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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Change of plans

Some Christmas gifts are meant to last.  Others are only for  little while

On December 23, Christmas eve eve, we received a great gift.  Thursday night - just 16 days later, we lost half of it.

I won't say that the last 16 days were all rainbows and roses.  There were seven doctor appointments, forty poopy diapers, three time outs, and two days of pre k.  Since the kids came as a package, the younger would not let the older out of view.  There were tears at every potty trip (only one can fit at a time), and don't even try to put them to bed one at a time!  This little one held on to the older sibling like a security blanket.

I didn't expect the phone call, so I didn't have time to dread it.  Apparently the older child's father had a hearing at court on Thursday.  I was cleaning up and getting dinner finished so we could go to Awana, like we do every Thursday night.  Thursdays is for the big kids, and at a friends home.  So, I was wondering how I was going to corral a 7 month old, a toddler and a pre-k kid while the lessons were going on.  About 4:30 I get a hushed call, the cps worker was still in court but wanted me to have plenty of time to get my precious one packed and ready to go.  I guess this judge wanted to give the parent another chance.

There are parents who make poor choices, and then there are just bad parents.  I don't know enough about this parent to know the difference, yet.  I hope I never do.  I just pray that this judge really did what was in the best interest of the child - not the parent.  Fortunately I had my two big girls to help me quickly pack.  The cps worker was supposed to be there within the hour.  I not only had to separate the kids toys and clothes, I needed to separate out what was already ours.

It took longer than expected, but at 7:30, the worker and her supervisor showed up.  This was tough.  I didn't want to let this child go, but what choice do I have?  The foster parent doesn't get a say.  We are just here to love the children and give them a safe place to live.  Our job is to love, protect, and allow the child to be a child without worrying.  They should worry about food, safety, or punishment.   Foster parents should praise the child - a lot!  Rules (to an extent) go out the window.  Who cares if a plate is left at the dinner table or a two-year-old took his sippy cup to his room?  If toys were left out, pick them up.  We all forget to pick up after ourselves.  If a five-year old digresses and needs pull ups, buy pull ups.  Praise the trips to the potty, but don't scold for using the diaper.

These are things we should remember for our own children.  Although our child are our, we could loose them at any time (death, illness).  We never know how long we will have our foster children.  That's what makes it so challenging, and heart breaking.   We want every moment to be glorious, and for that child to always remember how LOVED they felt while in our presence.

That's how to show the love of Christ

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mom Lessons

Things I have learned being a (foster) momImage result for foster mom

If you're not a mom - stop reading now.  However, if you're not a mom, you probably don't read most of my blog posts anyways.  If you don't have kids, this may sound like whining.  If you do have kids, you know that mom's sacrifice a lot of things for the sake of their children.

I have three biological children.  They are now 16, 13, and 11.  Depending on when you read this depends on how many foster children I have.  As of today I have a 7 month old and a toddler.  Two days ago I had another child in pre-k.  The ages of the babies is very similar to the ages of my bio kids - many years ago.  I remember how hard it was with three babies.  Never enough time to get everything done, never enough energy to do what I "needed" to.   The benefit of 'starting over' now is that I have three big kids to help change diapers, make bottles, read bedtime stories, load up the babies into their car seats....

However I don't want to ask my big kids too much to help.  I want them to enjoy being a big sibling and not always have to do something.  Their main job should be to play with their new siblings.  I never ask them to discipline or correct.  That should always come from mom.

There are a lot of things I had to change/learn when I had babies before.  Some of those things haven't changed.

1) I really don't have to shower daily.  If it's been a late night with a crying baby, or a new arrival, I really do not want to get up before everyone just to get a shower.  I would rather sleep.  Problem is, if I don't get up before the little ones, I don't necessarily get a chance later to shower.  Oh well.  It's really not good for your hair or skin anyways.  I'm saving water, and that's good for the environment.  Right?

2)  A balanced diet can consist of a two year olds left overs.  I despise wasted food.  Groceries cost too much to waste anything.  If I made myself a plate at every meal, I would gain ten pounds a day!  See #3.

3) I don't have to eat three meals a day.  While eating is important, it is often done on the go (as in while getting seconds for one child, getting a plate for for another, a napkin for someone else, and making an emergency trip to the potty with spaghetti sauce all over a two year olds face).  I love being able to sit and eat with my kids.  Inevitably, as soon as I sit, the baby is hungry, another needs something, someone has to potty, and one of the little ones needs more.  When all of that is taken care of, I sit down, take a bite, and jump right back up and start all over again.

Image result for dirty toddler4) "You can pick your friends, and you can  pick your nose, but you can't pick your friends nose."  That may be true as a child, but as a mom picking a toddlers nose (who can't yet blow) is a job requirement.

5)  Snuggles make everything better.  Whether you have a sick kid, scared foster child, or just a bad day, long snuggles are comforting and make anyone feel better.  Laundry and dishes can wait (see #6 and #7).  Make those babies feel safe and secure.  You are NOT spoiling a child by rocking them to sleep or holding them until they feel better.  You are establishing a bond and helping them to feel secure.  Even when your mom or grandma tell you that you are spoiling the baby, remind them that this baby will not want snuggles at 15 - you have to get them in now!

6)  Mt. Washmore can wait.  So you may be low on cloth diapers, underwear, and jeans.  It can wait until the kids are in bed (see #8).  Do you really want to miss out on the baby giggles, tickles, and  reading the Elmo book (for the 42nd time today)?  No.  Because this time next week you will be attending kindergarten graduations and missing this time.  While sitting at your child's high school graduation you will wish you made more time for macaroni crafts, science project and walks to the park.  When cps shows up to take your foster child, you don't want to say "I need five more minutes to give the hugs I should have given while doing laundry."  It can wait.  In our culture, our kids won't go naked.

Image result for mom7)  The dishes can wait - nuff said.  Read #6.  We have started using a lot more disposable dishes just so that mom can spend more time being mom, and less time being a housekeeper.  Besides, if you let the dishes soak overnight they are easier to wash next week :)

8)  Sleep can wait.  Endless nights waking up with a teething baby, mounted on top of 2 scared kids that are new to your home leads to one tired mommy.  I'm not a coffee or caffeine drinker, so I take a few extra B12 and keep going.  Again - these babies don't stay babies long.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. – Philippians 2:14-15

Friday, January 2, 2015

Going to Branson

A few years ago we stopped giving our children gifts of stuff.  We have enough stuff.  I don't want anymore in the house.  Instead, we go on a trip.  The kids have not missed opening packages.  Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Randi, Uncle Allen, and friends typically give them some box or bag to open.  They look forward to our trips, and talk about them for years.  But, they cannot remember what year they got the DS, or that toy from Grandma.  Ask them about their favorite trip, now that they can go on and on about.  They may not be able to tell you which year it was, but they will talk about the week of snowboarding lessons, the week at Great Wolf Lodge, the week of visiting every museum in Houston (the year we were broke - they were all on the free day!) or the year we spent a week in Branson.  That was our 2013 trip.

Before going, the kids and I Googled "Free things to in Branson"  I acquired a long list of things to do, but watch out, there are no shows and a lot of places are closed between Christmas and New Years.  What week did we go? The day after Christmas.

Branson, Missouri

Side of the road plane!  This was at a go-cart place (that was closed).  There were a lot of neat things like this to see along the roads in downtown.  The kids actually had their eyes on the window and not in a book.

I have always loved the Amish culture, so when I saw this little country store, I had hubby stop.  Unfortunately I was very unimpressed.  I'm sure that the people who own it have ancestors who are Amish, but no one working was.  I had to wonder about many of the products too.

Historic Downtown.  You don't find a lot of history in downtown Houston, so it's fun to see American History in other towns.  The center was closed, so we didn't learn anything that mom couldn't look up on her smartphone.

Right outside of Downtown, there is a great place for hiking.  It was difficult to find, but right off the main road.

I personally don't like hiking in the rain, but this would be worth it!

We found caves to explore - just don't go in too far without a flashlight!

The icicles amazed everyone.  I haven't seen anything like this since we lived in Colorado.  Although it was below freezing, with all the walking (and running) we warmed up quickly. 

This cave was big enough to be a living room!  We stopped here for a snack.  It wasn't tall enough for Hubby to stand up in here, but the girls could.  The only thing I didn't like was the graffiti left by some disrespectful visitor.

Here you can see how tall the cave was.

Such a goof.

There were some great trails.  

Look at this trail.  It's beautiful - even frozen.  If you look closely at the wall, you can see the ice dripping.

Finally - some history

Debating on exploring a cave.  We decided against this one.

Playing with icicles that fell.  There were some icicles that could be dangerous if they fell on someone, so the boys used rocks to make the trail safer.

After a day of hiking we drove around again.  This is the Titanic museum.  Funny how you can see a giant ship when you are nowhere near the ocean.

This one made me laugh!  King Kong!

One thing about Houston - it doesn't get cold.  Up here, it does.  23 degrees this morning.  Just keep moving and you won't freeze.

Christmas lights were still up, and we found a place to drive through.  I wouldn't do it again - too expensive and not very impressive

There is PLENTY of shopping!  One of the shops we stopped at was making fudge.  This lady was funny and the fudge was pretty good.

We saw a sign that said 'Foot of chocoloate - .99cents'  Of course you have to stop!

So many neat, random things to see just driving down the road.

There was a 'car museum' - we thought about stopping, but for the price - x5 people - we decided against it.

Hubby drooled over everything in the parking lot, though.

The worlds largest banjo

Fish hatcheries are so fun to visit.  We did that often in Colorado.  You can learn a lot about the fish in the area, science in general, and if you have a decent tour guide - you can learn a lot about the area in general.

Nikki feeding the fish

Fish food

You can't see them n the photo, but Codie is looking at hundreds of fish.

Every ripple is several fish trying to attack the food she has

If you stop to read the signs, you can learn a lot on a guided tour.  
Or just take photos of the signs and read them later :)

Here you can see some of the fish

This sight was new to us.  Lots of vultures wanting to get at those yummy fish!

Right by the hatchery - a dam waiting for us to go visit- too bad they were closed too

Back inside the visitors center, there are lots of things to see and do

It's not all about fish and conservation - it's all about protecting and saving wildlife in general

After the hatchery, we saw more reasons to 'just drive around'

Who would have ever thought about jacking up a bug?  It just seems so Texas!

That's a freaky looking rooster

The view from our condo was great, and we had a great time.  This is a trip that we will be repeating - just not in winter