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.

 

 

Gift giving

As a parent there is a brand new level of excitement over Christmas time when you have toddlers in the house. Last year was A’s first Christmas and it was wonderful don’t get me wrong. This year is a whole new world.

Little man, H bug, and A are precocious toddlers who are wandering around and get excited over the littlest things. This year Christmas morning is bringing such excitement that I can barely wait until it comes.

The hubs and I decided last year after going a bit over board on Christmas that we wanted to become very purposeful in our gift giving at Christmas.

The hubs bought A a Dr. Seuss book last year and wrote a beautiful inscription inside the cover of the book. He has decided that he would buy her a Dr. Seuss book each year and write inside the cover for her a little note. It is a beginning of a tradition.

I had a slightly harder time coming up with my special gift to A, I just bought her an ornament. As I spent the past year thinking what could my gift each year be, it  hit me. I have decided to make a photo book documenting each year of A’s life. Her first photo book is from birth to her first birthday.

We are doing the same sentimental presents for the twins as well for however long we have them. I made H bug and little man a book documenting the moment they came in our lives at 6 months until their 2nd birthday. The hubs bought the twins their own Dr. Seuss book and wrote beautiful inscriptions to them.

We decided those are our sentimental gifts to the kids.

We decided last year that we would buy the kids one big gift (or three smaller gifts that would cost the same as a big gift). The twins are only 13 months older than A and we decided if we did purchase a big gift all 3 would have great use out of it. We ended up getting 3 smaller gifts for the kids–toddler quads.

We also have stockings that just have some randomness inside them. That is it.

Boy, oh boy, has it been hard. I want to buy more. It has been very difficult to restrain ourselves but so far so good.

This is how we choose to celebrate….

I remember when I first was married and my husband worked at a church in Brooksville something very profound struck me. It was Christmas time and we were talking about Santa Claus with some of the other adults. This one woman stated she wished she never told her children about Santa because when her daughter found out he wasn’t real the little girl asked, “Since you lied about Santa were you lying about God?”

This really struck me inside and stuck with me–I was convicted. It was in that instant we decided we would not teach Santa to our future children. It was a very personal decision and one that  I know many people do not agree with in any shape or form. Many people think we are robbing our children out of the magic of Christmas. I disagree.

I don’t mind Santa. I don’t mind him in the same instance that I don’t mind cartoons. My children watch Disney Jr. and love Walt Disney World. I just don’t want my children to be taught that some fictional character is who brings them their Christmas presents under the tree.

My husband and I are very purposeful with the gifts underneath our tree, we spend a lot of time and thought behind the gifts. I want my children to know that we picked them out. 

I don’t want my children to agonize over being on the naughty or good list. I want my children to experience Christmas with joy and not wondering if they will be getting coal in their stocking. I want my children to be taught the story behind Christmas and learn about Jesus. I want my children to learn about a Savior who forgives unconditionally regardless of a naughty list.

I know I cannot escape Santa at Christmas and I have no intention of escaping it. At the same time you won’t see my children making up a letter for Santa Claus. Do I have all the details worked out yet? Nope, not in the least bit. Who does though?

Do I think your a bad parent or a bad Christian for doing Santa Claus? Absolutely not. Who am I to judge you? Will I tell your children there is no Santa? Absolutely not.

This is how I choose to celebrate Christmas with my children. This is my family’s very personal choice. A choice that I am well aware many do not make (or agree) with for their family.

1st Birthday Party

Today I celebrated my beautiful daughter’s first birthday! It was exciting, bittersweet, and lovely.

We decided to have her party at Gymboree–its one of her favorite places to play at. We kept with an owl theme. I have fallen in love with the website Birthday Express for my party decorations. We ordered the twins decorations as well as Adalynn’s from the website. Since the party at Gymboree was to only be 90 minutes long and with 30 minutes in the party room, I chose to do light snacks (veggies and fruit) and cake pops to keep the eating to a minimum and to ensure time to open presents. I found the 90 minutes went by quickly and the party didn’t drag on.

Underneath Adalynn’s birthday banner was the food table. Also under her banner I placed her monthly pictures on the wire string in the party room. I am so glad that I did this because it really captured how she has changed over the past year.

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Look whoo’s one….

It is hard to believe that I am sitting here with a one year old daughter. This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. I am overwhelmed with a plethora of emotions as we celebrate my daughter’s first birthday.

She is a miracle.

She was prayed for many  years by several people.

She is our miracle.

We almost lost her while I was in labor.

When I found out I was pregnant it was one of the greatest emotions I have ever felt until I met her.

October 14, 2012 was the day this crazy labor journey began. We had just finished dinner with my parents and were settling in on a Sunday night. I had one week left of work before I was to begin my maternity leave and 8 days before my due date.

I began contracting. We timed it. Every four minutes, we felt it was time go into the hospital.

As I was being monitored and waiting for the doctor, two nurses came rushing in. They had me lay on my left side and put on a oxygen mask. I was panicking for my precious unborn daughter. My husband was panicking for my life. We had no clue what was going on. What seemed like an eternity (probably in reality a few minutes) they took the oxygen mask off my face but continued to have me lay on my left side.

A few minutes later one of my doctor’s came in to announce that she was inducing me because Adalynn’s heart rate dropped to 65 bpm.

Her heart rate plummeted and they put oxygen on me to bring her heart rate up.

Her heart rate was normally 145 bpm, it cut more than in half in that instance.

I was petrified.

I was told if her heart rate did this again we would go in for an emergency c-section.

I was moved into the labor room where the next 48 hours would move too slow and too scary.

October 15 was a very uneventful day. They maxed me out on pitocin. They did other things. My body would not budge. My precious baby wanted to scare us but didn’t want to come.

October 16 they broke my water around 9am. The contractions intensified. My precious baby became uncooperative, her heartrate started to take a dip into the low 100s. The nurse had me lay on my left side with my leg in this one strange position. It lasted for hours. They kept increasing the dosage of pitocin. My contractions were intensifying. I caved and got an epidural. If only I could have moved with each contraction I would have been okay but instead I had to stay still like a sack of sand.

With each strong contraction, Adalynn’s heart rate plummeted. A nurse basically stationed herself in my hospital room (terrifying for me because I know they don’t just stand in a room for a long period of time).

A different doctor came on staff and monitored us. It was decided my precious miracle baby could no longer take the contractions with pitocin. She was in distress. They were worried about her cord.

I was prepped for an emergency c-section. Before I even knew what was happening I was in the OR.

I remember laying awake on that hospital bed and wanting so badly to know that my baby was going to be okay. This was not the labor I wanted or envisioned.

I remember my body started  not being able to handle the medicine and my entire upper half of the body was shaking. I wasn’t cold or nervous and could not control the shaking. My wonderful husband was holding my hand as they cut me open.

At 7:56 pm, I heard the most magical sound of my entire life. My precious 6 pound 2 ounce 19 1/2 inch baby was crying. My husband was able to cut her cord. I could hear him repeatedly saying, “You are so beautiful. You are so beautiful.” I could hear the tears in his voice. My husband was in love.

My husband brought my beautiful baby to me and I remember kissing her. I remember falling more in love than I ever thought possible.

My husband left the operating room with his brand new daughter in his arms. I was left in the OR to be stitched up.

In recovery, I got to hold my daughter for the very first time. Joy, unspeakable joy.

I remember my husband taking off her clothes so that we could be skin to skin. I remember nursing her and having no clue what I was doing. I remember that first latch, that feeling that let me know she was latched. I remember her doing the crawl they all talk about. I remember it is as if it happened today.

We eventually were into our hospital room where we ended up staying for 4 extra days. I ended up being in the hospital for 6 days. 48 hours in labor and 4 days in the hospital with my daughter. I had an epidural headache and it took several days before I received a blood tap.

When we were discharged, I remember the nurses commenting how they weren’t use to seeing a baby so old leaving their hospital.

My, oh my, how the past year has passed way too quickly.

Really? The twins are 2?!?!?!

I clearly remember March 23, 2012 like it was yesterday…

It was a Friday and I just got a really sweet gift from my husband…chocolate covered strawberries from Edible Arrangements. It was the end of the school day and I just taken my students out for dismissal and I saw a voicemail from my husband. We were asked to take on our first placement as foster parents to twins–a boy and a girl 6 months old. We eagerly accepted the placement.

At the time I was almost two months pregnant and I don’t think we had any clue what we just got ourselves into or what was in store for our future. I raced home and my husband had stopped at church to get an extra crib (we only had one), a car seat from a friend, and the store to buy diapers, formula, and clothes. It was a rush of excitement as we awaited the arrival of these two precious lives.

I remember meeting the transporters outside of our home and eagerly taking little man into my arms. He truly was a little man and he looked up at me with his world just changed upside down. H bug was in the husband’s arm. After the transporters left, we both looked at each other not knowing what to do now. Those first few days with the twins are a blur. I barely remember how we did it.

Fast forward almost 18 months and today is the twins 2nd birthday. They have brought so much joy into our household. We are entering a new phase with the twins, an exciting and exhausting period. Temper tantrums are on high alert but at the same time their communication skills are exploding. It is an amazing experience watching their personalities come out even more so and watch the learning that is taking place. I cannot believe how fast these 18 months have flown by, I look back at pictures from those first days and I barely recognize the twins. They have flourished and blossomed (as any toddler does) but it still takes my breath away.

Kids grow so fast–too fast. At this age there is sheer joy for figuring it out and many times applauding takes place. Everything that is figured out can bring new challenges (cue pulling every wipe out or climbing on things or wrestling or pulling all the clothes out of a dresser or dumping all the toys on the floor or emptying the fridge or …). These “challenges” make for great memories and test our parenting skills. We work on showing compassion, apologies, forgiveness, cleaning up, helping each out. This is when we are making critical progression in their character as people.

As we sat down as a family tonight at dinner it felt like the twins grew up over night. Little man instead of just wanting sauce to dip his food in, he actually pointed to where he wanted it on his plate. H bug sat and ate with us instead of trying to get down the entire time. They are these amazing little people and I cannot wait to find out what they become.

Adalynn is now 11 months old (only 1 month until she is 1, tear) and as I looked at her monthly picture shoot, I was amazed at the difference the past year has made. Gosh, they really are growing up?!?!

Jake and the Neverland Birthday Party

I love planning great memories–I am that mom. I want their childhoods to be rememberable. I want them to remember the fun and love we have. I love getting on the floor with my kids as we scream. I want to make life fun, I want my kids to appreciate life.

I really enjoyed planning the twins 2nd birthday. I enjoyed picking out their outfits and searching the internet for party ideas. I love planning the party. The hubby and I chose Jake and the Neverland Pirates as their birthday theme this year. As soon as theme was set a plethora of ideas soared into my brain.

Their shirts minus their names. I had H-bug wear a purple tutu for her bottoms and little man wore blue shorts.

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It was also important for me to make this party as close to Paleo as I could. Their birthday party was completely grain free with only a few items including dairy. I had a blast. We finished this party exhausted but my mind is already thinking about next year….

Pictures including the twins faces will not be included to protect them and I cannot find a picture of the scarf, eye patch, and pirate hat section. When guests entered the house they had a red strip of cloth they could wear (like Jake’s), eye patch, and a pirate hat. Another photo that will not be included is the gift table aka the treasure table. Above the treasure table I made each twin a sign to say happy birthday and I made a photo collage for each twin in the shape of the number 2. I went through the photos that have been taken in the past year and chose some for the sign. Underneath the treasure table was a treasure chest that included goody bags for all the children.

Each section/game had its very own sign that I created with either wood or cardboard.

Balloons mark the spot..

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The sign welcoming guests to our house..

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The sign outside the door…

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The kids table to eat food and enjoy cake!

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This sign did include their name but I cleared that up to protect them.

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A little photo booth area…

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I I found this great little Buckey Ship play tent…I think all the kids at the party really enjoyed it…

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The color table

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A picture of the goody bags that went under the treasure table..

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Walk the plank…

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Dig for treasure (kids use a hook to hunt for gold and jewels)

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Mermaid Lagoon (a ship pirate water table). The table we got was missing the center piece but we didn’t pull the table together until last night so that will have to wait.

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Up next the food (who doesn’t love some great themed food)…I am missing the photo of the drink station. I make a shark punch (2 2 liters of sprite and 2 ice cube trays of frozen cranberry juice with 6 of the cubes having candy sharks). Also I had a blow up treasure chest which I put frozen mini water bottles (I set the water out about 30 minutes before guests came over and this way I didn’t need ice) and some organic juice boxes.

The menu for the food was: sweet potato chips and fruit snacks (I was going to make fish and chips but forgot to bake grain free goldfish crackers), Octopus Dipgrain free chicken nuggetssilly squid, build your own scurvey sandwiches platter, watermelon pirate ship, and swords (rosemary grain free breadsticks from the cookbook Against All Grain). I also wood burned pictures of Jake and Izzy as well a happy birthday sign to the kids.

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Now its cake time. I did edit out their names with a blemish remover.

This cake is little man’s cake it is a chocolate cake with a dairy and grain free vanilla frosting. Both recipes are from the Against All Grain Cookbook. I was pretty disappointed with how this cake turned out. The frosting wasn’t quite white so I tried dying it blue for the border of the hat but it didn’t turn out well. I probably should of layed it flat and iced it instead of standing it up…

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I think cake turned out pretty well for H bug. On the bottom is where I wrote her name. The cake is a snickerdoodle cake (from Against All Grain cookbook) and a cream cheese frosting from Betty Crocker.

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