Monday, December 29, 2008

Photos from Christmas

Not much time to really say anything, so I'll just leave some of the pictures we took.  They were at various places for Christmas, hence the change in outfits.  The kids pretty much loved everything they got.  I can't think of anything they dismissed, so while they were not spoiled with lavish gifts, they got great things they loved.  

Cole received a toolbox complete with some small tools, camoflauge pants, a PS2 game, remote control car, a nerf dart game to share with Chase and a couple of other small items.

Chase received a remote control car, the dart game to share with Cole, Boggle, a basketball, baseball bat, MP3 Fuze (which was really cool), some boots, a Leapster game and some other small items.

Kaelin received MORE Polly Pockets, her cherished Charcoal Cat Webkinz, a Leapster game, magnadoodle, a bike, bed lamp, bath robe, TinkerBell movie, a storage footrest, Trouble (for trouble) and some other items.

Chelsi received Polly Pockets (to which she has yet to show interest), her "very own" Leapster (in her words), a Leapster game, Cranium Hullaballoo (which all 4 love!), Hungry Hippos, her princess tent, a storage footrest, princess tea set and some other items.

Grandma and Grandpa received a laptop from us and the kids since they refuse to accept money for all the kid watching they do...summer breaks, Christmas breaks, afterschool, etc.  I think it caught grandma a little off guard and brought some tears, but we were happy to make that purchase!

And, no, this is not her's Aunt Meg's.

The tent from Tom and of the faves!

Megan, Kae and Chelsi with "cousin" Dash.  :)

Then and Now

I was loading all of the pictures from my camera from Christmas to the computer this weekend when I saw the Christmas picture and it reminded me of something else.  It reminded me of the picture we took of the kids the day Chelsi came home from Korea.  We're just shy of 3 years since Chelsi joined our family and I can't believe how much they've grown and changed since that picture in March 2006.  It's amazing how babyish the older 3 look.  It's amazing how much Chels really hasn't changed, but has all at the same time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Life changes and rearranges

and you have to keep up.

I couldn't sleep anymore and didn't want to wake anyone, so I got out of bed.  I've been googling all morning for something to help Brian gain some more function/strength.  As I was doing this I was thinking about how much our lives have changed.  Not just since his accident, but ongoing changes.  I think outside of anyone's family/relationships people assume other people's lives are better than theirs or perfect.  I know I do sometimes.  It's, most times, impossible to know the complexities in someone else's life.  Never be too quick to judge that person's life.  I have realized, more and more, through our experiences that, like Brian told our son the other night, "if you think you have it bad someone else always has it worse".  VERY TRUE!

I know we have it good.  In the scheme of life and important needs and necessities we have it all.  I think others outside us would think we had a perfect life.  For the most part, a quick judgement would make our lives look extremely easy.  I know that others have had it much harder, but I also know the reality of our life and that it has NEVER been easy.  We've had to constantly adjust to our ever changing rules in life. 

When I thought we'd just get married, have kids and live happily ever after I was wrong.  I would never say life is bad; it's just constantly rearranging my thinking, goals and expectations.  The kid part came hard when our geneticist told us we would most probably not have mentally healthy children.  That was a blow that changed the way I planned to go about having or not having our children.  So, 15 years after she told us that we have 4 children.  They were never easy to have, but we have them just the same.  We just had to reroute our plans on how to have them.

When I thought we'd just have healthy children, I was wrong.  I thought mental health would be our own real obstacle.  When Cole was born with Tet, I was devastated.  My healthy boy wasn't healthy.  He never will be a perfectly healthy child.  To us he is, but when you can't even get him nonrated life insurance you know society doesn't consider him perfectly healthy. 

One more boy with a birth defect, subsequent surgery, and two adoptions later Brian's accident takes the largest toll on our lives.  Our lives have been changed and rearranged for 15 years.  We should be used to it by now, but you never get used to it since it's, obviously, never anything you could plan for.  Not the stuff we've had.  I mean, I can handle sick kids, multiple UTIs on one, annual heart care of another, the 4 surgeries between 2, the birth related issues of another and yes even the seizure, but Brian was hard.  I don't know what it was about the accident; the threat of life, life as we knew it, being separated involuntarily?  I don't know.  I just know we've always been able to work our way through the other stuff with, relatively no issues.  Maybe it's just because those other issues, though large to a lot, they weren't.  We adjusted, we grew stronger.  And while, "we're" fine, it's been a long road and we've still got some road to go.  It changes the way you look at each other.  Your dreams in life become different.  How can they not?  You see your spouse go through something at a, young age, that is hard to watch.  Very few know the residual effects left from the accident.  Most people assume he's 100% again because outwardly he looks that way.  No one knows the hurt he has for himself or I have for him because he doesn't think he'll ever run again or have a comparatively normal muscle strength in areas he's lost.  It's changed what we worry about, think about, dream about. 

He's still new to SCI world.  One year post-injury isn't that long, but when you're in construction and strength and movement is your livelihood, it's a tough one to deal with.  You just want it to be a little more normal everyday and when it stops improving or is improving so slowly you can't really see it, it's harder to take.  We work so hard at our marriage and kids.  Part of all this makes us stronger, but I can't help but think part of it makes me weaker.  I'm a worrier by Type A trade, so this gives me more to worry about through life.  It does make us parent differently, which can be better.  I just hope God gives us the grace in life to continue to deal with life-long changes such as the ones we've had.  I pray He shows us what to do and others continue to give us the chances we need to make it and continue with lives as we knew them. 

And I pray God gives others the chance to see past the outward appearance of someone's life and realize that no one's life is perfect and they are more blessed than what they think.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sad AND Pathetic

What the hey!  They really should have to own up to their plan and go through an inquisition the way the auto makers had to.  This is in sane.  They make millions during a recession where most are losing their jobs, homes, etc. and only dream of making $100,000 a year, let alone millions.

And our government's big push to pass this stupid bank bailout was that taxpayers will make their money back and then some?  Please!  What a load of bologne.  They guys had no scrupples to begin with.  This is how we got in this situation.  And they're not going to stop because the US government bailed them out.  They going to take advantage and it looks like they wasted no time in doing that.

Noises from downstairs

Sounds a little like the title to a horror flick.  :)  It's really just noises from the rec room where the kids spend the majority of their time with toys, books and tv.

I consider quiet time as no noice.  The absence and pure void of anything from downstairs.  And usually when the downstairs is quiet, yet all four kids are awake, this means trouble.  It seldom means they're all just playing nicely, though it has happened on occasion.

Then you have medium noise.  It's not a constant clammering of children's voices.  It's just talking here and there as they play and converse.

Then you have LOUD!  It's a tad more of a constant  echo in the house.  It usually consists of at least one child yelling at the other or someone ends up crying.  Most times it begins with laughter and turns into someone crying.  Hard to punish when someone ends up crying after they all thought it was a fun activity in the beginning, so we don't.  :)

The quietness only occurs about 10-15% of the time they're all together.  The medium and LOUD is the remaining of the 100%.  They're fairly split with LOUD having a slight lead on medium.

I will have to record them when they're LOUD sometime.  It's hard to catch them doing that because generally they're watching for us to come down the stairs and they can even see us at the top and catch us and quickly go quiet or start blaming each other.  :) 

I taped the medium today on Cole's MP3 from the top of the stairs.  I was able to get to the bottom without being caught and record them from behind a wall.  Here are the sounds you hear in our house.  Just click on the link below, open the file and click on the arrow button to page through.  The LOUD page is incomplete at this time.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh joy...the first ice of the season.

Just sitting here and suddenly I hear the pings of ice on the screen, siding and deck.  Tomorrow morning ought to be fun trying to get kids to daycare, possibly school and myself to work.  I can handle some snow, but I HATE ice!

Wonder what tomorrow morning will bring?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's only starting....

Our K and 3rd grader had their Christmas program tonight.  After the program was over I went to get the 3rd grader and then we made our way to get our kindergartner.  Right when we got over to her class there was a little girl, held by her dad, saying "hhhiiii Chasie".   He was polite enough to say high back, but was practically shrinking down like it was painful.  :)  Turns out this little girl is a friend of Kaelin's.  Apparently, Kaelin tries REALLY hard at recess to bug her brothers, as do her friends with her, if she can.  For now, it's driving the boys nuts!  But, after next year even Chase will be in separate school from her and as they get older he may very well appreciate her friends hangin' around.

Actually, I'm willing to bet this will happen in several more years.


Sunday, December 7, 2008


We're going through the motions of all the Christmas hullaballoo...the Christmas programs, decorating, the Christmas card pic.

They love the decorating and watching movies together.  Yes, we usually, actually, watch a few Christmas movies together as a family.  Christmas movies are my favorites, so I'm inflicting that habit on my children and so far they seem to enjoy it.  :)  First, I have a picture of the kids in front of the tree in their pj's.  This is a tradition, but the tradition is usually to use the picture on our Christmas card.  However, I was proactive this year and took a picture in early November so I would have plenty of time to get the card printed and glad I did with all of the flus going through the house.  Chase was sad we didn't take a picture in front of the tree in their pj's so they asked that I do that even though we would not use on a card.  I asked them to make a goofy face and this is what I instantly got:

Here are the kids decorating the upstairs and downstairs trees.

My little Christmas reindeer being the ham she is.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Reflections of Thankfulness

A little gushy, but year end, you're supposed to be, right? 

I wrapped the kids' presents today, so they can stare at them for 3 weeks and try to guess what they're getting from mom, dad and Great Grandparents. :) :)  My daughter is going to her very first birthday party and for a Chinese adoptee friend in her class.  I'm so excited for her to be going to her first party.  For a girl it's a big thing!

I think today how fortunate we are.  Fortunate for 4 wonderful (fighting sometimes, but wonderful) kids and a wonderful (annoying sometimes, but wonderful) husband who survived what could have been a horrible accident this year.  We all survived a very sickly year of appendectomies, febrile seizures, house remodel/addition, over six weeks without our husband/father and plenty of unknowns with it all. 

Kaelin is 6 and began kindergarten this year.  Something that's hard to believe she's already there.  In a town of less than 1,000 and a school of 400 (K-6) she has 18 children in her immediate classroom (almost 60 in K) and she has 3 adopted Asian children (Korea, China and Vietnam) in this small communities' classroom. I'm glad for this.   My daughter is a very popular girl in her class.  I've never seen so many kids run to be around her when we go to a school function.   She's a very sweet girl and that's why she has so many friends.

Chelsi is 3 and has begun reading sight words, since Grandma has run out of things to teach her at daycare and she loves it.  She's a cuddle bug like no other and momma's little baby.  Not potty trained yet, but she's my baby, so oh well. 

Cole and Chase are 11 and 8 are working harder than ever to get good grades and retain the ability to play sports.  Cole can be so grown up sometimes.  He has been there when mom needed a man in the house and he's beginning to show a lot of maturity.  Chase is transitioning through maturity and it's been a little hard on him, but he still let's mom kiss him and hug him and that's the best.  He's a BIG boy and I forget sometimes he's only 8. 

My children show their love and affection for each other and us.  I know they're not perfect and neither are we, but we must be doing something right.  When I hear that Chase was sick at Grandma's after school and everyone went outside except Kaelin.  She stayed to eat and talk and keep my 8 year old company.  I know my kids are wonderful, caring human beings who I'm very privileged to raise.