Monday, June 27, 2011

They're here

The kids are here. We are a week into a 10 day visit. Things are different this time. I am emotionally exhausted and we are definitely getting a glimpse of what life would be like with a traumatized 4 year old. Wow. She is pulling out all the stops. The baby is a gem. He is too young to have any of this affect him I guess. She has some serious issues to work through. Which we knew having already adopted a 3 year old. We've been-there-done-that. However, when we did that, we didn't have other kids to worry about. And we were 5 years younger.

This poor child. To have been through who knows what in her short 4 years. She didn't ask for - or deserve - any of this. In many ways, she acts like a teenager. In other ways, she acts younger than her age. Overall, I think she needs to be regressed and given the chance to start her childhood over, with a clean slate.

I'm not sure we're the people to do that.

But maybe we are.

When God calls, he calls the ordinary to do extraordinary things. Moses had a speech problem - and God called him to be a speaker. Noah was really old when he started building the ark. (Imagine how those knees must've ached!) Mary was a simple, unmarried girl who said yes to being the mother of Jesus. Paul was a dirty little sinner who hated Jesus and he ended up writing the majority of the New Testament.

Not sure what God is calling us to do with these children. Maybe it is what we have already done. Reach out to them and plant a seed. Maybe it is more than that. Since we are not sure, we are praying for a clear direction.

Crystal clear, please.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The visit that didn't happen

We were supposed to have the kids for a week long visit this week. All was well, until I met the social worker on Monday. The kids were with her, they were ready to come to my house. Luke and Emma were ready for a visit too.

And then I saw it. L-I-C-E. Ugh.

We knew they had it, I found them at the end of their visit here last week. I have been crazy all week. I mean CRA-ZY. We have done treatments just in case, I have scrubbed, vacuumed, bagged, tried every home remedy possible, and I've been combing through Emma and my hair like it's been nobody's business.

Thankfully, we have been spared. My head will never forgive me, but I don't care.

Unfortunately, the other kids are completely covered. How sad. Devastating, actually.

I have googled my brains out this week. The good news is - lice isn't a death sentence. They honestly pose no threat, they're just a nuisance. Not sure that I believe that, but that's what the experts in Google Land say.

I am now an expert on the life cycle of lice. Not something I ever wanted to add to my resume.

I guess we were fortunate to know we could've been infected before that life cycle exploded on our heads. Because we did the treatment right away, I'm sure we caught anything that could've been.

The other two kids aren't as fortunate. Their mom said she treated them - twice - and didn't know why they weren't clean. When our social worker asked more questions, it turns out she has no vacuum and no laundry facilities so she can't stop the problem. No matter how clean a head is - if you lay back down on the same pillow, the cycle starts all over again.

Our old pillows are in the garbage. She can't afford new pillows. Even if she could, she has no way to wash the pillow cases every night in hot water and dry them on high heat for at least 20 minutes. Yes... I said I am now a lice expert.

So after we found the lice, the social worker tried treating them. It wasn't working out so well. We went to a hair salon. Silly me, I thought they could treat us all and we could move on with our visit. Nope. That's against the law. Of course it is. But there was an extra nice stylist who put on some disposable gloves (different ones for each of us) and dug through our heads. Outside. She confirmed that Luke, Emma, and I were clean - but the other 2 were infested. She freaked out mildly and said, "You cannot have these kids interacting, the other 2 will be infested in no time flat."

And so we stood there in the parking lot wondering what to do. Part of me knew I couldn't bring them home. I knew I couldn't purposely throw Luke and Emma in harm's way.

But the other part of me just wanted to take them home, clean them up and make everything all better.

The social worker put them back in her van, apologized and said she promised she'd clean them up the next time they come. But she had to take them back home.

All 3 kids start to cry. (The baby was of course clueless.) They're all begging for this visit to happen. We tried to explain we would see each other again and we just couldn't visit right now. But they were all sad and confused.

I was too. And since everyone else was crying, I joined in.

It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. How could putting the key in the ignition, turning it, and putting the van in reverse be so hard? I could see her little face behind the tinted window of the social's worker's van. It was pressed up against the glass and she was waving like crazy.

My kids were crying, pushing their faces up against our glass, and waving back.

I was just trying to figure out how to get the tears gone so I could actually see out of my sunglasses. No wonder that stupid van wouldn't go in reverse. I couldn't even see reverse.

So now we wait. Again. I guess we should be getting good at this waiting thing by now. But somehow it still isn't easy...

Yes, the social worker could've had them cleaned up and ready to go again within a few days, but we are coming up on our vacation so we took the precaution to postpone another interaction until after we get back. I really didn't want to take lice with us on vacation. And I REALLY need a vacation.

I'm looking forward to frilly drinks in a big fishbowl-sized glass while enjoying the white sand and swimming with dolphins.

Sounds like heaven right about now.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Emma's garden party

We celebrated Emma's 5th birthday a week early today. We usually have her party as close to her birthday as we can, but we have a lot going on next weekend so... it's never too early for a party!

We had a garden party with her friends. My kids give me a theme that they want for their birthdays and then I think. And I google. I probably google more than I think to be honest. Then the party planner in me goes nuts... I totally love planning birthday parties for my kids! I mean - Love. It.

When she first said she wanted a garden party, I didn't know what to do besides plant flowers. Emma came up with some ideas. I did too :) - and we had a pretty good garden party if I do say so myself!

It was a total girl party. We had a ton of crafts. We made butterfly necklaces, snakes and spiders. We painted birdhouses. For a long time. I'm so used to Luke flying through everything even remotely craft-oriented. To see those girls take their sweet time painting, getting every detail worked out... It was amazing. I always thought it was an age thing - nope, 5 year old girs can really take their time!

They planted flowers. How cute that they actually put on the apron and gloves.

The nametags got a little wet from the watering but still served their purpose...

I only did snacks but I had lots to pick from. My favorite plate full of snacks was one of Emma's friends who put 3 gumballs on her plate and one pretzel stick. I tried to explain that she could take the whole cup of trail mix, but she insisted she just wanted one pretzel stick. Too cute.

Those are fruit flowers. And yes, they were hard to do! The flowers kept falling apart when I poked the skewer through them.

I named all of the foods to go with the garden theme. I guess that was more for my entertainment since preschoolers can't read! Maybe I get into this party stuff a bit too much??

Cupcakes with pinwheels stuck in them. Now that's talent. ha. If the wind blew lightly, they all spun around and looked really cute. However, there were a few wind gusts that made me a bit nervous - I was picturing them all blowing onto the ground because the pinwheels would REALLY spin then! Thankfuly, all made it.

Chow Mein Noodles covered in melted butterscotch chips with jelly beans as eggs. Stolen idea from the internet :)

Of course we sang happy birthday and had cupcakes and ice cream.

Emma was the first one to pull a string on the pinata and she pulled it open the very first try. I put bouncy balls in it - whoops, they were bouncing everywhere.

And we played some games...

Dig for Bugs (plastic ones in the sand table)

Pin the tail on the bunny was Emma's idea. She was so proud to paint the bunny and make the tails.

Fill up the Watering Cans Race... Which worked out really well - when they were full, the spouts started sprinkling. I didn't even test that ahead of time, it was perfect.

Wheelbarrow Races (also Emma's idea)

We also played butterfly hopscotch and plant the flower (we turned a frisbee into a flower and they had to throw it into the pot).

Most of the girls were from her preschool. The sad thing is, we won't see them again. They've already graduated from preschool and everyone is going to kindergarten at different schools. How sad. Our school district is really big (we have 11 elementary schools) so they won't come together again until junior high. Will they even remember each other by then?

These girls have been her life for 8 months now - but life goes on. Of course I don't want her to stay in preschool forever - I mean, I don't - really I don't! Well, okay, maybe just for a little longer..... Isn't ironic how whatever life is at the time, you think that's all there is. All Emma knows right now is preschool and these friends. Of course life is so much bigger than that! Wait until she sees that!

Oh wait, I got distracted and sentimental... birthday party, I was talking about her birthday party!

Her bedtime prayer summed up the day: "Thank you for the goodest day ever!"

It sure was the goodest party day ever. Until next year, baby girl - I promise.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Logistics - check!

We had the kids again this weekend - well, for an extended weekend. We had them for 5 days this time. It was nice to see them again! We picked up right where we left off - in fact, it was much better this time. I guess we've gotten used to each other just a bit. Things were a little more familiar than the first visit we had together. For all of us.

Managing 4 kids was actually pretty easy. Joe joked that we had to play zone defense instead of man-to-man. I am honestly surprised how easy it was - dare I say it: it felt natural and quite normal. Neither of us felt overwhelmed.

Yes, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. Yes, we still need more time to be sure. And yes, nothing is a done deal - on either side. But logistically, this is definitely doable.

We are thankful for the time we had together. And we are thankful that things are becoming a bit clearer.

The mom has already agreed to another visit next week. We'll see if that actually happens. I was expecting her to disappear again. But she told the social worker she is interested in moving forward. We shall see.

More time together would definitely be a good thing. That could offer more clarity. And seeing clearly when making life-changing decisions is a good thing. A very good thing.

And so we still move forward in faith... not knowing what tomorrow holds, but knowing the Holder of tomorrow.

I honestly can't wait to see where this is all going. There has already been so many blessings along the way. Regardless of what the end result is - we have already seen some purpose in this journey.

Sometimes it's not about where you're going, but how you get there....
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