Bread and Butter, Meat and Potatoes

Inside my little bubble.

I live in this little bubble in our community.  We live in a city of nearly 300,000 people.  Not too small.  Diverse for its size.  A place where my kids are never really looked at twice when it comes to skin color.  Yeah, we get questions.  But, generally they’re people telling us that their cousin/aunt/niece/mother’s cousin’s friend adopted too.  Sometimes we get questions that are more personal, like questions about how we could possibly “afford” to have so many kids, especially when people see us both at home during the day.

A lot of times FPD and I hang out together during the day.  That’s right, he’s home during the day!  I know!  Scandalous!  Sometimes, he even stays home…with our kids… while I go to work.  That’s right, me, the woman, goes to work!  WHAT?!?  FPD and I split shift parent in a very odd way.  He works nights and I run my businesses from home during the day and go to work at our local hospital in the evening.  Sometimes, if I have a meeting during the day for the child care centers I run, he will be the one to volunteer in the Kindergarten classroom.  Or, he might be the one to go on the field trip to the pumpkin patch.  Sometimes, *gasp* we BOTH go.  I know.  I know.

People often assume that because we have so many kids that FPD must be a business mogul who earns this huge salary.  FPD does great, thank you very much.  But, so do I, thank you very much.  We’re very blessed to have the careers that we do.  And, most of all, we make solid financial decisions.  Our kids know we’re not rich (well, ShyGuy would have told you differently up until we hammered him with lessons on gratitude.  He’s better now, thank goodness).  They also know that we have enough that we will always be okay.

I never thought too much of our arrangement until the last couple of weeks.  When one exits their little bubble they tend to remember that, to others, their situation may not seem so normal.  My husband is, by no means, a “stay at home” dad.  People think he is, and lately, he has been criticized for it.  FPD just works odd hours.  And, you live in 1952 if you think your wife can’t (or shouldn’t) work if she wants to.  If it’s a choice a family makes to have a stay at home mom, do you get flack for it?  Probably not.  If you do, that’s wrong too.  It’s a life choice.  You shouldn’t get flack for life choices and doing what you believe is best for your family, even if that does mean you have a stay at home dad.  It shouldn’t be different for us.  It’s not that FPD can’t provide for us.  I have just chosen to contribute so that he can be home more.  While I may complain about going to work some days, I like my job.  I like contributing to the finances and health insurance.  It’s a personal choice.

FPD and I started our parenting adventure with one small African-American son.  His birth mom was clear that she had chosen us, largely, because FPD was going to be so involved.  She was making an adoption plan because she didn’t have a partner, and she felt she couldn’t do it all alone.  He promised her he would be very involved.  He doesn’t take this lightly.  Then, we added another son.  She chose us because FPD was so involved.  Do you see the theme?  These women wanted a strong male influence for their boys.  Then, we had a third son.  FPD chose to exit his corporate job because it just wasn’t worth it anymore.  I wanted to go back to work, just a little, and his job didn’t allow for that.  He wanted to stay home a little more, and his job didn’t allow for that either.  We prayed.  The current arrangement is what we came up with.  We feel very lucky to  be able to make it work.  Our boys, and now our girls, are all the better for it.

When Giggles came, she thought that FPD did “woman’s work” because he cooks.  She learned quickly what a partnership means.  I could do all the work at home, and go to work outside the home, but I would be exhausted.  It would make me a really lousy mom.  FPD makes me a better mom by being a partner in every sense of the word.  I hope this helps our girls understand what to expect in a relationship when they choose a guy, and I know this has helped my boys understand what it means to be a dad.    This is what is most important to me.

who feels very lucky to have such a great guy.

AJ, Ally, Bread and Butter, Dessert, FPD, Juliana

Date Night.

FPD haven’t been on a “date” in as long as I can remember.  Yesterday was an especially hard day.  While finding Comfort again was a silver lining, the rest of the day was a really dark cloud.  My kids are doing GREAT.  We’ve made great strides with Giggles and ShyGuy.  I think they’re really starting to feel part of an intact family (I’ve GOT to give it up for their birthmom, who built a VERY strong foundation).  The kids that came before have totally embraced them as siblings.  We’re becoming a family.  It amazes me.

Bubbly is making progress, and we have a diagnosis now.  She officially has PTSD and Hyposensitive Vestibular Processing Disorder.  It’s apparently a form of Sensory Integration Disorder, probably from being starved of any sort of sensory input while she was being abused (usually by locking her in dark rooms for long periods) in Ghana, and then flooded with new sensory input when she got here.  So, I guess she CRAVES sensory input.  Bubbly can’t walk without grabbing your hand so she can hop on one foot.  She can sit and do a task or watch a TV program, but unless things are structured (or she’s constantly receiving input) she can’t just entertain herself.  And, sleep is incredibly difficult.   She now sleeps with a special weighted blanket.  Some of it she’ll grow out of, some of it we’ll learn to teach her to deal with, some of it will just always be her.  I don’t love “diagnoses”, but it will help her get help in our community, so we’ll go with it.  And, they didn’t diagnose her with Autism of ADHD which I know she doesn’t have.  But, it still stinks.  It added to an already crappy day.

Then, there’s Ghana.  The phone calls keep coming.  The creepy ones have stopped, thank goodness.  But, the concerned ones continue.  Rightfully so, the situation is difficult.  But, a lot of great people are helping. And, I hope to have some very good news very soon.  I see light.  Maybe it will disappear again, but I continue to hope.  It is just SO time consuming.  Hopefully, it will all be worth it.

Work.  I mean the job that pays me.  It has been put on the back burner for far too long.  It needs attention, in a major way.  FPD is helping me make more time to get back on track.  But, he decided we needed a night just for us.  So, he arranged for a babysitter and took me out for one of these.

I haven’t had a drink since last year, before I went to Ghana for the first time.  Man, it tasted good.  It will probably be another year before I find time for another one.  
Then we ate some of this.  I love salsa!!!  Then, he had them bring out this…
Tres Leches Cake.  MMMMMM…
who hearts her husband.  
AJ, Ally, Bread and Butter

The Stigma Stings.

Before I took on a leadership role for the general peds clinic where I currently work, I was a Pediatric HIV Case Manager.  This means I helped my little (and not so little, I managed college students as well) clients and their parents manage their medications, labs and all the resources available to them in the community.  I drew kid’s labs, I made home visits where I occasionally gave injections, and I did it without giving it a second thought.  I followed universal precautions and knew that because I did, I would have no issues.  I know that I’ve come into contact with children in Ghana who are HIV positive.  I never gave a thought to squeezing them when they were hurt, bandaging them and, basically, treating them ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENTLY than I would treat any other child.  This leads me to my current frustration.  I didn’t blog about it when it happened, but I’m still bothered by it.

When Giggles and ShyGuy were in Ghana, we didn’t have them HIV tested.  It wouldn’t have changed my decision and no medical care was available to them at the time, so why bother?  Obviously, we did it as soon as we arrived home just to make sure they didn’t need further medical care.  We didn’t get the results before the great stitches debacle though.  As Giggles was bleeding all over my hands I didn’t think twice about it.  No biggie, I didn’t have any open wounds, I was protecting my hands as much as possible by using gloves and gauze, so it shouldn’t be a problem.  We went into the ped’s office right away.  He evaluated her, without really touching her because she was SO freaked out.  He asked FPD to try to soak the dried blood off of her ear so that he could see better.  FPD did this, carefully placing the used gauze on the exam table on top of a disposable waterproof pad.  The nurse came in and threw it into the wastebasket.   The Pediatrician came in and looked at her ear again.  This time he gently touched it (with no gloves).  As he’s examining it (by now it has stopped bleeding), he casually mentions that she will need a Tetanus vaccine because we have no vaccination records for our Giggles.  I, in turn, casually reminded him that we haven’t received HIV or other lab results yet.  I wondered if it was safe to give this vaccine to a child who MAY have a compromised immune system.  Our friendly, supposedly educated, pediatrician immediately lets go of Giggles ear and practically RUNS to wash his hands.  He continues to discuss her ear, the vaccine and what we should do for the wound, all the while he is removing all the bloody gauze from the regular trash can and putting it into the biohazard bin…where it should have been in the first place!!!!  He acted short tempered and irritable, as if we were so irresponsible for not notifying him of the fact that our child MIGHT have HIV.

The very purpose of universal precautions is that they are, well, UNIVERSAL.  Even if we knew my daughter were HIV positive, we wouldn’t have to inform her school, her babysitter, her coach or anyone else.  Everyone is taught about universal precautions.  Everyone is told to wear gloves when dealing with any kind of bodily fluid.  Some parents feel an ethical obligation to tell the people in their children’s lives that might come into contact with their bodily fluids.  That’s cool.  I always counseled parents that this was their choice, not their obligation.  If people do what they are trained to, it’s a non-issue.  You don’t HAVE to disclose to anyone.  This is matter of privacy for these children as well.  Some parents are very open about their child’s status, some are not.  It’s all a matter of comfort.  Lack of knowledge and the stigma are what keeps people afraid of this disease when it really is NO.BIG.DEAL.

who found out today that her Duo happen to be negative, which makes her happy.  But, if it had gone the other way, it wouldn’t have changed a thing, they would have still been destined to be ours.

Bread and Butter

You like us! You really like us!

Yesterday was an exciting day.  My business made the front page of our state paper.  For good things, not for bad.  I’m SO proud of my awesome teachers.  They do all the hard work, I have the easy job of paying the bills and praising them for all they do.  It made my day to see them get the recognition they deserve.

And…our SW came to update our HS.  She’s new because we fired the old SW, yet again.  She didn’t love how big our family was getting.  While she didn’t say it, we could just feel it.  So, we just decided to start all over with someone new.  Finding someone new caused me all this undue stress.  Will she like us?  Will she think we’re NUTS to want all these kids?  Will she think we’re SO nuts that she’ll just deny us?  Turned out to be a lot of worry over nothing.  She’s kind, sweet and really likes our kids, all of them.  She said unless our background checks came up that we were axe murderers, we’re in the clear.  HS update will be in our hands one month from today.

So…time to send in that I600A.  Yay!  Forward motion.  Remember how much I LOVE forward motion!?!  I feel like the luckiest mom on the planet today.  The only thing that could make me feel luckier is an adoption decree.  Well, I would take a passport for our GhanaGuy as well.  Either one.  So, that’s what I’ll pray for today along with sending a very gratitude filled praise up for all He does to bless me.

who now knows what ‘over the moon’ feels like.

Bread and Butter

Finding the balance.

Today was tough. FPD was at home with the kids while I headed off to work. Not to my job at the clinic, but to work in my early childhood learning centers. Because, there is no adoption leave from a business you own. We’re opening a new one (this is center number four, a preschool this time), and it’s crunch time. The licensor met myself and the Director there at 8am. When you have five kids, 8 am is the time when you’re usually getting the elder set off to school and handing out many a breakfast to the little crew. Usually, I’m not dressed, showered or have even brushed my teeth. So, to be up and ready at 6am to make an appointment by 8am. Well, it’s tough stuff.

Licensing went well, but the process is long. The Director is awesome, she is truly an answer to my prayers, but the process is long and hard. And, it should be, people are leaving their children in my care. I want the center to be the best. To be the best is hard though. We open on Monday. I drove home with a dull headache, knowing that I will be driving between home and the centers all weekend to make them all shine before new kids roll in to start their new “school” on Monday. 46 children ages six weeks- five years become my responsibility. Pressure.

Then, I get home and no one is dressed. FPD does his best, and he meets everyone’s needs. But, the routine is thrown off simply because he doesn’t know it. Bubbles’ hair looks like Don King’s do. The Diva WILL NOT nap until 6:30 pm, meaning she’ll be up until midnight. Gigantobaby is having fits because he hasn’t gotten his much needed outdoor time (it’s rained ALL day here) to run off that excess 3-year-old energy. And, the elder two are bored. Honestly, it was easier to deal with the 46 that aren’t mine. Because, the five that are keep kicking my can.

I KNOW other people do this, and do it successfully. But, on days like this I want to know…HOW?