Wednesday, December 16, 2009


     I don't even know where to start. So much is going on I'm overwhelmed by it all and I'm not the one dealing with it. My poor husband is. Bless him a million times over. It started Sunday night, with Ian. He started throwing up at midnight and several hours later it was coming out both ends. Scott stayed up with him, cleaning it all while letting me sleep. Monday morning came and when I changed the baby's diaper my look of horror would have shocked an entire audience in a modern Michael Meyers flick. Her legs and butt were covered in some kind of rash that looked like small pox and chicken pox and the black plague combined. Meantime, Ian's condition began deteriorating. I hurried to schedule two doctors appointments for the kids. I had to plead with nurses to be seen that morning instead of in the afternoon. I myself was scheduled for surgery at 2:45 to have the right half of my thyroid removed due to a suspicious growth. Nothing like the threat of cancer to make your Christmas season merry and bright. I had to drive downtown for Christeal's doctor appointment and Scott took Ian to his. Christeal has some kind of bacterial skin infection and the doc put her on antibiotics immediately, both oral and topical. I got a text from Scott saying that Ian was so dehydrated he needed to go to the hospital for an IV.
     By this time I was a blubbering mess. I called Julie, sobbing into the phone, asking if she could take me to my surgery so that Scott could stay with Ian. That's all it took. My amazing ward was summoned and they responded like the army of Heleman.
     Suzanne went to the store for gatorade, Christeal's prescriptions, and pull-ups for Ian. Sharlene Wells checked Beka out of school so she could come home and help. Julie picked her up and brought her home. Tawni's teachers were nice enough to let her go home early also and she came to help Beka with Christeal.
     Alta View Hospital couldn't help Ian with what he needed so they sent him in an ambulance up to Primary's with Scott following behind. They poor kid ended up being hospitalized because his electrolites were so screwed up.
    All of this took place by 2:00.
    Service on our behalf continued. Scott's sister, Mindi heard of our plight. She called the girls, checking on them. I think she even went to the house. I'm not sure. I heard about all this after I came out of the anesthesia. She took some dinner to Scott up at Primary's and later spent the night with Ian so Scott could finally come and be with me. Chris Derieg also took dinner to Scott and Brent Schumann showed up to help give Ian a blessing. Dinner came in to my home as well along with phone calls and well wishes. Julie stayed with me.
     I don't know what time it was when I finally got to see my husband. It wasn't long enough for either of us. Christeal started throwing up and he had to leave me at midnight to take care of her.
     It is now Wednesday. Christeal is over her pukes but the rash is still hideous. I'm home. Ian and I both came home yesterday. It's hard to be a mom and know your kids are hurting and you can't be there for them. As soon as I got home I sat with Ian and just rubbed his skinny little legs. It was so good to see him.
     Last night Beka and Zack started throwing up. Tawni locked herself in her room with a can of Lysol hoping to keep the illness at bay. I hope she succeeds.
     My sweet, sweet, husband is taking care of everyone. He cleans up vomit, washes blankets, holds crying people... you should see our family room. Ian is on one couch, Zack on the other, Christeal on the ottoman and Scott brought a cot up for Beka. He's making me stay in my room. The only thing I can do is change Christeal's diapers. He'd do it himself but he has a severe severe allergy to formaldehyde based products and any kind of wipes are the worst. He's exhausted but he keeps saying he's mentally stable. I don't know how. Perhaps there is some divine help. I think there probably is.
     Good news for me. The growth on my thyroid was benign.
     I apologize for the mispelled words/names, scatter-brained thoughts, and bad punctuation. I'm under the influence of Lortab. But the thanks I feel in my heart for my family, friends and neighbors is not under the influence. That is crystal clear. I love you all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Words of Wisdom

     Ian's COPS obsession is reaching new proportions. I had to create COPS-free time so that the rest of us don't go berserk. Scott changed the volume settings straight from the control panel on the computer so that Ian can't make us deaf with his violent theme song. I dug out actual head phones instead of just ear buds. If Ian insists on listening to COPS while I'm in the kitchen with him, I make him use the head phones. I can still hear the musical noise, but not to the point where I want to do him bodily harm.
     My dear boy loves to act out and pretend that he is a police "occifer". He arrested Beka this afternoon. He grabbed her arms and yanked them behind her back (thank goodness she was prepared otherwise it would have been quite painful) and said in his best authoritative voice, "You're under arrest for public nudity!"
     I took advantage of this declaration, telling Ian that answering the door naked is considered public nudity and begged him to stop doing it. Time will tell if these words of wisdom made it past his earwax.
     But Ian's COPS obsession is not the subject of my post this evening. It just made a good opener. The subject has to do with something that took place at Julie's house on Saturday afternoon. I was visiting with my sweet friend, Ian of course tagging along, making his presence known through loud laughter, raucous behavior, and torturing the female gender. It was time to leave and Ian and Joey were coming back to my house to play. I was trying to find coats and boots. In the meantime, they kept going out the door, coming in the door. Out, in. Out, in. Slam, bang. Fingers nearly pinched. I couldn't take it anymore and something in me snapped.
     "Ian! You little ****! Knock it off!"
     Well, am I proud? I think not. Not only had I resorted to name calling, I had used a foul four-letter word to demonstrate my frustration. Ian stopped cold and slowly turned towards me, eyes like a bush baby. And then it happened. He looked at Joey, Joey looked at him, and they erupted into a volcano of guffaws.
     "You just said a bad word!" he wheezed, pointing his finger at me.
     I'd like to say that I handled his laughter and ridicule well . . . that would be a lie. It just made me more mad. So much so that I repeated the offensive word two more times. Upon arriving home, Ian made sure to tell everyone present what I had said. Whether they were related to us or not.
     Later, as I made some lunch for him and Joey, Ian said to me, "Mom, when you said the s word, I saw Satan reaching in and pulling that word out of your heart. Three times!"
     I guess it's true. Out of the mouths of babes. Who has words of wisdom now?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Plan of Happiness

     I realize it's been a whole two weeks at least since my last post. When I started this blog I had great intentions of writing everyday. But at night, when I'm pooped and completely exhausted by children, the last thing I want to do is write about them. In relief society today, Sister Parris told us to pretend that money was no object, our children were cared for, and we had an entire day to ourselves. What would we do? Each of us had the opportunity to voice our plans of happiness out loud. As I listened to my neighbors talk about what made them happy, I realized that everything going through my own mind was centered around my kids, my family. No matter how tired or grumpy or mentally weary I am, they are always my happiness and joy. With that in mind, I think it's time to blog.

     Tawni. My oldest is nearly eighteen. Where did the time go? She often complains about being the experimental child and her complaints are usually valid. Parents have to start somewhere. I am so proud of the woman she has become. She is beautiful and kind, charitable and compassionate. She wrote me a special letter this morning telling me how glad she was to have me for a mom. It made my day. Last night, she went on a date to a rock concert. She's been looking forward to this for a long time and was so excited. She doubled with her friend Megan and Megan's date. Once the concert started, it didn't take very long for the three of them to realize that this wasn't a good place to be. The spirit was absent and Cameron was preparing for a mission and didn't think it was good to stay. Tawni's date made the comment, "I'm glad I'm not going on a mission. I'd have to miss out on all this!"
     That comment broke her heart and made her ache for the missionary she loves who is currently serving the Lord and loving every minute of it. Tawni, Megan, and Cameron made the decision to leave the concert. Tawni came home and cried on my shoulder for a bit. Then she dried her tears and went with Megan and Cameron to watch videos and make breakfast foods. I am so proud of her.
     Rebeka. Forever my sunshine, her smile and fun-loving personality brighten a room the second she arrives. She is happy, goofy, and messy the way a fourteen-year-old should be. She is my social butterfly and spends more time away from home than in it. But that makes the times when she's here even more precious. I love and treasure those rare moments when she plops herself on my bed and says, "Guess what?"
I stop whatever I'm doing and give her my full attention because I know that she's in the mood to talk. And for the next hour she is mine and I am hers. She is a beautiful young woman who grows more so everyday. I love the way she is with Ian and Christeal. Sharing a bedroom with a toddler can't be easy but Beka loves it. She'll take the baby from my arms and say, "I'm putting her to bed tonight." And off they go. With Ian, she knows how to play with him. She knows how to have fun and just enjoy little people without getting stressed. But my gentle lamb is not always so. She definately has the ability to be a lion. I love that about her. The spunk, the fiestiness, the energy... all qualities that I admire.
     Zackary. My almost twelve-year-old is growing up faster than I want. If I could stop time with him I would. He too, is my sunshine. His imagination knows no bounds and he can play for hours by himself. Watching him is like enjoying a one-man play. He acts out all the parts perfectly, never missing a line or cue. And he doesn't know to be embarrassed. He carries on not caring who is watching or listening. I love that innocence and I hold tight to it because I know it will disappear sooner than later. He is so excited for his birthday, to be twelve. He wants to be a deacon and pass the sacrament. Zack has always loved everything about the church. He loves the meetings, the doctrine, the learning, and he possesses an inborn instinct to choose the right. He is also my jokester and loves to tease, scare, torture and gross-out his female family members. But he has a real soft spot. He expressed it best about a year ago when he said to me, "Mom, Dad is for fun. But you are for lovin'."
     Ian. Ah. The fourth gift. He is so excited for Christmas. He helped himself to the decorations over a week ago. You should see his bedroom. He hung lights around his bunkbed and over the closet. He tried hanging a wreath on his door but it kept falling off so Scott put it at the end of his bed. He has lights strewn across his floor and informed me he didn't need his nightlight anymore. I'm able to keep him in line by telling him that Santa is watching. He will ask me daily, "Am I on the good list?" Unfortunately he has so much extra energy from sheer excitement--which gets him into trouble--that I often have to lie and tell him, "Yes. You are on the good list." In my book, effort and good intentions should count for something. He is obsessed with COPS right now. He found, on YouTube, a video of the chipmunks singing the theme song. He listens to it at full blast. Finding the chipmunks led him to some of their christmas songs, which in turn led him to christmas music in general. He is now obsessed with carols. Which I prefer to COPS.
     Christeal. I hope I don't get into trouble for writing about a foster child. Her presence in our home is just too big to skip. What a happy little girl! I'd forgotten how fun a toddler could be, also how much work they are. I'm picking up one mess and she's making two more, but like Scott said, "She's worth it." And she is. She is giggles, baby babbles, squeals, and laughter. She loves to push buttons, carry a purse, and hide valuables in undiscovered locations. My iPOD is still missing, although Tawni found her phone--in the toilet. This tiny human loves trinkets. She likes to carry small objects in her hands and stuff them inside her clothes. She awoke the other night, after only two hours of sleep. She was fussy and cranky so I decided to change her diaper. Inside her jammies I found six game pieces from a chess set, a christmas ornament, and a lightbulb. This morning when I changed her diaper, there was sticker on it that said, "Made in China." Along with that was a tube of toothpaste, toenail clippers, tweezers, and the television remote control. I laugh out loud each time I change her clothes.

     These five people are my treasures. And if I had a whole day to myself, where money was no object, I'd spend it with them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweet and Sour

     I made meatballs for dinner. Well, the meatballs were the storebought kind, I just cooked them in homemade sweet and sour sauce. Ian loves meatballs. So does Scott. Tonight was for them. As we gathered around the dinner table as a family, for the first time in two weeks, Ian looked at his food and said, "Yuck. I don't like meatballs."
     He missed out. So did Tawni. And Beka. And Zack. So while Scott and I partook of the delicious bounty, everyone else stared at us, and murmured. And fought amongst themselves. But at least we were together.
     It occured to me, as Beka accidentally-on-purpose spilled water on Zack, that we could have family home evening while sitting there. (Maybe it was Scott's idea. My memory fails me this evening.) Anyway, I called upon Tawni to quickly think of something. She did. She said she'd been thinking of service lately and wanted each of us to tell about either something we had recently done for someone, or how someone served us. I started.
     "I noticed that someone cleaned the pantry. I don't know who did it, but it looks wonderful. Thank you."
     Tawni piped up. "It was Dad. We were looking for my phone."
     Next it was Scott's turn.
     "When my truck died, someone went to the car dealer and bought me a car. They did all the paperwork and hassle so I wouldn't have to."
     Ian pointed at me, smiling, "It was Mom! Is it my turn?"
     We nodded.
     "Let me see," he tapped his chin, "Nope. Not that one. Hmmmm. Okay. This is it. When I was like six or maybe five and we went camping? Do you remember that trip?" We nodded even though we didn't have a clue. "Do you remember that Megan cleaned my room for me?" This time we did remember. Megan Loutensock did a service for him several years ago and it made an impression.
     With his turn complete, and the attention now on Tawni,  Ian decided to go back to playing on the computer. He typed in COPS on YouTube and turned up the volume. Tawni's tale of service was told to the background music of, Bad boys bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? We tryed to get Ian's attention back on spiritual things, but handcuffs and sirens will trump the Lord every time. After Beka and Zack shared their experiences, we called it quits. Just then, Ian left the room. When he came back he was holding a picture of Jesus with a little child on His lap. Ian said, "We need to be nice to little kids, like Jesus. I'm nice to Jessi, and Colby, and Skyler, and Christeal."
     I turned to Scott. "I guess he was listening."
     We smiled and talked some more about helping others, especially children. My heart swelled with love for my little boy, precious and innocent.
     About an hour later, I called him to the bathroom and told him to get some toys for his bath. When he returned with a Little People schoolbus and a Hummer, I thought to myself This is going to be messy. In spite of my misgivings, I left him alone and started picking up the house. After about fifteen minutes I decided to check on him. I found him naked, standing on a stool holding a dripping waschcloth. The sink was on, the tub faucet was on, and there was a lake on the floor. The carpet outside the bathroom squished when I walked on it and the paint on the baseboards was bubbling. These were not the only casualties. Two bottles of shampoo lost their lives. One expired on the bath mat. I needed a forklift to heft the sodden thing into the washing machine. I hope the machine can handle all the bubbles. I keep picturing that scene from Mr. Mom when the suds overflow. Needless to say, I was not happy. And my boy knew it. His bedtime moved suddenly from eight o'clock to seven fifteen.  He managed to escape a few times, seeking sanctuary with his father, but I am Mom and my sweet doth cower beneath my sour.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Open Arms

     We have a new addition to our family. She may be temporary, she may be permanent. But while she is in our home we will love her as our own. Call us crazy, gluttons for punishment, tell us we have a "save the world" complex. It's all true. We can't help ourselves. We just love kids.
     Last Sunday we met our new foster baby for the first time. She came to our house for a get to know you visit. Before the doorbell even rang, we were all in love. Beka walked into the kitchen and said, with a precious smile on her face and a light in her eyes, "She's here." When that sweet bundle of baby fat toddled into the house it felt like she was coming home. Tawni, Beka, Zack, and Ian were enamored. They sat and listened to the current foster parents talk about her, about the cute things she does and says, about her home situation, her likes and dislikes. They asked questions and played with her. I was so proud of them. I sat on the couch observing my family and my heart filled with love. My kids are exceptional people. The way they unselfishly welcomed a tiny stranger into their home, knowing she would demand more of my time and energy, and yet their arms were opened wide.
     And little Ian. One of the reasons I wanted to do foster care again is because of him. I wanted him to be able to experience having a foster child, so that he might better understand how he came to be in our home. He has questions about his birth family and we will sit together and look at pictures and talk about them. He knows their names and is just beginning to grasp the concept of adoption. I know having a foster child will help him in many ways. He has been so sweet and loving. I've seen such a tender side of my boy these last few days. He told me, "I will protect her. I won't let anybody touch her toys."
     "Are you going to be a good big brother while she is with us?" I asked him.
     His eyes lit up at the realization that he, like Zack, was now a big brother. "Yes, I am."
     And so far so good. Tonight he played kitchen and dollies and when his little sister screeched for a certain toy he wasted no time in giving it to her. I'm sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but I am so proud of him.
     The previous foster parents, bless their hearts, told me they have been praying for weeks about this little girl. They just felt like she was in the wrong place and needed to be with a different family. When they walked into our home, they felt the rightness of it. And so did I. My heart was so full of warmth and that tingly sensation, that my ears were literally ringing with it. It's been a long time since I've felt the Holy Ghost that strongly. Any doubts I've harbored about doing foster care again are all gone. I always knew it was the right thing to do, but sometimes fear gets the better of us. I don't know how long this precious child will be with us. I hope forever. But if she returns to her birth family, then that means goals were met and her parents did everything they could to improve themselves for her. It means saving a family. What is better than that? Nothing. But my heart will break . . . And when it's not quite healed, I'll open it up again to make room for another sweet someone.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Family Night

     Monday night. A time of togetherness, a time of learning, a time of love. And perhaps the most painful night ever endured by mothers. Last week I watched a Supernanny re-run and decided to use one of her object lessons for family home evening. It was perfect. A fun and simple way to try and rid my children of their potty mouths. I prepared in advance, gathering my supplies and buying donuts for a fun treat. I even had a scripture to add an element of spirituality, thus enhancing my lesson.
     Ian was very excited for family night. He had his scriptures ready immediately following dinner and kept pestering me and Scott. He wanted home evening now, even though we were still eating. Finally it was time. I had him pass out paper towels to each person as we sat around the kitchen table. I then said, "Let's have an opening prayer. Ian? Will you say it?"
     He very importantly uttered his standard two second recitation. "Heanwy Fadda tank you for dis day Cheesus ist amen."
     "Ian has a scripture for us, too." I nodded at him. "You can read it now."
     With Scott's help, Ian read Mosiah 4:14-15. It took a while. When he came to the part about not suffering the children to go naked, he succumbed to a sudden case of giggles. Upon finishing the comedic scripture, I asked my rebel offspring what King Benjamin commanded the parents to do.
     Tawni knew the answer. "He told them to teach their children not to fight and quarrel."
     "Right. What about the next verse?"
     Tawni continued, "You need to teach us to love one another."
     "Okay." I then took a lemon and cut it into slices. I passed a slice to everyone. "Go ahead and suck on your lemon."
     Ian wasted no time. His little face contorted and his body shivered from head to toe. I wasn't much better. Zack barely licked his, over-dramatizing so that we would all see how cool he was. Beka pointed out that she didn't even pucker. Scott said his tasted good and proceeded to eat it. Tawni suffered from sore afflictions, known as cankers, and would not participate.
    Filled with great wisdom, I pointed out that name-calling, mean talk, and crude words were like the lemon. They left a bitter taste in our mouths and in the mouths of those we hurt. Then I had everyone lick a finger and dip it into a sugar bowl. The sugar represented the sweetness that comes from love and kindness. Wouldn't we rather sweeten our spirits with good words than make them bitter with lemon words?
     Ian piped in, "Can we have donuts?"
     While we feasted on dessert, I informed the kids that there were certain words I didn't want them using anymore. Ian smiled, "Like naked?"
     That got everyone else laughing. "No. Naked is fine. I don't want you to say suck, dumb, stupid, hate, or," I looked directly at Zack, "freak."
     "Oh man! Freak is awesome!"
     "It's not nice."
     Once the donuts began digesting, it was time for family prayer. Scott asked Tawni to say it. Ian reached down to the floor and picked up his Clone helmet. He put it on his head right as Tawni started to pray. She barely got past the opening when Ian said, in a muffled voice, "Hey! Who's in here?" Tawni started laughing so hard she had to cut the prayer short. Ian was smiling, delighted with himself and his ability to cause mayhem. Trying to restore order, I told Zack to get in the shower and Ian to put on jammies. That's when everything changed.
     "No!" Ian shouted, running from the room.
     For the next twenty minutes, I battled with him, pleading, coaxing, threatening. "If you want friends tomorrow, what do you need to do?"
     "I don't want to play with friends. I want a shower."
     "It's Zack's turn for a shower. You can have one tomorrow."
     "NO! NOW!"
     I don't remember when he finally put his pajamas on, it's all a blur, but I remember what he said to me.
     "I hate you!" "You're mean!" "Want Daddy!"
     There went my Supernanny inspired lesson.
     Getting Ian to take all his medicine after that was torture. He fought me the whole way, screaming for Daddy.
     "Fine. Go get Daddy. I'm done."
     Daddy came. Daddy gave him his amoxicillin. Daddy did it too fast. Daddy made Ian throw up all over the floor.
     Mommy looked at Ian smugly and asked, "Who does your medicine better? Mom or Dad?"
     Ian, looking just as smug replied, "Daddy."
     After all that, being the good mom I am, I read my child a story. We cuddled, we laughed, and when the book closed I said, "Time for bed, sweetie."
     The devil returned, leaping off my lap, running down the hall screaming for Daddy.
     Instead of chasing after him, I reached for my computer and the comfort of a blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


     Not only does Ian suffer from fetal alcohol effects, he also suffers from asthma. Severe asthma.  Last May he was hospitalized after contracting a simple cold that triggered a massive attack. He spent three days in the hospital, the first being Mother's Day--yes, now is the time to feel my pain and express sympathy--thank you. Last Saturday Scott and I were on date with his crew from the fire station and their wives. We were having a delicious meal at Market Street Grill, courtesy of Captain Kirk. (That is not a typo.) Luckily we'd finished the meal and were awaiting dessert when the call came. It was Tawni. Ian couldn't breathe. She'd given him his medication, but it didn't help.
     Prior to this, Ian had a stuffy nose for about two weeks. Nothing major. Just snot. But on Friday, he developed a cough. Saturday it got a little worse. By the time we arrived home after our date, he was throwing up every time he coughed. On my bed, and all over the freshly cleaned carpets. I know it's shallow to mention it, but hey, it's frustrating. After emptying his stomach, he then began to cough up thick mucous. Scott put his paramedic skills to good use and listened to his lungs. The tops were wheezy and there was no air flow in the bottoms. We administered a breathing treatment with the nebulizer, but it didn't help. We decided to take him to the emergency room.
     Luckily, Ian didn't need to be admitted. With another breathing treatment and oral steroids, his lungs cleared, although the terrible cough remained. It is now Wednesday night. He has not been to school. This is the third week of school he has missed since it started in late August. I just can't keep the kid well.
     We had a follow-up appointment with the pediatrician yesterday. She increased Ian's maintenance medication from 44mcg 2X/day to 110mcg 2X/day. He also gets three Decadron tablets every night this week, Albuterol every four hours, nasal spray, Benadryl, and 2 tsp of Amoxicillin 2X/day. The poor kid is a walking pharmacy. And every medication Ian has to swallow triggers his gag reflex. It takes me twenty minutes to get the Amoxicillin into his body. Every puff of Albuterol is straight adrenalin. You couple that with a kid who has major ADHD, poor impulse control, and no understanding of consequences, and you end up with something like a mean alcoholic on speed.
     He and I have been together none stop since Saturday night. I am tired.
     But I shouldn't complain. He's the real one who suffers. A few weeks ago, Ian was battling another cold. He lay in his bed, miserable, while I attempted to settle him for the night. He asked me one simple question.
     "Will my ashthma go away?"
     I had to be honest. "No, honey. It doesn't go away. It will always be there, but you won't always be this sick."
     His bottom lip trembled right before he burst into tears.
     Ian is seven. He's beginning to notice the differences between himself and other kids. He wants desperately to be well. He wants to play, have pets, play with other people's pets, run without coughing, have skin that doesn't itch constantly, and he doesn't want to take medicine.
     Life isn't fair. This little guy's been given a double whammy. He has a lot of illness and issues to overcome. I worry about him constantly, I ache for him daily, and I love him fiercely.

Friday, October 16, 2009


     Every now and then my kids seem more likeable to me than at other times. I like hearing their voices, seeing their faces, and I don't mind their noisy friends who drink the sodas and eat all my food. During these times, I also pay close attention to the things they say. The last two days, Ian has been down right hilarious without even trying to be. It started at school yesterday, when he lost a tooth. His teacher put it in an envelope for him to take home. He was so excited to show me, he took it out of the envelope as soon as he got in the car, and promptly dropped it between the seats. Recovery efforts were in vain. Scott, being an inventive dad, made Ian a fake tooth out of paper and told him he could fool the tooth fairy with it. He of course said this loudly, in my prescence. Ian was delighted. Conning the tooth fairy is right up his alley. This morning, as I was making pancakes in the kitchen, I heard his exultant cry from the bedroom. "It worked!"
     Also last night, Scott and Ian sat on the couch together, viewing UFC. The guys came out to fight, wearing some tight, revealing shorts, not unlike a Speedo. Ian took one look and said, "That is very inappropriate."
     I made a double batch of pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies yesterday. Ian had some with his pancakes this morning, and after school, he wolfed down at least eight before I commented.
     "Those are your favorite cookie aren't they?"
     "Yup," he said with crumbly drool on his chin.
     "You're sure eating a lot of them."
     He reached for another, "Well--I want a healthy body with strong bones--Duh."
     I couldn't have said it better myself. I hope all that pumpkin will help to loosen what's been sitting in his colon for three days.
     I got a late start getting ready for the day this morning. Which meant I put my make-up on at 2:00 this afternoon. Here's what happened.
     Ian's aunt, Jeni, has been in town for the past week. Ian informed her that she forgot his birthday and wanted to know when he could open his present. He's called Grandma and Grandpa's house--which is where Jeni stayed--every day. Last night he called again.
     "Gwampa? Can I come over and hang out or somthin'?"
     Right after school today, he called again. "Can I come over there?"
     Ian's grandma answered. "Yes. There is something here for you."
     "My present?"
     "Yes. Jeni left it here for you before she went back home."
     He eyes widened, his mouth fell open, and he almost hung up without saying goodbye. This was at two o'clock. I told him I needed to put on my make-up. He followed me into the bathroom and retrieved my make-up bag for me. He then proceeded to take out all the things I needed. Mascara, powder, eye shadow, lip gloss, etc... After each item he asked me, "You need this?"
     "I do. Thank you for helping."
     He peered at me intently while I made myself presentable. Then he said, "Boys have mohawks and coolness. Girls have make-up and prettiness."
     "Am I pretty?" I asked.
     "Psh." He shrugged.
     Good enough. I'll take it. The poor kid had to wait another twenty minutes so that we could do the junior high carpool. He sat patiently while we made three different stops. After nearly an hour, it was finally time to go to Grandma's.
     "When we get there, I'm going to build my Legos."
     "What if Jeni didn't get you Legos?"
     "She did. I just know it."
     And guess what? She got him Legos.
     Thanks, Jen.

Monday, September 28, 2009


     How do you gain control over an unruly child? Or any child for that matter? I've watched a few episodes of Supernanny. Jo has wonderful insight and great ideas. Not sure they'll work for my mentally challenged child. In desperate times, I've employed techniques from the Dog Whisperer in trying to manage Ian.
     "Ian," I say in my calm assertive tone, "Sit."
     "Come here."
     "Drop it."
     "Please play dead."
     I've even made the "schuutt" noise, while administering a fake bite to the flank. Julie thought I was kidding one day when I asked her if a shock collar might work.
     I think gaining control has more to do with yourself than it does with your child. If you aren't in control, you can't expect your children to be.
     Today--I gained control.
     I woke up this morning knowing I needed to clean the house, because my foster care licensor is coming tomorrow to do a home inspection. They always do one once a year when it's time to relicense. So I cleaned like Jesus was coming for dinner. I swept, mopped, dusted, organized, threw out, picked up, scrubbed, and Julie vacuumed. Thanks, Julie. When the kids got home from school, I put them to work too. They did bathrooms, emptied trash, washed clothing, and anything else I felt inspired to burden them with. Tomorrow I will continue, this time focusing on locking away medicines, cleaning products, hazardous chemicals, and covering the window wells. The house must be child proof and safe to inhabit, if such a thing is possible.
      In my fury of cleanliness, I decided it was time to organize Ian's school work. How sad is that? Not that I did it, but that there was enough that I had to do it! He's in first grade for crying out loud. He has spelling words and a dictation sentence, six sight words, one daily bit of busy work off his calendar, his interactive home journal, and five reading books. Shame, shame, shame. When is a kid supposed to be a kid? Pardon me. I digress.
     With Ian's work all orgainized, I decided to make him a helping hand. One for morning and one for afternoon. When we saw Dr. Rope last week, and I informed him that Ian's problems mostly manifested at home, he told me that was my clue. He said that the regular routine of school was helpful to a child who cannot organize his/her own thoughts. So I decided to organize his day for him. If I can enforce it, we just might make some progress. On his morning hand, he gets dressed, eats breakfast, washes hands and face, brushes teeth and hair, and makes his bed. On the afternoon hand, he has a snack and TV time, then homework, then friend time, then pick up toys, and finally get ready for bed. I decided to include some fun items in the afternoon so that he would know that he wasn't getting jipped. He would get his friend time and his play time. And I, hopefully, will have less chaos, and the neighbors won't need to call and complain about "the roamer."
     I am happy to report that the afternoon routine worked flawlessly today. No problems. Ian did try to sneak out of the house a few times after dinner, like eight or ten. He even took the trailer keys to try and start the car. I've learned, from experience, to keep the car keys with me. But because my house was organized and I was still cleaning, I was right there and aware of his every move. He seemed surprised at my newfound speed. He never made it past the driveway.
     When Tawni came home from school, she obviously noticed how clean the kitchen was, because she cooked for herself and--hold on to your butts--washed the dishes! Wow! It's amazing how a motivated mother can telepathically motivate her children. I love it!
     I guess you can tell I'm feeling pretty good about myself today. My house is clean, children obedient and cooperative, lives organized, nobody called me a poopyhead--what a feeling of empowerment. Now, would someone please show me to my bed? I'm too tired to find it on my own.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

     Yesterday was eventful for me. It was a day I'd been looking forward to for seven months. It was the day Ian and I met with Dr. Allan Rope at the Department of Medical Genetics next to PCMC. Dr. Rope specializes in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
     Before the appointment, I was convinced that I needed and wanted the definite, once-and-for-all, diagnosis of FAS. After the appointment, I was so grateful for a lesser diagnosis. I knew that children with FAS had tons of neurological and behavior problems, what I didn't know, was that a true FAS child will have facial deformities, making them as recognizable as someone with Down Syndrome.
     In diagnosing FAS, there are certain guidelines to follow. A doctor will look at abnormal facial features, growth, and problems with the central nervous system. In Ian's case, the space between his upper lip and nose is slightly flat and he has a thin upper lip. These are signs. His throat is short, which is another sign. His pinky fingers are curved slightly inward, and he has a very hairy back, both of which are signs. However, he didn't meet enough of the abnormal features to qualify for FAS. His head is an average size, his height and weight are on the low end but still within normal limits, his cheekbones and nose are not flat, and his eyes are spaced appropriately.
      As a baby, Ian did have sucking and feeding problems and still struggles, never chewing his food and often choking to the point of vomiting. Ian does suffer from poor impulse control--I think there is no control--poor social cues, hyperactivity, attention deficits, lack of empathy--which he is slowly learning--and cause and effect discipline. He also has speech problems and poor motor skills along with vision impairments.
     And with all that, he still isn't bad enough for the FAS diagnosis. Which I can thank God for.
     Dr. Rope taught me a lot in the two hours I spent with him. He reassured me that while some kids who suffer from fetal alcohol exposure have low intelligence, it was clear Ian wasn't one of them. He is a very bright and clever little boy who "probably knows very well how to manipulate his world." So true. Because of Ian's intelligence, he is capable of learning, capable of being taught right from wrong, and developing a conscience. There's hope! It will just take a long, long, long, long time.
     At the end of our visit, Dr. Rope told me that while he couldn't give me the FAS diagnosis, he did know that Ian definitely suffers from his exposure to addictive substances in utero. Unfortunately there isn't a label for that. The CDC is currently working on it, so that children who don't meet the full criteria will still be recognized and can receive help for their disabilities.  They are working on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. In the meantime, he told me to throw around the term "Fetal Alcohol Effects" when dealing with school personnel and (gulp) correctional officers.
     Children like Ian will never be normal. There is no cure for substance abuse exposure. They will be impulsive, using poor judgment, and will often be in trouble. Teachers, friends, family members, and community members need to be aware of this. These little ones don't misbehave on purpose. They do it because they can't help it. But, like Dr. Rope said, they can be taught. It will take time, patience, and knowledge. But I've always believed that it truly does take a community to raise a child.
     Mine is doing a great job.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Personal Jesus

     All children are curious about life, death, heaven and hell. Ian is no different. Several years ago he began to learn about the Holy Ghost. He learned that this particular Spirit can be found in reverent places. Like church. And like most children, he wanted contact. He took it upon himself to find this elusive being, without telling anyone where he was going. After searching the neighborhood for nearly an hour, my husband and children, along with several neighbors, were feeling a bit frazzled. I can't remember who finally found Ian, but I do remember his explanation for disappearing.
     "Ian, what were you doing at the church?"
     "I was looking for the Holy Ghost."
     He continued his unsupervised quest for another year, causing much worry and stress to his family.
     Along with his knowledge of Godliness, he also developed a knowledge of...things not so holy. He learned that just as sure as there was Jesus, there was also a supreme bad guy, aka Satan. Zackary, in a valiant effort to encourage good behavior from his younger brother, would often ask Ian, "Who's team are you on? Jesus' or Satan's?"
     I am happy to report, that with maturity and a few more primary lessons, Ian is now on Jesus' team. He doesn't want to "get arrested, like Satan" or "live down in the sewer." Not sure where the latter came from. It wasn't from me.
     Lately, Ian's new religious fixation is on the second coming of Christ.
     "When all the people are dead, will Jesus come down?"
     "Is Jesus coming to kill the bad guys?"
     "Will I come back to life like Jesus?"
     It's very difficult to explain the finer points of doctrine to a child. It was easier when he just wanted to find the Holy Ghost.
     Last Friday Scott noticed a burned out lightbulb in the family room. He unscrewed it while Ian's eyes followed every movement. The little guy spoke.
     "Jesus is in the lightbulbs."
     Tawni, Scott, and I intstantly looked at him, eyes wide, hands covering the grins on our faces. Tawni asked, "Is He in all the lightbulbs?"
     Scott, mature enough to sense a teaching moment said, "He's the light, isn't He?"
     I was very proud of my little boy. While incredibly humorous, this was evidence that he listens in church. Speaking of which, last Sunday his new primary teachers found me in the hall.
     "Are you Ian's mom?"
     "I am."
     "I'm Brother Fairbanks, his teacher."
     "I'm so sorry," I replied.
     He chuckled and asked, "Is Ian ADHD?"
     I am very grateful to the brave men and women who volunteer their time, talents, and sanity to teach my child. Thank you! There's a mansion of valium waiting for you in heaven.
     Arround the dinner table last night, I announced to my family that we were going to start having family home evenings every week. And that we would take turns with the lessons. These efforts have been hit or miss in the past and Beka let us know how unacceptable this was.
     "I'm the only one in seminary that doesn't have anything to share about family night. It's embarrassing."
     So, to kick off this tremendous achievement, we all went to Frogurt to celebrate. On the way, we listened to the radio. A Depeche Mode song came on and when it ended the D.J. announced, "Personal Jesus, Depeche Mode."
     From the back of the car, Ian screamed the perfect punctuation to our evening.
     "Yeah, Jesus!"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Story Time

     I'm back from the land of the surgically stoned. I survived, in spite of Zack and his dire predictions. And with my head cleared of pain meds, I can resume blogging. Did ya miss me? Never mind. Don't answer that. Let's get this post under way.
     Books are a huge part of my life. As you may have noticed, I added a spot for good books on my blog. I'm always on the lookout for something that can transport me from the mundane world of motherhood into a delicious realm of fantasy--even if it is urban. I love youth fiction. I find that after a hard day, my brain feels like oatmeal that's sat on the kitchen counter for several hours. I bet it looks similar as well. Adult books usually have deep themes and gigantic words, complicated issues my mushy head cannot absorb. But youth fiction--it's just right. Not too hot, not too cold, the perfect temperature and consistency, easily digested.            
     Picture books are every bit as delicious as youth books and I have the good fortune of feasting on them every evening, at bed time. There is nothing better than a comfy chair, a fun story, and a small warm body nestled against mine. My arm is always draped across his shoulders, pulling him deeper into myself. I hold one side of the book, while he holds the other. We turn the pages together. First, we look at the pictures, because they tell the story without any words. We take turns guessing about the plot, wondering if we can figure it out. Then the magic happens. My voice is not my own. It becomes that of a frog who is making a valentine for his mommy. Then it changes again, and I'm a shark trying not to eat my teacher. The metamorphosis continues, night after night, story after story. Ian is part of the magic.
     I don't know how many of you have ever tried snuggling a child that can't hold still. And when I say can't hold still--I mean it. Ian's brain does not ever allow his body to stop moving. Even in his sleep, he bangs his head against the mattress so hard it shakes the bed. As a tiny newborn, he hated being swaddled. He hated being cuddled or held. Bonding was difficult because his body rebelled. But I could see in his eyes that his soul craved it. I started rocking him at night. The back-and-forth motion soothed him, although he still wiggled and struggled to be free. Then I started singing to  him. The motion combined with my voice is how we bonded. I got to hold my boy, and he got to snuggle with his mommy. Night after night his muscles learned to accept this routine and after a year, he didn't wiggle as much.
     Ian is seven now. We celebrated his birthday last week. Our rocking time morphed into story time. His body is growing--so is mine--we will have to change chairs soon. But with him against my side, I smell his hair and feel it fuzzy against my cheek. I listen to his questions about the story which always lead to questions about life, and I answer him the best I can. We talk, we read, we snuggle, we bond. And Ian holds still... almost.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Eleven. I'm Supposed to be Obnoxious.

     It hasn't taken me long to realize that even though I started this blog as an Ian outlet, I can't write soley about one child when I have three more. They are each unique people with quirky habits and humorous faults. Today you get to hear about Zack simply because he is on my brain, and in my face.
     "Hey, Mom?"
     "I bet I can make you say blue."
     I raised my eyebrows, indicating acceptance of the challenge. Zack's face brightened and he began. "What color is my shirt?"
     "What color is the grass?"
     "What color are my shoes?"
     He was ecstatic. "See! I told you I could make you say black!"
     I rolled my eyes and said, "Uh-uh. You said you could make me say blue."
     "HaHaHaHa!"  He was rolling on the floor in triumph. "You fell for it!"
     Indeedy weedy. I fell for an eleven-year-old's joke.
     Zack's humor knows no bounds. He relishes the sarcastic, the put-down, the repetitive, and the gross-out. After multiple offenses in the space of ten minutes, I told him, "You are being obnoxious. Stop it."
     "But I can't stop."
     "Why not?"
     "Because I'm eleven. It's my job to be obnoxious."
     All too true.
     In addition to Zack's amazing sense of humor, he also owns an uncanny ability to remember fine details, directions, injustices, and dates. Too bad it doesn't include his homework. Two weeks into school and he has been unprepared each day except for one. I finally had to ground him last night.
     "I don't know how else to get through to you. Homework is important. How are you going to handle junior high if you can't make it through elementary?"
     "But my friends distract me and then I forget."
     "Who is in charge of your brain? You or your friends?"
     "The alien in my head."
     Nothing is serious to him. He loves being a kid. He loves playing and talking to himself and teasing his siblings, not to mention his mother.
     This coming Friday I have a simple, out-patient, surgical procedure taking place. Even though it's small potatoes, I still worry. Who wouldn't? Zackary, with his great tact and wisdom asked me, with a gleam in his eye, "What if you never wake up? What if--something goes wrong--and you die?"
     He did not ask this out of concern. I could tell because he was laughing, and as my face took on an expression of horror, his voice rose in volume and pitch.
     "What if--you bleed to death!"
     "What?" he laughed.
     "Enough already!"
     He's done this to me every day since Saturday.
     But when the sun goes down and the humor and chaos clear, I feel soft, warm lips on my cheek, and arms that will someday be strong, encircle my waist.
     "What's that for?" I ask.
     "Because I love you."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spoiled Rotten

     When Ian wakes up in the mornings, I can tell within ten minutes what kind of a day we are going to have. He's either "on" or he's "on one."  Saturday was the latter. My eleven-year-old, Zackary, saved his mowing money and went to the store, bright and early, to buy a remote control helicopter. Upon his arrival at home, the pestering began.
     "Ack? You wet me use it? Pwease?"
     "No, Ian. I bought this with my own money. It's special."
     "No, Ian."
     "You are mean!"
     It was just the beginning. During chore time, while Ian was washing door knobs and Zack was dusting, I heard, "Meanie, Zack! Big fat meanie! Meanie poo-poo!"
     "Ian, you need to talk nice to Zack. No name calling."
     "But he won't share!"
     "He doesn't have to," I explained. "It's his special toy. You have special toys. Zack has special toys. It's okay for him not to share."
     To Ian, who is used to ruling the roost, this was intolerable. He was incapable of wrapping his brain around this kind of restriction. His behavior escalated with his frustration. The verbal taunts turned into outright bullying. Deliberate acts of terrorism and mind control landed the little prince in a time out. Biting his mother did not help his case.
     Scott and I were planning on taking the boat to Jordanelle that afternoon and we were taking the boys with us. I hoped, with the distraction of fishing, Ian would forget about the forbidden helicopter. We got in  the car and buckled up. Unfortunately, we stopped for gas. While Scott filled the boat and car, Ian took his cast to Zack's head. It's like getting hit with a rock. To Zack's credit, he didn't retaliate or even cry, although I'm sure he wanted to. I banished Ian to the back seat by himself. As we entered the highway, I realized I couldn't see Ian's head. He slid so far down in his seat that his seatbelt was around his neck. He didn't care. All he cared about was being able to reach Zack with his feet so that he could kick him. I moved Zack to the front, between me and Scott. By now the whole thing was feeling almost comic to me. I glanced back in time to see Ian slither over the seat and buckle himself right behind Zack... again. The kicking resumed. I put my arm behind Zack to protect him, while Scott decided to jump in with a distraction.
     "Hey, Ian? How 'bout if I sell Zack for you?"
     "Do it now!" shouted the determined demon.
     "I can't do it now. I'm driving. I'll put an add in the paper when I get home."
     Scott continued, "How much can we get for Zack?"
     "Two dollars!"
     "That's it?" cried, Zack.
     I jumped in. "I think we could get two hundred thousand for Zack."
     Zack looked at me in gratitude and smiled. He was enjoying this little game.
     "Sell him, sell him!" cried Ian.
     Zack turned around and looked at his little brother with a wicked grin. "You can sell me. But I'm taking all my stuff with me."
     I'd like to say that the fight ended there. We played musical chairs once again, this time with Ian wedged between me and Scott. That proved to be the best seating arrangement. Why it took so long to figure out I do not know. Mental fatigue I guess. Once at the reservoir, we enjoyed a reprieve of approximately two hours, until rain drove us from the lake. But Ian is like an elephant. He never forgets. We'd just turned onto highway 40, heading towards Heber, when a small voice spoke from the back.
     "Ack? I pway with yours hewicopter?"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Roamer

     In every neighborhood there is a child. A child that is shoeless, unsupervised, and dirty. A child that rides around on a bicycle without a helmet, playing russian roulette with traffic, and making people wonder if they should call child protective services.
     I am the mother of such a child.
     When Ian was two, he became an escape artist, rivaling Houdini. One night, I awoke out of a sound slumber with the dreadful feeling of something being wrong. I immediately checked on my children. Ian was not in his bed. Nor was he in the house. I found him in the backyard, barefoot, ankle deep in snow and perfectly happy. It became necessary to install his doorknob backwards so that I could lock him in his room at night to prevent these occurences. My husband installed latches at the tops of all the doors in an effort to slow down the rate of escape. We did everything we could short of barbed wire and electric fences.
     These efforts are no longer effective. Locks can be picked or broken, windows opened, screens shredded, and tired parents manipulated. What Ian wants, Ian gets. And he wants to be free. He hates boundaries, those invisible fences that prevent him from achieving true joy. He also doesn't understand the reasons behind the fences. His brain doesn't function on the same wavelength of other children his age. I can reason with him and have a good heart to heart, where he nods in agreement but never makes eye contact. And three minutes later, my wise words forgotten, I will see him screaming away on his bike, helmetless, down the middle of the road.
     Yesterday, after school, Ian wanted to play with Aiden. "I can ride my bike?"
     "Honey, you lost your helmet. I can't let you ride your bike. It wouldn't be safe. But how about if I give you a ride?"
     "I'll go get my keys. Just hold on a sec."
     It took about four seconds to get my keys. I walked back into the garage and... No Ian. I ran out to the driveway in time to see him pedaling for all he was worth down the sidewalk. At least he wasn't in the street. I hollered to him, "You are making a bad choice!" He turned his head, so I knew he heard me, and pedaled faster. I jumped in the car and sped after him. He got to Aiden's, dropped his bike and made a dash into the open garage. I pulled into the driveway just as he was trying to let himself in. He wasn't even taking time to knock. He didn't make it. I might be nearing forty and overweight, but I can move fast if I need to. I carried him to the car telling him, in a calm but assertive tone, that I was so sorry he made this bad choice, because now he wasn't going to play at all. For the next hour his screams were heard across the state and all of Utah knew I was a "poopyhead." It was a long afternoon.
     I live in a wonderful neighborhood where Ian is blessed with many guardian angels.
     "Polly, I thought you'd want to know that Ian is riding his bike in the middle of Edenbrook and someone almost hit him."
     "Polly, Ian is on his way to the high school."
     "Polly, I just saw Ian on his bike and he doesn't have any pants on."
     Well, it's his wiener.
     Last week, during a search and rescue, I found my little boy at Heather Weichers house. Rebeka babysits for Heather frequently, but Ian has never been there. The poor woman came out to the car and said, "Oh, I was wondering who he belonged to. You're his mom."
     "He showed up at my door and asked if he could have a snack."
     For all you mom's out there, I do not need to explain my embarrassment.
     At church last Sunday, Wendy Reeder approached me laughing, "I need to tell you something funny."
     "Ian and Brad showed up at my house the other day and Ian said, 'We need to play here. There's construction at my house.'"
     Again, embarrassed. I did explain to Wendy what the construction was. It was Ian and his friends, scattering Scott's tools all over the backyard and wrapping the trees, bushes, and playground in yellow twine.
     I don't willingly let my child be the neighborhood hobo. So if you see him wandering, cruising without a helmet, or begging food, please know that his mother is not aware but will be along shortly to find him, unless of course I've managed to escape.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Humping Biting Pooping Wonder

     Yesterday morning, after hitting the snooze button multiple times, I rolled out of bed, stretched, and shoved my feet into my flip flops. Time for junior high carpool. I ran a brush through my hair and scrubbed my teeth. As I was exiting the bathroom I happened to glance down and realized I wasn't wearing any pants, not even the pajama kind. Well that just will not fly in a car full of teenagers. Later that morning I picked up the cordless phone to make a call and for the life of me, could not figure out how I was supposed to text on this monstrous, foreign-looking object. Duh.
     There was a reason for my dementia. It's called grief.
     I couldn't write about this on the first day of my blog because it was too close to the surface. It's still painful but I'll grit my teeth and muster my courage and give it a shot.
     Black Jack.
     No, not the game, my dog. My wonderful, dorky, pubic-haired Schnoodle. Sunday was his last day with us. About ten o'clock that night he went to his new home. I'd like to say I handled it well, crying just enough to look beautiful in my sorrow, but I'm a terrible liar. The entire hour prior to his departure, I cradled him in my arms while sobbing into his curls. He licked the salty tears and snot off my face, enjoying the treat, not understanding one whit what was about to take place. That made me bawl even harder. By the time his new owner arrived, I was a blubbering, red-faced, swollen, snotty mess. I couldn't pull myself together. It didn't matter that his new owner was my best friend who just lived down the street, all I knew was that my feet were going to freeze at night without my fur blanket to keep them warm.
     Black Jack's leaving was a long time in coming. I knew back in May that he would have to go. On May twelfth--Mother's Day--Ian was hospitalized for a massive asthma attack. Following this trauma, I took Ian to see his asthma/allergy doc.
     "Do you still have the dog?" the doctor asked.
     "Yes," I admitted sheepishly. "But this one is hypoallergenic and Ian seems to be fine..."
     Dr. Gourley was shaking his head. "He's not fine. There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog to an asthmatic."
     I love dogs. I grew up with them. Poodles, Huskies, Collies, mutts and strays. Love them, love them, love them. My first dog after I got married was Tank. He was a Pomeranian who worshipped my husband and pretty much hated everyone else. After his demise Scott surprised me with a beautiful American Bulldog. Tinkerbell. Every so often in life an animal comes along that is different than other animals. There is something special and unique that draws you to this creature. Tinkerbell was such a dog. She had a magnetic soul. She was only with us for two months. Ian's allergies were so bad around her that he would break out in hives all over his body. When she left us I layed in bed for three days, unable and unwilling to function. After my three days of mourning I refused to wear anything but black for the entire week. I am going to admit something now that I am not proud of. It's something I have a lot of guilt about.
     I resented and blamed Ian for my loss. He was the reason for my sorrow. If it weren't for him, my precious dog could have stayed. How shallow is that? When I realized that Black Jack would have to go, I told myself it would be different this time. Ian didn't ask for asthma or allergies. It's not his fault. He loves dogs every bit as much as I do. What it is is one of life's injustices. It just happened. The night Black Jack left I knew it was time to stop looking at my losses and start counting my blessings instead. I have many blessings. The best ones are my children. Tawni, Rebeka, Zackary, and  Ian. No pet is better than them. So with eyes that tear up occasionally--but remain clear--I am choosing to look for the good, and I'm finding it. Although my feet are cold.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ian's Words

     I don't know if anyone out there watched the sunset tonight, but I did. A sky painted in shades of gold and pink surrounding a perfect, coral-colored orb. It was, in Ian's words, glorious. I stood on my front porch with my two daughters and my youngest boy. He is six and he'd been pestering for several minutes, trying to get us to come outside and see the sun. I left my spaghetti on the stove and followed him out the front door. What a treat it was to watch his little round face, to see the peace in his eyes, to know that for one brief moment he was in tune with something greater than himself. Ian began to speak.
     "When Jesus came and angels were all around they prayed for me." He said this while holding up his left arm, which is encased in a cast.
     "They prayed for you? For your arm?" I asked.
     He seemed so certain. Not a doubt in his mind. At that moment he knew how important he was in the grand scheme of life. He knew he mattered to God and His angels. I treasure these moments. I don't know how often they occur for most people, in our home, with Ian, they seem rare. Or perhaps I'm just not seeing them.
     About thirty-minutes prior to the glorious sunset, my sister-in-law came over with her husband. One of the first things out of her mouth was, "Where's Ian?"
     Mindi and Bryon love Ian. They think he is adorable and downright hilarious. Most days I'm too mentally exhausted from dealing with him to see any of that. So are my other children. Bryon pointed out that he and Mindi don't live with Ian, therefore he's easier for them to enjoy, "It's like having grandchildren," he said. "You love and spoil them and when you're pooped you can give them back."
     I am so thankful for people like Mindi and Bryon. They help me see the positive. Bryon and I were talking about all the funny things Ian says and Bryon told me that I should write them down. Kids say funny things all the time. Because they're kids. They are honest, tactless, and curious. They all want to know in loud voices, "Why is her butt so big?" "What's wrong with his face?" "She smells funny!"
     Ian has a wonderful sense of humor. He was born with it. He is always smiling and laughing about something. And Bryon is right. He says funny things everyday. Two weeks ago we were fishing at Tibble Fork Reservoir. Ian was driving all of us nuts. He kept knocking the poles down and dragging the already caught trout back and forth along the beach. "They are my pets. I'm taking them for a walk."
     "Hey, Ian, how 'bout if we go for a walk?" asked Bryon. He then took his two daughters and Ian on a hike around the lake. Which gave the rest of us a much needed breather. They were gone for over an hour and I kept wondering how much Ian was complaining and feared Bryon would need to carry him the whole way. I was so wrong. When we saw them coming down the path, they were smiling and laughing. Bryon then related an awesome story.
     "We were walking along and all of a sudden Ian held out both arms and said, 'Everybody stop!', so we stopped."
     "There's somethin' in my mouth." Ian held out his hand and spit into it. "It's a tooth!"
     Bryon took an ordinary experience for most people--I mean, all kids lose teeth--and somehow it became the funniest story ever. We are still laughing at it several weeks later.
     After tonight, listening to Mindi and Bryon sing praises to Ian, hearing him increase his vocabulary with words like glorious, listening to him hum the Halelujah chorus while building blocks--"Awleluwa"--I remembered what an amazing son I have. He didn't come to us in the usual way. Ian is adopted. We did foster care in our home for four years and when he came to us at one-month old, shaking with tremors, not able to suck on a bottle, and with poor growth, we knew it wouldn't be easy. Drug withdrawls in an infant never are. We hoped it would be worth it. It is. Tonight I remembered something I'd forgotten. Ian is a gift. My fourth one. Even his name means a gift from God. I'm hoping that this daily journal will help me keep my spirits up. I hope it will help me find the positive, the humorous, and the lovable that is Ian.