Family Vacation

We are back from our lake-house vacation in Tennessee. I couldn’t stop singing the Arrested Development song the whole time we were there.

We had a great time on our first trip as a family. The twelve-hour car trip was a little rough on a certain four-year-old. We knew we were in trouble when we were only one hour into the trip when he said, “Why is this taking so long?” The trip back was a little worse when he decided to only take a 30 minute nap and talk literally the rest of the drive home.

I don’t know why Chik-Fil-A has not made their way to Michigan yet but it is probably a good thing in my case. Pregnancy has given me a strong distaste for chicken but has only increased my life-long love of waffle fries. We hit up our first Chik-Fil-A in Ohio and then visited a few times while in Tennessee and one of the way back in Kentucky. I’m hoping my midwife is not reading this because I’m pretty sure large quantities of waffle fries are not on the “to eat” list for pregnancy.

The boys had the time of their life. Besides have 24-7 attention from us and their grandparents we also had cousins, aunts, and uncles there as well. The highlights for them included:

  • Swimming in the lake and basically living in a swim suit
  • Swimming in the “little pool” (A.K.A. the hot tub with the temperature turned way down)
  • Driving a boat (with proper adult assistance, of course)
  • Tubing (AIB only lasted about a minute; DIB enjoyed a good 10 minute slow ride)
  • Riding a pony – particularly exciting for DIB who has been asking to do this for months
  • Putt-putt golf with Grandma and Grandpa
  • Sparklers, Pop-Its and fireworks
The highlights for D and I were:
Overall, they were really well-behaved even off their normal schedule. We are slowly attempting to get back into our routine. DIB had a few sad moments this week saying that he missed the lake and wanted to do “something he had never done before.” Good thing for him, at five years old, there will be plenty more opportunities for that.
P.S. We recorded a new episode of the podcast right before we left.

If Not You – Who?

I’ll be honest. The first draft of this post was a lot longer and more impassioned.  We had to say no to a placement this week and I was feeling emotional about that. There are a lot of reasons why we cannot take another child right now into our home and an equal amount of reasons why we really, really wanted to welcome this child into our home. We had the rare opportunity to have a few weeks to make a decision and we tried to talk ourselves into it in many ways but, in the end, we both came to the conclusion that we knew was the right thing to do for our family at this time. But, I’m not going to lie, it totally sucks.

As you may know, D proofs the vast majority of the posts for me (especially ones that fall under the “ranting” category). Here is the conversation that took place at our house:

Me: I wrote a blog post. You need to read it.

D: What is it about?

Me: How people should become foster parents.

D: I think everyone already knows how you feel about that.

Luckily, this video was posted by Bethany Christian Services the same day I wrote this post. It says it better than I can.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubBfXc3UOrw&feature=player_embedded]

This week I heard about a 16 year old who has had nearly 30 placements in foster care since he was five. I also heard about a girl who has aged out of foster care and is now having her children removed and put into the same system she has grown up in. It breaks my heart and I know it breaks God’s heart too. These are stories that I hear too often and that is why, every once in a while, I have to ask you to consider how your family might help these kids.

Milestones and Firsts

I’ve mentioned before how I can get a little sad at times about all the “firsts” we have missed with our boys. I guess that is why when we get to experience them I am fighting back tears.

Yesterday morning, DIB came and told me he had something stuck between his teeth. I told him to go brush them but he said that didn’t work so D gave it a look. Sure enough, he had an adult tooth coming in right behind his front baby tooth. He walked over to me and I wiggled his little baby tooth shocked to see that it was very, very loose! I told him, “You have a loose tooth. You are getting your big kid teeth.” He was just beaming with excitement. I was resisting tears and the urge to scream, “Please stop growing up!”  Since they were headed to my moms yesterday, I told him that if his tooth fell out he needed to tell Grandma.

When I picked him up the tooth was still there but he had been wiggling it all day. We recently read The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist so he was pretty familiar with the whole loose tooth situation. We had plans to go to a fundraiser for a friend’s mission trip so we picked up D at home and headed our way to the restaurant.

On the way there, DIB shouted, “My tooth fell out!” He handed me this tiny little tooth and showed us his brand new gap. (Again, I tried not to cry.) We noticed later that the tooth right next to it is also loose so the Tooth Fairy might be at our house a couple times this week.  He asked us if the Tooth Fairy was real or pretend. I told him the Tooth Fairy was a really fun thing to pretend but that the surprise he will find under his pillow would be very real!

He proceeded to tell everyone at the restaurant – our waitress, the friends we ran into – that he lost his tooth. He did not skip any part of the story starting with, “This morning, we saw that I had a loose tooth….” I hope everyone wanted all the details.

When we got home, we put the tooth in a little baggie and DIB put it under his pillow. The Tooth Fairy made it there around 10:00 pm and put a dollar under the pillow and took the tooth. D suggested we leave a quarter but I kindly told him that this was 2011. The kid should get a dollar. If it was Grandpa Tooth-Fairy, then he would have gotten a twenty.

At 6:20 am this morning, DIB came into our room to show us his dollar. We told him that it was so exciting but he really needed to get back in bed. He went to the bathroom first and it was taking a little longer than necessary. Before heading back to his room, he stopped back in our room and said,

Guys, I have something to tell you. I was trying to pee and hold on to my dollar and I dropped it in the toilet.

He was holding the dollar as he told us this. The thing is that, at our house, sleep takes a high priority even over germs so I told him to go put the dollar down and we would take care of it later. But, please, get back in bed.

Reading Material

Just in case you were looking for something to read.

A New Normal from Wendy at Practical Theology for Women

Our need for God is better highlighted in hard circumstances. When life is good, I inevitably gloss over my need for Him. But His unchanging character is the only anchor for my soul when life gets messy.

How many times do I need to link to this blog to encourage you to add it to your reader?

Hope from Heather at The Chaseys….

I’ve learned that this is a reality for a lot of women. But as someone who hasn’t had to go through the pain myself, it’s been hard to relate to and grieve alongside women who I care deeply about. A friend referred me to this post written by Molly Piper and I decided that it was a great place to start–I needed to educate myself. After some research, I purchased Hannah’s Hope. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I do know that my heart has been changed by this book and I hope my actions and words are more sensitive to those who are hurting.

A whole series on this project: Modern Wood Fence from My Mid-Century Modern Life

I am just in love with this outdoor room and my friend and her husband created. I’ve showed it to D and we have a hard time imagining how this might work in our yard but I can dream, right?

For the Orphan: Life Upside Down from the For the City blog…

“You know what? The biggest thing is to not be afraid to pray big prayers,” Cara says, glancing at the baby in her arms and nodding her head toward his brother. “These boys are worth it. Their mom is worth it. And God is completely able.”

(That one made me cry a little).

Sunday Seven

1. Not too long ago I got a new pair of glasses. I just need a little help seeing long-distance, especially at night. I was able to get them from a trendy place around here because of a great Groupon deal they had but I wish I had known about Warby Parker first. They are like the TOMS of glasses and the price is unbelievable – $95 for lenses and frames.

2. Last weekend, S came to church with on Sunday and had lunch with us afterward. On Monday, we went to visit M & T. They are doing so well. It was fun to catch up with their mom and hear M’s developing vocabulary. I got some great pictures of all the kids playing together. It was too cute.

3. I tweeted last night that every day I am tempted to spoil my kids. They are so cute and wonderful and I just want to give them everything that want. But I cannot do that for many budgetary reasons and won’t do that because I know it is bad for them. However, we did give them a pretty good Saturday this weekend which ended with a trip to a carnival, their first “roller coaster” ride, cotton candy, elephant ears, staying up an hour and a half later than normal and being allowed to sleep together on the top bunk (because they are still small enough to pull that off). It was nice to be able to give in a little.

4. I have not updated much on the adoption finalization because nothing had really changed. We are waiting on a signature and a court date. The goal is early July.  You could pray for that to happen if you like.

5. DIB is officially obsessed with Fireman Sam. In fact, he thinks that he is Fireman Sam.

On these hot days both boys definitely need a down time but I’m actually trying to break them of their nap in the afternoon (I know, that seems kind of crazy). DIB is going to full-day kindergarten in the fall and AIB has been having a hard time falling asleep at night. Fireman Sam has been serving as a great down time distraction.

6. I loved this story about a father who waved to his teenage son every morning this past school year as the bus drove by their house. In costume!

His son says he is embarrassed. I think he will appreciate it later.

7. Lastly, DIB randomly said this to in the car today:

I am really, really happy that I live with you guys now.

Totally out of nowhere. Sometimes we get a little glimpse of what is on their hearts. We are really, really happy they are with us too.

One Hundred Episodes

Last week, T & W recorded the 100th episode of Foster Parenting Podcast. I actually looked into getting flights to California to be there for the live recording but could not justify the expense. It would have been so fun to be there with them.

In the episode, they tackle some of the comments and complaints that foster parents often hear about the foster care system. If you have thought about foster care but are scared off by the regulations or bureaucracy of it all this is a great episode for you. I actually think it is one of the best episodes ever.

In addition, there is an interview in the beginning the the Executive Director of Olive Crest (T & W’s agency). During the interview she talks about the agency’s Safe Families for Children program. Here is a clip from CBS Evening News on this program that is going on across the country.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDUxB09j4yA&feature=player_embedded]

Safe Families partners with the local church to help families who may be at risk of losing their kids to the foster care system. After reading more about it, I’m actually kind of obsessed with the program. Volunteer families take care of kids until the parents can get back on their feet. It is exactly what the Church should do.

Busy, Busy

Somehow I’ve become a once-per-week poster. We’ve been busy!

A little housekeeping: I’m going to be referring to the kid’s by their initial’s now. It was getting a little confusing. So, from now on DIB (for 5 year old son) and AIB (for 4 year old son). We are still K (mom/wife) and D (dad/husband).

Thursday we were able to take family pictures with the fabulous Jenn Anibal. I cannot wait to see them. I told her I wanted a different setting (not a park) and we came up with the Dequindre Cut. And, although I’ve been pinning ideas on our outfits for this photo shoot for the past three months, we ended up scrambling at the last minute (in typical fashion) and picking out clothes a couple hours before. I think what we came up with coordinated pretty well without being so matchy-matchy. We spent most of the hour begging our non-napped four year old to smile. I trust Jenn got some good ones.

Friday morning we had Kindergarten Round-Up. Very strange to be a parent of a soon-to-be kindergartener. DIB has been expressing a bit of anxiety about this change next year. He won’t be at the same school where he attends preschool and will have to say good-bye to some friends. Fortunately, the blow was softened when he realized our neighbor, C, would also be there. We walked to school that morning and when he saw C’s family’s car go by, he said, “Oh, C will be there? Well, nevermind my other friends!” We are going to work on loyalty.

I’ve had a little anxiety over school next year for DIB and my fears where calmed during kindergarten round-up. Lots of people have given me the advice that as DIB’s mom, I know him best and know if he is ready or not for kindergarten. My gut instinct was that he was ready but there was this voice in the back of my head saying, “You just met him six months ago. You don’t know him that well.” After they went through the curriculum I was able to say, “Yes, he can do this.” It is going to be a long day for him and an adjustment but I think deciding to start him in kindergarten in the fall is the right choice. We have not totally narrowed down which school yet but I’ve decided that will be D’s decision.

After the big event that was Kindergarten Round-Up, we met up with my mom and AIB to introduce the boys to the wonderful past-time that is garage sale-ing. It is a family tradition and they needed a proper introduction from the master herself, Grandma. We taught them how to look for signs and after we picked up some games and toys at a bargain price, I’m pretty sure the boys were sold.

Saturday night we celebrated our four year old (whose birthday fell on Mother’s Day this year). He was eagerly anticipating the party and lit up every time someone new walked in. It was just family but you would have thought we had invited 50 guests. He was pumped. After everyone left he said, “Mommy, I’m so glad everyone came to my party.”  The big brother struggled a little bit with the lack of attention and asked a few times during gifts, “That one is a sharing toy, right?”

On Sunday, we did something that I think testifies that we truly, truly love our kids. Along with D’s parents, sister & brother-in-law and their kids, we headed out to see the real Thomas the Train. In 40 degree weather. In the rain. For three hours.

None of the five children under the age of five seemed to notice the rain. They were so enthusiastic. Three of the kids got temporary Thomas-themed tattoos. DIB is holding strong to his claim that he will “never, ever get a tattoo.” Big thanks to my in-laws for getting us the tickets to this event! The kids had a great time and the parents and grandparents enjoyed seeing the kids have a good time. We came home and crashed on the couch for most the rest of the evening. I justified the excessive TV-watching with the fact that we spent the afternoon in the rain, making life-long memories.

Motherhood

Wendy Hoger Alsup is just full of wisdom…

Motherhood is not the greatest good for the Christian woman. Whether you are a mom or not, don’t get caught up in sentimentalism that sets it up as some saintly role. The greatest good is being conformed to the image of Christ.

Please read the rest of her post. Sometimes in Christianity, we have failed and have set up motherhood and family as idols. They are good things but they are not the ultimate things.

There are women – with and without children – in my life who model compassion, mercy, patience, grace, kindness and selflessness. All characteristics that a mother is supposed to have and all ones at which I fail at all the time. Today, I am thankful for my mother and my mother-in-law and they great example they are to me. Today is a reminder for me as well that my children are a blessing which is something I need to remember on a daily basis when I lose my patience with them or want to complain about their behavior.

This morning I woke up thinking of our boys’ first mom and how horrible today must be for her. Not only is it  Mother’s Day but it is her youngest son’s fourth birthday today. I know very little about her but I know for sure that she has lived a hard life. I prayed for her today, asking that God would put someone in her path to encourage her and that she may feel His peace.

God has certainly given me an interesting path to motherhood and I’m daily asking that He helps me not take these blessings for granted. (And, right now, I need to go hang up a birthday banner).

Names

For the sake of this post, lets say our last name is Baracus since we don’t use our full names on the blog or podcast.

The boys have been learning their new last name for the past few months. D2 picked up on it a little bit quicker since he is referred to as Mr. Baracus sometimes at school. We have also talked about nick names since occasionally we just call D2 “D” for short. He told my dad not too long ago that he would like to be called “Baracus” which was pretty cute. He has also started calling me “Mom” which, of course, is the nickname for my real name, “Mommy.”

We have spent some time talking about what we would like their middle names to be. They both had no idea that people even have middle names. After talking about several ideas, we finally picked two that had some meaning to us and went well with their first names. We have talked more about adoption and we told them their new middle names. Which are…

I figured middle names would be pretty safe to share on here. We chose Isaiah because of its meaning, “God is Salvation”. Also, I have several favorite verses from that book of the Bible. Isaac means “laughter” and well, that just fits our little guy. They have had fun sharing their new middle names with people.

In our last bit of naming news, D2 also made the decision to spell his first name a different way. This was something we had discussed because his first name was long and it looks a little funny with our last name. I was pretty sure he would choose the original spelling but he surprised me.

I sat down with him yesterday and told him he had to make a big decision. I wrote out both spellings on a piece of paper, spelled each one out loud for him and counted the number of letters in each name. He was adamant that he preferred the new spelling.  I explained to him that we would spell his name this way for the rest of his life and he still chose the new spelling. When I asked him why, he said, “Because it is shorter.” He is pretty excited about this change and has asked me to spell it the new way with him several times. It was actually really awesome to see him be so confident in making this decision.

From the Blog World

I love the internet. I could be embarrassed about the number of blogs I read but I’m not.  Here is what has jumped out to me through my blog reader and/or social networking in the past week.

Kristen talked about the relationships formed through the blogging and social networking world. It is 2011, people, this happens. In fact, it was the catalyst for us becoming foster parents. Which leads me to my next link.

An exciting post from my newest online friend…

Did you know you could miss someone you’ve never met? I long for them to fill this lovely room with their energy and joy. I, just like my Father, look forward to revealing this beautiful room to my future children. I long to see the delight on their faces when they discover what has already been created specifically for them, a place that no one can take from them, a place that’s safe and bright, a mix of past and present, a place to grow.

Jodi shares about the joys and struggles of being married to someone in ministry…

Every pastor’s wife I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a lot) has struggled with the dual nature of the pastor’s wife role. It’s simultaneously exciting and fulfilling and really, really hard.

Yesterday, I lost my patience with my kids more time than I really want to admit. Sometimes, I think, “Where is that nurturing gene I was so sure I had before kids?” I apologized to both of them before bed time and we prayed and asked God to help each of us be kinder and more patient with each other. I appreciated these simple tips from Elizabeth Esther on being a nurturing mother.

One that I would add to her list that I find is an issue for me is making sure to eat well. It is easy for me to feed my kids and make sure they get protein,  fruits and veggies (specifically, using this method). However, I notice that I rarely feed myself as well as I feed them. There are too many days when noon rolls around and all I’ve had is several cups of coffee. Hunger gives me a headache and also makes me way less patient than I’m capable of being.  I’ll feed them lunch, get them to rest/nap time and then eat something that is quick and easy and probably without any protein or good nutritional value. Even five years into being gluten-free, I’m still figuring out what is quick and easy and healthy. What I really  need to do is plan ahead to make sure I have options in the house for me. Anyone else have this problem or something similar?