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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sentimental Dusting

My husband and I tonight were cleaning and moving around our living room. We are officially 100% finished our home! Well until the next quest.........the nice part of tonight was we moved my one and only display cabinet back into our living room. This is a cabinet I've had since eighteen years old. Inside are sentimental items that I've been keeping for over twenty years! While I was dusting, I found our eleven year olds baby foot, I found our eight year old son's thumb. At the top of this cabinet I and my husband's cake topper sits from 1999! It was a red and white wedding, the cake topper now looks like a light purple. The reason I kept this (made of royal icing) is because our wedding vehicle model sits nicely on top that we built together. Inside is us, little people with distorted eyes. I tried to dust it but the little tiny pretend flower buds all over the car were falling off. It was a fond day to remember. I sat dusting and it triggered conversation with our eleven and thirteen year olds. I explained that life moves quickly and these are just little reminders for me of my past. Most of the items were over 20 years old. There was always a story behind them. Sometimes another Country. So while I dusted and was putting away, I reminded them that this is an area not to be tampered with. "Please don't" I expressed. I continued to show them a little crystal angel that was holding my birth stone. This little angel was given to me over ten years ago from my boss. A boss that I loved dearly who isn't with us today. He wasn't just my boss, he was a part of my life. So items aren't just items sometimes......they have meaning behind them. My three sons seemed like they were listening closely. So I picked out three ornaments that were over twenty years old, they have some value, a sentimental attachment for me and I said, "This is now yours" I explained it's history, the value and what it meant for me. I'm hoping these little objects will hold some value for them too. This is the first time for them I made the attempt to give them something important to look after. What I hope is;  it means as much to them, as my angel does to me. It is teaching them that it's not the object itself but the meaning behind it, for them - I hope it's me. I hope they realize that I cherished this item for over twenty years, the dust is well established and I gave it from my heart. I always write about how material items aren't important so here I am being slightly hypocritical about some of my ornaments but it's like pictures, you pick it up, look at it and it brings back so many memories of something or someone. That's what makes it special, really not the item itself but the background of its existance. So our boys left happily holding in their hands their Mother's sentimental treasures. I felt good giving them these in hopes they'll hold them tight remembering it's not about the item, it's its history. So we will see........it's a beginning and I really hope it was a night of dusting that they'll never forget.

"The temptation is high at the (shopping mall) school"

(I took down the "Google Image" as my perception was misunderstood. I apologize. It wasn't our son)

Recently one of our sons has been stealing. Stealing from school and from his friends. Just last Friday he stole from his one and only best friend. A friend that lives down the street who he has play dates with. Unfortunately they've been cancelled. Lately at our school the PAC (Parent Advisory Council) is on a mission to raise funds. I completely understand that raising money for our children is a great idea although sometimes it becomes "too much" A few years ago I was the Secretary for our schools PAC, now I don't even acknowledge there is one. On behalf of myself this sounds quite ignorant but it's too much "drama" for me. (Sorry) So lately there has been numerous bake sales held during school hours. Now here's where we have issues with this - our children are limited sugar. I also make enormous healthy lunches with my own baked goods accordingly for each of our children. So I told our children, "No money for the bake sale, you have great lunches with your own baked goods inside" The temptation is too high for our children. So our one son decides he's entitled to buy baked items with this money he found. Explaining theft to him was like explaining what makes an airplane fly. It was very confusing for him. He explained the money was sitting right there and he wanted to buy some goodies. After all everyone else was buying goodies, why not him? This is another reason I don't agree selling items at school should be during the school hours, all the children and including their parents feel they have too to make sure it's fair for their child. This puts us parents in a battle that shouldn't exist. When my husband was speaking to our sons teacher, she also stated that she couldn't even teach that afternoon because of all the wired children stemming from this bake sale. I keep explaining that it's not about the money, it's about listening to our reasoning's (as parents) on why you're not allowed purchasing items at school. So with all this fundraising happening, we've seen an escalation (an opening) to steal because if everyone else can, why can't I? Another one of our sons "borrowed" money to buy a book after I told him "No books" These book sales seem to be every month! I keep explaining that we're not buying every time a pamphlet is handed out to buy! Usually we'll buy everyone a book through school at the end of their school year. I try to develop traditions, routines that they will understand and follow but again the temptation is too high. Their entitlement remains because the school is allowing it. Anything I try to prevent at home gets caught floating in the wind somewhere. It can be very frustrating. Ultimately we (I) can't control on how our Society works because I would change the push to spend on our children, leave it until after hours. I'm also not naive, the temptation is everywhere but we could leave it out of our schools. (My opinion of course) We don't take any theft lightly. So our son started with his lines after school. Then followed by an apology letter attached with double the amount of money taken that he's working off. I don't believe his consequences are harsh by no means. Meaning our children really need to grasp the concept that taking anything that isn't theirs is wrong. Even if it's found, it's not theirs. There is a owner for everything until proven otherwise. With some of our children with FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) Their thoughts are simply, "I found it" without recognizing they're stealing it. So taking 50 cents can increase to taking an idling car (because it's simply running) to heading into someones home because the door was left open. As their Mother I'm completely protecting our children's future with the necessary consequences provided and it's repetitious! The sad conclusion is a friend was upset and now possibly not a friend anymore. As I explained to our son "taking something" creates more then being reprimanded, it's the trust that's being lost and the feelings of having once a good friend to no friend at all. That's the most upsetting consequence especially when friends are limited and hard to come by!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Power to everyone"


I've been occasionally catching the reality television show called, "Sister Wives" It's a reality situation that involves a Polygamous marriage. Meaning more then one wife. In this case, there is four wives sharing one husband with multiple children per wife. If I watch any television, TLC is the first channel I surf. I personally wouldn't choose to live this way. Although I'm the type of person that loves to be educated with all the different lifestyles out there, the different cultures, different religions and belief systems, so being enlightened through certain reality shows is quite fascinating. I definitely don't judge nor pass any criticism, I do however inside myself say, "Bravo for sharing, so individuals like myself can learn and perhaps understand" After all I completely understand why they need to advocate on "why" and on "how" it works because I advocate daily with our large family built through adoption. Honestly I don't know what defines normal because if we have an open mind and accept that everyone is different - that is their/our normal. Instead of trying to change someones belief, on how they live, it's easier to just accept that our world is a diverse place. I believe it's created that way so we can experience, learn and have the right to choose who we are. It's extraordinary. I believe in respecting ones chosen life. If it makes you happy, a confident individual and there's no harm to anyone else or children then there's nothing wrong with the way you live. Today while putting laundry away, doing my usual daily tasks I was contemplating my life. It was a rainy windy weekend and our children were sometimes climbing the walls, my husband was obsessing over his sixth coat of finishing stain on the living room beams, one of our dogs rolled again in horse poo, one of our daughters vomited all over the living room floor - it was almost a typical day. Interestingly enough, I didn't contemplate any of that above. I questioned myself and my beliefs. I know it's a real personal and sensitive conversation when it revolves around religions, spiritual beliefs and practically on how each and every one of us lives. I'm learning something new everyday because my belief is to educate myself about absolutely everything, to logically accept and respect regardless if I believe something or not. I will incorporate what makes sense to me in our life and I will not disrespect anything else. To define who I am; I am someone who takes bits and pieces from every culture and the outcome consists of genuine acceptance of everything and everyone. Compassion for all no matter what path is leading them. Personally if that's slightly mixed up then I'm happy and confident to live this way. Watching "Sister Wives" I noticed some confusion for their children but reality is our lives are confusing no matter how we're living it. I also noticed lots of love and at the end of our day, that love and acceptance is sometimes all we need for tomorrow. We all make mistakes and we're not perfect. (If we don't make mistakes, we don't learn) For our children I want them to experience, to learn through their mistakes, to find who they are and become who they'll be most happiest. I would be completely satisfied if my children were happy being Buddhist, Christian, Spiritual with their Native beliefs, if they want to incorporate bits and pieces like their Mother, or absolutely none of it; they can be whomever they want to be as long as they're happy. For myself to be honest, I'm done contemplating. I don't ever speak unless asked about what I believe and truthfully, I can honestly understand the power in everything. I think that having education around all the belief systems helps understand that really, everyone is on the same page, just slightly living it differently. These are just my thoughts, no power to them........no double edged sword. I'm just a huge thinker, analyzing everything and hoping for the best lives possible for everybody no matter how they live it or how different they are!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Shoes

"I admit, I am crazy"

I have a certain amount of hours to Christmas shop sporadically on different days where there isn't any other appointments happening. Today I managed to squeeze in three and a half hours! Before I go each time, I have a list of maybe four children that I'm concentrating on. I know exactly what I'm looking for and usually where. I do price checking before hand. While shopping I'm always keeping my eyes open for great deals. I won't lie......I get really excited when something seems just right for someone and it's on sale! Tomorrow is Black Friday in the States. Black Friday is traditionally the first Christmas shopping day with extremely low prices after the United States Thanksgiving Holiday. If I was prepared, I would of went just for the experience. Although getting back into Canada following the Black Friday would prove interesting with my van loaded of Christmas presents. So I've never been tempted to try it! I can hear the headlines all over the News, Mother of Fourteen smuggles enormous amounts of goods the day after Black Friday! For the States, it's their busiest shopping day all year. I can just imagine the crowds of people fighting over "Rocking Elmo" It reminds me of the movie "Jingle all the way" where that last popular toy was sold out and two fathers did everything humanly possible to get it. I remember one year when the movie "Toy Story" was big and one of our sons loved that show. He loved Woody. This was the toy. When I went to buy it, it was all sold out. Everywhere! We have friends that live in Corona California and I asked, "Can you please send Woody?" Then just before Christmas more Woody's came in stock, so I purchased one quickly. I wasn't sure if the Woody coming from California was going to make it. By December 25th, we had two Woody's! Last year I left the advent calendars until last minute! I looked everywhere for those silly chocolate calendars and our children went without. (not that big of a deal) Although it bothered me more then anything else! SO as soon as I seen them, I picked up a stack full! As you can tell, I have this sentimental "issue" with Christmas. I remember fondly my childhood Christmas's. When I awoke Christmas morning, my sister and I would be so thrilled with our home made cabbage patch dolls our Mother made. Back then, the cabbage patch dolls were the "big" in thing but they were roughly $60.00 each! Expensive. My mother made her own designed as family members. I also remember she made me this big green frog. A frog that I sat on while watching Gilligans Island and Little house on the Prairie. Times sure have changed.........but I have these memories that will last forever, memories I want our children to have. So really, it's not about the shopping, the material items, it's about some surprises, making a magical morning in hopes they will continue for their own children. Just like our month of December......it's about platters of food, family games and enjoying each other - building up to that day I fondly remember as a child. My husband STILL brings out his stocking that he made when he was five! It's made of felt. Santa's beard is ripped off. He could be missing an eye. BUT every year he brings out his stocking, hangs it by the fireplace. Every year he tells the story about his stocking. (Very cute actually) The funny thing about it is, I can't fit anything into it. It's so old and fragile that every time I push something into it, another felt part falls off! Throughout December we always watch "Christmas Vacation" with Chevy Chase and all the other classics. Two of my favorites are "Christmas in Plum Creek" - Little house in the Prairie and "The Christmas Shoes" You know, as much as I shop for some material items our children want - in the end, it's the thought what counts. It's all about the memories. It's a cycle that I as a Mother want our children to continue. Above is one of my favorite songs and show - "The Christmas Shoes" Only one more month to Christmas everyone! Exactly! And I admit, I am crazy - over Christmas!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Emotionally, who are we all?"

Today was a day I questioned my parenting on how to handle a situation with one of our children. I'm not going to get into detail for privacy reasons. Although after the situation I starting thinking about the time when my husband and I was so excited to meet our new child. It was an older adoption but we were excited because our waiting was finally over. We had a years wait after the match. It took months of pre-placement visits before placement. It took several months for an exception from the band. For us, adopting older children was just as exciting as having a baby. Looking at their pictures, the color of their eyes, how BIG their feet were, we were just so thrilled to have new children. At the beginning of our adoption journey we had this hope that if we provided a good stable loving home, we could have these wonderful changed children. Attachment Disorders? "They would attach" is what I thought. From the moment we met our new children, it was rough. Their behaviors were different but they were beautiful anyway. Something about adoption is, when you know they're your children, you look beyond their faults. There is this glimmer of hope for bigger and better future possibilities. All we want is what's best. Birth or adopted children, they're all the same. It's not always an adoptive child that disappoints. The difference is an adopted child wants at some point to know their birth family. Good, bad or indifferent it will happen eventually if openness isn't already established. With some of our children I always thought they would never know their birth family because of the reported history of neglect and addictions. It was my job as their Mother to protect them from their past and possible future influences. Strangely enough I smile writing this because there comes a time in life where we can't protect our children from anything. Ultimately my role as their protective Mother switches to letting them learn, experience for themselves. I've been learning something too.......we've had two teenagers seek out their birth family on different occasions. While they've done this, they aren't so nice anymore. As some are aware our oldest son is now home after two years of "soul searching" who he is. It wasn't pleasant. What I've learned is some of the birth family that I thought I'd never communicate with, I have and regardless of the past or what could still remain in the future - we all have the same thing in common. Our children. They counted their toes too. Our circumstances are different. I've learned that adoptive parents aren't valued as "real parents" with most birth families because of their losses. I've found that there's still confusion that their children are still in foster care. I'm finding with proper healthy communication with some birth family that these grey areas are finally being understood. I, the adoptive Mother didn't steal your child. I'm not a horrible person manipulating your child's feelings towards you. I'm simply a Mother loving those little toes you once counted. A mother that when laid eyes on your child, that waited more then nine months, made enormous sacrifices and unconditionally welcomed your child from age nine, age eleven and on..... only had one thought - was to love but not perfectly. Some of the clashes we've experienced with birth family is understandable, meaning I completely understand the feelings around their loss due to the circumstances. I've been thinking - (because I do that) I wouldn't change anything. In fact, I'm grateful for connecting with some of our children's birth family, (birth family I thought we wouldn't) because there is some we have different forms of openness with. I'm also at peace (in my heart) with our two teens that have been actively searching and connecting with their family. I truly believe that my decision to parent acknowledging our children's needs to face their unknowns with their birth family is the right choice. It's taken me seven years of being afraid to feeling comfortable knowing that whatever the outcome may be, it had to be done. Eventually however our children choose to venture, if it's done respectfully or completely with a 360 of behaviors and lies, emotionally we all need to find ourselves in this world and where we came from. Our children with attachment disorders are at risk but I will never allow myself to loose hope that we're the ones they've finally attached too. The same hope we had during our placements; to make a difference and to simply love a child.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Just a post"

A busy Sunday it was. It started with fourteen of us heading to see Santa Claus at the mall! Believe it or not, Santa was welcoming his lap to all of us! It was our family piling on Santa! Not only was that successful, we had spectators! We were asked if we were from an organization? We were asked if we were a group from somewhere? I just said, "We are just a family" Santa was so impressed that he was willing to come to our house! I wonder if he'll show on Christmas Eve?! From the mall we heading over to an adoption celebration where we watched some children perform their talents and was served goodies and cake. If anyone is unaware, November is Adoption Awareness month. So there has been different celebrations all over Vancouver Island and across British Columbia. We left early to take ten of our children swimming. (Usually a Sunday tradition of ours) That way we're all showered and ready to attend school the following day. Another area we seem to take over; is the showers within the pool. We have a family system that works like a charm on most swimming outings. This Sunday we swam with another adoptive family. Our friends children are so wonderful with our little ones. Then came Monday. A day of baking and doing all the laundry! What's really exciting about Monday was we've planned a group movie trip to see "Breaking Dawn" this week! All of us older teens/young adults (including me) are off to the movies to see the famous love story between a Vampire and a human. (The Twilight series) I've heard it's the best one yet.......so a kiss from a Vampire must not be that bad! I promise I won't write about it. It's been a busy two days, so time for me to curl up and fall asleep into a good book.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What's your wish?

With the little bit of hardened snow around here our children are having a blast. Automatically they've decided it's "Christmas!" In 11 short days it will look a lot like Christmas around here! Our children's excitement levels are heightening and my craft room looks like an elf room. We asked what our children wanted for Christmas, reminding them that the gift of giving is nice but Christmas isn't about material items. Our eight year old said, "I want it to snow for a long time" I starting thinking to myself, "No that won't be on your list either!" Our eleven year old daughter said, "A horse".........Um, "No" Again I started thinking to myself that a material item in this case would be much easier! I tried again on our other eleven year old daughter, asking..."What would you wish for Christmas that isn't a material item?" Her answer was, "A Hannah Montana wig!" Well my eyes were starting to cross. I explained to her that's a material item. Her response was, "No it's not, it's hair!" So my mission on asking our children this question continued. Our littlest son who's three wants a fish! Mmmmm.......I could probably provide smoke salmon! What I noticed with our own family survey asking this question stumps their answers. My husband had an excellent answer, "My wish would be if everyone did one good deed to another on a daily basis, this world would be a better place" My husband is a man after my own heart! Our seven year old son answered, "Chocolate milk" Some of our children reminded me of a deer caught in my headlights. So I moved on. Your probably thinking that my wish has to do with large families - lol - in fact I've written enough about that. My Christmas wish is about every one's health. To be healthy and happy on Christmas and throughout the New Years to come. We can be rich with money, material items but without health, none of that matters. Surprisingly our five year old son answered, "For my sister to walk" How profound is that!? Immediate Christmas tears filled my eyes. I suddenly pictured our little daughter running around with her siblings outside. One day this will be true.....and a Christmas wish worth making. When I told our oldest daughter about the one answer I received, (for her sister to walk) she chose that too! I've heard the power of prayer is great, call it a wish or some hope; believing brings positive outcomes. My quest for brilliant answers weren't that discouraging after all, in fact I was pleasantly surprised and once again, filled with Christmas spirit!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Large families in the 21st Century!

Neon's ago I wrote a post about the benefits of having a large family. I know many can't wrap their mind around on why or how we function, basically their question is, "If I couldn't handle a large family, how can someone else?" There must be some forms of neglect. Typically the average family has 2.5 children with 1 dog and that is enough for most parents. There is some parents that can successfully raise over ten children. I feel compelled to continually advocate for larger families. I wrote in a previous post that our home is open to anyone that questions our abilities. Some of the benefits I've witnessed with our family is our children have more knowledge and self confidence. We are our own support network. Our children have compassion for every ones different needs including within our society because they experience it at home. This is a personal favorite trait of mine, compassion for others and our children are developing it because of our large family. I'm definitely not saying any of these attributes can't be developed in a smaller family, but I know our children exhibit theirs through their daily life with many siblings. With many siblings there is no lack of conversation and playful attention. They constantly have intellectual stimulation which strengthens and sharpens their judgement. I know that our children with special needs have come a long way because of their constant interaction with their siblings. Every day several of our children are teaching our littlest daughter new words. We're constantly surrounded by laughter, we are a livelier bunch. I truly believe our adoption placements were very easy because of the number of children we have. The acceptance and experience receiving a new sibling is most welcoming. If there is special needs, our children aren't afraid but willing to provide stimulation for further development for that sister or brother. Children in large families succeed because they're experienced with that trait I love called compassion. They develop understanding. Of course there is that normal sibling rivalry and with more of it, it teaches our children lessons in fairness, sharing, forgiving and forgetting. That provides them with a more resilient surface. The biggest aspect that large families learn is patience. Which will help them in their adult years becoming self reliant. All our children have their own space if needed, if wanted but otherwise they're never alone - each and every one of our children are learning to get along. This helps with group settings, they become more comfortable in busy crowded situations. Some of our children have more courage and can easily jump into a public presentation. I feel confident to single parent across British Columbia because mostly our children are cooperative and responsible. With stating all the attributes our family possesses, and I've seen in other larger families - the facts are it's easier to add then to take away children. I know and understand some families struggle with 1-3 children but there is families that can handle 4,6,10, 15+ without much difficulty. The truth is we all live daily dedicated to our individual situations. I also believe that every family that have siblings, one or more; it's the greatest gift of a lifetime. Centuries ago,  large families were more acceptable, I'm here to fight back, to argue, to continue to state that the twenty first century can handle larger families too. The love we have for our children doesn't divide as more children come along. It multiplies. -Shalom Freedom.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"It's just home"

I don't like to wish time away although this week I'm glad it's over! We juggled a pediatrician apt, three mostly full days of neurological testing, therapeutic horseriding, a doctors visit, a physical test of sorts and slid in some Christmas shopping! AND I went grocery shopping that took three hours! I'm used to being stared at while doing anything with our family and especially grocery shopping! At Costco today I over loaded my cart to the point where I was standing there holding chicken. I had several comments. For example: "I'm sure glad that's not my cart!" "You need a tow truck!" to questioning, "This must be your other mortgage?" In fact, groceries seem to be two mortgages! "Who are you feeding, an army!?" I just laugh because many of these comments were true! I did need a tow truck....and I did wish if my chickens were alive, they would run along behind me! Three stacked grocery carts and three hours later I arrived home just to unload and start dinner! You're probably wondering if we had no food prior, no that's not the case. I'm a mother that likes to have everything needed (stalked) sometimes doubled (tripled) if on sale. I never usually have to run to the store for anything, our children will never go hungry. What's interesting about me is I really want to make sure everyone is well fed, otherwise satisfied. I don't want our guests to be shy going for seconds or thirds. I remind myself of a little ole Grandmother that pushes food....mostly in a loving healthy way. I even recognize how I am but I just can't control myself when entertaining. Our oldest daughter and her boyfriend came over for dinner. My daughter dished out her boyfriends dinner. I just couldn't leave it alone......I told her that wasn't enough. I insisted he needed more. ( ha ha ) He is just a lovely young man and after dinner he was stuffed, crashed out on our couch. It reminded me of my husband! While our oldest daughter was here, we had the best tantrum and the best spilled milk all over her boyfriends feet! But the nicest part of the evening was when she said, "I love home, as in home with you and Dad" See, we aren't a typical family. Yes we cost a whole lot more, we can be noisier, there will be different scenarios happening, possibly challenges but at the end of the day, we remember the laughter and the significant comments that make everything worth it. Our oldest daughter mentioned she wants to be here on Christmas Eve, sleeping over.......she might of moved out but she's not ready to start her own tradition. (Not yet) And that's "Ok" I will take as much time as I can get with our children, and our adult children. Judging by this Christmas, our home will be enriched with family. (A Christmas we will never forget) Even my Father & Mother will be here........and my Mother & Father.....plus my sister and her family........and as our oldest daughter explained, "It's just home"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where's our credibility?

I am a member of the AFABC Magazine. Magazine of the adoptive families association of British Columbia. There was a paragraph that caught my attention in the October/November 2011 issue called "Siblings fare better when placed together" The Children and Youth Services Review Vol. 33, Issue 7 through nacac.org quotes: A national foster care study found that children placed with siblings fared better than those placed alone. Researchers divided 1,701 cases into children placed apart from siblings (split), placed with some siblings (splintered), and placed with all siblings (together). Teachers reported that siblings placed together did better academically than the other two groups, and together and splintered groups exhibited less problematic behavior than the split group. Our family has some experience in this area because we adopted three children from a sibling group of five. Now in this case scenario it was the best solution. Although I do know that the one sibling that remained in foster care struggled. What I interpret from the findings highlighted above is children develop behaviors because of their emotions from separation. Many of us have hidden thoughts we think about, we question and develop confusion on why life is what it is. I can only imagine a child tossing their conclusion around in their mind on why they aren't with their sisters and brothers. Of course I understand most reasoning's behind why children are separated. Children don't and that's when their behaviors begin. What worries me most as an adoptive mother with siblings out there, what about their future? In our case, technically our family is "too large" to keep them together. Really? Personally if that's the conclusion; that ultimately changes their life. They become problematic within our society. This also makes the adoptive family subjected to question, "Why was I separated from my siblings?" We automatically are to blame. We were asked this in the past, and I did have to explain that it was the Ministry's decision. I'm completely convinced we're still disliked "to say it lightly". All of a sudden our role of being family builders shift to family separators in the children's eyes. I've been writing lately about large families adopting siblings because yes, there is some siblings out there for us although there is a gloomy stigma around large families adopting that I don't seem to understand. Perhaps I'm ignorant to why this outcome is floating around? For us we're not actively seeking to adopt anymore but our children's siblings shouldn't be sitting in foster care wondering why me? (And developing those behaviors because of it) When children already had a loss, different forms a neglect and abuse, they migrate to each other. Children turn to each other for supports and develop sibling bonds needed to guide them through many feelings that perhaps a parent and yes, councilors can't provide. I've witnessed it. I also truly believe that children develop better permanency outcomes when placed with their siblings. Basically it's unity. Long term well-being is what we all agree, a permanency plan. Statistically I live the truth and witness everyday the importance of siblings remaining together. I'm finding I'm a voice advocating through our family that large families need more credibility. If the truth needs to be sought, I believe most of our homes are open, (anytime, day or evening) anyone interested in witnessing first hand on how our family works, the invite is there. I can guarantee anyone interested will be pleasantly surprised. And that is my formal promise.

 A quote from Henry Ford that our son just used with his homework project is - Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.



To me that quote defines "Large families"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Documentation

We have a completely different feeling and appreciation for the police. In fact, several different constables knows us personally. They know our last name, who we are, what we're about and knows the pasts of our children that came from foster care, their birth families - the whole dynamic of certain situations they're completely aware and on board of anything that could arise. Nothing needs to be explained and they're only a phone call away. We had a personal visit not long ago from one of the constables we know, interestingly enough our neighbors automatically question, "What's wrong?" I smile, stating nothing. Just because they arrive in a police vehicle doesn't mean anything. One aspect I love about our community being small is, we receive immediate attention usually. I have many dinners, different nights that involve different family friends, I'm starting to think that inviting our friends, (Police Officers) over for dinner, a night of platters while off duty would be a great idea! Meaning their family too because some of our children are friends with their children. There is one constable I just love. It's not just about work, it's about the people involved. Understanding and again, having compassion for. What's really nice is we're getting to know the system and how it really works. I won't get into much detail although one story I fondly remember is; there isn't much help for the mentally challenged unless someone is threatening their own life, or someone elses. So, there is a mentally illed individual living underground. He claims the aliens are coming. Even his family can't get him the help he needs because it's completely voluntary. He suffers from schizophrenia. You would think under those conditions, an ambulance would take him to the hospital for evaluating. Sadly, "No" As much as there is lots of help provided when needed, in some scenarios not so much. This is definitely not a perfect world. One detail I've learned was to document everything. Documentation has power. So if anyone is having difficulties in any area, document. This provides the truth with time lines, distorted stories reveal and it will build the necessary help needed when or if someone will either end up in court or at the hospital being evaluated. You're probably wondering why on earth am I writing about our neighborhood police and documenting life's mishaps. Well who knows what our future holds, who knows what your future holds - I'm merely just sharing what a constable told me. It could be valuable information one day. Our world isn't what we think it is, or what we believe we'd like it to be, it's a place to be educated. I remember when I was a child, I would walk 4 kilometers to school one way. Now our children can't walk from the bus stop. Being aware is prevention. I thought I'd write about, perhaps remind that we always need to prevent and be prepared for the unknowns. Socializing and getting to know the system is (I think) a step in the right direction. Every preventative measure we take, we take seriously. I hope you do too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Countryside Christmas



What a wonderful day! My mother gave me my Christmas present early. It consisted of a lunch buffet and a Theatre performance two hours long called "Countryside Christmas" in Chemainus. My mother, sister and niece attended this fantastic day together. The gentlemen above gladly allowed me to take his picture during our buffet lunch. He was excellent on the piano playing all sorts of familiar songs including the soundtrack from Charlie Brown and songs from Elton John. It was very peaceful listening to his beautifully played music. After our two hour lunch we were seated into the Theatre that was magically displayed for Christmas. The performance was set back in the 1980's. (Not long ago) It's about this family and their Christmas together. It was extremely funny. I enjoyed myself immensely. I'm not going to write about the performance but it's a must see. The atmosphere and the talented actors/actresses just really set the stage for a good show. It was a Christmas gift worth giving. Not only did I have an excellent day, I was spending quality time with my mother, my sister and niece that I don't do very often. Times like these I cherish because we're having a great time, there isn't any "drama" While walking the streets of Chemainus, I often thought to myself that life can be anything that we make it. During the performance many times I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to have musicians, and actors in our family. I'd definitely support. They were having so much fun sharing their talent and with dedication (practice) our children can be just as talented and funny! That's where their "drama" needs to switch to the stage! My mother is very talented with oil paintings (wild life), wood scrolling and music. She can play the piano, the guitar, basically any musical instrument. Some of our children we bought guitars for although their patient level is nill. They seem to believe that picking up the guitar or sitting down at a piano, the music just automatically appears from their fingers. I also have an acoustic guitar that I would love to find more time for! Today was a bit of everything for me. Laughter, it was sentimental, it completely set my Christmas spirits on high and I question myself, "When will I get new strings for my guitar and start playing?!" Maybe a New Year quest! My mother insisted we go into this popular little candy store. (She can be very cute) Inside she bought all of us these Bon Bons, all different colors. (I think they're Bon Bons) A chewy circle candy with a white frosted coating. They are delicious regardless what they are. I thought about sharing them with the rest of my family but because of the expense and they were bought for me - na, it's sacred. After all, just sometimes; something has to be mine. BUT definitely has me thinking about our children's Christmas stockings! To end, if you want to get into the spirit or just have a great time, see Countryside Christmas. Another thought, their 2012 season tickets are also available. What a nice Christmas present would that be!? I'm thinking about making the Theatre a tradition for our family in the future!

"Thankyou Mom, it was a very special day being together!" This is why having a family is so important, for sentimental days like these. I know I still need them!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I prefer "Etch A Sketch" for our children

You know what's interesting about the Internet? You can post absolutely anything. I wrote about Facebook before and I'm the only few people in our home that is allowed Facebook for several different reasons. These Internet sites that you can create your own identity I'm assuming is very self gratifying. Changing your name, developing new parents and siblings. Being married when that's completely impossible. Exchanging information, adding multiple friends that you don't even know because it makes you feel "popular" Realistically, who has 500 friends? These sites can be helpful for many different reasons but also harmful to some that abuse its intent of use. Like my blog for example. Am I a Mother of fourteen children who writes the truth coming from my heart? I could very well be fiction. I think our children really need to be educated before starting online communications. Reality isn't what it's made out to be and for our vulnerable children, they need to know that accepting a friendship request from a stranger online can be just as dangerous meeting them on the street. Children are communicating with potential predators. Mary Jane might be Bob Who-knows-who age fifty five wanting to chat, to see some pictures, to eventually meet. For a teenager needing or feeling they need friendships, Bob has potentially set the bait. We have a family computer sitting in the kitchen that's barely turned on. We usually use it for homework purposes. What we choose to allow in our home is the only protection we can provide. Otherwise what happens outside our home we can't control. I know some individuals think we're depriving our children, perhaps imprisoned with forms of isolation but to be honest, outdoor and physical interaction is and will always be best. When I was a child, we didn't have computers. I picked up the telephone that was connected to the wall. Stood there connected by a cord while my Mother listened to every word. I went out and socialized. There is a etch a sketch floating around on Facebook that writes, "When I was a kid, this was my computer" on the etch a sketch screen. Very true. What children/teenagers don't realize that the internet is a privilege needed to be used wisely. As technology continues to evolve, it's providing many excellent services and resources although when online messaging becomes the main source of communication, I think we're loosing the closeness of human to human interaction. I'm also guilty for texting instead of calling because it's convenient. Also with the teenagers these days, they communicate easier through texting then face to face. My husband can text on his dinosaur phone but that's completely it. He doesn't have Facebook, or any online accounts. He's actually quite funny on the computer while his frustration level heightens, you can hear him speaking to the computer as if it will comply. For me, I enjoy what the computer (technology) has to offer. I'm definitely not against it but as a Mother I like the simple etch a sketch screen where there's no harm behind it. At least until our children can treat it seriously and with caution.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Light on"

I've heard, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" There's a very special side to our family that I'm honored to witness. Have you ever took the time to just watch and listen to what your children are doing? The majority of my time is just that. Watching different gestures, behaviours and our children's interaction with each other. I witness daily the compassion our children can have, the friendships built being siblings and it can be very admiring. As my children's Mother, I'm proud to see that our children are growing respectfully with each other. Accepting each other's differences and 80% of the time, I feel we're a tight connected family. We're a team mastering all odds with the occasional few misses and I feel very thankful that I've been given the chance to Mother all our children. When I think about our family, I think about our Adoption Worker. I can definitely rant about all the loop holes within our Government system although our Adoption Worker that has been with us from the beginning has built our family through adoption. She's basically the only worker we've been in contact with for over eight years. She knows us personally and she's been a huge support during every adoption matching process, placements and has been supporting us through different stumbling blocks. She's completely understanding, compassionate and very patient. (Very patient with me I'd might add) I truly believe finding the right Adoption Social Worker is key with having successful adoptions. I've told her many times over how grateful we are for her and without her, we wouldn't be the family we are today. Some people have a career to do, others take that career and make a difference. This is our worker. A passionate individual that does her career beyond expectations. I think there should be an award within the Ministry for Social Workers that have impacted and made a difference to so many lives. Through-out life, outstanding individuals should be recognized. Hero's are. When I look at our family, the hero here is our Adoption Worker. She has placed eleven children in a forever home, changed their lives regardless if they know it or not for the better. I'm very thankful to her foremost. The next beautiful piece is our children. It's just amazing how they've accepted us as their parents. I couldn't imagine the transition from multiple foster homes then being adopted without being hesitant about their place in life. I know some of our children have been hesitant but their resilience with this love that was just waiting to surface is remarkable. It's finally their place to belong, their home - their place where their story begins. Having a family, a stable home with no more moving is their saving grace. The picture above was taking quickly without much thought and it's one of my favorites. I find it to be so innocently personal and beautiful. My husband, a father to his new daughter sitting near the ocean. He's clearly showing her what I adore best, nature and she's so captivated by it. You can see her hand with excitement held openly in the air. The innocence of our daughter is so beautiful on a daily basis that I feel I need to make sure the world is provided for her. Mostly, I feel this for all our children. I just want the best possible future like any other Mother. That doesn't mean having a Doctor in the family, it means having a happy healthy child/adult child. We built our home for forever and I know a few of our children with special needs will be with us until death do us part. Crazy? Judging by the picture above it's a very honorable life we lead. Regardless of our challenges that arise occasionally, there is nothing more heart warming then our children's lives. (Their experiences and memories that we continue to build) I can respectfully hope that within their future we've given some fundamental skills, some love and a family where they'll remain as innocent and special as in the picture I love above. When I look at certain pictures, I tear. It's a reminder that our life is the best possible life we could have - a life with children. A smile I have is when our littlest daughter above sees the moon and she yells, "On" meaning the light is on. It's as sweet and simple as that. It's a whole world of heaven to her and that's something I will have to thank the higher power for - which is the gift of simplicity. And she's right, the light is on and life can be as simple as that if we choose too. You know, we're not crazy - we're far from that; possibly from another planet and I wouldn't change our family given the chance because for us, taking away isn't an option. We're meant to be family builders - that's our path we lead and I'm so thankful for it!

What determines a family too large?

I've been a huge advocate for adoption for over six years now. We've been involved with the Ministry for over eight. Now that we have a "large family" we have to advocate even more. When individuals hear that we have fourteen children they question why and how. The why is obvious, we love children, we love having lots of children. How? Now this is where it gets tricky. When a large adoptive family grows in numbers, that question becomes a stumbling block for most people to comprehend on how we function as a family. Each and every family is completely different on what they can handle. So for us, we have fourteen children. A 21 year old living independently on her own, an 18 year old that comes and goes independently, a 17 soon to be 18 year old that is graduating and wants to travel, also independently on his own. These are examples of just some of our independent children. We also have a variety of special needs. I often question, would we be denied a sibling to one or more of our children because of our "fourteen children" or because we have a variety of special needs? Right now, we know that there is two siblings in foster care (without a permanency plan) and one to be born. We aren't looking to adopt any more children. (Honestly) Although I truly believe that siblings belong together. (Unless the adoptive family couldn't possibly handle any more children) BUT if we could and were denied because of the size of our family, we'd be upset. Families need to be addressed individually and not by their numbers, not by their challenges but by their capabilities on what and how they handle their situations. Taking a closer look on the progress of their children and their milestones. Ultimately looking into the future - What happens when siblings are adopted out separately based on the decisions merely from wondering or asking, "How?" How might this impact the new siblings adopted within a large family? How might this impact the siblings already adopted? How will this family cope with more children? When they already have fourteen and many with special needs? Valid questions. My answers are, most are independent. Every family has challenges. Children within large families are already used to having many siblings, there won't be much impact. Every time we've adopted, our new adopted children adapted easy because of a larger family. They're accepted, unconditionally loved and welcomed. Denying siblings when there is a chance for them to grow together is not a solution. I believe it's creating a future dilemma. A future question for all the siblings involved. It's not about "How" anymore, it's about "Why" didn't you adopt me? I write about this because I know for many larger families it's harder to adopt. What's being missed is looking at the family........and actually agreeing (concluding)  "Some larger families cope with many children, with many special needs children" and "some families don't" I've written about dedication. When I think about adoption, the first word that comes to my mind is dedication. It doesn't matter if you have one child or seventeen, there is different levels of dedication involved. For us, our dedication is 24/7 and it's the life we've chosen. Many individuals (professionals) probably will never understand the whys and the hows but I also don't understand why some people choose to bungee jump either. That would be more of a pain in my neck then children! You're probably wondering what, how, when, why and where I'm going with this post. Basically I'm a huge advocate for adoption, I'm a huger advocate for large adoptive families because I know first hand that we work. Our numbers are higher, our challenges are higher but we if anybody know; what it takes to run a home with many children. A fact in which shouldn't be denied if a sibling/siblings need to be placed with their rightful family, their family that is already raising their sisters and brothers. A family that has shown they have the dedication to do so, they have the education, the resources, the experience and are on board with what's right. Eliminating the question "Why" for their children's future on why they weren't adopted with their siblings and leaving us answer on "How" we manage. That answer already exists if anyone is paying attention. In conclusion, long story longer - Large families definitely have the skills to add easily another child/children to their home. We shouldn't be booked marked that our capabilities are full because that's when I will care to differ and challenge a decision if denied a sibling needing an adoptive family when we're happily available right here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

'I love smoking!'

From the tub to the smokers, thirteen salmon are in the process of being smoked! It's a huge and messy job but my husband and I do it! After filleting, the salmon sit in a brine for two days consisting of brown sugar, course salt & different seasonings. Besides flavor, the course salt is used for curing the meat. The meat becomes tacky and then once heated it binds the meat with all the flavors. For years we've been using these electric smoke houses although our smoking production has become larger quantities. So as "talk" about preparing a garden with raised beds instead of a greenhouse, we're adding a home-built smoker that allows mass production. Our work list seems to continue to grow. (There is no end) One quote we live by is "Work smarter, not harder" Right now, our time frame for smoking thirteen fish in little smokers is two days! Next year it will be half that time! Smoking salmon is a tradition of mine, every year before Christmas. It's a tasty treat to put on platters and to make sushi with through-out the year. It's an excellent source of protein and a tradition fondly savored by our children. We just don't smoke fish. These little electric smokers will smoke absolutely anything. Shellfish, cheese, sausage, steaks, ribs, ham, chicken, turkey, you name it - you can smoke it! Depending on the size of your family, you can purchase these smokers in a Mini Chief, a little Chief and a Big Chief. They're very easy to use and it makes you smell deliciously wonderful! For me, the smells of smoke and fish combined would make anyone hungry! (Ha ha) This weekend I'm going to smoke prawns on shish kabobs! Cooking is a favorite for me. I love to cook. I love to make different ethnic foods and I'm willing to try anything new! This is a trait that is excellent to have with a large family! Our children's taste buds go wild when I'm cooking in my kitchen! OR they run away! Believe it or not, with all the work involved....smoking salmon makes me happy. The end results and because of my traditional time framing, it's one task closer to Christmas! My craft room is looking more like an elf room, Christmas cards will be sent out by December 1st, our decor will be up for the 24 day countdown coming up in three short, definitely quick weeks! I've been preparing for our annual Christmas party in my craft room - it's very exciting. I've written in a previous post that this Christmas will be very special, for the first time in many years, our whole family will be here on Christmas day! Christmas isn't about the presents, it's about being together because after all, we don't know what the new year will bring. Each and every day should be treated as if it were our last. So it makes sense to spend our time with who we love, who we have connections with as much as possible because we're not here for a long time. This is why memories I believe to be the utmost of importance and if we can provide the best of what we can with everything we do - at the end of our day we're happy. This week I love smoking and I believe our children love me smoking too! Salmon that is!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Home sweet home!

We're home! Camp Homewood is a wonderful place. Mainly it's the adoptive families that make it so special. We all can just be ourselves without explaining our lives on the "whys" of adopting. We all have something in common. We all seem to understand each other, understand our children and ultimately it's a place to have fun, enjoy every ones company and believe it or not, relax! I went alone with ten children. Camp Homewood's atmosphere and the dynamics allows parents to enjoy themselves too! All our children have friends and the picture above is our five year old son with his best buddy. When they're together, they're inseparable! Usually children will interchange time with each other but for these two, they were partners in crime for everything! During a group activity one evening I watched the two of them looking for each other to be partners. There wasn't any other partner for this pair! It's not only cute witnessing their interaction but their bond is naturally wonderful. This is one significant friendship that our children have through the adoption events we participate in. There is several friendships. Not only for our children, I feel so grateful to have so many wonderful friends through our adoption circle. Just supportive amazing people. I feel comfortable and that's the way friendships should be! Reflecting back, we had some great laughs. There is one father who has this fun personality about him, if anyone - he can make me laugh! I'm still smiling about how he made one of our sons do the jiggle over and over again by asking, "How is it done......?" "Are you sure that's how it's done......?" "Can you show me again?" Anyways, it was a "had to be there" moment to fully understand why it was so funny. Concluding, it's just a great bunch of families. On our way home I was extremely tired. When we arrived home, it was unpacking. Then I made nine lunches for school, cooked dinner, cut six heads of hair, bathed seven children that need more help then others. I cut my husband's hair. Made popcorn. Started defrosting twelve plus fish with a hair blow drier (kidding) Although over twelve fish are defrosting in our bathtub. If this week isn't busy enough, I'm smoking fish all this week! Now here I am, writing.......reminiscing while being sleep deprived! What's better then this weekend, is being home. To end this post I was telling a funny story this past weekend (at Homewood) about what happened to my husband while I was away for a few hours Christmas shopping on Thursday night. I come home and he's clearly frustrated with one eye closed. It was watering like there was something in it. I asked, "What's wrong with you?" At first he told me that I didn't want to know....then proceeded to explain that our littlest daughter vomited all over him so he put her in the bath. Not long after and without my husband's acknowledgement, our daughter pooped and started to paint lovely brown streaks up and down the side of the tub. So she clearly needed cleaning, the bathtub needed cleaning and while he was doing this, he somehow got poop in his eye! For him, it wasn't so funny although I'm still laughing. So when I arrived home he was still having the after shocks from the watering eye complaining that he might get pink eye! LOL After telling this story at Camp Homewood on my husband's behalf, the funny father that I wrote about above told me to take a picture of this book title and show my husband. It was called, "Thank you POO" (A Winnie the Pooh Story)When I showed him this evening, he said chuckling, "I had to buy eye drops.....it's still in there!" I was informed to tell him that the next time he bathes our daughter that he should be provided safety goggles, rubber gloves and a haz mat suit! OH home sweet home..................

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"We're outta here!"

"High Ho....High Ho, off to camp we go!" Friday, Saturday and Sunday we're off to our annual adoption family camp. Camp Homewood. Our children are extremely excited. A camp where our children connect with other family friends, where they sail, horseback ride, try archery and rivalry, play sports at the bus barn, have fun on the obstacle course, do crafts, multiple different activities and prepare for a talent show. It's me and ten of our children with approximately fifteen other families! I might not get any sleep but it's all about our children. Well.......I believe I have some friends there too! While I'm away with our children, my husband is finishing flooring. It's his perfect opportunity to take advantage of an empty house! (I sure hope he dusts after!) On our way to Camp Homewood, we always visit Grandma and Grandpa. :) Their new Boston better be ready for some attention because we're coming! So.....this is a short, quick to the point post because I have some packing to do. This time I have extra equipment to pack! (A wheelchair, a rolling chair and a highchair) I wonder where that will go?! Have a great weekend everyone! We will!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"November is Adoption Awareness Month"




I've been questioning myself if I wanted to post this video I made of our family. I know that one or two of our teens might not like the fact they're captured in my blog and I struggled wondering if I really wanted to share my family. It seems like facebook takes over in that department anyways - my intent with this pictured video was to not only capture memories but it was originally prepared for adoption pre-placement purposes.  Every time we adopted a child/children I made videos like this one. In this video, some of us are missing but it gives you an idea what we'd send to our child/children before being placed. It's all about family. There is some pictures that aren't perfect but the truth is we're a group of people connected as a family. Family always starts with a parent/parents that care, that provide and support. From there, it really doesn't matter where we came from or who we are.....what matters is we're a family. November is Adoption Awareness Month and this is my contribution that adoption matters. (I hope my video worked) As you know we're a large adoptive family with fourteen children. From age 3 to 21 and every where in between. We have several different special needs, different disorders, attachment issues and mental illnesses. Our dynamics can change daily but something I know for sure is my husband and I's dedication as parents will always remain true. Adopting children isn't easy, it's a commitment that changes lives forever. Since we've been advocating for adoption, we've learned that it's not just for other Countries, it's within Canada, within our own Province. It's not just about babies, it's for all ages. I've learned that there is extreme adoptions that happen for young adults, nineteen years and over. Children that age out of foster care without a family, still need a family. A place to call home; too come home during holidays. It's not necessarily about financial support, it's just having a connection. Many teenagers seem confused about adoption which is understandably so. Eventually after those soul searching years, those years of just wanting independence comes the years of needing stable healthy parents to confide in, seek support from and be adults with respectfully. I can honestly write, as I've always written.......we have our challenges, especially with teenagers. I'm also proud to say, especially with our experiences with our oldest son. We're still his family. Two years of confusion, being lost and trying to find himself, coming and going (searching the birth family) He's moving back home. Now this is where adoption is challenging but this is also where our son has a family to come home too. Parents that care. So I would never write that adopting is a piece of pie. It takes an enormous amount of patience, understanding, education and heart break. Then comes the hardest part, forgiveness. If you have all these qualities, adopt. And remember that in our beginning we only wanted to adopt one boy, age eleven with no special needs. (That never happened) If we knew what we know now, we would have adopted what they call, "Severe special needs" from our beginning because for us, we're here for as long as life allows us. Children need permanency. A place to belong no matter what their special needs or age. So here we are with fourteen children doing the best we can. Our usual bunch with us is ten children as our older four are independently moving on. It's our life, we make decisions and choices accordingly on how we feel is the best way to raise our vulnerable children that have come from different forms of neglect and abandonment. Children regardless of their unfortunate pasts that need a future to look forward too. Children that innocently ended up in foster care because there was no other birth family able to care/nor want them during their childhood years, that's why adoption is so important. Us = different individuals forming a family through adoption. I will always be proud to say, "Yes they're all mine" because adoption isn't just signing of legal papers, it's taking on a parent role that was lost from their birth families for good reasons. For the child it's taking on a new journey, a new life with hopefully more positive results, to form a foundation so their futures will shift with having stable connections. So the cycle of children in care lessons because there is family involvement. As you can tell, I can ramble endlessly on why adoption is so important. It's about the children. It's about their future, our world's future and even just adopting one child is making a difference. Opening your heart, your home and be willing to not expect a child to attach immediately (perhaps never) nor be perfect because adoption isn't finding that "perfect child", it's giving love simply because a child needs it. Now what better month to call up the Children of Ministry and Families, contact an adoption worker and start the process then November, the Adoption Awareness Month! Now that I'm finished my advocating, I really have to get going.......and I've noticed that my video I wanted to share wouldn't download. So I apologise and perhaps there's a reason for that too!