Saturday, April 27, 2013


Having three girls close in age can be hard at times.  Anyone who has had sleepovers with an odd number of girls knows how that can be!  Odd numbers and girls lead to lots of bickering.

So, I had to share the fleeting moment of cooperation............

Feeling Adrift

Friday was my last day of student teaching.  I am going to miss the kids and all of the adults that I worked with.  Even though it was a very stressful time in my life it was also a great time.  The adults were very caring and encouraging.  The kids were fantastic to work with.  Now I have a big paper to finish by Monday and three tests to study for on Thursday then I will be finished. 

Then what?  I have no idea.  We feel very much adrift here. 

John's VA training job will come to an end soon as they close the employment office. I still think that cost saving idea is crazy and believe that they will reverse that plan.  It was obviously decided by someone who is living comfortably and can't imagine living in an area with no mass transportation and no vehicle or internet. It is possible that John will train elsewhere for the VA.  Training is fine but will it ever lead to a regular job?  We have no idea.

Normally we have long term plans.  Right now we don't.  We have no long range plans.  We are living day to day, moment to moment.

Looking at all the behaviors that the kids have been having since I started student teaching I can see that I need to be more here.  I hear people say that quality time is more important than quantity time, however I don't think so.  My kids require a lot of time and sometimes it isn't quality time, it is just simply being there time.  Larissa has had a lot of problems at school simply because I wasn't at home full time.  Having children with mental illnesses requires a lot of a parent.

It is possible for both of us to stay home full time?  It seems so crazy but it seems to be the way we are heading.  It would require more budgeting but it can be done financially.  I have friends who tell me to work on my art.  Perhaps I can supplement our income with that.  First I need to get my house back into order.  Perhaps with time it will become clearer to us where we should be heading.

In the meantime our adoption worker asked me if we wanted our file closed or not after the adoption is complete.  I asked John.  Keeping it open means we would be looking to adopt again.  Closing it means we would be done.  John knows my heart but I am willing to go the way he wanted to go.  He said to keep it open.  So, I guess you know what that means.....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Moving Along

Today the girls were served.

We are counting down the days.

Our Lives

What can I say........weekend update on Thursday!

Kassi went to her first prom.  When we first bought this dress I didn't think she would ever take it off.  Beautiful dress for a beautiful girl  teen.
 I braided her hair. (and the dress was bought used but fit her perfectly)

(The clean house in the background is NOT mine)
Also on Sunday Larissa came up to me at church asking for a pen. Later she came back with her church bulletin marked that she wanted Baptised.  I was a little surprised and asked her what she thought it meant.  She said that she accepted Jesus as her savior.  I said to go and talk with our minister thinking that she wouldn't.  However, she did go track him down.  We met on Tuesday with the minister and he interrogated questioned her about her belief.  It was so strange to have my baby sit there and talk about her beliefs with our minister.  Needless to say, she is getting baptised this Sunday!  If you lived closer I would invite you to come and join us in our celebration.
This is my last week of student teaching.  On Monday I have my last Monday night class.  Then on Thursday I am taking three different tests I need for certification.  I scheduled them for 8am, noon and 5 pm.  They have testing all week but I didn't want to drive to Columbia on three different occasions.  After May 2nd I will officially be finished with my masters!
In foster news I picked K up from visitation on Wednesday.  He has visitation once every week for one hour.  He is supposed to have a GAL visit this Friday.  However, I received a text from his worker letting me know that he may move soon.  They are trying to get him with his siblings and there may be an opening where they are living.  K has asked us to have them moved here but we can't do that.  For one, we are already over our number limit.  But more importantly, one of his siblings is a teen boy. We do not take teen boys because we have 3 little girls and 2 older ones.  Nope, no teen boys in this house until Anthony gets up to that age.
The weather turned a little colder this last weekend.  I wonder what is in store for this weekend.  I can't seem to keep up with it.  I have been working on switching summer and winter clothing out but wonder if I should finish the job!  How is the spring weather in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

State Cut Backs

As we are looking at ways to cut back our budget, apparently the state is doing the same.  We live in a little town with no mass transportation. Columbia is not too far away but still an expense to get there.  There is no mass transportation to get you there if you don't own a car.  This makes the employment office that John has been training at very important to the local population.

Every day people come in there looking desperately looking for work.  Many of them do not have the means to go to Columbia to look for work. 

Well, it is closing.  The state is closing a lot of their employment offices.  They are talking about having satellites in the libraries and such but it seems that no firm plans have been made.  If anyone has looked at the unemployment rates in South Carolina they would realize that we have a problem here.  I can't imagine that closing the employment offices in remote areas is going to help with that situation.

I am shocked and saddened that the powers that be that made this decision didn't think about the people who are served in remote areas.  For many it will now be a hardship to try and visit an employment office.  So many of them don't know how to work on the computer to look for employment.  They do not have Internet services at their disposal.

For us it is just an annoyance.  It was a convenient place for John to do VA training. He gets paid a small stipend during training but not enough to make a big impact either way.  They may find him another place to train at but it will probably be further away which means more of a gas expense for us.

Right now we are evaluating our lives and where we want to go from here.  I started school with the intent of having a fall back in case something happens to John.  He was concerned about me supporting the kids alone.  He does have life insurance but we also have a lot of kids!

My first thought was that I would get a job right out of school.  I have been asked to apply here in our county.  However, I am conflicted.  I have found this semester that I need to be home.  Right now I leave the house about the same time that the kids do and get home 15 minutes after their bus comes.  Sounds great.  But part of the problem is all those things that I typically do while they are in school are now done in the evenings or on the weekend.

Yes, I know that this is how many families are run.  However, we have taken on the responsibility of parenting children from hurt places and I am seeing the negative impact of not having 100% of me here while I am at home. 

Big decision, hard decisions.  We need to decide what is best for our family.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cutting Back

We are trying to make changes around here and one of them is cutting back on our food budget.  It is starting to get crazy around here.  At one point we were nearing the $2000/month food budget.  Now we are past $2500/month!  Two gallons of milk a day and the fruit goes so fast.

How do you manage your food budget?  I seriously need ideas.  I have tried couponing but don't have much luck with that.  No grocery stores here double coupons and often other brands are cheaper then the brand with the coupon.

We are feeding on average 10 people a day.  I did the math....2500/30 days equals $83/day.  That equals about $8.30/person per day.  How far off is that from the norm?

I need to trim the budget and the food budget is our largest expense.  So, send me your ideas and recipes.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Build and Grow at Lowe's

Have you ever seen those signs at Lowe's offering free kids clinics?  I see them all the time since I visit Lowe's quite frequently.  I always think that I should sign the kids up and then I forget.  After all, free is good.
I was so proud of myself for signing the kids up.  We almost didn't make it!  Emma's pants were on backwards (I didn't notice it until later in the day) and Michelle's hair is a mess.  But, we did make and I am glad that we did.
The kids loved it!
They were able to take their aprons home.  I need to iron on their patch from today's project.

It is a planters box so we got some flowers.
Then we played in the dirt.

Now the kids want to know when Lowe's will have another kids project. They really enjoyed it and look forward to the next project.

Cutting Back

I have come to the realization that our road trip is going to have to span 2 summers.  Apparently we have a lot of places we want to visit.  Once I started putting in places that all of us want to go to in each area I realized that unless we took a year to travel we couldn't do it.

I did have one friend suggest that we sell the house, buy RV's, homeschool the kids and go.  I also found out that her ulterior motive was to come along on the trip.  I don't think we are at the point in our life where we can do that.  Actually, I couldn't imagine selling my house and not having a home base.

So, tentative road trip number 1, anyone on our route (or close to) and any suggestions for along the way?

This is for the summer of 2014, Disney is this summer.  Originally the northeast was as well but my husbands VA training position has delayed that.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Call Me Crazy

Next summer I want to take a huge road trip.  We had planned on heading north later this summer but since John started working so we are lucky to have the opportunity to still do our Disney trip.

I want to head north to Canada.  Then drive to the west coast and up north to Alaska.  Then down along the western coast and cut across back home.  Yes, a huge road trip.  I estimate a 6 week trip.

I thought that my husband would say no but he didn't.  Perhaps he is just allowing me to dream.

Anyone take a huge road trip such as this?  I'd like to see some readers along the way.  Who wants us to visit on our road trip?  Any suggestions of places we must see along the way?

Told you I was crazy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Michelle has always been aware that she is not adopted.  She is very aware that she does not have permanency.  She has stated to her social worker that she still fears being moved. 

I am very curious to see how she will react when her adoption is complete.  In just the last few days I have noticed behavior swings in her.  It is as though she is testing one moment and then being very "good" the next.  She tantrums one moment and then very compliant the next.  I can tell that she is processing everything.  She states that she wants adopted and can't wait to get to court.  I believe that she does want adopted.  However, I think that she has such a range of emotions that she is not able to process it all.  She appears to be happy and fearful.  I hope that permanency will help with some of her jealousy and anger issues.  Time will tell.

In the meantime we have been receiving a lot of phone calls.  Apparently adoptions can not find our DHEC inspection from 2005.  This inspection does not have to be renewed.  It is required for the adoption.  Adoptions in the girls county has not been able to get anyone from my county or the main adoptions office to reply to her (imagine that!).  I gave her more phone numbers and folks to try (our adoption worker instead of licensing workers).

We also received a phone call from the foster care association wanting to visit on Monday.  I was puzzled by that one.  They didn't visit on the last two adoptions.  Apparently they only go to the homes of hard to place children.  Interesting. reactions.  She is her usual little self.  Still working on the attachment issues and some negative behaviors but coming along a little every day.  Attachment is such a big issue.  It doesn't resolve itself quickly.  It takes time, sometimes years, sometimes it never happens. 

I feel that both girls are attaching but it is such a process of stepping forward and backwards that sometimes you don't realize how far you have come until you sit back and remember how things were in the past. 

Just the other day my teen was talking with me about the girls.  She says that she thought that we would send them away because of all the tantrums.....for hours.  Eight months of that about drove us all crazy.  I wonder if we would have had a breaking point.  I wonder how folks do with children who never move beyond such behaviors.  What if we had given up at the six month point?  or seven months?  How do you determine to just stick with it and when does it become too much?  I know there were moments when I wondered what I was putting my family through.  We all hit breaking points at different times.  Thankfully we didn't all hit that point at the same time.

I was on the phone with one of the adoption workers came to the original intent to adopt signing 18 months ago.  She said that after so many moves and disruptions she really didn't think that the girls would stay.  However, she has never forgotten our words, "if they come to our home, they will stay.  We will not give up on them".  I am so thankful for perseverance, we stuck it out.  (or perhaps it is hardheadedness)

If you have the time, say a prayer for Michelle.  She needs peace within herself and for her anger to lessen.

Have a great night. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Break Project

Since the budget didn't allow for any excitement this spring break I decided to tackle a project that I had been wanting to do for a long time.......a bench seat for the dining room.

I had these chairs sitting in our garage.

Our dining room table before.  The chairs are all big and only three are really meant to fit on the side.  Getting in and out is a struggle.

In my usual lazy way I wanted to use two chairs as the base.  I simply connected the two chairs together.  I used a Kreg jig to screw it in on the side.

I had a long board attached with vice grips running across both chairs so that they aligned up correctly and then used a book to allow for me to offset the wood that joined the two chairs.

Two joined chairs

Simple wood seat top.  I cut notches into the back board.

Stained seat top.

I wonder how many kids we can sit on that bench.

A less cluttered (and more colorful) look.  My husband asked if I was going to add a cushion and at this time I am opting not to, my kids are slobs so why go there.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Finally.....moving along

Late last week I received a call from our adoption workers supervisor.  Our adoption worker has the shingles and could not come today to sign.  I told her that we had already told Michelle that we would sign today and meet with the lawyer.  She said that since we had adopted before she would be comfortable with emailing the papers to us for signature and having us mail it back.

I am glad that they were willing to do it this way because the first thing Michelle asked me this morning was about her papers.  She wanted adopted now.  She is growing very impatient.

Today I received the email,  I printed the papers and we signed them.  Rather anticlimactic but it got the job done.  We met with the lawyer at 3:30 and now we wait for the process to move along. 

Next step will be the girls getting served their paperwork.  Then they will have a visit from the GAL that our lawyer assigns to them. Then we will see when we can get into court.  Sometimes around here getting a court date is the hard part.

Finally, we are moving along!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Slow Spring Break

We haven't had a very exciting spring break.  I am budgeting for Disney in June so no big plans in April.  Also, John just started his training job and then there is my mom. 
So little things are all we can muster.
The little ones don't seem to mind.  They really like Chick-fil-A so it was an adventure.

Did you know that it is possible to get a rug burn in the play area?  Yep, at least ice is available.

I also took a few kids to the little local movie theater to watch Croods.  Unfortunately the little ones who stole and lied that day did not get to go and I was down to only two little ones. 
They loved the movie.  The teens really liked it too.
No big plans for the weekend either. Guess we are boring these days but that is fine with me as it gives me some time to recharge. 
Anyone out there doing anything exciting? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Going Forward

Facebook message:
Mom I never say dis before but ur the best mom I have ever had and thank u for ur unconditional love

Anyone who knows our story knows that this is a huge message. 

It wasn't long ago that we weren't even talking and I thought for sure that Joselin was lost.  Once a month I messaged her.  After 6 months she responded. 

She finally opened her heart and moved forward.

She is so much happier, much more content.

She is rebuilding relationships with her siblings.

She is looking forward to our Disney trip because on the last one she pouted most of the time.  She regrets all the times that she pushed everyone away.  She wants to have opportunities to do a family vacation without anger.  She will get to do a family vacation with acceptance.

We are stepping forward...............

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Break

We are on spring break here in South Carolina.  Thankfully the weather has improved and I can kick send the children outside. I don't have anything big planned this week, budget and my mom limit us. 

Right now I am concerned about our Disney trip.  The long term health care program that we use for my mom for daily care offers respite Charleston.  We don't live close to Charleston so I am trying to find someone to stay at my home that week who I can trust.  My mom will still have her daily aid come in but she can't be left alone. My mom is on waiting lists for nursing homes but I have no idea of when they will become available.  I am not even sure if I discussed making that decision.  It was a hard decision to make but with her inability to help with standing and pivoting I worry about my ability to keep both of us safe. 

I have also decided not to go on the Guatemala Mission trip this year.  One issue is money and the other is kids.  With my husband working now and Sarah wanting to go I wouldn't have reliable care for the kids.  I would also have to raise the money for two and I really don't like doing that.

I am enjoying this break from school but am also frustrated because some things that I have been working on with the kids are rearing their nasty little heads.  My little candy thief is still at it.  I did not give the kids much candy at all but little miss Emma managed to find a way to steal from the others and then lie about it.  On one foray she had a partner in crime and thankfully the partner did tell the truth.  The lying has more of a consequence than the stealing.

Then I have my little angry and jealous one.  These issues are seriously impeding her relationships with her siblings.  We have talked with her therapist and she doesn't want to continue working with her until she is adopted.  She doesn't think that she will be able to make any more progress until there is finalization.  This little one lurks around listening intently when any social worker enters our home.  She has to be prepared in case she is moved again.  She just doesn't believe that there will be finalization.

Next comes my son.  He has made so much progress in his behaviors.  Bringing a foster child in our home with some difficult behaviors has really send Anthony back.  His behaviors are backsliding and he is even picking up some new ones (which are not so nice).  Our foster child's siblings have been brought back from the other state that they were sent to and are sitting in a children's home here in SC.  DSS has been talking about moving him to be with his siblings after school is out.  I am taking him for visitation today and will request that they move him on June 1st.  We are not big in moving foster kids but we need to protect our children.  Our foster son needs respite care for June 2nd so moving him at that time would make sense.

Because of the negative effect we have seen on our children, we are going to lower the age of foster children that we are willing to accept to 3 years old and under.  We have found in the past that the behaviors of babies and toddlers (no matter how challenging) do not have a negative impact on the behaviors of our children.  In July we will officially have an opening for one child.  We have discussed all of our options and have decided that for our family, younger foster children is a viable option.  This means that I have to say no to older children.  It doesn't really matter what ages you tell them you can accept, they will call and ask you to take children out of your range. I am the biggest wimp so I must remain strong when they call.

At this very moment, all the kids are playing well together.  Enjoying the moment because I know it will be fleeting! 

Have a great day.