Monday, August 31, 2015

Fostering: Being a Family

I had an "interesting" conversation at the bank the other day. Someone found out that we were fostering a child and said, "Oh, I've been thinking of doing that to supplement my income." First of all, if you are planning on bringing a child from a hard place into your home, your heart needs to be in it.  It's not just about a safe home, it's about a nurturing one.  If I wanted to make an income that involved child care, I would do daycare during the day or have international students again.  I'm hesitant to write this because I don't think I can do it well enough (time is a bit more valuable to me these days!) but it's better to try than not to, right?

Yes, you do get paid to be a foster parent.  It is based on the level of care you are able to provide (dependent on the child's needs) and is combined with your educational and life experience.  What does this monthly rate (which is equivalent to a daycare) cover?  Day-to-day expenses; clothes, shoes, food, car seats, strollers, diapers, bikes, wipes, gas for driving to meetings and appointments, extracurricular activities etc. In order to foster, you need to NOT depend on that money as an income; it's not your job, it's your life.


What about time investment?  Whenever you add any child into your home there's the extra appointments (dental, doctor, specialists) and less time for yourself.  Are you willing to drive 2-3 times a week to meet with the birth family?  Are you available for meetings with a Child Development Consultant? Therapists?   What about the bedtime routines--are you willing to put in one to two hours every night until your child feels safe?  What about spending time forming an attachment?  It's like starting from the newborn phase and moving in fast forward (answering cries, responding to hurts, feeding, changing, reassuring etc) until the child feels that you will respond and they can trust you.

I say all of this because it's the reality.  I'm stretched.  I'm tired.  It's not easy.  From attachment to tantrums to paperwork to various therapies – there's so much to learn!  We're getting there – with a few more bumps than I'd like – but we're getting there.  "There" being a new normal and routine that works.  I know that one day we will experience what will likely be the hardest part; when our Little One returns home. I'm not sure when or how it will happen and I don't know how we will all respond.  What I do know is that for now we will continue to treat this child as our own.

I don't say this to dissuade you; I say this so that you can see that it's not a job. It's a commitment, a mindset, a new way of doing life.  It's being a family.



What do we get out of this?  Watching the Little One erupt into fits of giggles over the sheer joy of dancing with our kids makes me smile and laugh. Seeing a skill that we have been working on over and over and over ACTUALLY BEING USED is rewarding (and I may have cried. Twice. Or more.)  Having our Little One now run up to Gary with arms outstretched for a hug and cuddle is heart-warming – like, melt me now.   Hearing our whole family cheering "Yay! Haircuts are so fun!  Yay–the buzzer!  Cut my hair!  Yahoo!" is hilarious but I love that we work as a team to encourage experiences.  Seeing this child "thaw out" and explode with personality is remarkable. This is why we parent.  This is why we foster parent.  Joy. Laughter. Growth. Teamwork.  Opening up. Safety. Support.  Love.

Love,
Louise

PS It is so, so hard for me not to share photos of the joy and laughter of this Little One, just trust me, the photos I have are pretty cute!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Taves Family Farm AppleBarn {Giveaway}

Last summer our family went to the AppleBarn in Abbotsford for the first time and we LOVED it.  We are going to go again but the reason I'm sharing about it now is because I am giving away a family pass this week!

{These pictures are from our last visit in case you are wondering why my kids suddenly look so small!}

What are some of the things that we love about the AppleBarn?






1.  The Giant Pumpkin Pillow!



2.  The playground and the poke-your-head-through-the-picture fun! They also have a giant ruler mural--I'll have to see how much they've grown since last year.  Don't forget to get a picture with Mater!







3. All of the animals.  Take a quarter and feed the goats some corn.



4.  The hayride.  It takes you all around the farm..the younger kids really liked this part.



5.  The corn maze! There is a child size maze and then a bigger one.  We did both and it was probably the kids' favourite part.  I'm glad Gary is around for these things – my sense of direction is terrible.



6.  Picking apples!  It's so good for kids to actually see where their food comes from and be part of the process in bringing it home.  They also have a store with a lot of sweet treats!



There is a special on currently (free adult with child ticket after 2:30 pm) or you can pay the family rate of $28.50 which includes 2 adults and 2+ kids anytime (awesome for those bigger families--like ours!)

Starting September 1st it's open seven days a week from 9:00 am -5:30 pm.  If you would like a chance to win a family pass to the AppleBarn, please enter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love,
Louise

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thankful Thursday



This week I am thankful for:

1. Sleep.  We are getting more.  Usually all the kids are asleep by 8:30 pm and then up just before 6 am.  I'll take it!  There are still wake ups throughout the night BUT someone is able to put themselves back to sleep now.  The final big step is to get Gary to do the full bedtime routine for the Little One.  I have my final 53 hours of foster parent training starting in 2 weeks so Gary will need to put them all to bed two nights a week for 2 months (I've only done this once myself as the Little One takes 1-2 hours alone..fortunately Nya is just 5 minutes and the boys should be able to put themselves to bed on those nights.)

2. The power of a sweet smile.  I brought Miss Nya with me to bring our Little One to visit with birth mom.  Birth mom SMILED at us both and HUGGED her TWICE.  What?! What?!  That's all it took?! I feel like we were friends bonding over our sweet kids. Obviously she's coming every time now.


3.  My little introvert.  I've really realized how much he savours and NEEDS his down time.  He'll often say "I'm going to go cuddle with my friends."  His "friends" are all of his stuffed animals and he will cuddle with them in bed for about an hour a day.


4,  A new car seat for our Little One.  My sister had one for us--saved us $100+.  Yay for sisters and saving money.

5.  More great meals. I should take pictures of all of them.  This was a homemade pretzel bun with pulled pork and coleslaw (by Gary of course.)  Totally not on our low sugar plan (yikes--the bread and sauce) but I tried to fill up on the coleslaw and pulled pork :)


6.  Books.  I love having time to read right now.  I just finished "The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" (6.5/10) and am now reading "All the Light We Cannot See".  Oh, and my friend who lent me the latest book also gave me a treat along with it.  Thanks, L.



7.  Netflix.  Gary and I watched "The 100 Year Old Man Who Walked Out the Window and Disappeared." I read the book last year so it was nice to watch this quirky movie together. PS How did we not get Netflix sooner?!


8. Hands-on nerdy activities.  Kai got a volcano kit for his birthday so they built it, painted it, and then did the chemical reaction.  They loved it :)  


9.  Health.  Dare I say we are all healthy?  When you add an additional young one to your family, it seems like the chance that someone will be sick increases dramatically!  

10.  Date with Nya.  I'm not very good at one-on-one dates with my kids; it's usually all or none.  They actually prefer to be all together which makes it tougher to get them alone.  Nya has been missing her role of being my little side-kick as I've had another child very attached to me so we had a really nice date this week.  We went shopping for birthday presents (I even let her pick a new preschool outfit since 3/4's of her clothes are second hand), we got ice cream, and we visited the Disney Store at Guildford Mall.  Oh, and we rode the escalator 4 times in a row just because.  Then, we finished it with a visit to the playground.  It was perfect.  You should see her, she just lives her life in exclamation marks and I love it.  So, so sweet.  I look forward to the routine of September where I can have more time with my little Nya Bear.  


I hope you are having a good week!  Gary is back to work next week so it should be "interesting" around here :)  Please let me know one of your thankful items of the week (and if you don't want to do that, I'd love a Netflix movie suggestion!)

Love,
Louise

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back To School

Yup, I'm going there with the "Back To School" talk.  Our kids are sooooo ready to go back and I'm thankful that they love it so much.  Nya feels like she has been waiting for forever to go to preschool so I am excited for her to finally go-- I know she will love it there.  Did I mention that I'm ready for them to go?  As much as I enjoy family time, I do appreciate days where we're not all in the same space all day. 

I took a few photos of the kids because although I will take some on the morning of school, it's guaranteed to be a bit stressful so I'd rather make sure I got a few under calmer conditions. 




These three kids are pretty awesome and I'm very thankful for them. And school.  Do you take back-to-school photos of your kids?  I would recommend it, especially if you're having a harder time with them returning, it's a great way to help process it.

Have a great last few weeks of summer!

Love,
Louise

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Being a Mom of Boys

When we were pregnant with our first child and found out it was a boy, I cried.  I mean, pregnancy hormones made me cry about almost anything anyway, but I was afraid.  I am the oldest of five girls and I didn't know if I had what it took to raise a boy.  Sure, I had male cousins around me growing up and babysat boys, but other than that--was I equipped?  I didn't even like watching Star Wars!

Over the years, I have come to really love having sons (ages six and nine now.) More than that, I feel like I was made to be a mom of boys.  They are wildly energetic, enthusiastic, and open to almost all physical activity.  I've gotten comfortable with their sense of humour (note that I didn't say I find it funny) and have learned about a whole new world that involves everything from Transformers to excavators to the Argentinosauraus.

Their zest for meal time does not go unnoticed.  My six-year-old's one request for lunch the other day was "I'd love anything except for a brie, mushroom and avocado sandwich."  I think I can manage that.  Our food bill will never be small, especially with one child known as "The Garburator", but I enjoy seeing them devour everything on their plate.

Their love for sports statistics makes me smile as does their easy-going nature in regards to what they wear; can they run, climb and jump in it with ease? Yes? Then it's all good.  Although I love their eager and rough-and-tumble selves, I am so thankful for their sensitive side, too.  They like their cuddles with mom on the couch.  They will often hold my hand on a family walk.  A wrestling cuddling combination with their dad is a daily occurrence.  Around the dinner table they enjoy talking about their highs and lows.  My favourite part?  Seeing their sweet side with one another and their little sister.

This morning my nine-year-old said, "Mom, can I make waffles with Nya?"  Yes, he knows how to make waffles, and yes, he wants to include his little sister.  When I pointed out it was just 10 am, he said, "Well, I can make them and put them in the freezer for you for later."  Helpful. Thoughtful.


Just an hour later (after I secretly snacked on a chocolate chip waffle bound for the freezer) they were playing "The Friend Train" together. Creative. Sweet. Inclusive.


To any parents who are overwhelmed with the cars, Lego's, and hockey sticks strewn around their house--I hear you.  To those that are tired of the fart jokes, holes in jeans, and smelly running shoes--I get it.  Just know that these special little guys will start turning into men right in front of your eyes.  You know what I think about that?  It's pretty sweet...and a bit smelly.

To parents of a boy or two or three: What has been your favourite part of having boys?

Love,
Louise

Monday, August 24, 2015

Redwood Park | Surrey, B.C.

If you're looking for a gorgeous park to visit in Surrey--this is definitely a good one!  Located just west of 184th on 20th in South Surrey, Redwood Park has a great playground for a variety of ages and beautiful trails to walk through.  There are also fairy doors and hundreds of little fairy houses.  It's very picturesque and also has covered picnic tables which makes it great for parties and groups.

We like to go here about once a month and each season boasts it's own beauty; you should definitely see it with all the autumn leaves!

If you want to find the fairy village, just follow the path from the parking lot to the giant tree house;  it's a five minute walk.  From there, continue to the right behind the tree house to find all the houses and fairy doors.









As you loop back towards the parking lot, there are bathrooms (flush toilets and a change table!) and a great playground--watch out, the slide is a fast one!




There is also story time in the tree house, just check the schedule here.  Happy exploring, friends!

Love,
Louise

Pin it here for later! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Rugged Maniac 2015

This past weekend I did the Rugged Maniac 5 km Obstacle Course in Surrey.  It was really fun and empowering; I'm stronger than I thought!  There are 25 obstacles along the way such as jumping over trenches, climbing cargo nets, and crawling under barbed wire in the mud.  You can skip any obstacle that you feel you can't do--you just run right by it.  I did it with three other girls/ladies/women (what are we?!) and I would definitely do it again!  

I love that it was local (Cloverdale!) and affordable and just 5 km.  Win. Win. Win.

Here are some of the photos:




{What goes up, must come down. I'm sooooo afraid of heights!}


Can't wait to do it again next year!

Love,
Louise

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thankful Thursday



This week I am thankful for:

1.  A fun time at the Rugged Maniac 5km Obstacle Course. I did it with other women from church and we didn't take it too seriously.  I was totally surprised that I was able to do most of the obstacles--even the huge warp wall at the end! I totally felt like I was on Survivor.  You can see some of the obstacles here; I loved the Trenches, Quad Burners and anything with cargo nets. I was able to complete 22/25 obstacles (couldn't do the Rings, Balance or Bust, or Napolean Complex) in under an hour.


2.  My birthday meal.  I love that Gary makes it each year :)


3.  Bike rides.  Gary and I took the Little One biking along the dike in Maple Ridge while our kids were in summer camp for the morning. It was beautiful and it felt so good to be active!


4.  A visit with grandma.  Gary was able to go out to Chilliwack to see his grandma as she's getting quite old.  I'm glad it worked for him to go.  Can I add that I put all 4 kids to bed on my own for the first time? High-five, self!


5.  THREE WEEKS OFF!!  We purposely left August free from weddings in order to enjoy some of our summer holidays. We'll have another three in September, but for now, so enjoying my "free" time (aka "just" parenting.)


6. A hike with the kids.  We only had three kids on this hike so it was nice for me to be able to focus a little more attention on my kiddos.

7.  An awesome meal this week; I should've taken a picture but trust me it was AWESOME.  Chicken Schnitzel from Vij's cookbook.   Love my husband and love schnitzel!!

8. A family walk through Green Timbers Urban Forest.  This is the first summer that we've spent so much time at home.  It's definitely a different sort of summer but it's nice to just enjoy our own "backyard" and save some money.  Don't get me wrong--I can't wait to travel more!  We've got a lot of ideas but will likely just go as our family of five to make it more relaxing.


9. A husband that likes to kiss me. It feels good to be desired by him.  Too much info? 


10.  Playdough.  Nya has an ice cream play dough set that she's played with over the last year.  The colours are all mixed together (Koen!!) but she still really enjoys it!


Well, that's it for today!  As always, please let me know what YOU are thankful for! You guys haven't been commenting as much lately.  Ahem.

Love, 
Louise