Monday, August 31, 2009

Autumn's Success

Still a little wobbly- especially when getting mounted.

Doing great!

Ready for another great start!

Autumn did it! She can ride her two-wheeled bicycle now without help! She has been really working hard on this skill over the summer. The last time we practiced, Carl and I were surprised that she hadn't mastered it- as she was able to go several yards- passing three residences. Now, she can conquer whole blocks! Yesterday, while Carley and I were napping, Carl took the big kids out to ride. Autumn can now start on her own. She is also getting better at braking and maneuvering around things. We're so proud of her!
Carl took Billy and Autumn to the park on their bikes and then to their school. It was an exciting day for them both- leaving the block to ride. It's awesome to share this experience with her. We hope she can show mom soon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The First Day of School 2009

Ian with his teacher
The big kids first day (Thursday)
I have been waiting for this day for it seems like forever. But I have to say, it has been a little
bittersweet. Sure, I'll have much quieter and productive days. Yes, I'll get to have some special time with my little girl, but the big kids are gone. Summer is over. There's so much I didn't get to do with them. Summer is never long enough, I guess.
Each of them took the first day of school a little differently. Autumn seemed a bit scared and apprehensive. Billy was excited and hopeful and Ian was just plain giddy. When I told Ian goodbye he said "Just go already Mom" and gave me a little "shoo" movement of the hand. It was a little sad, but I just had to laugh at his obvious readiness. Autumn was very quiet (unusual for her), but I could tell she really wasn't sure what to expect. When she arrived home she seemed a little let down that she had a half-day, when Billy got to stay all day. And Billy- well, still Billy. He was vague with the details of his first day and couldn't remember any new names.
So, school has started. Soon we'll be moving onto Carley's potty training and then on to welcoming a new baby. We've got a busy year ahead of us. Here's hoping for the best!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harmony in the Home

You never truly miss something until its gone.
I'd like to begin my post by explaining that our home has never been perfect. We have never been completely without bickering. We have never had a spotless home. We have never been 100% on all things spiritual. But we have also never been so full of frustration either. The harmony of our home is not what it used to be. We used to laugh more. We used to hug more. We used to be really happy.
A wonderful and terrible thing has happened in our family since we opened it up and welcomed our foster child. We have learned about compassion, but we have learned how one child's example can be poison for the other children and parents. Autumn came into our home in just the way we were taught she would. There was a honeymoon period. She was sweet and listened well. She aimed to please. She always picked up after herself. A few time-outs and she was good to go. I thought we had struck gold. Then the behaviors began. First it was competitiveness. She and Billy (and eventually Ian) began trying to be the best and claim that title for everything. We dealt with it beautifully. We praised both for their abilities and talents and explained that each of these skills would come to the other in time. I was happy with myself as a new foster parent.
Then, we went on vacation. As a family, we went to see my dad and we did not bring Autumn. We left her with her past foster family, thinking she'd be happier visiting friends anyway. We did not expect her to feel abandoned. We did not expect her to lash out in anger upon our return. The hitting began. The tantrums grew worse. It was a nightmare. Still, we prayed and discussed between one another (Carl and I) and decided the best thing to do was to show Autumn that when people love you they don't leave you when you're bad. We stuck with her. We hit it hard with discipline- creative discipline. We assigned lines to write. We gave grounding punishments for whole days. We took away toys. We took away bedding (because it was thrown at us). And lastly, we took the bike. We broke her heart. We handled it. This seemed to work. Day by day she gained our trust back. We gave the bike back. We gave the toys back. We gave the pillows back. It worked.
Now Autumn is feeling the turmoil of her little life. As her days in foster care slip away she has become almost mean. She talks back. She makes up stories. She argues with my decisions. She snaps at the other kids. She glares at me. She ignores me. I just am not sure how much more I can take. I feel I have been so patient. I really do love this child. I have prayed over and over for more love for her. I know I can not give up on her. It is hard. I know passing her on to yet another foster home will do no good for her. And I would never get over the guilt of it. I need her to be good. I need to know she'll survive the struggles that await her (in going home or adjusting to a new home) after the permanency hearing. This is hard.
But I will perservere. Why? you ask. Because she is a child of God. He loves her. He wants me to be her caretaker during this difficult time. I know- because I've asked his permission to just let this all go. With Carl's proven record of consistency and support, I know we can make this work out for us and her. I know there is a lesson for our family in this great struggle. I know my children will always remember this service. And Autumn's life will be forever changed because of the lessons we teach and the love we give. I know it is the best for her... and us.
So, we are on to fight another battle. We are off to teach by love and perserverence. We will prevail.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Essay Assigned by Lisa V.

Question: Do you have a personal mission statement? Yes? No? If "yes" what are your experiences living by it? How has it changed the way you make decisions, treat people, etc?

Answer: I think I have had mini mission statements for various facets of my life.
For my marriage it has been "Never fight about money. It doesn't put any more of it in the account." That has been big for us. We have always done our best to make the most of what we have and spend what we don't when it means enriching our marriage at the most opportune times.
As for my kids, it's "they can be washed." I have tried not to stress over spilt juice, puddles of mud or dreaded paint. I try to let them be kids and remember the mess can be washed away *unfortunatly not wished away, but washed. Early in my marriage my house was sparkling and when the kids began being added to the family I stressed greatly over the messes. The stains in the carpet, the "might-as-well-throw-it-away clothes", they made me cry. To save my sanity, I decided they could be returned to their clean state.
And for the rest of the world, I stick with "Treat others the way you wish to be treated." I do my best to serve where I am needed and watch for opportunities compliment or be a listening ear. Most people are worth spending the time on, and the very few out there that just need to struggle through because they buried themselves in consequences will only allow themselves to become more self-centered when served. The hardest thing I've had to learn (and still continue to struggle with) is where that line lies. Just when I think I've found the line, I find myself stepping over it. Some individuals just need to learn to fix their lives themselves.