Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dealing with Junk Thoughts

I haven't been on here as much lately because it's kind of a boring time of year. And because I've been dealing with junk. Junk like wondering why I made some of the choices I made earlier in life. Junk like wishing I was at a different place at this point in my life. Junk like wondering why I chose the hard road instead of the easy road. Junk like wishing I could have some do-overs on the way I dealt with problem children and problems in general. Maybe it's the age, hmmm? Anyone else going through this. Stuck in "if only" or "why did I" land?

I mean, it's not that I don't love living just above the poverty line. (Sarcasm) Really, it's comparative. We have so much more than others, for instance our Haitian twins, whose dad was trying to raise them alone jobless and with only a banana leaf shelter. We look really good compared to that. But then I look at some of the people here who have nice houses on the water. Yeah, I think I need to keep looking the Haiti direction and be thankful for what I have.
My family is, of course, the biggest blessing. And sometimes the biggest challenge :) These were taken right before Jeff went to Afghanistan in October 2012.

I just would like to be at a different place at this point in my life.

Can you see how my brain is working now? A battle between being thankful for the life I have and the past I have had, and the wishing  I'd made some different choices way back. I have taken a very long road to writing filled with detours. When I went to college, the only writing available was journalism and I don't really like news. So I didn't go into it. I went with elementary education. Even have my masters. Didn't teach much because of all the moving with the military, and I am certified in no state now. With all the testing and politics, I really don't want to teach. It's just not fun anymore. There's a new breed of teacher and it's not the nurturers who go into teaching anymore. I wouldn't mind using the degree in some way though.

But on the up side, I loved being a military wife and traveling. Loved living in Okinawa (only 9 mos) and England. Seeing new places, meeting new people. I loved being a foster parent. But both of those things are over. Rick retired from service in 2001 when they were shoving everyone out the door at 20 years. Foster care did not happen for us in Florida. 

Adoption is a hard road. And we have adopted five children over the years. That's another "if only." If only more had been known about attachment back when we did our first two adoptions. If only we'd had a clue how to handle things. If only we hadn't been lied to. We've learned a lot along the way. But at a cost to the whole family.

I also have had some health issues since I was 16 that I won't mention on here but that have required me to plan very carefully and to miss out on a lot of things.

I used to run, swim and bike. I wish I'd kept with that even though it wouldn't have been convenient in some of the places we lived.

This post sounds rather depressing, right? Well, now you know why I haven't posted much lately. I keep reminding myself that there are people who would gladly trade places with instead of thinking about the people I'd rather trade places with. Bonus? Rick has really been there for me through this and we are closer than we've been in a long time. Love it.

I'm open to your thoughts on all this. Especially if you've been through this. How did you get past it? How did you let go of the junk and push forward?

Next post I'll update some things coming up for the kids and my book that is in process right now. Also the one Jessica and I are writing together. Excited about it, and it gives me something to focus on.

Alright, someone give me some good advice...please?

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Twins

The twins have been home from Haiti for four years now. Hard to believe that much time has passed. Overall, they are doing well considering what they came from. Those first four and a half years of their lives that we didn't have them were important years for growth, mental and physical development, conscience development, social interactions and so on. We can never get those years back, and we will never know what all went on in those years. 

They spent their first 14 months with both parents, then the mother died. The dad tried to raise them alone but ended up bringing them to the orphanage at about 20 months old. We requested them the first week they went on the list. It took us until they were over 4 1/2 years old to get them home.

In some ways the twins are a lot alike. They both like to read, both like learning new things, both are talkative and outgoing. They are also different. Kayla is pretty much on target for her age socially and developmentally. Kaleb is not. His social interactions are very young. I think there is an undiagnosed problem, but since he is learning academically, no one is looking for a problem. But my mommy instincts tell me we are missing something. 

I'm not going to go into problem areas here other than to say that  both have times when they bully, interact inappropriately with others, are defiant and lie. At this point we feel they understand these things, so they are intentionally making the choice to do these things. That means less privileges at times because they can't be trusted to take part in activities where we are not there to supervise. I know that you adoptive parents understand that well. (I realize biological children have issues too, but we have the advantage of having them from birth onward).

At this point, I'm not thinking they have serious attachment issues. We did everything  by the book when the first year they were home. When we didn't feel it, we faked it well :) 

They have come a long way, and I'm not anticipating any serious long term issues. Of course, you never know. But we went through a lot worse with two children not that long ago. 

Both of the twins like team sports. Kayla is much more athletic than Kaleb overall. He is a faster runner, but she is the more competitive, capable player. We also have to be careful that he is not hit in the head anywhere near his right eye because it's not very stable.

Neither twin has played baseball on a team. With the nicer weather recently, we've been going outside to play catch. Kaleb may play on the team. We have to decide soon. Kayla has had some issues at school recently that make us think she may sit this out. We have to decide by the 28th.

Both like to play outside, but we do not have much play time on school nights. And they still have to be closely supervised during play.

We went to a nearby baseball field to practice batting and running bases. It was pretty fun.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the twins grow and develop over the next few years as their talents emerge and they push beyond some of the behaviors that are holding them back. I think they both are quite capable in many areas. This year is a challenge because FCAT testing starts in third grade. Kayla is showing a lot of gaps in math, and her teacher is working with her on that. Both are signed up for their last year of Peanuts at Teen Missions, but if they fail the FCAT, they will have to go to summer school instead. Unfortunately, we won't know until almost time to go!

I am hopeful concerning the twins. I think they will do well in the long run. They are very mild compared to some of the problems the post earthquake kids are having. Plus we have started a day-by-day privilege system that seems to be working--at least for now.

Plans for summer for the twins include Peanut Camp, and possibly a trip to Wild Adventures. We used to live near it, but are about four hours from it now. It has both rides and a water park. It's smaller than the Orlando parks, and much less expensive.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

There's a Teen in the House

Wow! She's a teen!
I met Jasmine in the hospital when she was a couple of weeks old. She'd been taken to Shand's (UF hospital in Gainesville, FL) by helicopter for evaluation and then brought back to Valdosta. I was a freelance writer, so I was home a lot and able to take her to all her appointments and surgeries. We got her at 3 weeks old and were able to adopt her when she was 3 1/2. She always felt like ours.

Truly an angel.

kindergarten graduation!

Pilot for a day

Last year's portrait


Jasmine, you are my joy and song. Parenting you is the adventure of my life.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day

I know the next post was supposed to be about the twins, but I'm still thinking that one through. Those of you who have adopted children understand trying to find the balance between only sharing the good and being realistic. And also protecting children's privacy.

So in the meantime, I'll post the few pictures I took on Valentine's Day.

I didn't take pictures of what I gave the kids, but the older ones and Rick all got water bottles filled with candy plus a DVD or CD. Adam came over for breakfast, and we were going to watch a movie, but he got called into work early. I sent Tyler about ten pounds of candy in the mail.

Jessica went to Hunter's to get the  puppies. She brought them over to hang out with our dogs. This is a male they call Polar Bear. He looks like his white fur is changing color though.

This is a female they call Snowflake. No clue why. The other one looks like a snowflake. This one looks like a wolf to me.

This is Kaleb's loot from school and home.

Jessica was headed out with Hunter, and Jasmine and I were headed to her middle school dance. Rick and I went to Outback last night for steaks.

At the dance. I was in charge of drinks. I think I poured 400 drinks!!! I really have no idea how many (could have been more or slightly less than that), but it was constant for three hours.

After the dance with a white rose she got. I think it was one of the decorations, and they were giving them away. I didn't have time to get any pictures of the way the gym was decorated. It was really nice though, City of Lights theme.

We have way too much sugar around here now, most of it in the form of chocolate!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Girls

Last post was about the three oldest boys, and this post will be about the three oldest girls.

Jessica is my birth child born in 1991. At the time we were living at Grand Forks AFB, ND. She was born one year, three weeks and a day after Tyler. She was planned but was a first try baby and also arrived three weeks early. Rick left for Saudi right after I got pregnant, so I spent that pregnancy also taking care of Tyler who was just like 4 months old when I got pregnant again, and I was also finishing my master's degree.

Like Tyler, Jessica moved around a lot. We left ND when she was 8 weeks old and moved to Okinawa. We were there 9 months and then went to SD. Then to England, GA and now FL. She also made three trips to Haiti with me while we were in the process of adopting the twins.
  Jessica worked at Carmike theater for fours years then got a job at Applebees because things went downhill in a hurry at the theater.
Jessica and Hunter worked together at the theater for over three years. Things started going downhill when he left. They are getting married next October. As you can see, they've completed their first adoption :)

Jessica is in her senior year at FSU in the criminology program and is doing underwater crime scene investigation. That's kind of like NCIS underwater. I don't have any pictures of her underwater except this one where the class is carving pumpkins.

Jessica has her basic, advanced, science, nitrox, and rescue certifications. She will complete her cavern certification this semester. She is also doing the underwater crime scene investigation diving this semester. She would graduate this May but didn't realize that one class she needs is only offered in the fall. So she has that one final class next fall.

To celebrate her graduation, we are going to New York City in May. So if anyone has any suggestions for us, please leave them in the comment section. We have not been there before. We need to know where most of the stuff we want to see is at, what we should see, where we should stay, what kind of transportation we should use etc.

Jasmine came to us as a foster child. She was supposed to go back to her mother, but her mom didn't follow the case plan at all. She was not making good choices for herself or her children. (Jasmine has three older half siblings). Jasmine had a cleft palate, cleft lip, hole in her skulls, club foot, missing bones in her fingers on her left hand, fused fingers, missing and fused toes, and webbing on her neck. She has true ADHD that may have been caused by her mom's drug use. But she is actually a very amazing child. I refused to believe that she was not able to ever accomplish much. I probably seriously overstimulated her, and she was with me constantly. So she had very good attachment and many, many opportunities to try new things and explore her potential. I feel like I finally got it right with this child! (Tyler and Jessica too, but not so much with Jeff and Adam. Adam during high school yes, but there were a lot of hard years first.)
 Jasmine came to us at a time that Rick and I were going through a rough time and were apart for 3 1/2 years. But it all worked out.
She is smiley in her pictures, and she is generally happy whenever we are together, but school is very stressful and she really, really struggles with math, science and organization. So she's not usually smiling when she first gets home from school.

 In the past she has been in gymnastics and tumbling, but she does not have good flexibility at all, so those didn't work out. She's played soccer, basketball and baseball and likes them, but is just not a natural athlete. And that's okay. She played for fun, but now that the teams are competitive, she's decided not to do more sports. Her thing is music. She is a good percussionist and singer. She is also in jazz and hip hop dance classes this year.

It probably seems like I say the most about her. That is because she is the child who seeks me out the most just to be with me. We don't even have to talk. She will just come sit on my lap or lay beside me if I'm not up yet or am on the couch. She's the one who asks if we can just do something together, or have an adventure together. She can be moody and quirky, but she's also very easy to love. And I probably look out most for her because of all her struggles and surgeries.

She has band competition coming up, and also FCAT. That worries me because we know she won't pass the math one. Not being negative, it's just the way it is. She is never even close to passing. But if she doesn't pass the reading one, she'll lose band and that would be a very bad thing. But it's an elective so it's what would go. But to take the one thing she's really good would stink. She is a good reader, but that doesn't always guarantee a passing score on the FCAT.
Ashley is my step daughter. She lives in Indiana with her husband Mike and two children, Phoenix who will be ten in April and Griffin who turned six last August.

Besides my crew, she has a half sister, Lydia, who lives in Indiana also. Ashley is a beautician, and Mike is a mechanic.

We only see them once a year when we drive up to visit our families in Indiana. She is about 3 1/2 hours from where our families are at.

So that is the three oldest girls. Leave any comments for them or about NYC in the comment section.

Next post I'll talk about the twins!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Guys

Those of you following my blog for a while realize I have four sons and four daughters, but for those of you who are new, I'll reintroduce them starting with the oldest three boys.

Tyler is my birth child, born in 1990. We were living in ND (USAF) at the time but moved to Okinawa, Japan when he was 15 mo old. We were only there 9 mo because it was determined he was special needs and we were sent to SD. Cold to warm to cold. He was diagnosed with ADHD and language issues. I guessed he might be aspergers, but no one really gave it much thought until he 15 and it was obvious to people that he was indeed aspergers.  Anyway, from SD we went to England, then to GA and eventually where we are in the FL panhandle now. So Ty had lots of chances to see cool things and travel growing up.

College didn't work for him and the military turned him down since aspergers is a form of autism. So he worked road crew last summer and really did well at it. He was one of the few capable drivers and would have been a shift leader except that he had a chance to go to Job Corps in KY, and that's where he is now.

It took a while to figure out what field he would train it. Way back he wanted to design video games. He gave up on that because the classes were difficult for him. (Aspergers affects a lot of different areas like social skills, coordination, stress control etc.) He wanted to do something physical, but recently began computer technology (CT). He went bowling with the CT kids last week. This week they have had a couple of snow days. He is near Mammoth Cave in the middle of nowhere on country roads. 

Adam is younger than Jeff, but he joined the family first, so I'll put him next. He turned 19 in January. Rick and I always knew we were going to adopt. We just didn't know when or how. Adam was our first adopted child, and we got him at five months old through Bethany Christian. Because I did some "cheating" in order to get his newborn hospital pictures, I've always known who his mother was. She was a very talented young lady who had both softball and art scholarships to college and knew she wasn't ready to parent. I told Adam about her bits at a time over the years and last year I put them in touch through facebook. Got to love social media. It took a long time for her to acknowledge him and that's okay. She went through her whole pregnancy without even her best friend or parents knowing she was pregnant. Most people still don't know she has a birth son. 

Adam definitely has his birth mother's athletic ability.

Adam went to marine boot camp in July planning to go into the reserves, go to college and then join as an officer. But he neglected to do what he needed to in order to start college in January. Hopefully he can start in the fall. He wants to do something like SWAT or another very active career. In the meantime, he goes to his reserve duty one weekend a month.

I love this photo of my tough marine greeting his dog after being gone many weeks.
We adopted Jeff from Haiti in 1998 when it only took 6-12 months, not four years!! He was almost five when he came home. Some of you know that it was a constant struggle with behavior issues with him. I wish more had been known about it at the time because he has so much good about him that he didn't show anyone.  He went into the army in 2011 and went to Afghanistan last year

He's a pretty typical guys who likes cars, women and hanging  out  :)

Before leaving for Afghanistan, Jeff was on the army 10-mile team. He competed in Washington DC finishing the ten miles in just over 50 mintues!!! (Yeah, that's my four mile time!!!)

Jeff is back at Ft Bliss, TX right now.

So that's the oldest three guys. I'll talk about the oldest three girls next and then the twins, (because it is always something new with the twins).

Love my guys!!!

(You can leave a comment for them below)