Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Huge Setback

Yesterday we received some bad news. Certain family members of J. and D. have filed for conservatorship. Apparently this was done within the 90 days, but we are just finding out about it now. I immediately called our case manager (who is wonderful, by the way). She said not to panic yet, that just because they filed does not mean a judge will grant them custody. Still, this is a hard pill to swallow. We thought we were in the clear and had already been referred for adoption even though the six month waiting period is not yet up. Legally there is nothing we can do until they have been with us at least 9 months (or maybe even a year). For the first time, we are having to seriously consider the fact that we could lose all 3 children and have to start over again. I'm not exactly sure how we will be able to do that. Prayers would be great. Thanks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Whew! We're back from our weekend trip to the coast. Adults, babies, and dogs all had a great time. It wasn't always easy, but definitely worth it.

We were worried our room would be too small, but as you can see we made it work. J. and D. slept in the play yards and M. slept with us. The dogs stayed in the kitchen.

It was mostly overcast when we went to the beach, except for a few minutes late Saturday afternoon. J. was fascinated by the water, but had a hard time staying vertical when the waves hit him.

The babies enjoyed the fresh air and sound of the ocean. I enjoyed getting sand out of every nook and cranny of their little bodies.

I thought J. might be afraid of the birds, but he was pretty clueless that dozens of beaks and talons were hovering above his head. He was more interested in picking up and eating the pieces of bread that fell to the ground.

Billy and I want to keep trying to do as many "pre-babies" things we used to do, and while it isn't always possible, this time it was a success and we can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fun with Folgers

If you're wondering, we do provide clothes that fit and appropriate headgear. These are just more fun.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ninety Days

Today is the 90th day since parental rights were terminated for the boys. This time is given for any other family members to intervene in the case. As of last week no one had made contact with the caseworker so if we don't hear anything today, we should be able to adopt! There is also another six month waiting period before the adoption can be finalized, but we have been told that the judge will likely count the time they've already been with us, which is nearly five months. We don't know how long the adoption process will take, but we are overjoyed and thankful to God that we are one step closer.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us and the children. Please continue to pray, especially that Baby Girl M.'s situation will be resolved. Her status with us continues to change and the pattern lately is that her stay continues to be extended. This gives us some hope. We cannot imagine having to give her up, but we are also trying to stay grounded. We find comfort in knowing that God will do what is best.

"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Monday, April 21, 2008

Return of the Phantom Baby

The nighttime weirdness continues. (See this post if you don't know what I'm talking about.) Last Wednesday night I remember climbing over Billy to get to the other side of the bed and grabbing a shirt that was on the floor, thinking it was a baby. I kept patting it over and over, thinking, "It's the right shape for a baby, but why is it flat?" Then in a panic I thought one of us had rolled over on it and that's why it was flat. I continued searching for the baby again on my side of the bed, found another shirt and again wondered why it was flat. (Maybe we shouldn't leave clothes lying around.) So strange.

Then last night I remember thinking one of the babies had a scrubbing sponge stuck in its mouth. The kind with the little bristles, like this:

I woke up pulling at Billy's face, thinking his whiskers were the bristles of the sponge. I haven't asked him yet if he remembers. I think I am worried about the babies choking on things. It's funny to think about now, but during the moment it's always very distressing. These phantom babies are disrupting my sleep more than the real ones.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happiness is . . .

. . . being prepared for the day.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Countdown to Port Aransas

In a week we will be on our way to Port Aransas for a weekend getaway. We decided to get out of town during the craziness of Fiesta. We usually go to one or two Fiesta events, but this year we don't feel like tackling it with the babies. Since Billy has the day off for Battle of Flowers, we're heading out to our favorite little cottage on the coast.

I am somewhat apprehensive at the thought of bringing three kids and two dogs to the beach, but I'm hoping that with enough planning things have a better chance of running smoothly. I have a 3-page list of things we need to bring, but I'm sure we will still forget something! We still have to buy some sort of shade tent for the babies.

Here are a few photos from our visit to Port A. in July of last year:

My guy at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. This place is awesome for birdwatching. We saw Roseate Spoonbills there last year.

We stopped at Padre Island National Seashore on the way.

Darcy loved the water. Brad tolerated it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You Might Be a Foster Family If . . .

-You open your garage door and passing cars stop, thinking all of the bikes, toys, and baby furniture means garage sale.
-You go to a Foster Care meeting and everyone drives vans or station wagons, except for the small cars that belong to the social workers.
-You get your exercise from walking or carrying the kids to time-out.
-The K-Mart checker asks which school you are from, and you reply, ”We're a family.”
-You spend more time with your washer and dryer than you do with your spouse.
-Your heart is bigger than your brain.
-Santa Claus gives you a key to a store and leaves milk, cookies, and Alka Seltzer for you.
-You watch your 2-week placement go from crib to junior high.
-You regard your toilet snake as a family pet.
-Your local grocer tells you that if you ever move, he would like advance notice because he will have to lay off three employees.
-Your personal stash of children’s clothing rivals that of the local Goodwill office.
-The term “basically a good child with a few problems” doesn't mean the same thing coming from a caseworker as it does in the real world.
-Saying goodnight resembles the end of the Waltons: ”Night, John Boy . . . Night, MaryEllen . . . Goodnight, Lizbeth, etc.”
-Light switches, toilet handles, and door knobs last one year or less.
-Your idea of a “social life” is talking to the checkers at the local Wal-Mart.
Reprinted from “Foster Focus,” April 1997, published by the Olmsted County Foster Care Program.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What the Babies are Doing

Baby Boy D. is becoming more adept at sitting up. He still falls over from time to time, but nothing as bad as the face plant-onto-a-Mega Block-tumble he took over the weekend. (It left a couple of marks.) He still isn't crawling, but creeps around quite well.

Baby Girl M. has been spending a lot of time playing on her tummy. I was worried for a while because a couple of weeks after she learned to roll over, she stopped doing it. I think she forgot she knew how. But now she's at it again and can spend longer periods of time on her belly without getting frustrated. She's also doing that funny little scratching/raking thing they do with their fingers. She loves to bounce up and down when she is held.

Toddler J. likes to read his books, play with his trucks, and "clean" things with a tissue. He also likes to play with the golf club he got for Easter. J. still does not say any words, but has been making new sounds. He knows the signs for "more", "milk", and "all done" and we are working on "help". He would probably know more if I would spend more time working on it with him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mommy Needs Coffee!!!

Here's a tip: If you run out of coffee filters and you still have the last one that was used, you can rinse it out and use it again.

Just doing my part to save the planet.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Give the Girl a Challenge and Look What Happens

I guess Baby Girl M. didn't like the fact that I announced to the world that she is the worst sleeper in this house. Ever since that last post she has been sleeping through the night. Three nights in a row! If she can keep this up, there will be one happy Mommy (and Daddy) in this house.

Now if only I can sleep through the night. For several months I had the strange habit of waking up during the night and frantically searching through the blankets looking for babies. I think it started because I used to sleep on the couch with M. next to me or on my chest and would be worried I was going to roll on her or drop her. But the behavior continued way past when she began sleeping by herself. One night I sat up and started looking through a pile of clothes stacked on the ironing board next to our bed. A couple of weeks ago Billy woke up to find me patting his arm like it was a baby. Although it doesn't happen as much anymore, I still look for the phantom babies from time to time. In fact, I have a vague recollection of patting down the blankets in search of a baby just last night.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hibernation and Other Sleep Habits

Baby Boy D. is hibernating this morning. He normally sleeps until about 7:00 and it is already 8:30 and he is still sleeping! He has now become the most regular sleeper in the family. Toddler J. does fairly well, going down around 7:45 and sleeping until 7:00 or 7:30, but some nights he stays awake in his crib until 9:00 or even later. The last place prize for good sleep habits goes to Baby Girl M. She still wakes up 2 or 3 times a night and usually does not go back to sleep unless I hold her. I often end up just bringing her into bed with us, something I was adamant about not doing before we had kids. The good thing is that she will sleep a little later, usually until 8:00-ish.

Well, I can hear that Baby Bear is awake now. I better go get him out of his den! (Or kennel, as we call it. More on that another day.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beans, Beans, Beans

The bags of WIC beans were piling up. I know we are supposed to feed these beans to J., but really, how many beans can a 20-month-old eat? (and how many beans do we want him to eat?) Am I supposed to feed J. beans while the rest of us feast on something else?

I had to do something with them, so I made this recipe for Red Beans and Rice. Then I turned a bag of pinto beans into an activity for J. It is amazing how long this tub of beans keeps him entertained.

I was still left with a pile of bags.

So I made this recipe for Black Bean and Tortilla Bake. Lucky for me I had two bags of black beans because I managed to burn the first batch. In the end it turned out surprisingly good.

I will continue to be on the hunt for more good bean recipes. In the meantime, I did come across this craft for some nifty-looking bean frames . . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dirt + Dogs = Garden Woes

Billy and I have always wanted a garden. Well, at least I always wanted one and Billy has always wanted me to have one. Over Spring Break he built two raised beds and last weekend I finally had the time to plant. We knew from the beginning that keeping the dogs out was going to be a huge challenge. We thought we had a pretty good solution by putting stakes around the perimeter to act kind of like a fence. It seemed to be working until this afternoon when I discovered this:The other bed had holes in it, too. I guess our next task will be to tie some string around the stakes to see if that will keep them out. I don't know which dog got in there. If it was Darcy, we have little to no chance of keeping her out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Playin' Footsie

Now that we have two high chairs the babies like to face off against each other and have footsie wars. So far it is 1-0 in favor of M.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Adventures at Wal-Mart

After church yesterday we went out to run some errands. By the time we made it to Wal-Mart, our fifth stop, I was beginning to wonder if we were pressing our luck with the babies. Everyone was awake and happy for the time being, but you just never know. But I had some items I needed to return, we were completely out of formula, and we've been wanting to get a second high chair for Baby Girl M. for several weeks now so we decided to go through with it.

About 30 minutes later the infants started getting restless, and I realized we left the bottles in the van. Billy offered to go get them, but we were all the way in the back of the store and I just wanted to get done and go home. So I ended up carrying one baby and pushing the stroller and Billy carried the other baby and pushed J. in the cart. We hurried through the rest of the trip, just getting the items for WIC we had left. We actually found a check-out lane that was empty (that never happens at Wal-Mart!) and it looked like we were going to make it. But when our checker got to the cereal, she told us we had the wrong size. WIC requires two 18 oz. boxes, and I had grabbed 12 oz. boxes. Nothing more, nothing less is allowed. We either had to put the rest of J.'s WIC items back (milk, juice, beans, eggs, and cheese) or go get new cereal.

At the very moment that we made this realization, both D. and M. started crying at the same time. It was unreal. I grabbed D. and practically ran back to the cereal aisle to get replacements. I did not make eye contact with the lady in line behind us because I figured she had to be annoyed with us. When I got back to the line I signed the voucher and whisked the babies out to the van to be fed and changed.

When Billy came out with J. and our groceries, he said that the checkout lady (and the lady behind us) had been very nice and even asked for our names so she could pray for us. She said to come back to her lane the next time we were at Wal-Mart. We have been blessed so many times by the kind words of strangers and a lot more offers of prayer than one might expect. There is no way we could do what we are doing without God's help!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

First Tooth!

Today Billy discovered Baby Boy D's first tooth. I tried to take a picture of it, but it was too hard for me to keep his mouth open and take the picture at the same time. We've been thinking Baby Girl M has been teething as well, but nothing has erupted yet.

It's fun having two babies this close in age because we get to watch D hit certain milestones and then M will usually follow a few weeks later. When they play on the floor D will creep up to M, grab at her, and pull her hair. It doesn't seem to bother her unless he pulls really hard. But when M grabs at D, more often than not he'll cry. Seems like baby girl is a wee bit tougher than her big brother! (That's ok, D, we still love you!)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Republicans for Voldemort

This is a bumper sticker I saw while driving yesterday:

At first I laughed. Out loud. A lot.

Then I thought, "I don't get it."

Is it anti-Republican, implying that we follow an evil lord?

Or is it just supposed to be funny?

How about "Muggles for McCain"?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spring Break at the Missions

Over Spring Break we took a couple of trips to Mission Espada and Mission San Jose to take pictures. We got a late start the first day and missed out on the good sunlight so we went back the next day. J. looking over a wall at Mission Espada.

Daddy and J. among the ruins at Mission Espada. Note the (unplanned) matching outfits.

One of my favorites. This was taken on Good Friday and a wooden cross had been placed outside the chapel.

Mommy and lil' M.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If Someone Offers You A Leather Jacket . . .

So a couple of days ago Billy stopped to wash the car on the way home from work. It was still dirty from the weird mud rain we had the other week. His route home takes him down a street that is on the edge of a not-so-great neighborhood. As he was washing the car he was approached by three gentlemen who offered him a leather jacket for purchase. Billy told them he had no cash (he was driving the old Geo Prizm with packing tape holding the headlights on so who wouldn't believe him?). They kept pressing him to take it, and he eventually agreed because he knew that refusing would lead to even bigger trouble. Well, last night he took it out of the trunk, checked the pockets, and found $120. Now we are trying to figure out what to do with it. Obviously we are not going to keep the jacket because we think it was stolen (plus it's a hideous Looney Toons jacket. Seriously, who wears those?).

Billy told this story to colleagues at school and to his 4th grade students. What kind of advice did he get? The adults said to keep the money. The kids said to give it away.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Where's the Baby?

This weekend Billy and I had our first, "Where's the baby?" moment of panic. Baby Boy D. is getting more mobile, but he pretty much just hangs around the living room rug. Not any more. In the frantic hunt for him, this is what I saw when I rounded the corner:

Luckily we have a very small house with doors that will now stay closed.

Why 500 Babies?

Whenever my husband and I want to go somewhere (store, church, wherever) we lament over how difficult it is because we have 500 babies to get ready and bring with us.

This blog is simply about life with our 500 babies. I guess I should clarify: we only have 3 babies, but it feels like 500. We have 3 precious, beautiful gifts from God. They may only be temporary gifts to us because they are foster children. Lord-willing, we will be able to adopt them some day.

The 500 Babies are otherwise known as: Baby Girl M. (5 months), Baby Boy D. (7 months) and Toddler J. (20 months).