Saturday, December 24, 2011

Save the Date

We are renewing our vows!!
Friends and family, please save the date,
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 at 7 pm.
Formal invitation will follow.

Early Christmas Day

J. has to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I am not sure but it seems like it has been a long time since that has happened. We decided to celebrate early, on Friday, so that we wouldn't be rushed for time together.

The day was wonderful. We read the Christmas story together, opened gifts, shared a yummy breakfast of Overnight French Toast and sausage, played with our new toys, watched a movie, read books, and then later enjoyed a delicious ham with scalloped potatoes, veggies, rolls and sparkling cider. To finish the day, we sang "happy birthday" to Jesus and ate birthday cake.

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011


E. on Dec. 23, 2011.
I have been putting off blogging for a while, mainly because I felt like I did not have much worthy to write about. But my goal is to post every day. Hopefully you all will find my life blogworthy. If not, don't read it. At the very least it will do me some good.

Friday, December 9, 2011


So many new chapters going on our family right now. Where to begin?
  1. I am starting my own business and applied for a license (it came in the mail a few weeks ago). I named it White Rabbit Arts. I am still kind of developing a business plan, but here is where I am going with it currently: kids arts classes, crafts for young and old, fine art and mixed media, event planning and children's room decorating and organizing.
  2. I have been teaching a dance class for preschoolers called "Lil' Crocodiles. It is being held at this awesome older building in town and I am able to trade cleaning it for class use. I am starting out with one weekly 45 minute class for kids ages 2-6. It has been lots of fun!
  3. Bartering has been something both J and I have been really getting into. We have been going through the house, ridding rooms of clutter and unused items and gaining some nice, needed things. J and I have also traded some labor for delicious meals.
  4. My newest bartering agreement...providing childcare last minute to a single dad who is a personal trainer. He is going to be training me for two months for me helping him this month caring for his two sweet kids.
  5. We are waiting to hear some big news that may effect our family so be praying. Will write about it soon.
  6. E has been going to therapy here at a local place. She has been wonderful and we had a bit of a breakthrough with him!! It was emotional and awesome to see him express some sort of feeling toward his background and birthmom (we have no clue who she is) and turn to ME for comfort.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


My girls have been going to tutoring weekly for the last few weeks. We found Jennifer who runs Easing Learning. She has been great and my girls really like her! If you need a tutor in the Whatcom County area, I can't recommend Easing Learning enough.

just dance.

Since I was three years old I have been dancing. Taking lessons at a local dance studio for years and then enrolling in a school after moving across state. Dancing took me to Washington DC, performing in amazing locations there. I have competed, and even danced professionally with our troupe. After I got burned out the end of my sophomore year of high school, I signed up for the dance drill team at high school. There I lettered and helped choreograph and was part of the audition process. I kinda lost my dance shoes throughout time, getting wrapped up in family life, babies, volunteering and foster care. I helped occasionally with the church's musical productions, but other than that, my dance "career" was pretty stale.

I signed my girls up for classes, C. was asked to leave (long story). K. enjoyed it but funds were tight. I loved watching their recitals and my favorite part was watching the adult class perform, I always got chills. My desire was to be up onstage with them, performing. It had been one of my goals to get into a class when I am thinner.

Recently I joined a facebook bartering group. I have been connecting with local people (many moms) and trade goods or services for something I have to offer. Someone on the group had asked if anyone taught dance lessons. After some thought, I decided to speak up and figured I would give it a shot! I have helped teach classes, have choreographed, observed and been in enough dance classes to surely handle the preschool set!

I was able to locate through Craigslist a dance studio. Bartering cleaning services for studio time, I have my location all set. I offered a free demo class on Monday. It was a little rocky, but I had fun and most of the kids did too. I am overcoming a lot of fears and self consciousness by stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something like this!

I am going to be offering a class on Monday mornings and one on Sunday afternoons. If you want more information, like my page on facebook

Friday, November 18, 2011


On Oct 31st we said goodbye to M. after caring for her since the beginning of July. She was such a sweetheart, but we are all glad to see she was reunited with her parents. We wish her all the best!

these boots

I found an awesome pair of Tony Lama
cowgirl boots at a nearby boutique.
They are vintage and have been well loved.
And look so darn cute with a brown skirt!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My space

Our "homestead" came complete with a full sized recording studio building behind our house. While it doesn't have plumbing (which would be sooo nice), it provides extra usable square footage for our family. We have done a lot of work to the interior of the building. There are four rooms in there to use as bedrooms, rec room and storage. I have decided to move out the items in the storage room to make my own art studio. J has been very supportive and even hunted down a beautiful easel for me. Here are some of the photos as we are putting together the room!

More to come!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Apple farm

We had a fun Saturday at a local organic farm. We picked apples and a few pumpkins, enjoying the sunny day (they are getting fewer and further between).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

self care step one...

Today I went to get a mani/pedi at a little nail salon with friends. It felt lovely to have someone treat my feet and hands and polish my nails with some pretty fall colors!

Also, my mom loaned me the book "The Dirty Life" by Kristin Kimball. I really need to start reading more and am excited to start this book tonight!!

ten of my favorite things

1: Spending time with loved ones.
2: Passion.
3: Listening to rain hit our metal roof.
4: Holding babies.
5: Clean sheets on my bed.
6: Being creative and enjoying the, dance, writing, painting, design, theater, architecture, fashion...anything.
7: Giving. (including love, service, compassion and material things)
8: Traveling and experiencing different cultures.
9: Living simply.
10: Moving. (active and non-stagnant)

Friday, October 7, 2011

SELF-CARE: An Assessment

I recently took an online quiz. No, not the "What Disney Character Are You?" quiz. A more serious, eye opening one. It addressed self-care needs for people in helping roles. Me.
"Being in a helping role involves attending to the needs of others and you are often exposed to negativity and suffering."

I took the quiz and can you believe it? the results (more than 15 very true responses to the 40 questions) meant that it is definitely time to take a close and careful look at self-care issues.

As I stated in my last post, I have been working on self discovery and de-cluttering. In response to the question "how can we make this household less stressful?" my husband answered, "we need to get rid of some kids". Not possible but for one.

The bottom line is this. I need to take better care of myself. Both of us do as parents. The problem is I feel guilty and selfish when I do. Tonight I read this:
"Being self- referential has nothing to do with selfishness or narcissism.
It ironically increases your effectiveness in helping others."

And I found this brilliant quote as well...
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." -Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Six kids and five schools. My mornings consist of (with lots of help from J) feeding, bathing, dressing, packing lunches and sending kids on four different buses. It's crraaazzzy. But's been so nice and relaxing to have some time to myself in the mornings the last two days. I was really needing this!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


The last few months have been difficult, maybe the blog is evidence of that. Having a high needs child with a saddening story, dealing with J's difficult hours and stressful job, arguing kids home for the summer and other things have all piled up. I feel like I woke up one day and realized I don't know who I am anymore! I know I am a mom and a wife (and part of other relationships too). But my interests have waned. I don't take time for myself like I should. And I certainly haven't felt genuinely happy. I almost feel like I am going through a midlife crisis, although I am not really old enough to be at the "midlife" point yet.

So I am wading through some emotional things and trying to figure out my real interests, hobbies, what excites me and what I need to say no to. I am going to try new things and do some things I have wanted to do but been too scared to try. I am going to continue working on improving areas in my life that need improving, and de-cluttering and letting go of things that need to go.

it's a zoo

We had several appointments at the children's hospital for our foster daughter, back to back and over an hour drive one way. So we made it a fun trip and rented a hotel room (actually two), went out to eat and swam in the pool. The next day we went to the zoo and wore everyone out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Almost a man...

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
Douglas MacArthur

Monday, August 22, 2011


We have had dogs as pets for as long as I can remember. I grew up with several great dogs, and had a few in our marriage before kids. Robin the beagle joined our family about 10 years ago, and we added Jackson, the long haired chihuahua about seven years ago. On the 4th of July, we left both dogs in the chain link dog run outside. Unfortunately, Jackson must have dug out from underneath and escaped. After searching, putting up posters, calling and visiting the local humane societies, we still have not found poor Jackson. Then tragedy hit our family as J. was getting the kids ready to go the other morning. I was at a therapy session with E. and missed the whole thing. I met J. in the parking lot of work to trade cars. I asked how the morning went, and learned about what happened. Robin had ran out the front door left open by a child, and ran right into the road. He was hit and killed by a truck going past. J. was inside, getting our foster child ready to go. He heard yelling, tires squealing, and a loud thud, followed by yells for dad. He went running out, fearing that one of our children had been hit, but it was Robin. He sent everyone inside, all crying and upset, and dealt with the disposal and clean up. And then we all mourned. J. was able to come home early from work that night. We are still sad. We miss our dogs.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


J has been working a lot lately since starting a special work project and picking up extra overtime. Right now he is on a nine day stretch. It is difficult for me when he is at work, because I feel like it is such a chore to load kids up and go anywhere. But yesterday was Pioneer Days in our little nearby town, and when my friend Sarah asked if we wanted to hang out with them, I figured it was worth the effort. It took me an hour to pack up the kids' things, medical equipment and stuff, but we made it!

We had a big time too, walked to the parade and the kids filled up with candy galore. Then while we walked to the local grocery store to pick up lunch, someone told us about some free hotdogs, chips and pop. The kids grabbed lunch there, and ate while we walked. 12 kids and 2 ladies walking across town. They all did well, except S. who probably should have been in a stroller or on a leash. He is WILD.

We made it to the store and the kids all were paired up with a buddy. They were sent to pick out one snack to share that wasn't candy, and was under $5. It was interesting to see what they picked out. I got a yummy chicken caesar salad that I didn't share. We loaded back up to walk back to our friends' house, and stopped at the park along the river to let the kids cool off by the fountain. Then finally made it back, exhausted. We ate, swam, and played hard. The kids were so worn out when we got home. And I was sunburned. BAD. The kids were good about the sunscreen, but I forgot about mom. Ugh.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

new things

I am busy learning all about how to care for a special little girl who is considered medically fragile. M is seven years old and is about thirty pounds. She is tube fed, immobile, nonverbal and suffers from Rett Syndrome. She is the sweetest, happiest little girl too! We've been bombarded with medical equipment, nursing training, and learning all sorts of new things, but it has been a good adventure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Look at the tractor!!!!

S. wanted everyone to look at the tractor when at the Rodeo Days Parade last weekend. J. took four kids over to the eastern side of the state to visit family. I was sad I wasn't able to go, our van is having too many problems and we couldn't all fit in the car. But it was a good thing I was home so we could take in a new foster child.

Friday, July 15, 2011

wish we were there...

No summer vaca for us...just hanging around the house. But we have been enjoying each other and making memories. A few weeks ago we went to a fun party to celebrate foster care families. The theme was Hawaiian Luau, and we all had a great time, even came home with some fun prizes.

Last week a little girl was placed with us in a crazy whirlwind foster care system sort of way. She is the sweetest little girl, but requires total care. We are uncertain how long she will be in our home.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Change in plans

We have decided to try a local therapist before driving the long distance to see the other one. I was referred to this local woman by our pediatrician, who I love, and spoke to her on the phone last week. She is newer in the area so many don't know of her. J and I went in to see her yesterday and she was great. She has adopted before and seems to have a good understanding on attachment issues as well as how we were describing E. to her. We will meet with her again and bring E. Once she meets him she can get an idea of what type of therapy would be the best...theraplay or writing a life story are a few things she does for younger kids.

We will keep the other therapist in mind if this doesn't work out...but I really hope it does. This will be way more simple and inexpensive!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Mark, the therapist I wrote about called me yesterday morning and we spoke for a bit about E. He did not recommend getting a neuropsych evaluation. I was told it can be a waste of time and money and can be damaging for the child if taken to the wrong person. He recommended coming in for an evaluation and going from there. He can recommend some good people if E. really needs one. He said many times these kids "act" like they have a learning disability and manipulate many when they are perfectly capable of getting better.

Mark has a few opening this summer since families are on vacation, so we are able to come in to see him on July 11. One thing I LOVE is that he doesn't see the child alone. He wants to see the whole family, since E. is part of a family and his behaviors effect everyone.

I mentioned to Mark that for the longest time I didn't think my son had RAD or attachment issues. He didn't fit in some of the descriptions I have seen. He is not violent to others, doesn't typically tease or bully, and doesn't have full out rages (anymore). The response I got from him on the phone seemed right on..."that's not good". Mark said these kids are becoming the victim and are internalizing their anger. Then they become passive aggressive. He said we want E. to be able to identify and express what he is feeling, work through it and then hopefully he won't continue acting out as much to everyone else.

I also spoke of E. continually asking for food or water whenever we are in public or around new people. He does it in a way of is implying I am neglecting to care for him. Yesterday he asked for lunch when we dropped his sister at her friends house, as soon as I opened the van doors and he saw Mrs. J standing there. It was nearly 2 o clock and she said, "Oh, you haven't had lunch yet? I thought you ate already!". I told her that he didn't, we had a late breakfast and a snack through, then left to run a few errands. How sneaky of him to make it seem like I am the bad guy! Or the other day when we went to the beach for a few hours and invited a couple J. works with. He would NOT stop asking for water and getting into other's things sneaking drinks. He had three drinks of water in 30 minutes. He was NOT thirsty, but wanted to let it be known to everyone that he loves water and was really thirsty. Not normal behavior for a typical kid, everyone else was playing on the beach, kicking the soccer ball, or playing with the dogs. E. just hovered and annoyed. Mark gave me a good tip, instead of answering him over and over, just say, "It seems like you need some mommy time, come sit right here by me." Then he will soon hopefully learn that his behavior is negatively effecting him and not me. The problem though, is that most of the time when he is acting this way, he is already nearby and pestering. He doesn't want to be anywhere else.

I am excited about our appointment and ask you pray that we will be able to get insurance approval for 100% coverage. At this point it will cover 70%, not too affordable right now.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Checklist

Last night I slept horribly. I had dreams and nightmares about E. I felt like my brain would not shut off and all I could think about was how we need to start getting him help.

E. has his good days and bad days. I am fearful of summer with him out of school. He loves to hover around and annoy everyone present, rather than play like most five year olds. If we go anywhere or have anyone over, he spends the majority of time acting silly, cute, or just plain weird. There are occasions where he is sweet, happy and loving. But I sometimes wonder what is genuine and what is not. Last week in church he did great, was obedient, and even cuddled with me. But, guess what was at stake after church was over? Right, cake.

I spent part of last week doing some research about getting a neuropsychological evaluation for E. I was referred to a local woman who sounds lovely and I was so excited to call her. Unfortunately, she doesn't work with children younger than six. No one within an hour and a half drive from us does. I am wondering if we should wait until he is six. I have also heard rave reviews about a therapist a few hours away specializing in working with kids with attachment issues and trauma. I contacted him tonight by email to see how we can get help for E.

His group's website had a checklist on their site that caught my eye.

Circle the items if they are frequently or often true.
  1. My child acts cute or charms others to get others to do what my child wants.
  2. My child often does not make eye contact when adults want to make eye contract with my child.
  3. My child is overly friendly with strangers.
  4. My child pushes me away or becomes stiff when I try to hug, unless my child wants something from me.
  5. My child argues for long periods of time, often about ridiculous things.
  6. My child has a tremendous need to have control over everything, becoming very upset if things don't go my child's way.
  7. My child acts amazingly innocent, or pretends that things aren't that bad when caught doing something wrong.
  8. My child does very dangerous things, ignoring that my child may be hurt.
  9. My child deliberately breaks or ruins things.
  10. My child doesn't seem to feel age-appropriate guilt when my child does something wrong.
  11. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to other children.
  12. My child seems unable to stop from doing things on impulse.
  13. My child steals, or shows up with things that belong to others with unusual or suspicious reasons for how my child got these things.
  14. My child demands things, instead of asking for them.
  15. My child doesn't seem to learn from mistakes and misbehavior (no matter what the consequence, the child continues the behavior).
  16. My child tries to get sympathy from others by telling them that I abuse, don't feed, or don't provide the basic life necessities.
  17. My child "shakes off" pain when hurt, refusing to let anyone provide comfort.
  18. My child likes to sneak things without permission, even though my child could have had these things if my child had asked.
  19. My child lies, often about obvious or ridiculous things, or when it would have been easier to tell the truth.
  20. My child is very bossy with other children and adults.
  21. My child hoards or sneaks food, or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, raw flour, package mixes, baker's chocolate, etc.
  22. My child can't keep friends for more than a week.
  23. My child throws temper tantrums that last for hours.
  24. My child chatters non-stop, asks repeated questions about things that make no sense, mutters, or is hard to understand when talking.
  25. My child is accident-prone (gets hurt a lot), or complains a lot about every little ache and pain (needs constant band aids).
  26. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to animals.
  27. My child doesn't do as well in school as my child could with even a little more effort.
  28. My child has set fires, or is preoccupied with fire.
  29. My child prefers to watch violent cartoons and/or TV shows or horror movie (regardless of whether or not you allow your child to do this).
  30. My child was abused/neglected during the first year of life, or had several changes of primary caretaker during the first several years of life.
  31. My child was in an orphanage for more than the first year of life.
  32. My child was adopted after the age of eighteen months.

If you find that more than a few items (more than five or so) have been circled, your child may be experiencing difficulties that require professional assistance. If, in addition to several items being marked, any of the last three items is check, your child may be experiencing attachment related problems.

Sadly, I circled 22 items on this list.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

down by the bay

K. and I spent a day last week at the nearby state park with the homeschool coop group. We played beach bingo, and found some creatures, and said goodbye to the school year and some great friends.

Fat lip

S. had his second trip to the ER last night, nearly a year after his first one. He was playing outside, tripped and fell right on his face. His mouth instantly gushed blood and the older kids started screaming. I remained calm, but realized, S may need stitches. I called his pediatrician and they said he would need to be seen by a specialist since the cuts were on his lips.

My friend was able to watch three of the kids, and C was able to stay longer at her friend's house. I took S. to the hospital and thankfully it was a short visit. The overall experience seemed way more traumatic than last year. You could tell S. was fearful and in pain. Poor kid. I must say, the hospital where he got treated last year was a lot more child friendly and thorough. S. did not see a specialist, but a nurse practitioner who used super glue on his cut.

Today, his lip is twice as big as it was last night, and he has a fever. He had a slight fever already from a cold, but it was not quite as bad as today. So we called the doc again and he was seen this afternoon. They said it is going to look bad, and there is not a lot they can do. They did prescribe some better pain meds for poor S. He doesn't want to eat or drink much.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's the big deal about TV, Movies, Computers and Video Games?

by Nancy Thomas

It really is a big deal! These children often have damaged and delayed development of the brain, due to early trauma, such as abuse, separation from the mother, not having their needs meet, and being left to cry for long periods, day after day. It is essential that they have the pieces in place necessary to give the brain optimum opportunity to heal.

• Time spent on these activities prevents the brain from healing
• Interrupts the normal thinking patterns
• Time spent out of reality
• Subtracts from time child spends doing healing activities
• Reinforces twisted thinking and behavior
• Eliminates relationship building activities
• Conditions viewer to tolerate more violence and more sexual behavior
• Increases expenses
• Deteriorates self-esteem

The seven to ten second scene changes that most movies and TV programs have, disrupt normal thinking patterns. In some programs, such as the Pokemon movie for children, the changes are actually at four-second intervals. For the brain to heal, the child must spend time thinking, feeling, touching, building, creating, designing, etc. Being in a "ozone state" completely out of touch with reality, for one hour is one less hour that the brain is moving forward in its progress.

The programs and games, themselves, have highly destructive elements to moral character building. These children who know right from wrong often and intentionally choose wrong repeatedly. The theme of many TV shows and movies conditions viewers to tolerate higher levels of violence, sexual behavior and disrespect. Even the commercials often depict parents as ignorant and the child having to tell them what the proper kind of breakfast food should be.

Children with emotional problems that have trust issues with adults often see the adults as inept, powerless and clueless; reinforcing these concepts is counterproductive.

The fourteen hours a day that we are given to help each child, must not be squandered. I see each minute, as a priceless opportunity. To waste them on destructive activities is unconscionable. The brain requires eye contact with a loving caregiver. The aforementioned destructive activities eliminate this. The brain and nervous system in order to heal must have touch. Loving touch and interactive play activity are not a part of watching TV or movies. The "zoning out" in front of the tube eliminates movement, smiles, and normal relationship activities. Some parents feel the TV is an inexpensive babysitter or a distraction to "keep the kid busy" so the parent can work or rest. I believe the time a child spends sitting and staring at the screen is incredibly expensive in the long run. Costs need to be observed in several areas. The cost to the parents is in the form of more therapy needed. While the cost to the child is in the form of more of their childhood lost, whereas, the cost to society is yet another member with delays in work ethic, relationship skills and/or moral character.

When I begin the therapeutic parenting program with a child I plan on not having the child watch TV, movies, play computer or video games for one solid year. I prefer toys that increase creativity, problem solving, cause and effect thinking, tactile stimulation, and focus. My favorite is a bucket of Legos. They make big ones for little hands all the way up to motorized for teens. Incredible creations the children build can be used as a centerpiece on your table at meals. To build self-esteem, I also like to have the child hold their creation while I photograph them. The act of photographing the child’s project in itself says "what you did is important." The follow up of showing the photos to friends and relatives and putting them on your refrigerator further builds the child’s belief in their abilities and value. Action video and computer games are very helpful for a child planning a military career, the increase in the trigger finger speed can be helpful in a real life battle situation.

It’s been over twenty years since we eliminated television from our home life. I find our children reading more, talking more and interacting more. Why not unplug the tube and plug into your child’s life!

First warm-ish day of 2011

On a sunny Sunday when J was off work, we headed to a nearby park with these two turkeys,

no, these ones...
pet and fed some animals,
"drove" a tractor,
climbed trees,
and discovered wetland life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How do you know?

How can I tell if some of the behavior we experience with E. is related to trauma/attachment issues or simply a learning delay or disability? If it is defiance or normal childhood ignorance?

We are learning more and more about PTSD/RAD/trauma effected children recently. I have been meeting up with a wonderful group of ladies watching Nancy Thomas videos a few times a month. Great information! I have only seen two sessions but so far I am really impressed.

E. has been through so much in his short little life, and part of his early childhood is missing. No one knows what happened to him from birth to age 8 months. Who knows what trauma he experienced besides nearly starving to death? The fact that he went through the stress of malnourishment, being in an orphanage for years and then moving to a family he didn't know in a new country would be enough to effect him for sure...either emotionally or physically.

When the average person or even a close friend or family member (outside our immediate family) sees E., they see a happy, cute little boy who is eager to please. He rarely has behavior issues at preschool, does fine in the care of others, and loves to make others laugh.

At home, sometimes, there is another little boy. One that is sometimes defiant, that doesn't seem to know answers to questions, that can throw a huge tantrum and who rarely listens or follows directions. Up until the last year we thought this was due to a learning disability. We are starting to get a better idea that this might be something more.

Let me give you an idea:
Me: E, please go get ready for bed.
E.: OK.
E. comes out of his room with mismatched pajamas and a whiny look.
E.: Is it ok if I wear these pants with this?
Me: I know there are matching pants with that shirt, lets look.
I look through his drawer and quickly find the matching pair. No biggie.

Next day:
Me: Good morning E.
E.: Hi!
E. sneaks around the bathroom taking a really long time.
Me: What are you doing in there?
E. I am taking off my diaper.
Me: You didn't put a diaper on last night, because you don't need one anymore! When did you put a diaper on?
E. Hmm. I peed it.
I look at the diaper which is relatively dry, except on the outside, which feels slightly wet. Strange.

Me: Can you please get dressed? There are clothes folded on top of your dresser for you.
E.: Ok!
Me: Don't put on S's clothes though!
Hubby can't find S's clothes, which I also laid out on the dresser. He calls E. into the room. E. is wearing S's clothes.
Me: E., why are you wearing those? Take them off, and put on the other ones. Where are the other clothes for you?
E.: They are in the drawer.
E. had taken the clothes he was supposed to put on and put them in the drawer, under a few other items. Weird.

Another good example:
Me: E. why are are doing that?
E: S. is...
Me: How old is S.?
E.: Hmmm...
Me: S. is three. How old are you?
E.: Uhhh... I don't know how old I am.
Me: Well think about it a minute.
E.: Hmmm...eight.
Me: No, try again.
E. Uhh, seven.
This goes on and on while E. guesses several possible ages AVOIDING the number 5.
Me: (knowing he is lying and DOES know he is 5) I don't think you will be able to graduate preschool and go to kindergarten if you don't know your age. Are you sure you can't remember how old you are?
E.: I don't know.
Me: You need to sweep the floor in the kitchen until you can remember.
E.: I'm mad at you!
I let E. sweep for a minute and occasionally ask him if he can remember. Then, after a few minutes of sweeping, he suddenly can remember he is 5!

He has also done this when playing a color game, pretending he doesn't know the color and going around the entire color wheel trying to "guess".

Now some of you are going to say this is normal five year old behavior. I understand that many people do not understand how frustrating it is parenting these trauma effected children. Please know that this is a small picture of what I go through parenting this child everyday. And imagine that this is going on all day long. Then, when he goes to school, or grandma's, and to hear that he does not have any of the issues I describe while in their care...oh I hope you can imagine.

Why does he do this? Control. And that gets under my skin. I am trying my hardest not to let it. In the video (please bear with me as I have only watched it once and am not great at remembering details) I learned that kids effected by abuse, trauma, etc. use the back portion of their brain the most. This is the fight or flight portion. E. is here a lot, it is home to him, and he does what it takes to get reactions from us (mainly me) so he can stimulate this area. Our goal is to get him to use more of his frontal lobe, the cause/effect part of his brain. The part that helps with attachment, good decision making skills, etc. We want him to use and strengthen THIS part. So when he does something looking for a reaction, and we get angry and frustrated, he can see this and feel somewhat content and satisfied. When we react in another way, throw him off a bit, it will get him to start using the frontal lobe more. This is what I am excited about learning more about!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I have had a very hard time these last few years. The stress of adoptions, attachment difficulties, raising five kids, homeschooling some, my husband's job and life in general is taking a toll on my body.

I went to the dentist last week and have three teeth that are needing repairs due to clenching and grinding in my sleep. Two cavities have cracked, one tooth is worn down. My crown also needs to be redone, not sure if it is related or not.

I also have had some problems with my arms, they have been numb and tingly for about a week. I had this happen last year, right before I went to Uganda. I thought it was stress and caused from me on the computer often. This time it is in both arms and more severe. I haven't been on the computer often at all. The doctor doesn't think it is carpal tunnel, but maybe a pinched nerve. She said to wait and see if it goes away. Well, since this is effecting my nerves and circulation, I didn't really want to sit idle. So I went to the chiropractor yesterday (first time I have ever been). She was very nice and really seemed to get me. She suggested taking fish oil and vitamin B6. I went for an x ray and will see her again on Monday morning.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Solar Oven

My daughter C. is working on a science fair project. She decided to build a solar oven and see how effective it is when baking brownies. I am quite interested in the outcome. She is using this design, which really got me excited to see how this inventor is trying to improve lives in Africa.

She is painting the inner box right now and soon we will start checking the internal temperature. Can't wait to see if it works!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I am going

to the ETAMM. I can't wait, you have no idea.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Dust has settled a bit from our difficult week, but things are still tense.

L. is at a counseling session right now with his dad. I was planning on going but was not able to due to childcare issues/preschoolers getting on and off buses. I wonder if he might be able to open up more with me not there anyway. He did NOT want to go. It's a pastor from our church who is a school counselor and youth leader, so I am sure L. is embarrassed and worried about what might happen.

We had a fun day yesterday with friends at the bay. We packed hot dogs, salads and smore stuff and built a fire near the water. The kids had a great time playing and the weather was mild and perfect in my opinion.

We haven't had any more foster care placements, which I think is perfect for now. We had a lot going on and I can't imagine going through that while caring for another child. I am still learning the ins and outs of how things work. I haven't received an invoice for payment yet, and I think today is the last day to turn it in. I hope I can get things figured out soon.

We are needing to plan our summer. There are a lot of possibilities for activities for the kids. But I need to come to some decisions about what to do!

Public school is in the works for ALL my kids in the fall. I am a little sad, but I think it is the best thing at this point. L. will be a high schooler, C. a jr. higher, K. a 2nd or 3rd grader (not sure yet on placement), E. a kindergartener, S. a preschooler. Wow. If there is an event in our school district, you can bet we will be there!

Friday, May 27, 2011

How quickly

How quickly time has passed...
from the moment I first held my first born son in my arms in the recovery room after an emergency c-section delivery, to hugging a 14 year old son now taller than me!

We've quickly gone from a Batman fanatic to a moody, teenage young man.

And after a quiet dinner of mac n cheese eating outside with his siblings on a sunny day, he had gone without any indication, no one really even noticed he left until late in the evening, we all thought he was hanging out in his room.

How quickly my mind jumped to the worst possible thoughts of things that could have happened to my baby boy.

How quickly our community banded together to help. Pictures were posted on facebook, police officers and sheriff deputies were searching, friends came to sit with me and take little kids for a bit. Many offered to pray and give emotional support.

How quickly, yet how SLOWLY 17 hours passed while he was missing. A note was found that he had run away, and my worst fears where being shared with my level headed husband. How quickly I broke down when he unplugged our computer to take into the police station to have it analyzed.

How quickly I was RELIEVED yet so ANGRY when my son was found by a friend and brought home. Praise God he was unharmed, and came back safe to us. Things might never be completely the same again for our family. We are working on some things, but I must say, his reasons for leaving seemed so small in our adult minds, sister issues and things like that. He had spent the entire night outside, alone.

Please pray for us and him.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Foster kids

We got our license approved for foster care on Wednesday. During the phone call to let us know we were approved, we were also asked if we wanted to take our first placement, or two. They had two girls who needed a place temporarily. While we were only approved for one child due to WA state law of no more than six children in the home, the licensor was able to approve a waiver for us to take these two girls in. They were ages six and less than one. Super cute and pretty sweet. K. had a great time sharing her room and things with her new friend. The next day the social worker called to tell us they would be leaving. K. cried and cried. But, to our surprise, four hours later they called again and said the home they thought the girls would go to didn't work out and wondered if they could come back. We said, "of course!" and K. was overjoyed. They stayed for three nights and four days. By the end of the forth day I could tell the K. was getting a little tired of her guest. It was great timing for them to go back to their family. We are glad it worked out for a reunion. The older girl was really missing her mama. Two new kids was very wearing on me, so I am not sure if it will be something I would do on a regular basis.

Monday, May 16, 2011

let go

Six months ago we were faced with some very difficult problems after struggling to bring Mercy home from Uganda.
  1. We tried for months to get a court date.
  2. We got a court date and were refused to be seen by the judge, and any other judge in the capital, where they have a family court division.
  3. We could not get a court date in the smaller town where Mercy was from, after trying for weeks.
  4. I needed to be home with my family after a total of nine weeks being gone. My mother in law who was staying with the kids needed to return home across the state to her husband and her job. She was not able to come stay with them again later.
  5. Mercy's caregiver who needed to be present in court and the visa appointment was going out of the country for a month and the holidays meant courts were closed.
  6. Families who had filed for full adoption where having a difficult time, and the legal guardianship process was now moving smoothly. We filed for full adoption based on her medical needs.
  7. We had no more money for traveling back and forth.
  8. We were noticing some BIG behavior/attachment issues. More than we first realized. Stuff that we were unsure we could handle.
So while I sat alone in my room in Uganda counting down the days for my return flight home, I felt like a veil had been lifted from my eyes. I realized, maybe God is saying NO.

I came home from Uganda, alone without the little girl we had hoped for. Our family was able to rest and pray and make a very hard decision. I had many debates going through my head, the biggest one was how do we know what was God's will or our will? Was it really God's will for us to adopt Mercy, or was it our own? I had reached out to other adoptive friends to ask for prayer and advice. A few had arguments that it could never be God's will for Mercy to remain in Uganda and not get the help she needed. They said we should fight harder, that we would always regret the decision should we chose to give up. We would be letting satan win.

Surprisingly though, many people were supportive of us if we decided to let go. Some were friends who were professionals in the adoption field, and others were parents who have struggled with children suffering from RAD and other problems. We asked our pastors, church friends and others to pray for wisdom for us. We spent nearly a month in prayer and finally had to let people know what we felt God was telling us to do.

The toughest part of breaking the news was telling Mercy's caregiver. I typed the email and sent it, knowing it would break many hearts. So much time and effort was put into getting paperwork ready. Sharing the news with friends was difficult too. So many people had walked along side us on the journey, praying, helping financially and at home while I was away. I felt like I was a quitter, giving in.

A good friend sent me a note saying "Guilt is not from God." It made me feel so much better. And the many months of healing began. The guilty feelings melted away and things began to feel right again. I felt as if a weight had been lifted that had been there for over 12 months. I can remember the day I first felt that weight: the day they said "yes, you can adopt Mercy". It was exciting and scary. I wasn't sure how we would afford the expenses and travel, or how we would be able to leave the kids for at least a month. After reading the email with the news, I went to take my morning shower and cried out to the Lord, in fear, apprehension and anxiousness. I asked Him if he was really sure this is what we were supposed to do. I don't recall ever getting a confirmation from Him. And I think this is where we failed.

We moved on, pushed forward and went ahead. Mercy needed help and we were here wanting to provide it. We were excited to add to our family and we blindly went through the process. I felt like J's quick agreement to move forward with another adoption was a sure sign this was meant to be, since he was usually slower to agree to big things like this. But through the long wait process and the lengthy time in Uganda, I don't recall ever feeling like God had promised Mercy to us. I was uneasy the entire time. I wasn't sure if it was the right time to add to our family. I was not sure about the needs Mercy would have. But I felt like since things lined up just right for us to travel, funds were raised and donated, and we were so emotionally invested, we were surely doing the right thing.

So, after the decision was made, the email was sent to Uganda to Mercy's caregiver at the orphanage and to our attorney, after we cried and talked and prayed, after we broke news to friends, family and church, after explaining many times to our children why Mercy would not be coming home, and after so much time has gone by I still dream of Mercy and Uganda. I had a wonderful time getting to know some wonderful kids. I experienced a beautiful country and met some awesome friends. My husband and I had several weeks to spend together. I had a lot of time to study the bible and pray. God had a purpose for me going there, He refined me.

Thankfully, I no longer feel guilty. I no longer feel heartbroken. I feel peace. I feel God's plan was different than ours, that His plan is better than ours. I am excited to see what He has for us.

But I still. miss. Mercy. I don't think I ever felt like she was ours. She is God's, and I feel like she is right where He wants her to be.

If you want to read about the process and trips, click on Africa in the labels section of the sidebar.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The BIG day

My idea of what this special day would be like was different that how it really turned out. I was hoping for sun and lots of friends, a big party to celebrate S. Our family friends did not come out, and the forecast was cold with 80% chance of rain. But I tried my hardest not to let that damper my joy. I felt like it was a wonderful day to honor a brave little guy.

My brother in law took time off work and drove three hours to come help, along with my mom. We had C. stay home from school. God is so good, because at the last minute, more P.D. family decided to come help! A few other officers came out on their day off with their families. We had many hands to help put together the play set. It took longer than we expected, about four hours.

Uncle Nick shows C. how to work the power tools.

K. at the entrance to her fort.

E. loved hanging out by the snack/drink table!

I spy...

S. and E. liked working with the tools a friend brought to share.

It started to pour rain, so my mom and I took the little kids inside and hung out while they played. We had pizza and pop, donated by a local pizza place. There was a cake too, but by the time everyone was finished, they were cold, wet and ready to get going so we had to eat it all! Make A Wish had a few surprises too. A new bike and helmet for S. (with a name plate), balloons, and tickets for our family to the nearby zoo.

We were all so tired and ready to get to bed early. The next day we had nicer weather and the kids were able to spend a long time trying out all the fun features and played HARD.

THANK YOU so much to all who were involved
in making S's wish come true.
He will enjoy this for many years. We feel so blessed!