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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

It’s been about 2 1/2 years since we left Ohio for Arkansas. I really wish I would have kept up with my blogging during that period, but maybe it’s best that I didn’t. While I loved living in Arkansas and so many good things came out of it, I have to admit that the period we were there was one of the hardest times in my life.

There were so many changes that occurred during that time, as well as painful lessons, trials, loss, and revelation. Scott’s sister and her children moved in with us briefly as she and her husband attempted to save their marriage. First, it was just her teen son as she arranged for him to fly in and get settled first as she finished up last minute arrangements back home. That was an adjustment period itself and I regret that my kids struggled with some of the influence he had on all of us, as well as the leniency we showed him because we were trying to make the changes he was going through a bit easier to adjust to. I think our kids felt that we were making too many exceptions for him while holding them to a different standard, and I think they were right. We later learned that they had been exposed to some things they shouldn’t have been exposed to when we weren’t around. It wasn’t until he was gone they felt okay to talk to us about some of their experiences. It really got to me to think that my own children didn’t feel that they could talk to me about their concerns.

Finally, my sister-in-law made it in, and her husband promised to help get the family business settled back home and then he and the other three kids would join her and her oldest son. At that time, we were going to a smaller church we’d found and were just beginning to get involved in, but when my sister-in-law expressed that she was not happy there, we agreed to try to find a church that we could all agree on and go to together. And then we ended up not really going to church at all.

Later, when it was clear that my sister-in-law’s husband wasn’t really devoted to making the changes he needed to make in order to save their relationship, and when it was obvious he wasn’t going to move down to Arkansas as promised, a divorce followed and we all said goodbye to our hopes that they would make it, to each other as his sister and kids moved back, and to the hopes that our family could all finally live in the same town and settle down.

Scott and I really struggled during all this as we went through some major trials ourselves that tested our relationship and shook us both up a bit. Scott ended up taking on two separate roles with the company he works for – that is two full-time careers – and ended up in a near zombie-like state. That was miserable for both of us because even when he was physically present, he really wasn’t even there during a time when our entire family needed him as we went through other issues and hardships. When he asked his boss for help, he was promised resolution and assistance but nothing ever happened. Months followed and nothing changed. He and I both tried to deal with this and other issues on our own and in our own way, and that only made things worse. I think we both ended up hurting each other and ourselves in the process.

On top of that, I was already vulnerable due to other things going on, and ended up dealing with major self-worth and body image issues. I was fed a few lies about myself, and because I tend to believe the lies a lot easier than I do the truth, I lost myself. I was miserable inside, and couldn’t help but think that he was comparing me to every other woman out there. I suddenly only noticed every physical feature other women had that I didn’t and felt that there was no way my husband could be happy with me – with all my flaws. My scarred, stretched belly, and broken down body was ugly after having his children. How could he NOT want other women after looking at me? What was I? I was a stay-at-home mom…a housewife. What could I possibly have to offer him that was so great? Suddenly, I found myself striving too hard for my husband’s approval, affection, and interest. I noticed I was spending more time on my make-up, hair, etc.

Next, I contemplated plastic surgery. I even called and made an appointment to see a plastic surgeon for a consult – twice. But deep down inside I knew I would hate myself for trying to cover up the damage with a superficial bandaid of sorts. So I cancelled the appointments both times knowing it wasn’t the answer for me. I knew my problem wasn’t going to be fixed with surgery. I’d still look in the mirror and be the same insecure and lost woman trying to grasp hold of whatever it was I needed in order to feel whole and valued. I didn’t need to fix my body, I need to fix my head and needed healing in my heart and broken spirit.

So instead, I ended up going to counseling.

During this time, Patrick went to counseling too. We discovered he too, was struggling with his own issues. As we took a step back and really looked at the situation, we realized that our whole family was falling apart in a sense, and we couldn’t keep it together on our own. We realized we were relying too much on our own strength to make it through the hard times, and we really weren’t strong enough to make it on our own. We realized we’d kind of put God up on the back shelf and stopped seeking and relying on Him to guide us through the darkness.

The darkness – it was so, SO dark. Even as I read this, I can feel the darkness, the desperation, the helplessness, the sadness, the emptiness – all of it, attempting to creep back in.  I never ever want to go back to that dark place again.

But somehow, by His patience and grace, we made it through as truth was revealed and healing set in.  We learned a lot. Our dependence on God has grown as we realized how easily we slipped into a state of self-reliance. We now realize how He truly is the only one holding our family together.  It is not us!

We are weak without Him, and we will never make it if we try to do this on our own. It’s humbling and inspiring at the same time, because through all of the darkness, we’ve had a taste of His goodness.  He didn’t let us down, even when we were letting Him and each other down.

So here we are now, just as life was finally starting to get back to “normal.”  Just as I was finding myself again.  Just as I was truly establishing relationships and just as we were enjoying life even through the craziness…we suddenly are called to move back to Ohio.

And as I type all this out and reflect on the last couple of years, I am thankful that God had the patience and grace to work even in the darkness to reveal His truth to us.

It’s funny too, because it seems that God wants to make sure I don’t forget.  He seems to be speaking to me through my 3-year-old a lot lately.  Just last night she asked me a very serious question as she was coloring in her book, “Mom? Do you need Jesus?”

“Yes, America! I DO need Jesus!”

“Yes you do!” she replied enthusiastically.

The truth is, we all do.

YOU DO.

He is not just a free ticket to Heaven, He is so much more.  He is a loving God who wants us to be free from the things that hold us captive in our lives.  We do not have to be slaves to our sin, our past, our pain, nor weaknesses.  Where we are weak, HE is STRONG.  If we are willing to give ourselves to Him and totally rely on Him and walk in obedience, He will rescue us!  But we have to be willing to rely on Him to meet all of our needs.

He truly is a good and loving God, and I need Him!

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Life has been rough the last year.  Real rough.  I’m not even going to pretend it has been easy!  Life with Dwight has been SO HARD.   He has really been struggling and there are days I think that he’s pushed me past my limits.  Maybe that’s why I finally got him enrolled in some counseling!

I’ve heard the expression that “God will not allow you to go through more than you can handle.”  But I have to respectfully disagree.  If God didn’t allow us to go through more than we could handle, why would we need Him?  I have been going through more than I could handle without Him…but because of Him, I am making it through, and I’m growing, and I am learning about new areas I need to completely rely on and trust and seek after Him.  I am at a point in my life where I can no longer be independent.  I NEED GOD.

And even though it is hard, it is such a liberating feeling to understand this and accept it!  I need Him!  Maybe it’s because I know that He will not let me down.  At the same time, it’s so humbling. 

I have just really been going through something the last couple of days that has humbled me.  Knowing how much I need God, knowing that we are going through some hard times right now, yet at the same time, God has continued to pour His blessings on me.  I’m honestly overwhelmed.  Here I have this teenage son who has so many issues and requires so much more than even the average teen, and it is so draining.  Most days I feel like I am giving, and giving, and giving!  I told my mom that he takes up about 85% of my energy and 50% of my free time.  Probably a slight exaggeration!  But the truth is, without him, life would just feel a bit empty. 

And then I look at each of my children.  They all require something of me, but they also bring something special to this family.  They are all different, but they all test me and suck me dry nearly every single day.  But I am so blessed.  Never in a million years would I have imagined I’d be living the life I have now.  I get to be the mom of Dwight, Patrick, Joshua, Kelly, Madison, and America!  Not only that, but I never thought I could have a husband who really gets it – who still treats me like a queen and tells me the things I need to hear on a daily basis.  After 11 years, he still makes me feel special – unique, like I’m THE ONE AND ONLY. 

Yes, things are hard.  There are moments I lose it and I want to pull my hair out, but WOW.  I am just so blessed to be the one who gets to live this life, to be the mother of these awesome kids and the wife to this amazing man.

I may be giving a lot lately, but God is giving so much more.  I am so thankful!

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UGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

That’s the sound that has been uttered a LOT in my house this week.  Mostly by my now 2-year-old daughter, but she had to pick it up from someone, right?  This week our house has been filled with snotty noses, messy sneezes, and sleepless nights due to non-stop coughing and sore throats.  It hit Madison and Kelly first.  They got a fever Monday morning.  Then Joshua got it, only no fever.  And as of yesterday, Scott, America, and I are feeling sick.  Just in time for the weekend!

Add in all the soccer games & practices, doctor’s appointments, Cub Scout meetings, school, chores, work, homework, and craziness that never seems to end, and yes, there’s a lot of “uuuugggggghhhhhhhhs!”  being uttered in the house! 

So I couldn’t help but think that it isn’t even officially Fall yet and we are already getting sick.  “Pleeeeeease God, not another winter like the last!”  I moaned inwardly.  I just don’t know if I can take it.  I keep hoping this winter will be different, but I have four kids in school, and they just don’t care or think about germs and prevention like their Mama does! 

It seems that I’m living a period in my life where God is weeding out the selfishness in me.  I can’t help but feel this week that even with the sickness, God is dealing with me – using the tiredness/weakness as a tool to deal with me – on some of the issues I would like to ignore.  It’s so hard to be nice when you aren’t feeling well!  But as the kids do little thinks that just irk me to no end, I hear this gentle, still voice in my head saying, “Just let it go…” 

Like yesterday when Dwight left a note by the dishwasher.  “Sorry – Early Bus.”  I have to admit, I was slightly annoyed, and yet a bit amused.  It’s his chore in the morning to unload the dishwasher.  I figure since he’s the first one up, if he unloads it, I can easily keep the kitchen clean by loading the dirty breakfast and lunch dishes in the washer.  But this morning, he somehow managed to find time to find a notepad, and scribble an explanation on why he was unable to do this chore, and still get on the bus  all the way down to the end of our street before it left!  Yeah, I didn’t know he could move that fast and still get down to the end of the street before his bus left!

So when he got home today, I wanted to interrogate him, to tell him how ridiculous it was for him to find the time to find a notepad, pencil, scribble a note, and place it on the counter, while the bus “waited.”  If it was so early, surely he should have been sprinting to the end of the street, in the dark, before the bus gave up and left.  But he explained his version of the story, and I heard that voice say, “Let it go…” 

So I simply said, “Okay.”  and let it go.  I wanted to explain to Dwight that his bus was not going to come that early, or tell him that he should have figured out it was the same “early bus” that came the day before…the one that turned out not to be his when he rushed out that day too.  That he should be able to figure these things out at 15…and maybe he should focus on just getting ready instead of watching for buses! 

And I’m starting to see that the time and energy I’m spending on nagging and interrogating and requiring my children to meet up to my standards is just draining me, and so not worth it!  (My husband has been telling me this for years, by the way, but I have a streak of stubbornness in me!)

So I’m learning to choose my battles, like with Patrick, who takes FOREVER to get ready for ANYTHING and everything!  Last year we battled with him on getting ready for school, and bed on time.  He actually spent 2 1/2 hours getting ready for school last year!  He’d do it in the evenings too!  I finally made him set a timer and required him to be ready within an hour, which worked for a while.  But the beginning of this year, he never met the deadline, even though I’d removed some morning chores from his checklist.  What can I say?  He’s stubborn.  But this week, I finally gave in.  “Patrick, you don’t have to set the timer anymore, just don’t miss your bus.  I really do wish you’d get ready in time for me to pray with you before you leave though.”

Oh, and of course, I did use my husband’s great idea and rearranged his morning to-do list.  I told him he has to do it in the order I put it in.  You know I put eating and changing clothes, brushing teeth and hair down last!  He’s too vain to go to school all stinky and disheveled looking! 

So he hasn’t missed his bus this week, but he has spent every morning leaving about 3 minutes later than he should, and has to run to the end of the street.  It’s kind of funny watching him walk out the door, laid back and cool like he is, and then as he looks up and sees all the kids waiting at the end of the street, he realizes the bus could show up at any minute, and so he makes an awkward run for it, backpack on his back, head down, short legs trying to keep up with his upper body.  Ahhhh, sometimes the natural consequences are far better than any sort of consequence I could come up with.  I’m getting entertainment out of this!  I can sit here and watch the same scene every morning!  And when that morning comes when the sidewalks are covered in snow or ice…yeah, you know I’ll be watching!

All this weeding and inward cleaning really isn’t fun.  I’m having to get my flesh in check, and I hate to admit I still fail way more than I succeed at it!  But I’m learning that it doesn’t have to all be painful.  Sometimes, especially as a parent, sitting back and letting God do His work can open up windows of opportunity to see things in a different light.  I’m learning to smile in the middle of those frustrating moments.  I think if I can learn to do this more often, I might just enjoy this stage in my life a little bit more!

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I should be blogging my birth story, and I can’t wait to do so, but for now, I just have to put in a quick post to say we have spent the last 2 days dealing with a lice infestation!  Imagine my horror, coming home from the hospital on Saturday with a newborn and discovering lice on my 5 year old 2 days later! 

It started off so good too.  The home nurse came by for a visit and the baby has only lost 4 ounces since birth!  She was very encouraging and we had a great visit.  Then we went on with the day, thinking it was going to be a day of relaxation and recovery.  But no.  Kelly kept scratching her head, complaining it itched.  So I told her she probably had dandruff and to let me check.

I pulled her hair over and discovered those little bugs crawling all over her head!  “Ewwwwwe!  Oh nooo!  She has lice!”  I freaked.  I was so disgusted, and Scott knew to get out the door and to the store right away, where he spent $150 on lice treatment products! 

So we started with Kelly and she was covered.  I’m not talking about just a little lice.  My mom used the comb on her hair after Scott shampooed it and she covered 3 paper towels with lice and nits!  It was so disgusting. 

Then we checked our hair and sure enough, Mom and I both had nits and then we found two live lice on Madison’s hair, so we treated her too (although we found no nits/eggs). 

We spent the entire day dealing with the lice infestation.  Laundry, hair, bagging up pillows and stuffed animals, clean up, etc.  My poor feet were so swollen by the end of the day, which was crazy because they hadn’t swollen up the entire pregnancy.  But I had to get that stuff taken care of right away.  It was making me crazy just thinking about it, and you can bet I’ve been picking through the baby’s hair just looking for signs of lice on her head. 

Oh, and if the baby blue’s hadn’t set in yet, Lice will most definitely make a postpartum mom cry!  Yesterday was Scott’s last day off and I was really looking forward to some bonding time.  Instead, we spent the day just dealing with nasty bugs.  Fortunately, he’s still working from home the rest of the week, but he isn’t off work.  I’d love his full attention right now, but I’m thankful he’s at least home!  I love having him around right now. 

Today I continued to find lice in Kelly’s hair so we treated it again and I pulled out several more nits and a couple of lice.  Ugh!  It’s certainly not how I anticipated spending the last 2 days, but thank God for my wonderful mom and husband!  I don’t know what I’d do without them! 

So, now I get to start making some phone calls to let our friends/family who’ve been exposed, know about the situation.  The call I’m dreading most?  My Doula.  That’s going to be a fun one!

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I took Patrick to the pediatrician yesterday.  He ended up referring Patrick to a neurologist.  So, I’m going to call and set up another appointment since it might take a couple of months to get him in.  I think his doctor is thinking it’s Tourettes.

I have to say I was a little frustrated with the pediatrician yesterday because he was asking me “which kids are yours?” 

I freaking HATE that question! 

Sure, I understand he was digging for a little medical history, but don’t you think that if these doctors are smart enough to earn a medical degree, shouldn’t they be smart enough in how they approach such sensitive issues, ESPECIALLY if children are involved???

What makes it worse is that 4 of my 5 children were sitting there listening to him ask me that and I kept trying to skirt around the question because I really didn’t know how to answer that in front of them, especialy Kelly.  They are all mine (which is what I should have said, but I was just so shocked he asked me that way!) 

Even when I tried to tell him which ones I gave birth to, he still pushed me to say which ones were adopted, and which one was my “stepson.”

When people ask me that question, I feel like they are trying to separate out my family.  Like, these are YOURS, and then these other ones over here are the outsiders – the stepkids, the adopted.  The ones who aren’t “really” yours.

Kelly doesn’t know that she’s adopted yet, so having to answer that question in front of the doctor was just very hard.  He obviously either didn’t get or didn’t care that his question made me uncomfortable, nor did he consider that we haven’t talked to all of our children about it yet.

And I know we need to tell Kelly, but now is the worst time of all to tell her.  We are about to have a baby.  I don’t want her to feel like “these kids are mine, and you are just adopted.”  I don’t want her to feel like an outsider.  I want her to understand and know her story is special, she is special, and that God brought her to us. 

Lately Kelly has been asking a lot of questions about when she was a baby.  Fortunately, her foster moms created a beautiful scrapbook with pics from birth up to the point where I was able to come get her in Washington when she was 15 months old.  I am almost finished with her adoption story and will read it to her when the time is right.

Until then, I show her the pictures, and share my experiences with her – how stinky her diapers were, how she wouldn’t take a pacifier, and her favorite – how she tried to “run away from home” before she was even two years old.  She thinks that story is hilarious!

Scott and I agreed that we should wait until after the baby is born and we’ve all adjusted before talking to her about her adoption.  I don’t believe it’s something we need to hold back or hide from her, but it most certainly should be the right timing!

That experience along with a few others just reconfirmed to me that this pediatric office isn’t the best one for our family.  I’m hoping the one that is opening up by the Children’s hospital by our house will be a little more sensitive to our needs, especially considering how much business we’ve been bringing into them! 

It also made me realize I need to stop cowering down to people, and stop feeling obligated to explain things, when they ask such an insensitive question.  Yes, the doctor needs to know as much as he can about the child’s medical history in order to provide him with the best medical care, but I do not believe that this doctor was being sensitive to the fact that we may not have discussed everything with our children yet.  (And this isn’t the first time this has happened with this particular doctor). 

I understand they want to understand our history, but there is a way to ask without separating my children into categories or making some of them feel isolated from the rest.  There is also a time to ask, and doing so right in front of all of the children is not the time to do it!  I also need to accept the fact that acquaintances don’t have the right to know our entire personal history. 

So lesson learned.  From now on, that’s my answer.  THEY ARE ALL MINE.  Because they are.  God gave them to me, one way or another, and how they got to me is not nearly as important as the fact that they are mine, that God chose me to be their mom, and God chose them to be my children.  God’s love made us a family.  Nothing can separate that!

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Forget looking like this when I’m woken up too early in the morning…

I’m currently looking like that when I’m awake!

Children of mine, beware!  (Or “beyare!” like Dwight used to say). 

If I catch you reconfiscating the gameboy (for the 2nd time), and finding batteries to reinstall because I threw them away in order to help you avoid the temptation of playing gameboy when you are clearly grounded from playing gameboy, Yes, I’m going to freak out on you.

If you use my drinking cups to store dirty sponges and comet residue under the sink, Obviously, I’m going to freak out on you!  (Why can’t you use the cheap plastic cups we got for FREE when we were at West Point?!?!  We have like, 20 of them!)

And if you lie to me about trying to sneak into the medicince cabinet in order to “eat” deodorant (Kelly obviously didn’t know it was deodorant!), when you are supposed to be taking a time out in your room, I AM going to freak out on you!

Maybe I am just seriously hormonal, but I’m thinking my kids are also seriously testing my patience right now!

I know it could be worse, but a couple nights’ stay at a hospital is beginning to sound like a vacation!

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Okay, Donna, here’s your post!  Sorry, I just keep forgetting to respond to how far along I am in my pregnancy!

We’re officially full term!  Now we just gotta wait til baby’s ready (and hopefully til my mom gets here next Saturday!).  Here’s a pic of me yesterday at 37 weeks.  No makeup or trying to look pretty in any way.  I was at Joshua’s baseball game and it was just too hot to apply and then sweat off makeup!  That and I’m outgrowing my clothes!

Here’s Joshua playing his favorite sport:

I think the coach in this pic is soooo hot.  I wonder if he’s married?  🙂

It’s nice having a big brother around to chase this little rascal.  She seems to think it’s okay to hang out with the baseball team!

Would have taken a picture of Dwight, but he was busy talking to another teen…who I’m sure would not have appreciated me taking pictures of the two of them talking.  And when I say Donavan was talking to this guy, I mean non-stop, won’t shut up talking.  I would have told him to give the guy a break, but then he would have just started talking to me!  🙂  So I enjoyed MY break!  I am a horrible person!

Kelly was busy making friends, as usual.

Oh, and Saturday, Scott’s friend came over to help put this up:

It’s supposed to be a swingset/playset.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate much until the evening, and then they figured out they were missing a part, so now we are waiting for them to ship that out to us before we (Ha Ha, I said WE as if I’m helping build this thing!) can finish it!  I’m hoping we can get it up before the baby is born!  Then we can throw the kids outside to play! 

Oh, and Patrick is going in Tuesday (next Tuesday) to check up on him with his jerking movements (See post below).  I explained to the nurse what was going on with him and that was the soonest they could get him in with their pediatrician.  The longer we are with this particular practice, the less impressed I am.  Soooooooo, I’m hoping when they open the new hospital close to our house, we can switch over to the new pediatrics practice right next door.  We’ll see…

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