Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
My lovely daughter Julia made this beautiful scarf, and even decided to model it for me.
Isn't she gorgeous?
Moving right on, a few days ago, I got to clean up a pool of vomit. Thankfully, this seemed to be the turning point for Dennis.
One day, I put Sveta's hair in her new hot curlers. She looked hot!
Dennis finally has his appetite back! Now he acts like he's always hungry!
See! He went and got out his new favorite treat---- pudding!
He loves when one of us feed him two in a row.
My Mom, Dad, and sister gave the kids some Christmas cash (Caleb's words, not mine as he is sitting here right now watching me type as he rubs my feet as an anniversary present). One of the things a lot of the kids wanted was a basketball hoop. Well, a new one is too expensive in my opinion so I found this used one off of Craigslist and offered $40, $30 less than the asking price. Can you call me Miss Cheapo? But really, it is awesome and for $40 you can't beat it!
Anna's new favorite pastime is curling her hair with the new curling iron she got from Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas. She does a really good job, and reminds me of myself when I was her age.
Now that Dennis is feeling better, he is up and about. Here he is playing Connect Four with Adam. Should I mention that Dennis won? LOL, just kidding, and Julia said, "Wow Mom," as she watched me type this.
Tonight, Rachel wanted to do the sweetest thing. She wanted John and I to wait till the kids were finished eating so that she could set up a candle light dinner for the two of us and be our waitress. She made up menus and everything. It was just so sweet. She even made a cake and had us blow out candles.
Caleb was the photographer. Pretty good, huh?
"Yesterday a sweet little girl named Rita came to my house with two teeth that had been completely eaten through by a cavity and were almost completely rotted away. The holes looked like they were starting to get infected and the nerve was exposed; I cant imagine how much pain she was in. I took her to the dentist, and they said they were closed. The dentist was in a hurry to leave and wouldn't help me, but he said I could use his things and do it myself. Of course I was terrified, but I was more scared to think about the teeth not being removed immediately; they looked so painful. I gave her a shot to numb her mouth, waited about ten minutes, tried to sterilize these tweezer things with a match and dug out what was remaining of her poor little teeth. I don't think she could feel it, but my heart hurt for her.
I took her back home, made her a hot bath and some soup. Then she had ice cream and slept in my bed under a big blanket. As I tucked the covers in around her and kissed her head she looked up at me with these big, wondering eyes. Unbelievable as it is, she was SOOO happy. She told me that this was the best day of her life, even though her mouth hurt. She said that she would get her teeth pulled every day if she could stay with someone like me. And that made my heart hurt even more.
There are so many children out there that don't feel loved on a daily basis. So many children that don't have a person to hold their hand or rub their back when they are scared and in pain. So many children who don't have the simple pleasures of taking a warm bath or sleeping under a blanket. I would move all of them, ALL of them into my house if I could. I wish I could love them all. I wish more people cared enough that they also wanted to love them all. Sometimes I just can't even believe how blessed I am. I have always been loved, always been cared for, always been warm and well-fed. Its frustrating sometimes, but mostly its just motivating. Sometimes I feel so tired, and then something like this happens and I am reminded that I can give a child the best night of her life simply by making her soup and kissing her forehead. Simply by love her.
Sometimes I feel so tired that I think if I give away any more of myself I may actually be empty. And then I remember, It is only in giving away the love given to me by the Father that I am ever actually full. And so I keep going because of Rita. Because kissing her forehead and saying 'I love you" actually did change the world for that little girl. Because maybe through my hands she can get just a glimpse of a fraction of the love her Maker has for her. There is nothing better."
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I guess I could sum it up by saying that a parent is a continual work in progress, and that no matter how awesome they appear, they are far from perfect--------ahem, speaking from experience that is. Take two weeks ago---- While I was going to the bathroom, you know who was sitting at my feet and in an instant, Dennis reached behind the shower curtain and pulled out a razor and stuck it in his mouth...... before my quick reflexes could take it out of his hands. How did I not see that one coming? Don't worry, I was there to prevent him from getting hurt, but it was sobering that even I after years of practice, didn't have it all together all of the time.
Oh, and what about Sveta's ringworm on her face? I saw that she was developing a rash on her face, but refused to believe that it was ringworm at first. Doesn't everybody know that Reed kids are too good to get ringworm? After I was thoroughly insulted by the school nurse who suggested that this is what my lovely daughter had, I went home and googled it, and sure enough, she had it. I immediately started putting on an anti-fungal cream, but the ring wasn't getting any better after two days. That is when I noticed that she kept touching it, like every few minutes. I insisted that she stop touching at, but after three more days, it was evident that she was touching it when I wasn't around. No amount of love, encouragement, begging, or demanding was going to get my sweet Sveta to stop touching it, so I got my creative parenting juices flowing.
"Sveta, No gum or candy until your ringoworm goes away. That means, don't touch it!"
And guess what? Within two days, the ring was nearly flat, and on the third day, we celebrated. Sveta got a piece of gum. I winked at her, and pointed to my nose and simply said, "Mama knows."
Little things like this happen everyday..... I think it comes with the territory, and I can certainly handle it, but there are times when I feel like I am not enough, not patient enough, not caring enough, not strong enough, not wise enough, and not able to do the things that I was sure I could handle. Actually...... I don't feel this way too often, but when Dennis started bleeding and had to be rushed to the hospital, I panicked feeling very inadequate. Everything I knew about parenting temporarily slipped my mind, and as I rode to the hospital thinking that perhaps the child in my arms would die, I wondered if he would have been better off just staying in the orphanage. My heart knew the answer to be no, but my head thought that if he was still there, he would not be riding in an ambulance having blood sucked out of his mouth to keep from choking.
All I was able to do was hold my son.
Even my faith temporarily faltered as I wondered if God would indeed save Dennis. Only when the bleeding stopped, did I have peace that Dennis was going to be okay. What kind of mother loses hope, if even for a second------ just because things are out of her control? I know. This kind of mother. Later, my husband told me that as he was racing home in the car, he felt God telling him that Dennis was going to be okay. That was when I was gently reminded that I was not doing this alone, and that while I momentarily didn't have everything it takes to be an awesome parent, I didn't have to be because God was right there picking up the slack.
Well........... God picks up the slack for me many times a day.
And it doesn't make me weak to admit that. In fact, I have told my kids on more than one occasion that when they do something that makes me upset with them and even possibly makes me dislike them because of their behavior, they can take comfort in knowing that I turn to God to fill in and make up what I am unable to give at that moment. And because of that, they can trust that I will always love and be there for them, no matter what.
Everyday, I am learning to be more patient, and I am working hard at being gentler and softer when I speak. This is an area where I need major work, but it was really encouraging to have my daughter notice and say two days in a row, "Look at Mama. She is being gentler when she speaks." Hunh?, (looking both ways), where did she get that? Gentler? I was just trying to keep from raising my voice when I speak. But, I can handle being called gentler, although she hasn't used those words to describe me in a few days.
As a mother, I have to continually be open to change, and I have to remind my children that they have to be open to change too. Just because we are in a comfortable place in the mean time doesn't mean that things are going to stay that way forever. Just this year, I became the parent to not one but two teenagers, and with that comes change. Not just on my part, but on their part too. This year, I took my kindergartner out of school because he needed to be home with me one more year. Had I been unwilling to change or acknowledge that my son just wasn't ready for school yet would have been detrimental to his well being, I believe. Just a month ago, I had to address one of my son's obsessions with fire----- which was a huge change for me. These are just to name a few.
Recently, John and I had a major breakthrough with one of our daughters. It started out with something trivial------- another daughter coming to us and saying that someone had been in her room to turn on her Christmas lights without asking. The rule in our home is to not touch something that is not yours without the permission of the owner, so for the daughter whose lights were touched, this was a big deal. I went around asking each child, and each one said it wasn't them except for one who said that Dennis probably had done it. Stupid, stupid me, actually entertained that thought, and was almost convinced that it couldn't possibly be the daughter who was the only one who had alone time in the room, who had a habit of using things without permission, and who was trying to blame someone else. Even after 2 years home, she was more convincing than ever and stupid, stupid me even went back and asked the daughter with the lights if she had made up the story to get someone else in trouble. Of course, I apologized for that one, and learned a valuable lesson about my forgiving and very honest daughter, and had my husband who is often times much wiser than I deal with our lying daughter.
He came down on her very matter-of-factly, and said that he knew that she had turned on the lights. Her story changed. Now, she probably did do it, but her brain couldn't remember doing it. Still a lie, but to her, she was convinced that she had us convinced. Thankfully, I was doing something with the other kids, and my husband wasn't buying it. Eventually, the truth came out, hard as it was, and our daughter learned once more the same thing we have been teaching her from day one. Consistency continually, I like to call it. It was hard to see just how much more work we have cut out for ourselves with her on such a simple thing as lying. She was willing to blame another child, she was willing to have the whole family forgo movie night, and she was willing to lie to our face not once, but as many times as it took to deny that she did anything wrong. At the end of her confession, I was not so graceful. Probably because it was like pulling teeth to get the truth out of her, and mainly because I thought that we were past this kind of nonsense.
This happened five days ago, and we did go on to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with her, but until she has rebuilt her character--- one of honesty and trustworthiness which amounts to being responsible and respectful, she will enjoy a much earlier bedtime and less privileges than her sisters. I periodically joke with her that I wonder if she will still have an early bedtime when she is seventeen.
As I wrap up this post, I am still blessed to report that I am doing exactly what it is that I want to do with my life........ and through it all, it is still very rewarding, every last bit of it. I am still excited that I found a solution to my sock dilemma, I am still following the five finger rule, and I remind my kids daily that they are all stuck with me. My wonderful husband and I are getting ready to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.... with overnight childcare courtesy of my Mom and sister. If we still don't have trouble getting people to watch our kids, that must mean we are doing something right, right? Ending with a big smile!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I will start first.
Beth is a dear friend that I have known for 12 years. She used to be my next door neighbor before she grew up and went off and got married. I guess I get the credit of bringing her and her husband together. Pretty amazing story-- totally a fairy tale one at that and they are happily married with six beautiful children. We had drifted apart through the years, but recently through blogging, we have got reacquainted which I am thrilled about.
Laurel is a good friend of mine that I have known for three years. She and her husband have adopted five children themselves and she helped me to bring home Dennis. She is very encouraging and has a wonderful sense of humor---- I think she is the best.
Kristen is a friend I met at MUGS which is a mothers group that meets at my old church. She is distantly related to one of my daughter's previous family. She is also an adoptive mom who is in the process of adopting another child through foster care. She is so comfortable to be around and I wish she would bring her kids out some time and visit me--- hint, hint.
Linda is a friend of Kristen that I met through blogging. She is a very loving and encouraging mother of three. Not only did she drop off a sweet card during Dennis' first surgery, but she and her son came and visited Dennis and I when he was in the hospital for his cleft palate surgery. What a blessing it is to meet a blogging friend in person.
So, who do you know?
Friday, December 26, 2008
It was a non clinic day, so we were the only patients in the office. We were seen immediately. I was curious to see if Dennis had lost any weight since his surgery last week, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had lost only half a pound. It was nice to hear that Dennis' palate was not infected like I thought it might have been, which is awesome news, but the doctor informed me that there is an extra flap of tissue that normally does not hang down that may need to be cut during a future surgery. Knowing that things could have been worse, I was happy knowing that Dennis only has a fistula and a hangy thing-a-ma-bob.
As far as the fever, we are all still clueless. Dennis' only signs of sickness are fever, lethargy, and snoring--- but it is enough to have made the last week one of the roughest. But at least, I am comforted to know that it is not due to Dennis incision site. The doctor wants to see Dennis in two weeks to make sure that his mouth is continuing to heal like it should.
Before Dennis had his first surgery, I couldn't understand why the doctor wanted to wait so long in between each one. But now, after seeing how hard this surgery has been on him and on all of us, I think it is a great idea to give Dennis a nice break before going through all of this all over again. I am also starting to rethink just how many surgeries I want to subject him too. Surgery is just so hard on any child. I know that there are surgeries that are in his best interest so that he could have the best chance at having normal speech and a less shocking appearance with his eye, but I highly doubt that we will pursue any surgeries just for purely cosmetic reasons, like on his nose, chest, or ears. Unless, Dennis chooses to when he is older, we are going to focus only on the absolute necessary surgeries.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Here is a recap of the past two days.
John came home early on Christmas eve. So he played Connect Four with the kids. Adam, Caleb, and John had fun battling for the championship. I think they all tied.
I got out plaster figurines and ceramic paint so the kids could paint.
The girls painted little Christmas ornaments and pins for Grandma and Grandpa.
We started the tradition of spending Christmas eve with Grandma and Grandpa back in 2005 when Anna and Sveta came home and we were living with them while our house was being remodeled and we have continued it every year since. Grandma and Grandpa came for dinner and then we opened presents with them.
Sveta isn't a big game player so she helped me by setting the table.
As hors d'oeuvres, I made bacon wrapped cream cheese jalapenos.
They were decadent---- melt in your mouth YUMMY!
And for dessert, I made a Kringle recipe that resembles Bear Claws---- again a tried and true recipe that is absolutely delicious!
After dinner, we exchanged gifts with Grandma and Grandpa.
It was cute to see what the girls got them. Crocheted Christmas ornaments, sweet handwritten letters, candy bars, and painted pins--- just to name a few.
They got a new hair dryer, hot curlers, and a curling iron to up their morning bathroom time. And so far, they have all shared their new girly things with each other.
All morning, Dennis was still lethargic as can be but he did let John dress him up in a cute little red shirt and vest for church where we held him the whole time.
Oh, poor Sveta. I explained and showed her how to tie her blanket over and over, but she still didn't get it. While I was helping another girl, she went and tied more than half of her blanket wrong. Instead of tying the two pieces of flannel together, she tied the solid color by itself. She was very disappointed when I told her that she would have to untie everything she had just tied and I had to send her to bed for five minutes so that she could calm down. Later that day, we retied it and then she traded her blue blanket for Julia's orange one.
Here is what the girls' room looks like now!
Dennis was not too happy when Anna stopped to pose for a picture with him.
Right before church, we ate cinnamon and orange rolls.
At 3:00pm my in-laws, and my Mom and sister joined us for a nice Christmas dinner. Grandpa splurged by buying two prime ribs--- all I had to do was cook them. My Mom brought tons of goodies for dessert which we all topped with whipped cream!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Eerie how the thought that I was going to lose Dennis today crossed my mind as I held him wrapped in his bloody clothes afraid that the stitches on his palate had ripped from a cough causing him to now bleed to death. The four or five minutes it took for the ambulance to get to our home seemed like an eternity as I was helpless to do anything but hold him.
I was met by a police officer who questioned me in the emergency room. He waited patiently till both Dennis and I were under control to ask me questions. Instantly he saw that this was not a case of abuse and left.
John got word that Dennis was in the hospital and came home to relieve our neighbor who sweetly came over to watch our kids for us. Soon John and all of the kids showed up at the hospital to support their baby brother. They each got to see him before John took them back home.
Dennis had chest and throat x-rays taken after having blood drawn for the second time. Then he was given I.V. fluids. Finally, he was sent home.
Here he is home just a few minutes. He was and still is very clingy.
I ate my lunch standing up so that I could hold Dennis. Later, he ate a bowl of pureed borscht with melted butter in it and then a small bowl of ice-cream.
Dennis isn't the only one under the weather. Caleb is going through a hard bout with Asthma right now. He is pretty dependent on his nebulizer. Hopefully, he will get a handle on it and he will get to enjoy some of his winter vacation.
Caleb and Adam are very close. They don't like to admit it, but this picture proves otherwise.
After resting for a few hours and having his medicine, Dennis actually got up to play. I thought it would be fun to try and get some Christmasy photos. Needless to say, Dennis was not to cooperative, but still managed to look adorable in the photos.
The rim of the hat felt funny so he kept looking up to see what was on his forehead.
Big sister finally rescued Dennis from the crazy Mama with the camera.
Andrew, Annalyn, Sveta, and Anna did a few science experiments this evening. One involved pepper and dish soap.