Friday, May 15, 2015

Mama

Tonight our little girl called me Mama.  And my heart melted.

She has been with us for about 3 weeks now and Ryan and I have both fallen in love with her very quickly.  She is quirky, has a happy personality, is naturally athletic and loves to sing and giggle.  She is loving and is becoming a beautiful little girl.  Even on her rough days she brings joy to our home. She loves to look for rainbows and you would think it was Christmas when she sees one - like this one we saw on our way to Helena.


And if I leave my phone alone I often find at least 30 selfies that she has taken while I'm cooking dinner or doing laundry.  Or I find pictures like these



We initially met little R a couple of months ago when a woman I go to church with called me to say they had a girl living with them that is up for adoption. She had heard we would like to adopt and was wondering if we were interested in getting to know little R.  We thought about it for a few days and then agreed to get to know her a little bit before deciding if we would like her to be placed with us. She came over for visits and we played and colored and went to the park and did all the things a little girl likes to do. Both Ryan and I thought it would be a good thing for her to come live with us. 

So we took the leap!  She was sad to leave her last home but is adjusting to us as her 'parents'.  She has been used to having multiple kids around in previous homes and would like to have other kids around to play with. We try to keep her busy after school and have begun looking at extra curricular activities.   


I was very selfishly excited to be able to truly celebrate Mother's Day this year.  It is still a bitter-sweet feeling, but not nearly as painful as previous years.  Having little R come home with a little plant meant more to me than any other gift I ever could have received. 

Adoption is a long and arduous process in the Foster Care world and we are not entirely sure what the future will bring.  But we are excited to be going in the direction of providing a "forever family" for little R.  She is required to live with us for at least 6 months before we can even begin the adoption process.  And then the process itself can take at least 6 months to a year.  Or longer from what we've heard.  We do not talk to little R about adoption and probably won't have that conversation with her until we are a little more confident about everything.

There are a number of issues involved with this specific situation and both Ryan and I are fully aware that anything can happen within the next 6 months.  I feel like I'm constantly holding my breath right now just waiting for something to happen in this process. A few people have asked us if we are planning on adopting her.  I tend to stiffen up a little when people ask.  Not because I don't want to talk about it, but because I am so incredibly scared we are going to get our hearts broken. It is hard to not want to protect my heart and remain a little reserved about it. But I have felt very good about having her with us and for now that is enough. We are not counting on the system working in our favor - but we are hopeful! Ultimately, we are just happy to be able to offer little R a stable and safe home.  


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Being a Parent-ish

I have not quite been sure what to say about being a foster parent but have felt very prompted to write about it.  So I'm buckling down and writing on my blog again.

Ryan and I have always known we would not have children of our own due to my health problems.  My medications do not allow me to get pregnant as the Methotrexate I take every week will either abort a child or cause severe deformations.  We have talked a lot about adopting or becoming foster parents and decided on fostering simply because of the costs associated with adopting.  We just don't have the money for adoption!

Last year we had a period of time where we thought I was pregnant.  Fear and longing were only two of the many emotions both of us felt.  We want children, but I would never forgive myself if I accidentally became pregnant and the child was ill or had deformities simply because we were careless.  By the time we knew for sure I was not pregnant we had gotten the idea of a child in our heads.  We longed for a child.  So we decided to move forward with the long process of becoming foster parents.

After 6 months of paperwork, background checks, home inspections, interviews and waiting.... waiting.....waiting, we received a call in August.  There were two boys from Great Falls in need of a home for a few months.

All of our waiting and trying to get ready did not prepare me for the anxiety I felt!!!  I was in Helena and Ryan was in Kalispell when I received the call so we both scrambled back to Havre.  I was panicked we were not quite ready, and nervous about what we were about to get into. There was a mix-up at Social Services and they did not have enough people to bring the boys to us so we drove to Great Falls to pick up the boys.  SUCH. A. LONG. DAY.

The first day with the boys (Big K and Little K) was rough.  ALL of us had tears, confusion, anxiety, and fear.   Big K did ok at first - he took longer to process his feelings.  But Little K cried almost the entire night until he literally dropped with exhaustion.  I was holding him when he suddenly just dropped his head on my shoulder and stopped crying.   So we just cuddled in the recliner until he was in a deep enough sleep to let me put him in his crib.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to see how sad and defeated he seemed to be.   Big K's emotions came out at random times, in the middle of dinner at the dinner table, during primary, playing at the park, etc.  And then it became obvious he was using his emotions as a manipulative to get what he wanted.  I became MUCH less sympathetic when I realized this.  I do believe he had very deep emotions and very painful experiences he was sorting through. But I know he was using these emotions and the sympathies of others to his advantage.  It was hard knowing when to be empathetic and when to walk away from the tears. I have had to remind myself that with all the feelings and thoughts I have struggled with, I (for the most part) know how to deal with everything.  Triple these feelings and thoughts and shove them into a brain and heart that has no idea how to process or deal with them and this is probably how Big and Little K felt. 




The boys were with us for about 9 weeks and towards the end of it we were ready for them to go.  We had always known they were not going to be with us for very long and did not bond with them emotionally.  We enjoyed their company and I truly appreciated being a "mother" for those weeks.  But the stress that came with their (severe) emotional and mental issues took its toll on Ryan and me.  It is hard protecting their privacy while explaining why we felt the way we felt!  Ultimately, we knew our home was not the right place for them and we were not capable of providing them with everything they needed. I have felt guilty about this at times but when all is said and done it comes down to being true to ourselves and protecting our home.


We have been hopeful for them.  We hope their family is able to provide a healthy and safe environment for them.  We hope they are growing and happy.  We hope they will never need to go through the fear and confusion of being taken away from their family again.

We went through a few stages of grief when they left but have re-adjusted to not having children in our home. I have thought about and worried for Little K very frequently.  He has been on my mind quite a bit and I have found myself worrying about him enough times that I have put his name on a few different prayer rolls.  I recently found out my mom has had the same thoughts and worries for him.  This makes me wonder what is going on if we are both feeling this.  But we continue to hope for him.

Ryan and I asked to have a break for a couple of weeks before having another child placed with us so we could emotionally recover.  I also needed time to catch up at work and get my house clean again.  Now we are both ready for the next child.  We are anxiously waiting!  My phone is always charged and always on.  And we are excited again to have another child in our home.

The long-term plan is to adopt a child.  I pray daily for "our" child and hope he/she is placed with us soon.  I have thought often of who might be waiting for us as parents and what we can do to prepare for him/her.  I know at some point we will have a child we can adopt and call our own but it is just a waiting game until that happens.  Until then, Ryan and I are grateful for the opportunity we have to provide our home to those who need it. 


Thursday, August 1, 2013

End of Summer

It has been over a year since I have posted!  I am not sure if anyone has missed my posts, but I thought I would write an update.

This last year has been filled with ups and downs but the summer's peacefulness has made up for quite a bit.

Some of the most enjoyable moments of the summer have included family.  I had an opportunity to meet up with my brother Chris and his family when they were in Portland.  I have missed the city! Portland is one of my favorite places and my niece and nephew are two of my favorite people.


Trever had a basketball tournament, which was fun to watch.  It has been 2 years since I have seen the kids and they have each grown about 6 inches.  I can't believe Trever is 6'3 and has curly hair!  Payton is a teen aged girl but has a sweet heart.

Chris's youngest girls spent time with Grammy and Papa Jon so I was able to spend time with them when I was in town.  We spent a lot of time at the water and having slumber parties at my cabin.  They enjoyed helping me decorate and get my cabin ready for guests. 



 I am proud of the people my nieces and nephew are becoming and wish I could spend more time with all of them!  I feel a little left out of the family because it has been so long since I have seen them.  But we all have such separate lives, which can't be helped right now. 

Ryan is getting ready for football season and I will begin my new position at Havre High School as the Business and Computer teacher.  We are both excited for the year to start. I am NERVOUS but excited!

In the meantime - this is my office for the next couple of weeks!





Saturday, November 3, 2012

Native American Week

These pictures are SUPER late, but I wanted to go ahead and post them. 

One of the great things about teaching at the school I'm teaching at is being involved with various cultural activities.

Native American Week was in September and the school had what is called a "Round Dance".  I still don't fully understand the significance of this, but I think it was to simply celebrate the school year, their culture, and the week.  The school population is 98% Native American so the week was a big deal.

We have about 10 students in the K-12 grades that dance and it was wonderful to watch.  Elders from the community came in to drum and to speak to the kids.  The costumes are all handmade and weigh a ton.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Spoon Lady

I have been getting this question a lot "How are you doing?"  It's always kind of a funny question to me.  I never quite know how to answer it. I don't want people to worry about me or feel sorry for me.  So I usually just tell people "I'm doing good."  And the response is "Are you sure?"  or something similar.  For the most part I AM doing good.  But the questions persist.  And the best way I can think of to respond is (for today) "I have a lot of spoons today".  And most of you will have NO IDEA what I'm talking about.



My friend, Christine, shared an article she read a while ago called The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino.  This is easily one of the best articles I've read regarding coping with a chronic illness.  The author has Lupus, which my disease is often compared to.  Wegener's seems to be a cross between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, with a few other things thrown in just for the fun of it.  But anyone that has anything affecting their immune system shares in coping with the exhaustion and fatigue that comes with it. 

Read the article before you read the rest of my post!!!  Otherwise this post is going to just be a bunch of nonsense.

In the article, Miserandino compares her energy level to a group (batch? drove? gaggle?) of spoons.  Every time she does something that expends energy, she loses a spoon.  And she only has a specific amount of spoons to "spend" during the day.  Kind of like the envelope system for all you Dave Ramsey lovers - when you're out, you're out!  Choosing what to use the spoons on can be difficult and frustrating.  And I ALWAYS want more spoons.

When I initially got out of the hospital I had maybe 1 spoon per day. My energy level slowly increased and now  I'm up to about 10-15 per day (typically).  This definitely fluxuates, but overall this seems to be the norm. Today is a good day as far as my energy is concerned.  Which is why you, my fine friends, are getting a blog post!

Still on Prednisone, but a much lower level.  I will continue to taper down for about 2-3 more months (I hope?) before I'm completely off.  Still doing Methotrexate.  I take my pills Friday night and tend to sleep all weekend.  It's not uncommon for me to roll out of bed at about 6pm Saturday night. And then sleep in until about 1 or 2pm on Sunday.  For real.  If I don't sleep during the weekends then I'm useless during the work week.  And I'm required to show up for work, so the decision has pretty much been made for me regarding that. Lungs are doing better - still not able to exercise though because they just aren't strong enough yet :(.  Joints are still stiff every once in a while.  Sinuses and throat are still kind of a wreck. 

I think this pretty much covers it for now?  Still lovin' all the words of encouragement and love I have been receiving.  All of it definitely keeps me going!




READ THE ARTICLE! :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

House Projects

Now that I am back in our house (our wonderful mold and dog hair free house!), I have been doing one of the things I love the most.

House projects!  

Ryan and I decided to paint this last week before the start of football for him and school for me.  He's kind of my hero for helping me paint.

Remember this room?  


It now looks like this:



Please disregard the wrinkled sheets. I refuse to iron them!  And everyone that knows me knows this is the only time the bedroom will be clutter free.  I had to take a picture of it!  It is pretty simple, but I am finding that more and more I appreciate Simple.

Ryan narrowed down the color to Blue (his favorite color) and I picked the shade.  You can see how itty bitty our rooms are in the house.  Let's face it, I've owned area rugs larger than these rooms.  They are typical of the 1950's homes in this area and I am learning to enjoy the coziness of a small space.  And the rooms take much less time and effort to paint than larger rooms, which I appreciate.  I am tossing around the idea of adding crown molding, but that is a project for another time. 

Remember this room?


It now looks like this:



We found out the hard way queen size beds do not fit down our stairs.  So my office is now in the basement and the guest room is on the first floor.  I think this is a MUCH better accommodation for our guests.  You can't really tell, but the middle picture is the same turquoise as a couple of the pillowcases on the bed.  That is one of my new favorite color combos - yellow, turquoise, and gray. There are some things I think I will change later, but this is it for now.

It is amazing how much better I feel when I have a project to do and can stay busy.  I fully admit I don't have a designer's eye, but it feels good to try to make things look and feel better.  I long to be "house proud" (Nate Berkus fans know what I'm talking about) so I love doing things that make our home feel more inviting.  There is still so much I want to do to the house and I'm not very patient about everything.  But I think things are moving along in the right direction.    

One of my next tasks is figuring out what to do with our rooms' incredibly awkward windows.  They are high and short and anything I do will need to be customized because of the abnormal width.  We also have windows like this on one of the walls in our living room.  Let me know if you have any ideas!



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gratitude

There are too many days that I don't say "thank you" for some of the experiences I have in my life. 

Tonight as I watched the sunset, I was overwhelmed with what a blessing it has been to be here at the lake to rest and recuperate. I have had my mom (BLESS her) to take care of me when I needed to be taken care of. And I have had a lot of time for reflection and meditation. As awful as this summer has been, there are many things to be grateful for. 

 This was my view tonight.  How grateful I am.