Sunday, February 28, 2010

I may be a bit biased.....
But I have to say....
I have two of the cutest kids around!!

I was blessed to be able to spend a "normal Sunday" with my kids today, thanks to my DEAR friend Lorena!!

We did lots of errands Like getting hair cuts for the kids... so good to be able to see Nathaniel's eyes again!.... mixed in with lots of fun kid activities.

The ducks at Laguna Lake were very well mannered today, and all three kids ended up feeding them. Love all those smiles!

Usually the ducks can be a bit BOSSY and scare the kids, but today they were good.

Have I mentioned that I have been into profile shots recently? This is a great one of Nat!

And an adorable one of Audrey... so glad that her curls are coming back with her new hair cut!

These are the girls that were scared to even go over to the ducks at first, and here I thought we were going to have to fish them out of the lake!

After Laguna Lake we headed to the fabric store (a total mommy stop for the mommies!) then to Emmerson Park. At least here the play structure wasn't under water!

Such a Nathaniel concentration face!

Lining up the perfect shot!

Nathaniel played basketball, and all the while the girls played in the play ground.

Audrey showing off her new hair do.

Monkey face Kaia (Lorena's daughter)

Full on pose from Audrey!

And Nathaniel FINALLY talked the girls into playing basketball with him!

It was cute to see them playing together so well!

I loved the colors on this shot. So cool!
And the girls playing one what so many adults fight is funny too.

And this shot shows how happy we all were to be together!
After Emmerson we headed to Micheal's and Dollar Tree then to OUR house for dinner!! Yum! The kids got to play in their own rooms, with their toys. After lots of fun and playing we got to have dinner with friends at OUR house! It was a very happy day in my world :) I am blessed to have two wonderful children, and two amazing friends that made it all possible!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stepping Out of MIA mode...

Would it be too terribly vain to ask if you missed me?

Yes.... Oh Well.

I know I have been MIA for a while. I have been dealing with some HEAVY and HARD stuff, and I haven't been ready to talk about it. I am not sure I am ready to talk about it yet. This post is actually my chicken way of answering lots of phone calls, emails and messages about what is going on without actually having to talk to people and without having to say it all without crying (since you can't hear my tears here!).

Most of you know that I have been in a really rough patch in my marriage these last few months. What most of you don't know is that it really isn't any rougher than the last 10 years have been. I am just finally at the point that I can not take it anymore.

You see, there are many things going on. But the big one that just hasn't gone away is that my husband is an addict. I found out about his addiction when Taylor died almost 12 years ago, but I think it has been in his life much longer than that. I am not saying that this is the whole problem, or even that people can't be married to addicts. And honestly, there are people in my life that I dearly love that are addicts, and I still love them. For MANY years I have prayed for his healing, I have tried to help him live in a healthy way, I have endured waiting for a miracle from the Lord. But for the last 4 years Mark's addiction has poisoned our life in a bad way. It has effected his ability to work, our finances, the trust between us and even endangered our lives. I can no longer live with the constant toxin in my life, nor can I expose my children to it daily.

In addition to this addiction, Mark has also treated me in a way that I believe to be abusive throughout the past years. I am not here to point fingers or air dirty laundry, but I will say that in the past months I have come to be absolutely DISGUSTED with the things I have endured at the hands of my husband. The physical abuse, the emotional abuse, the control and the degrading are all things I should have KNOWN better than allowing to continue, but when you are living it it is so hard to see just how bad it really is! Now that I have steeped away from the situation it shames me to see what I allowed to continue. I fight daily with the vivid memories of the wrongs I have suffered at the hands of this man, many of which I have never mentioned to another human being.

In November of 2009, after trying MANY ways to separate and get away from all of it, I finally made the extremely difficult choice to file for a Temporary Restraining Order between Mark and the kids and myself. This broke my heart and was really hard for me to do, but it seemed to be the last option to get his addiction and lifestyle away from the kids and I. This of course lead to some nasty time in court, which was yet another huge struggle for me. Many times I felt defeated and thought about just giving up (on trying to get away from it all, not on life!), but I knew that this was the healthy choice for the kids and I, no matter how hard it was. And it was HARD! In mid December, with the help of some very godly men stepping forward to help us, the kids and I were granted a 3 year restraining order, and I felt like we could start rebuilding our lives.

But with every action comes an equal or greater reaction.

In the past when I have stepped away from Mark, he and his family have found an effective way to continue harassing me through the law enforcement system and through Child Welfare Services. Both of these agencies allow for "anonymous" complaints to be filed, and both head right out at the mention of certain words to investigate. Numerous times in the past 4 years I have found the Sheriffs department on my door step to do a Well Check investigation because I didn't answer the phone, or wouldn't talk to Mark (he can be very abusive on the phone and sometimes I just don't think I should have to deal with that!) or just because Mark was mad at me and wanted to rattle my case. Each and every time the sheriff have come they have found me to be in fine mental health, and to be taking great care of my children. But still, it's a PAIN to deal with it all the time, and to explain it all to the kids without saying something I shouldn't (like: Your dad is just being a pain in the ass... that isn't the right thing to do as a parent, no matter if that is what I feel like or not!). In addition I have had countless unfounded investigations from CWS. All of them have been found to be untrue, but still there are all of these lies in their files that they have investigated.

This time with Mark is no different, he and his family are using the system to harass me and the kids, and trying to do everything in their power to make my life living hell.

Then there is Nathaniel and his condition. To anyone just looking at him or even talking to him briefly, he seems pretty normal. But spend any amount of time with him and you will find that his mind just does not work the same as your or mine and that he has LOTS of behavioral issues directly related to his Spina Bifida. Then throw in the fact that this is a child who was predicted to NEVER walk or stand, and he runs all over the place at top speed.. he is ALWAYS covered in bruises, all of his own making! I love my son to death and have spent his lifetime researching his condition, and doing my best to teach him tools to deal with life, but there are still LOTS of issues to deal with and lots for him to learn. And he probably never will process like you or I, he will always have the residual effects of the hydrocephalus that he had inter uterine. But I take my job as his mother VERY SERIOUS and strive daily to be the very best that I can.

Then in January we had this 48 VERY STRESSFUL hours of Nathaniel in full blown hurt himself and hurt others mode, me under a GREAT deal of stress (both from the Mark situation, finances and personal and business obligations), an anxiety attach out of control, and some poor choices from people in our circle of support. It was UGLY. I made poor choices that I am ashamed of, Nathaniel made poor choices, and some of our circle of support made poor choice. Things happened that should NEVER have happened, and it all ended in a LOUD crash. It was heart breaking and definitely provoked some more adjustment on my part.

Throw all of this into the blender of life, and the outcome has been atrocious, heart breaking and something out of my worst nightmares.

Immediately following our 48 hours of hell I sought medical help to treat my anxiety attacks again, and have gone back on medication to this end. I also sought behavioral intervention from Regional Center for Nathaniel again, and am please to say that we are now working with an AMAZING behavioral specialist that REALLY gets my son. (It was so validating and such a relief that he GOT what I was saying when talking to this guy the first time I actually wept on the phone with him!) And some of my circle of support and I had to make the choice to not be around each other right now, until we could figure out a healthy way to deal with our relational and communication deficiencies. All of this happened almost immediately after the explosion, and all was made happen by me, I saw that there were problems and made the choices to make things better NOW.

Things were rough, but they were starting to take shape and we were starting to get into a little grove when in waltzed CWS and the Sheriffs department. You are kidding me, right? But these agencies are there to help right? So I told them what happened, what we were ALREADY doing to remedy the situation, and left the rest up to God. The Sheriffs right there said, "sounds like you hit a rough patch, but you are dealing with it well and I see no problem here."

CWS did not say the same thing. And here begins the WORST nightmare of my life. Worse than my daughter dying. Worse than learning that my son had a life long, permanently disabling birth defect. Worse than the years of abuse at the hands of my husband. Seriously the worst nightmare ever, and it was taking shape in the form of reality.

Through a series of meetings where it seemed that there were preset agendas, a series of half ass conversations with Nathaniel and many mean and even rude phone calls, CWS's reality began to take form in my life. To this day I do not think they, being CWS or the courts, have a clue about Nathaniel's condition, or how his mind works. To this day I do not feel that anything I, or anyone in support of me, have said has been heard. And to this day I feel that a series of lies is being held as truths. But all of that is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that CWS believes me to be a horribly abusive mother, and unfit to take care of my children.

Three weeks ago, my worst nightmare came true, and my children were foracably removed from my care. CWS has taken them and placed them in foster care. Fortunately, the children were given to my parents for the time being. But no matter how hard my parents try, they are not in any position to care for a child in Nathaniel's condition. And poor Audrey has gone downhill fast too. The whole situation is so horrible to me, and breaks my heart beyond words. I try daily to do the best I can, help my mother in the care of the children and be the best mom that I can be in this situation. But every minute is a struggle again the feeling of hopelessness and against the tears.

I have retained an amazing attorney, and have gone to court twice already to try and regain my children but the situation is overwhelming. I have 3 different attorneys against me and mine, and a whole series of lies from every side against me. I am still fighting hard to get my precious angels back, but don't get another opportunity in court until March 9th.

Every day I see my children (thank God!) and work to do EVERYTHING that is asked of me PLUS all that I believe to be important for my children and I. And everyday I beg God to keep Nathaniel and Audrey safe, to give my parents the strength to endure another day and to grant me peace and grace in this nightmare. Oh and I beg him to show me a way to pay for my attorney too! :)

In addition to all of this I have been trying to maintain my business without my business partner there daily, handle a ton of contract work, deal with a house that is sever default, pay bills without any money, take care of day to day life and not look like some kind of crazy person. I am blessed by Butterfly Boutique, and excited to see things coming together there is such a great way. I am also blessed beyond words by the dear people that have volunteered to help out there to keep us open while I am off dealing with all of the court stuff and appointments necessary to get my kids back. I am thankful for all of the referrals for contract work, especially since I had to take a leave of absence from my paying job to deal with thing, and thankful that I seem to find just the right number of minutes to get those jobs done. The process of loan modifications, foreclosures, short sales and all thing real estate is making me crazy, but I am blessed to have a Christian real estate guy walking through all of it with me, and pray daily for God's will in this situation. I am thankful for every bill that I can pay, and thankful that He is ever faithful in helping to make that happen. But I am also in prayer over creative ways to make enough money to stay afloat and pay these mounting legal fees. I am thankful to be able to get through each day, most of them gracefully. And I am so blessed to be able to help another in a tight situation out, even while struggling myself. And mostly I am holding it all together. Mostly.

I have to say that I am ETERNALLY GRATEFUL for the wonderful, loving support from so many. I know I haven't been returning calls, or even emails too well. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for that. But each of you mean so much to me and I couldn't do it without you. Please don't give up on me just yet :) A few people that have really pulled me through this need special kudos though...

I am so thankful for the most AMAZING pastor EVER that kindly encourages me, makes himself available whenever I need him, ALWAYS returns my texts and prayer without cessation for my family. Randy and Tami, you guys are ROCKS, I love you!

Two special friends that have taken all I have to dish out and come back for more during this trial have been L & J.... Each of them has helped me in ways I could NEVER in a million years repay. I love you guys. You are each amazing people.

And I know that there are so many more that lend a listening ear when I need it (D & A), have an uplifting comment just at the right time (M) and are in continual pray for us. Each of you, and my dear Lord too, are the reason I can get through all of this.I hope that this answers some of the questions out there... and if not try asking again... I might just have an answer for you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wow..... what a surprise today has turned out to be!!

With all that is going on I expected it to be a bummer kinda day, but have I ever been surprised!

I got the delightful joy of taking my children and mom to church this morning. Being blessed to tears at worship time. NOTHING better than my darling son standing on the chair behind me, clinging to my back belting out my ALL TIME favorite worship song right along with the band!! This mommy's heart absolutely melted. But that wasn't to be all...

Next I took mom and the kids out to lunch, where EVERYONE behaved perfectly! Going to a restaurant with Nathaniel is more times than not NOT worth it. He often melts in those situations, but today he was PERFECT!

After dropping the kids and my mom off I headed home, but decided that I wanted to go to the cemetery to take my daughter Taylor flowers. I asked my friend if he wanted to go with me, and to my surprise and delight he agreed! Not only did he come with me, he got out of the car too! When we got to Taylor's grave I was SUPER frustrated. Someone had recently driven the tractor over her grave, all but covering her head stone with mud and grossness. I dug some of it out, and then went to get some water to clean the rest of it up. Heading back to the grave I saw my friend down on his hands and knees cleaning mud off of my daughters head stone. I seriously broke down in tears. Not only did this dear friend come with me to a place that my husband and family won't come with me too anymore, but he's down on the wet grass cleaning up something so precious to me. Again my heart melted.

I am amazed at the blessing God has bestowed on me today, a day that I was completely dreading! Now I am back to working on Nathaniel's room. The new behavior therapist has asked that I make Nat's room a "low stimulus room" so I am remodeling up a storm in hopes and prayers that the kids get to come home SOON and the room will be all ready for him!

Hope you too had a blessed Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I have been in a complete FUNK these past few days, but especially the last 24 hours.

This afternoon was especially bad, but then Jon agreed to go for a little walk with me.

We headed out to one of my favorite places and walked the bluffs.

I, of course, took my camera with me.

I am extremely glad that I did,

For it was a gorgeous afternoon,

and God's majesty was displayed all around us!
The landscapes are always beautiful there,
and I love capturing interesting pieces of nature,

and the beauty all around me.

Then I kept seeing all of these COUPLES everywhere..
I mean I GUESS it is Valentine's Day weekend and all, but....

Do they HAVE to look so happy?

Of course I did have this dear friend with me...

and I DO love that profile!

I loved it 18 years ago,

and it's only gotten better with time!

Course this little guy had a darned cute profile too!

Ahh... but time to focus back on the beauty around me.

Standing on the edge of the cliffs,

with the wind blowing through my hair,

and drinking up all of this beauty,
I felt my bad mood slipping away and was reminded of WHO'S I am.

Then we sat on a bench and watched this glorious sunset,

and I felt some of my peace return.

I was reminded that there is still good around me, I just have to look for it.

And how lucky am I that I have a dear friend willing to endure my moodiness never pressing. He is great to talk to when the mood strikes, but is equally willing to walk quietly with me as I regain my center. And even lets me snap a few pictures of him too!
Now THAT is a blessing!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Check it Out!

Have I told you that my business blog is THE BOMB now???
We TOTALLY gave it a face lift and are getting it up and going BIG TIME now...

There is a GREAT sale going on over at Butterfly Boutique for Valentine's Day Weekend....

Go check it out!!

Making the best out of a heart breakingly sad day...