Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Our Days: Pt 1

I received a private email asking me "What do your days look like with four special needs kids? How do you have time for everyone?"

Before I answer that question, I feel the need to backtrack a bit to explain some things. Somehow I think people have the impression that Angela is somehow loosing out on either attention or....I don't know what...when we adopt.

Before Dean and I met, I was married and had five kids at home; four boys and Angela. (there is an 8 year gap between Angela and the next brother.) After the divorce, and with her brothers becoming adults, Angela went from the youngest of 5 to an only child in a matter of 2 years. She hated being an only child, and I have to say, I wasn't really fond of being the constant playmate to an only child. She didn't want "mom" to play with, she wanted her big brothers back! She missed them terribly.

When we decided to adopt the first time Angela was beside herself with excitement. When we decided to adopt a second time we asked her, "If we go back to Serbia, should we get a brother or a sister?" Her response? "Duh! A Brother!" I really don't think Angela had any inkling what fun she might have had with a sister. She was so used to having brothers so that is all she knows. Then Asher came home and Angela, being developmentally about 8-ish, was very mother-y toward him as girls at that level tend to be. She loves to help take care of Asher who is very much the baby of the family.

When we decided to adopt again (Abel's adoption) we knew one thing for sure. No matter boy or girl, Asher needed to remain the "baby" of the family. He was very much developmentally two years old at that time. Not only did we not want another developmental toddler at that time, but we didn't have the time for another "toddler", and clearly Asher still needed some babying.

Along came Abel. It was clear from their very first meeting that Asher and Abel remembered one another. They are absolutely best of buds! Axel and Angela pair up a lot, but Angela often floats to the little boys to mother them a bit, then back to Axel for a game of cops or something. Axel, being 13 (and developmentally around 8-ish) is kind of between two worlds right now. He isn't really interested in playing with the little boys because he's too cool for them. He absolutely LOVES to hang out with Papa, doing "guy stuff" like pounding nails and dragging tree limbs around the yard. The little boys just like to be outside. Period. Outside. Or going for rides in the car. They don't care where the car brings them, as long as its out of the house. They want to go go go.

 For the last 6 or 7 years Angela has had a very cool pirate room in the basement. (remember, she is total tomboy!) Axel had his own room for the first year he was home, but when Asher came he really wanted to be in the same room with Ash. Because all three boys been used to sleeping "dorm style" we wanted to keep them together so we put Abel in that room too. Over the course of the summer Angela was apparently feeling a bit left out of the party upstairs and started spending a lot of nights in the spare bedroom on the main floor. The basement, which for almost 10 years had been her own personal girl cave was abandoned. She was hardly ever down there anymore because she wanted to be up with the boys.

Late last summer I was feeling like the boys were a bit too cramped in their bedroom, and Angela was making it clear she just needed to move back upstairs. That's when the big switch happened! We moved the three boys into the master bedroom where there is more than enough room for beds (Asher and Abel have a bunk, Axel is in a twin) plus two closets for their stuff. Axel has his own closet so the little boys don't destroy his things, and the "younger toys" are in the closet the little boys have access to. Angela was reinstated upstairs and the 3rd bedroom on the main level became the "master". It is literally two steps from the kids' rooms. Our bedrooms are right off the living room so its easy for the kids to drag toys (real or imaginary) out to the living room, then return for a different one when they've had enough. Or they can play in their room and they're in easy earshot of us. As an extra set of eyes we also have a camera system set up all over the house, with a base that clips on a belt so I can keep an eye on things if I need to do something like switch loads in the washer, etc. We now have an empty bedroom in the lower level that will eventually be the spare bedroom when I get around to it. For now there is a bed, and lots of excess furniture.

Then there is the basement. It is a walk out, and our plan down the road is to convert it to an apartment for the kids, with an efficiency kitchen. For now, once we moved Angela back upstairs, it was unused. All four of the kids have some pretty significant sensory needs. I honestly can't say that any one has more needs than the other. Angela and Abel are probably the highest. Our lower level was unused and I wanted to put up a therapy swing up. And snowballed from there. First we ripped up the carpet that was old and disgusting, and replaced the flooring in 1/2 the basement with padded floor. We now have a huge ball pit, therapy swings (several different types) a tunnel, a sensory tent, a 7ft diameter trampoline, the somatron thingy which is hooked up to a stereo, crash pads, an elliptical (for me and Angela) and a craft area. The kids love it down there. What kid wouldn't? I'm not trying to brag about the basement, but just to give you an idea what kind of stuff we have here for the kids. There is also a large three season porch, so when the weather gets nice we'll move the trampoline out there. The only thing I'm disappointed about is a darned stripped bolt in the elliptical machine. Since I can see the entire area from the machine I want to be able to use it while the kids are playing.

Coming up: Pt 2

1 comment:

  1. Hey Leah,

    Loved this everyday life post! Keep them coming!

    Erika in WI