This little ray of sunshine is going to be TWO YEARS OLD tomorrow!! I’m super excited to celebrate my sweet daughter all weekend. Longer post about Ali at age 2 is coming next week.
Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!
Have all my fellow foster parent friends read this? I think it should be required reading. It is a memoir by a young woman who was in foster care from ages 3-12 until she was adopted. She lived through some horrific foster homes and has become a voice and advocate for foster kids. Rocked my world. I finished this in 2 days while we were on vacation.
I borrowed a copy from the library but you can buy it online here.
While we were in Naples, sitting in an Einstein Bros. Bagels I saw a post on my Facebook feed from Foster Parenting Podcast with a link to a movie called Palms and the text: This video does a good job of showing what foster care and adoption feel like from a child’s perspective. I didn’t move out of my hard wooden chair for the next 32 minutes while I savored this short film. Definitely worth the watch here if you have time. Photo from here.
While we were out of town kid-free Jason and I had to find places for Ali and Buzz to stay, of course. Ali was easy. My parents were willing. Since we lived with them for 10 months last year and Ali goes there all the time, it was a pretty easy transition for her. We did a lot of FaceTime and sending photos and videos back and forth, which helped a lot. I’m so thankful for technology!
Buzz was a little trickier. It was too much to ask anyone to watch both kiddos together (I totally understand!) so we needed to find another home for Buzz to stay. Our new family case worker was awesome about sending out an email and locating a family that was willing and available. The other family’s case worker sent their contact info with a little note “heart in the right place” next to their names. I can’t tell you how much peace of mind that gave me! I talked to his respite foster mama at length before the trip and sent her a detailed list of his routine and likes/dislikes. They were grateful for all the info and I was thrilled that they cared enough to ask in advance about his favorite foods, books, activities, etc. She sent me reports and some photos during our trip reporting that he was doing great and such a sweet boy. She also kept in touch with Buzz’s mom through texts, pictures and videos lik we usually do. Buzz’s mom and I both hated for his sake that he had to be away from our home for 9 days, but it went as good, if not better, than we could have hoped for. It was a little rocky transitioning back to our house the first day. It was hard to interpret his emotions…sad, confused, scared…but I’m not exactly sure why. We did our best to explain to him everything that was happening and what to expect next. By the next day, he was pretty much back to his usual self. It sounds like he didn’t talk much at their house but he came back with some new words and expressions, and it’s been fun to hear what he learned: “that way!” “wait!” with his hand held out, “oh ok.”
I had planned to have an extra day of staycation when we got home before returning to the work/daycare routine but we ended up with 2 days (because Jason opted to drive through the night!) I’m really glad we had that time to transition back to a family of four again. Both of our kids caregivers did ALL of their laundry before pick up so I only had 3 loads to do when we got home, rather than 4 or 5. Thank you, thank you!
I looked at tacky over-priced Key West souveniers for the kids at several shops and just couldn’t bring myself to do it. We stopped at IKEA in Orlando on our way home and I picked out a big stuffed animal for each of them…or in Ali’s case a stuffed vegetable. She loves broccoli so I thought it would be funny to get her a big stuffed broccoli. There’s a video of her showing off Miss Bocki on my Instagram feed. Buzz loves dogs so his toy was an easy choice, too. He acted completely uninterested in it while we were still at his respite house but then fell asleep holding it on our drive home and has slept with it every nap and night since then. I asked him if dog has a name and he said “Woof Woof.”
We got a few things for ourselves, too. Some of it won’t appear until future posts when it’s assembled and/or photographed. These were easy, though. New towels, bath rug and shower curtain for the hall bathroom:
Jason and I love Naples but since our 10th anniversary was a very special occasion we also wanted to go somewhere new to us. We decided on Key West. The drive was beautiful.
We stopped at Mangrove Mama’s for lunch on the recommendation of an Instagram friend @bakewithamy. It was delicious.
And then we saw a box turtle.
Jason looking very Floridian with his green pants.
Have you ever seen such blue water?
Jason is a key lime pie connoisseur so we had a lot! Kermit’s was our favorite, followed by Key West Key Lime Pie Co.
It was a very restful, restorative trip for us both. In Key West we walked miles everyday exploring the island. We slept late most days and watched a lot of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Bob’s Burgers on Netflix. We ate a lot of really good food. Blue Heaven was recommended by multiple people and lived up to it’s reputation. Jason ordered lobster eggs Benedict with bacon and tomato which was the most memorable meal we had in the Keys. We went to Blue Heaven after a morning of snorkeling which was the highlight of our trip. I don’t have any photos of that excursion. It was incredible to see sea creatures in their natural habitat. The most thrilling was when a nurse shark, about 5 feet long, swam right past Jason and me. I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get to see a sea turtle (Jason saw one from the boat but I missed it) but it gives me a reason to go back. Next time we’d like to try scuba diving.
I had planned to schedule a bunch of posts for this week but with Jason and Buzz sick last week and the holiday, time just got away from me. So know you get to know: Jason and I are in Florida this week. Since before Buzz arrived (at the beginning of May) we had been planning a getaway to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. We’re not big on celebrating milestones with “stuff” like cards or gifts but we always set aside some time for a dinner date. We did that this year too and it was painfully clear that 2 hours away from the toddlers was not enough time to catch up, and definitely not enough time to rest and relax.
A kid-less vacation was what we needed. Four days into our vacation and we already feel like its been SO refreshing! We had dinner at the Columbia in Sarasota, spent the weekend in Naples, Fl (our favorite) and this morning we’re heading to Key West – somewhere new to us.
My mama always told me that the best gift you can give your kids is to love your spouse well.
The stomach virus strikes again. I can’t believe I’m writing about this but it’s basically been consuming all of my non-working, waking hours lately. You know I mentioned getting a nasty stomach virus last week? Well we’re pretty sure Ali had a milder form of it last week too. Buzz had a little bit of symptoms but seemed fine. On Sunday evening, I woke the kids up from their deep slumber so we could go to a Nashville Sounds game. I got free tickets from work, their was a concert beforehand and the weather was cloudy an 79 degrees so we were all set up for a perfect evening. Before the game started, we could tell something was up. Ali was just eating it all up. She LOVES adventures, people, crowds, mascots, music…all of it. But Buzz was not acting like his usual wild self. It was kind of nice at first…during the concert he just stood next to me and held my hand or wanted to be picked up. But once we got to our seats he was really trying to get comfortable and acting really sleepy. We only stayed for 1.5 innings and realized we better go. As soon as we got home, he flopped on the sofa in the playroom. I checked his temperature and he had a fever. As soon as I turned to walk out of the room he threw up all over the place. I took a sick day on Monday to take care of him and Ali while Jason ran a bunch of errands. Tuesday morning Buzz still had a fever so I left both kids with Jason and went to work. Before lunch time I got a text from Jason that he wasn’t feeling well. By the time I got both kids down for their afternoon naps, Jason was definitely sick with the same dang stomach virus. I hate that thing. I hate that it’s taken over a week to move from person to person. I hate that it started with me.
I’m praying that Buzz is well enough to go to day care today and that Jason is able to rest and get his strength back. Possibly, I’ll be able to go in to the office. Good grief. It has been a week! We have a lot of fun planned for the next few days so I’m ready to kick this thing to the curb.