May 30, 2013

Random- ocity

Time, lately, is a weird thing.  It seems like the days are flying by and dragging all at the same time.  I decided that we could not stay cooped up at home all summer and so we are spending our days at the pool.  The kids go to swim practice (which they are all loving!) and then we eat a picnic lunch and then play at the pool for the rest of the afternoon.  I should buy stock in sunscreen.  The kids are all brown and tan and gorgeous and I'm just fried and red.  Such is life!

This boy.  Oh my heart.

*There are a few things that I've noticed while spending my days at the public pool.  First of all, there are no men at the pool in the summer.  It is full of moms who fall into two camps: the moms with perfect hair, tan, teeth, bodies and whose bikinis and cover ups actually match and their kids all have perfectly monogrammed everything then there are the moms who are more like Honey Boo Boo's family who wear see through tee's in the pool.  I'm going to start my own group for moms who are trying to kill time who have cellulite and are just praying that one of their kids doesn't start to drown so that they don't have to jump in the freezing water.

*My favorite pair of jeans wore a hole through the crotch.  I was telling my friend, Jessica, about this and she said that her jeans were starting to wear through in the crotch as well.  We are trying to figure out what is going on with our crotches that makes them melt denim.

*They started putting the deck on our new house.  We are just so excited to have a place to sit that is not covered in mud or drywall dust.

How cute is this man I married?  When we got married 10 years ago, he was all city.  In the last few months, I've seen him wield a chainsaw and an ax (which is oddly sexy).  I'm going to convert this one into a country boy, yet.  His metamorphosis is almost complete.  Or at least it's complete from the hours of 6 pm until bedtime.  The rest of the time he sits behind a desk in a suit and tie selling mutual funds and such which is not very country at all.  But he looks cute doing that, too, so it's all good.

*We are becoming experts at "kids eat free" nights around town.  The fourth kid tipped the balance in our eating out budget.  But sometimes a mom just needs a night out of the kitchen.  Tuesday was kids eat free night at one of our favorite barbecue places.  They have these giant glasses that are the equivalent of 3-4 regular sized glasses.  If I had to give them an ounce assignment, I would say they maybe hold 32 ounces.  I ordered an iced tea and it was so delicious and I was so thirsty that I sucked it down in record time before our food even arrived.  I had a second glass with our meal.  And then for some reason, I said yes when the waitress asked me if I'd like a giant tea in a to-go cup.  Miles would have called it huge-normous.  I call it a sickness.  I drank until I puked.  And then I had a good laugh and how my 21 year old self would have been so disappointed with my 32 year old self's definition of "drink til you puke" and then I puked again.  I have learned my lesson.  100 ounces of iced tea in 2 hours = very, very bad.

*Noah's bear Max has become such a staple in our home, that many times, I find Max sitting at the table eating Teddy Grahams (cannibalism) or perched in a chair watching TV.

Max came along at such a transition time for our family and I'm so grateful that Noah has him.  Granted, 6 years old is probably bordering on too old to have such a strong friendship with a stuffed animal, but whatever.  I slept with my teddy bear until my husband banned it from our marital bed, so I'm probably not a good example of age appropriateness.

* Sadie's friend came over to play yesterday.  I heard the following conversation.

Friend:  I wish I had a sister like you do.
Sadie: Well, you have a parrot.  It's pretty much the same thing.

I never had a sister so I think that I underestimated just how freaking competitive sisters are.  The other day we were talking about tornadoes.  One of them started talking about how they had to sit in the basement during a tornado warning.  Then the other said, "Oh yeah?  I saw a tornado once."  Which escalated to the other saying, "So, when I was little, a tornado picked up my bike and threw it through the roof."  I had to remind them both that neither of them have ever been in a tornado but if they would like to keep up this type of talking that I would be more than happy to pick up both of their bikes and throw them through the roof.  Mom=1 Whiny Kids=0

* Miles has a new hobby.  It's not a good one.  In fact, it's rather disturbing.  He does this all. the. time.

And that's life in a "nut" shell.  (I couldn't help myself, sorry.)

May 24, 2013

Day One Of Summer- Crash and Burn

Yesterday was our first day of summer break.  It was a complete and utter disaster.  It was the kind of day that makes one text their spouse in the middle of the day things like "One or more of these kids is not going to make it to their next birthday" and "is it in our budget to send everyone to daycare for the whole summer?"  It was the kind of day that might make a girl feel like she could rip the cork out of the wine bottle with her teeth if she had to.  (I mean, not me- a hypothetical girl, of course)

The girls are doing this thing where they are orchestrating a fight to the death to determine which one is the alpha female in the house.  I already told them that I have the crown there, but they are hell bent on figuring out who comes second.  I may or may not have instated a game today called "Hollywood Manager" where they each get to be the "manager" of the other in 30 minute increments just so that they have set times for when they can boss one another around.  I thought it was all kinds of brilliant.   So far, so good.

Another group of two has decided that it is their mission in life to get as dirty as possible every time we go out to the building site of our new house.  One of them went through four outfits yesterday which made me have to instate the rule that if you ruin it with mud, you will wear that mud all day long.  Even if you stink.  I may or may not be gunning for meanest mom in the backwoods of Kentucky.

We did the visit with the foster child's parent and all the driving and killing time that that entails.  By 4:30 when that was over, I was cooked and dubbed it "eat whatever you can find leftover in the refrigerator night."  It wasn't in the refrigerator, but when I looked at one child's dinner it was a bun, a pile of goldfish crackers and water.  Like kid prison food.

We did showers.  The place that we are renting must have the world's smallest hot water heater.  Two quick showers is all it can handle- so I scrub them down so fast and furious that I'm surprised that any of them have any skin left.

By the end of the day, we were all exhausted and some of them just crashed where ever they could find a spot.  (Have I mentioned that it is cramped in here?  Oh, only a few billion times?  Sorry. Our new house is not going to be ready soon enough.)

In the midst of winding down the most horrible, terrible, no good very bad day, I walked in on the most precious, little, peaceful, sleeping angel baby who had flaked out on the floor.

Noah and his fearless bear, Max.

It was a much needed reminder that tomorrow is another day.  We woke up today with better attitudes and a better game plan for how we would operate this summer.  I want the kids to enjoy summer and I want to enjoy them enjoying summer.  That's a lot of enjoying.  Sheesh.  I decided that summer mornings were going to have to be 2-3 cups of coffee mornings.  And after that third cup this morning (don't judge) I got on the internet and did what every good mom does- I mapped out the schedule of every church in town's vacation Bible school.  I figure that if a girl plays her cards right there's one for just about every week of summer- and kids can never get enough Jesus, kool-aid and paper plate crafts right?  Please tell me I'm not the only one...

May 22, 2013

Butterflies and Crackers

Miles is having trouble with his ears.  No matter how many sets of tubes we have surgically inserted in those ears, he still has difficulty hearing and his ears stay full of fluid.

Lately, he's been humming or singing CONSTANTLY.  We think it's a way for him to relieve some of the pressure in his ears.  At first this humming thing was really, really cute.  Kind of like when he first started singing a song that he made up about a year ago called "Jesus is alive.  Or what."  Once we'd heard the song Jesus is alive- or what for about the 3 billionth time, it started to wear on us.   When Miles finds something funny, he repeats it over and over until he runs it into the ground.  He gets this honestly.  I still only know one joke and I tell it over and over.  (I say, "It smells like updog in here." Then they say, "What's updog?"  And I say, "Not much.  What's up with you.")  You are welcome for that gem, internet.)

I digress.  Back to Miles being stuck on things until they cross right over into annoying land... Luckily, this new song he's made up does shift and change ever so slightly to break up the monotony.  But it's still starting to wear a little.  There's a song on a tv show called "I'm a little butterfly."  It has many verses, but the only line Miles can remember is "I'm a little butterfly."  So he sings that one a lot.  Except when he eats and then he substitutes the name of the food he's eating instead of butterfly.  Think:  "I'm a little goldfish" or "I'm a little teddy graham" stuck on repeat.

It's all good and fine until he eats crackers.  He's really on a jag where he wants to eat Ritz crackers and pepperonis for a snack daily- which means hearing "I'm a little cracker" over and over again between the times of 1-2pm every day.

It's just wrong on so many levels.  Brown child singing about being a cracker?  He obviously doesn't get the racial slur.  But worse than that, his speech impediment makes cracker sound like "Cwack-o" which sounds kind of like slang for "crack ho".  Isn't that just want every parent wants for their kid?

In the privacy of our kitchen, it was okay.  But yesterday, I locked my keys in the van in the parking lot of a restaurant.  They had some outside seating and it was a nice day so we sat outside and drank iced tea while we waited for the locksmith to come and rescue us.  It's a place that we go to often and many of the staff know Miles.  They kept talking to him and joking with him and we explained that we had locked our keys in the car.  The lady at the table next to us struck up a conversation and she ended up giving Miles her packet of crackers that came with her salad to nibble on while we waited.

All of the al fresco diners were serenaded with "I'm a little crack ho".  Two of the people even clapped for him.  There is just something about this kid.  He just draws people in- even when he's talking about being a promiscuous drug fiend.

Other funny kid stuff:

*  One of the kids came home with a letter informing them that they'd been selected to participate in the gifted program/ talent pool at school.  This child was absolutely convinced that they'd been invited to an exclusive swimming field trip.  How that for gifted?  They were a little disappointed that one could not swim in a talent pool.

*  "Mom.  Can I have more strawberries with sugar on them?  Only, I don't want the strawberries.  Just the sugar with a spoon."

*   "Tell me the truth.  Am I your favorite kid?  I promise I won't tell the other ones unless I get really mad at them. Then I might tell them." -Noah

*  From a man walking into the doctor's office at the same time as me with all the kids in tow  "I'd open the door for you, but I better go in first or you'll take up all the chairs in the waiting room.  How many kids is that?" 

*  Me:  It might be time to start wearing deodorant.
    Kid: (excitedly)  Okay.  That's the section in the body book right before getting boobs!

Not funny- but a totally proud mom moment:


May 20, 2013

How I See It

I have to confess, I'm not really sure how to operate in this space anymore.  If you read back over the last almost four years of writings that take up room here on this page, we've been an open book.  I've shared the deepest parts of my heart and my family.  It's been one of the greatest joys of my life to connect with people in this way.  There has been such healing and redemption and fun in putting my life here.  And now that we are foster parents, there are so many rules about what we can and can't share.  In many ways, that has crippled me because I am a sharer.  My husband would say that I'm an oversharer. Whatever.

But more than that, it just makes me fear that my corner of the Internet will now become somehow less authentic.  Less like our real lives.  More canned.  Less truth.  Kind of like how I felt when I realized that parts of Teen Mom are scripted.  (Just for the record, that was devastating to me, y'all.)

And so I've struggled with what this will become- when so much of our lives will have to be hidden.  I'm still figuring it out.  The story is still being written.  It's molding and changing and in so many ways, the way that this space is having to change is representative of the ways that our lives are changing, too.

The stress and insanity that comes with a new foster placement is dying down.  All of those initial appointments are over.  Parents have been met, workers have been established.  Initial fears have died down.  New sibling rivalries are born and die in rapid fire cycles and the children are beginning to operate like brothers and sisters instead of strangers or versions of "the old kids" and "the new kid". Life begins again.  Different life.  Life where another family's story and our family's story collide and mingle and twist and turn and we all try to turn this into something beautiful.  We try to write a new story that will be different for everyone involved.  We are different- and no matter how long this placement lasts, I can guarantee you, we will never be the same.

For us, we went into this hoping not just to take on another child, but to take on another family.  Not to step in and be saviors, but to walk along side.  To carry one another's burdens and listen when appropriate, to learn when appropriate and to act when appropriate.  I can not tell you what a great joy it is to watch healing take place in the life of another family.  I can not tell you how amazing it is to have a front row seat in watching the pieces of brokenness slowly get glued back together.  It's an incredible blessing.

One time I heard Michelle Bachmann say "Every child deserves to have at least one person who is absolutely crazy about them" and then later in the same speech, "Every mom needs at least one person who is behind her who believes in her."  The magnitude of the opportunity to do both here, is not lost on me.

We see the stories on the news- the ones where people's children get taken away for leaving them in cages or for starving them or other horrific things.  It's easy to assume that all kids in foster care have parents like this.  It's easy to pass our judgement.  I find that when we pass judgement, we take the easy way out.  Passing judgement gives us a free pass to not get involved.  To keep from getting dirty in the mess of rebuilding lives.

Somewhere along the way I heard someone say, "We are all just one mistake away from having our children taken away."  At first, I wanted to brush that off.  Not me.  I would never.  That happens to other people.  The kind that are really bad.  But after I let that statement marinate for a long time, it's become a simple sentence that I come back to in life repeatedly.  It brings me back to a really unhappy time in my life.

I recently talked about what a difficult time I had after our middle child was born.  I was a 25 year old woman, at home with two children and one of them cried all day long.  It didn't take me long to get to a breaking point.  I was still at a point in my life where I felt like I had to prove something to people.  I couldn't ask for help because that would show people that I didn't have it all together.  And so I sat in my house with a screaming baby day in and day out and cried.  There were times where it became so intense that I wondered what would happen if I just got in the car and drove away.  There were times that I thought I could snap.  But I had people I could call.  My mom would come.  Or my granny would invite us over for dinner.  Or I could get in the car and drive to Target.  And I had a husband who would eventually come home from work and help take over so that I didn't go nuts.

Not everyone has those supports in place.  And even though I felt like a failure for using them (don't you love how our twenties trick us into thinking that we have to be superwomen?) they were there and were my saving grace.  They kept me from being one mistake away.

What if those supports hadn't been in place?  I think that the longer we study these kinds of things and the longer that we are entrenched in the adoption/foster community- the more that we realize how many things happen just because of the lack of supports for families.  And while I wish there were more supports available to people before something bad happens, I still find it to be such an incredible blessing to be a part of being that support now and to hopefully continue to be a support for families even after their kids leave our homes.  There are times when this seems so far off and there are times when a conversation with our birth mom has totally restored my faith in humanity.  It makes me sad that I ever judged to begin with.  If you ever want a way to keep your judgement in check- become a foster family.  We all have so much to learn- especially me.

So, forgive me if this space becomes blank sometimes- or feels like a scripted reality show sometimes.  We are figuring this out.  Oh boy- are we learning!  I am still trying to figure out what it looks like to live our lives out loud and yet be reserved.   Because while I really want to tell you the stories from the trenches of foster care, like how a certain visitor taught all of our kids about oral s.ex at the breakfast table on a random Saturday morning, perhaps I shouldn't.  Or how all the posters hanging in the office where we take our foster daughter for her supervised visits make my kids who can read say things like, "Mom?  Is my period late?  Should I call this number for help?" (For the record, no, six year old boy, your period is not late.)

For now, we'll focus on the big picture.  And the big picture?  It's pretty freaking cool.

May 09, 2013

And a partridge in a pear tree

Wow.  I've never neglected this blog quite this badly before.  Thanks for hanging with me.  Adding a fourth child has added a whole other level of chaos to our already cuh-razy lives.

I think that each mom has a threshold for how many kids she can thrive with.  I have friends whose numbers are up in the teens.  Some have a threshold of one.  Mine is evidently four.  Just as source of reference, though, when we had two kids, I said that my threshold was two.  I upped it to three when Miles came along.  You see where I'm going with this?

Anyway- things are going okay.  None of this "foster family stuff" is quite what I thought it would be.  One of our kids is really struggling- and it's not one of the ones that I anticipated having a hard time.  If I'm being honest, it pulls out every ounce of insecurity in our decision to do this.  You always hear that the risks are high- but you don't realize what those risks are going to be until you are living them.  The rewards are high, too.  There is nothing quite like attending a school play for a child who beams at you from the stands and you know that being there and helping make a costume for her has made a difference.  And there's nothing quite like taking that child to the store to buy flowers for her mom for mother's day and knowing that you get to have a front seat to watching a family heal.  That's incredible.

And so, despite the risks, we plow through- because on this risk/reward system, the rewards far outweigh.  And we get therapy.  And we talk to other people who are doing it.  And draw strength from our friends who lovingly pop by with dinner or call to give a pep talk.  I think in times like this, it's awesome to sit back to just reflect on how truly blessed we are.

Speaking of blessed... the brick is going on our new house as we speak.  We hear that from this point on, it usually takes 6-8 weeks until completion.  We built this big house to fill with the world's children.  I designed it with foster kids in mind.  And yet, I've been getting these hair brained idea about what other things we could do with extra bedrooms- since four kids is my threshold, remember?  Like host moms in crisis pregnancies.  Or serve as a temporary shelter for refugees who are new to the area. It's a wonder that my husband has not divorced me.  I'm planning on turning our new house into a Motel 6 for strangers.  He just smiles and nods and probably goes to bed praying that my meds kick in soon.  Bless it.

So, our day to day hasn't changed a lot.  We are still on the go all the time.  We've done a LOT in the last six weeks~  Here's a little pictorial rundown of the last season of our lives.

 We went to the zoo.

Miles got a new shirt.  It says, "My mom is blogging this" and I make him wear it every single day.

Noah started sitting like this regularly and doing weird stuff with his legs. We think he's made of jelly. 

We took the fam (and our bonus daughter- Sadie's BFF Alexis) to the Blue/White UK spring football game. 

 We played outside A LOT!  This teeny tiny rental condo is seriously closing in on us more and more every day.  

First outdoor movie night of the spring in small town Kentucky.

I took the big kids to see Taylor Swift.  We had an absolute blast!  Sadie said that it was the best night of her life.  And Noah sang every song at the top of his lungs.  Now they want to go on tour with Taylor.  I kinda do too.

I got to go to and speak at the Christian Alliance For Orphans annual Summit.  It's possible that I fell while walking off the stage and into the front row of people during our presentation.  It's also possible that I shrugged it off and made a joke about breaking my hip. It's also possible that these things only seem to happen to me. I got to steal a few minutes with Bishop Martin, who's church essentially emptied the foster care system in their town.  He is truly inspiring.

New kitties were born at the farm.

 We visited with Kamron's grandpa.  Noah's middle name is Keller, after Grandpa Terry.  He is such a great man, and I hope that Noah lives up to that name!

The day before my birthday, we went fishing at my Granny Sadie's.  My mom and dad both came. It's the first birthday in my adult life where I've had my brother and mom and dad all together.  It was 12 kinds of awesome.  It was one of those days where I just crawled in bed at night and couldn't believe how lucky I am.  It was also the first time our foster daughter had ever gone fishing!  She LOVED it.  I wish that I could share the picture I have of her with her first little fish on her pole.  It is priceless. 

My dad and my kiddos and my adorable nephew.

 Oh, this girl.  She's on a campaign to convince us that we need a horse.  My answer of "but we can go and enjoy Granny's horses anytime we want to" does not appease her.

Today is my mom's birthday.  I hope that I age this well!  This picture embarrasses her.  She was sitting on top of the pickup truck watching my brother clean the mess of fish we caught.  She thinks it looks like a posey posey senior picture.  I think when she's old, she'll look back and say, "Holy cow!  I was HOT when I was 51!)  Right?!  Happy birthday, Mom!

And a few others just for fun...

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