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.