Saturday, May 28, 2011

End of school and other stuff

First off, did anyone else watch "The Middle" this week about end of school?  Haahaa!!!  I've told you before that it is my family.  Well, I laughed out loud several times watching this week. 

Here are Carter and Abby on the last day of 4th and 9th grades.  This year they have changed so much.  Carter is becoming a man, learning about girls and driving and studying for hard subjects.  Abby is becoming a preteen, navigating a tiny bit of girl drama stuff.  She had a great school year and wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

 Sweet Dillon.  Bless his heart, he has to go to school next week and doesn't know that Carter and Abby do not.  Nobody tell him!  He has done great in first grade and is really doing well in math.
What'd I tell ya?  Party man!  He is nuts.  Too smart, scary smart, and just crazy.  He is hilarious and wearing me plum out.  Last night during a precious graduation ceremony, he loudly announces "Oh my gosh" complete with Valley Girl inflection!  Hmmm, anyone know the saying "Paying for my raising?"  :)
Here I am snuggling my sister's foster baby.  Dang it, she's sweet and gorgeous!  So far the birthmother has not made any effort at reunification and we are begging sweet Jesus to let Melody and Brad adopt her.

Couponing is coming along nicely.  My friend, Jenny, is coaching me. I used a store coupon AND a manufacturer coupon today at Target and got 2 Degree deoderants for $1.22each, usually $3.64 each.  It seems the key to this is making sure I buy items on sale AND that I have a coupon to match with those items.  My stockpile is tiny, but growing. I'm praying to save 50.00 a week off our grocery and misc. home bill.  This is important because we are starting to ramp up our college savings.  Only 3 more years til we send Carter off.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Depraved Indifference

First scroll way down to the far right side of the blog to pause my Music Player
I wish I could have shown this video to the owners of the bazillion dollar yachts parked at Atlantis Marina in Nassau last week.  Forgive me for being judgmental, for all I know, some of them donate to care for orphans all the time!

Monday, May 23, 2011

confusing times

You long time followers know I'm always open and transparent with our lives(at least up to the point of where we need to protect privacy).  Some of you may be dealing with these same things, or have walked through them.

Our kids are growing up.  We are in uncharted territory regarding girlfriends and such.  Hard to see your kids become young adults.  It is easy to make black and white rules...but does that really help?  Is there a place for being a little bit fluid when you kid has great character and love for Jesus?

We are praying through vehicle ideas.  Carter is 15 1/2 and will be driving soon.  Mike and I drive old cars--but Mike's is really beat up.  Hard to know when to bite the bullet and buy a newer vehicle.  We hate debt.  We love mission trips.  We need a new vehicle, but that would mean no mission trips for good while.  Hard to know what is the right thing.  Praying for wisdom and patience.

Sometimes you realize a child with special needs will likely always have special needs.  Dillon couldn't tell someone how old he was a few weeks ago.  He wasn't upset about not knowing his age, but it cut my heart open that at 8 and a half, he can't answer that.  No healing.  Hurts like crazy.  Makes me so mad that he doesn't get any schooling or speech services all summer because he "doesn't have documented regression."  ARGH, special ed stuff is hard to navigate.

When do you decide it is time to cover the gray hair?

And yet, life is great.  My schooling is going well.  I have straight As.  I've begun learning about couponing and, with my friend Jenny's help, expect to knock 30-50% off of our grocery bill with just a little creativity and time.
Our children haven't been sick in a long time(big praise! I bet our pediatrician thinks we moved).   Summer camps begin soon and Abby is so excited to attend GA camp with her cousins again.  Carter will go to Student Life youth camp.  Dillon will take swim lessons.  Mike will put to bed his 11th year at the Christian school were he works.  He has also gotten so svelte by losing nearly 30 pounds with the help of "Lose it" app on his phone.  Hudson--well, he's a party waiting to happen, talks ALL the time, sings Jesus Loves Me and David Crowder's Oh How He Loves.  So cute.  The little challenges don't really matter do they?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is such an amazing group of teens.  I'm shocked at how hard they work.  They never complain and they outworked me--which is hard to do as I'm a workhorse on mission trips.  They are hilarious and so fun.  They love on the residents in the camp and really got to know them.  Today we worked so so hard!  We cleared a demolished shack, painted, made and passed out lunches, fed a few residents, and some of the kids just spent sweet time singing with or listening to the residents.  The hotel staff here are dumbfounded that we are serving at the All Saints camp.  They said "those people are the rejects."  Sad sad, tossed aside to die alone.

And, in surprise news, my sister Melody and her hubby got a call a few days ago.  They were not on the list for a new foster child placement, but, in a  hospital in the city was a newborn baby girl who had a dire need for a family and would they consider taking her.  Seems that is a no brainer.  So, guess who has a new baby in the family?  My new neice, whether she stays for a few weeks or forever.  She's darling and I'm so mad that everyone in my family has held her already but Mike and I!!  No fair.  My parents are already announcing that they have a new grandaughter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mission Trip with the teens

We are in Nassua, yes, that is the Bahamas!!  It gets old when you tell people you are taking the seniors from the school on a mission trip to Nassau and they give you the look and a snort, like HA, yea right!  I know, it sounds ludricous.  And, looking at the beach I'm enjoying for about 2 hours everyday, I'd think the same thing.  Stunning!!!  Soft sand, crystal clear water, amazing.

So, what are we doing?  We are working at the All Saints AIDS camp.  Basically, an old leper colony outside of main town area in Nassua.  Think nursing home/homeless village, but of course, no nurse.  The residents live in individual, one-room shacks that are about 6 X 10.  The rooms are up on stilts.  They are wood frame with nothing.  There are some children here.  

 The baby above is named Asia.  She walked around on a porch all day.  They have a one room hut and that is it.  Darling sweet angel.  The teen girls had a fit for her.

We cleared off rooms and porches and painted.  The strong guys demolished a shed...using 1 sledgehammer, one pike(think enormous and heavey railroad spike), and a long 2 X 4.  I'm sure OSHA would have had a complete coronary watching those boys ;)  They were really amazing and worked so hard.  What really jumps out to me is the stark contrast in haves and have-nots.  You've got places like Atlantis with bazillions of dollars flowing through and then places like the AIDS camps with nothing.

These teenagers are incredible.  They work hard, are eager to help in any way.  I led them into a hut and walked over to a bed bound woman.  They were leery, but after watching me hug and introduce myself, they all followed suit.  No signs of fear or disgust on their faces.  They served the least of these and gave money out of their own pockets to buy more supplies.  I'm so darn impressed.  9 out of the 13 kids here want to go into the medical field.  I told the director and she said  I could bring them to help with dressing changes.  I think they are stunned by the lack of resources, medical care and hope.  This is why mission trips are so darn beneficial.  Can you imagine what 9 teenagers with very smart brains and a love for Christ can do in the medical field--awesome to think of the ripple effect this experience will have on these kids.
The above pic is an example of a mission trip gone wrong.  A group came in several years ago and wanted to beautify things.  There is gloppy old concrete that I'm assuming was to be a fountain and planter of some sort.  The camp has extremely limited money.  How in the world were they supposed to maintain something like that?  So, instead of the natural tropical flora to look at, there is old ugly groupings of concrete. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Orphan ministry-shoes

Hudson and I took a road trip this morning to deliver 52 pair of shoes and 42 pair of socks that our church collected the past few weeks for Shoes For Orphan Souls, click HERE for info about the organization.  It was a really cool place.  They let kids come volunteer with adults.  I'm planning on taking a small group from our church to help sort shipments of shoes.  Anyone up for coming along?

This was our first endeavor in our launch of an orphan and at-risk children ministry at church.  Sllllooowww going, but yet, going all the same.  Our pastor is fired up and supportive--I'm thankful for that.  I'm pretty sure the people at church see me as the annoying adoption/orphancare fanatic.  That's okay, I'll take that label and run with it ;)  147-163 million orphaned children in the world deserve a few fanatics!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hudson and attachment?

Now I've got myself worried.  Ive noticed that Hudson is very willing to go to strangers for hugs and adoration.  A few days ago, while waiting on Carter(we do that a lot!), he let another students dad hold and snuggle him--he'd never seen this dad before in his life(yes, I know him and he's totally legit).  It got me thinking if he's got some attachment issues?

UGH, I'm a paranoid freak.  I think maybe he's just so confident in his cuteness and he feels that the world is his adoring stage.  He's a party waiting to happen.  When we get to church, he bursts through the nursery door like Cramer on Seinfeld and runs to his teacher grinning.  He always tells me "I lud you so much."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm so proud!

Carter is filling out job apps.  I'm so proud.  I got my first real job the summer before I was 15, in a nursing home.  Nothing teaches a teen about the real world like a job.  He asked me "What if I get fired for my forgetfulness?"  He's pumped about making minimun wage and how filthy rich he will be :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The May panic attack

May always makes me panic.  Last month of school.  So many extra events(Athletic banquet, trips, field days etc).  Abby is in volleyball, Carter and Mike have big parts in the school musical Narnia.   I start spiraling into a frenzy of go here, write this check, make a teacher gift, complete all assignments.  Plus, my heart knows that one more year is over.  Do you realize my oldest son has 3 more years home with us??!!!!  He is finishing his freshman year.  I'm panicking.  You know good and well that he won't be hanging out with me much anymore.  Abby will begin 5th grade and Dillon will begin 2nd grade.  Poor Hud is stuck at home with me--much to his chagrine.  He wants to go to school too.

Then, there's my classes.  Some days I really wonder where my sanity was in deciding I could go to school full-time.  I'm going to share this with you so you guys will have some comic relief today:   my art assignment.
 Don't think I can't hear you laughing.  The assignment was to research about DaVinci and his development of linear perspective.  Then, we have to draw a picture that shows spatial awareness with something in the foreground and backgound.  There is also supposed to be a vanishing point--but I don't know what that means.  And yes, we have to post our picture to the class gallery!!  Now, I'm only taking this class because I'm forced to.  I'm not a crafty, creative type of girl.  My parents and sisters are, I'm not.  My dad and sister, Emily, even make their living in the art business.  Just wondering, do you think if would be wrong to submit one of Abby's drawings?  She's a great artist.  Kidding...kidding

 Yesterday at work I got to help code a 25yr old gravely ill man for 2 hours.  I loved every minute of it.  Paint or draw--hate it!!!!  Different strokes for different folks huh?

Oh well, guess what I'll be doing in 2 weeks?  Working at the All Saints AIDS camp in the Bahamas baby.  Mike and I take the seniors on their mission/senior trip.  I can hear the surf calling my name.  Oh yeah, and the serving will be awesome too :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bonding and Attachment revisited

I've gotten a few emails from sweet families in their first adoption experience.   Naturally, they are wanting to be prepared for the child's arrival and hope to initiate good bonding right off the bat.  I wrote about toddler adoption and attachment last year.  Click HERE if you'd like to read it.

The funny thing with attachment and bonding is that it seems to cycle.  Maybe that isn't everyone's experience.  I feel like I've gone through different stages at various times.  My kids seem to go through various attachment stages too.  Many factors can affect the attachment cycle.  What concerns me is the movie/tv version of adoption.  Either the adoption experience is highly magical and everyone is falling in love and crying like crazy because they are so happy.  Or, Hollywood loves to show the negative and sensationalized adoptions that do not go well.  I want new adoptive families to cut themselves some slack.  This miraculous experiences isn't always violins playing in the background and hearts floating.  Sometimes you "fake it till you make it."  A traumatized child and an exhausted parent do not always feel instantly in love.  But, that's the thing about love--it isn't a feeling.  Love is a daily choice and decision. 

Our adoption agency is excellent at preparing families for the changes their family will likely go through.  If you'd like some good resources, click DILLON to see books, articles, webinars, classes and such.  Read lots of adoption books(my favorite is The Connected Child and Are Those Kids Yours).  Don't get overly caught up in leftist, humanistic junk, but do glean the insight and tips.  And, most of all, remember that our God is a God of healing and restoration.  Begin praying now for your soon to be child's heart to be bonded to yours.  For you family to remove barriers to attachment.  For Jesus to soothe the child's trauma that he/she has experienced in being disrupted from parents, in abuse, in institutional living.  He delights in giving a crown of joy in place of sorrows, in replacing beauty for ashes!