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Life’s Been Happening

It’s been a looooong time since I’ve even thought about this blog, if we’re being honest. Life with a one year old and a two year old has been all-consuming. Who knew??

It has not been an easy summer and fall, but it has been good. Our house has been packed to the brim with fun and playing and growing and throwing fits and living life. It’s hard not knowing anything about what’s going on with Bubba’s case. We know absolutely nothing about what the future holds (as usual), and it can be maddening at times. But we love him and it has been so fun to watch he and Maddie grow into buddies. One of my favorites is listening to them play in the curtains (Sidenote: this is something that I swore I would never let my children do. Also on that list: wiping noses with clothes – theirs and mine – and feeding them in the car seat. HAHAHAHAHA!). 

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Bubs has been growing more and more comfortable in our family. The summer for him brought walking, lots of laughing, splashing in the pool, and the cutest little way you’ve ever heard a kid say, “Noooooooo!”.

Maddie is in the throes of being two. I refuse to use the phrase, “terrible twos”. While two brings it’s challenges (“Mommy get outta here!” What.) it is also proving to be my favorite age. She is learning so much, is developing such a fun, funny, outgoing personality, and I feel like even now we are getting to see her character start to show. She is independent, has a deep sense of justice, and is fiercely loyal. I don’t know that we could love her more.

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So that’s what’s been going on with us. I’ll fill you in on our big trip this summer in the next post – Disneyworld!! Spoiler alert: it was amazing. 

Thanks for adventuring with us.

Serenity Now!

For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. Isaiah 25:4

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This summer is flying by, and it has simultaneously been one do the hardest summers and one of the best we’ve had in our household. Lately two phrases seem to make their way out of the recesses of my mind and into the air – “serenity now!” and “Jesus, take the wheel!”. They perfectly portray what I am feeling in his house with a one year old and a two year old, and thankfully saying them out loud usually makes me laugh.
Bubs has been here for over a month now, and having him with us feels normal. Maddie does NOT like him stealing her toys, but other than that she seems to be adjusting well. We’ve spent most of the summer at home, swimming, playing with toys, watching too many movies. We’ve had time with family, which has been wonderful. And we have a Disney adventure with Maddie coming up in a few weeks, which we are REALLY anticipating with excitement. But staying home has been hard, too. Because of new regulations we’ve been without a babysitter for over a month (thankfully Em is now certified again! Hallelujah!). So we are eager for a date night sometime in the next couple of weeks. A little time away from our little blessings will go a long way I think.
I think I will look back on this summer fondly. Everyone says that the days are long and the years are short, and I agree. I don’t know how long our life will look like this – how long Bubs will be here, how much longer Maddie will want to snuggle and watch “the puppies” (101 Dalmations) in my lap. So I’m trying to soak it up (with lots of coffee and screamed prayers hiding in the kitchen).
Thanks for listening, encouraging, and adventuring with us.

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He’s Back!

New Baby (or “Bubba” as Maddie calls him) came back to us last Thursday. He looks exactly the same only with a mop of hair.

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The adjustment is going surprisingly well. He’s finally slept through the night two nights in a row (hallelujah!) and has finally started to smile again. We’re grateful for that. Maddie’s biggest issue is sharing her toys (“MINE! No no, Bubba. Dat’s not NICE.”), and if I’m being honest I would rather her be jealous for her toys than for John and me, which was the case last time. The biggest issue we are having with Bubba is getting him down for naps. The kid likes to be rocked…for a long time. But that is getting better.

People have asked us if this will be permanent. We have no idea. We only know that he needs some stability and security, and we want him to know that in our home for as long as he’s with us.

We will give updates as they come. Be ready for some back of the head birthday pics soon – Bubba turns one on July 1st!

Thanks for adventuring with us!

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Come On, Summer!!

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Let me tell you, I am identifying more and more with Olaf’s summer obsession. May seems to be moving in reverse and I fear that summer and its freedom will never arrive. End pity-party rant. Girlfriend knows how I feel (see below).

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It has been a long time since my last post, and nothing majorly notable has happened in our house other than running full speed ahead about 99% of the time. We have been so busy – visiting friends and family, having friends and family in our home, going to workshops, weddings, gearing up for camp at Pine Cove (this will be John’s 11th summer! Holy cow.), etc. We have loved every almost every minute of it, but we will sure welcome the slower pace of June and July.

I don’t have much news to share, so I’ll share some killer pictures instead. Our little girl is growing up before our eyes, and we are sure trying out best to savor every minute of it. She talks CONSTANTLY (she must get that from John…) and is such a little lady…who also happens to love dirt and sticks above just about anything else. Her new favorite phrases are, “soooo pretty!” and “dat’s not nice!”. She’s such a trip and the biggest adventure of our lives. Thanks for walking down this road with us.

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Reflections

Maddie turned two on Monday. Two! How did that happen so fast?!? She is such a joyful, independent, always-on-the-move, always-has-something-to-say toddler and we adore her.

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It is so fun to watch her grow, and you know what is a special gift from The Lord? Twice this week I’ve had people tell me how much she looks like us. One of the things that I grieved when we found out that biological kids would probably not be in our future was that we would never know what our kids would have looked like. And isn’t it just like our God to give us not only the gift of our daughter but also to have her have some of our features? God gives good gifts. Now if she could just not take on some of my less flattering personality traits…

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It has been almost two full months since New Baby left us. We have grieved him leaving our home; Maddie still asks for “Bubba?” on occasion. We have heard that he is doing really well, which brings our hearts comfort and peace. Join us in continuing to pray for him and his mom as they walk down this new path together.

As the pain has lessened in our hearts we have found ourselves really enjoying this season as a family. It was a little puzzling to us until we realized this: this is literally the first time since Maddie came into our home that we are able to enjoy time together as a family, free from the stress of court dates, visits, paperwork, uncertainty, and fuzzy timelines. We got New Baby the week after her adoption was final. It is only now that we are settling in as a family. It’s awesome. Maddie is a living, breathing, reminder to us of God’s grace to us. We do not deserve her (or ANYTHING good, for that matter), but we are so thankful that The Lord chose us to be her parents – it is a FUN job. We pray daily for the grace and wisdom to point her to Jesus.

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So when will we take our next placement?? We don’t know. Our caseworker is the BEST (I’ve told you that before) and she has assured us that there is no rush. So we are praying and trusting that The Lord will reveal to us when it is time. Note: I was going to say that The Lord would reveal to us when we are ready, but the truth is we are never ready. We trust that only He will know when the time is right, because we’ll talk ourselves out of it every time if left to our own devices!

Thanks for walking this road with us. If you don’t mind, would you join us in praying for a few things?
Continue praying for New Baby and his mom? They are continually on our hearts and minds. They need Jesus above all else.
Please pray for us, that we will know when it’s time to say yes to another placement, or if it is time for our roll in fostering to change that we will be able to discern what it is (fostering ministry at church, CASA workers, respite, etc.).
Please pray for our family time right now. We are rejoicing in the time He has given us to grow and play together, and we want to cherish every moment.
We love you guys. Thanks for loving our family.

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You have turned for me my mourning into dancing, you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory May sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:11-12

Some Stuff About Fostering

Well apparently I’m still in the spontaneous ugly-crying at random times phase of grief. New Baby has been gone for six days. We are adjusting slowly. We miss him, pray for him daily, and are practicing trust moment by moment. As we adjust I thought I’d answer a few questions.

Every once in a while I get questions about fostering. I do not feel like much of an expert or consider myself to have all of the answers, but I thought I’d share a little bit of what we have experienced on the licensing/preparation side.

1. Choose an awesome foster agency. We LOVE ours. We are licensed through Methodist Children’s Home. We were blessed to have several friends who paved the way for us in terms of researching agencies in town, so when it was time to choose it was an easy decision. We had heard great things about MCH and we have not been disappointed. They are so supportive and encouraging. Our caseworker is the best – she has talked me off of many an emotional ledge! And they are PASSIONATE about the kids.
If it is possible for you to meet with different agencies and ask questions, do it. An even better option might be to meet with families who use different agencies and hear their thoughts. Every agency is a little bit different. Some will license you for fostering AND adoption, which saves you a step when adoption nears. Just feel free to ask LOTS of questions – they want you to be informed too.

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2. Understand that fostering to adopt and seeking to adopt through an adoption agency are different. Both come with their own set of challenges and heartaches. Being a foster to adopt family means that if there is a chance that a child might become adoptable in the future then they will most likely be placed with a family willing to consider adoption. But the reality is that you may not know for MONTHS if the child in your home will be adoptable. So if you are fostering to adopt you need to take time to consider that not all of the children who enter your home will be in your home forever. We thought our first placement would be with us forever. He was gone in 5 days. We thought Maddie would be temporary and she’s now ours forever. It is such a roller coaster. It never gets easier to send kids off. It is only by the grace of God that anyone can foster, or adopt, or have kids at all in any way for that matter.

3. Find a supportive community. John and I have been incredibly blessed with families and friends who have been nothing but encouraging and supportive since we started down this road. I don’t know what your back story is, but find a supportive community – your family, friends, church group, other foster families – whoever! You will need these people. I know exactly who to call for advice on legal proceedings that are unfamiliar, who to call when I need some ice cream and magazines after a bad court date, and who to call for clothes and baby supplies that we don’t have for last minute placements. Which brings me to my last thought….

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4. Buy what you want and borrow what you can. I do not mean that you should go crazy in Babies R Us. Baby stuff is EXPENSIVE and there’s a lot if it. But I will say this: make your nursery great. You will use your nursery for lots of different babies for a long time. There are a lot of things that will be out of your control. Let your nursery be a place of comfort and fun. Decorate it. Make it like you want it. It makes since to make it as unisex as possible, but if you are going to lean toward a gender my philosophy is that girls can hang with some boy stuff, but little boys look a little funnier in Blush and Bashful. :)
When we got our nursery together (it’s olive green) we bought our crib (the standards are so specific we thought it was easier to buy it ourselves). We bought a set of onesies in every size group (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, etc. up to a year) for both boys and girls so at we would have something if we got a last minute placement (which is usually how it goes). That will buy you some time to gather resources from friends, make a quick trip to Target or Walmart, etc. We were also blessed with a baby shower where we received lots of toys, clothes, and various baby items we never knew we needed until we had them.
We borrowed (and still borrow) a lot of stuff from friends until we decided what we needed. Every baby is different. It’s not worth spending tons of money on something like a swing until you know your baby loves a swing. We ended up with a bouncy seat, a high chair, a bumbo, a pack and play, and some clothes. We have borrowed swings, excersaucers (we have GOT to buy one soon – babies love them!), a rock and play (also legit!), and tons and tons of clothes. What a blessing.

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I hope this was helpful for some of you – for the rest, thanks for being the huge support group of which I speak. We love you.

Loving More Than One

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

I have always worried about whether or not I’d be able to love more than one child at a time. I knew that was ridiculous – love isn’t divided but expanded. I knew it in my head but doubted it in my heart.
I was especially concerned when we had placement #3 this summer. He was with us for 10 days, and those were some of the hardest days that I had experienced. He and Maddie were 5 months apart in age, he was malnourished and had some medical challenges, and he and I both got the stomach bug. He was with us for such a short and difficult time that we didn’t get to see the hard gently fade into the depth of love that comes from the struggle.
So I was fearful when, on my birthday and exactly one week after Maddie’s adoption, we got the call for another little boy – 2 1/2 months old and needing a place to go. So we said yes. And I cried.
And then he cried. Non-stop. For a month.
Acid reflux. Two ear infections. One stomach bug. Sporadic sleep patterns.
Then smiles. And laughs. Rolling over. Sitting up. Babbling. And finally, the week that he left, crawling.
Wouldn’t you know that everyone was right. You can love more than one at a time. I love a little boy that I might never see again. And I’ll love him forever.
We’ve slept more this weekend than we’ve slept in months, and we are so grateful. Our belated five year anniversary trip couldn’t have come at a better time. But we would give up the sleep in a heartbeat to have him back in our home.
It is hard not to give way to fear when you give your foster babies back. Fear for their physical and emotional safety, fear that they will grow up not hearing the Good News of Jesus, fear of the influences that might take hold of them. So we are fighting to trust instead. God has not lost sight of New Baby. He knows exactly where he when we have no idea. His plans are greater, bigger, more complex than ours. So we pray and pray and pray. We pray that The Lord will make himself known to our sweet boy. We pray that his mom will know Jesus. We ask God to let us see him again, and we cling to The Lord as our anchor in this storm.
Thank you for checking on us these past few days. We are heartbroken and healing. Maddie is a champ – so resilient. And we are selfishly thankful that she hasn’t asked about Bubba.
We love you. Thanks for walking through this with us.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

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