Thursday, June 28, 2012

and so it begins...

Well it took 2 weeks to the day to get our first placement.  We are now caring for a 3 1/2 year old boy and his 2 1/2 year old sister (who we will call Jr and Sissy for privacy issues).  And it has been quite a week!  First, let me say that we are overwhelmed (in a good way) with all the support we have received from our church, friends, and family.  We are involved in the Orphan Care Ministry at our church and we have had people we don't even know just drop things off on our doorstep, packages mailed to the has been truly amazing to see God work through everyone that has supported us.  We have people praying for us, meals being brought to us, and everything the kids could possibly need and more being donated...we are so blessed to have such a great community!!  We have truly experienced God taking care of our every need!

Ok, so on to the kids...

They are precious.  It's probably a lot easier for me to say that right now as they are both opposed to being woken up in the middle of the night to un-consolable crying :)  Just kidding, they are truly wonderful.  I can't even imagine how hard it is to go through what they have gone through.  Then to be put into a house with a "schedule" and being told to follow a "routine," with things like "rest time" and "eating at the table."  They have really done a great job adjusting to structure...lucky (or maybe un-lucky) for them they were placed in the house of a Kindergarten teacher, with maybe too much structure :)  And it's not just the kids that are doing the adjusting around here...the adults and doggies are adjusting right along with them!  We have had our "what in the world have we done??" moments, and judging by these pictures, so have the dogs...

Clark? Are you still alive??

I know Rox, me too

Here are just a few of the highlights, and "low-lights," of our week (FYI it is now bedtime...I'm also adjusting to my snipits of peace and quiet where I can do things like write a this could be brief):

1.  the best part of my day is when Dave gets home from work and both kids drop whatever they are doing and run (and jump) into his arms...this is pure awesomeness for so many reasons, but mainly I'm just so happy that they have an adult male in their life that loves them and cares for them the way he does
2.  my new nickname, KiKi...which was given on Day 2 when I was tired of being "HEY!" because they couldn't say "Kristy"...also, Jr. pronounces his /k/'s as /t/'s and so it's "TeeTee" to him; Dave once tried to call me "TeeTee in front of him, to which Jr. yelled "NO! it's TEE-TEE!!" it
3.  seeing how much they have learned, or picked up on, in just 1 week...they are learning how to count, name colors, sing kid songs, say prayers, share their toys, LISTEN and obey "TeeTee"....they are really picking up quickly for only being here a week....even their CPS case manager commented on that today
4.  being able to stay home with them for 2 weeks and build a strong bond and relationship to them...and have play dates with friends...and I finally have an excuse to try all the pinterest "activities" that are pinned on my "kids" board :)
5.  exposing them to new foods, places, people who care about them, and a different of living (it's just crazy what kinds of food they don't even know the name of)
6.  seeing their great big smiles and knowing there is a fun, loving, playful attitude inside both of them, even though sometimes they have to be too tough to show us that side of them
7.  realizing that even though they can be tough to handle at times, i am loving them more and more each day
8.  getting to parent with my wonderful is truly a blast, and i don't know how people do it alone
9.  even though we haven't done a lot of this yet because we truly are just trying to survive this adjustment period, I know the best part of this all will be teaching them about Jesus and how much God loves them...they already show excitement and interest in praying as they are beginning to repeat our prayers (literally, as we are saying them) that we say at meal time and bedtime

I know I could think of more, but after going to bed last night at 4AM due to a trip to the ER (Jr had an asthma attack) and the stress of their first "visit day" today, my mind is a little shot.  So, briefly, here is what is the not-so-fun side of fostering...some of which we knew to expect, but most not the extent that we have discovered:

1.  speaking of visit day - visit day really stinks; I took them for the first time today, and it is nothing but uncomfortable, awkward, and awful.  The kids have no idea what is going on and why they got to see their mom, aunt, and grandma for 1 hour today, and why they can't go back home after this visit.  The mom needs someone to blame right now, so of course that is me right now and makes for a super uncomfortable time of dropping off and picking up the kids at the CPS office.  Visit day really just magnifies all the brokenness that is foster care, and it ain't at all pretty.  FYI, as far as we know these kids will see their mom once a week and their plan is reunification - which is usually the plan for kids entering the system...they have a court date set for Monday, so we may know more of how it looks after that...but then again, probably not.
2.  bedtime - i'm sure this is a struggle for most parents, but it's so hard to find the balance between establishing boundaries or rules and comforting them when they truly are just missing their home in this situation (Jr has a pretty hard time being alone at night, or anytime really)
3.  my nickname Kiki - when Sissy says it 57 times in 1 minute
4.  introducing structure to kids who have had zero structure....this can be very draining
5.  trying to set up doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and figuring out daycare all in 2 weeks...ahhhh! 
6. hopefully this will turn into a highlight, but for now - learning how to take care of their skin, but more importantly and wayyyyy more stresseful HER hair.  my heart starts beating a little faster when we walk by an African American woman when we are out in public...I just want to tell her - "I promise I'm trying!!  I've read blogs and watched YouTube videos....I'll get better!!"

Mainly we just feel really blessed to be able to parent these kids for however long God would have us do that.  We know we have a lot to learn, and I'm so thankful for great friends who have walked this road before us and can give us support and advice when we need it.  I wonder how many times I will say this throughout this blog, but we could not do this without our community supporting us and just showing up.  God is so good, and it's been an amazing experience so far.

Love you guys!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Well we are officially open!!  We went and signed the final document on Monday afternoon and they even gave us an official plaque to hang on the wall.  She said it takes about a day for the paperwork to go through, so yesterday was our first official day to be on "the list"....which also happened to be our anniversary.  So that was definitely a special anniversary  for us!  I've had a ton of fun in our first 3 years of marriage, and I'm excited to see what God has in store for us next!

So what is next?  More waiting...yay!  The average time for families to get a call is 2-3 weeks, but really there is no telling.  In the meantime, I am enjoying being off for a few weeks before I start working HEROES camp that I work at in the summer.  We are also working on getting that 2nd room ready.  It is all painted and we are just working on filling it and decorating, so I will post pictures when it's ready.  If any one knows of a place where I can get yellow/grey crib bedding, let me know :)  My cousin was super generous in donating her crib, rocker, high chair, and tons of other things!  We are so thankful for her and her desire to care for orphans by supporting well as others who have generously donated their things as well!  Again, we could not to this without our community...we are so blessed!

So I guess my next post could be after we have kids in our home...kinda crazy!  Talk to y'all soon!


Monday, June 4, 2012

saying goodbye is hard

Last week was tough.  For those that don't know, I lost both of my grandparents within 4 days of each other.  As hard as this sounds, it was actually a really good thing...for them.  I miss them so incredibly much, but I'm so, so happy for them.  They get to hang out with Jesus with no more pain and suffering.  Actually they both lived very long, relatively healthy lives with little suffering up until the last couple of years...which I'm so thankful for.  My grandmother was 94 and my grandfather was 97.  I know they were ready to go, and it really couldn't have happened in a better way.  My grandmother went first, and it was after spending a few days with all 4 of her daughters...I definitely think having them there had something to do with her being "ready."  She went very quickly and peacefully...such a blessing!  My grandfather took a bad fall a few days before she died, and that was really hard on his body.  So after my grandmother died, I think that was definitely his cue that it was okay for him to go too.  He wasn't doing well and the hospice nurses said he only had a few days, so I decided to go say goodbye.  That was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I'm thankful that I was able to do it, but man it was tough.  Even knowing where he was going, and how much I knew he was ready to just can't ever prepare or be ready for losing someone that you love.  The hardest part is when I think about how we won't be going to visit them in Austin anymore, no more games of 42 (which my grandfather taught me and my brother when we were young),  no more calendars to give as Christmas presents (it became a tradition for me to make a calendar of the grand kids/great-grand kids each year), and just knowing that they aren't there if I want to pick up the phone and talk to them.  But, that is just me being selfish...wanting them here when they are in a better place.  A place where I can't wait to get to, and I can't wait to see them there.  I hope that I can do as good of a job following Christ here on Earth as they did.  They were missionaries in Brazil, and their heart for mission work was played out  in their lives for sure.  I hope that I can continue that legacy, as we enter in the mission work of foster care.  I wish they were here to see us do that, and help us along the way, and meet "our" kids, but I can't wait to talk about it with them some day.  They also gave me a great example of how to be a teammate to my husband.  They were married 71 years!  I doubt that Dave and I will make it that long (that would mean that I would have to live to be 101 and Dave 107...I don't think either of us wish to live that long!!), but I know that we can be just as committed to our marriage as they were.  I'm sure it was not always easy, but I could always see their love and commitment to being each other's helper and teammate...even up until their last months, and I'm sure days, before they died.  I feel so blessed to have such a great example to follow.  Thanks Vovo and Vava for living out your love of God and love for each other!

I know I will have many more "goodbyes" to say with foster care.  I know it's going to be tough.  The hard part with saying goodbye to the kids will be not knowing what exactly they are going home to and if their parents have really changed.  It makes it so much easier to say goodbye when I know my grandparents are in Heaven, walking with Jesus.  Giving kids back to their bio families may, or may not, be a better place for them...and most likely the latter will be true, unfortunately.  But our hope is that God will have used us to plant a seed in them  and that they will some day come to know Christ and hope for a time when we no longer have to deal with such a sinful, fallen place that can cause even our own parents to not love us enough to take care of us.  My heart breaks for these kids and parents and I know there is no other reason that their situation is what it is other than this - we live in a fallen world.  Although I miss my grandparents, I'm excited that they are no longer living in a place that is groaning for redemption. 

On a brighter note, I also wrapped up my last week of my 1st year as a special education teacher on Friday!  The last 2 weeks were rough, even just with school, but I'm happy to say that I made it through.  It was definitely a year of learning for me, but I'm excited to do it all over again in the fall. 

We ended the week yesterday by sorting shoes for our church's orphan care ministry = fun!  And then headed over to our last training before we are finally licensed tomorrow at noon = awesome, but getting really nervous now!! :)  I'll probably write a quick report on how that goes tomorrow and what exactly that means as far as when we could receive kiddos.  So talk to you again soon!