Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Break Shenanigans

     Oh my word do I ever love Spring Break!! It's not just about the break y'all.....but what it signifies. For us that homeschool, Spring Break is a sign from above.....a beautiful break in routine yes, but oh so much more. Let me explain in plain English. It means 'You survived the 3rd nine weeks of school,' (man, oh man the hardest by far!!)........and only ONE more 9 weeks ahead of us! We can do this! We got this girls! I can FEEL the momentum going forward!
     The Doc was able to take the entire week off with us this year. Can't remember the last time that happened. We wanted to take a family vacation that was as fun for the parents as it would be for the kids. We didn't want to travel far (to have more time to play) and didn't want it to be a lot of work for us....the parents because we REALLY needed a break too. Our schedules have been insanely crazy the past few months and we were looking to chill as much as we could. The theme for me this Spring Break was 'perspective.' I needed to get that back. I needed time to think, read, process and be. Renewal was calling. We needed to do nothing......(like our kids would let us really do that....silly us....but you get the point, right?)
     So where'd we go? We hopped in our SUV and invaded Disney World's Fort Wilderness Campground for the week. We usually make it here at least once per year. Not the camping type? Well, camping at Fort Wilderness is not exactly camping. Being Disney, everything is first class from the acres and acres of wooded campsites to the pristine bathrooms to the magnificent pool and grounds. You can rent 'cabins' (fully equipped motor homes made to look like log cabins), bring your own RV or tent camp. The programs for kids are incredible and you really never need to use your car the entire time as the bus system is fantastic, and/ or you can ride your bikes everywhere. What is amazing to us is that you feel like you are in the middle of the quiet woods yet you are just minutes away from the theme parks if you want to hop over and back during the day. We have been coming here for well over 20 years and it just doesn't get old. There is something for everyone for sure. For the last 5+ years we have alternated staying in the cabins with tent camping with the cousins. This year though we tried something different .....which turned out to be the best yet.
     This year we located a company that rents RV's and trailers at Fort Wilderness. When you arrive at your campsite you find it completely set up for you (read.....the Dad has to do NO set up....sweet!) and they even 'theme' it out for you according to your family's tastes. We rented a pop-up trailer for the week.....with hot/cold indoor plumbing, refrigerator, stove, queen, king beds and cable TV. The girls love "Frozen" so when we arrived the entire trailer was decorated with Anna and Elsa.....and gifts awaited each girl upon her bed. So cool. All we brought was clothing and our food. Some of the Doc's favorite memories from his childhood are of the camping trips he and his two brothers shared. Since we have 3 girls at home we want them to experience the same close-knit family connections, and we work really hard to make sure that happens.....all while managing and loving jobs, friends, church, etc.
     Even though we were very active all week this was one of the most restful vacations we've ever had. A very needed break without a lot of the work.....and a lot of bang for your buck. Check out Fort Wilderness if you are ever in the Disney area. You won't be disappointed. Commercial done. Enjoy the pics:)

This is before we settled in and dirtied it up a little:)

Huge pool, water slides, fun activites, craft classes, arcade.....all while the parents got some much needed R&R. 

We hit the MK with our friends visiting from Maryland.

Had so much fun catching up with friends we hadn't seen in a while. The kids just picked back up and had a blast!

Outdoor pancake breakfasts:)

Lots of early morning snuggles:)

The girls had a blast playing with kids from all over the country.....doing what kids do. This was street graffiti day:)

Every night at Fort Wilderness there is a bonfire and outdoor movie. Such awesome memories made while making s'mores and hanging out as a family. A little flashlight tag on the way back to camp is a must too!

Blondie is our reader. I think she read this one in less than 2 hours. Yep, the whole thing.

I love that they had time.....lots of time to just be. And not have to wear shoes. Or be anywhere except in the moment.

This girl looked like this the whole time. Net over shoulder.....being drawn into the nature world around her. She sees things the rest of us don't. Mark my words.....she's going to be a brilliant biologist one day.

She always finds something. This trip she found bats......and bunnies.

There's a story here. Always a story.

Love this pic of our Blondie. Great kids. 

Many of the Disney horses are kept here.....so of course....there is where Nature Girl could be found.

The Wubbanator conquers the Fort!

Everywhere we go (we are waiting for our name to be called for dinner) she finds a way to fit in gymnastics. Every.where.


She sat for hours and caught/released fish. Hours. See how gorgeous it is??

Preferred method of transportation when in camp.....by foot, bike or golf cart. We put some miles on this baby.

See the deer? 


The Doc and I made it a point to have some together time each day....mostly by running the trails through the campground. We love the quiet woods....running into a deer or two along the way. Our kind of awesome.

Until next time! Only one more 9 weeks until the next adventure!!
   

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Why Didn't She Want Me?

     It happened. This came out of Mei Mei's mouth yesterday. It has caused me (knowingly) a lot of grief over the last 24 hours.......Here's a little backstory.

     It's that time of year when we make the round of specialists with Mei Mei. Both Nature Girl and Blondie have their own sets of medical issues but they are on a different schedule than Mei. So all crammed into the last and next few weeks are Mei-Mei's specialists including eye work-ups, bloodwork and such.  It's looking like (99.9% sure) we are going to have to do medical intervention for a special need that she has that will be ongoing for quite some time. I'm still wrapping my head around it and let me make this clear......Mei is NOT happy about it. Not that we expected her to be.

     Let me just say this here. If you are interested in adoption, have adopted or are in the process.... and are requesting a 'healthy' child.....please take note. Your child will have issues even if they were healthy at adoption.  I know that is a broad-brush statement to make....but I wish someone had told me to my face this years ago. ANY child that is in a compromised womb situation (which most adopted kids are in some way, shape or form) will carry with them scars from that that may not manifest themselves for years. It may be in the form of a genetic trait manifested as a learning issue......or a genetic eye condition, blood issue, ADHD, etc. Did you know that adopted kids are more than 50% likely to have some type of learning difference?? I wish I had known more statistics because I feel we could've been better prepared to face what we have had to. We found out this past year that Mei Mei has another genetic issue (undetectable to the naked eye.....and doesn't interfere with her daily life) that would've put her on the Special Needs list .....had China detected it. She was adopted by us as a healthy NSN (non-special need) adoption. There you go. You just don't always know.....nor can you predict.

     Back to the story at hand. Doctor visits can be tricky and EXTREMELY stressful...especially as the girls get older. I always go in with my radar on and boxing gloves ready....(which I rarely use cause we only pick the best docs! Every once in a while I have to get heady with a nurse that just doesn't get it....but that's rare.)  The biggest issue we face is not knowing any genetic history, background or family genealogy....and having to explain this over and over and over......with your child right there. Which is what happened yesterday.

     We are in a position with Mei where it would be 100% easier in proceeding with a medical issue we are facing if we had some family history....only we don't. Z. E. R. O. It is quite the topic of conversation at the doctor's office ....handled very professionally but talked about nonetheless. We handle it the best we can but this time it really bothered Mei Mei. She's older now and is asking questions.
   
     So......in the dark last night.....after everyone had gone to bed....including me.....she snuck into bed with me and asked the oh so dreaded question....."Why didn't she want me? You know....my other mom. The one in China." I was dumbstruck. How do you answer a question that clearly is a legitimate one....only you don't have a legitimate answer? Here's my answer to that last question. I. Don't. Know. (I also think it's interesting that the girls never, ever talk about their birth Dads. Ever. Like they didn't exist. Weird to me.)

     In the dark....with her held close I helped validate her feelings and talked through different scenarios of her being left at the orphanage......leaving all options with the words, "because you were loved....." I felt like I was winging it....and I was. Mei has always taken information about her birth and orphanage days with a grain of salt and has never been interested much in all things China....so this was a complete surprise. She will tell you she's 100% American and very much a Florida girl.  I'm still not sure if she accepted my answer. I told her what I thought about her situation......and how much she was/is cherished (in more depth than I'm writing here) and how I would love to take her back to China so she can walk on the ground of where she came from and find some answers when she's older......if only for peace of mind and heart. BUT....it's her story and hers alone. It bothers me that she's feeling insecure now about her beginnings but we knew this was bound to happen one day. We are here. Scary....not surefooted. Y'all can pray for me in the coming days as we walk this through. I know the answer is in Jesus....and him only.....but we have to get her there and it's sure to be a process. This is hard. So hard.  To be continued......

   


   

Monday, March 2, 2015

When Your Day Screams Back At You

     I was all set to post pics from our most recent vacation (for some of us) to parts north.....until we hit a detour. This blog and family is about keeping it real. Real family means real struggles. When you throw adoption issues into the mix sometimes things get just plain hard. Because I don't want to paint a romantic, all rosy picture of what our life is like.....I will take you back to yesterday.
     Yesterday was a typical Sunday. All of us including our  one year old Wubba that spends the night with us on Saturday nights so his parents can channel their musician side for Sunday's worship team,  made it to church on time and even dressed appropriately. Hair was washed (y'all laugh but you'd be surprised) and manners were on. It was a great Sunday.
     Sunday afternoon was typical. The Doc and I went on our date (usually a run....yep, it's where we talk and implement anti-aging protocol all in one fell swoop). It rained. We cut our time short which was ok because I knew we had work to get to at home.
     Nature Girl had a project due for school. It seemed simple enough. She had to build a balloon racer car with certain requirements that didn't seem difficult at all. Science is her thing and The Doc had volunteered to do this project with her knowing it would be a fun one. We always keep our Sunday afternoons free for school. Why? Because it relieves the stress and pressure of an overloaded week if we work ahead and pre-do projects/reports and whatnot. Again, the school the girl's attend (and just happens to be where I also work) is AWESOME but it is highly academic and with some of the girls issues it has become mandatory that Sunday is 'get ahead' day.
     ONLY THE BALLOON RACER TOOK 5 HOURS!!!!!!! Nature Girl and The Doc worked and worked. He's a scientist and the dang car wouldn't perform to specifications set forth on the sheet sent home from school....which weren't hard....in theory.....for 5 freaking hours! Many prototypes later and waaaayyyyy after dark the car was done. However no other school for Nature Girl was accomplished which desperately needed doing.  No, no, bueno because she takes the longest to do her work. We continued to do school well into the night....with the clock ticking. (And this mom pacing.....because well, school wasn't done and the orthodontist is never open on convenient Friday, Saturday or even Sunday now are they and guess where we had to be the next day?? With our work done??)
     Picture frustrated balloon racer people with mounds of tools piled up on the kitchen table....including a power drill, LARGE saw, and wire galore. Gotta hand it to The Doc. He was under pressure because early Monday meant travel for him.....and he hadn't even begun to think about packing or getting ready. Balloon car after balloon car was a dud and he never ever lost his temper or his resolve. The final result worked wonderfully but it sure took a while to get there. Did I mention it took 5 flipping hours??????
     So hopefully you have the picture in your head of what should have been easy project turned evil by now. As I'm watching project workers toil the other two girls were well on their way to getting ahead, and having their little school ducks in a row. I should have known better. You see one of them (not going to throw said child under the bus....no she shall remain anonymous), suffers from low blood sugar 'issues' to put it mildly. I hadn't monitored said child's food intake very well in my efforts to plunge ahead and get work accomplished (I'm very task oriented and a goal setter) which in this case backfired. In other words....I forgot to feed a kid. About halfway through Balloon racer hell.....this kid had a total blood sugar meltdown.....which for this child means tantrum throwing, mean-squared, wall- kicking kind of head-spinning crazy until sugar normalizes. Can be a couple of hours. This one was a doozy....like we haven't seen in some time. Awesome. There went her school 'get-ahead' opportunity along with any sanity I had left.
     Only there's one kid left. During balloon racer trauma, tantrum throwing other kid, the third daughter shuffles up to me with a hand extended weirdly over her eye. This can only mean one thing. Migraine. This particular child suffers from acute childhood migraines. If you have never experienced one.....I pray you never will. It's suffering of the worst kind and usually involves screaming, vomit, need for complete silence, put in a room in total darkness and lots and lots of mom's attention....for hours and hours. This couldn't be happening. But it was. Over the next hour or two...meds were administered....the worst of it passed.....and we lived. It was drama that ended with a giant "whew!"
     The project got done. Monday brought the orthodontist, more school, gymnastics and other appointments. All our school was done on time but not without a whole heck of a lot of stress. During the worst of it I'll have to admit....I was close to tears myself. This was the perfect storm. All three needed major parenting all at the same time. There was no choosing to be done.....and we, the parents, were outnumbered. You see, adopted kids will come with issues as do biological children. Many do not surface until years later as in the migraines. I've come to expect them and not be surprised. However, Monday the sun still came up....I was there to greet it as I'm accustomed to doing being an early riser. We survived the day that screamed back at us.....not well, not even remotely pretty,  and questioning some of my parenting techniques later......but life isn't always neat and tidy wrapped up with a giant bow. This is  especially with children who didn't have neat and tidy beginnings. All you can do is get up and do the next day.....prayerfully with great hope that the one who formed them in their very beginnings is here with you in the messes guiding, providing wisdom and forming them into images of their great Creator God.  The Doc and I are just the vessels being used to make these incredible little people into who they are intended to be. Sometimes our vessels are tired, broken and in need of repair.....and other times we are refreshed and ready. Wherever you find yourself today, look to the one who doesn't shield you from the screaming days.....but holds your hand through them. Yesterday, I had the feeling of being completely at a loss and in an out of control situation.....but in it...when I sought it there was grace. Much much grace. The well never runs dry....that deep sustaining grace that is there for the asking.
     Today was awesome. Stress free (mostly) and all beauties were back to normal......for now. Smile. Onward! (Can someone please book me a weekend in a remote tropical place? Pretty please? A weekend is all I need. Promise!)