A Dozen Good Eggs

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Maia

She has been attached to my hip since she was born. she is now 9. Still attached to my hip. Still loves her special blankie which is in shreds in a pillow case because its been loved to pieces. Still carries pillow case full of blankie bits all over the house. I don't like when the kids are sick. I worry of course. But when Maia is sick, she is clingier than ever. She needs constant contact and cuddles. She will follow me everywhere. She will lay on the floor at my feet while I cook or do dishes. She would probably sit in my lap while I use the toilet if I let her. If I go upstairs to use my bathroom or get dressed she follows and lays on the bed waiting. She loves her mama. She is attached to her mama. She is my love. I adore her. She gets her feelings hurt easily. She is my mini me. she is so smart but struggles to pay attention. She takes a scolding personally. She is sensitive. She is so much like me I cant even believe it. but about the snuggling. Maia was sent home from school sick Friday. Saturday she was my shadow when she wasn't in my lap. Sunday she perked up a little, but still very sleepy and weepy and clingy. (it just occurred to me that she could have mono) This morning I Had to PRY her hands off of me to get her to go to school. School mornings usually include Maia Bopping around being loud and silly and me reminding her to get her lunch made, get breakfast, get shoes on, GET MOVING! Today she was done in 10 minutes and spent the rest of the time clinging and following me around. I love her snuggles her constant need for physical touch. but this is over the top even for her. It worries me. Is she depressed? Is she more sick than I thought? To be honest I expect the school to be calling me to come get her. Im just not sure what to think about this over the top need for me. I know growing up is tough. and growing up with sibs who have SN is tough. and growing up in a large family is tough. but where has my dreamy silly funny girl gone?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The adoption option

Many of my kids are adopted. They came to us at various ages from 2-8. They did not come without issues. They did not come without pasts. They did not come to us as a clean slate, a tabula rasa. Occasionally in the news there is a story about a child whose issues were too great for his adoptive family and they are forced to walk away, for their safety or that of the child. Consider the differences in the scenarios below.

 Before birth we do whatever we can to protect our child's health. We stop drinking and smoking in pregnancy. We dream of the child to be, we make plans for them, we bond with them,  we LOVE them.  We visit the doctor regularly to be sure our pregnancy goes off without a hitch. When you give birth to the child you intend to raise, you love that child and give them the best of everything you are able. You know their every experience. You know their genetics and the likelihood of the personality being compatible with yours. You take them for well child checks and jump on it if they have delays. They will get help meeting milestones so they can meet them as soon as possible. Your child knows your voice and your smell. They suckle at your breast, you nurture them, and love them. You care for their every need. Its exhausting, but everyone knows its what is best for baby. you raise them in love and anticipate their every mood.

Now imagine a scenario where a pregnant woman is fighting many demons in her life. She struggles to maintain a job, drinks alcohol and /or does drugs. She doesn't take care of herself, often forgetting to eat. She finds out she is pregnant and knows she can not raise a child, she can barely take care of herself. She smokes while she ponders what to do. She never bonds with this child within her. She doesn't tell anyone she's pregnant. She tries to figure out what to do. She drinks heavily to forget. Maybe she WILL forget. but the fetus keeps growing. Soon her clothes don't fit properly. She is reminded again that there is something, someone growing inside of her. She drinks more to quell her fears, to calm her mind, to forget.  She smokes because it calms her nerves and she is very nervous wondering what in the world she will do with a baby. lather rinse repeat.

Eventually the child is born. He may or may not be born substance addicted. He may appear perfectly healthy at first glance. But brain damage can't be seen with the naked eye. The life giver walks away from this small person, knowing she can never make a life for him, and places him for adoption.  A family adopts the child not knowing what his future will be. not knowing if he will be a rocket scientist or struggle to pass science class.  They commit in a way the life giver could not. They are in it for the long haul. Come what may, they say, he is ours. we will love him, they say, no matter what the future holds.

The child now has been abandoned by the woman who gave him life. The person caring for him doesn't smell like the woman who carried him 9 months. The voice is not the same. There was no special bonding before birth. If a fetus can feel pain, a fetus can absolutely feel love, or lack thereof. The child grows and begins acting out at an early age. His abandonment is not something he can name but it affects him deeply. His adoptive parents continue to love and guide him, they seek help for him. They talk to doctors and psychologists and psychiatrists. They throw around words like autism, primal wounds, reactive attachment disorder, explosive disorder, adhd, fetal alcohol syndrome. In short: this child is damaged. The life that could have been at conception is no longer an option. The adoptive parents try many different things to get help for the child. He continues to defy them and all medical interventions. He is not attached to them. He doesn't care for them. They are just one more person who will walk away from him. If he never lets them close he wont feel the loss when they quit on him.

His behaviors escalate as he grows. He becomes violent. He attempts suicide. Still the parents try everything they can think of; they see every doctor or specialist who will listen. They beg for help for their child. While he is not attached to them, THEY are attached to him. They love him. They long for a life of peace. They consult the agency who placed the child with them. Little can be done.  They talk with social workers, and medical people. They send him to residential treatment centers, at great cost, emotionally and financially. When the child is released he burns down the house, the same house they mortgaged to get him help. They miss so many days of work their jobs are in jeopardy. They are spent. there is nothing left. They have no money. Their lives are in danger. The child they loved and longed for will never be normal. They are at the end of their rope. This child will never care for them. That much is clear.

 They consult with social services to place him in foster care. They are denied. Or they are told they will be required to pay child support to the social services center, and continue to pay for his medical needs. How can they pay that when they are destitute from trying to care for this child already?  This child who appeared so perfect at birth. This child whom they love more than anything, but clearly can not help. What do they do now? They can't keep him, he will kill them. They can't release him to foster care, they cant afford it. They run away in the night. They abandon the already once abandoned child. They leave everything behind. It's the only way. They can see no other way out of this mess.

After all of this, the people of this great nation say "how can you just walk away?" "how can you give up on a child?" "They are awful people to leave this child in need, after they promised to care for him no matter what."   In truth they have done all they could do, they asked for help again and again, it was denied, or didn't help. They tried to leave the child in the care of safety but were denied that as well. They did not readopt him to another family, not wanting to put someone else in danger. They walked away. They left him an orphan, to be a ward of the state, in hopes that he would finally be seen as he is and get the help he so needs. Walking away was a final desperate attempt to help this child that they loved. They did it out of love. Not spite or malice, not even after everything the child has put them through. They did it out of love for this child.

We like to think that our society is so advanced; we have come so far from the days of our grandparents. Help is at our fingertips. We need only ask. No one need suffer anything anymore. Help is readily available for all things. My grandmother had to give up her son to the state, make him a ward of the court, in order to help him with his mental illness. Today many families are forced to do the same, by walking away as in the story above or relinquishing custody to the state. Sometimes the decision comes down to time. Is there time for court hearings and lawyers and debate? or does this kid need help ASAP?  Many times parents are so defeated and their children so disturbed that by the time they are looking at custody hearings they can wait no longer. They walk away.  Its the only option. They leave the child they love BECAUSE he is the child they love. The system is flawed. Parents are the last people to be believed when a child presents with mental illness. The parents must be the problem. They need more parenting techniques. It can't be that the child is damaged. Until the system changes, there will continue to be parents who are forced to leave their kids behind. Unless you have lived in their shoes, try not to judge their actions. You have no idea what they have been through. You have no idea the strength it takes to make the ultimate act of love and walk away.

Monday, November 4, 2013

But it's not fair!!!

We must hear this a hundred times a day. Its not fair that one child got a good grade and I didn't. Its not fair that so and so got to go to a friends house and I didn't. Its not fair that he got to sit in THAT chair and I don't. He ALWAYS sits there! 

When our kids came home from orphanages they had this idea of fair where everything is exactly the same for each kid. If one child ate because they missed dinner because they were elsewhere, then everyone needed to eat, or it wasn't fair. Reasoning that they already ate and this child didn't, and if they ate again they would eat twice and the other only once would not be fair either was useless. It was only fair if everything, for everyone, every time was exactly the same. 

Over time as their English improved and their opportunities improved they started to expand their not fair reasoning to include another child SEEMING to have more than they did in any capacity.  If a bag of hand me down clothes came and two things fit one child and 3 things fit another, that is not fair. I cant even begin to tell how many times I have heard ITS NOT FAIR!

I tried reasoning and explaining. I tried keeping everything exactly fair, which is impossible. Neither approach worked. EVERYTHING was still unfair, at least as far as they could see. I started taking them out with me one or two at a time to get a gallon of milk, or walk to the mail, or visit the neighbor. It wasn't fair. but I did it anyways. Some outings included a little treat, some didn't. If there was a treat it had to be a secret or else it wouldn't be FAIR and then I wouldn't be able to take them with me and give them treats anymore.  Im sure each kid thinks they are the only ones who has treats with mom because they don't talk about it.  

I also stopped trying to be fair. I just cant be fair. in most cases its MOSTLY fair but I will not count out rice granules to be exactly fair. They still say it sometimes, its NOT FAIR! and I always say life isn't fair. Sometimes I hear them complain to a sibling about something not fair, and the other child will tell them life is not fair.

Life is NOT fair. why does one child survive an orphanage relatively unscathed and another nearly unable to function? Why do people we love die? Why do bad things happen to good people? its not fair. none of it is. but we do our best to get through the unfairs and enjoy the good times.  That's what I am trying to teach my kids. Life is not fair, but we can and should enjoy it anyways.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

These are a few of my favorite things!

There are some things that some of our kids really dislike. but we do have a lot of favorites.  One of our heirloom family recipes is Squash Souffle' born of an excess of squash and lack of ideas how to cook it.  Most holidays we have it and many times in between. 

We love going to museums. I think our favorite is the Minnesota Institute of Art, and the Minnesota History Center coming in second. the kids as well as Eric and I try to get there at least a couple times a year.  The period rooms decorated for the seasons is always beautiful. When we tell the kids we are going there they get all excited.

Our favorite board game is Chinese checkers. We have a variety of games, yahtzee, chutes and ladders, scrabble. but they always go back to Chinese checkers.

Personally my favorite season is summer. I THINK the kids would choose summer as their favorite too. They love the beach, they love the green grass and playing outside and going barefoot. When it turns to cold weather I have to hound them to put clothes on. so I am guessing they would choose summer as their favorite also.

Cheaper by the dozen is our favorite movie as a family. Everyone has their own favorites individually but as a family we love watching Cheaper By the Dozen.  The funny thing about that movie is that everyone MOSTLY gets along and have alliances. But our kids fight all the time. Of course they are a tv family and we are a real life family.

We love cats and dogs and our chickens.  The kids and I would love to have goats and sheep and a cow someday. I don't think we have a favorite animal. We love all our animals.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

FAQ or the things big families hear all the time

Wow! you have HOW many?     We have 10. Yes we know its unusual, but not THAT unusual.

Do you homeschool them all?   No, they all go to public school locally. We aren't against homeschool it just doesn't work for us.

Are they all yours?   Yes they are all mine. Some were born to me, some were born to another mother but they are all mine.

Where are their real parents? we ARE their real parents, we are the ones wiping the snot cleaning up the vomit driving to a million appointments. yes We are their real parents.

Are they brothers and sisters?  See above.

I don't know how you do it!   Do what? get them out the door in the morning? cook them dinner? love them? You raise ten kids the same way you raise 2. You get out of bed in the morning and put one foot in front of the other. You love them, you help them, you take interest in them and what they are doing.

How much did they cost?  They were free. We did however have to pay for various documents and preparations as well as travel to bring them home. but they are worth a million bucks.

Why do you have so many?  Look at them. seeing their faces, knowing their names, knowing what their future would have been without us, we really could not walk away and ignore their existence. Boy are we glad we didn't!

I couldn't do what you do!  sure you could. the learning curve isn't that steep.

Are you going to have more?  I don't know. Some days I think maybe. Some days I think NO WAY! but mostly it isn't anyone's business but ours if we choose to add to our family.

What's wrong with your little girl in the wheelchair? Nothing is WRONG but she has arthrogryposis, That means she was born with joint contractures. Similar to cp except it happens long before birth instead of AT birth.

Will she ever walk? She will do whatever she wants to do. She has the drive and determination to climb any mountain she wants.

Some people get upset when others ask questions. I don't. its natural to be curious. People don't usually stop us on the street to ask but when we interact with them they will find a way to ask. I like to tell people we have multiple multiples(we have many kids the same ages) and they assume we had twins or triplets along the way. It's even more fun when they ask when they were born and you tell them different months.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's no crying in baseball!!!

I always loved the movie A League of Their Own, with Tom Hanks. I can hear him saying There's no crying in baseball! As I go about my daily business dealing with kids who throw things at me, scream at me, lose their temper and start shrieking because someone looked at them wrong I usually stand strong. There's no crying in baseball! Sometimes though, it gets too much. one nasty attitude too many in a day and the tears come unbidden.

I watch tv sometimes when the kids are at school. I see people cry over all manner of things. A room makeover so lovely it moves them to tears, again and again. A gift so great they cry tears of happiness. They lose a treasured item and they cry. They have debt, they cry. Their children get a poor grade, they cry. They cry over everything on tv. They cry when their neighbors don't like them, when their dog eats chases the cat, when they are caught at a red light AGAIN.

I find myself thinking they have NO idea what life is really like in many families. I yell at the people on tv to stop crying. They know nothing! They don't fight their kids school for services enough to ensure their kid will merely PASS THEIR GRADE! They don't fight for accessibility every where they go. They don't have to plan their life around wheelchair accessible facilities. They don't have kids who scream at them, who throw things, who talk about taking an ax and cutting down all the trees because they are mad at you. They don't deal with kids who come from trauma. They don't have dozens of appointments each week for therapies. They have friends and babysitters.

There's no crying in baseball. there is crying in parenting kids with issues. So many people just can not and do not understand what that life is like. How could they? They do not deal with the scream of a child who is in meltdown because the phone is ringing and it isn't ever for them. They do not have to duck when something comes flying in anger. They sit down to happy meals where no one leaves the table in a huff. They do what they want when they want, their lives do not revolve around making and attending necessary therapies. THEY are not US. I am happy that so many people live happy charming lives. I wish my life could be that way. But it isn't. I only wish the people living a charmed life, even an ordinary life, would try to understand how lucky they are and realize so many of us live the other side of the coin. Most of us wouldn't choose this chaotic lifestyle, but its what we have. We deal, sometimes we cry, and then we get up and face it all again. and those tv families? Imagine how boring our lives would be if we lived that perfect charming life!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hockey Mom/ Dance mom

I recently saw some stickers on the back of a vehicle. They said Dance Mom and Hockey Mom. Many of my kids have special needs. They have physical disabilities, they have developmental disabilities, they have health problems. They won't ever play hockey or go to dance class.

 But they work hard to progress and we are proud of all they do. We are proud of the spelling tests where a single word is correct, that's an improvement from none. We are proud of taking your first steps at age 7, perhaps more so than if they were 1-2 years old.  We are proud when we attend an event that ends having no meltdowns as these are rare. We are proud when a meal is finished and no one spilled their milk. We are proud when a night becomes morning without a wet bed. We are proud when school is attended with a smile. We are proud when we arrive on time to any given appointment as it means everyone was able to be independent in getting ready. We are proud when our ten year olds are able to self soothe when waking at night rather than waking the whole house. We are proud when a short tempered child walks way from an instigating sibling without socking them. We are proud of our kids too. Even though they don't have car stickers for people like us, we are proud parents nonetheless.

Friday, October 25, 2013



I missed out on a lot of my kids lives. They didn't come to me until preschool to school aged. I don't know all that happened in that time. Some memories come out now and then. A meal. A person. A place. Sometimes they are nice memories. More often they are not. The first time one of our newly arrived kids spilled their milk the terror on their face was evidence of their past. The way they quickly tried to smooth it over with I love you Papa! and I sowwy Papa! again and again shows the fear they must have felt. The relief was almost palpable when the only thing that happened was a towel was provided and we cleaned it up and more milk was poured and the meal went on. Last night after several years home, someone spilled the marbles from a game. We (oldest bio child and I) laughed and joked about losing your marbles. We suggested he just pick them up.  but he was frozen. The tears were coming. They wouldn't stop. The past was coming spilling out. The fear was visible on his face. His hands clenched and wringing. I told him I wasn't mad, I told him if they had gone under appliances we could move them and find the missing marbles. He was having none of it. He was stuck in his past. He was waiting for something that wasn't going to come.  I hugged him and got very close asking why he was crying, assuring I was not at all mad that he dropped the marbles. He said in his orphanage they beat him with a stick when he dropped things. I hugged him, he sobbed, I sobbed. I told him how horrible that was and how wrong they were. I told him how I would never ever do that. I told him I was so sorry that he had endured that. He told me that if they didn't have a stick they would get one from a tree. He also remembered a time when he wasn't in line properly, they wanted a straight line, and he was the wanderer. He got whacked then too. I love this boy so much. I love his squishy belly. I love his big ole head. I love how he tries to help. my heart hurts that he was hurting.   I cant fix it. I cant undo it. I can only carry through on my promise to love him and raise him without hurting him. He can count on that. I would give him anything. I would jump in front of a bus for him. That's the kind of love I have for him. He is mine. I think you could say we are pretty well attached. I hope he will learn that the world is not all bad. that there is good in the world. That not everyone will hurt you.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mr. Darcy

As if we don't have enough chaos at our house I felt like we needed something more. I brought home a cute little kitty we called Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy is a character in Jane Eyre. That's a favorite story of mine. He is the cutest little guy. He was a hairsbreadth away from the shelter. The young couple who I got him from rescued him from a neighbor who was going to kill him. They took him in and loved him but the landlord said he couldn't stay. They were under the gun to get rid of him. If they didn't find him a home in the next 24 hours he was going to go to the shelter. Our dogs and our other cat are not exactly thrilled with the interloper. The kids are all over that kitty. Our other cat is older and doesn't play. she is a good mouser but not great at personal relationships. She came from abuse so she probably has reactive attachment disorder, HA! but she is faithful about using her littler box so I settle for a relationship that includes my opening doors for her and buying cat food for her.. This new kitty likes snuggles and playing and we have all had a good laugh at Mr. Darcy since he came.  Don't tell my husband but Mr. Darcy is snoozing on our bed upstairs right now. Eric isn't real keen on sharing his bed with animals. But there are plenty of warm bodies for Mr Darcy to snuggle at night, he can lay up there in the day if he wants. Withuot further ado, allow me to introduce you to
 Mr. Darcy.

Monday, October 21, 2013


My Jaggy waggy. Try and find a nickname from Jaeger! Jaeger's name is always pronounced wrong but he never corrects anyone. He just goes along with it. His name sounds like Jay-ger. Not Jagger. Not Yaeger.  His name in Ukraine was something very different and when we told him his name was going to be Jaeger he would swing on the swings at the orphanage and yell out his name with the biggest smile on his face. each time he would come forward he'd yell.... Jaeger!......Vasiliy!....Enbeeeeeeerg! he was very cute and sweet in Ukraine. But was a bit of a stinker on his way home to the states. Now though he loves his mommy and often profresses how much he loves me and papa. He can out eat any teenage boy I ever met! He loves to cook. He loves movies and tv and video games. He is very competitive and always excels at whatever he does. He would love to play on a sports team. He is a great student and a funny kid. he always makes me laugh. He sometimes gets bored out here in the country when he can't find a sibling who wants to play with him. He likes to read. He knocked out Harry Potter the first year he was home, he had NO IDEA what he read but he read the whole book.  He read three muskateers last year for a book report and really enjoyed it. He is very interested in weapons of war and history of war and history in general. He loves to chat history with his Papa. He is the only one of our European kids who is squishy. I love to squeeze him. He isn't chubby, but not bony either. Just squishy. He loves to play with friends. He is always the first one out the door in the morning, the first one home after school, first one in the car if we are going out, first one to the dinner table. He is a love. He is almost 12. 12! he was merely 8 when he came home. He is growing up so fast but he is such a sweetheart and I love his hugs and kisses. He talks about wanting to join the military someday. He is only young and will probably change his mind but if he does I know he will take his vows there very seriously as he does most things.  THis is not to say we have never had any issues adopting a child as old as 8. But for the most part he has become your average American kid. and the sweetest son a mom could ask for.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Sophie is the baby of the family at 7. She was only 3 when she came home. she was very stubborn and naughty when she came home. We used to call her the Ukrainian Mafia because with her disabilities she couldn't hit so she would LEAN HARD on anyone who offended her.  Fast forward to age 7, 4 years in a family of her own. She is sweet, loving, beautiful, caring, affectionate, thoughtful, kind. She still has a bit of a bossy personality but mostly she is a love. She and I spend many long days together as we travel to Philly often. She has gone from bossy little brat to happy grateful easy to get along with travel companion. She has had a lot of surgeries and has had to overcome a lot in her short life. but the smile on her face when she so proudly accomplishes something she was looking forward to, makes my life worth living. That smile alone is reason enough to get up in the morning. I love them all and would do anything for any of them but that smile of "I DID IT!" is why I adopted.  Sophie adores her Papa and has him wrapped around her little finger. Her best friend at school is a boy named Cai. She doesn't play much with dolls. SHe would rather play with the boys. SHe does like little people though. She got her own American girl doll last year for her birthday and was thrilled but really doesn't play with it. She LOVES to read. She can often be found reading. She loves to go outside but she is so fair she burns in the shade in the summer, and shes so thin and tiny and hard to maneuver she gets cold in the snow and its hard for her to get around in the snow. In the summer she can often be found on the porch in the shade with a hat and sunscreen playing cars with her brothers.  She is in second grade and doing great! she is so smart! She loves her big brother Cody lots. He takes good care of her. She shares a room with Chrysta but she likes Cody better. She is the royal princess.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Andre also known as AJ

AJ has the cutest smile. When we went to Ukraine to get Ben, a little boy with no front teeth, carrying a purse, and had drool running down his chin tugged the back of my shirt. I turned around and he smiled up at me. He was adorable. Little did I know, less than a year later he would not be a cute little boy in Ukraine but MY OWN cute little boy, right here at home. He was like a feral cat when he came home. He has come a LONG LONG WAY since then. When he walked in the door at home, finally, after a long travel, he saw Ben and went right to him and hugged him. He remembered him and called him by his Ukrainian name. They were long lost brothers at heart. To this day they share a room, wear same clothes, and love to match like twins. Their birthdays are exactly one month apart so except for that one month of the year they are twins. He is 10. He was 5 the first time I met him. He is a snuggling little boy. He LOVES nothing more than working with dad outside. He loves to garden. He loves shelling beans. He does not love spaghetti. or squash. but he has gone from throwing up at the sight of squash to eating it with a wrinkled up nose. That's progress. He is in third grade this year. He struggles with academics but he works hard and LOVES going to school. He rarely has behavior trouble at school. He thrives on routine, and vacations and late arrival days are very confusing to him. He loves his doll and hugs her when he is sad. He likes to help me care for the chickens. Even after the rooster attacked him and scared the daylights out of him, he lobbied for us to keep the rooster and not butcher him for the freezer. He knows the chickens are for food, and he was ok with the others going, but not with killing this one because he had been mean. He tries hard to be a good boy. sometimes he forgets his manners but he does try to be sweet and loving little guy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Oh my goodness what can I say about Diana? she is a sassy feisty little spit fire with the quickest wit you ever saw in a ten year old! She is snuggly and funny and silly and sassy. She ALWAYS helps me do dishes. even when I insist she do something else she will stay and help. I never have to ASK Diana to help with dishes. if I turn on the water she is right there with a towel.  She is the silliest girl, she gets this wild giggle when she is feeling crazy.  She likes tickles. She says goodbye my darling to me every morning. She is tiny compared to the others who are already small for their ages. She is a little embarrassed that she is younger than her classmates but she does very well at school and gets along fine and has many friends. She doesn't get too involved in emotional warfare. if someone isn't her friend anymore she announces that they aren't very nice  and then moves ahead.  This kid wakes with a smile and ready to sass. I do not wake with a smile. I do not wake well. This kid though could JUMP out of bed the second she opens her eyes and say OPAH!!!  She can be moody sometimes but mostly when she is grumpy it is around the same things. One thing that makes her grumpy is spaghetti. although if she puts ketchup on it she will eat it. (go figure) Another thing is squash/pumpkin. She and Chrysta butt heads regularly. or if I am grumpy she will be grumpy. but if you project happiness on her she will shine it right back at you times ten. Diana loves the color purple and will love anything that's purple. (maybe I should make purple spaghetti!) She loves her American Girl Doll Makenna. Unlike some of the other kids she understands sarcasm and jokes. She once called me Makenna's grandma and I told her she was out of the will. she laughed and laughed about that and tried laughingly to make it up to me while slipping and calling me grandma.  Her name sounds like dee-onna and people always say die-anna. it drives her crazy. Eric thought she would evolve to accept Die-anna pronunciation but she is a stubborn thing and she remains Dee-onna. I wanted to change the spelling when we adopted but we didn't. I always tell her she can go by Claire(middle name) instead. she gags when I say that. she hates that name. She used to tell us all the ways Ukraine was better than here. The giraffs are bigger in Ukraine. The food is better in Ukraine. at the orphanage we had chicken and mashed potatos and gravy for breakfast.  She doesn't say that anymore. She rarely talks about Ukraine, except sometimes to share a memory from long long ago. She is a sweet girl. She loves to be a dramatic actor. I once asked her to do a chore and she fell immediately to the floor saying I am sick! of course the smile on her face gave it away. Watch for her to be famous someday, either on the silver screen or having done something amazing. With her there is no doubt. She is a gogetter. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


 Maia is my peanut. When She was born she was so tiny, and yet the biggest of the three kids I birthed.  After a difficult pregnancy loss and loss of two adoption referrals she was my miracle. She is 9, but is only now learning to sleep alone. She loves to snuggle. She loves to read. She loves to pop in and snuggle when I am reading and have me read aloud to her no matter the book. She falls asleep every time. She also loves an afternoon nap, which is ironic since when she was a toddler she refused to sleep, ever. She was so tiny when she was born. and now she is all arms and legs. When she was a toddler she was a chunk and we would ask whats for dinner? and grab her thighs and say HAMLETS!!!! she would scream and laugh. she still loves it but she doesn't have hamlets anymore. The day she lost her squishy baby fat somewhere along the way. I miss it. when we would part I would always tell her to stay squishy. Guess it didn't work because she is gangly now. She is dreamy and lives in sillyland often. She is wild and crazy. She loves her brothers and sisters but certain sibs drive her crazy. Every now and then she and the ones who make her crazy will be found having a laughing hysterically good time together. She likes to be a little girl, some of her sisters are in more of a hurry to grow up.  She doesn't care much about clothes. whatever fits or falls out of the dresser is fine. No need to fret about fashion. She always hated having her hair brushed and keeps it short now.  She loves piggies and collects them. She carries her baby blankie around with her in a pillow case because its in shreds and she isn't ready to give it up. She loves her American Girl doll.  She loves polly pockets too. She loves sleeping on the top bunk. She loves vegetables and cookies too. She is a happy go lucky girl who loves most everything. unless she doesn't.....then she's crying. She is a sensitive girl. She gets her feelings hurt. She cries to mommy. She loves Greek Mythology and begs daddy to read Black Ships Before Troy to her every night, even though she can read it herself easily enough. She has her daddy wrapped around her little finger.  She is in third grade where she does well.  She is the light of my life, one of them anyways.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Ethan struggles the most emotionally. Yet he writes me love notes. He leaves them on my pillow or tapes them to my headboard.  sometimes he lets just hold him and rock him and help him calm down. I love that. When he was a babe we rocked him every night before we put him to bed. He is in fourth grade. He struggles academically also, but he doesn't have any behavior reports from school. Ethan was always cute and people often tell me how he looks like Macauley Culkin. When I say he was cute, I meant we thought he was cute. he was ours and we were smitten. but when we look at photos from his coming home we do not see the same boy we saw then. To us he was THE most beautiful child on the planet. Looking back he was scrawny, bony and pock marked with dull hair and dull eyes.  We still see him as beautiful. He struggles with so much he is not very happy a lot of the time. He likes to cook and does not like taking out the compost. He likes to help but not when he could be playing. He likes to play games but waiting his turn is hard and losing is even harder. He used to sing CHEESE GLORIOUS CHEESE!!! at the dinner table(thanks to Daddy) Ethan is a tiny guy. He was only 15 pounds when he came home and wearing a size 1 diaper. He was 2 years old then. He has grown considerably but is still on the small size for his age. A lot of our kids are smaller so he fits in just fine. This is the first year he has gone to school most days(so far) with a smile and returned home with a smile. That is a big improvement and makes it a lot easier on everyone. Ethan had a hard time adjusting to Ben's arrival but now he and Ben are best friends and he rarely plays without him. He likes chickens. Once he stormed outside to take care of the chickens, it was reported to me that he was "messing with the chickens" and I went out there ready for a fight. What I found was a little boy sitting in the chicken coop, on the ground, holding a chicken in his lap and petting it gently. The bird didn't fight to move. He just held it gently and pet it. Was a very sweet moment.  Ethan also has processing disorder. This makes for many understandings in our house.  Every now and then he likes to get in on something funny. He likes practical jokes. especially jokes played on his sibs and his dad. He adores his Papa. He likes making up stories and sharing them. He talks about inventing things one day. Of course he also talks about building uniquely useful things. He is our first adoption.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Chrysta was my first baby girl and spoiled ROTTEN! Her dad worked nights when she was infant so she was Mama's girl ALL the time. I let her sleep in my bed nights since night feeding would be easier that way. I dressed her in dresses and ruffles every day. As she grew she  became such a funny little pip. And STUBBORN! She is a Junior in high school now. She is so beautiful. She went to Ukraine with us and has a heart for orphans. She also understands that some people struggle and she stands up for them, even when it means friends turn away. I am proud to be her mother. She enjoys going to church group every week. She likes horses. She shares a room with Sophie. She struggles sometimes with growing up. She is planning ahead  to college and what to do with her life. I know that whatever she does, it will be the thing she really wants. She would fight tooth and nail to the very end if she had to do something she didn't like. She is a girl that knows her own mind. I love her. I wish she hadn't grown up so quickly. I wish she was my tiny baby. She still wants Mama. When she leaves home for HER life it will break my heart. I will miss her terribly. she is firmly lodged in Mama's heart.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Cody is my first born son, the child that made me the thing I always wanted to be. A Mama. He is 19 now and in college at local community college. He did not enjoy high school but is very much enjoying college. He still lives at home with us. He is a great help. He has a special bond with Sophie. They are the bookends. He the oldest, she the youngest. She has him wrapped right around her little finger. He is a good kid who knows a lot of stuff. You would never know how much he knows though, because he keeps his cards close to his chest and doesn't talk a lot with people outside the family. He does talk freely with us. He teaches me new stuff all the time. He loves his grandma and takes the bus to her house every week to stay overnight and help her with anything she and grandpa can't do. He is quiet and doesn't put himself out there. He doesn't like crowds. but he seems happy.  he has no desire to drive. This means we have to deliver him wherever he goes. We live too far in the country for him to catch a bus from here.  He is funny and he is a tease like his grandfather. He is very loving and always has a hug for his Mama. He stands a foot and a half taller than me. I remember when he was a bit over 5 pounds. and now he is 6 feet tall. He is an amazing guy. I love him dearly.

Monday, September 23, 2013


My sweet adorable benny  boy. Ben is 9almost  10. He has physical challenges like club feet and arthrogryposis. He requires multiple trips to Philadelphia a year to visit his doctor. He is very loving and sweet. He loves his Mama and is the last of the children who still hug Mama's leg. When someone is scaring him he will hug my leg and hide behind me. Melts my heart every time. Ben is also a very sensitive little boy. He is often moved to tears over something someone said that really wasn't a big deal. but to him it was. He shares a room with Andre and they don't sleep. After a particularly bad night, his regularly low ability to cope with life and the problems that arise becomes nearly nonexistent. bunchy socks is enough to set him over the edge.  A stern look, a request to do something difficult will have him in a puddle of tears. It is so sad and hurts my heart that he is so vulnerable. At the same time it is frustrating on my part to have to solve/help him solve every single conflict. He tells me he is never going to move away from me. He has recently been obsessed with death. Not in a disturbing way like thinking its interesting, but more like a young child grappling with his own mortality. He will often cry and worry about being away from me when one of us dies. This boy has such a soft spot in my heart. He may well never move out. He may live with us forever. He is so innocent. but I adore him and he has the cutest squishiest cheeks that I love to kiss. He came to us at age 5. even now at age 10 he functions at about 4-5 year old. I only wanted perfect kids at first when I planned our adoptions. Ben is nowhere near perfect, we knew that from the moment we committed to him. I cant imagine life without my sweet Bean.  He has a hard time learning, but teaches me every day. teaches me patience, unlimited love and devotion, persistence. Remember those pins that said my heart belongs to _____? My heart belongs to Ben. forever and ever he is my boy.  He is in third grade this year. He loves going to school, and even though its hard he tries and is making progress. Last year a boy picked on him. he turned that boy into his best friend. That's my Ben. No one meets him without walking away in love.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Natasha is 11 now. Home 3 years but it feels like forever. She is such a wonderful loving beautiful intuitive daughter. If I could be assured all kids would be like her I would adopt a million times. She is very sweet and caring, but not saccharine or artificially so. She loves hugs and kisses and is the only one of the bunch(even birth kids) that talks about how we (mom and dad) have a certain smell that is comforting to her. Infants know their mother by smell. I find it interesting that Natasha notices that at such a late age.  I guess she, like me, has a very sensitive nose. She is helpful and always makes sure things are tidy when I return from having gone away.  She is a hard worker and does well at school. She is very smart and notices everything. We call her eagle eyes. Her language is ever expanding and sometimes she makes funny mistakes but she isn't afraid to try out new words. If this girl doesn't go on to do something awesome, I will have failed completely.  She is approaching puberty and can be a bit moody, and holding a grudge is a long held pastime. She is a born leader. She loves to be in charge, yet gets shy and blushes when she has to speak in front of her class. She is a helper to the bus driver on the school bus. She sometimes gets herself in a snit over some jealousy or someone who wronged her but she can most of the time be persuaded to share with me so I can help her. She also loves playing the piano and is very excited to start piano lessons.  She is really a great kid. of all my kids, she gives me the least grief. She is really sensitive to my feelings and observant of my actions. If I am upset she knows it, even if I have done my best to keep it to myself. She loves animals and will often try to save animals she finds. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up, but sometimes she forgets the word and says she wants to be a vegetarian.  Really, if people thought they might get a kid like Natasha, adopted at age 8, people would flock to older child adoptions. She has been through some hellish experiences in her short life. She wont let it bring her down though. She rarely talks of the nastiness of her life in her birth family.  She loves when we talk about our memories of her in Ukraine. We played HUNDREDS of games of UNO in Ukraine, but oddly enough don't play it that much at home. so many other things to do I guess. She is a great reader and can put away an entire chapter book in an afternoon. She is awesome. She is mine. I am so glad to have her. Every day with her is a reward for me for some unknown thing I have done. She is that much of a fun kid, good kid, nice kid, smart kid. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A new leaf

Ethan has been a difficult child all of his life. We have tried various medications. Multiple meltdowns in nearly any situation, even the most mundane,like getting dressed became war. After a trip to a psychiatrist and a change to a different class of drugs I am happy to report he is a new boy. he still has meltdowns and he still has bad days but his good moments outshine those and outnumber them. The tone of our house is changing. Its lighter now. We can breath a bit easier. Life is by no means perfect, but it feels so much more doable. All the children are back in school. They are enjoying their new teachers. I am not enjoying having to do spelling words every day and enforce reading time when they really just want to play. Three are in the middle school this year and enjoying that big change and making new friends. One is in the high school so I have three schools and three busses to deal with. That's going fine. So far we have not had very many bus issues. We got a new bus driver on the special ed bus. He seems nice enough, friendlier than the one we had at the beginning of the year. The driver we have had for two years on that bus retired this year. I have finished our Philly trips for a few months. I have put off even calling for the next appointment. I am so worn out and tired of traveling. I love to travel for fun but Philly trips are more stress than fun. They need to return for follow up, no big deals in the works at the moment. Next summer I sure would like to stay home. Last summer I was there with Sophie, This summer I was there with Ben. NEXT SUMMER I WANT TO BE HERE! Pat keeps sending me lovely cards and post cards. they sure are a special surprise that makes me smile when they arrive. Thanks Pat. Eric and I have been learning all we can about Aquaponics. He built a small system in the basement and we are growing lettuce there. It is a really neat process. We have been to visit a few other aquaponics systems owned by others. Its been educational for sure. Now if our Tilapia would just spawn! With doctor appointments, therapy appointments, phone calls, errands, bill paying, shopping, chicken food buying, chicken feeding, dinner cooking, dishes doing, laundry doing, and homework helping I am keeping very busy. Sometimes more than I want to be but I love most every minute of it. Yes, Pollyanna has her own new medication as well. and a new attitude. Every day I get up saying, its going to be a good day. it usually is. If I can find positives and not get upset with the kids, its a good day. Setting myself up to have a good day helps me to do that. The kids are all really doing great. Most of the issues we deal with now are just "kid issues" but we deal with it times 8-10 kids. That can get frustrating sometimes. We just remind ourselves that this is kid stuff. We took them all out to dinner last week at Chinese buffet. We had so much fun together. I love my family!! and I am loving being able to love them. You wouldn't think taking 10 kids out to dinner would be fun, but I can't wait to do it again. I don't find as much time to get on the computer and often post to facebook from my phone. I will try to update this blog more often. Life with FAS, Arthrogryposis, various medical issues can be so much work. but if I can record some of the fun stuff here, as well as the struggles we might encourage someone else. if not, its good to be able to speak your mind somewhere. This is my forum for that.

Monday, August 12, 2013

a busy summer

I have spent more time in Philly than home this summer. Sophie and I are getting ready to go there again in just a few more days. She is having an arm surgery. We will be there about a week. School starts September 3. I really enjoy summer vacation but I am at the point I look forward to school. The kids are at each others throats more often than not after all this togetherness. A few kids need to go back to routine. they are lost without it and try as I might I cant muster a routine in summer around here. Ben spent the summer in plaster going back to philly again and again to correct his club feet by serial casting. He is on his last cast and waiting for his AFO to be ready. He will also see hand doctor when he goes back again. 3 of our kids will head to middle school this year. 5 more will stay in elementary. 1 in high school and 1 in college. The kids had a great summer at summer camp and also at Uncle Bob and Jeannies. I think that was the highlight of their summer. They will be talking about it for years to come no doubt. Eric volunteered as camp counselor this year. Im sure there are tons of things I wanted to mention here but currently there is much carrying on and I cant think of what they were.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

blessings in disguise

There is a song I heard on the radio that reminds me there is good in the trials. Even if you can't see them at that moment. Some days are hard. really hard. Some days you don't want to get out of bed. Or you dread going home at the end of the day. We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, Comfort for family, protection while we sleep I have to travel with my kids quite often. I don't have the luxury of having another pair of helping hands when I do. The other day I was struggling to get my carry on luggage as well as my disabled child all gathered into my arms in the 2.5 extra seconds they give us when we pre-board before the other passengers begin boarding. We pray for healing, for prosperity We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering. I also need to close the wheelchair. Many times I do this all alone as other passengers begin boarding, passing me by, oblivious to my struggles, lost in their own world as I am reduced to tears trying to do it all, and quickly. And all the while, You hear each spoken need Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things But occasionally someone sees us. They offer a helping hand. I take it. I used to be too independent minded and strong to take help. Now if someone offers, I gladly accept. 'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise At home I deal with an explosive child. Getting along with the other children is difficult for him. He sees everything as an attack. If we help him he gets upset. If we don't help he gets upset. He is difficult to calm when he reaches his breaking point. We are often at a loss as to how to help him. We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love As if every promise from Your word is not enough And all the while, You hear each desperate plea And long that we'd have faith to believe Sometimes days are difficult. sometimes everyone gets along. on the days where no one can find a single kind thing to say I will try to remind myself 'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops What if Your healing comes through tears What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise Parenting special kids is isolating, it is all consuming, and to be honest many people just do not even understand what we do or even why we choose to do it. We do not have very many friends or people we can count on. But for these children we do it all. They deserve our best. no matter how lonely it gets. When friends betray us When darkness seems to win We know that pain reminds this heart That this is not, This is not our home It's not our home sometimes no one sleeps. this causes everyone to be cranky and have a short temper. This is the nature of the beast. That doesn't make it any easier running on only a couple hours sleep. I feel the wrath of their irritability and though I try not to, sometimes they feel the wrath of mine. 'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops What if Your healing comes through tears What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near Depression is common in parents of kids with special needs. the more kids with special needs the higher the risk of depression and divorce. Sometimes we argue with our spouses and cry ourselves to sleep wondering where we went wrong and what we ever did to deserve this life that is not what we planned for, not what we hoped for. We wonder if we can survive even one more tantrum, one more day of difficulty, one more minute of this life. What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy What if trials of this life The rain, the storms, the hardest nights Are your mercies in disguise yes. life is hard raising kids. Life is even harder raising kids with special needs, harder still raising multiple kids with various special needs. Hard but not impossible. They will grow. Life will get easier in time. I can get through it. If I can remember to look for the silver linings, the blessings in disguise, I can get through it with a lot more grace, a lot more comfort, and a lot less pain and disappointment. Each of these children given to me, by birth, by adoption, are each a beautiful blessing, no matter how hard they are to care for on any given day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

something to celebrate

I know I post a lot of draggy posts airing all my grievances. but here are some fun things. Sophie walking. http://youtu.be/ObWU2UAd3Fs Last night at dinner Ethan exclaimed "where did you come from?" and Jaeger replied " well when a mommy and a daddy love each other..." we all cracked up laughing. One day last week Ethan was very nice. I was calling him Mr Niceypants. Usually he is Mr Grumpypants. Ethan lives on a high stress level all the time. High anxiety leads to high behaviors. So this day when he was adorable and sweet and kind was a welcome reprieve. Cody is graduating in two weeks. It seems like just yesterday we were fighting him to try and spell his spelling words in first grade. Chrysta is coming back soon. She is counting the days. I missed her. She will stay for the summer. Perhaps after that she will stay for the school year. Her brothers and sisters all missed her a lot. Ethan and Maia were the most affected by her leaving. They never knew a time without her. Ethan likes to talk to her on the phone and Maia sometimes calls her out of the blue when she is feeling out of sorts. Helps her feel like everything is ok. Twice in two days two of my kids who are invariably at each others throats played happily and nicely together. Maia and Jaeger were being silly with the lifejackets on and throwing the football back and forth while wearing life jackets. Then they decided that boxing would be fun. so they would hit each other only on the lifejacket, then they were chasing each other around laughing hysterically all the while. Sophie has been spending a lot of time on the back deck with Ben and Ethan. Ben is back in casts and in his wheelchair so he cant go far. they have played a lot on the back deck this year. More than last year or the year before. And Sophie is learning to stay outside instead of fussing because there's a bug or a bird. yes a bird. she was crying to come in because there was a crow in the yard. not on the deck but in the yard. was she afraid it would snap off her nose? I dont know. I made her stay out and play. she lived. and has been out there every day since. Andre is still Andre and will always be Andre. but he tries hard. I love that about him. He doesnt see any obstacles. Ben sees every single one and needs encouragement to keep going at things that are difficult. Not Andre. He thinks he is superman and thinks he can do anything and everything. He follows his Papa around helping with whatever chores he is doing. The greenhouse that protected my chickens all winter fell down in one of the last winter storms. It has since been resurrected and little plants are growing in it now. My husband the farmer enjoys his garden. Our other house has not yet sold but we get good feedback so we are hopeful it will sell. but since there is little we can do about it we try not to fret about it. no sense in wasting our energy worrying about something we have no control over. Soon it will be summer. we can relax our schedule and play. and spelling lessons will be a thing of the past. It takes a long time each night to go over spelling words with each kid! VERY VERY VERY HAPPY to have a break from that. If the sun would ever shine we could start eating on the deck. everyone loves that. we eat lunch out there most of the summer and as many dinners as we can squeese in out there as well. My chickens are doing well and give me between 4 and 12 eggs every day. Looking forward to the new chicks. I would love to add goats or cattle this year but I am not sure if we can swing that right now. I keep trying goat cheese and goat milk but a few of the kids have already decided they will not like it. Our minivan died a terribly painful and moneyhungry death. but being down to two cars, the 15 passenger and the prius, makes us think about every trip we make out. Gas is expensive. I am also enjoying being at home more because I CANT go anywhere. well I could but I dont want to drive the gas guzzler if I dont have to. and seems a waste to drive that monster with just ME in it! Someone who reads my blog sends me notes. and once sent me a flower arrangement. the mail really brightens my day. Sometimes that little moment of "someone thought of me" is just the needed lift I need to get through the days that are hard. No matter what happened in the morning, when its time to leave Ethan is always right there, in front of the line waiting for his kiss goodbye. and he always comes down to give me a goodnight kiss. Even if he had a raging rough day. even if he said this is the very worst day EVER! he still wants his kiss. I could sit here all day and write my list of gratitudes, but laundry and dishes await.

Friday, May 24, 2013

an amazing thing

An amazing thing has been happening here. Sophie has been working very hard in therapy and at home. She can walk in a walker now and cruise around furniture but she has started to walk between furniture. and walk long distances such as room to room if you hold her hand. watching her walk is amazing. I can hold her hand and walk with her just like other parents. she and we get to be normal for a few minutes. Its so great. She is so proud. We are proud of her too. I will write to her birth grandmother and share this news. They will be thrilled. We will order her a walker, she is not yet walking independently with no support. we tried several and finally found one we like. Works well for her and doesnt work against her and it folds compactly. some of the others are HUGE! I imagine in a year or so she will not need it but if she does that will be a-ok. we are just happy she is has come this far. the rest will come. I know it. but finally after years of tears and trials she is making big progress!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Coming Home

Home. The place of comfort, relaxation, peace. Your own place in the world. The place where you can leave your troubles for a little bit and breathe. The place where you find comfort in being surrounded by your own familiar belongings. Where you know where everything belongs and why it fits best there. Sometimes your home, your place of comfort, becomes a battle ground. It becomes a place you don't want to go instead of the place you run to when the world is too much. THere are days when all I long for is to be at home, beside the fire, with my feet up, and my dogs nearby. When the running around gets to feel like its constant I just think about that fireplace. There are other days when I drive as slow as possible on the long driveway, sometimes stopping just out of sight of the house, delaying the arrival home as long as I possibly can. When you are raising kids with special needs home becomes a place where work is never ending and maybe you even develop a sort of post traumatic stress disorder about going home. When you are raising explosive children, home is not a place of peace. It is a place of high stress, constant alert. A place of turmoil rather than comfort for you. You work so hard to maintain the comfort of others, there is none left for you. Home becomes a war zone. Many of the same things that worry a solider in the field worry a parent of a child with special needs. When will the explosions happen? How can we keep damage to a minimum? Is there anything we can do to make it stop? How many will be affected and for how long? How long will the explosions go on before the source can make them stop? The constant combat takes its toll. A light tap feels like an angry punch. A simple expressions becomes a hurled insult. Misunderstandings happen more and more. The entire family is affected. Home is no longer home, but a battleground. Can you imagine going into battle again and again and not coming to a point of fear and battle fatigue? Soldiers go into battle repeatedly and have no choice but to deal. So too must parents of difficult kids. We must face the battle every day, multiple times a day, for weeks. for years. we have no idea when it will stop. Maybe it won't,there is no end in sight. Every day we get out of bed and face the unknown battles of the day. Sometimes they start before breakfast. Many days they continue until everyone drops in exhaustion. We rarely get a chance to go out and do things for ourselves. Who else would deal with the level of stress and chaos we deal with all day every day? When the kids are at school is often the only time we can get anything done outside of the home, but its also the only time there is peace at home. we rush around to get things done and hurry home to our place of peace. If the house is occupied by the ongoing battle, we may linger in the toiletries aisle debating the color of toilet paper we should buy. Anything to keep from going home. Anything to stay out of the battlefield. Next time you rush home to your place of peace and calm and quiet, ask yourself which of your friends is living in the warzone and send us some peaceful thoughts. Maybe send up a prayer for peace. Stop by with some wild flowers or fresh baked cookies. Offer to babysit so we can get out of the battle for awhile. Someone needs to take care of the parents too. If there is no support Parents of special needs kids become isolated. We run out of reserves. And when we do, who will take over the war? The children will need to be taken care of, even when the parents fall ill with stress and pain. It may be you that has to pick up the pieces of their war and battle with them in our absence. Only then will you know the true meaning of peace, after its gone.

another day, another......day

dr appointments for 2 kids today. Therapy for Sophie yesterday. Trialing a new walker. Her posture is much better in this walker than the other. it folds up nicer and easier and I only hope she can adjust to using it. I had to drive the kids to school last week because with all the melting snow the bus wouldnt be able to get in the driveway. Thankfully the culvert worked its magic and the driveway didnt flood but the upper part was pretty soggy. Its back to business as usual now and they are all off on the bus. Only about a month left of the school year. Last year at this time it was 70. this year Im still building a fire in the fireplace every day and there is STILL snowcover in places. Areas to the lsouth of us got several inches of snow yesterday and last night. Looking like the sun might peek out today but it just isnt getting that warm yet. Sophie and Ben and I are heading to Philly again next week. Since our visit to the ocal ortho doctor was fruitless I guess we will be having to run to philly for casting. Lakeisa and Mikayla will be there and Michelle and Britt and baby A will be in town too. Then there's always our good friend and ray of sunshine Becky. I look forward to our Philly trips. I dont really have any close friends here. but I see a lot of great people when I go to Philly. Mostly they are moms of kids with special needs so we sort of "get" each other. Chrysta is still at her dads, still in turmoil. I think she is going to move back here. She will definitely be going to counseling every week. Relationships are very difficult for her. She called last night and talked to her brothers and sisters. they were so happy to chat with her. It has been so hard on them for her to go. They think she doesn't love them, that's why she left us. Still trying to figure out the bedroom situation with her returning. I could just put her back where she was, with Sophie, but Im not sure thats the best place for her. I dont have any more bedrooms. She will stay down there until the end of the school year so she will not lose the year. She will not have as many choices as she did down there. but such is the consequence of rash decisions. I dont write much here as I get so busy. Dr appointments, school appointments, errands, therapies, spelling words, dinners, showers and beds and then I sit down and try to watch tv and fall asleep. The pharmacy frequently drops different meds off their autorefill list so I am running to the pharmacy several times a month too. I guess I have been away from my blog for too long because I dont even know what to write. Time to dig out those blog prompts!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

fundraising for Sophie

http://teespring.com/runfeetrun if you read this please go and look at the tshirts we are selling for sophie to raise enough money to take her to a conference for people with her condition. She really deserves to go. SHe has worked so hard and been through so much pain. She needs to be with people who understand that this isnt like your brothers friends cousins neighbors milk man who had a broken leg once. People who understand this is a lifelong issue and a lifelong battle. She needs to see people with her condition who have jobs, have children, and husbands and live the American dream. http://www.gofundme.com/2bpy20 is also a fundraiser for the same conference. We have to have all reservations in by May 28 for July conference. I am a very giving person. I give everywhere I can. I help anyone who needs it. This time, not for me, but for my daughter, I am asking for help. So far we have had 3 donations and 2 commitments to buy shirts if we reach our goal. If we do not reach our goal no shirts will be printed. we do not even have enough for ONE plane ticket, much less hotel costs conference fees meals and a ticket for Me to take her.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

AMC conference

I REALLY want to take Sophie to a conference where she can meet other people like herself of all ages. Its very expensive to fly there and stay there a week. I am doing a tshirt campaign to try to raise enough money. No tshirts will be printed if we dont meet out goal of a hundred shirts. www.teespring.com/runfeetrun please look and pass on our link!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Got a houseful of sickies this week. Started with Maia last week. Progressed to Diana,Ethan, and Andre over the weekend. Andre was able to go to school today. Ethan too, but Diana and Jaeger are still home sick. Only a couple kids left to get it and I am hoping they dont! Easter is the end of the week and we will be hosting dinner for family and friends. I have not heard from the local doctor who said she would call me after doing some research. I guess its back to Philly with him. I was really hopeful but I guess that was a wasted doctor visit. Eric is at school today talking to second graders about bees. He brought the super(empty) and the bee suit to show them where the bees live and tell them all about beekeeping. I guess when they read a book about chickens they will want me to come in and talk about chickens. maybe not. I dont know what I would tell them. That big red rooster attacks me all the time? Eric is getting ready for summer and thinking ahead to planting. I dont know what or when hes going to plant because there is 3 feet of snow on the ground! Maia had a birthday last weekend and turned 9! wow. 9. She was just born yesterday. she was just a baby last week. just a toddler last month. and now out of nowhere she is 9? how does that happen? Miss Natasha is still 10 but suddenly 10 going on 17. tall and leggy and fashionista. her birthday is coming up next week and she wants clothes. not toys or doll stuff. they grow too fast. Diana still loves her doll and plays it all the time. Not much else is new around here. just anxiously awaiting summer and school letting out. Should be a good summer with no fixaters!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

a day in the life

local ortho visit was a bust. she didnt want to cast. wanted to cut. its out motto- she's a surgeon, thats what they do. true to form she was wanting to go straight to cutting a bone out. Ben of course heard this and started crying thinking she was gonna do it right then and there. I assured him no one was taking his bones out. not now. not later. she also said the rotation in the foot is femoral. it isnt. we know this. its below the ankle. when his club feet are corrected(before they regress) they are straight! she said his hips are tight but fine. Apparently shriners was unable to send any records. so she had no info on previous plans from Dr Van Bosse. He now has an appointment to go back to Dr Van Bosse. Sophie has an appointment so they got them both in same day same time. Today Maia is home sick. She was up all night throwing up. I couldnt go to sleep after that so I have pretty much been up since about 1230 last night. I have my friends girls coming over tomorrow night for a sleepover. Im a sucker for cute little girls! they are so good though when they are here. should be fine. snow is still out there. not sure we wil see spring for a long time the way its going. late june probably! just 3 days ago we got about a fot of fresh powder. blah Im tired of winter I want spring. Had to put a bazillion dollars into my car this week. it was so hard to be without it while it was in the shop. Sophie missed therapy again because I had no car. but it runs now. life goes on. a bazillion dollars poorer. You know when they say they have to get the part from a ford dealer its gonna be spendy. I can barely keep my eyes open so I think I better take a nap.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I made some pretty amethyst crackled marble pendants. selling them for 12$ includes shipping. I have 17 right now. will be getting some blue ones for AMC. Blue is the AMC color and June 30 is AMC day when everyone wears blue. I did something to my back a few days ago and I can barely move it hurts so bad. Getting up is awful, sitting down is awful, standing is no good, sleeping is difficult. Ready for this back spasm to go away. Even the hot tub didnt help much. Tomorrow I take Ben to doc for Adhd. yes another kid will be on meds. I sure as heck hope it makes an improvement for him. it takes him nearly an hour to put on his snowpants boots jacket and hat in the morning for school. Friday Ben sees a new ortho locally. his feet are regressing. Should be interesting to hear what she has to say. thinking I will have to dig out his wheelchair and dust off the cobwebs if he goes into plaster. Life has been pretty quiet since Sophie got her ex fix off. no doc appts every week. We still have PT and OT every week, but didnt go today because of my back. There is no way I could lift her, then lift her chair, and her walker. then left chair out lift her into it and carry walker to therapy. no way possible that could happen when I cant even pick up a plate without pain. Chrysta is coming home for a week at Easter. The other kids do not have that time off from school. she has promised to be nice while staying here and be helpful. she is going to rearrange some cabinets for me since she likes that job and I dont. I told her if she emailed me a menu I would make her favorites while she is here. Well another day is over and tomorrow begins another so I better head off to bed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

ms thang is trying out a walker and loving walking all over the house! she is doing great. me? not so much. back is killing me! snow lay all over today. was a snowy night last night. We just came in from hot tub and dinner is bubbling away on the stove. Kids are outside playing in the snow. I am sitting here by the fire. love that. Eric is listening to CME on his computer. Its a nice quiet sunday. Best kind.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A little update on the fam

Queenie is doing so well! she is cast free, fixater free. She is wearing PANTS!!! love her dresses but in Minnesota winters pants are definitely good. She is wearing shoes and standing and working on walking every chance she can get. Chrysta is settling in at her Dads. it was a rought start and she still isnt sure she made the best decision but she is working to make it work and I applaud that. Cody is looking at schools, vaguely. but I am encouraged that he has gotten out of bed alone this week and hasnt missed the bus. We now have two kids diagnosed as low iq. so thats a bit of a blow and at the same time really not that big of a surprise. Natasha went to a young writers conference at saint scholastica this week. she was all shy and worried but when she came home she couldnt stop talking about it. I think she enjoyed herself. Maia is still Maia. She sometimes struggles with her brothers and sisters. SHe was really crushed when she found out that her brothers brains were not functioning at the same age their bodies are. she didnt even realize that they were much younger than her. she just loves them. it really hurt her little heart that their brains are damaged. Diana is her sassy little self. sometimes pushing that sass boundry beyond funny into snarky and disrespectful. its a fine line and she walks it pretty well but sometimes falls off. Jaeger enlightened me that the boy he plays with most at school isnt a very nice boy and gets in trouble for being mean. hmmmmm that explains a lot. I really wish that boy could find some good friends that were a good influence. he always seems to go to the ones that you wouldnt want him hanging with. Ethan's therapy has been going well. We found out that he doesnt understand idioms! Just makeing sure he understands us has made a big difference in behavior. today I have NO APPOINTMENTS! I am going to run out and see if I can find a record player. I have two and neither want to work and a bunch of records we want to listen to and cant. I am also working to lose that last bit of weight. I was spurred on to do it since my mouth is filled with sore blisters. eating is not fun or easy. so slim fast is my friend right now. The chickens are all doing fine as well. We had a friend look after them last week when we went to Minneapolis for a few days. While we were there we saw the history museum, the mn institute of art, and como zoo and arboretum. we had a lot of fun with Bob and Jeanne. Bob brought the kids up the next weekend. I am beginning to see why Jaeger so love Gavin. he is a good silly little boy. they are best friends. at school he cant seem to find that. at school he ends up with the naughty kids. the good kids wont play with him. he says anwyays. but he so loves gavin and olivia. Cant wait for summer so they can come up for a week or two. The fish are growing big, they are tilapia and will eventually be dinner, but more importantly they will feed the plants. An interesting experiment for Eric.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A hard day. again.

Today we went to the pyschologist who tested one of our kids. He saw Anxiety, depression, but not as much depression as anxiety, and adhd(which we already knew)scored high in aggression also. His diagnosis is anxiety disorder and adhd and possibly a learning disability, but will have to have school look at that. We already knew he had anxiety and depression and adhd. I dont feel like I learned anything new. That is why I went there, to learn something new to get the tools to parent this boy. I tried to stay sanguin about it but I ended up speaking my mind. probably a good thing, but I dont really feel that much better. I dont feel like this answers the questions I went there with. So do some one on one couseling, and family counseling with Eric and I the boy. I feel like I am spinning my wheels in getting help for him. and for us. I should probably go in with high hopes but I dont have them. This weekend he had a sleepover, his first really. he came home and kicked a hole in the sheetrock because his brothers and sisters were asking him questions about his sleepover. He just BLOWS UP! Im not understanding. I said that I am out of tools and I just plain dont know what to do with him anymore. If I agree he blows up, if I disagree he blows up. if I correct him gently he blows up, if I yell at him he blows up. if I try to explain why something is wrong he blows up. No mention of anything attachment related. No autism, despite hand flapping. It just isnt making sense to me. It is like one more punch in the stomach saying, yeah you are the problem, he is fine. I've heard it for years. I heard with my oldest son who now can barely leave his bedroom because of his anxiety. When you have seen your manchild in such a state he can barely get off the bed and been told since he was 6 years old there was nothing wrong, you start to question the system. I am trying to keep afloat and keep him from going under and I have no tools to do it. No more than I had this morning before I went to that appointment.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I am hosting a giveaway for Alicia on reecesrainbow.org you can find the giveaway on that page, allforalicia.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Planning a giveaway for Alicia

I am planning a giveaway to raise funds for Alicia's grant. The more we can raise the better her chance someone will choose her to be their daughter. If you have anything you want to donate as a prize email me at katieostar at yahoo. or comment here and leave your email address and I will contact you. Dont take this to mean I am not doing my part. I donate every chance I get. I cant do this alone though. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a lot more than that to raise funds for a child's grant.  Any donation of prizes, any size, will be greatly helpful.