Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nashville, TN {May 2013}

Bryce and I snuck away for a long weekend to Nashville, TN in early May. Justus stayed with my parents and our two foster kids stayed with another foster family. It was a much needed reconnect-with-spouse and get some extra sleep time.

Super cool coffee shop

Downtown Nashville

Listening to a band

Pre-dinner snack

At the gardens at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

At cousin Nate & Ashley Woodall's wedding

Monday, July 29, 2013

Thirteen Children

Since our first Safe Families placement late last summer, we've had thirteen children (from Safe Families and also the foster system) pass through our home. Some lovable from the get-go. Some difficult and draining. All precious.

Miss G (1 week) - such a wonderful little girl. my first little girl. still miss her a little bit and would take her back in a heart beat. (oh Jesus, be with her, wherever she is.)

Mr. W (4 days) - such a sweet, smart and polite boy. with the most beautiful blue eyes and dark skin.

Miss RR (2 weeks) - what a little firecracker and fighter (in the good sense). the more we learned about her, the more we were amazed at her fighting spirit.

Miss C (1 week) - so. much. energy. the first little one to call me "mom."  a rough week but a blessing in the end.

Mr. M and Mr. M (both for 1 week, and the oldest for a second week) - crazy boys. crazy life they came from. lots of learning how to manage them and learning how to love them.

Miss A (a few weekend visits) - she loves the dog and loves "Mr. Bryce." sweet girl with a great foster mom. we love having her in our home.

Mr. N, Miss Y, and Miss A (11 days) - the oldest kids we've watched yet, and they were a blast. it was spring break so we went to the zoo and the children's museum and out for pizza. i cried pretty hard when they left, especially for Miss Y--that little girl grabbed my heart.

Miss L and Mr. N (8 weeks) - an adorable handful--don't let their blond hair and blue eyes fool you. probably the most challenging two months of my life. our prayers go with them to their next foster home.

(I can't post pictures of these children online, but if you ever visit our home just ask to see the photo album with all of their lovely names and faces.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Announcing Baby #2

Yes, we are expecting Baby #2, due on December 17. This pregnancy has been so different than my first, so in an effort to record a little about it and not are some rambling thoughts.

8 week ultrasound photo
-- Praise the Lord, I haven't been as nauseous with #2 as I was with JD. No 24/7 nausea this time around. I do have waves of it here and there but it's manageable. There are some annoying/uncomfortable aspects, of course: lower back pain, difficulty sleeping, getting overheated more easily, terrible headaches around week 16, bad dreams at night, and great tiredness.

-- Hungry! Oh my goodness. I never remember being this hungry with JD. Everything looks and sounds's pretty dangerous to read a magazine or watch TV, because then I want to go bake something or send Bryce somewhere. I've tried to still be moderately good (and remind myself that being prego is not a license to eat anything and everything!) but I've definitely gained weight a lot faster this time around.

-- I started showing quite a bit sooner, which I've heard is to be expected. See the comparison below: I am 16 weeks pregnant in both pictures. Crazy, right? I've had to make changes in my wardrobe quite a bit sooner....for example, the jeans I'm wearing in the 16 week picture of Justus wouldn't fit me right now even if I didn't breathe. Yay for skirts and athletic shorts--that's what I'm living in this summer.
16 weeks pregnant, with JD (left) and Baby #2 (right)

-- There is great excitement: we are so happy about and ready for this baby. But it's also different because the "newness" aspect isn't there as it was the first time around. Life has continued as usual. Justus keeps me very busy. And, oh yeah, I'm pregnant. Sometimes I forget . . . until I look down.

-- Just this past weekend, week 18, I started feeling the baby move for-sure. (Little twinges for a week or two before that, but still a little iffy.) And a few days later, Bryce felt the baby move for the first time. I thought for sure it was too early, but he wanted to try and Baby kicked just right for him to feel it. When Bryce turned to me with a surprised look before I even reacted, I knew he had felt the kick, too.

-- At this point with JD, we already had decided our girl name and boy name. This time around: we've got nothin'. Bryce is basically refusing to seriously discuss anything until we find out the gender ("no reason to work on a girl/boy name if it isn't a girl/boy"). My brain is continually thinking of names, noticing names, mulling over names. I think it's driving me nuts that this child doesn't have a name yet, and especially since it was so easy for us the first time. So, the moral of the story is: don't ask us what the name is, because we have no idea. :-)

18 weeks pregnant

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Justus @ almost-18-months

Can you believe our little man is almost one and half years old? Here are a few memories, from the past month up to current.....spelling out "eighteen," of course.

E - is for eating. So....Justus used to be a good little eater. And he still sort of is. But I think we've determined that he's just too busy and distracted to eat. After about 5 minutes, he starts reaching for the booster seat buckle, saying "Get down?" and "All done." Sometimes it's torture to get a decent meal in him, but he's a growing boy and needs the food, right?

I - is for incredible: Justus is praying at dinner. Okay, so he's just holding our hands and bowing his head and muttering in a very serious, low voice, but it's beyond precious. Bryce and I couldn't believe it when he initiated praying on his own the other night and proceeded to do the above. We always hold hands when we pray with him, so that's the cue to start praying, he mumbles seriously and then gives a big "Amen!"

G - is for going....going....going. Our little man never stops moving from the moment he gets up. Unless it's to take a little break while laying on top of the dog. Sometimes Justus is running in circles in his crib when I get him up in the morning. And, by the end of the day, when he reaches the slap-happy phase, he likes to run laps around the couch, while giggling. This increased movement and activity was accompanied by a decrease in nap times. Now he naps for 2-3 hours in the afternoon--no more morning nap. A little sad, but also nice because it makes it easier to do things with him during the day.

H - is for "hi!" JD has this adorable little pinching-wave that he does with his pointer finger and thumb. I took him grocery shopping with me earlier this week and he waved and said "hi!" to almost every person we passed. It made my mama-heart very happy when someone would smile and acknowledge him.

T - is for talking! His vocabulary has exploded in the past month. Some of his first words: doggie, daddy, guitar, bottle, diaper. Other words he now says quite often: snack, drink, please, all done, good job, get down, bird, mailman, airplane, mama, outside, bath. And by "says" I mean that we can understand him pretty well, but most words are still a little jumbled.

E - is for every day, outside every day. JD and I usually go out in the morning before it gets too hot. I fill up his water table, and he plays in the water, walks around the backyard, finds a few sticks to carry around, climbs up into the play set, follows the dog around, picks a clover flower or two, lets me swing him for a few minutes, and then comes back to the water to start all over again. We also go on a walk almost every day and he's quite content in the stroller with a snack.

E - is for everything is a ball, and I mean everything. Anything that looks moderately round or circular. Today I found him corralling 5 balls in the dining room, trying to keep all of his favorite possessions together. Oh, something else funny about the dining room: lately Justus likes to push around the dining room chairs. From my vantage point working in the kitchen, all I can see is the chairs moving, as if pushed by a ghost--it makes me laugh every time.

N - is for never . . . as in, I never knew an 18 month old could be so much fun and such a joy. When I look into his dark brown eyes and rub his little pooh belly and snuggle while he drinks a bottle, such contentment fills me. I asked Bryce the other day what in the world we did before chasing around a little boy. I can hardly remember, and I don't want to--I wouldn't have it any other way right now. Justus Daniel: you are a joy to your mama and I love you so.

One by one, JD brought me all of the boxes of cereal from the pantry. "I'm hungry, mom!"

First bike ride with daddy.

Our little family at a 4th of July event downtown.

Playing with Cousin Everett.

Just hanging out in the stroller.

JD loves to wear my shoes around the house.

Yes, that is a plateful of broccoli. And he loves it!

First time in a pool . . . he was pretty indifferent but didn't seem to mind it.


This happens all the time. Poor dog.

Listening to music in the headphones.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

So. Much. Going. On.

So. Much. Going. On.

That's what my life felt like for a few months. Actually, to be honest there wasn't a lot going on, but what was happening was very overwhelming, all-encompassing.

Where have I been since Feburary? Well . . .

On Monday, February 18, we started a major kitchen remodel. Complete with drywall dust, crockpot meals for dinner every night for six weeks, a stressed out wife from the mess and upheaval, and a beautiful result (thanks to my very talented husband).

On Wednesday, March 27, we finished up a few things from the kitchen project in the morning and welcomed three foster children for 11 days at 4:30 p.m., ages 10, 5 and 3. They left at noon on Sunday, April 7.

On Wednesday, April 10, we received a call from a case worker about two children who needed a home immediately . . . that afternoon . . . for possibly the long-haul. Miss L and Mr. N arrived around 4 p.m.

On Sunday, April 14, we found out we were pregnant.

L (2 years) and N (1 year) fit right into our lives . . . and greatly disrupted our world. Parent visits downtown twice a week. Eating dinner battles. Temper tantrums. Disobedience. Sickness and doctor visits.

Looking back, it's hard to put into words what their time with us looked like. It doesn't seem like it should have been so hard, but with (basically) triplets, quite suddenly, I was overwhelmed. It was hard to love, hard to have enough patience. I remember one specific day when I called Bryce at work, sobbing, telling him that I couldn't do it one more minute (with 3 kids crying/shouting in the background and a throbbing forehead from a flying block).

The time they were with us: no church for me, very little social interaction, lots of pregnancy hormones & tiredness. It felt like a dark hole at times. And, yet, Jesus was so faithful through it all. In the midst of my weakness and failure. And when I reached out to friends, they were so loving and prayerful on my behalf.

By mid-May and with no parental reunification in sight, we knew that we could not continue much longer (and by "we," I mostly mean "I"), so we asked the case workers to find another family. God graciously provided the perfect spot and the children moved to their new home on June 1st, just a few days shy of 8 weeks with us. Our first foster placement: cut short. And yet, such great relief.

There's been much processing since. Lots of deep breaths and recovering going on in this household. We certainly learned a lot and are doing a bit of rethinking on our steps going forward. Oh may God give us great wisdom as we move forward in our foster/adoption journey, with just a slight pause with a new baby coming.

{Don't worry.....more posts to come about JD and new baby and other ramblings!}

This song by Josh Wilson was my anthem for a few weeks: