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help wanted

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a foregone conclusion Maddie will qualify for services, it's just a matter of what kinds of services we want her to have.
And that's where it gets a little sticky.
How much is too much and how much is not enough?
Normally, I would say there is no thing as too much, HOWEVER...
The three times Maddie has been to this preschool/developmental center, she has become a different child.
Different, as in, reverting back to orphanage behavior.
I think the sights, sounds and smells of this place remind her of where she spent the first four years of her life. And that's not good.
We went through something similar with Anya. About a year after we came home we moved to a new town and I had a hard time finding a home daycare provider, so I enrolled the kids in a big daycare facility.
A huge mistake.
Now don't get me wrong, I know not all daycare centers are bad. And this one wasn't bad in and of itself, but this one I should have known the minute I walked into the former high school, there would be trouble.

Sounds of crying children echoed down the concrete halls.
Smells of antiseptic filled the air.
Even the murals on the wall brought back memories of the babyhouse in Syk...
Anya had always had a strange reaction to authority. I've told you before of the horrible tantrums she would throw...meltdowns really, almost daily. By this point, they were starting to subside, and we were just catching our breath. We were starting to get to know the sweet, kind, generous Anya.
Unfortunately, that was all getting ready to unravel.
To say Anya did not react well to the new daycare is an understatement.
Something took over and by noon she was yelling 'NO' at the workers, bit some kids...hit others, screamed for an hour at the top of her lungs, threw things and in general was an absolute nightmare!
I don't think it was two hours before they called me to pick her up.
This went on every day for a couple of weeks, before finally, in desperation, I tracked down a home daycare provider who agreed to take the kids temporarily, until I could find something more permanent.
It was the worst two weeks of our lives.
And I don't want to relive it.
Granted...Maddie's personality is not anything close to Anya's old one. She is WAY more laid back.
I don't like the empty look that comes over her face when she walks in the door. She has made so much progress in the last few months, I can't stand the thought of putting her back in an environment, even for only a few hours a day, that reminds her of where she used to be.
The sad thing is...she likes it there. She cried when we left this morning. She wanted to keep playing with the other kids.
I know, I know. It's comfortable. It's familiar.

I don't want to subject her to ANYTHING that would even remotely remind her of the orphanage.
What are our other options?
It sounds like we can get services here in our home. That would be nice, and quite frankly it looks like my number one choice at the moment. But how many people would I have coming to the house each week...and for how long?
Then there's the whole academic thing.
Maddie is technically old enough to go to kindergarten next fall. She is NOWHERE close to being ready. Shad and I have already made the decision to hold her back another year, barring a miraculous change. But she's still going to need some help to catch up. I have working with her over the last eight months (Yikes! EIGHT MONTHS. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! ;>), but all we've been able to master are her colors.
(With the move and everything else going on, it's been a little hard to focus on much more than the day to day language acquisition.)
There are still numbers...
writing her name...
using scissors...
The list goes on and on.

And then, there's the whole question of attachment.
Would putting her into preschool that reminds her of the orphanage, damage the already tenuous bonds of attachment we've formed?

I'm banking on Shad being available to come with me to the IEP meeting next week. I NEED him to help me wade through this mess.
Any of you have any thoughts?
Your help is definitely wanted.

sunflower seeds - help wanted


help wanted

We had the fifth and sixth parts of Maddie's developmental screenings this morning.

Good grief! Are they thorough or what?!
We've done a basic developmental screening...
A speech screening...
A language screening...
A fine motor screening..
A gross motor screening...
A psychological screening...
What more is there?!
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad the cross their T's and dot their I's, but I'm tired already and want the answers. Thankfully, it looks like we're not too far away from getting them.
I talked with the developmental specialist this morning (while waiting for Maddie to finish up on the gross motor stuff). She said all of the reports are written except for these final two and she expects to have an IEP meeting next Thursday afternoon.
They'll send us a copy of their final report sometime this week for Shad and I to go over. Then, we can present our questions and any concerns at the meeting next week. If we come to an agreement, services could start as early as the next Monday.
It looks like we finally may be getting Maddie some help.


to work...or not to work

Monday, September 29, 2008

Someone asked a few weeks ago how the whole stay-at-home mom thing was going...and if I was planning on making it permanent. I've been waiting to give you an answer because...I just don't know.

I really am enjoying my time at home.
The house has never been cleaner (or more organized).
Maddie and I are bonding (that's a whole other post).
The kids are getting their homework done.
We have a little bit of time for some extra fun stuff (like football - and hopefully soon, gymnastics)
We're eating real meals.
I'm even thinking about starting an exercise routine.
But I don't know if my own little version of Utopia can last.
The truth is...
This move, while the right thing to do for our extended family, was definitely not the right thing to do for our immediate family - on so many levels, but especially financially.
Not even close.
I'll have a better idea of the damage on Wednesday when Shad gets his first real paycheck. Yep. It's taken almost two months for us to get some cash flowing in. This clinic only does payroll once a month, which means the last two months we have been living off of Mr. Credit Card.
That didn't do a whole lot to help my cause.
And then there was the trip to the emergency room for Nick the first night we were in town. Shad took Alek to his first football practice, while I took Nick to the E.R. for x-rays on his elbow. Turns out he got a 'nurse-maids' elbow when his sister fell out of a wagon, onto his arm while they were horsing around in the back yard.
That was right in between health insurance coverages. We didn't have either the old insurance or the new one for that little visit.
The bills are starting to flood in.
Now we have a cruddy form of health insurance called a 'Heath Savings Account'. The insurance is pretty much just catastrophic stuff - a $3K family deductible. And since we haven't been paid yet, we don't have any money in the Health Savings Account.
We're supposed to use that money to pay the $3K deductible.
Yea. Like that's going to happen.
My last job was a full-time job so we could have good insurance.
I really don't want to go down that road again.
So as you can see there are a lot of factors going into this decision.
What I would really like to do is stay home and work as a freelance writer. Unfortunately, even with all of my experience, I don't know where to begin to find freelance jobs.
Can anyone can point me in the right direction?
I do have a little gig with my old women's magazine. I'm writing a story for them every month, but it's not going to be enough to pay even one bill.
In the meantime, I'm working on a plan to cut back on things around here.
I'm doing more meal planning to help save on the grocery bill...
I'm shutting off lights and turning down the heat (remember...we're in the mountains - its already chilly here).
And I'm looking at other areas where we can cut back.
Unfortunately, we already live pretty lean, there's not a whole lot of fat in our budget. Our only luxuries are my DSL, DirecT.V. and cell phones - and we're on the cheapest plans for each of them.
At least one of them may have to go.
Maybe two.
The sale of our Kansas house would be a step in the right direction.
But somehow I don't see it happening any time soon.
So the question remains...
To work...
Or not to work.
I'll let you know.
And in the meantime, if you have any great ideas, let me know.
I'm open to just about anything.


hitting the gridiron

Saturday, September 27, 2008

As I was taking post-game pics on Thursday, Alek said...
'Mom, Mom. I need a tough guy pic.'
'I need a tough guy pic, Mom. You know, where it looks like I'm going to kick their butt.'
I guess now is not the time to tell him I don't like him talking like that...
I mean, after all...he's a tough guy. ;>)

Sunflower Seeds - hitting the gridiron


hitting the gridiron

Alek has wanted to play football since he first learned about the game at the age of two. (Shad started working on him early).
During the fall, the boy talks of nothing else.

And this was finally going to be the year. He had finally reached the magical age where we would let him play...and what did we do?
Right during football tryouts.
So imagine his surprise, and mine, when two days before we moved, as I was googling our new hometown, I found a football program for kids his age.

I signed him up to play right away.
Yep. I think you can label me as insane!
The best part was...Alek didn't know anything about it.

Unbeknownst to Q-ball, I found his cleats, shorts and a T, and then a mere four hours after unloading the U-Hau!, told Alek to get changed. We were going to football practice. You should have seen the look on his face!
Alek has enjoyed just about every minute of it. He's not getting to play a whole lot - since it's his first year he still has a lot to learn.
But he's learning.
These pictures are from his game last Thursday...his team won 28-7!
Alek plays mostly defense...thankfully, he's in the backfield - usually as a safety or linebacker. As you can see from these pics he's a little undersized...the linemen are HUGE!
But he's having a ton of fun!

sage brush diairies - hitting the gridiron


sign of the times

Friday, September 26, 2008

Everything that has happened this week with Maddie and signing has brought back all of my insecurities about parenting a special needs child.
I feel like I've failed my little girl.
You would have thought 'sign language' would have been a no-brainer with a child who CAN. NOT. HEAR!
But um...nope.
Not for me.
What was I thinking?
I mean, REALLY.
I did a little bit of sign with her to get us through the first few months...you know, things like - 'eat', 'drink', 'potty', 'hungry', 'night-night'...but nothing too serious. Even after my sister-in-law and I talked about it last weekend, I still didn't think it was necessary. Maddie was doing great. She could understand us. What more did we need?
Yea. That's how self-centered I had become.
It hadn't occurred to me how frustrated Maddie had to be since we rarely understood what SHE needed.
But she never complained.
She never got cranky over it.
She just dealt with it, just like she had over her entire lifetime. Quietly moving on - most likely chalking up the experience to yet another disappointment in her young life.
It should surprise me at how selfish I was...but it doesn't.
Before we traveled to Ukraine last winter I had no desire to bring home a child with special needs.
Sure we put in the home study we were open to certain conditions, but I never really thought we would bring home anything other than a healthy child. After all, the first three children had medicals a mile long in their file, but each one of them is physically healthy.
No. I had no intentions of being a special needs parent.
These children needed a special parent.
Something I am not.
Those who truly know me, know I have absolutely NO patience.
At. All.
I have friends who make fun of how Type A I am. Everything has to be just so...and if it's not just so my family hears about it. I had no business taking on a child who would need extra help in any way. It would mess up my sense of order. And when my order is messed up I tend to lose my patience...and yell!
And then there's the whole, 'dealing with the medical community' thing.
Would I have the patience to deal with all of the doctors?
Would I know who to turn to for information?
Would I have the energy to drag the child from one doctor's appointment to the next?
And you know how I feel about needles?!
Nope. I was convinced God had not given me the personality needed to parent a child who needed extra help.
It took all I had in me not to lose my mind with my older three.
I needed another healthy child.
So when we were presented with Maddie's information, I was surprised at how unconcerned I was about her medical condition. We thought we knew from my brother and sister-in-law's experience 'all about this condition.' We were sure we knew what to expect.
Ignorance is bliss.
We truly weren't prepared.
But I wouldn't trade Maddie for anything.
God knew what he was doing when he brought this little girl into our family.
Shocker, huh?!
And I think I've started to figure out His plan.
I think He's working on changing ME.
He's molding me...using this experience to shape me.
Getting rid of some of the arrogance...and showing grace by giving me more patience than I thought possible.
I'm still not convinced I have what it takes to parent a special needs child.
Let me assure you... I have yelled. I have lost my patience.
I barely have it in me to drag Maddie from doctor to doctor.
I get tired of the constant chatter that I can't understand.
Maddie stretches me to my limits.
It takes a lot of energy to keep up with her...and to deal with her idiosyncrasies.
I find myself sighing a lot.
But I am also finding a lot of joy.
More than I ever dreamed possible.
So, when I fail my little girl, like I did this week, I try to remind myself...
I'm still a work in progress.
I'm still stretching.

sunflower seeds - sign of the times


the stories in my mind

With all the talk about changing the blog name, I started wondering...
'What's to stop me from just starting another blog?'
There has been so much I've wanted to write on Sunflower Seeds, but haven't because... well, because Seeds is more about our family...

about our adventures...
our adjustments...
our life.
But there's nothing to say I can't create a blog of my own.
So I've done just that.

I have started Sage Brush Diaries - a diary of sorts with my reactions to the stories I've published over here.
You can read about our adventures on Sunflower Seeds...and then go over to Sage Brush Diaries and find out what was going through my mind.
Kind of like sneaking a peak in your sister's diary.
Except I won't tell mom!


the stories in my mind

With all the talk on Sunflower Seeds about changing the name, I started wondering...

'What's to stop me from just starting another blog?'
There has been so much I've wanted to write on Sunflower Seeds, but have hesitated to do so because...well, because Seeds is more about our family.
about our adventures...
our adjustments...
our life.
But there's nothing to say I can't have a blog of my own.
I loved the Sage Brush idea so much, I decided to cherry pick it and use it for the title.
So what are you going to find here?
My reactions.
You can read about our adventures on Sunflower Seeds...and then come over here and find out what was going through my mind.
Kind of like sneaking a peak in your sister's diary.
Except I won't tell mom!


sign of the times

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Since we first brought Maddie home, we've been debating.

To sign or not to sign.
That is the question.
The answer up until last week was not to sign.
Maddie was doing a great job of understanding us...even if we couldn't always understand her.
But something changed last weekend.
We visited my brother and sister-in-law, Len and Valerie and their kids. One of those children was born with the same condition as Maddie. Kaycee came home from China about four months before we even met Maddie. Her adoption gave us the courage we needed to adopt our precious special needs little girl.
From the day she got custody of Kaycee, Valerie has been working with her on signing. And it has made a HUGE difference. There isn't much confusion as to what Kaycee needs, or wants, or is asking about. Valerie and Kaycee can have long quiet conversations (although Valerie usually speaks when she signs so Kaycee can also hear what is being said - she has the same hearing aid as Maddie.) and understand each other perfectly.
It was inspirational.
So I started asking questions.
Eventually Valerie popped in a kid's signing DVD. All of the kids sat down with us as we watched this thing and I was amazed. Maddie sat there, watched it and picked up on all kinds of things.
The video was mostly about food.
There was the sign for apple...
the motion for banana...
the signal for cereal.
Valerie showed us a few more; signs for 'cheese,' 'yucky' and 'sit still.'
That was so nice, I thought as we drove home. I'm so glad they're using it...but Maddie is doing pretty well without it. I figured since she was older it would just take more time to teach her the movements and that would just take away from our speech lessons.
Um. Yea.
I woke up Monday morning to Maddie's little face next to mine. As soon as I opened my eyes she made a motion across her chin.
'Wha...,' I mumbled.
'Mama! (movement),' she replied.
I racked my brain, trying to figure out what in the world she was trying to tell me, when it finally clicked.
She's signing the word for cereal.
And that wasn't all. She started using signs like 'thank you' and 'you're welcome' (same sign) and 'all done,' which we hadn't used since the first few months we were home.
As the day wore on it started to dawn on me...Maddie has always been a talker with her hands. It was her pantomiming that got us through the first few months.
For her, signing was just an extension of the pantomiming.
I jumped on a website Valerie recommended and picked a few new signs to teach her...sure enough, a few minutes later she was using them easily.
So I've been working with her on signing for the last few days.
She's taken to it like a duck to water.
'Cookie' is her favorite sign.
She uses it all the time.
She even put together, 'Mama,' 'Cookie,' 'Please,' all on her own.
She's one smart cookie.
I just wish I would have picked up on it sooner.
For your entertainment pleasure...
When we first walked into her Cubbies (AWANA) class the other afternoon I was surprised to see the teacher using sign language as a way of communicating with the little ones. I decided right then and there to use sign to help Maddie learn her verses. (Besides, you can't really understand her when she says the verses anyway.) So here is Maddie, working on her very first verse.


and the winner is...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunflower Seeds.

You've convinced me.
I'll keep the name.
You all wrote so eloquently about your love of the name. How could I ignore your pleas?!
So instead of changing the name, I'm just going to keep changing the backgrounds every now and then. Maybe that will satisfy my need for change.
Although after days like today, I'm thinking the kids could have inspired a new blog name.
Wild Sunflowers.


it doesn't work anymore

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alek - "Mom, I need a nacho or pizza Lunchable for my lunch tomorrow."
Me - "Q-ball...a sandwich and chips will be just fine."
Alek - "But Mom, everybody brings a pizza lunchable for their field trip lunch."
Me - "Yea, right Q. If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?"
Alek, not missing a beat - "Maybe. If it was a little bridge."


8 month progress report

Monday, September 22, 2008

I got a phone call this afternoon from the developmental psychologist. We've been busy this past month getting Maddie evaluated by Wyoming's version of Early Intervention. Today was the psychological review.
We talked about how Maddie was doing, how she had adjusted to the move, what her orphanage situation was like, the behaviors that she was displaying.
And then she mentioned attachment.
And that's when I realized...I haven't given you a Maddie update in a REALLY, long time!
I'm so sorry.
Where are my manners?
The last time I mentioned her progress it was June ...way before we even knew we were moving!
Maddie has been home for almost eight months now and is doing great, but as I look back on the attachment list there have been some changes. Some good, some not so good. Yes, she still has issues (marked in red), but there are so many areas where she has made remarkable improvement (blue) or have no issues at all (green).
I'm taking a lot of comfort in how far she's come in such a short period of time. Back in June Maddie's score was 19 positives out of 33. With only nine that were real issues. Not too shabby.
Today it is 21 positives with seven that are still issues, and some of the others we've made pretty good progress on.
(Sorry...the list is kind of long).

  • 1. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to other children. No - thank goodness. She's pretty good with other kids. I was expecting to have some trouble with this after life in the orphanage, but since one minor incident VERY early on she has learned how to take care of 'babies' and in general plays pretty well with everyone.
  • 2. My child can't keep friends for an age-appropriate length of time. It depends on 'age appropriate'. Emotionally, she's not a four year old yet, although I would say she's getting closer. She's more like an early three and a half year old. And at that level she's doing pretty well. She'll play beside other children and with other children for increasing amounts of time, and she is only now starting to seek out playing with other kids.
  • 3. My child doesn't do as well in school as my child could do even with a little more effort. Don't know yet. She appears to be a pretty smart little stinker, but we're having trouble with her focusing on things. I believe it's an emotional age thing (which factors into so much of this).
  • 4. My child pushes me away or becomes stiff when I try to hug, unless my child wants something from me, in which case my child can be affectionate and engaging. No - again, thank goodness. She's been my hugger from the very beginning. She LOVES to climb up in our lap for some quality time. She is constantly bringing us books, pillows and blankets so we can curl up on the couch together. We love it! :)
  • 5. My child argues for long periods of time, often about meaningless or silly things. Not really. Even though the language still isn't where it needs to be, Maddie doesn't get too worked up about silly things...or worked up about much of anything. She's pretty laid back (so unlike the other three! ;>)
  • 6. My child has a large need to control everything. No...again, see number five.
  • 7. My child is hyper-vigilant. In June I had this category marked in blue. It was an area we definitely needed to work on. But now I can honestly say it's not much of an issue anymore. Over the last eight months, Maddie has slowly let go of a lot of her paranoia and is starting to trust us to take care of her. Do you remember the blanket incident? She LOVES cuddling with a blanket now. She's also doing much better with animals...as long as it is on her terms. She is starting to become more concerned as to where Shad and I are, especially if we're not in the same room, but it isn't all consuming. Maddie has made remarkable improvement on this part of the checklist.
  • 8. My child acts amazingly innocent, or pretends that things aren't really bad or a problem when caught doing something wrong. I'm going to leave this in the green category for now because I don't think its a real issue. I'll revisit it in a few months. Maddie is able to act innocent, even when caught in the middle of doing something she's not supposed to do, but once she finds out its wrong she almost never does it again. I just don't think she's able to reason what appropriate behavior is yet. We're working on it.
  • 9. My child does dangerous things such as runs away, jumps out of windows, or other potentially harmful actions. My child seems oblivious to the fact that my child may be hurt. No. She definitely feels pain.
  • 10. My child deliberately breaks or ruins his things or other's things. Nope.
  • 11. My child doesn't seem to feel age-appropriate guilt when my child does something wrong. I'm not sure on this one. I can tell when she's been found doing something wrong, but I'm not sure if there is real guilt.
  • 12. My child is impulsive, either unable or unwilling to stop doing something she wants to do. No. She'll stop if told to.
  • 13. My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to animals. Are you kidding me? She will barely even go near them! :)
  • 14. My child steals, or shows up with things that belong to others with unbelievable, unusual, or suspicious reasons for how my child got these things. No.
  • 15. My child likes to sneak things without permission, even though my child could have had these things if my child had asked. Yes. Especially food, but it is getting a lot better. Most of the time she'll ask for things, although occasionally we'll catch her sneaking a snack. This is where the breaking down of the language barrier has become a huge help. She's starting to understand food will always be there and we'll give her some (as long as it's not too close to dinner.) She's starting to figure out all she needs to do ask. Thankfully, she's not hording food...just sneaking it.
  • 16. My child doesn't seem to learn from mistakes, consequences, or punishments (my child continues the behavior despite the consequences). For the most part Maddie is doing MUCH better with this. I rarely have to scold her for the same thing twice - especially for the big things. The little things can be a different story...like running in the house and yelling. The big stuff though it only takes once and she's got it. (i.e. - pulling the wallpaper off the wall, pulling sink stopper out of the sink, ripping a page out of a book.) She is still doing way better than the boys with this, but I'm starting to realize (yea, took my nine years to figure out this lesson) that boys are going to by-and-large be that way. Attention span and all of that.
  • 17. My child makes false reports of abuse or neglect. My child tries to get sympathy from others, or tries to get us in trouble, by telling others that I abuse, don't feed, or don't provide the basic necessities. No.
  • 18. My child seems not to experience pain when hurt, refusing to let anyone provide comfort. She definitely feels pain and seeks comfort. Thank goodness. The first week we had Alek home from Russia he ran into the corner of our kitchen table, split his head open, fell down, popped back up and kept playing. (He now feels pain too.) I am SO thankful she can feel pain.
  • 19. My child does not usually ask for things. My child demands things. She's starting to ask more questions like, 'Where Daddy go,' and 'Doggy outside,' but still uses a lot of statements when she wants something. Kind of a type of asking without asking. We're still working on using please (peeeee) and forming a complete question.We try to model it for her, but using extra words right now is still pretty tough. She doesn't use a lot of words like a, an or the. She doesn't use adjectives at all. Still pretty basic stuff. I know it's because of all she has missed, but boy it sure makes it tough to follow what she wants at times. Not to mention the actual speech issues.
  • 20. My child lies, often about obvious or ridiculous things, or when it would have been easier to tell the truth. I'm not sure if she knows she's lying. I can't tell for sure if she completely understands what the question may be. We're treating it as if she's lying, but can't be sure of her intent.
  • 21. My child is quite bossy with other children and adults. This is one we've back-slidden on. She has suddenly become quite bossy. Of course the other three aren't taking it, but she's giving it a good college try. She's even tried being bossy with Shad and I. Unfortunately for her she didn't get the response she was looking for. In fact, she got more than she bargained for. I think she's given up on us.
  • 22. My child hoards, sneaks food, or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, raw sugar, non-food items, package mixes, baker's chocolate, etc.) Here's another one we've back-slidden on. I've caught her three times in the last week with weird stuff in her mouth. Paper, a penny and oh yea, fuzz! Thankfully she's not hoarding food, but again, in reference to number 15, she still sneaks food at times. Time...I keep reminding myself that it takes time.
  • 23. My child often does not make eye contact when adults want to make eye contract with my child. Another area where we've had some trouble lately, or maybe I'm just noticing things more. We're working on it.
  • 24. My child has extended temper tantrums. I thought when I first mentioned this two months ago that I may be jinxing myself with this one, but Maddie is the only one of our children NOT to have a meltdown in the first few months at home. All three of the other ones did it. Especially Anya. Oy, her's were doozies!!!!! Maddie is incredibly laid back. She takes EVERYTHING in stride. Don't get me wrong. She crosses her arms and pouts when she doesn't get her way...and remember the fainting spells?! :) But she's never had a tantrum. (Sigh. I know I've doomed myself with this one!)
  • 25. My child chatters non-stop, asks repeated questions about things that make no sense, mutters, or is hard to understand when talking. HAHAHAHAH! Uh, yea. The question is...is it because of the hearing impairment or because there are some deeper issues? At first I leaned toward the former, but now I'm really starting to wonder. Yes the quality of her speech is affected by her hearing loss, but with the hearing aid (which she has had for four months) she is able to hear perfectly. Still, her speech hasn't improved. She doesn't put the endings on words, still doesn't even want to attempt some sounds and butchers words pretty badly. And she talks. all. the. time. Constantly. Incessantly. Without end. It's driving me nuts. She also asks a lot of questions which don't make any sense, however, this is probably still due to the language barrier. Sigh. I can't figure out how to help her.
  • 26. My child is accident-prone (gets hurt a lot), or complains a lot about every little ache and pain (needs constant attention). She's doing much better with this. She's not so accident prone now and doesn't overly complain about pain. I'm still handling the owies with a, 'Oh, I'm so sorry you got an owie, let me kiss it,' and then sending her on her way. We don't make a huge deal out of it, but she knows she can come to me with her owies.
  • 27. My child acts cute or charming to get others to do what my child wants. Not so much any more. I'm glad to say while she never really did a terrible amount of charming to get what she wanted, it seems like it has completely stopped. I think.
  • 28. My child is overly friendly with strangers. We're still dealing with this and we may be dealing with it for quite awhile. At times I feel like we're making progress and other times I feel like I'm spinning my wheels. If she could, Maddie would still walk away with absolutely anyone...without looking back. She is improving. She doesn't fight me anymore to get to strangers, and she isn't noticing other people as much. She seems content to stay with me as long as someone else doesn't have her attention. And yesterday for the first time, she shied away from someone. But that is RARE! Later yesterday afternoon she climbed up into the lap of a great-uncle she had never met before to play. Breaks my heart. Baby steps. Baby steps.
  • 29. My child has set fires, or is preoccupied with fire. No.
  • 30. My child prefers to watch violent cartoons and/or TV shows or horror movie (regardless of whether or not you allow your child to do this). She doesn't watch TV at all.
  • 31. My child was abused/neglected during the first year of life, or had several changes of primary caretaker during the first several years of life. Several caretakers...an orphanage will do that to you.
  • 32. My child was in an orphanage for more than the first year of life. 35 months to be exact.
  • 33. My child was adopted after the age of twelve month. 35 months to be exact.
The developmental psychologist has recommended an attachment expert in our town. She said she may be able to help us with some of these issues. We're considering calling her...not only for Maddie, but possibly all of the children, just to get an "attachment checkup".
It certainly wouldn't hurt.



Friday, September 19, 2008

Okay....so nobody got the whole Sunflower thing.

That tells me one of two things...
Either I really stink at coming up with meaningful blog names OR...
I'm just so gifted no one can reach my depth of genius.
Yea. I thought so. Doesn't matter. I'm still stuck on the name thing.
Maybe I'm still feeling discombobulated from the move (I love that word!)...maybe that's what is making me tired of the whole Sunflower thing. But then I think about what Bethany said in her comment and realize that yes, our family started there. It grew there.
Okay. I'm going to put out some options.
Tell me which ones you prefer.
As the author of this blog, I reserve the right make up my own mind, but I do want to hear your thoughts. So here ya are...
  1. Sunflower Seeds - keep it the same. The family started there...we're just transplanted. Besides, there's that whole Russian proverb thing...and Russia and Ukraine are both BIG producers of Sunflowers. So it all fits.
  2. Sage Brush and Sunflower Seeds - mix the two. I kind of like the 'sage brush part' - kind of invokes a sense of wisdom. HA!
  3. Tumbleweeds - It's windy here. REALLY windy. And there are tumbleweeds EVERYWHERE. But then again, we're not the type of family to be tossed around by the wind. Hmmmm...
  4. 4. Mountain Climbers - those who know us personally will get this little play on words AND geography. Those of you who don't know us IRL - email me and I'll let you in on it.
Any other suggestions? I'm still open to any and all ideas. I'll wait through the weekend (and maybe Monday) for your responses and then I'll fill you in on the results.
For those of you who lurk - and rarely comment - I'm looking for your suggestions too. It's really easy to comment. Just click on the comment button at the bottom of this post and it will open another window. Just type away!
Thanks for the help!


shattered security

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm sitting in my van typing this live. That's the awesome thing about living in a bigger city - all the modern conveniences. ;>)
I just wish the reason I'm sitting in my van were just as awesome.
I'm waiting for my 10 year-old to get out of AWANA.
Don't get me wrong. I want Alek to attend AWANA...it's a great church program. It helps instill the Word of God in his heart. This kid knows more memory verses than I could have even dreamed of at his age.
Its just that getting Alek here was a test of my endurance. He came up with every excuse imaginable why he couldn't go.

-- He couldn't find his book.
-- K-State was playing on TV tonight.
-- He hadn't practiced his trumpet yet.
-- A sudden headache was 'cramping' his head and he couldn't think straight - although when told to take some medicine and go to bed he was magically cured. (I wasn't born yesterday. ;>)

Finally we reached an agreement. He would come...if I would wait outside for him.
We have been through this same scenario time and time again.
It's the same story any time there's any change in his routine.
He was nervous.
Not the twittery stomach kind. Nope. This is the full blown anxiety attack.
I've noticed it in Q-ball more lately.
He about had a meltdown the day I went to the funeral at the thought that I might not be the one picking them up from school.
When my Mom picked the kids up last week, he had to call her that morning and give her the run down of events to make sure they were all on the same page.
And every night last week while I was gone, we would go through the same routine, the same questions about when I was returning...the time, the airline, the type of plane.
I know that a lot of it is caused by all of the upheaval in his life lately.
But unfortunately, the issue runs much deeper than that.
Of the three oldest children, Alek had it the worst in the orphanage. It was back in the late 90's before international adoptions were common. The orphanage conditions were not good...so much so that we were encouraged not to ask to see the room where Alek spent most of his days.
I guess they thought ignorance might be bliss.
We were young and stupid enough to go along with it.
Alek came home scarred.
He didn't want to be held.
He couldn't be comforted.
He didn't keep eye contact...
He couldn't' feel pain.
He rocked constantly, incessantly...
Attachment was completely out of the question.
Eventually, thankfully, over time, we were able to break through the barriers our little guy had built up to protect himself. He is now a happy, healthy, loving kid, who isn't afraid to give us a hug and tell us he loves us and MEAN it.
But he isn't without his scars.
And the biggest one of all is Alek knows we love him...knows it in his head...but it doesn't reach his heart.
And that breaks mine.
He can't trust that we'll always be there for him.
I can only imagine what is going on inside his handsome head when the anxiety starts.
He gave me a round of 20 questions before he would let me walk out the church door tonight...
'You're going to be in the van, Mom, right?'
'You're not going to move the van, though, right Mom?"
'You won't go anywhere while I'm here...not even Walmart?"
'It's only an hour and a half, Mom. DON'T LEAVE!'
'Don't move the van Mom. I may not be able to find you. It'll be dark.'
'What happens if it gets over early?'
Finally I stopped him, looked deep in his gorgeous blue eyes and said, 'Alek. Have I ever lied to you?'
"Alek, look at me...I will sit across the street in the van, in the same spot we parked in, waiting for you. I won't leave. I PROMISE.'
He finally seemed satisfied and quietly turned back to watching the other kids play.
It's been almost ten years since we brought our scrawny, scrappy little guy home from Russia, and yet, somehow, his past still has the ability to reach through time and grab him, dragging him back to his shattered world of insecurity without warning.
All of this has me wondering...
Do our little ones ever fully heal? Does their history always hang around waiting to raise its ugly head? Is there anything I can do as a parent to get through to him that he CAN trust in our love...in our word?
I know God CAN and DOES heal...and I fully believe He WILL, IF its in His will. But I also believe he uses these experiences and scars to mold us and use us for His glory.
I keep praying for full healing, for all of my children. Full and complete, so they can lead a normal, healthy life.
But I am prepared. God may have other things in mind for my Q-ball.
Either way it's got to be something absolutely awesome.
Update: Alek made it an hour into AWANA before he ran out to the van to 'check' on me...just to make sure I was alright. Sigh. I should have spent this hour praying, instead of blogging. ;)


are ya game?

Okay...here's what I'm thinking.

Since we don't live in the Sunflower State anymore (aka Kansas) does Sunflower Seeds really fit? I suppose we could be transplanted seeds, but the whole analogy gets really muddled and just kind of loses the effectiveness, don't ya think?
I'm leaning heavily toward coming up with something else, but all of my creative energy was zapped last week by the expo.
Here's where you come in.
I need your help.
I need your creative energy to come up with a snazzy new title.
I'd love to get something really snazzy like...

Too bad they're already taken.
So get those thinking caps on...
I'll be waiting with baited breath.


19 years ago today...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

...I married the man of my dreams.
Meshack is my confidant...
my rock....
my best friend.
Little did I realize on that gorgeous September day in 1989, just how much life would throw at us...and how thankful I would be to have him at my side.
Meshack has stuck by me through thick and thin.
We've weathered living below the poverty level...
Working three jobs a piece...
Seven years of working weekends...
Eight years of off and on infertility treatments...
Ten years of college...
Sixteen years of living away from our family...
Nineteen years of snoring...
And over 24 years of PMS!
He agonized with me through the battle with infertility...
and then flew around the world with me four times to find our children, despite a fear of flying and a propensity for air sickness.
He held my hand as we watched the orphanage staff bring our oldest son down the stairs to us...and then four short years later handed me a Kleenex as Q-ball walked into his kindergarten room.
He held the barf bag for me as I came out from anesthesia after knee surgery...worked with me to rehab the knee and still scolds me into taking better care of it.
He's driven me to the emergency room at three in the morning as I battled a stomach ulcer...stopping every five minutes so I could upchuck on the side of the road.
He's endured buying female supplies...
And survived the embarrassment of the price check.
He laughs at my bad jokes...
Thinks I can sing alright...
and calls me a great writer.
He is the most amazing father a child could ask for...
He always finds the time to play, read or just snuggle up to watch a movie.
He's not afraid to show and tell his kids just how much he loves them.
He is quick to love, slow to anger...
He is a man of integrity...
A man of conviction...
A man of God.
Meshack may be gray around the edges...
A little older...
And a lot wiser...
But he'll always be the boy I fell in love with 24 years ago.


goin' to the chapel

Monday, September 15, 2008

This last weekend on our way home from the airport, Shad decided to surprise me.

We took a little detour and stopped by the church we were married in nearly 19 years ago.
It hasn't changed a bit.
I loved the spot we were married in.
It's a little chapel of a church high in the Rocky Mountains.
It holds barely over a hundred people...just enough to fit our families. ;>)
The spot holds so many memories for us.
The first time I figured out he 'liked' me was just down the road on a youth group retreat.
Our first kiss was a few days later down by the river.
In the five years we dated (through high school and a year of college), we visited this spot many times, enjoying the scenery, talking about our dreams, working through our differences...
There's something almost spiritual in the sound of the water and the rustle of the wind through the trees.
Yep. We definitely picked the perfect spot to get married.
And it was a kick sharing the spot with our kids 19 years later.
Who would have thought back then we would be bringing a passel of kids up the Poudre to see the spot where their old folks got hitched.
Most kids would be bored out of their mind...but Alek, Anya, Nick and Maddie got a kick out of exploring everything. While we couldn't go inside, we did get to go down by the river, toss some stones and take some pics (with the camera phone.)
On the way home, Anya said, 'Someday Mama, I'm going to get married in that church.'
I couldn't think of a better place.


what's done is done

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The expo was a roaring success. Women started lining up at the door, in the pouring rain 45 minutes before it opened and didn't stop coming all day.
I think we broke our attendance record.
Everyone says they had a great time.
I did too. The week was crazy, but fun.
Lots of work.
Lots of food.
Lots of friends.
Lots of exercise.
I think I walked more in the last 48 hours than I have in YEARS.
And do you remember the shoe from last year?
This year it was three HUGE purses.
Jackie outdid herself again.
The only thing to mar the week was when I realized I am now officially unemployed.
My days as an event coordinator/journalist are complete. After four years of planning the largest party the women in St. Joseph have ever seen, I am done.
I pulled into the driveway last night, relieved to finally be home, but also feeling a little bittersweet over the fact I may never again have this opportunity.
Yea. I know.
I'm complicated that way.
In one breath I want the satisfaction and dare I say ego-boost of hearing all the praise about an event that I have planned...
And in the next I want nothing more than to stay home with my kids...
Well, I'm getting to try the second option, at least for the next few weeks.
Let's see how it goes, shall we?


long time, no write

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sorry about that. It's been one of those kinds of weeks.
And the next one won't be much better.
Last week we had a family funeral and the start of Maddie's early intervention evaluation. This week I'm leaving on Tuesday morning to fly back to Kansas to finish up my job at the newspaper.
It's September, which means it's Expo time!
Remember last year at this time? I was in the middle of the expo and on pins and needles for a travel date?
Wow! Has it been a year already?
Anway...I'll be off in Kansas for most of next week. I'm taking the laptop and will try to post a couple of messages from out there.
But no promises.


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