Sunday, June 28, 2009

*during* kitchen pics

here are some pics from our crazy kitchen renovation last summer.  we started most of the tear out a few weeks before we moved in and continued the project throughout the summer.  i can honestly say that i never want to do that again! i have never been so happy to stop eating fast food/restaurant food in my whole life!  plus, 2 70+ lbs. dogs really complicate things when your trying to keep drywall dust from spreading all over your house :)

*tear out day one

*the freshly gutted kitchen and newly expanded room

*new tiles freshly laid by my husband and our pastor

*the first day of cabinet installation

*refinishing the foyer and office hardwoods

*there's a first time for everything!  the floors look great now :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

*before* kitchen pics

i'm inspired by show us where you live friday, so i thought i'd show you some pics for our kitchen/office remodel last year when we bought our house.  since i have sooooo many pics, i'll break it up into segments.  here are some BEFORE pics...

i'll post some pics during our renovations soon! lets just say, it looks VERY different now :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

show us where you live friday - master bedroom

i just started following the wonderful blog, kelly's korner a few weeks ago. every friday she does a showcase of homes, where different bloggers link rooms in their homes for everyone to see.  i think it's a great way to get new decorating ideas and to check out other people's digs.  anyways, this week kelly is featuring master bedrooms, so i decided to join in.  here's a few quick pics of our place (please ignore the ceiling fan pulls in the pictures!):

and now, for the best part of the room...

one of our favorite roommates - yawkey :)

**edit - i felt guilty for not posting a pic of our other favorite roommate, fenway, so here he is:

our master bedroom is sadly the room we've probably put the least amount of work into, but it works for now!  when we moved in a year ago, we were in the process of completely renovating our kitchen and office so our bedroom kinda got the backseat. hopefully, over the next few months, i can put some more finishing touches on it.  hope you enjoyed a quick view of our place.  come back next week for the next edition of show us where you live friday!


my sister's keeper

i love this book, just ask my husband.  he had to endure me reading every waking moment for a day and a half until i was done with it two summers ago.  anyways, the movie's out this weekend and i'm dying to see it!  let me know what you think if you see it...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

happy b-day miss mikayla!

my oldest niece, mikayla, turns 7 this week so we spent the afternoon celebrating with her.  we had our fill of cake, ice cream, presents, sun and water at the party.  my sister always goes all out for b-days, and this party was no exception. here are some of my favorite pics from the day:

(ryan was one of the few adults crazy enough to brave the super water slide)

(actually, he was pumped, as you can tell!!)

(the birthday girl!)

(my two favorite girls - mikenna & mikayla)

auntie yea yea

Thursday, June 18, 2009

now we wait...

yesterday i was so caught up in the details of everything going on that i really didn't stop and celebrate the significance of finishing our last home visit. now we basically wait..."wait for what?", you ask. well, to be APPROVED!! our SW said that barring anything major, she would have the rest of our home study typed up and in her supervisor's hands yesterday. i can't believe it! we thought our home study couldn't get passed on until we'd finished up our last concurrent planning class, which is july 7th. oh but no. our SW even said that if the approval process had no hiccups and went extremely quickly, we could be approved before we even finish up that class! now, i seriously doubt that would actually happen because i think her supervisor technically has a month to look over everything, but it does feel good to be on the home stretch.

ryan and i thought that we should wait to go on the list for calls until after august 3rd because of work commitments and our vacation, but our SW said that she didn't recommend that. she said to go ahead and get on the list, and if we start getting calls before august then we can always say "no" if we can't actually handle a placement right at that moment. while, i doubt everything will actually happen that quickly for us, the thought really freaks me out! she told ryan and i to enjoy every minute of our freedom while we can :)

so, what should we do with our freedom this weekend? got any ideas?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the bad, the ugly & the good.

according to strengths finder 2.0, positivity is my #3 strength. now, whether or not my dear husband, family and friends would agree with that, is a different story. anyways, there's a lot going on with us right now so for the purpose of maintaining my positivity, i am going to give you an update in this order: the bad, the ugly & the good. *i like a little positive punch to end things on!*

the bad.

sam's day at court did not goes as we all hoped. to our dismay, little sam and sean have been ordered to be reunified with their bio-mom. while i think we all knew that this was a very likely possibility, we prayed this day would never come. with that being said, i know that God has a sweet plan for our little guy's life. sam has been given a great start by my sister and jas, and all our extended family, which should help him better handle whatever circumstances he's now thrown into. at first there was talk of extending the boys' visitation with their bio-mom over a process of several months, but after much discussion, everyone is in agreement that that's not in their best interest. instead of shuffling the boys back and forth from different homes all summer, they are going to reunify them on july 3rd once and for all. as hard as it is, i am glad that baby sam won't have to endure the confusion caused by the limbo that was first planned for him.

the ugly.

me. yep that's right - the ugly part is me. my attitude as of late has been less than becoming. the fallout of everything with sam has left all of us in shambles, but i have had a particularly hard time making sense of it all. while i can easily verbalize that God is in control, i have a hard time buying into it. unfortunately, one of many signs of my own ugliness has been lashing out at my husband just for breathing. i am just so angry. i can't understand why the system would give these boys back to such an undeserving mother. i also can't understand how anyone could give birth to 2 precious boys and then throw them away like last year's flip flops in the first place. while i know this mother is young, naive, made mistakes, etc. i still do not feel as though she deserves a second chance with raising her boys right now - not enough time has passed, not enough true changes have been made, and not enough plans have been implemented.

the uglier truth is that i am having an even harder time trying to decipher what all this means for ryan and me. i can't help but to keep coming back to the timing of all this. here we are about to finish our steps to becoming foster/adoptive parents and then this happens. everything they teach you about reunification and letting a child go, does not compare at all to the heartache of actually going through it. *now i know that sam was not my foster child or in my custody, but if you know our family, he might as well have been. we are extremely close, and i look at my nieces and nephew as my own.* i feel so guilty thinking about putting my family through all of this pain and heart break again if we foster a child who gets reunited with their birth family. BUT (*yes, mrs. positivity is checking in here for a brief moment*), one the other hand, i know my sister and jason would say that the heartache is totally worth knowing that they got a chance to love sweet baby sam every minute that they could. i just wish it was easier to know when obstacles and trials come up in my life, if it is God teaching, growing, and preparing me or just satan distracting me from doing God's Will. we have spent a lot of time in prayer over the last 2 days so if anything, i know that He is using this time to draw us nearer to Him and i am praying that he would "rid me of myself" more and more. this song has been my prayer through all of this:

the good. *see, aren't you glad i ended on a positive note now?*

ryan and i still feel that God has not give us any indicators to stop this journey. He has still been faithfully guiding and opening doors for us as we jump through all the necessary hoops. in fact, after a night of non-stop bawling on monday, yesterday we faced our final visit for our home study. i was a nervous wreck because i have barely been able to keep myself glued together the past few days. as an admittedly over-emotional person, i was scared that the mention of reunification or other related topics, would trigger a tear-fest right in front of our social worker. *i've heard the process of fostering and adoption is full of enough of those, so i don't won't to use up all my cry time in front of our worker before i needed to.* anyways, our worker came and we were able to finish up our interview questions and do the safety inspection of our house. we thankfully shared a lot of laughs instead of tears and yet were still able to talk candidly with one another about our expectations, fears, hopes, etc. from this process. i must say, i think we got one of the good ones!! i cannot sing the praise of our SW highly enough. she's great, and she clicks with us more than we expected. (she even uses lots of sports analogies, which ryan of course loves!)

anyways, i thought for certain that once we were done with the classes, this process would only get easier. i mean, come on, sitting in a hot classroom for 3 hours, one night a week for 9 weeks...i thought that was torture enough! i guess once again i am learning that my plans are not His plans, and His are the only ones that matter. please continue to pray for sam's future, for peace for my family, and for guidance for ryan and me.

much love~

Monday, June 15, 2009

court day

at this moment, my sister and brother-in-law are in court learning the fate of their custody situation with baby sam. it's been awhile since i've blogged about this, mostly because it's hard to do without making myself turn into a blubbering baby, but i'll try to give you the whole run down:

sam was born August 15, 2008 to my brother-in-law (jason)'s 21 year old cousin. sam's the 2nd child of his bio-mom and a forty something year old man. they've both had their fair share of run-ins with the law, drugs, alcohol, etc. yet still managed to produce two beautiful little boys, for which i am thankful. a few weeks before the bio-mom gave birth to sam, she dropped his old brother, sean, who was a little over a year at the time, off at my brother-in-law's sister's house, (have i lost you yet?) and didn't show back up to get him. sean was neglected to say the least, but jason's sister was more than happy to give him a stable home for the time being. the bio-mom didn't resurface again until she gave birth to sam. upon his delivery, she contacted an adoption agency about "purchasing" sam from her for an adoptive family. needless to say, when the bio-mom called my sister and jason about getting involved, they gladly obliged. at first, they just wanted to be there to provide support and encouragement to the bio-mom, who had completely isolated herself from all her family and friends. however, a day or so after sam was born, the bio-mom decided that she wanted them to adopt him. she was released from the hospital while sam fought withdrawal in the NICU for 5 days. she made sporadic visits back to the hospital and claimed she was ready for my sister and jason to adopt him, until CPS got involved. (now, i want to be clear here- i am glad CPS did get involved. they definitely should have and if they hadn't, someone at the hospital was not doing their job. however, this does seem to be where the breakdown happened, and that makes me sad and mad at our crazy system.) so, CPS decided to award temporary custody of sam to my sister and jason, and temporary custody of sean to jason's sister. the bio-mom disappeared for awhile again and didn't care to check up on the boys for several weeks. it was not until a social worker got involved and a case plan was set that the bio-mom seemed the least bit interested in her kids' welfare or being a mother again.

however, after months of dealing with her excuses and half-hearted attempts to work her case plan, it seems the state is thinking about awarding her custody of the boys again. can i say, that this thought makes me crazy!?!?! i mean, i have been through the fost/adopt classes. i read social worker's and other foster parents' blogs, books, websites, etc. i'm no dummy when it comes to the system but when it hits this close to home, it really hurts! while i know the goal of foster care is always to reunify the biological family, i still do not understand how that is always in the best interest of the child -especially when there is a child involved that knows no one but the family that has been caring for them since birth. my heart is breaking thinking about sam being returned. my sister has 2 biological daughters who are going to also have to weather this storm with us, and that saddens me so much.
today, they will learn what the next step will be. their guardian ad litem has already told them to expect to send him to his bio-mom sometime in august. while i'm seriously praying for God's intervention, at this point, i'm also praying for peace no matter what the circumstance. will you please join me in praying for this? i am beginning to get a taste of how much this loss will hurt, but it's nothing compared to what my sister, jason and the girls will experience. please pray!

Monday, June 8, 2009

counting down

(me, mom and jenn on our b-day last year)

i'm in the mood for countdowns today, and here are some big ones that i've had on my mind lately:

-3 days until my 24th birthday (and my sister's 29th - needless to say, i'm loving teasing her about being practically 30!)
-3 days until we're done with our pre-service training
-7 day until sam's case goes back to court (please be praying, praying, praying for a major turn of events and for the judge to see through his bio mom's manipulation and lies...)
-8 days until our 2nd home visit/safety inspection
-23 days until our 3rd wedding anniversary
-29 days until our final concurrent planning class & we're officially done with all required training for this year
-40 days until camp meeting in georgia (in case you haven't heard me talk about this basically all my life, this has been a family tradition since sometime in the early 1900's - i mean, for my family that is...i'm not that old - see countdown #1)
-43 days until we join our friends in the beautiful sandestin for some r&r
-56 days until we begin accepting placement calls & begin extending our family!!

hmmmm...i'm beginning to think that i could be wishing my summer away already, maybe i should re-evaluate :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

better late than never

all i can do at this point is apologize. i cannot even remember the last time i blogged, and for that, i am very sorry!!! it seems like the month of may flew by without me even noticing it. we have been more busy than normal so the time for blogging has just been non-existent. thankfully, since the days have been speeding by us, we are already on the home stretch of our approval for foster-to-adopt and ryan has successfully started his new J-O-B.

so, since so much time has passed, i will give you the footnotes version of all things sweeney:

-tonight we have pre-service class #8, which means only 1 more of these blessed classes left! (i cannot tell you how excited that makes my sweet husband. needless to say, thursday is not his favorite night of the week.)

-we have already completed 1 of the 2 classes to become a concurrent planning family (meaning fostering with the intention of adopting), and will complete the final class on july 7th

-we had our first home visit on may 19th and will finish up with our second one on june 16th

-at our first home visit, we met our social worker and absolutely loved her!!! this is seriously an answer to prayer because social workers can definitely make or break your experience so we are blessed to have one that we love and click with

-we have decided to wait to start accepting placement calls until august 3rd because we will be going on vacation from july 17th to 26th, and i have attend a conference from july 29th to august 2nd

-our nursery is filled with all the basics - crib, changing table, glider, bookcase, lots of baby boy clothes (keeping our fingers crossed), stroller, car seat, jumperoo, etc. so we're as prepared as we can be to get a call

-we have agreed to accept either an infant, under the age of 1, or a sibling group of 2 children, if there is an infant involved

-WE ARE SOOOO EXCITED!! bring on our little whinning, crying, snotty precious bundle(s) of joy :)

*ryan's big boy job:

-ryan began his job last week and really seems to love it so far! the people he's working with are great and he really enjoys learning a different type of sales

-he's been busy learning lots of new software and a bunch of technical jargon that i don't understand, but his head's not spinning every night when he gets home, so he must be doing alright

-it's been a major adjustment for both of us with his new schedule, but mostly in a good way - we're just not used to fighting for our shower in the mornings or getting on each other's nerves from spending too much time together...

-he made his first sale yesterday! go baby go!!

-we're planning on going to boston in the next few weeks to get his work truck hooked up and to have a mini trip to boston (and hopefully to catch a redsox game)

-he'll kick off his real work travel though with an expo in las vegas in early july

*other sweeney activities:
-after several hours of sweat inducing labor, lots of dollars thrown down the drain, and a few mini-arguments our blasted pool is no longer a murky green color!! we've even swam in it twice and are hoping to kick off a summer of pool parties this weekend :)

-we went to churchill downs to hang out with some of our besties a few weekends ago, and we came home -$18...i guess it could have been worse! plus we got the hook up with some sweet box seats thanks to our dear friend EB. thanks girl!!

-in july, were planning a mega vaca to include a few days in georgia for our annual family reunion/camp meeting and then heading on to sandestin with our lovely friends josh and cheryl. i can't even put into words how excited i am about this! here's a sneak peak of where we're going:
-ryan and i have taken up walking in the evening. it's quite hilarious so if your lurking around our neighborhood at about 10 p.m. at night, check out our sweet power walking moves - complete with our two 70+ pound dogs in tow :)

-my 24th birthday is coming up next week, which means my sister's 29th birthday is also coming up since we share a b-day and all. anyways, i can't believe that i'm gonna be 24, much less that my sis is only 1 year from 30! geeez, what an old grandma she is :) j/k

**well, that's all the updates i have for now. i know better than to make any promises but i hope to be a more faithful blogging friend in the future. much love!