Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Guests

We got to have our friend Ruth's boys stay with us for a weekend while she was out of town. Paul Joshua and Isaiah are very sweet boys, full of energy and fun. Shane and Kevin enjoyed having some back up against all the girls, since they are usually badly outnumbered. They played video games, hot wheels, and generally came up with fun things to do that girls just think are messy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Peter Pan... Sort of

Brianna was in a production of Peter Pan through her Options program. It wasn't the traditional story, but it was cute. She did a sweet little mermaid dance with her feet in green felt fins.

Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Daniel is a technician for Level 3 Communications. That probably doesn't tell you much. It was really important to him to bring Danya and Gloria to the "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" activities at his office this year, so they could find out more about what he actually does. In years past he's always worked a night shift, which meant the timing was wrong to bring them. This year they could participate in all the activities and even climb inside one of the field trucks.

Daniel monitors the network via computer, watching for problems in the phone lines and trouble shooting those problems. Then he calls to dispatch a field technician who goes to the actual site of the problem. The two of them work together to figure out what needs to be replaced or repaired, and then Daniel orders the materials to be shipped. Some of the groups who use their phone lines include 911 emergency services and the U.S. military. What he does is complicated, using every bit of his 16 years of experience, and although most of us don't think about what he does, we'd definitely notice if he wasn't doing it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AWANA Awards Night

So ends another year of AWANA at our church. Daniel was the leader for the 2nd graders again in Blue Group. Next year, if his work schedule doesn't change, may be the first time in 4 years that he doesn't lead that group. Danya did exceedingly well in her Truth & Training (T'N'T) group this year and was one of only two girls to receive a special challenge award. Gloria, Brianna, Shane, and Kevin all got an award for finishing their scripture memorization books this year. "Boo" and "Junie B." had only been with us for half the year, so they didn't have enough time to finish theirs.

It's so hard for kids in foster care. They never get a full year of school, or other activities. They can rarely commit to a sports team because they never know when they'll be leaving. Often they get moved just before their birthday. We try to cram as much fun stuff as possible into the time they are with us, celebrating every little holiday in a huge way, so that they can make a ton of memories during their stay with us. It doesn't make up for their losses, but I think it helps.

Mermaid Practice

Brianna's Options drama class performed a version of "Peter Pan" this spring. Brianna was one of the mermaids in the mermaid lagoon dance. She loves dancing. For a little girl who needed a year of physical therapy to do simple things like hold a pencil and throw a ball, and didn't even know how to hold onto a swing, she has improved tremendously since she first became a part of our family almost three years ago. We're very proud of all her hard work.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen! Easter 2011

I took a Sunday off from band and stayed home Easter morning to help my six daughters get ready for church. We all had beautiful floral dresses we found at J.C. Penney's on sale. I curled their hair and tied their bows while Daniel took individual portraits of them on the stair case. This is our first Easter in our new home, and I love it. The boys were so handsome in their little suits and ties. We ended up missing first service, but the family time was worth it. I don't think God holds it against me. :) I loved seeing our friends faces at church as we came in with our beautiful little crew. I love the conversations Easter inspires with our children, learning and understanding what Christ's sacrifice for us means.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Making New Friends

Katie is finally at an age where she can tell me who her friends are and actually gets excited about going to church to see them. One of her favorite friends lately, is little Lauren. Lauren is about a year older than Katie, but they both talk and learn at about the same level since Lauren was a preemie and Katie is not your average two year old. Katie thinks Lauren's baby sister, Avigayle, is some sort of fun doll. She's fascinated by her.

At the same time, although we've known Lauren's parents, Brandy and Jim, for a few years now, we are finally becoming better friends. Both of our families moved to Colorado and started attending the same church within a couple of months of each other. They home school, too. I like Brandy because she is direct and has a great big heart for kids. Her daughter, Lauren, is a miracle baby that wasn't expected to survive. They've gone through years of difficult medical issues and come out with a positive attitude through it all. Brandy even says she'd like to foster or adopt infants with extreme medical needs. I am amazed by her.

Her husband, Jim, is a jack of all trades and has stepped up repeatedly to help our family in the past few months. He's fixed our plumbing at the old house and here at the new house when our sprinkler system broke. When we asked if we could borrow his flat bed trailer to move a couch, he volunteered to help move it and then stayed at our house until 1 a.m. trying to find a way to get it into our basement. This was in spite of the fact that he had a huge order due the next day for his home business. I'm starting to think he ends almost every conversation with, "I could help you with that."

It's so good to have real friends here. We have many friends who have stepped up and helped out here and there over the past few years and some who have shown up for occasional events. But Brandy and Jim have been inviting us to join their family regularly for get togethers and have driven the half hour drive out to our house several times now. They are the kind of friends that you can call up and say, "Hey, I'm going somewhere fun in 30 minutes. Wanna come?" and they'll actually pack up their 5 kids and come. Now that I think about it... they're a lot like us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Block Garage

One morning in April Kevin and Shane came excitedly to wake me up. Apparently they had been up since very early working on several block creations in Kevin's room. They had a throne for Kevin's stuffed bunny and an entire parking garage for their cars and trucks. This simply had to be photographed immediately.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The OTHER Pyramids

My kids are learning about pyramids right now. No, not the ones in Egypt. The ones that the Mayans built. We use The Story of the World history books and workbooks which means we learn about history chronologically and are finally moving through North American history.

When Danya went to public school briefly for 5th grade this year we had to do a quick refresher of some main American history info because the public schools teach history egocentrically, which means they start out with a child's family, then their school, city, state, country, and finally world history. Which may be why the rest of the world thinks we are all so self centered. Personally, I don't think you can really understand the uniqueness and exceptionalism of the United States without first having an understanding of all the cultures and governments that came before it.

My Home Boys

My sons are only 4 and 6 years old. Is it possible that they could already be entering the phase where they won't wear clothes unless they are "cool" and start worrying about how their hair looks? Somehow, I thought that home schooling my children would alleviate the affects of the world a bit.

Lately Shane and Kevin are into any shirt with a hood, layering short sleeved shirts over long and wearing hats... backwards. They've moved from bunny ears to just flashing your basic peace sign in photos. Kevin has gone from an unwillingness to be in any photo without a bribe, to sometimes actually posing and telling me to take his picture.

The other day Kevin was laying on my bed to play Xbox when he noticed himself in the mirror on my headboard. He patted his perfectly parted shag hair cut and said, "I like my hair. It looks good like this. Don't I look cool, Mommy?" If this is what 4 years old looks like, what am I in for when he's a teenager?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shriner's Circus!

We were given free tickets for foster families to go to the circus. The kids were all excited. Most of our younger kids had never been to a circus before. The seats were way off to the side, but we could still see well. They oo'd and ah'd over the people juggling fire and mermaids swinging in the air, but their favorite part was the trapeze artists. Everyone jumped when they almost dropped someone. It was a great event.

We looked into riding the elephants, but it was a bit cost prohibitive to say the least. It was one of those moments where I felt a little bad thinking that if I only had one or two kids they probably would have gotten to ride an elephant. But in the grand scheme of things, I think my kids will benefit from the memories of having a big loving family more than a five minute elephant ride.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Dragon Park

We found this great park in Westminster. We've probably passed it a hundred times. The kids loved climbing on the dragon and the castle walls. We played hide and seek with a little boy we met there. Then we took photos of some of the plants we found. We were making a plant journal and had given up on finding a cactus, when we saw one near the park. It's funny sometimes to see an only child at a playground playing sort of forlornly while his parents sit at a nearby picnic table talking. When our family arrives, it definitely becomes an event to remember!

Daniel and I have been talking for some time now about the possibility of adopting one more time and being done with foster care for the next several years. We've been contacted about a few different sibling groups now, but nothing has quite worked out. There is still a chance that "Boo" and "Junie B." may become available for adoption, but it's looking less likely as time goes by. It will probably come down to a contested decision requiring a court hearing involving witnesses and a big show down between DCFS and the kids' guardian ad litem. That's never good. In the meantime we continue to do as many fun things as possible with them and enjoy the time we have.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Poor Plants

Our poor plants looked nice for a couple of weeks. Then we had ice storms, blazing heat, tornado weather with severe winds, and sudden frosts over and over again. It was like being back in Oklahoma. While they still looked nice we brought them inside and made drawings of them with wet chalk. The kids enjoyed reading about plants and making a plant journal.

Since that time we are down to two measly plants that survived. One still in it's planter, the other one a survivor from some left over seeds we planted in the dirt patch behind our basketball goal. The kids are excited to see if either of them lives. I think they are both pumpkins.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Birth Family

Brianna and Shane are having visits again with their birth mother, her new husband, and their half sister Nevaeh (pronounced nuh-vay-uh). I've been told several times that it may not be the most emotionally healthy idea for my kids based on their reactions, but I think it's important that they keep some connection with their first family and grow up knowing their sister. I was separated from my half brothers and step sisters when I was 8 and didn't get to see them again until I was 25. I consider that to be a profound loss in my life. Brianna and Shane shouldn't have to go through that.

Although I have concerns, the visits have gone okay so far. For now, we intend to continue them a few times a year. We're having difficulty getting in touch with their other half sister, though, who lives with her birth father. They've both been asking when we'll see her again. Adoption is such a strange thing and creates such odd relationships with people who would otherwise be strangers. It's like their first family has a missing piece of my kids that I can never understand or replace. I pray that we're doing the right thing and handling it all correctly.

**Note: I don't know if she would want me posting her picture or name, so I've blacked the photo. I don't want to ask because I'm not sure yet if I want her reading my blog.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

5 Bones in 2 Years

When we took "Boo" to Skate City for a school sponsored fund raiser, she managed to fall over backwards and smash her elbow in 4 places. It was a horrific experience. The management called 911 for an ambulance without our permission, which put us in the awkward position of deciding whether or not to have her ride with them to the hospital or with us. She did not need an ambulance ride and the EMT said they should not have been called without our consent.

So we drove "Boo" to the Brighton hospital, which we trust. The doctor there was wonderful, but we had a very long wait and "Boo" was freaking out more than I've seen any child do before. I think she's had some bad experiences with hospitals. They gave her pain meds because she could not calm down enough for them to even x-ray her arm. During all this I've called the hotline number to report a serious incident involving a foster child. (Required) And the person they finally direct me to tells me on the phone that "Boo" should never have been given any pain medication or an I.V. without director approval. The doctor took the phone and had a few choice words with her.

After the x-rays were taken we were told to drive her to Denver Children's Hospital because they'd need to put her under anesthesia and pop one of her bones back in place before putting a cast on and they don't do that at the Brighton hospital. By this time it was 10 pm. The accident happened around 7ish (if I recall correctly). The hotline caseworker says they can't do any procedures on "Boo" until they get written director's approval. They kept her waiting until 10 am the next morning before they got the approval and then dragged their feet another two hours with details. I can't imagine how traumatized "Boo" would have been if they had not been allowed to give her any pain medication until that time. After all this happened, "Boo's" caseworker called us and gave us her cell phone number. She claims she could have gotten a director woken up and signing within an hour. She's a forceful woman, so she may be right.

So, to top it all off, our family certification worker comes out a couple of days later to make sure "Boo" is okay and informs us that we've had five broken bones in two years and that if we have one more our foster home may be closed. She explained that the first one was my broken ankle in January of 2009, then Brianna's in January of 2010, Katie's in June, Gloria's in December, and now "Boo" in March of 2011. So now we are treating the kids like they are made of glass. We don't let "Boo" or "Junie B." skate at all. They even said we should have made "Boo" wear a helmet and full pads at the skating rink. She fell while standing on carpet next to her teacher in the snack area. She wasn't even skating. So, we should have made her look like a freak with all her friends, as the only one wearing full protective gear. I'm wondering why the rink doesn't make full gear a policy?

Well, the final straw was that the hospital only put a temporary split open cast on "Boo" because of the swelling. She was supposed to get a new solid permanent cast a week later. It took Children and Family Services a MONTH to get Medicaid straightened out to cover that, by which time her bones had already healed and her arm had frozen into a really bad 90 degree angle. She had to work daily on stretching it for another month just to be able to straighten her arm or turn her wrist. (Insert rude comment about government health care here)