wife to Jake, mommy to my 3 crazy munchkins, Lily (7), Jonah (5.5) and Kate (4). Taking this crazy blessed life one day at a time.

6.28.2015

adoption Q&A

Now that we are getting closer and closer to a placement, I find that I am answering a lot of the same questions, so I thought it would be helpful if I answered some of them for you all. 

Q: International or Domestic adoption?
A: We are adopting through the Department of Children and Families, so our kids will come from right here in Massachusetts. 

Q: What ages/gender/race?
A: We are looking at kids ages 0-5. Race does not matter to us at all, so we are open to anything. As for gender, we just want at least one of them to be a boy :) 

Q: One of them has to be a boy?? Wait, how many kids are you hoping to adopt??
A: We are open to 1-3 kids! We are actually hoping for a sibling group of 2 or 3. We are really feeling called to sibling groups. So often DCF has to break sibling groups up because they can't find families to take them all. So, we are really hoping to be able to keep the siblings together.

DCF has a limit of 6 kids per family, so since we already have 3, we can get up to 3 more.  So, there is a good chance that our family of 5 could soon become a family of 8!

Q: Where are you planning on putting everyone??
A: We currently live in a fairly small ranch on a beautiful corner lot in a fantastic location. We looking into moving, but we kept coming back to the fact that we just love our location too much to move. So, hopefully within a month or two, we will begin construction to add a full second story onto our home. We will also be moving some rooms around on the 1st floor to give us a bigger family room and dining room. It will be our biggest project yet, but the end result will give us 4 bedrooms and a full bath upstairs, and a new living room, new dining room, full bath and one bedroom on the first floor. This, in addition to the 2 rooms in the basement, will give us plenty of space for our growing family.

Q: Do your kids know?
A: Yes! They have been very involved from the beginning. All three of them are so excited about adopting and I know they will be such great big siblings.

Q: You already have 3 kids, why are you adopting?
A: Honestly, we are not adopting for us. We are adopting for them. We are adopting because we have the ability to give these kids a home- to love them, to keep them safe, to give them what they need, to give them a family that loves them unconditionally. We feel that God has called everyone to either 1.) care for these kids in need through adoption or foster care, or 2.) to support the people that are adopting or fostering. We feel led to adopt, so we are following that calling and seeing where it leads us. 

We know this will not be an easy path, but we are so excited to see where it takes us. 



6.20.2015

Thoughts on Adoption: pre-placement.


This past week we officially became approved to be a pre-adoptive home.

These are some of my thoughts on our adoption process pre-placement:

Our adoption journey officially started a little over 2 years ago after we found a 2 year old boy wandering alone in a crowded parking lot (read about that here). It was then that we felt a big push from God to get things rolling, so we sent away for the paperwork to get started. 

The paperwork came. And it sat. and sat. and sat.

We were nervous. Scared. Really scared. And life got in the way. 

That paperwork sat for a year in a bright blue folder, tucked away with our weekly grocery ads and take out menus. 

Finally one day, that paperwork was finished and we waited for the next step. 

The first time we met with a social worker, I was so nervous. The house had never looked so clean. 

We were still slightly terrified, but there was also a little bit of excitment starting to brew. 

Months after that first meeting with a worker, we nervously drove to our first training class. 

After 6 long heartbreaking classes, somehow, the excitement was continuing to build. 

All this time, we had been praying. Praying for God to open doors or close doors. Praying for clarity, for patience, for wisdom. Praying for God to show us, tell us, reveal to us whether or not we should continue to pursue this. 

A few months after the classes ended, and we finished another massive mound of paperwork, our homestudy began. Again, I was way more nervous than I needed to be. But all went well. 

After another few months, we got to read that completed homestudy and this past week were approved. 

As difficult as this entire process is, as heartbreaking as it is, as terrifying as it is, somehow our excitement has only grown.

God has shown us through the past 2 years that this is the path we are to take. 

We know that the hardest is yet to come. We know that since we are adopting through foster care, that we could have these kids for weeks, months, maybe even years and that there is a chance that they may not end up with us forever. 

We know that since we are adopting through foster care that it could be years before these kids officially have our last name. 

We know that it won't be easy. 

But it will be worth it.

And now? Now we are on the verge of meeting some very special children. Children that He already knew would be a part of our family since the beginning of time. 

Every day I wake up wondering if it will be the day we get that phone call or that email. Every Day.

It could be Monday or it could be months down the road. 

We are so excited to meet them. Learn about them. Get to know them. Love them.

We are also terrified. 

But  God has changed our hearts so much over the past 2 years and now, what I picture when I picture adopting? 

Right now, I picture these little kids, standing in our doorway for the first time, Jake and I bending down to welcome them to their new home. I picture Lily, Jonah and Kate jumping up and down and squealing with excitement, hugging everyone and wanting to take their new siblings to show them their rooms. I picture Jake and I crying as we look at our new family. 

I know we will be so scared. But the love and excitement we feel for these kids we haven't even met is so much greater than the fear.

4.10.2015

Raising kids, from an only child's perspective.

So, I'm seeing everywhere today that it is National Sibling Day. 

Naturally, this got me thinking about my lack of siblings and that I didn't have anyone by side while growing up. No side kick, no one to run around and explore with, no one to fight with, no one to complain about our parents to, no brothers, no sisters. 

My being an only child could not be helped; it is what God meant for our family. It was no one's fault my mom got sick while in labor with me. 

For years and years I wished for a little brother. For as long as I can remember, I said I would have a big family when I grew up. "5 kids", I said. Being the silly girl that I was, I even wrote down what I wanted to name my 5 future children, first and middle names.

Of course I had friends (Forest Ave. friends and families will always hold a special place in my heart!) that I could play, explore, ride bikes, roller skate, trade baseball cards and imagine with. But  I felt like there was something so special about having a brother or a sister. You grow up together, get in trouble together, know each other better than anyone else. I wanted that more than anything. 

When I met and started dating Jake, I was thrilled when I learned he is one of 5 kids. Finally, siblings! Future cousins! A big family! All I had ever wanted. A big, tight-knit family. 

I am so thankful for my extended family- I have 3 beautiful, wonderful caring sisters-in-law and one smart, artistic, adventurous brother-in-law. So far, I am one awesome niece and nephew. I only wish we all lived closer to each other! 

Once Jake and I started our own family, even though it was sooner than we had expected, we were already talking about kid #2. It was never a question of "if" we would go for more than one, it was when. 

We decided early on that we wanted our kids close in age. And just like that, we had a 21 month old and a newborn. 

Then, 8 months later, God decided our family needed one more. And before we knew it, we had a 3 year old, 17 month old and a newborn. 

As hard as it was (and is!), I am so thankful that they have each other. It has been so fun watching them grow up together and I pray that as they grow, their bond will only get tighter and they will be great friends. 

However, being an only child raising 3 kids, has it's difficult moments. 

I think one of the biggest things I have had to figure out in regards to parenting more than one child, is how they act towards each other. What is normal sibling behavior? I really had no real first hand experience with this. Constant fighting- normal? Tattling, hitting, arguing- normal? I knew that it was normal for siblings to fight, but how much? 

As an only child, it has been so interesting to me to watch my 3 kids together. Some days they are best friends, other days they don't want anything to do with each other. One minute they are screaming at each other and the next minute they are fully immersed in some game they made up. I see a bond between them that is so special and a love that truly can be only between siblings. I am so thankful that they get to grow up together and will have each other for the rest of their lives. 





2.25.2015

life never slows down {finally an update- job, homeschooling, and adoption}.


Well, it has been months since I last posted anything on here! We have been busy living life and shoveling over 100" of snow in the past month! 


Quite a bit has been happening since I last posted:

We have made great progress on our adoption journey! We have taken all of the classes, reference checks have begun and we are in the process of completing all of the interviews for our home study. This has been such an eye opening experience so far. We know that this is, and will continue to be, quite the adventure and roller coaster ride. We have been praying for guidance and for clarity as we get closer and closer to the time when we will begin looking at and meeting some of the kids. It is incredibly exciting yet also terrifying!  We don't know what the future holds, but we are so excited to possibly bring more little munchkins into the family! 

Another big thing that happened is that in January, Jake changed jobs. He is now a full time Beverly firefighter! This has (and will be) a big step in Jake's career. He is headed off to academy on Monday for 9 weeks. I am anticipating a bumpy transition for the kids, since this will mean less time with Daddy during the week and most likely, a very tired and sore Daddy on the weekends. 


But once academy is over, Jake will be assigned to his Group and will then begin his new schedule, which will be drastically different than what we are used to. He will work 24 hours on, then have 24 hours off, and then work 24 hours on again. Then he will have 5 days off.
That will definitely be an adjustment! 

But because of his new schedule and how much time he has off, we have officially decided to homeschool all 3 kids next school year. Homeschooling Kate this year has been great and she has learned so much- the biggest thing is reading! She is now reading books all on her own and she is so proud. It has been so fun teaching her and watching her learn to read and to see it really start to click just in the past couple of weeks. 

The kids are all excited to try homeschooling next school year. We already ordered our curriculum and everyone in the house can't wait to begin! 

 Jake and I have thought and prayed long and hard over this and we feel that this is the right thing for us next year. We will see how it goes and take it year by year. But for now, we are all really excited to begin our homeschooling adventure!  

In spite of all these big changes going on all around them, the kids are doing great and are really excited about everything going on. Even the massive amounts of snow we've been getting :)

Sledding is the best. 

8.09.2014

Kids chores: our new chore board.

I have been trying to figure out a chore system that would work for our family, especially for our three kids, ages 7.5, 6 and 4.5. 

One that is easy to use, easy to understand, easy to make, but is effective when it comes to actually getting chores done. 

After lots and lots of Pinterest searching and pinning, I found one system that I loved and thought would work well for us. I found it here.

Well, that was about a year ago.....

Today, after much procrastinating, it is finally done! Hooray! 


I started this project off by coming up with a list of chores for the kids. 

Jake and I decided that while chores are to be done because everyone in the family needs to help out around the house, there will also be some extra chores added to give the kids a chance to earn some money. 

(The money they earn will be divided into their 3 jars: Save, Spend and Church)

So, I came up with my list: "Family responsibility" chores and the chores that the kids will earn money for. 

There are lots of family responsibility chores, and for now, just a few money chores. We decided to start off giving the kids each $1 per week if they complete all of their paid chores. 

After I took this picture, I added a $ sign on the clips that are money chores: bathroom, mopping, dusting and trash. 

Each kid gets their own colors: Lily's pins are green, Jonah's are blue and Kate's are pink. These are their chores that never change: put dirty laundry in the basket and clean laundry in drawers, clean up bedrooms, and clean up the backyard at the end of the day. 

The pins that are not colored will rotate each day. So, one day, Jonah will have to take out the trash and bring the bins back up to the house on trash day, Lily will have the chore of cleaning the playroom, or Kate will have to set the table. The next day, the chores rotate. 

I will be adding some seasonal chore clips as well, such as raking leaves and shoveling snow.

My favorite chore that I came up with is the one labeled "Dinner". I came up with the idea that each week, when I am making the weekly shopping list, I will ask each kid what they would like for dinner that week. Each kid gets to pick dinner for one day that week (with some gentle guidance, of course!). Then during the week, when a kid gets the "dinner" chore, they get to help make the dinner they chose. They will help prep dinner, cook dinner and clean up dinner. I think it will be really fun and the kids are most excited about this "chore"! 

Once I finally had my list of chores, I got my supplies ready to make the actual board. 


Jake cut this thin board down to the size I wanted. 

Then I primed it, so it would be ready for the chalkboard paint.


After 2 coats of chalkboard paint, it was ready!


I added this cute string to hang it from. I didn't have a hot glue gun, so I just used super glue to attach it. Hopefully it holds! 

I used chalk to divide the board into three sections, one for each child. 

Then I added some of the pins that I painted and wrote the chores on. 

The pins start out on the top, then once the chore is completed, the kids can move the clip to the bottom. That way, they can easily see what they have finished and what is left to do. 

I am using a little drawstring bag to store the extra chore pins.




I am thrilled it is finally finished. And the kids are equally excited to begin their chores! 

This was very simple to make and didn't require many supplies or tools, but I think that it will be very effective. 

7.27.2014

Update and more big changes coming our way.

This has been a long, unintended break from blogging. 

Part of me misses it. Part of me doesn't. 

We have been busy loving summer and being together. 

It has been a summer of firsts. Our first camping trip. Our first time canoeing. Jonah's first time riding a two-wheeler. Our first time seeing a moose together. And an eagle. The first wedding all three kids were in together. 

We have had an awesome summer so far. Fun camping trips, canoeing, tons of swimming, gardening, bike riding, gymnastics. Lots of fun. But since we got back from our last camping trip, things with the kids have been hard. But, despite the past two weeks being a bit rough, with kids bugging each other and fighting and tattling, every night, when the kids are fast asleep, I go in each of their rooms and look at them. I kiss them. I snuggle them. I smell them. And every single night, I feel like my heart is going to burst with love. No matter how hard the day was, or how great the day was, every night I am reminded that these kids are such a blessing. And my love for them grows every single day. 

I could not imagine my life without them and I will always fight for them. I can not understand how/why some parents do not fight for their children. I will always fight for mine. 

God forgives. He fights for us. He never gives up on us. Even though we deserve nothing, He gives us everything. He loves us and cares for us and listens to us. He is kind and gentle. 
I know I can not even come close to being the type of parent He is, but I pray that I can be more like Him everyday. 

The next 6 months are going to bring a lot of change to this house.
-One big thing that I can not share yet.
-Another thing is the possibility of our family growing. Possibly going from a family of 5 to a family of 6 maybe 7 (!!!) 
-Another thing is deciding about homeschooling. Kate will be "home schooled" for her last year of preschool this coming year (I put homeschooling in quotes because it's just preschool and we will not be using a curriculum with her but rather doing lots of play based learning this next year), and depending on the one thing I can't yet share with you, we will be deciding if we will be homeschooling all 3 beginning the following year.
- And of course, more construction on the house. 

Lots of big things happening soon. 
Please pray with us- for the kids in DCF and for clarity as we move along in the process, that God will make it clear to us the kid(s), if any, He would like to join our family. 
Also for clarity about homeschooling. We are not decided one way or the other, but are seriously discussing switching to homeschooling.
And for patience, lots of it :) 





4.08.2014

Life of a firefighter.

About 2 weeks ago there was a fatal fire in Boston. 2 firefighters died in the fire. 

It is never easy to hear about firefighters dying, especially now that Jake is a full time firefighter. But something about this fire hit us all hard. Really hard. 

Maybe it was the fact that one of the firefighters had 3 young kids, just like us. Maybe because the other firefighter was young, like Jake, and seemed to be exactly like someone he would be great friends with. Maybe because Jake listened to the radio transmission as it was all happening and he heard the mayday calls. Some of it was because of all of that. 

But a lot of it was because this fire showed me that even if you are the best firefighter in the world, there are still things about fire that are uncontrollable. 

Even though Jake takes class after class and knows everything about firefighting and fire and the science of fire and all of that. Even though he is serious about his training and staying fit and healthy. Even though he has all of the right gear and is careful and safe at what he does. Even though he does all of those things, there are still things he can't plan for or prevent. 

That is what I am most afraid of. 

After this fire happened, Jake said to me " I need to know that if I get in a situation like that, I need to know that you and the kids will be okay." 

I was stunned. That is the hardest question I have ever been asked.

I knew that there were risks about being a firefighter, but they never seemed quite so real as they did after that Boston fire. 

How can I tell my husband that my kids and I will be okay if he died in a fire? 

Yes, we would continue to breathe and survive, but I don't think we would ever fully be okay. 

I am not afraid of death. 

But I am afraid of experiencing that kind of unbearable heartache and pain of losing the person I love most in the world. 

I know that God would take care of us and eventually life would go on. Not as normal, but as a new "normal".  

But the thought of something happening to Jake in a fire (or anytime) brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart ache.

 The things that happened in this Boston fire made me realize that as much as you can learn and train and practice, there are still things that can not be controlled. 

It can be a scary life to live.

But despite that, Jake absolutely loves being a firefighter. And we are so proud of him. First responders are real life heroes and we are so thankful for them! 

Please continue to pray for the families and friends of the lost firefighters, and also for the firefighting community. When something happens to one of their brothers, it hits all of them hard. 

******

Daddy is the best.