Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankfulness in November

I see on Facebook that many people are taking time to list one thing they are thankful for each day in the month of November.
I love that idea!  So often we are striving for bigger and better that we forget to look around and see what we are already blessed with!

Of course I am thankful for my family, home, jobs, my children, health, my country…. I could go on and on, but I find what is most helpful for me is to each day stop and find what I am thankful for in that moment.  it can be the smallest and most insignificant thing, but in that moment it can be huge!  If I can stop in a chaotic moment all the better!

It's the little bits of thankfulness that make everything else do able!  It's a child sleeping in until 6am.  It's the dog not jumping on a visitor.  It's a fun catalog in the mailbox.  It's a little bit of sunshine through the clouds making me put on my sunglasses.  It's the smiles I get when the kids come home.  It's the cuddles and snuggles.  There are so many little things that make me so thankful each and every day for the trillions of blessings I have!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Metal Mouth" has moved in

When the dentist told me it was time to take Jackson in to the orthodontist to have things checked out I was a bit caught off guard.

In my day, (I sound like I am old stating it that way) you waited until you had all of your permanent teeth and then went through the pain and astigmatism of having braces for years.  I was told that this isn’t the way it is done today.  They like to take a preventative approach now and start early.

I can understand this.  It makes sense that you would want to try to do the least invasive procedures and start with correcting the foundation before correcting the appearance.  We are hopeful that by putting in an expander now Jackson’s jaw will be widened allowing for his teeth to go in the correct positions and eliminating the need for braces later on.  That would be nice for him and for the pocket book!

At any rate, we have gone into the office four times.  The first time Jackson had a brief exam and we saw a slide show explaining what the plan would be.  We were then ushered into a room with the lady who handles the bills.  The cost and payment plan was discussed and we signed up!

The next three visits consisted of pictures, x-rays, molds, spacers, and finally the actual device.  I think Jackson is happy you can’t see it, but I know it is going to be annoying when he has to eat and clean it!  We were given a water pick to clean it.  I can predict who is going to want to have their hands on that right away and the mess that will follow!

Now for the next three weeks I have to put a teeny tiny little pin in the device in the roof of Jackson’s mouth and turn it twice a day!  This is going to take discipline!  I will have to remember to turn it and will have to capture a busy 9 year old to do it!  Oh joy!!  Because we don’t have enough going on in our home right now!  At least we only have to do it for three weeks!  If all looks good we will just keep the expander in for another 3 months to keep the teeth in the right position.  From there who knows…..  It almost seems as if we have signed over his mouth for the next 5-6 years to do with what they want!  Good bye sandy beach vacation – Hello sore mouthed pre-teen!  An even trade if I ever heard of one!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Doing the Tough Stuff

Being a foster parent is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

It is so much more then supplying a home and food.  It is more then having case workers come into your home to check up on the child.  It is more then taking the child to visit their biological family at least twice a week.  It is more then collaborating with professionals to meet the needs of the child.  It is more then driving across town to meet with the only doctors in the area who accept the child's insurance.  It is more then finding yourself in unfamiliar situations with strangers.  It is more then accepting the child as is and trying to make the best of their past.

It is opening your heart.  It is accepting a child into your life so fully that you can barely recall what life was like before they came.  It is being mindful of  each and every need that they may have that you have never encountered before and figuring out how to best meet it. 

It can be rocking a screaming child in the middle of the night and not knowing how to calm them.  It can also be teaching them things they should already know.  It is giving them the best you can give for the short time you have them.  It is being willing to give your heart and yourself and then to let go.

I encounter so many people who tell me that they could never do what we do.  They could never take a foster child in only to let them go again.  The first times I heard this I felt a little offended.  Are they saying that I am cold-hearted?  Or are they saying I am stronger then they are?  Either way I don't think they meant it as an insult to me and it really doesn't really matter.

Having a foster child isn't about me or my feelings and what I can or can not do.  (although right now it is meeting my baby fix and I love working with kids!) It is about the child.  It is about taking care of God's creation.  It is about all that I have and all that I can give to others.  That is what I try to focus on.

We love this little one.  We treat him as our own and it will be hard to say good-bye.  We prepare the kids for that day even though we don't know when it will come.  Nothing about this is easy.  It isn't easy for him and it isn't easy for us, but who said life would be easy?  Wouldn't it be great if it were easy?  If it were, less children would be on the streets without homes! 

In my life I have found that doing the right thing always seems to be the hardest thing to do.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Next I'll Lose My Marbles... or maybe I already have

Having children can be hectic.

This week I have lost a winter coat and a pair of shoes.

Wait.  I personally did not lose these things.  They aren’t even my possessions.  My children have lost these things.  I don’t understand how something like a pair of shoes that I just saw on your feet the day before could now suddenly be gone!  Poof!  The coat I can understand.  It was taken off and left behind.

Given the fact that I can’t keep track of larger items I had a bit of a moment this morning at the orthodontist.  Jackson was just fitted for a device to widen his upper jaw.  I have to take a teeny tiny little pin and put it in his mouth twice a day to turn the device.  The hygienist handed it over to me and I actually laughed.  “I have to keep track of this little thing when I have already lost track of a winter coat and a pair of shoes this week!” (and it is only Tuesday!)  Thankfully, I was told if I lost it to just call and they could give me another one.  I wish now I had asked for an extra right away!  Knowing how hectic life has been lately it is almost a guarantee I will misplace this tiny key, a child will find a way to use it and play with it, or the dog will eat it!  I already know I can’t use duct tape to fix it like I did the old pair of shoes that I had to send Tyce in when we couldn’t find his shoes!

Having kids is hectic and sometimes I like to use George Castanza’s father’s line, “Serenity Now!”  I figure I’ll get there when they have all moved out. ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting Sent to the Principal's Office

I was asked to stay after a meeting the other day.  Just being asked this filled me with anxiety!  Was I in trouble?

I remember in high school when I was called down to the office over the loud speaker.  I was petrified!  My brain went through a check list of each and everything I had done wrong to prepare myself for what I would face and how I would defend myself! (which I can't even recall now - I think the worst I did in school was make a couple teachers cry... that's an entirely different blog post... and TP houses with friends)

While I was teaching when I received notes or phone calls to go down to the office I did the same thing.  What kind of trouble was I in?

I once received a call from the founder and CEO of It Works! Global and immediately I thought I had done something wrong!

I don't know why my brain works this way.  Not once have I been called into an office, asked to stay after, or gotten a phone call from an figure in authority because of some kind of trouble I was in!  You would think that by now I would have lost that feeling! 

BTW- The call to the office in high school was about being accepted to an exchange program in Spain.  The call that scared me while teaching ended up being an announcement that I had been nominated for "First-Year Teacher of the Year".  The call from the CEO of It Works!  was to announce that I had won a contest and had the most customers in a certain amount of time. Oh and the other day when I was asked to stay after a meeting I wasn't in trouble either...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bear Cave should be re-named the Bat Cave!

All summer long we had plenty to do each and every weekend, so when we found ourselves with a partially free weekend we decided to fill it with a mini-adventure!  I had been looking through a book about things to do in Michigan and found something that I thought we would all find interesting. Or maybe I just found it interesting and dragged the rest of the family with me...

We headed south to Buchanan, Michigan.  I took note that on the way we crossed over a Wine Trail.  A few years back some of my girlfriends and I were driven by a brave husband down this way to visit some of the wineries.  Now that the colors are in full force, this would be a great time to visit again...  But I digress....

We headed to Buchanan where we found Bear Cave.  Bear Cave is the only cavern in the Great Lakes area.  Along the 40 foot winding stairway that leads visitors through the cave you will see stalactites, petrified leaves, and other peculiar shapes. The metal oxides of native ores color the entire cave.  The cave holds quite a bit of significant history. It played a significant part in the Underground Railroad during the period of slavery. In 1875 the “loot” from an Ohio bank robbery was “deposited” in the cave. This became the inspiration for the 1903 silent film The Great Train Robbery. The film is now considered a silent film classic and was the precursor of the thriller movies of today. The cave is entered through the gift shop. It is open from May to October and there is an admission fee.

As you go into the cave, the people at the front desk turn on a recording that tells visitors what they are looking at inside of the cave. There are also plaques on the wall that label formations.  At times it can be hard to hear what the recording is saying because there are only a few speakers and when bats begin to fly at you from all directions your shrieks tend to drown it out.  I may be exaggerating a little bit about the bats.  It is pretty dark in there so you don't always see them and they tend to stay high above your head when they fly, but I still let out noises that resembled shrieks when I saw them! 

We spent a lot of time in the cave.  It was a pleasant temperature and I easily walked through the entire cave upright.  If it had been a tiny space I think I would have passed on the experience.  The rock formations are very interesting as are the colors you can see on the cave walls.  I think the kids liked it best when the bats swooped down near their mother.

The area surrounding the cave is rich in wooded hills, wildflowers, deep ravines, and of course, the magnificent St. Joseph River.  We walked around for awhile taking it all in.  This is also home to a camping resort that has a pool.  They also had a great clubhouse that we explored while using the restroom.

After our cave exploring, we took a 20 minute drive to Warren Dunes State Park (again passing over the Wine Trail)  The day was overcast and it sprinkled a few times, but that didn't stop us from climbing the huge dunes, running down, and playing at the beach!  We got everyone dusted off and in the car just in time for it to down pour!

I often don't consider just getting in the car and driving somewhere new, but this was a ton of fun!!  I hope when we find another obligation free day on the weekend we can find another adventure to go on!  Maybe this time it will be with less bats!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bell's Beer Dinner

I know most of you have heard of wine tasting or going to a dinner and having each entree paired with a different wine, but have you heard of "beer tasting" or "beer dinners"? A few weeks ago Ryan and I went to such an event and were not disappointed.

First, you should know that I am not a beer drinker.  It is not my first choice in a beverage.  I was a little wary that the meal would be a flop for me because of this.  However, I was delightfully surprised!

Each entree was paired with a different beer from Bell's Brewery.  Some of our dishes were even made with the beer in it.  I wish I had saved the menu because the food prepared by the chef at Railside Golf Club was some of the best food I have had and I would have liked to tell you each course and which beer was paired with it!  The dessert was especially scrumptious and unique.  I would choose that dessert over and over again and that is saying a lot since I am a huge dessert consumer!

I do know that the beer tasted differently with the food that we ate.  I found myself liking the taste of the beer much more when I had the right combination of food on my pallet.  As a rule I especially don't care for very dark beers, but with dessert we had what I believe was called Black Note.  It was black as night and had a very unusual taste to it, but it was fantastic with the dessert!

Our host from Bell's Brewery was fun, energetic, and full of information about Bell's and beer in general.  My favorite part about him was that he brought gifts to give away.  In the past things were raffled off, but this year questions were asked and those with the fastest correct answer won an item.  I do much better in the raffles!  One year I won a t-shirt.  This year I brought home some chapstick and keychains, but I didn't win the coveted Bell's hoodie which now three of my neighbors own!

Proud winner of this year's hoodie!
Of course I know we can not replicate this dinner, but we can try to have a "beer tasting" at home.  We tried it once before and tried to guess which beer was which, but we had way too many choices and after a few, they all tasted pretty much the same!  Practice makes  perfect though right??

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Parenting for Attachment

I have been thinking a lot about attachment.

This is probably a term that most of you don't really think about or consider at all ever.  If you are part of the foster or adoption community, it is something that you think about all of the time. Or you went through a time when you did think constantly about it or should have been thinking about it!

Attachment is so important that when you are preparing to adopt there are classes dedicated to just that topic.  There are stacks of books and articles that address the importance of attachment and even therapists whose entire focus is on attachment.

Attachment is not just a connection between two people; it is a bond that involves a desire for regular contact with that person and the experience of distress during separation from that person.  Without appropriate attachment, children can suffer an inability to form lasting, loving relationships. They may lack conscience development and cannot trust. They often grow into distant, manipulative, uncaring adults.

We talk about attachment in regards to children who are adopted or in foster care most often because they may not have had the opportunity to attach to someone.

When Lola first came home we were advised that Ryan and I be the only ones to hold her, feed her, bathe her, diaper her, and put her down to sleep.  No matter her age we were to give her a bottle and feed her in our laps to help promote attachment.  We even had her sleep with us for the first few months.  By doing all of this we were showing her that we were there to meet all of her needs.  She could trust us.

 Now that we have a foster son in the house, we are doing much of the same as we did with Lola.  It isn't to the extreme that we did with her because our family is much bigger now and there are times that I just need the help because providing everything to a demanding toddler and three other children is exhausting!

 It is difficult to tell if he bonded to me yet or not.  I look for the signs.  Does he give me eye contact?  Does he search me out if he needs something or is hurt?  Just to share a few.  Attachment takes much longer then a few weeks so that may come later, but I do worry if he was attached to his biological mom or not and what that all means.

Look.  You learned something new today and your children probably attached without you giving it a thought! :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wake-up Call!

I think that sometimes things get placed in your path to challenge you, enlighten you, fulfill you, or just to remind you that you have it good.

As I peeled back my eyelids on Saturday morning and saw the large, red block letters screaming 5:07am at me, I had a moment. 

Only a few weeks ago if a child woke up at an unhealthy hour of the morning I could tell them to get back in bed, go get themselves a piece of fruit or cereal if they were hungry, or go turn on the television downstairs and then I could roll back in my nice and snugly bed for a few more hours of sleep!  Those days feel light years away! 

I can no longer roll over and ignore the noise.  I have to get up, change a diaper, rock a baby, or perhaps be up for the day!  I have always been an early riser, but this is getting a bit on the ridiculous side! 

Yes, I know I could let him fuss and cry until he puts himself back to sleep, but he shares a room with Tyce and so he would then wake Tyce up and I would have two that were up.  This would lead to more noise which would wake Lola up not far behind and then soon Jackson would be yelling from his bed for everyone to be quiet!  Yelling would now go back and forth between the kids all the while with the baby probably now screaming.  Two of three of them would rush our bedroom looking for an adult to whom they could tattle.  They can all find me when I hide under my covers and they are too old to fall for the "I'm still asleep" routine so it just wouldn't work!

These early morning wake-ups must be a reminder of how good and easy I had it every morning.  I didn't have to get up and attend to every need of the children at the second that they demanded it.  Yes, I did go through all of that when they were younger, but it is amazing how quickly we forget and set our expectations even higher!

I guess this is my wake-up call (get it - hahaha) to remember that I really do have a great life.  (and yes I am measuring my life by my quality of sleep! - you would too if you lived with me and saw what I am like when I don't get enough sleep!!)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake!

Of course with Tyce's birthday we had to have another fantastic cake!

I again contacted Simply Scrumptious Cakes and Bakes and asked if Jen could make us a green dinosaur cake.  Tyce says he doesn't like chocolate so I was forced to ask for a white cake.

Jen had a plan that she said she could show me pictures of if I wanted, but she wanted to surprise us!  I was fine with a surprise!  I have to say that she did not disappoint!  I was even ok with it not being chocolate!

Our dinosaur cake was a fantastic two toned green stegosaurus in 3D!  It was amazing!  Tyce absolutely LOVED it!

Our birthday celebrations are increasingly becoming more and more wild.  It isn't the adults that are the wild ones during these celebrations and it isn't the goodies that cause it, it's the children!  I'm so happy that we are so blessed to have so much family around us!  The cousins look forward to getting together to play and they play hard!!  I love that out of all of the children our kids know they request to see and play with their cousins as much as any other friends!  I think the highlight of the birthdays are now the interaction between the kids!  These fun times may overshadow even the cake and gifts!! (for the kids at least... It's all about the cake for me! ;))

Thursday, November 1, 2012

One of the Changes with a New Child in the House...

Having a toddler has changed a lot of things in our household.  One thing that Ryan noticed quickly was that my attire has now changed. (yes, he does pay attention to these types of details ;))

I can no longer wear necklaces.  After two of them were ripped off of my neck and broken, I gave up trying to keep curious hands and mouths away and now just do without.  I had forgotten about the years I went without any jewelry because I may scratch a child with a ring, get a dangly earring torn out of my ear, or have beads from a necklace end up down a throat!  Right now it just isn't worth accessorizing while I am around Mr. Curiosity aka JJ.

I have always been a big wearer of jeans.  I love jeans and had just gotten two new pairs when the baby arrived.  The other pairs, that I had, either had holes in the knees, stains from yard work or painting, or were getting to the point of wearing out.  Within a week of wearing my new pair of jeans I noticed the knee areas were looking not as new as the rest of the jeans.  As a result, I have gone back to wearing my jeans that were on the verge of holes.  It has only been a week and already I have ripped through the fabric!  I don't know how you can get away with having a toddler and not crawling around on the floor all of the time to play, clean, and chase!

My shirts have stayed the same, but they are spotted with food and who knows what else if I haven't needed to leave the house.  If I do need to go out, you can bet I have changed my shirt just before walking out of the door!

I think I also smell differently.  Besides wearing the baby's food, I am constantly using baby shampoo, baby lotion, and diaper cream.  I'm sure that people can smell that on me.  I know I can smell it on myself!

I tend to try to do too many things at once and throw myself into things completely so that may be why I may end up with yogurt on my ear and not notice and rip holes in my jeans!  I have a hard time keeping myself presentable when it is just me so I can't blame it all on the baby!!  It's all good though!  The little guys is happy so I am happy even if I look like a slob! :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Better Than My Plan! My Baby is Now 5!

What a month this has been! 
Our household has celebrated three birthdays! (not to mention the unexpected arrival of a baby which is why this blog post is so late in being posted!!)

On Sunday we celebrated my miracle baby turning 5 years old!  Not only was he a child that doctors predicted wouldn't be conceived without surgical intervention, but he was one that just by showing up on his particular birthday, October 29th, created a blessing for the family.

I was three weeks early with Jackson so I didn't expect to go over my due date with Tyce, but I did.  This little guy had me doing everything to coax his arrival!  I went for walks every day, lugged a baby Lola on my back pulling carts through the sand, ate spicy food, had pedicures, and did everything people told me to help get things moving.  After three weeks of false labor every night from 3am to 7am I was ready to have this baby!

God always has a bigger plan that I seem to miss until after the fact!  I can now look back and know what that plan was, but sometimes I get so stuck in my own path that I miss the bigger picture! 

You see, the plan was for Tyce to be born on a certain day, October 29.  My Mom even predicted this weeks and maybe months before his birth!  He had to be born on this day because this is the day that my Mom's brother, Hendrik, was also born.  Hendrik was my mom's only sibling and older brother.  Sadly, Henk left this world when he was only 13 years old.  What a devastating loss that had to have been for the entire family!  My mom was here with only her parents as their extended family was still living in the Netherlands, which I am sure made it that much more difficult.

I'm confident that my blue eyed, blond haired, Dutch boy, Tyce Hendrik, was meant to be born on my uncle's birthday.  I can't tell you how it warmed my heart to have my Oma and Opa (grandma and grandpa in Dutch) be the first ones at the hospital to visit their new great-grandson.   To watch the pride they had as they snuggled the new baby close.  I know that all my children hold/held special places in their hearts, but I know that this little guy with his quick smile and dynamic personality is especially dear to them.

I'm so glad that God doesn't always follow my plans as His seem to be much much better!

Tyce and Opa!

Happy Birthday to my baby who is no longer a baby but a happy, healthy, and amazing 5 year old!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Baby Mama

Yesterday I met JJ's mom.

When we adopted Lola I honestly was a bit relieved that I wouldn't have to figure how to incorporate her birth mom in our lives.  We do talk about her birth mom and look at pictures often.  Lola likes to hear stories about when we went to Guatemala to bring her home and in time if she would like to find her birth mom we will do everything possible to make that happen.  However, right now it is nice not to have to figure out how we would include her birth mom in our day to day lives. (even though I'm sure we would be fine finding a balance)

When the teenage boys were here we didn't have to contend with moms either.  They were only a phone call away, but were not a big part in the lives of the boys.

With being a foster parent of a child born here in the states things are much different when it comes to the birth mom.  When we had our training to be licensed to be a foster parent I didn't pay too much attention to the information about visitation with birth parents.  I should have known myself well enough to know that I shouldn't have dismissed information I thought didn't relate to me!  It seems that if something crazy or unexpected could happen I would be a likely target for it!

At any rate, we now will be incorporating JJ's birth mom into our lives.  Really, I will be incorporating his birth mom into his life and my life!  We will either be going to see her three times a week for an hour at a time or two times a week for an hour and half at a time while the rest of the family is in school or at work.  I can not say that I am thrilled to be driving 30 minutes each way to hang out in a waiting room while JJ plays, but on the positive side it will be good for him and I will get a tiny break and a chance to read my book that has been sitting on the table for the last two weeks!

Yesterday, I wasn't sure how to respond or interact.  When JJ runs down the hall who should go chase after him?  It was just a little hard to gage what every one's roles were in that situation.  What makes it even more awkward is that we speak different languages!  I'm not sure yet if that is a good thing or a bad thing!  I'm sure with time we will get used to the situation (that fact alone is really very sad) and find our places.

Anyone have any good tips about this?  Do I share things we do with him?  Give her pictures?  Or just stay quiet and let her ask me things?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Partners in Crime! A Toddler and a Dog..

As I was cleaning up the kitchen after the kids boarded the bus for the day, I looked around and noticed that both the baby and the dog were unaccounted for.

I found the two of them under the dining room table.  Tucker was tearing up a piece of paper with his paws and teeth and JJ was tearing the paper with his little hands.  JJ was giggling like crazy.  They looked like partners in crime.  I swear Tucker appeared to have a sneaky look on his face!  Throughout the morning the two of them have gotten into everything as a pair.  I finally put the dog in his cage and broke up their crime ring!

That got me to thinking that although toddlers and teenagers are similar so are toddlers and dogs!  No wonder they get along so well!

  • They put everything in their mouths!
  • They will eat food off the floor.
  • They like to rip up and destroy things.
  • The things they aren't supposed to have are the things they go after time and time again.
  • They don't clean up their own messes.
  • Sometimes they need to be put in a secure area. (crate/cage for dog and a crib/pack and play for toddler)
  • You have to clean up their poop.
  • They like to get dirty and don't want to sit still to get cleaned up.
  • They communicate mostly with whines and howls.
  • They are easily distracted and wander off if they see something they like.
  • In crowded areas a leash is useful to keep track of them.  (Yes, I am one of those parents!  If necessary I will not hesitate to strap on a harness with a leash on my toddler!  You try flying alone with a toddler!  Fold a stroller, take off your shoes, sweatshirt, belt, and put the diaper bag and purse and toys on the belt to go through security while keeping track of a little one!!  It is impossible!)
  • I redirect them and say no more times during the day then I say anything else!
  • If they are out of sight and quiet, there is trouble!

The good news about toddlers is that they grow up and will begin to understand they they shouldn't eat a plastic bag full of candy, wrappers, bag and all!  The dog will continue to roll in gross things and eat disgusting non-food items and you will continue to have to clean up their poop!!  Lovely!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Toddler vs. Teenager

Now that most of our friends and family know we have a toddler in the house, a recurring comment has been about how different it is then having a teenager and probably a lot easier.

At first I was like, Hello?  Have you seen me chase this kid all over the house all day long every day?  Do you realize I have no time alone at all?   But then I was like, Wait?  He doesn't talk back or roll his eyes at me!  Or challenge my authority!  Which is easier???  That's a tough one!  I haven't had too much time to think about it so I thought I would take a minute to ponder...

  • Bedtimes can be a struggle for both.  One doesn't obey the rules, but is quiet about it and proceeds to do things that are also against the rules of the house like talk on the phone at 3am.  The other fusses or cries loudly, but is confined and falls asleep without getting into more trouble. 
  • They both can be picky eaters, but I have only seen one throw food on the floor when it isn't what they want. 
  • They both eat non-stop! 
  • And they both whine about eating until they are given some food!  Although one of them can get the food on their own. 
  • Neither one of them are very good at cleaning up after they eat however.
  • One of them can be given freedom in public to walk around on their own without too much worry. (but refer to the time I lost a 16 year old as that is not always true)  The other has to have an adult as a shadow everywhere they go!
  • They both leave a messy trail around the house.
  • Half of what they say is completely incoherent. (more so if they don't speak the language you speak)
  • You wonder ALL THE TIME just what is going on inside their heads.
  • They both go through more changes of clothing per day than you thought was possible.  My laundry has increased big time!!
  • They  both want to do everything themselves, except for when they want you to do it.
  • They both have tantrums that are at times so irrational you will laugh.
  • They both push for independence and will push boundaries.  JJ goes to the bottom of the stairs a million times a day and puts a hand on the bottom step with a grin until I say no!  Remember the instance with the earrings with the teenagers??
  • When caught doing something they should not, they will lie right to your face even though they know you saw them do it.
  • Things that are good for toddlers or teenagers, things that will help them grow or learn or are otherwise beneficial are useless unless they are fun or off limits.
  • Teenagers are usually a lot smarter than toddlers. In fact, they are often smarter than their parents - or so they will tell you!
  • They both take a lot of time.  Teenagers need transportation everywhere and help with homework and toddlers need an eye on them at every second! (especially when they of the busy variety and like to explore!)
I think the biggest difference in having a toddler as opposed to a teenager is that a toddler is much smaller.  If JJ misbehaves or throws a fit, I can simply pick him up and remove him from the situation.  I couldn't do that with a teenager nor would I dare to even try!!  I can physically make JJ go with us to family things or outings and if he protests I can give him a snack and all is good!

In the end, I would say that raising children in general is difficult!  The challenges are always there, but just presented in a different package with a little bit of a different twist!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Now Back to Having a Room without a Baby in it!!

The sweet baby snuggles, the cute little babbles, the shy smiles, the running into your arms just because, the squeals of glee as water splashes by flapping hands, and the smell of baby shampoo are all things I have missed now that the kids are older and out of that stage.  It is enduring and sweet and I love giving this little guy, who I will call JJ (which is not his name), as much as I can give, BUT it is a ton of work!

Oh my, JJ is on the go.  He is way busier then my other three were, or at least from what I remember!  I know that Tyce used to dig out dirt from the plants, but he also would sit on my lap for at least 10 seconds.  This little one will only sit still if he is eating or very tired!  And to think that yesterday I got a call asking us to take another boy only a month younger then JJ!  (Thankfully, I have a fantastic friend that is also a foster parent that I called and told about the situation who is taking him!)  This is very very rare as you rarely see children this young as refugees in a foster care situation!

Today, a case worker came over.  She brought his clothes, crib,  a high chair, and notes about his routine!  I never imagined that I would spend my Friday night putting together baby items, but I am happy to have my room without a baby in it! (he had been staying in the pack n play in our room)  If you had told me a week ago that I would have a baby in the house I would have told you you were crazy!!

Wow!  Am I ready to have a baby in the house again?  My freedom is now a thing of the past!  Sometimes I stop and think about this commitment and begin to almost panic until I think of that sweet sweet boy!  I feel selfish when I yearn for what my life was like only a week ago!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How Could I Have Forgotten All Things Toddler???

I had forgotten how time consuming toddlers can be!  This little guy is all over the place!  I take it as a good sign that he is adjusting well that he has opened every drawer and cupboard, climbed in the dog cage, tried to climb the stairs 100 times, played in the dog's water, found all of the curtains to be fun hiding places, checked out all of the books and magazines he can reach, and sat in the toy bin instead of playing with the toys!  All typical toddler behavior...

I wanted to bring in the hoses today and put them away for the winter, but then I realized that a simple small task like that would either require me to bundle him up and bring him with me in a stroller so he would be confined to one spot (which I have already discovered he does NOT like), wait for nap time (which is also a no no at this time), or wait until another adult was around to watch him!  With my kids being older I have taken for granted already all of the actual freedom I had!

It's ok though!  The hoses can wait!  I am happy to hear the silly babble behind me in the car and watch the little guy put toys in and out of the cupboards!  He has an easy smile that takes over his entire face and a laid back attitude as long as he can be on the go!

What can't wait is baby proofing this house!  I had totally forgotten how much those little hands can get into and how even if those legs are little, they are fast!

We still don't know how long he will be here, but given the fact that they are moving his crib and high chair here I expect I should at least plan on getting him a Halloween costume!  Now the next big question is where to put that crib since all three of the kids are arguing over having him in their room!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One Call...

I hate it when an unknown number calls and they don't leave a message.  I am much too curious to be able to handle not knowing who is trying to get in touch with me especially when they call multiple times in a short time frame late at night!

While I was at a Girl Scout Training - yes, I have become a Girl Scout for the first time at the age of 37 - but more about that later...  While I was at training, I had my phone on vibrate so I knew that calls were coming in over and over again from an unfamiliar number.  They didn't leave a message and it was driving me crazy because I couldn't answer the call during the meeting!

When the meeting was finally finished the number popped up again, but this time I was able to answer the call.  It's amazing how things can change that quickly for a person.  You can answer a phone call and things can get all topsy-turvy!  Thankfully, the call was not a distressing one about family or friends.  It was a call to ask if we would take a baby immediately!

Of course I had to call Ry and ask what he thought, but how could we say no?  At 9:00 at night a little innocent child wasn't safe and needed a safe place to stay!  My night took an unexpected turn and by 11pm I was pulling into the drive-way with a 19 month old in the back seat!

Many times foster parents get these types of calls.  Being in the Refugee Foster Care program we have always had time to prepare for an arrival of a child, but most times children are removed from a home without warning so that they can be safe.  It is truly heart wrenching to think of how many times this happens in one given day just in our county! 

So, our little house guest slept better then I did last night!  I have no information about how long he will stay or what brought him here!  We just have to trust that we will get some answers soon and if we don't, at least we know that he is safe and happy and he has brought a new infatuation with baby toys for the rest of the kids into the house!!

Cakes and Pies! Cakes and Pies!!

I have a huge sweet tooth!  I have actually declared dessert before dinner only because I wanted something sweet!   When we go to conferences there are times I will visit the dessert table before the others to be sure I am not too full to partake in the treats!  I also am guilty of hiding sweets in the house from everyone so I can indulge once in awhile.  (because all of that sugar is definitely not good for the children!)

So I know my sweets!

Lola just had her 6th birthday and each year I let the kids pick out what kind of birthday cake they would like to have.  It used to be that my brother in law would make all of the cakes for the kids and he even made my wedding cake.  I have to be completely honest and say that I almost cried when he told me he didn't have time to make cakes any more.  Nothing compares to his cakes!  Some of those store bought cakes have frosting that is hard and just much too sweet.  If you try to eat all of the frosting on your piece you begin to bounce off the walls and your gut starts to rot!  Not Jim's!  I sometimes suspected that relatives came to the birthday parties just for his cake!  The cake was moist and made your mouth water.  The frosting was fluffy, melted in your mouth, and had just the right amount of sweetness that you could indulge in eating all of it!  My mouth is watering right now thinking of it!  Oh how I miss that cake!!

Being that Jim no longer makes cakes I have to find alternatives.  For Tyce we had dirt cake on his last birthday and Jackson had an ice cream cake.  I couldn't quite bring myself to start buying the typical store bought stuff and there is no way I could follow Jim's cakes by making my own!

This year, Lola wanted a cake with Tucker, our dog, on it.  I went to Meijer Bakery to see what they could do.  Let's just say I wasn't impressed with all of the hoops I would have to jump through and the people behind the counter who were making the cakes.

I did a search online and found Simply Scrumptious Cakes and Bakes which happens to be close to us.  I checked out her site and decided to take a chance and have her make us a cake for Lola.

I put in my order about 3 days before I wanted the cake.  We arranged a time to pick it up and Lola loved it!  Jennifer used fondant to decorate Lola's Tucker cake.  Fondant is the stuff you see on shows like Cake Boss where they make elaborate cakes!  You can form fondant into shapes and color it and eat it too!  Fondant isn't as tasty as frosting, but it wasn't bad.  It had a nice marshmallow taste to it.  Anyways, the cake was adorable!  There was a face on it formed out of fondant that looked like Tucker.

The real test was how would it taste!  She had made it a double layer cake.  The cake itself was chocolate with white frosting under the fondant.  It even had frosting in the middle.  It was moist and very tasty!  Everyone enjoyed it completely!  In fact, we only had about 2 pieces left when all the guests headed home!

I highly recommend Simply Scrumptious Cakes and Bakes!  Jennifer did an excellent job!  I still miss Jim's cakes, but Jennifer's are fantastic!  We will definitely be ordering from her again!

You can take a look at her facebook page here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Taking up Golf....

This past summer I thought I would join "high society" and take up golf.

I bought clubs on craigslist, got hand-me-down outfits from my mom, and signed up for lessons at the club down the street!  I was ready to go!!

I would just like to say that I think golf is one of the most frustrating sports of all time!  I had times where I had more patches of mud on my legs from hitting the ground then balls I had actually hit! (and it was a dry dry summer!)  No wonder one of the most important aspects of the sport (or so I have been told by more then one person) is drinking alcohol!  How would it be fun otherwise!

It wasn't all frustration however, I did have some fun golfing with girl friends and my mom.  I prefer to play where we take the best ball or where I get to take "do-overs"!  Those are proper ways to play right?

I think my biggest problem was the lessons.  I know absolutely NOTHING about golf!  I knew what a tee was, a club, and that all the ladies wore cute outfits.  That was the extent of it.  If you are clueless about something don't take group lessons!  The terminology was way over my head and I didn't want to be the stupid one there.  When things like birdie and eagle were mentioned I looked around, snickered, and wondered why a grown man would say "birdie"!  They also had two different instructors that showed up on different nights.  One pro would tell me to hold the club and swing one way and the next week the other pro would tell me to do it a different way!  If I had any knowledge of golf and had played a little bit, I may have been able to take their suggestions and use them to my advantage, but as it was I would have to start all over again each week.  I had no base-line so what did I know? 

I used the heat as an excuse because my frustrations got the best of me during lessons.  I ended up at the pool with the kids instead.  I've tossed around the idea of taking lessons again, this time privately with one instructor, but we'll see.  For right now I like the golf game we play at my parent's house.  We hit the golf ball into an inter tube in the lake!  I don't need to know which club to use at which distance, or wear a cute outfit, and I don't get mud all over my legs.  If it is hot I can just jump in the lake and if I get tired of trying to hit the little ball I can just do as my kids do and throw it in!
My Mom giving the kids instructions on golf



Monday, October 15, 2012

The State of Dogs

I guess I am on a roll about dogs here lately!  Being a dog owner myself, one of the things I am appreciated more and more in California is how dog friendly of a state they are!

I do not agree with this, however....
Restaurants have open deck areas where dogs are allowed, many hotels allow dogs, and there are a ton of beaches that allow them as well.  I know that not everyone likes dogs and some people don’t train them all that well, but don’t you think that if I could bring my dog everywhere with me I would be more apt to train him and have more opportunities to do so?

It’s just a thought.  I like my little guy and would love to have him hang out with me all day and I know that if he did he would be a better dog for it and I may be a calmer person as well! J