problem,” we thought. However, the extent of it was not told to us. For the sake of this post, I am going to focus on the video game addiction and how it intertwined deep into his brain and personality. Socially he was awkward and behind. He was and still is a quiet kid. But when he did anything, draw, play it all centered around video games. He only drew video game related characters and scenes. He pretended (more like thought) he was in a video game. Seriously, it was strange and at times scary. We’ve all heard the stories of foster kids killing their foster parents. Well, those fears weren’t too far from home or our mids. To engage him in normal conversation was very hard. He hadn’t had much practice at it.

For the sake of everyone’s sanity we didn’t pull the plug on the video games right away, even though it was obvious that not only our second oldest son had a problem, but so did the other two. Our youngest soon got too used to watching videos, albeit educational. We did go through the gaming devices that they came with and got rid of the questionable games, apps, etc. We started to limit the screen time as well.

We also noticed that when the kids would get off of their devices or stop watching anything they really struggled transitioning back into reality. They would remain in a fog state for some time. The longer the screen time, the longer the fog time. It changed their attitudes and behaviors, never for the better. Today, they are very rarely on the computer for anything, unless at school. Video games are a thing of the past. Movies are only occasionally on the agenda. T.V., well, we don’t have one and don’t watch it online either.

Chief had the hardest time with the restrictions. Honestly, gaming was all he knew. No matter where they lived growing up, how little money they had he was never without an XBox or gaming device. In foster care he was able to stay up very late playing video games, watching inappropriate things without any supervision. It was a means of escape for him. He hated when we’d limit screen time or actually take away his devices as a consequence. He had withdrawals. But it was okay.  Not easy, but okay. We knew it was for his best interest.

Like I said we didn’t go cold turkey with him or the other kids, and at first, we watched way more movies than we ever did with our oldest two. Seriously, the movies started out as a way for all of us to be able to sit in the same room without chaos. But today after a long and hard, but definitely not the hardest battle, he has changed SO much. His sketch pads are filling with everyday items, happier storylines, and he’s even made up his own characters. His imagination has soared. When he plays he plays how a “normal” kids should play. I can’t remember when we have seen him act out video games. He reads. He creates. Best of all he engages. You should see his smile. Chief has really matured and grown into a funny, sincere young man. He knows he was addicted. He still wants to play from time to time but even though he hasn’t said it I believe that he is grateful we took the stance we did and took away screens of all sorts. (You can read a bit about our stance on screen time here)

A side note on learning disabilities and screen time. They do not and should not go hand in hand. It only hinders brain development and growth. What kids with LDs need are hands-on experiences, outdoor fun, books, engagement from adults, real life. They need to be challenged to learn, not pacified. They need to see what they are capable of in the real world, not some fantasy digital world. Though he still has his academic struggles, he has made great gains. He is learning to use his brain in ways he never has. He has even stated that his brain would hurt in the early days with us.

I also want to state that Chief was not the only person in our house addicted to electronics. His was just the worst. Yet God used it to reflect and show us our own shortcomings and pitfalls where electronics were concerned. Isn’t it funny how God does that? Sometimes our children are the perfect mirror.

Power of a Game

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There is so much meaning behind this photo.

You may just see two people playing chess.

I see a father and son finding something that helps them bond.

I see a young man who has a diagnosed learning disability, who once was addicted to video games, who didn’t know how to function outside of video games almost beat his dad, who is very good at chess.

I see how our son, The Chief, being an example to his siblings and starting a wave of chess playing in our home.

I see a young man who has studied the game, went over plays in his head, practiced and even made his own chess sets.

I see the power of a game.

19 Years Ago

19 years ago God blessed us with a son. During his birth, he got stuck. I stopped pushing and spoke in tongues then he greeted the world blue and in need of assistance. After 18 hours incubated in oxygen and having fluid sucked out of his lungs, I got to hold him. Got to look deep into his eyes, breathe him in. He was mine. All thumb sucking, drooling sweet disposition was mine.j-18i

All-in-all he was an easy baby and child. Only a few rough teen years. However, through prayer and consistency, we got through it. He Gave his life to Jesus and is such a wonderful young man.DSCN6941IMG_1070redo

He and his oldest sister always have had a close relationship. He has always had a funny sense of humor.scan005900898_04

A natural gentleman.Kids' own pics 4-28-08 01310425172_10203572688390440_6389493670496607464_n

Always had a way with animals, not matter how big or small. He seemed to always have “pet” bugs of some sort.scan0005

SUPER talented. He can draw, play instruments, act…his imagination knows no end.IMG_0994

When we made the decision to adopt we knew this is who he’d be. We knew he would be the best big brother to each and every child we added to our lives.IMG_0454

He is a very healthy eater. Not one for sweets.IMG_0722

Born part fish, he was either playing in dirt or swimming.Jared pool 6-24-08 021Jared making mines 6-13-08 008

This boy, this young man has brought so much joy into our lives. We are so proud of him, the choices he makes, the stands he has taken, and the person he has become. It is an honor to be called his mom.scan0004

Dear Birth Mom

Dear birth mom to my son,

Yesterday our, your, my son became a teenager.

Yesterday I wondered if you were thinking about him at all, wondering how he’s turning out.

Our, my son is turning out to be one great young man. He opens doors for others now, helps out, is polite and a hard worker. He is one of the funniest, most real kids I know. He and I have some of the most straight-forward conversations, deep and lighthearted at the same time.

He has overcome many obstacles in these past couple of years. His grades and academic confidence have gone up. He works hard to achieve the grades he gets. He makes friends easy. Has begun to make wise decisions concerning his choices. He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes and is who is his.

He is starting to really see that he is much smarter than anyone has ever told him he was. Starting believe he can achieve many more things. He is stepping out of comfort zone and trying new things.

Our, my son has been giving wise advice to his younger brother. Seeing the same behaviors in him that he has overcome. He is compassionate and caring with the youngest in the house.

Though he may be quiet, he sure knows how to tell a good joke. When he gives a compliment take it because he sincerely means it.

Dear mom to my son, do you miss him or wonder how he is? Did you feel a twinge of loss yesterday in your heart? Dear mom, he his loved. He is cared for. He is growing into a fine and decent young man.

Thank you for relinquishing your rights so that I could be his mom.

Signed,

Our son’s mom