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Can we talk about my shopping problem?

I just want to start by saying that my shopping problem is NOT.MY.FAULT.
No, really. Have you seen my kids?!? Well, okay, you probably haven’t. So you’ll just have to trust me when I say they are *utterly* freaking adorable!
So it’s totally not my fault that I am thoroughly addicted to finding new and adorable outfits that will ensure complete cuteness overload. It’s a public service, really. Unfortunately, SuperDad doesn’t share the conviction that showcasing my handsome boys is a moral imperative.
Also, I may or may not overshop – leading to having adorable clothing (with tags still intact) that they’ve never worn and have now outgrown. And (please!) don’t get SuperDad started on the unused, outgrown toys! In a perfect world, I would keep receipts forever in an organized, well-labeled filing system, and all stores would have unlimited return-policies. Until that world is discovered. we have…
 
***Swap.com***
Swap.com is an online consignment shop featuring baby and kids’ clothes, baby gear, toys and games, movies, video games and maternity clothes.

 

If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of hearing the husband complain about the space being taken up by unused clothing, toys, etc. Simply box up your unused items and send it in using the Swap.com-provided UPS shipping label (the $8.90 fee includes shipping and listing your items). Swap.com will sort and professionally photograph your items and then list them on your account. YOU set the price!
Swap.com only accepts items that:
– are clean, do not have stains or dirt, and are odor and pet hair-free
– are like new or at least in good working order and are complete with all components
– can be shipped via UPS package service (more details at criteria.swap.com)
And since buyers know that inspection and quality grading are done by professionals, they have more confidence in buying. Which means that items sell really fast on Swap.com. When your item sells, Swap.com collects the proceeds, ships the item to the buyer, and sends you the cash! Swap.com only takes a $1+20% commission on sales and your profits are automatically paid to your Paypal-account within 14 days. Best of all, because of low commissions and efficient logistics, you always get maximum value for your items.
And then, you can minimize the effects of over-shopping before the fact, by using Swap.com to find really great deals on new or gently used items from other families. 🙂 (Just don’t tell SuperDad that part of the plan!)
This article was published for Swap.com Kids’ Consignment. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
 

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Throwback Thursday – reflections on a young bride

I recently read an article on Lifehacker: 10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Planning My Wedding, which of course, caused me to reminisce about my wedding and the planning thereof. It also made me appreciate all the ways I’ve grown in the last 11 years and all the ways my life has changed. And to marvel at the things that haven’t changed.
 
When I got married: I hadn’t yet found my way to college… I had NO idea who I wanted to be when I grew up. 

Today: I have an advanced degree, my CPA license and a career that I love. 

 
When I got married: I ^knew^ I didn’t want kids. I laughed at people who said I’d change my mind and I avoided *at all costs* those obnoxious people that talk incessantly about their kids.

TodayI’ve been blessed with the most amazing kids a mom could ever hope for – I’ve become one of those obnoxious moms who talks incessantly about nothing BUT my children – because they’re just that awesome (did I mention Lil Bit found his feet last week? he was SOOO proud – almost as proud as Mommy).

 
When I got married: SuperDad was my best friend – and not just because he was the one person I knew I could count on to have back no matter what, but also in that there was no one on the planet that I ever wanted to hang out with more. We didn’t have a lot of friends, because we just enjoyed each other’s company enough that we didn’t need other people around. One of the reasons I ^knew^ I didn’t want kids was because we didn’t want to share each other with anyone.

TodaySuperDad is still my best friend – and I still enjoy hanging out with him more than anybody in the world. I LOVE parenting with him. I couldn’t have chosen a better man to be the father of my children. And I couldn’t have chosen a better rock, or partner in crime, for this crazy roller coaster.

The demands of parenting have caused us to drift a little bit from the fun, best-friend relationship, but I’m making a commitment today to figure out how to get back to that (hopefully he’ll join me in that commitment, or this could be awkward).

I have more friends now. Some really awesome women that I wouldn’t trade for anything – even the ones I don’t actually know in real life.

When I got married: I thought I had a loving and supporting family that would back me up and stand by me no matter what.

TodayI realize that was an illusion. But I’m grateful to be released from the strain of maintaining that illusion.


When I got married: I wasted way too much time and energy on what other people thought – whether they were happy and whether they approved of me.

TodayI’ve made a lot of progress on that. I am proud of who I am – and not willing to change my beliefs or principles to suit anybody. *I* like me – and if you don’t, that’s okay.

I still spend too much energy on whether people approve of me. Not just anyone, mind – which is an improvement – but the approval of certain people is still far too important to me. And while I do what I think is right, regardless of the opinions of others, the lack of some people’s approval can still be emotionally crippling to me.


When I got married
:
 I was terrible about asking for help. I thought if people cared, they would see what I needed and offer help.

Today: I’ve figured out that people aren’t mind readers and for the most part I no longer expect them to just offer help I haven’t asked for. 

I’ve gotten a little better about asking for help. But I’ve been hurt so many times by people that I thought I could count on that it’s still really scary for me.


When I got married
:
 I expected people to behave the way I would behave and was frequently disappointed when they didn’t.

TodayUm…. yeah… Does it count that I at least know now that I do that?

 
When I got married: I was a Christian. I was saved. But my faith had never been truly tested.

Today: I’ve learned that a faith that has been tested comes out stronger and purer and more comforting. I’ve learned to cherish comfort in the arms of the One who knew me before I was born.

I still sometimes struggle to remember to rest in the knowledge that He works for the good of those who have been called according to His purpose. But when I do remember, I know that I will find peace. 


When I got married: I think I took a lot for granted. I was so busy trying to figure out where I was going, that I don’t think I ever really stopped and appreciated where I was – in the moment.

TodayI still don’t have much patience (word of advice: NEVER pray for patience – because God doesn’t give you patience, He teaches you patience – and that lesson sucks), but I am truly grateful everyday for all my blessings. My life is pretty freaking wonderful.

Hint: It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.

Nothing’s ever easy (an update on Squirm)

I’ve been trying to write this post in my head for about a week… I haven’t really come up with anything I like, so we’re just going to see where this goes… Please excuse any vagueness – I feel like I need to be careful with what I share, since we’re in an ongoing legal situation.
I’m just going to lead with the bottom line: our family needs your prayers.
Squirm is free for adoption and we have been selected as his adoptive family (^you know, since he’s lived with us over a year & almost two-thirds of his life^).
Unfortunately, Squirm’s previous foster mom (PFM) believes he should be returned to her and is willing to fight as far and as long as it takes to get him back. We have retained an attorney and are mostly optimistic, but we know how screwy the foster care system can be, and we are confident that PFM has deeper pockets than we do….
A little more of the background than I’ve previously shared:

Squirm entered care in June 2012, when he was 5 weeks old. Based on his birth parents’ prior history with DCF, the assumption was that his case would go rapidly to adoption. In fact, he entered care with a concurrent plan – his birth parents were given reunification case plans, but he needed to be in a home that was willing to adopt him. So, ^naturally^, he was placed with a woman who wanted to adopt but (^evidently^) really wasn’t interested in actually fostering. He was her first (and only) foster placement.

I got a call in January 2013 asking if I would take an 8-month-old boy who was being moved ASAP because his current foster mom was interfering with reunification. I agreed to the placement primarily because my agency was in a bind and I wanted to help them out and only because we thought it would be a short-term placement going to reunification fairly quickly. I mean, ^who would rock the boat with a case that was likely to go to adoption???^

Because I had been pretty vocal about my opposition to Lady Bug going back to her dad, I was more than a little freaked out by the idea that a placement could be disrupted because of a foster parent interfering with reunification. Little by little, though, I was able to piece together enough information to know that PFM had done MUCH more than voice her opinion on the child’s best interests. I’m sure she meant well, but she definitely crossed some lines.

As a foster parent, part of my job is to support the case plan. Every year when my license is renewed, SuperDad and I have to sign a document acknowledging that responsibility and reaffirming our commitment to supporting the case plan. I also realize that my rights are VERY limited and I can accomplish the most by being a team player. PFM…. didn’t. She evidently didn’t realize that she couldn’t call the shots and she apparently didn’t realize she could advocate more effectively if she played nice. She definitely didn’t support the case plan.

So Squirm came to me on January 31, 2012. I won’t get into all of the details… because you don’t really care…. but I will say that his motor and social skills were significantly delayed when we got him, but he made RAPID progress once he was in our home – he was on-target for all his milestones by the time we’d had him a few weeks. The change was so pronounced that we submitted a statement for the investigation into the change of placement.

Because, yes, PFM contacted the governor and the state sent a team to investigate – they were here for something like 2 weeks. The interviewed everyone involved – including, I believe PFM. They read every document in the file. And they determined that the move was a good decision. I feel I should note that the investigation was soon enough after the move that Squirm would probably not have been seriously traumatized by reversing the move – AT THAT TIME. But the investigative team determined that the move was good, so we thought we were done with that chapter.

At some point, PFM petitioned to intervene in the case and was denied because Florida doesn’t allow a foster parent (^and certainly not a former foster parent^) to intervene in a case when parental rights are still intact.

On March 13, 2013, the judge ordered that the case plan be changed to TPR/Adoption and parental rights were finally terminated in December 2013. ^Somehow^ PFM knew the minute Squirm became available for adoption and applied to adopt him immediately.

Which pretty much brings you up to speed. Obviously we applied to adopt him, and the procedure when multiple parties petition to adopt a child is for DCF/CPC to convene a Selection Committee – which selected SuperDad and I. PFM has 30 days to appeal the Selection Committee’s decision, and she has stated that she intends to do so. I don’t know how far she can take this or how long she can drag it out since this seems to be fairly uncharted territory for everyone I’ve consulted.

You may remember that Squish came back to us on April 11, 2013 – since that time, with the exception of about 8 hours of visitation, 2 afternoons at the courthouse and maybe 2 doctor appointments, Squish and Squirm have literally been together 24/7 – they share a room, daycare class, nap time and anything else you can imagine. You may also remember that they are “twins” – obviously not biologically related, but Squish was born less than 7 hours before Squirm, in the same hospital (and Squirm is the only one of his many biological siblings to be born in this hospital). Splitting up these two boys would be tragic – everyone sees that but PFM – and I don’t think she cares.

I’ve been asked how PFM can possibly think that moving Squirm would be good for him…. I honestly don’t have an answer for that. My assumption is that her focus isn’t on what’s best for Squirm, but rather on what’s “FAIR” to her. I think that she feels she was mistreated and is trying to make a point, even if it’s at the expense of my son.

Hint: It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

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I HAVE to be good enough, because I AM his mommy

SPONSORED POSTThis post is paid for by the Ad Council. All opinions are my own.

If you’ve been following my story, you know I’ve wanted to be a foster parent since I was 8 years old. If you haven’t, may I suggest reading about how I got here from there.

When we were being licensed, we were asked if we had any racial preferences or objections. Nope, we said, we’re color-blind. We don’t care about that stuff at all.

Squirm @ 1st sightWhen we got the call for Squirm, his race didn’t phase me at all. Not a problem. We’re color-blind, right? Yeah. Then he shows up with the most adorable baby-fro. And I realize that I DON’T. HAVE. A. FREAKING. CLUE how to take care of his hair – hell, I honestly just figured out what to do with my hair about 5 years ago. Seriously.

So I did what any clueless white foster mom would do – I googled. Which may or may not have been the best first step. I spent the next 2 hours alternately clicking on random google results and poking/pulling at Squirm’s hair trying to determine whether his curls had a “Z” pattern when stretched or an “S”. I still can’t answer that question, but I ultimately decided that his hair falls somewhere in the range of 3b to 4a. Whew! With that question (sort of) solved, I can now turn to what the experts (and by experts, I mean the next 5 random google results) suggest as the go-to product for 3b to 4a hair.

Let me just interrupt myself here to say that while I laugh about this whole process now, at the time I was literally frantic to get to THE.RIGHT.ANSWER. – RIGHTNOW! You see, I was convinced that this was my MOST.IMPORTANT.TEST. as a transracial parent (ha!) and that if I didn’t figure out the best way to care for his hair IMMEDIATELY then the whole world would know that I was a complete failure as a parent and he would be scarred for life. I just kept telling SuperDad – “I don’t him walking around looking like he has white foster parents!!”

So.. what guidance did the next 5 random google results offer? About 15 different opinions about the best and worst products to use on his hair, many of which would list a product as the best and then in the next paragraph describe it as the worst…

Now, if you’ve ever cared for ethnic hair, you’ve probably fallen out of your chair laughing at me by now. If you haven’t, let me just tell you that my sweet baby boy requires 4 different hair care products, to be used at different times during the week. There’s a daily leave-in conditioner/styling aid to make his curls pop. There’s the weekly (Wednesday) shea butter shampoo and restorative conditioner, and the weekly (Sunday) co-wash conditioning cleanser because his delicate hair can’t be washed more than once a week.

But again, I digress. Where was I? Oh! trying to google the single right hair product for my bouncy baby-fro. After another hour fretting in front of the computer trying to decipher a consensus, I despaired that google didn’t have the answer after all – but then I remembered seeing the ethnic hair care section at Wal-Mart.

So I convinced SuperDad that we must load up Squirm & Lady Bug and go to Wal-Mart immediately. Yes, all of us. If you have any experience with infants, you know that it took approximately 3 days to get everyone dressed, diaper-bagged, loaded into the car and then unloaded at the store. We made a beeline for the ethnic section to find….

 

HOLY-MARY-MOTHER-OF-WHAT-THE-HELL-AM-I-SUPPOSED-TO-DO-NOW?!?!?

So I did what any slightly anxious completely panicked mom would do – I grabbed the first person of color I saw and pleaded for help. It happened to be a teen-aged boy just cutting through the aisle with his friends.

Nevertheless, I stepped in front in him with my hand up, said “Excuse me, I have a strange question. I am a foster mom, and this gorgeous little boy has just been placed with me – I don’t have a clue what to do with his hair, can you please help me?”

Luckily the teenager was amused, rather than offended. He also wasn’t much help. He smiled, handed me a brush (for straightened hair) and gestured at the olive oil products and made his escape.

As soon as he was out of sight, I realized that my time spent frantically googling and my instincts could tell me more about caring for my biracial infant’s hair than a teenager with a fade. That gave me my first shot of confidence in my ability to parent this child and I picked out some items that seemed promising. 

We don’t actually still use any of the products that I picked up that day – they were really pretty awful. But I’ve done more research, experimented a little and (thank God) found the natural hair care section at Target. If you’re wondering, that stuff on the top shelf is awesome! 

Don’t get me started on the skin-care consternation, but we figured that one out, too.

I panicked again when I attended a transracial parenting lecture and realized that I hadn’t even begun to realize the challenges we will face. I was frequently completely convinced that there had to be a better home for him – because I was simply not equipped to do him justice. I’m wasn’t good enough to be this precious boy’s mom.

But the bottom-line is this: 

I HAVE to be good enough – because I AM his mommy.

AdoptUSKids has a great new initiative: “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” There are over 100,000 children in foster care ~right now~ waiting for forever homes; 31,000 are between the ages of 11 and 17. And they need you. I can’t count how many times someone has said to us, “I would love to adopt or foster, but I’m just not strong enough.” SuperDad and I have two responses to that:

  1. How do you know until you try?
  2. You have to be, because they need you.

These kids don’t need or expect perfection. They just need someone to care. They deserve to feel loved and wanted and to know that they belong to someone.

Before I get hate mail about saying we were color-blind, I’m intentionally speaking the way we thought before coming a transracial family, in an effort to illustrate just how cavalier we were about the whole thing.