Sunday, May 31, 2009

Preparing for the Foster Care Homestudy

I am actually shocked at how much we need to do to get ready for this homestudy. My house is safe enough for my own kids, isn't it? But, after reading through the checklist earlier this week, I decided a few projects were needed before next Wednesday. I was careful to pick the "necessary" ones, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good time to get Mr. Prince motivated to do more....

Here is what we've done this weekend:

-replaced a light fixture in Sid the Science Kid's room that crashed down a few months ago
-replaced 2 rooms of plug plates that had originally been taken off for painting (one room is now painted, the other room still isn't)
-moved the crib in the girls' room to our master bedroom and the crib in our master to the boys' room (one is white and one is wood...I am anal...don't ask)
-I made make-shift curtains for the boys' room out of a twist up rod, rod clips and two fleece blankets, one Cars Movie and one Wall-E to be there until I can hand-make their curtains (I have similar make-shift ones in the girls' room)
-we added a few more locks on cabinets that Boo Boo has been interested in
-worked a little bit on the yard

Here is what we will be finishing tonight:

-adding a smoke alarm to our basement and upstairs since we are required to have them on all floors
-fixing some trim on our porch
-bleaching the walls in our mudroom of the slight mildew in the corners of the ceiling (we didn't have a vent in that room when we first put in our washer and dryer and it is not painted yet)

I'd still like Mr. Prince to get the yard in nice shape before Wednesday, but I know that won't affect our assessment. I'm not too worried about the homestudy, but the overall evaluation I am a little nervous about. Although I know in my head that all will work out as God planned it, that doesn't mean my heart won't be crushed in some way if we weren't approved for foster care.

We actually had an interesting situation arise this week along the lines of foster care. I got a phone call from my mother about a friend of my brother, Aaron, who was "wanting to have someone take her baby off her hands." My mom seemed to think she was a young mom with an infant and not much help. It was a long, emotional day trying to get a hold of my brother to get more details. I looked up this gal's MySpace account and found out she was a 19-year-old and the baby was a little girl that was probably around 8 months old. I talked to Mr. Prince about the whole situation when he got home from work and there was no question: we would take her in any situation.

We would take her to give her mom a break to see if this is really the decision she wanted to make.

We would take her if they wanted to give us immediate gardianship, even if we would get no help through the system (they live in a different state).

We would take her if they wanted someone to adopt her, no questions asked.

I finally got a hold of my brother late that evening and he said that she took the weekend off, her mother watched the baby, and she did a lot of soul-searching about making that type of decision. At this point Aaron believed that she was too attached to her baby to give her up, and although the baby's daddy was leaving for the summer, she was going to try hard to care for her herself.

I had mixed feelings when I got off the phone. Although I truly was in the mindset that this baby would probably stay with her family, and it was best that she do so, I was excited for the opportunity to help her. I am also still a little nervous about the safety of the child. A child unwanted is probably not treated well. So, I am praying this young lady stays in good emotional health and gets some additional help with her baby girl. I asked my brother to keep his eye on the situation, and if anything changes or he feels the baby is in danger, to contact authorities or myself and I could help guide him. I told him our offer to help will continue to stay on the table.

So, after going through that emotional roller coaster for one day, I think I'm a little better prepared for foster care! Needless to say, I'm anxious to hear about the status of our license at the end of June.

The Klan is Now Spoiled with a Backyard Playset!!


MommyK and Mr. Prince decided with a toddling Boo Boo who still takes a morning nap and a hot, pregnant Mommy, that our family would benefit from a backyard playset this summer. I researched playset for almost a month and we visit all the local shops in town. We knew we were on a tight budget saving up for a new van next year, so we had many limitations. Although we couldn't afford a brandname product that has a lifetime warranty and free installation, we did get a comparable playset with all the features we wanted and a 10 year warranty. Oh, and Mr. Prince had to put it together...

Some good friends of ours came over as a family one Wednesday and Mr. Jason helped Mr. Prince put the playset together. They worked from sun-up to sun-down with six children running around the backyard. By the end of the night the playhouse was constructed, the swings were up and the climbing wall was assembled. The ladder and slide would have to wait for another day, including all the accessories.


The follow Saturday the Klan spent the day outside and Mom and Dad finished the ladder and slide. The children were ecstatic! They have been enjoying it every day MommyK feels like going outside...HA! Accessories are still not up, but the importat parts are. Accessories will have to wait until after our homestudy on June 3rd.

Sid the Science Kid and Princess Pea testing out the playhouse.





Boo Boo LOVES his swing















He also loves Princess Pea taking him down the slide!

Sid the Science Kid Get a Glimps of "Real" School


Ok, I'd like to say I am extremely excited for this opportunity, but instead my stomach is doing flip-flops! I guess I'm just one of those mommies that can't let go...

Mr. Prince has worked at a summer clubhouse since I've know him. He started working at one a little further away a few years ago, but it's a better group of kids in a more upscale city. Well, he thought that this would be a good opportunity for Sid the Science Kid to experience "school." There are many homeschool families that attend the summer program and the families are more involved in their children's education than in Mr. Prince's inner-city teaching position. The negative influences that we worry about in public school will be almost non-existent in this environment. Mr. Prince knows each of the teachers, students and families very well and still feels very comfortable sending Sid there 8 hours a day for 4 weeks.

MommyK, on the other hand, isn't so easy to please. Thinking about him being gone 40 HOURS in one week seriously makes me ILL! My mother, known lovingly as Grandmama, is coming to watch Princess Pea, Angelica Pickles and Boo Boo for Sid's first day. But, now I'm thinking I need a sitter for the field trip days, too! Sid the Science Kid has never been on a bus, nor would know how to act on a bus. I told Mr. Prince he is required to sit with him on every bus ride, but I'm thinking I want to be there, too! Oh, these next few weeks will be challenging for me...

Sid the Science Kid's schedule consists of 8 classes, 2 recesses and an additional music class at the end of the day with the entire clubhouse crew (grades K-5th). His classes are math (which Mr. Prince teaches), reading, music, art, relationships (character building, table manners, etc.), chess (yes, they learn how to play chess!), gym and games (learning how to play different board games and such). He will actually change classrooms for each of these classes! I didn't do that until I was in 6th grade! For not having ever been in a school environment, I wonder if this experience will be too much for him. Which is precisely why I am attending the first day with him.

The clubhouse usually centers around a theme which is incorporated into music, relationships and reading. This year's theme is Patriotism. Now THAT is cool! Last year they did "Green Living" so I'm glad I like their theme this year.

Overall, I do agree this could be an awesome experience for him. And it only cost $10! Breakfast and lunch included - can't get a better deal than that! But, it will be difficult for me to send him off for that long each day. I also think he struggles some with obeying other authority figures, but I guess I'll get a good assessment of that, right? He is looking forward to the experience and I'm sure will fall asleep every day when he gets home! I'll keep you updated on his experiences.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Princess Pea, the Ballerina


Princess Pea had Parent's Day at her ballet class this week. I tried to take some clips and photos so Mr. Prince could see her later. The class is all 4-5 year-olds, most of them older than Princess Pea. She has really enjoyed Ms. Carol and we plan on returning in the fall. They don't do any recital, but the parents get to watch a daily lesson on Parent's Day to see what the girls have learned throughout the year. Ms. Carol explained all the movements and how they are related to dance while we were there. Princess Pea was adorable!!

Princess Pea is the third little girl in this clip. She has pigtails. She isn't as coordinated as some of the others with hopping, but Mom and Dad found it incredibly cute!

video

Here she is showing her skipping skills. Too funny!

video

Ms. Carol has the girls act out nursery rhymes with hidden skills they need to develop with ballet. I couldn't get that video to upload, but here is one of them dancing on their own. Notice Princes Pea in a purple tu tu and purple scarf watching herself in the mirror most of the time. So much like her father!

video

I struggle with making a decision between teaching my daughter to enjoy ballet, actually learning the skill of the dance and what this type of extra curricular activity will teach her in the end. The world of dance tells us we should be skinny and tall, we should starve ourselves to remain this way, and that dance should be the focus of our lives. I don't like those messages. We have a local "worship dance" troop in our city that I've considered sending her to, but I don't think they learn a lot about the skills and techniques of dancing. The question is, which is more important to instill into my daughters? Also, I believe it is incredibly expensive to either go to a dance studio that focuses on skills or the "worship dance" studio, so that leaves me in a rut anyway.

At four I want Princess Pea to enjoy dancing, and I teach her myself that she should dance for Jesus and do her best for Him. I tell her that being obedient to her teacher, even when others are not listening, makes God proud. Her class is definitely an interesting bunch, and I know Ms. Carol sometimes has a hard time getting them to focus. But, I am proud to say that Princess Pea comes home and tells me that she listens well and doesn't follow the other girls when they are "being bad." And at this point, that is all I expect of her.

You are gorgeous Princess Pea, inside and out! We are so proud of you!

Boo Boo Adventures


Boo Boo is finally walking!! He'll be 14 months next week and is transitioning between the preference to crawl and the preference to walk. He's my first baby to not walk at their 1st birthday party. He is also my first laid back baby, EVER! My first three are go-getters, did everything early and are strong-willed. Boo Boo didn't do everything late, but he was never at the top of his age group with physical abilities like my others were. It's been nice, though, in some ways.
Here he is with his ballerina sisters. They love to walk him around the house. He laughs the whole time!





























Here he is drawing on the magna-doodle. The boy is insistent he holds the pen correctly! If the string gets in the way or he starts out with a fist he'll get annoyed, throw it down and pick it up again "properly." Halarious!


Go Cardinals! Mr. Prince was NOT happy about this outfit I snuck on him Memorial Day!


Here is a video from a few months ago with him doing sign language. He really does communicate well with us for his age. He signs a few more words than this now.

video

This is me testing out my wrap with Boo Boo on my back. He's getting too heavy to put on my belly and sometimes hip slinging him can be tiring, too. Believe it or not, I put him on there with only my 6-year-olds help. And got him out, too! Can you tell who took the picture?


Boo Boo has already been claimed as our baseball player. (Sid the Science Kid is our soccer player.) Boo Boo loves balls and would tossed a ball with you since he could sit up. He also loves spatulas, bats and maracas and hits balls around the house with them. (He is right this moment throwing and chasing a ball over and over in the kitchen!)


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts on Training, Discipline and Parenting

I've always seen myself as the disciplinarian of the family, although my husband has definitely stepped up in the last few years. But, I am home with the children 24/7 and it seems to just work out that way. I have many goals in my parenting pursuits (additional ones as a homeschool mom), probably too many to list, but I'll try:

*I want my children to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:30)
*I want my children to display positive character traits. (Galatians 5:22)
*I want my children to be polite, respectful, giving, helpful, loving and compassionate to others, preferring others above themselves. (1 Peter 3:8, Romans 12:10)
*I want my children to enjoying being with family, be helpful and encouraging with younger siblings, be respectful and appreciative of extended family and have their parents be their greatest influence throughout their childhood into adulthood.
*I want my children to have a love for learning that carries into adulthood.
*I want my children to be well-educated, intelligent individuals.
*I want my children to develop in areas of strength in academics and spiritual gifts.
*I want my children to be able to well manage a home through training in upkeep of a home and financial peace.

Oh, there are plenty of others, but that's enough for now. With all of these goals, it's quite overwhelming raising 4, soon to be 5, little ones! Will I screw them up for life? Will they function well in society? I have read dozens of parenting, homeschooling and marriage books to help guide me. I have picked up great advice from many books, including:

Parenting:
Grace-Based Parenting by Kimmel
Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish
Bringing Up Boys by Dobson
Sheaparding a Child's Heart by Tripp
The Five Love Languages of Children by Chapman and Campbell
To Train Up a Child by the Pearls (read with some caution)
Finding Your Purpose as a Mom by Otto
When "No" Gets You Nowhere by Brenner
Creative Correction by Whelchel (haven't read all yet)

Homeschool:
For the Children's Sake by Macaulay
The Charlotte Mason Companion by Andreola

I can't think of the others at the moment, but you can see I haven't skimped on my parenting "research." Most of this was good, and I have tweaked my parenting with each new "revelation" on how children think, respond and are affected by their parents, discipline and so on.

But, of course, my children are not perfect. But, neither are yours, right? =) Although I know they will never be perfect, I still have struggles with certain areas of my parenting and often the same heartaches with individual children. As all moms know, it can be very frustrating and defeating at times. I look at families like the Duggars (who have 18 children) and other large families like theirs and wonder how they are so different from my family. Although I think my children are pretty good children, they are not the saints you see in these families. The biggest difference I can tell (because I can't move in with them for a week to see how their home runs) is the mom. They are all quiet, soft-spoken, gentle, relaxed, sweet women. They never raise their voice, never scold their children, never seem to have to even "raise" their children. Their children seem to be born obedient, loving and pleasant. Now, I know that is impossible, but what am I supposed to think? And I am NOT that type of mom. I am opinionated, not soft-spoken, loud and firm. And it makes me wonder if I can raise the family that I want. Raise godly children who serve Christ with their lives. Raise obedient, selfless children.

Well, I came upon the greatest "revelation" in my parenting pursuits in the last few weeks. I went to a few workshops at the local homeschool fair and met (for the second time) a family from our church that has written a book called The Well-Trained Heart (Ray and Donna Reish). I heard them speak on their book last year at the homeschool fair and actually purchased their book then, but haven't picked it up since. I went to two more workshops with Donna this year and was reminded of the value of the book I already possessed. Also, she didn't seem like that common soft-spoken, quiet mom, but she had the family I wanted! I had hope! Encouraged through the workshops, I went home and immediately started reading their book. My whole parenting world seems to turn on it's side with just a few insights from the Reishes.

Although I have not read the whole book yet, and have found a ton of great information, the greatest of these insights is the difference between disobedience or disrespect and childishness. Disobedience or disrespect is purposeful rebellion against the parent. The Reishes would say this should be punished with spanking and is the main discipline for children ages 1 to 4. Childishness is behavior such as forgetfulness, sloppiness, procrastination, etc. The Reishes define this as "underdeveloped character" and say it should be trained with "reality discipline," and spanking is not effective for such training. For example, if your 7-year-old gets distracted watching a video game his brother is playing when he's supposed to be emptying the dishwasher, then it's childishness that needs redirected. Or if it becomes a regular infraction, it needs "reality discipline." Reality discipline is a punishment that fits the crime, or something that would likely happen to him as an adult if he displayed the same behavior. So, in this case, taking away some of his "free time" later in the day because he already took some of it would be a reality discipline. This would help to remind him next time to finish his chores before relaxing. But, if your 14-year-old stopped to shoot some hoops before doing his chores, he is likely displaying disobedience, not childishness. There is a big difference.

So, after thinking a long time about my oldest, Sid the Science Kid, who I seems to have the most trouble dealing with, it became apparent to me how much of his behavior is actually childishness, and not disobedience. Often times when I've disciplined him he would say things like, "But, mom! If you would have reminded me to do that, then I wouldn't have disobeyed!" or "Mom, I just forgot. I just didn't remember." He would often get angry when I would punish him and act as if he wasn't being treated unfairly. I clearly saw that he did something wrong, but in his heart he did not purposefully disobey me. Looking back at some of our interactions, it was actually quite heart-breaking.

So, taking this information, I started a new day. I watched closely to what my children were doing and took motivation into consideration. Instead of punishing Sid the Science Kid for not picking up his toys, I would remind him to clean up after himself, more than once if needed. Instead of punishing Princess Pea for not sharing, I taught her the importance of sharing, the value of family and how Jesus put others first. Much of my days in the last weeks have been constant conversation and training. I haven't had to "discipline" much for direct disobedience, really. And, when I have had to discipline for it, no one seems upset or treated unjustly. The children know they have done something wrong and take their punishment. Though much of what this books has shared I have incorporated into my parenting already, like character training, scripture, conversations, training, etc., it really is a different approach to the children that has changed, often a different tone. Instead of saying, "Sid! How do you think Princess Pea felt when you took that from her? Would you want her to take that from you? No! So, don't do it to her. That's not nice and it's not how we are supposed to treat our siblings." I would now approach it by saying, "Sid, do you see how upset you've made your sister? (Sid answers) I think you hurt her feelings. She really looks up to you and enjoys playing with you, but I'm not sure she will want to play with you if you don't treat her nicely. The bible says that we should "give preference to one another." Who are you giving preference to when you take that toy from her? (Sid answers) Who should you be giving preference to? (Sid answers) Do you know how happy it makes Jesus when you prefer others like he did? Do you know how happy mommy and daddy are when you prefer your sisters?" and so on. My conversations are more controlled and more lengthy for the purposes of training. Yes, it takes SOO much more time, but what else are we here for all day, every day?

This has just truly been an eye-opener for me and I see my children differently. I often thought my children, in the words of my mother-in-law, were "trying to make me ma-ad!" When really, they were just being kids. I had overseen many training opportunities. I am thankful for the Reishes book and have seen a difference in the week or so I have been implementing some of their suggestions. Mr. Prince also commented this weekend at how pleasant the children seem to be and how much calmer the home was. So, I'm not just seeing things! I would highly recommend their book, even though I haven't finished it. You can find it at www.tfths.com.

Of course, my parenting pursuits are not done and I will continue to read and change. But, I believe this is my greatest change yet! Onward I go!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Angelica Pickles Turns THREE!

Well, my baby girl turned three this week. It's a little odd because she has seemed three for at least six months now. And I've been telling people she's three for months now, too. I made this purple dress for her special day.

Save as Draft

For the first time in 13 parties, I decided to not hand-make a cake or have people over to the house. I purchased a cake from Meijer and we met her friends at a local park. I just needed it to be easy. She chose a Wall-E cake, even after coaxing from her Mom to pick Dora or Hello Kitty. I just didn't think her new purple dress I made her went well with the browns and yellows of the Wall-E cake. But, she disagreed. So, Wall-E it was! I also went out of my way to pick up a Wall-E 2-foot balloon (which, by the way, was $10!), but at the end of the party it ended up high in the trees of Foster Park. I told the girls they shouldn't have been fighting over the balloons and it wouldn't have broken and Angelica Pickles immediately said, "Jesus can help us Mom!" How do you respond to a 3-year-old that Jesus can't really help in this situation? I swept over the issue and distracted them and tried to get Princess Pea to stop crying over the balloon. She was more upset than Angelica Pickles! Mommy was upset, too! Such is life...



Angelica Pickles was very hard to shop for this year. I finally went online for ideas, hoping I wouldn't have to waiste money on gifts that she wouldn't play with. I had a few ideas, but most of which I figured I would have had to order weeks ago. So, I went to the local specialty toy store and found one of the items I had seen online! It is a wooden cake set made my Melissa & Doug with candles and topings. I have been looking for a cake set for a few years because my children love to play "birthday." So, that has definitely been a hit! I also got her these 3 inch cat figures that have clothes and furry bodies. I played with them when I was a kid! I got her a family with 4 kids, so each one represents a sibling....until #5 shows up! So, she was very happy when opening her gifts. She got a few gifts from family and friends that she has been enjoying, also. Overall the party at the park was a hit and I didn't have to bake or clean my house! I might have to try this again sometime. Although, for $26 I think I'll make the cake next time myself!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garage Sale Junkie

Hi, my name is Mommy K, and I'm a garage sale junkie.

I admit it.

I'll drive by a sign and find it hard to resist stopping, no matter where I'm going. What if I find the greatest deal ever!? If I don't stop, I will live in my what-if world, which isn't healthy either, right?

I went to a large association sale today and found some great deals. It's hard to come home with something for everyone, but I think I did succeed today - even Mr. Prince! He'll be excited. Princess Pea hit the jackpot for a new summer wardrobe, and everyone else at least got something nice. The Klan rode around with me for over four hours and did great! They got out a few times, but mostly I left them in there. It's too much to unbuckle and buckle four children every four houses. They are going to get ICE-CREAM after dinner, the world's best prize!

I think my greatest find today is the sewing table and machine I got for $5.00! I'm not sure what kind of condition the Singer is in, but the table is nice and it might fit my machine I bought off of E-bay a year or so ago. My mother-in-law wants the machine, so I dropped it off for her to look at. I would like to have a few machines to teach my girls on eventually, and I need a WORKING one for myself someday, too. Right now I'm long-term borrowing my sister-in-law's until she wants it back. She's sixteen, so she may not need it back for a while.

Ahhh...I love garage sale season!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our Lives Have Been Spared, Seriously!

Our kids go to bed between 7:30 and 8:30. They stay up until the sun goes down and read, or on occasion, play or fight with each other. Anyway, we usually do not "check" on them until we go to bed (usually after 11pm) unless it is necessary.

The other night Paul went upstairs to deal with the girls' fiasco and smelled something odd. He went into Sid the Science Kid's room and found out he had knocked off his lamp shade and didn't quite understand how to put it back properly. The lamp shade was melting quickly, being directly up against the light bulb!

Wow. Maybe I'm being over-dramatic, but I seriously pictured the disaster that could have come about from that situation. I am a worrier by nature, and tend to protect and shelter my children to the fullest extent possible that won't inhibit normal development. Most likely Sid the Science Kid would have noticed there was a problem and would have been able to come and tell us. But, what if he tried to deal with it himself out of fear of getting into trouble? What if he fell asleep and didn't notice until he was trapped or burned? I could go on, but I won't.

Life is but a blink of an eye compared to God's timeline. I wonder if I died right now what my legacy would be. Would I be content with how I've raised my family? Would I have made a difference in anyone's life? These are questions we should be asking ourselves daily, and we should be constantly wondering what God will say to us when we meet him. Will he say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" or not....

Interview Elaboration

I think in my frustration of hearing yet again the "you have too many kids" speech, I forgot to mention that Jean is planning to highly recommend Paul and I for foster care, pending our home study goes well. She said our recommendations were very good and said she felt we had excellent parenting skills, a good home, integrity and so on. She was just being forward in telling us that just because she recommends us, that doesn't necessarily mean we will be licensed. The committee has the final say. But, she did say that in the end they are looking at everyone's well-being, ours and the children being placed, and that if we are denied it is still the best for everyone involved. So, I just wanted to clarify. I got stuck on my own frustrations last night. But, all looks positive as of right now. We'll just have to wait....and pray.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Foster Care Interview Completed

Well, we had our interview through Catholic Charities this evening. I'm a little "blah" after it all. The lady, Jean, basically had read our 5-7 page papers, gone through our inventory of what type of children we were willing to take in, read back to us the information and had us confirm that what we said was still true. We elaborated on things, but that was basically it.

I am amazed at how much work this woman has on her plate! She had a lot of prep to do before we came to this interview and had made diagrams of each of our family trees and specific notes on each of us before we walked in the door. She basically knew our lives before even meeting us. It was kind of odd. After this interview and our home-study (which is the first week of June, ugh!), she will have to write a minimum 8 page paper on us, our motivations, our family and home environment and her personal recommendation for foster care licensing. She does over 200 of these a year! Insane!!

She did make us feel comfortable and it was nice to hear she was the oldest of 14 children, so she understood our desire to have a large family and take in additional children besides our own. She is trying to get all our paperwork done so we can be "presented" at the end of June meeting to the foster licensing committee. I appreciate that...considering she told us our 30 hours of classes might expire come July!!

The committee has one of three choices: deny us, pend our licensing with specific instructions on how to complete the process, or license us immediately that day. Jean told us at the end of the interview that the c0mmittee is unpredictable, in that some of her personal recommendations to license have been denied by the committee in the past. She told us, just to be forward, that they will likely struggle with the fact that we have 5 children for two reasons: One, depending on the situation, the placement of a child into a home with so much "movement" might be detrimental to that child who is in need of personal attentions and so forth. She said the department tries very hard to be mindful in the placement of children in each home, though. And, that doesn't mean that no children would be a good fit for us. Two, our own children can be very vulnerable in this type of work. She said that they do, again, try to be mindful where they place children, but that many times the social worker doesn't know the full extent of the child's background and issues before they are placed.

Of course, this has been my number one concern as we ventured toward Mooseheart, and now foster parenting. It is something I feel that I cannot "deal" much with until we are in the midst of the job. I think our home is a great fit for young children who are aimed at reunification with their biological parents. Does this not happen that often anymore? I picture us taking in mostly infants and toddlers, but we said we would take up to age 5/6. We have a kid's home, friends to play with, a stable environment....what else do they want? I really pray that this doesn't come to an abrupt halt come June. I do feel I should have finished our paper work within 6 months of Boo Boo being born, but that would have put us licensed just about the time I was sick for 10 weeks due to BKM. So, how much good would that have done? We would have only had 4 kids....would that have been that much different? And what will they do when we get pregnant again, annul our license?

This has been such an emotional rollercoaster so far, what will actual fostering look like?! Jean also told us if we are denied that we could try to apply again in another year when our kids are a little older. For us, that means try again in 6+ years. Which, is something we might do anyway, but..... God has the greater plan.... I have to keep telling myself. It is just hard for me to read and hear about all these hurting children and sit here with my healthy, well-attached, abundantly loved children, and not take them in, too.

We have room in our home and room in our hearts.

I wish that was enough

....and I pray that IS enough.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Foster Care Journey

Paul and I have been on an interesting journey for almost three years now. Let me explain.

In the fall of 2006, we visited some friends of our from college. They worked at a place called Mooseheart, which is "a residential childcare facility located on a 1,000-acre campus 38 miles west of Chicago. It is a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school and cares for youth whose families are unable, for a wide variety of reasons, to care for them. Some have lost one or both parents; others are living in environments that are simply not conducive to healthy growth and development." Our friends worked in a home with early elementary school girls and it was really neat to see how their "home" functioned on a daily basis. Ashley, my friend, had mentioned she thought Paul and I would do great at work like this and it wasn't until I was there in the midst of it all that I'd even considered the notion. Paul and I talked and prayed about Mooseheart and the possibility of moving there to work in a home for a number of weeks. In November 2006, we started the application process, including interviews and another visit to the campus. In early summer of 2007, we prepared ourselves for the possibility of moving away from Paul’s family and our current house to our new position in Illinois. At the time, the home had a few job openings that we didn’t feel we could do our best work. We wanted young children, like our own children, not middle or high school children. The home had a few concerns about the size of our family (then, 3 children) early in our application process, and when a younger home needed positions filled, these concerns came back up into conversation. Every reference we had believed we could do this position well, and that it was a perfect position for Paul and myself. We knew our children would have to make some changes and sacrifices with their time and possessions, but we felt God was calling us to work with under-privileged children, no matter what the sacrifice. Well, through lots of conversations with the leadership of the home, and prayerful consideration, we decided that maybe this was not the best situation for us. We thought their lack of confidence in our abilities would conflict with how we were treated in a position and decided to not continue with the process in mid-June. Also, right before we came to this conclusion, the home told us that if we were to become pregnant with another child during our position there, which we were planning to do in the near future, that they would have to let us go. We found out less than a month later that we were pregnant. It was not the position for us, which left us wondering why God had led us to pursue this position for an entire year.

After lots of discussions and suggestions from others, we decided that we could do this work here in Fort Wayne through foster care. We knew that God was preparing our hearts for change over that entire year, and that he was placing an even greater love for hurting children in our hearts. We were sure that this was what God wanted us to pursue next. So, in July/August 2007 we started our 30 hours of class for a foster care license. The classes were incredibly eye-opening and we were excited to start on our new journey. With a new baby on the way, we thought we should take things slow and didn't rush our paperwork or application. Once we were in 2008 and were due within a few months, we decided it would be best to wait to apply until after our baby came. It took me a long time to recover from having Boo Boo, meaning a long time to get back into a good routine. Once I felt good about how the house was running (Jan 2009), I found out yet again that I was pregnant! It was somewhat of a shock and I was very sick for over 10 weeks. I was determined to turn in our paperwork anyway, so by the end of January our paperwork was completed and turned in.

Now it's May and we finally have our interview through Catholic Charities tomorrow. Our homestudy should come soon after. I am incredibly excited to finally start this journey that we have been traveling for a few years! I know our home can only hold six children according to Allen County Foster Care, so our time to do this work is limited. I can see us continuing this type of work once we move into a larger home, but that won't be for a minimum of six years. We would also like to adopt from foster care, so we are hoping God can work miracles quickly. We are continuing to stay prayerful and trying to stay within God's calling for us. Although I have my worries and hesitations about doing foster care, my yearning to help these children out-weighs my fears for my own family and how it will be affected. I am trusting that God will protect our family and lead specific children into our home that we can have the greatest affect on.

I started a book today called Another Place at the Table, and it's about a foster family that has been operating for over 13 years, and they have taken in over 100 children. I believe it will give me a good perspective before we take in any children. I have a feeling it will be a hard book for me to put down.

Day 1 Update of MnM Experiment

Well, I have to count today as a success! The Klan was better behaved than normal, showed more love and care toward one another, argued less and bickered less and were even more helpful in general to me! Even though no one earned more than two MnMs, the children seemed pleased with their own accomplishments in doing "good". As the bible says, "Do not grow weary in doing good." So, I'm happy. We'll see what tomorrow brings...

New Experiment

Ok, this has come about out of desperation of wanting to have a day with minimal bickering and screaming. The older three seem to constantly be arguing over who is first and whom is playing with whom, and older children are often picking on younger ones. Tired of the "noise" of it all, I created a game plan.

The Klan can earn MnMs by doing something nice for siblings and siblings are the ones who recognize the nice gestures, not mom or dad. MnMs can be saved and traded for larger prizes, or eaten after lunch or dinner. Siblings can not ask another sibling to give them an MnM.

In the first 15 min all three had earned an MnM. Great start, right? At 30 min one sibling had earned two MnMs and the other two children fell apart. So, it will take some getting use to I guess. I'm trying to ignore the bad behavior, to some extent, and just remind them that those are not the gestures that will earn them MnMs. So far the redirecting has worked, but it's only 9am... At the moment they are playing well together and fairly quiet. I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Charlotte Mason Derived Quote

"Virtues, like flowers, grow in the sunshine. You can cultivate them or draw them out with love and reason, but you can neither force nor whip them into existence. Try to do so and the virtue you want will come forth in the guise of its corresponding vice."

-Karen Andreola, Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling

Taylor University Fort Wayne Closes Its Doors

Taylor University FW has meant a lot to me and it's really sad to know my Alma Mater won't exist after this month. They are having a Heritage Weekend on May 8-9 inviting all of TUFW's Alumni. Not only am I looking forward to seeing friends I haven't seen since graduation, and friends I'll probably never have the opportunity to see again, but we are going to experience our last Chapel service, our last lecture with Dr. Quinn White (our education professor) and our last Koinonia (worship service led by the students) this weekend. My grand plan consisted of all my children attending Taylor, walking to class (since we are only a few blocks from it), myself working in the office to get a tuition discount, and all of them graduating from TUFW like their mother and father. Oy! My plans disrupted again! It will be a memorable weekend.

Home Life with the Klan

Well, this is my second attempt at creating a blog (I have another one at www.homeschoolblogger.com/mommykellogg/), and I am getting quite frustrated with the "tools" of it all. I wanted to create something to share the ups and downs of our family, and also for my own record. Journaling just isn't cutting it anymore. I can type way faster than print. So, here starts the record of the Adventures of the Kellogg Klan!

Our current Klan consists of 2 boys and 2 girls, with another baby on the way.

Sid the Science Kid is my 6-year-old genious. He is obsessed with the solar system, loves soccer, enjoys being involved in Junior Bible Quiz and piano lessons, and will be entering the 2nd grade at Kellogg Academy this fall, if I actually GET to homeschooling this fall with a new baby!!

Princess Pea is my prissy little 4-year-old. She loves her ballet classes and tries to "teach" her little sister how to dance. She is starting to read and her current love is drawing and making words on paper. She will be doing her second half of kindergarten this coming fall.

Angelica Pickles is my spunky 3-year-old. She has loved babies since she was a baby herself and her favored doll is her beloved Asian doll, "Baby Tui". She has never been afraid to stand up to her siblings and often times is the leader of the pack, mostly by force. Force meaning "loud scream". She can be quite sweet, but still often shows her out-of-control-two-year-old stage.

Boo Boo is the baby of the bunch at 13 months old. He is a very laid back baby and enjoys the life of a toddler: being fed, dressed, changed, and worn. His loves are balls, penguins (?) and cars. He will be just 18 months old when the newest of our Klan arrives.

Baby Klan Member is 21 weeks gestation at the moment. BKM will not reveal his/her gender before their Birth Day. He/She will make their grand debute most likely in our living room, surrounded by family and friends. BKM's carrier is doing well and enjoying the prego body.

The Klan Leader is Mr. Prince. He is an elementary English Language Learner teacher (formerly ESL). He enjoys soccer, softball and street basketball and is an incredible father to the Klan.

Well, there is the formal introduction of the Klan and it's Leader. Hope you enjoy the Adventures!