Monday, November 30, 2009

turkey day wrap up

we had a great thanksgiving!! we ate lots and lots of food, shed some tears as always during the "i'm thankful for...", had lots of laughs and just enjoyed spending time together. however, i think one of my favorite memories from this year is from wednesday night. R was grounded from tv, video games, computer (*yes, again.) so he was allowed to read, lounge around or hang out with me in the kitchen. surprisingly, he chose to hang out with me!! i was busy making 2 pumpkin turtle pies, 2 green bean casseroles, and 2 corn puddings. with 3 thanksgiving dinners ahead of us, we had lots we needed to contribute. so, i tasked R with helping me dump in the ingredients, stir things, open cans, etc. and we both had a great time!! we were very busy laughing and making a mess, all while torturing ryan with the blaring Christmas music from my iphone. it was great!

we also had lots of fun introducing the boys to all the new faces of our extended families during the festivities. P was eating up all the attention and being his usual adorable self. he even christened a few family members with some of his acid reflux action and they still loved him! R made some new friends with some of the other kids around his age too. it was really exciting to see them fit right in with everyone, and to not have to worry about Christmas being ackward for anyone! R said that he was thankful for being able to meet so many new people.

anyways, it was a great holiday weekend and i will cherish these memories for a long time! now, it's officially Christmastime :) WOOHOO!! we've started to get the tree up but probably won't get it finished until later in the week, but i can't wait. Christmas with kids is the best!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


so the bug got us...the stomach bug that is! my nieces and sister had it last week, my dad and ryan got it on saturday, and i got it on sunday night and monday. i'm feeling more like myself today finally though! still a little queasy from time to time and a little scared to eat much, which really stinks considering that thanksgiving is TOMORROW! i can't believe its here already...

this year we have so much to be thankful for!! i remember hoping last year that we would have a kiddo through foster-to-adopt or be on our way to starting a family the old fashion way by this thanksgiving. and it looks like those hopes have come true! while we may not be R & P's permanent family, we do have the opportunity to share our family with them as long as we can. i am looking forward to showing them how we do thanksgiving...they should be in for a fun ride! we usually have 4 houses to go to - my parents', ryan's mom & stepdad's, ryan's dad's extended family, and ryan's stepdad's extended's a very busy time of the year! this year, we not going to ryan's dad's family since that would be way too much on the boys (and us!).

so, here are just a few of the many things i'm thankful for this year:
*ryan - 'nough said. he's more than a great husband, best friend, dad, etc. i love his eternal perspective and watching him be a role model for our boys. he keeps me sane, grounded and centered, and always points me back to Christ when i get off track. i could go on all day about him, but i'll spare you the mushy details :)
*R - it brings me a new kind of joy to see him feel settled, comfortable and safe in our home. his laugh brightens my day and i love it when we can be goofy with each other. i love seeing him open up and fall into place with our family and routine. i am grateful for the alone time we spend driving from place to place because it gives us time to chat and sing country music together!
*P - i will always cherish our mornings together before i go to work, especially seeing his big smile when i get him out of his crib. i love being able to take care of him, make him laugh, and hear him babble like we're really having a conversation.
*our families - we have such a strong network of love and support. i have never wondered where either of our families stood on us being foster parents (*or anything else in life!!) - they have openly supported us and voiced any concerns they have. they are the first people we call when we need prayer, ideas, advice, etc. we're obviously new to this parenting gig but the support we get from our families is uncanny. we could not do this without them!! they also love us for who we are, no strings attached.
*my sister - our relationship has grown so much over the years...she's no longer my bigger, annoying sister who wouldn't give me the time of day. she's now one of my best friends despite our shortcomings and disagreements from time to time. i can depend on her and tell her anything. i am also so thankful that her biopsy for thyroid cancer came back negative.
*ryan's new job - thinking about past christmases and how much time i spent without him, i'm so grateful for ryan's new job. despite a struggling economy, God provided the right position for him at the right time. we now can spend time together on the weekends, travel and do many more things that we could not do in the past. the job is also providing for us to live comfortably but not so much so that we can lose sight of Who is really providing for us.
*my job - i'm so thankful that i work for an understanding boss who allows me the flexibility required to also be a foster parent. there have been countless appointments, meetings, etc. that i have caused me to leave work early or get to work late. through it all, my boss has been so flexible even though he does not have to be.
*our church - we floundered for the first 2 years of our marriage without a church to call home. it was miserable. we both grew up in church (*the same church, actually) and so desired to find a church home, but never found anywhere until we started attending fellowship. we know the church, our friends, the preaching, the Bible studies, etc. are true blessings from God for us and many others. it is so much more than just a bunch of people meeting for social reasons. the depth of preaching is challenging and renewing spiritually. we are so grateful for those from the church who have and are pouring into our lives.
*our social workers - we know many others in the foster care system that have less than helpful social workers, so we have been truly blessed. both our worker and the boys' worker seem to care about the boys and have been pretty helpful and available so far. while i know we're still just in the very beginning of this process and may feel differently later, i'm grateful for them right now.

there are so many more things, but i don't have time to go on forever. basically, i know that i am really blessed, and more importantly, that all these blessings come from God! i am most thankful that God has control of my life and has a plan for me. i cannot even verbalize how many time the Lord's provisions have been more than enough. He is such a good God and i'm so thankful that He loves me despite my imperfections, shortcomings, and mistakes. while i know i am not perfect, He is and His love is sufficient for me.

i hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving with your family and friends!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

i can't believe today's friday already!! i was hoping to update a lot more this week, but it just never happened. so, i'll give you some updates on our life lately...

R has been doing well in school and at home...well, except for that *minor 3 day suspension last thursday through this monday that he got for fighting in school. (*sarcasm implied) when we asked him about the fight, he admitted that he started "messing with the kid" because he annoys him every day between classes. thankfully, R didn't really put a serious beat down on him or anything (although he probably could have because of his size), but started with hitting him with a rubber band and then it escalated from there. we were NOT HAPPY either way! after a long discussion, we decided that R would not be allowed to play in his basketball game on monday and he lost his fun privileges around the house and outside of the house for awhile too. i think he was shocked to actually have consequences, but he was respectful of our rules this week. aside from that, he's been pretty content and chatty all week. i can tell that's he getting more and more comfortable in our home, and i love to see that. he now refers to our house as "home" and his room as "my room", and i'm thankful for that. we keep telling him that as long as him and P are with us, we're family and our home is his home, and i'm glad to see that sinking in a bit.

last saturday ryan took R to get glasses and a hair cut, and really looks cute! i told him that the only fighting that might be going on in our family in the future is us fighting the girls off him ;) R has been asking about seeing his middle brother, C, for his birthday for awhile, so on sunday we met C and their aunt and uncle at a local go-kart place to hang out. we ended up staying for 3 hours and the boys had a great time and their aunt talked my ear off! she told me quite a bit of stuff that i wish i didn't know but it was good to get a larger perspective on the situation. you can tell that she knows her sister well, and sadly, she doesn't seem very confident in her chances of truly getting it together...

this week, we also had a lot of other appointments for R. we got him started with his therapy, and i was really pleased with what i saw of his therapist, even on the first visit. i have a follow up appointment scheduled with the therapist in a few weeks so that we can discuss specific issues we're seeing in our house and start devising a plan of action for R. we also went to the dentist and didn't have such a good time there. he's got some major dental issues, including 4 cavities, 1 root canal and crown that need re-doing, 1 baby tooth that's wedged between 2 permanent teeth that has to be removed, and a need for braces. sooooo, looks like we'll be seeing a lot more of the dentist in the next few weeks!! we also went for our orientation at the visitation center this week, which is where we'll be taking the boys to visit with their mom and P's dad. the place was nice and the staff was friendly, but i'm really not looking forward to upcoming visits there! something about dropping the boys off to strangers and not knowing what's going on at visits, makes my anxiety peak. it's uncomfortable enough already to take them for visits with the social workers that we know supervising, but the visitation center just seems a little scary...and i don't even have to go to the visits! i just wonder how R is really handling all of this. either he's a much tougher cookie than me or he's really good at hiding his feelings...

P is getting big and is a very active little fellow!! his love for his jumperoo seems to be ending, as all he wants to do now is army crawl around the floor. if you give him some toys on the floor, he's content to play all by himself for a long time. i think his little chunky self will most likely begin to thin out now that he can really get up and go. with all his new activity, we decided that it was time to lower his crib to the lowest setting. we were worried that he'd be able to pull himself up and over the side of his crib, so we're not risking it, even if it's a little premature. he's also has another tooth that has broken through, next to his first. i can't wait until he starts cheesing and we can see those little teeth!! (*i soooooo wish i could post some of our adorable pictures of him and R, but maybe one day!)

anyways, well that's all i've got to report for now! next week will be busy as usual but we shouldn't have all the crazy appointments. the only thing on the schedule so far is the boys' mom's first visit in over 4 weeks. we'll be meeting at a mcdonalds one last time and then begin the following week at the visitation center.

hope you have a great weekend, and enjoy some time with your family!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

fostering is hard.

i have not felt up to blogging much lately. we are so busy all the time that it's hard to take a break and have a few moments to myself, but when i do, i mostly want to read other people's blogs, surf the web, or just lay on the couch :) also, i think i'm a little fearful to document too much of this process for fear that things will change dramatically and i'll be left having to pick up the pieces of my heart and write about it at the same time. but, for the sake of honesty, i will say that fostering is hard!!! much harder than i thought! giving everything you have - time, energy, resources, and most importantly, LOVE, to kiddos who may never remember you or may grow to resent you, really sucks sometimes. i want to think that the things that we're doing for these boys will have an impact on their lives and for their eternity, but you just never know. it's the selfish side of my heart that makes this process so hard. i want to think that we will get to see these boys grow up to be strong men who love the Lord and who love us, but again, you just never know. God could have something totally different in store for their lives, and we have to accept that blindly.

it's also hard to think about what the outcome of everything may be. if i would let myself, i could probably run through a million different scenarios of how this placement will end, but for my sanity, i do not. i try to focus on the facts, and the things i know to be true about their case...things like, their worker said that this is not a concurrent placement, but just a foster placement...things like, R loves and misses his mom even though he's had to live through a lot of her mistakes...things like, P will probably not remember these several months of his life with us but we're still giving him a great foundation...things like, they have a whole extended family out there that loves them best as they can and that wants to see them succeed.

i'm not sure how anyone could really just be in fostering "for the money" as you hear people say so often. the money isn't sufficient enough to care for these kids' basic needs, much yet cover the emotional rollercoaster that we are all going through. if it were not for the love of our sweet Savior, we truly could not do this...not now, not ever. there is no amount of money in the world that would motivate us to take this journey - only the knowledge that God loves us so much more than we can imagine and that He is so worth showing love to others. He is the example we can only hope to strive for. we just hope that R and P will one day understand His love in a personal way, and that we could possibly share in a little of that joy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

pictures of a place i love

i just want to share with you all some pictures of afghanistan posted by the denver post. these pictures are mostly from the perspective of the US military, as they were taken by david guttenfelder - a photojournalist embedded with troops in afghanistan but they give a good overall picture of life in afghanistan now.

go here to check them out. *also, for those news junkies like me, you may recognize one of david's's of a solider taking shots while wearing his pink "i love new york" boxers after having to rush to his position from his sleep.*

many of the pictures capture how destitute the situation really is in afghanistan. there are many pictures that gripped my heart...particularly the one of the children playing in the prison courtyard and the one of the Afghan refugee drug addicts. although i know its hard sometimes to connect with a picture, please remember that these aren't just images, but are actually real people with real needs. they deserve better than the lives they are living and i hope our country continues to see that they get better. please remember the afghan people as you pray. we face many troubles and hardships in america but many of them are nothing compared to the daily lives of afghans.

if you are interested in learning more about how to help the people of afghanistan in an easily quantifiable way, please consider giving to sozo international. you can give one time gifts, including food for a refugee family for $100, medicines for one of the 4 sozo clinics around the kabul area for $50, or school supplies for street children for $25. you could also consider giving an alternative gift this christmas. for $25, you can purchase an ornament made by a widow in a refugee community called barek aub. the $25 donation goes to continue funding the important work of sozo international in afghanistan, while also employing a widow and helping her feed her family.

Friday, November 6, 2009

all about baby P...

baby P is an absolute joy to have in our home. he's a plump little fellow who already has everyone in our family eating out of the palm of his hand. he's generally super smiley, but also tends to look very pensive when he's sleepy. when i first picked the boys up, all he came with was a dirty bottle, the clothes on his back, a few diapers, a more than half empty can of formula and a box of rice cereal. i was told his first name, that he had really bad acid reflux and that he was used to sleeping in bed with mom...that was it. so, everyday since then has been an adventure in babies 101 for ryan and i. however, even though we really had no clue how to care for a 5 month old baby going into this, we knew immediately that this little guy was probably going to be the easier of the two boys to care for!

he absolutely loves this "galloping fun jumperoo" and is content to play in it for hours. it has really been a lifesaver over the first few weeks! i so wish i could post some of the countless adorable pictures and videos of him riding into town on his horsey :)

the first few nights we had him, he slept pretty restlessly but we only had to actually get up and feed him once in the night, around 5:30 a.m. after a few days of adjusting though, he's now on a pretty solid schedule in which he easily sleeps from around 8:00 or 8:15 at night until 7:30ish in the morning. ryan and i have thanked God for this little blessing many, many times! *especially last week after the time change and him cutting his first tooth rocked our world (and our schedule!). you can now officially see and feel his first tooth coming in! he's no longer a little blond hair, blue eyed, toothless wonder...he's still all those, except toothless :)

i took P to the pediatrician last week for my first official duty as a mommy with a baby. it felt pretty weird, but maybe because it was surprisingly normal. as requested by his SW, we kept P with the same pediatrician, which, while it is completely inconvenient and kinda annoying, it was nice to get an update on his progress compared to previous check-ups. he had to get 4 vaccinations, which neither he or i were really a fan of! now i know what my mom meant when i was a kid getting shots when she said that it hurt her more than me. P is in the 90th percentile for both height and weight. at 6 months and 1 day old, he weighed in at 19.5 lbs!! the pediatrician also said that he has grown 2 inches since his 4 month check-up. i think he's going to be tall like his brother R!

speaking of R, the boys are very close and P craves time and attention from R. P will start laughing at the drop of the hat if R is giving him some love. we will be driving in the car and P will be fussing a little, and as soon as R gives him some attention, P's whole disposition will change and he will be his laughing/smiley self again! it's the precious moments like these that make it so hard for me to imagine the possibility of the boys ever being split up. (their SW told me last week that this is a definite possibility if P's dad gets his act together before their mom. P will go to live with his dad and R will stay in foster care until/if their mom gets things together. i pray this does not happen!!!)

overall, we've been managing pretty well with baby P. he's a great baby and exactly what we would hope for someday when we can adopt or give birth to a child. both boys are definitely growing on us and we're glad to have them (for however long!).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the skinny on R

so since there's just a whole lot of craziness going on in our lives right now, i thought i'd give a little breakdown about each of the boys and how things are going. however, i've got about 3 weeks worth of stuff to unload, so i'll just update you one boy at a time.

*first things's the skinny on R:
R is doing well in our home and seems to be adjusting alright. i know he is still pretty homesick (even though he'd never admit it!) and often mentions his mom or middle brother, C, who lives with his aunt. we try to encourage him to talk about them as often as he likes and also try to keep an upbeat attitude about their future together. C is having his 12th birthday next week and R has asked if it will be possible for him to see him or celebrate with him. when he asked, i told him that we would check with his worker and see what we can work out, but it's probably unlikely. C lives over an hour from us, so if anything, we may be able to set-up some type of supervised visit here for the boys to get together, but i'm not sure.

R has only talked with his mom 1 time since she went into rehab early last week. she couldn't take her cell phone with her (*no real surprise there), so she has been calling him intermittently when she can but they hadn't been able to connect until this sunday afternoon. they didn't talk about much but she did tell him that rehab was going alright and managed to promise him to try to be at his first b-ball game monday night, only to not show up (*also, no surprise there!) it breaks my heart to think that he kinda got his hopes up that she might show, even though it was never really even a possibility. while i want her to get healthy and to improve herself so she can give these boys the home and family they deserve, empty promises this soon into the game make me more than a little frustrated!

while we have had a few small issues with R in our home so far, mainly telling "white lies" and disobedience, R seems to like living with us and is respectful of ryan and i. we had a family meeting early on and laid out the rules and expectations of our household, and he seems to be following most of them pretty well. however, the lack of training as far as manners is pretty obvious. i can't tell you how many doors i've had slam in my face over the last 3 weeks (while holding baby p's heavy car seat, none the less) but we're working on it! we've still got a long way to go on many of these issues but each day we're seeing some type of improvement. his grades in school have been less than stellar so far this year, but after meeting with his teachers and stressing to him the importance of homework, we have seen some improvements already. today is the last day of his 2nd term for the school year and he has already brought all of his grades up at least one letter grade since we got him on the 16th. hopefully, with a clean slate for grades beginning next week, he will have all A's and B's soon, because he's definitely smart enough!

R is playing on his school's 6th grade b-ball team, and ryan has been helping coach. it's a great way for them to spend some quality time together and for R to see that we really care about him and are interested in what he has going on in life. his team won their first game monday night by 20 points, and it was awesome to see him excited about the win!! it was also funny to see him - at 5'11" tall, playing with and against other 6th grade boys...most of whom were probably under 5' tall! he loves playing board games and card games too, so we have spent many hours around the coffee table playing phase 10 or uno. he also loves video games (*what teenage boy doesn't?) but we're trying to limit his time playing those...even though i'm sure ryan doesn't mind finally having a video game partner now!

the hardest part of having the boys in our home, and specifically R, is just making all of our schedules coincide. R has lots of required appointments - some of which are weekly, so i am so thankful for our great family support and a flexible job. i seriously don't think we could do this without those 2 things!! also, prayer has been HUGE for us. there have been many nights that both ryan and i have felt discouraged and defeated, but the Lord is so good and He has been so gracious to us! while this is definitely not how ryan and i thought our first foster-to-adopt placement would look, we both know that the boys are with us for a reason and we are trying to be faithful to our calling. we want these boys to know what unconditional love feels like, and we want them to know the One who can love them more than any one else possibly can!

well, that's all the update i have to give for now! however, i will leave you with a verse that is ringing particularly true for me right now and i hope it encourages you today!:
*"many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." -proverbs 19:21