Monday, April 30, 2012

Making a list...

Along with a list of things we want to buy in Korea, a list of things to bring to Korea and a list of things we should try to, slowly, buy over the next year to bring to Korea.  For now, most of that list is coming down to things to make the trip pleasurable for Jaemin and, in turn, for all of us.  I've been perusing other blogs and educational sites reading about inexpensive, non-noisemaking ideas for activities for kids on planes.  But, I'm mostly interested in sensory activities.  This is hard because he seems sensory seeking and most of those activities are ones where he would need to be up and around.  This is tough...can't do that on a plane.

I'm going to make a big ziplock bag of crafty things that I don't care about like those fuzz ball things, yarn and beads.  I'm planning to bring floam in a taped ziplock for a fidget toys, maybe a stress ball or two.....found some at the $1 store, but if I can get some free, I'm going to start watching for them.  I also saw these great I Spy lap bags that people are making on Etsy.  I can't afford $20 + shipping, so when I googled how to make one myself I came across a lady who took a pencil case and made one.  So, I'm thinking I'll make 3.  I can stitch them together, then 1 lays across his lap and the other two would weigh that one down on either side.  I could fill each one with different types of items for him to find making it a weighted lap bag, fidget toy and game all in one.  In my head this makes sense, but we'll see.  First I have to find tiny little toys and items to put inside with the rice and beads.

I put sugarless gummies on my list for this week.  Cole says they're nasty, but Jaemin will eat just about anything.  Supposedly, chewing something like gum (which just isn't possible for Jaemin) is good for a sensory 'work out'.  I'm trying to keep the sugar level for Jaemin down as there seems to be a pretty direct correlation to some of his stimming and this.  While Jaemin's been in bed for an hour now he is calmer tonight.  We're implementing a no tv, no iPod 1 hour before bedtime.  It stimulates him much too much.  We're making it part of his Korea social story so that, hopefully, when we fly we can say 'one hour before Jaemin sleeps Jaemin can't play iPod or watch tv'.

If the flight doesn't go well next year I wish the other passengers could know just how hard we tried to prepare.  Our trip to TX is our little trial run. Yikes!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our new additions

Last week I posted the kids waiting for a new addition.  There were 4 kittens born to Cuddles in several hours.  When we went to bed there were only two kittens and by morning there were 4.  We ended up with 3 calicos (one was tortoiseshell) and 1 white kitten with brown spots just like momma.

Unfortunately, one of the beagle pups got out of his kennel while we were at work and got our tortoiseshell kitten.  We were going to keep that one for Chelsi, so we're a little bummed and now the pups have to be closely supervised while out or they can't come out.  Needless to say for the rest of that day he got sent to his room.  Chelsi picked out the kitten that looks just like Cuddles, so that's the one she'll get.  And the other two calico females, we'll have to find homes for and then get Cuddles fixed this summer so there will be no more kittens.  They are pretty cute and starting to move around a lot more now and their bellies ARE fat!  Momma takes good care of them and if you hold one and it cries she comes running and gives you a dirty look until you put it back in the house.  They still haven't opened their eyes, but should soon.

Just a couple days should see them now.

Crafty weekend preparing for trips

It's been a rainy weekend and Chelsi needed new shoes, so we went shopping and then spent some time at Hobby Lobby so we could do some projects over the weekend.

Today we made tshirts for the girls.  We bought those iron on jewels and needless to say I was starting to wonder what we were doing.  Unfortunately, the directions for the jewels were not as good as the iron on patches, but we were trying the jewels first.  I gave up after several attempts at ironing them and them lifting right off.  We went to the preset jewels that were on plastic.  They stuck right away.  So, I finally decided to follow those directions for the individual jewels and voila!  The girls picked out the words and they, naturally, fit their personalities.  Chelsi selected 'sweet pea' while Kaelin selected 'wild child'.  So fitting for both.

We put their Korean names in Hangul on the shirts which I was having a difficult time trying to align the jewels to form the characters, but we got them.  Then, the girls each picked out patches for another shirt.  Kaelin picked 'diva' and we put 3 hearts of jewels on the back of the neck.  Chelsi picked 'cutie' and we put a jeweled flower on the back of the neck and one jeweled flower on each sleeve.  They're not perfect, but they're one of a kind and cute and the girls like them.

We also decided to get some nylon and supplies to make a child leash.  It started out as just wanting to make one, but Chelsi said she wanted one too.  She doesn't think she can stay with us when we go to TX next month and is worried she'll get lost in a crowd or when we go to Korea.  Chelsi picked out pink and we got blue for Jaemin.  Basically it's just a loop for the parent and one for the child with a buckle in between so we can separate if we need to.  It seems to work, but we'll try it out next month.  Mainly, it's an alternative if Jaemin insists on walking, but accidentally lets go of our hand, which he frequently does. This way he can't get too far and get hurt.  Brian's very much against me getting one of those child harnesses, so this was the best thing I could think of.  It took me a couple of hours to hand-sew all the velcro on, but we got it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

He said it, I didn't

I had Cole drive Chelsi and I to gymnastics tonight so he could get some night driving time in. Chase decided to tag along too. It was very boring for them, but oh well.
We were watching Chelsi with her instructor and I made a comment that she could do it, if she could just keep her legs straight. Seriously, it would look pretty good then, a cartwheel and roundoff that is. So Cole says they're not that hard. I said 'oh, so you can do one'. He says 'it doesn't take a genius'. I said 'well, Chelsi can't seem to do it'. Then, I caught myself and said 'oh, that's why you can do it and she can't....a genius can't do it'. Cole just laughed. I said 'you said it, not me'. He said, 'I know'. :) It was pretty funny. Maybe you just had to be there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3rd Graders have WAY too much energy

I went on my daughter's 3rd grade field trip to the science center. I only had her and another girl, so it wasn't too bad. Luckily there were a lot of parents that tagged along. Kaelin definitely had a good time hanging out with her friends and since she never asks me to go on field trips and I invited myself I asked her if I embarrassed her at all and she said no. YAY!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Open Honesty to Help Others

I know how much reading other blogs or talking to people you know really has helped me over the years. Without talking about your problems or goals you don't realize you're not alone. You don't realize you can do something you didn't think you could. You don't realize that something really might be within reach and you might just give up on something or not start and lose sight of something you feel could be important; all due to fear.

Fear is strong. Trust me. I know. I am OCD, Type A and it consumes me on money and it's a point of contention for me. Since we decided that we were going to set a tentative date of going to Korea for next May or June (after school's out) it's time to really buckle down to see where the budget is and watch the costs of going to Korea and check into them more accurately.

 Doing so I can really see where my budget for Korea is. My high budget for all 7 of us to go to Korea is $22,000. WOW! Are your eyes popping out? Mine sorta do, but not really because I've thought about this for so long.  We've been saving for a long time.  Kaelin and I actually started talking about it when she was 3.  So, most definitely for over 6 years.  And I know $22,000 sounds like we're trying to go on this 1st class trip, but not really.  I'll cut it down here:  $2,000/plane ticket x 7 (economy class on the high side, hopefully), $90/parking at the airport, $70 bus to Seoul, $2,600/about 11 nights in Seoul, $715 to take the train and stay a night in Gwangju (Jaemin and Chelsi's birth city), $1,656 to fly to Jeju and stay 2 nights (Kaelin's birth city/island), $70 to take the bus back to the airport, $1,200 for 12 days of food for 7 people and 3 meals (should be on the high side), $200 for subway (not sure how accurate I am on this), $1,000 for souvenirs and incidentals (my catch all just in case).   Total is $21,601!

So, here's where we stand right now.  We will be getting our tax refund soon and we should end up with $14,630 in the Korea account.  Many refunds, Discover Card rewards, rebates, you name it we put the extra money in there.  We should get another tax refund next year and save some to put in another $6,000.  Great right!  BUT, I have a $2,000 estimate in my budget to pay for our septic field tweak we need.  The guy today says it should only be about $500, but I'm leaving my budget as is, just in case.  I also have Cole now getting braces.  I haven't reimbursed ourselves from our HSA plan for Chase yet, so I'll be able to use his HSA money and still have to come up with $500.  This leave us at $18,130 by next March or April.  This leaves me needing to come up with $3,471 by then.  That's a lot!  Not really sure it can be done, but we're going to keep on trying.

There's no way to know that Make a Wish will have the capability to grant Cole such an enormous wish, so we're going through with our plans for our family before Cole doesn't get the chance to do it before his surgery.  This is a real picture of how much a large family CAN save.  We don't make a lot of money, so I think it's pretty amazing.  But, we also know a lot can come up still and prevent us from going.  Not just the $3,471.  Anything can happen and start making that total rise.

Encourage yourself if you have a dream.  This is OUR dream for our whole family.  We are trying very hard to make it a reality and in the end at least we can't fault ourselves for not trying at all.  I realized that all things were possible after we adopted our 3 younger kids.  And after Cole has exceeded expectations for his heart.  Keep that in mind and go for it, no matter what.  Have no regrets.  That's what life is about.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

1 more for braces

Cole's getting braces too. Next month, Cole will have braces put on his lower teeth. His upper two front teeth will be the only ones on top to be treated. The orthodontist said he's basically throwing in the top two brackets to shore up his two front teeth as the rest of his upper jaw is in good shape. No crowds, good alignment, just an overbite. I think it was around 6mm. This guy said the same thing the other guy did 9 months ago. Basically, his lowers are over crowded. And because of that he looks like he has a second row of teeth down there because it pushes them out into a slant. He also has a crossbite, that I wasn't aware of, that has caused the upper molar to come down and shove the lower molar onto it's side....almost totally. It's kind of weird looking. It's no longer a cosmetic need, so we need to put him in braces too. It has been an EXPENSIVE year with 2 in braces and 1 teenager's car. Thank God we spent the first 18 years of our marriage saving! Cole's finally warmed up to the idea of the care required for braces and is ready. The great thing is that the ortho says that by correcting his lowers it will actually bring his over bit in and it should only be about 1/2 the distance. We're still not paying what orthodontist opinion #1 or #2 wanted to charge us for Chase's treatment alone for both boys together, with this guy. He's open to discussion and after 4 opinions in 4 years I learned a lot about what to ask and am SO glad we waited until Chase was 11 1/2 to start him. Some of it corrected on it's own...only his crossbite was really still the problem. Which, cool enough, after just 4 months in braces Chase's crossbite is almost completely fixed. They're missing each other like they should now. Cole has a good jaw/tooth relationship outside the 2 teeth crossbite, so it's only a 12-14 month treatment. If I have them going together I'll have 7 months of overlapping leaving me with very few extra visits for Cole. I asked about Kaelin's little gap while I was there and he said he didn't see a need. YAY! We have at least a few years break before Chelsi and she could be just fine. The teeth don't have to be perfect, just not damaging.

No MAW Update

Quite a few people have asked me if we've heard anything from Make a Wish for Cole's wishes. We haven't heard anything. Trust me. As soon as he knows I will say something. Then, everyone asks if that means he's not getting the trip to Korea, his #1 wish option. I don't have any idea for sure, but my theory is that they just don't know, but they must be at least trying for Korea. His wishes were turned in over a month ago to the main office for our state. Usually families hear back really quick; as in days to less than a month. But, since we put down travel date options as next year they know they have time with us. I think that as long as they think it's a possibility, they're not going to totally rule Korea out and give him the #2 wish. I would say that as soon as they burn up all their options and realize that they can't send our, large, family to Korea they'll notify him pretty quickly that he'll get his #2 wish for a Cabela's shopping spree. I wouldn't think that would be a terribly difficult wish to grant. So, the short answer is we really do know nothing. We're still hoping and planning to go to Korea next year, no matter what. The thick of it is that Cole is going to have his surgery. We don't know when, but it is inevitable. We want to go as long as he's in the clear and before we're treading on too thin of ice and getting too close to the date. So, next year seems like a good time. If we drain ourselves to go, we drain ourselves. You can't wait for everything in life. There's never a perfect time for important things in your life, you just have to grab it and experience it. We're looking forward to such a memorable experience together.

Anxious Anticipation

they're waiting and watching closely. We shall see what's going to happen and how it all turns out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm not crazy

Luckily, this person had already confirmed this for me, but she really makes me feel so much better.  Just to back up a little, after two visits to a pediatric developmental specialist and her team of OTs and STs, Jaemin was determined not to be autistic (no surprise) and eventually she also said he was not sensory integration disorder either.  Funny after just a 20 minute visit with him and her mouth running while I was trying to explain his symptoms.  Her trying to compare him to her 3 year old and me trying to voice my concern as a very experienced mother that something was NOT quite right.  I explained his constant flapping and need for movement.  I explained how he would never allow footy pajamas or blankets on him.  I explained how out of sorts he got in certain social surroundings and how he does not play like typical 3 year olds.  He doesn't play with toys, or rarely.

After that visit I was completely beat to the ground...the last visit with her and the clinic in October.  But, I decided to move forward with getting him evaluated at school since he was then 3 and could possible qualify by the school's standards....for something.....anything.   Anything to help him move forward and be emotionally and socially developed.  After 2 months of forms, tests, questionnaires and observations by OT and ST he was found to have dramatic speech delay in all areas.  She said it was hard to qualify for speech at 3, but because he was having an issue in every area of speech he qualified.  YAY!  He was found to have sensory integration disorder by our local special learning center's evaluation, but you cannot qualify for OT on just that.  You have to have fine and gross motor delays.  He has some fine, but definitely not gross and definitely not enough to qualify for OT.  But, in the area of sensory they had concerns in 9 out of 15 areas.  That's a LOT!

Because of that and the OT's personal observation of Jaemin she offered to still help us.  We can't come in for therapy, but she used to work for the special learning center and was willing to give us ideas.  She gave me a brush and taught me how to do brushing therapy.  She told us to try compressions and wheel barrel walks.  The wheel barrel walks didn't go over well because he couldn't support himself, so we taught him to do push ups.  Turns out that was the right thing to do. 

Fast forward 4 months and I felt down again.  His flapping is getting worse, so I called to ask her for more info.  I told her how he suddenly wants blankets on him.  She said that actually means his senses are changing and possibly calming down and what we're doing IS working.  She said the reason he is probably flapping more at home is because he rarely does it at both grandma's houses during the day.  She said he's managing to control it all day and when he gets home he feels safe and it becomes an outlet.  So he's totaling dumping the day's stimuli.  She was nice enough to offer a weighted blanket to try so we don't have to buy without knowing if it will work, but I declined for now since his multilevel blankets seem to be helping.  She said it can't be more than 10% of his body weight.

She gave me a whole list of exercises we can do with him through the day and both grandmas can do as well.  Using a different one each day will make them not feel like punishment which is where we've kind of landed with minimal ideas in the beginning.  I'm anxious to start trying all of them and seeing some progress.  I'm happy to find out we've actually made progress.

I told her I was worried about him getting overloaded on the plane to Korea and having no physical outlet.  She told me to start using a social story now, explaining Korea and what he can do on a plane versus can't do.  She said it may tame some of his behaviors down.  We're also going to try a lap weight and make a shoulder weight for him.  Try that at home and hopefully, then, it will work on the plane.  May have to try it on vacation and if it works on the drive then hopefully, it will also work on the plane.  She's going to send me links and other ideas for the plane if she thinks of them.  As you can tell I'm pretty much planning on us going to Korea.  Even if we don't get it through Make a Wish, we will have to find a way to pay for it.  I think it will be very good and therapeutic for all of us.

The OT also told me there's a chance he will outgrow enough by the time he goes to school in 2 1/2 years to integrate fine.  If he doesn't they know by the time he's 5 and he'll qualify for and IEP for OT through the school and then he'll get extra help in school.  She assured me that if he still has problems and flaps or anything like that to deal with it, in school, he will not be sent to the office or punished and we will work together to help him.  That relieved a lot of fears for me.

So, now that I have my arsenal list of things to do with him, I have one for daycare too, I feel armed and ready to take on sensory disorder.  Now, I just need to quit worrying about what others think.  I know when he throws one of his over stimulated tantrums people either think we're bad parents or he's a bad kid and I know it's neither and they don't know he really does have disorder that he can't control and I need to ignore it all and just love him.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Real Life Vs. What You Think

Real life is hard.  Add parenting and it's that much harder.  Not just being a parent, but worrying.  Worrying because you love them so much.  Driving with Cole has been an eye opener of sorts.  My life flashing before my eyes at times.  Not because he's so horrible, but yes he's new and he's not great yet, but mostly because I realize the power my 15 year old now has and will have even more in a year when he has the power of a V6 engine in his hands.  You realize that mistakes are going to happen.  Accidents could happen.  And as many hard things we've been through in our marriage there is probably more to come.

I'm thinking about Cole's surgery more.  When it is.  How will it go.  I think now that we're on the top end of the 2 year prediction Dr. R gave us, almost 2 years ago, I admit I'm getting a little nervous.  I'm trying not to, but sometimes I just do.

Jaemin is quirky.  He's a little odd sometimes.  His sensory issues get the best of him and us sometimes.  Parents that don't have a child with sensory don't understand because it's so hard to get it.  They seem so normal, but then so not.  And it's easy to think the kid is just out of hand, when they're not.  Their senses are out of hand.

It's, at times, hard to see other families with seemingly normal kids who have encountered nothing in their lives.  Sometimes, I, honestly, do get a tad jealous.  I'm human.  But, I try to remember that I do not know what's in store for them or me.  Only God knows this.  And God has brought us through so much and I need to always remember to leave my life in His hands and His hands only.  I need to continue to trust him with my life.  I need to not worry about not saving as much as my spreadsheet says.  I need to not worry about when we will go to Korea.  I need to not worry about the small stuff so much.  But, real life, for me, makes that hard sometimes.  But still I promise to try.  I know we will have what we need.  I know that we will go to Korea when God plans it for us.  I know that as long as we follow God's prompts we will get the rewards he has planned for all of us.  We have to try hard.  Be good people and love each other.  I'm remembering this.

For this reason I am trying to put all my insane worries and scary ideas back away.  Way back in my brain where they can't find their way out.  Where I can't be scared all the time.  I'm going to enjoy every second of my kids and try to remember they're just kids making mistakes in life and I need to be there to catch them, but not fix it for them.  I absolutely love all 5 of them dearly.  Each one has so much to bring to the table to make them special in a different way.  Not one of my 5 are alike in anyway.  But watching them grow up beats all the money in the world.  Watching them grow up beats anything.  This is the greatest privilege life has to offer and this is all I will pray God to allow for me.  Because it is all I need in happiness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Loosened the belt

for a moment.  I totally thought we were a few hundred behind and would have to use Brian's extra check next month to make up for it (he gets paid every two weeks so we don't budget on those two extra checks).  But, I was balancing my bank statement from last month (teach me to be late) with my book and realized I had written in daycare twice!  YAY!  That was just enough to cover it with $28 left over for the month.

What did I do?  Turned around and spent more.  I still say money well spent though, when it comes to safety for my kids.  You know when we were growing up parents didn't have to worry about all the things that driving kids can be distracted by nowadays.  I absolutely love my bluetooth in my car and kinda wanted it for Cole.  Had no idea you could get it on an older car 'til today.  He wanted a new radio since his car's radio has some problems and was planning on getting like an $80 radio.  Nothing extravagant, but his money anyways.  I got to thinking that maybe we could get him to buy a radio with bluetooth so he wouldn't have to reach for and find his phone when he's driving.  I found a good deal on one for $130 and then found a place that could install it reasonably.  Since Cole would probably have to have it installed anyways he upped his allowable, gave me $100 and we're paying for the rest for him.

I will feel so much better having that.  Not that he has some great cell phone and uses it all the time or anything, but kids will answer a phone if it rings and this way he can be safe doing it.  I did tell him that I'll yank it back out if I ever find out he bypassed it or it unsynced and he answered the phone anyways.  Just pullover and resync please.  Mine does that, is the only reason I brought it up.

So far he seems like a pretty careful driver...almost scared.  Which a little fear is sometimes a good thing.  Good thing the boy's been working on a local farm so he could afford his new radio.  He'll be all set up in the next month or so.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Crazy Little Boy

Someone wet their pants tonight, so no iPod games or tv tonight.  Needless to say it was a better night.  Sometimes I'm so unsure if Jaemin will outgrow the quirks and idiosyncrasies, but tonight it was like there was a little piece of hope to say he could.  I think it's going to take work on our part to keep him away from the things that overdose him on stimuli.  I got great support from some adoptive parents on what they do with their sensory kids, so next time there's a major meltdown or family gathering with too many faces and activity for Jaemin I'm going to try it out.  He's sucha  great little boy and I love him so much.  I want the entire world for him.

Jaemin's always a little on the wild side, but tonight he actually played like other kids sometimes do.  He made things up and played with trains with the girls.  So I decided it's video time which Jaemin totally loves!  Pictures, videos, attention....that's Jaemin.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Easter is sort of a new start, so I prayed for God to give me patience and more kindness this morning.  I know I need to work on something myself.  The qualities I'm not always the proudest of.

The kids have enjoyed Easter so far.  Last night was chicken dinner at one grandmas.  It was nice except the moment I was about to go off on someone.  I know this will offend some, but I'm sorry.  Think about it slowly and realize that other people have rights too.  You can smoke.  You can do that to your body and though it's wrong you can subject your own children to it.  But, you CANNOT subject my kids to it.  I have kids with health concerns or were born with issues that could make smoking exposure more harmful.  You do NOT hang around my kids when there are plenty of other places for your body to be a wave a cigarette around them.  I counted to ten more than once, but I will not do it again.  This is NOT one of my qualities I will work on.  I can judge you for smoking around my kids when they are little.

This morning the kids behaved relatively well in church.  Even Jaemin...surprise.  Brian had a little baggie with cereal towards the end and that helped.  Yet it was late enough the sugar didn't kick in until after church.  I decided on the way home we should start our own little tradition and let the kids go to the store and pick out whatever kind of donuts they want and eat that when we got home.  They've never gotten to do that before and really liked it.  Jaemin picked out one with blue icing.  He was a pretty darn happy camper.  Easter bunny brought Jaemin a bowling set and since Jaemin loves bowling this was perfect for him.  The girls got hair bands, hair ties and socks.  Hello Kitty is still super big in our house.  The big boys got fishing lures.  And then there was chocolate!  No one has touched it yet....too many donuts.

Grandma's house....hunting....or in Cole's case directing Jaemin.

Hunting at home.
Hauling it all back upstairs.  Poor Jaemin had to have mom's help for his load.

Easter Donuts and afterward.
And apparently after some really sugary donuts and little sister leaving all of her hair ties and hair bands in the chair, big brother gets bored and pretty.

Here are the last pictures from Great Grandma's house this evening.  More fun....too much food and too many sweets.  Jaemin is WOUND up!!

Kaelin helped Jaemin and mostly he stopped to eat.

They looked up and down.