Monday, January 31, 2011

A peek into our weekend...

My weekend started on Thursday.  My {former} stepdaughter Ash came to town from Washington with her husband Jordan and their absolutely adorable baby boy.  They had tickets to the Celtics/Blazers game on Thursday, and I told them I would watch the baby while they went to the game, and that they could stay with us.  Jordan is in the Navy, and Ash just completed her schooling for her CNA.  They had a nice date night, and I got to play with the most adorable baby! 

My J was really trying to wrap her head around the relationships.  Ash is K's sister (my teenager), and since K is their brother, J finally said 'Oh!  So you're our sister too!'  It was so cute.  Before I could even correct her, Ashlee just said 'sure!  You can think of me as a big sister.'  Made me want to cry.  I thought it was SO big of her heart to say that.

Let me just tell you that their baby is SO good.  Even Chris was amazed at how good he is.  Smiling, laughing, sitting on the rug surrounded by toys, there isn't much that upsets this kid!  He's a good boy and they are truly blessed to have him.

Friday the kids had no school so I took a PTO day and made breakfast for everyone.  We got cleaned up and headed to the mall to walk around.  We ate lunch, and headed home.  I was making a nice family dinner for us of cesar salad, lasagna and garlic bread, and had left the sauce simmering while we were gone.  We came home to the most unbelieveable smells!  Delish!

W had a birthday party to attend, so daddy took him to that while Ash and Jordan went back to the mall for some things they decided to get.  I kept the baby, and J was outside playing with her friends.

Unfortunately, Ash and Jordan had to leave early Saturday, as Jordan had to report back for duty.  After they left, the kids woke up and we fed them and they headed outside.  If there's one thing those two love to do, it's play outside.  Which is great, because we've really had some great weather lately!

We gathered them up around 10:45 to head out and get some errands done.  We went to the Woodburn Outlets and bought them up some clothes.  Little Miss J scored at the Aeropostale store, while I hooked W up at the Gap.  I got some stuff at Tommy (my fave) and the whole family got matching shoes at Converse!

On the way home, we stopped at Famous Dave's BBQ for lunch.  Once we got home, the kids went outside to play for the rest of the afternoon.  When they came back in, we tucked them downstairs with the next Harry Potter installment (they've been watching the series) and let them watch that.

Sunday, we headed to church.  W was so excited about his spiffy new clothes.  He does like to dress up!  After church, we came home and dad went outside with the kids to do some yard work and I started laundry.

Chris and I have been discussing the need for a larger family vehicle, now that we have three kids (one being a 6' tall teenager).  We've been looking and keeping an eye out, and yesterday we found something.  After about three hours at the dealership, we drove home in a Pre-Owned Lincoln Navigator.  We got a screaming deal, WELL below Blue Book, and this car has EVERYTHING.  DVD Player, Navigation, heated and cooled seats, power everything.  It's honestly the nicest car we've ever owned.  We like it.

The kids were excited about the DVD player, and when we explained to them that it is NOT for trips to the grocery store, but for road trips, they were fine with it.

I have to say, overall, we have some pretty good kids.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shopping. It's not just for the rich and famous! Bonding. It's a journey!

Chris took W to go register for baseball last night.  I decided to take little Miss J shopping!  I'm getting her to realize that sometimes it is FUN to treasure hunt at the Goodwill.  So off we went.

We walked into Goodwill and as we were going through the racks, I thought to myself 'Old Navy is right across the street.  And it's just about clearance time.'  So I looked at J and said "Let's go to Old Navy!"  She replied "Really?"  Sigh.  Their reactions sometimes still amaze me.  Then she proceeded to tell me that this was going to be 'the best day ever'.  Which would be fine.  Except any time we do ANYTHING that she likes, it's 'the best day ever'.  I'm struggling to get across to her that just because we go to the zoo, or go out to lunch, or order in pizza, or sign them up for gymnastics, doesn't make it the 'best day ever'. 

So while we were in the car, I told J "sweetie.  Dad and I are your parents.  Taking you shopping, and going out to lunch and going to the zoo are things that parents do with their children.  I need you to start telling yourself that this is it.  This is what a family is supposed to be like.  This is what a family does.  I know that you have had foster parents in the past tell you that they were going to adopt you, and then that fell through.  However, dad and I came into this process not to be foster parents.  We came into this process with the sole intention of adopting.  Now that you are here, it's ON!  Like Donkey Kong!"

J is having some problems with attachment.  She attaches for rewards.  In other words, she only shows affection when she gets something out of it.  She only engages with the family and gets excited when she is going to get something in return.  I know some of you may be nodding and saying 'um, yeah, so does my kid', but if you are the bio-parents of that kid, then it's different.  Trust me.

Case in point:  W will come up to us and give us hugs for no reason other than he just wants some affection at that time.  He willingly asks to help with chores, or carry things in from the car.  He engages with us, whether we are disciplining him or praising him.  Whether we are reading to him or we just smile across the room at him.

J will not do any of that.  She's the first to rush into the house from the car when we get home.  She only does chores when we ask her to, and only WHAT we ask her to do, nothing more.  We don't get hugs randomly, only when we've given her something.  She doesn't engage unless we make her.  When she is being disciplined, she gets a look on her face that definitely says: I really don't care what you have to say.  She disengages, and shuts down.  We can tell that there are times when she is only doing or saying what she thinks we want to see her do or hear her say. 

So we are working on reiterating that this is it, this is the final lap.  This is NOT her temporary home, it's where she belongs. 

I am hoping that my speech to her got through last night.  And all I can do is continue to reiterate to her that this is it. 

On a positive note - we're getting ready for her birthday bash!  She's going into the double digits and will be 10!  She's excited about her party, as are we.  Memaw and Papaw are flying up from Arizona and we're going to make a weekend out of it.  Should be a great time!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mean Girls.

It was inevitable.  As is bound to happen in 4th grade, there was a little fracas yesterday involving the girls.  One girl was excluded and all the girls were talked to about cliques.  At lunch, a boy was made fun of, and once again, all of the girls were talked to about being mean.

When J got home, I asked her about it.  To her credit, the teacher did tell me that she stood up for her friend and is honest when the teacher asks her what happened.  We've been informed about a certain girl in J's class, and it seems she was at the center of the whole drama.

Chris and I were discussing it before talking with J and we agreed that back when we were in school, none of this would have been cause for the teacher to get involved.  The cliques were what they were.  I guess in the aftermath of tragedies like Columbine, school officials are tending to be a bit more cautious. 

We explained to J that we weren't going to tell her she couldn't hang out with this girl.  We want her to be the better person, to possibly have a positive influence on this girl, to be the leader in the right way.  I explained to her that being the mean girl is not the cool thing to do, and it won't get her anywhere in life.

Mean girls.  Sugar and spice and everything nice.  Or so you think.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One Month Today.

It's been exactly one month since we brought the kids home.  It's been one month of adjustments, tantrums, and exhaustion - and the kids are going through some stuff as well (bah dum dum!).

In all seriousness, the last three days have seemed to be easier.  That's the best way I can explain it.  It seems that we're getting how to communicate to and with them, and they're getting how the rules work around here.

We've established family nights, chores, routine.  The days go by much faster than they used to, but that's ok.

J got the book 'The Care and Keeping of You' from me last week.  I recommend it to ANYONE who has a daughter.  I'm not kidding.  RUN to Amazon and get this book.  Like yesterday.  I don't care that your daughter is nine months old.  Get it.  Now.
I read the entire thing before I gave it to her and I cannot recommend it enough - have I said that?  She is 9, will be 10 on 2/12, and it was timely.  She's a bit more on the mature side, she's my 10 year old going on 15.  There are a few things that we all fumble on explaining, and this book does it well, and with language that isn't condescending or patronizing.

I also bought this one:
I haven't read it yet, and she won't get it until her birthday.  But I've seen her moods strike already and I want her to understand what she's going through.

I also bought this one:

Mainly because I want her to make good choices.  She has a good foundation with us now on learning to make choices.  She hasn't always had that, and I want her to hear it coming from another source other than mom.  You know, cause I am about to enter the time in my life where 'I KNOW NOTHING'.

This one is another birthday present.

And finally:
She will FUH-LIP when she sees this one.  Chris and I have decided we may start letting her stay home for little bits at a time.  She's almost 10, which in Oregon is when kids are legally allowed to be home alone (one of, I believe, only three states that has a law about age).  She's already asked, and we might as well start getting her ready for it.  Like I said, she's more mature than a lot of the 9-10 year olds I've seen, and as long as she can prove herself, I think she'll do well.

W continues to crack me up.  He's got a very good sense of humour.  He also has a HUGE heart.  We were at a friend's house this weekend for a birthday party.  The kids were all playing in the playroom and one of the little girls fell.  He stopped what he was doing, went to her, and helped her up, all while saying 'you're ok!  Come on.'  I almost lost it.  What a sweetie.

That's not to say he can't be a Cranky McCrankerpants.  Oh brother when he doesn't get his way.

All in all, it's going well.  We're settling in.  We're figuring it out.  And, dare I say, we're successfully parenting two kids who deserve to have a stable family.

We're still here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Nerve. It has been stomped on.

Today was difficult.  When our kids had their TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) hearing on December 7th, we knew that their case worker had offered mediation to the bio-parents.  We also knew that we had the full support of the kid's case worker and OUR case worker that we could refuse to mediate.  I won't go into detail as to why, but trust me when I say, it was in the best interest of our kids.

Fast forward to today.  My cell phone rang and it was the mediator.  She read me the list of the bio-mom's 'demands' in mediation.  I had to really hold my tongue on quite a few of them, and then professionally, but calmly had to tell the mediator that we would NOT be mediating.  In other words, the b-mom could go pound sand.

I've spent the rest of the day in disbelief.  These children were taken away from you, not once, not twice, but THREE times because you couldn't properly take care of and protect them.  Then you had a year to get your act together, but you couldn't do that, could you?  And now you are 'demanding' things from me?  Yeah.  Good luck with that.

I was able to vent on a message board I frequent to some women who I love with all my heart and who have supported me throughout this whole process, and continue to support me still.  <-- pardon that ridiculous run on sentence!

I appreciated the kind words and, I won't lie, the stand in solidarity that I got from them.

And now here I sit.  Still shaking my head in disbelief.  Writing this little blurb as I listen to my husband go over our son's spelling words with him.  Knowing that our daughter is safely tucked in her bed writing in her journal.

And knowing, that we are doing the right thing.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What I've Learned So Far

I need to get one thing straight.

I am NOT a mommy blogger.

I am a mom who blogs.

I blog about our kids, and the process, and our triumphs, successes and defeats. I share our pains, and our joys with you, the general public, in hopes that one day, I can inspire, influence, and encourage. Adoption, particularly adoption through the Foster Care system, is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

I've learned that there is NEVER enough information given to prospective parents. I've learned that you need to throw out everything you've ever imagined your family will be. I've learned that there is no magic button to assist with attachment. I've learned that children who have been through so many placements will enact coping mechanisms that will often surprise and sometimes shock you. I've learned that even the youngest child can be cynical. I've learned that the things that make me sad about the way that some adults treat our children is nothing compared to what I actually see.

I've learned that it is a thin line between love and hate, and sometimes children don't see that line, or they tend to confuse the two.

The biggest thing I've learned is that I'm still learning. And the biggest thing that has surprised me is that I have a capacity for love and a fierce protectiveness that extends to children that are not biologically mine.

I'm still learning.