Tag Archives: kids

Happy 5th Birthday Austin!

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Happy 5th Birthday Austin!

Each year I write a birthday letter to my sweet boy.  This year’s letter is a bit late in coming, but it has finally arrived!

To my favorite boy in the whole wide world,

I am so in love with you, and I am so proud of you!  You are such a compassionate, helpful, funny boy and I’m so glad you are my son.  I have watched you take such care of those who are smaller than you—helping out babies and toddlers, being an amazing friend and trying to care for them.  I have watched you show concern and care for others—stoping to pray for people we see who need help, kissing my “boo boos,” and offering hugs to everyone.  I have watched you blossom into a funny and fun loving boy—telling jokes, laughing with others, and including others.  I have watched you stick up for yourself—asking for help when needed and talking out conflicts that arise.  I have watched as you have learned to talk about your feelings and how  to cope with them—even when doing so exasperates you.  (“I don’t have any more deep breaths!” you’ve been known to say on more than one occasion.)  I have watched you learn empathy and compassion for others.  I have watched you face tough transitions this year and handle them like a champ.  I am so thankful that I get to be your mommy!

This year was a year of so many changes and big events in our lives.  Only a few months into your fourth year we celebrated your adoption!  We had been together for over 2 years, but I am so happy that we are “officially” a forever family.  You are truly a gift from God, and I am so thankful he brought us together.  It is not lost on me that the joy of your adoption also comes with a significant loss.  My heart breaks for that loss, for the pain that it brings with it, both now and in the future.  I want you to know that it’s ok to feel that pain and grief, that it doesn’t threaten the bonds of our family.  It’s ok to be sad and angry about that loss, know that those feelings are normal and natural.  Know also that I will always love you.  There is nothing that could ever change that.  Nothing.  I will love you when you are sweet and adorable and hilarious.  I will love you when you are tired and overwhelmed and confused.  I will love you when you are angry and raging and lashing out at the world.  I will love you when you are silly and wild and scaring me to death with your latest dare-devil stunt.  I will love you when you are scared and confused and frustrated.  I will love you when you have soaked me with water or shaving cream or food.  I will love you forever.

Less than a week after your adoption we headed out of New York and moved to Illinois!  A whole  avalanche of changes was headed your way.  You went to a new school and a new daycare.  You moved into a new home with new neighbors.  You discovered the joy of living in a house instead of an apartment and began exploring the backyard and the neighborhood.  You spent time with family you had barely met before and learned about the joys of aunts and uncles and cousins and grandma.  You learned of new parks and lakes and discovered the joys of Dairy Queen ice cream cones.  Throughout all these changes you were a champ.  You showed such resilience and grew so much closer as you began to trust in our relationship in a brand new way.

It has been so incredible to see your personality emerge even more this year as you became more confident, comfortable, and verbal.  I have loved watching you pretend and be creative.  One of my favorite times is when you decided to put on a show for us—you pushed back an imaginary curtain while you said “curtain open, curtain open,” then you picked up your microphone and Bible and pretended to read us a story, then you sang a few songs, pushed the imaginary curtain closed, and said “curtain closed, curtain closed.”  You love playing with blocks and have developed a talent for building car washes and gas stations for your toy cars.  You LOVE stuffed animals and have a collection of probably a hundred different bears, dogs, cats, bunnies, and various other creatures.  You try to take as many of them to daycare with you as possible, much to the chagrin of the daycare staff.  Two of your stuffed animals are as big as you —Big Doggy and Big Teddy.  I joke that Big Doggy is your therapy dog because you always want him when you are upset.  You are an amazing helper and love to clean.  You have made good friends and begun to interact with other kids in new, exciting ways.  You have a great memory and often want to talk through things that happened months ago.  You have been doing so well in swim lessons—after we moved they had your class go to the diving board and jump off.  Most kids were scared and needed someone to pick them up and drop them in.  Not you.  You are fearless.  You just leaped off that diving board and ran back for more!  You love reading books and riding your bike or pulling a wagon.  You love cooking—you can bake cupcakes all by yourself (apart from using the oven) and love to help cook whatever is for dinner. And iPad—you love watching iPad a little too much.  You are the cutest boy ever—you’re so adorable with your sparkling eyes and one dimple.  When you laugh your joy is infectious.  Unless of course you’re laughing because you just soaked me with the garden hose.  Then your joy is not so infectious.  But I still love you.

I am so amazed at how far you have come—you are learning and growing and impressing me with new skills all the time.  I know it’s hard sometimes.  Being a little kid is hard sometimes.  Being a little kid who struggles with the weight of trauma, special needs, and delays is incredibly hard.  I know we grown ups don’t get it all the time.  But you have so many people who love you and are cheering for you!  And you have a mommy who will fight for you like a crazy, scary momma-bear every day.  Because you matter.  You are important and valuable.  You are brave and strong.  You are helpful and caring.  You are loving and smart.  You are funny and sweet.  And I love you.  I pray that God will give you the confidence to know these things about yourself, to be confident in who you are, to be confident in my love for you, and especially in his love and care for you.

Here are a few pictures of our amazing year together.

Each year I interview you for your birthday and celebrate all the special, unique things about you.  Here is your time capsule from 2016!

Mommy: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Austin:  A school bus driver or a school bus.

Mommy:  Do you want to get married when you grow up?

Austin: Yes, I like married.

Mommy:  Do you want to have kids one day?

Austin: (Puts his hand on his face) No!

Mommy:  What is your favorite thing about yourself?

Austin:  I’m a boy.

Mommy: What is your favorite thing to do at school?

Austin: Play.

Mommy: What do you like to play with?

Austin: A train.

Mommy:  What do you like to do for fun?

Austin:  Watch iPad. Play with Play Doh.

Mommy:  What is your favorite thing about mommy?

Austin:  I love you.

Mommy:  I love you too.

Austin:  I like to eat with you.

Mommy:  Who are your best friends?

Austin: Donald Duck

Mommy: What is your favorite holiday?

Austin:  Family night

Mommy: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Austin:  To get that racetrack (a toy he’s been asking for)

Mommy:  Anywhere you want to visit?

Austin: Church, but I’ll be too big for it.

Mommy:  You won’t be too big for church.

Austin: Yeah, because I’ll get too big for my class one day.

Mommy: Oh, ok.  Is there anywhere you’d like to go on vacation?

Austin: To visit Nana.

Mommy: What is your favorite memory of last year?

Austin:  Going to the airport to get Nana.  Moving to our new house.

Mommy: What is one thing you really want to do this year?

Austin: Get that race track.

Mommy:  What is something else you want to do?

Austin: (proceeds with a 15 minute conversation about the race track, the number of cars included with the race track, the elevator on the race track, the potential for someone stealing the race track, the amount of money he has saved up to buy the race track, etc.)

Mommy: What is something you want to do, not a toy you want to have?

Austin: Go to a pool party.

 

What is your favorite . . .

Toy:  Cars, my airplane

Drink: Root beer floats

Food: Cheeseburger and french fries and apple sauce

Activity: Going to the water park

Song: “Tooty Ta” and “Wheels on the Bus”

TV Show: Paw Patrol

Movie: Despicable Me

Book: Paw Patrol books

Sport: Swimming

Ice Cream: Twist

Color: White and Brown

Candy: Peanut M-n-M’s and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

Stuffed Animal: Skye

Game: “The Elsa Game” aka Frozen Slides

Happy 4th Birthday, Little Man!

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Happy 4th Birthday, Little Man!

It’s been a crazy seven months.  Unfortunately that has led to not much blogging lately.  So, I’m a bit behind.  I promise lots more updates to come, but today I want to rewind about a month, and celebrate Little Man’s birthday!  Here is my annual letter, interview, and some adorable photos!  Enjoy!!

Dear Sweet Boy,

I can’t believe you are four!  You are growing by leaps and bounds, in so many ways.  In the past few months you have grown two inches and gone from being able to wear 24 month clothes to wearing a 4T.  You are growing in so many other ways as well!  A year ago you had only been speaking for a few months.  Now you are talking up a storm.  You say the most adorable and funny things.  You make up songs, tell stories, and love to “read” all your books out loud.  It’s so adorable— you insist on always reading it yourself, and you open the book and retell the story for us.  You have learned to count, identify colors, and match.  I recently received your last school report and you had met several goals that you’ve been working on all year.  I am so proud of you!!

You are such a sweet boy.  I love seeing your heart and compassion.  Saying goodbye for you is always a big hug fest.  Every morning when you get on the bus we spend several minutes giving lots of hugs, kisses, and high fives.  When I pick you up from daycare, you always have a hug for your teachers, and all of your classmates won’t let you go until they’ve gotten their “Little Man hug.”  I love seeing how you cared for “Baby Sarah” when she visited.  You gave her your favorite toys when she would cry, hug her, hold her hand when she needed to go somewhere, and genuinely loved on her.  I pray one day I get to see you take care of your own baby sister.  We’ve been working on apologizing when you hurt someone and you’ve taken to initiating your own apologies when you make a mistake.  If you’re mad and intentionally hurt me, you hate to apologize, but when you’ve made a mistake or had an accident—even the smallest of things — you break out into this huge smile, run and hug my legs, and yell “I’m sorry, Mommy.”  It is the most adorable thing ever.

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This year you have tried so many new things.  You started your new school and have absolutely loved it.  You have such an amazing team of teachers, and you are absolutely in love with “Miss Carrie.”  She is so fantastic with you and I wish she could stay with you as your grow and change classes.  You tried soccer, and spent more time laying on the ground than playing, but you enjoyed being outside.  And you showed me you’re more of a football kind of kid— every time the ball (or a player with the ball) came near you, you felt the need to tackle them to the ground.  You took swim classes and have loved being in the water.  You took a dance class and loved it.  The week after it ended, you ran to the empty classroom because you didn’t want it to be over.  You got glasses for the first time, and we’ve gone through what feels like a million pairs, but you’re getting better with them all the time!  We have gone on some fantastic adventures together — apple picking, visiting Sesame Place, blueberry picking, exploring the Strong Museum of Play, meeting your new extended family for the first time, feeding animals at The Wild Animal Park, running around at Billy Beez, and so many other fun experiences.  I have loved watching you experience new things and places—you are always full of so much joy and excitement.

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You love music—when you love a song you always sing it at the top of your lungs, dancing around, and smiling with such joy.  You love to sing “Let it Go,” and whenever “Happy” comes out, you scream “That’s my song!” and start dancing.  It’s the cutest thing ever.  You have discovered imaginative play and I love watching you interact with your trains, Little People, Daniel the Tiger toys, and Elmo figures.  You have about a million stuffed animals which you absolutely love.  Over the past year I have watched as you’ve moved from reenacting violent scenes with them, to caring for them, patting their backs, taking care of them when they’re sick, and putting them in time out when they make bad choices.  Not only is it completely adorable, it is so beautiful watching you transform into a loving caregiver of all your toys.  It speaks so much about how far you’ve come, and how you are beginning to understand the role of family.  This makes me so happy for you, and so proud of your growth.

I am so proud of how far you’ve come this year.  During this year you received seven different diagnoses of special needs.  On top of all that, you were struggling to understand what was going on in your world and your family, and process the trauma you had experienced.  It’s hard to imaging have deal with just one of things—most kids with special needs only have one or two things they’re dealing with.  I’ve never met anyone who is struggling to overcome so much.  But you, my love, you are a warrior.  You are beating the odds, you are fighting to overcome the challenges you are faced with, and I am so proud of you.  So much of the time you are doing so well at fighting this fight that the people around you don’t even realize how my challenges you are facing.  And we forget sometimes how hard this is for you.  But you are amazing, and I pray that you keep up the fight and that you realize what an amazing, sweet, and lovable boy you are!

I am so very blessed that you are in my life and that I get to be your mommy.  You make everything worth it.  Over the past year we have faced some big challenges and tough times.  But you, my love, make everything worthwhile.  I can’t wait to experience the journey of your fourth year!  I can’t wait till next year when we’re celebrating that you are forever a family.  I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be!

Happy 4th Birthday!!

Each year I interview you on your birthday and celebrate all the special, unique things about you.  Last year I had share what my thoughts were, because you couldn’t yet communicate them.  This year we’re celebrating because you have come so far and can speak for yourself!!  ;o)

Mommy:  Do you want to get married when you grow up?

Little Man:  No.

Mommy:  Why not?

Little Man:  ‘Cause I don’t like it.

Mommy:  Like what?

Little Man:  Married.  I like Santa Clause.

Mommy:  Do you want to have kids one day?

LIttle Man:  Yeah!

Mommy:  How many?

LIttle Man:  Five!

Mommy:  What is your favorite thing about yourself?

LIttle Man:  I’m smart.

Mommy: What is your favorite thing to do at school?

Little Man:  Read books.

Mommy:  What do you like to do in your free time?

Little Man:  Play with choo choo trains.

Mommy:  What is your favorite thing about mommy?

Little Man:  That you play with me.

Mommy:  Who are your best friends?

Little Man: You’re my best friend.

Mommy: What is your favorite holiday?

Little Man:  Santa Clause

Mommy: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Little Man:  On a boat.

Mommy:  Where on a boat?

Little Man: All around the world.

Mommy: What is your favorite memory of last year?

Little Man:  Going to Sesame Street.

Mommy: What is one thing you really want to do this year?

Little Man: Go on vacation.

What is your favorite . . .

Toy:  My kitchen

Drink: Milk and Root beer floats

Food: Cheeseburger and McDonalds

Activity: Painting

Song: “Let It Go”

TV Show: Daniel Tiger

Movie: Frozen

Book: Pete the Cat, Rockin’ My School Shoes

Sport: Swimming

Ice Cream: Vanilla

Color: Red

Candy: M-n-M’s

Stuffed Animal: Minion

Game: Candy Land

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A Three Year Old’s Dream

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Today I took Little Man to Billy Beez, a huge indoor playground of tunnels, slides, ball machines, trampolines, and mazes. He LOVED it. It was like all his dreams come true. He was giggling, laughing, and running around like a crazy guy! It was adorable.

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It was a great payback for how awesome he was last night. Last night I was miserably sick. It sucks being a single mom when you’re sick. Ugh! I thought maybe it was allergies, but by 5:30 last night, I was shivering with a fever and I literally couldn’t keeps eyes open. It didn’t help that Little Man was up all night the night before. But he was a rock star last night. I ended up laying under a pile of blankets while he surfed between a variety of shows on the PBS Kids app. God bless that app. It was a lifesaver. After a good nights sleep, I was still sick this morning but feeling much better.

So he was due for a special treat. Thanks again Angie and Chris for the gift card!

The Merry Go Round of Crazy

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I mentioned in my last post that there was lots I needed to catch everyone up on.  The past 2 1/2 weeks have been so crazy — so much stuff going in Little Man’s world and in mine.  It all started with a visit to a pediatric specialist at the Center for Development, Behavior, and Genetics.  That translates to a specialist that works with kids with a variety of special needs.  He’s crazy hard to get into–appointments often take a year to make.  However a year ago, when Little Man was still with bio mom, there was some concern that he might have Autism, and so an appointment was scheduled.  And now the time had come for that appointment.  We actually came back from vacation a day early to make this–it’s that big of a deal.

Since I’ve had Little Man it’s been clear to everyone involved that he doesn’t have Autism.  However he does have a whole list of other issues and troubling behaviors.  So this was a very helpful appointment.  Some of the things he was diagnosed with were no shock–developmental language disorder, at risk for learning disability, and severe problems with impulse control, explosiveness, and aggression.  Others were a bit of a surprise, but not too intimidating–probable ADHD.

But then there was one other diagnosis.  The one at the top of his chart.  I’m not going to make it public yet, because I’m not sure I’ve bought into this diagnosis.  But let me tell you, it’s bad.  Like, really bad.  In fact, when I did my home study they had to ask me about a long list of challenging behaviors, medical conditions, mental health issues, and special needs.  I said I’d take kids with severe learning disabilities or special needs.  I said I’d take kids who started fires.  This is the ONE THING I said I couldn’t handle.  The place where I drew the line.

God has a great sense of humor, huh?

I received a copy of the doctor’s full report and it was full of lots of things I just had to laugh at.  Like “He can be very sweet, but is also prone to violent and aggressive outbursts.  Many things trigger him very quickly”  And “He actually exhibits quite a lot of attention-seeking and limit testing behavior with his foster mother.  She is quite skilled in her responses to this behavior.”  Well, thanks.

That week I actually had three different appointments for Little Man.  Two days later I took him into the clinic for a follow-up appointment for a health problem he’s been having.  We saw my favorite doctor there-she’s awesome.  Little Man was displaying a few challenging behaviors.  Most of the time he was pretty good.  But then he started throwing a chair.  Nurses came in, afraid that someone was getting hurt and the doctor needed help.  Welcome to my world, folks.  Anyway, Little Man was fine and at the end of the visit the doctor told me “I wish I could bring you in to train the other foster parents–you’re great.”  Did I mention how much I love her?  So much better than the snooty doctor who stepped in the door one time and before even saying hello told me I needed to teach my son that his behavior wasn’t acceptable.  (Oh, is that what I’m supposed to do?  I thought I was supposed to encourage the yelling, hitting, and throwing.)

The next day I had an appointment to determine if Little Man was still eligible for services as he transitions out of EI and into the school district system (since he just turned 3).  It was an interesting meeting–two people from the school district, his special needs preschool teacher, his EI coordinator, his caseworker, bio mom on the phone, and myself.  The preschool teacher started bragging on how far he’s come in the past few months and that he’s doing so great.  But I had come to the meeting with my report from the specialist he saw on Monday.  And when they passed it around, everyone’s jaws hit the floor.  For real.  His caseworker said “I had no idea it was this bad.”  Maybe she wasn’t getting my desperate e-mails.  Who knows.  His teacher was shocked.  Apparently he spends a lot more time acting out at home than at school.  But his EI coordinator listened to my descriptions of his behavior and said “That is exactly what he was behaving like when I was doing in-home services with him before.”  Well, at least someone else has seen it.  They clearly saw his need for continued services and assigned him to everything the doctor had recommended.  Win.

As I was leaving the meeting, his caseworker walked out with me and we were able to have a good conversation.  She apologized for not knowing Little Man’s needs were so severe and promised to raise him to the next level of care (which means I’ll receive a higher reimbursement and can start a college fund for him as well as buying some of the therapeutic tools and toys he needs).  I laughed, “Yeah,” I said “my definition of a good day had drastically changed–the other night he hit me several times, bit me, pulled my hair, and pinched me, but it really was a good night.”

Then she started talking about mom and I asked her about some of the things she’d said in the meeting.  I wanted to know if mom was really making progress on getting Little Man back–because that’s how the caseworker was speaking to her during the meeting.  In the process of answering that question it came out that mom does not, in fact, have other children.  I was told multiple times by other caseworkers and by Little Man’s lawyer that mom had several other children who had all been freed for adoption and that meant he was on the path for adoption as well.  Now I was finding out that wasn’t true.  Apparently dad has other kids that have been freed for adoption, but mom has no other kids.  Woah.  That is a huge difference.  I felt like the ground had been ripped out from underneath me.  The caseworker shared some other info about his court case that had occurred the day before (I didn’t even know he had one), things going on with mom’s progress, and we made a plan to meet at my home for her visit the following week.

The beginning of the next week she came out for the visit.  She sat on my couch and observed Little Man and was completely shocked.  For real words that came out of her mouth:  “Is he always like this?”  “You should think long and hard about whether you want to adopt him, because I can’t promise he’ll ever get any better.”  Not so encouraging.  I know she’s just doing her job, and she needs to protect him against someone who says yes and then after adopting decides they can’t handle it.  But seriously people, if your biological kid was diagnosed with special needs would you just send them back?

In the midst of all this craziness we also had Little Man’s epic birthday party, I met with a social worker at the specialist’s office to discuss ways to handle his challenging behaviors, my computer completely crashed–losing about 3 months worth of work and being out of commission for nearly 2 weeks, I enrolled Little Man in his new special needs preschool program and took him for a tour, and dealt with an incredibly infuriating screaming episode in the middle of a nice sit-down restaurant.  (Seriously, Little Man, I refuse to accept defeat and stay at home or the park for the rest of my life–you need to learn how to behave in public, sincerely Mommy.)

So, if you’ve been wondering what’s going on in the world of Little Man, the answer is A LOT.  A lot that is super overwhelming.  But there’s been so much that’s super rewarding too.  Like . . .

* My baby, who could only speak about 5 words three months ago, is now talking up a storm.  He can speak in complete sentences and is learning new words and phrases every day!

* And he is not just looking at books anymore.  He is “reading” them.  For reals.  He picks up “Go Dog, Go” and carefully turns each page and says words and sentences that are on that page.  “I like it!  I like that hat!”  How magical is that!!

* He has decided that he now loves being at our home.  (I’m sure all the amazing toys his friends got him for his birthday are helping that!)

* He overheard “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman” in church and it’s new favorite song.  He sings along and does the motions–his favorite part is the “tick tock” part, with “Don’t touch me!” coming in as a close second!

* He also has decided he loves being at church.  No more crying when we start heading that way.  Instead he’ll start asking for church multiple times in a day!

* He has gotten so much better at staying at the table during mealtimes.

* I have significantly less bruises and injuries than I did a month ago.  His violent behaviors are getting much less frequent (and more importantly) much less damaging.

* And also super encouraging: an awesome friend contacted someone she knows who is a specialist in that diagnosis I was so afraid of.  And she thinks it’s wrong.  She described another diagnosis which is similar, and in some ways even harder to manage.  But the major difference:  the love, support, and affection I give him now can radically change and even cure what he’s dealing with.  And that is a HUGE light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

Screaming and Covered in Blood

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I woke up in the middle of the night to find Little Man covered in blood.  Like, so much blood everywhere I couldn’t even figure out what the heck was going on, covered in blood.  It was matted in his hair, all over his entire face, in his nose, on his teeth, on his hands, all over his pajamas, and blanket, and rug.  And by this time, all over me as well.  I whisked him up and set him on the dresser/changing table and began to feign non-panic, as I attempted to wipe the blood away and figure out where the heck it was coming from.  I checked his head first, but no cuts, then I began to focus on his forehead and cheeks.  Nothing.  Soon I’m noticing that most of this blood is dry and/or clotted.  He appears to not be currently bleeding.  This is a good thing.  Finally after about 10 minutes of cleaning blood off his face and head I determine that he has most likely had a nose bleed and somehow bit his lip–so the blood was coming from two places, but both are currently ok.  My best guess is that he had a nose bleed, woke up covered in bed, got freaked out, and bit his lip.  That’s when he started screaming and woke me up.

We work on cleaning up some more, and then we start the process of trying to get him back to bed.  And this is not a pretty picture.  He is understandably terrified.  I mean, I would be too if I woke up covered in blood.  The process of getting him to fall asleep takes about an hour and is punctuated by his heartbreaking cries of “mama, mama” trying to get me to come sleep with him.  After numerous cycles of me going in, cuddling him, singing, and then walking away to let him try to fall asleep, he eventually fell asleep.

Needless to say, we both woke up very tired this morning, and me with a migraine.  Good news is he’s all better now and this morning seemed to not even remember what happened last night.

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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Catching Up

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It has been a crazy season of my life.  Then again . . . when isn’t it crazy in my life?  I like to spin the Merry-Go-Round out of control fast and just keep riding.  For those of you following my fostering journey, I’ve completed all the home visits for my home study.  They were nothing at all like what I expected.  I imagined a hundred different scenarios, tried to practice answers as if I was prepping for an interview.  None of my predictions were anywhere close to what actually happened.  My home study  consisted of two visits, each one about two hours long.  We sat at my kitchen table, had coffee, and the home finder asked me a list of questions.  A list which just so happened to coincide almost identically with the questions I answered in writing on the biography section of my application.  I went through my job history again, where I’ve lived, my family relationships, etc.  Then he wrote down my answers.  I wanted to go print off a copy of the biography section I’d typed up to save him (and me) from all that extra time, but I thought it might come off as rude.  One of my friends who works in the system said it’s to make sure I’m telling the truth.  At the end of my first visit he spent no more than 90 seconds walking through my home.  He wasn’t checking to see if anything was or wasn’t there.  No looking for CO2 detectors, food in the pantry, or medicines laying out.  He just made a diagram of the layout of my house for his files.  Most of that diagram was drawn at my kitchen table.  The second visit was much the same as the first, only no walk through.  If only I’d known how this was going to work I could have saved myself hours of time scrubbing windowsills and base boards.  At the end of the second visit he did ask a few questions that hadn’t been covered elsewhere and got a more specific list of what challenging behaviors and/or special needs I’d be wiling to take.  Then he told me we were done.  The next step was for him to type up his notes, send out my references (inside I was groaning realizing he still hadn’t done it), wait for them to come back, and have his supervisor sign off on approval.  Then he will come back and I will sign off on the home study report.  He told me I could expect to be approved by mid-January.  That was December 16.  I haven’t heard anything yet, but I do know several of my references didn’t receive a reference letter in the mail until last week.  Hopefully I’ll be approved soon.  This process is such a long one!

In other news, I thought I’d try to catch up on the blog challenge I started months and months ago.  It was supposed to take 31 days.  It may take me a year.  Anywho, the next challenge was to write about my dream job.  This is a hard one for me, because in many ways I feel like I have my dream job.  I love what I do, I love the people I work with.  It’s great.  But I guess if I were going to describe my dream job, I might have to take into account that there are a lot of things I love doing, that I don’t get to do very often.  So perhaps I need a job-rotation.  Like preschool centers where you get to go from one area to another and then back again.  No one has ever described me as ADD before, but writing this makes me wonder.  Anyway, if I could go back and forth between all my favorite types of jobs, here’s what they would be:

My current job as a children’s pastor.  I love getting to impact kids lives and help grow stronger families.  I also love that in my current job I get to be more than just “the kids person.”  I get to preach, teach, lead outreaches, and be a part of the team.  Did I mention how great my job is?

Working with the church in the Middle East.  I did this for a year and absolutely loved it.  I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the awesome food.  When I did this I taught a college course, worked with child sponsorship programs, taught English, led kids programs, and trained people to work with kids.  All of it was amazing.

Acting.  I miss this a lot.  There’s not too many opportunities for me to do this anymore.  I get to direct kids a lot, but I miss being on stage.  I’m dying to play Jane Eyre–anyone wanna resurrect that musical and cast me?  I look young for my age, I promise.

Wedding Planning.  I’ve always teased that if I quit my day job this is probably what I’ll end up doing.  I love the beauty and celebration of weddings, and I love planning events.

Author.  Writing is a life-long passion of mine.  I’ve actually written a lot, but just can’t seem to find the energy and do the work it takes to get published.

Teacher.  I love teaching.  I love being able to challenge people, open their minds to new ways of thinking, and help them grow.

Traveler I’m not sure what kind of job would let me travel all the time, but I am IN LOVE with traveling to other places–whether a new place in the US I haven’t been to or somewhere across the globe.

So that’s it.  What would your dream job include?