Thursday, October 27, 2011

Foster the change

There are times when I just need to write to express all that is going on. This is one of those times. There is so much going on inside my head. My house is a mess and there are dishes to do and mail to tend to and laundry to be done. I guess that is what happens when you add another child into your house. I did plan for this as best as I could with the one week notice we had that our first foster child would be arriving in our house.

A little 3 year old girl arrived calmly to our house around 1pm on Monday, October 24th with her social worker. She was sweet and instantly affectionate. A sign of how love-starved she is. Cute but also very sad. She strokes your hair. She says, "Nice shirt. Nice hair." She gives wonderful hugs. She needs lots of love. She is quiet but not silent with a cute little high pitch voice. She is chatty and makes lots of little noises. She is curious. She will stick her in your pocket and point to everything saying "What dat?" or the latest, "What color dis?"

She turns 4 soon but does not know her colors or numbers and can not count even one. She does know she is three and responds promptly when asked. She plays extremely well by herself. She seems most interested in building anything, blocks, train tracks, kinex, etc. So that makes her fit well with our boy toys. She doesn't seem to know what to do with a doll or barbie doll beyond hold it. She really likes quiet and when Jaden and Clay are around she is often heard saying, "Kids loud. Kids noisy."

She is probably delayed mentally and physically. This is yet to be assessed. Her speech is very hard to understand but she is great at charades and repeating her words. She falls a lot and can't walk a straight line. She has a lot of problems with stairs. She did not have a great start in life and has not had anyone helping her progress so hopefully we can make up for that some.

We are still working on getting her to learn our names; Raquel, Bryan, Jaden and Clay. She has figured out the quickest way to get my attention is to yell (in her quiet voice), "Mom!" It is pretty cute but also makes me think of her mom every time I hear her say it. Sometimes I correct her. "You can call me Raquel or Quel."

She has blond hair and very fair skin with greenish-gray eyes. Very cute little chubby cheeks. She looks and acts like an angel most of the time. She is big for her age and already looks about 4 1/2 years old. She seems heaven sent at times. She couldn't be more loving and cute. I actually calculated (my engineer-side) that she is quite amazing about 96% of the time that she is awake which is even better if you account for sleeping time. There is that 4% which is causing me to write. It is good to remind my pessimist self that it is only 4% of the time. So that 4% of the time she screams and yells and cries at the top of her little bitty lungs. Which is amazingly loud and excruciatingly painful to my ears at times. She has started to act-out violently in the last 24 hours. Kicking, hitting, grabbing, scratching, pulling hair. That is not fun. It is exhausting. I have been completely calm and amazingly disconnected until I see the pain in her eyes as she is screaming. I guess others might not see it as pain but when her eyes light up all red from the crying, I swear I can feel a little bit of her pain. It has brought me to tears a few times while I watch her scream and yell and just not know how to calm down. Usually it has been as dramatic of an end to the tantrum as the beginning. Once she is done, on average about 15 minutes later, she is pleasant. Says sorry and gives hugs and is ready to play calmly. It is amazing to watch it all unfold. I didn't know that could come out of such a cute small package until now.

She has gotten more challenging as the week has went on but her life has only been more complicated because of our family. I would love to think we are doing an amazing thing for taking her in but her hurt and wounds seem so huge that our contribution seems so small and may not amount to much even over time. This has brought me to tears and prayer many times this week. God is my fuel and my motivation comes from Jesus and the love and grace He shows me continually.

We know quite a bit about what she has endured and what her mother's life has been like and that just makes me hurt. Why are some people dealt such a hard life? I would like to think that maybe we can help change the generational pattern in this family but it seems quite impossible. More prayer. I met her mother just briefly today for our first supervised visit where I dropped her off. After the visit that did not go well and ended early, she said, "Mom mean. Me sad." Out of her three year old little mouth. Me sad too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Journey to Space

It has been too long since I posted. I was waiting to post something about my new gig at the Science Museum of Minnesota but then I waited too long and this post is long over due. I have been volunteering at the museum since February of this year. I started out as a school group greeter and then moved on to be an exhibit gallery volunteer doing science demonstrations with visitors. About the beginning of August I started helping with some exhibit development. They are working on a new exhibit called "Journey to Space" about the International Space Station. I am the "aerospace engineering expert" which is fun but really I just want to contribute in any way I can and have fun doing it. I am loving it! I am at the museum 2 days a week (half a day in the exhibit gallery still) and the other time I am contacting people at NASA and asking them for help and researching the space station for exhibit ideas. It has been a blast! I feel like I am part of the team. I am enjoying being a volunteer for now and being able to come and go as I please. There is potential that this could turn into a job but I am trying to take this new adventure slowly. The exhibit is planned to open in St. Paul in the summer of 2014 and then travel to at least 14 museums around the country over 6 or more years. The exhibit is going to be huge if all goes as planned. Potentially $8 million spent on 15,000 square feet of exhibit space. There are large simulators or rides planned and many smaller engineering and science interactives. I love being a part of all that is going on at the museum, especially when it is space related. I have lots of free tickets to the museum. Let me know if you ever want to go!