Sunday, December 5, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
It took several months to go through the interview and licensing process. There was lots of paperwork, fingerprinting, background checking, talking, and a home study. Finally, I was licensed and ready to go. It took nearly a year from that point before a baby was actually placed in my care. The agency was a non-profit organization that worked with birth mothers to help them find adoptive placement for their babies. Foster parents were usually only needed on a short term basis. The social worker told me to expect to foster a baby for anywhere from a few days up to 2 weeks. This was to give the birth mom a chance to adjust and change her mind if needed and for final paperwork to be completed before the child was placed with an adoptive family. I received quite a few calls throughout that first year. I would get all ready and then they would call back to say the baby didn't need a foster placement. Either the birthmomchanged her mind or paperwork processed quickly enough that the baby went straight to it's new home.
At 22 life can change rapidly in a year. So, I put foster parenting hopes on the back burner. I graduated college. And I joined a volunteer service corp. I moved into an apartment building with the 7 other members of the corp and I was placed as a volunteer teacher at a school for economically and emotionally disadvantaged children. I adjusted to life in a community with 7 strangers, kind of like the Real World without the cameras or the money! The program was in its early stages and our group was a bit of an experiment. We were given $100 a week to buy groceries and we each had job placements. We also had to fulfill community duties like planning social and spiritual events to build up our relationships. There were 3 women and 4 men, if you could call us that. We were goofballs really and so freakin' young, but anyway that is its own story! So I was immersed in life with my new friends and trying to figure out how to be productive as a teacher working with very challenging students. My friend, Ms. Meeghan and I were placed at the school together. It was a blessing! The apartment we lived in was 40 minsaway from the school. But, the school was just 10 mins. from my parents house. So we spent lots of time visiting my parents and letting them cook for us and relaxed there when we could.
So in the middle of volunteer community madness and challenges, I got a call at the end of that October. There was a newborn who needed immediate foster placement. And so began the "Maya Period" of my life!
I couldn't take time off from my community or my teaching job. But, I couldn't let myself turn down this baby! The religious leader of the school I taught in heard of the call and adamantlyexpressed her dislike of the idea. But, reinforcements came in the form of my parents and Ms.Meeghan. Together we worked out the logistics it would take to fully support the needs of this baby. And the social worker assured me it would be for just a few days.
And so I went to the hospital to pick up the baby. My parents came with me. The social worker thought it would be a good idea because the birth mom wasn't much younger than I was so she felt it would make a better impression to have older people with me. Whatever!
The first time I set on eyes on Maya was shocking. She was the tiniest baby I had ever seen( up to that point in my life) she weighed exactly 4 pounds. Her skin was dark, almost red and she had a mass of jet black hair. And she was screaming at the top of her lungs. This loud, ear piercing screeech!!!! I held her and she felt so fragile!!! Her head fit in my palm. She was 2 days old. And the doctor was going to release her to me. What had I gotten myself into??
We took Maya home. And she stayed, not for a few days, or weeks, but for 3 months!! The longest foster placement the agency had to date. So for the first week I thought "well, she will be going back soon, so I won't get attached." I am just babysitting. Well, my the second week I was in love, unconditionally and forever in love with that tiny little baby. It didn't matter that she had the worst colic i had ever seen, that she screamed nearly all night and most of the day. When she looked up at me with her jet black eyes, I melted. I had never loved anyone so fully and unconditionally as Maya, not until my sons were born 9 years later.
My parents, especially my father took care of Maya while I worked. Not many people beside my Dad could get her to settle down once she started screaming. He would walk her for hours, he would wrap her in blankets and sleep in a chair with her. He even filled soda bottles with warm water and packed them near her when she was sleeping in her moses basket so she wouldn't be cold or cranky.
She stayed with me at my apartment too and my roomies loved her and helped care for her. Especially Ms. Meeghan, she was so wonderful with Maya. I mostly took them up on their offers to help in the middle of the night when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and she refused to sleep.
But, during the day I was possessive and stingy with her. I held her constantly. Over winter break from teaching, I became even more attached because I was with her full-time. It got to the point where I couldn't leave her, I just didn't want to put her down. By that point she had started recognizing me and smiling and I would have gone to the ends of the earth for her.
Throughout the 3 months we got many calls and made many trips with Maya back and forth to the agency. First, birth mom wanted her to be adopted, then changed her mind, then back to adoption. She was a teen with 2 other children. She wanted so badly to keep her baby but it didn't seem feasible. The adoptive family had their hopes up and them dashed over and over. And then it seemed on Christmas Eve it was set she would go to her adoptive home. I had mixed feelings at that point. I had gotten to know her mom and knew she was struggling with the decision. I had gotten to know Maya and I was struggling with the idea of letting her go. And then in rode The Knight to the rescue. Maya's father was contacted to sign the paperwork. He hadn't known she existed and this knowledge changed everything. He wanted to meet her. So we went to meet him. He was torn. He knew she had an adoptive family ready to take her. But, in the end he couldn't let her go. After much thought and another month it was decided Maya's father nixed the adoption and took her home with him.
And that is when the hard part began for me. I had to pack up that tiny little girl. Well, she had doubled her birth weight, but was still only 8 lbs and so tiny!!!! She was no longer colicky and become a smiling happy infant. I packed up her clothes, the endless piles of clothes that my family and friends and I had bought for her. She was just the cutest baby anyone had ever seen. Her skin had lost that red and blossomed into a deep, dark chocolate. Her hair began to curl into the softest waves, it felt like feathers!!! And she was always dressed in gorgeous ensembles with matching headbands. She was a little doll. She affected lots of people. Strangers at the mall would even fuss over her and come up to talk to me about her and want to hold her!! My family members fell for her head over heels!! Everyone from my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins loved her. She got so many gifts that Christmas it was crazy!!!
The day before she had to leave I spent time finishing the photo journal I had made for her. And I held her for hours. I said goodbye and thought I would be okay with that.
The next evening my parents and I drove her to the agency meet with her father. I held her while she visited with her mother. Her mom was happy Dad was taking her, but unsure if she would see her. So it was a sad goodbye. She kept the journal I had made for Maya and was so grateful to have that memento.
I broke all the rules with the goodbye, I had written a note to her dad and tucked it in with her belongings. The social worker hadn't wanted me to give her clothes and things to the father, so I kept them in the car and asked him come outside to get them. I put my phone number in the letter so he would have a way to contact us if he had any questions. Handing Maya over to a complete stranger was heart-wrenching, even if he was her father. He didn't know her schedule, her quirks, the way she liked to be held, he didn't know she only liked to sleep while you held her or tucked into her moses basket. I wrote it all in the letter. I had to. I couldn't leave her with nothing.
I handed her to the social worker and she she would bring Maya to her dad in the other room. I had thought I would be able to hand her to him. The social worker thought since I had said goodbye to her I would be fine with it. Well, I wasn't. I freaked out. Not being able to see her with him sent me over the edge. I cried the entire way home and the whole night and the next day and the day after that. I cried until my eyes hurt and my head felt like it was going to explode. I cried until I was so sick to my stomach that I threw up.
And then he called. Thank God!! He had read my letter, he said he knew how much my family loved her and how we had grown attached to her. He thanked us for taking such good care of her. He said she was doing really well and that her grandmother was helping him take care of her and loving her so much. He said he found out quickly that she liked to sleep while being held and that she could be demanding in getting her needs met. But, he loved it!! And he loved her!!
And so that was that. I went back to work the next day. And back to my community and roomies. And days passed. And most days were ok, but then I would hear a song or see a baby or remember her smell and I would lose it all over again. And that went on for a few weeks. And then it got easier and winter turned to spring and I got more and more into my teaching. And life went on.
I would still pray to hear from her father again. But, I knew I wouldn't. The social worker had heard about our call and wasn't happy. She said further contact should go through the agency. She called me with another baby needing foster care a few weeks later. But, I couldn't do it. It was too soon. And too hard to lose Maya. So, I had to decline.
About a year later I was at the mall and I heard a man's voice. My neck snapped around and my ears perked up. I KNEW that voice. I saw the man and I KNEW that face. A face that will forever be etched in my memory. It was Maya's father. He was standing right in front of me. I don't know if he recognized me at first but the words were pouring out of me before I could think clearly and I told him who I was and asked him about Maya. He said she was at his mother's house close by. He took my number and said he would call me and if I wanted to visit her I could. I was ecstatic!!!!! He kept his word and called me the next day. He said his mom wouldn't mind if I visited Maya at her house the next day. Ironically, I happened to be leaving the next day to go to England with a group of friends. I told him I would be back the following week and could I see her then. He said yes and that he would call me. I didn't have his number and I never heard from him again.
And over the last 13 years I think of Maya every so often. Sometimes not for months and then something will remind me it will all come back to me again. Especially today, her birthday!
My Maya was different than the kids Rosie was talking about, but still it reminded me of her. She was lucky. She didn't have to feel abandoned or unwanted. Everyone wanted Maya, her mother, her father, her adoptive family, my family, and me. She was loved. And now that she is 13 years old, I have to believe that she is still loved and living a good life. I HAVE to believe that!
I went into the foster parent endeavor hoping to change lives, but in the end it was Maya who changed my life and she will forever hold a piece of my heart.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
"The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests."
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Luccio chimed in, "Yeah, you're a Pretty Pig, Mama." Good save Luccio, now I feel much better.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Prayer to Saint Anthony, Performer of Miracles
Dear St. Anthony, your prayers obtained miracles during your lifetime. You still seem to move at ease in the realm of minor and major miracles. St. Anthony, Performer of Miracles, please obtain for me the blessings God holds in reserve who serve Him. Pray that I may be worthy of the promises my Lord Jesus attaches to confident prayer. (Mention your special intentions.)
Seeking a Lost Article
Dear St. Anthony, you are the patron of the poor and the helper of all who seek lost articles. Help me to find the object I have lost so that I will be able to make better use of the time that I will gain for God's greater honor and glory. Grant your gracious aid to all people who seek what they have lost---especially those who seek to regain God's grace. Amen.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
What an amazing summer it was! I feel like a lot of progress was made towards reaching goals both personally and as a family! I cleared some clutter and shed almost 15 pounds in the process! I kept having the soundtrack from Hairspray playing in my mind. The song, "Good Morning Baltimore" starts with the line "I wake up as always, hungry for something that I can't eat." And I realized this summer that the song had a deeper meaning in my life than just a catchy beat. I kept thinking I have everything I want, what is it that I am hungry for?? Is it really pasta, bread and peanut butter cups??
Friday, August 27, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
I have been very fortunate this summer to have Hubby home more than he would be during the school year. I have had some fantastic opportunities to get refreshing breaks from the daily duties of being a SAHM. Last week I went to The Casino to celebrate Crazy Cousin's 35th and Mom & I made a stop at Ender's Island Retreat Center on the way back. And this weekend Mom and I went to Wainwright House for a Holistic Health retreat on the Harbor. Both were wonderful experiences that renewed my spirit.
The casino celebration for Crazy Cousin was a lot of fun. We were born 8 months apart and spent a lot of time together growing up. I have great memories, especially of our endless summers. We would spend weeks at my house watching The Princess Bride over and over and over and swimming in the pool. And some summers we spent time in Wildwood, NJ having fun at the beach and on the boardwalk. Over the years we sometimes fought like Sisters, but most of the time we were laughing so hard we cried! At The Casino we laughed over the fact that we had to go to a noisy, busy place to find Serenity, LOL! We lounged by the pool and went out for dinner, such a great time.
The next today on the way home Mom and I stopped in at Ender's Island in Mystic. I found the place about 10 years ago when I was still working at the Newman Center and I went on a work related retreat day there. It is a tiny little island with a retreat center, a main chapel, a gift shop, a meeting room and a small stone chapel right on the water. There are tons of gardens and peaceful places to sit. I brought my journal and wrote for a little while, but mainly I enjoyed the quiet and prayerfulness of the island.
This past weekend, Mom and I went to a Holistic Health Retreat at Wainwright House. We went last year and loved it so much, so we have been checking the Wainwright website for updates and events. I was so excited to go back there again!! It is a beautiful stone building with lots of bright rooms. There is also a Carriage House/Yoga Center and another smaller house on the property that was open for some of the activities. The day went by so fast! Every 30-45 minutes there were different sessions. And each block of time there 3 separate sessions to chose from so it was difficult deciding. But, I went to the keynote address and listened to the author of The Fearless Factor. She was a motivational speaker that addressed how the issue of fear holds us back from achieving our dreams. I am reading her book right now and I will post more about that topic soon. I also attended a meditation workshop and walked the labyrinth that was on the property. I had a very moving experience and feel like I was able to clear out some negative energy that has been hanging around and get refocused on the all of the beautiful blessings I have in my life.
Speaking of my beautiful blessings, 4 of them are my Muses: Vincenzo, Luccio and Isabella and my dearest Hubby. It felt great to be able to get away for a short while knowing that my babies were in the capable hands of their dad. Grandma and Papa also helped out while Hubby worked for part of the day when I went to the retreat, so I am grateful that I can count on them as well.
I wish I could say that I ran off with no worries, but I have to admit when I went to the Casino I was really worried. My Princess had been fussy all morning and I had been pumping milk for over a week and knew there would be just barely enough for 24 hours for her. I felt a wave of nausea at the thought of leaving her overnight. I knew the boys would be okay because they are used to sleepovers and understand a lot more now. But, I have hardly left my little Princess and I was a wreck!! Hubby was very encouraging and reassured me that she would be fine. I called and checked in several times (until he told me to knock it off and have fun!) So it took a few hours, but I finally got into the groove of relaxing and really enjoyed myself! And my babies were just fine! In fact, they hardly missed me either day. Although The Princess did have a tough time sleeping and kept Hubby up from midnight until 3 or 4 am. I didn't find out until the next day, but he said it was fine and even took all 3 kids to the local Bounce House on his own for the day. As my brother always says, "That man is a Saint!"
It was nice to get "recharged" a bit. Spending time with family and friends and focusing on my spirituality always inspires and builds me up so much. I feel like I can once again give the best of myself to my most important endeavor-raising my babies!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
We loaded up the minivan with just about everything in the house and the 3 kids and headed to Vermont to visit friends. It was our first big Road Trip as a family of 5! I wasn't sure how it would go with a nursing baby and 2 energetic toddler boys. But, it was fantastic! Ms. Meeghan and Mr. TJ and their kids gave us a warm welcome and such hospitality!! Their girls are close in age to our boys and their baby boy (our Godson) is only 6 weeks younger than Isabella. So it worked out nicely and everyone had someone to play with. It was fun staying with another family and it made it so much easier for us to travel with the kids. Our hosts made sure we had air conditioning in our rooms and a crib for the Princess and a space for the boys to set up camp. The girls were so gracious about sharing toys with our kids and everyone really got along. I enjoyed having some Mama Time and chatting with Ms. Meeghan. We have been friends since we were roomies in a volunteer community after graduating college. We have have alot in common including our faith, so I always feel renewed and inspired after our chats. And Mr. TJ has lots in common with Hubby, they are both amazing husbands and fathers and they are very creative and artistic, so luckily they get along well. It was especially nice when Ms. Meeghan and I were able to kick them out for a bit so we could have Girl Talk. Although there really wasn't much arm twisting involved when we suggested they go for beers. Hubby heard beers and immediately thought of wings and that was about all the convincing needed, they were off the couches and out the door in under 3 minutes, LOL!!
We stayed for 2 nights. We had time for relaxing and hanging around at the house and enjoying meals all together. And we also made some time for a tour of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and a some shopping for the Mamas while the guys and kids went to a local park. It was a nice mix! A refreshing break from reality. We were pleasantly surprised that all 6 kids were in bed asleep by 8 pm both nights. We were pretty impressed with ourselves to say the least, LOL!!
As for the car ride, I thought it would be a long, dreadful trip. But, it turned out to be so much fun. On the way up we sang songs and talked for nearly 3 hours and then plugged in the DVD player for a movie. On the way home they requested movies right away and then everyone slept except for our Bear who said he was "just relaxing and looking out his window."
We are so thankful to have good friends to share time with as a family! Such a blessing!! We look forward to many more visits as the kids grow older together.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Over the weekend Hubby took Luccio to see his first Yankees Game in NY! They took the train and everything!! Very exciting experience for The Bear! And since it was Cenzo's Special Day with me, I let him choose what he wanted to do. I told him we could go to a museum, amusement park, anywhere at all. And he chose to go to Target and The Shrine. Target is his most favorite place on Earth. He constantly tells us, "you can get that at Target." Or "This is a nice store, but it's nice as good as Target." So off to Target we went. He wanted a specific toy that he had seen on one of our previous trips. A horse trailer for mini horses. Unfortunately the first Target we went to had sold out of them. So we went in search of another Target a few towns over and found the trailer!! And several horses! Next, we went to the Shrine with Stregga. It is a special place for me and I enjoy the Peace and quiet of it as I have previously blogged. Well, Cenzo really enjoys going there too. He says he likes the quiet. But, I think he also likes the yummy cookies at the snack bar and shopping in the gift shop. Everyone was delighted to see him and gave him special attention and treats. We spent a couple hours wondering the grounds & visiting with some friends. We lit candles and said some prayers. We looked for frogs and listened to Nature. It was truly a beautiful day!! It probably wasn't as exciting as a train ride to NYC! But, it was perfect for our Mama Cenzo Day!
Yesterday I had my Weight Watchers (WW) Meeting. It was great! I lost another 1.4 pounds so I was thrilled with that. And my WW Leader was as motivational as ever!! She had great advice and she ended the meeting with a fantastic quote, "Watch your actions, for your actions become your habits. Watch your habits for your habits become your character, watch your character, for your character becomes your Destiny."
And she said we should all make it our Destiny to be Losers!! Her parting words are always, "I will see less of you next week!" She really cracks me up!! And totally motivates me. She has practical advice and lots of quotes and slogans to help me get through the week. And before I sound like a total advertisement for WW, I would just like to mention that I am not paid for my opinion in any way. That has never stopped me before, so onto my soapbox I shall climb!! I will be a Loser!!!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I have been craving quiet time lately. Just time to sit and think a coherent thought for 2 or more consecutive minutes. Luckily, Hubby was off from work on Monday, so I got up early and went out by myself. I went to a local Shrine that I really love. It is a beautiful place, the most peaceful place I have ever been with the exception of Assisi, Italy. I took my journal and a pen and my camera and off I went. The Shrine doesn't have services on Mondays so there wasn't anyone around when I arrived. I went up to the Grotto and sat on a bench. And for minute I was a bit scared because there wasn't a human in sight and I heard rustling in the woods. I realized it was just squirrels and not the black bears I had worried it would be! I laughed out loud at how nuts it was to be afraid of a squirrel and thought how about long it had been since I had been really alone without another person around anywhere! I tried not to be too distracted by all that and proceeded with enjoying my quiet time. I opened my journal and wrote and wrote and thoughts just spilled out on to paper. Actual paper. In a notebook. It was weird to be writing and not typing. I have to admit I made a lot of errors and found myself scribbling a bit. I switched on and off from print to cursive and back and found most of what I wrote was not legible. Ugh! Had it really been that long since I wrote more than my signature?? I used to be an avid journaler, starting from when I was 8 years old until about 4 years ago when the kids were born, I would write at least weekly if not more. Now I just jot down a thought or 2 every couple of months in my journal. The rest of my "writing" is done through email, facebook or this blog.
I quickly got into the flow of writing and blocking out the distractions around me and then, it started raining. Seriously???!!!!! I finally get 3 kids coordinated, free time with no other obligations, a quiet place with no other humans, and it rains?? ugh!!
I thought of just sitting there until it passed, but my pages were getting soaked and the ink was running so I decided to go up to the Main House and see if it would be okay to sit in a quiet spot there for a little while. The Main House is the private Residence/Office/Retreat Center of the Shrine. So I talked with the Secretary, she is so fantastic and I have known her for years. She said to feel free to find a comfortable spot. The only people in the house that day were cleaning staff so she said if that didn't bother me for them to be running around cleaning I could stay as long as I wanted. I assured her that as I long as I didn't have to change anyone's diapers, they could run around all they wanted!
An hour flew by in what felt like minutes. I looked at the clock and knew it was time to wrap up the morning and head towards home. But, first I stopped in the Gift Shop on my way out. My Mom volunteers there and it happened to be her morning on. So I visited for a bit. There weren't many customers in yet and the store needed a some rearranging and organizing so I stayed to help Mom get started with that project It was so much fun! I love looking at a room and trying to figure out how to set it up and decorate (as long as its not in my own house, LOL!)
I had an iced coffee, I chatted with mom and few other people I knew who were milling about the grounds and then I headed home. It was such a relaxing morning that I felt like I had gone for a massage or something. It was balm for the soul. I needed to recharge and being in a peaceful place and writing was such a scared experience!
Monday, July 19, 2010
The backyard was massive, as in GI- NORMOUS!!!! There was a bounce house, a bouncy water slide, a sprinkle, tents set up, so much food, it looked like a professionally catered event. I sat with some of the other moms I know from school and chatted and we had fantastic afternoon!! Stregga and Papa had the Princess for me, so I was free to sit and relax while the boys played for hours!! Some of the other moms mentioned that they had been have Dumpy Days all week too, we attributed it mostly to the heat, lack of sleep and no school to drop the kids off at! It was great to hear others feeling the same way. It wasn't the "misery loves company" thing either it was more like identifying with Kindred Spirits!! We have chatted over the past school year, but didn't really get beyond the small talk of "so how many hours have you slept since you have had kids??" Until yesterday. It was the first time I learned that one woman had hike the Appalachian Trail alone for 6 months!!! OMG!!! It was amazing to hear her stories! It got me thinking of my own travel experiences and dreams. Motherhood is my number one priority at this point in my life and I love it. But, it was so nice to be able to share stories and experiences of how we got here and what shaped us into the women we have become. And I am still trying to formulate how I will get myself back to Italy for a visit in the near future. I have come up with some plans that are pie in the sky dreams and others that may actually work, but it remains to be seen. I need to dream though! There is power in positive thinking and putting it out to the universe. At least that is theory behind the ever-popular book The Secret. Not sure if I buy it, but it can't hurt to try.
The party invite had said 12-3, but several of us were so into our chatting that we ended up being there until 4:30 Our hosts were so gracious and welcoming and the kids behaved so nicely and played together for hours!! The yard was so big that at one point we literally had our own tent to hang out in! Finally, I had to force myself to round up the kiddies and go get the Princess. I was so relaxed I could have easily set up a sleeping bag and stayed the night!! What a great treat it was!!