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.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week in Review

It's Friday and we made it through another week.  I actually worked 40 hours this week with the extra hours I put in yesterday and today.  This weekend will be paying work free.  Since tomorrow is Saturday and bath day for Lilyana maybe she can play outside in the mud.  If anyone is lacking mud and would like some it is free for the taking at our house.

We also were able to spend some fun girl time this morning at a friend's house.  Sue is a great hostess, has a perfectly lovely house and as another friend put it we tried not to have house envy.  There was one other little girl there and Lilyana seemed afraid of her at first even though Belle is almost two years younger than her but after a while she seemed to enjoy her.  Maybe some playdates are in order. 

I cannot believe that in less than six weeks my miracle baby surprise will be 3 years old.  We need to start measuring her height on one of our walls.

Not much else is happening.  We are surviving and taking one day at a time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

God's Timetable

This morning as I got up way too early I was bemoaning the fact that some things didn't come through for us this weekend like we'd hoped.  I thought that with everything in place maybe we'd catch a break.  But that didn't happen and wondered why God thought we needed to continue to "suffer" and did not come through for us.  I was feeling sorry for us.  Then I read today's devotional by Chuck Swindoll.  He's been doing a series on Joseph.  Yes, it put me in my place.  God does not work on our timetable.  Joseph spent a long time waiting for God's plan to come to fruition and he suffered during that time.  I'm pretty sure Joseph suffered more than we are suffering right now.  We have health and good relationships with our family.  We are not in prison for doing the right thing. 

I guess I'll go take a nap and count my blessings when I get up to start a new week of opportunities.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crazy Week

I am halfway through a crazy week of life.  It began by having a work schedule that didn't make a whole lot of sense.  I was scheduled for Monday thru Wednesday 12:30-9 rather than my usual 10:30-9.  The remaining six hours are scheduled for Friday 7:00-1.  That is 7 AM.  Still in the middle of the night as far as I'm concerned.  I do not know what 7 am looks like.  Upon stepping into the call center on Monday I noticed extra hours posted.  I'm all for extra hours if they fit into my schedule.  So I signed up for 9-12 am for both Tuesday and Wednesday.  Yes, that's right, for those of you who did the math, that means I would be working 12 hours two days in a row.  I decided I could do it for two days.  After day 1 of 12 hours I made it most of the way home only to discover I had a flat tire.  So I called Dan and he picked me up and I thought my extra hours for the next day would have to be given up.  But we delegated the car responsibility to the local car repair shop and now have a used tire on there.  And I was able to do the extra hours on today so I have finished those two days.  Tomorrow being Thursday I am off work to recuperate and go to bed early to be at work at 7 am sharp.  Then come Sunday we begin Daylight Savings Time.  It is generally the most hated day of the year except to those who thrive in early mornings.  This year we are teaching Sunday School during second service which means we go to the first service which starts at 9 am which I thought was early enough already.

I've also realized that there are many behaviors of Lilyana's that have come to a head recently.  Potty training has been a bust.  Eating what is being served is nonexistent.  She might be happy living on pb sandwiches and milk.  Obedience limits are being tested.  Sleeping in a regular bed (not a crib) is challenging unless she's already asleep when she's put down then she's okay.  We're really exhausted trying to keep up on all this.  But in spite of all this, we enjoy spending time with her and she is such a smart and creative kid.  She will take two pieces of a puzzle and use the fork picture to eat from the watermelon picture.  Or she'll take the horn picture in one hand and the guitar picture in another and "play" the instruments.  She's learned the difference between a guitar and violin.  She's recognizes the word watermelon, among many others.

So I will plug away on the rest of the week and look forward to being back to the routine next week and then see what the next week will bring for my work schedule.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Batch/freezer cooking

Thanks to my mom I brought home a stash of meat and I've actually dealt with it making it into meal portions.  I have:

7 pounds of browned ground beef
three meatloaves
15 pieces of breaded chicken breast
1 ziploc with four pieces of marinaded chicken
1 chicken and biscuit casserole to be eaten for supper

That's at least 15 main meals with leftovers for lunches.  I'm happy.  Well, maybe not yet.  I still have to clean the kitchen.  Yuck.