Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Brief Spotlight

So sue me. I love candy corn. I also love their cousins, pumpkin cremes. I thought Amelia would never fall asleep last night. When she finally did, I left her and Ray snoozing and went to Winco for the beloved candy that I must eat at this time every year. I had such a sudden hankering for it. Imagine my surprise when I got to the bulk bins and found NO candy corn anywhere. Only their sisters, harvest corn, which for some reason does not appeal to me (candy corn with the brown bottom, not yellow.) They always taste a little stale, and not unlike fake chocolate. So I scraped the bottom of the barrel to get the remainder of the pumpkin cremes, sadly check the pre-bagged candy aisle to make sure there was not candy corn there, and went to pay. Can you believe the entire stock of candy corn in that store was gone?? It tells me one thing and one thing only: while so many joke about candy corn as not being worthy to be an A-list candy, more people like it than will dare admit it.

Are you one of them?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ode To Wendy On Her Birthday

In true Greenbaum fashion, here is an ode to my little sister, Wendy, on her Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Wendy!!!

First, let's honor her with some photos.

Then (age 4, I think):

Then (age 6, I think. Wow--from blonde to brunette in 2 years!):

Now (blue sweater):

Wendy, Wendy, you're my sis.
How many years 'til you're 36?
Four more, four more, that's how many,
But by then I will be 40!

Wendy is a sweet, little dear.
She makes friends both far and near.
She would never hurt a fly.
Only spiders...they must die!

Salmon, garlic spaghetti, and a salad,
All these things are good on my palate.
Wendy sure can cook this meal.
Call her, visit her, she's the real deal!

I love you, Wendy!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Carolina Blue

I just got back from North Carolina. They say that its famous for its blue skies, so you see in the photo. It is blue! Probably because of the billions of trees! I spent the last week with my in-laws seeing the sites. I had a great time! I traveled out there with Ray's sister Michelle and we stayed with Ray's parents who live near Lincolnton/Lake Norman, 45 minutes north of Charlotte.

Michelle, Ray's mom Loneta, and I drove two hours to Asheville to see the Biltmore Estate. It was beautiful and much bigger than I had even imagined. No pics allowed inside, but here are some outside, including one with a view behind the estate.

I couldn't understand why Loneta seemed to be rushing through the tour of the house. Once we got down to the gardens and greenhouse, I saw why. Between the two, the gardens / greenhouse were my favorite! So amazingly beautiful.

And my favorite flower that day...the Chinese Lantern:

Here is the walkway down, with luffa gourds hanging down. I was tempted to pick one (there were so many!) to make a luffa for the shower.

From Asheville we went north to Tennessee. Loneta had tracked down some distant cousins of Ray's dad (Ben) and a part of the family was going up to see the old farm of their fourth great grandfather. Here are the family members who came...
Note Ian's 3 watches!! :) He's the same funny nephew who said, upon arriving at the old cemetary: "Mom, I'm going to go find a headstone that says, 'I'm gonna get you for this!' " :)

And here are the distant relatives. This is Ruth (Ben's cousin) and Wilma, her mom. They own a 200-acre plot of land in the Blue Ridge mountain area, with the ancestral farm being on the property. In the south, family is family, no matter how distantly related. So Ruth and Wilma showed us fine southern hospitality, and I refrained from saying "What?" too often, with their accents as thick as they were! The coolest part was that it felt like we'd known them for years. They really did feel like family!

We took a train ride through part of the property, and it was beautiful. On our way home, we stopped at the Mennonite farm and bought some good food they sell in their store. Here is the Spiced Peach Jam that I bought. It is soooo good! If you saw the movie, "Holes", you'll appreciate the jam. Not too spicy. Tasted like pie filling. Mmmm. (Did you know Mmm is an accepted word to play in Scrabble? Its true. And with no vowel and all.)

Sorry, I have no pics of the fried food. They sure know how to fry food down there! And if you were wondering, "Amelia" went to respite foster care while we were gone. She's back with us now, and I'm glad! I missed her!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Look No More

After speaking with my licensing worker, we have decided that for their privacy, it is best that no even a glimpse of the child should be posted. So, sadly, no more peeks for you. Sorry!

My, What Big Eyes You Have!

Introducing..."Amelia". (Not her actual name.)

One of the fun things about a baby's development is watching how their eyes learn to adjust to changes in light. Our second (and current) foster child, Amelia, is about 5 months-old. Ray was driving the other day and I was sitting in back with her. We drove under an overpass and her eyes went twice as wide as they normally are. And she already has big, bright, beautiful eyes! I love when they get so big because then they look animated. It is then that she reminds me of a cartoon character, and it is the cutest thing ever!

Amelia seems to also have perfected the art smiling. Sometimes, when I'm not looking at her, I will feel her eyes on me. When I turn to look she gives me the biggest smile, which of course is returned. She smiles at everyone and I have to keep reminding myself not to deflate other's bubbles by pointing that out. Being around Amelia fills me, and many others, with much joy!

So let's talk about "how can we do this (take in foster children), because you never could!" Well, first of all, never say never. We never thought we could be foster parents, but look at us now! I'm just saying, you never know what your future will hold for you. While foster parenting may not be for everybody, it is probably for a lot more than actually do it. (They aren't paying me to say this!) Its not as strange of an experience as it might seem to be.

One of the more interesting things is standing in line at the store. Fellow customers and/or the cashier always go googly over the baby, and then they start asking the questions: "How old is she?", "What is her name?", all of which I answer normally enough. Then, "Is she your first?", or "Wow, you look great!" (thinking I have just recently given birth), to which I reply, "We are foster parents and she is in foster care." Silence. Then, a slow "Oh" as it registers. Then they usually kind of look sad and seem unsure of what to say.

What I would like to say but usually don't is this: while it is sadder than I can express that these children are in foster care, there are a few really great things about this situation:

1. How wonderful it is that their birth parents chose to bring them into the world, imperfect lives and conditions though they may have. Think about the alternative! And I'm not referring to adoption!

2. How good it is that these children have been found somehow and removed from unhealthy and unsafe situations, despite the fact that they would rather stay with who and what they know--regardless of the poor or negative conditions.

3. Whether for days, weeks or months, what a wonderful thing that these children have the chance to enter a home and an environment that is loving, safe, and healthy. To be provided with that example and experience it first-hand. (Not that our home is perfect, of course. But still.) While it causes stress and unknown damage to be so abruptly removed from the familiar, isn't it better that they have the chance, however brief, to experience what life is supposed to be like?

My hope is that the seed of hope will be planted in the children who come into our home. And though they may only be infants while they are here, and may soon go back to a not-so-positive environment and quickly forget all the good they experienced here, can anyone doubt that a good seed has been planted? I really do think that it is something they will recognize if they are looking and happen upon it someday--the feeling of love, safety and goodness. Their spirits will remember what they once knew and lived and strive to break the cycle that they may have been born into.

Delusional? Maybe. My hope regardless? Definitely.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Few Facts...

People have asked some good questions about foster parenting. I will share a few things about our experiences, but keep in mind that what may be true for us may not be true for the next guy.

In order to become licensed, we had to take the foster parenting course called PRIDE--can't remember what it stands for. Its most likely the same program they have in your state. Its a 26 hour course that you take for 5 weeks and is pretty intensive. And informative. Having worked for Head Start for almost 8 years, I thought I was pretty in-the-know regarding our society and its issues--but I learned a lot. There was homework that we had to complete and submit, but thankfully no test at the end (you should see the size of the binder they gave us!)

After PRIDE they did a home study, where they basically just came to see if our house was suitable and safe for children to live in. Meanwhile, they also checked our backgrounds and had us get medical exams. Then we let them know when/if we would be ready to take children, and what ages we'd take. You can tell them you only want teenagers, or just infants, or any age range in between. As stated, we're currently only taking babies up to one year old. From the time we began the PRIDE course until everything else was completed was about two months.
They do not have us take parenting classes, which I thought was interesting, until I realized that someone giving birth is not required to take them either. Still, those would have come in handy now. Infants can be little mysteries, can't they?!
Can we keep any of them, you wonder? Yes, sometimes! They never really know from child to child what is going to happen to them, but they sometimes have clues, and thus place children accordingly. They know we are a foster family that is particularly interested in fostering-to-adopt, so they will also call us if they feel the chances are somewhat good that the child will eventually need to be adopted, besides just the basic calls for foster care that we get.
We currently have our second foster child, and neither one has been a foster-to-adopt. Also, though we are only on our second one, we have received several more calls than two. We consider each situation and decide if it is something that will work for us. And despite rumors to the contrary, not one case-worker has tried to force or guilt-trip us into taking a child. Thankfully they have been very respectful of our needs and situation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


This is our first foster baby (photo is intentionally cropped to protect her privacy). We brought her home from the hospital two days old. Though we did not bring her into this world, you could not have found two foster parents more proud of their foster child than we were of her! We loved her instantly, and our home felt warmer with her in it.

That brings us to the name of this blog. Her name is not Miranda, but that is what she was called at times. Wendy was over one day and I handed her the baby and said, "Here, will you take Miranda?"

"Who?" Wendy said, laughing. "Do you mean ....(baby's real name)?"

Then I laughed, surprised, and wondered where in the world that had come from. My only two associations with the name "Miranda" are that its a street I grew up near, and its also Lenore's baby's name. I hadn't thought about the name in awhile.

"Miranda's" real name had not been flowing naturally off my tongue, and if she were mine I probably would have chosen another name. The name "Hair!" would have been applicable, as you can see! Her hair is awesome!

Eventually, Ray and others accidentally called her Miranda, and I always got a good laugh when they did, seeing what I'd started. No one ever did it intentionally, but maybe that's what her name is really supposed to be?? Anyway, fortunately I don't think she took much offense at the mistake.

Miranda moved on after only 11 days with us. Her mom lived in a different region so they transferred Miranda to a foster family that lives about 2 hours away. Thankfully that foster mom has kept in contact with us and emails photos sometimes.

We went through a dark couple of days after Miranda left us. It was much harder than I imagined it would be. But Ray and I agree that we feel so blessed to know her. She has a nice spirit about her, and we're just trying to remember that saying "It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all." Our lives have been touched by knowing Miranda, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Unless, of course, if we could adopt her, and then that would be the best! If at some point Miranda does go up for adoption, we have let the foster family and the worker know that we would like to be the first in line to be considered, and we have our paperwork in order to do this. So who knows...maybe someday you'll get to meet her too!

Monday, October 1, 2007

We are Foster Parents!

Leave behind all your scary images and memories of horrifying newspaper articles of foster parent nightmare stories. In its place, insert a nice picture of a married couple in their mid-30's who are dying to have kids of our own. That's us! We're not mean or scary; we don't lock our foster children in their rooms and wait for the state check to come. We're just a couple of regular joes who haven't had kids yet biologically (though they can't give us any good reason why), we don' t want to try IVF and we just don't feel like waiting to love children until someone chooses us to adopt their child. We became aware of the intense need there is for good families to care for children in need (or babies, in our case) and felt like we could do well at this. So we are foster parents!

I finished out the school year with Head Start at the end of May. I spent June relaxing and enjoying my summer break, while shopping the yard sales and craigslist to get most of the baby items we would need. (Incidentally, I did quite well! Great spoils--cheap or free baby items and clothes in great shape!) I also gave notice at work, as I decided I would not be returning in August. We were officially ready to take foster babies on July 1st, but did not get our first one until August 20th. That was a long wait!

I would like to share our foster/adoption experiences through this blog. What I probably can't share, in order to remain licensed (I haven't asked but am guessing), are names and identifying photos. So the names I will use will not be the baby's true names, and while I'm dying to post photos, I'm probably going to have ensure the photos make the babies relatively unidentifiable (sooo sad!!) They are so beautiful and deserve to be identified! Maybe just not on the web. I would love to show off the babies we've had so far, so if you're interested I could probably send a photo to your email...if I know you, that is. That would not technically be making them public. If you were our next door neighbor or fellow ward member you would know their name and what they looked like anyway, right?

My next post will introduce our first foster child, who has now moved on. Waaaaah! Yes, it is even harder to say goodbye than I imagined!! But we're OK...