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Foster Care Ch. 4 Prep: Looking Forward, Looking Back

11/06/2013

As I spent the month of October preparing for our fourth child, I thought a lot about our first three. I’ve had this idea for a while but finally did it: an 8×10 photo, an initial and a shadow box of significant items for each child. It’s the start of our hallway gallery wall that might one day be full of difference faces and memories.

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I also make a necklace in honor of my motherhood to these three sweethearts.

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I made a CD of my “songs for the foster mama’s heart.”

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I got our next kid’s room ready, including setting up the pack n play in case we get a baby. (And if we do, I’ll probably end up buying a second crib because Ali is still using hers.)

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Lots of time was spent reading and praying, usually right in this spot on the couch in the morning before anyone else is up.

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I spent half of a Saturday cooking several gallons of soup and stocking it in the freezer.

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Sometimes I feel like the house is ready and other times I feel like I need a day to clean and organize. I know it’s ready enough and we have everything childproofed to DCS standards but I guess it’s just a nesting thing.

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Then I rearranged the next kid’s room a little bit. This bed seems to only work in this one spot in this room and it kind of drives me nuts. I’m thinking I’ll eventually move it into Ali’s room and get some regular bunk beds that can be switched into twin beds for maximum flexibility.

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Then more time has been spent resting, waiting, preparing, breathing deep in the now. A cup of tea on a sunny afternoon is balm to my soul.

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Mission Accomplished: It’s a Dresser

03/18/2013

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My big goal for this weekend was to find a dresser for the bedroom our future foster kids will stay in. Eventually, I’d like to add a beautiful vintage dresser but for now we just needed any dresser. I found this specimen for $22.99 at a thrift store in our neighborhood. I spent about 3 hours repairing, sanding and painting it. I spent another $12 on handles and hardware. It’s not big but it will work for now. I painted it the same color green as the little 2 drawer nightstand I painted a couple years ago for our first kids’ room that’s now in Ali’s room. Eventually they may end up in the same room. So here’s my wonky little weekend DIY project, before:

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And after:

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I need to call our case worker to double-check but I believe all of our requirements to reopen our home as foster parents are now met. BIG SIGH!

Related posts:

Preparing for Foster Kids: Bedroom Tour (the 1st time)

New Home Tour: Nursery (Alianna’s Room)

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids (the 2nd time)


Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids

03/07/2013

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

We really loved our last house but sold it so we’d have room for our family to grow. Specifically, we wanted to have more bedrooms so we could continue to provide a home for children in foster care. At our previous home, I designed a room that could suit one or two kids ages birth to five years old, male or female. It was a big challenge, especially with a small room. This room is targeted toward 2-12 year olds in my mind, though we’re keeping an open mind about ages at this point. It felt much easier this time around, I suppose because we already had the super versatile IKEA KURA bed (which can be flipped over to be a low loft bunk bed) and I’m not set on putting a crib and dresser in here…yet. (We do need to add a dresser ASAP, we found out last week.) Other than the bed and bedding, the woodland creatures curtain was the only other element we started with from the previous house.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I chose the green wall color based on the curtain. Also, green is supposed to be soothing and it’s one of my favorites. I read somewhere that mirrors are good for self esteem for kids. Ali loves looking in the full length mirror in her room so I put one in this room, too. It was less than $10 at Target. See that house reflected in the mirror?

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I found this when we were unpacking. I colored this picture in art class in first or second grade. I pray that our next kids will feel at home in this room and at our home. I added some cuddle buddies to the bed.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I started adding bits and pieces to this room without any kind of theme in mind; just using what we had available. A friend gave us the headphones pillow as a housewarming gift. We had the other 2 pillows already. The rockstar flashcards are the only 4 letters I completed when I started designing the series 4 years ago. Maybe I’ll finish it one day…

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

This old acoustic guitar that was a gift from my parents for my 16th birthday narrowly escaped the trash during the move. (Jason’s guitars are a million times nicer so he doesn’t see this as fit to play. However, I think some tween or teen might love it!) We also have a collection of random, discount pile Hatch Show Print posters that I thought could help fill the walls here.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

There are a few vintage ReAbide items living in here. This Florence side table works for now as a night stand.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

And this Mack arm chair (below). Before we moved in, I ordered a Nashville road map. I thought it might work as a big poster for this room. It’s colorful and free (as an AAA member) and I thought it might be neat for kids to see where our house is in comparison to where they used to live. The rug is from a local IKEA reseller. I think it’s the only thing besides the full length mirror that we purchased for this room.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I have a pack and play set up in here. I’m hoping it’ll be enough to convince our case worker that we’re equipped to take a child younger than two. Ali still sleeps in her crib and I don’t have much desire to buy and set up a second crib. If we accept a placement of a younger child, we might consider getting another one at that point…or maybe moving her to a big kid bed.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com  Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

The book ledges also came from the previous house. These books (with the exception of Pop Warhol’s Top…which I don’t recommend) these books were are all specifically chosen to be in this room.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

So a really cool thing happened. This room developed a theme without me even realizing it! I suppose it started with the Nashville map, and then the Hatch Show Print posters, and then the guitar. The headphones pillow and the rockstar flashcards followed suit. The theme that developed—which happens to be something that every child who stays in this room, regardless of age or gender will have in common—is Nashville! Music City. Even the woodland curtains and botanical bedding and rug work. We live very close to a huge park so we see squirrels, owls , leaves and lots of trees in our neighborhood.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

It was important to me that I had thoughtful, personal elements worked into the design of this room. I didn’t want it to feel like a guest room. I want it to be a special room because it’s made for a really special kid…a kid we don’t know yet but I want him or her to feel comfortable, loved and wanted from the moment they walk in. I want him or her to know that we’ve been thinking about and praying for him or her before we ever met.

Here’s the floor plan of this room. It’s about 10×12.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

If you’re putting together a room for foster kids in your house, here are some things I recommend:

• Flexible sleeping arrangements
We have this room set up with a twin bed and a pack and play. Without much trouble at all we could flip the twin bed into a bunk bed and replace the pack and play with a real crib. Sometimes foster parents put together a really nice room for 5-12 year old kids and then God has a sense of humor and their first placement is a newborn. Flexibility is key for foster parents.

• Adequate Clothing Storage
This is one of our home checklist requirements from DCS. I’m hoping to add a dresser before too long but for now, we have a big closet ready with hangers and hanging storage for smaller items. We also keep extra blankets, pillows and sheets in the closet.

• Books and Toys
Admittedly, we don’t have toys in here but we do have a playroom right down the hall. It’s mainly because of the wide age range this room is open to that I haven’t put many toys in here. The stuffed animals are probably nice for any age kid, though. These books have been carefully selected to be in this room: Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care, I Don’t Have Your Eyes, I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew, The Little Train That Could, The Velveteen Rabbit, and the Sleep Book.

• Nightlight
Some kids won’t want it on but we have it ready just in case. A new room can be scary and dark. The nightlight is enough to make the whole room visible. We also moved Ali’s constellation turtle light in here because she doesn’t use it anymore. It projects stars on the ceiling for 45 minutes before shutting off automatically. We’re also required to have hallways lit and to have flashlights handy. We got this 3-in-1 night light, emergency light (comes on automatically when the power goes out) and flashlight for our first foster parenting experience. It is in our hallway.

• A Place for Photos
The frame on the nightstand that says “Welcome” is actually a placeholder for a personal photo. Thanks for another foster mom’s suggestion, I also added (after taking photos) a bulletin board with pictures of “Who Lives Here” (me, Jason and Ali with names by our photos) and a photo of our first foster placement with her name and hand print. I will add a photo of each new child under either category.

• Curtains without strings or cords
Another requirement for our home safety checklist—not that we have a curtain but that there are no choking hazards dangling from blinds or curtains.

• Rugs secured to the floor
Yeah, I actually stuck this rug to the floor with rug tape. Another item on our home safety checklist.

• Smoke detector
Our list doesn’t require it to be in the child’s bedroom but there is one in there per codes for a new house build.

• Egress window
Also per codes, in order to be considered a bedroom, a room must have a window that can be opened for escape in case of a fire. Our home safety checklist also requires this.


Kids Room: A Theme Developed

02/18/2013

When I started pulling together the bedroom for our next kids, the ones who will join us through foster care, I really didn’t have a theme in mind. I was just trying to use what we had. The woodland friends curtain was from the kids room at our last house and what prompted me to use green for the accent wall color. The bedding was also from the previous room.

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I ordered a Nashville road map from AAA because it was a way to get a large, colorful, free piece of art for the wall. I also thought it might be helpful for older kids to see where our house is in relation to where they used to live.

As I was going through our art collection one day, I decided this room would be a nice place to display our Hatch Show Print posters. (Hatch is a historic letterpress print shop in downtown Nashville that’s famous for their concert posters.) Jason wanted to throw my old acoustic guitar away but I saved it, thinking again about older kids.


As I looked around the almost completed room, I noticed a lot of music related items and considered replacing the woodland friends curtain, even though it had been my starting point. Just yesterday it hit me! The theme of the room is the one thing every kid who lives here will have in common: Nashville. Our house is not far from Hatch Show Print in downtown Nashville. We’re also close to Shelby Park so we see lots of trees, owls and squirrels here. I love when something comes together organically like that.

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(I wrote this post from my phone so please forgive me for their weird formatting and any typos.)


The Nest is 75% Ready

02/07/2013

75% is enough for now. Enough to call our case worker to have her come out and do a walk-through. Enough to make me feel mostly prepared.

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Bedroom for Future Foster Kids Checklist:

• assemble KURA bed
• hang curtains
• hang wall art
• add a rug
• make space in closet for clothes
• dresser
• bookshelf ?
• nightstand
• lamp
• hang book ledges
• mount guitar hook for my old acoustic
• nightlight
• make bed look comfy and inviting

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The Rest of the House Checklist:

• mount TV to the wall in the den
• cover all electrical outlets with annoying plastic caps
• lock up all of our medications and vitamins
• lock up all of our cleaning supplies
• lock up all knives
• lock up all matches and lighters
• secure rugs to the floor (so they’re not tripping hazards)
• make sure we always have bananas
• have and know how to install car seats and boosters for newborn – 8 year olds

Our den/playroom:

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Preparing for Foster Kids: Bedroom Tour

06/16/2011

Our kids room is done-done-done. Ready to go. Just add kiddos!

I’m kind of in love with this room. It was so much fun to put together. It’s a mix of new and old. It’s a mix of patterns, textures and colors (mostly blue, green and gray … our favorites). It’s a mix of gifts, sentimental items and things purchased especially for our kiddos.

Sources: The walls are Ellie Gray by Sherwin Williams. The bed, crib, rugs (machine washable bathmats!), stuffed spaniel, stuffed vegetables, twin duvet, under bed storage box and book ledges are from IKEA. The twin sheets, lamp shade, and (shower) curtain are from Target. The alphabet animal poster, puzzle blocks, and alphabet flash cards are from Petit Collage (I won from a giveaway on Design Mom). The green quilt on the bed was a wedding gift handmade by a friend. The reading chair (reupholstered), night stand (painted), green crib sheet from Pottery Barn, stacking ring toy and full length mirror (painted) are all from yard sales. The yellow lamp is from a thrift store. The xylophone is from an estate sale. The Gee Wiz game on top of the dresser was a gift from an antique store given to us by a friend. The monkey poster is by French Paper gifted from the same friend. The mobile and toss pillows are handmade by me. The color wheel clock is from MOMA given to me by my Uncle Bob many years ago. The dinosaur is Jason’s from childhood. The chalkboard door was painted by me. The folding chair is from a yard sale. The dresser is from Target purchased second hand from craigslist (we’re still looking for a changing table height mid-century replacement). And lastly, the blue Sekova guitar originally belonged to Jason’s mom when she was a teenager and was the guitar Jason first learned to play on as a boy. In high school he painted it blue. It’s not playable now but I love that it’s finally displayed somewhere. It means a lot to me. I’m so proud of my incredibly talented husband, who is now living his dream as a professional guitarist.

Here’s the floor plan. It was quite a puzzle fitting a twin bed, crib, chair, dresser and night stand into a 10 x 11 room while still leaving some floor space for playing. Once we put the KURA bed together we decided to flip flop it and the night stand with the reading nook and wall mirror in my original plan. It just worked better with the design of the bed.


Preparing a Bedroom for Foster Kids: Progress

05/19/2011

Jason and I have been working away on preparing our kids room, basically sticking to our design plans and floor plan. We painted the walls Ellie Gray from Sherwin Williams. Despite the gray wall, the room will be plenty colorful between the green night stand, various wood tones, the blue crib we’re getting from IKEA, a blue area rug and the bedding.

This is the opposite corner of the room, shot from the doorway. Those black tables and white table on the floor are marking the spot where the KURA twin-size loft bed will sit. The corner of the room where the chair is sitting—hopefully a rocker someday—I’m calling the reading nook. We’ll put a set of shallow book ledges along the wall there.

The curtain is actually a shower curtain we picked up at Target last year. Nursery curtains was always the plan for it but I’m not convinced yet. I’m going to wait to see how it works with all the furniture and bedding before I split it into two panels.

I made this mobile to hang above the crib but honestly, I’m not so sure about it. It’s navy blue and bright green card stock with dog images on one side. It’s growing on me so we’ll see if I decide to keep it.

I found this dresser on craigslist a few weeks ago. It’s not the ideal color or height or style but we’re running out of time so it’s close enough.The pack-n-play is posing in the crib’s place.

We’re almost there! The last furniture pieces, book ledges and rug will be in place soon. After that we will hang the wall decorations (a couple posters, a clock and some vintage items) and add bedding. I can’t believe how fast we’ve pulled this room together but on the other hand, I’ve been planning it for years… So fun. I’m loving this room and the whole experience of planning and decorating a room for our kiddos!