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June

06/19/2013

Why I Love June:

warmth
longer days of sunshine
fireflies
swimming
our anniversary (10 this year!)
father’s day
my birthday (29 today!)
popsicles
eating outside
flip flops
painted toenails
watermelon
strawberries
sweet tea
being outside
sundresses

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Weekend Part 2

06/18/2013

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The second half of the weekend started when Jason got home Saturday night. I knew he was on the way so I let the kids have a dance party after their bath to prolong bedtime just a bit. Jason was greeted in the hallway by two kids running at him, screaming “Daddy!” and tackling him with hugs. I waited patiently for my hug and kiss. He is such a good dad and husband and we’re all so happy when he gets home. That greeting was his Father’s Day gift from Ali and Buzz. They love him. (Buzz started calling Jason “Daddy” a few days ago. He still calls me A Ma.)

Sunday we spent the morning at church. Jason played guitar in the worship band. I photographed the baby dedication portion of the service. The kids had a good time in the nursery. They wore the new matching clothes from Buzz’s mom and I was really hoping we could get a nice photo of the four of us. Did not happen. One of the four was not cooperative…

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I have to admit, I love this one, though. I told Jason it was a very accurate portrayal of his fatherhood at this place in time: trying to corral these two whirlwinds into place with his strong, loving arms.

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I guess it doesn’t have quite the same affect with the Buzz head on there. In the one below he’s looking straight at me with a sweet smile and I love the way Ali and Jason are looking at each other.

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After lunch and naps we went to my parents’ house for a cookout and swimming. Both kids love to swim so I’m always in the water with them and not taking pictures. I did beg Jason to get a video of Buzz jumping in off the side, swim/walking underwater and holding his breath to send to his parents. They were thrilled! Sadly, I can’t share it here because you can see his face in the video. Buzz and Ali are both doing really, really well with learning to swim and I’m so excited to see them getting better every time. I believe Ali will be swimming on her own by the end of the summer and if Buzz stays with us, he definitely will be too.

I attempted a few more times to get a good picture of the two of them in their matching yellows to send to Buzz’s mom. Ali will pose if I ask her; Buzz not so much.

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It turned out to be a pretty good weekend. I’m so thankful for all of the friends and family in our lives.

 


Weekend Part 1

06/17/2013

After Buzz’s long nap on Friday afternoon, I took him and Ali for a swim at my parents’ house and then we ate pizza and my parents treated us an exhibit at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens called Night Lights by Bruce Munro. I got so many great photos of Buzz, but of course I can’t share them here.

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Saturday morning our original plan for a visit with his mom had to change last minute because the splash park we were going to meet at was closed. Like Ali’s post-pigtails bed head?

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I told her I needed to go to Target and we ended up meeting there and doing our shopping together. It felt like hanging out with a friend. She was so sweet and got Ali and Buzz matching outfits at Old Navy before we met.

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I am so thankful for her kindness and patience, for how much she loves her son and for how hard she is fighting to get him back. He’s one blessed little dude to have his mama working so hard to get him back.

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And then, of course, we went swimming again.


And…

06/15/2013

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Court on Friday ended up being the anticlimactic: hearing is rescheduled for next Friday.

Buzz’s mom was extremely disappointed because she’s really hopeful that she’s going to get him back. I was disappointed for her too, but mostly irritated that we all went down there and had our time wasted for no reason. Buzz got pretty emotional after saying goodbye to her and I ended up taking him back home for a temper-tantrum induced nap.

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I didn’t expect to get emotional.

06/14/2013

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The past 6 weeks have been so incredibly difficult that I’ve only had positive feelings when considering Buzz’s reunification with his mom—happiness for them, relief for the other three of us, peace.

Last night I was continually aware… This may be that last time the four of us sit down for dinner. This may be the last time these kids get to play together. This may be the last time I give Buzz a bath and put his pjs on for bed. I gave him a little more playtime and attention than usual. I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies for a bedtime snack. All the while, I wasn’t emotional. Until…

As I was about to put Ali down to bed, I asked if she could say goodnight to Buzz. I looked at one kid and then the other and said, “What if this was the last time you saw each other, what would you say? ‘Thank you for all the good times? I love you?'”

Buzz said, “Thank you!”

Ali said, “I love you!” And then I started to choke up. I took a few minutes putting Ali to bed.

When I walked back into Buzz’s room he said, “Thank you!”

I was never asking or expecting him to thank me. It certainly wasn’t his choice to come live with us. Foster parents are trained from the beginning to never expect gratitude from a child and I haven’t. But in that moment I could feel that it was so much bigger than just a little boy parroting back what I said. He meant it.

As usual, I let him pick a book for me to read. He chose one of my favorites, Sleep, Baby, Sleep. By the time I got to this page, I was a blubbering mess…

Soar, baby, soar.
The whole world you’ll explore.
Fly like the goose who climbs and roams
yet always knows his way back home.
Soar, baby, soar. 

Oh how I want to see that boy succeed and go places in his life. My time of influence may be abruptly ending and I may never hear anything about him again. I love him more than I realized.

Grow, baby, grow.
From our arms you’ll go,
unfurling like a butterfly,
cocoon opening to the sky.
Grow, baby, grow.

In that moment, praying over him and hugging him with tears streaming down my cheeks, I knew all of the struggles of the past six weeks were worth it. He is worth it.


Phone Photo Friday

06/14/2013

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Today marks 10 years with this guy. TEN! A decade. How did that happen?! We’re still just kids. I am so blessed to do life with this man.

Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!


Sour Cream

06/13/2013

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I might be tucking this condiment-loving boy in bed tonight for the last time. In other words, there is a hearing scheduled for tomorrow that could change who he’s living with from now on. I started to type “there is a hearing tomorrow” and changed it to scheduled for because it sounds fairly likely that it will get rescheduled, although his guardian ad litem (court-appointed attorney) confirmed that it’s scheduled. Don’t get me started on that… 

His mom is so hopeful. I’m trying not to get my hopes up either way. I can honestly say that I would be happy and relieved if Buzz gets to return home to his mom tomorrow. A part of it is selfish—we could go back to our old comfortable “normal” lives again—but the main reason is because I know how happy it would make Buzz and his mom. They love and miss each other desperately. Based on what I know and have experienced (admittedly limited), I am fully in favor of reunification. I would also be sad and miss him—I’m not mentally ready to go there yet.

Because foster care can be extremely unpredictable and anything run by the government can be horribly inefficient, I’m doing my best to stay in the now. I’m planning and proceeding as though he’ll be continuing to live with us beyond tomorrow. I will do my best to love him, meet his needs and make his stay with us fun and memorable. I’m writing all of this to solicit your prayers:

• for the hearing tomorrow, if it happens, that actions are taken that are indeed in Buzz’s best interest

• for peace for his mom’s heart if it doesn’t happen or if it doesn’t go as she’s hoping

• for Buzz’s heart and mind to sort out all of these complicated feelings and to make sense of it as best as he can; that he would feel safe and loved and secure whether he’s with us or his mom

Note: The picture above is from our absolute favorite Mexican restaurant last weekend. That is a bowl of sour cream—yes, sour cream—Buzz is licking clean. I ordered him a side of sour cream with his meal because he LOVES condiments of all kinds. He pretty much ate chips and salsa and sour cream for dinner. I don’t even care how unhealthy it was because it made him so happy.