Friday, November 30, 2012

Applauding all parents

Hello friends.  It is Friday night, and not quite 9pm and I am about to write a post informing why all good parents ought to be applauded, congratulated, offered prizes and large sums of money - something to reward them for all the hard hard work that they do.

Last week Lindsay asked if I was free on a few different dates, one of them being tonight.  She asked if I could watch the boys while her and Rob ran some errands and had date night.  I was free and agreed. I remembered how much I loved doing crafts and projects when I was a kid, so I searched Pinterest and found a cute idea - to use brown paint and use the children's feet and hands to create a reindeer.  The fabric squares are to be sewn into pillows and cherished forever.  Seemed simple enough.  The key word there being "seemed."

So Rob and Lindsay finish up dinner with us all and after some encouraging, head out the door (there's always one more thing to do before leaving, isn't there?).  So I had told the boys there was a secret surprise for them and I started getting things ready.  Whilst playing some kid friendly Christmas music from Pandora, which included far too many Chipmunks' songs, I said "no" or "maybe" to the boys' guesses as they guessed what their secret surprise was.

So finally I filled them in on what the game plan was and there were mixed thoughts - things like, oh...pillows?  I promised it'd be cool after it was done.  Oh and how could I forget that throughout all this, Kian, the almost two year old, is screaming and crying and refuses to stop.  He keeps asking for mom or dad.  While this is going on Brayden (oldest at 8) calls mom, probably telling her I'm an awful babysitter and have no idea how to take control.  I talk to her and she suggests a bottle.  Kian normally only gets one bottle in the morning.  After a bit more screaming and carrying on, I gave in and warmed up a bottle.  It was like magic, he stopped crying and forgot about mom and dad.  Ha, awesome.

Throughout the chaos of Kian carrying on, I attempt to explain to the boys the process of covering one foot with paint while not getting paint on anything else.  That proved to be quite unsuccessful.  I think I might have overestimated the dexterity skills of children.  Oops.  We had a garbage bag on the kitchen floor to lay the fabric squares out, and plastic bags for each kid to stick their foot in, post paint.  I wouldn't say it was quite a "disaster" but it was definitely not an easy process.  The boys didn't always have the best aim with their feet and some were upset that their reindeer head wasn't centered like Brayden's was (at 8, he had pretty good aim for the center of the square).  I tried to turn that into a teachable moment about how its good to be different, it makes one's project special and it makes it yours, it'd be boring if they all looked the same, etc, etc.

After attempting to corral them into the bathroom to wash their feet, and after getting Kian to calm down, we moved on to the hands.  This process was a lot easier as it could be done at the table and they didn't need help for it.  After they were done and found out that's all there was for the project (as they need to dry before we glue on the google-y eyes, add the red noses, and before I sew them together), they were kinda bummed at how lame that was.  Then I told them to find something fun to do, and that we'd have bedtime snack in an hour (which would be at 7pm).

{this post might continue to be a bit lengthy...I apologize!}

So Langston starts coloring, Brayden gets frustrated because he can't get the game system he wants to play to work, and Benson is playing on his Leapster while I find a book and read to Kian.  All is going well, for the moment.  I ask the boys if any of them want to dance to the Christmas music with me.  None of them did, so I danced by myself in the kitchen.  Kian must have thought that was fun, so he joined me.  He at one point licked my left thigh.  Do jeans taste good to little kids or something?  It made me laugh.  Benson joins the dancing, but then wants to color like big brother Langston.

Langston and Benson get in a tiff about who gets to color what Transformer picture, blah blah blah.  I try my best to pacify.  Oh and earlier, Brayden was playing what I think was Wii Golf, and kept getting really mad at himself.  At one point, he had a turkey.  But after he missed one pin, he started getting really hard on himself.  He would restart the entire round if he missed only one pin.  He was really quite mad.  He said he wanted to get all 10 strikes.  I tried to explain to him that not everyone's perfect and that one should play to have fun.  He stated that he was not having fun, that he was trying but that it was impossible.  He said that yesterday he was awesome and that he was playing terribly tonight.  I know Brayden likes football and I started the topic of how even pro football players have "off nights."  He went into some story about Denard, who I am guessing is a football player, but yeah.  The story didn't really work and he continued to be frustrated.

So a bit before 7pm, I get out the cinnamon graham crackers and some peanut butter.  I put pb on some and leave some without.  I tell the boys its bedtime snack time.  They eat.  And eat.  And eat.  It's like they hadn't seen food in days, when we had just finished dinner at around 5:15.  My goodness.  Brayden says he wants to make liquid chocolate like mom does sometimes.  He told me how they melt chocolate chips.  I oblige and he starts the process.  Oh yeah, did I mention that at one point during the night, he grabs a rather large knife from the knife block to cut up a kiwi?  I only knew this because while I was trying to calm down the screaming Kian in the other room, one of the other boys tattled on him.  I'm glad they did!

Yes, so back to the chocolate chips.  Brayden puts some chips in a mug and starts microwaving.  I take the massive bag of chips away because he just kept pouring.  I turn my head for one moment and before I know it, he had added about another half cup of chocolate chips.  He said mom always uses two cups of chocolate chips.  Right Brayden.

After much chocolate melting and everyone seems relatively satisfied.  I announce its time to get ready for bed.  The three youngest go to bed around 7:30 and Brayden at 8.  Langston heads up first and as I am rounding up Benson and literally 30 seconds after Langston heads up, I turn the corner to head up the stairs and what do I see?  Langston is at the top of the stairs with his pants off, underwear pulled down and he is peeing.  Langston is literally peeing down the stairs.  The carpeted stairs.  Oh my goodness.  He claims it was an accident.  He didn't know he had to go to the bathroom.  Mm hmm.  Explain the impish grin then, I think to myself.  Ughh.  How am I going to explain that one to Rob and Lindsay? Ughhhhh...

So I get Kian's diaper changed and put him in bed with his favorite blanket that gets dragged around the house every day.  He screams, cries, and carries on for about a half hour before passing out.  I read a book to Benson and Langston.  It was reallllllly long but it was nice to stop thinking and just read.  I love reading out loud.  Then Langston reads a bit of his chapter book out loud and then it's off to bed.

I go downstairs to tell Brayden to start getting ready for bed.  He throws a fit saying that he earned 3 gold stars today which means he gets to stay up a half hour later.  I have no way to verify this so I ask him to go to bed and that I would talk to his mom and dad when they got home.  This is unacceptable to Brayden.  Thinking on my feet as best as I could before the 8-year-old melts down on me, I offer him a choice:  either go to bed now like I asked or stay up an extra half hour, but no screen time.  Screen time includes computer, TV, video games, etc..  He doesn't like this.  After some moaning and complaining, I'm frustrated so I start the timer on the microwave and say that he has one minute to decide.  The minute passes and without even speaking to me, he's mad, he gets a book and reads on the couch.  Eventually he heads to bed a bit after 8:15.

I head to my room because I'm still in my work clothes at this point.  Before I know it, someone is knocking at my door.  I say "just a minute" but that didn't stop Brayden from coming in.  Thank goodness I was wearing rather large grannie panties and still had my shirt on!  Haha.  Poor kid.  He says he can't sleep because he can't find two of his stuffed animals.  We locate one and after being unable to locate the other, I offer him my teddy bear.  He didn't want it.  At least I tried.  Now, they are all in bed and if not sleeping already, hopefully will be sleeping soon!

Phew.  I cleaned up the table, cleaned the paint off the kitchen floor, swept, and tried my best to undo the damage of the night.  I am exhausted.

Props to all the good parents out there!  You are all rock stars.  I'm still excited to by a mom someday, but WOW, not for a while.

I'll write more about the rest of my life later, like shooting guns for the first time and other items of fun, but for now...back to the dishes.

Love you all!

UPDATE:  Moments after publishing this post, Rob and Lindsay got home.  I started to fill them in on the night and warned them that the stairs might be wet and might smell like urine in case I missed some spots when cleaning it up.  Lindsay immediately gets Langston out of bed to talk about it.  Rob, Lindsay, and Langston talk for five or ten minutes and I'm washing dishes throughout this, hearing him whimper and I kind of feel like a tattle-tale in middle school or something.

A few moments later, I hear shuffling and Langston, head down, is approaching me.  After 15 minutes with coaching and support/frustration from Rob and Lindsay, Langston, teary eyed and embarrassed, apologized to me for being disrespectful and peeing down the stairs.  It was hard - for me!  Ha.  I say that only because he was kind of pitiful looking and he must have been terrified.  I mean, I'm an "adult' (or something?) and he was embarrassed because he knew that what he did was wrong.  Anyway, Rob and Lindsay are awesome.  They are just so incredibly awesome.  I am definitely learning some awesome techniques for parenting down the road someday, and for marriage too.  I am so blessed to be where I'm at right now.  Praise God for this family!  For opening their doors, and their arms, and welcoming me into their home and their family.  I praise you Lord for life's miracles!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My God is so good!

Whew.  It has been a couple of weeks since I last checked in.  Let me fill you in a bit.  When I last wrote, I filled you in on the escapade of my brief jaunt to California and the job offer that brought me back home immediately.

The job has started, today was the start of week two of training.  Thankfully I am training in first shift (9-4 or 8-5, depending on what our training schedule dictates).  It's nice to be working every day and feeling like a productive member of society, and working within my field.

My first two days last week I shadowed.  I was given my official headset for taking calls.  [A reminder for those who I might not explained this to - my job is basically to answer phone calls when anyone in the state of Michigan calls to report abuse or neglect of a child or a vulnerable adult.  I pick up the phone, ask and record all of the important details, names, dates, ages, bruises/signs of abuse or neglect, addresses, any possible detail concerning the alleged abuse/neglect.  My titles is "Centralized Intake Specialist" and I work for DHS CPS (Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services) in their office in Grand Rapids.]

So Monday and Tuesday me and my other two cohorts being trained for CI (Centralized Intake) were matched with different people and we basically just listened in like flies on a wall to the workers taking complaints and watched how they handled conversations, what kinds of questions they asked, and how they maneuvered the many complex computer programs/systems.  Fun!  And I'm not even kidding!  From what I've observed, it seems like it's going to be a great fit for me!  I get to talk to people, hear their story, listen for details, and organize it all in a report!  I love being organized, I love people, I love details - plus sometimes I get to do a bit of investigation/research on various families - which is interesting to me too.  I have good feelings about this.

Then on Wednesday we started the State mandated Child Welfare Training Institute.  In 2008 a children's rights group sued the State of Michigan and as part of that settlement, we have a pretty intensive and long training - which I am grateful for because I get to know the ins and outs of DHS-CPS.  The training is more geared for CPS workers, but it's been really interesting so far.

Wednesday and Thursday we focused on Forensic Interviewing (interviewing child victims) and then Friday was focused on interviewing alleged adult perpetrators to get their story - and hopefully the truth.  While it was all interesting and very informative - it was pretty rough and brutal at times as well.  Thursday focused on CSC (criminal sexual conduct) and we heard a lot of actual case studies.  Our trainer was a CPS Investigator for 12 years!  You have to be pretty darn tough to last that long in the CPS field, especially investigative!  So that was pretty brutal for me.  Then Friday was worse.  We focused on an actual child fatality that occurred in Michigan in 2004.  We saw video footage of the house where it occurred, as well as video footage of the perpetrator trying to explain away the death of the 4-year-old boy, and 26 photographs, most of which were different angles of the deceased and bloody innocent child after he had passed.  It was pretty horrific.  The girl sitting next to me seemed to be near tears for most of this part of the day.  I had to work really hard to not get emotional, but I did feel nauseous for most of the day.  Ugh... it just makes me sick what people are capable of doing to innocent children.  I won't go into the gruesome details because I don't really want to think about it too much, but it was quite gruesome, let me tell you that...

Then today (Monday) we discussed mostly Child Welfare Policy.  It was interesting and our teacher today was engaging and full of personality and spunk.  So I am excited to continue to learn from her.  She's feisty and I like it!  Haha.

So that's work.  I don't get my first paycheck for another couple of weeks, so that's kind of rough.  My parents and church from SJ has been super generous, as well as my church here in GR - Ada Bible Church.  Someone from the church I grew up in in St. Joe lent my parents a manual beater on it's last leg so that my parents would be able to lend me their dependable Jeep.  A fantastic Ada Bible staff (thanks so much Debbie Jo!) drove me to and from work a few times last week as well as Lindsay, John, and one of Lo's nursing friends, Annie - and now I have the use of the Jeep for a bit - so that has been suuuper helpful.  I am so truly blessed!  I have been looking into buying a car but until I have a paycheck or two or three under my belt - its not really something I can look into all that seriously.

Also - if you remember - I have free housing!  I moved in a little over a week ago (the Saturday before I started work) in with Rob and Lindsay Freidhoff and their four boys.  They are an amazing family!  I can gush about them for a long time.  Rob and Lindsay are so full of love and generosity and their faith and trust in the Lord oozes in their every action and word.  I am so incredibly blessed to be living with them.  They have four boys - 8, 6, 3 (almost 4), and 1.5  Such fun ages!  They are busy boys, but I feel like I am just one of the family and I love them all.  Lindsay and I have had some great conversations already.  One night we were up until nearly 1am just getting to know each other, and Lindsay was so encouraging yet wasn't afraid to tell me what she thought concerning different topics.  She's just so incredible and such a role model for me.  I'm loving living here and I feel like this is home and I have been here only just over a week!  Thank you God!

I can't end this post without mentioning my Johnny boy as well.  He is and has been such a huge support to me.  We celebrated 1.5 years together on October 23rd.  And what a wonderful 1.5 years it has been!  He is so good to me.  We are just so good together.  I definitely got spoiled living so close to him for so long (2 minute walk if you cut through a yard/two).  This past week we carved pumpkins during the week and then we hung out a ton over the weekend.  I got to go to my first college football game!  We went to Ferris State's game where John's cousin Alex plays.  It was fun to watch, plus I caught a t-shirt being thrown into the crowd!  Haha.  Yay free stuff!  (It's an XL so I'm going to have to sew it smaller, but who cares, it's free!).  So yeah, I know we're still going to have fun even if we won't see each other every day - and we'll cherish our time together more I'd imagine.  But it's still going to be an adjustment for sure.

You might have noticed that this post isn't including anything from the #abcntc.  I am unfortunately way waaay behind.  I have read a bit since my last post but I am a couple weeks behind.  I have the day off tomorrow and am hoping to get a good chunk read.  But I don't know how much that will actually be as I have to work on continuing to unpack and move in yet.  So we'll see how far I actually get.  I really enjoyed Jeff's sermon from this past weekend about keeping verses in one's satchel.  You should definitely watch/listen to it via the Ada Bible website.  It was really powerful for me as far as having certain Bible verses to fight temptation in different life scenarios!

On a side note - I was in an Ada video that they showed during a service one weekend.  It just so happened to be the weekend that I was in California and I didn't know I was in it until a bit later.  I contacted the guy in charge of media (he was my small group leader at one point) and he sent me the video.  I'm posting it so that you can see it too!  ...  Okay I tried to post it but am unable to figure out how.  If you want to see it - give me your email address and perhaps I can email it to you!  It wasn't all that exciting, it was just cool to know they used some of my footage!  Haha.  But anyway.

It is almost 9:30p.  I am hoping to Skype with JBaby in a bit and then head to bed.  I don't have to work tomorrow (apparently Election Day is a holiday!  Who knew?!) so that's nice.  Thanks for reading guys.  I appreciate you.  If you're in my life - or even if you're not necessarily in my life - I appreciate you.  You are loved!  Remember that.  Sometimes it's easy to get super discouraged and frustrated with life.  I can definitely attest to that!  But just remember that God is so faithful and if he can clothe the fields with beautiful wildflowers and take excellent care of the littlest birds - how much more does he care for you - his child!  He loves you so incredibly much.  Don't you ever forget it!

Let your light shine!  (Product of pumpkin carving with John!)

...And I will leave you with a verse that was encouraging to me when I was at Calvin.

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him for he is your lord.  [Psalm 45:11]