Monday, December 22, 2008


We got a call today that our background checks have cleared! Our homestudy is set for January 7th. They'll take a look at our house and interview us together and seperately. About two weeks later, we should be fully licensed. Then we just meet with a placement specialist and the adoption committee, and we'll finally get our placements. Yeeeeeee!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Project Update

As promised, a whole lotta pictures and project updates.

The story about the changing table:
I bought a used changing table online for $5. It didn't have the original screws and was a bit beat up, but I figured all of that could be easily fixed. I spent one evening fixing up the paint.

The next day, Fritz ran to Lowes for screws while I made lunch. Unfortunately, they were the wrong size. We went back to exchange them. Came home, and they were still the wrong size. I was too embarrassed to go back to Lowes again, so we ran to Home Depot.

Yes, you see where this is going, they still didn't fit. We decided to drill out the holes bigger. They were lined with metal screw holders (that's as technical as I can get - I have no clue what they're called), but Fritz said he could drill through them. He started drilling, and the wood started splitting. Even worse, when he pulled the drill out, the metal screw holder came too.

"Fine," we said, "We'll pull them all out and use dowel pins to hold the thing together." Pulling out the other screw holders split the wood all over the place. We figured we could fix it with wood glue and clamps, though. The next day, we bought dowel pins (this time in two sizes). Fritz had to go in to work early, but I was eager to start.

I grabbed the smaller of the dowel pins, and they were too big. Too. Big. So I ran over to Lowes to get the only size smaller. Of course, they were too small to fit snugly. I decided to drill the holes out again to fit the larger dowel pins. The wood split a bit more, but it eventually worked... kind of. See, the dowel pins still weren't holding the table together securely. I decided to shelve it for the night and wait for Fritz. I may have thrown something.

The next day, Fritz tried to nail the outside edges together for a bit more stability. Of course, the nails we had were too weak to go all the way through. They split the wood some more, too. My patient saint of a husband ran back over to Lowes for better nails.

He finally got the darned thing together. (After we wrestled with the shelves for a few hours.) I gave it another coat of paint and gloss.

And we were finished! I was so excited, I insisted we bring it in right away. There was a moment of panic as we wondered whether it'd fit through the door. Thankfully, it did. So we were able to sleep with paint fumes that night.

The changing pad was pretty gross, so I sewed a cover for it with some beautiful fabric I found on the dollar table at Wal-Mart. (Actually, I sewed one with fabric I already had, but the color clashed horribly, so I had to sew a second one... because nothing about this project could be easy.)

Anyway, here it is. Our wretched changing table that ended up looking pretty great for $8.50 and some serious elbow grease:


The story about the rocker:
We bought a glider and ottoman from Craigslist for just $15. It was in good shape, but the upholstery was gag-worthily ugly. We found some awesome fabric on sale at JoAnn's for $7/yd. My grandma recovered it for us and did an absolutely beautiful job. Basically brand new custom glider and ottoman for $30 all said. Bam! It's right across from Fritz's computer desk, so it's already getting some use as I keep him company while he plays Texas Hold 'em.


I had a few of the picture frames my mom gave me left over, so I painted them with an old can of orange spray paint I had laying around, then created simple collages out of scrap fabric. I hung them in the window seat in the nursery. Free wall-art. Fun!


Finally, some photos of my little sister and her pup, Tippi. This is how the silly dog sleeps all the time.

Bums is the comfiest pillows.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Long-Overdue (Long) Update

Just a quick note to mention that if you're looking only for faults or offenses here, you'll be sure to find them. I'm just human.

I know it's been a while between updates. We've had a crazy month. Or couple of months. You'll forgive me if this entry's all over the place. So is my mind.

We had another loss at the end of October. My doctor thinks he's found the problem, though, and has put me on some hormone therapy. The pills are pretty yuck. I take one round for a week, then a week later switch to another round for a month.

The first set puts me under a bone-wearying exhaustion. I just want to sleep and sleep.

The second set continues with the exhaustion kick, but adds a whole slew of unpleasant symptoms to the mix.

Needless to say, not much has gotten done lately. I've realized, though, that I'm so blessed to be in the place I am while I'm going through this therapy.

This summer, Fritz and I prayed a lot regarding my work situation. We just kept coming back to the feeling that I shouldn't be working right then. I like to work just fine. I like being busy, I like the company of the children, and I like the money. I kind of resisted it a few times. But everything just kept leading us back to a no. So we followed that prompting.

Then we found out to foster in Utah, you need to have one non-working parent. At first, foster care was just sort of a lark for us. However, as we learned more about the truly horrific situations these dear children are in, and just how much intensive therapy and constant attention they need from their foster parents, we realized that this was a very serious decision we needed to make. Again, we prayed hard - for weeks.

In the end we decided that this was a cause we were both willing to sacrifice anything for and dedicate all of our attention to. We began to have a bit of realization why I might need to be home.

Then the licensing took so long. It was really discouraging. But it turned out, again, to be a blessing. Because we decided that we'd foster any child that it would be safe for us to care for, we needed to have our home ready to receive a 10 year old boy, a 4 year old girl, 2 infants... whatever. We're very frugal people, so we got right to work preparing. Being able to spread the cost out over many months was great, and being able to wait around for killer deals was even greater. We literally saved hundreds of dollars because of this hold-up.

And then there's these darned pills. As hard as it's been for me to be so sick, to watch the household chores that I take such pride in slip, to rely on my husband so heavily for food and moral support, it's been a thousand times easier than it would have been had our foster placements already been with us, or had we the burden of relying on my income.

Those little nagging feelings way back this summer that we chose to listen to have already returned blessings to us in spades.

We've received a lot of support in these decisions we've made. Lots of emails from you, my friends, offering encouragement and love, and lots of kind words from other friends and family and Fritz's co-workers.

The negative responses we've had have been few, though they stung. It sickened us to hear people say that these decisions we've prayed so fervently over, that we've stayed up long nights talking through, that we felt so spiritually enriched by, were selfish or inopportune. How could our sacrificing so much to obey what we believe to be our Father's will be construed as selfish? Because it's not the decision others would have made for us? But that's the thing about life. We're all individuals just trying our best to make the right choices for ourselves. When we start trying to take charge over lives not in our jurisdiction, nobody is benefited.

We try to explain why we choose to do the things we do, but when occasionally people are determined to believe the worst, you just have to move on.

So yeah, in a few ways it's been a rough month, but it's also been one full of insight regarding how much we've been blessed. It's brought Fritz and myself to a higher level of trust and admiration, to rely on each other so heavily for both practical and emotional needs. My mom comments each time she calls and hears what we're up to - Scrabble tournaments and Psych marathons and kitchen experiments and window-shopping at Wal-Mart - how happy we seem to be to spend time together. And we are. We're really very fortunate to have grown ever closer during the hard times, to find so much good in them.

Anyway, I had a week's gap between pills just now, so I've been trying to prepare for this next round. It bugged me so bad when I was sick to keep seeing these things that needed to be done and not have the strength to do them. I'm trying to get everything back in order and get a few meals frozen so that when these next pills kick in in a few days, I can just rest and not keep worrying that our house is going to fall apart.

This was a boring entry, but I got so many worried emails and comments (honestly, you embarrass me, I had no clue so many people read this silly thing) that I wanted to get everyone up to speed.

I promise the next one will be more fun. I'll show you the changing table we bought and refinished all for $8, and if you're lucky, I'll get off my bum and take some pictures of our Christmas decorations. Oh, and the potato chips Fritz made in our deep fryer. Good times.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Ashley tagged me for the Quirks game.

Link the person who tagged you.
Mention rules on your blog.
Tell about 6 quirks of yours.
Tag 6 fellow bloggers to do the same.
Leave a comment to let them know.

Now, a caveat. I have been known among my family and friends for the majority of my life as "The Quirkiest Person on Earth" ™. But as I sat here pondering my list of six, I couldn’t come up with a single quirk. Had I finally done it? Had I become one of... them? One of "The Normal Ones"? Didn't seem likely. So I called my mom and shared my little sitch with her. Then I waited until her giggles had subsided.

She rattled off about 10-15 quirks immediately, though I had a very good explanation for most of them.

Yes, I use two different dish cloths and have specific rules for which one is used where and how much water each one can handle... but that's because they've got different absorbencies! You can't water-log the one or it won't dry properly, then it'll breed bacteria and smell!

Given, I do have an opinion on every subject I've ever encountered, but that's not a quirk! That's just, you know, personality.

Agreed, I'm pretty neurotic about my closet organization system (by type, length, style, color, shade, then preference), but a lot of people are like that. It's what we like to call "detail oriented." Or "neat freak." Your choice. And plenty of people have a specific color order in place. (Mine's pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, white, grey, black.) And I'm positive I'm not the only person who likes to make sure her hangers are equidistant and straight.

And true, I do have an incredibly strange sleep schedule, but , well, ok... she did have me there.

So, the following are what my mom, sister, grandma, and husband have deemed my quirks. (But I do have a really good reason for most of them...)

1) I pace obsessively when I'm on the phone, and I have a specific route that I tend to take around the house. If it's a short phone call, I'll usually walk around the kitchen. We have tiles that randomly run two different directions, and I have a path that lets me walk only on ones facing a certain way. I have two longer paths: one for nighttime that takes me through the kitchen/family room/entry, and one for daytime that takes me through the kitchen/entry/hall/playroom (I don’t go into the playroom at night). I don’t consciously walk these tracks, but I can't seem to stop myself. There have even been times when I've been so exhausted that I make an effort to sit through a call, but before I notice it happening, I'm up and walking again.

Once, when we were still living in the apartment, the baby was playing with an old cell phone and took it into the kitchen to pace around the table and babble into it. The older kids used to think it was hilarious to follow me around and around the house while I was on the phone.

2) I like most every food to be served at room-temperature, or straight from the fridge. I can't really think of any food I prefer hot. I'll usually wait 15-20 minutes for any meal to cool before partaking. For dinner (which I usually eat alone), I like to take it out of the oven/microwave/stove, then go take a shower and eat it once I get out.

I also have a really underdeveloped sense of taste. I can't stomach foods that are even slightly bland, because they taste like absolutely nothing to me. I add condiments to everything. We've got a good stock: Tabasco, soy sauce, Worcestershire, A1, teriyaki, Balsamic vinaigrette, barbecue (in many different flavours), mustards, dressings, marinades, spices, and herbs out the yin yang.

I eat curry and peppers and Wasabi without blinking. Made for a lot of fun middle-school dares.

3) I get kind of skittish when Fritz isn't home at night. I sing Primary and Disney songs in the shower, so I don’t get spooked. I close all of the blinds at dusk, because it creeps me out to think someone can see in my house while I can't see out. I've been known to say a prayer for courage when I have to go out to the kitchen past 3 am. Probably about once a month, I call my mom to sit on the phone with me while I investigate a mystery noise. I sometimes sleep with my bedside light on.

The stupid thing is, I'm not so much afraid of anything in particular, as I am afraid of becoming afraid.

You'd never know I happily lived alone for years, would you?

4) I'm petrified of having dirty feet. I don’t go outside, even to step two feet out the door to check the clothes on the line, without shoes. I wash the insides of my shoes frequently so that any dirt that might have found its way in them doesn’t make it back to my feet. Basically the only reason I mop or vacuum is to prevent dust from settling and being picked up when I walk. I wash my feet a lot throughout the day. This used to be difficult when I worked outside the home, as I'd have to frequently escape to the bathroom so I could attack them with baby wipes.

You'd think I would just wear socks to prevent contaminants from ever reach my blessed peds, yeah? However, my feet are also super claustrophobic. I can't stand to have anything touching the tops of them for extended periods of time. When I have to go someplace where flip flops aren't acceptable, I have to keep slipping my shoes on and off to calm myself down. I don’t know what I'd do if I ever broke a bone and required a cast on my foot.

5) I have a bit of an affinity for anything old. No, I don’t mean I hang out at the senior center trying to pick up hot dates; I just like things that remind me of times past. I see such a beauty in historical relics and stories.

It blows my mind to hold books or teacups or fountain pens or empty spice containers that have managed to survive decades of humans' "disposable" attitudes.

I bought an old sewing pattern a while back that had been in a trunk since at least the mid-sixties. When I opened the pattern, the pieces were still held together with some straight pins. I was ecstatic! I own these silly little straight pins that most likely have been sitting around since my mother was a small child. That's just so many colors of awesome.

I watch old movies and documentaries with an eye keen to pick out and understand every detail of those lives. Clothing, technology, phrasing, conventions, fads, ideals...

It sort of bugs me that we as a people tend to cast off any older conventions as outdated and obsolete. We live in a pretty great time thanks to innumerable ideological, medical, technological, and intellectual advancements. We've risen above some pretty horrible things. However, there are a lot of great elements from past times that have gotten thrown out with the bath water, I think.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could accept that, yes, every era has had its own unique set of issues, and that, as Thomas Carlyle said, "No age seemed the age of romance to itself," but that it just might be possible that we've forgotten some things that are worth reviving?

6) I have an unnatural fixation with things that are just a little offbeat and strange and unusual. I relish purple daisies and three-toed sloths and names like Elspeth and Caspian. I love unconventional beauty and Surrealist painters and the aurora borealis. Unintentional irony and macabre humour. I adore the idea that someone would dedicate their life's work to the largest ball of twine or collecting toothpaste bottles from different countries. Music or writings that make you go, "My gosh, how is it even possible that someone came up with that?" Real undiscovered genius. Sasquatch and tadpoles and 70 degree angles. Curiosities and Coppélia and kitsch. I want to live in a treehouse and visit Iceland.

I truly and honestly don’t understand the beige-walled, French-tipped, bourgeois mentality. I lived with it and worked in it and saw it up close for five years, and I still just don’t get it.

I tag Fritz and Jaymz. (Yes, I'm breaking the rules. Another quirk: I'm incapable of following rules.)

I finished the nursery monkeys, and we hung them up today. I'm so incredibly happy with them. I did have a few issues when making them, though. Tips for those ever attempting something similar:

1) Cut the fabric much larger than you think you'll need. I cut about 2" larger than the base on the first monkey, but it was still a bit too small, and I had horribly cramped fingers by the end of that one from trying to hold and stretch and attach such a little strip of fabric.

2) Cut the batting the same size as your base. I initially cut it larger, but it was too hard to wrap it around and attach it to the back. Just use Elmer's glue to attach it to the front.

3) I used regular staples, and they seem to be holding fine. Just make sure they're good quality. The first ones I tried were from the dollar store and kept bending when I tried to get them in. I switched to some I had from Target, and they slid in easy as pie and held tight.

4) If you want your monkeys to interlock, make them all facing the same direction. I stupidly did half facing the opposite direction, thinking they'd need to be that way to attach. No, dummy. They're made with one arm facing up and one facing down so that you don't have to do that. Luckily, I caught my mistake before I hit the fabric stage. I just had to cut the batting off the front.


Monday, September 29, 2008

More fun than a...

We've finally got the playroom completely finished! Yay. We put up the hanging hamper and did the touch-up painting today.

It's kinda slouchy from being folded up, but it'll straighten up over time.

We also painted the nursery and put up the Ikea gems we picked up this weekend. As it stands, the nursery is perfectly habitable. I'd just like to get the wall art made and recover the glider before I can call it truly "done." I should wait until it's finished, but I can't resist sharing a few pictures now.

Awesome tangerine walls.

The hanging unit for diaper storage.

The best view I could get of the leaf canopy. It's hanging off-center, because the glider will go next to the crib (the saucer's sitting there as a place-holder) when it's finished.

Bad lighting, but this shows the rest of the room. The blue hanging unit is for laundry. The baskets hold hats, socks, and bibs.

In a previous post, I mentioned making wall art from foam board wrapped in batting and fabric. I had been planning on doing two large animal shapes, but I've decided instead to do 8 Barrel of Monkeys figures. I thought it'd be cute to have them sort of linked up running atop the windows, around the corner, and over the closet. A picture of a Barrel of Monkeys shape, in case you had a sad monkeyless childhood:

So, that's that for now. Can't put off the ironing any longer, I guess. Bleh.

Oh, I did want to also show off the play mat we got at Ikea. I was waffling at the store, but Fritz talked me into it. I'm glad he did. It really was a good deal, and it's just too cute.

And it folds up so easily!

Ok, that's really it now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Halfway Trained Monkey

We had our first 4 foster classes this weekend, and they really gave us a lot to chew on. It was pretty heavy, to be honest.

I did my homework in advance. I talked to current and former foster parents and social workers. I read a lot of books and did hours of internet research. I heard about the stories and pictures and videos that would be shown in the classes. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I felt prepared.

I don’t think anything can really prepare you for that reality, though. Though the things covered weren't all that much more shocking than things we were taught in high school and college classes, I think the difference was that I was seeing them for the first time with the eyes of someone who would soon be entrusted with the care and healing of these little ones.

It was, I don’t know. Traumatic, I guess. Scary. Just a lot to process at once. The thing is, Fritz and I both walked out of there feeling like this is one of the toughest things we'll ever do, but it never entered either of our minds not to go ahead. If anything, I think we're more motivated.

Something that the social worker hadn't really mentioned when she visited us was the level of involvement we'd have with the birth parents. She told us about transporting to visits, but that doesn’t begin to cover our duties.

Every month the foster parents, birth parents, case worker, and "support team" (the family's neighbors, clergy, therapists, school teachers, etc) meet to discuss the progression of the case*, what sort of support the parents may need, and additional things they could do that might help them get to the place they need to be. We also discuss any issues that the child may be having. It's the foster parent's job to both advocate for the child and support the birth parents.

*When the children are first removed from the home, the birth parents are given a plan made out by the social worker of things they need to do in order to have the children returned. Most plans take about 15 months to complete.

Foster parents might also be asked to "peer parent," and even supervise visits with the birth parents.

It's definitely breaking me out of my comfort zone. In a strange way, it was a bit of a relief to hear. So far, everyone who's heard we're pursuing foster care has told me how good and selfless I am for doing it. And I felt really guilty about that, because I didn’t feel like I was doing it to be charitable, really. It just felt like something I wanted to do. I feel really lonely and purposeless without the kids, and foster care just felt right.

The involvement with the birth parents, though, that's going to be difficult for me. I typically avoid dealing with people I don’t know well. Phone calls send me into a cold sweat. I very seldom leave the house without Fritz. This is ensuring I will be doing all of these things on a very regular basis. But as much as these kids need help, some parents do as well.

Helping these parents better themselves for their children's sake is something I don’t have to do for my own fulfillment. There are a hundred different ways I could have children in my life without having to work with troubled adults in the process. So maybe this is the way that I can accept the kind comments on our doing this, and not feel so undeserving.

Am I making any sense? I don’t feel like I am.

Anyway, on a more superficial note, man were those classes long! Friday night was 6 hours with a half hour break for dinner. Saturday was another 6 hours with a one hour break for lunch. This after sitting for 3 ½ hours in the car to get there. Needless to say, the tush was sore.

Our hotel was an hour away from the class site, so we didn’t get a heck of a lot of sleep in between. (And of course, I stayed up longer than reasonable to fill out all of the paperwork we'd been given, because I'm a masochist.)

Our trainer is the most tiresome man on the planet. He seems to feel the need to speak at a pace of one word per millennia, and then repeats every sentence six different ways. Every time someone asks a question, he tells us either a) "That's going to be on a case-by-case basis, ask your case worker," or b) "I'll be getting to that in a minute." Which of course he never does.

I just took to writing down all of my questions to call someone who actually knows.

I also found a lot of conflicting information. For example, our social worker told us everything that says "keep out of reach of children" needs to be kept under lock and key. "Even soaps and shampoos?" I asked. "Even soaps and shampoos," she confirmed.

Then we were given a paper at training that repeated the "keep out of reach of children" rule, but said point blank "Soaps and shampoos don’t need to be locked."

So I'm going to try to call the licensing office, I guess.

If that is the case, does that mean I can keep my toothpaste out, too? What about dish soap? Is lotion similar enough to soap and shampoo to be left out?


I also find it a little silly that we're locking up white-out and hair gel, but it's totally ok to leave knives and scissors out. Seriously? A small child can do a lot more damage with a sharp instrument than they can drinking some Pantene. And it seems to me that an older child or teenager would be much more likely to go for a knife than a bottle of nail polish if wanting to be destructive to property or themselves.

Ah, well. We'll do what they’ve asked of us, and then just use our best judgement on any other matters.

So yeah, one more weekend's worth of classes, and we're done with the training. Yay!

So I joined the crowd and made a Face Your Manga me. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I finished my dress today. I'm really happy with how it turned out. It still needs to be pressed, but here are a few sneak peeks: (ignore the big fat crease down the center that needs to be pressed out and the yuck end-of-the-day hair)

The pattern called for a bow to be sewn right in front, but I decided to make a belt instead. I like belts. They cut my abnormally long lines in half and add some horizontal interest. Also, I hate bows.

The dress was made from a 1960s Simplicity pattern I found on I used some awesome Japanese import fabric I got at (of all places) JoAnn's. I had fallen in love with the fabric online some time ago, but couldn't stomach $12/yd. I was crazy excited to find it at JoAnn's. I used a 40% off coupon for the first 3 yards, and I got 3/4 of a yard for 75% off, because it was the end of the bolt. Now I have all of these yummy left-overs for bibs.

The pattern had optional sleeves, but they were ugly, so I went with the sleeveless version. A pretty crocheted shrug I had works just fine, I think.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beware: thar be (clean) diaper pictures ahead

I first have to share a bit of my father's insanity before I begin this entry.

Backstory: My mom mailed me some fabric swatches as ideas to reupholster a rocker I bought on Craigslist ($20, baby, for the rocker and footstool). Apparently my dad got hold of the envelope before it hit the mailbox and decided to send a message along to my husband. Behold:

(It says, "What up [Fritz]... For Shizzal... Mo Dizzal...")

So, the past couple of days I've been working on diaper covers. I have a pattern for an AIO diaper* that I altered to be a cover** for prefolds***. I managed to make six with some scrap cotton facings before I squeezed the last bit of life out of my yard of PUL****. I ordered some more online so I can finish up.

I have to make them in three different sizes, because I have no clue what ages we'll be getting. For ease of sorting laundry, I faced each size with a different print. Hoping they'd be somewhat gender neutral, I scrounged from my stash a geometric purple/blue/green, a Harry Potter (playing Quidditch, no less!) print, and a sage green floral-ish print. Yeah, they're not completely gender-neutral, but I really doubt a small child is going to care what's on their diaper. And I think they're dang cute. What do you think?

As usual, I'll give my insecure "They're really not as slouchy as they photograph" spiel. It's just hard to stand them up straight. Once they're filled with baby bum, they'll look just right.

The second piece of Velcro on each wing is a fold-over tab for laundering. You fold the "hook" part over on to the "loop" part so it doesn't snag anything in the wash.

I also used the leftovers from the cloth wipes to make a few large face wipes to keep near the high chair. It gave me a chance to try out a few of the funkier stitches on my machine, which was lots of fun.

So that about wraps up project-land this week. No more furniture to refinish, no more beds to make up, and I can't finish making diaper covers until my PUL comes next week. I might have time to actually work on that dress!

* An all-in-one (AIO) diaper is the closest thing to a disposable there is. All layers - the absorber, the waterproof layer, and sometimes an absorbent doubler for heavy wetters - are contained within one piece.

** A diaper cover is a waterproof shell that goes outside a fitted or prefold diaper. Usually made of PUL, fleece, or wool. In older generations, they used the generic term "rubber pants."

*** A prefold diaper is basically a large rectangle of absorbent fabric (usually Birdseye pique or diaper flannel - sometimes made of fancier fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, velour, suedecloth, etc), sewn in such a way as to have extra layers of fabric running down the center as a built-in doubler. It is folded, wrapped around the baby, and pinned. A waterproof diaper cover must be worn over it. This is the most basic and oldest type of cloth diaper. It's also the cheapest.

****PUL is short for polyurethane laminate. It is basically laminated cotton.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Johnny hammers with one hammer

Is there anything nicer after a long, sweaty, tiring day than to take an early shower and be in your jammies by 7:00 pm? I have the answer to that. And it's no. No, there is nothing nicer. Unless, perhaps, donuts were somehow added to the mix.

It's been busy around here. Lots of projects in the works to prepare for foster care.

We had to turn our nursery and playroom into two bedrooms that could fit a variety of ages and either gender. After a week's hard work, it's nearly done. (Quick note: I have no clue why all of the rooms photographed shoe-box sized. They're really plenty roomy, but I apparently suck as a photographer.)

Project 1: Master bedroom

We rearranged our bedroom to make room for a crib. I think it looks pretty great. In fact, it's even easier to move around in than before, when Fritz's armoire was on the wall that the crib's now on.

I sewed the fitted crib sheets myself! It was so ridiculously easy. They cost $1.25 each, compared to the $5 apiece ugly ones I found at Wal-Mart. (I promise they don't really sag in front like that. It was just put on sloppily.)

Project 2: Nursery

The old nursery became... well, the new nursery. We put the new donated crib (which, awesomely, matches our original crib almost identically - just a slightly lighter finish) in, along with a flower table we'd hidden under a cloth for years. I got the Exersaucer on Craigslist for $10!

We're planning on going with a jungle theme in here for the time being. (We're shelving my Doctor Who-themed fantasy until we have more time and money to devote to it.) We'll be near Ikea later in September for our training, and would like to put this leaf canopy over the head of the crib, and this hanging storage system in the corner by the closet to hold diapering things, bibs, socks, etc.

I sewed the green crib sheet, too, as well as a back-up teal one.

Project 3: Playroom/Older child's bedroom

We made up the bed for $10. The two large pillows in the back are slip-covered with remnants from the crib sheets and closed with Velcro hidden under funky buttons. I'm really proud of these, as I was working without a pattern, and they turned out perfect on the first try. Score! The wall over the length of the bed is blank, so we're planning to put some of these up.

Moved the animal net, set up an art supplies caddy, and removed artwork/crafts from the kids (stored in my closet now). I'd like to get a lamp for the desk, maybe this one in green.

I finished the last coat of lacquer on the desk this afternoon and didn't want to wait until Fritz got home from work to move it, so I did it myself. I scooted it through the garage on the drop cloth, bumped it up the step into the house, laid it on its side, and pushed it down the hall. Unfortunately, once I got to the playroom door, I realized it wouldn’t fit through on its side, and the hallway was too narrow to right it again. So I pushed it back to the bend in the hallway, scootched it into the nursery (located in said bend), and stood it back up. Then I proceeded to tip it on one end, and "walk" it one corner at a time into the playroom down the hall. A bit more grunting, and it was in place.

We want to hang this (in red) in the corner, for laundry.

This room could seriously benefit from some paint on the walls, but we're going to hold off until we move, so we can do a fun color with some chalkboard paint accents.

Project 4: Diapers
We're planning to cloth diaper, so I've sewn up some prefolds and cloth wipes. Just need to make a few PUL diaper covers, and we're golden. Here are some of the awesome cloth wipes I was working on today (again, another really crappy picture - the wipes are straight in reality):

Just to keep myself from getting bored (hee!), I've been working on some more bibs to sell:

And one to keep (cross-stitched David Tennant and patchworked the back):

So far, all of the sewing/bedding projects have cost $30. The refinishing cost just $9, because we already had the paint, brushes, and sandpaper. We've spent $40 on clothes (which resulted in a play outfit and a pair of jammies for both boys and girls newborn-5T), and $15 on a few incidentals (creams, washes, etc). $25 at Ikea should finish it up. Not bad for furnishing a house for 3-4 children.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

News - This time it's the good kind

We had our first visit with a social worker today to start our trek into the world of foster care. It went very well. We sat and talked for about an hour about our backgrounds, history with children, parenting philosophies, and reasons for wanting to foster. She actually said in the end that she was pleasantly surprised. That she had initially thought our ages would work against us, but she was impressed with what she found. She even said she wishes there were more foster parents like us out there. Also, with our experience and backgrounds, she said we've got a really good chance at being placed quickly. Yeah, I'm bragging. Indulge me this once. It's nice to have something to be excited about.

There's quite a bit we still have to do to ready the house for our home study. We're childproofed, but not quite foster childproofed. We have to put all medications, cleaning supplies, and anything else toxic in locked containers. That includes things like shampoo and hand soap. (Which, to be honest, I think is a little silly. But okay.)

Fritz and I bought a new door handle for our hall linen closet that has a key lock on it. We figure we'll put the majority of cosmetics and cleaning supplies in it. We also got some locking tool boxes for medications and everyday toiletries.

We got a waterproof mattress protector and new pillow for the twin bed in the playroom. We're approved to foster up to 4 children, so we still need to get another twin bed and/or crib, as well as some back-up bedding. I'm hitting Craigslist and Freecycle hardcore, yo.

There were tons of clothes on clearance at Wal-Mart today for $1 apiece, so we bought one outfit in each size. They were nice comfy cotton t-shirts and shorts, so they'll be good for playclothes or jammies in a pinch. We're given a clothing allowance for each kid, but many times they'll come in the middle of the night or other inconvenient times, so we need to have something on hand.

Aside from that, we've got most everything we'll need. Certainly all the big stuff like a crib, cradle, bed, carseats, high chair, stroller. Also most of the less-necessary things that make life easier like an Exersaucer, Boppy, toys, books, rocker, dressers, art supplies, kids' dinnerware, etc.

Anything else, we'll get when the children are placed with us. We're open for birth-10 years, so I don't want to stock up on too many things geared toward a certain age, especially perishable things like formula, toiletries, and wipes. I may get a few cloth diapers, just to have on hand. And we could probably use a set of nail clippers, nasal aspirator, baby gum cleaner, etc. But we won't suffer for having to wait for those things until we've got our placement.

Our next step is to fill out an information packet, get fingerprinted, undergo a background check, get a doctor to sign off on our health, and submit 4 references.

Then the training begins in September. It's held over two weekends up north, about 3 ½ hours away. 32 hours of classroom time (oy, vey!), and we're done with that.

Finally, the home study. Basically, someone will come do a safety inspection on our house. They'll tell us what needs to be fixed, then come back to ensure it's been done. Then we're certified!

Unfortunately, with us both having lived out of state in the past 5 years, our background checks could take up to 3 months to come back. So we probably won't be done until the new year. But we're ok with that. It's just nice to have a timeline now.

And that's about that!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We're doing pretty good.

I've been keeping busy, mostly doing stupid things that don't really need to be done but give me enough feeling of accomplishment to get through the day.

We got 10 lbs of fresh-picked plums for .35/lb from a sweet old lady just outside town. I made a few jars of jam (turned out very good), some plum sauce (that I'm saving for when pork chops go on sale), and an open-faced pastry... thing. I've reserved the last 1/2 lb for a blueberry-plum upside-down cake.

We also got some lovely summer squash from our next-door neighbor. I experimented with breading and baking some, and that turned out pretty well. I'm thinking about adding some pureed into a biscuit mix recipe I found. The rest will probably go into stir-fry.

What else? I cleaned out and rearranged all the closets. That kept me busy for a few nights.

I've been having a heck of a time sleeping lately. I've always been a poor sleeper. For most of my life I've been lucky to get to sleep before 3-5 am. The bone-wearying exhaustion of pregnancy is the only antidote I've ever found to cure this. Now that my old friend insomnia has returned, I'm crabby and miss falling asleep at a reasonable hour and waking up feeling fresh and happy.

To try to avoid that miserable tossing and turning in the dark, I just keep going. Cleaning, writing shopping lists, paying bills... whatever. And of course, rearranging the pantry at 5:30 am.

I colored my hair a few shades darker than usual last night. I like it.

Fritz and I, tired of the same old afternoon pastimes, have recently begun scouring the playroom closet for games. I can kick some major tush at Ants in the Pants. We're pretty evenly matched at Jenga and Tiddlywinks. I don't even bother playing him at checkers, as I don't stand a chance against his mad skillz. I took an early lead in the Battleship tournament, but I think he's figured out my strategy, 'cause he's beat me the past few times.

I recently found this clip on YouTube. I remember really liking this one when I was a kid.

Thanks so much for all of your kind emails and comments. They really were a comfort. I'm sorry it's taken a while to get to all of them, but I promise I will soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One More Thing

You know that old joke where when someone gets hurt, you say you'll step on their foot so they won't even notice the paper cut?

Yeah, doesn’t work so much in real life. It's hard not to feel beaten down when one bad thing after another keeps coming.

We lost another pregnancy. This one was about 8 ½ weeks.

It's heartbreaking enough to lose a baby, but then life has to add insult to injury and put you through the actual miscarriage.

Just let me sit the bench a while, coach.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Don't Want to Live on the Moon

Confession: when I'm sitting at the computer, I sometimes play random classic Sesame Street songs on YouTube, clicking on whatever pops up afterward. I find them really comforting.

I am disappointed, however, that I've yet to find two of my childhood favourites. One was a song about a little girl in Alaska getting dressed to go outside. She was like, "Put on my [native term] to stay warm and dry... Because it's [something that sounded like Ookie-ook], really cold outside." She put on about fifty layers of clothing, and I loved the words so much.

The other was designed to teach kids not to waste water, and asked the poignant question, "Are you a waster-oo?"

Bigger confession: I still cry every time I watch this video.

When I watch these old clips, I'm struck by the overwhelming messages sent out by them.
You're special.
I'm proud of you.
You can do it.
What you're doing/feeling/thinking is normal.
We're all in this together.
We're lucky to be here.

It's easy to tease the earnestness that these shows portray. But are any of these messages not ones that kids need to hear over and over again? Aren't they messages we'd all like to hear over and over again?

I'm really sort of bothered by the type of "educational" kids programming I'm seeing these days. It seems so focused on teaching children parlor tricks like names of classic painters and random foreign words and opera tunes.

I just have to wonder if it's somewhat indicative of our shift in goals as people. Don’t we all brag about our infant's neck control, our 18-month old's potty training, our 3-year old's reading, our 8-year old's long-division? And those are great things. But if these sort of things are the only that we focus on, aren't we setting ourselves up to someday have a world of adults whose only concerns are one-upping the rest of humanity?

Maybe I just have an unhealthy obsession with children's television.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


So my current craft obsession is ATCs, or Artist Trading Cards. Just like regular trading cards, but instead of displaying men in too-tight pants with dorky haircuts, they feature original art (which might include men in too-tight pants with dorky haircuts, but it's completely coincidental, I assure you).

They can be made with any medium, on any surface, and display any image. The only real rule is that they must be 2.5" x 3.5" (I make mine on old playing cards). They can be saved or traded. And I lurrr-ve them.

I found a group on Crafster that is trying to get through a list of 100 themes for their cards. I decided to play.

I've already given my first two away and didn't get any scans of them, but I did take a couple of quick photos first. Since they'd already been mod-podged, they were difficult to photograph. Flash washed them out, no flash blurred them.

Here they are though: (The first and second in picture 1, and the second and third in picture 2. Ignore the blue card 'til later.) The first card doesn't fit into one of the hundred themes (because I hadn't decided to play yet), but it's called "Green Finch in a Brocade Tree." The second was for the theme "Rainbow."

This one is "Last Hope," as take-out food is often our last hope for sustenance on a busy day.

"Waiting" (it scanned all crooked)

"Fortitude," because nothing fortifies me more than a cozy bed, yummy snack, and phone call to my mom.


"Happiness" (another crooked guy)

"All that I have"


8/100 Pretty fun, yeah? I highly encourage everyone to give it a whirl. Very addicting, though. I have to tell myself straight out that there is no ATC-ing until chores are done.