Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I am a foster mom... and so can you!

Sorry- just had to reference Stephen Colbert sometime in this blog!
God has been asking me to write lately, but I don't feel like I can express what he wants so here I go anyway. The past few weeks I have been challenged, stretched, and rewarded as a mom. (By the way it still feels weird to call myself a mom and at times I don't feel I have "earned" the title in my 9 weeks of parenting!) I am reading an amazing book with an amazing group of women called The Gifts of Imperfection. In this book Ms. Brown's simple words, "we can't give our children something we don't have" really caught me. A few short months ago I would not have been able to give my (foster) son courage, security, self worth, or even acceptance of self, all of which are things he TRULY needs! I can now see God using me to pour these things into his life. A few weeks ago A attended Royal Family Kids Camp, a week long summer camp for kids in the foster system. On the morning we drove to the church, he begged, pleaded, and even cried to not make him go, to not send him away! Even though we had done lots of prep about camp, he was TERRIFIED! I was able to get him on the bus and when he returned from camp his first words were "thanks for making me be brave and go!" What a success!  During our home visits and GAL visits this month we were told that A was doing great, was demonstrating a lot less anxiety, and that we were doing a great job parenting and being patient and realistic in our expectations. I don't say these things to brag on Justin and myself, but to say that if the two of us broken and definitely imperfect parents can do this- so can you! I hear all the time from people "I could never do what you do", "that must be so hard", or "I'm glad there are people like you."  I truly cannot accept that it is God's will that there are 143 million orphans in our world right now. So many times I question "Is God not calling enough people?", "are we not listening to God's call to care for these children and their families?" I don't know the answer and I understand that not everyone will choose this life. I share our story because I believe that we would not have chosen this path if others (Brandy and TJ) had not shared their stories and their lives with us.    

Friday, June 22, 2012

Camping, and s'mores and mood swings- oh my!

The past two weeks have been some of the best and also some of our toughest weeks yet.  Last week we took A on his first camping trip. First of all- it is so sad that an almost 11 year old has never been on a hike, built a campfire, eaten a s'more, or slept in a tent.  We figured he would love it or hate it and thankfully- he loved it!  During our 7 mile hike (yes he hiked 7 miles!) he kept saying, "I feel like a king!  This is amazing!"  When we asked when he wanted to camp again he said, "Can we come back tomorrow night?" One thing that we didn't realize is that we left his ADHD medicine at home. Whoops!  With all the exercise and no technology and the fresh air- he was such a happy kid.  When we returned home we had to start his ADHD meds back- per county regulations.  He was back to our somewhat depressed and moody kid.  We started noticing that on his meds- he could go from happy kid to being in tears in a split second.  We would be in bed saying prayers all smiles and all of a sudden he would start yelling and crying about _____ (insert random topic).  It was so hard to see his little brain be so out of control and seeing him so distraught and unable to understand what he was even upset about.  We started researching his meds and side effects of them are: mood swings, depression, loss of appetite (all of the things he was showing us)  Thankfully we had a staffing this week and have 2 amazing and supportive social workers who set up a medication appointment for us with his psychologist for the next day.  We had all of our documentation, our notes, our record keeping and to our pleasant surprise- the doctor was on board!  A has been med free for 3 days and we are seeing a much happier, more in control kiddo.  He is still very hard on himself and pretty emotional, but we can now "talk him down" and are hopefully building some self-worth into his little brain that has been told "I don't care about you, you're not important/good enough/etc."  We are hoping that continuing to eliminate processed foods, getting lots of exercise, and continuing our therapy he will be able to go off or drastically reduce his meds.  With research showing that kids in foster care are medicated between 4-12 times more than kids with biological families, I feel like we have to speak up for our kids and what we are seeing.  Also just a tip for other foster parents out there- document, document, document- our MD was great, but she was really convinced by our "behavior and food journals".  When we were seeing odd behavior- we wrote it down, when he didn't want to eat- we wrote it down.  This really helped her to make a definite decision.  Thanks for everyone out there praying for us or thinking about us!      

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

First do no harm

So- when doctors take the Hippocratic Oath I guess it just applies to physical harm.

I'm amazed that we've gone this long, but today we had our first (awful/awkward?) encounter today as a foster family.  I expected it from well meaning strangers, or friends who just don't understand, but from a doctor who works exclusively with foster children....  So we go in for our required physical today and the doctor asks "So you are the new mom? Are you adopting Avery?"
Me- "umm, we are a therapeutic foster home"
Doc- "Wasn't he getting adopted by another family? Do you have his brother and sister?"
Me- "We just have Avery."
Doc- "So how long do you have him."
Me-  "We don't really know"
Doc- "Did he do something wrong, any behavior that got him kicked out of the house?"
Me- staring dumbfounded/giving him the did you really just ask me that in front of my kid look!
Doc- "Did they just not want him?"
Me- As I'm trying not to punch the doctor in the face or at least grab his ear to drag him out of the room like an old Southern grandmother "I'm not privy to all that information"

To top it all off he just continues the exam like he didn't just break the heart of my child all over again.
On a good note- he is retiring in 2 weeks!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Waiting (Room)

On Tuesday our foster care journey really began- Justin and I sat in the waiting room of a therapist's office while our future foster son was being told that he was not being adopted with his brother and sister and was instead coming to live with us "a therapeutic foster home".  As we sat I didn't know how to feel- sad, nervous, unprepared, underqualified.... basically scared out of my mind.  It resembled my memory of my wedding day when it was only me left in the quiet little room, that "oh my gosh- this is really going to happen" kind of feeling.  As we have started to move forward with life I just can't give enough (even though I am giving everything I possibly can) and I am truly understanding that love is not enough for these wounded hurting children.  I never realized how much I would have to trust HIM and know that HIS hand is in it all and just hope that I don't get in the way.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Food Savings

With the instability lately with Justin's work, we have been trying to find some ways to cut our budget.  We discovered that food costs were one of our biggest expenses as we buy organic whenever we can and eat very little processed food.  I did some research and came across a book called Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half.  It is written by "America's Cheapest Family" and wow did it really change the way I now shop and cook.  The good thing is that none of the strategies involve clipping coupons for hours or shopping 10 different stores each week- in fact one of the best tips that I am using is grocery shopping once a month.  It sounds a little crazy- but here is how it works:
1. Make a list of every meal you know how to make- I separated my list into different types of protein and vegetarian recipes
2. Look at your calendar for the month and plug in meals based on how busy your day is...i.e. if I will be in meetings at work till 7pm I'm doing a pot roast in the crock pot or if I am home at 3 I might make a more intricate meal. (You really only need about 20 meals because you will do leftovers about 2 nights per week)
3. Make a list of every item you need to make each of your meals, then cross items off your list that you already have in your kitchen
4. Check your store circular and decide which store has the majority of your items on sale.
5. If you have time check coupons- don't clip coupons for things you don't have on your list!

After just a couple months of doing this- we have saved a tremendous amount of money (and time) just by shopping once a month- I never realized how much I was spending just to stop by and pick up "a few things".

On my next post I'll talk about my once a month cooking day and a few other tips I picked up from the book.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Year, New Blog

After a long hiatus, I have decided to come back to the blog world. After talking to a few friends and co-workers I found out that Justin and I do a lot of things that are out of the ordinary- from vermiculture (worm farming) to fair trade to preparing for foster care- I guess we do things our own way. I hope to use this blog to inspire people who want to go green(er), become passionate about social justice, or maybe need some new vegetarian recipes. I hope I learn from all of you as well.