Photo by Shanna Hullender Photography

"Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hello Summer!

Well, we finished out our first school year with the kids. It went by way too fast! I'm amazed at how much they have learned and grown. I have also learned and grown as a parent. This biggest thing I walk away knowing after this school year is that I'm not only my child's parent but I am their advocate. I have learned to keep pushing and pressing forward. I may not be an educator but I am not stupid. I may have only been my child's parent for only 10 1/2 months but I know my kid better than anyone else.

I'm very proud of all the kids accomplishments but I'm especially proud of Fuller because he had the biggest up hill battle of them all. In January, we were given a letter stating that we should consider holding him back for the next school year. We had already been working with like crazy. However, at that point we decided we needed to turn it over to a professional. We hired an amazing tutor, Ms. K, and have been rocking rolling toward academic achievement ever since! Last week we received his CRCT (annual standardized test for state of Georgia) scores. The test is composed of three sections: Reading, Language and Math. He was an EXCEEDS in Math and Reading (his once weakest subject) and a Meets in Language. However, the good news is that he was on 5 points away from being a EXCEEDS in Language. Now, how is that for a boy that was told a few months ago he would need to be held back? Rock on, Fuller boy!

I finally finished staining the deck the last week of school. I desperately wanted that project complete before school dismissed for Summer. As you can see from the photos, I had a lot of direct supervision. Shyne sat out there every afternoon watching every brush stroke. He always pointed out runs, missed spots and pretty much asked me a gazillion questions. One this particular day, I had to use the ladder to paint the hand rail on one side of the deck. Something about me being on a ladder fascinated them. Finally, I had to shoo them off because as soon as I would get to the top of it, I would hear "Mom, watch this!"

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oh, My Goodness!

Goodness, the month of May has been busy!!!!
It is almost over and then the real party starts!
E-L-E-V-E-N (11) weeks of Summer vacation!
Oh me, oh my!
I'm stressed.
Very stressed.
Can I handle it?
Will I ever again be caught up on my laundry (for the record, usually I am completely caught up except the clothes we are wearing on our backs at least once a week)?
Is it possible to stick to a routine during the summer months? No routine = CHAOS around here.
Now I will have three meals a day to prepare!!!
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
What am I in for?

Monday, May 17, 2010

10 months to Forever

Today marks 10 months since the kids came to live with us. In one sense it seems just like yesterday. In another way, it seems like forever.

I'm going to be honest and tell you that when I think back to 10 months ago, everything is sort of a blur. I was overwhelmed but I probably had one of the best cases of denial ever. Even if I did find enough sense to acknowledge that I was overwhelmed, I probably would not have ever admitted it to anyone! Really, I didn't know I was overwhelmed at the time. I think I was in a true survival mode.

The kids were very hyper in the very beginning. Imagine taking a child that is ADHD (which Shyne is) and sugaring them up and sending them to Disney World. That was our kids...for weeks. Then to boot, Billy and I were very inexperienced with children. I don't think I can say that enough. Billy and I were very inexperienced with children. Other than my three year old niece, I had never babysat before. Oh wait, I did reluctantly help with a vacation Bible school a couple years before!

But looking back (and even then we recognized) that the kids were obviously over stimulated but for the most part didn't have anything terrible going on that we felt ill equipped to handle. For the most part, they were hyper and trying to adjust and we were tired and trying to adjust.

The bad:
  • The kids did not play with each other, specially the boys.
  • Fuller would oftentimes go off by himself and pout when in the presence of other kids.
  • Both boys were girl crazy. Shyne was especially excited to start Pre-K so that he could get "57 girlfriends." Sometimes he would even say that he was going to bring them home at night and kiss them.
  • Fuller was obsessed with Michael Jackson to the point he wanted to be called Michael Jackson.
  • Zippy insisted on being carried everywhere.
  • Zippy was partially potty trained. She had been fully potty trained then had a big regression after a visit with her bio mom.
  • Shyne occasionally use curse words.
  • Both boys thought punks, thugs, hoodlums, gangsters, etc. were cool.
  • Shyne would actually say that he was going to a gangster when he grew up. However, he didn't know what a gangster actually was.
  • Shyne had impulsive behavior. Sometimes he would curse and hit other kids.
  • Fuller was extremely bossy to Shyne and Zippy.
  • Fuller had a terrible time sharing. What was HIS was HIS and what was THEIRS was HIS.

Fast forward 10 months to now:

  • They are all playing together!!! Praise the Lord. This was a hard one to break and took a lot of work on our parts!
  • Fuller gradually quit pouting. It is hard to pinpoint how long this took because it was gradual but I can't remember when he last went off by himself and pouted because his friends wanted to play something different than him, etc.
  • We implemented a rule that none of them were allowed to have boyfriend/girlfriends. This was reinforced by Shyne's teacher as one of her class rules prohibited the same. We never kidded around with them about having crushes on girls etc. All this girl crazy talk was quickly abolished probably in the first couple of months we had that we had them. Guess what? Shyne thinks girls are gross now! LOL! Now we have eased up on them since they are now exhibiting very normal behaviors for their ages. We don't want to think that it wrong to like a member of the opposite sex.
  • Fuller still likes Michael Jackson but has expanded his musical tastes to include other artist. He is no longer wearing his one bicycle glove everywhere!
  • Zippy started walking more after we sat her down and had a little conversation with her about it. It is amazing how it really stuck with her and she tried really hard to resist asking or pleading to be carried after a couple of months.
  • Once I complete my job and got Zippy out of daycare, I had her fully potty trained in about two weeks which was about mid-September.
  • Shyne's cursing and impulsive behavior pretty much came to a screeching halt once he was diagnosed with ADHD. He can concentrate but has the hyperactivity part of the disorder. He was put on the lowest dosage of medication and we immediately saw drastic improvements in his overall behavior and academics.
  • The rule is that no gangsters are allowed in our household. So they are not allowed to wear their baseball hats anyway but the right way. Shyne now says with disgust in his voice, "Mom, we don't allow gangsters and thugs in our house, right Momma?" However in public if we see someone that sort of fits the description, I have been loudly asked "Momma, is that guy a thug?" Yeah, that could make for a nasty situation! SNIKES!
  • Fuller is still bossy but not as bad. I'm not sure if this is about being the first born or about being parentified or possibly a combination of both. Now Shyne and Zippy tell him that he is not their boss and that they don't have to mind him.
  • Fuller is much better at sharing but can still get a little possessive at times.

While things were never really bad in the beginning, we have definitely come along way in a short period of time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fuller's 5 Minutes of Fame

Fuller is wearing a blue hat and above the first "O" in the word Chattanooga in the first photo. He is above the "C" on the second photo.

Fuller came to us three weeks before he started 1st grade. Kindergarten had been a rough year for him due to all the changes he was experiencing at home. He passed Kindergarten but started out on the weak end of the spectrum when he started 1st grade in a new school. Reading was his main challenge but that little dude put forth his best effort! Due to his hard work and perseverance, he was awarded a free admission ticket to the Chattanooga Lookouts game this week. Before the game, kids from his school got to parade around the field in recognition of their hard work. He also had a coupon for a free hot dog, drink and popcorn! I think he was more excited about this than possibly Christmas! We were just as elated!

Every child deserves some one on one attention from their parents. So, my parents took Shyne and Zippy for the evening (which by the Shyne has a baseball game of his own that night) while we headed north for a night in the big city. We gushed over Fuller and made him feel like King for the night!
School is so much different that it was when Billy and I were there. First of all, we didn't start learning to read until 1st grade. Now they are learning sight words in Pre-K. For a while, I think we were a disadvantage to Fuller on the school front. I had trouble getting a good grasp on where he should be academically. Teachers used acronyms in which I had never heard. Of course, I asked for clarification but it was almost as though they were talking a different language. It was hard for me not having the opportunity to be a part of the natural academic progression from Pre-school to Pre-K then onto Kindergarten and finally a 1st grader. The only thing I could compare things with was my own obsolete 1st grade experiences. At first, he would read to us and we thought he was Einstein little did we know that it was not up to par to the most current scoring standard!
In January, we received a letter from his teacher stating that we may consider holding him back next year. Yeah, half way through the school year seemed a little early for a big decision like that but that is another post for another day. At that point, I found him an awesome tutor that happens to be a 1st Grade Reading Recovery Specialist in another local school district. All I have to say is that Miss K is awesome! Now, my baby is rocking and rolling with the best of readers and his confidence has soared off the charts!

I. Really. Don't. Like. Toys! But baby, this Mommy loves books! So for all holidays I fill the kids baskets/stockings/gift bags with a few new hardback books. Now my babies love their books too! We read to them almost every night. Did I mention that now Fuller says that he wants to be an author when he grows up? :-)

Today, I discovered a brand new blog on reading called Readers Are Made On The Lap Of A Parent at I can't wait to jump in and dig deep on there. This week they are also doing a giveaway with some books and a hand made book bag! So be sure to check them out!

Anyway, I am so proud of Fuller. He really has really "wowed" all of us with his success in reading. I on the other hand have learned that when it comes to school, a parent must really advocate for their kid. There is much more to this story than what I have stated here, however, if I had not advocated for him then he may have very well been doing 1st grade over again. What is more scary is that might have been have been his last straw. You know, another loss for him to grieve. I however, knew my baby had it in him so on we fought!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hello 34!

Yep, it is my birthday! Billy's birthday was yesterday. I can't say all of this in the same paragraph without throwing out the disclaimer that he is 5 years and 1 day older than me! Yep, he only has 363 more days to enjoy his 30's!

Birthday's are really no big deal to me. Usually the weather is gorgeous here in May so that is good enough to make for a fabulous day for me. We both got birthday money and are pooling it together to get a new patio set. Therefore, last week I started the dreaded job of staining/waterproofing our deck. Whhheeeww! So if the rain holds off, I will be out working on my farmers tan (the only type of tan other than tinted lotion that I do these days - after all, I'm 34 years old now) and staining the dreaded deck.

Speaking of birthdays, Fuller turns 7 in early June. I'm going to throw his birthday bash before school lets out so that he can invite all of his school buddies. I really don't think kids should have an all out birthday bash each year (Yep, I'm that bad Mommy!). However this year, we all have a lot to celebrate so the P.A.R.T.Y. is on! We are rolling with a pirate themed swim party. Fuller is so excited. I really never knew that planning a birthday party could put my little pirate over the moon. I'm excited for him but for the record even on our all out birthday bash year, I'm not that Momma that goes all out. I think that surprises some people because I do love "over the top" but parties really aren't my thing! Any pirate swim party suggestions?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Born In My Heart

Wow, what a first Mother's Day! The kids bounced out of bed so excited this morning you would have thought it was Christmas! They were so excited!

Billy started off the morning by going to McDonald's and bring us home breakfast! He told the kids they could give me my present after I got ready for church. So I had three kids in the bathroom with me this morning while I put on my make-up and did my hair. About every 2 minutes, one would ask if I was ready yet. Then I went down stairs and they gave me the sweetest card ever.

Then today at church we had a baby dedication or I guess child dedication in our case. Four sets of parents dedicated their children to the Lord. The kids were thrilled to get to stand before the church.

I was the lady last year that didn't get to stand for applause when they asked all Mother's to rise. However this year, not only did I get to join the ranks of all the other Mothers but I happened to receive a gift basket because I tied with another lady for having the most children in attendance today at church! After church instead of our usual Sunday lunch with my in-laws, Billy treated us to lunch at Logan's (not our favorite place by any means but the wait was pretty short).
Billy also bought me an adoption pendant for Mother's Day. I cheated and picked it out on We are just like that. It has a tag that says "Born In My" and then a heart pendant. On the back, I have the kid's initials stamped on it.
We came home for a nap and then got up and went to get ice cream at Sonic. After Sonic we went by my Dad's house for a short visit.
Whew what a wonderful day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Profound Encounters

Today, Zippy and I ran into a dollar store to pick up a couple of items. I hardly had on a drop of make up so I wanted to get in and QUICKLY get out! I didn't want to be friendly or take off my sunglasses. I was simply on a mission.

Of course, I got in line behind chatty Cathy that looked to be in her mid-sixties. She was oohing over Zippy. Then she said that she had always hoped that she would have a little girl. I told her that she had two older brothers as well. She went on to say that she never had the opportunity to have kids and all that she ever really wanted in life was a big family. She went on to say that she grew up in a children's home with several siblings but that they were busted up and sent to different places to live or adopted by different families. She said that her twin sister was raised apart from her in South Carolina. She said it all very quickly but I could see the hurt on face. Zippy had wondered away from me but was still within eye sight. That is when I told the woman that my kids are adopted. Her lip quivered and said that she really wished more than anything that she and her siblings could have been adopted together. She left in a hurry. I left in hurry as well.

As my day has gone on, I find myself thinking back to that woman. She was raised in a group home without a mother. Then she never had the opportunity to be a mother herself. I imagine that makes Mother's Day very lonely. My heart breaks for that little girl within her.

Isn't it amazing how profound a brief encounter with a stranger can be?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May Is National Foster Care Month

May is Foster Care Month! These are my three little foster care gems! There are hundreds of thousands of children just like them in the USA awaiting their forever homes. Check out for kids available in your state!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Unexpected Momma's Boy

Last week, Shyne had Dad's Day at his pre-school. Only Daddys, Grandfathers, Uncles, other male role models were allowed to attend. Shyne apparently had made Billy a Father's Day card. It was so cute because Billy said from the moment Shyne gave it to him, he immediately started trying to give it to me!

Later that afternoon, he gave me the card and said he made it for me. Billy of course being in good humor about it but said "No Shyne, that is my card." Shyne thought of every reason in the world that the card should be given to me. He even offered to make Billy another one. We were getting a good chuckle out of this. Finally after about 20 minutes, Shyne rested his case and promised me that he was making me a card at school too. This morning, I was upstairs with one of the other kids and Shyne asked Billy if it was Mother's Day yet!

This little boy really loves his Momma! Actually when they came to live with us, I was told by their foster mother that he was always the distant one. She said that he was always just a little standoffish. I quickly observed that in the very beginning with Shyne. It worried me because I wondered if he would always be like that. He was standoffish for a while, at least two or three months. Then one day, I became the greatest person on earth in his eyes. He started constantly seeking my affection, confirmation, and praise. He was definitely the child that I was most concerned with upon placement. He has done exceptionally well in all areas and such a little cutie.

Oftentimes, he will sneak out of bed after everyone else in the house has fallen asleep. He knows that I'm the night owl in the house. I will look up and there he stands with the cutest little grin on his face. I love his natural smile, not the fake one when he is trying to smile, but his natural smile. It melts my heart every time. He likes to crawl up in my lap and for me to talk to him and just love on him. Sometimes, I even carry him around like a baby on my hip. Then after 5 or possibly 30 minutes, I send him back to bed. Shyne really needs that special time with me. Of course, I cherish those moments too!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Miss Zippy

I added a ton of Zippy's photos last night but they are much further down the blog list. I had started the post and saved it several days ago. I thought that it would post in the order that I posted them but I guess it goes by date it was drafted so my post is a little out of sequence. I'll have new family photos up in a few days too.