Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's Eve! I hope 2008 was wonderful for all of you. I hope 2009 is even better. Jacob, M and I have had a great couple of days. I will post pictures and update in the next couple of days. Isn't life great when you have so much fun you can't update a simple blog?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Portrait Studio

I got professional pictures of Jacob and M done today. They turned out well despite the boys refusing to cooperate. They should be ready in a couple of weeks and I look forward to hanging M's picture on the wall. While I don't know how long he will be here, he is family while he is here. It looks like he will be here for at least several more months. If he does stay forever, I also have pictures of the boys together while they are young. I am waiting to do an official family picture until I know for sure whether or not M is going to stay forever.

M's social worker also wanted a picture of M's new haircut to give to M's mom. I plan to give her copies of some of the pictures. Hopefully, she will be pleased with how much he has grown and how he looks with short hair.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who is this kid?

Jacob has been a different kid today! He is always a good kid but today I was just amazed. He helped me pick up the living room and kitchen. While I had to redirect him a few times to keep him on track, there was no whining, crying or complaining. When I told him it was nap time, he gave me a kiss and said, "Good night Mommy." He then walked off. I went to check on him a few minutes later and found him laying in bed under the covers.

M on the other hand has had a rough day. He is 19 months old now and showing it. He sat on the changing table this morning saying, "I'm naughty." He then started grabbing things he knows he is not suppose to touch and laughing. I'm not quite sure where to go with that except hope he grows out of this stage quickly. Jacob went through a similar one. I don't know how long it lasted but it did eventually go away. Hopefully, it will be soon!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas

I finally have a somewhat quiet moment in the house. The boys are up and playing which is why it is only some what quiet. I thought I would take a moment to explore my new computer and update everyone on our Christmas. You will have to scroll down to the entries I made Christmas day to see some pictures.

I was originally planning on working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I always ask off work for both of those days but wasn't able to get them off this year. I couldn't turn my request slips in until about 3 months after most of the people on my shift since I didn't move to dayshift until May. My parents were going to babysit the boys and I was dreading spending another holiday at work.

Those plans were changed on Tuesday. About 40 minutes before my shift ended, scheduling called and told me I could take Christmas Day and the day after off work. That was if I still wanted them. I quickly stated I would love to have them off. Not only would I be home for Christmas but Jacob's daycare is closed this week and I could spend some time with him and M.

Christmas Eve was okay. The service was fun except that M was very tired and a little hungry. He spent most of the service having temper tantrums in the cry room. Jacob really enjoyed the service though and particpated in children's time as well as getting a box of Christmas cookies at the end of the service.

Christmas Day was much better. The boys really enjoyed the festivities. This was the first year that Jacob really seemed to understand what was going on. He is normally fairly slow to wake up in the morning. I told him Santa had come as I left the room to get M out of his crib. Jacob jumped out of bed and beat me to the living room. Santa didn't disappoint them. Jacob received the firetruck he really wanted and M received the megablocks and Disney cars he has been eyeing at the store.

We went to my parents' house to open presents and discovered this was the year of duplicate gifts. I had made lists of gift ideas for all of us and left it for my family. Each list had about 15 ideas on it but apparently we all think alike. M received the same outfit I had bought him to wear Christmas Eve. Jacob had the exact same outfit from my parents and from me. I had been hinting that I needed new pots and pans and received sets from my brother and my parents. M also received megablocks from Santa and from my brother. It was fun to laugh at all of the duplicate gifts and play with the boys' new toys. Who new Playskool's ball popper could keep kids and adults entertained for long periods of time?

The rest of the day was fun and pretty much uneventful as Christmas should be. I ventured out to buy batteries for the ball popper (I had bought the wrong size earlier) and found I was not the only one appreciating that Walgreens was open. We had Christmas dinner at noon and then it was time for some very short naps. My mom and I took Jacob to a movie in the afternoon while M stayed home with my dad and brother.

I spent Friday doing my part to stimulate the economy. The experts weren't kidding when they said prices have been slashed. I returned the duplicate clothes and pots and pans and helped the boys spend their Christmas money. I also stopped and bought a new computer. I have bought things from this store before and never had them willing to cut prices just to have me take their products. That is what they did this time. When I stated I wouldn't pay as much as they wanted for the computers in stock, they knocked another $150 off to get me to buy one that day. I gladly accomodated them and accepted the deep discounts to get a computer that is virus free and much faster than my old one. I now plan to get the old computer fixed and let the teenagers upload their programs and play on it.

It was a very nice holiday and I am enjoying spending time with my family. I really enjoyed having J and B over yesterday to shop, play on the computer and then have dinner at my parents house. The laughter and giggles went on for over 2 hours last night before I told everyone it was time to go home. I don't know if my parents enjoyed the noise and activity as much as they claimed but is was fun to see everyone having so much fun.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas! We have had a wonderful Christmas. The children even took duplicate gifts (there were 3 of them) in stride. Jacob's favorite gift seems to be the moon sand. M really likes his ball popper.

Jacob enjoyed the children's Christmas Eve service last night while I watched it from the cry room with M. We went to bed on time but made sure the bedroom door was shut so Santa wouldn't accidentally wake us up by saying "Ho! Ho!" in the doorway. Where do these kids get this stuff?!?

Santa came as promised and the reigndeer ate some of the oats Jacob left for them. Lunch was at Grandma's as well as gift opening. We are off to take short naps now before a movie this afternoon.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. It is so nice to spend it with family!

Christmas Pictures

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Final Christmas Preparations

It is Christmas Eve and I am almost ready for it. Jacob, M and I finished up our family preparations last night. Jacob got his hair cut again so it looks nice. I found a new outfit for M to wear to church tonight. I found a pink toy house for Jacob. I gave it to him last night telling him that Santa would not be brining one. I know. Jacob is spoiled but as long as he continues to behave well, be polite and generous, and has some understanding that we can't always get what we want, I don't think it is a big deal. Of course, he won't be getting many new toys after tomorrow for quite awhile.

My computer at home is acting up and I hope to get it fixed next week (or buy a new one if Santa is good to me). I hope to be better about posting pictures regularly at that time. I also hope to use my parents' computer to post Christmas pictures in the next few days.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Panic

I just realized that I forgot to help M buy a Christmas present for Jacob. With only one more evening to go, I better get it done tonight. I have to work tomorrow (and Christmas day) so that only leaves me about an hour after work today. I guess I will be going to the store in my work clothes again. Oh, well. It will be worth it on Christmas.

Jacob made reigndeer food at school yesterday. It is oats and glitter. According to the note on the food, the glitter helps the reigndeer find the food and our home. Jacob is concerned that Santa might break a window when he lands. I promised him that I would fix the window if Santa breaks it.

Jacob is still convinced Santa will be bringing us a new home. I keep telling him that Santa doesn't bring houses. He suggested that he and I build one after Christmas then. I wish it was that easy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Big Sister

On the same day as we said goodbye to E, Jacob, M and I met a new friend P. P is a seven year old girl. She is my new little sister through Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She is the same age and in the same grade as my first little sister, J. I met J eight years ago.

I took my kids and P to Chuck E Cheese last night as our first official outing. It went well. P seemed to enjoy helping Jacob on the rides and they both had fun playing games. M was a bit more of a challenge and took a lot more of my attention. He was a normal one year old. It was a great time and we are looking forward to getting together again next week.

A Holiday Beginning

Jacob, M and I began our holiday celebrations last weekend. E was with us all weekend and a joy. The behaviors I was concerned about last spring are completely gone. While she is far from perfect adn still has some challenges, she is doing much better.

It snowed about 10 inches on Friday. M played inside (in a safe confined space) while E and Jacob helped me remove the snow from the driveway. The roads were clear by noon so we headed off to McDonald's to burn the rest of our energy. By the time we left, E was falling asleep at the table and Jacob and M were just as tired. Naptime was a breeze and we spent Friday evening relaxing at home and playing.

Saturday was a very busy day. We started by watching a free concert celebrating Hannukah. While none of our families are Jewish, I thought it would be good for the kids and me to learn a little about the Jewish culture. We all had a great time and learned all kinds of fun things. The kids enjoyed listening to the music and dancing. I enjoyed watching the dancing latkes. Who knew potato pancakes could dance?

Saturday afternoon we braved more snow to visit Santa at the mall. Jacob and M had their picture taken. Jacob asked Santa for a new house for mom again. I keep trying to assure him that our house is fine and that he should ask for something for him. He keeps insisting that he wants to buy me a larger house. Someday we will get that bigger house it just won't be now.

We left Santa and headed out to church. The snow was continuing to fall but that just made it the perfect festive mood for some Christmas carols. Jacob had sung Ruldoph the Red Nosed Reindeer at his school performance on Thursday and E had recently learned Jingle Bells. Church was also fun. E had never been to Church School before and loved it. She came home all excited and telling me about the birth of Jesus. She appeared a little confused at the prayers but sat quietly and even bowed her head for the last one. I really hope that E's forever family takes her to church so that she can continue to learn and enjoy it.

Sunday morning we went to my parents' church for some Christmas activities. Once again, we had to battle cold and snow to get there. The kids were able to make Christmas crafts and then played in the nursery. I attended services and enjoyed them. Saturday night services are contemporary while Sunday morning is more traditional. I really have fun at the Saturday night services but enjoy the relaxing atmosphere at the traditional services as well. It's also fun to see all of our friends at both churches. I get so much support at both places.

E left Sunday afternoon and we already miss her. I assured her that I love her and will always love her. I have told her and her current foster mom that she is always welcome at my house. I have told human services that I would welcome her back as my daughter if they decide I am the right home for her in the future. In the meantime, I have volunteered to provide respite services for her new foster home anytime they want. Now, it is in God's hands. I can only pray that wherever she goes she is loved and finds a permanent forever family soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Swimming Lesson Not Learned

Jacob had his final swimming lesson for this session last night. He is even more confident in the water than when he started. He kept letting go of the railing and trying to swim on his own. Although the teacher and I kept telling him to stop, he refused. Finally, she turned her back to help another student when Jacob let go and slipped off the platform the kids stand on. As he swam under the water, the teacher began to quickly move to grab him. At the same time two other preschoolers let go and now three of the four kids were underwater. Before the parents could even react, the teacher had all three kids scooped up and safely back on the railing.

All three kids began crying. The teacher quickly checked them over and told them they were fine. Jacob continued to cry and I was just getting ready to walk over and try to calm him down. Then the teacher handed him the toy cup he had dropped and he was fine again. After class I learned that the other two boys were crying because they were scared. Jacob was crying because he dropped the toy and he wasn't sure the teacher would return it. He still has no fear and has not learned to hang on. He definitelly needs to continue swimming lessons before he hurts himself!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Celebration

Today was the Christmas program at the church. I didn't have a very good seat so I don't have any good pictures to share. It was a wonderful performance. Jacob was in the children's choir. He did an excellent job standing and sitting at the appropriate times and singing with the other children. I was very pleased and proud of him.

After the Christmas program, I took our friends J and B on our annual Christmas shopping trip. Normally I let them pick a mall within 5 hours of home. This year money is a little tighter so I gave them a choice of two outlet malls within an hour of home. I packed the car full of strollers and children and we were off. We shopped for over two hours and left with more things than we intended to buy. The above pictures were taken at the end of the afternoon when we were ready to go home.

Although I spent more than I planned, it wasn't bad. Jacob is very close to outgrowing his 3T clothes. I don't have very many 4T clothes yet so we got some pants, sweaters and pajamas. Jacob loves to wear sweaters and although they are a little more expenses they last longer than the long sleeve t-shirts. M has outgrown the clothes I bought him earlier this Fall but for now he is stuck with Jacob's old clothes. I do buy him a few of his own outfits but he really doesn't care what he wears and doesn't know where they come from. Of course, I will buy him more of his own clothing if he is still living with me when he is old enough to notice he is wearing Jacob's old clothes.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Morning Greeting

I was running late as usual this morning. Jacob is on antibiotics for a sinus infection and woke up complaining that his head still hurts. I got him some Tylenol and his antibiotic and told him we had to hurry and wake up M. Jacob ran ahead of me and I heard him trying to wake M up.

I walked into M's room to find Jacob standing next to a sleeping M. Jacob very excitedly was saying, "M someone's here for you! Look who came to see you!" I walked over and gently rubbed M's back to wake him up. As soon as M's eyes opened Jacob said, "I told you there's someone special here to see you. It's me! It's your big brother!" M smiled and giggled at him and we were off to a very good start to the day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Welcome back E

Some of you may remember I had a foster daughter, E, last Spring. She is changing foster homes again and needed a place to stay for a couple days. I told her current foster mom she could come to my home. She will be here next week for a couple days also.

It was fun seeing E again. Jacob does miss her and they did have fun playing together. I really hope she finds a permanent home soon. She is such a great kid and I hate that she can't just stay here. She will be moving on to a new foster home in about a week and we most likely will not see her again. I will miss her though and pray for her often

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fragile Children

Jacob overheard my mom and me talking about driving careful in the snow today. From the backseat I hear:

"Mommy and Grandma be careful! We're fragile!"

How right he is.

Snow Day!

Jacob and I woke up to the ground covered in snow. I don't know the totals yet but I am guessing about 7 inches of snow. The schools in the area are all closed which means his daycare is also closed. This wouldn't be a huge deal since I was planning on keeping him home today but I forgot his snowpants at school. I tried putting garbage bags around his legs and tying them with garbage bags. Those are the white things around his legs in the above photos. It didn't work very well though. They kept sliding down his legs even with the rubber bands.

Jacob and I finished the driveway and turned on the news. It stated that most of the snow had fallen and that the main roads were improving. I got M and Jacob dressed and we headed off to shop for new snow pants. We had to go to three stores but we found some! We will be shoveling the driveway one more time and playing outside again later today.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Some Promised Recent Photos

Jacob's Christmas Wish

Jacob has been telling everyone he wants a truck or moon sand for Christmas. That all changed yesterday. His preschool teacher went around the room and asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas. The kids all gave standard answers. Except Jacob. Jacob's daycare director had tears in her eyes when she told me about the list.

So what does Jacob want? A NEW HOUSE FOR HIS MOMMY.

Jacob was adament about it even after we got home last night. Here is the conversation we had.

M: Jacob, what do you really want for Christmas?

J: A house for you Mommy.

M: I think Santa only brings toys. He cannot bring houses.

J: Can M get a toy house then?

M: Maybe but don't you want something for you?

J: No. Just a house for you and a toy for M.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

An Eel!

Jacob is now an eel! He passed the pike swimming level to move up to eel. I spoke to his teacher after class. She agreed that Jacob makes us both nervous in the pool and that he needs swimming lessons before he kills himself. Pike is the beginning swimming level for young children. At two different lessons, Jacob was warned that he would go home if he kept swimming away from the teacher and class with his little blue flotation device around his waist! He is very comfortable in the water and can swim for about 4 feet. He has no fear which is a good and bad thing. Especially when he can't touch the bottom! At least I know that he can float until I can jump in if he ever does decide to jump in over his head without an adult in the water.

First Sentences

M has just started putting words together. He turned 18 months at the end of November so his languange skills are really blossoming. His first 3 word sentence (or at least that I heard) was "I love you" while turning to hug my legs. His second three word sentence was about a week later. He told my dad, "I want cheese." Not a bad start.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A New Haircut!

Oh, I wish I could post M's picture. I can't though so I will just do my best to describe it. M's hair was below his shoulders in the back and below his nose in the front. I have been asking the social workers if I can cut his hair for several weeks. They kept telling me to wait hoping that things in his case would improve.

I finally got permission to cut his hair last week. Actually, I received permission for a light trim. That is what I told the hair stylist. She said she would just even it up. Well, after all of the layers of baby hair were evened up, it was a traditional boys haircut and very short. The social worker will probably not be happy but it is done. M looks so much cleaner and so handsome! I can now see his cute ears and blue eyes!

Holiday Weekend Recap

First off, I apologize for not posting any pictures. My camera broke and I put it somewhere safe so I could use the memory card out of it. Now I can't figure out what safe place I put it in. I bought a new camera but won't be able to post pictures until I get that memory card.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. I had to work on Thursday and Saturday but celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday evening. Jacob had fun watching Grandpa and Uncle Chuck cut the turkey. We had a wonderful family dinner. M and Jacob got to spend the entire day with Grandpa and Uncle Chuck which they thought was wonderful. Uncle Chuck stated that while he does not want to do a lot of babysitting, his new girlfriend will. I just may have to take her up on that offer some day.

Friday was my 31st birthday even if I did tell everyone I was still 28. I took the day off work and did my part to help stimulate the economy. I wasn't the only one. The stores were packed. Other than a little annoyance when we got celebrated from one the teenagers I mentor, J,it went well. J had told me where she was going but I didn't hear her so it was a 40 minute search through a very busy mall to find her.

Jacob saw Santa for the first time this year. M stayed with the teenagers. It was so crowded and overstimulating that I was a little worried about how he would react. I plan to take both boys back when it is quieter and get their pictures taken. That is if they cooperate. Jacob told Santa he wanted a truck. I was happy Santa didn't promise it to him just said he would "See what I can do."

We had dinner with my parents and brother Friday evening. Jacob and M gave me some flannel sheets for my bed. Jacob also gave me a very pretty heart necklace my friend helped him buy earlier in the day.

I also received a phone call from Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I have been waiting for a new little sister. While I love mentoring J and B, they are teenagers now. I have been matched with them for eight years and we have a family relationship. I will still be matched with them but wanted a younger child to do younger child things with. It is a chance for Jacob and M to help me do volunteer work. I will find out later this week if P's parents approved the match and will update about her then.

We finished the weekend with more shopping yesterday. Whew! I got a good start on it but still have a long way to go. I may have to wait until I get paid again though. I think I'll just call work now and see if I can pick up some overtime to pay for the things we bought!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Jacob Is Thankful For

The kids made paper turkeys during Sunday School last week. The teacher then wrote what the child was thankful for on the turkey. One of Jacob's friends stated she was thankful for toys. Another friend stated she was thankful for Mommy. Jacob was thankful for....TURKEYS!

Mouth Pain

After 5 days, Jacob's mouth is slowly starting to look better. He didn't wake up once last night which is the first time since this started. He didn't even want any numbing medication this morning. The gum still looks red on top but it doesn't look quite as swollen or red on the sides. It is a huge improvement. I left Tylenol at school to make sure Jacob can eat lunch today. They are having their Thanksgiving feast today and he will have lots of food. Jacob did want cereal for dinner last night but I think that was just a choice and not due to any mouth pain. I am glad it is finally getting better. He was really miserable for a few days.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Doctors and Dentists

This week has been a challenge medically in our household. M came down with his 4th ear infection in 12 weeks. It is very frustrating! Two of the ear infections followed colds. One was discovered when he had pink eye and the other one was related to teething. The doctors aren't concerened and my social worker assures me it is just the way M's body is. I have heard from other parents that their children outgrew the constant ear infections after they stopped teething. I hope so! M is in the middle of teething and won't be teething for more than a few more months.

Jacob started complaining last night about a tooth hurting when he ate. I took him to the dentist and he has a sore on his gums behind his tooth. Nothing major but it is making eating a challenge. He tried eating stuffing and chicken casserole but that proved to hurt too much to eat more than a few bites. He is currently eating a large bowl of cereal. That seems to be working much better. I'm not sure his nutritional needs will be met with just cereal but I'm not really sure what the alternative is. At least it gives him some nutrition and energy.

7:30 AM!

M slept in until 7:30 this morning! Jacob slept until shortly after 7. That may not sound late to some of you but it is in this house. I normally get up at 4:50 AM and the boys wake up around 5:30. This is the first time that M has really slept in since he arrived. Maybe he is beginning to learn how to enjoy just relaxing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Seventeen Kids

Jacob and I were watching a show on TV last night about a family with 17 kids. I cannot imagine having that many children. I have one sibling and always wished we had one or two more children. I know that my family is not complete yet but I think seventeen children is a bit much for me. People regularly ask me how many children I want to have and the answer is that I don't know yet. Maybe one more. Possibly two more but definitelly not 15 more!

Last night Jacob announced that we need more kids in the family. I asked him how many and he stated seventeen like the family on TV. I told him that I thought that might be too many for me to handle. He then stated, "Three Jacobs!" Wow! I love my son but I think one Jacob is definitelly enough.

So now we have one Jacob and one M. I would love to have a girl someday but not for at least another year and maybe longer. I admit that M is pretty settled now and that I have the itch to add to the family again. I just think it would be in everyone's best interest to wait awhile. Two toddlers is enough for this mom right now! It is National Adoption Month and I offer my support to anyone going through the adoption process right now. I just think that fostering M and waiting to see where his case goes is enough for right now. Maybe next year I can begin to think about another adoption.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Stunning Conversation

Jacob and I talk frequently about adoption and his adoption story. We also talk about other children's stories and he knows that our foster children are with us because their parents' cannot take care of them. The following conversation is not one that came from Jacob's personal story (which I won't share here) but rather his general understanding of adoption. Over the past few weeks he has enjoyed playing "Mommy" and having me be the baby. M is always "Daddy" and also plays a loving role in Jacob's fantacies. Last night the story took a slightly different twist. Here is how it started:

J (said in a loving and soft voice): Baby, your mommy died.

M: Oh, that makes me sad!

J: No! I'm your mommy now! You have 2 mommies.

M: I have two mommies who love me?

J: Yes! One died but I am here forever. You have 2 mommies who love you.

I guess he does understand adoption after all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foster Care Appreciation Dinner

I attended a foster parent appreciation dinner earlier this week. First, I was touched by how many businesses had sent door prizes and donated money. We received a beautiful quilt made by someone in the community. I didn't realize that their are people who make these beautiful quilts just to give them to the foster families.

For anyone who has considered becoming a foster parent, I urge you to look into it. These children really need the love a stability a foster family can provide. The ultimate goal is for the children to be reunited with their parents. It is wonderful when that can happen. The children will remember the love you gave them long after they return home. For the children who do not get to go home again, they will benefit from the love you provide them whether it be until they find a forever family or long after the adoption is finalized and they become your children.

M's case is progressing but slowly. It will most likely be about a year before any definite plans can be made for his long term future. Whether it be as my son or returning to his mother. Either way, I am enjoying being his foster mom now.

Preparing For Winter

Jacob, M and I have spent a few days outside preparing for Winter. We are still a long ways from being ready and yet winter is very close. We have raked but you can't tell from the yard. I was warned by a well-meaning family member that the grass might die if the leaves aren't raked. So what's the problem? That just means less mowing next year right?

I am already looking forward to Spring. Maybe it will be a short winter.

More Birthday Pictures

Here are some additional pictures from Grandpa's birthday party. Jacob was really proud of the cake. We aren't sure why it didn't rise but is still tasted good. More importantly, Grandpa and Jacob had a lot of fun baking it together.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Horrible Law!

The State of Arkansas passed a law during the elections stating that only married couples can adopt of foster children. Basically the law makers and citizens have stated it is better for children to remain in overcrowded foster homes or abusive homes than with single parents. I cannot imagine my children not having homes simply because I am single. Our family is a wonderful family filled with love and fun. Yes, there are challenges but there are challenges in every family.

My children may not have a "traditional" family but they do have one filled with love. They have a stable home where there is no conflict between parents. They don't have to worry as mom and dad fight in the next room that this time Dad really is leaving. They won't ever know the pain of being a child of divorced parents and having to explain to friends that they are with their other parent this weekend and cannot come over to play.

To the lawmakers and citizens of Arkansas, is it really better for a child to live without a family than in a single parent family? Is it really better to tell the children of single parents in your state (no matter how they became children of single parents that their families are not as desirable or valid as another family?

Really! Of all the hurtful laws in this country this is one of the worst. I hope that the people of Arkansas force their lawmakers to reconsider this law and change it soon! I know just by looking at listings of foster children waiting for new families that they need all the loving homes they can get.

I have written a letter to the governor of Arkansas and urge all of you to do the same.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

First Mom or First Lady

That is the headline on a story for CNN. I did not read the story but do know this. Just the fact that it is a title shows that we still have a long ways to go in equality for women. The fact that their is still reference to women having to choose between career and family. Yes, it is a balancing act but it is the same balancing act men have. Yet we don't see people question if they are up to the challenge.

Michelle Obama and her children bring excitement to the white house. It has been a long time since we had children that young living there. It will be fun to watch them grow up while at the same time respecting their privacy (I hope). Michelle Obama will have to balance her duties as first lady with those of being a mother just as Barack Obama will have to balance his duties as president with being a father. At the end of the day, they will have found a way to do it. Just as presidents and first ladies before them have and just as millions of Americans find the balance between their own lives and work.

My hope is that the Obamas will be able to show the world that the balance between work and family, while sometimes difficult, can be done. I hope the media treats the Obama children with the same respect they gave Chelsea Clinton. That the girls are able to grow up with a sense of normalcy and that the public and press allow them to have some privacy.

Work and family can be balanced. Yes, there are days I wish I could spend more time with my children. Yet, I know my children are also learning valuable lessons. They know that women can hold the same jobs as men and can have families and careers. By having male daycare teachers and babysitters, they learn that men can be good parents and be loving and nurturing. They know that adults are suppose to get up every morning and go to work just like they go to school. They understood that I cannot stay home and play because we need to work hard to earn money for food and shelter. They also know that at the end of the day they have a loving, safe home to come to. A home where they will be shown unconditional love while being taught the values that we believe in.

I hope that Mrs. Obama shows the world that it is not one or the other. I hope that during my lifetime people will see that men and women do not have to choose to have a career or a family. For those people who choose to stay home with their children (and are able to), I think it is wonderful. It works well for them. It does not work well for me and I do not believe my children suffer for it. We are all parents first and our jobs second. But that doesn't mean that either one has to suffer. Just balanced.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

School Update

It has been a busy week. I have been waiting to post this until I knew how Jacob would do. About 3 weeks ago, I sat down with his daycare director to discuss some concerns I had. Jacob will miss the cut-off for kindergarten by 21 days in 2 years. I am almost positive that I want to wait until he is 5 almost 6 (three years) to start him in kindergarten. On the other hand, I have seen how far ahead some of the children in Ethiopia are academically at his age. Those children how are lucky enough to attend school in Ethiopia begin at age 3. The 3 year olds that travelled home with us were amazing. Most of them could recognize the letters in English, were beginning to speak some English. It was clear that children that age could learn much more than we typically teach them in America.

I left Ethiopia with the realization that I want Jacob exposed to as much as possible at his age. I want him to be challenged but not frustrated and the material to be available when he is ready to learn it. I believe that children are hardwired to learn at very young ages and will learn naturally when they are ready if given the opportunity. My goal is to make sure Jacob is exposed to the material he is ready developmentally to learn.

Over the past few months, Jacob has made huge advances acadmeically. He can count past 10, can find Ethiopia and the US on a globe, understands the concept of following lines on a map to go somewhere and is beginning to recognize letters. I really felt that his restlessnesss in class recently is because he is bored being 3-9 months older than the other children.

The director agreed to try moving him to the 3 year old preschool room. He did great and loved it. He has begun to trace his name and recognize the letters in his name. He seems to be ready to be exposed to the preschool academics and that my intuition was right. I would prefer he repeat the 4 year old program where the teachers will expose him to material at his level than the 2 year old program with very little academics. So the move seems to be working out well. He officially moved last Monday and enjoyed his first week in the new room.

Now, to figure out what to do about kindergarten....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congratulations President Elect Obama!

No matter what your political beliefs. Last night was a day to celebrate. People from generations who can remember segregation and the battle for civil rights came together with people who have only read about it in history books to elect the first African American man to president of the United States of America.

Over the past several months, we have seen the hatred and racism are still alive in America. I see it on a regular basis at my job from both the people I supervise and the people I work with. I am thankful that my suspicions are correct. The racism that I see there is not as strong throughout the rest of the country and even my city. Things have improved quickly over the past few decades and it will continue to improve.

No one knows what kind of president Mr. Obama will be. While the days months and years ahead will determine his quality as a president, today we can celebrate this victory for all Americans. The world and the country have changed for the greater today. President-Elect Obama may be the first president who is classified as a "minority" and he won't be the last. The doors to the presidency are now open to all American (or at least those born American).

Congratulations President Obama and thank you for breaking down barriers for all of my children.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thank You Sesame Street

I took Jacob to see Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music last night. Jacob was very excited about seeing Elmo and kept asking what Elmo was doing while we were driving to the show. The show started and Bert and Ernie came out. Jacob immediately got a very concerned look on his face. While all the other children clapped, Jacob asked "Where's Elmo?" I assured him Elmo would be out soon.

About 1 minute later, Elmo took the stage. Jacob couldn't contain the excitement. His entire face lit up and his grin was huge. He began giggling, laughing and kicking his feet. This continued for about the next 10 minutes. Many of the children around us had grins on their faces but none compared to the happiness Jacob showed.

Jacob loved the entire show. At one point, he knocked over his soda and was a little concerned. He shouldn't have been though. There was a woman whose only job was to walk around with a mop and bucket and clean up spills. Jacob spent the rest of the show singing, dancing or just quietly watching. During intermission he told me to have them turn the lights off so the show could start again. He didn't want to wait for 15 minutes to see more Elmo!

It was a great night. We got home with a new Elmo doll, grins on our faces and very tired. Jacob was still excited this morning and told his teacher about the show. Thank you Sesame Street for making my son so very happy and giving us a great show and evening.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


This was the first time since I was in high school that I did not have to work on Halloween and was able to stay home and enjoy it. Well, we didn't actually stay home. I was reminded how much fun trick-or-treating is. Jacob was a police officer so that he could "help people." M was a dragon although he didn't really like wearing the costume and refused to wear the hood with the dragon's head. He still had a great time.

We started the night out on our street. We were a little early so many houses hadn't started yet but were able to stop at about half of them. Jacob rang the door bells and remembered to say trick-or-treat and thank you appropriately. M and Jacob had difficulty remembering to only take one or two pieces of candy but were good when stopped.

After our street, we stopped at a couple of friends' houses and then were off to my parents' street. Jacob went to a woman's door and was greeted by a friendly face from church. Jacob knows J well. She said hi to him and he quickly told her his American and Ethiopian names. He then asked if he could go inside. She said ok but I reminded him that we still had several houses to go. He was definitelly making the "political rounds" and politics may be in his future.

Although the boys were both tired at the end of the evening, they had a great time. I learned how much fun it is to just see my kids have fun and walk with them. They will be on sugar highs for the next few days but it was worth it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grandpa's Birthday

Our family celebrated my dad's birthday yesterday. It was an event that Jacob was really looking forward to. I think my dad was also excited about his birthday especially when Jacob told him he was turning 3. He really turned 61 and when Jacob heard that he told me Grandpa was old. Since you are only as old as you feel, I would say Grandpa is somewhere between 3 and 61. He is in better physical shape than I am and very healthy.

Jacob and I were planning to bake a birthday cake for Grandpa Tuesday night. It was going to be a surprise but Jacob had actually told Grandpa about it a couple weeks ago. It can be very hard for a three year old to keep such a big secret so everyone was planning on having cake after dinner. Tuesday evening I finished cleaning up dinner and noticed that M was cranky and running a slight fever. I took him to urgent care and by the time we left it was already after 7:00. We still needed to fill his prescription so it was beginning to look like baking a cake was not an option for the evening.

Jacob was very tired of waiting by the time we left urgent care and I was a little tired of trying to entertain two young children with very few toys. I drove over to my parents' house and confessed to Grandpa that we would not be able to bake him a birthday cake after all. Jacob asked if he could stay there while I took M to the pharmacy. Grandpa quickly agreed and I left while they were deciding whether or not to eat cheese puffs (a snack I never buy so it is a real treat).

I came back about 45 minutes later to see Jacob and Grandpa playing in the living room. In the oven was a birthday cake they had made together. Grandpa told me that Jacob and M were the best gifts he has received and the cake is just a bonus. Jacob and I frosted the cake before dinner last night and everyone enjoyed it after we ate.

Jacob also picked out a Dora and Diego birthday card complete with flaps to lift up for Grandpa. The boys had a great time giving the card to Grandpa and finding the prizes underneath.

At the end of the night, it was obvious that Dad was right. His birthday was great even if he didn't get the cake already made. The look of pride as Jacob showed off his cake and card was enough of a present for everyone.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Swimming Lessons

Jacob had his first swimming lesson last night. He was a little nervous on the way to the pool but warmed up quickly when he saw the other children. I was standing nearby in case he needed a little encouragement. It was obvious that he was the smallest and youngest child in the class.

I allowed Jacob to play in the small family pool for about 5 minutes before class started. I called it his warm up time. He had a look of pure joy and excitement on his face. The anxiety disappeared as soon as he did his first flop in the pool and his face got wet.

After his lesson was over, he proudly told me he wants blue goggles for Christmas. I told him I would add it to his Christmas list.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Congratulations Uncle Chuck!

Yesterday was a very special day for Uncle Chuck. Uncle Chuck is my "little brother." I used to tease him that even if he grew bigger than me (which he did) he would always be my little brother. Well, Uncle Chuck is well on his way to passing me in the education department. Jacob and I are very proud of him.

Uncle Chuck threw his cane over the goal post before yesterday's homecoming football game. The legend is that all third year (class of 2009) law students run across the field and throw a cane over the goal post. If they catch their canes, they will win their first case. I was working the football game but allowed to leave my post to watch him. It was wonderful. He didn't catch his cane but it doesn't matter. I am told his first case was last Summer as an intern and he lost it. So he is ready to win his next case now. Of course, let me know if you know of any law firms looking to hire a new young lawyer. Preferably near here so that we can still see Uncle Chuck often.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Difficult Decision

I am being faced with a difficult decision. There is a 5 year old autistic boy in Ethiopia who needs a home. I met this boy 1 1/2 years ago and know that he is a loving boy with mild autism. I know his problems and prognosis. The autism is not the problem. The problem is that I am $5000 short of his adoption fees. It drives me nuts to know that this boy may not ever have a family simply because of money. I could continue to save money but he is continuing to get older. I believe it is in his best interest to come home this Spring or Summer so that he can start kindergarten in the Fall as a 6 year old. I know the special education teacher at my local school and he is already speaking some English. I know he would be a wonderful addition to our family.

There are other obstacles besides the money. The biggest is M's placement. I would need to convince the adoption agency and social worker that allowing M's placement to continue would be alright. His future placement is uncertain but I definitelly don't want to have him moved or give up the opportunity to adopt him for another child. M is a wonderful member of the family. I do believe I could find someone to work with me on this obstacle since the child in Ethiopia is having a difficult time finding a home and I have already met him.

So that really does leave me to the money. I will pray that the money becomes available or that this little boy finds a family soon. Your prayers for this young man would also be greatly appreciated. If I am not the family for him, I pray that the right family finds him soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I was tagged by Sharon.

I was tagged last week but my internet and phone stopped working in the middle of writing this post. According to the phone repair person, a squirrel ate the wire outside causing the outage. I apologize to anyone who read the beginning of the post and wondered why it was not finished.

Here are 7 things you may not know about me:

1) I always dreamed of having 3-4 children. I now think 3 will be the magic number.

2) I always knew I would adopt. I played "orphanage" as a child. My friends would come and adopt my dolls.

3) My favorite soda is Diet Dr. Pepper. I think I am addicted to it.

4) My favorite color is pink.

5) I have been mentoring the same children for 8 years.

6) My favorite sport is baseball. I love the Cubs and the Brewers.

7) I have lived in the same city since 1982.


I will tag more people if I can think of some that I know well enough.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Halloween Preview

I blogged last year about how many Halloween parties and events there are out there every year. I had been concerned that Jacob would miss out on Halloween since I was working that evening. This year I will be home for Halloween but the parties go on anyway. Last night was the first one of the season. Jacob, M and I met our good friends G and K at the YMCA for some Halloween fun. Jacob loves his police officer costume.
It was a fun evening although M is not quite old enough. I briefly considered hiring a babysitter but didn't. I don't really have a lot of extra money right now. Jacob and I are going to an Ethiopian dinner tonight and M will stay home with a sitter then. I didn't really feel right leaving M home with a sitter while Jacob and I went out two nights in a row. I am struggling to find the right balance between letting Jacob and I do things he is old enough for and will enjoy and also being home with M. I think bringing him was the right decision even if it did mean I spent most of my time chasing him and we did leave a little earlier than we would have otherwise.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Free Time

Ok. I am at a loss. The social worker stopped by this morning to check on M. She was very happy with his progress over the past 3 weeks. He really has come a long way and is more trusting and patient than when he first arrived. Jacob and I spent a couple hours last night cleaning the main living areas of the house and I vacuumed this morning.

After the social worker left, it was time for M to go to daycare. I am off work today but he still has to go. There is a rule that children must attend daycare at least 20 hours every week to keep getting funding. He was home sick on Monday and home yesterday for some special time with me and for medical appointments. As a result, he has to go today to preserve his funding.

I was planning on keeping Jacob home for some special Mommy and Jacob time. He was all for it yesterday but not today. He announced this morning that he wanted to go to school and play with the kids. I convinced him to at least have breakfast with me after we dropped M off at school. He agreed but I am pretty sure it was only to keep me happy. It was still nice though.

Now I am home in a quiet kid-free house. It is clean enough to last a few days. It could always be cleaner and there are always chores to do but nothing that has to be done right away. I have the television turned to adult drama shows and plan to take a long nap.

Tonight the boys and I are going to a halloween party so I need to get their costumes ready. Otherwise, I am free of mandatory chores for the first time in a very long time. I used to hate time with nothing to do. Since becoming a parent, I now really enjoy these quiet days. Probably because they come so rarely now. I just don't know what to do with myself other than take a nap.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dollars For His Pocket

Jacob is on a quest. He needs candy. Well, he thinks he is in desperate need of some Starburst candies. He has spent quite a bit of time staring at the candy ad from last weeks ads and telling me which bags have his beloved Starbursts. I don't buy very much candy or other junk food. I keep telling him that Halloween is just a couple of weeks away and he will get candy then. He thinks I am being completely unfair and that he needs that candy now! Last night he told Grandma he needed candy. When she just laughed he tried a different approach. He went to Grandpa and stated, "My pocket needs dollars Grandpa." Unfortunately that did not work either so he is back to staring at ads and wishing he had some candy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Warm Fall Weekend

Last weekend was a beautiful Fall weekend and probably one of the last warm ones we will have. I took Jacob and M to a nearby playtime farm. There were animals at the petting area, play houses and school rooms, tractor barrell rides, hayrides and of course pumpkins. I learned last year that it is very expensive to pick a pumpkin at the farm. To get a large pumpkin at the farm, I will pay at least $8. I can get a larger one at the grocery store for $3.00. I did allow Jacob to pick out a small pumpkin for about $2.00.
Overall, it was a great day. It was 84 degrees outside and sunny. The kids were tired from having very short naps in the car but otherwise had a great time. M was just getting over a minor illness but did well considering that. I really miss these days out in the sun during those long Winter months. Hopefully, the Winter will go as quickly as the Summer did.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lessons On Babies

Our friend J babysat last night while I worked the football game. I have always been a little jealous of the teenagers when they spend the night and do not have to get up everytime a little kid has a bad dream or just wakes up before the sun. I got home last night a little after 11 and jokingly told Jand B that it was their turn to get up with the kids. I didn't realize at the time that J has one of those dolls that has to be fed and cries like a real baby for her class at school. It was up at least 3 times last night and I heard her trying to quiet it down. I started to get up once to help her but quickly realized it was not my turn! My kids slept in until 6:30 which is an hour later than normal. I appreciated the extra hour of sleep! They also woke up much less cranky than a normal morning. Two small blessings to be thankful for.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Police Officers and Garbage Collectors

Jacob has been learning about community helpers the past two weeks in school. I went to his class two weeks ago to talk about my job as a police officer. His friend's father visited last week to talk about firefighters. Yesterday he was excited to see a police officer at dinner. Since I have worked with the officers regularly and know him well, I took him over to say hi. Jacob immediately became shy and didn't want to say anything to him. Officer Howard was nice though and Jacob gave him a high five before we left.

When we got back to the table, Jacob and my dad began talking about the firefighter at his school. Dad asked him if he wanted to be a firefighter when he gets bigger. Jacob stated he didn't. He states he wants to be a police officer. He states he wants a job where he can help people so he will be a police officer for Halloween as well. That's my son! I was very flattered and proud of him.

Of course, Jacob is 3 and has plenty of time to decide. He insists that he wants to be a police officer but he also wants to be a garbage collector. I'm not sure how he can do both jobs at once but he could certainly do one for a few years and then change careers. I would be proud to have a civil servant as a son.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Houskeeping Tips

Ok. I am looking for advice. I will be the first to admit that I hate cleaning and will do almost anything to get out of it. I had professional cleaners coming in every other week for awhile but decided I just cannot afford it right now. Besides hating to clean, it is difficult to find the time with two young children and working full-time.

I am looking for ideas on how to get Jacob to help with just the picking up. Especially his toys. It seems like he has to have at least two timeouts and takes at least 20 minutes just to pick up 5 things. Meanwhile, other toys are being taken out while I try to get him to pick up. I have tried positive reinforcement telling him we will go to the park or somewhere fun after we pick up. He just says he doesn't want to go. He takes after his mom and would rather sit in his room than
clean-up. I really don't have any other ideas. I realize he is like me in that he just doesn't like to clean but I do have my limits. The house needs to be cleaned at least once a week and I really think he should be helping.

Prayers For Samuel

Samuel is a 3 year old boy who just arrived home to his forever family five weeks ago. He was involved in a horrible tracter accident at his home last weekend. Sam has lost one leg below the knee and his other foot. Doctors are working to save his arm. He is fighting also. His family is asking for prayers. His caringbridge site is .

Samuel is just a few months older than Jacob and really makes me appreciate how fast life can change. I have heard some people question how God can let this happen. I don't believe God "let" the accident happen but through free choice and reasons beyond our understanding, accidents do happen. I do know that God is with Samuel, his doctor and his family now. The do need our continued prayers though.

The family is also seeking donations to help with medical supplies, changes their home will need to accomodate Samuel and other items needed during this difficult time. If you would like to donate you can send checks to the Samuel Phillipson fund at

Premier Bank
PO Box 38
Sullivan, WI 53178

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Finding My Purpose In Life

The title of this post sounds like it is going to be one of those deep theological questions. What is my job on this earth? For some people, I believe that they wander around wondering that for a very long time. That is who the paster was speaking to this morning in his sermon. What is your job in this life? How are you suppose to be serving God.

I am blessed to have known for a very long time what my purpose is. I was actually thinking about this topic this morning while driving the kids to Sunday School. I often wonder if I am at my current job because it is God's desire. I wonder this because I often feel trapped and unappreciated there. I know that my gifts and talents are not being used to their fullest potential at my job and often contemplate what I can do about it. I still haven't found that answer.

I do know the general answer to what my purpose on this Earth is. I have known it for most of my life. My job is to help the children of the world. As a child, I spent hours playing with younger children. As a teenager, I babysat several times a week and volunteered with youth organizations. My first college major was elementary education although I later decided that wasn't meant to be my job.

Now as an adult, I often wonder why I am single and cannot find anyone I want to marry. I don't have the answer to that and don't know if I ever will. I do know that part of my job is to continue to work with children and help them. I am honored God has blessed me with the responsibility of caring for children. I love the time I spend with the kids I mentor, teach, foster and parent.

I don't have all of the answers and I have decided that I am going to try to be happy with that. I don't need to know. I will continue to look for opportunities to serve God and God's children. Maybe I am at my job to help the parents of some of the children out there. Maybe I am at my job to help me understand the biological parents of the children I raise and foster. Maybe I am at my job because it is the way that God is leading me to the children I am meant to serve. Or maybe I am at my job for a reason that I have yet to understand.

Whatever the reason, I will continue to work hard and do my job well. I refuse to let myself get stressed out or even concerned about if my career is going in a direction I want. I will continue to look for opportunities to do the things I want to do but accept it when I cannot. After all, I don't have all the answers and I don't need them. God will lead me where I need to go. It may be the job I am already at or it may be a different career in the future. Right now, I will work hard but concentrate on the job I know He wants me to do. Loving His children no matter how they come into my life.

Jacob Really is 3!

Jacob has loved Sunday School his first two weeks there. So, I was a little concerned when he suddenly announced he didn't want to go anymore. He stated his teacher told him he wasn't "big enough" yet. I asked him what he meant. He stated you have to be 3 to be in his class. His teacher had told him he wasn't 3. He was obviously very upset as he thought she didn't believe he was suppose to be in the class.
After Sunday School this morning, I asked him which teacher had told him this. He pointed to one of the teachers. I told her that Jacob was upset because she didn't believe he was 3. I explained that Jacob knew kids needed to be 3 to be in the class and if he wasn't 3 he couldn't be in the class. She assured him that he was perfect for the class and very much wanted there. He seemed happier and states he wants to go back again next week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Gymnastics Dilemma

Jacob's gymnastics teacher and I have very different definitions of listening. To me, listening is staying on task and doing only what your teacher tells you to do. It is not running off to try other equipment and jumping around while the teacher is trying to talk to you. Jacob has been doing better about staying near his teacher and trying the exercises she assigns. He is still running to other pieces of equipment and not always waiting his turn.

On Thursday, Miss Nicole told me Jacob was doing really well in class. I asked if he was listening any better. I had seen him run off a few times but was busy with M so I didn't see his entire hour. She told me that he always does a really good job at listening. Huh?!? Definitelly different expectations.

So here is my dilemma. Do I just keep my mouth shut and let Miss Nicole handle it? If she doesn't care why should I? On the other hand, I don't want Jacob thinking it is ok to have selective hearing and not stay on task. I also have to remember that he just turned 3 and maybe he really is doing the best he can for his age level. Miss Nicole does work with preschoolers everyday and he certainly isn't the only child who has trouble staying on task. I'm just not sure what I should say next week. Should I remind him about listening and give him warnings when he runs by me off task while I am at class. Or should I just let Miss Nicole handle it and only step in if he is openly defiant and creating a disturbance?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

HIV Awareness

My children have been very blessed to be healthy with no long term illnesses at this time. As many of you know, I am drawn to children with special needs. Jacob was a special needs child due to potential health complications with his port wine stain. These problems have since been ruled out. My foster children almost always qualify as special needs due to problems they are currently experiencing or an increased risk of problems in the future. None of my children have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS but I am willing to parent an HIV positive child in the future. Here is some information from Erin's blog about HIV/AIDS.

What you should know about HIV
- HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).
- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.
- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Was I Out Of Line?

Last week, I had a very disturbing incident at work. As many of you know, I work in corrections. A man was moved into my housing unit after making racist comments in two other units. He came to the desk telling me he needed to be moved because he couldn't be around African Americans. He had another name he used for them and started calling them rapists and other names.

A picture of my son flashed through my mind and a lecture began. Everytime the man interjected with something else racist, I just kept talking. I told him that I would never segregate the unit and that no one in the jail would. I went on to tell him that he did not ever have the right to judge someone by the color of their skin and that his comments were very racist. He demanded to speak to a supervisor and I gave him a grievance form to file. He then stated he was calling his attorney. I told him I would welcome a call from his attorney so that I could tell him that I would not listen to the racist garbage being spewed from this inmate.

The next day I noticed this inmate socializing with African American inmates. Oen of those inmates came out to state that the inmate was not nearly as bad as he had been the previous day. The inmate came out a short time later and stated he thought about what I had said. He stated he realized he was wrong and that he didn't want to be that angry person anymore.

I don't know if the changes in this person are permanent or not but I do know that at least for now I made a difference. I just wish I could affect more people and help more people realize that anger and hatred is not the answer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Social Worker Visits

We have a new social worker, H seems to be very knowledgable and great to work with. We discussed M's case (none of which I can share for confidentiality reasons) and what my hopes for the future are. I again told her that I am concurrent meaning I am pre-approved for adoption if a child in my home needs it. M's case is no where near that point right now and it will be months before we know if he ever will need an adoptive placement. I also repeated that M is welcome in my home for as long as he needs to be and that I am willing to work with his mother as much as possible.

There are several things I like the social workers and birth families to know while I work with them. The first is that I am here to love the foster child while he or she is with me. I am not here to replace the birth parent or "win" the child.

The next thing is that I truly want to co-parent with the birth parent while I have placement. This gives the birth parent every opportunity to be involved in the child's life while working towards reunification. It also allows the child to see that all of the adults and "moms" care and love him or her.

I want to communicate with everyone. I want to make sure that everyone knows what is going on. I often include more than one social worker on emails if I think everyone needs to know something. I won't hesitate to call a birth parent and update him or her if we have a working relationship and human services approves it. I won't lie or hide anything for anyone. Secrets got these children and families into the situation and will not help anyone with reunification or permanency (adoption) plans.

M is my second foster child and probably not my last. I really do believe I want at least 3 kids just not all right now. The third child won't come until Jacob is at least 4 and maybe 5 or 6. If M stays, I will want him to be at least 3 (he is 16 mos now) and to be well-adjusted and comfortable in my home and family. I expect that will happen before he is 3 but not anytime soon. If M is able to return to his birth family, I would be open to siblings as long as Jacob is 4 or close to it and only one of the other children is not walking and able to feed him/herself. Basically, I only want one infant at a time. Maybe when Jacob is a little older I would consider infant twins but not anytime soon.

Birthday Pictures

Now that M is feeling better, I have time to post some pictures of Jacob's birthday. He had a great time. The Sponge Bob cake is from his family birthday party and the Thomas cake is from his birthday party with friends. He had a great time and says he doesn't want to wait until next year for another birthday. I hear him. If only there was a way to have more birthdays but not getting any older.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Monster Where?!?!

Jacob just came out of the kitchen very concerned. He had a scared look on his face and was quietly saying, "I don't want the monster to get me!" Jacob has never been afraid of monsters before and always tells me they are just in the movies so I was a little confused. I asked him where the monster was. He pointed to M. What am I suppose to say to that?

Frustrating Few Days

M is sick. He came down with an ear infection Sunday. I originally thought his very low grade fever was related to teething. He has been drooling, chewing on everything and cranky for a few days. I can see where his molars are getting ready to poke through.

During Jacob's birthday party, M's temperature began to spike. By the time we left, I knew it was probably more than just teething. He had a cold last week so I correctly guessed that he had an ear infection. I gave him some pain reliever that took care of the pain and fever but he was still very cranky. The doctor confirmed my guess and he is now home sick today. He is beginning to feel better but is still very cranky. He seems to be back to the behaviors he exhibited two weeks ago when he was still adjusting to our home. I know in my head that his behavior is just due to him not feeling well. I also know that we have been making a lot of progress and that it will continue as soon as the antibiotics have time to work.

Last night I was suppose to go to my bible study class. I was really looking forward to it after listening to M cry for the past two days. I had M in bed so that he wouldn't even realize that I was gone. He was medicated and sleeping peacefully. Unfortunately, the babysitter never came over. I am not sure why she didn't come. She never called me back so I can assume that she will not be babysitting anymore. Jacob and I were both disappointed. He likes having babysitters to play. Next week we will try again. I know that babysitter will be here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Look Who's 3!!!!!

Happy Birthday Jacob! I can't believe my little baby is now a talking, story telling, funny three year old who is learning gymnastics! Today is going to be a full day and I plan to post lots of pictures soon. For now, enjoy this picutre of Jacob blowing out the candles on his Sponge Bob birthday cake. Today he gets another cake. This one will be of Thomas the Train. Spoiled? Maybe but that's ok. You only turn 3 once.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Daycare Drama Update

I picked up M's belongings at his old daycare yesterday. You will remember that on Thursday I witnessed a teacher being very rough with a child and even hitting his head on the changing table. I immediately told the director about it and called Human Services.

When I arrived with M yesterday,the director met us at the door. She stated that the teacher involved had been escorted out of the building yesterday and will not be allowed back in. The state and the daycare are investigating exactly what happened. She stated she received the call from Human Services after I left but was planning to call herself. I assured her that not only am I a mandatory reporter due to my profession and as a foster parent but that I also needed to know that the children were not getting hurt. She stated she understood and said she was glad I called.

It sounds like this is one thing that daycare is doing correctly. I am relieved to hear they are investigating. I was planning on moving M out of that daycare anyway beginning Monday. There were several other things I saw there that made me uncomfortable but it does seem like this incident is not being tolerated.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jacob's Nature

The past few weeks have required a whole new level of sharing. As an only child, Jacob really only needed to share at school. It was becoming increasingly obvious that he knew how to share but really needed to practice it. Since M arrived, he has been getting plenty of practice and doing a great job. It must help when M screams and cries for 20 minutes anytime Jacob doesn't share!

Yesterday in the car, M took Jacob's nap pillow from daycare. We take all of his nap supplies home on the weekend to clean them and get them ready for the next week. Jacob saw it and immediately grabbed it from him telling M it wasn't his. Here is the conversation we had:

J: That's mine M! You can't have it!

Mom: Can't you share with M?

J: No. It's not in my nature.

M (laughing): I hope you find it in your nature soon!

Another Week Already!

I admit it. I have been really bad about trying to blog at least twice a week. I am just not sure where time has gone. Here are some of the things that went on this week.

I have been busy at work all week with today being my first day off. M has not been happy at daycare at all and even stopped eating lunch there the past couple of days. He is starving when he gets home and eating well here so I know he isn't sick. Yesterday, I saw a teacher being very rough with a young toddler while changing his diaper. She even shoved his head against the wall on the changing table. I made sure the child was safe and then found the director. She promised to take care of it immediately and walked down the hallway to the room. I then went out to the parking lot and reported it to human services (I am mandated by law to report any suspected child abuse/neglect). The intake worker promised to investigate it and notify the involved child's family. M will not be going back there. We were scheduled to switch daycares anyway on Monday so I just removed him a day earlier.

My pastor's son plead guilty to homicide so his family has been spared a trial. It is a very sad case. There was almost no warning that this child was capable of murder or even violent. Please continue to pray for the entire family including I as they try to grieve and find a way to move on with their lives.

Jacob had a little more difficulty at gymnastics but he still loves it. He is learning a lot and really looks forward to the classes.

Jacob and I are going to be busy today making cupcakes and getting ready for his birthday celebration. I am always looking for an excuse to party and seem to have overdone this one a little. Oh well. It will be fun. His birthday isn't until Sunday but do to scheduling issues, his family dinner is tonight. He chose cupcakes for his cake so we will make those today. His actual birthday party with friends is on Sunday and I will update everyone afterwards. Hopefully I will even have pictures!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week Review And A Prayer Request

I can't believe it has been almost a week since I last posted. The week went well. M is settling in nicely. M and Jacob both have colds this week so they are a little more cranky than normal. That also means they are both sleeping a little more than normal which gives me some extra quiet time to sit and think.

On Tuesday, I finally bought a double stroller. I have been looking at them for awhile. They are so convenient when I want to take both kids for long walks. Jacob was very excited and loves that he can sit or stand in the back of the stroller. He likes to stand and peak over the top to tell me if M has fallen asleep yet. M loves to go for rides also and often will fall asleep after just a few minutes. I have already used it twice and plan to use it to walk more places and drive the car less. So far we used it to walk to the drugstore and to the library.

Jacob had his second gymnastics class on Thursday. He did much better listening and staying with his group. M did better too and enjoyed playing with some of the other infants and young toddlers in the waiting area. Jacob cried when class was over stating he wasn't finished yet. I may have to move him to the 90 minute class next Spring.

I have mentioned before that Jacob and I have begun attending a new church. The pastor leaves this week to testify in his son's murder trial. His son is accused of murdering his daughter just over one year ago. I cannot imagine the pain he must have gone through and continues to go through. To lose a child is devastating enough. He has lost two children because of the horrible acts of one of them. Please keep him and his family (including his son) in your prayers. They all need support and strength right now. Please pray that his daughter receives justice, his son is treated fairly and the entire family finds strength and comfort.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mom's New Class

Don't panic! I am asked at least 25 times everytime Jacob gets a face treatment what happened to his face. Nothing! This is just the way it looks after a laser treatment. It really does look a lot worse than it feels. It feels like a sunburn for about 1 day and after that he doesn't complain at all. The pain isn't even enough to justify Tylenol.

On a brighter note, I started a bible study class last night. I think it will be a lot of fun. We meet once a week and have daily homework readings and reflections. The course is a year long with a "graduation" ceremony at the church services in May. It is also a much needed break for me. I find that I am a much more patient and better mom if I have a break at least once every 2-3 weeks. I don't always get a break as I have trouble justifying spending the money on a babysitter. Participating in sports in the Summer and this bible study class this year give me that once a week break I need.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

First Week Finished

Well, the first week of our new activities has come to a close. The only thing left is Sunday School for Jacob tonight but that won't be a big deal. Everyone did well (or as well as I could hope for). Jacob loves his new friends and his new school routine. Complete with becoming upset yesterday when he thought I was going to have him stay home from school. Gymnastics was a hit and he is asking everyday when he gets to go back. I have only spoken to one of the kids I mentor but her first week seemed to go well and her classes appear to be ok.

M is settling into his daycare routine and our new routine. The first couple of days were a little rocky but it got better as the week went on. As he feels more secure at home, I am sure daycare will become easier also. I am really not happy with the center we are at. The parents are rude to the teachers, the director appears unorganized and children are often seen stadning in the middle of the room crying. While M seems to be adjusting to it, I do have him on waiting lists for two other daycares. One hopes to have openings in about 2 months. The other doesn't expect an opening for a very long time. I am sure M is safe where he is at but I will definitely move him as soon as I am able to.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Jacob had his first gymnastics class last night. He smiled during the entire class but did have difficulty waiting his turn and staying focused. There was just so much fun stuff to try and do that he couldn't stand still to wait for his turn. His teachers were much better than me about it though. I kept wanting to yell at him to stay with his group and wait his turn. His teachers just took it in stride. He wasn't the only new student having trouble concentrating. After class he admitted he had trouble listening. We talked about it and agreed to try listening a little better next week. I am hoping that it will be easier for him to concentrate as he becomes more familiar with the class.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I am finding some very large differences between helping a foster child adjust and attach versus a child coming to my home as an adoption. Jacob was an international adoption and was a permanent member of my family. I was able to take 12 weeks off work with him and just concentrate on learning to love each other and be a family.

M is my second foster child. With my first foster child, E, I took 4 weeks off work. I actually did not work the entire time she was with me. I found several problems with this. While I loved being at home, I knew her stay was temporary. I am only allowed 12 weeks a year of family leave so if I stay home for several weeks with each child, I risk not having time if more than two or three children come through in a year.

Another problem with taking extended time off work is that it disrupts Jacob's schedule. Even if I continue to send him to school, he knows that I am not working and our routines are slightly different. I feel that the disruption in our schedules and routines means he loses the security of having a consistent schedule and knowing what will be coming each day.

I know that spending time away from work and focusing on M's needs will help with attachment. I also know how very important attachment is in foster children. M shows no signs of having attachment issues but that doesn't mean he or any other foster child couldn't develop them if he is moved around a lot or not given the chance to appropriately attach in a family. The problem is that I need to balance this need and his need to adjust on his own timetable to the other needs of the family.

This time I did not take nearly as much time off work. I do not know if M will be with me for just a few months or if it will last many months. I decided to take two weeks off work. This allowed for us to have some time together but also allowed me to return to work without using all of my vacation and sick leave. I was originally only going to take two or three days off as suggested to me by some other foster parents. After just a couple days, I knew this wasn't in M's best interest.

M began daycare full time yesterday. I guess he was quite tearful all day but did seem to be happy to see me when I picked him up. Jacob really seems to be more relaxed now that our regular routine is back. I think M could have used a few more days home but that would have come at a huge expense to the rest of us.

Adjustments are always difficult. It has only been two weeks and there is already improvement. I know that it will continue to improve over the next few weeks. I seem to get better at helping the children through this period with each child I have. Each child has his/her own needs and displays their feelings differently but I am getting better at reading them. I am getting better at soothing young children feeling insecure and vulnerable.

I know that the adjustment process will get better with each foster child who comes. Jacob will get better at sharing my attention and having another child around. I will get better at meeting everone's needs more efficiently and better at figuring out when it is a need I can meet as opposed to just part of the grieving process the children must go through. The foster children will still have the same challenges while adjusting and trying to attach to a new caregiver. They won't change. But the changes Jacob and I have to make will come easier.

If any of you are experienced foster parents and have suggestions for the attachment/adjustment process, let me know. Otherwise, I will just continue to learn as I continue to help God's children one child at a time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Jacob, M and I spent the afternoon at a friend's parents' house. They live on a lake near us and have a very nice boat. We spent a couple hours on the lake swimming and boating. Jacob loved it. He was able to jump off the boat and into the water by himself. He also had no problem swimming around in the water and needed very little help from the adults. I was so proud of him!

M didn't enjoy the water as much but he still had fun at the house. He enjoyed playing outside and exploring the water from the pier. I enjoyed having some extra help with the boys and spending the day outside on the lake. I have many fond memories of boating at J's house growing up and love that my son will also have some of these same fond memories.

They Forgot My Sister

"Mommy, they forgot my sister!"

This is what Jacob told me while we were all going for a walk one day last week. This came just a few hours before I got a phone call asking if I was interested in accepting a two year old and 8 month old for two weeks and after M was already here. While M and Jacob are normally very good kids, I am definitelly not ready for 4 children under age 3 for more than maybe a few hours tops. So, I told Jacob he will have to wait for a sister but maybe someday in the future.

I don't know how long M will be staying or even where his case is right now. I do know that one toddler is enough at a time. I would still love to have 3 or 4 children someday but I want them spaced out a little more than Jacob does. I was thinking how nice it is that these two are close in age. If M stays forever (No one is talking that way now. I am just dreaming.) I would consider another child in 3 more years. That way M would no longer be a toddler and Jacob would be starting kindergarten. Less daycare, fewer diapers and hopefully more sanity for me.

For right now, I am concentrating on the children I have. If M leaves, then maybe Jacob can have the little sister he has decided he wants.