Friday, October 30, 2009

sweeney halloweenie

kelly's korner is back at it again! this week's edition of show us where you live friday is halloween costumes. even though i've yet to buy costumes for our little guys this year (i'll be running out to target later today to work on that so i'm not the worst foster mom ever!), i thought i'd post some pictures of ryan and i from halloweens past:

*this is from my sophomore year of college in the dorms. my friends jessica and kristyn decided to shop in the kiddie section at walmart, while i wanted to go with something a little more creative. i obviously had more time on my hands then!!

*i've always had a thing for firefighters :) oh, and notice the pink paisley galoshes. i love those things and still wear them from time to time!

*this is actually from a spring break pirate themed party with campus crusade, but since ryan was in costume, i felt the need to share! real creative, huh??

*this is from a halloween party last year. ryan was actually really sick and ended up in the hospital the next day. i just look sick, but wasn't actually. if you can't tell, i was a publisher's clearinghouse winner (*aka- too lazy to buy a real costume, so just went with stuff from around the house!!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

i'm alive and well

oh yes, i am alive! sorry for the major lack of updates but as i am learning, personal computer time is not really a high priority when trying to juggle 2 kids, a husband and a full time job! anyways, we still have r & p in our care and are starting to establish our new normal. we had a facilitated staffing meeting with CPS last wednesday, and that was truly a learning experience. as newby foster parents, i can honestly say that our state/county training program DOES NOT do a good job preparing foster parents, particularly for meetings like last wednesday. so for those of you who do not foster but are interested in knowing more about it, or those of you who are like me and are just nosy, here's a little about our meeting last week:

wednesday morning, we took r to the meeting at the request of the supervisor on his case. he was super nervous and so were we! on our way upstairs for the meeting, we ran into his mom while waiting for the elevators and i was surprised by how emotional it made me to see them greet each other. bio mom cried, seeming sad to be there because of the circumstances but also really happy to see r. she was cordial with us and actually thanked us for taking care of her boys, which was a major surprise! i expected her to be more angry or rude towards us than she was, but i'm still not sure how to interpret her reaction to us. i'm not sure if it's a good thing because it shows that she has clarity of mind over the situation and knows that this is the best opportunity for her to get her life and family back together, or if she just doesn't really care about her boys, so them living with strangers is fine. not sure how to process that one?!?

anyways, as we waited upstairs for the meeting to begin, baby p's dad arrived and we were pretty surprised about that too. it never even crossed my mind that he would be there or be in the running for getting baby p back, but i guess at least now we know. he was much younger than i was expecting, and appears to be much younger than the boys' mom. he never spoke to us but did speak to r briefly. i still don't really know what to make of him either but he definitely is the more vocal of the 2 parents and did not mind trying to throw bio mom under the bus at every chance he could get. he also got caught in a few bold face lies during the meeting, but yet still tried to lie his way out of those too. that really irritated me!!

just to give you a brief rundown of the scene in the meeting, here's all the players who were in attendance: the boys' bio mom, baby p's bio dad, bio dad's mom, grandma and cousin, bio mom's sister and brother-in-law, a rep from the drug treatment center, 2 mentors within the CPS program, a student social worker, ryan and i, our social worker, the supervisor on the case, r, and a meeting facilitator. so, it was a full room to say the least!! since i cannot give much in the way of details about the boys' case, i will just say that there are definitely some ongoing concerns in regards to the family. the bio mom currently has a protective order against baby p's bio dad, so they couldn't even be in the room at the same time. we basically had to sit through the meeting 2 times in a row so that they could disburse and gather information from all parties involved without having the parents in the room together. it was a long morning overall, and most of the details we learned, i wish we could forget. poor r has not had an easy life, while baby p really knows no different. all things considered though, both boys are a joy to have in our home so far and we hope to hang onto for as long as we can!

the purpose of the meeting though was to determine what the state was going to recommend for the boys' case later that day in court. CPS wanted to lay all their facts on the table and see if all parties involved could come to a consensus on what the next plan of action. as i mentioned before, baby p's dad's cousin (*are you tracking with me??) and the bio mom's sister and brother-in-law were at the meeting. baby p's dad's cousin wanted to petition to get a relative placement of just baby p, while the boys' aunt and uncle (from mom's side) wanted to petition to get a relative placement of both boys. the aunt and uncle actually already have custody of r & p's biological middle brother too and have had him from infancy and he's now 11. *confused yet?* however, through the meeting, thankfully the supervisor determined that it was not a good idea to split the boys up so she basically told bio dad's cousin to take a hike. then, because the boys' aunt and uncle live over an hour from here, and because there are a few concerns with preliminary background check stuff, the supervisor also decided that the aunt and uncle would not be a good placement for the boys either. so, all that to say...after everything was out on the table, everyone (except p's bio dad and the aunt) agreed that it was best for the boys to stay in foster care and in our home for the time being. PTL! some recommendations and requirements were made regarding the case plan for bio mom and dad, and those include a range of things like anger management classes and in-patient drug treatment. we still really have no clue what type of time frame we're looking at but if i had to guess off the top of my head, it would be months, not weeks. both parents have a long road ahead of them and i really hope they do what they need to do to get their kids back. (*at least bio p's dad is pretty much a whole 'nother story!!)

the most surprising thing though about this whole situation is really seeing God change both mine and ryan's hearts in regards to fostering. one of our biggest concerns going into foster-to-adopt was just that we would accept a child or children into our home and not be able to keep them. after everything my family went through with baby sam, we just did not think we could take another lose of a child to this screwed up system, but at the same time, we both still felt compelled to pursue this. however, i'm not sure if it's just the reality of having a teenager in our home or just way too much optimism, but at this point, ryan and i both feel like we really just want to love these guys while we can and then turn them back to their family once they are rehabilitated. *now i will say though, the thought of the boys going back to their families before they are completely rehabilitated, does still freak us out but we're just trying to leave that in the Lord's hands!* SO, we are just taking things one day at a time now. we are just praying for God's mercies to be new every morning and for us to know how to best love these boys as Christ loves us.

hopefully, now that i am beginning to catch my breath again, i will update more often again and can share some of the fun stuff we are getting to do with the boys and not just all the mundane/yucky/legal stuff. thanks for all your prayers and love during this transition!!!! i know many of you have probably thought we flew the coo coos nest, but i assure you that we're doing alright and we're getting through each day with strength and guidance from above!

much love!

Monday, October 19, 2009

houston, we have a placement!

yep, you read that right...we got a placement on friday. are you ready for this? 2 boys...5.5 months, baby p, and 13 years old, r. yes, you read that right, a 13 year old and a baby!!! hence why i haven't been blogging. we've jumped into parenthood with both feet! oh, and get this - ryan was out of town for the first 30 hours of having the boys so i was on my own *well, not really...our great families were super helpful and didn't leave me hanging on my own* so, are you convinced that we need to be medicated yet? i am.

i literally have never been so exhausted in my life as i was this weekend, especially saturday. the boys got settled in pretty easily but the stress of the transition and ryan being gone was much tougher than i could have ever imagined. we weren't prepared for a teenager so we had nothing, so shopping was a must on saturday. we shopped til we dropped for food, clothes, etc. i don't have much time for the details now, but things are going as good as can be expected. r is pretty homesick and misses his mom, but we're working through it and haven't had any major outbursts or behavioral problems yet. we have a facilitated staffing meeting on wednesday morning with bio mom so we should know more about the long-term plans for the boys then. i hope to update more a little later and give as much detail as i can but for now, i've got to go make dinner for our growing bunch of boys!!!

*oh, and just a side note - i will not be using the boys names or posting any pictures of their faces on here since it's a public blog. if we're facebook friends, feel free to enjoy some pics of our cute boys, but if not, just use your imagination :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a fall weekend with my favorite girls

i have 2 nieces that are 7 and 5 now, and most days, i'm not really sure where the time has gone. mikayla, the 7-year old, was born the summer before my senior year of high school, so i only lived in town for the first year of her life and then i was off to college. mikenna, the 5-year old, was born when i was a sophomore in college, so we've never lived in the same town until last year when ryan and i moved back home. when we lived away, i was home frequently for the weekends so i got to see them a lot and was as involved as i could be in their lives. now that we're back home, it seems like i've almost taken for granted that they are just a quick car ride away, and i really don't get to spend nearly as much quality time with them as i used to.

with the hopes that we'll be adding to our family soon, i really want to try to get as much time in with the girls as possible before life gets even more chaotic. SO, this weekend, ryan and i decided to take the girls on a quick road trip and visit Boyd Orchards in Versailles, KY. we couldn't have asked for better weather or better company! the girls are so grown up now and very opinionated!!! they were very excited to plan which activity we did first, which slide to go down next, when to visit the orchard's store, etc. the fall breezes were blowing but the sun was also out shining brightly, so it was the perfect combination for a day spent outside.

we had a great time and were all super tired on the way home. maybe it was from the hay ride, a trip to the pumpkin patch, wondering through the corn maze, sliding down the slides, feeding the animals in the petting zoo, and stuffing our faces with pumpkin donuts and candied apples? hmmm...i dunno!

anyways, here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

foster parenting mentor

we had a great visit last night with our foster parenting mentor. she's a really sweet lady who has been fostering for over 4 years. she gave us a lot of insight and encouragement about the system. *and i'm feeling like i need that right now!* she also has a connection with someone on the placement team in our county's DCBS (department for children based services) office, who used to be their case worker. she's supposed to call tonight or tomorrow with her contact's phone number so that we can get in touch with her. she recommended us call her friend so that she's familiar with us in case she needs to place a child that fits our criteria. our mentor said that us being number 3 on the list is great because there are usually several hundred people on "the list" at once - however, the specifics of the child(ren) we are requesting may be what is causing our delay. i'm nervous and hopefully at the same time about contacting her, but we'll see! hopefully if she calls tonight, i can touch base with the placement team worker tomorrow. ryan and i are for sure praying for God's sovereignty and timing!! we don't want to rush anything but we also don't want to miss out on an opportunity either...

tonight we have to pick up a golf club for ryan, meet with our small group, then go to his parents to help them move something, so we should be busy and hopefully will be able to keep our minds off all of the "what ifs" :) hope you have a great night too!

Monday, October 12, 2009

visit with our SW

i just realized that i never gave an update on our visit with our SW last week. shame, shame, shame on me!! anyways, the visit was short but sweet. we love our SW are really feel blessed to be matched with her. we've heard from other couples that she is a much needed advocate when in the thick of things. she's always been upfront with us about the system and it's dysfunction, and also very attentive to our endless questions. i just hope our good relationship remains once we get a placement!!

we hadn't seen her since our 2nd home visit a few months ago and had only talked to her sparingly over email and phone since then, so it was nice to touch base again. she said that she looked at the concurrent planning list and we were 3rd!! wow! i couldn't believe that we are third...i was thinking more like towards the bottom or middle of the list, but that just may be my coping mechanism for all the waiting. although she did point out that the concurrent list is never super long, so it still could be awhile before we add any kiddos to our home. she also said that the list was moving very, very slowly for awhile because most of the kids coming into the system were just regular foster placements or were getting placed with their biological siblings in other families instead with waiting families. now, the list is moving pretty regularly again so hopefully it won't be too much longer. maybe before Christmas?? i hope!!!

so, that was that. our meeting was refreshing and it felt good to hear that we are still on the list and do still exist somewhere within the foster care system, even though it doesn't feel like it. with the renewed excitement, i'm trying to keep my anxiety over the waiting in check and keep my perspective on praying for the right kiddo(s) to be placed with us. our true heart behind all of this is to adopt and add kids forever to our family, so we're just praying that we are able to do that at the end of this journey.

we had a great weekend and i've got some cute pictures to share from a trip to Boyd's Orchard yesterday with my nieces. hopefully, i'll get those up in the next day or two. hope you had a great weekend too!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


ok, i give up! i have been searching for the last 2 months for a rug for our nursery, and have found nothing. well, i've found lots of somethings, but nothing in my price range. why do stores think it is alright to charge $500 + your firstborn child for a rug? this is not acceptable. i will not forfeit my firstborn (or $500 for that matter).

i've even checked all the usual suspects and can find nothing that will work. i mean people, can you please just make a beautiful/slightly modern, chocolate brown rug that i like and that is in our price range?? i can find some decent patterns in our price range but most of them are on jute rugs, and from my experience with jute rugs in our foyer, i will definitely not be doing that again! every time someone comes over, i am afraid i'll get sued because they've slipped and fallen on our rugs. even with rug gripper, those things cannot be trusted! i definitely don't want to be carrying a baby in the middle of the night and take a dive on the hardwoods.

so, here are a few of the ones i love, but will not be affording:

*from both $499 for 8' x 10'

*from $549 for 8' x 10'

*from $410 for 8' x 10'

have you seen anything similar for a decent price? if so, i'll love you forever if you lead me to the rug of choice for our nursery! all i'm missing in the nursery are a few more wall decorations and a rug...oh, and a baby of course :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

a face lift and a weekend

so i was bored with my old blog design so i gave myself a face lift. what do ya think?? bright colors - check. fallish design - check. free - check. ok, works for me!! i've been wanting to splurge for a total revamp from the design girl for awhile now, but i can't really justify spending the money to the hubby right now when i keep denying him that new golf driver he's been wanting... maybe for Christmas or something, we'll see!

this weekend was lots of fun and went by in a snap, but that's how most fall weekends seem to go, at least for us. we successfully accomplished everything we had planned, although i didn't get my chance to snap a picture of ryan in the freezing cold pool, as promised. sorry to let you down but he decided to take out the pool steps friday night before we went camping so that mr. creepy (aka- the automatic pool vacuum) could work uninhibited by the pool steps overnight while we were gone. we had lots of leaves that had blown in so instead of vacuuming them ourselves *because we are lazy*, we let mr. creepy do it for us. so while i was doing the last minute packing for camping, he was in the swimming pool giving himself pneumonia. i didn't even think about the picture until after he came bolting inside for a hot shower. darn.

camping was much better than i expected. perhaps it was because we were within a gator's drive to a house where we could use a real toilet instead of having to go in the woods, and i could check facebook on my iphone :) *hmmm...maybe we should consider this type of camping more of "glamping" than camping?* i also got to catch up with lots of people from church that i haven't seen in awhile, which was a nice treat! we roasted hot dogs, smores, etc. and hung around the campfire chatting while the kids went on hay rides around the property. we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful night! the sky was lit up with an almost full moon and the crisp fall air was perfect camping weather. ryan and i didn't get to there until just about dark though, so we ended up setting up our tent in the dark. everything went smoothly until we climbed in our tent that night to go to sleep and realized that our feet were elevated above our heads. guess we didn't pick as flat of a spot as we thought! we turn ourselves around and went to sleep pretty quickly, only to wake up several more times in the night to find that we had slid downhill towards the end of the tent. so much for a peaceful night's sleep, but oh well! it was fun.

the next day we were both pretty wiped out but we headed home to do the dreaded task of closing the pool. much to both of our surprise, we got everything closed up without any arguments or marital spats. i think that is a serious first when it comes to the pool! i guess that's a good sign of our growing marital maturity, right? :)

here's a picture of the green swamp before we closed her up...anyone up for a dip *besides Ryan*?:

and here she is all closed up for the winter, PTL!:

saturday night, i had a girls' night out, which was much needed! we went to this cute bistro/martini bar and then off to play pool at a sports bar. i've got to tell ya, after having so many friends who are new moms, i have learned more than about breast feeding, body changes during and after pregnancy, and sleep deprivation than i ever wanted to know. it makes me appreciate that we're only having a paper pregnancy this time around :) i also learned that i am truly horrible at pool. i think most of the time i was lucky to move any balls at all and sadly, i didn't make one into the pocket. sorry teammates! i warned you.

sunday, i worked in the infant nursery for the first time ever at church. i usually work in the pre-k room and ryan works in the infants, but there's a first time for everything. we have a ton of small kids in our church so it was fun to get to hang out with a different group for awhile. all the babies are adorable and definitely reminded me that i'm ready *well, as ready as i can be* to have one in our home soon!

after church, we headed to 41st street to work on the inner-city daycare. surprisingly, i really feel like we're beginning to make some progress and can really see a difference. the walls and ceiling are looking so much better, and we hope to have all the mudding and sanding finished up in the next couple of weeks. we still need to figure out what type of flooring to put in but once we complete that, we'll be ready to roll on the painting and far my favorite part!
here are some shots from yesterday's work:

linz and i after lots of sanding...we are HOT, well, a HOT MESS that is!!

the soon to be, beautiful office space and home to some great people!

ryan finally attempting to get something done. i think he mistakenly thinks he's a supervisor or something half the time :)

all in all, it was a great weekend! now back to another week in the real world...

Friday, October 2, 2009

this weekend's docket

what's on this weekend's docket?

-church camp out tonight (depending on the weather!). and can i just say that i haven't been camping since the summer before my senior year of high school? or maybe it was the summer after? i can't remember, but either way, it was a long time ago!! ryan and i were dating at the time and our church youth group took a trip to west virginia to white water raft and camp. i loved the white water rafting part, just not the whole sleep outside, hold your pee or you have to go in the grass part. much to the dismay of my dad and brother, who are super campers/hikers/kayakers/all around outdoors men, i would rather sleep in an rv or something. now that's camping! BUT, since this is a church function and my dear husband wants to go, i will oblige. plus, we are camping on someone's property here in town so it's not like we'll be lost in the woods and i can always walk to my car and drive to the nearest gas station if i need to pee. :)

-closing the green swamp tomorrow - aka: closing our pool for the winter. and yes, it is green now! we've kept up with it pretty well this summer (MUCH better than last summer) but it's still a pain. we hardly ever use it, maybe 6-10 times this summer and it's a lot of work and money for such a little return. it's above ground with a humungo deck around it so i'm not really sure how we can get rid of it, but i think we are going to next summer. it's just a pain unless someone is home to tend to it and use it frequently, which neither of us are. so, tomorrow in the brisk, fall kentucky weather, ryan will be taking a dip in the green swamp so we can get the steps out and get everything closed up properly. should be fun to watch! i told him we needed to close it about a month ago but he didn't listen...oh how i love to be right!! hopefully i can snap a few pictures for your viewing pleasure!

-working on an inner city daycare with our old small group on sunday afternoon. we started this project in the spring and didn't get to finish it up before our group got all switched around but we still want to see the project through. it's a day care center in a pretty rough neighborhood downtown. the daycare will be run through a ministry called here's life inner city, which is a branch of campus crusade for Christ. they are creating a free daycare for single parents who have no way to pay for childcare while they work. in exchange for the free daycare, the parents have to commit to coming to Bible study, parenting classes, etc. our group in particular is working on the room that will be the office for the daycare director and 2 other employees. we have been skim coating the walls and sanding, and will probably do more of that this weekend. when all is said and done, the office will have freshly skimmed and painted walls, new flooring, new desks and office chairs, a cute sitting area and hopefully some computers. it's been a fun project to work on so far and we can't wait to see how everything shapes up when we're finished.

so, what are you doing this weekend??