Showing posts with label foster care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foster care. Show all posts


Educate yourself: Meeting a new foster kid unexpectedly

Before we started our journey into foster care, we were completely clueless to almost all of it. Besides the occasional horror stories or the heroic people with 10-30 kids in and out of their homes throughout their lives, we lived pretty much oblivious to it. 

We knew the basics. Foster care is necessary because there are children that temporarily need a safe place to live, learn, and grow. Got it. But beyond that, we didn't even venture to think about what that world looked like. As we started looking into it, we started to notice it happening around us. There were other people also looking into it. Some of them even had foster children already living with them. Personally, I was fascinated to watch the family dynamics as they figured out how to make life work with a new child that was scared, confused, angry, and just ... new to them. 

And then I hit a wall. You know the wall, where you aren't sure what is appropriate to say, how much you can observe without making them feel awkward, wondering if there is something you can do to help or if you should just pretend like there's nothing different happening. I was so uncomfortable because I was clueless. My gut reaction was to ignore the child and resume life like she wasn't there. Now, looking back, I wish I wouldn't have done that. Sure, we were always in a large group of people so it wasn't super obvious to the child that I, personally, was ignoring her. But remember, if I was feeling like that, almost everyone else in the room was too, and she could feel that. If I had made the point to go to talk to her, I probably would have made it a little easier for her. 

We went through vigorous amounts of training (well, to us it felt vigorous) to get licensed, and then we learned a lot through trial and error because we were living it. But what about when you aren't living it day to day? What about when a friend or family member has a foster child? What then? How do you know what to do or say to this foster child or to the parents? It's hard. I get that. But you can be educated in this. "Who, me?" You ask? YES. You can be educated without having to physically be a foster parent. 

I'm putting together a few posts here that will give you some insight on the average foster care situation. Every situation is different, so discretion is important, but generally, knowing something is better than nothing, right? (This will be a series, so check back periodically for updates.)


Scenario: You run into us (family event, out in public, church, etc) and don't know that we have a foster child, so that in and of itself is surprising. Trying to cover up your embarrassment, you word vomit all over the place (asking us tons of questions is the primary way this happens) or completely ignore the child. I'll address the latter first. 

It seems obvious, but trust me. It isn't as obvious as you'd think when you are feeling the awkwardness. Don't just ignore the child. Yes, you already know our other two kids very well. Yes, they are charming and sweet and don't mind one bit taking all that attention. Yes, the foster kid is quiet and doesn't necessarily seek your attention. Here's the thing, though. It doesn't mean he doesn't want it. It means he is scared, uncomfortable, and a little bewildered. He doesn't know how to introduce himself. He doesn't know if you care even a little bit about him (and yes, you really may not care about him at this point, but he doesn't need to know that. Please don't make it so obvious). All he knows is that you know and love the family he is staying with. Note that I said "staying with" instead of "his". He is painfully aware that this family he's with is not his family. When he is treated differently than our other kids, it just rubs it in. You may not purposefully try to treat him differently. We know that, and we are not judging you for feeling awkward!

How you proceed at this point is so important. Here are a few tips. Instead of nervously laughing and brushing the kid off, nervously laugh and get down to the kid's level. Seriously. Get down and look him in the eyes. Say something like this, "Well I don't think I've met you yet! What is your name? How old are you? Aren't you sweet? I'm so glad you are here!"

That's it! Next time you see us, you can pick up where you left off, "Well hey there ____! Glad you are here! (see the theme?) Can you pound it? (fist pump, high five, whatever)" You see? That's the same thing you say to our other kids at this point. You've met them, it's not strange anymore. It's just that initial meeting that is awkward. Like I said, we get that. We've been there ourselves. There is no judgement here, just more information and tips to overcome it.

The other side of this scenario is what you say to us, the foster parents. You have questions. You are confused and don't have any clue what to ask. Biggest tip I can say and I stress this sooooo much: Filter what you ask in front of the foster kid! Discretion is key here. This kid is listening to everything trying to fill in the blanks to what he knows and doesn't know. He may think we aren't telling him everything, so he's listening extra close even when we think he's not.

What is appropriate to ask in front of the child: How long has he been living with you? Is he going to school? What does he enjoy doing (hobbies or interests)?

And that's about it. You see, most of the information you want to know isn't able to be worded in a way that won't possibly hurt the child. 

Here are a few examples of what you shouldn't ask: 

  • Oh! Is here a foster kid? (The words "foster kid" pick up a negative connotation over time unfortunately. It just points how his differences. It's better to just stick with asking what his name is and how long he's been with us.) 
  • How long will he be with you? (We rarely know and he's wondering too so if we give you a time frame and it's wrong, he could be devastated and we wouldn't even realize that he had overheard that information.) 
  • Do you know why he's in foster care? (Do you want us to explain to you in front of him how his parents made mistakes? Would you like us to shame talk the people he loves the most?) 
  • How's it going? (Would you like me to tell you in front of him how hard it's been on us? Would you like for us to share his every emotion and struggle since joining us?) 

Also, if there is something you can see physically that is different about the kid, let's not bring it up in front of him, ok? To put this into context, let's say that you had no ears. How do you think you'd feel if every single time you ran into someone new, they pointed that out? How would you feel if they kind of made a face of surprise and maybe frowned a little too? Wouldn't that be shameful? Well, children feel those same feelings. It's better to just ignore your curiosity. Google can be your friend. Fill that curiosity on your own instead of at the expense of the kid. If it really really bothers you, shoot me a text or email. I don't mind informing you on basic things, but the kid doesn't need to be present or listening to every little thing. If you do this, though, don't be offended if I don't answer every single thing you ask. You can ask anything you want (out of the ear range of the kid) but I won't necessarily answer every question. Which leads me to my next point.

Some of it truly isn't any of your business. I know that sounds curt and rude. Look at it from his family's point of view, though. This is their child. You, a complete stranger to them, are asking questions about their health, mental well being, parenting abilities, etc, only to fill your curiosity. It sounds familiar, doesn't it? ... kind of like gossip? It's incredibly hard for us as the foster parents to filter what we are sharing with those around us. I know you have good intentions. You care about us and want to understand it more. Hey, I am the same way! It's hard to just take the information given and not dig for more. I urge you, though, to stop digging. It's hard for us to say, "That's between us, his family, and the social workers" without feeling like we are putting you out. But honestly, it's just the reality. I would rather offend you than say something that would hurt this child already hurting quite a bit. Does that make sense? Instead of saying, "Well his parents did this and this and this" I'd rather say "That's private information." It's his life, not a soap opera. 

As harsh as that sounds, it's what we are faced with every single time we run into someone that hasn't met him yet. As uncomfortable as you feel, we are even more uncomfortable anticipating the damage control we will have to do for the kid if he's treated poorly or differently. 

Rereading this, I know it sounds harsh. The truth is, we love to talk about it with you all. It's a huge deal to us to be able to answer questions you have about foster care and give you some insight on what it is really like. Please don't hold back your curiosity about foster care just because you read this post and feel like you have overstepped in the past. In all seriousness, I'm writing this to help you understand and relate to us and the foster kid, not to shame you or make you uncomfortable.

{If any of this resonated with you, educated you, or changed the way you felt or thought about it, please share this post! I don't care if people read my blog regularly, but if reading this post can help someone handle it better, I will shamelessly self promote. :) }


Foster Care Knowledge

I've learned a thing or two about foster care. This may be the only post I write about this, or it may be more like a series. One thing I really want you to know: Please ask me questions if you think of something! I am so so open to talking about it. There are things that have to be kept private for his and his bio family's sake, but our side of it is ours to tell. If you have questions or just want to discuss something, please don't hesitate. Shoot me a a comment, email, text, call, or ask me in person. I think it's important for people to be aware of the ups and downs that go with it. Being educated about foster care doesn't seem to be the norm, so if I can help with that even a little, I'm happy to. 

1. Nothing happens as fast as you want it to. Most kids come into the system with emotional and/or physical issues to work out and therapy is often needed. There are resources from a lot of different areas (state, medical, county, etc) but each one is set up differently and it can be messy getting it all set up. We're over two months in and still haven't had any of those be successfully set up or started. On top of that, we aren't really the ones who do any of it, so we have no idea what is going. Which leads me to my next point.

2. There are a lot of communication barriers or issues that are out of our hands. I have had to personally call and ask what feel like ridiculous questions to get answers I assumed were obvious to give me. Generally, I've learned that if I don't ask, I won't find out. I have heard that it depends on who you are working with in the system, but my general experience is that nobody thinks that the foster parents need to know anything. I mean, we're only raising this child practically on our own, right? This child that we just met that has baggage and a personality and a heart that is probably very fragile? Why would we need to know things like what his or her life was like before? Or what is going on now? Or how long he or she will be here? This kind of information is not a guarantee. On top of all of that, because the foster parent is not the legal guardian, the schools, counselors, and doctors don't want to disclose any information, even if it is something that is vital for the foster parent to know while interacting with the child. There is always a middle man or woman. Always.

2. People don't always react the way you'd expect them to. I've been shocked a handful of times by who is warm and welcoming towards him and who is not at all. I've learned to not expect anything positive, as depressing as that sounds. When a negative reaction is what we are left to deal with, I spend about 95% of the time doing damage control. I don't think people realize that he has feelings and that he can pick up on the nonverbal communication a whole lot more than anybody would expect. As soon as I feel that hesitancy, that cold vibe or stare from someone, I try to immediately divert his attention or keep him as close to me as possible. My efforts only go so far, though, because he is as receptive to all of it as I am. It is so hard to be in those situations. In once sense, I don't blame the person who is acting cold towards him, because it is the unknown and he or she is most likely very uncomfortable. That being said, it isn't acceptable to treat a child negatively just because you are uncomfortable. Let me say that again, slightly rephrased. It is not acceptable to treat a child differently or coolly just because you are uncomfortable

3. There will be streaks of good days and then the worst days ever all back to back. Just when I think we've got this down and we are in a good place, things get so, so bad. It isn't just with our lfb. Sometimes he's just an angel and it's one of the girls pushing every button or going through something difficult. Just when I think I can't do it anymore and maybe this isn't right for us and blah blah blah, the next day will be amazing. And so will the day after that, and the day after that. Life is so unpredictable and it can be tiring. The roller coaster we are on is what pushes us to really keep leaning on Jesus. For real. 

4. Each child is completely different, no matter how many similarities they may seem to have. Having a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a 1 year old all under the same roof leads to unintentional comparing and I have had to really watch myself when it comes to expectations. As parents of young kids, we're constantly being told to teach the ABC's, counting, independent skills like getting dressed, feeding themselves, etc. Each kid learns these things at different paces and it doesn't mean that one is smarter or brighter than the other. This one can be tough when it comes to other people's observations. It's easy to make assumptions based on one or two interactions, but honestly, assumptions don't mean jack. It's frustrating to hear people give their "very educated" opinion like they just know more about this kid than we do. Maybe part of it is that I'm constantly saying, "we don't know because we are still getting to know him," that maybe that provides an invitation to tell me about this kid, even though they have spent less than 5 hours total with the lfb. I know I sound sarcastic and sassy, but it is a problem we run into on a semi-regular basis. It pushes buttons.

5. A child can work his way into your heart without you even knowing it. Let's be honest here. It's hard to love a kid that you don't know at all. Sure, sympathy is there. Empathy is there. Compassion is there. Jesus is there, along with his love. But my own love? That isn't something that I can turn on and off like a light switch. It takes time to love someone that you've just met. I've always known this, but it is even more evident now. There are many different ways to love someone. I have no name for the type of love I have for this lfb, but it is there. He is a sweet, smiley (for those of you that have known him but haven't spent a ton of time with him yet, I bet that one surprises you! :)), goofy, quiet, loud, hesitant, brave and complex boy. We haven't a clue what the future will hold with him and with us, but at this point, I'm so thankful that he is in our lives.


Being tested

I'm going to be frank. We've had a tough couple of weeks. Fostering a new kid is not entirely to blame, although we've had challenges with that too (I'll get to that). We've been hit with illness and an overbooked schedule. On top of that, we have a toddler who is testing limits left and right and a baby (really, she's one now, she's kind of a toddler, gulp!) that is teething, clingy, and crabby 80% of the time.

But back to fostering. Man, it's been interesting. I've learned so many things in just 3 1/2 weeks. Hubby and I have had some huge discussions and realizations. We've gone around and around on why we are doing this, the impact it has on our lives, our children, our extended families, our friends. It affects so many things, this decision to foster a child. There have been times where I've been overcome with guilt because I feel like we are burdening those around us with something that we chose to do. does that make sense? Yet we can't do it entirely on our own. It's just not possible. Our little FB (foster boy) is doing  pretty great. He's adjusting well and gets along great with the girls. It's a handful with two kids that are about the same mental age (around three years) and another following right behind them, but honestly that hasn't added a crazy amount of stress. It's the schedule. Oh that schedule.

I took on an accompanying commitment for a local high school, just for one event but with a bunch of rehearsals. I had no idea we'd  have a long term placement. It seemed fun, challenging, and entirely doable when I said "yes" to it. Now, it seems overwhelming and burdensome. I don't regret doing it because I love getting to work with these students, but I won't lie that I am ready to be done with it. Except when I'm done, we'll be halfway through the Christmas season and I don't want to rush it. That's been keeping me in the moment, the realization that if I wish away this time, we miss my favorite time of year: Christmas season. So I try to make every day fun for the kids (rarely happens but I do try) and as enjoyable as possible for hubby and myself (still stressful, but we try to control the stress levels as much as we can). 

We agreed to host a big event for our small group and a bunch of international families. We love opening our home up to guests so it was a no brainer. We also had one side of our family's Thanksgiving and Audrey's birthday in the same week. When it rains it pours with hosting in this house. One thing after another. 

We'll be gone for Thanksgiving (and Christmas) and I have a piano recital in a couple of weeks with normal lesson and probably a few make up lessons thrown in up until then. Hubby is trying to stay as busy as he can before slow winter season kicks in, so he's in and out and not entirely reliable for childcare unless carefully planned out. 

I do believe we're being tested. We are doing something that God wants us to do. I have no doubt in my mind that we are called to this. This child, this little boy. However it ends up, however long he is here, he is with our family right now for a reason. We don't regret it. But this doesn't mean that we aren't being tested. God does allow for us to be tested. He isn't the tester, but he does allow it to happen. The only thing we can do (besides just giving up altogether) is to turn straight into His arms and hold on for dear life.

Lest you think I'm complaining, I want to end on a good note.

I'm thankful for our house, perfect for hosting huge amounts of people. 
I'm thankful for our flexibility, especially on the kids' ends. They are champs. 
I'm thankful for our friends and family that are supportive and helpful. 
I'm thankful for these children that challenge me every day but also make me smile and laugh all the time. 
I'm thankful for nap time and bed time. 
I'm thankful for this chilly weather that allows me to bundle up in my favorite outdoor accessories.
I'm thankful for coffee, diet coke (haven't kicked that habit yet), and a healthy body. I'm tired all the time but can you imagine how I'd be if I wasn't physically healthy? Yikes.
I'm thankful for my Savior that keeps me going even when I feel like I can't go on.
I'm thankful for this life of mine.


Yet another transition

Last weekend was tough. We did respite care for two little kiddos that were the same ages as our girls. To avoid turning this post into a novel, I'll just say that we quickly learned what our limits were and were out of our comfort zones the whole time. Having four kids under three, even for just two days, was way too much.

We also learned that having another girl the same age as Josie really threw her for a loop. She did not handle it well and we paid the price for it with her actions and attitudes all weekend. There were many tantrums, bedtime was insane awful, and she just didn't act like her sweet self.

So we learn from it and move on.

To say we weren't exactly excited for our next placement would be an understatement. Neither of us felt that we had the strength or stamina for another challenge so immediately following the weekend and yet we learned that the county had gotten custody of eleven kids in just three days.

On Monday, we got a 3 1/2 year old boy. We were (and are) worried about the lack of age gap between him and Josie but thankfully she's doing well. He's very quiet and plays well with the girls. I think that being the youngest of six kids has taught him to get along with just about anyone.

That being said, my next concern is how to give my girl Josie enough of my time while still parenting this scared boy and an almost walking almost one year old.

Its a tough thing to balance and something I will never fully master.

Thank you for your prayers as we transition into a family of five for the next (?) little while. We truly are relying on God's strength as we don't have much of own left.



I've been praying for patience, more so lately than usual. Don't be too impressed. My prayer life is not what it should be. Josie and I have been butting heads the last week or so much more than usual. She's practicing her independence without giving me and what I expect or desire from her a second thought. Time outs, raised voices, and angry looks are happening too often around here and I'm not proud of myself at all.

So, I pray for patience. And God is so good. When I thought that I couldn't do it, He did it for me. When she wriggled and screamed and did everything under the sun to avoid nap time, I calmly sat next to her with one arm across her chest, reminding her that she needed to rest and that I would not leave until she was sleeping. No matter what she threw at me, figuratively and literally, I kept calm. 

You see, bedtime/nap time is when I am the weakest. I lose my patience more so at these times of day than any other. I fail more times than I succeed, and I always leave her room feeling like the worst parent in the world.

But this particular day, Josie fell asleep, I had a few moments of quiet, and the day continued. That moment was so good for me as a parent. To see God work through me, immediately following prayer (and during, I did silently pray over her while she cried for at least half of the time I sat with her) reassured me that I am not alone in this parenting thing.

I've known this, that I'm not alone. I don't always feel alone. But every once in a while, my emotions get the best of me (what mother hasn't experienced this?) and I want to cry out for someone, anyone, to understand how hard this can be, to keep me company, to just be here. 

So that moment was truly a wonderful answer to prayer.

And then, because He always pushes us to truly rely on him, he sent me two more babies to take care of almost all by myself this weekend.

We're doing respite care today and tomorrow for a girl that is Josie's age and a boy that is Audrey's age. It's like having two sets of twins, except that I don't know these two like I know my own kids, so it's a lot more of guessing and hovering to make sure there are kind words and hands. 

I don't think, no, I know that I could not do this on my own all the time. Four kids under three? Two that have come from a struggling home and have a bit of behavior to show from that? I have hardly sat down yet and the day has just begun. 

Today, this nap time is so very sweet. I have failed already today with my temper, patience, tone and volume of voice, but I have also relied on Jesus to get me through numerous moments throughout the day. He gives me strength when I just

All four kids are sleeping (thank you Lord!) and I am catching my breath.

The fun will start again soon, I'm sure.


Fostering short term

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind this week.

I have to admit, I have questioned God a bit. More than a bit. (A bunch?)

On Tuesday night, we picked up a sweet 3 1/2 year old girl. She's leaving tomorrow (Friday) morning. Just like that. Our shortest yet. Honestly, it hurts and I'm doing every single thing I can to avoid a bitter heart and attitude. I have no expectations when it comes to "long term" stays. I don't have a preference whether it is two months, six months, or two years. We are not doing this for us

It's just hard to feel like we are helping these kids when we are basically glorified baby sitters. Only having them for a week (or less as is the case this time) doesn't give us hardly any time to get to know them, let alone share Jesus with them. (No, we don't immediately start "evangelizing them." That is not the approach we take with sharing our faith with others. We pray that our daily lives, routines, prayers, and faith can make an impact and trust that God will shine through us. Especially when it is short term.)

Really, I know that we have to trust God, that he has a plan and that no matter how long or short the stay is, anything is possible. We more than likely will never know what impact we have made on any of these kids, but again, we don't do this for ourselves.

It doesn't stop me from being frustrated and discouraged. It's going to be hard to say good bye to this sweet girl tomorrow. I pray our hearts can heal and be ready for the next kiddo that comes our way, because there will be a next one. We're not done here yet.


Catch up

We said good bye to our foster girl on Tuesday. She moved on to a better suited home (closer to school among other things) and we all feel a little off. It's crazy how just seven days can create a new normal. 

God blessed us with her, of that I'm sure. She came to us at a great time although it may not have seemed like it on the surface. We are in a rough season with hubby working out of town for an extended period of time, living in a new house (although fun, the novelty is wearing off and we are trying to just make it work while we figure out what needs to be done next), me having a foot injury (more on that in a bit) and the throes of toddler hood. On the surface, it doesn't look that tough, but it's just the right combo to make me feel a little off.

Then we get a call for a foster kid that is way over our age range (11, when we are licensed for 0-7) yet I felt totally at peace saying yes. And? It was great. She was helpful, sweet, talkative, and funny. We had some serious talks and a lot of good conversation, and we got to see things from her perspective, which was refreshing. 

We had prayed that God would show us if we should continue foster care with our next kid, and that he did. Now we are praying for direction with the age limitations. Should we be opening our home to older kids instead of younger kids? Do we just broaden it? Was this a once in a lifetime thing and all other preteens would be totally different? We know that all kids are different, which makes it so hard to "plan" anything with foster care. Then there is the fact that we really aren't that much older than them. I mean, if I would have had this girl myself, I would have only been 15. Possible, but unlikely. If we took an older kid, that gap would be even smaller. 

So for now we sit back, pray, and wait to see what happens. We aren't in control, so why pretend that we have decisions to make?

Jo's new shoes that actually kind of fit, after ordering a pair online that ended up too big (now in her closet just waiting for their shining moment...probably over a year from now).

It's been three weeks since I went to the doctor for my foot. I've been faithfully wearing a walking boot even though it's driving me crazy, and I was excited to see the improvement once I took it off. Instead, I was painfully aware that my foot still hurt just as much as before. Discouraged, I talked to a friend last night that is a physical therapist. Maybe there is scar tissue, maybe it isn't quite healed, and maybe I'm just feeling some pain from the muscles sitting unused for three weeks. For now, I'm applying a heating pad and wearing the brace off and on, depending on how I feel. 

Why didn't I go back to the doctor? When they did the Xray, the doctor couldn't see anything, so he was more or less guessing on what it was. I do think he was right, after all that is the conclusion that I had, my friend the PT had, and my chiropractor had. But what I gathered from our little discussion is that after I wore the walking boot, he would determine if it was healed by what I said, not by anything he could see or do. Our deductible is very high, so I chose to not go back to him until I have a better understanding of how it is doing. I didn't think it was worth it to go back, have him ask me how it felt, me tell him it still hurt, and him to tell me to keep wearing it for three more weeks. 

I'll probably go back if it doesn't improve, but for now I'm planning on waiting it out while being cautious and taking the precautions I listed above.

Our house is lovely. It's comfortable for us and we seem to fit it nicely. We are learning new things here and there about it (it really is like making a new friend) and sometimes the list of things to do seems completely overwhelming. Part of that is that with  hubby being gone, what I can do and what I need his help/opinion for gets muddy and the list gets long. Some things seem like they need to be done right!now! but in reality are not that important (I'm looking at you, towel rods and loops in the bathrooms). Some things are very important but not logistically possible (ah hem, fence in the backyard). Sitting back and doing nothing feels so wrong, but it's my only option as I hop around on one good foot and still manage to chase around two babies. There isn't a lot of time left over let alone ambition or skill (if I'm being honest, I'm no carpenter). It's a good lesson in patience.

Weight loss has basically plateaued. My head's not in it, like I said last week,and I've let another week slip by without doing anything to change it. Loneliness at night without hubby here leads to me ruining a good day. Every day. I end up eating something, whether it is healthy or not, that I just don't need. Old habits live on, and I'm definitely not taking the steps to change it. I need to stop making excuses because never will there be a perfect time to make the changes and see results. There are always obstacles and hurdles to overcome.

As down as I sound, I am loving this time of year. It's so beautiful outside, and while we are not enjoying it as much as I would like, the times we are out and about are wonderful. We had so much fun at the lake, fishing, swimming, playing outside, walking around (limited for me, but still wonderful). Family time was fun, the weather was pretty great (although it was pretty Fall-like for being the end of August). I'm so thankful for weekends like that. I love looking outside and seeing signs of Fall. I just get filled with excitement. One of these days I am going to decorate for Fall but the motivation is not quite there yet. Maybe if my foot starts feeling better, I'll start craving activity like that again. One can hope, right?

Hey, it's Thursday! That's good news. The weekend is almost here, we're just about through with this strange week. Anything big planned for this weekend?

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The funk is gone, the changes keep coming

I think I am safely out of the self proclaimed rut I was in for a couple of weeks. Seriously, it wasn't pretty. I spent a lot of time sitting around, partly because my foot is in a boot so I needed to rest it and partly because I just didn't feel like doing anything.

Moving is so exciting, but then there is that period of time after you get all of the obvious things put away and in place. You know what I'm talking about. When the only things left to unpack are so random that they don't have logical homes and you have to really thing about it, try different places, and decided what to keep, buy, and throw away. It can be overwhelming. It's also not really that fun. I love organizing spaces. I think it is one of those under appreciated loves of life. But sometimes it's just not fun, and that was what I was stuck with last week. I didn't want to do it because I knew I'd either have to do it again sooner or later or it didn't have a logical place and I knew it'd drive me crazy. 

On top of that, walking around is just not fun. This boot is driving me crazy, and I have ripped it off a couple of times just to let my foot breathe. The 90+ temps combined with the feeling of wearing a winter boot all day makes me ornery but thankfully that's just once in a while and not all of the time. 

Single parenting. Not my favorite. I'm crazy impressed with parents that do this full-time and am so thankful to have my hubby when he can be here. We're doing okay, but we are more in survival mode than thriving mode and I don't want to stay in this place for too long.

I ordered a preschool curriculum guide to do with Josie to keep us focused and on a regular schedule this year. I'm so excited to start! It's called ABC Jesus Loves Me. It's Christ centered, has room for flexibility with the activities, and is easy to adapt if we need more or less time. I love that it is on a weekly schedule so that you don't have to try to get XYandZ done each day. Check it out if you want to understand more. I have high hopes for this one.

We have our second foster kiddo staying with us this week. It's not looking like a long stay, which bums me out a little. We were hesitant after our first foster kid because we didn't feel that we clicked with him. You can read more about that here. We both felt certain that God was not saying that we were done with this yet, so we left the door open to it and continued living our lives. 

Our foster kid is 11. That is a lot older than we were/are comfortable with! I'm fairly certain that if my hubby was here, he'd be panicking since he has zero experience with preteen girls. I, on the other hand, have really clicked with her and am enjoying having someone a little older around to talk with and keep me company. She's helpful and loves reading. The little girl in me jumped for joy when she wanted to go to the library to get a few books for the week. Not just silly books, either, but good books that I so hope my girls will want to read someday. 

But like I said earlier, it won't be a long stay. She's pretty far away from school and it makes it hard on the social worker and me to get her there and back each day so more than likely she'll be leaving us. I'm so thankful that God has given me this gift though. Having her stay with us even for a little while has shown me that we can do this. Each child is different, it will never be exactly the same. Anticipating the unknown, dreading it, just makes it worse, and we can't do anything about it until it is here. 

More and more, I am learning to give the gift of hospitality, of sharing our home, our lives. It's a work in progress, but so so good. It's one of the best ways we can serve the Lord in this season of babies and busy work schedules.

For now, I am enjoying my new found motivation, company of a preteen, toddler being less crabby and mischievous, and baby being on the other side of teething. Life is good (but my hubby can come back any time of course).

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Foster care update, lessons, confession, and 3/7

Scary thought of the day: I've started prepping for my little piano studio to start for the fall season. Fall season!! I have a new schedule and have started the process of setting up lesson times with my current students (how silly is it that my heart skips a little at the thought of seeing them again? Funny how one can love random children so so much.) and have even been contacted to start up lessons with a new student. This may seem like a no brainer, but I had no plans of adding more students and therefore more time each week to lessons this year since we are still licensed for foster care and that could happen any time. I worked semi-hard to get my name out there when I started giving lessons and got the number of students I wanted. Now that I'm not trying, I've had more than one person interested. Who knew? Word of mouth is great.

Speaking of foster care, we are in such a weird place of limbo right now. We have hardly had any calls for placements this summer, but the few we have had wouldn't work for us (too many kids that wouldn't have a bed here let alone room in our car, we're out of town when they call, etc). Now we're weeks away from moving so we don't feel right about bringing a scared child into our home that is in a chaotic upheaval. Am I being paranoid? Could a kid thrive in that environment? I just feel like it's too crazy for that. After we move, we have to have our license basically renewed or amended for our new home. There's a wee bit of pressure to get everything in place, knowing that a stranger is coming to judge if it's child-safe or not!

We've been "away" from the foster care world for a couple of months, and I have to admit, my heart doesn't feel as in it as it did when we were newly licensed, fresh off the classes, motivated and ready for any challenge. It would really rock our worlds to get a placement right now. I am in no way saying we wouldn't do it (after we move, not right this second), but it would definitely be a huge adjustment, mentally and physically. I really do wonder what God's plan is in this. Not knowing is good for us, but I have to watch myself to avoid getting anxious.

Because sometimes you just need a picture to brighten up a Wednesday morn'  post.
Confession. I threw a baby shower two weeks ago and haven't taken down the decorations. They were cute. Nothing too fancy but I loooved the pop of color with the balloons and our house is already crazy with the moving prep so who cares if there are a few balloons and banners on the walls? I may or may not look a little looney with it up all the time though...



I'm getting my inspiration to post every day from Jennifer over at Conversion Diary.There are a bunch of other bloggers linking up so feel free to read those too!

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A little Update

It's been quiet over here on this little blog. Having three kids in our house  has created a lot of chaos and adjustment and we are definitely being stretched in more ways than we are used to. 

Hubby heard someone describe it, "Our parenting has gone from one on one to zone defense" and that is exactly what it feels like! Having three kids around is definitely busier. It helps, though, that the newest child is also the oldest because he has been much more reliable than a newborn would be. He is able to do a lot of things on his own when I am too busy to help him with something (put his shoes on, eat his food, use the bathroom, etc) and while he has his needs that are different than the girls' needs, we are figuring it out. 

I'm finding myself unable to put into words what I would like to express here because of the privacy concerns with foster kids. It will be an adjustment for me as I'm used to sharing anything I feel like. It's hard for me to separate experiences with my kids (that I can share) and the experiences that include our foster child. Bear with me, I'll hopefully figure it out more and more as time goes on.

One thing I do know for sure, though, is that being busy like this is not such a bad thing. Yes, I'm completely exhausted by the end of the day (who am I kidding, by midday most days) but I have purpose and I know that I am following God's will, which is really what is important. I have no idea what the future holds for us with foster care (sound like a broken record yet?) but for now, I'm thankful to have heard His calling and for answering it.

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The first

We have a foster child living with us! It was last minute (which wasn't surprising) and has gone extremely well all things considered. He's a he and is five years old and has been great with the girls. Josie is already smitten. She follows him around and loves that he will let her play with him. She echoes him and grins at me from across the room. It's so sweet. Thankfully, he enjoys her company and is willing to put up with her selfish toddler ways.

It's a huge adjustment, but not in the way I expected. I have no idea how to entertain a five year old and a boy for that matter. We have a bunch of girl toys but they are much more appropriate for girls and kids two and under. I don't know what is normal when it comes to things like bathing, using the bathroom, changing clothes, etc. I'm so thankful to have a husband to help me out of those awkward situations.

Another difference is that sometimes there is more "down time" for me because the kids can actually play together. On the other hand, five year olds talk a lot more. I swear my ears are ringing. I've answered more questions today than I have ever answered before. Seriously. The kid's curious. 

I'm so glad to be doing this. I know this is the honeymoon stage, and that we have no answers to our many (many!) questions, but today, this first full day as a family of five (temporary as it is) was a good day. A day that I am truly thankful for.

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The Next Step

We've had a lot of major changes in the last year. I got pregnant with our second child, quit my job, started a piano studio, had a baby, said good bye to our dear Buckley, and grew our (my hubby's) business to be just about twice as busy. With all of that, we still felt a calling from God to add one more major change. We just finished the steps required and are now licensed to do foster care. 

It's something that has been on my heart for a while. I have acquaintances that have recently had foster children, I have come across (purely by accident) a few blogs that were either starting the journey or right in the midst of it. I heard about it more and more through social media and the news. Really, it was right in my face. I felt the familiar nudge of God pointing me towards something, but fear kept me from going after it aggressively for a relatively long time. My biggest fear was bringing this up to my hubby. He loves our kids but isn't what he would refer to as a "kid person." He's never been drawn to other people's kids and didn't feel like he would be good at it. I've learned since we started this process that it is very common for men to feel this way, and that gave me more confidence to continue looking into it.

The process is not simple, although it's not too crazy either. We had to do background checks, get our fingerprints taken, do a home study to make sure we have a safe house, have three references, get interviewed multiple times by a social worker, and then take 24 hours of educational classes. The classes were the most time consuming and took place over three Saturdays. I'm thankful for them, though, because they answered a lot of our questions and addressed a lot of our fears, some that we didn't even know we had. 

Although I did not mention it publicly via Facebook or this blog, we have been talking about it with different people in our lives. It's interesting to see the different responses, most  filled with caution. People have heard horror stories and are quick to pass them on to us to "rescue us" from a bad decision. Others are concerned that we will neglect our children or have our marriage disintegrate. While frustrating to hear, they are valid concerns because these things do happen. I'm most thankful for those in our lives that have been supportive from the very beginning. We have numerous people that have already voiced their willingness to help out when needed and be prayer warriors for us. Occasionally we do hear people say things like "wow that is so great of you!" or "You are amazing for saving those kids!" I promise you, that just makes us feel uncomfortable as we know that we are not any more special than anyone else but are just following what God is calling us to do. Also, from what we have heard, these kids will most likely be huge blessings to us, so "saving them" just doesn't sound right to us. Whew. I'll get off of my soap box now.

Within 24 hours of getting the call that we were officially licensed, we were contacted about a potential child needing a home. I scrambled around the bedroom we have started preparing trying my hardest to get it warm and comfortable for a scared and confused child that would be coming to live with us for a while. There's nothing like last minute news to get this procrastinator moving! I had the entire room cleaned up with the bed made and the drawers empty in about two hours. That particular child did not end up staying with us, but getting the call got me moving to get those loose ends wrapped up. Now at least the room is closer to ready. 

The very beginning of the process: new bedding. I'll post more pictures as the room comes together. It was previously filled with boxes of books, sleeping bags, Christmas decorations, Christmas wrapping paper and supplies, a guest bed, all of my grandmother's paintings, and more (if you can even imagine that being possible). We managed to relocate most of that stuff and the room is cleared out for the most part. Now the problem is that it feels so cold and bare. Definitely a work in progress!

The next day, we got another call. When I talked to my hubby about it, we talked about how ridiculous and sad it is that within such a short period of time, we'd already had two calls. How can there be that many kids that need to get out of a bad situation quickly? We had no idea that it was going to be that quick. The seriousness of what we were doing really hit us then. These kids need a safe home, someone they can trust, someone that can show them Jesus. It's no small thing, and we pray that God is working on our hearts to prepare us for this. (That placement also did not happen. It's a good thing when the placements don't happen because it means that the are either safe at their home (hooray!) or that they have a better home for them already like a relative or someone they know.)

It will be a journey, that's for sure. For privacy reasons, we aren't allowed to share anything about the child or children that we have stay with us. There won't be pictures on here with the child in them and I won't be talking much about him or her. I won't stop blogging of course, but that part of my life will not be public. I'm open to discussing the process of foster parenting. Please let me know if you have any questions! 

We hope you will join our "team" by praying along side us. We're cautiously excited to see what God has in store for us.

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