Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bedtime Blues

M has been very bad about going to bed lately. I am not sure what the deal is. He used to be so good at it. I do know that refusing to go to bed has become a game and a challenge of wills. I will win this battle.

I am looking for new stragies to try. I have a fairly consistent bedtime routine but it doesn't seem to matter. As soon as I tell him to lay down, the battle begins. It was originally only 20-30 minutes but is now much longer. Last night he thought he had me when he refused to sleep anywhere except Jacob's bed. It didn't really phase me though since Jacob very rarely sleeps in it. M just looked shocked when I didn't react to him climbing in except to move some things on the floor in case he rolled out.

M slept for about seven hours and then insisted it was time to get up. He did agree to lay in bed for another hour but refused to sleep and played with the window and his truck instead. He was so tired a couple hours later when I dropped him off at school. I felt bad for him but there really isn't much else I can do. I can't force him to sleep and as long as he lets everyone else sleep, he will just have to learn that the consequence of not sleeping is being tired the next day.

I am a little worried about how this battle is going to affect our trip this weekend. It is one thing to make him stay in his room while he refuses to sleep. It is another to try to get him to stay in a hotel room door. I may have to request a crib or playpen just to give him some kind of physical boudary. I just hope he lets Jacob and me sleep.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spending Memorial Day Together

Happy Memorial Day! I was thankful to receive today off work and be able to spend it with the kids. Two years ago, Jacob and I started a new family tradition for Memorial Day. I look forward to it every year.

6:45 AM: Get out of bed (M had already been awake for an hour but I was stalling on actually getting out of bed).

7:00 AM: Arrive at parade site and claim our spot. I may have to actually get there a little earlier next year. It was difficult to get the perfect spot due to all of the people who had already beat us there. They lay their blankets on the ground and return shortly before the parade starts. There are actually some volunteers who stand in each block watching to make sure no what disturbs the blankets.

7:15 AM: Return home. Take a shower, get dressed and get the kids ready to go.

8:00 AM: Leave home for the parade. We live fairly close to the parade so we walked to it. It takes about 30 minutes to walk there from our home. I always debate driving but there are a lot of cars driving by our home from the parade when we arrive home walking. Since walking is better for us and probably less stressful than driving, we walk.

8:45 AM: Walk over to McDonald's and get breakfast to go.

9:00 AM: Sit near our blanket on the curb and eat our breakfast.

9:30 AM: Take our seats on the curb. Get our American flags and balloons from the volunteers handing them out. Play with a few toys while we greet neighbors and friends and wait for the parade. It is also fun to watch some of the cars and band members going to the parade starting place.

10:00 AM: The parade usually starts right on time. This year was no exception.

11:40 AM: Leave the parade and walk home. Fill up on the candy from the parade.

12:15 AM: Lay down and take a break. Jacob slept. M played quietly in his room. He had fallen asleep as we left the parade and didn't think he needed another nap.

2:30 PM: Go to brat fest. Eat brats and hot dogs for lunch while listening to live music. I remembered to put sunscreen on the boys but forgot to put it on myself. I noticed I am a little tanner tonight. Oops!

4:30 PM: Leave brat fest and return home. We actually went to Grandma and Grandpa's house to eat pizza and watch a movie.

Phew! It was a busy but fun day. Definitelly a good way to spend a vacation day from work.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


All of the pictures from M's party on Friday have pictures of him. It makes sense since it was his birthday party. Unfortunately, it also means that I cannot post them.

The party was a lot of fun. M, our friend P, Brooke, Jacob, Grandma, Grandpa and my friend Cindy were all there. We had pizza for dinner with soda for the adults and juice boxes for the kids. The kids had fun breaking open a pinata and gathering the candy. Jacob and M were careful to only take their favorite kinds. P had obviously used pinatas before and gathered as much candy as she possibly could. M then opened his gifts. He received more cars and trucks and a new shopping cart. All of the gifts have been a big hit.

At the end of the day, all of the kids were exhausted. The above picture was actually taken earlier this month but was the only one I could find for this entry. I received some good news from M's social worker and hope to be able to post M's pictures in a few months.

Childcare Woes

One of my least favorite things about parenthood is finding childcare when I am not available. I have a job that requires me to work 2-3 weekends a month. Part of the reason I am looking to change careers is to get a job working fewer weekends and unplanned evening shifts. I won't be able to change careers for at least a year and it looks like it will be closer to two years with my school requirements.

I received word about two months ago that my weekend sitter will be unable to watch my kids as often this fall. She is also unavailable for three weekends this summer. Now, if I just needed her so I could play softball or go out with the girls, it wouldn't be a big deal. The problem is that I have to work those weekends and can't take them off. So, I am searching for childcare once again.

In the past I have had great luck with craig's list. Granted, any classified ad is a little scary when looking for childcare. I do a very careful background check (public records only) and have human services do a child abuse check (since I need them to watch my foster son also) as well as just keep a close eye on how the kids behave and the enviornment when I am there. It is still difficult to leave my kids with someone I barely know but it is the best I can do. This time I can't get craigslist to recognize my account or let me post or respond. It keeps saying something about phone verification but then doesn't send me to the correct place to do it. I have tried from two different computers and neither are working. I have placed a request for help and hope that they can resolve the situation in the next few days.

In the meantime, I will keep watching for good sitters. If you know us personally and know any good sitters available on weekends, let me know. I also need to find someone near the university for the fall or someone here that can pick the boys up from daycare when I have class. Any ideas would be great.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Grad School Orientation

As I suspected, grad school is going to be busy and go by fast. I will have class two nights a week and field work on my days off my regular job. I will also be attending class every other Saturday for six hours (yuck!). It will be worth it in the end.

I also learned that the university believes they may have found a field placement for me. It is about 45 minutes from my home. The person in charge of the finding placements told me to "keep your fingers crossed." She has also spoken to another county about an hour away but stated she doesn't have too many contacts there and has to start from the beginning. I explained to her that I really cannot drive more than an hour and a half one way for the placement and she stated I wouldn't be expected to. She really thinks that she will find a placement for me within an hour from home and probably less. Sounds good to me!

I also discovered that I have a better chance than I initially believed for receiving a grant next year. The tuition is also considerably less than I anticipated if I can't get the grant. They only charge us for nine credits no matter who many credits we take. Most semesters are about 14 credits. I did the math today and the tuition will be about $4,000 cheaper than I originally thought. Hopefully I can get the grant again next year but if not at least it will be less expensive than I thought.

Now I am anxiously waiting for my placement. It has to be with a county human services agency so I have a pretty good idea of where they are looking to place me. I am excited about the challenge and the changes. Now to try and relax this summer before the hectic fall semester begins....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Money Well Spent

I realize that money is tight and is going to get even tighter next fall. I also know that I cannot keep up with the housework and need some help. I saw it as a matter of values and how I wish to spend my money. I could pay someone to clean the house occassionally for me, live in a dirty house that I never want to be in or I could spend more time cleaning and less time with my kids.

The decision pretty much made itself when I looked around the house last week. I couldn't stand the mess and wasn't willing to give up the little time I have with the kids. I made some calls and found a cleaner that I believe I can trust and that was willing to come for a fair price.

The new cleaner came today and did a great job. It was so nice to walk into a very clean house. She actually did a better job than the cleaners from some of the agencies have done.

I plan to continue to have her clean every two weeks. It will give us a cleaner living enviornment and make it a little more pleasant to play at home. It will really be nice next fall when I go back to school and my time is even more valuable.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pictures From Graduation

Congratulations again Uncle Chuck! We are all so proud of you!

Happy Birthday M!

M turned 2 years old today! He is getting so big! I am so grateful for the past nine months. I am also looking forward to the day I can post pictures of him. For now, just know that he is doing great. He has his 2 year old physical on Wednesday and his birhtday party this Friday.

Today, we had a very small celebration. I gave him some toy cars and a balloon. We went out for spaghetti with my parents and then had cupcakes for dessert. The big party is Friday. I hope to have pictures of some of those festivites then.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Jacob has been quite creative lately in coming up with ways to avoid answering my questions. I was trying to talk to him and M about M's birthday tomorrow. We were riding in the car after daycare yesterday. This is how it went:

Me: Who's birthday is it on Sunday?

Jacob: M's!

Me: How old will he be?

Jacob: Mom, I can't talk about that.

Me: Why not?

Jacob: I just can't talk about that right now?

Me: Why can't you talk about M's birthday?

Jacob: I don't have time to talk about it now! I'm in a hurry!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Congratulating Uncle Chuck

My brother is graduating from law school on Friday. I am planning to attend the ceremony Friday evening. I don't think the boys would enjoy the ceremony and would have a very difficult time sitting through it so they will not be attending. I want them to be a part of the excitement so we went to Chuck's apartment last night to congratualate him. They also gave him his gift, an engraved NOVA globe, and put a new toy together. We really had a great time and are very proud of Uncle Chuck's accomplishments.

A Good Sport

M decided that our dog had been very good yesterday. Apparently, she earned a lot of stickers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Food, Fun and Friends

The weather was perfect to grill out tonight. Our friends Diane and Cindy came over to join us for a very nice evening. I grilled brats and hot dogs on the grill and purchased some ready made salads and veggies at the grocery store. It was an easy meal to prepare that allowed for everyone to enjoy the company without anyone spending large amounts of time cooking or stuck in the kitchen. We decided to eat outside and enjoy the late Spring evening with very few bugs and no misquitos yet.

After dinner, we headed to the park for a little fun. There are a couple of very nice parks just a few blocks from our house but we rarely go to them. I always seem to have some excuse why we can't just go hang out for a little while. Tonight was such a perfect night for a walk that I couldn't see a reason not to walk to one of our neighborhood parks. I was not disappointed.

Future Adoptive Families Need Help

Adoption is expensive and many families need help paying for their children's adoptions. My family was no different. As the law states now, families can take a tax credit for their adoption expenses up to about $12,000. Families who choose to adopt children with special needs from the US foster care system can claim the entire credit without any expenses.

This tax credit has helped countless children find forever families. It helped make Jacob's adoption possible and I hope to take the credit for M's adoption as well.

The problem is that the bill is set to sunset at the end of 2010. There is a new bill in committee that would repeal the sunset and make the tax credit permanent. Please help children find forever families and families be able to afford an adoption. Here is a link to an article on about the bill and how to help.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Confirmed and Baptized

I have been mentoring two young ladies for almost nine years. When I first started seeing them they were five and seven years old. They are now fourteen and almost sixteen years old! The years have gone by quickly and I am very proud of both of them.

Eight years ago, Jasmine (the oldest), spent the night at my house for the first time. She asked me if I would be willing to take her to church the next morning. I called her mom and got the okay. The kids had never been to church before so it was a great learning experience. Brooke joined us the following week and the third week they convinced their mom to let them go to church school.

Their mom was a little hesitant about the whole attending church on a regular basis idea. She is a single mom of six children and really enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday morning. She didn't want to commit to waking the kids up every weekend. I understood but came up with a solution. The kids would have to wake themselves up, get dressed and call me before 9 AM if they wanted to go. If I didn't hear from them, they wouldn't go.

For the next several months, I received phone calls around 8:30 every Sunday morning. Their eight year old brother soon joined them. I enjoyed hearing them talk about who's turn it was to set the alarm clock and complain when it was Troy's turn to wake them up. Apparently, he wasn't always as warm and nurturing in his wake up call as they would have liked.

I never heard their mom complain about waking them up. As far as I know, the kids never forced that responsibility back on her. I am sure that she woke up with all of the commotion but she let it continue. To this day, other teenagers complain about being forced to go to church but they still go by choice.

Jasmine and Troy were baptized and confirmed together two years ago. Their mom came to watch. Yesterday was Brooke's turn. Her mom had to work but her older sister, Nicole, and her boyfriend were able to come. I know it meant a lot to both Jasmine and Brooke to have them there.

The service was very nice and Brooke was beautiful in her new dress. I was very happy to see her complete something she started eight years ago and still enjoys. She is now trying to decide what activities to be involved in next year as an adult member of the church. Some of the members have offered to drive her to activities. It doesn't surprise me. People have come forward on many occassions and offered to help get the kids to church, youth group activities, confirmation classes and other activities when I needed the extra help. It was always appreciated and I have always been amazed at the generosity of the people in the church. They have really shown that not only are all of my kids welcome but that they are loved. They are definitelly demonstrating God's love and showing that we are all part of the same church family.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day To All The Past Present and Future Moms

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. At church tonight, the student pastor said a prayer for all of the past, present and future moms. I loved it. I know several women who are in the middle of adoption processes and those still considering how and when to become a mom. This prayer included them and I thought it was wonderful.

I remember how it felt to be waiting to become a mom on mother's day. While I love my mom and wanted to celebrate her, the day itself was very difficult. I remember crying and wondering if my dream of motherhood would ever come true. I can now say that if a woman is committed and willing to be flexible, it will happen. It may take more time or the child may come in an unexpected way but motherhood will happen.

On this mother's day, I look at my children and stand amazed. I am amazed that I have been blessed to be with two beautiful boys. One is legally mine and one I am honored to parent for as long as the law allows. I am amazed that God has entrusted their lives to me and that they smile and call me "Mommy."

I also look at them during this time of year and think of their first moms. I think of Jacob's Ethiopian mom and wonder how she found the strength and courage to make an adoption plan. I wonder what she is doing today and if she is thinking about him. I pray for her often but more during this time of year. I hope she is doing well and that she is able to see my reports on him and how well he is doing. I still dream of taking Jacob to meet her again when he is a little older and pray that she will be healthy enough to see him. I know that she wants to.

I owe Jacob's Ethiopian mother a debt of gratitude. What do you say to the woman who gave birth to your son and loved him enough to say good-bye? I didn't know what to say two years ago and I don't know what to say to her now. Thank you seems so inadequate and yet it is all I have. While I know she probably still sheds tears for him, I hope that she also feels peace. We talk about her often and I tell Jacob that he is loved by two moms. That much I know is true.

M's history is a little different and I can't divulge details here. I do think about his mom also and am thankful that I have met her. Whatever happens from here, I also know that he is loved. Rather than go into details about my thoughts about her, I will just say that I think about her often also. I hope that she finds peace and happiness. I know that she and I may have our differences but one thing we do have in common is that we both love a very special little boy. So, I wish her happy mother's day as well.

Of course, I also wish my mom a happy mother's day. I never really realized how much we had in common until I also became a mom. We don't always agree (what parent and child does) but we do love each other. I know my mom is always here for me to love me, support me and encourage me. She shares her wisdom with me as well as her faith and love. I hope she has a wonderful mother's day. I also hope that I make her as happy and proud as my boys make me every day.

Tomorrow is mother's day. Brooke is being confirmed and baptized so we won't be concentrating as much on mother's day as in the past. My children will be with me and I get to see my "mentee" confess her faith. I can't think of a better mother's day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

10 More Days!

10 more days until M turns 2! I look at M and am amazed at how far he has come since he arrived almost 9 months ago. He was hoarse from screaming and crying. He said 3 words and grunted at the other times. He didn't trust that I would remember to feed him at meal times and was sure I would disappear if he couldn't see me. It took months before he was willing to walk anywhere when we were away from home. Now, he talks non-stop and is beginning to use 3 word sentences regularly. He not only walks but runs and jumps also. He is getting better at listening to me. He not only trusts that I will come back but loves to give me a kiss good-bye and tell me "bye Mommy".

Nine months has flown by. The baby I picked up at the social worker's office is no longer a baby. He is now a toddler who I have to watch closely but also am beginning to be able to trust slightly. We still have some things to work on. It is hard to tell what issues are a result of his past traumas and what is just him developing normally. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter why he acts the way he does. He just needs constant love, structure, support and parenting.

Jacob told me this morning that we should "trade M in for a nicer kid." That may be Jacob's opinion. I know that most of the time M is a very sweet kid who I am honored to be able to parent. Whether it is for a few more months or forever. Every day I am thankful that God sent me this beautiful little boy and that he has come so far in such a short amount of time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Preparing For Summer

The "unofficial" start of summer is only two and a half weeks away. Spring and Summer are my favorite seasons! The warm air and the chance to spend time outside with family and friends. I also love just going to a park and enjoying nature and quiet. It is such a nice change from shivering inside during the winter months!

Jacob, M and I are busy preparing for this summer. It is going to be busy but also full of fun. Jacob has been working hard to learn how to peddle a bike. He has tricycles at his school and has gotten very good at riding them. Now, he is determined to learn to ride "a big bike like Grandpa."

Being a grandpa is still Jacob's #1 dream and goal for when he grows up. He absolutely adores his grandfather and wants to do everything Grandpa does. Grandpa rides a bicycle almost every day beginning when the ice and snow melts and until the first snow falls in the fall. Jacob is determined to learn to ride as well as Grandpa. Every day after school, Jacob runs to the garage, straps on his helmet and practices riding. If I even suggest doing something else first, Jacob insists that he has to practice pedaling and bike riding first. He should be an expert by the end of summer!

One of my other favorite things about summer is all of the fresh fruits and vegetables. There is just something special about food picked fresh from a garden. Last year Jacob and I grew tomatoes and green peppers. I decided to try a few new plants this year. I dug up the garden using my two good hands and nine good fingers earlier today. Jacob, M and I planted carrots, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes and green peppers after they got home from school this afternoon and after Jacob practiced riding his bike. I have never grown most of the plants before so it will be interesting to see how they turn out. I would like to try a few other things in the future.

It is raining right now and watering our plants. Hopefully, the seeds and plants will grow well and we will have delicous and cheap vegetables this summer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Recently Overheard

Here are some things I overheard recently from my kids.

J: "I don't have a daddy in my family. I have a grandpa."

M: "Bye Daddy! Bye Daddy!" to the pizza delivery man as he drove away from our house waving.

J: "I'm not a person. I'm a man!" Said to M in the backseat of the car.

J: "Mom! The other kids won't share the ball with me!" I was wondering why he was just watching the other kids kick the soccer ball and wouldn't take it from them. I tried to convince him that he doesn't have to share the ball with the other team.

M: "No biting teachers! Bite Brooke!" Said after he got in trouble for spending an afternoon hitting and biting his daycare teachers.

An Unexpected Vacation

I have received an unexpected vacation from work. I was at the batting cage yesterday when I get hit in the hand by a 65 mph pitch. Thankfully, it's not broken just a little sore, purple and swollen. I can't go back to work until I can pull at least six pounds with it. Right now, I can't put enough pressure on it to turn the key on the front door or lift anything with it.

The doctor predicts it will be better at the end of this week. He gave me a note to be off work through Friday. While I really didn't want to use the sick leave, it is nice having the week off work. I go back to work on Saturday and then have a four-day weekend while I celebrate Brooke's confirmation and have my normal days off work.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Steps Towards A New Life

Jacob and I took another step towards our new life. People that know me well know that I have not been happy at my current job for about six years. To say I don't like it is a huge understatement. I work there because I have to pay the bills and support my family. No other reason.

About three years ago, I almost changed jobs. I had spoken to people from other law enforcement agencies who encouraged me to look at other agencies. These officers had once worked where I work and had been much happier after leaving. I almost accepted a job in Sheboygan, WI but decided against it at the last minute. I had a long conversation with my dad about it and realized that moving at that time would mean putting my adoption hopes on hold for a number of years. I decided at that time to stay where I was so that I could adopt Jacob and become a mom. That was a decision that I do not regret but I have moved on from that point now.

Earlier this year, I decided it was time to make a major career change. I have decided to leave law enforcement. It is not because I want to but because it is the best decision for my family. I do not believe changing agencies and working second or third shift is in our best interest at this point. I am also pretty sure that I want a career change and not just an agency change.

I applied to graduate school last January after spending some time researching my options. It will take me two years to complete graduate school. Only about 40 percent of the applicants are accepted to graduate school so I am happy to have gotten in. My next big challenge was finding a way to pay for it. A career in child protective services pays considerably less than I make right now. I am trying to save money and pay off debt to prepare for the lower income and taking out $21,000 in loans would not have helped that cause.

On Friday, I received word that I was accepted into the child welfare stipend program. It is part of the title IV-E grant from the federal government. Title IV-E is federal funds used to assist children in foster care. It also pays for graduate school for people dedicated to making a difference in child welfare. That was the part of the grant I was awarded. There are only a few stipends awarded to each university so I knew the odds of getting it were against me. Everyone wants it since it pays for all tuition and fees but only a few people get it.

In exchange for the stipend, I have to work one year in child protective services for every year of school they pay for. Right now, I have committed myself to one year. Another part of the program is that I agree to take the first job offered to me in child protective services. The university will try to help me find employment in Northeastern Wisconsin. That is the part that makes me and my family nervous. It also means I will have to move after graduate school since I don't live close enough to those jobs to commute.

Jacob, M and I took our first step towards moving yesterday. We drove to the campus that my classes will be at and then checked out the community a little. Our good friend Jasmine came with us and gave us her approval. Jasmine will be graduating high school when I graduate graduate school. We went to some shopping centers and looked at clothes for my field placement. I also took the opportunity to watch how people reacted to my interracial family and my biracial teenage friend. While we got a few more odd looks than at home, it wasn't many. Most people smiled at my kids and were warm and friendly. It was also more diverse than I anticipated. The community we were at is geographically in the middle of the area the university will try to place me in. I will be able to drive to almost any job location I am assigned to. I am feeling pretty confident this is where we will be living in two years.

There are some things that I need to do before I can even really start working on relocation. M is the biggest thing. His foster care case needs to be resolved. Since his case is still looking like I will most likely adopt him, I need to stay in my current home and job. I am still hoping his case will be resolved by next spring. After that, anything is possible. I will wait to move until I have a job and feel the timing is right. I do believe it will be in 1-2 years though. Yesterday was the first step. Now, I just need to be patient and trust God will help everything work out well.

I also bought new tennis shoes. I will need those as I race full-speed ahead through school, my field placement and current parenting and work responsibilities. The next two years will be very busy but I am committed to making life better for me and my kids.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I was accepted into the child welfare program for next year. That means I will be receiving a title IV-E grant. It will pay for all of my tuition and fees for next year. That is the equivalent of over $10,000! To say I am excited and relieved is an understatement. I have to apply again to get it for my second year of grad school but at least I have one year paid. It will be nice to attend college for free!

I had a very bad day at work. It was one of those days that make me want to quit and walk away. I have actually had a few of them lately. While I can't afford to just quit my job, this grant does make life easier. It means I am now one step closer to being able to start a new career when I am ready. I still need to finish M's foster care case and possibly his adoption, sell my house and find another job. Those things will happen in time though. The biggest delay is M's foster care/adoption case. I love M and can't afford to risk losing his placement for a career change.

I trust God will see that everything works out. I know that God is calling me to a career in child protective services. It just feels right. I have put the entire situation into God's control. So far I have been accepted into grad school, gotten most of the days off work I need and have been accepted into the grant program I needed and wanted. There are a few more days off and I need to find a field placement that will be willing to work with my regular job schedule. I will make that work out though. I am not completely sure how but I will make it happen. Whether that be by getting the days off through the normal time off routine or trading shifts with someone else, I will make it happen.


Jacob came home from school very concerned about tornados. He stated a tornado went by his classroom yesterday and into the boys bathroom. He stated it was really windy and then the teachers blew a whistle and they all had to go to the girls bathroom to get away from the tornado. I asked him if it was just a practice for if there was ever a real tornado. He insisted that there really was a tornado and it wasn't just pretend.

Jacob has been asking questions ever since then about tornados. He wants to know where they live? When do they come out? Do they only come when it rains? Can they break houses? How about schools? His questions are endless.

I knew that this would be an issue for him and even considered keeping him at home when they had the state wide tornado drills. He is afraid of fire alarms due to the fire drills at school. He has to look around whenever we enter a building to see if there are any alarms. If he sees them, he will ask if they are going to go off. I always assure him they won't go off while we are eating or at church or whatever the activity is. I knew that tornado drills would cause the same kind of concern for him.

I wish there was a way to calm his fears. He knows we have a weather radio to warn us of tornados and smoke detectors to warn us of fires. He is still concerned though. I am hoping that this is a phase that will pass quickly and just be a memory for him soon. He doesn't get scared so much as just concerned. He still goes into buildings with fire alarms and sleeps at night. He just needs reassurance that he is safe. I guess fire alarms and tornados are his monsters under the bed.