Unexpected Visit

I was awakened this morning by the sound of my cell phone ringing in my ear. I looked at the screen and saw that the children’s social worker was calling from his cell phone. That is weird in and of itself since the last time he called from that number was six months ago when I first added his contact information into my phone, so I was curious as I answered. “Hello!” “Good morning, how are you?” “Great, how are you,” I responded. “Well, we’re on the way to your house now,” was his response. Thoughts started racing through my brain! “Who is ‘we,’ he’s never brought anyone else with him before?” “Why does he need to bring someone with him?” “Is it because there is bad news?” “Is it because he needs help carrying ‘my’ two precious babies away?” “Am I going to live my nightmare today, the one where my Little Man hangs his head out the window of the social worker’s car as they drive him and his baby sister away and he calls to me, ‘bye-bye mama!'”

I know, I know, these children are not “mine,” they are in foster care and have another family completely, but after 6 1/2 months where I have been there for every diaper change, every meal fed, every bad dream, first steps, first teeth, first words, and so much more, they feel like “mine.” I know that they weren’t always part of our family, but now that they are, I cannot picture our family without them!

Their biological family deserves every single chance to get their children back. They deserve help! They need help! My job is to raise these precious ones to the best of my ability for as long as they need me. And, that is how long I will be here for them… from now until… for as long as they need me!

Oh, and you might be wondering about the whole visit thing… turns out the children’s social worker was training a new social worker on how to do home visits and that is why there was two of them! I am a crazy worrier, I need to get over that! No bad news today, no real new developments in their case at all. The social workers left my house with these parting words, “The babies are not leaving your home anytime soon, so just enjoy your summer!” And, that is exactly what we are going to do!

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Isn’t technology wonderful!

Little Man and Baby Girl have lived with us for the past 6 1/2 months and my husband has been out of town preparing for deployment for the last 13 days. With that in mind, I have to say, things are still going pretty well at home with all five kiddos!

Our youngest daughter cried herself to sleep the first couple of nights, but as days went by and she realized that she was still going to get to talk to daddy almost every day, the crying stopped. Little Man loves to say, “hi,” “love,” and “bye” each time that he sees an opportunity to talk to, “Da” on the phone. But, the cutest interaction had to be between “Da” and Baby Girl last night. He called on FaceTime, so that we could see him on the IPad and she was so adorable talking to him! She kept chirping and screaming at the iPad screen and tapping on it with her little pointer finger. He would answer her chirps and screams with,”Hi baby, how are you” and “I miss you little princess” and then she would start the whole chirping and screaming thing all over again, tapping on his face on the screen all the while. Over and over she would do this, putting her head to the side as if to say, “How are you in there daddy and if you really are in that thing, get out and play!”

Isn’t technology wonderful!

The little boy who wore these boots…

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The little boy who wore these boots entered my life six months, one week, and one day ago.  On that day he became my “Little Man.”  That first night as I held him in my arms and fed him powdered donuts, I knew my life would never be the same.  He didn’t wiggle his way into my heart, he came in and broke it wide open like a wild tornado rips apart everything in it’s path.  And that is what I called him, my little tornado.  Everything in his way was either hit, bit, thrown, kicked, or punched.  Nothing was easy with Little Man.  Eating a family meal became a thing of the past.  At least one family member had to hold Little Man on their lap to even get him to sit down.  Food was thrown, cups were tossed over, and milk was spit on the floor.  Diaper changes were wrestling matches.  Poop flew everywhere.  From the moment that he woke up to the moment he fell asleep at night Little Man was a little tornado running through our home causing havoc, but I loved him!  Injuries were frequent at our home in those days, busted lips from head-butts, bite marks that lasted weeks, and feelings were often hurt as Little Man struggled to figure out his new surroundings.  He was a fighter!  He fought our love, he fought our attempts to calm him down.  But, we loved him.  I don’t remember the day that he stopped being my little tornado, but one day I woke up and realized that he wasn’t anymore.  I saw him quietly sitting at the counter in my kitchen one morning eating cereal with my 9 year old son and he had his arm around him, brothers sitting eating breakfast.  It was either on or around that day that I realized that the little boy who wore those boots six months ago was no longer.  He didn’t fight our love anymore, he embraced it and he gave it back.  Biting was a thing of the past and I can’t tell you the last time he head-butted me when I was trying to calm him.  He now runs to us to get hugs and kisses and enjoys sitting in our laps to read books.  He eats at the table, sitting in his own big boy chair and he finishes all of his milk without spitting it (most of the time).  As I put Little Man to bed each night we pray together.  I pray he will come to know Jesus one day and that he will always feel loved.  I pray for his safety and I pray for his future.  My heart will always and forever have a place in it for my Little Man, the child that broke my heart wide open!

Our Monthly Visit

We had our monthly visit with our social worker from the agency this morning.  It went very well.  The babies and I were all set up outside  ready to enjoy running through the sprinkler, riding bikes, and drawing with sidewalk chalk.  The social worker and I talked as we watched the children play.  We talked about milestones that the children have reached over the past month and how our communication has been with the birth family.  We talked about the fact that another court hearing will be coming up later this month or early next month and how I should be prepared.  All in all, it was a great visit that ended with eating popsicles on the front porch and then of course baths for the babies since they were incredibly sticky after their yummy snack!

He left

Today was the day my solider had to leave to get ready for his upcoming deployment.  There were tears, far too many from me, but we all know I “feel” things more than other people.  I tried to keep busy, tried to make the day worth while and I made it to nap time.  That is when the real tears came.  I called my husband, only a few hours from home and he gave me the pep talk I needed!  I can do this!  God is with me!  We are still a family, even if we are miles apart!  We can get through this and we will!  Put my head down.  Take it one day at a time.  His voice was so perfect to hear.  He always calms me down!  It’s only been one day.  I can’t picture how it will be seven weeks from now when we get to see him again for block leave, but I know it will be the best day of the entire summer!  I already can’t wait to see him again!

 

 

Six Months Ago

Exactly six months ago today we were “waiting,” waiting for foster children.  We had been licensed foster parents for a little over a month and a half and the waiting was killing me.  I would carry my cell phone around with me and check it obsessively for missed calls. I just knew I was going to miss that very first all important call asking us to take children, but I didn’t!  That day six months ago started out pretty normal.  I went to my daughter’s school to volunteer, got some lunch, and ran some errands.  It was a Wednesday, so I was also getting my lesson plans ready to teach the kindergarteners that night at church.  When the time came to pick up my three kiddos and one extra friend from school, I got in the van and took off for the first school.  I was happy to see the kids and asked them about their days.  The first stop light we arrived at was a red light and my cell phone began to ring.  I looked down to see the name of our social worker pop up on the screen of my phone.  I wasn’t even excited yet.  I figured it was just another routine call to ask for some new piece of paperwork needed for our file or to ask us a question about something in our file.  I had no inclination that this would be THE CALL!  I answered my phone.  “Hello,” I said and heard the voice of our social worker on the other end of the line.  “Hi,” she said, “I just received a call from DHR and they have two children they are picking up right now that they are looking for a home for; the only information I have is that there is a three year old little boy and a seven month old little girl.”  My heart skipped a beat!  “Let me call my husband,” I said.  Needless to say that call went VERY fast and he said, “Let’s go for it!”  I made my return call and found out that the social worker from DHR would call me in a few hours to set up a time to drop the kids off that night.  WOW!  Now, my heart was really racing!  I got the kids home, picked up my cell phone again and made a call to a friend who could cover for me at church, teaching that night.  We then started to get things ready at the house.

I changed the sheets on the extra “big boy” bed in my son’s room and put clean crib sheets on the crib in my room.  I washed some dishes, called my husband and asked him to pick up a few baby items at the store on his way home and donuts!  I don’t know where we had heard it, but someone told us that donuts were the official love language of food, so we HAD to have these!  Then, we waited.  It wasn’t until 9:00 pm that night that a strange car pulled into our driveway.  We had all been taking turns standing at the window and watching for “the babies” to arrive, so when the car entered the drive, we were all jumping around with excitement.  My husband and I  asked our big kids to go to their rooms for a while in order for Mommy and Daddy to talk to the adults and so that we didn’t overwhelm the babies when they first came into our home.  I was so afraid that they would be scared of us!  I had been praying continually since that very first call earlier in the day that God would give the babies a sense of peace and calmness as they entered our home.  I knew this day had probably already been very traumatic for them and I wanted to make the rest of it as easy as possible on them.

We opened our front door and my husband and I walked to the car to help unload the babies and the bags of things that DHR had bought for them that day.  Both of the babies were asleep in their carseats.  My husband carried Baby Girl inside and one of the workers carried in Little Man.  I grabbed diapers, wipes, and formula and we all headed inside.  We talked a short while about what would take place in the next couple of days.  There would be a 72 hour court hearing and we wouldn’t know a lot more until after that had taken place.  We were told that a worker would pick the babies up at 7:00 am on Friday morning to take them to court.  I then asked if we should wake the babies up before they left, so they knew they were in a different place and we all agreed that would be a good idea.  My husband took Baby Girl out of her carseat carrier and held her in his arms.  She was so incredibly tiny and petite.  I took Little Man out of his seat and started to talk to him.  He let out the beginning of a cry and I immediately carried him into the kitchen to open the donuts.  BEST ADVICE EVER!  Not only did he enjoy the donuts, but I think he was quite hungry, he barely chewed and shoved as many donut holes into his mouth as he could.  We quickly learned that we would have to portion things out for Little Man and watch him closely, so that he wouldn’t choke himself.  I looked over at my husband now.  He was gently swaying back and forth with Baby Girl.  It was such a tender moment.  She was so tiny and helpless and he is so big and strong, yet so incredibly gentle and loving.  It’s in moments like that one that I fall more deeply in love with the man that I married.

The workers said goodbye and left.  Then the giggles and whispers from our big kids could be heard coming from the back bedroom and we knew they were excitedly waiting to meet the babies.  We walked back to our oldest daughter’s room where they were all waiting and opened the door.  They all squealed!  The meet and greet went very well!  Kids just seem to have a way with other kids, it’s like instant friendship!  They all were so excited to see and play with each other.  Settling down was hard that night and we were all up pretty late, but we were together.  The waiting was over.  We were together, a family.  And we knew that we would be there for these two precious ones for as long as they needed us.

Girl’s Night Out

With six days left until I am a “geographical single” mother of five for a year, I took the opportunity to have one last Girl’s Night out with a group of friends.  We went to a yummy restaurant and saw a HILARIOUS movie called, “Moms’ Night Out.”  I laughed so hard that tears streamed down my face and we all talked and talked for the entire five hours that we were together!  Coming home and returning to my precious family with five sleeping babies and one very tired husband, I realized how very blessed I really am!  These ladies, these friends, these sisters in Christ are the ones who are going to be my support network during the next year of my life.

Years ago, before my husband’s first deployment to Iraq, we had just moved to a new military base.  We were thousands of miles away from family and the only home that I had ever known.  Today, life is so different!  I am in a place that I call home.  I am where I belong.  I am where people know my name and know my family.  Before my husband’s first deployment I had weeks to “find” friends before he deployed.  I had weeks to find at least one person whose phone number I could have in case of an emergency.  Weeks is not a very long time and I was fortunate enough that I did meet and become friends with another Army wife who would eventually become one of the best friends that I have ever had.  This time around I don’t have to worry about “finding friends.”  I already have friends here.  Not just friends, but real friends, true sisters in Christ.  I have people who I can call in the middle of the night when I have an emergency.  I have a support network and for that I am so grateful!  

So, as we prepare for this most difficult time of separation for our family, I am not afraid.  My God will be by my side and so will my sisters, my blessed sisters in Christ!    

The Calm Before the Storm

There is an eerie calmness that I feel.  I keep thinking, “I should be freaking out about this,” but I’m not!  Deployment is a big deal!  Being married to a man in the Army, it kind of comes with the territory, coming and going, moving from here to there, being separated.  But, we have been really blessed!  Our family has been together for the majority of the time over the last few years.  Sure, there have been the occasional trainings, schools, or the time when my husband was in Korea and we were home in the United States for 7 months, but other than that we’ve been together.  Others have not been so lucky!  Friends of mine, close friends have husband’s who have seen the desert far too many times.  So, we’re blessed!

Each family goes through their own “pre-deployment” phase.  Some of us get clingy.  Others of us pull away in preparation.  This time around our family has the unique opportunity to be separated for six weeks and then together again for an entire month before the actual deployment starts.  I guess I look at this as sort of our “trial period.”  It will show us how we’re going to deal, what we’re really made of, I guess!  I’m excited about this period of time.  I am glad that we will have this time to “practice” living apart again.  We’ll work out the kinks.  We’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll figure out how the kids are going to react.  I know how I THINK they are going to react to Daddy being away, but I don’t actually KNOW how they will react.  So, here it goes, the count down.  We have one more week together.  One more week of sleeping in the same house, under the same roof.  One more week of goodnight kisses and bedtime prayers.  One more week of happy bliss and enjoying every last second together.  One more week.

Deployment

So, “it” is happening, a deployment.  It was bound to happen again sooner or later.  We’ve been there, done that, but not with three biological children and two foster children.  Last time it was just me and our oldest.  She was two years old at the time and I was pregnant with our second, a little boy.  Daddy made it home just in time for the delivery.  We were so blessed!  Others were not so lucky.  We know we’ve been blessed!  We know it!  We count our blessings daily!  We’ve been together, all of us, as a family for so long.  So, when he told me about the deployment, I didn’t fight it (well at first).  I accepted it like a “good” Army wife.  I said all of the right things, “It is our time,” and “We’ll make it through,” but I was angry.  Why now?  Why right after getting two precious foster babies that we had worked SO HARD to be able to bring into our home?  Why was God choosing right now to ask my husband to leave again?  Why now, God?  So, I fought it.  I begged God to change it.  I asked my husband to get “out of it.”  I begged and cried and begged some more.  But, as my most amazing man of a husband said to me, “God has given us so much, how can I say, ‘no’ to HIM when he asks me to go?”  So, after months of bargaining with God, I finally accepted it.  I began to pray for HIM to ready my heart.  Get me ready, Lord!  Please help me through this most difficult time!  Help me to be the wife and mother that you have called me to be please, Lord Jesus.

So, we’re ready.  Well, as ready as we’ll ever be, I guess.  The love of my life is leaving me and his children to go off to a distant land.  It is part of the job, part of what he signed up for so many years ago.  He’s going.  He’ll miss birthdays and Christmas.  He’ll miss dance recitals and soccer games.  He’ll miss movie night and slumber parties in the living room.  He’ll miss goodnight kisses and bedtime prayers.  He’ll miss us and we’ll miss him!  But, we’ll be here.  We’ll be waiting for him to come back and he will come back.  He will come back!