I invite everyone to hop on over and check out my new blog. The new blog http://paradiselostinturbinewind.blogspot.com will exclusively deal with the impending wind turbines and the effect they will have upon our way of life.
Physical therapy was brutal last Wednesday. Since my leg felt tight, which means it is scarring down as expected, they had me side stepping over cones. Just so you know, it's the sideways motion that puts all the stress on the MCL and side stepping was definitely physically painful, but even more so, it was mentally painful.
I've been experiencing some pain in my knee around the medial line, or joint between the tibia and femur. The therapist thinks it's most likely cartilage scarring that I am feeling and not my damaged meniscus. All I know is that I actually did work through the pain of it at therapy and was able to push ahead and complete all the exercises.
I left therapy, donning a pair of jeans and strapping on my leg brace, Marc and I ventured into Walmart. Never in my life did I think I would celebrate walking into Walmart. For me, yesterday was a physical and mental achievement. It's been 7 and a half weeks since I wrecked my knee and I have reached my goal of going shopping in a store by Christmas.
To prove to myself that Wednesday's achievement wasn't a fluke, I headed into town with 3 of the 4 kids today. I drove as it had snowed about 2 inches and the roads were a smidge icy, otherwise I would have let Madison drive. Anyhow, I managed to get out of the car and into the store on the icy, snowy pavement without falling and commenced with shopping. I felt like Sheena, Queen of the Jungle after conquering this battle.
You know, I still walk with a pronounced limp and a gimpy kind of gait, but I'm grateful for being able to ease some of the load from Marc. He's been a Super Trooper these last 7 weeks. Not only has he taken almost everyday off these last 49 days, but he's picked up all of the household duties. Today when he called from work to see how things were going, he said that his work day is MUCH easier than my days and he isn't nearly as wiped out as he was doing my chores at home. It's good to know that he now has a full appreciation for everything I do here to keep us living life as picture perfect as a Home and Garden magazine. Sheesh, about time he lived my chaotic days!
I sure hope Marc picks something up for dinner on his way home. I'm whipped from shopping! I love being back to 'almost' normal!
Well, hobbled into a store today and pushed a shopping cart. One milestone down a gazillion more to go. I can now walk about 50 steps without using a crutch at all. It's not pretty, but I.CAN.DO.IT!
I tend to move very slowly and must consciously think about the mechanics of walking with the right leg, all the while holding my right arm out at my side in some freakish wing-like display. BUT. I. CAN. DO. IT!
I might get to Wally World tomorrow, but today I ventured into Tractor Supply. It was a small enough store for me to make it across the parking lot and the store is small enough to maneuver, so although it wasn't the store of my choosing, I've still done it.
Just had to share that at 6 and a half weeks, I am putting 100% weight on my injured knee/leg. YES!!! And for any cradle Catholics that may follow this blog, I have something to share soon regarding novena's and saints!! What can I say? I'm a practicing Lutheran with a devout belief in asking for the intercession of saints. HUGE believer!
When I started this blog in 2008, I originally intended to vent about the frustrations involved with our adoption of the two little boys from Haiti. It was my sounding board to express my grief, frustration and ultimate joy in the adoption process. It served as a venue to meet new friends and to commiserate with people who were stuck in the same boat.
Over time, it has morphed into a blog about the oddities in my life. I've addressed issues dealing with raising four black kids in rural 'white' North Dakota. I've belly-ached and celebrated the joys of home educating the kids. I've shared all the weirdness that is MY life.
The last 6 weeks I've done nothing but complain about my MCL knee injury. Not that I'm counting, but it's been exactly 6 weeks today. The first 4 weeks were relatively easy, physically and mentally. All I did was sit around on the couch with my leg locked in the straight position and was not allowed any weight bearing. Week 4 they began to allow me to use my leg and put about 50% of my weight on the leg. Last week they knocked me down to one crutch and almost 100% weight. It took me until Saturday or Sunday to really begin walking on using a normal gait and to make an effort to not lean on the one crutch. I went to today's therapy with trepidation.
I knew the expectation was to be sufficiently strong enough to throw away the remaining crutch and walk unaided. What a load of horse poop! While I am happy my MCL seems to be scarring and tightening up nicely, per the PT, I had to emphatically stress that I know my limitations and my knee is not strong enough to stand on alone. I demonstrated how I'm having to physically force my leg into a straight position when standing as it has a tendency to flex forward. That is now causing pain in my hamstrings. Oh friggin' joy! Nonetheless, we forged ahead and did some 'Old lady' exercises in the hallway which provided some entertainment for the old farts in the therapy center. At one point the PT assistant had me standing facing the wall in the hallway taking itty-bitty side steps which hurt like a totally dirty MOFO! Then to complete the humiliation she had me use my one crutch, lift my right leg up to my waist and then place it down in front and then hold my left leg up like a flippin' stork. I think it was about right now, that I may have shouted the f-bomb as I felt my leg burn like hell and feel really weak.
I'm not sure if the old farts around me heard my expletive or not as they were in various states of their own personal torture, but screaming that word, did seem to impart that I was adamant about my knee's limitation. My personal torture session ended fairly quickly and I left with instructions to continue exercises on my quads and to 'wean myself off my crutch.' Oh yeah, right! I might as well just spend the day walking like Igor in Young Frankenstein.
So my goal now for next week is to be able to walk without a crutch at all. Quite honestly, that scares the hell out of me. I guess I'll feel more confident and comfortable doing that as I stretch my abilities and find success in some accomplishments.
I never intended this blog to be all about me....well, at least not all about me with an injury....but this is the state of my life right now. So as my life has evolved, changed and tossed me unexpected challenges, I guess I'll continue to share the unusual happenings of my world. Now, if I can just get back to normal chaos someday soon, I'll be extremely happy....most of the time.
In my continuing theme of lamenting about my knee injury, I will one again bore the two people who still read my blog and complain and moan about the healing process. I've learned a lot about myself during this injury and healing process, mostly that I am not patient at all.
I returned to the physical therapist on Tuesday and was pleased to learn that my injured knee is continuing to heal and is scarring down and tightening up. This is all good news, but the flip side of the good news is that I must push ahead and step outside (no pun intended) of my comfort zone with my knee. I was told to use only one crutch and begin to bear almost full weight on my right leg. This is scary stuff. Five weeks ago when I injured it, I couldn't stand with any weight on my leg without my femur flopping to the inside of my knee by about 7 cm. Wickedly gross stuff.
Now I'm supposed to stand and 'trust' my knee to support me. I get pins and needle like shooting pains through the MCL portion of my knee that remind me it still isn't like it used to be. I've been told that it will take a full year for the scar tissue to mature and for the knee to be as stable as it once was. While my physical healing is progressing, my psychological healing is taking longer. Every time I take a step now, I am acutely aware of where I place my foot, and what it feels capable of bearing. I must be super careful about not twisting or rotating on my right foot as that will cause the knee to twist too.
OK, let me just cut to the damn chase and say it. I'm friggin' scared as hell to begin using the leg again as I worry that I'll injury it again. I know the pain it caused and I really don't want to have to feel that again......EVER! See, mentally I'm a basket case. Even though I'm a nervous wreck, I am pushing myself to do just as the PT told me to do. Next Tuesday I return to the PT and if it's continuing to heal as expected, they take my crutches away and will ask me to stand like a stork, bearing all my weight on the bad knee. OH MY GOD, this scares me.
How do I get beyond the fear of re injuring my knee again? I am so impatient to get back to my normal full-steam-ahead pace of life, that my mental fears hold me back. I can't trust my knee yet and still I dream about the day I can drive to the grocery store and push my overly-burdened cart thru the store with great vengeance.
Pathetic! My great motivating dream is to push a cart thru the damn grocery store. Holy Toledo, I need a life!
I went to my weekly physical therapy appointment last Tuesday and left in great disappointment. Mr. Studdly, AKA Mr. PT informed me that my knee is still healing and is not tight in full straight leg extension. At 30 degrees of flexion it feels as tight as my left knee but since it's still loosy-goosy in the straight position, he won't allow me to wear my leg brace unlocked or to bear any weight yet. POOP!
I have some more involved exercises to do to strengthen my knee, but they hurt like hell. Now I actually don't know what hell feels like, but I can now describe it as a burning ache that radiates to the deepest recesses of my knee. Sometimes when I am trying to bend my knee it feels like someone tied knots in my ligament and as it stretches the knots get pulled over each other. Yeah, not a cool feeling especially after having seen my ligament on the MRI and seeing how it looked like shredded chicken meat.
I go back to the physical therapist on Monday morning and then I see the ortho. I am hoping like heck that my knee has tigthened up enough that they will allow me to start wearing my brace in the unlocked/flexed position and will let me start putting weight on the leg. I know the ortho told me that by 6-8 weeks my knee will be as scarred down and as tight as it will get. I just hope that it gets as tight as the left knee and I will not need major reconstruction to tighten the MCL. I'm not really worked up about needing arthroscopic surgery on my meniscus as that should be relatively easy compared to the damage I did to the MCL, and it can wait for several months as I rehab the ligament.
I'm bummed as I sit here, watching holiday plans take shape around me. I won't be able to prepare, cook and bake our Thanksgiving dinner, nor will I be able to participate in Christmas shopping in stores. I'm having a major pity-party for myself and would love to have company. I just want to get up and resume my normal life and would love to see some forward progress of my knee healing. Out of this experience I have learned I am not patient, nor happy to sit idly by and watch life happen around me. I have to get back to living soon. My expanding waist and butt can't take much more self-soothing of the Schwan's ice cream kind.
I saw my orthopaedic surgeon yesterday who reviewed my MRI results and explained the nature of my injury. I knew I had a grade 3+ tear of my MCL, but to see it in pictures really helped me understand exactly how and where it's torn and shredded.
I was able to see the exact spot where my MCL pulled away from my femur and could easily see that the entire length of the ligament was shredded both superficially and in the deep layers. What isn't great to see is that my medial meniscus was damaged from the rotation of my tibia and femur and will most likely need surgery after my MCL is completely healed. He explained that by 8 weeks we'll know how much healing and scarring has occurred and that whatever joint stability is present then, is most likely how much I'll ever have. He's hopeful that with proper rehabilitation I will have a fully functioning MCL and hence a 'normal' knee. Once he assesses my knee progress at 8 weeks, he'll begin discussing my probable menisci surgery which he anticipates as a fairly routine arthroscopic procedure with minimal recovery time.
I had physical therapy today which was, let's just say, interesting. The therapist is a rather good looking guy which is why no matter how much it hurts to stretch, I must shave my legs before any session with him. He began today by assessing my good leg and knee. Seems that I am 'hyperflexive' which explains why I can bend my knee joints way beyond straight and flat, why I can pop my hips out of place and my creepy elbows that bend in a freakish way. Anyway, after establishing that my joints are loosy-goosy, he had me bend my knee for the first time in 2 weeks. At the start of the session I could reach 41 degrees of flexion and by the end of the session was at 46 degrees which is half way to my 90 degree goal. I was pea green scared to bend my leg. I knew my shin might just fall off or flop around, but it didn't it. What it did do, was let me know that there is a lot of healing going on in that joint. To flex my leg to only 41 degrees made me feel so wimpy. I'm so scared that I'll undo all the healing that has taken place and set me back even further than anticipated. I've never felt fragile before, but boy, am I careful with my knee. With any luck, next week he'll feel even more tightening of my knee joint and allow me to start toe touching with my right leg. WoooHoooo, I get to put my toes on the ground. Hot Damn!
I called my oldest sister last night to give her a rundown of my doctor's appointment only to have her tell me she would have to call me back as she was driving herself to the emergency room. Yep, us Heckman girls are peas-in-a-pod when it comes to injuries. Seems she was walking her dog, Buster, when he suddenly took off after something, causing her to fall and be dragged across the concrete street on her back. She has a concussion and a hideous head wound, but with God's help and 40 Irish Policemen, she'll mend too. So that officially makes 2 out of the 3 of us Heckman girls with dog related injuries. I wonder what my middle sister, Kathy will have happen. Seeing as she is decidedly NOT an animal lover like Nancy and I are, I can only imagine that she will have a Jimmy Choo stiletto high heel accident. Time will tell, but things tend to run in 3. This time I wouldn't mind if things quit at the terrible two's.
I'm a big believer in living life and learning lessons from those experiences. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but upon reflection I can almost always recall having felt gut instincts or feeling a sense of intuition that I ignored. This instance is no different.
8 days ago I stuck my leg out to protect the powercord and laptop from being catapulted to the floor and ended up with major knee damage. Oddly enough, right before I stuck my leg out, I had a sense of deja vu( for lack of a better description) and had the fleeting instinct to keep my legs curled up on the couch. I ignored my gut instinct and am now left with a complete MCL tear. Not only is my MCL torn completely thru the deep and superficial layers, but it is also pulled away from the femur. Wait...in addition to the MCL damage I also have meniscal damage. Seems that will actually require some surgery to 'clean up' the pieces that are just hanging around in the joint now. So, for the next 3 weeks I am to continue with this hideous leg brace and have ZERO weight bearing. After 6-8 weeks, the doctor will re-evaluate how much healing has taken place on my MCL and then plan to salvage the meniscus.
What have I learned from this lesson? To always listen to that little voice inside of myself and not ignore it. If I had listened to that instinct 8 days ago, I would be writing about the expense of buying a new laptop. Boy, do I sure wish I was bitching about that now instead of being confined to the living room couch and using crutches to get to the bathroom.
I believe in intuition. If only I didn't have to learn it in earnest the hard way.
Some seasons in life are crappy. Everyone has a period (or two or three) of life where everything seems to be going wrong. At the other end of the spectrum is the time in life when everything is just hunky dory! I am most definitely mired in a craptastic period of life which I will call the orthopedic phase.
It started at the beginning of Craptober when the horse smashed my bare foot causing me to fall over and bruise my scaphoid bone in my wrist. They at first believed it to be broken, but numerous follow-up x-rays revealed a bone contusion. My sesamoid bone in my big toe is still sore and a little purple, but the hideous shade of green and yellow has faded. Our fun continued when we took Thomas to an ortho in Bismarck who diagnosed his right knee as having a completely torn ACL. His crappy recommendation was to wait 6 years and then have corrective surgery. Until then we were supposed to keep him calm! Yeah, right! Keep a 13 year old boy calm. That guy was smoking the funny weed!
We took Thomas to a Pediatric Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Specialist at Sanford Health in Fargo. The doctor there manipulated his knee and happily proclaimed that his ACL felt totally normal and intact. We had an MRI and then consulted with the doctor immediately afterwards where he showed us the proof that indeed, the ACL was 100% normal. He did notice that Thomas has loose joints to include his knee cap and suggested some exercises to strengthen his quads which would in turn, help tighten the knee cap. We drove home happy as fat cats with that news.
The appointment with Thomas in Fargo was Monday. On Tuesday evening, I added to the orthopedic needs. I was busy minding my own business, just sitting on the couch with the laptop on my lap, surfing the net. Kitty and Bunny were romping thru the house and it crossed my mind that the dogs might catch the power cord for the laptop which would cause yet one more broken computer in our household. No sooner had I thought about that scenario than Kitty came running by and my instinct was to extend my right leg off the couch in an effort to stop her from yanking the power out of the computer. My leg extended alright, but Kitty kept on running, catching my right ankle causing my knee to act as a pivot. When I looked at my leg, it was pointing a different direction than the upper part of my leg. It was hideous.
I saw an ortho at a different clinic here in town than where Thomas went and I had gone for my wrist, and I really liked the doctor. He was able to easily move my femur to the inside of my knee by 7 CM which is FRIGGIN huge! It hurts like H.E.L.L and I am now wearing a most uncomfortable leg brace from my ankle to my thigh. The good news is that a complete grade 3+ tear of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) usually heals without surgical intervention. The bad news is that I'm still waiting for my FRIGGIN insurance to pre-authorize my MRI so they can determine if I'll need surgery. Because of the extreme laxity of the knee, he knows I have severed the MCL but needs to know if it also pulled away from where it attaches to the femur and/or the tibia. There's also a chance I ripped the ACL. If those things are determined then I will need surgery to reattach everything since I have nothing left to hold my knee together.
I am most definitely not an over achiever in my life, but in this aspect I seem to have exceeded all expectations. The one thing the doctor said to me that made me laugh was that he said this is one injury you don't get by sitting around on a couch. HA! I showed him! Not all MCL injuries occur in highly trained athletes. They can also happen to middle-aged, home educating moms, who happen to be surfing the couch!
This body was not designed to motor around on crutches. My uncoordinated gate on the crutches is proof of my 'non- athlete' status. I am in a boatload of pain and imagine it will continue for some time. Well, it has improved some since yesterday when the doctor was examining it and moving what's left of my knee around. I actually screamed out when he moved my femur to the left of my knee. Not a pretty sight and not a pretty feeling.
Until I get the MRI, which I hope is sometime in the next week, I am living in limbo. I am supposed to have PT but am a little uncertain if I can handle it before getting all the shitty news that the MRI might give me. My knee is scattered and so is my brain.
Craptober cannot end soon enough. I'm ready to move on to the happy phase of life which is supposed to follow all the crap. Every cloud is supposed to have a silver lining and I sure hope that holds true for my life right now.
I'm typing using only my left hand and it's gosh darn difficult. Yesterday didn't go as planned and i ended up at the urgent care clinic. let me just say that no good deed goes unpunished.
Madison brought josh, our 24 year old horse up to the house and was screaming for me to come look at him as he ad a large swelling on his back. I told her i'd be right back out as soon as i put my shoes on, but stopped,and figured i'd just have a quick looksie. Number one rule around horses is to always have shoes on and i broke that rule.....and paid for it.
I touched the sore spot and Josh splattered promptly smashing my bare foot under his hoof into the very hard concrete. I recoiled with my foot lodged under his ample hoof and fell over smashing my right hand and thumb. Madison drove me to urgent care where the x-rays show a crack in my navicular bone in my wrist and a crack in my sesmoid bone in my foot. i'd be on crutches but i can't since my arm is in a splint until i can see an orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. It seems the bone in my hand has poor blood supply and these fractures frequently require a screw to make it heal.
So Thomas sees the ortho for his knee on the 24th and i see my guy on Tuesday. I bet we'll get a few looks walking into the clinic. Maybe we'll get a two-fer deal on our surgeries?
excusenthe typos's but hunting and pecking sucks, but I'm stocked up on pain killers!!
Thomas had his appointment today with the orthopedic nurse practitioner. She maneuvered his leg in ways that made Marc almost vomit. She twisted and contorted his skinny minny leg every which way but behind his ears. He also complained of his hip hurting so that was x-rayed as well.
We knew sommin' was up when the actual orthopedic surgeon came into the room to introduce himself shortly after his x-ray was complete. He proceeded to twist and jerk and pull on Thomas' leg all the while making guttural sounds like a fat, happy pig. We heard a lot of umph's, and a lot of uggggghhh's. Thomas made no noise other than to tell him when something cracked, popped and snapped. The real doctor, not the nurse practitioner who I actually liked, looked at us and pronounced that his knee is extremely unstable and loose and he has a completely torn ACL. He almost announced it in a way that made us feel like we should be proud of our kids youthful accomplishment.
The doctor told us that surgery at this stage of the game is highly discouraged as it would interfere with the growth of the leg as the surgery would involve messing with the growth plate. He also said that due to the nature of a young, teen aged boy and his ability to use common sense with a replaced ACL, the re-injury rate is enormous. His recommendation is to wait for surgery until he is through his growth phase and his decision making ability is better and he is approximately 19. HELLOOO! That is 6 friggin' years away. He wants me to institute a swimming regimen and weight lifting program to strengthen his quads and hamstring.
Modern medicine?? Is this the best you can offer my son. His knee literally blows out sideways when he over flexes it or twists or heck, even runs slowly. So for 6 years I am supposed to tell my very active son to use his critical thinking skills, weigh the pros and cons of his intended activity and then proceed with caution. Get a friggin' grip. This from a kid who can't think far enough ahead to realize poking a beehive with a stick is probably not a good idea.....especially with a bad knee and a quick getaway needed!
I'm a big proponent of second opinions, so guess where we're headed next Monday. We have an appointment with a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. I think I'll feel much better hearing this doctor's opinion. If it jives with what the doctor here said, well then great. We'll do our best to keep Thomas from taking unnecessary chances with his knee. But if we hear a vastly different opinion, I'm inclined to follow the doctor at Children's. We've had some really great experiences with the doctors' at Children's and I have every reason to believe this experience will be as educational and comforting. Knowledge is power and I fully intend to be as informed about pediatric ACL ruptures as one can be short of medical school.
My eye is even more lovely than it was yesterday. The lower eyelid is swollen significantly and has now moved low enough to encompass the entire under eye area. Yep, it's one fine looking mess. I head to the opthamologist today at 4 and am hoping he tells me it something simple to take care of and not some rare, exotic, deadly disease. See. I'm just a LOT of a hypochondriac.
Thomas and his knee are causing us a little bit of a logistical headache. When I phoned the orthopedic clinic yesterday, I explained that the pediatrician wanted him to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon due to her suspicions of a torn cruciate and/or meniscus. The young man taking my phone call told me there was an opening with Dr. XYZ on Tuesday at 10AM. Great, and I took the appointment. Today I got on the computer to have a little looksie at whom I was entrusting my son's future mobility to, and was shocked to find out that the 'Dr.' was actually a nurse practitioner. Now I have nothing against a nurse practitioner and have actually chosen to see one as my primary in the past. However, when I request a doctor, I expect to be given an appointment with a doctor and not a close second.
Thomas also carries the Sickle Cell Trait which is half the genetic component of Sickle Cell Disease. Having Sickle Cell Trait is fairly inconsequential in daily life and is only really important during extreme heat and exercise, high altitude hiking, and of course procreation....but that's a ways down the road yet! The most critical aspect of SC Trait is knowing this and relaying the information to a doctor before surgery. SC Trait means that half of his red blood cells do not carry oxygen efficiently through his body and this affects the way he handles and processes anaesthesia. This was very carefully explained to me by the pediatric anaesthesiologist at Emanuel Children's Hospital in Portland when Thomas had emergency life saving surgery at 9 months of age. The anesthesiologist was emphatic that Marc and I understand this and to always impart this knowledge with doctors before surgery.
When Thomas needed surgery soon after we moved to Bismarck, I shared my concern that he have an anesthesiologist familiar with SC Trait kids. The doctors reaction left me cold and Marc, Thomas and I left his office immediately. The doctor scoffed at my worries and told me that putting them to sleep was always easy. Really, no duh! It's the waking them up part that worries me. We took Thomas to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis and had a wonderful physician and had a very comforting, reassuring discussion with the anesthesiologist who once again, validated my concerns about the nature of SC Trait.
As I type, Marc is at his office trying to schedule an appointment for Thomas at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. We need to have him seen by a surgeon and to establish the relationship with a physician that can provide the surgery at a hospital familiar with kids with SC Trait. The anesthesiologist at Children's have been wonderful to Thomas in the past and I have ever hope that their skill will meet the level I desire for my child.
I am so frustrated by the medical services here. I am also immensely humbled that while I sit an complain about my frustrations, I can still pick and choose which doctor and where to take my son for treatment. It's so sad to realize that just 500 miles from the tip of Florida, people are dying everyday because they do not have access to a doctor and simple medicine. The people of Haiti know what real frustration looks and feels like. I have very little room to complain right now.
I am grateful that we are able to provide the best medical care we can and that we have options. So many in this world do not. That's a reality that breaks my heart.
Thomas has been complaining of his right knee hurting for about 2 weeks. Twice now, his knee has given out and he has fallen while walking down the stairs. Yesterday at soccer, he stopped playing to rest it and then continue on.
Thomas has a fairly high tolerance for pain. He's just plum stoic. I took him to the doctor's office today after we finished school. Since we didn't make an appointment with our pediatrician, as a walk-in, you see the pediatrician on call. She's a nice, YOUNG gal and gave Thomas a thorough going-over. He actually exhibited pain when she flexed the knee and twisted it. Ah ha!
Off we went to x-ray. I just got the phone call that as expected, the x-rays were fine. Now we see an orthopedist on Tuesday. He'll schedule an MRI and it looks like Thomas may have a partial tear of his anterior cruciate and/or blown his meniscus.
He has been told to stay very INACTIVE and not move around much until then. Great! How do I keep a kid in constant motion, quiet and still? He's on some anti inflammatories and Motrin 24 hours a day now and I can only hope that he just has some soft tissue tears like muscles that don't require surgical correction.
And to make my day just a little more interesting, I woke up with my first ever eyelid stye. It's on my lower right eyelid and I look a little dopey and maybe even a little like a battered woman. I can only hope the swelling goes away before I have to take Thomas to the doctor's next week. What a pair we'll make. One limpy, gimpy kid and his mom with a puffed up, red eyelid!~
My sweet baby boy, Jerome just about killed me today with his school work. As an English language learner, he still struggles to understand some of the fine points of our language, as do most native English speakers. English is a complex language with lots of messed up rules, and exceptions to the rules.
For the past week or so, I've been sensing that he is just guessing at whether or not a word is a noun or a verb. So today I made up a list of words from his spelling words and had him sort them into piles; one for verbs and one for nouns. The first card was 'chin' which he methodically agonized over. He repeated the word, chin, about 4 gazillion times before announcing it was a verb. At this point I had to muffle my internal scream.
I backed up the learning train and reviewed that a noun was a person,place, thing (and am currently omitting that a noun is also an idea as it's way to ambiguous for him) and a verb was an Accctttiiiooooonnn word. I asked him if he could act or do, 'chin' and he said no and touched his chin. I pointed out that he was touching his chin which makes it a 'thing'! He finally put it into the 'noun' pile and we moved on.
Next card was drum. I had drawn a picture of a drum and was intending on the picture denoting a noun and not the action 'to drum'. He looked at the picture and loudly announced it was verb. Once again I squelched my scream and pointed out that the picture was of a drum. Could he touch it? Yes, he could. Then it was a thing which is a noun. He placed it into the Verb pile and pointed at me and said I was drumming my fingers.
If I'm frustrated, he must be even more agonized over this. He continues to smile and work his happy butt off to do school, learn and try his absolute best, but this English stuff is killing me. Is this normal for an English Language Learner? Richnigthder is doing much better at his English work, but even he still has issues with adding and 's' to words to denote ownership or plurality. For example; today he was talking about a friend named Kidane and he said, "Kidane LIKE fruit." I corrected that one person 'LIKES' but one than one person, like we, and it's 'LIKE." Tough stuff to teach someone who's only been learning English for a relatively short time. Am I expecting too much? Is my Grammarian father's intense desire to speak correctly burdening my two little boys? Maybe it's just me and I'm a total nut job.
When I hear incorrect grammar, it's like nails-on-a-chalkboard....screeching and infuriating! Will my little guys ever get the finesse of the English language? I know as a home educating mom I expect more from my kids, but am I pushing it with their English. I can't just ignore it when they make these mistakes, but how do I continue to gently correct them without them just shutting down.
For now I'm just happy that Jerome continues to try over and over and over and over and over again with a smile on his face. Noun, verb.....I know one cuss word that can be used as both and I'm screaming it to myself right now. Yep, I'm the next mother of the year!
Marc and I escaped for a few hours last night. We left Madison at home, in charge of all of her brothers. She made homemade Macaroni and Cheese for dinner and scotcharoos for dessert. Given her dominatrix type personality, it wasn't hard for her to force her 3 brothers into cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes. Hey, I really don't care how she did it. All I know is I came home to a clean kitchen.
We went to see 'The Help' and it was an emotionally moving movie. I do think the book was better, but I think everyone always feels that way. Marc even got teary at a couple places in the movie although I don't think he'll publicly admit it. After the movies we headed to Applebee's for dinner.
The nano-second we sat down, my phone started to ring. The first call was from Madison in hysterics trying to explain that Thomas had seen a skunk in our garage and he had gone outside to chase it down with his bb gun. Marc calmed that situation down and explained to Thomas that chasing a skunk is never, ever a good thought for a bunch of different reasons.
The phone rang again with a happy voice explaining that the package from http://www.hannaandersson.com/ had just arrived. I bought the boys new winter coats and Madison a pair of clogs like mine and everyone was thrilled and happy! Score one for mama! And just so you know, clothes from Hanna Andersson are exceptionally well made and last Forever!
The third call was Richnigthder complaining that Madison is working him like a dog. She had him clean a bathroom, sweep and feed the dogs. Life as a dictator must be taxing for Madison and oppressive for her minions!
The final phone call was from Thomas informing us that one of the Rottweilers had just spent an hour or so barfing on our bed. Naturally we asked why he hadn't taken the dog outside when he realized she was hurling and he emphatically told us, "Because you told us to keep the dogs inside while you're gone." The one time he follows directions and it has to be this time?
Sensing the fun of our date alone had reach it's maximum, we headed for home to deal with skunks and barf. Indeed the dog had barfed on our bed. She barfed up one of Marc's socks, a partial cow hoof and what appears to be several crayola crayons....or so the wrappers denote!
The skunk left behind a signature scent but we haven't seen his Pepe LePew butt and it better stay that way. I don't know if we can handle another date anytime soon. It's just too damn stressful to deal with the chaos thru the phone.
We bought our house and 40 acres for the peace and serenity it offered. We live approximately 25 miles Northeast of Bismarck and specifically chose to live further out from the city to avoid urban sprawl, city lights and noise. Well guess what? For 2 years we have been fighting unsuccessfully to prevent an energy company from placing 66, 300feet tall industrial wind turbines on property that adjoins ours.
These looming towers will be placed approximately 1750 feet from our back door. For those of you who don't know what these monsters look like, go to thishttp://lifewithdekalbturbines.blogspot.com/. These people have been living with and dealing with the effects of turbines for several years. Our county commissioners are well aware of the data, to include the United Nations recommendations that wind turbines be place at least 2 kilometers from an inhabited structure, but for some unknown (GREED) reason, they have chose to force these turbines upon the residents of our township. Oddly enough, the commissioners are aware that 2/3 of the residents of our township DO NOT want these, yet they are forcing the will of the minority on the majority.
The property where the turbines will be placed so closely to our home is actually owned by someone who live 6 miles away. He has stated that he doesn't want to see the turbines or hear them....so I guess that means it's ok for them to impact our life and re-sale potential.
Multiple studies have shown that turbines located within 1 mile of residences reduces re-sale value by 30-50%. That's logical. Who will buy our house with the looming turbines, blinking lights, shadow flicker and constant whooshing, pulsating sound? NO ONE is the answer.
In our last ditch effort to draw attention to our predicament, NBC did a story on our family. Here's the link http://www.kfyrtv.com/News_Stories.asp?news=52386 We've been dealing with this for 2 years and it appears we have exhausted all avenues to prevent these industrial wind towers from being just outside our back door. If we had known 5 years ago that we would live in the middle of nowhere and be forced to live in the middle of an industrial zone, we obviously never would have purchased this home. Burleigh County Commissioners have chose to side with NextEra and sell out for the almighty buck......even though the majority of us DO NOT WANT THEM!
I'm seething with anger and broken-hearted to know that our quiet, peaceful enjoyment of our property will soon be taken from us. The view out my back door will forever be altered and we will be forced to live with it. We've done our best in life to provide for our kids and give them a quality of life we find enjoyable and through no fault of ours, it's being stolen. I guess this is how Democracy works in Burleigh County, North Dakota!
It rained, and rained, and rained yesterday. The wind was blowing mightily and it was a rotten day for anything or anyone to be outside. The crummy weather meant Madison could not practice riding.
She awoke early and headed outside to move jumps around and lay cavaletti poles down. She was wearing her mud boots and getting stuck in the mushy mud. When I saw her saddling Ka Ching, I knew I had to intervene. I simply told her it was not safe to ride when it was still so slick and muddy.
That's when the tears started. She wailed about how she had to practice before her lesson with Karla today. My words of caution for her safety and that of the horse's fell on her determined ears. She wanted to practice come hell or high water....both of which I feel are in our near future!
Finally she relented, through tears and stomping feet and marched the horse back into her stall. I'm hoping she can focus today on trying to put the pieces together and make for a clean ride. She is such a perfectionist about riding that her anxiety is out of this atmosphere. This kid need a Valium and I need a date with Jose Cuervo!
Last Spring, Karla, Madison's dressage and jumping trainer had all the riders in her barn go out for dinner. As we sat around the table enjoying each other's company, the riders, of which Madison is the youngest, were asked to share their specific goals for the year and long range in regards to riding. Madison shared that she wanted to be the best: to have her name known in the dressage/jumping world and to win national titles, international titles and the Olympics.
This kid has more gumption that Forrest! She is determined and dedicated. Good thing after yesterday's lesson. It was a wonderful day to ride outside in the 70 degree temps and early fall sun. Her lesson got off on the wrong foot (literally) the moment she and Ka Ching began to canter. Karla asked her to canter some small 15 meter circles and Madison's were closer to 20 meters. She was even on the wrong lead one time, failed to notice it, and was posting on the wrong diagonal. All of these errors are rookie mistakes and Karla demands, Demands, DEMANDS, 110% all the time.
Her ride degenerated downhill from the opening warm ups and bending lines to the jumping. Both Ka Ching and Madison are right-handed/dominate, and both struggle to go left as easily as right. Neither of them could get a correct lead coming into a jump from the right, bending sharply and clearing the jump and landing on the left lead. Karla was yelling and I mean yelling at Madison to get it right.
Neither the horse nor Madison quit. They rode and sweat buckets until Karla could see that Madison was trying in earnest to do it as well as she could. Her eyes were full of tears at the end of the ride, yet she shook it off, and committed herself to do better on Wednesday for her next lesson.
Honestly I have to admit that it wasn't hard for me to watch Madison get a tongue lashing from Karla. Oddly, Madison has always succeeded in life at whatever she desires with very little effort. Things come naturally for her.......until yesterday. I trust Karla enough to know that she wasn't just yelling at Madison for kicks and giggles, but because she KNOWS the kid can and has done better. Jumping is dangerous and there is no room for sloppiness. At the end of the lesson, after the horse was bathed and loaded in the trailer, Madison went to Karla and thanked her. Karla hugged and kissed her and told her she expects her to work her butt off to reach her goals and she did it because she cares. Together, Karla can help her reach for the stars and in return she expects Madison to give her heart and soul to her riding and make every ride count.
Karla has put in her time in the trenches. She has her Gold medal for dressage and her daughter who's 22 just won the Canadian nationals. Her goal is to get to the PanAm games, World Equestrian Games and eventually, the Olympics! Madison wants to achieve along those lines too. Marc and I will do all we can to help her achieve her dreams and yesterday was just the first among many future tongue lashings.
I was proud of my kid and how she held it together, kept trying and is not letting it define her. From this crappy ride, I am sure she learned more lessons about life than the thousands of good rides she has had. Hopefully, fingers and toes crossed, tomorrows lesson will be less brutal. Either way, she is learning about perseverance, drive, determination and humility. All lessons I am sure will aid her in blossoming life.
Marc and I had a sort of, kind of date today. We intended to ride our horses together after church, alone, just the two of us, but Madison some how tagged along. Three is most definitely company.
While it's not that her company was bad, it's just that Marc and I are never, Ever, EVER freakin' alone. Well I can't say never as most nights between 11PM and 5AM we are alone in our bed, but even then it's often interrupted by a kid who has a bad dream, can't sleep, has a bloody nose, has a blah, blah, blah! It's hard to have time alone together with 4 kids and a Noah's ark load of animals to care for.
Marc and I crave time alone together. We need time alone together. It's virtually impossible to discuss important aspects of life while being interrupted by the incessant demands of the kids. We need to get away and spend a few days just being Marc and Geralyn and not mom and dad. While I know we will be mom and dad until the day we die, it would be kind of nice to revisit the qualities that initially attracted us to each other. Of course, Marc was attracted to my intellect...bahahahaha....and I was drawn to his carefree, throw caution to the wind attitude....bahahaha...NOT! Initially he was attracted to my youthful zest and sorority girl giddyness and I was attracted to his pensive, goal-oriented plans for life. Um, yeah, totally polar opposites. But whatever. It's worked for almost 21 years and we are damn proud of it.
But back to the freak show we call our life. Marc and I need to find a way to be alone. We don't know how to squeeze that into our busy, warp, speed- of -light kind of life right now. Each kid is busy with their own activities and that has both of us running kids to opposite ends of town at the same times. Somewhere, somehow we gotta figure this out. I'm a nicer person when I get to spend time with my best friend and even though we cohabitat, we still are not spending any time with each other.
I don't know what the answer is. All I can tell you is that I better not have to wait until Jerome goes off to college to have a date with Marc. That's not very promising either as Jerome often tells me that he's going to live at home with us forever, to which Marc just groans and grunts. I provide the obligatory smile and hug and roll my eyes over his head because as sweet as my baby boy is....he's gotta fly the nest sooner or later....right?
When we dropped Madison off this morning to work at her cheese curd stand (blech again, sorry Tina), we brought the three boys and one of our Rotties, Kitty. We are used to casual and not-so-casual stares from people as a multi racial family, but realized quickly that one thing that causes more stares than usual is to bring your Rottweiler along.
Kitty is a fabulous dog and has earned her CGC, or her AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate already. She heels, sits, greets other people and dogs politely and is a sweet dog with a very waggly stub of a tail. Heck, even her eyes and mouth virtually smile at people. It was crowded and packed with all kinds of smells, people with strollers, kids running to pet Kitty as their parent's gasped in abject horror and recoiled, and lots and lots of noise. My dog is an awesome ambassador of well behaved, personable, engaging Rottweilers.
And then we saw the stereotypical ill informed 'Michael Vicks' of the dog world. There on the crowded street, stood a young man with lots of tattoos....not a judgment, merely an observation...spikey mohawk, Doc Marten kick ass boots, and of course, a poor Pit Bull on a spiked collar and heavy gauge chain as a leash. UGH! The dog looked large and well muscled and had the saddest eyes on any dog I've seen in a very long time. This guy and his dog are what those in the Pit Bull and Rottweiler world attempt to dispel as horrific stereotypes.
Any dog can be aggressive. ANY DOG! Just like any person can be mean and nasty for no good reason. Large dogs like Rottweilers and Pit Bulls can be wonderful family pets with some very specific parameters. First, a dog should come from a reputable breeder that breeds two dogs that have highly stable, well socialized personalities, and that have been screened for diseases like hip displaysia. Secondly, the owners of any large, strong-willed dog needs to be committed to training the dog every single day and exposing the dog to every possible situation you can imagine. Lastly, take your dog with you to show the public that well bred, well trained Rottweilers can be fabulous family dogs.
The guy with the Pit Bull on a chain is a disgrace and he is one guy who should never own a dog that could cause harm to any person. He perpetuates the stereotype and hurts those of us who are committed to having loving, family companions that are large sturdy, determined dogs.
I'll hop off my soapbox now and get ready to go get Madison. Her 2 days of working are quickly concluding and I look forward to hearing her complaints about the numerous morons that she encountered at the street fair. Maybe it's a North Dakota thing, but who buys a whole turkey leg and accessorizes it with cheese curds and wraps up the meal with funnel cake? I can't believe I just asked that question, when I've found a huge cardboard bin of bras and panties at the farm and feed store in town. Now that's as redneck as it gets, eh?
Maybe for added stares tonight, I'll take our other Rottweiler, Bunny and one of the Shelties. Yep, that and 4 black kids should just about do it!
Tomorrow and Saturday, Madison will be gainfully employed. Alright, it's only for 2 days, but it's her first real job besides babysitting or cleaning horse stalls. She will be working in the Wells Fargo booth downtown Bismarck during the street fair selling Indian Tacos, funnel cake, cheese curds (Blech) and other assorted heart attacks served on a paper plate!
With her earnings, she will be purchasing a new bridle for Ka Ching. It's a used one, but falls within her price range and she will have the full satisfaction of knowing she bought it with the fruits of her labor!
Where has time gone that she is old enough to have a job?
Her riding with Ka Ching has really taken off....no pun intended. Karla believes she will be able to progress thru training level 1,2, and 3 and move into first level dressage next Spring. She adores dressage and is crazy about jumping with Ka Ching. Ka Ching is an honest jumper and gives her all to Madison. Together, they are a cute team and Madison looks forward to competing with her with great enthusiasm. My baby is growing up and sometimes I really don't like. Other times, I'm counting the days until I can move her into a college dorm!
Jerome had his opthamologist's and optometrists doctor appointments this morning. It's been 18 months since he had his eye surgery at the University of Minnesota and this was his final post-surgical follow up with the local doctors. Everything looks fantastic and the surgery was a resounding success!
I consumed about 4 cups of coffee while waiting for the optometrist to see Jerome and then had yet another cup of coffee while we waited for the opthamologist to do his stuff. I figure I had at least a half a pot of coffee at the doctors' office, which of course, created a need for me to find the restroom.
As we waited, we made small talk and I mentioned to Jerome that the doctor better hurry up and look at his eyes, or I was going to wet my pants. He laughed and a moment later the doctor walks in and makes the usual pleasantries. He turned to me and asked how I was and before I could give the standard response of 'Fine, thank you', Jerome interjected that I had wet my pants. My first reaction was to stand up and demonstrate that I had NOT wet my pants, but continued to stammer that I needed to go wee wee due to the coffee I had consumed in the last hour.
The doctor just looked at me like I was a mental patient, temporarily released on a day pass, and tried to focus on Jerome. Rarely am I embarrassed by something, but this one caught me. I think it was the dead pan expression on Jerome's face that gave credence to his assertion of me being a panty wetter. Nonetheless, we left with great haste and I had to suppress my desire to draw attention to my DRY pants. It must have been Senior Citizen day at the doctor's office as the waiting room was full of geriatric patients. I suppose had I wet my pants, no one would have noticed since the waiting room was full of potential bladder control suspects!
Our cable tv went on the fritz last night. All of a sudden the picture just froze, and then the screen went to snow. We tried all the handy-dandy quick fixes they tell you to try before reporting the outage, and nothing worked.
Marc phoned the cable company and informed them of the problem. At 7AM I received a call from the company asking if our other services, internet and phone were working properly. Since I could barely understand the woman thru the crackle on the phone line, I'm guessing she got the point that the phone was on the fritz too. We had a doozy of a lightening storm night before last and several hits were VERY close to our house. Our nearest neighbors house was hit and their internet and power were knocked out. I'm guessing our outage has something to do with their problem.
The repair person was supposed to be here at 3PM. Hmmmmm? It's now 4:10 and not a peep, boo or holler from the company. I detest people that are late and even worse....people who are late and do not call to let you know they are running late. Hey, I have a life, however non-exciting it may be...and i still have places to go and people to see. I have to go to the feed store and get some rabbit food and guinea pig food. See. Exciting things to do and places to go.
It's true. Everyone does have a story. All stories have a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. Sometimes I feel like I have so many stories in my life to share, that I don't even know where to start. Most of us know our stories. You know where your story begins, and you are in the midst of living the middle portion of your story.
Two of my four kids have stories with a beginning. Two of my kids do not. For one of my kids, that means not knowing about the stresses and abuses he was exposed to in utero and ad-libbing the first 2 weeks of life. For one of my other sons, we know nothing about his first 3 years of life other than he was abandoned at an abusive, neglectful orphanage. For him, his story begins at the age of 3.
Of course in reality, both their stories begin before their first breath. This is where it gets sticky for me. I know one of my boys had a rough start from the moment of conception. His little developing body was exposed to substances that will forever affect the way he interacts and interprets the world around him. For my other little guy, his body was exposed to a disease in utero that had the potential to cause devastating effects upon not just his musculoskeletal system, but also his brain, heart and other vital organs. Chances are his birthmom didn't even have a clue she carried this disease. Their stories have very difficult beginnings to share with them. What's even harder is that while Thomas knew his birthmom's name and had a picture of her, her death meant he would never hear the story of his beginning from the one and only person who could tell it. For Jerome, we cannot offer ANY information to him about his birthmom or dad.
His story is unknown. I can't imagine how that would feel; to not know the story of your birth. To not know how he came to be left at an orphanage in a very dangerous part of Port-au-Prince. He wonders what her name is. He asks what she looks like and how old she is. For all those profoundly important questions, we tell him we honestly don't know the answer, but strive to give him information that makes him feel good about himself.
Today, he asked me again what his birthmom looked like. I told him I don't know, but that I am sure she had his happy eyes and brilliant smile. Other questions are harder to answer. He wants to know how old she is and where she lives now. He also wants to plan a trip to visit her in Haiti. At his age, he isn't connecting the dots that it will be impossible to locate a woman who is nameless, who left nothing behind, but an infant boy. He still enjoys making believe about seeing her someday. That's cool with us, but hurts us to know that eventually, he'll realize it's futile.
Everyone has a story. Sadly, not everyone can tell their story. Huge, critical pieces are missing. Do those missing pieces leave permanent holes in their hearts? I know for me, it would. For my boys, I'm not so sure. I know that no matter how much I love them, a piece of themselves....their beginning .... is missing forever. There are no do-overs, no second chances. You get what you get. My hope is that the rest of their lives are SO amazing, the beginning is not as important. I can never give them that part of 'their story' but hope to high heaven that the rest of their story can begin here, at home, in my heart forever.
Jerome is the sweetest kid alive. He finds joy and happiness in the most mundane aspects of life, but when he is partaking in something special, his joy can not be contained. This picture says it all. It was taken at Haiti camp last month when he successfully climbed to the top of the rock wall.
My life should be titled, "Odds and Ends" as it seems so damn appropriate for the craziness of our chaotic life. We seem to have our fair share of 'odd' and a lot of loose "ends" right now.
The loose ends revolve around the distinct possibility of Marc being transferred. We've been in North Dakota for 8 years now and are in our second house here. When we moved here in 2003 we bought a house on 3 acres just north of town with a gorgeous view of the river. I loved the layout of that house and reveled in it's bright interior and southern exposure. Sadly, on only 3 acres, our growing menagerie needed more space to stretch their legs.
We bought 40 acres of beautiful rolling grassland and planned to build a house, but before that happened, this house came up for sale and was on 40 acres. It's plenty big and has a nice layout, but I wasn't wild about it at first. We've been in this house since 2006 and slowly over time, we've claimed it and made it not just another house, but H.O.M.E. We finished the basement, added counter tops, flooring, barns, arena's, fencing and I now feel at home in this house. We have 2 of the worst, lousiest neighbors alive, but I can overlook them, ignore them and find joy in our home and it's setting.
There are 3 very possible transfers in the wind right now. Each of those transfers hinge on a multitude of other factors far outside our control. We understand that moving is a possibility again for our family, but this time, we aren't finding much joy in it. We've made good, life-long friends here and have become members of a church our whole family enjoys and feels connected too. Going to church on Sunday isn't just about worshipping God, it's about connecting, visiting and giving to friends and a community. I'm not sure that kind of church family will be easy to replicate somewhere else.
We've moved before and will probably move yet again. I just wish that the government would give us some clues as to the directions things are heading. Until then, we sit and wait for Marc to get that infamous email telling him he has 90 days to report to the new office. Of course during those 90 days, there's a mad dash of a house hunting trip, getting the house ready for sale and appraisals, organizing for movers, closings, kids' schooling, finding new doctors, friends, church, veterinarians, etc, etc, etc. If I had to lay money on this, with our luck, we'll move sometime in the next 8 months and inevitably it will be during a blizzard.
My ability to move spur of the moment has waned over the years. C'mon gov. Give us a clue!
We live in North Dakota and our adoption tax credit is being reviewed in Holtsville, New York. Yeah, I know that makes a lot of sense, considering we originally mailed all our tax documents to California. If your brain is known to blow a fuse easily, you better not read on. It gets so convoluted that it quickly becomes as clear as mud!
Marc spoke to the gal reviewing our adoption tax credit file in New York 2 weeks ago today. She said we must amend our 2008 returns to claim the boys as dependents, even though they still resided in Haiti, were not U.S. citizens and did not have social security numbers. Because the adoption was finalized in Haiti in August of 2008, they will reduce our allowable credit to the 2008 limits, which effectively reduces our return by $1000. I guess it matters not that the boys weren't granted a visa to enter the U.S. until April of 2009, which is when we brought them home. Whatev!~
Nameless IRS employee with her thumb up her butt in New York said she could not fax us the documents we need to amend, but must be snail mailed. Great, yeah, whatever. Oh, except the mail only goes out on Mondays, and the mail had already been picked up. I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! We finally received the documents, which shockingly had been filled in with the supposedly correct numbers and we just have to sign and snail mail back. Marc is mailing those off today and we should receive two separate payments; one for the amended 2008 return and the current 2010 adoption credit still owed us.
Now this is the kicker. We received the new documents that we needed to sign and mail last Thursday. On Saturday, we received a letter from the IRS apologizing for the delay and informing us that they would review our file within 30 days and would notify us of their decision. This is friggin' hilarious. Wouldn't it appear that since Marc has spoken to nameless IRS employee reviewing our file that our case has been reviewed? Hello?
The icing on the cake is that although they have reduced our overall adoption credit return by $1000, as of 2 weeks ago, they owe us $564 in interest! At the rate the IRS is working, they will be paying us in excess of the $1000 they reduced our initial return.
Sarah, hang in there. This ride is almost as crazy as the roller coaster ride to bring the kids home in the first place.
13 years ago today we received a phone call from Winnell Bird who ran Blessed Trinity Adoption Agency in Houston. She was calling to tell me that 3 babies had been born that day and I needed to pick one of them RIGHT NOW. I heard the words, but could not believe what I was hearing. How could I possibly choose one of these newborn angels?
One of the babies was a bi-racial girl in New Hampshire, one was a black baby girl in Louisiana and one was a newborn black boy in Houston. In the 60 seconds I had to choose, I asked Winnell which baby would be the last one chosen. She told me the dark black boy would be, so that was the baby I chose! That itty-bitty baby boy, that we named Thomas has been a treasure for our family. I know with every fiber of my being, that God meant this child to be ours. He is a blessing to us and has helped us see the world thru different eyes. He has taught us so many lessons that I most often feel inadequate.
13 years ago, Thomas entered the world at 15 minutes after midnight. He has packed more adventure, joy and experiences into those 13 years than most people do in a lifetime. I love my angel for his sense of adventure, kind, kind heart, sense of humor and his ability to adapt to the chaos of our life. I can't even imagine what our family would be like without Thomas in it. One thing is for sure. Our family would have saved a TON of money on doctor co-pays and emergency room visits. He keeps life spicy and always interesting.
Happy birthday to my oldest son. I treasure you and thank God for you everyday!
Madison and I went shopping at Sam's Club today and only ended up filling one flatbed cart. We thought we did a great job being frugal and just getting the necessities such as Chips Ahoy cookies, ice cream bars, Ritz bitz crackers....you know....the basics! We had just checked out when my phone rang and it was Marc asking if I had received the picture he sent me.
I hadn't gotten any pics so he explained that he wanted me to look at a cut on Richnigthder's elbow he had gotten falling off his bike while trying to pull a 'Napoleon Dynamite' move. Seems my two older boys were trying to jump their bikes over some homemade jumps which were made of 2x4's, 4x4's and some rusty nails and screws. The pics would not come thru so I just headed for home as quickly as I could. Of course I instantly got diarrhea on the trip home since I let Madison drive and there were numerous construction zones to pass thru. Oh the struggles of being a mother!
We made it home and as soon as I saw his cut....actually it was more like a tear....I knew he'd need stitches. Madison unloaded the car, took the groceries inside and watched Thomas and Jerome while Marc and I headed to the ER. Of course the walk in urgent care clinic closed at 4PM so we had to go to the ER and wait awhile as there were two life flight victims of car accidents brought into trauma. Richnigthder was an ALL STAR ROCK STAR! They used a needle to numb the area around the tear and he watched and never batted an eye. Then the doctor, who looked as young as Doogie Howser, sewed him up with Richnigthder watching intently. My kid is da bomb!
We stopped at Dairy Queen and he got an extra large Butterfinger Blizzard and then pressed on to Little Caesar's for take home pizza. All I can say is that they must grow them tough in Haiti. Richnigthder is still denying any pain even though I know it must be throbbing. He made this mom so proud. Not proud because he was stoic, but because he is so thoroughly attached and trusting to know that we were looking out for him and taking care of him, even if it meant pain in the form of stitches. I love my kid for being so brave and for trusting us so completely.
Aside from the trip to the ER today and the near visit to the ER yesterday with Thomas and a possible broken nose, it's just been another normal weekend at our house. Thankfully we have ice cream bars and cookies to ease all the boo-boo's!~ Bring on Monday.....I can take it!
Our accountant filed our taxes in early March. In April we received a refund based on our taxes, but withholding the adoption tax credit still due us. They requested copies of all receipts dealing with our adoption expenses, which we promptly provided. Then they requested another copy of their IR-3 visa, which we faxed.
We received a letter in May telling us that they would review our file and notify us within 30 days of their decision. DECISION???? What's to decide? We spent gobs more on the adoption of each boy than the allowable tax refund, so what's to decide? Then in June we received a letter asking for ANOTHER copy of their IR-3 visa. WTF? Marc finally talked to someone last week regarding why our file hasn't been reviewed yet, and they notified Marc that they needed a copy of the adoption decree and a translated version.
OK, we have those documents, but that's not what is legally required, per their own damn IRS forms. Nonetheless, we faxed copies of their adoption decrees showing that the adoption of the boys was final in 2008 in Haiti. Of course, the paperwork trail wasn't finished in Haiti until April of 2009 when we brought the boys home. Heck, for that matter, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince took 2 weeks to issue their visas to travel home in April of 2009. So while the boys were legally ours in Haiti in 2008, we couldn't bring them to the United States, nor claim them on our taxes as they were not U.S. citizens, had no SSN, and were not residing with us. BUT now, according to the IRS, we should have claimed the boys on our 2008 taxes and will withhold part of our adoption tax credit until we amend our 2008 returns to reflect the addition of the two little boys........EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE STILL IN HAITI AND NOT LEGALLY ENTITLED TO ENTER THE U.S.!
Because we have to amend our 2008 return, they will reduce our maximum allowable refund to the 2008 limit which is roughly $1000 less than the 2009 allowable refund. To further complicate this, the IRS will be paying us interest on the 2008 return and on the adoption tax credit from this years return. I'm not sure how much that will be, but I'm sure it won't be as much as if we were tardy in paying them!
I'm screaming right now out of frustration and anger. How asinine to think we could have claimed the boys in 2008 when they weren't even a citizen of the United States then, nor could not legally enter our country. I can't be the only one that finds this mind-numbingly confusing.
Yeah, so we will get a portion of the refund....or so they say....within 6 weeks and the rest of the refund when we amend our taxes. Even if we get right on it and get it done ASAP, according to the gal Marc has been dealing with at the IRS it will be approximately 6 months. Hey IRS.....mama needs money!!! Send me my damn money and stop changing the rules as you go along. Kids call rule changers....CHEATERS! Quit changing the damn rules and send me my money! Mama needs a trip to the liquor store!
It's widely known that Thomas has a language disorder. It affects the way he hears, interprets and relays information he hears or sees. When he was 5 and in pre-K his teacher asked us to have him tested for ADD/ADHD. I found an assessment center and had him tested only to be told he did not have ADD/ADHD, but instead had Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder.
We kind of always knew something was weird in the way he reacted to social cues. For instance, he never understood the fact that someone could be laughing with him and not AT him. He'd get all pissy, stomp his feet and yell. We also could tell that he was very verbal from a young age, but never realized his speech, while articulate, was mere parroting. He also struggled with some sensory issues that affected his ability to eat foods with different textures and to deal with/ process outside stimuli such as large, loud settings or needing to sleep with a pile of heavy blankets on him.
Thomas worked his butt off to reach age appropriate goals in Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy. He learned how to add content to his speech, how to extract information from his brain and articulate it, and how to 'read' social cues. Perhaps the social aspect was the hardest. It was interesting to see how Madison just innately got social inferences and facial expressions and yet Thomas had to be taught how to read someones facial emotions. Weird. My hat's off to Thomas for his diligent work over the course of 5 years in therapies. While some social situations remain elusive to Thomas, he now is able to understand social parameters and gets when someone...or himself....are behaving outside of normal standards. This is a huge accomplishment.
Even though he has graduated from Speech and OT, I still see areas of struggles. The other day he had a really nice kid over to play. He has been friends with this kid for 6 years and while I see that his friend is maturing at a faster pace than Thomas, I also see that Thomas notices it and strives to behave in an age appropriate manner. Thomas works so hard to behave in an acceptable manner that is physically and mental whoops him. When his friend went home, Thomas crashed. He had a melt-down and was drained. How sad that he has to work so hard to maintain friendships and social parameters.
What's super sad about his language disorder is that his appearance to the world is 100% average. He doesn't wear a physical sign that tells the world he struggles with some issues. There are times I want to hang a sandwich board sign around his neck that announces his struggles. I worry as he gets older that the expectations of life get more demanding, he will be so frustrated that he won't be able to function. I'd love to know why he has this struggle, but I guess it relates to the poor start he was given in life in utero. My anger at the exposures he was subjected to even before his first breath is immeasurable. I'm not angry at him. I'm angry at his birthmom, but that is irrelevant now since she passed away. I'm left to guide my son to successful adulthood: one where he can navigate the world of social situations and one where he must learn to voice his thoughts in articulate, clearly understandable language.
While I know his struggles with life skills, he is greatly adept and trying to hide them from outside people. My heart ached from laughter and from pain when I overheard this conversation with his friend while driving him home. The comedy of errors began when Thomas' friend answered a question I asked him.
Me: Chris, isn't that you're cousin's house?
Chris: Which one?
Me: Your cousin, Jane.
Chris: Hmmmmm, that name rings a bell.
Thomas: What bell?
Chris: The lunch bell, idiot!
Chris is a wonderful kid, so don't get me wrong here. It was just so sad to see that Thomas couldn't follow the simple conversation and grasp the social slang of 'ring a bell'. Thomas is a very social kid and loves to be surrounded by friends, but finds it exhausting and now even he can see when he has failed to grasp a social cue or language inference. He is still able to laugh off his faux pas but I wonder how it must feel to know he missed yet another simple, social cue?
The scene played out in the hallway on the third floor of the Federal Building in Bismarck, where Marc has his main office. He had just left his office and ran into a man that works down the hall as an assistant United States Attorney. Marc knows this guy casually and has never had a long conversation with this guy before yesterday.
Marc said that this guy initiated small talk about some governmental law involving drugs. Marc acknowledged he knew about this new law and that's when this guy shoved not just his foot, but his whole damn leg into his mouth. This guy told Marc he couldn't say what he was going to tell Marc in his office (United States Attorney's Office), but for some reason, he 'knew' he could tell Marc. He then proceeded to enlighten Marc that this knew law was "A black thing, because of Obama and that's what brother's do." He then added that drug addiction was also a "Black thing."
That's when Marc said, "Hey, you know what? I have 4 black kids!" He said the look on his face was that of someone being punched in the belly and all the air escaping leaving them suffocating and drooling. That's when the guy started checking his watch and saying he had to run, but not before Marc enlightened him in the ways of his ignorance. Marc has a little more diplomacy and eloquence in his 'chats' than I do and I am sure this guy walked away not even sure he had been made to feel ignorant, but feeling justifiably embarrassed by his gross behavior.
What bugs me most about this situation is that this man is an attorney representing the United States government. He has a picture of President Obama in the office where he works as does Marc. It's part of the respect that is given to the Commander in Chief of our country. This guy may not like Obama's policies, but he needs to be respectful and keep the derogatory slurs to himself. Hey, Marc wasn't wild about Bush as president, yet when his picture hung in his office in the Federal Building, Marc was respectful of the man and the position he held.
I guess this butt-hole guy showed his true colors of bigotry and racism with what he said to Marc in the halls of the Federal Building. I wonder how unbiased and open-minded he would be if he was prosecuting a young black man accused of drug crimes? I'm willing to bet, he would exhibit all the politically correct statements in public, and behind closed doors, berate and belittle ALL black people with the stroke of a broad brush and paint them all as stupid, unemployed dope dealers.
It's 2011 people. What's with judging people merely by the amount of pigment in their skin? Judge people based on their actions, not by their appearance.
This is not a post about fecal matter, rather a post about my feelings. We heard back from GLA and found out that the two little girls from Jeremie are NOT Richnigthder's little sisters. I was so hoping that there were and we could bring them home and Richnigthder could grow up with his birth siblings.
Alas, they are not. Having faith in my heart that God knows best, I will continue to pray that his birthfamily is safe from the EQ that occured so very long ago now and that if they bring anymore beloved children to a creche, God leads them to us. I have room in my heart and home and pray that God leads us to whatever child is meant to be with us in his wisdom.
It's a small world though, as the guy that emailed me back from GLA has a wife named Cheryl who will be an Orlando Chick next March. Amazing how tiny this little planet is in reality!
We are counting down the days until our dear friends the Watkins family and the Dorcheus family join us for a week of fun. Next Tuesday, Mike, Tifanni and their 4 gorgeous, funny kids, invade our place. Then on Wednesday, Nate and Kristi and their 3 kids cruise on in. I am actually looking forward to the noise and laughter and occasional fight amongst the kids. Of course being dutiful parents, each of us having passed rigorous home studies for the adoption process, and have been deemed reliable, sensible, upstanding citizens well prepared to parent and guide children thru to adulthood. In order to ensure that the 6 grown ups survive the chaos, we plan to rely on proven parenting techniques that have withstood the test of time.......LIQUOR!
On Friday, our pack of wild animals will head out in caravan to head to Haiti in our Hearts camp in Alexandria, Minnesota. Friday afternoon to Sunday our families will be chillin' at Lake Geneva where the kids will swim in the lake, canoe, bike, climb rock walls, play basketball and dance till they can't keep their eyes open. The parents will of course socialize with one another, compare notes on the stuff each of our kids have broken and just enjoy being in a setting where families like ours are the norm and we don't stand out. We won't be asked probing, inappropriate questions about how are families came to be and we can just relax and let the kids have fun without feeling like everyone is staring at us.
Who knew that 2 years ago on Father's Day, we would meet two super couples at a hotel in Miami, eat dinner with them at a Cuban restaurant and then spend a couple days with them at our childrens' creche in Haiti. These couples have become important lifelines for Marc and me. I spent time with Kristi 4 months ago in Orlando, along with 67 other women and it let us spend some time realizing the complexities of our lives and how much we have in common. Tifanni and Mike have become dear, dear friends; God parent's to Richnigthder and Jerome and God forbid, our children's guardians should Marc and I die. I still marvel in awe how our Haitian children, that lived so far away from all of us, brought us all together with a common bond.
I will be menu planning tomorrow to make sure we have tons of junk food on hand, slip and slides, hula hoops, nerf guns and all the bike tires are inflated awaiting their arrivals. Naturally I will be stopping at the liquor store to pick up beverages of an adult nature and will of course, make sure I have tons of kook aid on hand for the wee ones. My kids are so excited to know that these two families are coming to visit that they are a humongous pain in my butt right now. Everyday, I get asked if tomorrow is the day everyone arrives. Soon enough I will be able to tell them that today is the day. Until then, I continue to clean and checking off the days on the calendar.
Summer sunshine, good friends, laughter and happy kids, that's what makes life worthwhile!
I emailed GLA to inquire about the two little girls that may be related to Richnigthder and haven't heard a peep, boo, or a holler from them. I also emailed Vivian and haven't heard back either. I can't stand not knowing if these little girls might be Richnigthder's little sisters. Even Marc is annoyed that we haven't heard anything.
If these little girls are related, we most definetly would move heaven and earth to bring them home to be our daughters. Anyone have a contact at GLA that might be able to get the answer for us?
For several months now, we've contemplated growing the family thru adoption again. I contacted Vivian, AKA, Adoption Social Worker Extrodinaire, and she explained how to start the ball rolling again. Then we moved adoption plans to the back burner while we continue to wait and see if Marc will be moved again. In the beauty of his job, they have the privilege to move you in the blink of an eye. The big Kahunas are debating whether or not to close smaller offices and move all the agents elsewhere.
Decipher the last word: elsewhere often means, the border of the U.S. and Mexico. That translates to worrying about Marc and his safety, and ours too, if we move to a hotbed of criminal activity. So we have been trying to wrap our minds around the possible move and come to grips with moving from a house we've put our own touches on and now consider home. We like it here and really don't want to move again, but you have to do what you have to do. So we cooled our jets on the adoption until we figured out where we might end up by the end of the year.
Yesterday I was reading Dixie's blog at God's Littlest Angels. She wrote about some of the new kids she has admitted to her creche recently and two little girls caught my eye. Dixie wrote that two missionary aides brought the two girls to her creche from Beaumont, Jeremie because the father did not think he could care for the little girls since the mother recently died. Jeremie is the province where Richnigthder was born and lived before coming to our creche. One little girl is about 5 and named Shelley and the baby sister is about 8 months old. Richnigthder had a little sister he called (phonetically....She-lov) she would be about 5 years old now too. I put the picture from Dixie's blog up on the screen and just let Richnightder take a look. I said nothing, except if he knew her? He beamed and told me he thought that was Shelove. Of course, I have sent emails to Dixie and Vivian and am waiting to hear back. If this is Richnigthder's little sisters, then we will do everything in our power to bring these girls home.
So, what if these are his biological sisters? It means his birthmother has died, just like Thomas' which I blogged about last week. This stuff is far too complicated for a little tiny brain like mine. A part of me hopes these are his little sisters and a part of me hopes they are not. The part of me that feels relief if they aren't related feels tugged to bring them home anyway. So many kids need homes. What if no one ever brought these babies home? What if I'm not on the right path in life and doing all I can to help the orphans of the world, particularly Haiti?
I am so, so freaking tired of people bashing on gays. I am tired of bible thumpers who claim to be living God's directives as dictated in the bible being malicious and cruel to people whom are simply living their lives as they feel they were born to be. I believe one is born gay. It is genetically encoded in them and that is simply how they are made, wait for it....by GOD!
For God's sake, we are not talking about pedophiles or people who are making and selling drugs. I'm talking about grown adults, who recognize and embrace who they are and do the best they can to live a life of kindness, generosity and overall, are just good people looking to have happiness and someone to love. We have quite a few same sex couple friends, Marc has several gay cousins and we also have a couple trans-gendered friends. None of these people are odd to us. They are just average people who happen to love someone of the same gender.
I am also very proud to be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Our church has officially stated that it allows a homosexual person in a monogamous relationship to hold pastoral positions. It also openly supports people with different sexual expressions and recognizes that these people are in fact, children of God and are welcome to be members of ELCA Lutheran churches. I am proud to have a pastor that seeks to develop understanding among small, rural families, that people who are different from their definition of normal, are indeed still worthy of love, acceptance and should be free from the hatred spewed out of ignorance or religious indignation.
Nobody in this country should be forced to worship God at a church in which they do not feel comfortable, nor should they have to accept anothers views. BUT, that being said, nobody should proclaim that they have the secret key to the pearly gates. Save the fire and brimstone argument for someone who doesn't see God as benevolent. I happen to believe God will welcome all his children home upon death....even if they are gay. I have a fierce, but quiet faith in my soul and that brings me comfort. Is that faith because I adhere to the word of the bible....the book that has been interpreted a gazillion different ways by a gazillion factions....or is is because I feel so deeply that God made each and everyone of us,,,even gay people?
All I know is that in today's Christian world, gay equals bad and I find that abhorrent. I am a Christian. I am a believer in Jesus and I believe all of God's children, gay, straight, yellow or black or brown, will go to heaven. Enough with the gay bashing and proclamations that the bible says its wrong. The bible also says you shouldn't wear mixed/synthetic material and one should stone their child for cursing their parent. So put on the cotton sack cloth and gather a bag of rocks. I'm frustrated and needed to vent. It's my blog, my thoughts and my right to spew my thoughts out into cyber space. Many will not agree with my views. That's ok. Many will agree with me and that's ok too. It really doesn't matter since there are so many more important issues to deal with in this world than whether or not someone is gay.
I know. Let's talk about the million of orphans around the world who are hungry, lonely, and in need of loving arms. Or how about the despicable state of our public education in this country. Heck we could even talk about the millions of people without adequate health care in this country because they can not afford it. See, there are lots and lots of other topics to discuss that are actually important and have some bearing on the future of our country and not one of those topics involves the weary old saga of Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Give me a freakin' break. Give me Adam and Steve any ol' day over crabby old church ladies. At least Adam and Steve will make me laugh and we can share a laugh and a drink.
Thank God for freedom of speech where I can share my thoughts, however unpopular they may be with the Christian/moral majority.
Our weather has sucked ginormous, rotten Ostrich eggs lately, BUT....today is nice and it is supposed to remain pleasant for several more days.
The boys are on the trampoline and Madison is practing her jumping on Ka Ching and Lucki. I just went outside to saddle up my horse and ride with Madi, but my allergies are so bad right now, that my eyes become like sandpaper, my mouth itches, I sneeze and in general am as miserable as a whore in church. With all this rain and lush vegetation, my Allegra just can't keep up with all the pollen and allergens. I just want to enjoy the nice days when the giant yellow ball of solar heat shows up and not have to lock myself inside, BOOO HISSSS!
Just the other day I blogged about the beauty and blessings of open adoptions. Our adoption story with Madison's birth and her birth parents is one of great beauty and peace. We love her birth parents and feel blessed to have them in our lives.
Thomas' birth story is a little different. His birthmom chose to not have ongoing contact with us or him, even though we desired it. We don't know why she chose to close the adoption, but we guess that it was easier on her heart to not have to think about him and picture her gorgeous son be loved on by another mom and dad. That's just a guess on our part and we could be wrong, but I know when we talked on the phone to her shortly after she delivered Thomas, she told us she was sure of her choice in us and that made her feel good. We never had any contact with her after that phone call.
Periodically I would google her and see if I could figure out where she was. She was a native of Louisiana but would sometimes live in Houston, which is where Thomas was born. Last Friday I googled her and was shocked and grief stricken to have found her obituary. I felt sick to my stomach and broke into tears. A woman who I never met, yet love her flesh and blood son as a gift from God, had died 2 years ago and now Marc and I would have to tell our innocent son.
Adoption, regardless of how beautiful ALWAYSinvolves loss and pain. Thomas has always grieved the fact that he did not know his birthmom like Madison does and has fictionalized the missing pieces of his birth. These things are painful to him and to us. I have hurt watching Thomas try to grasp why his birth mom didn't want to watch him grow throughout life or share in his development. I am impotent to explain why she chose to make his adoption more difficult in our estimation. Perhaps it was easier for her, but ultimately made our adoption experience with Thomas much more difficult and trying.
Yesterday, Father's Day, Marc and I sat Thomas down and gently told him that I had discovered his birthmom's obituary. He didn't know what an obituary was and when I explained it, I saw the tears pooling in his eyes. I held him and rocked him just like when he was a newborn and he wailed, sobbed and shuddered with grief. His grief is so multi-layered that I have a hard time grasping it. He is grieving for what he never knew, what he wanted to know, what he will never know. He doesn't remember her voice, her touch, her scent. He has so many unanswered questions that will remain unanswered forever. He hasn't begun to even reconcile that these are now facts he must deal with. For a child nearing adolescence, their world is confusing enough without throwing in to the mixture adoption, death and infinitely unanswered questions.
Telling him about his birthmom's death was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a mother. I've heard the words from someone else's mouth telling me my mom and dad were dead and it was horribly painful, but telling my fragile son about his birthmom's death was much more painful. It ripped my heart out and made a lump in my throat that hurt so badly I could barely catch my breath. I hated the fact that I had to hurt him with this news. I hated the fact that his birthmom died and put me in this position. I know that is irrational, but her track record of making poor choices during her pregnancy and subsequent decision to close the adoption compounded Thomas' struggles and ours as well.
We went to the nursey yesterday and let Thomas choose some trees. He chose two apple trees that we will plant in our yard and create a small memorial rock garden to his birthmom's memory. He'll be able to see it from his bedroom window and I hope it provides him some comfort. I want the trees to bear lots of apples, thrive, grow tall and sturdy and be beautiful....all the same things I want for Thomas to embody in life and I'm sure the same things his birthmom wished for him.
Life can be so beautiful and yet so full of sorrow. His birthmom gave him life, not necessarily the best start in life, but life nonetheless. I am so grateful he is my son, even given his added struggles and feel hopeful that this is just one more sorrow in his life he will overcome, move forward from and become wiser and stronger. For me however, shaking my irrational anger at his birthmom's death may take some effort. I suppose my process of grieving the loss will be to let go of the anger and frustration and move forward into peaceful acceptance. I can't do anything about the situation except support Thomas and understand this may send him reeling for some time to come. Only time will tell.