Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We're Done! almost..

Posted by Mandy at 10:24 AM 5 comments Links to this post
Finally.. our last parenting class last night. Whew! We made it through! One major step completed on our mission to become foster parents. And now, for the rest of the story.

I feel overwhelmed with what I have left to do. Every person in our house has to have a physical (that will take an entire day.), Clayton and I have to redo our TB tests due to new state standards, Clayton has to make up the CPR/First Aid training course that he missed, we have to finish getting everything in the house ready for our Home Study on July 26... and it feels like a million other things! So much done.. so much left to do.

Our last class was the best, by far! We had a panel of people, from DHS workers to adoptive parents to foster parents - and we got to ask them anything we wanted. They shared a lot with us about their experiences, and I left feeling a lot better about everything. They didn't sugar-coat it, but for me, just seeing other real-life people doing this makes it seem more do-able for us.

So, we're getting there. I'm not sure how much longer we'll be waiting for all of this stuff to get done so that our home can be open, but we're definitely closer to that day than we were 3 months ago. I feel patient some days... like the more time that we wait the more time we'll have to get ready. Other days it feels so anticlimactic to have done all of this and still be waiting. God's timing...

On another note - we started our morning at the ER today because my three year old swallowed a large rock from his big sister's rock collection. He barely got it down, was in a lot of pain, and scared the crap out of me. Second ER trip ever with a child... second time it was HIM that had to go. The X-Ray showed it in his stomach so now we just wait and see. Praying he can pass it! I do not want my baby cut into...

He decided to top the morning fun off by somehow getting into a major pile of ants once we got home and went outside to play. Him screaming and me beating his feet with the shirt I just took off of him probably was more than enough of a scene to get DHS called on us... that would be a red-flag for sure. "ER in the morning.. beating him in the street later.. nix these folks." Thankfully Mr. Curly Head is all good at the moment. I told him that he was FOR SURE taking a nap today because I couldn't handle worrying about him anymore for the day. Good grief.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Going Rogue - Parenting Edition

Posted by Mandy at 6:48 AM 6 comments Links to this post
Sarah Palin did it politically... I'm doing it as a necessity to survive my current 3 year old.

My little Samuel is a force to be reckoned with. I don't know if I've gotten more exhausted lax with him, if I made a wrong turn somewhere at 2, if this is just his personality, or if this is God's twisted way of preparing me for dealing with foster kids. Whatever it is, I am determined to win this battle! It seems my usual parenting techniques may not be enough to Shock and Awe these behaviors out of the little man.

The main issue lately is screaming... for extended periods of time. Lots and lots of screaming. The secondary issue is his draw to torturing the people that share this house with him. Mainly the other two little people. He may choose to simply annoy the crap out of them by "almost" hitting them over and over again, or sometimes he's been known to walk up and give one of them a good wack in the knee cap for no apparent reason. (Thanks for the lessons in humanity Tanya Harding.)

So, I decided to tackle these issues once and for all. Not accepting "he's three" as an appropriate cause of his meanie-head-ness, I dug into my parenting tool-box and pulld out some new ideas. I have no idea if they'll really work, but it beats turning his little booty black and blue.

For solution number one I'd like to thank Kevin Leman. I went through his video series "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours" MANY years ago, and remembered a seemingly INSANE piece of advice he gave. It was specific to your kids interrupting or crying and whining while you're on the phone. Dear God.. yes.. please help me. Never had one that insisted on making my phone conversations so miserable. It goes like this at our house lately:
 *phone rings* "Hello?" "Oh hey! How are you? Sure.. let me see if I have any boarding slots available for those dates.."

"Mommmmeee... mommmeeee.... I want a candy. Mommeeee.. can I have candy?"

*me giving him "the look" and shooing him away.*

"MOMMMEEE!!! I want some candy!!!"

*Let fit throwing begin

This started about a year ago. I know it's all my fault. A client would call, and the worst part of working from home would begin. A whining child in the background. Utter humiliation begins.. now. I discovered that if I gave Sam SOMETHING he'd be quiet long enough for me to complete a 4 minute conversation without having to apologize over and over again for my child's misbehavior. So, enter the Dum Dum sucker. We happened to have a pack when this started... so I taught him if you cry when the phone rings, I give you candy. THAT. WAS. STUPID.

Now I'm trying hard to un-do what I did to myself. Enter Dr. Leman's insane advice.

"If your child insists on interrupting and whining every time you are on the phone, and you know you're not on the phone too much, put them out the front door." SAY WHAT?! I'd never do something like that.. that's nutty!

Yeah well, funny how time changes you. I sooo did that the other day. Thankfully I was on the phone with a friend when he started in on a MAJOR whiney/tantrum tangent. I told her to please not judge me.. seriously... as I dealt with him. I told him in my Mrs. Brady voice, "Samuel, I'm on the phone and you need to be quiet. If you cannot be quiet, I will put you outside and lock the door so that I can hear." He raised an eyebrow to his mother's new found looney-toon state of mind and of course, had to try this one out. He nearly instantly screamed, "BUT I-WANT-CANDY!!!"

I felt like a total idiot, but I grabbed him up and walked him to the door, opened it, walked him out, shut the door, and locked it. Yes, I locked my 3 year old out on the front porch. I had to shake my head at myself.. "This is freaking crazy! What am I doing?! Kevin Leman is a lunatic!"

I purposely finished my conversation quickly so I could bring him back in to finish this amazing lesson in life. I opened the door and there he stood, tears streaming down his face.. still all red from anger. I grabbed his hand and walked him back inside and explained the entire scenario to him again. Basically "You scream, I'm on the phone, you go outside. End of story." He said several times, "You put me outside!" Umm.. yes.. I sure did. Now stop being a whiney butt all the time. (and no, I didn't tell him he was a whiney butt to his face.. I am absolutely a two-faced kind of mom.)

The next time he started in while I was on the phone, I gave him the warning (Supernanny would be so proud!) that he was about to get booted out the door again, and he quickly sucked that bottom lip in and got quiet.

"Holy crap.. that crazy stunt worked?!" Yep.. it did work. I've only had to put him outside once more since then.. he decided to test me on it I suppose. I even used this method the other day with my 6 year old just b/c he was being generally psychotic in the house. "I'm putting you outside if you keep doing that.. we don't act like that in the house." He thought I was a lunatic as well once it was over with.. but it worked.

I really thought that being put outside would be a REWARD to my kids. They love going outside! But, I guess being shoved out there against your will is a different experience than they long for.

As far as how I'll get him to stop inflicting general torture on everyone in the house... well.. that's a tough one. He mainly does this when he's angry, sleepy, or bored. He can be mad at me and take it out on Carter... this happens often. Mommy won't let me climb up the curtains so I'm going to stab you in the foot with my play kitchen fork.

I'm trying to keep my cool and my Martha Stewart tone when dealing with him,
 "Samuel, I know you're angry. I can tell because you keep trying to tear my eyes out of their sockets and claw your way to my femur bone... but that is unacceptable behavior. You're going to have to go back to time out.. again."

This doesn't seem to phase him much. I even turned a blind eye to my attachment parenting beliefs and gave him a smack on the rear the other day... my point was "See! That HURTS! Stop hitting everyone!" Okay.. so I lost it a bit but really hoped he'd see what he was doing. Nope... I knew that wouldn't work. Back to time outs.

I do remember my other two going through some seriously long phases like these, and I don't know if anything I did actually extinguished the behaviors, or if they outgrew them, or a combination of the two. It does give me hope, however, to know that they're no longer walking around big fat whiney heads, crying over everything and smacking me in defiance. There is a light at the end of the tunnel..

On a side note, Samuel is also one of the sweetest darn kids ever. He is MOSTLY a very loving little guy.. which is why his Jeckle and Hyde mood swings take me so off guard. I assumed you'd find more use and humor in my battles with Mr. Strong-Willed than my talking about what a perfect child I have. So, there you go.. for your entertainment.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Creativity Was Forced Upon Me

Posted by Mandy at 2:53 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of spending the entire day and evening with my hubby and our second family at the annual State Police Post Party. (or "gathering" I suppose you could call it.) A day on the lake, eating amazing food, laughing until you cry, and hearing the craziest work stories that anyone could ever tell. FYI: if you stuff yourself with the best ribs ever, and then immediately jump on a boat and go 60ish mph.. you will feel icky. Good news is - you'll get over it.
my gal pals: Amy, Summer (30wks pg with TWIN boys!) and me

So, anywho.. it was a blast! Can't wait until next summer to do it all again!

Today we returned to the real world. We went to bed too late last night, didn't sleep well, and then got up too early this morning. I knew it would happen that way - such is life. What I didn't anticipate was the electricty going out at our house for about 3 hours this afternoon. "I'm so too tired to be this much fun.."

After my initial "Oh crap" reaction, I just pulled myself together and took the kids into the boys' room to find cool stuff to do. Lincoln Logs were at the top of the list. Their pleas for me to build them an amazing fort "like Daddy does" pushed me into a corner. I gave it my best shot.. but I'm really sucky at Lincoln Logs. I guess it's the lack of a 'y' chromosome or something. Thankfully they gave me an 'A' for effort.

I was really stoked when my boys were content to lay in the bottom bunk with me reading books for a good, long while. Ahh.. rest! Then it was on to bigger and better things like building forts with blankets, making food with Play-Doh (chill out, we didn't really eat it.), and pretending we were at P.E. class.

"20 jumping jacks!"
"10 push ups!"
"15 bunny hops!"

Oh yes.. I was a big hit!

These aren't unusual events for this house, but typically we don't spend almost 3 hours straight, with no breaks, living it up. 2 hours in and I admit I was praying to God to somehow let Max and Ruby magically appear on the TV. They were getting restless, I was too exhausted to be fun for much longer, and my 3 year old was not happy with the thunder, lightening, and darkness. He also missed his much-needed nap thanks to all of the excitement so he was beginning his favorite activity of "torture everyone in the house."

Now, the lights are back on, the A/C is kicking, and I have my babysitter of the movie "Bolt." This evening I shall go back to try to tackle the seemingly impossible Lincoln Logs. Hopefully their father will bring his man skills to the table and show me what I'm doing wrong on the construction front. I can't make that roof fit to save my life...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One Closet Down - Two to Go

Posted by Mandy at 11:33 AM 1 comments Links to this post

My hubby has been earning major brownie points today. He has nearly completed the "extra closet" transformation. He decided on a double-rod system, which I am a big fan of. He built a small shelf area on the right hand side and we'll probably get a small dresser to stick in there for socks and underwear and such. I was so excited to start hanging some of Emily's clothes in there. (I got some to keep here for her, much easier than packing and unpacking each time!)

Madison was so impressed with her daddy's handy work that she asked him to redo HER closet as well. Being that she is tightly wound around his little finger - he immediately agreed. He's off to town now with our middle boy to buy more supplies. Not wanting the boys to feel left out.. he's decided, on his own, to also redo their closet. Oh boy... this will be a day!

Our closet doors are ordered, they should be in around Thursday. I cannot wait! Is it a bad sign when new closet doors make you seriously giddy? They should look something like this:

Bi-fold picture frame doors

Things are coming together nicely! I am so ready for it to all be finished! I do not enjoy living in renovation limbo.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Job Isn't Harder Than Mine

Posted by Mandy at 7:16 AM 5 comments Links to this post

If there is something I hear more moms say.. it's the title of this post. Moms from all walks of life. Moms that work full-time away from home, moms that work at home, and moms that work at home for no pay.

I have to admit, I don't get it. Why do we as moms NEED someone to acknowledge how hard we work? I don't mean our husbands.. because they had better spend hours each day talking about what Superwomen we are... but the rest of the world? Who cares?

Some of the hottest episodes on talk shows over the years have probably been the ones that pitted stay-at-home moms against working moms. CAT FIGHT!

"If you loved your kids you'd be at home! I'd NEVER leave my children!"
"If you loved your husband you'd take the pressure off of him by helping make a living!"
"My kids will grow up much better individuals because I spent every second of life with them!"
"My kids will have more respect for women because they see that women can do anything they want!"

Sound familiar? Does it really? If it does, you need a new group of lady friends.

Where's the love, ladies? Gee whiz! Can't we all join hands across America here and realize that at the end of the day we all want the same things? A safe home, happy and healthy children that know they are loved "THIS MUCH!", and a super hot husband that hands us a glass of wine as he draws us a bubble bath. Wait.. what was I saying? Oh, yeah. We're all pretty much the same.

When I've actually allowed myself to enter the drama of these TV shows, when the high heels start being taken off as weapons, I can't help but wonder if there are really women in the world that feel this strongly about what OTHER people do? I like staying home.. I like working.. so I work at home. I would say the majority of my friends work away from home at full-time jobs. I only have a hand-full of friends that stay at home full time. Guess what, we all get together for girls' night out and talk about the same topics.

1. I'm tired
2. Men
3. Kids
4. I need to lose weight
5. Sex
6. Work (whatever that might mean to each of us)
*not necessarly in that order

We've never had a throw down over a chocolate cake about who is more qualified to remain on planet earth based on our daily activities. Not even in our minds. My friends that work out of the home full time have NEVER put me down about "getting" to work at home. I've never implied that they are lucky for being away all day. None of us think that our stay at home mom friends are "lazy" or "not contributing." Where is the real drama in the world? Is it real or is it made up for ratings?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

DHS Stuff Update

Posted by Mandy at 1:33 PM 0 comments Links to this post
For some reason my creativity as taken a nose-dive this afternoon, so I thought I'd bore you all with an update. That's easy enough.

We completed class 8 of 9 this past Tuesday. Yes.. you read that correctly. ONE MORE! My goodness, when we started these classes I thought it would take forever to get through 9 of them, but here we are. It honestly flew by so quickly! I keep asking, "Wow, how did we get here so fast?!" Our last class seems like it will probably be the best. We'll bring snacks, eat cake, and get to ask questions to a panel of foster and adoptive parents, plus some higher ups in DHS. This is what I've been wanting the entire time! I, personally, learn much more from people that can give me real-life examples of what they've gone through, than anything out of a book.

Our last big "to-do" will be completed July 26 (my sister's birthday!) when the ladies come here to do our Home Study. They'll look at our home, make sure it's up to DHS's standards, talk to our kids, yada yada yada. That seems both far off and close by, weird how that works. I'm just ready to be done with this stuff and move on, but the other part of me knows that once we're done with this stuff, we'll be moving on! Exciting and totally frightening!!

Clayton went and fiddled around in the extra closet in Madison's room last night, drew up something, and said he knew what he was going to do now. Fine with me.. just do it so I can hang Emily's clothes up and get them off of her bed. I hate seeing stuff on her bed like that... I'm a "put it away" type of person.

I've spent a lot of time talking to the big kids about what it means for us to become a foster family and answering any questions they come up with. Carter, typical of him, is pretty much like "whatever." He says, "That's good! We can let them stay here forever if they need to!" Madison is more reserved about it. She likes the idea of helping, she is over the thought of having to share space with another kid, and now her only concern is "what if the kid doesn't like it here? What if they're mean?" and things of the sort. I've just explained to her that no matter what, she, Carter, and Samuel are my main concern. No one.. NO ONE will hurt my babies. She feels better knowing that if we get a child that we really cannot handle, we have the option to tell DHS to find them another placement. That isn't something I'd do in haste, or an option I take lightly, but I did want my kids to understand that if push comes to shove - I'll do what I need to to keep our family stable. That's solved her concerns for now, but of course I'm already praying that God will only send us children that we will be able to keep here. I know that being moved around and bounced around is the WORST thing for these poor kids. I don't want to be ANOTHER disappointment to them. I don't want to "try it and see how it goes." We're committed to you if you're in our home.

Things are getting real over here. I am more and more thankful for the other foster families I've met online, and the ones I have in real life. I honestly don't know how people do this with no one to look to for support, answers, and just someone to understand how this feels. So, thanks friends!! All of you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

If No One Was Watching...

Posted by Mandy at 9:01 AM 4 comments Links to this post
... I would have licked the peel off top of my yogurt, and then eaten my Nutty Bar in layers instead of taking bigger bites like a normal person. *in DHS parenting classes

... I would have gone back to the buffet a couple more times. *in Mazzio's

... I would have broken out into dance when Kesha's Blah, Blah, Blah came on while I was jogging. *jogging down my road

... I would have thrown rocks at your yappy dog that always chases me barking when I jog. *jogging down my road

... I would've let out a scream of frustration over a bathing suit that was recalled and you wouldn't sell to me.. after an hour in your store with 4 tired, cranky kids. *in Walmart

... I would have totally left the bathroom without washing my hands.. I'm not here to eat. *in Walmart

... I would've probably tail-gated you out of frustration when you were driving 20mph below the speed limit, but I was afraid we might be going to the same place. *on the way to church Sunday

... I really wouldn't have cared that my boys were running a few circles around the cart while I shopped. *in Walmart

... I would've let my extreme boredom show and my annoyance with having to be here. *in DHS parenting class

... I'd have pinned that dog down on the ground for being a brat while I was working with him, but figured someone would think I was terrible if they didn't understand dog behavior. *walking a dog at the park

... I'd have said what I really thought of your status update... *on Facebook

... I would have smacked you in the back of the head for talking to your child like that... *at the doctor's office

... I would have smacked your child for talking to me like that.. *okay.. so not really.. but we've all been there..

... I'd absolutely sing and dance like a lunatic in the van.. *oh, wait.. I do do that..

Maybe it's best that people are watching...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Downsizing is Hard

Posted by Mandy at 8:10 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Off to church!

There is a lot said about the challenges of adding a child, or two, or three, to your family. The planning, the organizing, the adjustment for the entire family. There is little said about how hard it is to decrease your family size.

Going from 4 kids to 3 is a strange event. For a week or so at a time we live as a family of 6, then overnight, we're back to the 5 of us. One less place to be set at the table, one less set of clothes to lay out for the day, one less head of hair to fix, one less goodnight hug, one less of everything. Very weird!

This has been a great warm-up to doing foster care. (I think...) A very slow introduction to all of us to the ups and downs of brining a child into your home that's not been raised by you. That has a personality all of their own that you have to figure out. That has different tastes in food, music, and EVERYTHING. Thankfully, Miss. Emily is practically a dream child in most aspects.

Last night as I tucked my three in, Madison said how strange it is to have the extra bed in her room empty now that she's used to someone sleeping in it. I nodded in agreement. I looked at the bed in wonder of who God will place in it first. (Besides Emily.) So much unknown... so much to anticipate!

Today we set off for a two-hour "talk" with people that will see if we're fit to do this or not. (I guess that's the purpose.) They will dig into our lives, our home, our families. I'm sure they'll ask questions that I don't want to answer. One more step.. one more check off of the list. We are so close to being finished.. just a few more hurdles to leap over and we'll be at the finish line... the finish line that just begins a new starting point.

Friday, June 18, 2010

So.. Maybe They Are a Little Spoiled

Posted by Mandy at 6:51 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Carter and Emily in chair, Sam on the floor, Madison on couch

No, it isn't Saturday morning, but isn't this how summer is supposed to be? Lazy mornings, cartoons for the little one, video games for the big ones... not a care in the world. Days spent at the pool, making your own popsicles and eating them on the swing outside, sleep-overs, arts-and-crafts, and sleeping in. This is my idea of a great summer! If this keeps up, this will be our best summer yet. (I think I say that every year.)

For me, there is a very fine line between letting your kids enjoy their time off and spoiling them rotten. We haven't gotten to the rotten stage, yet. I will admit that I've bought them more stuff in the past month than I probably should have, I've spent more on their entertainment than was necessary, and I've catered  to their whims a whole lot more than I normally would - all in the name of them thinking back and saying "this summer was AWESOME!" Throw in that we have all three birthdays in the summer and maybe I don't feel so guilty for all of their guilty pleasures.

I call myself offsetting this by making them do a lot more than their normal chores. I keep telling them that if they want me to take them for an entire day of fun then they have to earn it with SUPER behavior and lots of hard work at home. I don't know if that's the right way to do this stuff or not.. but for now it's the way I'm going.

Today we'll be going to see Toy Story 3 (because Madison's 9th birthday was yesterday and this was her special request for where she wanted to go) and Saturday I have a girls day out of shopping in Little Rock planned. (Daddy can plan a fun boys day in...) 

Hmm.. maybe it is getting a bit excessive.. but if we're all happy and no one is turning into a greedy-monster then I think we'll just relax and enjoy it.

How do you decide where to draw the line with doing things with and for your kids, and buying them things? Do you let their behavior dictate what they earn? A set amount of money for the month? Let them earn more stuff by more work? All of the above?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Best Part of Summer

Posted by Mandy at 9:06 AM 7 comments Links to this post
Hands down - it's going to the pool. Since I was a small child I have looked forward to swimming as the main attraction of summertime. I have been very happy that my first two children love the water, but imagine my shock with kid #3.

It isn't that he doesn't like going to the pool. It isn't that he doesn't enjoy the water. It's that he is terrified if he is more than knee deep in the water. Even with a life jacket on... plus a floaty.. plus Mommy holding him. He went as far as to sit out of the pool this week with his lafe jacket and floaty on... just resting on my towel. My friend Lou said, "Well, I guess you can never be too safe!" You just have to laugh about it!

this is his maximum acceptable depth

Madison in the pink life jacket - Carter in the blue one on the right

As you might realize, Samuel isn't the only fearful one in the water - I'm pretty paranoid as well. Madison is turning nine tomorrow and I still make her wear her life jacket. She can sort of swim, but definitely not very well. (I told her that our main goal for this summer is for her to be a much stronger swimmer by the end!) Carter took swimming lessons last year, but didn't learn much at all so he is 100% in the jacket. I'll let Madison take hers off to work on strokes, but Carter can only take his off if he's near me.

We go to the pool 2-3 times a week so I hope that they will both be able to swim pretty well with all of this exposure and time to work on it. My goal for Samuel... well... maybe he'll at least enjoy going waist deep in the next few months.

We're picking up Emily today and she'll be staying for about two weeks, and I've been told that she can't swim either. Looks like we'll be needing another life jacket!

Friday, June 11, 2010

CPR - Really?

Posted by Mandy at 8:49 AM 6 comments Links to this post
This Saturday I will be spending my entire day in a CPR/First Aid training session. It is another necessary step in becoming foster parents. I knew this was required, but I had no idea it would take so long to complete. 8am-4pm! I've got three kids... can't you just give me the general run-down? A quiz to see if I'm okay to go? 8am-4pm?! I guess there is no need in complaining; it must be done.

We are closing in on being done with all of this stuff. This coming Tuesday will be parenting class 7 of 9. We'll be scheduling our first in home visit, and our home study will follow soon after. I am so ready to be done with this section of life and move on to the next.

With the wrap up coming of everything, a sense of "freaking out" keeps coming over me. I want to be very honest about everything as we go through this journey for others that are thinking of it or are going through it. There are nights that I'm so tired from our day and I get the kids into bed to sit down for that "ahh" moment and I think, "if we get an out of control two year old... nights are going to be really hard.. I'm going to be so exhausted." or, "if we get a newborn from the hospital that is going through drug withdrawals... that's going to be so hard.." or, "months from now we might start a long night at this hour by getting a 5 year old that's just been taken from her home.... can I really be a comfort to her?"

It all can be summed up in a general feeling of "Can we really do this?"

Thankfully, my moments of complete, paralyzing fear, all come back around to faith. Can we do this? No. Can God? Yes.

 When I ask my friends that are foster parents about different situations and say, "really.. how do you do it?" they all say that they just lean on God. That yes it is hard, but it's WORTH it. When they're at the end of their ropes.. they just hand it over to God. Basically, "You led us here.. YOU handle this!"

Deep breath... "Okay, God is definitely leading us here. He will definitely see us through." This is where I always end up at the final thought during this cycle. It's the only place to find peace and sanity in life. No matter what you're doing!

So often we never experience the life God wants us to because we are afraid. We let the "what-if's" of negativity ruin the "what-if's" of greatness. Instead of asking myself "what if" I can't handle this... I'm training myself to think differently:

What if our family is THE family for the specific children God puts with us?

What if we can be a source of God's amazing healing for many families?

What if God has blessings and messages for our family that we would NEVER receive if we said no? If we were too afraid?

What if the pain of letting a child go in the end, is worth helping that child? Is part of God's plan?

So what if it's hard? So what if everyone thinks we're crazy? So what if it hurts?

What if it's amazing?

What if we are more blessed than we are a blessing?

What if God smiles down on us for being obedient?

What if a child wraps their arms around me, feeling love for the first time EVER.?

If you continue on with what if's... you can convince yourself TO act. Instead of letting those fears stop you. My favorite song in times like these says this:

"... and I will fear no evil
for my God is with me
and if my God is with  me
whom then shall I fear?
whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, you never let go
through the calm and through the storm
oh, no, you never let go
In every high and every low
Oh, no, you never let go
Lord, you never let go of me."

Whom, or what, shall we fear if we REALLY believe that our God is with us? What problem is too big for God? What pain is too much for him to comfort? What wound is too deep for his touch to heal?

What "what if's" are holding you back today?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Need Retail Therapy

Posted by Mandy at 10:37 AM 7 comments Links to this post
I posted that I've been sick all week - today is day 4. No fever since Tuesday, but I can't shake the "yuck" feeling. We can put a man on the moon but we still cannot find a vaccine that prevents all strains of the flu virus.

Being sick all week came crashing with my dad's "would have been" 52nd birthday today. His first to celebrate in God's glory. He's been gone from this earth for a little over 6 months... I hope he got some cool stuff. I don't know what is cool in heaven, but whatever it might be, I know he's more than earned it! So, happy birthday, Daddy! I love you!!

These two events combined has left me a blubbering mess all morning. I topped it off by watching some awesome DVD's my uncle (my dad's twin brother.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE CARLOS!) made for us. I got to see my dad fishing, enjoying Christmas, and my favorite.. some brief clips from the OLD store. Not the new one.. the old one. The one I grew up in. How glorious to have that forever stored to pull out to watch!

You know how some people eat, do drugs, or drink when they're down? Well, my addiction of choice is shopping. If I felt better, I would have loaded the kids up and headed on a shopping trip today to soothe my soul. Shopping with the kids is never the experience I long for, but it's better than nothing!

I have several things on my summer-shopping list that I've yet to purchase.

Item #1 - A great pair of nude shoes. If ya didn't know.. nude is the color of choice this season. I LOVE it! It goes with everything, which is awesome. Somehow, as popular as they are, I've had a really hard time finding the perfect pair for me. I've seen some that were close, but this ain't horse shoes.. close doesn't cut it.
I found these online:

And the angels sang. Love these! They're by Saira, and they're $98. I don't spend that kind of money on 'pretty' shoes.. running shoes, sure.. but not these. Can't do it. Maybe that's why I can't find a pair that I love.. I'm cheap.

Item #2 - Casual Dresses
I never would have thought that I'd get to an age that buying a DRESS would be tough. Most that I find seem geared toward younger women and teens.. not those chasing young tots like I am. I want something I can throw on to go to Walmart, and then wear out to supper later and feel super cute. Put me in a store with instructions to find a "dressy" dress... I'm all over that! Ask me to find a day-to-day dress... I'm clueless.

I like this one by Calvin Klein... not too dressy.
I think I could wear this anywhere.
I like the idea of these faux two-piece dresses, too. Looks really light and comfortable, and you could put a belt on for going out somewhere - LIKE! This one if from Old Navy and it's a whopping $100 LESS than the CK dress I posted above. Decisions, decisions...

Really, I could list a hundred things I'd like to get for the summer, but these are my top two right now. I'm excited about some of the new trends - like black nail polish and deep red shoes (yes.. in SUMMER!) so I definitely have my eyes open for this stuff. (and finding the perfect pair of red shoes for summer has also been a mega challenge..)

Is anyone else in need of some shopping therapy?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Do Not Adjust Your Screen..

Posted by Mandy at 1:54 PM 1 comments Links to this post
I get bored very easily.. so I have set out on changing my blog again. I'm not sure how long I'll keep it this way, so if you hop over here and think you've somehow taken a wrong turn, don't worry - same blog, different look! Be patient, I am not good at this stuff...

Emily's First Stay

Posted by Mandy at 8:53 AM 2 comments Links to this post

Let me start by saying I'm quite sick today - but better than yesterday or the day before. I'm pretty sure it's the flu... some of the girls at the Baptist Home came down with the flu last week, and of course we're always over there so.. all of my symptoms and the timing.. yeah... it's been awful. Any-who.. due to my feeling plain icky, I'm just sharing some quick, not great pics of the girls' room. It's not finished, but functional.

The two twin beds are working out very well. Plenty of room (not that you can tell that from my wonderful photography skills) and no one is freaking out about sleeping on the top bunk. Having the room arranged like this makes me realize if we do need a bunk bed AND the twin bed in the future, we can totally make that work.

The closet still isn't done. I need my hubby to do that and he's had zero time. It'll get done...

These baskets served as little drawers for some of Emily's stuff while she was with us. It worked out really well! We could fit her clothes into Madison's regular closet since she was only staying a few days this time, so it wasn't a big deal this go round.

Her stay was great, by the way. She fits in perfectly with our family! The hardest part, of course, is her not wanting to leave. (and us not wanting her to leave...) We just keep saying how thankful we are for the time that we do get to spend together. We feel so blessed to get to have her as a part of our lives! It's funny how you start this thinking you're helping a child, and you quickly realize how God puts specific children into your life, how deliberate his plan is, and how he makes it work for not just them, but for YOU. I am forever changed based on these past several months. I can only imagine how much greater the changes will be as time goes on.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

FYI: There is More Than One Way

Posted by Mandy at 7:43 AM 4 comments Links to this post
I've read two blogs this week about "Mom-Blog-Bullies" and was shocked at what a problem it is in today's time. Moms attacking other ways of mothering. Moms saying their way is best and if you don't conform, you're less than. You love your kids less, or you obviously "just don't get it." Wow... really?

On one hand, I can relate to these self-righteous moms. I used to be one of them. Hard to go back to that place I once called home in my head, but yes.. many moons ago, I felt there was ONE way to be a good wife and mother. That way was to be at home, 100% devoted to the cause. I even remember thinking that if a mother 'really' loved her child, she'd FIND a way to make staying home work. I could not imagine how anyone could be so unattached that they'd leave their infant... it was so bizarre to me. Before you start your bashing.. let me fast forward to today. I obviously do not feel that way anymore. I grew a brain... thank God for that ability.

What changed me was meeting new people and getting my head out of my behind. Moms are women.. and women are called to MANY things. We all have our own set of God-given skills, and those skills don't go away just because we get married and have children. I started to think about what would happen if all women that had children stopped working to be at home. Wow. What would our world be like, then? My children's favorite teachers.. gone. My family doctor that I ADORE.. gone. Even my favorite waitress at Mazzio's... poof - not there. If we stop and think about these women that we love.. it might become clear to some of us that working women are a good thing, they make the world go round! Should these women have to choose between keeping a career that they worked their entire lives for, or having children? Should a mom that MUST work to simply pay the rent be made to feel less than or guilty because she has to leave her child at a sitter or daycare? NO. NO. NO!

Sometimes I am stunned that dealing with adults is no different than dealing with teens. Set in their ways, sure they are right, not trying to see the other side. I've learned that people with a  'one-way' mindset typically only have one group of friends that rallies around them that agrees 'mostly' with their theories. I guess I'm very fortunate that God has never allowed me to have a big group of comfortable friends. If I compared my best girlfriends' parenting styles, wife-styles, and even life-styles to mine, or to each other's... it would make my head spin. I remember joking a few months ago with a group of friends, "What do you get if you put a Christian, a Morman, a Muslim, and a Catholic together? My kitchen table!"

Years ago I could have never held a conversation with this many different people at one time. I'd have been wanting to defend myself, prove that I was RIGHT. I'd feel compelled to show them how wrong they are. Not any more... I just choose to live the way I do, discuss frankly what I believe, and compare and contrast our religions. I have had the most amazing, thought-provoking conversations with this group of women! I would have missed out on so much in life if I'd have run away from this bizarre arrangement of friends. To make it even better, one of them has no children at all... and doesn't want them. Can I tell you what a GREAT challenge it is to have hours of great conversation with someone that you cannot fall back on how awesome, hard, gross, and mystical it is to be a mother? Yeah.. try that sometime. Good for the soul I tell ya.

What I've learned is that being around other women, that do things TOTALLY different than you, is an amazing thing. You  may not agree with their methods, and you may never want to change to go towards their way of parenting or living, but learning acceptance of others is important. Learning to love those that do not make life comfortable for you is a great thing. It's a very hard thing. It's something I still work on daily with some people that God has forcefully shoved into my life.

Reading about these mom-blog bullies made me want to express that, though I definitely feel strongly about the parenting and life choices I've made for myself, I absolutely see that my way is NOT the only way. If I felt that way in life, I can assure you, I'd have no friends. None. I don't know anyone that parents exactly the way I do.. yet I know so many AMAZING mothers.  Attachment parenting is a big part of my life, but even others that are AP may not think I do it the "right way." Who cares, right?

What I want to say to 'those' women is... spend a day with me. Let me show you children that really have parents that "just don't get it." Let me show you what a child that is truly hurting over parenting choices looks like. Let me show you the difference between wrong choices, and different choices.

If you're a woman that works and feels like other moms look at you as if you're "less than" because of it, let me assure you.. that's a load of crap. If you've not been so fortunate to be around other working mothers, and been able to see that their kids are happy, healthy, and LOVE them, let me tell you that the majority of my friends are those mothers.  Their kids know who mommy is. They don't feel abandoned. Kids are so amazing.. if we tell them that life is just fine, then they believe us. So, moms.. no matter what your life is like right now, just know that if you are loving, caring, and meet your kids needs, and  you let them know that everything is A-okay, then they most likely will be.

If you are a mom that is stuck in that thought process "this is the only way, my way, and it's the right way," please look outside of yourself. There are fantastic benefits to looking outside of your little box. I promise! It can be uncomfortable to make friends that raise an eyebrow to your parenting methods.. but sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes our methods need to be questioned, and sometimes being questioned just reassures us that we're sure what we're doing is best for our family.

In closing, I say, can't we all just get along? Aren't we all grown ups here? If we all did everything the exact same way, my goodness this world would be an incredibly dull place. No one would ever make you say "wow!" or "oh my.." Think about it. Enjoy the differences without judgement. Talk about what you're passionate about without feeling the need to bash different methods to defend it. You catch more bees with honey, so they say.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

We Made it!

Posted by Mandy at 8:49 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Months ago I didn't think this day would ever get here, but if finally did! Emily spent her first night with us last night. It went off without a hitch.

One super cool thing about getting connected with the Baptist Home is you get to spend ample amounts of time with a child before they ever stay the night. Emily feels like part of the family already, so her staying just seems natural to us. She knows where everything in the house is, she knows our rules, and she knows that a Toy Poodle can sleep cuddled up next to her at night... which is super awesome if you didn't know.

Having another girl in the house is so strange. I have heard more giggling in the past 24 hours than I have in a long, long time! Madison and her brothers laugh tons... but two girls together? Forget it! The giggles are more high-pitched, and they go on, and on, and on. They had me laughing for no reason at all in the van yesterday. Just hearing them cracking up had me going. Too fun!

We did have a rather awkward moment in Walmart yesterday. (isn't Walmart infamous for that?) We had literally just left the Home and I had to take everyone to buy food... or I'd have 4 very unhappy children for the remainder of the day. Within 5 seconds of walking in, Emily sees her older sister! (who also lives in a group home.) They hug, are obviously overwhelmed with excitement, and her older sister even had tears in her eyes. Emily had been sick the last scheduled visit, so I'm not sure how long ago it was that they saw each other. Thankfully they seemed very happy to have bumped into each other, and no one cried.

That was just a very, very strange experience. Sometimes I still forget WHY she's here. Not just because she's Madison's friend... I have to remind myself that her life is very different than most children's. I don't know her siblings, I don't know her parents. I've heard about them... I've seen her cry over missing them, but it's so bizarre to love a child so much, and know so little about her family. I often wonder if who she is now, under the guidance of her awesome house parents, is the same kid she was before. Who are you, Emily? Really... who's in there?

So far, everything is going very well. It feels like an extended slumber party or something.

God definitely sent the right kid to us at the right time. He always knows what he's doing! She fits in so well. It's nice to have these experiences to ease us into foster care. I know foster care will be an entirely different world than this - so these weeks will be very precious to us. Hopefully, for Emily, too!

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