Christmas Concert

holiday concert

The kids had their Christmas concert at school last night! It was so lovely listening to their Christmas songs and watching all of their choreography. Madeline really wanted to be up front with the rest of the kids but her preschool wasn’t involved! So she mouthed the words (all of the older kids have been singing them nonstop for weeks) and did her own little dance from her chair!

Sabotaging the “Big Days’

Jen Hatmaker knows her stuff when it comes to adoption. And I was so relieved when she posted this blog about big events/holidays and behavior. I have come to dread the holidays or big events because I know we will have lots of anxiety, sadness and confusion. With all those feelings come big behavior issues. And it’s just so exhausting! I do like her ideas of keeping things simple and not drawing out events. I definitely think those help. Our main coping technique is to not expect great behavior or attitudes. We let things slide that we wouldn’t normally. At the same token we still show our consistent rules and consequences. We prepare ourselves for a lot of crying, whining, and just general acting out. I’m sure that Christmas will be a nightmare. Like Jen says, “On Christmas morning, behavior turns insufferable over the smallest thing, over nothing. The “who got more” tally is in full effect (Ben particularly struggles with scarcity). The six thoughtful, loving presents are discarded for the one unreasonable, outrageous thing she didn’t get. We will absolutely hear: “This is the worst day OF MY LIFE!!” (We hear this regularly on Big Days.) She will end up crying in her bedroom, devolving into shame: “I am the worst girl! I am on the naughty list! I ruined Christmas! I’m giving all my presents away!” I feel so frustrated that I sometimes snap, making it all worse. Ultimately, I dread Big Days altogether and while she is thinking she is the worst kid (bless her), I am thinking I am definitely the worst mom.” Solidarity in numbers moms, we can do this together!

http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2014/12/15/parenting-kiddos-who-sabotage-big-days

National Adoption Month

I received an email request from someone at AdoptUSKids asking to add their PSA to one of my posts about National Adoption Month. While I wrote several I figured it was worth just doing a post about Adopt US Kids and add their PSA on here. If you are at all interested in learning about fostering, foster to adopt, or adopting domestically, their website has it all. It was one of the first places I visited online when we started almost two years ago looking into adoption. They have various resources for new families. There are countless resources for families by state, so that you know regulations to be approved or what kind of a stipend you can expect. They also have listings of kids. They regularly post articles that I link to, including information about adopting sibling groups. Check them out!

Click link: PSA video

http://www.adoptuskids.org

Rough Week

On Monday, while we were all on pins and needles to hear about my Uncle’s condition and brain functioning, my mom was having trouble reaching my grandmother. We had seen her the week prior at my cousin’s wedding, and we had seen her over Thanksgiving and she hasn’t been feeling well. We all asked her to see the doctor but apparently she never went. So yesterday my mom called one of her friends to go over and check on her and my grandfather (who is legally blind and therefore not too much help around the house). When their friend arrived my grandmother was on the floor and she called 911 immediately. She wasn’t in the ER long before they moved her to the ICU. Seems that she’s had a kidney stone blocking one of her kidneys and the other was so overwhelmed and dehydrated that she had kidney failure. In addition, because of all the back up from her kidneys, she also is suffering from an infection, sepsis, in her blood. I went down immediately once my husband got home on Monday and she was in bad condition. I went back yesterday morning and she was doing better. They performed surgery to relieve her kidneys and performed dialysis so her kidneys are now functioning. It will probably take a least a week before the infection is gone but the prognosis is very good. It was super stressful at the beginning of the week and today I took all the kids to school and then came home to nap and have a mental health day.

My Uncle has not yet passed. They are waiting for an organ retrieval team to take him off life support and harvest his organs. This was supposed to happen Monday, then Tuesday, then Wednesday. So far it has not happened yet. So he’s kind of caught between living and dying. Luckily (or unluckily) his brain is so damaged that he is in no pain or memory of this time.

So that’s been my week! I hope you all have had better ones!

My Heart is Breaking

Tuesday morning my Uncle was scheduled for a heart procedure to replace a weak valve. We were all concerned about complications due to a lack of general good health throughout his life, but it was pretty much an emergency. We texted the few days prior but my schedule did not lend itself to phone calls and he was busy getting ready for his surgery. Tuesday morning before going to the operating room he suffered a brain aneurysm that bled into his brain. He was found unresponsive by a nurse. He is now on a ventilator, he has had a piece of his skull and brain removed to drain fluid putting pressure on his brain, and he has been unresponsive since Tuesday morning. Because of the swelling on his brain the doctors have been unable to see the extent of the damage from the aneurysm. Unfortunately it is not looking great.

My Uncle and I have been very close my entire life but it culminated in my college years. After being diagnosed as bipolar over ten years ago, he was the one that always understood me. Twice my age but always seemed to know where I was coming from. He helped me land my job at a local GAP, which led to my job at Nordstrom, which led me to my job at Louis Vuitton, etc etc. I would not be where I am today professionally without his help and guidance. I also would not be the person that I am today without his support. He is an amazingly charismatic person, always sociable, everyone loves him, a funny guy and joker. The kind of guy that is just friends with everyone because he’s so likable.

I am just so sad. I am sad that I did not speak with him before his surgery. I am sad that I did not save any of his hilarious voicemails that he constantly leaves for me. I am sad that it has been too long since I’ve seen him in person, because we have moved so far from his home in Florida. Most of all, I am sad that he is gone. Even if he wakes up from this traumatic brain injury he will not be the same person. And waking up is even a long shot. I am sad that I won’t get to hug him or listen to his laugh. I am sad that he won’t get to meet my new children and giggle all the way through church with them on Christmas Eve as we have done so many times together. I am sad that he never found his true love, in his 50+ years, he died alone in a hospital bathroom. (I’m saying that he died there because they believe that he is brain dead. So while his heart is still pumping and his lungs are still filling with air thanks to a ventilator, his spirit has been gone since Tuesday morning). I am hoping to go down later this week to Florida but it just depends on how things progress at the hospital and with plans for a memorial.

 

Picture Update

I really need to get back on the Wednesday picture updates! I had quit this summer because it was overwhelmingly Madeline and I felt badly that I could not update you all on the other three kids… But now that I can show their adorable faces too I need to get them represented!! Here are a few special ones… I promise I owe a bunch of my son… but first these are special “sister” pictures…

sisters

Making a sick sister feel better…

sisters2

Trying on matching Adoption Day outfits…

sisters3

Walking through school together…

Here are some good brotherly love pictures:

brother

Invited into the cockpit on their first plane trip!

brother2

Special Halloween hugs…

brother3

He just loves her so much he wants to squeeze her all the time!

first day

One of the first days after the kids were placed with us, holding hands and being buddies at the store!

first day2

A picture that means so much to me… The first night the kids stayed with us. They were all excited to get new toothbrushes and then had a huge fight over who got which color. They have all grown so much in the last 5 months! Physically, emotionally…

Here are Madeline and Huck in the front row (not their real names, just their names for the blog!), and Scarlett and Anne in the back!

Selfish

They say that having kids makes you think of others first and become unselfish. Like a major ego-check. I’ve heard how having a child frees you from the self absorption that rules your early years. I would totally agree. Having Madeline gave my husband and I something to worry about other than ourselves. Someone that we HAD to take care of, whose needs and wants would come first because she could not fend for herself. Now, I disagree. Becoming a mother of four has made me selfish.

I HAVE to fend for myself. With four little ones that love nothing more than to have me do every single thing for them, I HAVE to find time for me. Many days, me time may just include shaving my legs and taking a fifteen minute shower. Some days Hubby takes over for me so that I can go to the store by myself. Even taking a five minute phone call is important now. I used to succumb to Madeline’s advanced tactics to keep me from being on the phone. Now I purposely make the children wait (respectfully and safely of course). It is important for me to show them that I am MOM, but I am also a person who has feelings and interests outside of their little bubbles.

Today I took Madeline to a playgroup with some of my favorite local moms. One of the moms there had left her 10 day old daughter with her own mother so she could bring her older daughter to the playgroup. Maybe a year ago I would have been aghast. Like, oh my goodness she just left her brand new baby to come to some silly playgroup (I know, super judging). But today, I was like “get it girl. You need this. And you look awesome.” Because frankly she looked well rested and beautiful. I remember what I looked like when Madeline was 10 days old, when I ran out of the house in between breastfeeding to go to Target. And this mom looked awesome. And good for her to leave her new baby for an hour while she had some time with her older daughter.

My life still revolves around my children. Everything I do each day and every move I make is for these four wonderful babies. But I’ve become an expert in carving out time for myself because I’ve grown to see how important it is. And I’ve also seen how little it actually affects my babies. And now they’ve come to respect my time (if I leave the house. If I stay at home their mommy beacons find me no matter where I am). So I am proud that I am selfish because it also makes me a better mom.