Thursday, August 18, 2011

True Confessions

Well, it's been a year, so I thought I might start writing on my blog again, and what better way than to jump in with some confessions!

I have been looking at all the back to school photos of my friend's kids on Facebook. I even posted my own back to school photos. I have read the status updates of sad moms, missing their kids, not looking forward to sending their kids back to school-moms who cried when their child got on the bus or walked into the school. I have read the posts from the mom whose youngest child is going off to college or doing all those "lasts", whether it's the last child to go to kindergarten, the last child to go to high school.

Most of the sentiments from the mothers are sad, wistful, not ready for this new stage in life. I only read of one friend who is looking forward to this new phase of "empty nest", who is excited to be alone with her husband. I know many of my friends are just mourning the loss of their "baby". There is nothing wrong with that. Life changes, moves us along with the flow whether we go along gladly or are pushed into the next stage.

I confess. I look wistfully at my friends who are already there, the girls who are my age, who are sending their last off to college, or already have the "empty nest". But, I also wonder,"what would I do if I were them?" Would I find meaningful work, or volunteer or take up the hobbies that have long since be discarded due to the busyness of raising kids?

I confess. When that bus pulled up on Monday at 8 a.m., I felt relief and peace. I did not cry or even feel sad. I had to go to the DMV to get a new driver's license (if I hadn't looked so dorky with my round glasses, I would have fought with them to keep my 35 yr. old self on my driver's license) I ran errands, had to go to an interview committee meeting, grocery shop and do laundry. I was very thankful for the time to do these things without Thing 1 and Thing 2 complicating things.

When the kids returned at 4 p.m., I hadn't completed near the things I had on my "to do list". I had to force myself to re-engage with my kids,and not try to accomplish more on my list. I had to pull them towards home and work at settling them down, long enough to have a snack and share one thing about their day-Abby: I made a new friend; he's my new boyfriend. We like, like each other. (NO you do NOT!) Gabe: I lost my lunch box. (What? On the first day of school?)

Abby's behavior went downhill. She bossed her friends around, lost privileges, screamed, threw a tantrum, and much more.

Day 2: They went off to school. I went off to my water class and then relaxed by the pool for 2 hours and reconnected with a friend before I had to get on with my day (give a presentation to the 3rd graders about Abby's diabetes). I did more laundry, enjoyed the peacefulness of my home, started some long over due cleaning of bedrooms and more errands. When the twins got off the bus, I was a little more eager for them to share their day, and because we had discussed what went wrong the previous day, they knew the schedule: come home, wash hands, sit and eat snack, show mom contents of backpack, put lunch box away (Gabe still can't find his) and "tell mom one good thing that happened while you were at school". So, Abby says,"Spanish class"
and Gabe says,"I farted 5 times in class". I am glad I wasn't there, but of course, it wasn't long before he was continuing his "good thing" at home.

I looked at my kids and at that moment, as they were being funny, looking cute in their school clothes (Abby wearing the Valentine's dress I made for her last year that she refused to wear then) and Gabe wearing a striped shirt with plaid shorts, my heart just swelled with love for them. STOP!!! WAIT!!! Yes, I am confessing that I much more readily feel love for my 8 year olds when they look cute and are being funny, or excited about something they learned. I actually think to myself,"I love them so much!" How WRONG is that? How selfish can I be? I love them when they are making me happy? How often do I feel that way? Well, this summer, occasionally, but not that often, because they drove me crazy with their whining, tantrums, their fighting, their disrespectful, sassy selves.

I could be describing me! Don't I do the exact same thing with God? Don't I expect him to forgive and love me no matter how badly I act, and even deny I'm being a brat, or sinful, or try to rationalize my sins, "but Mom, it wasn't my fault". How would I feel if God only loved me when I was being a "good" Christian, or doing something for Him? How often does my behavior mirror my twins behavior? How often do I hear,"I hate you" when they don't get their way, or don't feel heard, or are just plain mad? How often is that what is really being whispered in my heart as I grit my teeth and deal with yet another disobedient child, or a child out of control.

Oh, that I would run to Jesus when I am struggling to love my child. Oh, that Jesus would be my refuge when I just can't handle one more sassy attitude. Oh, that I would realize how real Christ's love is for me, how it isn't dependent on my behavior, my attitude, my performance, my appearance, or my personality. Oh, that I would live out the Gospel-that Christ chose to love me, to redeem me because of His love for me, not my love for Him.

My life is hard. I don't deny that. Following the calling we felt to adopt the twins, to do what we believe God wanted us to do, hasn't been easy. And, not only has it been difficult, it's been horrible part of the time. Abby's tantrums compounded with being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes has thrown us, at debilitated us, saddened us, challenged us, frustrated us, but we will not lose hope. "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but now abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." I Cor. 4: 7-12

We don't know what the future holds. We can pretty much guarantee, in this life, it's not going to be easy. It's going to get harder. But, for today, I am grateful for a school that is educating my children, so I can get a break, re-group and be reminded that Christ is alive in me and in turn, I can love my children no matter how they look, how they act, how they respond to my love, I love because he first loved me. He is my strength. He gives my life purpose. He calls me His own, and I am His.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Learning lessons from training a child with ADD

Gabe: what can I say? He continues to provide me with so much blogging material that I often forget the many funny things that come out of his mouth in a single day.

Today, he tried to "trick" Tim by putting a note on the front door that read,"Go to bak dor". Well, the neighbor kid saw it and followed the poorly written instructions and showed up at my "bak dor". I was cooking in the kitchen and just yelled through the door that Gabe was at another neighbors. Well, the little boy was annoyed,"but he said to go to the back door!" Me: well, sorry, but he isn't here. The little kid assumed Gabe was playing a trick on him and stomped off.
Gabe came home later, not seeing the note on the door anymore, asked,"did Dad go to the back door? I was playing a trick on him." Nope, Tim never saw the note. We removed it before we pissed off any other neighborhood kids.

Gabe's ADD is really showing up on many different occasions. At least, I think that's the reason for some of the really irresponsible things he does. Today, Abby tells us that the next door kid did Gabe's homework for him. Gabe said,"No, he just told me the answers, but i wrote them down" I wish my dad were here. He would get such a kick out of that. He would probably have a coughing spasm just trying to retell it to us over and over. Gabe is so proud to come off the bus, his homework completed. He still doesn't get that he actually has to complete it himself, not just have someone on the bus doing it for him. Last year, he enlisted a 3rd grade girl to do it for him. Unfortunately, for him, she moved, so now he uses another 2nd grader.

I'm working on explaining that he is CHEATING. I have tried many different ways of telling him this: "you won't know how to do it on the test and the teacher will figure you are cheating on your homework" "You're not learning anything if you don't do it yourself" But, from my observations, that kid with ADD, whose medication wore off an hour ago, hears,"you won't.." and then is fascinated by the cat that just walked across our fence, the fly that's buzzing in the kitchen, the crayon that just fell off the table, his own fingers, his nose he wants to pick, the fly that now landed on his yogurt, the sister that is whining about how their mother isn't helping her with the homework. It's almost like every moment is exciting and new! I understand some of what he feels. I am easily distracted. My kids say,"mom, Mom, MOM, MOM, MOMMMMMM!" before I answer them. And, I am not on medication.

We are trying to help Gabe understand that the medication can only do so much, and that he still must focus .even if it's not entertaining and learn self discipline. He needs to eat the right foods and not sneak that candy loaded with red dye or lots of sugar, because it will affect his concentration.

I need to learn that too. I used to lecture Ben on how everything can't be a party all the time. You have to buckle down and just finish a task. Good grief! Who just said that? Certainly not me! I live for FUN! I don't want to grow up and be responsible! Darn it! I want everything to be exciting, fun, and entertain me!

I need to learn that with all my kids back in school, I just can't have fun every day, and be lured by every distraction that passes by-the store that's calling my name, the computer, the t.v, the book I could spend all day lost in, the tub that I could soak in until the water is cold. I have to practice that self discipline I'm trying to teach my children, not only to be a good example of a day not wasted on self indulgence, but also because my lack of self discipline shows a lack of obedience to my Heavenly Father, and that lack of obedience shows a lack of trust that He will give me enjoyment even in the mundane, and sense of satisfaction that I am caring for my family by doing all those things that I don't want to do, that aren't fun unless my kids are home to entertain me while I'm doing them. What it really boils down to is that I don't want to trust God to make me content. So, what do I do? I "steal" those moments when they are out of the house, when I could accomplish everything without distraction, and I indulge myself, convince myself that I deserve to sit and read for an hour which drags into a morning, because I got them all fed, dressed (yeah, like they didn't do that themselves), made their lunches, and to the bus on time. I should get a pat on the back, right? For an hour of work? Wrong! Pathetic!

I expect more of my children, more of my husband, so what gives me the right to do nothing? Nothing gives me the right to do nothing. I'm not up in the middle of the night with a baby that needs to be fed. I'm not working outside the home and am tired at the end of the day. My volunteering hours haven't started yet. I have plenty of time to exercise and rejuvenate my body, clean, do laundry, shop for food, fill my soul with God's word, study His word, and even spend a little time enjoying friends. My cup is full. I am blessed with a husband who makes enough money to provide well for his family, so I can stay home and take care of them when needed. I am blessed that I can mentor younger mothers. I am blessed that I can have a membership to the Y to keep my body working (well, at least keep it from falling apart further). I am blessed that I have transportation, a phone, computer to make my life easier, plan meals, shop for discounts, schedule appts. I am blessed with a washer and dryer that work magically to do most of the work for me. I am blessed that I can take a morning each week and meet with other women to study God's word. I am blessed with a terrific school system that does a pretty good job educating my kids and with many Christian teachers in the schools. I am blessed I can meet with other moms to pray about our kids. My week is full. Why wouldn't I grab hold of the many blessings God has given me, instead of chasing after the fleeting things in this world that distract me and pull me away from what He has called me to do? I need to preach these lessons that I drill into my kids each day to myself.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adoption Day 2010

I clearly remember the day that we went to the courthouse 1 final time to finalize the adoption of Gabe and Abby. We invited friends who had also adopted as well as other friends, and some of our family from out of town were there as well. It was the final step in a 16 month process that had been a roller coaster of being jerked around by the legal system. We had multiple court dates, birth parent visitation initially, lots and lots of tears, mostly on my part. I am convinced that I would have never survived, our marriage would have never survived, our family would have been broken emotionally had it not been for our faith in a sovereign God. He knew all along how long this process would take. Nothing was a surprise or a failure to Him. All of it was orchestrated by Him, even the flawed legal system. God was in control all the time. Would I have done it this way? Never. I would have had those children adopted by the time they were 6 mo. old, like we were promised by our adoption workers, not 16 1/2 months! But, God knew what he was doing.

We had no one to rely upon but each other and God. Our kids saw our weaknesses and our struggles and our fears. But, they also saw us living out our faith-trusting in God like we had never before. We grew so much as a family. There were lots of fun times: watching the older kids get to know their new brother and sister, experience the joy of each new stage with 2 babies! That was lots of fun. Plus, they were so darn adorable!

It was a struggle though, every day through those 16 months not to give in to despair. At first, we had to deal with medical issues and developmental delays with Abby. To watch her now, listen to her read, you would never know those delays existed. There were fears of autism, brain injury, not to mention fears of the unknown years ahead. The medical and delay fears are gone as we see our healthy and developmentally on target kids now. But, it still has not been easy with the twins. We have dealt with issues that we never anticipated and are still dealing with some things that have perplexed us and shaken us. We have read numerous books written by experts on everything from ADD, anger, raising boys, raising girls, discipline, the strong-willed, the explosive, the hurting and the adopted child. We still have questions unanswered, but we know we can trust in the God who made our children to guide us and give us wisdom.
And, we know that He will never leave us alone to make our own way.

Have we ever questioned our decision to adopt? Yes, more than once. Do we know without a doubt that it was God's plan for our family? Yes, absolutely. Has it been easy? No. Has it been worth it? Yes, definitely. Has God used all of our children to bring about our sanctification? Yes, and we know that there are many more trials that He will take us through to make us more like Him and bring us to our knees. And, you know what? It's okay. It's okay that I freak out sometimes, because God never does. It's okay that I'm not in control of my kid's future, because God is and always has been and always will be.

I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My crafty boys

Yesterday, I bought some clay for Abby to use. I thought we might make some cool clay food for her doll house or maybe something for her American Girl dolls. I remember making miniature food with Julianne many, many years ago, but we had a book to follow. I have no idea where the book is now or even what it was called, so I looked up "Sculpey" on the Internet and found a website with some very intricate projects-no thanks. Then, I found some simple kids projects. I'm not sure what happened, but Abby went to the neighbors, and I got busy doing something else. Then, the timer on the stove goes off and Ben comes into the kitchen and takes a cookie sheet out of the oven with these lovely creations on it. I must have been in a time warp or lost in a book on the patio swing (more likely). I never saw them make them, but I thought Ben and Nate did a really good job, even if I did think Ben's hippo was a pig. Now, Gabe's creations? I'm not sure what they are, but he has already broken them in half anyway.

As we were driving home from Wal-mart, Abby asked me,"Mom, does Jesus know what pajamas I'm going to wear tonight?" I said,"Yes." Then she asked,"Does He know what I'm thinking right now?" Nate chimes in,"He's just like Santa, only not as creepy." I added,"And, Jesus is real". Abby said,"Santa is real too." (I usually try to avoid this discussion and talk about how there was a real St. Nicholas) Nate disagreed with her. I was trying to hush him in the front of the car and then she pipes in with,"I know he's real because part of his beard is stuck in our fireplace." Mmm, that's a new one. I didn't know we had part of Santa's beard stuck in our fireplace. I'm going to have to check that out, but I'm thinking it might be some of the insulation.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seasons and Jesus

Well, I'm finally back. Maybe this week I can catch up my life or it will soon be forgotten.

But, It's late, so I'm just going to relay a funny story that happened last week when I was trying to be the good mother and review some simple concepts with the twins before they had forgotten everything they learned in First Grade. Too late...

So, we're reviewing "time", which except for the half hour and hour, they have forgotten. I have this great book on "Time", called,"Telling Time", and I started reviewing months, which they thought were weeks. Come on! Then, I start going through the months and explaining/quizzing them on something we celebrate each month. It went downhill from there: Me: Okay, what is another thing we call January 1, that we celebrate with a party?" Gabe: July!-good grief!
Me: No, New Year's Day. Me: February, what do we celebrate on February 14th with a party, and hearts. G&A: Valentine's Day! Me: Okay, now March. What do we celebrate in March with rainbows...and what's at the end of the rainbow? G&A: a pot of gold! Me: and who does the pot of gold remind us of? Abby: Jesus! well, yeah, if we were talking about the 3 leaf clover, and the Trinity, but in this case, "Jesus" cannot be the answer to every question.

We then went on to talk about March coming in like a .... Gabe: leprechaun! Me: no, like a lion, and it goes out like a ... Gabe: mouse! After that, I asked them if they had ever heard of "April showers bring May...." again, the answer was not what I was expecting. Abby: thunderstorms! I said, "no, May flowers" Gabe said,"hey that's a little rhyme!" Now, I know they learned that in school. In fact, I know I have said it many times to them every spring when it was raining. I felt a little like the teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". All in all, it was an entertaining morning, and I definitely have my work cut out for me this summer.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ben's senior luncheon

Today, was Pine Creek's senior luncheon. It's hard to believe we're already here, again. It seems like Julianne's was just a year ago, not three, and now, Ben's. We were there for 4 hours, and then we had to leave. I felt badly for the kids who were still waiting to be capped, the group waiting to sing, and the senior class president, Greg who was still waiting to give his closing remarks. It must have gone on for another hour, and over half of the tables were empty. Like us, people had places to go, had to return back to work, or pick up younger siblings. It was a very nice time. All of the kids had something nice to say about their loved ones who were capping them. Ben brought along Jon Diaso for support. I want to include what Ben had read about Tim, who capped him. I was so proud of both of them: Tim, because he is everything Ben wrote about him and more, and Ben, because he recognizes what a great role model his dad is and chose to honor him publicly. I love my family!

"I want my dad to cap me, because he has taught me what it means to be a man. He didn't teach me through words but through his actions. My dad has given up his money, time and dreams to provide for our family. He has showed me how to live a life of significance through humility and selflessness. He has done this through devotion to God and through sacrificing himself for those around him. He has never had to earn my respect, because I have never had to earn his love. My dad is a true man."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pumpkin muffins

Our family is pretty fanatical about pumpkin muffins. Most people only eat pumpkin during the fall. We eat it year round - with chocolate chips. My kids don't eat banana bread or pumpkin bread without chocolate chips. I've ruined them in that respect.

The first chocolate chip pumpkin bread I ever had was from our neighbor in AK. Her name was Mary Jane Baer, and I think I even have the recipe card from my mom's collection. It was full of butter and eggs and very good. I made that recipe after I got married for years, but then I found an even better recipe that had orange juice in it. I added fresh grated orange and that became my standard pumpkin bread recipe. We would make it every Sat. morning into muffins, so it would be quicker, and they were usually eaten up by the weekend. I have probably given over a hundred mini loaves to teacher, Sunday School teacher and friends over the years.

A few years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and found that my pumpkin bread wasn't so healthy (yeah, I was in denial). So, I tweaked the recipe, putting in some whole wheat flour, reducing the sugar, even cutting the fat in half. They weren't as perfect as before, but my family was still eating them. Well, now, I am unveiling a new recipe. It is definitely lower in fat, higher in fiber, and my kids are still eating it, but they know the difference-anyway, the older ones do.
I found this recipe from Cooking Light just recently online. BTW, I love online recipes. I love to just search and search and find something to make for dinner, or to bake. I would love to get rid of all my cookbooks, freeing up 2 shelves in my kitchen, and just store my favorite recipes from those cookbooks digitally. Someday, I want to take all my mom's recipe cards and scan them, so they will be in her handwriting and put them in a book for all the women in the family Some day.

Anyway, here is the new recipe, which I have tweaked, adding 1/2 whole wheat flour, some flax, and orange zest.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. canola oil
3 egg whites, 1 whole egg
3 c. flour, 1/2 white, 1/2 wheat
1/4 c. ground flax, or leave it out
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. each ginger and nutmeg
1 1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 bag of chocolate chips
the zest of one orange

preheat oven to 350
Combine first 4 ingredients and mix well. Combine dry ingred. in another bowl and add to wet. Mix until moist. Add zest.

spoon batter into 2 loaf pans coated with cooking spray and bake for 1 hour.

OR spoon into muffin cups and bake 27 min.

YUM! These don't last long around our house. I try to freeze them, and they barely get frozen before someone takes them out and eats them. My big boys eat about 4 or 5 at once, and Ben, will mash them up and add more chocolate chips and melt the whole thing in the microwave and consume a 1 /2 gallon of milk with them. It's disgusting.