Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not cruise but cute.

I was uploading some of Shiloh's cruise videos to the computer from his flip camera and came across this little gem. It was from a few months ago. They were supposed to be cleaning up a big mess they made. (note the spilled cat litter on the floor) However, it seems they found something more fun to do.

more of Shiloh's cruise pics

Curise pics from Shiloh's camera

More concert pics

A little more Nicole C. Mullens and of course more towels and another concert, not sure which one since it came off Shiloh's camera, but I think it's Mandissa. And we also have Shiloh with his new friends on a scavanger hunt.

concerts on the cruise

Here is some concert pics, mostly of Nicole C Mullens, including singing with her daughter. Also John and Sherry Rivers of the Klove morning show. I think the other is Phil Joel, but I may be remembering wrong. I finally got some prescription meds and am feeling better, but a little loopy!

More cruise pics

Paulina is wearing her new ear rings she got on the island. The boys wanted to take a picture of how food is presented. Shiloh got up and danced with the waiters! Yes, Shiloh Fuller!

More cruise pics

Here we have Me and Paulina at the formal evening, the guys opted out. Of course another towel folding creation, and Paulina on the ganway to Grand Turk Island. During the formal evening, the waiters sang to us in Italian! It was awesome.

Cruise pictures

Here are some cruise pictures.
Some will be of the towels that were found folded into cute animals each night on the bed. (Wes got the book that tells how to make them) Some are of the many concerts. My favorites were Karen Kingsbury (pictured below), Nicole C. Mullins, Mandissa, third day, Rush of fools and More! Bob loved 321Improve and Shiloh loved the impromptu jam sessions they had each night at midnight where musicians from the various bands got together.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Home safely from the cruise

I will post pictures later. I just wanted to post that we are home safe.
I picked up some sort of bug and so I am sick.
Lets, see our adventure began when we had to get the pets to the vet for boarding.
Paulina's kitten Aria walked right into his carrier. This gave her a lot of confidence. So she ordered her older cat Katchka into her carrier. Katchka ignored her. Paulina tried reasoning with her and threatening her and then left her to "think about it". Then she tried to force her in. Katchka did not scratch Paulina as Paulina is her favorite human on the planet, but she also would not go into the carrier. Finally Paulina gave up and I had the joy of getting an angry cat into a carrier. I am not her favorite person (except when she is hungry and Paulina is not around) so she scratched me and bit me. I finally wrapped her in a towel and got her in. Then we got all three dogs on leashes and into the car. Marceli's dog tipper is afraid of everything. When you put a leash on him, he collapses into a heap. His brother Sammy loves to go walking and was happy. Thier mother Sandy was excited about a ride in the car. I don't understand little Tipper. He has not been abused. He was born in our home. Granted his brother can sometimes pick on him a little, but they are also close buds. I guess it's just his personality.
Anyway, we get the pets dropped off, the minivan loaded (3 giant suitcases, 9 small bags, two wheelchairs and 6 people!) and we are off.
The flight goes well, though security is so much fun. With prosthetic legs, and wheelchairs and a cpap and computer, plus shoes and belts and watchs and then getting everything gathered back up!
We land and our shuttles (two separate ones, one for the wheelchairs that will only hold four people and the hotel one for the rest of us) take us to the hotel. (though we have to call one, even though it was supposed to be waiting). At the hotel we end up standing around with a whole bunch of other people all going on the same cruise. Bob forgot our confirmation paper, so they tell him that his reservation is for the wrong day. They just about convinced him it was! (when we got home, we checked and it was not for the wrong day!) Anyway, after an hour or two in the lobby (at midnight!) They end up taking us by shuttle to another hotel (we had to leave the wheelchairs behind and carry Marceli, which was fine since he was asleep) we pay 200.00 for a room (fuming since we assume they charged us for the night before too) and we sleep for four hours and then go back to the first. We run into lots of others who had late flights who got sent to other hotels. The ones who had confirmations in thier hands and made a stink got thier rooms free. Those who didn't, were all told that they were booked for different nights and had to pay. We are working on getting our money back. So we started our cruise totally exausted and frustrated. We get on the boad and one of the first things I do is take the kids to get registered for the kids area. The people working there tell me they don't think Marceli can participate, but that I can come back to talk to the manager at 8:30. I am pretty ticked. Marceli is devestated. The first concert is at 8, but I have to skip it to talk to the manager. I am forseeing the whole trip with a bored 8 year old who hates concerts. Hmm. Anyway, the manager is American and nice as can be and says of course he can participate. Whew! he spent most of the cruise up there, playing video games and such. He loved it, course we are thinking he could do that at home. Paulina did not like the kids area, so she spent a lot of time in her room reading and watching TV. (again, stuff she could do at home) Wesley wanted to hang with Shiloh, but Shiloh met some kids his age and is so into music that he went to lots of concerts. So Wesley ate and ate and ate. So really the only one who enjoyed the cruise for things they could not do at home was Shiloh. So next year if we can figure out what to do with the kids, Bob and I are thinking of going alone. Anyway, I am going back to bed, this bug I caught is catching up to me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Something to think about

Awsome RAD video

Here is an awesome video that explains RAD

Marceli's adoption story

As promised here is the story of how we got Marceli.

It started with an e-mail. The social worker who had done Paulina's post placement years before had heard from a domestic agency that there was a child soon to be born who would be born without arms. The parents had decided that they were not prepared to raise this child and so wanted to place the child for adoption and contacted the agency. None of the waiting parents on file with the agency were interested. I called and got some information and talked to Bob. By some mirical he said yes. So we rushed a new homestudy, paid a fee to the agency, wrote a letter to the birth family and waited. We were assured that we were the only interested family and that it was just a matter of time till the birth mother officially chose us. As the due date drew near I started to worry. Especially since I heard the agency was still looking for families. Several other families who had adopted limb different children were approached. Some turned it down becuase of the cost. Others worried about other things. I asked the agency what the issue was. I told them that if they told me, I could either drop out or perhaps address it. For instance if it was that the birth family wanted the child raised Jewish, I could not do that, though I could promise to teach him of his heretage and do the circ and such. I specifically mentioned that if she wanted him to be an only child I would drop out since that was not something I could control. If they would only tell me the issue, I could address it and know if it was something we could work with or if we should just back out. Well, she kept saying no, we were perfect. Finally the day came when she called to tell me the mother had chosen another family. Turns out she wanted to him to be an only child. Had they told me that in the first place, I would not have even put our name in. I would not have paid the fee to the agency (non refundable of course) or gotten my hopes up. So then I was left with a homestudy and my heart set on another child and no child. I knew that we wanted another limb different child since this was a special need we knew a lot about. So I began looking for our child. We started the procedure for a boy in Russia, only to be told that he was no longer available. Finally we gave up, and decided it was not meant to be. A week after that I got a phone call. An agency that works with Guatamala had recieved a letter and a photo in the mail from Poland. A charity in Poland that works with disabled children had decided that he needed to be adopted so they had sent letters to agencies all over the world. They never heard from most of them. Others told them they could not help. This particular agency, did not even work in Poland so the lady opening the mail was getting ready to throw it away. At that moment the owner of the agency walked by. She saw the photo. Marceli's Romani blood gives him coloring that could pass for Guatamalan. So she was intriqued. She asked about the photo and the lady told her. She remembered my asking about limb different children and dug out my phone number. She told me that they could not help me adopt him, but would send me the letter and photo if I wanted it. She also read me the letter over the phone and described the photo. Also in the letter was a website. The site was in Polish but I was able to click around till I found the same photo she had described. I told Bob and showed him the photo. We both knew this was our son. It took a lot of paperwork and waiting and searching to find an agency to help us and they were delays and issues, but in the end we were able to bring him home to our family and the rest is history. We are grateful for the all the God-incidences that brought him to us. (we dont' beleive in coincidences). He is a blessing to our family. Here is that first picture we ever saw of him.

Adoption story

I was this weekend how we came to get started in adoption. I found where I had written about it years ago. So I will set the scene for you and link you to it.
We were living in New Mexico. Bob was loving the dry heat and the low maintanance front yard (gravel!) and I was missing the trees and the color green. The boys were like two and four, and we had coustody of my 16 year old sister. We were teaching sixth grade Sunday school, which happened to be confirmation in that church. I was volunteering at the private school the boys attended and running a clown ministry that had taken off in ways I had never imagined. Anyway, here is what I wrote, way back then.
Then we have a cute little thing Bob wrote about how he felt. Here
Later I will try to write about Marceli's adoption six years later!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Proud Mom moment

Last night I was sitting with my husband and my two youngest children at a restaraunt. A man came across the restaraunt to talk to us. He is a man who is well known around the communitee, a very nice guy and a prominant business man. He said he wanted to tell us what a credit Shiloh is to the Cliftex. Shiloh has only been working at the Cliftex a short time and is often nervous because he is the youngest employee. This gentleman told us how polite and kind our son is when he is working at the theater. It does a mom's heart good to know her son is doing well when she's not looking! His boss told me she was very impressed at how well he learned the history of the place and she has him give tours to out of town people.

Here is the link to the Theater.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

RAD, to get help or not?

I was chatting with a friend today and she wanted to know why Marceli is not currently in counseling. I have had a couple of people ask me about his problems and what we are or are not doing and of course I have had lots of people offer me advice. So let me explain a few things.

1. His diagnosis. He has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. This basically stems from the fact that over the years he had several caregivers, those caregivers always left. This led him to beleive that love was not safe. If you love someone and they leave it hurts. We all know people who have had a bad relationship and avoid more relationships after that. Well, this is the same thing. He and I have discussed it. He knows we love him, he has tested that love. One of the sweetest things he ever told me was "Man, mom your love is so strong, nothing I can do will break it, I tried and tried." This many not sound sweet to some, but remember this kid had the attitude that he would "break up with me before I broke up with him". Forming a relationship is hard sometimes and it requires risk. He was afraid of that risk. He did not trust us not to send him back, so he didn't want to get attached. He has now given up on that. This does not mean he doesn't have fears, but that he is now willing to take that risk. Also a part of this, the reactive part, is the skills he learned that helped him in the orphanage. He learned how to get attention, he learned that being cute, and loud and smiling got him attention. He learned that repeating everything he heard got him laughs and attention when he was little. He had to compete with other children for attention and he was very good at getting the attention by doing whatever it took. He no longer needs those skills, but many of them are habits now. He learned that telling people at school he was mistreated in the orphanage got him extra attention at school and allowed him to get away with things he might not have otherwise. He learned that telling the caregivers at the orphanage that he was mistreated at school got him attention there, he even played caregivers against each other, telling one shift the other one was mean. He felt like he had to control his environment to be safe, but conversely he did not respect the adults he could control. To complicate things more, when a caregiver could see through his acts, that also frightened him and he would do what he could to get rid of that person. So when asked a question, instead of answering honestly he answers with what he thinks the person wants to hear, truth has no bearing on it. He has gotten so much better! He has truly come a very long ways and is opening his heart to us more every day.

His other diagnosis is an eating disorder. This is not a case of him being a picky eater, or not liking American food, or me trying to make him eat too much. This is a problem he had before he was adopted, though we were not told about it. There are several reaons, which I won't go into because they are very personal to him. However, what is important is that this is getting better too. He is still underweight and his health is in danger because of it. He will go days without eating or drinking if I let him. He has been hospitalized in the past for this. We have tried letting him pick whatever he wants to eat, he wants to eat nothing. He does not enjoy eating or drinking, it's all a chore. He used to throw up daily and hide food and do anything else he could to get out of eating. He has gotten better. He still had issues when schedules change. He lost three pounds over the two weeks of Christmas break recently. He is 8 years old and only weighs 30lbs. Even accounting for missing legs and arm, this is not enough. He was 26lbs when we got him two years ago. He has gotten himself as low as 23lbs (he was dangerously sick then and sleeping most of the time) He has never been above 32. Right now our goal is to not loose weight. We would love to see him grow and gain weight, but for now we are happy with maintaining. We have tried many, many things to help him, but the truth is the only thing that helped was him deciding he wanted to be healthy.

2. Medication: We have tried a few medications. I don't like the idea of giving him medication, but we were desperate to keep him alive. I do think medications are over prescribed. I think things like ADD and possibly even RAD may be over diagnosed. However, for kids who have real problems the medications can be a godsend. I have me children who truly could not concentrate and for home ADD medication was a life saver. These children were so much happier with medication. I have also met children who were just normal active kids who were medicated to make life easier for thier parents or teachers. The medications did help some with Marceli, but not enough to really make a large difference so we have taken him off of all medications. I beleive that as parents we are the experts on our own children and we need to advocate for them and see that thier needs are met.

3. Counseling: Counseling has it's place and we have seen several counselors. However, some counselors can do more harm than good. For instance a counselor who did not want me in the counseling sessions, told Marceli that he needed to learn to spend time away from me. She did not get that he had spent six years without a mother, what he was learning about was accepting a mother. He did not need help learning to seperate from me, but rather to attach to me. She also did not back me up when I explained to her that we were working on honesty. She did not think this was something to work on, I disagreed. He was having trouble separating fact from fiction and I wanted him to have help with this, but she made it worse by allowing him to tell her things that were obviously not true and not call him on it. He had no respect for her becuase he felt she was not smart enough to know when he was telling her a lie. So we left. I dealt with a social worker who felt it was my parenting that caused his eating issues. Um, they started before I met him, so I don't think I was the cause! We have also met with some wonderful specialists who did help. Right now, I think we are doing well on our own. I am in support groups where I can get advice when I need it. I have made it a point to study my son (all my children really) and work hard to give him what he needs. Some things that work for other parents who have kids with similar issues work for him, some don't. Every child is so unique and each has thier own individual set of needs. I think parents really need to be students of their children. This takes time and love, and listening.

Anyway, if someone has a question about these issues please feel free to ask. I don't know if I covered everything my friend wanted me to cover or not.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Yes, I am insane

Next weekend I will have 12 tenth grade boys in my home. Our church does a once a year weekend thing for teens called DNow. That means that with my younger kids and the college guy that will come to work with the teens we will have 17 people in the house. It will be interesting. We meet all the boys on Thursday night. (though my own tenth grader is working both Thursday and Friday nights) and they all come over on Friday. We pick up our college guy at five and then feed him (and our own kids) and get Shiloh to work at six and get Wesley to his host family and be ready for our boys to show up. My children have participated before and loved it. It's amazing how many kids in this town go. Last year it was over one third of the population of the high school and Junior high in this town. Many kids who never go to church come to this event. We have an awesome speaker lined up and an awesome (loud) band. So if you think of it, pray for us and pray for these kids.

The youth director today was telling us that several kids have told him that the best part of the weekend for them is seeing how a real family works. So many of the kids come from broken homes and do not know what a Christian family is like. We were told to keep this in mind in our intereactions with our own children and our spouses. The kids are watching more than we know. So pray that we can be a good example of a loving family for these kids. Pray for Marceli, sometimes changes in Schedule are tough on him. He will love the attention the older kids will no doubt shower on him, but likely he won't eat. He has gained back one of the three pounds he lost over Christmas, but he is still dangeriously underweight and is having problems staying hydrated. We will be going on our long awaited cruise the following weekend and we want him to be strong enough to enjoy it! We are taking his manual chair, and while in the orphanage he used it all the time and could go forever in it, the power chair has spoiled him. He took his manual chair to church and had a lot of trouble. He is weak from the weight loss and the use of the power chair. Pray that he enjoys this weekend and the cruise the next weekend.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A miracle

Downloading photos I saw this one and remembered taking it becuase it's not something I see often. Shiloh and Paulina doing dishes together and getting along well! They also volunteered, so after I woke from my faint, I took the picture.

My lego boy!

Since Marceli has had such a tough last few weeks, with changes in schedules I wanted to celebrate today because he is making better choices for the first in a few weeks. So when I saw him building this creation I had to take a picture and gush. You know, building with little legos is tough with only one hand!

Home school so far

Well so far we love home schooling. I have started at times calling my lovely daughter by a new name. "Stallina" She loves to stall on things. It was a busy week for our first week, I had hoped to have a quiet week to start, but we had lots of appointments this week that had been made a while back. However on one of them we learned she needs glasses, so we will be getting those and I bet that will help her lot. Actually we already had two with glasses and will soon have four. We are not sure how we did that, four for four in the glasses department. We can't even blame the gentics (though I blame dh, he's had lasic but his eyesight before that was terrible!)

Anyway, we love the flexibility of homeschooling. Like sitting on the stairs to write a book report! She is doing a secret project for both Social studies and Science, I can't print it here since her brothers might read this and they are a part of it. We are also getting extra benefits. When I had blood work done as soon as the lady realized she was homeschooled, she took a lot of time to explain to her exactly what they were going to do with my blood. And when Paulina asked if they would then put it back in me, she explained to her how they prepare blood that is donated for transfusions. A free science lesson!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year

We are hoping to have an awesome year in 2009!

We had some hard times, including loosing the kids beloved grandfather and the most awesome Father in law ever. But we also had some good times. Celebrating my parents in laws 50th annivesary with so many friends and family. Those two sure made a huge impact on a lot of people!
Here is a picture of out countdown (at 10:30 so the younger kids could get to bed-- shhh they thought it was midnight!) You might notice that the part of Wesley normally played by a handsome young man is being played by a pretty girl. Wesley ditched us for a party with his aunt and Amy was glad to step in for him. She spent the night. They did not want to waste a moment of thier limited time together sleeping so they stayed up all night watching all the Lord of the Rings movies, Monty Python and playing guitar hero. This means I also stayed up all night and watched the same movies. I chose to just watch during the guitar hero though. I learned I am getting old! It was a good time though and we look forward to an awesome year.