Friday, December 30, 2011


Historically I have not been a person who makes resolutions.  Besides weight, I never know what to resolve.  But this last year (2011) I made a resolution.  I thought I had blogged about it but alas could not find a blog post about it.  It was to reduce my dependence on my then current job.  The State of Me gives you a glimpse of my life at this job.  I am happy to report that halfway through the year I was able to completely reduce my dependence on that job and quit and am now happily working two jobs for the same amount of hours and more money.  A resolution that I was able to fulfill.  It feels good.

So I've decided to declare another resolution this year for 2012.  To clean my house and keep it clean.  This one is very overwhelming.  My 10 years of sleep deprivation have gotten me to the point of having no energy to do anything that's not essential which would be taking care of Lilyana and working.  I am working on resolving the sleep issues (so maybe I have more than one resolution this year) and hoping to get the house to a point where I can feel comfortable having people come over.  With which room shall I start?  The office where I spend most of my day?  The dining room because we need to take the tree down anyway?  The kitchen because it really should be clean?  The bathroom because again it really should be clean?  The options are endless.  I'll keep you updated on my progress.

I know my resolutions aren't glamorous.  You won't be seeing me in a bikini this summer.  But they're important to me and make me feel better about myself as a person and as a mother.  Are you making resolutions?  If so, what are they?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Baby Steps Out and Christmas

Before I get into the bulk of my post I want to update you on the Baby Steps Out:

Day 6 -- I did not do this one.  Too lazy.
weekly challenge number one -- I did this one in my gratitude journal
Day 7 -- I did this one.  Lovely arrangement.
Day 8 -- I did this one because I am also a list person.
Day 9 -- Fly Lady -- I tried this once and became so overwhelmed that it causes me anxiety to even hear and see those words again.
Day 10 -- I can and will do this but just haven't yet.

Okay, so that's out of the way.

I wrote a post on FB and really felt I wanted to expend on it (I really should be packing to leave town for the next four days).  It started like this:

I should be happy on the eve of Jesus' birth but I'm kind of sad. I don't know why. Maybe because there is the expectation that Christmas=happiness but those of us who have experienced miserable Christmases know that it's not true. I would love nothing better than to redefine the way we celebrate Jesus' birth. Outspending, outdecorating, outbaking, outeating are not the way Christ would want us to remember Him. Maybe outserving, outloving, outgiving from our excess and not our debt would be better ways. I cry when I see, hear and read about so many going without food and clothes ... basic necessities.  I cry when I see many going without loved ones ... either because they've died or been taken away.  I cry when I think about the lives of kids that will never be the same because of early trauma and neglect which will color their Christmas "fun" and the parents they will take it out on.  I cry knowing the world, our society in which we have to live, will never be healed and free until they embrace the healing and freedom that Christ alone can give.  Until then, we are doomed to live in a society where kids give birth to kids, where kids kill kids, where family members hurt family members.  I pray every day for Jesus to come back.  I do not have the energy or will to live in a world where I don't see any hope of change expect for Jesus.  I know at the end times thing are to get worse.  I don't want the world to get worse than it already is.  I am ready to go and take my people with me.
Or maybe it's just the 40s hormones.
 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (because I probably won't get a post written then)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby Steps Out Day 4 and 5

Day 4's assignment is to watch a video.  You should really watch it.  It's great.

Day 5's assisgnment is to find a gratitude journal and write one thing you're grateful for.  How providential that I was giving a gratitude journal recently from my place of work and the first thing I wrote was Rakhma.  I am grateful for my place of work which is Rakhma.

Keep following me or Baby Steps Out to start your own journey through depression, anxiety or anything that gets you out of whatever keeps you down.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What have we done these past years letter 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

Another year has passed us by and we have done our best to live for God and do His will.

Our son, Seth, has been gone from our home for 3 ½ years now.  We hear bits and pieces of where he’s at and what’s been going on but we’re not sure what’s rumor and what is truth.  We pray often that God will grab hold of his heart and life.  That’s all we can do for him right now.

In 2009 Calsey moved to her place of birth, Sioux City, SD to live near her birth mom.  On May 18, 2010 she gave birth to Ayden Jackson and then on November 6, 2011 she gave birth to Gaven Lucas.  We don’t see her often and mostly communicate through phone and Facebook.  She have proven herself a very attentive mother and know that our grandsons are well loved. We pray often for her that she is happy, healthy and will seek God in the decisions of her life.

Our little 3 lb 12 oz miracle continues to amaze us.  She is now 41 inches tall and weighs 36 pounds.  She is tall for her age and people often think she’s older than she is but tall is in her genes so she doesn’t have much choice.  By 2 ½ she knew all her letters (upper and lowercase) and number 0-9.  At that time her favorite show was WordWorld which she would watch on Netflix.  Earlier this year it was taken off Netflix and she now has a new show: Dora the Explorer.  At first I didn’t really like that she got consumed with that show.  I don’t tend to follow fads and what’s popular and I knew Dora was popular.  But I see now that she is learning so much more like Spanish words, counting higher, patterning and many other things. She is a very smart little girl and doesn’t always tell us right away what she knows.  She’ll keep it in her head and then at some come out with like “I knew it all along.”  She’s very much a daddy’s girl and for the most part she happy and healthy.

Linda’s parents, George and Helen Feil, continue to live in Zumbrota, MN.  They are doing well and still living on their seven acres and keeping it up.  Dad broke his foot in the spring and it has taken some time heal.  We are there often to help them with things that need to be done like cutting and hauling wood for their winter heat and fixing their vehicles and for them to spend time with the grandchild who lives the closest.  We spent Thanksgiving Day with them and were joined by our nephew Matthew Nelson and Aunt Rosella Staub.  It was a very pleasant day of visiting and relaxing.

Dan’s dad is living at The Clubb House in Bemidji, MN.  It is a sort of assisted living place.  Dolor has his own room and bathroom and shares meals with the rest of the group.  He celebrated his 80th birthday in July and we traveled up there to see him for that.  We had some conversation with him and he said that while he enjoyed living there he wished he could be at home but we all know that isn’t possible.  Dan’s sister and brother-in-law (Flo and Jeff Richards) have been busy getting the house ready for sale.  I believe it is on the market and they continue to clean it out and sort through the items with sentimental value and get them to the siblings that would want them the most.  We haven’t gotten in on much of that.  When we’re up there Dan pokes through the garage and takes what his dad has promised to him from there.

I am still operating my business but it has gone at a different angle than what I have been doing.  After 2 ½ years of working at Young America Corporation being verbally and emotionally abused I am finally free of that place.  God had his hand at work through the transition.  The day after Easter I received a phone call from the sister of someone I had worked with several years ago.  She asked me if I would be interested in doing their payroll and accounts payable from home.  I said yes and we agreed to talk later in the week.  The next day I went to work and after 2 hours suffered a severe kidney stone attack which landed me in the hospital overnight and granted me three weeks of medical leave from work.  During that time I talked to Susan about the bookkeeping job and we made plans for me start working for Rakhma Homes, which are shared homes for the elderly, about 15 hours a week.  After my three week leave was up I still struggled to continue to work at YAC because I don’t think I was fully recovered from the kidney stone issue.  In early July we had another conversation about adding to my workload at Rakhma.  I explained that in order to leave YAC and have more availability for Rakhma I would need them to give me 25 hours a week.  The plan was to start that on August 1 but as it so happened the office person found another job and it was decided that I would take over some of her duties that I could also do at home.  So the date of July 18 was set for me to quit YAC and start with Rakhama 25 hours a week.  I do all of their bookkeeping expect for accounts receivable.  I do backup scheduling.  I keep track of resident and personnel files and just anything that Susan needs to drop onto my lap so she can be out talking about Rakhma.  This whole process was God’s doing.  Everything from the timing of the kidney stone to the timing of the office person leaving.  Susan says she loves me and everything I do.  In turn, this is the first time I can say that I love my job and can’t wait to do it every day.  I do have to go into the office about twice a month and sometimes I wish I could be there more but it’s an hour’s drive away.

In October I was contacted by one of the elders from our church who has a publishing business that he runs from his home.  His office person decided that she wouldn’t be able to continue to work for him because of her full-time job so he called me.  He showed me around and what is done there and I decided I would do the job for him.  It’s about 6 hours a week for me doing database maintenance and bookkeeping.  I do have to drive to their house which is about 20 minutes away but it’s working out well. 

For both of these jobs I name my own hours which gives me a chance to spend more time with Lilyana and gives Dan the chance to work at OEM in Green Isle doing computer aided drafting and running the CNC plasma cutter.  It’s not consistent work but when they need him it’s nice for him to be available.  When I’m busy he still watches Lilyana and keeps our home heated with wood and does the work on our vehicles.

We have been attending Living Rock Church in Norwood Young America, MN and we are very happy there.  The worship is awesome because our worship team is top notch.  We recently underwent the search and change of a new pastor and things are going well.  It’s nice to see the new pastor involved in the programming, like game helper for AWANA.  He is very supportive of all of our ministries.

We have gradually gotten involved in various ministries at church.  We started going there in the fall of 2008.  In January 2009 I started working in the nursery as Lilyana was 8 months old.  I did that for two years and then last year Dan and I taught Sunday School for two year olds; those who were too big for nursery and yet too young for preschool class.  It was an awesome year of getting to know the same kids and have them go from being really clinging with their parents at the beginning to just running in because they were so comfortable with us.  Having us as a constant presence was what really helped them.  We could have done that again this year but we decided that Lilyana needed some space from us.  When we were around we didn’t feel she behaved or participated as well.  So this year which she is in preschool class we go to the service.  Two Sunday’s a month we work in the first service nursery and one weekend a month Dan helps with setting up for Sunday morning.  We meet in a school so everything from Sunday School rooms to the sanctuary to the coffee table have to be set up each week.  It’s quite an endeavor but our people step up to the plate and get it done.  They also have to take it down after the second service so Dan usually likes to stay to do that and while it was summer and nice out I would take Lilyana out to the playground and play until he was done.  I’m not sure what we’ll do this winter.  As if that’s not enough there are always work days the farm and men’s ministry.  I’ve done some things with women’s ministry but not too much.  Lilyana is participating in singing Christmas songs with the kids on December 18.  The husband of our worship director who is also a music teacher at a local school is leading it and I think it’s going to be great.  It’s just like music class.  We are also helping with AWANA this year; the first time in about 7 years.  Only this time Dan and I are working with Sparks because Lilyana is in her first year of Cubbies.  She loves it and learns her verses every week.  We love our Sparks kids and are enjoying learning a different area of AWANA because all we knew was Cubbies.

Aside from all that’s going on with us we continue to struggle to get back to who we were 10 years ago.  Within the last ten years we’ve had the life sucked out of us to the point of wondering what was left.  When that low hit we found out Lilyana was on the way and so we’ve given our all to her knowing that God must have a plan for her life to give her to parents old, tired and emotionally and physically exhausted.  But I believe that God is sovereign, sitting on his throne making decision in our best interest, maybe not in the timing we want.  So we plod along trying to give Lilyana a “normal” childhood with all the memories that go along with it.

We still live on our 3-acre hobby farm.  Currently, we do not have any chickens but we do still have several cats and our dog, Cinder, who is now about 10 years old. 

That has been our last few years in a nutshell.  If you think of it, please pray for us:
1.                  That Dan and I would be healed from the depression, anxiety and sleeplessness that plague us day after day.
2.                  That Calsey and Seth would give themselves over to God and be willing to walk in His ways.
3.                  That Lilyana will stay healthy.  She had her first ever bout with ear infection a couple weeks ago.  We worry sometimes because she barely eats anything but our pediatrician says it’s okay.  She is the poster child for health.  Pray we won’t worry and that she’ll start eating better soon.  And that she’ll decide to be ready to potty train.

Thank you for your prayers.  And we would love to hear any of your prayer requests and bring them before God.  How great that we serve a God who came as a baby and lived as a man preparing for his ministry.

We’ll leave you with my favorite verse for this time of year:

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  Matthew 1:21

Dan, Linda and Lilyana

Baby Steps Out Day 2 and 3

I did days 2 and 3 together because I forgot to look up Day 2.

Day 2 we were offered a video to watch enough times to get it into our heads.  If you want to know what video it was visit here.

It was quite fun to watch and I might just watch it every time I'm feeling down.

One day 3 we were asked to write a letter to someone who had had an impact on our lives thanking them for that impact.  The body of the note was all written.  It just needed to be personalized by me.  I wrote it to my daughter, Calsey, thanking her for her impact on my life and that I'm glad she's my daughter.

If you want to read the note and send one yourself visit here.

So far I love this series and they really are short tasks to do every day that don't hurt.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baby Steps Out Day 1

Read today's challenge.  It is definitely interesting food for thought.

Baby Steps Out

My friend, Claudia, is starting a blog called babystepsout for those of us who need to find a way out of the depression that plagues us. It's about small challenges that aren't too overwhelming. I plan to do the daily challenges and post the progress on my blog. 
I encourage you to check it out even if you aren't experiencing any depression as it will be a daily encouragement for us to be the children of God that we were meant to be.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Book Review of Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, & Diann Hunt.

I recently read Smitten which is four novellas in one book written by by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, & Diann Hunt.

I have stated before that I don’t normally read novellas because they are just too short.  However, as far as length this worked for me because the four were written consecutively and even though each novellas was about a different girl in a group of friends the time periods didn’t overlap.

Briefly, the books are about a group of girls working to make their hometown of Smitten stay alive by “remodeling” its image.  The original industry that kept the town alive was logging and due to the economy the saw mill was closed and in order for the own to stay alive and thrive it needed a new industry.  The girls come up with a plan to make the town a romantic destination by introducing new businesses.  They have a little help from a hometown celebrity.  It also tells how their faith in God helps them make hard decisions about their lives.

Let me just say that I enjoyed this book for the fun and easy read that it was.  If you want a lighthearted read, this is a book for you.  If you want something deeper, it’s not a first choice.  

BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Review of Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble

I have long enjoyed reading books by Colleen Coble and Lonestar Angel was no exception.  I am a huge romance suspense fan so this book was the perfect one.

This book was riveting from beginning to end.  Being an adoptive mother of older children it was wonderful to see a book with those types of children as major characters.  I was glad to see that Clay and Eden came to love them right away and decided to adopt some of them.  Kids from foster care are victims of their circumstances and need parents who will love them unconditionally forever.  

The suspense was great; it kept me wanting to get back to the book whenever I was interrupted.  And it really kept me guessing who the kidnappers were by going back and forth between different groups of characters.

I felt the love story was true to life with the indecision that lasted for so much of the book.  I was glad to see them come together at the end of the book.

All in all it was such a good book all around touching on the foster care system and that healing for those children can come from animals.  The plight of children in foster care can sometimes be grave.  Those kids have been traumatized by one set of parents and need some deep intensive help to heal.

BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Daughter

For some reason I feel compelled to write a tribute to my daughter ... my first daughter ... my daughter who has given me one grandson and soon to be a second.

Calsey has not lived the normal life of a neurotypical child which is one you might give birth to and raise as a typical child.  Calsey has had a difficult childhood of abuse, neglect, forming relationships, etc.  She came into our life when she was 11 with some very serious issues that we attempted to get her help with but the seriousness of the issues and her age combined to make getting the help problematic.  We did the best we could; she did the best she could.  Our relationship was very rocky at times thanks to the lack of training we received. 

But Calsey made it to adulthood (and so did we) and I now have a better relationship with her than when she was a minor living under my roof.

Calsey is doing the best that she can with the resources that she has (emotional, psychological, etc.)  Her rough start in life has followed her through to adulthood.  Calsey is 20 years old and unmarried.  She is the mother of one son and soon to be another.  She has been judged, ridiculed, shamed and all things you can think a girl in her situation might experience from those who might think that her sin is great and she should be ashamed of herself.

I am here as her advocate to say that Calsey has make some unwise choices (as have we all) but none that would remove her from the love of God.  Calsey made a wise decision when she was still in foster care to give her heart to Jesus which means that Jesus doesn't judge her or mock her for the choices she makes.   Jesus loves her and wants what's best for her not criticism and condemnation. 

Her sin (whatever that may be) is no greater than my sin or your sin or anyone else's.  God does not place value on certain actions or behaviors that we might consider sinful. 

Calsey, you are of value ... you have worth ... in my eyes but most importantly in God's eyes.  I love you but God loves you more.  You are more precious than silver or gold.  God made you in his image and he will never let you go.  You are his forever because you made that decision for Christ to come into your heart.  Even though you make choices that aren't wise, God has promised to bring good to those who love him and that includes bringing good from the bad choices, too.

I love you, Calsey.  I hurt when you hurt and it makes me cry.  I continually pray for you.  You know that you can come to me or call me anytime day or night and if you are in a situation where you need me to come and get you, I will be there.  I committed my life to you like I committed my life to your dad.  You will always be our daughter and we will always be family.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

A book review of An Amish Wedding by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long

An Amish Wedding is actually three novellas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long.  

A Perfect Secret by Kelly Long tells the story of Rose and Luke and the road leading from their engagement to the wedding of Rose’s best friend, Priscilla.

A Perfect Match by Kathleen Fuller tells the story of Naomi and her journey from being content to be single to finding her true love in Zeke.

A Perfect Plan by Beth Wiseman is about the four weeks leading up to the marriage of Priscilla and Chester.

All three stories are written in the same time period of about four weeks.  Each one has intertwined the same group of people leading up to the wedding of Priscilla and Chester.  I don’t normally bother with reading novellas because I am such an avid reader and I want to invest more time than 100 pages or less in the story.  From that perspective I enjoyed these because they were in the same book and were the stories of the same people so I could invest my time in the first one and go on to the second and third knowing the characters.  

What I didn’t like was that they were three separate books written within the same timeframe.  I would have preferred for them to be intertwined within one large book instead of starting over with the timeframe with books two and three.  But with three different authors that can be difficult.

All in all, I enjoyed these reads and am always impressed when a book (or books) are written by more than one person and you can’t really tell by reading them.

BookSneeze® has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review of His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons

I have been reading a lot of historical fiction lately and His Steadfast Love
by Golden Keyes Parsons definitely hit the mark.

This story is about the civil war and the ramifications for loved ones on both sides of the war.  One of the threads of this story was the relationship between a girl raised in Texas with slaves and a man from Pennsylvania who was not raised with slaves and whether their love could overcome the bitterness left in the hearts of many by this war.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  I don’t really care for books with lots of battle scenes in it.  It just doesn’t hold my interest.  This did have some of that but it did not override the rest of the story.  Once those parts were past I couldn’t stop reading to find out how things would turn out with the couple who were raised worlds apart from each other in the same country.

I was very definitely challenged in my faith as it was preaching forgiveness.  It made me aware of some issues I have with forgiving others.

It was very entertaining and I would definitely recommend it to others.

BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


In 1997 we started our careers in AWANA ...

14 years ago ...

the year we were married ...

before kids.

We knew nothing about it and the kids we taught in Cubbies that first year are the same age as our son who just turned 18.

We were paid in hugs and smiles and memorized Scripture.  And the first year we even were blessed with crafts the kids made as a gift to us for our wedding -- candy canes made with pipe cleaners and red and white beads.  We still have them and they adorn our tree ... when we have one.

We served in Cubbies for seven years.  During that time we adopted Calsey and Seth.  Calsey was too old for AWANA and Seth spent two years in TNT before we decided to take a break and eventually moved.

Since our break Calsey and Seth have become adults and we now have a Cubbie of our own.  Lilyana joined the ranks tonight and I can't wait to help her memorize Scripture and learn about Jesus.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


We drove through the color infused Minnesota River valley and bluffs of southeastern Minnesota.

We walked on a squash-laden porch.

Mother, daughter and granddaughter worked side by side making the most cherished American dessert -- apple pie.  Lunch was made of America's most feel-good dish -- chicken noodle soup.

We walked through the woods finding the treasures of three-year-olds and seeing where the paths would lead.

We experienced fall in our great state of Minnesota; most of which was on 7 acres I called home for 16 years.  Lilyana considers it her home away from home.  She knows how to have fun ... swinging, climbing trees, tireswinging, crawling across wood piles, walking through the woods, gathering sticks and running, running, running. 

We had a beautiful mini-vacation; we came home with a mountain of apple and squash goodness and will be back soon to experience it again and be of service.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Son

My son ... 18 years ago today your biological mother brought you into this world.  You would not know for many years what kind of damage had been done to your brain and thus to your life before you were born.

My son ... 18 years ago you fought to enter a world that would not be kind to you because of the brain damage you suffered.

My son ... 18 years ago today Dad and I didn't even know each other.

My son ... 18 years ago today I had no idea that in 8 years we would be welcoming you into our home as our son.

My son ... 8 years ago you had been living in our home, your new home, for one month.

My son ... 8 years ago we had no idea that in 6 more years you would be moving out of our home and we would lose contact and parental rights forever.

My son ... It has been 3 years since you've lived with us, since we've been able to spend quality time with you.

My son ...  I'm sorry you weren't able to stay living with us.  We fought until there wasn't anything left to fight with.

My son ... I would give my life to make you whole.

My son ... I would sell everything I own to give back what was stolen from you -- your innocence, your sense of safety, love, the brain cells that were damaged by alcohol.

My son ... You will be my son forever, beyond the day you die.

My son ... Today you turn 18

My son ... today the world will see you as an adult, treat you as an adult, give you access to things that are adult and judge you as an adult.  It's your job to show them that since you are an adult, you're going to make positive adult choices instead of the negative adult choices that people are expecting from you.

My son ... Welcome to a new world:  adult.

My son ... I LOVE YOU!  I will never give up on you.  Please don't give up on yourself.

Romans 8:28-- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

That means the mess that has been made of your life (by yourself and by others) is not out of God's realm of fixing.  If you give your life over to him completely, repenting of all your sins and putting yourself in God's and following his choices, he can make something good come from your life.  He will "repay you for the years the locusts have eaten--the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm--my great army that I sent among you."  Joel 2:25.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Caramel Apple Baked Oatmeal

Disclaimer:  This is not a food blog.  I don't take pictures of what I cook.  So this is a plain, no pictures post.  

I've been wanting to try baked oatmeal for a while now.  I've had different fruits I wanted to make use of but never had the energy.  But decided today was the day although some of the ingredients were made before today.

A couple weeks ago I took the apples I bought at the orchard and made some into chunky applesauce and froze it.  I didn't even peel the apples.  I cut them up, filled the crockpot and let them cook.  Once cool I put them in jars and froze.

Last night I saw a post about making homemade caramel sauce  and I thought I'd give it a try.  Only I didn't have sweetened condensed milk in my pantry so I made my own which is what I usually do since I don't keep it on hand. 

So today ... finally ... I decided to make baked oatmeal for supper.  I'm trying to think of new ways to get food into Lilyana.  It's been a very frustrating battle.  So I had seen this receipe  a while back and knew I would go back to it when I finally did make the oatmeal.  Then I realized the recipe required yogurt.  I didn't have any in the house.  I almost waited until Dan came home to send him to the store.  Then I remembered the caramel sauce I made last night and hit upon caramel apple baked oatmeal.  So my adaptation of the above recipe is as follows.  This is what I did today ... next time will probably be different. 

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (I used the chunky applesauce I had made)
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (I always use applesauce in place of oil in baked recipes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups apples (in my case I used the chunky applesauce I had made)
  • heavy cream, whipped or plain (I don't ever have this on hand, so I used more caramel sauce on the top of my portion)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a second mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, caramel sauce, milk, oil (or more applesauce), vanilla, and eggs.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry, and add the apples.
  6. Fold gently to combine.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden.
  9. Serve with cream, whipped or not (or more caramel sauce).
Lilyana, of course, took one look at it and declared it yucky.  Sigh.  So I heated up a pancake for her.  I don't like oatmeal that you eat for breakfast but I liked this.  It wasn't overly sweet so you could possibly add more sugar if you desired more sweetness but it was good.  You can also mix it up the night before and bake the next day.  I'm thinking it would be a good one for guests.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

God is Good

I wanted to complain

when my husband was gone all day and our daughter desperately wanted daddy's attention

I wanted to complain

when our daughter wanted to be outside in the cold and wind

I wanted to complain

that I wasn't getting any work done.

But then I reminded myself to be grateful
I wasn't a single parent
Our daughter is able to play outside
I have a job I love
God is good

I still FEEL like complaining but will not be guided by my feelings and remember

God is good ... all the time!

Friday, September 2, 2011


I just realized today there are some milestones happening this weekend.

We have lived here now for five years.  I don't know whether it's amazing-good or amazing-bad the enormous amount of things that have happened in those five years.  Now that I think about it, some of both.

One amazing-good thing is Lilyana which is another milestone.  Our little miracle baby will officially graduate from the church nursery.  Okay, so our church doesn't have nursery graduations but this will be her last official Sunday in nursery.  I say official because she's been attending preschool Sunday School all summer and she will be in first service nursery two Sundays a month because we are volunteering.  She started attending nursery at 8 months.  She would fall asleep on the way to church and we would lay her in the portacrib until she woke up.  She could barely sit up on her own.  I would put her snowsuit or some other padding behind her to cushion her fall.  She has come a long way. 

My parents will celebrate 53 years of marriage on Monday.  Three years ago when we celebrated their 50th she was only four months old and tiny.  This picture below shows the entire family except for our son Seth.  Now my brother has moved to Las Vegas, and my sister has moved to St. Francis, KS.  We are now even more spread out than we were three years ago.

Now she is 3 1/4 years old and taking on the world.

A weekend of milestones.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Color Coordination

Last week I took this color vision challenge.  My result was 0 which means I have perfect color vision.  And while I don't color coordinate the crayons in the box I do like to have my daughter's clothes color coordinated before going out in public.

Recently we've discovered that her favorite color is green.  Even though we told her it should be pink, it's still green.  I've been letting her pick her own clothes out once in a while with the hope that she'll pick something that coordinates so that we can go out in public.  She does, after all, have several shades of pink.  This morning, however, she decided she wanted green.  She picked out a green t-shirt with a design and plaid shorts that might have green in them but are mostly yellow and blue.  Definitely not color coordinated.

So don't be looking for us out in public today.  We will stick close to home and I will be looking for a 12-step program to cure my need for perfect color coordination in my daughter's clothes.

(I'd take a picture but my new-to-me phone doesn't have a data cable so I have to wait for Dan to come home so we can switch sim cards.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review

Cherished By Kim Cash Tate is a story mainly about Brian and Kelli, high school sweethearts, who ended their relationship with a lot of hurt still festering.  Seven years later the book takes us on a journey of mercy, grace and forgiveness not only for Brian and Kelli but also for other characters in the story.  It reminds us that God is there waiting to heal the hurt that we have inside no matter how “scandalous” we think it is.  One of my favorite quotes from the book is “The funny thing about forgiveness is God is much freer with it than humans are.”  Unfortunately, in the book and in real life many times Christians and the church are very free with their judgments of what they deem to be unforgiveable sin.  This book reminds us that God is the ultimate judge and no sin is too far from His grace.

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Ms. Tate before but I will look up other books authored by her.  It was an enjoyable read.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Call me Nahna

I have a most delightful little girl even when she refuses to take a bath.  Sigh. 

I was in the shower this morning and Dan's cell phone rang.  He was at work and so it rang and rang and rang.  Finally Lilyana picked it up.  I think she was too late but she answered it and started talking as she sometimes does.  She talked and talked like someone was on the phone.  Finally I heard, "okay, bye, bye."  As I continued getting ready to go to town she was still playing with it and I didn't think much more about it.  We  got to the store and my phone rang.  As I answered it and started talking I see her opening up Dan's phone and talk on it.  I'm thinking "where did she carry the phone?"  This little girl had put the phone in her pocket and carried while we walked to the post office and around the store without me knowing she had it.  I was quite amused.  I think it's still in her pocket.

I recently resigned from my very stressful job and one of the many people I'll miss is my friend, Missy Green.  She's a very happy, upbeat, friendly, helpful person.  But I will think of her often, at least once a day, because many times I when I say thank you or something to Lilyana I'll call her Missy, just because it sounds fun.  Every time Lilyana will say, it's Nahna.  Today when we got home from the store I said, "thank you, Missy."  She said "call me Nahna."  I found it amusing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fun with Lilyana

After my depressing post yesterday I thought I'd share some fun conversations with Lilyana.

Lilyana:  What's that noise?
Me:  Sump pump
Lilyana:  Washing machine.
Me:  You're right.  It's the washing machine.

On a trip to the grocery store:  I want to go to church.  I want to go to church.

At the grocery store I let her push the little cart.  She did an excellent job but every once in a while I had to help steer from the front.  When I did that she said:  Move the hand.  Move the hand.

Tonight she came up to me with a box and said "happy birthday."  The box was filled with letters.  It was not my birthday but she gave me something that was precious to her ... letters.

And finally, we have one pull up left and so we've been scrounging around the house to find anything that might work for a pull up or diaper in her size.  We have some Goodnights but they are too big for her right now.  I was surprised when I found a diaper in size 5, wondering how that had gotten past and not used.  So while Dan was putting the diaper on we found out why it hadn't been used.  One of the tabs had pulled off.  So he used packing tape to keep it on.  I tried to keep her distracted so she wouldn't get tape on her skin.  So I put a Goodnight on her head (it was clean, brand-new and never used).  She called it her monster mask. 

And we did not let her wear it to bed. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My mood of late

Disclaimer:   I am very proud of Calsey and what she's accomplished.  She signed up for National Guard when she was 17 at the end of her junior year of high school.  She then went on to basic training and passed with flying colors.  She then worked hard to complete her senior year of high school but was unable to graduate.   She left for AIT after that and worked hard to get her GED.  She is now an active member of her Guard unit driving form Sioux City, NE to St Peter, MN to complete her drills.  She is a single mom and doing extremely well.  What I have to say next has no reflection on Calsey's choices.  It's just a loss I have to grieve and in no way do I want Calsey to feel shame or think that we are disappointed in her.  With that said:

I've been a little depressed and antisocial lately.  I realized last weekend that it is the season of graduations.  Even though I didn't feel that loss the year Calsey was to have graduated, it came fast and furious this year.  All the failure that I've taking upon myself came back to me in my failure to help my daughter graduate.  I wanted to be able to tell people and write on facebook and tweet that my daughter graduated high school and we would be holding a party to celebrate.  But I couldn't and will have to wait 15 years to be able to do that with our 3 year old.  By then all the friends my age will have adult children and we may well have drifted apart.  So that is another loss that I didn't think about that I will have to grieve about.

Another thing that has been depressing me lately is my job.  There have been some major changes, new retraining.  It is worse than prison because we cannot have paper, pens, book or calendars at our desks.  Lately the call volume has been very slow and usually we were able to read while we weren't on the phone.  But that has been taken away so we sit there waiting to take a call.  It's going to be hard to keep from wanting to quit.  This weekend I've been pondering a decision about whether to continue with this company with all the change going on.  I have a very challenging bookkeeping job at home and I really don't want to have my call center job become challenging.  After much thought and prayer I decided that I would continue working there.  I can use the down time to pray.  But I will now switch my 3 tens for five 5 hour days.  It might help with the boredom.  So until God says otherwise, I will still be working at YA.

And if that weren't enough to add to my depression is the fact that my house is a huge mess.  I feel overwhelmed (and that's an understatement) about cleaning it.  I know that there are things I cannot take care of and it's just so much that I hardly feel like starting. 

So that is honestly where I'm at.  I'm trying to figure out a way to get through this for Lilyana.  She deserves a clean house, sitting around a table as a family and parents with energy to play with her and do things with her.  Right now I feel we are old, tired and depressed parents and Lilyana deserves better.  It doesn't help that I'm in constant pain whether I'm sitting or walking.  I've also got a tingly feeling in my hands and feet and my feet are also numb at times.  So I know that I will be seeing the doctor again and again to try to get better and be able to be what Lilyana needs me to be.

I know this has been a depressing post but it's what's in my heart tonight and I needed to get it out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Random Thoughts

New things learned this week (I know it's Wednesday but it seems like the weekend since we've been gone for the last 48 hours):
1.  Lilyana can spell her name (verbally not written).
2.  Lilyana knows to add one S to get 2 of something (we'll work on more than 2 later).
3.  Lilyana learned a new body part:  ankle.

On the way home from Zumbrota she saw a Z in the clouds.  And while we were passing through a roundabout in New Prague, she noticed that the "mighty machine" was gone.  Several weeks ago on another pass through New Prague we saw a machine planting trees in this roundabout.  She has quite the memory.

And other non-Lilyana related thoughts:  Chuck Swindoll has had a few posts this last week about the journey and wilderness on the way to the Promised Land (scroll through the archives to see other posts).  And then today my friend, Claudia, asks "What is my wheelchair? What are the things that I view as difficult in my life? Am I running away from the purpose God has for me in them? Or am I willing to accept them and grow closer to God because of them? Will I allow them to produce fruit in me? Am I really willing to participate in His suffering, as Paul wrote, in order to experience the power of his resurrection?" 

So maybe I should find joy in the journey, through the trials, aches and pains, and the hard road of relationships, instead of plodding along only thinking about the joy at the end.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Conversations and Praises

On the way to church today Lilyana talked all the way.  Some of the things she said:

1.  She sang the alphabet song several times.
2.  "Add s to cows and get 2 cowses" (sometimes she doesn't understand it's only s)
3.  She spelled her name.
4.  "Add s to Lilyana and get 2 Nanas"

It's always interesting to listen to her talk.

Praise God!  Josh Lord was in church today.  If you've been following his story you know he was on the brink of death on April 10.  He is making a remarkable recovery.  Please continue to pray for him. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

I have debated about blogging about Mother's Day.  I am not a fan of celebrating people only on certain days.  My husband and I have an agreement that we do not give gifts to each other for birthdays, Mother's or Father's day, etc.  We just do not have the extra money to spend and since neither one of us has a love language of receiving gifts, we don't miss it.

I find Mother's Day especially difficult for different reasons.  When I was younger, it was difficult because I wasn't married or have kids.  During that time, my sister would send me cards on Mother's Day because I was an aunt.  It was nice to be recognized for that.  Thanks, Brenda. 

After I got married at the ripe old age of 32, it took us 5 years before we had kids.  We adopted Calsey and Seth at the ages of 11 and 8, respectively.  We were blissfully unaware of the war that would culminate in 6 years.  Adopting kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder means that Mother's Day and mom's birthday will not be reasons to celebrate.  Many kids with RAD blame the mom figure for the loss of their birth mom.  If I didn't like Mother's Day before this, I liked it even less now.

By the time of 11 years of marriage we were anticipating the birth of our only biological child.  Someone who we would be able to form into a young lady that embraced our values and respected us as her parents.  She would not know the trauma caused by abandonment, neglect and transiency.  She will be attached.  But during that same year of marriage we "lost" a son.  Because of some false allegations we were forced to terminate our parental rights to him.  So he will now age out of the system in less than a year at age 18 with no legal parents.  And while our daughter is still legally ours, we don't see nearly as much of her or our grandson as we'd like.

There is so much for me to grieve over about Mother's Day and so it still fills me with dread.  I grieve for the loss and abandonment Calsey and Seth had to suffer in their early years.  I grieve that those feelings were transitioned to me and they were never really able to see me as the mom figure that they should have.  I grieve for the hopes and dreams that I had before I had children of how the lives of those children would be.  I grieve that I was not able to hold them as babies, meet their needs, and teach them how to trust.  I grieve that Lilyana will probably never know her brother and sister like "normal" siblings know each other.  She is, for all practical purposes, an only child.  It grieves me that she will miss learning how to get along with others which is taught by having siblings.

But there is joy.  There is joy in that Calsey and Seth's birth mom gave them life.  She had another option and had she taken it, we would not have known them and been able to share in 6 years of their lives.  Through adopting them I have learned books worth of knowledge about RAD, FASD, PTSD and other acronyms.  And God, knowing we would need some serious joy, gave us that miracle baby we call Lilyana.  Had we not had Lilyana, we would have sunk into deep depression and maybe never returned after the loss of our son. 

But, now, as far as I'm concerned I have three children and one grandchild.  The older two are doing their own thing but I am still their mom and will be there for me whenever they need me.  The younger one, I hope, will allow me to be the mom I was meant to be and will allow me to guide her so that one day I can say about her "Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I love you.  Thank you for all you do for us and the sacrifices you've made for us.

Happy Mother's Day to my mother-in-law in heaven.  I wished you could have met Lilyana.  I know you would have loved her and she you.  We miss you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Third Birthday

I cannot believe three years has passed since we brought home our 3 lb 12 oz baby girl.  Time has passed so quickly. 

After an eventful week of illness for me we traveled to Zumbrota to celebrate with Grandpa and Grandma.  Since I had been in the hospital overnight and was pretty frazzled I totally forgot to pack church clothes so I did the unthinkable and brought my little girl on her birthday to church ... in jeans (gasp). 

Mom and I made cupcakes and since Lilyana is in love with Word World she sees cupcakes and says "share the pupcakes, don't eat the pupcakes."  

We celebrated with Grandpa and Grandma and Lilyana's great Aunt Rosella.  We had a great time.  Next time you see her ask her how old she is.  She'll say "free." 

She is so fascinated with letters.  She sorts them, lines them up.  She'll even bring letters to you and lay them.  Sometimes they will be put in the correct order for whichever word she wants but always she will have the correct letters and tell which word it is.  And she will be great at spelling bees because she always says the letters and then states what the word is.  Truck and water are two of her favorites.

We haven't made it in for her three year well check yet.  We had anticipated letting it lapse because her pediatrician told us last year that she could skip it.  But we have some things we want to discuss with him so after that's done we'll have a new weight/height to update you on.

But until then we'll continue with reading and spelling and playing outside which are three of her favorite activities.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I did on my Easter vacation

Okay, so maybe not a vacation but I had five days off of work.  We left Friday night after an amazing service at our church

Since my dad had broken his foot about two weeks ago and my parents were out of wood for heating their house we spent Saturday afternoon cutting, splitting and hauling wood.  Of course, one is never too young to help.

So Lilyana helped by throwing sticks and logs out of the back of the pick up.  What a great job she did!  To top it off she even got a tractor ride.

Sunday we attended church with my parents after a spectacular breakfast prepared and cleaned up by the men of the church.  Thanks! 

Sunday afternoon was so nice we spent much of it outside

riding a big wheel (still working on steering and pedaling), swinging, sliding, swinging, sliding.  You get the idea.  Sunday night we were blessed with an impromptu visit by my Uncle Merle on his way home from his son's house in the cities.  It was great to see him again and listen to his stories.  Everything is an adventure with him and it's fun to listen to him.  Sadly, his wife, my Aunt Bette passed away suddenly about 18 months ago.  We miss her dearly.

Monday morning I was awakened by my human alarm at 5:30 even though my phone alarm was set for 6:00.  I had to take my mom down to the hospital to have the cataract removed from her second eye.  She'd had the other one done about three weeks ago before my dad broke his foot.   Before nap we spent more time outside swinging and sliding and swinging and sliding.  After nap we packed up and left for home.

We will be back again next weekend to celebrate Lilyana's third birthday.  I can't believe how time has flown and that our 3 lbs 12 oz little baby

 is now about 35 lbs. 

And that is how we spent our Easter vacation.  Stay tuned for next week's blogisode from her birthday party.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shhh ... Spring

Do I dare say it?  You know, the S word.  No, not snow.

That's right.  SPRING.  I think spring has finally arrived in Minnesota.  Temps in the 50s.  Sun.  Lilac buds.  Yep, all those define spring.  We have even taken the risk of .....

... setting up the trampoline.  The risk of snow is less than the joy of jumping.  And added to the battle of food, sleep, dressing and obedience is the "hat transition."  I wonder how long it will take to forget the winter hat and put on a summer hat.  I did get her take off the hat.  It's now hidden.

More signs of spring ....


I love perennials.  

And, yes, that's my garden.  I didn't do anything to clean it up last fall.  We were not prepared for winter to arrive when it did and to have weekly snow falls.  We haven't decided if we're going have a garden this year.  Dan wants to move it.  

And one last picture.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Super Groupon/Ebay deal

Groupon has a super deal going on today.  If you spend $7 you can get a $15 ebay gift card that may be applied toward tax & shipping and may be used over multiple visits. We love ebay when we can get a good deal and so we'll be getting something half off or we can buy something and not worry about shipping charges.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I have a love/hate relationship with Sundays.  I love our church but I hate mornings.  I realized after I went to bed last night that I had left my phone, aka alarm clock, upstairs.  So I decided to wait and find out if I woke up on time.  I woke up around 7 and decided to not get up at my usual 7:30 and that this morning we would just go to SS.  At 7:30 I heard my phone alarm go off.  I think I might have audibly groaned.  I decided to wait to see if Dan would come and get me but before that happened I heard, "daddy, daddy, daddy."  (insert more groaning)  I decided God thought I should be in church.  So we got up and got ready for church.

Halfway to church we were pulled over.  Our tabs were expired on the van.  That was news to me as I don't remember receiving notices.  Obviously I dropped the ball on this as it is my job to make sure we have tabs and Dan's job to put them on.  Fortunately we were let off with a warning and made it to church on time.  Unfortunately I still intensely dislike law enforcement and get a PTSD reaction just seeing them.  (I know, I know, I need to get over it.)

Then we found out that the son of friends of our from church has been diagnosed with leukemia.  All I can do is pray which is probably better than anything else.  I haven't been a good friend to anyone for several years as I have nothing to give emotionally, physically or mentally to anyone other than those in my household. 

So by 9:30 I felt a migraine coming on and just wanted to disappear.  But we teach two-year-old SS so I had to make it thru the morning.  One part of SS is joining the preschool for singing and story time.  I smiled as I watched Lilyana participate in the singing and copy the motions.  I have to remember to charge the video camera for May 22 when she will participate in her first SS performance.  Now if we can just get her to sit still quietly during the story. 

So we finished up SS and headed home only to discover that the last two donuts were left too close to the edge of the counter and Cinder, our dog, had an unexpected snack.  Normally she doesn't get stuff off the counter but apparently we need to push things back.

Now I hope the rest of the day will be low key and relaxing before work starts again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who am I?

I'm going to start new series of blog posts about my life and people who've come across my life.  It may not be in chronological order, just as I am led to share something.  I'm going to start with a brief history of my beginnings.

I was born Nov 7, 1965 at Olmstead Hospital in Rochester, MN.  During that time my parents and 22 month old sister lived in a cottage on a small gravel road leading to a campground near Zumbrota.  When I was about 2 we moved to an acreage east of Zumbrota where I lived until I was 18 and where my parents still live.  Our house was built around the end of the 1800s.  As there were only two kids at the time and we were young, we started out sleeping in the living room.  Exactly four years after I was born, along came the first son, my brother and then 20 months later a second son, my youngest brother who is the baby of the bunch.  At some point my sister and I moved upstairs into a room that was fairly small.  We had bunkbeds and a dresser.  When it was time to move the boys upstairs, we girls moved down the hall to the big bedroom.  We got to sleep on opposite sides of the room, have our own desks, dressers and we had a closet.  That was our room until my sister left for Bible school.  Finally, at long last, I had my own room, well until she came home for visits.  But the rest of the time I loved it.  No more being the target of the hard plastic hamper that broke a windowsill.  Room to do as I wished.  I lived there for 2 more years before I too ventured off to Bible School.  Now we call that room the dorm because it can house at least five grandkids at one time.

... to be continued.


I went in to work extra hours today hoping to make another 10 but I didn't feel good so I left halfway through.  If I hadn't I would have missed this
and this
and this.

How blessed am I!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Dream

8 1/2 years ago we started our journey of parenthood.  But the birth story of our two oldest children was much different.  Instead of going to the hospital, laboring for an eternity and then finally giving birth to a healthy baby, we drove to Iowa loaded up two kids ages 8 and 11 and drove them back to Minnesota to live with us.

Instead of bringing home cute babies to coo over, to attach with and just love on, we brought home cute children to love on and parent in the best way we knew how with children who had experienced trauma.  That last one's a challenge.  In simple terms we were trying to love and attach to two kids who had never had love or attachment which made them trust only themselves.  In our naivete we thought with traditional parenting and lots of love we could heal that trauma.  But it didn't.

Below is a chart that shows a healthy attachment cycle.
Unhealthy attachment presents itself in baby has a need so baby cries and needs are met by caregiver and trust develops and baby has a need so baby cries and needs are not met by caregiver so no trust develops and baby has a need and since last time the needs are not met by caregiver so baby doesn't cry and so no trust develops and you get the idea.  We've got a baby who sits in a dirty diaper all day with a bottle propped up against him/her.  No holding, no attention, no meeting basic needs.  So with this scenario the kids grow up trusting only themselves because they can't trust anyone else, especially an adult in a caregiving role (mom!) to meet their basic needs, not to mention the needs that aren't basic.

So we bring home the two great children who had bred into them that they shouldn't trust adults, especially adults who want to love you and take care of you and keep you safe.  Oh, no, no way, not going there.  "I am the only one who can keep me safe.  No one else is trustworthy enough to keep me safe."  And so being safe becomes their priority.  It presents as the child constantly being on the lookout for people who might be talking about them, making fun of them, making sure they have extra clothes at school just in case they get taken to another foster home straight from school.  It's call hypervigilence.  Imagine a child who is so concerned about their basic safety trying to learn what's being taught in school.  In a "normal" world by the time the child reaches school age, they've been taught who can keep them safe:  parents, teachers, police officers.  So they are ready to learn.  Not my children. 

Now children who have had early life trauma and many transitions to homes have learned to be actors.  In order to survive these kids had to be able to act and lie and do whatever it takes to get what they need.  Things that parents or caregivers should be doing.  So these children came into our home and all seemed to be going very well at first.  It's called the honeymoon period.  Then that wears off and the behaviors begin.  Lying and stealing because they have to make sure they are taken care of because we're not trusting this new mom and dad.  Then when mom and dad start cracking down on the behaviors, the kids then start telling lies about the parents to teachers or social workers or any other adult they can bring to their side to get them what they want.  And parents don't always know these conversations are going on because these adults don't have to tell the parents what the students confide to them.  Then the parents get visits from police and social workers to investigate claims made by the children that they are being abused.

Fast forward to June 2008 when we were totally unprepared at what we thought was a regular hearing for a child who'd run away.  Out comes a letter from our son stating some nontruths about what living at home was like.  Unfortunately because this was not our first time in court for this kind of a charge, he was believed and he was going to foster care and we were going to have to earn him back.  Now if you know us and do the math, in June 2008 we had a six-week-old baby who had been born premature.  It was no longer us the parents trying to meet the needs of the older two children but also trying to meet the basic needs of a premature daughter and form attachment with her.  By December of 2008 we decided that enough was enough.  We were being asked to jump through the many hoops of the social service system and our financial and emotional reserves were tapped out.  We made the heart wrenching, horrific decision to terminate our parental rights to our son.  Our daughter would turn 18 in three months and she chose to stay with us.  So now legally we are not our son's parents but we are his sister's parents.  And that decision has led to us seeing him only a handful of times out in public places like the grocery store. 

We are still grieving the "perfect" family we thought we'd have.  We are still grieving the better life we thought our kids would have.  We are still grieving the loss of our son.  He will be 18 in September and unless other circumstances prevail, he will age out of the system without legal parents.  He'll be welcome to connect back with us but he may choose to live with or near his biological family where our daughter has chosen.  So at this point in our lives we have a twoalmostthree daughter who doesn't know her brother and barely knows her sister living as an only child.  We are grandparents to our daughter's son and have only seen him twice in 10 months.  His great-grandparents have only seen him once for about 5 minutes.  It makes me sad that we can't have a better relationship with him.  Our daughter is caught between her biological family, her baby's father's family and us.  We have decided not to put any pressure on her and pull her in our direction since we feel she's got enough pressure going on where she's living.  We accept and are grateful for what we get and pray that God will someday bring her back into his fold and heal her so that she can make the right choices.

Even upon living with all that, I would  happily welcome an older child to adopt from the foster care system.  I believe that I could find a teenager that would not present with the problems we had with our son and daughter.  I know the signs and behaviors to watch for even in a bio and talking to the child and their caregivers.  I am saddened to know that so many kids will age out of the system at 18 with no one to be their home base.  I would have been lost if I had no family at age 18 and I was attached.  We need to find those kids who are going positive directions and give them a place to land when they need one.   Not necessarily try to parent them in the traditional sense but "I am here for you forever when you need me." 

As for the ones who come into the foster care system not attached and headed for trouble, we need to find a way to teach them to attach.  It can be done and it needs to start as soon as they enter the system because the younger they are the better chance they have at attaching.  By age 10 the window for attachment is pretty much closed.  These are the kids who be troublemakers and in jail, making babies who will grow up unattached unless the right interventions come along for them.

I don't want to see the system continue as it is but right now I don't know how to make change happen.