#lookwhaticando

Everything from this word on is my soapbox speech aimed inward.  I am becoming my own teacher/guru and demanding that I push myself further.  If you relate to my words and are able to apply a thought to your own life-great!  If not, read on and don’t judge me…because I have a confession…

I have a kid mentality.

I had my turn at being a kid.  I’m not sure when my turn stopped, because life kept going and I didn’t realize that a landmark day had passed and I was acting younger than my chronological age.  The following is the list of examples that I image2struggle with each and every day.

1.  I waste energy and tell myself it’s for my own good.  I sweep the kitchen floor by catching the main area and then bragging to my hubby about my hard work.  I leave out details like “I swept over the piece of dirty sticky tape on the floor 5 times and gave up, not willing to bend over and actually pull it off the floor with my fingers.”  Who cares about dirty sticky tape on the floor?  It’s not like the kids are going to show their friends!  “…and here is our abnormally small kitchen with dirty tiled floor and 5 pieces of sticky tape left because my mom is lazy…”image1

2. I ignore the problem, because it will all end up ok.  Every month, bills come and I address the ones I want to and put off others.  Most of the time, if I’m late paying a bill, it’s because I was procrastinating.  I figure, I’ll get to it later…after I lecture my middle-schooler son on how he isn’t managing his time wisely and that causes lower grades.

3.  I wish without intent.  I wish for a calmer house without the intent on reading a calm parenting book in my Nook library.  I wish for more money without meeting friends for coffee to help me brainstorm ways to save or make more green.  I wish for date nights without actually calling a babysitter and planning a night out with my man.

4.  I brag before I complete.

 “Look what I can do!”  I brag about my article before it’s written, my job before I complete the task, and my pinterest board ideas.

All of a sudden, I realized that these were things I did as a 5 year old.  They worked ok then.  My mom didn’t mind finishing my chore for me and praising me for the work I began.  At 5 years of age, if I ignored the fact that it was bath night in hopes my parents would forget, too…or if I made a 5 page wish list covered in glitter and rainbows without any thought to working toward those goals on my own…or if I showed my mom my homework that was 1/2 complete because it had been 20 minutes since I heard affirmation from her it wouldn’t be a second thought.  Because at 5 years old, I was the center of my universe.  I had emotional and psychological needs that were met with constant attention from my parents, family and friends.

And now, 30 years later, I’m still learning.  I’m still learning that every little thing I skimp out on, won’t just disappear.  Later that sticky tape will have collected lint and dirt to the point of annoyance.  And then I have a choice between decided ignorance and bending down to scrape the gunk off the floor so I can enjoy my abnormally small (but cleaner) kitchen while I cook with my hubby tonight.

I choose to stop the kid mentality so I can show myself and my children that growing up means responsibility but it also means fully enjoying all I have been given.

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#what2014actuallylookedlike

We had a great Christmas. As a family of 8, we celebrated our full home and hearts. Having six kids reminds me of how much I wanted this. It reminds me of how much work it took to become a foster family and the insanity that is fostering long-term. Having six kids also reminds me of what I (as a newlywed 20-something) thought my family would look like and what it actually does look like.

What I thought 2014 would look like:
1. I would be a physically fit, happy professional, expertly balancing a high-paying office job and a functional family life.
2. My family would consist of my 2 kids, a dog, my husband and me residing in a hip, urban dwelling while enjoying a cultured and playful existence.
3. I would be a successful writer, penning creative pieces for local publications while continuously laboring over my autobiography, toggling between feeling egocentric for selfishly thinking other humans would care what happened in my life and feeling obligated to share my story with the world because I had achieved success and isn’t that what everyone wanted in life?!

What 2014 actually looked like:
1. I am a self-proclaimed yogi wannabe with an affinity for anything wellness related but holding tight to my size 14 wardrobe while I work each day to try to fulfill my daily obligation as an entrance-level case worker and a veteran wife/mom/foster mom.
2. My family consists of me, my husband of 14 years, our 2 birth kids, 2 new foster kids, 1 foster-to-adopt toddler, a foster baby and 2 stinky dogs living in a 5 bedroom rented home in a historic neighborhood of a mid-sized Midwestern city.
3. I write. I will always write. Not because I’m special (although I know each of us are something special) but because I need my thoughts to be tangible and visible reminders that the person I was in 2000 and the person I became in 2014 don’t conflict with one another, but instead, they compliment the explanation of who I am.

I haven’t failed in life just because I don’t live in a swanky downtown loft.
Nor have I succeeded in life because I achieved both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

I don’t have a story to tell that’s full of how-to’s and step-by-step life instructions.
I have a story to tell that has lots of “once upon a times” and a “happily ever afters” that are never followed by “the end”.

I haven’t become the person my 20-year-old self dreamed of.
I could never have dreamed I would experience true love, forgiveness, pain, restoration, light, devastation, peace and hope on a continuous cycle.

That’s not a dream meant for a 20-year-old Kristina.
It’s a surprise reality. A happily ever after to experience again and again and again.

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#thatsmyjam

Sometimes I feel that my “cause” is every cause. Every commercial I see, each blog I read, and all the speeches I hear seems to inspire me to do something good. I feel that each time I hear a passionate statement supporting an important ideal, I want to break out in dance and yell,

“ooooh, that’s my jam!” Don't Stop Believing!

My heart wants to make a difference, a real and tangible difference, in the life of someone else. I think many people relate to this desire but they have a hard time finding where to start.

When working to promote your cause or platform, my advice: read, watch, and listen. Grab every tidbit of info you can and digest it. Talk about it with those you love. Talk about it with those you don’t love. Debate (if that’s your thing) but don’t lose sight of what you are trying to do…learn and educate others.

Once you know you found your cause, like I-can’t-stop-telling-every-breathing-body-about-this-cause, then you know it’s something you need to focus on. Now you need to become an expert in marketing. Are you ready? Because teaching other about promoting community-enhancing organizations and causes is one of MY causes.

Step 1: Become an expert in your cause. Learn who is leading the fight, who is promoting the fight, and who you’re fighting for. Learn why it’s important and why others need to be educated. Your friends and family want to support what matters to you, but they don’t have the time to sift through the garbage to find the gems. Present the gems so they can help promote, too!

Step 2: Practice promotions on your friends and family. Forward them emails/videos/articles (all those gems you found) and write a short statement (2-3 sentences) convincing them that reading/watching/listening to this information will help someone somewhere and why that’s important to you. Keep it simple and poignant.

Step 3: Assess what’s already happening to spread the news and create a simple plan to help. If there is a FB page that is well-managed, brainstorm ways to share this page and their posts. If there are great, reputable news sources reporting on this cause, share those pieces.  Even better, write and submit your own opinions! Remember, you’re an expert! Your voice matters!

Step 4: Continue to learn and educate. Unless world peace has been attained, I’m guessing your cause still needs support even after days, weeks, months and years of reporting and promoting. Don’t stop. Keep learning about your cause, about the key players, and about marketing and promotion. Keep spreading the gems around and don’t let the fire dwindle. Never forget, once upon a time, you read a blog post on promoting your cause and your heart was beating out of your chest in anticipation because your cause needs attention and you need to make a difference!

It’s time to promote! Go!

If you want to know, here is a list of some of my causes. Please let me know if you’re interested in finding out more about the following:

1. Fostercare and adoption (domestic)
2. Family nutrition on a budget
3. Urban poverty
4. Urban farming and local foods
5. Vegetarianism

Newer causes:
6. Peaceful Parenting
7. Anti-consumerism
8. Recycle/Reduce/Reuse
9. Yoga/Meditation

#tenyearsago

Once upon a time, over 10 years ago, a beautiful baby was born. She had bright, curious eyes and a face that captured the attention of all who gazed upon it. The entrancing baby girl grew into a blonde-haired, bouncing toddler. Nobody could tell her enough about the world around her and her favorite word was, “why?”
Now, this same beach beauty continues to mesmerize everyone that meets her. Her eyes betray her and her old soul is obvious. Her observant gaze is unobtrusive but don’t be fooled, she’s always watching, learning about you and your world. And she’ll remember you. She’ll remember your story, your words, your emotions. She lived your life while you shared it with her. Empathy is her gift and her curse. She feels responsible for the outcome of actions beyond her control. She feels others’ emotions, justified or not. She’s quick to anger, faster to apologize. She’s nearly unable to cry for she must be strong for you in your weakness. When you strut with confidence, she follows speaking praises. When you curl up to avoid the world, she silently brings you a blanket.
When you miss her, she knows it and says, “I love you.”
Over ten years ago, my life changed. I didn’t feel the earth shake or tremble. I didn’t even meet that infant girl, nor did I gaze into those curious toddler eyes. But I did fall in love with this amazing human just after she turned 9 years old. She called me, “mom” that first day and I worried it was too soon…but family CAN happen in an instant.
My Ladybird’s birth mom texted me recently and said, “guess what our daughter said…?” Our daughter. OUR daughter.
That curiously brilliant blond beauty is our daughter. And I’ll never be the same.

#tenyearsago

Kristina

#theAword

When pregnancy and birth situations are not ideal, two “A” words are thrown around.  Many of my friends and family are involved in the passionate debate and they have no problem proclaiming which side of the political/religious fence they reside on.  But I’m not here to fight with words or fists.  I’m here to say that these “A” words rock my world and I need to share my experience.

Aa

When it comes to a less-than-ideal-pregnancy, the child that may or may not be born, the mother who may or may not accept that title, and any future for these people and those around them are now part of a situation that is not easy.  It’s never black and whiteright or wrong, and it certainly is not simple.

Quotation-Emily-Giffin-simple-heart-wonder-Meetville-Quotes-68125

If you know me, you know how important it is that I say that.

I struggle with infertility in the form of late pregnancy losses (12 weeks – 23 weeks, 3 times).  I gave birth to a healthy, living child.  I gave birth to a blue-faced, 4# preemie that survived and thrived.  I gave birth to a 23 week stillborn boy who I never held (my choice).  I gave birth to a girl, via surgery, that was also gone before birth and had no body to bury.  I also had a miscarriage at home and that pregnancy was assumed to be another 2nd trimester loss (but we will never know for sure as hCG levels change so quickly after loss.)

I tell you this not to gain sympathy, but for you to have a frame of reference for your ‘crazy friend with all the kids.’ (It’s ok, I love that title!)
I tell you this for you to accept that this crazy friend was (and still is) a mom with a broken heart.  I am a mom with empty arms, crying and aching to cradle her babies without any explanation, reason, or hope for her situation to improve.  Yet, this broken mom who craved only for a houseful of children, is begging you to accept that each pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is not the same.  It’s never easy and it’s never clear.  We may never understand someone else’s situation…and that’s ok.  We were not meant to walk in their shoes…but we can practice empathy and embrace compassion for their unique experience.

It’s not my place to judge.  I don’t get paid enough to do that.  And neither do you (unless you are a judge, and in that case, why haven’t you taken me out for coffee lately?)  It is not our place to say to another, “you should do as I do…even though you may have no capacity, reference, ability, or support to do as I do.”

It IS my place to love.  It’s simple:  it is OUR place to love.  

I accept my responsibility to love by example.  I agree to accept any child who is entrusted to me, for any amount of time that I am blessed to have them.  I will continue to support those working to make our world a better place for ALL of “my” children.  I accept the title “mom” from all children who wish to call me that…and what an honor that any child bestows that title upon me!  I also vow to take a birthmother’s decision seriously and treat it with the reverence and respect she deserves.

I, Kristina Wilmoth, fully my own person in belief, conviction, and experience, believe it IS my place to wish that all birthmothers, who feel they cannot parent, will indeed, choose the “A” word that allows another human (possibly a fellow ‘crazy mom’) to parent their miracle baby.  I will pray.  I will hope.  And I will be disappointed.  For this ideal situation will not always be the end result.  Many times, there is no ‘Happily Ever After.’

But someday, maybe someday soon, I, Kristina Wilmoth AKA ‘ Your Crazy Friend’, will be able to announce that Once upon a time…a pregnancy happened in a less-than-ideal-situation and because of that complicated and emotionally volatile situation, the “A” word is now part of my family and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  It rocks my world.

#theAword
Kristina

#lostkids

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I look for lost kids everywhere.  

As a parent, a local foster parent, and a mandated reporter, I am always on the lookout for children in any kind of need.  I’m not creating issues if there are none, but if my radar goes off, all other issues, appointments, and concerns move to the backseat as I work to bring that child back to safety and wellness.

Recently, my family went to a local attraction with our out-of-town framly (friend+family) members.  Framly members, Uncle C and Aunt Starr spotted a child that had joined our group but didn’t have a visible adult charged over her safety.  We all became lookouts- scanning and searching.  We took turns asking lost girl, “Where’s your mommy?” and breathing a sigh of relief when lost girl showed us her adults.  In that moment, we all were relieved of the duty we had previously taken without a second thought.  We had momentarily become Lost Girl’s interim family as we worked to reunite her with her family of origin. (side note: this is essentially what foster care is)  In those short minutes as her family, we worked to meet her needs and wants, including her desire to have my hubby, Josh, take a picture of her just as he had done for all the other 7 kids in our group.  He approached her, with some hesitation because he didn’t want to over-step his boundaries as her non-parental figure, but the ‘daddy’ in him won and he took a picture in order to see a smile on that round face.

5 days later, I brought our newest foster kiddos (a sibling pair: Lollipop and Lil Dude) to the ER.  It was no medical emergency, but I was exhausted after hitting many roadblocks this week in order to get important foster well-child paperwork signed by a doctor (which is an immediate requirement for foster parents to accomplish in every new placement).  Because of strange billing code issues with insurance, I couldn’t bring the kiddos to our family Pediatrician until the insurance issue is resolved.  So, I opted for a ‘quick’ ER visit, as I have done in the past for 3 other foster kids.

After a long, hot day in the car,running to many appointments for the new foster kiddos, I found myself standing still and frozen in frustration and outrage as our nurse handed my paperwork back to me, unsigned.  The nurse told me that the doctor (Who had just finished a very thorough exam on both kids) would not sign the foster well-check papers because those papers are a “non-emergency” and this is an emergency room.  BUT doctor did sign the papers that state the children are healthy for daycare (I wanna hear you all say “WHAAAA?!”).  This simple event may seem like no big deal to you, but it was the end to my strength and persistence.  I stood in silence for almost 15 minutes until the nurse (a fellow foster mom) awkwardly left saying, “I hope your night goes better.”  The kiddos were happily tying and untying their shoes and I was left with a horrible feeling:

Nobody is going to help me!

(Note: I have an appointment for both kids at another local doctor office that says they WILL accept the insurance and everything is ok, today.)

These two very different stories paint very different pictures of foster care.  Dr. No-Help appeared to be a nice, kind soul.  She had wonderful bedside manners and I appreciated her interaction with the kids.  But her inability to understand how important that paper is to us “screamed” out to me, “Not my problem.”  When I asked the nurse, “what do I do?  This paper was supposed to be submitted days ago and nobody will fill it out!”  Nurse Fostermom said, “I don’t know what to tell you.”  But in my heart, I heard her say, “Not my problem.”  As I cried quiet tears (because when I’m really mad…I cry) other ER staff (that interacted with us when we arrived) appeared confused or sad for me as I fully met their stares while I continued my trek to leave the building.  I’m not going to smooth over this one simple tidbit:  I wanted each and every one of them to know that they didn’t meet our needs because I (and my children) couldn’t be their “problem.”

And we weren’t.

When Dr. No-Help and Nurse Fostermom (figuratively) threw their hands up when they walked out of the exam room, they did so with quiet unease.  They knew they had given me no real help in that situation…but my problem was not their own.

Let me be clear as I step up to my soapbox.  I do not think that the ER should be utilized for non-emergency issues, causing other emergency help to be delayed for those that need it most.  But, when the patient feels there is no other option, ER professionals should work to understand the situation, empathize, and offer solutions that meet the patients’ needs whenever possible.

Now…here’s my soapbox speech:
The state of our society’s lost children-that IS OUR PROBLEM.  Don’t throw your hands up and ignore them.  Don’t walk past them quickly and refuse to acknowledge their situation.  Don’t pretend that you don’t know that there are over 400,000 foster kids in the US!  Because if you didn’t know that before, you do now!  (you’re welcome)

Do something.  Do something small, do something big.  Do something quietly or shout from the rooftops.  Just do something!  If you have foster children in your circle, support them (and all their parents/family).  Sometimes the difference between a bad day and a good day is one smile, one compliment, or one hug.  Be that one person that makes a foster parents’ load a little lighter.  Ask what you can do to raise funds for organizations that support all those touched by foster/adoption.  Share information and educate those around you.  Foster care is an amazing institution full of so many giving people.  Let’s spread that truth and make a real difference!

Want to know what you can do right now?  Comment and let me know you’re supporting me.  I’m not too proud to ask for help and I refuse to ignore my exhaustion.  I want to take care of kids–lots of kids–and I need you all to take ownership, responsibility, and joy as you become aunts, uncles, loved ones to each and every one of those 400,000 children in the system.

They are our kids:  Yours and mine.  Count them!

#countmykids

Kristina

May is National Foster Care Month! Visit the Children’s Bureau’s National Foster Care Month website and learn more about supporting permanence for families involved with child welfare:https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/

National Foster Care Month: Building Blocks Toward Permanent Families

For more information on how to become a foster parent in SW Missouri, contact Family Matters or your local foster agency.

www.familymatterscares.org

 

#mychildhas2moms

 

My child has two moms. 

My child is sociable, happy, well-adjusted, and everyone’s favorite.  I love him with all of me.  Many people know that my child is a foster child and we are his foster family.  Those that are close to him/us know that this fact is not part of his identity nor is it an indication of his worth.  Being a part of the foster system did not elevate my child nor does it tear him down.  

My child’s other mom is quick-witted, friendly, personable, and she loves my child with all that she has.  Many people I come in contact with do not really know Munchkin’s birthmom…and I want to truthfully admit that I’m one of them.  But what I do know is this: Being a part of the foster system is not her identity nor is it an indication of her worth.  She is my baby’s momma and I admire her as my fellow human, as a partner in parenting, and mostly because of her undying devotion to this child…my child.

I love all my children: birthchildren, miscarried, stillborn, foster, and my future adoptive children.  I take ownership, responsibility and great joy in my role as their ‘mum’ for as long as I can…as long as they need and want me to.  I will be their support, guidance, and comfort because I’m fiercely in love with each and every one of them no matter how long they are/were in my home.  This is my life as Kristina, for being part of the foster system is not my identity nor is it an indication of my worth…but being Kristina is.  Many times being a fostermom has felt like it is a bigger part of my life than it really is.  Not that being a fostermom isn’t a big deal…it’s not a title I take lightly…but foster parenting it is not the whole of me.  

Today was a “bad foster day” and I’m emotionally drained and my heart is very broken.  In this moment (for today is only that, a fleeting moment), I choose to remind myself of desires of my broken heart.  I’m devoted to making a difference and I will continue to defend and love those that need it most.  

I do want to grow my family…permanently.  I want to know that when I plan a family vacation, I can count on watching my Munchkin swim in the pool with my “biggers”.  I want to be able to tell my extended family how many kids they should anticipate at holiday gatherings.  I want to be able to write in my child’s memory book and not worry about filtering out “future talk” because I can’t plan on seeing him grow and age.  I want all of these things, and they will happen…but (and this is the most difficult thing to admit to myself) it may not be with this child.  We brought Munchkin home from the hospital, raised him for his entire life, but that doesn’t guarantee any future custodial parental situation.  “Forever” may not happen with this child, but eventually, We will enjoy the security and promise of hope that accompanies that finality named, adoption.  

My child has two moms.  And I’m overwhelmingly passionate by all that those 5 words mean.

#countmykids