Sunday, June 18, 2017

Run fast for your mother, fast for your father.

(Title references a Florence and the Machine hit, 'dog days are over'.  Give her a listen--she'll make you run!)

Everett and I ran a 5k yesterday.  His first ever, and my first in three years!  It was a super fun event with lots of fun for kids and prizes to win!  I hope this is the beginning of a new box of memories for us to fill together!


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kids will tear you apart

This brain. It’s a puzzle that comes apart and I’ve assembled it back together more times than I can recall since the students I work with can’t quite seem to get the trick yet.  As I was putting it back together this afternoon it seemed fitting and metaphorical as it feels like this year I’ve had to reassemble myself on umpteen occasions as I would find myself feeling like my brain has been scrambled and pulled apart by kids—only to be left needing to be put back together again.

This is---figuratively—the life of an educator.

These kids will tear you apart.

They tear apart your understanding and what you think you know.  The students we are reaching now are worlds apart different then the kids I worked with 5-10 years ago.  As society, upbringing and technology changes, so do the cognitive processes and brain development of our students.  As a result, what worked back then—is starting to feel like an obsolete method of reaching kids.  Instead of the easy paced and comfortable run it used to feel like, now some days—most days—it feels like a full on sprint relay.  You go your fastest, hardest and smartest and then you try to pass on the baton to the next one as you catch your breath.  It’s societal, developmental, emotional and environmental.  Now the fact seems to be, if we don’t change to meet them where they are at, we’ll lose them.   Basically, it feels like I need to go back to school to figure it out.

They tear apart your emotional cool.  You become dysregulated on the daily as you watch students skyrocket and plummet in their emotional states and often times take it out on you—when it has nothing to do with you.  You are actually the only person they feel safe “letting it loose” on.  They can be disrespectful, tactless, hurtful and rude and sometimes when that is what you are exposed to on a regular basis, you can find your own emotional regulation to be much like a roller coaster ebbing and flowing up and down while on the outside you try your best to embody a calm, caring and empathetic demeanor.  Or on the flip side, sometimes they come to you and confide in you about some really awful things that no child should have to endure or even have thoughts about as you try to lovingly listen to them while hot tears run down your cheek that you try to choke back.   And then at the end of the day—what happens?  We convince ourselves that we are not fit for this work anymore. Not good enough, skilled enough or passionate enough. We go home and often release the kraken of built up emotion on our most loved and precious relationships or we withdraw and seclude ourselves because any more human interaction is just “too much”.    

They tear apart what worked for you before. Well, at the beginning of the year XYZ worked, but now that’s no longer working so you go from plan to plan to plan to set them up for success—another reason to lose your emotional cool.  Just when you get into a rhythm of strategies that prove to be successful and you feel like a rock star—you have a handful of little friends that completely challenge that and bring you back to square one.  This, in essence, is the Olympic sport portion of working in schools.  Pushing yourself and your own philosophy and mental models to the extreme in order to find that holy nugget of a plan that will work for your students most in need.  FYI, they don’t teach you how to do that in your master’s program.

They tear apart your heart.  Some of them, you invest hours or even years into and then they suddenly leave without warning and you’re left with a hole.  Some of them you have to make the choice to protect and advocate for even if it means displacing them from their home environment.  Some of them shine bright like stars and remind you of the joys of working with kids.  Some test your passion of why you went into education as you invest so much into them and it seems like no progress has been made.  And some play with your heart day in and day out as you see them fall apart over and over again, you see them pick up their pieces and start over, you see them find courage in asking for help, you see them have light bulb moments, you see them emerge into leaders, you see them discover their talents, you see them overcome struggles, you see them mature and then one day—maybe---have the privilege to see them as young adults ready to embark on a new adventure into adulthood as really great human beings—thanks to the so many seeds that were planted along the way by educators—seeds that you don’t always get to see grow in your presence, but know they are there.

And then they leave you on the last day apart in pieces on the ground needing to be picked back up again. Insert summer where the school year amnesia begins to form and then we come back in the fall and do it all over again. Your brain is pieced back together—refreshed, whole and energetic towards a new clean slate of a year.  Perhaps it’s a cruel and unusual punishment to work in education and let kids tear us apart, but in hindsight—at the end of our careers—there is no doubt in my mind that we will have full hearts as we look back on the garden we helped to grow from the seeds we work as a team to sprinkle. 

(Disclaimer: I refer to myself as an educator because I work as a licensed school counselor. I am not and have not been a licensed teacher, so this is purely from my perspective in my work with students and does not speak for all educators.  Teachers are superheroes and I surely could not do what they do!)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The little room that waits

There is a room in our house that is building with suspense, love, worry, joy, fear, excitement and faith.

let me explain.

We have always known we wanted to expand our family and felt in our hearts that this would not be through our own blood.  In our minds, we always thought this was the straight route of adoption.  A couple years ago we met adoption counselors to gain insight on the process and get all the nuts and bolts details.  Our hearts were ready, but we felt unsure of taking the plunge--particularly financially--adoption comes at a huge cost--one of which can be straining for many families.  So a few more months pass and we seek out another adoption agency--one that I have had a couple of friends go through.  We sat through their information class---lots of hard and fast facts---no fluff.  I felt like hearing it like that made me feel more prepared.  So, soon after that, we filled out the initial consultation paperwork to apply for domestic adoption.  I had the $65 fee check ready to go in the mail.  It's still a little fuzzy to me about how it all changed, but a big change happened before it actually made it into the mail.

I had always stubbornly and very firmly been against foster care--all for selfish reasons.  'What if I can't handle it?' 'What if they aren't nice to our kids?' 'What if we get attached and then they get taken away again?' 'What if I don't feel a bond with them?'.  I say selfish, but I do believe these are all very natural and human reactions to such a circumstance as well. Anyways, these thoughts were very much barriers to me considering foster care--but Curtis, being more open minded to it, asked me to consider.  Then, I would say, within a two week period of praying, reading blogs, watching documentaries of lives changed through foster care and just truly thinking about it, my heart completely softened for this opportunity and I felt like I had to consider it.  Still a bit nervous we talked about it and decide to attend some informational meetings with the county.  I still remember literally trembling at lunch afterwards in an Arby's talking about the details and being flooded with terror and excitement simultaneously.  Are we really doing this?

We decided that this is where God had placed us.  This is what felt right.  Somehow He made the most seemingly unnatural circumstance seem like it was a fit for us.  So we allowed God to prepare our hearts to love on another that is not our own through foster care with the intent to adopt.  We started that process to become licensed in the fall of 2016 and in March we got our license.  We've gone through pages of pages of paper work and hours and hours of training to get to this point.

This point is a weird point.  It's a point of celebration in knowing we are able and willing legally and emotionally to care for a child that is not our own.  Yet, it is also a point of waiting.  And not being entirely sure what to wait for.  We don't know gender, age, behavior, history, trauma, and we have no idea when.  None. At all.  For me, a planner, this is completely unnatural for me and is not following the construct of my wirings to plan and nest and ready everything for a little visitor.  Yet,  We are amazingly at peace and feel so free in knowing that God has taken care of it all and we just need to keep our hearts ready for this experience.

Some details:

  • We have been licensed foster care parents now since March and our license is good for 12 months.  After 12 months we need to attend 12 hours of training to renew.
  • We have applied for the foster to adopt program, in which our caseworkers are knowing that our end hope is to adopt (though the county and state focuses on reunification with the birth family).  They are looking for cases in which the child has already had parental rights terminated or is likely going to soon.
  • We are licensed to care for 0-3 year olds.  We are willing to take 2 children if the older sibling is younger than Greyleigh.
  • We are completely open to gender, race, birth trauma, etc.
  • We could technically get a call any minute now and may only have a few hours to get ready.  We can decline any opportunity we don't see fit.
  • We will get paid a sum each month to pay for clothing, food, necessities, but this is not nor has it ever been a priority to us.  Our goal in the end, should it be right, is adoption.

The kids are very excited and ask just about daily when the new baby will be here.  It's a bit hard for them to understand, which I can empathize with as I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it.  The thought of tonight being us, just as we are, a family of four, and then with one phone call that could all change---it's so crazy.  

I surely still have thoughts and fears, but I feel like our purpose now is to provide a loving home to a child that otherwise is not coming from one---whether for a short or long time---my goal is to make sure that child---or those children----know what love is.  In the end we may end up giving a child a forever/more stable home, or we may just spend months or years loving on little babes and ministering to their families before they are reunified--I have no idea at this point, and right now, that's ok. 

Feel free to follow along as I will post updates here occasionally and talk more about the process.  Also, feel free to send any prayers our way---we could use 'em as we are in this waiting limbo excitedly and fearfully awaiting the journey ahead!

Our little room that waits:  :) 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017 Camping Adventure #1: Country Camping-Isanti, MN

We're back at it in the old Nomad--emphasis on the 'old' as it proved to give us some trouble this time, but alas, we ventured on!  Our first trip of the season was just a stones throw away in Isanti at a nice little campground called "Country Camping". It offered a handful of tucked away secluded spots, which of course being an introvert, I snatched one of those up right away!  It was quiet, blissful and a great refresh for the family--we got to stretch our camping muscles and get a taste of summer adventures ahead.  This campsite had a nice playground at the center of the site, which our kids spent a lot of time making new friends at and it also offered a heated pool and splash pad, which were not yet open, but we plan to check it out again later this summer.  Here are some highlights from Country Camping!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Double Birthday Party!

Because I'm an awesome mom and super on top of my business, here's a post of a pile of pictures (unedited and grainy at that) from the kids' joint birthday party from nearly 2 months ago.  Hold your applause.  I forgot to invite some key buddies, the wind blew the party into a mess, I only had 5 candles on Everett's cake and one little dude ended up with a bloody nose, but alas, I think the kids were oblivious to the chaos I felt was swirling around.
Also, note how awesome we were to make Grey endure her birthday extravaganza while feverish and sick.  Clearly, she was super into it as you can tell from the pictures.  Sigh.  Being mom of the year is hard guys.

In all seriousness though.  Being a parent is hard.  It's pretty much the hardest job ever, right?  But when I look back at these pictures, I see fun, wild, crazy and happy kids (minus Grey :( ) and in the end that's all that matters.  Not the tablecloths or the cakes, not the games or party favors and not the decorations.  I'm almost certain that they will not remember a lick of that stuff (and Grey still doesn't remember she had a party, poor girl), but they will remember that we took the time to bring some friends together to celebrate them.  I've never been asked by my children, "Mom can I have Pinterest style cake with the theme of my choice followed by handmade bunting and banners mixed in with some really fun DIY games that show off how well you can copy someone else's idea----oh yeah and I want you to spend about 3.5 hours putting together my party favors?" Nope. Never been asked that.  I was asked for a Star Wars and an Ariel themed party though and for them that means a sloppy homemade cake, a couple balloons and plastic tablecloths---and they were pleased as pie guys!  I'm not saying that we shouldn't go all out and above and beyond for these precious treasures, for some of you that is your talent and joy!  But we should surely NOT kill ourselves or stress doing it.  They are so simple and easy to please and the most forgiving little spirits.  Don't put so much pressure on yourselves--they don't expect it.  And I'm pretty sure "Pinterest perfection" is not Biblical.  Don't get me wrong guys, I love the Pinterest, but sometimes if I let it, it can be a foothold for Satan to show me all that I'm NOT doing.  Dude, my kids are still little and they don't even know what Pinterest is! I've got a few more precious years of ignorance and innocence to capitalize on before they are aware of what else is out there!  They don't know that the blogger or instagrammer you follow went all out and spent $500 and 60 hours putting together their kids' party ---so don't torture yourselves comparing yourself to them while your kid just wants YOU.   They expect your presence over your perfection.  It's ok to be simple. So, take a break from those unneeded and unattainable expectations you're filling your brain with---stop letting the world tell you you're a bad parent because you don't do X, Y and Z.  You punch that thought in the kisser and do your thing.  These pictures tell me a different story than what I was thinking in the chaotic moment of it all and for that I'm glad and thankful.

(besides this one here, this one is just plain sad)

The next day G was back to normal and she DID get to blow out her candles :)
(also, laundry is overrated--see evidence from wearing same shirt two days in a row. )


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