Friday, October 30, 2009

From a Child's Point of View....

"God Places the lonely in families..." Proverbs 68:6..Funny that we read that verse tonight.
I have been asked to come speak at a training session for prospective foster parents, and so today I told the children I'd like to be able to share their thoughts on foster parenting when I speak. I asked Mae and Mackenzie to write an essay, and Noah to dictate to me and illustrate a story about our foster care journey. Mackenzie was too busy today with Math and grammar to get started on hers, but Mae and Noah worked on their rough drafts. Noah is still having a tough time some days, but It was so great to listen to him tell his "story" to me today. Here is what they came up with..I am very proud of them.

Noah's Story as told to mom
A foster family is for making a home for children. My family is a foster family. We give children a home. The first time we were a foster family, a boy named Austin came to stay with us. He was five-the same age as me. The day he came to our house we jumped on the trampoline and dressed up like cowboys. I showed him my room. I showed him his bed and his dresser. When he came he only had one toy car.

I was so excited to have a boy to play with. When Austin was with us, we had fun playing legos and lincoln los, building forts and riding bikes. I liked having a foster brother. Sometimes we wore matching clothes. But sometimes I got mad when he didn't want to play what I wanted to play. I always liked to play outside and Austin liked to stay inside and draw.

Sometimes I got jealous when he visited his mom and dad. He came home with new hot wheels andI got jealous. I told mom I wished I was in foster care so I could get hot wheels every week.
Mom said Austin gets special things sometimes because he only sees his parents once a week.
I didn't want to see my parents only once a week.

Sometimes we invited Austin's parents to do things with us. They went with us to Chuck E Cheese's. Austin's dad gave me extra tokens and bought me an ice cream. They had a birthday party for Austin and invited me. We invited them to the party we had for Austin.

Austin got to be with us a long time. When Mom and Dad talked about Austin coming home, I was sad. I really wanted him to be my brother. Mom and dad said his parents wanted him to come home and they missed him. I liked his parents. I knew they loved him alot.
I helped Austin pack his toys. I gave him my Diego playset and some cars. We drove to his house and he showed me his fort-he told me we could play there. I helped him bring his things in his room. he had almost 100 toys to unpack!!! I helped him unpack and gave him a hug.

I felt sad because now I didn't have a brother to play with, but I felt happy because now I could spend time with my dad all by myself.
I miss Austin and I want him to come visit me. I am happy Austin gets to be with his mom and dad, but I wish he stillcould be my brother.

I want to be a foster brother again because I like having a lot of brothers and sisters. I like having someone sleeping in my room. The next time I get to be a foster brother, I will be happy.

I also had a foster sister named Lexie and she got to stay. When she came to stay with us she was a tiny newborn. I thought she was cute but she cried a lot. When she got bigger I liked her more. Mom and dad said we were going to adopt her. To adopt means she will be my sister forever and not have to leave.

When we adopted Lexie we went to see a real judge! She told us Lexie was going to be ours forever. I felt like fainting because I was so happy she was going to stay. I'm glad God let her stay. I love her. My favorite thing about Lexie is her laugh. I hope someday we can adopt a little boy, too.

Mae's Story
My name is Mae. I am eleven years old. My favorite color is light blue. I have two sisters and one brother. I love to read and play the piano.

Before we became a foster family, my parents always wanted to adopt, but decided to become a foster family. We always talked about wanting more brothers and sisters.

Before we became a foster family, we prayed about it. We talked about it. My parents went to classes and we became a foster family.

I was happy because that meant more sisters. I was sad because that meant kids leaving.
I was curious because I had never been a foster sister.

When we became a foster family, we got to take care of a little boy, his name was Austin.
Austin was five, the same age as my brother. Austin had a great time, so did my brother-but Austin had to go home. Everyone was sad when he left, especially my brother.

But we also fostered a little baby girl. She was one week old and her name was Lexie. We adopted her. We finalized her adoption last month. She is almost two now.

The hard thing about being a foster sister are having to share your stuff, like toys, books and drawing stuff. And when they leave.

The great thing about being a foster sister is playing with them, helping out with them and being a big sister again.

I think people should become foster families because giving a home to someone who needs it is really great. It is great to help take care of children when their parents can not take care of them.I think God would want people to be foster parents.

Much to everyone's surprise, Austin called us tonight and asked to come visit next weekend. Mackenzie said when she talked to him he said, "Cissy, I'm coming home next weekend!" There is definately an empty place without him here.It will be so good to see him.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back to normal...sort of

We are finally unpacked and back in somewhat of a routine...We have had a lot of things going on since we have been home so school has been here and there and on the road...It always amazes me that when the kids are not required to do schoolwork, they always find something "school-ish" (my new word) to do, without even realizing it. While trying to get back into a daily groove, we have had several days of the kids just doing their own things. Mackenzie has been cooking like crazy, trying out new recipes and tripling batches of cookies (fractions, cooking, measuring).
She has also been copying tons of recipes into a notebook (handwriting!) and sewing/crocheting/knitting Christmas gifts. Mae has been feverishly playing the piano every chance she gets, and has been drawing and illustrating stories in her journal, as well as typing some of them on the computer (handwriting, spelling, grammar, typing, creative writing, art).
She is not as crafty as Mackenzie, but Mae's idea of fun is reading about different topics in our encyclopedias (this week her chosen topics were dogs and dog training)-She then spent 2 hours and a whole bag of dog treats trying to teach the dogs tricks. Noah has spent time lately building a rocket out of a 6 foot long cardboard tube that Mike brought home from work, (math? art? science?) and building with legos (engineering?). Lexie has been busy "cooking" all week. She gets out about 4 bowls, all my measuring cups, a whisk and several spoons and uses legos or magnets to make soup-which we all have to pretend to taste! Even in our non-school days, we have been busy reading. The girls and I are going through "Raising Maidens of Virtue" by Stacy MacDonald. Mackenzie and I are both reading Mandisa's book, "Idol Eyes" which I picked up at an Ewomen conference this weekend. I enjoyed Mandisa's performance and Testimony, and decided to get her book for Mackenzie. Mackenzie has just finished "Before You Meet Prince Charming" by Sarah Mally and loved it. Mae, much to my surprise, picked up "Pride and Prejudice"last week and decided to read it. Very funny to hear an 11 year old's comments about the story! She devoured the "Wizard of Oz" and a book called "Princess Academy" and is now reading a great little book called "Ten Girls who Changed the World." For our Read aloud time together, we are Reading through The story of Joseph in the Bible- always so amazed at God's constant hand in his life-always leads us to lots of discussions about Gods plans for us. I have also gotten hooked on the Life of Faith books, so I am now reading aloud book 6 in the "Millie Keith"series. I can not recommend these books enough for young girls. In my own reading, besides Mandisa's book, I am doing a study on the Proverbs 31 woman-"The Virtuous Woman" by Vicki Courtney and reading a tearjerker about fathers and daughters called, "Don't Let Me Go" by David Pierce (husband of Comedienne, Chonda Pierce). Noah is not much of a reader yet, but he is determined to start big...instead of easy phonics readers, he wants to read his LampLighter book, "Boys of Grit". Written in the 1800's this book is not written with the 7 year old reader in mind, but he is determined, and expects me to help him read a page from this book each night! 5 years ago when we "dropped" our cable service, I wondered how we would survive without it. Now I'm so glad we don't have it. The kids find so much other stuff to do with their free time! I definately say, if you want to grow a reader, unplug the TV!
We did ease back into our studies a little more yesterday, and spent the day learning about Egypt, pyramids and mummies. Mackenzie researched the wonders of the Ancient World, While Mae researched Queen Shubad-I had never heard of her, but turns out her tomb was quite a big deal! Mae was fascinated by the fact that 5 soldiers and 13 ladies in waiting were buried with her. Noah has been building pyramids out of Magnetix pieces and trying to see which design will support the most weight. We studied Ancient Egyptian Art, With Barry Stebbing's God and the History of Art (by far, one of our favorite resources this year) and I was very impressed with the children's drawings. We learned that the Egyptians never drew anyone overweight or old!
Very funny! We mummified apples by burying them in a mixture of baking soda and salt-now we are supposed to let them remain "buried" for seven days. They are already a little stinky-but this is way better than the chicken Mackenzie mummified with her gifted class in Public School several years ago. She was so proud that she got to bring the chicken mummy home after TWO WEEKS. I almost gagged, it was so gross. We buried it at my in-laws house. The apples will not have a burial-they will go in the garbage! We are having some great talks about the beliefs of the Egyptians, an how glad we are that we serve the one TRUE God. I am so thankful for homeschooling-even on the days I feel I don't accomplish much. The interaction and the conversations I get to share with my children are priceless, and the ability to weave God into all of our studies is such a blessing. Even on our "bad" days, I wouldn't trade this for anything.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

home again!

We finally made it back to MS, and were greeted by some preety cool temperatures! The kids ran in the house and threw off their shorts and flipflops to change into jeans and jackets! Noah was sure it was going to snow! We had a great time on our trip, but it is always so wonderful-that first night back home sleeping in your OWN bed! Except that I left our pillows in FL, so we were scrounging around for throw pillows to sleep with. I am usually pretty pick about having all my pillows, but last night I didn't care-I was just happy to see my pillowtop mattress! I love my mom-but her guestbed was like sleeping on a board! I am now ( and probably will be for DAYS!)
trying to unpack and get all the stuff back where it belongs! We will do our schoolwork around the suitcases and laundry tomorrow-The kids were hoping I would call off school since I wasn't done such luck!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Florida Fun

Our vacation is winding down, and we are enjoying our last few days. We are enjoying the pool so much-Lexie loves the water, and Mae and Noah could stay at the pool all day. We are all so relaxed-this little trip has definately been enjoyable. We have not done "tourist-y" things, but we have had a lot of fun. The other day we visited Gumbo Limbo Nature center in Boca Raton. While there, we climbed a 40 foot observation tower with a view of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the intracoastal waterway on the other. We walked a boardwalk trail through tropical woodlands, and then enjoyed "feeding" time at the center. The kids were thrilled to get up close and personal with loggerhead turtles, stingrays and nuse sharks. Mae absolutely loved the sound the nurse sharks made when they sucked in their food. We were able to get a glimpse of the Florida Atlantic University Lab at the nature centure, wher we were amazed to see tons of baby loggerhead turtles-we all wanted to stick them in our pockets and take them home!
Last night we visited with some of my mom's friends and today, suprisingly, we will go swimming again! I think we are going to a local chinese buffet for supper tonight-yum!
Tomorrow I will tackle the big task of packing, and Mike will tackle the even bigger task of making everything fit back into the Yukon! We will head back home refreshed and ready to get back to school and work....maybe....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Florida Fun

Mae & Adyn, The whole gang, Adyn & Lexie

After we left St George Island, we drove all day to Boynton Beach. Noah was so excited to see that Grandma and Grandpa had put a balloon outside their door for him. After hugs and hellos, we had a pizza and cake for Noah's birthday-we were all amazed that Grandma I had baked a cake...I joked that it was probably the first one she has made since about 1975! Noah was thrilled to have presents from Grandma I and Grandpa Charlie to open (a pair of new light up crocs and and erector set) as well as a box that had been sent from poppy & Grammy with a new scooter!
Hard to believe my little boy is 7. He is getting so big.
We all crashed and after camping for 3 days were VERY thankful for beds and air conditioning!!!
Friday the kids spent most of the day with Grandma, Grandpa and Mike swimming at the community pool, while I did tons of stinky laundry from our camping trip. Saturday mom, mackenzie, Mae and I hit the road early for our favorite family pastime-yard sale-ing. We also found some great bargains at the local Goodwill thrift store. Saturday afternoon...more pool time with Grandma and Grandpa's friends, who are all so sweet to the kids.
Sunday we headed up to West Palm Beach to attend worship service at our old church. The kids always love seeing their old friends-it's neat to see how much everyone has changed between or yearly visits.
Sunday evening My mom's friends and my step-brother, his wife and their little boy came over for supper. We had not seen them in 7 years, and it was exciting to meet a "new" cousin-
almost 3 year old Adyn and Lexie had a great time playing together. It was great to see them.
They also spent the day at the beach with us today, and we are all very crispy, and as everyone is getting ready for bed, we are all slathering on the aloe vera gel!!

Florida Fun

Noah Mackenzie & Lexie Dad & Noah Mae

St. George Island beach at sunset on our first night

a handful of shells, snails & hermit crabs!
The St George Island lighthouse...also pictured above is the view of the
from the lighthouse's lantern room.

(notice the wrong date on all my photos-haven't figured out how to change it on my camera!)

We headed to Florida a week ago Monday at 6:30 in the morning, loaded down with borrowed roof top and pull behind carriers, 2 tents, 6 sleeping bags, 12 towels, two coolers, 1 basket of beach toys,4 camp chairs, 3 bottles of bug spray, 2 tubes of sunscreen, 3 backpacks, 4 pacifiers and a partridge in a pear tree...oh and so much looked like we were moving....
We were off to visit my mom and step-dad on the east coast of Florida-but decided we would take a little detour for a few days before we arrived on Oct 8. We made camping reservations at St. George Island State Park, a barrier Island in the gulf of Mexico, 75 miles SW of Tallahassee. We had never been there, but the kids were asking to camp on the beach, and this island with an adjacent campground seemed like the perfect place. We arrived about 5pm Monday evening, after MANY potty stops, especially since Lexie is potty training..... The kids were thrilled with the 4 mile bridge that we had to drive over to get to the island from the mainland-except Mackenzie-she HATES bridges...The Island was beautiful, and we ooohed and aaaahed over all the cute beach houses up on "stilts". It was a 4 mile drive to the state park, and once the kids saw the water and the sand dunes, their was no containing their excitement.
After setting up camp, which took a little longer than expected, we roasted hot dogs over a campfire and then headed to the beach for a stroll at about 8pm. How peaceful!!!! The kids were supposed to just dip their feet in the water, but everyone was soaked from head to toe by the time we left. We headed back to the campsite to stoke the campfire, and read a little before turning in.... Mike and I didn't get much sleep, as it was pretty hot, and Lexie tossed and turned on top of us most of the night....We awoke to a very buggy campsite, and immediately had to cover ourselves with bug spray...pretty much from that point on, if we were at the campsite, we were covered with we quickly left the campsite to spend our second day at the beach. The water was pretty murky, but the kids didn't care... they spent the day finding shells, snails and hermit crabs and trying to figure out how to use our new skim board.

Lexie was not fond of the water. We kept asking if she wanted to go in, and she would continually shake her head and say "no!" So she spent most of the morning walking around with a shovel and eating sand. By afternoon, she was a little more adventurous, and would go in the water if we held her.
While jumping waves with the kids we noticed a few fins in the distance...several dolphins passed by...the kids were amazed! One little boy on the beach saw a fin and ran from the water, screaming, "SHARK!!!" Very funny! The beach was all but deserted-just a handful of people-it was great. We left the Island mid afternoon in search of ice cream that didn't cost a fortune (the island shop's prices were outrageous!) We ended up driving 30 minutes away, finding nothing along the we stopped at a grocery store and picked up a box of ice cream bars to eat in the car, then made a stop at the Crooked River lighthouse,The lighthouse was closed to visitors that day, but the kids enjoyed climbing on the huge play structure shaped like a pirate ship. We returned to the island and had a cookout at the beach pavillion, but ate in a hurry since we were overcome by mosquitos. We headed back to camp for showers and marshmallows, and added Noah to our tent for our second night, since he said the "night noises" (birds and frogs?") scared him.
The next morning after pouring the bug spray on, we decided to do some exploring the island and mainland of Appalachicola during the day, and head to the beach in the late afternoon.
We visited the St George Island Lighthouse and climbed the 98 steps to the top, and then climbed the ladder into the lantern room-what an awesome view!!! The kids absolutely loved this, and the docent's talk on the history of the lighthouse was very interesting. We headed to the mainland for a walk around historic Appalachicola, enjoying all the little shops and a free tour of the Rainey House museum. We found an old timey soda fountain for some ice cream (we love ice cream) and souvenirs and then picnicked on a wharf overlooking the appalachicola bay. While we ate, Mike walked to a nearby fishmarket and bought some fresh steamed shrimp to enjoy with our lunch. They were steamed with the heads on! Lexie was scared to death of the little critters, but the rest of us popped the heads off, dipped them in melted butter and thought they were great!!! Back to the beach that afternoon, Lexie still was eating sand....our cookout on the beach that night was less buggy, and the sunset over the water was beautiful. We began to pack up camp that evening, and in the morning headed out towards the east coast....but first made a stop at a local restaurant for breakfast to celebrate Noah's 7th bithday!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Our new addition!!!!

Noah & Lexie waiting to go into the judges chambers.

Outside the courthouse with Mike's parents after Lexie's adoption. Lexie 1 year ago!

Lexie is now officially, "Alexianna Marie!" We went up to the courthouse yesterday to finalize her adoption. I felt like I was getting ready to go to the hospital to give birth (without the contractions and the suitcase!)-So strange, since she has been a part of our family since she was one week old. I really can not explain the excitement and anticipation-except to say everyone was acting like they were getting ready to go see a new baby for the first time...except Lexie-she just wanted a lollipop. When we got there, Mike's parents met us as well as Lexie's DHS worker from her county of residence and our DHS resource worker. We were joined by our lawyer a little while later and after about 40 minutes, we were led into the judges chambers. The kids were all wide eyed-probably wondering if they would get arrested itf they said the wrong thing!!
The judge was so sweet, and had a huge grin on her face the whole time our lawyer was asking us some routine questions. Mackenzie said later it was weird to see our lawyer so "professional and serious." The kids are well acquainted with him from our homeschool groups very casual activities like camping and such, so I guess it must have seemed any rate, we were just so excited that he, too, was sharing in all of this with us. The judge asked the children how they felt about adopting Lexie. They all said they were excited, and then Noah raised his hand and waited for the judge to call on him! She said, "Yes?" and he replied, "I just want her to be my real sister." The judge smiled and said, "Well, I'm about to make that happen!" That's when my mother in law and I started crying! After it was officially stated that Lexie was ours, we all gathered for pictures with the judge and the social workers. Lexie even let the Judge hold her.
We all hugged and has we headed out the door, I'm sure I saw Noah skipping...he does that when he is EXTREMELY happy....Outside, we took a few more pictures and then went to lunch with my in laws. Lexie was treated to a cup of fresh fruit and a hot dog-while we were waiting for our food she kept saying, "Dot dog! Dot dog!" I've told almost everyone this already, but when we ask Lexie to say "Lexie," she says "Sexy" and when we ask her to say "Marie" she says "Me." So she calls herself "Sexy Me." Cute until Noah shouts across the restaurant, "Hey, Sexy ME!!!" and people turn to stare at us.
After lunch we headed over to the courthouse in the county we live in to file the adoption paperwork., and that was it....we have a new daughter! What a journey it has been. 2 years ago before Lexie even came into our world, we could not have imagined being here in this monent today. Oct 1, two years ago was the day we found out that we were not going to bring a little newborn home from the hospital that we had named and cuddled. On that day, our hearts were broken-I told Mike, forget it, I am not doing this foster care/adoption thing! But moments later,
I was reminded that this was a journey we felt God wanted us to take, and we would take it, wherever it led us. The journey, so far has definately had it's rough spots-but when I look at Lexie's sweet face, I am reminded that God has been right beside us the whole time-his hand in every aspect of this adventure. I am certain that He will walk with us wherever we're headed next. Right now, my heart is so full. Last night at the dinner table, looking around at ALL of our children, all I could do was say, "Thank You, Lord."

"How can I keep from singing your praise? How can I ever say enough? How amazing is your love. How can I keep from shouting your name? I know I am loved by the King, and it makes my heart want to sing!"

"But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will ALWAYS trust in God's unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people." Psalm 52:8-9