2017 Coming to an End

As 2017 comes to an end, we reflect on all that has happened during the last year.

 

Dave celebrated 11 years with Microsoft and has done a fair amount of travel  – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, and Atlanta a couple different times plus a couple other cities.  All trips were to meet with customers, so not any time for sight-seeing or visiting friends and family in those areas.

He ended 2016 in the hospital and welcomed in 2017 in the hospital.  All the same stay due to severe back problems.  It’s been an ongoing thing for several years with doctors telling him it was arthritis.  This time he met with a back doctor who was able to determine that it’s not arthritis but disc degeneration in his low back.  He will eventually need back surgery, but several times during the year he’s gone in for back injections which have helped.  

Since his doctor was able to help him with his back issues, he asked if there was anything he could do about his chronic headaches.  Something he’s had for 20+ years and no doctor has been able to determine the cause.  Again, the back doctor discovered that he has a slipped disc in his upper spine that has caused the severe headaches all these years.  To avoid surgery, they’ve been trying injections.  Unfortunately, they haven’t been as successful as the back injections, so 2018 may include surgery for him.  

Debbie continues to be a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling the girls and staying busy with all their activities.  She helped start a co-op with some other homeschool moms and has made several new friends over the past year. 

Lili is 10 and doing 5th grade work this year.  She continues to take art classes and is in a Jr. Master Naturalist program thru the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  She also got braces this year and is looking much older these days.  

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Naomi is 8 and doing 3rd grade work this year.  She continues to take acting classes and very much enjoys dancing and singing.  She too has had some orthodontic work done.  No braces yet, but had to get an expander to widen her pallet so her permanent teeth have room in her mouth.  Braces are likely in her future as well, so this is step 1 of 2.

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Obviously, both girls are very much into the Arts and we are thrilled they have found things they love.  Both have participated in the Variety Shows at Frisco School of Performing Arts.  You can see them in the latest show by clicking here.  And here is Lili’s artwork from that show. 

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She had another class before the Holiday break and thru together this Dr. Seuss inspired piece.

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Lili and Naomi are so very different from each other and are both amazing, talented young ladies. 

Debbie and the girls are active with their homeschool group, co-op and regular trips around the DFW area for educational opportunities. 

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In January, we took another cruise sailing to Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. 

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It’s always nice to get away and spend time connecting more closely with each other. 

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We had the added pleasure of friends joining us on the cruise.  It was their first, but hopefully not our last cruise together.

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Over the summer Debbie and the girl travelled to Illinois to visit friends and family.  We brought friends back home with us for a couple of weeks before making the trip back to Illinois via Galveston. 

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Yes, we realize that Galveston isn’t on the way to Illinois from Dallas, but our visitors had never seen the ocean.  After spending a few hours at the beach, we headed east thru Louisiana and then north thru Mississippi toward Illinois.  It was a nice visit, and all had so much fun at the beach that we plan to go back next year.  Hopefully we can make it a longer beach vacation.

We also attended a family reunion and were able to visit with family we haven’t seen in many years.  It was so nice to catch up and while I wish visits could happen more often, being spread across the U.S. makes it very difficult.  Fortunately, we do have family on both sides here in Texas and are able to have regular visits with them. 

On April 29th, we became a licensed as a Texas foster home.  Within three days of being licensed we had a 5-month-old and her 5-year-old sister.  They were with us for 3 months before leaving to go live with their grandmother. 

A few weeks later we had a 2-year-old boy, who was only with us for 2 ½ weeks before he went on to live with his grandmother. 

On September 28th we got a 6-day-old baby girl who is still with us and will be here at least until the end of January. 

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Two days before Thanksgiving we got a 2-year-old little boy, who turned 3 the next day.  He too is still with us, although we’re not sure if he’ll be with us during the holidays or not.  All is dependent on the outcome in court.  

In the State of Texas, CPS tries very hard to place children in a kinship home.  It may be biological family members or could be a friend of the biological family.  So far, all the cases we’ve had in Texas have moved to kinship care.  The little guy we have now may be going to a family member right before Christmas, but we likely won’t know until at least December 20th.  

Of course, there is always the possibility that another child may come into our care between now and Christmas.  Foster care is a lot of things, but certainly never boring.

In addition to the foster children we’ve had, we have taken in some other foster children for respite care.  Some as short as 3 days and others as long as 2 weeks.

Needless-to-say, between our girls, the three dogs and foster children, we manage to stay pretty busy. Yet we’re never too busy to take time out to think of all our friends and family, both near and far.  We hope all of you have had a wonderful 2017 and wish you an even more spectacular 2018.

Happy Holidays!!! 

 

 

Mending Little Broken Hearts

Tomorrow, Baby Girl’s case goes back to court.  The really difficult part of these court dates is the unknown.

I know she will not be returning to mom any time soon, but last month I sat on pins and needles waiting to hear whether or not she would be removed from our care and placed in the care of her aunt.  Since the other children we had went to family members, I was quite shocked when I was told her aunt failed the home study.

This time I sit on pins and needles waiting to hear whether or not she will be removed from our care and placed in the care of a friend of moms.

In Texas, there is a lot of effort put into placing foster children with other family members (kinship) or with friends of the biological family (fictive kinship).  Logically, I get it.  Well to a point I get it.  There are certainly situations that don’t necessarily make sense to me, but for the most part I understand why it’s important to keep familial connections.  Emotionally, it’s much more difficult.

It’s this part of foster care that causes many people to say, “I could never be a foster parent.”  A child moves into your home and life.  You care for that child.  You get to know that child.  You begin to love that child and that love grows.  Then one day you find yourself packing their things and handing them over to a case worker because they are being moved to live with a family member, a family friend, or in the best case scenario, back to mom and/or dad.

I will not sugar coat it.  It is not easy at all!!!

So why do we put ourselves thru this?

For me, it is the realization that as much as my heart breaks when I have to say good-bye, foster children have more than just heart-break.  They are removed from the care of their parent(s) which means on top of heart-break they feel fear, confusion, and uncertainty.  They grieve the loss of their family, friends, home, pets and the life they knew.

These kid’s lives are turned upside-down and it’s my job to help them turn their lives rightside-up again.

So I do this because they need me to help them feel safe and sure.  They need to feel love and security.  They need some assurance that no matter what happens, they will be okay.

You see, this isn’t about me and what I can’t do or about my fear of having my heart-broken.  Foster parents “will” have their heart broken over and over again.  This is about the thousands of children in foster care who need me to put aside my fear of a broken heart so I can help mend little broken hearts.

While I would love to have baby girl stay in our care, what I want really isn’t a factor in what the case worker or judge will decide.  All I can do is love her while I have her.  Yes, there will be heart break and lots of tears, but at the same time I will be prepared to open my arms wide for the next little one whose heart is in need of mending.

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Thankful for Friends and Family

There are things that happen in life that cause me to be especially thankful for the people in my life.  Over the last couple of days, some very special people in my life shown a great deal of love and compassion.  For that, I’m truly thankful.

We are spending a quiet day at home.  Okay, as quiet a day as you can have with 4 kids in the house 🙂  but are thinking of our loved ones who we can’t be with today.

Have a wonderful day celebrating friends, family, and good food.

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Be Truly Thankful

It can be extremely difficult to find anything to be thankful for in foster care and I am ever so aware of that fact today.

Last night, we accepted the placement of a 2-yr-old little boy.

Removal from your home is traumatic enough, but the circumstances surrounding his removal only added to that trauma.  Add to that the fact that happened 2 days before Thanksgiving.  On top of that, he was removed the day before his 3rd birthday.

My heart broke into a millions pieces last night as I held this scared little guy.  He could not calm down until I handed him over to hubby who gently held him and helped calm some of his fears.

Once he began to feel a little more comfortable, we were able to get him to smile and laugh.  We now know he loves being read to (makes this momma happy) and he has an awesome laugh.

He finally fell asleep and after several hours of sleep, he woke up a much happier boy.

We will celebrate his birthday today and prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  We don’t know how long he will be staying with us, but as with all the kids who come into our care, we’ll help him feel safe, secure and loved.

 

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.

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?