Thursday, November 16, 2017

Just a quick life update

So since my last post we've gotten a new person! We have a foster placement right now, I'll just write "M" because I'm not sure legality with names and whatnot and I just need to unload a lot of information from my brain.
      M is a newborn and we picked him up from the hospital. He's now 3 months old. Man it's been challenging. All you foster moms out there who do this over and over, my hat is off to you because this just might be the one that breaks me. We'll see what happens...
        So right now I have 6 kids under the age of 10. I do a preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays and teach for VIPKID from 4:00 - 7:00 am most mornings and some weekend nights. I also sub at my kids school every once in a while. I don't even know what my life is right now. Or why I'm choosing to do so much. But really I'm loving all of it. Preschool is probably the most stressful of all the plates I have spinning. But I keep it pretty low key. Montessori is my style... and by montessori  I mean they pretty much dig a whole in my backyard for 2 hours. But for 30 minutes we have some very high quality letter learning and name spelling practicing. The kids have fun and the parents all seem satisfied, I just always feel like I need to be doing more in this area. Like these parents (my friends!) are paying me money to educate their little ones and I feel that responsibility heavily. That is why it's stressful to me. But I do think I'm putting this on myself because all of them are just grateful for the break from their 3 years old for a while. Or grateful for the friendships that they're making. So it's fine. But I'm hoping to my up my game a bit in the new year.
         So a bit more about M. One day I was chatting with my sister in law on the phone and we were talking about more children and I told her I wanted one more but I don't really want to be pregnant again. I told her how we've been back on the open bed list for a while now but still hadn't gotten a call and I really just wanted someone to call me up and say, "Hey do you want a baby boy?" Fast forward 24 hours and I'm pulling into my driveway and my phone rings. "Hey - do you still want a baby boy?" Uhm, excuse me, who's this? "Oh sorry, this is [so and so] from DCS and we have a newborn baby boy being discharged from the hospital. Are you interested in taking him?" "Oh my gosh yes!"  Of course my conversation with Ruth came back to my mind and I immediately felt like this was just meant to be. I called Aaron and he was like, "Okay don't get too excited. Remember last time?" A few weeks prior we had gotten a call about 2 little boys needing placement and I got all excited, we started to get the bunk beds ready, and a few hours later DCS called back and said they found another home closer to where the boys were. But they were an hour away so I knew they were looking for other placements. With M, no one mentioned anything about any other families. So I ignored Aaron's advice and got very excited. Broke out the baby clothes boxes and pulled out the bassinet. I was so excited and checking my phone every 5 seconds. And a few hours later DCS did call back. "Hi, so they are giving the baby to another foster family."  What? Okay. I was kind of crushed. I try to have faith that everything works out, and I do know that, but this was disappointing. And I could not get this baby out of my mind. I prayed that entire night that something would happen and that this baby would end up with us, if that was Heavenly Father's will. But I couldn't stop thinking about him the whole next day. And then at 10:45 the next morning, I was subbing at the kids' school and I saw the familiar DCS number. I was actually on a little a break so I was able to answer. "Hi, so that other family backed out. Are you still willing to take the baby?" My heart almost lept from my chest. Again I immediately agree. I hardly knew the teachers I was working with but I gushed all that day to anyone who would listen. I was supposed to get a phone call from the hospital social worker but no one ever called. So I just got a babysitter and drove straight to the hospital. I introduced myself and explained no one had called except DCS but I was here for a baby boy, I didn't even know his name. The receptionist looked at me quite suspiciously but then once she spoke to the social worker she looked obviously relieved and they sent me back.
           M had been in the NICU because that is the only place at YRMC that has a nursery. He was 1 week old. The nurses immediately let me know he was really fussy and was the loudest baby there. They used lots of tricks but he almost never stopped crying. He had just settled down and was in his little hospital bassinet when they walked me over. He was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. Barely 5 lbs. The other foster parents had never left the hospital. They couldn't calm him down and the nurses just got a bad feeling about the connection. The parents seemed really stressed and it seemed to make M worse. I scooped him up and loved on him immediately. He looked up at me and just smiled. The one nurse just cried. The social worker was like, "Oh my gosh. This is night and day from the other foster parents." Protocol would have been for me to spend the night at the hospital and have them assess me and my ability to care for this needy newborn properly. But after an hour of watching me with him the nurses were all like, "Lets get you out of here. You obviously got this."
       During that hour I was holding him and he was looking up at me and I just felt like I could talk to him. I prayed that his spirit could hear me. I told him how much I already loved him. That he was safe. That I would keep him safe as long as I could. That I was going to bring him to a home bursting with love for him. I told him I was going to be here for him and I wasn't going anywhere. And he literally sighed, what seemed like relief, and slept peacefully the rest of our time in the hospital. And not once since he's been in our home has he been the inconsolable baby described by the nurses. He's definitely a challenging guy at times, needy, but never inconsolable. He likes to be held, and as long as he's touching me he's usually fine.
      However, he has paternal grandparents in CA that would like to be placement. He also has a maternal aunt in TX who wants to be placement. Paternity is in question, so there might be a different dad and whatever other doors that opens up. So the chances of us adopting him are slim. But, I honestly feel like he is my baby. Even just the other day in the car, Eliza said, "Mom, I don't know why but I just know we are going to adopt M." And I keep telling her that is probably not going to happen. She says she understands, but she also says, "Look just go to the adoption store and tell them, I am adopting this one." And I told her the adoption store might say, "But he has to go live with his family." To which she quickly replied, "WE ARE HIS FAMILY!" And then she covered him in kisses telling him that we are his family.
        We go back to court in January and nothing will likely change between now and then. The families interested in being placement have to do a lot of paperwork and jump through a lot of hoops and it takes a long time. Like up to 6 months. So maybe we'll have him 3 more months at least. It is very crazy to not know at all what will happen. I think that has been the most challenging part. I have literally no idea if I'll have this baby forever, or 3 more months. We could even possibly have him for another year, and then lose him. I have heard of crazier.
         Another challenge with foster care is all the appointments. DCS worker visits. Licensing worker visits. CASA visits. Easter Seals visits. Doctors appointments. And bio parent visits.  Almost every day there is something. Most of this isn't a big deal. His bio parent visits are supervised so someone picks him up and drops him off. The home visits are usually short and sweet. But sometimes I miss my days of not having anything to worry about.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Science please!

Eliza was taking a bath while I was doing my hair and make up.  I was chatting with her, in what I thought was a pleasant conversation.  But she said, "Mom can you be science please?"

"Um be science?  No I don't think I can be science. " I replied, confused.

"Yes you can! Be science!"

"Eliza, I don't think I know what you mean."

"Yes mom.  Be science! You know, like when you don't make any sounds. You don't say anything at all. That is being science!"

At this point I started laughing out loud. "Silence? you mean you want silence? "

"Yes! Silence. ... wait then what is science?"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Funny Eliza

Eliza said two things today that made me think I should write that down before I forget. And I already forgot what the first one was. But the second one...

I was putting her to bed and she was getting all tucked in when she said, "Mom, I am never going to get married."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because whenever I see a boy, he just walks right past me! And I just walk right past him! We don't go on a date... we don't kiss... we just walk right past each other!"

At this point all I could do is laugh. Definitely 3, going on 30.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Okay so I've always heard not to try to better yourself in every category all at once. Just focus on small changes, yadda yadda yadda. I know you have all heard it too. Well the last couple of weeks (week?) I have been in self improvement overload. I'm trying this new diet/cleanse. I'm doing pilates again. I'm Konmari-ing my entire house, and I just got hired to teach at VIPKID. (If you haven't heard of it, it's a company in China that hires native English speakers to teach kids in China English, through video chatting. They have a fun platform, and it's really interactive, and you get all silly and channel your inner YoGabbaGabba personality. At least that's my take on it. I passed the first couple of interviews, now I just need to make my introduction video and I'm all set. I'm seriously so excited about this. If you're interested there is referral bonus program and I would get a little bonus if anyone used my referral link. You do need to have a bachelors, and be willing to work during China's peek time, which is really, really early here. I've heard you don't have to do that early anymore, but if you want a consistent schedule that is the best time. Anyway, if you're interested, here my link: I'm also doing this personal finance class through my church. Oh and my prayers and scripture study have been on point lately too.
        So I guess what I'm saying is, this just diving right in thing has been working really well for me. Maybe I'm going to get burned out super fast, and gain back some weight. Or my house might cluttered again more quickly (she promises no rebound!) And maybe I won't stick to my budget forever. But right now I just feel awesome and so I think it's worth it. And maybe at least one of these areas the improvement will stick. Either way I took an entire van load full of clothes to Goodwill today. And there's no undoing that! All of my kids rooms are sparkling clean today. So if anyone wants to come visit, within the next 72 hours 48 hours 24 hours would be a great time. I vacuumed every nook and cranny. I dusted ceiling fans. I mopped the floor on my hands and knees. The kids all asked if we were moving.
        Another thing, I really love this heatwave. I know everyone is complaining about it. But I love crazy weather forcing me to stay indoors. It doesn't have to be a hurricane or a blizzard. 122 degrees will force me to stay inside just as much. But also leaving me with the option to run and grab pizza for dinner. We've been making the most of our time inside with my cleaning frenzy, and watching lots of Netflix, and making slime, and baking cookies on our dashboard. Eliza cries every time we need to walk from the car to anywhere, but hopefully she gets used to it. We have a few more trips planned to get a break from the heat this summer, and before we know it, it will be Christmas and we'll be enjoying 70 degrees again!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My house is a mess. I am horrible at sticking to routines. Cleaning, exercising, diet... all those good habits that make you a successful adult, I fail miserably at those.

But today I was sitting on my dirty kitchen floor trying to get Nora to walk to me and Eliza came and sat on my lap. And she looked me in the eyes and kissed my cheek and said, "You are the best mommy ever." She tells me this almost daily, and for some reason I usually brush it off. Probably because she also tells me I'm mean, and she doesn't love me anymore almost daily as well. So I just let it all slide off. But for some reason today I heard her. I let it sink in. I realized that to the little person whose opinion matters most (on this particular subject) I am the best. She doesn't care that our floor is dirty, that laundry hardly ever gets put away, and the toys are only in their designated bins 3/365 days a year. It didn't effect my "best mommy ever" standing when I lost my temper, or brushed her hair. She doesn't mind that I waste too much time on Facebook. She sees me, in all my flawed glory, and she loves me relentlessly. Almost suffocatingly. And that's beautiful.

Even Olivia will occasionally declare what a great mom I am. I don't know why I'm writing about this. Maybe because the messy house really is bothering me, and for some reason whenever my kids tell me that I'm "the best" I usually ignore it. Or immediately think that they just want something. But man, I just feel so lucky to be their mom lately.

I realized the other night, when I should have been sleeping but my mind was all over the place, that whenever I'm walking all I do is reach my hand out to my side and almost instantly there is a tiny hand intertwined with mine. More often than not there's a fight for the coveted spot of holding my hand. And more often than not I end up with this weird thing where two kids hold each hand, each getting a couple of fingers to grip onto with their tiny hands. Though I guess it has been a while since Olivia fought to hold my hand. But sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed by all this, I don't stop to appreciate it. So I am now. I'm writing it down so that when they're all grown up and I reach out my hand and there's no one there to hold it, I will have these precious memories. Memories of times when there was almost not enough of me to go around. Memories of being needed (for every.little.thing.). Memories or being snuggled, kissed (elbowed, squished). Memories of being fought over to sit next to on the couch, and making room for everyone. 

 I know this time is fleeting. Olivia is 9. We just repeat her entire life, and she's 18! I started this blog when I was pregnant with her. It really doesn't seem that long ago at all. And time really is speeding up. So I'm making an effort to stop beating myself up about the disorganized messy house, and try to live in the moment with these lovely little people while they're still all so obsessed with me.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Last weekend we went to Tombstone, AZ with Aaron's parents and saw a gun show. A "hilarious gun show" to be exact. And that's not just a joke about my biceps. Honestly the whole experience of Tombstone was definitely a big notch up from what I was expecting. It was a really cute town, and I really adore touristy things. Like if Aaron would let us, I would stop at every tourist trap I see every time we are on the road. So this whole place was really just a giant tourist trap, but definitely worth the trip. Especially after spending a half hour of the drive reading about the history of the town, it made it so much more interesting. Did you know Tombstone was once the largest city west of the Mississippi (aside from San Fransisco)? It's one of the last boomtowns. The whole story is really interesting, and I recommend you read their wikipedia page on your way there, if you ever find yourself traveling in southern Arizona.

These are the only pictures that are on my phone. Aaron took a bunch more. This trip happened only a few days after we got back from the Redwoods. Oh my goodness, it was magical. Heaven on earth, amazing. I loved every second. We went with our good friends, who have NINE kids, and our kids just had a blast. We camped in Humbolt County, and drove up to this touristy thing called Trees of Mystery. It was all so much fun. I documented most of that on facebook, between Aaron and I. Camping is so good for family bonding. Also, we drove the whole way home in one shot. 900 miles. In one day. 5 kids. A minivan. It took almost 14 hours. It was crazy and exhausting, and the last thing I wanted to do 5 days later was drive 250 miles to Tombstone... but we love Grandpa! 

And that's about it. Life is just good lately. I feel incredibly lucky to be living this life. A day doesn't go by that I'm not told that I'm "the best mommy ever", or that I'm not cuddled, kissed, and loved beyond my capacity to comprehend. Not to say there isn't a lot of overwhelming chaos happening all the time as well, but there really is so much good. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

    So my first home school year is winding down and I wanted to record my thoughts. Like my honest, raw, real thoughts. Because I'll be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what they are, so I'm hoping by writing this out maybe I can figure out what I'm feeling.
        First of all, I feel like I've half-assed this whole thing. And I absolutely HATE that. And I wish there was a better word, but I don't think there's an another phrase that so describes how I feel my entire life is right now. I'm half assed at keeping the house clean. But my kid's education shouldn't be half assed. But right now, it honestly is. Or I feel like it is. I mean to plan out their lessons more, but then stuff happens. And sometimes that stuff is Emoji Blitz. Sometimes it's a legit reason, like sick kids or messes or whatever. But too often it's Facebook. Every day I beat myself up, that we just barely made it through the assigned tasks from Connections Academy, sometimes not even that much. We didn't do half of the stuff it told us to do, we only did the "assessment" portion, which they were able to pass, so do they reeeaallly need to do all the lesson stuff if they can pass the test? Is how I justify my behavior. But I want this to end. I want to do more enriching activities. And now with the school year winding down I have a sense of urgency to do these things before the year is over. Because who knows if I'll do this again?
         Last night I found myself wondering if I had a full time job, if it would help me whole-ass my life better. Sometimes I find that when I know I have limited time, I use that time more wisely. So maybe giving myself more to do would somehow help this problem I have. But in reality would I just be half assing another thing? Would I be quarter assing life? And made even worse by screwing up other people's kids in the process? (The jobs I'm looking at are full time teaching jobs.)
          I also thought about starting a preschool. Or a cookie business. I don't know. What do you think, universe? I'm going to get fingerprinted tomorrow to start the process and then decide. I can at least sub once a week. Because I also just need something to do besides mom. I love being a mom and it's literally all I've ever wanted, but I worry I'm not my best self. I don't know. I really don't know. I do find a lot of joy and fulfillment in caring for my children.
           Anyway back to thoughts on homeschooling and my half assedness. I'm going to be better this week. I really am. I have it all planned out. And I love how much time we have together because of homeschooling. I love that we don't have rush out the door in the mornings. I love that Olivia is old enough to be left to babysit for short periods of time, so I can leave my sleeping baby and run to the store up the street real quick, or pick up from preschool. I love that days when Aaron is off we can have time together to do what we want, and that wouldn't happen if they were in traditional school. I love the opportunities we have had to learn things we wouldn't have otherwise. And I absolutely LOVE the other families we have met. Our co-op is amazing. The kids have had made awesome friends, learned so much from some amazing moms who whole ass life a lot better than I do. I think in a lot of ways our relationships have improved. There are still times Olivia and I are yelling at each other over undone schoolwork, and those times I want nothing more than to send her to the nearest public school. I also think as siblings they get along better.
             I worry that they're missing out on "normal" school stuff though. And I worry that  my relaxed attitude about their lessons is going to be detrimental to their overall education. And I worry that Abigail hasn't learned how to spell very well. And that Olivia doesn't really "get" fractions, or have her multiplication facts memorized well enough. We didn't do very many science projects. I let them skip handwriting practice often. I don't have enough of a routine for our day.
          So that's what our first year looks like. And yes I'm literally vacillating between putting my kids in public school and daycare and working at public school... or continuing to homeschool and obviously that means staying home. Total opposite ends of the spectrum. Glad I have time to figure it out.