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Posts from the ‘Adoption’ Category

Operation “Get Life Together”: Releasing Control

I have been homeschooling for a long time.  I mean a long, long, long, Long time….like really long.  I am a pretty strict homeschooling mom.  I have my list, according to the KY state standards, and we do not deviate.

We do cursive.

We do LOTS of reading (it is a love for all my kids).

We do LOTS of history (it is a love for all my kids).

We do the mandatory math (7th level of Hell according to all who reside in my house).

We do Bible.

We do Science.

We write.

We do Language, Grammar, Spelling……

We do it all.

My oldest two daughters and my oldest son were born under the heart.  Victoria was born talking our ear off….knowing her alphabet at 14 mths…spelling her name at 18 mths…reading early.  Alyssa is my creative child.  She can put words to anything.  She can write beautifully and has always been very articulate.  Noah is the math/science/history kid.  Loves loves loves it.

I am a stickler.  I want all my “t’s” crossed and all my “i’s” dotted.  My kids will attest to that.  I have a routine that has stood the test of time, all these years….I do not like change.  I do not like to yield.  I do not like to change things up.  I like what I like.  I know what I’m good at.  I know what the kids are capable of and I want them to know that they can succeed if they put forth the hard work and try.  That’s all I ever want them to do is try.  Do their best….even if it is a D….if they studied and did their best, then that is great in my book.

Then………came my kiddoes born in my heart.  The early years were spent learning our alphabet, our numbers, our address. What sticks out in my mind is the inability Daniel had to remember our address, our phone number, how to write his letters, learning the alphabet…just so many struggles.  His speech and hearing played a lot in that.  We did 2 sets of tubes, put him in preschool, started speech when he was 2 1/2.  I did everything I know to do.  Nothing seemed to work.

Grayce, on the other hand, has the attention span of a gnat.  She could not “do school” with the other kids.  She needed NO distractions (drapes and blinds down), no noise (we had to be like mice), nothing on her walls to look at, nothing in her room, for that matter.  She HATED doing the work and it was like pulling teeth with no medication to get her to do it.  She failed every single test (except for Spelling and Reading Comprehension).  I could not figure out what was going on.  Her math skills…..whoa Nelly.  Just horrible.  We got her tutors (thank you Mr. Brodsky), we did CDs, we did flash cards.  Nothing seemed to work.

Jude…..he came to America when he was 5.  Much of that first year was just learning to live in America.  Learning our language.  Learning to trust us.  We sat, a lot and watched Iron Chef America.  That is our thing.  A movie comes on and he gets as close to me as humanly possible…even at 11.  Then we worked on our alphabet, numbers, basic Kindergarten stuff.  It was hard.  Good gravy.  They say that for however long a child was in country is how long it takes for them to acclimate to a new country.  That is SO true.  So.  Very.  True.  There are certain concepts (Grammar) that is so hard for him.  I mean, it is so hard.  I bought word puzzles.  Did crossword puzzles.  Videos.  Set it to music.  Nothing seemed to work.

There is a world of difference between children who were wanted, loved, cared for, fed and children who suffered from neglect and abuse or a child whose sweet mama did all she could for him but did not have access to proper health care in order to take care of him.  That is a learning curve….for me.  It also teaches me to release the control that I like to hold onto so tightly.

This year….I have decided to release the reins.  I decided to walk into the enemy’s camp and still back my joy of teaching and molding their education to suit their individual needs.  I want to have fun.  I want them to have fun.  I want to meet their “required” needs but do it in a way that they do not hate learning.

So….with that being said.  Noah’s course of action will remain the same.  We will be scheduling him to take the ACT and his driver’s test this week.  I also plan on applying to Murray State Racer Academy in the spring.  We were aiming for the fall, but ya know, life happened.

Grayce, we are doing LOTS of reading literature (British and American) and lots of writing.  She loves to read and she loves to write.  We are stepping back on Algebra.  This part, we are just going to make sure she has an excellent handle on basic math, counting money, counting back money, etc.  She has FASD and the part of her brain that is affected is abstract.  She is *very* concrete and that is okay.  She just thinks and learns differently than us.  Our main goal, for her, is to get used to her living at home again.  She was at military school for 22 weeks.  It was a break that we all needed.  She is adjusting to home very well.  She knows her boundaries and she is confidant that she can be under authority.  It has been nice.  We will, of course, do Science but I will probably not test in that area because her testing skills are not great.  History, however, is good for her and that will continue on a typical high school path.  Bible will remain the same, as will Grammar and Language.

Daniel….I am gearing EVERYTHING to wars….to the military…..to history.  This kid cannot spell, he cannot remember the same chore he has had for 7 yrs, but he can tell you the history, with accurate detail, how the mountains of Hawaii were formed.  What countries were involved in every single war.  Every.  Single.  War.  This is our golden topic.  I am laying off the spelling.  I got him a little gadget for dyslexia that helps with that.  His penmanship is phenomenal.  I have also bought Dragon software to help him write.  It is all through a microphone and a computer.  Math…he is on target.  History…blows it out of the park.  Language, Grammar, Spelling………we are close to being done.  He knows the basics and we will move as far as he can, but realistically, he has FASD and he is also “low functioning” so I’m not discounting his abilities….we do a lot of lego work (I will definitely post a video of some of his inventions…they are wonderful), reading (real books and audio books for the classics of Literature), Bible….everything else will be a unit study created around military stuff.  It’s working

Jude…..he is now on target.  It has taken some time and he is still behind a bit in math, but for the most part….we will move forward with how I teach the other children.  He is heavy into reading and he loves math (though he goes a bit too fast and makes silly mistakes).  He is a beast at spelling and he has an insatiable love of learning.

Hunter……….we just read and play 🙂

All in all…it is gonna get done.  My kids are going to be well rounded, well socialized (yes, homeschoolers can be socialized and not awkward), and they will be educated.  Some are going to college…some will go to college….some will go to beauty school….some will go to trade school…God has their lives planned out.  He had it planned before He created the Earth.  He knows their beginning, middle, to end.

I just get the privilege of raising all these wildly different kiddoes.

I am blessed.

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I Went to the Enemy’s Camp….

Well, I went to the enemy’s camp and

I took back what he stole from me (my marriage)

I took back what he stole from me (my children)

I took back what he stole from me (my depression)

I went back to the enemy’s camp and

I took back what he stole from me (OMS, RAD, FASD, ADD, ADHD BRAIN DAMAGE, PTSD)

You know

He’s under my feet

He’s under my feet

Satan is under my feet.

I went to the enemy’s camp and

I took back what he stole from me (my children’s mental health)

I took back what he stole from me (my child’s learning disabilities)

I took back what he stole from me (my relationships with family and friends)

I went to the enemy’s camp and

I took back what he stole from me

You know

He’s under my feet

He’s under my feet

Satan is under my feet

I went to the enemy’s camp and

I took back what he stole from me (our finances)

I took back what he stole from me (my fears)

I took back what he stole from me (my life)

I went to the enemy’s camp and

I took back what he stole from me

You know

He’s under my feet

He’s under my feet

Satan is under my feet

Turning the Page of a Book to a New Chapter

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Welcome to this new chapter.  I could’ve cropped this picture to show a close up of my baby’s beautiful smile, but when I saw his hands….I thought….nope, this is real life.  Behind that smile is fear, excitement, worry, anticipation, exhaustion, and hunger.

My baby came to us when he was 5 yrs old, after a long intense battle to bring him to America.  Being a child of color, older, and a boy his odds were against him ever getting adopted.  See, little black girls turn into sweet gorgeous black women.  Little black boys turn out to be thugs, murderers, etc.  There is a sad stigma and that does not mean it is just in America.  There is racism in the country of Ethiopia as well.  If a male child is 3 or younger and “caramel” colored….he is a good child to be adopted.  If a male child is 4 or above and darker….well….that is a lot of odds.

How can one look at that face, those eyes, that smile and say he is going to be ANYTHING but a child of the King and a warrior for His kingdom.  This baby………….this baby………..I cannot even.  My heart simply bursts with love, pride, gratitude, and thankfulness for what the Lord did in our story.  I seriously cannot even.

We did not know he was deaf for almost a whole year LOL.  He was learning the language and learning how to live in a family and acclimate to the USA.  That was his only job.  To learn to be loved, to know he is safe, to help him with his loss and grief of not being with his family and his beautiful country.  He was, at one point, trilingual.  He was LOUD.  He could speak and worked hard at his broken English until he mastered it.  After almost 6 yrs, he stills says a few words wonky LOL.

On his birthday, my mom calls to sing to all the kids.  She always calls in the morning.  I answered the phone and I knew it was her, so I went ahead and called him upstairs and I handed him the phone.  Now, remember, he is an Ethiopian who had only be home for 8 mths.  I put the phone up to his right ear so he could listen to her sing.  When I did, he said “mommy…I no hear in that ear.”  I laughed and said he was a funny boy and I put then phone up to his right ear again.  He said “mommy, I no hear in that ear.”  He switched ears and smiled as she sang.  He is a man of little words so as he was grinning (he thought she could see his approval), he handed me the phone.  I was sitting there, with my mouth opening, looking at him like he an eyeball that had just sprouted up on his forehead.  I held the phone and I could hear my mom speak, but all I could say was “what do you mean you can’t hear in that ear?”  He said “I no hear in that ear.”  I could’ve caught flies with my mouth.

I put the phone to my ear and said “Martha….he says he can’t hear out his right ear….I gotta go and figure out what the heck he is talking about.”  We got off the phone and I looked him square in the eyes and said “WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T HEAR OUT OF THAT EAR?”  He took his hands….clapped them on my cheeks…pulled my face nose to nose with his face and said “MOM, I NO HEAR OUT OF THAT EAR.”  I asked if he heard out of that ear in Ethiopia….he just waved his hand like it was nothing and he said “No.  I no hear in that ear in Etopia (that is how he pronounced it).”

I think I sat there staring at him for 30 minutes.  I’d plug one ear and talk…he could hear me.  I would plug the other ear and talk….he could hear me.  I did not get it.  At all.  I turned all the fans on, made him turn around, and I whispered…he heard me.  I am stumped.  In a last ditch effort to understand what was going on, I got in the van with him, turned up the radio, lowered all the windows and whispered…he heard me.  Either he was insane or I was insane.

I took him to an ENT.  We did hearing tests…he was in the “sound proof” booth and the lady said some words and he repeated while one or the other ear was plugged….he did it.  She said he was fine.  In another moment of “I am such a bad parent because if he is hard of hearing in that ear, I didn’t know and didn’t do anything about it but the audiologist said he was fine but I want a second opinion from a friend because she is good at what she does and she is free and I will leave this alone if she tells me that he is fine I will just assume I am nuts and he is nuts and we are all just nuts.”  Yes….that is the long run on sentence that took place in my head.

I headed to see my friend Susan Brown.  She did all her of her initial stuff and then put him back in the booth.  I sat in the booth with her.  This time, was different.  She said things, but she covered her mouth.  When she did that, we discovered that he is stone cold deaf in his right ear.  See…..what I didn’t realize was that he was reading my lip and everyone else’s lips.  Most people are deaf from either their outer ear to their eardrum OR from the eardrum to their brain.  Jude is deaf from the outer eardrum to the brain.  He has all the mechanics of a “good” ear….he is just deaf.  We are guessing he was born this way, which explains SO much.

When I took him from Susan to the NEW ENT…Jude was pretty stoked.  I told him we were going to see Dr. Jones.  With his wide eyes….he said “we are going to see DR JONES?”  I said yes we are…he is going to check your ears.  I asked why he was looking at me like that and he said “Dr. Jones?  As in Indiana Jones?”  I smiled and said “No, Dr. Shawn Jones.”  Let down.

As we were talking, I asked Dr. Jones if this could be hereditary?  He said it could be and why do I ask.  I explained to him that my mom was born without a bone in her ear and that she was deaf.  I told him that she had surgery and they placed a metal plate in there and now she can hear.  At that moment, the dr was staring at me, the nurse was staring at me and Jude was silent.  I couldn’t figure out the silence.  Dr. Jones leaned WAY in to me and he said “Brandi, is your mom black?”  I said “No.  She is a little short redhead, why are you asking me if she is black?”  He smiled and said “Brandi….your son is black.”  Duh…..I forgot.  I don’t think about things like that so I was felt pretty stupid.

Well, after many visits, many types of hearing aids that did not work….learning some sign language to help him in crowds…..5 years later…..yesterday was the day we turned the page to a new chapter.

Yesterday, we were in Louisville for Dr. Severtson to perform a BAHA surgery.  Now, normally this surgery would have a titanium screw and in about 6 mths or so, once it is healed, you *snap* a hearing aid on behind your ear.  The sound bypasses the ear canal and goes straight to the brain.  The post requires A LOT of attention and maintenance.  We were going to do that because, the older Jude gets, the more it bothers him about his hearing.  I get that.  Our dr was recently approved to do a new type of BAHA hearing aid.  Instead of the titanium screw, he put in a magnet.  This takes 2-3 mths to settle in and heal.  Once that is healed, we go back for the processor.  His hearing aid will also have a magnetic on it and it will just stick to his head, behind his ear and it does the same as the original.  This is good because there is zero maintenance.  You get your processor quicker.  He is the first in our area to receive it, so we can hopefully help other families.  More importantly, he will be able to hear out of both ears for the first time in his life.  How freaking cool is that.

The recovery is not fun.  He has to keep his head wrapped for 3 days and not wash his hair for a week or so, but in the end…..it will be awesome and that is what I have to remind him.

I am so stinking excited.  He is excited too, but he is hurting pretty good and his incision site itches….which is driving him bonkers.  All in all……welcome to his new and improved HEARING story 🙂

I’m Ready for my Rainbow

I posted something on FB the other day stating what all we had coming up, as a family.  There was my surgery, Hunter’s IVIg treatment, Jude’s surgery, my daughter coming home after 22 weeks at military school, my Lady’s health, and the sentencing of my niece.  A lady said that with all that, that means you are due a rainbow.

Well….rainbow…..it is time for you to show the heck up.

I *need* a rainbow.

Since about April or March of 2015…the Lord turned my life upside down and inside out.  If it could go wrong, it went wrong.  He took what I thought was a firm foundation and He shook it to the core of my being.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot but I’m over it and now I just want my rainbow…..I really really do.

When the first massive (and no I am NOT exaggerating) thing happened…..I thought my world just stopped spinning.  I remember that day, like it was yesterday.  I was doing some cleaning up of things and I came across something that took my stomach from its normal residence down to the bottom of my feet and then back up to the top of my head.  I remember telling myself to “stay calm.”  You do not know that this is true so do not make assumptions.  I restrained myself when I called someone up to talk with me.  The question I asked….the answer I got….then the truth came out.  Then, I had to start all over with another person and do the same thing over again.  I remember falling to my knees and making a noise that sounded like a wounded animal.  I could not get my breath.  I could not stop crying.  I just crumpled myself while the other parties sat and looked helpless at the revelation.  My heart was ripped out of my chest and shattered that day.  The Lord has been gracious in putting my heart back together, but it will never be the same as it was that day.

Once I got my bearings about me, I ran out of the room and I got in my van and I headed to the one place that was my safety.  My Lady’s house.  I knocked on her door and I heard her yell “I’m coming!”  I stood there….frozen.  She opened the door and she just looked at me and I crumpled in her arms wailing.  I could not even form words.  She gently guided me to her dining room table and I laid my head in her hands….she never asked anything….she just simply prayed over me.  Once I could pull myself together, I told her what had happened.  She never showed emotion (other than her hurting because I was hurting)….she just loved me.  She loved the people who had hurt me so deeply.  She continued to pray and she called a beloved friend of all of ours and she simply said “can you please go here and do this and this.”  Our friend never missed a beat…..he did what she asked.  He knows everything and he has never ever judged or condemned any party.  He has simply loved, counseled and prayed over everyone involved.

The love my Lady has for my family is unspeakable.  It is pure, unconditional, and honest.  Believe me, she cleans my clock when I am in the wrong and she does it with a smile on her face and Jesus in her heart.  She is my person…….plain and simple.  Her guidance, through this all, is why I still am where I am and why I didn’t allow satan to make a horrible situation even worse.  I did not fall into the flesh and do what I wanted to do….I did as I was guided through intense prayer, accountability for all that was a part of this, ejecting things out of my life (though painful), and learning to live without those damn rose colored glasses…….

It has taken time to forgive….time I cannot get back but then again, the time was necessary in my healing process.  A line was drawn in the sand, that day.  A line that no party wants crossed because if it is crossed, the outcome will be way different than it was in 2015.  Forgiveness is not about giving the people who hurt me permission to do so.  It is about releasing the shackles from my feet so that I can dance.  It is about not letting satan take a moment of flesh to dictate my, or the other parties involved, future.  It is about being obedient to Jesus dying on the cross….forgiving with His last breath.

I still have moments of “what are you doing, what are you hiding, are you lying to me.”  But they are fewer and further between.  I am not perfect.  I have to remind myself that I have forgiven, in Jesus’ Name, and I’m not allowed to throw this topic up when it suits me or when I want to feel “justified” about something.  I am NOT a victim because I actively choose joy.  I actively choose obedience.  I actively choose to take that next right step, which is shown by the Light at my feet.

Once this issue was “resolved” (I say that in quotes because I still struggle, still have trust issues, still have nightmares but I believe I have forgiven)….our world was rocked again.  Rocked in a sad heart tugging way that not many people truly understand….till tomorrow, friends and neighbors.

Wisdom from a 3 Yr Old

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Meet Hunter

The day after I came home from my hysterectomy, he was missing his mama because I had been upstairs resting.

Every night, before bed, Hunter crawls up in the bed with me and we snuggle.  This particular night was no different, but I warned him that my belly was hurting.  To help in his understanding, I showed him my bandaids on my belly and told him he needed to be gentle.

In his wisdom, my sweet baby looked up at me and said “Mama, we need to put some oils on your belly to feel better.”

Uhm, yes we do, sweetness……I have officially become an oily mama with an OMS baby who LOVES his oils.

Love that I’m teaching him about alternative ways to help heal and nurture our bodies with natural solutions instead of synthetic medications!

BTW:  He chose wintergreen for me to have on my belly 🙂

^^^Adoption Info^^^

Got some of the adoption info up.  I still need to work on Domestic and International, but the rest is done, so check it out 🙂

Shoot me any questions if you have them!

Let Me Get This Straight

This is a convo that I had, the other day, with my 13 year old son.

Me:  D, did you take the dogs out?

D:  No.

Me:  Did you feed and water the dogs and cats?

D:  No.

**it was after lunch at this point….chores are usually done by 9 am**

Me:  Can you name me each of the major wars from as far back as you can remember, in order?

D:  Rattles them off PERFECTLY beginning in the year 1754 with the French and Indian War.

Me:  Can you tell me who was involved in each of these wars?

D:  Rattles the names off PERFECTLY.

Me:  How is it you can remember these details, but you cannot remember the same chores you have had for 7 years?

D:  I like wars.  I do not like chores.

Touche’ little fella.  Touche’.

The beauty of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder.

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Youtube……

I started a Youtube Channel (sort of). It documents Hunter and where he was when he moved in with us to after his diagnosis with OMS (Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome). I did this for his doctor because it was taking FOREVER to do via email. You are welcome to view those videos…maybe if I get brave, I can do more videos on other things…we shall see. Feel free to share 

If there is anything you want to see from me….just give me a holler and I will see what I can do.  I’m still playing around with it.

Thanks!

 

The Lamb Has Overcome

This past Sunday, we sang the song “Forever” by Kari Jobe.  We have sung this song many times….I have heard it on Pandora a thousand and one times.  This is the first time that I have really thought about the lyrics to this song.

“Forever”

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon HimOne final breath He gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome

I think the phrase that hit me so hard was “The Lamb Has Overcome.
He has OVERCOME….regardless of what it is.
He has OVERCOME Reactive Attachment Disorder in my daughter.
He has OVERCOME Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in my son.
He has OVERCOME my health issues.
He has OVERCOME Big Daddy’s bad knees and hips.
He has OVERCOME depression.
He has OVERCOME OMS.
He has OVERCOME finances.
He.  Has.  OVERCOME.
He wins.
Why do I choose to worry about the things that go on in my life?
Why do I worry about our finances, our health issues, our surgery dates, our infusions, the behavior issues of my children, my parents’ health?
Why?
He has already solved these issues.  His divine will has been set into motion from before the creation of the earth.  This is why we sing Hallelujah.  In the crappiest of situations where we see no hope…..He becomes the Hope because He OVERCAME it all for us. What a revelation.  What a statement.  What a realization.  Wow….just freaking wow!
Be blessed in knowing your personal friend….Your Jesus…..has OVERCOME just for you. If you were the only person on the face of the planet…..He would still OVERCOME all your trials and tribulations.
Wow.  Gives me a whole new appreciation and perspective.

The Beauty in a Bonfire

When I was a child, my Granny and Grandaddy would have weenie roasts at their house. Our whole family would be there.  My grandparents had 5 children and from those 5 children, there were 14 grandchildren.  All of us would show up….then there were always extras.  My sister and I were very close to 2 of our cousins…we are all stair stepped in ages.  Tera, Amy, Ty, and me and we were our own little force to be reckoned with.

I remember grandaddy sitting in the carport, hand churning homemade ice cream for the evening.  Our bonfire was as big as a house and we’d have chairs and logs to sit on. We would laugh and eat till we puked.  Oh….those sweet sweet memories.

My heart has been aching for my granny.  I don’t know why…but just to hear her voice and play a game of Scrabble.  Juicy Fruit gum.  Fried chicken that was fried in grease and a stick of butter for good measure.  Sneaking a bowl of ice cream and then her giggling asking me to make her a bowl.  Stale cheese puffs.  Okra burnt beyond reason….that is the only kind of okra we eat.  Rides in the back of the tractor.  Riding in the back of the truck to our uncles house.  Playing in the woods.  So.  Many.  Memories.

We have not had a weenie roast since my granny passed away, 11 years ago and it is high time to get that going again.  I brought this up to my mom and she said pick a date.  We chose Labor Day because my sister, from Georgia, had the time off and could come.  Also, on Sept. 9, my parents will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary.  It is a great month of celebration, especially since my daddy’s quadruple bypass surgery earlier in the year.

Here is the results of our brand spanking new tradition!

 

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