Three Week Update.

Things are going relatively smoothly here with A and E’s transition. I would say that they are doing better than I expected. I am doing worse than I expected…just worn out and emotionally drained from responding patiently to tantrums (so far I’m doing well), teaching concepts constantly that would generally be taught to toddlers…sharing, taking turns, using gentle hands, being a good loser, having patience. I expected to be exhausted and for the whole thing to be quite taxing for many months, and so far I am right. I would say that things are good overall. The attachment process is a long one for children, parents, and siblings, but we are off to a good start.

Sibling rivalry has been the biggest problem. The four kids are trying to figure out their new place in this family. That comes with a lot of battles.

And of course there are a lot of expectations and routines in a stable family that you don’t find in an unstable family. And that takes some getting used to. I am actually amazed at how well A and E are adjusting to our family life. It feels like they were craving this stability and adult attention, and so far they are thriving in that.

HOWEVER. Insert Social Services here. Insert the reality of foster care here. The KIDS are transitioning fine. It’s the SYSTEM that we’re having trouble with. AGAIN.

We were very clear about our criteria for placement with these kids, and social services and our foster family agency were very clear about what we were accepting when we took these kids. Except that now they are changing their tune. Is anyone involved in foster care surprised here? I can hear knowing, cynical chuckling from across the country.

Because we’ve been in emotional upheaval for the past two years with Midge, Greg and I agreed that we were not willing to take on visitations with our next kiddos. They become such a drain on our time and emotional well-being. We need some time to help our family recover from losing Midge and regain some normalcy. So we told the agency we would not do visitations.

And these kids came with two 2 hour visits a week (one with each parent.) BUT we were assured by both the county placement worker who was working directly with our foster family agency (FFA) and assured by our agency placement worker that the visitations would take place at a monitored visitation facility. This was already in place and we would not have to monitor. In fact, we would only have to transport for a little while until the order for transportation went through and was cleared. So we accepted the placement.

Now three weeks in they are telling us that it is standard procedure for the county to refuse to fund/host monitored visits at their visitation centers or to transport once a case moves to an FFA. The FFA is supposed to be responsible for the visits at that point. And we know from vast experience that our FFA relies heavily on foster families to monitor and transport for visits. They offer up interns to help when they can, but ultimately the burden falls on me. Which is why we weren’t accepting placements requiring visits. And did anybody at the FFA mention this standard procedure to us when we were talking about this placement FOR A WHOLE MONTH? No.

Greg and I struggled with what to do here. In the end, we both agree that we are in a life stage with our kids where we just don’t feel like it would be wise to take on the responsibility for monitoring visitations for these or any other foster kids. We made this clear to our agency before placement, and we were misinformed by our agency, whether intentionally or unintentionally, about the distinct possibility of needing to monitor visits for these kids.

So I stayed intentionally vague when my agency case manager and my county social worker were talking about visitations the other day. I gave them a chance to hash it out so that they could follow through with taking care of the visitations as they said they would.

But I got an email from my agency case manager on Thursday, saying that they could monitor one of the two hour visits but we would have to monitor the other one. And we would have to transport for all visits. I know from experience that as time moves on, the agency monitoring one of the visits could very well fall through, and the whole burden of the visits would fall on us. Not to mention if/when they increase the visits to twice a week for each parent. We are not willing and able to take on this burden. So I wrote the following letter. I hope with all my heart that these kids don’t have to be ripped from another family, just when they are starting to attach and feel safe. But I need to remember that none of this was our fault. We were clear about what we could and couldn’t do, and if a move has to happen, the agency and the county are the ones at fault. But that doesn’t make it any easier on these kids. Which makes me really, really sad for them, and for all the other kids in foster care who are jerked around as if their needs don’t matter.

The letter reads:

In regards to the recent request for us to begin transporting and monitoring visits for E and A, we need to clarify several issues that have happened with this placement.

When our family decided to continue on with FFA and take a new placement of a sibling pair, we made it clear from the very beginning that we were looking for a sibling pair at the end of the foster care timeline, with little or no parent involvement and no visitations. We recognized that this placement might take a while to find, and that was fine with us. If a pair came up, we would consider them, and if it never happened, that would be fine, too, as we aren’t desperate to adopt. When we got the call for E and A, FFA Placement Worker told us their medical and behavioral information, the number of visits they had and that they would be transported and monitored at a county facility, and that services had already been terminated so they were just waiting to set the hearing to terminate parental rights. The kids seemed to fit all our criteria and we began doing a few visits to get to know them.

A few weeks later, we found out that E has a life-threatening heart condition that will always require medical supervision and several medications three times daily, and will likely shorten her life expectancy. This is a condition that we would not have accepted for placement, but we realized that FFA had no notification of her condition (although the county did) and because we’d already met and bonded with the kids, we decided we would move forward with the placement anyway, knowing that we were looking at additional paperwork and doctor’s visits, as well as the three times daily medications and a lifelong serious disease if the placement moved towards adoption.

In regards to visitations, the county placement worker and FFA’s placement worker both told us that visitations for each parent were one hour twice a week, which was later clarified as two hours once a week per parent. We were not interested in children who required any visitations because of our family’s schedule and our experiences with visitations with our last placement, but were assured by both workers that it was already arranged for all visitations to take place at a supervised visitation center, and that transportation had already been requested for the kids. The most we would be required to do was to transport them to and from the visit until the transportation order came through. They also assured us that the social worker was working to get the visitations back to back so that we would only have to transport once a week for that back to back visit until the transportation service began (two hours with each parent for a total of one four hour visit a week). With this assurance from both the county and from FFA, we decided to move forward with the placement.

After several shorter visits with the kids, one day long visit, and one overnight visit, the county placement worker came on Tuesday, April 30 to check our house and discuss the timeline for the kids to move in. At this point the kids had already been told that they would be moving in with us, and we were already getting to know each other pretty well. When Worker arrived she told us that she had received an email from the social worker that morning which would double the number of visitation hours. Also, she said that actually the parents’ services had NOT yet been terminated, as we were told initially. These two pieces of information were both huge shocks to us, but Worker assured us that the increased visits would still take place in a monitored facility and that transportation was being arranged, and that the court date on May 7 was supposed to be the day they terminated services. With all of this information, and because we didn’t want to be more adults disappearing out of the kids’ lives after getting to know them, we decided to move forward and the kids moved in two days later, on Thursday, May 2.

Now that the kids are settled in and beginning to attach, we are being told that the services still have not been terminated, there is no 2-6 hearing set, we are looking at a possibly lengthy trial timeline, AND we are being asked to both monitor and transport for visitations.

We can understand FFA’s misinformation about the unknown medical condition, as it was not properly noted in E’s file. We also know that FFA cannot predict the length of a child’s time in foster care or the outcome of the case. However, we should never have been told that services were terminated when they hadn’t yet been terminated. This changes the entire position of the case and the timeline. Also and more importantly, if it is standard procedure, as we are now being told, for the county to not provide transportation and supervision for visitations when an FFA becomes involved, we should have been informed of that standard procedure by FFA before the placement. Instead, all assurances were made to us by both FFA and the County that visitations would be covered, and we accepted placement based on that information. Now, both FFA and the County are claiming that maybe neither knew that we were an FFA or that there was some kind of miscommunication, when both placement workers clearly knew that we were with an FFA. Both workers were kind and helpful, so we can’t imagine that they were willfully misinforming us, but we are wondering where the breakdown occurred in giving us accurate information about this placement.

The bottom line is that we are not in the position as a family to monitor visitations for any foster children at this time. We recognize that monitoring visits is a part of fostering, which is why we made it clear that we needed a placement without visits (or in this case, with visits already covered.) We were not planning to have to transport for visits either, but were willing to do it for a few weeks while transportation was arranged. At this time, because of the kids attachment to our family and how emotionally damaging it would be for them to be moved, we would be willing to transport only for visits at a monitored facility or with an intern supervising, working around our schedule, even though we did not want to do this. As we look at our schedule and the emotional needs of our family, that is the most we can do, and we will not now, nor any time during this placement, be able to stay at the visits and monitor. If we cancel a visit ourselves for sickness or vacation scheduling, we will take it upon ourselves to monitor those make-up visits only.

We want to make it clear now, as we did when giving FFA our criteria originally, so that there is no confusion in the future and so that FFA can make whatever decision necessary regarding the future of this placement. We would hate for the kids to have to be moved just as they are becoming attached and feeling safe, but it is better for FFA to know up front what we are able to do. That way we are being honest with FFA about what we can and can’t do, and FFA can decide what is the best way to proceed with this case. If this means that our family needs to be done fostering, we are willing to accept that. We would love to continue serving as a foster family if it is feasible for FFA, but we can only do what we deem healthy for our biological family at this time.

This has nothing to do with our current case manager, who has been wonderful and accomodating and supportive. I’m sure she had no idea what we were told upon placement and what we told FFA that we were able as a family to do. It would be sad for the kids to be moved just as they are beginning to feel safe and bonded, but we need to look out for the needs of our biological kids as well. We are hopeful that FFA and the County can work out a way to provide us with the visitation coverage we were promised without having to move the kids, but if that is not possible, we understand and will support whatever next step is necessary.

Thank you.

I am hopeful that the agency will step in and monitor the visits or pay for a monitored facility rather than making the kids move, but it really could go either way. We just were not ready to monitor any visits, knowing what a slippery slope that is in foster care…monitoring one visit so easily turns into monitoring just one more and another, and another. Next thing you know, you’re driving all over the place several times a week and farming your bio kids out to friends and family for hours on end while you monitor and transport incessantly. And in these kids’ case, the visits have to be on nights and weekends, cutting into our much needed family time as we heal and try to become more “normal” than we’ve been able to be for the past two years. It is tempting to feel guilty because we can’t do what they want us to do, but then I remind myself that we were honest about what we were ready to do, and they are the ones who changed things after the placement. If the kids have to suffer because of it, that is terribly sad and destructive for them. We are praying because we know that if they are meant to be with us long-term, God will make it happen. His intentions will not be shaken. And if they’re not meant to be with us long term, hopefully they will have soaked up the best of what we’ve had to offer them before they are moved. Keep us and the kids in your prayers and I will update you when I hear anything.

Quick Hello.

I have dreams of getting back onto this blog sometime soon! I have been editing photos for my portfolio (the new photography business website is up!! Find it here.) and working on the business side of photography things. We have been dealing with yet another delayed court hearing. This is coming up on 10 months of waiting to terminate reunification services. Then there’s this little thing called the beginning of the school year. Figuring out the carpool schedule was a bear, but I think I have it conquered. We’ll give it a few weeks before I claim victory and settle down.

Now the trick is figuring out how to entertain Midge as an only child here all morning. Bummer. She is spoiled by brotherly attention and she is very two. This is not a good combination. I am working on how to be out of the house keeping her busy making messes at parks and other people’s houses, while simultaneously being home getting the housework done that a good wife/mother with two kids in school all day should be getting done. No progress yet, but we’re only on day five of school.

I want to catch up on labeling my 180 day project photos, and then I’ll share them here. See you back here soon?

Canyon Garden Tour

On Saturday morning the Berg tribe met up for a garden tour of the nearby canyons…so fabulous! The gardens were beautiful and we had a fun morning checking out different plants to try in our nearby gardens. Or in my case and my sister Amy’s case, we just plan on buying the houses we saw, thereby avoiding all the troublesome planting and cultivating.

I only brought my little pocket camera and was so annoyed to see every picture blurred along the right side! The camera isn’t old and already it’s broken! But then I turned the camera over and saw that there was a big smudge on the lens! Could that have anything to do with all the junk I carry in my purse? (snacks for kids, old string cheese, spare change, receipts, kleenexes…) Unfortunately, the only group photo we got was before I discovered my smudgy lens. But here’s the whole gang. (From left to right…my cousin Michele, my mom’s cousin Karen, me, my aunt Kris, my sister Amy, my mom’s cousin Debby, my mom Donna, my cousin Lisa.

Only in the canyon can you have a totally private working outdoor tub with a gorgeous hillside view!

Messing with the newish camera again, I discover that I shouldn’t use its “vivid” setting or I’ll get wacky greens and yellows that are hard to fix!

Remembering Papa Berg (this group of ladies’ patriarch) as we walked past this fence in one of the gardens. Papa never wasted or got rid of anything.

Speaking of houses we’re going to buy, through those trees you can see a house and property that I actually looked at several years ago when we were thinking of moving into the canyon. I love the seclusion and rural setting of these beautiful places.

Here’s Amy’s house. (Well, the owner told her that if she wanted to buy it, she’d have to get in line.) A cute craftsman that they let us explore inside!

What a welcome getaway we had together! I think it will become an annual tradition.

My Sister Wife and I Are Making Plans.

And by sister wife, I mean my sister, who is also a wife.

For many, many months now, I have known that having a sister wife would be a wonderful thing. Yes, it did begin with seeing the ladies on cable doing it all so gracefully, but Amy and I have worked up a different plan. One that does not involve sleeping with one another’s husbands. (I can hear Rob sighing a deep sigh of relief!)

At first I thought one large house connected at the kitchen would be best. After all, it’s always at dinnertime that I feel most attracted to the sister wife concept. Whenever Amy or our “daughter” babysitter Sara are over around mealtimes, everything runs so smoothly. The children are entertained. The chopping gets done. The dishes are washed while the dinner is actually being prepared, making after dinner cleanup a breeze. The meals are more elaborate and all of the people are happier.

But Amy insists that she needs her own kitchen. I think about it for a moment, then say, “Agreed.” Okay, our own houses, but either attached at one wall with a lockable door leading between them, like hotel rooms, or two separate houses sharing a huge backyard. The hotel-like door is so that child protective services doesn’t take my children away when I want to leave the kids home while Greg and I go for a date night. Give the baby monitor to Amy and head on out. Of course, she and Rob could do the same. Win win.

And we’ve decided that our sister wife life needs to be before cell phones. Neither of us are fans of being instantly accessible. At first I said, before t.v., too. Which I still kind of stick to. But not before computers. We would need a computer to show movies to the kids when they’re sick or we need a break. Not that we’d need as many breaks with our sister wife to help us with child-rearing.

So…no cell phones, yes computers. But not internet. Well, except at the library. At home, if we want to know something we’ll pull out an encyclopedia or actually pick up the phone to interact with a human we love to find out an answer to our burning question. I think the internet has removed so many moments of connection between real life people. But it sure is neat. So we decided that it would be available at the library if we needed it.

Amy says she needs her space. Could that be a result of the person she’s talking to? Could I be a little overbearing? No…

And then Amy starts getting worried about where our sister wife house will be. Rob needs to be close to Coronado for his work. I suggest Texas because land will be cheap. She mentions the heat. I say that if we’re talking about a dream world, we shouldn’t be concerned about such trivial things. We’ll have Orange County weather on our Texas plantation. Now that I think about it, it had better be near the beach, too.

We will plan and cook most of our meals together, but since Amy “needs her space,” we will then carry them to our own house to eat with our own families, because we have a nagging suspicion that neither of our husbands will like our sister wife idea.

Today Amy keeps Midge and Kate occupied while the boys and I do our afternoon chores. I hold baby Kate as Amy packs up the stroller in her trunk to head home. We had a delicious chicken salad for lunch that I didn’t feel like making, but she did. The day is smoother than one would ever dream possible with four kids running around. See how perfect this sister wife thing is?

See...Kate likes the idea!

Making a Getaway.

I’m the kind of mom who needs a getaway now and then to keep my sanity. It seems like every three or four months, I feel my patience wearing thin a little quicker. I find myself snapping a little more often. I crave a little of that elusive quiet. Especially for hours at a time.

And you know I’m not going to get that stuff around here.

So I’m planning a getaway. This one’s going to have to be a little 1.5 day local escape during the week, as our March weekends are somehow all booked up with one thing or another. Lucky for me, I am related to someone with a gorgeous Laguna Beach home where I can craft for an afternoon, relax for an evening, and tell the hostess if I’m really not in the mood for socializing and just want to be left alone by the pool or on the deck overlooking the ocean. Ahhh…

On Wednesday after Midge and I spend the morning at her visitation, we’ll pick up Tyler from kindergarten and greet Grandma at 1:30. Then I escape. I have a whole bunch of plain t-shirts I’ve been collecting from second-hand shops for the kids. I’ve been planning to stencil paint them or do some graphic iron ons, and somehow it just hasn’t happened! So I’m going to take those to Aunt Krissy’s and craft the afternoon away, before my kids outgrow the shirts.

Then Krissy and I will eat dinner, and I’ll probably stay the night there. With a book. And some tea. And a blanket. And some Ottmar Liebert on the cd player, because that always makes me feel like I’m in southern Europe or something. Maybe we’ll find something to nibble for dessert. And I won’t have to change a diaper or listen to the don’t-pee-in-your-pants-at-night alarm go off and usher someone to the bathroom at 2 a.m.. I’ll read a magazine. Then I’ll sleep in.

On Thursday I think I’ll wander and take some pictures if the weather’s nice. You might have noticed some recycling of photos around here lately. It’s hard to find any Midge-less photos to share, since I’m not taking many photos at all. I’m due for some new landscape photos, I think. Maybe a hike above Laguna would be in order?

What else will I do? I don’t know. But I won’t cut anyone’s food, or even make anyone’s food, for that matter. I won’t talk to any social workers; in fact, maybe I’ll just turn off my phone. I won’t smell like Desitin, the scent of which on your fingers spoils any meal you eat. I won’t get up to an alarm and I won’t do anything I don’t want to do. I won’t be a sensible, mature adult with responsibilities.

I can’t wait.

Another One Bites the Dust.

Darn it. I succumbed to the family flu. Thankfully, Greg stayed home from work yesterday, but I’m on my own on days 2 and 3 of flu with Greg being at an ill-timed work retreat. Ugh. And we’re hoping for no rain on Monday for Tyler’s big Carnival Birthday Party! Finishing touches are being worked out this weekend. In a few more days, the birthday madness will be over and the boys will be squarely in the 6 and 8 categories. Wow. They’re such fun to be around now. Makes those early years of training all worth it.

One Year of Foster Parenting

It’s hard to believe that a year ago, we’d never even met four of “our” kids. We were in the throes of locking up laundry detergent and medicines, mounting fire extinguishers, filling out final paperwork, and waiting for the last walk through. Life seemed hectic, but we now realize that there are new levels of stress that we never even knew about before!

That first month of fostering with the little boys was really trial by fire. We were barely hanging on, and only prayer and good friends got us through. With four boys, ages 10 mos, 2.5, 4, and 6 in the house, and two of them having traumatic and undisciplined backgrounds, I was a wreck. I could literally feel the prayers of our support network sustaining me through those days. Of course, God also put people in our lives to help. Mothers and Mother-in-laws, neighbors and church friends who would drop by with a sandwich for me or a meal for the family, friends who would call just to check in and would end up listening to me meltdown on the phone and offering to take a child off my hands for a few hours. LORD, you were so good to us in that hard, hard month.

And there was the love. Those little boys had our hearts within days, or even within hours. Even though it was crazy hard, how could we not fall in love with the children who needed us? They needed to be hugged. They needed to be wrestled with. They needed to laugh. They needed to spill milk without worry. They needed stability and discipline and love and peace. Oh, how I love those little guys still. When they are reunified or adopted and I can’t see them anymore, a little part of my heart will go with them. In ten years, I’ll probably be trying to look them up on facebook just to get a glimpse of who “my” boys turned out to be. What a strange feeling to give up little ones who were ours, if only for a month.

When they left us, we revised our plan about the children we would accept. We hadn’t originally planned on adopting, but had figured that if we fell in love with a child and s/he didn’t reunify, then we’d pursue adoption. After one month of fostering, that plan went out the window. Instead of fostering one child after another, we would invest our lives in one child forever. New plan: find us a baby we can adopt. One {long} month later, Midge entered our lives.

I mentioned the new levels of stress that we never knew about before? Well, we’re in month ten of uncertainty about our baby girl. For the first few days, we thought the agency was right and maybe she would be ours to keep. Then we had to come to terms with the fact that it would take a miracle for us to keep her. For six months, I struggled to let go of the idea of keeping her, and all the while, she was wiggling her way deeper into our hearts and our lives. I imagine the feeling is similar to the parent of a child with an untreatable disease. You want to enjoy the moments you have together, but there is always a cloud over the future. You can’t plan ahead to next year. With fostering, we often couldn’t plan ahead to next month. Court dates brought new terror into our hearts.

And then things settled into a rhythm. A combination of prayer and denial gets us through the days. While 90% of the days were hard and 10% were manageable when we first started, the percentages have now flipped. It took three or four months to get our groove going, but things did settle down. In August, Midge’s social worker said that it would take a dramatic change on her parents’ parts to get her back. The change hasn’t happened yet. But that doesn’t mean much when your whole world is in the judge’s hands. A judge who’s been known to make “crazy decisions”.

You learn to put big, heavy thoughts out of your mind. You learn to compartmentalize the days when she goes for visits with her parents and your heart breaks over and over again. You are grateful for every holiday you get to spend with her and every cute outfit you get to see her in. You take an insane amount of pictures. You get by with prayer and faith, coupled with just not thinking about the future. You live, knowing that in eight weeks, a stranger could make a decision that rips your family apart and puts your baby in an unsafe and unstable situation. All the people who have been around all year and are close to the situation see it, but will the judge agree?

As we work on our yearly recertification classes, we tell each other we’ll never do this again. We put the future on hold while we wait to see what happens with Midge, but we also know that going through these ups and downs and all of the parent visitations and such is not a sustainable lifestyle for our family. God obviously knew what he was doing when he threw us into this, blind, because we never would have done it if we’d known then what we know now about how the foster system works. Then again, if we keep Midge, it will all be worth it, of course. Wow. God knew and God knows. Isn’t it good that God doesn’t reveal our future to us? Isn’t it good to depend on the One who knows what will happen a year from now? Isn’t it good to know that if we follow Him, He will move us in the right direction for our lives and our families, even if that direction is the opposite of where we would walk by ourselves?

Upstairs I hear a baby girl babbling herself to sleep (I hope). A few miles away I have two little boys who think I hung the moon, and a girl who’s healing and growing every day. Every time I rock Midge before bed, I have a chance to sing something right into her heart and her mind. If we keep her, I’ll keep teaching her the same lessons for years to come. And if she leaves us, I hope that someday when she’s grown, she’ll have a vague feeling that “God is So Good” and that “Jesus Loves Me” and it just might pull her in the right direction. Fostering is about love and about hope for the future.  We especially hope for a bright future eight weeks from now.

Where I Want To Get Married.

See that glimpse of something on the left through the trees? That’s the first peek we got of the little chapel where my cousin Lisa got married yesterday.

I am in awe…how does someone dream up a place this beautiful? Jake has that rare combination of artistic and mathematic talent, and I’ve always thought he might become an architect someday. This creation was made by Lloyd Wright (son of the famous Frank) in the early 1950′s. I think I want to live in there. With trees all around me. Can you imagine how neat it would be to be inside during a rainstorm?

My own wedding was held in a beautiful garden with a white trellis and green trees shading the area. I loved my wedding and thought it was just perfect. If I were to plan a wedding again, though, I’d choose the same husband but most everything else would be different. There are just so many wonderful and fun ideas at weddings these days. And I have a growing list of places I’d like to get married.

Wayfarer’s Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes is now on the list. Don’t you think it deserves it?

Around the House.

I am a list addict. Before I can do anything, I have to sit down and write a list. I feel lost if I start packing for a trip or doing household tasks without a list to work from.

Enter: back to school. I love January and September for their fresh starts. At both times of year, I tend to take a look at what I want our lives, our homes, our relationships to look like, and start a good old-fashioned list. And a schedule. They go hand in hand.

With both boys in school, 15 minutes apart, with four separate start and end times, plus Midge’s naps and her visitations, I HAD to create a schedule before school started, just to make sure I ended up in the right places at the right times! (We know how that turned out on the first day of school!) But it’s also actually fun for me to fit all the pieces of my life together into that little grid…like a puzzle for grown-ups.

These lists and schedules also give me a chance to start again. Yes, start again with trying to keep up with the laundry flow. Start again with trying to keep the house presentable, if not “clean”. (Greg and I keep reminding each other that our house was clean before we had kids, and hopefully will be clean again once they all go to college. In the meantime, presentable often has to cut it.)

So the biggest goals I have for myself this September are:

  1. Get into an early morning routine. This slipped a lot over the summer. Up early to dress & pick kids’ clothes, read some Psalms & Proverbs, quick check of my favorite blogs if I have time, make the kids breakfast, pack lunches, and go. Like I said earlier, I’m not sure if I’m going to add the kids’ chores in here or not. We’ll see.
  2. Get into a naptime routine. This is where I get lazy. It’s SO easy to see Midge’s nap as a well deserved break for me. I’ve spent four hours darting around taking care of things by that time, and now the house is quiet. But I’ve learned that if I don’t get the downstairs looking presentable during that time, I will NEVER catch up that day. So I’m trying to get into a naptime routine. Catch up on bible reading if I didn’t get a chance this morning. Do a quick cleanup of the breakfast nook/kitchen/family room. Get dishes taken care of. Clear off those counters and make the downstairs look ready for a great day. Not a frazzled or busy or stressed out day. Just looking at clean counters and decluttered floors makes me breathe and relax. This is what I love about my thirties…getting to know myself well enough to understand what makes me tick, and actually doing something about it!
  3. Get into a chore routine. The biggest change I want to make is the Swish & Swipe. If you know about the Flylady, you know this one. If you take a few moments to swish & swipe your bathrooms daily, you won’t need to spend all that time scouring them later. I did my first swish and swipe on Monday. Then yesterday I saw some seriously scary cobwebs in my office window. I decided that I’ll swish & swipe on MWF, and do other tasks that often get left behind on Tues and Thurs. I almost forgot to swish and swipe today, but I remembered! If I can get this and a laundry routine down, I think my life will change. I will start waking up singing, my children will no longer fight, and Greg and I will never miscommunicate, right?
That’s it. Sounds simple, right? Ahem. I’ve told myself that before. Maybe this time it will stick.
P.S. I’m having pity on my previous self and those days when I had a baby and a two year old. With both kids only making messes and never cleaning them up, I was always behind. So take heart, friends in that phase of life…this too shall pass! Once you have at least one trained kid over five, you have a helper. Then the house can be clean at least some of the time. Of course, then there are these legos to contend with…

Home Again.

We’re home after a week’s vacation in Hawaii. So tired and ready for the three day weekend to catch up on things and soak in our baby girl, whom we missed terribly! When I get a chance to edit photos I’ll be sure to share.

Computer Trouble.

I’ve been trying for a few days to upload some pictures and for some reason the computer doesn’t want to cooperate. It’s one of those things we’ll have to blindly troubleshoot in our spare time. Greg’s in a tennis tournament this weekend so our amount of spare time depends on how successful he is in the tournament! I’ll be back here as soon as possible.

Off to Camp.

…at this beautiful place again with family and friends. Why does it feel like you’re packing for a week when you pack for two nights of camping?

We still aren’t into a summer groove yet, considering that we had a few days after school got out before the cousins came, then we’ve had a few days since then to get ready for camping. When we get back next week, then we’ll get into a summer routine. Or not. Maybe a summer without routine would be fine, too.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Beginning Knitting.

Last year my mom insisted on teaching me to knit when I was recovering from surgery. Two of my friends were interested and she taught all three of us, but I really wasn’t too enthusiastic. I always figured that if I wanted something knitted, I just had to ask my mom or sister.

But since I’ve had to supervise Midge’s visits with her mom (who is a non-stop talker), I’ve finally taken to the craft. After several months of knitting at the Chick-Fil-A, I came out with a yellowish toned rectangle that I wanted to turn into a little hat for my new baby niece. Of course, I can never leave well enough alone. When I saw the hat folded over and ready to be joined up the sides, it just looked like an owl. Somebody stop me. I didn’t know how to do any of the next few steps, but after my mom taught me to make eye-cord (or is it I-cord?) for the eyebrows and eyes, I improvised the rest and came up with this.

Lest you begin to think that I’m some sort of “real” knitter now, let me show you the only other finished “project” I’ve made:

Yes. It is a shapeless gray, let’s say, item. At some point I figured out why I was adding stitches on every row (unintentionally, and apparently only along the left side). And you can see where I started knitting when I should have purled. But I kept this project intact for posterity. There have been two scarves in between this item and the owl hat. One of which I haven’t finished the ends of, and the other which I unraveled when it was finished, knowing that I would never wear it. But that owl hat? That one’s a keeper! I hear that my niece is keeping cozy in it on chilly San Diego days!