Saturday, December 30, 2017
Here's some things that really suck about being a foster parent:
My voice feeling like the least important, even though I feel like this baby is a literal part of me. I have fed him every 4 hours, around the clock, for the last 4.5 months. I have bathed him every night, soothed every cry, changed every diaper, and kissed his little cheeks more times than necessary. But when we sit in court I am not even part of either team. I sit in the back. All of these people who have done their obligatory monthly visits, and many who have never even met the baby, tell the judge their case. And in an apparent afterthought when everyone else has spoken their part, I am asked, "Does placement have anything to add?" "Placement"... not even foster mother or mom. And I just feel like I'm not an important voice in the process, when I feel like I should be one of the most important voices.
There are also super annoying things that have to be done, like he's outgrowing the bassinet and so it's time to move him to the crib. Only, in the back of my head I really don't want to set up the crib, because there are 2 ICPC's in process (family out of state) that can take him any time, and I think it will just be so hard to take that crib back down. So we put him the pack and play and he's been doing great in it. And then I was informed today that he can't sleep in a pack and play and needs to be in an actual crib. And I don't know why, I guess it's just knowing we can lose him anytime that makes me really not want to set it all up. And I know you go into foster care knowing this is the goal. Reunification is always the plan, always the goal, and if things happen to stop that, then it is not really a "good" thing. Someone is losing their child, even if we're gaining one. The whole thing is lose/lose and that just sucks. So yeah, the fact that it's against the rules for him to be in a pack and play is annoying. And then there's a million other little things, like staking down the swing set, and having a fire extinguisher on each floor and stuff that we should probably have/do anyway, but just annoying to be held to such a ridiculously high standard.
I also hate how long this process can be dragged out. Technically his parents should only have 6 months since he's under 3. But his parents are doing just enough that I'm sure the judge will give them more time. Because they're not doing enough to get him back yet, but maybe they'll get there? I honestly don't know, which is terrifying. I sincerely do hope the best for his parents, but I can't fight the feeling that this baby is meant to be with our family. So it's an emotionally tricky place to be in. And all we can do is take it one day at a time and hold on for the ride.
In the meantime, he is the cutest, sweetest, best baby in the world. He's been sleeping really long stretches at night, taking good naps, eating more, and when he is awake he's generally content and peaceful. He falls asleep without being rocked or patted. He is just a dream. He is also extremely loved all the time. Eliza and Nora are always hovering around him, "helping" me hold him/feed him. Nathan has loved having him in his room. And all of this just melts my heart, but also wracks it with guilt thinking about how they will feel when he goes somewhere else.
Friday, December 29, 2017
Then we spent a couple of days in Mesa. We did a birthday party for Nathan at Urban Jungle which was a huge hit. We went to the temple with Emily. We had a yummy dinner a family nativity at Grandpa Opie's.
|I wish she had her super cute Christmas outfit on for this picture, but it is still adorable. I love her smile and am slightly embarrassed that she did this but it makes me laugh.|
Now we have one last trip for the month. We are heading up to Mesa for New Years. We'll leave tomorrow and come home Monday. I'm tired already but I'm excited.
Friday, December 8, 2017
Another cute kissing story... Since Nora has been old enough to hold on my hip (6 months??) I constantly cover her cheeks in kisses while holding her. And whenever Daddy is leaving for work and she happens to be in my arms we both kiss her cheeks at the same time. It is clear she just adores this. And now it's progressed into her puckering her little lips to get a kiss from Aaron, then turns to me for a kiss, then back to Aaron, and on and on it goes.
Life can be hectic and busy. But I find if I stop and appreciate these seemingly small moments, it all feels so happy and wonderful. It's easy to miss, through all the screaming and messes, but they are there. And appreciating them is really the only way I stay sane.
Also this girl is such a gift. Just a bit about her personality. She is 1.5 so she has her moments of toddler-ness, but overall she is really just such a gift. For example, I have this garland you can kind of see behind her head. It has these little red berries she desperately wanted to pick off when we first put it up. I took her hands and told her no. She tried again so I held her on my lap and explained, kind of sternly do not touch. She screamed and cried and threw a big old fit for about 3 minutes. Then she got distracted by a sibling trying to comfort her. And ever since, she will walk up to the berries, point at them and say, "No!". If only my children could all be this obedient! It is a sad state of affairs when the 1 year old is setting the example. She is also always the first to fold her arms for prayer. She does beg for fruit snacks multiple times a day, and today she got into a bag of rice and dumped almost the entire thing all over the pantry floor... but she is a gift! I am trying so hard not to screw her up. She just has the sweetest personality and I absolutely adore her.Though it was just a few days ago she smacked Eliza in the head with a See and Say and gave her a black eye. But just look at that face! She is definitely entering the phase of testing boundaries and seeing what she can get away with. But she seems to be a fast learner so I'm not too worried.
Monday, December 4, 2017
Now onto Abigail's baptism. We went up to Mesa for Abigail to be baptized with her cousin Brandon. It was such an awesome day. We had such a great time with family and the spirit was just amazing all day. It really was a beautiful day. Abigail told me, "Mom getting baptized is really excited and I was so excited the whole time and just felt really excited, but then when I actually got baptized it was just so calm. That's how I know I felt the Holy Ghost. I just felt peace." She is a wise 8 year old and I absolutely adore her. She is funny and spunky and desires nothing more than to please those she loves. She is our peacemaker and I'm so grateful for her in our lives. She loves to make people laugh and she loves to help. She is beautiful inside and out. I am so grateful to be her mom.
I bore my testimony about repentance and how each time we take the sacrament it is like the chance to be baptized again. That night when putting the kids to bed Nathan told me that today he learned when he grows up and gets baptized he's not worried about making mistakes because when he takes the sacrament it is just like getting baptized. I was so grateful that he was paying attention.
I'll add some pictures later hopefully. But it was just great.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Sunday, November 26, 2017
Thursday, November 16, 2017
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
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
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
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
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
Monday, June 12, 2017
Monday, April 10, 2017
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.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
A blog post came up in my facebook memories and it made me sad that I haven't been writing here as much.
Life right now is like the calm before the storm, but it's definitely still raining. We're just starting softball, and swim team is a few weeks away. We're going back on the open bed list for foster care in May (because I can't quiet the voice in my heading calling me to do this). In the thick of homeschooling and working on a few big end of year projects for that. Signing myself up for some sort of race so that I can have more motivation to workout. Planning a few big summer vacations (Redwoods! New Jersey!) and maybe a few small ones (cabin trip? Weekend getaway with my husband?).
Nora had her check up today. At 10 months old she's just the right size for a 1 year old. And she's only a couple months away so we're not too ahead of the curve. She's 32 inches and 22lbs. Everything is on track and she's really a sweet baby.
Eliza is exhausting as ever. She loves to make people laugh. She draws a watch on her arm almost every day, if it hasn't washed off. I decided to ask her what time it was on that watch of hers and she replied without missing a beat, "Its showtime!" *jazz hands*
Nathan loves preschool and has made a really good friend with another little boy who only has sisters. They're super cute together and it's fun to see him making new friends.
Abigail and Olivia are loving being homeschooled. If you ask them if they miss anything about public school they'll tell you absolutely not. Which makes my decision about what to do next year harder. But I'm thinking we're done. It's good to know I can do it and maybe we'll do it again in the future but I am not sure I'm cut out for it. I'm so disorganized one of our biggest hurdles every day is finding a freaking pencil!! It makes me feel like I'm losing my mind. Plus it takes almost all my time and so we've had to hire someone to help with housework and I'm always worried they're not learning enough or I'm not doing the right thing. I need to improve my self discipline and organizational skills. Maybe if I get my crap together by the end of the year we'll continue. We've made great friends and are loving it, but this ish is so hard!
And that's about all that's going on lately. 12 years ago today was mine and Aaron's first date and I am honestly more in love with that man today than I was back then. Who would have thought that one date would turn into a family living in Yuma, AZ with our 5 kids?!
Sunday, March 5, 2017
We're homeschooling this year and I'm most likely not going to repeat this, but it has given us so much time together (which is both the reason I'm so done, and sad to see this year end). We've had some awesome experiences and I feel like we've just all gotten a lot closer and are really growing and stretching as people. However, sometimes that growing and stretching is really ugly and I'm not so sure it's worth it. I worry constantly that I'm not doing enough to help them learn as much as they would at public school. I fear my weakness in organization is setting a horrible example for them to follow in their own lives. And so many times I've completely lost my patience and end up just yelling at everyone. So I'm looking forward to spring break next week! And then we just have a few weeks left before summer vacation. We need to have some kind of huge party to celebrate a whole year of homeschooling in the books.
Today we had stake conference and there were so many great talks. Talks that have inspired me to want to study my scriptures more regularly. To have a closer relationship with my Savior. To do more to invite the Spirit into my home. To have opportunities to share the Gospel with those I know and love. To do more to help the needy. The beautiful thing is, this desire to be better isn't being felt along with its usually accompanying hearty side of guilt that I'm not already perfect at these things. The Atonement is real! It's a done deal, guys. Jesus Christ was a real person, who did this real thing, and it truly has power to transform our lives. And little by little our lives can improve as we come to Him. And that's it! In meekness and humility, come to Him, and let Him work in your heart. Let Him bring about the changes you desire. He will show your weakness, not to hurt you or bring you down, but so that you can truly change. And the amazing thing is, He takes these weaknesses and turns them into strengths, if we let Him. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for my living testimony of its truthfulness. My testimony goes through these periods of doubt and then it swells again with so much surety I can't believe I could ever doubt. But I take heart in knowing that this is how we grow. Periods of doubt are a natural part of being human, and as long as I use them to come closer to Him, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Anyway, this is way more personal than I usually get, but I wanted to write this all out and I was going to write in my journal, but I just started blogging and now I'm on a roll so there's no stopping it.
I'm excited for this week. My first baby girl will be turning 9! Aaron took the day off and we're going to have a super fun family day, and she's going to have some friends come over at night. It has been so incredible to watch her grow. And watch her transition into a full blown BIG kid... we're definitely not pre-teen yet, right? That's at least 10, right? I feel like we're knocking on that door really soon though. And while it's scary, it's also so exciting. She's such a bright, strong willed person, I can't wait to see what she does.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Friday, February 17, 2017
Sunday, February 5, 2017
I was trying to make some kind of side by side comparison of all my kids around the same age, but I was having trouble formatting so this is the best I can do. I think Nora and Eliza look so much alike, but looking at the pictures I think I definitely see more of Abigail.
Going back through old pictures made me realize how fast time goes. Which is actually a good thing right now, these kids are really wearing me out. It just all feels neverending. The laundry. The dishes. The making and cleaning up of meals. Knowing I need to do a better job of making the kids help me with these things, but never actually doing it. I just keep reminding myself, I love this life. I really do. It's all I ever wanted... I just never knew it would involve this much work! :D
Monday, January 23, 2017
|Nora learning to stand. She's almost 8 months and she's in too much of a hurry to grow up.|
She also just got her first two teeth.
|When you're so happy your face swallows your eyes.|
|This snaggle tooth finally got pulled a few hours after taking this picture.|
She pulled it out in primary. Apparently she just needed an audience.
|My mom came to visit. Convinced her to try a burrito for the first time. We may have spoiled her by forcing her to have Chili Pepper for her first burrito.|
|Olivia learned to fry eggs. She is very proud of herself, and I'm so grateful for the helpful girl she's becoming.|
|This kid. Eating an onion. She turned 3 on the 20th so here's to hoping all the terribleness is behind us.|
|Finally drinking a bottle!|