Foster Parenting

Friday, March 30, 2018

Words of Wisdom #SOL18 30/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




"I don't have any words of wisdom.  I come to understand."  

Those were the words she said to me as we sat down to process this week's events.  She came to me in her role as the literacy instructional leader, but more importantly, she came as my friend.  Her words made me stop and I laughed, saying that they were profound words...words worthy of splashing across a sign to hang where everyone could see.  However, I wasn't joking.  I meant it.

"I don't have any words of wisdom.  I come to understand."

What would happen if instead of coming to the table with all the answers, we came to listen and understand?  I know it's something that I work on every day as a wife, a parent, a friend, a teacher and literacy coach.  It's not easy for me.  My natural tendency is to come up with a solution immediately (or even come to a conclusion before I understand the whole problem...not really a very good trait).  I have a million not so pretty stories of this character trait not working out so well for me.  

What would happen if we all gave each other the benefit of understanding and assuming best intentions?  So many hurt feelings would be avoided.  

Each morning, I begin my day with meditation, writing my gratitudes in my journal and setting an intention for the day.  I learned about creating a "to be" list from another teacher leader and friend.  I ask myself, "What or how do I want to be today?"  If there is something going on with the girls, my intention is often to focus on being patient.  Sometimes my intention is to be present in the moment and enjoy what comes my way.  

Today my intention is to listen to the message my friend gave to me.  

I want to understand for the sole purpose of gaining insight to what others are thinking and feeling.  

I don't need to have any profound answers or solutions.  

I will come to understand.  



 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Family Squeeze #SOL18 27/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.



This afternoon didn't end so well.  

Tonight was better.
Keith wrapped me in a hug.
Then Autumn burrowed in close to me and threw her arms around me.
Finally, Destiny jumped on the three of us shouting,
"Family Squeeze Time!"
We all wrapped our arms around her and squeezed as tight as we could.

Family squeeze time was just what I needed.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

Classroom Stitches #SOL18 #26/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




Today, I use Eileen Spinelli's Poem of the Month, "Winter Stitches" as a mentor.  I had just happened to pop into a third grade classroom when they were getting ready to write their Slice of Life stories.  I quickly went to get my computer and settled in next to them.  Oh, how I miss writing with young writers. 





Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Farewell to Spring Break SOL#18 25/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




Dear Spring Break,

I want to take a moment to say thank you.  Thank you for time to take a break from the ordinary and slip into a different world for a just a bit.  There's nothing like traveling to warmer weather and seeing flowers blooming and leaves on the trees.  It gives me hope for what's soon to come back here at home.  

Thank you for the opportunity to see the world through the girls' eyes.  Autumn loved the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter, especially at night.  Destiny loved the ghost tour and was disappointed that we couldn't check into the haunted hotel.  I hope that these memories stay with them forever.  

Thank you for the ability to slow down just a bit.  Time to read, time to play, time to explore.  It was time we all needed.  And now we are ready to get back to our normal routine.  Sometimes we need these breaks to appreciate the ordinary moments of our lives.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Improvising at its Best SOL#18 24/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




Long hours in the car can make children and adults antsy.  Those stretch breaks become very important.  Shaking out the wiggles, getting some fresh air, running up and down the hills can make the next several hours in the car more bearable.  So what do you do when you really want to play baseball at the rest stop and you didn't bring a ball and bat?  Watch below.  Keith and Destiny can always figure something out!


Yep, that's a giant pinecone and a stick.  After 10 minutes of Pinecone Stickball, Destiny was ready to continue on our journey north.  

Friday, March 23, 2018

What I Know Now...Anniversary Musings SOL #23/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




Today Keith and I celebrated our 33rd anniversary.  I remember when I was younger (before I got married) thinking that people who had been married for that long must have really boring lives.  Hah!  Was I ever wrong!  Our life is anything but boring.  


Here we are on our first anniversary.  We had gone camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I look back and think about how young we were.  I thought I knew everything I needed to know about life and about being married as do most early 20 somethings.  Again...how wrong I was! 

Thirty-three years later, I am much wiser.  I know that at this point in my life, I still don't know everything.  I've learned that my way isn't the only way to do something (that's been a hard one for me).  I've learned it's more important to listen to what's not being said.  And I'm learning to focus on the present and appreciate what I have right now.  

Here's today's anniversary picture.


And one with the best photo bomber in the world...


Our life is certainly eventful and I am so glad he's by my side every single step of the way.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

NOLA Slice of Life #22/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.





Bakery Tour

French Quarters

Mardi Gras World

Ghost Tour

It was a day filled with lots of good food and fun.  But I won't lie...we are all exhausted!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

We Found Spring! SOL #21/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




We were up at 6:00 am and on the road by 7:00.  As you can see, we found spring pretty quickly.  It was chilly outside (33 degrees), but the sun was shining and pink buds peeked through the new green leaves.  The further south we drove, the greener it got.  


The drive was beautiful!



The temperature climbed from the low thirties to the forties, then fifties and finally the sixties once we got to Mississippi.  I decided to make the best use of 7 hours in the car by listening to a new audio book (The Hate U Give) and seeing if I could still remember how to crochet.  We even made a side trip to the local JoAnn Fabrics because Autumn decided she'd like to learn how.  


We arrived in NOLA around 4:00 pm.  Quick nap for Keith and Autumn while Destiny and I explored the neighborhood of our rented townhome.  Then we pulled up Yelp (our favorite way to find a good restaurant when we travel) to find a place to eat.  We decided on Ray's on the Ave. and I'm so glad we did.  I had my first Shrimp Po'Boy and it was delicious!  


Tomorrow we go exploring.  If you've got suggestions for things to do with a 9 and 13 year-old in New Orleans, leave a comment below.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Looking for Spring SOL #20/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




Keith and I have been married 33 years (our anniversary is Friday) and we have never once left on time for vacation.  Today was a first.  I have to give credit to Autumn having a 10:00 appointment on the north side of Columbus, so we HAD to leave by 9:30 to get her to her appointment.  We gathered snacks, packed the car, and did  a quick sweep of the house to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything.  We were on the road at 9:34, made it to Autumn's appointment with time to spare.  An hour later, we were on our way to Nashville, our stopping point for today.


We thought we were so smart...leaving a day earlier than planned to beat the winter storm that was approaching central Ohio.  We settled in, eagerly anticipating warmer temperatures and sunnier skies.  Today is the first day of spring and we were ready to get to springier weather.


Unfortunately, spring was nowhere to be found.  Two hours south...rain and falling temperatures.


Four hours south...rain and snow mixed.  It was officially colder in Kentucky than it was in Columbus, Ohio.    


Six hours later...we had real snowflakes.  This driving was getting old.  We were about 45 minutes from our destination when our nice Google Map lady told us that there was a traffic delay and rerouted us around the city, adding another 50 minutes to our trip.  At this point, Destiny pulled out her book, Are We There Yet and began to read to us.  



I am happy to say that we made it to our hotel safely.  The girls are tucked in bed, and we are soon to follow.  Tomorrow's another early day to be up and ready to travel.  Hopefully, our search for spring will bring better results.  


Monday, March 19, 2018

Kitchen Musings #19/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




There are a few things that I can't say no to when the kids ask for something.  One is new books.  The other is baking cookies.  If I bake something for you, it means I like you...a lot.  Baking is therapeutic for me too.  When I asked the girls if they wanted anything to take on our trip to New Orleans, Destiny asked for Rice Krispie Treats and Autumn asked for Snickerdoodles.  I happily agreed.

As I baked in our 1960s era kitchen tonight, I couldn't help but wonder if Mrs. Riebel (the original owner of our house) enjoyed spending time in the kitchen like I do.  Did she bake cookies for her children?  Did she find baking to be relaxing?  Did she thumb through cookbooks looking for new recipes to try?  When I'm working in the kitchen, I get a good feeling, like this kitchen has seen a lot of love.  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Girls' Day in Cleveland SOL #18/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




Each morning, I set an intention for the day.  Today's intention was to savor every single second.  Destiny and I headed up to Cleveland to spend the day with Annie...a girls' day.  We tried a new restaurant, went to the lake, found a playground and ended with ice cream at the famous Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream.  It was the perfect day!  


Saturday, March 17, 2018

An Unexpected Hug SOL #17/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.



Today's post is inspired by Kevin Hodgson's 6 Word  Slice of Life posts.  

Autumn and I went shopping today to get her some spring clothes.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go because she's not much of a shopper and I remember what it was like shopping with Molly and Annie when they were 13.  I cringed inside as I vetoed a couple of pairs of shorts and jeans.  Was she going to resent my boundaries?  Did she begrudge that her foster mom is a middle-aged conservative  woman when it comes to clothes?  She took my suggestions well and discovered that with her blond hair and fair coloring, pastels look best on her.  She found several outfits and two pairs of shoes and we left the store happy with our purchases.  

As I slid into my seat and began to buckle my seat belt, I was taken by surprise when she laid her head on my shoulder and gave me a quick hug.  I kissed the top of her head and my heart soared.  You see, Autumn doesn't give a lot of hugs and this spontaneous hug of hers meant the world to me. 




Friday, March 16, 2018

Basically a Dad SOL #16/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.






"You've got to watch this," Keith said to me last night when I got home.




My heart melted as I listened to her words and watched her face as she said them.  You see, Destiny doesn't really share her feelings.  For the longest time, we just worked on helping her identify her feelings.  She's a tough nut to crack.  For her to say, "I want to show you someone special," is huge.  Saying he's "basically my dad" is even more huge.

Basically my dad...

Keith has shown her what a dad is.  He taught her how to ride a bike the first time she lived with us.  He is the one who reads to her every night before she goes to bed.  It's their thing.  He can throw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and tickle her while she laughs and wiggles around.  She learned how to make popcorn from him and now she's our popcorn maker on Family Movie Night.  She ends her day by picking a number and that's how many seconds he hugs her.  They count it out together and then it's lights out.  

Keith has been able to give her something she's never had: a strong male role model who sticks by even when things are tough.  She knows he's not going anywhere and that he will be here for her wherever and whenever she needs him.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hi/Low Game SOL #15/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.





Every night at dinner, we play the high/low game.  We take turns telling about the best part of our day and the worst part.  Each person's turn ends up becoming a whole new conversation.  I had had a pretty good day today and was thinking that I might not have a low...that is until about 5 minutes before dinner was ready.  I picked up the plastic container that had chili in it to put it back into the microwave for a quick reheat.

I was not prepared for what happened next....



Yep, the whole container spilled all over our 1960s gold speckled counter.  Ugh!!  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Dad SOL #14/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




"Keith, help me! I don't get this."  

And he's right there, patiently explaining percentages and discounts.  

She is lucky to have him.  They have a special bond, the two of them.  Where I get frustrated, he stays calm and that's what she needs.  He tells corny Dad jokes and she pretends they're not funny.  He will drop everything to help her out.  He shows her what a dad is supposed to be.  

I watch them and my heart smiles. 




Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Challenge in the Challenge #13/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.





When I talk to students about the Slice of Life Challenge, we talk about what makes something a challenge.  Tonight I am feeling the challenges.  I keep my eyes open for stories every day and today, nothing stands out.  What do I write about?  

A nine year-old who is the best procrastinator in the world and is still not out of the tub even though I started telling her it was time to get out 20 minutes ago?

A thirteen year-old who needs cajoling into getting her homework done and heads downstairs to the basement to be alone?  

Crazy funny stories from school that  no one would believe could ever happen (unless you're a teacher, then you know those things really do happen)?

Destiny asking me if the Chinese restaurant sells fish because she notices that there are fewer fish in the fish tank?  

Sometimes it's hard to think of what to write.  We ask our kids to do this every day.  Participating in the Slice of Life Challenge  reminds me again of the importance of writing every day.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Not-So Typical Monday Afternoon SOL #12/31

 am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.




So what do you do when you have an appointment in the middle of the afternoon?  

1.  Have your foster mom sign you out of school at noon so you can go to lunch together.



2.  Stop at the library and check out some books.  You can never have enough books.



3.  Go out for ice cream.


4.  Head to your appointment with a full belly and smile on your face.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

God at the Grocery Store SOL #11/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.





As I turned the corner of the freezer aisle, I almost (literally) bumped into my old neighbor.  We hugged each other and got caught up on our lives.  

"So, how are things going for you?" she asked me.

I felt myself begin to well up, because I knew she would get it.  She and her husband have 2 adopted children through the foster care system.  They understand the ups and downs that come with caring for children who have suffered trauma.  They were life savers when the girls came to live with us the first time and they continued to support us when they came back the second time.

"I think the system is recommending reunification in May." I told her.  She looked at me with knowing eyes, because she understands that my heart is breaking and I am scared to death.   What if it's too soon and their mom isn't ready?  What if she relapses?  With all my heart I want their mom to beat her addiction and be able to parent her children.  But, I'm scared because I know that if she falls back, her children tumble down too and I can't stand the thought of them enduring any more trauma.

It felt so good to talk to someone who's taken this journey.  As we finished, I said to her, "I think this is a God moment.  I don't come to this grocery store anymore.  The other one is closer to my new house.  For some reason, I felt pulled to come here today. "

She laughed.  "I was just going to say the same thing to you.  We were running late and I almost didn't take the time to stop here this morning.  God brought us together today."

This time we both teared up as we hugged good-bye.  I promised her I would be in touch later this week.  As I turned my cart toward the produce aisle, I felt a sense of peace.  I know that Someone is looking down on us and will give us the strength and wisdom to do whatever we need to do to support the girls on their next steps.