A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. --Forest E. Witcraft

Friday, December 31, 2010

LOL


Giggles that make your heart warm!

You might have to turn the volume way up.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Visit

We had a visit with two of BB's aunts.  They are both so sweet and really care about him, but neither is in a position to take care of him.  I have tried to facilitate visits about once a month since BB came to live with me. 

This week's visit went great.  We met at a children's play area in a mall.  One of BB's cousins is just six weeks younger than he is, but BB is much bigger!  One of the aunts gave him two musical toys for Christmas.  He LOVES them!

These visits have been an awesome experience, because we are all very comfortable with each other. They get to see BB grow and know he is being well taken care of, I get to know more about BB's bio family, and BB will develop a relationship with his aunts and cousins.  Both aunts are very supportive of me adopting BB.  I have every intention of keeping them in his life.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Catching Up...

Well, sort of.  I am catching up on badly needed sleep.  Even BB has been sleeping in late.  I'm going to have to work hard to get back on a school schedule before Monday!

Unfortunately, I'm not getting much else done - so far.  I took the week off work to do the multitude of tasks that have been postponed for weeks months around the house.  I had such high hopes, but so far, I'm still just catching up from the holiday events.  But I've got my list ready and will make progress tomorrow!

On a good note, I finally got my fingerprints for my adoption license today (no, the fingerprints for my foster care license don't transfer - go figure!).  The only remaining item is a physician's statement for my two already adopted children.  This was a last minute additional requirement that I found out about last week.  Hopefully, the pediatrician will fill out the paper during BB's nine month checkup next week without needing a well-check appointment.  Otherwise, it make take a month to get the other two in for an appointment.  Ugh!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quiet Day

Today was a relatively quiet day.  I needed that.  We slept in and went to the late service at church.  No Sunday School today, so all of us sat in the back row of the contemporary service.  After some initial seat juggling, everyone did well and the service ended early.

We came home and had a simple lunch.  I tried to get BB to take a nap, but he was definitely not interested, despite being obviously tired.  So, we headed to the grocery store instead.  I scored the couple of necessities for Christmas next year from the clearance section and purchased the groceries we needed.  Once home again, BB eventually did settle down for a nap.   I let Buddy play on the computer, May watched her new movie on the portable DVD player in her room, and Sweets played (and played) Kinectimals on the new XBOX 360 KINECT that Santa brought them.  I enjoyed a long winter's nap!

I made spaghetti (their favorite) for dinner and they played some more.  Tonight they will get some reading in before bed and hopefully get a good night's sleep.

Yesterday, we had a wonderful Christmas with family here.  I picked Sweets up just after 9am and returned in time for brunch.  Then we all opened gifts.  The kids were so excited about so many of them.  I really thought we were doing less this year, but they still had more than they knew what to do with!  BB liked anything that made noise, especially the crinkly paper!  The big kids are having as much fun with BB's toys as he is.  The pillow pets and Zhu Zhu pets were the biggest hits after the Kinect, although they are loving everything right now. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Two Teeth!

Yes, BB has two teeth on the bottom.  He even let me see them!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Schedule

I totally understand how divorced parents feel when they have to "divide up time" with kids for the holidays. 

Sweets typically stays with me almost every day she is not in school.  Well, her dad decided he wanted her to come back to his house last night.  No problem; I drove 80 miles round trip to take her home.  Today I was to pick her up from a visit he had scheduled with Lil Sis (I think he wanted Sweets there so he didn't have to entertain at the visit).  Well, he showed up late and missed the visit.  Oh well, at least he was on my side of town, and it was a lot closer for me to pick up Sweets. 

Now he wants Sweets to be with him on Christmas morning.  I think he actually bought her a Christmas present for the first time in four Christmases since she has lived with him.  Fine, but that messes with my family's Christmas schedule.  Sweets whispers to me, "I really want to stay with you, but I don't want to hurt my dad's feelings."  So sweet, and so sad for an eight year old. 

After some negotiating, Sweets will stay with me through an early dinner with my parents on Christmas Eve.  Around 5pm I will meet her dad "somewhere in the middle" and she will have to miss going to the Christmas Eve church service.  Then I will drive to his house Christmas morning and pick her up about 9am.  That should work, because we usually don't start much (except gifts from Santa) until after brunch, which is set for about 10am after extended family gets here.  I told Sweets we would wait before we passed out gifts.

I do want Sweets to have a good relationship with her dad, but it is annoying when it interferes with my plans.  I have to stay focused on what is really important: yes - their relationship; no - my schedule.  Thank you, God, for keeping my heart where it belongs.

A Glitch

This morning was court for BB.  It was supposed to be TPR, but there was a glitch.  Since they can't locate any parents, they had to publish notice of the hearing.  Unfortunately, the publication for one potential father was not correct.  So, they severed on mom, one potential dad, and John Doe, but they can't sever on the other potential dad until March.  Yep, three month delay.  I guess now my conservative estimate of the adoption being final by June becomes an optomistic outlook.  Bottom line, BB is here, living as part of our family.  We are just waiting for the legal side to catch up.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Zoo Lights

Tonight Miss M and I took the kids to see the 3.5 million lights at the zoo.  It was sprinkling as we were driving, and both of us were wondering if we should really continue.  Ended up being a beautiful mild night with only a hint of moisture from the sky. 

The kids enjoyed the lights, Sweets pet the stingrays, we wandered throught the gift shop and I covertly bought one more Christmas gift.  We finished the evening with a stop at Yogurt*land to calm the hunger pains on the way home.  It was a night to remember.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Pageant and Caroling

This afternoon was the Christmas Pageant at church.  Both Buddy and Sweets (since rehearsals were on the weekends) were in it this year.  Sweets was a shepherd who sang a trio; she did an awesome job.  Buddy was in the choir.


Sweets' dad had said he was coming.  A friend of his (mature lady whom Sweets loves) was also planning to come and could give him a ride.  The friend went to pick him up, but he wasn't ready.  They arrived about ten minutes after it was over (drive is about 45 minutes).  Sweets' first words after the play: "Did my dad come?"  All I could do is say he was on his way.  Luckily that wasn't the end of the day. 

We had a soup and salad dinner at church followed by Christmas caroling on haywagons to shut-in, sick, or elderly members of our church.  Many live within the local square mile.  I let Buddy and Sweets go with her dad and friend (supervised by a friend of mine from church) while I took BB home to stay with my parents.  Sweets' dad had no idea what was going on as he boarded the wagon, but he came back smiling saying he had a great time.  He had never been caroling before, and although he didn't sing, he enjoyed it.  His friend (whom I respect and trust) told me afterward that everyone was so nice to them (so great to hear about people at church).  Unfortunately, she also told me that he spent the entire time texting and not watching or interacting with his daughter at all.  So sad.

I met the haywagons when they returned. Everyone came in for cookies and hot chocolate.  Then the jolly old man himself came.  All three talked to him, even if May would only go with a friend.  Luckily, Buddy asked him for EXACTLY what Santa is bringing for Christmas!  I so love it when it all works out.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ready for the Weekend

Seven hours of uninterrupted sleep!  Plus another hour to just lay and relax.  I'm ready for a good weekend!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just Done!

I am at my wits end with Buddy.  He is doing fine everywhere but at home.  Here, whether with me, or Miss M, his behavior is atrocious.  He is talking back, calling names, ignoring directions, and touching, pushing, and laying on his sisters.  I have talked with him, warned him, sent him to his room, ordered him to bed, and restricted TV and all electronics.  Nothing has worked.  I am done.

Tonight I sat him down with a piece of paper.  On the front he wrote "I will follow Mom's directions." and on the back he wrote "I will keep my hands to myself." seven times each.  He behaved for a few minutes and then started up again.  He finally got the wrath of Mom in his room and then when to bed not happy at all.

I'm now in no tolerance mode and made it clear that he will go directly to bed for even the slightest infraction.  I will have more time off over the next two weeks, and I'm hoping that he leaves this behavior behind within the first few days!

Star of Wonder

Tonight was May and Buddy's Christmas program at school.  Each grade sang a song during a mini-musical where the story of Christmas was told by stars: Diva Star, North Star, Lucky Star, Rock Star, Falling Star, and Shooting Star.  It was very cute! 

May sang solo into the microphone to help the kindergarten class with their song.  She did an awesome job! 

I picked Sweets up after school today.  She is out until January 4th.  The other two have a half day tomorrow and are then out until the 3rd.  It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bouncy, Bouncy

Fun!
 
Bouncing

Spinning

Leaning

and

Now Sleeping!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

This morning I walked into Buddy's room to make sure he was getting ready.  I was only half ready myself and hadn't fixed my hair yet to strategically pull it back.  Buddy exclaimed, "Mom, you really have to dye your hair more, because it's really getting gray!"  Thanks, Buddy!  I'm glad my appointment is on Friday.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Splish Splash

I was taking a bath...

BB loves to play and splash in the water!  Tonight I let him have at it.  (Just a little lot of water on the floor & counter to cleanup.)  He can stay in the bath until he prunes up and still come out smiling!  Although lately he cries when you take him out of his wet playground.

The kitchen sink is just about too little to bathe BB.  I think we are about to graduate to the deeper sink in the laundry room!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Awesome Concert

The three older kids had their Children's Chorus concerts the last two nights.  Talk about an AWESOME experience.  All 275 kids did a fabulous job in two different venues.
The picture above is the Prep Choir, with Sweets and Buddy in the front row.  May is in the next choir up (it's her third year with the organization).  There are also two older touring choirs, mostly with junior high and high school kids. 

The concert was quite a professional show.  It is totally amazing what kids can do when expectations are set high.  This is Sweets' second semester with the choir and her stage presence is beautiful, not to mention her voice.  This was Buddy's first set of concerts.  He worked so hard to stand straight, sing, and not fidget or squirm.  I am so proud of all of them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Tooth!

Just a tiny little corner poked through the gum, but BB has a tooth nonetheless!

He is so funny.  If I try to pull down his lower lip to look at it, he sticks his tongue out every time.

So, I haven't actually seen the tooth yet, but trust me.  He woke up with his first tooth this morning!

BB is probably really sick of my finger sticking in his mouth just prove that little tooth is really there.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eight Months

BB is marvelous!  He is a big boy at 8 months, over 20 pounds.  He is still happy virtually all the time, rarely fusses, and loves to interact with people.  He and I share a special bond, and I love the way he looks at me when I first come into a room where he is. 

Although he is not yet crawling or scooching, he does roll all over the floor.  He sits up well and loves to play in the water in the kitchen sink for his bath.  He is now standing with help, which is huge since he didn't like to put any weight on his legs for a long time.  He loves to bounce and to be held upside down.

BB is a good eater and sleeps wonderfully for about ten hours each night.  He still has no teeth, but I'm sure they have to be coming in soon!  All kinds of babbling and cooing come from his mouth, while anything he holds goes into his mouth.  He is very alert and no longer falls asleep during church or other events with lots of people.  He doesn't want to miss a thing!

May, Sweets, and Buddy all love BB very much.  They play well with him, keep him entertained, and help me with his needs.  I can't imagine BB not being part of our lives.  He is truly a blessing from God whom we have been entrusted to care for.

The current plan is that BB will be legally free for adoption in January.  My home study is in process to once again be licensed to adopt.  Some time next year....  Thank you, God!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crinkle, Rattle, Shake


BB discovered a great new trick.


He reads the ads!


But it was SO tiring.

Aren't his little hands adorable!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Call of Thanks

The phone rang this evening, and it was the mom of two foster daughters from years back.  She wished me and the kids Happy Thanksgiving, as her children were all yelling "Happy Thanksgiving, Aunt Diane" in the background.  She said they were thinking of us and wanted us to know.  We talked a while and she brought up the past.  She said she is so thankful today for how her life has changed, for God, and for her family.  She included me in the family part, saying I will always be Aunt Diane to the kids, even though we don't see each other as much anymore.  I told her she was a major success story and that I was so glad things worked out as they did.  She said thank you and that I really helped her.

You see, nine years ago I received her two youngest children (ages 1 1/2 and 8 months) as foster placements.  Her five children were in foster care for two years.  She fought a very difficult, uphill battle to overcome drugs and domestic violence, and she won!  She found the Lord and made him the focus of her life.  She also learned how to take care of herself and her children.  Although it looked like I might adopt those two girls, this mom got it together in time.  It was hard on me when I was told that mom had progressed enough to begin reunification, but after just a couple of overnight visits, I saw how much she loved her children and I started to soften toward them going home.  Reunification took over three months, during which time she and I built a relationship that continues today. 

I am thankful today as well.  I thank God that I have been able to watch these two girls grow up along with their siblings, that their mom succeeded in bringing them back home and has become a very good parent, and that I didn't adopt them, because I wouldn't have Sweets, Buddy, and BB today if I had.  God's plan is always bigger and better than ours!

Happy Thanksgiving


I am thankful for so many things...

for a loving and gracious God

for a wonderful family

for two awesome parents

for four wonderful children

for two super sisters
  
for caring extended family and friends

for a blessed nanny

for a nice home in a good neighborhood

for a fabulous Christian school for my children

for a welcoming church

for a great job that I enjoy

for talents and abilities given to me by God

for good health

for a free country.

Thank you, Lord, for all of Your blessings!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

He Moved

Sunday night, before I took Sweets home, I got a call from her dad.  Directions: don't bring her back to the same house; he has moved to a friend's house.  Luckily it is in the same neighborhood and walking distance from the same school.  Sweets recognized the new house and knew who lived there. 

Turns out the state was coming to visit him Monday to check out his living conditions related to Lil Sis.  I am SO irritated....  For over a year and a half, they have lived in a despicable place with family, with no hot water since last November, cockroaches, broken windows, disgusting bathroom, mosquitoes, and sharing a mattress in the corner of the living room with no privacy.  He has been saying he is going to get his own apartment every month since May but has not made any progress.  NOW he moves!  The two of them are sharing an empty bedroom at the new house.  I sure hope the case manager can see right through this.

Good news, though.  Sweets called tonight and was excited to be able to take a shower there!  For months, she has skipped showering during the week until she returns to my house on the weekend.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rain?

What do you do on the rare occassion when it rains on a weekend day in November?
Put on swimsuits and jump on the trampoline, of course!

These two then made their way into the swimming pool after the rain stopped.  Brrrrrrrr! 

But they weren't cold...

At least not until Buddy came in shivering so hard he had trouble undressing!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Squeaky Shoes

A week ago I purchased some squeaky shoes for BB from Connie's blog.  She is raising funds to adopt a little darling from China; I needed some black shoes for BB.  So, I picked a pair, coordinated with her on size, and wah-lah, the squeaky shoes arrived mid week.

Now, when I ordered these shoes, I thought they looked cute, but I had no idea why they were called squeaky shoes.  I guess I'm really out of touch.  When I looked them over, I saw a little button on the inside edge of the sole.  Yes, the shoes actually SQUEAK when you step down in them!

BB loves them!  I hold him and let him bounce, and he immediately looks down to see where the sound comes from.  It will be so fun if he starts walking before he outgrows these shoes!  If not, I will probably have to get another pair!!!

Check out Connie's blog to see part of the selection of squeaky shoes. You can always contact her via email on her profile page for more info and pictures as well.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eight!

Sweets is eight years old. 
She has grown so much and is such a beautiful girl!
Sweets at a year old.

Tonight I drove over to pick her up and took her and her dad to Out*back Steak*house to celebrate her birthday.

Sweets last month.

She has so much potential: very smart, fierce independence, soft spot for all animals, beautiful singing voice, caring heart, and a loving spirit.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing Sweets into my life.
Thank you for letting me be her "mom".
Bless her and help her through turmoil.
Reassure her that You are always with her and have a plan for her.
Help me to continue to meet her needs and help her become the person You desire her to be.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Joyful, Joyful!

BB is truly the happiest baby around!  Tonight we went to church for the annual Thanksgiving dinner prior to the Wednesday night programs for all ages (next Wednesday is a worship service).  There were probably 150 people or more attending.  Several of the retired ladies came over to dote on BB:

He is always so happy!

He is so good in church!

He smiles at us behind you on Sunday morning!

(and many more...)

It was nice to sit down individually with a couple of ladies and share about my children.  I am often told that I do amazing things, so much good, etc.  Well the truth is that my children provide so much joy, even when the going gets touch; I feel so privileged that God has chosen me to be their mom!  The benefits I receive completely dwarf the struggles!  Just don't ask me to repeat this statement when I'm in the middle of a battle with one of them!  :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Extra Trip

After my class this afternoon, I drove the rest of the way over to Sweets' house to return her glasses.  I think she may have not-so-accidentally forgotten them when it was time to go home last night.  At least law school is already halfway to her house, so I didn't have to make a separate 80 mile round trip!

Sweets was in a good mood and thrilled that I came over.  She was still in the same clothes she wore beginning yesterday after church.  She said she wore her school uniform over them.  I asked her to change while I was there, so at least I know she has clean clothes for tomorrow.  No such luck on a shower - the water heater is still broken (since December).  She waits until she comes to my house to take a shower on the weekend.  The front door was finally fixed though, so it no longer has a hole in it. Progress!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

B-day for Lil Sis

This evening we went to a birthday party for Lil Sis who turned 5.  Sad thing is, this is the first time a big deal has ever been made about her birthday.  She was thrilled to jump in the Princess bouncer.  Sweets enjoyed being a part of the celebration and took charge when it was time to open gifts, giving Lil Sis play by play directions on what to do next.  Very cute!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cousins

Tonight we enjoyed dinner out with cousins, two from out of state and a couple that is local.  We enjoyed the best fajitas in town and had a great time visiting.  They met BB for the first time and oooed and aaahed over him.  BB was delightful and willing to go to anyone.  But when he came back to me, he snuggled into my shoulder.  It was so precious and sweet!  It was wonderful telling them the story of how BB came to be with us (and now will likely stay with us) and how he is truly a blessing from God!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blimp Ride

Last night I received a text message from a pilot of the Goodyear Blimp Spirit of America which was in town.  He asked if I could fill up a few seats on the blimp today.  I had met this pilot by chance about four years ago when my parents took a ride after my sister won that prize at a charity auction.  I hadn't heard from him in three years.  So I gathered up eleven others from work to ride this morning.  What an awesome experience!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Surprise!

Received a surprise text message this evening. 

Big event in the morning! 

Check back...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adoption Conversion Request

My licensing worker came today with the wonderful news that the request has been received to license me for adoption of BB.  This request has been three months in coming due to some terminology confusion between CPS and the licensing agency.  It escalated up both chains of command because one side was asking for an Adoption Conversion Request but it turns out the other side actually files an Adoption Home Study Request (which magically turns into an Adoption Conversion Request within the bowels of CPS).  What this means is that the adoption home study should be filed with the court prior to the severence of parental rights, allowing the adoption to take the fast track.  I'll be happy if the adoption is final by June, anything sooner is a bonus!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baby Step Forward

When I took Sweets home tonight, I talked with her dad for a while.  He initiated that, should anything happen to him (like getting arrested or deported), Sweets should stay with me temporarily until he returned.  This is huge, because he has previously always indicated that he wanted Sweets to stay with his sister (and her five kids plus usually three grandkids at home).  I am so happy that the trust is truly building.  He said that he will have a notarized paper with his wishes to give me when I pick up Sweets next weekend.  Any wager on whether he follows through?

I also told him when and where to go for the paternity test for Lil Sis.  Unfortunately it is probably 45 miles away from his house.  Ridiculous really, since I am positive there are tens of labs closer that could do it, but that is what you get from a gov't agency for scheduling!  When I got the info from the case manager last week, she said she personally had nothing to do with the scheduling and couldn't change the location.  I don't know if he will go or not.  I really hope he does, because the next court date is before Thanksgiving!

Square Dancing

This afternoon was an all church BBQ and square dance.  Food was great and square dancing was even more fun!  I had the privilege of being partners with all three of my older children for at least a little while.  Buddy was much more interested in the bounce houses though.  May participated under duress but seemed to have fun anyway.  Sweets impressed everyone by coming in from the bounce houses toward the end and jumping right into the square.  BB sat and watched the motion from his stroller.  I think we all enjoyed the afternoon!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Today's Activities

I took Sweets to the funeral this morning.  Her family was very glad to have her there.  She sat with her two younger sisters during the service.  Her dad was 1 hour 15 minutes late; luckily for him the service lasted 1 hour 45 minutes, followed by a graveside service.  Sweets and I left when everyone went outside.  She was tired of being still and quiet, and we had prior plans which were more interesting to her.

We met Miss M and my other kids and went to a party for Foster and Adoptive Families at a local park.  The weather was awesome.  They had inflatable jumpers and other fun.  I saw a couple of moms that I met a few years back.  One has adopted 10 kids, ages 3-13, and is now fostering a sibling group of 3 that are children of a former foster child.  Wow!

Afterwards, we went to Sweets' uncle's house where the family was meeting.  Sweets and Buddy had fun playing with all the other kids.  May hung out with me and BB passing time in the background.  It was good for Sweets to be there.

Friday, November 5, 2010

So Unpredictable, It's Predictable

Tonight was the visitation for an older member of Sweets' maternal family.  Tomorrow is the funeral.  Her dad was also a good friend of this family member.  I talked to Sweets' dad the last two nights about the arrangements.  I was going to be at his house at 4pm today to pick her up and he was going to follow us to the visitation.  When I got there, he was not home and Sweets' aunt was waiting in her car to leave as soon as I showed up.  His phone went straight to voice mail. 

So, I picked up Sweets and we went to the funeral home where I cleaned her up the best I could in the bathroom and helped her put on the dress and shoes I brought.  She hadn't had a shower since being at my house last weekend, because there is no hot water at their house (since before the first of the year).  Sweets got to be with her maternal family, including both younger sisters.  She also got to see her birth mom. 

Finally after 6pm her dad answered his phone.  He said he was coming, could I please wait about an hour because he wanted to talk with me.  He couldn't come tomorrow because he had to work.  So, I called Miss M, cancelled going out to dinner, and asked her to feed the other kids at home.  At 7:20pm I called Sweets' dad again.  He said he was getting in the shower and would be coming soon.  I reminded him visitation ended at 8pm.  At 7:50pm he called to say he couldn't make it before 8pm.  He would come tomorrow and wanted to talk with me then.  Sweets had been saying all night, he isn't coming.  She knows him all too well.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

School Program

Tonight was a Patriotic Concert at my children's Christian school.  The kids all wore red, white, and blue, and each grade K-6 sang a patriotic song.  It was so nice to be so blatantly reminded of the Christian foundation of our country.  There is such a stark contrast with May's first five years in public school.  I am so blessed that May and Buddy have the opportunity to attend this wonderful school!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Such a Deal

Last Thursday, I looked for my little pumpkin costume for BB to wear for Halloween.  It wasn't in either of the places where the costumes are stored.  I determined that I must have given it aways quite a while ago; it's been years since I used it.  So Friday morning, getting another costume for BB was on the to-do list.

I decided to go to a local upscale children's resale shop to try to save money over Wal*mart.  I found an adorable pumpkin outfit for $5.  But when I went to pay, I was told costumes were 60% off and all infant clothing 24 mo and smaller was 50% off.  Since BB has no size 12 mo clothes and I'm sure he will outgrow his new 9 mo clothes by Christmas, I looked at the boys 12 mo rack.  When I left the store, in addition to the costume, I had 4 sleeper pjs, 1 jacket, a 3 piece Christmas outfit, another 3 piece church outfit, a sweater, 3 l/s shirts that snap, 4 pair of pants, and a one piece outfit.  Total bill: $39.60 

It was definitely the deal of the day!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Oh my, I am glad Halloween is behind us!  The kids had a ton of fun this year, but I am exhausted! 


Last night we went to the church where I was raised for their annual pumpkin patch party.  It was crazy busy with people; I couldn't believe the awesome turnout!  It was nice to see some familiar faces and re-introduce my kids. 














 Tonight we made a couple of special stops as the sun went down. My parents were in town, so BB spent the rest of the night with them at home as they handed out candy.  The three big kids and I went around a long block trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. It was a busy night, and the weather was absolutely beautiful.  They are thrilled with the load of goodies they brought home.  For now they get to enjoy.  Some day soon we will sort it out and donate a bunch to the local food bank.

Took Sweets back to her dad when all was done.  So glad she got to stay and trick-or-treat with us!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pushing the Last Minute

It's been one of those weeks...  Sunday night starting at 10pm, I wrote a six page paper for my Monday class.  Yeah, procrastination until the last minute. 

Yesterday morning I ended up driving 40 miles to Sweets' house to assist her dad with an issue (last minute notice).  On another topic, I found out he missed his appointment for the paternity test for Lil Sis, so it now has to be rescheduled. 

Every day at work lately has been swamped with more than I can possibly complete.  I stayed too long yesterday, after getting in late, and made it to class one minute before it started.  Three hours of boredom later, I was so happy to drag my exhausted self home.

Today May started throwing up after school.  She stayed home tonight while Buddy went to church.  He absolutely didn't want to miss since they wore their Halloween costumes.

Tomorrow morning Miss M goes on vacation for four days to see family out of state.  Buddy and May will have to go to after care at school and BB will have his longest day yet at daycare.  Friday I have a school commitment at the court, then will have to drive back to pick up the three kids from after care and daycare, then drive across town to pick up Sweets.  Wish me luck that we actually get dinner before 7pm that night!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Embarrassing Question

Last weekend at the fair, we stopped in a children's area so I could change BB's diaper.  Miss M and May were sitting by the stroller, while Buddy and Sweets played in a nearby play area.  A representative from the university came over and asked Miss M and May if either of them had a child under under six, as she was conducting a survey.  Miss M answered no and, pointing to May, said she is eleven.  Whoops!  I know May looks mature, but give me a break!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

4 for 4

I'm getting tired of the weekly trip to the ER/Urgent Care!  This time it was May with a large welt on her inner thigh.  It started as a bug bite yesterday, was red about the size of a quarter this morning, and was about seven inched in diameter by 5pm, itching, hot, and hurting.  The tricky part was this time I had all four kids with me.  We made it, and the seven-year-olds were even reasonably patient.  After about an hour, we left following a dose of Bene*dryl with a script for an antibiotic.  Could we please stop with the weekend medical issues?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More State Fair

Sweets and the largest animal in the pen!

Not an animal person!

She finally found the baby pigs!

Smiles from Sweets, Buddy, and May

I'm still amazed at Buddy's willingness to go on the bigger rides like the one above.  He normally won't even go on the baby roller coaster, but he went on this hang glider ride which went up high and fast, as well as another ride which travelled in a fast circle and even covered up the riders making it dark.  He is really growing up!

Yesterday was so much fun!  Of course, I have a million things to do today as a result, but it was worth it.  A day of family fun and togetherness goes a long way!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

State Fair

We spent today at the State Fair.  BB was fabulous, feeling and eating much better than yesterday.  The other kids had a ball and did quite well for such a long day.  Miss M went with us, making the day much more fun for me. 

We ate frozen bananas covered with chocolate, turkey legs, Indian tacos, lemonade, and soda.  We rode on a few rides.  Buddy even went on some of the big kid rides and came off smiling!  I'm so proud of him for not being scared!  Sweets went on a monster ride with Miss M and loved it!  Sweets was barely tall enough to ride it; they measured her twice.  Yep, here is the ride!  It even spun upside down for a while!
We finished the night with a trip to the barns to see the animals.  What a fun day with all the kiddos!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Times 3

Tonight marked the third trip for urgent care in less than three weeks.  At least this time it was a different child!  The rest of the household is well, but it appears BB now has a stomach virus.  He couldn't keep anything down from mid-morning on.  After throwing up even electrolyte solution, I called the doctor's office just before closing time.  Directions: take him to the ER to avoid dehydration. 

After a thorough checkout, they declared him healthy except for a possible virus and gave him an anti-nausea medicine.  So far he has kept down about four ounces.  BB is sleeping peacefully now.  Hopefully, I can too!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sickies in the House

It has not been fun for the last few days.  Starting last Thursday, Buddy complained his throat was dry.  Then on Friday it hurt, and by Friday at dinner, he didn't want to eat and complained his ear hurt too.  I took him to the nighttime pediatric urgent care thinking it was an ear infection, and ... Strep Throat!  He started antibiotics that night and no complaints about his ear or throat since.

Fast forward to Monday, and both Buddy and Sweets were complaining about a stomach ache.  Sweets is here during her fall break.  She had no throat issues, so I decided wait and see.  Buddy went to school, and after lunch, I received two phone calls and eventually Miss M picked him up.  Both of them took long naps and had noodle soup for dinner. 

My stomach was bothering me on Monday, more as the day progressed.  By dinnertime, I was not interested in any food and went to bed as early as possible.  It was a miserable night, waking up frequently to take care of my rumbling tummy.  Sweets came in my room during the night and complained about her tummy too.

Today Buddy stayed home from school with Sweets; God bless Miss M!  I think they have both recovered.  I went to work today but felt awful.  I'm a little better tonight and really hope this yucky feeling is gone by morning!

Thank goodness May and BB are showing no signs of illness!  Please, God, can we keep it that way?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Show and Tell - NOT

Sweets and Buddy were playing with toys in the middle of the family room.  All of a sudden came hysterical laughter.  I looked over and they were mooning each other!  They were immediately sent to their own rooms and told to close the doors (since their rooms almost face each other).  I talked with each of them individually, and they both saw it as a joke.  I tried to explain (again) that they are too old to show that part of their bodies to anyone else.  I obviously am going to have to get stricter about enforcing closed doors when using the bathroom and when changing.  How else do I teach modesty?  May never needed teaching - she developed modesty on her own.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

6 Month Checkup

BB saw the doctor today for his six month checkup. He passed with flying colors! He weighed 18 lbs 3 oz and was 28 1/2 inches long - big baby for six months. He got three shots and didn't really even cry until the third one; then he was over it in a couple of minutes. BB is truly the best baby around!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dentist

Three appointments at the dentist today. Routine checkup for Sweets - all looks good, no cavities. Sealants for May and Buddy - done in a flash, no problems (love that laughing gas!). This pediatric dentist office is wonderful with the kids. May had a terrible experience when she first got sealants around age 6 (I have to say the experience and staff at that office were not kid appropriate), and she had adverse reactions to any trip to the dentist office for years. I think she is finally over it!

Tomorrow is the six month doctor's appointment for BB. Poor baby will get more shots!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Flu Shot

This afternoon, while shopping at Walm*rt, I spied the table where a nurse was giving flu shots. Although I absolutely HATE shots (worse than giving blood, yes, I'm weird), I just had to remember how sick I got a few years back the one time the flu took over my body and won. Every year since then, I tell myself it is worth the shot. So, as the big kids were looking at Halloween costumes, I meandered over to the table and signed up for a flu shot. Soon Buddy and Sweets came over to hold my hand. The nurse was amazing; I didn't even feel it. No kidding!

In fact, the nurse was SO good, I unilaterally decided the big kids should get a flu shot too. May did great. Her brother and sister held her hand. Then it was Buddy's turn - not so great. He was not happy and tried to make any deal he could to get out of it. Finally, he got himself under control, sat in my lap, and held his sisters' hands. The nurse was so patient. Buddy had to admit, it wasn't that bad, but he still wasn't happy about it. I didn't have Sweets' insurance paperwork with me, so we had less than half an hour to pay for our cartload of goodies, drive home, get the paperwork, drive back, and race in to the table. We made it with a couple of minutes to spare with a copy of Sweets' insurance card and my power of attorney (her dad has let me handle the doctor/dentist stuff for the last couple years). Sweets proudly sat down in the chair and received her shot as well, right after brother and sister held her hand too. Goodbye flu season!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Still Summer

Since it is still over 100 degrees here, we thought we would enjoy the pool this afternoon. BB absolutely loves the water. Today is the first day he has been in the pool since he started sitting up by himself, so I put him in the little doggie float. He was quite content!
(Don't worry! BB is not floating by himself; May hid under the float for the picture above.)

Buddy and BB

May and BB

It was a fun afternoon! Sweets is coming over tomorrow after church for at least a week during her fall break.  She has two and a half weeks before school reconvenes!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lil Sis

I went to court for the first hearing for Lil Sis this morning. It was quite a production. BM, possible BF, two sets of aunts and uncles, and I showed up.  Everyone was friendly and no one got their feelings hurt. Familiar attorneys from Sweets' case are involved again, and they remembered most of the players. Lil Sis is staying in the relative's home (good decision!), and we will proceed over the next two months seeing what BM does and whether possible BF really is BF. Yep, here we go again!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Six Months Old

BB is now six months old!  Where has the time gone?  He is the most adorable little guy, and I absolutely love, love, love him!  He now rolls over both ways and has just started sitting up enough to count it as actually sitting.  He stayed over a minute in a sitting position today, way up from three seconds just days ago.  Still no teeth, but he chows down on the baby food. 

At court this week, the case plan officially changed to severance and adoption.  If everything goes perfectly, TPR could happen by the end of the year.  Knowing how something usually goes awry, I will be happy if it happens by the end of February.  Adoption is starting to seem very real! 

I am so thankful that I quit trying to control my placement situation and just left it up to the Man upstairs!  BB is such a blessing to our family.  He is so happy, even when he wakes in the morning.  He is also very alert and engaging.  Praise God that we were chosen to be his forever family!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spider Bite

Buddy has been complaining about his leg itching from a bug bite since yesterday.  He has had a lot of bug bites lately, supposedly because he ran through some tall grass near school.  Well, this particular bite was bothering him more than most.  Yesterday the outside of his left thigh looked like an itchy bite that he had been scratching.  This morning it was red around the bite.  By this afternoon the redness had expanded to over 3" in diameter; it was hard and warm.  Tonight I took him to a nighttime pediatric urgent care (open 5pm to 5am seven days a week for kids only - best idea in a long time!).  Verdict: spider bite!

The doctor prescribed five days of oral antibiotic and 2.5% hydrocortisone cream.  After we finally got home from the 24 hour pharmacy with the prescriptions, I stared at the antibiotic, thinking that it didn't look like a chewable pill.  I called the pharmacy.  Nope, not chewable.  Azithromycin doesn't come in chewable.  I explained to Buddy that he had to swallow it with water; he was not happy.  After fifteen minutes of  "I don't know how" followed by a demonstration with a different pill by mom, he tried it.  Bravo!  Swallowed it on the first swig!  Happy boy; happy mom.  Hopefully the spider bite clears up soon!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Busy Day Ahead

Saturday morning starts with May, Sweets, and Buddy going off to Children's Chorus rehearsal.  They are up and excited to go.  I pick them up at noon and rush to the other side of town for a foster care training class (you know, those things you need to keep your license - most get old after 16 years!).  Tonight we are going to an Autumn Moon Festival with friends who adopted their daughter from China.  That should be lots of fun and a new experience for us!  Somewhere in there I need to make progress on a paper for my class.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fun Day

I went with Buddy's class on their field trip to the Science Museum today.  It was a fun day, but tiring!  The boys went from one hands-on exhibit to the next, sometimes faster than you can blink.  They had a ball, especially on the ones where you crank, pull, push, drop, or spin.  Buddy was so happy I finally made it to one of his field trips; I'm so glad I had the opportunity!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Here We Go Again?

CPS removed Sweets' four year old sister  from BM and took Lil Sis into state custody today.  Lil Sis is currently staying with an appropriate family member.  BF needs to be determined; don't know if it is Sweets' dad or not.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Frustration

May has dyslexia, and it makes schoolwork very difficult for her. She has a high IQ, and speaking to her, you decide that she is smart, mature, and very logical for an 11 year old. Most people who meet her think she is considerably older. However, put a piece of paper in front of her to read, or ask her to write something, and it is a huge struggle. I hired a tutor for May beginning the summer after kindergarten. May received resource help (special ed) in the public school starting in 2nd grade through 4th grade. They tried, but progress was slow, and May's self-esteem was diminishing, more quickly as she grew older. By late 4th grade, I knew something had to change.

I asked and eventually begged to have May admitted to a private Christian school for 5th grade. Her homeroom teacher had worked with dyslexic students before and was determined to help May learn. The principal was concerned about whether the school could meet May's needs, but we finally won him over. May thrived! She made at least two years progress in reading in just nine months. She was accepted by the other students and was no longer singled out as one of the "special" kids who couldn't keep up. Accommodations were made for some assignments, mainly to assess learning orally instead of through written tests, but she did 5th grade work. Only spelling expectations were reduced; she learned all other subjects at grade level.

Now May is in 6th grade, and her 5th grade teacher moved up to become her 6th grade homeroom teacher. I can't tell you how AWESOME this is! A new 5th grade teacher was hired and she is now "learning" how to teach May. The new 5th grade teacher teaches reading and language arts to the 5th and 6th grade classes, while the 6th grade teacher teaches math, science, social studies, and Bible to these two grades.

Here is where the current frustration sets in... Vocabulary! The 6th grade has a vocabulary book with 20 new vocabulary words for each two week period. I'm impressed by the level of the word lists, the first of which included one word I had never heard of! Do you know what a repast is?

The method of learning for this teacher is to have the students write each word, pronunciation, part of speech, definition, and synonyms on a 3x5 index card. I wrote to her and met with her and explained that this would not help May learn the words. First of all, it would take her more than 30 minutes to create one index card (copying is VERY difficult). Secondly, May would have no more idea what was on the index card than what was in the book, because she CAN'T READ IT. Third, she couldn't recognize what the word is because she never heard it, and since she can't read it.... Are you catching on? I tried to explain to the teacher that May could learn these words; in fact, she already knows some of them, as her vocabulary is well above grade level. May also has an amazing memory. But I also told her teacher that May needed to learn the words by listening to them and hearing the words and the definitions.

Well, today was the first day of the third word list. May is excused from creating index cards, but she has been asked to TYPE all of the above information. Aargh!!! She typed up three of them and had no idea what the words even were! I guess I need to talk to the teacher again.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Little Behind

The early childhood specialist came out two weeks ago and declared BB was on target or above, except for his gross motor skills, which were quite behind.  So the PT came out this morning for a further evaluation of BB.  She said he is functioning in gross motor at a solid four months level.  He will be six months next week.  To qualify for further services, he must be 50% delayed, and he is not (thank goodness).  The PT said his fine motor skills and responsiveness are great.  She recommended more floor time and just to watch him for the next few months.  By 9-10 months, he should be pivoting around on the floor and scooching or crawling (even if only army style).  If not, then we'll evaluate again as he approaches a year old.  Since he keeps improving, I'm not worried.  I'll bet he rolls over from back to front (already does front to back) within a couple of weeks.

BB went to the eye specialist yesterday because his left eyelid has drooped since birth.  She did a full exam and said it is not interferring with his vision, which is the only thing they would be concerned with at this age.  Again, we wait and monitor.  As long as it doesn't cause any vision problems, they will wait a few years, and only then might they consider surgery if the eyelid muscle doesn't strengthen on its own.  BB will go back every 3-4 months to the eye specialist for monitoring.

At the pediatrician yesterday, BB weighed 17 pounds 10 ounces.  He is getting SO big!  He is already moving into 9 month clothes.  No wonder he loves to eat!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dinosaurs

Sweets and Buddy set up this scene over the weekend:













They declared one side was the plant eaters and one side was the meat eaters.  Wonder which side won?   ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yum, Yum!

BB is a great eater! He now likes peas, green beans, squash, carrots, and applesauce. He tolerates the rice and oatmeal cereal, but he likes the veggies much more. We are just beginning the fruits, and I am convinced he will probably like them all. He sees a jar and spoon and gets very excited!

Diaper rash has arrived with a passion, though. His little tushy is almost raw from squirting little amounts of p**p in almost every diaper change. Diaper rash cream wasn't cutting it, even with cornstarch powder. I've moved on to A & D ointment, which seems to sooth but is not yet healing. BB loves his bath, and I think it makes him feel much better, but he screams whenever you touch his redness. Hopefully his tummy / GI will adjust soon and come to a happy medium between the infrequent bowel movements days apart and the now constant output.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering

Nine years ago, but seems like not so long. I remember I turned the news on at 6am as I got ready for work, something I rarely did. But that morning I heard the reporter say there was smoke coming out of the World Trade Center. Then the rest of the events unfolded. Being clear across the country, it all seemed surreal, but yet it was scary. I went on about my day, dropped three toddlers off at daycare and proceeded to work, all continuously listening to the radio for more news. About 2pm I received a call from the daycare. They were evacuating; a bomb threat had been called into the nearby high school. I was glad for the excuse to go home. The kids were too little to know anything, but they knew I was sad. We prayed and hoped and prayed.

Today, kids don't really associate much with this day. May knows it's the day the planes crashed into the twin towers, but she can't comprehend why. I pray for those that lost their lives and the families left behind. I pray that our country continues to stand strong and does not bow to those who will not compromise. We must rely on God as a nation. Yes, we can be tolerant of others, but only as far as their tolerance allows. We cannot sacrifice our lives and our country in the name of tolerance and political correctness to those who have no tolerance for beliefs other than their own. God Bless America!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Foster Care Review Board

FCRB for BB was today.  I took him to the meeting, and the review committee was so excited to see a baby in person!  He was very well behaved and adorable as usual.  Case plan is being changed to severance and adoption, and the review went well.  Everyone is happy that BB is potentially in his permanent home.  They were very pleased that I have been and plan to continue to have visits with a couple of BB's extended family members.  They are supportive of me adopting him.  It's so nice when a case is so easy.  I feel for the bio mom, but she either decided to make things easy on BB or simply doesn't care.  Either way, if she surfaces and turns her life around later, I am open to her having contact with BB, as long as she is appropriate.  We have that relationship with May's dad, and it is working beautifully, both for her and for him. :-)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Busy Holiday Weekend

Wow! I can't believe the long weekend is coming to a close already. I didn't accomplish much of anything I had planned, but we all enjoyed family time together instead. Saturday was spent going out for lunch, watching a movie, and then swimming with my good friend C. and a former foster daughter who was able to spend some time with us.  Sunday was church, followed by my parents coming over for the rest of the day. We tried double decker tostadas for lunch (yum!), went swimming, made a C*stco run, and had spaghetti for dinner.

Today we slept in. May fed BB this morning, so I got an extra hour of sleep (THANKS!). My parents came over again and we just "hung around". My sister had the day off and came over to see the kids. We grilled hamburgers, chicken legs, and hot dogs for lunch. Then we got in the pool again to cool things off. I'll be glad when the 100+ degree days are over!

BB loves the swimming pool. He likes his bath too, but the pool (which is probably 90 degrees these days) is his favorite. He puts his head back and relaxes. He splashes and kicks. This weekend I dunked him under a few times, and he liked that too. Water in his face? No problem! He has a ball!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Milestone Today

Miss M told me that BB rolled over today! He rolled from his tummy to his back about four times. As she went for the camera, he fell asleep exhausted. Hopefully I'll get to see him tomorrow.

BB has been doing well with baby food. He likes green beans and peas. He tolerates cereal. He is back to sleeping through the night again, sometimes over ten hours. I think the worst of the gas issues are behind us, thank goodness.

On Friday, an early childhood specialist is coming to evaluate BB to see if he is on target for his age. I think his gross motor skills are a little delayed, but everything else seems to be coming along nicely. We'll see what her opinion is.

I praise God for bringing this beautiful child into our family. This is not what I had planned, but He knew what was right for us. I'm starting to allow myself to be excited that BB may get to stay. Based on past experience, it is so hard to start down that emotional path when decisions are still uncertain. I'm just trusting Him to know what is right!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

First Food

Green beans, yum! BB ate a whole jar of green beans today. He wasn't sure at first but then decided he liked them. He ate about a third this morning. He liked it much better when it came out of the fridge cold this afternoon, and he polished off the jar! Tomorrow we try peas...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saying Good-Bye

After we arrived home from picking up Sweets at her dad's this evening, Sweets came to me on the verge of tears and said the following. "It's not hard to say good-bye to my dad, but it's hard to say good-bye to you." She had barely arrived at my house for the weekend and already she is thinking about having to leave on Sunday. How incredibly sad for her.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Five Months

BB is now five months old! Time flies when you are having fun! He went to the doctor this week for his second round of shots. He is now 15 pounds 13 ounces and 27 1/2 inches long.

His case manager visited today as well. Bio mom (BM) is AWOL, since he was two weeks old. BF is unknown/AWOL as well. Court is scheduled late next month and the expectation is that the case plan will be changed to severance and adoption by foster parent. Can you believe that?

Five months ago I was so upset that I had not received a placement after three months of waiting. God knew what he was doing; I just had to give up and trust him! BB came less than a week after that, and now it looks like he is here to stay.

Best of all, BB fits into our family perfectly! He is also the easiest child (and case) that I have had out of seventeen foster children. We are so blessed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What an Attitude!

Buddy is full of attitude. He is talking back, insisting on having the last word, and making snide comments. Luckily there is no bad language worse than p**p (one of his favorite words). In addition, he feels the need to run into his big sister and pester her continuously.

Times are gonna change! After multiple incidents tonight, he has lost TV, video games, and computers for two days. If it keeps up, he may lose them a lot longer. In addition, his bedtime is backing up. Unfortunately, this rarely accomplishes anything, because he works extra hard to keep himself awake as long as possible.

I've finally hit my limit. If two days of no screens plus instant time out in his room doesn't get him back on track, then this weekend is going to be miserable for both him and me as we hit boot camp!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All Giggles

BB is much happier again. The worst of the gas has passed. He has slept through the last two nights (which means I have finally gotten some sleep!). This morning after church service, Sweets had acolyte training. We were waiting around, and BB was just smiling and laughing for everyone! My parents were visiting today as well. BB put on quite a show, entertaining them with his giggles and antics. He is such a sweetheart!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sleep, What Sleep?

BB has been having major gas issues. He has not slept more than a few hours in a row for days. He just starts screaming. Nothing makes him happy, and then he will pass gas. LOTS of gas. Then he is fine and able to eat and sleep again. I feel sorry for his little body. I bought some Mylic*n drops yesterday and he seems to be doing better. But I miss his happy and content self. This afternoon and evening he did much better. So lets hope for full night of sleep!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Amazing First Day

Today was the first day of 6th grade for May and 2nd grade for Buddy. Both bounced out of bed and got themselves ready in record time. We were all ready to get in the car a full 20 minutes early; this NEVER happens. Buddy kept asking if we could leave yet.

Once at school, they saw all of their friends and excitedly reunited. The opening assembly was a nice welcome and ended with the parents and teachers circling around all the kids and praying over them. What a great start to the school year!

After school, both kids announced they had a great day. I am so thankful and praise God that May and Buddy get to attend this school!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet the Teacher #2

Tonight was the open house at Buddy and May's school. Both of them know their homeroom teachers. May met the new 5th grade teacher she will have for half her subjects (5th and 6th grade teachers team teach). The 2nd grade class has sixteen students and the 6th grade class has fifteen, a wonderful ratio for learning!

It was so nice to see the kids and their friends catching up and playing while parents talked. They are both excited about school starting on Wednesday. This is a huge change from the last few years for May. She attended the local public school since kindergarten (even went to community preschool at the public school). Every year she was more apprehensive about school starting. Fifth grade was her first year at the private Christian school where they go now. Last year she was totally scared about changing schools, even though she didn't really like her previous school. This year she looked forward to going back to school. She also has a "can do" attitude for the first time and is full of anticipation. I am so thankful!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Four Wonderful Months

BB came into our lives four months ago today. It seems so recent, and yet, so much has happened. He is such a blessing, and we all love him dearly.

Each morning he wakes up in his crib, pumps his feet to kick off his blanket, and eventually starts "talking". He wants his bottle right away, and after about half of it, he is ready for a break and to get his diaper changed. Then he drinks and smiles and plays in my lap until his bottle is gone. After that, he rests in his baby rocking chair in front of my bathroom mirror while I get myself presentable for the day.

BB has such a happy and calm disposition. He rarely cries, and when he does, there is usually something that can please him quickly. He sleeps about nine hours each night and catnaps during the day. I think he doesn't nap longer because he doesn't want to miss anything happening around him. He is very alert and responsive.

Buddy adores BB and is thrilled to have another boy in the house. He showers BB with hugs and kisses. May is an immense help and usually enjoys holding and feeding BB. Recently she has discovered that she can sing him to sleep and put him to bed at night. Sweets is the little mom during the day when she is here. If BB fusses, she is the first one on the scene ready to help.

Seven months ago I was ready for another foster care roller coaster, looking forward to helping a mom reunite with her little one(s). I waited and waited for a placement and began to get very frustrated. Finally, after releasing more and more mental "control" of the situation and placing more and more trust in God to bring the right child(ren), we have a miracle.

BB is the sweetest baby (yes, I'm biased, but it's true!). His court date is in late September, and as of now, it looks like the case plan will change from reunification to severance and adoption by foster parent. I am thrilled and excited! Things can always change, but I will continue to trust in God. If this is where BB belongs, I know everything will fall into place. Praise the Lord!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Calm before the Storm

This is my last morning to sleep in and relax for a while. Kids are watching cartoons. Plans for the day are grocery shopping, back to school shopping, then swimming with friends. This is the last weekend that is not planned for a while.

Sweets started school last week and likes it. My final for my summer class is this week, May and Buddy start school the following week, and my fall semester starts the week after that. We are almost back in the swing.

Next weekend is a mini vacation at a resort in town which is supposed to have an awesome water park. The best part is that it will be such a short drive! (And if I forget anything, it's easy to recover!)

The following weekend is choir camp. This is the first year all three of the older kids are in the city children's choir. It is an audition group with four levels for 2nd through 12th graders. Their twice yearly concerts are incredible, and the oldest two choirs tour all over the world. Camp is the kick-off which the kids look forward to. They make new friends, eat, play, and sing, over twelve hours of rehearsals. This will be May's third camp, but it is the first for Sweets and Buddy. I'll be going to camp too to help with uniforms. Miss M is staying with BB for that weekend and loving on him!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Feet or Five Feet?

This afternoon I asked Buddy to pick up the XBox and put it on the shelf where we keep it. He was tired and whined that it was too hard. I semi-jokingly replied that if it was too hard for him to move it three feet, I could move it much further away to another room where he couldn't play it any more. His response was that it wasn't three feet; he would have to move it five feet and that was too far. Exasperated, I said, "Measure it," thinking he would step it off. No, he went to the pantry, got out the measuring tape, stretched it out, and began to measure. Answer: three feet eight inches. He put away the XBox and then put away the measuring tape. I laughed and laughed (not out loud, of course)!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sweets and BB

Today was the end of summer for Sweets, as she starts school tomorrow. She is excited about school but not so excited to stay at her dad's now. The good news is that the trip to get her there today had no tears and ended well.

My parents came over for the day and stayed with May and Buddy while I took Sweets and BB. We spent time with two of BB's aunts and had dinner before taking Sweets home. She had fun being the big sister and telling the aunts all about BB.

The case manager for BB has not yet called the aunts to search further for family members who might step forward as a permanent placement. Today, they reiterated that there is no one. While both of these aunts are very nice, neither is in a position to add an infant in her home. This is the second time I met the older sister and the fourth time I met the younger sister. I continue to feel comfortable with them, so today I mentioned that if no family member comes forward, I will petition to adopt BB. The older sister's response was very positive, saying "that's just where he belongs". I was so happy to hear this and know that they are comfortable with that possible path forward!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meet the Teacher #1

Drove Sweets to her school by her dad's tonight for Meet the Teacher night. I can't believe she starts school already on Monday. She has two teachers, one on M/W and one on T/Th and they alternate on Fridays. Both seem very nice, but I worry about the consistency. The roster has 20 kids in the class, so the ratio should be good! Her dad listened to the expectations in 3rd grade, which include a signature from a parent for the reading log every night. Hopefully, this will happen on a regular basis better than last year. Good news also that the homework packets come home on Friday, so she can start them at my house on the weekend. Sweets is excited about school and she saw some friends tonight. Keep thinking positive! For now, she came back to my house until Sunday.

May and Buddy don't start school until August 11th. Sweets is a little jealous, but I keep reminding her, she gets two week breaks while they get 3-5 day breaks. Summer flew by this year, and we were only gone for a week!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

She's Back

Sweets called before 8am to remind me that her dad said I could pick her up today instead of Monday. She was ready to go then, but I told her I would be there after 6pm tonight. They were both glad to see me when I pulled up. Looks like she is staying all this week too. Oh how I wish...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Busy, Busy!

Who ever said summer was down time? Things are crazy busy around here! BB is almost 4 months old (time flys!), and he is marvelous as always. He is still a happy baby and loves to smile, laugh, , "talk", and blow bubbles. This is honestly the easiest placement I have ever had.

The older three all went to the eye doctor yesterday. Both seven year olds need glasses. Sweets needs a stronger prescription; her eyes are worse because she won't wear her glasses at her dad's. Buddy needs glasses for the first time. The doctor stressed to both of them that they have to wear the glasses ALL the time unless they are playing sports or rough housing on the playground.

Buddy is full of energy, as always. We went through his room last weekend and cleaned out a bunch of old toys, some not working, some put away, and some to donate. He hasn't missed any of them, and the sorting revived his interest in many of the remaining toys that he hasn't looked at for months.

I took Sweets back to her dad's at lunchtime today after being with me for three and a half weeks. This is the longest she has stayed continuously with me since she was placed with her dad almost three years ago. It was sure nice not to drive the 80 mile round trip twice each week!!! Her dad came over here on 4th of July and saw her, and I had her call him 2-3 times a week. The plan when I dropped her off was for me to pick her back up Monday evening. Tonight she called and said I'm supposed to pick her up tomorrow night instead. We'll see what happens...

May is growing so mature before my eyes. She is a great help with BB. She is finally conquering reading, despite significant issues with dyslexia. The Harry Potter and Twilight books have held her interest. Praise God for awesome nanny Miss M, who has read all 11 books of these two series to her. This year May has taken each of the Twilight books and reads through it again herself. Tonight we are getting ready for her visit to my sister in the state next door. She is excited about flying on her own for her third annual trip.

I am full swing into a summer class which meets three afternoons a week through July. My final is the week before May and Buddy start school again. In addition, work is super busy, so my weekdays are quite long between it, kids, law school, and homework. We usually do something all together on the weekend, in addition to church, of course.

Well, off to finish laundry and helping May pack!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

3 Months Old

Baby Boy (BB) turned 3 months old last week and went to the doctor for immunizations. He got seven (I didn't realize the count was up so high now!), which included 3 shots and 1 oral. BB was a trooper. He took the oral medication without issue, made it through the first shot and into the second before crying, and stopped crying within 30 seconds of me picking him up afterwards. He was a little fussy for a few days, but returned to his normal happy self quickly. He did great!

I am still in awe at how beautiful and amazing this child is. He is the best baby I have ever been around; he is happy almost all the time. My heart is saddened that his birth mother may never know him. She disappearred right after he entered care. The clock is ticking; if nothing changes, she will lose him. Fortunately for him, he knows love and security, and he is thriving! Thank you God for blessing BB and our family by allowing us to know him.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Placements

When I started law school two years ago, I planned to take a break from foster care for up to a year. After all, I had a 9 and 5 year old at home, plus another 5 and half year old I picked up every weekend. Law school was going to be hard and, as a single parent, I still had to work at least a few hours each week.

I told my agency I would do respite care for other foster families and ended up busy on weekends through September and October that year. In November, God had other plans. A 4 year old I knew needed a place within two weeks. She had originally been placed with my close friend in June and moved to a family-friend of her father's in August. The second placement received a job transfer out of town, and my friend could not take her back. Soooooo, she became my 16th foster child.

Between my friend, Miss M (who became my nanny the summer before law school), and some help from my mom and dad, I made it through my first year of law school. The 4 year old became a 5 year old and moved home to her mom the day before kindergarten started last August. I got to see her again today, and she and her mom are doing great!

So, when my second year of law school started, I went back to my original plan of respite care for at least a semester. When January came, I cut law school back to half time (since I had decided I didn't really want a career change after all) and told my agency I was ready for a placement, opening for a child between 8 and 18 months. My kids wanted a baby, and I was tired of Buddy competing with a foster child too close to his age. By the end of February, I was still waiting for a placement and had opened to one or two children under the age of 3. I couldn't understand why it was taking so long.

In March, I started getting calls for newborns. I didn't see how I could take a newborn, working almost full time and going to law school half time. The only newborn I had ever taken was a sibling to a current placement at the time, and that baby was born drug addicted and screamed for days. She never slept more than 2-3 hours at a time for the three and a half months I had her. I didn't know how I could do that again.

Finally, as the end of March approached, with inspriration from another foster mom's blog site, I decided to trust God and say yes, even to a newborn. The day after Easter, I was selected as the placement for a 12 day old baby boy (BB). It turned out that Miss M was able to care for him during the day that first week (even though she normally had another job while my kids are in school), and her mother (who had just retired and come to AZ to visit her for a while) cared for him days until school was out for my other kids, and Miss M returned to me full-time for the summer. Everything fell into place. I just had to say YES and God lined up the rest.

BB is the most marvelous baby. He is now three months old, sleeps through the night, has the cutest smile and giggle, and has all of us adoring him constantly. What a tremendous blessing to our family, and all because I was willing to step out of my comfort zone and trust God!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chance Encounter

This morning after church we went to a neighborhood grocery store that I rarely frequent. As we were walking down an aisle, a man introduced himself to me and asked whether I was babysitting or had adopted (three kids with me, three races, go figure). I told him that I was both an adoptive and foster parent. He introduced his wife who appeared with a full cart from around the corner and asked if I minded them asking a few questions, as they were seriously considering adopting from foster care. We chatted for about 15 minutes. They seemed very appreciative, and I felt like God must have led me to this grocery store on this morning for this very reason. It is amazing to me how chance things happen, all by His design.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Introduction

I have always loved children. My goal in life was to grow up and be a mom! In elementary school, I gravitated toward babies and young children at family events and church socials. I babysat often as a teenager. In college, I was a junior high youth leader and a children’s choir director at my church. I am the oldest child, with two younger sisters. Kids have always been in my life.

About sixteen years ago, I was successful and established in my career as a software engineer. I had my own home, and I was active at church. But I was single and spending an awful lot of time at work. I began to feel a nudge that there was more to my life than this. Then “the sermon” happened. On a regular Sunday morning, as I sat in the church service, the minister preached about service. I don’t remember the words any more, but the message was that we should serve others as Christ served us. This was not a new concept, but a reminder at just the right moment.

I had been exposed to foster families for several years before that. There were two long-term foster families in our church that received babies through elementary school children. Two little girls in foster care were in my children’s choir, and I had the opportunity to take them out to movies, swimming or the park on weekends. Somehow the seed had been planted long before, but when “the sermon” happened, I felt called to become a foster parent.

Initially I thought I would foster for a couple years or so, until my “knight in shining armor” came along. I figured I could help children in transition until my life changed and I had children of my own. So, in 1994 I became a licensed foster parent. My life did change, but not according to my plan.

Fast forward sixteen years to now. I have been a foster parent to seventeen children ages zero to five. I am still in contact with the families of several. I have found my calling caring and advocating for the children in my home.

In addition, I have weathered the “system” through good and bad. Three years ago, I became so frustrated that I was determined to do more. The result (possibly also a mid-life crisis) was to apply to and enroll in law school, with the plan of advocating for children. Again, life changed, but not as I planned. I am now over half done with law school but don’t currently see a career change to an attorney. I think I can better serve in a volunteer capacity as an attorney while maintaining my career in software engineering (something has to pay the bills, and public service, well you know…).

I have adopted two of my foster children, now age 11 and 7, when they were each about three and a half, and I am “mom” to another 7-year-old who lives with her dad but spends most of her time outside of school days at my home. I am also currently fostering a baby boy that I received when he was 12 days old and who is now almost three months old.

My life can sometimes be described as controlled chaos with all of the balls I throw in the air, but I have become a master at juggling, always keeping in mind that the children are the priority. I hope I can enlighten others who are considering or are actively involved in foster care. It is not an easy road, but it is such a blessing, both to the children and to the foster families. There is always room for another child to love!