Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WIC-wacked

Growing up, I saw my parents struggle, live paycheck to paycheck and after my parents divorced I watched my mom take on as many as three jobs at a time to make ends meet. My parents worked hard and would probably die before asking for help. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree as I too am too prideful to ask for help and I vowed to myself that I would not have to struggle like my parents did. I went to college, got a great degree and a great job and to me, I made lots of money. Life is funny though, and somehow, we felt the need to give that up, to go on one income. Even still, Clint makes good money, we won't struggle to put food on the table etc. Yes, there won't be as many vacations and material things, but somehow I'm thinking we won't really miss that.
So, back to the prideful business. Foster kids 5 and under qualify for WIC. So, Mr. T qualifies to get formula through WIC. Can we afford it without WIC? Of course, but hey, if they are going to offer it, why not put that money towards spoiling him in other ways :) But that means, having to go get it. I had NO idea how it worked. Mr. T had a doctor appt. on Friday and the WIC office was next door so I thought, why not run by and get us signed up? Oh, how wrong I was! Nope, need an appt. They could get me in Monday morning. Okay, I can handle that because Clint was going to burn a vacation day that day anyway and then I could leave Mr. T with him. Front desk guy though insisted that Mr. T had to be present, despite the hospital waiver saying he didn't have to be due to his prematurity. So, I admit to going in a little ticked off because I may be slightly over protective when it comes to Mr. T!
Sunday, I came down with a major sore throat and body aches. I had Clint do the night feedings so that I could avoid contact. When I got up Monday, Clint was in a mood and ranting at me because he didn't sleep because Mr. T wouldn't sleep. Again, not helping my attitude. Poor Clint, he just hasn't learned the little tricks that help Mr. T sleep. That, and Clint just doesn't do well with broken sleep.
Anyway, so I show up grumpy, feeling like poo, and staring down anyone who even so much as looks at Mr. T. They of course had to weigh and measure him. Again, I may be a little OCD when it comes to Mr. T, but I will NOT let him get sick on my watch, so I was sporting some nice gloves and face mask when handling him. I'm sure they all thought I was a freak. In total, I was there for 2.5 hours! It was pure agony. Everyone was nice, but I hate having to go over a million times on how to properly feed a baby and wash/sterilize bottles. That, and having it stressed to me that this was supplemental and to save up to buy the remainder was hard to swallow too. In the end we made it out with our Lone Star card, yay!
But then it came time to USE said Lone Star card. I went to Wally World to do some grocery shopping and pick up his formula for the month. They were completely OUT! Argh! So, came home, dropped off groceries, ate dinner, and then headed out again. Target was the closest to us so I headed there. I looked for the WIC signs on the doors but didn't see them. I then walked back to the formula and they had several cans. Great! But I wasn't seeing the WIC markers. I didn't want to go up to the cashier and ask about it in front of everyone. So, I found an old woman that worked for Target that was stocking stuff in the baby dept. I quietly asked her if they took WIC/LS. She then gets on her walkie-talkie, "HEY, DO WE GOT WIC HERE?!" Oh Lordy, kill me now! I quickly made it look like I wasn't the one asking as I pretended to shop for baby clothes. She of course didn't know so I had to brave the cashiers. I get to the front and there is a cashier all by herself, great! I ask if they take Lone Star. "HEY, DO WE TAKE LONE STAR?!" she shouts over to another cashier. Ugh! The lady replies back that they do. So, scan my many cans of formula and then try to use my card. Nope! They don't have the card reader she tries a few different things and then turns on her 'light' to get some assistance. By this time, people are lining up behind me and I just want to DIE! By the time the helper comes by, they of course say they can't take it and I have to walk out empty handed.
So, next closest, Albertson's. I once again, don't see the WIC stickers on the door. I got back to the formula though and see the WIC markers. Praise the Lord! I grab my allotted cans and head to the front. The cashier sees the cans and they aren't the typical WIC cans because Mr. T is on special formula due to his prematurity. So, she questions me about it and I tell her that WIC approved it. "Well, go ahead and try then, we had trouble with Lone Star earlier." Fabulous! Anyway, she rings them up and I slide in my card and it works! Woohoo! In my excitement and desperate need to flee the scene I rip out my card. "Whoa! What happened? See, it screwed up again!" But it was working, I just took out my card. "What? You can't take out your card until it says so. Let me get some assistance." Seriously? I'm sorry, I'm a foster mom, I don't know how this works! Yeah, I'm not sure blurting out that I was a foster mom was helping my case as people tend to have a pretty negative view of foster families as well (in it for the money, yada yada). But people were lining up again and I had to say something! I put my card back in and made sure to NOT remove it until the little machine said so and then dashed to my car!
I came home and told Clint about my escapades. While I was thoroughly embarassed, I had to laugh at myself too. Pride, it can be an evil thing!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fasten your seat belts and hold on tight!

I just expected everything to be slow; this whole foster/adopt process. Getting our license took a long time, however, a large part of that was on us because of my wanting to work as much of this year as possible. And I just assumed that once we were licensed and on the list, that it would just take time. I mean, our adoption agency hadn't done a placement in WEEKS when we were added to the list. Then, two weeks after being on the list (and already getting two previous calls that didn't work out for various reasons) we were placed with the newborn baby girl. As mentioned in my previous post, she could and DID get placed with an Aunt. While it was only 12 days with baby girl, it was 12 blessed and great days and we cried our eyes out when she left.
Losing them is part of it and is expected. You have to go in knowing you will get hurt. We managed to put back on our big girl/boy panties and trudge on. TWO days later, we get the next call. ANOTHER newborn. This time, a little boy...and I mean little, he was born at 34 weeks! Again, I am just gushing with love and excitement for this little one. How in the world were we blessed with TWO sweet, angel newborn babies?! So far, it looks like he will be with us for a few months at least and possibly forever (oh how I can only hope!). I just can't kiss him enough and I'm sure he's already like, 'mom, puhleeze, back it up', but I don't care, he's just gonna have to deal with it!
But wait, there's more! Along the way, we've been submitting ourselves for some legal risk adoptions. These are adoption placements where parental rights are 99% sure to be terminated, but of course there is always that chance, so hence the 'risk' part...risk of a broken heart. However, they like to move these kids to an adoptive placement so that bonding and attachment can begin. We were told that we could submit for as many as we liked and that it was a good idea to submit on several as these are broadcasted all across the state of Texas, meaning LOTS of people will be submitting.
On Tuesday, Buckner contacted us to let us know that we were selected as a top 3 for one of these placements! Now, that doesn't mean we get him, just that we are in the running with two other families. It then goes to staffing with the foster family, CPS, adoption case workers, etc. and they try to pick No. 1. Then, No. 1 will get to read through all of the files and make a decision on yes or no. So, we are in consideration at the moment.
But wait, there's more! We were then contacted on Friday because we have been selected as a top three for ANOTHER kid (baby). Seriously?! Staffing for both boys is on Tuesday so Buckner will have to get caseworkers in both as the boys files are being discussed.
So, we could be looking at none, one, or even BOTH! And of course, we still have baby boy, 'Mr. T.' here with us. Could be some big decisions at the end of the week for us as this good be our forever family! Again, I'm still in shock at all of the 'possibilities' so quickly when I expected a whole lot of silence and 'wait and see'. We may be seeing lots of blue after this week :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Placement!

Well, who knew that a week and a half after my last post we would get a placement! And we didn't just get a placement, we got THE placement! A new born baby girl! And she's not just any baby girl, she is PRECIOUS! I seriously cannot put into words how adorable, perfect, and wonderfully made she is! Not only is she beautiful, but she is sweet to boot. We are definitely being spoiled by her easy going attitude. She eats, sleeps, repeat. We have been warned that this is the honeymoon phase and that it won't be long until things get difficult. However, I don't care if she was crying all the time (other than being upset that she was not happy or in pain), I'd still love her to death! We have had such great joy showing her off and everyone agrees, she's amazing! It's been great fun to let everyone dote on her. She deserves all the spoiling she can get!
Our time with her is most definitely short term and will probably not be a forever placement. In fact, there is a family member that wants to take her and if the judge decides next week that this family member is fit to take her, we would lose her that very day. Foster care is such a mix of emotions. We are blessed to have been given the opportunity to care for her and love on her and letting her go is going to be the hardest thing to do. However, we do unerstand that family is best and if this relative truly is a good person that can care and provide for her, then she should be returned to her family.
With that, we are loving her with all our might while she is here and she'll even get to go to Thanksgiving with us and meet the most awesome Nana ever! :) And Nana can't wait to get some squeezes in!
By deciding to go the foster to adopt route, we never expected to get to experience newborn-hood. What a blessing to have the opportunity as it is such a sweet and special time. We are honored. And hopefully, we aren't messing up too bad. I took her to her one week follow-up doctor appt. and her doctor says that we are doing a great job, whew! :) She is gaining weight and is perfectly healthy. Couldn't ask for more!
And a follow-up to my last p0st. We were able to complete our final two hours of training through an online/over the phone conference call. So, until next year, we can now take a break!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Training, training, training

Before I get to the heart of my post, I apologize for my pity party in my previous post. I'm better than that! I suppose I was just feeling alone and helpless, but we are going to get through all of this and I am a strong person and whining is so not flattering :)

Fosterland has already proven to be a roller coaster. We ended up not keeping the baby for respite after all (family decided not to go out of town). We've been asked for respite twice and both have cancelled. Hmmm, I'm beginning to think we smell or something :)

We went on the list on Nov. 1st and we were called for a placement on Nov. 2nd! I was knocked almost speechless and thought she was joking. I won't go into specifics since it didn't work out, but the placement was for two kids who were in a county that was 2.5 hours away. We said yes, knowing what that meant...driving to and from for weekly visits, but in the end, they were able to find a closer family which was the best thing for those kids. I could just imagine those poor kids having to sit FIVE hours in a car round trip each week...not to mention that visitations are already stressful enough as it is!

So for now, I'm still at work and we're just trucking along. My mom came for a visit this weekend and it was just what I needed! We went shopping for a few things that we felt like we could go ahead and buy such as toiletries (hair brushes, toothbrush, soap/shampoo), some sippy cups, etc. and we did go ahead and buy one childseat. We figure even if we were to get an infant, they would eventually progress to the car seat. We still couldn't get much, but I feel a little better and hopefully will be slightly less overwhelmed when we do get a placement.

Now, my topic for today which I will fully admit to being a RANT! But before I take off, know that while we get frustrated, we are willing to do what it takes in fosterland and it would take something much more than measley training hours to rock our boat, but they certainly don't make things easy sometimes! Also, I honestly don't mind training, I love learning knew things! And want to know as much as possible about helping these children! But, I admit that so much of our training I felt was severly lacking or not helpful.

Back in September when we were handed our license our case worker said that we had to have 20 hours of training a year, which we knew. I thought, well, we've got that in the bag! Nope! She was prorating us for 16 hours. Do what?! So all of that training we've done so far didn't count? Nope! So, here's a breakdown of the training we had so far this year:

PRIDE: 24 hours (? It was 3, 8 hour days)
Psychotropic Medication Training: 2 hours
CPR/First Aid: 3 hours
SAMA: 6 hours
Adoption Specific Training: 6 hours
Brain Development and Trauma: 2 hours
Education Services Training: 2 hours
HIPPA training: 1 hour

That's 45+ hours right there! I get that we are new and need to be prepared, but that's all the training on top of the applications, home study, home inspection, fire inspection, obtaining a will and life insurance, floor plans, evacuation plans, and on and on. With all of that, we only get 16 hours??

Fine.

However, our case worker added that our four remaining hours needed to be 'real' training and not self study since we were new (you're generally allowed to take up to 6 hours through online or self-study). Seriously? For reals! Alrighty. But, our casework said that she would look into putting some training together for us and we even had a discussion on what training we would be interested in. Once we came up with a couple of topics she said she would put something together and would get back to me and that they could work around our schedule. Okay, that makes me feel better about the training hours we still needed to obtain.

So, I e-mailed our caseworker on Oct. 31st to let her know we were still willing to go on the list on Nov. 1st and that I hadn't heard anything about the training and had she looked into that yet. I receive an e-mail back saying that Buckner doesn't have any remaining training until after the first of the year and here are some places in Tyler with training and to look there. Whoa, back that up? So, that whole convo back in September was just to appease me from getting upset over the four hours and she really had no intentions of putting anything together for us? Had I known she wasn't going to do anything, I would have been looking into training so that we could get the ball rolling. When it comes to foster care tasks, I want to check them off my list and check them off now! I don't want to risk us being at fault at all!

I'm now irritated. Fine, I'll find my own training, but some of it now gets to be self-study since apparently we've slept since September and don't remember that conversation. I found a 4 hour training for last Saturday morning and signed us up! Bam! We'd be done! Well, here's where 'I' make myself mad! We show up to the site and no one is there! Perhaps it's now time for a smart phone (we say we'll get them when our current cell phones die..but they just won't give up! Clint has dropped his so many times and had to piece it back together, but it keeps on working, argh!). Turns out, they do their training at another site. My fault for not realizing this, but man, throw me a freakin' bone here people!

So, I tell Clint to book it back to Longview so that we can go to a training at Fellowship Bible. It's on brain development and trauma. Yes, you read that right, the training that I already had hours for, but didn't count. EXACT. SAME. THING. Oh well, I truly loved listening to him and was sad that Clint had missed it so it was still worthwhile. We get back to Longview and pull up just in time. The coordinator for the training is standing there at the door however with a worried look...speaker isn't there. Seriously?! I was feeling like a toddler in foster care and about to rage and tantrum on the ground right there! Fortunately, she was able to get in touch with him and turns out it wasn't on his schedule. He was coming, but would be a bit since he was coming from Hallsville. I'm so glad it worked out and in the meantime we got to talk to others in this foster/adopt world which I always enjoy!

I know this is only the beginnings of the frustrations with the system and I get that and am ready for it. Sometimes I just need to vent. And sadly, part of this training fiasco was my own fault! Dumb, dumb! I have found some online training for our other two hours so we'll get this training wrapped up for the year, just so we can do it all again next year!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Activation Day!

Well, October went by in a blur and here we are at November 1st! The day we said to put us on the 'list'! I can't believe we are finally here! Now, it's just a matter of time and waiting for the special call. Clint and I are pretty patient and if it takes awhile, it takes awhile. God has his plan and his special timing. Everyone around us seems to be standing on their heads though :) As I've said before, we've got many years to be parents.

I finally had the courage to talk with my employer a few weeks ago about once we get the call, that's the end for me. He took it well and was understanding. Such a relief. That, and I am so happy that we don't have to worry about daycare, etc. now. I have one big project that I am working on, but if we get the call and I am not done, I don't mind coming in the evenings/weekend to wrap it up. Everything seems to be falling into place.

Our trip to Aruba was wonderful! I need to do a post just on our vacation! We took so many pictures. It is an absolutely beautiful island!

We got to babysit a precious little baby girl last Thursday and will get to keep her this coming weekend as her foster family goes out of town so we are looking forward to that. I am anxious to get to know the local foster families better as I know I will definitely be leaning on them for support! I think Buckner has a pretty great group though! Which is good, because we have had NO success (other than one other future foster family, thank you Mikki!) in finding anyone willing to babysit for us (we have to put together a list). Not that we plan to go out on the town every night, but I know there will be times where we need 'us' time. I miss my best friends who unfortunately don't live here. I miss having people who would do anything for you and who I would do anything for in return. I don't have any close connections like that here in Longview and I just don't get to see my friends near enough. It's frustrating and what had me close to moving before Clint came along. Anyway, I did not mean to go off on that tangent, but it's just really weighing on my mind (especially after getting a call from my best friend who is really going through a difficult time and I hate that we are so far apart). And who knows, perhaps people aren't willing to be listed as a babysitter because they are scared of foster kids or think that having a backround check is too invasive or don't want to have to come to our house to babysit. We were the ones willing to take on the hoops, others may not, nor should they be obligated to do so.

So, here we are in November, patiently waiting :) Who knows, perhaps we'll have an extra guest (or two) at the Christmas table.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Starting to become REAL

We received THIS on Tuesday:






Our license for foster care! If we wanted to, we could get a call today! But we won't because we requested to be activated on November 1st so that we can get through our vacation, etc.


It seemed like such a long journey to get to this point and at times didn't seem like we would ever really get to here, but we made it! Of course, our work is not done...and never will be as long as we are fostering. I discovered that our home will be inspected every quarter unless we have children in our home and then it will be every month. Of course, then there's the 20 hours of annual training as well. But we'll bask in the time-being that we made it to this milestone and the fact that Buckner deems us worthy of such an important role.


I'm starting to have some panic moments. Originally, we were counting on one child, with two being the exception. However, we were told that with being open to two, that this was huge, so now we know that two is more likely and one will be the exception. TWO? Can I handle two?? Heck, can I handle one? I'm realizing how little I know. I've been trying to read and read, but the stack just gets taller rather than smaller. We have to come up with a daily schedule for their week. I don't know what we are going to do from day to day!


We don't have anything! No sippy cups, bottles, clothes...hard to buy stuff when you don't know what you are getting! Yes, we will get these things once they are here, but I am overwhelmed with all of the THINGS we will need to get.


I read a blog of someone talking about how her mom leaving after being there for 10 days to help out with the newborn baby. I'm not going to have that! I'm going to be all alone, left to care for children I know nothing about!


Don't get me wrong, I am so so excited, but for some reason getting that piece of paper handed to me put the 'scary' in overdrive for me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A New Toy!

I've been waiting and waiting until I could purchase this:

A DSLR camera!! Obviously this picture was NOT taken with the new camera. I am always so envious of just about everyone elses pictures. Of course, like with bike riding, just because one buys a fancy bike, does not make them a great cyclist...so goes for photography as well. And I admit to being totally clueless about photography. Just taking the camera out of the box was scary, like holding a newborn baby that you are terrified of dropping! And all those knobs and buttons? Eeeks! Where's the 'on' button?


I'm determined though! We will have pictures of our lives! Being able to get the camera now comes at the perfect time because we will have to put together lifebooks for any foster children that we take in to our home. I want these kids to have good pictures because they may be the only ones they get from childhood!


In addition to reading the owner's manual, I'll be starting off with a beginner photography class through the parks and rec. department, which starts next Tuesday. I hope it will be a good place to get my feet wet, ask questions, and learn about other resources for additional learning. What I'm already reading/hearing so far is that really, it just comes with practice and to do that, you have to take LOTS of pictures. I'll have to take lessons from Clint in that department. I'll carry our little point and shoot everywhere and not take a single picture. If Clint gets a hold of the camera, you'd think his finger would get a cramp with all the pictures he takes. On our honeymoon, we had bought an underwater camera and I handed it to him. He was through all the pics before we even hit the fish on our snorkeling trip, ha


I am thinking about setting up a 365 blog so that I am forced to take a picture every day. Our lives aren't exciting, so would probably not be of interest to anyone else, but at least it would get me in the habit of taking pictures and practicing with different settings. I am excited about my new little hobby. And I am thankful to Justin at Best Buy (yes, if you want to buy a camera here in Longview, seek out Justin!...or James, he is supposedly good too). We went to pick out our camera on a Tuesday evening and I bet I waited a good 30-45 min. before I got ANY help. I was just about to give up and go buy my camera in Tyler when Justin appeared. I had done some light research on the internet and decided that I wanted the Nikon D3100. My parents had the D3000 and were happy with theirs and this was one step up from that one. The features seemed good (not that I know anything) and was in the price range I was willing to spend. Mr. Geek Squad really took me through the cameras and showed me the operation of each and I decided to go Canon. It just seemed so much more user friendly and I need all the 'ease of operation' I can get! And I think the camera I bought was actually a little step up from the Nikon I was looking at.


So, hopefully this blog starts to get a little more colorful :) And I'll post the link to a 365 blog if I decide to go with it...just prepare yourself for lots of dog and bike pictures until kids come in the picture, ha! However, I can't post pictures of the kids until/if they are adopted, so yeah, did I mention dogs and bikes? :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Brain Matter

On Tuesday night I attended one of Buckner's training sessions on Brain Development and Trauma. It wasn't a required training, but can go towards future needed training hours. However, it had nothing to do with 'doing the time' I was genuinely interested in the topic and I am so glad that I went! I wish Clint had been able to attend. He was unfortunately out of town for work.

A lot of what Dr. Winstead told us we had touched on in PRIDE, etc., but he told it with science and factual terms that really hit home to me! These kids that come in to foster care aren't 'messed up' and behave badly just because they were hurt in some way, their brains have actually been underveloped in certain areas, effecting their ability to self regulate. And regulation is the core of survival of this world!

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me (after hearing we were adopting from foster care), "well, at least you are getting them young before they get all 'messed up' (people LOVE to use that term." If only I could have plopped them down in this class for them to grasp the realization that trauma and brain development start even before they are born! Now, while the training session really hit home the cold hard facts of what these kids have been dealt in life, there was hope too. They can overcome these circumstances (okay, I won't say ALL can, but you get my point) with some (LOTS) work on our parts as parents.

However, our paths to get these kids to be responsible, self-sufficient adults will have to be different than the 'typical' path. Logic and consequences DON'T work for these kids. This is going to be a HUGE learning curve for me. I mean, I'm an Engineer for crying out loud, logic is all I know! But I'm willing to learn new tricks.

Throughout the session, I kept seeing my girls that I mentored last year. Oh, how I failed them! No, these girls weren't orphaned, etc., but I know their home lives were not good, definitely dealing with trauma in various forms. These girls were sent to me because of their bad behavior and while I knew they were 'bad' because they weren't shown the 'right' way at home, it runs so much deeper than that! Their lives were a state of disregulation! I was catching on though, I saw how they melted at simply complimenting them on their smarts, etc. Gosh, I bet they rarely heard that. In the end, I was quite frustrated with their teacher (although admittedly I was never in her class nor had to deal with what she had to on day to day matters) because I felt like they could do no right. After what I learned on Tuesday, I know there were better ways to handle those girls. I pray that teachers down the line will give them a chance, be the encourager they need!

Overall, it was a VERY informative 2 hour session. All through PRIDE, etc. we had it crammed down our throats that these kids were hurt, grieving, sad, mad and the list goes on, but we kept saying to ourselves, okay, so what are some effective tools we can use to HELP these kids! This training session did just that!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Better keep my day job...

...cause I'm a horrible blogger! Three months! Really?! This year has been an absolute whirlwind. Life truly does seem to go by faster the older you get. Our summer has been jam-packed (and not with a vacation, but that's coming soon!). I suppose we are trying to get in our last hoorah's before life takes a big change. So, a quick recap:


  • Racing! Clint's been doing lots and I've done a little. Clint has done several road races and two triathlons since I last wrote and I've done two triathlons. It's been fun! Our club race is in a month! I originally had high hopes for it, but there has just been so much else going on and I'm learning that triathlon just can't be number one like it was back in my single days and I'm fine with that. It's a hobby and should be kept that way! Clint is done with triathlons for this year, but is doing lots of road racing up through the first part of October.

  • Job situation is still a big question mark and I just take it day by day. My boss has still not made any concrete decisions about the company and I'm okay with that. Whatever is to be, will be and we will be fine with it. Regardless of the company's future, I am out of here on December 16th! Having an official day makes things much more...well, official! I'm anxious, nervous, excited, terrified...but, I'm ready to tackle this next season of life.

  • Vacation! We booked our last big 'adult' vacation for awhile to ARUBA! We can't wait! We will be going in mid-October and we are counting down the days!

  • Nursery - I was a painting machine this summer! We repainted the walls, which turned out to be a slight issue on my part, but it all worked out, just involved more time. Then, I bought a glider at a garage sale and thought I would just restain it to a color I liked, no problem. Ummm, I will NEVER stain wood again! I had no idea how difficult it would be! Stripping alone was such a pain and in the end, I should have just bought a new glider. Darn me and my cheapness! The stain turned out horrible so I just painted it in the end. Then, I had this 'great' decorating idea. It involved lots of painting of frames and wooden figures. All of which needed a coat of primer and two coats of paint. In the end, it wasn't quite as 'great' as I had invisioned in my mind, but the room is finished! In the process we also bought a new crib (and changing table) since the crib my sister gave me was a drop side crib and they are NOT allowed for foster care, even if you brace the drop side. My mom also made the bedding and curtains and those are definitely the highlight of the room!

  • Coaching - I took the USAT Level 1 coaching certificaiton clinic in Memphis in June. I've been so busy that I'm still working on the test, but should be finished soon. I'm hoping that I can do some coaching once I am no longer working. Will be great to keep my mind busy and I think will be lots of fun.

  • Volunteering - I am slowly relieving myself of duties in various organizations. I still want to be involved and hope to hold leadership positions down the line, but with so much uncertainty and 'newness' of what next year will be, I'm trying to take a back seat for now so as not to be overwhelmed in the future. I'll need some time to find my new normal before I jump back in to things. I'm still keeping some things though such as working in the church nursery (3-4 yr olds).

Now, the most important of all, our foster to adopt journey. Obviously by the nursery talk, we haven't given up! It's just taken awhile to get our stuff taken care of with everything else in life we have going on. Well, we are ALMOST there! We had our fire inspection on Thursday and our last interview for the home study (and that was WAAAAAAAAY less painful than I thought it was going to be!) on Friday. Our case worker said she would have her report written up in a couple of weeks. After that, we have to get a health and safety inspection of our home and then 'fingers crossed' that is it! However, after thinking things through and talking with our case worker, we have decided not to submit ourselves for licensing until after we return from our vacation in October. Then, they are going to note that we would prefer to wait until I finish up work in December, but I just can't stand the thought of a little one needing a safe, loving home before then and there not being anyone that can take them and here we have everything completed! So, I need to start contacting some daycares in the area in case we get a call in the 7 week interim. I need to find a place that is willing to take in a young one at a moment's notice. Thankfully, that scenario will be short term!


So, right now we are enjoying are last weeks of being fancy free, getting our ducks in a row financially, mentally, spiritually, etc., and just enjoying 'us' because we hope it's not just 'us' for long! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Great Weekend!

This past weekend, Clint and I had a fun, and relaxing time. It was definitely needed. It started off with me taking a vacation day on Friday, giving me a three day weekend. The point of taking Friday off was so that I could volunteer at church (more in a bit) and get some things accomplished around the house. Well, I accomplished ZERO at the house, but did get a lot done. Here's what Friday looked like:




  • Up at 4:30 am to go to 5:00 am swim.

  • Back home to eat breakfast and get laundry going (okay so I guess I accomplished a little bit at the house)

  • Grocery shopping

  • Back home to put away groceries and fold laundry

  • Drop off Clint's bike at the bike shop to get his brakes switched out for the wheels he borrowed for the Four States Triathlon

  • Volunteer at church putting pinwheels together with special prayers concerning foster/adoption. The Sunday sermon was specifically on this topic and wouldn't you know of all Sundays to miss, we had to miss this one. However, I'm glad I got to work on the pinwheels and read/reflect on the special prayers and get to know others in the Life Matters group. (I also listened to the sermon online on Monday).

  • After church went to check out a boarding place for the pups. I just hate taking them to the vet for boarding. I loved this place! It's called 'Can Rover Come Over' and if you are in Longview and need to take your dogs somewhere, THIS is the place. They also do doggie day care, grooming, bathing, etc.

  • Hobby Lobby to get a project for my girls (unfortunately they were both in trouble and didn't get to see me on Monday. I'm praying next week will be better for them)

  • BooksAMillion for a book for Clint to read while we were out camping

  • Academy to try ONE MORE TIME to find some goggles that work for me. I have had the same pair for 5-6 years because they have been the only ones to work well on my face, but they are on their last leg...scratched so much I can't see and break every time I put them on. I've bought others over the years, but they have been no-go's. Well, I bought ANOTHER pair on Friday (they ended up working great! Thank you, Lord!)

  • Mall to get more Proactive (yes, I'm in my thirties and still break out worse than a teenager!)

  • Run through Chick-fil-A for lunch.

  • Back by shop to pick Clint's bike back up

  • Home to eat, e-mails, hang out just a bit

  • Take dogs to new boarding place and make sure they are going to be okay

  • Sonic Happy Hour!

  • Run by gym to renew my Titan Training contract

  • And home where I had just enough time to start packing and loading for our camping/triathlon trip

Whew! Clint came home from work and we got the last bit loaded before taking off. Stopped for dinner in Atlanta and then on to camping on Lake Wright Patman. We got the tent set up and everything in before the sun went down. We tried going to sleep a little early because we were so tired, but we had some loud neighbors.


Saturday Clint and I tried to sleep in, but the cold air, need to use the bathroom, and crazy loud bird had us up. I was really worried because it was so chilly and cloudy. Fortunately the sun came out in the afternoon and it was a much more pleasant day. In the morning, we just hung out, read, Clint worked on his Adoption Questionnaire, I took a nap. We then decided to go for a walk. We went to the end of our camping area and could see the race site across the cove. There were several boys playing with a volleyball and running around. They warned us about snakes, lol. Their ball went into the water and all but one of them were in the water messing around. The boy who stayed back started up a conversation with us in which he said that he's been to Lake Wright Patman before. I say back, 'Oh yeah? Do you come here often with your family?' He responds back, "No ma'am, I live at the Texarkana Baptist Orphanage." Ugh! That immediately tugged at mine and Clint's heart strings. :( Seemed like a great kid!


Anyway, after that we hung out with Clay and Mikki for awhile before we decided to eat lunch and go for a bike ride on the race course. Clay decided at the last minute he wanted to race too, so we all headed into Texarkana to register Clay and pick up our packets. We then headed to Academy to try to find something for him to race in! Then dinner at the Genghis Grill. I liked it! Can't wait until we get one here now. We then came back to camp, showered, up, hung out by the fire and then called it a night.


Sunday was race day! I won't go into all the details, but we had a great time! Clint placed second overall and I placed third overall for females! And the bonus was that they gave cash prizes to the top three overall males and females! I'm so glad I finally jumped back in to triathlons, I can't believe I took a near three year hiatus.


After the race we broke down camp and headed home. Came home to this!:


A fence! And yes, we need to mow before we lose the dogs out there, but they sure are happy to be able to run free without leashes! We've wanted a fence since we moved in and we were finally able to get one. I think they did a great job!


That evening we went to the Mobberly Tailgate Party and had a lot of fun hanging out with our small group and other church members/visitors. Here's a picture of us (rest on FB):


So that's a very quick recap of our fun weekend! We need more of those! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm losing my job!

And I am THRILLED!! I know, how in the world could someone be happy about losing a job? Well those of you who have been reading along know about my months of wrestling with the issue of becoming a stay-at-home mom. It's what I wanted and feel is right for the children, but I struggled with the guilt of 'throwing away my education', letting others down, living on one income, making a mistake etc. And then of course was the biggie: Telling my boss...the workaholic, the one who could spend 24/7 in the office and never take a vacation. The one who didn't really care for his own wife staying home to be with their kids. I had been waiting and waiting to tell him and then God and his perfect timing came along!

I can't really get into a lot of details, but there are circumstances that my boss is being forced to either get rid of the company and start up a new one or close it up all together. He came into my office on Monday to discuss it with me and asked what my plans were, did I want to do this forever, etc. I was finally able to tell him the big secret! Talk about instant relief! And I know he is feeling relief on his end as well because he knows that he won't be taking a job I wanted/needed out from under me. I am still just amazed at how things all fell into place like they have. Now, there are two other people in this company and nothing has been decided yet so he may decide to keep it going. And if the company does close up shop, I'm not sure of any timelines, etc. either. We should know more here in the next few weeks. I know it is a lot for him to sort through. No matter what though, I am ready and my mind is at peace.

I am just so ecstatic and feel like this huge weight has been taken off. It's also making me realize that we are in fact getting closer to parenthood. We've had to take another adoption specific training class these past two weeks and that is making things sink in more too. We were introduced to other families who have adopted or are in the process of finalizing and they talked about the waiting. The waiting and working through everything hasn't bothered me and I wonder if it should or perhaps it just hasn't hit yet. Right now I stil have 'tasks' to complete so it's active. I think after everything is done and we are truly in wait mode that I might get more anxious.

I hope I will be a good parent. One of our 'tasks' is to complete a questionnaire that asks anything and everything. I feel like I'm having to give a masters thesis to adopt. It asks some pretty tough questions, ones that I'm not sure how to answer and that worries me. Maybe I really don't know what I'm doing or will do. Perhaps I am unfit to be a parent. Lots of thoughts and questions wandering through my mind lately!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In a blink of an eye...

April has just about come and gone! How in the world has almost an entire month gone by with no post?? Well, it's been quite the busy month! However, I don't see May and June really slowing down that much. So here's what we've been up to lately:

We wrapped up our tax season at the VITA site. Our site coordinator was hoping that we would complete around 343 returns total so that we would have a 25% increase from last year and we had over 350 so we reached her goal! I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot. Depending on the kid situation and how things are going next year, I'd like to do it again. We shall see. We have a wrap up party/cookout this weekend to discuss what went right, wrong, and what we'd like to see changed for next year.

We went down to Houston and Galveston on April 9th/10th. Clint competed in Ironman 70.3 Galveston while I hung out with my best friend in Houston. Clint did really well I thought, but he was a little bummed that he didn't break 5 hours (he came in 5:01 and some change and it was crazy windy. Close enough in my book!). I'm just glad he didn't have any major catastrophes as the craziest things seem to happen in his big races...like getting a rock IN his foot and having to go to the ER afterwards to get it removed (he ran the entire 13.1 miles with it in his foot too) or crashing on the bike during a water bottle hand off. Of course, he didn't quite make this race injury free I'd say as he came home with one NASTY sunburn. I enjoyed my time with my best friend and her 2 year old twin boys. I also got to go to a going away party for some friends who are moving to NYC.

I went home to Abilene for part of this Easter weekend to get a crib! Pretty excited about that! Definitely makes things seem more real with that thing sitting in the garage. I had a great visit with my family and got to share in some of the Easter activities with my niece, like dyeing Easter eggs. My mom and I also went fabric shopping for the nursery. I found some fabric that I LOVED at Hancocks, but they didn't have enough. We looked around at other places, but that was still my favorite. I looked for it here in Longview, but they didn't have it. However, they did have it online so I ordered it there! I'm so excited that my mom is doing the bedding and curtains for the nursery. I want them to have something homemade and my mom is awesome at sewing...wish I knew how! I came back home Saturday evening so that I could attend church service on Easter and work in the 3 year olds class during the 11 am service. I love little kids in their Easter finest, adorable! Clint and I also managed to finish priming the nursery room. Now for paint! I've decided on the colors so now just a matter of finding the next window of time to paint it.

We also wrapped up our project for Leadership Longview. Our project day was on April 14th and we had perfect weather for it! Such a fun day. I'll take playing in the dirt any day over sitting in an office! :) The ribbon cutting was the following week on the 20th and we were greeted with a surprise. See, we installed a new greenhouse, garden, flower beds, sitting areas, etc., however, we did not raise enough money to have the place resodded. So, we did the next best thing and seeded it. However, that meant we wouldn't have grass growing by ribbon cutting, but the rest of it looked great. Well, the landscape architect who had been helping us took a look at it the day after project day and was displeased. He had his guys come in there and sod it and replaced our puny trees with much bigger trees. It was awesome! And the ribbon cutting was great, the members of the ARC LOVED their new outdoor area and garden. They were so excited to show it off and would come up and hug us. I think it will be great therapy for them. Graduation day is May 3rd and then this class is officially over. I'm sad and relieved at the same time. I loved getting to know this group and learned SO much, but I'll be honest and say I'll be glad for the break from it all too.

Work has been pretty stressful this month with my boss being out almost the entire month due to a trial in Dallas. The trial itself is pretty scary (won't go into details here) and not having my boss here has put quite the strain on things here at work. I will be so glad once he is back.

On the adoption front, things had been quiet for a few weeks. Almost felt like they forgot about us, however, of course we still got the info in the mail that there was yet ANOTHER 6 hour class that we have to take in May. Well, I finally got an e-mail from Buckner last Thursday. I thought I had done so well going down our list of things we had to turn in. Well, I was given another long list of things needed. Needless to say, we are no where close to a home study like I had thought, which is fine. We really want to wait until after our vacation in October before we take in a child so we have plenty of time. I am somewhat annoyed though that some of the things on the list (like the will and life insurance) I was specifically told could wait until after things progressed towards adoption. Now, they say it has to be done before the home study. Had I known, I would have been working on that already rather than putting it on the back burner. Those things will take a little bit of time, as they are not things you can/should whip out overnight. Again, not really upset and I know this is only the beginning of things that I am going to have to just go with the flow and not get worked up over. Anyway, so now I have a new list to work through. This time I won't be fooled into thinking that we are close to a home study once it's complete though. Bring it on Buckner (the system), cause you're gonna have to do a lot more to wear me down! Now I've got much more time to get the nursery just how I want it for them to see :)

As you can see, I think we've finally officially decided to wait until November before we are open to taking in a child. We have quite the schedule this summer and early fall (our last season of being selfish and doing what we want before our lives take a 180). Then we'll go from there. If we get a call before the end of the year and I'm still working, we'll evaluate the situation as to whether we can put them in day care for a few short weeks or if it's possible for me to go ahead and quit a few weeks early. I know that several family members are frustrated with us taking so long, but we've got plenty of time to be parents :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Catching up - March 31st

Somehow I've managed to go two weeks without a post! As usual, we've been keeping busy and nothing too exceptionally news-worthy, but here's a recap:

  • Adoption News: There is no news. Still waiting on our home study to begin. We did however, discover that we will have to take an 'adoption specific training' class in May (3rd and 10th...6 hours total). Seems like there is a never ending list of classes to complete, but we are taking it in stride. I think I've officially decided on a plan for the nursery (I've been waffling a lot lately) and I hope to actually get started on it this weekend rather than just talking about it. And I'm still deeply conflicted on what all I should stock in advance. I will have a crib (that converts to a toddler bed) and possibly a changing table from my sister. I'd like to get a glider as well. I'm thinking I might start collecting some books too.

  • Mentoring: Still going, still feel like I'm struggling to gain any positive ground with the girls. However, I still LOVE hanging out with them and am already getting sad about the end of the year. Their teacher and I did decide on a new plan though: they must earn 3 out of 5 days on green or they don't get to have lunch with me on Mondays. I hope that will encourage them. I know they enjoy seeing me...in fact, they asked me this week why I can't come every day!

  • Tax Site: Still working the tax site every Tuesday, but things are definitely slowing down. Only two Tuesdays left!

  • Choir: Well, I shamefully quit choir. We have had a LOT on our plates lately and since I wasn't really enjoying choir as much as my other commitments, I decided to drop it. I hate feeling like a quitter, but at the same time, I wasn't exactly providing any added benefit other than another warm body. I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I think the reason I wasn't enjoying it was because it just seemed so impersonal. I didn't know anyone in there and it was like we just showed up, sang, and left. While I appreciate the hugeness that is the Mobberly Choir, it makes it difficult to make things intimate and get to know each other. I am still working with the 3 year olds, 9:30 live, and active in our small group. Perhaps there will be other volunteer opportunities through church for me to be involved in later on. However, primarily, I just decided I needed to scale back my commitments. These next few months are our last few months of 'freedom' before our lives are turned upside down with kids.

  • Leadership Longview: On the home stretch. We've been having weekly meetings trying to tie up the loose ends before project day on April 14th

  • Mission Trip: Clint and I were thinking about going on a Mission Trip this summer. We were discussing Romania. However, after attending the missions luncheon to learn more, we just weren't feeling it. We don't want to do one, just for the sake of doing it, we want to have a desire for it, and feel like our skills are being used. None of the other missions through our church are really striking our fancy either. I looked at missions through Buckner online, but not much was listed. I may talk to them in person. In the end, we may just try to do some local community volunteering.

  • Racing: I decided to back down from the half marathon to the 5k and it was a good decision and I still had fun. I somehow managed to win my age group and was the third overall female. I'll take it! Clint had a great run in the half marathon as well! I was surprised when I saw him coming around the corner when he did. I thought it would be several more minutes before he finished. I've also finally made it back into the pool. It was surprisingly not as bad as I feared. Looking back at my training logs, I only swam 2.5 hours all of last year! And i didn't have much more in 2009. So, it's definitely been a long time coming. We have a great guy teaching a group swim on M/W/F, which I think will greatly help me improve. I am also still LOVING my Titan Training class (Art of Strength class at the gym). I am challenged every time and I love everyone's 'let's do it' attitude. This past weekend was the Beauty and the Beast Ride in Tyler. Clint rode (his first time to ride it) and I volunteered as a flagger. Great turnout and great weather!

I think that's the gist of things. We actually have a 'free' weekend this weekend...meaning, nothing on the schedule. I'm in the mood for some serious spring cleaning so that's my plan for the weekend. We'll see how much actually gets accomplished.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Waiting Game

This past Saturday we attended our restraint training class (SAMA). While we doubt we'll ever have to use any of the techniques learned, the class went about as well as it could I'd say. The instructor was nice and made it fun and our fellow classmates made it as tolerable as possible as well. Clint and I were the only ones in class who weren't current foster parents so we were extremely green. I'm loving getting to meet these other foster families though; such a great group of people.

One thing I did walk away from the SAMA class was on the communication portion. We went over a process to verbally de-escalate a situation. While some of the steps seemed silly, I really see how the process works. The biggest thing I learned was when confronting an angry person, use questions that get them to talk it out. Questions to use are when, where, how, and what. However, NOT 'why'. This question can have an accusatory undertone, thus making the person angrier. I had never thought about that before! I know even with my mentor girls when they are mad about someone doing something to them, etc., I've been quick to the 'why'. Overall, the class taught me to be aware of my approach and how it is received. Oh, and to use open-ended questions (something that I DID know) to get the person in distress to talk rather than shutdown in yes/no questions.

So now we wait for the home study process to begin. This will be the first of many waiting times, I'm sure. However, we are prepared for that and actually in somewhat of a tough situation. We'll be licensed by sometime this summer (unless something unexpected occurs or they deem us not fit to be parents). I'd like to keep my job through the end of the year and then switch over to my husbands insurance, etc. This doesn't mean we couldn't go ahead and get a placement and then put the child in daycare temporarily (not what I'd like!). But, we also plan to take a vacation the first week in October. We feel it's important for us to get one last big, grown-up vacation in before kids. After kids, we know it's going to be Disneyland, etc. for awhile (if we get a vacation at all, ha!). Therefore, I do not want to take in a child before our vacation because I don't want to take them in and turn around and say 'we're going to be gone for a week, someone come get this child.'

With the October vacation, I'm thinking that we would not want to be open to a placement until after we return. I still don't like the idea of putting a child in daycare though, even if it's two months. Not that I'm worried about a horrible day care experience, but I want to be there for the child. I want to work on attachment (yes, I know we may not get to keep them). I want to be the one who provides for them. Yep, I'm selfish I suppose :)

Meanwhile, we've had so many people ask, 'when do you get a baby?' It's just not that easy to answer. We don't get the 40 week countdown. It's funny, I think we are more patient than our family and friends! We've got lots of time to be parents and start our family and it will be done on God's timing.

We saw Clint's family this weekend and his parents are extra anxious. I told Clint again, that it's time for a dinner with them so that we can have 'The Talk.' I need to do it with my family as well. Right now, they've got 'rainbows and unicorns' in their heads. They need to understand that this is going to be difficult; we may be a temporary family long before we get to be a special one's permanent family; we are going to be restricted more so than 'normal' new parents; these kids may have some tough issues to overcome that they aren't accustomed to; etc. And I don't want to paint gloom and doom, but like PRIDE, they need to be aware of the 'worst case scenario' and a little more about how this process is going to work. We're going to be dealing with CPS, Buckner, lawyers, biological parents, CASA workers (hopefully), medical exams, it's going to be busy and stressful. Of course, the rewards will far outweigh these struggles.

Once again, just thinking 'out loud.' That's another reason why I love this blog and will be great for me to reflect back on and see my emotions, etc. that I am experiencing along the way.

This week has been nice since it's Spring Break, which means nothing to us at the moment, but does to just about everyone else. Our normal extracurricular stuff has been cancelled this week so we've had slightly more breathing room. Although, I think work for both Clint and me kicked up a notch this week and we're already looking forward to the weekend. We'll be racing in the Longview half marathon (Clint) and 5k (me). I dropped down to the 5k since I just haven't had the time to get the mileage in that I should to run the half, so that means a short and painful 5k! I'll also be getting my hair chopped short this weekend. I was doing good about growing it out long, but I feel like I'm carrying around an extra 50 lbs when working out so it's time to say goodbye for spring and summer. I hope to get started on the nursery this weekend as well! At least get the furniture out and perhaps get the walls taped and prepped for priming. So, all of this to say, it's going to be another packed weekend...no rest for the weary!

Friday, March 11, 2011

3...2...1...

WE'RE DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!

Today is the day! The last payment of Clint's student loan! Oh, what a feeling! You really do feel free. Yet, at the same time, it almost doesn't seem real. Can we really remove that line item from our budget?? We finally get to start looking forward rather than looking back. And I know for Clint, this day is extra special to him because he carried so much guilt knowing that he came to the marriage with probably 98% of the debt. But I married ALL of him and I'm thrilled that we tackled this goal together! I love the peace of mind that we have going in to start a family without that burden.

Speaking of family, we're still rolling along. We received our TB tests on Friday (ick, needle!) and I managed to sift through our black box and put together ALL of our documents. Even our residency list. Fortunately, Clint used to work for a company that required a security clearance and had to list all of his places of residency so we were all set. I had forgotten what all was in the black box...I had middle school report cards in there! I'm sure those are really important, ha ha. I also had tax returns from 1998 and 1999. Wow! McDonald's birthday party days. I'm certainly not missing those days and I think it's okay to get rid of returns from over 10 years ago!

We turned in all of our paperwork last night when we went to Buckner for the psychotropic medication training. I'll be honest, Clint and I don't feel like it was all that helpful. I mean, she rattled off a list of medications and their side effects and risks of overdose. That's great, but I am not going to remember which drug you aren't supposed to take with grapefruit juice, yada yada. And I would hope that all of this information would be covered thoroughly by a doctor when/if the time comes that one of our children needs these medications. I'm glad that she mentioned that these drugs are the backup option not THE option. I'm extremely hesitant to run to chemicals to 'correct' my child.

Tomorrow we take our restraint class...again, hope to never have to use the skills we learn in it. Then, just waiting for our home study process to begin. Well, not exactly sitting around. We've got a nursery to put together! We need to rearrange furniture in the house and I want to paint the room to a much more appropriate color. I have a vision of what I want the room to look like, now to bring it to life. It's so exciting. Even if we go through a long period of taking care of children that won't be ours forever, I want them treated as if they were and they deserve a pretty room! :) On a budget of course though, we haven't forgotten Dave Ramsey's principles yet!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

PRIDE Part Three

Well, we had our third and final PRIDE class this past weekend. We covered discipline. Clint and I felt kind of 'meh' after this one, much like the first class. We get that you can't spank (nor do I want to do that), yada yada, but perhaps there could have been more talk on things that DO work. Of course, I know that for the most part, the punishment will depend on the child. What works for one won't necessarily work for the other. This was evident growing up! If I got in trouble and was told to go to my room, it was pure torture! Hated it! I wanted to be outside and with my friends. Now my sister, if you told her to go to her room, she was just fine with that. She was the creative thinker and could entertain herself for hours. Ahhh, the joys of parenting, lol.

The good part of the class was once again getting to hear from people who are in it. And these stories were much more positive than last week's, which was encouraging. Clint and I have also decided that we are open to fostering along our way to foster to adopt. The need is just too great to ignore. And the only reason we (well, really Clint) was against it before was because of the whole, 'give them back'. And I agree, that is NOT going to be easy and it's hard to go into something where you KNOW you are going to get hurt. Who wants to knowingly get hurt, especially when there is another road where there is no forseen pain? The need is greater than our pain and we will hopefully be able to give a child(ren) a loving, safe home.

After the class, we had to sign our lives away :) It was almost like closing on a house with all of the papers we had to sign. We also have MORE paper work to fill out. We need to have our places of residence for the past 10 years. Oof! That one gets hard for me even. I've only lived in 4 places in that amount of time, but I was in the same two for the past 8 of those years. And poor Clint! He lived the life of a nomad so he's definitely got his work cut out for him! We also have to put together a list of family rules. Ummm, don't pull the dogs' tails? Ha ha. Okay, so, we've got some thinking to do on that one as well. However, in my blog entry a couple of posts back when I discussed what all we needed before our home study, I accidentally got ahead of myself. Everything after the TB test (proofs of health and life insurance, will, physician's report) are NOT needed, at least not until we move from fostering to the adoption phase. So that helps. Now, I really just need to schedule us for the TB tests and then we should have all of our documents.

Up next, we have psychotropic medication training and restraint training (both towards the end of next week). But for this weekend, I am excited to have a weekend free from training and other commitments so that I can see my mom, sister, and niece. My mom just celebrated her 50th birthday and so they are all coming to East Texas to celebrate. And by celebrate, I mean shopping at Canton Trade Days! I'm excited! I've only been once and it was with Clint who, well, doesn't shop, especially in a place like that. I'm looking forward to spending time with my family. I don't get to see them near enough!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Art of Strength

Art of Strength is the name of the fitness class that I am taking. However, the instructor and classmates refer to it as Titan Training, which definitely sounds much more rugged and manly like :) I've been three times so far and I am hooked! Absolutely love it! It really is everything I was looking for: high intensity, great strength, fast paced, constantly changing, etc. I am also liking my fellow classmates. Most are Army guys. Everyone is extremely encouraging and pushes each other, which is what I need. I don't need someone whining next to me because then the next person starts whining. It just brings down the energy.

It's also nice to be in a class of people who have different goals and excitement. I've been doing triathlon forever and know to get excited over certain times, distances, events that it's sort of become old news to me. These guys have a total different set of goals and I like hearing about them. Makes me want to do something 'tough'! What that is, I have no idea! Ha ha. I just feel like I should be doing some crazy obstacle course with like a 50 lb pack or something. It's just a refreshing change of pace/course and I like the group atmosphere. I had become quite the loner in triathlon training due to the TRAINING PLAN which must be followed.

I'm also down about 18 lbs since January 1 and I'm starting to feel good in my skin. I almost feel like I have a whole new wardrobe since I can fit into so many clothes again. Now if I can just gain some muscle! :) Someday I'll be able to do lots of push-ups...real push-ups. Right now, not so much.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time to find the black box

At our last PRIDE class we were given a list of documents that we will need before a home study will be scheduled. I know many have asked me about what's next, etc. so I thought I would provide that list. Now, these documents are needed for our specific course of Foster to Adopt. Keep in mind that there are other options that will require different items. The programs are:

  • Foster Care - Temporary home for children
  • Foster to Adopt - Temporary child placement that will probably move to adoption.
  • Waiting Texas Children - Adoption of older children already waiting for a home.
  • Domestic Infant Adoption - Adoption of an infant from a birth mother who wishes to relinquish her parental rights.
  • International Adoption
  • CPS Adoption - Adoption out of the CPS program

Being in the foster to adopt category makes us unique in the fact that we pretty much have to cover everything for fostering AND adoption (obviously). I have a black box that keeps all of our imporant documents. So most of this should be pretty painless in collecting. Here's what we need:

  • Formal Application - Done!
  • Picture of Family
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security cards
  • Driver's license and auto insurance
  • Marriage License
  • Photos of front and back of home
  • Floor plan with rooms/dimensions/uses
  • Pet Vaccinations
  • Proof of income (tax returns for previous 3 years for adoption)
  • Diplomas
  • TB test for all family members
  • Proof of health insurance on husband and wife
  • Proof of life insurance on husband and wife (minimum of $50,000 each)
  • Proof of Will
  • Physician's Report

I'll be honest in saying that we don't have life insurance or a will yet, but will be done soon. These were things that Dave Ramsey teaches too, but we were just waiting until we were officially debt free (less than 3 weeks to go!!).

And these are just documents that must be collected before the home study...there are more items we will have to have down the road. Buckner said that they schedule home studies in the order of who submits their documentation first. So, depending on when we and everyone else get everything in will determine the order/time of when we start our home study. She said again that this process takes 4-6 months. We're not in too big of a rush though. I know so many people have asked, when are we going to have a baby?! Well, not for awhile and it may not be a baby either. I'm liking the element of surprise right now...not knowing when we'll get the call and what the child will be or look like. It's exciting!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

PRIDE Part Two

Yesterday we went to class Number 2 of PRIDE. Clint and I both felt like this one was much better than last week as far as getting good information. Debbie with Buckner was the leader today and she did a great job (and is such an adorable woman). We covered things such as visitations and how to handle the before and after with the children and we discussed ecomaps.

The biggest topic of the day was sexual abuse. They brought in a current foster mom who for some reason has had several foster children who have been victims of sexual abuse. The stories were sad and frightening. Poor Clint, it honestly freaked him out! He doesn't think that he is strong enough to deal with things like four hour plus tantrums, etc. And right now, that does sound daunting, but I'm up to the challenge. Yesterday just really seemed to further commit to me that I am called to do this. While I may have endured sexual abuse in my life, God knew that I could handle it, overcome it, and come out stronger on the other side. The silver lining is that it was a gift to me...I know, how in the world is sexual abuse a gift?! But it gave me understanding and compassion for these kids. I can relate to their feelings and actions because I experienced many of them as well and these kids can be assured that I won't find them shameful or embarassing.

As the discussion on sexual abuse got started, Clint looked at me and asked if I was okay. And I was! I really have turned all of that over to God and I don't have that pain anymore. However, it did dredge up feelings and memories that I hadn't thought of in awhile. After the issue had been brought to light those many years ago, I was embarassed, ashamed, and angry. I am an internalizer about many things and really just wanted to put all of it in a locked box and throw away the key. I immersed myself in school and my grades only went up. It was my escape. However, over the years, I've been able to release those negative feelings and rather than trying to hide it, I simply just filed it away in a regular box because it was over and I had moved on.

But yesterday had me opening up that box and peering back in. It wasn't a bad thing and was probably good for me to be reminded of the emotions I felt during and after. They talked about how many kids love their perpetrators and don't understand why they've been taken away. They have no idea that the sexual behavior is wrong because it's what they've been taught by an authoritative figure as right. They've been told they are good little boys and girls and make the perps happy. I remember that. When I was little, I loved my grandad and didn't have any ill feelings towards him. He constantly told me I was good. It wasn't until I got older 4th, 5th, 6th grade when my body started changing and I started understanding more that my feelings started to turn. My mom taught us sex education and a young age and I think that was good. She wanted us to get the facts first before kids started gossiping about different things. So that too heightened my awarness that what was going on was NOT right.

And while I knew it wasn't right. My grandad had control and fear over me. I feared no one would believe me over him. I was trapped. My sister however was different. While I was the rule follower, not one to rock the boat, she was full of spunk. My grandad knew this and had to go the extra mile with her to scare her. During the years of abuse, I had no idea he was doing the same to my sister and my sister likewise didn't know about me. Anyway, the stories I've heard from her since then on how he threatened her hurt so bad. He was a military man and sick and twisted. Fortunately, despite those horrible threats, my sister finally confided in a school friend at an after-school program. This friend knew this was not right and went straight to one of the teachers of the program who confided to my mom.

To say my mom was livid would be an understatement. I was in 6th grade at the time and I remember coming home that day and my mom saying, 'We've got to talk!' Usually that was code for 'You're in BIG trouble!' I racked my brain for what I could have possibly done wrong, but was coming up empty. I remember asking, "Am I in trouble?" She said, "No, but I know someone who might be!" When my mom is seriously upset she gets this really deep voice and she had that. I was a little panicked. She then mentioned my grandad and asked if he had touched me in anyway. She said that she would trust me and believe me in no matter what I said. I broke down and told her.

It was out and there was this sense of relief! She believed me! This nightmare is going to be over! But then there was the embarassment of having to talk about it, knowing that others now knew. I was scared, what did this mean now? What was next?

The next part is kind of a blur. My mom wanted to prosecute my grandad. My sister and I had to meet with a therapist and describe with a doll, etc. all of the things he did. Not fun to have to verbalize! Especially to a stranger. My mom also started us in counseling. Again, I just remember NOT wanting to talk about it. Just wanted to move on.

One of the worst things was riding the bus from school one day. My cousin (boy) who was my age only lived a few streets away from me and we rode the same bus (he was a grade ahead though due to his early birthday). He said to me, "You know you're never going to get to see grandmommy again." Crushed! I was crushed! I LOVED my grandmommy! And then I thought...she doesn't believe me! She must hate me! The whole family hates my sister and me! And well, those feelings were true and my dad's side of the family was stripped away from me. So, while I haven't been taken away from my immediate family like a foster child is, I dealt with a lot of the same feelings.

In the end, my grandad got off. Nothing happened to him, which is often the case. So many people thought we made it up. Wow! I just can't even imagine making up that stuff, just saying the words to the therapist was torture. Even now, that I feel like I can move past it. I think I could only share the details of what he did to my husband and that's only if he asks. That part I suppose will always be a scar.

The story doesn't end there though. About four years later, it was discovered that my grandad was having an affair with another woman (lots of stuff would come out about him). My grandparents were getting a divorce. Suddenly, the family felt allowed to believe us. My grandmother wanted to see us! While it was great, it was awkward too. Life with that side of the family just never was the same. Christmas Eve used to be a big gathering at my grandparents house with all of us. My sister and I anticipated it for weeks when we were little! Somehow, we were now supposed to just jump back in. Deep down, the family still didn't really care for my sister or me and they weren't so good about hiding those feelings. My grandmother loved us, but still, it was just different. She's now in a nursing home and doesn't remember us, but I really lost her back in 6th grade, not a couple of years ago. She was the only connection with my dad's side of the family that sort of brought people together. Without her, there is no connection with them. Through the wonders of facebook, one of my cousins did find me and will talk to me. However, we were never close, even growing up (there was quite a bit of age difference between us).

The worst though, our own dad doesn't believe us. While I can get past my other family, my dad not believing me honestly does sting a bit. But my issues with my dad run much more deep than just this and that is something that I am constantly having to remind myself to turn over to God because otherwise, I wouldn't be able to handle it. I know my dad is in a difficult position since it is his father and believing us would mean coming to terms that his own father could do such a thing. However, my sister has called me in hysterics a couple of times when she has been at my dad's house and my grandad was invited over. My dad could at least have the courtesy to not do that.

Anyway, I know all of this is long-winded and certainly not a pleasant subject, but it just felt good to let it out on 'paper'. It's been a long time. And I don't hold anger over my dad's family and I don't blame myself. I know my grandad is the reason that life is the way it is now. And my dad's side of the family has many more issues that make things strained between one another than just this subject. I don't get worked up over it. I do remember when I was attending McMurry and running around the nearby streets for track...my grandad's work was nearby. I didn't fear him seeing me and doing something to me, but I can guarantee to you that I always had a subconsious plan of what to do if I saw him. I knew where the closest house, easiest get-away was. In class, they discussed how some of the kids had certain triggers that would bring them back to the awful incidents. I don't have that. There is something though, my grandad had a very distinct whistle. Every once in awhile I'll hear someone make that whistle and the hairs on my arms will stand up. It's more of a 'nails on the chalkboard' thing than taking me back to trauma though. I do think my sister has more lasting issues with it though and I hate that. She has a girl and she is extremely wary about who can keep her, even family. Plus, she still lives in Abilene and runs the risk of seeing him more.

It's a shame that there are such sick people int his world who would abuse a child in this way. But I'm happy to be one of the 'success' stories who can move on and heal.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I may have found what I was looking for

Those that know me, know about my love for the long distance swim/bike/run. However, as I've previously discussed in this blog, it's been awhile since I've done much racing in it. And I really don't have the time to train for the ultra stuff like I once did. Well, I could, but my priorities have changed over the years. Anyway, so one of my main goals this year was to get more back to me...get healthy and fit. And I can do that without 20+ hours of training a week. My eating has been great since the New Year. I'm down about 15 pounds since Jan. 1st and I'd say 99% of it is due to my change in eating habits alone. I've been running and biking, but as crazy as our lives have been lately, I wish I did more.

After my 100 mile run in February of 2009 (hard to believe it's been two years already!) I was ready for a break. Perhaps it was a bit of burn out, I don't know. I still loved the sport, but I just wanted to rest. After some time off, I was looking to get back to it so to speak, but I was looking for a change. I'd clearly mastered the art of long and slow. I wanted something with a kick! A friend told me about this bootcamp and it sounded like what I was looking for. And true, I was sore that first week because it was something different from what my body was used to. But as the weeks rolled on, I quickly became bored with it. We did the same few exercises over and over...not much variety. The instructor seemed much more interested in chatting with the girls rather than leading us. There were so many breaks. But the worst was the whining! Gosh I don't deal well with whining adults in my workouts. I mean, they PAID to be out there, if it's hard, don't come! Workouts are for me; where I get re-energized and leave the world's worries for a bit. So, I didn't enjoy feeling like I was in a room with a bunch of toddlers. My coach in high school used to say that whining (in practice) was like cancer and that once one person started, it spread like wildfire. So true!

Observing some of the other 'hard core' boot camps around town, I was finding more of the same. Lame workouts, whiny adults. And I don't mean to be bashing these programs. I think they are great for those that aren't accustomed to working out, but I've been running or doing some form of exercise since I was in eighth grade. So, I gave up on that. I wanted to do some stuff at home on my own, but I admit to not being very creative. I've heard so much about CrossFit and it's amazing! I did a few of the online workouts, but it's hard to do in a gym that isn't outfitted for it. I discovered that there are some CrossFit gyms springing up in town, but I just can't swallow paying that much to workout, especially when I can workout for free out my front door.

So, I'd given up on a high intensity class with strength and anaerobic energy. Until, someone in our small group told me about this other gym and its 'CrossFit' class. The price was reasonable. I was intrigued. I couldn't help myeslf I went in the next day to see what I could find out about it. I went in and was totally honest with the gym worker. I wasn't looking around for another mamby pamby workout class where we all hold hands around the water cooler. She told me this class was what I was looking for. I went ahead and cautiously signed up for a month. I could give it a month and if it wasn't 'it' I wouldn't be out months of membership. I went in for my assessment last night. I was worried at first because I thought the guy in the office was the instructor and well, he didn't look so in shape to me (the bootcamp instructor I had was overweight and kept cramming those 'get weight loss quick with this 9 day cleanse' junk). To my relief, that wasn't the instructor and he went to get him for me. The instructor definitely looked the part at least so that's step one. He took me back to the room and had me run through some exercises. The exercises were only maybe 10 min. and I am already slightly sore today. Ha! I have a good vibe about this guy and this class. It definitely seems like it will be high energy, kick my butt.

My first class is this evening! He said I was free to go to any of the classes and didn't have to start out in the beginner class, which is good because the beginner classes really weren't working with my schedule right now. But, I am nervous about jumping in with people who know what they are doing. I think I'm more anxious than I want to admit because I did not sleep well at all last night. Funny how I can get so worked up over working out, but working out is a part of me and I just need a change to keep things interesting. So, this gym has one month to see if it can hold my attention! I already know it's going to have me on the floor in the first week.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PRIDE Part One

We finally feel like we are 'in it' with this adoption process. After the cancellation last weekend, we finally began our PRIDE training classes this past Saturday. The class is three Saturdays, 9-5. So, we are a third of the way there.

There were only four of us couples in the class plus three current foster families who were there for their continuous training hours. Everyone was extremely nice, definitely a good group of people. I'll be honest though, I don't really feel like I got a whole lot out of it. Well, as far as material goes. I loved being able to hear REAL stories from the foster families and listen to their experiences. The material we covered I just felt like I've already learned in my reading or were things that I thought were (or should be) common knowledge. Plus, I sort of had to deal with several of these issues growing up with an alcoholic father, divorced family, etc. But, while we know these children are hurt and broken, we did several exercises that put us in their shoes which I think is important too. It definitely wasn't a waste of time, just wish there was more. And I'm hoping we will get to the more. Clint said, " I know these kids are going to be troubled and hurt, but I want to know what I can do to help them." That's exactly how I felt. But there again, that's our Engineer Fix-It personalities coming out.

We haven't heard anything yet about our formal application, but I think that is something we will know about soon, hopefully. I also need to start thinking about furnishing the baby's room! Our homestudy will be here before we know it and it's not going to look so good if all we have is a dresser, ha! Plus, the room needs a repaint because I think it is too dark for a baby. I'm thinking on some colors that can go for either a boy or girl. And in case I didn't mention it before, no, much to my mother-in-law's disdain, we are NOT specifying a sex. We wouldn't get to choose if we were to have a biological child so we aren't choosing here either. And not that MIL will be upset, but she is dying for a girl since she raised a bunch of boys and the first grandchild is a boy. I do have a color scheme in mind, but not sure at the moment.

So, that's a wrap on where we are currently. Seems like we have been asked a lot lately on where we are. Everyone wants to know how soon until a baby! We just don't know and we know it will take time so we aren't getting worked up over it. Like I've said, I would still like to complete this year of work, but we do know that daycare would be an okay option too until I can become a SAHM. They say licensing will take 4-6 months so it won't even be until sometime in the summer before we are eligible to be a foster/adopt family. Then there is the waiting for a child in need. Patience, patience :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh my Precious Little Girls

That's what I call my mentee(s)...my little girls. I truly love these girls almost as if they were my own and still wish so much that I had more time with them. The past few days have been emotionally draining with these three. After my 'awakening' at our court house day with Leadership Longview, my emotions are just in over drive for them.

On Friday they had their Valentine's Day party. I was excited about being able to go up there and share in the festivities and hand out valentines. When I arrived the girls (and the rest of the class) were excited to see me. However, Miss A was not there. I assumed it was the typical 'out sick' excuse with her since she misses frequently. But their teacher informed me that she had been suspended for the day. Ugh! I hate to hear that. I spoke with her today during our normal visit time and she had gotten in to it with a boy. I tried to talk some reason in to her, but it wasn't happening. In fact, she got in trouble while I was there today. Sigh! I'm not giving up on her yet though.

Their teacher also informed me that Miss N's grandmother had a heart attack earlier in the week and she didn't expect her to make it much longer. My heart just sunk. Miss N lives with her grandmother because her parents aren't around. I asked what would happen to her if her grandmother passed on and she said she thought there was an uncle in the picture. Not really making me feel at ease because she needs a female in her life. Well, when visiting today I got the sad news that her grandmother passed away yesterday. Miss N was obviously sad, but not really wanting to talk much about it. I just tried to follow her lead, I didn't want her to talk if she didn't want to. She'd randomly pipe in with something as it would strike her, such as, "I just can't believe she's not here, " and "she didn't know who I was when we went to visit her." Poor thing! I am feeling more encouraged that there may be an aunt to go with that uncle though, so I'm praying that she has a good/safe place to stay.

Then there's Miss M. She's been back to being the better student that I know she can be. She's truly a sweetheart and wants to do good. I just love, love her gap-tooth smile :) Okay, so they all get me when they smile. Anyway, while I was at the party on Friday I heard over the intercom about students coming to the office to get their backpacks. I looked at their teacher with a confused look and she informed me that the program handed out backpacks on Fridays filled with food so that the kids would have food to eat over the weekend. Well, Miss M was one of the kids in the program. For some reason, it just hit me hard. She may not have food to eat? What other needs might not be met at home?? And deep down, I knew that this might be possible with these kids, but seeing her get that backpack just stunned me.

As usual, I am just filled with worry for these girls. I just want to scoop them up and put a protective shield around them. The best thing I know to do for them though, is pray. I was reminded that without me, they may not even be getting prayers. Wow! Makes me want to pray even more. I did discover that their teacher is a part of our church though. And I just know that she prays for these kids (the entire class) too.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How do they do it?

Yesterday was Leadership Longview class day. This session was our Criminal Justice and Public Safety Day. I'll admit, I wasn't really looking forward to it. Snooze fest is what I thought it would be. Boy was I wrong! I enjoyed it so much. Well, I don't know if enjoy is the correct term, I learned so much, but I definitely discovered that I am not cut out for this field. So much sadness and heartache!

We started at the police station and had our usual leadership training first thing. Then, we heard from the new police chief and learned about all the workings of the Longview Police Department. It's quite the operation. A highlight was getting to meet one of the police dogs (they have three)...his name was Youst (not sure on the spelling). They get their dogs from Holland. Youst was a beautiful german shepherd. We then quickly made a walk through the call center before heading to the Gregg County Courthouse.

At the courthhouse, we got to hear from several of the judges from the different courts as well as the district and county clerks. I'm still somewhat confused as to the breakdown of county and district courts, but I do know that when we hopefully reach adoption time, we will be going to the 307th district court and will be seeing Judge Tim Womack. So much of what we heard was so sad and depressing...the dealings with all of this bad stuff. I smiled though when someone asked, 'how can you work here day in and day out with all of this depressing stuff?' Everyone there throughout the day responded with, 'Yes, it's hard, but the good is the times you get to witness an adoption and see those happy families and children.' Oh, I can't wait! I hope we get to be one of their happy moments!

We then quickly made a dash over to the partnership for lunch and a presentation from the district attorney. Interesting, and again, sad, stuff!

Then, it was time to rush back to the courthouse to sit in on Judge Simpson's Juvenile Court proceedings. This was where the REALLY heavy stuff hit me! Ugh! It's just so hard to see smart, talented kids get on the wrong path and make bad decisions. Afterwards, the judge, lawyers, and parol officers stayed in the room for us to ask questions. It just hit me hard because they start seeing kids in there at age 10...the same age as my girls and they kept saying that so many of these kids are smart...like my girls. Unfortunately, many times these kids have no real family unit, no structure, discipline, nurturing, father figures, etc. It just gave me an even bigger sense of burden...well, not burden because I truly WANT to do anything possible for these girls so I don't view it as a chore, but perhaps it just scared me more and I feel somewhat hopeless and unsure of what to do for them, to teach them. And it's frustrating. I get 45 min. on a good day with them, once a week. This includes the walk to lunch and eating, and walking back to class. I just wish I had more time! I wish I could do things with them outside of school. The public is allowed to sit in on those court proceedings and I would love to take them one time to witness the severity and sadness of it. I know I am not their parents and that I am merely a spec in their lives, but I still want the world for them. I guess I feel burdened to not let them let themselves and others down.

After juvenile court we then went on a brief tour of the jail facility. They showed us things that the inmates would make with the limited things they could get their hands on, scary and amazing! Too bad they can't use those talents for good rather than evil, ha!

It was a long, thought-provoking day. I know we are going to be faced with a lot of this sadness as we enter the foster world. It's a little scary, but these children need us. I hope I can find a pair of strong, big-girl panties before then because I was tearing up yesterday over cases that I had no involvement in.

Friday, February 4, 2011

February 4th - Weekly Rewind

Hello February! And what a chilly start we are off to! I can't believe the cold the past few days, yet I tell Clint that this cold and wind were typical days in Lubbock during college. How did I survive, ha! Here's a quick rundwon of our week:
  • Sunday, Clint and I were asked to give a quick testimony on Financial Peace University and Dave Ramsey since the church is starting up another round. I thought I would be fine, but once in front of everyone, I quickly got stage fright. We did okay, but I wish we could have said so much more. It was also my Sunday to work with the 3 year olds. We only had 11 so it was a small class, but they were in RARE form. Kellie and I could not believe how much they acted up. Must have been something in the air or perhaps they were given too much sugar :) The poor kids are in there a long time though and have the same limited toys every week. We've discovered that after their lesson, craft, and snack that playing games and engaging them is much more productive than letting them go back to the toys because they are so over sharing/playing with them by then. So, we're on the lookout for games/activities to play with them.
  • Monday, as I discussed in my last post I met with my girls. I'm praying they had a good week...and that they are smiling today as there is no school and SNOW! :) Monday evening I had to take the intermediate test for tax prep so that I could be a reviewer this week. Some tough questions, but I passed!
  • Tuesday, the bitter cold hit, but no precipitation. I was positive that no one would show up to VITA and we'd go home early. Boy, was I wrong! They had a record night and we did 25 returns!! All of us volunteers were in shock. I had a lot of fun though...really! I loved talking with everyone as I reviewed their returns and the night flew by!
  • Wednesday was choir night. I'm still trying to get comfortable in there and not look like a fool :) Oh, beforehand, I had to install a new mailbox since some not-so-nice person decided to bash ours and then it completely fell off during the windy weather. My hands were frozen by the end! Hope it lasts a little longer this time.
  • Thursday I had to make a trip to Dallas for my eye appt. The roads were driveable for the most part in the metroplex. However, I park a couple blocks away from my Doctor's building because I don't want to pay for parking (I'm cheap, I know!). Well, I didn't think about trying to walk on icy sidewalks. So, I skated my way in. Luckily, I never did fall. Those that know me I'm sure are amazed at that! :)

No snow day for Clint and me and we were at work at our usual times. The snow is pretty to look at though. I'm a little bummed however because Buckner cancelled PRIDE for tomorrow so now we don't start until the 12th. I'm so anxious! But, a day at home will be nice as well. My to-do list is getting out of control so I hope I can get caught up some. Plus, we have a get together tomorrow afternoon for Clint's mother's birthday. Then, it's Super Bowl Sunday! I don't really have my heart set on either team, but look forward to the fellowship with our small group while we watch it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"I' am not at fault

I forgot to mention in my last post that I am still mentoring my girls and am sure to ALWAYS be there. Normally I meet with them on Mondays, but if there is no school, they can be sure I'll be there on Tuesday! The past couple of weeks have been somewhat rough for the girls, behavior-wise. I think I mentioned that I made the executive decision to take up their notebooks due to their failure to use them at appropriate times (when they should be doing school work instead). I gave them back their notebooks and prayed that they would have a better week. When I met with them on Monday, I was pleasantly surprised that Miss N and Miss A had good weeks. However, I was blown away at how BAD Miss M's behavior 'scores' were. She was on blue, which let me remind you is NOT good, TWICE last week, that and no green. Miss M is normally my 'star' of the group.

I asked Miss M what happened. Evidentally she is really struggling with a girl on the bus, who is also in their class. All three girls agreeed that this girl is not nice. Miss M apparently lets this girl push her buttons and then it's on! I tried to talk to her about ways to avoid these confrontations and not let this girl get to her, sink down to her level. I was then intrigued by our group's discussion...well, it's something I've been picking up on for awhile, but it really hit me on Monday. Miss M first said she thought she had ADHD...as a reason why she can't control her behavior. Then, she said, I think I have 'anger issues.' All the girls said they had this. Miss M only lacked one sticker to earn her lunch and squeeked one out based on our guidelines. I had told her that I would bring her lunch next week, but that she still needed to do well, that she couldn't slack off. I warned her that if she had a bad week, I couldn't reward her with her lunch and it would be up to their teacher to decide. Miss N piped in, 'But Ms 'Teacher' hates us!' Miss M responded with, "She doesn't hate us, she hates our actions."

It just has me thinking...what are we teaching our kids? It just seems like our society is SO concerned about high self esteem that nothing else matters. I get the 'I don't think You are bad, but your actions are bad' mantra in that you don't want to knock down their self worth (I really can't explain this well). However, as I am seeing with my girls, it disassociates them from their behaviors. And then, to take it further, our society has an 'issue' for everything, a reason why we do wrong, etc. It's not me, it's my condition! And they are picking up on this in Fourth Grade! Mercy! And yes, I know their ARE kids with ADHD, but as I picked up in my seminar last week, only about 3% of kids have it. Not to mention it's not an acceptable excuse to poor social behavior.

Conincidentally, I had picked up a book at the library titled 'Raising Unselfish Children in a self-absorbed World' by Jill Rigby. I know, I know, how about worrying about getting a kid first before I start freaking out about their ability to be upstanding members of society :) But I read lots of blogs from mom's who periodically make book suggestions. I just want to learn so much. Anyway, I am now even more anxious to find some window of time to read this book and the insight it might have on helping my girls (not that I'm saying I'll take it as gospel).

I'd love any and all ideas on how to help the girls with their 'anger issues'. It's new territory to me as I was shy, quiet and reserved growing up. Miss M did write in her journal, "I'm sorry Miss Bolton." I think she hates letting me down, which I think is a positive thing. She does have remorse, she DOES know her behavior is wrong. Now to get her to be quick to think and slow to react in those situations. They are all so smart. I was proud of them all for passing their practice TAKS writing test (Miss M scored REALLY well), which means they don't have to come in for extra tutoring. I still LOVE hanging out with them, truly the highlight of my week. We have a lot of fun and I can tell they enjoy getting to see me as well. Lately we've been on a BrainQuest kick. They love playing it to see who can ge tthe right answer. I know my Miss Fix-It personality can't fix everything, but if there is anything I can do to refine these girls into the ladies I know they can be, I'm all about it!