Book Review: Notes from a Blue Bike

IMG_1514Over the last 2 weeks I’ve had the pleasure of reading Notes From a Blue Bike; The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, by Tsh Oxenreider, while sitting on the couch feeding the baby. It’s the one time I feel no guilt reading in the middle of the day (OK, let’s face it, I don’t really feel guilt reading during the day when the babies are napping); holding my baby, making sure his bottle stays in his mouth (which is hard to do when you’re engrossed in a good book) and picking up my latest read.

This book was so refreshing. It was an easy read, with SUPER short chapters that made you feel like you actually read something, even though you may have only had 10 minutes to sneak in. Tsh has such a fabulous, cultural background that influences her thinking and her desire to live slower and more intentionally as a family, amidst the crazy American-Dream lifestyle that the majority of Americans live. I found myself nodding and agreeing out loud with MUCH of what she said.

This book is perfect for anyone wanting to think deeper about the way their family is living, what their goals are and how to go about slowing life down just a little. It’s a lot about swimming upstream in our culture, which isn’t a bad thing, by the way, and creating dead space to veg out and let our minds wander; it’s about what’s best for YOUR family and living out who YOU are, not some formulaic way of life that “everyone” lives.

And of course, it’s always fun when you read a local author. Tsh is currently living in Bend, Oregon, but I’m guessing she’ll get a hankering to get out of dodge and travel world-wide sooner than later. So go on! Go request it at the library or download it to your kindle – it’s a great summer read!

Respite to the Rescue

A few days ago I put up a little something on FaceBook about respite care. I was so (happily) surprised at the number of messages I got in response from friends wanting to help! Thank you for your willing hearts! I thought it’d be easiest to address everyone’s questions via a post, instead of sending out several of the same messages separately.

Facts about Respite Care:

1. It’s NEEDED.

Foster families are (in general) pretty taxed in terms of both numbers (of children) and just the basic energy it takes to raise foster kids. They need breaks. Sometimes just for coffee. Sometimes for an actual date. Or maybe just a boring dentist appointment that they NEED to get to. Most foster families don’t have someone that is either willing or able to take their foster children as their own for a day or sometimes for the week. Having a break is sometimes exactly what is needed to regroup, re-energize and refocus on their job as foster parent. And knowing that you are a safe, loving, capable person, makes it SO much easier to hand over “their” baby/child to you.

2. Do I have to have special training?

Nope. You do need to fill out a simple form (as well as every adult that lives in your house) that is processed rather quickly in-house at the local DHS office. It’s basically a background check to be sure you are a safe person without a criminal history. You also need to have lived in the state for the last 5 years.

3. Can I do respite for one particular family or do I get put on a list for strangers to call?

That is your choice. If you have a foster family that needs help and your heart is to come along side and help in this way, then by all means YES! And if you have a heart to help whoever needs help – YES!

4. Can I choose to only take babies?

Sure. You can decide how you are best able to help. If taking one baby at a time is what you can handle, then that’s fabulous. If taking on the entire sibling group for the foster family is something you can do — SWEET! If you are a nurse and can take medically fragile babies — what a blessing! It’s difficult to find foster parents who are trained in the area of feeding tubes and oxygen masks, let alone respite providers!

5. Do I get paid for this?

Good question. You can choose to do it for free and bless your foster parent. But it’s not expected. You can work that out individually with each foster family. The honest truth, when you break down how much foster families get paid, it works out to be about $0.80-$1.05/hour, depending on the age of the child. Trust me when I say, foster parents don’t do this for the money. That is a myth and just plain ignorance on the part of anyone who has that opinion.

6. How long will I have the kids?

This will depend upon what your foster family is needing. I know of some foster families who had a special respite provider who would act like a Big Brother/Sister to older kids and had a scheduled time to come pick up a certain kiddo, take them out and hang out for a few hours once a week. It was a welcome reprieve for this family and something they could look forward to. But being available on an evening or weekend for the couple to have a date night? Priceless. Being available/willing to take a child (or children) for an entire week for a family to go on vacation, family reunion, job travel, etc.? Just amazing. {And please don’t judge the foster family for choosing to take or not take their foster child with them—this is very personal and you don’t know all the varying facts regarding each individual case.}

7. How do I start?!

Yay! If you are ready to start blessing some foster parents by being a respite provider, then simply send me a message (via FaceBook or email @ tnraichart@gmail.com) and include your address. I will send you the forms and get the process rolling!

April Happenings…

What a blessing we had in April – SO MUCH SUN! WE tried to take advantage of it all.

I’m so thankful for Ruby – she is such an amazing big sister. She runs from the bus, every day, straight to Jo’s waiting arms and picks her up and says, “Let’s go play!!” Her imagination still runs wild and full of innocent fun, that includes her 19 month old sister. And although we don’t have acres of forest to build all-natural forts, she improvised like a champ. Seeing her read to Jo makes my heart happy.DSC_5119This girl. Sticker on nose. Jumping like her brothers – crazy! I had fun playing with angles while they were jumping too. Basically by laying on the trampoline and shooting up, while they are jumping, it gives an impression that she is higher than she is. You should try it. DSC_5115…and Ruby had fun adding some moves to make it look even higher… DSC_5106Aunt Teala comes to visit! We visited the Portland Saturday Market {briefly, because let’s face it, 7 kids on a hot day walking through vendors without buying anything = crabby kids} before heading up to Sandy to see extended family. We sure do miss having her here. We’re hoping that she’ll be back in a few years…wink, wink. DSC_5073 DSC_5073-2Of course Jo loved being in her stroller and wanted to sit the whole time. Not.  DSC_5070 We also visited The Spoon Guy. Tad and I bought monogram spoon rings when were dating 20 years ago. It was fun to revisit them and see what new contraptions that have now…including knife headbands. They’ve been at the market for 40 years! Make sure to check them out if you’re down there.DSC_5061 DSC_5059Me and the gang. I love these little hoodlums. They contribute daily to my gray hairs, but I’d have it no other way.  DSC_5053While Teala was here, we got everyone else together for a family dinner. First time in YEARS that all 5 of us siblings were in the same place at the same time. Good times. DSC_4856 DSC_4852Jo has met Aunt Teala when she was born, but didn’t remember her. She warmed up to her in no time, of course. And baby got to meet her too.  DSC_4844 Sisters. As you can see, Jo is not lacking in personality.DSC_4838 Thanks to Groupon Jo gets to jump at the mini Pump it Up with her bestie, Treva. Both adopted just 8 weeks apart, they will have a special bond for years, I’m imagining. DSC_4825 DSC_4824 DSC_4823 The girl has fear, I tell you. No fear.

DSC_4816DSC_4821  DSC_4813 DSC_4812I love the simplicity of toddler play. No need for fancy, plastic toys. Just a bowl of water on a sunny day. DSC_4776Thanks, April, you treated us well.

Hope

Have you ever seen Cheaper by the Dozen with Steve Martin? This morning was a bit like that in our house. You know, when the baby won’t stop crying (unless you are holding him), your daughter needs you to do her hair, your other daughter has no shorts to wear on an 86 degree day (because she grew – who knew?) and she’s doing a little freak out, and because of said freak out she spills the entire cup of green smoothie on your (supposed to be) white carpet and runs out the door saying, “sorry mom! but remember the smoothie on the floor…”, when your boys “clean” their room and in the process bring 7 loads of laundry down (a few of which are still clean and folded, but never made it to the drawers.

{insert big sigh}

And the cherry on top? We were served court documents today, via the Sheriff coming to our house, because the case against him and his company (that they won last year) is not over. Now the disgruntled employee is going after Tad, outside of the company. Awesome.

{I’m thinking the enemy is not too happy with the fact that we started fostering again – oh well.}

I’m sure you all have times like this, right? It’s called life. We have choices – sit down on the floor and throw a huge tantrum (tempting at times, for sure), try to forge my way through it on my own or…take rest and refuge in the Lord. He is our Rock and our Hope. That’s why I tattooed it on the back of my neck (in Kanji) – when we have nothing (and we are far from having nothing) left, we have Hope.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who HOPE in His mercy. (Psalm 147:11)

In a very imperfect life, with “Cheaper by the (half) Dozen” days, God is still God and he says to “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14)

I hope this encourages someone tonight. If you’re walking through the fire, feeling as though life is just a wee bit overwhelming, lean on Him. He can handle it. It’s not that our perfect plan is the same as God’s perfect plan, or that our timing is the same as His; rather our that faith and trust in Him is real and tangible. He will be your Rock if you let Him.