Tag Archives: child

Happy 3rd Birthday, Little Man!

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So, this is a few months late in coming.  But I wanted to share.  I am totally ripping off an idea from Megan at http://www.millionsofmiles.com.  It’s a great blog that you should totally read.

Anyway, the idea I’m ripping off is a birthday letter which I plan to do every year for Little Man.  It also has a list of his favorites.  Hopefully next year he’ll be talking enough that I can actually ask him the questions, but for this year you’re just getting the mommy perspective.

 

My dear sweet boy,

Although I’ve only known you a few months, you’ve already stolen my heart. I remember the first day you came to me. I found out you were coming just a few days before, and had a chance to meet you twice. When you were dropped off at my home, you ran around the house playing with the few toys and books I had and then trying to stuff them in your tiny backpack. I’m sure you thought you were going to leave soon, and you wanted to take everything with you.   And that was when I fell in love with you.

You are a big three years old now, and you are so fiercely independent. Maybe because you’ve had to be in your short life, but my, are you so willing and insistent on doing things yourself. And you’re very good at it too. You want to cook the food, pour the milk, turn on the bath, open the packages, and turn on the car. You’re even trying to change your own diaper.

You are so smart! Sometimes, I swear, you’re too smart for your own good. In the short months you’ve lived with me, you have come to learn where we live and how to navigate there from any direction. You remember when bridges are coming up, and when we’re going to go underneath roadways. You have such an engineer’s mind—always taking things apart to see how they work, and then putting them back together. You can figure out every child latch invented (or break it open with brute force). And man, are you strong. You love to push around heavy things and haul gallons of water to the porch to water the flowers. Although, sometimes your strength gets you in big trouble when you get mad.

Ooo, and how you get mad sometimes. You go at it with everything in you, and you can have such a hard time calming down. I think you might hold the world record for the longest temper tantrums. But you are learning and growing every day. And you get mad props from me, baby. You have to fight every day to overcome so much. You fight to push past special needs and developmental delays. And you fight to overcome the chaos and confusion of growing up in the foster care system. And you fight to communicate and learn language. I am so proud of you for fighting to overcome these things. I know you can do it. I’m here for you, and I’m cheering you on!

When you first came to me you only spoke a few words, but you have come so far baby! You are talking up a storm! And though we’re still working on being able to understand all your words, you have come so far in just a few short months. Every day you’re learning new words and sentences. And everyone is in love with your voice. Seriously. You’ve got this raspy, jazz singer voice. It’s a voice that sounds a little out of place coming from your adorable little three year old body. But it’s entirely endearing. I’m so proud of you and all your hard work, buddy!

You can be so thoughtful—you get concerned when other kids are sad or crying. You’re always saying “Oh no!!” and running to me to help them out. Or running to them and trying to give them a hug—even if they don’t want one. And oh, how you love to hug! Everyone—even strangers you just met, is likely to get a Little Man hug!   Everyone loves how affectionate you are. And you’re always trying to help out—whether it’s welcoming a new kid, trying to serve me food at dinner time and make sure my plate is never empty, or cleaning the house (and I seriously love that you love cleaning so much, please always stay this way!!!)

I love you and I am praying for you every day.   And I’m not alone. There is an army of people who are madly in love with you and praying for you. People who are always demanding to know where you’re at and when they’ll get to play with you again. You make people fall in love with you so easily! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you! I believe in you, and I know we’re in for a great adventure together. I’m so glad God brought us together—I’m so lucky to be your mommy, and you’re teaching me so much. Your third year is going to be so amazing! I can’t wait for the journey!

Love,
Mommy

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Favorite Toy: Elmo doll

Favorite Drink: MILK!!

Favorite Food: Waffles. Oh. My. Word. You would eat waffles for every meal if I would let you. And you are always wanting food—even if you’re not really hungry. You wake up (about six times a night) and the first thing you always say is “Eat. Eat now.” Sometimes you will wake up from a deep sleep, start drinking milk or going to the kitchen to scavenger for food which you will eat, and then fall back asleep.

Favorite Activity: Driving mommy’s car and playing at the park

Favorite Song: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Whenever it comes on in the car you gasp, scream “My song!” and then start dancing. Most adorable thing ever!

Favorite Cartoon: Little Einsteins, or as you call it “Rocketship!”

Favorite Books: I’ll Love You Forever, Pat the Bunny, Go Dog, Go

Favorite Lullabies: The song from I’ll Love You Forever, “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins

Favorite Sport: Swimming, although I’m sure you’d be in love with tackle football if you could play it.

Favorite Ice Cream: Chocolate

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Sleepy Adventures

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Another thing you may have read on Facebook:

In the past two days I have watched Little Man wake from a deep sleep and

A) pick up his milk, drink it, and set it back down;

B) join in right on cue with the applause at a concert; and

C) walk to the kitchen, open a bag of muffins, grab two and head back to bead where he proceeded to eat them.

All of this was followed by him falling immediately back to sleep. I’m wondering if this could tell me something about why he wakes up so often every night. Any ideas? Does this sound like sleep walking type stuff?

Proudest Mommy Moment Yet

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If you are my Facebook friend, you’ve already read this, but . . .

Proudest mommy moment yet: whenever we see someone hurt or upset, or someone tells us they are sick or in pain, I have Little Man stop and pray with me for them. We always hold hands and end with “amen.” Tonight he was being stubborn about brushing his teeth and I told him to please brush his teeth because mommy’s back hurt. He held out one hand to mine and tried to touch my back with the other, before saying “amen.” I didn’t understand him at first and then he kept asking me to take his hand and saying “amen, mommy’s back.” Needless to say we stopped and prayed right then.

Getting teary eyed just typing it. When you think it’s not working, when you think they’re not paying attention, just wait! As one of my favorite musical theatre songs says, “Careful the things you say, children will listen. Children may not obey, but children will see, and learn, and know.”

 

Celebrating the Little Things

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I’m beginning to feel human again.  Monday I had an hour to myself to do laundry and watch an episode of Scandal.  It’s amazing what an hour of Scandal can do for you.  OK, so maybe it’s not Scandal, per se, maybe it’s just the mind-numbing joy of vegging out and not having to worry about chasing a toddler out of the fridge where he’s taken to sitting on the ledge and attempting to eat sticks of butter while you try to manage a 2 minute shower.  So, today I’m celebrating that yesterday I got to watch some TV.  It seems small and petty perhaps.  But this momma needed it.  I’m also celebrating lots of other little things.

Like the fact that Little Man is now able to focus about 50% of his meal times on his food.  (This is up from about 15%.  This kid can turn eating a hot dog and banana into an hour and a half long affair.  I am not exagurating!)  I don’t have a high chair or booster seat with straps yet, so there’s nothing holding him into the chair, so he is quite free to hop down, find toys, wander about the apartment, bring books to the table, bring toys to the table, etc.  So meal time includes a lot of redirection.  But the whole concept of meal time is a pretty new one to my Little Man.  Consider that prior to being put in care, a plate of food was sat on the floor for him and left out all day and that was how he ate.  The whole idea of being at a table and eating at specific meal times is completely novel.  So, a 50% focus rate is a victory in my book.

I’m also celebrating that even though he’d only been in my care 4 1/2 days, when I took him to his school where he has speech therapy, his therapist said she can already see a huge improvement in his verbalization since he’s been with me.  And that all of his speech delays are based in emotional issues, not a physical problem.  That means, that despite having his world rocked again, Little Man is feeling safe and loved with me–at least enough to open up and begin speaking more than he has in over a year.  Forget little celebrations, that one feels pretty stinkin’ amazing to me!

I’m celebrating the little personal victories–like figuring out how to carry three bags of trash, a laptop bag, a diaper bag, a school bag, and a purse in one hand, while holding a toddlers hand as we walk across the parking lot.  And successfully carrying three loads of laundry upstairs while keeping Little Man by my side.  And the super-human feat of retraining my body to wake up a good two hours earlier than I am used to, without wanting to kill anyone, in a matter of five days.

I’m celebrating our first play date, where Little Man had lots of fun and made new friends.  He even found this adorable little girl who was about 7 years old, grabbed her hand, and led her all over the play area for a good 30 minutes.  And I learned why it is mommy’s love play dates so much.  (It has nothing to do with the kids!)

And I’m celebrating amazing friends who have given so much love and support to both Little Man and me.  People who have called, texted, invited me to play dates, and thrown showers.  People who have bought toys that are making him smile and laugh, books that he loves to read, things to keep him safe and organized and clean and dry!  I couldn’t do this without you guys!

So thanks for celebrating with me.  I figured I should let you in on a taste of the all the good, so here’s a pic of our first playdate!  He’s sitting with “Elmo.”  (Apparently every Sesame Street character is Elmo.)

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And here he is trying to decide which book to read next.  He ultimately chooses my small group study book–he absolutely loves that thing!  He doesn’t mind at all that it’s 300 pages long and has no pictures.

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Join me in the confessional . . .

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It’s been a tough day as a new foster mommy.  Can I just admit that.  Today was my first day taking Little Man to church with me on a Sunday.  For those of you who may have missed it, I’m a children’s pastor and I spend a lot of time at church on the weekends.  We have one service on Saturday nights as well as three on Sunday mornings.  I took Little Man last night and he did awesome.  Today I knew would be tough.  Three services means I’m there from about 8am till 3pm.  That’s a long day for a little guy.  Especially when the other kids get picked up by their parents and get to go home, but he’s still stuck there.  And then there’s the fact that he can still see me, because it’s part of my job to check on his (and every other kids’) class.  By the end of the day he’s hungry (even though I packed him a light lunch and he had lots of snacks) and tired (cause he missed his nap).  To add to that already highly combustable equation,  he is surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people he doesn’t know, but who know something about him.  Now, I’ve never been a foster kid, but I’m pretty sure that would freak me out.  I mean, strangers show up and you could suddenly be moving to a new home with a new mom the next day.  It’s happened to him three times already in the past two months.  So, crowded lobbies and hallways with people who want to gush over you, hold you, and talk to you is probably more than a little scary.

I’m trying to find a babysitter for him on Sundays, so he won’t have to spend the day there, but for today he was with me.  He handled the services extremely well, but I knew the tough part was still to come.  It was time to leave church and he started disobeying everything I said.  (A pattern that would continue most of the afternoon and evening.)  When he gets upset he throws himself on the floor and curls up in the fetal position.  We needed to head out, so I was trying to balance a heavy two year old with a purse, diaper bag, laptop case, and coffee mug.  We’d barely gotten in the car when he crashed and was sound asleep.  But in just a few minutes I had to wake him up to go inside the house and eat a “real” lunch.  And as much as he hates nap time, he equally hated being woken up when he was so tired.  And yet, once inside he was awake again and there was no way he was going to finish that nap.

We spent the afternoon and evening doing a lot of playtime, but it was interspersed with lots of frustration.  I could tell he had just as much as he could handle for the day, and now that he was in a somewhat familiar environment he was ready to push boundaries (including disobeying, hitting, hair pulling, running away, and screaming).  A lot of normal two year old stuff, just amped up a lot because of all the chaos in his life right now.

And in the midst of all the crazy being spat at, having my hair pulled, and being slapped in the face, I thought “What did I get myself into?!  Why did I ever think this was a good idea?!”  And of course, then I feel incredibly guilty.  I knew adjusting my schedule would be the hardest part of this process.  Going from having total freedom in my non-work hours to having none is a pretty radical change.  Not to mention that fact that the Little Man wants to get up before the sun!

I have way too much time alone with my thoughts these days.  You might think that’s an odd statement, considering that I’ve lived alone most of my adult life.  But I’m always occupying my mind with something else — books, tv, movies , magazines.  It’s rare that I’m sitting in silence.  Which is mostly what’s happening when my dinner partner/playtime buddy is mostly non-verbal.  It’s a very one-sided conversation, which leads to lots of time thinking these crazy thoughts and then feeling guilty about them.  I’m beginning to understand all of those mom’s who are always talking about hiding out in the bathroom to get a break.  Right now I’m holding out for the hour and a half alone time that’s coming tomorrow while he’s at school.

Anyway . . . thats my ugly truth today.  Anyone else ever been there?

The Road to Adoption

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A few of you picked up the term “pre-adoptive” in my last post.  I kinda tucked in there all stealth like and rolled right on by, as I dealt with first-day sleep problems and enrolling for daycare.  But now let me unpack that for you.

A pre-adoptive foster home is one where the parents are both willing and licensed to adopt the foster kids in their home if they become eligible for adoption.  For any of you who have dealt with the foster care system you know that this takes years.  And in most states (including New York) the first and unending plan is reunification with the bio family now matter how much work that takes.  Usually they don’t even begin to talk about adoption until a child has been in care for for 15-24 months.  Then even after they start talking about adoption as a possible plan, it may still take countless years for the child to actually be freed for adoption.  (Case in point:  check out Blitzen’s story over at FosterWee.wordpress.com.  If I have my dates right, she’s been with a foster family who is willing to adopt her, waiting to be legally freed for adoption for 6 years now.)

But my Little Man is only 2 years old and has only been in care for two months.  So why were they looking for a pre-adoptive home?  Well, apparently mom has “many” other children–half siblings to Little Man, and they are ALL already legally freed for adoption.  And she seems to have no interest in changing her patterns now.  In fact, there isn’t even visitation set up because she refuses to communicate with the caseworker.  So, based on previous patterns of her behavior, when they went to remove him from the last foster home, they were expecting his next foster placement (aka me), to quite likely be his forever home.

Woah.

Let that just sit with you for a moment.  I mean, I’m still trying to let it sink in with me.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love this little guy, and it would be so good for him to not have to move from home-to-home-to-home throughout his life.  It would be so good for him to achieve permanency without a lot of the trauma that usually accompanies growing up in care.  It would be so good for him to have the consistency of care that would help him grow and move beyond his early delays.  It’s just SO unexpected.  It is SO not how foster care normally works.  And it’s SO not what I thought I was signing up for.

And what’s ironic is that in my foster class every other parent was looking at fostering as a path to adoption.  They wanted to expand their family (or in some cases adopt a family member).  And almost all of them would really prefer a baby or adorable toddler.  Just like my little man.  I was the sole person in class who said although I was open for adoption, it wasn’t my end goal.  I was the one crazy person who said, “give me your kids and I’ll love on them, and then give them back when you ask me to, and let my heart be broken into a million pieces.”  And that is how foster care often works.  You have kids, you fall in love, you have to give them back to their parents or family members.  And you try to trust that going back and reuniting with their family will be the best thing for them.  So how is it the one person in class who said “you can use me as a revolving door and I’ll just absorb the pain for that” ended up getting the crazy exceptional case of an adorable toddler who is being pronounced pre-adoptive after only 2 months in care?

Lord only knows.  But the bottom line is that I am a pre-adoptive foster home.  Because I know one thing for certain.  I fall in love with every kid I work with, and I would do anything in my power to make their lives better.  And Little Man is no exception.  And I have been given this humbling power to make his life better.  And so I will do everything I can to make his life the best possible.  To fill him up with as much love and laughter and grace and peace and kindness and wisdom and joy as possible.  And that is true whether I become his forever home or just another stop on his journey.

Let the chaos begin!

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My foster journey has officially jumped on the roller coaster and is off for a wild spin.  I got a call on Friday for my first placement.  A 2.5 year old little boy was being moved out of a foster home and they were looking for a pre-adoptive home that would take him.  He has some developmental delays (although from what I’ve seen so far it seems to be mostly centered around speech delays).  I got to meet him on Monday at the foster mom’s house.  At the time he was supposed to be moved Friday.  After I left she called and asked for it to happen faster.  I met him again yesterday when I went to a doctors visit with him and foster mom.  Then this morning he was placed with me

To protect his privacy, we’ll be calling him Little Man.  In case you’re wondering, he is absolutely adorable.  He loves books.  He wants to sit with a book in his hands (which he reads like a teacher doing story time, showing you the pictures) and you also have to have a book in your hands (which he wants you to read aloud).  He also loves putting this away and keeping things tidy.  (Perfect for the OCD in me, right?!)  He can run like crazy (in fact, when trying out nicknames for the blog I considered names revolving around Speedy Gonzalez, Lightening McQueen, and the Road Runner).   When he’s tired he loves to cuddle.  However he has absolutely no interest in the crib.  He very quickly discovered how to climb out of that thing.  Nap time was an hour and a half of crying and interrupted by 10 minutes of sleep.  He stayed up late to meet my small group, and hopefully tire him out for bedtime.  It was still a tough sell getting him to go to sleep, but considering it’s his first night in a strange place with a strange person and being too young to understand what the heck is going on, he did awesome.  Fortunately I have a crib and a twin bed.  For bedtime I put him in the twin bed and he did much better.  He seemed less afraid without the “prison bars” of the crib.  Plus, he’ll be more safe without the danger of falling while climbing out.

Considering I didn’t sleep well last night stressing out about how today would go and worrying that he would be scared, I am exhausted.  Let the mommy-hood begin!  Now I’m off to finish up the enrollment paperwork for daycare, where he’ll be going tomorrow.  So many changes for Little Man!  I’m praying God will help him feel safe and loved despite all the chaos around him.

And here’s a pic to tempt you with his cuteness.  (For those of you who have been asking, I can’t post any picture of him that shows his face.  But I’ll try to make up with it by giving you lots of adorable no-face photos!)  The first is of him trying to reach the snow.  The second is him falling asleep while being read to at small group.  (Did I mention I have the best small group in the world?)

 

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