Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy 5th Birthday Sweet Pea

Dear Sweet Pea,

You are FIVE today!  How in the world are you five?  One whole hand, or a "Hand Full" as you would say.  Of course, while you are five numerically, you speak like your thirty.  You say things so straight and serious that people can't help to laugh.

In a couple of weeks you will be starting Kindergarten.  I'm not sure how we go to this point.  You are so ready.  You are ready to spread your wings and go make lots and lots of friends.  School can be hard though, it can destroy a person self esteem.  So I want you to remember are one amazing little girl.

You have a deep love for people and have a way of forming amazing relationships with people.  Use that gift to tell others about Christ. Use it to love on people in a deep and personal way.

You are the most forgiving person I know.  You don't hold grudges.  You don't keep lists.  It teaches me and humbles me everyday.

Recently you started noticing so many things outside of yourself, it makes you so grown up.  I came down for a date for Daddy and you looked at me and declared, "You look really nice Mom."  You growing up is bittersweet.  I will miss the little you but I look forward to the relationship I hope we have in the future.  I look forward to watching you grow into a woman and go off on your own adventures.

I know your Daddy and I have asked you to be part of life that you probably would not have choosen yourself.  I want you to know that we don't expect you to follow in our footsteps.  However, we hope that one day you will understand why we choose this path, why God called us to it.  We pray that you would find the path God would call you too and you would follow it with your whole heart.

We love you sweet girl!  We hope your fifth birthday is an incredible day and your fifth year is full of amazing memories! 

Love, Mom

Monday, July 28, 2014

Baseball Season

We recently finished up our first season of sports with our kids.  I've always wanted to do a Getting Real on our views of sports, but this is not that post.  Maybe someday soon I will do that.

Sweet Pea up at bat.
Big Brother and Sweet Pea played t-ball this year.  Yes, the one base, no outs type of t-ball.  It was absolutely the perfect introduction for our family into sports.  The kids had a great coach who worked hard with them.  They were on the same team, which was also fun.  The practices took place right before the games and the games were only on Saturday.  For a busy family, this was a great way to work around our schedule.

Big Brother up at bat.
Sweet Pea in particular got a lot better through out the season.  We've also seen improvement

in Big Brother.  Next year it will be a bit more competitive for him, but it was good to have a year of the basics.

Thankful for these four ant their commitment to attend games.  By the end of the season all six grandparents where able to make it to at least one game.
We are excited to possibly have all four playing next year, although we are assuming Little Man will do so with assistance from us. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Getting Real: Questioning a Diagnosis

It has been just over a year since we received the official diagnosis that Little Man had Autism.  It came with relief, answers, and help.  However, in the last year I have found myself living in a lot of doubt.

Autism.  It's a pretty hot topic.  As of now there is only speculation to the cause and "cure" of Autism.  A debate that I am not willing to engage in.  The process to diagnose it can be tedious or simple.  We went the tedious route.  We had phone interviews, a questionnaire (300 pages long), documents from the school, developmental reports, a developmental screening done by a team of experts, and an appointment with the specialist who made the official diagnosis.  It was not done lightly.

At first all of this offered reassurance that yes the diagnosis was right.  However, as time has gone one I have spent hours wondering if something went wrong.  I feel like I'm staninding with a wall of evidence behind me but doubt makes me unable to stand on it's assuances.

Tony and I have sat in a room where we have had multiple professionals say things like, "well, I'm not sure what you told them but..." or "we don't see that here, he's NOT doing that" or "we know a lot of kids have been misdiagnosed."  The "I'm not sure how he got this disagnosis" tends to sting.

As Tony and I dealt with a new situation in which Little Man was not coping well, Tony looked at me and said, "This is how I know it wasn't wrong."  The evidence is there, the behaviors are there.  However, as a mom living in a world that wants to debate my child's disability more then it wants to help my child with his disability it can seem very lonely.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Living Life with Littles: Daily Helper

My kids ALL want to be the one to choose the show.  They ALL want to help in the kitchen.  They ALL want to pick the drink for supper.  NONE of them want to help with dishes.  NONE of the them want to set the table.  Based on this post by I Can Teach My Child we dealt with it all in one fell swoop. 

Every day, based on age order, we get a new helper.  Each child spends 3 days doing something and one day "off".  Sometimes that means they do or get a lot and other times it doesn't really affect them.  It all depends on how our day goes.

Choice Day:

If it's their choice day then that child gets to make all the choices for the day.  They also get to be first at everything.  So they get to choose the show, what we have to drink for supper, what they want for lunch, and on and on.  They love it when it's their choice day.  I love that I'm not constantly trying to remember whose turn it is for each indivual thing.

Kitchen Helper:

The Kitchen Helper gets to help with meals.  They also set the table at supper time.  Over all they really like this job and I like that it gets them in the kitchen more.

Dishes Helper:

The dishes helper helps clean out the strainer (to the best of their ablitity) and they help rinse and put dishes in the strainer when mom is doing a new load.

These three things have taken so much "thinking" and "remembering" away from me and taken a lot of fight out of our day.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Getting Real: The Hero Mentality of Foster Care Pt. 2

If you haven't gotten a chance to read part of of the Hero Mentality, please do so!  It talks about why viewing foster parents is dangerous for the children those parents are caring for.

In part of the newest Batman, in order for the common good and protection of all the image of Batman must be destroyed.  His reputation is ripped to shreds.  Hero's tend to fall and when they do, they fall far.

I rarely go a week with out one of the following statements (or something similar) said to me: "I couldn't do what you are doing."  "Thank you for doing what you do for these kids." "These kids couldn't ask for  better home."  People are trying to be encouraging and supportive.  I completely understand that, and I am thankful for the desire to support and encourage.

However, the problem is--I am human.  I make so many mistakes as a foster parent.  I'm not saying that to be modest.  I used to think I was a good momma.  I used to think I was a good wife.  I used to think I was good at doing ministry outside my home.  NOW...I have questioned everything I know about myself.  (And in many ways that's been good because I've been able to see God step into places where I once thought myself to be good enough.)

Holding parents to a Hero Mentality does two things:

It places the foster parent on a pedestal. The higher it goes, the bigger the fall when that parent messes up.  And mess up they will.  Recently a foster mom was convicted of shaking her foster baby.  It was unjustified, it wasn't right, it's not excusable.  But, what blew me away was how judgmental people are.  I heard statement after statement of "they placed children into her home to be protected and she just went and hurt them"  Again, I'm not saying that she is justified.  However, I have such sorrow for her.  What drove her to that point? Could more training have helped? How low had the saddness and loniless and pain of being a foster parent taken her?

Second, it makes foster parenting seem impossible to accomplish. If someone views a foster parent as extraordinary then they aren't even going to consider that role for themselves.  There is a huge need for more foster parents.  It doesn't take a nursing degree, a master's in special education, an extraordiary gift, or a magical power.  It simple takes someone who is willing to say no to some of their own desires and yes to a child in need of love and saftey.  That doesn't make it easy or fun, but it also isn't impossible.

I don't want to be viewed as a hero.  It hurts my kids, it hurts me, it hurts foster care.  I think if we took the time to think of foster parents as people just like us we would see more people desire to become one and we would see more support given to those who are already doing it.   

Have you ever felt like you were placed on a pedestal you didn't want to be on?  Have you ever fallen from someones graces for being less then perfect?