Thursday, October 21, 2010

May I See Your ID Please?

Another exciting doctor visit for Timothy! This one was with his Developmental Pediatrician who we only see about every 6-8 months. She is the one who keeps track of the long-term issues with Timothy. Well, I think she is great, but extremely blunt and most definitely does not candy coat anything. The first few times we saw her I left shell-shocked and feeling like the worst mom in history. Now, I really appreciate how she gets to the point even though I don’t really like the point. Where am I going with this? Well, among many other things she wants us to be thinking about is getting Timothy some type of ID bracelet in case he runs away or we somehow loose him. This is way more than I can stand to think about, but I understand the idea of being proactive. That being said I am now left to figure out what type of bracelet to get him. They have a really neat one with GPS, but I really don’t want to go that high-tech quite yet. Timothy has an amazing ability to destroy things, so it needs to be really tough. What I am thinking of now is buying in bulk those plastic (sorry environmentalists) bracelets like you get at a concert or waterpark that lock. You can put your own logo on them- what a bonus! Before I do that though I thought I would see if anyone else has ideas. What do you think?
Thanks for your help!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It has been too long…

With school starting I thought I would have a lot of extra time. Time to nap, watch endless amounts of girly shows, read, and (most importantly) bake. Well, that is not the case. I have somehow gotten busier than before. While I am not chasing after Timothy or finding things for Madeline to do quite as much, I am now realizing how much I neglected during the summer. It is crazy how much work gets ignored when you are running around like a crazy person trying to survive the “break!” All this to say, I have not blogged in a while and I really need to. The problem with me is I have a very tiny memory for cute stories and the like (there are other problems with me, but can we please focus on one at a time?). My brain has a hard time remembering what it is supposed to be doing now, much less what has already happened. I prefer to live in my little world where the past is the past- it was great and happy, but it is gone now. Josh makes fun of me because I somehow forget just how hard certain situations have been or that some of them even existed. Oh well, I like my happy place! Now I just have to remember some of the last few weeks. Here are the main events:

  1. Josh passed the Bar!!!!!!!!!!!! Need I go on? Here is a pic of him getting sworn in this afternoon- it is now completely official. Now he can sue anyone (in Oregon)!
  1. In Timothy’s class they had to section off the room because he kept escaping (how much does that make me feel better?It is not just me!).
  1. Sadie has started Kindergym (a much cheaper version of “Little Gym” classes done through our Parks and Rec department) where she is a maniac! The child has no fear. One of her favorite activities is the balance beam where yesterday she jumped continually across it. She is a tad scary, but hugely cute. Her sense of humor is really blossoming (what do you expect from a child with Josh and my genes put together? She better be funny!). The other day she climbed up next to Josh while he was feeding Timothy. When Josh looked over she was in Madeline’s sunglasses and simply said, “Coooooool.” I know I am partial, but that is really cute. Oh, and Sadie has decided to not call Josh "Papa" anymore. This morning she told him, "No Papa! Father!" So, I guess he has a new name.
  1. Madeline has been doing really well in school. Everyday we get a report card for the day. This also includes her behavior on the bus. Well, last week when Madeline came home the bus driver told me to make sure I read her card, she had a tough afternoon on the bus. So, I excitedly took a peak and it said, “Loud talking out and criticizing my driving!” What exactly am I supposed to say to that? The loud talking I expect and truly have no other words to ask her to stop. I have pretty much given up and expect her to be a tour guide one day for partially deaf people. I decided instead to focus on the “criticizing my driving” part. I asked Madeline if she knew how to drive, she responded no. Then I asked if she has ever driven a bus, she said no. So, why then do you feel you need to criticize or instruct the driver? “I don’t know…..” She says. Well, I asked her to please leave the driver alone and then reminded her the following morning. When she got home the next afternoon apparently the same thing happened. So I talked to her again, but then emailed her teacher and asked her to remind Madeline. Her teacher (who I love by the way) said that they would have a bus training session the next day. When Madeline came home I got a good report. When I asked her about the day she very excitedly talked about the bus training game they played. She retold the story at dinner and Josh asked why they needed to do this (I guess I forgot to tell him about the issue) and she said, “Well Papa, you see some of the kids have been having troubles on the bus and my teacher felt they needed some practice (said in a very sad and compassionate tone). I guess like me (said in a very quick and quiet voice).” Oh Madeline, I wish I could be privy to your thoughts sometimes.

Well, that about does it for now. I am sure I will remember more, so I guess I will just need to write it down sooner next time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

735, 755, 1145, 350

No, these are not lottery numbers or lucky numbers (well, not to everyone at least). These are the times a bus stops in front of our house every weekday. School has started! I guess that is old news, but I am still excited. I, for some reason, had these dreams of school starting and life magically becoming easier. Though I am most definitely enjoying the extra time to work, I am now reminded of just how much I was not able to accomplish this summer. I am on a marathon now trying to catch up with lofty hopes of one day getting ahead. Not to worry, this is just a dream- I will not get my hopes us.
Well, Madeline is in a new school and loves it! I was so concerned about her transition and the drama that would ensue, but it turns out I am seemingly the one most affected by it all. I am a mess! I miss her old school and want to go back! I don’t like having to learn all the new rules and regulations. I picked her up the other day and was completely traumatized. What is happening to me? I used to love change and everything about it, but now I completely thrown off by any hint of it. Our fridge broke last week and I told Josh that I was sad- not because of the money (though that is the actual worst part), but because I liked our old one and simply did not want to change it. Anyway, Madeline has jumped right in and is doing great. She is in a smaller more specialized classroom that seems like it will be a good fit. There are 6 students at this point and 3 teachers- can you believe it?! I get a note home each day to let me know how her day went. Well, the other day the note said, “Madeline had a good day today! She is having a hard time staying in her seat during independent work time though- She likes to ‘pop-up’ and help others.” This is not unusual for Madeline, sitting still has never been her strong suit, but the fact that they can not keep her situated when there are 3 teachers in the room goes to show you how much fun her past teachers must have had. I mentioned this to Madeline’s teacher from last year and I think it made him feel a lot better.

Timothy is another story. I don’t know how much he actually likes school (seeing as he does not talk and such), but I do know that he adores the bus. Having it come everyday is like a dream come true! He patiently (and by patiently I mean the complete opposite- he goes berserk) waits every morning and can hardly contain his excitement when it rounds the corner. I think, more than anything, he likes the routine, but it sure is cute seeing him get so excited every morning. That is, until this morning. I am doing everything I can to keep him from hurting himself, myself and/or the house while waiting for the bus to come. Finally it came 10 minutes late and I walk with/get dragged by him to the bus only to be told that they do not have a car seat for him today. His usual bus needed work done and this one was not equipped (his normall bus has them built in the seat where you can just pull out the center and viola- a car seat)! She said that it was not in his file and suggested that I just put him in a seat belt. After I controlled the urge to say all sorts of sarcastic comments I calmly mentioned that there is absolutely no possible way

he would stay in his seat and he can even get out of a 5-point-harness when he so desires. I mean, he is not quite 30 pounds (which is hard to believe- I think he is made completely of muscle because when he jumps, hits or head butts you it feels like more than 30 pounds), so it is illegal to not have him in a seat. Well, I just had to change my plans for the morning and take him to school. So what if Sadie did not get to really eat breakfast? Who cares if I had an enormous list of things to do that did not include spending 40 minutes carting Timothy to school (the school is not close)? Ahhh…the joys of being a mom! They really do need to have a book or some type of disclosures you have to sign before mommy-hood commences.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue...

Some of you may not be too impressed by what I am about to say, but being the mom of two special needs kids before #3 came along, my viewpoint is skewed. Last week I was walking around outside with Sadie (19 months old) and asked her to pick the yellow flower (thinking she would just pick one or I was going to point at the yellow flower). She proceeded to point at the yellow flower say, “Yellow” and then pick it. Coincidence? No, she then picked out the white and purple flowers. She has since replicated this new talent and I am completely impressed. I keep underestimating her and then being surprised when she does something so genius! Oh typical children…

This made me think, of course, of what we went through to teach Madeline colors. Seeing as how we spent a little while teaching her English we did not push things like colors or shapes. Why would we? Well, once she was headed to pre-school I figured it was time to really start working. You probably already know this, but Madeline has a bit of a strong-willed personality. Mix that with the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and you can get in some interesting situations. I remember time and time again I would say the colors of things and then ask her what color something was. Inevitably she would tell me every single color she knew except the actual color. I am not exaggerating! I would point to a pink flower and ask, “What color is this?” (this is after going over it) and she would say in her shaky dramatic voice, “Yellow? Green? Blue? Orange?...” Every color but pink. I laugh now, but at the time it was very frustrating. Thankfully she now knows her colors, but this trait has moved onto bigger and better things. For example, any time I ask her which direction we need to turn or tell her to tie her left shoe, etc she will say or do the opposite. I would say 90% of the time this is true. Even if she were just guessing she would have better odds (I am not taking her to Vegas- that is for sure)! Now, I am sure that there is a perfectly logical explanation for this and I should probably ask her doctor, but for now I just laugh to myself and understand that at some point she will get it- it is really not that big of a deal.

As for Sadie, I guess I need to start really working with her- who knows what she can learn? I certainly don’t.

Monday, August 9, 2010

29 days- can we make it?

Well, summer school is over and we still have 29 long days until school begins. Can we do it? Today my nanny was not able to make it to work- so much fun. I was lucky enough to have a friend help me for a few hours because I had an appointment. I did, however, get to bring all 3 kids in search of Nature Camp for Madeline. Apparently, I signed her up for one that is 25 minutes from our house. She has done nature camps in the past and the facility is only about 10 minutes away, but not this week. To make matters worse I showed up on time (crazy, I know) to the place we thought it was only to be turned away and rerouted. By the time I made it back home (9:45) I had to immediately leave for an appointment then go get her (it ended at 12:00). It is already a short camp, but the hour of driving makes it even that much more fun. I should get a lot done this week for sure!

Speaking of school, Madeline graciously gave me yet another funny story. During the few weeks of summer school the bus picked up both Madeline and Timothy. This is normal for Timothy, but not for Madeline. You see, the Special Ed bus comes right to the door- what service! Timothy gets so excited he can hardly stand it and basically runs out to the bus where I strap him into the 5-point harness that is built into some of the seats. According to the bus drivers on the way home it is considered a good day if Timothy only gets out of his seat once. She had to pull over on the highway once to get him back in. I guess they don’t fasten it tight enough despite my continuous pleas. Anyway, Madeline was happy to wait out front for the bus and even thought it was cool to be dropped off. On the first day though, Madeline came into the house and asked, “Why does my bus have seatbelts?” Goodness, how do I answer this without sounding degrading? I think I said something like, “Well, these are newer buses and they just happen to have seatbelts.” Luckily she bought it. I did not have the heart to tell her that she will now ride the Special Ed buses. Since she will be going to a new school next year that is across town she will again be on the short bus. I joke about how lucky I am to have 2 kids on the bus with the tented windows! This means that each and everyday I will have 4 buses stopping at my house! I think the neighborhood kids might come and wait by our house assuming that the bus stop has moved. I guess there are perks to having such special little ones; sometimes I just have to think outside of the bus, I mean, box.

This is an old pic, but I thought it would show what it is like to keep Timothy from running like a mad man- maybe I should do this rather than chase him like a crazy woman to the bus. I guess a little extra exercise is not a bad thing... Oh, and that is my brother Benny (I guess he did not feel like chasing Timothy anymore).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Well, I don’t mean to brag, but we actually made a trip- to Texas no less- without any drama. From start to finish everything went really well. Seriously, nothing crazy happened. There were plenty of opportunities for disaster. I mean the plane rides alone can offer drama and mishap. We had a layover each way, which was actually nice- gave Sadie a chance to run around. Madeline had the exciting opportunity to go to Dallas with two of her cousins and my mom. This was the first time she was away from me and home at the same time. I shuddered every time I thought of it and started praying for my mom about a year ago. My mom showed that she is a strong and daring woman- way to go mom! Madeline was, for the most part, well behaved and listened to my mom (a few threats were made, but that is pretty normal). While they were in Dallas Sadie and I drove to Austin to visit some of Josh’s siblings. Sadie did really well on the drive and we had a great time! I can really go on and on about what a great time we had and how much fun it was to hang out with my entire family- it is not often that we are all together at the same time. I love my family, but am happy to be back in Portland. It always helps me remember how much I love where I live. Now I just need to convince them all to move on up and start enjoying the weather and scenery. They are all convinced (except my youngest brother) that we are all a bunch of liberal hippies. While I am flattered that they think of me that way I do remind them that we live in the suburbs.

All in all I am glad the girls and I had a chance to visit the Lone Star State in all its glory. Now, I am back to mild weather and very little humidity. I laugh when people complain about the mosquitoes and told my friend that unless you get swarmed by them while on your way to and from the car you do not have a problem. Now, here is a good photo to show you where I grew up- try not to be jealous!

Monday, July 19, 2010

We have the bed!!!!!

The new bed has arrived! We can hardly believe it!!! Timothy loves the bed and we do too. It fits like a glove in Madeline and Timothy’s small room. Hey, we are going for simple, so their room definitely fits the bill. He now loves to go in the bed and we have not heard him protest at all during nap or bedtime. There is plenty of room for him to sleep and play. I put the crib mattress in the bed with him to help with the transition and he has not even ripped it up yet- well, the custom cover has probably helped with that. One big change is that the bed is twin size, so I had to figure out a way to put on a mattress protector and sheet that he would not destroy on the first day. So, Lila and I headed to Bed, Bath & Beyond where we found a mattress protector that completely covers the mattress and zips up- nice... Then we bought a twin sheet in a lovely shade of blue (we are going for the whole- calming color- thing). Since he has an insatiable desire to rip sheets off (especially fitted sheets for some reason) We had to find a way to secure the sheet. With the help of Timothy’s OT we engineered a solution that will hopefully last more than a week or two. We went to Joann’s where we bought the strongest elastic possible. Then I sewed the elastic to make a large X on the bottom. It is quite a pain to put the sheet on, but it works. Now we will wish, hope, think, pray, plan and dream that it will be the perfect solution for all of us!

Here are some fun videos to see the difference in bed’s:

As soon as he gets in he likes to sleep in that corner- he really loves the pressure it offers. The whole sensory thing is interesting.

A little note about the bed- one of my blog readers did a lot of research after reading one of my pitiful stories. She was so super super nice and found a few options she thought might work. Her top pick was this bed which we bought from . They were incredibly helpful, I would highly recommend them! Thanks Christy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I guess I am a real woman now...

I am sad to say that my excuses of pregnancy and hormonal challenges have lost their effectiveness. What am I talking about you ask? Well, I have been writing off my frequent crying as a temporary nuisance. Historically, I am not a crier. I always said that I didn’t have anything against it, but secretly I did. I thought it was a tad weak and just annoying. I even made fun of someone in high school that cried at the movie Armageddon (not nice poking fun, but pretty rude stuff- I am still ashamed) (hey, it was a Bruce Willis movie for crying out loud- she was really crying loudly). It all started when I was pregnant with Sadie (I had a brief bout while on fertility drugs, but quickly got over it- thank God). I wasn’t crying everyday or having emotional breakdowns, but the occasional tear would escape when, say, an Olympics commercial would come on or someone would die in a movie. Naturally I blamed it on the crazy hormones whelming up within me (why is that necessary to grow a baby?) and just knew that it would go away once the redhead vacated the premises. Hey, I even gave allowances for post-partumness. Sadly though, I can no longer blame it on Sadie. She is 19 months old (I can, however, blame the pooch on my stomach on her- something the other two did not cause).

What is happening now is insane! I had no idea it was this easy to cry. I am not a blubbering crazy woman or anything, but my eyes fill with water way too often. I tear up at things like stories people tell me (happy or sad), a song at church-(well, pretty much everything at church-), good news, bad news, stupid little mistakes (like, burning dinner or running out of cereal when that is all I want in the world), seeing someone pulled over or stalled on the highway... It is ridiculous!!! I can no longer claim to be an emotionless creature. How sad (I am not tearing up, I promise)… Is this how life is for others? Will I be like this forever? God help me! Maybe I should start taking some testoserone or something. Shoot, I don’t want chest hair. Maybe I am just learning to deal with life in a new way. I am most definitely more understanding of others emotions and would rather cry than yell at someone. Crying can make people feel sorry for you while yelling definitely does not.

I still do not officially say I am a crier, but my guess is that will change. What is the actual amount of crying necessary to make one a crier?

Friday, June 25, 2010

How many years are you in school?

School is out (at least for a little while)! The last week of school was a bit tough for Madeline. Change is always hard on kids and especially hard on a little lady who suffers from some intense anxiety. Consequently we do a lot of talking about what is going on which means Madeline is going to say some pretty great things. On the way to school one morning she asked why she was going to summer school. I told her that some kids need a little extra school in the summer to keep them from forgetting all that they learned over the last year. She said, “Is it to help me catch up?” I told her that was part of it. So, she said, “because I am already good at second grade- I did it twice.” Oh Madeline… Then the following morning while she was getting ready she went even farther. She said, “I know I already did second grade twice, but can I do it again?” “No” I calmly said. “Well, why did I only do first grade once?” she asked. This made me pause, how do I make this sound affirming? “Well, usually kids only do each grade once, but we thought you might need a little extra time in second grade.” “Oh” she said, “well, maybe I can do it again too.” Dear God! She needs to get out of school at some point!!!! It really is hilarious how she is trying to put this all together.

So far, two weeks into the summer things are going well. True, the first week she went to Bible camp in the mornings and played at a friend’s house all afternoon on Tues/Wed/Thur. This last week my mother-in-law, Lila, took on the task of entertaining Madeline- hey I can do this kind of summer. We will see how it goes.

This is before the first day of the second run of second grade- does that sound right?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Teacher Gifts

You know the saying, “What do you get the person who has everything?” My predicament is, “What do I get the teacher who had Madeline for 2 years?” To say that he is a saint is an understatement. This year alone has been incredibly trying and by incredibly I mean mind-boggling. Well, I have been thinking about this for a while now and finally figured it out! He had Madeline for a total of 20 months, so I got him 20 containers of alcohol! I kept joking throughout the year that she drives me to drink, etc, so I thought it was a fitting gift. I know he likes beer so I went to a super cool Beer store in Portland where I politely asked the guru to please pick out whatever is good, because I have no knowledge of this particular area. So the guy took me around the store and helped me choose (by helped I mean he did it) 18 different kinds of beer. For the other two months I decided that I should ramp it up a notch. You see, January was a rough month so I thought he deserved more than a beer for that particular portion. I found a great Russian vodka from St. Petersburg (considering Madeline is from St. Petersburg, I thought it was a tad funny). Lastly this month- since this is the end of his tenure with Madeline I gave him a bottle of Champagne. What can I say? If I can’t have a sense of humor about it all you would probably find me curled up in the fetal position in a dark alley. Well, this is not where it ends. I tied a little note to the top of each bottle saying one of the reasons he “earned” it. Here is what I came up with:

1. January 2010- enough said (this was tied to the bottle of vodka- it really was a hard month).

2. For painting Madeline’s nails to help her stop sucking on her fingers. Hey, we tried!

3. For all of the extended bathroom breaks.

4. For all of the visual schedules.

5. For all of the secret signals.

6. For trying everything- literally.

7. For all the long emails.

8. For all the bad words I know you wanted to say, but didn’t.

9. For all the calls.

10. For Madeline’s desk- I don’t know where to begin or end.

11. Transitions (this was tied to a bottle of beer with an eight ball on it- you never knew how they would go from day to day)

12. For all of the outbursts.

13. For all of the really really really sharpened pencils.

14. For all of the teacher questionnaires.

15. For all of the behavior plans.

16. For the days I forgot to give her her meds.

17. For all the times Madeline went MIA/Rogue

18. For listening intently and still not having any idea what she is talking about.

19. For all the IEP meetings.

20. June 2010! (this was tied to the bottle of champagne)

I know that these are not all self-explanatory, but you get the idea.

Online masters degree programs in education are available for those who also want to make a difference by being a great teacher.

It was a fun gift to make- I must say. I love using that 1/1000th of my brain that is actually creative and can sometimes come up with stuff like that. It is rare, but can happen. The best part was his reaction. Either he is a really good actor or he really liked it. Apparently, when his wife saw it she asked, “is this from Madeline’s parents?” If that does not tell you how much of an impact on his life she has been I don’t know what will. It was nice to actually be honest about how trying these last two years were, but to also hear how much he loves Madeline and really cares about her success is wonderful.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Can I get a little help?

Madeline is getting into some serious financial debt these days. We do the whole, "natural consequences" thing with her. For example, if she were to do something like cut up a pair of jeans or purchase a gift card for the neighbor boy who saved Timothy (a story for another time), than she either has to pay me from money she already has or earn money the hard way (by picking up pinecones in the backyard 1 pinecone = 1 penny). At this point she owes me $9- not bad considering she owed me $30 last week (that's a lot of pinecones). A new income source has presented itself to Madeline, thanks to her brother. You see, Timothy has some

sort of vendetta against Sadie. I am not sure if he is doing the whole- if a boy is mean to you it means he likes you- thing or if genuinely doesn't like her. Actually, I think it is a matter of him thinking she is his newest cause and effect toy (think of one of those annoying toys with a lot of lights, sounds and buttons). She is the best one yet because she can do that and more! The only problem with his new obsession is that Sadie is a little girl and not an annoying talking piggy bank. She can actually get hurt and it matters. Where is this going, you ask? The other day I was not able to chase after him and Josh was making dinner. Timothy decided it would be the perfect time to play with his favorite red-headed toy. So, being the resourceful person that I am, I told Madeline to be her bodyguard. She did great! She and Sadie watched a cookie monster DVD and anytime Timothy got near-Madeline would use her body to cover Sadie. It was sad and sweet all at the same time.

The bummer about this situation is that Sadie will probably be in need of these services for a long time. We have been searching and searching for "answers" and solutions for what is going on in Timothy's little brain and, yet again, we have been told that they don't really know what the future holds. We know that he is at about a 10 month-old cognitive level and his motor skills are like that of a 21 month-old (I would seriously love if that were switched). That he is severely to profoundly (who knew there were many types ranging from mild to profoundly) mentally retarded which is a pretty broad diagnosis. While this is good to know it is not helpful in the whole, "how much longer can we keep going on like this" problem. Now is the time I can/should do all of the, “we only are given what we can handle” or “take one day at a time” schpeel, but what I really want to say is this bites! Okay, that is out of the way- whew. One thing that Timothy definitely has going for him is how darn cute he is! He is so endearing that you can’t stay frustrated for long- I didn’t say you can’t be frustrated just that it is hard to stay that way. In fact this is a tad embarrassing, but I was told screaming was a good way to relieve stress. I remember thinking, “What situation could possibly arise where I would want to scream?” Well, shockingly enough one presented itself quite soon thereafter. I don’t remember what Timothy was doing, but I do remember thinking I was going to lose my mind, so I just let out a loud piercing scream. Rather than getting upset like most kids he started busting out laughing. So, this may or may not have happened again with the same response. That means I now have a fun way to get out a little stress and make Timothy laugh- what a bonus! In conclusion, does anyone know what the going rate for a bodyguard is?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Suck It Up!

I am doing this whole, trying to let my feelings out, thing. It is something I have been trying to do for a long time. You see, I prefer to keep my emotions in and ponder for a long period of time. Once I am finished pondering I seem to forget all about what was wrong anyway. Well, it turns out this whole “pondering” thing is actually called “bottling up your emotions” which is not a particularly emotionally healthy thing to do. I am just so good at it though! I am not saying that things don’t bother me, but rather, I tend to not be outwardly upset. When I do feel the need to cry it is generally at inopportune times, so I suck it up.

Last week as I was headed to the airport to pick up my parents I was quite upset about something entirely ridiculous. You see, I was having a boo-hoo-my-life moment. You have them- right? Basically, I heard some good news about a wonderful person and rather than being happy for the person I decided to think about how “bad” I have it and how “good” they have it. My emotions were having a field day and these strange drops started coming out of my eyes- it was insane! I have so many friends who say they cry all the time, I grew up with a mom and a sister who were not afraid to shed some tears, but for some reason this is not something that happens often in my world. I have no mockery of those who cry (well, I did once and that was not nice), I am actually jealous- it seems like a perfectly wonderful way to get some icky feeling out. Anyway, I was crying and feeling incredibly sorry for myself- it seemed so right and I had quite a good case for myself as to why my life was so hard. Then it happened- I was in line to get on the freeway and waiting on the side was a homeless man. Shoot! What a way to get dragged out of your pity party! I mean, maybe I should try having emotional breakdowns in the comfort and privacy of my own home. At least then I would only have to deal with little orphans. Well, crap! I can’t get a break! You see it occurred to me that I have it way better than most people in the world. The mere fact that I was born in America gives me a one-up on a large portion of the world. I have a home, a family, a car….so much more than I actually need. I have friends and those who love and care for me- how many people are alone? Before I go too far, I think you get it- right? We are incredibly blessed. This is not to say that I don’t or shouldn’t allow myself to ever feel bad, but rather I should not stay there. There is nothing but bitterness and anger in that place. What did I do- you ask? Well, I sucked it up and stopped crying. Don’t worry, more than a few tears and even a little snot had escaped before I cut it off.

Just a cute picture of Sadie- if she is not a blessing I don't know what is.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just Write it Out.

I have so many ideas about blog posts, but so little time... Madeline provides me with a plethora of material. Writing can be such a good thing for mental health. I have filled up many journals with unimportant whining/prayers (well, the prayers are important, but the whining is a bit annoying). Why do you think I write this blog? To make sure as many people as possible know as many embarrassing details of my life as possible? That is part of it, but it is more so that I can get things off my chest while trying to be funny (trying being the operative word here).

So, Madeline must be picking up on this idea. She has always liked to scribble on paper and write in books, etc. Now though, she is taking it to the next level. Not too long ago I took Madeline to school (well, I do that almost every day if I can- gives me a chance to find out what is really going on) and her teacher (a saint) asked if I had heard about “yesterday’s incident.” Surprisingly, I had not. Apparently while on a bathroom break Madeline decided to try her hand at a little graffiti. This is not surprising if you go to our church (it is held at a Portland high school) where you cannot go to the restroom without seeing a colorful (both language and hue selection) array of reading material in each stall. One problem though- while Madeline has the concept of graffiti down, she does not quite “get it.” On the door she wrote, “Do not disturb! By Madeline Pond.” I guess the whole not getting caught thing did not matter to her. Her teacher tried to make me feel better when he said that all the words were spelled correctly- sad to say, it did.

I did not have the heart to make a big deal out of it- I actually cannot even remember what I said- I think I was too amused to think of a consequence. Having the principal take you into the bathroom and watch while you clean up your mistake seems like a big enough consequence to me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

We're Back!

Well, we have been back for a week and I am still in denial! Alaska was absolutely wonderful! From start to finish we had a great time. The ship was great, the cities were fun and just being together was simply amazing. 7 days went by so fast; I didn’t even have time to miss home. I cannot overstate how nice it was and just how physically and emotionally rested I feel. We had a chance to recharge and just be together. Some of the highlights include:

  • Whales- While working out on the ship we had a panoramic view of the ocean and kept seeing fins of whales or porpoises when all of a sudden we saw a complete whale breach (I think that is what it is called when they jump out of the water) and then a few minutes later we saw a tail fin. Crazy! Who knew exercising could be so much fun!
  • Reading- I finished one book and read three more.
  • Eating- the food was incredible. One of the people at the gym said that cruisers gain an average of 7-10 pounds while on board- it is easy to see why.
  • Nothing- we could do nothing at all if we wanted. It was strange how quickly I figured out how to take advantage of that situation.
  • Excursions- while in the ports (Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria) we had a chance to go on a cool hike, dry snorkeling and zip-lining. Each was super fun in their own way. The cities themselves were really neat and it was fun just walking around.

So, there, enough of that. One of the best things about this vacation was what happened while we were away. Before you think I am going to get all mushy about missing the kiddos, don’t worry, it is not going to happen.

Josh’s parents, Paul and Lila, graciously offered (that is right- offered) to watch the kids while we were away; 7 days- enough said. By now you surely realize what an amazing gift that is- watching OUR kids for a week is not for the faint of heart. Good thing they are pros with 8 kids of their own- they just jumped right in. As Paul would say, this ain’t my first rodeo! Well, this may not have been their first rodeo, but it was more like a circus combined with a rodeo. When we left on Saturday morning they were smiling so sweetly, but you could tell there was real fear underneath it all. I guess it would have been smart to take a picture. Before we were even in Seattle we got a call that the newest crib tent was done- Timothy had finished it off. So, they frantically found one in a specialty kids store nearby (which the last few times I have needed one they were out). From then on, Paul and Lila were on a mission to help Timothy proof the house. They sent out an email to our family who are graciously helping us buy Timothy a bed (which was found online by a super-sweet reader). It is on order now and we are trusting God to help us fund the rest. They had a contractor at the house for a few days basically constructing a room within a room in our garage, which is our playroom. It is incredible! He also installed cabinet locks that Timothy cannot (shoot! should I say that?) break, built a tall gate on our deck so the kids can go out there and play without us being right there as well as a few other things. Basically, he pimped out our house! By far though, our biggest gift from them is that Lila is going to come back for 6 weeks this summer! While Josh is studying for the bar she is going to come help us with the kids. This will definitely be a huge stress relief for us and will help our home be more relaxed with more hands on deck. I was and still am completely blown away by there incredible generosity. Already our home is a safer place for Timothy, which means less anxiety for us. It is incredible! So, Paul and Lila survived with only a few minor incidences. Who cares that there was a small fire, Madeline threatened a kid with a plastic knife at school and Sadie got a little bruised up? What else is new?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We're going to Alaskuuuuh!

We are headed to Alaskuuuuuh (this is a song sung by me- very clever- you just sing it with a very deep annoying voice)! Josh’s parents are watching the kids and we are leaving for 7 days! Can you believe it! It is seriously perfect timing, that is, if you want to prevent my complete and total mental breakdown. This week I have been pondering the reasons why I am so excited about this trip, so without further adieu…

THE WATER HEATER: I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but we made our garage into a play room- complete with a therapeutic swing for Timothy, things to climb on, etc. Well in that “playroom” we have the added benefit of it holding things like lawn maintenance paraphernalia (which is oddly never used), glass recycling containers, the water heater, and such. Well, shockingly Timothy loves the water heater, especially the knob that turns it on and off. So, every time he is out there he inevitably will turn that knob. So, we continually have to keep him away from it and turn it back. However, sometimes he can get away with it without us knowing. When this happens we are blissfully unaware until we need to take a shower. You understand the rest. In Alaska, there are no Ethiopians messing with hot water heaters- I think!

DINNER: The other night I was being a good wife and mom- I cooked dinner. Nothing too crazy about that-right? Well, let’s just say a meal that should have taken me about 30 minutes to make, at the most, took 3 ½ hours. It is not like I set it down and did other things for a while, no, during this time I was chasing, holding, grabbing, blocking and basically just running ragged to make this meal. I started at 3:30pm and really only got the chicken cooked and sliced until Josh came home at 5:30pm. On the ship they will cook our food and we will have many dishes to choose from- amazing!

MADELINE SCHOOL: It will be hard to reach us while in Alaska, not impossible, but expensive when we are at sea. So, I will not be able to hear all of the exciting things Madeline does at school. For example, a week or two ago Madeline gets home and before she even gets through the door she says, “Mom, I did something really bad at school and you are going to get a call from my teacher!” “Okay, what did you do?” I said. “Ummm, I guess I went into the PE teacher’s office during PE and I guess I saw a cupcake on her desk. I thought it was for me, so I ate it .” (when she said “ate” she really meant that she licked the icing off and put it back on the dest) “Really? You thought it was for you? “ I said. “No, I guess not” was her response. So, what did I do? Rather than listening to my inner voice telling me to yell and give a long drawn out speech, I instead told her that she was going to write an apology note and when I find out what kind of cupcake she ate she was going to use her money and buy more. Well, it was a red velvet cupcake, so I ordered some nice large cupcakes that cost $4 each. Madeline purchased 4 of them and we brought them to school and personally delivered them to the PE teacher. You see, I do not have to do these things for 7 days!!!

ARGUING: Josh and I are not big arguers, at least not with each other. Madeline, on the other hand, loves to argue. It is an art form she has perfected over years of practice. The other day I was reading a Dr. Seuss book to her and she started arguing with the book- apparently ham is not green. I really just don’t know how to handle things like this. On a regular basis Josh and I will be talking and Madeline will inject a question, “Why would they do that?” I ask her if she has any idea what we are talking about and she says, “No.” “So, why are you asking questions?” I ask. “I don’t know, I just wanted to know why.” What am I supposed to say?

CHILD-PROOFING: I know that you have heard all of my ludicrous stories of child-proofing, but I just could not leave this out. We can open up any door we want and leave it open. We can leave things out without fear of destruction. We can even walk around without tripping on random toys, books, cups, furniture… I honestly cannot even picture it all. I guarantee that I will randomly go move something out of reach or just feel like I need to find a place to hide my purse. There will be no bed in our room that is covered with a tent or with zip-ties holding it all together- we will not need to be kept in bed- we can stay for as long or as little as we want.

POOTY-PANTS AND POTTY MOUTHS: This one is pretty self-explanatory- Sadie will not be teething on the boat, I will not need to change crazy disgusting-air-out-the-house diapers, and I will not get called about inappropriate word knowledge from the principal (see last post). I can say whatever the heck I want to say (replace heck with whatever word you would like)!

WE ARE GOING TO ALASKA!!!: Who really needs a reason to be excited about going to Alaska or anywhere for that matter? Josh and I are simply floored at this amazing trip and our wonderful care-giving family. We can leave knowing that our children are in perfect hands, have fun and just bask at the amazing earth God has created. Right now, we are in a coffee shop eating lunch before we get on the ship. We just got off the train from Portland to Seattle where we saw a bald eagle, mountains, and really incredible beauty and the trip has not even started. I can feel the tightness in my chest easing, my brain relaxing and a smile on my face that does not seem to want to go away. Josh and I most definitely need a break and are going to get one. I will let you know how it goes…

Friday, May 7, 2010

What tha....?

I have been rounding up some fun Madeline stories for a blog post when today she presented me with one that can stand on its own. Here we go....

Yesterday I came home from work and as soon as I walked in Madeline said, "Mom, I did something really bad at school today and Dee Dee (the bus driver) is going to tell the principal. You are going to get a call!" If this was the first time these words had come out of her mouth I may have freaked out or my blood pressure may have even risen a little, but no, I stayed calm. I asked why and she proceeded to tell me a strange tale of lunch table conversations mixed with riding the bus home and even threw in a little writing on trees just for the fun of it. Apparently she said a bad word- the f-word. I asked her what the f-word is and she could not tell me (shock). So, I said that I would talk to her teacher about it the next day or when I got a call from the principal we would work out what happened.

This morning I walked her to school (with my posse) and I had a chance to talk to her aide (Madeline has her own teacher's assistant who is awesome) and her teacher. According to them Madeline said the bad word at lunch. Her aide talked to her, calmed everyone down and thought it was finished. Then there was recess and Madeline got all worked up and came in to the classroom in tears "devastated" by her bad behavior. They calmed everyone down even though Madeline kept trying to make a big deal out of it. She kept reminding her classmates what she had done (so helpful). Then it came time to get on the bus. In the bus line Madeline decided it was time to yell the word at the top of her lungs. Nice... So, as I was talking to her teachers about the situation in the lunch room the vice-principal comes and chats with me about the bus yelling incident. Very appropriately, I told him that I guess I should stop yelling that word all day at home. Where does Madeline get her sassiness?

Now we are to this afternoon. I see Madeline walking up the sidewalk talking with a neighbor who is looking at Madeline with a mixture of amusement and shock. I come outside and start talking to Madeline when she starts yelling, "MOM, THE WHOLE SCHOOL KNOWS WHAT I SAID YESTERDAY, I SAID F-U-*-*!" Oh yes, she spelled the word loudly in our front yard! This is a child who has passed maybe two spelling tests ever, yet she seems quite knowledgeable about this particular spelling word. Well, I did what every other mom would do and quietly yell, "get inside, what are you thinking?" Once inside I say, "Madeline what is going on? Is this still about yesterday? Okay, is **** the word you said?" "Yes" Madeline said. So, I proceeded to calmly say the f-word about 10 times. "That is the word-right?" I said. Madeline just looked at me like I was crazy. "Well, there, I said it. Why is it such a big deal? It is just a word, people say. We do not say it at our house and we do not think it is appropriate, but it is just a word. So, stop it."

I will let you know how it goes, but she seemed so shocked by my outburst that it has not come up again. I honestly think she was trying to get attention and this was working quite well at school. Her awesome teacher handled it well, but he was vastly outnumbered by little people. The principal told me it is quite an issue right now with the older kids, so I felt oddly proud that Madeline was having a "normal" issue. Am I sick?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pond Vision International

Well, today we got some bad news- Josh did not pass the bar. When it happened the first time we were devastated, but this time we are just plainly in shock. Our hope, of course, is that there is some mistake. My sister has a theory- he made such a high score that they are re-grading to make sure he did not cheat. I like the sound of that. Seriously though, I feel like now is a good time to announce our next endeavor. I have been waiting for the right time, and it has finally come. Starting on May 1st we are officially kicking off Pond Vision International ™- think World Vision and our family is the World. Just like in World Vision you have a chance to sponsor a child! For just pennies a day you can change the life of a little Ethiopian forever. For less than a cup of coffee a day you can make a Russian girl have a real chance for success in life. Each month we will send pictures, updates and even drawings from the child you sponsor. Don’t wait- make the call today and be a hero forever.

Here are the levels of Monthly Giving and Benefits:

$1-$49- FRIEND- Your name will appear on our website as one who gives, but is a tad cheap. This thoughtful donation can be used towards diapers and goldfish crackers for the month.

$50-$149- PATRON- Your name will also appear on our website with a small picture. This donation can pay for one child’s medication per month- sanity in a bottle.

$150- $499- PACESETTER- With this level of generosity you will have a large picture on our website bragging about how wonderful you are, we will mail you an 8x10 portrait of our family, and you will most likely go to heaven. This donation will help pay for a few therapy sessions each month!

$500- $999- ANGEL- As an example of kindness and love you will have a link on our website with a biography stating just how wonderful you are. We will mail you an 11x17 portrait of our family; you will definitely go to heaven and will probably even sit pretty close to St. Peter. At this level of donation you will be able to help us buy things like, therapeutic swings, weighted blankets, headphones for therapeutic listing and more!

$1000- $4999- CHAMPION- Seriously, need I say all of the wonderful things that will surely happen in your life? Heaven is an absolute, there will definitely be a mansion waiting, and you will have lots of money and friends on earth. At this level you will change a child’s life forever! We would be able to buy specialized beds, completely child-proof our home and even pay for around-the-clock care for a special little fellow.

$5000 +- HERO- Enough said. You would not only be our hero, but everyone else’s. There will be books and legends all about how much you truly care and support needy children all over Beaverton! We would be able to take our little ones to places like, Paris, Italy, Switzerland and more! Hey, we could even build a house on a lake for our family!

Baked Goods- DEALER- If money is not plentiful do not fret- there are other ways to make a difference. Sugar and chocolate- enough said. Now, this is not really for the children, but more of a coping mechanism for the parents. The only thing I can say as far as benefits are concerned is that you can also make baked good for yourself at the same time. That way we will all be fat and happy!

So, mail your donations today to: Pond Vision International, PO Box Care, Beaverton, OR 77777 (God’s favorite number).

As hard as this is for me to say, I truly believe that God has a plan in all this and we are just waiting to see what it is. Josh and I are planning to take a step back and figure out what to do next and where we are supposed to be. Is God leading us in a different direction or are we learning what dependence on God really looks like? Through it all, I am so thankful for my husband and family- I love my life and would not change anything about it (well, except for the whole passing the bar thing).