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Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 1 - "A family celebration"

Day 1

 BC Ferries!
 The Kids' Dryer at Stanley Park!
 A family celebration, including birth mom, birth dad and birth grandma!
 Our evening at our hotel!
Our first day went really well. I only had one child come down with the flu (so far) We're now traveling with buckets but besides that.....it was a great day celebrating family. Never in a million years did I think my husband and I would have the openness that we have with three of our children's birth family. It really puts a new twist on adoption for us. For the past three years we've been having openness with one of our sets of siblings. It's a healthy and safe relationship so far and the birth family has said, "They never lost their children, they gained a great big happy family and they feel a part of ours" They are another set of grandparents. They are loving parents like we are. I really have compassion, and the understanding and we've developed our love together in so many ways, it's truly incredible. I will share something with you. Years ago I felt that every time we celebrated our children, the birth mother and father would take over, I felt the boundaries were crossed......I just felt like a caregiver. I don't anymore. We all love our children. We are all family connected through adoption. Yes it's hard for me as their adoptive mother, but it's hard for the birth mother too. She only sees them when we get together, so a day loving her children I don't find boundary crossing anymore. I've learned how to embrace it. Accept it. Love the fact the our children are loved. And at the end of the day (like today) my children are saying, "Good night mommy, I love you" and in a way, as I sit and write I wish their birth mom can hear that too. If the birth family is healthy mentally, physically and it's healthy for the child within this delicate situation called adoption, openness should happen - and who would of known I would be writing this today because if it was ten years earlier, we were afraid. Ten years ago when we started adopting not only were we afraid of having openness, we were afraid of adopting special needs children, we were afraid of how some children would change our family dynamics. Only if I knew what I know now back then.........but experience is key, and I wouldn't change anything today if I could. Our first day, Day 1 - a family celebration was perfect and so far, my traveling eleven are perfect too!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"On the road again.........."

 
Les Miserables
 Happy Birthday Bonnie!
Imagine that! I had time to go to the theatre with a friend I haven't seen in awhile. We saw the live production of "Les Miserables" It was one of the most powerful performances I've seen. It was a long (almost three hour) show. It was phenomenal! If you haven't seen this live performance, it's a must! Les Miserables is showing until September 7th. It was a perfect Saturday!


Sunday was a busy day packing with lots of visiting from family and friends and a "Good luck" for our road trip! Here we are.....packed and on the road June 30th as planned with a packed van, a motorbike and eleven children singing, "On the road again.......are we there yet? I need to pee! I'm feeling car sick! On the road again.....are we there yet? He poked me! MOM are we there yet!?......on the road again......MOM when will we be there!? This is taking too long! MOM!.......are we there yet!? I'm hungry......oh..... on the road again.......MOM, mom, mom.....MOM! I had an accident mom......OH on the road again!" "Look kids there's a bear! Over there! Just kidding....on the road again!"

 
 Below is our luggage! Twelve white labelled bags with our names on it. Wrinkles? No worries, we can iron that out smoothing down our clothing while wearing them! The beauty of this method, it makes more room inside our van. Easy in and out storage!
Until I write again with a great post, enjoy the days given to you! Experience and make memories!
"On the road again"................. "MOM!" 
"Look kids, can you see that flying hubbering silver duck tape!?"
 
Ok......I'm kidding!
"On the road again...........wow, it's suddenly peaceful!"


Thursday, June 26, 2014

4 more days!

My last week around home has been non stop and in between our appointments, I started packing early for our road trip that starts on June 30th. I have twelve piles of clothing. One for each of us. Diapers, wet wipes and formula. A wheelchair, one cooler, cameras, one computer (so I can journal "blog" along our way) books, and one special toy each, bottles, a play pen, a medicine kit plus all the little hygiene items needed. I have twelve seats available in our van that is taken. I have a spot for our wheelchair, and one little space left.....the rest will be packed under and around the seats. We thought about a van carrier for luggage but I seem to enjoy struggling somewhat! Speaking of struggling, I'm also delivering a 230 pound dirt bike to my one son that lives up north. It will be hitched on the back of my van. Plus other items of his that he's requested. My check list involves "crazy" - yes - that's been definitely checked off! Plus I'm working on a more relaxed vacation for myself when I return, possibly in the wilderness hiking to find my sanity! lol For now, this road trip I plan on making a eliminated point system that our children can visualize while I'm driving. All their names will be on it, and every time someone is misbehaving, I will put a check mark next to their name. My idea is to keep our children calm, and keeping their hands to themselves while we're traveling. Being the only adult with eleven children, and most with special needs is going to be a definite adventure, and a test on my patience. Once our children meet their maximum check, they're done for the day. My idea (not perfect) but I think it will work, and it will allow rewards for my children that are behaving. It will hopefully teach "seeing the cause then seeing the effect" Another idea I thought while the non behavioural are swimming or having fun, essay writing. Explaining "what happened" to get myself to writing an essay while my siblings are having fun? On a more positive note, I am purchasing all our children their own summer journals. While I'm journaling, they will have the opportunity to journal about their day too! A great way to keep schooling within our summer adventures! I also plan on making laminated bingo cards with different pictures on it. When our children are looking out the window, they can check off spotting a "cow" for example. It's homemade travel bingo! We will see....I might be writing up a bunch of smoke right now, and I might find out that my ideas aren't great at all! If you have any ideas, please comment. I'm always up for different suggestions to keep us happy, healthy and safe. I do have two children that these ideas won't work for. Our littlest son (age two) and our littlest daughter with CP. I just need to keep them intrigued and interested and hopefully I won't have too many meltdowns! What's worse....our littlest daughters favourite item (an ipad) is broken. It was going to be one of my main survival items. Oh well....life needs to challenge me and including in my challenges, my tennis elbow has returned, and I will have to wear my arm brace. That's my week....I'm starting to prepare myself physically and mentally for traveling with eleven of my children! During our travels we are visiting birth family, previous foster families and family. The dynamics will be forever changing on a daily basis! Honestly, I'm over the top crazy -  but this will be a road trip we will never forget!
Toilet paper - for on the road emergencies! Check!
Echinacea tablets - for quick stress release! Check!
Road trip games - for entertainment! Check!
Squishing stress balls - for squeezing! Check!
White boards - for on your lap coloring! Check! 
Treat bags - for great behaviors! Check!
Gifts for birth family! Check!
Gifts for nieces and nephews! Check! 
Great music for mood changing! Check!
Crazy mother! Check! 





Monday, June 23, 2014

(((Friends)))

We did it for the first time ever! We left our littlest daughter with someone other then us. We have never left her because of her special needs. Her spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy with cognitive delays has left us her sole caregivers in fear that she might be hurt. It wouldn't be any one's fault, just the slightest mistake or accident can leave our daughter suffering for months with the simplest hairline fracture. She's seven and she's not only becoming heavy, she's just tight and awkward to carry. If she decides to flail, it can put both carrier and herself in harms way. (Not to mention we usually prompt feeding all day while documenting and also documenting the outgoing) I personally think it's a huge responsibility for someone to look after our daughter but it happened today with success! I went shopping with some of my children, my husband worked at home and friends of ours watched our littlest daughter with three of her brothers. It turned out to be a productive and great day. Our littlest daughter had a great time and what's nice is.....is having interaction with others without her mother standing by her side like an eagle eye. Our daughter has two best friends, and for me that's not only beautiful but emotional to see. Other little girls adoring ours. Not only is it beautiful friendships, it's like a sisterhood - it's wonderful to see that our little girl inspires others. Like with her brothers and sisters; she will teach acceptance, and compassion for everything, and for everyone. And to enjoy the simple things in life, like swinging! Our little girl.......every one loves her, and she automatically loves every one unconditionally. She's changed our lives in the most incredible way - with her pure innocent beauty.
A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A wish that came true! "Swinging with happiness"

My brothers family and some of us went back to the farm at the Qualicum Cheese Works. It was a good day with great warm weather. Even better, we have more family! 
 My grand babe thinking, "Can I actually drive this thing!?"
 The highlight of our day was watching our daughter swinging with happiness! 
 Thank you so much! "The Lions Club"

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Lions Club. We have an amazing park and now...... our littlest daughter can enjoy it! She will swing for hours. Tonight she even asked, "swing?!" I think we will be going to the park more often now! We really appreciate and we're so grateful for more opportunities for our daughter to have fun. It's just not our daughter, it's our whole family! I held back the tears today while she swung for an hour. Thank you so much! It means more then the world, or a vacation - it's a wish that came true! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"No more home school, let the adventures continue!"

During our public school strike, we haven't been lacking around here with educational learning and experiences! Homeschooling does make life easier and even this fort below is learning to be an architect! 
 The tree-fort is almost finished!
 Dinner is caught!
 Year end homeschooling fishing field trip! 

 Crab anyone!?
 And.....year end Qualicum Cheese Works field trip!
Named him/her "Cantik" meaning beautiful in Indonesian. 

 Tractor fun!
 Good idea!
Home schooling is absolutely amazing. There is so many opportunities. I'm learning that we can meet the British Columbia curriculum in very unique ways. Not to mention our home schooling team is awesome! I couldn't home school without everyone that who supports us. It was a bitter sweet day for me. I always crave summer with the relaxed routines, and I can't wait for our new adventures although.......when you have a support team that comes in daily throughout the week (teachers, educational assistants, occupational, speech and physio therapists) they become family. As our littlest daughter will yell, "You're home now!" and that I've tried to create. An atmosphere where everyone and anyone is welcome. I almost felt in disbelief that today was our last day but you know, if you know me - adventure is my middle name and that will continue. Onward we go.....life awaits us! 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Stand By Me Father's Day!

 Peppa Pig card just for Dad! First thing Dad (my husband) thought was, our littlest daughter loves Peppa Pig!







 
Instead of my husband venturing off to the car shows, or working in his garage, he decided to go outside (all day) and build our children a tree fort. In the morning I gave my husband the opportunity to do whatever he wanted. His words, "I have a tree fort to build" which is including a staircase up to the first floor. Father's day was a great day because most of all our children were hammering nails, working together and it's the childhood I want them to have. After all, isn't the greatest memories up inside a tree fort? It's a childhood dream around here and that's our goal. One of my all time favorite movies is called "Stand By Me" A classic movie about children around twelve years old who go on an adventure together. Our tree fort being built reminds me of this movie when I watch some of our boys working together for a place to call their own. It's going to be pretty cool for them when we're home this summer, to sleep, to eat and to dream all their dreams within their own walls, inside their tree-fort! A great father's day it was! I also won't lie......I can not wait to spend nights up their with my sons!
 Our Stand By Me Boys!


 
We didn't go anywhere this weekend. We did enjoy a nice evening with friends and a father's day building dreams. I'm not sure if we can ask for anything better then this!? What I do know is....there's millions of great fathers out there. Including mine! "Happy Father's Day" but most importantly, the father's day award goes to my husband. Even gifting his own peppa pig card to his littlest daughter while spending the entire day building a memory filled tree fort ranked high in my books! And now our sons will be like these boys seen below, knocking knuckles. What's nice is, they're not just brothers, they're friends, they're connected tightly through experiences and memories. Let the adventures begin......and I love my five girls but having eleven boys is pretty fantastic! It reminds me of my tom boy days!



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Love hate relationships

We love them and hate them at the same time. Electronics. Here I am writing on our school computer contemplating using it as mine. My computer died. Then while in safe mode, our teacher and I was trying to retrieve millions of pictures then "poof" a completely blacked out screen with no power. I am huge joker. In one way I was completely trying to be funny with my weird quirky sense of humor, then in another way I was completely serious announcing what a great you-tube video it would be titled, "15 ways to terminate a computer" 1. We could give it its last bath. 2. We could put it on the other side of our sons bike jump. 3. We could drag it behind a quad while it smashes into the sides of trees. 4. We could give it to our littlest daughter. 5. Play lap top basketball, shooting hoops with it. 6. We can drive over it - several times. 7. We can attach wheels to it and use it for a skate board. 8. We could see how many times it could handle being dropped out of a tree. 9. It can be a sling shot project. We can build a big sling shot, and we can see how far it could fly. 10. It can be our target while we throw rocks at it. 11. We could use it for a skim board. 12. It would make a great chair or resting stool. 13. It would make a great bmx jump while slanting it on a rock. 14. Use it for a trampoline. 15. Lastly stringing it from a nearby tree, filling it full of candy and smashing it like a pinata! OR we could just be more electronically humane and either donate it for refurbishing or recycling. Our thoughts sounded like a great you-tube adventure. 
All kidding aside regardless if I'm funny or not, electronics test my patience. There is a reason why my computers keyboard is loose and the enter button pops off. It's a love hate relationship. Speaking of love hate relationships. We recently purchased fish. They're very interesting to watch but the maintenance isn't a spectacular event that I like doing. I don't like the slime. The fish poop. It's a bit barbaric when one fish is chasing and eating another. However it's very cute watching our one daughter sitting beside the tank watching the fish swim while discussing what her fish is doing. Our daughter lost her fish the other night. It was sad. We didn't realize that when a fish is being eaten by another fish it means it's dying and has bacteria growing on it but now we know. Unfortunately we will have lots of trial and errors with our fish lives around here I think. Our daughter was happy however choosing another fish naming it flash. Our new EA (teacher) was wonderful. She jumped right in there taking over my position today while I was trying to catch a wild fish with a serving spoon! Oh boy. I had the fish net right there but a serving spoon I thought would be less traumatic. I just started getting nervous thinking the fish was going to jump out and do the floppy chicken in front of everyone. I personally don't like using the net because I've accidentally squished them inside trying to get them out. Darn fish anyways! A total love hate relationship for me! 
Another love hate relationship I have is with grocery shopping! I used to love going grocery shopping. Now because I'm constantly searching for some sales, it's a frustrating time consuming task! I'm also a creature of habit. When I shop at Costco and Superstore, I know exactly where I'm going, and where everything is. My astronomical big list usually consists of the same items. Although when I get there......Costco moved their items around. They must think it's funny. I worked at Costco and I know what they're doing. It's a sales tactic. The more you move the items around, the more the customers have to look.....they have to circle the whole store looking for that bottle of Heinz ketchup (for example) and in the meantime while looking for that bottle of ketchup, you've purchased some other products. Genius! It's very frustrating however when I have an agenda and I'm usually on a time limit. What's worse!.... I have favorite products. I purchase them all the time then all of a sudden it's gone. It's either gone for a little while, or gone for good. For example, we have been buying the large frozen canisters of frozen juice for years. Now they've been shortened into these little cans for the same price! What on earth am I suppose to do with that!? Superstore has completely thrown me for a loop. I know, I know - they're improving their store while changing absolutely everything. I am being patient with this but I can't find anything and every time I visit Superstore, it's changed again. "Oh hum" There went my love for grocery shopping not to mention Costco didn't think it was funny when I wheeled the cart into my wheelchair van. Jeeze - after all we're frequent shoppers, we should own our carts! 
Life definitely can throw love hate relationship curb balls at you. For me and especially if I'm "dis-liking" the situation, I start clowning around and throwing out jokes. For example, if I'm in the line up at the grocery store, and I'm waiting a long time.....I'm starting to feel slightly annoyed......but then I start chatting up every one that will talk to me. Some don't, they will actually frown at me like I'm crazy but heh, my children do that too so it doesn't bother me at all. What's really cool about changing that love hate relationship into a funnier scenario is (I believe) it not only lightens my frontal lobe, it changes every ones atmosphere and frontal lobes too! We can change frustration.....see I don't care about the computer and all the millions of pictures I lost, nor that the fish barbarically eat each other during sickness or that the grocery stores toy with my mind. I can merely move on after flushing the electronics, we can develop a nice fish graveyard out back and I have enough children to spread throughout our groceries stores looking for that bottle of ketchup instead of searching for it! For the products that don't exist anymore - thank you for saving my money because I'm not going to purchase baby cans of frozen juice for my family to make you richer. Water is in fact healthier anyways......adding a little lemon. 

Too conclude this semi-nonsense post (just because I wanted to write) we all have love-hate relationships. Most of us have a love-hate relationship within ourselves. The crucial fact is.... remembering what's important. Life is full of moments and it's on how we deal with them that changes our relationship with them. Whether its a computer, or a flopping fish or someone you know - we do have the power to change at least ourselves within that relationship. 




With all this being said.........and while yet this computer is doing funky things to my blog. Well - ok - it could be the operator cause I admit that I'm a computer killer. lol I might have some love hate relationships but I also make those relationships fun, full of love and I try very hard to just live within our moments as best as we can. You know,  I think people either love me or hate me too, and that's "A OK" - just don't use me as a pinata! 









Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Redirect frustrations & remember you KNOW you can! Summer awaits us!

 
It's that time of year where we're finally bundling it all up and semi-disappearing from routines! And I am!....I am so excited for all of the good things to come! Sunshine, traveling, camping, new experiences, boating, quading - all equals the great outdoors, and great family and friends! We're "outta here" I'm excited now, the count down is on, although that picture above can mean two things.....I'm excited for new adventures but I'm on my knees begging for mercy, and pleading for peace. In a few short weeks I'm taking eleven of our high needs children on a British Columbia and possibly Alberta road trip for a few weeks while my husband works. We will be visiting some birth family, and family members along our way. Am I crazy being the only parent attending this adventure!? You betcha! (I never once denied being crazy) I'm also looking forward to sharing our summer, and reminding everyone who reads that if we can, you can - do anything! "You've done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination"
Ralph Marston

Determination and dedication is absolutely everything. I remember a night a sat in my room and asked, "Why?" and I whined, "I can't do this" Meaning I was tired, I questioned my life.....my path. I felt I wasn't strong enough to continue. When we feel this way within those moments in our life, it is a legitimate feeling that we should address. While I addressed it, ironically (call me crazy) I received my answers. I was reminded that this is my path, my journey and I was chosen because of my strength, my determination and my dedication. We all have paths we're on.....and we can venture in different directions but when the time is right, our paths are brightened before us. Yes it's weird.....and some people don't understand, then some do because they're already following their own that's meant to be. So I'm a believer. I believe in possibilities. I believe everything and anything is worth trying.....how do we know the answers if we don't seek them? Every one of us is worth at least trying, and that's why our adventures will never end, our frustrations will turn into that positive, effective and unstoppable determination that I've developed in my heart! That's why I can take eleven of my children on a British Columbia road trip, home school now seven and counting, camp several weeks on end (even out of coolers) function with only 4-5 hours sleep at night, sit in hospitals for weeks, endure physical and mental abuse while learning to forgive. It's not a path for me to say, "I can't do this" because I am and I can. I can, "we can" do anything which equals that you can too. I'm excited and I hope you are too for more adventures, we're all the little engines that KNOW we can and our summer awaits. So don't let any excuses, any insecurities stop you - enjoy your life and relax your routines - IT'S SUMMER!  Its our life.....lets live it! AND if at any point I'm frustrated - I will remember to redirect my thinking and you should too! Remember - everything is just a moment, it's just a day - (everything happens for a reason) -  "enjoy" - AND do you know what!? If you're not hurting others, or yourself - LIVE.  Be you! What's worth teaching to my children is self confidence, to be unique, to be true to yourself and their path will follow.... my babbling is over - now let's bring on summer!!!!!





Sunday, June 8, 2014

I met my brothers & reconnected with my sistas!

This weekend was interesting! When I was in the seventh grade (age 12) my sister and I met our new friend. Unaware to us, 29 years later we're still friends, we're now all sista's. My sister and I attended our friend (our sista's) new house warming party. We haven't seen each other for several years. What I find interesting is.....after many years we met again - and it still felt like yesterday when we were playing cabbage patch dolls together. Saturday was a great day because I was able to reminisce about the good ole days like a day never passed.

On Sunday it was my Dad's 75th surprise birthday party. Before arriving we stopped at the Saratoga Speedway. Some of us raced ten laps while the rest of us were spectators.
Happy 75th Birthday Dad!
The highlight of Sunday was meeting my two brothers for the first time, and reconnecting with my older sister who I met once over fifteen years ago! There is a total of seven siblings. I only grew up with my one younger sister. A long story that isn't for my blog nor do I even know most of the details. What I do know is I have five other siblings! I know this is or could be a very sensitive topic for my family to read. (I know you're reading and I'm very honored that you are) "Please comment and share if you'd like" After reconnecting and meeting my siblings for the first time, I would love to move forward knowing them a lot more. I'm not sure why our pasts never connected us, but now that we're in our forties and fifties with nieces and nephews we've never met, it would be nice to become that family I always write about and dedicate myself too. We have an open door and I've always stated that "more is merrier" it's the only sentence in our vocabulary. There is one woman that organized (for most of us) to get together on our dad's birthday - it's my dad's wife, my other mother. She is such a great woman. It didn't matter about the past, it didn't matter if we were anxious and it didn't matter that we showed up with thirteen of our children. It was a day that not only needed to happen, it was a day for new beginnings. There was many family and friends that attended my dad's 75th birthday. One family friend "Jim" and his wife Diane were there. They have known our family for a long time. They watched me grow up. As I stood in front of Jim he said, "He waited for this day for a long time" Meaning for all of us siblings to meet......and as awkward as it was; I hope a door has been opened for new relationships and experiences. Thank you for allowing me to use our family pictures, and sharing just a glimpse of our family story. I'm grateful this weekend. It was a weekend reconnecting with friends, reconnecting with my older sister and meeting my brothers while celebrating who created us - our dad. And for my mom - you're an amazing woman accepting, and loving us all unconditionally because I know it's not easy. You've always been a very special lady to all of us, "Thank you" Our door is always open - please remember this my brothers and sisters......and Happy 75th Birthday Dad!
 My brother Joe and I
 The five out of seven siblings plus our Dad!
 Above Joe, Bill, Barbara, Dad, Moi & Steven
Above Joe, Moi, Dad, Barbara, Steven and Bill.