I had a stroke at 42

When I think of Living Wills I think in the future. I see myself at 80 or 90. I’m older, my kids are grown, my life feels complete. Never once did I see myself at 42 with my little loves surrounding me hoping that an ambulance or someone would get to me in time.

But that’s where I found myself on March 29th. Home alone with my five little ones… having a stroke with no one around.

The kids had been at my parents for a few days for spring break. I had picked them up earlier that day and now we were relaxing at the house. My three year old asked if we could exercise while my eight year old rolled her eyes and the boys played. I looked at the clock and figured I had time for some push-ups and a shower before I had to start dinner.

We were both acting silly and giggling, working out with her is so much fun. At the start of our third series I became real dizzy and extremely hot. I laid my head down to catch my breath while little miss continued to dance away. She laid her hands on me and asked mommy you ok? I tired to get up but I could not. My five year old son ran in screaming he wanted popcorn. It took everything in me to pull myself and walk into the kitchen. I tried several times to type in two minutes for the popcorn and could only get numbers like 55 or 33. I knew that was not correct but I knew I could listen until the popcorn stopped popping and get it out. I made four small bowls and told the kids to come. When I went to walk into the living room everything went dark. I was yelling for my kids to come but I could only get out “Sierra” over and over. After a few minutes my eight year old came out saying “Mom Sissy is NOT here stop yelling for her!” I placed my hands on her shoulders and tried to explain I needed help but all I could get out was “Sierra Sierra” By the look on her face she knew something was wrong. She looked for Sissy in my phone but could not find her but she did find her dad. I hit the auto dial and heard him answer, I tried to talk but it was broken. He knew something was wrong and called the ambulance and raced home.

Time stood still. My kids, two of whom have autism, were running around unaware of how bad mom really was.

The ambulance pulled in and the kids flipped out. The Lights.The sirens. To much stimulation for my little ones. They come in and I tried to get them to shut the door but no one understand me. My son was running towards the door, if he got out he would be gone. The paramedic saw me getting upset and asked what could she do I pointed at my son by the door and my five year old and with every ounce in me I managed to get out “both autistic” Her eyes locked on mine and she understood without me saying anything else. She got wild mans attention and closed the door.

I could hear the kids crying and asking where’s mommy going questions but my mind could not focus on anything. I was rushed out the door to the waiting ambulance. The EMT’s assured me that they would watch the kids until my husband or parents could get to the house.

The ride to the hospital was a blur. I remember opening my eyes and hearing them ask my husband a list of questions. He was holding my hand and he looked terrified. They turned to me and seeing the look on his face I told them to save me.

I could not feel my left side. The hours turned into days. My memory for the last six months is simply gone.

But by God’s grace I survived.

With therapy I have regained the use of my leg. My voice is becoming stronger and clearer each day. Ironically the spinal cord stimulator that works my left arm, thanks to a car accident in 2000, that tells my nerves to “work” continued to tell my nerves to “work” even though my brain was telling them no shutdown.

I don’t recall much about those days in the hospital. But I do know God placed me in the right hospital to get me to the right rehab center where I was blessed with amazing physical therapist and speech therapist. Those ladies and the other patients I met while there saved me.

I may never be the person I was before my stroke. I may never fully recover my memories or have the answer to why this happened to me. Heck it’s taken me a month to type this short post, I’ve missed writing and you guys. But I do know I am still here. I survived. With each day I will get stronger. My kids still need their momma and I still have a lot of love to give.

And that my friends is something worth celebrating.

Celebrate the small victories, those are the ones that happen every day ❤️

Just checking in

Hello all,

I’ve been away for a little while, I apologize for that. I hope all is well with everyone.

This summer has been crazy. I won’t go into all the details but let’s just say I appreciate all the prayers for my close few and all of you out there that noticed I wasn’t here.

So many things have changed in a short amount of time. So quick, so unexpected.

I am a firm believer that God has a purpose for our lives and two years ago that purpose landed us in Bristol TN. The thought of leaving home back then scared me more than I care to admit. Our time there flew by.

We did not plan on being foster parents while there, but God always has a plan. We became friends with some amazing people and through those people conversations about the need for foster parents took place. People saw us as a normal family, not as the crazy family that adopted those kids. Our children were just children, not adopt kids out of foster care. We were free to be who we are. Maybe our time there was meant to get people talking about just that, foster care kids are normal kids.

We were able to help a few more little loves enter and exit our home while here (because our seven was not enough in God’s eye). With each one we opened our hearts so they could be broke again in order for these precious little ones to know what love was, to know what a family felt like, for them to know it’s ok to feel scared, angry about the situation. I would have my heart broke over and over again even knowing what I know now about their situations. They deserve to know someone out there cares. Foster care is hard but I would not change what we do.

We still had baby N when life happened. I don’t pretend to know why things happen, but they do happen and life takes a turn. After much prayer over the situation my husband and I decided moving back to our home State was what was best for our family. Moving during the school year would not be good for our children especially for our son with autism. So the move had to be made over the summer. This meant saying goodbye to baby N. She would not be going back to her momma, she would have to be placed in another foster home. My heart sank. I ran over different scenarios in my head trying to come up with a solution for her to stay with us until her momma could get her back, any solution. There was only two options: 1) she be placed in a different foster home or 2) her mom sign her over. I knew which one would happen. Handing her off to another foster mom just about killed me. I’m sure she is adjusting well, but I so miss her. I wanted to be the one cheering her mom along, helping her get her life back together so she could get her little one back. I wanted to be there, but life happens. I pray she knows how much she was loved by us. It’s times like this I want to question Why God, Why? Why did You bring her into our lives if we were only going to have to say goodbye so soon? I don’t know that answer, I just have faith that it was part of His plan.

We are so thankful to be back around family, yet we miss the “community family” we had down there. How did such a short time there change us so much?

I pray we accomplished what God wanted us to do there. I don’t know what this move has in store for us I pray we continue do follow His path for us. I pray we see His plan clearly and that we don’t hesitate in doing what He asks of us. I pray our children (as well as us) adjust well to their new surroundings and that they make friends quickly. I pray over the little things and the giant things. I pray continuously about this move and all it entails.

I will forever cherish the friendships I made there. I am forever thankful for those little loves that called us Momma C and Daddy T while there. I am so thankful I was there to see so many eyes open up about the need for foster parents. I know so many children will benefit from those opened hearts and homes. Two years ago Bristol was an unknown land, today and all my tomorrows it will be my home away from home. ❤️

I’m a Kid too… A Foster Child’s Point of View

I am more than a foster child.  I’m a kid too.

I could be a newborn, a toddler, or a teen or maybe somewhere in between.

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I may arrive at noon or in the middle of the night.

My clothes might be to small or not fit me just right. 

I’m full of emotions. I could be shy, angry, frightened, or scared. I could be crying, withdrawn, and may even avoid eye contact.

I may be hungry I may be cold. 

School could be hard for me.  New place, new faces, new friends, and new rules.

Don’t judge me because I am in foster care…

                                                          I’M A KID TOO!!!

I laugh 

I sing 

I play 

I dance

I like sports.

I like music.

I like hanging out with friends.

I like watching cartoons.

I like to eat ice cream 

I like to play video games

I like going to the movies 

I need to feel safe

I need food in my tummy

I need to feel wanted

I need a warm place to sleep

I need to feel excepted

I need to know I am not alone

Above all, I need to be loved.  After all I am a kid too.

There are over 700,000 children in foster care across the United States, over 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted.  These children are dealing with things that most adults could not handle and yet they are expected to “deal with it”  They don’t want to be seen as ‘”the foster child”, they want to be seen as a kid.  Don’t assume that because he or she is in foster care they are a bad kid.  Most children in foster care are in the system because of what their parents or caregivers done NOT because of their own actions. All they want is to feel safe and know that someone is looking out for them.  They want a normal life just like every other child does.  Let them have that life.  Let them be little.  Let them live a life without labels.  Let them be a KID ❤

 

 

 

Beautiful Chaos is now AVAILABLE!!!

Hello everyone,

For those of you who have been following the release of my first book Beautiful Chaos Our Story about Foster Care, Adoption, Faith and Love, the wait is over!! It is now available.

I want to thank all of you who have supported this project in some way. For those that helped me fund the project THANK YOU!! For those that have prayed for the book and for me Thank you!! For those that gave me the encouragement to get it started and then to get it completed Thank you!! I am truly humbled by what is taking place.

Thank you to my beautiful family for allowing me to share a glimpse of our life with the world. Thank you to my wonderful husband who not only lives this crazy life with me but also has had to listen to me over the last few months give him play by play details as our story became a book reality. Mostly I want to thank God for allowing us to be a small part in His beautiful masterpiece. He has allowed us to be part of some many lives on this foster care adventure. He has been my comfort when a child is placed back with a birth parent or relative, He has been my guide when I did not know what to do, He has been my protector when situations have become unsafe, but above all He has been my friend that has walked with me every step of the way. To You oh Lord, be ALL the glory.

This book is for you!

If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent or have ever wondered what it takes to foster a child, if you have ever thought about adopting, or if you have ever questioned your plan in Gods story I encourage you to read our story. My hope is that it inspires at least one person/one family to open their heart to the idea of becoming foster parents. If one child gains a safe place to lay his or her head at night then everything struggle and every worry in making this book a reality was worth it. It’s all about the kids. Always

You can find the book at the following websites:

WestBowPress.com

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Check it out and let me know what you think

From our beautiful chaos to yours, may you find a way to make your mark In this great big world. One act of kindness at a time

Grieving a Foster Child

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I looked over at the empty crib and tears ran down my face. I need to take it down but my heart is just not ready. Being a foster mom hurts sometimes.

We loaded up the van this morning and headed off to church, daddy T and I both had this empty feeling we were forgetting something. But we were not, you are no longer here. Being foster parents brings sadness sometimes.

As I washed up last weeks laundry I ran across your favorite outfit and I lost it. Tears ran down my face and all daddy T could do was hold me and tell me everything would be alright. But he too had tears in his eyes. Being a foster parents is painful sometimes.

The kids have looked for you since you left, Wild Man does not understand why you are not here and keeps saying Momma go get Baby P bring her home please. I force a smile and tell him you are so happy at your new home and that I’m sure you are doing just fine. But my mind races and wonders if you are ok and if you are safe. Being a foster mom makes one worry sometimes.

I found myself wide awake at 2 am, that was our one on one time. I wonder if you were awake and thinking to yourself where is she? Why is she not singing to me? Why is she not holding me? Again I find the tears rolling down my face. I grab your favorite blanket, I’ve not washed it yet so it still smells like you, and I cry myself to sleep. Foster care is not easy sometimes.

In all our years of fostering we have had to say goodbye to many little loved. You my little love have been to hardest to let go. God blesses us not once but twice to be part of your story. We know that reunification or placement with a family member is always the priority, but when you came back to us we could not help but dream. I allowed myself to see you as part of our forever family. I allowed my mind to dream of first days of school and dances and family outings. I allowed myself to go where no foster parent mind should ever go. I saw our future and you were in it. This journey can be cruel sometimes.

So I didn’t see it coming. As I sat there in the courtroom listening to the judge I heard words I did not want to hear. I was not prepared for the change of events. I went in thinking you would be here forever and left with an hour to pack all your things for you to leave. Being a foster parent is heart wrenching sometimes.

But that’s how this goes. The system is not perfect and I pray those that do not know you those that have never held you those that do not love you like I do I hope they have made the decision God would have made. I pray He looks after you and keeps you safe. I pray He gives you comfort and that you feel Him near you. I pray you will always know how much we love you.

If we would not have stepped out in faith and followed Gods plan for us we would have never met you. We would have never seen your smiling face. We would have never held you or seen you crawl. We would have never falling in love with you. Being a foster parent is beautiful sometimes.

We will grieve for you and we will miss you. We will find things through the house over the next few weeks (maybe months) that will remind us of you. It will be painful but also such a blessing. For these things will remind us of YOU. A smile will cross my face and I will get to dream of you again. And that will make me happy. Foster parenting can be a blessing sometimes.

If we open our home again to the next little one who needs us, we are not replacing you. You could never be replaced. We are just answering Gods call to help one more. But that decision has not been made; for now we will just take time to heal from losing you.

Fostering is not for the weak but in our weak moments God gives us comfort and strength to carry us through. Thank you Jesus for allowing us to be part of her life over the last six months. Thank you for allowing us to see her smile and hear her laugh. But mostly thank you God for being You. Thank you for allowing us to be your hands and feet. To You oh Lord be the glory.

The Worry of the Unknown

I lay here in bed and I can hear her stir in the crib. She whimpers for just a moment then she finds her bottle. My mind takes me to the day I picked her up from the hospital. Where has the time gone?

I could never do what you do, I would love them and not want to give them back. Why put yourself through the pain of losing them? You’ve done your part let someone else do it now. You are such a blessing/saint to do what you do. You must be nuts to take in another kid. Aren’t you afraid you will become to attached? I have heard these questions or variations of them for the last eight years. My reason I do what I do is sound asleep in her crib. Her tummy is full, her clothes fit her and they have been freshly washed. She giggles at the sound of my voice and she is already saying da da. She squeals with delight as our children play around her. She is safe and she is loved; oh so loved. This is normal for her, we are all she knows. Here she is surrounded by love from our children and love from us. The idea that it could all change with the next meeting hangs over us. But that’s foster care.

No one said it would be easy, if it were there would be more people willing to step up. I’m not heartless I feel pain. Over the years as children have come and gone from our home my heart as felt the sting of a broken system. We don’t just love the child while they are in our home, they become a piece of our hearts. And once they are gone that piece never quite heals. They will forever be part of us, part of God’s masterpiece for our lives for He allowed us to love them for a season.

Baby girl does not know what my worries are about things coming up. She does not understand that her fate will be decided by someone who has never met her, or held her, or seen her smile. Her life is in the hands of people that see her as a case number. They are not the ones who have rocked her to sleep, or kissed a boo-boo, or heard her laugh. But God knows her and He loves her.

She may never remember any of the things that led up to her coming to us. She may be here one day and gone the next. Will it hurt, YES it will, but God has a plan for her. I don’t know what her future holds but I know who holds it. And it is His Will, not ours, that we must follow.

I would not trade my time with any of our fosters for anything. I grew as a person with each placement. I can only hope they remember the love we have for them as they go on with their new lives.

As for this sweet little one we will take it day by day. The months have passed so quickly but these next few days will drag by as we wait. Foster care as taught me so many things one is a huge lesson on patients. Lord help me, guide me and protect her this week.

Until then I will hold her, I will protect her and love her as my own. I am a foster mom

Looking at His future

We had our mid-year parent teacher conference for Wild Man last week. I knew by the marks on his papers things were not going great in the traditional classroom. As a mother of a child who has autism, these meetings are dreaded. I know he is not on the same level as the other children his age, I know that he is falling behind, and that bothers me.

As I chatted with his speech therapist and his autism teacher before going into the meeting I addressed my concerns. They both shared stories about my little guy that brought smiles to their faces and told me it was natural to be concerned but he was really doing great. When his teacher was ready we walked in together and sat down. His teacher went over his test scores which were extremely low. She explained that he does not do well with timed test which was part of the problem but the test are mandatory so she had to give them to him. She then explained that even though it does not show up on the written test my Wild Man has grown leaps and bounds in class. He is starting to use full sentences, he is holding a pencil, he is engaging with other students, he is setting in his seat for at least 10 minutes at a time, he is making friends, and he is making eye contact here and there. All wonderful new skills for my son but all things that standard testing do not look at. I was excited to hear he was doing so well, relieved in many ways.

But I still questioned things like his spelling words, he has spelled one correct out of the last sixty. Only one. Math is a struggle. And homework when he does have it is a nightmare. I don’t want him passed just to be passed. I also don’t want him overlooked. He falls in the middle. He is doing to well to be in the autism room full time but he is not up to level with the regular class. He is somewhere in between. I am thankful he has an aide to help him through the day.

As we discussed plans for the remainder of the year one of his therapists said they wanted to help give him his best possible life. His best possible life. That phrase hit me hard.

As a mom I have thought about all of my kids futures. I see them all doing things like going off to college, getting jobs, moving out, getting married and starting a family. With Wild Man I want these things as well but I also know they may not be a reality. He may never go off to college or hold a traditional 40 hour a week job. He may be with us for our life time. If something happens to myself and my husband who will care for him? There are so many questions and concerns I have about his future, I worry but I can’t let it consume me.

He is in good hands right now at his school. They understand my concerns and they are working on goals they feel he can reach. They genuinely care about him and his education. I could not ask for a better staff of teachers and therapists to be working with him. he has been blessed with wonderful teachers since his preschool days. We will take this one day at a time. I have a life time to worry about his future, for now I will enjoy my silly, loving, crazy little boy. We will get through this together just as I promised him the first time I held him. After all autism is not who he is, autism is just a small part of what makes him my son. My wonderfully, sweet, amazing, brilliant son. I am so lucky to be his momma.

Education and Autism

Let me start off by saying fair/equal education should be available for ALL children. It’s that simple. No child (or their parent) should have to fight for an education that many take for granted. However, if you have a child with special needs I will warn you it’s a fight. Every. Single. Day.

I will say that where we live now seems to have a better system in place then where we once lived. But it’s still a struggle. All I want, all any decent parent wants, is for their son or daughter to succeed. That starts at home and at school.

My wild man is almost seven. He attends a public school. In order for his needs to be met we have an IEP in place (some states call it a 504) Basically it is a plan that lays out my sons strengths and weaknesses. His plan gives him scheduled speech times and OT times durning school. His plan also calls for an aid to help get him on task throughout the day. Sounds perfect right? I thought so at first.

Last year he was in an autism/special needs classroom. The class size was eight children and eight aids plus the teacher. There was a calming room, sensory toys and tools, and even an OT room. He’s teacher taught him to hold a pencil and he finally was able to write his name. He was excited to go to school. He loved his class and peers. It was perfect and he was doing amazing. To amazing according to the school. At the end of the year it was agreed (I went along with it thinking they knew what they were talking about) that he would be placed in a normal classroom for his first grade year.

Normal, an odd word in the land of autism. Nothing about our lives or wild man is normal. Why oh why did I think this would work. The first few weeks went okay. I think he was excited to be back at school. But as the days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months he slowly started hating going to school. One of the things that aggregate him (okay me) is that he is now expected to do spelling test. I know, I know all kids have to take spelling test. I get that. But he is still working on forming letters, how is he suppose to spell a word if he does not know all the letters to the word? In the last six weeks he has managed to get one word correct. One. One out of sixty. The word was frog. When he showed me his paper he beamed with pride. Look momma I did good. Frog ribbit ribbit. The nine red X’s did not phase him. But they crushed me. Another his personal aid has four other students. How is she suppose to care for my son’s needs when she has four other kids? Thank you budget cuts. He has sensory issues so he eats only a few foods. Two of those being peanut butter and Stage two peas, yes the baby food peas. Well he can’t take peanut butter because someone in the other class has a peanut allergy. As far as the peas, a boy in his class called him a baby for eating baby food so those are now out as well.

He is lost and I don’t know what to do. Part of me was so excited to hear he was doing so well at the end of last year, but part of me worried that he would get over looked and left behind in a regular classroom. My fear as become his reality. He hates going to school now. And even though he can’t articulate why he hates it I have a feeling I know why.

So, I started looking for a new school. And I thought I had found one. It was a private school so the classroom sizes were small and they worked on an individual plan based program virus the whole class learning the same thing. It seemed to be the perfect school, until I was told how much it would cost. One year over 12,000 dollars. Wow. We are a one income family currently with six little ones in the house. There is no way we can afford that kind of tuition or justify it. That’s when it hit me, we need public schools that specialize in special needs. Why should it cost so much more for them to receive a descent education?

It’s time for better education for my son and all the other children who have autism, or Down syndrome, or any special need. Why should they get left behind or overlooked? Why should their disability be a magnet for educators or providers to charge more for their services? Have you looked at the cost for some of the sensory products or equipment for those with special needs? It’s insane. What’s a mom to do?

We fight. Day in day out. We become the face the principal and staff at the school dread to see. We make sure our concerns are being heard and that they are being met. We become moms like Maya DiMeo off of Speechless. We go in demanding and we don’t back down. Ooooh good you’re here...again

The fact is I would love for my son to be what society defines as normal. I think all special needs parents feel that from time to time. It’s natural for us to want our children to fit in. But the reality is he is not. He was made to stand out. No matter how hard he tries or how much I pray he will never be “normal” and that’s ok. God made him in His image so my son is exactly how he is suppose to be. He may learn different,act different, and talk different but different does not make his less. As his mom it is my job to make sure everyone sees that.

I will fight for you, for your education, for your independence, and for you to be excepted. Mostly I will fight so others can see you the way I see you. My brilliant, creative, funny and loving son. Don’t worry wild man, momma’s got this!

Beautiful Chaos Book Funding Link

hello everyone,

As many of you know I have sent off my first book to be published.  I am super excited and can’t wait to hear what people think about our journey through foster care and adoption.   We have hit a small problem however.  There were some fees I was not expecting and I am looking for people willing to help raise the money.  If we hit the goal I will select 7 people who have donated at random and they will receive an autographed copy of the book.   If you can’t donate that’s perfectly fine, please share the link and pray for this project.   I truly feel God intends to use this book to help others take that leap of faith and become foster parents/adoptive parents.  The link is below:

From our beautiful chaos to yours, thank you.  Together we can make this happen

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Robot Mom 2.0

In order to fully understand this post please go back and read my blog Part Mom/Part Robot sort of.

My last surgery, I was told the new batteries they were placing in my SCS’s (spinal cord stimulators) would last me between five and six years. That was last June. This past Friday I found myself back in the surgery room undergoing the knife one more time to replace the batteries. Where did my five years go?

Dealing with back pain/neck pain has become part of my normal. I do not complain about, it’s just part of who I am. Maybe it’s because I don’t complain that people do not see me as someone who suffers with a chronic pain. Just to clear things up not all illnesses or health issues can be seen. Just because someone is not in a wheelchair, or using an oxygen tank, or someone is not using crutches does not mean they are fine. Many chronic illnesses or pain issues can not be seen with the naked eye.

It is much easier to say I’m fine when someone asks how I’m feeling than to actually go into what all hurts. It’s been my experience that when most people ask “How are you doing?” they are just making small talk they don’t actually want to know how your doing. The truth is most days I am fine. The SCS’s have really made it possible for me to keep a somewhat normal life. But there are days I hurt, days I can’t move, days I wish the accident never happened. On those days I wish people could really see what’s it’s like for someone to live in constant pain. Days like today.

A few months ago my generator started saying it was time to replace my batteries. I thought there had to be a mistake so I called the doctor and scheduled an appointment. When I went in I was met by the doctor and the programming team. They laid me down and ran the scans to see what was going on.

They adjusted the programs and reset the batteries and sent me on my way. That lasted three weeks before my unit started flashing replace batteries soon. I called the office back and scheduled yet another appointment. At this appointment it was confirmed that my SCS’s were in fact dying. Both batteries were going bad, just my luck. After father investigation it was determined that my spine is covered in scar tissue (countless surgeries will do that) making it hard for the electrical current to get from the leds to my spine. This was making the batteries work over time to get push the current through in order to keep the SCS’s working. That in turn drained the batteries, which is why my five to six year battery life only made it a year and four months.

So Friday I had yet another surgery. New larger batteries were placed in my units (one on the left side of my lower stomach area and one on my right side lower back area). They worked on my one on my back first then flipped me over and replaced the one in my stomach. In a few days I should be back to my normal but today I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

This will fix the problem short term but there is still scar tissue around my spine so another, more complicated, surgery will be needed down the road. Sooner than later. It seems to be never ending.

But even with all the downsides I am thankful. I do hate surgery but because of it I am still able to walk. The scars will fade and the pain will subside. I am thankful because with each passing year the medical community gets closer to finding a way to permanently fixing those in chronic pain. I am thankful because with my SCS’s I am no longer on pain medication. I am thankful that I am still able to be the mother and wife God planned for me to be. I am thankful because I still believe in miracles and one day I will be healed. And oh what a day that will be.

From our beautiful chaos to yours don’t be so quick to judge others. Just because you can see their illness or see what causes their pain does not mean it does not exist. The strongest people I know cry behind closed doors in pain so they don’t worry those they love.