Sunday, August 30, 2009

What I Have Learned As A Foster And Adoptive Parent

I cannot believe I have been a parent for almost two and a half years now. It seems like just yesterday I was in Ethiopia scared to death and excited to meet my new son. Jacob was 17 months old and still had the little wobble that young toddlers have when walking and trying to learn how to run. I was worried he would fall down the stairs as he learned how to climb them. I still remember calling the hospital in a panic when he woke up at midnight with his first bloody nose. It only lasted a few minutes but it seemed like forever for me. Or the time I called poison control because Jacob found a long lost bottle of Tums. That's when I learned that a child needs to eat a very large amount before it is a concern. I don't remember the exact number but it was something like 25.

Now Jacob is handing out invitations to a party to celebrate his fourth birthday next month. M has been with us for a year and will hopefully be here for many more. I have learned a lot over the past two years and have a lot more to learn. Here are some of the things I have learned.

- Children hit there heads a lot. And live.
- If you think you're child won't say or do something. He will prove you wrong. Every time.
- There is no one in the world who can make me laugh like my children. Sometimes they make me laugh on purpose and other times on accident. The end result is a reminder about how much fun it is to be a mom.
- Children make you rethink every decision you have ever made and will ever make. They just put things in a whole new light.
- It takes about 1 month for a child to begin to feel comfortable in the home and begin to work through the grieving process to take place. It takes about a year for a child to actually be completely attached and feel like they have always been there (or at least in my home).
- The first 6 weeks with a new child are difficult. The first six days are the hardest.
- Children come up with some amazing stories and ideas. It is fun to just listen to them and even more fun to try to join them in their imaginary worlds.
- Three year olds know everything. Just ask them.
- All children can show great improvement in a short period of time in a stable and loving home. They may have permanent and long-term needs but they are also capable of great change.
- Neglect and abuse have long lasting effects but those effects can be minimized with a loving and stable home.
- Children are not responsible for the behaviors due to their past abuse and neglect. Parents must be patient and help them heal so that they can work on the poor behaviors.
- All kids deserve loving and forever homes. All kids have the right to be safe and feel safe. It's not always easy to make a new child feel safe but it is a great feeling when a child shows that they finally feel secure.
- Seeing a child with food issues throw food during a tantrum is one of the best feelings in the world. It means progress is being made.
- Looking at pictures and seeing how a child's smile gets bigger and his eyes brighter the longer he is with you is an amazing gift.
- Every day holds new challenges and even greater rewards. It is important to recognize the child's progress on the good days as well as the bad days.
- I love my children more than I ever knew was possible. Whether a child is with me for a few days or years does not change my love for that child. God sends me children to love and I will be forever thankful.
- Children grow up way too fast. So treasure every moment you have with them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesdays Activities

I had inservice yesterday. Basically we practiced driving squad cars around a race track, listened to a presentation on suicide and then practiced shooting guns for a little while. Nothing too strenuous but being outside all day always seems to drain my energy.

Our fabulous house cleaner came over yesterday and worked her magic. I always love coming home when I know she has been there. I had been meaning to shampoo the living room carpet since we are still housebreaking the puppy. He doesn't have many accidents anymore but I just couldn't be sure he hasn't had some that I didn't find. One of the nice things about small dogs is that their accidents are small. That also makes them harder to find if you don't actually see the event. The carpet is now drying and looks much better.

Jacob has been growing all summer. He is now about an inch taller than at the beginning of June. I keep thinking he will slow down but he hasn't shown any signs of it yet. Last night he ate a cheeseburger, french fries, apples, grapes, walnuts, yogurt for dipping, crackers and potato chips. A few weeks ago I watched him consume three large slices of pizza in one sitting. I just shake my head in amazement. I am not looking forward to when he is a teenager.

Jacob and M assisted me with vacuuming and shampooing by following me around the house with their toy vacuums. By the time we were finished, it was time for bed. Jacob didn't take a nap at school like he normally does and M was a little cranky so I decided it was a good night for everyone to go to bed early.

Monday, August 24, 2009


How I wish I had pictures. I really need to get back into the habit of carrying it with me. Here is a review of yesterday even though I don't have any pictures to go with it.

-I worked during the day and the kids stayed with one of their weekend babysitters. The kids had fun playing in the yard. The dad kept throwing a football over the house that the boys would then run and try to find. Apparently they did this for most of the afternoon. I know they were still having lots of fun when I arrived to pick them up.

-We had our work picnic last night. I was tired and wasn't really feeling up to going. Jacob really wanted to go and it was free so I decided we would make an appearance. I am glad we did. Jacob and M got bubbles that they quickly decided were fun to pour out and use as soap instead. They refused to eat dinner since it was only about 4:00 so I let them fill up on popcicles and cookies instead. I know. I won't get any mothering awards for it but the boys had fun so I didn't really care. It was only one night. I really enjoyed the food though and left stuffed.

- We saw some neighbors we hadn't seen for awhile when we got home. I love summer and seeing neighbors outside. I'm not sure where everyone has been hiding this summer or maybe we just haven't been home to see them. Last night we were able to catch up for awhile.

- We headed over to my parents' house for a little while later in the evening. Of course, they were just getting ready to eat when we arrived. The boys managed to get enough food to create a well-balanced diet of hotdogs and fruit. Much better for them than what they ate earlier in the day.

- Jacob asked me to play a game with him. That is something we hadn't done together before. He always lost interest fairly quickly and would decide to play his own way. I would get frustrated and quit. Last night was different though. We played Candy Land and Hi-Ho Cherry-O. He managed to win at both without cheating. I was amazed at his beginner's luck and promised to play again soon. M had a lot of fun trying to interfere with the game by stealing pieces but eventually settled down to just playing with the extra cherries and buckets with Grandma.

- M had a great time working on puzzles with Uncle Chuck and then playing with a flashlight. It amazes me that his favorite toy is a cheap flashlight and not one of the more expensive toys that looked so fun in the store. Simple is definitelly better sometimes. I enjoy watching the many things he can play with a stick or with a flashlight. It really gives me a glimpse into his mind and what he is thinking. I can see why play therapy can be so effective.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Great Message

I have to admit that we haven't gone to church lately. We have either been on vacation or at birthday parties for about the last six weeks. We were finally free tonight and I really wanted to attend. I am so glad I did.

Pastor Scott told the story of the disciples feeding 5000 men with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He reminded us that God will always provide for us and we don't need to worry about getting the things we need to do His work. It was such a great message for me to hear this week. I am nervous about beginning my internship and trying to juggle school, parenting and work.

At the same time, I recently interviewed for the exact job I want to get when I graduate from school. If I was given this job, it would mean that I would be able to delay graduate school until my children are a little older. I would also be able to use graduate school as my continuing education hours and most likely have my job be supportive and flexible (or at least more flexible than my current job).

I am very anxious to hear about the job. I should hear something next week. If I don't get the job, then I will begin my internship in just a couple of weeks. Another very scary new beginning. I am feeling a little overwhelmed and nervous about finding out if I have what it takes to be a good social worker.

It was so great to be reminded that if God wants me to work in social work and child welfare, He will give me (or help me learn) the skills I need to be successful. It may be through school or through a new job but He knows what is best for me. I just need to be patient and trust that everything will work out how it is suppose to. I know that changing careers is the best thing for me and for my children. I will be happier at work and the schedule will be much better for raising my sons.

Swollen Toes

Jacob and a friend were playing outside last night. They had the styrofoam and cardboard box from our new vacuum and were playing some kind of a game with the dog. I really didn't think much about it since they were playing nicely and nothing seemed wrong.

I called the kids in to the house to take the friend home after about 20 minutes. Jacob stated that his toes hurt and he wanted six bandaids. I glanced at his feet but didn't see any blood so I told him we would look into it when we got home. About an hour later, Jacob stood up in the driveway to walk into the house and began crying. He stated that his toes hurt very badly and he couldn't walk.

I carried him into the house and realized that the bottom of all five toes on one foot and one toe on the other were bright red and slightly swollen. My first thought was that he had stepped on something and was having an allergic reaction. I applied hydrocortizone cream but it just didn't have much of an effect. If anything, his toes looked more inflamed. I called the on-call nurse but she couldn't really offer any suggestions. She thought maybe they were bruised but it just didn't look like it to me. Especially since it was just the bottom of his toes.

I questioned Jacob several times last night but couldn't figure out what happened. This morning I finally asked him exactly what he was doing when the pain first started. He stated he was rubbing the edge of a piece of paper over his toes. Ah ha! The swelling was down this morning and I was able to see several little papercuts on his toes. I gave him some brand new cushy socks and told him to leave his shoes on today. I also suggested that he not rub paper over his feet and explainied that his toes hurt because of the paper cuts.

Hopefully his feet will feel better tonight. I am grateful it was nothing more serious and hope he learned a lesson from it. Similiar to when M jumped head first into a door and discovered that it hurt. I don't think either will be doing those things again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Child Welfare Beginnings

I am now one step closer to beginning a new career in the child welfare system. I have always known that my calling is to work with children. My first major in college was elementary education. I took a part-time job in private security that eventually led me to law enforcement but my favorite calls are always those that involve children.

As the years have gone on, I have remained committed to children. I mentor three girls as well as have my own children. I love being a foster parent and have learned a lot about working with the children and families. The past eight years in law enforcement has helped me prepare to relate and understand the families in the foster care system. As an adoptive and foster parent, I understand the unique challenges that come with these unique parenting situations. I have been active in a single mothers by choice group and of course have experience as part of an multiracial family.

It seems only logical that my new career be in child welfare. I really believe this is where God is calling me to work. I could be wrong but I really feel this is where I belong.

I had an interview yesterday for an internship about an hour away from my home. I will be working as an ongoing social worker in the child protective services unit. Too say I am excited is an understatement. I want to start yesterday. I want to quit my current job and just volunteer there for as many hours and on as many cases as they are willing to let me have. Unfortunately, that isn't possible since I still need to support my family and have a source of income if M's case proceeds to an adoption.

For now, I am just enjoying the knowledge that I am one step closer to my new career. I will learn a lot over the next several months. I will qualify for my social work license at the end of the school year and have a lot of options. Until then, I am excited to finally be on the path I need to travel to make my life and my children's lives better.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why I Am A Mom According To Jacob

Jacob and I were talking this morning about life in general. I told him that I was going to stay in bed all day. He stated I had to get up because I had an interview. I told him he could go for me. He stated, "I'm not big enough to work the computers yet." He then stated that I have to get up and be a mom. I asked him what a mom does. He stated, "You cook meals for me. I can't cook my own food. I'll get hurt." I agreed that I would get up and be mom. He then stated I am his mom because "Asnake (the orphanage director in Ethiopia) gave you to me." He stated that he wanted a new mommy so Asnake gave me to him so he would have a mom.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vacation Pictures

Vacation at Yellowstone was wonderful. I am still trying to catch up. It seems like my to do list is getting longer rather than shorter. I have the next three days off work so I hope to get caught up a little bit. I also plan to find some time to just relax by myself since that hasn't happened in awhile. I can feel the stress beginning to build up which means it is time to escape for a couple hours.

Enjoy the following samples of some of the things we saw in Yellowstone. I was nervous that the younger kids wouldn't enjoy it but I was wrong. They did great in the car and were very good in the park.

Thankful For Good Daycare

Thre is nothing more comforting than knowing your children are well cared for when you are not there. I have spent quite a bit of time at my children's daycare and am constantly amazed. The teachers are very patient even when the children are having some very rough days. I have never seen a teacher lose her patience despite the best efforts of the children.

Many daycares are very inflexible with the hours the children are allowed there. They limit the children to a certain number of hours a day and do not like when parents are changing the children's hours. I emailed the director today because I need my children to attend 10.5 hours on the days I have my internship this year. The daycare director stated it would not be a problem. They don't complain if I pull the kids out early or call an hour before pick-up to state I am working late. As a single parent, I really appreciate their flexibility. It is so nice to know that I don't have to worry about the boys while I try to juggle all of the rest of life's responsibility.

Only 4 more weeks until school starts and 3 weeks until my internship begins.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Settling In

We have been back from vacation for a few days now and are finally beginning to settle back into our normal routine. It seems like life has just been really crazy lately. When I picked Jacob up from daycare yesterday he stated, "It is going to be another crazy day today. Isn't it Mom?" Here are some highlights from our lives the last few days.

-The biggest project I have going right now is trying to clean my bedroom and get laundry done. One of my cats had an emergency while I was gone. My friend found her and we were able to get her medical care so that she is fine now. Before she was found, she managed to urinate in my closet, laundry basket and pull everything off of my dresser and out of my closet. It was a huge mess to come home to. I decided it was a good time to do a very complete and detailed cleaning since everything was torn apart anyway.

-Jacob had another dermatology appointment on Wednesday morning. We were the first appointment of the day at the surgery center. That allowed us to drive to where I will have an interview for an internship. The internship will be in child protective services and should be a great experience. Jacob and I found the place without a problem. On our way home, we stopped for ice cream and a hair cut. We also picked M up from daycare and ran a few more errands.

-I returned to work on Thursday. I was planning to go home after work and try to tackle some of the laundry and other chores from vacation yet. Instead, I received an email from M's social worker. She was working on a report and wanted to see him. I agreed that she could stop by that night. She ended up not arriving until 5:30 PM and left around 6. I decided it was way to late for grocery shopping before dinner so I took the kids to Taco Bell. By this time, I was exhausted so we stopped to say hi to my dad on the way home. It is an easy way for me to get some help entertaining the kids and a chance to relax a little bit without worrying about all of the unfinished chores.

-Yesterday we saw P again. You may remember she is my little sister through Big Brothers/Big Sisters. We hadn't seen her in about 3 weeks because of vacation. I still haven't made it to the store so we went to Noodles and Company for dinner. From there we went to the park and then just hung out until it was time to take her home.

-My brother was at my parents house last night so we stopped there. It was late but we had a very overdue birthday present to give him. The kids were having so much fun and behaving so well that I was really enjoying the visit. We ended up staying until almost 9:00. That meant hustling home and to bed since we had to get up early again today for work.

As you can see, I just haven't had much time to do anything lately. I still have unpacked suitcases and laundry to do. We are hoping to attend a birthday party for a little while tonight. After the party, we will have to stop at the grocery store and then head straight home. I am hoping to get at least a couple loads of laundry done and the suitcases put away before bedtime tonight.

I am beginning to think we need another vacation just to catch up from the last vacation.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We Are Back!

We are back from vacation. We actually arrived home last night. It has been a whirlwind of activity.

The last week of vacation was absolutely wonderful and very busy. We had a great time visiting with my wonderful relatives in Greeley, Colorado. I always wish I was able to just pack up and move there after a visit. Maybe some day we will. Or maybe it will remain one of those fantasies that just never seems to have the right timing or be the right choice for us.

I hope to post a lot of pictures in the next few days. Today I just don't have the time or energy to find the camera. It's still buried somewhere in our luggage.

I had hoped to get a lot more done today than I did. Jacob had another dermatology appointment this morning. We had to be at the surgery center at 6:30 this morning. That meant that M had to be at daycare at 6:00. About 1 1/2 hours earlier than we have been getting up while travelling! We all made it though and the kids had a fairly good day. Jacob chose a pink airplane as his toy for after the appointment.

I also drove to the building where I will have an interview for an internship next week. I am pretty sure that I will be working there and the interview is mostly a formality. I am looking forward to getting it completed and everything ready for the next semester.

I also have 3 vet appointments (one needs to be rescheduled), another interview and a home visit with our foster home consultant next week. They will all occur on my three days off. Between now and then, I need to finish unpacking the car, unpack the suitcases and do laundry, pick up the house and prepare for the interviews and school. It will be a busy first week back.

I promise more pictures are coming.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


We are enjoying our final evening in the Yellowstone evening. I promise I will post pictures soon.

The trip so far has gone very well. We left Thursday night and drove about five hours. Friday morning we drove about 3 hours and stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. We then drove about 5 hours and saw Mt. Rushmore. We were running a little later than I had hoped so we stopped at Quiznos for a quick dinner. We then drove the rest of the way to the hotel.

On the way to the hotel we saw several antelopes and buffalo. I wasn't sure what the antelope were since I had never seen them before. I knew they didn't look like deer but wasn't sure what else they could be. A quick phone call confirmed what I had guessed that they were very beautiful antelope. The kids and I all really enjoyed seeing the animals.

Saturday we finished driving to Yellowstone. We arrived at the hotel fairly late and just decided to spend time there. After two days in the car, Brooke and Jasmine really needed teenager time away from young children and old ladies (me). The boys and I enjoyed a nice dip in the hotel swimming pool before going to bed.

We spent the past three days hiking and driving around Yellowstone. We saw more buffalo, mule deers, elk and mountain goats. I really enjoyed the boiling mud pools and the geisers. We got some nice pictures.

As you head into the park, there are several signs telling you to stay away from the animals. The park guide states to stay at least 500 feet from all animals except bears and wolves. Then you need to stay 300 yards away. That is great except when the animals won't stay away from you. We had a family, including babies, of buffalo pass right in front of our car. I admit I got a little nervous when the 2000 pound male stopped and looked right at me. He was only inches from my front bumper and no more than 6 feet from me. Of course, I was in the car but that wasn't much comfort when his big horns are aimed right at me and he is looking directly at me. We did get some good pictures of him though.

Tonight we are swimming and then packing for the trip tomorrow. I plan to leave by 7 AM and begin the drive to Colorado. We should reach our hotel in the late afternoon/early evening tomorrow depending on how much we stop and if there are any delays.

Pictures coming soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I love this "stop"!

This picture was taken a rest stop in Wyoming. I loved the way they had a special area set up for pets.

Corn Palace Pictures

Great Shirt!

I loved this shirt. We found it at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. It states
I didn't do it.
Nobody saw me do it.
I want to speak to my Gradpa.

This shirt is perfect for a little boy who idolizes his grandpa.