Friday, April 30, 2010

Thoughts on the Recent Russian Adoption Tragedy

I have not blogged about the recent Russian adoption tragedy because I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. I mean, as a mother, I just cannot imagine placing my child (because little Artyom was this mother's child)on an airplane all alone for a long and grueling international flight back to the country that had not helped him in the first place, never to return, left to wonder where his mother and grandmother were and if they were coming back for him! Sickening!

I have not blogged about it because I had really just begun to sort out how I felt about adoption disruptions and then this happened!!

I know that when Chris and I found Lizzie, we both agreed that no matter what we found when we got to China, no matter what might be "wrong" with Lizzie that we had not been told about, she was our daughter. It was just that simple. We had made a commitment to her and to God and to our other children and we were bringing her home.

Now, that being said, I have read enough to know that if a family brings a child home and just cannot handle the extreme (and I mean extreme) or dangerous behavior their child is exhibiting, then many times disrupting (once home) is the best choice for the child. My heart sinks, however, when I hear of a family deciding "in country" to disrupt and leave that child behind. Many times these kids are in total shock and who wouldn't be?? Can you imagine leaving everything that has been familiar, all your friends and the people you had considered family, to go to a different country with total strangers?? I think I would absolutely shut down and I believe a lot of these kids do. Sometimes these families even ask to be given another child! Excuse me??? For 9 long months, our family talked about Lizzie, prayed for Lizzie, prepared for LIZZIE. She was our daughter, no matter what!

One day, right around the time I had heard about another disruption in China, I found a very special blog and I am so glad I did. Adeye and her family adopted a beautiful little girl from China who had been left behind by another family. Adeye had been "warned" not to adopt this precious child but they stepped out in faith and listened to their hearts and brought their daughter home. It is a truly inspiring story and one that makes your heart weep for all those who were left behind for perceived "problems" when all they needed was the love and nurturing of a family. Go to Adeye's blog, No Greater Joy Mom and read about this remarkable family and their precious daughter, Haven and while you are there, read about their 2 new precious daughter's, Hailee and Haden, who are waiting for them in a Russian Orphanage. This is another amazing story - trust me!!

As we waited for Lizzie, we did talk about what we would do if she came home and was violent toward us or her siblings or our pets. We talked about and disagreed a bit about different scenarios and how we would handle them, but the one thing we both agreed on was that we were committed to this child and we would do whatever it took to make it work. Again, I know that there are many really wonderful families who never thought they would disrupt but find themselves in a situation that they felt they had no choice and I am not condemning them for their heartbreaking decision. However, the way little Artyom's mother handled their situation was just plain wrong on so very many levels.

I was reading a blog post the other day about this situation. Kris over at Tell Her This had put a link to a post that she had found on a blog called West Wind . In this post, a mom of a little one from China talks about the Russian situation and in this post she talks about how her thoughts turned to Artyom and how he must have felt on that very long flight back to Russia. As her thoughts were filled with sadness for this boy, she was reminded of a plane trip she had taken with her daughter about a year after they had brought her home. On this plane ride, their beautiful little girl began to get very nervous and wanted to go home. As her anxiety level quickly increased, her daddy, very wisely, told her not to worry, that momma and baba would be with her no matter where they went and that they were not going away from her. After that little bit of reassurance, she calmed down and went to sleep.

This post was very significant to me because it took me right back to when we brought Lizzie home. She had been sleeping fairly well in China (in the room with us), but as soon as we got home, her nights became terrible. She would scream and cry and did not want me to leave the room but still seemed terrified to close her eyes to sleep. After a few weeks of this bedtime hell, I called our social worker, Lauren, from our wonderful agency and explained to her what had been going on and that we just didn't know what to do. Lauren listened and very simply suggested that Lizzie might be scared to close her eyes and sleep because we might not be there when she woke up. It did make sense. When Lizzie went to bed at her CWI, the nanny that put her to bed would be gone and another nanny would be there when she woke up. However, Lizzie was just 2 years old and pretty much non-verbal. Would she really understand what we were talking about?? We really should have known better!! "grin"

That night as we were getting the girls ready for bed, we talked about the next day and what we would be doing and where we would be going. OK, so far so good. As I lifted Lizzie up to put her in the crib, I held her close and whispered in her ear that mommie loved her and that I would be here in the morning when she woke up I told her that I would always be here and that I would never leave her. To our complete amazement, Lizzie allowed me to put her in the crib without so much as a whimper. She went to sleep and slept through the night and has never had a problem since. I take that back, the only problem now is getting her to WAKE UP!! Hehe!! It broke my heart to think that all this time, she was honestly afraid that we would not be there when she woke up. It also jolted me back to her reality and to just what this precious little one had been through. Sometimes I need those jolts because sometimes I forget.

Lizzie is a happy, loved and loving little girl who still has not been in our house as long as she was in her orphanage. How's that for a jolt and sometimes when she is acting out or tantrumming, I try to remind myself of this and of how very far she has come in (almost) 2 short years. She has done so well that it can be so very hard to remember, but I need to for Lizzie's sake.

I know that not every adjustment problem can be fixed through simple explanations or the best mommie and daddy in the world or even with all the love in the world, however, many can be! Artyom had only been home for 6 months - 6 months! It could have been that with tons of love and counseling, he might have developed into a wonderful, loving little boy - or not - but 6 months is not long enough to make that kind of drastic decision.

So, while I think disruptions in some cases are an ultimately necessary thing, disruptions "in country" or even after 6 months of being home are (in my opinion) premature, unfair and so very tragic.

I think about how far my sweet girl has come since we have been home and the progress she made even after being with us for a week in China,

In China:





Home:





and it breaks my heart to think about how many wonderful, loving kiddos have been left behind because they were simply adjusting or coping the best way they knew how.

Is education the key? I don't know. More support after coming home? Maybe??? I don't know. I do know, however, that there are so very many kids who get adopted ALL the time, who are loved and cherished and flourish. Unfortunately, you don't hear about those adoptions very often. Sigh!!

So I will continue to love my little girl and I will continue to advocate for those who still wait and I will trust that stories like little Artyom's will be the exception in a sea of beautifully formed families through adoption.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Help!!!!!

My computer has been hijacked...



by a procrastinating 12 year old - a very cute, procrastinating 12 year old but still...



at least he suffers...



really suffers...



research paper!!! Nuf said!!! BWHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sunday Snapshot - My Front Porch

My Sunday Snapshot this week is all about my front porch!! Kind of odd but I love my front porch!! To participate in Sunday Snapshot or to read more great Snapshots click here:

Ni Hao Y'all


So on to my front porch! I love rocking chairs, porch swings and trees and that is why I love my front porch.



It has rocking chairs



a front porch swing



and a great view of lots of trees!!!



It is a great place to look for tree frogs



or to take pics



like first big girl pants pic



and first day of school pic



or first Cotillion pic



and first snow (in a very long time) pic!!!



We remember all of our sweet pups who have passed on here



and document each Christmas here



Most of all, though, it is just the best place to watch the world go by



I have had lots of heart to heart's on my beloved front porch, as well as picnics (especially when I have just swept the kitchen floor - hehe). I have even gotten to escape there for a few beautiful, albeit fleeting moments of peace with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. I love my front porch. It truly is my little piece of paradise right here at home!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Smart Start - yeah right!!

Smart Start. It sounds like a great way to start your day, right? I mean a cereal that is named Smart Start and has all the vitamin bells and whistles listed right there on the front of the box has just got to be healthy, right? Right????? Harrumph!! Read on!!

As most of my readers know, Caleb and Lizzie have sensory issues. One of the toughest challenges we face with these two is getting some kind of nutrition in them. I have to say that Lizzie actually eats a greater variety of "healthy" food than my poor Caleb does.

Caleb's OT once told me that she had seen many kids who had a fear of food, but that Caleb was by far the worst! GRREEAAT!!!

Sooooo, Caleb has a very limited menu of foods that he will eat. Dry cereal and in particular, SMART START (GRRR) is on his approved list and me, being the informed Momma that I am (I am slapping myself right now), was so smug about the fact that I was actually getting something that was nutritious in my sensory boy!!!

This is what I saw this morning on Yahoo News

WORST VITAMIN-ENHANCED CEREAL

Kellogg’s Smart Start Original Antioxidants (1 cup)



190 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
3 g fiber
14 g sugars

Of all the cereals on this list, this is the best example of inflated marketing. This box is littered with words that attempt to make you think you’re getting a wholesome breakfast, but in reality you’re getting a run-of-the-mill bowl of highly sweetened cereal with a multivitamin tossed in on top. Don’t let the added vitamins persuade you into thinking that the sugar isn’t a problem. It most certainly is.

Eat This Instead!
Kashi Vive (1 cup)
135 calories
2 g fat (1 g saturated)
10 g fiber
8 g sugars


Kashi Vive?? Are they serious??? UGH!!!

So I guess it is back to the grocery store now to scour the shelves for something, anything that looks yummy but is healthy and that Caleb will eat!!! Do these cereal making people know how hard it is to get Caleb to even try something new!!!!! Sigh!!

The other cereal that was on the approved list was Multi Grain Chex!!!! Multi - Grain - Chex!!!! Healthy, right????? WRONG!!!!

WORST HIGH-FIBER CEREAL

General Mills Chex Multi-Bran (1 cup)



210 calories
2 g fat (0 g saturated)
8 g fiber
13 g sugars

Chex might seem harmless, but it’s the only brand that holds down two spots on this list. The slip-up with this box is the heavy load of sugar. (Notice that it’s even sweeter than the chocolate-flavored Chex.) General Mills calls it a “hint of sweetness,” but really it’s on par with some of the most indulgent boxes on the shelf. In fact, one bowl of this cereal has more sugar than a scoop of Edy’s Slow Churned Fudge Tracks Ice Cream. We applaud the fiber, but the sugar won’t cut it.

Eat This Instead!

Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size (1 cup)
170 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated)
6 g fiber
0 g sugars


Post Shredded Wheat, yeah right!!!!

The next cereal we actually do not eat but my Mom does!!! Hehe!!!

WORST ICONIC CEREAL

Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (1 cup)



190 calories
1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
7 g fiber
19 g sugars

It'll be hard to find a more sugar-loaded cereal than Raisin Bran. It’s sweeter than even Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs, or Cocoa Krispies. Some of that sugar can be attributed to the raisins’ natural blend of fructose and glucose, but the real culprit is the sticky white armor of sucrose that enrobes each piece of fruit. Both Kellogg’s and Post are guilty of this raisin mistreatment, so what should be a legitimately healthy bowl of fruit and grains pours out closer to a candy-coated dessert.

Eat This Instead!

Kellogg’s All-Bran (1 cup) with a tablespoon of raisins
150 calories
0.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
7 g fiber
13 g sugars


Have you ever seen Kellogg's All Bran? Looks kind of like hamster food to me!

If you want to read the rest of the article go here

Can we get some truth in advertising people?????

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

So my sweet Caleb is sick.  He had 105 degree temp last night!! Yikes! Today he felt a little bit better. I mean after all, he only had 103 for most of the day - almost well!!

Right???

Sigh!!

Because he was SO much better, Hubby decided to make a grocery store run to get him something special to eat that might appeal to him. He is my other sensory kid and has a really hard time with food. When hubby asked my sweet boy what he might want, all he said was to get some chocolate chip pancakes because we were out and "the boys" (aka, his brothers) really liked chocolate chip pancakes!!! Ok, can I hear a collective, AWWWWWW!!!!

My sweet Caleb has his struggles in life (namely his brothers - I'm kidding - really - hehe) but he has a heart of gold and is always thinking of others and is always deep in thought!

One night as I was hugging him goodnight for the umpteenth time, he said, "Wait Momma, I need to take my PJ top off so I can feel the love," and asked for another "shirtless" hug!!! Grin!!!

Last week as we were leaving soccer practice (as we often are) he must have been lost in thought because on the car ride home he said, "Momma, Spring is beautiful. Lizzie is beautiful, so Lizzie is like Spring!" Oh be still my heart!!!

Ok, ok, I forgive you for not ever eating anything - ever!!! I think what God didn't give you in the good eating department, he more than made up for in the sweetness department!!!

So, my sweet baby boy is sick and just who does he cuddle with for comfort????

His lovin' Momma, you say????

Um, no!!!



That someone would be Lily, our wonderful foster doggie!!!!



I can't really blame him. She is awfully snugly and she did manage to get a smile out of him!!!

Right after I took these pics, I received an email with a wonderful little story about dogs and how great they are and I just had to post it after seeing (over and over again) how much comfort our pups bring to our kids

A Dog's Purpose? (from a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,

''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''



Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Nanny

Not feeling great tonight so my Sunday Snapshot will be short and sweet - very sweet!

To join in or read other fab snapshots go here,

Ni Hao Y'all


Meet Taz



Our Nanny Dog



and real live "Pillow Pet!"



He's so good, he even watches over the baby dolls!! Hehe!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Star is Born???

OH NO!!!!!



I think we might have a future "American Idol"


video

Really???

Or maybe "Dancing With the Stars?"



Oh give me strength!!!

video

OR...

video

Wrestle Mania???? Crud!!!
How does this happen??? Please tell me!!



Oh well, the "mate less" socks now have a new life and purpose in my "dust rag" drawer! Hey, anything is better than covering my boys' stinky feet 24/7!!! You could even think of it as a promotion of sorts!!



One of them also made a great ice pack insulator when Miss Lizzie decided to split her lip yesterday! UGH! Just make sure you put the ice in a zip lock baggie first and make sure you WASH the sock!!! hehe!! Wonder what other uses I can think of for these recycled socks?? Will have to let you know what I come up with! Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

THE Question

Well, on Monday the question was asked, the question that I had anticipated, but dreaded finally came and of course, came while we were in the car! The other question, you know the "did I grow in your tummy" question came in the car too. Come to think of it whenever Lizzie brings up the birth mommie subject, we are always in the car. I can remember as a child getting lost in thought (deep thought) on car trips too. Like mother like daughter I guess!! Glad to know that she didn't get just her hard head from me!!!



So earlier in the day on Monday, we went to Target to purchase a birthday gift for the girls' friend who was having a formal tea party birthday - will have to share about that later - too cute!!





While we were there and because I just cannot go to Target without buying something else other than what I was actually going there for, we decided that the girls needed some sandals (which they seriously do - really - I promise!!). Anyway, they had a great time trying on ALL the sandals they could reach and finally decided on some adorable sparkly flip flops (on sale, I might add). Lizzie chose some just like Em's but because her feet are so much smaller and because she has no toes on her non clubfoot except for one tiny toe (you know the one that went wee, wee, wee all the way home), her flip flops had the strap around the back of the heel. So, the part of the flop that goes in between your big toe and second toe ended up fitting in between the top of her foot and her one little toe. I could almost see the wheels turning in her beautiful mind but I decided to just let her be and let her try on whatever she wanted to and pick out (within reason) whatever she wanted. I will always remember a post I saw in one of my yahoo groups from a Mom whose daughter had no toes. Her wonderful post was about her amazing daughter's sheer determination to wear flip flops because she wanted to wear flip flops! Somehow, her daughter managed to keep those flops on - with no toes! What a lesson that post was to me and I know my Lizzie has that same determination, round here we call it hard headedness!!!



Anyway, once the girls had made their decision, we left (quickly before they changed their minds) and went home to get ready for the fab tea party. Later that day, as we were driving to the main event, I heard my sweet girl's voice from the back of the car.

Lizzie finally asked me why. "Mommie, why are my hands and feet different than Em's?" "Why do I have some toes (on her clubfoot) and not some toes?" "Why do I have some fingers and not some fingers?"

Sigh. Deep breath.

I mustered up every ounce of strength I had to not cry. Lizzie didn't need me to cry. She needed to know that it was ok, that she was ok, that her hands and her feet were ok. Lizzie needed to hear that from me, and she did. Not only did she hear it from me, however, but also from her apparently, "smarter than her Mommie" sister!!



Little did I know that Miss Em, would just instinctively know what to say. I had been researching this for years. Heck, I grew up with my amazing brother who has LD's but I still needed to hear from other parents of LD kids, needed to research any and every Internet site, needed to go over and over this conversation in my mind about a bazillion times and yes, bug my poor hubby about how I was so scared that I would mess it up!! I know he wishes sometimes that I came with "mute" button!!!

Emmeline in her fabulous 4 year old wisdom jumped right in on the conversation and didn't miss a beat - with no preparation!!!



The little stinker! I wonder if I can hire her to have all of the, ahem, "conversations" around here. You know like, how do babies get in your tummy? Oh wait, that would mean that I would have to have that conversation with Em first!! Never mind!!! hehe!!!

So as we drove down the road to the girls first ever fancy tea party, we talked. We talked about how Lizzie was just born that way and that she can do anything anybody else can do,





and that everybody is different and special. We talked about people's differences and how those differences make the world an interesting and beautiful place.

Em pointed out that Mommie is old and Emmeline is not!! Gee thanks Em!!! Heh!!

We also talked about words that Lizzie can use if someone asks her about her hands and that she can tell them that she doesn't want to answer the question if she doesn't feel like answering the question. We also talked about the fact that she can ask any of her siblings (she has quite a few) or mommie or daddy for help in answering those questions. We talked until Lizzie was ready to not talk anymore and it was fine. She was fine and yes, I survived.



We went on to the fancy tea party and I noticed that Lizzie was a little more clingy than usual and that's ok too.



I know that we will revisit this conversation many, many times and I also know that it will get harder as she gets older. I also know, however, my incredible daughter and I know that she is strong and courageous and determined (hard headed) and absolutely beautiful just the way she is and I am infinitely proud to be her Mommie!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thank you to our troops!!

Every now and then we get a magazine from USAA that hubby will skim through or if I get it first, will just throw away ! In this issue, however, hubby came across a picture that took his breath away and the story behind it just reinforces what our troops and their families sacrifice each and every day to protect our freedom.



Here is what was written about the picture:

This photo was taken by Abby Bennethum last July as her husband’s Army reserve unit was deploying to Iraq. Staff Sergeant Brett Bennethum’s unit was called into formation to receive its finial instructions, but the young soldier’s 4-year-old daughter Paige refused to let go of her father’s hand.
Realizing the importance of this moment, Bennethum’s commanding officer allowed the little girl to stand alongside her daddy and spend those final moments holding his hand before he left to serve his county.
Similar poignant scenes play out thousands if times each year across America, as servicemen and servicewomen leave their friends and families behind in defense of our freedom.


Wow - and Thank you!!!

To read more about the picture, you can go here

Sunday Snapshot

This week's Sunday Snapshot is all about my Mom's yard! Weird, I know but bear with me a bit!

If you would like to participate in Sunday Snapshot, click here

Ni Hao Y'all

You can also check out some other really cool Snapshots!!

Anyway, on to my Mom's yard. Do you have something that can just take you right back to your childhood? I mean really take you back!

My Mom's yard is one of those things for me.

You see, my Parents have lived in the same house for about 41 years. That just does not happen very often these days and I think it is kind of a shame.

I mean, I know there are pros and cons to living in the same place for your lifetime just as there are pros and cons to moving around a bit, but I guess I know only of my experience and it has been very comforting to be able to go home, truly home, when I needed to.

Hubby's family moved quited a bit as he was growing up and an advantage he gained was his ability to make friends a heck of a lot easier than I do. He is much more social and handles change better than I. I tend to be a home body and am still closest to the friends that I had growing up.

But once again, I digress!! My Mom is a wonderful gardener - a green thumb! She has always loved to work in the yard and has always managed to have a beautiful garden.



Unfortunately, I did not inherit her green thumb. Not only do I not have her green thumb (who thought of that phrase anyway), but I would have to admit that I have a definite brown thumb! She has not lost hope, however and will still give me a beautiful "green" plant every so often that ALWAYS turns "brown" in my house. I have told her that those poor plants must scream in terror as they leave the plant spa (her house) and come to the plant house of horrors (my house)!!

Maybe she's right? Maybe there is hope? Maybe I don't have a true brown thumb after all? Maybe it is simply a "5 kids and no time to water" thumb!!! Hehe!

When I go home, especially this time of year, I am instantly transported back to my childhood. The Camilla's are fading and the azaleas are in bloom, the dogwoods are beautiful and all the trees are so green.





I can remember sitting in my room as a child and listening to the wind in the tall pine trees and watching them sway. It was such a peaceful feeling and I know that is why I have always loved having trees around me.



As soon as those azaleas started to bloom, my brother and I would head out, usually in our pj's, to pick a beautiful bouquet for Mom! She could make even the worst cut flowers look like a professional arrangement!!



I can remember playing all kinds of imaginary games in that wonderful yard. We would climb trees, hide among the bushes and catch fireflies at night!




I have some wonderful memories from my Mom's yard and now - my kids are making their own wonderful memories in that yard.

Thanks Mom!