September 28, 2011

Pills, pills, pills.

When I was little and our family would make our 24 hour car ride out to Arizona each year to see my grandparents, I would always sleep on the floor of the living room in their little trailer.  I distinctly remember every morning, my grandpa getting up and (while making an unbelievable amount of noise with the cabinet doors and pans) getting ready for the day.  He’d also sing a little ditty that went “Pills, pills, pills, look at all these pills”, while he was getting he and my grandma’s meds ready for the day.  I don’t know why I remember that.

 

I think I’m going to adopt his song though.

 

Bella started maintenance on Monday for her treatment.  This is great news, because it seems that mostly we’re coasting for the next year and a half until her treatment is done. 

Thus far, the maintenance meds and treatment don’t seem to be getting her down much – no nausea, no energy loss, no losing feeling in her feet.  (all side effects.)  So we are singing our thanks for that.

 

With maintenance, we were given 4 new meds – which brings us to errrr….13 or 14 I think.

Like I said…..Pills, pills, pills.

Although most of hers are liquid (thank goodness) and also taste really good according to Bella, so that makes our lives much easier.  Mostly it’s just a matter of getting into routines with the meds every time they change them so that I can remember what comes in the morning and what comes at night.

 

But….all of her counts are high, they say that she seems to be reacting to the treatment well, and I think we are past most of the scary stuff.  I’m not sure we’re completely in the clear as far as remission goes, but I think we’re getting there!

The doctor even cleared for her to start preschool!!  We weren’t able to at the beginning of the year because she was still too susceptible to infection and germs – but the doc says we can give it a go!  I’m so excited – I think she will loooove going to preschool – I can’t wait to get to tell her when we get her enrolled.

No news on Bella’s sister.  We’ll see I suppose.

 

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Good news on all fronts.  Feeling very blessed.

September 26, 2011

Wrap Up.

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Our little dare devil.

 

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A visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s!  I probably have 200 pictures of kids on this swing, but it’s just the perfect picture place!

 

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On the four wheeler with Grandpa.

 

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Look Mom, no hands!

 

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Peekaboo!

September 23, 2011

Bella's Gift.

  Imagine my surprise when I shifted through the mail on the counter and found a package that read ‘Bella’.

  It immediately brought tears to my eyes when Bella opened it (very excited, of course) and found a crocheted hat inside that someone had crafted for her. 

  I’m not some big fancy schmancy blog.  We don’t regularly get anything in the mail from someone who’s read about our kids and is moved to send something.  But this kind lady did just that.  (I won’t post your name since you don’t seem to list it on your etsy or facebook sites!)  From two states away Bella received a little love.



So cute.  She looks like a little owl in it.  (she’s wearing it backwards so I could post the picture here on the blog.) 
Bella is generally pretty good at sharing, and she’s let Sylvia try it on a couple times, but she’s been pretty protective of her new hat.



I just wanted to say thank you to the sender.  It warmed my heart – and Bella is very excited.  (She couldn’t believe that she got to open mail!)  Thank you so much for your heart and for your thought in sending something you made. 

September 20, 2011

Five Months.

  Little lady, I think between you and your sister I might just be in trouble.

You are wigglier than she ever was, and you’re louder too.  How that happened, I just can’t be sure.  Your personality is such that I am sure all I’ll be able to do is laugh at all the mischief you’ll get yourself into.

You are happy all. the. time.

Actually there was this one evening when we were hanging out with our friends and you were kind of cranky.  You cried some.  But yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s it.  That’s the only time.  And it was past your bedtime.

You are some kind of joyful, girl.

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If you haven’t heard by now, you look a little like your Mommy.  As in, indistinguishable baby pictures.  And with my new haircut, we kind of have the same hair going on too (maybe I’ll put a few little red streaks through it.).  I love that you look like me.  That sounds completely narcissistic, but really, I just love knowing that the whole world can tell you’re mine.

 

You roll on your own accord.  Nobody’s going to make your roll, or convince you it’s a good idea – you only do it when you decide it sounds good.  Maybe that’s some strong will peeking through (don’t know who you would have gotten that from…).  You are already scooting to get to toys.  Let me remind you, you are only five months old and mobility is not something that I’ll be begging for anytime soon – aka, slow down.  You love baby toys now and do absolutely anything in your power to get them into your mouth.  I don’t think teeth are very far down the road.

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I think I’m dealing pretty well with how quickly you seem to be growing.  You are very petite, so I can convince myself that you aren’t really as old as you are.  You still seem very little, which I love.  The only chub on your whole body is on your thighs, and it is the cutest thigh chub ever.

 

You refuse to take a bottle.  It’s just not Mommy and you want nothing to do with it.  Secretly I’m ok with this.  I guess if I’m the only one who will suffice, I can handle that.  I love knowing that there’s no replacing Mommy.  And I’m not too keen on being away from you for very long anyway, so it works out well for all of us.

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You love your sisters.  You think they are hilarious.  Bella and Sylvia can get you belly laughing faster than anyone or anything and all they have to do is smile at you.  It is very sweet.  Sylvia is so excited when you get up in the morning and she loves to “hode you”.  Your sisters are the first to rush to your side if they think you are upset.  Bella loves to ‘read you books’ and asks if she can talk with you anytime you are doing tummy time.  It’s so sweet.  Ridiculously, really.  Sometimes when I’m not looking, Sylvia tries to ride you like a horse.  I’m sorry about that.  I try to save you.

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So, all this to say, I love you.  I just love you more and more and more every minute.  I don’t know how our family made it before you were here, but I’m sure glad you’re a part of us now.

 

Love you, love you, love you,

                     Mommy

September 15, 2011

Thinspiration.

Hi, my name is Maggie, and I am addicted to Pinterest.

Pinterest gives me the little creativity outlet that sustains me when I don’t have time to sew in between diapers.  It also supplies me with a list of cool crafts and sewing ideas that I will never complete in this lifetime.  But I can dream.

 

The last few weeks, though, I’ve noticed something on Pinterest that really bothers me.  A lot.

There are a lot of women who have boards solely devoted to pictures of women who are skinnier than they are.  They label them clever things like ‘thinspiration’ and ‘20 pounds from now’.  This is bothersome.  What is even worse, is that they pin pictures of women who are clearly not healthy.  Women who are not ‘in shape’ but are ill in the way they view their bodies.  There are enough women pinning these pictures that they are aggregating on the list of popular pins.

 

As a mother of daughters, this scares me more than any words I can contrive.

 

My daughters,

  Know that I am on my knees, pleading for your understanding of worth.  By all means, I want to teach you how to be healthy and care for your bodies, but health is not what you see in the mirror.  I pray that you never look into a mirror and find your worth in what you see.

  God made you.  Let me pause there.

God made you.

And when he made you, he looked at you and saw His beautiful daughter.  He made you to be beautiful from the inside out.  As I pray for you, I pray that you find your purpose in growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.  I pray that you find your worth in being a child of God.

 

The world will tell you that you have to look different – no matter how you look.  The advertisements will tell you that what you are is not good enough. (One of the primary reasons we don’t have a t.v. – which I’m sure you’ll hate me for at some point.)  There is no end to striving after what they tell you to be – because they will always tell you to be something else.

And  they.  are.  wrong.

Your beauty is not a number on a scale, or a tube of makeup, or a special cleanser that makes your pores smaller and your zits disappear, or a different outfit that makes you more acceptable to them.  It’s not even defined by your ‘failures’ – because that is how we learn.

Your true beauty will be defined in your character.  In your generosity.  How you won’t think twice about giving all you’ve got because someone else needs it.  Your true beauty will be defined by your selflessness and humility.  Your true beauty will be defined by how you display love that is not of this world.  Really it’s only when you stop focusing only on what you see in the mirror that you can show anyone your true beauty.

Right now you are so confident.  You do something (like spin in circles) and then yell, “Look, Daddy!”, so sure that what you are doing is wonderful.  You are confident because they haven’t gotten to you yet – they haven’t been able to tell you that your spinning just isn’t up to par, it’s not twirly enough, or that your butt looks big when you spin.  You don’t know, yet, that the whole world is waiting to tell you that your spinning just isn’t good enough, and that the quality of your spinning should define who you are.

I plead that you will not get caught up in this world.  It’s just not worth it. 

When I look at you, I see beauty because of who God created you to be.  You are beautiful because you were created in His image. 

Please don’t listen to them.  Please.  Keep spinning.  It’s beautiful.

September 14, 2011

Have I let my Kids Down?

 I read this post over at Not Just an Ordinary Life.     

Julie is a mom to 11 kids and has a beautiful heart for children with special needs.  I’m not sure how she does it but she says:

Lest you think we are either crazy or saints, we are neither--just followers of Jesus Christ who desire to follow his commands to take care of the orphans and widows. Any thing that we do is from Him, not of our own strength.

 

Love that.

This post speaks to something I think most moms struggle with.  It was just a good reminder for me – so I thought I’d share.

Have I let my kids down?

Sometimes a phrase catches my eye that makes me think all day. Today, I am already stuck on something...(and I wonder why my kids are perseverative?!)
The phrase..
"And I feel like I have let my kids down..."
This was the first thing I read this morning. It was just one line in a blog post but it made me laugh. This blogger is a Mom who is looked upon as a wonderful example of Christian parenting  and who still feels on some level that she let her kids down. It wasn't a big thing, just something she hadn't introduced them to that she wished she had. If I could be like this mom for just a day, I would be well pleased.
I think the feeling of letting our kids down is universal.
Facebook and blogs don't always help:
I have a sweet friend who homeschools and all of her kids are memorizing the book of James during this school year.  Joy and love for the Lord exudes from this friend. Her posts on facebook remind me of what I wish I had done. Instantly, I feel like I have let my kids down.
I glanced at another blog of a mom this morning...the photos were gorgeous. The moments that most of us don't think to capture on film were all there...they were beautiful and idealic. Have a rushed through parenting and missed the moments like that with my kids? Maybe I have let my kids down..
I have not taught my children to responsibility in the way I should have...I often do too much for them. I have wasted time on things that were not eternally significant...I have worried about what others would think...
I don't make the healthiest meals. I haven't helped them memorize scripture enough. I don't homeschool. Have I let them down?
I wish we would have spent more time listening and praying and worshipping together. I have let them down.
Have I let my kids down? Of course I have. I get annoyed. I get frustrated. I get mad. I am such an imperfect example of Christ's love.
Well, now that I have given them all a reason to enter therapy in the future, I can step back and remind myself that we can not give our children all that they need.. We are human. We are not perfect and to expect otherwise would be a reflection on our own pride. I am a mess. I have said it before...it is still true. I am mess...
a forgiven mess...
a loved mess...
a precious mess...
And...all that really matters is that there is less of me and more of Him. What I have to offer is insignificant compared to what God has in store for them...what He wants to teach them. My imperfections are a reminder that I am in need of a Savior...that we all need a savior. And I have one desire...to have my attempt at parenting glow like a neon sign pointing to the One who will never let them down...
This whole parenting thing is not about me...not about how I have let them down...or built them up. And I am so thankful that I have something to offer them besides my flawed parenting skills...
I can point them to Jesus..and He will never let them down...

September 13, 2011

Rogaine Shmogaine.

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I love this little girl.

 

One week ago today Ms. Bella had the last of her third round of treatment.  She is so brave, and I could not be more proud of her.  The joy while leaving that hospital on Tuesday was so thick you could taste it (and we did.  via an ice cream treat.  that’s the same as joy, isn’t it?). 

We’re not done yet.  Now she goes on maintenance for the next year and a half.  But on maintenance we only have to go to the hospital once a month (!!) and most of her treatment is home administered.  It adds to our ridiculous collection of medication under our sink, but I am so excited that she won’t have to be pricked and prodded for every round of treatment now.

Her body has responded very well to treatment so far.  Since she came to us her counts (which basically tell you how well her body can fight off infection) have only risen, and for several weeks have been at the same level as someone without her disease.  Amazing.  God is good.  (Thank you for your prayers.)

 

And did you catch it?  In that picture up there?

 

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Hair. And those eyelashes?  I’ve never seen such eyelashes before.

She is a perfectly beautiful little girl without it.  From the inside out.  And if you know her for more than five minutes, you don’t even notice anymore.

But it means more than beauty.  It means health. growth. improvement. 

When she’s in the tub and I reach down to wash it (because it’s long enough to wash now!) it’s like seeing God’s rainbow in the sky.  A promise.  Things are getting better.  She is getting better.

Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise.

September 12, 2011

Wrap Up.

  I always have a bunch of pictures that I don’t get to post that I want to have on the blog for when I get it printed. (I’m printing it into books as a memory book for our family.)

  So, I think at the end of each week I’m just going to post the pictures that I have that I want to make sure make it in.  Probably on Sundays.  Also, I don’t think the grandparents (or the aunties for that matter) mind looking at extra pictures of the kids.

 

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Her father’s doing.

 

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Sylvie and grandpa.  Love this.

 

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Sylvie had so much fun at Nana and Grandpas that she literally fell asleep at the dinner table.  This is noteworthy.  Quite possibly the only time I’ve ever seen Sylvia actually run out of gas.

 

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In the swing, of course.  This one mostly just to say, look how OLD she looks!!!

 

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Pretty sure they’re going to be best friends.

 

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Playdough Jewelry

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pretty toes.

 

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That’s a wrap.

September 7, 2011

The things I choose not to think about.

  Bella’s case seems to be moving forward, which is very exciting.  I italicize ‘seems’ because in foster care you never know what might happen.  I always tell my MAPP students – it’s not over until it’s over.  really over.  completely and totally done.  Like so done that it’s burned on both sides over.

You get the idea.

So we are excited that things are moving, but trying not to get our hopes up.  Someday after we’ve been foster parents for 60 years, I might get better at this.

 

We’re being approached about the possibility of having Bella’s sister move in with us.  This is actually the second time we’ve been asked.  I’m not sure it’s a good idea, as she and Sylvie are only 29 days apart in age.  I’m tired just thinking about it.

Show me a woman who has four children four and under – two of which are two – and I’ll show you a woman who’s done lost. her. mind.

Like I said, we’re considering it.

 

In the convo regarding her moving here, I pointed out that the case is, in fact, moving forward.  Her sister is currently placed in their hometown, and I brought up the fact that their hometown is probably the better place for them as we get closer to overnights, visits in the home, etc.  (I also brought up that if we are semi-close to the end of the case that another transition might not be what either girl needs…..I think that was dismissed quickly.)

 

Just after these words left my mouth, I realized what I was saying.

I was talking about Bella leaving.

As a foster parent, I don’t think much about when the kids leave.  If I did there would be no way for me to properly attach and love them.  So it catches me off guard a little when it comes up.

Bella leaving.  It actually made it a little bit hard for me to breath for a second. 

I get so accustomed to kids being here that when they go I’m left wondering how our family will function without them.  Here we go again.

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I can feel the cracks in my heart forming when I think about her leaving.

But the other thing I tell my MAPP students is: 

If you don’t get attached, you’re not doing it right.

September 2, 2011

Yes Man.

Brian and I have been working to amp up on our therapeutic, attachment parenting skills.  It’s something we’ve always educated ourselves on, but feel like we need to spend more time on.  I get lazy in between placements and then always feel like kicking myself when we have a new child with us because I feel like I have to do so much review. 

 

I’m re-reading this gem, and just got the newest Daniel Hughes book in the mail (Thanks Jen!).

 

The struggle to get into the right frame of mind to parent these children well is intense.  I’ve been trying really hard lately to give lots and lots of ‘yeses’.  When I’m trying to give a yes when a no would be so much easier, I have to stop and realize that the reason it is so hard to give that yes is because I am being lazy.  (Can we say – refinement?)

  These are the times that I have to get goofy with my kids to get myself where I need to be – sometimes I just start singing ‘yes’, which actually makes me happy to say it – and the kids love it too.

 

The real trick (beyond finding the time to educate myself betweendiapersandfeedingandwhiiiiinnnniiinnnggg) is being able to slow myself down enough in each moment to really consciously respond in the way they need me to.  To always be reminding myself of the compassion needed (not necessarily sympathy – compassion) in my every look, tone, and technique. 

And to remember that I cannot do this.  I don’t have it in me.  Really.  I don’t.  I need someone much bigger and more patient and loving and compassionate.  Without Him, I run out of all of these things by approximately 8:30.  (a.m.) – that’s pitiful.  But, that is exactly what I am without Him.

 

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  So.  This has been sufficiently boring.  But this is where I am.

Christ asks us to do everything that we do with excellence.  So I will keep educating myself and keep being intentional in the way I parent my kids, both my kids who have experienced trauma, and those who haven’t.

 

 

If you’re reading this and thinking, what is she talking about?? 

Non Foster Parents:  Parenting kids from trauma is a whole new ballgame in the parenting arena.  It requires parenting differently and even more intentionally (not that parenting other children does not take intentionality, this just takes intentionality on steroids.)

Foster parents:  If you feel lost in the world of parenting kids from trauma, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me, and I would love to hook you up with some great resources.  It’s a lot of work – but makes your life, and your children’s lives so much less fractured!

September 1, 2011

Always better when we’re together.

  As a foster parent, I always try my very hardest to support our kids going home and to help the family and kids work toward reunification.  That is, after all, the goal of foster care – to keep kids safe while simultaneously making it safe for them to be home.

 

Of course, there have been times when I did not want children to go home.  Those times were only in circumstances where I genuinely felt fearful for the safety of the children.  Outside of safety issues, kids should be with their parents.  Period.  I’m even willing to host a hearty debate on that.

 

 

All this to say, I have never wanted a child to go home like I want Bella to go home.  To read that sounds like I don’t love her.  I do.  But her Dad loves her more – and it shows.

  Every time I talk to him (virtually every night) he is excited to tell us about progress in the case plan and the things he is working on.  He has been nothing but appropriate on the phone to us as foster parents and to Bella. 

  He has even thanked us for caring for her during this time.  (If you foster, you know how over the top crazy that is.)  Which isn’t something that I, in any way, expect from bio parents – but it does show his understanding of the situation.

 

  Everything inside of me prays she goes home.

  Everything inside of me hurts for her Daddy every time we say goodbye.

 

Please pray for him.  And for her.  And that they get to be together.

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