Happy Harvest

This is likely the last year our children will be able to go trick or treating. We took them to a local trunk or treat about 25 minutes from our town. 

Sweetie is too old age wise so she decided to just dress up and help out Princess if Princess needed help. It has been so busy and hectic that costumes never really crossed my mind. I figured they would just wear the same thing they wore the previous year. I forgot it took 1,000 safety pins to secure the butterfly wings in place. It was also cold this year so we just safety pinned the wings to their coats.

Sweetie got lots of treats as people insisted that she say “Trick or Treat!” and coached her to follow up by saying ,”Thank you!”  She is too old age wise but she is small for her age so we knew people would give her treats anyway! She was confused at first , but started putting treats in her pockets once we told her it was okay.


Princess was into it a little bit but more or less told us that trick or treat didn’t matter to her this year. Even though chronologically she is younger than Sweetie she has had more holidays within a family than Sweetie has and is letting go of young childhood activities and embracing teen experiences and talking to us about activities that will work for her. She wants to volunteer , for instance but is wondering how her hemiplegia will impact her desire to serve others. We have reassured her that these are things that most places will consider before she volunteers.

  Angel said that she really did not want to trick or treat next year. She is feeling that push to let some things go. She wore her butterfly wings to a class that we take at a local zoo . We are able to document hours at the zoo class towards science credits.  

  With our kids growing up so quickly, we have started attending some adoption support groups while the kids attend a separate group for teens. It has been very informative and we did not realize that so many families with special needs children are seeking other families to provide respite care for their children with special needs. Right now, we are very busy but this may be something we pursue some time in the future.Our heart goes out to orphaned children and children in foster care as well as adoptive families who may want a weekend away together or just an evening out. Perhaps we could serve by being someone on the sidelines to care for their children while they take a break and enjoy an evening out or a weekend away, but we really need to pray and see if this is an area where God wants us to truly serve . 

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Making progress

We are finally making some progress in our home with remodeling one end of the house. 

A couple of weeks ago you could literally see under the wall where we had cut it after our water leak. It has been dry walled and painted. Now all we need to do in our family room area is put up molding, tack the carpet and secure it.


We put new flooring down in our utility room and tested an older batch of paint to see if it would match . It obviously doesn’t so we are hoping the store can match the color. Then we need to apply one more coat of drywall behind the washer and dryer and paint. After that we need to put up molding and a bi-fold door on the water heater closet. 

The plan is to finish putting flooring down in our spare room over the weekend and put up shoe molding . After that ,we plan to finish our family room and complete the utility room and guest bathroom next week.

We awoke yesterday   morning to a broken water filter in the kitchen. We tried to install a new water filter last night and the wrong connections were in the box so we have to get the right ones and install it tonight. It is very frustrating when you try to get things done but the correct parts are not in the box or something is damaged. For instance, the spare room would have been completed last weekend , but a whole box of floor tiles were damaged and broken when we opened them. 

C’s room needs new flooring , but he said he was okay with area rugs down on his floor until after Christmas. He is really easy going and doesn’t seem to be as bothered as the rest of the family with the remodeling going on. I truly think some people have a focus on deeper things and have a bigger attitude of gratitude. C is one of those people .  Fortunately, C will be helping us along so we can get this part of the house wrapped up and finished since the contractor has been very busy with caring for his family. 

Happy Birthday Princess

We start off birthdays with opening gifts first thing in the morning for the girls.

Princess had a small family dinner . She chose spaghetti . Her grandma Grand Pa G came over for dinner and cupcakes since they live a little further away.  Beyond that, we had no extra room for family with the remodeling going on.

Princess made and iced her own cupcakes this year. Many more happy birthdays are to come.

Finding a Church 

The past year has been difficult with finding a church. We attended one church with a very small congregation. As time went on the congregation grew smaller and our children were the only children attending the church. Then we had a seasonal time change and Princess had a difficult time readjusting her morning routine. Every Sunday was met with tears. She didn’t want to be late but wouldn’t accept our help to get ready either. Her tears would make us late anyway. The church members really didn’t care if we were late most of the members were older and they knew Princess’ type of cerebral palsy was caused by a stroke and so they totally understood her situation.  3 weeks into the cycle of her frustration our oldest son told us his church service started at 10 am and there were kids there so maybe we could attend just that Sunday. Things went so well we attended and continued for over a year. Our previous church understood completely and would stop in to visit our home to see our children once in awhile.

The music in the new church was very upbeat and more modern than at the previous church. Something in the music changed and sometimes it would be louder and other times it wasn’t depending on who ran the sound system. Princess is sensitive to noise ( hyperacusis).  Sometimes sound can change and although it does not bother most of us she senses it and her brain tells her it is dangerously loud when it isn’t. She is really great with handling it and uses ear plugs when needed. She also does not wear them all the time as the pediatrician told her that it can make it worse if she were to wear them all the time.. Her method of handling the noise level was to put earplugs in when they sang and during music and take them out when there was no singing. A few times we ended up spending the service in the food reception area because of her perception with the sound of the music.  She started to have some anxiety about it. We decided to see if we could find another church to attend.  

It isn’t the church’s fault or anyone’s . It is the way her brain processes sound and then when you throw the anxiety in  because your brain is telling you the noise is dangerous or painful she ends up in a bit of a vicious cycle. She also knows intellectually the sound will not really cause danger to her but it is how her central nervous system responds and earplugs can help . 

In the process of visiting churches our home started falling apart after the water leak. It was suggested that we resolve one issue at a time for Princess’ sake due to the stress. So, we are completing one major area of remodeling at this time and then will begin visiting churches again after Christmas . If we find a quiet service that God points us to that we can attend then we will follow , but we are not making a point of getting up early each Sunday with plans to visit a church right now. We are spending Sundays doing Bible lessons and praying as a family.

 Sometimes, I do miss days of just being able to “wing it”. I miss getting out of bed and just taking the kids to church without thinking about the landscape, the environment , the noise level, etc. . But that is not life for me anymore. It does not mean every little moment is planned . It doesn’t mean life isn’t fun . It just means that if there is going to be a place we visit with loud noise or music we have to be prepared with a plan to retreat to a quiet place if needed or to carry earplugs etc.. The same way we plan to reduce stress and keep a schedule for Princess. If we forget she surely reminds us because she knows a seizure may happen if she is overtired , stressed etc. .  I do wish she didn’t have these issues to worry , but it isn’t the way things are . Helping her manage her needs and her being able to manage them herself like she does certainly makes life easier for us as parents and makes me proud of her that she accepts responsibility for her health and well-being.

Changes with adoption and Homeschooling

Before our adoptions I home schooled our kids and and worked a full time job. It was pretty simple when we had kids that could jump into any curriculum and required only a few modifications to curriculum here and there.

After taking courses on the attachment and bonding needs of children who are adopted ,we made the choice for me to give up my job so Angel would have one person with her 24/7. We scaled back quite a few outside activities to invest that time in her to bond, attach, and catch up .

Later , we adopted Princess . Throw in the typical attachment and bonding needs, seizures, therapy, medical visits and surgeries little time was left for anything else.  She also started the Ketogenic diet and we were packing food everywhere we went . Even though she isn’t on the diet anymore we still watch the kinds of foods she eats ( no junk)and we are still packing food. We also keep a pretty predictable schedule to make sure she gets enough sleep and keep stress levels low because lack of sleep and stress can be seizure triggers as well.

Next ,we adopted Sweetie. Packing food was very helpful as she knew it was always available if she got hungry when we traveled somewhere. Sweetie has also opened some doors for Princess in regards to what choices are out there for home education in the realm of alternative curriculum so students can remain at grade level with modifications .

I truly enjoy my family and homeschooling our kids but over time I have had to accept it as a bit of a lifestyle and learn there is little time to really do anything outside of our home and homeschooling right now . We have to ensure  that each child is thriving as much as possible  able to do extracurricular activities.  Fortunately, we pull it off really well. Unfortunately, friends and people who do not know us well really don’t understand why we aren’t hanging out with them or doing things without our kids with us . I have had some ladies wonder why I can not get together with them last minute or why I am not volunteering to do this activity or that activity.  I simply can not. I have to make choices and the things that will flourish will be the things I invest my time in.

I love my family and time moves on quickly. These kids will grow up one day and will have their own lives. There will be time later on to volunteer, get a job outside the home, hang out with friends etc. . Right now my time is being invested in something so much bigger . It’s something not everyone understands.

Adoption means that the longer your child lived without a mom or dad then it is going to take longer for your child to realize what love and family is versus living in an institution. It means the longer your child went without an education then the longer it will take to learn educational things. In some instances, things will need to be modified. The longer your child went without structure the more you are going to have to work to keep a schedule and structure so your child feels secure . It is a different kind of parenting and parenting at a more intentional level.

Everything takes time. There really is only 24 hours in a day . Every time we do something outside the home something doesn’t get done inside the home. Everything is a bit of a trade off. Life is easier for everyone if we know what we are doing each day, the kids know what is expected and chores, laundry , etc are on a manageable schedule. Add  in medical appointments at a hospital 2 hours each way, normal kid activities at the library, therapies that Princess needs to do and life can get hectic without a little planning. Then someone gets sick or Princess has a seizure and things get busy really fast. Life didnt have to stop, but it has had to slow down. Being forced to slow down has taught me to stop and really take in my kids. To look at them and see how much they have grown up and changed , yet are still the same. 

H was always that kid that got along with any kid. He was boisterous, talkative, and loved to be in charge. These qualities have helped him move forward in his career with helping others.

C was always a calmer kid. What someone would describe as “all boy” . He always loved to make build and create. He always loved to work and do any kind of hard work. He still had the orneriness that all kids will have but when it came right down to it he was always able to stop, think and understand the adults around him and to be respectful. He is siuch a huge help and has helped to keep the family business up and running covering for  his dad when Princess has a medical appointment or someone goes on vacation.

It’s difficult to tell where Angel, Princess , and Sweetie are headed.  

Angel is almost like the oldest child even though she is the youngest and smallest. She is small and fierce. She is wise beyond her years. She is a self taught reader since age 3. She likes management and organization. Some days I am just plain tired and Angel is the kid who reminds of dates and appointments.

Princess blows our minds everyday with her insight about life in general, the hilarious things she says and how even though academics are a huge struggle for her she keeps plugging away no matter what. The kid who wasn’t going to do this or that is the kid doing everything all the other kids are doing. It is different , but she is doing it and that is all that matters. 

Sweetie is just growing up too fast. She feels like it has happened too fast and so do we. The fact that she is high school level now in 3 years is phenomenal. Sweetie in many ways is our easiest kid and most difficult kid . She has her own ideas about things which were influenced by her culture. These are not bad. Dating ,for instance is something she she can not understand . She doesn’t understand why people her age are dating and wants nothing to do with it. They were talking about dating in youth group and she literally asked,”Can’t you let me finish Earth Science for this school year before I date?”She also doesn’t understand why kids spend the night at each other’s house. To her, she has a family and she belongs with us. Why would she want to spend the night at a friend’s house? They can come and visit during the day . She did express interest in a Christian camp , but the cost was prohibitive and it did not seem like it was service oriented. We really want her to focus on service and giving to others.  Sweetie has really stretched our thinking as parents . Things are not easy for her  trying to go along with this family stuff and teen life when sometimes her ideas about things are different,  God have her a strong soul and she refuses to compromise when she thinks her ideas are better than those around her. It has it  caused any contention , but it has made me stop and think and see the world in a different way. I am so grateful that we have such a wonderful daughter who challenges our thinking.

I am so grateful to God for each day he gives me with our children. Like all moms, I really struggle sometimes with multiple different needs . I do sometimes wish I could just wing it, . I am always behind in getting things done . Sometimes , I just don’t know how to help my children except to continually point them to the one who created them . When I see their happiness and success I give all the glory to God and feel so blessed to be a part of their lives.

 

Overreacting to Household Repairs… I think not

In the whole scheme of our household ordeal with thewater leak the contractor has insisted many times that we are wasting money replacing things that are not necessary. Maybe we have insisted on replacing things and we have ventured further than the inspectors have just to be 100 percent certain that there has been no damage from a simple water leak. Yes, we have torn things apart and found nothing just like the contractor said, .

I am not sure what the complaint is. All I know is the contractor doesn’t have a child with special needs or epilepsy who could be impacted by environmental toxins . I also have allergies and I Just can not handle taking allergy medicine. The easiest thing for me to do is avoid allergens altogether. So, what is the complaint if they get more money for doing repairs? It’s our family and our children and if we request for something to be repaired or replaced then so be it.

Mostly, things have needed to be replaced like molding , air conditioner vents and flooring because yes, we went all out and cut the drywall out and removed the molding unnecessarily to be sure. We also made them put in new flooring in our utility room.The old flooring probably could have been used , but that flooring got wet and we don’t want it anymore. Even though it dried out and looked perfect we made them replace it while we endured the eye rolling and the head shakes because they are the professionals.

Point is, they don’t have any children with special needs. They don’t live our lives watching our child have a seizure if she gets sick . They don’t have the allergies I have and deal with headaches, dizziness. and nausea when something simple like the darned pollen count is too high.  If they had our children or dealt with the kind of allergies I have they would go back and double check what the professionals say as well.

Yes, maybe when we found a little mold in the utility room we flipped out and cut out all the molding , trim and drywall. Some things just flip me out and mold in my home is one of those things.

Our comfort has been finding a contractor that was hubby’s former employee. He was a little concerned about me wanting things torn out and replaced that looked perfectly fine , but once my husband said ,” That is what she wants so we are going to do it. “ He just said okay and everything has been fine since.

Fortunately, the fiasco with us tearing up stuff is over now that we have a contractor who understands and empathizes with our situation and doesn’t have the attitude that he knows best.     Now we are in the process of putting the finishing touches on special mold resistant drywall. We didn’t even know such a thing existed  until the contractor asked us if we would like to have it installed. Things are moving along nicely since there are no disagreements between us and the new contractor.

I guess I just don’t understand why there would be a problem as long as we are able to foot the bill and pay for work we want done. I appreciate contractors trying to save clients money but if the client has the money to pay for something they want done there shouldn’t be a problem.  Sometimes, you have to move on and get a different contractor.

We also decided it is a good time to put linoleum down in C’s room and in H’s old room. We really thought about it since it wasn’t  really necessary to get rid of the carpet , but hubby said it is just as well since he is putting linoleum down in the utility room that he just puts new linoleum down in C’s room and H’s old room.

I texted C to see if he would be home to help. C came right home, ate dinner and before I knew it had ripped the carpet, padding, and tack strip out of his room. He asked what else could be done. I told him we planned to do H’s old room so he went in there and ripped it all out by himself, Everything was done before his Dad came home.

This morning he helped to load it up and helped us with a few other things and then left to go to a Christian concert with a friend he has had for years.

Our plan is to have , the utility room, guest bathroom , family room, and H’s old room ( which is now a guest bedroom ) complete before December. After December we will put linoleum on C’s room and replace the molding in the master bedroom and bathroom.

Unfortunately, a lot of things were torn apart unnecessarily. I was worried after we had found a little water  down the air condition vent Labor Day evening. I wanted all the vents taken apart and the air conditioner itself cleaned and treated . I also wanted to make sure no mold had spread through the rest of the house so we had it treated .

Often  people do not understand that mold is microscopic. You can not really see mold spores because they are in the air we breathe.

It is better to treat things and tear things up unnecessarily to be certain. Material things can be replaced, but your health can not.  It also gave us an opportunity to get on the ball and start replacing some of the flooring. We had always wished that with my allergies we never installed carpet. So, a couple of rooms will now have a nice linoleum that looks like wood.

I am grateful it was a small ordeal in one area of the house . God has been very good to us through this situation.

Keep on keeping on 

The past month has seemed like forever as we have transitioned into the school year. September began with a leaky water heater that we replaced.Unbeknownst to us , the old water heater had leaked into our family room behind a couch and a table. The utility room was dry, but all the water had went down an air conditioning vent that we didn’t discover was full of water until Labor Day evening.

I absolutely love Fall and the beginning of a new homeschool year. C had mentioned having a friend come to visit so I thought there was no better time to spruce up our home with a little paint and some Fall decorations. Labor Day was lovely and I slipped into bed the night before feeling so proud of myself that this mama was on top of things. 

After discovering water in the vent things continued to spiral out of control. We found mold and had to cut all the drywall out of our family room and utility room. I started noticing small amounts of mold in other parts of our home. I figured mold spores had spread when we cut the dry wall.  We started cutting drywall in other parts of the house and removing air conditioner vents and treating the walls.

A gentleman came to do repairs and told us to change the ductwork under our house that had been filled with water. C went into the crawl space and removed wet insulation and replaced the air conditioner ductwork.

   I started watching YouTube videos about mold and ended up checking our attic and finding mold up there. The repairman found and fixed two leaks in the roof that had contributed to moisture in the attic.  

 We are finally making progress in getting things back together after spending the weekend in a hotel.  

We decided to take a break from the hotel and take the girls to a science program on Saturday . On the way to the program we discovered our radiator was leaking and needed to be fixed.  Hubby had to take the car to be dropped off at a repair shop after our program.H went to pick him up. 

C returned home from a trip Monday and had to drive our van back home as soon as he got off the plane . Dad met him at the airport and C dropped him off at their business so Dad could drive home his work vehicle. 

We had stayed at the hotel because we were concerned that Chemical used to treat the mold would trigger seizures for Princess. Monday morning she woke up in the hotel complaining of dizziness and told me she had been awake that night worried it would hurt getting braces. Any time Princess does not sleep, has anxiety, or gets sick you can bet your bottom dollar a seizure is likely to happen. She had a few so we gave her her medicine to stop them. Fortunately, her seizures are only partial seizures which means she will usually experience dizziness or maybe a weird sensation in her hand.  Sometimes she will have arm or hand twitching on the side of her body affected by her stroke. Nothing dramatic , just unnerving as you hate to see her feel that way. She still went to the orthodontist and did some reading for her book club . The orthodontist said she did very well during her appointment and would never have known she had received any medicine to stop her seizure .  She has been more careful with her diet this week and is making more requests for healthier food. Lots of salads and vegetables mostly. 

  

Thank goodness Dad was with us when we attended the science program on pumpkins. His pocket knife worked better than the carving tools they gave us to cut open the pumpkin.


Sweetie did an awesome job carving a fern into her pumpkin,


Angel and Princess shared a pumpkin. Princess alternated back and forth between helping Angel and Sweetie carve their pumpkins.


Angel picked a ghost pattern as she did not know there were other patterns available. We don’t usually do the scary Halloween type of stuff .  

We are back home this week and happy to be here despite unfinished drywall and a load of items outside we removed from the attic. We are picking our home back together little by little. 

It will be a relief when things return to normal. In the meantime, I’m praising God for what we have and that the mess was not too large for us to handle.