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.

Fun Festival

A benefit of living in a large metro area, is having a plethora of things to do.  It’s especially fun when one of those activities are almost in your back yard.

About a block behind our house is a park.  This park has four baseball fields), a play ground, pond, and dog parks.  It sits adjacent to one of the public schools so there is a foot ball field and soccer field as well.

We have spent quite a bit of time at the playground since moving here, but last weekend was a festival which is held annually in the park.  Last year it was cancelled due to weather, but this year the weather cooperated (although it was hot and humid).

It is the Lion’s Club Balloon Festival and was a nice little outing for our family.

They had bounce houses and a little farm animal petting zoo for the kids.  There were several food and merchandise vendors.  Live bands played thru the weekend and there was a little train ride (of sorts) for the kids as well.

It was my first time ever being this close to so many hot air balloons and as the sun went down, the balloons were inflated and put on a light show for spectators.

Since we could easily walk to the festival, it was kind of hard to pass up the opportunity to go and I look forward to going back again next year.

 

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Balloon flying by Saturday morning.

 

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Naomi getting ready to take off on the kid’s train ride.  Lili and our foster son went too, but since I can’t put picture of him here, I won’t be able to post that photo.  

 

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Balloon flying over the festival Saturday evening.

 

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Balloon Glow!!!  It was quite a show.
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I loved the reflection of the balloons in the little pond.  The ducks swam around enjoying the show as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things Moved Quickly Around Here

On Monday evening the girls left.

On Tuesday, I was heading back from Illinois and received two calls from our agency with possible placements.  Because I wouldn’t be home for a few more hours, they looked elsewhere.

I arrived home early Tuesday evening and later than evening got another call from our agency.   We accepted the placement, but before our agency could get us approved, another family was selected.

On Wednesday I received two more phone calls, but didn’t accept either placement.

On Thursday, the entire day went by without a call from our agency.  After dinner, our agency called again with another potential placement.  We accepted and around 8:00 p.m. CPS came to our door with a 2-yr-old little boy.  On Monday, we’ll be getting his newborn baby brother from the hospital.

Each placement is special and challenging in different ways.  You begin learning more about the lives of these children as time goes on and my heart breaks for each of them.  No child should endure neglect or abuse, but it happens all too often.

For the little boy we have now (who I’ll AC for privacy), we are quickly figuring out what his home life.  He has learned many things that we’ll be working to correct.  I’ll need to take him in for testing to determine where he is developmentally.  He is getting used to having two older children in his daily life, which is new for him.  Soon, he’ll be getting used to having a baby brother here as well.  He must get used to new rules or possibly rules for the first time.  He is trying to get to know our family in the same way we’re getting to know him.  This is a lot for adults, let alone a two-year-old.

When certain behaviors arise, I have to remind myself that he is two and going thru more than any child should endure right now.

Parenting is challenging.  Foster parenting adds another layer to parenting challenges and we must do our best to make sure this little boy and his brother are given love, stability and a chance to reach their fullest potential while in our care.  We don’t know how long we are given to positively impact these little lives, so we must make the most of each and every day.

Moving On

After getting word that the judge granted placement of our foster daughters to their grandmother, we finally found out last Thursday that they would be moving the following Monday.  To say the timing was bad, would be an understatement as we had plans to go to Galveston and then on to Illinois from there the following day.  It was a trip that couldn’t be rescheduled, so we had to make a decision on whether or hubby stayed home or I stayed with the girls while the other travelled.  Eventually, we decided hubby would stay and I would make the trip.

On Friday morning, we got up early, got dressed, packed the van and got ready to leave.  Our precious foster daughters were still asleep, so I gave them each a kiss and told them good-bye.  Not how I wanted to say good-bye, but waking them was just not an option.

I loaded Lili, Naomi and our Illinois visitors into the van and as I was putting the address in the GPS, hubby walked out with baby girl.  I saw her and tears began rolling down my cheeks.

This baby came to us at 5 months old.  She was a little behind developmentally and going thru withdrawal from exposure to meth.  I was now saying good-bye to an 8-month-old, who was sitting up, scooting herself around on her bottom (like Lili did as a baby), and who had become very attached to us.  She grew and changed so much in three short months and saying good-bye was breaking this momma’s heart into pieces.

I got out of the van with tears streaming down my cheeks and took her from hubby.  I kissed her chubby little cheeks, told her how much I loved and said good-bye.  Then we passed her to the girls so they could say good-bye.

She had absolutely no idea what was going on and wasn’t expecting her life to change yet again.  Yet is was and I could only hope that it was changing for the better since she would be with biological family.

I got everyone settled and climbed back in the van when hubby brought out big sister.  She had woken up and was sitting in the living room when he went back in the house.

Tears again began flowing down my cheeks as I watched her say good-bye to Lili and Naomi.  She was so stoic and then she turned to me.  I picked her up and she began to sob.  She did understand what was about to happen and she had very mixed emotions about it.  She had grown to love us as much as we had grown to love her.  She found her place in our family.  She felt safe, secure and loved.  Now she was saying good-bye to three of members of the family she spent the most time with in the three months she was with us.  I was her mommy for three months and she called me mommy.  Again, I had to send her off hoping her life would somehow be better.

When our son died, someone described the pain of losing a loved one as an open hole in your heart in the shape of that person.  The edges are raw and painful in the beginning.  Then over time the edges began to heal, but that hole remains to never be filled again.

Fortunately though, the heart grows bigger, so there is always room for more love.

My heart grew with these little girls in my life, but now has two more holes.  Pieces of my heart, in the shape of two beautiful little girls have gone with them.

When we got home Tuesday evening, the girls were gone.  The house feels much larger and is very quiet, yet no one can take away the memories I have of the time we were together.

They have moved on and now we wait for our lives to be filled again with other children who need the love and safety of a new home and family.  Not children to replace our precious little girls, but children who will help our hearts grow as we learn to love and accept them into our family.

Foster care means moving on, while never forgetting those who have touched our lives.