I push because I love you

My third son Joshua is 22 months old. He was adopted at 8 days old. We met him in the hospital, he had been born premature at 29 weeks. He also has a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis. All those factors added up mean he has some developmental delays. We realized that he wasn’t hitting his developmental milestones about a year ago this time. He was 10 months, and not yet sitting up. We called in the specialists and they started Physical Therapy with him. He has done very well with it and recently graduated from PT. From one year ago, when he wasn’t even sitting up, he is now running and climbing and doing all the things an almost 2-year-old does. He just needed a little push. This past summer we realized that he had some sensory issues, he doesn’t like loud noises and certain textures. We started Occupational therapy and in 6 months he has made so much progress. He just needed a little push.

Now, at 22 months he is not talking. He says two words “more” and “doggie”. We have started Speech therapy in the last month and today we went to have his hearing checked. Although they didn’t get to complete the test, since I had both Joshy and Elijah with me and they started freaking out together, the preliminary findings are that he can hear. So, why isn’t he talking? I don’t really know, but my guess is that he just needs a little push.

Joshua is the type of kid that would be happy to just do the same thing everyday and never change. He is not intrinsically motivated to grow and do new things. He is a “whatever” kind of kid. Fortunately for him, he has a mommy who will not let him get away with “whatever”. I have realized that he needs to be pushed to grow and do better. God realized this too and that’s one of the many reasons He gave Joshua a little brother who is 11 months behind him and very motivated to do more stuff. Joshua is content to let me feed him baby food, in fact, he will bring me containers of Elijah’s baby food to feed him. Elijah on the other hand, will not tolerate being fed and will grab the spoon from your hand and feed himself. That is just who he is. He is a great motivator for Joshua. God does not make mistakes, and even situations that seem crazy, like having two kids 11 months apart, God knows what He is doing.

So, I just want to publically apologize to Joshua for what is about to occur in his life. Now that I know he can hear, it’s time for some mommy pushing. He is going to hate me for this, but he will be better for it. I push because, if I don’t, who else will? I push because I know there are things he can do better, he just needs to try. I push because the world may look at him and say, ‘oh, he has special needs, that is all he can do’, I do not believe that, I know better. He can do more, he just needs to be pushed. I push because I was once a baby born into substance abuse and had challenges with learning disabilities, but my mother gave me a home and pushed me because she knew that while the world may have seen me as just a crack baby, there was more there if she just pushed me to be everything I could be. Never underestimate meager beginnings, it’s what you do with the in-betweens that matters in the end.

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Coveting and Stealing

Recently, there has been a lot of coveting and stealing going on in our house. Shocked?!

No, it’s not from the adults, or even the older children in the house. It’s the toddlers! That’s what they are best at. They want whatever the other one has, and they are ruthless about stealing from each other. It’s amazing how selfish toddlers can be. They do not care about anyone else’s feelings or wants, just about themselves. I am trying diligently to keep the stealing to a minimum, but I can’t do much about the coveting. I guess it’s just human nature to want what someone else has. And if I am honest, I want what others have, at times. There is a house for sale down the street from us, it is much larger and no doubt has one more bathroom and bedroom than we do. I want that house! I am dealing with myself about contentment with the house we have and how blessed we are. But it’s a struggle sometimes.

My older boys struggle with coveting. They always want whatever latest new thing that their friends have. And then we have to have a chat about whether they “need” these things or not, and what excess is. Our culture leads you to believe you need a lot of things, but you really don’t. It can lead you down the road of discontentment.

We are all sinners in our hearts. We are born selfish and sinful. We have to submit to God to change our hearts and make us more like Him. When the babies start coveting and stealing I have to inflict punishment on them to get them to change. Hopefully, I am past that point with my coveting. Hopefully, I can change myself and practice some self-control. Man it’s hard to be an adult sometimes. It sure would be easier to just do what I want all the time, but then I would miss out on what God has for me. Those things I covet are nothing compared to the blessings He has in store for me.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”[a]

1 Corinthians 2:9

I just need to practice a little patience to wait on God’s perfect timing!

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Peanut butter, leaf or slug (Episode II)

[This post is a continuation of a previous post – “Episode I” of the same title. Please see former post to fully appreciate the contents below.]

Over the last eight years, I have learned that you can never expect the sorts of questions or decisions you may be faced with as a parent. For example, determining how much spit-up is acceptable on a dress shirt is a process that I would not have formerly considered a reasonable course of action, electing instead to wear 100% vomit-free apparel. But life changes you.

So back to the “thing” on the dining room floor. I can tell you with certainty that I cleaned it up. The funny thing is that I don’t remember what it was. But I remember the questions coming up in my mind of “What is it?”. And isn’t that typical to parenting? You find yourself faced with a variety of unexpected (and sometimes unpleasant) situations, but in the end, your momentary discomfort and inconvenience pales in comparison to your God-given role of nurturing and protecting your babies. Parenting isn’t about me, insomuch as the things that I feel I need and want (such as non-slimy fingers). It is about my ability to look beyond myself and see the bigger picture.

Peanut butter, leaf or slug (Episode I)

(A guest post by my husband Glenn)

Over the recent holidays, I had the opportunity to spend almost two weeks with my family at home. I was able to observe and participate in things that normally go on without my awareness. For example, during the work week, I would say that I don’t always appreciate how much effort my wife puts into keeping the house tidy and neat. And with small ones scooting around the floors like drooling robotic vacuum cleaners, keeping the floors clean is very important. So over the break, I was able to see first-hand how much attention is required to maintain suitable conditions for the babies.

One evening, after the children had all been herded into their respective berths, I was walking through the dark dining room into the kitchen. I noticed something on the floor. This item was larger than most floor debris, requiring that I go through the mental process of determining if I must indeed lean over, pick up said item, and relocate it to the nearest trash receptacle. After reflection and pondering, I determined that this would indeed be necessary. So much for a restful evening.

However, as is often the case, one question leads to another: what is this random item that is delaying my planned rendezvous with the sofa and remote? The most likely objects come to mind, those being 1) peanut butter, 2) a narrow leaf, or 3) a slug. While a leaf is the most desirable of the three possibilities, I must prepare myself for the likelihood that this flotsam in the sea of my dining room floor will be somewhat revolting to scrape off of the floor. Especially if it is moving within my fingers.

To be continued…

Worth every minute

Our two youngest boys, Joshua and Elijah, are 21 months and 10 months respectively. To say the least, that age spacing can be a bit of a challenge at times. There are moments in every day when I wonder what I have gotten myself into. We affectionately call them the “furbies”, which for those of you who don’t know, those are toys from the 90’s that “talk” to one another with little non-sense words. The babies tend to “talk” to one another. When one laughs the other laughs and when one cries the other does too. It makes for some loud moments. They also share everything. Toys, food and germs. Going to the store is a challenge. I have to either, wear one kid and put the other in the cart while the two big boys walk, or find a cart that you can put two kids in. Or if I am really lucky, a cart that fits three! Gotta love Target! Having these two youngest 11 months apart has been an experience and up until recently, not one I would like to repeat. But over the past few weeks, I have been watching the two of them start to play together.

Now that Elijah can crawl, he follows Joshua around everywhere. They play with the same toys and laugh together. The best thing they do is play “hide and seek” together. One will “hide” around the corner in our hallway and the other will go “find” his brother and they just laugh. It’s awesome to watch! They are going to be the best of friends. I can now say that all the hardship of having two little guys 11 months apart is totally worth every minute!

Leaving

This week my son’s good friend who lives across the street from us moved away. They didn’t move that far, but still they are not right across the street anymore. It was sad for my son and his friend. They have played together almost every day for the past year and a half or so. It’s hard to watch your son go through something that hurts him. But it’s apart of life and it’s not something I can shield him from.

Before we had kids I used to watch King of Queens a lot. It’s a really funny show, although I didn’t realize that there was so much inappropriate language and stuff in it until I had kids. Anyway, there was this one show were the main character, who is in his thirties, goes home for the holidays with his wife. They see his dog while they are visiting his parents. The wife asks how old the dog is and they say that the dog has been around since the guy was a kid??! Finally, the main character realizes that his original dog died years ago but his parents kept buying new dogs so that he wouldn’t realize that his beloved dog had died. It’s a silly example of trying to shield your kids from pain.

Hopefully none of us would do that in real life, but we do, in small ways. What I have discovered in my life is that pain happens. It’s good to show your children how best to deal with pain, than to pretend that it doesn’t happen. When we had our miscarriages a few years ago we let our children see us cry. We didn’t let them see the angry grief that we had, but we did let them see some tears. We showed them that we were hurting and that it was okay to cry and show your hurt. But then, we stopped crying, and told them that everything was going to be okay because we had God in our lives and He would see us through. I think this helped my son deal with other losses he has had since then, like his good friend moving away.

There are comings and goings in life. You cannot stop it. If we never knew what pain was, we could not fully experience joy. Loss, although painful, is good for us, it makes us appreciate what we have and what we will yet have.

What?

My 5-year-old loves to ask “what?”, all the time. It drives me crazy! I know he hears me when I tell him something, but he says, “what?” anyway. So, now I have started telling him that I will not repeat myself more than once. Why does he not listen to me the first time, does he just want to hear my voice or something? I think it might be that he doesn’t like what I said. It’s not the answer he wanted.

I am like that sometimes. I don’t like the answers I get from God. Over the past few weeks I have been praying about a situation in my life. God told me the other day to call a certain person about the situation. I didn’t want to because I was pretty sure that what this person had to say was not the answer I was looking for. So, I prayed one of those prayers where I try to do what God wants me to do but also get my way too. I told God if He really wanted me to call this person then to have Glenn tell me to do it. I knew this was very unlikely to happen since Glenn never talks about this situation. So, I knew it was very unlikely he would ever tell me to call this person.  I went about my business for a week, thinking I had gotten away with something. That something being not doing what God wanted me to do. So, night before last we were going to bed and Glenn said out of the blue, “are you going to call this person about this situation?” I said, “what?”. So, he repeated what he had said. Then I said, “who?”. He repeated what person he had mentioned. I knew full well what he had said I just was in shock that my great little plan hadn’t worked. I told Glenn I didn’t think it was the right time to call that person and he said “okay, whatever, I am not really sure why I said that anyway.” I, of course, knew I HAD to call that person now. God wasn’t going to be quiet about it. So, I emailed that person the next day. The person has yet to email me back, but that doesn’t really matter. I was finally obedient to what God said to do, whatever the outcome may be.

I have a feeling I know exactly why my son says, “what?” all the time. It has nothing to do with a hearing problem, it’s a listening problem. I have it too!

 

A day in the life

It’s been a crazy day already so, I decided I would share it. It starts at about 6am this morning when Glenn, Samuel and Jordan are up for school. They are not the quietest people in the world so I am usually woken up in the process of them getting ready. This morning they were banging around and fussing with each other, so I knew it was going to be one of those mornings. Then around 6:45am, much to my dismay, Joshua started fussing. He usually sleeps till 8, so this was much too early. I let him fuss for a while, but he was just getting more upset so I went and got him up. He has been cranky since last week when we drug him around to four family events in four days. I often wonder why we do that sort of thing to ourselves knowing it will produce an irate toddler for the next week, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

I got Joshua up and put him in his high chair for breakfast. Samuel and Glenn are headed out the door for school and Jordan is on the couch fussing for food. It is at this point in the mornings that I wish I were one of those “morning people” who gets up ready for the day and cheerful, but I have to confess that isn’t the case. My husband often jokes that he can’t talk to me before 9am otherwise he will just get grunting. It’s true, I have to admit. I really just want peace and quiet in the morning and a cup of tea, but that isn’t usually what I get. I wish I was one of those moms who gets up early and makes their kids a good breakfast and stuff, but again, that just isn’t the case. Breakfast around here usually consists of cereal, or lately peanut butter sandwiches, hey at least its protien. So, I fix “breakfast” for Joshua and Jordan and sit down with my tea when the baby wakes up. I let him fuss for a bit, and finish my tea. Then I get Joshua down from his high chair and put him in his room with the baby gate up. He HATES this. But I tell him this would not be the case if he didn’t get up so early, but now mommy has to shower and he has to stay in his room. I get the baby in the bouncy chair, and set him up in the bathroom so I can shower. I get into the shower and pretend for a moment that I don’t have any kids, until the 5-year-old comes in to pee. (Really? can’t you use the other bathroom? no, of course not, mommy can’t have five minutes by herself can she?) Anyway, I finish my shower and realize that Joshua has been playing his usual game of throw everything in my room over the baby gate into the hallway. I imagine the mess I will have to clean up. I get dressed and come out of the bathroom to inspect said mess. I look down and see the coat rack that used to be on his wall is now in the floor in the hallway. It’s a piece of wood with four coat hooks on it that was screwed to the wall in this room. He usually takes the coats off and throws them. Not a big deal, but now he has managed to get the coat rack down. I have no idea how he did this with two-inch screws holding this thing to the wall, but that is not my immediate concern. What I am frantically searching for are the screws. I find one but I cannot find the other. I am imagining all sorts of horrible things he could have done with it and wondering if I will ever find it. Then I look at him and realize that his mouth is shut, not normal for him. I look in his mouth and wallah, the two-inch screw. Fortunately he was fine.

After I get over my panic, I start cleaning up his room and take the baby gate down for him to walk around. I walk down the hall and realize that an outlet cover in the hallway is missing. This has been an epidemic in our house over the past few days ever since Glenn vacuumed the other day. I was very thankful that he vacuumed so I didn’t fuss at him for leaving the outlet cover off, I just replaced it and moved on. (see my halo?) So, today when it was missing, I knew it had been there and no one had taken it out to vacuum. Then I look at Joshua and realize he has an outlet cover in his mouth. I fuss at him really good and try to find another outlet cover that he cannot remove. I am now thinking this kid has a death wish or something.

All that happened before 9am. Since then, for the past hour and a half, I have called the insurance company to fight with them about paying for some bills for Joshua, and called various medical providers to get them to resubmit bills to the insurance company and not charge me for them. Then I have tried to get Elijah to take a nap. He is teething and has a cold, bad combo. He finally went to sleep and then Joshua got fussy so I put him down for a nap and Elijah just woke up. It’s like juggling babies sometimes around here. lol.

That’s my day so far. Crazy, I know. There is definitely never a dull moment around here. I hate to be bored and I kind of thrive on crazy, obviously. People ask me all the time “how do you do it?’. I usually say “one minute at a time”. And that is true, but honestly, you just get used to crazy and that becomes your new normal. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Parenting Pride

(written on Tuesday)

I just got back from the pediatrician’s office, yet again. We had to make sure Jordan’s pneumonia was getting better and it is, thank goodness. I had to take all four boys today since Samuel got out of school early for the holiday. It’s funny how adding one kid can really make things so much worse. Samuel and Jordan had the sillys today. Samuel had a party at school today and apparently they loaded the kid up with sugar or something because he was off the chain. (See I am hip, I can use the latest lingo correctly. lol) Anyway, it was so bad that the doctor actually sent Samuel out of the room because he was giggling so much he couldn’t hear Jordan’s lungs well. That, I have to admit, was one of my lowest parenting moments. It is totally embarrassing to me for someone else, especially a doctor, to have to discipline my kids. Horrible!

After the doctor left the room, and I proceeded to take away everything dear to my children as a form of punishment for acting like fools, I realized that they really were just being excited boys. They weren’t being bad, just silly. They are excited about the holiday and whatnot. It does not excuse bad behavior, but I realized I was more concerned with the fact that they had embarrassed me rather than their bad behavior. The doctor came back in the room and was smiling at me telling me to send them outside to “run it off” when they get home. He has children, he knows how little boys are.

So many times, I realize that I try to get my kids to behave well so as to not embarrass me in public. This isn’t really a good motive behind parenting. Anyone can “train” a kid to act correctly in public, but it’s what is in the heart that matters. The kids can behave well on the outside but if their hearts are harbouring bad attitudes, what good am I really doing them? I have to look beyond right now and realize that my kids’ actions are not necessarily the important thing, it’s their attitude and hearts. Kids are going to act badly at times and this will not be the last time they embarrass me. I am sure. But I have to look deeper and change the attitude behind the action and then the action will take care of itself. The attitude behind their action today was not bad, it was just silly. That is not to say that they have good attitudes all the time, in fact on the way home they got in trouble for their attitudes. I just need to realize that my children have free will and are therefore going to mess up sometimes. Up until now, I have to say they have been pretty well behaved in public and maybe I was getting a little too prideful in that. God always has a way of making you see you are not above everyone else. 🙂 But it’s not the actions that matter, it’s the heart that matters.

Pediatrician

I decided that my recent visit to the pediatrician’s office was the worst I have had yet and deserved to be chronicled in this blog. I went to the doctor because my five-year old has had a cold for the past three weeks and then spiked a fever of 103. I had that mommy radar thing going off telling me there was something wrong. I have learned, in the past 8 years of parenting, to listen to that. I am usually right. All four kids have had colds over the past few weeks. The baby had RSV and then on Monday I took the 19 month old in for green snot, sorry TMI, and he has an ear infections. Sometimes I think I should just live at the doctor’s office. lol.

So, I called and made an appointment and the only thing they had was for 10:45am. Those of you with young kids know that is a horrible time. Too close to lunch time and nap time. Not to mention it’s late enough in the day for the office to be packed and busy. Jordan, the five-year old, was feeling really, really bad. He was running a 102 temp even on Tylenol. He really wanted me to carry him everywhere and just looked pitiful. I am busily trying to get everyone ready to go and then it starts raining. Wonderful! (hear the sarcasm?). So, I get everyone carried to the car, it took no less than four trips! We get stuck in traffic and then behind the slowest old lady I have ever seen. Meanwhile Jordan is looking worse by the second and I am half way wondering if I should be heading to the ER instead.

We get to the doctor and I finally get everyone loaded into the double stroller and poor Jordan is limping along. I get everyone in to the doctor’s office and there are four people in the waiting room. This is a problem. That may not seem like a lot of people to most of you, but what I know is that there are only three doctor’s working and therefore that suggests that some, if not all, of them are running behind. We get called back to the room in a pretty short time, I was feeling a bit optimistic about it all. There is something I have never understood about pediatrician’s offices. All the toys are in the waiting room, but you spend most of your time in the cramped little exam room, with no toys. Why? Can I just hang out in the waiting room, or can you just bring some of those toys back to the exam room? Do they know how hard it is to be stuck in those tiny rooms with three restless kids for 30 minutes or more? And then there is the ever pressing question of whether or not to let your kids play with those toys that all the other sick kids have played with. I usually bring my own toys, if I remember it.

Back to the exam room. I tried, in vain, to keep the babies in the stroller. It was taking forever so I decided, rather than listen to them scream, to let them out. So, Joshua, the 19 month old is toddling around and I was holding Elijah. Jordan is looking terrible sitting in the chair by himself. Lots of mommy guilt going around that I can’t really tend to him while keeping up with the other two. But I digress. So, Joshua promptly falls and busts his lip. There is blood everywhere. I put the baby down in the stroller and, he is screaming, pick up Joshua and try to get the bleeding stopped. I am thinking, what kind of terrible parent let’s their kid get hurt in the doctor’s office? lol

I got Joshy fixed up and put him back in the stroller just in time for the doctor to come in. He examines Jordan and tells me he has pneumonia and ear infections. Of course, that is not what you want to hear. I have never had a kid with pneumonia before and it just strikes fear in my heart, I will admit. I am thinking at that point that nothing would make this day any better than for one of these kids to barf on me and Jordan looks like he just might. We leave the doctor with a hand full of prescriptions and make it safely back home. I called my mom to come over for reinforcements. More for me than the kids, I will admit.

This morning, Jordan is doing better, no fever. Kids are so resilient, it’s amazing. I know you are most likely waiting for some kind of spiritual connection here, but to be honest, I just don’t have it in me. I just wanted to recount my interesting day.