I’m trying not to make all of my blog posts baby-related but I’m nesting so that’s where a lot of my creative energy is going these days. I’ve been doing more sewing; I’ll share more about that later. I got some new artwork for Baby Boy’s room. My favorite band, Needtobreathe, had an album out last year called Rivers in the Wasteland. It’s based on one of my favorite scriptures and the one I’m praying over this year, Isaiah 43:18-19. I looked for a poster based on their album cover art, which I also happen to love, and instead found this vinyl record.
While perusing Target.com’s clearance the other day, I found these baby boy swimming trunks. Between an extra sale on clearance items and my REDcard’s 5% off and free shipping, these cost $2.59. I couldn’t resist. They seem gigantic for a newborn but maybe by the end of summer he’ll be ready to take some dips in my parents’ heated pool.
I’ve really tried hard not to buy much for our son yet. We have a fair amount of baby supplies already and we got a lot of useful hand-me-downs from my sister (like that rainforest mobile attached to the crib above, play mats, a bumbo seat and a breast pump). One thing we’re lacking the most is clothing. I decided to pop into Goodwill the other day to look for some great deals. I walked away with 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants for $10, all various sizes from 3m – 12m. This is the 7th child we’ve welcomed in our home but it’s the first time we’ve been able to plan ahead so far for a specific new addition. I love knowing that he’ll still be a part of our family when he’s 12 months old.
“Hug your baby tight when you get home,” a well-meaning friend suggested on Friday afternoon, hours after the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Hill Elementary School.
At some point every parent will come to a point when she realizes she doesn’t own her child, the child is not an extension of her but an independent creature and as a parent it’s impossible to protect our babies from every danger in the world. There is a risk of putting our children on such a high pedestal that we make them idols, treasured above the Life-Giver Himself. Abraham was guilty of such and God pushed him to the extreme to force first-born Isaac out of the god status Abraham had put him in. Let him go and entrust him to Me, or I will take him away.
As painful as it was, I’m thankful for the experience we had of almost losing Ali over a year ago in a bizarre placement battle through DCS. When we thought we had lost her, I buckled under the incredible pain. I broke for her, thinking she was about to lose her family a second time and her second chance of growing up with a father. I had no choice but to let go of my maternal grip of her… she was not mine. She did not belong to any person. She belongs to Creator Father God.
By a miracle, she was placed back into our arms and we walked out of courtroom with custody, dumbfounded. We let go of her because we had to, and God saw fit to give her back to us. I pray that I never forget that she is not MINE. I don’t own her. I’m entrusted with the responsibility and incredible blessing of being her mother. My love for her is deep and wide and it goes on forever. Everyday is a gift and tomorrow should never be taken for granted.
I will hug her a little tighter. Snuggle a little longer. And then I’ll let her go, take a deep breath, and trust the One who made her.
My heart is broken for the families in Newtown, CT who lost their loved ones. I’m praying specifically for the families of two of the children that God brought to my attention. Reading through the names of the victims, the name Olivia caught my eye, and then Benjamin. One of my best friends has two precious children named Olivia and Ben (who are thankfully safe and well) and when I thought about them, my heart crumbled. So, everyday I’m lifting up the Engel and Wheeler families as they’re walking through this dark and horrible tragedy. May the Prince of Peace, the Comforter, wrap them up in His arms this week and in the days to come.
“We’re like peas and carrots, you and me,” Jason said. A sixteen year old romantic.
“I don’t like peas,” I typed back on AOL chat.
“You don’t like peas?! Peanut butter and jelly, then.”
It was 1999 and we were young and freshly in love.
13 years later, we have an almost 10-month-old daughter that loves peas as much as her daddy.
We had a pool for the first five years of my life so my parents we adamant that my siblings and I learn to swim as early as possible. By preschool at our local YMCA, I was able to jump off the high dive fully clothed and swim the entire length of the pool for a water survival test. I loved to swim. I still do. My parents have a lovely pool in their backyard that I plan to use a lot this summer while we’re living with them. And naturally, I want to teach my daughter to swim as soon as possible. (It’s a life skill that everyone should have!) I hope she enjoys swimming as much as I did.
It’s been warming up and we’ve been in the pool twice so far this spring. Both times it was just the two of us so I couldn’t take any pics of her in the water.
I’ve watched a ton of YouTube videos on tips for teaching babies to swim, float on their backs, learn to hold their breath and put their faces underwater. We haven’t gotten very far yet but we’re having fun. The other day I found a swim shirt at Goodwill and a beach ball at Target each for $1. The ball was a big hit.
(Check out that new tooth!)
On Saturday my sister-in-law Ginger suggested we go to the Opryland Hotel to look at the Christmas decorations with the babies. My bro-in-law Dan, our friend Leila, her son Jaron, and my mom also came along. It’s a beautiful, huge hotel with massive indoor gardens, fountains, and even a river. And they really do it up for Christmas. I didn’t take a lot of pictures but I got a few good ones and Leila sent me some of hers.
Leila took this one of my mom holding Jaron and me with my baby. Precious reached out and took Jaron’s hand right before the picture snapped. So sweet!
Eliza is a tiny toddler. I love it! She’s 10 months old and a wee bit smaller than Precious but she’s going to be taking her first steps (without help) very soon.
What really struck me when I saw this picture is how much our lives have changed this year. My niece Eliza was born in February, our daughter was born in July and baby Jaron was born in October. Each came into his/her family a different way: born biologically, through foster care and through an agency adoption; respectively. We all became mamas this year—couldn’t have planned that better if we had tried. Also, I find it particularly amusing that these three babies are vanilla, caramel and chocolate.
• Last week I was “in” court by speaker phone. That’s the third time I’ve been in court in the past month. Oh, how my life has changed.
• Precious had her first “solid” food this weekend, if rice cereal counts as a solid. She seemed to like it but learning how to swallow it will take some time.
• My mom was asked to testify at a brunch for her bible study/prayer group this week, about the miracle God did for us and Precious. She asked if I’d say something afterward. I wrote a 5 minute speech and I’ve rehearsed it in front of Photo Booth five times because I get nervous speaking in front of groups. But I have a lot to say. (In case you haven’t noticed…)
• We had the first of two court-ordered, pre-TPR, supervised visits with Precious’ birth mom last week. It felt so strange going into it—it’s a mess and the situation is unnatural in so many ways—but it went much better than I expected. That’s a whole blog post in itself.
• I’m really thankful for the adoption attorney we found. She seems super amazing and her price is great.
• Thank you to all of you who have donated to our adoption fundraiser! Just through this blog post, we’ve already collected over $500. We are blessed and amazed. You guys are the best!
• I keep finding money lately. Mostly quarters. In random places.
• I helped my parents put up their Christmas tree on Saturday and then on Sunday my mom helped me with ours. (Jason is in Texas.) Precious loves how shiny and sparkly it is. She’s gonna make Christmas so much more fun this year.
• Our house, our beloved MCM ranch, is officially on the market now. I’m sad because I love it but I’m also excited about the new season we’re moving into. I am not really looking forward to keeping the house clean ALL THE TIME…
We spent Thanksgiving at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Philadelphia this year because they have a newborn, my sweet little niece Iris. It was so nice to finally meet her! Also, my siblings got to meet Precious. Here’s some photo overload from the long weekend:
Lovely table setting
My sister Jessica looking awesome as a mama.
My dad and my brother-in-law Jeff
Iris getting burped by Grandpa – the best baby burper
Grandpa and Grandma with Iris
My brother, Aaron and his wife Laura meeting our Precious on turkey day. In 2 months they’ll be welcoming their own little cutie into the world.
This is my favorite picture from the weekend.
Time to eat! Thankful that both babies slept through the meal.
Iris has a really cool mural painted in her nursery.
Precious’ hair is growing in nicely. I love her swirl.
Grandma and Grandpa with their grandkids. Two granddaughters added to the family in 2 months and a grandson on his way in January.
Do you ever accidentally pick out matching outfits for you and your baby?
A couple of firsts over the weekend: grabbing toys and putting them in her mouth AND giggling/laughing out loud!
I was so excited that I have something to share that’s not related to foster care or babies… it’s actually home related and mid-century modern, too! Then I realized it is still very much related to foster care and babies. Oh well. I tried.
Last Monday night I emailed Jason a link and said, “Can I get this? I want to rock my babies.” He replied back, “Yes dear. You can rock your babies in that chair. Go for it. Sweet mama and wife, I love you!” A couple of clickety clicks later on my Amazon iPhone app and it was ordered. It arrived on Thursday. Talk about rockin’ service! It took no more than 5 minutes to assemble and is exactly what I was hoping for. A white plastic-shell Eames replica rocking chair for our kids room. Precious and I have been enjoying it.
PS. If you want to get a real deal Eames rocker, you can buy one through Herman Miller for $479.
Our first 4 days went really well with Precious,* our new little baby girl. (*Not her real name.) I’m learning lots about babies, bottles, burping, etc. She’s amazing. Very pleasant and easy going most of the time. Sleeps like a champ. Gives me the best gigantic, slobbery baby smiles. I have to say, at least in my limited experience, a 2-month old is SO MUCH easier than an almost 1.5 year old. I don’t mind a middle of the night diaper change and feeding when the ability to cook dinner, do dishes, clean up the house, etc. comes along with the package. I mean, I can set her down somewhere, sleeping or awake, and she doesn’t move. Ladybug required constant attention unless she was asleep.
Don’t get me wrong, Ladybug was an awesome child. I’m just saying, toddlers are way more challenging than newborns in my book. Speaking of Ladybug, we’ve been missing her like crazy the past few days. It was about 3 weeks between the day she left and the day Precious arrived. We had been doing pretty well, feeling pretty good, and when we got the call Jason pointed out that we really didn’t have a good reason to say no to this one. He said the only reasons he could think of where born out of selfishness. My only reservation was Is it too soon? I wasn’t expecting sadness to be stirred back up quite like it did by bringing in baby #2. Precious is great and our love for her is growing rapidly, but she’s not Ladybug and she isn’t going to fill the Ladybug shaped holes in our hearts. God, we miss that sweet little girl so much.
Now I’m crying. I’m tired and very emotional lately. Sheesh. I have no idea where this blog post is heading…
Let me at least end on a high note. I have the most amazing friends and family. Ahhhhmazing. We didn’t ask them whether or not they wanted to be strung along on this crazy journey with us but they’re right there with us anyway. Have I mentioned that Jason had to leave town the night Precious arrived? Of course I didn’t mention it because I don’t ever tell ya when he’s gone. So yeah. That’s a crazy coincidence. He was in Europe for a week when Ladybug arrived and the night we got Precious he had to take off for a long trip around the mid-west. He’s a wonderful daddy and he can’t wait to get back in the game here at home. While he’s been gone, though, my mom and his mom have been a HUGE help to me! My sister-in-law has been great with answering my questions since my niece is just 5 months older than Precious. Plus, she lent us a bouncy seat and a bunch of blankets and bibs. (This blog post is brought to you by the Letter B.) Also, a bunch of friends have been super kind and helpful, too. Precious is getting tons of love. Despite the sadness we’re still dealing with, overall things have been much smoother with this second placement. God is good.
Alternate Title: Why We’re Foster Parenting
I’ve been asked this question a few times lately in regards to our foster parenting motives and we suspect many other people are wondering (or making assumptions) but not asking. So, here’s my answer: no.
I know this an be a sensitive matter to some people so I’ll tread lightly; this is just my personal position on the matter. There are two parts to that phrase “struggling with infertility.” I’ve haven’t, in recent years, been tested for or officially diagnosed with any reproductive problems. I suppose some people would consider not getting pregnant after a year of “not trying not to”—as we like to put it—to be infertility. I have no use for this label as I’m not interested in treatment for this problem… because I’m not treating it like a problem. Either I get pregnant or I don’t—Jason and I have chosen to leave that up to God. We are completely at peace with that. So am I struggling? I hope it’s obvious that I am not.
There were times last year when I struggled a bit. After medically preventing babies for a decade, letting my body “reset” to it’s natural rhythm was interesting. At times I thought I had it figured out and I could control what would happen. Other times I was frustrated and bewildered. With my husband’s gentle urging I chose to really, fully let go of control of this area of our lives and trust God with it.
That was about a year ago. At that point, I never would have guessed that Jason and I would now be on the cusp of becoming foster parents. It just wasn’t on our radar at all. We figured we’d have a couple babies, build an addition on to our house, then maybe adopt a little girl from China. Or something along those lines. I can see how it might look from the outside like we’re substituting foster parenting for infertility treatment. After all, becoming foster parents certainly was part of the bursting of my perfect life plan bubble. But desperation to have children, it is not. God had other plans for us. If I had gotten pregnant right away, I probably wouldn’t have been interested in considering adoption or foster care at the point when God opened our hearts to the need. Somehow that little seed grew into a passion.
Honestly, I’m so busy with everything else going on in my life right now that I really couldn’t care less whether or not I get pregnant. Sure, if it happened we would be excited and happy. But if it never happens, that really is A-ok with us. What I’ve been learning—and believe me, I’m not all the way there yet!—is that this really isn’t about me and what I want. This, this life (marriage, family, work, friendships…) is not all about me getting what I want. As a Christian, if I want God to use me for something big, it’s essential that I grasp this concept. Foster parenting for Jason and I is not about “getting” kids because we just want to be parents. It’s about kids that need some adults to step up and be parents and to love on them. A couple of artists from East Nashville that like gardening and thrift store shopping just might be the perfect fit for some kiddos going through a really rough patch in their young lives.