Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Good and the Bad

I made macaroni salad this morning.  As I was boiling the pasta I remembered that I needed to add hard boiled eggs as well.  Then I had an epiphany-- why not add the eggs to the boiling pasta?  How genius is that?  I would normally get out two pots-- one for the pasta and one for the eggs-- instead one pot worked for both. 
Yes, two of the eggs cracked when I gently placed them in the boiling water because they were cold, but they were fine.
The salad turned out great too.
So, why did I start my blog post with this little story?
Well, in case you haven't noticed, I haven't blogged in a while.  Sure I have thrown up some pictures and called it a post, but I haven't really taken the time to sit down and write.
Honestly, my heart has just not been in it.
Oh don't get me wrong.  I have thought about writing many times, but I have remained hesitant for the most part.
What can I say?
Do you want to hear the good stuff?  The bad stuff too?
A little of both?
I can tell you about the time I found one of my kids covered in poop-- while on vacation.  The floor, toilet, toilet paper dispenser, wall-- you name it-- everything was covered.
It was a nightmare.
My mother-in-law helped me to clean it up, bless her heart.
Just the other day something very similar happened.
I wish I was the kind of Mom who could just laugh at the whole mess.  Or at least bite my tongue.  That would be nice. 
Or I can tell you about the moments where I caught a glimpse of some of the older kids hanging out with each other. 
Or when Caleb took six of his siblings to the community pool just so they could all use the high dive.
Or how about when Jonny got stung while we were on vacation.  Or just a few days  ago... again.  I swear that boy is a bee magnet.  We have an Epi-pen just in case, but we haven't had to use it yet. Praise the Lord-- right?   Instead his foot swelled up like a balloon.
But I'll take that any day over him having trouble breathing.
 And what about when Adam and I went car shopping a few months ago.  The 2nd day and 13th hour into car shopping we found ourselves test driving a little red car... until it broke down.  The owner of the little car lot was not with us-- talk about making memories.   We shared a soda in the parking lot of a liquor store while we waited for someone to come and jump the battery.  Let's just say that we didn't test drive any more cars on that lot. 
Thankfully, a few days later Caleb saw a car for sale while driving down the freeway.  It was a great price and checked out with our mechanic, so Adam bought it-- his very own car-- a 1996 metallic green Ford Thunderbird.
How cool is that?
I also had a crown replaced a few weeks ago.  I probably received fifteen or so shots of Novocain.  And then some more when it began to wear off before the dentist was done.  My left jaw was in pain for three weeks. 
I can also share about the every day battles I have with the kids about chores, electronics, modesty, and not succumbing to the desires of this world.  This alone is hard, and something most people just don't understand.
It's a constant war.
Not so much with my kids, but against the world.
The world has its own morals, standards, and emphasizes-- "If it feels good..."  "What is it going to hurt..."  "It's just part of the American dream." 
Our kids are bombarded with billboards, covers of magazines in the doctor's office, the internet, movies, tv shows, etc. 
Life seems to be a constant comparison.
"What is she wearing?"
"Why does he get to do that?"
"He has that."
"At least I'm not watching that."
John and I want more for our kids.
We want them to grow up yearning for something more fulfilling, wholesome, and fruitful than what most of today's world has to offer.  At the same time, we want to have balance as to not push our children away.
This alone is a full time job.
We were watching one of the Love Comes Softly movies and one of the girls commented on how beautiful the women looked even though they were covered from the neck down in pioneer garb.  That is because their natural beauty was not overshadowed by their cleavage, skin, or provocative dress.  At least that is the conclusion we drew.
Balance that with the girls wanting to "fit in", "dress cute", and "be in style" and you can see the challenge.
Another challenge is helping our children who are transitioning into adulthood.  For most of them this includes getting a driver's license, graduating high school, getting a job, and moving onto college.  For a few, the path is looking very different.
Today I took Sveta to get her identification card at the DMV.   All was good until an elderly man asked Sveta if she was getting her picture taken for her driver's license.
She didn't really know what to say, and though I tried to answer the best I could, I realized that most people just don't understand.
It's not that people are being mean, because this elderly man didn't have a mean bone in his body, but it's just that it looks like she should be driving and doing all the things that kids her age are supposed to be doing-- and she's not.
Because she can't. 
Oh how I wish for her with all my heart that she could, but how can you do something that you can't comprehend?
But we move forward and focus on what she can do.
She recently applied for her first real job.
Caleb helped her to fill out the application.
John had countless practice interviews with her.
She had her interview along with three of her sisters.
If nothing comes of it, at least she was able to experience filling out an application and going on an interview.
If I were to be as real as real can get I would tell you the struggles we continue to have with one particular child.   Just when I think things are turning a corner, I hit a brick wall.  If we have zero expectations then life is good, but as you all know, life does not work like that. 
These struggles go above and beyond the normal parenting stuff.  Back talk-- I can handle.  The occasional lie-- bring it on.  The junk food sneaking-- even I remember doing it as a kid.   
What's hard is constant disobedience-- which I call living in opposite land.
To have a child do one thing when they know you are watching but the complete opposite the second you turn around is exhausting.  Praying, hoping that today will be a turning point only to realize that the only way things will get better is for you to change.  At first worrying what the school will think of your parenting because of how your child behaves only to find comfort that the school sees the same exact behaviors and you indeed are not crazy.
It's hard folks.  And so often no matter what I do, I have this huge feeling of failure. 
I pretend to hide it well, but it's there.
What's worse is that Satan takes that and runs.  He makes me feel like I am the only one. 
It's a tough subject... I surprised myself that I actually shared.
  I would also tell you how hard it is to help a child rise above their emotional immaturity.  This past year has been a real eye opener as to how emotions can keep a child stuck in a certain place unable to move on.   They physically get older but emotionally they stay the same.    We desperately want to help them grow up, but they just aren't ready.  We are delicately addressing this especially with the start of the new school year, so I am encouraged.  Making it through the rest of the summer however, will be interesting to say the least.
On the other hand, there have been just as many smiles as there has been trials.
Oliver is potty training.  He is not afraid of the toilet.  He loves to use the potty.  He will go pee and poo in the potty no problem.  The catch-- he has not quite figured out that he needs to walk to the toilet when he feels the urge.  So, it's a hit or miss.  If we don't catch every time he needs to go, he will wet his diaper.  Still, at just three years old, I think this is a good start.
Since we are on the topic of Oliver, I can also happily share that he no longer sleeps in a crib.  He sleeps in the room that he shares with his brothers.  Yay!
Another smile is with Nolan.  Early on in the summer he was a bear.  He was throwing a tantrum at every nap time and every time out.  The tantrums were loud and ugly.  There were times I was pretty loud and ugly myself.   I thought I tried everything short of pulling my hair out.  You don't know how many times I wanted to just give in to him and let him up or avoid the nap altogether.   Instead, I kept telling him that until he stopped acting that way, I would randomly put him to bed to "practice" how nap time should be.  One day we practiced 7 or 8 times.  Each time I talked to him at the level I know he understands.  Pretty soon he was just being extra noisy/rambunctious really early in the morning. It was then that I would take him into bed with me and snuggle with him till we fell back asleep.  One day, and I can't even really pin point it, things just changed with him.  The tantrums pretty much stopped-- not 100% but close.  And Nolan began showing more affection to both John and me.  I'm not sure if it was the consistency, the added cuddling or a mixture of all three, but whatever the case, it certainly makes me smile.  Just this past Sunday he made sure to kiss the both of us goodbye as he went to his Sunday school class.
I think that is pretty neat.
Thank you to a blog reader named Peggy who took the time to email me today.
It was very thoughtful and encouraging.


  1. Loved your post! I deal with so many of the same issues with Dee. I feel very alone when I am in the chaos. Prayers to you and your family.

  2. Thank you so much for this post of honesty, reality and just plain from the heart. Today is th day I needed to hear ALL of it. God's timing is perfect.
    Thank you!

  3. You and John have chosen to be parents to so many children and you are both doing an AMAZING job. Those kids are loved and cared for. The very fact that you think it's hard to teach them these things is a sign that you are an incredible mom! So many moms don't even consider the ramifications of all the things your kids are facing. You do. You're looking at their future and doing your best to steer them toward the right path.

    Now, there does come a point when you can't steer them anymore and they have to fly on their own. That happens with every kid. They all will make their mistakes, some worse than others. But they're going to know that you guys are there for them when they fall. I don't think it's ever easy for parents to watch their kids make mistakes, but you have given them all a firm foundation in life and they will use that.

    Christine, things aren't always going to be perfect, but seriously, you are awesome. I know I didn't even begin to appreciate my mom until I had kids of my own and I suspect your more difficult children may take a bit to appreciate you, but they will! They will look back on their childhood and realize that you taught them this way for a reason. And they will realize how important it was in shaping their lives. Hang in there!

    P.S. Pretty sure no mom laughs about the poop incidents until years and years later. ;)

  4. When reading this I felt like I was hearing about some of my own blessings. There are times where I just cling to God with every ounce of strength I can. I find myself circling and bathing my kids in prayer. It beautiful (the triumphs) and harder than anything I've ever done. I'd love to pray more specifically for you as I go into my daily prayer. If you feel comfortable with that I'll privately give you my email and number. I'm about to take a deep breath and dive in again. Thank you for continuing to reality and beauty.

  5. Love this post, Christine. Praying for you and loving you from afar because we have many of the same struggles (not driving yet, thankfully!).

  6. I admire your strength, courage, love and honesty. I am honored to call you friend. I endure the same trials, but try to bask in the smiles. I pray for us all who are loving and raising kids from hard places who cannot move forward until much healing and growth can take place.


  7. Share what you feel led to share good or bad. Some of us are walking the same walk and we get it. There will always be those who read just to criticize and they obviously have their own problems. I hope you eventually get a break through with the one who are having problems with. If not, just don't take it personally and let it be about his choices. I have been telling one this week that no, I can't make you write the verses you were assigned for continual lying, but I can make sure you don't get any privileges until you do. So we sat in a very hot car during her hip hop class while the others went in and had fun. It's all about choices.

  8. I think it's great to blog about the real stuff and you've been very discrete about it which is good, I'm sure from your kids point of view. These kinds of posts help other parents feel that they are not alone in their struggles and that is important.

  9. Thank you for your honest post. My 16 year old son has been very trying at times this past year. I feel alone at times when I see my friends kids doing well in school. However my eyes opened up earlier this summer when a family I know who I thought had it all together and a crisis with their honors college student. People may show like they have it all together, but truthfully who really does.

  10. Encouraged by your blog. As a mom of an adopted son hitting his teens and many foster kids it is encouraging to hear the ups and downs and what you do or try to do. It gives me hope and I'm glad I'm not alone in my struggles. You aren't alone either. Blessings to you.

  11. I almost threw the eggs in with the macaroni last night - but then suddenly I worried that however I might wash them, perhaps they'd been treated in some way or with something that wouldn't wash off and would be harmful. In retrospect that doesn't make sense, I guess - and the fact that you didn't report any deaths is a good sign.

    If the child who is constandly oppositional is one of the adopted ones (or even if not) that behavior most often comes from a deeply held (subconscious) fear of not being taken care of, that came from experience. It is hard to erase the experience of abuse of neglect from the subconscious. A person experienced in trauma therapy might be helpful, or just your own curious and accepting (or the fear) questioning to help the child perhaps come to understand this on his/her own. I've seen Anastasia make absolutely incredible leaps in therapy.

    I can put your not writing down to the tooth ache. Something like that can take such a toll, even while seeming like something we should be "forgetting about". I hope it is better now!

  12. Aww Christine, you're a terrific mom. There couldn't be any ups without any downs, its just like light, if there wasn't darkness then light wouldn't be light. You have terrific kids, and as far as the poop thing goes...thats actually kinda funny when u look back on it and the stress of it has passed. I been through stuff like that with my little cousins, or even my fiancé's little nephews, in fact just the other day her 3 year old nephew thought it was funny to pee on me when i was carrying him on my shoulders lol.

    Keep your head up, your a solider of christ, and i gotta admit you're at the top of ur class!

  13. I love your honesty here!! You are an incredible mom, you truly are!! By sharing your struggles you are letting lots of parents out there know they are not alone in their struggles. I am so glad you had a breakthrough with Nolan, how cute that he made sure to kiss you both:) I hope in time you do have a breakthrough with some of your other children. ((((hugs))))

  14. Thank you for sharing your struggles. It is so very appreciated!! I would love to chat with you about Sveta. My just turned 5 year old from St Petersburg. Looks wonderful in every way....however learning is not her thing. It took her forever to learn her colors and now she can't learn her letters....she can sing the alphabet but she can't learn her letters. She has no judgement. She constantly has major lapses in judgement. Yesterday we were getting ice cream. A family tied their dog up and went inside. Gracie went right over and untied the dog??????? She will ask as we are driving in the car on a beautiful day "Is it raining?"...Who knows what is going on in that poor traumatised child's brain. ANyway, does any of this sound familiar? All the best, Sarah

  15. I hate to be a downer on the egg and pasta thing... It is something I used to do, until my mother told me that you shouldn't do it because the egg shells can often be dirty i.e. poo, feathers, etc. That is all going on your pasta if you boil them together!!

  16. This is a great post! It is hard to share both the trials and the smiles. I'm so behind on blogging. I need to update on all the kids and its just not happening. I want my blog to write itself. And by the way, thank you for your comment my my recent post.

  17. Just a book recommendation. There is a delightful Christian sexologist who gives talks to kids and parents. She has written a book called Ten Sex by the Book. Her name is Dr Patricia Weerakoon. She is hilarious and brilliant. Here's a link to her book.

  18. Hi! Life is full of ups and downs and your family has more ups than downs. You and John are doing a great job with the children you have you should hug John and yourself. Blessing, Pat

  19. I pray that you will have the energy and health to stay on top of parenting! It is interesting to hear the trials of Smiles and Trials so I can better pray for you!

  20. Sarah,what your daughter shows are symptoms of FAS ( i am russian , have 7 kids ,4 adopted from russia , 2 of them have FAS its a constant battle and it doessnt get easier ( regarldless of your efforts.
    i honestly think its easier to take care of Down Syndrome child than one with FAS
    Christine !! thank you for your post , its helpful to know we all have ups and downs ) i felt failing many times , it gets easier if i accept situation as given and accept the fact that sometimes i am not capable to change the childs actions , only my views on those actions

  21. Wow. so can relate to this post. I have not been motivated to post on my blog much either. It's hard to write when the progress towards healthy growth in our kiddos is so slow! Sadly, I'm one of those moms who has had MORE than her share of those poop stories. . . I'm actually on a trip away from my needy kids taking a bit of a break and asking the Lord for a new perspective and a new sense of courage. While I've been away my sister is getting a dose of what it is like to be mom to my hurting kids. One even smashed the kitchen window to show her how angry he was... sigh. May God give us grace.

  22. I just landed an extra gig teaching Catholic religion class to 11 year olds. Im so excited to teach these kids about Christ. I was wondering if you ever thought about teaching BSF?

  23. Thanks for your post, I struggle with some of the things you wrote about. Reading other comments I see I am not alone.

  24. Thank you so much for sharing these things with us. It's very encouraging. I only have one so far, and he's only six months old, but I have days where I think "this is easy! I got this!" and days where I think "I'm terrible at this! Nothing I do makes him happy and I'll never be able to handle more!" You are right--the latter stuff is the enemy. Satan would like nothing better than for me to feel discouraged about lots of things, especially my parenting, in the midst of our adoption process. Phooey on that. We can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us!!

    Peace be with you,

    P.S. Thanks again for referring us to Laurel. She's great! :)

  25. I always bung the eggs in with the pasta, works well for us. And I figure they're being boiled for 10 minutes or so which should kill anything nasty!

    And... I could have written much of your post, with just two children. Sometimes there's almost too much life happening all at once, isn't there? And blogging the triumphs seems dishonest when there are so many struggles. But blogging the trials seems to be raining on the parade of those triumphs.

    It's just life. Messy, glorious life.

    Good to hear from you again. Oh - and on the code brown front, I remember one holiday when I woke in the morning to find a foster child had redecorated the bedroom of the caravan in the only substance they had to hand - themselves, the bed, the walls and window... We do smile now!

  26. Thanks for taking the time to sit, focus, and write. Sometimes I come to your blog because in spite of the trials, you have such a good attitude, and other times I read because I am in awe of you and I just want to catch up. But mostly, what shines through is your attitude and trust in the Lord.

    I have four kids, just one adopted and challenging. Of course, delightful, too, but exhaustingly difficult to keep up a positive attitude and hold my tongue when every piece of me wants to be spewing right back.

    Ours was younger than five when he was adopted and it is amazing the attitudes he picked up (he is deaf, so everything came in through the eye-gate) before he came home to us. He has completely different values from the rest of us and cannot see the baseness of his attitude. We are praying for him - desperately - because we cannot change his heart. Only God can and we are waiting and expecting great things, knowing that we may have to wait longer than the average to help him find his success.

    The family really is the best place for these kids to be and I am so thankful for you because you are willing to welcome many of these into your home and work on whatever comes up and accept the damage the children bring and embrace the outcome as it unfolds.

    Blessings to you!

  27. Thanks so much for sharing. It is good to know weare not alone in the trials we go thru. May God continue to bless you and your family and give you encouragement and strength.

  28. I love reading your blog wether you are talking about smiles or trials. You show your heart in your writing, the mama heart that just loves her kids and husband, wants the best for them and is showing them Jesus.
    I am the blessed mother of triplets, 2 boys and 1 girl. I came in one morning to find them covered in poop and the cribs too. It was obvious that two of them had also been throwing poop at each other. They were 2 and it was the second time. So i gave each one a cloth and had them clean their cribs. Mean mama i am. The kids think it's funny and tell people(they are 7) i think it's embarressing and wish they would forget that story. Not ready to laugh yet.
    I so relate to what you were saying about emotional immaturity. My step daughter is 25, but emotionally she is maybe 18 on a good day, but honestly usually 16. I find it hard to treat her like an adult and yet still talk to and help her work things out when in so many ways she is still a child and always will be. She doesn't seem to learn from things. I have been having the same conversations about dating, values, not getting drunk every weekend, treating others how you'd like to be treated and once you say something mean you can't take it back for the last 8 yrs. She wants the kind of relationship her dad and i have(solid, based on respect, not fighing,fun loving, Christ following)but won't take any of the steps needed to have it for her self. She is now pregnant with her first child and neither she or her live in boyfriend have a job. So i guess the conversations will continue as well as my MANY grey hairs.
    Keep being you Hon and write what ever feels right for you and know that we your readers will be cheering you on. Kingdom buiding work is hard. There is a story about about a guy carving a bird in the rafters of a cathedral in Paris. A guy having a look around, asked the carver why he was carving the bird so high that the roof would block it. the carver replied that God sees. You are building a Cathedral in each of your beautiful children, and on the hard days know that He sees the bird your carving in their lives. It is something i try to remember on the hard days it helps me, praying it does for you too.

  29. Christine, Hey not sure if it will help but it is only $99 and I am very surprised that more of our doctors dont test for it. (we did not use our real names ect just in case it the privacy statement is not honored but it appears it was) They send you a spit container and then do genetic testing. After years of autoimmune diseases, my doc suggested it. Without knowing anything about Garretts past, we did his too. Turns out he has a rare gentic disorder so he cannot process B12 --- started a special pre-processed form of B12 - and the allergies stopped, the infetigo is gone and the precocious puberty stalled. My results were much more complex but making huge steps for improvement since we now have real idea of how my body processes different than expected.
    The interesting thing is that so much of my emotions and behavior were noted as impacted by these genetic mutations, my troubled teen years, by explosive nagging personality, ect... all opened up a different understanding for me. What foods trigger it, what my body is strugglign with. It was more than worth the $99 test any Doc has every sent me for. Just a thought, hope it helps with Mr. Challenge.
    (PS after you get the full results log into and it will interpret the mutations from scientific verbage to lay person english).


I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.