Foster Care Round 2 Timeline:


2/28/13 Home visit/inspection for reopening (exactly 1 year after we closed our home from Round 1)

3/22/13 Get approval letter in the mail, dated 3/7/13. We’re officially open

4/23/13 Call to case worker about some documents and mention we haven’t received any placement calls. Three hours later we get a Call #1 for a 2.5 year old boy. We say yes. Less than an hour later placement worker calls back to say they found a family member.

4/26/13 Call #2 for a 17 year old boy. I say no (due to age and circumstance).

4/26/13 – 4/28/13 Respite for Sunshine, an 11 year old girl (arranged directly with her foster mom, who is an acquaintance)

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Weekend Recap: Calls #1 and #2 and Respite


I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to get back to regular blogging this week but I’m gonna try. I’m still between computers so I don’t have any photos to post yet. Last weekend turned out to be quite interesting. Here are the bullet points:

• Friday afternoon we got our second placement call…for a 17 year old boy. I said no. (Our age cut off is 12 years old for now.) Our first placement call came on Tuesday evening for a 2.5 year old boy. We said yes to him but less than an hour later the placement worker called back to say they were able to locate a family member to take him. Based on what I was told about his situation I am happy for him—sounds like it would most likely be very short term and I’m glad he can stay connected with people he knows. Also, I was a bit relieved because that’s so close to Ali’s age!

• After that phone call, I left work early Friday afternoon to pick up an 11 year old girl from her middle school after school program. I’m gonna call her “Sunshine” on here. She’s been living with another foster mom we know for most of a year and we had offered to do respite for the weekend since we’ve had a bedroom just sitting empty.

• We got back to our house and gave her a tour. The girls watched Curious George for a few minutes (Ali’s new favorite) until the notary from a title company came over so we could close the loan on our new house. We had been in a construction loan since June and finally got it converted into a permanent loan (regular mortgage). We’ve closed many loans in our 8 years as home owners but that was the first time someone had ever met us at our house on a Friday night. How awesome is that!

• After that we went out for pizza, kind of late, so it was bedtime when we got back home. Sunshine helped me give Ali a bath and then took a shower and while I read Ali books and put her to bed. We let Sunshine stay up a little later and watch one episode of Storage Wars with us since she could sleep in the next day.

• Saturday morning I woke Ali up at the crack of dawn for our second swimming class. We had massive downpours all weekend. Saturday was the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, which happened to go up and down the streets on either side of the community center where our class is. We had to park a block away and walk through the monsoon to get there so that was fun. Class was great though. Ali is so brave and is learning a lot. That deserves it’s own blog post. I’ll get around to it.

• We got home just as Jason and Sunshine were waking up. She helped me make chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Jason gave her a lesson on flipping them with the spatula since she was having trouble. It was sweet. She loves to cook and do anything  helpful in general. We finished the game of Sorry we had started the night before—she won. Our plans for the zoo were thwarted by the rain so instead we went to the mall.

• Bass Pro Shop turned out to be a zoo. Sunshine enthusiastically pushed Ali around in her stroller from display to display. We saw a bobcat, geese, ducks, raccoons, a skunk, turkeys, boars, a fox and lots of deer—all dead and stuffed, of course. They had some kids activities going on outside and Sunshine was excited to learn how to cast a fishing pole and shoot arrows at a giant target. We walked around inside the mall for a while and gave in to a Carousel ride that was expensive and kind of lame but I think both girls enjoyed it.

• While Ali was taking her afternoon nap Jason went to the grocery store to get supplies for the spaghetti and garlic bread dinner Sunshine wanted to make for us. While he was out, she and I watched the most bizarre Pinocchio movie. After dinner, the girls and I played with barbies and baby dolls for a while. After we put Ali to bed, we had a movie night with popcorn and root beer floats and some 1960s Godzilla movie. Sunshine was really into it but Jason and I kept kicking each other to keep from falling asleep.

• Sunday was church and we had to be there early since Jason was playing in the worship band. I felt bad waking up both tired girls so early but they both kept good attitudes. Thankfully, it seems that everyone at our church remembered that we’re foster parents and no one asked any intrusive questions. I didn’t need to explain much. I just introduced Sunshine as a friend that was staying with us for the weekend and she was only asked about her age and grade. She’s very polite and always finds something to compliment someone on immediately after meeting them.

• We had lunch at home and Sunshine chilled in front of the TV watching Dumbo while Jason milled around outside and Ali napped. I really wanted to be outside since the rain had finally let up and I’m not used to watching so much TV but I could tell Sunshine wanted to be near us. At one point Jason and I were outside looking up at our chimney (trying to analyze why water was coming into the living room side after our torrential rainstorms) and she came outside and said, “What are you doing? I want to be involved!” That pretty much sums up the whole weekend. She asked a lot of questions about everything and wanted to help do whatever we were doing…or watch TV, which I’m pretty sure was a treat for her. If she were going to be with us longer than 2 days, we’d definitely have to put some caps on the TV time and junk food but since it was just a weekend we didn’t fuss too much.

• Sunday evening we went out to dinner at Logan’s Steakhouse to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was much enjoyed by all. We went back to our house for presents and cake and then Sunshine’s foster mom arrived to pick her up.

I feel like I have so much more to process about this weekend and I may end up writing more about it—or not. It was definitely a good learning experience for us. I hope it was a fun getaway for her and a restful weekend for her foster mom. Ali did really well sharing our parental attention and seems to enjoy having another kid around. After a few short months as foster parents and then a really long break, one weekend was a big adjustment. I had a few “What the heck are we doing? Is this our life?” moments. We also had some good discussions—me and Sunshine, me and Jason, Jason and Sunshine. Spending time with an 11 year old cemented my decision to cut off our fostering at age 12 for now. I just don’t feel like I’m ready to jump into parenting a kid any older than that yet as a 20-something who only has experience parenting toddlers.

I mentioned that we got our first call on Tuesday evening. I didn’t mention, though, that it was just a few hours after I had talked to our case worker about some documents and mentioned that I was surprised we hadn’t gotten any calls in almost 2 months since we’d been approved. She said they’ve been getting mostly large sibling groups and older kids but I can’t help suspecting that after we got off the phone she said “Oh crap! Are they on the list?” Getting our first call a few hours later just seems too coincidental to me. And then getting Call #2 three days later. I guess we’ll see where it goes from here. It might be another interesting week!

Gone Migratin’ Be Back Soon


Well, this has been an interesting day. I didn’t have a chance to get a “proper” blog post written. We had a house guest last night and we have a different one this weekend so I’ve been preparing for that. Mainly, though, I got a new computer so I’ve been spending a lot of time moving files around and getting adjusted. The one of the left has been with me almost everyday for the past 7 years. It was an early college graduation gift from my parents that saw me through my last semester of design school and my first 6 years as a professional graphic design. It’s a little bittersweet to move on and the adjustment period is frustrating, however I’m so thankful to be upgrading to a newer, faster model. Bare with me while I get everything settled. I have several things I’ll be blogging about soon…a getaway to Florida, Ali’s first swimming lesson, some midcentury modern furnishings we’re discounting to clear out some space, and maybe a little bit about our current foster care situation though there is not much going on yet, I have a feeling its about to get interesting. I’ll be back to regular blogging soon, I hope.



homemade bubble solution -

Have you ever made your own bubble solution? It’s cheap, very easy and makes awesome bubbles! I’ve seen a lot of pins on Pinterest with homemade bubble recipes but this is the one I tried. I cut the recipe in half and used Dawn dish soap and light corn syrup. I found it to be too thick so I added more water.

With one breath and a simple little 1″ bubble wand, I can make 20-40 bubbles! Ali is thrilled. We’ll never be wasting our money on the “miracle” watery bubble solution at the store again. I’m hoping to try this out with a bigger bubble wand soon. Even with my little wand, I can get a bubble about 4″ in diameter.

Usually we do bubbles outside but sometimes if Ali is well behaved in the tub (in other words, not soaking me with splashing…) I’ll reward her with bubbles in the tub.

homemade bubble solution -

Dog photo bomb! (By the way, Ali is not crying in the background, she’s gasping/laughing because of the bubbles popping around her face. No children were harmed in the making of these photos. ;) However… Warning: it’s soapy and it will sting the eyes. She tends to get it on her hands from exuberant bubble decimation and then sometimes rubs her eyes.)

homemade bubble solution -

My Little Water Lover



I’ve got a little water lover on my hands and I’m so glad! We just recently got her a plastic wading pool but here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks. 

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We start swimming lessons this Saturday and I can’t wait!

Eating Outside: Toddler Solutions


As soon as it was warm though, I enthusiastically moved Ali’s high chair outside. Food throwing is one of my biggest pet peeves with her lately. (The other is splashing in the bath tub and soaking the mama, in case you were wondering.) Eating outside provided a temporary reprieve. I didn’t change the rules but it allowed me to stay more relaxed while correcting her, rather than getting stressed out about a strawberry smacking the white wall or a green bean getting smashed onto the wood floors. And getting stressed out makes me more likely to lose my temper with my sweet little girl. I’m a work in progress, as is she.

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We’ve also been spending a lot of time outdoors in general. My favorites (during Ali’s nap time) are lounging in the hammock, occasionally joined by a dog…


Walking around our property and picking up shards of glass (we started a jar for our collection about a month ago)…


and spotting beautiful creations while I’m picking up glass…


Ali likes to climb up the steps of the hot tub…


swing and spin in her swing…


And play in her giant sandbox…


Ali Mae: Fashionista


OK, the title is a little bit of an exaggeration. I have, however, started encouraging Ali to help pick out her outfits and I’m beyond excited about it! She doesn’t really care all that much. It’s mostly just fun to pull things out of the drawers and throw them. This is the first outfit she pulled…and truthfully, it was just based on whatever whatever she grabbed first.


I added the rainbow socks in an attempt to pull together the pink, green and purple. Later that day, we had a hair accessory party. She pulled out what she wanted and I put it on her head. I think she was up to 9 headbands at one point.


Then I discovered that she’s OK with hair clips now! Finally! I have so many cute ones made by kind friends and she’s always immediately pulled them out before. Maybe it’s because her hair is getting so long now. Or maybe it’s because she likes how they look. Regardless, I’m excited about all the new hair possibilities.


Here’s Ali’s second self-selected outfit. I’m really proud of this one. She chose the jeans and the black tee shirt. I suggested the pink furry vest since it was a cool day, and she enthusiastically said “Yeah!” When I opened her sock drawer, she went straight for the leg warmers. And they happen to match with pink and black stripes! Good one, Ali. And she chose her hot pink Dora socks and the green and purple hair clip. Oh my heart. When Jason saw this picture, he said, “She’s so cool!”


This outfit was all my doing. (We were in a hurry that morning so I picked it.) I love that she understands the concept of posing for pictures now. Right after I snap it, she runs over and says “Ali?” so she can see how it turned out.


Jason has a hoodie that shrank. It was too small for me, even, so we let Ali try it out.


Cuteness overload!


Oh, and girl loves some eyewear! She’s always after my glasses, which she calls “See” because I have to keep reminding her that I need them to see. (In other words, give them back!)


She can rock some sunglasses while we’re shopping, too.


And one time she even found Daddy’s glasses and gave them a try.


Oh, little girls are so much fun! I can’t wait until Ali starts dressing herself.

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Before & After: Bookshelf


From ugly, cheap bookshelf to cute, cheap bookshelf!

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While on the hunt for a dresser for the next kids’ room, I came across this little piece of junk bookshelf. It’s pressboard with a wood patterned laminate and it was dirty and wobbly. BUT… it was only $6.99 and I couldn’t resist! I’m on the lookout for bookshelves for the kids bedrooms, the den, my office…basically, I could use a lot of bookshelves in a lot of places.

My dear husband is the perfectionist when it comes to home projects. When I was in elementary school my mom bought me a poster of a kitten covered in paint that said “I’m not messy; I’m creative!” That pretty much sums up the way I do projects, which Jason can surely confirm. He also calls me the Swedish Chef as he’s cleaning up after me in the kitchen. All that to say, I painted the heck out of this thing. I was experimenting as I went. First I tried gray primer spray paint but it ran out. Then I tried flat black spray paint. (I’m a horrible spray painter, by the way.) That ran out too so I changed tactics and went with white ceiling paint for primer because we have a 5-gallon bucket of it in the garage. That worked. Then I painted it with the same quart of Glidden wall paint that I’ve used for the little nightstand dresser in Ali’s room and the recently purchased dresser. I figure maybe one day they’ll all end up in the same room. It took me 3 coats to cover this thing! Even after all my “primer” coats.

Before painting, I had added a few screws into the sides to try to stabilize it. They helped but I realized that it originally had a panel on the back, which would have helped the corners stay square. I came up with the idea of adding a piece of stained plywood to the back. We had the stain on hand. I used a rag to rub it onto the face and the edges of the plywood. When it was fairly dry (OK, not really…I was impatient…) I tacked it onto the back of the shelves with finishing nails. I really love how it turned out with the Granny Apple green and the American Walnut (color) wood. Oh, and the only thing I had to purchase was the plywood, which was around $10 and I had cut to size (from a 2’x4′ sheet) at the store. So this whole deal cost about $17.

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For now, it’s residing in the den. I needed a spot to put the DVD player so this room could start feeling more like a den and less like a playroom. I was also excited to have a spot to set up some of the awesome Barbie furniture my Granny made me. I could only fit about 1/4 of it on the shelf but that’s fine for now.


Ali immediately said “House!” when she saw it and she’s pretty excited about these two mutilated “Darbies” from my childhood.


The blonde has a broken neck and Ali is quite concerned about her head popping off. She brings it to me every time and says, “Oh no, Mama!” They’re both naked, missing one limb (from a dog attack) and have butchered haircuts. Based on how rough Ali plays with them, though, I think I’ll wait a year or two before buying her any new Darbies.


Junior Landscaping Apprentice


When Jason and I are doing yard work, Ali is either sleeping or helping. And by helping, I mean “helping.” Bless her heart, she wants so badly to be useful.


I was planning on getting Ali a sandbox this summer and then I realized, hello! We have a whole courtyard full of crushed rocks. Welcome to the giant sandbox, darling.


Look how she follows Jason around with her tiny shovel, trying to do exactly what he’s doing.


Such a beautiful picture of parenting and discipline, isn’t it? She learns how to act by watching and imitating us. We lead by example and it’s her instinct to follow.


It’s not forced. She could have been just playing in the rocks and that would have been fine. But she wanted to help Daddy. She wanted to do what Daddy was doing. She wants to be like Daddy.

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A Gut-Wrenching Adoption Story


I love to cry over a good adoption story. What can I say. I get adoption and it gets me. Every time. So I was thrilled to discover the Archibald Project. It’s produced by a couple that documents families’ adoption stories with video and photography. Great quality photos and videos to go along with great adoption stories? I’m there. One story in particular has really been wrecking me lately.

The Via family.

When I started watching their documentary, it sounded like many other adoption stories. They felt called to adoption and decided to add to their family of 5 by adopting a fourth child from Uganda. They were matched with a precious little girl named Chloe. But then their story takes an unusual twist.

Check out the video for yourself. You won’t be sorry.

Through a turn of events that I don’t know enough about to explain, the US government repeatedly denied Chloe access to come home to her new family in the United States. What would you do if your child was stranded somewhere…halfway across the world? To what great lengths would you go to get her, to bring her home? How hard would you fight? What would you be willing to sacrifice, to give up in order to have your whole family together?

The Vias were forced to ask themselves that question.

Their resolution: If they could not bring Chloe home, they would bring home to Chloe. They decided to pack up their lives in Raleigh, NC and move their family of 5 to Uganda so they could finally be together as a family of 6. Read their story and see lots of photos here.

This is the most beautiful picture of adoption I have ever seen. It blows all of the ill-minded pre-conceived notions about adoption out of the water. This was not about a family who just wanted a baby or a child. It was not about achieving a goal. It was not about a token piece for their family or making a statement about international adoption or transracial families. There was not one once of selfish motive. It was all about this: there once was a little girl who didn’t have a family. But she is an orphan no-more.

The Vias made it to Uganda and were united with Chloe. Go here to see the pictures of their airport send off, their travels across the globe and the beautiful moments their family of six was finally all together. 

Oooh! And just posted: Adjusting to life in Jinja, Uganda.

(In case it’s not obvious, the video below is an advertisement. Click on the links above to watch and read this adoption story at The Archibald Project website.)


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