Monday, November 18, 2013

The First Goodbye

I wanted to write this yesterday.  I tried to write this last week.  I couldn't bring myself to do it last month.  Back in August, we said goodbye to our Hope Child.  Our first goodbye as a foster family.

What do you say to a child that has become your own, as you pack up all her things?  How do you make a child's brain understand you are not abandoning them - like everyone else?  We spoke to her of this relative she did not remember.  We prayed this family would love Hope Child.  That they would love God.

The momma in me was dying.  I rocked this girl to sleep when she was too scared to be alone.  I washed her dirty clothes.  Wiped her tears.  Played with her.  We were there as she threw temper tantrums and when she laughed.  How could I give up this child?

Surrender was the only thing that got me through.  Not surrendering to CPS or the family, but surrendering to God.  I am not the author of this precious darling's life.  God is.  He has a plan for her.  I prayed for God to press this on my heart, and He did.  I had such a peace.

Even still, carrying her inside the CPS building was tough.  I was taking this child of my heart to someone else.  Someone related to the people who had caused her so much pain.  We had been praying.  Praying crazy hard.  That this family would be God-followers.  That this family would know how to love.

We got to be there when they met Hope Child.  She clung to us.  We stayed for a long time.  Playing.  Talking.  She slowly warmed to them but stayed right beside us.  As I spoke to the new family I saw their love for God and their love for Hope Child.  We cried together over answered prayers.

When it was time for us to leave, Hope Child would not let us go.  And there went my heart.  Ripped out.  We decided to all pray together.  And something wonderful happened.  I felt the presence of God.  His peace descended upon me.  He must have done the same for Hope Child.  As soon as the amen was said, she let go of us and ran into the arms of her family.

God showed up that day.  He answered prayers.  My cup overflowed.

And as soon as we got in the car, our eyes also overflowed.

The girls still talk about Hope Child.  We have been very open and honest with them.  At six and four years-old, they have lots of questions.  Questions I never thought we would be faced with so young.  Questions I am still wrestling with.

But most of them have the same answer, "I don't know, but God knows.  He is in charge of Hope Child's life.  We have to trust God."

Help me Lord to do this.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hope Child

She came to us with almost nothing.  A few dirty clothes.  One small blanket.

No one wanted her.  We wanted her.

And now, after almost a month, she is leaving us.  A family member has been found.  I thought I would be devastated, but I have such a peace about this.  She will grow up with cousins and aunts.  People who can tell her stories about her grandmother.  Sing her the lullabies of their family.

We know God is sovereign in Hope Child's life.  He knew our home was where she needed to be for this season of her life.  We trust He still is in control of her little life.

But tomorrow is going to be hard.  Isn't that the way loving usually is?

Abby-Momma loved her right from the start.  Our natural nurturer jumped in head first showering this neglected child with more attention than she had probably been shown her entire life.

Susannah...well let's just say there was a bit of a territorial battle.  We prayed for love to come.  And boy, did it ever come.  One day out of the blue, she gave Hope Child one of her Hugsies.  I cannot convey to you the depth of love that means for this small fireball.

These are our three girls.  Soon to be two.  Pray for them tomorrow.


When Hope Child came to us, Patrick was away at youth camp.  Oh, how he wished he could have been here.  When he did finally meet her, I think it was love at first sight.

What could be sweeter than a daddy with his little girl?  Hope Child had never had that as a constant in her life.  She thrived under his love.  Running to him.  Hugging him.  Begging him to, "fly a fairy."

She called Patrick "Daddy" last week.  Pray for him tomorrow.


And me?  I have no ability to love half-heartedly.  Hope has stolen my heart.  I don't think I will ever be the same after tomorrow. 

Pray for me tomorrow as I say goodbye.  As I comfort my family.


She came to us with almost nothing, but she is leaving with so much.  No one wanted her.  We wanted her.  But most importantly, Jesus wanted her.  We gave her a picture of our family and the Jesus Storybook Bible.

We fully believe God has great things for this Hope Child.  Tomorrow we plan to pray with her family when we give her to them.  Pray for her family tomorrow.

I know tomorrow is going to be hard, but love is hard.  And this love is what God has called us to.  It is what God has called us all to...

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..."  James 1:27
James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - See more at: http://orphancareresources.org/resource/resource/orphans-bible#sthash.25xXrRPB.dpuf
James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - See more at: http://orphancareresources.org/resource/resource/orphans-bible#sthash.25xXrRPB.dpuf
James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - See more at: http://orphancareresources.org/resource/resource/orphans-bible#sthash.25xXrRPB.dpuf

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ten Things I Will Miss About Sunrise School

1.  The Ponytail Posse
 
 
2.  Field Trips
 
 
3.  Smiles
 
 
4.  Forts
 
 
 
5.  Different ages learning and loving together
 
 

6.  Nap time!


7.  The classroom


8.  Teaching kids to pray for missionaries


9.  Wonder of reading

Photo by Sarah Grace Photography
10. Daily News
 

Thank you to all the parents who trusted me to love, teach, and care for their children.  I had a blast!

10 Things I Won't Miss:

1.  Diapers
2.  Wet bathroom floors
3.  Tattling
4.  Tying suspiciously damp shoelaces
5.  Cooking 2 full meals a day
6.  All the washcloths and napkins
7.  Snot
8.  Not being able to leave home
9.  Eternally dirty floors
10.  Endless paperwork and record keeping for childcare licensing

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Playroom Make-Over

Some of my family came to over this weekend to help finish prepping for our newest bundles(s) of joy.  Plan was to steam carpets, clean out fridge, scrub baseboards, and the like.

Boring.

Instead, we spent an exorbitant amount of time at Wal-Mart and did a full classroom to playroom make-over.  Oh my goodness.  They did an amazing job. 

It is now such a fabulous room, I kind of want to keep it for myself.  I'd probably still let my girls play in it sometimes.  But it could just be used with my permission, and only if they promised not to mess it up.
 
 
My eldest, crazy artistic sister did this whimsical tree free hand.  Just slapped this beautiful tree on the wall like it was nothing.  How are we related?  I have trouble drawing stick people.
 
The long counter serves as a desk and has seats made of file crates which are labeled and filled with toys.  A place for everything and a thing for every place.  Only the OCD could truly appreciate this.
 
 
My youngest, incredibly handy sister and creative sister-in-law made this stage for my little drama queens.  It has storage at the top, a chalkboard wall for drawing scenery, curtains, and twinkly lights.  It is even more wonderful in person.  There have already been several plays.
 

 And it's even cooler with the lights off.  So much joy.  Come over for a play-date.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Home Study Confession

It was early 2012, and God would not leave us alone about fostering.  A year later and we finally started the process.

I know there will be joys.  But right now what we have is the not fun part.

Piles of paperwork - and it's only the beginning.

Hours of classes - some helpful, some redundant.

But the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching.  One last hurdle.  It's a big one.  The Home Study.  Oh, the Home Study.  Four and a half hours.  That's a long time to behave like a "normal" family.

We were mostly concerned about our little four-year-old performer, story-teller.  She did fabulous.  Her new best friend is our caseworker.  However, we were so focused on what Motor-Mouth Jr. was going to say that we forgot about Motor-Mouth Sr...

OK, so I did a great job in the joint interview.  Nothing over the top Hannah-ish.  But, Patrick was there to be my anchor.

Then the private interview.  Here's where I was afraid.  No husband sitting next to me. 

Who is going to silently shake their head when I start to share too much?  Or squeeze my hand when I babble on and on?  Or softly kick me when it's time to shut up?  Or give me huge, disbelieving eyes when I cross the line of appropriate adult conversation?

For all my fears, once the individual interview starts, I feel like I am acing it.  I have said nothing embarrassing.  Patrick would be so proud.  Then this question - BAM - out of the blue.

Caseworker:  Do you think there could be something to make your sex life better?

Me:  You mean, like a toy??

Caseworker:  (Embarrassed laughter)  Um...I'm sorry.  No one has ever answered that before.

I have no ability to pass up the possibility of making someone laugh.  Thus is my Home Study confession.  Now we are praying that the caseworker will see past me and still give us a kid or two.

Seriously, though, please be in prayer with us.  In all likelihood, our next child is already alive, but just not in our home yet.

Go Outside!

This has got to be the best Sesame Street video ever.  Every time I hear it, I want to have a dance party in my backyard...and give Elmo a big kiss.
 
 
This Jason Mraz guy's research is pretty good.  The National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education says:
 
"recess is an essential component of education and that preschool and elementary school children must have the opportunity to participate in regular periods of active, free play with peers."

So, we go outside as much as possible here at Sunrise School.  Even the smallest love soakin' up the Vitamin D.


I try to give my kids as many open-ended "un-toys" to play with as possible.  Here we have pillows (pool noodles cut in half) around a pretend campfire.  The noodles have been guns, swords, horses, antenna, and light sabers.  The scrap wood is the same wood used by the kids for this.

 
And here's my newest and favorite outside toy, our music station.  PVC pipe + old cans = Big time fun.  I even got all kinds of crazy and let the kids spray paint it for me.

 


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

John Has a New Name

 
My nephew lives by this code.  John.  Batman.  Optimus.  T-Rex.  Folks, he has a new name.  I've been bursting to share the latest news.
 
 
  • Um, so sometimes the water coming out of our tap is yellowish brownish.  Does anyone else have that problem?
  • Look at sweet Joshy's news.  Having a good Granna is such a precious thing.
  • Can't get enough of that Gideon and his "yester" words.
 

Fireball Rhino is the newest classmate at Sunrise School.  He has a tail, sits on his haunches, and can only grunt.  He is fabulous.

The next week's news overflows with excitement.


Until next time, remember to play with the children in your lives.  Soon they will be grown up and going to scary places...like kindergarten.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pass the Oxygen: Parenting in the Trenches

I love my children.  Dearly.  But sometimes parenting is so hard.

It started when I woke her up from her nap.  She hit me.  That's a first for this house.

Now, before you get all Judgy-Judgerson on my parenting, know that I am trying.  I've read the books.  My husband and I have taken classes.  We've prayed with and over our children.

After our usual discipline techniques I thought she had calmed down.  Then the whining.  Which became crying.  That escalated to yelling.  Which gave rise to an all out kicking, throwing, hitting, screaming banshee fit.

By now I am at a loss.  I've tried every reward, discipline, and punishment I can think of.  If you are feeling holier-than-thou about your parenting right now, you do not have a strong willed child.  Bless you, and please keep your comments to yourself.

Just when I thought all hope was lost, I threw up a Hail Mary pass.  (Forgive the football analogy, but tonight is the NFL draft.)  The one thing I could think of to end the madness: I sent her straight to bed without supper.

Never done this before.  Hated doing it.  Don't think I'll ever do it again.  If you are wanting to berate my parenting skills, you'll have to line up behind yours truly and shovel through piles of self-loathing to reach me.

So, here I am.  Also not eating supper.  Googling "encouraging verses for parents."  I read through them praying for some new insight.  Some glimmer of hope for my weary bones.


The commentary at the bottom of Proverbs 29:17 caught my eye.  It said that in Hebrew, the "peace" spoken of in the above verse is "rest properly, a breathing again."
 
And it hits me.  That's why this thing called parenting is so hard.  There is no rest.  There is no breathing.  It is split-second decisions.  It is one human attempting to show grace to another human. 

And it is hard.  Harder than I thought it would be.

But it is also much more wonderful than I ever imagined.  Even after moments like tonight, I wouldn't trade it.
 
Tonight, this notion of peace is keeping me sane.  Knowing that persistent and consistent discipline will birth proper rest.  A breathing again.  Delight to my soul.

Till then, could someone please pass the oxygen?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Painting with a Squish

No Texas childhood would be complete without the reading of Tomie dePaola's The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush.  This classic tale explains the proliferation of the wildflower and the origin of its name.
 
In days of yesteryear, Little Gopher, was a painter.  Due to the scarcity of Walmart, he had to make his paints from crushed berries and rocks.  This notion of "no Walmart" is always fun to teach to small children.
 
 
So, what did we do after reading this story?  Made our own paint from berries.  With nine children.  Alone.  In a carpeted dining room.  I promise I'm not crazy.
 
 
Each child was given a bowl and spoon for squishing blueberries and strawberries.   The end result was a bit messy, but so much fun.  I have found that most things worth doing with children are.
 

Some of us may have eaten most of our berries pre and post painting.
 

All in all, an excellent, hands-on activity for preschoolers.  However, I do think the finished masterpieces will attract extremely "pesty" art-lovers.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Daily News Backlog

I have gotten crazy behind on posting the Daily News.  Apologies.  I don't know how you have all coped.
 
So, let's start off with a bang.  After this week I have pondered if Sunrise School needs to have a lesson on what constitutes TMI.


In the following, Carter highlights the biggest news with the Sunrise gang: the outbreak of potty trained children.  Usually easier, but not always.  We shall not speak of the day of five accidents.  Always an adventure with children.

 
Again, there is no one named John at Sunrise School.  Side note: today he was Green Lantern.  Which brings to mind my favorite Sunrise School moment of 2013 thus far. 

We were learning about the twelve disciples.  Had a full-blown lesson on it Monday.  Memory verse for the month was John 3:16.  We discussed John in-depth.  I was so proud.  These little minds soaking up knowledge like sponges.

Then Tuesday.  I thought we'd review before we moved on.

Me:  "Our memory verse is John 3:16.  Who remembers who John is?"

Entire Class:  "JOSIAH!"

Me:  "BA HA HA HA HA!"


Much ado about food.  A budding entrepreneur.  And one mishap resulting in many boo-boos.


And more food.  Always food with these kids.  I probably answer more questions about lunch and snack than anything else.

 
We leave you now with Sunrise School's littlest napper.  A girl and her Dolly.  What could be more precious?  More peaceful?
 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

100th Day of School!

I have this pair of sock that say "I heart school."  A kid from our youth group made fun of them on Sunday night.  But man, who doesn't love preschool?  Play dough, recess, reading, counting, shapes, patterns!  Teacher stores make me happy.  So, the 100th day of school?  Love it.
 
 
Reflecting upon the first 100 days of school, here are a few of my favorite moments:
- Gracie saying my name for the first time.
- Watching "The Bigs" learn to read.
- Josiah and Susannah fighting about whether our president is named Arock L Bomma or Uncle Bubba.
- And always, the Daily News.
 
Before viewing this round of updates, you must be aware of a few items:
 
1.  There really was a dinosaur exhibit at the zoo.
 
2.  Contrary to Abigail's news, I DO cook supper.  There were extenuating circumstances.  Praise God for the parenting team.
 
3.  The kids get a prize each month for memorizing their scripture verse.  Last month these awesome kids memorized the Lord's Prayer.  The whole thing.
 
4.  I am not sure if Lightsaber is one word, two (light saber), or hyphenated (light-saber).
 
5.  Also unclear on capitalizing fictional weaponry.
 
6.  John = Batman = Optimus = T-Rex (at recess time) = Josiah = HILARIOUS nephew making great face in above picture.
 

 

Until next time remember: kids tell their teachers EVERYTHING!

Friday, January 18, 2013

News Flash

Catching up on the daily news from Sunrise School.  Pre-Christmas news took on the form of confession for one of our students.  Perhaps she was attempting to clear things up with Santa before the big day.


The next week brought exciting dental feats, a beloved yester-word, and a new class member/character.


And our 2013 started off with a bang.  Barbie houses, playing, snowball fights, and slumber parties.  One even looked back upon memories of yesteryear.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

7.3.2 Little on the Trashy Side

7 Experiment: based on the book by Jen Hatmaker
3rd Month: Mutiny Against Waste
2nd Post: Little on the Trashy Side
 
Waste was November.  Yes.  I am behind.
 
Some of the months of this experiment can be done alone.  Not this one.  Super Dad, Little Momma, and Fairy Child had to step in to accomplish our four waste reduction goals.
 
 
Goal: One bag of trash per week
 
Grade: A+
We totally did it! One bag of trash per week!  I was highly doubtful as to the attainability of this goal. I mean, I have kids. And not just my kids, but Sunrise School kids, too. Nine kids in and out of my house every week. Some of them still in diapers.
 
How We Did It:
1. Reuse - My cabinets runneth over with yogurt tubs and spaghetti sauce jars.
2. Recycle - Like crazy everything.
3. Intentionally buy things with recyclable containers/packaging.
4. Compost - More on this below
 

Goal: Conserve Energy and Water
 
Grade: A-
I thought we did pretty good with electricity, but I never could make myself give up my full, hot baths and long showers.  Sadly, I was about to give us a B-.  Then our electric bill came in.  Seventy.  Four.  Dollars.  BOOM, baby!  Bumped us back up to an A-.  Am I a hopeless teacher-dork?  I love grading myself!
 
How We Did It:
1. Become electricity Nazis - Not in the room, nothing on.
2. Use power strips behind entertainment units - Easy to flip switch off when not in use for long periods
3. Unplug anything when not in use - chargers, coffee pot, computer
4. A/C up a degree higher
5. Windows open when pleasant outside
6. Heat a degree colder
 
Goal: Compost

Grade: B
We are now members of the Compost Posse.  This one required work in the beginning, but once started has been quite easy.  And I have been surprised at what is compostable.  Had to give us a B because I need to do a better job maintaining our pile.  I hear tales of a composting bin that turns itself.  If I stay neon green, I might have to get one.

How We Did It:
1. Build a bin - Ours is made of zip ties and old pallets
2. Learn what can be composted - the Google machine has lots on this topic
3. Make to be composted container inside - No way we'd go out every time
 
 
Goal: Garden
 
Grade: F
Did not even attempt.  This feels like those standardized tests from elementary school.  I always scored at the top in every subject and failed spelling.  Gardening is my spelling.  I did get three houseplants.  Perhaps if they are still alive in the Spring, I could consider gardening. 
 
How We Did It:
1. Think about it.
2. Talk about it.
3. Stop.
 
Experiment-wise, I think this was a good month.  It made me more mindful of my wastefulness.  The down side?  I can't get the song "I Like My Women Just a Little on the Trashy Side" out of my head.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 By the Numbers

In 2012 I confessed to being a "resolution junkie" and laid out my seventeen resolutions.  Let's see how I did.

Act in love first, not anger. 
Still needs work.  1/2 point

Speak to my children with a kind tone of voice when I am frustrated.
Much related to #1.  1/2 point

Read my Bible more.
Found out in 2012 the only way for my to do this is wake up earlier.  1 point

Call my grandmother more. 
Better than 2011, but if you know my Gran, you know I could never call her enough.  1/2 point

Pray more. 
Still need more.  Especially in reference to resolutions #1 & #2.  1/2 point

Get home earlier on Tuesday nights.
Nope.  0 points

Use lotion on my poor dry hands.
Just checked hands.  Sandpaper.  But medium grit, no longer coarse.  1/2 point

Shave my legs more. (Not more of my leg, but more times.)
Maybe negative points?  I'll be generous and say  0 points

Do the projects I pin on Pinterest. 
I've done several of them, thank you very much.  1 point

Cook different meals.
Fish sticks and chicken nuggets grace our dinner table much less these days.  1 point

Cut back on my chocolate intake. (I eat a truly alarming amount of it in any given day.)
What was I thinking?  Seriously?!?  0 points

Pluck my eyebrows more frequently.
Eh.  1/2 point

Clean my house more. 
In-home preschool insures this happens.  1 point

Not let the bushes take over the sidewalk.
Sidewalk visible.  1 point

Plant some herbs. 
Didn't even attempt.  0 points

Try eating the veggies I make my kids eat.
Now this, I have done.  At times the portions were insanely small, but I ate what I made my girls eat.  As a proclaimed meatatarian, I think I am most proud about this one.  1 point

Work out. (Last on my list for many reasons.) 
Worse than any on the list.  Should have stopped at lucky 16.  0 points

My goal was fifty percent of the resolutions kept.  And, thanks to the beauty of half credit, 2012 was a year of fifty-three percent success!  Congratulations, mediocre self.  Perhaps 2013 will hold even less dashed good intentions.

Stay tuned for 2013 resolutions.