319 days

319 days… That is how long it has been since Baby Girl and Little Man have seen their mother.

319 goodnights

319 wake-ups

Approximately 2,230 diaper changes (each!)

20 haircuts for Little Man

New words, new silly grins, new teeth, new favorites! So many new things!

I have gotten to enjoy them all! Me! I feel like the luckiest foster mama in the entire world! Why did God pick me? Why did he bless me with getting to raise these babies? Why me? I do not know! Something inside of me says, “this was all meant to be!” Them, us, our family!

I was talking to my soldier last night and he put it best… “Our family just feels complete, if they leave it will feel all wrong!”

But, that is what foster care is… It is a huge risk!

You do it for them. You do it to provide a safe, loving, nurturing environment for little people who, at that moment really need you! And in the process you fall hopelessly in love with little ones who could be ripped away at a moments notice… But you do it anyway. You take that jump, you take that leap, because what choice do you have? If you want to be there for them, you have to not be there for you! I have heard it said that no sane person would ever sign up to be a foster parent and there is some truth to that. Who would do this to themselves on purpose? Who would ride this emotional roller coaster on purpose? Nobody, that’s who!

But, then you take one look at them and you wonder… What would have happened to them if we would have said, “no?”

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Sharing a room

I just walked down the hall to get the laundry from baskets (who am I kidding, it was on the floor) and overheard the sweetest conversation between Middle Girl and Baby Girl.  Middle Girl is 7 years old now and is the best big sister!  She loves Baby Girl so much and is so excited to see her every morning and every day after school!  The girls play well together and slowly, but surely Middle Girl is teaching Baby Girl about all things “girlie.”  Baby Girl is 17 months old and still has not slept through the night completely, so she still sleeps in a crib in my room.  Middle Girl; however is so anxious for the two of them to share a room.

Conversation Overheard:

Middle Girl- “When you are a big girl, like maybe three of four you’re going to come move in with me in my room.”

Baby Girl- “da, ba…boo… ba, da.”

Middle Girl- “We’ll put our beds next to each other and both of us will sleep in here together.”

Baby Gril- “ooo, ba, da, ba.”

My heart swelled with pride at Middle Girl’s willingness to share and then dread filled my heart… should I correct her?  Should I tell her that there is a very real possibility that Baby Girl will not live here long enough to share a room with her?  We’ve always told the big kids that this situation could be for just today or it could be for forever… I’ve made it clear many times, but kids just don’t think like that.  They are sisters.  They always will be, so for now I will let her tell Baby Girl all of her dreams about the future and about sharing a room.

Meeting her…

Next Tuesday, I will be meeting her… the woman who carried my foster babies in her womb, the woman who gave them life. This same woman disappeared last year and has not been around for the past 10 1/2 months. I am scared! I have pre-conceived notions that she is going to hate me! I am so nervous to meet her, to sit in the same room with her as she sees her children for the very first time in almost a year. I have raised her children. I have been there for every hug, every kiss, every nighttime prayer. I have seen first steps, heard first words, and watched them grow! I got to take Little Man to his first day of preschool and Baby Girl has been with me more of her life than anyone else. How will this woman react? Will she strike out in anger? Will there be a scene? How will all of this affect the children? Will they remember her? Will Little Man run to her? Will Baby Girl cry? I do not know…

All I know is that I am in this for the long haul. I cannot get scared. I am doing this for them, for the babies. I will go through whatever it takes to protect them, be the constant in their lives. This is foster care. It is hard. It is gut-wrenchingly painful. It is emotional. It is sad. But, THEY are worth it!

Car Seat stress

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been absolutely terrified to deal with car seats. I don’t like buying car seats! I don’t like putting together car seats! I don’t like washing car seats! I don’t like installing car seats! So, when I knew my soldier would be deploying, I was totally afraid I would have to deal with some sort of car seat drama during the 10 months that he was gone. Before he left I made sure that he washed the car seats and reinstalled them properly again, praying that nothing would make it so I had to take those seats out of the car again before he got back. So, this morning when Baby Girl’s diaper exploded in the car seat I was horrified! I would have to take apart, wash and reassemble this car seat all on my own! Should I take pictures of how it’s put together? Do I need to download a manual from the Internet? Should I call someone to help me with this? I decided that I might be being ridiculous. I took it apart all on my own. I made sure to do it slowly, watching where each piece clicked into place. I washed the seat cover. I dried the seat cover and I put it all back together by myself.

I did it!!! I can’t believe I did it! I feel like such a grown-up! I guess car seats aren’t that scary after all!

The day I met him…

The day I met him, I was 19 years old. We were in college. I was a sorority girl, he was a fraternity boy. I was working and going to school. He had a scholarship. I had NO idea that I was about to meet “the one!” It was April 20, 2000 and I had just gotten off work. I went to visit a friend at his fraternity and there at the top of the back stairway stood the hottest guy I had ever seen! Yes, I admit it… It was his looks that first got my attention. We hung out with a group of friends that first night and pretty much spent every waking minute together after that until the day he left for Basic Training two and a half years later. By then, we were married and had our first daughter.

As I sit here tonight waiting for him to call and trying to relax after spending the day fixing meals, grocery shopping, washing clothes, snuggling babies, helping with math homework, and driving to and from soccer, I think back to that day in 2000. The day when I met him. It was that day that started it all! If you would have told me that night in 2000 that 14 years later I would be raising our 5 children alone while this super cute guy standing next to me spent 10 months serving overseas I would have told you that you were crazy!

I guess this is a bit “crazy!” But, it’s our crazy and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Baby, don’t force it!

I walked into the boy’s room last week to put laundry away and found what used to be their closet doors in such an awkward position that I had no idea how the boys got them that way. I called my oldest son into the room and asked, “what in the world happened here,” pointing to the closet doors. “I don’t know,” he said. I gave him “the look!” He then says to me, “Well, the doors wouldn’t shut, so I just kick them and kicked them and kicked them and then that happened.” It look all that was in me to not burst out laughing! “Um, well you better crawl in there and try to push them back out this way to fix them,” I said, leaving the room. Needless to says, they were not fixed easily and it took a very nice neighbor coming over with tools to put the doors back in working order. Thank goodness for handy neighbors!

Then yesterday, I return home from taking the babies to get their pictures taken and my middle daughter and her best friend greet me at the front door with bright yellow rubber gloves on up to their elbows! “Mom, do NOT go in the back bathroom,” were the words that were squealed as they ran towards the back of the house. “Goodness! What happened,” I asked when I saw the water all over the floor and the overflowing toilet. “Well, I used too much toilet paper,” said my daughter’s best friend, “so we just flushed it and flushed it and flushed it, trying to get it to go down,” added my daughter! This time I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing!

I am really starting to think I need to call a family meeting… The topic for discussion??? When something isn’t working out the way you’d like… Don’t force it!!!

First Day Off

Yay! My soldier gets a day off! It has been 29 days since he stepped foot into a war zone. 29 days of working 15 hours a day. 29 days sleeping in a plywood box. 29 days without adequate rest. 29 days without the comforts of home, without his family, without his bed, but today he gets a day off! Praise The Lord!

Things we love at our house

— Sunny days

— Swimming in our pool

— Playing video games together

— Eating Daddy’s amazing home cookin’

— When family comes to visit

— Having friends over

— Watching movies

— Staying up late

— Playing in the rain

— Going to church as a family

— Singing in the car

— Wearing pajamas all weekend

— Taking vacations together

What we DON’T love… Homework, Monday mornings, our Daddy being thousands of miles away!

Trying to make sense of it all

It’s complicated.  Foster care is just that… complicated.  There are so many people involved and so many ideas from those people as to what should happen.  Then, caught in the middle are these precious children.  Children, who have no voice in what happens to them because they are too young and in the case of our babies, can hardly even speak.  So, “the state” makes the decisions for them.  Then, there are laws… laws that were written to protect these little ones, but often times these same laws do a lot more to protect the adults in these cases rather than the children.

Then, there are the foster parents.  We are the ones in the trenches.  We are the ones who open our homes and our hearts and welcome these precious little ones into our lives.  The night that DHR dropped our babies off at our house, I didn’t ask questions, I didn’t worry about the future, I just held them.  I loved them.  I comforted them and fed them.  It was not until several months in that I started asking questions.  What is going to happen with these two?  What is going on?  Who is going to raise them?  Are they worthy of raising such precious ones?  Do they have what it takes to chase after a one and two year old?  Are they healthy?  Do they have a house that is safe?  Do they want them?  Unfortunately, most of my questions went unanswered.  Months passed and I asked more questions.  What is going on?  When do we go to court again?  What is the plan?  Even fewer answers.

So, here we are at 10 months and 4 days with “our” babies.  We know that we will have them until November.  That is when the “permanency hearing” will take place.  That is when the babies will have been in care for the last 12 months, one year of their lives.  So much has changed.  They are walking, talking, eating different foods.  Little Man goes to preschool.  Baby Girl went from crawling and sitting to running, climbing, and playing independently.  They are completely bonded to our family and yet at any moment can be ripped away from everything that they know and put into a brand new situation.  It just doesn’t seem fair.

So, I sit and I worry and I wonder what I can do and the answer is NOTHING.  I can DO NOTHING.  I cannot do any more than I already am.  I love them, I watch over them, I feed them, and take them to the doctor when they are sick.  I change diapers, wipe noses, and clean up spills.  And, I pray!  I pray to the God who loves these little ones more than I ever could.  He created them and has a plan for their lives.  He has plans to give them a hope and a future.  It says so right in his Word!  I will rely on His promises.  I will trust in His sovereign plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

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Heaven

Tonight we listened to one of the family devotions that my husband recorded for us before he left. It was about heaven. After listening to the devotion, I asked each of the children what they thought about heaven and what they thought it might be like. Here are their thoughts.

Oldest Girl (about to turn 13)
“No stress!”

Oldest Boy (10 years old)
“No sadness and no screaming.”

Middle Girl (7 years old)
“I think it will be all rainbow-ey… Oh and no babies crying!”

Little Man slept through this devotion
(He had a long day) and Baby Girl squealed and giggled hearing daddy’s voice on the computer!

Gosh I love them! So different, yet so wonderful each in their own special way!