32 Years

I was a divorced mom of two little boys.

Hubby was a solider in the Army.

The company I was working for had transferred me from Central IL to Southern California.

Hubby’s tour in Germany was wrapping up and he was being stationed at Fort Lewis, WA.

Everything was changing for both of us.

Hubby flew from Germany to Illinois and then from Illinois to California.

The movers came and packed up my apartment to transfer everything to Washington.

We loaded up my little car, put the boys in their car seats and started the drive from California to Illinois.

On November 3, 1985, hubby and I stood side-by-side pledging our love, devotion and commitment to always stand side-by-side through good, bad, thick and thin.

Little did either of us know just how strong we would have to be during our 32 years of marriage.

We raised a son with autism, sitting with him many nights thru seizures and hospital stays.

We survived the teen years and huge challenges with our middle and youngest sons.

We adopted our beautiful daughters.

We buried our youngest son.

We have fostered 8 precious children.

We’ve gone thru financial struggles.

We’ve gone thru job losses and job changes.

We’ve survived numerous moves.

We’ve purchased homes.

We conquered building a house together.

We’ve mourned the loss of parents and grandparents.

We’ve travelled to many parts of the world.

We haven’t always done our best or been at our best, but we have fought and endured thru all the ups and downs.

We have held on tight to our love, devotion and commitment to each other through it all.

I married my best friend.

I married a man, who works hard and loves harder.

Are there regrets?  Maybe a few, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  All we’ve been through has caused us to change and grown stronger in the love we have for each other.

To my hubby . . . .

Thank you for staying with me on this 32 year-long ride.  It has been one of the most thrilling rides of my life and I can only hope that we are able to celebrate at least 32 more.

I share the same song every year because it so perfectly expresses our life together.  We had more than a few people who didn’t want us to marry.  We had more than a few people who didn’t think we would make it.  But here we are, 32 years later still going strong.

Kids

As usual, things are busy in the World of Weeks.

The girls both had orthodontist visits.

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Naomi got a mold taken of her mouth so they can make her an expander.  She just doesn’t have enough room for her teeth to come in.  Hopefully this will prevent the need for braces, although it’s more likely that it will simply reduce the amount of time she’ll need to wear braces, which won’t be needed for a few more years.  She still has several teeth to lose.

 

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Lili, on the other hand, did get braces on her top teeth.  She’s had minimal problems and is taking very good care of her teeth so far.  She will only need to wear them 12-16 months.

 

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Little Bit is growing and changing daily.  She is really working hard on holding her head up and is beginning to use her legs more.  She is not fond of tummy time, but she needs to work on those core muscles.

She is no long swimming in the newborn outfits.  In fact, she fills them out quite nicely.  It won’t be long until they will be put away and saved for other foster babies we might have in the future.

 

We took a trip to a local farm with our homeschool co-op.  The girls fed a long-horn bull, cows, calves, llama, goats, rabbits and chicken.  We were entertained by the llama chasing the calves.  We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day on the farm.

We’re beginning to gear up for the holidays now.  It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 8 weeks away.  Seems like not so long ago we were opening Christmas presents and now we’re planning again.

 

 

Little Bit

Little Bit turns 1 month old today and has been with us for 3 1/2 weeks now.

As of last week, she was 6 lbs 1 oz.  While I don’t know her exactly weight right now, her newborn clothes are fitting better so she has obviously continued to gain.   Don’t get me wrong, she is still swimming in her clothes for the most part, just not as much as last week.  Definitely not as much as when we first got her.  Technically, she came to us the size of a premie and I could have easily put her in premie clothes.  Being maybe a pound away from 6 lbs when she arrived, it didn’t make sense to invest in something she would grow out of so quickly.  Less than three weeks later, she would not be able to wear them.

When she came to us, she had a head full of dark hair with a slight curl.

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She still has a head full of hair, but with more curl.

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Her awake times are becoming more frequent now.  Unfortunately, some of those awake times happen late at night instead of during the day.  Such is life when a newborn is in the house.

She has given me the tiniest of smiles a few times over the past week and tonight she was trying to figure out how her mouth works to form sounds (other than crying).  So cute!!!

I’m quite sure she feels her life is perfect when she is being held and especially when I’m carrying her in the baby wrap.  She loves the coziness and being snuggled up against me while sleeping.

She hasn’t been an overly fussy baby.  She cries to be fed, changed and held.  Just wish all those moments were during daylight hours.  🙂

Lili and Naomi are in love with Little Bit and will argue over who gets to hold her.  This too shall pass.  However, Lili told me that her favorite part of foster care is having babies in the house.  She loves helping to care for them and enjoys watching them grow and change.  She recently tried to change Little Bit’s diaper.  I had to take over as she found it more difficult than changing the diaper of an older infant.

We really have no idea how long Little Bit will be staying with us.  The state pushes very hard to find a family member that will take children who come into foster care.  The family member has to have a background check and pass a home study just like foster parents do, so they don’t hand them over to just anyone.  So far one family member didn’t pass the home study and a couple of days ago I found out that another family member is being considered.

It’s possible that we won’t have her long and saying good-bye is the tough part of foster care.  However, no matter how long she’s here, we’re going to love her and enjoy our time together.

 

 

Finding the Beauty and Peace

Everyone has a different eye when it comes to the beauty of the landscape.

I have friends who regularly post photos on Facebook of open prairies which they see as beauty.  Others share the beauty they see in the mountains, while others only see beauty standing on the beach looking over the ocean.  Some see beauty in forests and others find beauty sitting on the side of a lake.  I know many who find beauty in a city landscape with buildings towering toward the sky.

All of these and more have beauty in their own way, but each of us has a preference.

Hubby and I have often talked about the perfect place for us.  A place where we see beauty in our surroundings.  The place that gives us a deep feeling of peace.  A feeling a tranquility.

Having grown up in Central IL, I have seen beauty in a sunrise or a sunset over the golden fields in the fall.  I’ve been taken aback by the beauty of a freshly fallen snow, especially when the snow begins to sparkle on a bright sunny day.

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My eye sees that beauty, but never in a way that gives me that deep feeling of peace as I gaze over the landscape.

We’ve lived in the Dallas area for almost two years now and have visited many times previous to our move.  I can honestly say that I see no beauty in the massive sea of cars on the toll ways, but I do see beauty coming over a hill and seeing the Dallas skyline shining brightly in the sun.

Yet, there is no deep feeling of peace in that view for me.

I’ve seen beauty sitting by a lake and there is a little sense of peace, but not the deep feeling of peace I desire.

I definitely feel a deeper sense of peace when driving toward the mountains.  My eyes drawn toward their majesty as they reach high into the clouds.  Snow covered mountains are even better.

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The best for me though are the Buttes as I’ve driven thru New Mexico.

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Although I think amazement instead of peace is a much better description of how I feel when I see them.  I feel joy when I see them and disappointment when the disappear in my rearview mirror.

For me though, the deepest sense of peace and calm I feel has and will always be the ocean.  The sound, the smells and feel of the ocean breeze takes me to a place of calm that I don’t feel otherwise.  It seems to do that for Lili as well.

To be even more specific, the Caribbean puts me the most at peace.

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It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting on the beach, sitting on the balcony of a cruise ship, or snorkeling, the blue water of the Caribbean puts me in a state of peacefulness that I can’t explain.

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There are many places that I haven’t visited in the world, so it’s possible that there is another landscape that would bring me the same or better sense of peace, but right now, the Caribbean is the place for me.

Hubby and I have been discussing cancelling our next cruise and vacationing elsewhere.  I must admit, it’s a little difficult for me to imagine giving up my yearly trip to the Caribbean though.

Maybe one day I’ll find myself living in a place where a daily visit to those aqua blue waters is possible.  Although unlikely, a girl can dream of that place of peace in her life.

What about you?  What landscape pulls you into that deep sense of peace and calm?

 

 

3 Weeks and 1 Day Later

We have another foster placement.

On Wednesday night, we added a baby girl to our home.

She is now 8 days old and one of the tiniest babies I’ve ever had, but oh so precious.

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She went to the doctor today and is up to a whopping 5 lbs 8 ozs.  I’m not sure how much she weighed when she was handed to us, but I know she lost weight in the hospital which put her under 5 lbs.  I’m just glad to know she’s gaining, although I expected she probably was since her eating has gotten better in the very short time we’ve had her.

Lili and Naomi are “thrilled” to have a baby in the house.  I’m also happy that she’s here, although feeling pretty tired.  It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve done the up every two hours routine 🙂

Having a newborn in the house has also been a learning experience for the girls.  We’ve been able to talk about babies and how to best meet their needs.  We’re also taking a picture of Baby Girl each day and will put the pictures in a photo album so we can see just how quickly and how much she changes.

So far, so good.

Quiet Phase

Our little foster son left this week to go live with his grandma.  Baby brother wasn’t released from the hospital until a few days after grandma was granted placement of the boys, so our plans for the baby never grew to fruition.

This all happened on Tuesday.  Now it’s Friday and other than a couple of phone calls of possible placements, we currently have no foster children in our care.  Our house has been very quiet the last three days, that’s for sure.

I’m ready for a little more noise and chaos again, although the idea of kids not being removed from their homes is a pleasant thought.  Granted, I realize that is just wishful thinking.  Being bombarded with phone calls about children needing homes gives me mixed feelings.  I’m excited about the possibility of caring for children who need us and at the same time I’m depressed that so many children need us.

Thus is life of a foster parent I suppose.

 

 

History

When I was a child, I had a pen pal.  Her name was Bridgette and she lived in Antwerp, Belgium.  We traded many letters about our lives and even shared photos with each other.

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I also wrote letters to friends and family who lived too far away to see on a regular basis and continued to do this into my adult years.  For a matter-of-fact, when hubby and I started dating, he was home on leave from Germany.  Our courtship with via letters and some phone calls.  We discovered that it was a remarkable way to learn about each other and deepen our relationship.

Letter writing, it seems, is now something to be added to the history books.

Correspondence via hand-written notes sent thru the postal service has been replaced with email and social media.

Sadly, paper photographs seem to be headed into history as well.  Photos are uploaded from smart phones and cameras onto computers and archived into folders.  Photo albums, unfilled with memories from vacations, parties and holidays collect dust on shelves.

It’s not that email and social media is a bad thing, but it is sad to think that my children have not experienced the joy of receiving regular letters in the mail. They have not lived the excitement of opening an envelope to learn about someone’s life in another country. They have not shared their lives, via letters, with a friend or cousin who lives in another state.  They will one day have the letter that hubby and I wrote to each other during our courtship.  They will have letters that I wrote to my pen pal.  They will have letters written by their grandparents.  They will have photo albums with pictures dating back to the 1940’s.  They will be able to physically touch history – their history.

How is it, that we have decided that our future history should be in electronic form?

Why has letter writing and the creation of family photo albums taken a back seat to modern technologies?

Why shouldn’t my children and their children and their children’s children have those experiences and be able to physically though their own history for generations to come?

So much can be learned from letters, cards, notes and photographs.  So much can be shared as we sit with our children reading thru those letters and photo albums.  We can see, smell and touch the paper that was once held in the hands of our grandmother or great-grandmother.

I don’t believe that history via technology can truly replace the personal touch of a hand-written letter or a photograph so carefully selected and placed in a photo album that future generations can share.

I think it’s time to put some of the technology aside and allow my children to experience their family history.  It’s time to let them begin to create their own future history for their children and their children’s children.