Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas wrap-up

we had a wonderful Christmas and i hope you did too! it was totally different than Christmases of the past, but i guess that's what happens when you have kids in the house. :)

i had Christmas eve day off while ryan worked a half day, so it was fun to be home with the boys for awhile by myself. i got the house cleaned up and in shape for guests, and had some time to do some last minute present wrapping for family members. later that day, we all got cleaned up and headed to Christmas eve church service with my parents, sister and family, and grandparents who were visiting from tennessee. since it was a special service, their church had no childcare so little P came to church with us. he did great in the service and at one point grunted/growled/screamed along with one of the carols we were singing. it was pretty cute and i think everyone around us was impressed with his musical prowess :)

after church, we headed over to ryan's stepdad's family Christmas party. this is by far one of the highlights of the Christmas season for us as we love getting to spend time with all the relatives and catching up. plus, there are a lot of other "kids" our age, most of whom are fellow UK grads so we have plenty to talk about! (*can anyone say, 14-0 baby?!? go cats!) here's this year's annual Christmas eve family picture:

we brought a pack-n-play for P, so we put him to sleep and stayed at the party until about 11:00 p.m., which is a super late night for us old folks!

after the party, we headed home and for the first time ever, ryan and i were up late that night helping "santa" get the rest of the boys' gifts wrapped. (*side bar - "santa" did not wrap in my house growing up, but ryan insisted that "santa" wrap for our children because he always did for him. to that i say - next year, "santa", you're on your own. if you want to wrap, go right ahead but i need my beauty sleep!!) we finally got into bed around 1:00 a.m., with all presents wrapped neatly under the tree.

the next morning, we got got P up first, changed his diaper and got him dressed for the day. then we went in and woke up R, so we could all go down as a family to see whether or not "santa" had come. i think R may be a little too old though to really appreciate ryan and i excitedly shaking him and saying, "santa came! santa came!" over and over again first thing in the morning.

the boys opened their gifts from "santa" and we let R open his big gift from us...the sony PSP. he was super excited about it! we enjoyed some time together as a family around the christmas tree for awhile but then had to pack up for the rest of the day's activities. we shuttled off to my parent's house for our annual christmas breakfasts (mmmm...i can smell the biscuits and gravy now!) and gift giving. unfortunately, i think P was overwhelmed with all the activity of the morning because he would not take a nap to save his life! instead, he grumpily joined us for all the morning's festivities.

we exchanged gifts with each other and the boys rushed outside to try out one of R's gifts...the rip stik:

(*note: this is not an actual photo of anyone in our family. their rip stik skills are not this advanced. that is all.)

after almost breaking their necks, the boys came back inside and somehow we began a large family game of rock band. i wish i could share the photos, but i think i would die of embarrassment! we rocked out for a really, REALLY long time but sadly, we had to head out and get on to our next christmas destination.

we headed back to our house to celebrate christmas with ryan's parents. for the first time ever, they joined us at our house and we had our traditional christmas brunch meal. *i don't think i've ever eaten that many orange sweet rolls in one sitting!* after brunch, we exchanged gifts with them and then spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies and just lounging around. it was fun to have them over and have nowhere to rush off to next so that we could just enjoy each other's company for awhile.

all and all, it was a busy christmas, but the best one i can remember!! seeing how welcoming both our families were of the boys, seeing R's excitement over gifts, and just getting some time to hang out with our families was more than i could have ever asked for!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

parents' visits with the boys

so as promised, i will now give you all a little update on where things sit with the boys, however, first let me issue a is most likely that along with this post, there will be quite a bit of whining/complaining. sorry in advanced for this, but sometimes a girl's got to vent!

well, as i've said before, the boys' case plan is set for them to be reunified with their parents, and nothing has changed with that. the first week of december, they began weekly supervised visits for an hour at a visitation center with their mom. also, two weeks ago, P began visits with his dad at the center for an hour on a different day. it's a lot of running around to do, but so far we are managing. i think once ryan begins traveling a lot more for work, we're going to feel the burden of all the back and forth a little more, which will kinda stink!

so, the visits have been alright. we have been less than impressed with the visitation center's staff though. on the boys' first visit, i asked the visit facilitator to make sure that P was fed both containers of his food around a certain time. when ryan brought the boys home that night, i noticed P was pretty fussy so i checked his bag. low and behold, he had not been fed as requested. more than frustrated, ryan called the visitation center to see what had happened. we unfortunately live about 40 minutes from the center, so since no one made us aware that P had not been fed as requested, he was more an hour and a half past when he was supposed to eat. the visit facilitator told ryan that she mentioned the food to the boys' mom but didn't remind her about it when the time came because she wanted to see if their mom would remember on her own or not. well, obviously she didn't! however, ryan and i were still a little frustrated that the facilitator couldn't have mentioned that to ryan when he picked the boys up so that ryan could have fed him before driving all the way home.

since the first visit, bio mom has only fed P one other time as requested. he also has not ever gotten a diaper change by mom or dad while at a visit at the center. dad has also not succeeded in feeding P. during dad's scheduled visit times, P is supposed to get solids and a bottle but has only gotten half of one or the other, never both. also, since beginning visits at the center, bio dad can no longer bring his mom along for visits so i think he's just generally lost on what to do with P. i decided to stop fixing the bottles before the visit myself so that bio mom and dad can learn to do it on their own, but i don't know if that's going so well. after P's visit with his dad, he came out with a half full bottle of ice cold formula. thankfully ryan noticed and was able to run it under some hot water so P would actually drink it on the ride home.

also, P's dad showed up to his first visit at the center 12 minutes late. now, if i only had an hour with my child once a week, i'm pretty sure i would do everything i could to be there for the full hour, but call me crazy!! however, the last 2 weeks, we have not had any visits at all with P's dad. on the 19th, he decided to not show up to the visit and didn't call either, so the center cancelled his future visits until he could call and explain why he missed. being the savvy internet stalker that i am, i checked P's dad's facebook wall (he doesn't have any privacy settings) and was able to find out that bio dad spent the weekend in another state visiting his new girlfriend. sure would have been nice to know that before ryan and P made the drive to the visitation center! as of yesterday though, we met with the boys'/their parents' worker, and she said that the reason bio dad didn't show up or call was because he was in jail. she said he went into jail that thursday (the 17th) for violating the no contact order with the boys' mom. i kept my mouth shut about the info i saw on facebook for the time being because the worker said she was going to double check the dates his was in jail to be sure. i would love to know if he was in jail, how he had such great access to the internet! i printed the screen on his facebook page, so i have some back-up for future reference. i did get a call today though that bio dad called the vistiation center today, so his visits are back on starting this saturday. we're hoping to get the visit day changed for the future so that our weekends don't have to be interrupted with drama...

the boys' mom did not have a visit with the boys last week either though because the visitation center is closed on Christmas and new year's eve. they said that she was one of the only parent who visits that day that didn't request for her visits to be rescheduled. when i told the boys' worker about that yesterday, she seemed a little annoyed that i didn't suggest to bio mom to ask the center to reschedule the visits for her. i guess i didn't realize that holding her hand through all of this is also my job...

well, that's it for now. that's everything (and more, i'm sure!) about what's going on with the boys' visits with their parents. as i mentioned, we had a visit yesterday with the boys' worker, so there's much more to share but i'll spare you for now! thanks for listening to me vent, but don't worry, there's more where that came from :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Y'all!!

MeRrY ChRiStMaS, friends!!
i hope you enjoy a wonderful day with your families celebrating the true meaning of today, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

"in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. he was with God in the beginning. through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. in him was life, and that life was the light of men. the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. he was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. he came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, became the right to become children of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
-John 1:1-5, 10-12, 15

here are 3 of our 4 previous Christmas cards:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmastime is here!

(our tree last year)

sorry for neglecting you, dear friends! i think this is the longest break i've taken from blogging in awhile but it was pretty needed. i guess i've been caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season so i haven't had much time to put my thoughts to paper *or print. i guess that's what this is??*. anyways, our family is intact and doing just fine. we've had quite a few new developments *nothing major though* in the boys' case over the last month. mostly, we've just had things happen that have frustrated the fire out of ryan and i, but i guess that's life in the foster care system! i will try to post separately about things going on with the boys but for now, i'll just update you all on our lives...

after a crazy kick off to the Christmas shopping season with a midnight to 4 a.m. trip to toys-r-us on the night of thanksgiving, i just finally finished all my shopping last saturday. i tried not to go overboard with the gifts for the boys but it was definitely harder than i thought!! baby P is getting mostly practical stuff - lots and lots of new clothes *he's already outgrown almost everything he has and really needs to be wearing 12 to 18 months*, a few toys, some new blankets, shoes, etc.

however, R is who i really had a hard time not overspending on! he's been asking for a PS3 *and so was ryan!* but we didn't think that would be a good idea since we most likely would not send it with him if/when he goes back with his mom. instead, we settled on getting him a PSP so he can have something to take along with him when we go to all his appointments, in the car, etc. plus, if/when he goes back to his mom, we'd be happy for him to take that with him. we also bought him a slew of clothes, dvds, tech decks, and some other small trinkets. we had also bought him a skateboard but decided to take it back because my sister got him a rip stick, which is similar. however, last week i decided to return the skateboard while the boys were at their visit with their mom, and on the way, i made the mistake of asking R if there was anything else he wanted for Christmas that he hadn't told me about. sure enough, there was something...he said that he'd really been wanting a remote control monster truck. i told him that i didn't think that would fit in what was left of his Christmas budget but we'd see. sure enough, after just going into the store to return the skateboard, i came out as the proud new owner of a large, red monster truck.

now that my shopping is finished, i still need to get a move on with my wrapping. i have wrapped almost everything for everyone not in our household but have wrapped hardly anything for the boys. i haven't had enough energy to stay up past both of their bedtimes and get much done, but hopefully tonight i will!

aside from shopping, ryan and i have also been busy with quite a few Christmas parties. on saturday, his company had their annual Christmas party at a museum here in town. since his company has a few employees outside of our city, they also booked a block of hotel rooms downtown at a reduced rate, so we took the opportunity to have a night away. ryan's parents were sweet enough to keep the boys and we had a great time just getting to catch up on us! it seems like i'm usually on baby duty and ryan is on the go with R, so we rarely get much time alone so it was a great treat! we haven't done Christmas gifts for each other for the past 2 years, so we considered out evening get-away our gift to each other this year. his company party was really nice, but it just reinforced my theory that djs should not be allowed at corporate events...especially not when there's an open bar! the evening's play list included - baby got back, peace up a-town, pour some sugar on me, the cha cha slide, and many more. i think i was more embarrassed for the drunk fools dancing around like crazy people than they were for themselves!! it definitely made for a comical evening!!!

also, last night we had our annual "a very GEE Christmas". *ok, i know that sounds a little off, but really it's not as bad as it sounds!* for some reason, in high school, my group of friends started calling ourselves "the gees" and the name has stuck. last night we gathered everyone and celebrated the birth of our Savior with great food, conversations and lots of laughs. it was so great to see everyone and to reconnect with old pals! it always amazes me that we can only get together once or twice a year, but still pick up exactly where we left off. i am truly blessed to have such great friends!

so, that's a bit about what we've been up to lately. we're really looking forward to sharing this Christmas with the boys and hope we can continue to reinforce to them that this season is more than just presents and parties (even though i realize that's all i've just talked about in this post!!). we've been reading The Glory of Christmas each night as a family and have had some great conversations with R about who Christ is and why He would come to earth as a baby and suffer for us. i hope the seeds being planted will one day be watered!! anyways, hope you have a great day and are able to enjoy the last few days before Christmas!