30 January 2013

WOYWW 191 - Foster Class #1

Here's my desk this week!  I actually did some art earlier this week...All the little ATCS on the right side of my desk are for swaps I'm hosting (or thinking about hosting).   Right now I'm hosting Watercolor Signs of Spring, and I'm considering posting a monochromatic watercolor swap too.  If you can see out the window, you might be able to see snow falling.  Yesterday the temperature was in the 60s and 70s...today it's snowing!    Also on my desk is the large packet of notes for the class we are taking to get licensed to foster children.  That's my desk this week!  Thanks for visiting :)  Thank you Julia for hosting What's on Your Workspace Wednesday!  The rest of this post is about our experience as we get licensed to foster children (WOYWW readers stop here).

Foster Class 1

Last night after work, Chase and I hurried off to make it STARS class.  During this first 3 hour session, we watched a video about foster parents to sort of introduce us to the subject, introduced ourselves to our classmates, and discussed how the agency we're working through (Great Circle) works with Children's Division. 
STARS stands for Specialized Training Assessment Resources Support/Skills. 
So what's the difference betwen fostering a child and adopting a child?  Well to foster means simply to nuture.  When you foster a child, you take that child into your home and help him/her to grow in a family setting.  The ultimate goal of foster care is reunification with the biological family.  As a foster parent, you are part of a professional team and you are expected to work together with the case worker, children, and biological family.  Adoption means you take that child in as your own child both in a legal sense and emotional sense.
The children we hope to take into our home will probably have suffered and endured more than most children.  They are forcibly removed from their family and life they've know and brought into our home.  The primary goal for this class is to equip foster parents with the skills and knowledge (competencies) needed to care for these children
- Protecting and nuturing children
-Meeting children's developmental needs and addressing developmental delays
-Supporting relationships between chldren and their families.
Connecting children to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime
-Working as a member of a professional team.

The 4 levels of competencies:
1. being aware
2. understading and knowing
3. having skills
4. using skills

Before we can become foster parents, we must at least be competent at the first 2 levels (being aware, and understanding and knowing). 

After each class, we have additional reading and homework :)  This process is going to be a lot of work, but we're still proceeding!  I'll be sure to share my thoughts and updates on how the process is going.

Peace and Love, y'all!
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28 January 2013

A Vet's Own Dog

Ruby looses a tooth...
I don't tend to blog much about my work, because I try to keep my personal life separate from my professional life as much as possible.  BUT sometimes the two collide.  A couple of weeks ago, my Ruby-dog suddenly started shying away when I touched one side of her face.  Upon further examination, I realized she had a very subtle swelling underneath her left eye.   Her energy level-normal, appetite-normal, behavior-basically normal.    She's a good little dog and she let me do a full exam of her mouth and teeth...not bad - just a little calculus and mild gingivitis, no fractured teeth that I could see.  However, the most likely cause of the swelling observed in my own little Ruby-dog is a tooth root abscess.  So I decided to anesthetize her, clean her teeth with our ultrasonic scaler, and shoot some intraoral films...and remove an teeth with abscessed roots.  I dreaded it, but I had a strong inclination that it was the big, bad carnassial on her left side.  This bad boy is the biggest tooth in the dog mouth and has 3 roots.  So removing it involves using a scapel to cut a mucosal flap, drilling away the alveolar bone covering the roots, sectioning the tooth into 3 pieces corresponding to each of the 3 roots, elevating each root, smoothing out any sharp bony points that might poke on her gums, and then suturing down the flap covering that big ole hole.  Basically...it's outright oral surgery.  So I take her to work with me one Saturday so I can get her done after I finish seeing appointments.

 She had the first allergic reaction I've ever seen to our anesthetic protocol.   My boss in all her years of using this protocol has never had a dog break out in immediate hives either.   Therefore Ruby-dog got a shot of benedryl and her hives cleared right up.   As soon as I took the dental x-rays, my fear was confirmed...Ruby-dog's carnassial tooth needed to come out.  It had a big ole periapical lucency (ie, an abscessed root).  The procedure itself went fairly well.  I held back my tears as I sectioned her tooth and drilled away bone from my Ruby-dog's mouth.  I fussed that the gums didn't suture as pretty as I would like...I fussed that there was so much blood.   I admit...I  fussed a lot.  The techs couldn't understand why I was fussing so much when the procedure was going along just fine.  I fussed as she was waking up, because she cried with every breath unless I had her in my lap.   I even had the senior technician come in so I could fuss to her as well.  In the end, my Ruby-dog was up and walking within 10 minutes of sewing up her mouth, and the bad tooth was out.  I cried as I drove her home, and spent the rest of the evening snuggling with her on the couch and hoping her pain meds were strong enough.   Her little swollen face upset me so badly.   That night, I even tucked her in next to me in bed...under my sheets and the heating blanket.  

So here's my conclusion...I can't calmly and rationally be a veterinarian to my own precious doggies.  Their blood freaks me out, and even giving them a shot makes the tears start flowing.   And..and I never...never...want to perform anesthesia on my own doggies again.   Chase and I don't have any human children, so our pets are like our kids...especially our dogs.

2 weeks later... She's not gaurding that side of her face, and her face is almost back to its symmetrical cuteness.  Now I can address the next health concern with my Ruby-dog....

Ruby-dog has a fat butt...
Here's a picture of my Ruby-dog...my family is constantly teasing me that my dog is fat.  They say she looks like a sausage with pointy little toothpick-legs.    Well...hmph...she's not that fat.  However...I will grant you that she is...a touch...overweight.  So if you read the above story about removing her tooth, you probably know that I'm not entirely rational about my dogs.  So when a food rep came and talked to us about an objective way of measuring body fat and calculating a healthy weight, I volunteered Ruby.  According to Hill's new Healthy Weight Protocol measurements...Ruby-dog has a body fat index of 40% and she needs to lose 8 pounds.  8 pounds!!!  8 pounds is a ton of weight when you're talking about a 30 pound dog!  Regardless if I agree with her target weight of 22 pounds or not...I'm going to give this new prescription weight loss dog food a shot...We'll see what she looks like with every pound of weight loss and stop when she gets to a healthy weight.  If I can get my own dog to loose weight...I'm sure this plan will work for clients too.

Ruby has lost her girly figure - her waist isn't as prominent as it should be and you can't easily palpate her ribs.

When viewed from the side, she should have a distinct abdominal tuck.  She doesn't.  If you look at her from behind...she has a distinctly plump rear end.  Oh, Ruby-dog, you are indeed...fat.

Prayers for my grandpa
My grandpa is in his mid-90s... He fell at the assisted living facility last week and broke his femur.  His surgery to repair the fracture went well, but he has a long road to recovery.   Please send him your prayers and good thoughts.   He's been ready to be with the lord for quite some time now, and I can't imagine how discouraging this must be for him.

Peace and Love, y'all!

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27 January 2013

Sunday Sketches

This morning, my husband and I slept in...accidentally slept right through church.  So we stayed home and listened to the recording of the sermon while I sketched and painted.

I'm so ready for spring...the warm sunshine, the beautiful flowers, planting my veggie garden.  I've got my seeds all picked out!  I just have to wait to plant them... Since I can't plant my garden yet, I painted flowers that remind me of spring...daffodils and tulips. 

These are the latest 2 loaves of bread I made.  This is from the batch I intially forgot to add salt to...so after the first flavorless loaf was baked, I threw in a bit of salt and kneaded the dough.  These turned out much better than the previous loaf, but the crumb turned out just a bit to moist for my taste :)  Oh well!  Lessons are learned everyday!

Here's my desk this morning... I just love the new Ott light I got for Christmas.  How did I work without it?  Well I'm off to refill that coffee cup.  It's a rainy, lazy Sunday today.

Peace and Love, y'all.

Play along with Sunday Sketches here:  http://www.bluechairdiaryillustrations.com/2013/01/sunday-sketches_26.html
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23 January 2013

Living the Good Life

I got home from work today, let the dogs (and cat) out, rub the chinchillas behind their ears, feed all the pets, and started dinner.  I grabbed the last clump of dough from the fridge and shaped it into a couronne ring, and let it rest while I cleaned the kitchen.   I'm really trying hard to keep the kitchen sink clean and free of dirty
 dishes...It seems like if I just let one go, it multiplies to piles of dishes all over the sink and counter. I'm actually trying to keep up with the house a little better, but I'll start with the kitchen sink.  Baby steps!

Here's yesterday's bread loaf - in the shape of a crown.  Baking bread always makes me think of Jesus and the bible.  Jesus said "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough" (Matthew 13:33). I'm not sure I fully understand what exactly this parable means, but no matter how I look at it..there's a lesson to be learned from it.  Yeast (or leaven) is a symbol of sin in most of the bible.  Is it that a little bit of the gospel will spread through the earth...yeast in this parable is a symbol or growth?  Or does it mean that the church (kingdom of heaven) is permeated with sin ...like 1 Cor 5:6 ("Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?").  Either way...I want to be a force of good in this world, and a little faith goes a long way...but so does a little sin if ignored.  

Here's our humble dinner last night :) 2 fishes and a loaf of bread (lol...the dough rising in the bucket will make 4 more...so 5 loaves?).  I forgot to put the salt in this batch so it rose like crazy.   Funny...but I didn't realize that salt helped regulate the yeast (slows fermentation).

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." Matthew 5:13

 And lastly...here's an update on getting licensed to foster and adopt:
I installed really nifty child safety locks on the upper cabinet where we now keep cleaning supplies and knives.   They require a magnet key.

Peace and Love, y'all!
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16 January 2013

WOYWW 189 - Application To Change Lives


There are no paintbrushes...no paints...no markers on my desk this week. I actually haven't done any art in the new year at all. Instead hubby and I have been working on our fostering application. The licensing class starts at the end of the month, and we have piles of paper work to work through.

You can see the bottom right paper is the master list of what still needs to be done before class.  Today I'm hoping to get my fingerprinting done :)  We're really excited about fostering children.  We hope that we can provide a safe, loving, fun, "normal" home for children for however long they stay with us.  Hopefully we can change some lives for the better...but I know for sure that our lives will be changed through the process.  We both strongly feel that God has called us to take in these children. 

About the only thing remotely crafty I've been doing is baking.  I made a baguette :) It kind of looks like a snake that just swallowed something (recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day).

Peace and Love, y'all.  Check out WOYWW with Julia over at The Stamping Ground
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12 January 2013

Last Art of 2012 - Fostering Home Interview #1


Here are my last watercolor paintings of 2012.  They were for a 4x4" swap with the theme of winter landscapes.  This is with my Sakura Koi travel watercolors on that nifty handmade paper...the paper you have to practically beat the paint into.

So...if you've been reading my blog or following me on Facebook, you might be wondering how the first in-home interview went.  Well, I'd say it went well. We met with our Licensing and Placement specialist in our home, and she asked us some pretty basic questions. Why do we want to foster children?  Are we physically able to have our own children?  What sort of childhood did we have?  What sort of discipline will we use? Do you understand that the goal of fostering is reunification after the parents get (or don't get) their act together?

We discussed what foster parenting means legally, what forms of discipline are acceptable, what rights we'll have as children's foster parents...She made sure we understand that the goal of foster parenting is reunification...and you may not always want that, but you have to stick with the care-plan.

We were given a lot more paper work to do...
  • application to have fingerprints checked
  • references from our work
  •  physical exam documentation of vaccination history
  • worker registration
  • Notification of safe sleep practices
  • financial worksheet
  • Home Escape plan
  • discipline agreement
  • 15 pages of very personal questions in the "Home Study Questionnaire" 

We were given some tips on making our house more foster-kid friendly
  • knives and chemicals should be placed in a high cabinet with a lock
  • critter cages should be given locks 
  • we should consider adding a keyed lock to the pantry and maybe our bedroom
  • consider putting twin beds in the guest rooms :) 
  • purchase a lockable medicine cabinet 
  • when we have a placement, remove all sentimental items or other items you would miss if broken from the bedrooms.  You know... in case time out didn't go well.

 What comes next?  Well over the next few weeks, we'll finish up the paperwork.  At the end of January we'll start taking the required class - 3 hours a week for 9 weeks.  During that time there will be 3 more home visits and interviews.  This is a ton of paper work and hassle, but we're determined to proceed.  God has placed this in our hearts.  Please pray for us as we prepare to accept children into our home.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”  Mark 9:37

Peace and Love, y'all!
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09 January 2013

Are we ready? - Foster Special #1

Tomorrow Chase and I have our first in-home interview to begin the process of getting licensed to foster children.  We're both very passionate about this, and we feel that God has called us to this.    BUT we are both nervous and wondering...Are we ready for this?  Are we going to be good parents?
Here are some of the biggest concerns I have.

  • Time - Chase and I both work full time.  While I believe parents can both work and still raise a family, I'm very concerned about time issues... How will we be sure the kids are picked up from school? Can we afford after school care until we get off work?  I work from 8-6 on almost all weekdays and 8-1 every other Saturday.  Is there enough time left to devote to children?  Chase pretty much gets to set his own hours as long as he works 40+ hours a week...and he's supposed to go in one day per weekend.
  • Discipline - Chase and I have never been parents before.  Will we be consistent but loving disciplinarians?   Will our strategies work? Will we even agree on those strategies?
  • Pain - As Chase and I take children into our home, love them, and then help them move back in with their parents/relative/adoptive home...will we be able to handle the pain of losing them?  The goal of foster care is reunification.

I truly believe this is something God has called us to do, so I have to trust that He will equip us with what we need.  

Just in case you don't know what this process will look like for us...Here's just a little overview of the process.

  1. Application - basically you fill out a form with your social security number, demographics, house information, references etc. DONE.  Chase and I have made it through this step.
  2. Initial In-home Consultation - This is what will take place tomorrow.  The agent will meet all of our pets, perform a complete tour of our home to verify it meets licensing standards, review our paperwork and the licensing process, and get our fingerprints for more background checks.
  3. Classes - Chase and I will both have to attend about 27 hours of classes (3 hours per week for 9 weeks).
  4. Home Study - While we're attending the classes, a home assessment work will conduct 3 more home visits.  If approved, we'll be licensed!
Adoptive parent training is a whole additional process that takes place after foster training.  We're doing all this business through Great Circle which works with Children's Division. 

03 January 2013

Year End Letter to Our Loved Ones

Dear Friends and Family,

What happened to the last year?  Chase and I feel like it just sped right by.  We hope this letter finds you all in good health and spirits.  Here are some of the highlights of a wonderful year:

  • January:  Katie passed her veterinary boards getting one step closer to becoming a real veterinarian.
  • February:  School continues, and Katie starts to look for a job.  As an answer to our prayers, My Zoo offers Katie a job so we can stay together in Columbia.
  • March: Katie goes to Branson to celebrate the end of a long academic career and the friendships formed during vet school.  Katie passes her state licensing board exam.
  • April:  The first of many... “Hey doc, we got this *insert animal here* and we don’t want it anymore.  Will you take it?”  Chimichanga the chinchilla becomes the newest member of the Darr family. 
  • May:  Katie graduates as a veterinarian.  Dreams do come true with a little bit of faith, a whole lot of prayer, years of hard work, and a strong network of beloved friends and family to support you.  We set out on a grand adventure to Yellowstone for a much needed vacation. 
  • June:  We bought a house with 3 bedrooms and a fenced in back yard.  Now we just need inhabitants for the other 2 bedrooms... Dr. Katie sees her very first patient.  We acquired 2 more pets (Junior and Chorizo the guinea pigs) from a closing pet store, and a cat named Home Boy came with the house.
  • July:  We celebrate our 3rd anniversary! 
  • August:  We go visit my grandpa who’s still hanging in there at 95.
  • September:  There’s a mouse in our house!!  We catch it and let it go in a state park
  • October:  We are rear-ended by a drunk driver.  We thank God for his protection.  The driver’s insurance paid for our new HHR (mostly), all 5 people involved in the accident walked away, and we saw the driver in church a few weeks later.  Blessings come in many forms.
  • November:  Happy Thanksgiving! We have a lot to be thankful for this year!
  • December:  We turned in our application to foster children through social services.  We have so many blessings to share; we feel God’s call in our lives to care for his sheep (especially the children).  We also acquired a new chinchilla (Bert the Chimney Sweep).
We love you all and we thank you for all the love and support you have given us.  We hope that 2013 is full of love and laughter.  God bless you all!  I hope we’ll get to see all of you this year!

Much Love,

Katie, Chase, Gary, Ruby, Home Boy, Chimichanga, Bert, Chorizo, and Panda-piggy Junior...


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