Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cousins @ Columbus Zoo

Made another spontaneous trip last month.  I know, call me wild this summer!!  :-)  LOL I know saying I'm being so spontaneous must annoy many of you . . . but if you knew my husband and I very well you would know that we OVER plan EVERYTHING.  We have plans, back up plans, hotel arrangements, activity arrangements, and maps planned out weeks and months before any trip.  This plan to go to Columbus Zoo was made the night before!  :-)  My parents, Marisa and Shannon's family had had this zoo trip planned for a week or two but at the last minute with perfect weather, a free day, and school looming on the horizon Stephanie and I decided to surprise our kids with a trip there too.

We made it a true day trip (leave in the morning, come home at night) which proved to be very hard on Chunky Monkey (he cried over an hour of the trip home) and it was just Joanna and the kids.  Tim couldn't take off work at that late notice.  Overall it was a really fun day and although the zoo was painfully crowded (and keeping tabs on my kids didn't lend itself to many pictures) it was a fun day.  Thanks to the rest of my family for keeping up with Andrew . . . felt like I didn't see him much of the day because the double stroller couldn't keep up with the boys the way some of the other adults could.

Thanks to Shannon for this picture .  .  . I completely missed Andrew doing this.  :-(

I just love this picture of my niece Cherith. . . . too cute.

The icing on the cake was that I got to see my BFF for a little bit.  Living several hours apart doesn't lend itself to that much anymore.  :-(  BUT, I'll take the time I can get and catching up for the little bit she was there was just what I needed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Impatiently Waiting

Two weeks ago, Little Lady and Chunky Monkey's case went to court.  The judge was supposed to make a ruling on whether the kids would return to their biological mom or if her rights would be terminated-leaving the kids free for adoption.  I was so nervous all day.  Trying not to dwell on the possibilities in either direction, but trying to keep busy with anything but thoughts of the future.  This could be the turning point in our family.  The first step toward being a family of 5 and filling this house permanently.  This also could be the beginning of goodbyes . . . after over 18 months in our home these goodbyes would be painful for everyone involved!!  Andrew asked me all day, every time he heard a text or phone call if that was a message from the judge.  It's one thing to go through this kind of stress as adults, but seeing him go through it was so much more heartbreaking for us.  After an hour in the courtroom, we finally heard from the social worker.  The judge was unable to make a decision and would review all the facts and submit his official ruling, in writing, at a later date.  Sometime "soon" we should know.

She speculated on the verdict she predicted, her coworkers speculated on the verdict they predicted, we speculated on the verdict we predicted and we all questioned how this could happen.  I had prayed for peace, and was ready to be overjoyed or sad but to be met with MORE WAITING. . . I truthfully didn't know how to react.  Rather than just trusting that God was still working, I got extremely discouraged.  I was angry, frustrated, short with the kids and just generally had a bad attitude all day.  I DESERVED an answer.  I was READY for an answer (even of bad news).  HOW could this happen.  WHY would this happen.  I was questioning God and just downright angry.  When Tim got home I lashed out my pent up anger and in my frustration said, "I am just so tired of raising other peoples children for them! Tired of doing all the hard work of infancy and toddlerhood so they can reap the benefits of having them the rest of their lives"  At that point my loving husband stopped me.  Praise God for the wisdom of my loving husband.  I was fully prepared to vent the other thoughts in my head at that moment . . . NONE of which were God honoring and NONE of which were true of my actual thoughts.  They were all pent up emotion I had allowed to creep into my heart all day manifesting itself in words and thoughts I am embarrassed to even admit I had. 

That evening we took the kids roller skating and although they didn't really enjoy it, my gracious husband allowed me to skate while he sat with the overtired, fussy kids.  Somewhere going around and around in that circle as fast as I could skate it all broke down inside of me.  The anger and frustration broke into shame and true repentance.  How quickly I had gone from trusting God and at peace with whatever decision comes, to anger at him and doubt that He was truly in control.  After all the things He has brought me through and all the times he has been faithful what made me think that one judge here on this earth could do anything outside God's perfect will?

"Do not become weary in well doing because in due season you will reap what you so if you faint not"  Galations 6:9  A good friend gave me that verse in a frame and I keep it in my kitchen where I can be reminded of it daily.  You see the reality of my situation last week was this. . .
-God has called me to this ministry and until HE shows me it's time to stop then foster care is where I need to be, frustrations and all.  If I am truly "tired" of the ministry God has called me to then it is MY heart and MY attitude that need changing.  NOT His will for me that needs changed.
-I absolutely love these children.  I am NOT tired of raising them and would give anything to do it the rest of my life.  If only for a few weeks . . . I'll take it . . . but any time I can have them I'll gladly keep them.  It's hard, they are tough kids sometimes, but I do love them and certainly don't tire of that.
-I DO believe God is in control.  Andrew knew the court case was coming up and he wanted to know how the judge would decide.  We told him that God would help the judge know what decision to make and then the judge would tell us what decision God led him to.  This seems like an oversimplified answer (said so a 6 year old could understand it) but you know, Andrew accepted that.  He is fully trusting that God will tell that judge what to say and that when it's time, we will know.  No wonder we need the faith like a child to understand God sometimes. 

God is saying to me . . . just trust me.  I am saying but . .  . but what if .  .  . but how could . . . but don't you know . . . God says, "Trust me.  Lay this burden on me and leave it . . . it's too heavy for you."  Each day I have to make a choice to cast my burdens on him, to keep my mind on the truth, and to keep going on.  To go on with every day what I am asked to do that day.  To train up a child (mine or otherwise) in the ways they should go.  In God's time, we will know the verdict, and I am learning (minute by minute) to trust that.  Learning to mind my own business I suppose (how often do I tell the kids that?).   The business of being busy doing what God has called me to today and letting tomorrow come with what God brings of it.  I trust fully that HE will not only bring tomorrow . . . but will give me everything I need to get through it. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mid Summer Fun

Imagination Movers Live!  We had the great opportunity to go see the Imagination Movers (from Disney Channel) live in our area at a free outdoor concert.  Except for the fact it was pouring the rain down we had a really great time under the big top tent at the concert.  When Andrew was 3 this was his favorite show and although he has grown out of it a bit now it was still a fun concert and the little two especially enjoyed it.

As you can see, although Andrew is pouting here (he wanted to go see his friend whom he had spotted a few rows over)-Chunky Monkey is dancing up a storm!  
The biggest news of July, by far, is that Andrew is finally riding his two wheel bike on his own.  This is a huge accomplishment since we have worked months overcoming this child's fear.  He has the skills, his mind just plays tricks on him.  Now he is riding up a storm and from the looks of these photos he is ready for a bigger bike!  AHHH

This is Logan.  Logan is at my house probably 3-4 afternoons a week.  Logan is so good for Andrew.  We really did get our prayers answered when we prayed we would move into a house with a child nearby to play with Andrew.  Logan lives next door and hopefully for years to come these two will remain great friends.

 Tried my hand at another homemade wreath . . . not too shabby although it needs something in the middle . . . any ideas?

Finished up the summer reading programs at the two libraries we participated in this year.  Andrew read 60 books this summer and at least half of them he read completely on his own!  He had a great summer and I, unfortunately, think this is the last one where I will help him read any of his summer books.  Sadness!!  This has been one of my most fond summer memories with him the last 6 years.  snif snif . . . He learned how to turn diet coke 2 liters into rockets, tie dye a shirt, magic tricks, how to make slime, made a robot out of magnets and trash and did so many other cool things at these programs this year.  Little Lady finished out the summer program with 30 books read but her visits with her mom correspond with the program times so no summer programs for her . . . :-(  I will admit I am very guilty about not reading enough with her like I used to do with Andrew.  We use naptime and her early bedtime to get our reading in . . . . must do better with this once Andrew is back in school.

Overall, July has been a fun, full month!!  Now time to get back to school started . .. sigh.  :-(

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saga of the Red Pants

Andrew has been asking for a pair of colored, skinny dress pants for almost 8 months.  In February one of the boys in his class had a red pair for Valentines day and he fell in love with them.  I, am not a fan of colored pants on anyone but especially boys . . . no good reason, I'm just not.  I was counting on him giving up caring about colored pants by the time school started but no such luck.  In fact, he had a very specific request.  Mom, for school I want red, skinny pants for my first day of school.  We really don't need much for school thanks to several families at our church giving us hand me downs so I figured this really wasn't a huge request and something we could certainly financially do.
A couple weeks ago, while the little kids were at a visit with their mom we went on a big shopping trip in search of the perfect colored, skinny pant.  (how he even knew the term "skinny" as a style of pant is beyond me)  Started our trip at JCPenney since I had a coupon and he FELL IN LOVE with a red pair of skinny jeans.  They really were cute on him.  BUT, they were $36!  In spite of the fact that I was only getting him this one item that is still WAY MORE than I am paying for one pair of pants.  I told him we would check at some other stores and come back if we found nothing.
We go to Old Navy and they, indeed, have red, skinny jeans that in my opinion were IDENTICAL to the ones at JCPenney.  They are $25.  This is still a little more than I intended to spend on this fashion project so I am truly on the fence.  I am willing to buy, but not excited about, these cheaper red pants.  Suddenly, Andrew looks at me very upset.  This is our conversation.
"Mom, I sometimes see things in my head and they won't go away.  They just get stuck there and I can't stop focusing on them."  (he is visibly upset at this, even hitting his head with his fist upset at these visions . . . insert worried mom face, this seems rather random and I am a little concerned how often these things happen).
"What kind of things do you see?" I ask.
"Right now I see a boy.  He is sitting in his classroom and isn't listening to his teacher.  He is getting in lots of trouble and can't concentrate on his schoolwork because he is wearing these stupid red pants from Old Navy."  "I see another boy though, and he is sitting with his hands folded in his lap and is getting all the answers right.  He is getting good grades and has no tallies on the tally chart.  He is doing all the right things because he is wearing the good pants from JCPenney."  "Mom, I CAN'T get these pants at Old Navy because I don't want to turn into that first boy!"
I laughed, out loud . . . bad mom.  :-)  Seriously, what in the world was I supposed to say to all that?  The child was dead serious and didn't miss a breath or a beat in the entire thing.  HE IS 6 YEARS OLD!!!!!  :-)  Wow, we are in trouble.
Oh, and for the curious. . . . he didn't get the red pants, from either store.  At least not from me . . .

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Swim Team

A friend told us her girls learned to swim best on a swim team rather than taking lessons over and over so we decided, on her recommendation, to try summer swim team here in Williamstown.  This was a huge commitment since it meant three nights a week of swim practice as well as one night a week of meets for the summer.  When they told us they would open the baby pool during practices and home meets for the little ones to swim too we were sold.  I am SO VERY glad we did this.  Andrew thrived on the swim team and in spite of a lot of waiting around between events he had no complaints and loved every part of it.  Swimming is such a rewarding sport for him too since after most every event he got a ribbon for placing in the top six.  I think this helped his motivation a little.  :-)  He was a great sport though and win or lose he was always gracious to his team mates and those he competed against.  (His favorite meet was the one he earned the ribbons above . . . red, white and blue all in one meet).  While the time commitment got very long, especially having two little ones at 2-3 hour long meets, this was a great experience for us and him.  He swam in the 25 meter backstroke (his best), the 25 meter freestyle, and the 100 meter relay all in the six and under division.  One meet he even held his own in a 8 and under race to fill in for an absent team mate. 

His little, very patient, cheerleaders in their chariot!  Chunky Monkey enjoying the baby pool.

Andrew at this meet even got to swim with his friend from church (who swims for another team) . .. this was her last meet before her broken arm forced her to give up swim team for this year.

(he's in the lane closest to the camera in all these pictures)

His team (he's in the front not paying any attention . . . sigh)

I know this is blurry but I had to capture him here and I didn't get a good shot while holding Chunky Monkey.  He just won the backstroke at the league championship meet.  He, and we, were in complete shock.  His form, his speed and his stamina all clicked at that last meet to have his best time by 4 seconds--beating the boys that had been in front of him all season long.  :-)  His happiness here, even through the fuzz, is so genuine.  I love seeing him accomplish something he worked really hard for.  A few days later we found out that at that meet he actually tied his team mate for the high point boy in the six and under division which is the highest award he could have earned this summer!  SO PROUD of him!

Hopefully you can see this video of his backstroke.  Not the best he ever did but this was a pretty good meet.  He is in the yellow cap right next to the camera.