Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

I love "The Wizard of Oz," especially Dorothy and all that she encounters on the yellow brick road. She and her friends are constantly afraid of what is around the corner or new things they encounter. I feel that is "J's" life. As we enter into more and more of her world, we encounter her MANY fears. We are in the process of sorting out so many things with her and seeking out some professional help with several areas but sensory issues are a definate problem. So like Dorothy, there can be a lot of shrieking going on!
Our latest adventure was this week when we went to do a family visit for Z. I would love to blog more about this but because of privacy issues, I can't say a whole lot. However, the meeting was emotionally draining for everyone. I'm thankful Z doesn't know a whole lot of what is going on. There were other families who were visiting at the same time and when the time came from children to leave their parent, the crying at the separation was enough to tear my heart in two. The brokeness, pain and suffering in this world has become so much clearer as we have entered into this journey of foster care and adoption. So many things that break God's heart, have broken mine/ours as well.
Anyway, we decided to make a "family trip" out of the visit and stayed at a hotel overnight. So it was new surroundings, new noises, new beds, new routine, etc. We had several "moments" that wore us down. So we decided to add another "new" to the list (yes, we're crazy!). One thing that we haven't done since J has been with us is swimming; I've been worried because there have been several fears around water, especially bathing, so I wasn't sure how it would go and have been avoiding it. So, literally, we took the plunge! J was excited as we looked at the pool and put our suits on. She talked about her brother and swimming. It is hard when you don't know a child's full past. You don't know what they have done and not done; what things have brought pleasure and what things have been terrifying. Well, we got down to the pool area and as soon as her feet touched the cement area that was wet from the pool, there was serious meltdownage :-) So Craig scooped her up and put her on a chair by the pool and as we are setting our stuff down, my 4 year old son Jonah just runs and jumps in the pool...except he can't touch...and he begins to go under!! AHHH! So Craig to the rescue (I had the baby in my arms). So once we get all of that under control, we go back to working with J and the pool. I tried to get her to sit on the side of the pool and just put her toes in but she was having NONE of that! However, Craig came and scooped her up again and got her in the pool. She DID NOT like first. She began to snuggle into him and hold on for dear life! But he got her in a little ways. Then he brought her to the hot tub. Again, it didn't go so well. But he was so patient with her and realized that if he put towels on the ground, she wouldn't feel the wet cement as she sat down. Then the bubbles of the hot tub were quite upsetting, so he showed her how they popped and eventually she began to do that herself. He would have her hold her hands out in would pour water into them, slowly getting her used to the water. He worked so slowly at taking things one step further. She definately was overwhelmed by the echoes of noise in the room, by the wet cement, by the bubbles from the hot tub, etc: her own version of "Lions and Tigers and Bears!"
So this morning, we said we were going swimming again. She didn't fight putting on her suit and seemed excited. We got down there and opened the door, she paused when her feet hit the wet cement..but no screaming! But she just wanted to sit in a chair. We let her..for a few minutes :-) Then Craig picked her up and brought her in the pool. She didn't like it but wasn't screaming. He slowly got her to go in deeper and deeper water with him and she didn't completely flip out. Then we got her back into the hot tub. I made the mistake of holding her in the water right next to where the bubbles were shooting out, not her favorite! But I finally just held her in the middle of the water and again she wasn't happy but once she calmed down, I would count to 3 and we would go to our bellies, then our shoulders and finally our chins and get wet. Then I taught her how to hold her nose and shut her mouth and we got a good deal of her face wet! Progress!!! It was very exciting to see her conquering some of her fears and working through some of her sensory issues but I will admit it can be exhausting.
I wish it was all big triumphant moments of moving forward but the truth of healing is that it is one step forward, 2 steps back; sometimes, though, it is 6 steps forward but usually followed up eventually by a few more back. It can be frustrating. We definately have moments of  "can we just be done with THIS step and NEVER go back!!" However, I think that this can be how we are as people no matter what. I reflect on all of the mistakes that I have made in my life or those that I have watched others make. God must think, "Really, you need to go back to repeating that!" I'm so thankful for the grace and mercy that God has blanketed my life with. As we learn to live into the image of God, we are called to put on the attributes of Christ, the fruits of the spirit: peace, love, joy, patience, kindness,goodness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness. They are so much easier to read on a bible page or put to memory, than to live out! So I'm getting my fruits of the spirit exercises. I hope you are too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Red Glasses

This week is Spring Break for the kids, so I took the week off. I knew this week would be full of appointments for “Z” and “J” and that I had a lot of catch-up house chores/organizing to do, but I was hoping for some fun this week. So far, I must admit, the “fun-ometer” has not been going very high. “J” has had a VERY hard week. I don’t know if it is another “layer” of healing or if there has just been too many changes of schedule in the past two weeks (the teachers were on strike, then they went back to school for a few days and now they are on break and we don’t have a normal routine for each day). I have really wanted to wear a tee-shirt and put a huge sign out in our yard that says “Don’t mind the blood curdling screams, it’s just healing taking place…really!” Then to make the week even MORE fun, I took “Z” to his follow-up appointment from his ear tube surgery and was expecting the “it looks great!” report and instead heard the dreaded, “I’m sorry but his one tube is falling out of his ear and will need surgery ASAP.” Ugh! The poor kid can’t get a break. Not to mention I had all 5 kids with me at the appointment and when they heard that this meant our fun overnight away that we had scheduled for the same time would be cancelled, well let’s just say things went downhill. Then during one of the appointments at our home for services for “J” (which I’m praying will be helpful for her to work through a lot of tough issues), she broke her glasses. We went today to try and get another pair and it will take a week. While we were in there, “J” had another one of her moments and while I know I could let things slide in public and become not consistent with following through (to prevent a meltdown in public) I choose to be consistent to help in healing. As I was leaving, a nice older man stopped me and said, “I will be praying for you; you have your hands full.” J
I was worried about “J” going so long without her glasses so I decided to take a family trip after dinner to the mall. Now this is probably not a big thing to anyone else, but the Barkley’s don’t frequent the mall very often. I’m not big on spending money and I’m also allergic to the perfumes that permeate the stores. I knew that the mall had at least one of those 1 hour glass stores, so we went. “J” was so excited to find a pair of red glasses (ok, she thinks they are more pink but whatever!) and pair of brown ones as well (buy one get one free!). She looked in the mirror and said, “I look so beautiful” which always comes out boot-if-full J. It was a wonderful time being there as a family, playing in the play area, getting ice cream, checking out some of the stores and we found a great store that had jewelry for $1.00 that the girls had fun finding treasures at. When we were leaving the play area, “J” started to talk about a memory with her brother at the same play area. It was a special time as she was able to connect with a positive memory. So, while I wasn’t thrilled to have her glasses break, these little red glasses provided a respite from tough healing, some spring break fun and hopefully another step forward in our journey together.