December 29, 2012




  The girls were so excited for Christmas to be here.  Sylvia was convinced that as soon as it snowed that it would be Christmas – of course, it snowed 4 days before Christmas….so she just thought that it was Christmas over and over again!  Bella counted down the days, and they were so excited Christmas Eve!



They looked so pretty!







Me, ridiculously pregnant.  Nope, no baby yet.  Just getting bigger by the day.





















This is the castle that Brian built for the girls for Christmas.  They are thrilled to say the least.  We try not to go over the top for Christmas, and we try our best to make most of our gifts hand made.  You would have never known the difference between our girls getting this, or them finding some expensive video game console under the tree – and this takes so much imagination!

The spend about 3/4 of their time in there now.  We’ve been working all week on decorating it, and it is definitely coming along…











Christmas afternoon we worked together to make cupcakes to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, the reason that we celebrate Christmas at all.  We are still feeling out what Christmas should look like for our family, but every year we get closer, and I love this tradition.  We make cupcakes, decorate them, and while we eat them we read the story of the birth of Christ out of the Jesus Storybook Bible.  The girls love it, and it centers our celebration.









We had a wonderful Christmas. Celebrating with children is absolutely the best way to do it.  Their excitement, imagination, and joy is palpable.  It was also so nice to get to celebrate with Bella and Tootaw this year, with no big visit in the middle.  I love our family.



“Don't you know I've always loved you
Even before there was time
Though you turn away
I'll tell you still
Don't you know I've always loved you
And I always will
Greater love has not a man
Than the one who gives his life to prove
That he would do anything
And that's what I'm going to do for you.”

December 28, 2012

Christmas Prep.


I have gotten ridiculously behind on posting, partly because we had work done in our basement and then it flooded and fried our computer.  But we got a new computer out of the deal!  We’ve had a lot of fun this Christmas – sorry to post all of our pre-Christmas pics at once, but I have to get them up!



Making salt dough ornaments for our Christmas Tree and for presents!  First we made the dough, cut them out, and cooked them, but the painting was the girls’ favorite part!











It was always my family’s tradition to go cut down our Christmas Tree every year.  We took the girls this year and they loved it!









The girls all ran behind Brian yelling, “Look at Daddy, he’s so strong!”  It was adorable.
















Who wants to put the star on the tree when you could honk Daddy’s nose instead?









We do an advent study called Truth in the Tinsel that includes lots of crafts.  This is the night we made crowns for the coming King.






Rudolph sandwiches with Nana!



Waking up to the first snow of the year.  Unfortunately it cancelled Bella’s pajama day and holiday party at school!  But they were very excited.




And last, but not least, cookie making and decorating!










We had a lot of fun preparing for Christmas this year!!

December 3, 2012

Concerning, Part 2.


  Well, lots has been going on here.  Mostly me trying to stay sane while constantly feeling like I’m about to go into labor.  Is this a baby #3 phenomena?  I’m not sure, but she has to stay put for at least another week, because if I go before 37 weeks we won’t be able to have the perfectly perfect home birth that I have in my mind.  And we all know that labor and birth are always supposed to be perfectly perfect. 



Mostly what’s been going on (in between passing around fevers between children – none of which Bella has caught, hallelujah.) is some major processing regarding all the concerns we’ve had with Tootaw.




We have been in the process of getting her assessed for a couple months now, still with no real assessment.  We have the real thing scheduled for December 14th.  In the meantime I asked the caseworker if she could try to have a heart to heart with Mom about anything that may have happened prenatally that could be contributing to the issues we’re seeing.

The caseworker on this case has actually done a stellar job of listening to our concerns and treating our opinion as if it has more weight than a good joke (aka: sometimes we don’t feel like just the foster parents!  It’s amazing!).  Because she’s awesome in this way, she agreed to talk to Mom.



What we found out was not really surprising to us, but did confirm some of our fears regarding the challenges we’re having with Tootaw.  Amid other information, we found out that she was born at 24 weeks gestation.  Ummmm…holy cow.  I don’t even know how she is alive, especially considering they live in a teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere.

In addition to that, we found out that Mom drank the entire pregnancy, and binged on hard alcohol frequently.

Minor details.




Essentially from the people we’ve talked to thus far, we can pretty much be sure that fetal alcohol syndrome, or one of it’s close counter parts, is our culprit.  Of course, thanks to our favorite Dr. Purvis (and other people who are not nearly as helpful as K Purv) we know that just being born at 24 weeks could also be a major contributing factor to many of the issues, especially the concerns we have with sensory processing.


Partly we are heartbroken.  For what this could mean for Tootaw’s future, for the struggles she will face, for the uphill battle.

Partly we are so thankful that we are discovering all of this when she is only three.

To be honest, partly I’m a little relieved, as I felt I was starting to go a little crazy.  We were seeing all of these concerns, and there were more than a few people who seemed to be trying to make them no big deal – like we were making something of nothing.  No, no.  This is something.



I don’t share any of this to overshare – namely to give information about our sweet girl that may be on the private side of what I normally like to share.

I share this because I know that there are lots of other foster parents who are confronting some of the same issues, some of the same heartbreak, some of the same frustration – and I’m sure are feeling a little lonely in the process.

I also share this because, well, we’re feeling a little lonely in the process.  There’s not anyone saying, “Ok, now this is the next step.”  We are having to figure it out on our own.

To get a formal diagnosis or not?

Psychiatrist, psychologist, geneticist?

Where are all of these beloved services we’ve been told about?

What assessments are even worth doing?

How can we start parenting differently that is actually effective, beyond what we already know about therapeutic parenting?


You get the idea.  I’ve been e-mailing and facebooking all our friends I can think of that can help.  And they have.


So, anyway, I thought I’d blog about our process, even though it seems dauntingly long at this point.  And also ask you all for your thoughts, tips, etc.


And also for your prayers.  Because we know that only the one who created the brain knows how to truly heal it, and that in all of this, he created our sweet girl with purpose, passion, a plan, and absolutely wonderfully.


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