Monday, January 7, 2013

Holidays 2012

 Holidays 2012

Well the holiday's have come and gone. The kids officially went back to school today! YAY!
I have about a week before I start back to class so I am taking this week to try and relax, get organized and prepared for my 19 credit semester....Yes I said 19 credits. Don't ask! But if all goes well and I don't end up in the funny farm by May, I will graduate with my associates and transfer to ASU in the fall, whew! Crossing my fingers!
Here are some pics from the holidays. We had a great time this year. Spent Thanksgiving in Cali with our family there; and descended upon Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm with the tribe. 

We had a great time not only in Disneyland and Knott's but also spending Thanksgiving with our Cali family!
It was our first Thanksgiving with them in probably 10 years or more! What a great time and great food!

Next came Christmas.......

Stephen got to put up the star this year! 

Dad had to help him still....

Santa came! See his magic dust?

Pondering presents.....

Showing off their goods....

More goods....

A telescope?!?!

A soccer ball was the main thing he asked for.... so easy to please! 

Happy Kids, that's all that matters! 

So those were our holidays! We were together and every one was happy!
How were your holidays? What traditions do you have every year?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An old friend...

Have you ever had that friend that you simply adore spending time with but life gets away from you and you lose touch? Nothing really happened that made you drift apart, but before you know it, three months have gone by and you haven't picked up the phone. Then another three months go by, and the guilt is so overwhelming that you don't even know where to begin? 
That's sort of how I feel about my blog. My goal this past summer was to blog regularly, I knew I'd flaked on my old friend and I intended to make it up to her. But then life got the better of me and I didn't know where to begin again. I've missed my old friend, more than words can express. But I'm here now, and I plan on giving it another go.  

So what happened this summer that foiled my plans you ask? Life happened. A series of unfortunate events happened that forever changed me and my family.  

First, my grandmother passed away.  That was earth shattering for me. My grandmother was the glue that held me together, and I felt like I was unraveling one thread at a time.  

I thought I'd prepared myself to let her go.  She hadn't been 'herself' in a few years, and our long chats and the advice she gave me hadn't come in sometime, I thought I was ready. For about three years prior to losing her, I hadn't been able to just call her up and tell her what was going on in my life, and I sort of fell out of the habit of it because I knew her mind wouldn't allow her to be able to comprehend what I was saying.  We still talked regularly, and I saw her as often as I could, but our relationship was different. She was no longer my confidante. And so the thought of "Oh I need to call Grama and tell her _________", soon went from being a fleeting one, to consciously knowing that I couldn't call her and tell her the crazy things my kids did or ask her advice about a problem that I was having. 

Then it happened, she was gone. I spent weeks praying and telling her that it was okay to go. That Poppy was waiting for her. We all did.

Watching her die was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and I just wanted her to be at peace and without pain. And selfishly, I thought my pain would end there. I knew I'd miss her, but I thought that somehow, because I was so prepared for this, you know; that it would be easier.

Nothing could have prepared me for what would come within a few weeks.  You know, you go through the motions. You get by, because there's so much going on. Family coming in and out of town, you want the services to be just right, things never go the way you plan them in your head, and then it's over. And then you grieve. I'd never really lost someone close to me, before losing my grandparents. And I realize now that I never really grieved my pop. Now I was doing it twofold. 

Grieving for him, and grieving for her. My two heroes. The two people who I always counted on. One to give me a swift kick in the ass when I needed it, and the other to just love me and be my rock. Gone. 

My Poppy passed away 3 years before, but I think that I never really felt it because I still had her. She still held me together. And then she didn't anymore. 
I will never forget the day it truly hit me. I was driving in the car by myself, the dust from the services had settled. Everyone had gone home to their perspective lives, and I was driving. I don't know where I was going, but I was alone. There I was, and I picked up my phone and almost dialed her. I must have been about half way through her number when it hit me, like a ton of bricks. What was I doing? And that's when I felt it. The sadness. 

I can't say that I've ever felt that kind of deep, painful, sadness before. Somehow I got through it, held it together on the surface and eventually the sadness lessened. I still miss my Grama, and oddly enough, I still almost pick up the phone to call her every now and again. I probably always will. 

While in the midst of this happening, my son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Previously we'd been told that he had a laundry list of 'other diagnosis', that I just won't go into. But I will say that believing that he had these other things, changed the way we parented him.  And finding out that it was Asperger's changed the whole ball game. The guilt that set in, when we realized that 'it wasn't his fault', that this wasn't a 'conscious choice' that he was making- was incomprehensible. 
We spent a good portion of the last 8 years trying to 'win' with him, not giving in to 'his tempter tantrums'.  We spent a good portion of the last 8 years angry that he wasn't 'capable' of loving us because of the neglect caused by his birth mother.  And now, we found out that wasn't it at all. It's not that he doesn't love us; it's not that he's not capable. It's that he doesn't know how to articulate his feelings. It's that when he feels out of his element he doesn't know what to do or how to act, he reacts.  

So we spent the summer, and then some- relearning about our son. We had to learn knew parenting skills, we had to learn a whole new level of patience, and we had to learn to let the guilt go.  We weren't the ones that misdiagnosed him. But we were the ones who took the hard line stance with him, and were tough on him.  We had to learn the fine line between what he can control, and what he can't. We've had to learn when to just walk away and let him be, and we've had to learn when to keep pushing him because there are something’s that he is capable of learning.  We've had to teach his siblings a whole new way of dealing with his behaviors.  We've had to teach them how to show him kindness, even when sometimes he doesn't deserve it. We've had to teach them the fine line between putting up with his behaviors-simply because they are his behaviors, and that it's okay to stick up for themselves, because he does need to learn what is acceptable and what isn't. 
And it's a tough one; as his parents, we're still learning to navigate this new adventure we were given.  But ultimately, we've learned that it's a balancing act. We have to know when to push, and when to let him be. I'm sure it will always be a learning experience for all of us. It's a learning experience for him, no doubt.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

I bet my pile is bigger than your pile.

Often times I forget what is considered normal.

 I forget that not every household has a grocery bill of $300 per week minimum. Don't forget to add at least another $200 in toiletries.

I forget that not every household goes through a minimum of 5-8 gallons of milk per WEEK

I forget that not every household drinks a minimum of 5 gallons of water per DAY.

I forget that not every household goes through 36 rolls of toilet paper not in a month, but in a week instead. That only includes what we wipe with, not what gets watered down and plastered to the ceiling. It also doesn't include the rolls of toilet paper that become Barbie blankets or clothes. It also doesn't include the rolls of toilet paper that the kittens decide to shred into teeny tiny pieces and spread from one end of the house to the other. No, that's just what we wipe with.

I forget that not every household shops at Sam's club, not monthly or weekly but sometimes daily.

I forget that not every household washes 7 pairs of socks, 7 shirts, 7 pairs of jeans, 7 pair of undies, 7 towels,7 pair of pj’s, and blankets and sheets and whatever else may have gotten drug through the mud or used as a batman cape while running through the sprinklers, or need I say it? Much, much worse!

And then I am reminded how not normal it is when I post up a picture of one day’s worth of laundry on Facebook and people are completely in awe at the pile; that mind you, isn’t nearly complete.

It makes me giggle to think how intrigued people are with my laundry pile.  It certainly isn’t intriguing to me. But then again, I sometimes forget what is normal.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

♥ Broken Hearts ♥

My girl came home from school today sobbing with a broken heart.
When I finally got the reason out of her I didn't know how to respond.
I wanted to rip the heart out of the perpetrator, but I assume that this is a normal maternal response.

I tried to assure her that everything would be alright. I tried to listen, without offering too much advice. I am after all just a dumb mommy with no life experience, and certainly no experience with boys. As my life after all only began 14 years ago and I was magically an adult. 

Listening to her tale took me back to my own youth and it reminded me how many times my own heart was broken and how at the time it seemed like the end of the world.

I wanted to tell her that this too shall pass, but I knew she wouldn't hear it. I wanted to tell her that in 15 years she'd look back and laugh at how silly she must have seemed crying over some boy, but I knew that would only make her think that I didn't understand. I wanted to tell her that someday she'd find the boy who instead of making her cry would wipe all her tears away but I knew she wouldn't believe me. I wanted to tell her how much more life there is to experience, but I knew that this moment is all she can see.

I chose to take the delicate route. I chose to just listen and not say much. I don't want to overstep my bounds.
 But all this got me thinking.

Being a parent tends to leave you feeling raw. Constantly questioning yourself.

From the time they are born you begin to question yourself. "Am I feeding her enough?" "Am I feeding her too much?" Eventually those questions subside, only to be replaced with new ones. As they get older you question things like when are they old enough to go into a public restroom by themselves. While you question yourself, it's only for a fleeting moment and then it passes.

But never in my life have I questioned myself like I do while raising a teenage daughter. I feel so raw and unsure of myself as a mother.

I know that we are at one of the most delicate places that we will ever be as mother and daughter.  I know that the choices that she makes right now can very well affect her life for the next 4 years, quite possibly longer. I know that my reaction to those choices will affect my relationship with my daughter for the rest of our lives.

Which way do I go? Which way do I turn? Have I given her the tools that she needs to make the kinds of decisions she is facing right now? Have I shown her in every way that I know how to be a strong and independent woman and not to be swayed by peer pressure and insecurities?

Never in my life have I felt so raw.  Never in my life have I felt such fear.

Time will only tell. I pray that I have shown that she can be strong and that I am always here for her.  I pray that I have given her all the tools she needs to make the right choices. All the tools that I never had.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sisters By Heart

I have this sister, but we didn't share the same womb. We don't have the same blood, but she's my sister just the same. She's the one I call when my sky doesn't seem so blue. She's the one who calls me when hers doesn't either.  She is the one who comes to me when she hears me calling, although I haven't said a word. I am the one that comes to her, when I hear the same.

She is the one who taught me what family really is. She taught me that the word sister doesn't always mean blood. She taught me that I don't always have to be strong, because I have a sister I can lean on.  She taught me that there is strength in numbers and that she will stand with me and face any adversary, right by my side. She is the sister I've never had.

She really is an amazing woman. She smiles through adversity. She always stands tall. She takes care of everyone, never thinking for a moment of her own needs. She inspires me, daily. She takes pride in all that she does. She is no stranger to a hard day’s work. She is the mother that I only dream of being. She has the patience of a saint. In fact, I often wonder where she hides her wings.

It's been said that friendship isn't one big thing, but a thousand small ones. I know that to be true, in sisterhood as well.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

But they're adopted now, right?

I wish I knew which button to push
Then I'd know how to please you
It's sad but true
So I'll just listen in down the line
While you're busy mixing grape with grain
To sedate your pain

Songbird you got tales to tell
How many times can you describe your living hell?

The sweeping gesture creates a fuss
It's only useful when receiving praise
Relieving no-ones pain
If you'd let somebody love you just enough
You'd have everything you'd need to break
Free from all your pain

Songbird you got tales to tell
How many times can you describe your living hell?

I wish I knew which button to push
Then I'd know how to please you
It's sad but true

If you'd let somebody love you just enough
If you'd let somebody love you just enough
If you'd let somebody love you just enough
If you'd let somebody love you just enough

Anyone who has ever dealt with foster kids knows that they come with a completely different set of rules. You can no longer use the term 'normal' and when you do, it must be with a very loose interpretation. You know that "I love you" may never come. You know that "I want to live here" only means, this place will do for now. You know that at some point they will attempt to disrupt, pushing to see how far they can push you before you 'throw them out' and reject them like everyone else in their lives have.   You know that these kids come with certain behaviors and pray that they learn different ways to deal with their emotions, rather than using these behaviors that have kept them 'safe' all along.
At some point though, you settle into a routine with these rules they have set in place and you learn how to maneuver around them and hopefully at some point they learn that they don't have to keep guard over these rules and that you are trusty worthy.

Many times though, the rules stay the same. Even when they get adopted.
Many times though, the behaviors don't go away. Even when they get adopted.

They lurk under the surface, waiting like a monster under the bed to jump up and slap you in the face.
They are always there, just simply waiting.

While life with these kids is as rewarding, many times if not more than most people's version of a 'normal' child. It's not always a walk in the park, even after they've been given the stability of a home and a family.

So many people say to me "But they're adopted now, right?" Or "But they've been with you for 6 years (or 4 years) now?"

Yes, they've been with me for 6 and 4 years, respectively. But how can 6 years or 4 years, change the past? How can 6 years make a kid who never felt safe, or comforted, or full at night, or secure in himself, or loved; feel all of those things, and trust in those feelings?

And sometimes, I have to remind myself of these things.  Sometimes, I have to remind myself that the behaviors are their defense mechanism. It's what's gotten them through the toughest of times and the worst of times. It's like asking them to cut off their right arm and feel perfectly OK.  When it will never be OK.

I have to remind myself as well as those around me, that these are not 'normal' kids. They are damaged, and they are broken. And yes, sometimes they are purposely trying to make me crazy because they want to see how far they can push. Even all these years later, they want to see when I will cast them out with the trash. And yes, they are intentionally trying to manipulate me. It's built into them, it's who they are right now.

I implore you to look up the terms Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Find out what it means and that it doesn't go away over night, if ever. They will always have rules for those of us in their lives to abide by.

As a mother, I don't know how to fix it. I am not sure that it's even fixable. I wish I knew which button to push to make them whole again. I wish I knew which button to push to allow them to let me love them just enough.

And sometimes, when the "I love you" finally comes, for a brief moment in time you forget the rules. You forget the behaviors. And you realize that this is your life. And you accept the "I love you's" as few and far between as they are. And you relish in the days where the behavior's don't sneak up and smack you in the face. You cherish the moment when your little boy can say with the most tender of heart to his sister "I love you and you have pretty hair." Those are things you learn not to take for granted, and while you want to shout it from the mountain tops how proud you are of him for making that one small statement...You don't because somewhere in the back of your mind you remember the rules. So you quietly smile and whisper "that was so nice of you"...

And then you think, but sometimes love isn't enough.
And then you realize, but it has to be.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Super Moon...

We drove up to South Mountain the night of the super moon. South Mountain is one of my most favorite places to take a drive to, especially at night. I love just sitting up there and watching the city lights and I love the drive. 
I love the tracers, I think they are interesting. We ended up getting some unique pics and some really cool ones just by playing with the shutter speed of the camera. They aren't all great pics but I still like them just the same. I wasn't actually looking for the perfect shot, I wanted to see how interesting they would be as I played with the shutter speed.

I wish that the landscape wasn't so blurry, even though I wanted the lights to blur. Oh well, still learning!

I was hoping that this had more tracers but I didn't have the shutter speed fast enough.

I thought this one came out kinda cool!

I think the best ones actually came from my backyard instead of South Mountain.

The clouds look so cool!

Definitely one of my faves!

Hands down, my fave of the entire night.