Even If

Last night was the last night I would place my six year old daughter to bed.  Today is her birthday.  As I tucked her in I let my mind wonder to what the year would hold for us.  Hoping for more giggles and laughter.  Year six was a struggle, no need to sugarcoat it.  An emotional roller coaster where she was the conductor and I was a passenger just along for the ride.  She can’t help it.  Things are getting better, a little better, now that we have found some of the things that trigger her. I wish I could step back in time and fix it all. I wish I could save her from all the pain, all the anger, all the hate.

As I look at her I think about those first few years of her life.  What would her life be like if  the caseworkers would have pulled her out earlier? What if the connection to her half brother was never made?  What if she had been properly cared for from the beginning? What if she had felt loved as a newborn, as a three month old, at a year old?  What if  she never made it to me, to us?   IF such a small word, yet so powerful.

Part of my heart goes out to her birth mom.  She could have easily decided not to go through with the pregnancy and our little girl would not be here.  I don’t know the whole story, and as her foster to adoptive mom I may never know.  I imagine though days like birthdays and holidays have to be hard on her.  I can’t imagine not having my kids with me on days like this.  My oldest daughter turned 22 this year and for the first time we were not able to celebrate together, and my heart ached all day.  So I can’t imagine what the last seven years have been like for her. Or does she even care?

There’s also part of me that almost hates her birth mom.  I know I’m not suppose to, but well I do. Kind of. I know her birth mom was not around from early on, that’s why it took the state so long to make the connection between diva and wild man.  I wish they would have found her sooner. Then again, if they would have chances are she would not be with me. Our whole family may be different seeing four are half siblings we agreed to keep together.  I don’t want to imagine that life.  The emotional damage that was done in those first 16 months is far greater than they will ever know.

My heart breaks for the children that have been in foster care for two years, three years or longer. Bounced around from place to place. We have had placements that have been moved so much they are nothing but shells of children by the time they arrive to us.  There is nothing that breaks my heart more.  Not having the attachment they need early on will led to so many trust issues and so much anger later in life if not so already.

If her birth mom had been around to love her, then maybe she would not be filled with so much anger and pain.  If she would have not done the drugs, maybe diva would be more socially adjusted, if she had just been a mom then none of this would have had to happen.  If I had gotten her early……. There’s that word again IF.

 

Our other little loves all love to love on me(and each other)  I think its because we have had them from early on.  Wild man was only two months old when we came to us, while Big Al, Elmo, and Baby girl were all newborns ( 2 days, three weeks, and a week) when they first came through our doors.  I have rocked them, held them, hugged them, and kissed them from the time they were babies.  Diva did not have that.  If she would have been noticed earlier, maybe just maybe she would not have RAD.

For her birthday she asked me if we could have a special song. She said, “Hey could me and you sing a special song every night? You don’t sing as pretty as the ladies on the radio but you’re all I got”  Not arguing about my singing voice, I told her that would be a wonderful idea.  I thought she would come back with You are My Sunshine, or This little light of Mine, you know something geared towards kids.  She comes to me with EVEN IF by MERCY ME .  Have you ever heard or looked at the words to this song?

“They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain Well good thing a little faith is all I have, right now But God, when You choose to leave mountains unmovable Oh give me the strength to be able to sing It is well with my soul.  I know You’re able and I know You can Save through the fire with Your mighty hand But even if You don’t my hope is You alone I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt Would all go away if You’d just say the word But even if You don’t My hope is You alone You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good all of my days Jesus, I will cling to You Come what may Cause I know You’re able I know You can….

Wow.  What a big message for such a small little girl.

I asked her why she picked this song.  Her response: “Cause it says God loves me even if I’ve had a really bad day, even if my faith in him is small on those days. He loves me anyway momma, just like you and daddy love me.”  EVEN IF.   She knows we love her, but even better she knows God loves her.  She knows we would move mountains for her.  Her life is not as easy as the others, its hard for her to show love, but she did show me she cared by picking out this song for us.  So I found the song on YouTube and we sang, my not so great voice and all, and it made her smile. Then she hugged me.

She asked to take pictures before she fell asleep because she would be 7 when she woke up.  So we did.  I pray that year 7 brings her some peace. I pray that she continues to reach out to me in small ways.  I pray one day all of this will be behind us and that her past will be just that her past.

 

I may have missed out on her first birthday, but I will not miss out on another one.  I may not have been there to hold her or kiss her when she was scared, or hurting her first year and a half but I’m here now.  I was not there to protect her then, but I am now.  I will do everything in my power to give her the life she deserves.  I will love her, protect her, fight for her, and guide her all the days of my life.  For that I thank God and her birth mom for giving be such a precious gift.

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Happy birthday Diva, momma loves you more than you will ever know.

Summer Days and Autism

Aw summer. Time for relaxing by the pool, drinking mimosas, and sleeping in.  Oh wait I forgot I don’t have a pool, nor do I drink, and my six year old is autistic so sleeping in to him means 5AM.  Oh the joys of long summer days.

We started our official summer break two weeks ago.  And since then I can’t recall a single shower or trip to the bathroom that I’ve not had an audience of some sort. I swear I know more than get in the bathroom door and they line up knocking to ask me life’s important questions: Why are you in there?   Did dad go to work?  Can I eat these?  Can you open this? Why does the baby smell so weird?   All questions that to them can’t wait five minutes for me to get out of the restroom.

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With wild man he needs a routine.  He needs to know what is going to happen from the time he gets up till the time he goes to bed.  He likes it that way.  So with the school days behind us he has started his own daily routine of things that I thought I would share.

Thanks to the Sprout channel, I am reliving the all famous Teletubbies.  The kids love them.  I thought for sure my time with these brightly colored singing wonders was long over after my older children out grew of them.  I was sadly mistaken.   Wild man loves the Teletubbies, the bright colors, the songs, the movements.  He takes it all in.  And now he is sharing this love with his younger siblings.  Elmo loves the color green so naturally he is Dipsy.  Big Al is the tallest so he is Tinky-Winky.  There’s not a pink but red is close enough for diva so she is Po.  That leaves yellow Laa-laa for wild man. Baby girl just dances around and giggles. They spend the mornings, while waiting for the sun to dry the dew off the grass, acting out their favorite parts of the show or making up their own story lines.

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And then we have the name and question game.  While he loves Teletubbies he also loves annoying orange.  (I know completely different yet he loves them both.  And yes I know its not the best thing for him to watch so please keep your negative comments to yourself)  Since the Annoying Orange trend started with him, he has given everyone in the family and a few close friends nicknames that we all go my now.  For instance he calls me Apple now.  His dad is coconut. The list includes his siblings which he has named: Kiwi = big sissy her boyfriend is banana, Tug boy= big bubby, little apple= diva, marshmallow= Big Al, Tomato= Elmo (because he hates tomatoes and wild man finds it funny, and baby girl is Pear.  My parents are Onion (my mom) and cabbage (my dad)  while my husband’s parents are blueberry (husbands mom) and blackberry(husbands dad).  My brother is cookie while his kids are carrot and bindi. My grandmother even has the nickname of candies. And a few close friends are pineapple and peach.  One of my best friend and her daughters are potato, butter and gray.  While another is cheese (or cheese head but in all fairness she does live in Green Bay, WI) Every day, I mean every day, he will stop what he is doing to come climb on my lap and ask what each and every person is doing.  Where is kiwi and banana today? Are they coming for a visit?  Is onion at work? Is cabbage at his house?  He starts at the top of the list and works all the way down.  Asking something about each and every person he has nicknamed.  After the questions stop then this conversation starts:

wild man” HEY APPLE” “HEY APPLE”

me: What?

Wild man “blender”

me:  AYYYYYYYY

kids: laughing

It’s an Annoying Orange thing.  He says blender( or any object for that matter) I yell the kids laugh it repeats.  Sometimes for minutes sometimes for an hour.  Just depends on them.  Again I know the show is not great, don’t judge me.  We all have our weak moments in parenting.  It makes him happy and to me that’s important.

Once the grass drys its time to get outside and play.  He loves to be outside more than anything.  He could swing for hours.  Baby girl is still getting use to having everyone home all day everyday.  She is not liking sharing momma with the rest of the kiddos.  So while the bigger kids are outside swinging and hunting for dinosaur eggs she is all cuddled up trying to squeeze in a quick nap on momma’s lap.  She has defiantly become more clingy over the past few weeks.

After lunch its time to play school.  The school system here is fantastic.  The kids received backpacks filled with coloring books, easy read books, math, reading and social studies work books, flash cards and crayons.  Everything they would need to keep up with their studies over the summer. The funny thing is they love to do their “studies” after lunch, even the two little guys.  They actually ask for it.  While they work hard doing their math sheet or their coloring page, I pull out one of the books and read to them.

 

The fact that wild man is doing any of this things with his siblings this year amazes me. He does more parallel play than actual playing in most cases.  He has come so far since the move.  A year ago he would have been in another room while they watched TV, or if they came outside he went inside, or if we were at the table he would be wondering around the house.  But now he is trying to be with us, in his terms.  And his siblings and I love it. This could turn out to be an amazing summer.

At night he has a routine as well.  After he is all tucked in under his airplane sheets he has three things that must be done. First he sings his ABC’s both forward (A,B,C,D,E,etc ) then in reverse (Z,Y,X,W,V, etc). Second he recites the Pledge of Allegiance. And then he prays. While he says his prayers he thanks God for his apple and his coconut. He thanks God for his siblings, kiwi, tug boy, little apple, marshmallow, tomato, and pear.  He thanks God for the good day he had and asks God to help him sleep.  It’s the same prayer night after night word for word but it is the sweetest prayer I have ever heard.

My days may start early and my bathroom breaks may now draw a crowd, but I love being their mom.  Some days are down right exhausting but I would not trade them for anything.

His superpower is Autism what’s yours?

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We Had a Breakthrough…He tried Pizza!!

When wild man was two, he ate like any normal two year old.  We could go out and eat just about anywhere. By the age of two and a half he had stopped eating.  Back then we knew something was different.  He did not talk like other two year-old’s, he did not make eye contact, he would sit and line cars up for hours, he did not play with others he preferred to be by himself. He is destructive. He can tear through a clean room faster than anyone I know leaving a trail of broken toys and books in his path.  Back then we knew but didn’t want to know.  We contributed his delays to his unique begin and brought in early intervention workers to help get him caught up.  By the age of three we had a diagnosis, he was autistic.

My older two children were what I would call picky eaters. But even they would eat chicken, pizza, and pastas. I have had many people tell me, “If he were mine he would eat what I fix or not eat at all” or “Why don’t you  just make him eat.”  Autism does not work that way.  Wild mans diet consists of Stage two Gerber peas, orange creme yogurt,  KFC mash potatoes ,bread sticks, Cheerios, Trix, Pringles honey stix’s, fruit snacks, french fries,peanut butter and chips Dill pickle flavored or cheese flavored.  That’s it.  He will drink water, apple juice, Kool Aid, and milk.  He just turned six.  And even though his food choices are limited he is a happy healthy little boy.

I packed his lunch everyday this school year.  He ate with the regular kindergarten class and it did not take long for one of the little boys to make fun of him eating stage two peas.  Those are for babies are YOU a baby?  He came home and said, No eat peas momma I no baby.  I called the school to see what happened and was told the story.  The teacher talked with the little boy but the damage was already done.  And with one child in the class allergic to peanuts wild man’s limited list of foods was now down by two.  But we managed and made it through the school year.

For the last few days, he has been on this “Let me made food” kick.  He has help cut up vegetables, buttered bread, and tried his hand at making smoothies.  He is becoming a fine little chief.  If only he would eat what he made.   Well yesterday he decided he wanted pizza.  We turned on the over and got all the ingredients ready.  I keep it simple, pepperoni and cheese. He was so excited.  He arranged the pepperoni in straight lines and made sure there was enough cheese to cover all the sauce and crust.  He watched it bake while he reminded me it was the longest 15 minutes of his life.   When it was done I removed it from the oven so it could cool.  That’s when it happened.

 

      HE ASKED FOR A PIECE OF PIZZA!!!!

Pizza, Food, Italian, Cheese

At first I thought I misunderstood him.   I looked at him and asked, Did you say you want  a piece of pizza?  Yes momma,  I want that one (pointing to the square piece perfectly in the middle)  Alright then, let me get it for you.  Thanks momma, thanks alot. He was all smiles.  My husband and I stared at each other.  I quickly got everyone’s plates together and told my husband to get a plate for wild man.  If he asked for that piece of pizza he was going to get it.  My husband placed the plate in front of wild man at the table.  He looked at it and then sniffed it.  Again he smiled.  He looked over at me and asked, Me eat now momma?  Yes baby you can eat now.  So he touched it, he moved the pepperoni around, he pulled the cheese off, and then he took a bite.  And he swallowed.  Momma me not like the bread.  He said.  That’s okay buddy you don’t have to eat the crust.  Okay momma thanks.  So he sat at the table, picking at the pepperoni and at the cheese.  He licked the sauce off the crust and he ate dinner with us.  For the first time in over four years all of my kids were at the table eating the same thing….pizza.  And it was wonderful.   We have had pizza many nights for dinner over the last six years, why he decided last night he would eat it I will never understand, but I am ever so grateful he did.

To most this might not be a big deal.  It may sound silly.  To us this is huge.  For him to be able to try a new food without throwing up is a major accomplishment.  For him to sit at the table with us and staying with us for the full dinner is major.  The whole night was a miracle. For in that twenty minutes we were just a normal family.

 

Nothing about autism is normal.  Some days are just plain hard, but nights like last night give us hope.  Doctors told us he would not talk, yet at five he said his first sentence.  We were told he might not walk or run do to injuries that took place before he found his was into our home, but he not only runs he climbs and jumps.  When man says you can’t Our God says YES YOU CAN!! It’s all in His precious timing.

Wild man may never eat pizza again, or it could become one of his stable foods, only time will time. It may take another four years before he tries something new.  And that’s okay also.  For now we will celebrate the small victories because life is about the small victories.

 

From our beautiful chaos to yours celebrate in all things big and small.

Who am I?

In the beginning I was just a dream of my mother’s. Then I became a daughter, first born child, to my parent’s.They are truly like no other’s.

As a child I was a granddaughter, apple of their eyes, stay and play with me awhile, card playing, garden helper, and slumber night at grandpa and grandmas kind of gal. 

I am a big sister, though sometimes not the best but siblings argue from time to time I guess.

I am an aunt of two spunky teens, they make me smile oh how I miss seeing them it’s been quite awhile.

For awhile I was Dave’s wife, mother of two, then I became his ex-wife if people really only knew.

 I am a survivor of domestic violence. It took years to escape, I had it search within to figure out this was not my fate. 

But who am I?

I am a Christian. I love my Jesus, the hallelujah host, I am not perfect not even close, so thankful for the times God love me most.

I am a friend, been both a good one and a bad. I have been there for some at their weakest moments, yet lost some because I was to consumed with life events. 

I am now Todd’s wife, mother of seven. I really miss living in WV “almost heaven”

There I was wife, mom, foster mom, adoptive mom, and so much more. Here I feel a loneliness  like nothing before. 

I miss my foster group meetings and dinners with the family. I miss my best friend’s girls night outs and and surprised bags of peanut M&M candies.

Don’t get me wrong I love my kids, our new house and state, I just wish I was adjusting faster and could have an occasional husband date.

Here I am only mom and wife, and half the time I don’t feel I am even getting that right.

I am now a Tennessean, Mountaineer at heart, Packers are my Pro team after all I am smart. 

I still hate frogs and stormy nights, but love to held around bonfire lights.

I am a kisser of boo-boo’s, a taxi, and a toilet bowl cleaner, sometimes life maked me just a little meaner. 

I am who I am, I’m lucky and blessed sometimes though I wish I knew who “just me” was I guess.

Do You Ever Think of Them?

A letter to our birth mom(s) ….

All the little ones are tucked into bed. I have finished the second round of check-ins to cover them back up, change diapers and kiss them once more. Life may be busy and at times overwhelming but I would not change a thing.

It’s in the moments like this I find myself thinking of our birth moms. Our adoptions were not the typical ones you see play out on TV or like the ones in the newspaper ads. We did not submit our story to an expecting mother for her to look over our file and pick us to be her child’s forever parents. We do not have an open adoption were we(the adoptive parents and birth parents)can share photos and stories about how the kids are and what we both hope their future holds. We do not share stories about our own childhood in hopes to give them the same type of wonderful memories. No our story is nothing like that….so I wonder.

I wonder if on their birthdays do you think of them? Do you ask yourself ” I wonder what toys they like now or how tall are they now?” I wonder if you think to yourself “School is starting soon, will she like her new teacher?” ” Will he ride the bus?” I wonder do you miss late night cuddles and having the magicial mommy kiss that can make the biggest boo boos all better? I wonder if you miss hearing the phrases I love you mommy or Can you tuck me in tonight? I wonder if you even realize what you have lost or have the drugs completely consumed you? I wonder and wait for the next call to come in saying ,”she’s had another baby.” I wonder if you miss them. I wonder do you ever cry yourself to sleep? Do you catch yourself looking in the crowd to see if anyone looks like what you picture them to look like. I wonder if friends or family still ask you about them? I wonder what their lives would be like if the state had not stepped in to save them. A million thoughts and questions run through my mind, especially late at night while I rock our youngest back to sleep or while our son is judged by outsiders on his actions, things he can not help because of the drugs and neglect he had to go through. I get so mad at you and the things you’ve done. You have no idea the damage you placed on their lives because of your choices you made without thinking of the outcome for them. But then God reminds me if it was not for you I would not have them with me. So I wonder what do you think of me?

I am thankful and grateful that I have been given the chance to be their mom. I am thankful for the few talks we had as we waited outside courtroom doors. I am thankful for a system, though broken sometimes, allowed us to keep 4 siblings together and also allowed us to adopted one who had no one. I could not picture my life without them so I wonder what your life is like without them. I wonder if they have your smile, your laugh, or if they have your personality. Does she get her unruly behaviors from you, does he think and solve problems like you? I wonder if they will ask me questions about you later in life. I wonder how I will answer these questions. I wonder if they will thank me for giving them a chance at a normal life or will they recent me for keeping you away from them? How will I handle that? I wonder if you pray for them and wish them well in their new life. Or if once they were removed from your care you never gave them a second thought? I wonder if your ok. I wonder if you are safe. I wonder if you even care.

I know you never planned for drugs and alchol to take over your life. I know that having your children removed and placed in state care was not how you saw things when you were a little girl. I know you must have been angry, scared, and maybe a little ashamed. But I need you to know they are okay. They are better than okay they are great. Know that I love them. All of them. I love them with every beat of my heart. I love early morning wake ups to giggling down the hall. I love story time and playtime and all the times in between. Know that they are happy, sassy, talented, and yes they fight with each other like all siblings do. Know that I vowed to each of them they will always know how special they are each and every day. Know that I am grateful you had them and did not abort them. Thank you for giving them the gift of life. I am blessed to have them here. I am blessed to be their forever mom.

I may never know the answers to these questions. And I guess I will be ok with that. I am thankful God placed each of them in my arms. I am thankful He had a plan for them when life throw them a curve ball. I pray for you and your life choices. I pray things start to look up and help is received.

I will continue to pray for you I know the circumstances where not what either of us planned but because of you I am mom to my beautiful chaos. We are forever connected in God’s great plan.

From our beautiful chaos to yours its okay to question the unknown but dont get stuck there.Someday you may get the answers you are looking for. Until then just have faith in God’s greater plan.