Friday, March 30, 2007

Fun week...well, most of it anyway

On Monday, Savannah got her braces put on (see pic above).  She was pretty happy with them....until Monday night & Tuesday morning when the soreness made her want to rip the braces off with her bare hands.  Poor baby....  She took some Advil for a couple of days but the soreness seems to be passing now.

Monday night, Sarah got her 2 trophies from the dance competition she was in last Saturday.  (See pic of that above, too!)

Wednesday afternoon was a little strange.  Savannah has been sort of whiney in the afternoons this week because her mouth is sore then, but Wednesday, things seemed to be really "off" when she got in the van.  By the time we got home, she was crying & all upset (note:  we live less than 1.5 miles from her school).  We barely got in the front door of the house before she said she needed to tell me something.  We went into her room & said told me that she'd gotten in trouble for cheating at school. WHAT????????  She was sobbing & you could barely understand her words because she was so upset about it.  Apparently her best buddy needed help on something & instead of helping her with the problem, she just gave her the answer.  The teacher was suspicious something was going on, so she called the other girl up to her desk & asked if she'd gotten help on the paper.  She said no.  But when she called Savannah to her desk & asked her what was going on, she immediately told the truth.  Savannah said "I just couldn't lie to her!!!".  The teacher fussed at both girls, but said that she didn't make a bigger deal out of it because Savannah was obviously very shaken by the whole thing & she could tell she was remorseful.  So, we talked about it & I grounded her from 2 of her favorite things (computer & her Gameboy) for the day.  She told me that she felt like I should make it longer because "1 day just isn't enough!".  LOL!  I'm glad she feels so strongly about her own punishment.  :)  I extended it through Saturday.  We talked about how cheating & lying are the same and how they're both wrong.  Since she was obviously very upset, we let it go from there, but did make her write her teacher a letter to apologize.  Her teacher sent me back the sweetest email telling me how sweet Savannah is & how this was the first time she'd ever had a student go home & tell their parents without her having to contact them.  She said she could see that we'd obviously instilled a very strong sense of right & wrong in her and that she was proud to be her teacher.  Whew........that sure made me feel good.  I think Savannah's been so upset over all this that she'll never cheat again!

Thursday was Samuel's birthday.  He turned 7.  Hard to believe that it's been 7 years since he was born!  I can't believe he's getting so big!  (well...he's older, but not a whole lot BIGGER  ha ha)

Another funny from Samuel came yesterday morning.  We were talking about science classes for junior high & high school.  Samuel was laughing that Savannah would have to do all this stuff before him (the gross things, that is).  He started laughing & said "Hey Savannah!  You'll even have to digest a frog first!!!".  Larry & I cracked up.  Digest a frog, eh?  Man....they've gotten tougher in junior high since I was there!!!  LOL!!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tomorrow will be fun!

Tomorrow will be a fun day for the Reeves kids!  (Or maybe I'll be the one who really enjoys it....guess we'll see!)

At 9am, Savannah will go in to get her braces put on!  I can't wait to see her with a little tin grin.  Don't worry...I'll share pictures!

Tomorrow night, Sarah will get her trophies from the dance competition she was in on Saturday.  She is sooo excited about those!!

Samuel asked tonight "What do I get tomorrow?".  In reply, I told him he "gets" to go to school.  Yahoo!  Somehow he didn't seem quite as excited about that as the girls are about their new things tomorrow.  Gosh, picky picky......  ha ha

A funny from him last night----- we were laying in his bed talking before he went to sleep.  We discussed our upcoming trip to California (in August).  He asked a bunch of questions about flying there & what that was like.  He then looks at me with the most serious face & asked me if we would fly on a jet or an airplane.  I was puzzled & said that jets are a type of airplane.  He gave me the most incredulous look & said "No they're not!  Jets are BOY planes!!".  LOL!!!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A new season part 2

On Monday 3/12, we spent about 6 hours calling a huge number of places.  We learned that day that there are 490 residential facilities in Texas that we could choose from to place Andrew.  Our first choice was Azelway, a local Christian group our church supports.  That was our first phone call.  In calling 60-ish of these facilities that day, we got the same story, time & time again.  Either they don't take violent kids or they don't take kids in this age group or they are full or they cost an arm and a leg (roughly $2000-2500 per month!!!!).  Over & over we got the same piece of advice.  That advice was to call CPS & have them get involved b/c often CPS can get a child placed in these group home settings where an individual can't.  On Monday evening, that was the last possible resort phone call.  I couldn't bear to listen as I knew they would not turn us down & the process would be started.  I didn't even want to hear Larry as he called them, so I left at that point.  My heart was breaking at the idea of having a "child protective service" caseworker in my home, inspecting every detail of my life like I'm a criminal, interviewing my kids to make sure they were not abused.  The gross reality of it made me want to throw up.  After making that phone call, we decided to go to a movie & just hide from the world for the night.  We were next in line to get our tickets when the CPS worker called to let us know that the caseworker would be at our house in a few minutes.  WHAT?????  We had no idea how quickly they worked!  We were on the other side of town!  We called the caseworker's cell phone, explained the circumstances & ended up meeting him half way at his wife's office.
I cried through the whole meeting.  I was so torn up about the whole thing that Larry had to do most of the talking for me.  The caseworker ended up being the most gentle, sweet man...caring & understanding about our predicament.  He was very level-headed & concerned about everyone's best interests ---not a whackjob like I was afraid we'd get!  He comforted me, assured me that we were making a good choice for all 5 of the kids' sake and got me Kleenex to wipe my tears.  While it didn't really change the grief & heartbreak I was feeling, it was nice to know that we had a very kind person 'on our side' to help us through this very hard thing we were doing.  He told us that the state mandates require that siblings stay together, so before we tried anything else, he wanted to try to place the kids together.  He also told us that the state requires that they attempt to place kids with a family member before looking anywhere else.  We gave him names & phone numbers of the only family members we knew of and told him that one in particular would be the best choice.  He agreed to call that family member (Kelly's brother Jerry and his wife, Betty) the next day to see if they would be willing to take custody of the kids.  We left that meeting encouraged, but still hurting.  We called Jerry ourselves that night, alerting him that he would be getting this phone call the next day, and explaining the situation that had brought us to this place.  He was just as stunned as we were in Feb 06, shocked at the idea of taking in 2 new kids to raise.  The next day, he talked to the CPS caseworker & agreed to take the kids. 
On Tuesday 3/13, we went to pick up the kids from Larry's parents.  Andrew would stay a few more days because the CPS worker advised that we let him stay there until the move.  I have never cried harder than I did when I had to drive away & leave him there that night.  He was sobbing & holding onto me saying that he wanted to go home.  Just hearing him call it 'home' was so very difficult because I knew, at that point, that he'd be moving by the weekend.  (We didn't find out until later that evening that Jerry had agreed to take the kids & that they'd be moving on Friday.)  My father in law had to peel him off of me & Larry had to push me out the front door to leave.  The other kids didn't realize what was happening yet, so my loud cries had to be done quickly & fiercely between the house & car because I needed to get in looking calm & fine to the kids.  Luckily it was late & nearly dark, so I could hide under the cover of night soon.  Until then, I turned my face to the window & did my best to hide my tears from the kids who were drowsy in the back seats.
By the following day, the time had come to tell the kids & begin packing.  My mom came over to help me clean & pack.  That evening, Larry & I sat the kids down to explain what was about to happen.  We began to tell them in the most patient, loving way we could.  Before we could finish, Kourtney cut in & asked if she & Andrew needed to move out.  We were shocked that she could see where the conversation was going and was so quick to say that.  That night, she hugged on me & loved me more than she has all year.  I know she's moved a million times in her short life, but she told us that night that our home was her favorite place she'd ever lived.
In those next 48 hours, we quickly packed everything that Andrew & Kourtney own.  It was funny to see the pile grow.  When they moved in, they came with only what would fit into the trunk of Larry's grandmother's car.  They left with a 16ft. trailer full of stuff plus all of what they had in the back of Jerry & Betty's SUV.  It was so strange to pack up all their things, knowing that in such a short time they'd be gone.  I went to bed crying every night and woke up to cry some more.  I knew it was the best choice to make for the kids (all 5 of them) but my heart was breaking that I couldn't "fix" Andrew's problems so that he could stay.
Everything in me wanted to "mama love" him enough that he'd be ok.  I wanted to be able to wiggle my nose & heal him..... to bring him security & love on a deep enough level that he'd be changed.  To wrap him up in the arms of God & see him grow up in the Church.  Reaching a place where I knew that I just couldn't do that for him was hard.  Knowing that we had done nothing wrong, but that *this* simply wasn't the environment where Andrew would find healing, we had to let go of him (& Kourtney).  Knowing that in my head and believing it in my heart were 2 different things though.
Friday morning arrived quickly.  Jerry & Betty were to arrive around noon to load the kids up & drive 6 or 7 hours back home.  It would be a long drive, so we knew that they'd want to load up & leave as quickly as possible since they'd have to unpack & unload the trailer when they got home.  My in laws brought Andrew home early that morning.  My FIL had already explained things to Andrew and I had talked to him on the phone the day before, so he knew what was happening.  Sadly, he didn't seem phased by it.  I guess he's moved around so many times in life, he just didn't feel like this was anything new.  Kourtney, on the other hand, was a little lost lamb that morning.  She had gotten excited about the prospect of her new home & the pets there, but she was nervous when the day arrived.  I spent a lot of time that morning curled up in the recliner with her, holding her & rocking her like a baby.  It was devastating to watch tears roll down her cheek & her chin quiver.  Once again, in this week full of great sadness, my heart was broken.  I sat there holding her, praying that God would give Betty a great maternal instinct to love Kourtney.  She so badly needs a mommy...not just an aunt who loves her.....and while I had been that to Kourtney these past 13 months, I prayed that Betty could quickly fill that role & give Kourtney all that she needs, too.
The time arrived & it was time to say goodbye.  We walked the kids to the car, hugged them one last time & waved as they drove away.  It was only moments before I was in Larry's arms, struggling to stand upright and clinging to him for strength as the waves of grief came over me.  Precious moments were spent there, spilling tears on our shoulders & just hanging onto each other. 
The first couple of days were rough as we had to travel to Dallas to tell G, in the prison where he's housed, that his children had been moved.  He didn't take it well, as we figured he wouldn't.  Last Sunday I was able to hide out in the nursery & care for the little ones, so tomorrow will be my first time back in Sunday School & church.
I can't say that it's easy now, but the initial deep level grief has passed somewhat.  My heart still aches for the children I've "lost".  Each time I find a piece of clothing they left behind or a toy they played with, memories flood my mind & I find myself hurting again.  But I'm beginning to see a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.  I guess the waves of emotion will continue over the years, but for now I'm doing alright.  I suppose that's how grief & loss works.
I told my friends & family, on the day after the kids moved, that I was resting in the promise of the verse in Psalms that says "sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning".  I know my "morning" will come someday.  I am not entirely in the "night" right now....but also not entirely seeing daylight either.  I guess I'm at about 3am now.  :)  (Hey, if I'm going with metaphors here, I figured I'd fill in the "time" for a gauge of where I am!)  I know that 8am will happen one day.
For now, it's been weird waking up to only 3 mouths to feed.  I can't tell you how many times I've poured 5 kid-sized drinks or set 2 extra plates at mealtime.  I can't explain how odd it is to see 1/2 of Sarah & Samuel's closets empty or recognize the extra space in their bedrooms.  The neighborhood is a little quieter these days and the yard seems a little less crowded when the neighbor kids are over playing.  But while those things all seem odd & empty in a heart-breaking sort of way......I'm also discovering that this is a new season of our lives.
Throughout my adult life, God has continued to add more chapters to the book I plan to one day write (titled "That Was Not Part of the Plan").  Slowly, I'm coming to realize that the chapters that will include Andrew & Kourtney will be both joyful & sad ones.  They are chapters that will fulfill me and leave me breathless.  Life with 5 children under my mother hen wings was hard, but oh so shaking but oh so beautiful.  And life with just 3 is too......
And so as we welcome this new season of our lives, I'm curious to see what God will bring next.  Each time I think I'm ready to sit down & start writing the book, He brings me a new chapter to deal with.  Ultimately I've learned the same lesson from Him over and over.......that I am NOT IN CONTROL OF ANYTHING.  Maybe if I'd ever just get that through my thick head, life would be calmer for us.  Hmm.....nah......I kinda like the monkeywrenches He throws at us.  (After all, monkies are my favorite animal...LOL)  Seriously, though, I don't guess I want to get real comfortable.  Sure, these blessings that come wrapped in the disguise of crisis are usually the things in life that draw me nearest to God.  They hurt.  There truely is "pain in the offering" of giving them over to God entirely......but in the end, they draw the most clear picture of His love for me and I'm always so glad to have lived through yet another "monkeywrench".
Lord, thank you for giving me the insight of realizing the many many 'chapters' of life you continue to guide us through.  Pain & sorrow may come with these crises, but in the end, we always seem to recognize where Your hand was guiding us the whole time.  We love you.  Thankyou for the monkeywrench of Andrew & Kourtney's time here.  Thank you for letting me be a mama to those two sweethearts.  Thank you for letting them be a part of our family, even if only for a year.  Thank you for the pain in letting them go because that means that we really did bond to them & we really did touch their lives (after all, if we hadn't bonded, it would've been easy to hand them over to someone else).  Thank you for their aunt & uncle and their willingness to take them into their home, even knowing the issues they face ahead with Andrew.  Thank you for Andrew.  Thank you for Kourtney.  Thank you for my precious family who was willing to bend their lives to welcome A&K as their own siblings & for my extended family who accepted them as grandchildren, nieces & nephews.  Thank you for our church who loved A&K this past year.  Thank you for the many beautiful people you put into our lives to minister to us and to A&K during this season.
You are good.  You are good.  You are good.  Even in the hard, most horribly painful experiences, you are good.

A new season

As you can see above, I've changed the blog title & description.  It only seems to make sense to change things with the changes in our life.
I'm sorry it's been a slow, quiet couple of weeks around here.  I never planned to go through the changes that have happened here, so my heart was a little flipped upside down & backwards for a while.....which means this blog site was the last thing on my mind each day as I layed in bed crying & imagining the pain & sorrow our decisions would cause A&K.  Let me backtrack a little & fill in some gaps for those of you who still have questions.  I'll start from the beginning.

On 2/9/06, one of my closest friends - Lisa Hardel - died of complications surrounding her 2 bouts of leukemia.  She was in remission & considered to be "cured" by her doctors, but she was taking a million maintenance drugs and was having many, many side effects to those medicines.  She was miserable, but she was not on the verge of death, so her sudden death that Thursday completely took me (& everyone else who loved her!) by surprise.  She died about 4:30 that afternoon.  I spent the evening & into the wee hours of the morning sobbing for the loss of my friend.  By the following morning I had come to terms with her death (I thought) and was at peace with the fact that she was in Heaven, dancing with Jesus, eating the foods that her health issues had prevented her from enjoying on earth.  I learned later that my grief for her was not over, but I believe now that God brought me to a comfortable place so that I would have the mental capacity to deal with a much bigger issue that day.

Larry was having back pain problems & was under the care of a pain management doctor.  On Friday 2/10/06, he had injections in his spine to relieve pain.  We left the hospital at approximately 1:45pm & were heading home when the cell phone rang.  We were only a few blocks from the hospital we had just left when we got that call.  It was my father in law who asked us to go back to the hospital & check on Kelly (my sister in law).  She was married to G (Larry's brother).  I didn't get all the details at that time, but learned later that she & G had a car wreck that morning & she was in bad shape.  G had been driving drunk & was in jail in the county where the wreck occured.  Their children were, at that time, still in school.  My father in law was not sure of her condition, but knew that she had left their local hospital in bad shape.  He indicated that it didn't look good for her, but that they had brought her to Tyler where there were better facilities to handle her condition.  Since we lived closer he sent us to check on her while he waited for news.
When we arrived at the hospital, it was too late.  Kelly was already gone.  We were seated in the small "family room" (aka: the bad news room) at the hospital to cry, talk to the chaplain, call family members, etc.  We were asked to go in & identify Kelly's body, sign papers releasing her body to the funeral home, sign hospital forms about her bills and more.  It was the most surreal day of my life.  All at once I felt very "grown up" as I'd never dealt that closely with the death of a loved one before.......but also very helpless & shocked.  It was such a strange feeling to sign all those papers & identify a relative who was covered with a sheet.  Larry made the phone call to his father to tell him that Kelly had died and he (my father in law) prepared to tell her children as they got off the school bus.
Sitting in that little room at the hospital, we knew our lives were about to change.  Kelly had just talked to us a couple of months before about taking her children if something were to ever happen to her.  We had agreed, but of course never expected that it would actually happen.  As we sat there & talked to our pastors, who came to be with us, we discussed the very strong reality that our family was about to grow by 2.
Within my most selfish thoughts, I realized that Kelly's death & impending funeral meant I would probably miss Lisa's funeral.  I knew that family was more important in a situation like this, but I couldn't help but grieve knowing I would miss my friend's funeral.  Later on it would be confirmed that Lisa's funeral & Kelly's were scheduled for the exact same day & time.  I couldn't do anything about either death or the loss the 2 families felt, so I chose to attend the funeral that most closely effected me & the family I cherish.
It took several months for my grief over Lisa's death to resurface.  I was far too busy in the interim to think about her.  It's now been 13 months & I still cry over Lisawhen I think of her, but it's gotten a lot easier as time has passed.  She was so very young (barely 30) and had such a bright future (with her husband of 10 years and three young children, about the same ages as my own).  I love ya, Lisa.  Hug Jesus for me tonight.  :)
Anyway, in my home, life drastically changed.  We very quickly got together beds and clothing for 2 new children.  Family & friends came out of the woodworks, so to speak, offering support, prayers and much love.  The kids moved in 8 days after Kelly's death and our lives began a new season that we fully intended to see extend into their adult lives.  At the time they moved in, G had not yet been sentenced for his crime, but we knew that the sentence could range from 2-20 years.  We suspected that he might receive a heavier sentence because this was not his first drug/alcohol related arrest.  In the end, he was sentenced to 10 years, which means he'll serve approximately 2 1/2 years.  At present, he has been in jail/prison for 13 months, so he has a little more than a year left to serve.
We chose to go through the court system & get "official" custody of the children so that we would always be covered legally if something weird were to happen.  We re-wrote our wills to include them.  We looked at Andrew & Kourtney as two new children of ours .... not as our neice & nephew who had come to live with us.  Being a mama, I tend to quickly fall in love with kids anyway, so it took a very short period of time before I felt very much like their mother.  I always believed, and still do, that biological or not, they are at least part "my kids".
Over the 13 months that they lived here, we fell in love with the kids.  Kourtney quickly began calling me 'mama' & in a short time, she was giving me big wet kisses & snuggling me just as tightly as the other girls.  Andrew loved snuggling in bed at night, telling me all his memories and dreams and hopes for life.  Both kids missed their mom, but Andrew was always strangely detached from the loss.  Kourtney would cry & talk about missing her mom, but Andrew never shed a tear or seemed to grieve her a bit.  It didn't take long before my love for these kids and the hope & desire to 'heal them' was overwhelming.
When they moved in, we knew that Andrew had emotional/psychological issues to deal with, but we believed it was just his ADHD & having lived a hard life that were problems.  We had no idea that anything lurked deeper under the surface.  As time went on, we saw a very angry, agressive little boy emerge.  Not only was his temper quick, but so were his fists & his tongue.  The smallest spark set him ablaze.  I cried myself to sleep so many nights for Andrew.  I felt scared, early on, of what he might do to one of the kids or us, but kept believing that we had it under control & would "love him through it".  We had him in counseling & psychiatric care, so we felt like we were doing everything possible to help him overcome the rage & evil that was planted so deep in his heart.
While Andrew's attitude & dimeanor were always a little on the abrasive side--- a child who would trip the other kids, pick fights constantly and lie about everything under the sun --- he had a very gentle, sweet side as well.  I believe he always saw Kourtney & Sarah as equals, little sisters for him to protect & care for.  He never really hurt or bothered the two of them, but Savannah & Samuel were a constant threat to him and he would stop at nothing when it came to arguing/fighting with them.
As time went on, we witnessed Andrew's attacks on Samuel (who he shared a room with & was a quicker target) and Savannah (who he always butted heads with because she is the oldest) becoming more & more frequent.  Punishments and discussion never made a dent in Andrew's anger issues and in time, they became completely ineffective to stop him from flying into a rage and hurting himself or others or things that were nearby when he got mad.
While we realized that none of the things Andrew dealt with emotionally were his fault, we were becoming more & more nervous about what he could potentially do in one of his hot tempered moments.
We learned, through research we did on our own, that Andrew very very likely has what is called Reactive Attachment Disorder.  While never officially diagnosed, Andrew has every symtpom in the book so we began researching it in an effort to better understand him.  While healing and recovery from RAD is very difficult, intense therapy & teaching the parents/caregivers how to handle an RAD child is possible.  I joined multiple email groups on the subject & we checked out books from libraries all across the country trying to learn everything we could about how to handle Andrew.
For a very vivid picture of what an RAD child looks like, watch this movie.  I found it on where we rent our movies, but I'm sure other movie rental places probably have it:  There is a child in this movie who has RAD, although they never specifically mention that.  You will KNOW which child it is, however, when you watch the movie.  As I watched it, I cried knowing that this child has the same issues as Andrew --- a very disturbed little boy with pain running so incredibly deep that he can't control the way it boils over out of himself daily.  (Note:  the child in the movie however has Cystic Fibrosis & ultimately dies at the end of the movie.  This is a documentary, so the story is indeed a true one.)
In time, Andrew became a risk to the other kids and to Larry, threatening to burn down the house & stab Larry in the head in his sleep.  We were very nervous about these threats but when I walked in & saw him beating the tar out of Savannah on the morning of 3/11/07, I knew it was time to move him.  I drove the kids to church that morning and then got in the car & drove to the far corner of the parking lot to hide my face & cried for over an hour.  Realizing that we had reached a "point of no return" was the most painful revelation.  I knew that we had reached a place where safety was a concern but knowing we would actually have to physically remove him from our home was devastating, heartbreaking, painful & completely overwhelming.  I pulled myself together & went into the building for the worship service with the biggest cloak of dread.  I knew that I would have to talk to Larry about this quickly before the service began....but as it turns out, he was baptising someone & didn't make it to the pew til a few minutes into the service.  I sat there, tear-stained and broken, waiting for an appropriate time to tell him what had happened that morning.  He finally turned to face me at one point & recognized the sorrow on my face and I was able to write him a note & share the morning's occurances.  He read the note & put his face in his hands.  I believe that he knew what was ahead, too, and he was feeling the same anguish.
Over the course of the next 12 hours, we talked a lot, prayed more, talked with his parents and ultimately decided as a family to start calling the following day to have Andrew placed in a group boy's home setting.  We left the kids (all 5) with Larry's parents that evening & drove home in silence.  We were both aching over the place we were in and felt helpless to change the turn of events, hating that we were having to make these decisions and of course, having to add to the pain in Andrew's life.  The kids had no idea, when we left, that Andrew would not be coming back home with us in a few days.  They had a visit planned with Larry's parents, so we let it continue as planned & spent those next 2 days making a thousand phone calls.
(continued in the next post---there is a limit to the # of characters per post)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.


I read this & kept having to re-read it this morning.  I can only think of two things here.  When I rejoice over my kids with singing, it's usually something like the potty dance...when we were potty training one of them & when they were successful we all danced & cheered & sang the "potty song"--you know, the impromptu Hooray for you type of things we do as parents.......or the times when they make a good grade on a test they've reallyyyy had to study hard for & we shout & cheer and jump around & sing.  Ya know?  And it also reminds me of how I sing & rejoice to God when I feel blessed.  And so... somehow I'm supposed to grasp that GOD rejoices over me with SINGING?!  HE sings about me?  HE is rejoicing over me?  Sure, it's may not be the potty song & dance (ha ha!!!) but He is rejoicing over me!  Wow.  How does that work?  Let me see if I can get this straight.

He was sitting up in Heaven one day a bazillion years ago & decided to create the earth & human beings.  He tossed around some ideas & SPOKE them into being.  He made the sun & moon, put them into orbit, fashioned some stars & fixed them to the sky.  He pulls the water in & out from the shore line and tells the animals what sounds to make and where to sleep at night.  He decided to create some people, so he took a little dust & made a man.  He intricately developed our nerves & cells & blood vessels & set our hearts to beating in a rhythm that keeps us alive.  He gave us eyes to see the wonder of all He had done, and gave us free will to spit in His face if that's what we so choose.  He allowed all His creations to torment & ultimately kill His only Son---who only showed up on the scene to HELP us.  He formed me, made me who I am, watches me & knows every thought that runs through my mind (shudder!) and understands my pains & joys.

And somehow He rejoices over ME?!

Wow.  You ARE GOOD, Lord.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

...and to this....

Psalm 23 (The Message)
 1-3 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
      you find me quiet pools to drink from.
   True to your word,
      you let me catch my breath

      and send me in the right direction. <BR \>
 4 Even when the way goes through
      Death Valley,
   I'm not afraid
      when you walk at my side.
   Your trusty shepherd's crook
      makes me feel secure
. <BR \>
 5 You serve me a six-course dinner
      right in front of my enemies.
   You revive my drooping head;
      my cup brims with blessing. <BR \>
 6 Your beauty and love chase after me
      every day of my life.
   I'm back home in the house of God
      for the rest of my life.

I'm's hard, but I'm clinging to this:

From Psalm 139:

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?

 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,

 10 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

volunteers to help me with something?

I need 13 volunteers.  The kids have lived with us for 13 months.  I would like to print out the entire journal from the very first entry up to the end of this month.  I'm going to take it to Kinko's, run a 2nd copy of the whole thing, then get them to bind each set into a spiral of some kind.  (OR if I could get 26 volunteers to print out 1 month each, that would keep me from having to get copies run!)  I want to give these to the kids to keep so that they can read the year's journal of their lives here when they're older.

The only thing is, our printer is screwy & gets messed up after printing a small I just don't have enough ink to print that many entries!!

Would anyone be willing to pick 1 month & print out all of the entries (including the pictures that were with various entries) from that month for me?  And then either give it to me or mail it to me (whichever works depending on where you live)?

I guess I can tell ya now....

I don't really want to go into details on the website, so forgive me for this being somewhat vague.

This weekend, we realized that we must find a new home for Andrew.  We have ended up making the choice to move Andrew & Kourtney together as it is always best to keep siblings united.

This has been the most painful horrific few days since the decision was made.  Their uncle (on their mom's side of the family) will be coming to get them Friday.  We have a very limited time left with them and the sadness of the situation is nearly unbearable.  I'll explain more later, or you can call/email me for more info.

Please continue to pray for us.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Got any spare prayers laying around?

Please take a moment to pray fervently for us in the coming days as we have to make some very difficult decisions.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Super long post!

INTRO:  I'm sorry that my posts have been a little scarce lately.  I'll try to do better.  I want this journal to not be entirely focused on one child's issues or the negative things that go on around here, but for the past few weeks I haven't been able to get out of a funk.  I didn't want to share a bunch more sad, depressing, frustrating & negative stuff, so I just chose to not post at all in those times.  I realize I have posted some, but you have no idea what all I haven't shared in an effort to try to not traumatize those reading this.  It's becoming more & more obvious that we're dealing with some big psychological issues and the truth is, most people really don't want to hear the gorey details of how that plays out in real life.  I mean, we all know it's "out there" & that people deal with it, but we don't really want to hear about it.  Truthfully, before this all landed in my home, I might've felt the same way but I'm learning so much about how other families cope with these kinds of things and those family's stories are the most encouraging thing for me! 

I've come to realize that posting it all--- good & bad --- is very therapeutic for me.  Getting it all out, allowing others to drench us in prayers & support us emotionally is vital to my survival.  I feel like I'm living on the brink of a nervous breakdown some days & every time I make it through another (spiritual) attack on my home/children/family/spouse without completely losing it, I realize that those are the days I had the most prayer warriors kneeling before the throne of grace for me.  Hearing from other families who've "been there, done that"....hearing their testimonies & learning from them is good, but they'll never know what we're going through unless I talk about it.  So there ya go.  Some days you're going to read happy things here that make you laugh & cry tears of joy, but some days, it'll be bad stuff that breaks your heart, as it does mine.  There may be things here that you don't want to hear or see.  There might be details that freak you out a little bit or parenting moments you may not agree with me on.  But that's ok.  We're doing what works for us & so far, we're doing alright...I think.  I really need an outlet to get out both ends of the extreme, so if you're reading this, go ahead & write yourself a check for a million dollars.  Voila!  You're my therapist & listening ear.  I love ya!  Praise the Lord for those of you who WANT to hear/see all of this stuff---the good & the bad!

Now.....onto the post!

Item #1--- Over the course of the past month, we've been trying to switch Andrew's ADHD medicine.  The one he had been on for the past few years had quit working, so it was time to switch.  He was given one kind that did NOT work.  When we finally got him up to the dose that would be 'ideal' for him, things went haywire.  He couldn't sleep.  He'd wake up at 2 or 3am, thinking it was time to be up for the day.  He was wired in the middle of the night & couldn't get back to sleep without waking up at least 1-2 of the other kids & getting into some sort of mischief.  Yawn!  He barely ate....this from the child who is usually the human garbage disposal.  He was nauseated by bedtime.  Between the lack of sleep & food and feeling bad every night, he was a real JOY to be around (said with dripping sarcasm, just in case ya didn't notice ha ha).  The doctor felt like we should reduce the dose & more slowly work him back up to the same dose a 2nd time before giving up on it.  Oh only took ONE day back at that dose to convince us that Adderall XR is NOT the right medicine for Andrew.  Poor kid.  He stayed in so much trouble during that entire 3 week period.  I'm glad that's over.

We're trying a 2nd new medicine now.  This one seems, so far, to be working out better.  We bump him up the dosage schedule every 3-4 days & so far, we're only on step 1 of the schedule.  There are 5 levels to it, so we have a ways to go before we know for sure if this is "it" or not.  Please pray that we don't have to sort through a million different medicines before we find the right one.  Please join us in praying that eventually God will totally cure Andrew of a need for ADHD medicine.  Until He does, finding the right medicine is crucial.

Item #2:  Sibling rivalry is making me nuts these days.  There's always been constant chaos since Feb 06, but it really seems to be hitting a HIGH these days.  The kids can literally all get out of bed at the same time & before they make it to the kitchen for breakfast, a fight has broken out---and that's saying a lot since it is only a matter of 3-5 steps from their bedroom doors to the kitchen!  I hate when there is yelling & screaming going on over cinnamon rolls & orange juice.  It seems like one particular kiddo is usually at the heart of most of the arguments (although I won't mention any names  ::cough:: Andrew ::cough::), instigating trouble or name calling or tripping someone as they walk past---just constant picking & nitpicking to bug everyone.  When he's called on it, he immediately goes into defensive mode, claiming he didn't do anything.  :::Sigh:::

The boys spend sooo much time fighting & arguing when it's time to clean their room that I tend to let it go for a while (my fault) before I really FORCE them to get it totally cleaned up because I dread having to deal with the level of meanness they dish out inside those walls.  I know that I have to stay on top of their room to keep it from getting so bad (& therefore making the cleaning up job take much less time & effort), but remind me again....where is that energy tree?   This week, I told them it was time to get the room cleaned.  I told all 5 kids on Monday night that they were all officially grounded (from EVERYTHING) until their rooms were clean.  I figured that would kick them into high gear to get it DONE.  Nope.  Today's Friday.  The boy's room is STILL not done.  I think I may rip my hair out tomorrow as I try to get them to finish the last little bit!  Anyone else up for a Britney Spears look with me?  I'm not sure how I'd look without any hair.

Last night, Larry fussed at the boys for the length of time it was taking them to clean up their one bedroom.  He put them to bed for me while I did other things.  Apparently after he left the room, Andrew said something to the effect of "I want to stab him in the head".  Samuel told us this morning & of course Andrew denied it.  Talk about feeling like you've been sucker punched.  Tonight, in the heat of hearing that the girls were going to be allowed to watch a movie in their bedroom because they got their room cleaned up, Andrew began screaming a barrage of ugly remarks at Samuel (because the majority of what is left to be tidied in their room is Samuel's).  When he yelled "You're stupid, stupid, stupid!" at the top of his lungs,  I asked him how he'd feel if someone called him 'stupid' & he said "I'd start slapping them in their face over & over."   I reminded him that we don't call each other names & definately not mean ones...and because he had chosen to do so, he would have to be grounded for all of spring break.  He immediately burst into tears & said "I can't believe I'm grounded again.  I hate Adam & Eve for eating that apple!!!!!  Why did they have to do that???"

(snicker....I had to grin at this comment!  Maybe we're making a deeper dent than we thought!!!!  Thank you, Lord!!)

Since he did seem to realize that he'd screwed up (after making the comment about sin & the apple eating), I asked him if he was sorry.  He said yes & after apologizing to Samuel, I told him that if Samuel could forgive him, I would too (therefore forgiving the punishment I'd just suggested).  Isn't that what God does with us?  We screw up, the punishment that we rightfully deserve is *right there*, but redemption was bought at a price for us & if we are willing to admit our shortcomings, God is willing to forgive & by His great mercy, we escape the punishment we're rightfully due.  Samuel forgave him so I lifted the grounding.  Immediately after being forgiven, he asked if I could come snuggle with him on his bed.  ::::warm fuzzies::::  I agreed & we snuggled for a while.  He asked me a bunch of questions about God again---what the cat of nine tails is like, how it feels, how Jesus could stand to be tied up & beaten with that thing, whether or not the Garden of Eden is still there.  I don't mind him staying up past bedtime talking to me about things like that!  Now if we can just help him realize that the way he looses his temper so violently and runs off at the mouth is a SIN & help him figure out a way to catch it before he flies completely off the handle, we'll be doing ok.

Item #3:  This Monday, Samuel had a graph project at school to turn in.  He surveyed all of us about our favorite candy.  To decorate the poster he turned in, we bought one of each kind of the candies & glued the wrappers to the poster.  We ended up with a lot of extra Hershey's kisses with Almonds & a couple of other things that come in big packages.  I got everything put into ziploc bags & hidden in the freezer, but somehow I missed the Kisses.  They were on the counter (should've known better) Wednesday morning.  When I came through the kitchen, there was a full bag---only 4 had been taken out to put on the poster.  This is one of those big 1 lb. bags, so there were easily another 50 or so in the bag.  On Wednesday afternoon, when the kids were cleaning their rooms, I caught Andrew eating something (in his room).  We have a no food in the bedrooms rule here, so I fussed at him for eating in his room & punished him for the obvious lie he was telling.  When I came back through the kitchen after that conversation with him, I realized that the entire bag, except for 3 or 4, was gone!  I knew where they HAD TO have gone, but he wouldn't admit to anything and I didn't have ironclad proof that one of the other kids took them.  After I made him open his mouth, smelled the chocolate on his breath & literally pulled a chunk of almond out of his mouth, he still claimed to know nothing about the missing Kisses.  It is so frustrating to have him look me square in the eye & lie through his teeth.  The next morning, I went on a treasure hunt in his room & found about 15 or 20 wrappers from the Kisses he'd eaten (& two hardside glasses cases that look brand new that were stashed under his mattress).  I never did find his stash, but I know they were there.  They were cleaning the room when I found him eating & he had emptied his trashcan a couple of times during that timeframe, so he may've snarfed down the majority of them & threw away the wrappers before I realized what was going on.  It's amazing he didn't go to bed with a major bellyache that night, especially since the kids had birthday cake at church that night!!

Something I've learned about kids who deal with Attachment issues (see earlier posts about RAD) is that they really feel like they are in a fight to survive, and that includes food issues.  It is very common to find them hoarding food in huge amounts.  I've read about children who saved a portion of their dinner meal every night & hid it in their bedroom thinking that they must do this for survival because their parent/caregiver might not feed them the next meal.  This is absolutely the case with Andrew.  Earlier this week I saw him getting the "crusts" from the cinnamon rolls we ate for breakfast out of the trashcan & head to his bedroom (don't worry, I stopped him).  And even though it was junk food, I guess he felt like he had to inhale 40 Hershey Kisses, too, to make it til supper (which was only a matter of 45 minutes away).

Item #....shoot, I can't remember what number I'm on:  Tonight, Kourtney lost a baby tooth.  She swallowed it accidentally & totally freaked out.  :)  She drew a picture & hung it on her door with a picture of her crying & it says "Im sor I lots my toth."  It's for the tooth fairy.  (Translation: I'm sorry I lost my tooth.")

Next item:  Now & then I thumb through the little real estate books around here to see what's available...just for grins.  I know that we'd eventually like to get something bigger, but we're really not in the market for anything right now & don't exactly have stacks of cash laying around anyway.  This past weekend, I picked up a real estate guide & found this house with 5 bedrooms, a dining room (HUGE selling point for me!!), 2.5 baths, an office, 4 car carport, all on an acre out in the country.  I was astounded at the price ($125K) because, for this area, that's on the very low end of the market for that size house.  I drove by to peek at it, again..just out of curiosity, but then my interest was peeked & I wanted to see inside!  We have a realtor friend in our church group so she took us today.  It's a dump.  It's a single wide trailer that someone has added onto in literally every direction.  It's pretty comical, actually, how many different directions they added a room (or two or three).  Hmm....yeah, that isn't the place for us.  It's not exactly in good condition, either.  Oh well.  BUT............looking at that one house sort of gave me the bug.  I love real estate & I love looking around inside houses.  Maybe one day I should consider becoming a realtor.  Anyway, the realtor friend of ours pulled up some other listings & emailed them to me this afternoon.  I really like this one: Find a Home - Listing Detail  It's still a little steep for us price-wise, but if we sold our current house for the right price, we could probably do this.  I'd LOVE to have a dining room where my entire family could sit down TOGETHER for a meal.  It is a big deal to me to be able to do that and in our current house, we don't have room for everyone to eat a meal together & that bothers me.  This house has a 2 car garage (on the back of the house--you can't see it in the pic on the listing) and that's something we've always wanted.  The biggest thing is that there is another bedroom.  We're certainly content to stay smooshed up in our current house & we know that plenty of bigger families have survived & thrived in smaller houses, so we're not jumping on the first thing that comes up, but for fun......our realtor friend is taking us to see this house on Monday afternoon.  :)

Item....well, the next & last thing:  It's SPRING BREAK!!!!!  Everyone is excited about having the coming week out of school.  I enjoy having the kids home all day each day because we can go on "field trips" & do fun things together.  But before we do something fun together, the kids are all going to my mom-in-law's house for a few days.  I'm giddy about this......I need some respite care for a few days otherwise I'll be reaching for the bottle of Xanax by the end of the week--or some kind of bottle anyway!  LOL!  The kids will go to Mammy's house on Sun afternoon & will stay til I get off work on Tuesday afternoon and go to pick them up.  I'm excited about enjoying the peace and quiet for a couple of days & spending my evenings with my sweetie!

Ok........there's a 25K character limit to these posts, so I am probably getting REALLY close to that now.  I'll hush & let you go to bed as it's getting late.  Thank you again for reading this & keeping up with us.  HUGS to you all for surviving this really long post!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Real Me

This week has been difficult, but once again, God has used music to touch my soul & toss me back into the right perspective on things.  I have listened to this song a thousand times, but now I'm hearing it with different ears.  Ya know?  Sometimes you see things through different eyes or hear through different ears & it takes on a whole new meaning.  That's the case here.  God has shed light on this song by Natalie Grant and has refreshed my perspective & patience with Andrew. 
Real Me
Foolish heart, looks like we're here again.
Same old game of plastic smile,
Don't let anybody in.
Hiding my heartache,
Will this glass house break?
How much will it take before I'm empty?
Do I let it show?
Does anybody know?

But You see the real me.
Hiding in my skin, broken from within.
Unveil me completely.
I'm loosening my grasp,
There's no need to mask my frailty
Cause You see the real me.

Painted on, life is behind a mask,
Self-inflicted circus clown.
I'm tired of the song and dance,
Living a charade, always on parade.
What a mess I've made of my existence.
But You love me even now
And still I see somehow...


Wonderful, beautiful is what you see
When You look at me.
You're turning the tattered fabric of my life
Into a perfect tapestry.
Oh, I just wanna be me,
I wanna be me.


and you love me just as i am.
wonderful, beautiful is what you see
when you look at me.
It's such a sweet song about Natalie's struggle with an eating disorder & her trying to hide it from everyone for much of her life, but knowing that God sees the "real me" and how she couldn't hide from Him.  I hope that Andrew understands that God sees through his facade of maturity and strength and power to the scared, shaking, frightened little boy within....and He loves Him so immensely---just as he is!
I love you, baby boy.
(By the way, Natalie Grant gave birth to her first--and second!--babies this past week.  She has twin girls!)