Monday, June 25, 2012

what do we do in the summer time?

My Summer Plans

For the last 6 years, I have come up with a schedule of activities to keep my kiddos and I happy and busy for the summer. It has helped us all to look forward to summer and not dread it. well, with 15 children still at home this has become a fun way to enjoy time with them. This year, has not been my best because of a myriad of things but, I am looking to change that for the rest of the summer.

Step one: what do you like to do?  Taht is how we start planning. what kinds of things do you want to experience in a summer? anything you have always wanted to see?

Step two: What will your schedule look like? we do activities in the morning, have lunch then swim or relax in the afternoon. No more than 30 minutes of electronics in one day total not per person. And 1 hour of TV.

Step three: Plan! Plan! Plan! Look for opportunites that are afforable and kid friendly. We like FREE the best. Also, consider family passes. Hogle Zoo in SLC costs for one visit.
Seniors (65 and older):$9.75
Children (3 to 12):$9.75
Children 2 and younger:Free                                      
For a family member ship for one year, it costs $67.00 and they have many "sister" zoos in other states that are free or reduced costs

So, here is what our schedule looks like :
Week One  Art week: explore difefrent art mediums every day, go to an art museum (BYU has a free one), make tie die shirts, make a pet rock (remember those?) etc..

Week 2: Pirate/Knight week: explore life on the high seas and in a castle: Make paper hats and swords. Make a castle out of boxes, buy some eye patches, talk like pirates, make a lunch that ties in with the theme, read books about pirates or knights/princesses, make crowns

Week 3: Service: plan some service opportunities, see how a soup kitchen works, tour a local food bank, make donations, weed a garden, clean a room etc.. read about kids that do service around the country

Week 4: Celebrate the USA, write a serviceman/woman, make a flag out of popsicle sticks, visit veterans or gravesites of veterans, watch the Hope of America pageant on youtube, fireworks, make a cool dessert for 4th of July.

Week 5: adventure time: go on a hike, visit a tourist trap (hehe), go on a picnic, put up the tent in the back yard, tell campfire stories, have smores, tell stories with flashlights

Week 6: Bug/animal week: go on a bug hunt, have a picnic, make bread animals or bugs, have ants on a log or otehr bug treats, make coffee filter butterfly magnets

Week 7: Pioneer week. No electronics for 24 hours. Mmake dinner by grilling or by dutch oven, read about pioneers, learn pioneer games, watch a movie like Legacy or 17 Miracles that talk about pioneer life, go on a hike (pretend to be a pioneer) , visit a local pioneer village in SLC it is This is the PLace in Michigan it is Greenfield Village

Week 8: Carnival week: let your kids put togther a carnival, invite friends, make signs take donations for a charity, have simple games download carnival music, rent a cotton candy machine, amke baloon animals,learn to juggle, visit a carnival

Then we also incorporate a once a week trip to the library to participate in their summer program. teh governors summer reading program (when you finish, they send you a certificate and a free happy meal) we go to 7 peaks water park and fun things like that.

Think about lazy time...what do you see in the clouds game, things like that
or you could pick a favorite book and build a theme around it.

have fun...your family is worth it

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Oh, I couldn't do that, isn't it hard?"

I hear this a lot when people find out we do foster care. "oh, I couldn't do that, isn't it hard?"
So I decided to share a few realities and facts about my experience of doing foster care.

So, let me start at the beginning. We didn't start doing foster care in the hopes that our family would be ginormous and allow all kinds of people to stare at us like we are a freak of nature. We started to do foster care because we had 4 beautiful children and wanted to help other children. We thought all of the children would rightfully, go back to their birth family. Obviously, that wasn't always the case but, we commited to these children when they came and after 9-12 mths they were part of the family and they stayed.
People tell me often, "Well at least you got your children the easy way...(meaning, I guess, no labor?)" Well, you are right. I went to bed Monday night and my family was "normal" by Tuesday night at dinner I had more children, who were/were not  clothed appropriately, had to find car seats. maybe diapers, beds, clothing and a variety of other things. They were most likely sullen or outright angry in temperment. They did NOT want to be in our home at all, they wanted to be at their home. They did not wnat me to touch them, bath them or cuddle with them, they wanted their birth parent. So, if you think that was easy...okay.
Then, "what if they have to go back? I could never do that." Well, you are right, sometimes they get to go home..Joyous day! Is it sad? absolutely but, let me tell you something, I am living with children that can't go home and they are angry, hurt and confused. This does "fade" with time and they do start to find joy in life again but they still think of random things at random times and life becomes hard again. So, is it sad when they leave? yes, but my momentary sadness is better than their hurt for long term.
I am consistently amazed at the resiliency of children. Not only that but they can be so incredibly loving and giving of themselves once you crack through the hurt/anger and confusion. My children are so welcoming, helpful and supportive of "new" children entering our home. It is stunning to watch. The bonds with siblings forge over time. They call each other their brothers and sisters. There is no difference to them. They fight and argue like siblings and they laugh and joke with each other like friends. They try so hard to mold their lives into something new and acceptable. These children are each a miracle and joy in our life. I have learned far more from watching them and experiencing them then I could ever teach them.
Does this all mean our lives are sunshine and roses? How I wish somedays but, then again, if life were like that I wouldn't have been able to experience the ride we are on right now. there are arguments. There is anger. There is craziness. There is jopy, There is sadness. There are tears. Basically, we are like every other family we just have a lot more emotions happening at the same time.
My favorite question of all time has to be, "are they all yours?" really? I know we don't all match in skin color but let me assure you, just like your children are yours these children are mine. They are either mine permanently or temporarily but rest assured they are mine. Heavenly Father allowed me to have them and help them in any way I can. I bathe them, feed, them, cuddle them and love them. And, I feel like that makes them mine. I don't ever really forget any of them. So..they are a part of me and my life. Can I offer a suggestion? Please, don't say things like that in front of them. It belittles their connection to me and my family. I know what you mean and you are just curious but they don't and it hurts when it is pointed out (repeatedly, cause you aren't the only one) that they might not "belong" in some way.
So, "Isn't it hard?" Yea, sometimes it is. My kiddos come in pairs or triples or quads. The first month I am always dying. It is so hard to get all of the appointments in and trying to get them on schedules and helping my other children adjust. Confusion, anxiety, and tears abound. My children find it hard initally to bring new children in. It is not because they don't want them here, it is because sometimes it triggers their move here. They don't mean to be upset, it is just a fact/way of life. Then, we all get adjusted and settled to a new routine. Do you remember what it was like when something significant happened in your life? I am speaking specifically of a new baby? Do you remember how that turns your life upside down? Well, try 3 or 4 at a time. Our last placement was a 2, 1 and 4 month old. That was hard. But, we plowed through and they are all doing so well. They are truly a part of our family. In essence, there is nothing easy about being a foster parent. There is also nothing easy about being a parent. I don't see myself as a foster parent. I see myself as a mom trying my best to provide the emotional and physical support that my children need. And, they are ALL my children. I cry when they leave (and for a while after) and eat ice cream when they leave. I find some random item of theirs and I start crying again. Much like when my 3 oldest children moved out. I would go in their rooms and cry because it is sad. But, we are all on a journey and I am not always the best fit for them or them for me.

My children are worth all of my joy, sadness and love. I hurt with them, I cry with and for them. Just like I do for my birth children.
So, "isn't it hard?" My standard answer, "If you do it right...Absolutely."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Choice and accountability

Well, we may or may not be adding 3 more little ones to our family. So this started me thinking about choices. The choices people make and the choices I make.
Choices- Heavenly Father gives us all free agency. Free Agency allows each one of us the power to choose for ourselves. Heavenly Father doesn't demand we make changes He loves and encourages us to make changes but allows us our choice.
We have control over our choices but we don't have control over our consequences. That is such a hard lesson for people to learn. they often feel that they weren't allowed to make a choice and that circumstances put them into this situation. or better yet? bad luck.
I am not sure I believe in luck. I believe in blessings and I believe in good choices resulting in good consequences. Does this mean if I live a good life bad things won't happen to me? I was reminded of something the other day about the wise man building his house upon a rock and the follish man building his house upon the sand...The rain came and fell upon both of them but, the difference is what is our foundation built upon? sand or rock?
People think sometimes that they are the "only ones that have bad things happen to them". I say,"Bull".
We ALL have bad things happen to us. the difference is how we choose to respond to those bad things. The difference is do we make necessary changes to reach out for the good or do we allow life to get us down and to heap burdens upon us? I have many "bad" things that happen to me but, being negative doesn't serve me well or serve my family. It never makes me feel better to commiserate with something and complain about my life and problems. I do share complaints with my friends but, it still doesn't fix nor serve me well to do so.
Getting back to choices, I have made many choices that have brought me to this moment on this day in this second and I wouldn't change a one of them. The reason? Because it has made me who I am. I can certainly sit down and bemoan the fact that my parents are divorced and alcohol has played a part in my dad's life  for more years than I can remember. But, that won't change the facts. Nor, will it help me in any way. The experience has actually allowed me to understand partially how my adoptive children feel being brought into a new environment and not living with a birth parent. i can also understand (to some degree) what their life may have been like. i can relate. and, I won't even get started on John's expereinces and what we have been through together.
No one has an easy life without challenges and struggle, NO ONE!
Your choices determine your life and your attitude.
It is so hard for me to witness the destruction of a family. Unfortunately, with the lifestyle I lead I see this happen often. Let me repeat this is NEVER an easy thing to witness. While I love the children in my home so much, it makes me so sad knowing the struggles and heartache everyone has to endure in the future because of choices.
Kids deserve a loving and stable environment. Seeing the children grow and progress in my home makes me feel happy but also sad that their birth parents don't have the opportunity to see this progression. I ache for the birth families and for the children. (of course, that is one of the reasons we now have 18 children in our home). I can't ignore a child.
Ultimately my choices have led me to be doing foster care and caring for 59 children now. And a birth parents choices have led them to the place they are in.
Regardless, Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us. He wants strong families. Our society does so much to weaken the importance of family and family life. It is a sad state when we don't value the fundamental unit of society, a family.

But then again, we all have choices don't we?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I am more than...

I am more than a number on a scale.
I am more than a wife.
I am more than a student.
I am more than a mom.(of some stinkin cool kiddos)
I am more than a homemaker.
I am more than a housekeeper.
I am more than a substitute teacher.
I am more than the gray in my hair.
I am more than the wrinkles on my face.
I am more than a good friend.
I am more than a confidant.
I am more than a smiling face.
I am more than a facebook status.
I am more than a blog post.
I am more than a cook.
I am more than a pant size.
I am more than....

I am more than I thought I could be but, not as much as I want to be. I am more confident than I though possible. I am more organized than I ever imagined. I am more...

I think we should all realize that we are more. We often compare our weakness with someones strength. I am more than that. I am more than gossip.

I think we should know our value in the world. We don't have to be supermodels or rich to have a fantastic life. We have a fantastic life if we allow ourselves to.

My husband is great at reminding me of some of my strengths. It is good to know sometimes that what I do matters. What you do matters too.

What is your list? What are you more than? There is one that values you more than you know. More than you can comprehend.

I am worth more. I am worth the love I feel. I am worth compliments.

I am of worth and value to my Heavenly Father. I am a treasured daughter of a Heavenly Father. I am more.....

So are you....

Friday, June 1, 2012

replace fear with...

I have started a new blog post three times already. I haven't had the right topic so, the words haven't come very easy.
I am thinking this is the right fit for this moment.
Why is it so hard to learn lessons? A lot of the time, I know what I should be doing and I know why I should be doing it but, I don't. I also know the results of not doing what I should. You would think I would have learned by now.
I was talking to a sweet young lady the other day about, well...basically fear. (at least that's what I got out of it). FEAR:is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat.
Fear restricts us from who we need to become. Fear can motivate us to do good but that should not be a motivating factor. If you feel fear, you need to reach out to your Heavenly Father. John always says (I am not sure if I am quoting someone else but I am giving credit to John) : "replace your fear with an act of faith." How do you do that though?
How do you look at something that has happened in your life and not fear it? You trust in you Heavenly father. You trust that He will carry you. You trust that He will never let you fall. You trust...
Trust is an interesting word as well because it can be scary and hard to trust people. How do you replace that fear of trust with an act of faith? I don't have all of the answers for your life. (Unfortunate, I know).
I can only tell you how things have gone down in my life and the examples from my husband's life.
I can only tell you that many fear inducing things have happened over our lifetimes. Some days are down right hard. But, we joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1993, together. That began our journey of overcoming fear. For me, finding the strength and stability this church has to offer, made me start to replace fear with faith. My doubts have withered (but not gone away entirely). My life has meaning, purpose and direction becuase Heavenly Father became my compass, my guide, my iron rod.When you have that kind of influence in your life fear tends to take a back seat. Because you trust that there is someone greater than you.
That is where trust starts...You start to trust in the one who can and will never leave you. Then, you trust in more things little by little.
Fear is interesting, I think. You think you have a handle on things and then fear creeps its way back in.
This is probably disjointed thoughts and makes no sense to anyone but me.
I was just thinking about this beautiful lady who doubts herself and what she can become. I am here to say mostly to myself and her that we are all scared of things especially if you have lived through hard times. But replace that fear with trust and faith. Things will work out. It will all work out. At times like these, I understand why hard things happened to me. Because, it helps me to relate to others in similar situations. I know what it is like. It isn;t easy to overcome fear and it can linger in your life. I know that I have hope and faith that the one day the fear will completely dissipate. That love will overpower that fear. I will be filled with light and love as I put my trust in Him.
I have been blessed with a great family who teaches me so much more than I could ever teach them. How blessed I have been and continue to be when I trust what He has planned for me. I never would have thought it possible for me to have this many children. But, I do and it is because I trust that the Lord will keep his part of teh promise. I will do this earthly job and He will help me in all areas I need.
So, replace fear with faith. Pray until you feel like praying then pray some more. fear will slowly be replaced by the light that shines inside of you as you are able to free yourself from the overwhelming fear that fills you.
You are a beloved child of a Heavenly Father that loves you and as such put your trust in Him, He will allow that trust to flow to those around you. Seek out the good.
Fill your cup so that it overflows and radiates the joy within. Forget about the things you can't change. You lived this life for a reason that you will come to know and appreciate one day. If I didn't have my expereinces how could I possibly understand the hurt that my children feel? how could I say," you know what I have been there and it stinks!"
Fear and doubts do not come from Heavenly Father. They will always come but one person seeks to exploit those weaknesses and one person seeks to strengthen them. So, who will you follow? Who will you change for?That is for you to decide
"But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15.