As the stories we read with Seth have become longer and more involved, singing at bedtime stopped for a time. Due to some rockiness in bedtime recently (probably due to re-starting preschool), we have started singing again, which all of us enjoy. The first time I chose two songs I sung often when Seth was a baby: “Frere Jacques” (once in French and once in English), and “Till There Was You,” and now those are the standards. Seth is particularly partial to the latter, and loves to sing along.

Here’s a sweet recording of Dada and Seth’s duet (the video is pitch black — the audio is the important part).

‘Till There Was You from Eel Fang on Vimeo.

(For reference, here’s the original source material: The Beatles’ cover)

We managed to get a few more adventures in before school started…

Jetty Island! Todd had somehow never been before, so we were able to bring him, and meet with up with the rest of Todd’s family too :)

ferry

seaweed

cousins
cousins

A trip to Mt Rainier! None of us had ever been, and it was a blast. We visited one visitor’s center, went on two hikes, and saw a few different creatures, all in one day.

great wheel
this was at Recycled Spirits of Iron sculpture park, on our way to Mt Rainier – worth the stop

marmot!!!
MARMOT!

bear grass
bear grass – which we were all excited to see in person, as we have read about it in O is for Orca

tree huggers
giving a hug to one of the many trees on the “Grove of the Patriarchs” hike

And one more camping trip, complete with a ferry ride to get to the campground!

ferry goblin

mosquito repellant

Back when summer started, we made a “Summer Fun List,” inspired by this Mudpie Mamas post. Here’s our list:

summer fun list
(click on the picture to go to what is hopefully a readable version on flickr)

With one week until preschool starts back up again, we only have one item left to accomplish…Mt Rainier, which is where we are headed *sometime* within the next 10 days. In the meantime, we have made some wonderful summer memories, both on and off-list:

leopard piano
these pianos were part of a public art & music project in a nearby city

kangaroo cuddles
visiting the kangaroo farm

jetty island
enjoying Jetty Island with friends

rock candy
making (and eating!!) rock candy

sunflower
growing a sunflower

Some of the processes between preparing for our open adoption and becoming licensed foster parents, are the same, and some are very different. This second time around we had to get our fingerprints sent off to the FBI. Unlike last time when we went the courthouse and were surrounded by teachers and sex offenders, this time we were sent to a third party company. Boring! And I was looking forward to having ink rolled on my hands, simply for the sensory experience of it, but now they roll your plain ol’ fingers across a small scanner-type machine. Double boring!

Our written home study last time was a positive description of our home, as well as our lives. “Red walls, cozy kitchen” — stuff like that. This time, there are specific WACs (Washington Administrative Code) that we, and our home, need to comply with. For example, we need to have a 5 lb fire extinguisher. We need to keep a flashlight in the foster child’s room. We can’t feed our foster kids anything home-canned other than pickles and jams. And what I would consider the most disrupting to normalcy: keeping all medicines (both prescription and OTC) and vitamins locked up — with internal, external, pet, and any medicines the foster child may come with, all separated. That said, we were taught to keep in mind that some WACs came about as a direct result of a foster child getting hurt because the foster parents weren’t doing the above.

We have now completed all three of our home study visits. The first was an initial walk-through of our home, seeing what WACs we were already following, a chance to meet Seth, and an interview with me and Todd together. The second was an interview with just Todd, and the third was an interview with just me plus a final review of our home. We also both went through CPR/first aid/blood-borne pathogen training, physicals and got tested for TB. Now we’re waiting to view a draft of the written home study, and hope to have our license in hand within the next few weeks.

At the end of June, we celebrated Seth’s half-birthday with a, what else, science-themed party! I found great ideas on Pinterest (here’s my board if you’re interested in that kind of thing).

Kids could build their own molecules, and Papa borrowed a machine from work that lets you see sound waves. After a few snacks, we headed outside for some experiments and demonstrations, including elephant toothpaste, and a baking soda and vinegar rocket.

young scientist
Scientist Seth

scientist Dada
Scientist Dada

half-birthday cake
science cake!

Despite our friend’s expression in the above picture, I think we all had a lot of fun.

Upon finishing fostering orientation, there were a few different Next Steps we could take. We could start on the big packet of paperwork, or work on some of the other requirements. Todd and I chose to attend the 27-hour training, again thinking that seeking more knowledge, as opposed to filling out forms, would help us discern whether this was right for us.

Because everyone (potential foster families, potential adoptive families, etc) was having to go through the same training, and that kids could be 0-18 when they enter the foster care system, some of the information couldn’t get too specific. The class touched on attachment; recognizing that kids placed in out-of-home care have experienced trauma, simply by being taken out of their homes, not to mention any trauma they experienced prior to then; the range of emotions kids may be having; having compassion for the birth families; advocating for your child; among others. I said to a number of people upon completing training, that even if we didn’t go on to pursue becoming licensed foster parents, PRIDE still would have been well worth our time.

(I’m reaching back into my memory for these. Oh, to have written things down as they were happening!)

Picking up from where we left off, Todd and I were feeling pulled in the direction of pursuing foster-to-adoption. It sounded like a mix of heartbreaking, risky, and a whole lotta hard work. We went to a few orientations to learn more and/or get scared straight:

We visited a private agency that does domestic and international adoptions, as well as works with families to become licensed foster parents. Their fostering program has the same requirements as working directly with the state, but you pay a fee to them for acting as go-between you and the state.

We went to an informational meeting of a program in our county for people who want to foster-to-adopt. This program has since been discontinued due to budget cuts, and the process has been streamlined so that everyone (foster families, foster-to-adopt families, adopting relatives) has the same requirements.

And finally, I went the state-required three hour orientation. This orientation is an overview of the family home study process – the kinds and amount of paperwork in the application packet, what licensors will look for during home inspections, and other requirements (CPR/first aid/blood-borne pathogen class, a physical and TB test, etc).

After all this information gathering, and even though it seemed to confirm our impressions of being heartbreaking, risky and hard work, we still felt like this was what we were meant to do…

This evening during dinner, the conversation turned to how “a baby or toddler may soon come live with us for a while.” (This seems to be the phrase I always use.) I asked Seth if he was still okay with that, and he said he was. He also asked if the baby or toddler would live with us for the rest of our lives. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to say (for the first of what will probably be many times) that we don’t know, and we’ll have to practice staying flexible. I told him how the best thing would be for the baby or toddler to go back to their regular family, if it’s safe for them to do so. But if it’s not safe for them to go back to their family, then they would live with us for a long time. Seth then said that if they do go back to their regular family, he would want us to live in the house right next door to their family’s house. Or even build a hammock on the back of their house for us to stay in.

(Time out to say that I LOVED that Seth said this. He may not have meant it any way other than he wants to be able to play with the kid even after they move on, but what I heard is that openness in relationships and families is the norm. Yeah!)

And then the conversation continued:

S: Let’s buy two kids!
B: Um, you don’t buy kids.
S: Then let’s get two kids…from the grocery store.

Seth’s birth-grandma, Gale, got ordained on Pentecost, so we figured it was the perfect opportunity for a visit!

voodoo doughnuts
After food truck lunch in Eugene, we somehow found room for dessert at Voodoo doughnuts

Half of our reason for driving down was so we could stop at Crater Lake for the benefit of our young volcanologist. Little did we realize that there would still be a bunch of snow in mid-May, and that we could only gaze at the lake from afar. It still got a big thumbs up, though:

crater lake

klamath falls
We stayed the night in Klamath Falls, after enjoying the street fair that just happened to be held that night. Our dinner was lame, but breakfast at A Leap of Taste was super yummy.

After two days of driving, we arrived at Aria’s house. Being there was so, so lovely.

magic school bus

park picnic
Hanging out with Ethan’s parents (we missed Ethan by a week – doh!)

volcano

curly hair twins

Gale's ordination
Gale’s ordination to Christian ministry – yaaaaay!

cuddles

submarine
Seth had a great time playing with his uncles

On the way back, Todd and I talked up Paul Bunyan at the Trees of Mystery, which Seth has been playing since then. We also stayed the night in a yurt, which was super handy since it started pouring rain in the middle of the night.

on paul bunyan's boot
Lives up to the hype

oregon coast
The Pacific Ocean: also pretty rad, even in the rain

tillamook cheese van
The Tillamook cheese factory: not worth it

Overall, a wonderful trip to see some of our favorite people.

open adoption gets two thumbs up
Open adoption gets two thumbs up!

The only mention of Eelfang 2: The Sequel was back in July 2012. Oof! There is a lot of information to fill in between then and now, but for the moment, I’ll simply throw out the teaser that we are within spitting distance of getting our foster care license.

In our search to educate ourselves about this new (to us) world of foster care, I stumbled upon fosterpodcast.com. I have listened to a number of their episodes, and have mentioned them to a number of family members and friends. They even point you to three good starting episodes on their About page. You should check it out!

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