The General Turns 5!

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Let me tell you about our most recent birthday boy. When he came to us at 2, he spoke about 5 Spanglish words. He was receiving OT, PT and Speech therapy. He was still drinking from a bottle. His coordination was off to the point where we had him tested for a number of things. He had it rough right from the start of his little life. (I will leave out the saddest details.)

He had been tossed around from bio home to bio home, then in two foster homes. He really never lived with his siblings. He had no idea why he was in our home. No idea what was going on. He had no words to express his confusion. So he used his body and lots of yelling. He has had back to back leg fractures, a number of blood tests done, a couple of minor operations, MANY tests of all sorts done.

He has had back to back leg fractures, a number of blood tests done, a couple of minor operations, MANY tests of all sorts done. ENTs, ER docs, Urologists, orthopedic Drs., eye Dr.s, a number of thereapists, etc. have been a big part of our lives.

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To say he has overcome a lot of obstacles would be an understatement. To say he has come so far seems so insignificant. When I sit in parent/teacher (preschool) meetings and they show me where he is, I never look at it as a negative. To them, they may see the deficiencies, to me to see only his gains.

He will be starting kindergarten this school year as a very young kindergartner, but I am not worried. I know he will do so well.

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I know our son will win people over, as he does everywhere. I know he will be a huge help, take charge and show kindness to those he is around. He knows no stranger and makes friends easy. His heart is big and is now such a loving, compassionate boy.

I have never met a more grateful child or adult for that matter. He is always thanking us for the littlest of things. He compliments freely and is comfortable with affection. He knows no other family but us. He doesn’t see the differences our family has. He is a unifier.

Our son makes us laugh all of the time. Though he is the youngest he steals the show all of the time and demands our attention. He knows what he wants and isn’t shy to tell you. He is super smart and we can tell he isn’t going to fight some of the battles his siblings have had to fight. (Thank you, Jesus!!)

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At his party, he saw this little boy and wanted to give him one of his cakes. Even though the mom pretty much treated him as you see in the photo, he brushed it off and found someone else to give it to.

I tell you this lovable fighter, this protector (he already protects me), this ever friendly guy is going to go far. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for him. We thank God all of the time for letting us parent him.

Cleaning Grout

(While not intentional the photo below turned out to be an optical illusion.)

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This morning I woke up to heavy urine smell in our dining room. I couldn’t really see the pee spot but there was no doubt that something happened in the night. After steam washing twice, the smell still lingered. I ended up getting out my bleach gel. Then one thing led to another.

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I started trailing the bleach gel along the grout. Some spots immediately started to bubble. My daughter got in on the cleaning as well. It was rather addicting. I had to stop her from cleaning more of the house. We left it on for about 10 minutes then steam mopped it. While all of the dirtiness didn’t come out our dining room is so much brighter.  Definitely doing this again.

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Now instead of the scent of dog urine, bleach permeates our noses. I think I need to turn on my candle melts as I am not a bleach loving gal.

Going Gray

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I am in my mid 40’s, have 6 kids and am going gray gracefully. Gracefully is a relative term. Somedays it does not feel graceful at all.

When the grays (my strands of wisdom, I lovingly call them) started showing up it was just a wild hair here and there, standing up making itself known, reminding me that one cannot stop the clock from ticking away. I then started to get low lights in my hair to mask some of the grays. I have never been into covering who I am growing into or pretending to be younger than I am. But I wasn’t ready for the grays. That was my happy compromise.

After awhile I stopped the low lights, just letting nature take its course. Then we brought our youngest kids home. Our youngest daughter was good at letting me know she had a real problem with some of the ways I looked, my graying hair being the biggest of them. Saying some pretty hurtful things along the way. While I know those words she aimed my way were coming from the hurt she carried inside, they still stung. I let her words get to me to the point that I started dyeing my hair. I did it twice to be exact. I really liked how it made me feel and look, but something just didn’t feel right about it all. It just didn’t match with who I am inside and who I want to portray to my kids.

Now I don’t look down on ladies who color their hair, to each her own. But for me I want my kids to see a mom who is comfortable with who she is no matter what age and how she looks. It’s the beauty on the inside that I would rather shine through than rich brown hair, etc. Today our daughter’s words are much kinder and accepting.

Today our daughter’s words are much kinder and accepting. And though I don’t fully like the amount of gray I see staring back at me in the mirror I too am learning to accept and see the beauty in the aging process. I mean, golly, I have earned every silvery strand. Funny that gray has been my favorite color for many years and yet it is hard to see it in my own hair.

Thankfully more ladies are joining the silver fox club and deciding to go gray gracefully. Just take a peek on Pinterest on the subject and see the beautiful ladies there. Inspiration at it’s best.

 

Statistics Smistics

The other day I was reminded yet again just how much is stacked against our younger children.

The latest statistics from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data for FY 2014(link is external).

415,129 children were in foster care on September 30th, 2014, a 4% increase from 2012

264,746 children entered care – that translates to a child entering care every two minutes in the United States

238,230 children exited foster care

107,918 children waiting to be adopted on September 30th, 2014

60,898 children waiting to be adopted whose parental rights (for all living parents) were terminated

50,644 children adopted with public child welfare agency involvement

Who are the 415,129 foster children?

Sex

Age

Race

52% male
48% female

39% 5 years old or under
23% 6 to 10 years old
22% 11 to 15 years old
16% 16 to 20 years old

2% American Indian/Alaskan Native
1% Asian
24% Black or African American
0% (525) Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
22% Hispanic (of any race)
42% White
3% Unknown/Unable to Determine
7% Two or more Races

Where are foster children living?

  • 4% Pre-Adoptive Home
  • 29% Foster Family Home (Relative)
  • 46% Foster Family Home (Non-Relative)
  • 6% Group Home
  • 8% Institution
  • 1% Supervised Independent Living
  • 1% Runaway
  • 5% Trial Home Visit

Why did the 238,230 children leave care in 2014?

  • 51% Reunification with Parent(s) or Primary Caretaker(s)
  • 7% Living with other Relative(s)
  • 21% Adoption
  • 9% Emancipation
  • 9% Guardianship
  • 2% Transfer to Another Agency
  • 0% (1,138) Runaway
  • 0% (326) Death

Gender Preference in the US

*Gender Requested by Adoptive Parents
70-90% Girls, 10-30% Boys

*Gender of Children Awaiting Adoption in U.S. Foster Care
Same ratio reported for 1998, 2000, and 2001
48% Girls, 52% Boys

*Gender of Children Adopted from U.S. Foster Care, 1971-2001
64% Girls, 36% Boys

*Gender of All Adopted Children in the U.S. Under Age 18
According to The year 2000 U.S. Census
53% Girls, 47% Boys

 

When I heard the latest statistic, which isn’t mentioned above, my first reaction was to feel a bit disheartened. I felt like one more heavy brick was being stacked against our kids. But then that fighting spirit in me began to grow. My God is bigger than any statistic! He can overturn any negative stat and turn it into a positive one. Our children have overcome so much already. Yes, the tables may be stacked against them but I stand on the power and grace of God. The giver of life, the Redeemer, the father to the fatherless, husband to the widow, healer of broken hearts, sustainer, grace and forgiveness giver…I really could go on and on. I choose to believe in who my God is and His power, not the statistics that peddle their way into lives attempting to destroy them.

By God’s grace, our kids will rise.

Big Family Mama

Looking at my life, while I have always been more of an introvert, I think I was destined to be a mama to a big family.

Growing up for a time we lived with our grandparents and two aunts. My mom comes from a big family and always having family around was normal for me as a child. Many big potluck meals, sleepovers squished in with cousins, learning to bake with Grandma and fractions with Grandpa help shape the way I see family today.

Having divorced parents who both remarried meant having multiple siblings…full biological, step and half, step mom, step dad all trying to blend into one. Kind of weird when a classmate becomes your step sister or that you are old enough to be the mom of your three half brothers. This shaped the way I view blended families.

Take the time my mom and I were visiting my cousin in the hospital. The little patient he roomed with lay helpless in his crib having broken limbs planted the seed of adoption in my heart. That seed being watered and fertilized unknowingly along the way. Leading me to have a heart that sees adoption as being family.

When I met my husband, Robert, he wanted four kids, which to me was a big family. Huge in fact. I thought he was crazy, but I loved him and said why not. I had not yet put all of these events together. I could not yet see how God was preparing me all along to mother six kids.

It wasn’t until about a year or so after bringing our youngest kids home and our kids were sitting around the table that being a mama to so many kids felt right. The so many became family. They became who I am, who I was called to be all along. Our house is noisy. There is always a door opening or closing in our home. There is currently dog hair and dirt mixed in with the wet pool feet marks on our freshly cleaned floors. One child is happily drawing on the patio table while four others are cooling off in our small rectangular pool after playing backyard baseball. And when our oldest and her husband join us we feel that much more complete. To be called their mother I am grateful.

A Little Secret

Can I tell you a little secret?

Something about a little indulgence of mine?

Well here it is, I have this love for hand soaps. I tell you everytime I go to Burkes or any place that sells fancier soaps than WalMart I have got to check out their hand soap selection. Now I am not a germ freak, though I do love clean hands. It’s just this little not quite obsession that I have with pretty, fresh smelling sink items.

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To me, a nice little soap bottle (while the one on the far right is not pretty it works and smells great!) can dress up a sink for just a few dollars. I generally don’t refill the bottles. This is where the germs get me. Yes, I do wash the bottles themselves too.

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Shhh…when visiting someone’s home I will sometimes sneak a peek and sniff at their hand soaps. I know weird, right? Otherwise, I am a private person and don’t look in medicine cabinets and stuff.

Before Pinterest​

I think we need a new way of dating history.

We have BC=Before Christ and AD=After Death. However, I think it’s time to add BP & AP. You know, Before Pinterest and After Pinterest.

All joking aside, so much of our lives are really based on what we see and pin on Pinterest.

*Our meals and how we photograph them and of course post them to social media. More and more our meals are from Pinterest, the iPad up and open while making dinner.

*Our photo shoots. I tell you, I have a pinboard just for photo shoots for large families.

*Hairstyles, Home organization, Quotes, traveling with kids, furniture, crafts, hunting, plumbing, gardening…

*I even have pin boards on Camping…I really don’t even like to camp! Then there’s a board all about pallets. Will I ever use it? Probably not.

While these and most of my pin boards have been more than helpful, let’s talk about where Pinterest can raise the bar too high.

How did us mommas throw a birthday party for our kids before Pinterest? How did we manage to cook a decent meal for our family? How did we know how to decorate our homes?

I raised our older two kids pretty much BP. Their birthday parties were based on our budget and imagination. Our younger four are AP. I have to be honest with you I feel the pressure to provide a Pinterest-worthy party each time. Maybe it’s just me.

Our home and it’s decor, again for many, many years was based on our budget and creative imagination. While there are a lot of DIY on Pinterest, there is also a bar that has been raised on how our homes need to look. If you can’t afford it or just aren’t a good DIYer then your home well not be Pinterest-worthy.

Again, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so, we need to use Pinterest as a tool and not a standard.