Monday, November 23, 2009

Is it Just Me?

My kids are mega-spoiled. They are more demanding than rock stars who want their water a specific temperature and all the green M&Ms picked out of the bowls before they arrive.

"I need the blue bowl. Did you give me the blue bowl?"

"What color is my cup?"

"We are out of ice cream. When are you going to the store, Mom?"

"I want Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Go to the store, Mom."

"No toilet paper."

"Did you record Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?"
"Today is my bath day. I want to take it with Kobi.
I want to be in the frontnoIwanttobeinthefrontnoit'smyturnnoit'smyturnnoit'smine. ItsMINEEEE"

So when I was cruising through some old pics I have stored on from ages ago, like eight years or so, I was pleased to find that they stirred up some mommy-appropriate emotions. Tell me what you think...keep 'em?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why Foster? Here's Why...

I dare you not to cry. . . I DARE you!

A letter to all my parents:

I was going to start by saying I’m sorry that I waited so long to write this letter to say thank you. The delay means that some of you will have left this earth before I got to say these words to you - I hope I have the opportunity to say them to you in Another Place. But I realize that my thanks would have been incomplete if I had voiced them before. I would probably still have been angry at some of you and perhaps not have recognized the sacrifices you had made. I’m sure I still don’t fully comprehend all that you have done for me, but I probably never will know in full while on this earth, so well, now’s the time to take the time.

To my birth parents:

Seems strange to write to people I don’t even know, even further to be thankful and grateful to someone I've never seen and someone I cannot remember. Thank you for choosing to give me life. Oh I know, my conception probably wasn’t a conscious choice on your part, but allowing me to continue to live, giving me birth was most definitely a choice you made. You may try to say that in “those days” you didn’t have a choice, but you and I both know better than that. I admire you so much for making that choice, for choosing the harder path. I don’t know what it cost you to make that choice, but know that I know how much courage that took. I wish I could have known you and gleaned some of that bravery from you, so that I could have been strong enough to make that right choice myself.

To my foster parents:

I don’t know what you were thinking when you got me at 18 months of age. Since my birth mom was still alive I’m sure you just thought you’d have me for a few days. But things didn’t work out that way, did they? That short-term commitment you were willing to make turned into something much longer. And year after year while I remained in your home, you got attached. I gave nicknames to your birth children that they still have to this day, you placed my picture in your hallway; somehow it felt like I had become yours.

And yet, when my birth mom died when I was four, all of a sudden everything you had done for me didn’t matter - you had poured yourself into me and yet you didn’t have a voice, a say in my future. Because you were a foster parent, you had to stand back and allow biological family members to step in and take me away from you.

I heard that before me you had fostered over 30 kids and after I left you just didn’t have the heart to do it anymore. I didn’t understand that before, but now I know why - it was because you had given me your heart, I had taken it with me. I have it now, it’s taken me awhile to give it a voice, but I know I have your heart. For you see, I long to be a foster parent as well, to do as you did. To love a child, who through no fault of their own, has no one and feels as if there is no one who cares and to say to them, “you are someone. For as long as you’re with me - a few hours, for a few days, weeks or even years, you matter, you belong, you are not abandoned and unloved, you are precious, you are priceless, you are valuable simply because you’re you”.

Thank you for showing me that, for giving me that. I don’t know what it cost you to do that, but know that words cannot express my gratefulness.

To my adoptive parents:

Seems strange to call you that, for to me you have always been just “my parents”. I never knew any differently - which speaks volumes about just what kind of parents you are. There was never any question that I was yours. I know there was a day you told me that I wasn’t biologically yours, but funny how I don’t remember it. Something that huge should have impacted my life dramatically - but it didn’t - because YOU had already impacted my life dramatically. By making me your own, by never allowing your boys to call me “cousin” but making them call me “sister”. I wonder, did you have that conversation with them? Did you ever ask them if they wanted a little sister? Did you ever ask yourself if you really wanted to raise a fifth child, so much younger than the ones you were already raising?

But even as I ask that, I know the answer - you didn’t ask those questions - you knew that if you didn’t step in I would become a ward of the state. And you were my family and you were not going to allow that to happen - no matter what the cost to you. You didn’t ask questions, you took action, you didn’t complain about the unfairness of it all, you worked toward a solution. Thank you for that, thank for you never making me feel like I was a problem, an inconvenience, a burden to bear. Thank you for loving me as your own while still allowing me to freely learn about my birth parents and my foster parents, those who had chosen to love me before you did.

To my Heavenly Parent:

I know You knew me first, even before I was conceived. I know You knew the path my life would take, even before I ever took my first steps. And though some may say it’s been a hard life, I wouldn’t have wanted anything different. I am so thankful for every parent You gave to help care for me on this earth. Each of them, perhaps even unbeknownst to them, has each in their own way, revealed You to me.

Because my birth mother chose to give me life, I now know that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Because my foster parents cared for me when no one else would, I know that You care for me, especially because I was an orphan.

Because my adoptive parents welcomed me into their family so completely, I know unconditional love and can believe You when You tell me You want to adopt me as well.

Funny, of all of my parents, You are the only One who has told me what it cost You, yet You don’t make me feel guilty for that. You tell me only so I can know without a doubt how much You love me.

So to all my parents I say thank you - some kids only have a few parents, I was blessed to have many. And my prayer is that my gratefulness will be translated into action. That I can take the love given me by all of you and not just hold it all in for myself, but to pour it out to others. To allow your love to continue to flow, from you, through me to others. Please know you made and continue to make a difference in my life and as a result, by the grace of God, a difference in this world.

I love you,


I've been a foster parent for fifteen years, and one of the most common comments I get is "How do you do it?" This letter - NOT addressed to me, by the way - is how. Because foster and adoptive parents DO make a difference. It only takes one: one child, one parent; to change the course of a life. Think about it. =)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This is an article written by Emily Perl Kingsley many moons ago. I first heard it at some continuing ed course in Colorado. Emily Perl Kingsley has a son, Jason, with Down Syndrome. She is also an Emmy award winning writer - for Sesame Street, twelve times. She was instrumental in writing scripts for Sesame Street that were inclusive. You can learn more about her here.

Welcome To Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved. Article printed with permission of the author.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland

This article's been on my mind alot lately. Not just because I have children with special needs, but because I think this illustrates a great truth. How many of us spend the first half of our lives saving, planning, and preparing for our trip to Italy and end up in Holland? Or Russia? Or, we hop on that plane, travel for days and deplane right back where we started? Life is so rarely predictable. It wiggles and squirms and refuses to be pinned down.

It seems like we all have the choice to take the time to look around for the tulips and the Rembrandts; for the very special and lovely things about Holland. Or Chicago. Or Sussex. Or wherever your plane landed.

Besides, Italy can't be all that awesome! Can it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Funny the Way it Is...

Kelsey called me yesterday. I was glad to hear from her. As she and Kris get more and more secure in their adult lives, the phone calls get more and more spread out, I've noticed. Not that that's a bad thing. Just different. Elesha makes up for it, though.

She was excited, talking about a new assignment for one of her classes. It's for Interpretive Reading and the assignment (as I understand it) involves her compiling a variety of information into an essay-type format and then reading/acting it out for her class.

Kelsey chose to write about Addiction for this one.


I never kept any major secrets from Kelsey and Kris as they grew up - not that I sat them down and brought them up to speed with all the fun-filled antics of my past. But, I always felt it was important to be honest with them about mistakes I've made, which would hopefully impress on them the incredible damage we humans can inflict upon ourselves and others as we go through life. You know, "make good choices!"

By that I mean I filled them in on my teen-aged and early adult years. They know about my excessive drug use and "partying". They know about their father's heroin and cocaine addiction. They know some of what that mess looked like in my relationship with him, and in their early lives, too. And they know how God kept yanking me back from the precipice. I was determined to die - slowly and by any means - He evidently had other plans and ultimately revealed Himself to me.

He saved me.

So, here is my Kelsey away at a Christian University. Interwoven with her academic classes for her Communications/Drama major are classes in Bible and Chapel.

And I get these calls. And we talk.

She's researching the Addiction presentation, and reading Tweaked by Nic Shef. It's his memoir on his descent into Meth addiction. As he put it, "growing up on methamphetamines". Along the way, he tried every other drug he could get his hands on, and talks about how de-humanizing that life is.
"Is that what it was like, Mom?"


"Oh, momma..."

"I know, honey. It was beyond hellish."

"But, look where you are now."

"Oh, I know that, too. Trust me."
But do I? Do I really remember where I am now? Maybe this many years out (it's been almost as long as Kesley's been alive), I get absent-minded about where I was and where I was most definitely headed. Much of who I am today, many of the reasons I care so deeply about my family, my children, is fiercely entangled in who I was when I finally turned to God.

Beyond saving.

I thought so. I was determined to get rid of my pain one way or another. I was racing toward that cliff edge.

He got in the way.

Twenty years out, the intensity of that has faded. I forget from whence I've come. I forget how messed up, how far gone I was.

Meanwhile, I have this daughter discovering God. I'm watching her draw near to Him, listening to her talk about Him - telling me about things I used to know so clearly. Her deepening relationship with God reminds me how much I'm missing, invites me back to the warmth of His fire, offers me a blanket and a place to rest.

Now, will I take that blanket? Am I finally ready to rest?

There's the rub. I don't know if I am. I can see the fire and am drawn to it's heat - I am freezing out here. But something keeps me back. Some stubborn part of me resists the comfort I know I'll find. I'm sitting on a log by myself. Just sitting. In the cold.

What am I waiting for? No clue. Therapist Lisa would tell me to stop wondering what I'm waiting for and just get my butt over to the fire...hummmm I'll have to think about that.

Monday, November 09, 2009

What if?

There's a really cool guy who's written this book called: Stuff Christians Like.

His blog, also called SCL, had a post today that I want to share with you folk who read my blog.

I think it's a worthy idea and wanted to put it out here for all of you to see and decide if you'd like to help. Many folk spending little money make for much money that can do a good work.

Please take a moment to check it out:

What if?

Posted using ShareThis

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wordle Fun

I found this site, through a new blog I'm following: To the Max
Max is Ellen and Dave's very special son. He had a stroke at birth and so he's got some stuff to overcome, but he's doing an amazing job!

I love the word cloud/tag cloud idea. Predictably, my blog has a ton of Kameron, children, kids and Kobi. Not that surprisingly there are a few buses, and homes, and schools. I am sad that God isn't bigger - but again, I guess it's not so surprising. I haven't been talking about Him much lately. . .

Both sites are worth a look. Enjoy!

Friday, November 06, 2009

HUGE disclaimer here

I need to apologize to my readers, but I have NO way to fix the formatting issues that are now appearing in all my past posts. At this point, most of them have lost all their paragraph breaks and read like one huge block of words.

I am SO sorry - this is not how I wrote and published them originally. I am trying to find a solution. That may mean moving to a different Blog host (which I really want to avoid).

Please bear with me, and I am again, so sorry that they look like inexperienced lumps of verbiage.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Me Who Used to Be Queen

I haven't exactly made it a secret that parenting - always a rough road - has taken an unexpected detour OFF road lately.  My three kids still at home (aka the "little" kids) seem to have made maps of their own including some major potholes, dips, and a bunch of dirt roads.  And I don't have a four-wheel drive anymore.

I think Kam's has a street or two that have "DANGER ROAD CLOSED AHEAD" on his map.  And he's all into the adventure of finding out what happens when you make mommie drive down them at high speeds.
See, since the "big" kids have all moved out, I have no more buffer between myself and the remaining children of the corn sleeping under my roof.  No one is on my side (I'm not allowed to have one anymore).  My older kids were pretty darned respectful.  I only had to say "no" a few times for them to get it.  They didn't ask, "whhhhyyyy?????"  every time I asked them to do something, or just flat out ignore any words coming out of my mouth.  Even when spoken directly into his or her ear. 
Seriously, they were pretty decent kids.

As they grew up, they helped the smaller fry stay on track.  When Klaryssia, Kobi, or Kameron would question me incessently (and I'm talking twenty-plus times), a larger kid like Kesley, Elesha, Kris or Kami, would set them straight.  You don't talk to Mom like that.  There are consequences, come on, let's go play basketball in your room. .

No more.

My royal guard has abandoned me.  I am on my own.  Why is this just sinking in, you ask?  After all, the last big kid left in August. Yeah, well I'm a bit of a slow study.  At some level, I think I figured ALL my children - since they were raised in the same house, with the same rules - would catch on, fall under my spell, and magically behave like reasonable people.  Eventually.


I've been thrown back into parenting 101.  Maybe I'm not even in a 100 level course yet.  Maybe this is a 60 or an 80. Or maybe this is a graduate level deal.  Maybe this is God's Phd. course in parenting. . .taking me to the upper-echelon of moms. . .

Nah.  This is either remedial parenting or purgatory.  Maybe the Catholics are right, after all.

Even as I type this, at o-dark-thirty in the a.m., Klaryssia has come out at least four times to tell me the weather report for the day (I don't care), show me what she's wearing (ditto), to tell me she's brushed her teeth (check), and to explain to me her schedule for the day (again); Kameron (up since 5:20 am) is explaining to everyone that he does NOT have a doctor's appointment (he does), telling Klaryssia that she needs to take her meds (she already did), and I can hear him taking off the floor vent in the bathroom, probably shoving his clothes for the day down it; Kobi is trying to convince him that he does have an appointment, (pointless, Kobi, you are wasting your words, trust me), asking me how to turn regular instant oatmeal into brown sugar oatmeal, and dragging his wet bedding out to the washer (while asking why "we" haven't washed his wet sheets from yesterday - "we" were working all day, master and haven't had a chance to get to your damp bedding); and the noise is escalating.

These skirmishes occur constantly.  If they are up, they are fighting about something.  Anything.  Everything.  Last night it got so bad I wanted to leave the house.  

Not an option, though.  Failing that, I grabbed a glass of wine and my Ipod, found the loudest playlist I could find, and sang my way through dinner prep.  All through it, they kept popping into the kitchen (guess that's because with the blessed music playing, I couldn't hear them yelling, "MOM").  It was awesome, because their little mouths were opening and closing and I couldn't hear a word.  

Santana Danced me Through the Night, Grits had me Runnin', and Kenny Chesney reminded me about the sweet Summertime. . .

I know I keep harping on this, but seriously I've been blindsided.  I foolishly thought I had a handle on parenting.  After all, I ran a home daycare; I raised my own two kids; I fostered countless others - at one point our big house in Colorado had four adults, fifteen children, and almost that many pets.  We survived snow storms, power outages (when Kam was on a ventilator), dying chickens, a horse that peed on the front lawn, multiple bus and school schedules, and still found a way to have Kelsey in competitive gymnastics, Kris in basketball and football, and everyone else at their myriad doctors and therapy appointments.

Now here I am, crushed and bewildered by these three.

It doesn't seem right.  Somewhere in my brain there must be skills I can use against these heathens.  And when I figure out what they are, and my heathens become children again, I will be expecting my Peace Prize.

Or at the very least, a little peace.  Which is probably better.

I could use the million bucks, though.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Daily Grind

This parenting gig is hard. I mean, I had a suspicion during the first twenty odd years. But, with this second group of kids (ages 17, almost 10, and 9), I am certain.

'Course, there are a few differences with this second group. The most glaring being that I am now twenty years older. Initially, I thought that should give me an edge. You know, I know the little ways kids try to manipulate you, have all the pat parenting answers down -

But these three defy my mom logic.

They aren't logical at all.

When you take three "damaged" kids, with a variety of issues and stir them all up in one household what comes out is a complete crapshoot. And by crap I mean the other word. Take Kameron at this very moment.

We have an ongoing power struggle between Kameron and Kobi over who opens the gate on our way out to the bus stop. They were alternating days, but believe it or not, that got too difficult to keep track of. So, in my infinite *cough cough* wisdom, I came up with alternating weeks. Mon/Wed/Friday one week, and Tues/Thursday the next.

This seemed to work for awhile. Kam just required one or two reminders, "What days do you have this week, Kam?"

"Oh. . . (insert correct days here)".

But lately he's been slipping. This morning, he argued for a good ten minutes that Kobi had Monday/Wednesday/Friday last week (which he didn't), and that Kameron himself was Monday/Wednesday/Friday this week (again). Evidently, he's wised up to the fact that Tuesday/Thursday is not the greater deal.

It went like this:

"Mom, can I open the gate?"
"No, Kam, Kobi is Monday/Wednesday/Friday this week."
"EHHHHEEAAAA!! Kobi is NOT Monday/Wednesday/Friday, I AM!"

"What days were you last week, Kam?"
"What days, Kam?"

"I was NOT Monday Wednesday/Friday!!!"
"It's MY day to OPEN THE GATE!"
"Kam, what days are you this week?"
"IT's MY DAY! I am NOT Tuesday/Thursday!"
And so on, for about ten minutes. While I'm trying to get him on and off the toilet (I know, TMI) and get his AFOs on and get his teeth brushed and get him in his wheelchair. He also has this endearing habit of stiffening his entire 75 pound body when he's yelling. This makes all of the above ever so much easier.

I finally wised up and said, "Hey Kobi, you get to open the gate all week! Kam doesn't want his Tuesday/Thursday!"
"I do TOOOOO!"
"Oh, so you want to open the gate Tuesday/Thursday?"

Peace is momentarily restored.

This lasted until it was time to turn off Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and head out the door to the bus stop.

"EHHHHEEAAAAAAA! Do NOT turn off Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!!!"
"Okay, I'll just let Teacher Parnell know you aren't coming to school today, then. I'm walking Kobi to the bus stop, see you later, Kam."
"Oh, you're coming, then?"

And once again, peace is restored. Just like flipping a light switch, he's happy and deceptively compliant.

This crazytown adventure in parenting goes on every day in some fashion or another. Kameron and Klaryssia
can pick the most seemingly unimportant, random thing and escalate it into a UN-sized crisis. My "normal" bag of parenting tricks applies not at all. And when the two of them feed off each other and Kobi thinks it would be fun to stir them up . . . I'm thinking 7:00 am is not too early for a glass of white wine.

I guess the biggest thing is that while engaging in power struggles with them obviously won't work, often neither does trying to twist their logic around. These kids have stubborn down to an art form - it's why they've survived so long against all the odds - and when they bring it to bear on me. . .argh.

Once again, the inmates are running the asylum. I think I need a vacation. Is it too late to turn these kids in for some nice grandchildren?

BTW I am having trouble with the new Blogger Editor - it's not formatting the text like it should,  I do apologize for the odd layout!