Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Joy in Being a Foster Family

A couple of months ago, by husband and I became foster parents for a beautiful baby boy. We have learned so much since that time, both from the baby, and from becoming licensed for foster care.

Allow me to backtrack.

A few years ago, our nephew moved in with us on a kinship placement foster situation. He was 17, and only stayed with us for a few months. While we had a temporary license, we hadn't go through the required 16+ hours of training. I really wish we had done so back then. I think our experience, and his, would have been much better. We learned so much about what to expect regarding traumatized children. And all foster children, even infants, are traumatized. They have been removed from their home and the people they know and love. Regardless of how unpredictable and damaging, and even dangerous their home's may have been, it was their home. It was all they knew, and they have been taken from it.

Jump to the present.

We were asked to take a relative's sweet little 2 month old for a weekend. He has now been with us for over 2 months, and we are grateful every day for this boy. We are so happy that he has been able to remain with family members. He still see's his maternal grandmother and grandfather, his sister, his aunt, and other family members.

I should make it clear that this placement may or may not be permanent. We would love to keep this boy that has brought so much joy into our lives, but the choice lays completely with his birth parents. His father doesn't seem interested in reunification, and has said as much. His mother has some things that she needs to work through in order to have the little guy back in her care.

The foster system is set up in such a way that reunification is the main goal when that will be best for the child. In most cases it is. In our case, adoption is a secondary goal, only if reunification with birth parent(s) isn't an option because they have chosen not to comply with the things necessary to show that the child would be in a safe, nurturing environment.

  • Are you free of drugs? If there has been a drug issue, the parents must test free of drugs, through random drug testing, for a period of time. 
  • Can you adequately parent? If neglect was an issue, parenting classes and/or a mental health evaluation may be ordered. 
  • Do you have a job? The parent(s) have to have income in order to financially support their children, 
  • Do you have a home? They must have adequate housing. Generally, this means paying rent on your own place, not staying with friends/family/boyfriend, It should be a permanent (or semi-permanent) place so that the child can feel secure. From what I have seen, crashing on someone's couch, without paying for your space often ends quickly with hurt feelings. 
  • Do you have transportation? This can be a reliable automobile or public transportation. In our case the parents were given bus passes, but didn't use them much. In fairness, Utah doesn't have the best public transportation. 

Other than showing up for court, and staying out of jail, I think that is it. Now those are things that most people can answer yes to. But for some, those things may seem so out of reach, that losing their children has become a possibility. For others, a reality. This makes me very sad for both the parents, and for the children that are inevitably traumatized. I am happy to be able to step in right now and help out one boy, while his mother tries to make some changes to her life that will help her to be better for him, and for herself.  

I know that more foster parents are needed all the time. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent in Utah, check out this website. It has been a lot of work to get here, but for our family, it has been an incredible blessing. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Check out my new company!

Jared and I have created a company that we will be launching in the spring of 2016.

We offer a complete garden, installed, for the busy homeowner who wants fresh produce, but doesn't have the time to get it started. 

Check it out. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

WWE and call your grandmothers!

This world tends to bring us positive and negative, sometimes in equal measure, but often not. Let's go over the good bits first!

Tyrel, Levi, and Chris are going to Wrestlemania! I have never loved the "sport", but my boys are hard core fans. Levi planned the whole event and they are all so excited. I am terrified! I don't love the idea of all of my children being on a flight together, and am tiring of the numerous nightmares of their fiery plane crash. Likely, they will be just fine, but I am fighting the urge to buy my own ticket and jump on that plane right alongside them. They are my babies! 

This will be Levi's first flight, and only Tyrel's second. Chris is an expert. Between his mission and his wonderful in-laws, he has traveled more than I have. 

Jared's new job!

My new job!

Jared and I both switched jobs since the last time I blogged. He runs all over town doing IT magic for medical facilities and lawyers and even a them hotel chain, and he loves it! I shuffle virtual papers for a team of fantastic engineers and even get to work from home occasionally. Work life is very good right now!

Now for the not so happy bits. My grandmother passed away a few months ago. She was the matriarch of a very large family, and we miss her very much. At the same time, we know that she is having a fantastic reunion right now with so many loved ones. Death, to me, has always been both a happy and a sad occasion. 

Grandma Uvonna Marie Duvall as a free spirited teenager
While I remain cancer free, my little sister Tiffany is not. What started as cervical cancer has spread to her brain, adrenal glands, and elsewhere. She is in the end stages of life right now, but is stubborn and is holding on as long as she can. Tiffany and I have never gotten along, which adds to the difficulty in my processing that she will soon not be here. She is in much pain and has suffered for so long. I do hope the suffering will end soon for her, but I am worried about how her children will handle it. The family will make sure their physically needs are met, but the emotional toll of losing a parent while young worries me.
Tiffany last year with her Storm wig :)

Update on my status: I still take 6-8 medications every day to deal with the side effects of having had cancer. I drink almost two gallons of water a day because I never regained my salivary function completely. I take water pills to shed all that water, and potassium and replenish what the water washer away. Synthetic thyroid, acid reducer, allergy pills to keep the swelling in my sinuses and throat down. I do not love taking so many pills every day. I took my self off of them last June and ended up in the ER on my birthday. Needless to say, I am taking them again. I have gained a LOT of weight post cancer, which is bothersome, but all in all, I am happy every single day! I have a great husband, kids and grandkids that I adore, and a stable life. We don't live forever, let's all make the most of the time we do have. Hug your loved ones. Call your grandmothers. Be happy. 

Me and my sweetheart
Grandkids at the aquarium

Mud room shoe storage

We have a small  bench inside the garage door where we tend to kick off our shoes, gloves, scarves, etc. Jared brought home a couple of discarded crates and I thought I could put them to good use.

One was missing a slat, so we went to a paint store and picked up a free paint stirrer, and nailed it on the back. You can't see it, and Jared got to play with his nail gun. Win win.

I had a sample jar of the red paint left over. I bought a sample of the grey-blue from Home Depot for less than $3, and alternated the stripes. 

They fit perfectly! But need a little something more...

I decided to personalize with some stencils I had and black tole paint. My children have a different last name than Jared and I, so I wondered about the Davis name, but the fact is, this is the Davis home, and our children and grandchildren are loved and welcome here. And so are their shoes :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy things

Dear Blog,
I have neglected you for almost two years. Forgive me.
So much has happened that I haven't had much time to breathe, let alone share those experiences on my blog.
The following is just a small part of what has happened since Jared and I said our vows at the beginning of 2015:
We sold our home in Provo and moved in with my sweet mother in law for 6 months while watching construction crews build our new home from the ground up. We are now living in American Fork and could not be happier with the location. We have a view of the lake, horses, and often deer.

I will post pictures of the finished product soon. We have been in the home for a year now and love it! I feel so very blessed right now.

Shortly after buying the house, Levi started having seizure issues again and had to take a few months off of work. He moved in with us, which eases this worried mother's mind, and has given him and Jared a chance to get to know each other better.

Tyrel moved in with us in July. It's been fun to get to spend weekends with him and his kids. I am so proud of Tyrel and loving father he has become. Here are the boys at a pinewood derby boy scout activity.

Chris and Debra are ready to start their family. I am hoping to get a few grand daughters in this mix of our male dominated family, but of course I will be happy with more grand sons too.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

First comes love, then comes 6 years of courtship...

After many years of being single, and a long courtship, I am getting married! I met Jared 6 years ago through mutual friends. Within a month or two I became infatuated. It took him a bit longer. We dated for a short time, but it soon became clear that our life situations were just too different to progress any further. Jared has never married and has no children, and I am divorced with kids, and even grandchildren. We both began seeing other people,  but remained friends and kept gravitating toward each other.

Not long after our initial dating and subsequent break up, I was diagnosed with cancer. Jared was there to provide comic relief during a very difficult time for me.

Just prior to Thanksgiving, Jared proposed to me, and I gladly accepted. We opted for a short engagement and are in the midst of planning a simple wedding and reception for 150 people. I say simple, because compared to a Kadashian wedding, it is simple, but it sure seems complicated to me. There are so many details and decisions to be made.

I try to be frugal wherever I can, and my wedding is no exception. I don't want it to look like I have skimped, but I can't see spending tens of thousands of dollars on a one day event. Some things I have saved on:

Jared's brother is a graphic artist, and he designed our invitations (I will attach one and you can see what a beautiful job he did). This is his wedding gift to us, so the design cost us nothing. We are having them printed out at a camera shop on nice glossy paper, so they will look professional. We are sending them in simple envelopes...who pays attention to the envelope? It will cost about $150 for 200 prints and envelopes, for a savings of about $100.

My mom bought me a dress for $399. It is gorgeous! It was strapless, which, as a pale ginger, I don't do well. The dress shop charges $320 (to start) for alterations. This is where they make the big bucks. I took the dress as is, and am having a capable seamstress who works out of her home alter the top for me. She will charge $150. She will also hem the bottom and add a bustle.

I was going to use silk flowers for the table centerpieces, but found that real flowers will actually cost less right now. I am having I Do Weddings do the catering, decorations, and flowers. They are charging $1400 total (with a $300 discount for paying her early). We are doing light food (ham and cheese sandwiches, veggie pasta salad, and nut cups. We are providing the nut cups.

We are having the reception in our local church building. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints generally builds their churches with a large gym that can be used for functions such as this. They do not charge anything for the use of them either. Most places around here charge 2 grand for a 4 hour rental. We will have many decorations to make the place beautiful, including backdrops, greenery, and flowers.

I checked out a few places looking for a cake. The average cost of a 3 layer cake was $275. I happened into a cupcake shop Cupcake Chic and noticed that they also make cakes. For $225 they are making me a 3 layer traditional cake, as well as a groom's cake (shh, Jared doesn't know). We have a friend who owns Garden Ninja Studios and makes custom wedding toppers. He offered to make a top for the groom's cake as a gift. For my cake, I waited until after Christmas to pick up an ornament stand, which we will paint white. I also picked up an ornament that is just a cursive letter D (for my new last name) in silver with faux diamond accents. This will hang from the ornament stand with a bit of ribbon. Total cost of the top: $4.25.

I am wearing keds under my wedding dress. No one will see them, and I will be comfortable all night. My two daughter in laws are my bride's maids, and are picking out their own dresses. I told them the colors (plum, light green, lavender, silver, and black) and am allowing them, as well as the mothers, to pick out their own dresses. I want them to be comfortable. We got tuxes for most of the men, but just matching ties for Jared's brother-in-law and my grandsons. The brother-in-law won't be staying for the whole night, and my grandson's wouldn't be happy in tuxes.

I have opted not to wear a veil. My hair is Jared's favorite thing about me and he would like to see it on the wedding day. I have a cousin who is going to beauty school and she has agreed to do the updo. I am going two weeks prior to the wedding to get a cut, color (with highlights), and practice updo, which will cost me $60 total. I will go back on the day of the wedding for the updo already knowing how it will look.

Wish me luck in this new adventure! I am excited and couldn't be more happy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why yes, I am going to eat these cheese fries.

In general, I am a very happy person. My hope is that my loved ones can find this in their lives as well. I see people focusing far too much on what money can buy, what foods they do or do not consume, and things that matter far less than family and personal growth. I see those I love drinking alcohol to the extent that they embarrass themselves and their families, partaking of drugs to the extent that they neglect their children and burden their parents, and spend money they don't have causing unnecessary distress.

There are things about me that I would love to change. I don't like that I've gained back all the weight I lost while going through chemo, but it is better than being chemo-weak, and I have a boyfriend who loves every bit of me. By the way, women, most men can't tell the difference when you gain or lose 10 lbs, so stop stressing so much about it. The only person who notices or cares is you and if you care that much about 10 lbs, you have other issue that you should take care of. For some people it is about control or vanity, both of which can be very dangerous for you, and for your loved ones. If you have children, realize that this is going to give them a skewed sense of what is important and can lead to eating disorders for them.

This weekend I will be praying much and asking to know what I need to change about myself, and for the skills to be able to do so. While I do realize that we need to take care of our bodies, I am fairly certain that my prayers won't be answered with "Tracy, you could stand to lose some of the weight you have packed on recently". After all, this body is temporary, but my consciousness/personality/character will be going with me when I leave this world.