Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Meandering Toward Something...

Is a decision to home school our children an effort to 'run from' formalized education and bury our heads in the sand? I am and have almost always been an idealist... I vehemently deny 'running from' something and instead say we are 'meandering toward' something else; toward a priceless opportunity for our family.

To our lifelong friends in various public education roles... please do not take our decision as a vote of no confidence. You are each making such a difference - we are fully aware of this. We love you and respect your professionalism, your faith and your commitment to the children of tomorrow. Our decision probably just confirms what you already know about us - 'those folks sure are nice, but they do make some unique decisions.'

If you have any interest in sharing our perspectives on home education, join us at The World is Our Classroom. I do not plan to write much more about education here. This blog is for our foster/adoption journey and a few other random topics. So, stay tuned here even if there is no inkling of a desire to know more about our education option.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

At a Loss for Words...

I came across this story today from the Houston Chronicle... Four children ingest cocaine, police say. Surely, you are sickened by this, as am I. The large questions loom for me... why? will there ever be a home that will take 8 children together? why do some children get out? And the overarching thought... this could have been Baby Girl, Prince Caspian or Little Boy Blue, children we love.

Never would I want to guilt anyone into looking at foster care or adoption... However, this article shows reality magnified so that we can all see it for what it is... There is a huge need for foster families and adoptive families in our very own backyard.

This case got media attention, most do not.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bits & Pieces

Well, it has been a while since I've chimed in on this blog. Thursday morning I woke up with a swollen eye and itching skin around my face. I was just sure that I'd had an allergic reaction to this lovely 'wrinkle cream' my Mom had given me for Christmas last year. :) As the day wore on, the Benadryl helped a bit.

Friday morning I awoke to one very swollen eye and one marginally swollen eye. Additionally, the itching places had turned into red patches of teeny, tiny bumps. Nice. Honestly, I looked very deformed. My temporary deformation caused me to pause and consider people who exist in this state at all times without any hope of physical transformation.

So, I made an appointment with our Doctor friend. It was poison ivy... on my face! It is truly amazing what a steroid shot and dose pack can accomplish in a very short time. I'm grateful for the blessing of modern medicine. My stubborn self usually just stays home and lets poison ivy run the course. This time, since an important sense was involved, I decided to humble myself.

During these interesting days, we also made a very important family decision regarding the education of our children. This may come as a complete shock to some and to others, not so much of a surprise... beginning in January of 2008, Winding Road Academy will be open for full-time education. In other words, our home school will open doors and assume the complete responsibility of educating our children. I have so much more to share on this topic. My attempts will have to wait for another day... the weather is just too beautiful to sit here at my computer.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Family Portrait

.... courtesy of Little Mommy.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Day Without Worry...

I'd like to 'think' I've always been a 'thinker.' However, the reality is that I spent a large part of my life as a 'worrier.' What is the real difference?

When I was in college, I wore my worry like a badge. The girls at my college from my hometown would race to see who could call their Mom first with tales of a 'stressed out' day. The stress we experienced had nothing to do with the great questions of our world. Stress related only to superficial things: relationships, peers, clothing, gossip and so on.

I've heard the phrase, "Worry borrows." Wrong. Worry steals. There is no borrowing to it. Worry does not have any intention of giving back the hours it takes. Worry steals. Permanently.

Worry takes an ordinary beautiful day and turns it into a gut-wrenching, headache-driven, tedious series of minutes. Worry takes a delightful relationship and twists it into a paranoid, soul-numbing, dreaded conversation. Worry removes our freedom to think and move in a way that pleases God.

Flip the coin... To think is to ponder, mull over, and chew on something until you have a conclusion that satisfies. Perhaps the conclusion is not permanent or complete. A conclusion can simply be a recognition of mystery. I spend many hours of day and night thinking. Even when I'm doing the most mundane of Mommy tasks, I'm conducting a running conversation with myself regarding some topic of interest.

Where worry steals, thought graciously gives. Thought expands, thought provokes, thought pushes. Thought joins us all in the great conversation. It is not as if we are thinking about things that have never been thought before... there are heaps and piles of commentary on the subjects we seek.

I have certainly been criticized for 'thinking too much.' Valid criticism when my thinking crosses that imaginary line into worry. Every now and again, it does. God specifically asks us not to worry or be anxious but to instead go to Him with a thankful heart and present our concerns to Him. God does not ask us not to think... in fact, we are to love Him with our mind.

I believe that God enjoys my questions and my thinking... and it is He who gently reminds me that my worry alone cannot accomplish, it cannot solve. Oh, the day is bright and beautiful... may I allow it to be what it is rather than clouding it with worry.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Missing Mommy

While we are busy, busy around here with activities and adding Prince Caspian to our fold, somewhere back in the fog is a real sadness on our part for Little Boy Blue. His Mommy has basically disappeared; not a kidnapping kind of disappearance, a disappearance by choice and circumstance. There are a few known tidbits, but, for the most part, it is all hazy. This will be his 3rd Friday to stay with me instead of going to visitation. Out of the last 5 visits, he has only had 1.

I have a lingering hurt for Little Boy Blue about the lengthening of this process. It could be years before this is resolved, one way or another. A set-back of this sort somewhat restarts the 'plan.' We have not asked many questions yet; so much is unknown.

I have a lingering hurt for Little Boy Blue's Mommy. How will this play out for her? Do the skeptics who believe that a person can't change just point fingers of 'I told you so' at her today? Does she feel such a sense of shame that she cannot manage to show her face?

The saddest part is... she will miss seeing her baby sitting up on his own today, feeling him reach his little hand out to touch her face, and tickling his precious toes to make him giggle endlessly. And what things to miss!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Zest For The New Task

Giving up something you love to do is difficult. Many Mommies temporarily give up things they love to do... gardening, sewing, baking, painting, etc in exchange for more time with their wee ones.

For me, when we made the decision to follow God and expand our family, I had the difficult task of, at least for the foreseeable future, giving up most of the work I had come to love. I've also found myself sacrificing my time in the garden... I did sow seeds with Baby Girl in a Baby pouch; however, the watering of those seeds was remembered in late July when all shoots were crispy.

I believe that God fills the void left from sacrificing one thing by birthing a love for something else within you; something that 'fits' within the time available. It may be reading alone for 10 minutes, it may be listening to good music, singing around the house, exercising, anything ... God fills in the gap with a tasty 'something else' to bring some sweetness to an ordinary, busy day.

Writing, I've found, is something that I love to do. The beautiful thing is that I would have never discovered an enjoyment for writing had I not let go of the work and, to some extent, my garden. To take it a step further, had we not heeded God's call to adopt, I would have still loved my work and my attempts to be a green thumb; however, I would have missed out on the sweetness of the 'something else.'

Journaling has always been a part of me. My journals are 'stream of consciousness' and not written for any one's eyes but my husband's, my God's and mine. My husband and a close friend have strict instructions to burn the mounting stack of spiral notebooks upon my death. With this blog, and another project an old friend has me working on, I can attempt something I've come to love at any hour of the day... for 5 minutes or 50, depending upon my schedule.

To write something that someone else would want to read is humbling. To share my life in the midst of strong emotions is freeing. To be once again given a task I love is amazing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh, The Things That Distracted Me...

"Eyes blinded by the fog of Things cannot see Truth.
Ears deafened by the din of Things cannot hear Truth.
Brains bewildered by the whirl of Things cannot think Truth.
Hearts deadened by the weight of Things cannot feel Truth.
Throats choked by the dust of Things cannot speak Truth."

-Harold Bell Wright, The Uncrowned King, 1910

This passage sits, written in my hand, in the front of my Bible. It serves as a reminder to me of my lifelong battle with Things. Material Things.

My parents were self-made... people who worked hard together in a traditional marriage to build something from nothing. They were a team, both with equally important roles. It delighted them both to see my sister and me lavished with the extras that they never had growing up. They wanted our lives to be easier than theirs had been.

Their goal was altruistic and also very common for the parents of my peers growing up in suburbia. It was my handling of the situation that caused my problems. Nothing was ever enough for me. I became a 'consumer' of 'Things' in the truest sense of the word. The most fashionable clothing, the expensive car, the latest designer handbag, the expected college and post-graduate education... would anything finally satisfy me? My parents must have been shocked, I am confident that this was not what they intended to create.

In my twenties, my life hit an all-time low. The 'Things' had failed to satisfy and I was a depressed, sad person. I'm only grateful that the epiphany came then, instead of decades later. Through a series of circumstances, I learned how to get by with very little. I still had my parents to fall back on; however, I learned how to shop wisely and, most importantly, to desire less.

Then I met my husband. He was not raised with excess, in fact, the exact opposite. His college was not a 'right' but a privilege garnered from hard work on the athletic field. He was so grateful for his degree from an excellent school. He was and is acutely aware that he would not have had such an opportunity, but for a God-given physical gift. And, once that gift served the intended purpose, my husband closed the door on it and left it behind without any regrets. He is not a man who spends entire weekends watching sports; nor does he live out his unfulfilled dreams through his son's athletic pursuits. In fact, he rarely even watches his alma mater play and would be tickled if our sons become musicians.

So, he rubbed off on me in the area of Things. He was also a person of deep faith back then. Not a perfect man; but a man whose faith in God never wavered. He rubbed off on me in that area, too. He encouraged me to ask question upon question until my perceived intellectual barriers to faith were finally answered.

We have walked together as God has peeled the desire for material things away from me. We learned to live without my salary, we chose a simpler existence in the country, we try very hard not to be impulsive with large purchases. We fail in this area regularly, but materialism does not have a hold on me any longer. There is not a thing that anyone around me owns that I seek, not a thing.

By any standard, we have a great home and nice land. Take the house and leave the land, I'd be just fine. We could live in a trailer on this land and be very, very happy. For that matter, we could live in a trailer anywhere and be happy. We've often talked about picking up and taking a year with our kiddos to see the country in an RV. It sounds like the trip of a lifetime to me. It is doubtful that CPS would approve such an adventure, so that dream will have to wait.

In conclusion, for me, materialism had a grip so tight that I couldn't see, hear, think, feel or speak Truth. Somewhere deep within me was a thirst for that elusive quenched-soul. Finally, I am able to drink from the fountain of Truth, and I am satisfied.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

'Counting' Our Blessings

1 Doctor's Office
2 Adults
3 Attempts to look in Prince Caspian's ears for infection
4 Adult Arms - attempting to corral the little ones
5 Shots for Little Boy Blue
6 Spit-ups for Little Boy Blue between the waiting & exam rooms
7 Forms to fill out for Prince Caspian
8 Child-sized arms & legs in constant motion

Yesterday we had Little Boy Blue's 6-month check-up and Prince Caspian's 15-month check-up. It was our opportunity to introduce Prince Caspian to our very favorite Doctor friend. This Doctor has really been extraordinary in our fostering experience.

Children in foster care are covered by Medicaid. Children in foster care are required to see a Doctor. Not every Doctor takes Medicaid. Additional complication, we live in a rural area, approximately 30 minutes from a city where there might be a Doctor who might take Medicaid. Our Doctor, here in town, does not take Medicaid. However, he makes an exception for our foster kids. He says it is his contribution to our efforts and the efforts of another local family who takes in teenage girls. If you lived nearby, I'd have to find a way to refer you to him!

So, back to the visit. The appointments were at 2:00 & 2:30, back-to-back. We had to be there at 1:30 to fill out the abyss of paperwork on Prince Caspian (since Little Boy Blue has already been seen at this office.) I pick up Budding Author and Little Mommy, rush back to town and begin to unload everything and everyone. Just then, my sweet husband walks up out of nowhere and says in his deep, manly voice, "I'll get that stroller." Whew! Huge relief. While I had convinced myself that I could swing it with all 4 kids and 2 getting shots, pangs of doubt still lingered as I fumbled with our double stroller.

Diagnosis - both boys are healthy, growing strong and developmentally on target... if you knew their backgrounds, you would shout 'Amen.' We are so happy for them both. Early Childhood Intervention will still be referred for Little Boy Blue because of his continued stiffness, a few minor things we have noticed, and because he needs to be "followed along" as he moves through different stages. However, on motor skill and language development he is doing outstanding. He engages well with people and this week he sat up by himself!


Little Boy Blue will not see his Mommy tomorrow. I have more than shared my feelings on this subject with you and, therefore, will leave the statement without additional comment.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Everyone Needs a Little Mommy

It is Little Mommy's turn to be the center of the family blog spotlight. I think she secretly likes being the center of attention, even though she acts the 'shy girl' part.

Little Mommy was born in 2003 after 15 weeks of bed rest. I began significant contractions in Week 20 of the pregnancy. In many ways, I knew she was a girl; everything just felt different. And then, when things got a bit dangerous, I got very scared. I remember many sleepless nights crying out to God to please calm me down and be with my little one. So many special verses are etched in my mind from that time.

Somewhere around Week 35, my water sack sprung a leak again, just like my first pregnancy. I knew something was weird and was admitted to the hospital to give birth to her the very next day. I did not sleep a wink the night before... vividly replaying Budding Author's emergency arrival.

Little Mommy was a beauty. She had perfect little rosebud lips and a mass of dark hair. The day she was born, she moved into the NICU due to respiratory issues. She quickly recovered and was out a week or so after her birth.

She was welcomed home with open arms, even brother's. Everything was pink... we went girl crazy. We were so much more relaxed with her. Being a parent the second time tends to peel away those Type-A tendencies very quickly.

Little Mommy has always been my helper. She loves to cook with me in the kitchen. I have great confidence that she will be baking bread on her own by age 8. She does such a great job with homemade cinnamon rolls under my watchful eye, of course. Many nights before dinner she will come in and say "Mommy, what can I do to help you?" Often, I just stand with my mouth ajar.

Little Mommy has an intuitive knack for babies. She talks wonderfully to them and wants to cuddle and snuggle for long intervals. She has at least 30 'babies' of her own. (stuffed animals; hand-me-downs of mine and my sister's) If I had a dime for every nap I've interrupted of her 'babies', I'd be a wealthy woman. She will often be heard shushing me because I've roused her 'babies' from their slumber.

She is a blond-haired, blue-eyed 4-year old. With all of her maternal instincts, it may be a surprise that she is really a tom-boy at heart. She loves pink, but she loves being dirty in pink. She will ride her bike as daring and dangerously as Budding Author. Laughingly, she tells me that she is a 'country girl.' I love it!

This child never ceases to amaze me with her competitive spirit. She wants to read like her brother, so she pushes herself until she can brag that she's finished reading a book of her own. She is a creative, lefty with an artistic flair.

Outsiders would call Little Mommy very shy... she tends to stick to her own family and a few close friends. She wants to be anywhere that Budding Author is... this may be a large problem for him when he gets married. She's already asked us if her husband can come live here with all of us. What fun! (I say with sarcasm dripping from my mouth.)

This Summer, she gave herself her first haircut. We had just been to the beauty shop to just get the very tip ends of her long hair trimmed. She comes into the kitchen, not 5 minutes after we arrived home, and says "Mommy, don't you love my hair." It took every ounce of strength in me not to bust out laughing. She had cut at least 7 inches of hair off of both sides. Her hair was now a bi-level. Luckily, we have a friend who is great with hair. She cleaned it up beautifully and now, Little Mommy is a sassy lass.

Little Mommy keeps me on my toes. She is 4 going on 14. Her favorite things are Strawberry Shortcake, drawing, acting out the Sound of Music and climbing our mimosa tree. She loves to have one-on-one time with her Daddy and me. She craves it. If she doesn't have her special time, she is very upset. I guess that has singularly been the most difficult part of having additional children. She needs my undivided attention and I have royally messed it up on many occasions. We are learning together, she and I.

In the foster/adoptive sister role, Little Mommy is caring, attentive and emotional. She still tells me she misses Baby Girl. That's OK because I do, too. Little Mommy wants a baby sister so bad she can taste it. I pray that God gives her the desires of her heart. (Whew! Did I really just write that??)

Little Mommy, you are 'it', girl! I want to be like you when I grow up. Oh, I take that back... Daddy would have a hard time with those tantrums! You will always be our precious princess. I pray God's richest blessings on your life. And God, she was well worth the wait!

Here's to You, Budding Author

The primary purpose of this blog is communication about foster care, adoption and the reality of each. It may appear to the occasional reader here that I do not spend much time talking about Budding Author and Little Mommy, our biological blessings.

So, humor me a bit, while I brag on these two... Budding Author's story comes today, with Little Mommy's soon to follow.

Budding Author was born in 2000. He was our 'surprise' baby. In 1999, we were told that we would probably not conceive on our own. I was very sad. Many of the readers of this blog have struggled with infertility. It appears to be more common today than ever before (another topic for another post) - or perhaps infertility is just more commonly shared with others today. In any event, we decided not to pursue any type of infertility treatment. It was not some deep reason that drove us away from it... just more of a practicality for us personally. Plus, adoption has always been an option for us, even that early in the baby game.

Surprisingly, we conceived Budding Author all on our own, the old-fashioned way. Our ob/gyn at the time did not believe that I was pregnant and had to do a sonogram right then and there. We decided to continue being old-fashioned and not find out the gender of the baby.

About 33 weeks into the pregnancy, my water sack began to spring a slow leak. Budding Author came by emergency c-section in the middle of the night a few days later on June 9, 2000. We were in the hospital already, due to the low level of amniotic fluid. The nurses could not find his heartbeat and the doctor begin cutting on me without anesthesia! Ultimately, I was completely put under for the delivery. I awoke to find my sweet hubby by my side telling me about our beautiful baby boy that was rushed to the NICU.

He was a feeder/grower in the NICU for 2 weeks which gave me a bunch of recovery time. We were so grateful for this little peanut. I can still picture my husband's face when he talked of how handsome our baby was and how proud he was of me.

The years have passed quickly. From potty-training to learning the alphabet, counting to ten, playing soccer, reading his first chapter book, writing a new 'Curious George' story and forming a budding relationship with God... he is a big boy now with purpose and sensitivity.

He loves Star Wars, Legos and a combination of the two. As we have studied Ancient History together, he has consistently asked me whether he will meet the heroes he learns about (Odysseus, Alexander the Great, etc.) in heaven. He wants to meet these men of our historical tales in the flesh. He has met them in his imagination, you see.

I look at his feet and laugh! They are huge! His Daddy comes from athletic Scottish stock, so Budding Author comes by it naturally. He loves a competitive game of any sport; however, he also has a huge love of music of any kind. Piano is his current instrument, because it is what we already own. He honestly made out a list of all of the instruments he wants to learn to play and in order... french horn, trumpet, saxophone, xylophone, guitar, etc.

All in all, he is an active 7-year old with a zest for life. He loves people, yet loves solitude. His favorite two things to do alone are designing wonderful Lego creations or walking in our woods with our English Mastiff by his side sporting his huge walking stick. He still loves to be read to at night... reading aloud is a family thing. There is nothing like piling in our king-sized bed and introducing him and his little sister to Stuart Little, Aslan and the Little House on the Prairie.

It is my special blessing to have Budding Author in my life. He loves with abandon and thinks deep thoughts about himself and the world. He challenges me to be a better Mommy.

And as for being a foster/adoptive brother, he takes his mission very seriously. In a 7-year old way, this is his calling. He loves on these little ones, brags on them to his friends and, when the days is through, he thanks God for making us a family. He humbles me with his understanding of Little Boy Blue's situation.

So, here's to you my Budding Author. Oh! and God, thanks for sharing him with me!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Can a Crumbling Life Be Rebuilt?

I do not claim to be a poet; however, emotions without outlet have brought my pencil to paper on many occasions. It is as if my thoughts are easily, quickly synthesized in poetry. Never would I have imagined such a thing. Poetry has always been my very least favorite form of expression.

Casting Crowns has a new CD out. A song on the CD, Slow Fade, triggered this poem. One verse in particular pierced my soul... "It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away; It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray. Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid, When you give yourself away. People never crumble in a day." You can listen to the song here.

Funny, I bought and listened to this CD on Friday after finding out the news about Little Boy Blue's Mommy. A reminder, lest I forget, that she and I walk the same difficult, dirty road of life.

Can A Life Lost Be Found?

Losing yourself.
Until nothing remains,
of the girl you once were.
Nothing; not a look,
not a thought, not a dream.

Losing yourself.
As the innocence drains
and a vague desperation sets in.
Proding, pushing you to move,
somewhere, anywhere.

Losing yourself.
As the black cloud hangs persistently,
and his net traps you like a bird.
You wish to fly, yet feeling wanted,
for the first time, you stay.

Losing yourself.
You realize his true intent
as he poisons your mind.
You become unrecognizable,
a shadow; the way out, gone?

Remembering yourself.
Seeing the eyes of your beautiful son,
and a pinprick of light beckons.
You feel a tingle of hope,
an option, a way out?

Remembering yourself.
Knowing the choice is yours,
an unexpected hand reaches out.
Will you meet Him,
the only hope of true change, the Way?

I pray she will meet Him. If she does not, I'm a Mommy, standing firm and ready.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bittersweet Friday

Bittersweet - primarystressbit-schwar-secondarystressswemacront, Pleasant and unpleasant, or bitter and sweet, at the same time; tinged with sadness.

If you have followed our journey for any length of time, you will remember that Fridays are the day that Little Boy Blue visits with his Mommy. Two weeks ago, Little Boy Blue made the trek to 'busitation' (as Little Mommy calls it). His Mommy was sick and did not make it. My heart felt that it was something more. I simply cannot explain why. Just suffice it to say that my Mommy antennae were up and sniffing around.

Last Friday, 'busitation' went on as normal with Little Boy Blue's caseworker bringing him home and sharing loads of information and encouragement with us. Not encouragement that Little Boy Blue was going to be ours, just encouragement in general about our fostering, etc. She told us that we would have Little Boy Blue until at least early 2008. We were sad that he would not spend Christmas with his Mommy, but were certainly excited to have him with us. So, I thought my Mommy hunch about the week before was just rubbish.

This morning, we got a call that Little Boy Blue's Mommy is in a heap of trouble. Oh, my faint heart. I cannot keep it from roaming through the fields of 'what if' or 'what is next.' My desire for Little Boy Blue to be permanently reunited with his Mommy directly conflicts with my desire for hubby and me to raise him. Bittersweet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Will You Be My Friend?

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of the littlest boys doing what little ones do...

Little Boy Blue was playing quietly in his exersaucer... Prince Caspian was digging through my plastic cups while I emptied the dishwasher. A few minutes later, I realize all is quiet. I peek around the corner of the kitchen and spy Prince Caspian giving Little Boy Blue a plastic blue cup. Little Boy Blue giggles with glee as he holds it up to his mouth trying to drink. Then Prince Caspian toddles off and gets his sippy cup... sweetly he holds it up to Little Boy Blue's mouth offering him a taste.

These two may not be brothers forever; but they are brothers and friends for now.