Wednesday, November 4, 2015

And James :)

It is so hard to get a good, normal smile from this boy when I am holding a camera. He wants so much to give a good smile, he tries too hard! But here are some cuties of my buddy :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Don't get your hopes up for regular posts - but here's one at least!

 There are so many things I've wanted to blog about this last year, but I never seem to have time for the computer these days! So here are all the blog posts I want to write right now - each paragraph is a summary of a full post ;) If you make it to the end, or if you just scroll down, you will be rewarded with pictures of ReC in honor of her somewhat vaguely recent second birthday.

We are having baby number four! Pecan is due May 1st, and everyone is super excited for a new baby in the family. The big kids have been praying for a boy since before I got pregnant, but it will be almost Christmas before we find out. 

For the first time ever, I'm having some pregnancy complications. My body has vehemently announced that it is done carrying babies! There shouldn't be any risk to Pecan involved, but there might be emergency surgery on me at birth. At this point we can't really make many predictions, because my condition is pretty rare, and basically never seen in a woman with my demographics - under thirty, early in pregnancy, no other health problems, and only three previous pregnancies. No matter what though, it looks like this will be our last munchkin. We're not particularly sad about that, although I'm sure I will get all sentimental as the baby grows up! But... if we get baby fever again after this, we can foster or adopt! 

Tony is still loving his 'new' job - teaching leadership and life skills at the middle school he's been at basically since we got married. He's been doing a bit more with the young people at church, and has been taking care of everything around here since I got pregnant. Literally. Seriously. Not exaggerating. He even started putting ReC to sleep, and getting up with her most times in the night - and somehow miraculously cured her of waking up eleven times a night!

Cadence is thriving right now. Back in September we made the decision to homeschool her. She's been doing great and it is working out really well for our family. We are using an online charter school called EPIC, and are really enjoying our experience. Basically we get to do whatever we want, but we have access to a learning fund for supplies, classes, and curriculum, and they provide a teacher to come help as needed. We love our teacher, and have asked her to come every week. She brings a lesson or book to read, then does a little activity or craft and plays math type games with Cadence. She is also great with the younger kids, and includes them in as much as they are able to do. 

Last year when Cadence started school she did not know how to read at all. She had refused to even attempt to sound out words, and the only sight words she knew were names. This weekend she started reading this book, and is a good portion through it... It's a fifth grade reading level. This is how Cadence has always learned. She will not even try until she is confident that she can do it thoroughly and completely. Because of this, and the strange way her brain is wired, she learns in huge leaps instead of little increments, and it also seems that practice and repetition don't really help her much; instead she seems to do best with being introduced to a concept and then left to simmer and stew on it for a while, then when you bring it back up later she suddenly knows it. 

James is hanging in there - I feel bad for my poor middle child right now! I just don't seem to have much time to give him right now, but it's getting better now that my morning sickness is gone. I can at least sit up on the couch and read to him or do some school when ReC goes down for her nap. He loves preschool and learning. He knows his letters now and is starting to sound out words, and absolutely adores math. He's always begging me to quiz him on his adding and subtracting - "Ask me my 2's Mommy!" 

James is still our little comedian, and loves to sing. He can be so sweet sometimes, and is definitely Daddy's boy!

Rec... whew. ReC is convinced she can achieve anything, and is determined to keep trying until she succeeds. She sings, climbs, jumps off the stair landing, jumps off of barstools, climbs in the treehouse, swings as high as the big kids... she is determined not to be left behind in any way! She potty trained herself back in February, for which I am very grateful! It's been our first experience with a kid that just goes potty when she needs to, without us having to send her to the bathroom after every meal. She also tells us if she's hungry or tired, instead of just starting to act weird or getting sick. She adores being outside, being read to, and having snuggles. She spent the summer bonding with Daddy, and now they are almost as close as James and Tony. 

ReC has decided she is a frog. We are only allowed to call her "Ribbit" or "Frog", never baby, sweet girl, ReC, etc. She corrects us quite vehemently if we get it wrong! 

Well.. I would love to expound deeply on all of the above and twenty million other things that float through my mind these days, but I think that's going to have to be it! Maybe someday I'll get back to posting about homeschool, fostering, preschool, and life with little ones... but don't get your hopes up ;)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Master of the Wind

Our family is in a stormy and exciting time right now. In the midst of following God's direction, my fearful prayer has been, "Lord, please shelter us - please don't let this destroy our home, or hurt our children." Today as I was putting James down for his nap, he wanted me to sing him a song about a storm - and what a blessing it was! I have been looking at the waves and the wind, and having no faith! God said to us, "Let us pass over unto the other side." And my answer was, "Carest thou not that we perish?" Thank the Lord for the great calm He has brought to my heart, and the knowledge that He will bring such a great calm to our home and our children!

Mark 4:35-41
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Master of the Wind
by Bill Gaither

My boat of life sails on the troubled sea,
Whenever there's a wind in my sails
But I have a friend, who watches over me,
When the breeze turns into a gale

I know the Master of the wind,
I know the Maker of the rain
He can calm the storm, make the sun shine again,
I know the Master of the wind

Sometimes I soar like and eagle to the sky,
Among the peaks my soul can be found.
An unexpected storm may drive me from the heights,
Bring me low, but never brings me down

I know the Master of the wind,
I know the Maker of the rain
He can calm the storm, make the sun shine again,
I know the Master of the wind

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Last Two Weeks Compared to Today

Two weeks ago Monday we dropped Cadence off at school, the littles off with Nana, and I went to the dentist. I picked up the littles, picked up lunch, picked up Cadence, and we ate on the way to Broken Arrow to see Mommy. We stayed the night there - on the way home at noon Tuesday we got a call asking if we could take a 2 week old girl for a week or two. We got home, got some things ready, and welcomed baby K right after Tony got home.
Wednesday began Thanksgiving break, and had a short visit with K's parents, Thursday was thanksgiving at Mom and Dad's, Friday was decorating at Mom and Dad's. Saturday we stayed home, Sunday was church. Sunday night Cadence woke up running fever and throwing up, which lasted until Tuesday.
Monday morning we woke up before the sun and took J to have surgery on both eyes, and I caught cold. While we waited for the anesthesia to wear off completely we put up some Christmas decorations. Tuesday we started daily visits with K's parents. Since Cadence was still sick Nana kindly kept her and J while ReC and I went. Wednesday I took Cadence to school (a few minutes late), and took ReC and J for K's parent visit. By the time we got home my cold had beaten me up, so a neighbor friend who has a kid in Cadences class brought her home. Then Lowes delivered our new dishwasher, minus a few key parts - so we pulled out the old dishwasher, which required turning off the hot water in the kitchen and unplugging the garbage disposal, and did not have time to fix it until Friday. Thursday was another parent visit, Friday was a parent visit followed by a mad dash to get home, put ReC down for a nap, pack K's diaper bag and start gathering the rest of her things so she could be released to her parents that afternoon, greet the social worker who came to take K to the doctor, put out lunch, wake ReC up, pick up Cadence, finish packing K's things while the kids ate lunch, then drive to Norman to deliver K's things and let the kids say goodbye to her and her parents. Then we let out the breath we'd been holding all morning and headed home for a nap.Ton picked up parts before he came home, and spent the evening putting the garbage disposal, hot water, and dishwasher back in order.  Saturday was Dad's 60th birthday party, then Sunday church all day of course.

All this to say...

Today was downright leisurely, and the children and I have been reveling in it!

We woke up with plenty of time to snuggle and read Bible stories in bed before breakfast. When everyone was ready to go we still had time for morning worship, then the big kids pretended to be practicing for the Christmas program. After we dropped Cadence off for school J and ReC played out front in the leaves, whacking the tree with sticks and throwing Sycamore tree seed balls. Then J went out back to play while ReC played in the playroom. Next came preschool - a video clip about a first trip to the dentist, then leaning back in the recliner playing dentist, then choosing from the preschool basket and playing with our binder and cookie sheet activities while we ate a snack. Now I am rocking ReC while J plays firetrucks. And we still have half an hour before we go pick up Cadence!

Friday, December 5, 2014

God is in the Interruptions

One of our favorite comedians, Mark Lowry, once quoted a friend as saying, 'God is in the interruptions.' And it is so true. We go along with lives, our routines, our plans, and God is there.

But then there is an Interruption. Something outside our plan happens, and we say, "Not my plan Lord, but Your will."

And God is THERE.

In that test, in that blessing, in that moment, in that month, He is THERE. That is when we fall on Him, draw close to Him, see His work so plainly, in that time when His will interrupts our plan.

And we grow, and we struggle, and trust, and we battle doubt, and God proves over and over again, He is THERE. In our hearts, in our lives, in our interruption.

And then the interruption is part of our past, and it seems like it's always been there. And we press the battle on with renewed vigor, with a closeness to God that never could have come from the mundane, with a love for Him strengthened by His unfailing love for us, heartened by the way He was THERE - in the interruption.

Sometimes, the interruption becomes the plan , the new path to follow. And still, God is there. Proving He is trustworthy. Proving His will is even better than our plan.

Outside Our Dream {An Unexpected Journey Into Foster Care}

It occurred to me that I have never gotten around to catching you all up on our adoption process. Which is insane, since that was about a year ago - and our journey has taken a twist I never dreamed it would. But, that's how I roll ;)

So here, in all it's verbose (cause this is me) glory, is our story so far. We can't wait to see where God will lead next - after all, He continually surprises us!

Last November, when ReC was about three months old, Tony and I went on a date. We wound up on the topic of adoption, something we had discussed in a vague, "Yeah, I think I'd like to do that sometime in the distant, cloudy future" sort of way many times before. This time though, we abruptly realized that the cloudy future was here. It was not a gradual transition. We just suddenly both knew now was the time. We had always said, "When we are done having biological kids, then..." But nope. Apparently not.

It's hard to explain how we felt, or why we suddenly felt such an urgent need to get. it. done. We knew we wanted to adopt domestically from foster care.You see, we weren't that anxious to add to our family. We had a new baby, and no reason to think we wouldn't have more in the future. We just felt compelled to move forward, with hearts hurting to help. That's what it boils down to I guess - there are children in our country who are hurting, and how could we not be ready and waiting to help them in any way we can? And of course, adopting a child, loving on them, teaching them, keeping them safe, dealing with their trauma, helping them. That would be helping.

We really had no idea.

I made a request online and within a day I had a packet of info in the mail, and a social worker on the phone. Yes, you can adopt from foster care, lets get going!

We officially started the process in January, and finished out certification in July. Throughout all the training, orientations, videos, meetings, interviews, the topic of fostering kept coming up. In Oklahoma, all "Resource Parents" get the same training and go through the same application process, whether they are doing fostering or adoption. And it was weird. Because we went from,

"Fostering is definitely not for us. That is beyond our capabilities, not even something we would ever, ever want to do."

to -

"I had no idea that's what fostering was like."

to -

"You know, that kind of sounds like something we would like to do eventually."

to -

"Wow. We feel a definite call to foster. Unless something changes majorly, we will be doing that when the kids are much older."

to -

"Wait a minute. They need foster homes that are only for emergency, very short term, placements? That sounds like something we should look into."

to -

"We will probably be fostering within the next six months to a year - maybe we'll chat with our worker again when ReC is sleeping better and not so clingy. Maybe in January?"

And then one day in October our case worker called me, and the conversation went something like this.
"Hi Sally, this is -----. I'm so sorry, and I know this is very strange, but I have three little girls, ages 5, 6, and 1 month sleeping here in my office, and would you and Tony be able to keep them until Monday?"



After a lot of stumbling around in a daze and praying, we came up with an answer. A scared, shaking, adrenaline sort of answer.


It had taken us so long to decide they had blessedly found another place for the girls, but in the conversation she asked if we would be willing to do something like that if they needed us again. I said sure. And she called back ten minutes later, to ask if we would take a 5 year old boy until Monday.

So we did. And it was shockingly, miraculously excellent. And so we got put on the emergency foster call list.

We've been called a couple times a week since then, but for the sake of our children we've decided to only take about 1 case a month, max. So far we have had our first little boy (who turned out to be such a sweetie), did a respite care for a 10 month old in a pre-adoptive home, and just today returned a 3 week old girl back to her parents after having her since she came into care last Tuesday.

It's been crazy. And not at all what we planned at the start. And yet, God's timing has been so evident in the way He guided our hearts and prepared our minds. We don't know how many we'll do, or what our family's role will be in the future, or if this will be something we do 'forever.' But it is comforting to see His will so plainly, so in the middle of "baby's crying, other baby's crying, why did we say yes?" we can feel His peace. We are still willing to adopt, of course, should that be God's plan - we are still on that list too - but it is not a likely thing, due to the age range we would accept.

And now I wonder… maybe God’s plan for our family was quite simply so far removed from our wildest imaginations He had to use a familiar path to help us dream a little.