Friday, December 2, 2016

Life is like a wild ride on Friday

I have this cat.
Her name is Peyton.
She really doesn't hang around home much.  She usually comes running from somewhere else when it's dinner time.  She does not hang around home, waiting for people to come outside or return from somewhere, waiting to greet them.  That's her sister, Homer.  Homer is a perfect name for her b/c she rarely leaves home base.  Homer follows you anywhere and everywhere, a faithful kitty to the end.  Not that Peyton isn't, it's just that she is literally going places and doesn't care if you are there or not.  She's adventurous and that's cool too.
But Peyton, oh Peyton, she got the ride of her life today.  A whole new adventure that just might make her more of a Homer.  (It would for me, but maybe not.  Maybe Peyton is just so much of a tough girl that this won't matter.)
Peyton.  This cat.  Can you tell where she is?
Oh yeah, she's on the truck.  Not that.  She sleeps on the hood of my truck a lot.  When the kitties were little they used to sit on top of the tires, in the wheel wells.  Being on top of the truck is not that big of a deal.  The better question is WHERE IS THE TRUCK?  Yes, we have a flagpole at our house, but no that is not OUR flagpole.  Think of buildings in your community that have a flagpole and think of where a stay-at-home momma and her 4 kids would go at 8 in the morning....yeah?  You got it now?

YES.  That is my crazy cat, on top of my truck, at my kids' school.  That is 2.6 miles away from my house.  To which, I drive 40-50 mph for part of the way.  This cat.  You guys, I am so not a cat person.  They are cute and funny and have killed mice and chippies and kept the woodpeckers off the house and I am so grateful for that but - THIS CAT.

So I pull into a parking spot at school and get out of my truck...and I hear this LOUD MEWING.  There is a lot of noise in the school parking lot, not to mention my 4 kids clamoring and arguing about who gets out first or who gets a quarter for candy canes or whatever.  This loud mewing rises about the rest of the stuff and I have a moment - is that a cat?  Is that a cat under/in my truck?  Oh crap - where's Peyton?!  I start to walk around, thinking I'm going to look under the truck and nope.  There she is, hunkered down under the spoiler.  Side note - is that thing there to make us feel like we are cool and we might race this big bus, or does it actually serve a purpose?  Like, will I roll my truck if I don't have one holding me down?  Don't answer that, I promise I won't remove it.  Back to the cat.  She is starting to stand up and making so much noise people are noticing.  Yep.  This is me.  This is my life.  "Is that your cat?"  My 8am snarky self wants to respond, "No, I'm Samantha Stevens, one of my kids was grumpy this morning and I just turned them into a cat.  And made them ride on the roof."  But my 'be-nice, these-people-are-normal-and-Dutch' self just smiled and nodded.  Yes.  That's my cat.

I kissed my kids and promised them to get Peyton down, told them to tell all their teachers about their crazy cat and their crazy mom.  They didn't want to leave.  I told them I'd turn them into cats.  Go to school!  We all had a good laugh.  And then I turned them into cats.  KIDDING.  It's Friday, ok, I am trying to laugh at all this!!!  I reached for Peyton, worried she would be pissed at me, but I was wearing gloves and figured I probably deserved her wrath anyway.  She didn't want to come down, but I grabbed her and tucked her under my arm.  This cat.  She just went for the ride of her life, but I wasn't going to let her repeat that.  I brought her in and set her on the passenger seat.  She wanted in my lap, but listen people, I am not going to have a cat on my lap while I drive!  I am not a crazy cat lady!  I may be crazy, I may be a cat lady, but I am not a crazy cat lady.  I moved her back and she decided to go check out the rest of the vehicle, letting me know her displeasure.  So I drove home w/a cat talking to me, praying to God that she didn't get crazy and freak out, jumping on my face or something while I drove.  I pulled over to take the next picture of her, remembering to fully document this event for her kitty baby book.  Nope.  But I did want to take a picture for me to remember.  I have a terrible memory, relying on photos to remind me of stuff all time.  I just don't do well w/details, so when the kids ask me about a vacation we took, or where did we eat that cool TX shaped waffle, I look back at the photos to remember.  Of course the waffle was in TX!!  I remembered that, it was a joke.  But seriously, photos help my memory.  Anyway - here is the queen in her carriage, headed for home.  She's probably checking on her loyal subjects.  Making sure none of them have a cat on their roof.

You know me, I'm always trying to glean some life lesson from stupid things that happen to me.  The obvious one here is to check the roof for cats before leaving.  I laugh at my life sometimes!  Never thought I'd be doing 90% of the stuff I am doing!!  But I really don't like obvious stuff.  I like the weird and quirky stuff - which is why I like my life.  I am choosing to look at this situation a little differently.  Sometimes, your life is like a wild ride on a Friday - hanging on to the roof spoiler of a big white SUV.  And gosh, it's dangerous and not recommended and you never want to do that again!  But when it's over - it's over.  You're safe.  Sometimes the adventure serves as a reminder that we do hard things.  Life can't all be sleeping, treats, playing in the long grass in the really makes no sense to worry about the possibility of hard things.  If you choose to sleep on the truck, you might find yourself at school.  But if you don't sleep on the truck, you might never feel that warm engine mixed w/the slanting morning sun.  So many times people ask why would do foster care, why we would choose to enter into a relationship that we might not be able to continue forever.  People have asked why we would subject 'our kids' to other kids' possible issues or behaviors.  They want to know why we take risks when life is good, why don't we shield and protect ourselves from hurt or loss.  Oh we do.  We just make sure to sleep on the truck every once in a while.  B/c if we don't, we miss out on things.  We miss out on the chance to love a kid, even if it's for just a little while.  If you knew a kid needed a lunch, wouldn't you share yours?  Or would you eat it, while they watched?  I bet every single one of you would share or give up your lunch.  It's like that w/love.  Once you know a kid needs it, you can't NOT give it to them.  Lately some kids in my house are going through some stuff.  I am just going to blame growing pains.  They need me.  I feel drained and like I don't have much left to give.  But get this - I am digging deep inside myself and putting 50millionthousandpercent into loving them.  I am not a stay calm person.  I have my own self and my own growing pains I'm working on.  Seriously - I drove to school w/a cat on my roof.  BUT - I love these little people so much I have been working so hard to stay calm.  They need it.  They need me.  I'm not perfect but I'm doing it.  The other day, I calmly handled a situation and a kid melted in my arms.  Sleeping on the truck/taking a risk on this little person = worth it.  It's a wild ride.  But it's Friday.  And sometimes you look back on that ride and think about how funny it was and the thrill becomes a happy memory.

Monday, November 21, 2016

And the beat goes on

I know that in the past, I have posted about my daughter's progress w/her feeding tube and there was a celebratory post when she had her 'button' removed...I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but as a baby (before she came to us) she had heart surgery.  This means we have yearly (or more often!) trips to the nearby children's hospital for heart check ups.  Recently her blood pressure was really elevated, to the point that we had MANY appointments in a short amount of time.  Anyway - today was another one, mostly to check to see if the meds are working.  I almost always try to schedule appointments like this in the AM, just in case they run long or add some other procedure to our day, so we can get back before dark.  The days get long and especially in the winter, I really hate driving in the dark!  At the last appointment, they informed me that the doctor would only be in a few days during the month of November, making scheduling an important appointment difficult.  They came back to tell me he had one appointment left!  It wasn't until 1pm, but it's not like I can say, "Nah, skip it!" or whatever!  I mean it's just her heart, right?  That's not too important...(<---sarcastic font="" p="">So today we went and as always she is weighed before going into the room.  I've been hoping she would break the 50 lb mark soon - she's seem to have stalled out at 48!  The nurse today said she was 51 point something something and I just danced!!!  I called her beefcake and got a wry sneaky smile out of her.  Then in the room, the nurse took her blood pressure (just in her arm this time, lately they've been doing a lot of arm and leg combos) and she said it was only 107 over something!  WAY LOWER than in the past!!!  I didn't even bother listening to the last number - maybe I'm a terrible mom or whatever, but they give you the printout anyways...In less than a half hour we got 2 pieces of good news!!!  The doc came in, pleased as punch that the #s looked good and he sent us on our way!  I had planned to pick up somethings I had ordered online at a nearby mall, so we headed over there w/time to kill.
It's pretty rare that this girl enjoys spending much time w/me - we do spend a lot together due to these types of appointments and just b/c I'm the primary person home, but she is just not that into me.  Part of it is due to her history w/her birthmom and well, let's be honest, how many mother daughter combos do you know that are all sunshines and rainbows?  Knowing this, I figured she would not be into window shopping for Christmas presents...that and she usually wants to get back to school for science, her favorite.  Apparently knowing we weren't getting back in time for anything, or maybe it was just the right mood or day or who knows?! meant that she was more than happy to be there w/me.  She held my hand and laughed at my jokes and didn't once beg me to buy her something or obsess over a certain object or toy.  I offered her crazy corn (my mom used to buy us that from Buddy Squirrel at the mall!) but she wasn't hungry.  We hit up the Lego store, the anchor stores, and even went to all 3 floors of the Boston Store.  We looked for a birthday present for Daddy (found an expensive one!!  I might look for it online...) and tried to find books for cousins.  At one point my phone rang and it was about some foster care stuff that really aggravated me.  There was a problem and I had to make a bunch of phone calls to clear some things up.  Other people made a mistake and I was stuck in the middle, far away from all of them to work it out.  I felt drained and mad.  I hung up from one of the calls and she was sweetly holding a blanket?napkin?placemat? made of fur at Pottery Barn.  She gave me this big smile and asked if we could decorate our whole house in it!  HA!  I instantly forgot all about the issue and we carried on w/our day.  It was a good day - one I wanted to be sure to remember =)

Monday, November 14, 2016

One minute

One minute you are an almost 20 year old young woman, wearing wide legs jeans and a knit tank top, rocking out at a concert, a ska band on the stage, singing all the words to the song and jumping around...
...and the next you are an almost 40 year old mom, driving all over God's green Earth for her kids like some sort of taxi service, rocking out to the same ska band on the radio, singing all the words to the song and weaving all over the road!  I swear I blinked.  When I was young, I had no clue what life was going to be like for me.  I figured I would make a plan and all would go ACCORDING TO THE PLAN.
After the song ended, I had a good laugh and just thanked the Lord for the way things turned out.  I am that crazy momma who dances and sings in the car!!!  I had fun at the concert when I was 20, I'd probably have fun if I went now, too, but honestly, car karaoke is fun too!
I've been having conversations w/some of the kids about what life will be like when they get to be adults.  A big one is about how adults don't always get to do what they love for a job.  Sometimes they put their personality, hobbies or interests aside just so they can pay for a house, food and whatnot.  There are some people who get to do art as their job or something else they love, but not many...stark reality and all that, right?   I realized the irony of the conversation in the middle of a sentence and nearly choked on my words!  I am one of those people who gets to do what she loves!  Ok, well not the cooking and cleaning part...HA!  No but seriously.  "Must be nice"...Why, yes, thank you, it is.  I get to be there for my kids when they see the doctor, I get to accompany them to counseling, I get to be the one who picks them up from school, I get to be the one who is always there.  I say good morning, have a good day at school, how was school and good night.  I get to be that person for them.  I am very blessed!
In other news - I am looking forward to the holidays.  Bert and Ernie joined our family in Jan of this calendar year, so we just missed the holiday season w/them.  This year we get to do all the traditions as a family =)  I have heard of people sleeping in their living rooms by the light of the Christmas tree and I always thought that wouldn't work for us, sleep issues and all...but I'm thinking we might try it this year?  I think there are a few things we can do to help w/the 'issues' and it might be good bonding!  Of course we are looking forward to seeing family (at least the ones around here) and spending time w/friends who are family.  Last year I bought a ton of gifts online and I was AHEAD of the game!  For once in my life!!  This year - notsomuch.  Haven't even started.  I'd love to make some gifts, but we'll see how much time we have.  It's been seriously difficult lately and I'm blaming the weather.  It's so nice outside!  Who wants to be in when you could be out?  NOT ME.  I love love love (one more!) love snow, but this is ok too.  There will be plenty of days of snow (there'd better be, you hear me global climate?!) and this works for now.
Well, last post I challenged myself to write 6 times this month.  Hmmm....the month is half over and this is entry 2!!!  I'll have to up my game next time w/some photos.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

By the numbers

296 days.  The boys (Bert and Ernie) have lived here for 296 days.  Their TPR trial was just rescheduled (again).  Also, 3 is the number of social workers they have had during that time.
6 times.  The number of times I hope to write a blog post this month.
10 chickens, 2 cats and 0 injuries, deaths or disappearances lately!  In fact, the chickens have begun laying eggs regularly again, the cats have killed an inordinate amount of chipmunks and mice!  I think they have scared away most of the wood peckers too.  I'm a little bummed about not seeing as many of the birds around, but impressed at the lack of rodents!
6 is the number of loads of laundry I did today!  It was a lot of bedding and blankets...we cleaned out the camper so I did that laundry too.  I always hated the thought of using a dryer but I must have thought I was thankful for it at least 3 times today!  It's so damp here during this time of year.
4 people were messed up by the time change.  I just rolled w/it and actually got out of bed to get myself ready for church on time!
5 rooms need to be vacuumed.  Well, probably more, but there are only 5 that bother me.  Floors are one of the last things that get done around here!  5 is also the number of vacuums we own!  3 regular, one shop vac and 1 small one in the camper.  AMERICA!!!  (<----i a="" almost="" at="" be="" could="" different="" ep.="" every="" first="" house="" i="" if="" in="" keeping="" means="" nbsp="" notice="" o="" of="" or="" ostentation.="" out="" p="" person="" point="" pretentiousness="" re="" room.="" same="" shout="" show="" single="" stereotypical="" that="" the="" this="" time="" track="" vacuuming="" world="" you="">From 3 to 2 nights, we have gotten the YMCA schedule whittled down!  There are other things in town on other nights, but it now means we have at least two nights, some times 3, where we all sit around our dining table and talk about our day.  Just in time too - w/the holidays around the corner, life is getting busy and I need a few more doses of these little people.  They make me laugh and remind me of why I love my job!
Sadly, I have only been to the Y to take advantage of the classes or machines 1 time.  I missed zumba so much and I was determined to get there one night.  Checked the schedule (not well enough) and grabbed my gear.  Asked the front desk where it was meeting, but found no one in the gym.  It turns out I was a whole hour early!!  The next week was rough and I ate banana bread and vegged out.  We'll see if I get there this week.
2 people I know are in process to adopt privately right now.  I think there is at least one w/an adoption date through the public system and then there's us.  Between my family and friends I am currently in touch w/, I know of probably 20+ children who have been adopted.  It's National Adoption Month and so many things have come through my social media sites....lots of articles, cheeky memes and touching sayings...I take it all in and I am reminded how I never thought I'd be in this position.  My plan for my life did not include this.  That is not a complaint or anything, just acknowledging the fact that life sometimes has surprises in store for you!  Here I am, happier than a clam in sand, to be counting my blessings!
Sorry this post is so disjointed - it's been a rather mixed up couple of days and I really wanted to get a few things down....I'm ready to get back into writing more often!

Monday, August 15, 2016

In other news, the mid-year update

Animal news: We have outdoor cats!  Homer (named after our good friends!) and Peyton (the kids wanted to name it that for my football boyfriend!) turned out to be girls =)  I am not a cat person.  In fact I hate them.  But...the kitties are so cute...and they come when called...and they go for walks w/us...and they have already killed multiple rodents!  I also think they have scared the woodpeckers away, which is good for our house.  The kitties are adorable, though.  We wanted them to be handled enough so they were used to people and so far that plan is working more than well enough!
House/Home/Property news:  We are on the verge of upgrading the heating system and doing a few other updates.  We have more pictures and decor on the walls, I've been using a recipe from the neighbor to keep the deer away from my flowers/plants and I have a few more garden plants this year!  In the spring we made some bridges and we were able to get across to the first ridge of our wooded acres w/o getting wet - the kids had fun helping w/that!  There is so much to see along the winter we hike the whole property since the swampy areas freeze over, but it's been neat seeing some parts of the property in another season.  We just set up a swing set in the yard and oh my, all the swinging - I knew the kids would love it and it is already paying off in more ways than one.
Camping: In June we were able to take 2 mini trips!  The boys did well on their first and second times camping.  We've taken even longer trips since then, been to multiple states and there was only 1 injury and very little damage to the camper.  (It seems something always gets broken, goes wrong, etc, but not this time!)  Everyone stayed healthy!!!  All these wins make us want to go again...
Dave: Spent part of the 4th of July night in a kayak on Lake Michigan, watching one of the neighbors' fireworks show.  Yes, we have neighbors who live on the lake and personally fund a really good fireworks display!  We have no idea who they are and honestly I don't think they do it on the same day every year.  But you know what day it is going to be by the fact that they light one off every half an hour all day!  It's kind of funny, but it works!  When we're home, he works on things like fixing the well, re-doing my garden fence (repeatedly!), and cutting brush from the woods edge.
Moses: Finished out the school year at the local school w/his brothers and sister.  He was like a celebrity - every day the others would tell me where and when they spotted him!  This past season in gymnastics he competed in his first USAG meet and we were impressed.  He is still into music, reading, drawing, drama and sports.  He only has a few inches to go before he surpasses me height-wise, which of course is something he likes to bring up often.  He got braces this year.  Much different experience than when I was a kid!  It's so odd to be in that stage of life where your kids are going through stuff you actually remember doing as a kid yourself.
Colleen: This girl...she is a science and robot junkie.  We read about them, watch Battle Bots, talk about science experiments from 3rd grade and pontificate on the ultimate robot we would build.  She's been doing some physical therapy lately and I think we'll keep that up.  Strengthening your core is good for everyone, but it's a necessity for her.  She's been relishing the big sister role, not in a bad way, but in a way that we've never seen before.  Pretty cool stuff!!
Bert: Demands adoption day is tomorrow.  =)  I cannot wait for the day when he can wake up and I can tell him that YES - TODAY IS ADOPTION DAY!!!  Both Bert and Ernie did soccer camp this summer and the Ninja Mud run.  Despite his reservations, Bert took off like a shot from the starting line and showed no signs of being winded or tired.  I barely could keep up to take photos!!  He loves all things sports and yes, so do we!
Ernie: We call him the mayor.  He greets everyone, chats and makes friends.  For you adoption/foster care folks, yes, we are working on boundaries and being safe around random people.  But there are times that he makes a friend out of the older gentlemen in the checkout line or the cute little girl at the pool and you just have to laugh!  He knows what their fave color is, what they like to eat, and where they're going next!  Apparently he would make a good interrogator....?  Anyway - he was so proud to do soccer camp like the big boys!  I can't believe he will be in all day school this year...
As for me...I'm hanging on for the ride!  I've been emotional eating, slacking in the cleaning department and letting some other personal goals slide.  The beginning of this calendar year was rough but we are coming out of that.  My eating habits got wack, my attitude was up down and around and I sort of hid out.  HOWEVER - not to make excuses but some of those things were what I needed.  What we needed.  There really wasn't much time for friends nor did I feel like making any.  I sort of felt whiny and 'not fair'ish.  But like I said, I'm coming out of it and sorting my feelings out.  I am once again making goals, only they will start when the school year starts.  I have a few plans and I have a few things in place to help me accomplish (or at least begin) them.  That's a pretty big step for me to get things back on track.  (I'll write about the goals in a diff post.)  I got to see 3 of my best friends recently and that really makes a girl feel special!!  It sucks that we live so far away but they encourage me and spend time w/our family which really means a lot.  I'm grateful for all my many people who might not understand this journey we are on but don't bail on us when life gets crazy!  You know what else helps me this time of year?  I LOVE FALL - I can't wait for pumpkins, apples, leaves everywhere and the promise of snow!!  Summer's great, but nothing can top fall!!

Rumor has it...

The TPR trial will begin Oct. 31.

(TPR = Termination of Parental Rights)

It's about time!!!  Bert and Ernie have been in foster care for YEARS.  We are their 2nd pre-adoptive placement.  They've been w/us almost 8 months.  The TPR process was started before they joined our family.  If it wasn't, I'm certain we would not have received a TPR date 8-10 months into the placement.  So this is foster care and adoption in WI...laws are different in each state.  Each case is unique.

All that being said...we are counting this as forward progress!!  And we are excited for that!!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Adoption is...

Adoption is like going fishing.

(Betcha didn't see that one coming, did you?)

Fishing: You check the weather, gather your equipment and supplies, get in the boat or stand on the banks of a body of water, cast, and wait.

Adoption: You find a time that is right for your family, do the paperwork and go to classes, get a call/maybe see photos or meet the child, receive a placement and wait.

Fishing: The fishing hole/lake/pond/river is huge.  There's a lot of other stuff in the water.  The chances of catching a fish are not guaranteed.

Adoption: There are so many kids waiting...there are many possible obstacles.  (Keeping it real!)  Also in the interests of honesty, nothing is guaranteed until a judge declares the adoption legal and official.

Fishing: You have to keep quiet or you might scare the fish away.

Adoption: You can't blab much about the case, confidentiality rules apply.

Fishing: You need patience.  Boat loads!

Adoption: You need patience.  Boat loads!

Fishing: This hobby can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  You can buy a boat, fancy lures and poles, go out on a chartered excursion or you could get a used pole and look for worms in your back yard.

Adoption: Private adoptions can be expensive.  Adoption through the state programs can be free.

Fishing: Worth it.  I'd be willing to bet that even when they don't catch anything, just about any fisherman will tell you they enjoy their time spent fishing.

Adoption: Worth it.  I'd be willing to be that just about any person whose life has been touched by adoption will tell you all about it!

(My daughter Colleen is adopted through the state foster care system.  We are also in the process of adopting two brothers.  Please know that the topic of adoption is very near and dear to my heart!  I may sound like I'm being silly by comparing adoption to fishing, but the issue of adoption is a huge one and I can't possibly explain EVERYTHING it is to me.  It brought me my daughter...adoption made it possible for me to love someone as my own even though we share quite possibly no DNA whatsoever...adoption was hard, it is beautiful, it is a tragedy that created a victory...and so much more!  When I find myself unable to fully express myself, like in this case, I often crack jokes and use humor to make a point.  That's sort of what I'm doing this fishing analogy is part joke but also part serious.  I hope that makes sense!!  As always, please feel free to email me or talk to me in person if you want to know more about adoption.  I'm always willing to talk about one of my favorite topics!)