A Little at a Time

 

Boy, have I ever learned a lot since I became a foster parent.

My husband and I became foster parents almost two years ago. We are getting ready to renew our two year fostering license next month, which means we are about to start  our third year as foster parents.  My way of thinking about fostering has changed so much.

As can be expected, I had a pretty idealized idea of how foster parenting would be. I thought that our home would be a home where we would be able to take any foster child and help them. I thought that our home would be a home where we would take  a child and provide a home for them until they went back to their parents, until they graduated, etc.

I certainly never thought that we would have any child for only a few months and then say that we needed a break. Not us! Not me.

But I was wrong. I have renewed respect for anyone who takes on the responsibility of raising someone else’s child or children, be it a stepchild, foster child, or some other type of situation.

Living with someone new in your home is hard. Raising kids is hard. Raising kids who aren’t your own kids, who haven’t grown up with your family, in your home, with your rules, with your expectations, etc, is even harder. Add to that a child who has had a traumatic life and who has difficult behaviors to deal with. It makes life downright exhausting.

The way that this has affected my view of being a foster parent is that I now realize that some children will not be in my care until they no longer need a home. Some children will only be in my care while I have the energy to be a good foster parent to them.

I’m sure that this sounds very callous to anyone who has no experience with fostering. But the truth is that some fostering situations take a lot more of a person’s heart, soul, and energy than they can dish out long term.

I’ve realized that I can only do the best job that I can do for as long as I can do it. In certain situations, that will be short term. In other situations, that will be long term.

It makes me sad for the foster children who are moved from home to home. There are a lot of them. It is heartbreaking when a child calls you mom or mommy just because that child is at your house for a few days. That is a child who doesn’t really know what it is to have a normal family with a normal mom or dad.

Some days are really hard. Some days are great. When it comes down to it, you just have to do the best that you can do.  When you are no longer  able to deal with a certain child and their behaviors or a situation, you sometimes have to decide to ask for a child to be moved to another home.

It’s hard. Thank goodness for the good days when you can see that you’re helping a child.

The Comfort of Routines

The word routine has a bad reputation. It implies boring and old. But routines are a good thing. In fact, they are a great thing.

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Good routines are comforting in the same way that some foods are comforting. Routines help us to do things without having to put much thought into them. They make our lives easier.

Say that you got up for work in the morning and did not have a morning or evening routine. You would probably not have set your alarm, so you could be late for whatever you had planned for the day. You may not have any clean clothes because you may not have thought about this before hand. You may not know where your shoes are because you didn’t put them in a certain spot. You most likely would end up spending  a lot of time looking for something clean to wear and some shoes.

So, basically,  having a routine just means that someone has done a certain thing or set of things over and over basically the same way until it has become a habit. Just those few examples demonstrate how not having a routine can set you up for disaster.

One thing that I’ve found in life is that it’s pretty easy to start a new habit by doing something for a few days or weeks. Likewise, it’s also very easy to stop a habit (even a good habit) by getting out of your routine for a few days or weeks.

I once had a patient who (in my opinion) went a little overboard with his routines. He had his whole LIFE down to a schedule of routines.

This man was older, in his 80s, I believe. I was working in home health at the time. I or another nurse would go to his home to visit him a couple of times a week.

This man had his life down to a science. He was not in any way flexible. I figured this out when I called the first time to schedule a visit to his home and spoke with his daughter. I asked if I could go at a certain time and she said that her dad would be eating lunch at that time. So I said, fine, and asked her what time would be good for me to make a visit.

We worked out a time and I went to see her dad later that day, after lunch. Her dad was waiting for me in the living room. I did my assessment and vital signs, talked to him, did the rest of my job and left.

The next time that I called to make a visit (later that week), the exact same scenario played out.

Part of my job was to ask him about his meals, his bowels, urinating, medications, sleeping, etc. This man was very interesting; much more so than the average home health patient.

I found out that he got up at the same exact time every day. He had the same exact food for breakfast at the same exact time every day. He smoked one cigarette every hour on the hour. He watched the same tv shows at the same time every day. He had the same food for lunch at the same time every day. He took a nap at the same time every day, for the same length of time.

I don’t mean that he did almost the same things at approximately the same time every day. I mean he did all of the exact same things at exactly the same time in exactly the same way every day. He was extreme.

I guess that this extreme structure worked for him. Of course, most people are not that unwavering in their routines. I guess that, for whatever reason,  he found comfort in having this amount of structure.

I recently read that the reason that autistic people like/need  routine is that they aren’t able to predict the future. I really know very little about autism, but I do know that many autistic people do have many routines and can actually get very upset if their routines aren’t followed.

For someone who isn’t able to predict the future, it makes sense that a routine would be of utmost importance to them. It would give a sense of security because they would not have the uncertainty of what was going to happen to them next.

Of course, none of us can predict the future, but most of us can reasonably plan our days and have a good idea of how our days will unfold. This does require having a routine to a certain extent, though. Our days do usually involve planning in order to flow well.

Children also need routines in their lives. They need the security of knowing that someone is going to be taking care of their needs; feeding them regularly,  bathing them, putting them to bed, etc. . Having security enables them to go about the business of being children and doing  all that being a child entails.

As an adult, having a routine helps me, especially since I am not blessed with organizational skills. Following my bedtime and morning routines helps me to have more brain energy to put into other things. And I can definitely use all of the extra brain energy that I can get.

Having an end of day routine helps me to relax and start winding down towards bedtime. Coming home from work, I take my shoes off at the door and put my slippers on. I put my purse and other belongings in my bedroom. I change into my comfy clothes; I have my comfy clothes in a certain drawer.  Then I do whatever it is that I need to do.

I have my routines and they may be different in ways from your routines. But I would guess that they are probably fairly similar in ways.

Here’s to routines!

My August Deals

I love a good deal!

I love a good deal! Especially if it’s something that I’m already shopping for.

One day a couple weeks ago, we went to our grandson’s birthday party. My daughter was wearing a pair of white linen pants. I decided that I wanted a pair like hers. They looked so comfy, like pajamas, yet presentable enough to wear in public. That’s a double win, if you ask me!

I got lucky and found the pants the very next day. Even though I don’t shop at TJ Maxx that often, I decided to stop there. Our local TJ Maxx is in the (only) mall in our city, so when I went to the mall to go to Joann Fabrics , I made a stop at TJ Maxx on the way to Joann’s. The store was literally on my way to Joann’s.

I found several pair of white and black linen pants on clearance there. I also found a lot of other clothes on clearance.

Here’s what I got: a pair of pants in white for $4!  A navy blue top with pretty detailing on the front for $6 and a blue/pink multicolored top for $8.



These items are all so light and comfortable that I plan to wear them all that I can . I’ll definitely get my money’s worth!

Thanks to my beautiful daughter who agreed to be my model. 😉❤️

Headbands and Hair Bows

I love this bow. I do not need this bow, but I WANT IT.

I mean, how could you not love and want this bow? It’s so cute, sweet, pretty, delicate, and colorful!

I have not found a reason to buy  it, but I still love it. As well as these.

Are these not ADORABLE????

If you are interested in shopping for these or other headbands or bows, you can find them here:

Crafty Mom-a on Facebook

and Craft Mom-a Creations on etsy

 

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make Kids Happy

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My grandson turned four years old last month. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he said that he wanted a kitten and a reacher. A reacher as in a device that is used to reach for/grab things with.

My husband has one so I guess that’s where he got the idea. Pap always makes things look like fun, and I guess that my grandson wanted to have as good a time as Pap does.

I wanted to make sure that that was what he really wanted, because it seemed a little too easy, even for a three/almost four year old. I asked him what he wanted a couple of other times and his answer was the same.

I should have known right away that it was true, because he and his brother have always been very easy to please. When his older brother was four, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas that year and his reply was that he wanted bandaids. 🙂

I just love how easy young kids are to please! Not that they wouldn’t be very happy with expensive or elaborate gifts, but they can be just as happy with very simple things.

I didn’t get my grandson a kitten because his parents were planning to let him pick one out himself. So I got him kitten accessories. And a reacher. And a package of bubble gum.

We know what he likes! It sure was  fun to see the little guy open his presents.

Scroll down to see what he got!

 

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A New Kind of Normal Around Here

Two years ago I worked three ten(nish) hour days a week at my nursing job. Four days a week I usually took a nap because I had nothing pressing to do. Not to mention that I LOVE naps.

Now I am working PRN (as needed, pre-scheduled days) at nursing. I rarely have time to take a nap. And I am  more tired and busier than ever.

The fact that I had nothing pressing to do two years ago was really a problem for me. I like to have something pressing to do (well, to a degree!). I like to feel that I am making a positive difference in the world.

That’s how I ended up becoming a foster parent. It was a long process, because I had to figure it out first. I knew I wanted to do something to help people, but it took awhile before I figured out that I wanted to try fostering.

Once I figured it out, my husband and I had to decide on what ages we would be willing to foster. We felt like we could really help older children and teens, who are harder to place in foster homes. Most people want to foster (and/or adopt)  younger children. We have raised three children and made it through their teen years, so we have learned a lot.

I began doing some research about fostering teens. I filled out a couple of online forms, and I ended up being contacted by an agency that specializes in case management of children with severe behavioral and emotional needs. And that is how we became foster parents of elevated needs children.

Needless to say, the last two years have seen an enormous change in our lives. But it’s been a change for the better. Now I wake up and I feel a sense of purpose each and every single day, whether I’m working at my nursing job or just at home for the day. Because either way, I have some important things to do!

 

Hosting a Vietnamese-American Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

My oldest child, my 34 year old son, got married over the weekend. The rehearsal dinner was on Friday, two days before the wedding, which was on Sunday.

This was my third  and last bio child to get married. I have two daughters who have both been married for years (the oldest has been married for thirteen years, and the youngest has been married for almost nine years).

I, along with a few helpers,  have prepared almost all of the food for the weddings and the rehearsal dinner. As you can imagine, this took quite a bit of research and preparation.

When I was thinking about doing the reception food for my oldest daughter’s wedding,  I did a lot of research and found a great resource book.  The name of the book is Cater Your Own Wedding: Easy Ways to Do It Yourself in Style. I ordered the book from Amazon. I believe that my copy was used, but I have ordered a lot of used books and rarely can you even tell that they are used.

This book was a life saver! It tells you what to do step by step. It takes any guess work out of hosting a large event; not just a wedding.