Foster Parenting is Hard, but so is Parenting

I know I have a wide range of readers on this blog.

Many of you read this because you are foster parents.

Many of you read here because you want to become foster parents.

Many of you read here because you are simply interested to follow our life or you accidentally stumbled upon my blog or you’ve been a long-time family friend who has somehow stuck around over the years.

Well, this post is for the latter group.

I want you to know something. Most of the time when I write, I aim to encourage people by sharing real life- oftentimes, this means opening up about the daily struggles of life and the challenges of being a foster Mom.

As a foster Mom, I often fall into the dangerous pit of self-martyr-dom. OH WOE IS MEEEEEEE. LIFE IS SO HARD. I’VE SACRIFICED SO MUCH FOR THESE KIDS. FOSTER KIDS ARE SO HARD. I WISH PEOPLE WOULD JUST DROP EVERYTHING AND HELP MEEEE.

But the other day it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Yes, foster parenting is hard. 

But so is parenting. 

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5 Things I’ve Learned by Letting Stranger Stay in My Basement

You Can Tell A Lot About Someone by their Trash. This one makes me chuckle every time I clean the apartment because I can tell so much about what someone did in the last 24 hours by seeing what is in the trash. 8 cups of coffee? They must be exhausted. Tylenol and earplugs? Whoops, maybe we were a bit too loud up above last night. Two six packs and a bottle of wine? Ok, ok…I’ll try not to judge. A giant pile of tissues followed by an emptied tissue box? Looks like I’d better sanitize really well. Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Chipotle? I know what they ate for dinner. A billion makeup remover wipes? Hope she was successful in her grad school interview. Cleaning the apartment after someone has left is not my favorite part of hosting strangers in my basement, but it always reminds me that we are all more alike than I thought.

 

….head on over to the Dayton Mom’s Blog to read the rest of the things I’ve learned by letting strangers stay in my basement…

Discipline For the Weak at Heart

Discipline.

The word itself sends shudders of dread into every parent.

Although I am known for being open, authentic and honest, having a conversation about our discipline strategies terrifies me.

We are all so different. We all parent differently, and each family has a unique range of ages, personalities and backgrounds.

Theo and I have always been fairly decent at conflict resolution. We have plenty of conflict, but we can resolve it within a day. But one of our biggest reoccurring conflicts is over how to discipline our children.

It’s mostly a personality thing. I want to be kind and loving and helpful and smooth out any waves of conflict, while Theo wants to use tough love and make sure that the children in his household can learn important lessons and don’t grow up to be like the people he arrests on a daily basis.

Throw in a foster child, who is practically a stranger, who has never had rules and expectations, and who has a background of trauma, abuse and neglect… and we have the perfect storm.

Most of the time, we have absolutely no idea what we are doing. We are so weak and we don’t know how to proceed. Our hearts ache with the brokenness of this world and the brokenness of our children’s hearts. We long to bring them closer to Christ and to discipline so that they can grow up to be functioning adults and understanders of the grace of God.

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The Word of the Year

I used to frown upon people who picked words for the year. So cliche.

But I did it last year, and I’m probably never going back.

Last year I chose the word “Freedom”. I started the year off struggling with anxiety and some depression, and I wanted to work hard to break the bonds of that struggle.

This year as I have reflected on the year ahead, I’m going to admit that I’m a little bit afraid. It’s a year of lot of dedication to Theo’s job, and being a family that supports him. I am hoping that despite the difficult shift, we will be able to have fun as a family and continue in our spirit of adventure.

So, this year I have actually picked two words to represent how I want my year to go:

Endure: To Suffer Patiently or

To Remain In Existence.

 

Well: In a good or satisfactory way

Yes, I realize how grammatically incorrect my words and how redundant “enduring well” is, but it’s what came to me and it is what will motivate me.

I also realize after writing those definitions how martyr-ish my words seem. Internally, it’s exactly the opposite. Instead of being a martyr and complaining about Theo’s shifts and our current situation in life, I want to endure his difficult shifts and our schedule well.

I want to get through this year with patience, with grace and with a good attitude, despite our circumstances.

It also plays a huge role in our fostering journey. I’m weary of the situation and tired of being knee-deep in the messy. I’m struggling to continue on this foster journey, and I need to be constantly reminding myself to endure well.

So what does enduring well mean?

  • A grateful attitude full of Thanksgiving
  • Planning fun family things and working hard around the schedules and shifts
  • Being consistent in attending events/church for my kiddos
  • Taking refuge in the Word of God
  • Coming out on the other side an even stronger and more Christ-like person
  • Becoming closer to my family through intentional time together

 

My verse for the year is Colossians 1:9-14

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

Do you choose a word for the year? What is yours?

Life Lately December

December was quite the month! It seems to have gone by in a complete blur. I went through my pictures and found things that happened in December that I felt like were YEARS ago. Seriously.

We kicked off December by finally going out and buying a tree and getting it decorated. I thought this would be a super fun family activity, but it was a fail. Heavenly was not having any of it, Tera was THRILLED, and Kiah fell and smacked his head on the ground while we were getting the tree. Hot Mess.

I knew after that first day of decorating that the Christmas season was not going to be easy for our Heavenly. I wrote a little bit about it in this blog post. Looking back, I’m so proud of her and how she handled it all, especially since I know it really wasn’t easy for her. Or us, for that matter.

When we started to decorate the tree, it was just working out like I had imagined. I had imagined my kids eyes would be full of wonder and excitement and they would all graciously share ornaments. NOPE. In fact, it was such a disaster that Theo made the executive decision to turn on a Christmas movie and he and I decorated the tree.

Meanwhile, someone draped the tree net over Kiah’s head and to our surprise, he loved it. We would take it off, and he would put it back on. Hilarious, kid.

I then attempted to take a picture of him standing up and he took his first steps! He took a couple steps and then the next day I got him on video taking steps…and now one month later he’s still not even a little bit interested in doing it again. Crawling is his preferred mode of transportation.

This year has been rough for sickness for us! We are on round 3 or 4 of sickness already. Lots of snuggles and carrier rides!

I debated posting this or not…but it’s life. SO, the lice fiasco continued onto my head. Fun times.

Our tree with fancy LED lights…they weren’t really blue in person, more white.

As the attitudes surrounding the holiday ramped up, I noticed a particularly selfish tendencies in myself and my children. I decided to attempt a kindness advent this year, along with some special activities to give my kids something to look forward to each day. I wrote a whole blog on it here. Did it work? EH, debatable. But I will for sure be trying it again next year!

December was our month of musical performances! I had the privilege of attending Heavenly’s orchestra concert at school! I’d say she is one of the best players in her whole class and we are just hoping and praying that we can get her into private lessons sometime soon. She has a real talent and it’s so exciting to be a part of seeing it grow!

Tera just looked so cute this morning I had to take a picture!

One of our fun activities for the month was to go ice skating as a family. It was SO MUCH FUN! Kiah was too young to be out on the ice, so we took turns holding him in the bleachers. It was both Heavenly and Tera’s first time skating and they were both very cautious and didn’t like it much at first, but totally warmed up to it by the end.

 

Just as we were getting ready to exit the rink, Tera took a fall that we immediately knew wasn’t good. She cried out and my Mama heart just sank. We waited an hour or so to see if she would forget about it or stop crying, but she whimper-cried for a good two hours. We got some food and Theo decided to take her in to the nearby Urgent Care.

The doctor at Urgent Care was very concerned about the arm, so she sent them directly to Children’s ER. Children’s ER wasn’t as concerned, but they put it in a soft cast and set up an appointment for a second opinion on Monday. All in all, Theo and Tera spent 8 hours in the waiting rooms and they came home at 1:30 in the morning. Tera was an absolute champ the entire time. I’d say she got Daddy’s cool, calm and collected personality under crisis or scary situations (she certainly didn’t get that from me!! HAHA!)

We took her in on Monday and they put her in a full-arm cast. Tera chose green with red sparkles for Christmas. I have never been so blown away that my own child has so much personality. I mean…green with red sparkles? For Christmas? When did her brain become developed enough to form thoughts like that?

She was so proud of it! Also, I asked the cast lady if there would sparkles all over my house to which she responded, “NO!”. Well. Guess how many sparkles are actually left on that cast? And guess how many sparkles are somewhere in my house?

Heavenly also played a duet at our church for Cookies and Carols. I cannot even express how proud I am of her! And how grateful I am to the people of our church who love her like our own. It meant so much to an 11 year old girl that her pastor would play a duet with her up in front of everyone. And if you ask me, it sounded pretty darn good! (Heavenly on viola and Pastor Paul on violin)

We finished off December by traveling to PA to see my parents and spend Christmas with my family!

My Mom cooked so much good food in the kitchen! Even as a full-grown adult mother, there is nothing like having my own mother take care of me.

We attended my old church on Christmas Eve and it was so much fun!

On our drive home, our van didn’t have heat. It did have air blowing that was warmer than the outside air, but it was still SO COLD.

We had to get back for Theo to go to work and Heavenly still had a couple days before going back to school, so we have tried to do a few fun things. Air Force Museum was first on our list! I could spend so many hours in this place, but I find that my kids like the rapid fly-over method where they see a couple things, touch a couple things and then exit.

 

The weather for the New Year was SO COLD. We did get some snow and the girls have enjoyed sledding in it and playing in it.

We rang in the New Year with Theo working, Heavenly at a party and the two younger ones going to bed early because they weren’t feeling good. I sat on the couch until Theo and Heavenly got home and then we barely made it to midnight.

 

And that’s a wrap on December!

 

Top December Post:

Celebration Struggles