Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Soccer, DeLaynie Style

DeLaynie had her first soccer game last Wednesday. It was quite the experience. I'm not totally sure that she's an athlete. My mom has suggested swimming, and I'm beginning to think it's her only shot at sports. I would love to say, "At least she's enjoying it," but she isn't. For right now we're pushing her through the season for the sake of perseverence. Oh, and we're taking lots of pictures that I'm pretty sure will be humorous later in life, such as the ones below.

"See no soccer ball; kick no soccer ball."

I think that half-time was the highlight for DeLaynie. She got to have a juicebox.

She did look awfully cute in her pigtails, so it may be worth it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The First Step of Many (I Hope)

When I was seventeen, I was called into the ministry. God was very vague in His calling because He knows just how impatient I can be. (First date to marriage in ten months. Need I say more?) At first I thought that His calling referred singularly to being a pastor's wife. God has slowly clarified His plan over the years until it has become very apparent that this internal drive is pushing me toward women's ministry.

Obviously, the grossly under-reached area in which we live does not have a fantastic women's ministry center for me to go and apply for work. Thus, this ministry is beginning very slowly, mostly through Sunday School. This week I began to build a website with a dual purpose of supplying the women in the class that I teach with information that they need for a challenge that I placed before them and giving a bit of form to this new idea.

(You can check out the website at consumedbygrace.org.)

I'm not sure of how far this will go. It may end before it begins. My hope is that CBG will grow enough that it will be able to generate some support by the time all of our kids will be in school, which will probably be four or five years from now since we haven't quite completed our set. For right now, it's enough to keep me busy and keep me excited. I am absolutely convinced that the world could be turned upside-down if the people of God really understand the Word of God. I only have one life, and I want to spend it well. I can't imagine a better use of these few years that I have on this orb than to support my husband, raise God-loving children by His infinite grace, and teach women how to apply the Bible to every facet of their lives.

It seems too good to be true, but I know that my God deals in all things that are too good to be true.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lessons Learned

After completing a very short stint as a foster family, I thought that it would be beneficial (for me, at least) to compile a list of things that I learned through the experience.
  • Sometimes incomplete information can help make for better decisions. We had said that we weren't going to take a girl, and that we weren't going to take in a child over Ella's age. We ended up compromising both because we were told that the kids would be split up. After a few weeks, we realized that we really should have stuck to our guns. From here on out, we aren't going to find out all of the information unless what we already know aligns with our family policies.
  • Bleach isn't nearly as dangerous as I once thought. I know this because our foster daughter had a bad habit of trying to be a mommy instead of a little girl. One of the boys' sippy cups had some old milk in it, so I filled it with a bleach and water solution. It was in the kitchen sink when she decided that the boys "needed" some water. I didn't realize that she had even taken the cup until I went to do dishes. "I knew that there was a sippy cup in here," then it occurred to me that I had seen her running through the dining room with sippy cups. I may have had a slight heart attack. When I found the cup, it still smelled like bleach, even though it was obvious that she had poured out the solution that had been inside. Poison Control was very kind, and informed me that it really wasn't a big deal at all. Even if he had sipped on a cup of straight bleach, she wouldn't be worried. And that is how I learned that bleach isn't as dangerous as I had thought.
  • My kids are easy. Okay, so DeLaynie has some special challenges. Okay, they have moments where they make me want to pull my hair out. But overall, they are wonderfully behaved, obedient, sweet, little girls, and this experience has taught me to appreciate them better.
  • Just because you want to help someone, doesn't mean that you can. We came to a place when we realized that we just couldn't parent our foster daughter while parenting the other four. Our goal was to make it to the day that the kids could go to their birth mom again. We did, but just barely. It's a horrifying thought that there is a person that you just can't help. The last thing I ever want to communicate is that someone is so broken that they are beyond fixing. Although I believe that she is very capable of living a healthy life, I don't believe that we are the people to help her get there. At least, we can't help her without allowing our girls or her little brothers to go without some of the basic parenting that they desperately need. Even in trying to do the work of God, I can't forget that I am not God. I can't do everything. Doing a good thing is only good as long as I do it well, after all.
  • Good parenting is even more important that I realized. I have those moments of concern when I'm not sure if I am doing a good job, and every once in a while I may think that a certain choice or decision was particularly good. The stark contrast between our children and the foster kids really helped me understand that involved parents make a world of difference. I came to understand that the discipline that we have instituted from birth (without much thought, to be honest) has resulted in happier kids. I have become much more structured over the last three years, but even when I was a pretty "fluid" mom, there was discipline and consistency, and I never realized how much of a difference that makes.
  • Perfect parenting is not a pre-requisite to good parenting. As I mentioned earlier, I am not a perfect mom. I make more mistakes than I care to list. When trying to foster parent, I made mistakes several times a day. Still, by the end of our time with the kiddos, in just seven weeks, they were talking better, behaving much better, and they were most definitely happier. Good parenting is more tied to dependency on Christ than to our own perfection. Although we will fail, He will not. He will use every imperfect act of faith to the benefit of our children and to His own glory. I have come to a place where I am comfortable saying that any good parenting that takes place in this home is a direct result of a relationship with Christ that overflows into our parenting methods.
Despite all of my ignorance, I serve the omniscient Creator. I will never understand how anyone can function without Him. I only know that I can't.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Strange Day

Today our foster children went with their mom... for good. Well, almost for good. They'll be back for one night because of the policies regarding overnight visits and some mis-placed paperwork. However, they're with their mom for the next week, and I'm here, suddenly without the kiddos that I have gotten incredibly used to thinking about constantly. It's an odd feeling.

Although I'm having an interesting time trying to adjust, I came to the sudden realization that five kids is a few more than I can handle without aging at break-neck speeds. I mean, look at this:

The picture on the left was taken in June when DeLaynie graduated from Pre-K. The picture on the right was taken a couple of weeks ago. I'm not looking for consolation. It is beyond argument that I have aged in the last seven weeks.

My brother and husband assure me that most of those terrible wrinkles are due to the bags under my eyes, and that sleep will cure them very quickly. I remain doubtful.

On the other hand, Edwin had a habit of referring to me as a saint during our time as foster parents, so I can assume that wrinkles and sainthood are somehow linked, as evidenced below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to Mimi School

Ella returned to what we have entitled Mimi School. It is really a daycare that she attends two mornings a week in order to learn socialization skills, some pre-reading skills, and let mommy have a break skills. Don't tell her that, though. This morning Ella was absolutely sure that she would get to go to big kid school in two weeks. She was rather disappointed at the notion of two years.

Unfortunately, she's not much for posing. She is fun to capture on film when she has no idea that you're snapping a photo, but once she discovers your intent, she gets silly. Thus, I have only one picture of her alone, and the silliness quotient is still high. 

I have no idea what this expression is all about, but it's entertaining.

Ella saw a school bus and became deeply concerned that DeLaynie  was going to miss her ride. We drive her to school.

And this is the closest thing to a good picture that I could get of the two of them. They really weren't in photo-taking moods today.

You may be wondering how DeLaynie's first day of kindergarten went. The truth is that I really don't know. She seemed pretty frazzled when I picked her up yesterday. I think that transitioning to life without an aide is a little more challenging than DeLaynie and I anticipated. I'm sure that she'll adjust, but it may take her a little longer than we thought.

Our foster daughter also began school today. Right now I'm at home with the two boys. Uncle Micah is taking a time-out. He's already allowed me to go for a walk.

I just realized that I totally forgot to mention the fact that my brother is here to stay with us for a while. He got here on Friday, and he has been extremely helpful so far. He's done dishes and changed diapers and everything! It's pretty awesome having some extended family around. Ella's already bummed that he's only staying until Christmas.

Anyway, there are many things to get done while having the "break" of only having two little ones. (I think that used to seem hard? Weird!) So I will sign off for now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Kindergartener!

DeLaynie began kindergarten today. The excitement was somewhat tempered because of her previous school experience. She's been in school for two years, but this will be her first year completely mainstreamed. She won't have an aide to make sure that she interacts. She will be receiving therapy for speech and motor skills, but she is in full-out kindergarten for a vast majority of the day.

For comparing/contrasting purposes, here is a picture from her first day of school last year:

And this is a picture from her first day of school in 2009, when she was just three (that's Ella's age!):

And here are the scarily big girl pics from today:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Asthma's Stupid

Somehow, it was completely lost in the shuffle that our middle foster child has asthma. (There's a reason that God created families, not case files.) It was no one's fault in particular, but the poor kid went over a month without a single breathing treatment. The first clue that we got was a simple cough that quickly turned into a pair of crackly lungs.

I've had absolutely no experience with asthma, and Edwin (my childhood asthmatic husband) was out of town. His birth mom called on Friday to see if he'd received a breathing treatment to help clear his lungs. I was taken aback. He has asthma? Good grief!

Thus we spent last Friday night in an ER so that we could get him on breathing treatments immediately . He went to his regular pediatrician with his mom on Monday, who decided to put him on FIVE breathing treatments a day. I'm sure that such procedure is completely necessary since he hadn't had a single treatment in more than a month, but...

Picture trying to get a 2 1/2 year old boy to breathe in magical, healing steam while the other four kiddos run around frantically. Obviously, he doesn't appreciate my concern one bit. Just as obvious is the opportunism that the other children show during these times of distraction. It never ends with a cleaner house than when it began.

Because things are typically so quiet and easy to manage...

Did you buy that? Yeah, me neither.

These little things are slowly piling up to create a massive mountain (made mostly from laundry) that only faith can move.

Thus I now proclaim:
Asthma is stupid!