Thursday, July 23, 2009
Recent kid comments:
E. was showing me her foot the other day. She said she has a "pinky toe," 3 in the middle, and a "thumb toe!"
Also, I doubt if E. has a huge future in baseball. She has a make-up game scheduled for her tee ball team, and she said, "Grandma, I think I know what we're going to do at the make-up game. I think our team is going to chase the other team and see who can get all the make-up!"
Sarah, C. and E. are moving from our home next month. Whistle said, "When C. and E. move, can we look for more foster kids?" Probably eventually, but I thought it might be really interesting to see what it was like for only three (3!!) of us to be in this house. We'll see . . . . If they call with a baby with medical needs, I'm right on it. Otherwise, I guess we'll see. When Whistle asked me a question the other day, I answered, "We'll see." He cried and said, "We'll see means no!" In this case, though, it means . . . we'll see. And . . . when I jokingly mentioned "getting a new kid" to Ben yesterday, he said I should sign the "non-adoption clause" first. He should meet Claudia, Teresa, and all the others of you who really DO have big families. Here, we haven't managed to fulfil our blog name . . . And one more makes SIX!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
On the first day of this year's tee ball practice, Whistle said, "Practice!?
Why not a REAL game?
I ALREADY know how to play!"
On the way to tonight's game, he said, "Do you know what I'm going to do when I grow up?"
Other Mother: "No, What?"
Whistle: "I'm going to play COACH pitch!"
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
However - today I have something else I want to share with you. I'd like you to read Claudia's post at Never a Dull Moment.
I don't think every family needs to do foster care by any means, but I do firmly believe everyone should be doing something to help others. There is no James 1:28, as she said. The King James Version gives the verse as "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." I don't know what the original language word was that is translated as "visit," but I do know that as Christians, and following Biblical teaching in general, we should be looking for opportunities to give, help, and support. Doing foster care and adoption is one part of that - but everyone can (and should!) do something.
Friday, June 5, 2009
It's been a while since I downloaded pictures from the camera, and it was like looking through a scrapbook remembering the last few weeks. First on the camera were pictures of dyeing Easter Eggs (edited to correct DYING Easter Eggs - how awful!). Even Father got involved this year! Next was Teenager's birthday. We celebrated with her the day before her birthday on May 4th. Since her birthday is on Cinco de Mayo, she always wants to have Mexican food, and celebrating a day early helped us avoid the crowds of Cinco de Mayo. This year it was a necessity, but maybe it will be a preference from now on! The picture above is with her sombrero (and whipped cream on her nose, from the HUGE ice cream dessert the waiters brought when they sang to her). It's hard to believe she is actually 17. Where does the time go? She was only 10 when she came to us, and such a little girl!
We see Teenager off and on, and talk on the phone often. We had met her boyfriend once before, but on Memorial Day, we took a couple of friends, and we all had dinner together. It was a good day. Teenager is healthy and happy, and we're very thankful. She has a summer job, which is nice for her, too. We love you, girl!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Emma is loving her first days in kindergarten. She turned 5 last August, so it's been a long time for her to wait. She likes to be busy all the time. When she was a toddler, she didn't play with toys, but would check out everything on every table (in other words, everything we didn't want her to touch)! When her mother, Sarah, picked her up from school yesterday, she asked the teacher, "Does she talk all the time?" The teacher looked surprised and said, "No." Then she went on to say, "She's quite the mother hen, though! And that's okay, because we have some who DO need help!" When Sarah related it to me, we both laughed, because Sarah knew . . .
A few years ago, a little girl named Sarah started kindergarten in eastern Nebraska. One day the teacher was showing a substitute teacher around her room, and she said, "If there's anything you need to know, just ask Sarah. She knows everything that's going on. If anyone even brings a note to my desk, she wants to know what it's about!" When the teacher told me that, I was suitably embarrassed of course, but we had a good laugh, because . . . that was Sarah!
So, if "Like Mother, Like Daughter" . . . it makes me wonder where Sarah got it. If you desire to comment, please remember this rule: If you can't say something nice, please don't say anything at all." ;-)
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
C. wasn't all that excited about going back to school, but WAS excited about seeing her best friend Firecracker from the Ours family again. As soon as she saw her walking to class, she jumped into the line with her, and Firecracker said to me, "Will you call my mom and tell her I said, Hi?" I did, on my way out of the building. Things like that make the first day of school fun for all of us. As Firecracker's mom says, "That girl!"
Whistle was also excited. He knew exactly which outfit he wanted to wear. Our conversation went like this:
Whistle: I want those blue pants and that Nike shirt.
Other Mother: Which blue pants and Nike shirt?
Whistle: You know. The blue pants and Nike shirt!
Other Mother: I don't know which ones you mean.
Whistle: You know . . . that shirt that I go "AAARRRRAAAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!" and you go "Do you need help?"
I still didn't know, but now know that apparently he had trouble getting it on last time!
As the Mom from the Ours family and I both know - these later in life kids keep us on our toes!!
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Other Mother's Cell
Seriously, though. Tomorrow is Mother's Day, and I am Blessed Above Measure. Blessed to be the wife of FatherOfThemAll; Blessed to be Mom to Sarah, Ben, Liz (and their spouses), Hugger, Teenager, and Whistle; Blessed to be Grandma to C. and E., H. and A., CN and yet-to-be-born G.; and Blessed also to be Other Mother to more than 160 others out there, who were in our home for a while, and our hearts forever. Who could ask for more? I love you all!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
She asked about our training, and what I thought of it. I responded saying I liked that we are allowed to get 1/2 our training hours from outside sources, so I could attend trainings specific to my children, especially those with medical needs. (I did not say that the trainings offered by the agency were often boring and repetitive, unless they were presented by someone outside the agency, from new material. I was trying to be a good team member.) She also wondered about my role as a trainer of new foster parents, and how that was structured. We team-teach: a degreed social worker, counselor, or other professional, along with a foster parent. (We provide the color commentary to go along with the play-by-play.) She delved a little further into that, getting assurance from me that our practice is full involvement with the training, actually presenting half the material, not just dropping by occasionally.
Another question was about mentoring of new foster parents. Although we do a lot of mentoring, some of it arranged by the agency, and some of it naturally occurring by active foster parents and through the foster parent group, there is no official mentoring of every new foster family that I know of. It has been mentioned, but is not in regular practice.
She also asked if I felt I was part of the team (definitely, and I remember the time, years ago, when that was not the case), and if the agency is responsive to concerns (also a definite yes answer). In fact, with the new administration in our agency, we now have regular meetings to share foster parent concerns with the administration. Naturally, we have some complaints about things not on the local level, but I believe they're doing what they can, locally. A little more flexibility would be nice, but we can't have everything.
I was asked the one thing I'd most like to see changed, and then the one thing I enjoy most about what I do. My biggest concern is lack of new foster parents, and foster parent retention. The more families we have, the better the matches can be made, and the more successful placements will be. Along with that -- actually the basis of retention of foster parents -- I think is feeling supported by the agency. The key to this is knowledgeable workers - seasoned workers who have some experience under their belts. In this area, we are a college town, and have many new graduates who begin their careers in our agency, then move elsewhere. The constant turnover is a downfall, but I'm not sure what to do to prevent it. The thing I enjoy most is seeing a child's success -- those little daily things, having a child experience growth through something he's accomplished that he didn't belive he could. That's all I need - just a smile from a kid, and an occasional pat on the back from the agency.
There were a couple of other subjects that I can't think of right now -- I'll edit later if I remember them. The team left here to meet with an adoptive parent, and then a young man who aged out of the system.
All in all -- it was a good experience. I hope they get the information they're looking for, and our agency can get back to the focus of serving the children in our care, rather than meeting accreditation standards. Paperwork is important, but not the most important thing, by far.
I haven't understood the exact reason our state agency wants/needs to be accredited, but I imagine it involves money, somehow -- possibly access to funds from the federal level. Whatever the reason, better practices never hurt any agency. One of the things we've noticed recently is a reduction in cases per worker. Fewer cases should mean better service to the children. My strengths don't lie in statistics, or legislative or fiscal matters, but I'm happiest right here in the trenches, with the kids in our home and family. However, in recent years, I have become a little more involved, because I see what a difference it makes to advocate on behalf of our children and others in foster care.
I don't really know what to expect from this visit. Maybe questions like: "How long have you been a foster parent, and how many kids have you cared for?" "How often do the workers visit you, and how often do they visit the children?" "How is your relationship with the agency workers?" "What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of this agency?" "What are your training requirements?" They may also ask to see a foster child's bedroom, but I really don't expect this meeting to be a "house inspection." Nevertheless -- I have sorted and put away some paper-work piles, and the clutter that so quickly accumulates. There's no reason not to try to make a good impression!
Because we've been foster parents for so many years (29), had such a wide variety of kiddos, and I work with the local foster parent support group and train prospective foster parents -- we have a fairly broad perspective. As I've said before, "I may not always be right, but I always have opinions!" ;-)
We'll see what the afternoon brings . . . .
I'll be back to let you know how it went.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
For a couple of days after the wedding, we were blessed with visitors at home, the parents of the groom. We shared a lot -- hearing about their humanitarian and church work in Mexico, our experiences in this church community, stories about former foster children we've both had including some experiences and children in common, and the trials and tribulations of fostering very challenging children. It's a special time when you can be with people whose experiences have been similar - they "just get it" in so many ways that others don't. We didn't have to fill in background stories, explain our motives, or the outcome. They just knew. It was refreshing to be together again, and we look forward to the next time, even knowing it may be years away.
We shared laughs and tears, and one evening the laugh was on me, for sure! For supper that night, I planned an Italian dinner -- two kinds of ravioli, two sauces, with salad and bread. We were spending our time visiting, instead of worrying about food, and all were things I had on hand and easy to prepare.
Everything was fine until our guest tasted his dinner and said with surprise, "Oh, there's a bite to that!" I was surprised -- he lives in Mexico, and surely eats a lot of hot things. I didn't taste that "bite," at least at first, but soon I knew what he was talking about. I checked the kitchen and discovered that instead of adding a jar of spaghetti sauce to my pot of marinara, I'd added a 16 oz jar of picante sauce. There was a "bite" to that for sure, and I think an Italian diner would be surprised! As my friend Karen said, A little Mexican never hurt anyone!
Friday, March 13, 2009
We sometimes read about the families we work with in the paper. Sometimes we read newspaper stories about kids in tragic situations, and we've already been asked to care for those kids while family problems get worked out. Sometimes we get a different sort of news -- as shown by my good friend, the Mom of the "Ours" family. We also know the person this story is about, although we haven't had direct connections with him in a while.
Read her story here.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I think it bothered Hugger more this year, too. He has a new alarm clock and gets himself up now, and on Tuesday morning, he called home early, and sounded very slow and groggy. He said, "Mommm? It's . . . still . . . dark!" I had to be the bearer of the bad news, "Yes, I know, but it's still time to get up and get dressed." Poor guy - I knew JUST how he felt!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
As often happens -- things didn't go exactly as planned, but it was a good experience for us, and hopefully, for the teen. We did get a call giving us the option to keep her longer so she could avoid going to a temporary shelter until they locate and arrange a foster home, but because of our licensing capacity, we couldn't consider that. Also - we are still working closely with our own Teenager's situation, and we don't want to complicate that with an additional child.
A few phone calls back and forth, and a pair of workers traveling from several counties away to meet the on-call worker from last night who was picking up her belongings. Plans to meet at the typical meeting place -- McDonald's. Midnight Teen is now on her way to a temporary place, and eventually, a new living situation. Children are not moved from home to home willy-nilly, as some think. There's always a reason. We do wish things were better for children, but many kids and families have more problems than they can deal with, and the resulting fallout is not good. Those problems are often multiplied through the generations. It is very sad. We are so limited in what we can do, but hopefully, we've been a bright spot for her for a few hours, at least.
Midnight Teen - we are saying prayers for you, and wish you well.
It's 1:50 a.m. and if I hadn't done it earlier, I could change the clocks at 2:00 a.m. as the newspapers and anchormen remind us to. Instead (because I set my bedroom alarm clock in the afternoon, because that's the clock that really matters), we sit here waiting for a teenager to arrive. A teenager we haven't met yet - and we don't even know his/her name. We were told the sex, the age, and only because we asked, the circumstances of why this teen needs a bed in the middle of the night. From the relief in the worker's voice when we agreed to take the teen overnight, I think we were a long way down the list of emergency foster parents; those who would consider taking a child on very short notice.
One part of foster care that isn't often talked about is called "emergency foster care." Usually, kids come and go during weekday, daytime hours, but that isn't always possible. Things happen at odd times, too. A parent gets detained or arrested and there's no one to call to stay with the children; a teen runs away from home, foster home, or other residence; or some other circumstance. The story is never the same. Once we had 3 preschool-age children, including a baby in an infant seat, arrive at midnight, because the parents' meth lab in their home was "busted." The children were very thirsty, very dirty, and very upset and crying over the disruption to their "normal" life.
Lots of things go through our minds as we begin to wake up, and make preparations for the new arrival. Tonight, our first realization was that Hugger is home overnight, and is in the bedroom we need for this child. Oops! He's cooperative, although confused, and moves across the hall to sleep in Whistle's room. I check the room, taking out anything that could be dangerous or tempting to a teen, and make up the bed. Then I check the bathroom, and then wait. Will it be an angry teen, fed up with the system, and be at risk for running away? Will this be one who needs medication, and will they have it with them? Not likely. Will we regret that they don't have their medicine, and haven't had any all day? Possibly. We were told that this child would be picked up tomorrow by another agency, and transported elsewhere. Will that actually happen? Maybe. But maybe not.
Update: unknown teen is here, is tired, and is cooperative. At least for now. My first impression is that this will go well, and for that, I'm thankful. Morning telephone calls should make the transfer plan for later in the day, and we'll see what happens. Back to bed now, and hopefully we'll get a little more sleep before morning comes.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
(Automated voice) "The person you are trying to call . . .
(Homeowner's voice) "I'm sorry, but I'm not available."
(Automated voice) ". . . has a voice mailbox that is full." "Please try your call again later."
Today, I tried again, and heard:
(Automated voice) "The person you are trying to call . . ."
(Homeowner's voice) "I'm sorry, but I'm not available."
(Automated voice) " . . . is not available . . . "
Technology . . .gone dorky. It struck my funny bone, but now that I'm writing it . . . maybe you just had to be there.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I saw a baby onesie with the saying on it, "I need some Grandma Time!" What a great idea, a tee shirt to remind those kids of ours to come visit, and give us some grandma and grandpa time! This weekend it was extra nice to have an opportunity to spend some time with the three youngest girls who call me grandma.
Ben and Julie came to the area to celebrate a friend's birthday on Friday evening, and they and their girls spent Friday night and Saturday with us. It was a special pleasure to read to H at bedtime, pray with her, and be the one to tuck her in. They helped us with some church cleaning in the morning, and we spent the afternoon just relaxing, reading books and playing with the girls. Thirty minutes after they left, Liz and George arrived for CN's first overnight visit. At this young age, every visit brings lots of changes as she goes from being a newborn, to an infant who reacts to things around her.
What a joy to get to be with these delightful little girls!
Speaking of granddaughters -- I've begun to notice changes in C and E, too. Since they came to stay with us a few months ago, C is stretching up to be so tall -- she reminds me more of a 4th grader than a 2nd grade girl. She busies herself around the house with coloring and other creative projects. She spent the night last night with her friend Firecracker, and it sounds like there was not a dull moment with the two of them together. C's sister E is also growing up and changing. She has just learned to "ride a two-wheel bike," so she goes outside several times a day to ride down the driveway and back. E loves helping grandma with the cooking and cleaning, too. Last night, she helped Hugger set the table for dinner, and she told him to get the casserole from the oven. He did as she instructed, and it wasn't until 30 minutes later when I went to check the status of the cooking dinner that I discovered it was already on the table! It went back into the oven to finish, and we had a family dinner with George and Liz, even though a little later than expected.
5 sweet little girls. What could be better than that? Well -- only the anticipation of the next grandchild in August. Next month brings the time for the sonogram, so we may find out if it's girl number 6, or our first little boy.
There is nothing sweeter to my ears than those little voices saying, "Grandma . . ."
Monday, February 23, 2009
I wrote last fall about Teenager's medical illness, and asked for prayers. In January she received this award. In between, she experienced some emotional difficulties related to her times in her life before she joined our family. I didn't share that here, because I just didn't know what to say. One day things are wonderful, and the next, they may not be. Now, again, she is struggling with issues related to her past. I don't want to say too much, but also am not able to act as if everything is fine, because it definitely is not. Teenage years present challenges for all families, but for those who don't have the solid foundation of the early years to fall back on, it's especially challenging. Developing attachments and the feeling of security during adolescence is a difficult task for kids who've not experienced it early in their lives. Despite our training and experience, Father and I still experience the up and down emotions as well. Meeting the needs of individual family members, and the family as a whole is an ever-changing task. At the moment, teenager is not at home with us, and we're working on a plan for the future. We don't know yet what that plan will be. We love her, and she loves us. That much is certain. We know that God is in control, and if are open to His leading, He will show us a way; it is not necessary that WE have the answers. We pray for her, that He will keep her safe, and show her the way as well.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Miss E. is also learning the letters and their sounds, rhyming words and other pre-school skills. We got a big laugh the other night when she excitedly told us about two words that, according to her, start the same. We were eating Mexican food for supper, and she said, "Listen! Ba-rack Obama. Ba-rack-amole." (The green condiment made from avocados - guacamole!) I think it might be called barackamole around here from now on. What do you think our new president would think about that?
Monday, February 16, 2009
Yesterday I spent the day with Whistle. It was to be a school holiday, but our school made up a snow day, instead. Instead of going to school, Whistle had an appointment for a "psych eval." This is a pre-adoption requirement by the state. We feel like we have a pretty good understanding of who he is, and what his needs are, but more information is always good. More information collected by a trusted-good-friend-psychologist-and-paid-for-by-someone-other-than-us is very good.
His report was as expected -- they think he's WONDERFUL. ;-) There will eventually be an official diagnosis, of course, but that one's close enough for me. I've always had difficulty accepting the numeric specifics of delays and disabilities. I will never forget when Hugger was very young, and I heard the words "3 months progress in 12 months." (Thankfully, I don't think they even use terminology like that any more.) I don't think I heard anything else in that meeting from then on. Those numbers were devastating to me. I am fine with kids who are delayed, and can easily work on whatever comes next in developmental order. I appreciate all the little steps of progress, enjoy the strengths each kiddo shows, and appreciate the little quirks that help up to make their fun personalities. Just don't tell me 3 months progress in 12 months. ARRRRGGG! As to Whistle's testing and interview yesterday, his verbal skills were commented on, not because he uses unusual vocabulary, or talks in perfect logical sentences, but the assessors confirmed what we've heard before. "He talks like an adult." It's hard to put a finger on the specifics - but that does describe him well. A friend of a friend just last week said "I want to meet that little guy. He's about this big, but he talks like he's 42!" We are thankful that his personality is an asset to him. He enriches our days, and his strengths may help him through some rough patches in the future.
In other news: today we attended a court hearing -- one of those that was supposed to be decision making, but instead it was set again for a later time. Apparently a few of those at the front tables had Nonlinear Waterfowl Issues (in other words - they didn't have their ducks in a row!) There will be another hearing, next month, and then the decision making sometime after that. This case is a good example of the things we tell families in foster care training often that do not match up with what they experience in real life. We try to prepare them for case specific circumstances. It's hard though, when the answer to every question a class member asks is prefaced with, "It depends . . ." That's the reality of the situation, though. We've been around foster care case management for years, but still, every single case is different, and so are workers, supervisors, juvenile offices, judges, counties, and states. And unfortunately, "12 consecutive months, or 15 out of 22 months" might seem to be very specific, but I can assure you, "It depends . . . ."
Sunday, February 8, 2009
When we walked in this afternoon, Father called me in to Whistle's room to see that while we were gone, granddaughter E. had been playing with her new doll, which was lying in Whistle's bed with a feeding pump bag hanging from the pole, and tubing tucked into her clothes. When we asked her about it, she said, "She has to eat, to grow and be healthy!"
Children learn what they live -- so it's a great reminder to be careful how we're living, don't you think?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Please, if there is any possibility of pregnancy, observe 049, which means "Zero alcohol for nine months." It's the least you can do, to totally avoid the possibility of your baby's brain being damaged by alcohol, which changes his entire life.
Thank you, Kari, for all you do.
Fletcher: Disorder is preventable
FAIRMONT - Ben is 11 years old. He looks like an average child; he has an average IQ. But when he gets frustrated, he becomes unable to control his rage.
"School is the most frustrating part of life right now," said his adoptive mother, Kari Fletcher. "Ben would get frustrated and flip into a rage and flip over desks and would have to be hauled to the time out room."
Ben's brain has been damaged, an irreversible side effect of his biological mother's alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
And his suffering - along with that of his family - was 100 percent preventable.
Fletcher has dedicated her life to educating people about the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. She is the southern Minnesota regional resource coordinator for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The Rotary Club of Fairmont is sponsoring a seminar on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders given by Fletcher Thursday at the Fairmont Opera House.
Phil Smith, a member of the Rotary Club, said Fletcher presented the information at a Rotary meeting last year.
"We thought, 'Wow! This is 100 percent preventable, so if we could get this out to as many people as (possible), that would be a good thing,'" Smith said.
Fletcher said fetal alcohol syndrome disorder is a spectrum disorder, meaning the severity of the birth defects fall on a continuum.
"Most people don't have full blown fetal alcohol syndrome, with the facial features and small bodies," Fletcher said. "Most people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders look pretty normal, have average IQs. The problem is with the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that tells us to stop and have a second thought. It influences impulse control, lets kids plan things out and to learn something in one setting and apply it in another setting.
"This is important to surviving in our society."
According to Fletcher, the specific damage caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol depends on when during the pregnancy the mother took a drink. She said the recognizable facial disfiguration - including a flat groove above the lip, a thin upper lip and shortened eyes - seems to be most prevalent when the mother consumes alcohol during the first few weeks of pregnancy - often even before a woman knows she is pregnant.
Brain damage, low birth weight, malformed organs and miscarriage are also effects of alcohol exposure while in utero.
One of the reasons alcohol consumption during pregnancy is so damaging, Fletcher said, is because it goes directly into the baby's blood stream.
"It directly crosses the placenta," she said. "When mom drinks alcohol, the baby's blood alcohol level matches the mom's, but the mom has a mature elimination system. The baby stays 'drunk' longer and doesn't have the mature liver to process it out."
Since the alcohol stays with the fetus longer, there is more time for it to kill or alter brain cells. Fletcher said specialized cells can get rerouted and end up in the wrong part of the brain.
"The child has all the information up there sometimes, but can't access it," she said. "The brain is very vulnerable."
And this disorder doesn't just affect children.
"(People with FASD) can have trouble holding a job, have a hard time in school, and really struggle in our fast paced, abstract society," Fletcher said.
It wasn't until the 1970s that doctors identified fetal alcohol syndrome. The range of disorders on the spectrum - including partial fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder and fetal alcohol effects - weren't identified until later, when doctors noticed children with the behavioral and neurological effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, but without the facial features and small stature.
Fletcher pointed out that many people have recognized specific similarities in the children of alcohol-addicted mothers.
"It has been noted throughout history," she said.
"I don't believe any mom means to do this."
Because the symptoms of FASD tend to be invisible - and because of the stigma of a woman admitting to a doctor she drank during pregnancy - fetal alcohol spectrum disorders often are misdiagnosed.
Ben was first diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism, Fletcher said.
"The ADHD medications didn't work," she said. "With Ben it made him more aggressive."
Fletcher said that while the symptoms may seem similar between disorders, their underlying cause - and therefore how they are treated - is vastly different.
Ben was eventually diagnosed with alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorder.
Fletcher knew about his disability when he was adopted. She and her husband were Ben's foster parents. After adopting him, the family learned Ben's biological mother had another child needing a home, and the Fletchers adopted her too. Anna is 6 years old and suffers from a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as well. The couple also have four biological children.
Despite the bleak circumstances fetal alcohol spectrum disorder children have to overcome, Fletcher stresses that this diagnosis is not a death sentence. The key is determining strategies for helping them find success.
"It's like this," she said. "I have a brain deficiency myself, and I don't know where it comes from, but I have a lack of direction. I can study a map all day and not know north. But I travel all over the state. I have to use a map drawn by my husband or Mapquest. I look at my kids and ask myself, 'What can I pull in to help them?' These kids are not lazy, willful or defiant."
For women who are pregnant and maybe had a drink before they knew it, or perhaps even after they did, Fletcher says not to panic.
"Different amounts affect different fetuses," she said. "Timing is a factor, as well as the baby's resiliency."
But if down the road the child has an attention problem, she says not to hesitate to find a doctor familiar with the disorder and have the child tested.
"Many women talk about the pregnancy police," Fletcher said. "'You can't do this, you can't do that,' but I say this isn't about what you can't do, it is about what you can do. This is a disability that you can 100 percent prevent. Wow, you have incredible power."
There are two free educational workshops to choose from during Fletcher's seminar on Thursday - one from 1-4:30 p.m., the other 6:30-9:15 p.m. Three continuing education credits are available with pre-registration and a $20 fee. The deadline for CEU registration is Wednesday. Call (507) 238-4382 to register.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Teenager received an award this month: the "I CAN" CLUB AWARD OF EXCELLENCE. She was nominated by her teacher in her digital media class. He said, "Teenager does excellent work in Photoshop and is always open to learning new tools and techniques. She is always early to class and ready to learn. She demonstrates an upbeat and positive attitude. Congratulations, Teenager."
The certificate also says, "You have been recognized by your teacher and peers to receive the I CAN CLUB Award of Excellence. Even though academic standing is important and taken into consideration in determining who receives this award, candidates are also evaluated on the basis of dependability, reliability, cooperation, self-motivation, and courtesy. In addition, they must possess the ability to work to their capacity and potential, help their co-workers and serve as role models to other students.
We congratulate you for being chosen as one of those honored students to receive the I CAN CLUB Award of Excellence. We challenge you to explore your full potential in reaching for new heights through your life."
The award was presented at a breakfast hosted by the University, and each of the students received their award as their recommendation comments were read aloud. In addition to the certificate, she received a pen and pencil set, with the "I CAN CLUB" inscription.
Congratulations, Teenager. Your mom and dad are very proud of you!
1. I was an AFS exchange student to Austria when I was 16.
2. I've played the piano since I was 7; and in high school band, played the tympani and the bells. When I was a senior, my best friend Elaine (now my sister-in-law) and I sat in with the fifth grade band, and learned to play the trombone. It didn't last long -- the director was patient, but when we became a distraction with our giggles . . . he wasn't that patient.
3. I've been married to Father for almost 35 years. We started dating when I was 16, and he was 18. We married a year after I graduated from high school. We thought we were grown up.
4. I joined the Primitive Baptist Church after we were engaged, and I was baptized in a small lake in Nebraska, in January. They cut 7 inches of ice for my baptism, and a 7 year old boy was also baptized that day. My first communion/foot washing service was the day after we were married a few months later. We were on our honeymoon in Colorado. My faith and belief is vitally important to me, but I'm not very talkative about it.
5. Father farmed with his dad the first two years we were married, and we farmed wheat, and raised cows/calves, and a few pigs. During a blizzard, he found a frozen new-born calf, and put it through our front window (onto our sofa), because the doors were blocked with snow. The calf lived a while on our enclosed back porch, but his legs were frozen badly, and eventually he died.
6. I can roller skate, but the ability to ice skate escaped me, no matter how hard I tried.
7. I've always wanted to be a good swimmer, but never could move efficiently through the water.
8. We've been foster parents for 30 years, and have had more than 160 kids in our home. I love foster parenting, and work with the foster parent support group, train prospective foster parents and write home studies.
9. I've been a SAHM all except 2 years, when I was a special ed teacher's aide.
10. We used to have a garden, but now go to the farmer's market when we can, instead. We also appreciate other people's abundance, and our church friends are very generous with their gardens.
11. We have 3 children by birth, 2 by adoption, and one more adoption planned in the next year or so. That will give us children from 6 to 32 years old. We have 5 granddaughters, and one more grandchild on the way.
12. Father and I both grew up in Nebraska, but there are no immediate family members left in that state. We're in Missouri, and our siblings live in Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas.
13. I like to sew, do cross stitch, and bake, but don't do much of any of them any more.
14. The sports we watch are the ones our kids are participating in. We've watched softball, tee ball, baseball (5 kids on 4 teams one summer), soccer, and 11 years of wrestling; and in Special Olympics: softball, soccer, basketball, bowling, and gymnastics.
15. I love southern gospel music! Bill Gaither and friends, Statler Brothers, Cathedrals, and all.
16. I also love singing a cappella from the hymn book with a congregation of believers, or singing with family or guests at home.
17. Our family vacation to Alaska last year was wonderful, and we'll treasure the memories forever. I wish we could travel every year! Time away from home is usually spent visiting family and attending church meetings, so there aren't any complaints with that, either.
18. I'm a procrastinator and am easily distracted, but can meet the deadlines when necessary.
19. As I've aged, my priorities have changed, and some things I used to think were important no longer seem as important.
20. I used to think only old ladies liked fresh flowers, but now I love them. Does that mean I'm old?
21. I love kids, but do not want pets, and especially not in the house!
22. I love cardinals, and birds always remind me of my mother, who loved watching the birds outside her window.
23. I love this country, and our freedom, but I wish its citizens were more God centered and family oriented.
24. I am moved to tears often by things precious to me.
25. I asked Teenager what should be included in this list, and she said "You sneeze very loudly!" My claim to fame, apparently. ;-)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
This post is a little after-the-fact, but I want to catch up those who haven't been in touch with us personally, I want to post more often, and this is what's on my mind.
Every night Whistle prays for all his siblings, usually naming them one by one. When Liz and George announced that they were expecting, he added their new baby as well (and now has added Ben and Julie's baby-on-the-way). In the last few weeks, he's been praying for Liz to "have a safe pregnancy, and a safe baby." That is unusual wording, but proved to be prophetic. Also, one of the men in Liz and George's church had a special burden for the babies, and suggested a special prayer meeting for them. This occured on Wednesday evening: specific prayers for the new babies - 3 month old twins, one of whom has a health problem; our granddaughter Charlotte, who arrived early -- the day before the prayer meeting was scheduled; and another who was due later, but also arrived early -- the day after the special prayer meeting. Little did we know then how much we would rely on Whistle's prayers, the prayer meeting, and the prayers of many others.
Early in the morning on Friday, less than 24 hours after they'd been dismissed from the hospital, I was going to enjoy some grandma and baby time. Before we even got to the family room, I fell with Charlotte in my arm (believing I was at the floor when there was actually one more step). Although in falling I broke through the drywall with my face, Charlotte remained cradled in my arm, as we landed on the ceramic tile floor. I'm certain hitting the wall first is what protected us from hitting the floor with more force. I had no warning or even a stumble to try to protect her - it was just God's hand that kept her close to me. I have a few scrapes and bruises but was protected as well. It could have been so much worse --there was a stud close by, an outside corner of the wall a few inches away on one side, and a door jam on the other. Another landing spot would have caused many more injuries, most likely to both of us.
Although we now know that she was unscathed, the next couple of days were spent with her in the children's hospital for observation, and it was an emotionally draining time for all of us. Charlotte is "doing the things babies do," as the neurosurgeon said, and we know this is only by God's grace. We cannot express how thankful we are for God's protection of this tiny little girl as we look back over the circumstances. Liz and George were wonderfully supportive through it all, and I thank God for them and their love. The prayers of our church brethren and friends are surely what kept us all going -- even those prayers that were prayed long before her birth.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Tonight we are excited! By this time tomorrow, we expect to be grandparents again - as George and Liz are expecting to have their baby girl sometime tomorrow. Liz has had some elevated blood pressure, so the doctor wants to induce her labor a few days before the due date. We have been praying for the baby and her parents, and tonight Whistle prayed what has become a standard phrase for him, "Help Liz have a safe pregnancy, and a safe baby." Soon Little Miss York will join his list of siblings and cousins that he prays for every night.
Liz had been looking for a crib set for the baby's room earlier, and when she found one they really liked -- it was a little too pricey. Isn't that how it goes? We decided we could try to duplicate it, and started looking for fabrics. The original set was paisley and stripe, but she decided on these flower prints instead of the paisleys we found. In the end - it's unique, for a special little girl. It was fun to sew again -- I don't get my machine out very often (I even take my mending and hemming to someone else). However, sewing like this is much more fun! I finished it tonight, just in time -- even though it will be a little while before she's in the crib in her room, I'm sure.
Welcome, little one, the world awaits your arrival!!
Left to right, top to bottom: crib skirt, dresser scarf, comforter, bumper pad, sheets, decorative pillows.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Last summer at the one-hour-a-day basketball camp for young boys, Whistle won a dribble knock-out challenge. All the boys dribbled basketballs for as long as they could, protecting their own ball while trying to knock the other boys' balls away from them. He wasn't big on hitting other boys' balls away, but was very good at keeping his own protected and bouncing.
His reward for winning was to attend a high school varsity game as water boy, and last night was his special night. He's been so excited all week he could hardly stand it. He woke up every day asking what day it was. On Thursday evening, he repeatedly told me that after school (Friday) he wasn't going to be hungry (so we could skip supper and go on to the game). Thursday night in his prayer, he prayed for his favorite player and hero, our neighbor Adam. [Side note: Adam's mom works at Whistle's school, and eats lunch with him daily because of his feeding issues. She encourages Whistle to eat so he can be strong like Adam, and in his prayer, Whistle also prayed for Adam to "eat healthy food, like pizza."]
On Friday, we realized that the evening schedule was 4 games, and Whistle's game would be late - probably 9 o'clock! For a guy who is drooping at 7 o'clock - that wasn't good news. We tried to get him to nap after school, but he was waaay too excited to even relax. We ate a quick supper, and headed up to the school, because he was certain we were going to miss the game, and we might as well be watching games as be at home being anxious about it. We saw the last half of the JV Boys game and all of the Varsity Girls game, before the Varsity Boys game. He began to get cold feet at the end of the waiting time, but when Father took him around the gym to meet the assistant coach, he was ready and willing to go to the locker room, and didn't look back.
I wondered what the pre-game was like in the locker room, since my only experience is seeing sports movies and videos (and lots of them, since they're Hugger's favorites). We saw the coach peek out to see if it was time, and then the team came running out onto the floor for their warm-up. Right behind them was Whistle - with a water bottle in his hand and a huge smile on his face, running right behind them. He got to mid-gym and stopped, looked around, and saw the assistant coach coming to get him. Oops - he was supposed to be *walking around* the gym floor with the coaches, instead of *running onto* the gym floor with the players! As to the locker room happenings, the coach later commented that "He's quite a little dancer!" and when we got home, Whistle told me that when Adam turned on the country music while they did their stretches, he danced. Some guys would stretch along with them, but not Whistle - he danced to the music!
The game itself was great - except for the final score -- they lost by 3. Whistle followed all the action, cheered, and only at first stood up for the team huddle, just in case they needed him! It was a night he will remember for a long time!
And today -- we went to Hugger's basketball game this morning, and Whistle has been napping for over 3 hours to recover from all the excitement.
Monday, January 5, 2009
I was showing the kids the pictures from Caitlin's birthday party on this post. Whistle couldn't figure out why he wasn't in the picture, and pointed out that he "was bein' GOOD!" I explained that he couldn't have his picture on the blog because he wasn't adopted yet, and Granddaughter E. said, "I'm ADOPTED???" Everyone in the room laughed, which broke her heart, and she ran away crying. (She's the sensitive one among us, and easily gets her feelings hurt. A common concern from her is "He's making a mad face at me.") After a few minutes, she understood that she wasn't adopted, but I don't think she ever figured out why her comment was so funny to us.
A late Christmas gift arrived for Whistle via UPS today. A couple of days before Christmas he decided he wanted boxing gloves. He hadn't really said he wanted anything up to that point -- he was more interested in the festivities of Christmas than what he'd receive. However, the day he thought of the boxing gloves, he received a call from an aunt (birth family), and she asked him what he was asking Santa Claus for. Of course, he told her boxing gloves. She asked me if anyone was getting them for him, and when I told her I didn't know of anyone, she said she'd like to get them for him. Today, a pair of Incredible Hulk Hands arrived, and after initial hesitation because they didn't look like boxing gloves to him -- he had fun hitting my fists to try them out. They have batteries, growl, make deep-voiced comments, etc., and he liked them. He did say he wanted the kind he could punch the wall with, but when we gave him permission to try that - his huge grin, left-right-left punches, and fancy footwork were perfect! Now -- we'll see how much C. and E. appreciate them tomorrow morning!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
One of the things Father and I are involved in is the county-wide foster parent support group. I carry the title of President, and he does the heavy lifting, if you know what I mean: sometimes it's figuratively, and sometimes literally. Today, we (in a very loose sense of the word WE) did some rearranging in the storage facility where we keep our "stuff" for future use. Just after Christmas, we were blessed with a large car-load of new toys that another agency couldn't use, and also with a load of other new toys and clothing from various sources. Our storage was in serious need of rearranging, because what good is it if you can't find what you need when you need it?
Father had salvaged some racks from his work a while back, and we had some boxes of donated clothing stored on them. He decided to use some formica covered boards (also salvaged from work), and placed them between the two racks to increase the storage, and keep things from being piled on the floor. Now we have a huge U shaped shelf, with one side of the U longer than the other.
It's hard to see in the picture above - but the top shelf is actually a 4'x 8' sheet of plywood supported by 2 x 4s, and the lower shelves are 26" deep.
We celebrated a day early with some friends.
(Sorry Whistle, you know the rules about photos.)