November 19, 2012




The girls had a ton of fun playing in the leaves with Brian this weekend.



Ugh.  Getting so tired of having to pixilate their little faces.  Maybe someday I won’t.  But their smiles are so beautiful.


















This is the part where Sylvia got leaves down her pants and decided she’s just go sans clothing.






Although at this point, the girls are pretty much just obsessed with when it’s going to start snowing.

November 16, 2012

You belong.


Bella is doing better with processing and dealing with visits than she did the first time around.  Thank goodness.  We’ve had a couple of vomit issues and definitely some behavior driven by confusion and anxiety – but overall much better than before.


I think that this is mostly due to her feeling much more stable and attached in our family.  I think she has decided that this is where she wants to belong, and she knows that we aren’t going anywhere.


They have visits on Fridays, and every week I get a little nervous about what the repercussions are going to be when they return and how it will effect this new sense of normal that we have worked so hard to build for the girls.


Last week, when they got home, Sylvia was drawing and Bella and Tootaw joined her.  As they sat down to draw, Bella said, “I’m going to draw a picture of my family,” and made sure that Brian and I both heard her.  I had no idea what to expect, especially since she had just returned from a visit with Mom.


A few minutes later she brought me her picture, declaring that it was her family.  The picture was of all of us, Brian, Sylvia, Naomi, Tootaw, Bella, and me, with our names next to each of the people.


I think, in the only way a five year old knows how, she was making a statement.


This is my family.

This is who is here for me.

This is who makes me feel safe.


And she was also asking for reassurance.


This is where I belong, right?


Yes, sweet girl.  You belong.  And no matter what happens, no matter what any court decides, no matter where you are, no matter where else you also belong – we will always be here for you.  You will always have a piece of my heart.  You will always be safe here.  You will always have a Bella shaped spot in our family.  And you have no idea the way you made my heart feel by drawing me as a part of ‘your family’.  Love you, love you, love you.


November 13, 2012

Fostering Questions–Lifebooks.

I’m a little bit (oooorrrr, a lot) behind on questions I’ve gotten about fostering.  Life has been crazy, and has no signs of slowing down, but I will try to answer what I can!


  I got a question about lifebooks recently:


Are you required to make life books for your foster kids? (It's expected of all foster parents in my state.) If so, any tips for keeping them up to date and efficient?


I’m not sure I’m the person to ask as far as keeping lifebooks ‘up to date’ as little in my life stays that way!  BUT, yes we are required to make lifebooks, and I think they are vital for kids who spend time in foster care.

Our very first placement called me on the phone and went through her lifebook page by page with me for at least a year after they left.  It meant so much to her to be able to go back and confirm those memories with me. 


With that said, we do lifebooks a little bit differently than most people do.  If I scrapbooked our lifebooks, they would never happen.  I don’t get much time to sit down and do anything – and if there are craft supplies involved my kids quickly make sure it becomes pure chaos.


So, I actually choose to make our lifebooks on  That way I can upload pictures and quickly make pages for different events, save it, and come back to it later.  It’s easy for me to upload the pictures, and putting it together happens pretty quickly.  Then, when kids leave, I just order a copy – if they leave quickly, I have it shipped to wherever they are going.  It also makes it easy for me to order a second copy for our family so that we have the memories also.  It’s possible that it’s a little more expensive that putting it together other ways, but I think they will last well, and it’s worth the ease and actually getting them done.

For anything that I want to stick in the lifebook that can’t be photographed or scanned in, I just get one of those big plastic envelopes that they sell with scrapbooking supplies and put it in the back of the book to stick it all in.



So….that’s how I do lifebooks!  Anyone else have any tips?

November 12, 2012

Halloween ‘12.

The girls had LOTS of fun with Halloween this year.  Bella counted down with anticipation to the day that she got to take her costume to school and the beloved candy that would be allowed.  (We are the lame parents who don’t really do sugar otherwise.) 

As of a couple of weeks ago, all three older girls wanted to be princesses – which just seemed so lame.  They dress up as princesses daily.  So I may or may not have tried to influence their decisions – and we ended up with two very cute kitty cats and two beautiful butterflies.






A purple kitty and a black kitty.  (Was there any doubt that Sylvia was going to be a purple version of whatever she dressed up as?  No.)








Ugh, I hated having to pixelate these photos, the joy in their faces was palpable.









Oh, so this is why my sisters were all so excited about Halloween!




Pumpkin carving.








November 2, 2012

Guilt and Grace

I’ve been struggling some lately with my feelings on the girls’ case.

I am the foster parent that other foster parents get frustrated talking to because my rhetoric always comes back to, ‘but our job is to support them getting back home.’  Which is definitely not the most soothing thing to hear when there is all kinds of deregulation in said foster parent’s case.

I am hard nosed, to a fault, in the lets get these kids home, and keep them home *safely* department.  (Just go back and read posts from the beginning of Bella’s case.)


But lately when I’m  zoning out thinking about the girls’ case, I catch myself being all:

“This is pointless.  Even if the girls don’t implode over visits, why even have them now? (although implosion is on the rise.)  Let’s just get this over with.  I hope I don’t have to sit with Mom for two hours at the next hospital appointment…”


Now, granted, from a very realistic perspective, reunification is not going to happen in this case.  Not at this point. 

So how am I supposed to approach my feelings about all of this?


What I absolutely don’t want to do is lose perspective and go all raging foster parent on the case.  (Easy to do.)


I have, and want to maintain a compassion for Bella and Tootaw’s parents.  I don’t want to lose an honest heart in knowing that I cannot possibly understand what life has always been like, and is for them.

I have been privileged in ways that I cannot just pretend do not exist.  I never had to worry about real life when I was growing up. I had parents and role models who taught me what I needed to know to “be successful” and encouraged me to do so.  I was not hyper exposed to things that were not appropriate.  High school was expected of me, college was encouraged.  The list goes on.  I did nothing to earn or deserve any of those things.

I have absolute empathy for their position, their backgrounds, their lack of support.



Simultaneously, none of this precludes Bella and Tootaw from needing, and having the right by law, to justice.  An opportunity to move forward, and a hope for healing. The system is in place to look out for the best interest of the children, not the parents, and I think near the end of cases this gets a little muddled.


Of course, all of this points to the brokenness of the system, as well.  If we were as heavy handed in prevention, support, and resourcing as we are in other areas of child welfare, I think many of these cases could just be prevented.


All that to say, that these things conflict in my heart.  This desire to support, love, and encourage their parents, while simultaneously feeling like in reality, this case needs to go to adoption and these girls need to be allowed consistency in which to work out all the confusion.

There are a lot of people who hear about the girls’ case and are ripe to root for TPR and to be disgusted with their parents (a struggle for me as well).  But I can’t help but to want to throw up just a little bit at the sound of that.  I mean, what is it that we are truly doing here?  Let’s maintain perspective on the mourning that should be involved.


I don’t want to feel guilty advocating for what seems to be what is best for the girls because it simultaneously feels like giving up on something we made every effort to support.

There are not easy answers for this.  All this brokenness.  What does it look like to offer grace to the girls, and also to their parents?  To love them both?


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