Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A day in my life:
Get up.
Think "what is that smell?"
Get kids up
Clean up the mess K10 (AKA: Beast) made during the night
Serve Breakfast
Don't cry over all the spilt milk
Drop kids off at school
Arrive home
Think "what is that smell?"
try to wake teenager for homeschool.
check teenager's pulse - yup still alive - nope not awake

Think "what is that smell?"
Start laundry
GAG from smell of last weeks laundry still in the washer
walk away. just walk away and take a deep breath. 
Wonder "was that the smell? Couldn't be...could it?"
Go outside contemplate the pile of leaves
Go inside
try to wake teenager for homeschool.
check teenager's pulse - yup still alive 
wonder where the dogs are
open front door and call
see dogs run home 
search house for smell
put trash out
pray smell goes away

try to wake teenager for homeschool.
check teenager's pulse - yup still alive 
think about taking a shower
walk past green brick
wait - isn't that supposed to be an aquarium?
tilt head to side and ponder the strange alien looking spiky brown balls that float past and swirl around tank.
wonder where the fish are...
open lid
good news - found the smell
wait...That is NOT good news!
frantically grab fish net and start scooping strange balls
Realize that spiky balls are actually dog food.
Yell for Beast
Ask beast if she put dog food in the aquarium
frantically try to find a fish in the muck
Listen to beast sob as she realizes that she has killed EVERY FISH in the aquarium 
Clean up the murder scene
haul smelly fish to trash

look at total destruction in my house
throw up my hands
decide moving is for the birds
crawl back in bed and pray for a better tomorrow.
groan when alarm on phone rings to remind me to feed K9 lunch before taking him to kindergarten
Wonder how so many things can happen in such a short amount of time.
glance at alcohol

nope - still too early
try to wake teenager for homeschool.
check teenager's pulse - yup still alive 
But good news! He groaned. I think he might wake up soon!
Take K09 to kindergarten
stop at grocery store
Come home
Balance check book - probably should have done that BEFORE the grocery store...
Spot teenager at his computer - he LIVES! 
Yell at teenager for browsing internet instead of doing his Algebra 
wait at bus stop with Beast for preschool bus.
Realize that the bus is not coming today (there is no preschool on Mondays and beast is STANDING NEXT TO ME.)
Is 3:00 too early for the alcohol?
Collect all kids for homework time
answer email for my listings on craigslist
sell an outdoor little tikes castle
nearly kill myself disassembling castle
Think about that shower I wanted this morning

look for food for dinner
become overwhelmed
step outside and see my friends car parking funky in front of my house
listen to them explain that 2 dogs are running free...realize they are my dogs...again.
collect dogs and place brick in front of gate. stupid gate
brick reminds me of green brick aquarium that still needs to be drained
which reminds of fish
which reminds me I still need to feed kids...
order pizza
feel guilty about serving garbage food
make them eat a salad with the pizza
Realize that it is now "ok" to start drinking
There is no wine open and I am too tired to open one myself.
It is now 7:00 pm and I am counting the minutes till everybody is in bed and I can take that shower I am still longing for.
If I am able to stand long enough.

Thought I should write this just in case anybody ever thought I "have things together."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life in flux.

I am still in shock.  One day my life was status quo...the next, everything fell apart.  No...we didn't lose a kid and no we aren't getting divorced.  But, my husband lost his job and had to accept a job in a new state.  A state on the other side of the continent!  He had to move right away and I am still in our home trying to prepare it for sale.  I am now in the process of helping my kids understand that although we ARE moving, we are moving as family.  More than once they have asked me what their next family will be like and if they will get to keep their favorite toys.  It must be bringing up so much fear in their little bodies.

Then, I have to go through and prepare our family home of loved clutter from 10 kids into some sort of show home of mis-matched furniture with sticky finger prints and crayon on the walls.  And if I can somehow make it a show home by "staging" each room and scrubbing (ok...repainting) the walls, how the heck do I keep it that way with all these little ones running around being kids?
*not my home - but, trust me, it COULD be...

The entire thing is completely illogical to me and happened so suddenly that I am struggling to understand what is happening in my life.  I know nobody in this new community I am moving to.  I don't have my friends for support.  I don't know who to contact for the services my special needs children require.  I spent 14 years developing the knowledge of services and support in my community and now I will need to start over in a community that appears to be far more limited in its access to such services, with children that are perhaps the most challenging I have ever taken on.

I have to keep reminding myself that there must be a greater plan that I am not understanding.  For now, I just keep plugging along, decluttering as I go and reassuring more than one kid that Daddy will be home to visit soon - and hoping he will fix everything that fell apart while he was gone.  The list of things that suddenly broke after he left is astonishing.

Sigh...Calgon, take me away - oh wait, the bathtub is leaking (seriously, it is on the list for dear hubby when he gets home on Thursday).

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What society sees...

 - long and emotional read today.  Ugly vulnerability from me that I rarely admit to.  If you are ready to change your view of adoptive families with troubled children, please read.  If you are only here to criticize, please move along.  I post this in the hopes of reminding other adoptive families that they are not alone in their worries and emotional pain; and I post this in the hopes of helping non-adoptive families learn a few things about how hard us adoptive families work to help our children with abusive histories.

I had an interesting confrontation yesterday morning.  This confrontation was at first offensive which, of course, caused me to be defensive.  I did my best to hide this...I took a deep breath, attempted to respond, but it was clear this individual had no desire to converse with me.  Rather he needed to "put me in my place" and move on.  This caused me to spend an entire day contemplating, at first trying to understand his perspective and ultimately leading to my conclusion that outsiders to our family are going to see what they want to see and they are going to judge me negatively for parenting issues I had no part in creating.  This only adds to the difficulty of the work my husband and I do.  This is not the first time this has happened to me.  In fact, holding my head up despite rumors and ill will from those in my community is something I have been doing for the last 10 years as I adopt and love children from troubled backgrounds with difficult behaviors.  There are members of our own family that have ostracized us, we have lost "friends" over the years because they couldn't handle the situation and we have struggled to find community activities (including our old church) that we could safely participate in with our children.  I am a mother to these children.  I worry about their behaviors, I strive to parent and discipline in an effective and loving manner.  And I worry that I am failing...every day.  I have come to rely on myself to pick up the pieces of a bad day and start over on the next day.  I am down to a handful of friends that I can count on to love me and encourage me no matter how bad things get.  They continue to give my children love...even when my children are out of line and out of control.  And I can count those friends on exactly one hand.  The rest of society...not so much.  They judge, they whisper, they approach and comment on something they know nothing about and they bring up every worry I have and serve it to my stressed out, anxiety ridden stomach like a sucker punch to the gut.  Society doesn't help me...society makes me want to run and hide.   I suspect the Florida mother that put her Russian adoptive child on a plane and sent him back felt much the same way.  Society screams "how could she" and yet that same society has done nothing but judge mothers like her and me for the behaviors of our children.  That same society has confronted us, blamed us, ostracized us and made it clear we are not welcome.

My children stand out in a crowd.  Some are black, some are asian, some are hispanic and some are white.  We are transracial and we are watched.  We face racism, we face questions, we face ignorance and we face animosity and confusion.  Mostly, we face society's fears.  My children do not always behave they way I want them to. Often, they have poor social skills, non-existant boundaries and a total lack of manners.  They spent their earliest years learning to survive.  They hit, scream, push and cut in line.  I did not teach them to behave this way and in fact, I do my best to teach them they are safe, they are loved and they do not need to hit, scream, push and cut in line to get their fair share in life.  They come from backgrounds with multiple care-givers, different homes, different rules and different parenting styles.  The issues they bring into my home come from all these experiences...and usually a result of years of these experiences.  Again, I did not teach them these behaviors.  Their desire to survive taught them these behaviors.  These are behaviors that I cannot snap my fingers to change.  I cannot simply state to my children that a behavior is unacceptable and the behavior will miraculously go away.  I cannot spank them or dump them in time out and expect their behaviors to instantly be angelic.  And yet...society thinks I should.  Society thinks I can.  Society thinks that these kids are now adopted so the behaviors that took years to develop should now be extinguished before the ink is even dry on the adoption papers.

The man that confronted me yesterday morning simply looked at my child and informed me that I needed to "coach" him to behave better.  His parenting of a single child for about 4 years leads him to believe that he knows more than I do about raising my child.  In fact, his 4 years of experience leads him to believe he knows more than the social workers and therapists with whom I have worked.  He believes that I have done nothing to change the behaviors.  He doesn't understand that I have spent hours working with social workers, therapists, behavior modification specialists, teachers, and doctors evaluating numerous medical and developmental tests trying to put the puzzle pieces of my child's behavior together.  He doesn't understand the diagnosis my children carry or the hours I have spent working with the school to understand special needs students.  He has no idea how many 100's, maybe 1000's, of articles and books I have read on the subject.  He doesn't see how hard I am trying.  He has no idea how much pain my child endured or how long or what it takes for somebody to recover from trauma.  He knows nothing of any of this, but he is going to judge me and tell me how to parent better.

This confrontation was interesting to me on many levels.  The first being society's view of ill-mannered children in public areas.  Judgement is easy...knowledge and understanding takes work.  And most people have no desire to put the effort in.  It was also interesting to me because what I really saw in this man's face was fear.  Fear that his child was somehow being harmed.  Let me be clear...there was no danger for any child at any point.  We are talking about a group of about 10 preschoolers in a rough and tumble play environment with a few mild mannered kids that grew up in sheltered protected households and understand the basic concepts of society - waiting patiently in line.  Sitting quietly.  No hitting.  And a few rambunctious children that are so excited they cut in line, struggle to sit still, and resort to pushing or hitting as part of rough play.  And yet, this man was clearly afraid for his child despite the staff of the facility as well as the parents sitting on the sidelines watching.  This parent was so afraid that he was compelled to confront me and make me understand that I need to "coach" my child and therefore protect his.  I wonder how many years this man was bullied as a child that has caused him to feel so over-protective of his own child.  I wonder when he will learn that he can not raise a healthy individual if he wraps his child in bubble wrap and jumps in to solve every problem that his child will face.  Clearly this father is young and clearly he loves his son.  But, in this moment, he was out of line and was responding to his own fears...not an actual problem with his child.  As I glanced at the children, his child was playing with mine.  Smiling and playing rough - as boys do.  Our children were not in distress and were content playing together.  The anxiety was all the father's.

But what bothers me the most was the fact that there were at least 10 children playing...many were playing rough and cutting in line.  Many were struggling to follow directions - as most preschoolers do.  And yet, he was so full of anxiety he had to verbally address me but nobody else.  What made my son more of a threat to his son than any other child out there?  After 24 hours of deeply contemplating the situation, I am shocked and sad to say that this man was afraid of my son.  Not because his was playing any different than the other kids in the group.  At this point, I believe it was because my son is  black and he is bigger than this man's son.  I know this is a strong statement and I am one of the first people to be offending when people start throwing down the race card so it is not an accusation I make lightly and yet...the only difference between my child and the other children playing was my son's race.  I am saddened because this man probably has no idea why he felt the way he did towards my son.  I am certain he believes that he is not racist. I am also certain that he is not the only person that holds subtle views that continue to perpetrate racism.  Think back yourself to times when you too had a moment of fear in a situation - not because anything was actually wrong, but because somebody approached you and they happened to black.  This is at its core, fear of race.  His son did not see a threatening black boy.  His son was chasing my son.  His son reached out to poke my son in a game and my son laughed, gave a gentle push and turned to run away - fully expecting his new friend to chase him, which he did.  This man's son saw a new friend.  The father saw only a threat.

This image is copied from http://guardianlv.com/2013/07/racism-in-the-modern-arab-world/  
No copywrite infringement is intended.  Please contact owner of this blog to have image removed if necessary.

So, in conclusion, to those adoptive families that are out there.  You are awesome.  You are strong and I applaud you for what you have achieved.  And although there is likely still a long road ahead of you, hold your head up and know that there are some of us out here that have truly been there and understand.  I embrace you and your effort and I encourage you to never give up.  You can do this.  And to those that have sat back in judgement, I say be careful of judging things that you know nothing about.  And instead, get to know us, hear our stories and offer us some encouragement.  Remind us that our hard work will one day pay off.  Play with our kids for a little bit and give us a short break.  Know that most days, we are barely holding our emotions together and just send some love and prayers our way.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm back....

Bet you thought I was done writing!  Fooled ya.

Life has been crazy busy over the summer.  Wow...8 kids in the home all day long for 2.5 months.  The house was in perpetual disarray with toys constantly spread liberally through out the house, mountains of laundry hid the dust bunnies that were growing all over.  I gave up on dishes entirely and finally just bought paper plates.  That was a tremendous relief to be honest.

We managed 4 camping trips - 2 to the mountains and 2 to the lake.  K1 and K5 tested for black belts (K1 his 2nd degree and K5 her youth) I kept up the therapy appointments and even purchased a used playset for the backyard.  It should entertain many kids in the years to come since about the time my kids will be bored with it, the grand-babies will be old enough to love it.  It should last...if we keep the teenagers off of it.  Ok...found this picture online and thought it was WAY too funny.  That moment when you realize your childhood is OVER!

But the more important moment of the summer was adoption finalization.  After nearly a year of home visits with GALs and social workers, I am proud to say that K8, K9, and K10 are MINE and I only have contact with the workers when I email them a cute picture  - if I want to.  Which, OK, I admit has been about every 2 weeks so far.  I just can't help it!  My kids are SO DANG CUTE!

On Finalization day, K9 wore the cutest little suit with a turquoise vest and matching tie, K8 and K10 wore matching (but not identical) polka-dot dresses with polka-dot hair bows.  We arrived at the court house - all 8 kids living at home in tow, and one set of grandparents.  The kids were so excited that they had a hard time sitting still.  I finally put K8 in my lap so I could help contain her and whisper into her ear easily.  K9 sat beside me while K10 was contained in Daddy's lap.  The remaining 6 kids and the grandparents were invited to sit in the jurors seats.  Then the wiggling began.  One social worker gave each of the kids a cute sock monkey, thinking that would help keep the kids quite and busy during the hearing.  Ya...that was wrong.

K10 immediately lifted the monkey's tail and started making farting noises.  Ya - those are my kids.  Then K8 and K9 had to follow suit.  All while the remaining 6 kids giggled uncontrollably from the jury box while grandparents desperately tried to "shhush" them.  I really hope the judge wasn't expecting a quiet family whose children sat in perfect decorum.  Regardless, the hearing continued with smiles all around and one by one, the judge identified each child, stated their new name and made their presence in my life officially permanent.  Oh what a happy day it was so off we went to Chunky (yes, "chunky" was a deliberate typo) Cheese to meet with my parents, my god-daughter and her new baby boy.  I have been asked numerous times if we are done adopting yet.  After every adoption, we have said, "that was the last kid."  And yet...  So, to answer your question "is 10 enough kids yet" I say, "I do not know.  I only know that I have been blessed with wonderful kids - many of whom found me, not the other way around so if God brings me another kid, we will just see what happens."  I just hope God remembers how old I am getting.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

trials and tribulations. :(

Warning: do NOT drink anything while reading this.  I am not responsible for damaged computer screens from spewed liquids.

Many children from foster care come with traumatic and tragic stories.  These stories are not a result of a "bad" child but rather a result of the environment they were living in.  This environment forces children to learn less than desirable behaviors in order to survive.  Such behaviors can include lying, stealing, manipulating, failing grades, sexually acting out, screaming tantrums and more.  This list can go on and on, but today, I want to focus on one that all to often is not one that foster parents can put up with.  Feces smearing.

Feces smearing can result from a number of issues.  Early childhood neglect, sexual abuse, overly traumatic potty training.  My plan with this blog as has always been to educate, provide resources and share my life so that others can see that they are not alone.  So in that spirit, here are some web-sites that have great information on fecal smearing.

Netmums faecal smearing
minddisorders: Encopresis
hubpages:Encopresis and Enuresis in Stress Disordered Children

OK so that was the educational/resource part of the blog today.  Now for the "you aren't alone part..."  (insert BIG sigh here)  

K10 got me.  This was my first experience with honest to goodness, textbook case poop smearing.    ...Yuck.

To be clear, we were informed from the case file that smearing had been reported by previous foster care providers.  I was hyper alert when the kids first moved in, but truly did NOT see anything to be concerned about.  Perhaps some poor hygiene issues and an inability to properly wash hands.  But that is normal childhood issues and not something I would ever consider as behavior smearing.

K10 would not settle down for a nap yesterday.  Maybe I should have listened better.   Hindsight being 20/20, I am certain she was not falling asleep because she needed to poop.  Lesson learned.  Anyway, I kept trying to get her to settle down in her bed and after 2 hours, gave up and put her in the playpen.  That was my second mistake.  If I had just let her get up and play, I suspect she would have toileted herself.  No, I contained her in a playpen so she didn't have a choice but to poop in her diaper.  Since she was contained in the playpen, I didn't check on her for about 20 min.  She was quiet...I figured she was sleeping.  That was my third and final mistake.  Never avoid checking on a quiet baby thinking you might wake them!!!!

SO...I walked in to check on said quiet baby to find a completely naked child, diaper thrown to the other side of the room, poop all over the bedding, poop pictures on my wall, a stuffed bear AND bunny covered in poop, and a poop ball (yes, she had squeezed it into a ball shape) carefully placed on the dresser.  There is not enough clorox in the world...

Yes.  My heart stopped.  I screamed OMG in my head over and over.  I think K10 recognized that this was a bad situation because she looked up at me with big brown eyes, stuck out her poopy hands and said "Neber do it again mommy! Neber do it again."

That moment may have saved her life.  Eventually, baby was clean, room was clean and in the end it was just poop.  Her precious little heart and feelings were way more important to me.

So.  That is my report.  I may never feel clean again.  Oh...and I put myself in time out for not paying better attention.  K10 was rewarded with an extra long bath.  My life is oh so glamorous. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hair care - don't judge me!

*I apologize for having to blur my daughter's face in these pictures.  She is still a ward of the court and needs to remain protected.  Thank you for your understanding.

The time has come for me to document what I have learned about hair.  Yes, hair.

It doesn't just sit on your head apparently!  It actually makes a statement about you.  Who knew?  For example, if I take my fair skinned, long haired Caucasian children out with barely a quick combing of those crazy locks...nobody bats an eye, apparently it is ok for us white folks to be a bit lazy with our hair.  BUT, if, as a white mother of a bi-racial daughter, I take my daughter out without doing something with her hair...well, I get the evil death ray eyes from many black women.  White women just look with horror and fear.  Hey! Don't judge me!  I am a busy woman with 10 kids and I am doing the best I can!  But being the person that I am, I realized, after seeing K8s hair one morning, that learning to do her hair was going to have to be a priority.  Note the picture to the right... Yes, that picture is typical of what her hair looked like each morning before I learned the value of a silk head scarf at night.  Not only does the head scarf keep her hair from looking like the bride of frankenstein in the morning, it protects the hair from the cotton pillowcase that actually pulls moisture out of K8's hair making it dry and brittle.

While we were still in the transition stage of K8 and K9 moving in, I would pick them up from the foster mom's home and would have a little anxiety attack.  K8's hair was always so cute and I was very worried that I would not live up to the standard.  I would take my soon to be child home and she would play and I would examine her hair to understand just HOW foster mom did that amazing do!  And I would return her after our weekend visits with a basic pig tail hair style that pretty much just went "poof."

What is a white mom to do when the only little girl (K3) she raised during "little girl-hood" refused to let her hair be styled in anything other than a pony tail?  Even if I did sit on K3 and do her hair, the french braids I attempted were always a little ... well, not right.

So, I took to the internet.  Oh my. SO much information.  Clearly, the journey with K8's hair was going to be trial and error.

K8's hair always felt very dry to me, so I started off trying to understand how to condition it.  I headed to the very limited "african american hair and skin care" section at Walmart and purchased Cantu Daily oil moisturizer.  Which I carefully worked into the children's hair daily.  In the dry climate we live in I found that I had to use a LOT of this product.  K9 being a boy doesn't need a lot in the hair care arena.  A short cut and a daily dose of daily oil and he is good to go!    I also learned the value of Edge Control by Olive Oil.  Recently I have begun applying olive oil to K8's hair and placing a deep conditioning hair cap on her head for about 20 min.  Yes...straight olive oil from my cooking pantry.  Olive oil is full of amino acids and penetrates the hair shaft and strengthens the hair from the inside.  I am hoping this will also help reduce K8's split ends.  I have read wonderful things about coconut oil and avocado oil and will soon be adding these into K8's hair care.

After digging into the mysterious world of hair products - and kitchen oils, I knew I had to figure out how to style K8's hair too.  I started off simple...a wide tooth comb, hair bands, a water bottle and big clip in bows.  I learned 3 things, it is easier to comb curly hair when damp and with a good leave in conditioner, straight parts are important and big bows will make just about any wacky hairstyle I manage look cute.  Seriously...the bow will save you in these early days of learning to style a little girl's hair.  I am very dependent on bows, so I took a 3 foot piece of ribbon and nailed it to the wall.  I then clipped as many big bows, flowers clips and rhinestone bobby pins on it as I could.  Now they are in easy reach as I do my children's hair.  In those early days, I sectioned the hair with the wide tooth comb and did pigtails, stuck a bow in front of the "puff ball" and TA-DA ... instant cute style.

However, I knew from these early attempts (and from staring with envy at other girl's hair) that I would have to do more than lopsided pigtails for this little girl!  So I set out to learn about cornrows, flat twists, micro twists, twist outs, twisty braids, pony beads and so much more.
I started to experiment by reaching outside my comfort zone and realized something amazing.  K8s hair was beautiful.  I could do crazy things with her hair and it looked amazing!  It is actually easy to style and she loves the time and attention from me.  The time we spend working on her hair is valuable not just because she is african american and her hair needs attention, but rather because my daughter has faced some struggles in her short life and her heart needs the attention.  Yes, hair styling is one of the few ways we can sit together and relax and chat.  She is so proud of her "fancy" hair and her eyes light up with love and excitement.  It became a ritual which truly allowed us to focus on each other and work through bonding and attachment.  She learned to relax and trust me...and I learned  that my new daughter just might have my crazy/wacky sense of silliness and that I am more creative than I thought.  Like the day she in formed me that she wanted Princess Tiana hair.  It only required a pony tail, some edge control, a borrowed tiara from her Tiana doll and some black bobby pins to make those curls stay put, but she spent her day telling people she was Princess Tiana so I guess it all worked out ok.
I have spent many hours on youtube looking for new ideas and styling tips for my daughter's hair.  I truly believe that I would not have been very successful had it not been for the generous sharing of hair tips from several women on youtube.  I will forever be indebted to them for the time effort they took to post detailed videos.  I hope to one day make some videos of my own to help other white moms that are learning about "curly girls" hair.  This blog shows a few of our many favorite hair styles.  I am not sure, but I think that sometime in about Oct, I made it a goal to not do the same hair style more than once or twice.  The end result is that I have done dozens of hair styles...but for some reason I only have pictures of a few.

Then came the day that I dreaded.  The "Mommy, I want straight hair like you!" day.  Did I dare try to use a flatiron and straighten this child's hair?  I had worked so hard to moisturize and condition her hair so it would be soft and silky.  I worried that using heat on it would dry out and damage the hair shaft and I would lose so much ground on helping her have healthy hair!  But her pleading eyes won me over.  Fortunately she only asked the one time and that night I worked a little extra Cantu daily oil moisturizer into her hair for extra measure.  She was one happy girl and the style actually lasted 2 days for her.

Over the last couple of months, I have invested in some valuable tools as well.  An organization box for our hair "baubles" as the girls refer to them, metal rat tail comb (no, I don't comb her hair with the fine tooth comb - I only use the rat tail for making those very important straight parts), smoothing hair brush, topsy tail, bows, and a basket to store it all.  It looks like a lot of stuff...and well, it IS a lot of stuff.  I can't believe that I use all this, but I do and the results are well worth the time invested.  It truly is not about the perfect hair style...it is about the time I am spending with my daughter.  The smile of pure joy on this child's face says it all.  Oh and the recent "Oh!  You did that?  You do hair better than me." from an african american mom was nice too.  Watch for another blog on hair soon.  I will show step by step how to do some fun easy styles.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Year 2013.  I am scared.  2012 was amazing, busy, shocking, sad, happy and exhausting all while giving me energy to keep going.  I got 3 new kids, bringing my "little" family to a whopping family of 12, a new son in law and my first granddaughter.  How can 2013 all top that?  Well, I guess we will start off in Jan with a baby shower for grandbaby #2 - due in May.  Then a big move for my oldest child and her new husband...just before the baby is born.  =(  My son in law is in the Navy and is being transferred.  I know that he will take good care of my daughter and granddaughter.  I am very proud of who they are and the family they are starting.  I just wish it was a little closer to home.

What else will happen in 2013?  My god-daughter is also pregnant and so we will be welcome another baby into this crazy family!  Oh how I love teasing her mom (my unofficial sister) about being a grandmother - just as she did to me this past year!  And just to keep me busy, I think I will start an adoption support group in my community.  Yes, we had tried to do this before in our church.  Unfortunately, that fell through when leadership deemed "support" not a part of their vision for an adoption ministry.  That was our sign to find a new church. We haven't found the right church yet but we will keep looking.

We will also finalize the adoption of K8, 9 and 10.  Probably around April or May.  The state requires that children live with the perspective adoptive family for 6 months before they will finalize the adoption.  I look forward to that day.  That is the day that ends the 4 visits a month from various social workers and guardian ad liteums.    Don't be me wrong...these are great people and we have been blessed with very talented workers in this adoption.  But it IS an intrusion into our home on a nearly weekly basis to visit the kids and view their rooms.  I am no different than most women in that when I have a guest in my home, I want to be on top of my chores!  On the up side, it does mean that my house gets a top to bottom clean more often than when I DON'T have so many visitors.

But it also means rearranging schedules to accommodate the busy schedules of social workers and lawyers.  For instance, I feel like I have lost touch with a lot of friends at my dojo since I frequently have K1 drive the kids to class so that I can clean house or meet with a worker.  I know my friends are still there, but some of those friendships are "dojo friendships" and don't really extend to the rest of the week.  I still have my "girls night girls" - thank goodness for my Sunday nights - and the group of us still grab middle of the night movies when when we can.  So it isn't really that I am lonely.

The day is so busy dressing kids, doing K8's hair (watch for future blog on white mom/black daughter's hair) picking up after the kids, finding structured time to work gross and fine motor skills, therapy appointments, doctor appointments and dental appointments that I feel like I am out of touch with the rest of the world.  I get my news from facebook!  Even just sitting down to talk with my dear husband sometimes feels like a chore.  Doing the type of work we do with these kids can be hard on a marriage and so we make ourselves find this "talk time" and try to stay connected.  But reality is that we are not as young as we used to be and we get tired.  We have also been married so long that we sometimes easily fall into the zone of "sit comfortably for a couple of hours and not say a word to each other."  So...date night is often more a quiet break from the kids.  I think it is good that we don't always need a lot of words with each other and we no longer need to impress each other for attention.  But at the same time, I wish I was younger/more energetic and that our life wasn't so ... well...boring.  Ok, I even made myself laugh at that one!  How can life be boring with 10 kids?  Honestly, I don't know.  I don't really have time to be bored.  I am too busy cleaning, organizing, managing, chasing, planning and driving!  It is all a balancing act...

But what IS fun, is snuggling with my little ones, watching their faces light up when something THEY perceive as exciting happens.  Chuckling when a sad child in time out yells "I want to come downstairs and tell so and so I sorry!" and of course, listening to their little voices when they whisper "Mommy, I lub you" in my ear.  Then there are the moments in life when your child or husband says something that just makes you laugh.  These frequently show up on my facebook wall as a "kid quote of the day."  I am raising a bunch of comedians I tell ya!  I might be bored with the daily grind of chores...but I could never be bored with chubby little arms tightly squeezing me and asking for tickle time.  2013... I am ready for you!  Armed with the love of my children and the support of my family and friends.