A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Our Week - end of May

This week we wrapped up the final bits of My Father's World, Rome to the Reformation.  We also spent the week working on spelling, grammar, math, and watching educational videos for an upcoming review.

Miss Hannah has started a cursive writing curriculum for a review.  She heads back to classroom school next week.

Speaking of reviews, Jack is working on something new, too.

We tried a leaf rubbing project from one of our art books, but it didn't work out well.

So I pulled out the scratch paper, and the boys drew their leaves instead.

Jack was frustrated with how his turned out.  They were using pushpins to scratch, which is an awkward way to draw.

Eli's K'nex are still seeing lots of action.

This week as planes.

The big kids have finals next week.

The good news is, Thursday will be their last day of school.  They're really ready to be done.

I'm loving the warm weather!

We headed to the park to meet some new friends.

It feels so good to get out and enjoy the sunshine.

We have a special visitor coming tomorrow, so next week will probably not involve much in the way of homeschooling.

For the Display of His Splendor

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How Are We Doing Without Luke?

It's been more than a month since Luke left.  I know people are wondering how we're doing, and the short answer is, for the most part, we're good.  But I think I'm ready to share more than that now.

My biggest concern was for the little girls.  I worried that Hannah and Katie would be thrown off kilter by him leaving.  That they might doubt their permanence here.  Not wanting Katie to be alone in the room that she'd been sharing with Luke, we moved Hannah in with her right away.  This delighted both the little girls (and Brianna, too, who got her own room out of the deal!) so much that they barely noticed Luke's absence.  There has been no clinginess, no regression, no sudden "issues" popping up.

We've gone out to dinner as a family again for the first time in well over a year.  We've gotten out to the park and the library more.  As you've probably noticed, we've started taking field trips again.

The house is quieter, although some of us have heard "phantom cries," sort of like sudden amputees experience with an itch that's not really there any more.

After the first couple weeks, where we'd run across his things in the wash, or come across something of his unexpectedly, I started to decompress enough to realize just how "off" I'd gotten, mentally.  A milestone happened for me:  I wore shorts again.

Now, I know this sounds ridiculous.  You have to understand that last summer, I was in such a bad place emotionally that I could barely manage to shave both legs in the same day sometimes.  I was depressed and overwhelmed, and I was literally hanging on to the hope of Luke starting school in the fall so we'd have some respite from the frequent screaming fits Luke was having before we got his seizures under control.

I'd gained some weight since the previous summer, and even once I bought a pair of shorts that fit me, it was just too much of an effort for me to shave above the knees.  I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I found myself thinking, "I guess I've gotten to the point where I'm too old for shorts."

That's how messed up my head was.

I thought my life was ending, bit by bit.

The sad thing is, things didn't get better when Luke started school.  Oh, it was nice not to have therapists coming to the house 3x/week, but having to be home at 11:07 and 1:48 every day for the bus played a huge part in turning me into a hermit.  Luke moving from the stroller to the heavy, awkward wheelchair was another factor.  I could barely get the chair in and out of the back of my van, and often ended up with tire tracks on myself.  It was too much of a bother to go anywhere with Luke, and there wasn't enough time to go anywhere without him.

With the perspective of hind sight, I think that I lost the ability to just do the next thing.  I was so freaked out by the long term big picture that I couldn't just focus on the day or moment at hand.  I couldn't get past the idea that I was going to be changing his diapers until I died.  Maybe it sounds petty and trivial to you, but I couldn't climb out of the despair I'd slid into.

My initial relief at placing Luke with a family who accepts him the way he is and is comfortable with the level of care he requires got me through the early transition period.  We got rid of the crib, high chair, and changing table right away.

As we adjusted to our new normal, 2 feelings stood out from the whirlwind of emotions.  The first was guilt, of course.  I'm so sorry I couldn't be the mom Luke needed!  Guilt over not being the supermom people used to say that I was.  Guilt that the rest of my kids all suffered while I was drowning in inadequacy.  The second feeling was relief.  Which made me feel even more guilty.

Gradually, more feelings surfaced.  I feel sad.  I feel loss.  Selling the double stroller at a garage sale was like saying goodbye to the last reminder of how I thought things would be.  See, the stroller was a huge purchase for us.  I looked at several different ones when we decided to bring home 2 children.  I kept coming back to the big, beautiful red one with the seats that could face in either direction.  I thought how it would be good for attachment to have the little ones facing me while we walked.  That stroller saw more trips to doctors' offices than any other sort of outing.

I really thought that Luke would thrive within our family, and that with love and nutrition and encouragement, we'd all be amazed at how fast he started walking and learned English.  I thought that after some Early Intervention and one outpatient surgery, we'd have a normal, healthy little boy.  And I'm sad that we didn't get that.  I see other families bringing home kids in the 2-3 year old range, especially kids with limb differences like our girls, and I think, "We could have parented that child," and my heart aches a bit.  

For the most part, we're fine.  Things are moving on, and I'm happy with our new normal.  I am free to focus on the older kids more, and enjoy the limited amount of time I have left with the teens here at home.  But I wonder how long it will be before I can eat a piece of pizza without remembering all the times Luke ate my crust for me.

Birth mothers who decide they cannot parent a child are usually made out to be either saints or villains.  Adoptive mothers who decide they cannot parent a child generally just get vilified.  In both cases, it's far more complex than that.  It's a heartbreaking choice.  It's a loss.  And yes, it's a chance to salvage a less than ideal situation and try to move forward in life.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Field Trip: Sacramento County Fair

It's county fair time!  The state fair is gigantic and overwhelming, but the county fair is more our speed.

We are blessed to have the opportunity to attend FREE as part of a homeschool field trip organized by one of our Park Day moms.

Hard to say no to FREE parking and FREE admission.  This also makes it easier to leave when we start getting tired or cranky, whereas if we've invested a lot of money in an outing, I tend to feel like I have to soldier it out until everyone is miserable.

Our first stop inside the gates was the animals.

This little guy was playing like a kitten.

And this big guy was trying to climb out of his enclosure.

I love tigers.  Tigers and pandas are my favorites.

It was neat to be so much closer to them than we usually get at the zoo.

We ventured over to the farm animals after a detour through the shopping building, and ran into both a friend from Park Day and a fellow Crew mom.  Hannah and Katie got to pet a goat.

We got to see some of the animals being shown.

On our way out of the farm animal buildings, we stopped and checked out the bunnies.

After a quick stop at the hand washing station, we found a spot by the stage for lunch.

I was disappointed because the program listed Chinese acrobats for this time slot, but there were grade schoolers singing and drumming instead.

So I was delighted when the kids wrapped up and the Chinese acrobats came on a bit late.  First, it was the lion dancers.

Then the drum girls.

They were really fun to watch.

Chinese culture is so fascinating, and it was such a treat that they happened to be performing when we were there.

They did Chinese yo yo tricks, too.

Then the male acrobats came back out and did tumbles and jumps through and over hoops.

They were so entertaining that we barely looked at our lunch.

After the show, we walked around for a while and looked at more exhibits, including a stop at The Forest Foundation, where we learned about trees, products made from trees, and why you shouldn't take firewood with you when you go camping (you can spread tree diseases).

Then we were pretty much done.  I'd told the kids ahead of time that we would not be doing carnival rides.

We stopped by the animals again on the way out.

We used to have a turtle at our house, but it was the size of a bottle cap when we got it.  This one was more the size of a laundry basket.

In short, we had a nice couple of hours of free fun at the County Fair.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Our Week with 2 Field Trips

Another week has flown by!  We're so close to the end of the year now.  The big kids come home from school knowing exactly how many days they have left.

We've been working through Apologia's Astronomy book, and this week we covered Space Travel, so I busted out the Space Toob.  My kids love these!  We have several different ones now, that all mingle in a bucket together.  Makes for some interesting play for the little girls.

The small figures inspired our painting that day.

Jack has a countdown going on his artwork.

Jack even matched up some of the figures with our Spacecraft cards.  I love it when he recites obscure facts about the International Space Station or another spacecraft.  He really likes these cards.

Brianna was challenged by her music teacher to create an instrument, so she rooted through our craft supplies and came up with a set of pan pipes.

On Wednesday, we went to Big Truck Day.

We brought home some coloring pages, which the kids enjoyed the next day.

Katie has always loved buses, and got to see the inside of a city bus at Big Truck Day.

We also started our mushroom growing kit from Farmer's Market.

It comes with a little misting bottle, so we can keep it moist.  I'm looking forward to seeing them grow.

On Friday, we joined a group of homeschoolers for a free trip to the county fair!

With only one day's worth of our base curriculum left, next week should be heavy on games and enrichments.  Of course, we still have spelling, grammar, and math to work on, so it won't be all fun and games, but still, we've hit the point where we're coasting swiftly toward summer.  It's a great feeling.

Linking up with Life at Rossmont and:
For the Display of His Splendor

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