Saturday, January 31, 2009

How Many Is Too Many?

A single mother in California recently gave birth to octuplets. She already had 6 children. Leaving financial issues aside, I wonder how many kids is just too many? I know of families that are very large and that it can work. I just wonder if having that many young children by yourself is realisitic. I am sure she will find a way to make it work, I just wonder how.

I often am left wondering how to manage my household with two children. A situation came up last week that had me thinking about how to add another child to the family. I found those answers pretty easily and hope that it is possible. My original plan is to wait until sometime late this year or early next year to accept another concurrent foster child. That will change if the social worker decides that I can have a special little girl in my home. I won't know for awhile if that will happen but I have figured out how to make it work.

The biggest challenge will be finding a minivan. I have an SUV now but it is very difficult to fit 3 car seats/booster seats in the back. It also does not have enough seats for taking the teenagers (J and B) to church on Sundays or transporting P to activities every 1-2 weeks. M will often take the opportunity to hit and scratch whoever is unlucky enough to be sitting in the seat next to him. That always leads to crying and frustration from the child being hit and M when the child grabs his arm to prevent another attack.

Please let me know if anyone knows of a reliable minivan or SUV with a third row seat that is affordable. I think I will be forced to give up my much loved SUV in the very near future for a vehicle with enough seats.

Oh, and a note to my family and friends. Don't worry. I know that 14 kids is too many for me. I am thinking more like 3 now and maybe in about 5 years adding a fourth. I really don't see more than that in my future and really don't expect to have more than 3 if number 3 is a girl. I liked the woman in California's mother stating she wished her daughter had become a kindergarten teacher. I don't think that would stop me from wanting more children but I do know that 14 very young kids would be a huge challenge.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sick Kid #2

Just as I thought we might luck out this year, both boys are on antibiotics. Jacob had a nasty cold that turned into a sinus infection over the weekend. When I picked him up last night, I was told he had a slight fever earlier in the day. It was gone by then but I still called the doctor. The only opening was in 13 mintues and it is a 10 minute drive from daycare to the doctor.

Jacob and I rushed to get his coat and out to the car. We made it to the clinic with about 2 minutes to spare. The doctor was only running about 5 minutes behind (remarkable for that time of the day) and we were actually only about 20 minutes picking M up from daycare.

The entire trip made us late getting home though so cooking became out of the question. I decided to stop for a pizza on the way home to save some time. I was able to make it to my Monday night bible study 15 minutes late with both boys home, medicated and the sitter preparing them for bed.

So the sick count so far this week is 2 kids and 1 cat. I have a little bit of the cold that the boys have. Luckily, I just don't seem to get as sick lately from their illnesses. I am hoping my immune system is a little more use to being exposed to kid germs than when Jacob arrived almost 2 years ago.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ethiopian Genna Celebration

We attended a genna celebration sponsored by the local Ethiopian community. It was wonderful to see so many beautiful children and families. Jacob had a wonderful time playing with all of the kids. He made some new friends with a family waiting to adopt a child 3-8 years old. I think he convinced them that preschool age kids are great! The kids and the dad all left very tired. I was amazed Jacob stayed awake on the way home. He was definitelly tired but had a wonderful time.


I was reminded last night how lucky I am to live in this community. I took 3 kids to the movies (see previous post). The children were white, black and hispanic. With 3 kids of obviously different races, I would expect to attract questions or at least some curious stares. Yet every time I take children from different racial backgrounds, I don't even get a second glance. The only attention or comments I get are from people asking if they can help me and comments about having young children. Yesterdays overheard comment was that I must be really brave to take three young children to the movies.

This lack of interest in our diverse family is not something I take for granted. I often read stories on other blogs or hear them from other families about their experiences. They often get questions that are not based just in curiosity and glances that are not just curiosity. As I wait to hear about graduate school and begin making plans for a career move (after the economy improves), I need to remember how comfortable we are here. With all of the multiracial and multicultural families here, we are not an oddity. Just another family with young children.

The only exception is at my church. I am known as the woman with all the kids. I kind of like that. And it does fit. I not only take my own two kids but also 3 teenagers with me. Sometimes, an extra child tags along and people wonder if I am fostering or adopting another one. The answer right now is no. I can't afford a minivan and I don't have enough room in my car for anymore kids. Maybe in a few years I can add another child to the family.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


It is really nice having a son old enough to go to a movie and enjoy it. I said a son. I took M, Jacob and our friend P to a movie this morning. They have $2.50 movie admission and free popcorn showings on Saturday mornings during the winter. The shows are always movies that are just getting ready to come out on DVD. Today's showing was Madagascar 2.

Jacob and P really enjoyed the movie. M is 20 months old and just too young to enjoy the movie. I fed him Icees and popcorn and took him out a handful of times to remind him to be quiet. It went alright. I actually saw more of the movie than I thought I would. I do feel sorry for whoever has to clean up after us though! There was spilled popcorn and Icee all over the floor.

The nice thing about these Saturday morning shows is that they are mostly attended by families with young children. No one really expects the kids to be quiet throughout the show and everyone understands when a child suddenly breaks loose and yells or runs down an aisle.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cat Mystery Solved

Well, it cost over $400 but I figured out which cat was sick. Buddy was the poor kitty. He has also lost some weight so he may have been sick for awhile. He is on antibiotics now so he should be feeling better soon.

M has had a really bad cold the past few days. This morning and last night it appeared to be turning into a sinus infection. I will take him to the doctor this afternoon. My doctor count so far this week is three cats and one kid. Two will most likely be on antibiotics by the time the week is over. We had been on a really good streak with over two months without any doctor visits for M and a month without anyone (pets or people) on antibiotics. Hopefully, we can get through the rest of winter without anymore emergency trips to the doctor or vet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A New Haircut!

I decided last week to cut my hair short. The stylist asked what I wanted and I just said short. She gave me some recommendations and this is what we came up with. I haven't decided how I like it yet. The good thing about hair is that it is never permanent. I can always cut it differently, let it grow back out or decide to leave it in this style.

Juggling Responsibilities and Frustrations

The past twenty-four hours have been full of both frustration and a sense of being overwhelmed. At the same time, I feel guilty because I realize how blessed I am and how much God has already given me.

My frustrations really started Saturday when I discovered a cat had urinated in my clean laundry. While that was a minor irritant, the big concern was that their appeared to be blood in the urine. I called a friend who agreed to take my youngest cat, Celeste, to the vet. I received a call yesterday afternoon that she was ready to go home and that she had a clean bill of health. I immediately went from being grateful she is healthy to being concerned about which cat it is and how to pay the vet bill to have three cats examined.

I called scheduling and was able to get today off work to take the remaining two cats in. I called the vet back and arranged to bring in the cats today to be examined. Hopefully, they will receive clean health bills and the urine will remain a mystery and presumed to have taken care of itself. Or that the vet will discover a bladder infection and that will also be the end of it. A little medication and all will be better.

Just as I began to relax and feel like things were going to work out, my phone rang again. This time, it was M's daycare. His teacher was reporting that he had a fever. My immediate concern was that he had another ear infection and made arrangements to take him to urgent care. Thankfully, my shift was just about over so I wouldn't have to leave work early.

I picked M up a short time later and discovered that he did not have a fever and other than a slight cold, was not sick. While I am glad he is not sick, I am frustrated that twice in a week and a half, he has been sent home early when he was not really sick. I am grateful for the care they are giving him but frustrated that they have called twice to report he is sick only to have mysteriously recovered in the hour it takes me to get him.

So today I am at home. I took the day off work and took the remaining two cats to the vet. M is at daycare since he isn't showing signs of anything more than a mild cold and I don't want to juggle two cats and a one year old at the vet's office. Jacob decided to stay home and play with some of his toys. Just look at the above picture. Let me know if you think he needs more toys! Those are just the toys we keep in the living room. He has more in his bedroom. I keep threatening to clean them out but never quite seem to get around to it.

This afternoon I plan to take a nap, do some laundry, pick the cats up from the vet and then pick up M. Jacob has swimming lessons this evening so this is my chance to just relax for a little while. I enjoy spending time alone with Jacob so this is a good day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Appreciating The Small Things

I have never spent a lot of time appreciating or thinking about my toilet. That changed last week. Jacob flushed a small plastic tea cup down the toilet. He stated the alligator was hungry and wanted to eat. Since then, I have found a new appreciation for indoor plumbing. We only have one small bathroom in our house so if the toilet there doesn't work, it is not pleasant.

My good friend Jamie came over tonight and was able to fix the toilet. I was extremely grateful. It will be nice to be able to flush the toilet and not worry about if it will overflow! Thanks Jamie!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Singing Praise

Saturday night is usually church night for us. I have to work two or three Sunday mornings a month so we found a church we really like with Saturday evening contemporary services. If you aren't familiar with a contemporary service, it is a service with more music (modern and fewer traditional songs) and fewer responsive prayers and liturgies. Jacob has begun to learn the songs and really enjoys singing along while he waits for children's church to begin.

On the way home Saturday night, Jacob was singing two words over and over again at different pitches. The words were "adoption" and "M (his foster brother's name)." I asked him what he was doing. He stated, "I'm singing thanks to God and Santa for adoption and M." Later on that night, he got a book out about a girl adopted by a single mother. He began "reading" it to himself. As he read the book he stated how glad he is that he was adopted and hopes I will adopt M someday.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Santa Forgot!

Now, believe me. We are not short on toys. I keep saying I am going to go through them and give some away but never quite seem to get around to doing it. Jacob often insists that they need all of the toy cars, trucks, trains, etc so that M and he both have one. The boys are getting better about playing together and not fighting over toys. They have only been "brothers" for about 5 months and were both only children before that. Sharing is something fairly new (although Jacob does share at school) for them and having a sibling close in age suddenly appear is an adjustment.

The other morning they were fighting over the same tractor. It is a tractor that Jacob received as a gift before M came to live with us. Without really even looking up I stated, "Jacob, M, share the toy and play nice." Jacob threw his hands in the air and stated, "But Santa FORGOT to bring another tractor Mom! He FORGOT!" Oh that Santa. He gets blamed for a lot of problems around our house.

A Sign I Am No Longer Young

I recently had the following conversation with my teenage friend, J. J and her sister had just left an arcade and sat down to eat dinner at the adjoining restaurant. J took a bite of her burger and stated, "That is so raw!" I looked at her with concern and finished swallowing the food in my mouth. Just as I took a breath to answer her she stated, "We need to come back here. Those games are raw!" I am so glad I didn't let my nerdiness and age show by offering to get a waiter and have her food sent back to the kitchen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just One Question

I am sitting in my living room listening to my heat run, my gas and elecricity bill climb and thinking to myself. It is suppose to be below zero outside all day with a windchill of -40 degrees. Now, I realize this isn't normal weather for us but still... I hate winter. Every year I dread the start of winter and rejoice at the first sign of spring.

So what is my one question? It is why do I live here? The answer is pretty simple. Family. I am now preparing to go back to graduate school (I hope). When I complete it, I will have options to move again as I begin a new career. Where we end up will definitelly depend on the job market. I am also thinking about areas that I can move to but still be close to my family. I'm thinking up to six hours away. That would put us far south as St. Louis. That might not be bad.

For now, I'm just going to huddle under this warm blanket and dream of summer and lower utility bills.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pajama Day!

Jacob was very excited to wear his "Grandpa" pajamas to school today. They are red flannel pajamas that look similar to a pair his Grandpa wears. At school, Jacob put his coat in his locker and quickly ran over to show off his pajamas to his teacher. The entire school is wearing pajamas today and watching a movie this morning.

Today is my last day of work for the week (until Saturday) and I am trying to just stay warm. It is below zero outside and expected to be cold the next three days. With the very cold wind chills, there is a good chance school will be closed for at least a day this week. That means no child care for Jacob. While my dad can watch him if that happens, it will be nice to be off work and just be able to stay home with him. Maybe we can even go swimming at the Y and dream of warmer weather.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Water Park Fun

Jacob and M had their first trip to a water park yesterday. M hasn't really gone swimming very often. I have only taken him twice. He is okay in the water but nervous. Jacob is a fish and has no fear.

Jacob took to the water immediately doing his traditional belly flop into the first water at least six inches deep that he sees. For him it was a wave pool. M was a liitle less sure of himself. Not only is he still a little unsteady on his feet (like most 1 1/2 year olds) but he wasn't so sure about the cold water. I let Jacob play for a couple mintes before convincing him to find a quieter pool with slides for toddlers and preschoolers.

We walked a short distance and found our first set of small slides. Jacob went running from one slide to another and I yelled out reminders to sit on the slides and not leave the area without me. M took about 10 minutes to really get comfortable with the water and begin playing. He took about ten more minutes and a couple of assisted rides to get use to the slides. Then both kids were off!

Jacob went on every slide the lifeguards and I would allow him to go on. He did slides designed for children older than him but ended in shallow water. I was nervous the first few times but mostly nervous when he would disappear from my view while he climbed to the top of the slide (M and I stayed at the bottom). Jacob would zoom down to the bottom of the slide and immeidately start his five minute climb back to the top of the slide.

Everyone had a great time. It wasn't crowded so there were very few lines or down time. We went with the junior high and senior high youth groups. I had agreed to help drive and chaperone kids. I mostly just drove since the teenagers didn't really need much assistance and I was busy with my little ones.

It was a great time. I am now ready for summer! I can't wait to get the kids in the outdoor pools again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Looking For Ideas

I am looking for cheap and fun things to do with a seven year old and a three year old. I would love things to do with the one year old also but will hire babysitters for him occassionally. Things are going fairly well with our new little sister, P. I just want to find more free or very cheap things to do in the cold Wisconsin winters. Let me know if you have any great ideas. We seem to do better with structured activities than just hanging out at my house cooking or doing craft projects.

Graduate School Hopes

I just sent in my application to graduate school. My first choice has a deadline for applications and referrals by January 30. I am hopeful the college will get my application processed and the referrals will be in by then. If not, they continue to accept applications on a first come first serve basis. Approximately 40-50 percent of applicants will be accepted. My second choice is harder to get into and has already stopped accepting applications for next year. I would have to wait a year to apply for them and they don't have a program that fits my needs as well.

I am very nervous right now. I really want to be accepted for a variety of reasons. This program is set up for the working adult who must commute. The commute is just under 2 hours for me. My plan is to find a babysitter the two nights a week and Saturdays I have to be on campus. My hope is to find a good sitter near the campus so that I can have a little time (even if it's in the car) with my kids.

The program is 2 years long. I really want to start this year so I am finished by the time Jacob enters kindergarten in 2 1/2 years. I would love to find a job in child protective services with a schedule that is mainly Monday through Friday. I don't mind the occassional evening shift or being on call during weekends or evenings. Just so that I will be home most evenings and weekends when my kids are out of school.

So, wish me luck. I have back up plans. I can go back to college as an undergraduate. I need four classes and 400 hours of internship to get a social work license in Wisconsin. That would get me an entry level job and I can always apply for graduate school after that. It would just be nicer if I could get my master's degree now instead. I already have a lot of college credits (somewhere near 168) and don't really want more undergraduate classes that won't help with a graduate degree. A graduate degree will open a lot of jobs and careers to me that a license and criminal justice bachelor's degree won't.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Day Off

Today is a day off. Well, not completely but definitelly more relaxation that work. I haven't taken a day off in awhile and I could feel it. If I push myself everyday to keep up at work and then run around town with the kids on my days off, I eventually get tired and cranky. I seemed to be getting to that point again.

I woke up this morning tired and just not wanting to do much. It has been a few weeks since I just let the world stop and stayed home. That is what we are doing today. I have done some laundry and dishes but otherwise and am taking the day slowly. The boys and I worked on a coloring project this morning. I heated up leftovers for lunch and we all took afternoon naps. M and I are now relaxing while Jacob is still finishing his nap. I'll probably make some pork chops and mashed potatoes in a couple hours for dinner.

We have not left the house all day today. It has been wonderful! Tomorrow is back to work though. The boys will go to daycare/school. I plan to finish cleaning the house and washing clothes. For today, it is a no stress day at home to just hang out and relax.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Words To Live By

Once again my son left me with words to think about. Maybe it is only wise to his loving mother. We were discussing going to the zoo with a friend this summer when Jacob states, "We need friends. We can't do it all by ourselves." How true.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve Celebration

I was scheduled to work yesterday and today. My friend, Kelly, invited us to her house for a New Year's celbration. M, Jacob and I all headed over to Kelly's to meet up with her, her daugher G, and two of Kelly's friends. Kelly provided delicious food and her friend Steve brought a delicious french silk pie for desert.

The kids had a great time decorating crowns and making noise makers. I was impressed with Kelly's creativity. She is much better at coming up with art projects than I am. Yes, I am jealous!

We celebrated midnight at about 6:20 PM. We decided on a time to celebrate based on how tired the children were becoming and their upcoming bedtimes. The kids and I had a wonderful time.

Holiday Train and Garden Show

I unexpectedly got Tuesday off work. M had to go to daycare to make his attendance quota for state funding (all foster children receive state daycare subsidy). Our friend B had spent the night so it was Jacob, B and me for the day. We went to the holiday train show at a local indoor garden center in the morning. We ended the day with swimming in the afternoon. By the time dinner was finished, Jacob and I were ready for bed!