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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten!

I just found this draft, not sure why it wasn't published. So here, just two years later!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy Birthday ReC!

Birthday Morning Breakfast

Birthday Swinging

Birthday Mud ;)

Monster Cake for Monster Baby

*Gasp* For me?!

Chubs :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pretend Homeschool Kindergarten {Curriculum Plan}

Last year was a fun and interesting year for us. We knew Cadence was academically ready for Kindergarten, but definitely not emotionally ready, especially with a new sibling coming right as the school year started. We couldn't just do nothing - Cadence craves mental stimulation, and goes haywire and gets all.... *ahem* "difficult" if she's not challenged on a regular basis. So I made a plan to do an unofficial sort of Kindergarten here at home. I would offer her school every day that I could, and let it go when I couldn't. She definitely did a lot better behavior wise on the days we did school! I think I should have actually made it a higher priority than I did, but hindsight's 20/20!
Since we planned all along to put her in public school Kindergarten this fall, I tried to deliberately focus away from traditional kindergarten skills like reading and math. Instead I offered materials, activities, and books on things that don't get as much attention in elementary school - Bible, science, art, music, politics, random history and geography tidbits, lots and lots of read-a-louds...

So, are you ready for my really complicated plan? Here goes ;)

Lots of random things printed from Pinterest based on Cadence's interests

States with maps, stickers, and books
Reading maps
Familiarity with globes

Bob books
Sight words (my choice of a few limited words)

3D Shapes

Writing name without help

Variety of nonfiction books
Occasional hands on activity or worksheet to go along

Patriotism / Citizenship

Bible verses, songs, character traits

Piano lessons and listening to classical music

Lots and lots of chapter books

Painting, drawing, sewing, and crafts readily available

And that's it. That's what we did this year. Now, there was a lot she learned in spite of me deciding not to push - she's reading some now, and does basic math without help, and learned the days of the week, and how to swing herself, and take herself to the bathroom, and bake cornbread. But what was important to her was that I was always ready with stuff for her to work on and learn. She tells everyone that she's homeschooled for preschool, but she's going to kindergarten at public school. Works for me!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Random Update (Pictures for Gramma!)

Aren't they cute? Well... I think so :) 

I was updating the kids' journals today, and thought I'd share snippets again, with pictures, since I finally got ReC in a picture frame on the playroom wall. Only ten months later *eyeroll*. 

Drama king has his own imaginary friend now. His name is Jojie. Jojie can swing all by himself, and eats very fast. 
Here's what I put in his journal from last week:

Boogers… Oh the boogers… I was holding you for snuggles at naptime the other day, and attempting to ignore you while you picked boogers. It went something like this. (In a singsong voice) "Pickin' my boogers… pickin' my boogers… Oooo, a booger. I got a booooogeeerrr… I'm going to eat it. Ulmp! I ate my booger…."
"That booger was yummy 'licious!"

This girl is so sweet. And sometimes maybe a little too helpful. I was playing the "let's pretend your food is an airplane landing in the hanger" game to try to get James to eat his food. She pipes up -
"Hey, it's steak... so you should just play, 'Open the cattle shed to let the cow in!'"

Hulk Smash Baby has learned to take steps on her own now... which means she can stand up and tackle James, knocking him completely to the floor, where they roll around laughing hysterically. 

They all smiled - at. the. same. time. on. the. first. try. I know. Don't fall over. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pretending, Naughtiness, and Lots of Messes

The munchkins have been determined the last two week that I will do nothing but clean.
The first week it was mostly just messes - you know, toys, blankets, books, and stuffed animals everywhere while I tried to coax the baby-with-a-cold to eat and sleep.
Last week (or the week before? has it been three weeks? its all blurred together *eyeroll*) it was 'dirty' stuff - you know, 5.5 cups of milk spilled and/or dumped (and in one case, dribbled quite deliberately all over someone's room "In a weally pwetty wainbow pattern Mommy!"), one cup of milk that had rolled under a van seat, solidified, then dribbled out on the mat, a busted lip that bled all over the couch, my clothes, his clothes, and a hot pack, a baby who took advantage of an older sibling's middle-of-a-diaper-change-meltdown to relieve herself in both ways on the living room floor, etc. You get the point. But, "This too shall  pass," and indeed, it has passed.

In the meantime, the kids said some cute stuff, played together wonderfully for hours on end, prayed for each other, and other various things that kept me sane. So here's a random tidbit from each of them.

Cadence has been playing with craft bells, ringing them in the air, prancing around with them and such. The other day she told me she was a child with poor parents, and they earned their living by giving bells to people with no bells and insisting that they pay for them.

Both our kids can quote Tikki Tikki Tembo now, and one day while we were reading Cadence said, "She should call both her kids "Precious Pearl" so Chang doesn't get jealous. That's not fair that she call's him "Tiresome Child."  That hurts his feelings!"

James' imagination has been on overdrive recently. Mostly this is really funny, although sometimes frustrating - like when I go to get him in the morning, and he starts crying because I forget to call Daddy Gorilla.

The other day he can running into the living room, threw himself on the floor in a huddled ball -
"I'm frightened!"
"I'm scared of the tigers!"
"What tigers?"
 "I'm a tiger!!! ROAR!!!!"
Then he ran over and attacked me. 

ReC meanwhile has devoloped a delight in naughtiness. She'll crawl over to the stereo, yell "No! No!" and giggle hysterically.  Anytime she sees the kids with something she isn't allowed to have, she crawls as fast she can to snatch it away. She loves grabbing people's cups, papers, books, phones, glasses, etc. And if a door opens that she is not usually allowed to go through, she takes off as fast as she can for it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Just a Couple Pictures

This template was provided by The first page I've done in a long time. It was nice to scrapbook, and I can't believe how old Cadence is looking these days!

This was an old desktop freebie from, with a picture of the kids this Easter. They were actually all cooperative for once :) 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rainforest Party

Whew! I learned my lesson from last year, and didn't mention Cadence's birthday party until after Christmas. She remembered before then, of course, but as long as I didn't bring it up, she didn't obssess about it. As soon as I asked her what sort of theme she wanted, she started going over the top crazy about her birthday. She even requested prayer, every night for a month-and-a-half, that her birthday party would go well, none of her friends would get sick from eating too much cake, and that the adults would help everyone arrive on time. {As a side note, James now thinks it's time for his birthday, and has requested prayer every night since HER party, that "Um, mine birthday go well." Who's willing to break it to him that his party isn't for another six months?!}
She decided she wanted a rainforest theme, with Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House books. She *needed* crocodiles, parrots, snakes, and a canoe on the Amazon River. She did research and made me read aloud all about the Amazon Rain Forest, the animals who live there, and the rainforest canopy. I made the mistake of asking her what sort of decorations we should have. Never. Again. 
"Oh, Mommy, I have a great idea! We should..."
And that's all I heard for the next month. 
A tree in the living room!
A river across the coffee table, with a crocodile who eats presents!
A vine going from the tree to the river, with a spider monkey on it!
Bats! But... what if some of my guests are scared of bats? No bats. 
A cake with a water fall and a canoe with Jack and Annie and a parrot and a crocodile!
"Mommy, I had another great idea for my birthday party! We could take streamers and wrap them all around the trampoline and cut out leaves and pain them green and put them all around the trampoline to make it look more like a rainforest. And we should get on the computer and print out all sorts of different Rainforest Animals and tape to the wall, so the guests can learn more about rainforests. And we can copy sections of my books so the other guests can read about the different parts of the rainforest and learn more even after they go home, and we can write down information from our research and hang the information on the walls for people to read and..."
I was so ready for this party to be over. 

My goal when I finally caved in and started decorating, was to let her help as much as possible. So I will note as I show pictures which things she helped with. Everything was her idea, although whether we executed things to her specifications is quite another story. 

Invitations with a monkey on a yarn vine. She tore the blue paper for water, and cut the yarn to size, as well as some gluing. The back says, "Swing on by for a party..."

The beginnings of the waterfall cake. The top layer caved in (what is with that?) but it made the perfect spot for the canoe. 

The banner - she cut the leaves from construction paper, colored the letters, and helped staple them to the ribbon. 

The animal wall - she chose all the pictures ("Look at that adorable crocodile coming out of the water Mommy, she is so CA-UTE!") and taped them to the wall. 

The gift table (a.k.a. Amazon River) with a vine leading to a tree. I saw the idea for the backdrop here, and was too tired to make it look tidy :P 
I saw the basic vine idea here. Some notes - I used grocery bags opened up, taped end to end, then rolled. Free! The kids painted it, as well as some flat opened bags. The flat bags I cut into leaf shapes. The tree is just rolled up grocery bags.

The leaves they painted, and the fruit Cadence drew, colored, and cut. What, you've never seen a tree with a strawberry, two coconuts, and an apple before?!

He eats presents!

She was quite pleased with her crocodile coming up out of the water. I let her help cut sponges into shape, then hot glued them to a piece of cardboard. The head was an outline printed on green paper - she colored his eyes, and added some extra large teeth to make it stand up better. I cut slits in the table cloth to let the ridges of his back poke through, and taped his head to the top of the cloth. 

This was supposed to be a joke - Tony asked her if she wanted a hippo eating a fish being eaten by a crocodile being carried off by bats for decorations, and of course she said yes. Then insisted he draw and color it by hand. Didn't he do great?!

The cake table. She cut the spiral snakes to dangle, and chose monkey cups for party favors. I let her pick all the paper goods from the dollar store, and she wrote multiple to-do lists and shopping lists throughout the process. Some with dots at the corners of each letter, "Just so it's fancier and makes you happy while you work Mommy." Uh. Thanks. 

The finished cake. It was actually one of the easiest I've done. It is just a rectangle cake and a single layer of a round cake, iced with green then blue icing added on (all just spread with a knife) for the river. The canoe and trees are made of chocolate. The canoe I found a tutorial for here, and the trees I saw the idea here. Be careful when using food coloring in white chocolate - it turns it a very odd texture, more like play dough really.  She found the animals and little guy (Jack) at Hobby Lobby, and wanted to use the little girl from her doll house for Annie. Works for me!

The "I'm tired, it's midnight, I want to go to bed" trampoline. I did like the sign we put up...

I think she liked it ;)

She also wrote the names of each kid on the label for their party bag, and the party favors were the cups, stickers, and pictures she drew for each cousin.