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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fostering in Fort McMurray

I have been wanting to start a blog for a long time now, and I sadly attempted to start last month once again, but I find life keeps interrupting.  So I thought I would sit down and just start short clips, about things that I am passionate about, and the first thing that came to mind was fostering. 

We have been foster parents now for three and a half years here in Fort McMurray, and in all my 15 years of parenting, I have probably learned more in the last three than any of the others.  I think I will write about it often, so I will try not to go on and on too much with my first attempt at telling you what fostering is like, because our story would be too much all at once. 

But I will start with the question that I most often get asked, and that is, "Why did we start fostering?"  And the answer is simple, we love kids.  But that is the short answer.  Growing up I was always surrounded by cousins and I think it was a natural thing for me to want a big family as I got older, I thought ten was a good number.  I am sure I scared a few boyfriends off over the years as I revealed my desire to have a house full of children. But God had another plan for me, and I had to have a bone marrow transplant at 19.  According to the doctors, any children were now out of the question, never mind the ten that I had been dreaming about already. But what happened in the years between now and then is a story for another day.  In the end, I fell in love with a wonderful man, Tim, and we had two beautiful boys much to the doctors amazement.  Then sadly we lost two children to miscarriage, and realized that my body was not going to produce any more miracles.

Five years ago we moved to Fort McMurray, and I was working at the Today newspaper when I did an interview with an amazing woman named Kerri Power, who works with McMan Youth, Family and Community Services, and our lives changed forever after that day.  I came home that night to tell Tim there was a great need in Fort McMurray for foster parents.  We had thought about fostering before, but this time I felt a connection with Kerri, and started to ask more questions about how to go about becoming foster parents.  We started with an information orientation, where both workers and other foster parents came to answer questions of those attending.  Then the few basic things that had to be done were a family history with a home study, cym and crim checks and a standard first aid course.  ASSIST is also a course that you may have to take, depending on the ages of the children you want in your home.  None of these things took very long, the checks just consisted of going to the provincial building and the police station to fill out a one page document request, and then waiting for it to come back in. 

I cannot tell you how rewarding the experience has been not only for us, but for our two sons as well, who are now 13 and 15.  The very first little baby that came to us over three years ago on that cold February day, is now a Murphy as well, as her adoption became final last year.  And we have had quite a few children in the years in between, some for as little as one night, while others have stayed for months.  We have taken new babies from the hospital, and fell in love with a few teenagers.  You never know what the next call will be, and sometimes you have yourself convinced that the next time you will be more specific with age, but then you get the call, and you think, yes, we can do this right now. 

There is still a huge need for foster parents, not only in Fort McMurray, but right across the country.  So many people say to us that they could not do it as they would get too attached.  I have to chuckle to myself at that comment, as I often wonder do people think foster parents do not get attached to these wonderful children?  I know most of the foster parents in town, and every single family here has adopted at least one child, or has been granted private guardianship.  We all fall in love with these kids, and yes, we are heartbroken when they leave, but the alternative is that we not do it, and what will happen to those kids then?  For our own little girl, I break down in tears when I start to think about what would have happened to her if we had not taken her, as we had such a strong connection right away, and my mother instinct kicked in when it was needed about some of her medical issues.  At one point I remember banging my hand down on a desk at the hospital and saying that I was not leaving until a certain test was done, and afterwards the doctor saying that she would have been totally septic within another 24 hours if she had gone undiagnosed.  So we were there for her when she needed it, but you would not believe how much joy she has brought to our lives in return for that in the last three years.

Every single one of the children that has come into our home has taught us something, and my wish is that more families take on this challenge and feel the rewards. If it is something that you think you might be interested in doing, but do not want it to be full time, there is a beyond huge need for respite here in town.  By doing respite, you give us full time families a break when we need it, it might be a weekend, or it might just be so that we can go to a doctor's appointment.  It is extremely, extremely difficult for us to find respite as everyone in town is so busy, and you cannot just leave a foster child with just anyone, they have to have some paperwork done.  McMan has another information session from July 6-8th, if you are at all interested or have ever thought about fostering.  You can call 780-743-9721 for more information.  You can also send me any questions you have about fostering, I will be more than happy to share any information with everyone. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Some easy Thai recipes

Basil Chicken
3 chicken breasts
½ red pepper
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic
3 hot chilies, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. soya sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. water
10 whole leaves of basil(I have used the paste and did not like it as much as fresh basil)
½ tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
Cut your chicken into cubes about 2 inches long by an inch wide and put to the side. Cut the red pepper into squares, or thin strips if you prefer.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok on high heat until it is just about to smoke. Add the garlic and hot peppers and stir fry for a minute or so. Add the chicken and stir fry for about 4 minutes. Add fish sauce, sugar and soya sauce and mix together for about two minutes. Add oyster sauce and water and cook for a minute.
Add the red pepper and basil and stir for about two minutes until the peppers soften. Dissolve the cornstarch in water and add and stir for a minute to thicken the sauce.
I always serve mine with rice and some eggrolls, and the kids and hubby love it.  Below is the “recipe” that I use for the rice.  Both the chicken and the rice are easy to double if you have extra people over.


Vegetarian Rice
Cook two cups of white rice(I use jasmine, but you can use plain), and set to the side.  Heat 5 tbsps of vegetable oil in a large skillet, and add about a tablespoon of garlic.  Then add whatever you like for veggies.  I usually put in about a cup each of grated carrot, mushrooms, and some broccoli, but you can put in whatever you like, I have used peppers as well. Stir fry for a few minutes, and then add two eggs and fry them until they are partially set. Push the eggs and veggies to the side, and add your cooked rice to the skillet, and add 3 tbsp. soya sauce, and ½ tsp. of black pepper.  At this point, if you want to add frozen peas you can.  Then just work it all together and heat thoroughly.
I hope you enjoy these two easy thai recipes, they are easy and delicious and so easy to add your own variations so that they turn out just the way you like them.
I will keep posting recipes randomly, and I hope to get my supper “experiences” up and running soon.  Until then, I have some other pieces of my life to share, so keep checking back!  

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