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Monday, March 31, 2014

Important dates! RSVP

 
Now that spring break is over, I'm 80% better. "Go figure" I won't lie and say I wasn't frustrated with the wasted time being sick because I had lots of activities planned that didn't happen. Lots of cancellations. Now onward into the future, while not dwelling on the past, I am excited for the warmer spring weather, more daylight hours and it's April! We have five birthdays, Easter and a MS run in April to look forward too! For the MS (multiple sclerosis) run I am collecting donations, and if you're interested in joining the run, please contact me. It's on April 27th located in Nanaimo.



Also, some years we've held an Easter event but because of the lack of availability on the hall, we are holding a family day event on May 10th. It will be a potluck dinner from 4pm-9pm. Please spread the word, adoptive, waiting to adopt, supportive family and friends can all attend! More the merrier.... and I need to stress; if this event isn't successful, we won't hold a spring event next year. (It will just be held every Christmas) So please spread the word, bring out your children, get together and celebrate families. We have lots to look forward too, come out, join in the fun, and get active! If we can, you can!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Orphanage in Cuba" - Judy Karlson

 
 
 
I have a guest writer. She recently just returned from Cuba. A lovely woman beautiful inside and out. A woman that has crossed my path, and that I'm honored to now know. Her journey to Cuba was more then just a vacation, it was about children. We can help our world, one child, one orphanage at a time. Collections are starting for their next trip in 2015. Please read below.....
 
 
Orphanage – Cuba – Feb. 2014
 
 

I recently had an opportunity to visit an orphanage in Cuba. I learned there is one orphanage in Havana where the newborns to age two babies go and they are adopted out. There is another orphanage in Havana where the two to five year olds go and they are also adopted out. If they are not adopted by the time they are five, they are sent to their permanent home near Havana and this is their home where they will live until adults. They will not be adopted out. They are raised as siblings. The home is lovely; it is a large stone house, two stories, built on a ¼ acre surrounded by high stone walls with a locked gate. It is a place of true beauty as you can see from the pictures. Flowering shrubs, trees are planted and tended to daily inside and outside of the property. You feel as though you are in a rain forest, there is so much greenery. The Director allowed me to take a few pictures with a promise not to send them out over the internet etc. So I am providing a few non identifying pictures (seen below) which I will show you.

The home is spotless. We first visited one morning and met with the Director and she showed us the rooms, etc. Fortunately, I met a gentleman from Quebec, who spoke fluent Spanish and worked in an orphanage in Honduras for many years. He could converse with the Director and I took notes. They have cleaning staff every day on site, a full time cook, helpers and a nurse on staff, a pediatrician visits weekly and all children are well looked after.

The Director speaks Spanish with a bit of broken English so we made an apt for us to attend one afternoon when the children came home from school and we visited from 4 to 6 p.m

Right now there are 17 children living there. They are ages 7 to 20. Their education, food, medicals and basic needs are paid for by the government and it is a government run home. It is very basic; the bedrooms are not large and only have small beds, 30 in. wide and a few clothes in the closet, 8 children to one room. They live in the home until they graduate from university, even if it takes some of them until they are 25. Some have a mental disability that will take them longer to graduate. When they graduate, they are set up in their apartment and then can take over their own care. The orphanage is their real home and this is their forever family. They come back to the home on holidays, celebrations and most come back and volunteer on days off to either teach English and help play with the children who live there.


I did learn there are 15 provinces in Cuba. Pierre, who worked in the orphanage in Honduras works as an interpreter in Quebec and offered to come and spend a month teaching the children English. He will be dealing directly with the Director on that. We had such fun visit with the children. They were so well behaved, bright, beautiful, funny, sang us a song. There was a sad moment when a boy came into the room and sat beside the director by himself, not in the group. He was about 9 and his sister 7. They had been abandoned one week prior and were found and brought to this orphanage home to live. They were being treated for medical conditions. Pierre did converse with the boy and he answered questions like giving his name etc. They all love the director and call her mammy which sounds like mommy in Spanish and the boy who came in alone sat right beside her so you could already see the connection. She gives all these children love.

We asked the children what games they liked and if we could bring them something. They want a bicycle, lap top computer, puzzles, soccer balls, volleyball and net. We went back to the Resort and took up a collection. When we go to visit in 2015 we will probably bring 3 bicycles and the other items.

These children were all happy, playful, loving and laughing. They all walked us to the locked gate when our taxi was arriving and one little girl, about 7, held my hand and would not let me go. I truly felt like it was Mealia hanging on to me. Each one of the children kissed us on both cheeks as we left. It was hard not to cry as it was such a big experience. They are all beautiful, some very dark skinned with dark curly hair and some lighter skinned because of the African/Russian/Spanish mix.

I am looking forward to my return in 2015. I know my friends have already planned their trip. I met a wonderful friend, Elizabeth, from Calgary and she goes for one month in Feb. And she took up a collection already and can make things happen.
 

 
 
Judy Karlson

Adoptive Gramma on Van. Isle
 

 
 
 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Christmas Celebration

We had our twice a year visit today with three of our children's birth family. Their birth mother, birth father, a grandmother and great grandmother came over to celebrate a belated Christmas. I struggled throughout the day still feeling sick although our children had a great time. They opened multiple gifts, pictures were taken, and I made a turkey spread for an afternoon dinner. I've written previously when we first started adopting that we weren't interested in any forms of openness. Now, I believe if the family is healthy (not drug or alcohol addicted) and it's a healthy atmosphere for our children, then everyone benefits from building a relationship together. We all love our children. And the birth family not only loves their three birth children, they're connecting with our other children, connecting with us. I can't imagine their position, and on how they feel waiting every six months to visit for a day (seeing the physical changes over time) so we email and phone until the next date. Today was exciting, our children were louder then normal, and they enjoyed playing with the birth father - (who loves to play with children) Openness is great when the boundaries are respected, the roles are established and it remains a healthy relationship for everyone. For us, I'm the "Mom" and the birth mom is the "Aunt" and the birth father is the "Uncle" - everyone seems happy within their roles but we all know their is two sets of parents, the birth and the adopted. I enjoyed getting to know the birth father more today, learning that he's allergic to cantaloupe and melons. That he's 6'4 feet tall and I laughed stating he's at least four heads taller then me! As I studied him I wondered if our little boy was going to be that tall......or if he would inherit an allergy to melons too? It was nice to reminisce and learn more, sharing stories and updates within our lives. After the day was finished, everyone was hugged (several times) until the next time. Adoption isn't just about adopting a child. It's about adopting a package, a possible whole other family. If it's not with the birth family, it can be with previous foster parents, other siblings, foster siblings and we have to remember adopting children, some come with past relationships worth keeping. We also have openness with another birth grandfather, four other sets of foster parents and a previous foster brother. (all in whom we will see this summer) I don't know what the future holds, but as long as it's positive, openness matters and you can't have too big of a family to share your life with!




Monday, March 24, 2014

Needs

 
Update - I'm still sick. Which brought my attention to our needs. I'm 41 years old, (not old) although what defines old? And because we're "older" should our needs be less? When children are sick they need TLC, cuddling and reassuring that everything is going to be ok. When I get sick, usually it passes within two-three days tops. This has been eight days and counting. I am a independent "almost" unstoppable person - usually. This week I must say brought me back to my childhood days where I just wanted my needs met. I wanted to be reassured that everything is going to be ok. That eventually this multi-virus attacking my system would just disappear one morning. My inner child, or my young heart just wanted to curl up with yes, "ice cubes" to soothe my throat while watching a sappy movie. To have my parent bring me soup, tylenol and check my temperature. I know, I know....I definitely have a wonderful husband for this task and it's a role that your significant partner takes over for your parent although there is nothing like just needing a mother, or a father. A parental figure that makes everything better. So here I am - 41 thinking about "needs" which brings my attention back to how important family really is. Even at 41 we need family support. Throughout my week I carried on slugging away at what I needed to do because parenting doesn't stop for the sick around here but I felt the need for some TLC, that was evident. I thought about the extreme adoptions. Where young adults 18 and over are still searching for an adoptive family. The reason why they're still searching is because they will always need a family, "parents" to call for moral support, for someone to confide in, and when wanting consolation; they feel trust from, it's a different need wanting your parents during difficult times. Family is so important. Regardless if it has a parent left in it or not, or if we are 90 years old, we all need someone we feel comfortable with. I know I'm a huge advocate for adoption and I believe that the permanency stables us but anyone loyal in our lives can fill our needs, especially an elder. I have much respect for my parents. And I know they're genuinely concerned, when I receive different remedy ideas. Baked onion for ear aches. Reminders to sip hot honey and cinnamon water. To put vick's on my feet while wearing socks to bed. To gargle with salt water. To slow down......"take it easy" It doesn't matter how old we are, who we are, we need people on whom we can call family. Love is so important for all of us. To conclude, we're done adopting, but we're not done needing to adovcate, and to educate the importance of family. Above anything - we all need stability of permanent loyal individuals in our life - and then we will be ok eventually.

- Always remember that the most important thing in a good family is not happiness, it's stability first!
Thank you for everyone that holds my hand, (that is my family) while I continue to open mine that needs.





Friday, March 21, 2014

"May the sun shine down on you"

 
Lots of illnesses circulating our home this spring break. It has forced us to cancel plans. Life is always unpredictable and sometimes not pleasurable. All week I've been really sick with a fever, body aches, a sore throat (like swallowing burning little blades constantly) a massive head cold where I can't breathe, and the wet coughing started. It seems to be a virus covering absolutely everything. One of the worst sicknesses I've had. Headaches, teeth aching, ears throbbing, skin crawling, you name it - it comes with this horrible virus. On day four my husband brought home a slurpee for me, the cold ice was the only soother. It made my day like heaven. I've been sucking on halls night and day without great results but the ice is now my saviour! I'm a sight for sore eyes. My nose was already swollen from being previously burnt my week away. I had heat stroke with skin swelling for days. Now I've been blowing it like there's a party happening somewhere but here! A laugh on me....I'm not sure if you've ever slept with halls in your mouth. I have been. Popping endless halls in my mouth throughout my nights this week. Around 3am I awoke with my nose running, I could hardly breathe, my throat felt raw and my halls that I fell asleep sucking on was stuck on my eyebrow! Without thought, I peeled the dried hall off my eyebrow hairs that I do have and stuck it back in my mouth while blowing my nose and falling back to sleep in the multiple used tissues all over my pillow. By Friday morning I continued to blow my worn out nose and I cried in my tissue. Multiple usage tissue; blowing my nose and wiping tears at the same time. It no longer mattered to me if I developed pink eye too! I started to feel sorry for myself, feeling angered with the wasted week, feeling sorry for my family because all our plans have been canceled. That spring break sucks! Even worse, it's beautiful outside. It's the weather I was wishing for so we could do so many fun outdoor activities. A week wasted. Then my cousin called. This summer we were going to stop and visit him during our travels up north. He explained he has bladder cancer. After removing most of the cancer with a recent surgery, he found out that it has spread and he now has to start chemo, fighting to live. Like many similar stories, we just never know what can plague us, and change our lives forever. It reminded me that my problems this week is nothing. I know so many individuals struggling to survive. I know people that survived their life threatening struggles that warrants so much praise, a listening ear and an compassionate heart. After my cry, I continued to blow my nose, suck on my slurpee to soothe my need but I no longer felt like my week was wasted and that my family suffered because we didn't get to go hiking somewhere. I felt blessed. Besides being sick with whatever this is, (so far) our family of 20 is healthy with no major life threatening diseases. My children have played outside on a daily basis, my youngest daughter remains happy regardless of her limited physical abilities and the sun is shining on our family, and over our home. I'm not sure what tomorrow brings, but for now regardless on how I feel physically, mentally I feel on top of our world. For my cousin, I will only believe in the positives, in his strength and for what's meant to be. He's on our list of people to see this summer, including a birth grandpa that just had two strokes who I also recently talked too on the phone. I have absolutely nothing to complain about, this too shall pass and I hope to only embrace within myself what matters, that's everyone I care for, the life and strength within us and the compassion for the ones that need it. May the sun shine down on you - me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ya estoy de vuelta!

"I'm back!" I'm not exactly sure where I should begin. Los Cabos is beautiful. Hot with lots of history. My oldest daughter and I swam with the dolphins, relaxed at the resort pool, we went shopping and enjoyed the night life. Los Cabos is located at the Southern tip of the Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. The famous arch is the focal point of Los Cabos which is only reachable by boat. I was sea sick for most of the tour on the bottom glass boat but nonetheless I enjoyed the sights. Our six day stay was enough for me. I reacted to the sun, my skin swelled and I suffered from sun stroke for at least two days.  Los Cabos atmosphere reminds me of Cancun. An expensive, richer place within Mexico. Endless resorts. Tons of tourists. Would I suggest to experience these places? Yes but only once because I feel once you've been there, you've seen it, experienced it and that's enough resort lifestyle. At least that's my opinion. My daughter and I made some good memories together but we found out that we vacation differently. For me, I want to experience the locals. The lifestyle, the culture and too learn while traveling. It's an age gap thing. Many younger adults want the sun, the party, and the entertaining attractions. I want to trek the Himalayas, experience the city of Kathmandu, travel through Thailand and India. "Our next trip I would love to go to Cuba and experience their culture, and the orphanages" Eventually go to Africa with one of our sons. Resorts are great for relaxation. I can't relax. (I was out at 7am everyday) I love new enlightenment's. I loved having this experience with my oldest daughter with many fond memories I will forever hold in my heart, even with any of our challenges along the way. During our travel back we were feeling exhausted. Our flight was delayed two hours, then it was even longer due to turbulence. During arrival we had only forty five minutes to get through customs, find our luggage, run to a taxi to catch the last departing ferry. It was stressful. I found myself "sighing" a lot with anxiety. We made it with five minutes to spare. During our ferry ride we heard there was wind warnings - major inclement weather. (Ferry's from the other side had to turn around half way) Lucky for us during the slow two and a half ferry ride we made it by 1:30am! During the ferry ride we met a wonderful lady that was on our same flight living in our area, I offered her a ride home exchanging phone numbers. While reaching my parked van we found out it was side swiped. It was hit from the tail light, straight through along the corner panel leaving no drivers side mirror. It was still drivable but after an ICBC visit today there was $1700.00 worth of damage. Well.....what do you do!? Not much. My husband's not only a mechanic he's an auto body technician and it's another job on his list to fix. He's amazing. While I was away everyone at home came down with a fever with vomiting. All week long. My husband is the most amazing father and husband to be able to look after our home even when everyone is sick. He has the patience of a saint. I feel very appreciative to have such an amazing husband. I'm very thankful for him. As I write on my first day home, I have had three broken hours sleep total. I moved a long today on adrenaline while swaying as if I've been on a ship for weeks. I apologize now if my post is grammatically erred and all over the place BUT I wanted to write regardless if the screen is moving or not and to share some amazing pictures! Enjoy! Life -love -it!







 Dinosaur drinking water seen above!
 "I love the kind hearted smart Dolphins!"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Adios (for now)






 
This will be my last post until or around March 17th. I'm taking my oldest for six days to Los Cabos this Tuesday and back just in time to enjoy two weeks of Spring Break! (A story worth writing when I return) Written in a previous post, I explained having a larger family we have to travel in stages by ages, different interests and abilities. I want all of us to travel and experience but "for now" this is the only way it's possible! In a previous post I wrote - I don't like endless promises. One hard and expensive aspect about having a large family is traveling. We can travel anywhere by vehicle and usually our destinations are either free of cost or a minimal price. Although lately I've been thinking about traveling, and having our children experience more. Experience traveling parts of our world. I love traveling. If I could I would home school absolutely everyone and just travel the world with our whole family. Which leads me writing about my thoughts lately on how to afford travel, develop more memories and bring these traveling thoughts into reality. Our family ages range from age 2-24. There is also a wide variety of different special needs. I don't believe special needs should restrict experiences but it definitely highlights on what a child will or will not do cognitively and/or physically. Also with such a wide range of ages, everyone is into something either different or our younger ones aren't old enough to actually appreciate and remember whatever the event is. For example, Disneyland has long lineups and some of our children don't have the patience nor are tall enough to enjoy the ride or attraction. We would have to split up regardless according to age and special need. I want our children to enjoy, experience and appreciate which means to carefully think about where, how and when a trip should be considered accordingly for each of our children. This is where a light bulb went off in my forever turning brain with the help of a friend of mine. (She actually turned on the switch) Of course I also have to convince my brain that it's an amazing and practical solution. My husband and I will take turns with 3-4 of our children throughout our years traveling with just a few at a time. This way, it's affordable and it's age appropriate. The beauty of this is there will be more one on one attention, our children can experience to their fullest without complications, we will be able to afford and make traveling experiences worth while sporadically throughout our children's years. We do absolutely everything as a large family and I think breaking us up in chunks once in awhile will be not only a healthy break but the highlighted solution on the "how" of experiencing our world respectfully and financially. Being a large family works but you need creativity sometimes to make some experiences happen and successful. I did worry about the jealousy and perhaps that left out feeling that some of our children might have. With careful explanation, and starting a tradition now, our children will understand that their turn is coming. I'm also not writing that we won't ever travel as a large family, I'm merely touching on an idea that will be successful according to age. When the time is right, the time is right. I also find this new enlightenment exciting because we will make childhood dreams come true. Just recently we applied for some of our children's passports, eventually we will have them all and what was virtually impossible will become a reality. Every family is uniquely different. What might be the normal isn't the normal within another family. We're definitely not any ones normal but we always strive to develop those childhood memories that need to be in place so when our children are parents, that cycle continues on. Memories is something you can't take away. I thank my parents for giving me those fundamental skills and childhood memories because now as a parent, it's our turn to create what will always be forever. Memories. Now it's time to rekindle with my oldest daughter. I don't know what to expect and I'm feeling some anxiety but I know with everything in our life, it's there for a reason. And that reason will surface with new enlightenment's meaning to be. I wish you a wonderful week and stay tuned - I will have pictures and a story. Possibly many. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

50,000 & counting!

 


We did it! 50,000 hits! Thank you for continuing to read, and to keep me writing even with all my grammar mistakes!
 
"We continue to learn together" - Me

FAS SUCKS!


Today seemed to be challenging for me. Just with everything. It left me moody and speechless. Once in a while I just get irritable with life that continues to cycle itself daily. Same ole issues. Repetition is key for children with FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and sometimes it's just draining on the parents. Frankly, it gets annoying. Patience and understanding is purely the key although sometimes I just wish the constant reminding, the battles that can occur would cease. FAS (for a lack of better words) sucks. Often children behaviours are belligerence, and stubbornness. They could score well on an intelligence test although their behavioural and emotional problems will interfere with their abilities to succeed. Besides the behaviours, children with a diagnoses of FAS have learning difficulties, difficulty with sequencing, memory, understanding cause and affect and weak generalizing skills. It's a hidden disability because sometimes the physical features are unrecognized. Not having the physical features makes life that much more challenging because us as parents and teachers have to be aware and keep reminding ourselves that our children indeed have a brain injury from alcohol consumption during their birth mothers pregnancy. I'm learning while homeschooling my own children with FAS that instructions have to be simplistic. Black and white. “Don't teach your child fast, teach them slow” Lower your expectations. A routine is the utmost important factor daily so your child knows what to expect next. It helps for us to have a daily routine board. We are highly routined Monday to Friday. I don't mind (most of the time) our created life surrounding FAS. I hate the fact that our children have FAS because it's completely avoidable but here we are taking one day at a time hoping for successful futures for our children. I won't paint a pretty picture being a mother with FAS children. It can be draining. Like for me today.....I just felt like crying. After getting into an argument with one of my sons about his schooling, HIS future....I questioned myself, “WHY am I wasting my time?!” “WHY do I feel so frustrated right now trying to get my son to understand that I'm not the enemy, that I do care and I'm here for his future!?” “WHY do I feel not adequate and not a good parent right now!?” Sometimes as strong as I am, I have these days where I feel like I have FAS! It can be so frustrating not only for the child with FAS but for the parent, for the family and it can be so isolating as the general public just doesn't understand our life. Which I completely understand because I really have to keep focused daily to understand it myself. Understand? Lol That's just me today. Feeling FAS overwhelmed wishing to have more compassion for it. Most of the time I just “sigh” or I will laugh because it's just too unbelievable the strange occurrences that happen around here. I might even ask, “Why did you do that?” I never get any concrete reasonable answers......”I don't know” AND that's exactly it. Most of the time our children don't know. That's the whole cause and effect piece. Joy to FAS! So today after feeling silent, feeling irritated and inadequate as a mother, I wrote this post because I know I'm not alone. I doubt there is a parent out there that hasn't felt as I do today. Now today is semi-over, it was productive with homeschooling, with therapies, with my daily chores and with a roast dinner waiting in the oven – I feel better to tackle another day. Too continue to believe with every challenge, with every argument – I am making a difference and we will conquer FAS daily if we like it or not. FAS sucks but you will not win!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"This and the that"

As I was writing a home school report my husband was playing the good ole eighties. My youngest daughter was dancing while being supported. Can you say, "Distraction!" First off I hate writing home school reports. Secondly my youngest daughter dancing is always a great party. Thirdly the eighties! Bon Jovy, Cinderella, Poison, AC DC, Motley Crue, Madonna to name a few.......Iron Maiden! My report turned into the "save" button on my computer while enjoying my atmosphere. Not only do I home school daily Monday to Friday, I write weekly reports for five of our children. Um....my least favorite thing to do. (Reporting) One fact I know, life will carry on without my weekly report. Sunday night consisted of starting my late "weekly report", it ended up with the eighties and this blog! Besides getting side tracked, our weekend was productive. Productivity I love! Saturday was a 6km hike around a local lake, and Sunday was swimming, skating and a 4km run. Something I have been learning about life, is too live it. Experience it. And honestly don't sweat the reports, the small stuff! Yes we all have responsibilities and responsibilities once accomplished, just live. Enjoy. We all need to take the time for each other, and if it means not meeting a reporting period - so what. We only have this life to live with each other. If people don't like it....who cares. lol When I look around witnessing everyone in my life......then feeling "busy" because I have to do this and I have to do that. I'm realizing just sometimes that the "this and the that" doesn't matter. It's who is right in front of us that matters. Dancing to the eighties with my daughter. Taking the time to walk 6km with some of my children. Playing "wrestling" with my grand daughter. Remember life is progressing, evolving, moving and the most important fact is living, health, and loving each other. Yes this mother is behind in her reports. Honestly - it will get done tomorrow when I'm not dancing with my daughter, wrestling with my grandchild. My family comes first.