Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our 2014, Continued

Blow Two: Job

If you read my last post, you saw that we had some difficult times with our foster children that left us feeling rather sad and empty. To top if off, I started getting really stressed out at work. We were going through some reaccreditation process that created a great deal of stress and we changed the way our department was handled and I was just really stressed out every day. It was really bad.

At the same time, David hated to see me unhappy and thought that he might get a job now, especially since Hannah and Samuel are both going to school 5 days a week (more on that later). Well, when you leave the job force for 4 years, it's difficult to reenter it. He put in some applications and had some interviews, but his work experience "gap" really proved to be a problem. Plus, we live in a really rural area where there are only so many opportunities. So that was a little frustrating. We never fully considered the ramifications of him taking a few years off to raise his children!

Overall, my husband hated to see me stressed out at work and I hated to see him defeated when he put in job applications and no one wanted to hire him. That was hard!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2014 was absolutely awful!

I don't even know where to begin updating you guys on what's happened over the last 6 months. I would say this has been one of the most difficult 6 month periods of our lives (except for when Samuel was sick). I've been meaning to update, but I didn't really know what to say or how to start. I'm ready to start sharing again, though.

Let's start with foster care. Blow 1.

Last March, we welcomed a 17 year old into our home. He just felt like ours from the beginning. He had some issues, but we were sure we'd be able to help him through them. The boys LOVED him (and he loved the boys) and they played video games together and would swim throughout the summer...it was like they had a big brother.

Well, at the end of the summer, we realized his issues weren't getting any better. He was on an early elementary school level intellectually and he had some severe language issues. He got a job washing dishes but wasn't able to keep it. He had just a few months until the foster care system was going to call him "mature" and capable of living on his own when there was no way he could even read well enough to fill out a job application on his own! He couldn't read well enough to understand the driver's license book. It was just a disaster waiting to happen. We had to put up a giant fight, but we got him into a program that would help him work on independence to prepare for adulthood. We knew it was completely necessary, but it meant the boys lost their brother. Sure, we still visited him on the weekends and took him bowling and out to dinner, but it was very difficult on our family. We all grieved. So that was a major blow to our family, one that was very difficult to recover from. All of August was spent wondering if he'd be able to get the help he needs....it was just really hard.

(He has since left the center of his own choosing and went back to live with his family, which is his choice since he's 18 now; we are still in regular contact)

We also had a baby girl who stayed with us for about a month during this time who had an absolutely heartbreaking, tragic story. However, she had a happy ending and was able to be adopted into the family which had adopted her siblings! Still, those two experiences were just draining on our family so we had to take a break for awhile...after 10 kids in 11 months, we just needed some time to step away from it all!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Teach them Diligently

It's been a couple of years since we were able to attend a homeschool conference. We had the great pleasure of going to Teach them Diligently in Dallas last week and it was wonderful! Even though we're not technically "homeschooling" Timothy as he's a public school student and we send Samuel to a developmental preschool, we strongly believe that the best learning happens at home and parents are the best teachers.

When Timothy was younger, we went to sessions like "How to teach Latin" and "Teaching Advanced Mathematics from a Young Age." Now, our parenting philosophy has changed a bit. We want our children to learn all they can, but we want them to have character, love others, and intimately know God. This year, we went to sessions like, "Involving your Kids in your Family Mission" and "How to have a Home of Peace." We used to spend hundreds of dollars on educational materials. This year, we bought a Bible study for our teen & Timothy and a family devotional unit study (and 2 hair bows). We walked out spending less than $100. (I was proud)

Probably the most important thing we got out of the conference is the necessity to realize your child's strengths and weaknesses. Each individual child is SO different; there is no one-size-fits-all approach to education or parenting. We have 3 children and they're all so wonderfully different.

Timothy is empathetic. He feels for other people. He is SO kind to the children who come into our home for foster care. Sadly, he is also the most distressed when they leave. He is responsible for a 7 year old. He can completely clean the playroom, including putting all the toys away and vacuuming. He can put away laundry. He's diligent in all his tasks. He's an auditory learner, so if he hears it he can easily remember it. He loves audio books

Samuel is intense. He easily learns anything he's near; at 4 years old, he constantly amazes people with his vocabulary and his knowledge of the world around him. Samuel has a competitive spirit--he strives to win all things. Samuel has a fascination with all things transportation.

Hannah is creative. She loves to color and draw, so much so that we just let her have  chalk on the kitchen floor so she doesn't color with markers on the wall. Hannah was very gentle with the baby we had in our home. She's extremely verbal, loud, and a leader. She can't easily be talked out of what she wants to do. She's determined.

Other children will come and go from our home (right now we still have our 17 year old), but these are the 3 we'll have forever. (Adoption is a possibility in the future, of course) We're trying to figure out how to build up each one of them and encourage their individual interests and strengths.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nutritionist

Samuel went to the nutritionist today. During the last 2 years, Samuel hasn't gained any weight. He's been 32lbs for over 18 months now. He's also quite short for his age. Of course all of this is from his poor nutrition and he's had a very difficult time in life, but it's now necessary for us to figure out how to better meet his nutritional needs.

Disaccharides include lactose, fructose, sucrose, and maltose. Samuel has disaccharide malabsorption, which is different from an allergy. An allergy causes an immediate reaction. Malabsorption, on the other hand, does not get processed by your body and builds up in your system until it makes you sick. And, quite frankly, malabsorption is really hard!

Samuel has a problem with fructose, which is in most fruits and vegetables. We have to learn his tolerances. Maybe someone with disaccharide malabsorption can tolerate peaches once a week, but 3 times a week would make him sick. Maybe he can tolerate things just once a month. And we have to figure out how often he can have certain foods without getting sick. Doing that is very difficult.

In occupational therapy and his developmental preschool, they've really been working with Samuel to try new foods. However, we can't overdo it. In February, the occupational therapist was getting Samuel to eat applesauce and they were pushing it in preschool and we were trying to get him to eat it at home and he ended up hospitalized with dehydration for 2 nights. We don't want that. So we're trying to find the right balance.

We have to write down every bite of food Samuel takes for the next 2 weeks. I already know what that list will include: tortilla chips, fiber one brownies, peanut butter sandwiches, steak, chicken, chicken nuggets, peanuts, ham & ham gravy babyfood, eggs....too much protein, so that taxes his kidneys, and he doesn't drink enough water, so he easily gets dehydrated.

I'm really overwhelmed with how to manage Samuel's nutritional needs, but I'm excited that the nutritionist seems to think it's possible. We'll see what she says!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gone, Gone, Gone

Our baby went back home to his mother today! We've had him since he was 3 days old (he's nearly 5 months now) so we're all having a hard time with it. Sweet Timothy is having the most difficult time, though. He's cried and cried. He was always so loving and kind towards baby Smurf.

I'm not sure what happens next. There are some questions about what will happen with our teen (whom the kids also love). For now, we're just living in the moment with the children we have in our house right now.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Update

So, we're raising 5 children now.

Smurf, our foster baby, is 4 months old today. He's doing well--he's smiling and laughing now and so very fun. He should be going back to his mother in mid-June.

Hannah just turned 2 a week ago. She's fun!! She's so talkative and fun right now. She's still on a bottle and wearing diapers, so that's what we plan to work on over the summer.

Samuel is 4 years old. Food continues to be a major struggle for him. We just got back from a trip to Disneyworld where his food issues really showed themselves. At one point, the people next to us thought Samuel was having a seizure because he was writhing around throwing a fit because they gave him Timothy's spaghetti instead of his own chicken strip. Samuel continues to attend the developmental preschool, even through the summer.

Timothy will turn 8 this summer. He just finished first grade with Arkansas Virtual Academy. He's just recently tested out of speech therapy but continues with occupational and physical therapies.

Our teen is 17. He is a sophomore in high school. He loves sports and is very competitive. He should be staying with us another 2 years while he completes high school. Academically, he's reading and doing math on an early elementary grade level, so he has to come really far if he has a chance of being a functioning adult.

So we're running from soccer practice to homeschool co-op; we're changing diapers and we're having sex talks. It's crazy and overwhelming and busy, busy, busy!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Life

I've been too busy LIVING life lately that I haven't had any time to write about life.

We had a great Spring Break and did some traveling. It was fun. We spent the night at Great Wolf Lodge. I hope to share pictures eventually.

Then, when we came back from Great Wolf Lodge, we added a member to our family: a 17 year old boy. We're open to ages 0-3 so it was certainly unexpected that we took a teen. We get calls for teens all the time, but we've always said no. This was a weird circumstance so we found out a little bit about him and agreed for a trial visit. He's very polite and respectful but, as expected, has some emotional issues. He loves soccer, so the boys like that since they play soccer, too. It's exhausting having to get him to practice, to school, to friend's houses, to WalMart for the crap he needs for school tomorrow, to the church where his girlfriend goes.... It's always something. We're always driving someone somewhere.

We had to get him into school and change his PCP on his insurance and meet with the counselors at his school and schedule doctor, vision, dental visits. We had to go to court. We had to meet with his social worker (several times). Life is just...busy. In a good way, though.

And Baby Smurf is still with us and he has court next week.

Timothy had his state testing with his school on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and an appointment 3 hours away at the Children's Hospital on Thursday. These kids just keep up hopping!

Life is busy, but we're still here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Soccer

We started our second season of Soccer this weekend!

It's amazing how Samuel's changed in just one season. This weekend, he actually ran after the ball and tried to kick it! He seemed to ultimately be enjoying himself, too. His coach seems to really just be letting them have fun; she wasn't trying to teach them any fancy soccer skills. Really, I just want Samuel to have fun so I'm very pleased with that!

Timothy has moved up to the U11 team even though he's only 7. I was very concerned that my 1st grader is on a team with 4th graders. He's very tall for his age. Even so, he's the shortest kid on the team. To complicate matters, his team has no coach. A dad stepped in to coach on the weekends, but he drives a truck and can't do any practices. Another team's coach said the two teams could practice together. So, the coach for the games will never get to practice with the boys...that's too bad.

(They asked my husband to coach and he said NO. I work nights and there's no way he can coach practice while watching a newborn and an 18 month old).

There are good things about Timothy's team, though. They only have 2 extra players so the bench isn't a problem (there's only 1 other kid there with Timothy). They won their first game. The dad who is coaching the games doesn't really yell or scream; he just lets what happens happen.

Timothy played WAY less than all the other players and he's certainly the slowest kid out there. However, he didn't seem bothered by it at all. If he realized he spent more time on the bench than anyone else, he didn't let us know. He was just thrilled that his team won the game.

If the kids are happy, I'm happy too!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Timothy Reading


video
He's reading!! Tonight, he just read and read and read without complaint. He is finally really getting it! I am so proud. (He uses the TAG pen for words he doesn't know).

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