Wednesday, April 9, 2014

ch ch ch ch changes!!

Things have been quite busy here.  I know I just posted about homeschooling in a small house, but I have to tell you, we have moved!!  We have doubled our house size and TRIPLED OUR BATHROOMS!!!  We were suddenly just super cramped. And having one bathroom was starting to drive us all crazy. Some stuff just all fell into place and here we are.  2500 sq ft, 1 acre of land, a garage, 3 bathrooms, a classroom, a library, a den/play room, and a Japanese Maple!!We are sort of in Heaven over here.

I will try to get pics up. We are up to our ears in boxes. With a baby that really loves to be held more than worn, I can not get much done.  But the kid's rooms are mostly settled.  The den is pretty much there, the classroom is functional, and the kitchen is mostly working.  I imagine this will be a slow process, but it is a fun one!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Trust

Trust.

That is my theme for the year. It is barely the end of the third month and my knuckles are white and exhausted from holding on. 

Who knew a person could learn so much about a word in 3 months. What "trust" meant to me on January 1 is so very different from what it means to me now. So little time, so much change.

I have had several HUGE life events going on at once. With each one, my gut has been screaming loudly at me about what choices I should make. But, I didn't want to listen. I wanted to try to ignore my gut, my heart, and control the situations with my head. There were choices that were easier in a lot of ways. There were choices that seemed "nicer."  I could help someone else, possibly help us at the same time (if all worked out, even though it didn't seem like things would work out at all), and I wouldn't have to step out of my comfort zone. I really like when I don't have to step out of my comfort zone.

I kept thinking, and had other people remind me, that "trust" was my theme for 2014. I kept hoping that meant that I could passively let it all happen to me. to us. to my life. And we would all win.

My gut kept telling me I was being a fool, and as gastrointestinal issues tend to do, my gut won out.

In one issue, the most important issue, I finally had to face that what was romantic and beautiful on paper, would equal disaster to the person most impacted by this decision, and everyone else involved. No matter how much I wanted one thing, that very thing would be the worst case scenario.  And so many people would lose.  But, the reality is that people have already lost. The person that has suffered the most loss, is the person I am most responsible for. And no matter how much we all wanted this to work, it wouldn't. Not because anyone was unworthy or didn't want it to work. Not because I didn't want it to work. It just couldn't. And giving that bleak situation the most hope involves really difficult, awful decisions that make so many people unhappy. But,  happiness isn't my business.  I can't make this romantic or beautiful. I just have to offer the most hope to the one I am responsible for.

In another issue, I wanted to help a friend. I would benefit too, but she would benefit most. She would get out of a less than ideal situation and have something she very much wanted.  I turned away a stable choice to choose her.  Then, when down to the wire, she could not come through on her end. Not because she didn't want to, or because she is somehow less than.  Simply because circumstances came together all wrong. And we were left scrambling.  The realization that I had chosen trying to offer this person her best shot at the expense of my family's stability was an unpleasant moment. As a friend said,"I didn't have to sacrifice nice to choose wisely", but somehow, that is what I have been doing for far too long.

Does anyone remember the van I sold to a "friend" who never paid me and never looked back?

I kept trying to trust in others to do the right thing, or to make things work out for all of us. But, what I missed, is that the answer was inside me all along. Literally, physically shaking me.

Trust.

Finally, I see, this isn't a passive act.  I have been blessed with a gift, the most amazing gift.  My intuition has shouted at me, roared at me, and I have ignored. I have hoped for the best, for the easy, for the safe. I have doubted my own ability to deliver the bad news, the hard news, the RIGHT news.

Trust is not a passive act. It is a balls to the wall, full throttle, contact sport.

I have been gifted intuition. I have been gifted the ability to call out to God/Goddess/Universe/Inner Self, and then sit in stillness, and listen....feel....notice...RESPOND.

And then, I have to trust in that message that comes through and my ability to transfer it. Who am I to decide that the message isn't desirable.  Perhaps the news I perceive as "bad" is the best thing that ever happened to the person receiving it. Perhaps it is the kick in the pants they need, or what saves their family (or our family) from going under, or what would have prevented them from the best opportunity of their lives.

I don't know. And it isn't my job to know. My job is to offer up honest questions and earnest pleas for direction. and then to listen. And to trust that my gut and my heart are receiving a message that is true. and above all, that I have the strength to follow through on what I then know to be right, no matter how hard it seems.

Trust isn't about sitting back and waiting for everyone to be happy. Trust might not make anyone happy at all, and it is surely not going to be easy. But, it is about doing what is right.

That is what I have learned in the first 3 months of my year of "trust." I have to admit I am terrified of the next 9 months and wondering what I will learn by December. But I am trusting that at the end, even if my knuckles are cracked and bleeding, that I will have finally learned to let go, to breathe, that whatever is meant to be will simply be. And that I will have listened. That it will have been right. And that I can truly, finally TRUST.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beautiful Disarray


Yesterday my house was clean.  Right now it looks like this:


books, castle, costume, homemade comic, and a cute baby





jungle, space station, drums, books, art boxes, and more books...and more stuff...




As I started to clean, I began to feel frustrated about how never ending it all seems.  Every day I say the words, "Pick that up off the floor",  "Why is that on the floor", "Instead of stepping on it or over it, could you pick it up?", "Don't you care about your stuff," and "Someone is going to kill themselves tripping over the stuff you left on the floor." It can be maddening to repeat yourself 200 times a day (per kid-and it is exponential, so I'm at like a billion times a day).  It can be maddening to feel like you are surrounded in clutter. BUT...

Today I will simply love that Connor was making a comic book, that Seamus was playing so nicely with Darcy, that Rowan and Aine were sharing the castle, that Eva used her imagination and made a sticker book.  That I keep having to stop what I am doing because Teagan forces me to take a break and reminds me to just be with her.

I will see the beauty in the clutter. Today I will be thankful for the kids that make the mess. Today the piles of stuff will remind me of how blessed we are.  Today I will slow down and remember that these moments, this untidiness, is what makes childhood fun. It is what makes a childhood.

Today I will be simply be thankful.
I can't say what tomorrow will bring if this beautiful disarry is still all over my floor, but today?  Today I will see only the beauty.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

honesty part 2

While I am being honest, I was just scrolling through my blog because I realized today is the 2 year anniversary of getting our official referral for Eva Marina. Which is just flat insanity.  How it has been 2 years is beyond my comprehension. But, I was scrolling through my blog looking at all my posts about homeschooling and I laughed out loud.  Um, we haven't been doing all that.

We started back to school, and we were doing all that, and it was all good, and then.... we had a baby.

We took a month off and since we started back we have been doing (steady yourself, this is a looong list)
1.reading
2.handwriting
3.math

In my defense, we are also doing meditation and yoga.  I should post about that because it is awesome. Also in my defense, we school year round, so we have a lot of leeway here. We are not even behind, and we will catch back up to where I want to be by this time next year.

We do history here and there and some science. We are also reading, reading reading.  The Chocolate Touch, Ramona Quimby books, The Indian and the Cupboard, Charlotte's Web, etc. etc.

But, I am nowhere near back to the kind of schedule I posted about in the summer, and I am guessing I won't be until fall. 

Honesty

You can probably tell from my last few update posts that I am not quite as upbeat and super positive as I used to be.   Reading back through my blog I could see a stark difference in my older posts and my newer ones.

The reality is that we went into adoption as prepared as you can be, but full of optimism, determination, and energy.  Eva's needs turned out to be more than we expected (from all the support groups I am in, this is quite common, especially from Eastern Europe). By the time we went back for Darcy, I was already getting tired and was feeling a bit beaten down. And then Darcy came home with more challenges, which we were sort of suspecting at that point.  But her challenges were totally different than Eva's.  So, though we had learned a great deal in the previous months, none of it helped us in concrete ways.

I went into adoption thinking the first year would be brutally, excruciatingly hard, and that the second year would be pretty darn hard. But, I kinda thought that at the two year mark we would be kind of setting back into a new normal.

I know, if you are a veteran adoptive parent, go ahead and laugh now.

There have been VAST improvements in some ways, especially for Eva.  And there are also a lot of areas that we have made little progress.  Or we have improved only to regress again, rinse, repeat. Such is the nature of trauma, of FAS, of post institutionalization. And the reality that a lot of this is forever is sinking in. The term "delayed" should be replaced with "impaired."

With Darcy, improvement has been much slower.  I tell myself that it is her timeline.  That things will get better.  And there have been some improvements.  But progress in most areas has been moving at a snail's pace. Again, trauma, FASD, PI, hard stuff and not going to be "fixed" in 15 months home.  And, though that is OK, though it is totally understandable, it doesn't make it easy.

I know,and understand, why they have the behaviors that they have. I know about survival skills, the brain changes that occur because of neglect, malnutrition, alcohol exposure.  I know about orphanage behavior.  I try to remember that however difficult this is for me, the tragedies in their lives are so much worse. But living in the reality of the effects of those things on a minute by minute basis is incredibly challenging and sometimes we forget.

I am in a few support groups for adoptive parents. Some for FAS, some for older child adoption, some for Eastern European adoptions.  One of the things I see over and over (and experience) is immense disappointment in ourselves as parents.

We were going to have endless compassion, unshakable patience, unconditional, instantaneous love, and boundless energy.  And, you know what?  That is not possible, not for human beings. Not day in and day out of the roller coaster that is parenting a child from a hard background.

And  so we fail.  We lose our tempers, we feel disappointment, we can't keep the understanding and the compassion at the front of our minds at all times. We get frustrated, annoyed, upset.  We may not feel the love.  You learn a lot about kids that don't attach, but what no one tells you is how often parents have a hard time attaching. Or that when a child does have a hard time attaching, the parent may subconsciously throw up a wall to protect their own heart.  And then you have two chasms to overcome.

When the reality falls so short, day in and day out, of what we had expected of ourselves, of our parenting abilities, we tend to beat ourselves up. Daily.

I sometimes lay in bed at night and count the ways that I failed.  The times I wish I could have a do over. And I hear over and over from other adoptive parents that they do the same things. But, the problem is that it doesn't help to do that. And I am committing to not doing it anymore. This is what I posted in a support group today:

ok, this is going to be a jumble. but this is what i have been thinking about. i beat myself up so much over how i am failing in this adoptive mom thing. i hate that i don't have all the compassion and patience and energy i thought i had going into this. i hate myself when i lose my temper, i lay in bed and count the ways that i messed up that day.
well, i realized that is wasted energy and reserves. and instead of making me do better, it makes me bitter, resentful, tired, and depressed.

so, though, i don't want "well, they are better off than if they were still in an orphanage" to be the bar i am trying to meet, i am going to count the ways that i am doing right by them. i am going to lay in bed and think about the times in the day when i was patient, was compassionate, initiated affection, held my tongue, handled something better than i had in the past, and just generally did right by them.

they are better here. i am educating them, feeding them, giving them medical care, and kissing their boo boos. i am meeting basic needs every day that they have never had. when i go above and beyond that i am going to allow myself a moment to acknowledge that. maybe this will build up my reserves a bit. i believe in positive discipline for my kids so why am i punishing myself?
All parents fall short of the parents they want to be. All parents yell more than they want or aren't as attentive as they want, or work more than they want, or feel they are "failing" in some way.  And that sucks. 


Parenting is hard. Parenting kids with special needs from difficult backgrounds is exceptionally hard. And, yet, here we are doing it. Day in and day out.  We are doing more than kissing boo boos. We aren't just teaching ABCs and 123s, we are teaching these kids (not toddlers-kids) how to be human beings.  How to be people in a way that most people can not comprehend. We teach them how to eat, how to talk,how to listen, how to think,  how to play, how to go potty, how to have a relationship, how to be in a family, in a community, how to work through grief, how to feel, how to do just about everything that most parents take for granted.  And it goes on and on.  And we may not do it perfectly.  We may vent and cry and beg for a quick fix. We may lose sight of that compassion sometimes and yell or withdraw for a time. But we don't give up.

And then, on top of that, 3 times a day, plus snacks, we put food on the table.  We make sure they brush their teeth and hair, that they get bathed, have clean clothes. We kiss and band aid every scrape.  We wipe tears and soothe nightmares. We help with school work.  We work on family skills and life skills.  We go to 1000 appointments and fill out endless paperwork. We read book after book and article after article to try to find the best ways of helping our children heal.

And on top of all that, we still have other children, jobs, messy houses, homeschooling, IEPs, and all that life throws at us.


We fall down, we get up.  We start over again and again.  Every morning we may need to pray to whatever God we believe in to give us strength just to get out of bed and do it again, but we do get out of that bed.

I am constantly proud of the parents I meet in the adoption world. When they express disappointment in themselves, I always feel such grace and love for them.  It is time we all start doing this for ourselves too, and loving and forgiving ourselves can only benefit our children.

People say "think about the progress", and that may work for some, but sometimes that just makes it worse. Sometimes the lack of progress contributes to the feelings of despair. So, I say "think about the dedication."  You are still here, still being mom (or dad) every single day.  And that is pretty daggum awesome.  If you are having a hard time, when you lay down for bed tonight, please remember that.  Think of all the things you did right today, even if it is just that you didn't give up!  Think of the dedication. We are all in this together, doing the best we possibly can for our kids.  Trying with all we have to provide the greatest life, the best chances, the most hope. And that is a pretty amazing thing.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Trust

Today is the first day of 2014.  The first day of the new year always fills us with hope, anticipation, expectation. Resolutions and pressure to improve ourselves and our lives.  This year, I am not going to be making a list of things I want to fix or work towards.  Several friends have chosen themes or words to focus on in the year.  I think this is a beautiful idea.  I spent a couple of weeks praying and meditating on this, hoping God/Universe would send me a word.

I kept thinking about the most obvious-Love.  I have really been trying to work on radical love even toward, especially toward those who are hardest to love. But, it just didn't seem like the perfect fit for this year.  Focus kept popping up in my mind as well as intention. I have spent the past several years like a pin ball just being sent shooting this way and that as if my life events were levers being pushed and pulled by a hyped up adolescent boy in an arcade. lots of flashing lights and loud beeping noises, chaos, and discord, and never really going anywhere at all.

I do need to focus.  I do need to think with intention, speak with intention, act with intention.  But, for some reason these didn't seem to be the right choices either.  I kept thinking that I was putting the cart before the horse, because I, honestly, don't know what to focus on.  I don't know exactly where I am intending to go, or even, really, what direction to turn.

So, I decided to lay down on New Year's Eve and pray and meditate on this one last time.  Nothing. I decided that, as I almost always do, I was thinking too much, trying too hard. I thought to myself, "O.K. I need to let go and trust that the universe will send me what I need when I need it." And I instantly got chills.  I knew the powers that be had indeed sent me what I need.

Trust.

I have been spinning my wheels this year (my whole life) trying to control, fix, figure out.  But, I haven't been still. I haven't listened. I have been trying to do instead of trust that things that I need will come to me if I simply let them.  Not that I don't have to work at anything, but I need to be still so that I even know what it is that I want to work at or on or towards.

I have spent two years treading water trying to stay afloat.  It is time I quit panicking and simply trust.

So that is my goal for the coming year to trust that All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. 

I hope you all have an amazing year and are looking forward with hope and peace.  If you have a word I would love to hear it!  Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A year and a baby

I have been a bad blogger again.  We have been busy around here. On October 10 we welcomed our newest (and probably final) addition.  Her name is Teagan and she is precious and we all adore her. Her big sisters and brothers can not get enough of her.  It has been especially cool to watch Eva and Darcy see how pregnancy, birth, and parenting are supposed to happen. They asked several times when we were sending her to Ukraine.  I think they have finally realized that we are not sending her away.

On October 13, we celebrated Darcy being home for one year.  It is crazy that she has only been with us a year, and at the same time it feels we were just in Ukraine.  Cliche, but true. We are missing Ukraine and wishing we could go back just to visit.  Although, right now with the protests, might not be the best time!

I suppose I should list the milestones for one year home.  To tell you the truth, they aren't much different than they were at 9 months home. We are progressing rather slowly.  She tried to go home with our neighbor the other day after a girl scout meeting and told me she thought he was her dad.  So, attachment is still an issue.  She still doesn't answer a question without just trying to tell you what she thinks we want her to say or even saying something that makes no sense at all.  Her school work is very forward back.  Just yesterday she read this sentence-

"Click Clack, Tick Tock went the clock in the club."

But today she couldn't read a single word in front of her. We are suspecting visual processing disorder along with auditory processing disorder.  She is getting better with the stacking tower and some of the montessori stuff which is awesome! She is also starting to interact more with kids and playing for longer stretches.  Her preference would be cleaning with a grown up trying to please, but she is slowly learning how to be a kid.  Her play is also a bit more advanced. She can take a doll and pretend to make it talk.  She basically repeats what her sister or I make our dolls say, but that is still a big improvement. 

Lying is another issue.  She can lie so well that I start to question myself even if the evidence is right in front of me.  Not a big deal when the question is, "Did you put your plate in the sink?", but hoping to have it under control by the time she is a teenager! She lies about things that won't get her in trouble, which is something Eva used to do a lot, and still does on rare occasion.  It is like protecting themselves and is a default setting for them. She did tell the truth about something yesterday and we made a big deal out of it!

I have very little doubt that Darcy had prenatal alcohol exposure now.  This morning was a rough morning, so I may not sound super upbeat, but I am hopeful, as always that we will continue to improve.  One day at a time.

Eva is doing well.  Her behaviors come and go, but always seem to come back, which is typical with FAS.  But it is longer between behaviors. She had started to wet the bed again simply because she didn't want to get up. She tried to poop in her pants when we were out because she didn't feel like stopping her play and she didn't think anyone would notice. She had a few days where she lied about everything.  She still ignores people when they speak to her if she doesn't feel like talking.  She still shuts down if she thinks you are upset even if you are not.  She still gets super hyper on a nearly daily basis. But, these things just are part of who she is.  We have way more good days and bad days and if you count it in moments, the good outnumber the bad by a HUGE margin.

Eva has a secure attachment and shows us genuine affection which makes the hard times with her easier to handle, and easier to move past.  I am trying to focus on attachment with Darcy because I know how much that can help every other situation.

The other kids are doing really well.  We took 2 months off of school around the time the baby was born and we are still trying to get back into the swing of a normal schedule.  It usually takes me about 9 months after we add a child to really get a new system down.  So, we are giving ourselves some grace and cutting ourselves some slack.

I will try to be better about updates!