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.

1.16.2017

"The Talk"

After my most recent post on Facebook, many of you asked if I would write a blog post on how we talk to our kids about sex. 

Like most parents, I was nervous about beginning that conversation. Where do you even begin??

Then I came across this book series:

After looking into it, I had heard and read so many good things. Then I just happened to find all 4 books at our library sale for .50 each! 

Jake and I read through the first two books, and although it can be a bit cheesy at times, overall we really liked the message that it sends about God, sex and our bodies. 

The books are done by age, so book one is ages 3-5, book two is 5-8, book three is 8-11 and book four is 11-14. 

The books start out slow- you aren't giving your kid all the info right in book one. Book one talks more about body parts and what makes us male and female. By the end of book two, you know what it takes to make a baby. I don't know all that is in book three yet because I haven't gotten that far.

Since I didn't find out about these books until just over a year ago, we didn't get to start them at the recommended age, but it still worked out well. 

We decided to read the book together as a family, instead of doing it one on one. The kids were 6, 7 and 9.

We read book one and then a little later, book two, with the kids. These books are not meant to be the only source of information. They are meant to start conversations, which is exactly what it did for us. The kids asked lots of great questions and were surprisingly very open about talking through all these new things they were learning and figuring out. 

Jake and I have been very open and honest with them and encourage them to ask questions or talk anytime they want to. We don't want them to feel like it's an embarrassing subject, but one that they should be able to talk about with us because that is how God created us. We do stress with them that while it is not embarrassing, it is private, so it's not something they should be discussing with friends just yet. 

The readings and conversations and questions went really well, even though there were many giggles (from the kids and from me!). Props to Jake who is amazing at staying calm and composed. Because of this, he does all the reading- I wouldn't be able to make it through a book- anytime the kids start to giggle, I can't help but join right in!

Well, since then, we had two more kids join our family this summer. Jake and I realized that we needed to have this conversation all over again! So the other week, we decided to pull out book one again and start the conversation with all 5 big kids, ages 10, 9, 8, 7 and 7, together. 

We read, we talked, we asked questions, we watched youtube videos showing a woman's belly growing each week of pregnancy, we showed them pictures of a newborn baby with it's umbilical cord still attached and we talked and talked and talked. The talking and questions takes up way more time than the actual reading, which I think is a good thing. 

Last night, we read book two with them and I have been surprised each time by how well it goes. Yes, the kids think it's weird and funny, and they ask SO many hilarious questions but they also ask really good questions that have led to a lot of other really great conversations such as politics, faith, abortion, miscarriage... and it was actually really cool to have such mature conversations with our 5 big kids. 

We finished book two and will read book three, which is quite a bit longer than the first two books, with the older three in the next few weeks. 

I know these books are not for everyone, but we have really enjoyed them and it has opened the door to many healthy conversations with our kids about a subject that can be very difficult to discuss. If anyone local ever wants to take a look at ours before buying, just let me know! I hope this was helpful to some of you :) 

My one piece of advice is to start the conversation early. It feels a lot less like an embarrassing secret if you start things while they are young. and then as they grow, it's a lot easier to talk about. 

Here are some funny quotes from our conversations:

- "womb hole" instead of vagina
- "Do you fall asleep during sex?"
- "What do you make for breakfast after?"
- " Can you have sex during the day?? You CAN???"
- " Do you only have sex on your anniversary?" 
- "How do you know when it's over?"

and my favorite:

" So, do you ask your husband if he wants to have sex? Do you say ' Do you want to have sex today?' What if he says no??"
Jake: " That will never happen" 
LOL!




1.06.2017

Sometimes words just aren't enough

A lot has happened since my last post, but I have't felt drawn to this space in a long time. It's not that I haven't had anything to write about; goodness, I could write a novel about all that we have been through in the past few months. But I haven't felt inspired, haven't felt like I have had a good message to share. I mean, who wants to read about the day to day life of a crazy family of 8? I feel like when I write, there's often a deeper meaning behind it. And I haven't felt that in a while. 

But over the past few weeks, I have felt something brewing in me, something I needed to get out in words. Except, I'm not sure if the right words will come or if the right message will be conveyed. 

But I need to try

---------------

This Christmas was conflicting for me. 

On one hand, it was magical- it was our first Christmas with C and S,our second with Sam and although most days are still really hard, it was really special to take part in all of our Christmas traditions with our two new ones. 

On the other hand, it has been heartbreaking. Christmas Eve at our church was amazing- celebrating Jesus' birth and everything that means. Even though I know what Christmas is all about, and have heard it my entire life, this night was different. 

The message that night woke up something deep inside of me. 

God is working in me, I can feel it. He is trying to show me things, trying to help me realize things, helping me connect the dots. And I want Him to. But this process is so painful. It is making me realize things I never wanted to realize. It is making me think about things I have tried to forget. 

I know I need this, but it hurts. It really hurts.

But I'm realizing that that's okay. 

It sounds a little silly, but I am finally starting to really understand what the meaning of Christmas is.

It's not just about a baby; it's about Love. 

We've all heard it before, right? 
"For God so loved the world that he sent his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life"

But really, what does that mean?? 

It means this: 

Actions speak louder than words.

What you do means more than what you say. 

He loves me SO fiercely, that HE CAME. He left Heaven and showed up on my doorstep with his arms open wide and when I opened the door He said " My daughter, I have missed you so much. I know I tell you that I love you, and that I wrote it down for you in a book, but I just love you so much that I had to come. I needed to come here for you because you need me. I showed up because words just aren't enough."

There have been many people throughout my entire life that used the words "I love you", but I am still waiting for them to show up.

And that is what is cutting me so deep. 

But understanding that my God loves me so much that He showed up? 

That is Love. That is Christmas.




9.20.2016

From homeschooling to public school

I have had quite a few people ask me about our school year this year, so I thought I'd give a little update. 

As most of you know by now, we had 2 foster children, 7 and 9, come to live with us over the summer. Before they came, we were fully committed to homeschooling Lily, Jonah and Kate again this year. Curriculum was already bought and organized in our homeschool room and Lily  had even  started her new math book already; she was too excited to wait until the start of the school year! ( I still have it if anyone is interested in a grade 4 math curriculum....)

C and S came to us as an emergency placement. We were not expecting to have any more children come to live with us for a while, if at all, because of where we were in the process with Sam. C and S coming was completely unexpected, and even though we were very slow to say 'yes' to them, we felt God's hand in the situation and knew that they were meant to be with us for this time. 

Foster children can not be homeschooled, so saying yes to them meant that we needed to have a discussion about schooling and that we had to be open to possibly changing the plans we had for the school year. 

After being a family of 8 for a couple of weeks, we decided that it would be best to send all of the kids to public school for this year. 

I was relieved, because the thought of homeschooling the 3, and then having Sam at home when he is becoming more mobile by the day, and then having 2 in school, was really stressing me out. But I was also really really disappointed. Our school year last year was really difficult, but it was also really great and the kids LOVED being homeschooled. 

We told the kids our decision about school and Lily and Jonah both cried. A lot. Kate on the other hand, was thrilled, since she's the only one that has never been to public school before. 

We talked to the kids about it throughout the summer and little by little they were becoming more okay with the idea. 

Meanwhile, I was having doubts and was feeling really sad about sending them to school, especially about Kate since she's been home with me for so long. I was really questioning whether or not this was the best choice for us. 

We all went to 'new student night' at the school and that really sparked a lot of excitement in the kids. They saw their classrooms and their desks and cubbies. They saw their friends names and who was in their class. They toured the school and met the principal. For me, it was so strange to be back in that setting and especially to see Kate's name on the desk in her classroom. But after that night, the kids couldn't wait to start! 

This week is their 4th week in school and so far, it has been GREAT! I really didn't know what to expect, having 2 kids that were starting a brand new school (after joining our family less than 2 months before),  2 kids going back to public after being homeschooled, and 1 that had never been to public school before. 

All of the kids love their teachers (and so do I!), Kate is thrilled to be in school, C and S are making friends and Lily and Jonah are enjoying seeing their old friends again. 

Even up until the first day of school, I was still feeling really sad about not homeschooling and was praying hard that this year would be a positive year for all of them. But after that first day, I have felt so much better. The kids are all happy, they are getting a break from each other and get to be around new and old friends, Jake and I are getting lots of time with Sam which has been just awesome, and Jake and I are getting time together, which has really made a huge difference in our days, our weeks and in our marriage! We have even started going out on weekly breakfast or lunch dates with Sam and it has been wonderful. 

So, for now, I can say that this year, sending the kids back has been the right choice for us. We will see how much the kids are still loving school once the homework starts coming home, but for now, I am thankful that we are off to a great start and I feel peace about sending them off to school instead of guilt.

I don't know what we will do next year, but we will see how this year goes and we will take it year by year. I am thankful that we do live in a town with a great school system and that we have the choice to do what is best for our kids each year. 




8.02.2016

One Step Closer

I don't remember a time in my life where I have cried happy tears and sad tears at the same time. 

Today was a big day for us. 

Today, our baby boy became legally free for adoption. 

When I got the call from the social worker, I cried. When she called a second time, I cried again. 

At first they were only happy tears. 

From our perspective, we have been waiting 357 days for this. We have loved this boy as our own from day one and each day we love him even more. He is a part of our family and we can't wait for him to be ours forever. 

But then they became sad tears.

From their perspective, they are about to lose their son. Even though he has us, our boy has lost his mom and dad. Despite the good that comes from adoption, there is so much loss and heartache. No matter what happened to his mom and dad, whether they willing gave him up or tried their hardest to get him back, that family is losing their son, their grandson, their nephew, their brother. And he is losing them. 

Yes, he is gaining a lot (and so are we!!), but there is no denying the loss that accompanies adoption.

So, today there were happy tears and there were sad tears. 

But we are one step closer to adoption day. 

What is next?

30 days. 

Birth mom has 30 days to appeal. 

If she does, it bumps the adoption out a while, maybe a long while (think 2 years).

If she does not, he will be ours this fall. 

30 days. This is our last major hurdle. 

Part of me really can't believe it. 

I am so thankful. 

Even though this process is incredibly difficult, I am so thankful for that little boy and who he is and what he  brings to our family. I'm thankful for a faithful God that has been with us every step of the way. I am thankful for the outpouring of love and support from all of you. 

Stay tuned- 30 days is going to go by in the blink of an eye!

(and for those of you that saw my post on facebook, don't get too attached to his name- even though we like it, it will  be changing soon :)  )








7.02.2016

...and then there were six. {our third foster care experince}


As of yesterday afternoon, we are now a family of 8. 

Last week, we got a desperate email from DCF, asking if we would be able to take in a pair of siblings; an emergency placement. 

Our first thought was "no way". 

We were not looking to take on more kids just yet, especially because of where we are in the process with baby J. But we asked for some more information on the kids. 

After learning a bit of their story and their background, Jake and I were feeling very conflicted. We wanted to take them, but we were (okay, mostly I was) really scared about taking on 6 kids. I mean, 6 kids is a lot of kids! 

All week last week I had a knot in my stomach and was feeling nervous every day. We were praying and praying about it and decided that we couldn't make a decision without meeting them first. We needed to see them in person, see how they acted around each other and around our kids. 

So we arranged a playdate for Sunday. All of the kids thought we were just meeting to play with new friends. We spent 3+ hours playing and talking and it could not have gone any better. As soon as I saw them, the nerves and the knot in my stomach were gone.

Jake and I weren't even home from the playdate before we knew what our decision was. 

We told our 3 that night and their reaction was priceless. They all gasped while covering their mouths  with their hands, and were grinning and giggling like crazy. The way they open their hearts and love so easily is just incredible.

We spent last week prepping the house for 2 more kids, rearranging kids rooms, building beds, buying towels and toothbrushes and journals (among other things). 

Yesterday, Jake went down with the social worker to pick them up. It was not easy waiting those few hours for them to come! 

S and C finally came and so far things have gone so much better than I expected. 

We are all quickly falling in love with these two. 

I know that we are going to have rough days. I am sure after a couple of weeks here, when they start to feel more comfortable, we will see things that we aren't seeing now. And that's okay, we expect that. 

We went into this with the mindset that this is just temporary- until they are matched with a pre-adoptive family. But I have a feeling what we thought would be just temporary, just might end up being forever. 

I love God's sense of humor. We started this whole adoption journey looking for a sibling group between age 0-5. And what do we end up with? A newborn boy and a boy/girl sibling group age 9 and 6! 

So for now, we have:
Lily-9
S-9
Jonah-8
C-6.5
Kate-6.5
Baby J-11 months  

Life has just gotten much crazier but so far, we are loving it. 


Our first meeting

 I always loved this table but now I am really thankful for it!!

4.25.2016

adoption update

Well, since my last post, quite a bit has happened. 

For the past 8 months, DCF has been working to reunite J with his birth family. 

It was 8 months of uncertainty about whether he would stay with us or be reunited, but it was also 8 months of loving on the sweetest little boy. 

A few weeks ago we found out that J's goal changed from reunification to adoption. 

This means that they are no longer trying to reunite him with his birth family and are instead working to find him a forever family. 

Since this change, I have had a lot of questions about what's next for us and for him. 

So, here's what has to happen before we would be able to adopt him:

- J is assigned an adoption worker
- lots of paperwork needs to be filled out
- DCF is searching for other members of J's family that could possibly adopt him. (Biological family comes before foster family)
- If they find possible family members for J, that family would need to go through and pass everything that we went through to become a pre-adoptive home.
-If no family is found, then we would be named the pre-adoptive family for J. 
- We work with social workers to see if we can agree on open adoption terms with birth family (if it's looking like an open adoption case.)
- Then lawyers and social workers go to court to try to terminate parental rights. 
- If everyone has agreed to open adoption terms, then after rights are terminated, we schedule the court date for the adoption finalization. 
- If terms were not agreed on for the open adoption or if judge wants a closed adoption, birth family has 30 days to appeal. 
- An appeal would prolong this entire process 1.5-2 years (!!!!)

So, right now, that is what we are facing. It is quite the process! But it is worth every second we get to spend with J. 

So many people tell us and other foster/adoptive parents that they "couldn't do it." That they'd "get too attached." 

While it has been hard falling in love with this baby and not knowing his future with us, can't we say the same thing about our biological children? We don't know how long we have with them or what their future holds. But we love them unconditionally, provide for them, meet their needs, have fun with them and live each day not knowing what the next day holds. 

Same with foster care. These kids need a family that will just love them and provide for them and keep them safe. They need you to get attached! And they need to attach to you! Even if you don't know how long they will be with you.
If J were to leave our family, I imagine I would feel the same as if one of my biological children suddenly left our family. Foster child, adoptive child, biological child- it doesn't matter- you don't know what God has in store, so don't let that stop you if you feel led to pursue foster care or adoption.

This process, although very hard, has been life changing for us and we have grown as a family and individually in so many ways. 

Not once have I regretted taking J into our home. 

And even if we all end up heartbroken at the end of this, I can guarantee all 6 of us wouldn't trade these months with J for anything. 

That being said, in our situation, things are looking promising that he will end up with us. We won't know for sure for a few months still, but we are very hopeful. 

Thank you to everyone that has been praying for us and supporting us through this journey- we are so very thankful for you! 


3.18.2016

"Trust Me"

Everyone knows that the foster care/adoption process is not easy.

We knew that going into it. We heard it in our training classes, from our friends, from our family, from our social worker and from strangers.

But I can tell you, it's harder than you think. It's harder than I thought it would be.

It's hard filling out all the paperwork and going through the training classes and meetings, but you get through it and move on to the next step.

It's hard waiting and waiting for an email or phone call about a potential placement. It's even harder saying "no" when you know in your heart it isn't the right fit.

It's hard when you say "yes", but then they pick a different family.

It's hard when you finally get that call and the answer is yes and suddenly your world has changed.

It's hard, so so hard, when every Thursday, reality smacks you in the face when you talk to his social worker about visits with birth parents.

It's hard not yet knowing what will happen.

This journey is so much more difficult than I thought it would be. And I'm not sure you can fully understand it until you are experiencing it.

A few months ago, I was feeling very anxious about everything. It was a really rough visit with birth mom for me and I was feeling really discouraged when I heard a voice say, "Trust Me."

That was it.

"Trust Me."

And since then, I have felt peace.

This is the only time in my life where I am certain it was God speaking to me and I have never questioned that.

"Trust Me."

Things are starting to happen in J's case and over the next few months, more of his future will be decided. Will he stay or will he go?

"Trust Me."

The thing that I realize about these words, trust me, is that God is not telling me that J will stay. He is not telling me that he will go.

He is telling me through two simple words, that whatever happens with J, He is in control. He loves me, He loves J, He loves my family, and whatever happens in the end, will bring Him glory.

"Trust Me."

Knowing that we will be finding out in the coming months about J's future, I have felt myself begin to get anxious again. But remembering "Trust Me" and how I felt when I first heard those words, I feel at peace again, but it is still so hard.

We love this baby more than words can express. Please pray for his future, the next few months with meetings and court dates coming up, pray for us, for patience, for understand, for wisdom, and to continue to trust.