Friday, November 30, 2012

Mr. Boots and the Bathroom

Mr. Boots Adventures Day 2 & 3...
So Day 2...Mr Boots 'upped' his game and made himself a little less easy to find.  Leah woke up for school and immediately began darting around the house trying to find Mr. Boots.  After searching all the places she thought he'd be, she went back to her room.  I just assumed she was getting her clothes on for school, so I continued cooking breakfast and getting the other 2 kiddos around.  About 15 minutes went by, and if any of you know how long it takes Leah to get out the door for school, you will realize these were precious minutes wasted away....because I went in to check on her in her room only to find her in her bed with the lights off.  I wasn't sure what was going on so I went and tapped her on the shoulder and asked what was going on. She was scrunching her eyes and nose up, trying her bestest to 'sleep.'  She flipped the covers back and said she was going back to sleep because Mr. Boots hadn't come back yet and he only flies when she's asleep.  Haha!  Poor girl.  So I had to help direct her the right way.  When she found him atop daddy's deer, her next concern was his anger with Mr. Boots riding his deer's antlers.  But after getting approval from daddy for him only being there for a short ride, she was okay with it all.

The next morning, Mr. Boots made his appearance in the bathroom.  He must have been sleepy from his previous night's trip to the North Pole, so he used a wash rag to cover up and take a short snooze.  He tapped me on the head while I was getting Autum's comb and hair rubberband and caused quite a commotion in the bathroom that everyone came running and found him perched atop the vanity!  Because we found him so quickly that morning we were able to get on with the mornings routine a little quicker.  We all ate breakfast and I began to clean up the oatmeal mess sprayed across the table, high chairs, floors and walls, while Leah went to use the bathroom.  Again, mom instinct kicked in and I realized she had been perched on the ivory throne for longer than I made my way into the bathroom to see what was going on.  She was still sitting on the toilet with her hands rested under her chin, with her eyes closed, and a focused look on her face.  I wasn't sure how to address the situation so I gently asked if she was feeling okay.  She then replied "A GIRL CAN'T POOP WITH AN ELF LOOKING AT HER! Plus its going to stink, so Mr Boots needs to pull that rag over his face!"  So after exploding in laughter, I did what she asked and pulled Mr. Boots blanket over his head long enough for her to do the deed.  Then as we left I uncovered his face and Leah suggested I turn on the fan for his sake....BAHAHHA!

Oh my....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Arrival of our Elf

This past weekend we were paid a visit by one of Santa's elves.  He is here for the Christmas season as an extra set of eyes on the kids.  He watches them from his perch somewhere in the house everyday until Christmas.  He then uses his magic to fly back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa of each child's daily behavior.  There are several rules though.  One, you have to name your friendly little elf.  Our special guest is now known as: Mr Boots.  Still not sure where they came up with that one, but every choice Leah suggested Autum said 'noooooo.'  And Blake just watched in wonder, with  his fingers in his ears.  (this has become his new go-to move whenever the girls are being loud--can't say I blame him).  So I made the final decision of Mr. Boots.  The other rule is: You cannot touch Mr. Boots.  If you do, he loses his magic and can't fly back to the North Pole each night to see Santa and his other elf friends and family.  So we read the book he brought along with him about his trip to our house, why he was visiting, and what would happen if the kids didn't behave.  Each morning when he returns, he'll be in a new look-out point to better observe.  And part of the fun is to find his new hiding spot upon awakening each day.

So Day 1's report: Mr. Boots made his home for Sunday atop the pantry in the kitchen.  The kids walked through the kitchen and peered up to make sure he was still there.  Well, by the end of the day, Mr. Boots must have gotten relaxed and fallen asleep. When Blake slammed the pantry door Mr. Boots flipped over and down the 5 foot drop to the tile floor. Making a hard landing.  Blake immediately grabbed him up and began shaking him, much to Leah's horror.  She began crying, "DON'T touch him, Blake!!!!  His magic is gone...!!  Moooooommmmm, (cries) Mr. Boots is dead.  His magic is gone.  Now we won't get any presents.....waaaahhhhh!"  Still not understanding, Blake tucked him under his arm and began to run away from what he thought was a threat to his new found friend.  Jerad scooped Mr. Boots up from Blake's arms and replaced him atop his perch.  Ensuring Leah that he was alive and his magic wasn't gone.  Blake just might not get any presents, but that she should, still.  

Day 2: Mr. Boots made his second day's appearance atop the oven hood in the kitchen.  Evidently most of the "trouble" occurs in the kitchen because he has made his stay there 2 days now.  I left the room to get dressed for the day and I returned to hear Leah in the kitchen saying something I couldn't make out.  My first thought was she was frustrated with something and was yelling, because it was quite loud.  My second thought was, she's going to wake the little ones.  So I scurried in to peek around the corner of the kitchen in time to make out what she was saying.  She is standing directly in front of the oven facing Mr. Boots head on...and this is what I hear: "BLINK!  Blink...I said BLINK! Blink....BLINK, Mr. Boots!!"  Upon requesting Mr. Boots to blink a few more times without any response on is part, she turns to me and says "he's not real, mom....he's not doing what I tell him too..."  I quickly came up with the idea that he was probably still sleepy and maybe not awake yet this morning.  She seemed to be satisfied with that answer and moved on. 

Stay tuned for more Mr. Boots adventures, because so far it has been quite interesting.  And I do have to say quite effective.  This time of year, you gotta use all the ammunition you can to keep your kids in line! Especially when they give you looks like this! :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

How My "Thankfulness" Is Different

I have been looking back at old posts I've written this past year and realizing just how much I've changed and am changing.  Still.

This was Christmas last year. 2011.
It's been a process, for sure.  This whole time we've discussed how we were going to be life-changing for Blake.  How we were going to help him.  Give him a future.  Improve his quality of life.  Help him.  Teach him.  Guide him.  Lead him. 

And yet...surprisingly so, he has been life-changing for us.  An unexpected blessing outside of him being a part of our family.  That is something we didn't learn in any adoption prep course.  Read in any books.  Or see in an online support group.

It has been gradual.  Almost unknowingly.  Creeping over us.

And I think I've finally been able to sum it up in one thought...gratitude.

That's what has been life-changing for me.  This overflowing joy that only comes through thankfulness. And this isn't what one experiences by posting 30 days of thankfulness on their facebook page for the month of November.  No.  It occurs from the inside out.  It isn't something you can say and it happens.  It isn't something you can do and feel better.  It is sustaining.  It is wholesome.  It is filling.  It is contentment.  It is pure.  It is slow-paced.  It is savoring. 

People ask me how this past year has been.  What adoption is like.  How we are doing.  How Blake is doing.   What we are doing.  And I'm always mixed with emotions in ways to answer. 

He HATED swinging at first.  Now it's the first place he goes at the park.
I will first has not been easy.  It hasn't always been fun.  Most times I have been without answers as to what to do.  It has been a process.  One that requires lots of patience.  Lots of open-mindedness.  Lots of willingness to change.  To throw all 'rules' out the door and just do it.  Lots of getting over my pride.  Lots of slowing down.  Sacrifice.

But with all of this:  lots of growth.
In many ways.

Physically, Blake has gained nearly 8 lbs.  Mainly muscle.  My squishy little boy is no longer.  He has grown out of 9 months clothes and currently wears 2-3T tops and 24-month pants.  His little feet are stretching out.  He can sit up alone.  Walk all over, up and down stairs, on various terrain.  He tries really hard to attempt's a little stiff-legged, but he manages to get going.  He climbs on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g!  This boy can pull himself up on top of any object.  He has overcome many fears related to heights and swinging motions.  He can sign "more" "eat" "drink" "juice" "please" "no"-(-complete with the head shake and arm cross across his chest)  He motions up and down.  Grabs my hand to lead me places.  Says "Mama." Grunts to get my attention.  He cries at most pain now.  Shows and understands his emotions and those of other people's.  He is starting to figure out this 'naughty' look I give him.  And he moves on.  He can eat off a plate with a spoon or fork, using his left hand.  He can complete puzzles.  Stack blocks.  Drink out of a straw.  Seek us out in a crowd.  Has more motor control of his mouth and keeps his jaw closed and his tongue in more often.  He chews his food much better.  He sleeps all night. 

He has put on some 'weight' you could say!
Physically, for me.  I'm on my feet approximately 15 hours a day.  Climbing on slides, playgrounds, stairs, and in and out of vehicles.  Balancing on items to reach the play dough jar that has rolled to the back of the cabinet, just out of my reach.  I can impersonate nearly all of the Sesame Street character voices.  Sing the Dora and Curious George theme songs.  Translate nearly all 'grunt' sounds into words and other toddler babble.  Get 2 kids out of the van with one hand, while carrying the other one on my hip. 

Using his spoon to scoop up his oatmeal!
All the other ways we've grown incorporate mental, emotional, and spiritual growth into one.  I can honestly say I've moved past this thought process of feeling like we are long-term babysitting.  For real, some days I'd look at Blake and not really feel like he was 'ours' yet.  The emotions/bonding just wasn't there toward him like it naturally is when you give birth to a child.  So for me, realizing the guilt I felt when thinking this way, is 'normal', helped me to release some of this emotion and let time take its toll on my mind.  As he slowly crept his way into my heart.  I honestly believe it has taken this much time for the rest of the family to grow to love him as a brother/son as well.  This is where the spiritual growth has taken off in leaps and bounds...release.  release. release.  Trust. trust. trust.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  Faith.  Faith.  Faith.  Grace.  Grace.  Grace. Over and over.  My prayers have transformed from pleading with God for help, for peace, for comfort, for His grace, and for sleep...every night.  To thankfulness for His timing, for His constant presence, for His peace, for His hand in bringing Blake into our lives.  Gratitude for bringing us through this past year in once piece.  As a family.  For the learning.  For the growth.  For the trials.  For the contentment I now have in everything.  Again, peace that surpasses all understanding. Or in today's language, "chill." 

And finally, also for the new outlook on life.  On people.  On purpose.  It is so much deeper.  So much more real.  So much more fulfilling.  So much more peaceful.

And for God using our little man to change us in such a BIG way, so far.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Big Times

This past week has been a big one for us.

Which explains why I haven't written anything in a while.  My grandma reminded me tonight that it's been more than a week since I've posted anything, so here's a quick rundown of what's been happening.

Nov. 17 & 18...
Jerad and Leah headed south to Oklahoma for rifle season in hopes of shooting a deer worthy of mounting on the wall and a doe or two for the meat.  He ended up shooting a nice deer, which I just found out we are having mounted...I keep catching him sitting on our couch in the living room determining which way he wants the deer mount head to be turned so it matches the other one we already have hanging...I said that discussion is not over yet...

I headed north to a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer's Course so I can teach classes in Crossfit now.  I had a 2-day seminar full of lecture, hands-on training, coaching/training, and working out.  The course was on Fort Leavenworth military base.  I had the best time.  I sweated and suffered through workouts next to men who have served to protect me and my family in several different countries, several different times, and I was never more honored or in awe of this opportunity.  What a humbling experience!  What incredible men and women!

Mom had the kids.  Everyone survived.

Then, Thanksgiving week began.  It consisted of recovery from the weekend.  Monday's are always the worst after a busy weekend out of the routine.  Autum clung to my leg, hollering "mom, mom....mama, mama, mom, mooooommmmy, mama...maaaaamaaaa....!" All day long.  I attempted to get Leah off to school with a sack lunch packed from an empty pantry.  Poor girl. I think she had half a hot dog, half a bowl of ravioli, a bag of chips, 1/2 an apple...and a juice box.  And a fruit snack...thank God for that! Blake just ensued his constant pestering of his sister, consistent with an ornery grin and a PeeWee Herman, evil laugh.

Wednesday we packed up and prepared to head back down south to Jerad's family for Thanksgiving day.  We are still limited to short trips for now, as Blake adjusts slowly, and to not throw off our routine too much, for the sake of us all losing our sanity.

But this day also represented Blake's GOTCHA DAY, one year ago.  That was the day we ransomed him from his orphanage forever.  You can read more about and see more about that day here.  Honestly it feels like he's been a part of our lives for so much longer.  He just fits in.  He is a perfect balance to my loud, crazy, high energy girls.  He's pretty chill.  Does his thing.  And has come SOOOOO far in just a year's time.

What a wee little, frail, scared boy here...I can just see it so clearly now as I look back at these pictures.  He had never known the consistent, loving presence of a parent.  Just a family, always being there.  Day in and day out.  All he had known was: A new 'nanny' crew each day to take care of him...same clothes, same routine, same crib to sit in, same mush food, limited affection shown, naivete to the world outside of his 4 walls, lack of love, lack of feelings, lack of care towards his needs...until we came along.

Then we celebrated Thanksgiving with family on a beautiful day in Oklahoma.  We spent the whole day outside working off all the food we ate.

Technically it was Blake's first Thanksgiving meal.  Let's just say he loves mashed potatoes!

Friday we returned to Kansas for a one day's break before heading to Hutchinson to celebrate with my family.  Friday was a big day for us for two reasons.  One, it was my mom's birthday!!  Two, it marked the one year anniversary of us returning home with Blake.  You can see more about the news story and pics from that trip here.  Oh what a day! Oh what a year!

I'll leave you with these pictures, but hope to write a blog this week about how much life for me and life for Blake has changed over this past year.  It's been just remarkable.  I'm not sure who has been affected more.
This is what happens when you only have one electric police 3-wheeler...

This is what happens when you stick out your tongue at your 'big', little sister...
And this is what happens as she drives away...

Evidently scare crows are not his favorite...this is what I walked into the front room to find him doing...the wind-up...

...the focus...

..and the punch!

Almost got one snapshot of them all looking at the camera...almost
And putting up the tree at Mimi Terri's..

Running up and down Mimi and Papa's hill at their house in the country.

Meg and buds...he LOVES her!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blake says...

Blake says:
"I have been home nearly a year and am really starting to get a grasp of this 'family' thing.  I don't like anyone but my mommy or daddy to feed me, now.  If anyone else tries I hide my spoon! it fits great behind my back, sticks to my shirt.  Speaking of spoons, I feed myself pretty much all of the time!  I love spooning my yogurt and oatmeal to my mouth, in the mornings.  And whatever I can't get with my spoon I rub all over my face with my hands, hoping I hit my mouth!  If not, it's always fun to rub in my hair!  And the stuff I don't like...the green stuff, I throw at crazy-hair girl.  Seriously, you should see her mane in the mornings...she looks like a screechy little lion!  We face each other in our high chairs so we usually catch up on the morning news.  She yells at me and shrieks...I growl back.  We like to get louder and louder, swinging our hands, and banging our trays with our spoons and bowls...always gets a reaction from mommy who is usually trying to tell Leah why it is important to brush her teeth and comb her hair for school...seems to occur every morning!  Who knows?  Mom usually comes at me with that stupid wet rag to wipe me off and peel the oatmeal and spoon from my back, before my day begins.  I LOVE playtime.  I usually rip the toy box lid off and start throwing toys everywhere.  I pretend to be busy, until crazy, chubby girl finds the toys she wants to play with...then I intervene.  IF she's watching cartoons, I'll go sit right next to her, enough to be touching and I slowly lift my foot up and rest it on her leg.  Then I sit and wait for it....wait for it...."AHHHHHH!" She shoves me over.....hehehehe, just the reaction I was hoping for.  I giggle in my PeeWee Herman belly laugh, before I sit up and try it again..hoping for an even bigger reaction.  This time I lean over on her AND slide my foot over, just enough to cover both of her legs.  And wait for it, wait for it....'BOBBBBBEEEEEEYYYY!?  NO! NO!"  Hehehehehehe.  One last time.  This is usually the time I get the best reaction...This time I lean over on her, slide my foot over on her legs, and then snatch her baby doll from her hands--at this time, I usually don't have to wait for a reaction.  First she screams..."AHHHHHH!? Then she starts pushing me around, slaps me on the head a few times, even goes so far to push me off the couch, sometimes jumps on top of me, and has even bit me a few times...then she cries. And sometimes if it hurts bad enough, I cry too.  Then we go our separate ways.  Mission accomplished for the morning.

Mom usually makes me sit down at the table and do some activity she calls "preschool."  I slide beads on shoelaces, hammer pegs into a sponge board, count and stack blocks, and then she gets out the activity I hate the worst.  Playdough.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.  If I can't eat it, I don't want to touch it.  And it doesn't taste good, trust me.  When is she going to get that figured out?  Preschool is usually over shortly after that, because I am done!  No playdough.  No. No.

Then after that I'm ready for round 2 with crazy girl.  She loves her new pink shopping cart and her curly-haired baby Cabbage Patch doll, therefore so do I.  I will wait until she takes her hands off of it for a minute, then swoop in, steal it and take off running.  Nothing more fun than a game of chase.  Unless I forget I'm wearing footie pajamas and they do not do well at top speeds on the tile floor.  She usually catches me if I fall.  And game is over.  But the days I'm feeling good, we can do 25 circles around the kitchen island before one of us poops out or mom trips on us and gets mad...then game over.  Dad isn't too fond of me pushing a pink shopping cart around, so we have to play this game inside.  But it is fun while it lasts.

The hour before bed is a great time as well.  We usually wrestle with daddy.  And nothing gets me more wound up than wrestling and pillow fights.  And then I can't stop.  I use my low base of stance to wrap my arms and legs around anyone who gets near me, in hopes of bringing them to the floor.  As soon as they hit the floor, I pounce!  Growling, waving my arms, and giggling.
I usually stop when mom and dad say "snack" or when everyone is crying.  I tell you those two girls I live with just don't know how to fight.  They get mad WAY to easy.  Which makes it more fun for me, the louder the reaction, the more I go after them.

See for yourself...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fit in Life

My job is to coach people with mental and physical disabilities in health, exercise, and nutrition.  I work closely with each client, and his/her case manager, support staff, family, and friends to help provide an encouraging environment for the client to make good decisions about his/her health.  I incorporate daily exercise into their routines, through either one-on-one or group efforts with me, as well as activity on the days I'm not around.  We make weekly menu's and grocery lists that each client chooses the meals and snacks to incorporate, on a budget.  We write down and discuss good out-to-eat options and offer incentives for good choices.  I try to weigh the clients monthly to provide progress charts.  But most importantly, we gauge progress in strength,range of motion, mood, focus, energy, wellness, and confidence.  Small improvements that most of the general population take for granted, are huge steps for my clients.

Here are a few of the improvements we measure..
--Combing my own hair.
--Lifting my arm high enough to put on deodorant.
--Helping transfer myself to and from my wheelchair.
--Standing up out of a chair without assistance.
--Climbing stairs without having to stop halfway up/down to catch my breath.
--Choosing water/tea instead of diet soda or regular soda during a weekly out to eat day.
--Bending over to pick something up off of the floor without losing my balance.
--Experiencing less pain in my joints and stiffness from sitting in a wheelchair all day.

Steven slamming the ball down and catching it.

Amy and Debbie doing sandbag carry in our team workout!
Lately, I have been incorporating Crossfit-style workouts in my client's weekly regimen.  And let me tell you...I have been blown away with the determination, strength, and efforts being put forth in these sessions.  Whoever says Crossfit can't be adapted to his/her needs or skill level is WRONG....check these videos out and tell me you can't do it.

Here Debbie is doing a workout we named after her:
"Little Debbie"
7 Pull Ups
7 Push Ups
7 Step Ups
7 Squats
...repeat 7 times.

And Amy doing the same workout, trying to beat Debbie's time!

And here is Janna Frank doing a Wall Ball/Pull Up routine.  This girl works SO hard every week for me!  And has lost nearly 50 lbs. in the process.  I'm anxious to see where Crossfit continues to take her.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween in the States!

Olympic gymnastic team
Atlanta Braves fan
Wednesday night we hit the streets to Trick or Treat!  Our town does a Trick or Treat Main Street, so we visited all the downtown businesses to be 'treated' by all the local business owners.  So we did a lot of walking. The only way we could get Blake to keep moving was for him to pull his wagon.  So he worked hard to fill that wagon up with candy.  Every time someone would put a piece of candy in his wagon, he'd sit down, and inspect it, before we could move on.  We stopped at the police station booth and the police chief handed Blake a tootsie roll...Blake shifted it around in his hand then threw it back in the face of the police chief...everyone held their breath for a moment, before he erupted in deep belly laugh, and we all exhaled.  He said "well, I guess you don't like tootsie rolls..." and held the bowl up for Blake to pick his own piece...Blake wrapped his arms around the entire bowl and lifted it out of the police chief's hands and tried to sit it in his this point we intervened and redirected Blake to another storefront...he got the hang of things before long.

It was difficult for him to keep up with Leah as she sprinted from store to store, which explains the lack of pictures I have of her.  And every time I turned around Autum was eating another piece of candy from her bucket.  She clearly didn't understand the diet of a gymnast.  By the end of the night, her bucket was half full, she was one big sticky mess, with chocolate drips stained down the front of her face and leotard, socks, and legs!  I literally had to pry the candy bucket from her hands to get her into the bathtub.  She stood at the edge of the tub, naked, with the bucket in her hands, screaming "MINE!"  For the past 2 days, every word out of her mouth has ended with "caaannnny, mom?"

We headed home early, ordered pizza, and celebrated Blake's birthday with more candy and more cake!  Autum had been asking for 'cake' all day, whenever I said it's Blake's birthday.  So she got her wish.  Then everyone bounced off the wall for a while before crashing hard.

The bank was giving out bags of popcorn, when Blake realized this, he was done!  He plopped himself down and wasn't moving.  So that ended up being our last stop!