Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Story - Cookies for Santa

In our family, it has been traditional to "pretend Santa." When I was a child, "Santa came" while we were sleeping, left an uwrapped gift under the tree for us, and filled our stockings with an orange, candy, and a trinket. I don't remember finding out that Santa was not real - it seems like we always knew it, and just enjoyed the fun of it all. As teenagers, my siblings and I began to fill a stocking "from Santa" for our parents, also.

We've continued in the same way with our children. However, for our children with special needs, it's a "whole diff'rent ball game," as they say. Their innocent minds grasp the Santa story and hold on tight. Many clues have not swayed them, and direct statements to Hugger are directly ignored. Whistle will figure it out eventually -- he's asked questions about not having a chimney, whether or not Santa can drive, and about what reindeer eat. The jury's still out on when Hugger will come around. ;-)

So -- this is what transpired on Christmas Eve at our house.

  • Whistle put out a glass of milk and 3 dishes with one cookie each. One for Santa Claus, one for Mrs. Claus, and one for the reindeer, he explained. (He passed over tins of multiple varieties of homemade treats to put out his own favorite: Oreos with red cream filling.) He went to sleep in his bedroom, and Hugger was getting ready to join him.
  • At least once in previous years, "Santa" forgot to eat the cookies, so I drank the milk and put the cookies in the kitchen. Then I went to bed, waiting for Hugger to be asleep as well.
  • A little later, I got up to do the Santa duties, and found that Hugger had moved the 3 empty dishes to the kitchen, replaced them with a paper plate filled with chocolate chip cookies, refilled the milk, and had gone to sleep on the sofa.
  • I tiptoed around the room, moved cookies and drank milk (again), and replaced the 3 dishes from Whistle to their original spot, which was now alongside the crumb-laden plate from Hugger. On Christmas morning, they both knew their cookies were gone, and no questions were asked.

Christmas Tower

Christmas '08

E's handiwork

Granddaughter Ho Ho Ho Crew

America's Next Top Model?

All Christmased Out

Monday, December 22, 2008

Season of Giving

Several years ago, I was the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness. At a grocery store where we sack our own groceries, the customer standing across the counter from me opened a paper grocery sack and deliberately placed it in front of me, ready for my groceries. It made me smile, and gave me a light heart for the rest of the day. What a small thing it was, but what a big difference it made for me! Now, more than ten years later, I still think of it occasionally.

This year, our family decided to make a conscious effort to reach out to others with a giving spirit. When we were together at Thanksgiving, we talked about it, with a plan to come back together at Christmas and share our giving stories. Some were random acts of kindness, others helped when or where they saw a need. In all, we felt blessed in giving, and determined to do more next year. We hope to be teaching our children more about giving, and it was a highlight of our family Christmas get-together this past weekend. One story led to another, and brought up some things we hadn't even thought about as being part of this family project. Here are some of the stories that were told when we gathered last Saturday:
  • While on a weekend trip, one family was talking and praying about what they could do for this giving project. Before they arrived home, they found a way to help. Seeing a woman on the ground, they stopped to help, calling 911 and contacting family members. Another need came up with the lady's family a little later, and because it was their phone that had been used, they were called when a question arose. They returned to the scene, and driving a car for the one in need, helped calm the driver, and reunited the young child involved with his mother.
  • One person received two gift cards as a prize from a blog, and passed them on to another as a way of Paying it Forward.
  • A former foster child filled the Christmas wishes of a child currently in foster care.
  • One saved an elderly man from sending $2000 of his savings to an unknown person in Canada, thinking it was his granddaughter in need. (It was a scam, which he found out after he was encouraged to call his granddaughter. As it turned out, she was not in Canada, but still in her home town.)
  • Young girls bought carousel tokens, and offered them to children in the mall, so they could ride the carousel.
  • One family knew (through their workplace) of a particular family in need, and anonymously gave McDonald's gift cards to each child, and a WalMart card for the parents, to help them provide Christmas gifts or Christmas dinner for their family.
  • One child made a hand-made Christmas gift for a child who wasn't able to be at home for Christmas.
  • One family anonymously gave a gift card to a recently widowed woman and her infant child.

Ben suggested we not wait until the next Christmas season -- but continue making a conscious effort to be givers, and come prepared with our giving stories every time we have a family gathering. I agree, and we'll check with the others about it, too.

I hesitated to write about this project, as most of the giving was done anonymously, but because we were inspired by another to give, we hope these stories will encourage you to look for ways to touch someone's life. Surely you have some time, some creativity, or some funds that could make a difference for someone else. You will be blessed in doing so!

He's In Trouble Now

Whistle was shooting baskets in the hallway, and I heard him say, "Mom, Come here quick! Mom. Mom! Come here quick!" (Then I heard him very quietly say, "I'm in trouble, now!") I couldn't imagine what the problem was - I hadn't heard a crash or anything! When I got to him, he pointed to the thermostat, and the blue and red lights on it. He apparently thought he was responsible for the lights he hadn't noticed before -- maybe his ball hit it?

It wasn't him at all, but just the fact that our heat pump is NOT keeping up with the temperatures outside. He was glad to know it wasn't his fault this time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keep Your Shoes Polished!

When Father was ordained to the ministry, another preacher told him to "Keep your shoes polished." Taken literally, it's a good idea, but it has another meaning as a minister of the gospel, and actually, simply as one of God's children. Keeping your shoes polished also means to be aware that people are noticing your feet -- where you go, and how you walk. We experienced a good example of that this evening.

We were shopping at the local mall department store, buying gifts for children in foster care, compliments of a group who had donated the funds. We had the wish lists of 10 teens in foster homes and residential centers, and at the time we were shopping for the clothing they had requested. We'd gathered up a stack of clothes -- special requests, specific sizes, and left them with the clerk at the counter while we continued shopping. When we returned, we discovered that all our items had disappeared - and the clerk was dismayed (as well as Father and I) to realize that while he was busy with another customer, someone else had taken our things to replace on the shelves as returns. All our effort to that point had been undone so quickly! After a brief moment of frustration, we began to re-gather the items, with the clerk's help. With the exception of two things which were apparently not returned to the places we had found them, and one we just forgot to retrieve, we were again ready to continue shopping. After we were finally finished and were checking out, the clerk asked us what church we attended. Father answered him with our church name and location. I didn't realize why he was asking, and tried to explain that we weren't doing this for the church, but for kids in foster care. He said, "Oh, that wasn't why I was asking -- it was something you said that made me ask." Father figured it out first, and laughed and said something about them losing our things, and we didn't lose our cool. I told the clerk that Father was actually the pastor at the church we attended. He and the clerk went on and visited, and the young man shared that he was a newly licensed minister, and had just preached his first sermon last Sunday. They had quite a long conversation (especially considering that the clerk was supposed to be working, and we had LOTS of shopping to do) about how the Lord leads you to know what to preach, how He prepares the congregation, and other related things. I finally left them to go to the ladies' department, and after choosing a coat for another teen, returned to find them still engrossed in conversation. We finalized that purchase, and knew we must move on. However, not before Father had shared his contact information, and (never passing up an opportunity) suggested the young man consider being a foster parent.

I thought afterward, "What if we had responded differently? Would he have recognized us as church-goin' folk? What if we'd responded in anger, and then it came up later that Father is a preacher?" There have certainly been times we have not acted as we should; what if this had been one of those times? It made me wonder how many times have we missed opportunities to share our testimonies and the truth of the gospel with others. We have a light (THE Light), and should let it shine brightly. In fact, we should remember much more often that others are watching, and we need to "keep our shoes polished!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tired of being sick!

In the last 10 days, we've had sinus infections, strep throat, colds, and now 24 hour stomach flu. I'll be glad when EVERYONE is healthy and well. It's Christmas time, and I'd much rather be decorating, entertaining, and having fun, instead of all the things we've been doing.

As a change of pace - I'll share this wonderful Christmas arrangement with you.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Because We Speak English So Well!

Tonight Sarah found this in a school backpack --

I am a pilgrmue. can you hepe use find a hosbidall quick.
is there someone that speaks more english more than you

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another Family Day to be Thankful For

We're extending the holiday in both directions this year, with family visitors now and then for a full week. Last Saturday, John's sister and brother-in-law Victor and Elaine H. and their son Stephen were with us overnight and at church on Sunday, on their way westward to visit family. On Tuesday night and Wednesday, our own Liz and George were here on their way eastward to visit family. We LOVE living 15 miles from the interstate, and acting as bed and breakfast hosts, so feel free to give us a call and come by if you're traveling through!

Now, my sister and brother-in-law are here for a few days, and Ben and Julie will be in tomorrow. So -- we're putting off our turkey dinner until tomorrow. Yesterday we just relaxed and visited all day, and today, we did some cooking and baking in preparation for tomorrow. We decided to get a head start on feasting, so after our pot roast dinner, we cut into the pie. Yum!

Aunt Jeanne, Teenager and Sarah had a silly moment doing "See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil," since they were sitting side by side on the window seat. Late this afternoon, I chuckled to see this sight in the living room:

That's Uncle Dave, with Teenager and Aunt Jeanne. Shortly after that, we had five (count 'em -- 5!) computers going in the same room.

Our Thanksgiving menu hasn't changed much from the one I grew up with -- it's just expanded, and been modified each year with special requests. We always ask what everyone's "must-have" dish is, and for some foster children, it's sometimes been pretty unusual. This year, it's pretty standard.
Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes with a hint of orange, green bean casserole, creamed pearl onions, baked cranberries, jello with apples/celery/pineapple, pickles and black olives, celery/baby carrots/green pepper strips, dinner rolls (with real butter). Then, there's Pie. With Real Whipped Cream. Pumpkin, minced meat, pecan, chocolate, and blueberry. "Aunt Marjorie" will be joining us too, and bringing her corn casserole. She probably thinks we won't have enough food. ;-)

We've been blessed beyond measure in so many ways, and we have much to be thankful. One of the most wonderful blessings is a gathering like this, of family and friends. And even after tomorrow, it isn't over yet, because Victor and Elaine will be stopping by again, on their way back home. What fun!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tag! You're It!

I've played tag before, but this is my first blog tag. Strem tagged me, and I'll play along.

1. Where is your cell phone?
In my purse.
2. Your significant other? John, my husband of 34 years.
3. Your hair? No longer red - now brown.
4. Your mother? Was a great mom, and I miss her a lot. She could correct my behavior just by looking at me. To disappoint her made me feel bad, and I still try to live up to her expectations. She loved nature and birds.
5. Your father? Also gone, and I miss him, too. He would have enjoyed his great grandchildren so much.
6. Your favorite thing?
Random acts of kindness.
7. Your dream last night? It was a great night of sleep, and I don't remember any dreams.

8. Your favorite drink? Diet cream soda
9. Your dream/goal? To raise my children to be competent adults who love the Lord.

10. The room you're in? Living room, with my feet up, of course.
11. Your hobby?
Computer time. But I also enjoy cooking, baking, needlework, piano
12. Your fear? I can't think of any major fear right now.
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
Right here, with my family.
14. What you are not?
15. Muffins?
A small one, warm, with butter, please.
16. One of your wish list items?
A hand can opener that works well.
17. Where you grew up?
Kimball, Nebraska.
18. The last thing you did?
Brewed a cup of raspberry tea.
19. What are you wearing?
Blue jeans and a short sleeved blue sweater.
20. Favorite gadget?
Is a computer a gadget?
21. Your pets?
No pets, thankfully. Definitely no animals inside.
22. Your computer? Toshiba.
23. Your mood?
Happy - it's holiday time, and we're having family visitors.
24. Missing someone? Just enjoying those that ARE here.
25. Your car?
Montana mini-van.
26. Something you are not wearing? Shoes.
27. Favorite store? Target or Kohl's, or sale racks in any store.
28. Like someone?
Of course!
29. Your favorite color?
30. When is the last time you laughed?
Just a minute ago.
31. Last time you cried?
A few days ago.

I will tag Liz, Karen, and Latane, if they want to play; and anyone else who'd like to play along. Leave a comment so we can check out your answers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Have You Seen Those Kids??

Yesterday, I suggested that Teenager take a walk around the city school she attends for her computer class. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Have you seen those kids there??"

At that moment, she was wearing jeans decorated with safety pins, and staples closing the (manufacturer's) slit up the front ankle.

I guess it's all in your perspective.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Family Day

Yesterday was one of those nice family days that I appreciate. Most days are busy and full of daily obligations, so it's nice when a change of pace comes along. Father and I, along with Hugger, Teenager, Whistle, and granddaughters C. and E, drove to the bigger city to visit children and attend a baby shower for yet-to-be-named-granddaughter-due-in-January. We had a nice taco soup lunch at George and Liz's house, and a visit with Ben and Julie and girls, also. The ladies (from the very youngest A. to the oldest -- me) went to the church for a combined baby shower for Liz and another mom-to-be. While we were doing that, the guys stayed at the house doing their own thing. I think it involved talking, watching TV, and napping, not necessarily in that order. ;-) After the shower, we sat around the family room enjoying each other's company and watching the kids play.

The kids napped on the drive home, and with leftover stew for supper and an early bedtime, it was the ideal finish to a great day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008

Today is Veteran's Day. The presidential election was just last week, and our country appears to be headed for Change, whatever that entails. No matter which direction the political winds are blowing, our servicemen and women continue to make daily sacrifices in service to our country, and they deserve our gratitude, appreciation and prayers. Thank a Vet today; and every day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What Did He Say?

Whistle was going downstairs to see if Teenager was awake, and I suggested he sing her a "good morning song." He got distracted along the way, and when I reminded him of what he was doing, he said, "Yes, I'll sing her a good-night song . . . I mean a sleepy-up song!


This afternoon, as we were relaxing in the living room:

Whistle: "Mom, how old are you?"

Other Mother: "How old do you think I am?"

Whistle: "Umm . . . 21"

Other Mother: "Yes! That sounds good! But really, I'm 53."

Whistle: "53? That's old. Like a grandma."

Other Mother: But I AM a grandma!"

Whistle: "No, Old like the OTHER grandma.
The one that's dead!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I've thought of a lot of things I wanted to write about in the last few days, but haven't done it. Also I haven't switched computers to add the pictures I want to post (broken CD drive on this computer). For now, little bits from the kiddos:


Granddaughter E, on the morning school drive: If you see a dog in a tree, let me know!


Granddaughter C, telling about voting at school: I voted for blue!
Other Mother: Blue? Was the other color red?
Granddaughter C: No, green!
Other Mother: Which candidate was blue? McCain or Obama?
Granddaughter C: I think it was McCain. No . . . Obama. Ummm. . . McCain. Or Obama. Oh, I don't remember!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

As Compared to Days When I DON'T Let Him Get Up?

This morning, I was awake early and drinking coffee in the living room. Whistle woke up, and called from the bedroom. "Mom? . . . Can I get up?"
I said, "Yes!"
He responded with, "Thank you, Mom, You're very nice!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Now That's Love!

C. was telling her mother today how much she loved her.

C: "I love you all the way to the moon and back."
"I love you all the way to Kansas City!"
"I love you all the way to Texas!"
"I love you all the way to the ocean!"

Sarah: "Which ocean?"

C: "The one that's far, FAR, away!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This Week's News

Teenager is not yet over her headaches. She tried returning to school, but it is too "noisy" she says. She's slow-moving around the house, and sleeps much more than she's awake. We do hope she gets over whatever this is, or the doctors find a cause, or a better treatment. 16 year-olds don't have time for this!

Whistle has lost his first tooth, and is very excited. Or at least he was, until he left it for the tooth fairy, and it disappeared overnight. How were we supposed to know that he wanted to take it to school? We are so clueless! At least disappointment doesn't last long for him, before he's off on a new adventure.

Delayed, Postponed, Rescheduled, Continued

This morning, I ran across a recently-received report regarding Whistle, and it said, "Whistle is currently living with a foster family in Ourtown." My first reaction was "Huh?" How can that be, ". . . living with a foster family?" It feels like so much more than that. This little guy is utterly, positively, in every respect, one hundred percent part of this collection of people who are a FAMILY. We cannot imagine what our lives would be like, or even who we might be at this point, had he not come to be with us 5 years ago.

I'm aware that that's not the correct way to foster children, and I am fully capable of working toward the goal of reunification. It's wonderful, and truly the ultimate success, if a birth family can be made whole again in spite of the obstacles they face. However, it became obvious quite a while ago that it wasn't a realistic goal for Whistle's family. At what point did we go from him being a foster child to that unmistakable feeling that he is Ours? A part of us? An important part of the whole that is the Family? I don't know. It happened gradually, of course, but I do know that I believed in my heart it was to be even before his official goal changed to adoption. The wheels of social services often turn slowly (and even occasionally for good reason), so patience is definitely a virtue for foster parents.

Now, we are waiting for the judicial system to do its work (which is where this post's title fits in). We do believe that God is in control, and what we saw as the future much earlier, others involved now also agree. It takes time, patience, and more time, but it looks like Whistle may be ours even in the legal sense sometime next year. Whoo hoo! Yippee! And thanking God for His manifold blessings.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ten Election Predictions


1. The Bible will still have all the answers.

2. Prayer will still work.

3. The Holy Spirit will still move.

4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.

5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.

6. There will still be singing of praise to God.

7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.

8. There will still be room at the Cross.

9. Jesus will still love you.

10. Jesus will still save His people.


(edited slightly from version in internet circulation)


Everyone who has seen the movie Fireproof has said it is a "must-see" for Christian couples. We haven't seen it yet, but plan to. I'm writing about it today because by the time we see it, it might not be showing in your area. It has limited distribution, but is showing at one theater near us.

The synopsis of the storyline is here if you want to check it out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday - Heading Home from the Hospital

Miss Teenager's headache is much better following the DHE medication, and we are headed home later today. Most of the time she is pain free, with a little return in the afternoons. They are adjusting medication to help that, and it sounds like she will stay on a migraine preventative medication for a while.

As the adolescent specialist left today, he said that this is the first time he's had to use steroids for a headache, so it must have been atypical, even for a migraine. We are grateful to live near a teaching hospital, with lots of services and specialists available.

Regarding Teenager's math partner from school, she is now her hospital roommate. :-) She is going through the same steps of investigation and treatment, and hopefully she will respond to treatment soon.

Next week - we'll hope to return with more "normal" posting. Medical updates aren't much fun. I much prefer kid stories!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Evening

Miss Teenager is on the road to improvement, and we're thanking God for His mercy. Although she still struggles with nausea, she has had some periods without as much headache, and some times when she wants to eat a little. She continues on the DHE medicine for now, and it will be reevaluated tomorrow. We do see a light at the end of the tunnel today, and we are relieved and thankful.

An interesting side note is that we heard today that one of Teenager's classmates, her math partner, is also having a similar headache that has lasted two weeks. There are only 14 high school students, so it would be reasonable to think that it was the same virus that the two girls are dealing with, rather than a coincidence, since neither have had migraine type headaches before.
Today I learned that the virus diagnosis and migraine are not mutually exclusive. Apparently, it could be a virus that triggered the migraine.

Your cards, calls and prayers are appreciated.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday update

God has blessed us with many prayerful and supportive friends during this time, and we are so appreciative. We've had hospital visitors, hospital companions, errand runners, phone callers, emailers and many prayer partners, and each one of you is loved. I thank my God upon each remembrance of you.

All of Teenager's lab and MRI/MRA results are in and show no signs of meningitis, tick bite diseases, or other similar (scary) diagnoses. Once again, we've returned to the possibility that it may be a migraine, even though it doesn't fit typical migraine patterns. It's too early in the IV treatment (DHE, for those pharmacetical types among us) for pain relief, but she does seem to be under less stress this evening, and we're thankful for that. If this specific treatment works, then I believe they will be more sure it is a migraine. Time will tell. It's a 3 day IV, beginning yesterday evening.

Father and I had expected to be away at training today and tomorrow, and those plans were changed, but all is well. Because we'd expected to be gone, Sarah had arranged to be off and available for her girls and Whistle, which made it much easier at home. Thanks, Sarah, and all who are pinch-hitting in my absence.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Headache Update

"It's still there," as teenager quietly says. She hasn't lost her sense of humor, though, because she said, "I'm like a vampire -- I only come out in the dark." The headache is the same, but the nausea is gone, because the medication that caused it has been discontinued. The plan is to return to the hospital tomorrow, and begin a 3 day IV treatment for migraine. They also may do other diagnostic tests at the same time.

She appreciates the prayers, thoughts, and contacts, and so do we. I'll try to update here when there is news.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Mysterious Illness

Teenager is struggling with an illness that hasn't yet been diagnosed, and we'd appreciate your prayers. It started with a headache - just a typical headache, if there is such a thing. That was 12 days ago. She had a daily headache the first week, but was able to go on with her activities. Beginning last Sunday, it was worse, and an Urgent Care doctor diagnosed migraine on Monday. She didn't respond to the injection or oral medication, and saw the adolescent doctor on Wednesday. They admitted her to the hospital for a couple of days, and it doesn't look like bacterial or viral meningitis (although the lab results will eventually let us know for certain about the viral form), and not likely to be a tick-borne illness (awaiting lab results for that one, too). She's home at the moment, but if she doesn't improve over the next few days, she'll return to the hospital for a more thorough work-up. She rates her headache as 6 to 8 out of 10 (at different times), so you know she's uncomfortable. She's also having trouble with nausea with her medication, too.

pray with us that she will soon be relieved of this pain, and that it is not anything that will affect her on a long-term basis.

Although it doesn't appear to be the same thing -- we are reminded of 4 or 5 years ago when Hugger struggled with his head feeling "funny," and after checking him out, and waiting for it to show itself, he was found to have encephalitis. We do hope and pray this is nothing that serious.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Who's Who

A friend left a comment asking who C. and E. are, and I realized that it's been a while since I've identified the family, and new readers might not know all the players of the Game of Life that goes on at this house. There is now a link to this post at the left if you get confused. I do, so maybe you do, too.

Father: He is the man of the house; a wonderful guy who strives to serve God, his family, his church family and the community, in every way he can. Besides parenting this family, he pastors a Primitive Baptist Church, and works during the week at a community job. He's my best friend.

Other Mother: That would be me, an over 50 mom of 3 kids by birth, 2 kids by adoption (with one on the way), and Other Mother to 160 or more foster kids along the way. I'm a stay-at-home mom who seems to spend a lot of time in the car and elsewhere. Besides parenting, I train new foster parents, write home studies, and other support activities for foster families. I was a room mother for 19 years, and thought I'd retired from that duty when Hugger finished grade school. However, I've still been hanging around school, and with a kindergartner just starting -- it looks like I'll be there for a few more years (if 13 or more is a few), although I'm no longer the Head Room Mother. Enough is enough.

Sarah: Our oldest child, mother of C. and E., who has recently come home again for a while, following her divorce. Her ex is Mike, who still visits in our home spending time with the girls.

Hugger: Child #4, first adopted child, who joined our family at 5 weeks of age, 23 years ago. He's called Hugger because he hugs. Fervently. And Often. He has Down Syndrome, and lives in a supported living apartment about 20 miles from us.

Teenager: Child #5, who joined our family almost 6 years ago, and became a permanent family member 3 years ago. She attends a Christian school, plays the piano, and works as a companion to an elderly church friend on occasion. She has 2 birth siblings with whom she's still in contact.

Whistle: Legally a foster child, but he's permanently in our hearts. His case is moving toward permanency with our family, and we will adopt at the appropriate time. He's been with us since he was a tiny, frail and fragile 1 year old. At 6 years old, he's still small, but far from frail and fragile. He has medical and cognitive difficulties from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but may be headed to a job with the Harlem Globetrotters with his basketball skills. He also has several birth siblings in his circle of friends.

The others: Children #2 and 3 and their spouses; Ben and Julie, and Liz and George. H. and A. are Ben and Julie's young daughters, and Liz and George are having their first baby in January (a girl, of course!). In this case . . . And one more makes . . . 5 granddaughters! Yippee! These kids all live about 2 1/2 hours away in the larger city. I could write about where they work and all that, but if you know them, you know what they do; and if you don't know them, I'm sure you don't care. Just trust me. They're all -- from the oldest to the youngest -- great people. Just ask me. I'll tell you about them. And did I tell you about my 5 granddaughters?

That's it at the moment. Because of our specialty foster care license, we are limited to 4 children at home, and the agency is counting our granddaughters, even though their mother is here as well. So - we're taking a break from considering additional kiddos right now.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sad News

Yesterday, C. and E.'s dad was here spending time with them. He'd been to a soccer game, played at home with them, and was on his way to a field trip. He was interrupted by a call from his brother, saying that his father was being taken to the hospital. Mike's father has been dealing with Parkinson's disease, and although able to stay at home, has needed much support from his wife and sons. Yesterday morning, he apparently suffered an aneurysm, and died later in the morning.

The family would appreciate your prayers during this difficult time.

Family Update

It's time for a family update. Everyone's been busy doing their own thing, and some days we're juggling who goes where with which child to get everything covered.

Father and Hugger have gone on a trip to Texas and Mexico. Tonight they have met up with long-time friends, and are delivering a load of goods to them to help in their work with the Mexican people. I'm sure they'll have many tales to tell after their return. I'm so anxious to hear all the details! Later in the week, they'll visit Father's father ("Big Papa") and other relatives.

Teenager received a surprise letter this week, stating that she's won an award through her vocational school classes. It says she was selected by classmates and/or the instructor, and it is "given to students who have demonstrated outstanding cooperation, self-motivation, preparedness, positive attitude, dependatbility, and persistence." She will be honored at a breakfast at the University. We're so proud of you, Teenager!!

Whistle is having a great year at school. Many people have mentioned how hard he's working, and all reports have been good. I went with his class this week to Peach Tree Farm - my favorite field trip ever. In comparison to last year, I see how independent he's become, and how well he fits in with his classmates. You can check out the details from last year's visit here. (This link is to the first of several posts with pictures of our fun time. Click on "newer post" at the bottom to move to the next post.) Last night he went with Sarah and C. to the city blues music festival. He had a good time, and told me he saw "20 or 21 bands, but they didn't have drums, and they didn't stand in lines." "There wasn't a parade. This was a sit-down band." Then he asked if I "heard the music all the way to our house?" I told him I didn't, but he thought I might, because, "It was loud!" His perspective on events is always fun. Whistle and C. are playing soccer, and both made at least one goal today.

C. loves her new school (since they're now living with us), and her teacher had wonderful things to say about her ability to work together with others in groups.

That leaves just Sarah and E. to report on. Sarah works daily at the super center, and E. is my companion at home and elsewhere, whenever possible. She especially loves to help cook in the kitchen. S'pose I could train her to take over?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's Fall Y'All!

I recently read a blog that listed 20 things I Love About Fall. As I mentally made my own list, it began to seem familiar. I looked in the archives, and sure enough, last year at this time I wrote Why I Love Fall. So, in the interest of time, similar feelings and full disclosure, here is last year's list, with the addition of even more things I love about fall. What do you love about fall?

1. Sleeping in the fresh night air, with windows open after weeks of air conditioning.
2. Pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, and gourds.
3. High school football.

4. Watching the
tree near our old house, which changes colors from the tips of the branches to the center, making it look like fireworks in the sky, with balls of fire at the tips.
5. Marching bands.
6. Youth soccer on cool Saturday mornings.
7. Planting mums in front of the church sign.

8. Needing a jacket on the way to school in the mornings, and shedding it before the morning is over.
9. Apple pie, apple crisp, apples with caramel, sliced apples . . . .
10. Corn mazes (I haven't through one yet, but this may be the year.)
11. Fall yard decorations: bales of straw; mums; pumpkins, winter squash, gourds; and scarecrows, and more mums.
12. Walking in the yard, with leaves crunching under my feet.

13. Bobbing for apples.
14. Raking up a big pile of leaves, for the sole purpose of playing with Whistle, Teenager, C. and E. in them.
15. Football
stew. (A favorite from our childhood - an oven baked stew.)
16. Bonfires: Wood, matches, hot dogs, marshmallows, and song.
17. Pumpkin pie, with real whipped cream.
18. Horses made from cornstalks.
19. Straw bale maze at the Fall Fest.
20. The Hartsburg
Pumpkin Festival

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Visit with the Dentist

When Whistle came to us he was totally orally defensive and wouldn't let anyone near his mouth -- with or without tools in their hands. He has gradually gotten over that, although he still has problems with foods and eating. Obviously, a visit to the dentist's office is not his favorite way to start the day, but that was our plan for today. One of our first visits to the dentist consisted of counting his teeth. During a recent visit, the dental tech said, "We cleaned 4 teeth today!" Today the report was that all his teeth were polished, "LIGHTLY polished," she said. Big progress! For him, the big news was that two front teeth are loosening; "Right on schedule," according to the dentist. Whistle was very excited, and talked about the tooth fairy visiting, then told the school secretary about it when he checked in at school.

Speaking of the tooth fairy, granddaughter E. told us a story the other day. She wanted to color a picture and put it under her pillow for the Picture Fairy. According to E., the Picture Fairy doesn't exchange money for pictures like the tooth fairy, but she does love pictures.

Another thing E. likes is birthdays. She enjoyed her birthday last month, and had us all "sign up" for her birthday party (writing our names on a piece of paper). Yesterday, she had another paper, and we were signing up for Holly's birthday. Holly is her favorite bear. When I told her mother later that we were having Holly's birthday, she said, "Holly is getting old fast, this is her 3rd birthday since she got her!" (in the spring). What a girl. What an imagination.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Teacher Said So

Whistle came home from school and announced, "We need a babysitter! Like Amy." It sounded like an instruction from school, but didn't fit quite right.

"A babysitter?"

"Yes - we need a babysitter. Like Amy." (His occasional sitter whom he loves, because she actively plays sports with him all evening.)

I was still confused, and asked if he had a note about it, he thought a second, and said "YES!" and went after his backpack.

Just a Reminder
Kindergarten Curriculum Meeting
Thursday, Sept 4, 2008
6-7 p.m.
Hope to see you there!

Child care will not be provided.

He may not get ALL the facts (or the MAIN fact, even), but he gets something!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Whistle Tells About the Special School Visitor

Early this morning the house was quiet, and Whistle and I were in the living room. He was talking to himself . . .

Whistle: "Super the hero? Super the hero?? Super . . . ?

Zero! ZERO! ZERO the HERO!"

Other Mother: "Zero the hero?"

Whistle: "Yes - Zero the Hero came to our class." (Then he told me something else that happened but I didn't quite get that part) "Then Mrs. Experiencedteacher said, "Well look who's here!" And it was Zero the Hero coming in the door."

Me: "Did he have a costume on?"

Whistle: "He had hair . . . (as his hand swept in a wide arc). It was all colors. And gloves. Gloves with numbers on them. And if he takes his clothes off, it's not Zero the Hero, it's the PRINCIPAL!"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

School is Off to a Great Start

The Alaska photos haven't been blogged yet because of some major computer issues, but at least I could stay in touch otherwise, couldn't I ?!

Whistle has begun his school year, a second year in kindergarten to help him be more prepared for reading and math in first grade. He's been in school a week, and so far -- it looks great! Yesterday he knew all the letters of the alphabet, and if those letter names "stick" he will move on to their sounds. Unfortunately, for kids with FAS, their ability to recall what they know is sporadic. Some days it's there, and some days it isn't. One of the funniest examples of this is the day he wanted to talk about a sheep, and struggled to get the name of the animal. He ended up calling it a chicken. ;-)

Yesterday he also got his first Super Eagle ticket, a special recognition of being caught doing something well. He said he was waiting patiently -- sitting still in line waiting to be picked up after class. You know what a challenge that is for him! Each Friday the principal draws tickets from the Super Eagle ticket box and awards gifts to those chosen. Whistle's on a new dose of medication - looking for something to help calm his brain so he can focus more easily, another thing that causes learning challenges for him. Even in an empty room working one on one, he is easily distracted, just by his own thoughts. Possibly we are seeing some effect from the med.

Our two little guys, Joe and Andy, have left to return to their parents, and we wish them well. We miss them! Time brings changes though, especially in foster care, and this is the best kind of change -- the positive result of kids returning home.

Now -- we have Sarah and C. and E. at home with us, so we won't be having any additional foster children for a while. C. has begun her second grade school year at Whistle's school, and they are excited to go to school together. It took a few days before they crossed paths during the school day, and they were really excited to see each other! This morning they were both wishing they could stay home with E., though. I'm sure E. would tell them hanging out with Grandma is not all fun and games - we still get to do laundry, cleaning, and other household stuff!

As for teenager, she's returned to the Christian school she attended last year. This year she has the added benefit of attending the county-wide Career Center, a high-tech vocational school with lots of educational options. She's taking a digital media class, and a marketing class there. We'll be getting up at 5:30 to get everyone where they need to be on time - today we were ready to leave 8 minutes early!

With the foster care support group, we had a great school supply picnic, and more than enough supplies. It's fun to see the kiddos so excited choosing their backpacks and packing their supplies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mmm, Mmm, Good

Today, Whistle and I went to a local blueberry place (is it called a farm? a patch? an orchard?) and picked blueberries. Usually they are ready much earlier than they were this year, and the season has lasted longer than usual, also. I think picking in mid-July is pretty rare here. If you haven't picked blueberries - I'd recommend you find a place to do it -- it's so much fun! It's easy to see which ones are ready to be picked, and they roll right into your palm with a little nudge. No thorns, no mess, just a fun way to spend some time with the kids, and get dessert at the same time!

I can't say that Whistle enjoyed it as much as I did, but he did get a few berries into his bucket before he got distracted. After that, he sat on the ground and sang, looked at what other people around us were doing, and kept checking to see if it was time to go to swimming lessons. In other years, I've been accompanied by Sarah, Hugger, or foster children, and it's always a great experience.

We were blessed with blueberries for the freezer a few weeks ago from the foster care food pantry, but I just couldn't resist a few more to eat fresh. A bowl of blueberries, a little milk or 1/2 and 1/2 (or ice cream) over the top -- it doesn't get much better as far as I'm concerned.

One more note about Whistle's swimming lessons. This is the first year he's been tall enough to be in the "big pool," and once he realized he could touch the bottom and still "breave," he was ready to go. He missed the first day while we took Hugger to camp, but caught up quickly the second day. He tried jumping in from the side, and after two times, wanted to jump in without assistance. He did report later that once he went "way, way, WAY under," but still was very proud and excited. He's also jumping off the board into the instructor's arms, so of course that's fun, too. He's half finished -- 4 more days next week, and although he won't be doing rhythmic breathing when he's finished with this session, he will have gained a lot of confidence in the water, and that's the first step.

This post is dedicated to my friend (you know who you are) who is nagging me about not posting to the blog. Here's to you, my dear! Also - stay tuned for Alaska photos!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Life with the Ferrells

If you have not already caught up with them, please go read Life With the Ferrels and pray with us for their family. God has promised to be with us through all our trials, and we pray for His mercy and loving arms to surround them every hour of every day.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Whistle's Feeding Team

Warning - if you have a dislike for details regarding food, reflux, puking, gastrostomy tubes and such, skip this post. If bits of medical information fascinate you, read on.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Whistle has had a few appointments with a feeding team at a children's hospital in the bigger city. The feeding team is a trio of specialists: a dietician, a psychologist, and a speech therapist, in connection with a GI doctor. (We've been told that occupational therapists handle the part of feeding to the mouth, and speech therapists take over with the mouth, chewing, swallowing and such. Also FYI - for some kiddos, if you miss the 'window of opportunity' for the transition from nursing to oral feeding, sometimes kids develop texture and taste sensitivities, and have psychological reactions to the sight or thought of food. Then, even though there's no physical reason they can't swallow, there are many other factors that come in to play, and eating is a struggle for a lot of reasons.) For Whistle, reflux has always been a major stumbling block. When he came to us at 14 months old (and only 10 lbs, 6 oz), he was being g tube fed 24 hours/day, with a very specialized formula. It seemed like the formula came up as fast as we pumped it into him. (His weight would verify that - one of our newborns was almost the same size. I won't say whom, in order to protect her identity, since she's a blogger). He had a Nissen fundoplication surgery to stop the vomiting, and from then on he was able to keep his food down better, and we switched to Pediasure (think Ensure for toddlers). From that point on, he began to grow. He did continue to have some retching and vomiting, though, and he began to connect the feelings in his stomach with pain, and food became a negative thing for him. He was tube feeding overnight, and had problems almost every morning between 4 and 8, when his stomach was the most full. It was not fun. We tried new formulas, new rates of feeding, and other tricks of the trade, but never could find the right combination. He'd eat a bite or two of spicy or crunchy food, but that was it. Last fall, he went back to eating nothing at all by mouth, and his stomach hurt much of the time.

We heard about this feeding team, and decided to make an appointment with the GI doc who works with them - the first step. For no good reason, it took months and months to get beyond the doctor and in to see the team. In the meantime, we discovered that he did better with a specific formula that is more concentrated that Pediasure (Resource Just For Kids), and when we switched to Resource Just for Kids without fiber, it was wonderful!!! The pain gradually went away, and we saw his appetite returning. Then we were ready to see the team, and hopeful that they could help us over the next hurdle.

Once we actually saw them, they set right to work! Before the first appointment, our local speech/feeding therapist helped us record Whistle's history: what we've tried, what worked, what didn't, and questions from her and from us. She went over all that information with one of the team members by phone, then faxed it. When we arrived, they were well-prepared. They talked to Father and I, and then watched Whistle eat from a hidden viewing room. They said they had no expectations, just wanted to know what a meal looked like for him, so we pretended like they weren't watching (you know how easy that was!). When we left, we had a plan! We were already doing many of the daily things they suggest, but some are new, and some we needed to be more faithful with. One change is to move some of the g tube feedings to meal times to help his feeling of fullness. The most valuable thing they are offering is their expertise on the balance between cutting back on the formula and continuing to grow, plus instructions on how to help him discover the normal feelings of hunger and fullness, and what they mean. We had not seen anyone before who was comfortable with cutting back his nutritional formula, but this group has experience with feeding challenges, and monitors it closely. All things have come together at the right time, and we're seeing successes!

We're not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but we at least are going forward down the track, and up to this point it's been 2 steps forward and one step back, so we're encouraged.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Quick Month!

Last post: April 10th.
Today: May 10th.
We're still here.
This is what we've been doing:

--- Whistle played and the family watched practices and soccer games. (More were rescheduled because of rain than were actually played.)

--- I made two home visits and am writing the home-study for a prospective adoptive family. (Drove 480 miles)

--- Joe got his cast off in the big city. He's walking pretty well. (Drove 280 miles)

--- Hugger celebrated his 23rd birthday at home, at work, at Ben's, at church, and any place else he could think of.

--- Teenager and Hugger attended a surprise 30th birthday party for big brother Ben. George had a birthday the same week, but missed all the celebrations because he was working out of state. Poor George.

--- Father preached at a 3 day church meeting at another church, and we enjoyed visiting with the pastor's family; old friends we hadn't seen in a long time (Drove 250 miles)

--- 4 speech/feeding therapy appointments for Whistle (Drove 125 miles)

--- 1 family visit for Joe and Andy; sibling visits, and phone calls, too. (Drove 100 miles)

--- 3 counseling appointments

--- 3 feeding team appointments for Whistle in bigger city (Drove 425 miles)

--- 4 piano lessons for Teenager, 1 rehearsal, 1 recital

--- 8 or 10 evenings for Teenager working as a companion to senior citizen friend

--- Hosted 3 day church meeting at our home church, with guests at home and serving meals at church; 3 regular Sunday services and 4 Bible studies.

--- Teenager volunteered at the food pantry, and helped a friend's mother with 2 catering events. The same friend spent the night once, and accompanied us to bigger city twice.

--- I attended training on social services agency policies and procedures.

--- Whistle invited big sister Sarah and nieces C. and E. to school for lunch on "Special Friends Day" (also known as Grandparents Day, for those who have grandparents close enough to attend)

--- I'm helping to prepare Foster Care Month celebration in front of the court house later in the month.

--- Teenager finished her school work a week early, took this week off, and will return next week for field trips, awards night, and graduation of the seniors.

--- I attended the annual planning meeting for Hugger with the agency who sponsors his program.

--- And the pre-IEP meeting for Whistle.

--- I attended Muffins with Mom with C. at her elementary school (Grandmas are invited, too)

--- 2 occupational therapy visits for Whistle (2 canceled because of conflicts)

--- Teenager celebrated her 16th birthday.

--- Andy got his cast off, too. He's not walking yet, but last night began standing on his foot, at least. He also got special sandals that hook to a brace for sleeping (Drove 280 miles)

--- Attended funeral for close family friend. She was a 38 year old mother of 8 children, who valiantly fought cancer. (Drove 1400 miles)

--- Home visits by caseworkers, hundreds of emails, phone calls, etc.

--- Whistle performed in Spring Concert with songs about the ocean.

--- Father went to work every day, and worked on the new garage and did spring yard work when he was home and not busy with parenting (sometimes known as "kid duties"). (Drove 32 miles every day, and then some)

--- Joe fell against a metal bench at the soccer game this morning, popped the skin on his forehead, and we made a quick trip to the doctor. No stitches, just steri-strips. He got a big yellow band-aid over the whole thing, because Band-Aids are what's important when you're 3 years old.

--- We missed the Kindergarten Reading/Writing Celebration, because some days we just can't get it all together, and we forgot to go.

--- And we skipped the school carnival, because sometimes it's just better to be at home for a change.

That's why I haven't been blogging.

And if the price of gas is still going up because demand is down, it obviously isn't our fault. We're buying more than our share.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Riding with Joe in the Van

Joe: "Mom, where you goin'? You goin' to Whistle's school? Then where you goin'? Then where you goin'? Who's goin' first? Why you slowin' down? Why you stopping? Mom, look at my apple. Mom, look at my apple. Mom, look at my apple up here. Now look at my apple. Why you turning? Why he doin' that? What's he doin'? Why you goin' too fast? You tryin' to get a license? Why you goin' fast? Why you slowin' down? Why you stoppin'? Why you turnin'? Who lives there? Who works there? Who lives there? What's that water doin'? What's that water doin' on the road? Why you stoppin? Why you turning around? Where you goin' mom? Why we goin' there? What's that car doin'? Why? Why we goin' here?"

Teenager: "Can you quit talking?"
Joe: "Yes."

(10 seconds later)
Joe: "Where you goin' mom? Why you turnin'?"

Friday, April 4, 2008

Two Unrelated Ideas

There hasn't been much that's newsworthy, so I'll share these with you today:
Last night when I was making the boys' favorite supper (pancakes, sausage and eggs), Whistle picked up an egg from the carton, and solemnly told Joe, "If this egg wasn't dead, it might have a chicken in it!"

And a good thought for today:

One should take children's philosophy to heart. They never despise a bubble because it burst; they immediately set to work to blow another one.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter

Like most others we know, we've been dyeing/hiding/hunting eggs the last few days. Joe and Andy learned about Easter traditions at their pre-school with dyeing and an Easter egg hunt, Whistle dyed eggs at his school, and yesterday we had an egg hunt in the park with some of Whistle's birth siblings. Two of his sisters are 6 and 8, and one brother about 10. We met their foster families at a park, and Teenager helped others hide eggs for the younger ones to find. (One mom remarked that it sure took a LOT longer to hide them, than it did to find them!) Joe had the disadvantage of having me pushing his wheelchair during the egg hunt. I headed in the wrong direction, so even though there were two of us, his basket wasn't very full in the end. I kept thinking we'd find some soon, heading for the next tree, but unfortunately I didn't look behind us, to see that ALL the others had gone to the left when we went to the right. Bad decision on my part. Poor Joe. He was happy with his finds, though, and I was proud of him for not noticing or counting.

I found out something new about Joe, too. He doesn't like chocolate. Can you imagine? Being the chocolate and nut fiend that I am, I just don't get that. He was happy to share his chocolate with others, and they all had non-chocolate candy, gum, and nickels and dimes as well. Afterwards some of the older kids tossed a football around, and the younger examined and traded their treats. We enjoyed being out in the sunshine, even though it felt good to wear our jackets. After several rainy days this week, it was a nice day to be out. Unfortunately, Andy wasn't able to come along, as he has a stomach virus.

That same bug kept he and Joe and I home from church today (Andy was the only ailing one), and we had a quiet day, with Andy taking several naps on my lap. This evening he perked up some and played a little with the others, and now it looks like Whistle is the next to come down with what appears to be quite a contagious bug. Our big accomplishment for this Easter Sunday was to send our dinner with the others to church, and watch a re-run Lawrence Welk Easter show on television. The big hit for the day was the sunglasses the boys received in their plastic pail/Easter baskets, and they wore them to church, to visit at the hospital, or just held them in their hands while they slept, depending on who and when it was.

Hopefully, this little bug the boys have won't last long, as all three boys have medical appointments this week that we don't want to miss.

For the kids here, it's Happy Spring Break week, also!

Update: On Monday morning, I met some of Joe's birth family, and was told he LOVES chocolate, and will gorge himself on it! Since he's totally refused to eat a bite of it this week , I wonder if he overdid it and now can't handle the thought of it. Hmmm . . . .

Monday, March 17, 2008

Update on the Boys

Our two newest residents are settling in, and we're having a good time together. Actually I should say they're having a good time with Whistle. The boys are fast friends, and love playing (actively, loudly) together.

I'm going to call the older of the two boys "Joe," because he looks like a certain Joe did when that Joe was much younger. His younger brother will be called "Andy." Last night the boys were playing horse. Not basketball horse, but ride-on-each-others'-backs horse. They tried different combinations of horse and rider, but settled on the fact that Whistle was strongest, and thus the best horse. After school today they were yelling, calling, directing each other in their play, and it was l-o-u-d loud. It didn't seem to matter than I reminded them over and over to hold it down - this was horse they were playing, and that horse was wild! They were so excited to be back together after each spent the day at their respective schools.

Andy is now able to walk on his cast, and Joe does a great job of scooting around on his hands and one knee, dragging his cast, and pushing with it occasionally when he's really in a hurry (and he thinks I'm not looking). Since we haven't seen these guys without leg casts which slow them down, I wonder what it will be like when they can actually run?

Also, considering the number of trucks, cars, blocks and toys on the floor, and the noise level, I wonder how long it will be before we can all get outside to play? It's raining today and tomorrow, but maybe sunny spring will be here soon.

Dental Check-up

Teenager and Whistle had dental check-ups and cleanings today. We drive past his school whenever we leave home, and Whistle was worried about the cars arriving at school, and missing out. On the way to the dental office, Whistle was showing his trepidation, and started counting his teeth (so the dentist wouldn't have to)! He announced that he had 5 teeth. The waiting room time was very long for him, and he got nervous enough to try to adjust the window blinds, among other things. As for his 5 teeth, the hygienist told him he probably had twice that many, and when she counted, she came up with 20. Imagine that!

Because of his feeding issues and oral defensiveness, this office is not one of favorite places to visit, but he did come home with 4 teeth cleaned this time, and that's 4 more than the last visit. He got to choose a toy from the treasure chest -- anyone who knows him will know what he chose. A small 'superball.' He announced afterward that he'd been "very bwave."

Teenager got a clean bill of health and they each got a new toothbrush, too. All in all, a successful morning.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Makin' It from Scratch

This is a great article on the connections that having a family brings us. It's worth your time to read it. From Scratch

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Speaking of Runts

A fostering-family-friend of ours called today to tell me a story. They have two new lap dogs, and one is the runt of the litter. After explaining to her daughter what being the runt of the litter meant, her daughter said, "Remember that runt that we used to take care of?"

Her mother asked about a different puppy, but that was not what she had in mind. She said, "No mom - he's a human runt. He lives with Teenager now. He's all grown up now. Not grown up like tall, but grown up on the inside, in his head."

Since a runt needs extra care and attention, she figured that Whistle must be a runt, too! :-) He lived with them for a month before he came to us, and we will be forever greatful for this mom's call when she said, "I think you need to meet this boy."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yeah, What she said!

Because Kari said it so well, please go read her thoughts here.

Our homestretch is a long time away. We may never see an empty nest, but I don't regret the choices we've made. One day at a time, one blessing (and trial) at a time, God has provided, and He has promised to continue to do so. I have no fear of the future. Last night I was lying in bed thinking of the last lines of an old Sunday School chorus we used to sing, "For if the Father's eye is on the sparrow, then surely he will care for you. He knoweth, and careth, each burden, he beareth. For if the Father's eye is on the sparrow, then surely he will care for you."

That led my thoughts to a hymn that we sing in our church services now, which also has a line about God caring for the sparrow. You can read and listen to it here: His Eye is on the Sparrow.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29, 31

The sparrows. The children. And us. Fear ye not.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


At first glance, people have thought our two new boys are twins, but they are actually a year apart; two and three. They don't even have the same color hair, but are close in size, if you're not looking closely. However - some things are twin: sweatshirts, toe-to-hip leg casts (one right, one left), and wheelchairs! We knew they had casts before they came, and knew they were due to have new ones (which called for anesthetic) the day after they arrived. What we didn't know was that one was having actual surgery on his foot, and the other a more minor procedure. Thus, the unexpected wheelchairs, and restrictions on weight bearing for both boys; one for 6 weeks, the other a shorter time.

In training, I tell prospective foster parents that a good motto is "Be Flexible." This week it's being put into practice at this house! We're doing okay, one day at a time; both the boys and the foster family. Adjusting to each other, healing from the procedures, and today things are actually much better, because during the two days at the hospital with them, I came down with a case of the stomach flu. Bad. News. Feeling better now. So far, no one else shows signs of it except Whistle, who probably gave it to me in the first place.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Teeny Tiny Food

Our granddaughter E., 4 years old, woke her mother at 3 o'clock in the morning on Monday, excitedly asking if she could eat that teeny tiny food now. Of course Mom was confused, and had her repeat it. Huh? Teeny tiny food? She said, "I'm baptized now, so can I eat that teeny tiny food?"

You see, she was baptized on Sunday (which we are truly thankful for, and do not take lightly), and realized she now could take part in the communion service. It is so funny how kids interpret the world around them! I guess it's time for discussion on the symbolism of the communion service, next.

And two more make . . .

We've had an emergency placement for the last few days, a 12 year old boy who was waiting for a specific home to open up. It went well, as far as we know - but we hardly got to know him. It's so different having kids who aren't going to be staying -- I really don't want to start asking them questions and stirring up things within them. They have so many people in their lives already, I don't want to be one more person who thinks they have all the answers for a child they don't know enough about. I'm trying to make them comfortable and feel welcome, but I wonder . . . when I hold back, do they really feel like we care, or does that make them feel like we're "just a place with a bed" to them? Hmmmm. . . . will think on that for a while.

In other news (as they say), we are awaiting the arrival of two new preschoolers this afternoon. More to come on that later, I'm sure!

Old Friend - New Blogger

Not a friend who is old -- a friendship that has developed over time. I'd like to introduce you to my friend, K. She and her husband are active foster parents, and some of the best friends a family could ever have. From the outside looking in at foster families, things sometimes seem different than they are when working within the family, and within the system. Having good friends like them to share our lives with makes our days richer and fuller.

I love this gal, and I want to welcome her to the blogging community.

K: These flowers are for you. :-)

You can visit her
HERE. Please say hello, and tell her Other Mother told you to stop by and see if she could come out to play.

Young Singers

Check out this video of The Cactus Cuties, 5 girls ages 8 to 13, singing the National Anthem.

Amazing voices.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Three Questions

As he's shooting baskets in the hallway . . .
Whistle: Mom? what's "foul"?
Mom: Breaking the rules, like bumping another player.

2 Minutes later, falling on the floor while shooting baskets . . .
Whistle: What's fashul?
Mom: What?
Whistle: What's frashul?
Mom: Oh, fragile? Breakable.
Teenager: (while practicing the piano in the same room) You're not fragile, you're tough!!

1 minute later, still shooting baskets . . .
Whistle: Mom? What's macarena?
Mom: A dance
Teenager: Like this! (quits practicing to demonstrate the macarena)

1 minute later, still playing basketball. . .
Whistle: (Clapping, cheering) Whoohoo! Miss-ouri . . . TIGERS!!
Teenager: (practicing the piano) Thank-you, thank-you!
Whistle: I'm not clapping for YOU. I'm clapping for my teammates!

Only two kids, and still, never a dull moment.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Whistle: "Today, we Jumped Rope for Heart, and I tried it, and I messed up. And Coach Tree made it shorter for me, and then I did it, and I did it, and I DID IT, and I DID IT WITHOUT ANY HELP!"

"I just kind of messed up."

This Month's Verse

The verse for the Company Girls (see button on the left) this month is, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them." Psalm 84:5

Friday, February 1, 2008

Evil, Wicked and Evil

New York Times Story

There are few things that render me speechless, but this story made me so heartsick, tears are rolling down my face, and I can't find words to express how unbelievably horrible this is.

Edited to add: I knew I couldn't write effectively on this subject, but I knew Barbara could. Read her take on this here: Barbara's blog post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Coming . . . It's Getting Closer!

We heard yesterday that Whistle's case is moving forward. Apparently there are some new people involved who think this has dragged on too long. Some of us would agree with that! ;-) A late February date has been set for having certain information to the court, and that's the first step - or at least next step - the first legal step toward making Whistle a permanent part of our family. He feels so much like one of us, I hesitate when people ask me how many kids we have. It's 5, legally, then there's Whistle, and then there are often foster kiddos who will not be staying long term. It just depends on how you count. Birth certificates -- or heartstrings.

We are so blessed!

But he just wanted to hear it

This morning, after dressing for school.

Whistle: Mom, you can 'pologize for getting lotion in my eye.
Other Mother: Yes, I'm so sorry I got lotion in your eye!
Whistle: That's okay, you don't need to 'pologize.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A NEW Take on Shopping

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but for years, our now 15 year old Teenager found it impossible to go clothes shopping. When I couldn't put it off any longer, I'd take her into a store, and she'd just stand there in the clothing section, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. I finally figured out that if I took things off of the rack and said things like, "You need a new shirt -- how about this one?" -- she would respond and I would try again with another one, saying "What do you like about it, and what don't you like?" She could do it for about 30 minutes, and she was finished. Really finished. Suffice it to say the dressing room part of it was Not Fun. I think she was just overwhelmed and maybe overstimulated. Whatever the reason, it was not a typical teenage girl experience!

Today, however, something was different. We've had a breakthrough! Teenager can shop for clothes!! Yesterday, from the 75% off clearance rack I picked up some [solid color/no outside label/suitable for Christian school] polo shirts and sweaters. Today, I took her back to the same JCP store to get her opinion on some casual shirts, and we had a blast! She was pleasant, engaged, and actively involved in choosing some things to try on. Willingly. Willingly! She put on various combinations, discussed when and where she'd wear them, and did a great job of choosing from the "maybe" group after she'd tried them all on. We went to another store for some undergarments, and even that was fun. Two more trips to the dressing room, and we were both still smiling. And . . . she's planning to pay for it all herself from her most recent paycheck! Whoo hoo!

To finish up our Girls Night Out, we ate at Applebees together, just the two of us. What a great evening!