Marie Kondo has nothing on state surveyors

March 21st, 2019

I’m a possibility person. I love to turn trash into treasure.

Give me a pile of tin cans and I’m using them as building blocks for my kids (I totally love my Pampered Chef Smooth-Edge Can Opener – not an affiliate link). Or we’re bowling in the hallway.

The lids? They’re perfect for making a memory game. Or I’ve seen cute windchimes made with them.

A vinegar jug could be a watering can or a sprinkler or a drip waterer or a self-watering planter. Or I could cut off the bottom and cut holes and weave yarn about it to make a basket.

Those horseradish jars are the most adorable things ever, and someday when I make my own candles, they’d be perfect containers.

That broken toy can totally be fixed or transformed into something else.

The puzzle with pieces missing? Well, there are lots of crafts one can do with puzzle pieces!

Everything sparks joy when I’m thinking about the possibilities for transforming it into something useful.

Which means that KonMari is not exactly the best way for me to declutter.

On the other hand, state licensing surveyors for foster care?

They’re a super-effective way of helping me get rid of several trash bags full of stuff.

Instead of “does this spark joy?”, the question I ask myself when surveyors are on their way out is “is it worth trying to figure out how to store this in a way that doesn’t make me look like a hoarder?” (which, you know, I probably am.)

Annual survey is when those pieces of paper that still have a color-able surface get shredded. When the cereal boxes that still haven’t been used for kids’ painting but don’t fit in the container I store them in get shredded as well. When the loose toys that don’t belong in sets get discarded. When the lids without containers and the containers without lids get tossed. When the just about empty bottle of lotion (that no one uses anyway) gets thrown out.

Marie Kondo has nothing on our annual licensing surveyors.

(We passed, by the way: “No areas of noncompliance noted.”)

They Want to Do What They’ve Read

March 20th, 2019

I believe I’ve mentioned how much it thrills my heart that my children want to do the things they’ve read about in books – especially in the Little House books.

And it does, honestly.

Even if I have to remind myself how thrilling it is when they’ve just strewn the floor with straw from the bale outside because “that’s what Mother did before they stretched the carpets in Farmer Boy.”

Picture Book Reading Report (February 2019)

March 16th, 2019

I’ve been struggling to figure out how to report on the picture books we’ve read. My goal is to finish my library’s collection of picture books with an author last name starting with C this year – which means I’m reading A LOT of picture books – many of which aren’t worth re-reading. But there are a few that are quite good. For now, I’m going to try separating out picture books into a post of their own and report briefly on each book. Titles with an *asterisk* are ones I think are worth re-reading (3 stars or above).

Authors Last Name “CAN”

Picture Book Authors CAM-CAN

  • *Pinduli by Janell Cannon
    I did not at all expect to enjoy this story of a hyena who gets made fun of – but enjoy it I did. It’s all about how our words impact others. Quite good.
  • *Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
    A young bat falls into a bird’s nest – and discovers that though he and the birds are different, they can still be friends. Very nice.
  • Bonjour Camille by Felipe Cano, illustrations by Laia Aguilar
    I don’t know what to think about this exactly, except that I don’t think it’s worthwhile enough to spend too much time figuring out what I think about it.
  • A Friend for Einstein by Charlie Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner
    A tiny, tiny miniature horse is lonely. Who will be a friend for Einstein? Okay, not amazing.

Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

  • 5-Minute Biscuit Stories illustrated by Pat Schories
    Gentle stories of ordinary adventures children will likely be able to identify with. This anthology is a nice one if you happen to like the “Biscuit” books.
  • Biscuit Visits the Doctor
    Half of the text is “woof”. No thank you.
  • "5 Minute Biscuit Stories" by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

  • Hannah is a Big Sister illustrated by Dorothy Stott
    As usual, this “new baby” focuses on an older sibling’s frustration – until she discovers she can soothe the baby. Eh
  • *I will Love You illustrated by Lisa Anchin
    Pretty pictures, pretty rhyme, great for reading to a little-little one.
  • Books by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

  • *Mighty Tug illustrated by David Mottram
    A sweet rhyming story about the small but mighty tugboat (and all the things he can do).
  • Not This Bear illustrated by Lorna Hussey
    A little bear on his first day of school disagrees whenever his teacher says that “all the bears enjoy…” – but he finds that his first day of school isn’t so bad after all.
  • The Potty Book for Boys illustrated by Dorothy Stott
    A rather standard “I’m a big boy” type book
  • Tulip and Rex Books

  • Tulip loves Rex
    and Tulip and Rex Write a Story illustrated by Sarah Massini

    A girl and a dog are friends. They like to dance. They write a story. Meh.

Authors Last Name “CAPO” to “CARL”

  • Monster Know Shapes by Lori Capote, illustrated by Chip Wass
    A rather generic shape book with rather dull cartoon illustrations.
  • "Monster Knows Shapes" and "Cinderella's Stepsister and the Big Bad Wolf"

  • *Heroes of the Surf by Elisa Carbone, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
    Interesting story of a beleaguered ship and the people who came to its rescue – based on a true story from 1882.
  • **47 Strings: Tessa’s Special Code by Becky Carey, illustrated by Bonnie Leick
    A lovely letter written to a big brother about his little sister, who has Down Syndrome.
  • Books by authors CAN-CAR

  • Cinderella’s Stepsister and the Big Bad Wolf by Lorraine Carey, illustrated by Migy Blanco
    A fun fractured, multi-fairy-tale mashup. Cinderella’s hard-working and kind step-sister doesn’t live up to the ugly name, so her mother sends her off to learn how to be evil from all the best (worst?) fairy tale villains.
  • **The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
    We’ve read all of Carle’s books before – but Louis pulled this one off the shelf at home and OF COURSE I’m willing to read it to him!
  • A World of Your Own by Laura Carlin
    All about drawing your own imaginary world – with lots of ideas for doing so. I found it to be just, meh.

Written by Nancy Carlson

I am not much of a fan of Carlson’s illustration style – or of most of her subject matter. Meh.

  • Harriet and the Roller Coaster
    Henry’s bravado turns out for naught when Harriet discovers that she actually enjoys the roller coaster – while Henry discovers that it isn’t really for him.
  • Henry’s 100 Days of Kindergarten
    I wasn’t a fan of the illustrations and I think I might be something of a Scrooge when it comes to depictions of classroom life…so this book was not for me.
  • Books by Nancy Carlson

  • Loudmouth George Earns His Allowance
    George discovers that forcing his little siblings to do his chores doesn’t exactly save him time or energy.
  • Sometimes You Barf
    I understand the idea, trying to make barfing less scary. But I just can’t enjoy this book.
  • There’s a Big, Beautiful World Out There!
    There are lots of things to be afraid of – but even more to be glad to explore. Made all the more poignant when you learn at the end that the book was written on Sep 12, 2001.

Written by Nancy White Carlstrom

  • Before You Were Born illustrated by Linda Saport
    This opens and closes with that “before you were born, God wrote your days in a book”, but the middle was enigmatic. I’m not sure whether I like it.
  • *Mama, Will It Snow Tonight? illustrated by Paul Tong
    Three different mother/child pairs ask and answer “Mama, will it snow tonight?” Sweet.
  • "Jesse Bear" books

  • Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear
    Guess Who’s Coming, Jesse Bear?
    Happy Birthday, Jesse Bear and
    *Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? illustrated by Bruce Degan

    A rhyming series of inconsistent quality. I enjoyed What Will You Wear quite a bit – but found the others either too preachy or too repetitive to be truly enjoyable.
  • Books by Nancy White Carlstrom

  • *The Way to Wyatt’s House illustrated by Mary Morgan
    A lovely transition from quiet to loud and back again. Fun.
  • What Does the Sky Say? illustrated by Tim Ladwig
    Beautifully poetic, lovely word pictures of the sky speaking – but a bit hard to interpret. This has Psalm 19 at the end of it “The heavens declare the glory of God…” but the message of the book doesn’t really have the sky speaking the glory of God.
  • Authors Last Name “CAR” to “CAS”

    • I’m 3! Look What I Can Do by Maria Carluccio
      I’m surprised this wasn’t a board book. It’s very, very simple. Simple enough to be boring to my two-year-old (who listens with half an ear as if to say, “well, duh, I can do most of those things. What of it?”)
    • *A Circle of Friends by Giora Carmi
      A little boy changes his neighborhood when he gives a roll to a homeless man sleeping on the bench below his apartment. A lovely wordless book.
    • The Children Who Loved Books by Peter Carnavas
      A book against Marie Kondo-ing your book collection :-)
    • Books by authors CAP-CAR

    • Haunted Houses Handbook by Monica Carretero
      Nothing terribly objectionable, but really not my thing.
    • How Roland Rolls by Jim Carrey, illustrated by Rob Nason
      Groan.
    • Papa’s Backpack by James Christopher Carroll
      A child wishes he could go along “in papa’s backpack” when his father is deployed. I wanted to like this, but it just didn’t do it for me.
    • Books by Authors CAR

    • Spiders Dance by Maureen Carroll, illustrated by Bobbie Powell
      A spider wants to dance – but has to learn his own way of dancing. The author made asides to the reader at the end of every page, which might have spoiled the story for me.
    • *Under a Prairie Sky by Anne Laurel Carter, illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
      A boy dreams of becoming a Mountie – and pretends that he already is one.
    • *Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Bob Shea
      A cute book of haiku about different animals – offering the reader an opportunity to guess which animal.

    Written by Jan Carr

    • *Dappled Apples and
      *Frozen Noses illustrated by Dorothy Donohue

      Poetic tributes to autumn and winter (respectively), filled with scenes from each season. Delightful – engaging enough for a four-year-old, a two-year-old, a one-year-old, and their mama.
    • Books by Jan Carr

    • Toe Shoe Mouse illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
      A mouse finds a home in a toe shoe – and a friend in the toe shoe’s owner Celeste.

    Written by Carol Carrick

    • Lost in the Storm illustrated by Donald Carrick
      Realistic fiction about a dog who got lost in a storm (and is found).
    • Books by Carol Carrick

    • Mothers are Like That illustrated by Paul Carrick
      Simple and sweet, about how mothers love their children.

    Other Picture Books

    • Papa’s Gift by Kathleen Long Bostrom, illustrated by Guy Porfirio
      A rather saccharine tale checked out from the church library. One reading was plenty enough.

    Back to normal

    March 13th, 2019

    We welcomed a new baby to the family last Thursday.

    Since then, we’ve had throw-ups (on three different days) and diarrhea (minimum of three outfits per day for the affected kiddos) almost continuously.

    Laundry has piled up. Dishes piled up until I decided to pull out the paper (no new dishes until the old ones are clean!) Floors have been disinfected umpteen zillion times.

    Books have been read. Dump truck shows and DNA shows watched. Endless snuggles given.

    At any given moment, there might be a child dancing, a child bawling, and a child napping (thank goodness all these kids can sleep through anything!)

    Folks, we’re back to normal. It feels wonderful.

    Wrapping up our Laura Challenge

    March 5th, 2019

    I set an ambitious course for this year’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge. I would read Little House in the Big Woods and either Farmer Boy or Little House on the Prairie aloud to my children. I would read Little House, Long Shadow myself. And, by the fifth of the month, my children and I had already read Laura’s collection of fairy poems.

    Alas, I completed only two of the intended books: the aforementioned collection of fairy poems and Little House in the Big Woods.

    Three "Little House" Books

    I found that while I spend plenty of time reading aloud to my children, it’s hard for me to direct that reading time. Unless I get out our chapter book first thing, I’ll have filled all the available time with reading Louis’s construction books and Tirzah Mae’s medical books, leaving little time for Laura.

    Perhaps I need to tie chapter books to some other portion of our day, rather than doing it before naps. Maybe if we have it as the first part of our “school” day? Hmmm…

    Our sad, soft molasses candy

    At any rate, this was Tirzah Mae’s second time through Little House in the Big Woods and Louis’s first. Both were clearly engaged in the story and frequently begged to act out the things they had heard in the book.

    Our pretty butter

    This, of course, delighted my homeschooling heart – and I was pleased to indulge them (or maybe myself?) by making molasses candy and homemade butter. We also made Lincoln log houses, made “pictures” in the snow, pretended to play fiddles, and made pancake men.

    We did not make cheese or braid straw hats, despite Tirzah Mae’s begging. Maybe next year :-)

    Pancake man with blueberries

    I am thinking that we will still attempt to read Farmer Boy, even though we’re no longer in the challenge month – Louis was engaged with Big Woods, but I think he’ll enjoy Farmer Boy even more – and I’d love to introduce him to new possible obsessions now that we’ve almost exhausted our library’s entire collection of construction books. Farming would be a delightful obsession, in this mother’s opinion (which, of course, means that he is unlikely to choose it!)

    Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fairy Poems

    As far as the collection of fairy poems goes, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The poems are whimsical and I enjoyed the introduction to “Drop O’Dew” and “Ray O’Sunshine”. The children enjoyed the illustrations, even if I didn’t really care for the style. But, as with many things, I only care for the words and can take or leave the illustrations.

    We enjoyed participating in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Challenge again this year and are so grateful to Barbara for hosting it year after year.

    Projects long neglected

    February 25th, 2019

    Baby Tirzah Mae had some spit-up issues. Serious spit-up issues. And since she initially received breastmilk fortified with preemie formula, her initial spit-ups were of the nasty staining variety. The slipcovers of our cream-colored throw pillows acquired yellow and brown blotches of varying sizes from being spit upon.

    I kept telling myself I would make new slipcovers.

    But a year passed and two. And we had another baby spitting up. And then another (who spit up less thanks to #termbaby!)

    The slipcovers didn’t get made.

    But after I spent a frantic week sewing Christmas outfits and Christmas jammies for the little ones this past Christmas, I realized just how much I enjoy doing something creative. I set a goal to try to do something (anything) creative once a week this year.

    In January, I made new slipcovers for the throw pillows. I cut one week and sewed one slipcover a week until, at the end of the month, I had covered all three of the formerly cream-colored pillows.

    My new pillow covers

    I love how well-lit my living room is – but it does make getting photos of the couch a little difficult :-)


    We’ve been cleaning out our basement in preparation for getting it finished – and as I cleaned, I found some Dr. Seuss-themed reusable shopping bags my sister-in-law had given me years ago (I’m guessing right around when Tirzah Mae was born!) My sister-in-law had used one side panel to decorate her children’s playroom and had offered me what remained so I could do the same for Tirzah Mae. Of course, I accepted (because I’m all about anything free and am a serious hoarder of craft supplies.)

    At any rate, I found the shopping bags and decided maybe I’d use them to decorate our foster children’s room. That was February’s project.

    I got right to work at the very beginning of the month, stretching a couple of panels around some stiff chipboard and sticking them up on the clipboards in the “green room”. I puzzled a bit about how to complete the task and arrived at colored panels with circles in them.

    The kids and I painted panels, including extras to make circles with.

    The panels sat and sat and sat for weeks (I’ve not been great at getting in creativity every week this month!)

    And, at last, since this is now the last week of February, I cut out my circles and got them completed.

    The Dr. Seuss wall art - at last

    Not bad, if I say so myself.

    Making Butter

    February 20th, 2019

    Laura Ingalls Wilder describes the buttermaking process in detail in her Little House in the Big Woods.

    Ma Ingalls grated carrot and heated it with a little milk to dye the cream. Then she churned the cream in a big dash church. The cream grew thick and then little bits of butter would slosh through the cover on the churn. Ma had to rinse the butter over and over in cold water. Then she put it into a pretty butter mold and turned the pats out onto a plate. The young Laura and Mary drank the buttermilk when Ma was all done.

    We don’t have a dash churn, so we followed the instructions in A Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker to make butter in a quart jar.

    Let me tell you, a quart jar with a little over three cups of liquid in it is much too full to effectively make butter. We shook that thing off and on all day long to no avail. I put it in the cup holder of my car and we shook it when stopped at stoplights. We shook it here, we shook it there, we shook it everywhere.

    Not butter yet

    It whipped up and thickened but would not turn to butter until I opened it up (whipped cream everywhere!) and poured half into a second quart jar.

    And we have butter!

    Then I shook for a couple of minutes. Yellow grains of butter appeared. I was surprised when three more shakes gave me a solid mass of butter.

    Rinsing the butter

    I rinsed in ice water and gave the children their begged-for tastes of buttermilk.

    Our (mostly) rinsed butter

    Then to find the mold from my wedding mints to use for fancy “butter pats”.

    Our pretty butter

    We’re still eating our butter, but the kids are eager to make more so that they can drink more buttermilk.

    Tirzah Mae drinking the buttermilk

    For my part, I’m glad we did it but I’m also thinking we’ll hold off on doing it again until the kids are capable of shaking their own jars. My arms got TIRED!

    What I Spent/What We Ate (2018.02.15)

    February 19th, 2019

    I’m late this week because we spent the weekend with Daniel’s brother and his family in the Kansas City area. We went up Friday morning (a little earlier than planned in order to beat a snowstorm), which meant I missed my usual ALDI trip. Which, given how much I spent on the front half of the week, was just fine as far as my budget is concerned :-)


    What I Spent:

    Saturday, February 9

    Spice Merchant – $54.37

    This was our coffee and tea for the month – we splurge because, oh my, this stuff is wonderful.


    Tuesday, February 12

    Sam’s Club – $45.63

    Sam's Club pickup 2019.02.12

    Walmart – $45.99

    Walmart pickup 2019.02.12


    That’s $145.99, which is $59.99 over this month’s budget of $86 per week. :-\

    So…
    Week 1 – $78.27 ($7.73 under)
    Week 2 – $145.99 ($59.99 over)


    What We Ate:

    Saturday, February 9
    Breakfast – Buttermilk pancake men (like Ma made in Little House in the Big Woods) with blueberries, and scrambled eggs (not pictured)

    Pancake man with blueberries

    Supper – Thai Red Curry Chicken served over rice – I don’t remember what else I served with it

    Sunday, February 10
    Lunch – Leftovers because we were too busy Saturday for me to make “Ella’s taverns” in advance

    Supper – “Ella’s Taverns” (aka sloppy joes) with lettuce salad and corn salad

    "Ella's Taverns" (Sloppy Joes) with lettuce salad and corn salad

    Monday, February 11
    Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Peas, and Canned peaches

    Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green peas, and canned peaches

    Tuesday, February 12
    Salsa chicken burritos, lettuce salad, and homemade (not)refried beans

    Salsa chicken burrito, non-refried beans, and lettuce salad

    And once I was done with my first burrito? I made a second plate as a salad, sans the tortilla

    Salsa chicken and beans, this time on top of the salad

    Wednesday, February 13
    Lasagna, lettuce salad, and canned peaches (My fruit and veggie choices have been pretty uninspired this week!)

    Lasagna, lettuce salad, canned peaches

    Thursday, February 14
    For Valentine’s Day, I made what is normally “Chicken and Broccoli Gravy over cornbread biscuits” a little differently.

    Chicken and broccoli with biscuits - special for Valentine's day

    We had it with banana pudding (special request from Daniel) and… more canned peaches.

    Chicken and broccoli gravy with biscuits, banana pudding, and canned peaches

    Friday, February 15
    We traveled up to the KC area to visit Daniel’s brother’s family – I made some cheese bread for with dinner (but my sister-in-law cooked the main meal.)

    Being Believed is Important

    February 12th, 2019

    Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s Three Little Words evoked not a few complicated thoughts, but that wasn’t all I got from it as I read.

    I also learned.

    I learned, for one, that being believed is important.

    Ashley writes of how her little brother would crawl into bed with her and pee the bed. Her foster parents would not believe it wasn’t Ashley who had been peeing the bed. On another occasion, Ashley slipped on the poop another foster child had smeared about – but her foster parents wouldn’t believe that she wasn’t the smear-er. Later, more seriously, she attempted to tell people of the abuse she and other children were experiencing and people didn’t take her seriously.

    Now, Ashley writes of the times when she was in the right, when she was telling the truth and wasn’t believed. If she’s like any child, she told her share of lies as well.

    But Ashley’s story brought home the importance of believing our children – or, even if we don’t believe them, of taking them seriously and avoiding shaming or punishing when we don’t know the whole story.

    Does it matter whether the bed-pee-er was Ashley or her little brother? Only inasmuch as it might indicate that Ashley needed some help (it could have indicated a urinary tract infection, for example, if she had previously been dry consistently.) The foster parents could have said, in a neutral voice: “Looks like your bed is wet this morning. Let’s get it cleaned up.” They might ask, “Are you having a hard time staying dry overnight? Sometimes that means that you’re sick and don’t realize it.” And when Ashley says that no, it was her little brother who got into bed with her, they could have responded “Okay. Well, if you ever do find yourself having a hard time holding it overnight, just let us know and maybe we could talk to a doctor about getting help.” And then they could try to pay attention to see if her brother is indeed crawling into bed with her overnight and wetting the bed.

    Our older children have started lying.

    I know this because I watch them do something and then tell me that they didn’t do it.

    Because I’ve seen their lying in action, it’s tempting to think they’re lying every time one child comes running to tell me that “so-and-so hurt themselves” (with the unspoken being “I didn’t do it!”)

    But Ashley’s story has encouraged me to rethink my approach to this.

    When I know that something is a lie because I have seen otherwise, I call out the lie.

    But when I don’t know what actually happened? I try to be more circumspect.

    I ask myself, is it important for me to ascertain who did what in this circumstance?

    In a lot of cases, it isn’t really important. Do I need to know who spilled the water on the floor? No. I just need to clean it up – and it’s not going to hurt my children to clean it up together. Do I need to know who had the toy first? No, not really. I can just put the toy in time out since it wasn’t playing nicely.

    In most cases, even when my children are fighting with each other, I don’t need to arbitrate. We talk about how we ought to behave toward one another (regardless of who started the current fight). I may have to find a task for each of the children to work on with me or they might need to play in the same room as me for the next while until their current squabble has cooled down. But I don’t need to know “who did it”.

    If possible, I can create an environment that disincentivizes lying – without making it my default to visibly disbelieve my children.

    Because being believed is important.

    Complicated thoughts

    February 11th, 2019

    There’s no such thing as uncomplicated foster care.

    Children don’t go into foster care unless something complicated has happened to them. They’ve been neglected or abused. They’ve been exposed to drugs, in utero or out. They’ve lived in squalor. They have scars. Physical scars, emotional scars, developmental scars.

    Foster children behave in complicated ways. They’ve learned to “overreact” or to not react. They’ve learned to cope however they can. Many times, they’ve been exposed to things their young brains cannot process.

    And foster families? Well, we can be complicated too. We get tired and frustrated and angry. We get confused. Sometimes we have no idea what to do. We do what seemed to work for our biological kids and it completely backfires on us. We try to do that thing we read about in a book and we can’t figure out whether it isn’t working because we haven’t been doing it long enough – or if we just need to give up on it because it’s never going to work.

    The foster families I know try. We want to what’s best by our foster children. We don’t always know what that looks like, though.

    Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s Three Little Words, written after she’d been adopted out of foster care, illustrates the complicated-ness of foster care – and induces complicated thoughts and emotions in this particular foster parent.

    Ashley was taken into foster care at age three and was passed around from home to home – 14 total homes before she went into a “children’s home” (aka orphanage) and was finally adopted as a preteen.

    Many of Ashley’s placements were well-meaning folks, although ones that seemed overwhelmed with greater-than-capacity children. Further, it seemed few of them were aware of the difficulties surrounding raising a child with a background of trauma. Foster parents overreacted when Ashley peed the bed or described sex as she’d seen it. I wondered as I read if this sort of thing is why the new “TIPS-MAPP” classes were put into place: “Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence – Model approach to Partnerships in Parenting.” That’s what we took when we were preparing to become foster parents. We learned about the effects trauma has on kids, about the role of attachment in fostering, about how our own emotions and thoughts and experiences interact with the pressure-cooker environment of parenting kids from trauma. Maybe I am able to be better than these parents Ashley had because I took that class. But I still know that if either my biological children or my foster children were to write a book, they could certainly isolate the times when I lost my cool, when I overreacted, when I snapped at the kids or blamed or shamed them. By the grace of God, I’m growing in patience and gentleness as a mother – but there’s still plenty of growth needed.

    Then Ashley had some truly terrible placements – one with a child molester (who fortunately was not able to get to her before she was pulled from the home) and one with a sadistic child-abuser who mistreated her and other foster children for years. It’s tough reading, but surprisingly not as tough for me as the not-so-bad homes were. These folks were monsters I could not identify with – I would not do those things to a child.

    But the “normal” homes, they fill me with self-doubt. Maybe fostering requires one-on-one attention. Maybe being a part of a big family is fine and good for kids who’ve known my love from day one, but maybe it’s impossible to love a child from hard places amidst the pressures of leading a large family. Maybe I’m still not patient enough. Maybe my distaste for buying stuff communicates lack of care to the foster children in my care – after all, if I loved them, wouldn’t I be buying them new toys and clothes all the time?

    I read this book after our most recent foster daughter was placed in a kinship home. We didn’t get any calls with potential placements for over a month. And then when we did get a call? I read the paperwork and stuttered. I’m afraid. Ashley Rhodes-Courter has made me afraid.

    It’s a very complicated book about which I’m having some very complicated emotions.