February 25, 2013

What It's REALLY Like To Take Care of Sick Kids (in crappy pictures)

Facebook would have you think that taking care of a sick kid looks like this...

Status Update:  Sick little ones today!  You know what that means!  Extra cuddles!!!! #lovemykids #poorbabies  #snugglesonthecouchallday!

That status comes with a picture that looks something like this...

 
Sick kids DO look like that... for FIVE MINUTES.  And not a minute more.  Beyond those five minutes here is what it really looks like:
 
You get that dreaded call from school.  "Mrs. Terry, Noah and/or Sadie and/or Miles has a fever and needs to come home."  You rush to school and pick up the victim.  You come home, put them in a blanket and go to the cabinet.  Being the good mom that you are, you are always prepared for ANY illness and emergency.  Oh, wait.  That's not you.  You take their temperature and it reads 91.3 degrees and you realize that the thermometer is broken.  You go on the fact that they are burning up and run to get the fever meds only to discover that they expired in 2010.  The child asks for Sprite (because that's what sick kids get at your house) but all you find in the fridge is questionable milk and coffee grinds.  You realize that you are grossly unprepared for this sickness and so you make the call to the significant other...
 

The reason that they need the bucket is for the onslaught of body fluids that will be rushing out of the mouth.  In our house, we know that this is coming.  One of our kids is a serious puker.  At the first sign of sickness, I put her hair in a braid all Hunger Games style in an effort to keep from having to wash it after every episode.  It doesn't help.  Somehow none of the puke ends up in the toilet.  I'm not sure how it happens, but this is what goes down (or comes up):

Finally, after all that drama, you decide that you should take the child to the doctor.  You know that the first thing the doctor will ask is "Is there anything you know of going around the classroom."  Because you are a prepared mom, you text another class mom to find out the scoop.  You hope that she will say, "That fast moving 3 hour bug is going around. She'll be all better by dinner time."  But what usually ends up happening is...



So you call the doctor.  You wait on hold until your next birthday.  You sit in the waiting room with ALL of your children because once people hear that one is sick, no one will want to keep them.  The other kids in the waiting room cough and sneeze on them.  Your sensory seeking child will drag his head on the dirty floor picking up lint and germs like a dust mop. You get called back and you hope that the doctor says, "Something simple.  Here's a prescription for a $4 antibiotic.  You can go back to school tomorrow."  What really happens is...

You do all of those things.  Then you take your child home and baby them and pamper them and love on them and take that cute Facebook worthy photo of the snuggles because THESE ARE YOUR FIVE MINUTES, DAMMIT!  Then night time comes.  You hope that your poor, sick baby will be so exhausted from the illness that they will crash.  You know that rest is just what they need.  But... the reality of a night with a sick one is...
 
You do this for several days.  FINALLY the day comes where the child is feeling better!!!!  You wake them up, get them dressed and ready for school and you put them on the school bus.  You shut the front door after watching them step on the bus and breathe a sigh of relief... until you hear that pitiful man voice beckoning from the bedroom...
 

You contemplate running out the door and pretending like you didn't hear it.  You know that the sick spouse is infinitely worse than the sick child. You look at the clock and realize that 7:30 am is too early for wine.  Frantic, you consider your options.  You yell into the bedroom, "Call the doctor!  Get the first appointment you can!"  Then you reach into the cabinet, pull out a pen and paper and scribble down a note for the doctor.
 
You offer up a silent prayer that the doctor is a deviant and considers your offer.  You wonder if you should slip a Benjamin in the envelope.  Then you remember that you are a stay at home mom with no said Benjamin to use for a bribe.  Also, that's probably a crime.  So you go back to praying for him to be a deviant.  Because Jesus loves when you pray for that kind of stuff. Can I get an amen?

WISHING YOU GOOD HEALTH (or a deviant doctor that medicates moms) FOR THE REST OF WINTER!


February 19, 2013

Truths

Our kids need affirmation.  While it's tempting to affirm that, yes, they make messes, and yes, they are needy, and yes, they always seem to want to eat 5 minutes after I've gotten dinner cleaned up- it's equally as important to affirm the good stuff!

My daughter needs truth spoken into her about how beautiful and worthy she is.  She needs to hear those truths often because I can see her self esteem start to waiver without those frequent affirmations and it is the desire of my heart that she will become a confident woman who knows how amazing she is.

For Miles (and many adopted children) the affirmation he needs is that he is WANTED and LOVED and DESIRED.  I find myself sometimes just whispering in his ear that I love him and that I'm so glad that he's my son.  I feel like he needs to hear me say that frequently to become part of his own inner dialogue.    

I know that right now, he feels secure in his place in our family.  He's comfortable with his adoption story.  He knows it forwards and backwards and slowly, we are beginning to add in more parts as he's becoming old enough to understand the more complex aspects.  It's something we talk about all the time and I hope that because we talk about it so frequently and never make anything off limits that he will feel like he can freely talk about all the feelings he has about it as he grows- the good and the hard. There have been times in his past that he's been uncertain of how he belongs and I know that there will be those times again in his future.  It's part of growing up. It's especially part of growing up in an adoptive family.

Part of me hopes that if we fill him with those truths about how much he's loved and wanted that when he questions how he fits here and feels unloveable, he will fall back on those foundations. 

Last week, we celebrated three years together as a family of 5.  The first year was a blur.  The second one was up and down.  But this year?  This year, we moved beyond building the foundation and began putting up walls and hanging up pictures and we got cozy.  I like living in the cozy. 

While things were good and cozy, I though that it was a good time to move on from just us telling Miles how much we love him to branching out.  He can handle it.  He loves being so loved and drinks it in.  So this year, we asked our friends and family to help us build up his arsenal of truths.  We all made him a video that he can watch over and over again and feel those affirmations sink into his very being.  I hope that when life gets stormy for him (oh, how I wish I could protect my children from life's storms!) he can remember how many people are just nuts over him!

We gave Miles' this video to celebrate our 3rd "family day".  Every year, we try to give him a gift to symbolize his story or our family.  He loved this one!  And I love it too- to look back and see the progress and the memories we make each year just melts me.  I can't wait to make these videos for all my children because I think every child (adopted or not!) needs to hear how much they are loved and adored! 
 


(To see the adoption book we made for Miles last year- click HERE)

February 15, 2013

Babysitters, Anyone?

 
Winter boredom has set in and they've officially lost it.
 
I'm now hiring them out as babysitters. 
I promise they won't bite your baby's ear off or put her upside down in the sling.
Takers?  Anyone?

February 13, 2013

The Soundtrack Of My Life

Last week, my aunt and I went to a Matchbox 20 concert.  It was pure heaven.  Every single song took me back to my high school and early college years.  I love how a great song can do that!  (Not to mention that Rob Thomas isn't bad to look at for 2 hours!)

It got me thinking about what songs take me back to different times in my life...

As a kid, my parents only listened to country music.  We had a record player and about 25 or so records and I would always grab The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Album and put it on- no matter what time of year it was.  It was my very favorite and I'm pretty sure that I wore that record out- along with the other Oak Ridge Boys record they had.  Any other 80's kids fond of Elvira and My Baby Is American Made?  My mom also had a Richard Simmons workout on VINYL that had a book you had to follow while you worked out.  I loved that workout and hearing Richard's voice sing with the music, "You put it there, now lift it up and put it down! and SQUEEZE!".  As a 4 year old, I had no idea how to squeeze my butt muscles but I freaking loved trying.  So Richard Simmons and the Oak Ridge Boys make me smile whenever I hear them.


 
When I was in the fourth grade, I was going to have some of my friends over for a slumber party.  I had a little clock radio in my room set to the country stations that my mom and dad always listened to.  About 5 minutes before my friends were supposed to come over, I suddenly realized that they would probably all make fun of me for listening to country (after all, it seemed like my entire class had been to the New Kids on the Block concert the previous school year and I didn't know a single NKOTB song).  I hurriedly put my radio dial onto the popular top 40 station and pretended like it's what I listened to all the time.  I studied pop radio and made mixed tapes of all the "cool" songs so that I could fit in.  And I totally participated in the fourth grade birthday party right of passage when all the girls gave all the other girls tapes of Wilson Phillips and Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul.  I came to love it.  At my fifth grade talent show, I played The Rose on the piano while all the other girls did dance routines to Paula's "Straight Up".  The routines all included everyone suddenly doing a hand stand every single time Paula said "Straight Up."  So I went home and practiced hand stands while Paula cheered me on from the tape deck.
 

 
Later that year, my parents bought a boat and we started spending weekends at the lake skiing, swimming and camping.  Those weekends are some of my fondest childhood memories.  Our boat had a tape deck and my mom and dad had 4 tapes that lived in the boat's dash compartment.  If we were on the boat we were listening to The Eagles' Hotel California, Jimmy Buffet's Songs You Know By Heart, Bad Company's 10 from 6 and Alabama's 40 Hour Week.  When I learned to ski for the first time, I remember changing the words to the Eagle's Peaceful Easy Feeling, to "I'm already standing on my skis" (instead of standing on the ground)  I still to this day sing it with the word "skis" in it because it just makes me happy and reminds me of such a carefree time in my life.

 

 
I kept growing up, and so did the reasons that music was important to me.  In the 7th grade, I danced with a boy for the first time at a school dance.  We danced to Lady In Red.  Most of my other friends' first dance that night was to Whitney's "I Will Always Love You" and in middle school, we truly thought that we would love those scrawny little 12 year old boy for-evah.  I was so embarrassed about wanting to go to a dance that I wrote "VDD" on my calendar instead of Valentine's Day Dance.  When my  mom asked me about it, I think I froze and panicked and told her it meant Valentine's Day in Different Countries (Where did the "c" come from?!) and that is was something we were working on in social studies.  I can't remember if she saw through it or if I finally confessed and told her about it.  Either way, she found out and dropped me off at the dance.  
 

 
At that dance, I discovered that I could NOT dance (like, at all!) and my best friend, Annie, tried to teach me in front of the mirror in her bed room.  We blasted Boyz II Men and she taught me how to sway back and forth with slightly more grace than I had before.  I can not hear Boyz II Men without thinking about my "dancing" lessons.  Boyz II Men's "Motown Philly" was the first CD I ever bought with my own money when my aunt and uncle gifted me with their old CD player.  My uncle was not impressed and I remember him saying, "I wouldn't have given it to you if I knew you were going to play that kind of crap on it!"
 


 
Then, in high school, I got a serious boyfriend.  He had a car and we would drive around the back roads of Kentucky, pulling over every now and then to make out (sorry Dad).  I was so enamoured with this boy that I don't even remember what we would listen to on those long drives.  I do remember watching the movie "Say Anything" on New Year's Eve not long after we got together and "In Your Eyes" became our song. 
 
 
 
Then I went to college.  Holy moly, there's great music in college!  My suitmates and I jammed Dave Matthews, Ben Folds Five, Eminem (I can't believe I admitted that!), Rusted Root, every chick flick soundtrack that we could find, and whatever we had downloaded on Napster the night before (those were the good ol' days!)  But the one song that stands out the most to me was an oldie.  My roommate and I never shut our door in college.  Our room was always open, music was always playing, and we were always dancing.  We made up this dance that we called the "crazy dance" and it consisted of flailing around like a jellyfish and pretty much moving like you just didn't care.  For some reason, our song of choice for crazy dancing was Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecelia".  Later on when I had kids, I totally taught them how to crazy dance to that song.  It also is the song that makes me think of church camp in the summers since my favorite counselor had it on a mixed CD.  When the part about making love in the afternoon came on, she would scream out, "Making Kool-aid in the afternoon!" because it was church camp and there wasn't supposed to be any love making.
 

 
Midway through my first year of college, I met the man who would become my husband.  He was a senior and I was a freshman.  After dating for a few months, he came and picked me up at the dorm and took me to his apartment.  No lie, the boy tried to seduce me with a mixed tape that he had that he entitled "Mellow Tape".  He might as well have called the tape, "Songs that I hope make girls want to get busy".  Unluckily for him, I saw through his plan and I still make fun of him for this ploy.  But the tape was really GOOD!  All of the songs on it make me think of those early days of falling in love with  my husband.  The first song on it was a deep Led Zeppelin track called "I'm Gonna Crawl" that later became the song we danced to at our wedding. (And we walked in and were introduced as a married couple to U2's "Beautiful Day.")
 
 
Not long after we got married, I found myself great with child.  I was a young gal, driving around in my car with my belly just starting to get big.  UB40's "Red Red Wine" came on the radio and the sweet, little baby in my belly started kicking for the very first time.  Turns out, that Sadie really loved that song in utero.  Any time it was played, it got her little feet going and she kicked the crud out of me to that song for the rest of my pregnancy.  After she was born, her favorite song changed to "Call Me Al" by Paul Simon.  We played "Call me Al" for her at least a million times in her first year.  Made her grin and dance every single time.
 



 

When Noah came along, he was the one always making music in our house.  He sang constantly.  Whether it was nursery rhymes or songs off the radio, he was always singing loudly in his crackly, little, high pitched voice.  So the soundtrack of the years since I had Noah are all songs that he sang to me.  "You Are My Sunshine" was his favorite and I love hearing him belt it out.
 


 
If you want to see what my favorite home movie of ours is click HERE.  Noah goes ballistic singing "No More Monkeys"
 
And then there's Miles... when we were preparing to adopt Miles, I listened to a lot of praise and worship music... with the exception of one of my favorite songs of all time... Toto's "Africa".  Now when we hear it Miles always says, "Heeeeey!  I used to be in Africa!" 
 

 
Now that I'm a mom of three, I find myself listening to whatever is on the latest version of Kids Bop.  Thankfully, this is just a season of life with questionable music!
 
 
What about you?  What's on the soundtrack of your life?

 


February 12, 2013

Miracles

So often we focus on the losses in adoption.  We hone in on the negative.  The horror stories are the ones that make the news.  We hear the negative, feel it and absorb it into our beings and wear loss like a blanket.    But sometimes... sometimes the miracles are so big you just have to stand back and look at those miracles square in the eye and just marvel at them.

Yesterday, Miles spent almost 8 hours in the emergency room.  He had localized, horrible pain in his abdomen that was so bad he couldn't walk or talk or stand up.  Our doctor was just certain that he had appendicitis, so he sent us to the hospital.  Miles had a battery of tests and scans after a long time, the ER doc said he was in the clear and some IV fluids and graham crackers should bring him back to life.  He's doing so much better today.

 

While Miles was laying in his hospital bed sleeping, I couldn't help but turn to Kamron and say, "You know, if he'd been in an orphanage and his appendix ruptured, he would have died."

We know the statistics.  20% of kids in Congo die before they ever get the privilege of turning 5 years old.  Hundreds of thousands of kids all over the world die every year of preventable diseases.  And sometimes (let's face it- all the time) those statistics are mind numbing.  But THIS CHILD...  oh MY precious child could have been that statistic so many times over. 

As I look back nearly 3 years and see that tiny, almost 2 year old boy who was the size of an American 5 month old, with a body full of parasites, I get shocked that he made it at all.  Extreme malnutrition is a slow and painful death and the fact that this ONE fought and lived until we could get to him when so many other children in the same circumstances didn't make it... MIRACLE.

February 2010


February 2010
 
I thought back to Miles' first visit with the eye doctor where we learned that the specific condition of his eyes was so severe that, if left untreated, would cause him to lose his vision and possibly go blind. I couldn't help but picture him blind on the streets in Lubumbashi, Congo with no one to care for him.  The fact that we live 20 minutes from one of the top pediatric eye doctors in the country and that Miles can see so well now?  MIRACLE.
 
 
I thought back to the whole first year he was home and how we fought to restore the hearing that he'd lost (almost 70% hearing loss in one of his ears and 50% in the other) from what his doctor said was likely two years of untreated infection in his ears. Everything sounded like he was under water. He still has some hearing loss, even after years of top notch medical care and two surgeries.  But without it?  Do you think the child without hearing is well taken care of in an orphanage where special needs are nothing but a drain on resources?  It hurts to think that that would have been MY child. The fact that he's here and repeats every single thing he hears?  MIRACLE.
 





Life is a gift- and our children who've struggled JUST TO SURVIVE are such MIRACLES.  Today, I'm just so grateful for this miracle...
 
Blessings all around...
 
 

February 06, 2013

Embarrassment

You know that stage that kids go through where they have a really good mastery of language but they've not yet learned to temper that with any tact whatsoever?  Yeah.  Miles is right smack in the middle of that phase.

He's honest- brutally honest.  And he makes no apologies for it (And he shouldn't!  He's only 4!) But at the same time, this boy is embarrassing me with his running commentary lately...

A couple of weeks ago my mom got her hair cut in this super cute bob.  It was a pretty drastic change from her shoulder skimming look.  Miles took a look at her and said, "What's the matter with your hair?"  My mom, always ready to dish some snark (one of the many reasons I adore her!) said, "Nothing!  What's the matter with your hair."  Without even so much as a pause Miles blurted out, "My hair looks fabulous.  Your hair looks ridiculous."

I wanted to crawl in a hole.  My mom was a great sport and she and Miles now tease each other about this, but it was one of those moments in time that you'd rather erase!  This incident was followed by many conversations about not hurting people's feelings, yada, yada, yada... It totally went in one ear and out the other because...

That same week, my grandmother picked Miles up from school while I went to a doctor's appointment.  She needed to make a quick stop at the grocery store on her way home.  The parking lot was wet with puddles from the rain the night before so she picked Miles up and carried him into the store.  This gave him just enough time to study her face and make an observation.  With one hand on each of her cheeks, he looked her square in the eye and said, "You are so. very. old." 

*Pardon me while I go crawl back in that hole*

And then there was the most recent incident with the social worker.  Y'all, our kids always save their best work for the social workers.  (Remember this one about the boogers?)  I'm sitting at the kitchen table chatting with our worker when Miles runs in.  "Hey!!!!" he says, "Loooooook!  I've got a stick in my pants!"  (Now, to help you get the full effect, I had him recreate the look later that night.  For the record, at the time of the incident, Miles did have his shirt on properly.  For the sake of this picture though, we just went with how he was wearing his shirt at the time of picture taking.)

The stick.  In his pants.
 
Our social worker giggled at him and said something like, "You do have a stick in your pants!"  And he said, "WAIT! Look!" And then revealed what was really in his pants...
 
 
"I have this big hand down my pants!"  And then we lost it.  Our worker said, "And this is why I always love coming to your house!"  Because evidently her other clients do NOT walk around with someone else's big, rubber, pointer hand down their pants.  Imagine that? 
 
So tact?  We evidently have none but are trying to teach it... good times!
 
And speaking of good times- enjoy Miles' magic show... I give him two days post high school graduation before he leaves me for the stage somewhere.




February 04, 2013

My Favorite Hour

My sweet, little Noah is 6 years old.  In the last 6 months, he started school and lost his first tooth.  He gets himself dressed and can pour his own bowl of cereal.  He's growing up right in front of me.  Noah is the one kid in our house that loves mom the best- so I'm super conscious of time marching on in my interactions with him.

Though this child is bony and rail thin, his body is like liquid when you hold him. He melts right into me- to the point where its hard to tell where he ends and I begin.   I know that the days where he wants to sit in my lap and read books or the times that he wants me to rub his back while he watches TV are not going to stay around forever so I try to make an effort to treasure them. 

When Noah began kindergarten, he had to start coming to "big church" instead of staying in the children's area.  I have absolutely come to love that one hour of the week with my son.  Noah asks to be held all during the music part.  Kamron and I switch off since Noah's become just a smidge too heavy for one of us to hold for the duration.   He buries his head in our necks and wraps his little arms around us.  Kamron and I exchange these little glances with one another that seem to say, "Can you believe that we made something this cuddly and wonderful?" 

And then comes the sermon and that child is all mine.  The preacher gets up and Noah settles in for his Sunday morning nap.  It's become a routine.  He crawls into the seat next to me and lays his little head in my lap and I stroke his hair and watch his eyelids get heavy.  It usually only takes a couple of minutes for him to be in dreamland and I get to sit there listening to a sermon with a precious little gift in my lap.  It's become my absolute favorite hour of my whole week. 

Yesterday, I just had to break the rules and sneak a picture of him because he was so peaceful and I wanted to have a snapshot to look back on as he grows... and outgrows laying in his mama's lap. 

 

February 01, 2013

A mod. movement and a giveaway!

One of the worst things about being a transracial family is that people come up to you and ask questions all. the. time.  But one of the BEST things about being a transracial family is that people come up to you and ask questions all. the. time.

Last summer, we were in Mexico on vacation and a woman came up to me and starting asking about our family.  Turns out, her nephew would be arriving into their family via adoption from Ethiopia a couple of weeks later.  The woman's name was Amber and she was adorable.  We chatted for a while and I gave her my contact info and blog address and told her that if her sister needed anyone to help her walk through the transition of bringing her son home, to give me a call.

A few weeks after returning to the states, I heard from Amber again.  She sent me an email with her precious nephew's picture attached to it:


Could he be any cuter?
 

But Amber wanted more than to just brag as a proud aunt.  After going through the adoption process with her family and after reading here about the plight of vulnerable kids in the Congo, Amber wanted to act.  She and I emailed back and forth and talked on the phone a lot trying to figure out what that would look like.  It turned out that Amber is the creative genius behind mod. (a store that sells camera straps and accessories)  She and her mother started the company and just knew that the company was supposed to be doing something amazing to help kids and families in Africa where their hearts were now so enmeshed.



I told Amber about an organization that I work with called JabuAfrica.  JabuAfrica is really different from most organizations serving in Africa.  We (and I say we because I am on the board of directors) don't want to reinvent the wheel.  As an organization, we realize that there are already people on the ground serving that are doing great things and who are already an active part of the communities where they are working.  Why replicate that?  Why not partner with those people and enable them to keep working? So JabuAfrica works to come alongside existing ministries and non-profits.  

Amber decided that she was ready for her company to do some good in the world and thus the mod.movement was born.  mod. is partnering with JabuAfrica for the entire month of February- donating 10% of all of their website sales!!!  (And they have gorgeous stuff!)


Here's me with my mod. strap.  I love that if I put my camera down in the middle of a kid's birthday party that it doesn't look like every other mom's boring black strap camera.  It's a cool way to give your camera a little personality.

Who doesn't LOVE houndstooth?

The main project we are partnering with right now through JabuAfrica is a nutritional feeding program in the Kapanga region of The Democratic Republic of Congo. We are empowering and training local workers to make a vitamin dense, peanut paste supplement for malnourished children and families. All of the peanuts used are purchased locally further deepening the impact on the local economy. The team on the ground is teaching families about nutrition, providing medical checkups and getting super vitamin infused peanut paste into the hands of children who are severely malnourished. Through the program we are seeing relationships blossom, children thrive and villages become more self-sustaining.

For the next 28 days, your purchases through mod. will make an impact all the way across the globe.  You can check out their whole line of products on their website



To celebrate the launch of the mod.movement and this months partnership with JabuAfrica, mod. is giving 2 Millions of Miles readers a $25 gift certificate to spend in their store!  To be entered, just use the rafflecopter entry form below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As a mom with a heart for children in the Congo- I just want to thank Amber and the rest of the gang at mod. for sharing our passion and for teaming with us to make an impact! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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