You say tomato, I say t’mater.

08/15/2011

Did you know tomatoes are the state fruit of Tennessee? They grow wonderfully here. Our peach tree was a big disappointment (again) this year. They all rotted. Our black raspberries and (tiny) strawberries earlier this summer were delicious but this time of the year, it’s all about the tomato. Our area of town even has an annual Tomato Art Festival, which we missed because we were out of town. (Post from 2009.) Bummer.

Between Jason’s tour schedule and our new foster parenting adventure, we kept our garden small this year. We had originally planned on adding two more 4’x8′ beds. I’m very glad we decided to wait until next year for that! We have two tomato plants on one end and strawberry plants on the other. We also had romaine lettuce and arugula before it got too hot.

Incidentally, Tennessee’s state bird, the mockingbird, loves to eat the state fruit. Darn birds. There are still plenty of cherry tomatoes to go around though. And very soon (we started them late) we’ll have ripe beef steak tomatoes. Yum!


Phone Photo Friday

08/12/2011

Splashing in puddles on the patio chairs.

Please pray for us today… it’s an important day. Thanks!


Gifts for New Foster Parents

08/11/2011

Let me make it clear: THIS IS NOT A PLEA FOR GIFTS!

(The baby doll and stroller was a gift from my parents.)

Today marks 2 weeks that Jason and I have been foster parents. I mean, technically I guess it’s been longer since we’ve been certified, but it’s been 2 weeks since we welcomed our first placement into our home, our precious little Ladybug. That means we’ve survived our first 2 weeks of parenthood. Yay! A lot of people asked us right away what we needed and how they could help. We were in a whirlwind of exhaustion…physical from carrying around a big toddler, but more so mental and emotional exhaustion. All we really wanted was a nap and people were offering us play dates and toys and clothes. We initially turned down offers for clothing (and toys and play dates) because we weren’t sure if L would be with us longer than a week. What we really wished someone would have offered was to bring us a meal or to come and sit with Ladybug for an hour so we could clean the house or run to the grocery store—things that we would have done before her arrival had we known when it would be. Thankfully, a few people said “Let me know if you need anything!” And I sheepishly responded, “Could you bring us a meal?” We were so drained at first, all I could muster the strength to make was pasta for several days in a row. Thankfully, two friends brought us 2 meals each, which really turned out to be enough food to get us through a week. Praise the Lord! After we found out we’d have L at least several weeks, I started accepting offers for clothing and toys since she really didn’t come with much of anything. So with my limited experience, here is my list of suggested gifts for new foster parents, should you happen upon some in your circle of friends:

• meals! Have I made this point clear already? Gift certificates for take out or pizza would be nice ideas too

• a date night. My parents offered to babysit one night after we put little Ladybug to bed, around 8pm. My mama said, “The best thing you can do for your child is love your spouse.” We went out for dinner and then went clothes shopping for her.

• toys. Ask the parents what they need or want though, because some kids might come with a lot of things or the parents might already have a big collection. Kids music, DVDs, book, games, Target and Amazon.com gift cards, are all great ideas.

• clothing. This is a sticky one. Some kids come with a lot of clothing. Ours came with a random hodge podge of items with hardly any matching outfits, some of it 2 sizes too small, some of it a size too big, no pajamas, no socks, no long pants. If it had only been for a week, we would have been fine. However, once we knew we had more time with her, we definitely needed some more items. (With toys and clothing keep in mind that anything you buy for the child, belongs to the child.)

• gift certificates for photography or getting prints made (Snapfish, Kodak, etc.) to capture and keep memories for the parents and for the kids to take with them

• offer to babysit, even if it’s just for an hour or two while the kid is napping. Figuring out when to clean the house, mow the lawn, etc. can be challenging for new parents.

• space. Visits with close friends and family were great but bonding, building attachments and trust with new parents take a lot of time. Meeting tons of new people can be really overwhelming for a child. For children who haven’t learned healthy attachment with adults, meeting a new adult that is instantly kissing you and telling you he or she loves you is not teaching the child healthy, normal relationship boundaries.

After writing this post, I realized I actually wrote about this before… from the other side of the fence. No contradictions but there is are also some ideas for gifts before the first child arrives.


Thank you, Ohdeedoh!

08/10/2011

I failed to mention it here last week (crazy week, you know?) but last Monday—4 days after Ladybug arrived—Ohdeedoh ran a very kind interview with me and a tour of our kids’ room. I’m honored that they would choose to share our story with their readers. Also thank you and welcome to all of you who have been stopping by here after reading about us on Ohdeedoh! I hope you’ll stick around and share in this exciting new journey with us.


Mystery Girl

08/09/2011

Perhaps you’re wondering why all of the photos of our little girl are faceless and why I’m not using her name. It’s not a strict rule from our training, but Jason and I have chosen to protect her identity. First of all, we’re not her legal guardians; the state is. Secondly, someone may be looking for her and it’s our job to keep her safe. So, her name for the purposes of blogging and facebook is L. Or lately, I’ve been calling her Ladybug. (Which is incidentally now a blog category in the “FILE UNDER” menu to the left, Family: Ladybug) I thought I’d explain that in case it seemed bizarre that I was cropping out the best part of the photos… her beautiful little face. And believe me, I am taking tons of pictures that aren’t creepily-cropped, for my personal use.

I need to come up with some creative, identity-concealing photo tricks. Any photographer friends or fellow foster parents out there have suggestions?


Front Garden Expansion: Phase 4

08/08/2011

Look! A blog post that isn’t about the kid! 🙂 I’ll get back to writing about her tomorrow, probably. I didn’t want to leave this series unfinished.

We got our gravel delivered and spread in the front garden. It’s close to being finished. Jason asked the delivery guys not to spread it all the way to the edges because he wants to had a landscaping border first, to keep the gravel from spilling into the grass. Weed eaters and pebbles are a bad combination… our front window can testify. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this since I identified the plants in the Phase 3 post. So, on with the pictures…


Phone Photo Friday

08/05/2011

(Picture borrowed from Jason’s phone this week.)

We’ve tried so hard to keep our cocker spaniel Lucy from getting fat but she’s getting a lot of extra snacks these days.


House Rules

08/04/2011

It wasn’t a requirement for us but I thought it would be a good idea to come up with some solid House Rules before we have any kiddos bouncing around in our house. I took some inspiration from others’ house rules (K&D and Meg from whatever…though I can’t find the specific posts) and some design inspiration from here, and came up with 6 House Rules for our home.

When our home study writer asked me on the spot if we had any house rules, all I could say was “no hitting, no breaking things, no throwing toys across the room…you know, normal parenting stuff.” All of that seems like a given to me and falls under the umbrella of  “show love,” because really part of showing love is respecting other people and property. “Take risks” could be twisted, I suppose. Running out in front of a car is taking a risk. Standing on the dining room table is taking a risk. But, taking risks is an important value in our household and what I’m really thinking of is … Take a risk and try the brussel sprouts even though they look gross. Take a risk and trust us to love and parent you even though you’ve had your heart broken by adults in the past.

We have little L with us now and she’s too young to really understand the rules much. She’s great at showing love, taking risks, doing her best and having fun. Work together needs a little tweaking, especially when it comes to diaper changes and snotty nose wiping. But she is already learning so much. Yesterday papa taught her how to blow her nose in a tissue and how to say please. And tell the truth? Well, she’s 1. It’s hard to tell sometime whether she’s lying or mistaken, especially with yes or no questions.

You can download a free printable (8.5×11) PDF of these house rules if you’d like.


Not-The-Mama

08/03/2011

Jason is home. THANK GOD. He travels a lot for his career as a musician and I’m totally fine with that. I love that he gets to travel. However, becoming a foster parent and a parent for the first time while he was 4,000 miles away was not easy. After 3 days of carrying around a 25 lb. sweetie who loves to snuggle and needs lots of extra hugs these days, along with the up and down getting into and out of the crib, the high chair, the car seat, etc. my arms were killing me. I am so happy that Jason is home with his strong, sexy, man arms.

This is a strange way to become a parent, no doubt about that. We’re learning so much, having a lot of fun, and we’re pretty exhausted, too. Oh, and we’re still supposed to be earning a living too, right? My brother-in-law who just became a daddy in February promises that we’ll fall into a nice rhythm soon and be able to balance it all. I hope he’s right.

Regardless of the unusual circumstances, witnessing your spouse become a parent has got to be one of the coolest things ever. I could see his love and interest and excitement through their Skype interactions the first couple days but actually getting to see Jason scoop up this little girl and give her hugs and kisses was the sweetest thing. And to see her reach up to him, asking to be picked up and held in his secure arms was precious.

We don’t know a whole lot about little L’s family situation but the only relatives we’ve heard about are female, which leads us to assume she has never really experienced the love of a daddy. Another clue is that she keeps calling Jason “mama,” (which she is also calling me and my mom.) We keep saying, no that’s “papa.” And she says, “Papa.” But then if he walks out of the room, she calls out for him, “Mama!”

I’m so happy that Jason has been not just willing to fill in this gap for however long she’s ours, but that he is truly excited to be her dad. He’s excited to take her out to ice cream and to the park and to hold her hand while she’s toddling around. He’s happy to feed her and hold her as she’s falling asleep and to let her bury her face against his chest when she’s scared of a new situation. His desire to protect her stirs up a righteous anger, usually directed toward “the system” that would allow her to get bounced around from home to home.

Jason is doing an awesome job being a papa. I’m so proud of him for doing this, for agreeing to give himself so fully and to love someone so completely, knowing that she may be ripped away from us. And I say ripped away because even if we agree that her moving back with her original family is the best thing for her (and if we don’t agree, there isn’t much we can do about it…) it’s still going to be the most awful heart ripping pain we’ve ever experienced. We selfishly hope that she can stay with us longer… forever? We just don’t know right now. But more than anything, we want the best for her. We want her to have a hope and a future, a great life. We want her to always know that she is loved, precious, and wanted.


Everything changes…

08/02/2011

when you love some, love some, love someone… (Cue the Kathy Troccoli song from the 80s)

In this case, I’m busy loving someone 2.5 feet tall. I can’t tell you her name or show you a picture, sorry. But trust me, she is absolutely beautiful! On Thursday night we were placed with a little girl. She is so sweet, silly, playful, cuddly and fun. She’s a great eater and a great sleeper. She really could not be more perfect. We’re not sure what the future holds beyond this week (we’ll find out more on Friday) but for now we are savoring every minute with her.

I’ll try to keep up with my blogging this week but no promises. There are more important matters to attend to, if ya know what I mean. And my posts might be a little bit centered around her, because, well, my brain is pretty consumed right now as I was just thrust into the world of being “Mama!” (that’s what little girl has been calling me) for the first time with an almost 1.5 year old, in a very unique way. Thank God for the wonderful support of my family and friends, especially my mom. Jason was out of the country on a short, week-long trip to Scandinavia when I got the call so the first 3.5 days I was on my own. On my own with my mom never more than a phone call or text away, and often with us, too.  I’m so glad Jason’s back now and he absolutely loves her and is a huge help! He’s an awesome daddy. I knew he would be.