Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happy New Year!

Although it is the story of my life to be behind in blogging, I wanted to add this post tonight. Alyssa headed off to a New Year’s dance for youth at the church and wanted to buy a formal dress for the occasion. Here are some pictures of her before she headed out the door. Doesn’t she look gorgeous?
new-years-eve-dress

close-up
Once you hit my age, ringing in the New Year doesn’t seem so exciting. I have kids right now watching a very touching DVD on the life of Emma Smith, trying to stay up one more hour so they can say Happy New Year. I hope we don’t pay for it tomorrow as getting the sleep schedule “off” for a bipolar child is not usually a wise idea.new-years-eve-2008

watching-movie-on-new-years-eve
Jeff is supposedly watching the movie as well, but is soundly sleeping on the sofa. Whenever this happens if I wake him, he claims not to be sleeping, but merely “checking his eyelids for cracks.” I don’t think he would appreciate me adding a photo of him snoozing on the couch.

Less than an hour and I can put kids to bed after shooting off a couple of illegal firecrackers out in the cul-de-sac that we have saved from Independence day. Then it will be off to pick up Alyssa about 12:45 and I can finally hit the hay myself. Happy New Year to all of you and may you have a blessed and prosperous 2009.

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Filed under celebrations, Holidays, Parenting

Merry Christmas

A beautiful video that I wanted to share.

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Filed under Christmas, Religion

Keeping Christmas Eve

Every year I get frustrated, saying that Christmas has become too commercialized, and yet not wanting to disappoint children, I find myself joining the rest of the throngs who buy, buy, buy at Christmas time.  I love Christmas eve because that is when my family takes the time to focus on Christ and his birth. Taylor with Christmas lightsThis picture of my son Taylor 18 years ago pretty much sums up how I feel about Christmas eve. It should be quiet and peaceful with a warm glow as we honor our Savior by recognizing his sacred birth. The spirit that is felt with a fire crackling in the fireplace and the lights glowing on the tree as we read from Luke chapter 2 brings peace to my soul. Christmas morning, the focus seems to be too much on “What did you buy me?” or “What didn’t I get that I really wanted?” For me, Christmas morning is anticlimactic as the focus shifts from Christ back to materialism.

I’ve heard the phrase “Keeping Christmas” many times as it refers to serving others throughout the year. I don’t want to “Keep Christmas”, however; I want to keep Christmas eve. As a matter of fact, I wish I could make the feeling of Christmas eve last forever. I can if I am willing to try. This year I am not giving in to the spending that normally happens.  An economic recession has given me the boost that I needed to truly say, “Let’s stop the nonsense of buying so much and focus more on the true meaning of Christmas.”

What would Christ want me to do? Does he really want His birth celebrated by people spending more money than they have? What did He do while He lived on this earth? He healed the sick and raised the dead;  those who were both literally sick and deceased, and others who were spiritually so.  Most of us don’t have the power to do that, but we do have the power to lighten the burden of those whose hands fall down and whose knees are weak.

We can do little things. We can give a hug to someone who lives alone and who hungers for the touch of another. We can smile to a frazzled cashier in a store and thank them for their hard work  when the lines are long and children are crying.  We can let another driver cut in line when the traffic is snarled and nerves are frayed.

When my daughter asks to me to read a book to her and the list of unsent Christmas cards is long and the ingredients for unbaked goodies are still on the counter, I can say, “I’d love to read with you. Go get a book and hop on my bed!” After all, didn’t Christ serve the children even when the disciples said he was too tired and tried to turn them away?

Last night I went with a group of friends from my church and sang at a home where many homeless come to get a meal. We put on a short Christmas program of scriptures telling the story of Christ’s birth, intermixed with Christmas carols. Right before we started, one of my friends asked those listening to sing along with us if they desired. I am so glad she added that, because to see the joy on some of these people’s faces as they sang was priceless. One woman had a face that was etched in scars. I’m sure she has a tough story to tell, but the joy in her eyes as she sang with us of Christ’s birth brought true beauty to her countenance.

There was a refugee family present from Africa who was clearly Muslim as the mother and her daughters were wearing headscarves. Thankfully, there was no ACLU representative to tell them that they should be offended since we were singing of Christ. Instead, the woman caught my eye as I sang, and a broad grin flashed across her face. For that brief moment, my heart spoke to hers. I sang of Christ, she probably speaks of Allah. And yet, we are both daughters of the same God, even though we give Him different names. It’s moments like that, that help me keep Christmas eve in my heart.

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Filed under Cochlear Implants, Parenting, Random thoughts, Religion, Uncategorized

Braidlocks

Yes, we decided to go ahead and keep the locs, but the more I looked at them, the more I decided that I really wanted even smaller ones. I love the look of sisterlocks and how versatile they seem, so over the span of 3 or 4 days last month, I slowly undid her microbraids and redid them even smaller. She went from about 130 locks to exactly 269. Yes, I counted them when we washed them for the first time. newly-locked-right-side1

newly-locked-left-side

I am so glad I did because I love the look of them now. She’s even had her first retightening of about half of her head, which we did with the nappylocks tool. I think we are both really going to love these as they start to mature because they will thicken up a bit so you won’t see as much of her scalp, and we both love the carefree feeling of not having to worry about starting a new hairdo for hours every two weeks. She is loving the feeling of being “wash and wear” as we can spritz them with water in the morning if they are too mussed from sleeping, and then off she goes to school. newly-locked-back

newly-locked-top

I do admit that I miss many of the fun hairdos that I used to be able to do, but she doesn’t miss the hours and hours of sitting while watching movies as Mom cornrowed her hair. Now, unless we are retightening, which I think will be about every 5 weeks for us, she is free to do whatever she wants while she watches a movie. No more watching out of the corner of her eye while Mom worked on a side of her head! 🙂 Just for fun, here are a few of the hairdos we have done in the past.

Fourth of July hairdo

with extensions

twist-out

cornrows

flat twists to box braids

flat twists to box braids -front

individual-twists

curving cornrows

First grade photo --3 months before deciding on locs

As her locs grow, we will be able to start doing more fun hairdos, and I am excited to try them as I have become a loc-blog junkie. I read countless blogs by women who have locked hair and am thrilled to see how happy they are with their natural hair. As Micheline grows, they will be great examples for her on why she should keep her hair natural. I absolutely love it and am so glad we are taking this step! As you can see, the finished product is gorgeous!
beautiful girl, beautiful locs

beautiful shot with gorgeous locs

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Filed under Hair care, locs, Parenting, Uncategorized

Reviewed by the state

When we started our foster care licensing journey, I inwardly laughed at those who told me it took them over 6 months to become licensed. I scoffed when our agency told us it would be at least 4 months and maybe closer to 6. After all, I was the dossier queen. I could put an entire dossier together for an international adoption in well under four months. This included a homestudy update, physicals, police clearances, a bazillion documents such as birth certificates and our marriage license, immigration applications, and being fingerprinted for clearance by the FBI. I also had all of my documents certified by the state and then authenticated by the Haitian consulate in Chicago and got the entire dossier translated into French before I sent it via DHL to Haiti. I was convinced I would show these people how it was done and how fast we could actually become licensed foster parents.

A Haitian adoption, unlike a Chinese one, also requires a psychological evaluation of both parents. Had we received the eval after our arduous foster care process, we probably would not have passed as I am convinced that this journey is making me crazy.

We received an email from the state today informing us that our file has finally been submitted for review…9 months after we started this journey. Our first required parenting classes were canceled, leaving us to wait for the next session. “No problem…they can do our homestudy update while we wait”, I thought. Ha! Shows my ignorance. Our agency doesn’t do homestudy updates until you have finished the entire 10 week MAPP classes in case you decide to change your mind about foster care.

So we put in our 30 hours and had our little graduation celebration, believe it or not last June. Only problem was, Jeff missed two classes due to Boy Scout camp, so he had to make them up in yet the next session of classes. Meanwhile, no one was in a rush to update our homestudy, and our licensing worker quit without informing us. After a month of no contact from her, we got a call from a new licensing worker telling us that our previous worker no longer worked for the agency. She started requesting paperwork that we had submitted once already, but we dutifully faxed it off yet a second time.

In the meantime, we waited and waited for the state to contact us for our home inspection. They came and we passed and then they told us we could only be approved for ages 7 and up because our spa wasn’t fenced. This is a spa that has a safety cover and is empty. No matter; we could fill it after he left, the inspector said, so fencing the spa became the next project.

After fencing it, we of course had to wait for the state to set another appointment with us to check that it truly was fenced to regulation standards. Since the inspectors come from a larger city 100 miles to the north, they don’t just show up two days after being contacted. One must wait until they are coming to do other home inspections which is usually at least 4 weeks after the initial contact.

To add insult to injury, on our second appointment date the inspector showed up two hours early when I had just stepped out of the shower. There was no way I was going to miss him and have to set up yet another date, so I hollered out for him to wait and then threw on some clothes, put a towel on my head and let him through the house to see the spa in the backyard. No apologies for showing up early. Rather, he seemed a bit perturbed that he had to wait for me to get to the door.

Our licensing worker let me know this week that she was passing our homestudy on to her supervisor and that the supervisor review was the last step before it was submitted to the state. “Oh…and could you resend your dog’s proof of rabies and car registration and proof of car insurance, since I don’t seem to have the documentation of those.” No matter that I had faxed all of them months ago. I am beginning to believe their fax machine eats more documents than my dryer eats socks. Either that, or the faxes print and drop into a wastebasket below the machine.

I’m really not complaining about our licensing worker. She has been great. I fear the previous worker never took the time to pass on our documents to the new one and somehow papers got lost.
Believe it or not, the supervisor called today and said everything looked good and was a go. Within an hour I had an email from the state saying that our foster care application is now under review.

The state has 60 days to review the application, but most other foster parents in our state said that theirs was approved within two weeks. Judging from how the rest of the process has gone, I’m not holding my breath, but it is so nice to know that we are in the home stretch.

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Filed under Adoption, Foster Care

Little blue men

smurfToday Caleb hopped off the bus with a grin from ear to ear. He was toting a gingerbread house that he had made during his ESL class yesterday. He proudly set it on the table and asked if I would take a picture of it so we could remember it before he started eating the candies off of it. I was busy with about 5 tasks all at the same time so I told him “just a minute”, and then of course didn’t get to it.

He has been picking up slang from other kids at school and often uses it incorrectly or mispronounces it. Today he became impatient that I had not taken a picture of his house and said, “Hurry up, Mom and take a picture before I smurf it.” Ummm…would that be snarf it son?

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Filed under ESL, Funnies

Running on fumes

exhaustedNo, this blog has not been abandoned…it just appears that way.  Often when I tell myself that I will blog that evening, I fall into bed instead with my eyes closed before my head even hits the pillow. I used to laugh at Jeff when he could fall asleep anytime, anywhere; until I fell asleep last week while reading to Micheline…at 4 in the afternoon. Didn’t think it was possible to fall asleep mid-sentence while reading aloud, but it really is. When your child says, “Mooom, you’re not saying anything and you’re supposed to be reading to me”, it’s time to be getting more sleep at night.

Problem is, Ben’s bipolar disorder likes to make him feel rarin to go in the middle of the night when the rest of us would prefer some shut-eye.  There’s nothing that can disturb your sleep like having a child wander the house at 3 a.m., trying to see what he can get into. That and tending to the special needs of other children during the middle of the night lead me to feeling like a snake each day that appears to have its eyes open, but the inner eyelid is already shut!

I have some great photos of Micheline’s birthday, her baptism, locking her hair, and other posts I need to write, but they are currently on hold until the frenzy of the holidays is finished. There are some things that can wait until after Christmas day, and those posts are going to just have to be one of them.

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Filed under Parenting