Wednesday, October 31, 2012

foster child update

It has been one year since we had our first foster child come into our house. Almost 4 year old, Alexis, arrived to our house on 10/24/11. One year ago we were taking three children trick-or-treating. Life was crazy and we had big hopes that it would get less crazy. We lived in extreme stress for 6 months with Alexis and had to let her move on to another family about 6 months ago. Our family has recovered for the most part but we will never be the same people we were before doing foster care.

Alexis is now with a great family that is in the process of adopting her and her story in foster care has a great ending. God really did provide when we needed him to. He brought amazing parents, without other kids, and with the skills and love that Alexis needed. On top of that, the new family wants us involved in their lives. We had hoped and prayed that we would be able to keep up with Alexis. We love that little girl and hope that we can somehow overcome the difficulties and be her friends for life. The new parents are hoping that our continuing relationship also helps Alexis understand that she is still loved by us even though our relationship is different now.

Since Alexis left at the end of April, we have seen her a few times but the times together usually don't end well. She has fun with us for awhile and then something happens and memories are probably triggered and her behavior worsens.

About 2 months ago, I met with the new mom and Alexis for lunch and I enjoyed it but it was also difficult. The boys and Bryan haven't seen her in about 4 months but we were hoping for a short trick-or-treating visit at their house tonight. It was all setup to happen but it just got canceled. Alexis is having a really hard time right now trusting that her new parents won't leave her and that they love her. She asks them a lot and she cries a lot. She cries when life is hard and anything can bring out the tears. Not sure if she is remembering where she was a year ago but something has triggered this as a harder time for her.

It breaks my heart that she is having a harder time than usual time right now. I had been looking forward to seeing her tonight. I know that we helped Alexis get through some tough times in the past but I still have lots of negative thoughts creep in about what damaging things we did to her by not adopting her. I know it was for the best for her and for us but it still has some negative results attached to it.

I am happy to go trick-or-treating with my two little super heroes, Jaden and Clay (who chose to wear their same costumes this year), but I will also be thinking about what life was like one year ago. Alexis will always be in my prayers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

marriage is worth the effort

Bryan and I recently got back from an 8 night trip to the Big Island, Hawaii, Hawaii! It was the trip of a lifetime! We left the boys in Fargo, ND with their grandparents and other family members and we had 11 days without them! That was the longest we have ever left them. I missed them more than I expected. It was so great to be reunited with them.

We decided to take a big trip over our anniversary this year because we knew we needed to do something special to boost our marriage and continue the recuperation from foster care. We celebrated our 14th anniversary on August 1st. We hadn't initially planned to do something big for year 14 but after everything we have been through in the last year, we knew we needed it. We talked about going many different places but in the end, we chose Hawaii. This was Bryan's year to plan the excursion since we take turns every other year. (Next year I get to plan a trip to London for our 15th anniversary, which has been the hope for many years.) Bryan planned an amazing trip to Hawaii filled with lots of snorkeling and volcanoes, along with some great places to stay. We did a lot on this trip but it was a long trip so it didn't seem too filled up.

We started out the trip exploring some beaches, swimming/snorkeling with sea turtles and watching the manta rays at night. We took a helicopter ride (checked off of my life goal list) over an active volcano, Kilauea, and got to see lots of red, hot lava. We did some hiking and driving around volcanoes. We explored the rainforest and saw many waterfalls. We played on black sand beaches and hiked to a green sand beach. We spent time relaxing on white sand beaches, surrounded by lava rock. We saw more lava rock than we thought possible. We also took a tour up Mauna Kea (inactive volcano) for a beautiful view of the sunset surrounded by gigantic telescopes. While there we enjoyed staring at the stars in the clear sky and high elevation (14,000 ft) and looking through an 11" telescope at some things we had never seen before in the night sky. We also included some local shopping and a snorkel/boat trip on our trip. It truly was an amazing trip!

Bryan and I have returned refreshed and loving life. There is no doubt that this boosted our marriage and made it better. This trip was not easy, especially for Bryan who did the planning, and it wasn't cheap. We invested a lot of time and money into this trip but it was all to make our marriage better. Our investment is paying off. We are huge proponents of taking time away from your kids to keep your marriage heading in the right direction.

After this trip, we are even more convinced that our marriage is worth investing in to make it better. Our marriage is great but it has also been a lot of work. We have been working at it for 14 years. We have learned that if we keep working at our marriage to improve it, then it won't go bad. We want to keep things moving in the right greater love, intimacy and commitment and further away from separation and divorce. There have been times when we haven't put the effort into our marriage and it showed. We both are fully aware that marriage isn't easy. It is not easy to stay in love and keep the romance alive. A great marriage takes effort and it is so worth it! Take some creative...add a little spark back into your marriage!

Monday, June 25, 2012

healing from foster care

I have so many mixed emotions about foster care and adoption and that has been keeping me from writing about it. I knew that it had been awhile since I last blogged about anything related to foster care but when I looked today at my blog I realized that I haven't written anything since 2 days after our little foster girl left (about 8 weeks ago).

Our family life is drastically different now. There are only four people in our house and we are able to relax. Our bodies and minds are recovering from living in extreme stress for six months. The boys behavior is getting back to a healthy state but there is always room for improvement. We still see some lasting behavior that developed during foster care but that will change with more time. The first week with the two boys was very difficult still dealing with their recently developed behavior challenges but since that week, things have steadily improved. We have now been a family of four for 8 weeks and it stills seems to soon to be healed. We are still processing everything.

Our family has been healing and I am sure the healing will continue. We accomplished something big by taking another child into our home and a difficult child at that. I thank God that He was with us throughout everything and that increased our prayer time. But I also know that we didn't succeed at adopting a child. I have a life goal list and on that list are many things including foster a child and adopt a child. We accomplished one but the other did not happen. Some may call it a failed adoption. I know there are some that are thinking that. I also know that God is bringing more good out of this than I thought possible. So I am going to keep praying that God will continue to bring more good out of this difficult situation.

I am not sure what lies ahead for our family. There are times we think that this (foster care or having 3 kids) just isn't our ministry and God has gifted us with other talents. Now we can shift our focus to pursuing other things we are passionate about. But there are other times that I think maybe these 3 kids weren't our ministry and that this just wasn't our time. I can't say that we will never foster a child again or that we will never adopt a child. I don't know what is in our future. I know that we will not intentionally be changing our family size any time soon and we will not be doing foster care any time soon. Our family needs more time to heal and our boys need some more stability. I see that more now than ever.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SpaceX launch

Exciting news today that SpaceX launched their Dragon capsule in the hopes to dock with the International Space Station. I am keeping a close eye on this for a couple reasons. I like knowing current events related to NASA. I also have particular interest in following anything happening at the International Space Station because I am helping with the development of an exhibition about the station at the Science Museum of Minnesota. I can't wait to hear about how the docking of Dragon goes on Friday. Hoping everything is successful and then the US will again be able to launch our own cargo to the space station.

Here is an article at Universe Today if you want to read more about it. Picture credit: Ken Kremer.

Friday, May 11, 2012

mischievous nephew

We are taking care of my two nephews for one evening while my sister and her husband get away. They are visiting us from Germany and a hotel without kids is a nice treat in Minneapolis. So we have four boys in our house. Things have gone rather smoothly. We walked a trail through the forest. Dinner and playland at McDonald's. Playtime and movie at home. Then this morning while I was showering and Bryan had the four boys, the thing I thought most likely to happen with a foster child happened with my nephew. A computer was destroyed.

Bryan left our nephew in the living room by himself with a task. He was wiping furniture and cleaning and enjoying it. Bryan was in the basement with the three big boys for maybe 5-10 minutes when he came up to find a disaster. He found his laptop that was put away, taken out and almost all of the keys and plastic connectors pulled off with blood on the computer keys and carpet from my nephew's little 2 year old fingers. We went to wash his hands and discovered the toilet filled with toilet paper with toilet water everywhere. My oh my did that kid have a fun time in those few minutes. We already knew that any kid in our house would know that the computers are our most prized posessions and my nephew probably also knew that from his house. We had been told to watch out for foster kids destroying what is most important to you. I didn't expect this from my cute nephew.

This nephew is such a little sweetheart and has been loved on a lot by us the last few days. He will never forget this story and Bryan may really need a new computer. God continues to remind us that people are more important than things. My sister does not have an easy job raising her little Curious George.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

transitioning out of foster care

On Sunday I packed up the last of our little foster girl's stuff at our house. Everything was ready to be moved to her new home and new foster/adopt family. The boys and I said goodbye and see ya later while Bryan was at work. I was handling things pretty well. Saturday and Sunday were hard days because of dealing with 3 kids with behavior issues while Bryan was working. So in some ways it was a relief to say goodbye to one child. I knew the hardness of that would still hit me. Our family went to church Sunday evening and the emotion of it all hit me. I am still dealing with feelings of failure in what we hoped would end in adoption. There are feelings of sadness from all of us that we will miss this little girl. We are hopeful and excited about her new life. We also feel like celebrating our freedom. We have felt more confined to our house with three kids and their behavior issues. So we have mixed feelings of sadness and celebration, disappointment and hopefulness.

Monday night we got to see the new family of 3 for dinner as all 7 of us ate together. This was planned because Bryan missed out on the joint goodbye on Sunday and it was nice to have another thing to look forward to. At dinner we were reminded that little girl is still in a state of stress. She was overly loud and doesn't fully understand that she has left our house permanently. I am sure this will take some time to set in for her. We were also reminded that our attention is now focused off of this little girl and onto our two boys. The boys behavior needs to improve and get back to a healthy place. Neither of them ever had tantrums before this little girl entered our house and now at 5 and 7 years old, they are both having major emotional and physical breakdowns. We know our boys are resilient but they need a lot of love and attention right now. We are happy to provide that for them. I am amazed at how much quieter our house and cars are when there are only 2 kids instead of 3. I am enjoying the quietness and working through all that we have experienced in the last 6 months of foster care. Thank you again for your prayers and thoughts. We appreciate them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

the difference of a week

A week ago I was uncontrollably emotional. Now I am confident in the plans that God has seemingly crafted for our family and our little foster girl.

A week ago we met the new foster/adopt parents and we enjoyed a long dinner conversation with them and without kids. We got little girl excited to meet her special new friends and spend two hours with them on Wednesday. Then she had another visit with them on Friday. Both went really well. Then Saturday and Sunday, we had the new foster parents over to our house at different times. Every interaction with them continues to remind us that they will be a great family and home for this little girl.

This week she will be spending 2 overnights at their house. Then she will return to our house for 2 overnights. Then the big move will be happening on Sunday. In just a little over 2 weeks time, we found out about a great foster to adopt home in our suburb (just 10 minutes from us) and she will be moving to their house. This has felt fast and we wanted to extend it but as time goes on, 2 weeks will be just the right amount of time.

We are excited by the new family and their plans to adopt this little girl. They will be great parents to her. They have so many qualities we had hoped and prayed to find. They are Christians, extremely patient, understanding and laugh easily at little girl's silliness. They have experience with speech therapy and developmentally delayed kids. They have great family support and they don't have any other kids. On top of that, they have a fun and loving dog to share.

The new family is also supportive of our minimal involvement and we look forward to keeping up with this little girl. We hope we can provide some respite care to them and meet for some play dates with the kids.

This transition will still be difficult for everyone involved and tears will continue to be shed by many of us. The boys are trying to process everything that is happening and it is not easy for them to understand. You can pray for them to feel extra-loved during this time. We are also praying for continued improvement in little girl and for lots of love, patience and compassion to come flowing out of the new parents.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. Your encouraging words help me to focus on the positive and remember God is with us every step of the way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

foster care change of plans

I haven't blogged for about 2 weeks. There are many reasons for that and they are probably all related to doing foster care for a little girl. It was about 2 weeks ago that Bryan and I came to the conclusion that we will not be adopting our little, 4 year old foster girl. This decision was extremely hard to make because of all of the expectations and emotions that are tied to one complicated little girl. We are confident of our decision after having prayed about this for 6 months and talked with everyone close to us about our family. I am still very emotional at times about our decision and that has led me to not feel like I could write a clear blog post about this. Bryan has done a great job explaining our feelings and situation so I am stealing some of his words.

We went into foster care because we wanted to interact with a family that needed help taking care of their child. We also thought that we might be interested in adoption. Those thoughts have changed and been challenged to extremes we didn't know were possible. We are still very happy that we are foster parents. We will be forever changed by this decision to foster another child. Our potential plan to adopt a foster child will not be happening and so we are dealing with this change in our plans...and that is very difficult right now.
We decided 2 weeks ago that we are not equipped to handle three kids and the challenges that would bring in the long term. We told this to our social workers and they said they would look for a new family over the next few months as we hoped to make sure her mom was out of the picture before the transition. The following week we were called with what seems to be the perfect family match for little girl. They had everything we had thought little girl needs and they seem like really great people! We met with the couple on Monday night in preparation for the transition. They will have their first visit with her at their house tonight (Wednesday). We will have a couple visits and an overnight for them to decide about foster care with the plan of adopting her.
This is all going fast for us and we are starting to grieve the upcoming loss of little girl and process the guilt of not being able to make everything work. We have dumped so much of our lives into her over the last 6 months and her improvements intellectually, physically and behaviorally have been huge. She doesn't fall down as much; she knows her shapes, colors, numbers to 10 on a good day and many letters now including her name; and her tantrums are free from intentionally hurting herself and shows signs of starting to self regulate by asking us to tickle her before she breaks down. We are now trying to do everything we can to make the transition for her and her new family to be as smooth and as positive as possible. We are even hoping to have future interactions and play dates with her to make sure she knows we enjoy and love her. Please pray for this transition, for her new family/home and for our family to adjust and understand the good we did for this little girl is worth the uncomfortable feelings it brings to let her go to another family. We truly believe that she will be better off in their home than ours and look forward to seeing her do well as a part of their family.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

spring break

We are on a short trip to Fargo, ND to visit family over the kids' spring break from school. I know Fargo is not a preferred destination for spring break but it is nice to be with family and the kids love playing with their cousins here. I was just looking back at our pictures from Phoenix. That is more like a spring break destination. We were there just 4 short weeks ago. So that was our real spring break, even though it was still during winter. My favorite memory from that trip is hiking Camelback Mountain with Bryan, Jaden, Clay and extra family. This is my favorite picture. Clay was the first of our family to the top and he sure was proud of himself. We couldn't get him to crack a smile for any pictures. The boys did great hiking and I can't wait to go on more hiking adventures with them. Yes, there is a sweet little foster girl missing from this picture. She was hanging out with grandma at the bottom of the mountain and if you ask her, she DID hike this mountain.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

career hopefulness

I am filled with hope about my career prospects today in the Minneapolis area. I am involved in a two and a half day meeting to discuss the Journey to Space exhibition that is in development at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. We have advisers coming from all over the country to give us feedback on our current plans. It will be an exciting couple of days for me.

In addition to the museum meeting, I have continually been finding more space related endeavors for me to pursue. There are possible traveling NASA exhibitions coming to Minnesota. There is the possibility of becoming a local ambassador for NASA. There is more to explore about bringing some of NASA to Minnesota, possibly with a Challenger Center someday (dreaming big). I am enjoying learning more about local museum options for hosting space related activities. I also am excited about the possibility of getting involved at the University of Minnesota in astronomy or physics research and classes. Maybe someday I will pursue another masters degree in astronomy. And there is also the option of engineering contract work for NASA through a unique satellite software I have worked on in the past and a renewed connection with a former University of Maryland aerospace engineering classmate now living in the Twin Cities.

I am thanking God for allowing me to use my talents and for giving me hope to use my talents in Minnesota in the future.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

little girl takes the blame

Today our little foster girl got to see her birth mom at a one and a half hour visit. She was very much looking forward to it especially after mom didn't show up last week. After the visit, little girl was very talkative. She seemed to be reminiscing about her life. She kept telling me that she was nice and she went to jail. "Me nice. Me not bad. Me go to jail." After more questions and having her explain it about five times, she was talking about the night she got taken from her mom. In little girl's mind, she went to jail because she was on the street. She is now terrified of going in the street. She doesn't want to go to jail again.

I attempted to explain to her that she went to a shelter, not jail after she was found on the street. She firmly disagreed repeatedly. She is convinced she went to jail and that is the reason she is not with her mom. Whenever we try to explain that her mom didn't take good care of her or that her mom is on drugs or sick, she denies all of it with anger and yelling. In her head, she has a good mom. It was all she knew until she was taken away. I don't think she is old enough to grasp the different kind of family or house that she is in now as compared to what she used to have. She doesn't trust me or Bryan and doesn't believe a lot of what we say. We will continue to remind her that she is not the reason she was taken from her mom. Her mom is the reason they are not together. Her mom has made bad choices and so this little girl needs a better home.

Kids seem to always blame themselves for anything bad that happens around them even when they are not responsible for the bad action. We see that so clearly with our little foster girl. It makes me wonder what actions of mine that the boys will blame themselves. It is also interesting for me to think about the kids' bad actions and their choices to escape blame or consequences. Are these two opposite scenarios tied together? When parents make mistakes, the kids feel bad and feel like they are the ones who made a mistake. When kids make mistakes, the kids pretend to not feel bad and portray that they didn't make a mistake. In reality, the kids probably feel bad when their parents make mistakes and when they, themselves, make mistakes. Poor kids are taking on way too much on their shoulders. Kids need to be reminded that parents make mistakes and the kids are not blame.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

unexpected birth mom story

Yesterday, Bryan and I went to Hennepin County court. We were hoping and praying that little girl's birth mom would not show up to her next court appointment. The hearing was just to get an update on what mom has done to get her daughter back. And for the judge to find out if mom has followed any of the court ordered plan. Mom did show up and what happened is not what we expected. The court date got rescheduled due to an unexpected plan.

We talked with the birth mom for a little while. She reinforced that she wants her daughter back but only after I asked and she answered with only a head nod. Not very convincing. She is trying to get better. She has stopped using cocaine and the drug screens are showing it but she is still using marijuana and living with her boyfriend and who sells and uses cocaine. Mom is trying to get a bed in an inpatient drug treatment program and things are in process to do this for her. She has been showing up to visits with her daughter but she is not concerned about her daughter's well being at all and never has any questions about her daughter. This is very strange considering she has taken care of her daughter for 4 years and is seemingly happy that she doesn't have to do it any more. Mom has no concerns about what is happening to her daughter. Mom needs parenting help (classes) and help with being physically abused. She has been told repeatedly that she will not get her daughter back unless she moves out from her boyfriend, goes through drug treatment and completes some classes along with checking in daily for potential drug screens and showing up to visits with her daughter. Mom just started getting into action 5 months after her daughter was removed. Her actions may be too late but most likely she will not complete drug treatment and will not move out from her boyfriend. Mom knew from the beginning that she has 6 months to prove that she can be a better parent by carrying out the court ordered plan. That 6 months is up at the end of March. If mom is not in drug treatment at our next hearing in 4 weeks, then the parental rights will be removed next.

So that is the update on the mom that we got while waiting for court. While we were talking with little girl's social worker, the mom was meeting with her public defender/lawyer in a room across the hallway. We were informed that there is a warrant out for mom's arrest but the officials were not sure if it was accurate because it only showed up in 1 of 2 databases. While we were talking about this, our social worker said, look through the is getting arrested. So the warrant was indeed correct and the mom was under arrest for not appearing in criminal court when she was scheduled for charges of child endangerment. We watched through the glass as mom was handcuffed and taken away, tears streaming down her cheeks. She appeared to be trying to get her daughter back and get herself some help but all that changed in an instant. She spent last night in jail and may still be there for a day or two more. The county is probably planning to hold her until they can get a bed ready for her at the inpatient drug treatment program.

We have visits scheduled for Friday and next Tuesday for little girl and mom to get some supervised time together but they may not be happening now. Somehow in some weird way I may have gotten my prayer answered. I was praying for mom to not show up because she would have fewer rights to see her daughter again. I knew this would help lead to little girl getting a permanent healthy family sooner. I was also hoping that she wouldn't show up to our next visit so that our lives are not made more difficult. Little girl always regresses after seeing her mom so that makes our family life even harder. So now mom may be in jail or in treatment for our next visit so most likely it will not be happening. Once that is confirmed on Friday, it will feel much better but until then, I am still praying for no more visits with mom until she is better, if that ever happens.

I prayed hard for mom to get better when we first got little girl. I knew I was praying against the odds but figured it would still be better for both of them in the end. All of the people involved in the case have been assuming this mom would not be able to get better. We are in agreement with them and focusing on getting a better life for this little girl. So mom's recovery is secondary to saving this little girl's life now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

low on compassion and high on frustration

Usually I try to wait to write a blog post until my frustration has decreased and I am in a calm state. I am not there yet and this post might end up being a mistake later. We will see.

I have been at home all day with little girl after she threw up twice in the middle of the night. No fun being sick and no fun cleaning up puke in the carpet, on the blankets, in buckets, in the bed and on the clothes. Yuck. The up side is that there was no visit with birth mom today. And no subsequent regression of behavior. Yay! I don't think we will have any visits for the next 3 weeks and that leads me to hope for no more visits indefinitely and hopefully a continual recovery from neglect and emotional abuse for little girl. There will be no visit this week due to sickness and none next week because we are taking little girl on our family vacation to Phoenix. Then there will be no visit the week after that because of mom's next court hearing.

I am frustrated by a misbehaving child who hasn't really acted sick all day. Unless her sickness is causing her to misbehave and have lots of peeing issues. They could be related but I am out of compassion. I have done countless loads of laundry today and it wasn't to wash the full hampers in our house. That laundry will have to wait while the pee and puke laundry is taken care of.

Bryan is hopefully having fun with the boys while I continue to be at home. We had about 2 hours of off and on screaming from 4-6pm with 2 peeing accidents on the carpet. Little girl has been really good about not peeing on the carpet or furniture, surprisingly, so that has made that a little harder to deal with today. I really do know that potty training can be much worse because it was with my two boys. She has been relatively easy to train but today was no fun. I had enough and a pull-up is now being used. I do not plan on regretting that later.

It is really hard to express the frustration and stress level that is induced in our house because of having our first foster child in our house. People see her at school, church or out and about and they think she is a little odd but still cute and wonderful. She is not cute and wonderful very often. That is the exception. She has induced a lot of problems in our family life and it is hard, very hard to not take any of it out on her. Sometimes I am able to blame the birth mom for little girl's problems but that is not easy. I know I need more compassion for little girl and in my best moments, God comes through with more compassion than I could ever muster up. Right now I am out of compassion and need a break. I am looking forward to escaping to the grocery store once Bryan is home. Who knew that grocery shopping could feel like a reward!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

bottles and attachment

So my judgment is still pending about my latest idea with our little foster girl. I bought baby bottles. I have read in multiple places and been encouraged by multiple people to try bottle feeding with little girl. We know she has been neglected and was not well cared for as a baby. She acts like a baby often and wants us treat her like one more often than we would like. The experts are telling us that is encouraging because she is trying to form attachment to us. I am not convinced but they do know more than I do about this. So I have tried a bottle twice with different feelings about it. I think it is good for her and will keep trying but not sure for how long. One bottle a day is good for her to be held and good for eye contact and good for her to get the nutrition of milk in her body. She does not drink very much and could use some more hydrating so the bottle feeding is helping with that too. She is not the biggest fan of milk so I wonder if that is because she wasn't given that much of it...who knows.

We continue to work on attachment with her, which really just means being very intentional about loving her and meeting her needs. On top of that there are lots of discipline issues remaining. Multiple daily tantrums/outbursts/emotional breakdowns or whatever you want to call them still remain a part of our life. On top of that we are still dealing with the negative behaviors that have developed in our boys after she arrived.

The last 3 weeks have been rougher than the previous month because birth mom entered the picture again. This made little girl have more fear and more bad behavior because of that fear. She doesn't know what is going on. Who will she live with and what is in the future? We reassure her with our best ideas and explanations but we know she can't understand all of what we are saying to her. Her mom is trying again and states that she is off cocaine and only using marijuana. She is seeming more normal and talking and interactive but we will see how long that lasts. She is still living with her boyfriend who uses and sells cocaine and there is physical abuse between them. Very bad environment for little girl. I can almost say with certainty that she will not be returning to her mom. Mom has only 3 more weeks to prove herself and move out or get into treatment or the process to remove parental rights will be started. The parental rights will most likely be terminated in April or May and little girl will be available for adoption.

Friday, January 27, 2012

astronaut application completed

Today I completed my application to be an astronaut. It has always been a goal of mine to apply even though I may never become an astronaut. It feels good to check that off my life goal list. If there is any additional post about this application, it will only be because God has had his hand in my life. I am a long shot and don't expect to hear anything back about my application.

I have wanted to be an astronaut since I was in 2nd grade. I was inspired by my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Paulsrud to be a teacher and I loved space. Christa McAuliffe was my hero as a teacher and an astronaut. I wanted to be her. The Challenger explosion and her death did not deter me at all. I continued to dream big and the dream has never died. I always wanted to meet the minimum astronaut requirements and I have. So, why not, just apply. It can't hurt. There is no time like the present.

I was explaining to Jaden today that I applied to be an astronaut. His immediate response was, "No!" Then I tried explaining to him that I am not going to be an astronaut but I would like to be but it will not be happening. I told him that over 3000 people apply to be astronauts and only about 10 people get chosen. Then his little math brain was working and he responded, "That means that 2,990 people don't get chosen." Thanks, Jaden, I know it is a long shot.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

still in transition

I have not intentionally been putting off writing about our little foster girl but my emotions and feelings and thoughts about our whole situation seem to change daily. I'm not sure if my thoughts are becoming more consistent or not yet but I feel inspired to write again. (Thank you to the movie The Help. So inspirational on so many levels.)

Life still seems incredibly hard around our house. I am sure I am making it harder than it really is but our family is still in transition. I am generally grumpy. Grumpy to my husband, my boys and little girl. Sometimes more angry than grumpy but I don't want to admit that. It is difficult to enjoy the good moments and I linger in the bad. I am a pessimist.

Little girl's behavior is improving. Her behavior is seeming normal for a 2 or 3 year old, even though she is 4. She cries at times (when she didn't use to let it out) and asks for lots of hugs when her mood is escalating instead of jumping to screaming right away. I am continually faced with her deficits from potty training issues to missing vocabulary to the multitude of bruises on her legs (gross motor issues) to rising anger when I can't figure out a word she is trying desperately to pronounce. She is developmentally delayed. She will be getting special education because of deficits in five areas. She needs the extra help. She may end up being a learning challenged kid the rest of her life. She does not have an easy life ahead of her whether she stays with our family or not.

There is continual talk of adoption. Birth mom dropped out of the picture over a month ago. Breaks my heart. We continue to pray for mom's health and her life. We were able to let the social workers involved know that we would really just like to focus on foster care as long as we can handle it and defer any adoption conversation. There were some emotional conversations in mid December about possibly needing to end this sooner than we thought. We are done with that thinking, hopefully, and we are focusing on making our family healthy no matter what the outcome is for little girl's forever family. Birth mom's parental rights will be terminated, most likely in April and little girl will be available for adoption. We will either adopt her or help in choosing a better family fit for her. This is undecided and I don't see that decision getting made any time soon (not at least for another month).

Even though little girl has improved, we are waiting to see the boys behavior improve. Jaden is stuck in a perfectionist world that is so hard for him to let go. He has trouble following the simplest commands at times. Clay has anger toward little girl that we are trying to decrease. We have a new set of goals (not rules) in our family and it is helping us all. Here are the most common repeated adages in our house. No hurts. Ask not tell. Listen and obey. Eyes. Hugs.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas memories

We had a great Christmas. We got to open presents at 4 different times and that was by far the highlight for the kids. The boys' favorite present initially was the mini foosball game. Jaden now will say his favorite present is the Battleship game (thanks Kevin and Nicole!). Clay's favorite is a box of kitchen science experiments. Little girl loved everything she got! She displayed some of her best behavior while we were in North Dakota with family. It was nice to have extra help with the kids from family and there was extra entertainment from being in a new environment.

The boys can tell you why we celebrate Christmas but the presents continue to be overwhelming. I'm not sure how to change this focus on presents. I know some people think that is what Christmas is about for kids...the presents. I don't want it to be that way. I tried to be minimal on the presents from us to the kids but they have a lot of loving family that blesses them with many gifts. Maybe our family of 4 or 5 will do things differently in 2012.

Notice the picture of the lights hung nicely on our house. I got around the house to halfway through the garage door on the right when I fell. I keep saying it was halfway but looking now, there was only one strand left to do after I had already hung 3 strands. I am recovering nicely now and have only a little pain remaining in my left upper rib and my right elbow and wrist. I am now 5 weeks post fall. I am happy to have full range of motion of my arm back. I was a little concerned it wouldn't return after the doctor tried putting the scare into me that I might lose some range of motion if I didn't use my arm.