Friday, August 29, 2014

There Was a Little Girl

There was a little girl
who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good
she was very, very good

but when she was bad
she was horrid.

here's what I think about saying cheese!
I found her hiding under her bed eating koolaid packets out of her end-of-school bucket
I got out of the shower to discover she had made her own "breakfast"
a plate of syrup with a cup of syrup...because apparently you can never have too much syrup.

Climb up and steal Bubba's piggy bank and add his money to mine? Sounds like a GREAT idea!
What? Isn't it pretty?
trying to teach her that this is. not. funny. Clearly she hasn't gotten the message.

Opened my planner and found that she had already made plans for us
Took her to the restroom to talk when she was misbehaving. This was her response when I asked her to look at me when I'm talking.

clearly I'm old enough to paint my own nails if I can get past the child lock...

She may be a stinker, but that sweet & spunky girl could never be horrid in my book. But she sure does laugh every time we say this nursery rhyme together :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Vacation as a Family of 6

Time for some pictures from our "vacation" to Oklahoma a few weeks ago. Anybody traveling with young kids fully understands why I put that in quotation marks. It was so good to see family and friends but it sure was exhausting for this momma!

Rick is such a good dad. He endured a lot on the 12 hour drive up...and all with a smile. Partly because he loves his kids but I suspect also partly because deep down he loves the Frozen soundtrack as much as they do.

We got to my grandparents' house in Bartlesville around dinner time and this is what the kids had to say about being cooped up in the van all day:

freeze tag!
After dinner at GG & Papa's we went to the Kiddie Park. This toddler amusement park has been around since my mom was a kid and I have great memories going there when I was little. It's always so nostalgic and fun to go back.

My Uncle Eddie used to spin and spin and spin me in this thing until I thought I was going to puke and I loved every second of it. Harrison and the twins loved it too; Harper...not so much. Ha!

Another example of how Harrison & Lily have such similar personalities. They both wanted to ride together and excitedly picked out a horse and climbed on up with huge grins.

But things started heading south when they realized there were 2 people and only 1 set of reins.

I was laughing so hard I had tears. They were griping, tugging, pushing, throwing elbows, and even putting each other in headlocks over it...meanwhile Harper & Violet were sitting back happily enjoying their ride. :)

Of course we had to ride the train and scream as loud as we could in the tunnel.

We got the kids snow cones and cotton candy since they weren't crazy enough after being up since 5am and stuck in a car all day ;)

When we got to this ride Harper ran straight for the car she rode in last year. She did not forget about that pink car.

July 2014

July 2013

I took about 1000 pictures trying to get just 1 good group picture. It is what it is.

Day 2 we headed to Stillwater where I was born and raised. We took the scenic route and stopped by the house that my other grandparents' used to live in when I was little. I have so many fond memories of that place with my cousins.

When we got to Stillwater we met my dad at a park for a picnic lunch and a little spontaneous hiking at the creek.

Next we headed to our hotel for some swimming and visiting. My grandpa and his wife came by and then we all went to dinner. Mazzios...yum!

We were a little nervous about how the girls would do staying in a hotel since it took us 2 weeks to get them used to our house and they are very sensitive to change, but they did great. It really helped that we stayed in a suite that had a separate bedroom and living room.

Tienna & Tony came over to hang out and it is always so good to see them!! Plus, I got to rub her pregnant belly so double bonus! It really is hard to believe that Rick and Tony aren't childhood friends as well because they act like they've known each other their whole lives. 

here they are comparing pictures on their phones like old geezers

The next morning Tienna picked me up and we headed to get pedicures. I brought Harper along and she loved it.

That afternoon was Tienna's baby shower. I have been faithfully praying for her to have the opportunity to have a baby shower for years and there was no way I was going to miss it! It was an adorable shower. I'm sad I didn't get any pictures of the decorations or activities (and she still hasn't posted them anywhere for me to steal, ahem). Jessica did a great job. I seriously don't know how she did it considering she had just had a newborn weeks before. The only thing she delegated to me was to make and send the invitations and to bring some fun cards for guests to fill out. It was very family friendly and we all had a ton of fun. I still can't believe their little girl will be here in a few weeks!

Tienna -- this picture is for you. Harrison drew this on the kid table and was telling me all about it. Tony is on the left, you are on the right (not sure why you look like a dog, but whatever), and your baby is in the middle. Right as I was praising him for drawing such a sweet family portrait, he went on to explain that the other part he drew is really huge tornado that swept you all away forever. ::insert his evil laugh here::  Nice, right?? That kid.

I've known this pretty momma for over 20 years. I can't wait to meet her little (big) peanut and see her finally get to experience motherhood. She is going to be GREAT at it.

It was a short visit and on Day 4 it was already time to head home. This kid got in one more round of basketball at our hotel before loading up in the van.

We stopped by Arbuckle Wilderness on the way home. It's a drive-thru animal safari with a petting zoo. We skipped the petting zoo part this time but the kids enjoyed feeding the animals from the van.

Or at least 3 of them did. Ha!

you seriously expect me to put my hand out the window with THAT thing out there??

She didn't leave my lap and instead gave condescending stares
I so wish I could share the picture of Lily I took just as this funny looking dude sneezed all over her face. It was pretty priceless.

And then we had to make one last stop at Braums before leaving their territory.

Harper loving on her sister

Even though it was a fast and exhausting trip, it went extremely well considering we were traveling for the first time with the twins and exposing them to a bunch of new places and people. But most of all, it was so good to hug the necks of family and friends I don't get to see nearly enough.

Monday, August 25, 2014

2 Months In

I am finally getting out my laptop to get at least something updated on here and I realized it's been exactly 1 month since I last posted, which is exactly 2 months since the girls joined our family. So I'm going to ramble out an update on life in general and also about some updates in the girls' case.

This last month has been hard and I'm feeling weary. Lots of busy, lots of stress, lots of hurt, lots of anxiety, lots of feeling like there is not enough of me to go around.

Harper had her tonsil/adenoid surgery on the 12th. Her asthma started flaring up the week before so there was a lot of talk about postponing it since apparently asthma and anesthesia don't go well together. Thankfully after a medley of steroids and other medicines her asthma doctor cleared her for surgery. I was so worried about the actual surgery and complications that I didn't put a lot of thought into her recovery and it was definitely a lot harder on her than we were expecting. She ran a fever for several days after and also developed a pretty nasty upper respiratory infection...which is pretty much the worst possible time ever to come down with a bad cough. There were many sleepless, tearful nights with the two of us out on the couch. She refused food for a week and even getting popcicles down her was challenging, but thankfully she started feeling much better the second week. Until a really painful UTI landed us at urgent care late one night. I'm telling you, that poor girl has been through the ringer this month. The good news is that the surgeon said her tonsils and adenoids were huge and taking them out should definitely cure her apnea issues.

The girls are doing well. They fit in to our family almost like they were never not a part of it. All four of them play so well together. Lily and Harrison are so much alike in personality it is hilarious. Except when it's not...they are both super hard-headed and stubborn and love to test boundaries. ;)

They still have moments where the trauma they've been through resurfaces and it's been a challenge learning how to navigate through all of that. To decipher which tears are grief and which tears are just not-getting-my-way toddler tears. To know when they need correction and firmness and when they just need a big hug and some grace and a reminder that they are loved no matter what and it's all going to be okay.

I am exhausted. All the adrenaline has worn off and I have been feeling very stretched thin. Between the demands of 4 young children in general, I've also been taking care of a recovering sickling, potty training the twins, coordinating countless appointments and visits, and celebrating both Rick and the twins' birthdays. But I know it is going to get easier. I didn't have a moment away from the kids for the first 6 weeks but we now have 2 approved babysitters. I had one come over for a couple of hours last week when I took Harper to an appointment and ran some errands and it was an encouraging reminder that I will soon be getting mental breaks and have some time to take care of things when the kids start preschool next week. And on Saturday we had our first night out in months. It was amazing and refreshing and so much fun! We will definitely be escaping the crazy at our house once a week for date nights going forward.

And now for an update about the girls' case.

Right now they have weekly visitations with their older siblings and their dad. I have many mixed feelings about all of it. When they see their family you can see the joy in their sweet little faces. I'm so happy for them in those moments because I can only imagine how hard it must be to be separated from your family. But at the same time I feel like the bandaid gets ripped off a little after each visit. They have come so far in 2 months and made a lot of progress emotionally. They have adjusted very well here. The visitations stir up a lot of emotions that they don't really know how to process yet and I hate that for them.

Rick and I went to the permanency conference a couple of weeks ago. When children come into custody there are 3 possible permanency goals assigned to the case: 1) parent reunification; 2) related adoption (biological family); 3) unrelated adoption. From what our CPS caseworker told me, cases are considered open status for up to a year. After a year, if the first two goals are not close to being met, then they start seeking termination of parental rights and shift toward unrelated adoption. 6 weeks in to our girls' case, the goal was already changed from parent reunification to unrelated adoption. Placing the girls back with their parents isn't an option and there aren't any biological family members that have been identified as eligible caregivers. Again, mixed emotions. Relief that they will not be going back to their previous environment, but huge sadness that they are losing their parents. Both joy and loss are born out of adoption. It is most definitely bittersweet.

They will continue having visits with their dad until his rights are terminated. In a way I feel like it's kind of like knowing someone with terminal cancer. You're thankful for the time left but know that some huge grief is right around the corner. My heart hurts for not just the kids, but for their parents as well.

After the permanency goal change Rick and I have had some discussions about the big "A" word. Before, we were protecting our hearts and didn't even want to entertain the thought of adoption until we knew it was a likely possibility. And now it appears it's heading in that direction, although the state will seek an adoptive home for all 4 before they would separate them permanently. I'm still not letting my mind wander that far for long, but it has allowed me to peek in at part of my heart that I was keeping closed before. It's a hard place to be. One part of me screams these girls really could be our daughters forever! and another part whispers don't you dare go there yet. Either way, we will continue loving them like our own and praying for God's will to be done, whatever that looks like.

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