Foster Children

Our first Christmas as foster parents…

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I wrote this while we were living in Turkey… we moved there from Colorado Springs and I was missing our foster kids.  I’m going to write about that experience as we go along, but here is a glimpse into what it was like with our first foster child.

Our “Extra” Child Christmas

It had been a crazy, chaotic, but wonderful six months in the Feeser house in Colorado Springs, CO. We had completed our foster parenting paperwork in June, and got a call the very next week about a boy. He was already at the DHS (Department of Human Services) office, and they wanted me to come get him. I loaded up my own boys, Price(4) and Wesley(1), and we drove over. When I first saw him I fell in love. He had straight, blonde hair that stuck out from his head in all directions, scared and confused blue eyes, and the cutest little nose that I can still see three years later when I close my eyes. He was holding a backpack bigger than his nearly three year old body, and holding a blanket that the DHS worker had given him. My kids were so excited that a new boy was coming to our house, and we soon had him loaded in a car seat and on our way. They played all afternoon together and I had dreams of how easy and great this would all be.

Of course, the “newness” wore off, and he began to act like the little boy he was. A sweet little boy who had been neglected for most of his three years. He wanted to be loved by anyone who would, and in turn, he loved everyone he saw. He was always shy and apprehensive at first, but after just a few minutes he would feel comfortable and come out hugging everyone.

We had more foster children come and go during those first six months with *Ethan, but when Christmas came, it was just him. We had already decided to just make him as much a part of the family as possible, so he participated in everything we did, and we loved him just like our own. We also knew that the time was drawing closer and closer that he would be taken from us and sent to live forever with his grandmother in another state. I tried to make everything about that Christmas as special as possible, and I tried to sear the memory of everything we did in my mind so I would never forget it. I always take pictures anyway, just of everyday things (even random butterflies and sunsets), so I have many pictures to look back on that time and remember.

We didn’t do anything that year that we wouldn’t normally do, but there was still something more special about it all. We tried not to buy him more things just because he was leaving us soon. We tried not to let him get away with bad behaviors just because he wasn’t going to be around next Christmas.

Christmas morning was a special time that I will never forget. He came into the living room and saw the tree with all the gifts around it. He just stopped and stared. Price, our oldest son, who knew what this was all about, ran straight to the tree and started asking which pile was his. But Ethan just stood there and looked. He had never gotten anything from Santa that he could remember, and wasn’t sure that anything was for him. I went over to the tree with Wesley (who had just turned two) and led Ethan to his pile of toys and clothes from Santa. His face lit up when he realized it was for him, and he never stopped smiling as he and the other boys played with everything they had gotten.

Just two weeks later, I packed up all those toys and clothes and everything else he’d gotten in the six months he was with us, and I loaded him up on an airplane with his grandmother to move away from us forever. He hasn’t been with us physically for a Christmas in three years, but those sweet blue eyes and spiky blond hair are in my memories every Christmas morning.

*his name has been changed for protection purposes.

  • It’s been 7 years now since he left us, and his picture hangs in the hall with the rest of them.  I know when his birthday is still and I think about him more than I thought I would.  I think of them all… can tell you all of their names and birthdays.  Tell you what I loved most about each of them and what drove me craziest! 🙂  They are mine… at least part of them is… and part of me will always be theirs…

 

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Will You Marry Me? – Part Two

The proposal…

If you missed Part One, you can find it here!! 🙂

So… we hung out Halloween night and spent a lot of time talking.  This is where I’m unsure what happened next.  I’m not sure if we exchanged numbers at this point or not, but somehow he was invited to my house to watch movies.

  • We need to take a break here so I can explain that my house (aka a trailer!) was a place that lots of people gathered to hang out.  I bought the trailer when I transferred to UAM (University of Arkansas at Monticello), and I lived there with different people over the next 3 years.  Carly, my cousin… Sara, a (non-traditional student I randomly met in Priscy’s Video store in Hamburg)… and Stacey (she only lived with me for a little while, but not long).  Sara was called a “non-traditional Student” because she was already in her 20’s and we thought it was hilarious, so we called her that all the time.  Anyway, I’m not even sure who all lived in my house at this time, but I think it was Carly and Sara.  The point was that we always had people over all the time for movies or just to hangout, so I made sure Ron (cute dude) was invited one night not long after Halloween.

Okay… so he comes over to the house and we do the normal flirty things that teenagers who are pretty shy always do.  We held hands on the couch surrounded by tons of other teenagers who were pretending not to notice that we were holding hands! 🙂

After the movie, he hung out a little longer than most of the people.  I walked him outside and he actually TOLD me he was about to kiss me.  He wasn’t the first guy to announce the kissing thing, so maybe it’s not as weird as I think, but he was just so sweet about it, and I think that’s when I fell in love.  I remember thinking how soft his lips were… 🙂  Okay… that’s enough about that, so we’ll jump forward a little… he left and I ran back inside waking everyone up to tell them I had just gotten a kiss!! 🙂

Writing this and thinking about it makes me think that I was more of a normal teenager than I thought I was.  Oh, and I keep saying teenagers, but I was already 20 and he was 21.  It’s okay… I was still acting like a teenager, so it’s okay! 🙂

The next couple of months are a blur… I know that somewhere in there I had about a million moments of fear and suspicion.  I was just the most insecure person in the world.  I kept waiting for the phone call saying that he had found someone else (that happened to me before).  I kept waiting for him to break up with me the whole time.  We spent so much time together and when we weren’t together I was constantly wondering who he was with.  I don’t think he knew that I was worried about this.  I mean, I didn’t call him all the time or stalk him or anything, but I was trapped inside my own head and so scared the other shoe would drop at any moment.

I was starting to feel a little better about our relationship at Christmas time.  I had already met his parents and grandparents (I’ll tell this story another time).  He gave me diamond earrings (I have no idea what I gave him… maybe a book).

Well… I don’t need to spend any more time trying to express the amount of relationship anxiety I had during this time, and really probably throughout the first years of our marriage, but it would be redundant.  I spent a lot of time worrying about things that weren’t even worth worrying about.  I think this might be a theme for the beginning of my adult life.  I’m still working on this, but I’m sooooo much better! 🙂

So… it is spring break 1999… We took a trip with the MBSF to help a church do a vacation bible school.  I was so excited because I just knew the proposal was coming anytime.  We had discussed marriage and we had talked about rings and I just knew it was coming any time.  So I spent the whole week feeling really neglected because he was being a great bible school teacher/counselor and playing in the snow, and I spent the whole week being anxious and waiting to be proposed to.  I was so sad and depressed all the way home because I was so disappointed.  I thought he was just going to break up with me.  Gosh… my now-self wants to tell my then-self to just stop it!  I was so much more dramatic than I ever would’ve thought about myself.   The story is that he wanted to propose during out trip, but the ring wasn’t ready yet, so he didn’t want to propose with no ring.  I spent a lot of time worrying about nothing… (this also is a theme of my adult life).

March ends and it’s Easter Sunday.

  • We can pause right here again to say that my grandfather died on Easter Sunday morning before I was born.  He went to church that morning and during the church service, he had a massive heart attack and died right there in church.  Needless to say, Easter Sunday wasn’t ever a great holiday in our house.

Easter Sunday morning.  I had stayed with Ron’s parents.  Any time I stayed there, I slept in his bed and he had to go somewhere else.  Either his brother’s room or the couch.  So anyway, I’m sleeping and he comes in and wakes me up to give me an Easter basket.  I’m pretty sleepy, but I sit up and begin to open the basket and see what’s inside.  The ring box was in the basket and he was already on one knee when I found it in there.  The proposal was awesome and I was so excited!! I couldn’t wait to get married.

He had talked to my parents ahead of time, so they knew it was happening.  When I called my mother she told me that my daddy was so happy that it was done on Easter because now he has a good memory to help with the bad memory.  The proposal could not have been better…

Part Three – WHEN do we get married??

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Will you Marry Me? – Part One

How we met…

I wondered if he was EVER going to ask me to marry him… and I’d only known him four and a half months.  CRAZY!!  Let’s go back a little….

I was 20 years old, and thought I knew everything.  Well… I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I was going to continue in college and get my English degree, then I was going to go overseas and teach English as a second language.  My husband would be a missionary and I would teach English and we would live in some third-world country and be surrounded by lots of our babies and babies we had adopted from the country we were living in.  I’d be able to speak whatever language was spoken by the people there, and we would live happily ever after.  Spreading the story of Jesus and working together to improve the lives of other people.  THIS was the dream of my 20 year old self.  THIS is what I thought God had planned for me.

I was at a bible study in the beginning of the school year in 1998.  I was there with my boyfriend (Let’s call him Joe).  We had been dating only a couple of weeks, I think.  He worked at a car shop where they installed windows in cars and trucks.  My window had some scratches, so he told me I could get a new windshield and I wouldn’t have to pay anything because insurance would cover it.  I don’t know why I remember this because I’m not even sure that’s what happened, but I know I took my car there and I got a new window.  When I came to pick it up, he was introducing me to some of his co-workers.  I guess it’s safe to say it was common knowledge that I had a “type”.  I liked bald heads and goatees.  Joe and I had been friends for a while before we started dating, so I’m sure he knew this about me.  There was a large group of us who hung out quite a bit during this time, and I’m sure they all knew this about me.  So… Joe, who didn’t have a bald head or a goatee, thought it was really funny to point out bald guys to me and ask if I thought they were cute.  He wasn’t doing it out of jealousy or anything like that.  Really, I think we were just better as friends, and now that we’d added kisses into the mix, we were just friends who kissed each other.  Where was I, oh yeah… I was picking up my car from the shop and he’s showing me around.  His boss, probably in his late 50’s, was bald and had a goatee… Immediately, I suspect what’s coming as we walk up.  Joe introduces us and then says TO HIS BOSS! “She likes bald guys with goatees… don’t you?”  Gesturing to me!! I was so embarrassed, but I just laughed and didn’t really answer him.  I got over it pretty quickly I guess because I’m not even sure I said anything to him about it afterwards.  I just thought he was weird to bringing that up all the time.

So, now back to the bible study group.  Joe and I walk up and I notice immediately that there is a new car in the parking lot with an Atlanta Braves license plate (I love the braves, so this caught my attention).  I also notice there are a few new people in the buidling when we walk in.  I’m a junior now, and I assume that the new people must be Freshmen.  I also notice that one of them is bald… with a goatee… he is hot!  But I’m with Joe, so I just appreciate that he’s cute and move on.  Not Joe… he walks over to introduce himself, calls me over to introduce me, and then… he did it… he said “she likes bald guys with goatees!” I turned right around and walked over to the bible study leader to ask some random question to get away from Joe and Cute Dude!

After the bible study we were all sitting around talking and I found out he was a junior also and had been living at the Wesley Foundation (The building right next door!).  He was a business major, and that Atlanta Braves car did belong to him.  Okay… he’s got a lot going for him, but I’m with Joe.

Beginning of October 1998 (a couple of months later)… Joe and I break up, and now we are friends who no longer kiss… Neither of us are very sad about this.  I know I’m not, and I know he’s not because the day he told me he wanted to break up with me I went to a concert and he was there with another girl.  At least he told me a few hours before he went out with someone else.  Anyway… I’m not bitter at all… really….

Halloween night 1998 – I was a peanut M&M and my cousin, Carly, was a plain M&M… or I was plain and she was peanut.  It doesn’t matter… what matters is that same car was in the parking lot of the MBSF (Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship).  I was excited about doing our canned food drive that night (Food Bank-o-Ween), and excited to be hanging out with my cousin/best friend.  We were getting settled in the trailer and ready to be driven around when Cute Dude walked up.  He was dressed as Stone Cold Steve Austin (if you didn’t watch WWF/WWE during this time, you should probably google him.  He was bald… with a goatee…)  So we talked the whole time, and I had so much fun…

We will finish part two with the proposal… unless I ramble too much, then there will be a part three to this story! 🙂

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Teaching – Part One

New job… day One!

Let’s review this timeline in case we want to go back and see what music was popular during this time in my life 🙂

July 1999 – I got married and was taking summer classes to finish my degree

2000 – I had graduated from college and was living in a tiny town in Northeast Arkansas (near West Memphis) where Ron was preaching at his first church and attending seminary in Memphis.

2001 – I tried the whole “stay-at-home-wife” thing, but it just wasn’t working for either of us, we were trying to get pregnant on our own at this point (meaning, no fertility treatments), and I HAD to do something to get out of the house.  This is where today’s story begins…

I’ve always liked teaching, so that seemed like a natural thing for me to do as I found myself living about three hours from my parents with not much to occupy my time (you can only watch French Kiss so many times), so I headed to the local public school.

I didn’t care what subject I taught (although I preferred English, since that’s what I knew most about), but I just wanted to teach.  I went into the office (there was only one office for the Kindergarten through 12th grade because the whole school system was in one location — I told you it was tiny!)  I asked about a substitute position, and they told me that they had someone who was substituting now until they found someone to fill the position full time.  I asked what subject and grade and was told it was high school English.  This seemed fortuitous and maybe predestined, so I accepted it.  There was no application process, no interview except for a quick one with the superintendent of schools after I said I would take the job.  It was about lunch time when I was finished talking with him, and he told me I could join the afternoon classes and meet some of my students before I took over the class in the morning.

This is where I tell you that this was the FIRST day of school for the year.  So the kids were having their first day at the same time as me, and I had NO summer planning time or anything.  The superintendent’s secretary told me that there were books in my classroom and I could bring them home and start my planning.

I took exactly ONE education class in college.  We got to the part where we had to make lesson plans and those types of things, and I quit.  I dropped out of the only education class that I had and majored in English… not education… for this very reason.  And now I’ve stepped right into a job that requires the very thing I dropped a class because of… so I’m super excited! 🙂

Lunch is over for the students and the superintendent walks me into the high school building to meet the principal.  We’ll call him Larry because he will feature prominently in my teaching stories.  Larry seems friendly enough, and pleased to have a permanent teacher for his English class.  So he leads me down to my classroom.  We have to walk all the way through the main building and out to a smaller building at the end.  There are four rooms in this “extra” building (not counting the bathrooms), there is the band room, the high school science room, junior high English room, and my room… the last room in the last building on campus.

We walk in just as the kids are coming into class.  I quickly learn that this is my 11th graders.  They are the only class big enough to be split into two classes for English.  I will have one class of 11th graders who will come 2nd period, and then the rest of them will come right after lunch for 5th period.  If you didn’t have a school with seven periods a day, go find a history book or google is and see how things used to work! 🙂  I know they still have it in some schools today, but most of them have changed the way the day is scheduled.

Anyway, I meet the substitute teacher.  A VERY nice woman whom we will call Pinky.  I ended up growing quite close to her and her daughter (who happened to be in this class).  She tells the kids to sit down and maybe assigns them something to do, but I don’t really remember.  I remember thinking they were really loud, and feeling overwhelmed that I was going to have to get them to sit down and listen to me teach them.

Pinky sat with me at the teacher’s desk and got out all of the books I would need.  I was looking through the books and feeling even more overwhelmed as it really began to sink in that I would be in charge of teaching a lot of children every day.  My schedule looked like this…

  • 1st period – planning (this came in handy when I wanted to sleep late… I had first period off… it was a pain though that I really had NO break for the whole school day)
  • 2nd period – 11th grade English (only 9 students in this class!)
  • 3rd period – 12th grade English (the entire senior class had about 22 students)
  • 4th period – 10th grade English (the entire 10th grade came to this class… around 25 students)
  • 5th period – 11th grade English (the rest of the junior class… 28 kids… the bane of my existence)
  • 6th period – Speech (yeah… I had to teach speech… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th period just stayed for speech)
  • 7th period – Journalism (umm… really??  Again… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th and 6th just hung out)

I had about 11 or 12 of the same students from 5th through 7th periods… I enjoyed having some of them all afternoons, but some of them were just stuck with me because no one else wanted them.

What does this mean as far as planning goes?  I had FIVE different lesson plans to do for EACH DAY!!

So… I’m sitting at the teacher’s desk, next to Pinky, looking over the teacher’s guides for my classes and trying to block out the noise from the students.  It finally gets too loud and I look up to see Pinky pulling two children apart!! She’s not that big to begin with… well… she’s not that tall!  And she is pulling these children apart and yelling at them for trying to fight “on the first day of school”.

The kids were screaming and cussing at each other and still trying to fight, and I sat at the desk, uncomfortably staring at the scene in front of me… I should’ve run out right then and never looked back…

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who am I?? – Blogger

I write… and write…

I’m a writer.  I have been a writer my whole life, but I’ve never written anything.  I mean to say, I’ve never published anything, or had anything published, or however the correct way to say it is.

I’m hoping to change all of that soon.  I’ve started taking a writing class.  One of the first suggestions was to start a blog where I can just write and write and write.  So that’s what I’ve done.

I think I want to write short stories.  I’m not sure that many people have that aspiration, but I know I don’t have the patience to write a novel (I’ve actually tried that on more than one occasion).  I have the idea, but stretching it out into 80,000 words or something is just not doable for me.  I lose the thread of the characters or I try to put too many characters in and I just get tired of it.

That may be the same reason why I only like to crochet small projects… I need to change often, so I can’t get stuck doing the same thing for too long or I can’t stand it anymore.

So… Short stories… I’ve written these my whole life.  I remember as a kid, probably around 3rd or 4th grade, that I would ask my mother to give me the title of a story, and then I would write about it.  I didn’t care what it was at all.  Part of the excitement was to make up the rest of the story around whatever title she gave me.  I wish I had some of these, as I’m sure they were pure 8-year old genius!! 🙂

Anyway… I’ve written a couple of really short pieces as an adult, and I’ll be sharing those as we go along here, but I’m also going to be sharing my new stuff that I’m writing.  And some of the exercises from my online class.  So feel free to let me know what you think.

I’ll be starting an online group of “critics” also, so if you want to be added to read my stories and give me advice/criticism about them, then I’d be happy to add you.  Or you can just comment here on the ones I share and let me know what you think.

My daughter is reading a series of books written in poetry form, but all revolving around the same story.  All the poems together tell the story of the novel.  I’m thinking about maybe doing that.  Like a series of short stories revolving around the same people or the same themes.  Then putting them all together in a book.  I’ll see as I go along, and I’ll also be submitting the stories to magazines for publication.

So… because I’m a writer, I’m now also a blogger!  And I’m very glad you joined me on this journey of mine!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who am I?? – Teacher

I teach, therefore I…

So that English degree that I told you about in another post is used still today (although I joke that I don’t use it at all!).  I use it especially when I read Facebook posts where the grammar is horrific!! And especially memes… I don’t care what the point of the meme is, if they can’t use the correct form of your/you’re and their/there/they’re, I can’t focus on what it’s saying!  I just can’t.  I realize that sometimes people make an accidental mistake and they actually know the difference, and I can overlook it in a text or something else that is quickly written and maybe being read by one person, but if you are making a meme there are two rules you should follow:  1. Is everything spelled correctly?  2. Is my grammar correct?  That’s it… if those two things are good, then I’ll check out your meme and laugh about it… otherwise, I’ll scroll on past while I shake my head and the lack of thought that went into it… and please don’t share memes that don’t have those two rules either.

Okay… all of that sounded snobbish, and while it is actually what I think, I never say anything about it.  I just don’t tell people when they’ve made grammatical errors.  One of my favorite English professors in college said this about correcting people’s grammar.  She said, “I don’t correct grammar unless the person is my child or a student in class.  You shouldn’t do it either because it really is none of your business.  No one will talk to you after you correct them either for fear that they will say something to bring about your wrath.  So just mind your own business and don’t do it!”  I’ve followed that rule since she said it.  I hadn’t thought that maybe my friends and family members didn’t like it when I told them they should say that “the bike is BROKEN” instead of “the bike is broke”.  So now I only correct my children, and since they’ve grown up listening to me MOSTLY use correct grammar, then it isn’t as much of an issue.  I do still think it, but I can’t really help that part, and I do a great job of keeping my mouth shut about it! 🙂

One more thing about grammar, and then I promise to get on to the “teacher” part of this post! 🙂  If you think someone (usually someone online) is being stupid or acting like an idiot… please, please, please… just don’t say anything! 🙂  We all know that’s the correct response.  Just be nice to them or don’t respond to them at all.  HOWEVER, if you just HAVE to say something and tell them how dumb you think they are… don’t say “your an idiot!”  The “idiot” might not get the mistake, but the majority of the people who read this will likely think that maybe you are the idiot… BUT… just don’t say mean things period… this also applies if someone is amazing!!  “your amazing” is still incorrect… 🙂  So don’t do that either!

Okay… I graduated from college and became a stay at home wife.  I thought I’d be great at this job because I’d have all day to decide what we would eat for dinner and to clean the house and have everything perfect.  That’s when I discovered a few things about me…

  1. I don’t enjoy cooking.
  2. I HATE to clean.
  3. I like to watch movies.
  4. I like to do crafty things.

None of these things are good qualities listed in whatever job description we all hear about when talking about being  a housewife (don’t like that term!), so I sucked at this.  (I still do actually, and it’s been 16 years!)

I wanted to cross-stitch and watch movies while I did it.  I didn’t want to clean this gigantic house that I was having problems living in because all the bedrooms made me realize that I wanted babies in them and that wasn’t happening.  I just didn’t know what to do.

My husband (who is a MUCH better housewife than me!) suggested I see about substitute teaching at the local high school.  This will have to be a whole other blog series because this school was CRAZY!!! I did teach, for one year.  That’s all I could take… in that one year, I was subpoenaed to court to testify against the principal who was arrested TWO different times during that school year.  I saw children doing things that I had only just started doing since I had just gotten married.  It was just out of control, and I’ve just decided to make this my first blog series after Who am I??

After that job, we moved and I got pregnant.  Price was born and we were living so close to Hamburg (where I grew up), and my old principal when I went to school there was now the superintendent of schools and he told me there was good chance I would get a job at my old high school, if I wanted it.

I tried to do the stay-at-home-mom thing, now that I was officially a mom, but I stunk at that too.  It still involved all the same “requirements” as a housewife, only now I had a baby to deal with on top of it.  The “baby” was now 18 months old and I decided teaching again seemed like a good idea.

I LOVED being back at my old high school.  I was in the teacher’s lounge hanging out with my old teachers.  It was awesome… and surreal!  That school year was weird though because I didn’t actually have a classroom, I had a cart! 🙂  I’ll post more about that later too… I got pregnant again while I was teaching there and decided that with a toddler and now a baby on the way, I really wanted to stay home with them.  I loved being a mommy and didn’t like that I didn’t get to see Price all day while I was teaching.

We moved to Colorado Springs when Price was 3 and Wesley was 8 months old.  Ron was officially on active duty in the Air Force, and I was staying home with my babies.  I loved it.  I decided that homeschooling was going to be the best way for us to be able to do all the things we wanted to do.  I wanted to travel and we wanted to be able to go home and visit whenever we wanted to.  These things would be made easier by homeschooling, and i figured if I could teach 25-30 high schoolers, then I could teach one on one with my own kids.

I’ve been teaching them for 8 years, and it’s looked different from time to time.  I’ll write more about the ways in which we’ve home-schooled throughout the years and how it looks for us as an ever-evolving entity.  It’s the best decision for our family, but I know it’s not the best for everyone.  This is another area where I try to keep my mouth shut and answer questions when I’m asked, but not butt in when I’m not asked.

I am a teacher, and I love to teach.  Not just my children, but bible studies at our church (I’m about to start a new one), new foster parents about how the “system” works in whatever state we happen to live in.  I love giving information to people and seeing that moment when it clicks in their brains or when they connect it to something else they’ve learned.  It’s a great feeling…

Now go teach someone something… I know you know something that someone needs to know or would love to know!  And for those grammar police out there… see how many run-on sentences you can spot in this post… it’s really the only way I write because it’s the way I speak… run-on sentences and stream of consciousness!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda