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Isaiah Jason – 12 Months

04/29/2016

 12months

Isaiah Jason,

I can hardly believe you are one year old already. This has been the fastest year of my life! It’s hard for me to put into words how you have changed me. You are not my first child, my first newborn or my first baby boy. But you are my first biological child, the first I carried in my womb and felt kicking and hiccuping for months, the first I pushed out into the world after 24 hard hours of labor, the first I’ve nourished with my milk. You look so much like your Daddy, especially your strawberry blond hair and your bright blue eyes. But I see glimpses of myself in your smile. Your first word was Mama at only 4 months old but you captured my whole heart long before that. You truly are a Mama’s boy and the way you look at me with adoration just melts me. But you also love your Daddy something fierce. You run at him when he gets home, diving into his legs and refusing to let go, you follow him around the house, studying his every move and you cry when he leaves. You have a sweet relationship with your big sister Ali. You watch her dramatic performances with smiles, giggles, clapping and mimicking. I have a feeling you’ll be one of her biggest cheerleaders for many, many years to come. If you wake up before her you go straight to her door and call for “Al-ah!” I pray that you two are always good friends. FYI, she is convinced she is going to marry you. In just a few months you will become a big brother to a baby sister. I know you don’t really understand what is coming but I pray everyday that you will have generous understanding and gentle love for your little sister when she arrives in July.

I know I’m biased but I am so impressed with you, Zay. Not only did you start talking early, you started moving early. You were sitting up at 5 months, pulling up to standing and crawling at 7 months and walking at 9 months old. Considering that I got pregnant with your baby sister when you were 5 months old, I am very appreciative. You have a kind and gentle soul. You love hugs and kisses. You are a busy little boy but you check back in frequently, grabbing and hugging our legs. You are quick and curious but you are also a very good listener. You love playing in the bath and tolerate me dumping water over your head. You are loving the swimming pool as much as I thought you would. Your favorite “toys” are empty water bottles and sticks, followed by actual toy cars, balls and blocks. You have a particular fondness for your Snuggle Bunny that you sleep with and recently have started carrying around the house. You are a good eater and seem to especially like meat. I have a feeling you’ll be eating more than your big sister before too long. You are tall and perfectly chubby, with big hands and feet. I recently started putting you into some size 5 Converse sneakers that I’m pretty sure your big sister wore when she was two. You still fit some 12m clothes, but mostly 18m now. You have six teeth. You have a full head of hair that I’ve trimmed twice around your ears.

I recently looked back through my journal from when I was pregnant with you and it was fun to see how much I could already tell about your personality from then. I prayed certain blessings over you just about everyday and you are just the way I had hoped you would be. You are a perfect addition to our family, a gift to us all, and I can’t imagine our lives without you. God knew exactly what He was doing when He blessed our family with you, Isaiah Jason. Happy 1st Birthday, son.

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Stats: Off the charts for height at 32.5″ and in the 85-90th percentile for weight at 24.3 lbs. Wearing size 5 shoes and 18m clothes. He’s almost exactly the size Alianna was on her SECOND birthday!

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Big sister really wanted to get a photo with her favorite brother:

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Ali made this sign to say Happy birthday from “Ali Mom Dad”:

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We celebrated Isaiah’s first birthday with a backyard cookout with the grandparents, and one aunt, uncle and cousin. It was a beautiful night. Zay loved the burgers, mac & cheese, fruit, and his first cupcake.

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Highlights from the past month:

First Easter egg hunt

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Easter 2016. I LOVE this picture!

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Knocked out between church and lunch.

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This boy loves sticks!

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He loves the courtyard (me too!) and finds his way here and climbs up on the bench to sit every time we’re outside.

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He loves his toothbrush and baths.

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The End of An Era: Closing Our Home to Foster Care

04/27/2016

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For the past five years I’ve been a foster mom. We started our classes in early 2011, were approved and took our first placement in July 2011. For five years, a significant part of my identity has been wrapped in the label of foster mom. It feels strange to peel that label off.

Our goal with foster care was to love kids in need, to be their parents for as long as we were needed to fill that gap, and perhaps to adopt someday. Our journey has been a success. If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you probably know all about our experience but five years is a long time to keep track of so here’s a brief run down:

July 2011 – First placement 16-month-old “Ladybug” was with us for 5 weeks and then exited custody to an extended family member. Whirlwind first parenting experience!

September 2011 – Second placement was 2-month-old Alianna. Found out a few days later she would be an adoptive placement. A month or two later DCS decided to move her to a friend of the adoptive mom of two of her four half-siblings. We fought it. Hard. And won, by a miracle! We were given custody by a judge in order to pursue private adoption.

February 2012 – Put our home on hold to new placements while we prepared to sell our house, move in with my parents temporarily and build a new home.

August 2012 – Finalized Alianna’s adoption just after her 1st birthday.

February 2013 – Once settled into our new home, we took our home off hold status so we could start fostering again.

May 2013 – Third placement was 2.5-year-old Termain. He lived with us for 3 months, through the summer of 2013 and then was reunited with his mom. Through our experience his mom became a dear friend and I’m so thankful they are still in our lives.

November 2013 – Fourth placement was 6-month-old “Bee.” Technically placed with us for 3 months, although she spent 30 days in the middle of that period doing an extended family visit with relatives in another state. In February 2014, her ICPC passed and she was transferred to another state as a kinship placement with extended family.

June 2014 – Fifth placement was teenie preemie “Firefly.” He was 3 weeks old, brought to our home straight from the NICU. He was less than 5 lbs. and still several weeks before his due date. He was with us for four weeks before his case was dismissed and he was returned to his parents. The following month, I found out that I was pregnant with Isaiah.

October 2014 – Sixth and final placement was 1-month-old Noah (who now has a new name). He was with us only 3 days but his sweetness anchored deep in my hormonal-pregnant-mama-heart. He left custody to an adoptive placement who has since reached out and reconnected with us. We’ve had the privilege of keeping in touch and getting together with them.

April 2015 – Put our home back on hold status as we prepared for Isaiah’s birth. We planned to reopen within a year.

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Which brings us to today…

April 2016 – We had planned to be on hold just for 9-12 months and then start taking placements but I got pregnant again pretty quickly after Isaiah’s birth. Going from two kids to three in short period is one thing. I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with the idea of three. But four kids still seems really hard to imagine. Our agency will only allow us to be on hold for 2 years. In April 2017 Ali will be 5, Isaiah will be turning 2 and Josephine will be 10 months old… I don’t think we’ll be ready to start fostering by then either, so we decided it was time to close up officially. It’s a bittersweet decision.

Bitter because it’s a cause we are passionate about. The need is great. It’s hard to walk away knowing there are still so many kids that need safe homes to go to in our city, right at this moment. And, honestly, it’s hard to step out of the label, the role, the identity of foster mom that I’ve worn proudly for the past five years.

Sweet because I’m so honored that we’ve had the opportunity to bless six children who needed safe mama- and daddy-arms to hold them through a really traumatic time in their lives. I am blessed by the friendships we’ve made through fostering…with biological family of the kids, with other adoptive parents, with other foster parents. The biggest blessing from our experience, of course, is our forever daughter Alianna.

Closing our home brings a wave of relief. For five years our lives have been in a state of temporary. It was hard to plan ahead more than a few months, never knowing how many family members we would have and what ages of kids we would be parenting at any given time. We’ve had bedrooms with gender neutral flexible set ups. Now, we can finally feel settled with some permanency in our family and our home. I can say with confidence that later this year we will have three kids, no more and no less. I know what their ages will be and that they will all share our last name. We will be allowed to leave the state without asking for permission. We won’t have regular home visits with a case worker anymore. We won’t have classes and credit hours to keep up with annually. We can even get rid of our home phone that we never used for anything anyway. It’s a new kind of freedom.

Foster parenting will forever have a special place in my heart and I wouldn’t doubt if we do it again in another season of our lives. In the meantime, we can stay involved in other ways. We are signed up to be mentors to new foster parents in our county. I plan to continue supporting and encouraging the many friends I’ve made through #fostercare on Instagram, many of whom are still in the trenches as foster moms. I’m considering becoming a CASA or a member of our county’s foster care review board someday.

I’ve gotten away from blogging over the past year but my heart is aching to write again. I’m looking at my life from a different angle now. For a while it seemed that foster care was the only exciting topic in my life to write about but I’ve realized there is a lot more going on besides that. This blog originally started out with a focus on mid-century-modern style, furniture, homes, living, etc. with an emphasis on home projects. As we because foster parents, my focus shifted. I’m planning to return to more blogging about home projects, modern/mid-century-modern furnishing/architecture/homes, interior design mixed in with parenting, adoption, graphic design, craft projects and one of our newest endeavors: homeschooling.

How does that sound? (Is there anyone still out there, reading this blog and this super-long post? Chirp. Chirp.) What do you prefer to see posts about here?

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Double Nursery for Almost Irish Twins

04/20/2016

Isaiah and Josephine will be almost irish twins—more than a year apart but only by 2-3 months. Since they’ll both be using the changing station and be rocked in the rocking chair, it made the most sense to put them in the same room for this stage. (Though JoJo will sleep in a Moses basket in our room for the first few weeks or months while she’s feeding frequently through the night.) The other reason I opted for the double nursery was space; two cribs and two dressers fit more easily into this room than adding a crib and dresser into big sister Alianna’s already-quite-full bedroom. Much to her dismay because she desperately wants to share her room with her sister. That day will come, Ali, I promise.

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Zay is now in the full size blue crib, the same one Ali used for her first two years. It’s from IKEA, called Somnat. The little green bookshelf was a thrift store makeover I did a couple years ago. The French Paper monkey poster was a gift from a friend. I made Isaiah’s name sign while I was pregnant with him last year. The album cover is from my favorite band Needtobreathe’s recent Steams in the Wasteland, based on a passage of scripture from Isaiah that I love. The canvas was a gift from my friend Steph and says, “Take a deep breath, you’re home now.” I see it every day while I’m rocking and feeding Zay and it reminds me to pause and be thankful.

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The green fleece (cut up strips from a blanket) are to protect the crib rails from my little beaver who likes to teeth on wood. I saw the cheap, no-sew idea on Pinterest.

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The black acoustic guitar is mine from high school. The tall dresser currently has Jo’s clothes in it but I’m going to swap them right before or after she’s born so her clothes are easier to access during diaper changes. Isaiah is big and wiggly enough that it’s easier to dress him on the floor most of the time. The walrus painting was a gift from my sister-in-law for Zay. The bike riding deer poster is from IKEA. The rocking chair is from Amazon. The rugs are both from IKEA. Green black-out curtains from Target.

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Josephine will get the portable mini crib to start out. I use the storage boxes from IKEA under each crib to store sheets and blankets. I made the name sign for Josephine. I bought the rubies print from Etsy and painted the frame from a thrift store. I took the glass out so it wouldn’t be heavy or easily breakable since it’s right above the crib.

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The walls are Sherwin Williams Ellie Gray, same as our first nursery at our last house. I use a sound machine and a CD player with Jason’s Acoustic Lullabies album to muffle the household noises and help Isaiah sleep. I’m hoping it will help to cover the sounds of two babies in the same room and keep them from waking each other up very often, too.

Nesting is in full swing over here, thanks to Spring cleaning and 2nd trimester energy. I know it’s going to get harder to get around and be motivated to do home projects in the next 2-3 months so I’m doing all that I can do now. Twelve more weeks to go!

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Isaiah Jason – 11 Months

04/02/2016

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Isaiah Jason is now 11 months old. At the beginning of March we learned this little big boy is going to get a baby sister in July. We named her Josephine. Isaiah is walking steadily and quickly now. He’s a sweet, funny, snuggly little guy who loves to play and explore. He’s a big fan of swinging and finding sticks. Zay loves to feed himself finger foods and refuses almost anything on a spoon now (except my homemade broccoli cheddar soup – he loves that!) He’s showing signs that he’s ready to move to one nap but Mama isn’t quite ready. I’ll be starting a slow transition over the next month. He will also be starting a transition into a full size crib (from a mini crib) as his room is getting to converted into a double nursery that he’ll share with his baby sister later this year.

I can’t believe my baby boy will be ONE later this month!

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Here are some highlights (and one low point) of this past month:

The day they found out they’re getting a little sister.

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Dealing with a bout of strep throat. Boo!

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Walking everywhere now.

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He loves playing in the bathtub.

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Yay! Swinging!

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He’s getting FAST!

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Devouring some homemade cheese pizza and offering to share.

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I love his sweet personality and sense of humor.

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All this action is tiring for a little body.

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