Saturday, March 19, 2016

Losses and Gains

He's 6 months old today! A milestone for any baby, but one that I've been thinking about a lot, particularly with him. You see, the first six months of a baby's life are super duper critical.  No one really ever tells you this before you have kiddos.  Oh, I took the child development classes.  But it wasn't until our foster care classes, all three rounds of them, that it really sunk in.

Really, the first 12 months are critical, but in the first 6 months the attachment and bonding that occur will follow a child, for better or worse, throughout their life.  

All I could hear during this last round of classes were the terrible side effects associated with the loss and separation a child experiences in their first 6 months. Already "J" had had two very significant ones and we were about to be his third. I left every Tuesday night class feeling like we were fighting a losing battle.   

We waited while the wheels of the system turned incredibly slow.  Every email, phone call, text, stressing the need to have him with us before that 6mo deadline. Thankfully, we had J's foster family on our side, and they pulled the rug out from under the system, hard. And then it was our turn. 

The last month and a half has not been cake. It hasn't even been anywhere close to resembling anything close to dessert.  Babies are hard. Period. Foster babies come with their own challenges. 

I know the really hard part, the purple-crying, up all night, crazy newborn phase had been done for us. (We can never thank J's foster parents enough for their time and energy)but I won't lie. His arrival threw us all off our groove. 

I think we're faking it pretty well.  Every day is easier. Two nights ago I was the only one awake. It was late and I was trying to sneak in the last episode of "Parenthood" (don't judge me for my Netflix choices) before turning off my light. 

Joe and Julia (two main characters) had just found out the birth mother of their 11 yr old adopted son was about to have a baby girl and she was hoping they would adopt her as well.  As they met with the caseworker, I started to cry.  It wasn't so long ago I got a very similar text.  And while they were given the weekend to consider, Dean and I got 15 minutes.  

They decide their lives are full.  They're done.  But as the weekend progresses they both have second thoughts. I was expecting the happy ending. The part where they both reconsider and decide, "of course we'll completely turn our lives upside down and adopt!" What I wasn't expecting was for one line to really touch me. Julia looks at Joel and says, "so we're really doing this?" and he responds, "she's already ours".

I was overcome.  A complete mess. I woke Dean up out of a dead sleep and made him listen to my blubbering.  The writers nailed it. That is exactly how I felt when I found out about baby "J". 

So, there it is.  We had exactly 6 weeks and three days with him before he reached his 6 month mark.  I think/hope/know it made a difference.  And even though we were one of his losses, I like to think we were also one of his gains. We can never give back what was taken from him, but we can try every day to come close. 

Happy 6mo "J"! We can't wait to see what mountains you will move.  For now, let's just work on sleeping through two nights in a row!

Friday, March 18, 2016


I'll admit, I was nervous when one of my very best friends asked if she and her daughter could come to AZ and visit over Spring Break.  Not nervous for the company, but nervous because way down here, there's not much to do.  Thankfully their main goals were to see "a real desert" and do some thrifting.  Two things I was happy to say I could easily provide. 

We found our way to Saguaro National Park.  Actually, a really beautiful place.  I am always impressed by National Parks, and this time was no different.  We even got in free thanks to having two fourth graders in our company. The Federal Government supplied every fourth grader with a free park pass this year. (Getting the passes printed was a pretty funny story too involving a late night, a hotel lobby, a super slow computer and some good quality time with my friend, both bra-less and in our pajamas)  

Their trip also included a visit to the Desert Museum.  Apparently the second most visited place in Arizona. Number one being the Grand Canyon, of course. We saw javelina, cougar, bobcat, hummingbirds, snakes, and even a bear using the bathroom which became a running joke among the kiddos and the highlight for Sadie.  She's still taking about it... "Mom, remember when the bear was pooping and we watched?"

building cairns

I'm sure he was feeling like the third wheel all week, but he was a trooper

Swearing in as Jr. Ranger's

We had our hands full.  Five kids between us. Something she handles on a regular basis.
 I was so grateful for her extra hands!

Hummingbirds at rest, and building nests.  Fascinating!

I mustache you a question!

We went from Tombstone to Tucson and every thrift store and junkyard in between.  We even snuck in one last adventure to Casa Grande on our way to the airport.  (Thank goodness for smartphones and GPS)
I know it's unusual for a 10 year old to have a best friend of the opposite sex, but I know they're better for it.  I asked him what he enjoys about her friendship and he thoughtfully replied," she's funny and she listens to me." I hope he always remembers what makes a good friend. I know she gets it from her Mama. 

I know they'll be back.  Byrdie still has a few things on her desert to do list, among them, swimming and a scorpion hunt.  We can't wait to oblige.
Come back soon!!  The desert misses you!! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

San Diego in October

 This past October (2015) Dean had a conference in San Diego.  Lucky us, because in October, kids are pretty much free at attractions all over San Diego.  We piled in the car ready for the beach and excited to pick up grandma and grandpa who were flying in to meet us.

 Night time along the Embarcadero...

The San Diego Zoo...

 The Mormon Battalion Historical Site...

 La Jolla Beach & Coranado Beach

Were headed back in a few weeks, and I wanted to have our last trip documented before we have new photos.  Better late than never, Right? It takes us longer to get to this beach than when we lived in Alabama, but it's a shorter drive than going home, so I call that a win!