Meal Planning

We are a family of 7–5 kids and 2 adults. Groceries can expensive so when my husband lost his job this year I fought hard to change our spending. I needed to cut my spending as much as possible. I made it a goal to make my grocery bill $150 every two weeks ($75 a week). So I started off by meal planning every two weeks, one week one I would buy all my groceries and household items for the next two weeks except for produce, milk, and bread that I needed for the second week. So the first week tends to be more expensive and the second week way cheaper hence $150 every two weeks. Ambitious as my old grocery budget was $150 a week so this was cutting my budget in half.

I have spent the past few months working and budgeting as best as I can. For the most part I have made this goal of $150 every two weeks. So I think part of this blog will be me  meal planning, grocery budgets, and how I feed a family of 7 for $300 a month.

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Difficulty.

I started this blog long ago and I connected my Facebook account to it but I think it stopped me from posting. Maybe I felt I wouldn’t be able to be open. Maybe I became lazy. Maybe. Today I disconnected my Facebook and so we shall see where this leads.

In my last post I admitted that I was anxious. I have extreme anxiety that some days I feel so trapped and can barely breathe. I feel as though I am not cut out to be a mother. It is hard for me to parent effectively and productively. I love my children. I love my children. I just wish this anxiety and deep fear of failure would leave me. I want to be the best mother. I want to be more than what I am and I am working on it.

Anxiety. Reality.

Motherhood is something I craved and wanted desperately. It took us 5 years to have a successful fertility treatment to have A. She was prayed for and longed for beyond belief. Our fertility struggles made me question my faith and trust in God. It would sting beyond words what people would say. Let me be clear motherhood is something I wanted beyond measure. 5 years and 5 kids later it is something I question my value on a daily basis. I have extreme post partum anxiety well I guess at this point it is just severe anxiety that manifests itself as anger. Motherhood of 5 young children with two who have extreme levels of neglect that still surfaces on a daily basis basically is exhausting. Some days I question what I am doing. Some days I question my sanity. Some days my anger is extreme. Everyday I know I am not this supermom that people or Facebook/Instagram make me out to be. I fail, daily. Anxiety is crippling. Motherhood is crippling. I fail daily. The tightness in my chest doesn’t leave. I am not the type of woman that can stay at home–I envy those who want it. I am the woman who craved going back to work yet will want to hold my kids once they are fast asleep. I am the woman that questions every factor of my life and I know I fail every second of the day. I am riddled with self doubt and hatred of my current mental stability. I want more of myself. I want more for my children. Somehow despite this my kids love me and I love them. Somehow my husband stands by me–trust me he should have ran a long time ago. Somedays it takes every single ounce of my energy to breathe. I fail daily. Yet somehow I move on. Actually there isn’t a yet. I just do it. I do what is necessary.

What the state of Florida does not prepare you for…

As a foster parent when you take a child into your house you know two scenarios will take place in that child’s life. The child will be reunited with their family or there will be a termination of parental rights. Many times the child is reunited or placed with family. After a termination of parental rights take place a child is eligible for adoption, the foster family has “dibs” on the foster child. Which honestly makes sense, the child has been in the household and has formed a bond. If the foster parent doesn’t have interest in adopting then the children are able to be adopted with no to little cost for the “general public”.

These are the things you are prepared for when you take a MAPP class (mandatory parenting class in order to foster or adopt in the state of Florida). This is a reality that I have always known and prepared my heart for to take place.

This is where I was fooled.

In the state of Florida, apparently for the past year and half, a parent who has a child in the foster care system can choose private adoption until the day their rights are terminated. This means the parent can have a child in the foster care system for YEARS and then choose to sign over their rights to a private adoption agency and pick their child(ten)’s new parents. This means a foster child can be taken from a foster home that would adopt the said child and be placed elsewhere by the mother’s choosing.

Why in the world does this happen? Apparently it boils down to money and private adoption agencies not having enough children.

This is what I was not prepared for.

This is a brand new level of potential heartache.

This is what makes me want to walk away from foster care forever.

This is what makes me question what in the world were we thinking.

This is what makes me want to cling to A and beg for her forgiveness that I did this to her.

This is what makes me cry at night.

This changes my prayer for all foster children and foster parents.

This makes my heart want to cry out and ask why.

Our journey

Two years ago today, Jeremy received a phone call in the middle of a shift at work. It was the call we had been waiting for–a placement. We were asked to take a placement of six month old twins. We were suppose to only be licensed for one (hadn’t even received the license yet) but we were told they would file a waiver and rush the final step of our approval process for the license.

My husband eagerly said yes.

I was two months pregnant.

He called me after he accepted the placement. We were beyond excited. After all, this is what were waiting for.

We were foolish, oh so foolish.

I rushed home to help Jeremy suddenly prepare for two babies with the reality of what we were doing not sunk in. Jeremy was running around like his head had been chopped off borrowing an extra car seat, crib, and going to the store to buy bottles and formula.

What else did babies need? Oh right, diapers.

We called placement because we didn’t know the size diapers that were going to be needed and placement had no idea. Jeremy was also on the phone with a local organization to help foster parents (4 Kids of Tampa). They were going to bring clothes for a six month old girl and boy as well as bring a variety of size of diapers.

The panic had still not set in yet.

We both made it home and began setting up the extra crib and washed bottles. A representative from 4 Kids showed up at house with clothes and diapers. Then the waiting game began…

We received the phone call about placement around 2:30 and the twins showed up around 5:30. We saw CPS and the transporter pull up in front of our household and we both went out to meet our newest members.

I remember them pulling little man out of the van and placing him in my arms. Tears came to my eyes because I had no idea what had causes this precious little human to be needed to be in my house. I hugged him and he just stared at me with wonder. Jeremy grabbed H-bug and she just smiled. She has always been that smiling child.

We made our way into the house and signed our custody letters and looked through the yellow jacket. The yellow jacket is a folder that has all their information in it–their social, a picture of them for identifying purposes, results from their trip to the doctor (foster children are always seen by a doctor when they are taken into custody), and the custody letter. We were handed 2 backpacks that had a tiny can of formula in each of it (the twins were on different brands), one diaper, and one outfit. Little man’s backpack also had a nebulizer inside and medicine.

I asked about the nebulizer and they told us how often it needed to be administered and then they left. Jeremy and I looked at each other and said, “Now what?”

We laughed because we had no idea what to do with 2 six month old twins.

We took the twins outside and began documenting how the twins looked. I googled how to use a nebulizer in order to ensure I was going to do it correctly.

Thank goodness for google.

We came back inside and began  looking through clothes that 4 Kids brought us and picked out pajamas. By this time it was nearly 7 and we began getting the twins ready for bed.

I gave little man a nebulizer treatment, he wasn’t a fan.

H bug just stared at us and smiled.

They were unable to sit up on their own so we just sort of held them.

By this time Jeremy began holding little man and I took over h bug. We changed them and fed them their bottles and laid them in their cribs.

We were so naive.

We were lucky–they went right to bed. I am sure they were exhausted. Their entire world had been changed and they couldn’t even communicate.

After they went to sleep, Jeremy and I began talking with each other and the overwhelming responsibility began to set in our brains.

At this time ,we had no idea how long they would be with us. We had no idea what our future would hold with them.

I clearly remember discussing with Jeremy how heartbroken this mother had to be. I cried thinking about what she had to be going through on this night without her children.

I prayed.

I got on my knees and prayed for this woman I had never met. I prayed for Jeremy and I being able to raise her children forever how long it was to be.

I cried.

I worshiped God.

Fast forward two years….

The twins are still in foster care. I have no idea how long they will be in foster care. I have no idea if we will be able to adopt them this year. Trust me, if I knew I would be shouting from the rooftops.

I do know this…

This is a calling.

The case is 2 years old.

We are on our 3rd FDS (family development specialist).

We are on our 4th case manager (yep just got a brand new one last week).

We love the twins.

My daughter loves the twins.

My life has been irrevocably changed. Forever.

 

Life changing dates

January 31st is a day that I don’t think I can ever forget. It was a day that was a last ditch effort before truly just resigning myself to never being able to have a biological child.

2012…

The prior 4 years of trying to conceive a child were filled with heartache, questioning, and worthlessness. It was painful.

I remember a couple of weeks before while I was on Winter Break at my friend’s house where she told me she was pregnant with her second child and my heart dropping just a little more. I was beyond thrilled for her but at that same moment I was trying to swallow the idea of never having a biological child.

The prior week I had been to see the doctor to monitor my ovulation and to see if I would finally be able to an IUI. January 30th I woke up and tested and it was positive. I called the doctor and they wanted me to come in on the morning of the 31st for my IUI.

I clearly remember waiting in the waiting room and I was wrecked with nervousness. My bitterness started to seep to the surface and the begging/pleading for this to work. I went home after receiving the IUI and thinking this has to work.

The next two weeks were beyond slow moving. I had random signs that made both Jer and me hopeful but at the same time I didn’t want to become too hopeful.

I remember going to my friend’s daughter 1st birthday party and I was actually starting to believe I was pregnant (hopeful) on February 12.

On February 14th I woke up and tested. I remember screaming to Jer that there were two lines. Two lines..two lines. Beyond excitement as I called that same friend at 6am and practically shouted the news on her voicemail.

Pregnant..finally.

January 31st and February 14th have amazing meaning to me. Those dates came so long after so much heartache and pain. Those dates are joyous to me.

So here I sit two years later and the question that pains my heart in new ways is the question if we will have anymore biological children.

Seriously?

It took us 4 years to finally conceive Adalynn and you want to know if we want more?

Seriously?

Well the answer is YES.

Is it possible?

Anything is possible with God. At the same time I am trying to prepare my heart that may not be my story. It may not be my story to ever have another biological child. I don’t think I am okay with that yet, and honestly I am not sure I will ever be.

I loved being pregnant–loved it.

I didn’t have my ideal birth with the need for an emergency c-section. I would love the opportunity to have VBAC.

However, I also am realistic that these things may never happen.

Jeremy and I both want more biological children, it is still a painful subject. It still hurts.

So I beg of you to never ask if we want another biological child when we accept more foster children into our home. Honestly, you will just be breaking another piece of my heart away. I cannot have children at the drop of the hat and I am heartbroken over it.

I don’t think I am resentful anymore. I don’t think I am angry anymore. I just know this is my story.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for my precious Adalynn and the twins. I love them and wouldn’t want it any other way. I know I will love whatever future foster children come into our house. I will and I am not sorry for my story. My story is my story and it has made me the way I am.

I am lucky because I do have a biological child. I have foster children. I have a full life.

Foster Care Guarantees

As we have been spending the past couple weeks preparing to renew our license for foster care. So many thoughts and emotions press on my soul. Foster care is not for the faint heart.

Foster care is heartbreaking.

Foster care is rewarding.

Foster care is my calling.

Foster care makes me want to scream at the top of the lungs.

Foster care brings immense joy to my soul.

We are discussing changing our license to 3. We want to touch more lives. We also have to face a harsh reality that this current placement may not last to adoption. Any future placement may not turn into adoption.

People ask all the time, “How do you do this? How can you stand the thought of giving them back?”

Seriously? Is this easy? N-O!

The idea of handing back children who were taken from their homes for a reason is terrifying. I am suppose to have faith in the court system. Well, boy oh boy, I do not.

I have to have faith in God. I have faith that God will somehow mend my heart for those goodbyes. I have faith that God will see me through the ending of a placement and/or a new placement.

There are absolutely no guarantees the twins will stay with us or that any foster child will stay with. I don’t think I am okay with, well I am definitely not okay with it. Regardless it is what I signed up for.

The one guarantee that I can count on is God. Jeremy and I pray constantly for the twins and their future–regardless of what that future will be.