Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review: The Wonder of Your Love

The Wonder of Your Love Facebook Party on 11/1!

About the book:

Katie Ann lost the love of her life. Then God offers her a new beginning in Colorado.

Katie Ann Stolzfus lives in the small Amish community of Canaan, Colorado. At forty she is widowed and raising her first child. But baby Jonas will never know his father, and Katie Ann wonders if her Heavenly Father hasn't forgotten about her as well. Is it really God's plan for her to be a single parent?

Eli Detweiler has come to Canaan for a wedding and a long vacation. Having raised six children following the death of his young wife, Eli is finally an empty-nester. He's enjoying the slower pace of having no one to care for but himself.

When Katie Ann and Eli meet, there is an instant connection. Yet as strong as the attraction is, they both acknowledge that a romance would never work. He is done parenting, while she has just begun.

But as their friendship slowly blossoms into feelings that are as frightening as they are intoxicating, Katie Ann and Eli question if the plans they made for themselves are in line with God's plans.

Can Katie Ann entrust her heart to another man, and rediscover the wonder of God's love?

About Beth:

Beth Wiseman is hailed as a top voice in Amish fiction. She is a Carol-award winner and author of numerous bestsellers including the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. She and her family live in Texas., Twitter @bethwiseman,

My Review:  This book is another great Amish fiction book.  It was a great, easy read, but a little different because the main characters are slightly older than the usual, young "ready to marry" Amish people.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone, who enjoys Amish fiction!!  Great read!!! 

Broken Computers

Hi!  So our desktop broke about 2 months ago & then a month later our laptop.... so no more blogging for a while :(  but sooonnnn!!!! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Title: Come to the Along Wooded Paths Facebook Party & Live Author Chat!


About the book:

All she wanted was a simple Amish life . . . But now Marianna Sommer finds herself depending on Englisch neighbors. Although proud of living apart from the world, she and her newly relocated Amish family have discovered that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together.

As Marianna begins helping those different from herself—and receiving their help—her heart contemplates two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a closer walk with God than she’s ever seen before.

Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking her to sacrifice? Her traditions? Her community? The answer is found along the wooded paths.

Find out about book 1, Beside Still Waters, here:

Read an excerpt.

About Tricia:

Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books includingSongbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

For more about Tricia and her other books

View the trailer for the book!!


My review: This book starts out a little different with it being from the man's point of view.  It took me a little while to get involved with the characters and the story, but after I was I really enjoyed it.  It is also different from other Amish books because there is much written about life outside of the community.  Definitely a great read if you like Amish books and maybe a great intro to them if you haven't read any before!

Book Review: Baby, It's Cold Outside

Enter 10/14-10/26!


About the book: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Hope finds the hopeless when a storm hits.

It's Christmas weekend 1949, and despite the threat of a storm, the townspeople of Frost are determined to continue their holiday traditions, if only as a means to forget the war that they had all just suffered through. But the suffering hasn't ended for Dottie Morgan who lost her only son in the war. She's preparing to wallow in her isolation for the weekend, when Violet, nearly a spinster at age 29, dares to make a request that will force Dottie to publicly revive the memory of her dead son.

When a storm traps the two women at home with a strange young man who has an unbelievable confession and a neighbor with more to do with Violet's past than she would like, no one can predict how this Christmas will give them all a second chance.

Read an excerpt here and find out the story behind the novel.

 About Susan: Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

 Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found

My review:  I really enjoyed this book!  For the first few pages it was hard for me to really get "into" the book, but then it took some turns and things got very interesting.  I love reading Christmas books and this one about love, loss, forgiveness and shining in your own way is a great read for the holiday season! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

... Dot, Dot, Dot

before the ... (dot, dot, dot) ... we got an email back from the owner of the agency.  He basically said that our CW didn't tell anyone right away because "she did not want to deter a new foster family" and that he did not feel like switching CWs was the right thing to do.  Like we could ever work with her again, right?  He also agreed that in order for us to work together anymore we would have to rebuild trust.  Do you know how he suggested we do this?!?!  By believing her.  Yes, he said that the only way we could build up trust again is if we believe her.  He also said that all future emails only need to be sent to the agency, meaning do not forward any emails to CPS.  Btw, the CPS CW who I CCed the email to has never written back.  Needless to say, we are not going to work with that agency ever again.

The email broke my heart.  Again.  I don't know what I hoped for, but what I got was not it. 

We kind of put our adoption plans on hold (for a week or two... hahah) and we just tried to reassess things.  I tried to heal.  Heal?  Yes.  I am not really sure if anyone really gets how I could be so upset by all of this.  I am upset that we no longer have Melissa.  I miss her... most of the time.  I knew she was leaving though so I was prepared for that.  I needed healing because for a while my dreams were shattered.  Our dreams as a family were shattered.  We were planning on growing our family through fostering.  We haven't been able to have any more biological children for years now due to my PCOS and because I still think it is God's plan for us to adopt.  This was how we thought we were going to have another child(ren), give our daughter a sibling(s) and be a witness for adoption.  Crushed.  Crushed.  Crushed.  To be quite honest, for the first few days after I got the reply email I was kind of upset with God.  It seemed like He also broke my heart... lead us all this way on this long journey only to dump us on the side of the road with nothing.  I still don't quite understand His plan and I'm sure I will never quite get it, but I've realized, for about the millionth time in my life, that I just need to lay it down at His feet.  I just need to give my burdened, broken heart to Him.  (I just realized that one of my all time favorite songs sings lyrics like that... see the video below)  I have to do this so many times a day... give it all to Him.  Tell Him that I really do not appreciate that things are so hard in this area, but that I love Him and will try to trust Him and somehow find a way to give Him the glory in this situation and in every situation and if He feels like making things easier or giving me some insight it would be much appreciated :)    

My God is an awesome God and guess what?!?  So is your God!  He heals the sick.  He gives to the poor.  He mends the broken.  He loves the undeserving.  He wants to take on our burdens.  He created us to be unable to carry them ourselves so that we would hopefully give them to Him and have an indescribable relationship with Him in the process.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Fostering Journey Seems To Be Over...

... after only two weeks.  We are crushed.  We are discouraged.  We are wondering why we were led on a journey that was soo long just to be completely disappointed and broken-hearted.  To be quite honest, I am devasted, angry and sad. 

Here's where the ordeal started.  Go read that and come back.  Ok, so I emailed our caseworker and apologized that our dog scared her, but that I knew he wouldn't bite her.  I also asked her to resend something that I had not recieved.  She resent the info and never mentioned the incident.  For the next eleven days we talked several times, made arrangements to provide respite care, talked about Melissa, etc.  Everything seemed fine great. 

Last Friday around 10:45 am I got a call from our CW who said that she was coming to pick up Melissa.  She would only tell us that she had been discharged from our home and I needed to pack up her things.  She said she would be picking her up from school and that she would not be allowed back into our home.  We asked if we did something wrong and she said we would discuss when she got there. 

The night before we had Melissa's CPS CW at our home and things were great.  She was awesome and I was really excited to have such a happy, friendly CW in her. 

So Friday after the call we had no idea what was going on.  I was a wreck... not because she was leaving in general (she was scheduled to be leaving in about a month to go with family anyway).  I was a wreck because of not knowing what was going on and I was a wreck because Melissa was going to be moved one more time in her short life.  We actually sent our daughter to be with family because we were completely confused about what was going on. 

Can you imagine that?  It blows my mind to think about those feelings again.  We were so confused that we sent our daughter to a family member's house.  We thought that whatever idea had been fabricated from Thursday night (when M's CW came) to Friday morning was so bad that we didn't know if our daughter would be taken away also.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. 

So Friday afternoon came and they showed up almost an hour later than they told us they would.  Our caseworker showed up with her boss, who has no personality at all.  She had come to our house for this visit.  They walked in and said that the reason why she was being removed was because, "as we knew, our dog bit CW at her last visit." 

I was immediately relieved that it wasn't anything more, I was also immediately devastated that it was something on our part, and I was also immediately shocked that our CW was lying about our dog biting her. 

I'm actually quite tired of thinking about this whole think and the same goes for typing about it so here is the letter to the Director/Owner of the agency (I changed the names with as little effort as possible :) ): 

    We are writing this letter to address several issues that seem unknown and unresolved.  We hope that this letter will be taken to heart with an open mind.  We feel like our family will forever be judged and discriminated against because of these events.  We know that this letter will not change the decisions that were made, but we hope to make our name better and address issues that should be taken into consideration in future cases like this. 
     T came to our house and needed to look in our bathroom medicine cabinet.  I told her that our dog, Buddy, was scary looking, would probably bark at her and come up to smell her.  I asked if she was going to be all right with that.  She replied that she would handle it fine.  I told her that he does not do this to everyone, but that he does do this some adults and might do it to her.  Again, she insisted she would be fine.  Melissa, our former foster daughter, opened the door before I was able to be in a position that would offer more control.  Our dog ran up to her and nudged her with his nose.  She immediately thought that he bit her.  He calmed down, stopped and I took him outside.  T was understandably shaken up.  I asked her if she was ok and she said, for the first time, that he, in fact, did not really bite her.  We continued talking and she stayed for at least ten or fifteen more minutes during which I asked several more times if she was fine and she replied that she was. 
     The facts that indicate that T was not truly bitten are as follows:
-T repeatedly told me at my house that she was fine and that he had not actually bitten her.
-T stayed at my house for at least ten or fifteen minutes after the incident and there was no sign of torn pants or blood.
-Later that day, I sent T an email apologizing again and also asking for some needed information in regards to a conversation we had earlier.  In the email I wrote in part "He has never bitten anyone ever and I knew he wouldn't bite you.  But I sincerely apologize that he scared you."  She replied with only the information needed and made no mention of the incident.  She did not mention it ever. If she had really been bitten she would have or should have replied to my email stating that she had in fact been bitten and I would have never written what I wrote in the first place.  Instead T completely disregarded the incident and did not mention it again. 
-T maintained normal communication with me and even approved us for respite care this coming week.
-T did not mention the incident for eleven days and allowed Melissa to stay in our home.
     We definitely agree that if Monica had truly been bitten she should have immediately made arrangements for Melissa to be removed from our house.  She should have gone to the doctor and had the bites addressed.  She should have had the bites documented and she should have told someone sooner than eleven days later.  It is actually quite disturbing that Melissa would be left in our care if the events happened like T says.  There should have been immediate actions taken.  When T and W came on Friday none of these facts were addressed.  Instead we were accused of having bad judgment because we did not remove the dog from our house after the incident.  The reality of T never correcting me in my email that she had actually been bit and the reality that she never even mentioned it to anyone for eleven days after the incident, but yet later came to the conclusion that Melissa was in such grave danger she should never be allowed back into our house shows extremely bad judgment.  Although, the reality that we never had the opportunity to remove Buddy from our house so that Melissa would not have to be moved once more shows the worst judgment from everyone involved.  
     We did not and have not removed our dog from our house.  He was protecting his family, including Melissa, and was trying to figure out who the stranger was in his house.  As I stated above, I warned her that he may look scary, would bark at her and run up to her to smell her.  She said she was fine with that.  He did exactly what I said would happen and he did not bite her.  She told me several times before she left that she was fine and that he had not bitten her.  Our dog is eleven years old and he has never bitten anyone, including T.  He is intimidating when you see him, but everyone loves him once they meet him.  Melissa loved him and on her second day at our house she laughed about how when she would kiss him on his nose he would kiss her back.  Melissa did not really like our hyper puppy, but would always call for Buddy to be near her.  We would never allow a dog to bite anyone and stay in our house.  Our family is too precious to ever take that chance.  After the incident, he did stay outside for a while, but I do not remember how long he was separated from Melissa.  Once he came back inside, everything was just as it had been and as it continued to be.  W asked how long he stayed separated from Melissa and I told her.  She then said that there was definite questions about our judgment.  We would have agreed if Buddy had actually bitten T, but he did not bite her.  We would have agreed if he had never barked or sniffed a stranger and he all of a sudden had done so.  He did exactly what I told T he might do. 
     W completely disregarded my question about why if he was considered so dangerous would Melissa be allowed to stay in our house for an additional eleven days.  I applaud W, in general, for defending T's decisions and appreciate that as a supervisor she is willing to defend her employees.  I am surprised and offended by her lack of acknowledgement towards the questionable and irresponsible decisions that T made if she had truly been bitten.  I am also hurt by the accusations that our judgment was completely careless. 
     When we received the call mid-morning on Friday that Melissa would be removed and that her bags needed to be packed by that afternoon, we were beyond shocked.  We asked T why she was being removed, if something like this was normal and if we had done something wrong.  T would say that we would discuss it later, only implying that it had been something we had done wrong.  We still cannot figure out why T would not tell us anything.  We began packing her stuff while trying to figure out what had just happened.  Our family was devastated, but my heart was completely broken for Melissa.  She had been with her previous foster family for several months, had been living with us for thirteen days and was going to be expected to live with a completely different family for the next month before she was to be permanently moved to her aunt's.  This last move could have been completely avoided had we been asked to remove our dog.  If Buddy had in fact bitten T, we would have moved our dog to a family member's house until Melissa left so that she would not have to be moved once again.  We still do not understand why this was not considered an option, but it was seen as acceptable for Melissa to leave our house feeling like one more family did not want her in life.  To think about this will always crush me. 
     If such inconsiderate and rash decisions are normally made at (agency), we are not sure we can continue our relationship.  One of the reasons why we decided to move forward and adopt or foster to adopt was because we found (agency).  Doors opened and we felt confirmation after confirmation that we were doing the right thing with the right people.  I cannot say enough about how welcomed and encouraged we felt by Joy and Bella.  We learned so much and I truly enjoyed our training classes.  We met you at the training class where we watched the great video by Chip Ingram.  I saw your eyes light up when you spoke about your ministry at (agency).  Jesse did our homestudy and made that process as enjoyable as it could be.  Shelby was so vibrant, informative and helpful when she called about placing Melissa with us.  When T was finally assigned to be our caseworker I was thrilled to begin the relationship that would last the longest and would become the strongest.  I loved meeting T and although she left after being scared by our dog I was hoping that our relationship would become the one that consisted of trust, honesty and encouragement.  Unfortunately, I do not see that kind of relationship being formed with T, and even more unfortunately we are unsure if that kind of relationship can now happen with anyone at (agency).  We do not want to be known as the family who had a dog bite a caseworker, especially when it is not true.  We also believed that (agency) was there to support and encourage us.  The complete opposite happened during this incident.  We were completely blind sided when we were told that Melissa would never be allowed back into our house.  We were not told the reason, but only told to pack her things.  When T and W came to our house we were not only informed that T was now, eleven days later, lying about being bit by our dog, but we were also told that we showed unacceptable and questionable judgment. 
     We are passionate about adopting and would still like to adopt through (agency).  We understand that we are no longer allowed to foster as long as our dog lives here.  Because T said that she was bit by our dog, we sadly understand that it seems dangerous to have him here.  Moving forward, we will not be fostering anytime in the near future.  We would like to be placed on the list to adopt only and would like a new caseworker, with whom we could discuss further options for adoption and not be prejudged for this incident.  We are adamant about having a new caseworker as we do not believe that any real relationship could be formed with T.  We know that being chosen as an adoptive family might be a long journey, but we also strongly believe that if it is God's will for us to be a child's parents He will open any door to make it possible.  
     I am deeply saddened that all of this was taken so far and handled so poorly.  Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing how we can take the next steps to be placed on the adopt only list.     
We sent this on Monday and I did get an email back from him on Tuesday saying that he would look into it more and get back to us on Friday.  Today is Friday and he did email me back...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: Blue Skies Tomorrow

I did not know that Blue Skies Tomorrow was the 3rd book in a series by Sarah Sundin, but you can definitely pick this book up and read it without reading the others.  The widowed Helen throws herself into her work as a mother and volunteer during the war (WWII)  in order to avoid facing her grief.  She soon meets Ray, who also has his own issues to work through.  They both face insecurities and trials, much like we all do.  This is a great romantic drama.   

To celebrate the release of Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final installment of the Wings of Glory series, Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Vintage Kindle Prize Package! 

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One winner will receive:

* Kindle with Wi-Fi

* Handmade vintage apron for you and a friend (see a photo here)

* Blue Skies Tomorrow (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/10. Winner will be announced on 9/12 at Sarah Sundin's blog. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Book Review: Amish Values for Your Family

I thought that I had this scheduled to be published and I guess it never did :(  Maybe better late than never?

Amish Values for Your Family was such a nice read.  I love the Amish proverbs or common sayings that started off each short story in the different sections.  I love the practical application suggestions that Fisher gives at the end of each chapter and the little stories she takes from local Amish newspapers just top it off. 

The book is probably what you expect it to be about: forgiveness, the value of children, teaching lessons, the value of hardwork, emersing yourself in God's amazing creations and the tie-in with all of the topics is that God is in complete control (and thank God He is!).

There are so many lessons to be learned and so many ideas that will come to mind when you read this book.  I am challenged to live a different life that will lead to many great lessons and memories for my children. 

We were asked to pick a value/topic/lesson and share how it has touched our family's life.  It was really hard for me to pick one story.  One of the things I love reading about and learning from the Amish is how they view marriage so the story I chose was about marriage.  They view marriage not only as a commitment to eachother but as a commitment to God.  Their weddings are simple, full of love from family and friends and taken very seriously.  I love it!

Enter 8/15 - 8/31!

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of Amish Values for Your Family, her latest non-fiction release. "It offers loving ways to bring your fractured home back to life-Amish style. Read it and apply generously! It’s a beautiful book-funny, charming, soulful, and beautiful." -Mary Ann Kirkby

Read the reviews here.

To celebrate the release of Amish Values for Your Family, Suzanne has teamed up her publisher Revell Books to giveaway a Kindle, and with Bill Coleman (the amazing photographer used on Suzanne’s book covers) to give away a signed Bill Coleman original.

One Grand Prize winner will receive an Amish Values Prize Package (valued at over $200) and includes:

* A brand new KINDLE
* A Signed Bill Coleman original
* Amish Values for Your Family (for KINDLE)

Click on one of the icons to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

But, wait there's more! Suzanne is running a Bill Coleman caption contest during the month of August on her blog. Title one of Bill’s gorgeous photos for a chance to win a print from Bill’s Amish Photo site and/or a copy of Amish Values for Your Family.

"Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction and the host of a weekly radio program called Amish Wisdom. Her most recent book, Amish Values for Your Family released in August. The Waiting is a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award. Amish Peace: Simple and Amish Proverbs were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth. Keep up on Suzanne's latest news on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

1st Week of Fostering

It has been a week since Melissa first moved in with us.  A super quick week actually and quite a busy one.  My sisters were here for 5 days of it and I am really, really, really sad that they are gone, but I loved having them here.  I loved that they got to meet Melissa.  I love that fall is right around the corner... yes, totally random I know, but I'm just getting sooo excited for it!!

Melissa and Kassidy have been getting along very well.  Of course, we have had our bumps and expect even more to come, but in general they are awesome together.  Melissa herself is a great girl.  She is smart and loving.  A little too loving.  She has no stranger danger at all, which is an issue of its own.  Melissa just fits our family.  She just joined right in and is here.  Part of that is her personality and part of that just is.  I am the one who is struggling. 

I am struggling because my heart and brain are not agreeing on some issues.  We have been told that Melissa is going back to her family.  Definitely.  When?- we do not know.  We are super affectionate and constantly telling Kassidy how much we love her.  It has been us 3 forever.  I struggle because I don't want Melissa to get too attached to us.  My heart thinks that her heart will break when she leaves.  My heart also thinks that she will be happy to be going anywhere that will be permanent.  My head thinks that she shouldn't get attached to one more person in her life.  She already gives herself too much to others only to be taken away or hurt by them.  My head thinks that it would be better for her to feel the strong love from someone at least once in her life.  My head also thinks that I would not want someone I didn't know to just be pouring out their love on me when I really don't know them. 

So I struggle.  In the past week, I have shown very little affection to Kassidy and besides at bedtime, when I tell them both that I love them, I have not told Kassidy that I love her except for when we are alone.  This is not how I mother and this is not who I am.  The fear and confusion does not come from me not wanting to get hurt.  I am prepared for that... I think.  Some moments with Melissa feel like she is meant to be in our family and like she has been here for so long already.  Other moments I still care deeply for her but feel good about her going home. 

This foster thing is crazy.  I never thought it wouldn't be.  Melissa is a breeze... an angel placement.  And just a little 6 year old who wants a mommy and daddy to love her forever no matter what. 

Tomorrow is the first day of school.  Melissa will be going into 1st grade at our local public school and Kassidy will be going into 2nd grade at home with me.  I think that will help me.  The schedule is crazy and not a help but I think the quality time with K will help, because I also struggle because I feel like I do not have enough alone time with K anymore.  I mean we were always alone before.  I guess this is the feeling all parents of more than one child have.  The feeling like there is not enough of you to go around.  It is ok, though, and I know God gives and will continue to give us what we can handle.  The relationship between the girls is like nothing else.  Having a sister is an amazing gift and a little less individual mommy time is the cost, but I think it's a good trade.  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

She's Here and Oh What A Disaster!

Friday night we met at Chick-fil-a with Melissa, her foster parents, and foster siblings.  The kids played and we (Mike and I) got some great info about Melissa and about fostering in general.  We told everyone that we were going to a waterpark on Monday and we would love for Melissa to come with us, so we decided she would move in on Sunday.

Sunday came and we picked up Melissa.  She had an 8 person dining table filled with stuff.  There was tons of toys and clothes.  She literally had at least 50 shirts, including one that said "I love shopping!"  No kidding!!  So there is no need for us to get new clothes or shoes (she came with 15 pairs) besides what she will need for soccer.  The morning we picked up Melissa, her previous foster mom and her had gone to the store, where Melissa insisted on getting "her new mom" some flowers.  She picked out my absolute favorite- sunflowers :)  She also went around the store telling people that she was getting a new mommy today and saying "I am a foster kid and I am getting a new mommy today."

So now it is Tuesday.  Melissa is doing wonderfully.  She is a great girl with a great personality.  Her and Kassidy have been non-stop playing.  Melissa is pretty clingy and does definitely like to please.  She seems to be thriving, while I seem to be struggling.  I hesitate to share why I am struggling, but I will probably in another post very soon. 

Our caseworker came today for us to sign paperwork.  We had not met her before since our homestudy was done by another woman.  My room and the girls' rooms are disasters.  My sisters are in town (!!!) and like I said Melissa came with a truckload of stuff that I have been sorting.  My room is a mess because the girls have somewhat taken it over while my sisters are here and I have Melissa's stuff in there trying to be sorted.  Their room is a disaster for the above reasons also.  Well, it's hot here.  That sounds like something totally unnecessary to write as I'm sure it's hot everywhere.  Point being that our dogs cannot go outside for hours.  It's too hot.  Our CW also came early so I wasn't prepared with the dogs. 

The disaster happenned when our CW asked to see where the meds were stored.  In my room of course.  In the bathroom closet, which was not locked like it was supposed to be.  Our CW is African American and super cute by the way.  Our dog does not like AA people.  He was abused by them and just does not like them.  He doesn't like when we wear hats or sunglasses and he doesn't like black people.  He is also scary looking, but the biggest baby ever.  I mean the smoke alarm goes off and he is glued to me the rest of the day.  So, I open the door and try to warn her that he is going to smell her but that it will be totally fine.  Well she freaks out when he starts barking at her and he runs up to her to smell her, like he always does.  He rams his nose up her leg and she thinks that he has bitten her.  I know he hasn't.  He has never bitten anyone.  Ever.  If he had he would have been gone lonnng ago.  She realized that he did not bite her.  I got him outside, proceeded to really apologize and then showed her our disaster of a room and the med closet that was not locked. 

What a disaster.  She looked like she was going to cry.... I'm sure her nerves were completely shot.  I have no idea what will happen.  Our dog has been around two other CWs with no problem.  He couldn't get enough of them.  Him and Melissa have hit it off quite nicely.  Her first morning here she kept telling everyone how she would kiss him and then he would kiss her back.  They're friends.  Everyone absolutely adores him once they meet him and everyone else who sees him from afar is scared of him.  Just the way I like it.  I have no problem leaving my doors unlocked and yes we live in a neighborhood in the city, but people know what dog we have and those who don't would get a rude awakenning from him (once they woke him up from his serious guard-dog duty of sleeping in the dirty laundry pile in the bedroom). 

We will see.  The whole situation really stresses me out. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Foster Recap with a Surprise!!!

I made this post on Monday.  Well, after I posted the fact that we had been certified for what I thought was a week and that we expected it to be a couple more weeks until we got a call.... saying that we were now totally certified and ready to go.  Umm.... you mean we were ready to go last week right?  No.  We weren't.  {sigh}  Not that it really matters, but it would have been nice to know that when we had been told we would start being on the list last Monday that we actually would have been.  I have attached my phone to my body and kept it on the loudest ring... which happens to wake me (when someone calls early in the morning) from my much needed treasuring-every-last-sleeping-in-opportunity-for-what-will-seem-like-forever-because-I-will-no-longer-only-have-a-responsible-7-year-old-beauty-sleep.  I am such a morning person you know!! 

So besides that... I also had this whole "usually takes 3 weeks to get a call" mentality going on, which I still will hold my impatient self to in the future.  So not being in the system for another week just meant it would be another week. 

Monday's call:  Disappointing at first.  Then, the agency's Program Director, who was the woman calling, said she would like to come out and meet us asap to answer any questions, go back over the foster agreement papers, etc.  We decided to meet the next day, Tuesday.  I had 5 kids in the house and was super busy so I had little time to assess that whole situation, which was probably a good thing.

Tuesday:  Yes, I cleaned my house alot.  Haha.  I had no idea what we were in for with the PD.  Would she want a tour of the house, which might turn into another, but much more serious, home study?  Kassidy also had her first day of co-op classes and right before I had to serioussslly get out of the house....  

WE GOT A CALL!!!!  (did you hear me scream that?!?!---cause I did!!)

We got a call!  We got a call!  We got a call!  Hey, hey, hey, hey! 

That is my 'We got a call' song (and dance)!  You can borrow it if you want ;)  It's to the tune of The Little Rascal's We Got A Pickle song... in case you didn't know.

THE CALL:  Was awesome.  Totally no pressure, way more info than expected and just lovely!  It was for a little girl, who just turned 6.  Yes, we requested 0-5 and were told that we could definitely say no, especially since she was out of our age range.  This little girl, who I will call Melissa, is currently in a foster home, but the children are all being removed because the foster mother is extremely sick.  We have learned that she is a pleaser and somewhat of a tattle-tale, which to be quite honest cracks me up... it superficially cracks me up, but when I think about why it breaks my heart.  She is most likely going to family and they have had 3 family members doing homestudies.  One family failed and two are still waiting for theirs to be completed.  Knowing that she will not be ours (most likely) stinks in a way because we are fostering to adopt  but it also is a little more freeing.  Freeing in that we will not have to hold our breath the whole time and freeing in that I will try not to envision, and therefore get my hopes up, her being actively in our family forever. 

I asked if I could call the Caseworker right back and she said of course.  So I called Mike just to make sure and he said yes!  I called the CW back and she said that they would make sure it was fine with CPS, which they saw no reason why it wouldn't be. 

We would transitioning Melissa into our home quickly due to her current foster mother's health and because school is starting in just a few short weeks.  She will have to go to public school, which thank God is super duper close, but that will be a hurdle we have to get over in regards to taking her and picking her up everyday when we share one car.  I would love to walk but the road to cross to get there is super busy in the morning and it makes me nervous... I might see if there is a cross walk but there is not even a sidewalk. 

Tuesday Afternoon Meeting:  Went great.  I asked my list of questions :) and got the answers I needed.  We learned more about Melissa, who seems to be an amazing girl!  She has some stranger danger or lack of issues, which is why we are not really comfortable with her taking a bus to school with kids up to 6th grade.  We were told that we were now just waiting for CPS to approve the transfer and again it was stated that there seemed to be no reason why they wouldn't approve it. 

Now:  It is Wednesday night and no phone calls about CPS's decision yet.  We were not expecting one until Friday-ish.  We did however get an email from the PD with background checks for my sisters, who are visiting next week(!!!!!), to fill out.  She also said that she would be contacting me tomorrow.  That was it "I will be contacting you tomorrow".  Haha.  I would have really appreciated some kind of hint about what that contact will be about, especially since she is not our CW and I thought things would be going through her. 

To Be Continued.....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Homeschool Plan for 2011-2012

This is our second year homeschooling and I am super excited to be done with the first!!  I know a little better about what works, what we all like and what's important. 

Kassidy is going into 2nd grade.  She is our only child, at the moment, but we are waiting to get a call to foster to adopt.  That will change things up, of course, but I think that our main curriculum will stay the same.  We cannot homeschool any foster children and starting at 3 they are supposed to be in a Headstart program. 

Sooooo... I have been working on curriculums and a plan for a while now.  Here is what I found when I first started... loves, likes, dislikes and very strong dislikes :)

Handwriting and Spelling: A Reason For---love these lessons!!  I had so little to do to prepare for them.  The Handwriting book works on a Bible verse for the week and at the end of the week you get to write the verse on a cute border sheet that the child can also color.  They have suggestions for what to do with those sheets, including sending them to prisoners, the elderly, family, making them into placemats, etc.   The Spelling book has some fun and creative games and ideas.  These books have wayyyy more packed in them than any other curric I've seen. 

Bible: Positive Action's Finding God's Promises.  I am also very excited about this curric!  The pictures and stories (that tie in with the Bible lessons) are super colorful and fun!

Writing and Grammar: I am just pulling from a few resources, which include a Little Critter Writing book, a Bible Activities workbook, and Everything for Math and Reading workbook.  We are also part of a small group at church that is doing Shurley English.

Health, Safety and Manners: One day a week we will be doing the work from the A Beka book.  This will only last us for the first semester of school.

Social Studies: We are switching this, Social Studies Made Simple workbook, with the Health for our 2nd semester. 

Science:  We are using BJU and it was one that I was disappointed with.  I had to work soooo hard to make a plan still that would go a little more in depth, because, in my opinion, it does not ever go below surface level on any topic.  Using this curric and adding in my own further in depth info we will only get 2-3 days/week for only 20 weeks out of this book.  I think we are going to order A Reason For (the same as Handwriting & Spelling above) for the rest of the year. 

Math:  Another subject where I am just going to pull from the resources I have.  I have lots of workbooks including the Everything for Math and Reading workbook and Bible Activities workbook.  I get these workbooks from Mardel, which is an awesommmee store that you hopefully know about!  The prices are amazing... like $3.50-$8 a book.  Monday & Wednesday will be worksheet days, Tuesday will be flash cards and Thursdays will be word problems, which I think are important enough to have their own day... that knowledge and those skills might actually be used one day!!

Artists/Hymns/Composers:  This did not work so well for us last year.  For some reason it just seemed like I really had to drag it out to last longer than 5 minutes, so we are doing much less of it "formally" this year.  We are just going to listen to one composer/quarter during our quiet/car/etc times.  Hyms (I include other important songs) will be mostly patriotic in the 1st semester since that is what we will be studying in History at that time.  Our first artist will be Renoir followed by Monet. 

History: A Beka's Our America, which was another disappointment.  3/wk will only get us through 20 weeks so we will just be reading some great books for the majority of the 2nd semester. 

Geography and Map Skills: We are really just focusing on memorizing (and hopefully learning) the states, capitals and oceans.  In the dollar section, Target has some great easy workbooks on the states and on some other topics.

Typing:  We are using  I really wanted a free program and I think I have found a good one.  A tip on typing: when I was in school our typing teacher would have us fold a paper in half and stick on edge in the top above the numbers with the rest sitting on our hands so that we couldn't see the keys.  We all learned to type very well and very fast. 

Then of course we have reading time, misc lessons and piano lessons.  It sounds like alot, especially when I type it out like this, but we are really only doing school for about 3-4 hours a day 4 days a week, plus 2 hours of co-op school time 2 days a week.

On Fridays I hope to do more volunteering, field trips, adventures, etc. 

I am very excited for school to start and again I feel completely blessed that I am able to homeschool our daughter!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yes, I jump whenever I hear my phone ring now!!

{Drumroll Please}

We are officially, totally and completely put into the system to be foster parents!!!!

We have been for a week... no calls yet, but we are waiting!!  Trying to be patient!

From what I have read and heard people usually wait about 3 weeks before they get a call.  I have no idea why it seems to work like that, but it seems to.  So we will wait (yet again in this process).

It would be really nice to have some time to get things squared away before school starts, but we will probably not get that luxury, which is fine.  We homeschool our daughter and thought that we were avoiding public school and separation for the most part by only taking kids up to 6, but starting at 3ish they have to be enrolled in a Headstart program, which I am pretty clueless about.  Having all that ready to go and organized would be awesome... but it will all be awesome!!  I know God's time is perfect and I keep reminding myself of this  daily  every hour  pretty much constantly. 

I still struggle with fears of not being good enough and that somehow we will just never be called.  When I am left with my own thoughts and insecurities I sometimes conjure up ideas that for some reason our agency just verified (certified) us just to humor us, but have no plan to ever call us.  Crazy.  I know.  That's why I leave it all to God, because I really believe that this is what we are supposed to be doing.  I know that our baby(ies) is(are) waiting for us

So :)  we will wait and have confidence in only our God.  We are super excited and cannot wait to welcome 1 or 2 kiddos into our home!! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: Dinner with a Perfect Stranger

What an incredible book!  The book is centered around a dinner between a man and Jesus.  The man goes to dinner thinking that it is just another prank that his friends have played on him.  He doubts that the other man is really Jesus, but takes advantage of the opportunity to have some philisophical discussions.

Jesus brings up some great points and thoughts on so many Christian issues.  He also proves how other major religions cannot be true.  This book was filled with so many great ways to discuss religion.  I will definitely be re-reading it so that I might also be better able to defend my points. 

I found out that there is a movie that is very similar, but with a woman as the main character.  I cannot wait to watch the movie.  You should definitely read the book.  It is a such an easy and very enjoyable read!!!

I joined Waterbrook Multnomah so I could get free books!!  Yay for free!!  And double yay for new, quality books for free!!  I do not get any other compensation besides the book and agree to give my completely honest review.

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Man's Stand for Justice

One Man's Stand For Justice! Don't miss this amazing story on PBS 7/26.

I'll be blogging about the book Mugabe and the White African  later this month, but I wanted to let you know that Point of View will air the documentary Mugabe and the White African.

The film tells the story of Mike Campbell and his family of three generations of Zimbabwean farmers as they attempt to keep their farm under Mugabe's "land reform." Watch the trailer for the documentary below and visit the PBS Point of View website for your local listing.

The book Mugabe and the White African  (Lion Books, distributed by Kregel Publications, July 15, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-7459-5546-9, $14.95) written by Mike Campbell's son-in-law Ben Freeth provides more detail regarding the family's struggles and court battles.The book chronicles the deeply moving and life-threatening struggle of a Christian family from Zimbabwe to protect their legally owned farmland, to protect the lives and livelihoods of all those working on the farm, and to live to see justice.
Freeth lays bare a beautiful but lawless land fouled by fear. A 'Clockwork Orange' state where racism, greed, and violence are ultimately humbled by almost unimaginable courage. Richly described, bravely chronicled, and utterly compelling. 
-Mike Thomson, Radio Foreign Affairs Correspondent, BBC

Ben Freeth has an extraordinary story to tell. Like that of many white farmers, his family's land was "reclaimed" for redistribution by Mugabe's government. But Ben's family fought back. Appealing to international law, they instigated a suit against Mugabe's government in the SADC, the Southern African equivalent of NATO. The case was deferred time and again while Mugabe's men pulled strings. But after Freeth and his parents-in-law were abducted and beaten within inches of death in 2008, the SADC deemed any further delay to be an obstruction of justice. The case was heard, and was successful on all counts.

But the story doesn't end there. In 2009 the family farm was burned to the ground. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over--this book is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances. 

Read an Excerpt (PDF)

Read the Press Release

Sunday, July 17, 2011

So Hard To Say Goodbye

It is so hard to say goodbye.  Mike's mom and nephew came to visit for a week and we all parted ways today, which means....

everyone is sad.

Kassidy cried... and cried... and cried... and cried. 

Mike said how much he missed his mom. 

I miss her also.

I also am reminded that my heart will break in a few weeks after my sisters come to visit and then also have to leave.  There will be many more tears then.

Our hearts break because we are not all together.  I think we have holes in our hearts that our loved ones are supposed to be filling.  Of course, we remain close and we treasure our relationships but when you can't get up and see them whenever you want the hole never can be totally filled. 

Maybe one day we can all live close to eachother.  Texas would be the smartest place since it's right in the middle of everyone else!!!  ;)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: Surviving Your Serengeti

I actually was disappointed in this book.  I read about all of the books I pick out before I decide on them.  I was very excited about this book after the reviews I read.

 It is kind of a personality book that is actually very well written in story form touching on each of the 7 "business and life" personalities.  It is very uniquely written and if you are interested in learning just a little bit about several different personalities then you will probably enjoy this book.  I was looking for more details, tips, ideas, insights, etc.  There is very little of that. 

You can visit the site for the book and take the personality test to see what you are.  Basically what you find out from that is all that is written in the book.  My results from the test were definitely spot on with my personality. 

I joined Book Sneeze so I could get free books!!  Yay for free!!  And double yay for new, quality books for free!!  I do not get any other compensation besides the book and agree to give my completely honest review.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Galveston Trip #1

Kassidy and I went with my dad, stepmom and little sister to Galveston to meet my grandparents at their time share.  We had a blast and to help keep some memories and share our adventures I will post some pics.  There are quite a few so there will be several posts on our trip!!

The many faces of Kassidy. 

Do you think she buried herself with that little shovel??

Sand, Sand, Sand

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Let's Plllayyy Bbballll!!!!!

We went to the baseball game a couple weeks ago thanks to some of our awesome friends, who couldn't go.  These were the best seats we have ever had.  It was awesome!  And the tickets came with free parking which just sweetened the deal!

K was not in the mood for pics unlike her daddy, who was more than willing :)

My Texas Rangers!!!

We are baseball lovers and our players are incredible.  Many are such strong, faith-full, encouraging, positive examples and many are very quick to give God the glory for all of their accomplishments.

PS.  I do not know if you have seen the news lately, but Josh Hamilton, who is an amazing player and an even more amazing Christian man, threw a foul ball to a fan the other night at the game and the fan fell trying to catch it.  He later died at the hospital.  He was a 39 year old fire fighter who was at the game with his 6 year old son.  His name was Shannon.  If you would keep both Josh, his family and Shannon's family in your prayers that would be great. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yes, Again!


This post really says how I feel about adoption.  Here are some great facts about adoption, orphans and children in the foster care system. 

I kind of feel like I am being redundant when I continue to stress how ridiculous this serious issue is.  I feel like people are just not catching on.  I know so many people who have come out and said that they are thinking about adopting.  Thinking about it.  Yes, we "thought about it" for a long time also.  We really are just now where we actually could adopt.  Not too long ago we would not have qualified financially, etc.  But now we are and are waiting any day now to hear that we are officially certified! 

I just URGE you.  I wish you could hear me say that.... how serious of a tone I say that in.  I really urge you to stop "thinking about it" and do it.  Step out and try it.  Start the classes you need to adopt from foster care.  You will learn sooo much and I believe you will really find out if this journey is for you or if it's not during those classes.   We were only going to adopt.  There was no option to foster for us before the classes and now we are fostering to adopt. 

Just do something!  Please!  I do understand that it is a calling to live that life.  I do.  I get it.  But I also get that we are being called to do things constantly that we never act on because we are just not listening, we do not want to or we are just afraid to. 

I also know that we are all told:
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Matthew 18:5

So if you are feeling at all interested or at all shaken by the idea of adopting, please, PLEASE, PLEASE just check it out!  It's no big deal to find out more!  Stop talking, thinking about it and just do it!!