Thursday, September 11, 2014

Foster Care Update: MAPP Class #3

Does this look like a foster family you'd want to come stay with?

I forgot that along with our of our paperwork we needed to bring a recent family picture to class #3. I remembered this as the kids were getting ready for bed so I had everyone get ready real quick and we used the timer on our camera. I'm totally wearing pajama pants under my skirt and Ethan was freaking out about not having time to do his hair. I think it turned out pretty good though :)

We also needed to provide a picture or our pets and house:

Does Spunky look like he's smiling or that he wants to bite someone? I'm hoping the caseworker sees it as a smile cause that's the best we could get out of these 2 dummies!

-I think we finished most of our paperwork. Even if one of us may have been doing some cramming on the drive there. and Ms. F was assigned to be our caseworker. I really Ms. F and I'm happy that she'll be the one writing our home study. Her first home visit will be a 2 weeks so we don't have much time to get our house in order. Time for more cramming!

*I'm sad that I forgot to make copies of the pictures our youngest 3 kids drew of or future foster kids :(

-This week was our week to bring everyone in the class dinner. We partnered up with another lady and brought: ribs, homemade mac and cheese, veggies, corn bread, and brownies. All I have to say is that the next people are going to have a hard time topping our feast!

-I don't feel like I learned a lot of new things in week #3. We spent a lot of time going over feelings/behaviors of children who are grieving. One of the teachers was telling us how even on the day her son's adoption was becoming final, he still was grieving the loss of his birth mother who he hadn't seen in years.

-They tell us we need to become "loss experts" to help our foster children in the grieving process.

-We went over how to make Life Books. It's basically a story of your foster child's life through things like; pictures, stories, medical records, and birth info. It's something the child can bring with them to their next placement or when they go back with their birth parents. We were also advised to make similar things to give to the birth parents at visits.

At the end of this class we were given more paperwork....Yay! :/ Including what we need to be finger printed. Tomorrow I'm going for my check up and TB test.

I wonder if they'll let me skip the weigh in portion?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Foster Care Update: MAPP Class #2

In our second MAPP class we learned about the steps involved in a foster care case. They walked us through a story of a family who went from "normal" to having their kids put in foster care. In the story it all happened over 1 weekend. The teachers said that in real life it wasn't uncommon for the process to happen within weeks or a month. In the story, the child was moved into one foster home only to be moved again when those foster parents decided that they couldn't handle a child who had been sexually abused.

They said it usually takes a child 6 years to get over a loss like being taken away from their parents and each time it's moved from another foster home more years are added to that healing process. These children are going through the 5 stages of grief and will jump back and forth through stages for many years. Sometimes all 5 stages in one day.

We also talked about Erikson's Stages Of Development:

-Lots of foster children are behind in their development and are still trying to learn trust vs mistrust when they should be at a higher level.

-When the children are brought to our home the caseworkers will know very little about them. It's the foster parent's job to asses the child's well-being.

Is the child:

Physically and emotionally healthy?
Socially healthy?
Intellectually on target? 

We'll have to gather this kind of information to pass on to the child's doctors and other people assigned to their case.

Week #3 is our week to provide dinner for everyone in class and our deadline to return all the paperwork we've been given. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Foster Care Update: MAPP Class #1

We FINALLY started our MAPP (Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) classes! 1 down and 9 to go :)

This first class was mostly spent going over what to expect from the MAPP classes and to getting to know each other and the 4 teachers. We also watched a video interview of several children and parents who have been involved with foster care. The part that stood out to me the most was hearing how scared the bio mom was about the kind of care her children were receiving and not know where they all were located. She also mentioned that she felt better after meeting her children's foster parents but was worried that they may like her children so much they may try to keep them. I hope that in future classes we'll get to hear more about how it is to be a bio parent of a child in foster care. I think it will help me to be more sympathetic and understanding. The children coming into our home are not our children. They'll have parents who are suffering too and hopefully working towards getting their family put back together.

Another thing we talked about in this first MAPP class is the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). ASFA is basically a law insuring timely decisions for permanency. So instead of a child being in foster care for years without any decision made on if they will reunite with their parents or be adopted, there is a timeline set. If a child is in foster care for 15 out of 22 consecutive months then family court will start to move to terminate the parental rights. This means that just because we've had a foster child in our home for over a year there's still a strong chance it will return to it's family. Reunification is always the first goal.

The other people taking the class seem OK so far. It's too soon to really know too much about them. The teacher said not all of us will make it to the last class and that the numbers will go down a little around the time all of our paperwork is due.

And the paperwork! Stacks on stacks of paperwork that has to be filled out by week 3! There's some interesting questions about us as individuals, a married couple, and our children. Our kids even have paperwork to fill out! I'll have to post a picture of the drawings Evelyn and Houston did for their part next week :)

So I'm looking forward to the next 9 weeks of MAPP classes and really digging into how to be the best foster parents we can!  My goal is to blog about each week for my own memories and to give insight to other people considering the process.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First Big Purchase : Foster Care

Right now Jonathan is out making one of the bigger purchases in our attempt to be ready for foster care. We start our 10 weeks of MAPP classes in just a few weeks and need to have everything ready to start accepting kids before our last home visit. That includes getting a new twin bed, crib, car seats, etc.clothes. We've decided to move our oldest son up to the finished attic and use his old bedroom for our foster kids. Tonight Jonathan is picking up a twin bed so we can start putting it all together.

I have mixed emotions about...everything right now. On top of the list is stress. I'm stressed out about getting everything ready and the cost. What if we spend all the money only to end up not actually getting foster kids. I don't see why that would ever happen but that doesn't keep me from stressing about it.

The paperwork that we're supposed to fill out and bring with us to our first MAPP meeting is still sitting untouched by my bed. I can't quite figure out how to describe my personality in one sentence or how to write an autobiography. Someone recently told me that I have a "sparkly" personality. I wonder how that would look to the social workers? ;)

I read, and have been reading lots of blogs and anything I can about being a foster parent. Sometimes reading those blogs makes me feel excited and I feel even more sure about our decision. Other times what I read scares me a little and I start to worry. I worry that the kids we get will be too much for us to handle. I worry that I'll fall in love and end up with a broken heart.

But then I saw this...

and I remember that it's not about us. It's about the kids we can help even if it's for a short time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Practically Perfect In Every Way: Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival Review

The 2014 Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival has begun and last week we were able to catch a performance of Mary Poppins at The MGR Playhouse. This was our first visit to the MGR and even though it's about an hour drive from Rochester, I would make the trip again in a heartbeat!

Auburn is a neat town with a lot of history including the home of Harriet Tubman and the Auburn Correctional Facility. If you go to see any of the productions during the festival, I recommend hitting up Connie's Tex Mex  (we had a great view of the prison) for some of their amazing tacos at a really reasonable price!

After dinner we went straight to the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse Theater. It's located right near Owasco Lake in Emerson park which look like a great place for a picnic! Next time I'd like to plan on having enough time to explore a little more.  The area is beautiful and because the theater is the perfect size, there's not a bad seat in the house!

The show itself was even better than I expected! Such a positive and happy feel. From the music to the choreography it was was practically perfect in every way! The show is better than the movie by far! Different, but all my favorite scenes from the movie were still there including some outstanding choreography to "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". I kept catching myself smiling while I got caught up in the magic of Mary Poppins and I'm planning another trip so my kids can enjoy it too.

SuperCal *Photo credit to Isaac James

Bert was pretty easy on the eyes! *Photo credit to Isaac James

I would highly recommend a trip to the Finger Lakes Musical Theater to enjoy this show or any of the other 7 productions that will be playing this season.   

*I was provided tickets to see Mary Poppins, but all of the opinions are my own :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival

I remember when I first fell in love with musical theater. When I was in 6th grade we took a field trip to Toronto to see Phantom of the Opera. I still remember getting a little teary eyed when Christine hit that note in "The Phantom Of The Opera". I had never seen talent like that before! Since then, I've seen the Phantom at least 5 times and I still get caught up in the moment and seeing the music come alive! 

Musical theater is something I enjoy sharing with my family too! We've been to see shows like The Lion King, Phantom Of The Opera, Annie, and most recently I took Evelyn to see Beauty And The Beast.

My love for musical theater is why I was so excited to learn about the start of the third season of the Finger Lakes Musical Festival! The festival showcases "Broadway in the fingerlakes" at 3 different venues in Auburn, NY. The season lasts from May 29th to Oct. 18th and features 200+ performances of seven productions.

Productions include:  “Mary Poppins,” “Damn Yankees,” “On the Town,” “The Will Rogers Follies,” and “The Church Basement Ladies: The Last (Potluck) Supper” at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, and “Menopause The Musical” at MGR Downtown at Auburn Public Theater

We'll be making the trip to Auburn this week to see a performance of Mary Poppins at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse! Auburn is only about an hour drive away and there's so much to do I'm hoping to stay the night and do some exploring the next day.

For more information on the shows, as well as the new work series, “The PiTCH,” please visit

Sunday, May 11, 2014

How Can I be This Old

I can't believe I'm the mother of a teenager!! How can my little boy be this old!? How can I be this old!?

When we first started throwing around ideas of how we should celebrate Ethan's 13th, we thought about having a huge party and inviting everyone we know. Then as the day started getting closer and I started thinking about all the work and $$ that would actually go into it, I had a great idea! I told him we could still have the big party OR we could just have a small family party and I'd give him $100. Maybe I should feel a little bad about bribing my kid with money but I think we both won in the end. I was saved from a ton of party planning and money and he is a lot closer to buying that xbox he's been wanting :)

Actually, he ended up with over $300 dollars!!!! What is a 13 year old going do do with all that money!? I told him he should give some of it to me for giving birth to him. For some reason he doesn't like that idea.

In the days weeks leading up to his birthday I was feeling a little sad thinking about how fast time has gone by and that my first baby was going to be a teen. Then yesterday morning I had just woken up and was laying in my bed when Ethan came in to cuddle with me for a minute. After I wished him a happy birthday he said that so far I was the second one to say it. He told me that before he got up he was laying in bed reading his Bible and got a text from his nanna.

My son spent the first few waking minutes of his 13th birthday reading the Bible...

At that moment all sadness was gone. I did cry a couple of times that day but they were tears of thankfulness. I take no credit for any of the good in my life. God has taken my feeble attempt at being a good mother and is turning it into something beautiful!

So we officially have a teen living in the house. And I think it's going to be amazing :)