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! :)