Tuesday, August 18, 2015

make memories, quick!

i hate to say it, but summer's almost over. 
it's true.
insert weeping and gnashing of teeth.
and a little bit of excitement that in the near future, i'll probably be able to drink a fancy coffee by myself in silence and it will be a beautiful moment of joy and jubilee.

it's at this point every summer that i look back and think, 
"what did we do all summer and where has it gone?"
"did i seize the day enough?!"
"we should do some more fun stuff real quick!"
and then i yell,
"hurry up and get to the car, kids, we're gonna make a happy summer memory and you better like it!"


this summer was a hard one for us.
the hardest.
our little miss went back to bio family. 
so most of the first month of summer was spent attending court dates, talking to lawyers, worrying about the future, and then preparing for her to leave. 
i feel like i should probably post more about her and the loss and such but all my thoughts are half-formed and most are pretty selfish. 
we love her.
we wish she was here.


the rest of the summer was, i'm not gonna lie, spent trying to keep busy enough not to sit in a dark room with sad music playing while i curled up in the fetal position. 

we took a trip up to my hometown, visited my husband's family, went to a skate park with old friends, hung out at our neighborhood pool, did fireworks, played with worms, went to jujitsu, babysat, read books to earn legos (bribing is the new thing), bought a bike for myself and rode with the kids to the pool, and ate out too much. 

this past weekend, the hubs took care of the kids and i headed up to east texas for a baby shower for a dear sister-in-law (i have lots and they're all pretty dear.)
it was lovely and girly and a wonderful getaway.
my sister housed my mother in law and me and we ate brownies and slept in and chatted on the front porch in the morning breeze with frapuccinos in jars and it was beautiful.

i could spend days and days sitting on porches and reading and chatting. 
glorious.



now we have started getting up early to practice getting our rears in gear for school.
and by 8am, the boys look at me like, "why did we rush to sit here? gee, thanks, mom. this is stellar."
my kids' glances are super sarcastic. 
i have absolutely no idea where they get that from.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

prepping


just fyi, the pictures in this post are not current. but i found them looking through old stuff and thought, "dang, my kids are cute," and then proceeded to let you see just how cute they are. 

we have been gearing up for school.
shoes bought.
backpacks purchased.
supplies being mailed to their school 
(ps: who in the world thought of this idea and can i buy them an ice cream sundae!? for reals!)


life is chirping along.

we are doing some fun last minute activities before the daily grind starts back, 
like going to the skate park and doing hard core stunts. 


going through the boys' clothes to check out what fits takes a whole day.
it's ridiculous.
and i'm always overwhelmed by it.
and they don't even have as many clothes as normal american children. 
you'd think by now i'd have a system that would knock my socks off but alas, it hasn't happened yet.
so my new idea is to split them up into shifts. 
two kids in the morning, two kids in the afternoon. 
and maybe i won't want to burn a big pile of clothes by 3pm.


we are praying for the upcoming school year.
one of the boys had a really hard 2nd grade year and now it's time for another to take their turn. 
so we are praying it goes more smoothly this time around.
and we are praying that God would pair up our children with teachers who care and invest in the lives of the kiddos in their classes.
for the boys so far, there were some fantastic teachers and some that were a bit lacking.
we have loved getting to partner with awesome teachers to help our kids succeed. 
before we moved to this town, a neighbor friend of mine said that before school starts they have a fancy dinner. they pray together and eat on good china and make it a fun deal. i have since stolen her great idea and we usually do something sort of like that.
i love it because it starts the school year out with our focus on Christ in a fun and kind of fancy way.


our youngest starts full time kindergarten so that will mean that i will do life differently during the day. 
i'm looking forward to this new season and hopeful about the opportunities i'll have to try out some new things. 


as the heat of the summer climbs higher and higher,  school prep has begun, and we are still dealing with the loss of our little miss, i'm trying to find things to look forward to and here's what i've got so far:

cooler weather (Lord, may it be!)
 state fair of texas (coming soon! wahoo fried foods)
the smell of school supplies (a bouquet of sharpened pencils, anyone?)
more structure (we have really let it hang loose around here this summer)
yard work (i know it's weird, but we are really behind on it and our yard looks like an enchanted forest and not the good kind. --more like an evil kind where skunks wait to assault you and squirrels eat your cats.)

are you ready for school?
want to come clean my house for me and go through my children's clothes with them?
help a sista out. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

getting away


i think sometimes the reason i don't blog is because i put pressure on myself to have something to say.
and it takes awhile. 
so i'm trying something different.
i'm going to try to get this post done in less than fifteen minutes.
bam.


after losing little miss, i let the hubs know i needed to get away for awhile. so we planned a trip. the kids and i went up to visit my hometown and the hubs came up the last weekend we were there for some fun family time where he didn't have to miss too much work.

so part of the trip was going to our family farm.
friends came to visit and my sister hosted us at her house (she's wonderful) and the boys were terrified of snakes and it was lots of fun.
above is judah's excited face. i can't remember why we were excited but it happens a lot.


elijah spent his time putting sticks in the fire and eating too many s'mores. 
the boys decided to spend most of their time hole digging and worm finding and fire building and marshmallow roasting and it's pretty much the best. 
at one point, the children took off their clothes to bathe and the skin that had been covered in clothes was a totally different color due to all the dirt that had gotten all over them. 
nasty.
and awesome. 


something that always interests me is how my children entertain themselves when they are not at our home. at my parents' house they used cardboard to create a "game." they even cut out small pieces of paper to move around as game pieces. it was awesome. i am so proud. 
this one was called "martial law." 
we've already trademarked it so don't even try to steal our winning idea, people.

the boys played outside so much and i thought to myself, "self, why don't you read a bit while they entertain themselves?" the answer? because cuties are all around and they were very distracting. how can you read when a kid with a soccer ball wants to hang out with you and ask you questions? 
the answer: you can't.


the secret to this guy's heart is gum.
it's the first question he asks any grandparent or aunt or uncle. 
he might love you, but he loves gum more.


this dude. he's getting ready to go into the fourth grade. can you believe it? it's weird. i feel 25. but apparently i'm not. 
grandma gave us these sumo bumper boppers. 
you're supposed to wear one and run into another person. they're pretty fun. 
and if my boys like anything, it's physically assaulting others. 
--i mean playing rough. ahem.

so we have been trying to make the best of a hard situation with our sweet girl gone.
a blessing: we have a special arrangement where we get to go visit her quarterly for a few hours. this is a huge gift and we are so thankful for it. 

so once again, when i spend time thinking about all God has given us, we can still be sad and hurting, but we know He cares for us. we know He's got this gigantic plan and we get to be a part of it. 
-it might not be the way we would have preferred and it might be painful, but He is with us and His plan is never for us to try to do it alone. 
so be encouraged, people. 
God is for you.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

losing little miss

if someone had asked me what it would be like to lose our little miss, to give her back to her bio family, to pack up all her things and eventually return home to a house without her laugh and bouncy hair, i would have said that it wasn't possible. i would have assumed that losing her would mean the world would stop turning and we would all huddle in a dark room and cry. in the year we fostered little miss, she completely transformed our lives. and then...she went back home.

we had hoped we would get to adopt her. we had hoped we would get to keep her and her bio brother (our son) together. we had hoped...
but sometimes life doesn't work out the way we hope.

we foster because we are passionate about kids. we know every child deserves a family.
each one of our children comes from a different place and has a different story.
little miss has a bio family that has worked hard to prove they can take care of her.
so we made her a scrapbook and wrote sweet letters of encouragement and hugged her tight and cried a lot.
i tell friends i have empty arm syndrome. i miss her so much there are times i physically ache. our family prays for her and talks a lot about the sweet things we have seen her do. there are a lot of things we will never know about and we have to ask God for peace so we can keep going.

so in order to cope with the loss that we knew was a possibility but had been told would work out differently, we have been with lots of family. we have traveled. we have kept busy enough not to wallow but not so busy we totally forget we are still struggling and sad. we are doing things as a family that would be hard to do with a baby and try to make a hard situation a little better. i light candles while i cook and put flowers from our yard in jars and try to think of times when life wasn't quite this hard and our hearts didn't ache this much. i yearn for a time in our future where life might feel light and even, dare i say it, breezy. i cannot imagine a time like that coming. but i hope for it anyway because i know to everything there is a season.

sometimes i wonder if losing her has ruined me as an advocate. we always tell people to do the hard thing. will fostering at times be painful? will it be hard? will you at times want to give up? could they leave and your arms and home would be empty? should you do it anyway? yes. why? because the system being broken and grown adults in positions of authority over you acting like children might suck, but the kids deserve people who care and will fight for them. and i've decided that while i may not be the cheeriest speaker anymore, i can still stand in a room full of people and tell them to do this hard thing because kids like little miss have an opportunity to be safe and healthy in foster homes because people do what is inconvenient and hard. and these beautiful children, they are worth it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

summer simplicity

what?! two posts in one week? that's ludicrous!
peeps, i have been reading so many great summer blog posts that i wanted to share.
--so basically i have nothing original to say but wanted to share the worldly wisdom of the internet.

this one about summer is so good. it's not just this entry. it's all her entries. she's such an encouraging writer. and i love that she's broken down her summer lists into categories. i'm taking her list of things for mom and implementing it at our house.

also, reading:
at our house, reading can be an issue because we have so many young readers. for each one to read to me for 20 minutes....that adds up to like a gajillion minutes and ain't nobody got time for that. i took all the books she listed for her 7-year-old reader and put them on a wish list at our local library. that way, when we are ready for another recommended book, we can just check a box online and wait to go pick it up! the way we are doing it at our house is the oldest boy reads for 20 minutes to himself (he'll be doing chapter books) and i read the same book on my own time, thus making me able to ask him questions about what he's reading. and we get to share an experience, which is always nice. and i've created the list for him, which means i shouldn't have to read too many books about zombies or superheroes. one can only take so much, people. and on his own time he can read whatever he wants. the younger boys are reading me a book a day. at the end of the summer, if they've read a certain number of days, they all get to buy a big lego set together. i just made that up. it could change.

also, this is a great post with a summer reading list for adults. and they are fun, unusual ways to categorize them. i have now wish-listed and reserved several at our local library.

once upon a time, but i can't seem to find it, ashley ann posted about coloring books for grown-ups. so on a weekend getaway with the hubs i bought one from barnes and noble for $8. i love it. with the stressors going on in our life right now, i feel like i have no creative juices to do anything fun. but this is kind of a soothing, mindless activity. plus, to my surprise, my children congregate around me when i color and sure enough, within a few minutes they have pulled up chairs and are coloring in their own books. parallel play is fun.

for us, this summer is going to entail lots of short quick trips, reading, having friends over, going to our local pool and our local library, and doing as many free things that are air conditioned as possible because we live in the hottest place on earth...i mean, we live in south texas. so far, we have found some balance between doing fun things and getting things done. the boys are earning some new privileges and trying some new things on their own. my attempt at summer simplicity is to try to eat at home as much as possible and to only plan at most one fun thing a day. either mornings or afternoons i'm trying to be home. it's been pretty wonderful.

hope y'all are enjoying your summer!
go eat some watermelon.

Monday, June 15, 2015

nostrils, cheese boxes, and blessings

summer has begun here. 
and if you ignore the current challenges of our foster care situation, summer has been wonderful so far.
you know...all 2 weeks of it.



my dad gave me some old processed cheese boxes. i seriously have them all over the house. ones with pencils, ones with succulents, one for our salt and pepper shakers. 
it looks like i might have a problem, but that's ok. 


the last few months have been filled with traveling for our foster daughter, little miss, and doing school stuff for the boys.
with asher spending last school year in a small private school, i was volunteering there almost every week. and not because i'm a great mom who devotes her time to education, nope, it's because i was required. 
i'm kinda a slacker when not asked to be otherwise.




judah has many talents, one of them being that he can suck his upper lip into his nose. 
*talent*

my sister visited in may and we took her to a museum and out to eat at a place that has milkshakes so good you could lick the glass. 
and maybe we did.
we loved having her here. 


certain aspects of our life have been "unpleasant" lately. and when i used that word to describe our situation, my friend laughed and said that was one of the biggest understatements she had heard.
it really has been so rough. but we are pressing on because what God has called us to do, He will see us through.  i didn't mean to rhyme there. 
I've been spending a TON of time in psalms. 
they comfort my soul when everything around me feels like pure chaos.

 because of our "turmoil," we have been spending a bunch of time with our extended family due to logistics.
my mother in law is truly the most fantastic mother in law to grace this earth. 
she even lets us eat cherries, which we all love. and which makes it feel a bit more summery even though we are kinda bogged down with other things. 

as we struggle through our current situation, i have also been seeing all the wonderful gifts God has given us. 
cherries are one of them.
family is another.
and His grace sustaining us.
see? even in the hard stuff, the sucky stuff, the want-to-give-up stuff, God's blessings are still here.
may we have eyes to see them.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

soothing the soul

life has been a bit insane lately.
there's some unpleasant things going on around here but we shall persevere.
and since i can't speak in specifics but didn't want to paint life as all rosy all the time, i'll give you some encouragement. 
 i am trying very hard to spend consistent time with the Lord. 
the picture above is where i sit when i'm alone with Him.
a friend gave me some great advice regarding our current life situation:
don't get stirred up in the crazy of it all. spend time being still in the Lord. 
--it has soothed my soul.


another thing good for the soul?
family time.
and chess games and obstacle races and eating a potato as big as your face.






and little boys becoming bigger boys.
another birthday came and went. 
he's such a big dude.


in trying to simplify some things out of necessity, i have not scheduled anything other than helping out at the kids' schools and house-related tasks.
it's been nice having things be a little simpler, especially when life around us is a bit out of control. 


i know we all have our crazy times.
times we wish weren't happening.
times we would prefer to be doing something else.
but it was so beautiful and wonderful this weekend to be with my family, slow down, work hard (the boys and i raked leaves and worked our tails off!), and then enjoy our Risen Savior.
in the chaos or pain or suffering or irritation or anger, 
we can be joyful 
because
Christ is Risen.

He is Risen Indeed!