First Day Words

Susan chose our Saturday adventure this weekend.  We headed over to “Plaster Fun time” to paint some plaster.  The Sharpteam had never had this experience, so it was fun for Susan to share something she liked to do with us, and we loved joining her.

Everything else for her has been new . . .

She is a real trooper.  She has walked into every situation with open hands, ready to see what it holds, and I am deeply proud of her, because it is all new for her.

 

And as we head into this week I am seeking out the help of our family and friends . . .

Susan is changing schools this week.

She is 13, in seventh grade and in the middle of the school year, in the middle of the week, she will be starting at a new school.

She is open to it, but I imagine there are going to be some hard moments in that first day.

So here is my plan.  I am asking YOU for words.

I would so love to be able to print out 20-30 comments from this post and send her to school with encouragement from people who are loving her and supporting her . . . people she doesn’t even know.

So PLEASE, step into the adventure with us, with Susan . . . what encouragement do you have to a 13 year old girl on her first day at a new school . . .

 

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She's Here . . .

 

It was quite a morning.

Andrew was sick, really sick.  And we were socked in, there was an additional foot of fresh snow.  We would have to shovel ourselves out,  and there was no way for anyone to get in.

We talked with the Department of Children and Families and they did not know when Susan might be coming to us.  She was in court.

She was in court all day.

She did not come to us until almost 5:00.

Luckily by that time Andrew was feeling better, the plow guy had plowed us out, and my amazing husband shoveled a path to our door.

It was a first for us in many ways.  This is our first time having a teen in our new home.  It is our first time having a long-term placement.  And it is our first time having a teen and a baby at the same time.

It was a first for Susan too, it is her first time in a foster home.

We do our best to recognize that this day has already been a difficult day for our guest . . . we have found that most often they want time alone before they want to answer any questions or get to know us.  Susan was no different.  She was so relieved when I asked her if she wanted to take some time to unpack.

She is shy, but not so shy that she didn’t ask for what she most wanted . . . to be able to call her friends . . . and to use a computer to chat with her friends.

 

Oh thirteen, I remember you well.

She did have dinner with us.  She did not eat her vegetables.  I let it go.  She has had a horrendous day.

She did sit down to some family time with us and she was great.  She was slow to ask for anything, but she did finally ask for chocolate.  I showed her our stash.  She took a handful of chocolates to her room.

No vegetables, chocolates, unlimited phone and computer.  We may be looking like the worst parents ever.

But for today, for today she gets to take care of herself in ways that make her feel ok, at thirteen.

And when I did visit with her in her room she had a journal out and she had been writing in it.

I am so grateful.

We are going to be ok.

Preparing for an Emergency: Automobile Edition

winter Emergency Checklist

After getting our home emergency bin set, we started on the emergency bin for the car. Many of the same pieces found their way into the bin, but we added a few auto specific items. We included the first aid kit, bottled water, a variety of non-perishable foods and a blanket.

Auto Emergency Bin

We put the Life Hammer into both cars in the event of an emergency where we are stuck in the car. It has a blade to easily cut a seatbelt as well as a mini hammer to break a car window. The fashionably orange color is so it can be found easily underwater.

Life hammer

We got this great mini crank flashlight from LL Bean that is small enough to fit in the glove compartment.

crank flashlight

Finally we made sure to have jumper cables, an ice scraper and some sand for those snowy days.

Jumper Cables

We put our emergency bins in both cars and feel more prepared for whatever may happen.

Preparing for an Emergency: Home Edition

winter Emergency Checklist

We are trying to be prepared. At the beginning of the year we started brainstorming and researching what should be included in a home emergency kit. Liza posted on our firebox yesterday and today we share our home emergency kit.

Living in New England, there is a good chance the power will go out in the winter time. We wanted to be sure we were prepared for when this happens.

We purchased a crank lantern and combo flashlight/radio from L.L. Bean and have already put them to good use.

Crank lantern and flashlight radio

We then wanted to be sure we had first aid supplies in case there was an accident. We picked up this first aid kit at CVS.

First Aid Kit

We made sure to include a variety of non perishable items ranging from meats to grains to fruits and vegetables. And of course we remembered to include a can opener.

Non Perishable Food

We then packed everything into a bin so that it is ready when we need it. We have extra water and gatorade in the basement along with blankets and various foods and necessities. And for winter time we are well stocked with wood for the fireplace to keep us warm.

Home Emergency Bin

That is our emergency bin. We are continuing to keep our eyes open for other things that would be helpful, the whole house generator would be nice, but that will have to wait for the time being. What about you, what are essential items you would want for an emergency?

New Foster Child

Tonight Susan is at a group home.  Tomorrow she will join our family indefinitely.

Andrew and I began doing foster care almost three years ago.  We agreed that doing Emergency and Short-term care was the best fit for us in our condo.

Today is the first time we have really considered fostering long term.

The call came unexpectedly.  I was tutoring.  Andrew skyped me.  And typing out our words to one another in between students we decided that this would be a good fit for us and that we were open to the placement.

Susan is thirteen.

Thirteen was the absolute hardest age for me.

I cannot imagine being Susan.

Most children that have come to be with us (with the exception of two) have come to us because of choices the adults in their lives have made.  Susan is similar.

We started this blog to connect with our family and friends about foster care, so tonight we ask you to pray.  Please pray for Susan, as she has so many transitions before her.  Pray for her as she comes to live with us.  Pray for us that we will be an encouragement and support to her.  And pray for our little guy, that this would be a blessing to him and that he would be a blessing as well.

We will keep you posted.

Open Hands.

Preparing for What Might be Around the Corner

 

 

I have worked with youth for over two decades now.  I planned retreats, missions trips, events.  I have lived and worked with students, and I always tried to plan for worst case scenarios.  I hated thinking about what could happen, but it was always my goal to be prepared for a crisis.

I taught a course on Spiritual Disciplines with Development Associates International.  I had practiced all the disciplines but one . . . I had worked on prayer and meditation, service and solitude, but the final discipline surprised me . . . preparing for adversity and crisis.  It is a discipline that is not appealing, but one that, little by little, Andrew and I are choosing to face.

One of our “words” is foundations. This word has multiple meanings to us, one of them is that we want to be sure that we pay attention to preparing for security in the day to day and in crisis.  So this week we thought we would highlight a couple of those steps that we are taking.

 

This picture is of Andrew’s parent’s home in 2007.  It was taken by a bystander and appeared in the local paper.  The source of the house fire is undetermined.  What a reminder to us that any day everything can change.  We are so grateful that Andrew’s parents were not home and were both safe. Today the home is in even better condition than it was before the fire.  We are grateful.

One little goal this inspired was that we would purchase a firebox, a little fire and water resistant box to keep important documents that we would want to be safe in case of fire.  We did some research online and thought about a safety deposit box, but decided that a fire safe would be best for us.

 

Two reasons that a fire safe seemed like a wise investment:  it is a one time purchase and because, unlike a safety deposit box, it is more accessible.  If someone dies a safety deposit box may be sealed for weeks.

Here are things that we considered putting in our fire safe box:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificate
  • Passports
  • Social Security Cards
  • Copy of health information
  • College degrees and Certificates
  • Wills
  • Insurance

Other Suggested Items

  • Stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit.
  • Original deeds to property and vehicles.
  • Rare jewels or family jewelry.
  • A list of bank and credit card account numbers
  • Copies of prescriptions for life-supporting medications
  • Spare keys to your car
  • Videotape/DVD/thumb drive inventory of house.
  • Receipts for big-ticket items like furnishings

 

We now have a fire proof safe.  Our prayer is that we don’t need it.  But we are choosing to prepare together for what might be around the corner.  It helps us feel like our foundation is a little more secure.