Monday, December 28, 2015

Making the call

That is a snatch lift. I do that often. That's not me. But I did do that cross fit competition. So, close enough.


This is what I said when I called the social worker.

Me: "Hi, this is Mrs. Hall and I wanted to let xxxx social worker know we are ready to take on more foster kids but it seems xxxx social worker is not in."

A Social worker but not xxxx social worker: "OH YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST. WILL CALL YOU WHEN WE HAVE A RIGHT MATCH."

Then 10 more min of sort of weird, awkward small talk and her being super friendly and complements and support.  It went well.

I was going to send an email. I even had it written up.  

Hi xxxx social worker:

Thanks for meeting up with me yesterday.* I did want to update you on our discussions about helping more kids. Right now, Michael and I are discussing what we want to do. As I said yesterday, my heart is for adoption from the foster care system. Michael has been open to this idea but with the caveat of wanting not to 'just adopt' but adopting the right child for our family. And be the right family for that child!  

We've been processing a lot of things that have happened in the last two years, especially with H.
We loved H, however, as we think about things we are pretty sure she had Reactive Attachment Disorder. She was never formally evaluated or diagnosed, but she had a lot of the classic symptoms of not being able to attach. She had a lot of behaviors that were high maintenance. I don't want to seem like we are complaining at all, but it really took a lot out of us and we are trying to heal/process  and be mindful of this as we go forward.

Even though I wanted to adopt her, Michael was right that she wasn't the right child for our family. It wasn't up to us anyway though. I'm very sure she was placed in the right place, with family that loved her. I think I just want to adopt so bad I was sort of blinded to the truth. Luckily, I have a stabilizing husband who can help see all the sides and I trust him when he tells me to simmer down!

We also think about J and our experience with him. He was very challenging at first. His behaviors were also hard but he did attach to us and in about a year he melted right in. In fact, he was our least labor intensive child! J has family but he is a kid that would be a right fit for us and us for him!

So I'm not sure where that leaves us. We still want to be a foster family. Our kids are on board again. I asked my daughter how she felt about having another foster kid again and in typical teen fashion she said, "It'd be cool."

But like I said. I called instead.


*I met with her to drop off over 100 sz six diapers because our toddler son potty trained in 2 weeks flat. PRAISE JESUS!! but, we order diapers in bulk so we had a bunch of sz 6 diapers. Most toddlers run about size 4. You can't donate sz 6 diapers to goodwill. So, off to the county they went.

*now watch us get a size 6 diapered toddler and I retrieve those 100 sz 6 diapers.

yep. mmhhhmmm

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My son the genius

Merry Christmas everyone ;)

If there was a picture to explain my son, it's that one right there.

He's been on behavior plans since 4k. Recently we had him tested for ADHD which came up flaming positive. Not.a.shock.  But, it also came up positive for him being a genius. Like Mensa material. This was a shock. We knew he was smart but genius? Really?

It's going to be really tough what I have to write next and if my son is reading this, PLEASE UNDERSTAND... I'm writing this when you are nine years old. And this last six months has rocked our world with you.

He's started a new genius school which is teaching him French and Chess and Fancy Smart things I learned in high school. Again, he's NINE. He's making jokes about binary code. He discusses cloning sheep. We had a discussion about communism the other day. This school is unlocking higher levels of understanding for him and it's blowing me away. It's also highlighting his social difficulties.

My son is passionate, tender hearted and reactive. He is spirited but very introverted. He got kicked off the bus because he wouldn't listen to the driver.

He is strong willed. He doesn't like doing what he isn't wanting to be doing. He's kinda loud and dramatic. SHUT UP I KNOW THESE ARE DESCRIPTORS OF ME.

What to do though? How do we  handle this kid that is not doing well in the 'cooperating with others' and 'having a hard time making friends' and 'doesn't realize other kids are making fun of him' category. And that he fights us tooth and nail about most everything and we.are.tired.

Did I mention we're opening our house up to other foster kids next month? Because ya know, we are ready...

I'm reading this wonderful book called "Raising your spirited child" (google it--it's FANTASTIC).

It seems that the crazy smart part of our son does not translate into social skills. In fact, it makes them worse. At his gifted school they have social skills training built into the curriculum. Because being a genius often comes with social issues.

I'm starting to fundamentally think differently about him. I'm setting aside our want for him to display respect and tow the line. I'm listening and responding to his emotional needs first. We can let him be angry, sad, balled up and shut down. Pushing against this is not helpful.

If he wants to go in another room to eat, I let him. If he wants to keep playing something before he does his chore, I let him. He'll need to ask first but I let him. If he wants to do origami until his fingers go numb I let him. If he's screaming and worked up because we want him to shower, I slow things down. If he cries because we are making him walk the dog I let him breathe and not force. He needs to work with his strength and genius quirks. It's his life. It's who he is. Working against that is an exercise in frustration.

But we can work with him.......that is something we're planning.....

Our kid is spirited. Like the book says, he is "MORE" than others so he'll need "MORE" parenting.

But make no mistake. This is kid is huge with heart and crazy smarts. The Lord has plans for him that I can't even imagine. I'm so excited for him and so proud.

Even if I do pray for his future wife.... she'll need to have a light heart and ninja organizational skills!!  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Plan for the upcoming year... my 40th

Right now, on Netflix, there is a wonderful documentary on Iris Apfel. She is phenomenal. Wholly dedicated to the aesthetics of life. She also has a good handle on what makes a woman worth the time as beauty fades because she never had physical beauty in the first place. She's 90 and becoming quite the inspiration for me.

Having lost 60 lbs and developed a keen sense of my own strength, I am becoming quite beautiful on the outside. However, I am to be forty in less than a month. What I have will not last and requires a buttress. I get my roots done on the reg and will until I haven't any hair left. After that, I'll just buy a wig.

My life, so far, has been devoted to the service of others. I'm very fortunate to be a wife, mom, foster mom and nurse. It's a good use of my energies. I've also become kindly and less temperamental as of late. I'm becoming a better wife and mom every day. I've ask God to search my heart and He's done quite a lot of healing. Having a dog helps crazy amounts too.

So here's the plan.

I'm handing this year over to GOD. He has great plans for me and our Tribe Called Hall. I'm very sure it'll be tough and super crazy. But I trust Him above all things.

OK 40.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Goruck light and other things I did done

Things I planned to do once the foster kids transitioned back to family and was down to just 3 bio kids and weren't ready for more foster kids: 


Go Ruck light actually 

2. Crossfit

2. big back tattoo
3. crossfit competition
4. cleaning out and organizing main rooms
5. Potty train my 3 year old
6. create a habit of massaging my husband
7. do the 'cook once a week and eat for a month' type meal plan

Done. And done. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The beauty of hitting the wall

Monday I had another school conference for our middle son. Just like last time, I hear he's super smart but super emotional and that gets in the way. I shouldn't be going to conferences. I always end up crying. I don't want to hear about it. He's been on behavior plans since 4k. He'll get better as he grows. I'm a genius and so is my husband. His smarts and behaviors are stuff we had/have. Stop telling me about it because we're working on it.

This time they asked he see a counselor. Which makes sense. To us, he's just being our kid. Temperamental and crazy but our whole family is weird. It's ok at home. In school it gets in the way.

So yeah. Booking a counselor appt.

THEN. I find out that a patient who I worked so very hard for, like 30 hours of extra work outside the apt time...he wants to not only fire me-- but to file an official complaint. He's fired three other providers and filed complaints against them too. So I'm not alone but feels personal. I did the extra work because I wanted him to have all the care. I lost sleep over this patient. I worried about this patient. I should have known better. But I couldn't help myself.

THEN. I head off to 'trauma training' for my foster care license. This is a long effing class. Every Monday for 16 weeks at 3 hours a class. All about how trauma affects the brains of developing children and how it translates into some pretty gnarly behavior. The last classes are about how we, as a foster parents, can help heal them.

IT brings up tons of emotional baggage from our last 3 years as foster parents. It rips my guts out. I think the class might be killing me. And this Monday, after the patient, after the conference --I hit a wall.

With a half an hour left,  I was done with the class. I put my head in my hands, breathed and stayed upright. I looked normal but man I was done. I couldn't take any more information about these horribly traumatized kids and how we help them. I was done.

D.U.N.N. done.

But here's the beauty of hitting the wall...

I know have limits. I tend to think I am beyond superhuman strong. If I just plan things right,  I can be Hercules. That is false.

SO. At work I'm putting up some very thick boundaries. Concrete walls of no. I am hired for a reason and will make others do their own work.

SO. I will make absolutely sure Mr. Hall goes to all conferences from now on. I just can't.

AND. This class has three more classes. That'll I finish.

I'll let myself be free for a while. Enjoying the shock of hitting the wall.

Monday, October 5, 2015

900 push ups and other Bro moments

Ya'll have no idea how awesome these moments were.


in the last 6 months



1. At my gym, the monthly challenge was 30 push ups a day x 30 days. When I started crossfit two years ago, I could barely do push ups against a wall. I did all 900 chest to floor. No knees. Bro was all like, "GREAT WORK STEPH".


2. Saturday classes are divided into two hours. First hour is open gym, meaning you can show up and work on what ever is needed. Then, the second hour is a team work out.  Meaning we form teams to tackle a HUGE work out. Something like:

row 1000 meters
100 push ups
100 sit ups
100 box jumps
100 kettle bell swings
row 1000 meters

It takes a team as these work outs cannot be done alone, nor should they be. One Sat I was doing open gym before I had to leave for work. The bros were talking smack about what team was going to dominate that day. They started to pick team members. Someone said "WE GET STEPH"  and I blushed and said, "I have to go to work." And a PARTICULARLY YOUNG AND TOUGH bro was all "COME ON!  YOU WERE GONNA BE ON OUR TEAM!" He was all disappointed and sad.

dang right he was!


2. I was deadlifting something like 225 and being used as the demonstrator for the class on how to properly deadlift. A BRO standing next to me said, "Respect" and did that guy nod thing, the slight upward tilt of the chin in a quick reverse nod moment.


3. We have outside adventures, my gymmates and I. One is a hike that will last 6 hours with weighted backpacks while performing other assorted push ups and jumping jacks. Not everyone is doing it. I am though. And the coach was trying to recruit people. Saying, "Steph is signed up". And Bro is all like, "Yeah, but Steph's a badass."


I don't respond to these bro moments but to smile and quickly look down. They don't need to know how so very awesome it is to be a bro!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Things I need to work on...but probably won't

1. My sensitivity

I am  the most sensitive person the planet right now. Any side eye, teasing or gentle poking feels super harsh. Especially if the teasing involves things I'm passionate about.


(see that, didn't know I was bilingual did ya?)

I recently became a Lifetime Weight Watchers member. Which means I've made my goal weight and kept it off for six weeks. I don't have to pay for meetings anymore. Unless I gain the weight back of course. I've also applied to become a WW receptionist because I need to pay this forward!

Which brings us to yesterday, surrounded by my coworkers in the break room. I really like my coworkers. I tell them all of the above. I tell them how fun it was applying for this job. It was super fun coming up with a mini resume that included all my accomplishments. I have a master's degree and I'm a nurse practitioner. I'm a married mom of three and a foster mom too. And let's NOT forget the cross fit I kick ass at.

Yes I put crossfit on a resume. UNDER HOBBIES. BOOM SHAKALAKA!!

I tend to forget how much I've done and am. I give all the glory to GOD! I did none of this by myself. I'm a lazy and bossy individual. My strength is puny and inconsistent. His strength works through me. PRAISE HIS NAME!!!

I don't share that last part, with my coworkers, but they known I'm a Jesus freak. So, I don't need to cover that.

THEN.  I tell them that you need to be a lifetime WW member or be within 10 lbs of your goal weight to be a WW receptionist. They start to cackle and poke. They say, "So if you gain 11 lbs you're fired?" Or, "There's a weight requirement? THAT'S DISCRIMINATION!" I try to answer back that it makes sense for healthier people to lead. They continue to cackle and joke. I leave the room and try not to cry.

I don't think people have any fricking clue how much work goes into weight loss. I've spent the last frigging year rearranging everything I know about food. I've changed everything and thrived. I did this while in the thick of having five kids! Two of them being high need foster kids!

So. They were just kidding. But I'm hypersensitive. And I was being prideful. Pride goeth before a fall they say.

But, I probably won't work my sensitivity. Screw it. Empathy is a golden gift. I'm almost 40 years old. My empathy is only getting deeper.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hearing with clear eyes

I ate the saddest banana on Sunday. Saturated by summer heat, lounging by the pool and the whistling trees. We had just dropped our foster son off for the last time. He's all packed up and ready to go live with his Dad. It's been three years of this little kid and my heart is just breaking.

We've had two foster kids, one girl, one boy. The differences have been amazing. The girl came from a home where mom was largely disconnected from her daughter. Either through mental defect, selfishness or drugs, she wasn't always there. And if she was, it wouldn't last. Long term stability is not possible for the mom.  Which is why our foster daughter is now with an auntie.

I know this pattern of scattered connection affected our foster daughter. She never learned how to attach properly. As such, even after two and half years, I don't think she really bonded with us. In our heart of hearts, we believe she had Reactive Attachment Disorder. She bonded to those literally right next to her, in a superficial way. It was a good first few months with her. Attachment by reaction.

After a few months, she fought pretty much every attempt we made to love her. Kids with RAD don't understand that love is caring and nurturing. She saw us as people that gave her stuff and got in the way of her being in charge. Sometimes she'd settle and we'd see glimmers of true connection. But we don't know if that's true. Kids with RAD are great manipulators. It's how they survive.

Two and half years and we still don't know if we made a dent. I don't want to shame this child, here, in this blog. I'm merely working through what I was seeing and understanding. It's so sad for me and sad for her. Following the RAD paradigm, she bonded very well with her auntie when it came time  to move on.

There's a chance for our foster daughter, now that she's with her people. She felt it. "I'm finally leaving foster care!", she said. If Auntie proves to be solid and consistent, our foster child will have a chance of learning how to love and be loved. Not just to be cute and scam those around her. My heart is breaking and hopeful for her.

Bonding is huge. I think about my kids, how I birthed them. How they were glued to us for the first year. OH the months I spent on the couch...nursing and cuddling, nursing and cuddling... Then they start to walk and the cuddles become less. We're still attached though. We hover and helicopter with pride. We make sure their world is a good one, managing their needs from the time they wake up until well after bed time. Even when they're sleeping I'm aware of coughs, snorts and whimpers.

I'm attached to them and they're attached to us. They take us for granted. They run around carefree, knowing we're right here, bugging them to do chores.

For foster kids it's different. They showed up four years into their life. We have a big, friendly family and a pool. It's like a sleep away camp. But no matter how much we offer, after a while, they want to go home. So we hold them, rock them after nightmares and deal with behaviors. This is where attachment comes in.

For our foster son, he had a grandma who was always there. He understood love. Sadly, his grandma was not always stable. And managing a little boy is tough, especially if you can't right yourself. His mom would fade in and out depending on her drug addiction.  It was a lot for us to learn when we started helping out. Especially when it came to managing behaviors.

I'll never forget being 8 months pregnant in target, testing the waters of bringing him places by myself. This was a rookie mistake! He had a gigantic tantrum. I steeled myself, thought of all the frontier women who had gone before me. I commenced picking this writhing,  four year old child off the floor. Gingerly placing him in the cart and wheeling him out. All the while he was screaming..."I want...I want.." Then, in the car, "I want my mom."

It was a good 6 months before I brought him anywhere by myself after that.

We did behavior charts. We did bonding things like just being there all the time. Being there all the time and being super boring. Loving him to whatever degree he would tolerate. He got it. He bonded with us. Towards the end, I could take him anywhere and do anything. The bonding made all the difference. If you bond and love someone, you'll listen and behave for them. He fit in our family.

All of this was a stupid banana on Sunday. These kids came into our lives and made a complete mess of it. Then it straightened out. Eventually their extraordinary needs became routine, like every day kid needs. Signing up for soccer? Done! Hours long screaming fits? Done!  Checking off homework sheets? Done! Court hearings? Done! Pack lunches? Done!

Across from my banana sat Mr. Hall. Watching my eyes well up with tears. He knew I prayed to adopt our foster son. I prayed so hard. Of the two foster kids he fit the best. But he has a Daddy. A Daddy who loves him and is ready to take care of him. So off he goes and my heart is hopeful and breaking.

Then I just lost it. Sobbing and shaking shoulders, eating bananas by the pool. I told Mr. Hall I want to adopt. He knows this. And he said, like he has a 1,000 times... "We will when it's the right time."

And I think I heard him for the first time, with very clear eyes.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nubs. And things.

Well, that's it for now, foster parent wise. The little girl is with family.

We will still see our little guy next month, but after that he'll move in with his Daddy.

It's so weird. I'm so tired. How am I so tired? I mean, we're DOWN TO JUST THREE KIDS.

I don't think I'm aware of how much work 5 kids really was. Or being pregnant when the first foster kid came. And not sleeping through the night for the first year of foster kids love because our baby wasn't sleeping through the night. As babies do.

And these kids were work. SO MUCH WORK. With the behaviors and the destruction and the breaking and ripping. And the lying and the stealing. And the yelling and the behaviors. And the attitude.

I feel like I'm floating. I am so tired. Everything is so quiet.

I can say this-

It's been a crazy since we starting taking in other kids. I think we adjusted well and stepped up. Having a big family of five takes a lot of effort, planning and above all, love.

I'm proud we did this and proud we opened our hearts to these kids. It may not have been perfect at times, but we did it.

We learned so much! These experiences have drawn us closer to each other.

I know we want to do it again.

But first. Let me take a nap. Regrow some tissues that have been worn down to nubs.

<3 nbsp="" p="">

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Waiting on the porch

Our foster kids will be officially out of our lives in the next few weeks. Our foster daughter goes tomorrow. After two years, it's only a matter of days.

It's a struggle not talking about this to everyone and keeping things short when I do.

It is unbelievably complex and I can't even. So if you see me. Just hug. Don't ask. Just hug.


Let's explore the rainbow of emotions shall we?

It's my blog,  so I guess we shall.


Last week, I picked the little girl up from her relative's house. It was her weekly hair appointment/excuse for a visit. They give me breathing room. I am a white woman and I cannot do her hair in dreadlocks, corn rows or extensions. I've given it my best shot. From now on, whatever black child comes through my home--her hair will be done by relatives or professionals. I am maintenance only. And even then, lower your expectations!

I arrived to pick her up. I stood awkwardly on the porch while she hugged and kissed 40 relatives in the living room. She came out with pieces of paper that had phone numbers. So she can keep in touch with relatives.

I was angry. Angry that they never EVER have her ready on time and I'm always standing there. Angry that whatever the frick phone numbers she gets --won't be in service a week from now. Angry that not ONE OF THOSE 40 RELATIVES can take her. NOT ONE. No one was deemed stable enough. They all have criminal records, evictions and active drug addictions. Well, maybe not all, but enough to deem them unfit parents for my foster daughter. Also, I'm not sure they all raised their hand to take her either.

So go ahead, make me wait on the porch. 

And lastly, angry because I feel their pain. It's only a screen door, the pain flows right through. So I have to deal with that pain and mine. They love her. They want her to be with them. They are not appropriate. They can't.

So go ahead, make me wait on the porch.

She's moving two hours away to dad's side of the family. Visits will stop. Plus, they are black. Dad's family can do her hair just fine.


It's sad because she's been our daughter for two years and now she's not. It's sad because even though she has reactive attachment disorder, she's attached to us through sheer force of being here for so long. Sad because her behaviors have escalated and are out of control. Sad because this is common for kids who transition to other homes. Sad because I wanted to adopt, but she not the right child for us. We are not the right family for her.

Sad because she's going. Sad because this is effecting her. Sad because she knows mom isn't doing well and she's still not going to be with mom. Sad because she still believes Mom will come get her. And go to Disney land. And move into a big house. Sad because I can't be there when she realizes mom is never go to do that. Sad because she'll never stop believing this. Even when she's grown, she'll still have a need her mom can never meet. 


I am moving so slow. Both mind and body. I have three calendars to keep me on track the next few days. Running plays like a quarter back. Without the plays I cannot keep my own name straight.

Here's the play for the next few days:


1. Go home. Change out of work clothes. Rest a bit. Pick up toddler from day care and get sushi from grocery store. Go home, make dinner. Kids to bed. Make photo CD of the hundreds of photos for her family that's she moving to. Go to sleep.


1. Crossfit 5 am, come home, shower. Make breakfast and wake up kids. Drop them off at various activities. Come back home. Scour every room, nook and cranny for anything we haven't packed. Leave no stone unturned. Pack everything that is hers. Make sure I pack CD, state insurance card and tube of skin cream. Bring packed bags to car.

Get kids from activities and bring them home. Hug and kiss her for the last time.

Go to work.

While I'm at work Mr. Hall will drive her down for the final drive.

Day after tomorrow:

1. Crossfit 5 am, shower, breakfast, weight watchers at 7 am. Go to work..... and wait to see what comes next. And deal with it.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to heal a broken back and broken heart

I can't seem to get the photos to load right so imagine what you want.

A sunset?

That's nice.


Two things.


My back is a bit broken from pregnancy. No, I'm not pregnant but when I was--I had back issues. They've now flared up to the point where I can't crossfit properly. THAT SUCKS ASS.

So I went to physical therapy. It helped but didn't fix it.

I went to a chiropractor. That's some awesome right there! Dude is ON IT! Adjusting like a mofo! Laying hands and healing!

It was tough because he said, "Slow down while we fix things. Let it heal before you jump back into box jumps, burpees, clean and jerks and stop doing everything you love." Ok, he didn't say the last part, but it felt like it.

Slow is like crawling buck naked on the side walk. All low crawl, trying not to catch my butt cheeks on the barbed wire.

I feel my back healing. Each week I earn tokens for my penance of rest. This week I can start rowing, doing pull ups, and sit ups. Weight lifting is next and LAWD ALMIGHTY! I cannot wait!!


My heart is broken from foster care life. We're transitioning the little girl back to family. Transition is the point of foster care. To hand them back to family. I've met them. They are nice. They are stable. They are loving and they are family. And. They are willing.

It has been the longest three years of my life. Just when I think I can't enter a new level of hell a whole fresh new door opens up. Or I walk over a square hole in the floor and fall clean through.

I wonder if foster parents ever get use to this. I ask because I know we aren't done.

Which has sparked tears and many a discussion with Mr. Hall. I ask what he wants, what he can do. I tell him what I want, that my heart absolute aches to adopt. There is no two ways about it. I trust him that we were not to adopt the little girl, this was not the plan. He isn't ready.

"It needs to be right. But when it's right, we'll know." He says and I listen. Blinking. (this was last night).

He didn't need to add, "And you can't force things because of your needs." 

Right now my needs are to see the little girl off. Transition to her family. This is going well. It meets her needs as well. Which really, is the most important needs.


I know I said two things. I lied.

What comes next is rest while I heal.  We will stop taking on more kids for six months.

Just be us. Two kids that I pooped out of my vagina and one out of my C-section scar. Just being a family of five.

Slowing. Resting. Letting my heart heal while it rehabs.

Is there a chiropractor for that?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Silver Linings Playbook just about destroyed me

Whiskey and sadness is no good. It makes the ground ripe for tear spillage. Such was the case when my whiskey soaked self watched Silver Lining Playbook.

It's a story of a crazy man who moves from an asylum to his parent's house. His brand of crazy is  bipolar. He vibrates with obsessive energies. He learned to control them to a certain degree. Running helps. Not acting crazy helps. On a run,  he picks up a girl. Not entirely welcomed though (see illustration above).

This is where the movie starts to destroy me. The girl is a lot like what I use to be. I did not expect that.

She chases him in search of comfort and companionship. She's nuts and people treat her that way. All arms length. Her nuts is a bit more balanced than his. Hers is a bit more cohesive and didn't require inpatient stays. But, we all have needs and hers is to be loved.

He finally starts to hang out with her because she can do him a favor. He's obsessed with contacting his wife. With restraining orders in place,  he's disparate. She knows his wife. This creates a need for him to know her. Without this piece, he would probably tell her to eff off completely and the book would be done.

It's about leverage. Girl has been leveraging what she has to get what she wants because when folks keep their distance, you need a way to bring them closer. When it comes to men, this girl puts out. Pretty much to everyone because that is a way of getting love. Losers come out in droves for this.

With my ground thoroughly watered by whiskey, I started to sob. I remember phone calls and letters of men wanting to meet me...all because they thought they could get lucky. They were mostly right. I was less than 16 at the time.

It's so sad thinking about this. Even a week later and stone cold sober.

Mr. Hall asked me how? Why? What can we do so this doesn't happen to our daughter?

I can say I had no center and was lonely. I was scared and introverted. I had a lot of unsupervised MTV time which, looking back, had a lot of soft coreness about it. Never underestimate the influence of what you surround yourself with. I didn't have a mom or dad who were particularly plugged into my life. They didn't read my poetry or understand why I shaved my head. But I don't blame them. We all did the best we could at the time.

A hundred partners and many years later I stopped reaching out by putting out. But all of this caused some damage A few years into my marriage I started to unravel things through therapy, yoga and weightwatchers. Yoga was especially helpful.

I think about what healed me. I can say love very much healed me. Love from God, love from forgiveness. Love from Mr. Hall.

It's a crazy world ya'll. Love pretty much heals every wound I've ever had.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Blinded by the big deal

There is a section of this blog that deals with my two miscarriages. Those times were motivating our foster parenthood.

I don't admit this outloud but Mr. Hall has- so there we are.

It was a good Easter weekend this weekend. Traveling, family and sometimes some cold hard truth. Mr. Hall had enough libation to let me know he's tired. Worn through. Tired of foster baby mama drama and wanting our little foster daughter to transition to help her heal. She needs to move on and heal because here she is in limbo. Mr. Hall said it outloud...we aren't the right or for real family for her. Our foster daughter has been with us for a long time. Two years.  It's been a looooooooooong two years.

Foster kids stay with foster families for 17 months on average. The bioparents have a long time to get their act together. Sometimes they can't. And for this, I try to extent mercy. I feel bad they're trapped in their addictions, mental illness and plain old selfishness. I get angry too. Two years later and we're still getting angry phone calls about not doing her baby's hair right. Because hair ya'll.

During the miscarriages, Mr. Hall and I leaned on each other. We cried and held each other. I was going nuts inside and so was he. We took a break from trying for more babies. Stop for six months he said. So six months it was. I went on birth control and we went about our life. Six months later he got me rip roaring drunk and asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to try again. He did too. So we had our baby.

A few times a week I marvel at our now toddler. His perfect symmetry. I think about his DNA being knitted together in my womb. How it all went right and he was born so perfect. I think about the babies I lost and how the DNA didn't mesh together right and they were lost to this world. They were still alive though. They are still my babies and I'll see them in Heaven.

I think about this and my craziness with the foster kids. It is a tough gig ya'll. It is a strain. It affects all my family. These kids and their bioparents are work!

Mr. Hall wrote our social worker and gave 5 paragraphs of feelings about all of this.  Mr. Hall has reached his limit and he wants a break. But, unlike going back on birth control to stop the madness, transitioning a foster child is not so easy.

There are options and we'll take it slow. We can't hurry any of this. Hopefully her family will step up. Hopefully it'll be done in a few months. Hopefully. For her and for us. If not, we'll just keep on keeping on.

Then, we'll break.  I'll crossfit and weight watchers just like I am now. Then six months will go by. Then Mr. Hall will get me drunk and we'll discuss the next step. It won't be trying for another baby. Mr. Hall had the surgery which shall not be named when I was pregnant last.

I want no mistaking my intention though. I am not done growing this family. I have a need for more than three. I am selfish and demanding with this. I want to adopt and it's ok if it's a sibling group. I am blinded by this. I am crazy howling at the moon crazy about this.

I want to adopt so I can be done. So I can feel complete. So I can take these kids and make them our own. So I can be done with the bioparents if I want to. Adopting from the foster system is not easy. I'm sure it's not easier than caring for a child for two years and then sending them on. But it's in me this need. The call is unrelenting.

Like I said, crazy howling at the moon about this.


Monday, March 23, 2015

We have a genius on our's my son, Mac

School Conferences....

These are times where you sit in front of the teacher and they have 15 min. to rattle off how your child is doing. It's not a conversation, it's a mini speech. I learned my oldest daughter, Pancake, now 12-- is being recommended for advanced math. As I looked over the 'AP' classes of algebra, trig, and calculus...I was flooded with wonderful memories. I loved math. I am a nerd and still am. MATH RULES!

I can't wait for my daughter to excell in everything she does. I can't wait to read over her math homework and wax nostalgic. My head will explode with rapturous joy when she starts reading Shakespeare!

My foster daughter is getting better with reading. And behaviors. Yay!

Then there is Mac, now age 8. I left his conference in tears. Not happy tears but sad ones. WHICH IS WHY I SHOULDN'T GO TO THESE THINGS.

Mac is smart. Like Mensa smart. I know, we've had him tested. We tested him because he struggles with behaviors. Sitting still, paying attention, keeping his emotions from flying all over the place...all of these things are not his strong suit. It was of no surprise he has attention deficit disorder. His mommy has it. His daddy has it too.

We knew he was smart, but genius level was a bit of a shock. It makes sense though. Yesterday, in the car, my eight year old was asking about cloned sheep. And radiation. And what ibuprofen means.

At the conference, his lovely blond teacher was telling me how Mac doesn't participate. He sits at his desk and reads. Reading at super high level, much higher than his peers. He doesn't want to sit on the carpet with the rest of the kids. "He wants to be alone", the teacher said. So, they let him read and do the 1/2 hour assignments in 2 min flat. They let him not participate because he's not disrupting the class.

That's an improvement. He used to be a huge disruption. Pounding, kicking, angry. Letters and calls from school. Now it seems instead of going outward, he's going inward. That's my trigger to start crying. I'm INWARD AND IT SUCKS. I'm an introvert who struggles with making small talk. Who struggles with fitting in, social gatherings and acting nonchalant. I'm 39 for land's sake. I've gotten very good at faking it but it's still a struggle. I want to tell Pancake and Mac to fight their inward leanings. You can be smart and outward.

Here's the thing, as the kids get older, the less they need to listen to me. Like Pancake. She's entering adolescence which is, by definition, the most awkward and struggle filled time of anyone's life. Meanwhile her life is unfolding before her. She needs to start figuring this out. It is up to her to pass the AP math classes. She'll figure it out if she wants to. I'll be there but I'm not going to hover or push.

Mac is eight. He's outgrowing time outs and becoming more scattered with things. Regulating his behavior is different. Less difficult and harder at the same time. He has long moments of emotional calm and his charming genius fills the room. I pray and imagine this will be him as he grows into a man.

The bright spot in all of this is that he's been recommended for a special school for gifted kids. It's a school where kids learn twice as fast and learn twice as much. They cater to the kind of learner Mac is. I hope upon hope this is where he'll flourish.

But, I always remember I was a genius who almost flunked out of high school. They didn't test me until 9th grade. And I have a master's degree.

It'll be ok.

I promise.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What to do when the end game is near

 So. I've had the wee foster ones in our care for quite some time now. It makes for a crowded house and a crowded table in my head.

People always ask, "Are you going to adopt them..." And I have to go into a shortened version of no and why.

The end game of foster placements is permanency. The kids are not meant to stay with foster families forever. They are meant to return to mom, go to a relative or the foster family adopts them. Another option is someone becoming a guardian. Which is not quite adoption.

This is the most likely option for our foster son. He lives, most of the time, with his grandparents. They rely on us for support and care of the little guy. They cannot raise him without us. I say this not out of arrogance, but out of three years with this family. However, once they become guardians, things will change.

What we think about, what I think about, is our obligation to this little guy. He loves us. He sees us as a stable loving family he gets to be part of. We agree. We don't agree to keep enabling his grandparents. To be completely selfish, we don't want them in our lives ever, ever again. Three years is enough with those people.

But again, those people can't raise him without us.

It's a tough, tough, tough, tough, tough place to even think about. So I won't. Nothing will change in the next month so I'll just end that here.

I can say my life would be very empty without the crowded table. Entanglements being what they are, it's not a bad way to go about being useful. I'm not meant for a life of ease. I've been given much too much strength for that.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Motivation, Anger management, Crossfit Open and foster care

I don't have much to say but I want to write something. So here goes.

1. Motivation

It is said no one operates without an agenda. This is unbelievably true and not an indictment on anyone's character. My motivation, for most things, stems from a deep inner restlessness and obsessive nature.

2. Anger management

I've recently learned how to call up anger, channel it through my muscles and lift some very heavy weights. This is so very useful.


The Crossfit games in an annual competition that has three parts. The first is the Crossfit Open. This means everyone who does any sort of crossfit can do 5 workouts and compare themselves to the rest of the world doing the same work out. I did an intermural open last year where we formed teams at our gym and competed against each other. It was amazing! It begins in a month!

I look back on my workout journal and see how far I've come from last year. I lift 3 times the weight I use to. This is especially true with thrusters. I use to do them at 15 lbs. Which is the 'girl bar' without any weights. TODAY. NOW. I do them at 65 lbs. BOOM!

                                                          Behold! The thruster!

My weakness is box jumps. This is me conquering the 20 in box. It's a giant effin leap. It's more mental than anything. Working on them though. BTW. Both feet should be hitting the box at the same time and I should be more upright. Again, this is my weakness and I'm working on it.

Last year I jumped on a 10 inch platform. So improvement is noted.

4. And lastly, foster care

Things are humming along with the two bonus kids of ours. It's been three years now. The bio moms are out of the running for reunification. Family will take in one, family will hopefully take in another. If not, they've identified adoptive resources a.k.a. foster families that can adopt. We've chosen not to adopt. It has been a long road but my guilt about this has all but dissolved.

I think about the kids' stories. How it doesn't go smoothly. They don't say, "My mommy and daddy fell in love, got married and had us." They say, "When I was four I went to live at my grandma's and my mom went to jail. I live at the Halls some times."  Or, they say, "When I was four my mom went to the hospital and I went to live with the Halls." Then they both say, "My mom didn't get better and now I'm living with my other grandma/auntie. They're adopting me and now I'm staying there forever."

This transition from our care to others is the next step. I'm not sure how it's going to go but it's a step wise transition. First hour long visits, then overnights. Then week long stays. Then permanent.

I wonder if memories of us will fade like all memories do for kids. I wonder if our bonus kids will remember anything of our years together. Or will they just ask, "Didn't I stay with a family that had a pool once?" ...."What was that about?"


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