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. 

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 
Christ is Risen.

He is Risen Indeed!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

march madness: our way

 march madness means a different thing around here.
it's the season where we have four out of five kids' birthdays, two gotcha days (anniversaries of adoption) and this year we have more out of town court stuff with our foster kiddo, little miss.

once february ends, you just keep your head down and plow through, trying not to forget a momentous occasion...like...this guy...

turning NINE.
what happened? 
when did he get so old?
and lose so many teeth?
and stop wanting to hug me in public?

i have to brag about this guy.
he is quite a thinker and takes his time doing mundane tasks because he's daydreaming about who knows what...usually a cool new invention. 
BUT we got an email yesterday from his teacher saying that he recently took some tests and did amazing, staying on task,  finishing on time, and he got a great grade.
the great grade part is nice and all, but we are THRILLED he finished on time and did his best. 
*he's a pretty big deal*

and then a few weeks later, this little dude...
(look at his wee stumpy legs!)

turned SEVEN!
--complete with fake smiles for every picture i take.

he is such a sweet heart. he's a passionate dude, our resident theologian, and quite the blooming artist. 
he started out the school year almost making himself sick about doing things perfectly and now is rocking it out with reading and math! wahoo victory!

over the next several weeks, we are getting to see a lot of our extended family and i'm trying to get lots of stuff done so i can just enjoy them. 
 my dream is to sit outside with our wonderful fam, look at the blooming plants, eat dinner on the porch, and turn on twinkle lights outside.
and i think i'll just leave the "productivity" to someone else.** 
twinkle lights and good conversation are a heck of a lot more fun.

**as i say this, i'm making yet another mental to-do list of stuff. 
maybe a bit of productivity and a bit of fun? 
that mythical "middle ground/everything in moderation" people talk about?
does that exist?

enjoy your march madness!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

a whole booty-load of photos

i just figured you wanted to see every picture i've taken since the last post. 
so prepare thyself.

my wonderful sis came into town. 
we celebrate when she visits.
so we headed off to a family fun day.
--complete with getting to use aunt sissy's big fat camera. 

these boys felt like a big deal.

the weather here in texas has been the norm...you know...79 one day, 35 the next.
one day, the temp dropped 10 degrees in one hour.
a fire and book were absolutely wonderful.

i got to take asher and his school friends on a field trip to a local landmark.
we had a great time.
i know i'm a weirdo, but i tear up a little every time i get to go do school things with my kiddos.
i know.
--the blessing of getting to be a part of stuff like this is not lost on me. 
i am so thankful.
so i cry a bit.
don't judge me.

gabe turned 9...NINE. 
so i'm an old lady and he's growing too fast.
we took the kiddos to a fun trampoline park.
the kids had a blast!

and i'm not sure if i've told you but the hubs is so stinkin' obsessed with jiujitsu, it's crazy.
here he is doing yet another move on one of our children.
and you can see how into it judah is. 
jiujitsu again, dad? really?
--and he keeps eating his ice cream cone.
(no children were hurt in the making of this photo)

baskin robbins has a flavor of the month. and february is the best kind.
love potion 31.
it ROCKS my face off.
so naturally we went weekly.
(BR, if you want to supply me with ice cream for writing this awesome review, just tell me. i'll take it.)


little miss had a court date and such recently. she's from out of town so we went to stay with family.
the boys learned how to play chess during our visit and have been fans ever since.
the weather was terrible so we had tons of time to play games.
it was a blast!

we're almost done with all my pictures. hang in there.

i grew these flowers in my yard. and i feel like i've got mad skills.
and by "grew them in my yard," i mean that they grew there because they were planted by the previous owners and i get to pick them and smell them and it's wonderful.

in addition to being really into board games lately, the boys have also been developing their tree climbing skills. and so now if you look thru my phone, i have at least 10 pictures of each child climbing. 

so there you go. 
i'm not fancy enough to have a theme for this post or anything...
it's how i roll.

now that spring is here in texas, i get to take more pictures of pretty, green things and that usually inspires writing.
maybe i'll post again before summer. 
much love to y'all!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Christmas donkeys, obstacle courses, and talent

asher was donny the donkey in the school play:
"donny the donkey."
my son was the lead in the school play.
i think it's because he actually had no lines and the teacher knew i had five kids. 
running lines during Christmas season?
ain't nobody got time for that.

so above you see the cutest, most precious donkey ever. 
and he did amazing. 
he's quite the comedian. 

i know these pics look like they're posing for cute pictures. BUT in reality, my sons are practicing obstacle course type stuff outside all the time in preparation for their upcoming obstacle race in march.
they are stoked about it. they are running it with the hubs and maybe even grandpa and an uncle. it's a fun way to see family and do something new and exciting. 

they already have a traverse rope and a pull-up bar in the back yard.
they also want tarzan rope swings. 
i am excited they like being active but momma likes her beautiful yard. 
maybe we'll find a compromise somewhere.

we have been inundated with sickness and activities and church events and crafting projects...
the list never seems to end. 
this time of year is usually a bit slower. holidays are over, but spring stuff hasn't begun yet.
not so this year.
asher's at a kinder program that does a new activity every day, has a field trip once a month, has class parties, and makes a huge igloo out of milk jugs we get to collect. 
-not to mention the 100th day of school, bringing in pringles cans for star gazers, and beginning readers and spelling tests. 
it's a bit overwhelming. 
but when you see the culmination of their space unit is a kid who can sing about planets and wear this adorable space suit he made, it makes it seem worthwhile.

gabe was part of a team at school where they built rube goldberg machines. 
you know, cause and effect. a marble drops down a ramp, hits dominoes, they hit a car, the car hits the balloon, and the balloon pops. 
it's an after school program that has been going on for 10 weeks and gabe has enjoyed it so much.

so this week his school had a science night. 
he got to show off what he and the team have been working on.
i'm tellin' yah, guys, he lit up like a Christmas tree.
he LOVED it.

at one point he was the only kid left demonstrating and all the other kids from the team had left. 
he was kind of a one-man-show. 

it's so great to see the boys' passions and talents and how different they are. 
judah loving art, elijah loving to write, gabe loving science, and asher loving puzzles.
we tell them they can do anything.
and it's exciting to see how they carry that out.