Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Things I'm Into Lately seminary classes, Trent gets off at 5 instead of 7:30, I have Friday afternoons off...

How green Texas is right now

My mom, the best OmaJean everrrr

Our hilarious, happy boy:

This lady...aka Kristin, KRB turned KRH, a kindred spirit, pep talker, sounding board, milkshake fetching partner and fellow Goldfish obsessor

Paying landscapers four digits that begin with a three to regrade dirt and lay drains and pipes in our yard so our house will stop flooding when it pours rain, then till, level and lay sod........oh wait, I'm not into this...this sucks...minus the sod.  I'm into that.

My hot husband

Also apples...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Mama Necklace

Around the beginning of May, Trent and I dropped the kids off at Mama Judy's and went on a date.  Over pasta, we talked.  And talked and talked and talked.  About baseball, about golf clubs, about our kids, about how we're doing as parents, about how foster parenting brings us so much joy but sometimes is the hardest thing we've ever done in our whole life.  

"I've been thinking about an anniversary gift for you," Trent said at one point.  "What if we went to that jewelry store that is the dude's name..."

"James Avery?"

"Yeah him.  And found you a nice necklace chain and looked at their charms that they have?  We could find little charms that represent these kids somehow, each individually.  Then if they go home, you'd have something to remember them by, and you could add more charms to the necklace for future kids."

I started crying.  It was a perfect idea.  

For the next few days I traipsed about on the James Avery website, looking at their charms.  They're meant for charm bracelets, but I don't wear bracelets and Trent knows that, hence why he suggested a necklace instead.  After some searching, we came up with the perfect charms. 

For Sister, we chose an aptly named "Remembrance Pendant" with a Blue Zircon jewel.  You see, Sister has the biggest, most beautiful blue eyes you've ever seen. In fact, they were the first thing we noticed about her when I pulled the blanket off of her car seat on our sofa that freezing February evening when they first came to us.  They weren't bright then, more like dull and sunken...but now?  Well, we call her Miss Bright Eyes for a reason.  

For Brother, we chose to create a charm to reflect some of his funny habits.  From the beginning, he has hollered "Yaaay!" at the most random times, for no apparent reason. We assumed he was just randomly happy with life. Also from the beginning, he has growled...  Not in anger, not trying to be mean.  He just growls.  Trent and I exchanged texts early on when one or the other of us was home alone with the kids, trying to figure out why.  "Maybe he's a lion."  "No I think he's a pirate."  To this day, he growls.  He will even growl "la la love you", which is a little spooky, not gonna lie.  So, for this happy, growly boy, we had an oval charm engraved with his two funny expressions.  The clerk was very confused by our request.

That is the story of my mama necklace.  Just two charms so far.  Maybe more will get added as time goes by, but these two charms will never leave.  These two special children will always be in my heart, no matter what. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Three Things That Have Made Parenting Easier For Us Amateurs

1. Twin bed in our toddler's room
Brother still sleeps happily in a crib, except for one isolated evening when he decided to dive head first out of it...pretty sure the crash landing hurt enough that he decided freedom wasn't worth it.   Since we are licensed to foster age zero to seven, we stocked up before our first placement on some various furniture, including a toddler bed and a twin bed.  The only thing we did not buy were cribs, and, of course, we ended up needing two of them!  (Pack n plays sufficed in the interim)  Once we got Brother situated with the pack n play and later the crib, we never got around to moving the other beds out opted to leave the other beds in there.   It turned out we like it this way, though it thoroughly confuses the social workers when they come visit and do a walk through.  "Wait, which one does he sleep in?"

We use the toddler bed as a spot to change Brother's diapers and clothes, since he's a little big for the changing pad in Sister's room and we ended up preferring this separate spot for him in his own room. Remember the week from heck, back in the spring, when our whole family crashed and burned?  Turns out it was a blessing to have a real bed in our toddler's room for Trent to sleep in for a few nights while said toddler fought pneumonia.  And then there are nights here and there when Brother just doesn't want to be alone, sometimes as he falls asleep, sometimes in the middle of the night.  We don't question this.  We just make him feel safe, which is our job after all.  We've found that our little boy who sometimes screams and cries from his bed if alone will lay down, roll over and go right to sleep if one of us is in the room.  So we'll stretch out on the twin bed for a little while as he drifts off, then quietly get up and leave him sleeping peacefully.

2. Toy bins and shelves
The first week or so after the kids came to us was utter chaos.  The house was a disorganized disaster of stuff we had accumulated or been given to try to prepare for our age range.  Once these babies came to us, we had a few frantic days of trying to figure out what we had, what we needed, what was accessible, what was already stashed in boxes, etc.  It stressed me out major.  I knew if we just got organized, the sudden shock and stress of caring for two children would be less.

Enter Judy, or as I affectionately refer to her: Mama Judy.  She was our substitute mama in those first weeks since both of ours were three hours away, and has continued to be an amazing resource and support.  On day six of us having the kids, after many harried texts about what a wreck our house was, she told me to take off work early while the kids were still at their first day of daycare and meet her at our house. "I'll be there at 3:00." From her minivan came shelves, bins, baskets and tote boxes and she set to work rearranging our living room and setting up an organized landing zone for toys, while I sorted kids' clothing in their rooms.   Her strategy: throw everything in a bin, put said bins on shelves and call it done.  "Clean surfaces," she said.  "That's what you need.  Clean floor, clean tables.  Put stuff in bins to give you clean surfaces and it'll make a world of difference."

How long does it take to clean up the kids' toy tornado at the end of each day?  About two minutes.  We walk around with a bin (or two, depending on the severity of said toy tornado), throw toys in it willy nilly and put it back on the shelves.   Done.

3. Rag bin
One thing we received a lot of when we first got the kids were small towels and rags, along with the comment "you'll need a lot of these".  It's true.  At first I put them nicely in a drawer in the kitchen but later decided it would be much easier to have them more accessible.   So, as part of Judy's "put stuff in bins" strategy, we have the rag bin out in the open, on a shelf, equidistant from the kitchen, dining room and living room, ready to be grabbed at for spills, spit up, you name it.  

Is it the prettiest decor ever?  Nope.  Does it contribute to our sanity?  Yeup.

And we know parenting is really just a wild goose chase for sanity.  :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

400th Post...Say WHAT?

Guess how many blog posts I have published...guess...oh wait, I gave it away in the title.   FOUR HUNDRED.

Um, last time I checked, that was a LOT of words.  In honor of my 400th post, I thought I'd share a few fun facts about this lil ole blogosphere of mine.

Total page views to date:  35,268

Three most popular posts:
Budget Basics Part 2 - How To Maintain A Budget  3,836 views
Budget Basics Part 1 - How To Create A Budget   1,932 views (these BLEW UP on Pinterest and I'm not even on Pinterest)
God's Plan For Growing Our Family  416 views  (start posting about babies and people are bound to click)

Three most popular pages/categories:
Money     438 views
Adoption & Foster Care  368 views
A+T=Love  151 views

Most amusing googled keywords that led someone to my blog:  "men and sandals socks"   ....I can only imagine due to this post

How many of you read my blog via Windows:  42%

How many of you read my blog via Apple:   37%

Top three countries besides the US where people have viewed my blog:
Russia      628 views
Canada    565 views
Australia  227 views (I think this is my college classmate Lindsay)

Number of comments on the blog:  115

How many of you readers out there are awesome: ALL OF YOU!!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Nine Ways Becoming A Parent Has Changed Me

1.  I don't look at other families when their toddler is throwing a fit.
Nay, I do not even so much as venture an eyelash in their direction.  I've been there folks, and that ain't noooo fun. You think stares and shakes of the head from strangers makes it any better?  Hale no. So, when someone else's tot is blowing a gasket, I will kindly act as though my burrito or sandwich or grocery cart is very interesting.  Tantrum?  What tantrum?  No biggee.  Carry on.

2.  I say lots and lots of little "arrow prayers".
That's what my mom calls them.  Short, fervent, pleading prayers, shot like arrows straight from my heart up to the heavens.  The most common of these is "Lord, please help her go to sleep, please, please, please Lord". This is usually whispered while standing in her tiny closet or crouched on the floor at the end of her crib, literally hiding from an infant so she can forget about me and try to calm down, as we embark on various episodes of this thing called "cry-it-out". (Which, by the way, should be renamed "rip-mama's-heart-out".)

3.  I sweat more.  
Turns out a decent chunk of parenting basically boils down to the following activities:
a) Wrestling
Wrestling arms and legs and heads into clothing, wrestling diapers onto wiggly booties, wrestling shoes onto little feet, wrestling medicine into clamped mouths, wrestling a towel around a little boy who wanted to keep "swimming" in the bathtub.
b) Sharing body heat
Or rather, receiving extra body heat.  By the end of an evening with a warm natured baby who, by that time of day, would rather be plastered to me than set down anywhere else...I'm in need of a shower.
c) Hauling
I get lots of looks from other parents at daycare when I've got Brother's backpack on my back, Sister's bag on my elbow, car keys jangling from a hook on my waistband, the CCS subsidy attendance card in my teeth, an almost-two-year-old on my hip and an almost-one-year-old being jostled against my leg in her baby bucket as we pile out to the car like some kind of walking one-man-band laden with children instead of instruments.  Pretty sure the sight of me makes said parents go home, evaluate their birth control plan, and briefly consider sharing it with me.

4.  I've lost 23 pounds.
See #3 above re: wrestling and hauling.  Combine that with #8 below, throw in the stress of a tax season and there you have it...

5.  I'm inside our house soooo much.
Specifically our kitchen, dining room and living room, since we close bedroom doors to limit the area kids can cause disasters get out of our sight, and really only use our back den anymore as a landing zone for various stuff we own that we don't want the kids to get into.   You know, like dog food or a paper cutter.  This confinement to a smaller space has made me want to repaint our living room a happier color, as I've realized I spend 8:00-5:00 in a beige cube and then spend the remainder of the day in a slightly larger beige cube.

6.  I've gotten good at using my left hand, and only my left hand.
See #3 above re: baby plastered to me.

7.  I rarely wear jewelry besides my wedding ring and various stud earrings.
Again, see #3 above re: baby plastered to me.

8.  I often get to the checkout line at the grocery store and realize "this basket is full of formula, baby food and toddler food...but what exactly have I bought for me and Trent to eat?"
Fail.  And by the time I'm at the checkout, it's too late to remedy.

9.  Speaking of grocery stores...that once annoying destination is now heaven on earth where I get to stroll hither and yon all by myself.
The only time so far one of the wee ones have accompanied me to this fairy land of autonomy was one of Brother's "sick" days, aka one of the clockwork times every 3 or so weeks that he spiked a fever greater than the daycare's legal limit, was sent home and required to remain there for the entire next day, during which he showed no signs of illness whatsoever, nor did he from the moment of departure from daycare the previous day.  Anyway.  Brother's calm attention to the novelty of the grocery store lasted all of about 30 minutes before things disintegrated into item #1 above, thereby making me vow to reclaim the sacred grocery store space as mine and mine alone for future trips.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Takeaways & Tidbits Lately Vol 4

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

St. Teresa of Avila


I've watched congregations devote years and years to heated arguments about whether a female missionary should be allowed to share about her ministry on a Sunday morning, whether students older than ten should have female Sunday school teachers, whether girls should be encouraged to attend seminary, whether women should be permitted to collect the offering or write the church newsletter or make an announcement...all while thirty thousand children die every day from preventable diseases.  If that's not an adventure in missing the point, I don't know what is.

A Year Of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans


I told Sydney (who has struggled and fumbled and tripped all the way through middle school), "Baby, these are your worst days.  You are horrible, your friends are awful, your body is a nightmare, your brain is impaired, your peers are lunatics and sociopaths, your emotions are a trainwreck, and you are convinced that your parents are hopeless morons.  You could be a Prisoner of War and have a better experience that three years of middle school.  Just put your head down and get through it.  High school is better, college is the best, and then you grow up and pay bills and then you die.  I love you.  Good talk."

Jen Hatmaker, aka funniest blogger evvah, regarding Middle School, in Some Things I Wish Would Go Away


Orphan care enlightens you to a very dark reality and awakens you from a spiritual apathy which once said it's someone else's problem to deal with.  For the cause of the orphan we fight a very real battle against a very real Enemy - an adversary who is unequivocally committed to steal, kill and destroy the lives of kids.  It is a spiritual battle at its core - a fight we cannot pretend does not exist and cannot excuse ourselves from participating in.

Jason Johnson in Orphan Care: The Call To Change And To Be Changed


"Do you know yet if you can adopt them?"

Everyone, everywhere, all the time


"Ma ma ma ma ma ma...."

Our daughter  


"Ah laa yooo..."

Our son  


And finally, I leave you with this:

Cuteness abounds around here these days.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Confessions Of An Ex Biker Babe

Something in the past month or two has been torture for me and Trent.  You see, the weather has been nice, clear, warm, lovely.  And you know what that means?  

Everyone who owns a motorcycle is out on it...

It's like they all saw the thermometer rise into the warm-enough zone and took to the roads on their two wheels to mock us. We used to be among them. But now?  Tail pipes taunt us, sissy bars sail past, and helmets say "haha you don't have a bike anymore."  


You see, a motorcycle is not a good vehicle for toting babies and of course there's the whole you-could-get-smushed thing, but dang, I miss it.  

I miss the wind in my face and the noise at our back.

I miss the multitude of zippers, pockets and vents on my riding jacket. 

I miss carrying a to-go box of date night leftovers clutched to my side as we turned the otherwise 5ish mile trip home into 30.

I miss the excuse to hang onto my husband tight...oh wait, I don't need an excuse for that...

I miss singing to myself inside a full face helmet while going 70 mph, knowing I was the only one in the world that could hear.  

I miss the smell of bluebonnets in McGregor and Skittles in Hewitt.  

I miss the biker wave when passing other two wheeled comrades, just a low extension of the hand, since raising it to the height of a normal wave makes the wind catch it and throw it back, therefore making you look like an amateur.

I miss the playful punches we'd dish out to each other, knowing we'd hit elbow, back or shoulder armor. 

I miss conversations about drilling out baffles to adjust tailpipe tone down to a sexier rumble.

I do not miss carburetors, however.  I'd rather not see another carburetor in my life, thank you very much.

So, here's to you, Snowball.  You were impractical and dangerous.  

And you were some of the most fun we've ever had...