Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thriving in Stress

As a foster parent I think we get used to thriving in stress. The ambush of a new placement, rushing to get clothes, furniture, formula/food, doctors appointments all at a moments notice.

Today is such a day.

My mom had a quadruple bypass this past week and is being discharged today. She'll be coming to live with us permanently this evening. I'm a little scared at the idea of having to care for and please one more person. Even though it's my mom....actually probably because it's my mom....babies have no standards they expect in their care. Moms do. LOL

Some friends who have been expecting their first foster placement for months now got the call today. Tomorrow I'll be watching a little one with a broken leg. Makes my heart break.

My hands are full, but at least we've learned to thrive when under stress.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still Here

We're still here and doing a bit better. Everything is swooshing past me as we enter the holiday season. I'm still busy gardening and hoping to get one more visit in to the farmer's market before it vanishes for the season.

Nothing is moving forward in Choo Choo's case.....just waiting for February to come. The girls are enjoying school and Lili is even trying her best at potty training.

I've added more blogs to my daily read....my interest veer off from foster parenting now that we are near the end of the road in our journey though....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kids these days

I haven't written much about the kids here lately because I don't know what to say without sounding like I'm whining just as much as my kids.

The kids are all having some rough times and we are just stretched thin. If it were just one of them I think we might be able to cope better. But they all are having some issues.

We're going to start seeing some professionals for them soon and hopefully we'll feel a little more refreshed soon too.

I have no energy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gardening

Even though summer has waned I'm still busy trying to squeeze in a few more things....winter onions, more peas and spinach and lettuce.

I'm obsessively seed saving too. I bought some beautiful striped eggplant from the farmers market last week just for the seeds. Fall is always what gets me in trouble.

The planning of next years garden is always so exciting. I'll be cursing myself next year when spring opens up and I have way too many projects planned.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wishing


Wishing I was back at the beach today.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Too Long

I feel like summer slipped away and fall was here before I even realized it. Charlie and I haven't been able to go on bike rides and play dates like I thought we would once the girls were in school.

My mornings fill up quickly with cooking, laundry, dishes, driving to school.... I look up and it's nap time. Time to get really get things done without a little one underfoot. My goodness time flies.


The days are long but the years are short.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Travel

We travel a lot. It's a major part of our family's goals. Being from a small town I didn't see much of the world and therefore didn't get to know much beyond the culture of the midwestern US. Heck I'm just now realizing most of my values and cultural views have to do with my midwestern roots.

I want my kids to know and understand the many different people that live on this earth. So seeing the world beyond their home is important to me. We have larger (abroad) trips planned for as the kids get older. But for now we'll continue to see the US and check out the different regions while the kiddos are young. Our fall trip will be to explore different cohousing communities in the Pacific Northwest.

Next week we head south to Florida. Not really for the culture but more for the marine life. Dolphins, crabs, jellyfish - Choo Choo is already sooooo excited. He loves fish, our trip to the New England aquarium totally enraptured him. He has been pouring over the fish board book I got for him from the library for this trip....so much so that I can't find it. If you were 1 1/2 where would you hide your treasured fish book?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sickies


It's the second week of school. The germs we avoided this summer have been brought home to roost. Just when I thought I couldn't blow my nose one more time....it moved to my chest. Lili is at the doctor today, I think hers settled into a sinus infection.

DP & Josie who both sleep like rocks have yet to catch it. Sleep must equal a stronger immune system. I must try that sometime.

Besides bringing us all a case of the sickies, school has been amazing. I was so worried after enrollment day but not anymore. Both teachers are just wonderful. Lili's teacher has even assigned her a one-on-one aid that will help her navigate hallways and stairs and help her eat in the lunchroom with the other kiddos. This is something that we were bracing for a fight for. In an overcrowded district without funds we never thought it would be this easy to get her help. Luckily she has a truly amazing teacher who sees her needs, fills them and then lets us know. Wow. Just like how it's supposed to work. Who woulda thought.

Having a full day of school has done wonders for Jo's outbursts. Her energy has been used up during the day so she comes home truly calm and enjoyable. She actually plays quietly and imaginatively by herself in the evenings when I'm cooking and getting things ready for the next day. No more pinball of pent up energy. My nerves are starting to unfrazzle. I see the need for organized sports in her future.


Choo Choo has been eating up all the mama attention. He's made a break through in speech since he's been home by himself. At 19 months he's finally figuring out that sounds get him things and he went Helen Keller style though the house labeling everything he could with his limited vocabulary of "buh, puh, tuh, kih, dah, & mah"
He's had speech, occupational & physical therapy since he was born. I would hate to imagine where he would be at this point without such intense early intervention. He's really doing well right now and becoming such a big boy.

Choo Choo's case through DFS has been delayed (no suprise there right?) though. Even though the TPR trial was ordered in February it isn't scheduled until January of 2009 now. Why do you ask? Because his SW is on medical leave and the DFS attorney is going on maternity leave so we won't do anything on his case until they are both back at the same time. which will be oh....6 months. We thought we might have a fall adoption....HA!

Everything happens for a reason right?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gardening 2008

Gardening is something that gives me a great amount of peace and sense of accomplishment. This time last year we were wallowing in a bumper crop of peppers, tomatoes, squash and zucchini.

Not so this year. After our 3 week vacation I came back to a pretty stressed out garden. Most was turning brown and dying even though I had paid a neighborhood handyman to water everything for me.

I've picked one tomato, one pepper and handful of peas, lettuce & berries. I'm gearing up again though and planting more lettuce, peas & carrots, some spinach & bunching onions. I placed a small order from Seeds of Change, my first. I've read about them over the past year as I follow the trials and tribulations in Big Mama's gardening adventures. Before I plant my new seeds I'm going to move the containers back to last year's spot to see if I do any better. I keep dreaming of the day when I have a large enough space to plant a garden like my Aunt Pauline's. As a kid I was in awe of how many vegetables she grew right outside her back door.

I've been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this past week and I'm in love. As an avid user of the local library it's rare that I find a book that I like enough to actually want to own. This is an exception. It's already lead me to place a request for Home Cheesemaking from the library. AVM has so many good tidbits I'm hoping to read it one more time before it's due next week.

I love learning new things, especially things I can make with my hands. I'm utterly buzzing with excitement about the prospect of making homemade mozzarella cheese.

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of Public School




My babies are off to school.

I left Lili having a complete meltdown, crying, with snot streaming down her face. I feel horrible- but every time I peeked into her room she got new energy and started going stronger. I hope she's settled down by now. She's so sensitive to change. I hope the teacher can entice her into participating eventually. She does love school, just not change of any sort.

Jo took off running, immediately finding a new friend (Angel is her best friend she tells me....after 5 minutes) and walked holding her hand to her classroom. She's so ready for this. My social butterfly. She is going to be in her element today.

Choo is down for his morning nap. My house is quiet and I'm quite happy about it. My to-do list is already finished and I'm writing another one.

Mama needed this break in routine. Ahh, this feels so nice. I think I'll water the flowers and linger in the garden this morning.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hurry up school!

My kids are driving me bonkers. Tomorrow's heat index is 107 so we're stuck inside with the AC again. They're bouncing off the walls like pinballs. Ding, ding, ding.

I think I'm gonna lose my voice yelling:

"don't touch that, we don't climb on the stove, quit hitting your brother, don't pull the cat's tail, quit fighting, get down from there, leave your sister alone"

What in the world possessed me to have three kids so close in age?

Two more weeks until school starts. Hurry up school!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Race Ya

We've been having some big discussions in the Fostermamas house lately. As we look further in relocating one big theme is coming up.

Race & Education

As transracial adoptive parents we have a responsibility beyond typical parenting. I want my kids to be smart, healthy and happy and I want them to be strong black citizens.

As we look into communities we're often judging how racially "diverse" they are. While reading an old post at Antiracistparent I began to delve deeper into my feelings on that subject. Part of the post there quoted:
Barry-Austin recalled a New York Times article from several years ago that looked at South Orange and its racial make-up (Preserving a Delicate Balance by Andrew Jacobs: May 18, 1997.) In it, the author cited the words of Professor Douglas S. Massey, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of ”American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass” (Harvard University Press, 1993.) Professor Massey spoke of surveys in which African-Americans respondents describe a neighborhood as ideally integrated when the racial composition is a 50/50 mixture of the two races. To most of the white people surveyed, on the other hand, integration meant more of an 80/20 mixture (heavy on the whites, please.)
How much diversity are we looking for? Is there a number I can put on it? Historically St. Louis' racial census has been 50/50....but that does not mean you can go into any neighborhood and find that diversity. Like many urban cities we are still very segregated. AA communities to the north and Caucasian communities to the south. Our lack of integrated diverse community options had us thinking that maybe we should just look into strong black communities instead.

Then I had to go and watch CNN's Black in America, The Black Woman & Family. One of the interviews was with a Harvard professor who quoted that children in undevoloped countries get a better education than black children in this country. God that makes my heart sink. I know that there is a huge gap in the resources that historically black schools receive compared to white schools. They quoted the drop out rate among black high school students as 50%. FIFTY percent. I don't want my kids to be that statistic. What parent does?

I don't want my kids to struggle, I want to give them every educational opportunity I can. Since my kids all have some special needs I know I'm going have to advocate to make sure that they already get some of the same educational advantages typically developing children receive. We're already seeing how hard that can be in a school district with no funds. (This week we enrolled the girls in the local magnet school that they were accepted in -boy that's another post)

I want to live somewhere where rich white folk pay high taxes so my kids can go to a great school. I want my kids to attend schools where the teachers are highly educated and credentialed. I want schools that have the latest technology and state of the art science labs. Typically that's a white community. Why does that make me feel so uneasy? Am I using racism and white privilege to my advantage instead of fighting the man?

A long time ago I read the book Silver Rights about one family's fight to send their kids to the local white school after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated the desegregation of all public schools. I remember thinking after I read that book that I would make sure that my kids took advantage of every opportunity that they paved the way for.

But as a transracial family it's not that easy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Cohousing Research

We're still very interested in cohousing....even more so when you really wish you knew your neighbors well enough that you could leave your 4 yr olds with them while you take your baby to the emergency room.

We visited the local cohousing group that is still in the process of retrofitting buildings. We really liked their eco focus but I don't think it will have enough green space to make me happy. I'm getting tired of living in a sea of concrete.

This weekend we'll be taking a trip to Lawrence KS to visit the cohousing community there.

Keppra

Choo Choo had another seizure later that same day and after paging the Pediatric Nuerologist on call for more than twenty minutes we hung up and called our close friend who is a Pediatric Infectious Disease doctor. She was able to calm us down quite a bit and told us to keep an eye out for him getting sick (as that seems to be his trigger) and sure enough a half hour after his 2nd seizure he got a fever of 102.

Our regular pediatrician talked to his Nuerologist and they're upping his dose of Keppra. Hopefully this will mean no more seizures but it also means a lot more cranky-tantrum moments. Keppra makes him so angry. Ever seen an 18 month old hit you like they mean it?

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Seizures

I'm beginning to feel pretty akin to Owlhaven today.

Choo Choo had another seizure today, very different from his previous ones. He lost consciousness during the seizure. This one is very serious since he had the seizure while on anti-seizure medication.

However no one in Nuerology is calling me back. We have a regularly scheduled appointment next week. Don't these people know I'm going crazy.

I'm regretting selling my pack n play, co-sleeper and baby hammock. Since his last seizures came in a group I want to keep a close eye on him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


We're back from our veeeerrry long vacation. I think I'm going to need a few days just to recover. Note to self: three weeks is way too long to be away from home with three little ones.

These are two of my favorite pictures from our trip. The first picture is Otter Creek in New Hampshire where we played in the water for a bit to the kids out of the car. The second is sunset over Salem Mass. where we spent a wonderful evening at an old fashioned kiddie amusement park.

New England is one of the most beautiful places in the US. We particularly loved Vermont. The mountains, streams and idyllic farms were breathtaking. For relocation purposes we liked the Burlington VT area out of all the places we visited. It's a small city but if you go 7 miles it's complete farmland. Living with such urban sprawl right now it was amazing to me to see how close city-country life were.

The biggest part of the trip though was how much we fell in love with co-housing. Living in a community where it's very much like the neighborhoods of my childhood is very appealing to me. I really felt like it was what we're always searching for in the city... a strong community where everyone knows each other, watches out for each others kids, participates together beyond yearly block parties and really work to form relationships and be a support system. I think we've shifted our relocation efforts to look specifically for a co-housing community where our Gay-Black-Jewish-Disabled Family would be an asset and a resource to others instead of looking for a place where we "fit".
Of the two co-housing communities we visited one was decidedly more child centered and that is the one that we preferred. I think if Vermont in general and that area specifically were'nt so damn white....we'd be there in a heartbeat.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wow

I think that might be my most commented upon blog post. I should have just thrown the topic out to y'all when I was pouring over the millions of top ten lists out there when it comes to the bestest towns ever.

I have some of the same concerns that alot of you brought up about Mass. We're completely spoiled in this part of the country. My BIL lives in Jamaica Plains MA and we helped him apartment hunt when he first moved there. I almost fainted at the rental prices. One month would have almost paid for my first apartment for 6 months. But we are still going to check out the area there and in Northampton MA. We visited NoHo a few years ago but it seemed too "small town" at the time. Now that we're looking for a smaller community we're going to visit again. We're also checking out Brattleboro and Burlington VT. Any other suggestions for what we should visit in the area?

We've always liked Providence RI...well and most of the towns we love are university towns. I love the idea of a town center and the community that a university provides. I guess that is what we're looking for in co-housing too. A stronger sense of community. We were bummed when we realized we'll miss the co-housing conference as the first part of our three week trip is spending time with Grandma & Grampa in Chicago -which we're also considering.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New England

We're getting ready to leave on a three week trip. Packing for five has taken it's toll on me the last few days as I scramble to make sure we have everything we could ever possibly need when away from home. Like anywhere we go won't be 10 minutes from a box store selling everything we need.

We are visiting New England scoping out communities for possible relocation. But with a family as complicated as ours we don't seem to "fit" anywhere. We're looking for a diverse community where our family would have access to great health care, see other people of color on a regular basis, feel safe to be "out" and can put up a menorah. Does that exist in the US?

Really, when looking at cities and towns through their city data everywhere we've explored is "too white", "too christian" and sometimes just "too straight". What's a Gay-Black-Jewish-Disabled Family to do?

We are voracious researchers and have been reading everything we can get our hands on about Cohousing. We're visiting 2 co-housing communities in New England to check them out.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Donaldson Report & Cornrows




The Donaldson report on transracial adoption came out this past week and it basically found that:
  1. AA children still are not adopted at the same rate as white children.
  2. That love isn't enough when parenting children of another race.
  3. Agencies need to do more to recruit AA families.
I was going to write a big post about how I agree but don't agree with the new findings. But I just don't have the spirit for it right now. Because really, most of their findings are not surprising. And besides...... I just wanted to tell y'all that this transracial-adoptive-mama has found her cornrowing groove.

When I started this blog a year and a half ago I was on a mission to master cornrowing. I think I'm finally really comfortable and now I'm always on the lookout for new complicated parts to try.

I'm so proud of me. I think I rock.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Home

Choo is home from the hospital and has been placed on seizure medication. Hand, foot & mouth is running through our house full force now. Choo is home but the girls have fevers of about 103.

We had a trip planned this weekend (just to Chicago) to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary on Friday. Now I think we'll be bunkered in with three sick kids. Any suggestions for a romantic celebration in that context?

In the midst of this I'm trying to formulate a post on the new Donaldson report....BBL.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Seizures

Choo Choo has been admitted to the hospital for tests and observations. It seems that typically febrile seizures don't repeat in the same illness and Choo has had 3 in 48 hours now.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Scared

As a parent one of the scariest things is seeing your kids get hurt. We've been through a major emergency but I wasn't prepared for this.

Last night Choo Choo had a febrile seizure. It was the longest two minutes of my life. His little body was completely tense and twitching, he was gasping for air-his lips turning blue and his eyes were rolled back into his head. I thought the ambulance would never come.

After being discharged from the emergency room we came home at 3 am to try to get some rest. At 5 am he had another one. This time only about a minute but just as scary.

The main indicator if a child will be prone to febrile seizures is family history. Something as foster and adoptive parents we have very little access to.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Didn't happen

Placement did not happen today. There is still a chance he might come with us but for now they chose to place him back with the accused abuser. Yikes. Keep your thoughts with him that he will be kept safe until this is resolved. It's killing me that we have no control over this process.

Alright now God/Allah/Buddah/Higher Power

So it's been almost a year since we decided We're Done. We got rid of all baby stuff and I just said a few posts ago that we're done having babies and I'm good with that. I've said that they can call with any situation and I will say no.

Boy, oh boy. Alright God/Allah/Buddah/Higher Power you found a loophole.

Later this afternoon we will go to family court with my niece. My 3 year old great nephew will be placed in the custody of the Children's Division with us as the foster home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meme of Five

I'm doing the Meme of Five that was posted at Peter's Cross Station not because I was tagged....but just because today has been a stressful day with the kids. DP is giving the kiddos a bath and I have a moment to myself. Ahhhh

What were you doing five years ago?
Five years ago I was getting ready to get married next weekend! I was hoping for a sunny day and counting and recounting my RSVP's. I was fretting over my dress and my hair and was in general a ball of nerves. I was a year into the Interior Design program and working a part time job at a custom drapery center that I found tedious and boring. I spent more time shopping and planning projects for myself than anything else. The one thing that stands out most about that job is how much it made my feet hurt standing around all day.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
1. Do Lili's hair
2. Post kitten ad on Craigslist
3. Weed in the garden
4. Call Mom about cleaning on Wednesday
5. Have a glass of wine

What are five snacks you enjoy?
1. Fruit (fruit doesn't last in our house)
2. Yogurt
3. Smoothies
4.
Orville Redenbacher's Kettle Corn (made with Splenda!)
5. Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. Travel - Far and wide. I would see other cultures, beautiful landscapes, different foods. I would live globally and hopefully teach my children to be citizens of the world and give them a greater appreciation of the diverse viewpoints of the many cultures of the world. Heck even though we're not billionaires this is a life goal for us, exploring the US while the kids are young and saving the big trips for when they are older and can appreciate it.
2. Give - Who really needs billions of dollars? Not one person that's for sure. I would give personally to those I knew needed help and through charitable organizations trying to do so much without enough resources.

3. Educate - Coming from true white trash I would set up scholarship funds for anyone in my family at any age wishing to further their education. I would set aside funds so my children at any age could go to any trade school, university or cooking class that they ever dreamed of. I would invest in the community I lived in by providing educational resources at the local schools and universities.

4. Create- I think I always wish I had more time to create, to paint, to sew, to garden.....photograph the kids, scrapbook, decorate, write. I would spend more time nurturing my inner artist.

5. Hire a Chef I love to eat lots of different foods. But I don't necessarily like to cook. I am challenged to figure out proper nutrition and make everyone happy at the same time. So if I had a billion dollars the only real difference I think I would make to my everyday life is that wonderful, healthy meals would appear magically.

What are five of your bad habits?
1. I curse and three kids later I still haven't stopped
2. I start projects and don't finish them.
3. Late night TV watching-snack binging -damn those salty chips!
4. Cracking my knuckles, and ankles and back and....well you get it.
5. Expecting things my way. Is that really too much to ask? LOL

What are five places where you have lived?
1. Tower Grove Neighborhood -St. Louis City
2. Dutchtown Neighborhood -St. Louis City
3. St. Louis County
4. South of St. Louis County
5. My mom's house South of St. Louis County

I don't get out much do I?

What are five jobs you've had?
1. Waitress
2.
Door-to-door vacuum salesperson
3. Corporate Trainer
4. Custom framer
5. custom drapery designer

Fostering of a different sort

video

Lately we've been doing some more fostering...of a different sort. It's kitten season and we been fostering a mama cat and her kittens that found her way into our friends basement when they were moving. My DP had never seen a newborn animal before and the kids were just as amazed with the new little additions that moved into their bathroom. After six weeks they are ready for new homes, I hope the kids will understand when they leave us. Josie has grown especially fond of them. I'm really glad now that we were a fostering family before our kids were really old enough to understand that their sisters (Vivi & Eckida) were leaving them forever. I know how it breaks my heart as an adult I can only imagine as a kid how it must feel.

Last night we were musing at our life over the past five years: we've gotten married, had five kids and bought two homes. I think we're used to stress now. No wonder my blood pressure and blood sugar have been out of whack. I'm beginning to look forward to settling in and NOT having a major change for a while.

But if you're in the St. Louis area and would like a cuddly kitten let me know!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I lost some weight

Unfortunately it wasn't on my hips. This past weekend we had a huge yard sale. Besides providing my budget for my mini backyard makeover we also lost about 200 pounds of stuff. Mostly infant and toddler supplies. All the baby bottles are gone, the Amby baby, the crib, the co-sleeper, the high chair, the infant car seats, the boppy, the miracle blanket....all......gone.

I'm officially done having babies. I thought I might be sad about this moment, but five babies later I can say "been there, done that....and don't want to do it again" and actually mean it.

I would say that I'm happy that I'll eventually be sleeping through the night....but here it is quarter to one and everyone is asleep but me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

IEP and Special Needs

As a mama to kids with special needs I celebrate the little things. Sometimes we lose sight of the forest for all the trees though. This time it's a good thing.

Lili had her second IEP this past week. The were SHOCKED and AMAZED with her progress over the past year. They reminded us that at her last IEP she couldn't walk independently, she couldn't talk and had the skill level of a 1 1/2 year old. We've celebrated so many little breakthroughs I didn't even realize the huge jump that she has made.

Their new recommendation is an integrated classroom at a typical school. Yeah! I might have two girls in school this fall, I can't believe it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Adult Onset Diabetes

So back in October I wrote that I was diagnosed with Adult Onset Diabetes. I've been fighting a battle since then to bring down my blood sugar naturally. I've maintained and continue to modify a healthy low carb diet. I've had the best of intentions to exercise but that hasn't happened on a regular basis.

We're coming up on 6 months since I was diagnosed. I keep going back to the doctor and getting my levels checked. She's let me remain medication free because I've managed to slowly (by healthy eating alone) lose almost 15 pounds. But my numbers are still high. 139 fasting. Ugh! But I did fit into a regular (non-plus size) XL jacket last night. I felt like crying in the store!

I've been able to make lasting changes in our diets. Cutting out sugar was the easiest part. Splenda makes it easy for me. Cutting out carbs is another hurdle though. I've been eating only high fiber, whole grains but I still need to eat more plants. I'm really interested in this book Superfoods RX. Anyone know anything about micronutrients? I already feel the difference in my energy level with our new diet change and I'm starting to feel the difference in my clothes. Now I just need the difference in my numbers. Anyone know a good personal trainer that will come whip me into shape after the kids go to bed?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Biological Ties

This past week Josie meet her biological sibling. When Josie was born she was immediately placed with a foster family (us) and then DFS found that her mother had just closed a case with them a year and a half before. That foster family decided not to accept her placement at the time because (like us now) they had two very close kiddos and another kid at home. Their home was full, thank goodness for us. I can't imagine my baby girl not being a part of our family...the ringleader of our family!

As a person with 5 half siblings myself, I find the commonalities of biology fascinating. I wasn't raised with my siblings- I was born 20 years after my oldest sister. I was my mother's "second family" after divorcing and remarrying. My siblings and I are different generations with one common parent. But we are all sooo strikingly similar, our hands, our hair texture, our silliness, our need for the calmness of the outdoors. Something primal that connects us all that makes us part of one.

Jo and her sister have so many similarities that can't be explained by anything but that oneness to each other. I'm so thankful that her sisters family wants to nurture that connection. I'm hopeful that this is one biological tie that will always give her roots.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A New Phase

As Choo Choo's case begins to come to a close we are looking for other opportunities to continue to serve kids in the Foster care system. I found a great program through a local residential care facility that offers mentorship opportunities. I'm specifically excited about being able to be a pen pal to a youth who is transitioning to independent living.

If you might be interested in writing a few letters and lending an ear to a youth in Foster care please take a look at the program at Child Center Marygrove.

This time of year (tax return time) is when we also begin to budget and plan for the next year. We reassess our current spending and make a conscious decision where we want our money to go. So far this year we've decided to cancel our home phone and just use our cell phones -cause that's all we really do anyway, cut back on our cable plan and order Tivo instead of our cable company's DVR. Tivo you own and the local DVR we were basically renting forever! We've also decided to cancel our local YMCA membership and do family "workouts" instead.

Another thing that I'm excited about with this year's budget is our new "charitable contribution goal". We regularly donate and give to causes that are near to our hearts but we have never made a specific goal to shoot for. This year we've pledged $1500.00 of our budget for monetary donations and that's not counting donated goods. It feels really great to sit and decide how we're going to spend our money and research what organizations are doing things that we're really interested in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saugatuck Getaway




I've been blogging less lately because I've got a new job title. I'm now the "CEO" of Saugatuck Getaway.

Our Lake Michigan vacation rental is up and running after our extensive January renovations & a bit of website building. So if ya have a minute check out the site at www.saugatuckgetaway.com

Tell me what you think! Would you take a vacation there?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hair do's



More hair do pics:


Lili's hair is a version of the princess crown that I did on Jo last summer. Lili's is done in braids instead of twists because they hold better in her hair texture. It was really cute on her, especially with the rhinestone hair snaps as accents.

Jo's hair is done in a traditional ballie and barrettes style with 2 strand twists. Her hair is getting so long, making her look like a big girl way too fast for mama.

My Leap Year Baby


Yesterday was Lili's 1st birthday! She's a leap year baby and she turned 4 yesterday. We had a great party at one of those bouncy inflatables places. Fun, fun, fun! I think we are more wore out than the kids. Jumping around like that is such good exercise. If gyms were more like that I think I would make more time to workout. We had just as much fun as the kids I think.

We Lili a Diego cake as she's been so into him and baby Jaguar. Rrrarrrr! Since most of the party was taken care of by the staff (they even cut and served the cake and made a list of gifts and givers for thank you cards) we were able to spend a little more time throughout the week working on the cake. Making the little cookie animals was my favorite part and I might make them again for a special occasion.

This was our first time using fondant, not too bad. It's Marshmallow Fondant which is basically just melted marshmallows and sugar. Really easy to do. The idea of the cake was from Nick Jr's website. If you have a preschooler that likes Nick Jr. characters they have tons of great birthday party ideas.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A New Earth





Is anyone else reading A New Earth?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

One Year



This morning while cooking a Saturday breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon(Lili's favorite food in the entire world) a flower delivery man rang the doorbell.

My DP, who is always great at celebrating little things, sent us a blue and white floral arrangement to celebrate One Year Ago when CJ arrived. This has been the fastest year ever. I remember vividly the first few months of Jo's life, documenting every little milestone. Fast forward to number 3 (actually #5) and poor CJ hasn't even had his one year pictures done. Ah to be so blissfully busy right?

I am really in awe at how much this big boy brings to my life. He is such a mama's boy and I love every minute of it. He's getting such a personality and is picking up sign language sooo fast. He learns at the speed of light and is doing something new every day. He's not even looking like a baby anymore, so quickly he's become a full fledged toddler. He deserves a new name here because he really thinks it's his name in real life. Choo-Choo.

His first birthday party was a few weeks ago and we made a train cake for our little Choo Choo. It turned out so cute. Grandma and Grandpa will bring down his new Train toddler bed that we bought off of Chicago Craigslist next week. He has almost completely destroyed the crib that has made it through 5 others before him. Boys. They're so different.

One year ago I was basking in baby love, now I'm running after a giggly toddler. Wow.

So happy one year Choo-Choo. Mama loves you so very much!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm shocked

I'm shocked...in a good way. We went into this court hearing expecting to start from the beginning again. Instead the judge ordered Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) and adoption. AND the Children's Division lawyer has been working on the TPR paperwork for the past 4 months (we had no idea) and it will be filed on the 29th. Wow. Can I say again ...wow.

It's a possibility that his adoption might be final by the end of the fall.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Foster Parent Guilt

I haven't written much lately about foster parenting because ....there isn't much to write....and because I'm nervous. CJ's 1 year hearing is coming up in a week or so. This will be our first time with a new judge who has made himself notorious over the past year. This is the part where we hold our breath and hope that nothing horrible happens on someone's whim. Oh I will be so happy when I no longer have to endure this rollercoaster.

I feel guilty because I know that there are many more kids who need help, a home, an advocate, something. But right now *I* can't be that anymore. I feel guilty knowing that there are kids in the system that don't have the option of stepping off the rollercoaster whenever they feel like it. I feel guilty trying to concentrate on my family's needs when so many are needier...and don't have a family.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Survivor/Biggest Loser Renovation

Let me preface this by saying I really did enjoy renovating the house. Most of the time though I compared it to either Survivor or The Biggest Loser. The amount of physical labor involved was enough to make me lose about 7 pounds in the three weeks we were gone. We even went to the gym this weekend to try to carry on with this jumpstart to the new year. We worked from morning until the wee hours of the night every day renovating. I hadn't seen the news or talked to friends in ages.

The girls watched WAYYYY too much TV to keep them corralled in one area while we worked on the rest. So if I had any advice....it's not to do this with little one's underfoot. Poor CJ thinks his new name is NO. Lili got really sick while we were there and we found out that her insurance doesn't cover her past her home state or a direct bordering state. That's kinda crappy isn't it?

I'm so glad to be back to the pace of regular life. I'm enjoying slowing down and spending some time with the kids. Now if CJ's SW would just call us back about when she scheduled the new Family Support Team meeting for.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Before and After




Three weeks of physical labor including painting, scraping, plumbing, flooring, electrical and everything else you can think of. I actually had a blast, frustrating as it was when the sink kept leaking....it was hard and so much fun.

I'll post more pics and such later. 7 hours in the car and I can't wait to sleep in my own bed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Renovation


Tomorrow we are off to renovate the lake house for three weeks. My mom, sister, nephew and some friends are all coming with us to help. I'm hoping that there really isn't two feet of snow right now -I've been tallying over the last week through weather.com .

The blog might not be updated for a while as I'm assuming I'll be so tired every evening I'll be falling into bed as soon as possible. Any tips for keeping three little ones busy while we live in a work zone? LOL

Wish me luck.