Back to school 2016

Back to school 2016

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer of 10 ~ We made it to Aug!

After a long break my mind is whirring with thoughts to get down on paper and notes I have made about organizing, traveling and making it through the summer with ten children in the home ranging from newborn to 17 years old. It has actually been a great summer! I say actually because sleep deprivation is hard, navigating new jobs with teens is hard and having three kids with permits but no extra hard!

Traveling with the kids was an adventure. We slept in one tent and packed everything to fit in a duffel on the back and a topper on the top of the van. We picked up deodorant on the way and new socks at the Nike outlet in Maine. Amazingly the only major thing we forgot were batteries for the camp lanterns night one. We had coffee (key people, key) fun foil pack food, a clothes line, enough mats and blankets to make up for 5 sleeping bags for the 10 of us. It worked! Time on the Island was wonderful, salty, rich with seasonal food and laughter connecting to Sheff's college roommates.

At home I need more bins. I ALWAYS need more bins. I adore a new label and new bin. The possibility of total streamlined family motion. In the door shoes in the bin, papers in your folder, athletic schedule pinned to the board, leftover food in the fridge. Does this happen? Sometimes it does! Other times I look around and instead of defeat I think "More bins!" and off I go to shuffle already filed baskets and create a shiny new label. Ahhh labels.

So, we made it to August. September will bring brand new things, 4 in high schools, 1 private, 2 public, 1 homeschooled! Yes, a new thing we will take on with gusto (and likely some bins) and fresh hope.

As we enter into the dog days of summer I am feeling deep relief that we have a 9 week old baby who sleeps a 6 hour stretch, that we have a toddler who adores books and says new words that me me smile and want to leave the mess to read one more time, that we have healthy children. I even give thanks for kids who are bored, praise be school and books that have never been found are just around the bend.

~ Fathers day with the 10, such an amazing bunch~

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April ~ Robert Frost

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months ba
ck in the middle of March."
-  Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, 1926  

When I was little my Dad would read poetry as I went to sleep and stay up late into the night. When the seasons chnage I think of him and this poem came to mind. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Prayers in the Margins, Time and Documenting the Hard Stuff

When I was a sophomore in college I purchased a prayer book at Sam's club of all places. Some roommates from college had memberships. I had never been in a warehouse store and it was fascinating, now it is a weekly habit. At 19, the idea of needing 10 pounds of hamburger at a time was unfathomable. Now it means two meatloaves and spaghetti sauce for weekly meals. 

The prayer book was already dated when I picked it up in 1997, the pages featuring women with pastel dresses, lots of wicker furniture and primary color clad kids. Hidden with the photos were sound advice and biblical verses. 

I started to jot down worries and moments of answered prayer. My biological father passed away and I wrote about my final conversation with him, simply writing Phoned Ken, he sounded like he was thinking about God. He said he hopes where he goes next will have the sound of birds. I'm sad.  Later on a new note on the same page jotted 5 years later, Praying for an easy birth, thank you Lord for all our blessings. 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Without context these notes are difficult to understand, as a whole it is now 20 years of quick notes. No note is more than a few lines, sometimes a piece of paper is in-between the pages. One is about MMO coming early, praying a bump on his wrist was harmless. It was not, it was a staff infection, he ended up with a broviac IV at home. That same baby caused the entry 14 years old, and six feet, thank you God for our little fighter who has gotten so big.

Many entries are during Lent over the years, things given up and things taken on. Least favorite was giving up coffee in 2010. Most favorite was taking on daily blessings for the children as they left for school in 2009. As I read through these moments of reflection I am awed by the power of memory and grateful for the promise of hope in difficult times. 

Time turns forward today, daylights savings 2017 and I am thanking my teenage college self for taking the time to grab that prayer book. Thanking my younger self for trusting in the collection of tomorrows and writing down snapshots to give my older self perspective.

Psalms for Women, God's Gift of Joy and Encouragement
Published by Honor Books 1989

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.