Update on the Ortega crew

It has been a hot minute since I have sat down and wrote a blog. I still write side notes when an idea comes to my mind but have you ever been so busy in life that your hobbies are pushed to the side. These past three months I felt like I needed to find myself again. I love to stay busy, and if I am not working, I feel like I am going crazy. Besides that, I wanted to update everyone how we have been. Life has been fantastic and emotional and crazy busy! We have finally adopted our oldest daughter. I will have a blog soon all about her adoption, but please welcome Miss Emily Elizabeth May Ortega. It is crazy to think I am officially a momma. I know many may think you are already a momma, no guys! I am finally a momma! No one can take her from me; no one can make any decisions for her other than her father and I. y’all my name is now on a freaking birth certificate, this feeling is amazing. Emily is thrilled to have a forever home and no more foster care finally. She is struggling a little in school, but I feel like she had a hard time transitioning from a semester of homeschooling to public. In homeschooling, I pretty much had to start at 3rd and 4th-grade levels because she moved so much in the past three years there wasn’t much learning retained. I think that homeschooling benefited by allowing me to help her reach the grade she was supposed to be, but public school is helping her build those social skills she needed. SInce being in public school math and science has been her struggle but we are happy she is progressing. We have also noticed she is communicating with her peers in a healthy way. SHe no longer fights or bullies kids either, so I have seen her grow so much this past year it makes me so proud of her. She has changed so much to better herself, and it is paying off. I believe she sees it too and is much happier with who she is.

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Our two middle sons will be reunified with their biological grandmother here shortly. We have a great bond with their grandmother, and I feel like that is helping with all those crazy emotions you get when children are reunifying. We have had our boys for almost a year! They are the sweetest and so polite, I see bright futures for both of them. Our oldest son is starting to open up more and more. I am noticing his change, and it melts my heart that he is more optimistic as the time goes on. Our youngest son is a little stinker and always joking with us. He enjoys coming up to me and massaging my head. He will let me know every time that every momma deserves to relax, and I agree with him 100%. They are just the best, and I can’t wait to continue to watch them grow.
Now for the littlest of them all. Our eight-month-old daughter who keeps me on my toes. We went to court mother has relinquished her rights. So next step is the BIP, Full disclosure, and Adoption! Her mother and I have a great relationship, and I feel what she did was so brave and selfless. She is giving this sweet child a second chance at life. We have had Baby K since she was five days old so of course, we are thrilled to have this opportunity to be her forever family. As she is growing and learning I am loving her little but feisty personality. She is such a happy and loveable baby. She is starting to roll over and is realizing her body can go places. It is the cutest thing when she discoveries new things. She loves to eat; we have been doing the baby led weaning since she was three months old and it has been perfect. I plan on writing a blog about this too. She is allergic to tomatoes and hates! Bananas. We also learned that she is allergic to sunscreen. So if any of you mommas have any suggestions to protect her from the sun let me know. I tried five different brands so far, we have done a patch test before making that mistake again, and all of them create a rash. So as of right now, we care many hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas when we are outside. Thankfully she loves to wear her hat and sunglasses. I can’t wait to share the adorable photos once she is officially an Ortega.
I decided to take an anxiety and stress class. It is a ten-week class we are now on week 8. Now going into this class, I had never thought that I had experienced anxiety, the stress, of course, anxiety not even. I thought anxiety is when people couldn’t mentally pull it together get through a situation. Wrong and so thankful I decided to take this class. It has taught me how to prevent anxiety outbreaks with kids who are in care. How to identify triggers and how to help them through an anxiety attack. How to avoid stress and ways to cope. I took the class because I wanted to be able to help my kids more when it came to this. At the same time I realized there was a lot I needed to do in my life as well. My oldest daughter and mother have joined me in this class as well, and it has helped our relationships grow. I would suggest that if anyone deals with anxiety or stress to attend a class. On to my wonderful husband, he is studying for a test and will be taking the test soon. Updates on that once he is ready to announce it. I am so proud of him. HE supports us and takes care of us so well. I appreciate him so much; he tries so hard to get off of work to pick up the kids from school. That may seem silly to some of y’all, but he understands that loading three kids all in car seats to do pick up can become a pain. Especially if they have fallen asleep! Don’t wake the kids if you don’t have too. I only work Wednesdays and Saturdays, so he does go above and beyond to provide for us, and I can’t thank him enough for that. I never thought I would be a stay at home mom. We would joke that he would be the stay at home dad because I loved to work and was not about to stop what I loved to do. Now looking back it all fell into place. Julian can grow in his career and do what he enjoys every day. I can experience motherhood whole heartily. It has been fantastic watching our children grow, and for that, I will forever be thankful.
I am surprised I was able to write this much. Our youngest daughter is learning that mommy’s hip isn’t where she always needs to be. So she has played this long for me to finish up the blog. I hope y’all enjoyed the update and looked out for more blogs to come. Thank you all and have a beautiful day!
-Momma K and the bunch
xoxo

A letter to our daughter’s mother: our adoption story.

We are approaching our adoption, and I am overwhelmed with so many emotions. This adoption has been a long-awaited moment, and we can’t wait to see what our future holds with our daughter. 
Throughout this whole process, it has been heavy in my heart to write to our daughter’s Biological mom. I know little about her but just want to thank her for giving our daughter life but Most importantly giving her a second chance in life.

To the wonderful woman who gave life to our daughter,
I just want you to know we are proud to call her our daughter. The beautiful gift we were very fortunate to receive, is telling me what a significant loss another woman experienced. I don’t mean that by any disrespect. You pushed aside your selfish acts to make sure she has a better future and with that shows how beautiful you truly are. Don’t think for a moment that she won’t know who you are and where she came from.
It takes a lot for someone to realize that this precious gift deserves the world. For whatever reason, no judgment on your part, you were unable to give this child the future they deserve. I just want you to know I can’t thank you enough for being brave and making sure your child’s future is going to be magical. I want you to know she is very loved and well taken care of. She has grown so much and is such a beautiful young lady. I appreciate that you carried this child under your heart and gave her life.
So please don’t feel ashamed or guilty because you gave her up for adoption. I speak of you with all the respect you deserve because you gave our daughter a second chance. You gave her life, and we thank you for that. I don’t want you to worry, her father and I will treasure and guard her with our lives. I will make sure she has the best opportunities in life.
We will honor the sacrifice you made when you made the impossible choice to give her up for adoption.
Thank you for this amazing child. No matter what she will know who you are and what brave choice you made and how much you love her for doing this.
Thank you and Take care.
Julian and Kristina Ortega

5 tips to stay organized

5 ways to stay organized as a Foster Parent
1. Color Coordinate
2. Buy a planner
3. Have a spot for homework and backpacks
4. Chore list
5. Filing cabinet

I know many people panic being first-time foster parents. I did! I decided to share some ways to stay organized. I hope it helps with those who struggle with being first-time foster parents or anyone who is needing help to get organized with kids.

 

COLOR COORDINATE

Color coordinating has been a lifesaver! I purchase everything from the dollar store when it comes to baskets and totes. I buy bulk toothbrushes, and brushes off my amazon prime account and make sure they come in all different colors, plus they come cheaper that way. A visit to Walmart and they have a variety of separate color towels and wash clothes. The pens I use for my planner I purchased at Sam’s club and bought the color bundle set. When it comes to their lotion and hair product I use my label maker to put their names on the items and highlight it according to their color. It may seem like a lot of work, but the payoff is so worth it. If children leave things laying around, I don’t have to search I just look to see what color it is. I have a closet that I put everyone’s basket including Dad and I we have all our toiletries in there as well as our towel folded in the front. Our closet is located right before the bathroom, so this has been very effective when it comes to staying organized. We also noticed that new placements aren’t so lost when trying to figure out what is theirs and where it belongs.

BUY A PLANNER

I use The Happy Planner to stay organized, it has a primary calendar, and it also has the day to day planning. I have a blog all about on my page if you want to know all the details. Whoever has an appt or school functioning I use my color coordinating system to manage my planner for their events or mine. Typically try to use sticky notes for reminders throughout the day so that I can stay focused. It helps with sports, visits, projects and so much more. This organization tip helps when you get a new placement in because Those next 48 hours are hectic. So being organized right off the bat will help with a smoother transition.

HOMEWORK AND BACKPACK SPOT

If you can find a spot in your house for backpacks and homework, I will encourage you to do so. If you are not able, my suggestion to you is set a homework time so that it stays organized where ever you decide to set the kids down to do homework. In our house, we have the backpack wall. I just used command hooks to hold the backpacks up off the ground and spray painted them to the color of each child. IF you don’t want a wall of bags, my other suggestion would be a spot in their room, so it is still off the ground and organized as well. Do what works well for your family. Everyone knows that Our homework spot is our dining room table! Every kid knows that if someone is there doing their homework, it is quite a time! I have extra pencils and paper laying out every day after school just in case. I use my cooking timer during reading to time the kids. Some of my children prefer to go into their room to read which is fine the timer is loud enough for them to hear it.

CHORE LIST

Every day after school everyone has a chore, they first do their homework and typically while I am cooking dinner they will start on chores. Mothers dream to walk out of the kitchen to a spotless house, right? If only but it is the thought that counts. You usually get kids who 1. Have never cleaned 2. They had to clean for punishment 3. They hate to clean and will throw a fit to get out of it 4. Love to clean.
At our house, we use an award system, and I am not talking like do a chore, and I will buy you a video game. NO! It is more like do a task, and we will earn our way up to a dessert from McDonald’s. I don’t want to just hand my kids a treat after one duty I want them to learn that when they get older, you must work hard and then comes the gift of life. I have had some many people roll their eyes, but I feel like in my household this system works! I get asked so many times how I raise my kids to be so respectful and well mannered. I don’t want to sugar coat life even with the smallest things like chores.
I made each child a magnetic chore chart ( I plan on making a separate blog on how I made them) It is labeled Monday through Sunday each day I change out their chores. I even have a “FREE DAY” magnetic that the kids try so hard to earn. They can earn it by helping mom without being asked or helping someone else as well. Using their manners while out in public or not fighting with their siblings. There are many ways to earn the “FREE DAY” I also included an everyday side, and I have magnetics made for showers, homework, brush teeth, put on lotion, do your hair, read, etc., everyday things.
The chore list has been a fantastic organization trick because the kids know what is expected of them. They just move they’re magnetic to the “COMPLETE” box, and all I need to do is go check the list and to see what they have done. It has improved our oldest son with being more responsible which I am loving watching this boy grow.

FILING CABINET

My good ol’ filing cabinet that I am quickly outgrowing. I am going to give you a tip just buy the medium size. I bought the smallest one because in my head I thought If I don’t have the room I don’t need it, and if it becomes cluttered it is time to organize it. Wrong! I need more space for filing. Utilizing my color coordinating tip I do it in the filing cabinet as well. So, each child has their file but I forgot I own business, a house and I also have bills! I went in only thinking about the kids. I purchased a bigger one keeping my organization tip in mind don’t go to big, or it will give me a reason to keep filing till I am knee deep in a mess of clutter. I purchased all my folders on amazon prime. It seems like anything that has a bundle of colors is cheaper which helps me in the long run. I use my label maker to stay organized with the filing system. I file by oldest to youngest as well. Now when they go home, I just send them back with the whole file. Any artwork or grades anything that you want mom and dad to have. I keep the things they have drawn me or written to me, and I put all of those in a separate folder for memories. Cause man oh man it is nice to go down memory lane to see just how far these kids have come.

I hope these 5 Organization tips have given you an idea of what may work for your family. If you would like to see any of these tips in a more detailed blog or have any questions, just let me know down in the comments below

– Momma K and the Bunch

Amazing conference

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Our Experience this year was entirely different from last year. I am not sure if it is because we were new last year. This year meant so much more to me. We are almost done with Big A’s adoption, and we are about to send one of the kiddos back to her family. So sitting in the conference and learning more about sibling connections meant so much to us. We learned a significant amount this time around also.

I enjoyed the talks from all the speakers and took notes. I felt so much better leaving this years conference.

Our first day we arrived at the Santa Fe convention center. We found parking fairly quickly and headed up to the main lobby. Now mind you we took all five kids, so my anxiety was high that day. I was praying everything went smooth. To my surprise it did. We were able to sign in our kids and find a seat for Julian, me and Baby K. We decided to go to My Brother’s keeper session, Chauncey Strong is an amazing person. Hearing his story was beautiful. It opened my eyes up so much about sibling connections.

Our second workshop for the day we decided to Join LUVYA members in their presentation about Foster care journey through a youths eyes. I enjoyed this talk because we are about to adopt our 14-year-old daughter and there are days when it is a struggle to understand what is going on with her. It also allowed my husband and I to see the bigger picture when it comes to our youth groups.

We decided to head back to the hotel and let the kids enjoy some swimming. Big A had made a friend who was also in the process of being adopted, and she was staying at the same hotel. So it was nice seeing Big A making friends and enjoying herself. We ended the night with a family movie.

Saturday morning we drove back to the convention center and signed our kids in. Julian and I found our seats and relaxed a minute eating our breakfast. I was very interested in the next session: Celebrate my first Birthday By Sue Harris O’Conner. Her book is about her reflection on transracial adoption. I come from a transracial family, so I was very intrigued to see what her view was and maybe learn something. I, unfortunately, have not read her whole book and as of right now I don’t want to make any comments till I do so, because during her speech I was just rubbed the wrong way and became very disturbed. With what was being said, I couldn’t shake the feeling, and before I knew it, I was getting up to leave her presentation. I plan on reading her book and hopefully have a better understanding of what she was trying to explain during her speech.

After her presentation, we went to a Trauma, Attachment and sensory integration presentation. I loved this class. It taught my husband and me so much about dealing with Trauma. We recently have been dealing with our middle daughter losing her father and our oldest daughter losing her close uncle. Never dealing with something like this before has been difficult. I want to make sure Julian and I get a better understanding whenever we get the chance.

This Foster Conference was so rewarding in so many ways; I love that we were able to take the time to do this as well. Our weekend was great and allowed Julian and I to learn so much more.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

-Momma K and the bunch

What inspires you?

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Growing up I knew I always wanted to be a mom

But I knew I had to be financially stable to do so. I went to college and got a job as a certified nursing assistant. I worked as a CNA for five years before I decided to change my career. I loved being a CNA, but my passion was hair and makeup. I went back to school and received my certificate within ten months. I immediately started my career, and within four short months, I was writing a business plan.

In 2013, I had purchased my first hair salon. I was so dedicated and motivated. I loved what I was doing! The first time in my life I had a talent that was taking off like a wildfire. Business was going great, and I was enjoying every minute of it. 2 years after we opened the doors, I started to think about starting a family. I knew it had to be through adoption and I was ready to take that leap. My husband and I would joke he would be a stay at home daddy because I couldn’t see myself leaving my job to take care of my kids full time. Little did I know God had other plans for me.

In 2016 we started the process, business was still going strong. May 2016 we get our first placement. They were 10 and seven at the time. I figured out my work schedule and clients were more than understanding of having to take kids to and from school. It worked out perfect. It wasn’t until we started to get infants is when the business began to get rocky. Again I have always wanted to be a mom, but I didn’t realize how much time and effort it took to play that role. I decided to stop taking new clients, and if some of my clients hadn’t seen me in 4 months, I dropped them as clients. I wanted to make sure I had a strict schedule at work so I could focus on my babies after work.

At this time I was enjoying being a mom. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was focusing so hard on my little family I was neglecting my business, and it was showing but deep down I just didn’t care. I still went to work, but it was slowing down a lot because I wasn’t staying committed to my clients. I was giving 110% to my children and was realizing quick just how much my love and passion for my business was dying. I love my shop and clients but I was given this opportunity to be a mom, and I can’t seem to focus on my business. Honestly, I am okay with that. I still see very few clients now, and I enjoy the relaxed schedule at work.

It is crazy to see how life was four years ago. Now I can’t wait to spend any given moment with my children. Motherhood to me has been a complete blessing, and I want to make sure I give it my all. I never thought I would be living this life after I was told I was not able to have kids. Being determined to become a mother one way or another I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

I am having a hard time dealing with the relationships I have made in the last four years with clients. I feel like I have failed them but I know they all understand why I made the decision I did, I am not leaving any customer without any notice, and I have taken care of them to make sure they have a new stylist. I just miss that connection with them, but I am loving all the new connections I am making with these children.

My passion for my business may have died down, but my love for my children has grown so much. I hope to make something of my business later in life, but for now, I will raise these children to become successful in life. I feel blessed with how life turned out, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It has shown me so much and has allowed me to find my real passion… Being a MOM!

Perfect Mom!

I am the perfect mom……

 

Being a mom has been such a blessing. It is something I never thought I would have the title “mom.” After years of trying we finally decided to adopt. I was determined to become a mom one way or another. We eventually chose to foster to adopt. Julian and I, were told we had a better chance to get a newborn which is what I wanted so badly. I wanted nothing to do with older kids. Little did I know God had other plans.

Julian and I have been foster parents for 16 months and have had over 30 kids in our home. So many people approach me while in public, on-line, family, friends, case workers, clients, etc. they always tell me you have it all together. Your kids are so well behaved. You make parenting look so easy. You are such a good momma. I wish I were like you. You are such a perfect mom! I ENVY YOU!!! Teach me your secrets…….. STOP!

I dislike being put on the spot. Don’t get me wrong I love when my kids have made a good impression on others. It makes me feel proud as a parent. I do not like when others put me on this pedal stool and worship me. Every child is different, every situation I handle differently. Guess what I don’t have it all together!!! There are no secrets. I go to bed every night thinking to myself; I shouldn’t have told my son/daughter that. I always try harder the next day to be better for my KIDS! No one else but my kids. My world revolves around them, and I love every minute of it. Knowing I can make a positive impact on their lives is my reward. So no I am not the perfect mom, actually far from it. What I have is an imperfect life with imperfect kids and imperfect husband and imperfect dogs. Who by the way just ate all of our deserts. Thank you fur kids, hope you enjoyed it.

I look at every mom and just want to hug her. I want her to know that the mom she is envying has the same flaws just like she does. We mess up every day. I do it more than once every day. What I can tell you is I don’t stress over the small stuff and take every moment with my children and embrace it. I teach my kids the basic manners just like you have with yours. I do homework every night just like you do. I repeat myself 1000000 times to go put their shoes up, just like you do. I am just like you! Your four your old told you No, guess what so did mine. Your teenage rolled her eyes; mine did too. Your kids started to fight over a toy; mine did too. You were on an urgent phone call and gave your kids the evil, guess what so did I ! I also mouthed “go way” just in case you were wondering. You lost your mind during breakfast because you have children whining they are hungry, me too! Guess what they cried breakfast was taking forever I walked away and said eat cereal! Teach them to complain again. So yes I am very imperfect, and I don’t regret any minute of it, I am still learning, and my kids teach me every day to try harder the next day.

We are raising them to go out into the world to be decent human beings, Not robots.

So if you want to call me a “Perfect Mom” well I just joined your party late. We are all Perfect in our way! Enjoy your kids and forget about trying to be cookie cutter mommy.

-Love always, an Imperfect Mother

xoxo
Photo credit: google

How to handle a difficult placement?

Being a foster parent positively, has its moments. Our first placements were tricky, but we got through it with time and consistency. Last month we accepted to take a six yr old boy. They had warned us about his compulsive lying and story telling. Okay no big deal, we have considered that before. We introduce him to our girls and get him settled into his room. The first month is the honey moon stage. We are getting to know him, and he is getting to know us. Everything seems to be going well. The first month is done and now comes the “testing” stage in foster care. What can I possibly do to drive my foster parents crazy? Literally! Children can be cruel. You try everything from being understanding and patient, walking away, getting down on their level…. So that he could spit in my face. We tried time out, we tried taking toys away, we tried so many things to stop this young child from causing chaos. His last days in my home I had so much anger built up I didn’t know how to feel, I was about to lose my mind. Why won’t he listen? Why won’t he obey? Why does he start problems?

So finally after all the chaos I call CYFD and ask for them to remove him from my home. Of course, they explain to me that it might take some time and to just hang in there.

I sit him down and explain what is going to happen. That we, unfortunately, can not give him what he deserves and before it gets any more out of hand he will be going with a new family. He started to cry and say he didn’t want to go. That he loved being with us. At the moment I felt horrible. Maybe we could figure out a different solution so that he was able to stay. Maybe I was over reacting and what he was doing wasn’t that bad. You can’t help but think what can I possibly do to make sure he doesn’t go through more stress and heart ache. As foster parents, you feel so torn between situations like that. Even though these kids can be involved, you still want what is best for them. You can’t help but feel guilty that if you do get them removed, they may end up just jumping from one house to another.

So when they say, tough love! I mean we went all in with tough love!

I was going to make sure this young man knew I was serious and we weren’t playing around anymore. I wasn’t mean, I was understanding to his feelings and guess what finally we saw a change in him. It is all trial and error when it comes to new placement. I was done allowing him to think it was okay to act the way he was. So he would have to write why he did what he did and why he thought it was okay. As soon as he did that, I noticed small changes in him. Our last week with him was manageable. They ended up calling and telling us grandparents would be taking him.

No matter what just love the child. They tell you sometimes you can’t love a child because of what they do. How about we learn to love a child because they are a child of God. This child didn’t ask for this. It will be a lot of tears and frustration, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Don’t get me wrong though if the child is causing to much stress ask for a removal don’t feel that you have to keep with living in misery. What I am saying is just continue to love the child and try your best.

The most rewarding part was when he went home to his grandparents. He hugged me so tight and said: “I love you, Kristina!”

In the end, those words are what made everything worth it.

Just hang in there! God knows all that you can handle.

 

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*photo credit google*