New adventures and big changes…

Things are going to be changing in our household this month. After a long wait things are moving along in our quest to finalize the adoption of our middle child. She has lived with us for well over a year now and soon she will be completely part of our crazy clan.
Next for the first time we are taking a kid free vacation. Kids are staying with grandparents while my husband and I go on a cruise. This will serve as a chance for my hubby and I to reconnect.
It will also give us the recharge we need before embarking on a new adventure in parenting. When we return we will be on the “hotline” list for DCF foster care. Foster care is something we have always wanted to do and now that we have the space and job flexibility we decided to go for it.
Hotline care is caring for kids that need a short term placement. Most times it will be just for a few days up to 45 days. We felt it would be a good way to get our feet wet and see how fostering impacts our family.
We should end up licensed to take in one girl, one or two boys, or babies. This will allow us to take siblings as well as individual children. With the holidays around the corner this could get interesting.
Any advice from any one with foster experience out there???

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Remembering the forgotten holiday…

Well I am back. The kids are back in school and Halloween is over. It has been a hectic few months. My husband is still struggling to get back to work, I am in school full time, working extra hours, we are in the process of getting our foster care license (more on this to come) and finalizing our middle daughter adoption.
With Christmas being the big focus of media and retailers thanks giving is fast becoming the forgotten holiday. The ad companies have not found a way to get us to spend infinitesimal amounts of money on decorations and gifts for thanksgiving so they skip it and go for the big money, Christmas.
In my house we believe Christmas needs to wait its turn. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because for me it is all about family and being grateful for all we have. Usually the weekend before or after thanksgiving our relatives from out of town visit. We also invite a bunch of local family and friends. We have a big family dinner on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone brings something and we cook a couple of turkeys.
We eat way too much, talk about the happenings of the past year and even make plans for the next one. After dinner we play cards or board games till late in the evening and many of the family, even the local ones sleep over. (We have plenty of room in the house and the grown nieces and nephews love sleeping in our camper.)
There are usually a bunch of kids and with our big yard they spend lots of time outside. If the weather doesn’t cooperate then we take out the art stuff and it always amazes me how creative they are with my kids bins of random craft supplies.
The next morning my hubby makes his yummy “dough boys” and we squeeze in a bit more fun before reality sets in and everyone has to head out.
This is the kind of fun that family is all about. There is no worrying about gifts, going from house to house to keep everyone happy, or the rest of the crazy ness that will soon take over our lives in preparation for Christmas. Just eachother, food and lots of laughs. We are lucky enough to get together pretty often in smaller groups but the chance to get everyone in one place makes our thanksgiving my favorite holiday!!!
How do you celebrate holidays? Is thanksgiving important to your family or is it just one more step on the way to Christmas ? How do you keep your family close?

Unschooling (Just For The Summer)

Summer vacation in our house has usually meant, workbooks, research projects and assigned reading. This year I decided that we would go “unschool”.
Unschooling is an educational philosophy that believes that left to their own devices but given plenty of opportunities and support children will learn how to learn and that they will then develop the skills they need to be successful adults. (this is my best interpretation.)
For us this meant instead of worksheet and assignments I would allow the kids the kids to set the pace and learn the things they were interested in. It also mean being less drill sergeant and more hands on supportive. The freedom it gave the kids was nothing short of amazing.
My oldest has begun to teach herself to play the piano, 3-D drawing and American Sign Language. My middle daughter has reached new heights in creativity using nature/recycled materials and tried several scientific experiments. My son, the youngest has honed his reading skills, as well as renewing his love of wild animals. They have all put on several “plays”, fashion shows, and gymnastic demonstrations.
We have done some more structured activities such as camping, Bible school, and trips to the pool. But for the most part the children have made their own fun and learned much in the process.
I am not sure our summer would fit the definition of Unschooling as some would see it but my kids have had a chance to learn on their own terms and hopefully become better learners in the process.

Building a Family

All my life I knew I wanted to be a mom. I played dolls long after most girls have stopped and babysat as soon as I was old enough. When I met my husband in 1998 he was honest from the beginning that having kids the traditional way was not possible due to the chemo he had to have to cure his germ-cell lung cancer. Since I am adopted it was not an issue we would just adopt(I had always planned to in addition to having birth children)
My husband and I were married in 2004 and about a year later moved into a nice first floor apt with a yard. The following year we both ended up with stable jobs and decided to look into adoption. We explored our options and chose to go through Ma DCFS. After filling out some paper work and going to our first meeting we began what we believed would be a long wait. Little did we know it would all fall in place in a little over six months.
At the time I was currently working at a daycare center and we had a family who did foster care. They had a sibling pair placed with them, a nineteen month old boy and a six year old girl. The moment they walked into the daycare I fell in love. It had been an emergency placement and very little background was known. The little girl walked in with a hand-me-down lunchbox and bag. She had the longest thickest dark brown hair and big brown eyes.( There was an exotic look to her features and we would later find out that her birth father was from India) She just seemed lost and sad. She introduced herself and told me about her brother and then became my shadow. She followed me everywhere asking questions and wanting to help. She even fell asleep next to me at nap.
Later in the day I met her brother who I picked up over the toddler gate. He put his head down on my shoulder and would not let me put him down. He was tiny for almost two and more infant than toddler. He had unkempt long brown hair and the same sad big brown eyes. From that moment on something clicked and I just knew there was something special about these two kids.
Later in the week the foster dad made a joke about us adopting the kids but we never talked about it again. Throughout the summer and fall they continued to stay on my mind and after babysitting one weekend for them I asked if they were up for adoption and at that time they were not. They were supposed to be split up and placed with random members of their birth family. We went on with our own adoption process filling out our home study and taking our MAPP class. We knew we had made the right decision in choosing adoption and now we would wait and see who DCFS matched us with.
Around Christmas the foster family gave us some hopeful news. The family that was supposed to take the boy and girl backed out and they were being placed up for adoption together. We also found out that there was a sister who was 3 who lived with the paternal grandparents. We then let the social workers know we were willing to adopt all three.
It took until April for anyone to get back to us with concrete news but in the meantime we continued to babysit for then 2 children fairly regularly. We had bonded and they had even started calling us mom and dad. After finally meeting with their worker official visits were scheduled and the kids were told that they were going to be adopted. The sister would stay with the grandparents but was they were willing to keep in contact (we would later find out no one ever told the grandparents about us being willing to adopt all three, but that is another story.)
In June the children we allowed to finally move in with us and we finalized their adoption a little over a year later. Working at a daycare does not prepare you for parenting but we have not only survived but thrived.
Today my daughter is 12 and my son is 7. We have since began to share time caring for the sister and she pretty much lives with us full time. She is now nine and I could not imagine life with out her. A lot has changed over these six years since I first met the kiddos but I would not change a thing.

Memories not money summer

This summer is going to be a bit different. My husband is has been out of work since January and is going to be going for his second surgery next week. He most likely will be out until October and even with disability insurance things are tight. I work part time and with my husbands medical issues going back to full time is not am option. Usually our summers are filled with day trips and vacations camping. We are a bit more relaxed with our spending and take out and ice cream are treats we have often.
This year we are going to focus on “Memories Not Money”. We are going to make crafts using the stuff we have accumulated over the years, cook out on the grill, “camp” in the yard, spend time with friends, and take advantage of the free offerings at local businesses.
The kids are excited to have extra time with their dad and to be spending more of their summer at home( they usually need to be babysat or go to all day camp programs while we are at work). We were lucky to be able to let all three of them join their schools free half day summer enrichment programs. And they will also go to a week long bible camp that is also free.
Tight finances allow families to really take a closer look at what is important and learn to make better choices when spending. It has also made our kids appreciate all that they have and what they get to do.
How do you spend your summer? What kind of summer deals do you have in your area? How have you taught your kids to be more grateful?

A little about me

My name is Tina and I am a 39 years old Mom. I have three amazing children, a spunky almost 14 year old daughter, a sweet cuddly 11 year old daughter, an energetic monkey of a son who is 9 and a bitty boy of 2. I also have a terrific husband, a dog and a cat. I work from home trying to open a family daycare and am back in college for my degree in Early Childhood Ed, but I spend most of my time with my kiddos.  The idea for this blog came to me while doing some research for a paper. I came across a bunch of new parenting styles and found myself questioning how I had been relating to my family. In attempting to reconnect with my kids I found it helpful to write out what I was doing and to be able to go back and reflect on what worked and what I could change. In doing this I began to think that could not be the only one feeling out of touch and searching for ideas to bring their family closer together, help their kids grow up happy, responsible and caring or to make the day to day stuff easier. So I thought I could share what I learn and maybe gets so ideas from other moms.