What’s Best for Him

Our school year is well underway, our little loves are adjusting to their new teachers, bus drivers, and schedules….well most of them. Our littlest guy was not adapting well at all. While his brothers and sister were excited to see what their new school’s had to offer them he was terrified. Completely. Terrified. This year he would be in class without his brother. This year he had a male teacher. This year he would start without knowing anyone. Kindergarten can be a scary place. His preschool had some worries about him starting kindergarten. Academically he was ready. He knows all of his colors, he can count to 100, he knows his shapes, and he can write all the letters not the alphabet. He can even correctly spell his full name. He can even sign the alphabet (forward and backward) I think he is pretty smart for a new five year old. But kindergarten is more than A B C’s and 1 2 3’s. Socially he is not ready. We tried the kindergarten class, but within a few days we knew it was not going to work. His teacher said he would stay to himself, he would not answer (or even acknowledge) anyone that asked him a question. He basically shutdown on us all.

He did not want to get up in the mornings. He cried as we went to the bus. He would not talk about anything that happened during his day. He didn’t want to go to bed at night because he knew he had to get up and go to school the next morning. Our happy, go lucky, always making a joke kid was miserable. My momma heart broke for him. When the school called for our meeting I knew something had to change.

As I sat in a room with teachers and staff that barely knew my son, I questioned if we/I was doing the right thing for him. If I stuck to the plan with him staying in kindergarten he could come out of his shell in a few weeks/months and everything could be okay. He could also be completely miserable and in the end fail kindergarten and have to repeat it again next year. Or we could place him back in preschool and help him build on his social skills and possibly transition him into the kindergarten class a few days towards the end of the year and that way he would be ready for kindergarten next year. The choice was clear. He needed another year of preschool. But how would he adjust to yet another change this year?

Part of me wants both of my five year olds in kindergarten together. But I want what’s best for him, not what I pictured life would be. He needs this. His teacher knew I was worried about the decision we made, so she sent me a few photos through this first day. I can’t tell you how much those photos meant to me. And when he got off the bus from his “second first day” the smile on his face said it all. He was happy, so very happy.

I hope as the years go by he understands why he and his brother are not in the same grade. I hope he understands we did what we thought was best for him. I hope he understands that every decision we make is in hopes of giving him a better life and giving him the best opportunity we can. But those are all questions for a later day. For now I will focus on the smile on his cute little face and know that he is happy and feels comfortable in his new class. Here’s to a great preschool year!!

Feeling Less, but I know I am so much More

**** this is not my normal laugh at what my kids did post. No this time, this one is about me****

Blah blah blah,

That’s how I’ve felt the last few days (okay weeks) This whole hysterectomy thing has really hit me hard in ways I did not expect.

Back in 2006 I had a procedure done where I was told it would be nearly impossible for me to get pregnant again. At the time I was trapped in an unhealthy, abusive marriage so I was fine with not being able to have anymore children. Bringing more children into that situation would not have been good for anyone. So I accepted my fate and moved on with life.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself divorced and personally struggling with not being enough for anyone. I had been told for years I was not smart enough, or pretty enough, and not worth being loved by anyone. In my mind I wondered who would want someone so unworthy like me? Would anyone ever be able to love me and all my brokenness?

Things slowly changed when I was reintroduced to Todd. In 2009 I was still struggling with my self worth but he made me see myself in ways I had never seen myself before. I was lovable and beautiful in my own ways. He loved me for who he saw me to be not the person I had been told for years I was.

After we were married I often wished I could give him a child of his own, I knew it was close to impossible but I held onto that ever so slim chance that one day it could happen. As we became foster parents and eventually adopted our five little loves the personal need disappeared. That was until I heard the words “complete hysterectomy” come out of my doctors mouth.

Those words played over and over in my mind on my four hour drive home a month ago. This phrase meant I would never have another child. That slim chance I had clinched to over our marriage was now gone. I felt the struggles of my old inner self, doubting myself worth. I would be less of a women, less of a person, I would not be whole. I would not be enough. It’s strange how things you have no control over mess with you on a deeper level.

I didn’t want to but I had surgery a few weeks ago. Those first few days after I don’t remember much, other than my mom coming into the room and asking my if I needed anything or asking me what cartoons the kids could watch (eight year old viruses a two year old. Got to find a middle ground) As I started to physically heal my emotions were all over the place. I caught myself thinking What will my husband think of this me? What if I can’t be the same me I was before surgery?

I could not do much of anything so it was the perfect time to dive into the Bible and spend some one on one time with my Lord. Page after page lead me to a story of someone who thought they to were not enough but God used them anyway. In His eyes we are enough. In fact we are more than enough when we seek His guidance and look to Him for our strength. My “inside parts” do not define who God wants me to be. They are not the only things that make me a woman and I am certainly not less of a woman now that they are gone.

Our society has, for lack of a better word, has brainwashed by setting a strong definition as to what a “woman” is. But that’s not ALL a woman is. We are strong, beautiful, independent, confident, caring, nurturing, and loving. Some of us have no children some of us have ten kids. So of us work outside the home some are stay at home wife’s/mom’s. Some of us run marathons while others prefer to dance. We are all different, yet we are all beautiful in the eyes of our Lord. He does not make mistakes He only makes masterpieces.

Do I feel different? Maybe a little. But I know I am still the same person I was. It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. My grandmother use to always work on them. Sometimes we would run across a puzzle she had picked up at a yard sale or at Goodwill and she would have “extra” pieces. After she fixed the puzzle she would just throw the other pieces out because they were no longer needed. The puzzle was already beautiful. I no longer needed my “extra pieces”. God knew I would still be me.

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 ❤

 

 

 

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.

Then Jesus moments

Hello my friends. I hope the New Year is treating you all kind. So far it’s been good to me.

I was excited to get to back to church as the new year unfolded. I had surgery on my back in November and between the recovery and holidays I had not been able to go. (No worries the kids and I still got our Jesus on with songs and praise here at the house. They love “Jesus music”) I hate missing church and was thrilled to be back surrounded by fellow believers.

The message was out of John. A message that I have heard many times over the years. Short version: Jesus is away teaching when He receives word that his friend Lazarus had fallen ill. By the time Jesus made it back to his friend, Lazarus was died. Then Jesus spoke “Lazarus come out” and Lazarus did. (You can read John 11 1-44 for the full scripture text)

That’s the power of Jesus. That’s the beauty of miracles.

What are your Then Jesus moments? This was the question our Pastor asked. And I have pondered the answer to this question for over a week. Have I even had a Then Jesus moment? The answer is yes. Many actually. They might not be as big as Lazarus rising from the dead, but they have saved my life in more ways than one.

The night my husband (now ex-husband) tried to end my life comes to mind. In the mist of the attack I begged for my life, he laughed and said he could throw me over the banister and everyone would assume I had fallen down the steps. I dangled over the staircase with thoughts of my children and family racing through my head Then Jesus spoke to me and said “You are not alone I have you.” As I felt Gods presence I found myself back on the floor. He had changed his mind about throwing me over.

After my divorce I focused on my two children. I had no interest in finding someone. I would not put myself or my kids in a position to be hurt again. Then Jesus brought Todd into my life. He made me smile again, laugh again, and love again. Things I thought I would never do again. For the first time in years I felt safe, loved and wanted.

Then Jesus placed us on the journey of foster care. Our world has changed in so many ways not only by the children we have been blessed to adopt but also with the children that were with us for just a season. Our eyes and hearts have been opened to things I did not expect. My older children have grown in the process as well. They take their roles as Big Sissy and Big Bubby very serious, it warms my heart just thinking about it.

With our children we have experienced Then Jesus moments countless times. From car accidents to illnesses, college acceptances letters to working IEP’s, from autism diagnosis to RAD diagnosis, and everything in between. The fact is Then Jesus moments happen all the time, we just need to recognize them. They may be moments were you decide what job to take, or how many kids to adopt. They may be moments where you get to make an unplanned trip back home to see your mamaw. You get to sing with her and she asks about all the kids. The following week you get the call she’s gone. They may be moments of healing from illness, or cancer, or pain. They may be moments your autistic son says I love mom. They may be moments of all your kids get along. Then Jesus moments happen everyday everywhere. We have to open our eyes and see more of what is going on around us.

We may not all of moments like Lazarus, and that’s okay. Our moments make us who we are who God wants us to be. Take a few minutes (or days) and think about all the Then Jesus moments in your life. I’m sure it will bring a smile to your face.

Thank you Jesus for all of my Then Jesus moments. You have been with me through my darkest nights and brightest days. Your unending love brings me comfort when I can’t make sense of this world. Thank you for believing in me and providing me comfort when I need it the most. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us next.

Love and prayers always

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.

The X Factor: School Life for Our Autistic Son 


I attended my first IEP meeting for this school year for wild man a few weeks ago.  As a mom I want the best for my kids. I want them to have a great education and be able to succeed. As a mom of an autistic child I want these things and so much more.

 The meeting went well. His new teacher, OT, speech director, principal and his teacher from last year all love him.  Which makes me feel like we made the right decision on the School.  We went over his daily schedule and how we could make it better for him.  This year he will have his major subjects in a regular classroom while his afternoons will be spent in the classroom equipment for special needs (this is the classroom which make us choose the school in the first place). Change is hard for him but I want what’s best for him.  

The meeting was filled with comments like “he is doing so great” “he is working so hard” and “he has come a long way”. All of which made me smile because he is doing great and working hard. And he has come a long way, a very long way.  It’s in these moments that I get lost and almost forgot he is autistic.  Everyone bragging on him and telling funny stories about things he has done.  I love seeing other people’s faces when they talk about him.  They just light up he has that effect on people once they take time to get to know him. 

But then there comes the reality.  Take this work page for example.  He scored a 3 out of 10.  I know placing him in the regular classroom is supposed to help him build social skills and help him become more independent.  But he is so lost when it comes to the actual school work.  I don’t want him to be overlooked or just passed through because of his disabilities. I want him to have a chance to learn and to grow just like any mother would.  I know many of you are thinking “it’s just one paper or he is just in 1st grade” but that’s my point. This is just the beginning. What happens now and how he is treated will affect the way things go from here on out. He does not bring many graded papers home but when he does most notes are “he tried hard” At what point will he become completely lost and what nothing to do with School? Will he always be this happy go lucky boy or will the struggles become to much for him the bear?  I worry because it’s my job to make sure he receives the best possible education he can receive. I worry that the other kids will start calling him names or talking about him because he does not get the answers right.  I worry constantly about how his peers receive him.  

But then my son does the most wonderful thing.  As I look at all the X’s on his papers and the comments my son, my beautiful intelligent son points at the papers and says “look momma I got this one right” and smiles great big.  Even in a world full of negativity and large red and green X’s my son only sees the good, he only sees the beauty. As his mom I worry about him in this crazy world we live in.  People are so cruel to each other and I am scared that the things that make him unique in Gods eyes will get him teased or even hurt in this world.  But God has given my son a unique way of looking at things. He only sees the good in people and in things.  He does not notice those that stare at him or say hurtful things about him. I am truly thankful for that.  As his mom I need to try and see the world the way he sees it.  I need to find the good.

So yes we celebrate the three right answers, because a year or two ago none of this would have even been possible. We celebrate that he can now write his name and that his teacher said he is now sitting at his desk up to three minutes at a time. (This is huge for him) We celebrate that he has even sat at the dinner table with us a few times this month and we were able to have dinner as a family(and this is huge for him). We celebrate the red and green X’s because they show us progress. He is moving forward in all areas of his life.  We celebrate because God has made this prefect little guy ours and we are the ones that get to watch him grow and succeed at life.   

We celebrate because we are blessed.  

Thank you wild man for opening my eyes to more than just the negative.  Thank you for helping me see there is beauty in everything, even in X’s.