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coming up for air

Friday, October 31, 2008

The silence around here has been deafening hasn't it? Sorry about that, but the last four days have been a blurr.
First I want to thank all of your for your prayers and condolences. The girls are doing much better. The older one has been released from the hospital, but the baby (1 yr old) is still in critical condition. She is off the respirator though and breathing on her own. That is a big blessing.
Please continue to pray for the family, especially Me-'s husband who is having to comfort a one year old in a lot of pain and a four year old who can't understand why mommy isn't coming home.
In other news...
I think I have the flu.
It started on Monday and has been getting progressively worse over the last few days. Last night was the worst - I didn't sleep much at all. Today my voice is pretty much gone...and that doesn't work too well with a hard-of-hearing child! ;>)
Ummm...what else.
Oh, yea. Anya's test results.
The audiologist says Anya has a 6% hearing loss in her right ear. He doesn't know what its from, but says it could be from the damage to her ears from all the ear infections she had as a baby.
I just want to scream. I know after we brought her home she was one constant ear infection. We were in the doctor's office almost every month for a year before they would consider removing her tonsils, taking out the adenoids and eventually putting in tubes.
On her medical report it didn't mention anything about ear infections, but they talked about her getting colds a lot.
The only symptom Anya ever exhibits with ear infections is a runny nose...also a classic symptom of a cold. How much do you want to bet she went with ear infections undiagnosed for about the first year of her life?
No wonder she didn't pull at her ears or show any discomfort at all, even with a horrible middle ear infection at the age of two!!!!
Every once in awhile this happens to me. I get incredibly frustrated over the needless suffering my children endured in the orphanage, and the permanent scars it left on them.
The audiologist wants us to take her to an ENT to have her checked out and in the meantime, Anya's teacher will be using an FM system. He said it is not affecting her academically, so I'm not sure why he needs to put her through the embarrassment of having to be different, but we're explaining to Anya she is getting to experience a little of what Maddie goes through every day. I think that has helped.
On a lighter note...
My brother, sister-in-law and their kids are in town from Oregon. We're pretty excited to see them. My whole family will be getting together for dinner on Sunday, which is a rare occurrence. Hopefully I'll be able to post some really cute pictures next week.
In the meantime, it may be a little quiet around here. I'm going to try to sleep off this bug.


too much

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I don't really know where to begin. There is so much to say, but my thoughts are a jumbled mess. My dad called last night to tell me, my cousin, Me- was killed in a car accident yesterday afternoon.
The devastating thing is her family has already dealt with death too many times before. This just heaps burning coals on an already gaping wound.
Her mother, my first-cousin, has planned too many funerals. At just 11 years of age her youngest son died inexplicably. He was running around the gym one minute and was gone the next.
And just 60 days ago her husband died. Again, unexpectedly.
Now this.
M- leaves behind a husband and two young daughters who were in the car with her and were life flighted to area hospitals. As of this afternoon the four year old is doing pretty well, the one year old is stable, but has some pretty serious injuries.
Please pray for C- and her only remaining child Mi- and Me's husband. We have an incredibly closely knit extended family, who will gather around them and support them, but what they really need right now is to feel the comfort of their Heavenly Father.


what goes around, comes around

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My head hurts.

My neck is sore.
My throat feels like it has an ice pick in it.
Every muscle aches...
And I'm sitting on my bed, with a heating pad in my lap because I'm freezing! I'm sure I have a fever.
And this isn't the first time this month I've felt this way. This is round two for me. Shad, Maddie and I have been passing it around for the last several weeks, but miraculously Alek, Anya and Nick have all avoided the malaise.
I'm not a bug phobe. Don't get me wrong - we wash our hands and don't drink after each other, but by and large I'm not afraid of my kids catching a cold. If figure its one less bug they'll fight as adults. And honestly, they're all pretty healthy. Until now I haven't really had too much of a problem with a bunch of sick kids...well, unless you count last February after we brought Maddie home...and of course last Christmas when they all got the flu while we were in Ukraine.
Hmmmm....maybe I need to start rethinking my strategy.
Thankfully, I have my bag of Strawberry cough drops, a bottle of advil, my heating pad and NyQui! at the ready. I'd have a bag of M&Ms on my nightstand if it sounded the least bit yummy. (Yea...weird I know. When did chocolate EVER not sound good! ;>) Maybe I'll save it and mix it with a bag of popcorn when I recover. Another day or so and I should be back to my old self.
Unless of course someone decides to pass me another bug.


how many times...

This had better not be one of those 70 times 7 answers, because at this point I'm not up to it. How many times do I have to tell the kids...(and NO, I'm not just saying Maddie here) the following before they start to listen?

  • Please, don't wipe your hands on your shirt - that's what the napkin is for.
  • {Insert child's name here} close your mouth when you chew.
  • (Boys) Have you washed your hands? - Get back in that bathroom and get them washed NOW!
  • Stop messing around and eat!
  • Get your coat on, it's 10 degrees outside.
  • Stop messing around and GO TO SLEEP.
  • No running in the house!
  • No ball throwing in the house!
  • Don't talk with your mouth full.
  • For heaven's sake, use a spoon!
  • {Insert child's name here} come get your shoes out of the middle of the stairs.
  • For crying out loud - pick your underwear up off the floor and put it in the hamper.
  • No, you may not have cookies before supper.
  • No you can not watch TV, you need to finish your homework first.
  • I don't care if your friends are wearing sweats to school, you will be wearing jeans. No sweats, jeans. I will not have you looking like you just got out of bed!
  • Have you brushed your teeth? Get it done.
  • Did you comb your hair? Get it done.
  • Where's your backpack - well, find it. It is your responsilibity to keep track of it.
  • Stop eating with your hands...that's what God made forks for.
  • Keep your hands out of your hair (girls), that's how you get the food stuck in there that we have to wash/comb out each night.
  • Stop chewing your nails. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.
  • UGH! BOYS! Who was in here last and didn't put the seat down?!
  • Does the hand towel belong on the floor? Please pick it up.
  • Swallow before you put more food in that mouth.

Boy, now that I've typed it, I sound like a real nag, don't I? ;>) But I know I'm not alone. What am I missing?


birth verse

Monday, October 27, 2008

I haven't forgotten about this blog, honest. I just haven't had a whole lot to say lately.
So just to keep things moving I thought I would share with you my Birth Verse. I saw it on another blog and thought it was kind of cute.

Romans 8:31 NIV

What, then, shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?

Definitely one of my favorites.
So what's your birth verse?


wha'd you say?

During the last nine months we have become audiology experts. Okay, maybe not experts, but certainly more educated than most about the workings of the inner ear. Its a requirement when dealing with our special needs child.

We've learned about decible levels, sound waves and cochlea....
the hammer, anvil and stapes.
Actually I learned all this stuff, turns out Shad already knew most of it.
But all that new-found knowledge did me absolutely no good today.
The school district's audiologist (I didn't know ANY school district had an audiologist) called. He said the kids had their hearing screenings today. The boys did great, but Anya's test showned some signs of hearing loss in one ear and limited movement in her other ear drum.
Not again.
Anya has had this happen each of the four years she has been in school. Starting with her preschool hearing screenings right on up to second grade. Every year we get the same result...in one ear or another. And every year I take her to an audiologist for further testing...and every year she comes out clean.
Thankfully, this time I'm not going to have to use our health insurance (or lack thereof) to pay for this visit. Its free of charge.
Yea. Surprised me too.
The district's audiologist has a sound-proof room, just like our former ENT, where he can give her a thorough screening. When I told him of the incidents in the last three years, he was a bit surprised.
He was even more surprised when I mentioned her hearing impaired sister.
Hee-hee-hee. I just HAD to play with him a little bit. ;>) Don't feel too bad for him, I finally told them they weren't biologically related...and after further questioning, the reason for her hearing loss.
There was no getting around it. Anya is going to have to miss a little bit of school on Thursday to go in for yet some more testing.
Who knows, maybe there really is a problem.
Or maybe this is yet another case of fluid build-up in Anya's ears and once we start the usual treatment, she'll dry up and be just fine.
I wish they would just let me know a couple of weeks in advance when they're going to do tests. We could start her medication and save us all a bunch of time.


weeeee are the champions...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

They won!
It wasn't easy, but they did it.
Alek got to play a little bit, but because they never did get more than a touchdown lead, his playing was limited to kickoffs and the occasional injury substitution. He was a bit disappointed, until he saw his trophy. ;>)

We had lots of family come up for Alek's game...a first. My family has seen him play a handful of baseball games, but Shad's family hadn't seen a single one. What a treat!
We made a little party out of it.
I fixed way too much chili and potato soup and tons of other cold weather, comfort foods.
And the kids got to have pop! They were in heaven. ;>) (Yes, I deprive my kids of sugar-water unless, of course, its a special occasion.)
We're in a bit of a extra-curricular slump right now. I limit the kids to one extra activity a piece (with the exception of AWANA) Football was taking up so much of our time, I don't know what we'll do with our afternoons now.
But I'm sure we'll think of something. ;)


game day

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tomorrow's a big day for my big guy. Alek plays in the championship football game Saturday afternoon. And he's pretty stoked!

He was so excited he wore his jersey to school today. ;>)
I have to admit, I'm pretty excited for him. While he doesn't get to play much, he has learned SO much this year...and is already looking forward to next year.
I'll let you know how it goes.


changing attitudes

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's parent-teacher conference time.

Tonight at 5:40 MST we get to start talking with the teachers about how the kids are adjusting to their new schools, new friends and new academic standards.
And for the first time I'm a little nervous.
And not for the reasons you may think.
My sweet, beautiful, kind Anya has been going through some sort of weird phase lately. At the first of the year her weekly attitude report had become riddled with little notes about needing to be more respectful and not talking during class.
I exchanged a couple of emails with the teacher and the teacher was confident she had it under control. Just to be sure, we introduced some minor discipline at home for every mark on her paper, and in the last few weeks it seemed to improve.
Until today.
I learned she got in trouble yesterday for talking and when the teacher corrected her and made her write a note on her attitude report, she got mad, dropped to the floor, tossed her pencil and started crying. Loudly.
It is SO not like her. While she is highly emotional, she's not one to put it all out there on public display.
She saves her tears and drama for me.
Its not entirely new. We did have a little bit of this when Anya was in preschool. It turned out the way the teacher was handling it was making things worse. Mrs. K started out by being wishy-washy in her approach (Oh, don't do that. You don't want to do that. Let's not do that, shall we?) And then, when she'd had enough, over-reacted by yelling, over-disciplining (by sending her to the principal's office for MINOR offenses) and generally having a bad attitude toward her. Now don't get me wrong. I know Anya was doing things that needed to be corrected - I just think there were more effective ways of handling it.
Anyway...once Anya reached Kindergarten, her new teacher told me of one episode, which she handled beautifully and Anya didn't have any more trouble.
Until this year.
Now, I know the teacher is not yelling, over-disciplining and having a bad attitude towards her. The teacher and Anya both have good things to say about their relationship. But I do wonder if maybe she is just a bit wishy-washy.
I don't know about your kids, but mine respond best to a loving, but firm approach. Let them know where they're expected to go and they do great. If appropriate, they can choose how they get there, but they are expected to behave in a certain way.
No ifs, ands or buts.
Maybe the teacher is a little wishy-washy.
Maybe Anya is still finding her way in a new school.
Or maybe she's just going through some sort of stage.
Whatever it is, there IS good news...
Anya told me about the episode with her teacher yesterday, herself. I didn't get a note...and she had forgotten about the parent-teacher meetings so she wasn't even worried about it coming up. She told me the truth because she knew it was the right thing to do.
That is HUGE in my book.
And it tells me this is just a temporary thing.
Thank goodness.
In other news...
Alek's recent attitude issues are also subsiding.
Ever since our move to Wyoming over two months ago, Alek has been a bit of a bear.
Understandable. We all have been in a bit of a funk.
But it is certainly not excuseable.
We had been going round and round with him to try and improve his attitude - trying everything in the book. (I had even started a post a few weeks ago to ask for input)
Nothing worked, until I remembered a little trick we used on Alek a few years ago.
Its called attitude boot camp. And it is NOT fun.
There are several stages - only one of which we've ever really defined and used. (Thank goodness it works.)
In Stage One - 'foreclosure' - the repo man comes to Alek's room and reposses EVERYTHING.
And I don't mean Alek just can't play with or use these items. I mean, everything is physically removed from his room.
A few years ago, it was bad enough we even removed his curtains, rugs and pictures. All he had left were his bed and dresser. And I was seriously thinking about taking the dresser.
Unfortunately, now that the boys share a room its a little more difficult...but doable.
We took every priviledge away from Alek. He lost ALL toys, ALL entertainment, ALL freedoms, ALL benefits.
He no longer was able to stay up an hour longer than the little kids. He was back on an 8 p.m. schedule. He no longer could play ANYTHING after school - he had to be as bored and bored could be. He couldn't watch TV, listen to the radio, listen to an MP3 player, watch any movies, get on the internet. NOTHING. He was given several extra chores and had to serve his brother and sisters before himself. All of this was an effort to promote a better attitude. An attitude of thankfulness, respect and servanthood.
It worked.
Alek is back to being my sweet, respectful boy. He's catching himself before his bad attitude strikes full force and is self-correcting. (Thank goodness).
Slowly but surely he's earning back his possessions. He recently got his TV privileges back, but I doubt he'll see his Playstation again until Christmas. His bedtime is still 8 p.m., with allowances for Sunday and Monday Night Football. His chore list is shrinking, but he's still serving his brother and sisters first (although now he's doing it on his own.)
One of our first priorities is still going to be getting him his own room. I'm sure this won't our last battle with 'bad attitude-itis'. It'll get worse the older he gets.
Who knows, we may need to go to Defcon 5 before his teen years are over - whatever that means - although I think it may involve removing his bedroom door from the hinges. ;>)


meet and greet

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I did it!
I made some new friends.
Last Friday Maddie and I went to a Bible study at our church. I didn't have great expectations for the group. I figured the few women that would be there, would be way out of my demographic. But I was bound and determined to get out there and start meeting people.
And I'm glad I did. Boy, was I wrong!
I walked in the door to find lots of women and was most of them were my age - or had kids who were my age and in a couple of cases - both. (and that's hard to do.)
And the Bible Study was good too. Guess what it was on?
We talked about letting go of self so God can work through us. You know. Letting go of our pride, pre-conceived notions about how things are supposed to work and all that stuff, so God can use us for His will.
Hmmm...pretty appropriate for the mood I've been in lately, isn't it?
Since I was the only newbie, they had me introduce myself. Thankfully, they didn't do the whole go around the room and tell her your name thing, because there's no way I would have EVER remembered anyone's name. Except for the leader. She is Maddie's occupational therapist.
Nope. I'm not kidding. How cool is that? I didn't even know she went to our church.
I told our spiel. Four kids, 10 and under. I'm a recovering journalist trying to stay home but coming to grips with the fact I may have to return to the workforce, and when I mentioned what Shad did for a living several of them started asking - 'Oh, is he the new vet out at xxx?'
Freaked me out a little until I realized they were all animal lovers, are clients at my husband's clinic and read the newspaper about Shad a few weeks ago.
And one of them is a vet who used to work at the same clinic.
Talk about weird.
Anyway...Maddie and I had a great time visiting with the ladies, then afterwards came home for lunch.
While Maddie was taking her afternoon nap, the phone rang. It was Heather - the former vet.
'I know it's late notice,' she said, but would you like to come to a jewelry party at my house tonight?'
I couldn't say 'yes' fast enough.
Adult conversation.
Adult food.
And I could get out of the house!
It was heaven.
I sat there for two hours talking, eating, laughing and looking at jewelry I had no business looking at, let alone buying.
And I loved it! :)
I even weaseled my way into an invitation for a Pampered Chef party. AND I DON'T EVEN KNOW THE WOMAN!
Sigh. I'm turning into a direct-sales part hussy. But I don't care! Whatever it takes...besides, she's probably desperate to fill her invitation list! :)
I met seven women...all of whom aren't native Wyoming-ans (is that a word?). There were even two or three from Kansas.
I have names...cell phone numbers...
and invitations for play-dates with Maddie.
I had hit the new friend jackpot!
It gets better.
Monday the kids had the day off. The teachers needed a break I guess. That morning I got another phone call that morning from Heather - some of the moms from church were planning to take their kids swimming at the rec center - did we want to come along?
Are you kidding me?
What time?
Where it is?
I'm there!
We had a great time. Turns out the rec center has a GREAT indoor water park - like nothing I'd ever seen in a community facility before.
The kids made new friends.
I made new friends.
And we got to spend three hours out of the house having fun.
Things may be finally turning around in the friend department.
Now I just need to return the favor and start inviting people to do things with us. That's a little easier said than done. Shad's not much of a party animal and I have to tell you Heather's house is AWESOME - a brand spanking new jobbie with waaaaay too much room.
My little three bedroomer is straight out of the 70's suburbs. It resembles a cracker jack box...especially next to hers. But in the name of new friendships I will swallow my house-pride and figure something out.
YEA. I know.
I'm not supposed to be worried about appearances.
What can I say? I'm not perfect.
I'm still working on that part of the Bible Study lesson.


california girl

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I have a tendency to talk to myself while I'm driving. Nothing too serious, just little comments and suggestions here and there to other drivers I meet along the way.

You know. Stuff like...
"Hey buddy! It's green!"
"Your car is equipped with a turn-signal, ya know."
and my personal favorite...
"Did you really pass driver's ed?"
I try to keep it low key and honestly try to remember to keep the comments to myself when the kids are in the car, BUT still it shouldn't have surprised me the other day during heavy traffic to hear a little 4-year-old voice from the backseat say...
"Hey! Doooooo! Mooooooo!'
Good thing I keep it rated G! ;>)


conversations with a four-year-old

Friday, October 17, 2008

I've mentioned how incredibly verbal and demonstrative Maddie is. How she talks a mile a minute with her hands flailing in every direction.
But I've never shown you...

Until now.
Here is a conversation I had with Maddie this morning after we returned from Bible study. It's pretty typical of all of my conversations with her. I can rarely understand much of what she is saying...but it is, oh so much fun to watch her!

Give her a minute to warm up. It takes awhile for the hands to start flailing, but by the time she's done, she could have knocked someone out!
Enjoy! ;>)
(BTW - Yes, I do comb my daughter's hair...EVERY DAY...several TIMES a day! :) But you have to remember...WE NOW LIVE IN WYOMING! There is no point in combing hair...it's just going to get messed up the minute you walk out the door. However, after viewing this and the last four videos of Maddie, I have decided I need to keep a comb attached to my camera. At least she'll look like I'm taking proper care of her. ;>)


day one

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It took me a whole day to post on Maddie's first day, because it took me that long to process all that happened yesterday.
I have mixed emotions about it.
On the one hand I'm thrilled with the speech help she got and with how excited she was with her day.
On the other, I'm worried about the lack of bonding I witnessed and the HUGE amount of over stimulation three hours in a preschool can do to her.
It's interesting.
Maddie walked off with the speech pathologist without looking back.
I'm not sure how to take it.
Part of me is incredibly sad. If it would have been Alek, Anya or Nick at her age, they would have been VERY hesitant to go with her. Looking back the whole way...or at least waving goodbye.
I got nothing out of Maddie.
But then again, I keep thinking back to when we first got custody of Maddie almost nine (very short) months ago. When we were in Ukraine, Maddie would fight to get away from me...to go with anyone else who spoke Russian.
When we first got home she would lean out of our arms, putting her hands out for everyone to hold her.
And if we didn't have a strong hold on her hand, she would run away from us and climb up into the lap of the first stranger she could find.
She really has come a long way.
She no longer runs up to other people, grabbing their faces and smacking them on the cheek...or worse, lips.
She no longer calls every woman Mama and shops for the newest and pretties model at Wa!mart.
And she hasn't leaned out of our arms in a very long time.
One of the options in Maddie's IEP is the use of a counselor for Shad and I and I'm seriously thinking about taking her up on the offer. Not that the therapist is an expert in international adoption or anything...but maybe she could help us sort through some of these emotions.

sunflower seeds - day one


day one

She loved it.

She really, REALLY loved it!
Preschool was all Maddie could talk about yesterday afternoon.
From the minute she got in the van she jabbered on and on, only some of which I could understand, but every once in awhile there was a 'skoo' and 'backpa' thrown in there.
The girls LOVES her backpack.
The staff says Maddie did great. I'm glad. I wasn't so sure how it was all going to work out yesterday morning.
After I took the video, we climbed into the van and took off - Maddie jabbering the whole way. When we arrived she pulled off her seat belt, jumped out of her seat, opened the van door and climbed out of the van barely before I put the van in park. She jumped up and down as I pulled my purse from the passenger seat and drug me down the sidewalk and up to the door.
But as soon as the door opened, she changed.
She shut down, walking closer and closer to me, becoming more and more hesitant the closer we got to the room.
Once we stepped inside, she grabbed my leg and wouldn't let go.
It about broke my heart.
The speech pathologist and teacher came up and welcomed Maddie to the class...making a big deal about introducing her to the kids. One of the helpers brought Maddie a baby to play with - which she grabbed with one hand, while still hanging on to my leg with the other.
Both of the teachers commented on how unlike Maddie this was.
That's when I decided to do it.
I wasn't going to bring it up - I don't like using her background as an excuse for her behavior, but I really thought it was best they understood where she was coming from. Not that I wanted them to expect the worst from her - I want them to be prepared...just in case.
'I believe she's having flash-backs to her life in the orphanage,' I said. 'She lived four years of her life with kids her exact same age, in a setting much like this one. She had to share toys, get conked over the head by bigger kids and share the adults attention. Food was scarce and the same day after day. Life was a routine. It wasn't fun.'
'Right now Maddie has no real idea preschool is a fun place to be. All she knows is this sounds, smells and feels a lot like the place she left just eight short months ago.'
'We'll need to be incredibly patient with her,' I said. 'More than likely she will start acting out a bit - getting overstimulated, hyper and maybe even getting pretty physical with the kids. That is how she survived in the orphanage. It was every kid for themselves.'
'Hmmmm....' was their only response.
I wasn't expecting complete understanding, but I was hoping for a few questions -anything to show they were interested in helping me help her with this adjustment.
After what seemed like an eternity, the speech pathologist said, 'well, then, maybe we should start out in my room and go at this a little slower.'
Finally. A voice of reason.
Maddie walked off with her, without so much as a glance my way.
No goodbye.
No wave.
So much for bonding.
By the time I picked her up three hours later, Maddie was a mass of nerves. Overstimulated beyond anything I had ever seen in her before. She was running around, ignoring everyone. Jumping off of toys, throwing balls and running into other kids.
When I told her to settle down, she looked my way and then ran the other.
'Oh, she did so well today,' they all said.
'We just love her.'
'She's sooooo friendly. I've never seen anything like it.'


first day of school

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Do you think she was excited?
Just a bit?
(And yes, that is a WINTER coat on my child. It was COLD here this morning! Cold, as in...18 degrees. YIKES! I had to pull out Nick's winter coat from last year because I couldn't find Maddie's this morning. I guess that's one of the first things I'll have to do this weekend...go winter coat shopping. Somehow I thought I had a little more time than this! ;>)

sage brush diaries - first day of school



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A quick update.
Maddie has to wait until tomorrow (Wednesday) to start preschool. The district called today to let me know the speech pathologist comes to the classroom on Monday and Wednesday and does the out-patient stuff on Tuesday and Thursdays.
So Maddie will wait.
She wasn't too happy about it. She pouted a bit as she stuck her red flowered backpack back into ther closet this morning. But when I told her she would be going tomorrow, she perked up a bit.
'Tomorrow," she asked.
'Yep, tomorrow,' I assured her.
'Okay. Tomorrow.'


the compromise

Friday, October 10, 2008

Now before you go thinking Shad and I are totally incompatable and doomed for relationship failure, let me assure you...we've been happily married for 19 years.
And counting!
That's more than half of my lifetime
(we were married 16 days after my 19th birthday - I think I've officially been married longer than I've not been married now.)...and we dated for five years before that (all through high school)...so I think we know each other pretty well.
Yes, we come from different worlds.
Yes, we we rarely agree on anything.
And yes, we are known to have lively discussions.
But you know what?
It works. We are the perfect compliments to each other...and we're smart enough to know it.
Shad is a pessimist - he prefers the term 'realist.'
I'm an optimist - he calls me the dreamer.
He is calm, cool and collected.
I'm animated, emotional and hot-headed.
He is hard-working, fun-loving and stubborn.
I'm more relaxed, serious and stubborn.
Oh, wait! I guess we do have something in common. ;>)
Over the last 24 years we have become expert compromisers.
(I personally think as a couple we could help mediate so many of the world's crisis...if only they would call us! :)
And every so often I'll throw him curve-ball and do the whole 'submissive wife' thing.
Actually, I'm trying to be better about it, but I have to admit, it DOES NOT come naturally to me. The women in my family are anything BUT submissive. Just ask any one of us. We know it is what we are SUPPOSED to do Biblically...but we are nowhere near where God wants us to be on that one! ;>)
Thankfully, God loves us anyway.
And so do our husbands.

sunflower seeds - the compromise


a compromise

Shad and I have always been on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
In high school he was a rocker...I was a country music girl.
He likes to watch movies...I prefer a good book.
He wants to live in the boonies. I would like to live at least on a paved road...if not within the city limits.
So it wasn't a shocker that when we sat down to really talk about the Maddie preschool situation, once again we were on complete opposite sides.
He wanted her to go to preschool full-time - which get her help and would free me up to work full-time.
I wanted to her to stay-at-home full time - which would mean we could bond and I would be staying home full-time.
Yea. Like I said. Opposites.
So I was surprised when I reminded him of Maddie's IEP meeting yesterday he simply told me 'do what you feel is best.'
Is this the same man who battled with me over her name for nearly a year?!
Is this the same man who still brings up the house 40 miles out in the country, that was way too small, didn't have a well for water and was too far away for his employers to agree to letting us live there?
I'm thinking some aliens abducted Shad in the middle of the night and replaced him with some meeker and milder version.
'Okay,' I said, and hurried off to my meeting.
It was a good meeting. They presented the test results, gave their opinions, listed to my concerns...and then we sat down to write the IEP.
They are recommending services in almost every area. Maddie is delayed in not only speech and language, but gross and fine motor skills, developmental skills, academic skills and maturity.
Simply put. She. needs. everything.
These ladies were quick to assure me that most of this is most likely just a matter of experience. She hasn't had to jump on one foot before. The orphanage, I'm sure, didn't let her play with scissors and glue. Of course no one took the time to teach her what long and short were.
These are ALL things she will learn with time.
'Are you planning to send her to kindergarten next year, ' one of them asked.
'Well, then, there are no worries. If you put her in preschool, she'll be caught up in no time.'
And therein lies the problem, doesn't it?
If I don't put her in preschool, it will take her longer to catch up.
If I put her in preschool, it will take her longer to bond with us.
I hate Catch 22.
It gets me every time.
The ladies recommended Maddie get one 30-minute sessions each of gross and fine motor occupational therapies a week. The preschool will help take care of the academic and maturity concerns.
And a whopping four times a week, Maddie will get 30 minutes of speech.
Wow. That was more than I expected. This whole thing may be harder than I thought. (That's a recurring theme for me these days.)
Somewhere in the middle of all this I started thinking it might not be such a bad idea to have Maddie go to preschool. Obviously she needs the help. Much more than Shad and I can do alone. And she will love it...her gregarious personality will eat it up.
But there's still the matter of bonding...which thankfully the ladies understood.
'Go home,' they said. 'Think about it. Talk it over with Shad, and let us know what you want to do. We'll be happy to help you in whatever decision you make.'
So we talked about it.
And we talked about it.
Ad nauseum. Really.
And we have come up with a compromise.
Maddie will be going to preschool two days a week. The other two days she will be getting speech help either here at home, or at the developmental center. (I'm voting for home so I can get some things done while they're working.)
I am hoping it is the best of both worlds. We will still have Maddie and Mommy time...something which we both need desperately. And she will get to go to school to get the help she needs.
She's excited.
She's already asking about getting a backpack, pointing to her school when we drive by and telling everyone she can that she's going to school like a 'biiiii girrrr.'
Tuesday's the day.
My baby starts school on Tuesday.
I hope I survive.

sage brush diaries - the compromise


the alternative

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm not the only one who loves this new radio station.
The kids like it too.
Don't believe me? How's this for proof?
More Maddie cuteness.
Maddie the dancer... (
Oh, and excuse the mess. I'm still unpacking.)

sunflowerseeds - the alternative


the alternative

I've been talking so much about my adverse reaction to moving lately, that you must certainly think I hate it here.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
There are a ton of great things I have found here, the most recent of which is an alternative Christian radio network called Air One.
I have always had kind of an eclectic music style. If I like it, I like it. If I don't, I don't. It doesn't matter the genre. I've liked everything from country to heavy metal with some classical thrown in the mix.
So imagine my joy when I discovered Air 1.
Just like K-LOVE, Air 1 is a nationally syndicated radio station...but unlike K-LOVE which plays more 'Pop' like music, Air 1 is more alternative in nature. It has kind of a 80s, 90s and 00s feel to it. College students love it.
And thankfully, they don't mind if I listen too. I have discovered a TON of new Christian artists! Awesome stuff! I'm putting my newest play list on the bottom of this post, so you can give it a try...and let me know what you think. (If you can't get the player to show up in this window, just click on 'pop-out player)

sage brush diaries - an alternative


accepting the challenge

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One of my favorite bloggie people is Melissa E. over at Life Here. We met her and her husband, Steve, on our second trip to Ukraine. We found each other while loading up on the flight from Atlanta to New York and then spent four hours eating and yacking in the JFK terminal.
It was great getting to meet these guys in real life.
Steve and Melissa are the parents of six beautiful kids - three homegrown daughters and three sons from Ukraine. And to top that she's a great photographer, so we get to see awesome pics of these cuties all the time! :)
Anyway, today she posted a challenge...to post the sixth picture of the sixth file from your pictures files. Since I take most of the pictures and don't have my picture taken too often, I didn't hesitate to accept the challenge.
So here ya go.
What about you?!
Come on...I did it! :)
If you accept, leave a comment below with the link to your post so we can come visit you!!


wrapping up and reaching out

Monday, October 6, 2008

I know I said I was going to share less depressing and more happy thoughts around here...but since it IS my diary, I'm going to keep it honest.
I have a confession to make.
Last month when I went back for the expo I decided since it was so close to home, and I still had some things to wrap up, I would go across the river on Wednesday and Thursday nights to our little town.
I stopped by the house, cleaned up a little, painted some more...and moped around A LOT.
Thursday night was the worst. When the painting was done...I cleaned everything up, went downstairs, walked through each room one more time and then promptly collapsed into a puddle of tears.
I didn't want to leave!
I called Shad.
Being the calm, collected, reasonable one - he talked me through the need for this move - all the reasons we discussed a million times - but for once it didn't help.
I don't know why it had me so emotionally spent. I have never been this sentimental. I know I will be happy no matter where God places me - as long as my family is with me. I'll be fine.
So what was different this time?
Could it be I'm finally getting to the point in my life where I want to settle down...for good? Or was it too soon after Maddie's adoption and I was still recovering from my minor bought with PAD.
I don't know.
All I know is I truly missed our house, our church family, our community.
A few days later I was back home, catching up on all my blogging buddies when I came across this post by Christina.
It reached out and smacked me on the back of the head.

A few weeks back, S. suggested that I get Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind teenage edition for my daughter K. This move has been hard on K~ and she can get rather stuck in negative thinking. So I got the teen version for K and the original book for myself. I figured K~ would be more open to reading it if I were reading the book too. Turns out God just really wanted me to read the book. It’s basically about how we can lose focus and get distracted and defeated by circumstances or negative thoughts or other deceptions and what we can do to change that - to renew our minds.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Rom 12:2

This “renewing” of my mind is not a new concept to me - I think Romans 12:2 was one of the first verses I ever memorized. But knowing something and doing something are two very different things. And even though I start out many days with the intent to live as one “renewed” it’s all too easy to fall into the same patterns and find myself snapping at the kids, grumbling under my breath and doing all sorts of un-transformed things like that. This summer was especially bad. I know for anyone who is even a semi-regular reader of my blog, that is so NOT a shocker. I’ve been cranky and frustrated and every time I try to turn my attitude around I get slapped down again with one calamity after another. Which must be why God figured one book wasn’t enough.

I signed myself up for the womens Bible study at church, mostly in the hopes of meeting and connecting with people because well, it’s kind of lonely being new in town. I didn’t even really look at what we’d be studying. So there I am Wednesday morning at Bible study, opening my book for the very first time and guess what I read just four pages in?

When Satan wages war against us, the primary battlefield is the mind.”

Yeah, I’m slow, but I’m not that slow. Message received God!

Yeah, me too!
So that's what I've done. I've worked on renewing.
Now, almost four weeks later, I'm much better...not completely healed, that's for sure. But better. I know we won't be going back. I know there's nothing I can do to change it and in the last couple of weeks I've realized all the moping, crying and bad attitude
I moved with me from Kansas, isn't going to make me happy here.
Funny isn't it?
I tell my kids all the time, 'I need to see your better attitude. Go find it.'
I think I've finally found mine!

sunflower seeds - wrapping up and reaching out


wrapping up and reaching out

We're finally moved.
Even though we haven't lived there since the end of August, we didn't feel like we could really put the Kansas house on the market until it was cleared out. (I guess we could have, but the people at HGTV definitely would have disapproved! :)
So Shad and Alek made a rush trip to Kansas this last weekend to finish packing the odds and ends.
The guys left on Friday and came home last night with a mini-trailer and pickup truck full of stuff. Now that stuff is sitting in various spots all over the house...just waiting for me to put it all away.
A lot of driving for less than a day's work, but now it's done. Honestly, it makes me a little sad. I still miss Kansas and our life there.
But...its time to move on.
And just to prove I am trying to find a new life for myself, here's some news...
I think I may have made a new friend. (That sounds so second grade, doesn't it?!)
There's a woman I keep meeting around town. Just about everywhere I go, she's there. I first met her last week at AWANA's, then I saw her again at church yesterday, and finally, she waved at me as she was dropping her kids off at my kids' school this morning.
The third time's the charm.
I guess I'm supposed to really get to know her. So I'm going to make an effort.
I have to tell you...I'm nervous. But it's time for me to step out and make new connections here in Wyoming.
Of course I can't remember her name, but I promise to find out tomorrow at AWANA.
In the meantime, I'm also waiting a call from another 'new friend'.
Our new church has a fellowship program that matches women up with other ladies. I filled out my questionnaire last week and put it in the box yesterday. I can't wait to see who they match me up with. It should be interesting.
So there you are...after living here six weeks, I'm finally starting to reach out. Taking the first tentative steps toward a new life.
Wish me luck.

sage brush diaries - wrapping up and reaching out


do you see it?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Enough is enough.
Enough about money.
Enough whining about something I can't change.
I need to share something fun.
So, here you are...some mindless blogging material.
My kids think this is the most hilarious commercial ever.
If one of them sees it on T.V. they call they other three in to watch.
They've DVR'd it and replay it over and over again.
They QUOTE it to me.
I don't get it.
Okay, maybe I get it a little.

I mean, I did smile just a tad the last time I watched it.
Okay, maybe a little more than a tad.
Snicker, snicker, snort.


the verdict is in

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ach! This stinks!
It's just yucky!
Phooey, phooey, phooey!!!
I'd use more colorful metaphors, but I'm a good Baptist girl. I don't know any. ;>)
Does it sound like I'm doing a lot of whining?
I hope not. That's not my intent.
I'm just trying to be real.
I know several of you are going through the same thing. You've told me I am not alone.
The paradox is amazing, isn't it? We work so hard to become parents, and then those of us who want to stay home to help those kids, to bond with those kids, many times aren't able to because of our decision to adopt.
Yes. We have adopted four times internationally.
And yes, we used credit cards to help us with those adoptions.
I know from my Dave Ramsey indoctrination Shad and I are the only ones responsible for our predicament, but to be honest with you, I don't know how we could or if we would have done anything different.
If we wouldn't have used those cards, we wouldn't have been able to bring these four amazing kids home.
If we would have waited to save up cash for the adoptions, then Alek, Anya, Nick and Maddie would have languished in the orphanages even longer.
Several people contributed to our adoptions (thank you!), we held garage sales, we pinched pennies, we sold stuff - all of the name of building our family.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.
So we worked extra jobs...sometimes three jobs a piece.
We tried applying for adoption grants...but they must not have thought we were anything special, because we didn't get a dime.
We did get one low-interest adoption loan...but that one was paid of years ago.
Now, don't get me wrong. All of these are GREAT options. They are making it possible for couples to bring home children all the time.
It's just none of it kept us from getting where we are today.
Stuck in between a rock and a hard place.
For those of you who may be thinking - 'Gut it up! Cut back your budget!' I have five words for you...
HA! Give me a break!
We are still living like college students...hand to mouth - waiting for 'financial aid day' (aka - tax refund time).
'But Shad's a vet...surely he makes a good income.'
Again, HA! He has the same amount of schooling as a physician...but not even a quarter of the starting salary.
'So then why did you have such a big family. If you can't afford it, why'd ya do it?'
Because that's what God wanted us to do! That's what we were called to do. What would you rather we do - sit around ignoring his plan and leave these four great kids to rot in the orphanage system?
I think not.
No. God has a purpose and a plan in all of this. It's just that we can't see it.
So this is where my faith is supposed to kick in.
The problem is...it isn't. Not really.
I'm having a hard time trusting God to provide on the finances. Especially when I'm wanting to ignore the one big option of bringing in more cash - going back to work. I feel a little guilty wanting to shut the one door on the option that makes the most sense.
I've always been more of a 'God helps those who help themselves' kind of gal. Maybe he wants me to go back to work.
But then why would he put the desire to stay home in my heart, only to make it impossible?
Yes. I know he works...miraculously. He's done it for us in the past.
Its just hard to trust...to know...that He'll do it again.
I think it's time to get on my knees. Truth be told, I should have been there all along.
Once again, it's life lesson time.
It's time to teach Tami the meaning of trust.
Yea. I get it.
I just don't like it.

sunflower seeds - the verdict is in


the verdict is in

I'm going back to work.

Either I find some freelance work, quickly...or I re-enter the real world at least part-time.
Shad got his check today, and while it would have been more than enough in Kansas...it's not enough for Wyoming. What's sad is that we're close...but not close enough. If I get rid of the luxury items, we still won't have any wiggle room for necessities like clothing, tires, dog food...
And we kind of need those things.
The truth is its the little things that nailed us. If we wouldn't have had the trip to the emergency room, we could have probably limped along for awhile. But without the insurance to cover it, we don't have enough money left at the end of the bills.
Shad's truck needs tires - the cords are starting to show.
Alek's trumpet bill comes due next month.
Anya needs to see an endocrinologist for a checkup.
Nick is going through a growing spurt and needs new jeans.
We're still paying two sets of utility bills. Even though they're not costing much - they add up. And winter is looming.
Utopia was too good to be true.
Thanks to all of you for the freelance writing tips. I'm scouring the Internet, checking out those and others all in the hopes of delaying what may be inevitable. The insurance thing looks like it is going to end up being a BIG issue, which eventually could force me back to work full-time.
Kids have a tendency to hurt themselves and get sick...and we HAVE to have the freedom to be able to take them to the doctor. I've already found myself putting visits off in hopes things will correct themselves or I will find a home remedy. Nothing huge. Stuff like allergy induced bloody noses...actually allergies in general. (We didn't have a problem with them until we moved here, now all of them are fighting it one way or another.) I can dose the kids up on Benedry!, but certainly don't want to do it long term without talking to a doctor. We're using humidifiers to help with the bloody noses, but the kids are still miserable. And if one of the kids really get sick I don't want to have to worry about how we're going to pay for the office visit.
That's no way to live.
If I can get some freelance income and do some substitute teaching every once in awhile, we may be able to build up the health savings account.
It's the plan anyway.
In the meantime I keep working to lower our overhead, and surf the Internet like mad woman trying to find some work.
Unfortunately, there's not much chance of winning an appeal.


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