Monday, June 8, 2015

Encore Swim Team

Callie joined a swim team this summer. She was so nervous, but she has loved it so far. This past Saturday, the team has swim trials. This gave the volunteers an opportunity be trained, the kids to get a baseline for their times, and the new kids (like Callie) to get a feel for what a swim meet will be like. Callie was excited, but very nervous. Very nervous. She decided to pass on the butterfly and backstroke. It was more intense than that really. 

I didn't realize I had signed her up for butterfly...and when her name was called because they were waiting on her, she was mortified and decided right then and there she wasn't getting in the water. Plus, she doesn't know how to do the butterfly.

When backstroke came around, she was lined up and ready to go, but she froze. She wouldn't go to the block. They called her name. See, once they call her name, she's done. Humiliation kicks in and she's done. I tried to talk to her, but her stress level was so high, so I asked if she wanted to pass. She said yes and we walked out to our chairs around the back. When she took her goggles off, tears poured out. It broke my heart. Then she whimpered through tears, "Mommy, I'll lose." 

Oh my goodness, I didn't realize how much pressure she was putting on herself to win...and we weren't even having a swim meet. There was no competition. Once she understood that, she felt a little better.

She swam the freestyle 50, breast stroke, and freestyle 25. She was the last one to finish every time but had a smile on her face that she tried to hide every time. She was so proud of herself. Her first swim, the Freestyle 50...I had tears in my eyes. I was so proud of her conquering her fear. Knowing she had scratched the 2 others, so many were cheering her on. I think swim team will be a really great thing for her this summer. I'm so excited (other than the fact that my Saturday mornings will now begin at 6am instead of me sleeping in. Oh well. It's worth it.)
Callie eating her breakfast (oatmeal) when we got there. I basically woke her up and we left.

I wrote her race numbers on her arm in sharpie. She kept looking at it throughout the day. I'm always telling the kids "Only write on paper!" and now, here I am, writing on her arm with black Sharpie.

While others were up jumping around waiting for their turn, Callie would frequently be squatting or sitting in her place.

Freestyle 50
First time up at the block. Lane 4. Tons of parents and teammates around. Her nerves were at an all time high and you an see it on her face. But she did great.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Highlights From My Day

I am feeling extremely blessed and full of gratitude for my life today. I'm not sure why it has struck me today...but I'm enjoying it.

* Spending time with a friend. I haven't seen her in years, and we aren't even particularly close. In fact, at one point I would never have expected us to become friends. But she recently moved close by and today we had some time to just sit and talk. For a couple hours. It was a nice break from my day, the kids played, and we just chilled. It was a really  nice morning.

* Shopping with Micah and Callie. We went to Sprouts and Target. Nothing fancy, but I really enjoyed it.

* Feeding James. We stopped by and saw Analisa. She's here for the week. James was awake and I fed him and just held him. I got a few smiles and was able to just hold his sweetness for about 20 minutes before we headed home. My longing for a baby was stilled while I held him. I was just in the moment with tiny little James and my heart was so full of love.

* Seeing Sammy when she got home from school. She was so happy. So so happy. She went on a field trip today and I received an email from her teacher saying that she had fun on the train, with the bubbles, and water play. When I saw her, it was as if she wanted to tell me all about it. And it melted my heart.

* Dinner. Marcus wasn't home for dinner, but we had left overs and watermelon. And everyone was happy. We ate and talked, made crazy faces at each other and laughed.

* Writing. I don't have as much time to write what I'd like, but I do have the honor of writing for I actually really love it. And today I finished up an assignment they asked me to do yesterday. I enjoyed being able to sit down and write down some feelings about the topic. I enjoy writing. A lot. And working for gives me the excuse to sit down and write, often. It brings me joy.

* Clean house. Our house isn't cute. You don't pull up and go, "Woa, cute house." You don't walk in and say, "What a cute house." You just don't. It's not a strength of mine. I try to have it put together and make it feel somewhat like home though. And being organized...well, that's also not my strength. The past 6 months have been really difficult for me. And this week, it felt like I was able to catch up. The house has been relatively organized and cleaned for the past couple days and the freedom I feel from it is so relieving. I feel calm and peaceful with a tidy environment.

* Bubbles. There's something simple and completely joyful about children playing with bubbles....well, at least until the frustration overflows and they start screaming because they can't get the bubbles to work. But was a nice way to end the evening.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Small Steps

We just recently had Sammy's IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting. I was dreading it. It normally isn't that big of a deal, but I've been in a funk, and kind of emotional, and the last thing I was prepared for was sitting down in a meeting surrounded by professionals who, though they really do love Samantha and I feel that, would fulfill their job of telling me that she hadn't reached her goals for the year. We've sung that tune every IEP and I went in with a bad attitude.

I entered the meeting smiling, but I was feeling weak. 

Yes, she didn't accomplish any of the goals that were set for her. But there was so much love in the meeting, I was finding myself feeling better, even though I had come to the meeting predetermined to be sad. It clearly wasn't working out because I found myself getting happier and happier. And then, they shared something with me that just delighted me.

"Sammy is, by far, the most talkative member of our class."
This didn't surprise me. She can be very vocal. But they used the word talkative.
The teacher continued. She told me how Sammy will call out students' names. She will repeat what is said, often, and she even has quite a high opinion of herself and shared it. Last week they were at the table doing a craft. The teacher was across the table from her and she said, "You can do it Sammy!" and Sammy yelled her reply, "I CAN!!!"

Sammy no longer gets speech in school because she wasn't progressing, but this new speech therapist is keeping a close eye on her, constantly consulting with the teacher and sharing ideas. I do believe that Sammy has a lot she wants to say and will one day get it out.

Her teacher sent me this picture today. I asked that we add a goal that she can drink on her own. I don't care if it's an open cup. Who cares? I want her to have more independence and if she's thirsty...that she can take care of that. How liberating would that feel for her? I suggested a water bottle since she has a hard time holding onto a cup, and it would spill if it was dropped. Sippy cups are difficult for her to suck from at times. And straws are hit or miss. She's good with them, but then sometimes she just chews.

From this picture, it sure looks like she's getting the hang of it, and I couldn't be happier about it.

Our little girl is such a gift. She reminds me daily to not take things for granted.

 Each small step forward is a matter how small.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Heart

8 months old

I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling especially tender about Samantha lately. More often, I'm stop in the middle of what I'm doing, think about what an angel she is, and I just tear up. It lasts a brief moment but it's happening often. If I didn't intentionally stop myself, I would be in full out cry mode all the time. And I really don't have time for that. I pray that this constant reminder of what a blessing Sammy is in my life is merely a time when I'm spiritually growing, becoming more connected in my life, recognizing my blessings....and not that I'm being prepared for something...something I don't want to think about. I think back to some very difficult times in her life...

Just out of surgery
Finally able to hold her

and I count our blessings. The truth is, as extremely difficult as it all was in the beginning, she has gotten easier over time. Things have just kind of evened out and hit a happy and welcomed lull. Her seizures, for the most part, are stable. Overall, as she has grown and matured, she has mellowed out. She really only cries when she's hurt or upset. And when she does cry, it's so sad  you can't help but join in. We definitely still have our concerns, but she is so pleasant and such a true joy to be around.
Doing well. Still swollen and hair already slowly coming in.

Those eyes

Here's the thing...and it's very simple. I am so blessed. When it comes to my children, I feel like I am so incredibly blessed...and it all began with Sammy. Her entry into the world wasn't an ideal start. In fact, it was rather emotionally traumatizing. But her life, her little spirit, has filled our home with so much love. I want to be a better person because of her. I want to make sure I'm always worthy to be by her side...and quite frankly, I'm not. She's so much better than I am...just a far better person. She has this beautiful capacity to love and trust, so immediately. Often, I wonder if the biggest lesson that I need to learn from her isn't just that -- to love and trust immediately. To love and trust the Lord...immediately. I'm working on it. There are other lessons that I've learned from her, that's for sure. Patience. That's a big one. Acceptance. Tolerance. Hope. Faith. But those, I am finding, are secondary to that one big one...the need to put all my trust in the Lord...just as she puts all her trust in us. I haven't figured it all out yet, and I don't think I'm expected to either. So it's ok.

Father's Day 2008
Sammy and Callie both look just baby dolls
Samantha's life led us to adoption. I can't imagine our lives without Callie and Micah. In a very real way, I feel like Sammy directed us to them. I don't know how it all went down, but I know Callie and Sammy, in particular, have a sweet bond. Once Micah gets out of the Tackling Sammy phase...I'm sure the bond between them will get a little better. Like, oh, maybe she won't flinch when she sees him coming. Or when he approaches, maybe she'll stop just pushing him away. She's a sweet girl, but she's learning to hold her own against her big little brother! I think Sammy probably had a meeting of some sort before she and her siblings were born. I'm not sure how much she knew before...if she knew what she would face...but I don't think it was much. I think it goes back to trust. I think she maybe just trusted the Lord that it would be for her good and because she has a heart of gold and loves Him so much, just went with it. She knew that it would all work out as it should, even if it was difficult. And so, I think she probably shared that with her future siblings. And I think they hugged. I can't see all their faces, but there are more present at that little meeting than just Callie and Micah. There are others prepared to be by Sammy's side as her siblings. I feel it.

She brings sunshine into our home. My days are happier when I've spent time alone with Sammy. It only needs to be a little bit, but I feel my day is whole when I've had a little time with just her and me. (Well, that's kind of true for all my kids...but I'm talking about Sammy right now.) That's one reason that I look forward to putting her to bed. It's time when I can just hold her. She curls up in my arms and just rests there. She looks up at me usually once or twice, smiles, and then nestles in again and cozies on up. It's frequently one of the sweetest parts of my day.

My life isn't perfect. But I'm ok with that. There's a Colin Raye song that I've referenced before...She's With Me. In many ways, I feel like that's Sammy's song. I feel like her imperfect perfection is my ticket into heavenly splendor. As long as she's with me, I'm maybe good enough to slide in...because she's making me a better person. Maybe she can vouch for me and she'll let the angels and sentinels know, "Don't worry guys, she's with me." I truly believe Samantha is my personal angel -- slowly smoothing out my rough edges, encouraging me, lifting me, and at times pulling me along.

Sweet Samantha. I love my little girl so much there is no way to adequately express it. I can't possibly imagine my life without her...or what my life would have been without her. I will forever be grateful for all the trials we have ever endured if it means that I'll be a step closer to being with her for eternity. She is my heart.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Is Blood Thicker Than Water?

Recently I learned the true meaning behind what is often said...Blood Is Thicker Than Water...and I couldn't agree more. I wrote about it here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe

I read this last year but there are a few books that I loved and wanted to still write about. This is one of those books. I had pre-ordered this book. Then one day, it appeared on my wee kindle and it was perfect timing. I had just finished a book and was ready to dive into another. Truthfully, all I knew about this book before buying it is that I really like the author. That was good enough for me. But the surprise I got when I began reading...I didn't expect. I immediately, immediately, fell in love with it. I was hooked and did not want to put it down. I read it while at the gym, and I got some great LONG workouts on the treadmill because I just didn't want to stop.

I kind of don't even know where to begin when it comes to sharing all I loved about the book. The story itself is captivating. In all my reading years, I have actually never read a book about the Vietnam War. I've read a lot of books around the Civil War and WWII, but never Vietnam. So that caught me. Crowe did such a great job of sharing insights of each of the perfectly. Somehow I felt totally connected to this teenage boy. The things he carried and tried to deal with I have never experienced, yet, I was there with him. It was so well-written. I felt love and so much compassion for all of them, even when I was upset. And let's talk about emotions...I think I felt them all! I laughed. I seriously cried (on the the gym). I was frustrated and angry and hurt. I was so into this book.

I do that. I connect when I read. But this was particularly different. I think because the author made a genius move, in my opinion. The entire book is written in haiku. What?! Who in their right mind takes the time to do that? I can't even wrap my mind around taking the time to make the entire book work so perfectly like that. But it really made the story magical. Every word, I would assume, was so carefully chosen and placed. It really was beautiful...a work of art.

I can't say enough about this book. I've loved his other books, but I think this is my favorite. If I was still teaching in the classroom, I'd definitely use this as a part of my curriculum for it's study of history, social pressures and social "rules" of the time, issues then vs. now -- how they are different and the same, diction, poetry, imagery....I could go on.

It's among my favorite books in 2014.


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