Hezekiah James: 9 months

Hezekiah turned 9 months old last week! Could we be any more blessed by this boy?

Weight: The at home scale said 17 pounds.

Eating: Kiah now loves to eat! He still drinks a 5 oz bottle every 3-4 hours, but eats all meals at the table with us. After having zero luck with spoon feeding him, I switched to Baby Led Weaning and it has worked SO WELL for him. He literally eats whatever we are eating as long as it’s not spicy or acidic. It makes a huge mess but it’s actually so much less work for us!

Sleeping: Kiah has dropped his third daily power nap and we are down to two daily naps consistently. Well, when we aren’t running around all day long to other appointments, that is. This poor kid has had more naps interrupted than any of my other kids combined. #ThirdChildProblems

Kiah goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps until the insanely early hour of 5 am. At 5 am, he wakes up and is not only hungry, but completely and totally 100% awake and ready to PLAY.

Clothing/Diapers: He is still sitting pretty comfortably in his 6-9 month clothing and we are using cloth diapers consistently still! I never use them when we go out and since we have been going out SO MUCH lately I find I’m not using them as much.

We are passing his hand-me-downs to his twin cousins who are six month younger, but I’m fairly sure that they will all be in the same size soon. LOL!

Personality: Content. Chill. Calm. Unphased. This baby is literally the most laid-back and content baby I have ever seen. He’s the gift that we needed after Abi and I am not taking it for granted one bit. He’s also starting to get a sense of humor and loves to make us laugh at him! He is starting to really act like a boy, too. If I set him down outside, he will be covered in dirt in less than 30 seconds. He’s also daring in ways that Tera was always cautious, so I foresee my hands being very full in the near future!

New Developments: 

  • Crawling like a speed demon everywhere!
  • Pulling up on furniture and tables, people’s legs and anything that will support him (he can’t get down yet, though)
  • 2 bottom teeth with 2 more top teeth breaking through!

Likes: 

  • His sisters
  • Car Rides
  • Sitting and playing with toys
  • Snuggling
  • Bath Time
  • Being outside
  • Screeching and Making Loud Noises
  • Pretty Much Everything

Dislikes: 

  • Laying down for a diaper change
  • Laying down for a nap when something more exciting is happening
  • Having to wait for bed

What We Are Loving at This Stage: Kiah literally brings our family so much joy. He is the calm in the midst of the chaos, he is the cute in the midst of the crabby and he is the smile at the end of a long day. We just LOVE his personality and all the fun things that he does on a daily basis.

What We Are Struggling with at This Stage: Buddy, could you just sleep in a little? Or maybe wake up at 3 am and go back to sleep. The problem with waking up at 5 am is that by the time I’ve fed you and settled you back down, it’s time for Daddy’s alarm to go off, which means the rest of the house will also be awake. So instead of waking up at 6, I’m getting up at 5 every day.

 

8 months//7 months//6 months//5 months//4 months//3 months//2 months//1 month//Birth Story

Tera Evelynne at 9 months  ((my kids look literally identical))

And a little behind the scenes action with my two assistants….

5 on Friday

Happy Friday!

I was expecting this week to drag by, so the fact that it’s already Friday is very exciting to me! I know that I’m getting this out a little bit late in the day, but I figured better late than never. I’m trying to do a Friday roundup of things I have been loving this week as well as what the Dayton area has to offer this weekend. If you are local, I hope that you are able to check in here on Fridays and see what’s going on!

 

  1. First things first…we probably won’t be doing any local events this weekend because we are going to be celebrating a very special 11 year old up in here!!! Let the 11th birthday celebrations commence!!! I was a little stumped on what to get her for her birthday. A lot of people rolled their eyes and sarcastically said, “Well, just ASK her.” But the problem with 11 year olds is that the thing that they wanted 10 minutes ago is NOT the thing they want tomorrow. But I found this list and it’s basically everything that Heavenly would love to have BOTH yesterday AND tomorrow. So that’s a total win. This is one of the things that she will be getting for her birthday! I can’t wait!
  2. Gratitude List. Theo challenged me to be a little more grateful this week and start writing down every time someone does something kind for us. I tend to take on a woe is me attitude and feel like NOBODY does ANYTHING. Which is obviously false. So Theo told me to start a list, and on the days when I’m feeling particularly lonely, I need to pull out my list and look at the tons of people who do tons of things for me. I shared this idea on Instagram, and many of my Mom friends said that they felt the same way, so if you also feel this way, I challenge you to take out a pen and paper and write down every time someone compliments you, praises you, gives you something small, pays it forward to you or even does something big for you. Then on the lonely days pull it out and remind yourself that you are loved, appreciated and that people do things for you.
  3. The Danger in Expecting Thanks from Our Children and A Day in the Life went live this week! I almost feel like my blog is dying a slow and painful death because I feel like I have no time to spend on it, but I did manage to crank out those two posts this past week!
  4. IT’S FAIR SEASON! I rounded up our local county fair guide over on the Dayton Mom’s Blog! I am SO excited to go to the fair, and we have some amazing ones around these parts plus the Ohio State Fair is just up the road in Columbus!  
  5. Coming up this weekend, our church is hosting a Neighborhood Appreciation Day for free…our face painting is unrivaled and the weather will be perfect! There is also a Diaper ReStash at my favorite store Samojrejme. If anyone local is in the market for cloth diapers, this is the place to go!!!

What are you all up to this weekend?

Day in the Life

One of my favorite posts to look back on is Day in the Life posts. I don’t know if anyone even finds these interesting, but I thought it was about time that I did another one!

A day in my life is somewhat insane, but fairly predictable. If you were to randomly stop at my house I would most likely either be cleaning up a mess, cooking something in the kitchen, reading/doing school with my children or breaking up a fight (#siblings). If I’m not at home doing one of those things, I am most likely at a doctors appointment for Heavenly or at the park with my kids. If you stop by our house in the evening, you will find Theo and I on the couch either reading our books or watching a show on Netflix.

For those of you who are new here, or who need a little refresher on the cast of characters in this little family:

Suzanne: Me! Stay at home Mom.

Theo: My husband. Hardest worker and best Daddy ever!

Heavenly: 10 year old foster daughter (not her real name, I am not allowed to share her name or pictures of her, but she is very much present and included in all the following activities!)

Tera: 2 year old daughter

Kiah: 9 month old son

My day begins at 6:30. Theo and Kiah are already awake and downstairs. I pump and then feed Kiah his first bottle. Theo leaves for the day at 7.

Tera usually gets up around 7, but I am trying hard to shower and get dressed before I even start the day. Otherwise, the whole day passes by and I realize that I haven’t even gotten dressed yet. I also try to really quickly make my bed and tidy up my room before I head downstairs to start the day.

We have eggs everyday for breakfast. Sometimes we are all eating at the same time, but sometimes we eat in stages. I usually try to do my devotions and the kids devotions somewhere during breakfast time. It’s a bit of a hot mess right now because I’m still trying to find a time of the day where it’s JUST ME. So far, I don’t think that time of the day exists unless I wake up at 4 am. So for now, my devotions looks a little bit more interrupted than I would like.

After breakfast, we do “school” every morning. School involves Heavenly doing schoolwork, while Tera does something pre-schoolish. Kiah always takes a nice morning nap. Sometimes I try to work on my blog, but that hasn’t happened in a long, long time.

We have had a lot of appointments for Heavenly, which means a lot of driving around, sitting in waiting rooms, having a 30 minute appointment and then driving back home. Our absolute favorite place has been Michaels House. It is a facility to provide counseling and healing for children who have been through abuse, neglect or trauma. Of course, our reasons for going there were less than ideal, but all three of my kids thought that the play atrium and the aquarium was the coolest thing ever. Plus, the staff gave all three of my children a snack, a bottle of water, a handmade blanket (!!!!!) and a stuffed animal. It’s safe to say that all three kids felt like royalty after we went there!

At this point, it’s lunchtime and we are back home. Lunch is always PB&J, Grilled Cheese or leftovers. Mama ain’t got time for anything else. At this point I’m always exhausted and just ready for a bit of a break.

 

After lunch we have a rest time, and I force all of my children to go to their rooms and do something quiet for two hours. I know…I’m the worst. It’s just…I have to stay sane somehow. During rest time I will work on Heavenly’s paperwork, work on my blog, read a book or watch a show on Netflix. It’s my “me-time” and I don’t allow myself to do chores during this time. Ideally, all three children would sleep or be otherwise entertained for the entire time, but that rarely happens. Here we have one child who is awake and crashing Mommy’s “me-time”.

After rest time is over, it’s time for me to accomplish some chores. It’s usually light housework because let’s be real…my house hasn’t been deep cleaned in months. On this particular day, I folded the laundry, washed the dishes and tidied up around the house a bit. I also worked on my continuing education for our foster license while I did this.

Once I feel like I have a bit of a handle on the state of my house, we usually head out- either to a park, a splash pad or just outside in the yard.

 

We get back home from being out around 5, and I start to make dinner. I usually have these two underfoot and Heavenly likes to do her daily hour of screen time while I’m making dinner. Theo gets home around 5:30 and that’s always such a blessed relief. I often start making dinner at 5 and no matter how hard I try, I feel like we are finally sitting down to dinner around 7. I do not know what takes me so long!

After dinner, we will either go for a family walk, or just have some evening downtime at home. The little ones go to bed at 8, and Theo is usually in charge of their bedtime while Heavenly does the dinner dishes. I am completely done for the day at this point and will usually just crash on the couch. I literally never accomplish a single thing after dinner.

Heavenly stays up until 9 and we will either read books, play a game or watch a show on Hulu or Netflix. Once she goes to bed, Theo and I stay up until 10 watching (currently: Blue Bloods!) a show and eating all the unhealthy snacks that I tell my kids not to eat. Lol. We are in bed between 10 and 10:30 and I usually read (currently: American Wife) until 11.

And that is a day in my current life!

Here are some previous DITL posts I have written:

February 2017 

April 2016 (foster Mom edition)

April 2016

November 2015

July 2015

What two under two really looks like some days

 

 

 

The Danger of Expecting Thanks from Our Children

Doesn’t she know how much I sacrificed for her today? 

These words actually came out of my mouth this past week.

I was talking to my husband about the attitude I was getting from Heavenly after I had spent the whole day at the waterpark as a reward for her completing a set of flashcards.

I wanted her to realize that she should thank me. After all, I sacrificed my time, my energy, my money and my whole day just for her. I gave her an opportunity that she would probably never have had in her life. I bought her a swimsuit, I spent hours with her going over her flashcards and I hauled both my babies to the waterpark for her.

Hello, don’t I deserve a little thanks?

 

No. I don’t.

She is ten years old, and to her…it was an AWESOME day at the waterpark. She doesn’t understand the concept of money and that it was a rather pricey gift to her from us. She doesn’t understand how difficult and stressful it is to haul children around all day long without a set nap time. She doesn’t even fully grasp that Mom’s have feelings and that they need to be loved and praised as well as thanked.

 

On that day, I stood on the edge of a dangerous cliff. It’s a really easy cliff for foster parents to dive off, because when we take in these kids we give them the world, our world. We give them everything that we have and then some, and we so desperately want to be acknowledged and thanked. We start reaching around and patting ourselves on the back, telling ourselves that we are giving them things that they would never get to do in their ‘old life’, and how lucky they are to be with us. We are searching desperately for affirmation, and we expect it from the one place we can’t ask for it: the foster child.

Did Heavenly have a great day? You bet. Will she probably always remember today? I think so! But does she need to thank me and forever cut out all the attitude just because she had a great day? No, she doesn’t. She is still a child and will act like a child on most days of the week- even the days that we get to have a ton of fun at the waterpark.

Maybe one day she will look back and remember the time that she spent in our home. Maybe she will have her own kids one day and wonder how in the world her foster Mom managed to keep up with her schedule while hauling two babies around. Maybe when she gets her first job she will being to fully grasp the concept of money and how much it can cost to go to the waterpark.

But for today, I will let her be a kid. I will gently correct the attitude and continue to foster a spirit of thankfulness in general. But I will not expect or demand thankfulness or perfect behavior after I have been generous. I will not hold it against her if she doesn’t gush thankfulness and I will not give her attitude back because I clearly don’t deserve her attitude.

When we demand this from our children, especially our foster children, we start to build a wall. We are expecting them to have adult emotions with adult responses to situations, and they are not even capable of that. We are dangerously forgetting to let them be kids, and that is often what they need most from their time in our home in the first place.

I have already received so many responses to this post, so thank you for all who are stopping by to read and to share it! Of course, as with all things, this is in moderation. Yes, we must teach our children thankful attitudes. Yes, we are responsible for teaching them how to be grateful and thankful. But that takes time and many, many years.

And, yes….this absolutely applies to biological children, too! My lens is through the experience with my foster daughter, but all of this 100% applies to my biological children, too.

2 Months In: An Update

Someone recently asked me which one has been harder for me: an infant or a pre-teen in foster care.

Both.

Neither.

It’s all just so different. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to compare since I now have two biological children instead of one.

Anytime a family adds a new person to the family there is going to be some chaos. There is going to be some adjustment, some upheaval and some challenging times. There is going to be a new sibling dynamic as well as much additional laughter and personality and joy. It doesn’t matter if this addition is biological, adopted or a complete surprise on your doorstep.

I mean…I am parenting a child who has been through trauma and grief. She is in a new home, with a new language, new food, and new people (two of them being the toddler/infant variety). In addition to parenting a child from a completely different background, with completely different morals, who has been through her fair share of trauma and grief, I am also foster parenting this child. Foster parenting adds a whole new dimension. It means that I have to do paperwork for pretty much every single action that I perform- where I drive with her, where I take her, who I leave her with, what medications I have given her (yes, even TUMS and or Tylenol), what she mentioned to me in her dreams, etc. It means that within 30 days of having Heavenly, I have to take her to a pediatrician, an eye doctor, a dentist, a counselor and all of her visits with her Mom (twice weekly). Except I can’t do any of those appointments until her insurance card comes through (spoiler alert: We are on day 53 and I still don’t have the insurance card). I go to each appointment and get asked endless questions and have to produce all the important papers on demand. I need to record every appointment and every discipline strategy Theo and I have used. I have to make sure that she is eating, sleeping and processing all things “correctly”. I have to make sure that she is ready to enter the 6th grade in the fall- we have a lot of ground to make up! I have applied for a tutor and I’m still waiting for that to come through.

I’ve noticed three distinct phases to fostering. I didn’t learn this in class and I have no idea if I’m scientifically correct, but this is just what I have observed from my own experience. Each stage seems to last a different length of time depending on all the different factors.

First, comes the honeymoon stage. I open the door to this child, and they step into my home. Everyone is on their best behavior, including us adults. We feel like this was 100% the right thing, and we feel like we are doing things for the greater good. We feel like we matter! We are making a difference! We are life-changers, difference makers!  We have great hope that this situation will turn out differently from all the others and the dream reunion/adoption/case plan is full swing! How could we ever do anything else with our lives? This is GRAND! This is FABULOUS! LONG LIVE FOSTERING.

And then the second stage hits- the nightmare stage. Suddenly, everyone starts to feel comfortable- comfortable enough to wonder if it’s actually reality. Boundaries are pushed. Rules are broken, and enforced, and broken again. The new house and bedroom that once seemed big and exciting now has walls that are closing in. The kids that were SO cute at the beginning are now nothing but annoying. Tempers begin to flare. Trust is broken. The case plan is falling apart. This isn’t fun anymore, and we all want out. I want to give up so badly. The situation seems so broken, so hopeless. Why are we doing this again? When will this end? This is pretty much horrible. WHY ARE WE FOSTER PARENTS?

Then, finally, the third stage- the family stage. The stage where the trust has been broken, but the fences have been mended. The children know that we are not going anywhere, and we have finally figured out their personalities and what makes them tick. We have found coping strategies and we are finally in a good place with the case workers and the case plan and the daily and weekly schedules. It’s still not easy- parenting never is. But it’s not the terrible, horrible, darkness of that second stage. It’s a consistent, loving, steady stage that involves not just tears but also joy and laughter.

I guess there is also a *bonus stage* in foster care- the final stage, the goodbye. But that’s a whole different story for a whole different time.

I’m writing this post very much from the second stage. The last two weeks have been HARD. So many different situations have arisen where the boundaries are being pushed, shoved and trampled on. The tempers have flared and the fights have happened. The hard questions have rolled off our tongues and we are often left in a state of hopelessness and lonliness. We are exhausted. Several times a day the actual thought of giving up crosses my mind. Wouldn’t that just be easier? But everyday I have to remind myself that in the long run, that is not what would be best. Not for anybody involved. Not for me and Theo, not for the kids, not for Heavenly and not for her family. So we press on.

 

Foster care is hard, but it’s not all terrible. We have this beautiful, sweet and hilarious ten year old living in our home. I have the privilege of spending my days with all three of these beautiful gifts. Sometimes I just need to step back and look at this life that I have- I am blessed beyond measure.

So that’s where we are, two months in.

P.S. On Facebook and Instagram, I recently posted that July is Heavenly’s birthday month! In order to make her month special, I am asking my social media tribe to send birthday cards to her! This original goal of overwhelming her with birthday cards in the mailbox has now turned into a quest to receive a birthday card from all 50 states! Let me know if you would like to send her a birthday card!