Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tough Choices

Jacob made several bad choices tonight. I had to tell him several times to leave the playground at McDonald's. Even after several warnings that he would lose privileges and have to go to bed earlier. He is now crying and very sad that he is in bed an hour early. While I do feel for him, I really hope he learned a lesson.

M has been doing very well this week. He seems to be outgrowing his latest defiant stage. It lasted about three weeks and included tantrums several times a day and just outright refusing to do what he was told. I remember Jacob going through a similar stage right before he turned two. That was the time when I had to fire an au pair who stated she couldn't keep him from breaking dishes and writing on walls becuase he wouldn't listen to her. I still say there is a problem if the adult cannot get a toddler to stop drawing on walls and breaking dishes. Removing the pen and the dishes would have been a good place to start.

So now, I am having many of the same struggles with M. He will be two in May and he is testing his boundaries. The past few nights have gone much better and he seems to be moving out of this very challenging and frustrating phase. While I always love my children, I don't always love the stage they are in.

I would love to have cute and fun stories from the past few days but life has been pretty routine. I can't say that it has been boring since my life is rarely boring. It has been more routine which I have really enjoyed. Hopefully, we can have relative calm around here for the next few weeks.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday and the Easter Bunny

Not only do I have an actual Saturday off work, I am off the entire weekend. That rarely happens. What is even more rare is a day with nothing that I have to do. I am spending the day just enjoying being a mom to two wonderful boys.

We slept in this morning (read 7 AM instead of 5 AM) and watched some cartoons on TV. About 8:00 we got dressed to go to McDonald's for breakfast and to play on the playground. There were two other boys about a year younger than Jacob there. Jacob really enjoyed being the big kid and teaching the younger boys how to climb up the big steps and work the helicopter blades at the top. They pretended they were flying to their houses to play. M just had fun running around and crawling under the tables. He hasn't quite figured out how to play pretend games with other kids yet.

After breakfast, we stopped at my parents' house briefly before heading to the mall to see the Easter Bunny. Jacob climbed right up on his lap and told him what he hoped to get. He smiled for the camera and we got a very nice picture before I told him to give the next kid a turn. M wouldn't get within five feet of the Easter Bunny but he did enjoy watching Jacob take his turn. That means I can post the picture here since M isn't in it. Maybe next year I can get a picture of both kids.

After meeting the Easter Bunny, we had fun just walking around the mall. We had pretzels for lunch (I know not real healthy) and then went to the bookstore. The bookstore has a table with trains set up for the kids to enjoy. The boys both did a nice job playing and sharing with the other young kids there. After they finished playing with trains, we sat at the tables and read some books.

I could tell the kids were getting tired so we left the mall. They both fell asleep in the car on the way home. Hopefully, they will take a nice long nap before we head to church this evening for the Saturday night contemporary service. I love the contemporary services and look forward to it every week.

No More Snow!

The weather service is predicting 2-5 inches of snow here tonight. I realize that it won't be here for long. My dad has even volunteered to snowblow it for me. It is not helping. I am so ready for spring! The grass is beginning to turn green and the tulips and daffodils are up about 3 inches. I even have one bush with leaves!

I have been anxiously waiting for nice weather on one of my days off for the past three weeks. So far it has been beautiful almost everyday I work but cold or raining on my days off.

I have plans for the next nice day I don't have to work. We will go to the zoo or park depending on how nice it is and how much time we have. We will fire up the grill for some hamburgers and hotdogs as well as toasting garlic bread on the grill. Basically, we will just spend most of the day outside and only come inside when we have to!

Maybe this will be the last week of yucky, cold, snowy weather. Sorry Jacob. I just don't agree and can't get as excited as you for more snow. I would much rather be camping right now!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Stressful and Busy Week

I have spent much of today apologizing for all of the people I have failed to get back to in the past couple of weeks. This has been one of the most stressful weeks of my life. So what was the big deal? M's mom had a court date this week that could have returned M home without any safeguards or belief that he would be safe. To say that I was stressed was an understatement. I can't really go into details here except to say that there were a lot of people worried. Thankfully, the court decision was for him to remain in my home.

We really haven't done much besides worry and try to lead as much of a normal life as possible. Jacob has decided he just wants a nice quiet night at home so we are skipping gymnastics and staying home. He seems to be getting tired of gymnastics and doesn't seem to enjoy it like he did last fall. I have pretty much decided that next month will be our last month for awhile.

So for now, life continues on. I am ready to enjoy a few days off work. I actually have a weekend off work. That only happens about once a month so it is always exciting. Two of my cats have to go to the vet tomorrow for a dentist appointment. I plan to spend time looking for scholarships and grants for school. I need to make some progress on laundry and cleaning. I also plan to spend time with the kids I mentor and some family time with my boys.

The weekend is suppose to be cold with rain and snow. I am hoping to think of some fun inexpensive activities to do over the next three days. Leave a comment if you have any good ideas for us.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A New Use For A Toy Box

I really wish I could post pictures of M. Last night, M woke up about two hours after he went to bed. I heard him get up and start playing with toys. I yelled into the bedroom that it was still night time and to go back to sleep. Normally, M will just go back to bed with a little whining and maybe a few minutes of crying.

As normal, I heard him stop playing and then begin pouting and whining for about 2 minutes. I assumed he had gone back to bed and didn't check on him. About 30 minues later, I heard a strange sound and thought it was one of the cats. I got up to check anyway to make sure M hadn't gotten sick or there weren't any other problems. I found M asleep in his toybox. Apparently, he hadn't gone back to bed. He just fell asleep trying to play quietly.

Grandpa Not Going?!?!

We haven't seen my parents much lately. The last couple of times we stopped over, we could only stay for a few minutes. Normally, we spend quite a bit of time with my parents. As a result, Jacob and M have a very good and close relationship with them. M adores Grandma and loves to follow her around the house. Jacob is very close to Grandpa and wants to do everything Grandpa does. He recetly told me that he will have to learn to drink coffee when he is bigger because Grandpas drink coffee and Grandmas give timeouts to M.

Last night we were very excited to learn that Grandma and Grandpa would be able to have dinner with us. The boys were very patient waiting for Grandma to get her work done and Grandpa to get home so that we could go out for dinner. When Grandpa arrived he asked Grandma, "Do you want to go to F-A-Z-O-L-I's?" Jacob immediately looked very worried and came running over. He grabbed my arms saying, "Mom! Grandpa's going to stay home!" I told him to ask Grandpa what he spelled before getting upset. That maybe it was not as bad as Jacob thought it was. Jacob then ran to Grandpa stating, "I want to go to Ravioli's (Fazoli's) for supper." Grandpa told him if that was what he really wanted that was fine.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Larry and Baby Will

A good family friend, Larry, was released after having heart surgery yesterday. As he was being released from the hospital, the family received word there was a liver available for 1-year-old Will. Will received the transplant last night. Please keep Will and Larry in your prayers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Look Who's Counting and Spelling!

I was amazed to find almost 2 year old M counting! Well, not really counting. He was playing and counted "8,9,10." I don't know if those are the only numbers he can count or if he even realizes he said them in order. After all, he just learned to put more than two words together and is still working on expressing his needs in words rather than screams. I was just amazed that he is beginning to get the concept of counting. It won't be long and he will be able to count to ten beginning with one.

Jacob has been working really hard to learn to read letters. He can now write a J and a I. He was very excited to see the letter S and told me it was "S for Saia (a friend at school)!" He can also read other letters that are in his friends' names like V and D. This is a major accomplishment for him. He has been trying for a few weeks but it seems like in the past two weeks it is finally starting to click.

I strongly believe that children learn skills when they are developmentally ready if the material is available to them. That is one of the reasons I have the boys in a high quality daycare program where they are exposed to learning. It is also why I didn't want Jacob to remain in the two year old program after he turned 3 just because he will have to repeat a year of preschool while he waits to be old enough to start kindergarten. I am proud to be able to watch Jacob and M hit these intellectual milestones and look forward to the next one.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

And It's Off!I

I mailed my grant application off today. I have mentioned this grant a couple of times in earlier posts. Basically, it would pay for all of my tuition and fees for one full year of graduate school. I would then need to apply again next year for a second year of grad school. I'm not even sure where to begin to explain how much this grant would help me.

As I mailed it off today, I said a little prayer. Jacob heard me and asked what I was doing. I explained that I was hoping to get money for school and asking God to help me. A couple minutes later, I repeated the prayer (I really need this money). Jacob told me "Don't ask anymore Mom. God will give it to you. He said so." I hope he is right. I also envy his faith.

school, sports and fun

It has been a very busy week around our house. There has been a lot of activity besides Jacob's family day celebration last weekend.

Friday was the last day of a silent auction at the YMCA. I am a strong supporter of the YMCA. They give scholarships to low income families so that all people can enjoy the programs. The programs and swimming lessons are fairly low cost and give a healthy and safe place for people of all ages to gather and have fun.

I took Jacob, M and our friend P to a carnival at the Y and made our final bids on the baskets. Jacob and P both had their faces painted before playing some games and winning some prizes. They ended the evening by jumping on the inflatables in the gym.

I bid on 4 baskets hoping to win 1. I ended up winning 3 and spending a lot more than I had planned. We ended up getting a new nap pillow, decorations for Jacob and M's room, 3 children DVDs, candy, gift cards for a local restaurant, a free blizzard from Dairy Queen, swimming lessons, a beach towel, a swim bag, goggles and dive toys. To say the kids were excited is an understatement. The nice thing is that we will be able to enjoy all of the items as a family.

On Tuesday, I received confirmation that Jacob will be able to soccer this spring on a local school district team. He will be on a 3v3 league with other 3 and 4 year olds. I found a good deal on cleats, shin guards, socks and a soccer ball Tuesday evening. Jacob really enjoyed getting his first set of soccer equipment and is looking forward to his first game in just over a month.

I registered for softball again this summer. I may not be great at it but I do enjoy it. I hope to spend a lot of time at the batting cages over the next few weeks and try to get ready. I really think the practice will help me get more hits this year.

I also received my grant application in the mail yesterday. I spent a lot of time last night and yesterday afternoon filling it out. I ended up typing over 5 pages to answer their questions. It was a little nerve wracking answering questions that could be worth over $20,000. I think this is my best chance at a scholarship since the university will be handing out a few of them to social work graduate students. I did the best I could and now I just need to wait and see what happens. I should get an answer by the end of April.

Jacob had another dermatology appointment yesterday. His birth mark has faded a lot. It sounds as though we will continue a few more times and then take a break for awhile. The dermatologist doesn't think the mark will ever disappear completely but that we can get it to lighten up a little more. Apparently it is more difficut to get the birth mark to fade on darker skin. Since I think he is beautiful with or without the mark, it isn't a problem. The biggest benefit is that it seems to be putting less pressure on his eye as it has faded. I am hoping that will lower his risk of developing glaucoma in that eye in the future. The average age for glaucoma to form is 4 so the next couple of years should tell us what will happen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2nd Year Home Montage

Here is my photo montage from Jacob's second year home. I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Family Day!

Jacob and I celebrated his second family day yesterday. It has been two years since I took custody of him and he became legally and physically my son. What a two years it has been!

After work yesterday, I took Jacob and M to the grocery store. Jacob picked out cupcakes to share after dinner. We enjoyed a nice dinner with Uncle Chuck, Uncle Chuck's girlfriend Katie, Grandma, Grandpa and M. Jacob got to choose the restaurant and chose Outback Steakhouse. He loves their macaroni and cheese and the bread.

After dinner, everyone returned to my parents' house. We showed (and distributed) the photo montage of Jacob's second year home as well as reviewing his first year home (at his request). Jacob loves watching the montages and was a little disappointed we wouldn't watch it more than one time. We enjoyed the cupcakes and then headed for home. It was a great day to celbrate being a family.

I plan to post his photo motage here either later today or in the next few days. I need to edit it to remove images of the foster children before I post it here. Check back tonight or in the next few days.

I have many feelings and reflections about the past two years I want to share. I hope to do that in the next few days as well. My life (and Jacob's) changed forever two years ago yesterday. I wouldn't change any of it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I was informed I have been accepted to graduate school today. It will be almost a 2 hour drive 2-3 times a week but worth it. I really want to change careers in the next 2-3 years and this will allow me to do it. I know I will be exhausted going to school full-time and parenting my boys. I also know I am not the first mom to go back to school and not the last.

The college I chose is set up for commuter students. I have spoken to other people who made the commute. It is pretty much major highways. The fact I only have to do it a couple times a week makes it doable. I can do most of my internship hours while on my days off work when the boys are at daycare. I can also get a few hours in during the evenings if I have to but I will try to avoid it.

I am nervous about the financing and about the pressures of going back to school. I know I can do it if I can get the money. Now that I have been accepted, I just need to look for scholarships and funding. Hopefully, I will have good news to report on that front soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meeting Jacob's Family

It was two years ago that I met Jacob's birth family. It was a day that changed my life. Up to that point in time, I thought I was pretty good at turning my emotions on and off when I needed to. I could set a straight face and then just wait until later to show myself.

That day I nervously rode the four hours down a sometimes very bumpy road. I was thristy but couldn't drink any of the bottled water we took with us. The roads were just too bumpy and the bottle and water would fly everywhere when I tried. There was dust everywbere and the ground was dry. The people all seemed so friendly. They waved happily as we drove by some yelling foreigner and laughing others just stopping to stare.

We arrived in the town where Jacob's family would be brought to meet us. I was anxious. Would they come? Would they like me? Would they demand that I return him to them? Were they happy he was going to America?

My fears were soon calmed. Jacob's family (I won't say which ones for privacy reasons) arrived to meet us. As soon as they saw me, they began crying. I wasn't far behind. I sat down and just let them talk. About thirty minutes later, we left the room. The visit had lasted almost twice as long as everyone else's.

I couldn't stop crying. Me. I almost never cry in public and I couldn't stop. I wasn't sure what to do. I did know that I had learned some very important things from people in a completely different culture and land than I had grown up in. I learned that strength is found inside and not shown without tears. It is deep inside of a person and shows when that person is called to do the unimaginable to help another human being. I learned that love can sometimes mean saying good bye despite every part of you wanting to say stay. I learned that birth parents (know matter how they came to say good bye to their child) love their child.

Mostly I gained respect and love for a person I had never met. I saw a lot of me in them that day. We had a similar personality which would explain why Jacob and I have similar personalities today. When I look at Jacob two years later, I see his birth family. I see their quiet strength. I see their overwhelming generosity and compassion when he is the first to share with a new child or to comfort a crying child. I see their beauty both inside and outside.

For anyone considering adoption as a way to form a family, I urge you to meet the birth family. Not to find out what type of genetic risks their might be or to confront them about the choices they have made. Meet them to get to know them. It will help you understand your child and the gifts he or she has inherited. It will allow you to give that gift to your child in the form of memories you have of his or her birth family.

To Jacob's birth family, thank you. You will never know the joy you have given me. I have never once stopped thinking about you and thanking you. You gave me your son. As I said that day, we are both now his family.

Planning Family Day

Jacob has decided we need to bake treats for family day this Saturday. He originally wanted cupcakes with sprinkles. Now he states he wants chocolate chip cookies with sprinkles on top. Hmmm... not something I have ever seen but maybe it would work.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meeting Jacob Two Years Ago

It was two years ago today that I met Jacob for the first time. I remember how shy and quite he was. He clung to my shoulder or leg and didn't want to let go. I was with him for about one and half hours before he started to go a few feet away to get toys and play. He wanted to make sure I wasn't going to leave and couldn't quite trust me yet.

Now two years later, he is a different kid. He is happy and outgoing. He is not afraid to wander away and has no problem leaving me. He happily goes to daycare and other activies trusting that I will return later in the day. While his playful personality has not changed, his attacment and security is strong today.

To celebrate two years home, Jacob moved into a regular bed. M moved into his toddler bed last week and Jacob moved into a twin bed. He will stay in that bed for the next few months at least. I plan to eventually buy bunk beds for the boys but will wait until they are both a little older.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Camp Interruption

Our friend J had a senior high retreat this weekend. J is one of the hardest workers I know. She is 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. Of all of the kids I work with, she is the one that I know gives 110% effort at school. She has chosen getting help with school work over sporting events and activities with her friends more than once.

This weekend was one of those awe inspiring times. I was notified last week that she had a school activity involving a technology group and homework help on Saturday. The group meets once a month and promises to help her with college when she graduates high school. It is a huge commitment that goes for all four years of high schools. In the summer, she will spend time working at internships and other activities that will help her greatly in a few years.

The conflict that arose last week was that she was suppose to be at a winter retreat with the senior high youth group at church. J took care of the problem herself. She explained the situation to the education director at the church. The education director found an adult at the retreat willing to make the 1 1/2 hour drive from the camp to the school group. I agreed to take J from the group back to camp last night.

It was not the way I really wanted to spend a Saturday evening after working all day. I loaded the boys into the car, gave them snacks for the trip and off we went. Jacob and M both have very bad colds and haven't felt well. Jacob was really feeling under the weather last night and today. The only medication young children are suppose to take for colds is tylenol or ibuprofen.

Jacob and M were very well behaved on the trip to camp and back. The total trip to just over 3 hours with a brief stop for dinner. We listened to children's music from around the world in the car and watched for deer and cows (which we saw lots of). It turned out to be a much better trip than I had anticipated.

The highlight of the evening was just knowing that J was able to participate in the retreat despite having a school activity. I was very proud of her when I heard she was willing to miss the retreat to work on homework and other school related activities.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Not Really Sick

I woke Jacob up at our normal time this morning. He stated he couldn't go to school because he was sick. I asked him what hurt and he stated it was his tummy and head. I felt his head and thought he might be a little warm. It's often difficult to tell since he has been wrapped up in warm blankets but I thought he might really be sick. M was sick earlier this week with a fever so I thought Jacob might have caught whatever M had.

About an hour later, Jacob woke up laughing and giggling. He asked if he could go shopping for a new comforter for his bed and to go out to breakfast. I asked him if he was sick. He stated he wasn't. I asked him if he was sick the first time I woke him up. He stated he wasn't. He stated, "I just want a Mommy Jacob day."

Jacob and I had a long talk about how important it is not to fake being sick. I called work and told them I would come in for the second half of my shift. Jacob has been acting as though he needed some special attention the past few days. I allowed him to have breakfast with me before going to school just a little late. Hopefully, he learned a lesson and won't fake illness again for awhile. I probably won't be as understanding about it next time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Evaluation Time

I received a folder with evaluation information from Jacob's preschool teachers. It was fun to look at and very informative. Normally, the school has parent/teacher conferences but due to some staffing issues, that did not happen. The school sent the folders home instead with a note to feel free to talk to the teachers or director if there were any concerns.

You may remember that Jacob was moved up a class last fall. I was a little nervous about how he would do academically in the older class. I really wanted to try it but was anxious to see if he could do the work. The evaluation showed that he can do the work. He is working on recognizing the letters in his name not just memorizing how to spell it. He knows most of his shapes and only missed two. He called a rectangle a box and stated a diamond was "pieces of a triangle." He has progressed from needing a lot of help making his cot to being one of the best "cot makers" in the class.

I tried to talk to Jacob about how he was doing last night but he really wasn't interested. As far as he is concerned, how well he does academically is not the biggest concern. He really only wants to have fun. That is one of my main goals for him too and one that he meets almost every day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

M's New Bed and Jacob 's Old Bed

Good Night Bad Morning

M has been doing much better walking with me. He only asks to hold my hand which I want him to hold anyway. Last night he decided he wanted to sleep in Jacob's toddler bed. He spent the entire night in it. I was so proud of him! I promised Jacob I would buy him a new comforter for his bed if he lets M have his old one.

M woke up full of energy and spunk this morning. I took him to daycare still looking great. An hour and a half later, he had a fever and was refusing to eat. He is on antibiotics but I can see some very ugly drainage coming from his ear. I have an appointment to take him to the doctor again later this morning. He is currently sleeping in Jacob's old bed with fresh tylenol.

I feel very bad for M and realize he is not feeling well. I am just really frustrated with his ears. I have been assured that some children just get more ear infections than others but it still frustrates me. I just want him healthy and feel helpless right now. Hopefully, the doctor will be able to give him a different antibiotic (third in a week) that will work better. Otherwise, I don't know what to do about it. I would appreciate prayers that he begins to feel better soon and the doctors are able to help him.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Walking Difficulties

M and I are struggling to get along the past couple of days. I have decided it is time to stop carrying him everywhere. He is now capable of walking with us and following directions. The biggest obstacle to opening my home to another young child or infant is not being able to carry two kids at once.

I decided that it is time for M to begin walking when we are only going short distances. So far the biggest battles are to and from the car. He pretty much screams the entire way but he does walk. I am hoping a few more days of me holding my ground will send the message that I am serious.

I have also realized that M listens much better at daycare than he does at home. I had fallen into a rut of just thinking of him as a baby and not a toddler. If he doesn't listen, I was just accepting it as he didn't understand yet. I realized at daycare that he does understand. He just doesn't think he has to listen. Well kid, those days are over. I have been holding him more responsible for listening and he is improving.