Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ashley's 2nd Birthday

We celebrated Ashley's 2nd birthday in May with some close friends and family. The kids played outside and then we ate cake and opened gifts. We decided to have a cupcake-themed party. We made a cupcake-shaped cake and cupcakes (of course!). Blowing out the candle on her cake was so fun for her and she also LOVED opening the gifts. She got some really cool gifts--puzzles, books, a big stuffed dog that is as big as she is, a Wigglin' Waterpillar (a water-sprinkler play toy), a gadget box, and a stroller/playpen/high chair for her dolls.

I cannot believe she is 2! She is growing up too fast!

She had a great birthday!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The New Family Addition

No, it's not a baby, it's a new puppy! No, we were not looking for one (especially so soon after Bailey died), he sort of just fell in our lap. And we could not pass up the opportunity to give a dog a good home.

How it happened: Our Godson Conner and his Mom Heather took care of one of her co-worker's Boxer's and thought they might be able to keep it, but Conner is allergic to him. Then they had given him to her boyfriend's son, but he had to stay outside all the time (these are really not outside dogs) and they were not able to play or spend much time with him. So Heather asked if we might want him to come live with us. After thinking and talking about it for several days, we said yes! He is 14 months old, his name is Roscoe, the kids love him (and he loves the kids), and he is a great dog! Rolo is not so sure about this puppy that is trying to take over his domain, but they are playing together and getting to know one another. We feel like he fits right into our family and will be so happy here!

Yes, we know we are crazy--2 kids under 3, a dog, a new puppy, and most likely a new baby in Dec!! We love our life!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blessings and sadness

We recently had a court date for the kids that the court called a status update check. Basically, we were supposed to hear about the progress the parents were making in trying to get their kids to come home to live with them and how the judge felt about it. This was an important hearing because the judge was close to making a decision and the kids would soon be in our care for 1 year, which was the original plan when we got them in Dec 2009. And CPS continued to tell us that the kids would return home and that was their final recommendation. We were soooo worried about it!

We got to court late and practically missed the whole hearing (I'll talk about why later) because our case was called first. After it was over, the court liason asked us if we would adopt the kids if they became available and of course we said yes! She told us that the kids mother (age 21) had a mental assessment performed that reported that she was on a 5th grade educational level and did not have the "nuturing" capability to raise kids. Basically she "didn't know how." And the judge was upset that CPS had left their 3rd baby (now 3 months old) in their home. He wanted the caseworkers to meet about when they would remove that little girl and place it in foster care as well. The consesus from the lawyers was that at the final hearing on Dec 9, the judge would terminate parental rights. We also had a chance to talk to the kids parents, who were understandbly devastated with the outcome of the hearing. They were starting to realize that they might lose their kids for good. They asked us if we would adopt them if that happened, including their new baby girl. Again, we told them yes. We were shocked!! This is not how things were SUPPOSED to go. All of a sudden, adoption (of 3 kids!!) is withing reach! God is so awesome!

Many of you know about our dog Bailey who had a brain tumor removed last year. He has done so well since then. In late July, he began having siezures again and an MRI revealed another, separate unrelated tumor in another area of the brain. This one was not operable and it was very agressively growing. We were not able to leave him alone much after that and on the day of court we had to bring him to the vet to be observed since we were not going to be home. 1 week later on Labor Day, Bailey passed away at our home. We feel like he didn't suffer long and he was surrounded by everyone he loved. He had a great life and was so well-loved, but still we are devastated.

God has now taken one child from us, but is likely giving us 3 to adopt. I have to admit, I question God as to why and how all of the events of this year fit into His plan. The death of my Mom and Bailey and now getting to adopt the kids. Why couldn't she live to see all this? Why did Bailey have to have ANY of the tumors and die? And what is the timing of us getting the kids? And 3?? I know God has a plan, but somehow yet I don't see how it all fits together. And I know I'm not supposed to. And I don't like that!

I guess I'm still on my faith journey!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Major update

It has been a year and a half since my last blog post. Awful! This post will be an update on the last very eventful year of our life. I'll try to keep it short and sweet!

We became licensed to foster and adopt through Child Protective Services (CPS) in August 2009. On December 14, 2009, we were blessed with the phone call that they had 2 kids that needed to be fostered, 7 month-old Rosemary and 2 year-old Danial. We were so excited! They said that it was only fosterting right now, but you never know what could happen. So we accepted them into our home and are so blessed! We had a wonderful Christmas with them and the grandparents enjoyed spoling them so much!

My Mom spent the week of Christmas with us and we had a great time. She loved the kids and was so thrilled they were with us. She was able to feed Rosemary and give Danial rides on her wheelchair with her. I have some great pics from that week. The week after Christmas, my Mom became ill and was admitted to the hospital with respiratory failure and had to be put on a ventilator. After 4 weeks of illness, she passed away on Jan 28, 2010. This was such a difficult time in my life (still is). I cannot even talk about how devastated I am about it. I spend alot of time questioning God as to why He would allow this to happen NOW. It just doesn't make sense to me. I think about my Mom everyday. But I am so thankful for my friends and family who have been there for me through all this.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions and events the last 7 months. Going from 0 to 2 kids at once is overwhelming, along with everything else going on. My Mom's death; Danial was kicked out of 2 daycares for excessive biting; they both had numerous ear infections, colds, and stomach viruses; Rosemary has been teething; trying to work full-time and then Shane lost his job. But through it all we know we are still blessed and we know God has a plan!

There have been 3 court dates about the kids situation and nothing has been decided yet. The status of the case remains "family re-unification," which means the goal is for them go back home to live with there parents. Our next court date is Sept 2 and we have no idea what will happen then. Our judge is conservative and is making the parents prove that they can care for thier children, and they are having numerous pshychological evalutaions to help determine this. So only time will tell. He could make a decision on that day, or he could stretch it out until December, which he hinted he might do at the last court date. Their mom has also given birth to another little girl since their other children came to live with us. They still have custody of that baby so far. It is worrisome to us that they will have 3 kids to take care when they could not care for 2 kids before.

It is devastating to us to think they will go back to their parents. We have put 7 months into their care and development, worried about there well-being, made numerous sacrifices and put them at the center of our lives, while their parents did nothing but neglect their children. I am emotional when I think they will leave us and never come back, that they will never remember us, and that they will be unaffected by our care. There are no words for this hearbreak.

Rosemary does not appear to be delayed at all at 15 months old. It is so exciting to see what skill she will master next! She runs around the house and stays upright most of the time! She is learning to use a fork to eat with and drinks out of a straw. She is trying to color too! She helps you take off her clothes at bathtime. She has grown to hate diaper changes though and throws the most awful tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants! She is heading into those Terrible Two's a little early (Ugh). But when she is happy she has the most intoxicating smile!

Danial (his parents spelled his name differently) did not really speak when he came to us, not even babbling. His behavior was not so great when he came to us either, and he was aggressive at times. He bit other children, and hit occassionally. This is was his way of expressing himself. He cried most of the time and had night terrors. He could not feed himself (never really had table food) and was still on the bottle. He was basically a 2 year-old baby. He has been going to speech therapy for the last 7 weeks and it has helped tremendously! We are excited to finally hear him talk! He understands things so well and is our little helper around the house! He remembers how you do things the first time and always does it the same the next time. He is a creature of habit and gets very upset if you deviate from the way it should be done. After many time-outs, toy-taking, and teaching he is done with throwing tantrums and now just really wants to please you. He is so tender and loves to cuddle and give kisses. He loves to read books now and that's all he wants to do all day. He is learning his colors and doing very well with it! He eats by himself, dresses himself and he is potty-trained! We are so proud of how far he has come in the last 7 months.

I have started running again now our life has settled down a bit. I am training with Houston Fit for the Austin Half Marathon in Feb 2011. I am realizing how much I missed it and how much I need it for my well-being. I work part-time now and Shane has become a stay-at-home Dad and he is really enjoying it!

Hope this was short and sweet enough for you! I'll update again soon with more pics of the kids!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I am learning this week about sacrifice. I thought I knew what it was, but I really didn't. As we are going through the process of adopting, I realize that there are many sacrifices that will have to be made. Lifestyle, freedom, sleep, time, travel, extra money--these are all sacrifices I have thought about, and am willing to make. One thing I did not expect to sacrifice was my job. I once had this situation all worked out. It would go like this: when we got the call that our time had come to adopt a baby, I was going to take a month off, and then come back to work only part-time. The baby would go to Mothers Day Out 2 or 3 days a week. My manager was in agreement and seemed to be fine with this idea. Today I found out differently. While SHE was fine with this situation, our DIRECTOR was not. She told me that if I were to only come back to work part-time, then they would have to post a position for a full-time therapist to replace me, thus leaving me without a job. I felt very betrayed. I have been there 5 years and have really been loyal to them, why couldn't they be loyal to me? I could not understand why they wouldn't allow me this one thing. Now that the shock has worn off, I'm left wondering why have to look for a new (part-time) job.

I have also learned (the hard way) that no matter how hard you plan, God may see it differently. You would think I would know this by now (hello...having a baby--did I not learn anything?), but I forgot it. I should know His plan is better than mine in the end, although it won't be easy getting there.

The last time I was forced to quit a job that I loved (I got laid off), it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm sure this will be too, even if I can't see it right now. But it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Life has been crazy!

I looked at this today and saw that I had not posted since December!

There are so many things going on in our life lately. In January, our 7-year dog Bailey started having seizures. He had one on a Saturday, then another one 12 days later, and then another one the morning after that. Our vet said we could treat it, or find out the cause. Epilepsy was not as likely because he is an older dog, so that meant it could be a tumor. I had a feeling there was something going on, so we went to the neurologist for an MRI. On Feb 2, he was diagnosed with an agressive, fast-growing brain tumor. We were devastated. Our dogs are a part of our family and mean so much to us. The neurologist told us that without treatment he only had 4-6 weeks to live. We labored over and prayed about the decision to have surgery and radiation. We did not want him to suffer, but so far he had no neurological problems, except the seizures, which were now controlled with medication. We also met with an oncologist, who was very encouraging. He said that because of the location of the tumor (in the front of his brain, close to the surface), the surgeon felt she could get most of it. Then he could have radiation and prolong his life by 2-3 years, maybe longer. And they said his quality of life would still be good, which was our main concern. As we were trying to decide, we took the dogs camping. Bailey had such a great time, you would not have known anything was wrong with him! This really helped us to decide to have the surgery. We wanted him to have more of his life to live and enjoy. So, on Feb 26, Bailey had surgery to remove the tumor. The surgeon was very pleased at how much she was able to get (all of it except the margins that were attached to brain matter), and at how well he did during and after the surgery. The day we brought him home, she said he was doing "fabulous." Here are some pics of what he looked like when we brought him home just 5 days later:

Also, they sent home with us an "art project" that he made while he was in the hospital. They said he got so hungry, that he was trying to eat anything in sight, so here is the pic:

See how evenly spaced the holes are? He is so talented! :)

He is still doing great! Since he is supposed to be on bedrest (yeah right, how do you keep a dog on bedrest?), we sent our 1 1/2 year old dog Rolo to Grandma Donna's house until Bailey gets his staples out. This weekend he seems more like his old self (even before the tumor) and feeling good. I am still making him rest, but I am allowing him more freedom in the backyard. He will start radiation 3 times a week for 7 weeks (20 sessions) after we meet with the oncologist on March 16. We really are so blessed and feel this was the right decision for him.

Most of you know of our unsuccessful journey trying to have a baby and how hard it has been. Several months ago, we made the decision to adopt a child though Child Protective Services. So as all of the medical issues with Bailey were starting, we also began our 11 weeks of parenting classes we needed to become licensed as a foster-adoptive home. We are doing what is called Legal-risk Adoption. This is mainly for infants and small toddlers. It means that they would only place a child in our home that met our criteria only if they were 99% sure they were going to terminate the parental rights. So it could be the following situations: a baby is born and the mother leaves it at the hospital, a mother drops off her baby somewhere because she does not want it, a mother has a baby in the hospital and tests positive for alcohol or drugs, and other situations similar to these. There is alot of paperwork, assessments and homework that has to be done, but we are so excited about it! After the first class, I felt sure this was what God wanted us to do.

We'll keep you updated on Bailey and the adoption process along the way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ok, NOW it's snowing!!!

Yes it is!! And it is a beautiful sight. I love the way the snow crunches under your feet when you walk on the grass!