Friday, July 31, 2009

A Few Thoughts

I have some really cute photos of the kids holding, feeding, and kissing Baby Brother A., but for now I'm going to hold off on posting them. There's no guarantee that we will be able to adopt him and so he will remain anonymous for the time being. Court is scheduled for Tuesday and it will be up to the judge to decide if birthmother gets another chance. She has stated that she wants to raise A., but the recommendation from CPS is worded quite strongly against her. She will get to visit him on Monday, and we have requested that CPS provide the transportation. One reason is simply the logistical nightmare of transporting 4 kids by myself, but we are also unwilling to risk having birthmom or other family members come in contact with Joe and Daniel. After A. was born, bio-grandmother told the nurses at the hospital that she was raising Joe and Daniel. I'm guessing she lied because she was probably embarrassed that the boys were taken away from the family, but that comment still makes me uneasy. It also makes me angry.

Another touchy subject is race. We know most people do a double-take when they see our family and I have no issue with that. I would do the same. I also have no issue with polite questions. Our waitress at dinner last night asked if Mikea was adopted. She was very sensitive and tactful about it, and it turned out she was interested in adopting. We put her in contact with our agency and hopefully something positive will result. I love it when that happens. However, last week was a different story. We were eating out again (it's too hot to cook, ok?) and I caught a woman staring at Mikea. Not just a one-time, "Oh my, look at that family! They have 500 babies!" kind of look, but a repeated, prolonged, hostile stare. At first I thought she was looking because the kids were being a little noisy. (They were tired and hungry and our food hadn't arrived yet.) But each time she looked, she looked only at Mikea. I also caught her saying the words "need to get out of here" to her companion, but I don't know if she was talking about herself or our family. Each time she looked, I stared right back at her until she looked at me and looked away. My blood was boiling and my hands were shaking. I didn't know what to do. I said a little prayer asking God to help me calm down and not do anything un-Christlike, but it was so hard. All I know is that I'm thankful my daughter is too young to understand, and we have a little time to figure out how to handle a situation like this if it should ever happen again. I'm thinking a response like, "She's a beautiful little girl, isn't she?" might work. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baby Trickery

Hmmm....who is this baby? And who is this baby? Is it the same one as above?

Or could it be a brother? Hmmm....

Fudgcicle Fail

Monday, July 27, 2009

He's Here!

Meet Baby Brother A., biological sibling to Joe and Daniel, new "foster sibling" to Mikea:

The kids are super excited to finally have Baby A. at home. They accompanied us to the hospital to pick him up and said "baby" over and over and over again once they saw him. Mikea has tried to kiss him several times and Joe likes to pat his back. Joe also says "baby sad" every time A. cries. Daniel was mostly interested in the fact that A. wore a hat on the way home. So far things are fairly quiet, but we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Droughts Aren't Funny, But This Is:

It's official: The last 23 months in San Antonio have been the driest since record-keeping began in 1885.

Once again, let me remind you what happened exactly 23 months ago: We put gutters on our house.


We're still waiting for Baby Brother to come home. The hospital called this morning to say he's ready to be released, but they can't get reach his CPS worker. Our case worker hasn't been able to reach him either. So, we wait.

We did get to visit the baby last Friday. Billy and I took turns going to the hospital where we were able to feed him. He's adorable - he looks a lot like Joe. I've never been in a hospital nursery before - I couldn't get over the sight of all those little babies swaddled in their blankets, little caps on their heads, sleeping in plastic tubs on wheeled carts. The doctors and nurses were so friendly, so caring. It gave me comfort knowing Baby Brother has been in good hands for these first few days of his life.

Billy's sister Kellie arrives from Michigan tonight. She was already planning on visiting before we knew we were getting the baby and I think that is another example of God's timing. Joe, Daniel, and Mikea love Kellie and having her here will make things much easier on me and Billy as we adjust to having a newborn in the house!

UPDATE: We're picking Baby Brother up from the hospital tonight at 5:00!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Living It Up

After we made the decision to take in the baby, we were motivated to get the kids out of the house as much as possible while it is still "easy". Not that we won't go anywhere with an infant, but it will be harder for sure.

Saturday we went to the Children's Museum. This is Joe enveloped in a giant bubble:
Here we have Mikea wearing a pilot's hat:
The best part was the miniature grocery store. Dan selected some fresh fish:

Joe loaded up on Buddy Grahams:

And Mikea filled her cart with anything and everything she could. She then drove it around like a madwoman.
Sunday we went to early church and then drove down to Padre Island. The kids were much more comfortable with the water than the last time we went.

Then on Monday we went to the Alamo and the Riverwalk with my sister and her kids who were visiting from Colorado.

Here you can clearly see the exhaustion on the kids' faces. When this picture was taken it was close to 100 degrees and during the peak of naptime after several days of constant activity. They were troopers through it all. Now we're just spending quiet time at home, waiting and preparing for Baby's arrival.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Announcement

I've been thinking for several days the best way to share some big news from our household. I think Billy and I have caused those of you who already know to question our sanity, but rest assured that we have made the following decision prayerfully and thoughtfully and are at peace with it. In fact, we are quite excited!

We will begin fostering a newborn boy sometime this week!

Last Friday we received a call from CPS informing us that Joe and Daniel's birth mother had just given birth to another baby. Because the goal is to keep siblings together, we were asked to be the placement. We were given less than 24 hours to decide if we would accept the baby into our home. To be honest, we struggled at first. That very week we felt like we had finally reached a point where life felt somewhat relaxed: the house was finished, Billy was finished with summer school, and the kids were in a comfortable summer routine. Our selfish natures struggled with the idea of disrupting our relative peace. But we've always left ourselves open to a fourth child, and a closer look at the timing led us to believe this is what God wants for us. Unlike his brothers, this baby was born full term. Had he been born a week or two earlier, while we were neck-deep in home repairs, I don't think we could have said yes. Billy still has a few weeks left before school begins, so he will be home to help during the initial adjustment period. We're also still current on our foster care certifications and trainings. If we waited a year before taking in any more children (which is what we thought we would do), it would be a lot harder to get our license renewed simply because of all the classes we would have to re-take. Deep down I wonder if we would really have done it.

I do worry too much about what people think. I don't want people to think we're crazy. I don't want people to think we want attention. I don't want people to think we're doing it for the money. I do want people to understand that Billy and I love our children and want our family to be everything that God wants it to be. We believe He will give us the strength to not just survive, but to thrive as a family. We also understand that there is a real possibility that this may not be the last baby this woman has. I would ask that you pray not just for us, but for her to get the help she needs to get her life on track.

Right now the baby is still in the hospital. We don't know if he has a name, and we don't know when he will be released. The kids, especially Joe, are excited about their new baby brother. We really don't know much of anything else about the case, just hoping that if it is God's will for us, that this little baby will someday become another permanent addition to our family! I'll keep you posted. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Scenes from a Football Field

Today we excursed to another park. What's that you say? Excursed isn't a word? But did you understand what I meant? Well then, I see no problem. Anyway, the highlight of our outing was letting the 500 Babies Toddlers run loose on a giant football field. Never before have had they had such freedom. It was great.

After a while Joe began having some obedience issues and was sent to sit down for a break.
Mikea quickly trotted over to where he sat. It may appear that she came over to delight in Joe's misfortune. Doesn't her expression seem to say, "Hey guys, check it out. Joe's in trouble."

But that was not the case. Sweet little sister came over to comfort big brother, patting him on the back, consoling him in his misery.

"Big brother, I will sit with you in your time of sadness. Your grief is my grief. Your pain is my pain. Your struggles are my struggles."

When it was time to get up, she offered Joe a helping hand. Couldn't we all use a friend like that?

Let's Celebrate Summer!

Yesterday was the first day since summer began that we finally had a day free from house work, appointments, and/or other obligations. (Other than the work of constantly trying to keep the house in "show-ready" condition amidst the chaos and destruction of 3 toddlers and 2 dogs.) So to celebrate, we decided to go to the library.

Next stop: The playground!

Nothing makes me happier than seeing the joy on those little faces!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Would You Hire This Work Crew?

Despite appearances, these guys did a great job of fixing up our house. Check out the post below to see their work!

We Are Finished!

Ugh. That's about all I can say about getting our house ready to put on the market. We didn't make our original deadline, which was Monday, but now we are finally finished. The last five days have been especially grueling as each day we woke up determined to get it all done, but every project seemed to take ten times longer than we thought it would. The kids have watched more TV this week than I care to admit, but now we can finally sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and even if we don't sell quickly, at least we have a nicer environment in which to live!

Here are a couple of Before and After shots to prove that we really have been working:

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen After:

New paint, new flooring, new cabinet doors, new countertops. Our dishwasher was leaking and would've cost almost as much to fix as to replace and our repair guy gave us a good deal on this almost-new model.

Dining Room Before:

Dining Room After:

This room turned out even better than I imagined. I was going to keep the red curtains but accidentally shrunk them in the wash. Oops. I do miss the kids' art hanging up, but they made me feel better by just coloring directly on the freshly-painted wall instead:

Of course they never touched the wall before it was painted.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Strategeries for Potty Training

Dan wanted to share a few "toilet learning" tips with you.

1. Always be prepared. A backwards cap, plastic dinosaur, and a book are all a must. And by all means, do not let any of them go!
2. Concentrate. An open mouth works well for this. Keep holding those toys. 3. Enlist a buddy to provide moral support.. A sister with wild hair and boy's pajamas works every time. But remember - don't drop your book or your dinosaur!

Daniel does a great job of sitting still when he's on the potty seat. Mikea is very squirmy and climbs around on it. She recently discovered what happens when you go on the potty when the lid is closed. We've had one or two successes with them, but honestly I'm not making a big deal about getting this done. It'll happen when they're ready. Or when I'm ready. And because my house currently looks like this, I'm not spending a lot of time putting kids on potty chairs: