Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Moms: You Just THINK You're Busy

Posted by Mandy at 6:27 AM 3 comments Links to this post
I take care of three kids, one of which is home with me 24/7. I own my business and am the 'only' employee. I am your oh-so-typical soccer mom. I don't feed my kids fast food on busy days. (or that would be several days each week.) I clean. I do laundry. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in this house that knows where the bathroom cleaner is located. I'm almost never alone, and the company tends to come with a whiney "Mooommmyyyy" voice. No... I'm probably not as busy as I think I am.

According to a new study (which was written about here) moms have 30-40 hours A WEEK of leisure time. Wow... that's incredible! Let me see if I can find at least a minute of it here... umm.. ?? Oh, wait, does this time right now count? Does having to stop your typing every 2 minutes on the second to fill a sippy cup, clean a spill, listen to crying about "I want candy!", and wipe a behind count as leisure time? Apparently, yes!

This is what one woman said in response to the news that she has so much free time:

Post reporter Brigid Schulte didn't believe it, and so she kept a diary of her days. What qualified as leisure time? Waiting for a tow truck, visiting a sick friend and answering e-mails at midnight. Basically, anything that couldn't be categorized as paid work, child care or housework is categorized by Robinson as "leisure."

*Robinson is the doctor that did the study

Apparently even having a root canal is leisure time - good to know.

Now, moms, don't get too upset because he says the same thing about dads and ALL Americans.

So, what do you think? How much leisure time do you have?

When we just had Madison, I had tons of leisure time. She was the BEST sleeper in the world. She always napped well, and I can remember the days when she was an infant and would take TWO 2-3 hour naps each day. One nap was for house cleaning; the other? Exercising, showering, WHATEVER. Life was good but I didn't know it.

Once we had our second angel... oh lordy! He was the WORST sleeper. He never slept. Husband gone to Troop School for 6 months, starting when baby #2 was 5 weeks old. I have never worked so hard in my entire life. I haven't since. I don't think I had 30 minutes of leisure time a week!

Fast forward to today. Three kids, two of which go to school, youngest at home is soon to be 3 years old. I could easily find all kinds of leisure time if this was all that was going on. Work does have to fit in here somewhere. And, the work I do is at my home, or I have to typically take Samuel with me if I'm required to work away. (and THAT'S fun.... let me tell ya) On days like today - when I've SCHEDULED leisure time.. sure! It's awesome, and I do schedule leisure time for myself and I think EVERYONE should.

On most days - where's the free time? Even if Samuel takes a nap (which he doesn't often anymore) then I spend that time calling clients, responding to emails, and bleaching the potty.. again. That's also when I hit training really hard with any dogs that are here for that purpose. Add in dance and ball practice and life's pretty busy. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving it! I enjoy it! But, I don't think you can classify it as leisure time if you're always waiting for some type of ridiculousness to occur. To me, leisure time is when you can go do what you want, be as loud as you want, and do whatever you want. I know that stay at home parents rarely have this going on - and I'd assume that those of you that have to go off to work realize your bosses wouldn't take too kindly to you just not showing up for a few hours so you can go to the spa.

What do you all think of this study? How much leisure time do you have each week and what's your definition of leisure?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Obama Care

Posted by Mandy at 7:01 AM 9 comments Links to this post
I keep reading and rereading different articles to try to understand what this new Obama Care means for my family, and I end up just as clueless after sorting through a vast sea of numbers and estimates as I was before I dove in. 

I found this article from the AP that spelled some things out in a pretty direct way if anyone would like to take a look.

From what I gathered here - the richest people in America, as always, will be paying for everyone else's care. Thankfully this doesn't include me... but if I was one of those "richest people" I think I'd be pretty ticked that even more of my paycheck was being taxed. Isn't nearly half of it enough already?

I also think I discovered that my family doesn't really qualify for any real assistance... surprise surprise.

Medicaid is being expanded to cover more people, senior citizens will have cuts in costs of their medications (which seems like a really good idea!!) and there apparently will be incentives for small business owners that have fewer than 25 employees that decide to offer health insurance.

My only concerns are:

- Do I get to keep my insurance plan? Will MY insurance rates increase to cover all of this other stuff? Since my family is middle class, will we still not qualify for any help with medical bills or medications yet eventually have to pay more to get care and meds? Someone HAS to pay for this stuff.... and it's hard for me to believe that only those making $200,000 a year or more will single-handedly cover the cost of this "free" health care.

- Will my taxes increase? I've heard some talk on the news that eventually they will have to install a new Federal tax on everyone to cover the cost... of course this is just speculation, but when you look at the high taxes Canada pays (from what I could dig up they pay about 10% or more in taxes than we do) then one has to wonder. Will my tax rate skyrocket and I still not qualify for this new awesome insurance plan because "we make too much."?

I've heard many of my friends joke that they'll soon be quitting their jobs because they'd make more a month if the government simply took care of them. Sad.. but it seems to be becoming a reality. What's the incentive to make it in the world if there are hand-outs to EVERYONE. I'm so torn on this issue.

On one hand, I really do want everyone to have quality health care. I want everyone to be able to afford to go to the doctor and buy their medications. I want that for MY family. Can I tell you the times we've stressed because everyone in the house was sick, and everyone needed medications, but first the doctor has to test you to make sure, which means a co-pay for each person seen? We've dropped well over a hundred dollars in one day's time just because we needed a simple antibiotic. The times that we needed more than your regular Amox... my goodness. That's with our GOOD insurance.. I don't know how others, that make the same as we do, are making it with their plans. I really don't. Will there be help for THEM?

This post is really more a list of questions I have - not my bashing of this plan. I can't truly bash it because I STILL don't understand it. If you do, give the rest of us an idea, please! Are you for this or against it and why?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Learning to Say Yes

Posted by Mandy at 10:59 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Have you ever heard a piece of parenting advice that made you have that light bulb moment? Or the "duh" moment as I like to call it.

I had this happen to me several years ago. It was the most simple idea ever - but one I probably would have never thought of on my own, or realized that I even needed to think of. It came from a video series I watched by Kevin Leman called Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. (FYI: great series!!)

Ready for the tidbit?

"Learn to say yes more often."

Simple, right? I know... that's what I thought, too.

He gave a great example of his teenaged daughter asking at the dinner table one night,

"Dad, could we maybe go look at cars tomorrow?"

He said that he had no intention of buying her car, but he said, "Sure! We can go look."

How many of you are like me and would've immediately said, "No... I'm NOT buying you a car right now," without giving it a second thought? The idea of agreeing to just go look, like she asked, was like a brand new language to me. It got me thinking about how often I probably tell my kids no, when a yes could have easily been used.

So, this little bit of information is something that I've strived to do in my parenting. I really try to listen to what the question is, what it means, and figure out if a 'no' is really necessary.

"Can we look at the toys when we go to Walmart?"
"Yes, but we won't buy any and we can only spend about 5 minutes looking because we have other errands to run today."

Amazingly - we've done this many, many times and it works wonders! They love to just look, and thankfully they accept that we are not taking anything home with us. We can come back and look at it again next time.

"Can we blow bubbles in the kitchen?"
"Umm.. yes.... but only if you clean up ALL of the mess when you're done."

This is something I'd likely usually say no to in the past. I HATE mess like this. If they couldn't go outside for some reason and could only use them in the house... I'm not too sure I'd have let them several years ago. But, now, they understand that if they choose to play with something messy - then they have lots of mess to clean up. So, it works out well and, hey, it is a great way to get your floors cleaned.

These are just two easy examples of our real-life "learning to say yes more" experience. Focusing on this over the years has opened my eyes to how often I say no to them for nonsense reasons. Saying 'no' to kids a lot can really build frustration in them and lead to sneaky behaviors.
 "I didn't ask because I knew you'd say no.."
(now, sometimes they might be doing stuff they shouldn't and OF COURSE you'd say no... not what I'm talking about here.)

My favorite new phrase with the kids getting older is,
"Yes, if you can do it yourself." (or get it yourself)

This would be for times I'm exhausted and trying to sit on the couch and be brainless for 20 minutes and they decide they want to make a PlayDoh picnic. Fine.. but only if you can do it without any assistance from your lazy mom. And, clean it all up..

Do you find yourself saying no a lot without thinking like I did?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Life Listed

Posted by Mandy at 2:13 PM 2 comments Links to this post
Contrary to what some might think, I haven't actually dropped off the face of the planet. I have just been like so many of you out there - CRAZY BUSY.

I've missed blogging so much, so I figured I'd pop in and do a quick list of things in my head or goings on right now to wrap this up fast for you all:

* Obama-Care... I STILL haven't got a freaking clue what this means for me but I'm pretty sure it will mean that eventually I'll have more taxes to pay and since I currently have awesome health insurance I'm quite certain it will be less awesome this time 12 months from now.

* The crazy rapist/murderer guy that had already been convicted of this TWICE and still managed to get out and do it AGAIN is now caught.. again.. and is supposedly 'really' going to be executed this time. Yeah.. sure he will.

*How the crap is it literally snowing here one day and 75 degrees the next?

* Getting connected with another girl from the Baptist Home and it rocks.. she's super sweet and I see great things for all of us together in the future. "A" is still as much a part of our lives as before... so now we're plus 2 from time to time.

* Sam's almost 100% potty trained as of this week. Praise the Lord! No more poop in diapers!

* I have more work this week than I've ever had.. ever. I've had to turn down a lot of people which is both awesome and totally sucky all at the same time. Clayton and I are looking forward to moving to a place that we can really build a big business on - and get this thing rolling even more!

* House re-finance will be done TOMORROW so goodbye credit card debt!! Oh great day!

* Kids are out for spring break and it rocks. We have had trips to the park, nature walks, and tons of playtime and card games. Madison is ready to go back to school already. She misses her teacher and her friends. That's good I guess...??

* Carter's playing ball this year and he loves it! His coach keeps laughing about how easy going he is.. and praising him for being so obedient. If only he knew the battles we fought to get to this point! :)

* Oprah's being sued for defamation... who goes after Oprah? Bad idea!

* Hubby is almost done on the highway - as in this Saturday is his last day as 'Trooper Moss' and April 1 he'll be "Special Agent Moss" with the cool new family friendly schedule. (eventually.. after training is done.) Oh and the angels sang...

* I am READY to move.. or build a house... or whatever. As in.. now.  Please. Hoping to get 'something' going in the next couple of months after we see how our finances change with the new mortgage and lack of credit card payments.

* I miss you all! This week and next are just nuts for me with dog boarding, daycare, AND dogs that people are bringing to me to keep for training. I am so blessed that my kids also love dogs and I'm paying them to help me out by taking the little ones out to potty and fill water bowls and such. We don't pay for regular chores but this is something I feel they can earn some cash by helping out with, and it helps me so much!

* What have I missed?! I'm barely able to watch the news because my mornings consist of heading to town to walk and feed outside dogs at their homes and the rest of my day is spent being mommy and crazy dog lady at home. I think I'm in a bubble here!

*OH.. I did get to go on a FAB shopping trip with my  mom and sister. Justice for Madison, Children's Place for the boys (and Madison..) and EXPRESS for me.. yeah baby! Oh how I've missed that store! FYI: Their Editor collection of pants and walking shorts are awesome.

That's a quick sum up of what's been going on in my head and life. Enjoy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

That Itch You Can't Scratch

Posted by Mandy at 11:15 AM 4 comments Links to this post
I know you probably think this is a post about woman troubles due to the title... but no. I'm talking about a metaphoric itch... the Baby Itch.

I guess I've always known I was just one of those women that LOVES babies. I love babies, toddlers, kids, big kids... all of 'em! I also really enjoyed the fun parts of being pregnant and those first few weeks of baby-new-ness. Even today, after three of my own, when I see my friends pregnant I get all sappy and want to feel those cute kicks, gab about what diapers they want to use, and look through all of their new baby duds. I mean seriously.. what's sweeter than that?!

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how that desire just never fully goes away. I can go for MONTHS knowing that having more kids from my body is a horrid thought and one that I'd never want to act on, only to have one minute of A Baby Story on TLC or a particularly sweet newborn outfit in a store wipe away all sense in my head and make me go, "Awwww! I miss that!"

Today I had a moment of insanity just like this. In the midst of building castles out of blocks with Samuel, taking daycare dogs out to potty and on our daily adventure walks, and trying to answer the phone, answer emails, and clean the house, I passed by the TV to see a commercial for pregnancy tests.

It shot me back a to few years ago when we were struggling with infertility and pregnancy tests had taken over my life. Of course, I wasn't thinking of all of those negatives.. I just remembered the one that finally had two lines. Oh.. great day!

I guess the truth is there isn't a lot that's as exciting as such a moment. It's so emotional! It's life changing in tons of ways.. but of course in those lunatic moments that you look back a little too fondly on the event, you only think of the great ways it was life changing. Thankfully life has a way of snapping you back into reality.

Now when I have those pangs of 'want' I let my logical side kick in. (My husband is very thankful this side of me now exists from time to time.) I had to go through the entire thing in a matter of two minutes in my head.

"If I were pregnant I'd probably spend 9 months throwing up... like I did the first three times. That would suck."

"I'd probably have horrible anxiety attacks like I did the last two times. That would suck."

"In the end I'd be no less than 35 pounds heavier... ugh.."

"I'd then have a fourth csection.. sealing my fate to never have an ab muscle to speak of again."

"Sleeping through the night would go bye-bye. Hmm.."

"I'd have to stop working. The business I've built would go down the tube for a long time... can't do this job with a baby on my boob."

"Trips far away from home would be further put off... "

Okay - I've talked myself out of it!

What's so funny to me is how there are times when you KNOW your family isn't complete and you're willing to do anything to make having that next baby work. Then, there are times like this when your emotions just get the best of you and you have to let that brain kick in and remind you of why you're done. (I mean.. the 35+ pounds to lose - again- really speak volumes to me!)

Then, I remind myself that to open our home to non-biological children, we really can't keep filling it up! That is a great deterrent as well.

Do you KNOW you're done having your own kids for whatever reason, but still sometimes have to fight with your emotions and remind yourself as to why?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And We Wonder What's Wrong With Kids Today

Posted by Mandy at 7:50 AM 6 comments Links to this post
Last night we ended our bedtime routine like always; reading books. The big kids now read to me and then off to bed - then I sit with Samuel and read to him. Last night his choice was one of our most favorites: a Mother Goose book.

A few rhymes into this book I have to admit I started noticing that some of these sweet little stories are a little out there.

Take poor little Jack who fell down and broke his crown! Jill fell down, too.. but did you know that the entire rhyme involves Jill getting "whipped" for laughing at Jack?

How about Old Mother Hubbard? How many of you know that entire story? The second paragraph mentions "the poor dog was dead" and the third tries to rhyme "coffin" (as in to bury the dog) with "laughing." (Mother Goose might have had one too many when she wrote that one...)

Goosey, Goosey, Gander... whither shall I wander? And in the end... " I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs."

And what on earth must have been going on in Mother Goose's life for her to create the rhyme of Peter the Pumpkin Eater that couldn't "keep" his wife and felt a pumpkin shell was an appropriate alternative?

Have you heard this one:

"Tom, Tom, the piper's son,
Stole a pig and away he run,
The pig was eat,
And Tom was beat,
And Tom went howling down the street."

Nice. (do you suppose Tom thought the pig was a grand enough meal to endure the latter beating?)

The Old Woman in the Shoe... why do you think she kept on having so many kids? And talk about a dead beat dad! Where's he in this story? And, what did the kids do to deserve being "whipped soundly and put to bed" in the end? So much missing from this drama.

And we sing the song about babies falling out of treetops to our infants as lullabies and wonder why they can't sleep through the night...

And who is the Wee Willie Winkie running around in his nightgown peeking through locks? Mother Goose, perhaps you should contact the local authorities the next time you spot something like that, instead of writing it all down.

Let's not even start with the "Rub-a-dub-dub, Three men in a tub" rhyme.

And, before closing your eyes precious child, let's say a Mother Goose prayer about how if you happen to die before you wake, that we pray the Lord your soul to take.

After this careful review of Mother Goose's nursery rhymes, I'm starting to think these books should come with a minimum PG-13 rating. And we wonder why our kids are so demented...

Monday, March 08, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

Posted by Mandy at 12:04 PM 4 comments Links to this post
Have you ever heard sayings like "bad things happen in 3's" or "that's just Murphy's Law."? Yeah, probably so..

Doesn't it seem like when something bad happens, EVERYTHING bad happens? You can never just have a flat tire, but you then also have to need a new battery the next week and a new engine by the month's end.

I have to say that over the past several months I felt like this was pretty much how life was going. Don't get me wrong, we had tons of joy and amazing blessings in these months - but they were some fairly dark days for me.

It started in November with Dad dying (which is still a huge struggle of mine) and it seemed like things went downhill from there. Clayton's transfer from being on the Highway to getting to be a Detective kept getting pushed back.. and pushed back. It seemed like it would never happen and we'd have to be stuck in this awful schedule and stress forever. Our fight against debt was moving more slowly than I was happy with even though my business is booming and we'd been making wise financial decisions. There were days that I'd think,

"How can things be so good.. and so bad.. all at the same time?"

Over the past two weeks, I've realized something else. When it rains.. it pours.. BLESSINGS.

Just as we trudged through so much yuck and muck over the past several months, now it seems like God has completely blown away those dark clouds to reveal huge and amazing things.

The first 'bad' thing.. Dad dying.. well, nothing has changed there of course. Dad's still dead.. I'm still sad.. family's still hurting. I am thankful that I no longer cry everyday - and that I can almost complete a thought or a memory about Dad without bursting into hysterical sobbing. I mean.. seriously.. when it's that bad you've got to give thanks to God for any amount of relief you feel!

The second hurdle - the transfer. It finally happened! The letter came - and I nearly cried when Clayton waved it in front of me and said, "It came!" (I'd have probably jumped up and down if he and I weren't both totally down with a stomach flu.. another post another day.) That was this Saturday - and I'm contemplating framing that letter and hanging it in place of my favorite framed art that we have in the house. He has a lot of training to make it through at first, but after that, we're looking at a more normal schedule (as in like 7am-4pm unless all hell breaks loose and someone decides to rape someone or kill someone..) and the ability to PLAN AHEAD. Someone wants to know if we can grill out in two weeks? Why YES WE CAN! I cannot even imagine a life like that - it's been so many years of living for his job and around his schedule. We'll get to go to things TOGETHER. He'll have the ability to coach a baseball team or pick the kids up from school from time to time. Wow... life changing!!

The third hurdle - the longest we've battled. DEBT. This has been something we've been seriously focused on for a long time. We hit it really hard about two years ago, and super hard over the past year. We made incredible progress - I am still shocked that God gave us the ability to pay off the cards we did and make it to where we are today. SHOCKED. As far as we've made it, it still felt like we'd never get these stupid cards paid off. They're really holding us back from a lot right now. (like building that big house with a lot of bedrooms to fill with kids... you know.. little things..)

Clayton's dad mentioned to us, as he was working on our taxes (he's a CPA... and everyone should be so blessed as to have one so readily available!) that we should look into refinancing our mortgage to wrap in the remaining debt. We had looked into this option a couple of years ago, but we had SO much debt that the mortgage payment would have been so high that we'd have been in no better of a situation. Plus, we really felt like we had spent years getting ourselves into that mess and it seemed right for us to spend a long while digging out of it.

Now, we've worked our booties off, we've learned invaluable lessons from this journey, and we're ready to move on. So, we contacted our current mortgage company (after comparing with our credit union and local banks) to talk about what we could make happen. To our amazing surprise, it looks like we can totally be credit card debt free. And, our mortgage payment will still be laughably low. Holy moly... is this really real? Really? It's like manna from heaven! Not to mention that we might be able to use our tax refund to pay off our van.. or mostly. A girl could get excited here... after dealing with this mess for so many years.. could this really be the end of it?

So, yes. Sometimes you feel like you are never going to get out of the dark place in which you are resting. Sometimes the sadness, the pain, the stress... it feels like it's just going to take you under. But then... it doesn't. And then God stays faithful. He stays true to his word that he won't leave you. He shows you he wants good things for you. Maybe he feels we "learned our lesson" on the financial front. Maybe he knows that with Clayton being home more often we can be a double blessing to our own children and other children that will need it. I don't know his reasons but I am thankful!

It starts with finding the small, hard to spot blessings in our life sometimes for God to be able to take us out of our current attitude and situation and bring us up and out of them. If you're in a dark place today, please know that you are not alone, no matter how alone you feel. Know that there IS a brighter day coming. You can never truly appreciate the sunlight without a lot of dark and gloomy days. I can testify to this today!

Friday, March 05, 2010

River Market: How I Love Thee

Posted by Mandy at 9:33 AM 2 comments Links to this post

One of the most fun places to take the kids that there is no admission fee. The River Market in Little Rock. Now, don't get me wrong... it isn't free. If you walk through the Downtown area you will pass too many yummy treats to make it out of here without forking over some cash. (the ice cream place, the AWESOME pizza place, and the places that get rid of the I'm thirsties.) Worth it entirely, though!

This began many shouts of "Dum Dum, give me gum gum." from the big kids. (from Night at the Museum... hardy har har)

Daddy helping Samuel climb out of the tunnels.

"Made it."

Whew! We all made it... and I'm pretty sure that after we climbed down we noticed that that was 'not' an allowed climbing spot. Oops.

This is after Carter learned how to spit off of the bridge... thanks to his father. Later in the day he learned the importance of not spitting into the wind.

I don't know why but the kids were more excited about this pig than ANYTHING else we saw.. including the submarine. Go figure.

I have others to post but no time today! We did and saw everything we could and walked many miles in the few hours we were there.

We'll actually be going back this weekend - but not for this! Clayton will be running the half-marathon... or attempting to run it. ;) I will try to stick it out long enough to cheer him on from start to finish. Wish him luck!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

They're Heeeeerrreeee...

Posted by Mandy at 11:51 AM 7 comments Links to this post
We've all been sitting in wait for warm weather.... almost forgetting what the beautiful spring sunshine brings along with it.


Okay, so I'm sort of a closet fashionista. I REALLY like clothes. I also REALLY don't have too many that I love thanks to a job that requires me to roll around with dogs most days. Mix that with mommy-hood and my daily wardrobe lately has consisted of jeans and long-sleeved tees.

So, with spring right around the corner, my interest in clothes that I actually like to wear has hit its peek. This happens every year at this time. Goodbye sweaters! Goodbye Coats! Hello... oh my..

Hello tank tops and halters that show off my arms that look like.. like I've been wearing sweaters and coats for the past 3 months. Hmm.....

I was on one of my favorite websites - - and I was peeking around at the newest stuff for spring. Yes, I do find this thrilling. I get a rush of "Oh! I want that!" I also get a rush of, "Oh.. I need to workout more!"

I saw this super cute simple dress

I got all girly and had visions of this summer when I could throw this on with some cute sandals and a totally rockin' chunky necklace and run out of the door with my kids to go.. wherever. Then I started thinking in realistic terms. Seriously.. my arms are NOT ready for this big of a step.

Crap. Here we go.

Each spring I go through this. Those extra 5ish pounds (10ish.. whatever..) I let myself gain because I can hide behind clothes start to bug me. It's so difficult for me to eat less when it is dark and cold outside. Can't help it. It's nature or something, I swear.

With the sun beginning to shine, and a bit of warmth starting to come through - maybe, just maybe, now's the time to let my portion sizes decrease. Maybe.

I'm also in desperate need of a tan... I even contemplated the tanning bed. Shhh.. don't tell anyone. I'm such a "I don't want to get skin cancer" phobe that I don't know if I can really go through with it. But, it has entered my mind. I'd look a lot better in that cute yellow dress if I wasn't sporting around this ridiculously pastey white skin....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

So... I'm Terrified

Posted by Mandy at 7:36 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Madison, Carter, and "A"

This week has been full of finishing up (we hope) our end of paperwork and running around for the Baptist Home. TB tests have been done, paperwork notarized, and we've sent our money to the State Police for our background checks. (which was odd to pay my husband's own people for the service..) I think we may be done. Now we wait.

We'll have a home visit soon, and for some reason I'm freaked out about that. I have no idea why. I even am VERY close with the woman that's doing it. We've gone to church together for a couple of years now. I asked her Sunday,

"What exactly are you looking for when you do a home visit?"

She sort of laughed that I would even ask and explained that she was just making sure it was a safe, clean home. Of course this just sent me into wondering if our house was clean enough.. and safe enough.

Once all of our references have sent in their paperwork and everything is completed on the Children's Home's end... I suppose that means we'll be done. Then what? Who? How many? Why am I getting nervous here?!

When I started looking into this several months ago, I sort of thought it wasn't too big of a deal. Like these kids would be similar to having our kids' friends over to play and nothing more. Getting to get a glimpse into this with being blessed with "A" getting to come over once or twice a week has proven that theory dead wrong.

When they bond with you, when they bond with your family, and when you bond with them... it's hard. When they explain you're the first "real" home they've been in in over a year... it's hard. When they tear up loading into the van to go back.. it's really hard. When they ask, "Can you just please call and see if I can stay just this one night? Please?".. it's super hard. When you want to do more than you are allowed... it's hard.

But, this is where God has put our hearts. From the first minute I stepped foot into the girls' cottage, I knew it. This is where he's been pulling us. This is where he wants us to start this journey.

Since "A" cannot have a family friend, we're only allowed to be a "friend." This is very different. Limited visits, no staying the night, things of that nature. With a child that is allowed to have a family friend, they can spend two complete weekends each month with us. They can stay the night. We can be as involved as we want to be. This makes me really really joyful and excited - and super afraid.

These kids have had their hearts broken. Some of them hide it so well.. like "A." It comes out in small tears, on rare occasions. Others are more outward with their anger and sadness. Who can blame them?! All they want is a home. A family. Love and acceptance. There are so many of them.. and so few helping it seems. What does this say to them about who they are? I know that "A" has said several times that she is so happy that a REAL family lets her come to play! That we like her enough to spend so much time with her.  If you knew this kid.. you would be crying at this statement. She really believes it's HER. Because her parents are the way they are, and cannot raise her, that this means something is unlikable or unlovable about HER. I have to imagine that this is a common theme amongst children in her situation.

So, we're choosing not to live in fear. As I told a friend on the phone yesterday,
"We may not be the best home. We may not handle everything these kids throw at us the perfect way. But we're going to try our hardest to love them and be better than what they have."

I feel like for the longest time I would see children like this and would think,
"That is so horrible. Someone should do something about that..."

I refuse to sit back and do nothing now. My youngest child is finally old enough that I can take on more. So, here we go. It's been a fairly lengthy process of paperwork, tests, etc.. and we're still not finished. Once we are, I am simply choosing to trust that God will work all of this out. He will give us the words to say to a hurting child, he will give us the love to give, and the patience to wait if need be.

Fear keeps us from doing so much of God's work. Is fear keeping you from fulfilling anything that God might be pulling you towards? Can you let go and trust that if he leads you there, that he will not leave you there alone?

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