"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting Schooled

Well, I've been gone for a few days as things have been super hectic here in Drosche Land as we prepped for another school year. You can imagine how busy we have been with both Amy and    being teachers and having the 5 kids. But all is well and we have survived the beginning of August which was filled with meetings, preparations, classroom setup, meetings for T & L, and just life in general. We survived!  Today was the first day of school for all of us. Amy lucked out with a 1/2 day while the kids and I jumped in fully with a whole day. All in all it went very well. There were no tears this morning when getting ready. No tears when taking pictures, which I love to do. No tears during drop offs. That in and of itself is a success!  Everyone came home excited and exhausted. They are all asleep now but I, for some reason cannot fall asleep. So here I sit, telling you about our day. 

Stella. This year she is in the Toddler 2s class. Little Miss. Look at her. She was so excited to meet her new teacher, she talked about her for the past few days. She is potty trained and ready to go. Full of sass as always but sweet on the inside. Right now she is I so fully into wearing dresses which she proudly proclaims as a "pretty dress" over and over. So we let her wear one for the first day. She also loves her new shoes that light up (thanks Mom!). They are adorable. Right now in life she loves to play with all things girly still. Dolls, stuffed animals, purses, anything pink, bows, etc. Barbies are just around the corner!  Favorite foods are noodles and rice, she's a carb loader. She also loves fruit and French fries (carbs again). Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins are her favorite shows and she is obsessed with any princess movie, The Princess and the Frog and Sleeping Beauty are in full rotation now. She's a firecracker and has us all wrapped around her little finger.  Again, I'll mention her sassiness, oh my!  

Jackson. First Grade this year!  As you know he has come to St. Mark with Braeden, Stella, and I and I am so excited. That means that he is in my class and is the second of our children that I will have taught. He is one of a kind. We have found a good balance of medicine for his ADHD and he is thriving and focused. He loves numbers and anything mathematical. Right now I think he may be heading toward something related to engineering, I could totally see that. He's obsessed with his Kindle and Minecraft. He loves superheroes and collecting feathers (he found a blue jay one on the way to the car this afternoon). He loves being an older brother and dotes on Stella and L. While cartoons of any kind are still loved, he is getting to the age where he loves the Disney tween shows. Jessie, Austin & Ally, and I Didn't Do That to name a few. He had a great first day of school today and is excited to have me in class. With him being at Epiphany last year with Amy I really haven't seen him in an educational setting until today so that was interesting. With as outgoing as people think him to be, he is actually very analytical, sensitive, and quiet. He spent the majority of today just taking in the new surroundings and watching, assessing, and learning. I know he will come out of his shell eventually, he just takes slowly to new situations. But he is a trooper and there isn't anything he can't do if he puts his mind to it. 

Braeden. Third Grade. Seriously?!  Where has the time gone?  Oh he loved today and came home full of talk about his binder, planner, and all the procedures he learned. He loves school and is always excited to start a new year. He proudly proclaimed that today was going to be easy because, "first days are always easy because yet you don't have any homework yet!"  Just wait little man, just wait. He has always been, and still is, our athletic one. There isn't a sport he won't watch or want to play.  He would have the TV tuned to ESPN all day everyday if we would let him. He also is obsessed with video games, sometimes glued to his Playstation 3 and Kindle. He loves to read and is always wanting to start a new book, if only we could get him to finish one!  Like Jackson he is fully into the Disney tween shows. I think he truly believes he is going to turn 16 any minute!  Help us when he does becaus we already are dealing with some of that preteen attitude!  Oh my!  But he is an excellent oldest child, always wiling to pull extra weight and help ell out when needed with the many younger children. He has a huge heart and is a compassionate person, never thinking the worst of anyone.

T & L. Obviously I can't share their photos here. But they started today as well. T in PreK and L in Waddlers. They have adjusted to school very well considering they have never been in a group care setting.  T's teacher said she had a great day and was very excited to be there. Possibly the highlight of her day was her new backpack that she has been dying to carry since we bought it about a week ago. Her teacher is amazing and knows of the situation. She has been nothing but supportive and helpful. No matter how short of a time T is in her class, I know she will do well.  L has the same teachers Stella had last year so that was a smooth transition for us. We know she will be well cared for and loved. Her report today came with a picture of her with a huge grin on her face. She enjoyed it. She also is doing so well and that is exciting. Her teachers also are so thoughtful and caring, which we already knew when dealing with Stella and her allergies last year. 

Amy and I also had great days today. Our classes are awesome and the kiddos great. We are off to a great start. Amy is happy to be teaching the same grade for a second year and the stability and familiarity that comes along with that. I am so blessed to be at St. Mark and am loving it as always. 

So, all in all it was a great first day. Sure there will be days when things are far worse, but maybe I'll come back and read this post during those times to remind me of the good. This year is going to be a great one. It started off a little crazy with the girls' placement and all that has come with that, but we are adjusting and adapting. I know we will have a great time this year, all of us. It's so exciting. Everything is new and fresh. Everyone is excited and eager. I love my job. Well, I think sleep may finally come so I will wrap this up for tonight. One great day down and just a 170ish more to go!  Ha!

All is well, getting educated, in Drosche Land. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Visiting Hours

Well, the last we spoke Amy and I were preparing for our first visit with the girls' family.  Well, that was last Thursday and it went well. I mean, I guess it went well. We are newbies and have no frame of reference. However, it wasn't our worst case scenario, not by far. Therefore it was a success. 

Obviously given the circumstances of our meeting in the first place, it was awkward. I mean, how could it not be?  But the family members we met were nice. They introduced themselves and we did likewise. They did thank us for taking care of the girls and we obviously praised the girls and said good things.  Then we left them to their visit and spoke with our caseworker and filled out some paperwork. The hour actually went by pretty quickly. When it was over we talked a bit more, sharing some of the current details about T and L. They were enjoying school, playing with our biological 3, our dogs, etc. then it was time to go. 

Probably the biggest news was the fact that we found out a family member is interested in pursuing custody of the girls. This is a good thing. The goal of Foster Care is the mending and reunification of family and Amy and I totally support that. We don't know much more other than that though. There is no timetable. The girls could be with us for a week, a month, or longer. It all just depends on the process. So for now we just continue as we have been. Day by day. Minute to minute. 

Amy does have a phone conference with some family members tomorrow so we will see if that brings any answers or new information. We also still have to meet our new caseworker, also something that should provide some further clarity. 

Overall though the first visit was good. Interesting. It was surreal honestly. To even be in that position, one we never imagined or thought we would ever be in, was something to take in. But it was positive and it was something that I am glad we did, meeting the girls' family. Putting names to faces. Allowing them to see and meet us. I think it was good.

All is well, post visit, in Drosche Land. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

One Week In

Ok. So a week and a day technically. But I was tired yesterday and chose to veg and sleep rather than blog. 5 kids will do that to you!

But anywho. We've had the girls for a week now. And boy has it been a week. A rollercoaster would be an understatement. There have been amazing highs and ridiculous lows, often in the same day. But we are seeing progress in both girls. Slowly but surely. I think I said it before and I have heard it from countless other foster families, in person and via blogs, that you live day to day. Especially at the beginning

So I obviously can't share too much about the girls, although I'm dying to. I know pictures are a no but I'm not sure about names. So I'll stick to L for the youngest, 13 month old, and T for the older 4 year old. That way I can refer to them. 

L is doing well. She's young so she can adapt more easily and I is more flexible. We are working on weaning her from the binky and that is our major step with her. When we got her she had it in her mouth all the time. Now she only uses it for naptime and bedtime. See, we are just not binky people. Braeden was easily weaned. Jackson loved his and was more difficult. But by 13 months they were well past it. Stella didn't want to have anything to do with them past a month so it was never an issue. L though was a trough addict. But the good thing, in spite of the crying and screaming that comes with weaning, is that her verbal skills are rapidly increasing. She has found her voice and is not afraid to use it. Loudly. Anywhere. But that's a good thing. We will work on volume and words as we go. All in due time. 

T is a bit different. Being older she is more set in her ways and has more experiences to guide her each day. But she still has made some progress, albeit slow going. We work mainly on manners and rules to keep her and others safe. Baby steps. Slowly but surely. She and Stella have butted heads quite a bit though so that is our biggest hurdle right now.  Working on their relationship.  As you know Stella is quite headstrong and is used to being the sole female child in the house. Having someone else come in has been a bit hard for her. Plus first impressions were not the best so she is still holding onto that. But there are glimmers of hope. They do play together well occasionally. They do talk somewhat. Baby steps.

We have also been humbled so much and have seen His hand and the goodness of others so much lately. So many friends, coworkers, and others have stepped up to help provide the girls with clothing and shoes, food for the family, a listening ear, and other much-needed things. The things we never could have been prepared for when waiting for an emergency placement. There have been tears of joy and gratitude abounding and it makes our hearts swell. Just another way in which we know He is helping and guiding us on this adventure. 

Amy and I are hanging in there. We also have our good days and our not-so-good days.  Being a foster parent is a whirlwind of emotions, daily. Frustrating. Rewarding. Heartwarming. Trying. I could go on but I think you get the picture. However, at the end of the day we are confident that we are doing what He has called us to do.  We take it step by step and try to remember to seek His help along the way. We also are being sure to make time for ourselves, together and individually. Our runs have become therapeutic and we make sure to get them in. 

There is also the fact that we are back at work.  Our jobs have become somewhat of a respite too as we were told they would. Being with our friends and other adults is helping. Working and occupying our brains is helping. It's nice to be busy planning for the beginning of the year and giving our if minds a break from everything else. It's healthy. 

Which brings me to the fact that the girls have attended St. Mark for 2 days now. They are doing well. L has taken to her teachers and friends and is adjusting. She cries a bit but is enjoying it. T is with Braeden and Jackson since it's care for Faculty/Staff kids so that's good. Plus the daughters of a good friend/coworker of our are there too. So we are hoping it will be a good, slow transition to an actual school day. 

Wow. Just like that I have talked your ear off. But blogging is therapeutic too so thanks for listening.  I could go on and I am always blogging in my brain but I will wrap it up here. One last thing is that the girls have their first family visit tomorrow. Amy and I are nervous about this since it is our first time. We are also nervous about the potential for regression and mood changes afterward. But we are praying and know that He is with us as always. So I'll update on that later as well. Along with all of the other foster care stuff in my brain to share. But it's getting late and this is getting long. I think everyone is asleep so maybe I'll veg out with some Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You know I love me some of that!

All is well, one week in, in Drosche Land.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Final Days

So we are officially in the final days of summer vacation.  Technically I always consider the last Friday (yesterday) to be the final day since a weekend is just a weekend. So that means summer is over for us here in Drosche Land since Amy and I both report back to our schools on Monday. 

In the last post I shared our good news about our foster care placement.  Well, after the first court date we learned that the girls would remain in CPS custody and thus with us. For how long?  We don't know. We do know that some family members (but we don't know who) did express interest. However, they too would have to go through the process we went through this past year as they explore a kinship placement.  That is all also dependent upon what CPS and the court think about that. So basically it doesn't mean much. We do know that the next court date it set for early September, so the girls will likely be here for at least that long. 

I know what you're thinking. Yes, our personal end result was a permanent adoption placement. However, you'll recall that we went dual-track and have accepted these girls as a foster care placement. The goal of foster care is to help families and help them to stay together. Amy and I fully support this as family and the health of the children are first and foremost. We always knew a temporary foster care placement was a risk/possibility, but it was one we were willing to take. So basically we are waiting. Anything could happen at any time. We just don't know. In this process nothing is "routine" or predictable since eveythting is dependent upon each family's situation and circumstances. So we wait. The one thing we do know is that HE has placed these girls with us.  We don't know the timing of anything, nor can we possibly ever predict the end of our adoption journey. We trust that HE has an ultimate plan for us and we are doing our best to stay open to it, listen, and follow. We take it all day by day. 

Having said that, these past few days have been busy as I am sure you can imagine. 5 kids. 5. Kids. That's a lot.  But it's not impossible, nor is it unbearable. Everyone is still working out their roles and relationships but we are seeing some progress. Yesterday was a rough day honestly. Today was better. I can't and won't go into too much detail right now, but suffice it to say we are all learning and working together. At the end of the day though, Amy and I know that progress is slow-going and the road will have twists, turns, and setbacks. But there have also been wonderful moments full of smiles and laughter. It's a rollercoaster. An adventure. 

So, another summer has come and gone. June was pretty normally-paced but I am not sure about July, much of it was a blur. Disney World. A new truck. Vacations. A placement. We were certainly busy but enjoyed ourselves fully. As much fun as we had, it will be nice to get back into our school routine. We are also hoping that this helps with the transition of the girls and gets us all into a stable and comfortable routine. The girls will be attending school at St. Mark with me, Braeden, Jackson (did I mention he's moving to my school?), and Stella. Amy is keeping them home Monday to finish up some of the last to-do list items of the placement and then they will begin on Tuesday. This will give them some time to easily transition into St. Mark before the actual school year begins. 

Well I hope your summer was fun and enjoyable. I know ours was. Are you happy to see it ended?  Sad?  Ready?  I'm sure it's a mix of emotions as it is here for us. 

All is well, it's August, in Drosche Land.