Lucy looking over the Ocean

Lucy looking over the Ocean

Monday, February 13, 2017

Science Blog, What We Wish Other People Knew About Fostering

I would use different language than the blog below, but I agree with these points especially #12 :) We really want to help our community in this specific way. I want to take on kids who need hands on healing and stubborn love, Sheff loves me and loves kids enough to not only support this but dive in with humor and amazing boundaries that are consistent. The other children are learning about privilege, learning about nutrition and basic medical needs. They are also having to share, and I am very aware of trying to balance their rights and space with our desire to teach compassionate hands on giving.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Different Paths: Together

Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me........ 
Psalm 25: 4-5

When we started out this parenting journey I think we both thought it was best to be a united front, same sports, same schools, same childhood books and songs. As an only child the idea of having a community of people with traditions, inside jokes and wacky car trip memories was my highest dream. Those things have happened, but not in the ways we imagined.

New Years tradition of bubbly juice & an appetizer dinner. We try for food from around the world. Then we choose things that the others (in our family) can pray for in the coming year. A way we can support each other as a family, this makes it more of a group movement rather than individualistic pursuit. Happy 2017!

This winter gave punctuation to the need to support very different paths while staying connected and supportive as a family. As we grow and evolve and serve, this need allows us to be compassionate and aware of difference. Hearing aids, speech help, concussion recovery (all different kids) and finding the right high schools to support emerging adult thinkers. With teens researching college to foster babies where mama is researching formula, to our sweet boy we are in process of adopting, life continues to flow.

I am doing my best to sleep when I can, accept help, eat my greens, enjoy my apple fritters, laugh at my children's jokes and clean when no one is watching.

I pray for the strength to support our children differently, the wisdom to trust my husband and love him where he is and the grace to be a foster mother trusting in the Lord's greater plan.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out of the Box, Haiku and Family Meeting for Fresh Takes

Moving moon through months 
 Memories thaw hearts until
new year light shines bright

Foster care gives breath
Pain longing sweet moments wait
Serving as one now

New days await with
promise full of simple joy
Giving faith a chance

3 haikus by Deirdre, be gentle with me this is my first shot at Haiku poetry!

Family meeting last night we spoke together of how to celebrate New Year's Eve as a family, what we wished for in the new year. One thing that came up from our teens was brainstorming how to re create patterns of behavior, for example how to make Saturday mornings more peaceful. M1 suggested a big breakfast where we all gathered. Today Sheff made blueberry pancakes, and fried up turkey bacon (give it a chance nitrate free and very good from Costco;) we felt connected and ready for the day. Our teen daughter suggested we all come up with three goals for the new year and have family partners to check in with throughout the year for support. Our middle daughter said we needed more family game nights, and we should tell pop corn stories. J-L thought of ways to diffuse situations when people felt angry or sad, really great NEW and out of the box ideas for us. 

Writing some poetry is out of the norm for me. Looking for ways to be creative with road blocks that come our way in 2017, and hope to give breath to fresh ways to look at the world. As a family we want to serve, pray and create together in ways that feel both comforting and challenging. 

The haiku is a Japanese verse in three lines. Line one has 5 syllables, line 2 has 7 syllables and line three has 5 syllables. Haiku is a mood poem and it doesn't use any metaphors or similes. Usually when Haiku is taught the students are only given the restriction of the number of lines and syllables. More found here

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How to Get Involved with Foster Care, And Support Those Who Serve in This Way

The hope in Foster Care is to heal families, to give birth families a chance to get back on their feet. In the very first training every educator cannot stress this enough. At times it can feel as if potential families are being pushed away! That is not the intent, the intent is to teach and inform.

If that primary goal cannot be accomplished, the hope is to find families with open hearts willing to take a chance on a child, willing to re create their family and make room for a child who deserves the chance to grow with stability and unconditional love. 

Loose statistics in our area say about 60% of kids will not reunify with birth families. It is painful to live in limbo and not know if a child you are loving might leave! Having spoken to many Foster families I am finding that everyone agrees that pouring love into a child helps them no matter what. If a family is placed with a scared and traumatized 3 year old, creating stability for that little person will change them forever. If the child stays, they will have healed and grown in a place that becomes home. If the child goes, they feel open and able to create new patterns with a primary care giver who may have gotten sober, gotten a better living situation or a grandmother who can better bond with the child. It is never wasted energy.

It is not easy to be part of the system, but the best way to create change is to work hard from the center. One difficulty is the impulse to expect gratitude from the child in need. It can be paradoxical that a community response might be "way to go you!" vs a child might be angry and act out. A Foster child's lifes has been turned upside down! Our advice is to use the community support to find energy. Energy for compassion working with the birth family, energy for late nights and new routines. This is truly a way to serve, the rewards from doing Foster Care might take a long time to be clear, be patient and humble on the walk. I have to remind myself of this advice often!

Supporting those who provide Foster Care is a great thing to do if it isn't a good fit to be providers yourselves! We have had friends offer hand me downs, this is a real need especially for younger children. Families get a clothing allowance but even with a thrifty mind set, kids need a lot of stuff! When a Foster child leaves the hope is to set them up well for the next placement or for going home. I was able to send clothing in the next two sizes, winter gear, favorite toys and more, tubs of things! So please don't expect things back if you give to a family serving in this way. Also somethings might end up in a garage sale or given to another family, it is a quilt to make finances work providing for extra kids. 

A new placement can happen in hours, if a police removal happens or a last minute call, families have very little time to be ready. Meals are heavenly and such a kind way to support a busy family. We had one of our Grandmas run out for formula and diapers as well, a grocery run for basics is a fabulous way to help.

Your time is such a gift. We had a friend go get finger printed so she could be a child care option. The state needs to have clearance for those helping with Foster Kids for more than a set amount of time. Another mom helped for a few hours here and there, giving us time to run an errand or tidy up. As we talk more to Foster Care providers it is clear, the support these families receive from their neighborhood, church and family keeps their engines running even on steep climbs and tricky turns.

Prayers and basic kindness, are such a support to Foster families. Sending notes, checking in, praying for the kids in our care, our other children, these are such supports. I spoke with one family who said a Sunday school class prayed for Foster Children for an entire month, the kids really focused on the prayer, that family felt like others in their community were aware and supportive. 

To get involved each county (if you google the county you live in) has a home page, from the county homepage search for Foster Care Training. This will get you to step one, an info session. It might take me a few days but I will respond to questions, and yes you can share my info with those discerning this calling. I can't promise you will end up with a new born, or a sibling group that fits into your family, but I do know the need is always there. If you jump in and start serving in this way, what is meant to be will find a way to reach you. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Marriage Kids Tell All

As part of a group from our church I am part of leading a discussion on marriage. Trying to get ideas I decided to interview the kids. It was interesting, and sometimes funny, to hear their take on Dad and Mom. The baby did not participate, but everyone else got in on giving their thoughts. 

L~ Age 5 
Dad and Mom tell us to be aware of our decisions. They are aware of their decisions. Sometimes they kiss on the lips, thats a marriage thing, their decision people!

D ~ Age 9 
When things get hard you guys take a deep breath and turn to Faith. Dad and Mom put God first and it is bigger than any hard things. Hard things happen and I think Mom wants to talk, and Dad wants to do things. Lots of times they make a plan together, I think that is part of marriage.

M ~Age 11
If we get in trouble Dad and Mom always talk first, then they are on the same side. It can be frustrating, but it is better. Whatever one decides is the right consequence the other one supports them. They never argue about how to handle things.

N ~ Age 12
Church comes first, Sundays always are a restart day. They taught us when we were little it is the day to check in with God and let worries go. In their marriage, they let Sunday be a fresh start. I want to do that too. They do not have the same sense of humor, but some of us kids are like mom, and some of us kids are like Dad, so maybe all of us help them have a good marriage. 

M~ Age 13
Dad compliments mom, a lot. Like a lot. He never goes a day with out saying she is pretty or a meal was awesome. Sometimes it seems silly even like he will make us all stop and notice her, but I can tell it makes her feel good. Mom will remind us when Dad is not around how much he does for the family, like a sales pitch for Dad. But its important, I think, to support each other in front of the kids.

J-L Age 14 
Dad and Mom give each other really specific compliments, checking in with text, calling each other stuff like that. They communicate well. Mom also makes really good food, does that count? 

A ~ Age 14 
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 
She just wanted to use a quote but I love the simplicity of the one she chose.

J ~Age 16 
On a basic level you guys have annoyingly big hearts, you always take things on but I think it makes you guys closer. You laugh about stuff that might make other people cry. One thing you guys do is take a lot of walks. Talk things out and walk so you don't talk about all the worry things in front of us kids. Sometimes Mom prays outloud. We do a lot as a family, but it seems to work. Me personally, I'll leave my kids at home and go on a cruise, but not you guys!

A Rare Date night! Not a cruise, we have only been aways for a
day or two in 15 years of marriage, but the times we slip out we DO enjoy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Short Break from Social Media, Reality and Distraction.

Social media is an amazing tool, but it's really the face-to-face interaction that makes a long-term impact ~ Felicia Day

To be real from the get go, I lasted 9 days.

That is not very long to deem experiment worthy.

I found in those 9 days I missed having the virtual connection, but I did much better with my real life connections.

The first two days I filled the void with similar things, I used Pinterest online. I read blogs about foster care and adoption, and I browsed online. Day three I skipped my online time in the morning and had coffee at the table with the kids as they filtered down. News flash time, it was a less stressful and a better morning.

Needing to get all the kids out the door, checking for clashing outfits (a real thing) asking about studying for tests and if homework was submitted, negotiating snack choices and last minute checks for fields trips can be exhausting. Hiding in social media while the kids swirl around me is not healthy, but it makes mornings seem less intense.

I would guess Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more, are used by others, like me, to escape or coast. I found taking time to use social media was not all terrible, but overall it took away from my ability to be PRESENT with loved ones and friends.

Social media has given us this idea that we should all have a posse of friends when in reality, if we have one or two really good friends, we are lucky ~Brene Brown

That said, Facebook specifically can be a quilt of things, not just online gossip. I book marked BBC news, my local area page, garage sale sites, School pages and cooking ideas. I check in on a foster care and child welfare site I really enjoy. I find social media can be a fast way to get news and local information. The trick is to use social media and not let it drain and deplete me.

Seeing parties, dinners or events can be painful. I realized much more often the reality is even if I were invited, something with one of the 9 children would likely come up. Unless things happen after bedtime and physically close by for a limited time, I am out, by choice and necessity.

Seeing celebrations makes me happy, and yet there is a disconnect. I feel no substance behind the image. Seeing a first birthday party photo, we do not see the funny moment the cake fell into the pasta salad or smell the amazing baklava someone made, we do not participate in any senses other than sight.

The experiment made me want to be better about seeing people, and accepting the reality of only being able to authentically grow so many friendships and connections. I feel badly for not seeing or liking people's moments. How many photos did I simply miss because they did not hit my news feed? How can I be more present in reality for those friends or family members?

It also created great conversations with the kids, about how social media can effect us, how shutting off our phones for family time is a necessity. We talked about the ease of both complimenting and insulting someone online, and how nerve racking a real conversation can be.

Back to using social media, appreciating the ability to get information and news both global and personal. I feel a new mindfulness about the effect of online connection and want to find more and more ways to be present in community in real space and time.

I have warm coffee in my hands, the smell of waffles mixed with oatmeal in the kitchen, noise machine purring on the stairs as the baby takes his morning nap. The sunlight is bright on a post election day morning, nation and world scrambling to find a type of unity and healing. Counters to clean, mountains of laundry to fold. I have a walk scheduled for later on, a playdate after school, church dinner tonight. I am worried about a list of things, it is real worry not to be pushed to the side.
This moment is very quiet, no pop of noise or color, no commentary or reaction. It is where I am present, feeling the day without filter or distraction.

Senses ~ 3 years ago running into the freezing lake after a late fall Sauna in Ely
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer ~ Psalms 19:14