V.P.I.

Our youngest has had a bunch of medical procedures in his short life. You can read about  some of them in the Doctors catergory. One of them affects his speech. There is actually a video of him at the doctors here. (If you don’t like medical procedures or have a weak stomach you may not want to watch the whole video.) Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (VPI) is a failure of the body’s ability to temporarily close the communication between the nasal cavity and the mouth, because of an anatomic dysfunction of the soft palate or of the lateral or posterior wall of the pharynx. In layman’s terms when he says certain words he talks very nasally. The air and salvia come up when they aren’t supposed to. The note below is what the doctor (cleft palate plastic surgeon) injected, where it was injected and what our son has.

IMG_2598It was a relief to find out what was going on.

IMG_2599Here he is with the super kind nurse prepping him for his video and nasendoscopy. He did so well with it all. The doctor and nurse were excellent as well. Note: the tissue coming out of The General’s sock is his shin guard. He was pretending to be a baseball player.

IMG_2600Hubby, on the other hand, could not watch. After finding out that the General had VPI we scheduled the injection. Now, this was out of town and required an overnight stay. While The General loved the doctor he wasn’t having it when they called us back. When we were told to dress him in the little gown, etc. he lost it. We had to make things fun. It took him a very long time to get fully undressed and then dressed for the procedure.

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Having a hospital, medical staff that has worked with children and makes everything less scary makes all of the difference. One sweet nurse brought in a little laptop and even found the exact movie he asked for!! So grateful for small gestures.

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So with Teddy (a gift from the hospital) by his side and movie playing, he finally settled in for the long wait.

IMG_2756One other BRILLANT idea that every child should get is there “sleepy” medicine in liquid form! I love this place! We have had too many other places inject all of the meds through I.V. Nobody likes those, especially little kids.

IMG_2751Poor guy started to hallucinate from the meds…this fish on the wall were jumping out at us, the curtain was going to fall on Dad, etc.

IMG_2732He took many photos like this with my phone and this is probably just how things looked for him.

The procedure…well, it didn’t work. Next step, actual surgery. We meet with the doctor again and go over questions we have concerning the operation and see if we even want to go through it. There’s a lot to weigh out. Without it or a miracle (which we fully believe in and are praying for), he will always talk this way. But depending on the answers to our questions is this something we want to put our son through.

If you have ever had to make a hard medical decision for your kid or kids you know the depth of our emotions, our questions, and our choices.

As an adoptive mom, when health, cognitive, and or behavioral issues come up it is hard not to blame the birth parents. Some of the issues are obviously due to the bio parents others there’s no telling. As a mama, many times it takes getting on my knees to cool the mama bear in me, pull back by claws of bitterness, and anger, and give my kids and their issues to God. For He is the ultimate doctor, teacher, and counselor.

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The Power of One

I try to stay away from current affairs on my blog but this one really hits home.

“13 siblings held captive…” has been all over the media. And rightly so. My first reaction was of course sadness and disgust. Honestly, I really didn’t want to hear more about. However, my curious nature got the best of me and I dove a bit deeper into the story. After learning just a bit more two other things struck me right upside the heart.

  1. ONE girl…if it wasn’t for the ONE sibling escaping and notifying the police those poor children would still be existing in those unspeakable conditions. This hit very close to home and without going into much detail, our kids, many kids across our neighborhoods would still be in horrible conditions if it were for ONE brave child taking a chance, risking it all to get help. Those brave children are heroes in my eyes. They save themselves and many times their siblings from such depravity.
  2. If it wasn’t for the number of children found would this be such a big story? To us, sadly, this is the reality. This is just ONE of the stories that happen every day whether we hear about it on the news or not. We would not have four of our kids if it were not for stories like this. I could go on about this but please, let me direct you to a wonderful post that says it much better than I could at Faithfully Fostering.

What are we to do about it? Do we treat it like any other disturbing news story and wish it away? Or do we do something about it? Maybe you can’t help those 13 kids (God knows they are going to need a LOT of support and a STRONG family). But you can look out for the kids around you. If you see kids marching back and forth in the middle of the night for hours (as one neighbor saw) or things of that nature, be the ONE to call the police. Be the ONE to become a foster and/or adoptive family. Be the ONE who comes alongside a foster family to support them. Be the ONE who will cry out in prayer for these kids and for families who take them in. Be the ONE who loves your kids a bit more and invite a neighbor’s kids over. Be the ONE who helps struggling parents, lead them to the ONE, Jesus. Don’t be the ONE who lets someone else take care of this problem.

 

 

My Absence

Yikes!

It has been WAY too long since I last wrote and I really wish I had a meaningful excuse.

When it comes down to it, it is really a combination of a bunch of things that have kept me from the computer and from writing, kept the inspiration low or non-existent.

  • The holidays. Between, extra school and church activities, out-of-state family visiting, the kids being home, there wasn’t much time for blogging.
  • Appointments!! I ended the year by logging in 167 appointments! That is just doctors and behavioral appointments. I was so hoping for a decrease this year, but I already have 12 this month. Now some of these have been nice appointments like going to see our grandbaby in the ultrasounds.
  • Cleaning. Before and after the holidays always includes extra cleaning, doesn’t it?
  • My mother-in-love. We have my hubby’s 85-year-old mom living in town for part of the year. While for most of her life she has been very healthy and needed practically no care, things have changed. Anyone who has cared for an elderly parent knows what I mean. Life just turns it’s focus a bit. Knowing that our time with her may be shorter than we’d like, I want to cherish her and that time more. Not rush through it all.
  • Refocus. Speaking of focusing. I have really been spiritually refocusing on God and my relationship with Him more. Getting back to the basics, my foundation, my first love.
  • The media fast. Okay, I believe this really led to the shift in my blogging. The time away from the computer and media did shift the way I view my time. I have always tried to be me, to be real on my blogs, yet fell into the trap of getting just the right photo or just the right event to write about. True life is not just right and while I have been open about those areas as well, I really want to enjoy life and my time with my kids and not think “Oh, this would make a great blog post.” I want to and want my family to think, “This is a good time, a good memory.” It has been too easy for me to start structuring my life around my blog and not my blog around my life.

So, for now, I may write less often. But I will try to keep it worth your while to continue to visit my section of the blogosphere. Please excuse post that are more photos than word content. Please, say hi and leave a comment to let me know you are still there reading. Have a wonderful day!

Sticks and Stones

The other night I was reminded of the glaring differences between our family and families not affected by trauma.

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You can buy this adorable print here.

There are many things “regular” (what is regular anymore anyway?) folks joke about and/or just throw out in conversation that no one thinks twice about. Unless you are my family. Maybe I am hypersensitive to certain topics. Maybe I can overreact. But this is where we are for now.

Take the game of cops and robbers. The old-school game of pretend where the “good” kids-the cops protect citizens from the “bad” kids-the robbers. Now imagine it on steroids. Where gang members are involved, along with the robbers. Your kids found chains somewhere and have their sibling’s hands bound in those said chains. No more cops and robbers. Then we have hide and seek. Again a simple innocent child’s game. When things look a bit suspicious you start checking things out and see signs that are more fitting for a horror story than a child’s game posted all over your yard. No more hide and seek. Lots of teaching going on here. You get pulled over for going a bit too fast and the child with you has a look of complete fear on his face. The police officer has to calm your child and let him know he is not taking you to jail. Simply, Mom was driving a bit too fast. Raise kids whose birth parents were in and out of jail so many times that it’s just a way of life. Going to jail is such a huge topic of discussion to our younger kids. It’s like it’s no big deal. You get caught, go to jail and get out. No biggie. Let’s rethink this okay?

Joking about race…really SO many of us do it. Let’s be honest. Yet, when one of your children is drawn to parts of their culture that aren’t the greatest, one tries to steer that child down a safer road. Not everything about each of our cultures needs to be embraced.

Make a joking comment to two of my kids about food and eating and they simply cannot brush it off and enjoy a laugh with you. Going without food and eating rotten food for so long make certain things much less funny. Comedians-need not apply.

Now I am not one of those people who is offended by every little thing everyone says or does but when you have a child with special needs certain words become hurtful. When your child is a different race than you, you become more aware of your own probable racism and of those around you. When your child has been through certain types of trauma and you are living out the effects of that you become more protective of what your child hears and sees.

For the most part, when those around us are made aware that certain words or topics affect us and our children differently they are more than willing to change and are apologetic about it. For that, I am grateful and have been fortunate. Sometimes it just takes a few moments to explain why those things are not appropriate to help someone see things differently and make our world better. Sticks and stones do break bones, but contrary to the old child’s saying, words do hurt, sometimes pretty bad.

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.

Media Fast

Our pastor recently challenged our church to a two-week media fast. He had been preaching on the dangers of media and video addiction. Until we got our younger kids we lived pretty old school, no TV, rarely a movie, very limited time on the computer for our kids and for us. Other than the occasional show on the internet and watching the Red Sox via MLB.TV our screen time was limited. I plan to write a future post about our families reality with video game and technology addiction. For now, I want to focus on the media fast results.

Our pastor introduced us to the Glow Kids book. Let me tell you it is a MUST read, kids or no kids. I simply cannot recommend it enough. We have been reading it as a family with the older kids and individually as well. It will open your eyes in more than one way.IMG_2654

So, the results of those two weeks without media. Well, for the kids there wasn’t much of a negative change. (Again more on this in a future post.)

But here are some of the things we did instead of watching, playing, and/or listening.

 

IMG_2612After dinner wiffle ball.

IMG_2616Sorting through LEGOs from eldest son’s work. This was seriously relaxing and addictive.

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Chalk drawing.

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IMG_2611Just beginning outside. Can’t beat this sky.

IMG_2638Photobombing the tree climbers.

IMG_2639Trust falling from the tree.

We baked cookies. Hung out as a family. Played LOTS of board games. Had friends and family over. Went hiking. Just did more stuff together.

Did we get bored, of course? But boredom can lead to great imagination. Did the kids cheat on the fast? No, they are freed from those addictions. Me? Yes, I checked Instagram here and there. I checked the Red Sox scores. My blog posts were prewritten so all I had to do was push publish. BUT, I wasn’t chained to my phone. Even though I did start cutting back before the fast, I know I could SO easily go back to listening to podcasts, checking this and checking that all of the time. So, for me, I need to keep my phone off of my person and in an out of the way place. I have enjoyed the quiet, though too much quiet made me uneasy. I have enjoyed not being as distracted. I have enjoyed a clearer mind. For Hubby, it was a positive experience as well.

If I could encourage you at all to do a media fast yourself and as a family. It will be WELL worth it. Look around you when you are out. How many kids have devices keeping them entertained? How many people are walking around looking down at their phones? How many people have earbuds in, intentionally disengaging from society? How many times do you look at your phone, computer for non-essential things? How many times do you use the electronic babysitter? You may be surprised at what you see and observe. Also, read the Glow Kids book. I am seriously thinking of buying a bunch and handing them to our kids’ school principals, teachers, to family members, etc. It is just that good, that important, and that convicting.

IMG_2641Saw this shirt while thrifting. Thought it was so fitting during our media fast. If you do this fast, I’d LOVE to hear how it went for you and your family.

That’s IT!?!

Okay, soapbox warning here.

I just ran into a former co-worker. I re-entered the workforce for a short time a few years ago before exiting to adopt. This co-worker and I worked together for an even shorter amount of time. That being said, I ran into her while at two of our kids’ parent-teacher conference. She quickly asked what I was “up to these days.” I replied, “Being a mom.” (She knew we were going to adopt, knew we got matched, she knew were took on FOUR kids ALL.AT.ONE.TIME, etc., etc.) To which she replied, rather condescendingly, “That’s it!?!” (In front of my kids mind you.) “She didn’t just say that” ran through my head faster than Flash himself. I wanted to scream and laugh at her, to stand and defend my stance as a mom. But I knew my efforts would fall on deaf ears. “That’s it?” I simply questioned. There was a third lady in the room and she sort of came to my defense. A very short discussion between the two women, more like throwing opinions out, took place. One of which I was having none of. Again, those deaf ears.

Yet, as three of our six kids and I were leaving, I felt the need to defend my choice to stay-at-home to my kids, especially my daughter.

So, to all of you blessed SAHMs, to all of the girls and boys who are blessed to have a SAHM, and to all of the naysayers this is for you:

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Dear Fellow Stay-at-Home Mamas,

First, I commend all that you do to be home with your babies no matter how old they are. There is no higher calling than to be a wife and a mom. Today I took one for the team. “That’s it!?!” should not be the response we get for making the choice to be the one to raise our kiddos (and sometimes someone else’s kids). It should not be the response we get for running our kids all over the place, to sports, doctors, school, extracurricular activities, clothes shopping, doctors, dentists, shoe shopping, did I mention the doctors (if you have any child with any extra needs you know I could’ve added doctors in a few more times), and or any other place they need to be at any given time. Being the one who comforts our babies, soothes their little hearts, rocks them to sleep at nap time, introduces them to the wonder of books, changes almost all of the diapers, wakes with them in the middle of the night, teaches them the importance of sharing, of getting along should not be diminished by anyone. All of the times you sat in IEP meetings, attending award ceremonies, helped out in their classes, sold fundraiser goodies door-to-door, made sure their clothes and uniforms were clean and ready should make you stand tall. When you were there for their first steps, their first words, their first smile, their first fall, their first heartbreak, their first straight A, or F report card is irreplaceable. Being able to create a safe, unstressed, stable, loving atmosphere for your husband and kids on a daily basis reaps the reward that will only be seen far down the road. Providing structure, creativity, calmness, responsibility serves such a greater picture than ourselves.

When you are standing in old shoes, in a mom bun, looking at yet another load of soiled laundry, wiping another nose and or bum, when you are cleaning up spills off a freshly washed floor, feeling like your days are filled with useless, mundane tasks that no one sees or even cares about take heart. Know it does matter. When you are lonely and in desperate need of adult conversation. Know you matter. When you are fighting that kid for the hundredth time today, know that no one can replace you. While standing over that hot stove making your family a homemade meal, know you and your family are blessed. When the sacrifices you make start to wear you down, know that no one can care for your child the way you can. Even though they often don’t show it your kids need and crave what you provide. Your husband, your marriage needs what you do, who you are. Even on our worst days, our children would rather be with us than a stranger at daycare.

The outside may see us as lazy, as underachievers, sitting on our bums all day eating bonbons. We may have no certificate to hang on our walls, no capital letters behind our names, no paycheck to cash and spend. They may see us and what we do and think and sometimes say, “That’s it!?!” But my dear mama, God is watching. God sees all that you do and give your babies no matter how old. He sees all of the things to lay down so you can give your kids and your husband the best of you. I believe that God has a special place in His heart for mamas. Dear mama, trust and know that you are held in His hands.

Nevermind the naysayers. Nevermind those that belittle what you do. You aren’t doing it for them anyway. Your babies are watching and learning. They will know you cared and know they are important. Your marriage will be stronger and your husband will be blessed.

So look yourself in the mirror, adjust your mom bun and go hug those children of yours. Go enjoy that cookie you made with your toddler. And make sure your kids know how happy it makes you to be their mom. That you don’t need others or an outside job to make you content. And let your husband know how grateful you are for his hard work so you can stay home.

**I realize this is one sided. I know that there are mamas out there who want more than anything to be a SAHM. Rest assured this was not aimed at you.**