Monthly Archives: November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I am posting this a bit early because I imagine that on Thanksgiving I will most likely be busy giving thanks.

Cheryl and I have so many things to give thanks for.  I will write this from a “me” position since it is a me list of thank yous.  I am thankful for Cheryl; she keeps the ball rolling and puts up with Nick the grouch.  I am thankful for the kiddos who have come to us; they give us a chance to see the hands of God and impart just a little piece of wisdom.  I am thankful for baseball; yes less than serious than some of the others to some, but still just as important.  I am thankful for the overabundance of gifts I have been graced;  I am far less deserving of them and much of the time I rely too heavily upon them, but I do my best to enhance my world around me with them.  I am thankful for a good job; the grass is never truly greener on the other side of the road it just has a different view of the world around you.  I am thankful for the extended family who lives close by and a bit further away; so many instance that I have relied on your generosity and taken more than what could be my own fair share from you and still you give your love and your support.  I am thankful for the many friends whom I call my “urban family”;  many times I rely on you just as much or more than I would a family member and I know that many of you have given me a hard push back on track to where and how I live today.  I am thankful for those who I may be able to spend this holiday and holiday season with; and know that even for those who I may not have that chance to spend it with many of you are still on my heart and my mind and all of those people are with me in spirit.  I am thankful for the many things I have to be thankful for; going without, being without, not having is more than many can handle.

We plan to have some extended family over for dinner on Thanksgiving.  We plan on finishing our Christmas decorating outside and in on the Friday/Saturday/Sunday.  We plan on going to Flagstaff to cut down a tree.  We plan on making a few good memories that Cheryl and I will cherish for our first parenting Thanksgiving.

I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Procedure

This afternoon I left work as normal. Drove the distance from my work to Cheryl’s work to pick up her car so I could pick up the kiddos from daycare. Then drove to daycare and home. There is an art to getting three children into the house all at once without having to many fussyness.

Dogs fed… and changed into comfy clothes. Little lady is not enjoying her swing. How about tummy time? No? Really? Wet diaper… no? Oh you just want to rock. Luckily the two boys love playing, I can accommodate a good rock. My phone gently buzzes as I rock, rock, rock. “I am leaving in two minutes,” Cheryl reports. Yes a new worker all ready on the case is coming tonight. A few more sentences and … “Cheryl I need to go.” The younger of the two boys is on the floor crying. Looks like he slipped off his push bike.

15 minutes until our appointment. I know… let get dinner started. Juice… yes works like a charm for those tears. The two boys are on a BRAT diet still. Toast started. Fruit slice, slice, slice. A little turkey (not part of the BRAT but the doctor told us to add it in). Everything on the plate and served. Let me make a bottle, just in case the youngest wants her dinner.

Cheryl walks in the front door a few minutes later. A few minutes after that… a knock at the door. A new to us worker comes in. He quickly breezes through the questioned form. Not the kiddos worker… a replacement worker for the time being. He leaves within 15 minutes of arriving. A few more minutes to finish dinner. Little lady starts to voice her need for her dinner. I finish quick. To the rocker with a full six ounces I go with the little girl.

As I set down and start to feed her I hear more crying. Unusual for the timing, but not for the kiddo. I continue to feed, Cheryl works on baths… the crying continues. Minutes tick by and what was a simple fall from a push bike looks to be a larger problem. Cheryl and I decide that he needs to go to the Urgent care. She goes I stay to get the other two down. Finish feeding and burping and rocking… the youngest goes to sleep. A few quick songs and the oldest’s eyes grow heavy. To bed.

I text Cheryl. Nothing. 45 minutes I try to call. No answer. What is wrong. What happened. Another thirty minutes I get a call with a diagnoses. The hardest part is the way Cheryl is treated. They interrogate her. Question her like she is an abuser. She was not even there when it happened. Moreover… the kiddos fall on a regular basis. We respond quickly once we realized there was something wrong. It is just “procedure”. That is what they tell her.

Time now for healing. Thanks for reading.

Motivating Words

You saved my life, now maybe it’s my turn to save yours but I can never repay you, what you did for me is way more but I ain’t givin’ up faith and you ain’t givin’ up on me…

I found myself in a local grocery store buying the blue Similac formula.  Now for anyone who has had the pleasure of buying formula you know that the large Costco type containers give you the most for your money.  Well I walked in with a government issued coupon for the much smaller (and therefore more expensive) cans, seven in all.  This was all that I was buying so once I gathered my seven round containers I took them to a register.

I chose this particular store because it has less foot traffic and it takes about three times as long to check out with one coupon (which I had two – so about six times as long).  No one was in line and there were at least two other checkers open.  As I approached, the checker said to one of her co-workers something like oh goodness and indicated at least a mild bit of distain for the government coupons.  She began scanning the blue, round containers, continuing to talk to her co-worker about how most people with those coupons come in late at night.  Finally, her co-worker had a customer which forced the checker to talk to me.  A few sentences and in her mind things did not add up asking me to explain further.

Once she heard me explain that I was a foster parent her stance changed from judging to gratitude.  Rather interesting to me because this was not the first time I had seen a switch like that from similar workers.  Also, strange to me because I was still using the government issued payment.  She thanked me at least ten times in five minutes for opening my home to the kiddos.

Hope, I just need a ray of that, cause no one sees my vision … All I know is you came to me when I was at my lowest you picked me up, breathed new life in me, I owe my life to you

Sometimes we see the kiddos at the highest and sometimes we see them at their lowest.  Lots of the interactions that we have seen that have caused friction or hassle have been with the things and people surrounding the kiddos and not themselves.  Two overly caring CPS workers are on our cases right now.  One in charge of the siblings and the other in charge of the “middle” child.  They have judges yelling at them for not giving six hours of visits each week; parents showing and leaving early, parents no showing, parents asking for things that they do not get and all the while cannot give more than they have.

Cheryl and I have promised each other that we would keep each other a focus, next the kiddos and finally everything else.  The largest problem I see is so much of the demand that is placed on the workers is for the well-being of the parent unit.  I am sure that in a round-about way the thought is if it is good for the parents then it is good for the children.  As foster parents we have to remember that we are brought onto the scene just for the kiddos, to make their lives livable during that time in their lives.  We owe our times to them, we owe our lives to them.

Let me turn on the lights and brighten me and enlighten you;  I don’t think you realize what you mean to me, not the slightest clue

Growing up I had a family who cared for others and was a part of the community.  I Learned lots of lesson about the importance of community.  I know my parents gave those to me.  We go on and we learn.  As a young college student I met many inspiring people and I know that if It had not been for at least five people in my life I would not have made it through college; not on the course that I did.  On one occasion I was finishing up some activity and a mentor and fellow choir person pulled me aside and handed me an envelope.  I opened it to find a check.  The amount was not important; the enlightening message was.  It was not payment for some service, it was community helping community.  Her one request of me was to remember what had been given and when I saw others in need to give what I can.

The enlightening message was something I had heard from my up-bringing, but in practice it sank in with this single action.  I have a number of people who mean more to me than what I can say with words.  Life lesson, choices, actions… they all mean something.

…sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.  But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength; and just pull that it out of you and get that motivation to not give up; and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face…

This last week I have been reminded a lot of where we have come from and where we are.  Reading some of the stories and seeing the shift in where the Baby Puzzle was and where it is now is inspiring.  Cheryl and I continue to be a part of our community and give what we can.  Sometimes we encounter situations where we think it will go one way, but when we are shown the full picture the direction is changed.  Sometimes we see others struggling alongside of us and we have to remember to keep our focus on what we can help with.  We want to be so much more, but over the past 11 and a half months when we over extended ourselves that is when we feel the most overwhelmed.  Sometimes we just need that little extra that might be a lot or nothing at all to someone else.  They may not know that far reaching effects it will have on our lives just as we do not know the far reaching effects our efforts will have on the kiddos’ lives.

Thanks for reading… sometimes motivating words come from places we did not know they existed.

Sunday

The monitor peeks every so quickly from one green light, to all of the lights showing even the red. Like a train station, our little one is awake for her morning bottle. Quick peek at the clock 2:45. Each to our own station I go to fix a bottle and Cheryl goes to get the little one up. For me, an ounce of hot water followed by scooping three scoops of powder formula followed by five ounce of fridge water. Innards of bottle slipped into place and top with nipple screwed on tight. Shake it up and over to the rocker. I hand the bottle to Cheryl as she says, “go back to bed.” As I stumble to bed I look at the clock 2:51.

I hear the click of the baby gate into our room. 3:19 says the clock. “She was asleep the whole time while I fed her,” Cheryl says. We both agree that it would have been better to check on her and try to give her the pacifier instead of eating.

The monitor peeks ever so quickly from one green light to all of the lights showing even the red.like a train station our little one is awake for her second morning bottle. A quick peek at the clock 6:51. Each of us to our station Cheryl goes to fix the bottle and I agree to change the little one, but first a quick trip to the bathroom. I was not quick enough because by the time I was to the little one’s room Cheryl was changing her. “She is so happy. Look she smiles at everything.” At this point in the morning I feel like we have a great day in store for us. I take the little one to feed her the bottle so Cheryl can rest some before getting the two others up. In goes the bottle into the content mouth of a little one

Meanwhile Cheryl goes and put her ear to the door. A few seconds later I see her opening the door even though I hear nothing. Guess my hearing is going. I think to myself, maybe she just wants to see how they are sleeping. Less than thirty seconds later I hear an update. Both of the little ones have solid their beds, their covers and pillows. I try to put the little one down to help, but she starts to cry the second her nourishment is off her lips.

7:17. The little one finishes her bottle and one of the boys has come out from the bathroom. Both boys are getting baths as we have a visit scheduled for later today. The boy comes to sit on my lap while I burp the little one. A few minutes later we end up with more throw up on the carpet. In all between seven me eight thirty we have to change his shirt three different times. Poor little guy knows the things we are saying and wants to communicate, but still struggles with knowing just a few words. Cheryl had out her yellow deep gloves. A whole bedroom that had been deep cleaned on Friday got another round this morning.

At the time for their transport to their visit the little one had fell back asleep. When the worker came to the door I went straight to her room to get her up because Cheryl could handle getting the two boys. I woke a sleeping baby (which being a huge Friends fan I know, “you never wake a sleeping baby”). As I come out of the room, I lean from Cheryl that the two thirds of the visits had been cancelled by the worker on Friday.

Once we got the little guy fed and taken care of I sent Cheryl to nail salon ( yes she was refusing to go) because that is what we had planned for the time. Simple enough 11:08 another bottle for the baby who I woke. She was overly tired but drank quickly and was soon asleep.

Plans do not work out how we see them working out but have a way of getting themselves ironed out anyway. Thanks for reading, have a great week!

Choice

Cheryl and I are part of an engagement preparation ministry.  As part of this ministry, we talk to couples who are preparing to be married.  During the talking there are lots of different topics and themes are part of their preparation. Being a part of this group has been a strengthening point for the two of us.  Even the idea of being foster parents, in part, came from another couple who had fostered themselves who are also a part of this ministry.

Late last night and this morning I spent a little bit of time reflecting on one concepts of the weekend; the idea that loving your spouse is a choice rather than an innate reaction.  Moreover, the process that choosing to love is an essential part of the relationship.  The choice nurtures care and support and fosters devotion and respect.  It is that idea that I may not feel like I can do it, but I do it because I know it is needed.  As one other couple says “I may not like the decisions or actions, but I still choose to love.”

The choice to love is ever present in the choice to foster.  We have no innate connection to the children in our care.  They come to us “as they are” and how “as they are” we may never know the fullness of what that means.  We don’t have a movie with the highlights of their lives; we get second, third or fourth hand stories that so much of the time has a secondary motive.  Likewise, the accounts of devotion, care and concern that we express can be looked at with scrutiny by a myriad of people believing we would only say or do or think something because of our own selfish motives.  Even in the face of this perception, we must choose to love.  We have to keep the focus on the needs of the children even when we hear that others think the children are not our primary focus of care.

The outward signs of progress and development are our goal.  Getting over the illness, getting past the fears, learning to play nice and how to share shows the choices that are being made.  The kiddos in our current care have been here for a short amount of time, but the beginning developments are what keeps us plugging away.  We certainly are not perfect and do not know many of the answers to the questions that we have.

The best part of our choices are that they are not just for the kiddos, but the chance to show each other the love we choose to have for each other.  It is so hard to hear the “thank yous” or the “you all have such large harts” type comments because of the reward of showing my devotion and care for Cheryl.  If you have read the many blog posts from start to here you know that being foster parents is our chance, like many of you, to parent (unlike some of you that chance may not be present without the fostering).  We may not be the kiddo’s parents, but we are offered that chance to impart the same type of skills we might have if we had ever been graced with biological children.  Our choice to foster children is one way I show Cheryl I love her each day.