Monday, September 22, 2014

Parenting the Unattached...Part 1 Empathy

Over the last few years we have been in a deep struggle, some weeks better than others, some weeks far worse than I could have ever imagined. The struggle can be blinding. Those of us who battle the days with the ever exhausting behaviors that many cannot fathom are easily overcome with feelings of self-righteousness or despair.
 
 We often lose sight of the humanity that encompasses the child with which we are struggling. Maybe this can help to build empathy, help to see the person behind the behavior, and to bring us all back to the reality with which satan is ever trying to get us to forget. All people are worth love and being loved.
 
Tanner was born December 27, 2004. He arrived in a world that would never understand him, to a mother that would discard him. He was placed into an orphanage, an innocent baby in a third world country, with a defect rendering him "worthless."
 
As a baby, no one came to Tanner to answer his cries of distress, no one sat and cuddled him, offering him the gentle caress of reassurance. He did not know the safety and joy of a mother's response. He did not know the comfort of a father's protective arms.
 
Tanner lived among other children, all destitute, all ignored. He didn't have the same brain connections that other children had. It was hard to understand things, and often he was hit because of his delayed development. Food was sparse, and often Tanner was not fed. He was hungry. He would cry himself to sleep in hunger. No mother to hug him, no one to love him.
 
All alone, sometimes hurt from physical abuse and suffering from illness.
 
No one cared about Tanner. A small boy with mixed understanding, but very knowing that no one loved him. He just wanted someone to talk to him. He just wanted someone to look at him. "Here I am, please look at me. Know me." And so he began to do things to get noticed, often mean and horrible things.
 
Because being hit is better than never being looked at. Getting smacked is better than being void of touch from another. Any attention is better than being as good as dead to everyone.
 
  And thus, pain became comfort to this small vulnerable boy.
 
I have this broken into parts. This is the beginning of just one child's story. My child. A child with whom I struggle to parent every single day. God is our healer though, and after years of doing it wrong, I believe we are beginning to see the light. The first step to parenting a child is empathy. Do not get lost in the struggle and forget empathy, for I feel empathy is the key to Christian love. Tanner's life did change, he did get that mother and father, but everything was far from well. The story continues....

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I don't wanna be rich!

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I have been doing a bit of soul searching over the last six months. As you all know, the past two years have been a struggle for me. Heck y'all, the first 29 years of my life were a struggle.

 I am lifted up now though, God is good to me.

 My soul is learning to be at peace with who I am.  It's hard to let go of that sinner and accept forgiveness and grace from the Lord.  To value yourself as a daughter of the King.

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A lot of why this blog has gone so slowly over the last few years is due to God working on my soul. I felt as though I was failing at life. We have openly struggled with our kids' issues from being orphans, but I'm not sure people understand just how devastating it can be for both the children and the parents. I'm not sure people understand how much failure one can feel for not being able to just awesomely mesh.   I also felt like I needed to do it all. My kids needed to eat as healthy as possible, I needed to make everything from scratch, I needed to be as natural as possible, I needed to use only the best home school programs, and I needed to some how educate Anna and Tanner perfectly to make up for lost time.  Not to mention, keep the house scrubbed, make our soaps and body care stuff, make herbal medicines, farm, garden, etc......the list could go on and on and on.

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I couldn't blog, couldn't share, because I failed at it all.

I couldn't do it all....and if I couldn't do it all, then I felt like I had failed.

And then God sent Zeke.

During my pregnancy, Tanner struggled the most. He and I spent many days at odds, many days in tears, and I was so worn down that I couldn't keep up with everything. I wanted to be super mom, I mean this is my job, and I do take it seriously.

BAM!

God sent us some very humbling experiences. Things that I never imagined would happen to me, and that lead to some amazing blessings. There truly is beauty in the ashes. I learned to forgive freely. I learned to accept God's grace, and to extend it to others. I learned that keeping God as my center focus, and opening myself up to Him shining through me, is the most important thing.

The first thing I pray when waking up is this, "Lord let them see You in me."

I don't have to be perfect, but if they can just get a glimpse of the Lord in me each day, then I have succeeded. 

I urge you all to try this.  It's amazingly freeing.  Screw up, say a curse word, raise your voice...it's okay, don't throw in the towel.  Stop and pray.  Let them see You in me. 

It will change you.

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Let me tell ya, I am loving life. I have said that before, just after having Zeke, and it still holds true. I don't have to do it all. I have FIVE kids, I can't do it all.  I do not soak my grains before feeding it to the kids. I grind up the flour the day I make bread and I just make it. I also joined Cotsco (holla if you love bulk toilet paper), and the kids eat a gallon of organic animal crackers each month....I'm okay with that.

 I do not feel guilt over my lack of gardening abilities. It's why I have the hubs. He finds peace in the garden.

 I also took a few months of formal teaching off from Anna and Tanner, and I just played with them. I just bonded with them. I didn't worry about their progress, their speech, their regressions, I just played and let them play. And they progressed more than they did in the first few years. They are amazing. Tanner still has SO many struggles. I'll post tips about that for others, and tell the successes we have had later on.  That time is precious to me now, I learned more about my kids, and how to accept the situations and deal effectively. 

I learned not to worry about the horrible repercussion of going somewhere or enjoying fun that will ultimately result in regression.  That leads to isolation, the lonely special needs parent.  I just take it as it comes, we have fun, we deal, we move on.  I learned to accept our special circumstances and not feel guilty because we do things differently. 

When I pass away, I want people to think of me as I truly am.  Not a saint, not some lie about doing it all, measuring up to some wonder mom worldly standard, no...I want them to see me as I see this woman.

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That's my Mawmaw.  She's beautiful.  She's quiet, meek, funny, wonderful, and she does everything prayerfully.  She wasn't the perfect mother, she didn't stay home, homeschool, wear only dresses, never curse, or get all domesticated in the house (although she cleans like no one's business, I'd probably be fine eating off her bathroom floor), but she is amazingly Godly.  I see Him in her. 

All of her "accomplishments" will one day be forgotten. Her love of God and her family will not.

I have struggled with not measuring up, not being successful, not working out of the home, not finishing my degree (I did all but my last 16 hours of student teaching remember..yeah I have like 150-ish college credits), not being the most patient, creative, activity filled mom.  I blogged there for a while to keep a tally of my accomplishments, for myself to "see" that I was doing stuff.  For me to feel as though I had met some measure of worth that really didn't matter.  It felt wrong.  I stopped.

I couldn't figure out how to be at peace with my lack of desire to be everything that makes someone "somebody" in this world that we live in, but also keep myself true to God's calling.  I love to sew, create things, write here, and dye my yarn.  I'm not sure if I really want to sell it, that seems to be everyone's thoughts, and I thought it was mine.  I don't want my blog to be business like, or to be some list of accomplishments or facade about a life that I don't really lead. 

I then came to an amazing revelation.

I don't wanna be rich, successful, or wonder mom.

I want to be remembered as someone "they" went to for prayer, someone they see Him in, someone who lives and breathes 1 Timothy 6:11-12.  Fight the good fight of faith.

I want to seek God, live for God, and glorify God in my works.  So I can share stuff here that I enjoy, stuff about the kids, successes or failures, and be a living testimony.  That is my new direction here, not a list of "things" to see, but a place to share my true joy of life.  My love of doing what I was made to do.

Being a wife, a mom, a light for Him......and crafting cute things every now and then :)  It's okay to love life, even if life is ugly, God is still there.  It's okay to not have your crap together, God still loves you...and me.  So, I'm probably never going to be rich by worldly standards, I'm probably never going to be successful, but I do hope and pray that my legacy will live on as one of unwavering faith in Him, a legacy of love, a legacy of doing what is right.

Besides...I'm already rich.  I did mention that I have FIVE kids right....I'm so rich in love I'm swimming in it :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dream Come True!

I like to post what I've sewn over the weekend for my first of the week post, but something else happened this weekend that was UH-MAZING!!!!

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You see, God has been working on my husband over the last five years. I've said before that John was against organized religion, and said that if we ever had kids I would not be "brainwashing" them. I loved him and married him anyway though. Aside from his religious beliefs, John was the most wonderful man.

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I never pushed him or nagged him, but I did pray for him. We had our rough times, a few years of make it or break it marriage turmoil, but in the end we actually survived. Not only that, but God moved our lives in a complete 180 direction from the way we had planned it.

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  He sent us to Ukraine.

We own property in another part of our state, we had planned to build a home there. However, after having Anna and Tanner home for a year, we had an inkling to look around.  We knew that we could not build a home very quickly.

 
It was kind of an "oh my gosh we need more space with all of this chaos" moment. Then the following weekend this home just happened to come on the market. This home in a county I NEVER would have moved to, just happened to be marked down around $100,000 for quick sale. This home just appeared out of nowhere, and we just happened to find it, and it just happened to be exactly what my husband needed to finally find peace.

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We were transplanted. Thankfully we found a church that appealed to John, and over the last three years, God has been moving around in our house. We had a breaking point with one of our kids, they have been struggling so much, we needed God in a bad way. John was invited to see a play, and thought this particular child could use it. He went hoping to reach our child, and found himself to be the one who God was calling.

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This past Sunday, John was baptized!

 At one point in our lives, I would have thought this would never happen, and here we are. A dream come true, my husband will be in Heaven. Our family has a man of faith to lead us.  My children have a man of faith to guide them through the rest of their lives, and that is no small thing my friends.  We need more men of faith to guide our youth.

  As a side note: When I was a little girl, I used to dream of being a part of one of "those" families. You know the ones where they all went to church, they were kind, they were involved and did family stuff.

 As an adult I see things more complexly, and I know that what I wanted as a girl was only a sliver of reality. We bought a minivan this past week, and yesterday my husband who had been saved in weeks past and just that day baptized, drove our five kids and myself home from church. That was a little girl's dream come true. 

My heart rejoices in John accepting Christ.  My home is forever changed, God took the many struggles and dark times of the last 12 years, and gave them all a purpose.

Amazing.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Anna is TEN!

All of my planned posts this week were delayed, we had an unfortunate vehicle and rock incident.  A new vehicle has been procured and all is well, so on to the awesome-ness.  I am combining my Sew What Weekend from last week with my post on my awesome Anna Banana.
5 years ago this little girl right here:

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Yeah, that little girl, she lived in an orphanage in Ukraine.

  She lived in her own little world where the reflection from a mirror was her best friend.

This little girl would sit and rock back and forth, singing to herself, rocking, sucking on her hands that couldn't properly grasp small items.

  This little girl was locked away in her mind, she was trained to do tricks, and she was void of the knowledge of just how awesome it is to be in a family.

Fast forward.... Happy Birthday Anna!!!!!
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This little girl who is now 10!  Well, she's quite different from that other little girl.  She is able to do all kinds of things, she doesn't rock back and forth, she is a big sister, a helper, a lover of animals.  She is amazing and she is 10 as of last Monday.  I know, I can't believe it either, she's so different from that other little girl. 

She's modeling her birthday outfit that I had sewn for her.  I tried my hand at making leggings since they are a modesty necessity, and I used a shipwrecked Mickey print.  She loves everything I make and is always absolutely thrilled to get the clothes straight from the machine.  She's as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, our lives are definitely enriched by having Anna as a part of our family.

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I know one little girl who would be absolutely lost without her big sister, for though they are 8 years apart, they are the best of friends.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Baby Gear

There are a lot of products out there for babies.  I'm a total contradiction to myself when it comes to kid items.  I absolutely believe in less is more, that less stimulation is key, that creative toys are simple and draw creativity.....

But I love toys so so so much!

I know, I know, I'm awful.  As we've become parents to more children, I really am finding that my original ideas for creative toys are the way to go.  Less is more.

So, while we have a large exersaucer in the garage that Grace used, I decided to find something that wasn't so "in your face" and that could be more portable.  We are often in different rooms of the house for school, cooking, family time, and then outside a lot during the warmer weather.

Insert the Go-Pod

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I love this thing. I found this one on Amazon, it is a seat for babies, that is portable, and you can add your own toys to it.

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I bought a haba wooden ring, a haba caterpillar, and a rubber teething toy to attach to ours. The go-pod is easy to clean, very light and portable, and it has a covering for the ground so that it can be used outside. It doesn't have a bunch of hard plastic toys that the baby could bump his head on, and it doesn't make a bunch of obnoxious noises. I love it! It is exactly what we were looking for.

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Zeke loves it as well, he is happily chowing down on some toys. This is a time of chewing all objects for him, so easy access to chewy things are a plus in his book.


Now, as previously stated, I am a contradiction to myself.  It is possible that in the future, you will all see pics of Zeke in a pink exersaucer.  We do have one in the garage from when Grace was a baby.  However, I am really loving this go-pod.  There are no toys to be barfed on, no hidden places for crumbs to hide, it isn't ginormous, and it allows me to pick the toys he has access to. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just Call Me Doula!

Our newest doe is pregnant.....STILL! This is crazy ya'll, she should have popped those (hopefully two) goats out by now. We are unfortunately no where near a vet, so we are waiting. In our waiting I enlisted the help of my biggest boy there. He was doula for a day.

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He took Sierra our momma goat out of the fenced area, put her on her leash, and walked her....er...she walked him?

 Yes, that is a pregnant goat butt and an 8 year old boy in shorts, his mother's muck boots, and a winter coat.

 We are ALL over some fashion in these parts of the woods.

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He did a fantastic job caring for her. In my mind, I thought walking her might stimulate labor, I mean, that is what they tell humans to do. He also sat with her for two hours to give her company, read to her, and even gave her a good brushing.

  However, all of his efforts were for nothing, she has yet to pop.

Soooo..... I called in reinforcements. My biggest girl to the job.

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She took Sierra for another walk. I'm starting to think that Sierra is holding out on delivering just to get the walks. Our goats are like super awesome dogs, and they do love to come out and walk, and eat stuff, and give goat kisses.

Oh well, what can I do, anyone have any goat labor advice?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sew What Weekend!

In the last few months I have been really focusing on my sewing.  It is very stress relieving to sew, and I'm learning so many new skills.  I am completely self taught....as I almost failed my sewing project in high school home ec....she actually laughed at my shorts.

I don't blame her, they did have legs that were two inches different.

Anywho, I usually sew on the weekends, John works then, and I am not busy doing school with the kids.  I like to do my baking on Saturday mornings and then sew in the evenings of the weekend.

Weekend party animal over here!

  It is a challenge to sew new things and learn new skills, and I must admit that I love it!  I love to learn anything new, and I love that I can create things that are useable.  I must tell you though, now that I'm learning to make clothes better, I am highly critical of things at the store.  I cannot believe how poorly constructed they are, but then what can you expect with working conditions abroad....

Here is what I have been working on this weekend.

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I tried my hand at serging some diapers with the blind elastic technique.

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See that ruffled look on the legs? That is what is supposed to happen with blind elastic, so it worked!

 

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I made these for Grace, since apparently, she's never going to potty train. No, I do believe she will, it's just that currently she is afraid of the potty. No rush I suppose, she's just 2 and 2 months.



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She loves fluff and I can't blame her, these are super soft. The inside is bamboo and cotton velour. If you've never felt bamboo fleece, you are missing out. Bamboo materials are the softest materials.  I ordered some to make myself some pants.  I'm not the best at serging, but I still love how these turned out.