Friday, December 4, 2009

Lots of News

The Ewing Family

Here is all that is new:

Our adoption became final on November 11th! What fantastic news! That was something that Luke was anxiously awaiting in spite of our telling him continuously that he has been final to us from the day we decided to go meet him. Still, he worries. Just two days ago when we were talking about staying approved (for adoption so we can adopt more without going through the original hassle) he asked, "But I thought I was already final?" with a worried look on his face. I look forward to the time when he no longer wonders if he is really going to be ours forever, but believes he is a Ewing.

We did not find out about our adoption being final until November 16th because of a nor'easter/hurricane (Ida) that made its way up the coast. I had never seen so much water in all my life. The roads going out of our neighborhood were both flooded. One completely impassable, the other, passable only with a tall, heavy vehicle and then the water was up to the hood. It was all very exciting until we had to find a way to the emergency room. Tim had been working on the car on Thursday and had unknowingly pulled a muscle deep in his chest. By Friday, he thought something was desperately wrong. We took him to urgent care and they found nothing wrong, but said if it got worse to go to ER. Well, as the evening went on, it felt worse. So, off to the ER we went, into the storm. What an adventure it was. Every road in our route was flooded. We were rerouted several times. In the end they kept Tim overnight for observation and more testing in the morning and I went home alone. I parked four miles from home so that Nathaniel could come to get me in the Suburban. The flooded roads were deeper when I returned then they had been when we left. I had barely managed to get through the deep lake across the road on the way out. I knew I did not want to chance it alone at eleven o'clock at night in the Honda. Nathaniel had a BALL driving through the deep water. So much so that when we got home, he grabbed David and took the same route again so that David could experience it too. The end of this tale of course, is that Tim was fine. He has a strong, healthy heart and in a few days, the pulled muscle healed and he is back to normal.
Thank you Lord!

The next event in our lives was the visit of Tim's parents. What a wonderful visit it ended up being. My mom-in-law helped me to begin a watercolor quilt that I have been wanting to create for our big, empty, living room wall. This is my first quilt project, and I am anxious to see how I like the whole process. The designing is so much more fun than I had anticipated! I am looking forward to the rest of the steps with eagerness. I am a little concerned about my tendency to be a great project-starter and just as good at becoming a project-neglecter.

Also during the visit of my in-laws was the visit of son. Timothy came for only three very short days over Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful time of bonding, loving, laughing, and catching up. We enjoyed getting to see Timothy's growing talent as a guitarist as he strummed away at his old 3/4 size guitar (now Whitney's). I was also reminded of the creative side of this dear son as I watched him fiddle with the letters on the fridge and draw on the chalk table cloth. It was so wonderful to have our son home!

Toward the end of our visit with my in-laws, I pulled out a 1000 piece puzzle to work on. I was so surprised and pleased to see Luke diligently work away at it even though it was way beyond his ability. He would methodically find pieces to work on and try them and even placed a few. He did not get bored with it, nor seem frustrated. I decided to go to the thrift store and get a few 100-200 piece puzzles and see how he would do. He loves them! I have been trying to find something that Luke enjoys doing, that he will do even if nobody else cares or notices he's doing it; well, I think we finally found it! Puzzling! As I work on my quilt, he puzzles. He will puzzle for hours! Not only that, but he will make up things in his head, talk to himself with play voices and pretend. My goal has been to see him so wrapped up in his play that he will make the play/pretend noises that children make when they play. That is exactly what he is doing. I am so pleased to see him loosen up and be free in "puzzle world".

David got his braces off this week! He has new shiny teeth. We finally, after several years, have no children with braces on! Woo hoo!!! David will need a little follow-up mouth work, as his gums swelled a bit during the long time he wore braces and I am told this has to be removed. It doesn't just go away. But, he is happy. No more braces.

Now today, Tim is off in PA at a work related conference. Whitney is off walking the dog we are babysitting for one of Tim's coworkers during the conference. Nathaniel is off to work for his friend after doing his workout at the Y in Newport News. It is time to wake David and Luke so that a new school day can begin.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Heart Wrenching Discussion

I thought I would share a heart-breaking and eye-opening conversation with you all. It went like this:
Last night, at the very end of story time with Dad, I said to Luke, as he was staring blankly and unwaveringly at me, "Even though you love me, it's still not nice to stare." Tim wrapped up his reading to Luke, and Luke climbed up into his bed, his eyes getting redder and wetter as he climbed. I asked him what was wrong, thinking he was sad that story time was so short. He blurted out, his tears erupting, "I feel like I don't love you!" I was confused. I asked, "Are you saying you are so mad at me that you feel like you don't love me, or are you saying you think I don't love you?" He answered that he thought I said that he didn't love me, and burst into fresh tears. I explained more clearly what I had said. Then, I asked, "Why are you so afraid that I might not know you love me?" He answered, crying as he did, "Because if you think I don't love you, then you might not keep me and give me up for adoption!" I hugged him as he cried and assured him that when we said he was our "forever son", that meant forever. I was explaining what forever means when he said, "For some reason, I just have trouble believing you," and burst into fresh tears. I hugged him. Tim hugged him. We both let him know that we understand why he is afraid and has trouble believing that we mean forever.

It has not entered my mind since the beginning weeks that Luke is not used to being permanent. His life has been in upheaval since he was born. We all know that he is our son forever, but over time, we have forgotten that that fact is not a reality yet for him. I suddenly have clarity on so many things. No wonder he still robotically obeys every command without reason or emotion. He is trying so hard to order his world in such a way that it does not cause him upheaval again. When we give him an order, he obeys mechanically. We appreciate the obedience, but always feel like something is just not quite right about it. Now, I've had a paradigm shift. Sunday, I was wondering in frustration if things will ever feel 'normal'. Now, I see more clearly, that 'normal' will come as he feels more secure and one year is not enough to feel secure after 6 years of not having security. He is so smart that he picks up the rules of proper attachment pretty fast, but the heart (habit) of attachment will take more time.

One of the most helpful things we have been taught in our Circle of Security attachment therapy has been learning that young children that are neglected in the early years haven't had parents who pick them up and tell them how they feel: "Oh, you're hungry, that's what's wrong." "Oh, you're sick, no wonder you are unhappy." "Oh, Did you miss Mommy? That's why your crying." We verbally tell our babies what they feel, with more detail as they grow older. When a baby is neglected, he doesn't learn to put names to his emotions (sad, jealous, angry, scared) and feelings (cold, hot, hungry, full), nor how to deal with them. He was left to answer his own needs from early on. In a loving, caring home, he would have learned that his parents will take care of his needs. In a neglectful home, he learns to deal with unanswered needs in ways that alleviate the pain of that unanswered need. He learns how to control things in whatever way he can. It is one of our tasks to help Luke learn that his parents are responsible for answering his comfort needs and he has to allow us to do our job and not move into his habitual behaviors that he learned as an infant.

Adopting an older child is a real adventure. We are learning so much.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's Been a Very Long Time

I have neglected my blog for far too long. It is long past time for an update.

The biggest event of the summer was Nathaniel's graduation from high school. We shared the big event with four other graduates at the home of one of them. It was an enormously fun time of celebration with our church family and a few other guests. The night included the ceremony, barbeque, ultimate Frisbee, dancing and loads of fun!

Tim took Luke to Colorado this past month for 5 days of Luke meeting and visiting his paternal grandparents and his Uncle Andrew, Aunt Nicole and cousins Shea (Luke's age) and Sophie, along with Uncle Tom, Aunt Susanne, and their kids. They had a wonderful time exploring, playing, Kayaking and getting to know each other.

While Luke and Tim were in Estes Park, Nathaniel visited a friend in Colorado Springs. We had a very quite house here at home with only David, Whitney and me. It was very restful and we did a lot of rejuvenating in their absence. Whitney and I worked for hours on our crochet projects. She is making a bear for a friend's baby and I am making a baby afghan. This is Whitney's very first crochet project and she has done wonderfully.

Nathaniel and Tim are taking a landscaping management class at the local community college to hopefully grow the lawn business that Nathaniel started. We add, on average, a customer per week right now. I even enjoy getting out to help drive the mower every once in a while. It is a zero turn mower and very fun to drive! Nathaniel continues to make sure he gets plenty of social interaction. Here are photos of him and Whitney at Busch Gardens with friends.

Whitney spends her hours helping me in the house, baking delicious treats and planning and cooking our meals. I, especially am loving her domestic skills. She also spends hour upon hour honing her piano, guitar and singing skills. Wow! The music in our home is beautiful!
David continues to try to befuddle our minds with physics talk and words we often don't understand. He really enjoys things like physics, chemistry, mazes, codes and Rubik's cubes. Right now he is studying what makes up languages with the goal of creating a new alphabet and language, just for fun. He also loves to keep Nathaniel and Luke busy with wrestling. The last match in the living room was too close to the hearth. This is the sewing job done on David's head.

Luke is still spending time looking for and playing with his many bug finds. He recently caught a big, (in Mom's estimation, ugly) bug and brought it in his bug holder. After show it off, he said, "I love this bug =). I just want to hold it." How sweet and snugly.

This summer we have had many animal adventures. We raised a praying mantis from infant to 4 inches long. Wow! He was educational! Every time he shed his skin, he doubled in size. He learned things very fast too. In the end, we kept him overnight on a plant in the sun room and he became very angry when we tried to return him to his small enclosure, so we decided it was time to set him free.
We caught a 4 foot long Black Racer Snake in the neighbors tree and allowed it to crawl around in the sun room for awhile. I found out the non-poisonous snakes don't have fangs at all, so it really doesn't hurt much when they bite. We had a box turtle lay at least one egg in our turtle garden in the back yard. We have two newborn water turtles growing in an aquarium, in the sun room. We rescued and are keeping in the turtle garden some type of deformed, half-eaten water turtle that had healed by the time we found it, but resembles some type of dwarf. We call her Zombie. Most recently, yesterday I had to cut off the end of one of our goat's horns to keep her from strangling herself in the fence. It is always interesting living rurally. Not exactly country, but not city either.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chicks, Children, College, Choas and Life

It is very hard to recap when I have not blogged in so long. I think I will try the scatter approach. I will just throw things out and you catch what you will.

Our latest adventure was having to do a full day of attachment evaluations up in Charlottesville. We were feeling very reluctant to do this evaluation, in part because our son, Luke, has had so many evaluations that he felt he could tell us the whole process before we even went. Another good reason is that we have felt that things are going so well, there was no need. Most importantly though, attachments take time, and five months is a fairly short time when you are a six year old who has been through so much. SS eventually threatened us to the point where we felt we had no choice but to do this now. In hindsight, we are very glad that we have done it. Not so much because of what the therapist can help us with now that he has this information, but because the evaluators were so pleased with Luke's progress in healing and attaching that the report to SS should relieve a lot of their concern and a lot of pressure on us.

To summerize the chaos of the week for you: We had me sick with a bad cold, maybe even the flu Thursay during a morning visit from our SS person, a visit with Luke's SS person to which I had to drive 45 minutes in the afternoon, a visit with a new therapist on Friday morning, which Tim came home for though I did manage to drag myself out of bed for it. A busy and sick weekend for most of us, followed by a late-evening, three-hour drive to a hotel where Tim and I crammed into a double bed for a fittful night before a gruelling day of having our every move video-taped and evaluated. Hmm... I wonder why Luke seemed so emotionally unstable yesterday. Do you think things will mello with Tim and Whitney having left for a father daughter get-away and a five day absense? I bet not.

I have been very encouraged by the way that Luke is handling the stress though. Instead of shutting me off and pulling away, as he has in the past after SS visits, he has been whiny and teary and sad. He tried to be naughty and get himself in trouble, but since I have been keeping him right by my side, I was able to avert disaster.

I mentioned that Tim and Whitney have left for a few days. They left at about 5:30 this morning and will drive to GA for a lovely visit with friends and a father/daughter retreat put on by Vision Forum. Whitney was definately looking forward to this trip with her dad. I pray their time together is truly blessed and they come home with bags full of memories they made together.

Luke was so excited to have baby chicks arrive in the mail on the same day that we began incubating 15 eggs that we recieved in the mail the previous day. He enjoyed the chicks so much that I ended up leaving them in the house much longer than I had intended. Our eggs will hopefully hatch around the first of April, if I haven't managed to mess them up with uneven temperatures and a turner that is inconsistant. I have never had such challenges with incubating eggs and I have never paid so much for a dozen eggs either. These dozen Buff Orpington hatching eggs cost about $30. Yikes!!!

Nathaniel was excited to start classes at the local community college a week ago. Since it is the end of the spring semester, he was only able to get into two classes, but we thought that was a good start. As soon as he started classes though, his work he does with a friend in Williamsburg took off, as has his own business. He seems to get fairly steady, though not often enough, calls for his lawn business. He is working to upgrade his equipment and is hoping to get a vehicle to help him with his work. He hires David to work for him as often as it is convenient. David likes the income and it is good for him to learn how to work hard for a full day.

Whitney has slowed down recently on her studies as she has been doing so much ministry to other families and her own that she has had little time to devote to study. She recently spent two days with five children under six, while their mother worked to set up a consignment business. Besides helping with children, she has been volunteering her time up in Williamsburg cataloging, organizing, and barcoding books for a lady that has a huge library of books that are out of print and/or purged from libraries due to their Christian worldviews.

David continues to be frustrated over his desire to do computer programming and his lack of a computer that works properly. He has been fighting for months now to get a computer that was given to him to function properly in spite of being reformatted, or perhaps, because of it. He is just beginning a new adventure into Physics and is enjoying it very much at this point, though he gets a little hung up on the math occasionally. I hope he will become a great engineer one day. I think he would really enjoy that field of work. He is such a thinker.

I think this has gotten long enough. That about sums up all that has been happening around here of late anyway. I wish I could sit down to a long chat and time of catch-up on all of you. Thanks for listening. Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Phonics Lessons

We "prolly" should "git" the smudge that's "oin" the "mirra".
It is a very interesting if not entertaining pursuit for a westerner to teach phonics to a southern child. (Forgive me all my southern friends.) I often cannot tell if Luke is reading a word wrong or just pronouncing it in a way that makes it difficult for me to understand. His short 'e' sounds all sound like short 'i". Most of his short 'i' sounds come out like a combination of short and long 'a'. What fun! I especially get a kick out of how he thinks saying 'on' as it sounds, without the short 'i' sound feels really odd in his mouth.
I am so blessed to tell you all (ya'll) however, that Luke is reading like a champ. Teaching him phonics was a huge obstacle for us to overcome in the beginning. I was going to give up for this year and pick it up again in the fall, until I got some good input from my friends at church. They told me that I was experiencing things that some of their children had done also. They call it 'laziness' and don't allow it. That changed everything for us. He is soaring through Hooked On Phonics. I have never enjoyed homeschooling so much. What a breeze when I don't have four very young children to teach at once, two of whom were previously in government schools.
I must get off now to fix dinner, but wanted to share the adventures of teaching Luke.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Catching Up

Isn't this a great picture of Whitney!?! She looks like a perfect fit for the glasses and the mics. She and Nathaniel got new laptops for Christmas so that they could do their studies for college work. Actually, they got them right after Christmas when the second of the last two old laptops finally gave up the ghost. This program for making funny photos came with their webcams that are on the laptops. Maybe I can put a photo that Nathaniel made on here later.
This is one taken on Whitney's computer again, but with Luke and Nathaniel and I in it. We were having some fun.
This is another fun photo. We had a couple of families over on Sunday for lunch in celebration of
Nathaniel's birthday. He got the new jacket and the scarf as gifts. The kids decided to take his skeleton that he keeps in his room and dress it up. It is even using Nathaniel's ipod. The little ones took the bottle of Mt Dew that was in the left arm.

Nathaniel is very excited that the day after his birthday, he received a clean (no metal) new smile! Doesn't he look great!?!

This is a short video of us all on Christmas morning. It was a very exciting and fairly chaotic time.
We all thoroughly enjoyed it! It was fun to see Luke's enthusiasm for each present he opened. I don't think anyone was disappointed with the joyous day. Each year, we think things will be too tight to have many gifts under the tree, and each year, the tree is loaded to overflowing. Note all the presents in the background.
We all wish you all a very Happy New Year! We look forward to seeing what new adventures the Lord has in store for all of us.