Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Year Ago Today - Part 3: That Darn Car

This is actually for yesterday - it happened yesterday (or, on Memorial Day last year).  But instead of writing the blog I spent time with my family, hiking at the local outdoor nature museum, taking my dad to the airport, and swimming with my son and niece.  Quite a fitting way to honor 1 year ago today in my opinion. 

If you're just joining in, this is my new, short-term series walking you through my life one-year-ago today (which was a series of "todays" that lasted 3 weeks).  The story started here, then here.  This is part 3 - remember I had a severely injured ankle and my best friend and husband's grandfather had just died on the same day. 

Memorial Day 2010 was a much needed day of rest.  I believe we went swimming.  I also believe a friend brought over dinner.  I was still in shock and just trying to remember to breath at that point.  We probably took a family nap around 2.  I honestly don't remember because I was completely overwhelmed at that point.

I think we probably took a family nap because my husband worked that night.  He had called in to take the day off on Sunday to mourn and help me out as he knew it was rough.  Monday was a great break because neither of us had to work yet and he had all day to spend with us, at least until nap time.  On days my husband works he likes to take a nap and whenever I or the kids are home with him I try to institue "family nap", where we all sleep together (well, at least at the same time).  When I can arrange that it is wonderful.  So that's probably what we did.

Then my husband headed off to work, probably around 4:30ish, and I believe my kids were still sleeping, at least the 2 younger ones.  He took our 2001 Cheverolet Blazer, the default car for the parent who didn't have the kids at the moment - it only sat 2 in the back seat and though that was a comfy 2 it didn't work well with 3 kids.  The Corrolla was the only option for the parent who had the kids.  Unfortunately, the Blazer, my beloved "Smoky" whom I bought brand new in college, was getting up there in both years (9) and miles (150K?) and was nearing the end of its life.  We did what we could with it anyway because both our cars were paid for and we didn't want another car payment.

I probably got up and started cleaning when he left.  That's what I do when he leaves for work and I had plenty to do having just moved into the new house.  Only 10-15 minutes after he left he called.

He had broken down on the side of the road.  It was 100 degrees (or really hot...don't remember the temperature).  It was memorial day.  The tow truck was on its way but was going to take at least 45 minutes or an hour.  He needed me to come rescue him - the car was really overheating.

I remember getting sleeping kids into the car (also why I knew we were napping).  I remember going to Sonic to get  my husband a grape Dr. Pepper since he was in the heat with no relief and I wanted to bless him.  (I got myself a treat too).  I remember picking him up and the tow truck arrived about the same time.  I remember following the tow truck to the local repair shop.  I think the radiator had cracked.  I know we left the car at the shop. 

I can't remember how we got home.  I know my husband went to work that night.  I'm guessing he took me and the kids home in the Corrolla, dropped us off, then went into work.  I'm guessing.  I don't know.  I know it was several days before we got the Blazer back.  I'm pretty sure anyway.  The plan was for us to alternate use of the one car.  That was the plan.

I know it's silly and pretty darn minor, but given everything else that had already happened - this was just extra weight on our shoulders.  What otherwise would have been a minor inconvenience felt almost unbearably heavy.  I'm sure we uttered "what next" a few times....

If only we had known we weren't even close to seeing our last shoe drop yet.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

One Year Ago Today - Part 2: Deaths

The story started here.  This is part 2 - remember I had a severely broken (I call it that though the break was minor) ankle.

A year ago today started out somewhat normal.  Though it was a holiday weekend and I had my injury I was dealing with, but other than that it was normal.  We were serving in the church nursery with one of the wife of one of the pastors.  We had just sat down, playing with the babies, telling our friend about the injury. I was explaining what had happened, our story of being foster parents, etc.  It was really pleasant.  Then my husband's phone rang and our world changed.

My husband walked to the back of the room and I knew it was bad.  I just knew.  As he hung up or maybe while he was still on the phone he whispered to me "Stephanie is dead".  It was her mom, who was trying to get a hold of someone, and she had our number in her phone from the t-ball game the day before.  Stephanie wasn't able to get off work to take her son to the last blastball game her son and our son played together.  My husband was a coach and made sure, this time, that her son batted because every game before then he was too shy.  Stephanie missed him but we videotaped it so she could see it.  I believe she did.

Stephanie was one of my best friends.  She was the first person I met when we moved to Texas besides the people from work and she was an instant friend.  We lived across the street from each other for 5 crazy years - truest of thick and thin.  We were pregnant together - her son was born 3 months after mine - we were with her through one of the craziest divorces I've heard of - she was there for me through infertility and as a new foster parent.  She had the most beautiful smile.  She was a single mom.  I was kind of like a single mom when my husband worked so we were together almost every day, either letting our kids play or watching a movie, or eating takeout.  Or cooked dinner.  Her hashbrown casserole was my favorite. 

She was one of the most amazing people.  Though she had plenty of hardship in her life that she faced, she overcame it with amazing grace.  I learned so much from her about southern hospitality and true friendship.  Taking life with grace.  Facing people with generosity.  She did everything for her son.  Mostly by herself and she did it with a smile.  Always a beautiful smile.  I hated seeing her in the casket because though they did a great job with her at the funeral home there was no way they could recreate her smile.

The call told us she never made it to work.  She never made it to drop her son off with her mom.  So, her mom became worried and went to her home - her car was there but she didn't answer the door.  When the police finally came the found her dead in her apartment.  At 35 years old she died of natural causes - with everything she had survived natural causes took her life.  Her 3-year-old son was sitting near her.  He knew she was dead though I don't think he could really comprehend what that meant at the time. 

As we sat outside her apartment waiting for the coroner to arrive we chatted, my  husband and I with her family who we'd come to know over the years.  We talked about Dr. Pepper.  We talked laughed about how her sister and I had matching shoes - then remembered how I received mine when Stephanie gave them to me when mine broke.  Their mother had given to her and now I have a pair too.  We talked and laughed and shared about the matching tatoos Stephanie and I had gotten together just a few months earlier - butterflies - hers blue and mine pink.  We got them on a girls night out - the first and only for both of us - I didn't tell my husband before hand and got in big trouble but now knowing how things turned out I wouldn't change it for the world.  We cried a lot.  We laughed a lot.  When the coroner came but before they took her away we went inside for a mini-service - I kissed her forehead goodbye.  I'm glad I did - I knew she was dead.  It was a closure of sorts.

As we sat and waited for the coroner our phone rang again.  It was my father-in-law.  My husband's grandfather passed away minutes earlier.  It was the 3rd grandparent that died within the last 6 months in our families.  Though we were sad, it was so much different than losing a friend.  Too many tears had already fallen.  It's very interesting to experience both types of deaths at the same time - it helped us see how different it was to say goodbye to a grandparent vs. a friend.

My heart hurt so much that day - and for a long time afterward.  I had to grieve all that was my dreams and hopes that I saw in my life that would no longer include my friend by my side.  I wish I could have more time with her.  I wish things could go back to the way they were then.  But it isn't my choice.  God had a different plan.  There is a big hole where she used to be.  I miss her.

The last time I saw her was at CVS the Monday before.  She was there with her son who had pink-eye and needed to see the MinuteClinic doctor.  I stopped by to get swim diapers because I wanted to take my kids swimming.  I'm so glad - I had the chance to see her one last time.  I of course didn't know that would be the last time, something so simple.  But she smiled as she sat there at 7pm with her son - knowing he couldn't go to school and she would have to come up with childcare plans or stay home from work - all by herself.  But she smiled and she showed me and my kids so much love. 

I hope she knows how much she meant to me.  I only wish I could be that type of friend to others.  I need to try to honor her memory and the impact she had on my life.  She is greatly missed. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

One Year Ago Today - Part 1: The Foot

Today I'm starting a new series that will walk you through the horror we lived through "1 year ago today". You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not - the events that unfolded last year at this time were utterly, incessantly traumatic. We survived. Some others did. Some did not. Our lives will never be the same but hopefully by documenting it all as it happened I can process through it, intentionally this time, and finally put it to rest having it no longer be "1 year ago".

One year ago today - started out somewhat differently than any other Friday. It was the Friday before memorial day and it was a good day. I had to stay home that day in the morning because we had a visit from the social worker for our 1st sibling group. I had a 1pm meeting, so I intended to be there for the visit then head into work and finish the day while the hubby was home with the kids for the afternoon. I'm trying to remember if my son was there - I don't remember him being there at all but he may have been either at school already that day or at home with us - funny how some things you don't remember. I bet he was at home because his daycare used to like to take Friday's before holidays off. I bet he was home.
We had just moved into our new home exactly 1 week earlier and though we had put away most things in that week we still had several boxes left to unpack, scattered throughout the house. I think the appointment time we had with the social worker was something like 9:30 or 10am. Sometimes (ahem...) caseworkers are late so as the time approached I didn't wonder too much where she was but as it became later and later I started to wonder if she was coming. Then I realized that she was a new caseworker and didn't live in the area. I didn't have her cell phone number (I hadn't really met her yet), just her office number and email address, and as I thought about it, I wondered if she never had our new address. She never showed.
So we waited and waited. I worked downstairs through the waiting while my husband played with the kids upstairs in the playroom. He was so good to do that. I suppose it was about 11:30 or so when I finally decided she wasn't coming so I was going to head into the office. I went upstairs to say goodbye to the hubby and kiddos. I decided I would carry a big box downstairs just to be helpful. It was empty but big so though I didn't have a hard time carrying it I couldn’t see where I was going really. That turned out to be a major issue. Our playroom is on the 2nd story, but you have to climb 2 additional steps to get to the playroom vs. the rest of the 2nd floor. I forgot about that; we had only lived there for 1 week. I couldn’t see the steps. I took a step expecting the floor to be there and it wasn’t. I landed sideways on my left ankle with full weight, immediately fell to the floor (obviously), and knew then this was a bad injury. My kids ran to me immediately and laid on top of me, worried about me crying in pain – which really was more fear of the incident than the actual pain. I was hurt but the pain wasn’t hugely overwhelming and my pain threshold is high.
My husband immediately called my sister to come get the kids so he could take me to the urgent care. When he helped me up I was surprised that I could put wait on it but there was no stability in my ankle. Turns out I had a hairline fracture but the biggest deal was that I tore all the (whatever) in the ankle area. All of it. I believe it was ligaments and tendons and everything. So if I put direct pressure on it then it was ok as long as it was light pressure, but if I had any twist in my ankle at all it was bad. So really I couldn’t walk on it because if I didn’t step exactly perfectly it was a huge problem.

The doctor gave me a half-leg boot that I had to wear for 8 weeks. I mean – at the time we didn’t know how long I had to wear it but it ended up being 8 weeks. During the middle of the summer – through everything else. So remember as I tell the rest of the “1 year ago today” story that I was fairly disabled in terms of my ability to walk around and I did so wearing the big boot. I call it the big boot because after the big boot, sometime in the middle of July, I was able to go onto the small ankle boot brace. It made my ankle immobile and stable but I was able to wear some shoes (I hadn’t in 8 weeks) and it wasn’t as heavy or disabling as the big boot. Sometimes I had to go back to the big boot for a period of time but mostly I wore the small one. It was very helpful as I really couldn’t walk without it. I wore that small ankle brace thing for another 3-4 months. After that I tapered off and still occasionally pull it out as I feel instable. Yes, 1 year later I feel unstable.
I can walk pretty well now. Stairs and anything else that cause me to bend my ankle up or down (point or flex my toe) reminds me of the injury – I’m still very weak there and I don’t know if it will ever be all the way better. It’s not really something I can work out. There’s a lot of scar tissue and just general weakness. Last night my son and I did a workout video and there were a lot of lunges – the good news is I made it through the whole (26 minute) video but the bad news is I still can’t really do lunges or that type of movement. And it’s not like it hurts and I can’t or it’s weak and I can’t – I just can’t; my foot doesn’t move like that anymore. I hope it goes back to normal someday but it’s one of those injuries where I think I might be living with it for a long time. Hopefully not.
I will say I’m pretty darn proud of myself though. Aside from everything else we went on to experience I made it through just day-to-day life. At the time I had 3 kids 3 and under. Shortly after I had an infant, then 2 infants who together weighed 50 lbs (and neither walked). I went on a hike in July (the day I got my small brace, though I don’t remember if I wore the small or big one). I didn’t go swimming much: the movement of the water and need to use my ankle to keep my body standing was just to much for me to ensure my kids were safe but we did go some especially later in the summer. We finished unpacking. I survived with a new found appreciation for handicap spots (though I didn’t have a placard). It was hard, but became more like a hindrance as we experienced things to come.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Medication!!!


One of our children came to us infested with ringworm.   I am sure this is fairly common - but only one of our kiddos has brought this lovely condition to us. 

Thankful #1 - None of our kids have brought home lice.

This has been quite the fighting condition.  Typically ringworm spreads easily, so between all of us it's somewhat understandable that we keep passing it back and forth, but not at this rate and not the way it pops up.  It's somewhat atypical in that it doesn't appear to show up in places of contact - right now I have one on my breast...isn't that pleasant?  And poor little one seems to have 4-5 at a time at all times, as soon as we start getting some cleared up they come right back.

Turns out little one is infested intestinally and THAT is why they keep coming back.  (which means at this point I probably am - I catch everything and based on how I keep having them sprout up it works out).  Thanks to a poor 6 week old at daycare who caught it and had the immediate signs of systemic infection, we now know what the cause is.  Thanks to a stool sample that I had to put together for little kiddo, we now have an official diagnosis.

Thankful #2 - We have an official diagnosis so we can get it taken care of!

So after thinking we're finally in the clear - or headed there - I was super excited.  The dr. notified me (or the lab did), then dr. called in a medication to the pharmacy (or the nurse did), and then I picked up the medication (or the hubby did). 

Thankful #3 - YAY for the prescription!

Except, when hubby picked up the medication it was 1500mg of an oral anti-fungal in the dose of 500mg pills, 3x a day for a total of 1500mg per day.  You can imagine how big those PILLS are.  This would be difficult enough if it were for our older children (or us), but it was for one of the younger children.  So my sweet hubby asked the pharmacist who confirmed it was the right prescription (really?) and recommended maybe we cut the pills up and give it the child.  Yeah, that'll work.

I wasn't convinced.

Thankful #4 - YAY for mom instincts!

I didn't feed the meds to the baby over the weekend and instead waited to talk to the doctor (the nurse) who OOPS! confirmed that the correct dose for an 18 month old is 1/150th of the dose that was prescribed.  Yes you see that right, .6% of the dose that we received from the pharmacy.  LESS THAN 1%.  This medication can cause severe liver and kidney damage and I'm sure at that dose for that small of a patient would have probably killed her.  I was furious.

So we went about getting the right prescription filled, a medication that is actually a syrup by-the-way not horse pills, and waited a few days to pick it up due to busy life circumstances.  The pharmacy called, presumably to tell me it was ready but alas it was not.  They were calling to tell me that they didn't have any and they tried to order some but the manufacturer is out indefinitely.  So, 2 more weeks went by while I waited and called a few other pharmacies with the same story.  No one carried it and it could't be ordered.

I was about to call the dr back and see if there was yet another prescription that might be available when I got the bright idea - Childrens Medical Center.  Seriously, if any pharmacy were to have it then Children's would right?

Thankful #5 - Yes Mam, we have that in-stock and it will be ready by noon!

So, around 2pm that day I left work and headed down the road to pick it up. Things went off without a hitch, I "paid" for it ($0 - Thanks medicaid!) and then I headed back to work to finish the day. That night I was so excited to start dispensing the medication.
Wouldn't you know the pharmacist forgot to mix it before sending me home.
I had 60 mg of crushed pills (strawberry flavored).
Thankful #6 - The instructions to mix it were on the package, which the pharmacist provided me.
So, I mixed my own medication. Pretty easy or I would have taken it back to have them do it. I've been giving her the medication now and should finish the dosing tomorrow morning.
Hopefully soon I'll be able to post Thankful #7 - NO MORE RINGWORM!
(By the way - another symptom of this condition is persistent diarrhea. Since we didn't have this child from birth we just figured that's how she pooped. She would blow out 2-3 diapers per day and that lasted most of her life with us). Now you know!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

But I'm Pregnant Too - Part II

In yesterday's post I talked about the difficulty about expecting a child through foster care adoption and how it's only slightly different than the risks of expecting through pregnancy.  I also mentioned I had originally planned to write the post a long time ago, before the turmoil of the birth parents' waivering on who would be the adoptive parents.  I never did write that post - but here's the story behind it.

It all started shortly after we learned of #4's brother - currently in utero.  After that phone call I called a few people, did a bit of texting, and even facebooked about it.  I was excited but my husband and I were admittedly cautious about getting too excited.  We knew that "things could happen".  When we had a court date, everyone talked to us (and I believe it was presented to the court) about the new baby and the plans for us to adopt.  It was a "sure thing" as sure as these things get.  Everyone was excited for us and that the baby would stay with his sister.  Not everyone, especially the judge, was well-pleased with the pregnancy in and of itself.  But come on - what are you going to do?  Don't answer that.

From then on I was a little bit more free to be excited about it.  Still cautious but getting more into the planning and dreaming stage of expectancy.  What is the sex?  What would we name him/her.  How would we configure our house?  What would we need?  I was just like an expecting mom, though I was still guarding my heart.

Then I went to my cousin's baby shower.  A great time was had by all.  I mean, at least a great time was had by me - I assume everyone had a great time.  I was around a lot of people I either didn't know or didn't know well.  A handful of them were pregnant and a handful of them just had a baby within a couple months.  So, as you can imagine there was a lot of talk about birth plans, new baby behaviors, etc.  Typical baby shower stuff.

As an infertile, baby showers really don't bother me.  I don't think they really ever have.  Sure, it has made me want to have my own baby showers before - but it's not so much a jealous thing it's a reminder that I am infertile that get's me "upset", if you can even call it that.  I'm always excited about the person having the shower and their new bundle about to arrive.  Afterall - I've had 1 birth myself and 8 kids enter my family over the last year - I'm all about adding little ones to the family.

As the conversation went on I was in an awkward place though, especially because I didn't know some of the people.  I was family, but I live out of state so some of the people there either didn't know who I was or if they did they didn't know us close enough to know our situation.  I had 2 kids with me myself - both of whom could easily look like me (one of whom does), and everyone was loading tons of attention especially on #4, our potential adoptive kiddo, whom they had never met.  It was a great time. 

Back to the conversations, I kept wanting to jump on in to the new moms/expecting moms as they talked. 
"We're expecting too!"
Or some other version of fitting into the conversation - you know...we're naming our child XX...well when our baby comes we're naming him/her XX.  We like green and blue - yeah we're thinking of animal themed nursery when ours comes...stuff like that.

Except I knew two things would happen.  First, for my family who didn't know what I was talking about they'd get all excited about my pregnancy and I'd have to "let them down" that I wasn't actually pregnant.  Then for everyone else I knew the next question would be - When are you due?  or How far along are you?
I'm super comfortable with my situation and A-OK with the fact that the answer was and is July.  Which at the time would have made me almost 7 months pregnant.  Especially for child #2 (or depending how much people knew about me up to child #5), there is no way I look 7 months pregnant.  I mean, I'm not the most fit person out there, but I'm not obviously "with child" as someone in their late 2nd/early 3rd trimester is.

So - then I would have to go down the road of explaining our situation (and I didn't feel it was super appropriate to hijack a baby shower to talk about infertility, foster care, and adoption) and whether or not they would have felt that way I would have been reminded that our situation in some way makes us a bit second-class in the mom-dom world.  I mean really - if I tried to pass myself off as being 7 months "pregnant", even though I was at the time that far along in the adoption process and our birth mother was 7 months pregnant meaning that we were in the same position as other pregnant moms out there - expecting a child soon, then it really would have seemed like (and possibly been) a desperate attempt at attention.

I just wanted to fit in to the conversation and celebrate my family with everyone else.  Thankfully I have had one child by birth already so I had plenty to talk about without actually bringing up the upcoming arrival too much.  I may have talked about it, I don't know.  Several people, including my sister-in-law and mom did a great job showering attention on my kids, which was plenty enough for me.  I had a great time celebrating my cousin's son (he was born yesterday!) and chatting with folks who I don't see very often. 

This is just one example - it comes up a lot.  Anytime people want to make plans for July or August - I think about what we might be doing.  Any time people talk about our vacation plans (which are planned to be trumped this year to pay for and accomodate time off for the new arrival), I remember what we're thinking we will be doing.  Other people are pregnant.  Other people will become pregnant.  That's the way things work.

So it's just a really weird place to be - I'm expecting too, just in a different way.  I don't have to buy maternity clothes.

(I'm cheap so that works out just fine for me)

Working Mama Wednesday - Healthfood Super Mom

Ok - so I for sure am not the healthfood super mom.  In fact, my kids have had Chili's (pizza + sundae's), "homemade Taco Bell" (Quesadillas, the kids helped me with), and pizza for dinner the last 3 nights.  To be fair, this isn't typical and I do try to make sure my kids have consistent healthy meals but I decided Sunday night to paint my kitchen.  We finished last night as we watched the storms come through, but that time brought late night comfort popiscles to two little boys who were scared of the storms. 

The real supermom is Brit over at Living With Three Boys.  You know I love her - I've linked you all to her blog many times before.  She recently posted her recipe(s) for making smoothie pops using a Zoku popsicle maker, that makes the popsicle while you watch.  That's just supercool.  And, quite possibly a wonderful way to get my kids to eat healthier.

You see, I typically insist on healthy snacks.  Low-fat string cheese, low-sugar applesauce, and 1% sugar-free chocolate milk (ok, I'm totally lying about the sugar-free part!) is a typical night-time snack for the boys.  #7 has a really hard time with real health food - these snacks are probably the healthiest things I can get him to eat (and he doesn't get them if he doesn't eat his presumably more healthy dinner).  This is my vomiter - if I put anything green, or really any fruit or veggie or anything he doesn't want to eat on his plate during dinner (it can be a hot dog if he doesn't want to eat that at the time), he'll vomit.  And not just a little bit, but a lot.  Real vomit - all over the dinner table.  Quite (un)pleasant for the rest of us.  So I've learned some tricks but really that just prevents the vomit but doesn't mean he'll eat the health(y) food.

Before I decided to paint this weekend I decided to (and prepped for) sneaky cooking a la The Sneaky Chef and cooked and pureed more than my share of veggies and fruits.  A ton.  I had a whole mealplan about how I was going to make yummy foods with these hidden goodies.  But then the kitchen project got in the way.  (and, honestly I'm a bit nervous to be disapointed if #7 or #8 don't eat my food).  So, though I have plenty to do the recipes later this week or next (and into the next month I'm sure!), I'm thinking I can repurpose some of the purees into smoothie pops.  What do you think?  We'll see how it goes (though I'd love to win the Zoku!).

You have until noon today (5/25) to enter the contest.  Head on over to Brit's place for more info.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday's Tears - But I'm Pregnant Too...the revised edition

A quick recap: We are headed toward adoption with #4. In February we learned of a potential #9, #4's parents were pregnant and wanted us to adopt both kiddos. The plan was for the parents to call CPS upon arrival to the hospital, CPS would take custody and place in our home. Fast forward to May - I get a, let's call it brief, email that said mom changed her mind, she would place potential #9 up for private adoption to a woman who couldn't have kids. We were devastated and tried to do everything we could. We met with the birthparents to let them see #4 and talk with them about #9. We chatted a bunch (unusual) but not much about #9, but I did get to see an ultrasound, learned the due date is 7/28, and that #9 is expected to be a boy. They left the meeting saying they'd talk about it when they got home.

Fast forward to yesterday. Another brief if not cryptic email to us telling us to get an attorney and provide contact information to birth parents so they can call us when the baby comes. CPS is trying to stay out of the adoption of #9.

When we originally learned about the new baby and that the parents wanted us to adopt both can I tell you we were unbelievably excited. To say our dreams came true would be an understatement. We had set out in foster care to adopt a sibling group because we believed we could and we could even more with "special needs" status that comes with a sibling group. We're not about money here, but let's be honest here - kids can be expensive and the more support we receive the more children we can help. So here we were, attached to a baby girl who would almost certainly become ours with the chance to raise a new baby, her sibling.

The reality is there is no certainty with foster care and the adoption process. It keeps us in an adventure, no doubt, but the other side of that adventure is extreme uncertainty. It causes us to keep our faith in God - in His plans for our lives and not our own, but it also causes a bit of a challenge in protecting our hearts (and that of our son) from the hurt and disappointment related to foster/adopt loss.

I really struggled with it. For 2 months I thought I was "pregnant" of sorts - I was going to write a post all about it. I wanted to participate in normal pregnancy things, but I didn't (and still don't) know what's appropriate without putting my heart out there too much. As an example, is it reasonable to want my family/friends to throw me a baby shower for new baby? The answer I came up with was this: as much as I could want them to throw me a shower if I were pregnant myself. The bigger challenge was though - did I truly want that?

I struggled with the answer. I chatted with my mom and sister about it at length. The answer is: Yes, I want that. But, I don't. It's hard enough balancing the fine line of getting excited about this pregnancy without being realistic that it all might not happen - bringing my family into that mix would put it over that edge of unbearable for me. My husband and I try desperately to calm our excitement by reminding ourselves constantly that it might not happen. To some degree the whole hope for little then be amazed at the big concept. I usually don't subscribe to that idea but in this area it's a survival mechanism.

In the conversations with my sister and mom what it came down to was that yes, it is a risk. It is a risk for loss. Until the judge signs papers with any adoption (and potentially through an appeal timeframe) the reality is that it's not final. There is risk. But there is risk in a biological pregnancy too. When I was pregnant with my son I had the prescription for clomid, the one I received 3 days before finding out I was pregnant, on my refrigerator for 5 months before I threw it away. I knew there was risk that it wouldn't work out. I think infertiles understand this best, but the risk is there for every child-bearing person...a pregnancy or an adoption both have risk. We aren't guaranteed that it will work out.

And yet when you are pregnant you do all the pregnancy things. You have a shower. You pick out names. You tell your friends and family. You get excited about it all. Maybe you take calculated risk - maybe you just come up with a list of names but don't actually pick till you see the baby. Maybe you don't take any baby things home with you until after the baby is born. Maybe you wait until 12 weeks (or more) before you tell your friends and family. All of which are more common with those who have challenged fertility.
So where does it leave me? I don't know...I had all those thoughts BEFORE we learned we wouldn't get the baby. Now that we are supposed to be getting the baby again I have no idea how to handle it. We're excited. We need to prepare (afterall we may indeed have a baby in less than 2 months). But what if... What's the right level of preparation? How do we guard our hearts without missing out on this time of pregnancy?

I don't know. That's where we are today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Say What (?!?) Sunday - Sunday, Son-day, Sundae - Monday?

Sunday is such a fun word.  I bet it throws poor linguistically challenged (e.g., those still learning words) right through a loop.  So we get a lot of play-on-words that are completely unintended by our kiddos that leave us with pure delight.

I already told you about our son Logie's insistance that we treat him special...you know there's mom's day (mother's day), dad's day (father's day) and son's day (Sunday).  Lucky for him he gets to be celebrated weekly!  And us poor daughters....

Then of course there is the utter confusion when we ask our kids if they would like a sundae after dinner...when it's on Sunday I bet that just makes it even worse.  It doesn't help when I ask the waiter to bring us sundae's and he too says "what's that"....at a nationally recognized family-friendly restaurant.  Seriously dude...I already have to explain the various combos of sunday to 4 kids - you're at least 20...(and yet, I did explain it to him.  Turns out it's not on the menu even though we always ask for it.  I was shocked!).

And then there's our little boy B (kiddo #7 if you're following our kiddos. We'll call him Benjie, because for some reason his school teacher calls him that and we haven't figured out why.  He responds (and all his stuff is labeled that at school)...so we'll run with it even though that isn't his name.  Suitable anonymous nickname for the website.

Mie: "Benjie - if you obey the rules without throwing up at dinner then you can have a sundae.  Would you like the sundae?".
Mie: "Benie - it's called a sundae"

Alright dude...monday will be here tomorrow and your sundae will arrive as soon as the waiter figures out what that is.  Thanks for not vomiting on the restaurant table or on mie. 

Sometimes you pick your battles.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Welcome Home G Family, Welcome Home

I really, really wanted to post a Thankful Thursday post this week but I was so preoccupied googling various combinations of "vomitting behavior" and "preschooler throw-up control" (another post entirely, but I think you get a sense for it here; actually after looking at it I can't BELIEVE I didn't mention the vomit, but anywho you can gather the cause) that I couldn't get myself to think of something beyond the generic "I'm grateful for everything" line, which I certainly am but didn't quite fit my intentions.

How's that for a really long, run-on sentence?

As my husband and I were talking last night and realized that a year ago today (or yesterday, depending if you're considering dates or days of the week) we closed on our new home. We began the process of moving WAY back in November 2009, spent a crazy week trying to get our home ready to be put on the market for sale, and then another 6 months waiting for something to happen. We hadn't really been looking for a new home. I happened to drive down a street that parallels the main street in our neighborhood just because and found a home for sale that fit our desire perfectly. It was much larger than our previous home (double the size), but the biggest thing was the land - it's on an acre with lots of trees - growing up in LA we strongly desired to have land to roam. I know, not "country" for folks in the big D, but it's country for us. And yet within a community so we still have neighbors and all. We decided to go for it quickly and see how things went.

We needed to sell our home to have a sizeable enough down payment to make us happy.

The home market was SLOW, and as we found out, REALLY SLOW during the holidays.

So for 5 months we went back and forth - should we stay (and have the possibility of getting to be a stay-at-home mom sometime) or should we go forward with the purchase. Oh man we waivered and waivered and waivered. 4 months into the process we had our first foster placement, which showed us that we could definitely do it in our old home, but with the age of kids we had we really wanted to have the playroom concept. We made the decision to back out of the new home purchase several times. Everytime we did we'd have a showing pop-up...immediately. One time we were out in the backyard, said ok we have a decision, and then walked inside to hear the phone ring. There hadn't been a showing in weeks but right now there was someone wanting to come by. So we always gave it that "one more shot" and stopped short of signing the cancelation papers.

We both received bonuses in April that gave us the money we needed for a down payment without having to sell our home. (The day we found out about the bonuses we also received word that our license had been approved; it was a good day). It would have been really comfortable to stay in our current home with that cash on hand. It would have been a little bit tight to move into our new home. God told us to move.

So we made the leap. The next day my boss gave me an unexpected raise out of the blue - enough to cover the difference in the mortgage completely. Mind you, that was a 15% raise or something like that, for no particular reason, in one of the worst economies ever. More confirmation we were moving in the right direction despite the fact that I knew it limited my chances of being a stay-at-home mom.

Our original house hadn't sold. We decided to move forward anyway, very nervous about what would happen with our other home...it's a good economy for landlords but if anything about this process was true it was that our plans didn't seem to be working our way.

Within a week a friend-of-a-friend gave me a call - turns out the friend had told her we were looking to rent out our place and she was in immediate need. She needed our home the day after we were scheduled to close on the new home. It's been a perfect match since. Everyone tells us we're blessing her with the arrangement, but we know different - we are the ones who are blessed. God had a plan for that house, which included perfect timing we could never have predicted.

Fast forward 2.5 weeks, a year ago today (or yesterday), we signed papers to buy the new home.  Friends gathered that night and helped us move the big stuff - we spent one more night in our old home.  Then we had 365 days loving our new place.  See?


We are so thankful how it all worked out.
I will admit though, this move was extremely positive for us, but it is tied to one of the most difficult seasons of our life.  I am very nervous about what the next few weeks have in store for me and our family...almost in a PTSD fashion.  I fear the end of May - beginning of June very much.  I am tearing up and feeling the effects of stress just thinking about facing next week.  My intention is to honor that time by writing posts on each event, as they happened to us.  Maybe reliving them a little bit might help. 
If you think about it, pray for me, my family, and my friends family over the next few weeks.  I'm hoping that peace and tranquility abound, that we can grieve appropriately, and experience a trauma free few weeks so that we can reclaim these days for God's glory in our heads and hearts instead of letting them forever be so traumatic.

Here we are, saying goodbye as a family, to our old house (excuse our appearance, we had just finished deep-cleaning the entire place, carpet cleaning and all.  We were tired!).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Working Mama Wednesday - Natural Cleaners

I have absolutely fallen in love with making my own household cleaners, specifically laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner. I can't tell you how excited I am that I have this new-found skill for a variety of reasons.

Laundry Detergent

Back when my baby was actually a baby I was a cloth-diapering mama. (In case you were wondering, I used these, but then they were versions 1+2...I really hope this baby works out so I can get some of these!). So many people asked how I kept up with it all, particularly as a working mom. Honestly, it was so much easier to me than purchasing diapers. All I had to do was invest up-front (actually, I invested twice - bought a set early on for $225 and then another set to add to my collection later on $225). When were running low, I didn't have to worry how I was going to run to the store to buy more diapers. All I had to do was stick them in the wash, which I did daily or every other day, and when they were done I had a new set of diapers. I couldn't imagine all that trash or running out when I needed new diapers. I also breastfed and then made my own baby food, so I rarely had to make special trips to the grocery store, which really helped this mama. Not to mention the cost savings - After I was done with the diapers knowing we were infertile I sold them to a friend for $50 - could have gotten much more for them I'm sure online - in total I spent about $400 which worked out to about $5.15 per week for diapering my son. Not too shabby.

So what does this have to do with laundry detergent? I feel so free not having to worry about running out and going to spend $17-$30 on a container of laundry detergent. All I have to do is keep stocked up on the ingredients (which admittedly can be a bit hard to find, I was lucky and found all at Walmart in one trip). Then, whenever I start getting low I can just make more. How super cool is that?
I learned about how to make detergent here. She includes all the instructions, ingredients, and even breaks down the cost for you. The only difference I made, based on her picture, is that I grated the Fels-Naptha bar a bit more finely purely because I didn't know better (but it does seem to make it work well). I did this several weeks ago when I was still in school and I find the investment super worthy. It took me 15 minutes tops to make the soap and that's because I hand grated the Fels-Naptha bar. I gave half the recipe to my sister, so I'm starting to get low. I intend to purchase a stock-pile of soap bars, grate them using my food processer (super fast) and then make a huge batch that I can just have on hand for a long-time. LOVE IT. And it smells super good.  I've also stopped using liquid fabric softener with great results and yes, indeed, the laundry detergent is cleaning my clothes very well - I'd say better than my previous brand and I'm not noticing fabric fading or damage either.

She used to sell the mix but as of this month has stopped.  She had great ideas about making it as gifts with cute little containers for new moms (baby showers), college students, or just anyone who needs a pick-me-up.  I'm definitely going to borrow that idea. 

Household Cleaner
It was no surprise then that I moved fairly quickly onto the household cleaner bandwagon as well.  I've heard for years that all you needed for good cleaning was vinegar, lemons, and maybe some bleach.  We definitely keep the bleach around (someday I'll let you know how much vomit I clean up), but historically I've used an ammonia-based (Lysol, Mr. Clean, etc.) for general cleaning.  It's not too expensive, but with little kids I can definitely appreciate the desire for a way to clean that is less chemical heavy.  And, I love cheap.  So, a vinegar-based spray that I can make as needed, is inexpensive, and safe for my kiddos to help me clean with (!!!) is right up my alley.

The "recipe" is simple.  Hot water and vinegar.  The huge bottle of vinegar at Costco when I bought it was about $3.50 and you use so little that it lasts forever.  Seriously forever.  And, you don't need yet another ingredient on your shopping list - just vinegar!  Check out how to make it and other home types of cleaner here.  I grabbed a bottle of store-bought chemical cleaner because it was closer the other day and the smell was so strong and acrid.  I've gotten used to the vinegar smell which actually is quite pleasant as a cleaner (to me anyway).  It's a great deodorizer.

I got this idea from my super-mom friend Ms. Brit.  I just love her.  Such a great gal AND has given me some wonderful ideas on how to do this mothering thing.  I love her kids too - the oldest always gets excited to see me and it makes my day.  Shoot on over and give her some love will you?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday's Tears - Secondary Infertility

I just happened across this post over at Wendi's place. Someone blessed her with the post originally, which appears to have come from a "Dear Abby" article. It compares pregnancy and adoption to different ways of travel to the same majestic place. I hope it blesses you like it blesses me.

Secondary infertility - the inability to conceive and maintain a pregnancy until birth after a previously successful pregnancy - is quite a difficult journey. Going back to the analogy, I've been able to experience one flight, hoped for more, and now have joined the boat ride as there are no more spots for me on the planes I guess. The beauty of this path that we've been blessed with is that we have the opportunity to experience both sides - approaching by air and by sea. Though my pregnancy was full of sickness and restless legs, I will never complain about that journey - I would never trade it for the world. I am completely blessed for the ability to have done that once; this I am sure of. At the same time, I believe I have a greater appreciation for that journey now that I have to take the boat ride. But the boat ride is not easy. What wasn't mentioned in the analogy is that sometimes, you get kicked off the boat, sent swimming back to shore, and then have to start over again. It's a really, really rough journey for anyone who decides to go that way, but especially for those who aren't allowed to get a plane ticket.

I'm not going to say that it's harder for secondary infertility. The reality is, the journey to parenthood even for fertiles is often difficult and uncomfortable. But there are special challenges couples with secondary infertility face. They're almost on a 3rd type of transportation. They don't belong with the fertile group - their test results and lack of subsequent pregnancies put them on the no fly list and so even though they have taken that trip in the past they don't really belong with that group anymore. We've all missed a flight or two (or come close!) and can imagine a little bit how much that sucks. They don't really belong on the boat though either. If there is any such thing they are second-class infertiles who shouldn't be complaining because they were already blessed with a biological child. It's hard for the world to understand secondary infertility and how alienating that can be.

We choose to call it like it is and try to ignore all the negative chatter. We have a beautiful son through biological birth that we are forever grateful for. We would love to have more biological children but are seriously infertile (sterile, according to the World Health Organization). We have jumped aboard the foster-to-adopt ship and hope to adopt one day but are enjoying being foster parents. We are infertile - yes it's secondary but infertile nonetheless.

Balancing the overwhelming joy of being a biological parent and simultaneous heartbreak of infertility is no joke.

Monday, May 16, 2011

3 Years Ago - Foster Baby Arrives! Then Adopted!

You all know I'm passionate about Foster Care. Because I've been so busy with school and work (and 4 kids) I haven't yet joined a foster parent association or otherwise spent much time with the general foster care community in real life. (Of course, I have an unusually high number of real-life friends who have a foster or adoption story of their own though we're all connected for reasons other than how our kids joined our family...God-ordained...lucky me!). I've been really blessed to put my baby pinky toe into the online world of foster mamas, and today I am sharing the great story of miss Penny over at Foster2forever.com. To learn how their kiddos entered their world, click the link below:

3 Years Ago - Foster Baby Arrives! Then Adopted!

I'm so grateful there are folks out there who care for the children who need a safe home where they can thrive.

Moolah Monday - The Cost of Grad School

Now that the final semester of coursework is over and I'm appropriately celebrating the last two undeserved A's I received, I figured I'd post a bit on the cost of going to grad school, at least that which I experienced.  Keep in mind, I worked full-time while going to grad school, so I'm not going to do any funky math taking into account opportunity lost of working or anything like that.  Sure my minor is in statistics, so theoretically I could do that, but I don't want to.  These numbers are purely based on the cost of tuition and fees.  No books, no housing, no food, statistical software, etc. 

Masters Degree: $9767.94
                $271.33 per unit
               $1627.99 per semester
               $6000 education credit from employer
               Total paid by me: $3767.94 over 3 years

Ph.D.: $ 32566.37 to date
           ~$8500.00 remaining (for dissertation hours)
           $41566.37 Total
           $577.31 per unit
           $4070.79 per semester
           $9000.00 education credit from employer
           Total paid by me $23566.37 over 3 years (+$8500 remaining dissertation cost)

Total to date - $42334.31
Total to date paid by me - $30334.31 over 6 years - $5055.72 per year

Grand total (including dissertation) - $50834.31
Grand total to date paid by me - $38834.31 - $5547.76 per year (assuming I finish my dissertation in a year)

Exciting stuff huh?  Now you know.
I'm guessing the higher cost for the Ph.D. hours is based on tuition increases over time.  It's understandable that the school would raise prices over the 6 years I've been in grad school and I've heard much hoopla over it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Foster Parent Friday - The Antidote to Arrogance: Fostering

I seem to have run out of FAQs for the moment, though I'm sure I'll pick up some more soon as we progress through this journey. Until then I'll be providing perspectives on fostering, the first of which I've been meaning to write for a month or so now. I had to wait for a particular picture and couldn't find the USB cable to my camera so I was out-of-luck and so was my blog. Hope the wait was worth it!

On one hand, foster parenting can be quite the pride-building experience. Everywhere you go where someone learns you are a foster parent you are told something similar to "I couldn't do that", or "You're an angel" or "Your a saint" or "You inspire me", all for being a good parent. Biological parents usually don't get as much credit just for raising their kiddos no matter how great they are. So, in a sense we could walk around with our noses in the air pretty easily.

Except - on the other hand everywhere you go, especially if you have multiple foster kiddos like we have over time, at least one of your kids is acting up and often times they don't respond as well to normal parenting tips and tricks. I don't blame them, their life has been so mismanaged that they were taken from their home (and, as I've said before in my experience that takes a lot). But nevertheless, folks don't look so kindly on the "single" mom (I'm often by myself) with 2 toddlers and 2 preschoolers who very obviously have different fathers, especially when the kids are acting up.

On a side note...I'll have to write a blog someday how differently people treat us when they know our kids are fosters vs. when they think they are bio kids.

Fundamental attribution error is a term that describes the tendency for people to give themselves credit for things that go right and blame others when things go wrong. So, typically when their kids act sweet, loving, obey, and use manners parents assume they are doing a good job (which they might be, but equally the kid might just be an “easy” kid). However, when they see other parents whose kids are acting up, they assume poor parenting, which is definitely a possibility or maybe that person is a foster parent whose kids were just placed with them the night before after being removed from their filthy, insect and rodent infested house after their mother overdosed on heroin. You never know.

It definitely humbles you as a parent. I can be so proud of my 4 year old who is so unbelievably brilliant, very sweet, and pretty darn obedient and mannered. Then there are times where I simultaneously have an 18 month old pulling out her hair during a fit, a 19 month old climbing out of her high chair even though seat-belted in and a 3 year old who just took the food off the plate of the stranger sitting next to him, while the 4 year old is yelling at them all that they are going to go to bed early if they don’t obey. And all the strangers in the room are looking at you wondering why you don’t use birth control seeing as how you have 4 kids by 4 dads in 4 years (and we do). It’s a crazy life.

Then you have the child with the bushy mullet because you’re not allowed to give your foster children a haircut without the permission of the parents and the state, wearing spongebob square-pants pajamas because he’s been begging for his mommy and his “yellow” pajamas (the only ones he came with) since he arrived, and begging to watch Family Guy on a Sunday night because apparently there wasn’t any scrutiny used in the previous home with regards to what television a preschooler could and should watch. I’d like to believe there is no way my son would have a haircut like that, nor would he have anything in our home from that spongy character, and he certainly wouldn’t know the theme song to Family Guy. Or the Simpsons.  And though one of my sons doesn't, my other son, through no fault of his own, is the one in the picture.  My daughter didn't know how to eat food other than a bottle until she was older than 10 months. My other daughter will walk right up to another kid and push her off a toy so she can have it or take their drink right out of their hands. 

From the outside, it might look like I'm the parent without the scruples.  And that's what most strangers are left thinking seeing as how I don't walk around telling everyone I'm a foster parent.  "Yes, I'm sorry my child just pulled down your pants...he's a foster child".  Nope - we happily take the blame and are happy to walk this road.  We love all of our kids.  Though others may see us as the crazy parents with the crazy kids, we're grateful for our situation. All of our kids are great in their own ways.  They play well together.  They love singing songs.  They take turns giving us random hugs and kisses.  They are great - they just haven't had a good shot yet.  That's what we're here for. 

Who needs pride anyway.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today's Message brought to you by...

Today is a HUGE day in our family.  By that I mean kind of huge or the potential to be huge; I suppose how we'll see how it turns out.  We are meeting with Little Miss's birth parents to discuss the potential to bring Little Man home to our house when he is born vs. a private adoption they've recently been discussing.  We're extremely nervous and the day no doubt will be full of lots of emotions for me.  I want to wait to write a post about that until after the meeting happens.  Additionally, birthdad signed over rights yesterday (so I need to write a new letter), so once the judge approves she's officially free for adoption and we can start that process with her.  So much is up in the air and to be honest with myself it will be for a while.  That's ok - we've known for a while that God is working on us to give up control.

Plus, today In-N-Out is opening in Texas.  Sweet!  (Did you know they have a foundation to prevent child abuse and neglect?  Right up our alley - I didn't know till I hit the website just now...love them even more.)

So, rather than writing a new blog post (I suppose that's what I just did) - I'm going to direct you to a guest blog I did that posted today on Wendi's Life in the....  I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Foster Care - God's Model for Parenting

I have come to believe that Foster Care is a better model for parenting in a Christian family than traditional biological parenting. I am continually taught in our daily life how God wants us to parent all of our children because of the things I'm forced to experience as a foster parent with my foster children. Maybe I'm just dense and didn't get it with my biological son and all of you all out there got it right away, but my intuition is that most biological parents take their parenting situation for granted at least on some level, which prevents us from realizing a few truths that I've been blessed to learn the hard way.

Fertility is not a right - When I was growing up (and I"m sure you experienced something similar), I heard a lot about pregnancy prevention. Sex-ed focused on how our bodies worked, how pregnancy occurs, and how to prevent it. Even in the church one of the main reasons to stay away from premarital sex is to prevent "unwanted" pregnancy. So we grow up knowing that if you have sex you will get pregnant. No one really talks about how the majority of women will experience a miscarriage in their life or how technical infertility affects 12% of the population. Unless you had a parent or close relative who experienced infertility, you probably don't hear much about how there is a whole sub-population out there who has to really try to get pregnant. Fertility isn't guaranteed. Yes, it's the way God made us - to reproduce quickly and easily - but with the fall came a curse of difficulty with childbirth - some of that I believe is barrenness.

Live birth is not guaranteed - One of the things you learn really quickly as a foster parent is how little control you have over adding new members to your family. You can always say no, but beyond that you sit and wait until someone calls you. You don't know when that call will come, if it will be a boy or a girl (or both!), how old they will be. You don't get to control any of that. There's no scheduled c-section. No peek at the 20 week ultrasound. Very little ability to plan. In private adoption (or, like in our case where we have a pregnant birth mom of one of our foster kiddos), we don't know - and we won't - if and when we will be blessed with that new baby. Just like pregnancy - you really aren't guaranteed that you will make it to birth with a healthy baby. Bio-moms often take that for granted.

"Our" kids are not our own - They are on loan to us. We have been trusted with their care for a period of time that no one other than God knows. They can be taken from us at any point. The judge can decide it's better that they leave our home, or stay, at his (or her) whim. We can't travel without asking for permission. We must follow the state's rules, not our own. We don't get the ultimate choice. We can't even cut their hair without getting expressed permission. Most biological parents sometimes find these rules confining and hard to imagine. That's because they, and they alone, get to determine when and where their children travel, what their child's hairstyle looks like, and they presume their children will be "theirs" until the parents are dead and gone. Foster parents aren't allowed that luxury.

But as a biological parent too, if we really think about it from a Christian perspective, we face the same situation as foster parents do. It's sometimes easy to ignore that our children are not our own - they are God's, entrusted to us for their care as long as He sees fit. We should be coming to Him, seeking His will for our kiddos lives - they don't belong to us, they belong to Him. Which means, and we need to face this, He can take them at any time - their lifetime with us isn't guaranteed. The state may not be able to take them away - but the great Judge can.

I could probably go on and on about how God intends for us to raise our children and how good foster care forces my husband and I to realize more and more each day what God's plan is for us as parents, even to our biological son. The point is that being parents to our kids, whether they come to us from foster care, through adoption, or from the traditional biological method, is a priviledge that we need to recognize comes from God. Our kids are never "our own" - we are all Foster Parents not through a state or agency but licensed by God.

Please note that this does not mean foster care or adoption is the best choice for children. I strongly believe, as I've said in the past, that the best place for children is with their own healthy biological parents. Afterall - God entrusted them with His children first.

This post is part of Foster2Forever.com's May Blog Hop celebrating National Foster Care Month.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Say What ?!? Sunday - Mother's Day vs. "Son-day"

Oh - you just gotta love our son.  He definitely keeps us smiling.  I wish I could convey to you all of the non-verbals through blog posts.  You'll have to just imagine the matter-of-fact, 25-year-old-in-a-4-year-old's-body speech.

Speech 1  - Returning from our marriage retreat this weekend.

"Mom - I'm thinking that you're different.  You're not really different, but my brain is thinking you are my different mom."

Speech 2 - If mommy and daddy get a date...

L:"Ok, I'll go to Auntie K's while you have a mommy/daddy date.  But as soon as you get back, well, not tomorrow but on the next day, then it's time for mommy/Logan date and then daddy/Logan date."
Mie: "That's sounds fine Logan, but maybe we'll have to wait a little bit, not the day we come back".
L: "Ok mommy.  Because after it's mommy and daddy's turn, then it's mommy and Logan's turn and then daddy and Logan's turn".

Gotta love that he wants to spend time with us.

Speech 3 - Mother's day vs. "Sun-day"

L: Mommy, since it's mother's day today son's and daddies can take care of mommies.  And then on Daddy's day son's and mommies can take care of daddies.  So, on "Son-day" mommies and daddies can take care of their kids and their sons. 

Sounds good Logie, sounds good.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Last Class Tonight!

I can't believe it! Tonight is my very last class. I have to give a presentation, which isn't that big of a deal for me now, listen to everyone else's presentation, then I'm done for good! It's really hard to imagine this being my very last class after 12 years of grade school, 3 years of undergrad, and 7 as a graduate student. Wow.
I won't be done with the semester yet, not until I finish my final and write my last paper - so I should be done by next week.
I was supposed to have 1 more class left over the summer. I have the same masters and Ph.D. program, so by now I've run out of classes to take and I had to do a couple independent research classes. I had one left that I was going to take last summer but with everything that happened I didn't get registered (it was good for a break). So, I still have it left to do over the summer and I've been dreading it. I proposed to write a white paper on performance improvement techniques, but I just don't feel like doing anymore school work. Ever. I'm so done with being in school!
As I was packing up my office last week getting ready to move to my new job (on a new floor), I found a certificate for this class I attended at work. It's an industry standard certificate and they offered to write a letter to the school for credit. For whatever reason I didn't do it then. When I found it I quickly called my major professor and he agreed to count it! So though I have to register and pay for the class, I won't actually have to do anything else. So, after I turn in that last paper and take the final (it's so rare at this level to have to take a final exam) I will be actually done with all of my classes. I'm so ready for that and I'm looking forward to the summer without any coursework!
I still will have some work to do before I graduate. They say this is the hardest part. Most of them don't work full-time and have 4 kids to take care of, so attending classes isn't hard for them. We'll see. I have to take my comprehensive exams in the fall, which involves 2 weeks of writing papers, then orally defend them. Once that's done I have to propose my dissertation, which involevs writing the first 2/3s of it and presenting it to my faculty committee in this formal meeting/presentation thing (I've already written it), then I can formally do the research and finish my dissertation before defending it with my committee. I'm hoping to have all that done by next Spring, but in reality I probably won't get it done until next Summer just because these things take time. Then, by next summer I'll hopefully be able to finish for good and do the whole graduation ceremony thing. I'm really looking forward to that.
And a good vacation!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tuesday's Tears - Now it hurts...

We've only been foster parents for a year now.  If you're following our story - that's 1 year, 8 kiddos, plus our own biological son who is a wonderful constant.

You'll also know that the #1 question we get is "Isn't it hard to let them go?" (always quickly followed up with ..."I'd get too attached").  Here's our answer.  Since I wrote that post we've had 2 more placements, 2 more placements return home, and 2 times now where it finally hurt.  

This may surprise you - the 2 times of hurt actually were not related to the 2 times we sent kiddos "home".  The first actually had to do with our little boy who returned to care and we couldn't take him.  We were sad we couldn't take him but even more devastated that he returned to care and their family we so desperately wanted to be "happily ever after" doesn't appear to be taking shape.  The other has to do with this post.

Child #4 is our longest placement yet.  The plan for a while now has been for her to be adopted by us pending termination of parents rights.  Mom has relinquished (I'm told) dad has not (at least, not that I've been told).  About 3 months ago now we received an email saying that mom is pregnant again and would like us to adopt both children.  I was ecstatic - I had the chance to raise one more baby, probably my only other chance.  I was excited this made them a sibling group, which eases the financial burden and allows us to help support other children in the future.  I was excited that Sophia would have a biological sibling, something our son probably won't ever have. 

We learned yesterday that the biological parents have decided to put their new child up for adoption through a private agency.  What I've heard is that she would like to give the child to parents who can't have children.  At this point, mom and dad have full authority to relinquish their rights to the baby for purposes of placing it up for adoption with a private agency.  Though I'm told that there have been countless people talking to her about the value of keeping siblings together, it appears she made up her mind and from what I can tell has already chosen a family for this child to go to (though I don't know if that is the case).  It feels as if no one thinks this is the best idea and yet no one can do anything about it.

Now, I'm not usually someone who sits back and sticks with "no one can do anything about it".  I'm really not.  At this point, I do see a handful of options that we could pursue, or help initiate anyway, and I know my God is big enough to break down this barrier if indeed that is his will.  I believe his plan is bigger than any I could imagine.

We've felt the sting of adoption rejection before (on top of the sting of infertility).  But this is SO much different.  It's not just that we're not chosen, it's so much more complicated.  Our daughter (if indeed we do end up getting to adopt her eventually) will have a sibling out there raised by other parents, not for her will or the sibling's but purely through the mother's desire, the mother who has given up her rights to parent her first child in preparation for having them taken away for, generally, an inability to make good choices for her child.  The rationale, though her own that she is entitled to, doesn't make sense either - to place the child with a family who cannot have children.  We cannot have children.  We can't.  Doctor's chances are like 1 in a trillion and we've used our 1.  It's not something that can be "fixed".  The only hope we have of having more children is if someone has them taken away from them or if someone gives them to us.  That's it. 

Somewhere along the line this mother has obtained the idea that we have 5 kids, or so I figured when the adoption agency said "don't you have like 5 kids?".  I explained to them our situation - that we have 1 biological child and that's the only permanent child we have.  We became foster parents to hopefully one day be blessed with forever children, so far our record is 0/8 in 12 months - maybe 1 if all goes well with our little girl.  In the meantime we are providing a home to children who don't have a home - we're providing them a good home, with a loving family and loving parents.  No good deed goes unpunished.  Of course, if we had chosen to privately adopt and not be foster parents, it appears as if we might be a good match.

I'm not angry with birthmom.  I wish her well.  I don't think she understands the impact her decision has on us or on her children.  The kind of life they'll lead either in never knowing their sibling, or in always knowing their sibling and can't live with them.  Organizing sibling visits - then saying goodbye at the end.  I feel sad for her knowing that she won't have the joy of raising her two kiddos - one of which I know is such a blessing.  A beautiful girl that is growing bigger, smarter, more playful, and just a bucket of sunshine everyday (when her nose isn't stuffy with allergies).  A beautiful girl that we love so much

For now the option that we have - the only option we ever have really - is to leave it in God's hands.  He is more capable than I am, than we are.  He has a plan and I pray His will to be done.  I pray that will is for us to have both children - to keep them together. 

I pray He works a miracle here - if not in birthmom's heart than in mine - to accept the things I cannot change and to heal from the broken heart.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Say What !?! Sunday - Apparently, my son thinks he looks like....

Last night as we sat and watched "funnies" (America's Funniest Home Videos), something I do regularly with my son on Sunday nights after the other kids go to bed, he blurted out -

"Hey Mom - see that guy Tom Bergeron?  He looks just like me."

Hmmm....personally I don't see the resemblance but hey...

Then, as we got ready for bed, he told me "Mommy, we need to pray a serious prayer tonight".

Not knowing what exactly that meant I prayed as usual.  He usually jumps in but didn't.  Not until I was completely done anyway.  Here are a few things he prayed:

"Jesus, thank you for making my mommy and daddy for me...thank you for letting me have this family....thank you for letting my mommy and daddy buy this home...please help me tomorrow in everything I do...please help me learn how to listen to and obey my mommy and daddy more..."

He went on for a good 5-10 minutes, which is long for most folks to pray out loud let alone a 4 year old. 

I can't tell you how much it warmed my heart to see his purity in seeking the Lord through prayer and that I was able to be a part of that. 

Jesus - Thank you so much for letting MIE have this family. Help me be a mother somehow close to worthy of the children you've placed in my care.