Sunday, January 29, 2012

Birthday Interview with Ben - Age 4

I have to say that Ben wasn't terribly interested in doing this interview, so the answers should be taken with a grain of salt. I conducted it during breakfast, because mealtimes are pretty much the only times he's sitting still enough to carry on a conversation. It was a little difficult getting him to answer me, like he couldn't be bothered to give 'ol mom an interview while munching on his english muffin. The answers are funny anyway. 

So how do you think it'll feel to be four?
I wish we could go to LegoLand when I’m four.
What kinds of things can you do now that you’re almost four that you couldn’t do when you were littler?
I can spin the tire swing when I’m in the middle without anyone helping.
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite food?  
What is your least favorite food?  
Egg sandwiches - those things you make us when we go to Mothering by Heart.
What is your favorite book?
Daddy’s Star Wars pop-up book
What is your favorite toy?
My police car
Do you have any friends? Who are they?
Kirsten. (Any others?) Maffew.
What is your favorite thing to do with mom?
Have ice cream.
What is your favorite thing to do with dad?
Play on the bed.
What is your favorite thing about yourself?
I don’t want to do this one.
What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Play jump ball. 
Where is your favorite place to go?
Pump it Up, Gilroy Gardens, and LegoLand.
What do you want to do for a job when you grow up? 
Read the Star Wars pop-up book to our foster child. (No, I mean for a job, when you’re a grown up. Like, how Daddy works on the computer.) Oh. Policeman.
Where do you want to live when you grow up?  
Near Diana Park. I would go there every day after naps.
Do you think you’ll get married when you grow up? Who do you think you’ll marry?
Kirsten. (Actually, you can’t marry your cousin. Anyone else you'd like to marry?) But I want to! (more explanation about marriage rules...) Ok, then. Essie.
How old will you be when you get married?
Where do babies come from?
Is there anything you’re afraid of?
Monsters. And lions, ‘cuz they are gonna eat me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Food Artist

The other day at the library we found a new series of books by Saxton Freymann. We all got really excited about these books because the pictures are just so cool. They use scenes made out of food to tell a story. I got almost all Freymann books the library owned, five in all, but I left a few so as not to be a hoarding library patron. Tommy pored over these books as soon as we got home from the library. Then he decided to make some of his own food creations. He got to work cutting up all the veggies and experimenting with how they fit together. Below is a sampling of some of his creations. He constructed these completely on his own. 

 His first creation: Cucumber Car

Carrot Jet

His pièce de résistance. I have no idea what this is, but I do know he was working on it diligently for over an hour. It started out just being a carrot car with turnip umbrellas (if you look closely through the gobs of grapes, you might be able to find it). Then he kept adding grapes and more grapes, until, he decided he was finished.

It was fun to see him get excited about something new and take initiative to figure things out for himself. He now says that he wants to be a food artist when he grows up and he's going to open up a restaurant that only serves fruit and vegetables. He's going to call his restaurant "Tom's". Stay tuned, because this is one vegetarian restaurant you're going to want to try when it opens!

Friday, January 20, 2012

24 Hours of Foster Care

The last 24 hours have been a crazy whirlwind of activity. In that time, we got our first foster child and then saw her reunited with her mother. We've heard the advice from veteran foster parents that we need to be flexible and open to sudden change of plans. Now we definitely see what they mean. Here's a timeline of the past day:

Thursday morning:
10:00am: I get a call (while I'm in the middle of baking cookies with my boys) about a two day old baby girl, about to be discharged from the hospital, who needs a foster home. Amidst a flurry of phone calls, I make all the arrangements to pick her up. At this point, we know very little about the baby's situation, but we do get the idea that this will be a short-term stay. We figure sometime later next week she might be reunited with her mom.

2:00pm: I head to Target to pick up last-minute things I'll need for a baby girl. Important things like pink pajamas. And some diapers, bottles and formula.

4:00pm: We pick her up at the hospital.

5:00pm: Baby comes home. The boys are totally in love with her. Tommy, in particular, keeps trying to find ways to help out with the baby by bringing me her little hat, a stuffed animal, and asking to hold her. For the next several hours, she eats, sleeps, and poops. She repeats the cycle several times. She has a normal newborn night, waking up a few times and pooping a few times.

Friday 9:30am: I follow foster parent protocol by scheduling a doctor appointment for baby and contacting her social worker.

10:30am: I get a phone call from baby's social worker that she is going to be reunited with her mom later in the day, and could I perhaps bring her to the social services building right after her doctor appointment? I say "Of course", but my mind is totally reeling from the sudden change of plans. After another flurry of phone calls, a load of laundry, and some frantic running around the house to gather baby items, baby is packed up and ready to go.

2:30pm: Baby has her doctor appointment.

4:00pm: Baby is reunited with her mama. I drive home in the pouring rain and traffic trying to gather my wits about me and come to terms with the newest change of plans.

I'm sad that this experience is over so quickly. It was fun to take care of a newborn baby girl, despite the several wake-ups at night. But ultimately, I'm happy that the baby was reunited with her mom. 

I wasn't prepared for the complex emotions of it all. When we picked up the baby at the hospital, I was near tears most of the time. Driving up to the hospital all I thought about was the fun and excitement of caring for a brand new baby girl. But when I got there it really hit me that there was another mother on the other side things who was going home without her baby girl. I could imagine the pain she must have.

Foster care is not about finding ourselves a baby to keep; it is about helping children and their parents become well enough to stay together. 

We are so thankful for all the support and love from the people who read our blog and facebook. However, something that caught us by surprise was the comments of hopefulness that we will keep our new foster child, or comments of sadness when the child was reunited.  

It is easy to understand these reactions, since most people know of our history with miscarriage and infertility. We know that our friends are hoping for the best for us. However, that is not what this is about. We are not doing foster care to facilitate a longed-for adoption. We are open to adoption. If it happens, that would be great. But that is not the purpose we are working towards. 

When a child is reunited with his family, that is the best outcome that can happen. A broken family is made whole. The loss we feel when we let the child go is temporary. The purpose of foster care is to serve, not to keep.

Someday we may care for a child who ends up staying with us forever. But when that happens, it will be bittersweet because it means that another family failed to stay together.

Tommy multitasking: feeding the baby and doing his reading lesson. He was begging to hold her practically the whole time she was with us. It was really sweet to see him act so lovingly. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A New Reader

For the past two years, Tommy's reading has been at about the same level. He could sound out words (very short ones in the beginning, then longer ones as time went on), and he could even string them together to read a short sentence. But the process was drudgery and he didn't like to do it for longer than five minutes at a time.

But something clicked with him in the past month. Now reading is more fluent and almost effortless for him. Just after Christmas he became interested in reading his Bob books, and he breezed through three sets of them. Now he's working through easy readers from the library and mastering them quickly.

I've always heard that one shouldn't push a child to learn to read. I'm glad I didn't push Tommy even though he seemed interested in reading. It really is true that they'll pick up reading quickly when they're ready for it. Watching him zip through books and improve so rapidly has been like seeing a miracle take place before my eyes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mother of Invention

It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention. In my case, lately it's been growth spurts that is the mother of invention. These boys are eating almost constantly, despite having full and well-balanced meals three times a day. Yogurt has always been one of my go-to snacks for them during growth spurts. It's healthy, full of protein and calcium, and when I buy it by the single-serving cup, they can get it themselves. For the longest time, I would buy the large quart-size container of yogurt and then mix in jam and granola on an as-needed basis. But that became time consuming and made me not even want to do it.

I've always bought yogurt cups at Trader Joe's because they are the cheapest and least-processed ones I've found. But they are tiny cups, and not a match for my boys' appetite anymore. Especially at $4 for a pack of six cups. Once I got a big pack of Yoplait yogurt once because it was a bigger cup and cheaper than Trader Joe's but didn't realize until I got it home that it had 26 grams of sugar! That's 6.5 teaspoons in one little cup!

So I had the idea to make my own yogurt cups. I got a pack 8 oz. of canning jars at Target. Then I had the kids help me fill them up: 1 tbsp. jam on the bottom, then yogurt (enough to fill the jar 3/4 the way), and 1/4 cup granola on top. We've been having yogurt this way for a few weeks and it's been great. It saves a lot of money, and I'm happy knowing that my kids aren't getting any processed junk.

 Adding blueberry jam (Trader Joe's reduced sugar type) to the bottom...

 ...then comes yogurt...

 ...and finally granola.

I wrote R for raspberry jam and B for blueberry jam on top of the jars. Some people are very picky about the flavor of their yogurt.