15 December 2015

Glimmers of Joyful life

last week:
I sat waiting in Big-O tires.  MM played with some toys on the floor and started cruising around the coffee table.  She looked up from the table toward me, and extended her little arms.  She took 3 tentative steps toward me and collapsed in my outstretched arms.  We both were smiling and giggling!  Her first real steps were in a tire store!  As we played and giggled, a young man approached us.  He was not smiling. “Hey, would you buy this gift card from me?  It’s got $200 on it, and I’m asking $150.”  Thinking it was a scam, I told him he should save it as car troubles can spring up in the future even if he doesn’t need it now.   He told me his license had been taken because of a DUI, and he needed money to pay the court expenses.  I felt a little sorry for him so I talked to him about forgiveness.  There is life after a big mistake, and he will be ok!   He walked away, and returned again in a few seconds.  “How about $100?”  I thought that it could be a scam, but this poor kid needed the money more than I.  So I agreed.  As soon as he left, I checked the balance with a clerk.  Sure enough $200!  I was so excited.   I met an honest young man, hopefully encouraged him a little, and got a $100 discount on new tires for my car.     I realize I could have checked it before I purchased it, but sometimes a person needs to be shown a little trust as encouragement to become trustworthy.   Or maybe I’m just too trusting and gullible, but it paid off!  Lol… of course the estimate for yet more repairs on the HHR put a small damper on my enthusiasm, but that’s life! 

When I got home, Peggy refused to go down for nap.  She was wired!  Maybe she was thinking about how to walk!  Who knows the mind of a baby…  Cheetah arrived home from school, and he wanted to help teach MM to walk.  We sat with a few feet between us and encouraged MM to walk from one set of arms to the other.   Her improvement was evident with every step!  I bet she will be running by her first birthday.  Cheetah smiled and said “she’s grown so much since I moved in.  It’s so much fun to see her grow!  When I first got here, she couldn’t even crawl.”  Peggy has been saying “Chachacha,” and Chase thinks she might be trying to say Cheetah’s name.  That little squirt loves her big brother, and he clearly loves her too.   Every child needs a loving home, and I’m so blessed to have 2 children laughing and playing in my home!

Peace and love, y’all!

11 December 2015

Some Memories...

Days Ago
I was happily snapping pictures of my family relaxing around the Christmas tree while I was trying to figure out more advanced settings on my new camera. Cheetah asked me what happened to the old one. I explained that the baby broke the lens so it doesn't attach well to the camera. He replied "I'm really good at fixing things. Can I take a look?" So he taped the 18-55mm lens on to the old Nikon D40 and started happily taking pictures of everything. I watched him for a few minutes...then asked "would you like that camera?" His eyes lit up for a minute...then he said "No, no. I couldn't take this." So I insisted. Then I got all the gear that went with it and explained the function of each. He got a Nikon D40, 18-55mm (sorta broken) lens, 55-200mm lens, battery charger, and a bag. He was SO HAPPY! "Now I can take nice portraits of my family when we get back together!!" I can't think of a better way to give my old camera..my very first dslr...new life. I hope he'll get many years of happy pictures of his friends and family

Cheetah was talking to his momma on the computer earlier this week and saw me walk by. He said "hey Katie! Can we do the ornament now?" I handed him today's ornament, waved at his mom on the screen and said hello, and then handed him the little devotional that goes along with yesterday's ornament. Both of us smiled while he shared the fall of Adam and Eve, and God's promise to redeem mankind. It was a moment of shared parenting - 2 sets of parents working together for the good of a child. He asked if he could continue the tradition at his house, and his momma of course said yes.

Weeks ago:
It had been a hard day at work.  I cried with owners as we said goodbye to pets and patients.  For whatever reason…I had multiple euthanasias that day, and even more over the previous week.  I was exhausted and sad.  Then I got this text message: “wat can I do to make your day better? So you don’t cry?” I replied “You just did.” 

Months ago:

 Cheetah worked up the courage to try to rock MM to sleep.  Chase gently placed her in his arms, and they settled into the rocking recliner.  MM fussed as she always does, but he persisted.  Soon my little baby was snuggled up with my teenage boy.  He had a huge grin on his face because he was so proud of himself.  Seeing them together made my heart melt into a mushy puddle. Since then, MM has adored Cheetah.  She picked up some of his dance moves (whip and naenae), and crawl-chased him around the living room.  She looks for him when he hides behind a wall or under a blanket.  He tells me he really wants a baby someday…but only 1! Since multiple kids are hard to handle! I think MM will miss him when he leaves our doors.  

04 December 2015

Look for the Helpers, Glimmers of light in the Darkness.

Christmas Bells

    I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Lately, the world has felt like a dark place full of suffering, hate, bigotry, and death.   The morning news is full of lives ended in violence – lights snuffed out before their time.   My heart is broken.  Then stories of suffering refugees, abused children, and fear of terrorist bombards my Facebook feed.  It’s getting hard to look at it, but I feel guilty to turn my head…but what can I do?

And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
        "For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

The only thing I can do is share the light in the darkness by loving others, opening my heart, my arms, and my home to the suffering.   Perhaps by living this way…we can make a positive impact.  Perhaps God can work through us.  Hopefully I can be one of the helpers Mr. Roger’s spoke about.

 "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."  Mr. Rogers (www.fredrogers.org)

God has not abandoned this world.  He is present and still at work.  He moves in my heart, and he moves in all hearts.  In all humankind, there are glimmers of a kinder spirit – a more loving world.  You just have to look to see them.  

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men."

12 September 2015

The Widows and Orphans, Abortion

My thoughts have trended toward the rights of children lately.   I had a horrible dream a few months ago about child sacrifice.  The people in my dream placed no value on the tiny infant…no more than an animal slaughtered for meat.  I was horrified, and woke up to snuggle with my own precious little baby.  Just recently, I had another terrible dream.  This time I had accompanied a woman to an abortion clinic, where she had a late term abortion.  The tiny baby was still alive, and they handed her to me.  As I stared at the tiny baby, I knew I couldn’t let her die.  They were going to finish killing the baby, but I took the baby and ran.  I was running to get her to a NICU so she could be saved.   The nurses and abortion doctor were chasing me to try to kill the infant.  I kept running until I came up to a parade.  Ironically, there was a group of pro-life activist motorcyclists in the parade.  So one biker gave me and the baby a ride to the hospital.   I woke up before we arrived.   Perhaps these dreams have arrived in light of my own concerns over MM’s health (she’s fine and healthy…but moms always worry a little), and also the media coverage of Planned Parenthood.  Maybe these dreams have also been coming because MM's personality and individuality are growing more distinct.  I frequently look at her in wonder that this rapidly changing little human being that started out as tiny little cells that grew...and grew!  Babies and children are truly amazing - fearfully and wonderfully made.

 I don’t often weigh in on issues like abortion because…quite frankly they confuse me.    What are a woman’s rights? What are the baby’s rights?   I’ve heard people ask me…how could I (or anyone) ask a woman to give up her body and raise a child she doesn’t want?  They say that child will be unloved and unwanted…and possibly enter foster care or be adopted.  What could be worse than children that are unloved and bounce in and out of foster care?  As a foster parent, we are that home, and we’ve met a ton of other people who also provide homes.   Almost all of the foster and adoptive parents we've met are amazing people.  They are warm, loving, and patient.  They pour their hearts and souls into “unwanted” children.   When we attend the local support group for other parents like us…I hear their anguish…their love and worry over these children.  As foster parents, we strive to teach children what a stable, loving home feels like.  We read them bible stories and pray for them.  At the same time, we often love and support their parents and try to encourage them to stick with the plan to get their children back..even when that means the child we love will leave us.   It’s so hard to both love the child and the struggling parents.  We love the children placed in our home like our own, and it crushes my soul when I say goodbye to send them home.  I remember all of their faces…all of their stories. 

So when someone asks me what I think about abortion, I reply that I am pro-choice.  I am striving to actually offer a choice to mothers.   Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think most women get abortions because they feel they have a choice.  I think many of them feel like they don’t have a choice.  They feel that poverty or circumstance dictate they cannot care for their child…and they have no choice but to terminate a pregnancy.  

My approach is to try to inspire others to become adoptive parents…become foster parents.  Let’s give the world a real choice!  If enough homes opened their doors to truly love the “unwanted” children AND the mothers, what a difference we could make!  Yes…being a foster parent is hard, but being a parent at all is hard!  Parenthood in all its forms is such worthwhile endeavor.   It’s also something bible compels us to do (James 1:27 for example).   I will not be the one to cast stones.  I will not be the one sitting on the judgment seat.  Instead, I want to love mothers facing hard circumstances.  I want to open my home to their children so they feel they do have a choice.   

With all that being said...I do fear judgment.  Not man's judgment, but God's.   Will my nation, my friends, my family, me be judged for our apathy?  Will we get to God's judgment seat and be asked..."Why did you turn a blind eye to injustice? Why did you merely watch while children were killed? Why did you not love and care for the widows, the orphans, the single parents?"  That's not at all what I want to hear when I get to heaven...I want my God to say "Well done, good and faithful servant."  I really don't know what that means for me and what I'm called to do, but I know I'm not the Judge.  I will do what I can for children and families with love.  I will fight injustice and apathy with love, prayer, personal sacrifice, and elbow grease.

Peace and Love, y'all! 

05 August 2015

Mm, family photos, respite

Mary and #14 snuggling.  #14 loved Mary.  He wanted to hold her as much as I would let him.

A couple weekends ago, we picked up 2 more foster children for respite (children #14 and 15,I believe), and Cheetah embarked on a 1 week journey with the church youth group, and .   We briefly had all 3 foster children plus Mary at one time.  Haha!  We had to borrow a car just to be able to drive our whole family around!  Eventually Chase and I are planning on buying a second vehicle, but for right now we are sharing 1 car (5 person capacity).  We are trying to handle our finances Dave Ramsey-style, but it's very challenging!  It would be so much easier with 2 cars now instead of saving and waiting to buy one... 

One of my favorite pictures from Tiger Paw Photography

To help out our finances, I sell cards made from my artwork.  I put aside money for these sales for fun and family stuff.  I saved up enough for a family photo shoot, and I'm very excited about the pictures.  Since Cheetah was out of town during this shoot, we scheduled a mini-shoot for September to include him in our family pictures.   He was surprised to hear we wanted him to be a part of family pictures.  I actually thought about this very thing, and decided that our family pictures will be of our family how it exists at that moment.  That is obviously going to vary.  It's a challenge to both make foster children part of your family, while remembering they are part of another family.  They are mine, but they are not mine.  I am raising another mother's pride and joy.  I must never forget that.  Just as I held Mary for the first time, and my heart overflowed with wonder and love...I'm sure my foster child's mother felt the same way at some point.

My planner this week has a little help from some minions.

In other news, I joined another creative endeavor.  Since I don't have a computer, and I have a 7 month old baby...I don't have much time for scrapbooking!  My good friend, Jen Wright Designs just opened a sticker shop on Etsy.   She makes stickers to put in your planner.  I love planners, and I love stickers!  So I can't wait to combine the two loves for a prettier planner :) 

Here's a link to the sticker shop:

16 July 2015

Life with Cheetah

Cheetah (foster child #13 to pass through our doors) joined our house last week.  What's life been like with a teenager and an infant?  Busy to say the least.  Chase has been driving the kids around for lessons, meetings with social workers, meetings with biological family, and more.  Cheetah is potentially the most well-behaved teenager I've ever met.  Granted we are probably in the "honeymoon phase" of foster parenting, but his behavior and attitude has been top-notch.  He's quick to help around the house, and completes any task asked of him with alacrity....as long as you don't ask him to read a book!  We've enrolled both children in swimming lessons.  MM just flails and tries to cling to whichever parent is attending lessons with her.  She has at least learned to hold her breath after I blow on her face.   Cheetah has never had formal swimming lessons, but is able to tread water.  He got placed with younger kids (8 years old), and he was less than thrilled about it. Hopefully he'll be able to progress quickly!

We started an allowance system with him that was very unique.  When I told other parents about it, they thought it was rather strange.   Cheetah can earn up to $15 a week by completing tasks allotted for a certain amount of money.   I had almost 100 tasks, and almost all of them were geared toward getting to have fun with our family.  Some examples of $1 tasks...
  • Go for a hike
  • Eat with us at your favorite restaurant
  • Share a playlist of your favorite music
  • Beat Katie at a board game
  • Write letters to your siblings
Some of the tasks focused on getting involved with church, engaging in charitable/compassionate endeavors,  reaching out to his family, learning how to function as an adult, and improving literacy.   The educational tasks were worth $2 and can be repeated.  The fun stuff only counted once.   Needless to say, he loved his list!  He's started keeping a bird list, wrote cards to all of his siblings, cooked dinner, cooked breakfast, beaten me at 2 games (and played many more), enjoyed fireworks with us, and more.  It's been a great way to break the ice so to speak.

MM recently turned 6 months old!  Where did the time go?  She is rolling all over the house and can very slowly army-crawl.   She's also got a tooth!  It poked through just a few days ago!   She eats rice cereal, apples, bananas, peas, green beans, broccoli, pears, prunes, carrots, and squash! 

06 July 2015

We're Expecting!

Our household population is changing again.  We are expecting yet another child!  He’s a young teenager.  We met him only briefly for an hour or two over the weekend, but we’ve been told he’s just a very sweet young man…

Over the last 3 years, we’ve had only 2 other long term placements (3 years ago), 1 emergency placement, and 9 “respite” cases.   This will be our first long term placement in quite some time!  Needless to say, we are nervous.  Are we up to the task of raising a teenager along with our baby? Are we crazy to take in a teenager?  Of course, we aren’t ready…and yes…we are probably crazy.

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares Hebrews 13: 1 & 2

We felt God’s call upon our hearts to say yes to this young man, and we will rely on His wisdom and providence to care for him.  I’m sure God will use the extensive network of friends and family to help share this wisdom.   

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. - Proverbs 11:14  

Chase and I worked over the weekend to prepare our home for our new visitor: knives locked away, the dog’s medicines locked in our safe, floors vacuumed, chinchilla cage cleaned, my sewing put away…  Then on Saturday morning, we went to the group home he was staying at to take him to an Independence Day picnic.  We got out of the car, and went from locked door to locked door looking for a doorbell or sign on how to get in contact with the people within.   Finally we found a door with a doorbell.  We waited patiently as one of the house parents came to the door.  We signed the required paperwork to take him out of the home.   The parents expressed their sadness that he would be moving away.   The group home is only meant to be a temporary shelter for foster children, and this kiddo had been there for a few months already.   A few children came out to curiously peer at us.   Then finally a young man cam out.  We introduced ourselves, and I could tell how incredibly nervous he was to meet us.  I can’t imagine what that must feel like:  meeting your future foster parents for the first time.  At least this time, he first met us in a familiar location.
The drive to the picnic was a little…tense and awkward.  He didn’t really volunteer any information, but I did manage to find out he didn’t like fish…or chocolate.  He liked football and maybe hiking.  I told him about his room at our house and our family.  He seemed excited to have a room all to himself.
He barely spoke at the picnic, and we didn’t press him too much.  Ironically, one of his former gym teachers was there and happy to see him.  We introduced him as our friend who would be staying with us for awhile.  The teacher looked at us quizzically.  When we run into people that knew a foster child before they entered care, we always receive that look of curiosity.  However, this boy’s story is his own.  We won’t share why he entered care or any details – only that he is currently staying with us.  We were grateful that he knew at least one other person.  He sat wherever we directed him and didn’t want a plate.  No, he hadn’t eaten lunch yet…but no…he didn’t want a plate.  Honestly, I think he was just too shy.  We decided not to keep him there too long since he seemed so uncomfortable.  Our gracious host asked if he would like a plate to go, and he gladly accepted.  She piled a plate with more food than he can eat with an extra plate with every dessert and covered the plates with foil.  Chase took him back to the children’s shelter.  We will pick him up for good on Monday.  How long will he stay? We don't know, but it's in God's hands.

06 June 2015

Elise, with the clothes on her back, iBelong

It was 11:00pm.  I had been trying to get MM to sleep for the last hour, and we were both somewhat cranky.   I decided to get up and ask Chase to rock the baby to sleep, and get a head start on sleep while he took his MM shift.    No sooner had I nestled under the covers and shut my eyes than the phone rang.   A phone call that late at night could only mean a few things…either a medical emergency (either with my friends/family or with a furry patient) or a child that needs our help.  This time, it was a child.  She was 12 years old.  She needed a place to stay that night.   Too sleepy to make a decision, I handed the phone to Chase.  After a few minutes of discussion, I heard him say “Sure.  We will take her.”  So we sat the (very awake, very playful) MM down under her mobile, and rushed to get the house prepared.  Knives locked away, fire escape plan posted, Ruby’s dog medicine locked up with the other meds, dishes cleaned, and the Gary-barricades put away.  Gary was clumsy so we barricaded him out of the common area so he didn’t step on or wake up the baby.  This, however, made our house look like a maze of laundry baskets.   Crazy-cleaning frenzy subsided; we sat down to think about what we just signed up for.  No idea.  Will she be afraid of the dogs?  Will she be good with MM? Will she be too scared to sleep tonight?  Is she injured?  What is she like?  Will she have any behaviors that will put MM at risk?  Are we making the right decision?  Chase felt strongly called to say yes to help this little one.   We wondered what her story would be…

Within 20 minutes, a social worker arrived at our door with a shy, preteen girl trailing behind her.  The young girl looked up nervously and smiled brightly at us.   The social worker introduced us.   “....this is Chase and Katie.  They will be taking care of you until court on Monday.”   I noticed the girl had a McDonald’s cup in one hand, but wasn’t carrying sack of clothing or cosmetics. I promptly introduced MM, who was wide-awake and smiling.  “Oh!  What a cute baby!  And I’m not just saying that because she’s your baby.  She’s really cute!  I love those chubby cheeks!  Oh! She’s smiling at me! I LOVE BABIES!! Oh you have a piano!! Will I be able to play on the piano? My brother taught me some songs, but I can’t read music!”  She was full of excited energy, and seemingly happy to be with us.  I decided to give “Elise” (for Fur Elise, a tune she immediately picked out on the piano) the tour of our house.  She loved the chinchillas, loved the dogs, loved her bedroom “Who’s bedroom was this before me?” I explained that we keep it ready for any guests or children.  She told me she wanted to be a veterinarian or something to do with small children.   She was very excited to find out I was a veterinarian.   I showed her the bathroom that will be her bathroom.  “OH…I can’t take a shower…I only have this one outfit.”  I told her we will buy her a set of clothes for her stay so she can wear clean clothing.  “Oh I have TONS of outfits…just not with me.  You don’t have to get me anything.”  I explained if we can’t get her clothing from home, I really looked forward to taking her shopping!   We told her she will at least need 1 extra outfit, pjs, underthings, and cosmetics.  The case worker told us court was scheduled for the upcoming Monday, and things look promising she will go to a different family member following court.  While I showed Elise around, the case worker filled Chase in on as much as she knew about this little one.  Elise gave the case worker a huge hug, and told me “she’s like a good friend to me!” 

 This little family of 4 sat on the couch for a few minutes just talking and getting acquainted.  Here’s what we learned (at least while I was awake)…

  •  She loved children and animals
  • She loved old things – like Chase’s pottery shards
  • She loved babies – especially MM.  We let her hold MM for a few minutes.  MM smiled and touched her face.
  • She wanted to be a veterinarian
  • She was a self-proclaimed nerd, because she’s good at math.  Her nerd-dom is unintentional.
  •  No, she doesn’t want to watch Star Trek because that would make her even more nerdy. 
  • She says she's not a Christian, but believes Jesus is the savior and son of God.

MM started to fuss, so I took her to bed.  I think Elise and Chase stayed up until 2 am talking.  We don’t usually let children stay up that late, but we didn’t think it was reasonable to send this kiddo straight to bed without talking to her new foster parents.  It’s hard enough being taken from your home and placed in a stranger’s home.  Chase told me they talked about Revelations, religion, pottery, her family, and whatever else this cute little chatter box had to say.  She was very curious to what religion we follow, and Chase shared a little of our beliefs.  Chase also said she got a mini-guitar lesson last night. 

I left for work bright and early Saturday morning.  It’s my Saturday to take care of the sick animals and appointments until the afternoon.  Elise had just woken up and was chattering to me about the morning news and how she was a morning person.  I walked back to the nursery to say goodbye to Chase, and as I left Elise was standing in our doorway chattering at Chase.  I say “at Chase” because he was still mostly still asleep.  I’m not sure what the rest of today will bring, but I love this little child already.  She reminds me of my sister-in-law when she was 12. 

I’m hoping to take Elise shopping today.  She arrived with only the clothes on her back.  This is unfortunately how many foster children enter care.  Alone, frightened…with very little of their own belongings. 

What can you do?
If you want to help foster children, but don’t feel called to be foster parents…you can still help.  One way to do this is to provide a bag to foster children.  The Columbia Adoption project has put together “ibelong” backpacks to give to foster children.  We didn’t actually get a backpack for this kiddo, but we will make sure she is prepared for the next part of her story.  I plan on buying her 1 outfit, 1 set of PJs, whatever undergarments she needs, small thing of cosmetics, bible, and a journal.  I'll let you know how our shopping trip went later :)

http://www.comoadoption.com/make-a-difference (link for the backpacks)

Peace and love, y'all.  Hopefully someone out there will decide to help a foster child.  They need your love...your kindness...your support.   

21 May 2015

The Use of Psychotropic Medications in Foster Children

There's one thing I'v been pondering quite a bit over the last few days, and that's the use of behavior altering medications in children in foster care.  These children have all been through some sort of trauma, and sometimes that leads to troublesome (for adults) behavior.  I know quite a few of the foster children I've done respite for are on some sort of medication for ADHD.   Actually 5 out of 10 of the boys we've had are now on meds.  One little boy in particular has been on my mind.  He was almost sedated with his medications.  A little boy should be running around and having fun - that's what little boys do.  I never saw him before meds, but his lack of energy worried me.  Please don't mistake me, I'm not criticizing foster parents who have children on meds.   I think of long term foster parents as guardian angels sent to protect and nurture these children. The vast majority of foster parents that I've met love the children like their own flesh and blood.   However, I think we should all carefully consider the decision to put children on meds.

  I'm just a humble veterinarian so I don't have any training on psychotropic meds in children, but I do know a little about the use of meds in dogs.   I will never send home behavior-altering medications in any pet without first discussing what training needs to be accomplished, and referral to a qualified trainer.  There's no alternative to actually correcting behavior.   Additionally, I won't keep a pet on meds long term without bloodwork to monitor organ function.   Every single medication we give to pets or people has a consequence, has an effect on organs, has an effect on the brain... There is nothing that is 100% safe.  

    So what about these medicines in children?

  • Do we know what effects they have on their brain? organs?
  • Are they more likely to use drugs in the future?
  • Are we PREVENTING them from LEARNING good behavior and instead teaching them to rely on medications?  
  • What about future effects?  Children are developing their thought processes.  Their brain is growing and changing.  Are we hurting their future by using these medications?  
I did a brief search through scholarly articles and research papers, and found only that "more research is needed" to determine long term effects.

For children that are in care who seem a little...energetic.   Wouldn't it be better to send them to play tag outside when they are rambunctious?   If they are in class, maybe some jumping jacks and stretching as a class would help children who are restless sitting there.  It would also help with the obesity epidemic... Little boys aren't supposed to be still.  They should be running, playing, jumping, and saying "HEY!  Look what I can do!"   Also maybe we should cut back on the processed foods and sugars before adding medications.  

Honestly, I don't know what the answer is...but I hate seeing children on medication.   I hope that we can all carefully consider the use of behavior modifying medications, and I hope we can find ways to manage behavior safely with minimal use of medications.

Peace and Love, y'all

20 May 2015

Fostering, adopt them, well behaved foster children

We jumped back into fostering this past weekend.  We got the call on Friday night.  "Can you take 3 boys for the weekend?" The foster mom explained that her usual respite provider canceled at the last moment.  When a foster family needs a break, respite providers provide this break.  The boys were aged 5, 11, and 16.  The younger 2 were brothers.  After Chase and I talked about it, we decided we could provide a place for these boys.

They arrived at our house about 1 hour after I got off from work.  They carried in their clothing for the weekend stay in plastic shopping bags.  Their foster mom explained their medicines and care.  Their foster dad carried in a TV for the oldest's xbox.  I showed them into our home and gave the children a tour.  The two littlest happily claimed the yellow bedroom, and the oldest the blue room.  We sat with the boys and chatted for a while, and started a movie.   The youngest quickly fell asleep on our couch.  Both of the older boys offered to carry him to his bed, but we gently woke him up.  The little one's brother walked him down the hall and tucked him to bed.  The middle one went to bed too.  The oldest and Chase stayed up enjoying video games while Mary and I went to bed as well.

The next morning, the boys stayed with Chase while I went to work.  Mary was fussy so Chase didn't get to spend much quality time with them.  When I got home, I took over caring for Mary.  We got out the legos and played with the youngest.   He loved legos! We made a stable for the horses, and helped the police drive their boats.  I put on a movie while I went to feed Mary.  When I got done, we all ate grilled cheese sandwiches and grapes.  Then we went on a walk.  I let the middle boy walk Ruby, and the smallest got to walk Gary.  I pushed the stroller.  Gary was a perfect companion for the little guy.  Gary doesn't pull or bark anymore.  He just totters along slowly.  Chase and the oldest played video games together.  Chase has a Civil War game so I hope the oldest learned the history of some Civil War battles too!

When we got home, Chase gave cooking lessons to the 2 oldest while I played Uno with the youngest.  Over dinner we asked the boys what they liked.  The middle one loved all sports except for basketball.  The two youngest both loved swimming, and hoped to do some this summer.  We learned the oldest has his drivers license and wanted to purchase a car.  He wanted to join the navy after school, because it's a family tradition.  He was sad he couldn't leave the state to visit family.   All 3 children were hoping to be able to return to their mothers this summer. 

 Reunification is the goal of fostering.    Almost all foster children dream of reuniting with their families.  It doesn't matter how messed up the biological family seems, children want their family.  We are frequently asked "Don't you want to adopt them?" with regards to the foster children.  And the answer is...NO  we want their biological families to get the support and help they need to turn things around.  We want the biological families to provide loving and supportive homes for their children.   That is what is best for the children.  Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen.  Of course, we would adopt a long term foster in that case, and love them as much as we love MM.  BUT that is not what we hope and pray for.

 As usual, we instantly loved these children.  I've never met such a polite teenager.  Even though the 2 other boys weren't related to him, it was obvious he protected and cared for them.  The 2 brothers were just so sweet.  When their foster parents came to pick them up, we told them they are welcome to call us as respite providers any time.  Oftentimes when I tell others how well behaved/sweet/kind/helpful/not bad/anything good the foster children are, I'm immediately asked "Isn't that unusual to get a well behaved foster child?"   This question drives me bonkers, but provides an excellent opportunity to explain the truth.  The truth is...the children are JUST CHILDREN.  They have been through some awful things, but they are just children.  Foster children DID NOTHING to become foster children.  It's not their fault.  They didn't deserve this.  The poor children don't need a stigma - they face enough challenges already.  Foster children need love, acceptance, stability, and fun just like a non-foster child.  It breaks my heart that there is a misconception that foster children are innately poorly behaved. 

If anyone stumbles across this blog and is curious about fostering.  Drop me a line with questions.

Peace and Love, y'all

Chase and I are still waiting for "the call" that we can say yes to.  We aren't sure if we are ready for a long term foster, but we're ready to try.  Right now we are more comfortable with sibling groups or a boy since Chase is a stay-at-home-daddy.  We were called yesterday about a teenage girl, but we had to say no.   Saying no is more difficult than saying yes. 

10 May 2015

Life Continues

My maternity leave officially ended on April 7th as I headed back to work. I've been so busy!  Life is full of work and baby, work and baby, work and baby.   But I love it.  I love working, and I love being a mom.  I just hope I can maintain a balance!

Here' are some scrapbook layouts with Jen Wright's kits :) 

14 February 2015

Cloth diapers

So Chase and I have been trying this cloth diapering thing. So far it's not bad. Breast-fed baby poop doesn't really stink all that much, and it comes off in the wash without any trouble.  After doing a little bit of research we ordered a couple different types of cloth diapers to try out. We ordered some pocket diapers and some diaper covers to get started.

 We ordered six LBB pocket diapers with microfiber inserts from Amazon. So far they work well for our 12 pound, 1 month old baby. We only have had a couple times where poop blew out the sides.  When changing the diaper I remove the insert from the diaper, and throw them in a wet bag. When I'm ready to wash them, I just throw it all into the wash. I run a prewash cycle on cold. Then I wash them with Tide original powder and hot water.  I hang dry the covers and machine dry the inserts.  I've washed them probably six times now and they have held up very well. These are Chase's favorite because they're the easiest to use.  The downside to the pocket diapers is the fact that these have to be washed after every time baby soils the diaper.  Therefore you need a bunch of them!  We also have 2 Bum Genius 4.0 pocket diapers, and they are very nice.  With a total of 9 pocket diapers, we use all of them in 1 day.
We chose to use Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap Covers Size 1 with Osocozy prefolds Size 1 and a Snappi.  These were a little bit more challenging to get the hang of. You have to use a prefold diaper then cover it with the diaper cover.   I use a jelly roll fold on the prefold.  Basically...I place baby on unfolded prefold, roll the leg ends toward the center, bring the rolls up to the front, roll the extra down, and attach a Snappi.    Then you snap on the cover and tuck prefold into the cover.   I actually quite like the system because you can reuse the covers until they get poop on them. This seems like the cheapest route to go. You only need a couple covers to make the system work, and prefolds are relatively inexpensive.  

Since the pocket style diapers will be easiest for day care, I decided to go ahead and order some more.  Based on recommendations from friends, I ordered 12 Sunbaby size 2 diapers.  We  chose the combination inserts.  I'll let you know what we think.  They should arrive in 2 weeks or so.

So far we've spent $200 on cloth diapering (6 pockets, 4 covers, and 24 prefolds, 1 packet snappis) and that would be sufficient if I did laundry every day.   Since I hate doing laundry, I ordered 12 more pocket style diapers for $70.  SO for $270 I will have plenty of diapers for my baby.  The diaper wraps will fit her until about 18 pounds, but the pocket diapers are all 1 size.  I plan on saving all of my diapering supplies for the next baby.  

Mary goes through about 8 diapers a day.   Let's say that decreases as she gets older.   6 a day X 365 =  2,190.  Most diapers I've looked at are around $0.20 per diaper. That's $440ish for the first year.  I plan on using these for the next baby so it seems clear that we'll save some money-even if I take into account washing/drying. Plus we'll not contribute as much to land fills ;)

I hope this post helps somebody.  Starting up with cloth diapers can be daunting, but I think it's worth it in the long run.

Peace and love, y'all