Wednesday, December 17, 2014

School Basketball

Andrews first ever school team was this year playing basketball.  This was only his second season playing basketball and the first he was old enough to play for his school.  This team is 1-3 graders and Tim helped another dad coach the team.  We lost all but one or two games, but the kids learned a lot and had fun.  It was nice to get to know some of the parents of kids we see on a regular basis as well. 

It was obvious that the first graders don't quite have the coordination and skill of the older players yet but I can't wait to see what this group of kids is doing when they are in 10-12 grades.  Could be that one of the schools star players on high school girls or boys team was struggling to catch a ball on our team this year.  :-)

Way to go Wildcats!  Great sportsmanship, great teamwork, and great fun!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Foster Family Christmas Party


 Last weekend our foster agency had a Christmas party for all their foster families.  We put on our Sunday best and headed to the event with no preconceived ideas of what to expect.  We walked into the room full of decorated tables, and found ourselves a place to sit.  Looking around, we knew no one but the agency employees who were mingling around the room.  There was a magician doing magic tricks and making balloon animals, a face painter painting elaborate scenes on children's faces, a DJ playing Christmas songs, a photo booth, and a couple other "self serve" activities.  We had a very nice buffet style meal and dessert and then enjoyed visiting all the activities. 
     The DJ started playing some dance music and a group of kids, teenagers, and adults were dancing.  A large group of boys (including Andrew) gathered around the man making balloon animals and were learning how to blow up balloons with his machine and make all the fun things.  Families were visiting the photo booth together.   Santa came in and was immediately run over by the little ones all looking to give him hugs.
     As I looked around this sea of people I had never met before I was overcome with emotion.  Some of these kids have been sexually abused, some of them have been bruised by those who were supposed to take care of them, some have been neglected and gone days without food and basic necessities, some are separated from siblings they love.  Some of the children there are adopted/biological kids sharing their home, possessions, and parents with foster siblings.  They have no idea how long they will be "siblings" or when the next call will come and their home will grow (or shrink) again.  The great thing about this party was, it didn't matter who was who.  I didn't know which kids were in foster care, which ones were with their biological parents, which ones were adopted.  I didn't know who had been in foster care for years and who was placed last week.  I didn't know . . . and neither did anyone else (outside the employees of course) and it didn't matter.  Everyone was dressed in their best, smiling and enjoying being together with their "family" . . . foster or otherwise.  All thoughts of the life and pain outside of that room were left behind and they were just having a great time at a party.
     I wish that type of freedom for each of those kids.  There is so much in life that will be hard . . . . knowing whether you will eat, be taken care of, be safe . . . that shouldn't be a worry for a child.  I wish each Christmas could be filled with balloon animals, dancing, and family photos. 
     To my foster agency I would like to say Thank You . . . Thank you for giving these kids such a wonderful night.  Thank you for giving me new perspective, new things to pray for, and a wonderful evening with my family (foster and otherwise).  Thank you for caring enough about these kids to do what you do every day of the year.
     I am so glad God called us to this.  It is certainly not by our own desires or our own strength that we make it through this roller coaster ride.  God called us to it and gives us the grace each day to make it . . . no matter what the day brings.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wrapping Up November

Andrew's class at school did a project where they had to design a turkey in disguise . . . he is trying to stay OFF the Thanksgiving table.  This was Andrew's creation.  Military disguised turkey . . . . named Tim Turkey after his uncle who leaves this month for boot camp.  Praying for you Uncle Tim!!
Thanksgiving was at our house this year.  I was so excited to host Tim's family for Thanksgiving and although his dad was sick and unable to come we had a great time.  The turkey turned out perfect, the food was all ready on time, John and Frieda had made delicious desserts . . . . it was really nice.  Surprisingly it was relaxing too.  Plus, it's always great when the little kids nap in their own beds and sleep on their regular schedules!  Frieda made some adorable little turkeys out of candy that the kids devoured!!  :-)

The following weekend some of my nieces and nephews were in town so we took advantage of grandma and grandpas hot tub and Marisa's access to free movies. 

 Then they had the annual light up parade to welcome in Christmas in our town.  The night was perfectly chilly but not cold and not a drop of rain so we had a great time as a family.  No photos of the two little ones but I promise, they were there.

"Mom, this is the best night ever.  They gave me a Polar Express ticket with hot chocolate attached!  My very own hot chocolate so now I can make my own!!!"  If I had known this would be such a big deal imagine the mind blowing I could have done if I showed him the entire box of hot chocolate in the pantry . . . :-) 

Add to all this Chunky Monkey's first dentist appointment AND our first ever trip to the ER with a child.  Chunky Monkey came to me in a panic saying he had swallowed "it down"  "get it mommy" "get it out my mouth"  unfortunately I saw nothing.  At the advice of the doctor, off to the ER we went.  XRays were all clean and it was determined that it was likely a lego or other small toy that would pass.  Praise God for nothing more serious.  He has been a real trooper . . . was perfectly cooperative at both the dentist and the ER.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad

This past summer was my dads 60 birthday.  Since for mom's 60 we had taken her on a big date I decided to take dad on a date for his birthday too.  I have always loved being alone with my dad.  One on one conversation wasn't common in a house with 6 people (or more) living in it and I craved that one on one time, especially with my dad.  Because of household responsibilities, mom didn't travel much with dad when we were growing up and occasionally (especially as I got older) there was a trip I got to go on with him in her place.  I LOVED those times we had without the distractions of everyone else.  (call me selfish . . . )

One of the things I always loved doing with my dad as a kid was going to the WVU football games.  We didn't go to a ton of them (and never alone) but once a year or so we would go to a game with the church and I loved it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for us to have some "alone" time and to enjoy going to a game for old times sake.  Tim had been out of town for a week and I literally passed him on the interstate on our way . .. the only bummer to the day .  .  . I did kinda miss that guy.  He says he honked but I didn't hear it. . . . :-) 

Dad and I had THE BEST TIME.  Its been years and years since we have done anything together . . . maybe even since I have been married, so it was really fun.  WVU didn't win, and the weather was a little rainy for my liking . . . but we still had a great time and memories I will always have.  Who knows, maybe we will make this a yearly tradition.  (maybe minus the entertainment of the drunks in front of us)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monkey and Frozen Birthdays

Our kiddos have birthdays back to back to back of each other.  If these kids stay here then one of these years I'm going to throw a HUGE fall birthday bash and kill all three birds with one big stone!!  :-)  This was not that year.  Chunky Monkey celebrated the big 2 with a fun filled evening.  We had grandparents, cousins, aunts all there to celebrate his big day and then we took the kids all out trick or treating.  (wasn't that great that they planned trick or treat on his party day?)  :-)  Anyway, he LOVED the attention and giggled every time we sang to him.  In the spirit of his nickname, the party was all monkeys.  :-)  Chunky Monkey also started his big boy Sunday School class with Mrs. Lena this month.  What a sweet, wonderful lady who has now had all our kids in class. 

Then less than a month later Little Lady had her birthday (4).  In spite of inviting 4 different families, couples over for her party it just wasn't a good weekend so we celebrated as a family this year.  It wasn't what I wanted or had hoped for, but as it turns out, we did get to do some fun things together that she had never experienced before so it was a really special day.  Frozen party plates and napkins, new frozen bedroom, frozen DVD, (see the theme?) a train ride, frozen yogurt place where she had her very own yogurt for the first time, then we came home and "built a snowman" in the big tub with bathing suits and enough bubbles to overflow the thing!
Also, notice the beautiful, homemade quilt on her bed from her Great Grandma . . . she loves it and it's so warm and beautiful.  She made one for each of our kiddos.

 Grandma and Grandpa C. were out of town for the "frozen" party so they threw their own the next week.  Here she is all decked out in her new rain gear!

Happy Birthday kiddos.  I don't know what God has in store for your next year, but we sure have enjoyed being a part of this entire last one!!! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

October Fun

October was a fun month filled with . . .
Babysitting this guy (Gabriel) every morning before school.   While it's rough having four kids to get out the door each morning, it has done wonders for our morning routine.  We are up and moving an hour before we have to leave.  This has been a great challenge for me, and has added a little extra $$ to my "home improvement" budget.

Our foster agency had a really fun party (which Andrew refused to wear his costume for) where the kids got to do lots of crafts and Halloween games.  Then Andrew went to his first ever costume party/birthday party.  I will admit that I enjoyed this as much as he did.  A real hayride through the country, "spooky" foods, pumpkin decorating, and some time for the two of us together without everyone else.  Memories for both of us for sure.  Andrew was a chef for this event (thanks G+G Seigneur)

The Chef costume gets a lot of use around here .  . . . Here Chunky Monkey is a doctor in it.  :-)
Belated Birthday gifts from cousins make a surprise appearance, and a very happy boy.  Fun Halloween snacks, Lowes Haunted House Build, Fall Colors Parties at school

Trunk or Treat at a local church (they painted Andrew's hair silver) (super hero girl, dragon, chef were the costumes of choice at this event)

Pirate Day at school. 
"Mom, when I grow up I want to be a hair sylist . . . do you think I look good like this?" 
Oh dear oh dear!!!  LOL

First Aid Day at AWANA 
Trick or Treat we did twice . . . once with the little kids, Tim, Stephanie, Daniel and Cherith at a neighboring town (Andrew was a police officer that night).   This town goes ALL OUT for Halloween.  This first guy was a vampire on the roof yelling down at the kids . . . almost every house was like entering a haunted house to get to their candy . . . quite the night.  Good thing we only did one street of it . . . not sure the kids could handle much more after dark.  Our little kids were at their moms and Tim was in DC for Halloween night in our town so Andrew and I went solo (he was a doctor in his white coat for this one).  Thanks mom for manning the candy bowl at our house so I could go out with Andrew.