Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ch ch ch changes

i'm not going to lie, i've been hesitating to post this. in some ways i feel like if i post this, it will become real...like it isn't already. anyways, we really have no choice in the matter so i might as well put it all on the table:

we got word {via email, mind you} on friday, that the boys will most likely be returned to their mom's custody next thursday, october 7th. apparently, it is time for the case's APR hearing {annual permanency hearing} and at the hearing, the social workers will recommend immediate reunification. immediate, as in, right after the hearing. we've been instructed to bring both boys with us to court that morning, so it should be interesting. ryan and i have mixed emotions about this. however, there is still a chance that the judge will recommend something different or delay the reunification, but we're not holding our breath.

on one hand, this is kind of what we've asked for. ryan had a long discussion with the boys' social worker's supervisor last wednesday and basically just expressed his frustration over the lack of communication these last 11+ months. he told her that every time we were told something by their office, the exact opposite happened within a few weeks. we were told that they would not recommend unsupervised visits, then 3 weeks later when we were in court they recommended unsupervised visits. at our july home visit, we were told the boys' mom wasn't ready for overnight visits, yet at our august home visit they were scheduling them. there have been many instances of inconsistencies and poor communication, and ryan said that we were pretty much over it.

the straw that broke the camel's back was pretty much when the boys' mom showed up 15 minutes prior to R's surgery last wednesday unannounced. we had no clue if she had been granted permission to be there or not, but she swiftly informed us that 3 hours prior the social workers called her and told her she could come. the part that was really frustrating to us was that they never let us know, thus thrusting us into a super awkward situation with no heads up. {not to mention, that she invited various family members also to show up at the hospital, only to have to be turned away because they were not approved to be there!}

anyways, on that same phone call with the SW's supervisor, ryan said that it was not fair for the boys to continue to have to endure all the back and forth. i think it was particularly hard to watch R try to figure out who his "allegiance" {for lack of better word} was to at the hospital. he wasn't sure whether to ask us or his mom questions about what the doctors had told us, what he could eat, etc. also, both R and P's schedules have been completely interrupted and rocked by all the back and forth between our houses for visits. P comes back to us after 2 days of taking no naps and is completely sleep deprived. it takes us a good couple days to get him back into his routine, which is just about time for him to head back to his mom's. it's completely frustrating and unfair, and that's what ryan told the social workers.

so, i guess it truly is only a matter of time at this point. we haven't told R yet at the social worker's request. i'm sure his mom will tell him tomorrow when he goes for his overnight visits but i'm glad that he's getting a little heads up. we asked if we should begin packing up their belongings but were told to wait until after court. this is a really hard thing for me to even think about but we are trying to continue to walk through this season of our life trusting in the Lord's plan and timing. easier said than done though!!

if you think of it, please say a prayer for both our sweet boys. no matter what happens next thursday, it will not be easy on any of us. we want to send them home to their mom's knowing how deeply loved they are by not only us but by a Heavenly Father and a precious Savior. thanks!

Monday, September 27, 2010

weekend recap

sorry for the silence over the last couple of days but we've just been going about life as usual. since i haven't caught up on here in a few days, here's a little recap of the recent happenings in our corner of the world:

R is pretty much completely recovered from his surgery last wednesday. it went really great and he was out of the hospital the next day. i've still yet to bring myself to really look at his foot without the bandages, but ryan said that it looked like he'd been shot in the foot the day after surgery. eww. that was enough for me to pass on sneaking any peeks at it! he's on heavy antibiotics and goes back to the doctor tomorrow for another check up. we're praying the infection has healed and that he's cleared for normal activity again.

thursday afternoon through saturday evening, the boys went to their mom's house for 2 overnight visits. it was nice to get to spend some time with ryan alone at the house, but it was also a little too quiet. friday night we got to catch up with some sweet friends, craig and denise, and that was much needed! i was reminded how nice it is just to be able to laugh and share with people who we love and who love us as we are! friends are such a blessing from the Lord!

saturday morning, i had early morning coffee {except, that i don't drink coffee!} with another dear friend, cheryl {aka - cherelle} and then we headed to ryan's old high school for a pancake breakfast for the school's wrestling team. ryan used to wrestle so i'm pretty sure he likes to live vicariously through these type of events to still feel cool and in shape :) after the breakfast, we swung by mrs. lucille's {the widow from our both hands project} house and checked in with her. it was great to see her again and we hope to stay in close touch over the next several years! saturday night, we picked the boys back up from their moms, and ryan and R headed to a friends house to watch the wildcats get stomped by the gators :( it wasn't pretty! i stayed home with sweet P, and fell asleep early. it felt great to get some much needed extra zzzzz's!

on sunday, we headed off to church and then out to lunch with our long-time friends, lindsay and joseph. after lunch, we headed home so little P could catch up on his naps since he refuses to nap at church. while P was sleeping, we had an afternoon of "MNT" {that's sweeney speak for "mandatory nap time"}. it's funny because over the last few months, R has grown to love the concept of MNT and will frequently ask if it's time for MNT :) usually, R sleeps in his room, ryan sleeps on the couch, and i either sleep in our bed or end up laying lazily on our other couch and catching up on tv. oh how i love sunday afternoons! sunday evening, we headed over to my in-laws to celebrate my father-in-law, richard's, birthday. it was a great fall evening of grilling out, playing cornhole, eating ice cream and just spending time with family.

overall, it was a great weekend and i hope to have many more relaxing, fall weekends on the way!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

our both hands video

hey y'all. it's a lazy saturday here at our homestead so instead of having to put my brain to work to write a post, i thought i'd share our long-awaited both hands project video. {ok, i know it's probably not been long-awaited by you all but it was by me!} after a pretty steep learning curve, i finally figured out my beloved iMovie and was able to put something together. it's by no means perfection but i hope it gives you a little idea of the amazing day and experience we had with the project:

we actually went to visit our widow, mrs. lucille today and she is doing really well. her houses both look great and are still pretty clean. we really hope we can keep in touch with her over the years and that she will serve as another great-grandmother for our kiddo!!

hope you're having a great weekend and are able to relax with some football on tv like ryan and i are doing right now :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ok, so i'm at the hospital with R waiting for 12:15 p.m. to roll around, which is when he'll head to surgery. ryan headed out to the office for a bit this morning after staying the night here with R last night. it's quiet in the room. R's reading {only b/c he's grounded from tv, video games and all sorts of fun, AGAIN}, so i thought i'd blog a little bit. i still haven't uploaded any of our pictures from our weekend away but i'll hopefully do that soon.

anyways, it seems like when all is quiet, my mind always drifts away to ethiopia. i have been thinking all morning about our child, and wondering when our referral call will come. my dorky husband told our agency a few weeks ago that he was going to call every morning at 9:30 to check and see if that was the day we'd get THE CALL. thankfully, i don't think he's actually done that every day yet...but he did sneak my cell phone before heading to the office this morning and call. i pity our agency staff for having to deal with my crazy husband's nagging. i know he's probably learned from the best...ME :) {hey, i'm working on it though!}

today marks 3 months since our dossier arrived in ethiopia. we were told that the average wait time is 2 to 6 months so we've not been waiting an outrageous amount of time, especially compared to some of the larger agencies. BUT, i'm thinking that 3 months is long enough :) i don't know if you remember or not, but we actually waited 3.5 months before we accepted our first foster placement of R & P {and it was totally worth the wait!} so we're not rookies to this waiting game.

however, the longer we wait, the more fearful i am that we won't get to travel for our first trip this year. our prayer all along has been that we'd be able to make at least our first trip to ethiopia this year and then possibly travel to pick up our child in early 2011. we've been hoping and praying for this for a couple of reasons:

1} we just want our child HOME! we are ready to meet our child, get to know them and build our family. the thought of missing out on their developmental milestones and months of memories is hard.
2} on our first trip, we will attend court and, God willing, become our child's legal parents. we can't wait for this day and for the security of knowing that our child will finally be OUR child. i can't wait to monogram the snot out of everything remotely child-like that i own or buy :) i can't wait to proudly post pictures of our child on our blog! i can't wait to proudly declare to everyone i know that, yes i am officially a mom!!
3} passing court this year will make things a lot less complicated for our taxes. sounds stupid i know, but it's seriously a concern of ours. passing court this year means that our adoption expenses will not have to carry over for a 2 year period on our taxes, making things much less complicated for our simplistic minds.
4} have i mentioned that we just want to get our kiddo home?

so, why am i growing fearful about this not happening this year? do i have any actual facts or evidence to believe that we may have to take both trips next year? no, not really. i think i just read too many blogs and over-analyze things {is that a surprise to any of you who know me in "real" life?}... however, let me explain my perfectly unqualified opinion:

in case you're not familiar with ethiopian adoptions, ethiopian courts are closed for around 2 months every year during the rainy season. this year the court closure happened to fall from late july until september 27 {next monday!}. during the rainy season, no adoption cases are able to go in front of court so there is a build up of families waiting for court dates during late summer. also, agencies do not stop referring children during the rainy season so there are also newly matched families that need to be assigned court dates as well. hence, when court opens up again next monday, it seems like it will be an absolute free for all in order to get a court date assigned. with essentially only 3 months left in the year, i'm not sure if there are enough court dates to possibly accommodate every adoptive family that has been matched for a while or was recently matched...much less, those of us that have still yet to receive a referral.

ok, once again, let me just say that the above is completely my unqualified opinion. don't quote me on it : ) in fact, i'm praying sincerely that the above is absolutely untrue and there are plenty of court dates to go around for everyone, because i'm selfish nice like that. for now, we'll continue to wait, pray and trust in the Lords timing. a lot of things in my life are up in the air right now so i feel like God is definitely using this time to sanctify me and drawing me nearer to Himself. i don't know that i'm doing the best at taking His sanctification gracefully but i'm thankful that His mercies are new each morning, cause i need them!!

alright, R has turned his light off for a little nap so i'm going to take the opportunity to have a little nap myself! hope you have a wonderful day and get a chance for a nap yourself :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

yesterday & today

so i planned to blog about our wonderful weekend away yesterday but time got away from me. i'll try to do that tomorrow after i get some time to upload a few pictures. in the meantime though, i'll give you an update on all things yesterday and today...

ryan and i attended our very first foster care review board meeting. {i guess pretty much everything related to fostering is a first for us, but this was a very nerve-wracking first!} i can't give a whole lot of details about the meeting but i will just say that despite my anxiety and fear, ryan and i both left the meeting feeling very positive. the meeting was mostly nerve-wracking because it was a much smaller, more intimate setting than all the previous meetings we've attended for the boys' case. all parties involved {bio mom, social workers, and us} were interviewed interactively in front of everyone else. at the end, ryan and i asked to speak privately with the board for just a few thoughts that we didn't feel comfortable sharing in front of everyone else. i'm hoping this won't earn us any additional ugly looks from the boys' social worker but if it does, that's alright. we are just thankful for an opportunity to feel heard. i don't know that our input will necessarily change the outcome of anything, but it definitely felt good to know that we advocated for them as best as possible and put everything out on the table!

R has been in quite a bit of pain since we picked him up from his mom's on sunday evening. at the time, we thought he'd been bitten by a spider or something because he had a little pin hole that was raised on his foot. since then, his foot has continued to bother him and started swelling and getting really red last night. we took him to an immediate care center last night and they prescribed him some antibiotics, gave him a shot in the bottom, and sent him on his way. unfortunately, he woke up this morning and was in a lot more pain. part of his foot also started turning black and we could tell some of the infection was coming up to the surface.

we headed off to his regular pediatrician this afternoon, and she was very unhappy with the treatment and instructions given to us at the immediate care center! the immediate care doc told us to make sure to keep his foot elevated and to be applying constant heat. however, our pediatrician said that elevating the foot was fine but that we should have been applying ice rather than heat. she looked at the orders and paperwork given to us by the immediate care center and confirmed that we followed their directions, but i still feel awful that it could have potentially caused R to be in more pain than he had to be :(

after hanging out at the pediatricians for awhile {with a very cranky, tired, little P}, we were instructed to make our way down to the local children's hospital. our pediatrician didn't want to risk trying to drain R's foot in her office since the infection appeared to be spreading and a large abscess had appeared on his foot. R has recently had MRSA in his other foot so the doctors are assuming that's probably what is going on again. we've been at the children's hospital since about 4:30 p.m. today, and they just got us admitted to a room a little over an hour ago. they are going to pump him full of some pretty sweet antibiotics tonight and then take him back to the OR in the morning to have his foot drained. they will put him under anesthesia which makes me a little nervous, but all in all, the procedure should only last about 15 minutes.

R is in good spirits and is finally resting now. he was really excited when he found out that he'd not be going into surgery until morning so that he could eat dinner! sweet ryan went out and got his requested "last meal", complete with R's favorite banana chip ice cream so he ate like a champ. i'll update tomorrow when R's all done. we're hoping that if all goes well, he'll be out of here late tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

weekend getaway

we've been away for a much needed trip this weekend. can you guess where?

more details to come! it was a wonderful weekend but i'm glad to be home...nothing like my own bed :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

t-shirts galore!

hey, folks. i know i haven't been very bright and cheery lately. sorry! that's just the reality of what we're walking through right now. BUT, on a happier note, i would like to remind you that we still have many one less adoption t-shirts for sale!!

we got our second batch in a couple of weeks ago and i'd love to sell right through them so we can keep building up our bank account for our plane tickets to ethiopia :) we currently have sizes YS, YL, AS - A2XL. flights seem to be a little more expensive now than we were initially estimating so every little shirt helps!

check out the left sidebar for more info on how to order or shoot me an email at mrsleslisweeney{at}yahoo.com.

merci beaucoup!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

blessed be Your name

on sunday, we sang this song in church:

although i've sang that song for many years, in some way, i felt like i was hearing it for the first time. part of the lyrics say, "You give and take away. You give and take away. my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name". as i was singing that, i completely broke down. at the time, i began thinking about our child in ethiopia somewhere probably blissfully unaware that we are waiting and longing for him/her to be in our arms. i also began thinking about R, who was sitting right next to me, and little P, who was happily playing upstairs in the church nursery. we know that they will not be with us much longer, and it is hard to think about what our relationship may look like with them a year from now. He gives and takes away.

at that moment, i felt the reality of both the giving and the taking.

verb, gave, giv·en, giv·ing
–verb (used with object)to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation;bestow

*we experienced God's outpouring of provision, love and fellowship through our both hands work day last saturday. over 60 sweet friends, fellow church members, and family came to help us and our widow. at the end of the day, we were completely humbled by the service of those who love us and those we love. all in a days work for one widow and one orphan!

*we have seen money coming in for our adoption in unexplainable ways and the financial burdened is being lightened! 6 months ago, i sat on the couch and cried over what seemed like an unsurmountable number. we knew that we could not afford adoption on our own, but we also could not deny the ache in our souls that God placed for the orphans of this world waiting to be added to a family. today, the number in front of us is unbelievably reduced because of how God is using his people.

*we have recently heard that we have been matched with a child in ethiopia! while we still do not have an official referral yet {or know any details about our child} because of waiting on a little bit of paperwork for our referral group, it is supposed to happen sometime soon :) finally, our child, the one we've prayed for, cried over and waited for is almost real to us!! while God has known all along who He had identified for us, the official workings of this world are happening to make that a reality.

we know that none of these things have to do with ryan or i. these are all gifts from our merciful Father!! He has given us so much more than we need or deserve, and we praise His name for that.

verb, took, tak·en, tak·ing

–verb (used with object) to withdraw or remove

*while we knew all along the risks associated with "fostering to adopt", mentally evaluating the risks and actually living them out are very different. even walking alongside my sister and her family as they raised, loved and then lost baby sam after 10 months could not prepare ryan and i for the pain of what these last few weeks have been and what the next few months will bring.

*i honestly dread the day when the boys are gone and the house is quiet again. i'm not quite sure how i will walk by their bedrooms and not feel the sting of our loss. i told ryan that i feel like part of my identity will be temporarily lost when they leave. i will no longer be the mom running errands with the kids, buying school supplies and diapers, and making dinners for our family meals. it will be hard to just be back into the lives of a married couple with no children after almost a year of living otherwise. {this being said, i'm so thankful for God's prompting to begin our adoption when we did! i by no means what our ethiopian child to be a replacement for the boys, but i know how much i will miss just being a mom and i can't wait to experience that again and in a new way with our child.}

*we are trying to prepare ourselves both mentally and emotionally for monday's foster care review board. we have been told that we will be asked to evaluate the boys' care, case plan, etc. in front of all parties involved and that's a little scary. we want more than anything to be the best possible advocates for our boys.

*we do not want to lose the boys from our lives, but we also know that God's plans for the boys and for us will not be thwarted. we do not know how we will be able to continue to be in R and P's lives over the passing years, but we pray that our relationships with them would not diminish completely.

while all these circumstances are very painful, i can truly attest that He is walking us through this little by little and will give us the grace to say goodbye when the time comes. as much as it hurts, i look forward to the day when i can look back on the heartache and know how God has used it for His glory!

blessed be Your name, Lord!!
we want to be a family that praises you in the giving but also in the taking.

Monday, September 13, 2010

our both hands project!

i cannot even begin to tell you how awesome this weekend's project went! we were pretty nervous all week leading up to it because of the 70% chance for thunderstorms and we were also worried that we had forgotten to prepare for certain details, but thankfully it went off without a hitch!!

ryan and i both got up around 5:30 am on saturday morning, and headed down to mrs. lucille's {our widow} house around 7:00 am. as we were driving towards her house, the rain started coming down pretty good, but the closer we got to her house, the more it slowed down. we said one more last prayer in the car for the rain to be held back so we could work and we got started setting up. by around 7:30 am, my dad and mom were arriving with our pop-up tent/project headquarters. literally, as soon as they parked on the street, the clouds opened up and it began to pour! we all grabbed a poncho and i started to worry that our day was pretty much over before it started. however, around 8:00 a.m. when our team starting showing up, we were delighted that the rain had pretty much stopped. those of us who had gotten there early were wet, but everyone else missed the storm so it worked out nicely!

after gathering for some quick introductions, prayers, pictures and instructions from our fearless project foreman, dan, we were ready to get to work. here's the first group shots of the day:

both hands - one for the orphan & one for the widow!!

our goal for the day was to clean out as much of mrs. lucille's 2 homes as possible. since her husband died over 10 years ago, mrs. lucille began collecting lots of stuff in both the house she lives in and the house she owns next door. our biggest focus was to get the basement of her house next door cleaned out because it was full from floor to ceiling with boxes. we also wanted to get rid of a large pile of trash from the back yard, clean out the attic in the home she lives in, and clean out as much stuff from the other rooms as possible.

sweet mrs. lucille was pretty nervous about having a big group of strangers going through her belongings but she did pretty darn well all things considered. we were thankful that she had support in the way of family and friends to be with her along this journey. honestly, these pictures do not do the project justice! we had a lot of stuff standing in our way but our team was very determined, joyful and awesome to serve alongside. here are some shots of our stellar team in action:

after all was said and done, we ended up filling 7 dumpsters - 3 that were 30 yards, 3 that were 20 yards and 1 that was 25 yards!! now that's A LOT of stuff gone! throughout the day, we had around 60 volunteers stop by and help out mrs. lucille and bring us one step closer to our sweet baby :) here's a picture of our afternoon crew and some of the finished off dumpsters:

if you came out to help or have given financially to sponsor us or one of our team members, THANK YOU! you made a huge difference in the lives of 2 families.

if you'd like to still donate towards our both hands project/adoption fund, it's not too late! our matching grant through lifesong for orphans is open until october 8th. we are estimating that we need at least another $4000 to finish off our adoption so any amount of support is very much appreciated! you can give a tax-deductible donation by mailing a check to lifesong {info at the top right sidebar} or by donating online through lifesong's project website here {just scroll to our picture and use the donate button next to our project details!}

**sweet baby, we're coming for you! and hopefully sooner than later!! we can't wait to tell you all the tales of our awesome adventures to bring you home. you may not have grown in my body, but God sure is growing you in my heart!

**Lord, thank you for an awesome day, an awesome opportunity, and an awesome way to be your hands and feet to a widow in our community. You have once again far exceeded what we deserve or expect! blessed be Your name!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

both hands project day!

well, ready or not, today is our big day - our both hands project!! it's only 5:30 am but i'm already up and ready to go :) i can't wait to share pictures and tell more about the project when we're done. this has been such a long time in the making and we're really excited to be allowed the privilege to bless a very sweet and deserving widow, and to help fundraise to bring our baby home from ethiopia at the same time!!

plus, we cannot say enough about how awesome each of our volunteers and letter writing team members are! this is something i can't wait to tell our kiddo about one day :) so far, we're expecting around 50 to come out and work during various parts of the day... all because of a desire for pure religion (james 1:27).

so here goes nothing!! just please pray that God will hold back the rain!

Friday, September 10, 2010

case review coming up

{i could not sleep this morning so i decided to get up and blog. i doubt i'll finish this entry before little P is awake and ready for breakfast but here goes nothing!}

we got a notice in the mail yesterday for the final case review meeting on the boys' case. we had no idea that this was happening so soon, so to say i was a little caught off-guard is an understatement. i was on my way to take little P to the doctor because he woke up with his right eye all puffy, pink and swollen, but decided to swing home after work and change my clothes. {by the way, no pink eye for P, just a yucky sty!} i should have just avoided the mailbox but i wanted to see if we had gotten a notification on the last adoption grant application that we're waiting to hear back on. unfortunately, the only piece of mail in the box said "administration office of the courts" and i knew that couldn't be good!

i opened it and quickly learned that the boys' case will be reviewed on monday, september 20th. {only 11 days notice!!} from what i had been previously told, this review is basically the last formal step before the boys' mom goes back to court to regain custody of the boys. i was pretty miffed when i saw the letter because i had been corresponding with the boys' social worker for the last 2 days, and she neglected to mention anything to me about it. i wish we would have had some kind of heads up, but that's just another example of how overloaded our foster care system and workers can be. people get lost in the process, and that's a shame.

anyways, i still don't exactly understand what will take place at the review meeting, but i do know that we are allowed to submit a written statement/opinion to the review board prior to the meeting. apparently, this written statement will only be seen by the review board so they told us that we could openly critique social workers and give our honest opinion of how the case plan is going. finally, an opportunity to at least feel heard! after the review, the review board will submit their opinion based on what they've heard from us, bio parents, social workers, therapists, etc. and will make a recommendation to the judge. we are completely aware that short of a miracle, the review board will make a favorable recommendation for the boys to be returned to their mom. we have known for awhile that the social workers ultimately want to see that happen but we are still trying to prepare ourselves...

ryan and i discussed what we'd like to say in our written statement and have decided that we're not going to say one way or another about recommending the reunification of the boys and their mother. we don't want to sound like sour grapes about the situation by saying not to reunify the family, but we also don't want to put on paper that we are completely supportive of it because we still have many reservations. instead, i think the main part of our written statement will focus on trying to ensure that there are follow-ups and checks and balance in place to ensure the boys' future safety and well-being. if i'm being 100% honest, most of me still feels like the boys' mom is doing what she's supposed to be doing now because she has the social workers, mentors, domestic violence class trainers, etc breathing down her neck. however, i just wonder what is going to happen when all those people fade away, her case is closed, and no one is checking in on her again.

this is not going to be easy, but it's happening whether we like it or not. today, i'm choosing to take ryan's advice and not try to control things that i cannot control...which is basically EVERYTHING, right?. well not this: continuing to love the boys just the same every single day, hour, minute and second that we have left! while they may never be "ours", in some way, they will always be. if you think of it, please say a prayer for our boys. this transition will not be easy on anyone but i especially want to pray for their protection and salvation.

thanks for walking alongside us in this!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

our ceiling repair

remember the water leak i told you about happening in our ceiling right when i was headed to afghanistan? well, we're finally getting the ceilings repaired today!! woohoo :) i'm sick of staring at the gaping hole in our living room ceiling and guest room ceiling. thankfully, we found out that there was not an actual plumbing leak or anything, but the water was coming from major condensation build up from our air conditioner...

this was kind of funny to me for a few reasons:
1) i seriously hate being hot! i love myself some good ole AC and tend to keep the house a wee bit colder than every one else prefers :)
2) in case i haven't mentioned this before, we bought our house from my parents. it's the house i grew up in. this is funny because my dad owns a mechanical/electrical engineering firm and when the AC unit needed replacing a few years back, he thought, the bigger the better! when we bought the house, we inherited a mack daddy trane AC unit. music to this girls ears!!
3) when the AC people came to evaluate the leak, they determined that the space near the AC pipe/vent thingamabober was 20 degrees colder than it was supposed to be. they said this was a combination of us having the AC cranked up so much, having all the vents closed on the first floor {b/c the boys get cold and close them all} and the excessively large AC unit...a wonderful combination for a water disaster!

anyways, the good thing is that now we know what was causing the leak and can pretty much remedy it without any extra repair costs {praise the Lord}. i have been given a stern warning by my husband not to turn the AC on quite as high and that we must keep at least one vent on the first floor or basement open at all times. lesson learned!!

so, here's what the two areas are looking like now that our dry wall guy has cleaned them up before getting ready to hang the dry wall:

*the downstairs guest room ceiling/soffit {this was totally full of water, that all leaked on ryan's head and the carpet when he was trying to figure out what was going on!}:

*the gaping hole in the corner of the living room ceiling {this was also full of water...fun!}:

when i get home today, the holes will be nicely filled with dry wall and ready for painting shortly! i can't wait to reclaim our ceilings and move on with our lives. yippee to another house project completed :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

i have to confess...

...the hardest part for me personally about fostering is letting go. not just letting go of the boys, as i think anyone would expect that to be hard, but just letting go of control and surrendering the situation to God. i completely and utterly stink at this!

just when i feel like i'm getting to a place where i'm accepting the outcome of our time with the boys, something else hits me like a freight train and knocks me completely off balance. even small stuff! take last night for example: i went to bed in a pretty good place. ryan and i had a sweet time of prayer for the boys, for our waiting ethiopian child, for a few of our friends going through rough times, and for our marriage. we read the Word together, talked, prayed, and laughed. i fell asleep not only in the arms of my sweet husband but also in the arms of powerful, loving, kind, compassionate Father. however, by 5:45 this morning i was awakened and startled by a very bad dream. the details are pretty foggy at this point but i know that it involved the boys being harmed by their biological parents and it really rocked me to the core. i was shaky, sweaty and very fearful when i woke up.

mentally i completely understand that what i saw last night was just a dream, but it was still very disturbing! even knowing it was a dream, i still have spent the last several hours obsessing over a lingering and gloomy feeling about the situation with the boys. i kissed P a few extra times this morning and tried to pray for my mind and spirit to relax, however the obsession was still gripping me late in the day. i am worried {which is not unusual for me} but i find myself overly worried today. just this one dream has put me in a tailspin of worry for the boys, doubting in God's sovereignty, paranoia about birth-parents, and just generally being upset. all because of a stupid dream!! weird, i know, but i think this once again highlights how quickly i am to try to handle things on my own and in my own way {which i wish i'd learn by now that it never gets me any where!}.

real talk...after praying about my fears and worry, i still decided to try to take matters into my own hands today. convinced that i am going to be some type of super spy or detective, i armed myself with the best tool in online stalking - f@cebook. truth be told, i probably check the boys' parents out at least on a weekly basis using fb, but today was different. i was extra hyped up and just sure that i would find something completely incriminating. no such luck {i guess luck is probably not the right word??} though.

the only thing i found was a picture of little mr. P at his mom's house with a curious male in the side of the picture - no face visible but i could see his tattoos on his arms and legs. instead of passing over the picture like a normal person, i seriously tried to zoom the picture to see if i could get any identifying information from the tattoos, but i once again came up empty handed. however, not stopping there, i decided to save the picture to my computer, just in case. i thought for sure that it might come in handy for a later court date or home visit. finally, as my last measure of insanity, i emailed the picture to ryan to ask if he thought the unidentified, headless stranger looked like someone he's met that's not supposed to be around the boys. i thought for sure that i had just caught the boys' mom red-handed and that we'd be able to turn the picture in to their SW, and be able to keep the boys forever and ever amen. {seriously, am i crazy or what?!?}

instead of getting the confirmation email i was waiting on from ryan, i got the following response:
"No I don’t recognize him. The best thing that we can do is worry about the things we can control and let the things that we can’t control fall where they may. I will be praying for you today that God protects you from Satan attacking you this way, which I think we would both agree is where you are probably most vulnerable right now. I know this is tough to think about but **birthmom is not in control, **SW is not in control, BUT God is in control of it all. (Not just some of it or most of it - ALL of it.) And His sovereign plans will not be thwarted. I love you and appreciate all of what you do and how much you care for everything."

what a punch in the gut!! no, my dear ryan did not recognize the mystery man in the picture, and, to top it off, he totally put me in my place! rightfully so. i broke down crying when i read his response, and began asking myself why i always think i can do things in my own strength.

today was a frustrating reminder that i am a total work in progress and that i need to continually be reminded to trust in the Lord with all my heart and to lean not into my own understanding {prov. 3:5}. He holds not only the plans for my life, but the plans for the boys and everyone else, and nothing i find on f@cebook is going to change that!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

happenings with R & P

these days the boys are still keeping us quite busy! no news to report on their case plan...just the same as a few weeks ago at the home visit - they are currently doing overnights {for around 26 hours) one night a week and still have another 4 hour unsupervised visit. so far things are going alright. it's been hard on both kids in different ways but we're just trying to pray our way through things and trust in the Lord's ultimate plan for their lives...many tears have still be shed on my part though!! :(

as far as regular life stuff, R has started back to school and has joined the ranks of 7th grade this year. so far he really seems to like it and we're hoping for some good marks on his first progress report next week. this is the first year he has actually been enrolled at the same school for 2 consecutive years, so he was really pumped to go back to school and actually know people. he said that not having to start over with making friends again has been the best part of 7th grade so far {melt my heart!}. he also has 3 of the same teachers as last year so i think he's a little more prepared and knows what is expected of him in the classroom, which should help with his confidence and performance. we talked with his mom last weekend about where he'll attend school once the boys go back to her. we are so thankful that she's said that she'd keep him where he is now. we've been trying to reinforce the importance of this continuity for his education and socialization, and i think she's finally on board. we even offered to help her with the transfer paperwork and arranging a bus stop since the school won't actually be his assigned school when he lives with her. she was friendly about it and seem to mean what she said, so we're praying that's true in a few months.

here's a picture of R from the day i got back from afghanistan. he was proudly wearing his hat and scarf i got him there {and making silly faces!}:

little P is seriously not so little any more! i don't know if i just lost some muscle tone in my arm while i was in afghanistan or what, but i can hardly hold him any more without my arm killing me. he turned 16 months old yesterday, which just seems crazy! i told ryan a couple nights ago that i can hardly remember the days of washing bottles, late night feedings and little onesies. it kinda makes me sad, but also just makes me appreciate this fun stage in his life. i like sippy cups a lot better than bottles any way :) he is also talking up a storm lately. some of his favorite new words are - "wywy" {ryry, aka - ryan} , "caw" {car}, "ball ball" {for pretty much anything that is round}, "td" {aka - tv, which mind you, we do not let him watch!! he learned this from his dear nana - my mom}, "no", "gwasses" {glasses - he just got a new pair of sunglasses that he loves}, "choo choo", and last but definitely not least - "baf" {bath! - his favorite time of the day!}.

here's a picture of P boy from the state fair last weekend. him and "wywy" were very excited to check out the birds and farm animals:

overall, life with the boys just continues to go on as normal until someone tells us otherwise! however, since we know that the end is drawing closer, we are definitely squeezing them tighter at night and appreciating every kiss, smile and even sarcastic comment from the tall one more each day :)

BH project update

we're getting close to our both hands project date and i'm getting a little nervous about all the details coming together! we were hoping to meet with our widow one more time this weekend to go over last minute details, but she's planning to be gone to a family reunion. so, we're going into this work day with a few remaining questions and are just praying that everything works out. just to give a little background, our widow's husband passed away 10 years ago from throat cancer. she still lives in the home they shared and also owns another house on the same property. over the last 10 years she has collected quite a bit of stuff and has had a hard time managing everything. the goal of our work day is going to be to help her get the majority of the home she's living in clean out and cleaned up. we were hoping to have time to paint and spruce up too, but i think that might be a little overzealous.

the big things were waiting on right now involves hearing back from some local retailers on donations for the project. we have been corresponding with quite a few businesses about donating supplies - work gloves, respirator masks, rakes, shovels, cleaning supplies, etc. but so far, we're still waiting on commitments. we're also still waiting to hear back from a dumpster company on the possibility of getting two 30 yard dumpsters donated for the clean up. these babies are expensive!! {about $400/week/dumpster} so we're still hoping and praying the company comes through with a major discount or donation on these.

anyways, as the project draws near, my anxiety is going up! we really want this day to be a true blessing to our widow and also the beginning of a wonderful relationship with her and her family. we hope that once our kiddo comes home, we'll be able to visit with her pretty regularly and have another grandma figure for our child to look up to.

here is a video of a recent project that was conducted in tennessee:

if you think of it, we so covet your prayers for a successful work day and an opportunity to bless a very deserving widow!