Thursday, October 30, 2014

Batman & Robin

You know you have a great sister when she exclaims that she's dressing up as "my bubba's sidekick!" for Halloween. She picked a character that I'm pretty sure she had never even heard of before her brother's sell, over alllll the princesses she's obsessed with these days, just because her brother was going as batman and she naturally wanted to be batman's best friend. Or as our 4-year old batman likes to say, his "assistant." He's not quite perfected his sales pitch, but either way, he won her over easily. Now that is sisterly love right there, folks.











 They truly are best friends and I hope their bond carries through the rest of their lives.



Wonder Woman

I feel like I have been going nonstop since 6am this morning. It's been quite a productive day and it feels GOOD! I just love checking things off my to-do list. I should totally go as Wonder Woman for Halloween....oh wait, I am. :)

Harrison's class had their fall party at school today. Even though the kids are used to passing up treats thanks to their nut allergies, I still always feel bad that they have to miss out. So Harper and I spent the morning baking our own pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread and took it up to the school so Harrison could participate in the fall dessert festivities with his friends. Baking with my sweet little helper is one of my favorite things to do.

I accidentally forgot to mention how much of this is left

I also got several sewing projects done. I don't think I've shared yet, but we have a little vacation coming up soon.



SQUEE!!!!

I've never been to Disney World and I think I am just as giddy as the kids are going to be. We are keeping it a surprise until we get to the airport and I have a feeling they are gonna freak when we tell them. Can't wait! I have had such a ball planning out all the details and putting together things that nobody is going to care about except for me. Like handmade dresses, coordinating t-shirts, excel sheet packing lists, autograph books, and little magical surprises scattered throughout our trip. Planning a trip to WDW is like crack for Type A people like myself. Fastpasses, dining reservations, color-coordinated itinerary, you name it -- it just doesn't get much better.

I may or may not be slightly Mickey-obsessed these days.


I also finished up Harper's Halloween costume. The kids have a candy parade tomorrow so I gave myself a lot of extra time to get it done. Ahem. Nothing like a little procrastination.



Bet you have no clue what Harrison is dressing up as. Lol. I took a few pictures of them in their costumes this afternoon and they turned out super cute. I'll have to share them later though because I have sugar cookies in the oven for Harper's party tomorrow...3 baking recipes in 1 day sure makes for one happy momma. Not that I've been sampling the treats all day long or anything. ;)


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Rest of September

Recapping the rest of last month...

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The kids started their new school. They love it!  This is Harrison's last year before Kindergarten (cue the big, salty tears) and he's in the Kinderskills program. He's already learned so much and is thriving. He always comes home excited to tell us the sight word of the day and what he learned. Harper is in a great class, too. One of her teachers has a teenage daughter with a severe nut allergy and has been such a blessing to us. We are still learning how to navigate the waters and she is a veteran. I feel like she took me right under her wing and she's given me lots of encouragement and advice for when they get to public school. What an answered prayer to be able to drop her off and know that she is in great hands.

Harrison was sick and missed the first week of school. He had a high fever for 5 days and felt crummy, but no other symptoms. He still wanted to get in the picture with Harper and carried his backpack and lunch box all the way into their school, hoping I would change my mind about letting him go. You can tell his smile is so forced. Poor guy.


dropping the girls off

He made up for missing the first week, though. He was SO proud of himself for getting this. Before he was even in the car he was telling me all about the certificate in his backpack and couldn't wait to show me.


****

Sydney gave us quite a scare. We thought she had a stroke because all of the sudden she could hardly stand and when she did try to walk, she would immediately stumble and fall down. Her eyes were darting back and forth, her head was tilted to one side, and she wouldn't eat or drink anything. We called and made her an appointment at the vet the next day and were worried we wouldn't be coming home with her. Be glad you were not around my poor husband on this day. I felt sorry for his employees. ;)


But thankfully it turned out that she had "Old Dog Vestibular Disease" and had not had a stroke! Basically it is just extremely bad vertigo that older dogs sometimes get out of the blue. The vet told us the acute attack typically ends after a day or two and then they usually make a full recovery. She ended up having 2 acute attacks a week a part that lasted several days each. She also lost her hearing in the process. She is much more neurotic than she was before (lots of anxiety and following us around constantly) and she still has dizzy spells where she'll fall down, but she's eating and drinking regularly again.



****

The kids love to draw. Not color...draw. They are appalled when I try to give them a coloring book. How dare I cramp their creativity by giving them lines to color within. GAH, MOM.

This is a fun age for drawing. Harper is just now learning how to draw people and objects and it's hilarious. And here is a picture that Harrison drew. Lately he's been on a history kick and is infatuated with wars. We've checked out several library books and even as an adult, my eyes still glaze over reading through them. Now math, that's a different story. But he most definitely didn't get the history buff gene from me. He told me, "I drew a story of a war between England, Japan, & America. I need you to send it on everyone's Facebook."


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We celebrated Ashley's birthday with a trip to Schlitterbahn. I thought the kids might be too young but they loved it. Harrison is scared of heights but eventually mustered up the courage to climb all the steps (after a few tries) and once he finally made it down his first slide, he was hooked! Harper, on the other hand, has no fear whatsoever and was trying to climb up on top of the rail so she had a better view of the ground below.


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The kids built me this trophy and wanted me to take their picture in front of it. It was a trophy "for being the best mom in the world." Sweet, right? 


However, yesterday they built me one with only 4 pieces and told me, "here's your trophy for yelling at us when you got mad. It's really small because yelling isn't nice." Ouch!!

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Fridays are our Family Nights. We either go out to dinner and pick a fun activity to do or we grill out in the backyard and play board games or have a movie night. This particular Friday we decided it was time for another backyard camp out.



she was actually very helpful and skilled with the hammer!

nothing better than root beer out of a glass bottle

Of course this guy serenaded us :)




So...a parenting fail? Waking up the next morning and asking Harrison what his favorite part about camping was and having him respond, "going outside the tent when you guys were all asleep and playing with the fire."  Awesome! Thankfully after further investigation it was determined that "playing" meant he was just trying to put out the embers with a water gun. But still. ::insert wide-eyed emoji::

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 Harper sees me straightening my hair all the time and has been asking me to try it on her hair. Finally, one day I gave in. She loved it. I did not. I mean, she's beautiful no matter what, but oh how I love her precious curls.




She kept running in and looking at herself in the mirror with a huge smile. Then she came out of her room dressed up to dance and gave us a little performance. She is such a goober. Love her to a million billion pieces.





Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkins

We went to the pumpkin patch this morning.

And I'm actually blogging about it in the same season. It's a miracle!

:)

I wondered if our kiddos were getting too old to enjoy the pumpkin patch. I was wrong. They loved it! This was the easiest year to get pictures, too. In fact, they ran up to the photo props and asked for me to take pictures. It's been months since I've gotten out my fancy camera and I need to be better at that because they are at such good ages for snapping photos.

Rick met us there and they were thrilled to see their daddy.



Ok Mom, take my picture!

so Harrison

my babies


Look, Mom! Squirrel! (literally)

She is always giving us kisses. Such a sweet girl.
and he is always wiping them off :)




Harrison took this picture all by himself

Harper's turn. Very "artistic" :)

I'm pretty sure she's worn these cat ears every single day since she begged me to buy them for her.

These freckles. This boy!

2014


Friday, October 17, 2014

Renewed Hope

Today marks 4 weeks since the girls left.

We only had a 2 hour window to pack everything, prepare them emotionally, and say our goodbyes. It was an extremely hard day to say the least. I was trying my best and failing miserably at keeping my emotions under control. I thought I had done a better job guarding my heart and reminding myself that this day was always a possibility. But now that I'm on the other side of it, I know that it's impossible to protect yourself from heartache in foster care. But also that that's not a bad thing. We loved these girls like they were our own and that is the only kind of love they deserve. It means setting yourself up for getting your heart broken, but isn't that true in any relationship where love is involved? There is pain, but there is also beauty in the pain.




After Rick left court on Thursday afternoon, he had a feeling the judge was going to rule the way he did on Friday morning when it resumed. I'm thankful for that little bit of warning. I stayed up long after they were all tucked in bed putting together a scrapbook for them in case they did have to go. My biggest fear was that they would feel abandoned by us and I wanted them to know how much they are loved and how much we treasured our time with them. I read it to them several times as we were waiting for their ride and just kept reminding them how much we love them and how thankful we were to be their mommy and daddy while they needed us. They were immediately very upset when we told them they were going to live with their relative. I told them that we wished they could live with us forever, but that their relative loves them very much too and really misses them. And we kept reassuring them that they were going to have so much fun now that they get to be with their brother and sister again. Hearing that they were being reunited with their siblings gave them a lot of comfort so we shifted the focus to that.


I realized that they were going to have a scrapbook of our memories together and I wasn't, so I took pictures of it so I can make another one for us. Too much to pixelate, but here are the first and last pages.




It's still hard to look through the pictures, but I'm amazed by what God has done and shown us in the weeks since this day. Gentle reminders that even though we aren't in control and things didn't play out the way we would have chosen, He's got a bigger plan for the girls and for our family. He turned raw feelings of brokenness and heartache into renewed hope. I went from feeling physically sick about the situation to having such a peace about things -- which has been such a gift from the Lord because it is not my personality AT ALL. I'm so thankful for answered prayers for comfort and wisdom.

We still miss the girls tremendously. The first couple of weeks were rough for me and it took some time to readjust to our old normal. And even now that we have, we still think and talk about them every day. But I no longer feel anxious. I no longer feel heartbroken. I no longer feel angry or hurt. I feel thankful. Thankful for having them in our family, even if it was only for 3 months. Thankful for this transforming experience. Thankful for a sovereign God. It's a weird place to be. If it were up to us, we would jump at the opportunity to still have them here with us. But I'm now able to talk about and laugh at the memories we have with them without feeling that crushing heartache. God had us in each others' lives for the exact time He planned, and once I realized that maybe my expectations were based on what I wanted instead of what God wanted, I was able to work through my disappointment and grief much more easily. A realigned perspective can work wonders on a hurting heart.

Harrison & Harper are champs. The affect on the kids was our biggest concern going in, even though God reassured us many times before we went through the licensing process. I can honestly say that we had absolutely no need to be concerned. In fact, quite the opposite. This experience has grown their little hearts far more than anything we could have taught them. They both have much more compassion. Before every meal, they each say the sweetest little prayers that the girls also have a meal to eat and that they are safe and happy. They ask more questions about people in need and how we can help. Harrison even came to us and said, "for my birthday party, I want people to donate the presents to foster kids since I already have a lot of toys and foster kids don't have any. And toys make everybody happy so they need some to cheer them up."  I feel like this experience very likely blessed our family more than it blessed the twins, even though they were the ones technically in need.

We've been reflecting a lot on our journey lately. Rick and I (and the kids, too) have had many discussions about our experience and where our hearts are and where we want to go from here. When the girls left we knew we needed to take a little time to process things and breathe a little. To grieve and heal. To just be; and in the "freedom" of our less demanding schedule and responsibilities,  we've been enjoying the heck out of our two little blessings, recharging, and most importantly, keeping open ears and open hearts to listen for God's direction.

A dear friend bought me a journal last year. I am one of those people who loves the idea of journaling and have had several of them since I was a child. But I'm also one of those people who only writes one entry before losing it, forgetting, or just getting too lazy to follow through. But I'm thankful that I filled the pages up on this one. There were SO many ways God made it clear to us that he wanted us to begin the fostering process that I knew I wanted to document them. Here is what I wrote on the inside cover:

Fostering Love
I'm using this notebook to journal our journey through the fostering/adoption process, beginning with how God answered prayers through scripture and confirmed to us time and time again that this is what He wants us to do. I hope that it will serve as encouragement and a reminder that we are right where He wants us, even when the journey gets tough. 

And what a source of encouragement it has been. I read through it in tears on days that I felt extremely in over my head. And I read through it in tears on the days my heart felt shattered when our girls left.

I started writing in it when we initially began considering foster care just so I would have a place to formulate my thoughts and prayers. And every week God still provides me with pages and pages of new encouragement and insight to jot down. It has been such a raw and vulnerable year, but I have never felt closer to God or felt like I was truly hearing from Him like this. And I've never been this eager or excited that I'm NOT the one in control. There is something so beautiful and freeing and humbling to submit your will and follow Him. Scary and so hard at times, but also so worth it.



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