Thursday, January 31, 2013

Emmie Elizabeth

Emmie Elizabeth,
our newest Miracle came to us on December 3, 2012.
(the night before)
I went into labor at 4 am, and labored all morning into the afternoon. 
We got the older kids off to school in the morning, Brad called in to work and we got ready to have another baby!!
While I labored, we walked the neighborhood to move things along.

(How about that amazing outfit I'm wearing?!  It was cold outside so I put on some pants under my dress. 
 Awesome isn't it?)



Brad's amazing sister (Melissa) came to be with us and to meet the baby.  Luckily, she came before she was born so she got to be at the birth.


On the way back from our walk the contractions became more intense, but still very bearable.
Brad's such an awesome support!
I love that man! 

When we got back inside, I mentioned that I wanted to sit on my big exercise ball, but we couldn't find it.  Makenzie heard me say this and she told me that I could use her ball.  
(a small $1 inflatable ball that is about 1 foot in diameter)
She was so cute about it, I said okay.
She then proceeded to search the entire house over several times in an attempt to find her ball so that I could use it.  She was SO disappointed that she couldn't find it and even began to cry.
It was so precious to see her try to help me in her cute way!!!!
My mom, having her heart pricked with compassion for this sweet 3 year old on a mission to help her mom, told her that she'd take her to the store to buy me a ball.
Makenzie immediately perked up, grabbed her shoes and headed out the door with her grandma (and Aunt Melissa and Brielle).
They came back with 3 balls.
A big one for me,
and 2 small ones for Makenzie and Brielle.
(p.s.  that is a 'baby' inside of Makenzie's shirt.  Her baby was going to come out at the same time my baby was.)

After a while, I got into the tub.  I never did feel like my contractions got very intense.  I was talking and laughing the entire labor.  After 3 o'clock in the afternoon, my contractions still felt mediocre in intensity.  Remembering my last two labors and the fatigue I felt as well as the intensity of the contractions, I considered that I still had quite a bit of time left to labor.  My midwife checked me and told me that I was at 8 cm and the head was low.  I couldn't believe it!  I still felt too good.

At one point during the end contractions, Makenzie wanted to get in the tub with me.  I figured that since I still felt good she could.  While she was in there, she sweetly rubbed by back to 'help' me though the contractions.
Funny side story...  Ever since watching the movie Land Before Time, Makenzie has become Little Foot.  She insists that everyone call her little foot and corrects EVERYONE who calls her anything else.  She crawls around the house, stores, parks, and any other place we go.  She picks things up with her mouth, licks people and things to 'kiss' them and even makes the noises Little Foot from the movie made.  While she was in the water with me and was rubbing my back, I heard my midwife say, "Oh honey, don't lick you mother."  It was so hilarious, especially when I explained that she was a dinosaur and was just being affectionate.  Hahaha.

After a while, Makenzie went downstairs.  A few minutes later, I gave birth to little Emmie!
It was love at first sight!!!
(I attribute my easier labor with being well rested and the fact that Emmie was born in her bag.  My water never broke so each contraction was cushioned.  Her head was also perfectly shaped.)

Just seconds after Emmie was born, Makenzie came running into the room with the biggest smile on her face.  She stripped down to her underwear and jumped into the tub to meet her little sister.


She is such an angel!!!  She has brought so much joy and peace to our family.



Grandma meeting her newest grand-baby!

Aunt Melissa

Then all the kids got to meet their little sister!!!



She is well loved!

Just in time for Christmas!!!  The best gift I could ask for!


Our first family picture as a family of 9!


I just had to put a picture of this little doll.  
She was talking to Grandma, who happened to be in the same room as us. 




Monday, July 30, 2012

RTC (residential treatment facility) Update

Last Wednesday was very strange for me and Brad, and I'm sure Kishawn as well.  We got to the facility with Kishawn and his belongings, and met with his therapists to fill out paperwork and answer her questions.  Although Brad and I had toured the facility before, I asked if we could tour it again with Kishawn.  I wanted him to feel as comfortable as possible during this difficult transition for him.  The tour went well and we were able to eat lunch with him before we left. 

Leaving was difficult for us all.  Tears were shed.  As Brad and I walked back to the car, I got very emotional.  His therapist told us we could call him that evening.  When we talked to him, he seemed upbeat and told us about everything they had done.  That was encouraging.

They request that during the initial intake while they are deciding on a treatment plan, they don't want the children to have any outside contact for 14 days.  

Home life has been different.  We have been moving homes so that has distracted me somewhat from him leaving, however during quiet times I get very reflective and often emotional.  As hard as it is for me, I really believe that this will be a good thing for Kishawn and ALL of our family.  I have faith in the facility and have heard nothing but good things about them and have seen nothing but positive results in the few kids I know personally who have been in their program.  

An interesting turn of events is happening at home.  Because the kids, as infants and young children, had a feeling of chaos and contention so prominent in their lives, it has become ingrained in their beings.  They seem to need it and seek it out.  Jazmine and Kisahwn especially played off of each other.  When one of them was having a difficult time the other could ride their wave and behave well.  However, when that one that was struggling improved, the other would take over the role of chaos maker.  Now that Kishawn is out of the home life picture for a while, Jazmine is definitely taking over that roll.  She is breaking lots of rules, starting arguments and conflicts everywhere she goes, lies nearly every time she talks and is physically hurting her sisters.  I hope that this temporary separation from Kishawn will help Jazmine to figure out what she wants for herself.  Hopefully she will be able to lessen that need to have and/or create chaos in her life.  

Jada is having her typical struggles.  She uses her urine to express her anger and frustration.  She has an extremely difficult if not impossible time following rules and can be downright cruel sometimes.  She (along with Jazmine) is on medication to help her not to feel so angry and rage so much and for her (although it doesn't stop the peeing or rule breaking) it definitely helps her be more kind to others and helps her be much less agitated at the world in general.  

Kiana is doing really well.  For the most part she is happy and cooperative.  She doesn't seem to be affected either way by Kishawn's leaving.  

Makenzie has asked me several times where Kishawn is and it nearly rips my heart out.  It has been relieving for me though to not have to be so on guard about where she is in relation to Kishawn though.

Another note: car rides are substantially more peaceful without Kishawn doing his silent torture to his sisters.  


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Big Changes #3 - Residential Treatment

Brad and I have wondered on and off about the necessity for a more intensive treatment option for Kishawn.  Although he has made lots of ground and has worked hard on getting through his challenges there are some challenged that continue to elude all the effort of him and all those around him trying to help him.  To protect Kishawn, I will leave out the details.

For the last several months we have had several of the professionals that have been working with our family strongly recommend residential treatment for him.  We were both initially shocked and in denial about this recommendation and didn't follow through with their advise.  However, as time went on we too began to see how such a program could be beneficial for him and the other members of the family, and even more we wondered what would happen in the future if he did not receive this treatment.

How it all came together was miraculous.  There definitely was Divine Intervention in the whole process.  Last Thursday I received a phone call from Arizona adoption subsidy within minutes of their review board telling us that they approved part of the funding for the school that the facility has on campus.  We would be expected to pay the remainder of the the fee.  In total we would be coming out of pocket over $1,000 a month.  South Dakota Medicaid was scheduled to review the case the next coming Monday and they were going to let me know the results that following Wednesday.  So, I was surprised to receive a phone call that same Thursday (4 days before the review board was scheduled to meet) telling me that they approved treatment for Kishawn.  I then called down to the residential facility to tell them what I had heard.  She told me that it would be a bothersome process for them to set up the contracts with the State of Arizona and with our family for the educational funding payments and that she was going to look into a scholarship for Kishawn.  (In the past, I was told it is incredibly difficult to receive the scholarship as they only have one available, there is a waiting list for it, and it doesn't come available until the child who is currently using it is discharged.)  She called me back a mere 15 minutes later telling me that my timing was impeccable, he got the scholarship and that they had immediate openings for admission.  She called me the next day, telling me that he would be admitted next Wednesday.  (That's tomorrow morning.)

This has been a heart-wrenching journey for us.  Many tears have been shed and are still being shed.  Although I can see that it will probably be for the best, I feel so sad about losing one of my children for a time.  We will still have contact with him.  The facility is 45 minutes from our house so there will be regular visits and Brad and I will be heavily involved in his therapy sessions.

I hope and pray that Kishawn will open up and allow himself to address those difficult issues he still struggles with.  Our ultimate goal is the health and safety of all of our children.  Currently, we constantly worry about the safety of everyone in our home both physically and emotionally.  I need to be constantly on guard and vigilant of everyone's actions in order to ensure that nothing detrimental is happening.  Sometimes I miss things and then have to help repair what was damaged.  I worry about the kind of childhood my younger children are having and hope it is not scarring them too badly.  As hard as this decision has been and as terribly difficult as it will be tomorrow as Brad and I drop our son off into the hands of other people, I do feel it will be good for every member of our family, especially Kishawn's biological sisters.

I hope that the unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship of the biological sibling group will be able to begin to heal as they are separated from each other for a time and given some breathing room to all work individually on their own traumas and other things holding them back from further progression.

I would greatly appreciate prayers for Kishawn and all of the other members of our family during this time.  I know that He can work miracles and I know that He will.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big Changes #2 - Moving Houses

We are moving!

So, long story short...
At the end of last year we were looking to buy a house.  We had decided against buying the home we had been renting because of the repairs it needed and the outrageous utility bill we paid every month.  

Unfortunately the owners of that home were anxious to get it ready to sell so they said we had to be out.  It didn't give us enough time to buy, so we had to look for another rental.  We found a pretty good one a few miles from where we were living and signed a 6 month lease with plans of finding and purchasing a home during this time.

And it happened!  We found a house that is GREAT for our family.  It has 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and sits on a 1/2 acre lot.  We will be closing on the house tomorrow and are so excited about the family friendly neighborhood the house is in.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Big Changes! #1 - New Baby

We've had a lot of really big life changes happening lately.  I plan on writing about all of them eventually, but for now I'll start with one of them.

We are expecting another baby in November!  This will be child number 7!

We found out last week that it will be another GIRL.  That makes 6 girls and 1 boy.  We should get really good at raising girls.

Most of the family is very excited about this new addition to our family.  Kiana is always unsure of adding new kids to the family.  She has residual feelings from her past and an underlying belief that moms (in general) cannot handle a lot of kids.

Kishawn is understandably disappointed that he isn't getting a brother.

Brad and I are very excited about this new addition and can't wait to welcome another sweet angel from heaven into our home!!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homeschool

So, after a long blogging hiatus, I'm back.  We are doing well.

Homeschooling is going great.  We've been at it for nearly 3 years now.  I used about a year of those three years  just trying to teach the kids how to live in a family.  How to get along, do chores, eat meals quietly with less fighting.  There were times during those 3 years when I thought that it was all for naught.  I questioned my decision to homeschool and wondered if they would ever want to be in our family.

I can now say that miracles have taken place in our home.  Although the road has been long, hard and bumpy it has been a journey worth taking.  Don't get me wrong, it's no walk in the park even now, but the changes that have happened and that are happening are nothing short of a miracle considering where we came from.

They do sweet, considerate, thoughtful things now.  For example this morning at breakfast I was really cold so Kishawn got me a jacket.  Then later, I dropped something on the floor while I was cooking and Jada wiped it up for me without my asking.  Kiana has been doing her chores happily and correctly.  Jazmine is getting to be SO good with the little ones.  They are learning how to think outside of themselves and to see other people's needs.

There have been multiple times during the past 3 years when I have wondered if I was doing the right thing.  Things just didn't seem to be improving.  I wondered if I was doing them a disservice keeping them home when they let me know very clearly that home is NOT where they wanted to be.  But each time I prayed about it, the answer I got was to stay on the path we were on and to keep homeschooling.  I wondered why, when things seemed to be so bad.  But, now little by little, I'm seeing the fruits of our labors.

A couple weeks ago in church, Jazmine bore her testimony.  She said,
"When I was little my mom and dad didn't take care of me.  I was hungry a lot and they hurt me sometimes.  I learned to do a lot of bad things, but now I am learning to pray to Heavenly Father.  I pray to Him when I'm in my room and He is helping me."

(Funny side note.  Although most of the congregation knows our family, there was a new family there who didn't know us.  I was getting some funny looks from them that day at church.  I realized that they probably thought that I was that mom.  Haha.  Sure enough later on that night at a get-together, I was talking to her and she confirmed what I thought she thought.  That's a good laugh.)

Anyway, I'm so proud of all the kids for what they are learning and for who they are becoming.

Most of all, they are starting to talk to us about those big, difficult, hard feelings.  I think that is so important.  As long as they will open up to us, hopefully we can get them the help they need.

I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who knows these children better than any professional, better than any well meaning friend, and far better than myself.  I'm grateful that even if I don't understand His guidance, I can follow it and know that thinks will work out.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Check me out on TV!

I went to the local library to teach a sign language class and when I got there, I was told that there would be 3 news crews there.

I was kind of shocked and a little nervous. Here are the results I could find online...

Children First: Learning about differences: Children learn sign language as a way to understand differences.

NBC

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baby is HERE!

Brielle Raeleen Porter

was born Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 7:35 in the morning.

Brad and I decided to have her at home in the basement in a birthing tub.  The experience was SO amazing for us.  We found an amazing midwife (who has delivered over 3,000 babies!) and made all the arrangements. 

(Wednesday night in mild labor)

On Wednesday I was having mild contractions all day.  That night we went on a family walk and they started to get stronger and closer together.  Around 11 at night, I called our midwife to let her know that I was in labor.  She came over and so did my mom who was both my nurse and doula (oh yeah, and mom).

I was able to labor on walks around our neighborhood, on a birthing ball, in the shower, and in the tub.

Just after 5 am the contractions started getting really strong, I got up to go to the bathroom and puked all over the floor (thanks mama for cleaning that for me).  It actually felt good to throw-up 'cause I was getting nauseous during contractions, but I didn't after this.  Then, I got into the shower for a few more contractions.  By this time they were coming on pretty strong. 

Brad and I both got into the tub for these contractions.
This was so amazing for me.  Not only did that warm water and the weightlessness feel amazing, but being able to lay on Brad was such a neat experience.  He rubbed me during the contractions and held me while I slept in between them.  I still get tears in my eyes as I think about how tender those moments were for us. 

While I was pushing, I got to reach down and feel her head.  That feeling was so surreal.  I could feel the hair on her head and I felt her head come out as I pushed.  After I pushed her shoulders, out I got to reach down and pick up my baby myself.  The feeling was one of ecstasy. 
Brad was holding me this whole time and was pulling my legs back as I pushed.  It was so fun to pull her up into my arms and to have the 3 of us meet that way. 

Brad got to cut and clamp the umbilical cord.

She didn't even cry when she was born.  She just came out looking around seeming to take it all in.


I need a better picture of my mom.
About 20 minutes after I had her, the other kids got out of bed and came downstairs to meet her.







The whole experience couldn't have gone any better.  It was such a miracle!

I can't even express how excited I am and how blessed I feel to have another little angel from heaven!

She is truly amazing!!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BABY NEWS!!!

So we just got back from an appointment with the midwife.
I am now 20 weeks along and every thing is going great!

Oh, and we're having a...







GIRL!!


I'm so excited!!




By the way our weather for today is:

Rest Of Today
Snow Snow
Hi: -1°

Mostly sunny with intermittent very light snow. Highs around 1 below. North winds 15 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 20 percent. Wind chill readings (FEELS LIKE) 19 below to 29 below zero (-19° to -29°).

Tonight
Mostly Clear Mostly Clear
Lo: -19°
Mostly clear. Lows around 19 below. Northwest winds up to 10 mph in the evening becoming light.

Can I just say BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!  



Friday, January 28, 2011

Is Healing Possible?

Short answer?
A resounding YES!

Is it easy?
Most the time, no.

I was talking with a friend the other day and told her that I hope that my kids will be able to learn from their past experiences (traumas and abuse) and turn them into something that can benefit their lives.  I do not feel angry at the people who caused my children harm, mostly because I know those people grew up having traumatic childhoods as well.  Throughout the process, I have tried to help my children separate in their minds the abuse they experienced from their abusers (most of whom were their close family members).  When I saw my children, at very young ages, continuing the cycle of abuse on each other, I understood for the first time how people can do such horrible things.  I knew that if I condemned their abusers I would be in essence condemning my children as well and I knew that they would never feel fully accepted by me.   

I think I have been blessed with an ability to look past the horrible things that their abusers have done and into their hearts.  I feel heartache for them and their life experiences.  While not accepting or approving of the things those people have done to my children in any way, I try to convey to my kids that those people were lost and struggling.  

So...

The other day, we were walking through the park together as a family and we saw a group of  young people smoking, drinking and using foul language.  I saw Jazmine observing them and wondered what was going through her mind.  She completely surprised me when she turn around and said,

"Mom, when I see people drinking and smoking, I want to go up to them and tell them about the gospel."
  
And...

The other night some of the kids were ganging up their sister verbally attacking her.  They took turns making snide remarks and insults.  Typically, when this happens I send the one who is being cruel away from the one they are attacking.  My reasoning is that each of my children deserves to live in a home that feels safe to them and if someone is threatening that feeling of safety they will not be permitted to stay near the others.  However, this night we were kneeling down for family prayers (which we do right before bed time), when the badgering was going on so I didn't send anyone away and it kept escalating.  I tried to stop it verbally but my requests were being completely ignored until I snapped.  Jazmine happened to be the last one to insult her sister so she got the brunt of my temper.  She was kneeling next to me and I firmly nudged her leg with the back of my hand and yelled something like, "How dare you!  You guys sit her and repeatedly insult your sister over and over as if you hate her.  How do you think that makes her feel?  Do you want her to grow up believing those horrible things?"  I know in their minds it probably sounded like blah, blah, blah, words, words, words.  Anyway we finished a not-so-reverent prayer and I sent them to bed.  I immediately felt horrible about my reaction especially to Jazmine and caught her before she went to her room.  She turned around with huge tears streaming down her face.  Assuming the tears were from my reaction, I held her in a tight hug and apologized for the way I reacted.  I told her it was wrong and that I was shouldn't have behaved that way.  She pulled away from my hug and said,

"Mom, that's not why I'm sad.  I'm crying because I feel bad for Jada.  We were so mean to her and I feel really bad about it."

I gave her another hug and she pulled away again, looked straight into my eyes and said,

"I've never felt this way before.  I've never felt sorry for something mean I did.  What does that mean?"

I this point I'm crying with her and I tell her that it means she is healing, she is getting a conscience and her heart is learning to love and to care about others.

This happened a few days ago and since then several times throughout each day, she tells me different ways that she has helped people when she sees that they are sad.  

So, can healing happen?
Absolutely!!!
It can!