We’ve begun the foster care process.

Some of our paperwork has been completed and I’ve attended two of the required five classes.  I also have about five hours of on-line training to complete.

We were not able to get arrangements made for both hubby and me to attend the first two classes together, so he’ll make them up at a later date.

The agency we’ve signed with came out to take a look at our house and we will have quite a bit of things to take care of before getting our license.  The biggest project is getting screens on all our windows.  We bought the house knowing most of the screens were missing, but it is a requirement for getting our license.  Plus, now that the weather is cooling off a bit, I wouldn’t mind opening some windows from time-to-time🙂

I’m also in redecorating mode.  Or maybe I should say decorating mode.

Today I found a paint color I’m LOVING for our downstairs living room.  I’ve purchased a few things for the walls and am anxious to get the painting done and things hung up.  Seriously, we have NOTHING on our walls yet and we’ve been in the house for almost 5 months now.

Because I have a bad habit of starting multiple projects at once, I’m trying very hard to finish a project before starting another.  The first project on the list is the downstairs bathroom.

This bathroom has two doors.  One inside the house and one that leads to the pool area.  It was another reason we liked this house so much.  However, it was discovered during the home inspection that the door lock was stuck.  A few days after moving into the house, hubby took off the lock and door knob to change it out.  When he opened the door, the bottom of the door fell off.  It was a steel door and the bottom had rusted.  It was still usable, but there was a gap at the bottom, so the door had to be replaced.  Hubby and our BIL took care of that project a few weekends ago.  We now have a fiberglass exterior door, which should last quite some time.

That was just part one of the project though.  The bathroom needs new paint (because I don’t like the current paint color), a new sink with vanity (because I don’t like the pedestal sink) and a new toilet (because the one in there now is short).

I don’t find choosing a paint color simple.  I look thru sample after sample after sample until I find something that I like.  Then I got buy a sample and slap it on the wall to see how I like it in that room.

I found a color I liked and painted it on part of one bathroom walls.  By the next day, I decided it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, so I found another and got a sample to compare.  I painted it on the other half of the wall and on another walls to get a different view.

Now that I’ve compared, I’ve decided I don’t like either one and have chosen yet another color.  I’ll get that sample tomorrow and try it out.

At least I have some pictures posted, so when the room is finally done I can post the finished project.

Second project is Naomi’s room.  If we’re going to continue moving forward with foster care, the girls will need to share a room so we have the space for up to two foster children.  Since Naomi has the bigger of the two rooms, we though it made the most sense to start there.  It will become “The Girls” room and they will be getting bunk beds.

I was looking some today and found one I really like.  The girls like it a lot as well.

The girls each have full-sized beds and this is a full over a full bunk bed.  We can use their existing mattresses and this bed also has a trundle which I like.  That gives us a little extra space for them to have guests over for the night.  I also like the fact it has stairs instead of a ladder.  Plus, each step has a drawer for additional storage.

Obviously, we’ll need to tackle the other bedroom and get it ready for foster children, but that will pretty much be painting for now.

Other than that, life is moving along.

Hubby has been super busy with work lately.  When he’s not traveling or working at the office, he’s home working.  He takes time off for dinner and a little family time, but we don’t feel like we’re seeing a lot of him these days.

The girls and I are also good about staying busy.  Naomi is still taking an acting/drama class and she “loves” it.  Lili started a mixed media class a few weeks ago and is really enjoying that as well.  We also participate in a homeschool co-op that meets weekly.

In their spare time, the girls are enjoying time playing on my new phone.  Both are into the Pokémon Go thing right now, but Snapchat has kept them entertained as well.

Although Lili enjoys taking pictures of her little dog Jagger.


Although I’ve gotten really bad at blogging (Sorry about that), we’re doing pretty well here.

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Teach Them to Be Life-Long Learners

I could create a pretty long list of what I love about homeschooling.  However, this post is specific about today.

Monday mornings we have started going to the park for a couple of hours of play.  While I would love to do this on a daily basis, Mondays are the only day of the week where we typically don’t have anything else going on.  So we head to the park, come home, have lunch, then do school work.

Most days, the girls get thru their school work within a couple of hours.  Some days it take longer.  Then there are days like today.  One struggles and her anxiety gets the best of her.  The other just can’t stay focused.  We try to push thru, but the truth is, neither of the girls can learn well under these circumstances.

Instead of forcing either of them to push thru, we simply ended our day.

As adults, we go thru the same thing.  We can’t focus on work.  We’re feeling stress about work or something outside work that doesn’t allow us to be as productive as we need to be.  We’re tired.  We’re bored.  We need a break.  We need a vacation.

Kids aren’t any different, except they aren’t physically, mentally or emotionally mature enough to push thru.  Sometimes, what they really need is a day to unwind.  They need time to focus on something else.  In some cases, they need more physical activity to shake off the cobwebs.  Many times, they need to ignore the books and learn by being outside.  Maybe they need to go to a museum or the zoo.  Maybe they need to paint or draw or play a board game.

Apparently, living in Texas means that on October 17th, it’s near 90 degrees.  The girls completed as much school work as their bodies and minds would allow and are now very happily swimming and playing in the pool.  They weren’t forced to doing more than they were capable of doing today and I’m not in the least bit worried that they’ll fall behind as a result.  After all, tomorrow is a new day and after a day of additional exercise and hopefully a good night of sleep, they will likely be in a much better place to focus and learn.  If not, we’ll switch it up and doing something more fun and exciting.  Regardless, they still be learning, but they’ll be learning because their minds and bodies are where they need to be to learn.

Flexibility and understanding is what each of them needs to be successful.  After all, my role in all of this is to teach them how to become life-long learners.  That doesn’t require sitting at a table or desk with their noses in book.

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Closing Your Heart

As many of you know, the worst part about our move to Texas was that our foster sons had to be moved to a new foster home.  It’s was highly emotional for all of us and quite honestly, it’s taken months for us to come to grips with those emotions.

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The boys seem to be doing well in their new foster home and I am thankful for that.  It doesn’t dismiss the fact that we still miss them and wish things would have turned out differently for all of us, but sometimes life has other plans.

One thing we’ve learned through our adoption and fostering experiences, is that closing your heart to the most vulnerable in this world, is not something one can easily do.  Once you’ve travelled down this path, it becomes a part of who you are.  As such, we began to discuss whether or not is made sense for our family to pursue fostering here in Texas.

Hubby and I began discussing it after Lili expressed her deep sadness over missing the boys.  While we recognized that she very much enjoyed having little brothers, we didn’t realize how deeply she enjoyed being an older sister.  We knew how Naomi felt because she had been very good about sharing her feelings all along, so hearing Lili talk so emotionally about her feelings made us realize that we needed to at least consider fostering again as a possibility.

Finally, we made our decision and decided to move forward.

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While we’re not in complete agreement on all the details, at the very least we are in agreement that we want to get our foster care license in Texas.  We have a cruise coming up in February and it doesn’t make sense to bring foster children into our home until after the cruise.  In the meantime, what we would like to do is open our home as respite providers for other foster families until we feel we’re ready to make the leap back into full-time foster care.

Foster care in the State of Texas is different that it was in Illinois.  Not completely different, but Texas does seem to micromanage their foster homes.  The team who oversees foster children is much larger in Texas than it was in Illinois.  After all, everything is bigger in Texas, right?!  The licensing process is more complicated.  The list goes on, but the one thing that doesn’t change is the need for more foster homes.  Texas has a shortage of foster parents and the need is high.

So we were unable to close our hearts and are jumping back on the foster care ship again.  Let’s hope the waters aren’t too rough.

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Blog Therapy

Since posting Big Feelings, I have begun to feel a little better.  Not that I don’t still miss the boys, but sharing my sadness and heartbreak has led to some healing.  It has also helped that friends have reached out to me.  Many understand, at least a little of what I’ve been going thru. Hearing from others helps me feel more normal and that I’m not alone.

So I guess it’s official – Blog Therapy works!

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Now I wonder if I’ll be able to let go of the feeling that we should still continue down the path of helping other children in foster care?  Having a heart for those who are most vulnerable is so rewarding, but at time it really sucks!  As my husband has reminded me many times, we can’t help them all.  Still with millions in need, I can’t help but question at what point we must say “stop.”  After all, if we hadn’t left Illinois, we would still have the boys.  Thus, we wouldn’t have stopped.

And the blog therapy continues.


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Big Feelings

I’ve had this blog post rolling around in my head for weeks now.  No pictures.  No famous quote.  Just words.

For the last few years, blogging has been a wonderful way for me to share stories of my life and my family.  It’s a form of social media which allows me to sit, mostly protected, in front of a computer screen sharing whatever information I choose to share.  I can allow my readers to view the life we live from whatever angle I choo0se.  For the most part, I tend to be a private person and I suppose that is one of the reasons I have enjoyed blogging.  I can share as much or as little of my world as I choose and for the most part, I’ve chosen to share the best of the life I live.

It’s hard for me to find that middle ground.  It’s out of fear that I don’t share some of the harder parts of life.  After all, much of my growing up years were spent listening to gossip, hearing hurtful said about me, my family and others.  Lots of blame and finger pointing my direction have caused me to shield myself and my family to avoid going thru any of that again.

Finding that middle ground has been difficult to say the least.  How much should I share?  How much of myself can I put out there?  Yet in those protective moments, I realize that that sometimes it’s important to share.   My experiences in life have shaped who I am.  Learning to accept who I am is the real challenge for me.  I am and will always be a work in progress, but maybe it’s time to begin sharing some of my challenges in life.  Maybe it’s time for me to share some of my big feelings.  Maybe it’s time to allow myself to be a little more vulnerable so I can grow, change and learn to better adapt.

So that’s what I am going to try to do with this post.  I’m going to try to share some big feelings about my move to Texas.

Those who have consistently read my blog posts are very familiar with all the changes that have occurred in the World of Weeks over the past year.  Our move to Texas was certainly a mix of excitement and sadness.

Since moving, I’ve tried to get back into blogging, but I’ve had some pretty big feelings about this move and our life in Texas.  Feelings that are messy and not to share.  Feeling, that really won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but like I said, I don’t like to put myself out there for display.  At the same time, I have felt this need to try and put my thoughts and feelings down as a diary entry of sorts.  To put my feelings in a blog entry allows me to one day go back and see where I was compared to where I will be.  A chance to better understand how these experiences shaped me and lead me to the future me.  Hopefully lead me to the better me.

This story begins 9 months ago when we left Illinois.  Our move made sense logically.    Hubby was offered a wonderful opportunity and to not accept the opportunity that basically fell in his lap just felt wrong.  What also felt wrong though, was leaving behind the two little boys who had become part of our family.  Never in my life have I felt such a huge mix of emotions and I thought after all these months, those emotions wouldn’t be quite as big as they are.  Yes, they are a bit less painful, but still there none-the-less.

I can still so vividly remember the day I picked the boys up from the DCFS office.  Hubby was out-of-town on business and we really weren’t expecting a call so soon.  Yet our licensing worker felt this was the perfect fit for our family, so she called.  I frantically, but unsuccessfully tried to reach hubby and was soon on my way to Wal-Mart to quickly buy a car seat and then heading to pick up the two little boys that were going to stay with us for awhile.   I had no idea how long we would foster these two little guys, but I was committed to them before I had even met them.  I very quickly discovered that this commitment would be far from easy.  My first indication should have been the fact that the then 3-yr-old was so willing to take my hand and get into my car.  Forget the fact that he had met me a few minutes earlier and was now heading off with a complete stranger.  Very happily I might add.

For the next few months, FS1 had complete melt-downs that included hitting walls, hitting me, crying, screaming, spitting, and kicking.  They were complete “out of his mind” episodes and under the circumstances, it was all understandable.  Yet, in the heat of the moment I would question whether or not I was cut out to do this.  This little boy pushed hard to keep us at arms length and at the same time he desired to feel the love and safety of a family.  It was something he had not yet experienced in his young life.  I was far from perfect and wish I would have handled things differently many times, but slowly the meltdowns began to subside and he began to change.  We all did.  The change happened slowly, but it happened none-the-less.

FS2 was  a miserable 8-month-old baby when he came to our home and why shouldn’t he have been.  He was picked up by a complete stranger, put in a car seat where he proceeded to cry from the time we pulled out of the parking lot until we reached, what would become, his new home 40 minutes later.  He had been removed from his parents care just a few days earlier.  He and his brother stayed with a woman who was introduced to me as his “godmother” and he had an ear infection on top of that.  He didn’t smile and showed no  personality.  Except for a few minutes here and there, he refused to sleep for the first 48 hours.  He was scared and trusted no one, but eventually, Lili was able to get him to smile and before long, he began to trust us.  As he began to trust us more, he also began to eat and sleep like a champ.  He became a happy baby with tons of personality.  It took time, but at such a young age, he hadn’t gone thru as much as his brother.  As such, his transformation didn’t take him as long.

Lili and Naomi stepped up to the plate immediately upon the boy’s arrival.  Both of them showed FS1 around the house and engaged him in activity.

Before long, Naomi and FS1 were like brother and sister in everyway.  They played well together and they fought well together :-)  FS1 would play Barbie’s with Naomi and she was happy to play his games with him.  Together, they challenged hubby and me, but they also made us laugh and smile quite often.

Lili was very serious about her big sister role.  She loved helping with FS2 and when he got older and began to walk, she was typically the first one in his room to get him out of bed after his naps.  A few times I walked in to find her changing his diaper or downstairs reading a book to him.  She absolutely loved being his caregiver.

Lili also enjoyed helping FS1 with school work.  He didn’t bring homework home, but he did struggle with school a bit and she loved playing teacher.  On a regular basis she would read him books, do math with him, help him learn his colors or shapes.  Most of the time, she was in her happy place when she was with them.

Challenges are bound to occur when you go from 2 children to 4 children in the house, but we worked thru them as a family and we were a family.  Not that any of this was an easy adjustment, because it wasn’t.  Yet somehow, we all began to accept each other and became a family.

The boys had been with us for 14 months when hubby got the job offer.  It was a mix of excitement and despair.   Knowing that two members of our family would not be moving to Texas with us was so very hard and my only real solace was knowing I could stay in contact with them thru their new foster family.  Although I could pretend to be mostly okay with what was happening, I really had very little peace about it.  It was for that reason I seriously considered staying in Illinois with the girls and the boys until we knew better what would happen with their case.  Only after their case worker convinced me that the case was likely going to continue for quite some time did I semi let go of the idea of staying behind.  No one knew for sure what the outcome would be and ultimately I knew I couldn’t keep the girls away from their daddy indefinitely.  This was just a great opportunity that had terrible timing.

Saying good-bye to the boys was HORRIBLE!!!!  I put the boys in their car seats and sat in the back of the Suburban sobbing as I told the boys good-bye.  FS1 was also sobbing as he realized this really was good-bye.  FS2, oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t coming back, just smiled at me and said, “bye, bye”.  I was beside myself with grief and told hubby he had to take them to their new foster home.  It was just too overwhelming for me and I wasn’t sure I could actually leave them there.

For the next several days, I cried.  I felt numb as I moved about my day preparing for our move.  Looking back, the busyness of the move and the girls, were what got me thru.

I fought the urge to drive to the boy’s new foster home to see them.  Heck, I fought the urge to drive to the new foster home and take them back.  I fought the urge to tell hubby this was all a mistake and we had to stay.  I was a mom grieving the loss of her boys and it was the first time I truly felt sorry for the boys mother.  I understood just what it must have been like for her to say good-bye.

The next several months weren’t much better for me and four  people living in an RV didn’t provide any real privacy.  The shower was the one place I could get away to express the grief I felt.  The tears fell and I would try to wash away the pain and the feelings that I had made a huge mistake.  When I had composed myself, I would get out, dry off, get dressed and move on with my day.  The girls were dealing with their own grief and seeing mommy cry would only cause them to become more upset.  Naomi was struggling.  She would frequently go to bed and cry because she missed the boys so much, especially FS1.  The last thing I wanted to do was upset her even more and seeing me so full of sadness would most certainly add to her pain.

I also didn’t want to upset hubby.  This move was in support of his career and I didn’t want my sadness to add any stress to his life.  Moving to a new state, to pursue a new job was hard enough.  No need to add a sobbing wife to that mix.

I also knew Lili was sad and missed the boys at well, but she seemed to have this way of accepting that we were doing what we felt was best for the family.  She seemed to cling to the fact that the most important thing was that we were together.

Over the next 7 months we moved to a larger RV and then into our new home.  I tried to keep myself and the girls busy with school and activities and a trip out west.  We celebrated Christmas, the girl’s birthdays, got together with family and tried to make new friends.  After all, an active mind and body doesn’t have as much time to focus on loss.  Right?!

July arrived and we headed back to Illinois for a short visit.  I reached out to the boy’s foster mom and asked if we could visit them.  She graciously offered to meet us at a local McDonald’s for a playdate and visit.  I really tried to keep it together, but as soon as I saw them walk thru the door, the tears began to flow.  I was so happy to see them again, although FS1 was a little unsure at first and FS2 didn’t really remember us.

My happiness quickly turned to sadness, anger and regret when their foster mom announced that the judge had ordered that the process to terminate their parents right begin.  My heart sank.  These two little boys, who I loved and missed dearly, were going to lose their bio family and the family who had only had them for 8 months would eventually become their forever family.  We had them for 15 months and I felt as if I had lost them all over again.  On top of that, I was jealous and angry.  I was the one who picked them up at the DCFS office.  I was the one who fought the battle and went thru the really hard stuff.  I was the one who had them the longest.  These were my boys and I was now being told that there was an end in sight and that end had come much sooner than I was lead to believe.  So many big feelings jolted my mind, heart and body with that information and maybe I should have faked happiness for the news that very obviously made this foster mom happy, but I was far from happy and just couldn’t fake it.

Feeling are tricky and messy.  Big feelings are even worse and I had big feelings and sometimes reality just sucks.  The reality of it all is that the person I was most angry with was me.  I could have asked hubby not to accept he new job so we could stay in Illinois.  I could have chosen to stay in Illinois and continue fostering the boys.  What I was going thru was a result of the decisions I had made or chose not to make and in that moment I regretted those decisions.

As I shared the information with hubby, Lili heard the news and then asked if we could adopt the boys.  She never dreamed that wouldn’t be an option and I had to explain to her that current foster families are given the option first.  Even though we had raised them for 15 months, we no longer had that option.  I could see the disappointment and heartache in her face, but she pulled herself together and enjoyed her time with the boys over those few hours we were with them.  We all did.

The following two weeks after that visit, I had three additional children occupying my time.  I loved having them here, while at the same time it was a reminder of how much chaos, laughter and life was missing because the boys weren’t with us.  I reminded myself that there are foster parents who have said good-bye to kids many times and I wondered how they could continue down that path.  I realized that just like me, they grieved.  Unlike me though, they brought other children into their home and while those children didn’t replace the ones no longer with them, they gave foster parents new focus.  My focus was on Lili and Naomi, but I seemed incapable of shutting off that part of me that focused on our loss.

It was also a few weeks after our visit with the boys that Lili’s emotions began to surface and one night she had a complete break down.  She sobbed and sobbed, writhing in emotional pain.  Hubby was with her as she tearfully told him about how much she missed the boys.  She shared about how much she loved being their big sister.  She told him how much she desired to see them grow up and how she secretly hoped that one day we would adopt them and they would be her brothers forever.  She told him that the time they were with us was the happiest time of her life.  She had held in all her feelings and like a volcano, they exploded, spewing tears of anger, sadness and frustration.

As hubby told me what had transpired, tears began welling up.   What had we done?  How could we bring these two precious little boys into our lives only to move away from them?  How could we put our girls thru this pain? How could I put myself thru this pain? Yes, we made our decisions for the right reasons, but even the right reasons are wrong sometimes.

So here we are, nine months later.  A lot has happened over the last 9 months and our lives are moving forward slowly, but the boys have left a hole in my life.  It’s the same for Lili and Naomi.  For hubby, things are a bit different.  He stays occupied with work and our life outside work.  Our move has impacted him, but very differently from the way it’s impacted the girls and me.  We’re trying to work thru it all, but it has been really hard at times.  The fact is, we are not on the same page  and getting back there has had it’s own set of challenges.  Maneuvering thru those challenges takes time and lots of hard work.

I wish I could say I love living in Texas, but honesty is the best policy.  I appreciate the opportunities provided to us here.  Living in the city provides more choices and as a homeschool family it’s been a real treat.  We’ve been able to establish really good doctors and for the first time have found a good therapist to help Lili with her anxiety.  Yet I can’t say I love living here.  It doesn’t feel like home to me.  I still don’t feel settled.

Would we move back to Illinois?  Yes, if it was for the boys, but that chapter in our lives has ended and new chapters are being written.  Moving back is highly unlikely.

Will we become foster parents here in Texas?  Possibly.  It’s something we’ve discussed and while I would jump on that ride again, hubby just isn’t sure he wants to go down that road.

Will we stay in Texas?  For now.  There is always potential that life may take us elsewhere, but we need to stay here and give hubby’s career a chance to grow.  It’s competitive here, but there is more potential for him here than there was for him in Central IL and he needs a chance to see where his career might take him.  It is of benefit to our family to stay here right now.

Hubby is feeling much more settled in his new job.  The girls and I have begun to settle into a new routine and are part of a homeschool group.  We’re busy with weekly field trips and a monthly co-op.  Naomi takes an acting and drama class each week.  Lili is in a bi-weekly science class and begins a monthly art workshop next month.  I continue to look for classes and activities to help the girls stay busy and allow them more opportunities to make new friends, which also helps keep me busy.  Most of all, I am looking forward to our cruise in February and the opportunity to get away for a few days.  A chance to visit a couple new places and spend time enjoying the sun and relaxation.  It’s especially exciting that we’ll have friends and maybe family joining us on the cruise this year.

The big feelings come and go now.  I am trying to learn from my experiences and to accept the choices I have made as I navigate my way thru this life.  Who knows where life full of big emotions it will take me?!!  Only time will tell.





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How Long Will I Love You

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Make Others Happy

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