Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Impulse Control And Consequences....

Robin asked me this question after I posted on our recent bathroom focused impulse control issues:

 "If you know it is an impulse control problem, how do you handle the incident? I totaly understand and agree with moving the items for prevention, but do you do any consequences for, say squeezing out all the toothpaste? "

I'm starting to giggle here just thinking through answers to this one.....consequences?  Sure.....

Like Screaming at them to stop feeding it to the baby? (It's poisonous!)
or
Repeating over and over again to the son with autistic patterns as I move him away from the toothpaste and toward the toilet...Yes you are in trouble and STOP don't pee on my feet!!!
or
Making all involved parties stand in the bathtub with their hands against the wall (vs all over each other) while I get enough toothpaste (mixed with bath salts) off the floor to allow them to leave without making trails?
or
Plopping their little bottoms on the counter and stomping back and forth in front of them lecturing on the appropriate use of toothpaste? (their eyes glazed over the whole time and nothing sinking in...but it sure makes me feel better)
or
Sending them all to their rooms so that I can take a hot bath in my 'minty fresh' bathroom before I start cleaning it up?

Yep, we have consequences for impulse driven behaviors...but they look and feel way different from those we enforce for our neurotypical kids.  It just isn't fair to punish them the same for something they work so hard to master and fail at so often.

Monday, November 29, 2010

People First Lauguage And The Value Of Words........

Julie, my girlfriend and fellow member of the Moms-to-11 group wrote a great post this morning on People First Language and the Importance of our words.   That probably isn't the summary she would give it - but half way through my first cup that is how it hits my sleep deprived brain. 

This is the piece that I want to shout clearly to everyone out there.  Don't be silent rather than talking to us about our kids because of fear and don't trick yourself into believing that using the 'right words' will hide the intentions of your heart.  Or as Julie wrote.......

" .............Now, I want to clarify that I do not take offense to someone who uses a different order of words to describe my children...it is above all, about the intention. It is clear that no matter how something is said, what is spoken from the heart must be heard. All the right words can be spoken, but it can be abundantly clear that the individual speaking them doesn't really have intentions that will build up and not tear down our brothers and sisters in Christ. . In contrast, words that may be outdated, verging on offensive, can be spoken from the most sincerest of people...ones who see the infinite value in the lives of our children..disabled or not. And, I cherish those words that are spoken out of love. I would be saddened to hear that someone was afraid to say anything because they were afraid that they would say the wrong thing." read the rest here. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Clearing Up One Misconception About FASD......

All babies/toddlers/preschoolers with pre-birth damage due to alcohol exposure do not behave the same.  Within our own brood we have examples of both extremes.  From the ADHD, zero impulse control, raging toddlers to the silent, semi-limp, watchful ones who never speak or move unnecessarily - they are each very unique which leads to so many of the problems with finding an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosis is doubly hard because there is no simple test for FASD. Except in extreme cases, here is no way to 'check' and see how much a particular child has been damaged by alcohol before problems manifest themselves  (don't believe any social worker who tells you otherwise - there is no way to really tell how much damage has been done with our current level of medical understanding)  and there is no 'cure' to reverse the damage that was done before birth.  As parents we really are faced with a 'wait and see' sort of medical diagnosis and often the real problems don't surface until a child is 5 or 6 years old because abnormal behavior and learning delays become a large part of the diagnosis.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Taking Advent Out Of The Box..........

Officially Advent begins this week with the countdown and eager anticipation of  Christmas.  As a family we work hard to make the entire season not about presents and parties but about the amazing promise of Christ and the overwhelming reality that his death on the cross was the ultimate, necessary sacrifice for our sins.

After a puzzling day looking for our Noel Calender   I found it tonight in a unmarked  bin in the garage and was happy that only two pieces were missing.  Not bad for a move where all sorts of strange things have yet to surface, not bad at all to find 90% of it in one box three days before I actually needed it.

Though our families countdown begins next week we have been partnering and encouraging another adoptive family using the concept of Advent - a little out of the usual box - since early October.   This fall their family hit one of those overwhelming and exhausting seasons where nothing seems easy and even simple things seem wrong.

Through a forwarded email I learned about their situation and teamed up with two other women in our adoption support group to put together an 'Advent' basket to help their family plan a positive moment in every day.  We have kept those baskets filled so far and I hope that when we meet on December 9th we will be able to carry them through the true Advent season and to Christmas.  They needed hope, and joy.  They longed for something, anything that wasn't grinding, gut wrenching hard work, and with each tiny gift they unwrapped I pray that their family was pointed again and again to the Giver of all good things and the promise that Advent brings with it.

Who Gets the Last Piece of Pie?

In our house the last piece of thanksgiving pie goes to the baby. This year Laughter got the prize (COSTCO pumpkin)  for breakfast - ten others looked over their bowls of cereal with deepest longing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

With An Eye To The Future.........

Intentionally cooking with my kids this week has given me the opportunity to observe and compare their individual efforts and reinforced the realization that I really am parenting kids with disabilities.  I know that sounds stupid, but it's so easy to forget that they really do have a variety of true physical, neurological and psychological challenges when most of what we see on a daily basis is simply behavioral.

Taking time (lots.... of time) today to teach an older child how to put a rubber band on the mouth of a bag of rice so that it wouldn't spill was super revealing.  The stretch and twist motion made zero sense to him and his body over reacted to the challenge.  Good news was that he didn't fall apart emotionally but he was obviously affected as the next thing he did was put his finger down on a burner and burn himself.  It was more than sad as I realized the trauma that simple things cause him and how far outside the norm he is moving as he grows up.

Today other bloggers are reflecting on the limited number of years before their children leave home and are gone to college and launched into successful lives of their own - I am thinking about the reality that many of mine will leave home under very different circumstances.  Their lives are likely not to include fancy graduation parties and acceptances to colleges.  More likely motivations will be the law, addictions, altercations and treatment centers.  It's probably going to be about group homes or subsidized apartments, outside supports and regular monitoring.  Calls home will be about crisis intervention and advocacy, not cheerful chats about deans lists and promotions at work.  Which all sounds a little dismal when put out on paper that way.  A little negative.  A lot pessimistic.   Which I suppose to those who's lives don't include these realities it is, because in our culture these are all indications of failure. 

But because this is my life I see it a little differently.  All of those hard things are not failure to me - they are the logical side effects of pre-natal exposure, secondary disabilities caused by FASD and complications mixed in through LD's, personality and 'other' diagnosis.  Though we hope not to encounter them - the truth is that I expect to visit at least a few in our parenting career.  It's just part of the package.  It's the road we are on, and being a realist I would rather be prepared than blindsided when our kids paths start diverging from those of their peers. 

I wonder how the cops are going to respond the first time I need to deal with my children's deviancy on that higher level and I burst out laughing hysterically.  I hope that they will be able to understand what I mean when I say 'I've been waiting YEARS for this particular moment.'  and share a chuckle with me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Prep........

This year our family has developed a passion for cooking science (especially Good Eats)  and really enjoyed the competition aspects of Food Network.  In  that spirit the oldest six kids chose a recipe that they specifically wanted to prepare for our family Thanksgiving dinner and I committed to specialty shop their lists at Safeway.  It was the first time I ever bought alcohol for a minor.... Steam needed bourbon for his recipe and I resisted all the bad jokes in my head as I stood in line at the liquor store.

This afternoon we started in on the projects with the basics for a fancy (stuffing) dressing,  a complex pecan tart and fun cranberry relish dip.  Wind was in her element cleaning and sorting things behind the older kids...wow has her new medication changed her ability to work as a team - with a smile on her face the whole time!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 'Right' Way To Parent Kids With FASD....

Isn't that a catchy post title?  I'm sure that all my friends who have experience parenting kids with prebirth exposure issues are laughing their heads off right now because they know where this is headed....and those who haven't quite hit the parenting wall with their FASD kiddos or who don't actually have any affected kids are waiting for the magic answer.  Well here it is.

I think that the right way to parent kids with FASD is......

By the seat of my pants,
with all tenacity to a single thought
 'I don't care what you do...we are in this together.'
Burn my house down,
steal my car,
scream,
cry,
wherever you live,
whatever you do,
I am beside you.
knife drawn,
back to the wall,
you are not alone.

I will parent you..
within the safety of a community who cares,
with my teeth sunk deep into
the doctors,
and teachers,
and police officers,
and friends....
who know you.

At the end of my rope,
Because that is often where I live,
And on my face
Before a living God
Who knows what it means
to live
and love
and walk through your painfilled life.

Understanding that there is no
'right' way
no magic cure
no trick
to parenting kids with FASD.

It's about being there
and being real
and holding tight
and leaning a new flexibility
that no one ever taught us.
And most of the world
will never need to understand.

It's about survival
and hope.
It's about treasuring you exactly where you are
and finding ways to help you absorb that truth.
Deep into your hearts
so on the hard days
you wont believe the lies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Looking Back...

My friend Barb wrote a very clear post about looking back on her daughter A's babyhood and the indicators which were (undiagnosed) but definitely there for her approaching FASD challenges.  She reiterated that we must do a better job of educating adoptive  (and I will add - biological parents) about the harm that pre-birth alcohol can cause so that we can better prepare for our children's, and our own futures. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crash And Burn Email......

I'm too bored of this dilemma to expand on it here but my entire email database is no longer 'easy to access.'  If I promised anyone anything involving email that I haven't followed through on yet this is the time to send me a reminder.  I'm looking at this as sort of like an enforced in-box and address book purge - I'm starting today i have a totally clean slate.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No Clutter in My Bathroom Cabinets......

The last 7 days have unfolded as a downward spiral of impulse control for several of our kids and the bathroom has been their main target area.  Last night it can to a head (and another drawer clearing session) when the three little girls appeared at my side with severely bleeding lips one after another.
and no good explanation.  It all became clear when Wind (5) said "I don't like shaving."  I didn't need an interpreter to figure that one out - they had found daddy's razor and tried it out on their own faces. (Thankfully no serious damage done but an impressive amount of blood.)
Before the razor incident I had been systematically removing (or having destroyed by busy hands) everything else under the sinks and in the drawers that was dangerous or useful.  The Epsom salts were poured out on the floor twice, lipsticks eaten, feminine hygiene relocated, gallons of shampoo and body wash overstock poured down the drain and I have no idea how many tubes of toothpaste were squoze out for fun before I started hiding it again.  Now my cabinets look like we have just moved in.  A stray hairdryer, teens face wash and a few (not too many - that excites the toilet plugging urges) rolls of toilet paper are all that fill these huge expanses of storage space.  
Problem diverted  (because it can not really be solved- we just try to stay one step ahead) for today and now I have to stay on top of my game to catch where the impulse control behaviors are going to break out next.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Follow-up: FASD And The Military....

So far I have not called the local recruiter to verify the drift of what I think is going on with FASD and the military - but through the comments that parents to older kids with FASD have made and my own further research it seems that good treatment and care of our kids as juveniles is very likely to eliminate them from potential military service.  My basis for this is a fitness standard of being medication free (ADHD/depression/etc..) for at least a year prior to being accepted into the armed services and being able to prove that you are functioning fine in a work or school environment without that medication.  Which is terrifying to me as the mom to kids who are helped by these medications - to even begin thinking about them stopping at 18 just so that they can get into the military seems like jumping off a cliff, a very dangerous one.

It's a fascinating question and one that our kids will be the first to really face.  I think that due to the super low rates of FASD diagnosis in the past (only the most extreme were diagnosed) it wasn't even a discussion on the recruiting table - they were just 'not college material,' and the military was a logical place for people with undiagnosed FASD to go.  But today, with our raised awareness and the increasing ability to use safe medications in helping with the academic as well as the behavior issues our kids face, it looks like we will need to find another good place for our kids to land.

Of course.....because adults with FASD usually still have the behavioral and mental challenges that they demonstrated as children, the military might not be the best place for them - even if they get in.  I wonder how many of the dishonorable discharges, demotions and problems within our military courts are caused by individuals who simply have undiagnosed hidden disabilities that are not being considered in their adult lives?

Homeschool Gardening and Landscape Design......

Because of the extended Fall weather here in Colorado the kids and I took advantage and invested the past 10 days in transforming our front yard from visually very dry and flat to a much more inviting picture.  Four trips to the nursery, five to Lowes and another load of mulch later we are all thrilled with the results.
Where there was an overgrown bush and an endless slope to the road there are muti-height grasses and changed elevations next to the driveway.

Trees added to the entry, that vine wrenched from behind the post and now being trained to climb the front instead.  A curving front garden area vs a rigid parallel one and more grass in the stump covering barrel and a flock of mixed grass bunches leading up to the front door.



The overall effect is cooler and at the same time warmer.  Adding mulch where there was once only an expanse of sand colored rock and lighting to add new dimensions as evening falls.  I love the changes and for a minimum investment of time and money we have created a very pleasing space out of blankness.  Best yet, we spent hours outside thinking through what could be done and then making it happen.  A great experience for our homeschool teens - watching a plan come into action as a project and then working it through to completion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Project Lighthouse: The Pine Ridge Reservation......

For 15 years we lived in Minnesota and I never really realized that in the South West corner of South Dakota was the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Last Sunday we were introduced to Pine Ridge and  Project Lighthouse  by the Bearsheart family at a presentation held at our local Colorado library.  Before that I had no idea what living on Pine Ridge really meant, but the kids and I have been reading and talking about it all week and are now very reflective. 

Here are a few of the things that have struck us particularly:
1. The reservation is big - at 3468 square miles it is the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined and is the 8th largest reservation in the US.
2. The predominant land comprising the reservation lies within Shannon County and Jackson County, two of the poorest counties in the U.S.
3. The population is estimated at about 28,000.
4. There is an unemployment rate of 80-85%.
5. The population on Pine Ridge has among the shortest life expectancies of any group in the Western Hemisphere: approximately 47 years for males and 52 years for females.
6. The infant mortality rate is five times the United States national average.
7. Within the hardship of Pine Ridge there is beauty and hope.  I watched this slide show with the kids and it spoke to their hearts.

The Project Lighthouse Christmas Powwow is here in Colorado Springs on December 10th and we are hoping to be there - not only to learn more about the Native American heritage of our daughters (two are part Cherokee - we needed to have tribal permission to adopt them) but also to see if there is a way we can help Project Lighthouse bring light into the Pine Ridge Reservation.  I know that we can help bring Christmas gifts or cash to pay for wrapping paper for the kids on the reservation....but I hope that there are some other ways we can be involved also.

Thank you Bearsheart family for investing your Sunday with our family and others at the library - may you be richly blessed and may He be pleased with your tender hearts for the people of Pine Ridge.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Must Be Something Wrong in That Home......

My friend Kari wrote a great post this morning about the reality of Parent Blame as the world looks at our wounded children's behaviors and misbehavior's.  The ironic thing about this is that Dearest and I had just hung up from a very similar conversation moments before I pulled up the Internet and settled in for another round of nap-time policing.

Our conversation centered around the fact that we are still virtual strangers here in Colorado Springs.  People meeting our family since we moved usually see nothing out of the ordinary (except the fact that there are 11 kids) and unless I say something don't ascribe strange behaviors to anything other than the stress of moving or the need for our kids to settle into their new life here.  This goes for the medical community as well as the general population.  I have been told by doctors that my kids with FASD 'sure don't look like it to us.' that those with autistic tendencies and behaviors 'fall within normal patterns for their age,' and that even basic medical facts like obesity and BMI don't apply to the child who struggles with maintaining a healthy weight.  It's been crazy to move into a community where we are unknown and VERY educational to me - clearly demonstrating the need for family's with challenging kids to be known and understood. 

Which of course took my mind back to Minnesota where I had always appreciated that we had the same pediatric clinic for 14 years, but I never realized that the fact that they had lived through so much of the pre-diagnosis and diagnosis seasons with us meant that our back was covered by our shared history.  It wasn't always perfect, we often didn't agree, but I knew that if DSHS came knocking on our door because one of our kids was claiming abuse there would be an entire clinical staff that could help explain every scar on every child's body. (this is relevant because two of our African American children permanently scar and bruise terribly from simple things like insect bites....which by the way look like cigarette burns if you are looking for such things.)  Simply having a doctor who said "Hey! he's made it another year without killing himself...GREAT job!" when I took  one of our kids in who habitually ingested poisonous things is important - it's really important - in the whole picture of who we are and what happens in our home.

Which get's down to what?  And ties into Kari's post how? Well...Kari perfectly points out that we are often blamed for our children's behaviors - even if we are not responsible for them - and that blame can so easily lead into being ourselves accused of causing the behaviors through abuse.  Or as the title states...."There must be something wrong in that home."   To which I say 'yes there is - FASD, Autism, ODD, LD, SPD, human sin,  you name it!  But those issues are not something we created, but realities we have embraced by receiving the blessing of hurting children into our lives and by living here ourselves."

FASD and The Military?

Last night was one of those 'disrupted sleep' patterns where one child or another seemed to be waking me every half hour or so.  It's not uncommon for our kiddos with FASD and Autism to have nights like this, and they seem to trigger each other so it creates a domino affect of one after another calling out and needing adult assistance. After 10 years of parenting our crew it hardly disturbs me anymore - I know to brew the coffee a little darker and start the day a little slower and we will all make it through.

At 3:00am I was laying there waiting for the next one to cry out and started thinking about their future.  It's something I often do in the early hours of the morning when I really realize that my kids will most likely always need supports around them to function well - from their earliest days many of the 'normal' things like sleeping through the night just haven't happened and we have needed to become creative to manage what it simply expected of other children.  Last nights thinking revolved around employment.  Several of my boys would seem to be a good fit for the military.  They crave order, structure, dependability and predictablitlity - they probably wont ever be officer material but would be good soldiers.  It seemed a simple answer because their basic housing,medical and employment needs would all be met in one simple place - the US military.   Except my next thought was 'what about the mental health criteria for enrollment?'  Because we have become so much better at identifying FASD, Autism and secondary mental health issues related to both over the past 10 years - are my kids even eligible to join the military?  In the past (or lacking a good diagnosis today) they would have been called troublesome, lacking motivation, not college bound and needing some good discipline.  All things that wouldn't have excluded them from service and would have caused high school guidance counselors to point them toward the military. But now that their challenges have a name - what does it mean?

I did a quick Google search after sunrise this am and found that it isn't a simple question.  Before I call the recruiting office and mess with them, does anyone out there have experience with the mental health side of enlisting?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Five Way Chili......

Cincinnati Chili - Wednesday night we decided to follow that crazy tradition and try our own hand at this variation on traditional chili.  The plate above is a '5 way' - spaghetti noodles, chili beans, chili (no beans in it), onions, and a mass of shredded cheese on top.  It was a  great hit and a everyone got to order  their own number at the table based on the number of ingredients 1,2,3,4 or 5 way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Seven Myths About FAS......

I was reading through Ann Streissguth's book "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: A Guide for Families and Communities" today and ran across her 7 common misconception about FAS/FAE (p120)  Because I keep running into these same myths in my own world, I thought I would abbreviate them here. (Note: she uses FAS/FAE as her identifying term from 1997 - FASD is the umbrella that both would fall under in general discussion now.)  The comments in italics are my own - just to give an affirmation to what she has written.

Myth 1. People with FAS/FAE always have mental retardation.  Nope - my own kids attest to this.  You can have a normal (or even high) IQ and still be seriously affected by pre-natal alcohol.

Myth 2.  The problem behaviors associated with FAS/FAE are the result of poor parenting or a bad environment.  Wrong again.  But how we parents to kiddos with FASD wish it were as simple as our bad parenting!  Our parenting we can change, brain damage we can't. 

Myth 3:   Admitting that children with FAS/FAE have brain damage means that society has given up on them.  Noooooo...admitting it means that their behaviors and problems are not just because they are 'not trying' or 'willfully defiant.'   Admitting it is an answer to the unanswerable question of 'WHY?'

Myth 4:   Children eventually will outgrow FAS/FAE.  Oh how we wish... the hardest part for me is realizing that these agonizing toddler years are actually the EASIEST ones of their lives.

Myth 5: Diagnosing Children with FAS/FAE will thwart their development.  No - their development is already in jeopardy because of the damage caused by alcohol - adjusting our expectations to match their abilities isn't thwarting them - it's honoring their own particular abilities vs forcing them to fail by comparing them to the 'average' child.

Myth 6: It is useless to diagnose FAS/FAE because there is no 'real' treatment approach.  Just because there is no cure for FASD doesn't mean that it doesn't exist!  Diagnosis is super important for developing a personal and family paradigm for how life looks for affected individuals.

Myth 7:  (THIS ONE MAKES ME CRAZY!) People with FAS/FAE are unmotivated and uncaring, always missing appointments or acting in ways that society considers irresponsible or inappropriate.  No again.  People with FASD usually care very much - they just have memory, organizational and situational challenges that get in the way of the success they dream of.  They are not lazy - they have very real, very hidden disabilities and live in a culture that tends to not extend much grace.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Are You Concerned About Violence In Your Home?"

It's been a fairly heavy medical year for our family and everywhere we go I keep running into this question on forms, in pamphlets and straight from the mouths of practitioners.  "Are you concerned about violence in your home?"  Each time I face it my mind flys through the potential answers....and in the end I decide that the best answer for me at this point is no answer.  I can just read it, smile and keep moving forward with whatever medical crisis had drawn us back into the system.....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something Has Got to Change.......

How often have I heard myself (or my dearest friends) say these exact words.  In marriage, communities, children's behaviors, teens attitudes and living situations we often find ourselves at the point where we have had enough and need something to shift in order to make any forward progress.

Parenting children with hidden disabilities brings me to this place faster than anything else in my life.  Too often I find myself beating my head on the table in desperation and asking God to PLEASE change what is going on because I have had enough and something just has to change because I am out utterly out of new ideas and we are sliding back down a slippery slope toward despair.

This is nothing new in my life (the beat my head on the table and beg God to change things/people theme) in fact it was through this exact situation that I came to saving faith in the first place 17 years ago.  On that day He changed my heart (in the process allowing my first husband the freedom to walk away from our marriage) and began a new pattern of speaking to me about the desperation I find in walking through life in my own strength. 

Since then I have prayed that same prayer hundreds of times "Lord please change something here! I'm stuck!" and He has always answered.  Sometimes by modifying a situation or redirecting my energy and other times by changing my outlook and attitude in such a way that the exact thing that was making me crazy has become a blessing instead. 

Last week I was pleading this need incessantly before Him.  This week I can feel the shift in the tangible things that can change and also in my attitude and desire to find joy in the moment - regardless of if anything outside of my mind changes at all.

The Tiny Twister Turns Five....

Here on the blog time has brought about a change from our youngest daughter being lovingly called the Tiny Twister to being simply Wind. 

Five years and one day ago we didn't know she was about to be born, or that she was destined to become our treasured youngest daughter.  We didn't know about the drugs in her system which would affect her first year so severely or the long term affects that the alcohol would have on her damaged brain.  We were waiting, with a chest tightening expectation that we didn't understand for a call or an email or something...anything that would explain the 'expecting' feeling that I had been carrying around in my heart for months.

Being A-type and pushy (and having wasted too much money on my own pregnancy tests over the last month trying to understand this intense feeling of pregnancy)  I called our social worker in GA on November 6th 2005 and asked if there was any chance that my other two daughters biological mother was pregnant again.  Our social worker said no, she had just seen her, and asked for prayer as she was off to the hospital to talk with a young woman who had given birth the day before and was thinking about adoption.  She also asked if she could pull our old profile (photos and a generic birthparent letter) to show her as an example of waiting families.  Which was the end of the discussion.

Until four days later...when our social worker in MN left a message on our anwsering machine which stated "Look like a go....we better get your paperwork done this week."  Ummmmm...WHAT (OR WHO) IS A GO?! 

It was Wind.  A tiny, beautiful, drug addicted and alcohol damaged princess with a questionable HIV status and our name on her paperwork as her adoptive family.  She came in a whirlwind (which in hindsite is perfect for who she is) pre Adam Walsh and with our fingerprints less than a year old from adopting River we were able to fly through the homestudy process and bring her home November 22nd - in plenty of time for Thanksgiving.

Five years later she is a bouncy, emotional, joy to have in our family.  She is cuddly sunshine every morning and a night owl who can outlast even the most caffinated adult.   With her new medication she has started using Lexia on the computer and is one step away from riding a two wheel bike.   Though her first five years have not been easy, there is no question that she is a huge gift and amazing blessing in my life.

Wind - I love you to the bottom of my toes and back.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Changes in Our Address Books............

My friend Megan in Minnesota wrote a great post last week talking about one of the changes that has happened in her life since she adopted a sibling group of wounded children.  In it she describes the difference between her address book pre and post adoption and honestly reflects on the changes that can occur in our lives as we embrace children from difficult places.  As I type I am laughing, thinking about what my address book looks like now - and understand exactly what she is saying!

Some Jokes Are Just Not Funny.........

I have recently had the opportunity to listen to several discussions where someone in authority is using a joke to make a point in their presentation.  Jokes in general are fine - I have a pretty twisted sense of humor having had a British father and now being mom to multiple kids with strange behaviors and sometimes bizarre humor gauges.  What I don't like, feel compelled to speak out against and refuse to politely laugh about are jokes which put other people down as a point of the humor.  Racial and social stereotypes are not funny to me.... no.....not...... never.   My heart is so sad when I see leaders in our communities using them without even thinking about the words pouring out of their mouths or the potential harm they are inflicting on those who are already in pain.

There is a good side though.  Through exposure to these 'bad jokes' I am encouraged to see my teens understanding the difference between a good joke and one that cuts other people down in order to gather a laugh. (Thanks Jan M for something you said YEARS ago to your oldest son in the office DT and which I overheard on this particular topic)   I hope that starting in our homes, we can begin changing the face of humor so that a good laugh will no longer leave a wounded trail of people in it's wake.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Worth Every Penny........

Kari posted this very moving short video of a young man with FASD speaking in Canada.  In it he says thank you for the investment (in him) and reminds us that his life is worth every penny.  What a fabulous word of encouragement to all of us who live with FASD as a part of our reality. 

 My own alcohol-damaged son watched it tonight and is walking around the house repeating "I am worth it!  I am WORTH IT!"  .....what beautiful words to my ears - effectively wiping out the negative things that so often tumble out of his mouth.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Orphan Sunday Simulcast ....We Had a Blast!

Tonight the family had the fun of serving as ushers for the VIP event before the Orphan Sunday simulcast here in Colorado Springs.  It was Kudu's 11th birthday today and he loved/hated having me tell people that it was his special day. (I will write a birthday post for him later this weekend - hopefully before the next birthday on Monday!)   He and Tender worked as a team helping get people through the maze that is New Life Church and up to the reception.

Look - almost everyone in matching shirts and jeans and looking happy.   Think anyone would notice the three extra adults in the photo if I used it as a Christmas card?

The girls appreciated Jodi's friendly lap - especially after their 20 minute pig-fest at the leftover bread table.  nothing like an endless variety of bread and treats to bring out the happy in all my kids.

Called To Task By Mathew 7....

The kids and I finished off the book of Acts the last week of October and have been trying to settle on where to dive in next in our Bibles.  We haven't really settled yet so we picked up Matthew 7 this week since it surrounds the fighter verse section that we are memorizing with our home church back in MN.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

The chapter around it deals with everything from judging others to heart motivations behind ministry and the deadly necessity of  building a life on the solid rock of Christs words.  It's a massive chapter and one that we often speed through thinking about 'other' peoples problems or challenges and refusing to look at not only the log in our own eye but the lies we are telling ourselves.  The kids and I are sobered as well as encouraged by this simple chapter that clearly spoke into our hearts...

May you be blessed by it too.

Orphan Sunday: Colorado Springs Live Telecast Tonight!

Tonight from 7-8pm Orphan Sunday is being kicked off with the Live Telecast Event at New Life Church here in Colorado Springs.  It's free, there's plenty of parking and we would LOVE to see you there! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friends Come Today!

The whole crew is super wiggly this morning....Our friends the Broberg's are attending a conference here in the Springs and that means that we get a taste of Minnesota for the next four days.  Between them, Kudu's birthday and Orphan Sunday activities  - it's a party weekend starting today!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Refusing to Be Controlled By Busyness......

Early on in my parenting career I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't allow the 'busyness' of modern parenting to become my taskmaster.  It's a decision that has served me well as we grew from a reasonable sized family of five to a ex large family of 13. 

It wasn't that we didn't (and don't) do anything outside our home - we just try hard to honestly evaluate the impact of everything on the whole as well as the individual person.  Trusting that everything has a season, we have happily moved through the first 14 years of parenting with a very lose and flexible schedule.  Lose and flexible as in our outside commitments - not in the way our day is structured - our special kids need high structure and order - but not super busy lives.

This plays out in all sorts of ways.  We do one week summer sports camps or once a week family sports vs individual seasonal teams, choir on Wednesday nights at church vs individual music lessons, karate as a family, and intentionally finding ministry and volunteer opportunities that stem from our direct community rather than things that require lots of driving and timeaway from home.

It's a delicate ballance - but one that has allowed our family to expand without driving me to despair or exhaustion.  I almost never have anything to do after 8:00pm which gives me an hour or two to myself each night for blogging, reading, outreach or whatever else needs to happen. It's a good life and one that has room for the crisis and dropins of other people.  Which is one thing that I never expected when I made that promise - our home has become the place that people do drop in at, because we are home, and are availible and are more interested in people than in the next scheduled activity.

City Life.......

For ten years we lived in the city.
Living close,
Inhaling our neighbors lives,
Knowing their comings and goings,
Sharing their joys and heartaches.
By day standing in the alley watching children play -
while at night,
 standing in the same spot,
we watched flames consume a house, or car or garage.
We felt the anger,
it echoed in our ears and through our walls.
We knew the need,
Their ache was ours - they shared it freely.
Our life and our neighbors was intertwined and twisted
sometimes dangerous,
sometimes lifesaving,
sometimes exhausting,
But always together.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Traveling To Seoul With Mobility Challenges.......

My friend Carrie recently started a blog and wrote a really informative post last week on traveling to Seoul (Korea) with a child who is mobility impaired.  Since our families mobility issues involve catching and containing the crew vs accessibility I wanted to be sure to share her link because this is the other side of Love Handles and Ergos  which are our preferred methods of keeping the crew close at hand.

Native American Unit Study: Homes........

Moving to Colorado has offered our family the unique opportunity to learn first hand a little more about the history and life styles of the Southwest Native People Groups.  We started our study with a book titled It Happened in Colorado - which is a series of three or four page snapshots of a particular time or person in Colorado history and are expanding it with visits to some of the places the book introduced.
This weekend it was to the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings - a tourist trap on one hand, and an amazing glimpse into the reality of cliff dwellings on the other.  I appreciated the fact that they had a full size tee pee set up also so that we can contrast and compare a little about both styles of home and the reasons behind each one.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Six Good Things About Moving to Colorado.....

I'm sure that you are tired of my whining by now so here is a list of five good things about our move to Colorado.

1. Star has had the opportunity to fly through the Take Flight Dyslexia program at the Colorado Springs Dyslexia Center.  What is usually a two year program (one hour, four or five days a week) she will be completing in six months (Christmas!)because of her own extraordinary hard work and the commitment of her therapist Pat.

2. Speed has had the opportunity to complete (and maintain afterward) his 18 sessions of Vision Therapy at Chapel Hills Vision.  What a difference it must make for him to be able to focus both eyes at the same thing at the same time!

3. My eyes have delighted at being close to the mountains again.  There is no question but Colorado Springs is beautiful and it is nice to be able to see further than our neighbors house.

4. I really like having a gas fireplace.  Growing up in a home with three fireplaces created a sense of security thorough those crazy presto-logs from the 70's.  A gas fire is not much different. :)

5. It is good for the kids to have more freedom.  We have been encouraging them to explore the trails and paths around our new house and to venture out of their personal comfort zones and into the larger world.

6. Our kids really are 'best friends' - having no one in the neighborhood to play with (the family across the street moved away this summer and all the other kids are in public schools and very busy evenings and weekends.) they have learned to really enjoy  each other and to figure out ways to make things work.