Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm sitting here in front of the fire feeling so blessed that I highly doubt I could even put it into words. One year ago today a tiny, pale, frail baby boy moved in with me. (See last year for more info on that) I loved that little baby so much and enjoyed every midnight feeding and diaper change but I alwayss felt like I wasn't supposed to be his "forever" mom. I was meant to love him, care for him and protect him. I loved every minute of the four months he was with me. Last Saturday, he was legally adopted by a wonderful woman who knew from the very first moment she saw him that he was HER baby. Her family has welcomed him with open arms and they have all been so gracious about keeping me informed about how well he is doing. The boys and I were able to be at the court house the day of his adoption and it was wonderful to see such a happy family.

My boys have brought more joy to my life than I ever knew existed. I'm tired, I'm busy but I am also content, happy and fulfilled. I am amazed each and every day by the strength, intelligence and love these two boys show. They have been hurt but they are resilient. They have a future that God has planned and I am so excited to see what wonderful things He has for them.

A friend of mine told me that instead of thinking about Thanksgiving as a once a year holiday we should see it as an attitude to hold every day. We need to think about who we can thank and how we can give. I love that. Over the last month, I was challenged to do an "I am thankful for..." post every day on Facebook and I'm actually disappointed that it is ending. I've really enjoyed focusing on the positive in each day. I'm going to try to make a different kind of New Year's Resolution this year...I usually do one focused on myself...I think I'll try to figure out some new way to give back to the community each month. It's the least I can do after all I've been given. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two little boys calling me "Mom"

In the last seven months, I have been blessed without measure. I have gone from foster parent to mommy. We've weathered colds, skinned knees, bruised feelings and trashed bedrooms. I've learned that it is financially much more feasible to buy plain old bandaids than the cool Handy Manny ones. The dogs have gone from running for their lives to sleeping next to the boys' beds at night. I've become adept at getting two rambuctious boys into bed and cozy by bedtime and I've figured out the trick about naptime. We've manuevered the preschool enrollment process and experimented with Bento Box lunches. I feel like I've learned so much over the last few months and somehow with every passing day another question pops up. My family and friends have been absolutely incredible and have embraced our new little family with stronger arms and more kindness than I ever imagined. My parents have jumped wholeheartedly into the world of grandparenting and the boys can't wait to see "Nani and Owie" again. I got the call this week that I will be signing "Intent to Adopt" paperwork on Friday. Over all of those years that God kept telling me to "Wait"...Wait...and wait somemore...I never could have imagined how magnificent his plan would be.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Poppers!

I wrote this for my Dad a couple years ago, but today seemed like a perfect day to post it and remind him just how special he is...

Top 10 things I learned from my Dad....

1. Giving is always better than getting. My whole life, I remember hearing the joy in your voice and seeing the sparkle in your eye whenever you thought of a great gift idea for someone. Spending time shopping with you and watching the generosity you display toward needy people has always inspired me to want to give to others the way that you do.

2. If it’s Irish, It’s Good! I appreciate being taught about my Irish heritage. So many people just see themselves as “caucasian” but you always taught me that I have a rich Irish lineage with a great deal of culture and history. Even if the food does taste blah!
3. The Louder the Music the Better! I have so many memories of riding in the car with Carmen blasting on the radio and you clapping, singing and banging on the steering wheel. You enjoy music so much that it encourages me to spend time enjoying it too.
4. Go the Extra Mile to Make something Special. This lesson really illustrates who you are. So many times, I have noticed that you take the time to really add special little touches to things. From your amazing breakfasts in the morning to your beautiful garden pinwheels to a surprise flower delivery on St. Patrick’s Day half way across the country.
5. Have Fun! Wow, I thought the last one was the one that really described you but this one might have to beat it! I have so many incredibly memories that it’s hard to pick just a few. You are always the one to come up with some crazy, last minute idea that makes a day. Sometimes when I tell stories to people about my childhood, they just stare at me in awe. You and Mom always included Matt and me in the things you did and I appreciate that so much. I don’t know if you know how rare that is. When you would encourage us to check the “candy tree” outside and delight in our excitement to frosting covered brownies made into Halloween pumpkins and taking all of my friends in the back of the truck trick or treating all over town to river rafting to Leavenworth at Christmas time, I can’t think of any fun activity you didn’t spearhead.
6. Treat others Well Your kindness and generosity are evident in everything you do. Your friends and your family benefit so much from your sweet thoughtfulness. I learned to surprise the people around me with kindness when I see you bring in a beautiful flower for me or Mom when you come in from working in the yard or when you bring home an unexpected latte.
7. Enjoy Nature and Appreciate Beauty You were always the one to rush inside and encourage me to come outside and see an amazing sunset or smell the fresh aroma of the rain in a flowerbed. I have always been touched by your connection to nature and your devotion to our land. I often think about the story of the tree that had to be cut to build our house but that stands in the same place in our home and every time I am so blessed by your unique gentle loving spirit.
8. Work Hard at Something that Matters You and Mom have worked so hard to create a safe, loving, warm environment for your family. I am so thankful for both of you and I know it hasn’t been easy. You put your all into things and I learned that you can make a difference in the world if you just keep trying. A couple of years ago, you called me in tears to tell me that a man in your cursillo group had just adopted a child from China. (My eyes are tearing up as I write this) You said, “I am just so proud that you help people feel the way he was feeling today.” I don’t know if I ever told you how much that meant to me, but it was amazing. I want so much for you to be proud of me and I am so thankful that you were able to share that with me.
9. Love animals So many parents don’t let their kids have pets. That was never an issue we had. I don’t remember a time that I ever wanted any kind of animal and you and Mom said “No”. We had dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, peacocks, horses, cows, rabbits, fish, turtles and we probably could add a few species to that list. You have always had such a tenderness for animals that we learned to value and care for them as well. What a richness they add to life.
10. Love God and Serve His Humanity I still remember the day you came home from Cursillo and told us that you had met your best friend and his name is Jesus. That has always touched me and helped me to remember that God is the one that I can always lean on. You have such a servant’s heart and I am blessed and honored to have been able to learn from your willingness to serve others at home, at work or in church.

Dad, Thank you for being the amazing father you are to me. I recently read a book that said that your impression of God is based on your experience with your father. What a powerful message. I thank God for giving me you every day and I am so grateful that he chose to bless me with a Dad that taught me that God is loving, kind, amazingly thoughtful and full of surprises.

I love you, Dad, and I hope you have a wonderful time this weekend.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum

It is amazing to me to see these two amazing little boys pick up my habits and mannerisms. Terrifying and incredible all at once. I watched tonight as M picked all of the toppings off of his pizza and ate them first and then was so impressed as J strolled around the backyard checking on the plants and called several by name. They are so wonderful, I don't even have words to describe it. They challenge me to the full extent of my ability and potential and I am loving every single second. I am so incredibly thankful for my job right now. I am able to focus on things that will make me a better social worker and a better parent. All of the things I'm interested in are wrapped up in both my career and my personal life. It's so great! I'm going to a second training tomorrow on the "Nurtured Heart Approach" to parenting. I went to the first one the night before the boys moved in and I'm so excited to get a refresher. I'm not the type of person who picks one style of anything but I've really been able to incorporate alot from this philosophy. The main focus is helping kids to build their sense that they can succeed. The founder of the approach uses the example of how trainers trained the amazing Shamu to jump out of the water-----training Shamu to jump over a rope suspended above the water was relatively easy -- once they found the right approach: Make it easy for the Shamu to succeed
In the beginning, reward success, no matter how small. To make it easy for Shamu to succeed, instead of putting the rope above the water and trying to persuade the Shamu whale to jump over it, the trainers started by laying the rope on the bottom of the tank.
Then they watched Shamu very carefully. When they saw Shamu cross over the line (or even get near it in the beginning), they gave him a reward. Rather quickly, Shamu learned that if he swam over the rope, he would often received a reward. Then they raised the rope off the bottom of the tank, rewarding Shamu only when he swam over it . Eventually, they raised the rope above of the water. By that point, Shamu "knew" he would often receive a reward when he had to cross over the line, so quite naturally he began jumping over the rope. Simple, right? It makes a huge difference with kids when you put all your focus on praising and rewarding their successes and allowing natural consequences to deal with their challenges. I use a lot of attachment parenting tools as well; we practice a lot of eye contact and I use "the thinking spot" or "taking a seat" which is basically a quick timeout right next to me. It does nobody any good to use a separation to discipline kids who are traumatized by too many separations. Love and Logic has also had a huge impact on the way I interact with the kids. It also leads to some of the funniest moments... In the midst of a tantrum, J (2) said to me, "No, you're the bummer!", M was trying to get me to give him chocolate milk and when I said "No", his response was "I love you to much to argue".

I think my favorite thing that has happened over the last month is watching the development of empathy in both boys. I easedropped yesterday as they were outside playing near their little swimming pool and they were upset to see the bugs that had landed in the water. Both boys were gently picking up each bug and transferring it carefully to a nearby sunflower leaf. It was amazing to hear them use the words they have heard me say to cheer on the little bugs who were struggling..."You be ok. I know this is hawd" and Good Job! You awe weally twying".
The second most exciting thing is that they are telling on themselves! When a cup of milk spills, I now get an "oops, I spilled the milk" instead of blank stares and blatent refusals to take responsibility. Soooo sooo amazing to watch.

I found this poem and I'm going to print it out and put it on my fridge. Whether this is for another month or forever, I don't want to look back later and think...

If I had my child to raise all over again,I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.I would do less correcting and more connecting.I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.I'd do more hugging and less tugging.-- Diane Loomans, from "If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Living, Loving, Laughing

It's been awhile since I've had a chance to sit down and blog. Obviously. Anyway, the boys have now been here 2 1/2 months. They have settled in and so have I. I am tired but rejuvenated. I am extraordinarily busy but calmer than I have felt in years. I have been able to realize through these wonderful boys that each day is one I need to treasure. It may be just an average day but it is one that I will never have again. These kiddos will never be 2 and 3 on May 6th again and I will never by 35 on this day again (Thank you Charlie Appelstein). For the last several years, I've felt stuck. Nothing ever changed. Same job, same house and pets, same great friends and family. Things were good but lacking in something I could never put my finger on. With the addition of these wild children, my life has gained passion. I am loving rolling down hills at the park, flying kites, searching the sky for colorful hot air balloons, singing songs and having tickle fights. The boys have developed a huge interest in watching our seeds sprout in the garden and enthusiastically help me water every night.My job is suddenly much more exciting, my house is loud and full of life and my relationships have all taken on new meaning. I am looking forward to each new day with gratitude in a way that I had almost forgotten. Often people will say to me "you have your hands full!" and I just want to reply, "full of blessings".

Tonight's Highlights:
**The boys picked the first beautiful peach geranium stem (AAAHHHH!) and brought it to me to wear in my hair (ahhhhhh...)

**I have a small scar on my leg and it must have worried M because he went and got a band-aid and gently put it over the scar. I said "oh thank you! I bet you are gonna be a doctor when you grow up". "YEAH!" said M. Then he starts gagging. Horrified, I said, "What's wrong?" "You said I could be a doctor when I throw up" said M.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2 boys

If someone would have told me a month ago that I would be parenting two toddlers, I would have told them they were nuts-completely certifiable... And yet, here I am. Waking up to the sweet patter of little feet and sleepy voices asking if it is time to watch Thomas (the Tank Engine) and coming home from work to hugs and squeals and water fights in my backyard. It is amazing to me to see how well things are really shaping up. I don’t know how long these boys will be here but I am enjoying every single minute of it. Foster care has been so amazing. I think this is what I was born to do. There is no better feeling than to know that I am providing a safe, warm, comfortable, fun place to be for a little one (or two) who has been scared and hurt. One of the things I’ve become passionate about is getting the boys outside. Helping them learn to watch things grow and start to wonder about the beautiful things they see. It brings such a smile to my face when we are in the car and they get so excited about the hot air balloons in the morning and the moon coming up at night. We planted potatoes this week and they loved digging in the dirt and playing with the water. They are adventurous and active. They are sweet and polite. They burp and excuse themselves. They love shooting hoops and climbing ladders. They are completely obsessed with bananas, baby carrots and green beans. They seem to be relaxing more and more each day but still frequently ask “I wake up, I see you?”.

When I think of what these sweet boys have been through, I can’t help but wonder why. Why are some kids born into situations that are harmful and hurtful and desperate while others begin life in a world filled with joy and nurturing and positivity? My faith tells me that regardless of the circumstance, God can use it to create wonders but I can’t help but question the whys. I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing family and a group of friends who are as close as family. I am so thankful for the support, encouragement, babysitting and offers of assistance. I cannot thank you all enough and I feel such immense gratitude for all of the blessings God has given me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

I read this statement today. I think this is where joy starts.

"Christians today like to play it safe. We want to put ourselves in situations where we are safe 'even if there is no God.' But if we truly desire to please God, we cannot live that way. We have to do things that cost us during our life on Earth but will be more than worth it in eternity.""

2 boys 2 and 3 years old...

So, two new little guys moved in with me today. They are two and three year olds who have been removed from their parents due to their inability to keep them safe. I got a call about them yesterday afternoon so I spent the early morning doing some kiddo grocery shopping. I don't believe coincidentally, I had already planned to take today off. Luckily, I found some spiderman comforters on sale and a couple matching trucks (anything to avoid the "I want that struggles :) )They pulled up in a white van about 10am and I peeked out the front window as they walked up to the house. I could see their tense little expressions but the older one reached out and took the younger boy's hand as they came toward the door. As I looked at their faces, I was struck by the resemblence to a girl I knew many years ago. After a few phone calls, it turns out that I knew their biological mom when she was a teenager. We actually spent quite a bit of time together and she was one of my favorite teens in a community group I led. They are adorable. Such good boys. Wild, active, jumping, into everything boys but also please and thank you, covering their mouths when they cough, counting, chatterbox, smart boys. We went over to Erika's house and the boys played with Jayden for a couple hours. They had a great time and I thought for sure they would crash out for a nap but no such luck. I'd probably have a hard time sleeping too in a completely new environment without anything familiar. I'm so glad they have each other. Erika sent us home with several great toys from Jaydo's playroom. We came home and my wonderful neighbor, Lyn, dropped by with a brand new sandbox with a lid, sand, sandbox toys, a road rug and 15 matchbox cars! She'd already dropped off a Thomas the Tank Engine train set and a car seat this morning. The boys absolutely loved the sandbox and cars when they got up from pretending to nap. They've spent the evening chasing the cat, taking a bath to get the beach worth of sand out of their hair and learning to pet the dog "gently". They ate a whole thing of macaroni and cheese and then were looking at the pictures on my refrigerator and kept saying "Yook, Jayden!" They were so excited to recognize someone. After their bath, I got them dressed in their new matching Mickey Mouse pajamas and they were so excited. The two year old said, "My Mickey pants? Tank you" and jumped up and down. I about cried. Tomorrow, I'm going to a pediatric appointment with Baby K and his new momma to introduce her to the nurses and doctor. I'm so glad she is open to including me in his life. He is such a special little guy and will hold a piece of my heart forever. My friend, Deb, volunteered to watch the boys while I go to the appointment. I'm sure they will have a blast playing with Levi! They start daycare on Monday but I'm so glad to be able to keep them close for the first couple days. Please pray for wisdom, patience and energy! I think I'm going to need an extra helping of all three!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Baby K is in his new home

I knew this would be difficult and people keep asking me if I really want him to go to the new family. I don't. I wish things were different. But they aren't. And that is okay. It isn't easy but it is okay. In my heart, I know this is right. I often tell my clients, "just because something is hard, doesn't mean it's the wrong decision". I believe that sometimes the best choices are the most difficult.

I recently read something by Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust. Ten Boom said that when she was a child she asked her father how she would ever do what God had for her to do. Her father's response was, “When you go to travel, when do I give you the train tickets or the money for it, three weeks before?” She said “No daddy, the day that I go to travel.” And her father said “That is what God does. You don’t need to be...have the power to be... But the moment that you have to the Lord will give you everything.”

I am smiling through my tears because I know that this child was with me for this time for a reason. I was able to love him, feed him and cuddle him at a time that he needed someone. He taught me that I do have the patience, endurance and love to be a mom. He also taught me that there is so much more important than career success. I will forever value my relationships with my family and friends to a greater extent because of what this child has taught me.

There was a time that I struggled with worry about the life he will have if he isn't with me. I am so thankful that because of my faith, I can know that God has a plan for him that is better than anything I can ever imagine. I'm not saying that I don't wonder or even start to fret but the bottom line is that God knew him before I did and made him resilient enough to rebound from his difficult start in life. He alone helped him route the small amount of nutrition he was getting into the places it had to go for him to be able to overcome. He is in control and I'm not. I am so thankful for that.

The Bible says, "We hath not a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind. And the Holy Spirit is there always, to do the job, to make us ready." I know that on my own, I can't do this. Thankfully, I don't have to.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A tidbit of news

The little one is so incredible. He is now rolling over, giggling at my horrible singing voice and has the cutest cheeks you've ever seen. His social worker said today that they have located a family for him. She didn't tell me anything else but said she'd call me in the morning to fill me in. Surprisingly, I didn't immediately have a pit in my stomach or a pang of jealousy. A low grade sadness that what we've shared in the last two months is coming to an end. But what I do feel is a joy that is unspeakable that the tiny, scared, bony baby that I brought home 2 months ago will soon be joining a family as a healthy, chubby, laughing little boy. I know I will probably be a mess when the day finally comes but I am so very glad I have the opportunity. A very wise foster/adoptive mom once said that at times like this, she likes to think of the quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, In Memoriam: 27, 1850:

I hold it true,
whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009!

2008 wasn't a bad year---not the best but definately not the worst. I am filled with gratitude, peace and hope as I look forward to the coming year. It's amazing to me that no matter what happens, good or bad, when paired with time, God's hand is so evident in everything. I don't beleive that God plans or causes bad things to happen to us but I have been blessed to witness His amazing ability to mold the outcome into blessings. Because of that, I can exhuberently look for His miracles this year.
My resolutions are to exercise more, spend more time in God's word and try to be more organized. If I'm not mistaken, they are pretty similar to last year's. Oh well... I'm a magnificent mess. I'm okay with that. I do want to really focus on simplifying my life. I don't mean making things easier necessarily, I mean figuring out priorities and doing what is really important. I'm hoping to be more able to let go of the things that either don't matter in the grand scheme of things or that I truly can't change anyway.

Sorry if this post is disjointed, every few minutes I have to get up and put the baby's binky back in his mouth. It's interesting. He's so very tired but relies heavily on the small green rubber pacifier to give him a sense of calm and ease about falling asleep. He doesn't really need it, he often falls asleep without it but at night when he's really tired, if the binky falls out of his mouth, his eyes pop right open. He falls asleep just enough to relax a bit and loses the binky and his hold on sleep simultaneously. I can't help but think about what I rely on that is a false sense of security. What is my pacifier and what kind of true calm is it keeping from me?

Anyway, enough deep thoughts...

Christmas was wonderful. We played in the snow, relaxed in front of the fire and relished time with wonderful friends. I've got tons of great pictures of the Little One but can't post them due to confidentiality. Just know, he's doing so well! He's now 10lbs 6oz and smiling up a storm. He rolled over today for the first time while playing with his baby gym! It's been beautiful the last few days and we went to the park with Erika, Jayden, Tammy, Ro and Maya. What fun!