plans the lord has for us

plans the lord has for us

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

And that Makes a Dozen!

This morning we picked a new baby up from the hospital. I had to wait in a side office while birth mom said goodbye to the little man. He weighs 7 pounds 2oz and carried such a heavy load of sorrow and love in his tiny life span.

After I received the call, I finished walking home with a friend. Of the 4 possible placement calls we have received, Sheff has gotten the call first on the two that have come to our home. And all four calls I have received have been while walking with the same friend at almost the same rotation on a loop in the woods. Perhaps God's sense of humor? The cocoon of the woods, a womb separating me from other needs of the world, and of the other children perhaps.

So yesterday we had court for our foster baby girl who is almost 14 months and we accepted a new born boy. We do not know his full story yet, his mother is young, another child already placed in an adoptive home--we would be open to him being forever one of our gang, but we start with loving him fully while we wait. His mother's pain is not to be discounted or washed away.

As I think of the quietness of the woods, of choices people make when they are lonely or scared, I think of how I can be a source of healing. His mother has made his start difficult in some ways, and the state had no choice but to get him somewhere safe. Our job is to be respectful but also to celebrate. It is OK to rejoice that he is with us. It is OK for the children to run home off the bus excited to meet this little roommate. It is OK to say he is lucky, he is! He is here, he made it out of his own woods. He will be loved and cherished as we are his family......for now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The First Three Months as a Foster Family

Some things are very similar, the way I cook, the days I clean and how I respond to stress. When things get overwhelming I clean, I cook and I pray. I would like to work on reversing that order:)

Some things have changed. We have a lot more laundry, it is just a fact with eleven people I need to wash clothes and rags daily. One trick we have for health is we have a drawer of washcloths next to the sink and small towels in baskets in our bathrooms. Those are washed daily so any germs do not have a chance to live on with sponges or towels used by so many hands. This trick has worked for years but requires being on top of the laundry.

I also have found I have had to cut back on any commitments that require me to be solo. If mom is gone for a few hours it's hard on everyone. Dad is 100% capable but needed specifically for patching drywall (this has been a skill used far to often lately, little boys who love sports get bigger! Our basement should be a full on gym) math help and one on one time after busy days.

Above main photo is Mom holding baby Mick after geting home from adopting A and J, this photo is of Jr giving our sweet Foster Baby his rose from the Highschool Basketball ceremony. It was a great moment. 
I find that I have to rethink things I could have said yes to before in order to be present for the kids and keep up with food, laundry, homework and just plain time to talk.

The kids are thriving having a baby join us. It is wonderful perspective to put someone else first, to focus on the baby rather than friendship dynamics at school. They all
love seeing her firsts, smiles, shaking her head no to make them laugh, standing on her own and EVERYONE clapping. She is soaking up the love like a Minnesotan on spring break.

The logistics, the sense of respect for difficulty between birth family and foster family and time to fit in meetings and visits are very real. Foster Care requires being open to the unknown while responding with love and a gentle spirit. It has been a challenge to not be able to "power through" and just "get 'er done" that is often the way my personality leans.
The little girls now means three! D, L and Baby Girl

Many people have asked "how can you do this without knowing the outcome?" I think the honest response is, because it is good work, important work. Birth families need help sometimes, we ALL need support and prayer. Sheff and I have been blessed with 8 amazing kids, kids who WANT to give back and help out. Loving a baby, or kids, who come in our door will need to be one decision at a time. But it is worth it, that is why we can do it!

For now I need lots of Auidible/Overdrive and Netflix show recommendations to make the laundry go by faster, humor for the crazy days I share with friends and prayers for all the children we can't help in our home but who I wish we could!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pre-Teens, Teens and Communication

Communicating with teens can be frustrating because their own ideas and needs are so paramount. Having six from 10 to 15 in the house right now, we are loving the new personalities forming and finding new struggles. The glasses of self, filter out others more often then we would like. What I have seen lately with our teens is they often WANT to do better but do not have the tools. The first response might be frustration, but if we meet them with patience the outcome is so much better. 

If the teen is feeling like something is not fair, figuring out why he feels that way is step one rather than telling him our totally reasonable request. Logic, does not calm a teen down. Listening often does. We like the below re phrasing, found from a foster care resource "Teach Love" gives specific ideas. Times we try to think outside the box and look for new ways to communicate we are usually met with MORE respect and understanding from our teens. 

Lastly, humor is the best diffuser out there! Laughing about how poorly we as parents or they as kids, handled something leads to great conversations. Having our faith as our family rock allows for common ground, the fact that God is much bigger than our current struggle puts perspective front and center, always a good thing. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Life Today & Foster Care

Having adopted three of our children, given birth to five and now fostering a baby girl, I love the quote from Judy landers above. I have found motherhood has pain and sweetness in each day. The ability to be a "good mother" has much more to do with doing my best than striving for perfection. I have made mistakes but the best connection with my children seems to be when we heal together after something hard. Expectations for a test that is failed bring out stories of my own failures, the kids open up about why something is difficult. We grow so much more on those days than on the A+ celebrations (those are fun too:)

Foster care is a privilege and a journey that is bringing our kids together in laughter and service. Cleaning up the floor in seconds as she crawls along, running a blanket up to mom, being quiet after baby is in bed and making silly faces at each other. It has been sweet and kind, the energy that joined us. There have been hard days, too much laundry, all 9 kids of the house needing mom right that second! Dad needing to work, yup, it would be great if Dad did not need to go at all, he is my champion and rock every day.

Thank you Lord for this new challenge, thank you for your guidance and most of all, thank you for the love this family shares each day.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thankful for Mismatched Socks

Thankful Poem

Thankful for noise, because it means children are in the house.

Thankful for needing to budget, it makes the treats more meaningful.

Thankful for cold to remind me of the beauty of all the seasons and the warmth of a roaring fire. 

Thankful for too much to eat, when I know how many go without.

Thankful for family fights, with out the fights we would not have the humor of our token ice breakers. 

Thankful for mess, I de stress cleaning. 

Thankful for mess, it means creativity, good food and make believe.

Thankful for scratched floors, it means chairs were dragged to make a fort.

Thankful for my husband's cracked hands, it means he has been working hard to support us.

Thankful for my softer hands in means hours of hands coated in vaseline inside kitchen gloves scrubbing off the nourishment from the night before.

Thankful for hours of laundry, I always wanted a big family.

Thankful for crazed Sunday mornings dashing five minute late to Church, the service always holds extra peace and hope for the week ahead.

Thankful for baskets of mismatched socks, it gives the youngest a job to sort.

Thankful socks now come with different colored toes and that miss matched is "in"

Thankful for the pace of life, it means we have people to see and places to be.

Thankful to have muddy kids and muddy shoes, it means we were out there in it, nature as a playground.

Thankful for yoga pants, or "yogurt pants" as a young Daisy would say.

Thankful for new babies, just because.

Thankful for big kids, and those in the middle, still needing hugs from Mom.

Thankful that over sharing is alright with many so that saying I "need" a walk to a dear friend is entirely truthful.

Deeply thankful for those friends new and old, thankful for my husband and his strength of character  thankful for my children all eight on the days they ask me "do you still love me" (I always do) and on the days they make my pride spill over.

Thankful for the hardest of days, my faith is always strongest then.


Deirdre McCarrell Otis Thanksgiving 2014
I left the house a mess to go sledding with the kids, THANKFUL
for  being active so I can keep up with them &  run the hills.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015 ~ Traditions & New Stages

The highlight was Grandma Boo's skeleton made entirely of vegetables, it rocked! We carved pumpkins because wonderful neighbors gave us 9 from their garden. We roasted the seeds and had fun creating shapes, mom and dad can't help anyone so it was time intensive but they were so proud of their cats, minions and monsters. 

Banana created a "stick" man with neon glow sticks, J-L was a prison breakout, Big M was captain America and even went to a party with Miss Captain America! Great was a zombie skeleton, don't take his candy! Little M was "Michael Jordan Zombie" and Miss D was a fancy skeleton! Little Lu was brave and had a blast using her costume over the last month. 

Annual 8
Captain America x2

The other fun tradition that we made up when the oldest was a toddler is that the Great Pumpkin comes and eats all the candy and leaves a gift for each child. I had never actually seen the Charlie Brown special and totally messed up the idea of what the Great Pumpkin is! So the Otis Great Pumpkin is similar to Switch the Witch or the Candy Fairy. But our tradition stuck and lots of jokes about obese pumpkins not being able to fit in and out the door have been born, sigh. The candy "eaten" by the Great Pumpkin goes to soldiers over seas. This year our church is doing it for us (post Halloween Candy drive sent to troops) but in past years driving it to a local hospital completed the fairy tale.

Great Pumpkin Morning display
The oldest stayed home and handed out candy this year, his favorite treat was eating taco bar and being cozy by the outside fire. We said he should be a lumberjack, he said "how about a freshman too old to go trick or treating?" He won.

Wash seeds, spray cookie sheet with oil,  raw seeds in at 350 degrees and cover with garlic salt.
When golden brown they are done.


Pumpkin Carvers

Dad's Dancing Goat Pumpkin!

Pirate Pumpkin Carver


Our Brave Scottish Warrior
Mom with Pumpkins

Another great holiday in the books, I have to rally each year as it is not my personal favorite holiday. But I love seeing costumes and creativity. 

How many days until I can put up the Christmas tree? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Adding a Little Music to Our Home...What a Cool Organization!

Today Lu, Grandma Boo and I, went on a treasure hunt for a used piano. I have wanted for a long time to have music lessons, but with life and sports we have not been able to make it happen. One of my prized memories of the holidays is that my mother could always get us started with "Joy to The World" on the piano. Now with budding singers, and kids who want to learn, it was time to find a piano. In true Otis fashion we decided to find something used but fabulous.

We found Keys4Kids on Grand Ave in Saint Paul, thanks to Grandma Boo. The sales person was lovely, so kind and even added on a stool because I was worried not enough kids could sit side by side on the piano bench.

There are also pieces of pianos and wonderful wood for sale and they will barter if you buy other items. I found a great piece of wood I am hoping to have Sheff add hooks to, you could also create a headboard with box springs.

Now to find a teacher to come to our home! Please contact me if you know of anyone who might come to us and do multiple kids lessons. Investing in music is new for us, and exciting.

Our new, used, piano! Keys4kids will tune, clean and deliver.