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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Party Reflection

The spooky Halloween potluck dinner
 Dare to dip?
 My grand babe and I
 Bobbing for apples....
 Our little man scored an apple!
 One of our sons eating in our kitchen
 Some of the kiddo's playing Halloween bingo!
 Spooky punch with a floating ice hand!
 Spooky pumpkin cheese dip!
 Anyone dare to eat a deviled spider egg!?
 Rice Krispie pumpkins
 Frightening candy treats!
 If you get past the spiders, you will be able to eat!

Our Halloween party was a success. The children had a blast. I would like to thank every one that attended, and shared spooky treats. A huge thank you to Jessica, who organized the spooky games and kept our party going! Our games consisted of bobbing for apples, Halloween bingo, graveyard, we had a craft table to make skeleton hands, freeze dance, pin the boo on the ghost and Halloween charades. She's one amazing woman! Today (Sunday) it was a clean-up day, now we're back to Monday! I hope your weekend was as fun as ours! "Happy Halloween!" 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"The power of a dream"

Do you honestly feel you've accomplished what you want in life? I'm definitely not an expert or a professional on what defines a satisfactory life however I seem to preach finding that balance by taking action all the time. That if it isn't feeling complete, to take action and change. Starting by making goals. The hardest part with anyone is taking that first step then keeping that dedication moving to succeed. Throughout my life I've been all about action. It didn't matter how challenging it was, if I felt in my heart, in my soul that something needed to change, I started taking steps too change. This all began after my first marriage. After seven years I knew I needed to make some changes. I went back to school. I remarried. We grew larger and larger as a family. Now I home school. I'm an advocate for adoption, home schooling, and unique differences. I've had endless changes within my life that I never thought was going to be possible. I'm starting to remove the sentence, "I can't" from my vocabulary. This past month I've been getting up at 6 am three times a week for boot camp. I never thought, nor did I ever want to get up that early, let alone kill myself physically throughout my busy week. Not only am I going to boot camp, I attend the gym a few times a week in the evening while some of our boys are at Taekwondo. You're probably wondering why? I'm on a mission. Once I get on a mission, it turns into a dedication. It could be with education, my family, writing, making "Emily's Angels" or my physical health. Life's accomplishments continue to change with growth. I can answer my question. Have I honestly accomplished what I want in my life? No. I want to finish my book. I want to travel and hike the world more. I want to be physically and mentally strong. Goals I know I will achieve eventually with determination. I think every body should have a bucket list and start checking it off. I do. It personally makes me feel proud that I have been able, and I have been taking that action to check off goals. It gives us individual purpose because honestly, I don't think our purpose in life should be just for every one else. I am a mother of sixteen children, a grandmother of one grand babe. Common question, "How on earth do you find the time?" First husband and I are a team. That's a key point. Secondly I make time for me - number one. Regardless if it's consisting on one hour a day, if it involves reading, writing or killing myself at the gym or stretching on my living room floor - I and every one deserves time for themselves. Approximately two weeks ago a friend of mine lent a book called, "The power of a dream" written by Peter Legge. I wasn't sure if I was going to have time to read it. Funny, if I want to accomplish something, (it could be as simple as reading a book) - I find the time. The book was left on my bedroom pillow. I had to read, it was right there! While reading this book I thought......."Wow! This book is exactly what I believe" How coincidental. It was like a sign. It's asking, "What are you doing for the rest of your life?" I can say, "Raising children" AND that's a fact however that's also an excuse to not live my dreams. Peter explains not to waste the little time we have in our lives. That's on a day to day basis. "Every day, each of us makes a multitude of choices that will impact our lives....the quality of our choices will dictate whether we will struggle in frustration or live an extraordinary life - the life of our dreams" Debbie Ford. Very strong words. Another good point Peter asks, "Are you afraid of failure?" You know....I was. I have been afraid of failure many times. I was afraid of change. There was a time a bawled my eyes out during a practical exam during one of my OFA 3 tests. I had a code 3 with full packaging I needed to finish within 15 minutes! When the practical exam was over the examiner asked me, "Why are you crying?" I explained, "I failed" I remember that day so vividly. He said, "Carrie, you don't need to cry, you passed 100% and will make an excellent first aider. From that day forward I believed in me. First aid employment was one of my dreams I accomplished. Even if I failed, Peter writes, failure teaches us perseverance,  failure teaches us to survive and that we're never to smart to make mistakes. Good points. Your goals or dreams can be ridiculous to some. I know mine are. I know adopting numerous children sure was. I read in one of Peter's chapters asking, who are we trying to please? "Whose life are we living?" A quote from his book that I loved was, "You can't live someone else's life and sacrifice your own dream to please someone else simply leaves you exhausted and resentful. It takes courage to follow your own path in life and sometimes it can be a lonely journey." For me as a mother of sixteen children, I want them to live their life. I want them to be happy and follow their dreams. This is what I see being successful. No matter how unique they become, and what dream they conquer. They don't need to please me. Another tidbit I've learned now having four adult children. It's their life. More key points about keeping your goals or dreams on track that Peter makes is stop blaming (finding excuses) there is no substitutions for hard work, those who succeed give it their all, you can't let obstacles stop you from achieving your dreams, if you plan to succeed, you can't fear failure and there's no need to go it alone. Going back to my bawling episode with my practical first aid exam, William James quotes, "There is but one cause of human failure and that is man's lack of faith in his true self" I lacked that back then, I don't anymore and that's why I can accomplish everything I heap on my day's plate. All the challenges, the "failures" all the life experiences I wouldn't change because it's enhanced me educationally and spiritually. I'm definitely not perfect and I'm definitely unique. My goals and dreams are real, and I know with action, with believing in myself they will become true. Right now I'm on a mission in several different directions and I feel with my own determination and dedication, plus adding positive people in my life my bucket will become full. If you want to read a powerful book, and you want to start changing, and reaching towards your dreams, read "The power of a dream" by Peter Legge. Excellent book for every one! Thank you my friend Judy for lending me such powerful words, and reinforcing me that I can do anything.  

"Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings......- The Dalai Lama. - I love this man! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Shoe Blues....

It seems a week goes by before I write again. Weeks are passing by like blinks. To update, we're still making "Emily's Angels" We will be set up at the Qualicum Farmer's Market Nov 15th from 9 am-12. Dec 13th our annual Christmas Party starts at 4 pm until 9 pm at the Nanoose Place Hall. Please RSVP me for more details. We will also have a "Emily's Angels" table set up with Christmas Angels at the Christmas party. Besides events, I have been busy with schooling and therapist appointments while adding three mornings of boot camp starting at 6 am plus occasional gym visits. Other then the regular routines of life I've been very irritated with some of our children lately. This is nothing new "lol" and something that might not ever change. It's the lack of value some of our children have for their material items. I have been purchasing shoes every couple of months for example. They walk through mud, they drag their feet while bike riding, they slip on their shoes squishing the heels. They loose their shoes, and sometimes they even hide their siblings shoes in the bushes. This isn't just with shoes, they loose their jackets. Brand new jeans they roll around in the grass! Crawl on the cement like dogs. Sometimes I catch them walking around in their socks outside. They're chewing on the collars of their shirts, or purposely destroying their clothing. I know, I know - some of this is typical child behavior. However it's getting ridiculous. Knowing that our children need to be clothed, I re-purchase what they need. Except I give it sometime. I make them wear what's destroyed. I explain that if you don't look after your clothing, that you won't get nice items. For example, our teen boys want $150-$200 pair of Michael Jordan basketball shoes. NO - it won't happen because they can't look after the $40-$50 dollar pair of shoes they have or had. I've explained to our older teenagers that perhaps they should get a job because this money train of endless supplies is going to come to an end if they can't appreciate and look after what they already have. It's just not about clothing, it's bikes and their toys. Some of our kiddos just break everything. Which leaves me wondering what to do for Christmas and birthdays. Lately it's been bed sets for birthdays. Christmas has me baffled this year. As much as I want to step away from the traditional material over commercialized holiday, I love the magic of Christmas morning as much as my children do. I'm thinking I could buy more shoes and socks for Christmas but again, that won't solve the ongoing issues we have around here with the purposeful destruction. Funny but not so funny, our sixteen year old son complains constantly about absolutely everything and including that he has no clothes. I ask, "Where did your clothes go?" "They're lost or someone stole them" he explains. However no one in this house is his size so that's not a fact. I witness how they treat their clothing and their as a parent I'm questioning, "What should I do when their footwear is like a disposable pantie liner!?" They need to walk outside with something on their feet!? If our children don't learn somehow now the importance of looking after their things, they will grow up not having value for anything. Having a everything is replaceable attitude. The problem with this generation is they all have this entitlement that their parents should replace, their parents "HAVE TOO" do for them. Including car rides. I have explained that "No we don't" When I was younger I walked. If I wanted nice material items, I worked. I understood the value therefore I looked after everything. This is what our teenagers need to do. As a parent I feel I need to prepare our children for their future and how the real world works and it's not disposable and replaceable. I've learned to not allow my children to make me feel guilty for their mistakes either. It's so interesting on how missing clothing, broken or misplaced shoes or what I "cooked" that day (some don't like) becomes my fault. Sorry, your materials are your responsibility and if you want a menu, get a job and buy your own dinner. Situation solved. I've been explaining to set goals, if you want something bad enough, you will earn it. Start taking responsibility for your own actions. So my conclusion is many of our children are going to have the shoe blues because they're going to start working to replace what's lost or broken. It's my only option I can think of that will help them realize the value, to hopefully appreciate and understand that shoes don't grow on trees, neither does life. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A farm-hopping Thanksgiving!

This was the best idea I could of had, farm-hopping instead of the traditional turkey dinner! Here's our Thanksgiving photo reflection! 
In this picture we are watching new baby chicks.
We took over the hayride bus!
 On the bus! It was really cool at the Tiger Lilly Farm. The hayride took us through a pumpkin forest. There was pumpkin scarecrows everywhere!
 Then eight of our children had a pony ride!
 Including our grand-babe!
 I thought this was really cool. All the pink pumpkins proceeds were going towards the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. This was at the Mcnabs Corn Maze!
 If you haven't been.....I recommend you go to the Mcnabs corn maze. This place is amazing and the owners are fantastic! I purchased corn, and several types of squashes. Their prices are phenomenal! 
 While at Mcnabs we went on their hayride!
 The owner asked one of our sons to drive the hayride tractor! 
 Their field of pumpkins is endless and quite the beautiful sight!
 Here is some of us at the beginning of the corn maze! It was an awesome time, even in the rain!
 Afterwords we had our thanksgiving dinner. A wiener roast at Mcnabs. What was really amazing about our afternoon here was the owner paid for our dinner. It was by donation, however he insisted. Wow - we were very appreciative and thankful. 
 Our youngest daughter (Emily) found a natural phone. A squash that resembles a phone! Too cute!
Every year I ask our children what they're thankful for. This year I didn't. This year I didn't cook a turkey either. This year I made the decision to do something different and it truly was the best choice. We were together. We were outdoors enjoying life. We are thankful for - living, breathing and being able to experience just this - farm hopping together. Our whole family wasn't with us. Nor our children. Regardless they were in my heart, and we had a great day creating more memories. I'm thankful we can do this. AND thank you Tiger Lilly Farms and Mcnabs Corn Maze for making our 2014 Thanksgiving so special! For Monday it's a farm meal with Mcnabs corn on the cob and three hens.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The middle zone.

I wrote two paragraphs then deleted. Then I wrote a sentence. I deleted that. Now here I am writing about deleting what I previously wrote. Imagine that. Not much content. I have a lot of mixed thoughts and emotions. My grammar and sentence structure is as mixed as my thoughts leaving me deleting. Even as I write I'm questioning myself where to begin. I write about experiencing life and living to our fullest all the time. Our family with many challenges accomplish more then most. However when a new challenge surfaces, it's something that needs to be digested. Whatever the new information is, we as human beings need to not only digest, and possibly grieve in one form or another, we need to figure out what works best to deal with the new enlightenment's. For me, when I found out about our littlest daughter's physical condition on her hips, I was devastated. It's not because of the operation. I know she needs this operation. I know it will benefit her potential to walk one day and to make her anatomically correct without the ongoing chronic discomfort she has now. (I know this is about my daughter) I've heard several times from different people that it's my daughter's trials not mine. "This will enhance my daughter's life" Everyone is absolutely right. However I am human. I am my daughter's mother in a space where I feel helpless. In the same place where I felt helpless before. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel but I'm a mother. I don't want to see my children struggle or in pain. "I am strong while with my children"..... but I need to release how I feel, feeling helpless as a mother and there is nothing I can do to change what is. No one will understand unless they're in a helpless place like I've been with my children. I do want you to know that this place doesn't consume me. It comes in waves and I deal with my own heart the best way I know how. And that's with living. That's with experiencing everything we can. That's with creating angels and offering hope to others. I am strong for my family but I also need some understanding and compassion for how I feel. I feel like I'm in a hard place right now. I'm preparing our daughter for surgery. I'm preparing our family. I'm preparing myself. However I'm trapped within the middle zone. We have accepted what is. We are prepared as much as we can be. We know the outcome will be beneficial and will enhance our daughter's life. It's the recovery that's unknown. I've called it the middle zone where it's not as simple as some may think. We have the cognitive piece that really overseas the whole recovery period. As much as the surgeon says, "If it hurts, she will stop moving" Not necessarily. Will she relax and watch movies, and read books? "No" Will she eat? "No she will not" Will this complicate her recovery from the hip surgery? Definitely - this heightens everything. Am I worrying or obsessing over our daughter's recovery? "Perhaps" However I know our daughter and I don't need to here that it's going to be "Ok" I know in the future it will be ok ( I hope ) but it's not ok to remain smiling when someone you love is in substantial pain not knowing why. This somehow I can't accomplish. If my daughter was cognitively able to understand everything, where she doesn't shut down completely, where I can vocally walk her through this with understanding, it would be easier. This isn't easy. Regardless and however I try to look at it.....our daughter's recovery scares me. (I've spent weeks in hospitals before with my daughter) I know in some individuals eyes I'm this pathetic mother internalizing my daughter's condition into something more. If you know me, I'm not for drama and I'm definitely not for negative experiences. I don't know what the future holds for any of us. Around here we live one day at a time because we're not just living with disability challenges, we're living with special needs and that is a whole other ball game. The middle zone is the unknown. It's that grey area where everything ultimately is grey until the end of the tunnel appears and as a realist, I believe it can go either way. It's between the A-B with the middle zone where all we need is support, understanding and a hug. Funny....I never knew what a real hug, and a listening heart meant until recently and whatever your situation is - follow your heart, express your feelings to people who will listen and understand and most importantly, I believe that in order to keep healthy you need to express, and release your feelings. Don't ever feel ashamed, this is how we heal, learn and strengthen within every challenge. This is what not only Emily's Angels is doing for us, I'm seeing it within others. To conclude a long message that probably should have been deleted, allow yourself to go through your emotions. It's only the middle zone. I know this....however struggling with it as well.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We're a team!

It's that time of year again "Happy Thanksgiving" However this year we aren't cooking a turkey. I'm not spending the majority of my day in the kitchen. It's all about enjoying the day doing something else. We haven't figured out what that something else stay tuned - it should be something good! 

I decided to share a few pictures. This picture below is a picture of our littlest daughter. She's the sweet little girl we're making "Emily's Angels" for. I'm anticipating that her surgery will be in January so lately we've been filling her life with what she loves. We're in the process of creating a "Happy Book" that consists of everything that makes her smile. Emily's favorite characters are Elmo and Peppa the Pig. I have an Instagram account called 16children. Within there I met a lady named April who knits amazing hats. Her business is called, "Knitting with Arrows" and she's also located on Facebook. I asked her if she could make our daughter her own special toques for the winter season and here they are! "Thank you" April for these amazing hats! 
 Last weekend during the beautiful weather many of us went shell collecting as a family for "Emily's Angels" Emily's Angels isn't just a angel made out of shells. It's not just Cerebral Palsy Awareness. It's not just a project asking for donations. It's bringing so many of us together during a difficult time. Since we launched "Emily's Angels" approximately a month ago, we have collected and cleaned thousands of shells. We have made approximately a hundred or more angels. We have received support from everywhere! Including Michael Bortolotto. A well known Cerebral Palsy motivational speaker, "Thank you" to Judy Karlson! We will meet him October 11th! We have support from our family and friends. We have incorporated Emily's Angels into our homeschooling program. We have several events booked, we'll be set up at a farmers market in November and our local public school just had one of our sons speak in each class about "Emily's Angels"  Judy has written it best, "Build the field and it will happen" We also started making shell Christmas trees as the field is now growing.
 Back in June our new local wheelchair swing was taken down due to liability reasons. Our daughter was only able to swing twice before it disappeared. The wheelchair swing was taken down because other able bodied children were piling and swinging on it. The swing is heavy and dangerous if it's not used for it's intended purpose, therefore it was taken away until the city could figure out safer solutions. Just the other day it was re -installed! There is bigger signs stating it's for "Wheelchair use only" and it's locked. Only wheelchair users can access the code by calling the city. So today we brought our daughter down to the park to swing! She loved it! It's perfect timing because we really wanted to take some pictures, and get some video footage of her swinging before her surgery. As you can see in the below picture, our daughter is sitting sideways. Her right hip continues to shift, leaving her constantly moving where it's comfortable. As much as I know she needs the hip surgeries (both sides) and she will benefit after her recovery period, I dread the day we head to the hospital. We really needed this swing, and it's finally returned! 
 During our park visit our daughter wanted to try working out. Funny.....lately this momma has been hitting the gym in the evening and now I have started boot camp at 7 am three days a week before school starts! I understand how hard it is to strength train. I can only imagine what our daughter goes through. I'm strength training so I can be my daughter's anchor. I need physical strength to help her gain hers. We're a team and if she can do this, so can I. "We don't know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have" 
 At the park I noticed an outdoor library. I thought that was really cool. You can give a book, then take a book. I didn't take a book however I plan on going through all my boxes of books and donating towards this little library that resembles a bird house. 
 For different events and our farmers market weekends we made poster boards (seen below) Pictures of the collecting, the cleaning, the sorting, and the matching. The whole process has been documented by pictures. 
 The next board is about the finished product. 
 Then we turned "Emily's Angels" into a science project explaining what the shells are and where they came from. 
To conclude, we're a team. All of us. I couldn't accomplish everything on my own. I am so grateful for the people in our life. For my children. Our family and friends. For our group of professionals that come in and out of our home five days a week. We're not only a team, we've all grown into a family. I can't write and or state enough on how much appreciation and love I feel towards everyone in our life. As sappy as that sounds, it's true. Our universe must be aligned to bring so many individuals together. "Unity is strength...when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. - Matte Stepanek. 

"Sending angel wishes and hugs to all" - Judy Karlson. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Self love

I'm almost forty two years old. I have to say, "I love my forties" I feel confident. I'm not near perfect. I have troubles speaking and writing at the best of times. My memory seems to fail me. However I've embraced my curly hair that I dreaded all my life. I'm learning not to worry about everything. Most importantly I'm learning not to be afraid of judgement. Here is the truth. (I also believe this is truth for many) We live to please others. We want people to not judge but to somehow accept, understand and agree with our chosen lives. Well.....the world doesn't work that way. Even with our adoptions, we kept most secret until the finale because we were afraid of criticism. Afraid of peoples opinions. It wasn't, "Congratulations" It was, "Are you crazy!?" "Why!?" "Another one!" The negativity would fill our air of what something we waited so long for, something so exciting - a child - it was never a celebration. For us, it was a long exhausting ordeal that was finally forever. It was time to celebrate. We celebrated as a family. In ways keeping our life secretive was not only protecting ourselves from forms of criticism and judgement, it was enabling us to remain positive and protecting us from opinions that we didn't want to hear. Now I question, "Should we have done things differently?" I personally think it was for the best. Today our family is complete, and I'm not sure if we would be if we shared every detail. Besides our adoption journey, we are always faced with different scenarios. We are constantly surrounded by judgement. Having a large family. Having a multicultural family. Having children with special needs. Home schooling. ME! I am different. I have tattoos. In fact I love body art. Right now I have purple in my hair. Before it was blue. My husband's and I relationship is excellent for us although outsiders comment because we are also independent individuals. We travel without each other. Our interests are different. We believe in maintaining individuality. Life seems complicated when it doesn't need to be. So here I am now in my early forties with many children feeling pretty confident and finally;  it doesn't matter what others think. If we're happy who cares. I find it bizarre how individuals will invest so much thought on how one lives rather then focusing on what's more important, like the homeless, or the fact that we don't know what each day will bring us - life or death. For me, "right now" I have many future worries, including our littlest daughters' surgery. I honestly don't care anymore what others think. Until they walk my walk, take on my 24/7 days and feel my heart......the judgments, and the opinions do not matter. I feel good and at peace on who I am regardless my faults. You should too.........I write about living, and experiencing life all the time - in fact one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is self love. To be accepted regardless on who you become, or what you look like. This starts at home with the parents. For me, I'm open to accept my children with anything, they could be a pastor in a church, they could love the same sex, they could be full of tattoos and piercings, they might make me a grandmother at a young age. (oops been there done that) Nevertheless my point is, if they're not hurting themselves or others - I will do my best not to judge, but rather embrace their life, their love and their independence of being themselves. I want my children to feel this before they're in their forties.......that whoever they are - they self love without worrying of judgments. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A new day......

It's really a blessing to awake and start a new day! In the evening in between our boys going to Taekwondo I went shell collecting alone. I skipped the gym (oops) and decided to take advantage of our nice weather. I`m glad I did. It was a peaceful hour. All I heard was the waves of the ocean and the birds singing. The sunset was beautiful. Then to top off my hour I found a patch of shells. I didn`t have a bag so I was going to use my hoodie, then all of a sudden two people came around the corner carrying groceries. They stopped and asked me what I was looking for. I explained the type of shells and for what. I also explained that I forgot to bring a bag so I was going to use my hoodie AND I wasn't crazy! lol These two strangers combined their groceries into one bag and handed me the other. In return I said, "You're my angels" I continued to collect shells enjoying the beautiful evening. 

Later I came home and made banana pumpkin raisin muffins. A recipe that I just whipped up hoping that it was successful. It was. 

Then we started designing Christmas Shell Trees. The Christmas trees are for sale. They would make great Christmas decorations and/or presents. All proceeds will go to "Emily's Angels" Please see previous post called, "Emily's Angels" for more information. 
The above Christmas trees don't have their star fish toppers on yet....they're our first four, three have already been purchased. Please msg me to order yours today! "With a new day comes new strength and new thoughts" - Eleanor Roosevelt. And onward we go...........