Friday, February 27, 2009

Family Day Anticipation

Jacob's family day (the anniversary of his adoption) is in about two weeks. He is getting excited. We will be showing his photo montage of his last year and having a family dinner. Uncle Chuck and his girlfriend will be coming which is adding to the excitement. The photo montage is on DVD and the online version (edited to remove foster children) is almost done. I plan to post it around March 14.

Jacob is excited. A couple nights ago he stated, "Mom, I want my family day to be already!" I told him it was only a couple weeks away. He replied, "But I want it now. I want it to be already!" I remember having that same excitement and wishing I had him "already" two years ago as I worked on packing our bags to go meet him. It is hard to believe it has already been two years.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Daycare Arrangement and Research Study

While I deal with M's illness, I have some good news. I have been on the waiting list to get M into Jacob's daycare since August. Jacob is in a wonderful daycare with very skilled and caring teachers. He is learning a lot and loves it there (most of the time). I love it because they have a good academic program for the 3-4 year olds as well as educational field trips and fun themes. It is a smaller center where I know all of the teachers and the director. When a problem comes up, everyone is willing to discuss it with me and we work together to come up with a solution.

An example of the quality of care came last night. The daycare center has been chosen to participate in a research study on the effects of a certain reading program with children 2-3 years old. The daycare was one of a handful of centers chosen based on the quality of their educational program. The goal of the study is to increase the children's pre-reading skills and vocabulary.

The director stopped me yesterday to tell me that they finally had a spot for M. He has been first on the list for about 4 months now. He will begin at the new school the second week of March. I was able to transfer his funding today and already sent the paperwork in. I am very excited to have him start in just a couple of weeks.

Illness and Frustration

M is sick again. He seems to get sick a lot. The social workers theorize that he may not have been exposed to a lot of germs before coming to me. For whatever reason, he seems prone to mild illness.

M got sick on Sunday briefly. It appeared to be better Sunday night. Monday morning I received a phone call that he had a fever. I left work early and took him to the doctor. He was diagnosed with another ear infection. I was somewhat relieved since he gets ear infections frequently and usually bounces right back.

M appaered to be better yesterday. He was cranky shortly after taking his medications in the morning but had a good day after that. I gave him another dose before bed and he was awake and sick again a couple hours later. He looked okay again this morning but became ill about two hours after taking the medication again.

Thankfully, my dad is able to take care of M today while I work. I plan to take him to the doctor this afternoon and only use a couple hours of sick leave. The doctors are guessing that he is having a side effect to the medication and will need a different antibiotic.

That is where the frustration comes in. I understand that M is sick. I just wish there was more I could do. I was just starting to make progress on saving up sick leave again. Now I will have to start again. M has taken this medication before without any issues so I don't completely understand why he is having problems now. I am glad that it will be an easy solution and probably not a virus. I just wish he could just feel better. It is hard to see him sick and not know the cause of it.

Hopefully, he will be feeling better tomorrow and this will just be a bad memory. A few extra loads of laundry (I've had to do 3 loads already) and some new medications will fix everything. For today I will just allow myself to be frustrated while feeling sorry for M and trying to make him feel better.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Watching The Circus

Unfortunately, most of my pictures from this weekend include pictures of foster children. Here is one of Jacob and his great friend Grace at the circus. Jacob loves spending time with Grace.

Weekend Recap

E spent the weekend at our house. It was great seeing her and a reminder of how important a stable family is. We all need a family and home we know will always be there for us. Unfortunately, not all children have this. E is one of those kids and I really hope she finds a permanent and loving home soon. It is always hard to say goodbye to her.

The weekend went well. We went to the children's museum (see previous post) on Thursday. Friday we saw the circus with a group of friends. The kids really enjoyed it. E kept asking to go back to the "popcorn show" again. Jacob was a little disappointed there wasn't a lion there this year but he did enjoy the tigers and clowns.

Jacob went to a friend's house for most of the day on Saturday. I took E and M shopping during the day. I found clearance coats for Jacob. They were $13 marked down from $65. They look really warm and had the next two sizes Jacob will need. I was also able to take advantage of some early sales and get some t-shirts and pants for Jacob and M.

I found some markers that only color on special paper for M. He has a very bad habit of hiding markers and coloring on walls, the dishwasher, books, toys and just about everything he can think of when no one is looking. I have even caught him hiding markers in his sleeves and trying to sneak them into his room. Hopefully, the new markers will discourage this since they don't work except on the paper. I hate making a rule he can't color but I really don't have much choice with traditional colors. He will wait patiently until I get distracted and then run to hide the markers. These markers will be much better than just banning coloring all together which is what I have done the past few weeks.

Jacob and E really enjoy going to church school so we went Saturday and Sunday. The kids had a blast. M wasn't feeling well on Sunday so my mom took Jacob and E to McDonald's for lunch. I took M home and put him down for a nap. He woke up feeling much better and back to his normal self. I love how quickly young children can get over mild illnesses.

I lost my cellphone somewhere during the day on Saturday. I searched everywhere and called it several times but it seems to have disappeared. I was able to renew my plan early and got a new pink blackberry pearl yesterday. It is the same phone as I lost but this year's model. It seems to get better reception and has a few new programs I am trying to learn.

Overall, the weekend was a hit. The kids had a great time together and I enjoyed spending time with them. I am anxious to get another foster child but also know it could be awhile. I am trying to work on patience and concentrate on loving the children in my home now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jacob's Diet

Jacob must be growing again. Here is what he ate yesterday.

2 1/2 bowls of cereal

1 cheeseburger
1 hamburger
3 chicken nuggets
some salad

baked beans
2 servings of pork loin

Snack at circus:
Most of a container of popcorn

Looking For Good Books

I recently met a woman who is in her late 70s and fosters difficult children 0-10 years old. She will take the children that other foster homes do not want. Not only will she take them, she takes up to four at a time. I have no idea how she does. I struggle when I just have one child with behavioral issues.

I have been thinking about this woman and the skills she must have that I don't have. I have decided to try to read and educate myself on parenting some of our more difficult children. I just ordered a couple books online but am looking for suggestions. If you have a favorite parenting book, please leave a comment. I would love to add some tools and skills to my parenting tool box for future use.

I would also like some tips on handling difficult children. I am trying to be more positive with the kids. That seems to be working. I also stick to a fairly strict routine while still trying to allow the kids to just be kids. Leave a comment if you have some good parenting tips as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Learning At The Museum

E is spending the weekend with us again. We love having her here. Today we went to the children's museum. The kids had a great time. We had pizza for lunch and then came home for a nice 2 1/2 hour lunch. Jacob really enjoyed dressing up as a construction worker. He found a tool box and carried it around with him. All of the kids had a great time and did a great job.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Prayer For Our Children

The following prayer was given to me by a friend yesterday. It was published by Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation in Billings, MT. It reminds me so much of the kids I have met along the way as a foster mom, adoptive mom and an active voluteer with kids in our communities.

A Prayer for Our Children

O God of thrown-away children who struggle
for hope-without parent or home or friend-
help us to love, respect and protect them all.

O God of children who long to walk, talk, laugh,
dance and sing- but can't-
help us to love, repsect and protect them all.

O God of those who have been beaten and
abused, of children who are hungry and
hurting, of children who have been ridiculed
and rejected-
help us to love, respect and protect them all.

O God of children without hope, of children
without dreams, of children without smiles-
may our hands be those they reach for and
our love bring healing to their broken hearts.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Night of Fun and Minor Frustration

Jacob, P, M and I had a nice evening together Friday. There were a few minor problems but they led to a good laugh later when I was able to see the humor in it. The kids were wonderful and great about adjusting our plans as we went.

I stopped at home afterwork to change clothes and grab the baby bag. M, P, Jacob and I planned to go to a gym for an obstacle course. I got all of the kids picked up and arrived at the gym 30 minutes after I thought the open gym began. I was wrong. The gym I chose didn't start until 6:30 PM despite the other two beginning at 4:30. No problem, I thought. I packed the kids back into the van and headed off for dinner.

We decided to go to a pizza and gameroom resteraunt. I thought it would be a fun way to spend an hour while we waited for the gym to open. Just as the pizzas came out of the oven, M had a diaper explosion. Not just any explosion. This one left a mess on one of the rides. I quickly cleaned it up and told management so they could disinfect the ride. I ran out to the car with M and Jacob and grabbed the baby bag. We ran into the restroom (with a few complaints from Jacob because he couldn't keep complaining).

Once in the restroom, I discovered that I did not have any extra clothes for M. I realized that someone (me or a babysitter) had used them and they were never replaced. There was nothing I could do. I washed M's pants in the restroom sink, took his shirt off and put his coat on him. I asked the staff if I could please get the pizzas boxed to go and took everyone back to my house. Other than 2 slices of pizza sliding out of the box and onto the floor, it went well.

I got the kids fed and M changed into clean clothes. I found one of Jacob's old coats that M could wear and everyone loaded into the van again. We had a wonderful time at the gym where Jacob was able to complete the obstacle course that was designed for older children. There really isn't much that slows Jacob down including a 10 foot slide.

At the end of the night, I was able to laugh at my own bad luck. I realized how beautiful the falling snow was and how lucky I was to spend the night with three wonderful children. Dirty diapers, closed rides, dropped pizza and mad dashes for restrooms and cars are just distractions to a wonderful evening with my family and P.

My Life Changed Forever Two Years Ago Today

I began Jacob's adoption process in May, 2006. It was mostly paperwork and dreaming of having a baby until November, 2006. That was the day that I found Jacob on a waiting child list and knew instantly he was my son. It still wasn't real yet. I spent the next few months finishing paperwork and buying clothes. At some point in time my friend Brooke called and told me she was free the next weekend. She stated she was coming over and we were painting the nursery. I'm still not sure I could have actually gotten to that point without her. It made the journey too real and also too scary in case something went wrong.

The feeling that it was all just a big game and a dream came to a screaching halt two years ago today. Valentine's day will never be the same again.

I came home from lunch and running some errands. I was scheduled to volunteer at an after school program at a nearby elementary school and needed to get ready. I got home to find a message on my phone from the adoption agency. Jacob's case had passed through court and he was now officially my son. Talk about a strange feeling. To know that you are the legal parent of a child you have never met in a different continent on the other side of the world. In a place you have heard about and seen pictures of but only dreamed of ever visiting.

A few minutes later, the phone rang. My travel date had been assigned. Could I be in Ethiopia by March 10? Preferably March 9 in the evening? The answer was a very excited yes! I had a mixture of emotions at that time. Joy, excitement, fear and anxiety all at the same time. I immediately called my dad and told him to book flights to Ethiopia. I called my mom and told her to tell her boss she would not be at work for a couple of weeks in March. I called scheduling at my job and told them to take me off the schedule for 12 weeks beginning March 8. I yelled, screamed, cried and was just overcome with emotion. It was definitelly one of the best days of my life. Only comparable to the day I found Jacob on the waiting child list and the day, the day I met him (March 10, 2007) and the day I took physical custody of him (March 14, 2007). I can still feel the emotion of that day and feel tears welling up two years later.

The next three weeks were pretty much a blur. Most of the time I was excited and counting the days until I would leave. Some days I was scared and a few times I was panicked. I remember one day having an overwhelming urge to get in the car and drive as far away as I could and hide. I called a friend who reminded me that I would be a good mom and that I had nothing to fear.

The rest of the story is history and one I will recall as I near Jacob's second family day. That is the second anniversary of when I took physical custody of Jacob and he was officially a member of my family. If you want to see my entries from my final weeks waiting for Jacob, look at the entries here from 2007. It has been a wonderful journey and I am truly blessed to have my son with me. Becoming a parent was the best thing I have ever done.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What Grandpas do

Jacob told me this morning he wants to be a grandpa when he grows up. I asked him what a Grandpa does. These are the four things he told me.

1) Sleep
2) Be Silly
3) Lay on the couch
4) Lay in his bed on his side. Not Grandma's side.

That pretty much sums up the way Jacob sees his Grandpa. I wonder what he thinks a mom does....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jacob's Taxes

Jacob's grandmother has gone back to work as a CPA. Jacob knows that she is "doing taxes." He has also heard my friends and me talk about doing our taxes. The above pictures are of Jacob "doing his taxes." It is his new game and he seems to be working really hard on it. He stated when he grows up he is going to do taxes for people in jail.

Am I Crazy?

Only a few people have actually accused me of being crazy when I stated I wanted a third kid. Most people just tell me it's wonderful and that they wish more people would consider foster care. I also wish more parents would consider becoming foster parents but I also realize it is not for everyone.

So this morning I woke up with the same kind of panicky feeling I get before any major life changes. I know that I loved having E here as a third kid and spending time with her. Three kids meant two were always entertaining each other and I really only had one under my feet. There were even a few moments with no kids in the same room as me! Having two preschoolers meant more kids old enough to help pick up toys and putting their clothes away. It means adding another can of vegetables or another chicken breast in the oven at dinner. It really didn't make for much more work.

I know in my head that I loved having a third kid and that adding another child to this family through foster care or through adoption will be good for everyone. Emotionally I am still scared. Don't ask me why. It is just the way I feel today. Maybe tomorrow I will be back to just being excited. I do know that I am trying not to concentrate on it and instead just wait patiently. After all, it is always a good thing when there aren't any kids in the age group I can accept that need homes. It is also only a temporary situation and won't be long before I start receiving phone calls again.

I am going to try to stop thinking about how to fit another child's activities into our schedule or how to pay for another child's daycare today and college in the near future. Instead, I am going to just wait for the next phone call with a child in need of a home. After all, my kids are growing up very fast. Jacob will be in kindergarten in a little over two years, M will no longer need infant daycare (if he is still here) and the state pays daycare for my foster children.

For today, I will just enjoy a day off work with my kids. I will get their hair cut, take them to the library and fix lunch for them. I'll help Jacob clean his room so M can move in there when another child comes and might even move him in there tomorrow. After all, they spend 90 percent of their time together when they are home anyway.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


My bible study class discussed how neighbors just don't know each other any more. While I know several of my neighbors, there is still room for improvement. In the past, we have discussed having a neighborhood gathering for our block. I think this year we should do it. As soon as the weather is nice, I plan to talk to a couple of the neighbors about it. Maybe we can just grill out and get together for an evening or two.

I have had a few gatherings for friends in the past (again centered around a grill) but got away from it the past couple of years. I was just too busy adjusting to motherhood and foster care. This year is different. I am used to being a mom and the idea of having a gathering in my yard is not so scary anymore. So, this summer I am making a public promise to have at least one gathering for friends and family at my home. I don't have the specifics yet but I will do my best to arrange something once the weather is warmer.

Fears Relieved

I took my new van in for an inspection today. I was pretty nervous about it. The van seems to run really well but there is so much that can remain hidden. I don't know very much about cars so I know that I am at a huge disadvantage buying a new car. No one was available to help me who knew about cars so I was left to just listening to funny noises and seeing how it felt driving it.

I took the car into to a Honda dealership today to have it inspected. The mechanic came back with one recommendation. The car needed new windshield wiper blades. I am sure the relief was obvious on my face. I quickly told them to replace the blades, paid the bill and quickly drove away.

I drove home and called my foster home consultant. She confirmed that I was on the list of people with openings for a child 2-4 years old, either gender. Now it's just a matter of being prepared when the call comes in. I found a Spongebob throw and a small stuffed animal at the store for a good price. Jacob and I put those in the closet to wait for the next child who needs to stay with us for awhile.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pictures From Today

We had a high in the upper 40s outside today. It was the first time in quite awhile that we could really get outside. This winter has had a lot of snow but with highs well below zero it was difficult to get outside. Jacob, M, our friend B, and I enjoyed some time outside this afternoon. I haven't posted pictures in awhile so I thought I would post a couple. Just for fun, compare the picture of Jacob at the top of the blog with the one of him in the same toy car today. The picture on my title is from last April so the two pictures were taken almost a year apart. It's hard to believe Jacob has been home for almost two years now.

Swimming Galore

Jacob has been taking swimming lessons since October. We went swimming last night and I was amazed at his progress. He can now float on his front and back unassisted, swim underwater about 4 feet and do the front crawl for about 2 feet. I cringe when he jumps in the pool and lands on his stomach. He loves it though and will use his momentum to swim underwater a couple of feet before coming up to the top to look for someone to grab and get air. He seems to have natural athletic ability. I never had natural talent and always had to work hard at sports so it is fun to watch him excel at it. It won't be long before Jacob is swimming laps and passing the deep water test.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Seeking Advice on Comfort Objects and Routines

I need advice from all of the experienced foster parents out there. I have a new opening (I increased the number of kids I will take from 1-2)and am trying to prepare for his/her arrival. I doubt he or she will come before the end of this month since I am already scheduled to do respite for our dear friend E.

My question is about comfort items. I know Jacob and M really liked having blankets to cuddle with. M more than Jacob. This child will be older so I am debating finding a small baby blanket to cuddle with or just getting a twin size or throw blanket with characters on it. Any thoughts? I have had stuffed animals for the kids before but neither of my foster children or Jacob really seemed to enjoy them. Do you think it was just their personalities or should I search the clearance bins for some nice stuffed animals or dolls? Are their any rituals you have for when the child first arrives that you find helpful?

I am debating whether to move Jacob and M into the same room or not. Right now it is kind of nice with them each in their own room. They do spend 99 percent of their time together though so they really don't need their own rooms. I am just thinking that it would be good to have them together when a new child arrives. That way the new child would have space if he or she needs it. I also wouldn't have to worry as much about safety issues since I know that M and Jacob are safe together but I won't know about the next child's issues. Any thoughts?

I waited four months between E's departure and M's arrival. I heard that was a long time to go between arrivals and that the need for foster homes seems to come in spurts. I saw that when M arrived. I received several calls the two weeks before he came about possible kids but then the kids didn't need to come. A week after M arrived, I received another call for two different kids. I told them no and to please take me off their list of available homes. I just couldn't take another kid while Jacob and M were adjusting and learning to be brothers and friends. So while I don't expect a call in the next 2-3 weeks, I also know that I could receive one at any time after that. I have gone back to keeping a spare car seat in the back of the car and plan to spend the next couple of weeks getting the house ready for another temporary family member. I am looking forward to any advice you (my readers) can give me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Star!

Jacob has had a rough couple of days at school. I don't know if it is because I have had extra time off work and been home or if it is just the mood he has been in. M also had a rough day today and received an "incident report." I was wondering why things were difficult for both of them (currently blaming the weather) and hoping things are easier for them soon.

Jacob had gymnastics tonight. While some nights he is really well-behaved, other nights are more difficult. I was afraid of how tonight's class would go with the way school has gone the past couple of days. I shouldn't have been. While his behavior wasn't perfect (remember he's only 3), it was good. He was easily redirected to the group when his attention (and sometimes body) would wander away. He even earned a new star for his poster! He only has five more skills to accomplish before he moves up a level. I don't know that he will do it before we stop to play soccer this summer but he will be almost ready if he chooses to go back next fall.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

No More Excuses

I was able to get rid of my last excuse for taking in anymore foster children. I purchased a new minivan. I am nervous about the purchse. It has low miles, a waranty for the next 10,000 and was a good price. The problem is that I know very little about cars and what to look for. I called a couple people I thought could help me but they were both busy so I was on my own. I did receive blue book value on my trade-in and able to pay for most of the car without financing. I am still nervous but hoping for the best. Nothing I can do about it now though.

With the purchase of a minivan, I can now take my kids and the kids I mentor places. I no longer have to try to figure out which kids to take where or how to fit everyone in the car. No one will be stuck sitting next to M and avoiding his scratches, hits and kicks. If we are able to take a vacation this summer, there will be room for my kids and our teenage friends (read babysitters).

I have opened myself up to accepting another foster child between 2 and 4 years old. I don't know if they will call me but I do know that I love having children here. I really enjoyed having E in my home but it sounds like they found another home for her to go to permanently. She will be coming for a visit in a couple weeks but only for a few days. Jacob and M will be here for the forseeable future (of course Jacob is a permanent member of the family.) Now my family is truly in God's hands. I am prepared to take any child God sends to me and only ask that He give me the strength and patience to do His work.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Learning To Be Brothers

Five and a half months ago, M moved in. M had been the only child in his home and Jacob had mostly been an only child here (except for a brief time when E was here). M had no idea how to be a little brother and Jacob had no idea what being a big brother meant. Not only did they have to learn to share attention but they also had to learn how to share toys. M was only 15 months old and had never really learned to play with other children or interact with them.

I am amazed at the progress these two boys have made in a very short preiod of time. M will often go to Jacob when he needs help with things like getting a drink of water (I keep cups in the bathroom where Jacob can reach the sink and pour water). Jacob often runs over to comfort M when he is upset and will almost always give him a big hug when we pick M up from daycare. It has been a lot fun to watch these "only" children become brothers. M's future in our family remains uncertain. He is still a foster kid and human services is still hoping to reunify him with his mom. But for now, M and Jacob are great brothers. They love each other, compete with each other, watch out for each other and fight with each other. I couldn't be happier.

The Great Flood

Alright. I realize it's not really the great flood but it sure does feel like it. Late last week the city warned residents in my neighborhood of possible basement flooding due to a repair to a major sewer line nearby. When my basement drain wasn't draining well, I thought it must just be from the city's work.

I was wrong. They finished fixing the sewer line on Friday but the problem in my basement persists. Now, I know what the problem is. I have some very beautiful and mature trees in my yard. Every two or three years the roots grow into the pipe in my front yard and I have to call for help. The pros will be out this afternoon.

The damage to my basement is minimal. It is affecting a small area of carpeting. I have had success getting it to clean up in the past and hope I can have success again. I start with the wet/dry vacuum and get up as much as I can. I will then use the carpet shampooer to suck up as much additional water as possible. After that, I will leave a fan on it for a couple days and hope for the best. I have pretty signifcant allergies to mold and mildew so it won't take long for me to find out if it doesn't work. It has worked in the past though so I have hope. I'll know in a couple of days.

I was planning to take the kids swimming today but that is no longer possible. The basement has to get cleaned up first. At least I am off work today and will have time to work on it. Stay tuned for the great clean up!