Sunday, January 29, 2017

You Say It's Your Birthday and I Agree

Dear Wyatt,
I love you so much.  I am so glad that you are a perfect angel 98% of the time.  And I know that the other 2% of the time when your teenage brain is betraying you and "Scumbag Joe" has made an appearance that it won't take too long for you to realize that you have hulk raged out before you will turn right back into my angel. 

I love watching all the new changes taking place because they are just indicative of how much you really are growing, if not in height yet in every other way.  And it was no surprise to me to hear all of your answers regarding sleep and bed because my prior to this year, needs the least sleep boy, is changing.

But you don't ever seem to get to old to sneak up on me and give me kisses and hugs.  And on our Netflix nights you are thrilled to get the coveted next to mom spot, but will more often than not defer to a younger sibling.  You are a great brother, an amazing son, a sharp student, a ready smile'er' and all around charmer.  I love you so much.  happy birthday!
Love, Mom

What's your favorite thing to do? Video Games or Netflix

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Psychologist or Neural Scientist

What is your favorite food?
Chinese or Hamburgers

Who do you like to hang out with?
Bailey, Mikey, Neil, Zeke

What do you do really well? 

What makes you laugh?
Jokes, bad jokes, dumb jokes

What is the best time of day?
When I am sleeping!

What are you afraid of?
Oblivion - the unknown

What do you like to do with your family?
Play video games, board games

What do you like to learn about?
Math and Science

Where do you like to go?
My bed

What is your favorite book?
The Paladin Prophecy and The Alchemist

If you could have one wish, what would it be?
Infinite wishes, but if I can't have more wishes, a successful life.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Less Often Used Words

I'm not sure.  It's not something I feel, think or say super often.  I'll be the first to admit if I don't know something but even more often I'll look it up as soon as I realize I don't know it.  It's definitely not something I feel a lot.  I tend to steamroll into things, having planned, prepared, and thought it out ahead of time and so I rush full steam making the best of whatever life and the situation brings with no regrets and backwards glances.  Life is too short for second guessing and questioning your own judgment.

But today, I'm not sure.  I'm not sure I know how to grieve.  I'm not sure if there is a proper way.  I know there are 5 stages and even on the first night, my daughter read them from her newly acquired Christmas gift smart phone to me, informing me I'm already on Stage 4.  You see denial seems pointless to me and I did have time to prepare, anger is not something I like to embrace - so I think I spent a good 10 minutes being angry, moved quickly to bargaining and jumped right over it as it didn't seem useful to me either.  I'm not looking to change what happened, so here I am at depression?  Is that right?  Am I depressed?  Well I don't have the normal signs.  I can function for my kids, my husband, I'm sleeping fine'ish'.  Not as great as normal, but I'm an expert sleeper so no other human would look at my sleep and be worried. 

You see I'm sad because one of our foster kids went back to his bio mom.  And despite doing this more than a half dozen times already, this time it's totally different. I'm not sure if it was because he was a baby versus an older child, you see he was my first baby to foster.  I picked him up from the hospital.  So I guess only time will tell.  But it's really interesting because the level of sadness I've felt has only been matched one other time and that was when my husband and I broke up when we were dating, even then I felt so confident we would end up together it wasn't so crushing or maybe that's the softening of 17 years coming and going.

As I drove to return him to his mother, I struggled not to cry.  I didn't want my fair skin and light eyes to show any signs of crying.  I didn't want his bio mom to be robbed of one moment's joy and worry about my sadness at the return of her baby.  So I held it together. I felt happiness seeing her joy.  My heart was filled with the knowledge that this is why I foster for this moment.  And I kept it together through the exchange of stuff, details, and numbers.  It wasn't until she was settled and ready to return home that I sensed what could be awkwardness and so I said my goodbyes and rushed out.  Breathing the deep, counted breathing that has gotten me through life's biggest crisis.  But once I hit the safety of my car, I cried - the sobbing, can't breath cries of the truly heartbroken.  I drove home quickly to the safety of my home and son who had just gotten off the bus.  I lost myself in taking care of him and the monotony of life's demands. 

But moments would grab me and crush my heart and as the pain clamped down, the hiccupping sobs would surprise and overcome me.  They'd last just a few minutes, before I pulled it back together.  I made a mass announcement on social media knowing I couldn't have this conversation a hundred times in the next few days "where's the baby?"  So here I am three days later.  I'm gripped by sadness still, crying when I think about it, crying as I write this, but I'm also sniffing car seats and washed laundry still smelling baby remnants smiling happily at what my husband and daughter deem the smell of baby spit up.  But it's the smell of him and I have a piece of him still.  I happily watch videos of him and I playing, look at all the pictures and think what a marvelous opportunity this was.  And I feel unsure if I should rush into getting another baby or wait.  I feel unsure if I will ever love another baby like I did this last one. 

But ever the eternal optimist, I think I am ready to jump back in and try it again.  Not sure if I can love as much, not sure if it will be the same or different, not sure if it was the fact that he was a baby that made our bond so strong, or a preemie who clung to life, or if it was his naturally happy and mellow temperament that made our cuddle sessions into a dreamlike quality.  But I can do this again.  So does that make me at acceptance.  And was I always there.  Is acceptance the stage where I have acknowledged every aspect quickly and successively, but allowed myself to feel the pain, to cry the tears, to try again.  And even if I am shocked by surprise tears, I'm just as shocked at my resilience.

And here's hoping that when I contact his mom in a week or so that she will be open to visits, because all I really need is to see him happy to be happy.  I'll never understand how our kids become our whole hearts.  But it's what happens. So here's my declaration that I'm willing to give another piece of control of my heart to someone else.  Love your kids, love your families, love your friends and neighbors.  Go love, that is the one thing I am always sure about! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Wee Ones

Baby fever is in full effect.  I've never been a baby person, but fostering a wee one has changed my perspective.  Maybe it is still just with "my" kids, but fostering a newborn has been the perfect thing for me right now in life.  I wonder how I'll remember this time in 1 year, 5 years, 20. 

We got this perfect, premature, little bundle straight from the hospital.  He was 9 weeks old, but being born at 29 weeks and 2 lbs 10 oz made his stay slightly longer than normal.  After visiting him in the hospital, scurrying to borrow, beg, and buy all the baby gear all over again, we brought him home.  He was still just 5 lbs even. 

We had so many appointments at first: weekly weigh ins, weekly blood work, follow up appointments for his eyes, ears, anemia, monthly RSV vaccines, along with all the normal stuff.  He went from fitting in 1 hand, being attached to tubes and looking a bit like an alien, to the old man phase and just now at just shy of 5 months he has finally found the sweet chubby splendor of a newborn.  I think tomorrow his weigh in will put him at the 10 pound mark. 

Our biggest hurdles now are constipation, developmental delays and the fact that he is healthy enough that he doesn't just sleep all the time anymore.  On the upside, he has started with teeny tiny giggles, lots of talking and cooing, endless smiles for his mama and lots of strangers too, great feeding habits and sleeping through the night.  What happens from here I don't know and to every person asking about adoption, I just don't think that way.  But for now it's beautifully perfect.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

2016 Year in Review - Christmas Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

This year my Christmas letter will come to you via my blog.  When I think about this year, I feel a little sad, a little overwhelmed and a lot excited.  2016 will definitely go down in the books as a growth year.  So let me tell you a little about it.

Last year was epic, one for the books.  We went to Hawaii as a family, I went to Scotland with my sister, life was carefree and good, worries were few.  As the year was coming to a close, I saw ripples of discomfort: little things breaking downs and wearing out, we were approaching some big changes for our family as two foster children were transitioning out of our home, and Travis's employment was becoming more tenuous as his employer and his goals didn't align as well as they once  had.  I'm someone who tends to feel really blessed, but as I ended the year, I felt a little "whoa is me" pity partyish.  I thought I can't wait for 2016, it's going to be so much better - at least that is what I had hoped.

The year started with both of our car's transmissions on the fritz one going out entirely.  We replaced the one on my car which I loved and decided to trade in Travis's car for a new one.  At the dealership, they suggested we sell privately as it was an older car, decent miles, and manual.  They didn't feel like they would make much selling it and would just send it straight to Auction, but that we could get more privately.  We Kelly Blue booked it and concurred.  We bought a car straight out expecting to sell our car and recover at least 2/3 the cost, leaving us paying only a small amount of our savings for the new car.  Once we listed our car publically, we got many calls, but quickly learned from the first serious buyer after he had Carfaxed it with the VIN, that the miles had been illegally turned back.  We had purchased it privately and clearly had not done as much due diligence.  As we considered what to do, we found/felt that morally and legally we needed to disclose our recent and unwanted information, rendering the car worthless, we took a huge loss in the cars department initially and even more so when the new car ended up needing a new engine later this year.

Then in February Travis lost his job.  There is a whole story there, but suffice to say, the company ended up realizing that they could not afford to keep Travis with the amount of business they were currently doing.  After moving him from salary to hourly, from hourly to no overtime, then requesting he go back to salary - which he denied, they let him go.  We had been dually running our own company, but it looked like there was no better time to depend on that income 100% and grow it into its full potential than now.  Clearly it was a little scary, but Travis and I have always been stronger in a crisis. 

March the transitions of foster children was complete and what is normally stressful become exponentially so when, one of them had a change of heart, unfriended me on facebook and cut off the relationship in its entirety with no rhyme or reason.  My kids voiced their concerns over their desire to continue to foster and the toll it was taking on our family and so we decided to take a break from fostering for a while.

Through the summer things stayed steady even in their stressful state.  Determining how much money to use or save as we adjusted to living solely on the one income, feeling out the family dynamics without extra children around, cutting back on vacations in case we would need the money later.  At the end of summer our family made the decision to foster again, but instead with babies in the hope that where they had more physical demands they would have less emotional ones.  We were told not to expect a placement anytime soon as babies were in the highest demand.  We thought we would have a continued break.

Then in the fall, we started having trouble with our HOA, we got a premature infant placement, were forced to make a million hard business choices including the need to hire more people and not being able to afford enough new hires and so making the hard decision for me to take a more active role in the company as office manager.  Just as we started to settle into one of those major changes, we were thrown a life curve ball and one of our foster children that we had years ago had a father who died and him having found him, with no real family to step in.  His request to be with us vs. a group home made our choice for us essentially and we found ourselves with another child, totally overwhelmed and wondering what more could happen this year.

Now lest you fear, there have been sad times and days, but I have recognized the Lord's hand in my life, the million of things I can be grateful for and a remembered knowledge that other years that have felt like this and seemed hard to bare have turned into great years of learning that further down the road were appreciated because I saw that Heavenly Father had been preparing me for something else.  So although I'm hoping 2017 is better, I can't wait to see what this year was all about and all I learned that I will use later.

In the meantime, on a lighter note:

Travis is the owner, operator, and driller in our company.  He works endlessly from sun up to sun down.  He is still the greatest husband, trying to amidst an obscene amount of demands on his time and energy always to take care of me and the kids.  He has helped with the infant filled sleepless nights like a champ.  He will be 40 next month, but I still think he is sexy as ever.

Mary is still trying to conquer the world one volunteer opportunity at a time.  She tries to serve anyone with a need and struggles daily to balance the fine line in determining good, better, best and choosing best.  She finally feels all the excess energy that she's always had reached to it's maximum use.  Someday she dreams of sleeping endlessly and feeling restless from so much down time.

Isabella, 14, is the Jack of all Trades and is like a butterfly trying to follow and pursue her every interest.  She does sports, music, student government, clubs, academics and is dying to learn fluent Spanish and go to Spain - which is likely to happen summer 2017.  She is hard working and so reasonably successful at everything she does.  She is a sight to behold. 

Wyatt, 12, is "scumbag Joe".  Basically it is his teen alter ego that developed this year, named by him  It is the anger filled, testosterone Wyatt who isn't in a sports season trying to manage the influx of hostile hormones.  Physical activities, soccer this year and quite good for his first year, help take the edge of Joe.  When he is not Joe he is still the sweetest, kindest, most mellow, loving, affectionate, touchy feely heartbreaker of a son.  He will make the best husband someday.

Issac, 11, is growing leaps and bounds.  Both physically and mentally.  He may still talk like a baby occasionally, but he is mastering new skills rapidly and excitedly.  It turns out he has lots of musical talent, can sing like an angel, but refuses to join the middle school chorus.  He is picking up cello and piano quickly and he loves it.  He is excited for Boy Scouts and joining Young Men's next year.  He loves stuffed animals and Legos though.  It's the perfect mix of boy and man.

Kody, 9, has grown also a ton this year.  He has been deemed "the judge: in our house since his wisdom and empathy make him a good source for advice.  He has jumped leaps and bounds academically and started piano and violin.  He loves the dog and the foster kids with more depth than any of us and helps our family keep the peace.  He is the perfect finish to our family.

As for our foster kids...Jonathin has suffered a huge loss and a lot of trauma, as such he is adjusting, changing, refinding his way.  He will start therapy after Christmas and we will work to find him his forever family but in the meantime it is fun to relive having him here with us.  He despite being two days older than Wyatt has developed some real man characteristics.  It's crazy to have the start contrast of what a 12 year old should look like. 

Cian, pronounced key in, has been a bundle of joy, like a doll.  We have endless fun and snuggles with him.  It is fun to watch the innocence again of  a newborn learning the world for the first time.  All of these things just eek us into the I guess we'll keep him category despite the sleepless nights, the millions of Dr.'s appointments-which are finally decreasing, and the mountain of self care that has slowed my productivity by half.

We feel super blessed, extremely enriched and constantly supported and uplifted but the Savior, Jesus Christ.  As each year passes, I see both my children and my testimonies growing.  I see a larger dependence on him and his atonement and know that despite the million ways I question my parenting this may be the one thing Travis and I have going for us.  We are raising kids who love him and try to honor him and Heavenly Father, and want to be obedient even when they aren't.

We hope you have had a year with every happiness you desire.  We love you all. 
The Whitings

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Issac Turns 11

What's your favorite thing to do?
Play video games and play with the dog

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
A Scientist

What is your favorite food?

Who do you like to hang out with?
Mom, friends - Chase, Nolan, Cooper, Andrei, Carter

What do you do really well? 
Smile - I don't know.  I don't really do anything well.  I can't think of anything.

What makes you laugh?
Dad's corny jokes,

What is the best time of day?
Lunch Time

What are you afraid of?
The dark, losing my friends

What do you like to do with your family?
Going to Texas

What do you like to learn about?

Where do you like to go?
Texas, Hawaii

What is your favorite book?
I Totally Funniest - James Patterson

If you could have one wish, what would it be?
To be Super fast
Student of the Month the month of his birthday was icing on the cake.
This sweet, kind, happy child is very conscious of everything around him even though he might not seem like it.  He worries he's not as smart or good or funny as his siblings.
He loves the dog fiercely and cries most times the baby is crying hard.  It breaks his wee bitty heart.
He's handsome and increasingly like my husband, which makes him a favorite of mine.
Oh to hold on to these moments and cherish each one, taking time to absorb every second, because time is fleeting too quickly.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, child

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November Was A Blur

So after visiting our newest foster child at Hershey Medical in October, he was discharged to our care on October 25th. I forgot how much a newborn can addle your brain.  Whether it is the absolute lack of sleep, the non-existent interaction with other functioning adult brains, or just the vortex of happy baby snuggles and endless feedings.  The month disappeared with hardly a thought.  But I have pictures that confirm I did things and continued through the steps maybe not as technically proficient and competently, but I managed to catch the autumn leaves, help plan a friend's wedding and reception, take the boys and our slightly jealous dog to the dog park where a litter of new German Shepard puppies happened to be, pull off a Women's Club Auction, decorate for Christmas and take a trip to Texas.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Field Trip to the Renaissance Faire

We took a field trip to the Renaissance Faire.  I've been there a few times, once on my own field trip several decades ago.  This was probably my favorite time as an adult.  I've come to the conclusion that when they do it on weekends it is too bawdy for my taste.  But during the week when it is targeted for schools it's appropriate and interesting.  It's an experience you won't have a ton of other places.  I don't know that I will ever pay to go back, but I'll keep on chaperoning the field trips.