Foster Parent Conference 2017

We were able to knock out a ton of training hours this past weekend. Now we have until next June to get one last hour and we can do that online! It’s one less DCS induced stressor that won’t be hanging over my head. (Still need to get the dog’s shot records up-to-date…shh…)

The best thing about the weekend was just getting to be with Chris. He is rarely the only person I need to pay attention to and it’s a luxury when that can happen. We spent 14 hours in training or listening to keynote speakers, so there wasn’t a ton of free time. We did get to hang out with another foster parent couple from our neck of the woods on Saturday night. Sunday we cut out early so we could go visit some family at their church.

I had been holding my breath waiting for September. I needed this trip and I needed for our little foster baby, Pipsqueak, to get some good news about going home to her forever family. Her first birthday is this month. I was wrestling with God trying to push and push and getting frustrated at His lack of compliance. (I’m not sure why the ruler of the universe won’t just do what makes my life easier…but He doesn’t.)

What was making things harder for me, personally, was that every day I was feeling more like I can’t let this human go. If she starts walking, if she starts calling me “mommy”, if she cries when I leave her in the nursery, I’m not going to be able to do it. I felt like I was ready to let her go. And I had accepted her being adopted by her forever family 6 months ago. So she needed to just go NOW. Which is when I like things done.

God is so gracious. Patient with my impatience. He had worked it all out ahead of time and I just needed to trust this is all in His timing. But, man, foster care will take you through the ringer. Two months before we were to leave for the weekend conference, Pipsqueak’s family had planned to come and keep her over the weekend, then hopefully take her home right after her first birthday. Speaking about this and not divulging too much is a fine line. Basically, they live FAR away. They can’t just pop in and get her when they want to, or be here at the drop of a hat for court or visits.

Then just a few days before we were to leave, I get a text from her forever mommy that says that a certain DCS office has still not sent some extremely important paperwork to the licensing office. At that point, I had to just give it to God. I had to accept that His plan was greater than mine. That she would take her first steps with us. That it could be another month or three before they finally got to take her home.

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you wanted something so badly and you are praying and waiting and thinking it’s never going to happen and then you finally let go and it does? That’s what this was like.

Literally 42 hours before we left (I was counting down, don’t judge), I got a text saying that licensing had received the packet and was coming to visit their home 2 hours before they needed to leave their state and head to ours. It was a miracle. THEN the next day, shortly after we arrived at the conference I got a call from Pipsqueak’s caseworker, letting me know that ON HER BIRTHDAY we were going to have her last CFTM (big important meeting) and that she would be placed with her forever family.

You guys, God. I just sit in awe and wonder of His GRACE, MERCY, LOVE.

Because I got that call, I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my husband. And we were able to begin to talk about what it will be like to let our little Pipsqueak go. We were able to start processing together the changes it will make in our family and for the big kids.

God is so good. 21368707_10212821857768999_2279935667135562710_o

Pipsqueak – month by month

August 24th marked 11 months since we brought Pipsqueak home from the hospital. When we were doing our foster parent training classes I was struggling to get the necessary items ready at home. The only thing I knew was that we were open to accepting one child, a girl, 0-4 years old. That’s a huge age range when it comes to what they may need or wear or even sleep in.

As I went to garage sales, accepted donations from friends, etc. I kept being drawn to the newborn items. Not because they were cute (which they are). It was because I just had a feeling we would get a call for a newborn. Unfortunately, our area of the country is ravaged by drug addiction and mothers who are having drug-exposed or NAS babies. One of my best friends would often remind me that I didn’t need to stress about having all the newborn baby items because there was a good possibility we would get a call for a 2 or 3 year old.

She was right, of course, and we did get a few calls that we weren’t able to take. One call was the right age (4 years old) and gender and just a single child but Chris was in Guam and I couldn’t make contact with him in time to take that placement. Another call was about a 2-year-old little girl,  a middle-of-the-night call while we were in another state on vacation.

As we’ve spent the last 11 months caring for and loving Pipsqueak, I’ve seen all the ways that God’s will is sovereign and perfect. She is due to be placed with her adoptive family any day now. The question that I get the most often is whether I’ll have a hard time letting her go. I hesitate to be brutally honest about it, unless it’s one of my best friends (including my hubby). They already know me and my heart. But other people outside of that circle really have a hard time understanding when I say “no, I think I will be just fine when she moves” and I really mean that. I will be more than fine. I will be so happy that she is finally getting the permanency she deserves. God prepared my heart months ago. Now it’s just the waiting that is hard.

I’m not a good waiting person. I know this. My husband knows this all too well. I feel like all the time that has been wasted on legalities and bureaucracy could have been time for her to bond with her forever family. It also could have been time where another child who needs a home could have been placed with us. However, I know God knows more than I do. He has a plan. He has a purpose. In foster care, it seems I have to strive to simultaneously trust Him (WAIT! BE STILL!) and advocate (LET’S GO PEOPLE!) for Pipsqueak’s case to keep moving forward.

Pipsqueak has taught myself, my husband and my children a lot about what it means to sacrifice for another person. And I hope that we have been all that she has needed and more in her first year of life.

I’m 41, he’s 37

I guess we didn’t get any birthday cake with number candles for ourselves this year. We need to do a better job with that in 2018.

We do our best to make each other feel loved and special. With this busy life, we tend to put ourselves and our marriage on the back burner. But we listen to one another. He gets me special chocolate that I love or sends me an Amazon wish list item just because. I try to surprise him with concert tickets and make sure he gets his *gross* sushi.

Most of all, we count ourselves blessed every birthday that we have together. Couples aren’t guaranteed any time together. Our anniversary is March, my birthday April and his is in May. Then we spend the rest of the year focused on everyone else.

I love you sweetheart! You’re my handsome baby-daddy that I love so, so much.

15 years and counting

Since it was our FIFTEENTH wedding anniversary. We decided to skip town for a weekend. It was one of my favorite trips we’ve taken together. It was simple and slow, with a little historical sight-seeing and antique store shopping. A few good meals out. A nice hotel. An amazing concert in a cave. And best of all? Zero children.

Foster turns 13

So. My oldest child is now a teenager (as of this past Valentine’s Day). I thought it was sad when I weaned him, when he went on his first overnight away from me, when he started going hunting with daddy and leaving for days. Or when he turned 5, oh my goodness.  Well, apparently 13 is like that. When you sort through and scan in old baby pictures and you cry for a week. I’m not sad that he’s 13, I actually love teenagers and all the drama that can bring. The rollercoaster of mature young man to petulant child to coasting into relaxed adolescent is a fierce one that speeds along every day.

The tears come from being so proud. And so in love. I cannot fathom how I can love him more now than I did as a precious newborn. How can I love him more now than I did when he looked up at me with those sweet, hazel eyes and beautiful eye lashes and sucked his thumb and told me “I wuv you mommy”? How does that happen? I’m so thankful for Foster Owen Grubb. If I tried to list all the reasons why, this blog post would never end. Love is like that. And love for a child? Even more so.

My prayers and goals now that we have a teenager in the house?  That as parents we will know how to be a friend to our son and be his authority at the same time. That we will not only command his respect, but earn it. That our transparency will encourage his. That we will be so authentic that he will know that we mean what we say and say what we mean in all areas of our lives. Because if there is one thing teenagers are good at, it’s spotting BS from a mile away.

Theodore turns 10

I’m certainly glad that we gave this boy such a big name. Everything Theodore does is done BIG, LOUD, FAST, ENTHUSIASTICALLY. Well, anything he wants to do that is. Not so much for chores and school work. He loved that his double digit birthday fell on the day of the solar eclipse and it was amazing to experience totality and then have family over to celebrate his special day. I think it’s something he will always remember. He also had a few buddies over to spend the night last night and Chris took them all to BrickUniverse (A Lego fan convention) in Knoxville this morning.  He has loved the special attention and treatment. I do believe he wishes every day could be his birthday.

Parker turns 8

This boy! He is so, so smart. He still loves to cuddle, crack a good joke and stay where the temperature and activity level are regulated. He has fallen in love with reading, which makes this momma’s heart happy. He is passionate about what he believes, which can lead to some temper outbursts that he’s working on controlling. Parker is very sensitive to what others say to him and think of him and he’s just as sensitive to another’s pain and trying to comfort them. He loves to eat. He usually eats as much as an adult. He likes to have all of the information and will become frustrated if plans change without warning. He is a good student and actually enjoys school work but struggles to own that fact because he has 3 brothers who vocalize their distaste for anything school work related. We are thankful that he is a healthy, active, kind boy.