July 28, 2011

A weekend on the farm.

  Last weekend we went to visit Brian’s family.  His parents live on a farm, and the kids love being able to be outside, go on four wheeler rides, and swing on the porch swing.  Bella especially loved getting to ‘listen to the birds,’ so cute.



Helping shuck corn for dinner.




Playing with Grandma Bonnie



This is the part where Sylvia locked herself in the car by herself, tried to buckle herself in, and then started turning the steering wheel.  Ornery?  Yes.













Naomi is obviously not as entertained by food as Sylvia.







Lots of fun and good food.  As Sylvie says, “Grandma and Papa, yeah!”

Always an adventure.

  Sylvia’s had quite the crash course in sharing these past few weeks – but I think that she’s getting the hang of it, and I think we’re all settling into a new normal.  Which is good, because it seems Bella will be with us for a while.



She really enjoys stealing my iPhone and taking pictures.


  Brian and I had no peace about asking her to move, but we just weren’t sure what to do.  The situation really seemed pretty impossible given our family’s life stage right now.  The medical side of things is just so intense, and we couldn’t figure out how to make it work with two other little ones.  But like I said, we had no peace. 


  We prayed about it.  A lot.  We weren’t sure how we were going to do it, but we were pretty sure that saying no was not the right answer.  We decided to try to make it work, and see what God had in mind in telling us not to give up.



I find pictures like this on it all. the. time.


  The very next day we got a call from the hospital telling us that they could set us up with a home health nurse who could come to our house to do all of her labs.

  We also have a resource family worker that is willing to do almost anything to provide us with support.  She’s really great.

  On top of all of that we were (finally) given a solid outline of her treatment schedule from here on out.  She has treatment every ten days until the beginning of September – and then she only has it once per month!  Doable.  She has one or two labs between each treatment, but those can be done at our house.

  Last, but not least, the caseworker set up visits for treatment days, so a family member will be there for her treatments – I take her and pick her up.


Obedience.  Provision.  God is good.




  So, little Bella is a part of our family for some unknown amount of time.  Things have been crazy, but also very blessed.  For every challenge there is a blessing, and we will only linger on the latter.


  I pray so intensely that she can go home safely and in a timely manner.  She is homesick like no child I’ve ever seen – which is probably significant.


Until then, a family of five we will be.



July 26, 2011

We Become.

  It is always this way.  Any time we get a new child placed with us we feel it.  I know other foster parents who experience the same thing.  It’s the stretch.

  When we have a child placed with us, from the very moment that they get to our home we put all we can into loving them, comforting them, soothing and normalizing and acting as a salve on their burned and broken hearts.  This is one of the ways that God has chosen to use us, but it is also a way he has chosen to refine us.  And being refined is rarely a painless process.


  A friend asked me not long ago if it is the same – the feelings you have for ‘your children’ and your foster children.  I would say without hesitation that it depends on the child.  There are children you connect with and children you don’t.  You love them all, but you deep down from-the-bottom-of-your-very-heart-and-soul connect with some.  (This may sound terrible to some who haven’t fostered.  To them I say: Try fostering.)  No matter the connection, at the beginning, there is always the stretch.


  It’s the stretch between the children who were already in your home (whether they are there temporarily or forever) and the child who has just been placed with you.  It’s a stretch in your heart.

  It’s the questions that pester your mind – Is this best for the kids already in our home?  Am I taking too much time away from them?  Am I going to miss this precious time because of the chaos? 

  It’s the transition of having a new child in your home.  Learning to share with another pair of hands.  Sharing mommy, sharing toys, sharing time.

  It’s the pull in your heart for something normal.  Something not so hard.  Something dreamy and perfect.  It’s the hurt of not being able to ignore the brokenness of this world. 

  It’s the worry that you are not enough.  There’s not enough of you to go around, not enough love in your heart, not enough patience in your soul.


But always God reminds me that what he calls us to, he has also called our children to, and that this is a part of their journey as well.

  We’ve crossed this hump with Bella.  We are past the stretch.  It seems that it gets a little bit easier with each placement, but I don’t think it will ever be something I don’t struggle with.  (This is becoming a novel.  If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed!)


  Now we are in the process of becoming.  With every placement we become a family all over again.  We become sisters and Mamas and Daddies and brothers and cousins and aunts and grandparents.  We become support and trust and consistency.  And however temporary, we become family.




We are becoming.




(P.S.  Bella is staying here.  More to come on that.)

July 22, 2011

Dear Bella,












Almost without fail, when we have kids placed with us their birthday follows within a week.  It makes it difficult to plan much for a day that we want to be so full of joy for them. 

Bella had her birthday this week, and although we didn’t have much time to plan, she was clearly overjoyed at the celebration.

Since she hasn’t had time to make friends here yet, we went to our agency’s foster parent support meeting that night so that everyone could sing to her and make a big to do about her birthday.  She didn’t know quite what to do when everyone started singing, but she was so tickled.

Birthdays are hard for kids who are in foster care, and it was no different for Bella.  We tried calling her mom and dad several times that day and no one answered.  Bedtime was so difficult for her, I just laid with her until she fell asleep.  But even though it was hard, I think she’ll be able to look back at this birthday with some happy memories, knowing she was loved and celebrated even though she wasn’t home.

July 18, 2011

3 Months.

  That’s how long you’ve been here with us now, and I can no longer imagine life without you.  Although sometimes I do momentarily forget you’re there, because you’re such a content little baby.




  I spend all day every day with you, so generally, to me, you don’t seem particularly large or small, you’re just your size.  But when I see someone else holding you, I am reminded of what a tiny little baby you are.  You are tiny, with petite little features – I think you’ll be little like you’re Mama.

  Your eyes are still blue – and I really think they may stay that way.  You are beautiful with your dark hair and features and those blue eyes.  Makes me nervous for when you’re 16 and the boys start to notice how they stand out against your olive complexion. 


  You started doing all kinds of things this month (relative to what you could do before, of course).  You have started making lots of noises – and I’m not entirely sure you’re not going to be louder than your sister.  That’s a feat.  You should be proud.  You start making sounds and you get really excited and start making them as loud as you can.  Luckily, they are almost always happy sounds, and I love to hear them.


  You’ve also started laughing.  You are already very ticklish, and it’s so fun to make you giggle.  Nothing in this world brings me more joy than hearing you and your sister laugh.  Nothing.  You are a very content little baby and are happy almost all the time.

  Rolling over is your other new trick.  You have mastered it and are never on your belly for more than a few seconds now.  You can take as long as you want to start walking.  Really.  As long as you want.



  You looooovvvveee your sister.  Anytime she talks to you you smile.  She loves you too.  She loves to lay next to you and snuggle you – so much so that I usually upset her by making her stop.  This month a new sister joined our family, and you love her too.  She talks to you a lot and is a very good big sister.


  You’re little personality is starting to shine through and I love watching it.  I am trying my very, very hardest to soak you all the way up – but you are growing so fast!


Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you.




July 15, 2011

Active and Loud.


That’s how I make them.  Active.  Loud.

Most of my friends who are fully seasoned in active kids, meet Sylvia and say,

    Holy. Cow.

And she’s as loud as she is active.

And I love it.


It seems her sister may be following in her small footsteps.  She’s under three months and already regularly rolling from belly to back in both directions, and as of today, she’s working on rolling from back to belly.  She’s in a hurry.

Sylvie took her first steps at 9 months.  I think it’s possible that Naomi may have her mind set to do the same.





Anyone who knows Sylvie, knows that she is loud. 

Well, Naomi has found her voice, and I think that she may rival her sister.  Luckily, she makes happy sounds about 98% of the time.




Should we be worried?



(P.S. How is there not a better version of this on You Tube?  Hillarious.)

July 13, 2011

Fresh Air Fund

  If you live in the North-East, here is a super cool opportunity to serve kids from New York City!  I totally wish that they had this program here, we’d be all over it!

  It’s called the Fresh Air Fund.

“THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2010, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.”

The Fresh Air Fund is currently looking for 850 more host families for kids to stay with this summer.  The children stay in your home for two weeks at the most, and you help them to have experiences that they probably wouldn’t ever have growing up in the inner city. 


These are the areas where they are looking for host families.  Is this you?  Interested?  Check it out!

July 11, 2011

Her Own.

“There is an instinct in a woman to love

most her own child -

and an instinct to make any child

who needs her love, her own.”

                                            ~Robert Brault


July 10, 2011



  Our newest addition, who I have settled on calling Bella, loves to play outside.  I think after being cooped up in the hospital for five days, she was going a bit stir crazy.  Every moment she is asking to go out.

  I think she spends a lot of time outside when she is at home, and so it makes her feel a little less homesick to be out there.  Her sickness also makes her get cold much easier than most, so I think the heat is a welcome reprieve from the air conditioning for her.


  So we’ve spent a lot of time at the park the last two days – which  doesn’t have Sylvia complaining either!








It seems like typically with kids we have had, with the honeymoon period comes a fake happiness, covering up what they are really feeling.  That hasn’t been true this time.  Bella is very sad and expresses her feelings pretty openly, which I can only think is good for her.




  I wish so badly that she could stay here.  We’ve always said that we would never ask a child to leave unless it wasn’t safe for them to be here, either for them or for other children in the home.  And really that’s the case here.  I am not capable of caring for her long term in the ways she needs while still providing everything that the other children in our home need.  I am hopeful that one of her relatives are able to take care of her where she will be comfortable and things would be familiar. 




  We went out yesterday and got a bunch of pretty new clothes for her and some flip flops, which are by far her favorite purchase.  She was excited to pick out a couple of new dresses.

  Bed time is the hardest time for her, and for now we have a toddler bed set up in our room so that she can be close to us.  Food will be a challenge.  The only things she asks for are Pepsi, Pop Tarts, and Frosted Flakes – and really mostly refuses any other food.  We got some Frosted Flakes, and I am trying to get some nutrition in her in other ways.  Feeding a suppressed immune system sugar will only hurt her little body, so we have to figure out other ways to get her the things her body needs.


  Please pray for her.

July 9, 2011

Between a Rock and a Ridiculously Hard Place.


  We had a little girl placed with us yesterday.  She’s 3, and she’s sweet, and she’s beautful, and she’s very, very sick.


  When intake called they told us that she was sick.  They also told us that she would have treatment at the hospital once every ten days.  They also told us that she only had treatment for another 2 months and then she was done.  They also told us she could start preschool in January.


  Well.  actually only one of these things they told us is correct, and that one thing is that she is sick. 


  We got to the hospital to pick her up and we spoke with the social worker and doctor for a few minutes.  They had already told her that she was going home with us.  We went in and met her and they started training us on how to care for her. 

  It wasn’t until the last few minutes of our meeting that they told us the reality of all this.  Things we hadn’t been told.


  So come to find out, she doesn’t just have treatment once every ten days.  She has to go to labs twice per week – which takes a few hours – and she has treatment every ten days – which takes several hours.  This all amounts to two to three days in the hospital every week.  Also, she has treatment for two more years, not months.

minor details.


  I’m not under the impression that this is our agency’s fault in any way –  I don’t think the hospital gave them the correct information, or all of the information.


  The problem lies in that what we thought we were saying yes to, and what we were really saying yes to are two completely different things.  I can be at the hospital one day every ten days, but with having other kids, I cannot be at the hospital two to three days per week.  I can’t expect Sylvie to sit in a waiting room for hours three days per week, I don’t have anywhere she can stay for that amount of time – and being away from the girls three out of five days won’t work.


  We’ve told the agency that this isn’t something we can do long term.  There are a few relatives that we’re hoping pan out in which case she could go there from our house.  Otherwise they will have to find another home for her.


  I hate that.  I hate this situation.  If we had only known to begin with, we would have known we weren’t a good match and we would have said no.  Now this poor baby girl who is already dealing with so, so much is going to have to move again.  I hate it.  It’s hard not to feel very frustrated.  I know that no one gave misinformation on purpose – but this is a big deal.  Let’s get it right.


  Please, please pray.  Pray for her health, pray for her heart, pray that one of her relatives comes through.


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