Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Butterflies...

I found this quote several years ago when I was at my lowest of emotional lows...
It came and hit me over the head because it was so true, and when I finally made the decision to stop "chasing happiness," happiness found me!

I think of my kids as my "butterflies..."

Going into my second Christmas in Foster/Adopt Land, I've tried to find a special way to remember each of my kids, whether they are in my arms or in my heart at the time.  So each year, I track down butterfly ornaments to add to my Christmas tree.  Something I can look at and remember each child who came into my life over the years.

Christmas number two in my foster/adopt journey, and I have five beautiful butterflies adorning my tree (hopefully there will be a sixth one before Christmas gets here).

My Immobile Munchkin (with me for one week before moving to the best family she and her big sister could have found before they were reunited with their mom almost a year and a half later)...

Angel (lived with me for almost 7 months) and the Booger Bear (my little boy for 10 great months before he went home to his daddy.  I am totally blessed that I still get to love on and spoil him from time to time too! :-)...

Little Miss (my sweet girl for a little over a month) and Itty Bitty (with me for just a couple of days before they were reunited with their daddy)...  I haven't even had a chance to write about the past couple of weeks with Little Miss and Itty Bitty!  I'll have to catch everyone up.  They've been gone for five days, and I am missing Little Miss like crazy right now.  I'm happy that CPS didn't drag out their case though when they decided that their daddy was the right place for them.

So there they are...  My five butterflies...  The "happiness" that found me when I wasn't even looking...  I pray for each of them every day.  I pray for the new little ones who will enter my home in the future.  I pray that I am able to give each of these kids what they need for as long as I am blessed to have them in my life.  And I pray that they know the kind of happiness that they have given me...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Have a Climber

Oh, sweet heck!  This child is going to be the death of me!  Ladies and gentlemen...  We have a climber, and the lengths I have gone to in order to prevent her one-track mind from resulting in bodily injury have been astounding.

Those are the stairs back there.  Originally, I had been using the box and the stroller to block them off, and that worked just fine.  Until today...  Little Miss climbed into, onto, over, and under her stroller more times than I can count.  So, the dining room chair had to come into play.  I can't wait for my dad to get back from their cruise so he can help me get the baby gate installed again.

I love my dining room table.  Unfortunately, it is exactly head height to Little Miss.  Hence, my dining room chairs now act as a baracade in order to prevent head injuries.  They also serve as refuge for the poor cat, who Little Miss just LOVES and can't get enough of.  Kitty Cat Tommie, however, has had more than enough of Little Miss.

I'm in the process of switching bedrooms with Little Miss, and during this morning's rearranging session, she discovered the window sill.  I must have told the child "no" 10,000 times and removed her from the sill as she climbed up into it.  She thinks Mimi's silly and playing a game.  Mimi got smart and pushed the twin bed up next to my queen bed so there is no way she can get to the window sill.  She was not amused.

Not only have I had to shut the doors to both the bathroom and the closet, I've had to add a baby gate because Little Miss has decided to pry open the cabinets as far as they will go with the safety locks, put her little foot into the cabinet, and attempt to get inside the 2 inch slat.  She is just stubborn enough to continue to try it even though it has yet to produce her desired result.

She is killing me...  She is absolutely killing me.  Thankfully, she's played so hard today that I am she is currently enjoying her second nap of the day.  :-)

The Proof...

"So who are these amazingly-gorgeous kids," you might ask?  Only my absolute favorite kiddos in the world...  New baby Little Miss, my twin niece and nephew Ka-Diva and Buddy, and that adorable little guy in the middle...  My Booger Bear!!!  :-)

The past month and a half has been a whirlwind of happiness and excitement with Little Miss (and soon-to-be Itty Bitty) coming into my life.  And just as exciting has been my newfound friendship with Booger's daddy (Kelly) and new mommy (Heaven).  What started with me sending an out-of-the-blue email to Booger's daddy telling him that I had put together a baby book for them and Booger to have, and wishing Booger a happy 2nd birthday, quickly turned into us becoming FaceBook friends, FarmVille buddies, and now weekend playdate partners in crime.

I hadn't seen Booger Bear since the morning I took him to daycare the day of the final court hearing back in March.  I look back now and realize that was probably best for both of us.  The first time I got to see him was a total surprise.  Heaven and Kelly are expecting a baby girl next year, and they had a bunch of 12-18 month little girl clothes that they had received from family that they thought I might be able to use for Little Miss (just goes to show how thoughtful these kids are :).  When they came by to drop them off, I opened the door to see all three of them

Booger Bear came in like he owned the place.  You could tell that he thought that he should know who I was, but that he couldn't quite place me.  He was insanely jealous of Little Miss (who was in my lap the whole time), and he wasn't really sure why.  :-)  He sat there and talked to me for 20 minutes like we were best buddies.  He's a smart little thing...  Talking in full sentences and carrying on intelligent conversations...  We talked about his animals, his love of lizzards, his girlfriend, and how he's glad he wears a diaper because his ferret bites his butt.  :-)

The next weekend, Booger's baby book came in so I asked if the three of them would want to meet at the park to pick it up.  I told them that I'd most likely have the twins with me, and they quickly suggested having a picnic with us and all of the kids.  It was an awesome afternoon!  The twins were really worried that Booger wouldn't remember them, but Heaven did a great job the night before putting together presents for the twins with Booger and talking all about them so he'd know their names.  When they got to the park, Buddy and Ka-Diva asked, "Do you remember us Booger?"  He just smiled really big and said, "Yeah!"  That made them feel so good...  And the fact that the three of them immediately picked up right where they left off was awesome!

Booger trying to get a smile out of Little Miss.  She's a hard sell.  :-)

Feeding the ducks (although Booger was feeding himself more than the ducks)

My little stairsteps...  Deep in thought (and nose-picking)

Buddy and Little Miss are already crazy about each other.  If anyone can get a smile out of her, Buddy can!

Ka-Diva, the little babysitter (she takes her role as "big cousin, soon-to-be big sister" very seriously.  She insisted on holding Booger's hand any time we walked anywhere, and she kept assuring Heaven and me that she wouldn't let him go anywhere dangerous. :-)  You can also see that Little Miss is trying to get Buddy to pay attention to her.  :-)

Just a good pic of Buddy...

Best friends...

Kissin' Cousins...  :-)

We had a great 4-hour day in the park, and Kelly and Heaven said that Booger hasn't been that happy or well-behaved in months.  I think part of them is secretly looking to me to help them get him through the "terrible twos."  He's a handful, and he knows he runs that house.  I don't want to overstep by correcting him or anything (definitely a hard thing to step back when I spent a year doing just that), but they seem to be paying lots of attention when I talked to him about sharing, being gentle, being safe, etc.  They seemed kind of shocked that he listened to me.  :-)  He's a smart kid.  You can actually reason with him and explain the "why" of things.  It was just an awesome day!  Booger kept asking me to hold him, and followed Buddy around like a little puppy dog the way he used to.  And that night, Kelly and Heaven said that his good behavior and total good mood carried on throughout the rest of the day.  :-)

I ended up inviting them to Little Miss' 1st birthday party the next weekend because the visit had gone so well, and they came (despite Kelly being INSANELY allergic to my cat :-)!  My parents and my best friends got to see Booger again for the first time, and he had a blast playing with Buddy, Ka-Diva, and all of the little friends he had when he was a baby.  (I'll be doing a separate post on Little Miss' party, but it was another great day with the people I love the most.)

Kelly, Heaven, and I talk almost every day.  They've even added my mom as a friend on FaceBook and talk to her too!  When I look at them and see how hard they are trying, and know how loved Booger is, it makes me realize that foster care does work.  Yes, they are kids...  But they are really good kids who are doing their very best to love and raise this little boy who I love so much.  And the fact that Heaven has taken him as her own makes me love that girl like crazy!  They've ask my advice on different things, and it makes me feel good to know that they value my opinion when it comes to our little guy.  I am constantly telling them how proud I am of them and how they are doing a great job.

I am so thankful for this new opportunity to be back in my Booger Bear's life...  To be a role model for his parents...  And to be able to be able to see firsthand how my role as Booger's foster mom has helped him, his daddy, and his new mommy become a family.  Foster care can work!  And these kids are the proof!  :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Healing Heart

My life is nothing like I thought it would be when I was younger...  I don't know how many teens or young adults imagine their lives 15-20 years down the road and think, "I plan to be a single foster mom!  I want to love other people's kids and get my heart broken over and over again as I let them go."  I know I sure didn't!  These past two years in Foster/Adopt Land have been one wild and crazy roller coaster ride of emotions.  There have been times when I thought I couldn't do it anymore...  Times when I felt like a complete failure...  Times when it hurt so bad, I just wanted to hide from the world...  When people hear that I'm a foster parent, they inevitably say, "I just couldn't do that!  It would hurt too much to let them go!"  My answer has always been, "Yes, it hurts.  It's horrible.  It's the worst pain I've ever felt.  But it's so worth it."

While that has always been my answer, I'm not sure I ever fully believed it until the past few months.  I went into foster care after many, many prayerful years.  I finally began to trust that God wouldn't have planted this seed in my heart only to leave me hurting and devastated, so I threw myself into loving these kids with my whole heart.  I'm not sure if I can say that I've ever fully felt God's presence until I began this journey.  But I can feel the change within me as more and more time goes on, and I know that can only be His promise to heal the hurt as I love these kids and let them go.  With each child who comes into and out of my life, I've found that I have a stronger sense of peace, a more compassionate heart, and a faith that I had always HOPED to have, but never really knew that I could find.

I look at Little Miss and feel so incredibly blessed to be the one who gets to keep her safe, to teach her new things, and to love her like a mother should.  I am counting the days until Itty Bitty gets out of the hospital and joins us so I can do the same for her. 

At the same time, I feel for their parents.  No matter what their situation is, these are their little girls.  People make mistakes...  Often bad mistakes...  And I have to believe that they can learn from them.  Even if they don't, and their mistakes continue to get the better of them, I can't help but feel for them. 

I know that my sense of empathy and compassion sometimes drives people crazy.  The "natural" reaction to someone hurting or neglecting a child is definitely not one of empathy towards the parents.  But I think that trait in me is partly what makes me a good foster parent.  I want to help the parents.  Especially the parents who so obviously love their children and who want to make positive changes for them.  But even if they aren't able to do that, I think my compassion for them helps my kids in the long-run.  If I'm ever blessed to be able to adopt any of my kids, I think I'll be able to better explain how they came to me in a way that won't leave them feeling abandoned or unwanted.  I hope that I can teach my children to have that sense of empathy and understanding for others.

One thing I do know is that God is healing my heart beyond what I had ever hoped or thought possible.  Yes, it does hurt when my children leave my home and my arms, but His promise to heal that hurt has proven true time and time again.  And after every healing, I find myself more and more excited and filled with the anticipation of loving another one of these children who so desperately need me for however long I'm blessed to have them in my life. 
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