Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Have Been Slacking

My blogging time has been seriously interrupted lately by my choice of profession; Chief Operations Officer and Momma Extraordinaire for the Mr. Clean enterprise. Somehow these pesky offspring think they are entitled to all of my resources. Silly rabbits.

To prove them wrong, next week I promise to once again tie them up in the root cellar while I have my precious blog time, after I have returned home from the glorious Adirondacks, where I am currently.

Except that we do not have a root cellar and the law just might frown upon me tying them up down there. There is always something thwarting my plans...

See you soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gym On A Whim

Today in central PA it is a wonderful 79 degrees with absolutely no humidity. It is also the first day of public and private school in our area. So as the kids dutifully lined up and headed onto the big ol' yellow school bus this morning, my kids had a big breakfast made by their beloved uncle Jason, who is in town visiting for a few days.

Afterward he treated them to a street version of "four square" and dodge ball right in front of our house. For a good two hours they played outside with my brother, enjoying the amazing day.

There are days that I hope they are not sad to miss out on the "school bus experience" (although that is also the scariest and diciest place for a student to be according to some school admin friends of ours) and the excitement of a new school year with their peers. Then I realized this is much more memorable.

Had they been in a school building today they would have never been able to blow off their studies for a couple hours of just playing with an uncle they do not get to see all that often.

Today was absolutely a gift in every way.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday I hopped into my goober mobile (aka - the mini van) and drove to Maryland to my father's house. He, my stepmom, my two brothers and I then drove to the funeral home to say goodbye to my Aunt Mae who had been presumably murdered last week.

When I got there I was stunned. There was not a spot left to park, not even on the lawn of the funeral home. Cars were being directed to a near by high school parking lot. I come from an enormous family, but even our crew could not have taken over the entire funeral home, and this was the second viewing of the day. There had to have been over 200 in attendance for the evening wake. None who were just curious onlookers, all there knew her.

It was sobering to see her lifeless body laid out in the casket, carefully arranged and dressed to hide her deadly wounds, but even more encouraging to see the support being poured out to her husband of 34 years. It was worth the 300 miles and 6 hours round trip I drove to get there and back last night.

On the way home I had the chance to conjure up childhood memories of my aunt and relive times with her when I was younger. It was nice to have the time to do that during a quiet drive and to say my own goodbye.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Fine Day Indeed

I was expecting today to be hard. Really hard. Last night Mr. Clean held me as I cried myself to sleep while my brain and my heart duked it out over the little boys. This morning I woke up completely at peace.

Mr. Clean and I decided not to tell the boys about their move last night as we were afraid this would scare them prematurely, so this morning I set them down and talked up "Lori's house" (their new foster mother) and how excited I was for them that their caseworker, whom they adore, found a great place for them to live. Their response thrilled me. They wanted to leave right then and go meet Lori. John was really excited and Jay followed in his brother's steps.

At about 09:30 my friend Steph called and found out about the week's events for the first time. She was actually stunned silent and simply asked what she could do. Being quite clueless myself, she decided to take action. An hour or so later she came over with two frozen pizzas, juice boxes, dessert and her son in tow. Not being one who likes to be idle, she set to work cleaning my kitchen and picking up the family room and office floors while I had the hard task of popping two frozen pizzas in the oven. She was a Godsend.

Later I dropped off my four at a friend's house and the little boys and I headed to the agency's offices where we would meet with Lori. We all loved her and I was very comfortable with her. The boys will be the center of her and her husband's household as they are the only little kids. They were excited to go with her to meet her dog and check out her swimming pool. Only little Jay shed some tears and told me that he wanted to go, "in my car". After a snack and a pep talk he was all smiles again, gave me a hug and a kiss and waved good bye as they drove home.

I drove back to my house with a smile in my heart and my head. For the first time in days, they were back in harmony...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

With A Heavy But Peaceful Heart

Today was a court/review date for "John" and "Jay". I met Mom and Dad and all the attorneys and advocates involved. They talked to me, questioned me and were generally pleasant, yet I was unable to be honest with them and let them know that the boys are only with me until tomorrow. That would have ruffled feathers that the county did not want ruffled until after the court hearing.

My case worker and the boys' case worker met with me this morning and we talked about the options for the boys. We all agreed that "the sooner, the better", before school starts for John and they get too emotionally attached. It's too late for us in that regard, we think they are great. But we have a peace about them going to a different foster home, even though tomorrow will be a tough day.

The boys will be the two youngest in a family with only a 17 year old daughter. They will get ALL the attention that they need and will have a dog to boot (our dogs have no real interest in kids). I will get to meet the family tomorrow when I take the boys to their agency's office (they are not county foster parents, but with a private agency), so I am happy about that. At least I can tell them what I have learned in the past few days about the boys habits.

Pray for these little ones. They have transitioned easily into our home and I hope they will tomorrow as well with the new foster family.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Heartbreaking Few Days

After a lot of prayer and tears and gut wrenching conversations Mr. Clean and I made a hard, hard decision. We have to stop being a resource family for our newest little foster sons.

The boys are fantastic and the family that they live with will be blessed to have them as we are now. We ran with our hearts instead of our heads and jumped into a logistical jumble. We cannot safely transport everyone like we thought we could (which does not even include Mr. Clean, he has been driving a separate car).

Because 5 out of 6 kids require car or booster seats, in our current mini-van three kids would have to sit in the back and three boosters simply can not fit. I also forgot to factor in the fact that someone would have to sit up front with me. And the airbag. I just cannot risk one of my babies (foster or natural) getting hurt or killed by that very real danger.

This weekend we seriously considered upgrading our current van to one with 8 seats, but were sad to realize that we would have the same dilemma and getting a bigger style van really is not an option for us right now.

This led to other scenarios in our head that would make things challenging with 6 children and we started to have to make tough decisions. Today I called the boys' case worker to talk to her about our dilemma and thankfully I did. Because we were a "legal risk" family for Iggy (meaning we would desire to adopt him if that was an option) they assumed we were for the boys as well. We thought they just needed a home for a while until Mom and Dad got their act together and got them back, and were more than willing to offer that. The county is thinking they may not go back (but no one really knows). I am not sure we would have been their "forever family", nor did I know they were looking for that.

Another thing that worries us is that in just the past few days Iggy has seemed to have been put on the back burner, sheerly out of necessity. I have 4 kids almost down to a science. I have no clue how to do it with 6 kids and although I know I could learn to fenangle it, I do not want anyone in the family (foster boys and baby included) to suffer. It has already started.

So tomorrow I will meet with the case worker and her supervisor to see what can be worked out that will be a good and easy(ier) transition for the boys. I know that the Lord will provide for these two sweet boys but it breaks my heart that it will not be us. Pray for them during this time of transition and pray that the next family they get will be their's forever if they do not get to go back to their Mom and Dad. Pray for us that our hearts will mend soon. This was a terrible decision to make and one we never thought we would have to, but we really feel it was the correct one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Enemy Is Attacking

It has been a very rough few days emotionally (me), physically (kids), and probably mentally for Mr. Clean having to deal with it all. Today made it all look like child's play.

I found out this morning that my father's sister was found dead in her van parked along the side of a road. There has been an autopsy as she was severely wounded. At current it is being ruled a homicide due to the type of injuries. Pray for my parents, especially my father. This is a hard blow for him.

News release

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The "Icing" On The Cake

To finish off our spectacular day yesterday we were awakened to a LOUD thud at about 01:00. K.Z. who had been sleeping on his bottom bunk lately until he gave it up for our foster son "John", fell off the top bunk. Apparently he was sleeping too close to the edge and forgot he was close to 6 feet up.

As a result he cut up his chin pretty badly and decided to bed down for the rest of the night on our floor. My poor kids...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day One Wrap Up....

Today was a day for the record books. To say the very least.

A very wise foster mother told me that the first week is the hardest and strangest thing to endure when you get a new placement, so getting multiple children is even harder. She nailed it.

When Iggy came home it was surreal but quite easy. I have had a baby before and knew what to expect. Lots of eating, pooping and little sleeping. I had those same old "baby blues" initially, which I did not understand since I did not have the hormonal surge that goes with giving birth, and I knew taking in this baby would change our family dynamic forever. It changed it for the better and I can't imagine him not being here. My kids have embraced him whole-heartedly.

Yesterday I went to the court house to pick up "Jay" who is 2 1/2 and his half brother "John" who is 5 1/2. John was terrified and cried quietly. Jay was quite excited to come home with me. By the time we got home both were in a good mood and thrilled to meet my children. We ate dinner, they played, bathed and went to bed. John was content and went to sleep quickly while Jay cried quietly, not understanding why he was still here. Mr. Clean laid next to him for a while to quell his fears. Bringing home older foster kids is a whole new ballgame and I cried myself to sleep as well. Those darned "baby blues" again and a whole new fear of how this will shake up our very stable and fantastic family dynamic.

"Jay" making an important call, mimicking Mr. Clean

Today all was forgotten and the boys woke up happy, raring to go and wanting to play. Although a small 5 1/2, we soon discovered that John likes to rough house, which resulted in Xena getting her arm hurt somehow (according to all accounts, as all the kids were together in one room, it was a complete accident). We iced it and I told her to rest a while, but a couple hours later she was still hurting. No wonder. Her arm was broken.

Fortunately Mr. Clean could arrange his day to come home often throughout the day and early, and graciously allowed me to escape and tend to my girl. Initially he had planned to take her to the doctor himself to pamper her a little with Daddy time, but I think he knew I needed a break from the chaos. So the girls and I abandoned the boys and wound up at three different doctor's offices before we came home, Xena sporting a bright pink cast.

So after a round of tears at bedtime; John, finally acknowledging this is a little scary and not all fun and games, and Xena because her arm hurt and she was tired. Within 15 minutes all 6 were sound asleep.

I think I better head to bed myself. I think I am cried out, but you never know...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Think I May Have Lost My Mind

But I could not say no.

We got a call today from the county about two half brothers who need to be placed together. It will make life logistically challenging for us, but we felt the pull to say yes anyway. Pray for these little guys (they are 5 and 2), our sanity and our cars as we need them both to transport our whole family while these boys are with us!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hey, Hey...

I saw this in an e-mail and could not stop laughing.
Except now I will never get that tune out of my head!

I Will Survive (the homeschool version)

Originally written and produced by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris
Originally performed by Gloria Gaynor
Mercilessly altered with apologies by Natalie Criss

First I was afraid
I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never teach
'Cause I'm not certified.
But we spent so many nights
Reteaching homework that was wrong.
I grew strong,
so now I teach my kids at home!
We study math
and outer space.
I just kept on despite the fear
with a big smile across my face.
I bought a set of Base Ten blocks.
I bought books with answer keys.
My parents think we're nuts,
but they don't even bother me

Come on, let's go, walk out the door.
We're on the road now,
'cause we're not home much anymore
My friends would laugh and say we'd be unsocialized.
I heard one mumble
that I'd give up by July.
Oh no, not I!
I will survive!
As long as I know how to read
I know we'll be alright.
I've got all my life to learn.
I've got energy to burn.
and I'll survive.
I will survive.

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart.
Decided to attend
a play date at the local park,
and I met oh so many moms
who offered eagerly to help.
They used to cry.
Now they hold their heads up high,
and so do we!
My kids are cool!
They're not those chained up little people
stuck inside at school.
So if you feel like dropping by
and just expect us to be free
you'd better call ahead first
'cause we're probably busy

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Art of Language - or Alternately Titled; "Eh?!"

I am on the Mission's Committee at our church and last night was our monthly meeting. One of the things we discussed was our involvement in English classes at another local church with a high Hispanic population. The discussion then turned to language itself and the fact that so many Americans can only speak English when in Europe you almost have to be multi-lingual to survive.

It reminded me of one of my favorite, "I Love Lucy" episodes. I think it speaks for itself. Enjoy...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reasons To Stop Incessant Pondering

It's raining here today and there is a dismal tone outside. Inside, three of my children are spending time together in the family room with us as we stay dry and cozy. One child is physically absent, as he naps upstairs. This is not unlike our life at the present. We have four children; sort of.

Today we spent the afternoon with Iggy's half brothers and sisters at his brothers' foster home celebrating a birthday. All of the foster families were there (there are 5 of us) and we all get on very well so it was an enjoyable party. Almost surreal for the situation, certainly not the norm for a foster parent. I immediately surrender Iggy when his sisters are around as they only see him twice a month, at no fault of their own. After they have had their baby fix he usually winds up back with me or Mr. Clean and that is where it can feel odd. We have their brother.

I really like his sisters and brothers and their foster families. We all have the same interest in adoption (or permanency for the older girls) and when we get together it is very relaxed. Except for the big pink elephant (real or imagined) in the room. These are not our children legally.

For the last 16 months Iggy's half brothers have been with their foster parents. They are the only children in the family and that has become their home and their parents. The littlest brother knows nothing else. Neither does Iggy. Iggy only knows us and we treat him no different than our other children and adore him just as much. But technically he is not mine and that is a tough thing to remember. In this relationship there is always a bottom that could potentially fall out. This child belongs to the Commonwealth. We may shape his future, but for now they control it.

So I sit with the bittersweet knowledge that only three of my four children are safe and cozy in my house right now. I know that none of them are guaranteed to me forever, or even tomorrow, and that I have to surrender all of them to the Lord, but there is still that maternal bug that pokes at me from time to time with that very sharp reminder.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

In Honor of My Men

We love John Williams' talent and well, it's catchy too boot. Have you ever heard the entire piece? Here is your chance!

On my iPod.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Well, Thanks For Pointing Out The Obvious?

Tonight the offspring and I decided to fly the coop and go out. Somewhere. Anywhere. So I took them to my favorite place to grab grub and then we ventured to Cabela's, a superstore for everything "outdoorsy". The kids love to roam around there and look at at the large displays of "previously alive and now stuffed" animals, which include polar bears, an elephant and tons of others. It really is fascinating. They also have a huge fish display (still alive, luckily for the fish) and a creek running through the store.

Outside however is their favorite display. A huge sculpture of Daniel Boone in a canoe riding raging waves with an Indian companion sits right near the entrance. They marvel at it every time we go there. Tonight as we were leaving they wanted to go and see it (you can't miss it) just once more. As K.Z. and Xena were running toward it, Xena commented about wanting to go to the other side and see the Indian's face.

"Where's an Indian?" C'sa asked holding my hand, completely oblivious to the 12 foot structure in front of her.

"Right next to you!" commented K.Z., referring to me. Obviously just as oblivious. Probably not the "Indian face" Xena was so excited to check out. Oh well!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

To Boycott or Not To Boycott, That Is The Question...

Recently a blog I enjoy visiting from time to time posted some disturbing things about McDonald's (no, not about their crappy food, although I must admit I am in love with their sweet tea). She indicated that she believed it was time for her family to boycott the restaurant chain and not patronize them until they change their position (if ever). I won't go into detail, but you can read her blog entry here. It was well written and thought out.

Sitting in the McD's drive thru today for a much needed afternoon snack in the midst of errands (don't gasp too loudly, the girls and I were getting drinks; well, and cookies just happened to fall into the bag as well), I was thinking about the blog entry and how I felt about McDonald's as a company. Should I even be in the drive thru line?

There has only been one cause that has had me up in arms my entire life and has caused me to stop patronizing companies. Abortion. I can honestly say that if I researched more I would probably have to boycott almost every company known to man, as many of them support Planned Parenthood, which personally I think has locked arms with Satan himself. But I digress...

After finding out that philanthropist
Warren Buffet's company Berkshire Hathaway had purchased my favorite kitchen wares company, where "a chef could pamper" herself with various wonderful products, I had to stop supporting the company even though it meant not supporting some of my friends who sold the products.

Warren Buffet is a huge proponent of abortion rights and population control. The company he purchased was raking in over 700 million a year and he has been known to contribute 60% of his charitable contributions to organizations that are in alignment with his beliefs. It is his absolute right to do so, as it is mine not to fork over my hard earned cash to help him. So I decided to "boycott" the company, as well as other companies that Berkshire Hathaway owns outright.

Here is the question however. Am I a hypocrite for picking and choosing? Although a different matter entirely, why is it okay for me to get my sweet tea fix at McDonald's while I am remorsefully throwing those Pampered Chef invitations in the garbage? Can a Christian rally against a cause they feel God has really put a burden on their heart to cry out against whilst not batting an eye at another? Once we have the knowledge about a company's sinful behavior, what is our responsibility? Why do I feel like I am simply sticking my head in the sand?

I am not one to jump on the "bandwagon" unless that bandwagon has been researched and verified and biblically makes sense. It usually takes me some time and then I am committed. I am only picking on Mickey D's as an example. There are sadly many, many more. What do you think? What do you do?

Monday, August 4, 2008

What A Great Da... Ouch!

Today has started off amazing, minus one painful thing. Today is officially our first day of school as well as the start of a week long business trip for Mr. Clean (whose dumb idea was it to combine those two events?), so instead of leaving early as he usually does, we got to celebrate the first day of school with Daddy this morning!

Wanting to take advantage of Mr. Clean's presence and valuable help with Iggy, we had breakfast and started school early. It's 10:24 and we are already done (minus some free reading time later)! Mr Clean left for his flight about an hour ago and currently the two eldest offspring are walking the dogs around the block. Life is good.

Here the "ouch". My back has been bugging me lately and this morning I woke up to a full on sciatic attack. It has since calmed down quite a bit. This has not happened since I was pregnant with C'sa but it is just as painful. So pray for me this week. Hopefully, it will go away completely or at least stay subdued, since my knight in shining armor is gone and I am alone with the kidlets. Maybe I can teach Iggy to walk on his own...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

How Great Thou Art

We sang one of my all time favorite hymns this morning and I thought I would share it. This song always brings me to tears, but this morning we had a little beat added to it and I managed to sing it and not shed a tear!

Enjoy this version. I love the way Yolanda Adams sings...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Heart Hate Webkinz

I did a bad, bad thing. Last weekend our county's Foster Parent Association had a summer picnic complete with games, face painting, food, snacks, the works. One of the games gave Webkinz stuffed animals away as prizes. With one glaring omission. These Webkinz had no secret code attached to them. Sigh...

My kids live on the planet Earth and know exactly the power a Webkinz holds and have wanted them for a while. I have happily resisted and they did not seem too traumatized by that decision. Until someone gave them one without a "secret code". That's like giving a kid an empty Christmas stocking. Kind of.

Due to the fact that they had been so amazing at helping me with "Tia", our respite baby, I had decided to buy them something special. So I relented and scoured the web for the cheapest Webkinz I could find. After 3 agonizingly long days, Amazon finally delivered our new additions. I hate them.

With a Webkinz comes the aforementioned "secret code". You log on, enter your code, adopt your new pet and you are off! You get "Kinzcash" to buy things to deck out your animal's virtual room and to feed and care for it. Very Sims like. Except you run out of cash quickly and have to play games to get more. Not a problem, we just limit how many minutes a day the kids are allowed to play on They earn whatever they can within that alloted time limit.

I, on the other hand, spent three hours last night playing a version of solitaire to get enough cash for C'sa's pet to have a toilet and a sink. This is going to be a problem...