Family Visit

I may not necessarily be looking forward to tomorrow, the awkward “hand off” of the babies, the staring of others in the DHR office, the crying of Baby Girl that simply breaks me, but I am preparing for it.

Tonight, we will have extra snuggle time. We will pray specific prayers over the babies. The bags will be packed, extra clothes, extra food, extra everything we may need for an entire day away from home.

I will wake up tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. to get everyone ready. The big kids will have play dates with friends. I will feed everyone a good filling breakfast. The babies will have perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect outfits, all of which I hope say, “I love these children! I am taking care of them to the absolute best of my ability! I care about their lives! Please, care about them too!”

We will be early to the visit, because to be early is to be on time. I will smile when I see their family members. I will be pleasant and polite. I will say, “yes, ma’am and no, sir,” and try my best to make this visit go easy for “my” sweet babies and their family. In the end, I know I will cry when I have to leave them, I always do. I will not shed my first tear though until I walk away from the visitation room and go to my truck to cry. I will call my prayer warrior friends and ask for extra prayers! I will sit and I will wait. I will wait that painfully long 60-90 minutes for the social worker to call me and tell me that I can come back. I will do it all. I will do this for “my” babies.

If history repeats itself, there will be vomit to clean up from Baby Girl crying so hard, she throws up. There will be soda pop to dump out of Little Man’s sippy cup. There will be two diapers to change, two faces to wash, and two sets of hands to clean. Then, we will drive home. It will be over and we will all be exhausted!

Lord, Jesus please watch over these precious souls! Please, prepare them for this visit tomorrow. Please, help me to be for them what they need me to be!

Amen!

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“What if?” Oh, how I hate those words!

Oh, how my life changes with just one ring of my phone. A beautiful day spent lounging around our pool, watching my kiddos swim and then with just one phone call I am sent for a loop. This “loop” is part of the roller coaster of foster care! “Just enjoy your summer!” I remember those words being said to me by our social worker just a few weeks ago. Now, Monday morning I will be headed to a visit requested by a family member of my two precious foster babies. Not at all enjoyable, in my experience, but nevertheless part of foster care. So, back to that loop. Do I want to go on the loop de loop? Nope! But, these types of experiences seem to send me there!

“What if?” That is the question that keeps plaguing my mind. “What if this family member has decided that they want to get custody?” “What if I lose my babies and never see them again?” “What if the children end up being neglected again?” “What if I can’t do this?” “What if, what if, what if!” I tell myself to be quiet, but I rarely listen. So, I reach for Google and I search bible verses about fear.

Here is what I found! I will post these throughout my house and meditate on them until Monday!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:34

“Cast all of your anxiety on HIM, because HE cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

Poop happens!

It’s how I roll. When I know ahead of time that we will be having a visit from a new social worker, I clean like a mad person! I scrub and scrub things that rarely get scrubbed! Toilets have to shine, because please everyone knows that a “good” mama keeps sparkling toilets, right?!? So, today I was in a frenzy. The moment Little Man went down for his nap, I started! Gloves on, cleaners out! Baby Girl slept in my oldest daughter’s arms as I ran around dusting, folding, fluffing, organizing, and wiping. Three hours later, I was feeling pretty good about myself and then it happened! He woke up and was calling for me from his room. I ran to my Little Man’s door and opened it up to horror! He held up his perfect little hands and said, “Ma, yuuk.” (Translation: “mom, look!”)

POOP! That is what he was showing me! It has only happened one other time in 7 1/2 months, but today during his nap, Little Man decided to put his hands into his diaper and pull out some poop! “Oh, my gosh! Get in here!” I pulled him into my brilliantly clean hall bathroom and helped him into the tub! “Don’t touch anything! Put your hands up! Let me turn on the water!” Oh my goodness, the smell! So, my newly cleaned tub was smeared with poop, as he sat down ready for his bath. He was happy, but I was not. I had not expected this! This was not in my plans! Poop! I hate poop!

I washed him up, TWICE! Then, out of the tub for lotion and clean clothes! Ok, no big deal, at least he is taken care of and now for the laundry. I strip his bed and start the first load. By tonight, all will be well again and the smell will be gone!

Lesson learned! (I learn this one over and over!) I cannot control anything! Stuff is going to happen and I just have to roll with it!

Car Trouble

Just one more thing, it is always just one more thing.  But, today that “one more thing” renewed my love for my neighbors!  We seriously live in the most amazing little neighborhood on the planet!  I love my neighbors!  I have loved them since the day that we moved in and they brought over a dolly to help us unload our moving truck and invited us to church.  They are always kind, always friendly, and today they were ready to help!

My truck started leaking oil two days ago and the puddle beneath my truck when I drove away from home yesterday was quite large.  Being an Army wife with my solider away is hard, but having car troubles on top of that is scary!  I have five kids at home and that is our only mode of transportation.  I have already had one emergency trip to the ER this month, I NEED my truck to work.  I also know, from experience that cars need oil, they just do and driving them without enough oil or with a large oil leak can be really dangerous.  So, I drove my truck up to the local auto parts store and begged the young man behind the cash register to please help me fill my truck with oil.  I told him my soldier was away and that sealed the deal.  “I respect the military very much ma’am and I have two brothers in the service.  I wouldn’t do this for just anybody, but of course I will help you fill your oil.”  He was awesome!  He also told me that I had better get my leak checked out; however, so I called and made an appointment for Monday to have the Chevy dealership check out my truck.

When I talked to my husband about it on the phone, he said that he’d like me to show him where the leak was under the truck.  So, on FaceTime on our phones I crawled under the truck and tried to show him where the leak was coming from.  Um, miracle!  He was able to see by looking at the video from my phone to his that the leak was coming from the oil filter.  He said I could probably tighten that up and that there would be no more need to visit the dealership and pay $100 just for walking through the door.  So, what did I do?  I called for help and three awesome neighbors showed up with tools, knowledge, and moral support and fixed up my oil leak in about five minutes.  Not only that, but one neighbor helped me clean the oil spill in my driveway, so that my kiddos won’t get all messy when they are outside playing and riding bikes!  Blackberry smoothies (I do know how to do some things! LOL!) were treated to the volunteer super heroes of the day and now my truck is ready to go again!

Some people just really know how to show love.  Each and every neighbor of mine had their own things going on today.  They had their own families to tend to and their own chores to do, but they stopped everything that they were doing to help me, an Army wife in need!  I will always love them for that!

Fear

Why is my reaction to “news” always fear?

We’ve been enjoying our summer for the last three weeks, just enjoying life.  Swimming every day has been our favorite activity and we don’t usually go a day without taking a dip in the pool.  When my kids swim, they also eat and a LOT!  So, today running low on snacks, I headed to the local discount food store, ready to stock up on popcorn, cereal, juice boxes, and of course gummy snacks.  As we parked the truck and I got three of the five kiddos out, my cell phone rang.  I noticed that it was the children’s social worker.  Because I had a baby in my arms, a toddler holding my hand and a ten year old asking me questions, I let the call go to voicemail.  I didn’t think much of it as we entered the store because the last time I heard from the children’s social worker, he had told me to “relax and just enjoy our summer.”  After shopping and picking up most everything we needed, I got the kiddos into their seats, locked the doors, and decided since everyone was safe and quiet for the moment that I would check my voicemail.  The message was vague, but the worker mentioned, “changes in the case” and needing to “talk to me about these changes.”  Also, he left me several numbers where he could be reached.  That’s weird, I thought.  He never gave me his private phone number before.  Why is it so important to him that I be able to get ahold of him right away?

This is where fear stepped in.  Like a mighty elephant sitting upon my chest, I immediately felt squished by fear.  My pulse quickened and I began to sweat.  Really, I thought?  What is my problem?  This has happened before.  There have been changes in the case before.  I can handle this.  But, the truth is, I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t call him back, I was frozen with fear.  What if they are taking the babies?  What if we are losing them?  What if some mysterious relative has surfaced out of nowhere and is a completely wonderful human being with fabulous child rearing capabilities and they are getting the babies now?  (I should be happy if that is the case, right?)  What if I have to prepare for them to leave tomorrow?  I knew that I had no control over what the “news” was that I was about to hear.  I knew that I can’t control the future.  I knew that no matter how much we love them, no matter how long they’ve been with us, no matter how much I long for them to have the most amazing life with love, family, health, opportunities, safety, and security, at this time I cannot do anything to make sure these things happen.  Right now, everything is out of my hands!  How thankful I am that I know the ONE who holds these little ones in the palm of HIS hands, though.  So, right there in the parking lot I stopped and I prayed.  I prayed that God would give me strength.  I prayed He would help me to accept the “news” no matter what it was.  I prayed He would help me deal with my emotions and keep them in check.  I prayed He would be with me and our precious babies and that He would take care of all of us, and then I made the call.

Turns out the “news” was that some of the cases in the office have been reassigned.  Our case was one of them.  We will have a new social worker who is brand new and has only been with DHR a couple of months.  We learned her name and that she will be out to the house next week to meet the children and to introduce herself to us.  All of that fear, all of that worry was for nothing.  Nothing has changed.  Our babies are still here.  They are sleeping under our roof tonight.  But, I learned something today.  I have GOT to stop letting fear creep up on me like that.  I know the Master!  I know the Provider!  I know the Giver of life!  He has got this!  I need not worry!  He loves these babies more than I ever could!  God is in control!

 

Sisters and stopping to smell the flowers

Sometimes life gets so complicated and busy.  When that happens, my youngest (bio) daughter is perfect at breaking me out of the craziness of life and getting me to stop and “smell the roses.”  She has such a special bond with Baby Girl and today the two of them stopped to smell (and pick) some flowers together after church.  The moment was so precious!  I ran into the house to grab my camera, so that I could catch it on film!

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I am so happy that Baby Girl has the opportunity to have such a caring and loving big sister and in turn I am overjoyed that my youngest gets the opportunity to care for and love her little sister!  They both bring so much joy to this family every single day!

Seven Months, Seven Favorites

Today marks seven months since the babies came to live with us. I remember seven months and one day ago, thinking that the day would never come when we would get our first foster children to love. Now, it seems like an eternity ago!

My list of seven favorites from the last seven months:

1. Throwing Little Man his 2nd birthday party just weeks after he came to live with us! His football cake and giving him his new Lightning McQueen ride-on toy were highlights of that day, but his face when we all sang to him is my favorite memory of that day!
2. Baby Girl’s first Christmas! Dressing her up in her beautiful new Christmas dress that my mother-in-law bought for her, taking her to the Christmas Eve service at church and taking tons of pictures are favorite memories of that time! My favorite picture is one of her touching the Christmas tree decorations with her teeny tiny little pointer finger. The photo captures the moment just right! Our tiny princess experiencing the magic of her very first Christmas!
3. Disney World! The babies getting to meet our extended family when we traveled to Florida was amazing! Our family loved them immediately and we had ten whole days of fun, fun, fun! The time was extra special for all five of our kids as they got uninterrupted time with both my husband and me and we really bonded together as a family!
4. Baby Girl’s first steps!
5. Little Man’s first two word phrases, “More, peez!” and “Ma, wa!” (More, please and Ma, watch!)
6. The first time Little Man and Baby Girl saw my husband on the computer screen after he had left to get ready for his deployment. It was amazing to see them react to seeing him! They were so happy and loved talking to “Da!”
7. Watching the sibling relationships grow between all five of our kiddos. Each relationship is so different and so precious in its own special way. As a mother, it is so amazing to watch!

We look forward to many more memories in the future!

Food Issues

We have food issues at our house! From day one Little Man has been obsessed with food. He literally would eat anything you set in front of him or put on a spoon and fed him. I am talking, everything! Things most kids don’t eat, he would eat. And Baby Girl, she would eat until she threw up. At six and a half months she would down her bottle in a minute or two. As the days turned into weeks things changed slightly. Little Man became a bit more picky. He would not eat bananas anymore, where he used to try and eat two or three a day. He didn’t want water in his cup, he wanted milk! Oh man, does he love his milk! Baby Girl would still eat until she’d throw up if I let her, so I began to feed her much smaller amounts, but more often during the day.

Fast forward to now. Tomorrow marks the babies being with us for seven months. Seven months of food whenever they want it. Seven months with delicious, yummy meals three times a day! Seven months of a diaper bag packed with snacks no matter where we go. Seven months of running through a drive thru if we’re running late and I know the kids are hungry. Seven months and we STILL have food issues! Little Man spends much of his day in the kitchen! He goes to the cupboard to get food out over and over and over again right after finishing a meal. He insists on having a cup filled with milk or juice and drinks constantly! He gets into the snacks and candy jar so much that we’ve had to put them on higher shelves. He sees you eating, he wants a bite and it is the same with Baby Girl. I cannot eat without sharing with the two of them. Anything I have, they want. They compete to get more bites of my food, whining and crying if they think the other has gotten more. They both hardly chew and cause me to panic whenever they start shoving food into their mouthes. I once scooped THREE chicken nuggets out of Baby Girl’s mouth. She had shoveled them in there so fast trying to get more than her brother. And all of this is exhausting! I feel bad even saying that because I suspect why they do this. I know they have probably never had this much food to chose from in their little lives. I know that when they were taken into protective custody that one of the reasons was because they did not have their basic needs being met, one being food. So, we struggle. I try and repeat over and over to them that they will always have enough! I try to show them that there is plenty for everyone in the cupboards and that we don’t have to eat it all now! I try to never say that they “can’t” have the food they bring me right after a meal, but that they “can” have it “later!” I don’t know how long it will take until they realize that they are not going to go hungry here. All I know to do is to keep loving them, keep feeding them, and hope that one day they will allow themselves to trust us.

The first storm of the season

“If something is going to go wrong, it WILL go wrong.” This saying is very popular among military spouses. It describes the high probability of things going wrong while your soldier is away. I am no stranger to this weird phenomenon coming true. During my husband’s first deployment, I was in my first car accident, our neighbor’s son accidentally set our four-plex military housing unit on fire, and because of that we all had to move. Did I mention that I was days away from delivering our second child at the time? It’s just one of those things. If things can go wrong, they probably will.

My husband has only been gone a mere 27 days and here are the things that have already “gone wrong.”

1. Our rental property agency in Tennessee called, the house there needs a new deck.
2. Little Man hosed my cell phone, it had a “life proof” box on it, but let’s just say those things may be life proof, but they are NOT Little Man proof. New cell phone needed.
3. Our rental property here in town called, the AC went out.
4. One ER trip with Baby Girl
5. One sick 6 year old with fever
6. One 12 year old with an ear infection
7. One broken lamp
8. One pool with an algae problem

I am exhausted! I am tired of mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, checking the finances, and being the only adult around here! But, you know what? I am so very very blessed! Even in the midst of this God is so good! He is so good to me! Here is why…

1. My husband will be home for block leave in less than a month.
2. Our oldest daughter made the junior high basketball team.
3. We have insurance to pay for those unexpected things that break on our houses.
4. A builder in Tennessee said he can fix our old deck instead of building a new!
5. We have health insurance to pay for the antibiotics needed to cure our daughter’s ear infection.
6. The doctor at the ER took great care of Baby Girl and we have a nebulizer now to take care of Baby Girl’s breathing at home, so we hopefully will not need to visit the ER again anytime soon.
7. My phone was replaced for cheap due to qualifying for an upgrade!
8. I have a little boy who wants to show me everything saying, “Ma, wach!”
9. I have a little girl who runs, arms raised for me to pick her up and cuddle her!
10. I have friends to call when I need help!
11. All five of my perfect blessings are now healthy and well thanks to a God who hears our prayers and heals!
12. My husband is safe, happy, and well trained for his mission.
13. We are all well fed, well clothed, and living in a beautiful house.

Things may go wrong this year. We may have some more “bad luck,” but God is always good! He is in this with me! He will never leave me or forsake me. He has forgiven my every sin and has made me beautiful in His sight. He wants good for me. He has plans for our family that are wonderful and all I need to do is keep seeking Him, serving Him, and loving Him with all my heart!