Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Infertility Support Ministry in Church

Something that God has really put on my heart this year was a support group for women and couples who struggle with infertility.

A few months back, Jack and I went to a meet and greet type breakfast thing at our church for the new members.  This was the first time I really felt the pull to DO something about what I was feeling.  (Remember the Connections Breakfast?) There has been a LOT going on at our church so that's why it's been since March and that this was my first meeting with Carole, but we have been super busy too.

Since it has been quite a while that I have been thinking about this, it has raised a lot of questions that I have been pondering over for a long time.  I have also taken it upon myself to chat with other women who struggle with infertility on forums too to see what kinds of support groups they would like to see.  What kind of things would the community of couples who struggle with infertility like to see at church?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting My House Company Ready Part 1 - Cleaning List.

I'm starting to get my house Company Ready for this weekend today. As I am starting to make my list of things I would like to straighten and clean and replace, it dawns on me... After we are licensed... (which by the way, our *hopefully* last well inspection is tomorrow!) are we going to live in a constant state of leaving our home Company Ready?

And for no other reason than that I really enjoy reading about other people's cleaning routines, I'll outline mine!
So for some super fun never before seen on POH, here's some before and after pictures to describe what my cleaning routine looks like.
(And what my messy house looks like.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Well Failure... Finishing the process anyway!

I have tried typing out this post several times and every time it seems to get really choppy, so I think it might flow a little better if I just do bullet points... or numbers... or both?

1.  We bought our house in 2010.  Had our water tested to see if it was safe to drink, passed.  Yay.  It was kind of stinky, we put in a water softener and were advised to chlorinate.  We forgot to.  Weren't really worried about it because it was safe to drink.
2.  The State requires your water and septic to be tested if you are on a private system to be licensed for Foster Care.  Insert Matt - From our County Something-Or-Other-Having-To-Do-With-Water-Or-Something.  He comes over to test the water, taking a small vial of a sample.  He also makes sure our septic system isn't malfunctioning (basically - is there a big sloppy poo mess in the front yard? No? Okay good.)
3.  Our water tested  positive for bacteria.  It was a qualitative test, so it just showed yes or no.  (Not bad bacteria... it was still safe to drink.)
4.  Matt advises us to chlorinate the well and run the hose for several hours over the weekend and he will be back on Monday.
5.  Matt comes back to test the water again, saying this time it will be a qualitative test.  He mentions that he hopes we pass because we are kinda out in the sticks and no offense, but he doesn't really want to come all the way back out to our house.
6.  Matt calls me a few days later.  He is remiss to tell me that our well tested positive again... at 4.  I'm not sure exactly what the units are, but he also said he wished it was 200 or something high so that he would have a real reason to come back out.  He suggested just running the hose for 6 hours over the weekend and letting the well flush out some more.  He laughs and says it's silly because the problem is obviously a non-issue, but the water is required to test at 0.  So, he must come back.
7.  All that is standing in our way from being licensed is 4.   This weekend we are going to do a mini chlorination again and then run the water out tomorrow and all will be well in the world and in the well I'm sure by Tuesday when it's time to test again.  

As I'm thinking about how this is the last thing that is left, I let our licensing worker know that our well failed again, and what we were advised to do.  She said that she gave our file to her supervisor who is looking it over.  As soon as the supervisor is done looking it over, she sends it into the State.  And we were told that because the need is so great, the State is licensing people within 1 to 2 weeks of receiving their information and files. 

Insert a mini-panic-attack here. 

Let us just assume that our well is going to pass this time.  Our buddy Matt over at the County will send the paperwork over to Andrea, our licensing worker who will give it to her supervisor.  That is the last thing that is required before this supervisor can send it to the State.  So best case scenario, by Friday, the supervisor could be sending our paperwork to the State... So we could essentially be licensed in 3 weeks. 

And once we are licensed, we could receive a call any time... so possibly within 24 hours of licensing...

Ready or not, here it comes!!

Book #41 / 75 Daughter of Joy by Kathleen Morgan

I wasn't so sure about this one and it took me a few days worth of reading the first few pages of this one to really get into it for some reason.


Daughter of Joy by Kathleen Morgan
This book is set in the plains east of Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1895.  It's not difficult to imagine what life was like in the West 125 years ago because of the way Kathleen Morgan describes daily life for Abigail Stanton.  Abigail Stanton lost her husband in a railroad accident and then a year after that lost her 5 year old son to diphtheria.  In an effort to get away from it all, she traveled hours away from her home town to accept a job on a ranch to be a housemaid to Connor MacKay and a teacher to his young daughter, Beth.

Beth and Connor are not very pleased with the fact that Abby is an outspoken and devoted Christian who takes the time to tell people that God loves them and says Grace before eating her meals.  They have a very rocky start and Abby believes God has called her to Culdee Creek for a reason, even if she hasn't discovered what that reason may be.  Abby continues to try to break through to the MacKays the best she knows how, and tries to abide by her faith and teachings to do what is right.

This book touched my heart in a special way because each chapter began with scripture.  So many of these verses just pulled on my heart strings and went along with each chapter so perfectly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nursery

 The flash on the camera makes the dresser look much more red than the crib, but in real life they are pretty close.  Eventually we will paint the trim white.




 Dresser needs new pulls.  Chair will be reupholstered.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So you're pregnant... and your friends aren't. Now what?

Are you pregnant?  Ready to shout it to the world from the rooftops (or facebook... whatever)?

If you have friends who struggle with infertility, then this is for you.

You will need to ask yourself a few questions to start.
1. Do you have friends that have confided in you that they are struggling with infertility?

Did you answer yes to the first one? (By the way, if someone sent you this... then you should be answering yes.  This may have been their way of telling you.)

2.  Do you wish to remain friends? 
(Yes, I do mean to tell you that the manner by which you announce your pregnancy has the power to either make or break your friendship for life.)


If you have answered yes to these questions, here's what you need to know:

Infertility is hard.  Faith questioning, life changing, marriage shattering, friendship ruining, isolating, horrifyingly, miserably hard.  With infertility you are poked and prodded from all angles... From your friends and family asking you when you're going to have babies, to your doctors spending more time looking at your genitalia than your spouse.  It's expensive to the point that sometimes, some people with infertility are forced to make decisions like, "Do we put a down payment on a house... or pursue IVF?"  Infertility changes your life. 

Since every person is different, every person's struggle with infertility will be different.  Some lean on their faith, some lean on their doctors, some lean on their family and friends, and some have absolutely no where to lean.   Every struggle is different too because not only is every person different, every person has a different diagnosis or allergies to certain medicines or drugs, or they have different personal convictions.  No two infertility journeys are exactly alike, so the struggle with infertility cannot successfully be generalized.

How to announce your pregnancy and destroy your friendship at the same time:
Here's a few ways that you can almost surely guarantee that you might forever change, if not completely destroy your friendship by the way you choose to announce your pregnancy to the world.

- A public facebook announcement.  This includes but is not limited to: People congratulating you on your wall, without you having made any type of announcement; You posting a sonogram as your profile picture, or just the favorite, "I'm pregnant!"  (You know your friend is struggling, and you are close enough that they have confided personally in you.  This announcement shows your friend that he/she/they are no more special than all the 100's of people in facebook land.  Your old co-workers, or friends from elementary school that moved away in 5th grade, or your exboyfriend's new girlfriend.  Yup, by letting your friend find out on facebook, you are telling them loud and clear... "You are no more important to me than all of these people who found out at the same time as you." )

- Through the grape vine.  (You know your friend is struggling, and you are close enough that they have confided personally in you.  This announcement is usually done when you don't know what to say to him/her/them.  You don't want to deal with whatever uncomfortable moments are sure to follow, and you would rather just not be around when they find out.  So you tell your parents, who tell all of their friends, who tell all of their kids and eventually it gets back to your friend.  This also tells your friend that they are not important to you. )

- At a large gathering in front of a lot of other people.  (Generally this is done at a large event where a lot of close friends or family gathers.  Generally, nearly all if not all of the people present also know abut your friend(s) infertility struggles.  When this type of announcement is made, as soon as everyone is done cheering for you, almost immediately all eyes turn on to the infertile person/couple.  How are THEY going to react, the group wonders.  Instantly, by telling your friends lumped in with a group, you have given them no time to privately react.  You have given them no warning and in no way are they able to prepare.  If they run off crying, the entire group gets angry at them or forms opinions of them.  And let me tell you, they are not unhappy for you, they are hurting for themselves.  By telling your friends in this sort of a situation, you allow them to become like a zoo exhibit, their pain on display for everyone to see.  Their reaction on display for everyone to see.  If you value your friendship at all, don't hurt your friends by announcing this way.



Like I said, every person is different, so their reaction will be different, and different things will feel different to different people. (How many times can I say different? Do you get the point?)  I can't generalize reactions, but these are just a few sure ways to forever change your friendship or relationship.


What are positive ways to announce your pregnancy to friends or family who are struggling with infertility?
If you call this person your friend, and you are thinking of them while reading this... then why wouldn't you want to preserve this friendship?  Why wouldn't they deserve the very best from you?  As happy as you are to be embarking on this family growing experience, they are that sad that it can't or won't happen for them.  Think of your friendships, think of your relationships... These are some very simple ways to make an effort to show your friends or family that you care about them and you want to continue to show them love and support and allow them to support you however they are able.


1.  Write an email.   I know, it doesn't seem like this would be the right way to go.  Emails are impersonal, right?  This approach allows you to tell your friend privately, so they do not have to find out with the rest of the world.  This approach shows your friend that you appreciate their struggle and are not taking it lightly and that you understand their need to react however they need to react, and that you value your friendship.  Writing an email is not the same as a text message, just to be clear.

Here is a good example:
Dear Friend,
       I know you are struggling with your quest to become parents, and I can't tell you how heart broken I am for you.  I am here for you and I am hoping for the best for you.  I value our friendship a lot, and I know that while you will be happy for me when I tell you this, I understand that you will be sad for you too.
        Husband and I are expecting our first, Due XXXXX.  We understand that you will need some time, take however much time you need.
With love,
Friend.

This tells your friend that you care about them enough to not allow them to find out one of the three ways that I described above.  This approach allows your friend to grieve with their spouse in whatever way they may need.  They may call you immediately and be ready to jump for joy for you, or they may need to take a few days to digest the information because they might have just ended their 50th failed cycle.  You really won't know where they are in their journey or grieving process of infertility, so this approach allows them the space that they may need to accept and process your announcement.  They will in time be able to celebrate with you, but remember they will need to mourn for themselves before they can come to terms with that.  This approach also allows them to freely express their feelings in private and not worry about other people reacting poorly to their reaction.  This allows them to fully compose themselves before further communicating.  (If you are my friend and reading this ... please take note! This would be my preference!)

**
Generally people who are struggling with infertility develop a 6th sense.  Somehow we are able to sense when a pregnancy announcement is going to occur.  Because we are actively trying to get pregnant, most people come to us to ask questions about trying to conceive.  Then the person suddenly stops asking questions or just stops talking about it.  Inevitably a few weeks later, the announcement comes.  Or some people will talk to us about contraception, or lack there of, and while we try to tell them that pull and pray does NOT equal contraception... inevitably they become pregnant and they stop talking about trying not to get pregnant... they just stop talking about it in general.  It's pretty easy to spot a pregnancy announcement when you're struggling with infertility because you already went through all of those stages. We have already been married for a few months and thought oh what the hey... let's just drop the pills and see what happens.  If we were a normal couple, we would have 2 children by now.  We would have gotten pregnant in a few months time and we watch other people go through those stages.  Those stages are very obvious to people who have been there, and people who are watching for that... because they are just terrified of how this pregnancy announcement and subsequent pregnancy and child that comes after is going to change our relationship with that person forever.
**


2. Talk to them one on one in a private setting.
By this, I do not mean 5 minutes before your big announcement to the group... I mean take the time before you tell everyone else so that if they decide not to come to the event at all, they have that choice.

You do not need to apologize for getting pregnant, that is not what this means either.  What it means is that you call up your friend and ask to bring them lunch or meet in a coffee shop or some place where you can have a quiet conversation.  Don't sugar coat it, and absolutely do not lie.  If you are pregnant, just tell them.  Let them know that you know that it is painful what they are going through, and that you wanted them to find out from you and not through the grape vine.

By taking this approach, you are telling your friend that you care about them.  That you care about what they are going through and that you are being thoughtful and sensitive to how difficult it is for someone who struggles with infertility to hear a pregnancy announcement.  Their heart is breaking for themselves and sometimes the grief one faces in their own struggles is too much to overcome to get your happiness out for the people who don't struggle.  So if your friend can't tell you how happy they are for you right away, try to understand.  Try to imagine if all of the happiness that you feel and are experiencing, even just in that little moment of getting to say the words, "I'm pregnant" all got stripped away from you... it's hard to even imagine grief like that, let alone go through it.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am sure there are a lot of other ways to announce your pregnancy to your friends who are struggling, but if you want to remain friends you will take the time to care for their feelings and emotions through their struggle.  How they deal with their infertility is different with every couple, so it's hard to generalize exactly what reactions there might be.


Real Life Scenarios and examples of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

50 Questions with no right or wrong answers

These questions have no right or wrong answers.

Because sometimes asking the right questions is the answer.

1.How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
It's really hard to say... For every part of my life- being married, owning a house, being this established in our home and our life... I would look at me and think I was 32. But if I looked closer and saw that I had no kids yet, I would think I was 22.

2.Which is worse, failing or never trying?
Definitely never trying.

3.If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
First of all, this one shouldn't be a question... Life IS short. But ultimately we probably just do what we think we have to, and have forgotten how to say no.

4.When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
Hard to say, I do a lot of things... But I also talk a lot.


5.What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
To share the love of Christ. We are all still human and we would still make mistakes but the world will be much better as a whole once it experiences the love of Christ.

6.If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
Being a stay at home mom... With lots of kittens and puppies to pet every day.

7.Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
100% doing what I believe in! Life is too short to do anything but!

8.If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
Spend more time serving.

9.To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
Oh good one, ha ha. I have fully accepted that the only real things that I have had control over to get me where I am today is said I Do! When the pastor asked do you? Everything else... I'm just here for the ride.

10.Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
Doing the right things.

11.You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?
I'm pretty sure my friends know that I am loyal and I don't think I can think of a time anyone would do this in front of me.

12.If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Newborns wouldn't understand, but let's say they did. I'd tell them to Love God with everything they've got.

13.Would you break the law to save a loved one?
which law?

14.Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
In lots of different types of art.

15.What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I'm black and white. I hate beating around the bush or dealing with people who do. If I mean something, I will say it. That doesn't necessarily mean people understand what I'm trying to say but I don't play games and I don't have hidden meanings in what I'm trying to say.

16.How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
Because we don't all want the same things.

17.What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?
Take a road trip out west. Money.

18.Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
I hope not.

19.If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
I would never move out of this great country if I could help it... But I might like to live in a more conservative part of it... Texas or Arkansas maybe Oklahoma.

20.Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
No and no

21.Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
I am a worried genius :)

22.Why are you, you?
Because my experiences have shaped me to be who I am today.


23.Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
Yes, I do try to do that. It generally leaves me disappointed because I'm a pretty kick butt friend... ;)

24.Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
Losing touch with a friend that lives near you.

25.What are you most grateful for?
My savior.

26.Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
Lose all my old.

27.Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
Not sure. I challenge just about everything upon first hearing it.

28.Has your greatest fear ever come true?
No

29.Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?
Actually yes and yes. But I am sure there are a lot of no and no's in there too.

30.What is your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?
Hard to say. Probably at the hut with my grandparents.

31.At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
When Jack and I discovered God's call in our lives for us to become foster parents.

32.If not now, then when?
If not you, then who? The time is now and the person to do it it me!

33.If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
Sometimes there is more on the line than you stand to gain in the end, sometimes it isn't worth losing everything.

34.Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation
ever?
Not really, I prefer communication to be verbal and literal without assumption.

35.Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
Probably because there is only one true religion, and the wars are over people who are in opposition of God's laws and against people who live a Godly life. There is one true love... So if it was true love, like the love of a God who sent his Son to live a sinless life as an example and then died on the cross for the sins of all mankind... If people understood true love like that, they would see that love does not cause wars.

36.Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
Yes.

37.If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
I can't quit being a wife. Plus after taxes you'd only take home a couple hundred thousand and that isn't enough to retire on.

38.Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
More work that I enjoy.

39.Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
No, but I have lived it four times now.

40.When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
Literally into the dark or figuratively? If we are talking figuratively - then this whole foster parenting adventure has been just that.

41.If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
My husband.

42.Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
Absolutely not. I'm married to a man who already thinks I'm extremely attractive and I definitely don't want to be famous.

43.What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
A heartbeat and a soul.

44.When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
As soon as you know it's right.

45.If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
I'm only halfway afraid to make a mistake. I think the reason I am halfway afraid instead of not at all is that I have experienced a lack of forgiveness for the mistakes I've made. And because of that, I partially hold back.

46.What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
I don't care if people judge me, they do it constantly. I speak my mind and stay true to who I am and what I believe is God's purpose for my life... And I know people are only judging me because of their own insecurities. They'd probably give their left leg to be half as secure of themselves and sure of themselves. It matters not what other people think of me or what they think of what I do, it matters not even what I think of me... It only matters what God thinks.

47.When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
I always do, I'm kind of self conscious of how loud I breathe lol

48.What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
God and my husband. Slacking on showing God I love Him, but I have given my husband a 10 hour long pep talk today, I'm pretty sure he knows I love him.

49.In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day
before that?
I don't remember what I did yesterday, I have a terrible memory. I'm kinda starting to feel like it's a blessing. I used to hold on to things from the past and never let go... Now I can't remember, so I don't have to worry about being burdened by a past I can't change!

50.Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
It's hard to say, I suppose it depends on how you want to interpret this statement. The only two earthly forces who make decisions for me are myself and my husband. And part of being a wife is submitting to decisions your husband makes for you. Thank God I married a good man who has my best interest at heart. Depending on who else is making decisions for you, it may not be a bad thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why do we do this to ourselves... Worry accomplishes nothing.

Our final home visit was this morning. We were ridiculously over prepared and over nervous. Again, Andrea, our licensing worker is a total sweetheart and we had nothing to worry about. It was a very comfortable visit and it really wasn't that overly intrusive. It was super calm and relaxing. Everything went smoothly.

Basically, Andrea used our self studies that we filled out 3 months ago and typed up her report and then when she got here she flipped through the 25+ pages and just filled in the blanks. I guess we were very thorough answering the questions, because she didn't have very many questions. Just small things like What was the name of your school district? And Where does each of your siblings live and do they have kids.

Not one question at all was asked about infertility. I guess I am so used to all of the rude and intrusive questions that people ask upon finding out that we cannot conceive. For example, "Why do you want kids?" I think that question really annoys me above all others. Couples who conceive on their own dont have to answer to anyone, let alone these rude people... Who do they think they are and why do we have to justify it to them? Or questions like, "whose fault is it?" Well, I guess you can thank God for our infertility, He made us specifically this way with a greater purpose in mind.

Its uncomfortable to constantly have to plead our case with our desire to have children and a family in the court of public opinion. I am indescribably relieved that we didn't essentially have to plead our case and beg for the chance to be allowed to foster. Instead, we were respected for our decision and it was taken at face value and not dissected or challenged. Hallelujah for that victory!

She came upstairs and checked out our nursery and looked at our swag. It was really more like showing a friend all the stuff we have than being inspected and scrutinized. I am sure every licensing worker is different, but we are treated with respect and that is such a welcome change.

With infertility, even in the doctors offices, we are constantly challenged for our decisions and what we want to do. I suppose we are not typical IF patients in that we have very limited treatments that we are willing to pursue. I suppose it might be because of our severe male factor infertility. But it seems that the stronger our convictions and the more upfront we are, the harder we are challenged. But with this foster/adopt process, we have not felt any resistance.

In short, it looks like we are looking at anywhere from a month to two months wait until we are officially licensed and can have children placed in our care.


Look for a new post some time this weekend or next week on how to announce your pregnancy to friends who struggle with infertility, and what to expect from your friends that struggle with infertility during your pregnancy and afterwards. I plan to describe in detail the things that will either make or break your friendship for life. I have experienced both in our journey through infertility. I have definitely lost friends and been hurt by them, and also been so blessed by kindness and thoughtfulness from my non infertile friends. I have been wanting to write this one for months, so it will definitly be a long one!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I keep starting posts... just too much on my mind to write

I have 5 or 6 drafts saved of posts that I have started in the last week, but was too distracted to finish and publish.  I have so much on my mind and it's hard to concentrate long enough to write out a post that makes sense from beginning to end.

For starters: Our last home visit is tomorrow morning.  I am over the moon and terrified at the same time.  We are doing our interviews tomorrow, and 9am is a little too early to get up and talk about what our marriage has been like, what my childhood was like and what infertility is like... but we will get through it. 

We have our nursery all set up.  Surreal is the only word that I can think of to describe what it feels like to have two child bedrooms set up and waiting for the Lord to fill with His children.  I'm scared and excited. 

Jack and I picked up the crib on Tuesday evening and drove home, emptied out the bedroom that was my mom's for a little while, moved the queen sized bed down to the basement for storage.  Then we set to work setting up the crib. 

It's a beautiful crib, and it looks great in the room. 

I think the reason I am struggling to finish a post is because I am struggling to put into words what's going on inside my head and my heart lately.  I'm confused and lost.  I'm sad and grieving over how I had always imagined it would be to set up a nursery.  I'm just grieving weird little things that I can't even explain or expect other people to understand.  I can't even put things into to words to talk to Jack about it.

But I am so happy too.  I am happy and hopeful for the future.  I am trying to imagine every day what it will be like to be a mother, even if it's only for a little while.  What will it be like to be able to comfort and help these kids?  To be able to do fun little things like making birthday cupcakes to take to school on their birthday like my mom used to do... To play catch in the yard.  I'm so excited but so scared to be hopeful for those things because I've hoped for that before and I feel that loss still.  I know that when we follow God's plan for our lives that things always end up bigger and better than we could have ever imagined... I guess I'm just going through the motions and having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other.  I know that we are doing what we are supposed to do, and I know that we are climbing out of the valley that we have been in.... but climbing out of the valley is hard work. 

In other huge news:  Jack starts his new job on Monday.  There was such a cluster with this new job.  It turns out there was some sort of miss communication and mess up with Jack getting his degree almost 6 years ago, and with all the craziness that was our life back then... Jack working full time and over time at his job, then also taking classes at the college for certificates for his job and career, and then with Jack working on his car, and us getting married and then moving to Wisconsin and moving back... it sort of got misplaced and lost in the shuffle and forgotten about... and then discovered when Chrysler did their background check.  Jack's degree wasn't complete, and because he had forgotten about it for so many years, his program was no longer current and in order to graduate he would need to do the current curriculum and not the curriculum from 5 1/2 years ago.  Thank God for Jack's brother who made a huge impression on his professor at the college, and because of Jack's brother putting in a good word for Jack, this guy helped Jack straighten everything out with the Dean and Jack was allowed to substitute one of his other classes and get his degree.  And ultimately, get the job at Chrysler.  So big huge thanks to Daren, if he hadn't blown that guy's socks off and become friends with him, who knows where we would be now with the degree mishap.   And the new job.

We are really happy about the new job.... While they fought long and hard to let Jack go from his current job, ultimately for the future, what's best for us was for Jack to pursue Chrysler.  I'm happy that it worked out and hopeful for the future.  I think that he will have a lot of opportunities and be able to make a lot of contacts and he has a lot of room to keep moving up in his career.  I think one of the main things that Jack is happy about ... besides having gone from working on Ford and GM in the last year... he's back to his heart and soul and passion... Chrysler :)

I feel like a big dork, but I have a LOT of pride in the big 3.  They are what make this State tick and what drives this great country!  My Papa worked for Ford for 50 years.  Jack's Grandpas both worked at Chrysler and retired from Chrysler.  Jack's dad works for Chrysler too.  Jack's uncle also works at Chrysler.  And his brother and now he is there.  In the past Jack has worked for suppliers for Chrysler, but now he's there, in the tech center!  It's so exciting! 

God is really working lots of big things together in our life right now.  I know it's a long time coming, but it's crazy to see everything falling into place and coming together.

In other not so life changing news, we have been working on gathering wood from everywhere.  It's been lots of hard work and I can't describe how excited I am to go to the Chiropractor tomorrow!  I wouldn't want Jack to start his job with his traditional back completely out to the point where he can't even walk through the doors on his first week... like he has for his last two jobs haha. 


I am really looking forward to this summer too.  Besides being licensed for Foster Care, we have a lot going on!  My brother-in-law is getting married, and I'm so excited to be throwing my future sister-in-law a shower!  That will be a super fun tea party :P  And then their wedding later in the summer will be amazing too! 


**

When I am ready I will post pictures of the bedrooms. 


**
Praises:

This week we are praising the Lord for Jack's new job.  Also praising the Lord for the completion of our foster care licensing requirements... now all we need to do is wait for our license to come in the mail.


Prayer Requests: 
-We are praying for peace every day that we walk past the empty crib and empty beds in the house, we know it's what we are supposed to be doing but it's not easy to see it highlighted in front of our faces that the crib is empty.  The rooms are empty.  So praying for peace as we wait on God's timing.  
-We are praying that everything goes smoothly on Jack's last day of work today, and that he can rest up this weekend and feel prepared to start this new job and chapter of his life on Monday.
-We are praying that everything goes smoothly with our interviews and home visit tomorrow morning.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award!!

Krystal over at Our Charm City Life has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! 
I love finding new bloggers to read :) 


For these awards, the blogger must:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award &
link back to their site in your original post.
2. Tell us seven things about yourself.
3. Pass along the award to five newly discovered bloggers. (I did 6 - I don't care :P)
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they got this award.

A little about myself:
1. I knew I was going to marry my husband about 6 months before we officially started dating... and he told me he loved me after two weeks of dating.

2. I am super strong.  I can carry my husband on my back :) And I can lift and carry 80 pound logs no problem.

3.  I LOVE to read.  I lost a library book recently, so I have to go pay for that and then I will be back to reading full time... I hate losing library books.  It probably happened because of our trip up north two weekends in a row.

4.  When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian.  From middle school on, all I wanted to do was be a mom.

5.  I like BIG dogs. 

6.  I am no where close to the person that I used to be.  And I don't miss her at all :) Still working towards being the person that I am supposed to be.  God changes me and is working on me every single day!
7.  I really want a big family.  And I love big family gatherings.

Six Blogs that I have tagged :)
1.  kelly.marie - My future Sister-In-Law... she's a brand new blogger and awesome already.  She's got lots of different things going on - Wedding planning, home decorating, cooking and baking recipes, animals and fashion.
2.  Young House Love - Seriously, if you haven't started following John and Sherry Petersik, you should.  They are the cutest couple, married on 7/7/07 in their own DIY backyard wedding, bought their second house recently and they are DIY EVERYTHING.  They recently did a big console that looks pretty fabulous, a patio, and even some curtains... and Sherry and John seem to tackle anything and everything.  No project too big for the Petersiks... plus they have a cute little dog Burger and a cute little baby, Clara.  Love them.  Lots.
3.  This Space For Rent - My dear friend, Megan, writes about her adventures in life and infertility and life as an army wife.  Love it, love her.  She's super honest and down to earth and always has something interesting to say!
4.  Reach In, Reach Out, Reach Up - Heather writes about her life, her walk with Christ, her journey through infertility, pregnancy loss, mission trips and adoption.  Love her and her honest approach.  She is the sweetest girl, and just reading her blog makes you want to send her e-cards :)
5.  When Hello Means Goodbye - Katie and Robb chronicle their life after losing their son Brenham Jay, who was born too soon, in February of 2008.  They have adopted two ADORABLE little boys, Grayden and Sadler.  They are still in the process of finalizing Salder's adoption and he is just under 2 months old :)
6.  Just Married Real Estate - My friend from way back in 6th grade is writing a blog with her husband.  Anne and Nick write together about all sorts of different things.  Anne is in the Fashion industry and way into fashion... (Even back in middle school I remember her having all sorts of fabulous clothes.) And Nick is a real estate agent.  They live right outside New York City.  Just an adorable newlywed couple with all sorts of adorable subjects that they talk about!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Parenting First

Yesterday, Jack and I experienced a big "first" in parenting!  It was moving and encouraging, scary and awesome all at the same time. 

We had to go to Home Depot after Jack got home from work to buy a new breaker for our Air Conditioner.  Last year, we spent the summer wiring and unwiring the dryer and the a/c because we didn't have two 220 breakers.  So on the days we had air, I could not use my clothes dryer... which really was just as well because one of the first projects that we had when we moved in last year was to put up a clothes line :P  I must say, I'm not quite sure why we did that when the breaker was only $10 and change.  That was a lot of effort to not spend $10.

After Home Depot, we hit up Target to browse the baby gear.  (I do have a lot of corrections from my previous post on baby gear too!)  I haven't heard from my licensing worker yet about when our next home visit is, so we are just trying to be prepared by getting all of the things that we need to get before we are licensed.  It's somewhat expensive all at once, so we are trying to spread it out over a few weeks' time, so hopefully the home visit is not next week!  Eeek! (And of course, at the same time I'm wishing the home visit was tomorrow so that we could just get it done and get licensed!!!)

My last post about the baby gear that we were thinking about buying sparked a lot of comments and emails where people shared with me their tips and personal experiences.  That lead me to delve even deeper in the personal reviews online of each of these travel systems.  I know that the normal parent is not going to be able to give me advice on which things we should buy right now, as we are not a typical family.  We will be getting a child anywhere from hours old newborns to 9 years old, which means that we can't just start with a typical infant seat and buy the next one in a year when the baby gets to that stage like everyone else.  We need to make a purchase that works for newborns and then the next we need to buy (at the same time really) is the next seat up, that can hopefully transition all the way up. Buying all the seats that you will need for 5 to 100 lbs is kind of a challenge!

I wanted to show Jack the differences between these travel systems, I needed his opinions on this purchase because hopefully if we do it right the first time, it will save a lot of money in the end.  We headed to the baby gear section and literally pulled every stroller/car seat combo off the shelves that we compared.  Here Jack and I are, kneeling down and inspecting bit by bit each one.  We probably looked ridiculous... but I don't care.  If I'm gonna buy something, I want to kick the tires first. 

We narrowed it down at Target to a Chicco and a Graco at a certain point.  While Jack is folding and unfolding the strollers and showing me which ones do and don't have suspension (typical Jack) I'm trying to tell him that all the reviews that I have read online say that people who have a Chicco love their Chicco and people who have a Graco love their Graco... so I guess it boils down to personal preference.  While I'm telling him this and leaning back to  look at some feature he's found that I would never have thought to add to a stroller... this visibly pregnant woman walks over to us.  (Not a store employee.) 

"I have the Chicco and used it for my first."  She dives right into this story about her first baby and what she didn't like about the Chicco when it sat in a shopping cart and almost tipped over, which she admitted was her fault since the manufacturers say that these are not intended for that kind of use.  She pointed out the undercarriage to both and the advantages and disadvantages of having the infant car seat in the stroller and being able to get into the storage bin underneath.  She said that she's 6 months along and preparing to figure out if she's going to use the same system or purchase another one for the next child. 

Our first?  She talked to us like parents.  A big loss that we have experienced is in the world of adults, we cannot relate to the majority of adults.  Usually when people with children talk to us, it's never as a peer.  If they mean to or not, they can be down right rude to us about the fact that we aren't parents or don't know what brands of car seats the children's pediatric blah blah blah prefers.  This woman was awesome, she only said, "I don't know if you're buying this for yourself or as a gift or what..." And left it open ended.  We didn't answer.  She looked at my obviously not pregnant belly (lol at that... I was going to say flat, but obviously it's not quiiiite flat!) and just moved on. 

One of the things that I was worried about from the way we have been treated in the past, was that we will still be singled out for not having given birth to the children that we raise.  That we would not be considered "real" parents.  Well, I personally know that's ridiculous, we are more of real parents than the parents who neglected their children so that they end up in our care in the first place.  Giving birth to a child does not equal more of a parent, not at all. 

It was just so... indescribable to be talked to like a parent.  This woman who was pregnant didn't question how we were becoming parents, she just gave us advice from an already first time parent to brand new first time parents.  No judgment, no condemnation, no condescension.  I know a lot of people who have never been in my shoes are probably rolling their eyes at this one, but trust me, you will never understand the rude things that people say and do. 

This lady was a breath of precious fresh air.  So dear 6 month pregnant lady, you were such a blessing to me yesterday!! I appreciated you stepping in and talking to us like parents to be... what an awesome feeling that was!!


Anyway - On to the baby gear.

Like I have said a million times, we are getting licensed to accept a child aged newborn to 9 years old.  This means that the children will weigh anywhere from 5 pounds (well obviously they might be less) to 50ish pounds... possibly more, you really never know how much a 9 year old might weigh.  I mean, Maury has 4 year olds that weigh over 100 pounds... so hey.  I was in 8th grade when I weighed 105, so I am not quite sure if that's typical or what. 

I believe that anyone under 57" has to at least have a booster seat.  I don't think I hit 5'3" until I was in 8th or 9th grade maybe?  So 6 inches shorter than that... maybe up through 5th or 6th grade children will need a booster seat.... so that's 10-12ish years old.  So much math we have to do.  Of course who knows if these children that we are placed with are typical or atypical.  From everything that we have been taught in all of our classes, it's that these children are MOST likely to be physically delayed.  So much smaller than your average child at that age, due to the nature of the neglect and abuse that they go through. 

Anyway - since we can't predict the future and we have no way of knowing what children will be placed with us, we are trying to cover all of our bases. 

Which means, we need an infant car seat.  Enter the travel system that we have settled on:
Baby Trend Travel System - Columbia





The car seat is rated from 5 to 30 pounds and the stroller is up to 50 pounds. 

What I like about this one:
(Take this with a grain of salt as I have obviously never used it for it's intended purpose which is with an infant, taking it in and out of a car and lugging it around.)
-The colors and patterns.  ADORABLE!  Plus, totally unisex.
-The handle on the car seat.... seriously, I like that much better than the others.  I might end up hating it when it comes to actually using it daily or however often, but for now, I like it.
-The shape of the storage bin underneath.


So we will need to cover 30+ pounds to 65ish pounds and beyond next.

Enter our booster-

The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Booster Car Seat.



(PLEASE do not quote me on this - we looked at this in the store and now I'm trying to make sure this is the right one.)
If this is the right one, this one is rated forward facing for 22lbs to 100lbs.  It can use the 5 point harness as the baby grows and then later can be used to position the seat belt in the right spot over the shoulder and then, this is the part that I'm not quite sure on... In the store the one we looked at can be used as a backless booster... this one isn't saying that online, but I'm fairly certain that it is the correct one and it can be used as a backless booster seat as well. 

So, I think with those two car seats we will successfully and safely be able to transport any children that are brought to our doorstep!

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Home Visit

Last week, I spent every single day dusting and vacuuming (well, to be perfectly honest, my mom helped with a lot of the vacuuming and mopping and cleaning part) and rearranging and organizing every little thing I could think of.  All leading up to Saturday morning... when our licensing worker came out to do our first meeting and home inspection.  To say that I was a nervous wreck was the understatement of the century!

Our licensing worker, Andrea, arrived 10 minutes early and I didn't even have time to take one sip of my coffee before she arrived.  She was so laid back and relaxed, and on top of that she had a German Shepherd so she was really digging our dogs... which was another thing we were worried about.  She went through each room of our house, nodding and smiling.  She measured each of the bedrooms.  She confirmed that we could definitely put the beds into bunk beds.

In the end, she just went over a little bit of paperwork and asked if we had any questions.  She said that she was going to do our interviews at the next meeting, and that it would be our last one and then we would just have to wait for our license to come in the  mail and we would be able to be on the waiting list to accept foster children!!

We have a few things left to get, so I'm going to do pictures just to show you what we have picked out for funsies (Jack laughs every time I say that... and yes, I am aware that is not a real word.)

1.  A crib (Duh!  We had just waited to purchase it because we were so unsure of what kinds of things would need to happen in order to be licensed and if we would really pass and all that paranoid stuff... silly us.)



We thought that a convertible crib would definitely be our best bet, considering the fact that we are open to the ages of newborn to 9 years old, we will be able to cover a lot of bases.  This crib also converts to a toddler bed and a day bed and then a full size bed if we so desired.  (Obviously, we would need a full size bed, but the back of the crib is a headboard and then front is a foot board. )

(I edited this post to add all the sheets that I picked out that I thought were super cute! )



2.  Car Seat
 This car seat comes with a travel set, so it has the stroller that the car seat can snap into, and also can be used as a regular stroller without the car seat snapping in. This car seat will accommodate from newborn to 50 pounds and can be used as rear facing for infants and then turned around for front facing for an older child, or after the child we get placed with gets older, whichever.

We picked this set because it's unisex and will not just be very baby-ish it will also be fine for a toddler too.

 
(This is the convertible car seat that I am thinking about.)



I am really really digging the brown and green and yellow.  These things that we have picked are certainly not top of the line, as we are purchasing everything for ourselves and we have a limited budget... but I think they are quality brands that we will be able to trust and will still last for several years to come.

I am kinda feeling the jungle-y theme too.  Since Jack and I started trying to get pregnant over 3 years ago, immediately I was drawn to jungle animals.  I don't really like the mainstream popular Jungle bedding that is out there right now.  I actually have some 1930's reproduction fabric with elephants and giraffes on it that is a mustard-y yellow color and a green print of the animals.... Oh man I LOVE it.  Elephants, Giraffes and Hippos are my absolute favorite so I am pretty sure anything that I buy will end up having to do with those if I like the print :)




Like this - totally totally adorable :)


3.  Booster Seat
(I don't think I need to post a picture of this one, as they are pretty simple and about $20 whereever you go.)

4.  Baby Monitors
This is pretty self explanatory.  We picked a simple (non video) monitor.

5.  Baby Gates.
Again, self explanatory.  One for the top and bottom of stairs, to be used if we have an toddler who is mobile who doesn't know how to climb the stairs safely.

...

Yup... That was IT!

Here I was thinking we would have to buy a locking cabinet for our chemicals... (We have childproof things on the cabinet doors under the sink and that's sufficient.)  I had no idea what kinds of things we would need around the house, I was expecting this huge laundry list of things to fix, update or change and that it would take us weeks or even months to get through it all.  Nope, she said she recommends a few things but that we are not required to have them, and that it is up to our own discretion.

Andrea very briefly went over the list of the types of children that we were willing to accept into our home, and how many.  She said that if we were willing, we can be licensed for 4 children at once if we would like.  We said we were willing to take up to 4 siblings if they were in a sibling group... so that would be a crazy adventure.  She looked at Jack and said, 'Are you okay with four?' and Jack just laughed and said, 'It's really up to her, I'm not going to be home with them all day!!'  LoL!

So, I am so pumped to find out when our next (and last) home visit is.  I am so beyond excited to put together the nursery and get all the furniture purchased for that and have it all set up in the room exactly how I had always pictured to.  I'm excited for the future and to have kids come to our house that we can love and care for.

I did also ask Andrea what would happen if at some point in the future we decided to pursue domestic infant adoption (which is another program at our agency) and she said that she has had families that do foster care and DIA concurrently, so that is definitely a possibility for us down the line.  And for that I am also super super excited.

We could have kids in our home by August!