Preparedness

09/22/2011

Thursdays have been my unofficial foster parenting update day. It’s been 3 weeks since Ladybug left. It’s been hard. Probably the hardest thing we’ve ever done. But considering all, we are doing well and moving forward little by little. A few days after our goodbye we left on vacation. The timing worked out perfectly for us to get away although we had been really hoping to take her to Disney World with us. The week away was a great distraction. The house felt so quiet and empty when we got home. We returned to a bit of a mess. Nothing major but you know, the typical post beach vacation 6 loads of laundry, pile of mail, tall grass, expired milk, stale house. You should always clean the house and make the beds before you leave on vacation. My mama taught me that. But I ran out of time and didn’t do it. So we came home to a filthy house.

By the end of last week our house was dusted, vacuumed and mopped. The refrigerator was cleaned out and restocked with groceries. The 6 loads of laundry were all put away. Mail was sorted. Bills were paid. It was such a relief. Not just to feel “caught up” but because I was feeling so unprepared for our next placement. Feeling physically prepared has really helped me start moving towards mental, emotional and spiritually preparedness.

We’ve been getting a lot of calls but all of the calls have been for school age kids. Not only are the kids a bit out of the parameters we’ve set up (birth-5 years old) but it was still a bit too soon for us. I think we’re almost there though.

(PSA: If you’ve been considering becoming a foster parent, please take the first step today and call a local agency to request more information. There seems to have been a big influx of school age kids into the state system due to the start of the new school year. The kids we have been called for have all been siblings between 5-12.)

When Ladybug arrived, Jason was away on a long trip and I was totally bumming around the house like a bachelorette. The floors needed vacuumed and I hadn’t been grocery shopping in a while. Those two factors made me feel so unprepared for her arrival. I didn’t even have a banana or Cheerios to give her for breakfast the next morning. (Thank God my parents live so close and could bring those 2 things over at 10pm!) I’m making it a point to always have bananas in the house from now on. I know it’s petty but it’s a tangible symbol of our preparedness.


Front Garden Expansion: Phase 5

09/21/2011

Yesterday’s post inspired me to finish another series I started months ago. Here is the final (for now) phase of our front garden expansion project. Recap: Jason plotted out the garden expansion by cropping the grass really low. Then I helped him put WeedBlock down over the whole area (750+ sq. ft.!). We positioned and planted the first set of grasses and cacti. We got a big delivery of gravel. And now here we are. Jason got some brown metal landscape edging from the hardware store. We decided to go with metal over plastic this time because we’re assuming it will last a lot longer (and not get mangled by the occasional lawn mower clip.) Jason also added a few more plants and moved a pretty blue pot from the back patio out to the front. I love it. Jason did an awesome job with this whole project. I’m really thankful that he loves gardening because he makes our yard look super.

Also, Jason is frugal. (Praise the Lord!) He likes to buy medium size plants and split them up to save money. Yes, it looks a bit sparse now but it will fill in a lot over the next couple of years. Patience, young grasshopper.

The papery, blue-green grasses below are new. I have no idea what they are. If you care, leave a comment and Jason will respond.

Some already established plants now feel unbalanced in this corner but not for long.


House Tour: Master Bedroom

09/20/2011

Master Bedroom

If you were reading this blog prior to our kids room tour on Ohdeedoh, you may remember that once upon a time I was doing a house tour series. I started with the living room, then the kitchen and dining room, then the studio, the hall bathroom, the hallway and cloffice, and the master bathroom and laundry room. I haven’t yet shared the master bedroom because we have an embarrassing lack of night stands. There I said it. I’m ashamed about my alarm clock sitting on a pile of books. However, since it’s been several months now and we STILL don’t have night stands, the house tour must go on. Or something like that. (And just watch, we’ll probably end up finding the perfect night stands this week.) I’m swallowing my pride. Here is our (bedside table-less) master bedroom:

See, I’m too ashamed to even post these pictures full size…

Moving on.

Another embarrassment of our bedroom… the dresser with the missing drawer. We got a lot of good suggestions here and we haven’t done anything about it yet except add balance by replacing another drawer with a basket.

Who let those kids get married?

Jason’s mom made us this cross stitch as a wedding gift and it fits right into our fluffy cloudy white bedroom. (That was my goal… light, airy and clean like a cloud. Not like a sterile laboratory.)

I fought against the idea of installing a ceiling fan. I voted for a capiz shell chandelier. But it really does make a huge difference in keeping our room cooler.

There. That wasn’t too painful I guess. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of a complete master bedroom to replace these with by the end of the year.


Vacation Via Twitter (Not Really)

09/19/2011

I have a policy about not telling the internet world when we’re out of town so I don’t write much on Twitter during vacation. I did think about tweeting a lot though. Here’s what I would have said:

9/5/11 3:30pm We’re off to Naples! Or at least as far as we can drive tonight.

9/5/11 6:23pm Shared a delicious pot roast dinner at Cracker Barrel. Their service is so fast and good, cheap food, too.

9/5/11 6:59pm Cracker Barrel has more billboards than any other single company in the country. I learned that in an advertising class.

9/6/11 12:05am Cozy home away from home: air mattress in the back of the silver bullet. Yes, that’s right. We’re not paying for a motel to sleep for a few hours.

9/6/11 5:30am The sun is not up yet but we’re wide away thanks to the parking lot cleaner guy and his leaf blower. Back in the Wal-Mart to use the bathroom then we’re off to find a Starbucks.

9/6/11 1:22pm We arrived at our hotel in Naples. I drove the last 2 of 14 hours. Gotta do my part.

9/6/11 1:35pm It’s sunny and humid and beautiful. Straight to the beach we go.

9/6/11 4:47pm Complete relaxation this afternoon. No walking along the beach. No playing in the ocean. Just sitting and absorbing. Peace.

9/6/11 7:04pm Amazingly delicious and HUGE dinner at Cracklin’ Jack’s tonight. Fried Grouper was outta this world. It would have taken us hours to eat all this food. #vittles

9/7/11 We both got our ocean fix today. I got to ride waves and float around in the warm, sparkly salt water while Jason got to play beach explorer and found shells, sand dollars and crabs. I found some half-buried sunglasses.

9/7/11 8:10pm Dinner tonight was a surprise… the most we’ve ever paid for a meal. Surprise! Yelp has just $$ by this restaurant where it definitely should have been $$$. Cloyde’s was super, though. No complaints.

9/7/118:12pm I got the Chilean Sea Bass which was good but Jason got the surf and turf. The filet mignon was ahhmazing.

9/7/11 8:15pm “This filet mignon is so moist and soft it’s like cake. Meat cake.” – me

9/7/11 9:36pm We drove around looking for a good ice cream place and ended up back at the hotel ice cream less. Walked in and out of Reginas because we didn’t have cash. #getacreditcardmachine #youarelosingbusiness

9/18/11 9:04am Best Western Naples has a lovely poolside continental breakfast. We’re surrounded by palm trees, flowers and cute little lizards.

9/8/11 9:45am Checking out the Collier County free museum today. Mostly interested in the native plant garden.

9/8/11 12:11pm There are so many beautiful, modest mid-century modern ranches in Naples. It’s a shame they keep getting bulldozed to build beach mansions.

9/8/11 2:45pm Saw a blackish fin pop up in the water about a 100 yds from me. Moment of panic. Then I saw another fin and realized it was 2 dolphins. #relief #sharkavoidance

9/8/11 4:32pm It was supposed to rain all day but it ended up not raining at all. Another perfect beach day for the one who loves the water and the one who loves the shore.

9/8/11 9:01pm Tasty dinner at Grouper and Chips tonight. Not as good as Cracklin’ Jack’s but cheaper. Sat outside in the romantic neon glow of the OPEN sign.

9/8/11 9:03pm Stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream just before a storm broke out. We were slightly disturbed by the sight of this shirtless man.

9/9/11 11:11am Hit around 10 thrift and antique stores today and nada. All gaudy, beach condo junk. The Emporium has a few exceptions. Thought seriously about a set of 4 dining chairs (only one w arms) for $350 but passed.

9/9/11 1:43pm Lunch at a delightful British restaurant downtown on 5th St. in Naples called the Jolly Cricket. Filet mignon sliders were awesome.

9/9/11 1:45pm We’re off to Disney World!

9/9/11 5:22pm Checked in to Disney’s Contemporary Resort after being interrogated by the nazi border patrol parking attendant. “Why are you here?”

9/9/11 5:45pm I think this is my favorite hotel room ever!

9/9/11 6:00pm It’s pouring. I’m not going out there.

9/9/11 6:30pm Rain is letting up so we’re hopping on the monorail into Magic Kingdom to meet up with our Disney rep. Ish who will get me up close to all the stages for photos.

9/9/11 1:00am Damp and exhausted but we had fun. Bands I photographed: Francesca Battistelli, Group 1 Crew (awesome stage show!) and Matthew West.

9/10/11 1:05am We also rode It’s A Small World and a handful of other Magic Kingdom attractions.

9/10/11 10:23am Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law Ginger! I hope it’s a great day!

9/10/11 5:15pm Resting at the Contemporary after a long day at Epcot. I think Mission: SPACE is definitely one of my favorites so far.

9/10/11 7:00pm Took the walking trail into Magic Kingdom this time. The plan tonight: Sanctus Real, rides, Kutless, TobyMac, rides.

9/10/11 11:55pm Got soaked in the front row of Splash Mountain. The line was too long for Space Mountain so we gave up. Another fun but exhausting day!

9/11/11 11:30am Today’s agenda: Animal Kingdom and then Hollywood Studios.

9/11/11 3:15pm A Bug’s Life 3D show is definitely another fav! Also the Africa Safari was pretty cool. Heading to Hollywood Studios now.

9/11/11 6:10pm We enjoyed the Star Wars 3D ride so much we went on it twice. Also my roller coaster hating husband LOVED the Rock n Roller Coaster! #adrenalinerush

9/11/11 9:30pm We’re all Disney’d out. Strange, beautiful lightning cloud on our way out. Lightning keeps repeatedly lighting up inside this cloud column…flashes and bolts.

9/11/11 10:55pm Watching the fireworks over Magic Kingdom in my pjs from our balcony at the Contemporary. Perfect end to our Disney World adventure. #ilovefireworks


Phone Photo Friday

09/16/2011


Jason

09/16/2011

My love. My husband. My best friend.

What a year this has been.

You traveled the world by plane, tour bus and van.

Played on stages big and small.

I saw you on TV and in a magazine.

Your quiet confidence was never boastful

…except maybe about all the good food you ate on the road.

This year we became parents but not in the way we had expected.

Or planned. But an idea was planted in my heart and it grew.

I strategically brought up the need for foster parents in the US.

I secretly prayed that God would open your heart to this crazy idea.

You jumped in with both feet.

We sat through long, boring classes together.

Homework, physicals, blood tests, home studies.

You painted the bedroom and assembled IKEA furniture with me,

And then let me go hog-wild with the rest of the kids room design.

You were right by my side through every step.

Praying with me, for me, for yourself and for our future kids.

In July I got the phone call that changed everything.

You were in Norway but I knew what you would have said to this one.

The next morning you met your first daughter through Skype.

I watched you fall in love with her, grinning from ear to ear.

It was the first time I had seen her smile and say hi in her first 12 hours.

Three days later we picked you up from the airport.

It was getting late but you wanted to take your little girl to the park.

You pushed her on the swing and chased her through the grass.

As I stood back to observe and take photos, I was witnessing a transformation.

You became a daddy right before my eyes.

In your strong arms she felt safe immediately.

She was stand-offish with some new people but never with you.

You taught her what a father’s love looks like; what Daddy means.

And I fell in love with you all over again.

We taught her how to kiss. It took 2 weeks and several demonstrations.

I’ll never forget when you called me at work at say,

“Guess what I got?”

A kiss! Her first kiss was reserved for her daddy.

I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

On September 1st we walked into a courthouse carrying our first baby girl.

And walked out without her.

We clung to each other as we went down the steps and crossed the street.

I’m not sure who was holding up who as we tried to hold back the tears a little longer.

Then we cried together.

This past year has been wonderfully difficult and full of joy. A beautiful mess.

You have grown so much as a man.

I am endlessly proud of who you are,

And thankful to call you my husband.

Happy 29th, Jason.


Sweet Signs of Love

09/15/2011

God is very generous. I didn’t ask Him to give us a sign that Ladybug was supposed to be our first placement, our first daughter or to confirm the specialness of the day of her arrival. But He did.

First it was the pregnancy symptoms. I think I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m not trying to get pregnant. However, in the two weeks leading up to Ladybug’s arrival Jason and I were completely convinced that I was pregnant. Without going into detail here, let me just say there were things going on that don’t normally go on in my body. We were sure. An app on my phone was pretty sure too. It said 7/28/11 was Test Day. I woke up that morning and took a pregnancy test. It was negative. We were perplexed.

Later than night I was sure I wasn’t pregnant (AHEM) and I was wallowing in my own world of discomfort, reading Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman, when at 8:30 the phone rang. It was the same placement worker who had called Jason 4 days earlier and we missed the placement because he was on a plane. “I told you I had your number on speed dial,” she said. I suddenly forgot how crappy I was feeling as I sprung into hyper-nesting-mode, trying to make sure everything was in place to receive her in just 1 hour. If we hadn’t missed that first call, the placement worker wouldn’t have been able to reach either of us.

About a week after Ladybug’s arrival, I was back at work looking at my planner. I flipped back to July so I could write “Ladybug’s arrival” on July 28. I was shocked to see “Ladybug’s Due Date” already penciled in on July 28. Then I smiled. God. How funny that You would do that. I have a co-worker named Ladybug (L’s real name… work with me here) who had been pregnant. I emailed my co-worker, who had just given birth to a baby boy, to share the funny news with her. She responded back, “it really is funny how God works because my due date was actually the 29th.”

Ladybug’s due date was marked on my calendar…on test day, when we were convinced we were pregnant.

There were a few other little confirmations, too, though not as significant. Like that her birthday is Jason’s half birthday and some personality traits there were so much like me or so much like Jason that it was humorous to us.

The last surprise came a couple days after our goodbye. A sweet friend, Brooke, called to let me know that her husband was dropping off a gift on our back doorstep. When I got home, I found a vase of 10 bright pink Gerber daisies. I love daisies. I walked through the back door, set them on the counter and bust into tears as I remembered. The night Ladybug arrived at our house, she was carrying a fake hot pink Gerber daisy. The twisted stem had a sharp wire at the base so I tucked it away in her bag the next day. No one knew about that daisy except my parents and the placement worker who dropped her off (and who had given it to her.)

I’m not sure exactly what that means but I don’t believe it was a coincidence. It’s Ladybug’s flower. Maybe it means God is going to take her 1 twisted fake flower and multiply it into 10 living flowers. Maybe it means Ladybug was the first of 10 kids. (Ack! Jason came up with that idea.) Or maybe it was just a sweet reminder that God loves us. He knows what we’re going through, He cares and He weeps with us.