Monday, May 19, 2014

Keeping Them Busy

Am I the only one receiving at least one flyer a day for "ways to keep my kids busy during the summer"??

Saftey Town
Sports Camp
Summer School
Vacation Bible School
Taekwondo Camp
Enrichment Camp
Tennis Lessons
Swimming Lessons
Riding Lessons
Rocket Camp
Lego Camp
Bug Safari
Math Adventures
Chinese Folk Art Summer Camp

Chinese Folk Art Summer Camp?!  What?  Am I the only one that thinks that sounds like...less fun than this:

I'm all for learning over the summer.  But I'm more for playing over the summer.  As you are enrolling kids in activities for the summer, ask yourself what they are going to do at this camp actually better than what they would come up with themselves?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tiny little heartaches

"A child born to another woman calls me Mom. The depth of the tragedy and magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me" -Jody Landers

While our Safe Families kids don't usually call me "Mom," this quote meant a lot to me this past weekend- Mother's Day weekend.  I usually try to share some of the special happy moments here, but I thought that I would share a few of the more heartbreaking, poignant moments we've had lately.  Raising someone else's kid is a messy business on the best of days.  Encouraging a relationship with a parent who can't/won't/shouldn't care for their child is really hard.  Helping a child through the end of that relationship is harder.  And let me tell you, five year olds ask really good questions.  

Here are a few moments we've had lately that make me sigh/cringe/cry/honestly admit that I just don't know:

- Receiving a Mother's Day card from a child who, six months ago, cried himself to sleep clutching a picture of his mother.  He didn't make one for her.

- Being asked why all the white people live "up here" and all the black people live "down there" and how comes they aren't mixed up more?  Is it because the black people don't have cars?

- Explaining to him why we are going on vacation without him (can you say guilt??)

- Discovering that he helped my 2 year old hide the pants that she wet because he was afraid I would beat her up if I found out she had wet her pants.

- Finding the pants he had wet in the bottom of the garbage can.

- Getting a "your 6 month dental checkup is due" notice for a little boy you miss and wonder about, and then having him back in your house the very next day.  Guess I'll go ahead and make that appointment.

- Being asked by my daughter why he only has one pair of shoes when all the other kids have at least 3...and why doesn't he have Keen sandals too? (Amazon thanks her for this question...)

- Debating whether or not to wear the necklace with my kids' names on it because his name is not on there (if he noticed, he didn't say anything).

-Being asked why didn't nobody give him a blankie like the other kids got when they was born?  

- Discovering that even after all the time with us, he is still sneaking food in the middle of the night.

- Hearing him ask Lego how come he knows so many things?  Lego replied that he reads them in books, and then "B" asked how come he can read books himself?  Who taught him that?

- Discovering that he has been using our last name (phonetically spelled) on all his homework papers at school. 

Luckily, in the middle of all this yucky stuff we are still able to find a lot of love and a lot of humor, so I will leave you with the adorable apology note I received the other day.
"Sorry for bringing the dead bird in the house."

Friday, May 9, 2014

Taekwondo Weekend

It was a big Tae Kwon Do weekend for us...Flower tested for her green belt, I tested for my blue belt, and then the hubby tested for his half-black belt- which is kind of a big deal!  Here are a few photos.  Apparently I am just too incredibly fast to be captured on film...

Making the same face!

This is me breaking a board with an arm'll have to take my word for it! 

Again, I swear that is me...with Flower in the front!

Getting ready to demonstrate forms.

He had quite a cheering section!

I thought this was a cool shot of all the high belts testing.

Getting his belt- next stop, black belt!

Someone was tired out by all that watching.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The second call

We got a phone call this week that I think I can honestly say we were not hoping to get...the call that "B", the Kindergarten boy that we hosted from October to December of last year, needed a place to stay again.  We were not hoping for this call for several reasons:

We were hoping that his parent situation was working out well, he was safe, happy, loved, enrolled in school...everything we hope for all of our kids!

He was a challenging placement.  By the end of our time together, he knew just how to push our buttons, and I'm sad to say it was many of those times that came to mind first when our case coach called. 

This is a busy time of year- the last few weeks of school are upon us, we are getting ready to head out on a big summer road trip.  We thought that we might take one more child for just a week or two before we left.  Maybe even a squishy little baby- squeee!  Long placements take a lot more logistics and commitment than short ones- especially when the child is old enough to attend school. 

Our children, of course, set a much better example of Christ-like hospitality.  When we told them that "B" needed a place to stay for a few weeks, they jumped up and down with excitement and told us how much they had missed him, and could he come to the birthday party this weekend, and can he play t-ball too, and can we have popcorn and watch a movie when he gets here and this and that and the other thing they couldn't wait to do.  

So we said that we would take him, because convenient or not, we consider him part of the family and OF COURSE he will always have a home with us when he needs it.  And can I just say HOW GLAD WE ARE that we said yes!!

He is doing GREAT- in the past few months he has been living with his Dad and they have been working really hard to get on the right track.  He has grown an inch, lost some teeth, gained some serious arm muscles, and most excitingly, LEARNED TO READ.  READ!  

His first night back with us, he and I snuggled up and he read to me for over an hour.  Just that one hour alone was worth everything we've been through with "B." It was top 20 moments of my life type good.  He has gone from not knowing a single letter in October to READING in May.  Clearly he is a bright, bright boy who just needed to be pointed in the right direction.  As I type this, he is sitting at the table, going through his sight word cards by himself over and over, occasionally asking me a word or two.

What a blessing that we got a second chance with "B."  A chance to push back all the bad memories of our time together and remember the good ones- trick or treating with him dressed like a firefighter, a trip to the apple orchard, Thanksgiving, watching him play a shepherd in the Christmas Pageant.  He is done with his homework now, and heading out to ride bikes with Lego.  They four kids have been so happy to see each other again.  He has really slid right back into our family with ease.  Sure, he's the same old "B," but I am seeing him with a new perspective.  I know he won't be here forever.  I know I will miss him when he's gone.  I know I will worry about him and wonder about him.  And now I know that all the little things DO matter- his time with us changed his trajectory, even if only by a few degrees.

And even if he has us pulling out our hair again for the next few weeks (because undoubtedly it will happen), it is all worth it to see him thriving.  It is such a blessing.  And who knows...we may just get to play a part in his life for a bit longer, even after he returns to his Dad.  Funny how these things work out!

Friday, May 2, 2014

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.