Delirious Parents. Presents. Brunch with all of our family over. Tons of smiles. This was our Christmas morning…
So of course more happened in November than this, but here are the photos I took (and can share). First is our trip to Hilton Head. Just as the pictures show it was a grand week of
excitement, adventure, and thrill seeking lazy, amazing, family chill time! There may have been a day when we didn’t leave our pajamas or shower…vacation at it’s finest! We did have fun though- we played with toys and things like playdoh that mommy too often says “not right now” to…and had CABLE for a change so there was much Nick Jr. and Food Network We also played mini golf, walked around the gorgeous property, and went out to dinner pretty much every night- oh! and went to a delicious cupcake place a few times for a “treat” as my kids would say! It was a great week of relaxation…
We also celebrated Baby Girl’s FIRST BIRTHDAY! I am still in denial…
(Notice the photo at bottom right- the doll is so her!)
I keep promising to be a better blogger, but the truth is- I’m more concerned with being a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, etc. and just enjoying life so- I’ll update when I can. I hope to be more frequent, truly I do!
A few weeks ago we had a fun day at the park…as you can see, even Russell had fun participating We’ve been enjoying the simple things lately like picnics, going to the park, and just lazy fall days watching football at home. It’s been wonderful.
This was the Pumpkin Patch Express at the Museum of Life & Science. The kids had fun riding the train & picking out pumpkins. We are heading back soon to check out the Dinosaur Trail and a few of the other things we missed the last few times we’ve gone…(thanks, living social fall pass!)
I’ve been in a bit of a blogging rut lately…but sometimes it’s all I can do to live this crazy life much less write about it!
It’s hard to believe how much has changed about life in the past year. Last year it was just two of us waiting to welcome what we thought was one child into our family. Apparently God had bigger plans…and a sense of humor! We added two amazing boys to our family last September and a beautiful baby girl in February. Russell got a new job in April and wore a fancy cap & gown in May. June 1st was my last day of work to become a stay at home mom. All of this has been amazing, and a huge blessing…but honestly, so exhausting.
Being a foster parent is hard…by far the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. It has also been the most amazing, stretching, growth I’ve ever experienced as a person and in our marriage. We have been forced to put ourselves, sleep, money, and life as we knew it aside. Yes, most parents do…but it wasn’t gradual. It felt like more of a BOOM! All of the changes have molded me a little… into what I feel is a very different person than I was even a year ago. Thankfully, Russell and I have grown together & clung to each other in times when we felt our load was too heavy to carry another day. The privacy of the case makes everything seem so vague to family and friends & in some ways I hate that, but honestly, most of it I wouldn’t share anyway even without a contract. The past year of our crazy is the beginning of their story and that story is theirs to share as they wish with whom they wish…not mine.
I am constantly amazed at how far we have ALL come in the past year. Thankfully our youngest two have been oblivious to the past year…unfortunately, the oldest hasn’t had that privilege. I can’t imagine being four, living with strangers, having new rules & expectations, culture shock, being told you’re going home, not seeing birth family for months, and then trying to grasp what adoption is finally at 5. Thank GOD that we have an incredible bond & a wonderful therapist! I’m happy to say that he has not only adjusted to our family well but he is quite proud to call us mommy & daddy and is overjoyed to be a Kelly soon (he in fact will tell you his name is ____ ___ Kelly by no encouragement from us!) I can’t wait to tell you what those blanks are!
We were in love with these kids from the beginning but there has been the roller coaster of supporting them going home to birth parents then opening our heart & home to them forever. The craziness of foster care and all of the added drama is too crazy for anyone to understand unless you’ve been there. Truly. While we are positive we are finished fostering, we both agree to continue to be involved somehow. There are kids needing homes and support, foster parents needing guidance & listening ears, and workers needing help & good foster parents to work with. We feel we know too much to just walk away…
We love these kiddos to pieces though, even on days that are insane. We have learned to embrace the crazy. I know one day when they are grown, we will miss it. On a recent date night to celebrate our anniversary we commented how odd and dare I say stressful silence felt. Strange, huh? With 3 kids 5 and under there is never a dull moment! They are worth every mark on the wall and every middle of the night wake up call. We are looking forward to just enjoying life and not having extra visits from social workers, court dates, and all that other “fun” though!
I can’t wait to be able to share names & most importantly pictures here!! It’s been so hard to keep such cute faces away from everyone…truly. We have paperwork & a new “adoption” home study to finish, and all of that but we are hoping to have everything wrapped up by the beginning of 2013. One thing fostering has taught me is patience. Nothing with the county or state is fast or on our timeline, that is for sure! I have to say I’m so looking forward to things being official. Nothing will change as far as the kids are concerned, they have been our kids since day one. I’m just looking forward to not having to make sure faces are hidden in pictures, hiding their real names, giving updates & asking permissions from social workers, and being able to let them have sleepovers with grandparents…I’m looking forward to real life!
All that being said, I just wanted to get everyone caught up. I wanted to put it all out there because really, my blog isn’t much about “fostering” at all anymore. There will be posts that other foster parents can relate to…I want to talk about bonding, and behavior, and other issues I feel may be helpful. But mostly our blog will be about us as a family. Our life. Our kids. Our journey as parents. Yes, foster care will always be a part of our life and how we were blessed with three amazing children. Of course, it will also be a part of theirs…but it doesn’t define us, and most certainly not them. No worries, when the adoption is final- you will know. There will be a million pictures posted!! We look forward to sharing our not so little family
Fall is my favorite, Russell’s favorite too. Starting in September all my fall decor goes out & all my favorite smells start in our plug-ins and candles-pumpkin, vanilla, apples, baking cookies-yum! September contains two pretty big dates for our family- we celebrated the kiddos living with us for a year and our 6th Anniversary. I probably should have had a blog post for both of these events but there was just too much to say yet not enough words…ya know?! We are looking forward to all of the other amazing favorites to come as we officially welcome fall this weekend.
Here is a list of things we hope to do:
- Make an apple pie
- Attend a football game
- Go trick-or-treating
- Go camping
- Make leaf prints
- Carve a pumpkin
- Make pumpkin pancakes
- Go to a pumpkin patch
- Make pumpkin spice playdoh
- Make applesauce
- Make thankful tree
- Celebrate Baby Girls first birthday (can you believe it?! I can’t!)
- Go on a nature walk
- Fall family photo
- Roast Marshmallows
- Make hand print turkeys
- Read fall books (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Autumn)
- Have a fall themed Family Fun Night
- Play in the leaves
- Drink apple cider
- Roast pumpkin seeds
- Have a picnic
- Make apple butter
- Many, many more!
What would be on your fall list?!
So I’ve seen plenty of blog posts that have their “new mom must haves” and some I agree with and some I don’t…so here is my .02! Not only are these my favorite baby items- but I’ll also be posting more favorites for toddlers & school age over the next week since I was in the unique situation of being a new mom of all three this year!
Favorite Baby Items:
1) Swaddleme blankets. Since she LOVED to be held 24/7 and would wake herself at night jerking her hands around, these were a LIFESAVER…and a sleep saver for this mommy!
2) Huggies wipes- they’re thicker than any other brand I tried & I love this.
3) Target Up & Up baby food pouches once she started eating baby food. We don’t use these at home but they are perfect when eating away from home especially when paired with #6. Best.invention.ever!
4) Kinky Curly Curling Custard- our sweet girl has a head full of curls that look quite out of control without this stuff. It smells good, controls & defines curls without being crunchy or greasy! (Our girl is biracial but I’ve heard that it works on many hair types!)
5) Hyland’s Teething Tablets. Another life/sleep saver! Baby Girl is currently getting THREE teeth in! These seem to really help.
6) Plum Dispensing Spoon- These are made for the Plum Organics baby food but they fit all of the baby food pouches we have tried. Again, the person that invented this deserves a kiss on the mouth!
7) Aquaphor- we have this upstairs, downstairs, & in the diaper bag. It’s great for diaper rash, eczema, lip moisturizer. It’s our grease-all.
8) Homedics Sound Spa- we use the “Ocean” for white noise to get baby girl to sleep & stay asleep. Love it.
9) Gerber Sleep-n-plays- LOVE these pj’s because they zip up & have a snap at the top to secure zipper. Any mom who has had to snap 5000 snaps at 2am knows why I love these.
10) Moby wrap- I love the Moby wrap for so many reasons! It helped with bonding, gave me my hands free for so that I could also get something done or play with the boys, soothed a baby with reflux since she could comfortably sleep upright, and last but not least was the most comfortable wrap I tried on (which is increasingly important as they get heavier!).
The other items that were must haves for us were: Reflux medicine and burp clothes (lots of cloth diapers), Melissa & Doug Candy Jar, Bounce & Giggle Elephant, Avent bottles (these were good for a breast fed baby transitioning to bottle), Pacifier Clips & Avent Paci’s, Pack-n-play, and of course there were others!
These are my favorites for a toddler/preschooler/young school aged child (crazy-my two year old is a “preschooler” ;- and my 5 year old a “big kid”… I’m in denial) Unfortunately/Fortunately for them, because they are both boys and they both want to play with each others stuff anyway…they share pretty much everything. There are some things that are just for each of them, but we are a everything is everyone’s & we share type of family (unless it’s brand new- then it’s that persons only for a while )
1) Chore/Behavior Charts- we don’t really do chores but we do things like “be kind” “use manners” “put away toys” etc. we also had what I call freebies, such as “brush teeth” and “get dressed” to make SURE we had a few successes.
2) Fisher Price Booster- We like this seat because it elevates him to the right height without being a high chair. It’s easily portable and you can use it with the tray or like we do & push it up to the table.
3) Milk- I know this seems like a given but I’m still amazed at how much milk we go through in a week. It’s not uncommon for 3 gallons to be sitting in my fridge.
4) Leapster- Both boys love it even though only one actually knows how to play it I love that it comes with fun games like Cars, Toy Story, etc. but that it’s also very educational. Win, win.
5)Hot Wheels- we have a giant bag of Hot Wheels cars that frequently get love…I also love that for .99 at Target, I can get them as small rewards for good behavior!
6) Straw Sippy Cups- I love that they don’t leak as a normal cup would but they are heading towards big kid cups now that we have a big two year old (sigh…)
7) Starlight Turtle- we got this before we had kiddos because I thought it was pretty cool. Luckily both of my boys do too. We turn it on each night and have been known to use it as a silent cue to stop reading books & really go to sleep since it turns off after 20 min.
8) Books- we are a “weird” family that doesn’t have cable so books & occasionally Netflix are our entertainment sources. We read lots & lots of books! I love children’s books.
9) Puzzles- They are great for the obvious motor skills of putting together a puzzle, but I also like how we can talk about the different animals, transportation or shapes that we have with our puzzles. Puzzles are great…unless they all get dumped in the floor & then mommy has to sort & put them all back together….not that it’s happened
There are days when I’m mad at these kiddos birth mother. I judge her decisions…knowing they aren’t what is best for the children. I wonder how she can miss out on Christmas, Birthdays, seeing all of the “firsts” from Baby Girl… how can she miss everyday? Is she being selfish, or is she doing what she thinks is best for them? Did she have a rough childhood & wasn’t shown how to be a good parent? I know she loves them- without a doubt…but does she love them enough? What other issues prevent parenting well? While I don’t know all the other issues that play a part…I know some of them. Some are poor choices for sure…some are a girl who is wounded, and probably feels stuck. My feelings are complicated…
No matter what- on the good days and the bad, I love her. There are many times I don’t like her…but there will always be a connection. She will always be the birth mother & the person that gave us three of the greatest blessings! I guess that’s how many divorced parents feel…even if you can’t stand them sometimes, they are who helped give you the gift of children, right!?!
Today we are one week from our permanency plan hearing. This is a hearing where the make a plan for permanency- aka- if progress isn’t being made with the birth parents then they change the goal to adoption. In foster care you NEVER know- things are often changed and it doesn’t have to be logical ;-) However with that said, we are expecting the goal will be changed to adoption. We have grown to fall more & more in love with these kids the past 10 months & we are hoping we can give them forever.
As exciting as the coming months (hopefully) will be for our family…I can’t help but think of her. Think of what it would be like to lose these precious children who are so full of love and life…and my heart breaks for her. My heart breaks for the mother of my children…my heart breaks that the beautiful smile that my children inherited from her, may diminish…
So you would think me being home would mean more blog posts but it’s been a little bit of adjusting. Last week I had
the plauge strep throat, a sinus infection, and an ear infection all at the same time. Let me tell you- it’s no fun to have every part of your head in pain! I’ve also been busy trying to adjust to our new schedule and slowly get things done around here the way that I want them. My hands are quite full these days with three kiddos at three very different ages & stages!
*is now mobile! Scooting, Crawling, pulling up on things- such a big girl!
*LOVES fruit (pureed of course), isn’t too sure about the green veggies (having to alternate & “trick” her) and puffs are a new found favorite- she self feeds like a pro!
*Sleeps pretty well- usually a morning nap, an afternoon nap and about 11 hours at night.
*loves peekaboo, finding things of her brothers like Hot Wheels cars, and exploring her new little world!
*is persistent- she doesn’t give up easily no matter what! (this is both good & exhausting!)
*is SO loved & truly such a beautiful girl- I wish you could see that face!! Oh, and do you see those curls!?!
*is testing out his limits lately- turning two next month is definitely in sight!
*too cute for his own good- the above toddler antics are often quite funny and “cute” and he knows it- ROTTEN!
*is all of a sudden NOT a fan of bedtime- thankfully he settles quickly but cries almost every night
*still LOVES to eat-and will eat pretty much anything you put in front of him. (lettuce is the only thing he doesn’t gobble up)
*loves standing on the furniture, putting everything in his mouth, and any toy that makes noise! (Can we say toddler boy?!)
*is SO loved & SO loves his daddy- Little Man is a daddy’s boy all the way!
*starts Kindergarten in less than two weeks!
*has come SO far with his behavior- we are so proud of him! (& still working hard of course)
*loves his Nintendo DS- would play it all day if we let him (which we don’t!)
*loves his sissy- such a good big brother & big helper!
*FULL of energy
*SO smart- doing great with writing and reading TONS of words already!
*loves attention & loves to cuddle! (also has a hard time with NOT getting attention- we’re working on that!)
*is SO loved & is very much a momma’s boy!