Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sunshine's Classiest Statement to Date

Eagle: Burp! Burp, Mommy! Burp!
Sunshine: Eagle, it's not called a burp when it comes out of your butt!!!!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Only in homes like ours...

...is an announcement that someone welcomed a new baby followed by:

From her tummy or from a caseworker?

In 2 1/2 years, I can only think of one friend who has actually birthed a baby (or three). But many more than that who have "had babies" (or kids) through CPS.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Creations

Approximately twelve pounds of sugar on two small houses

Homemade ornaments pre-glitter

Merry Christmas 2015!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chickadee's Prayer

from this morning, over her breakfast. Something like:

God is Grace, God is good, let us thank you for our food. Jesus Christ. God. Thank you, God, for Jesus in your tummy and he will come out on Christmas from your tummy because it's his birthday.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Petsmart

Four kids standing on a bench watching the dogs get groomed.

One two-year-old yelling at the top of his lungs, in his horsey voice because all he does is yell at the top of his lungs:

MOMMY! DOGGIE! PENIS!!!!!! DOGGIE! PEEEEEEEENIS!!!!!!!

So awesome.

The Reason for the Season

We were driving around our neighborhood the other night looking at lights. There's a house around the corner that always has a gigantic lit up cross in the yard at Christmastime.

Chickadee: a cross!!
Me: yes, who is a cross supposed to remind us of?
Them: Jesus!
Me: uh huh and they put that out for Christmas because they want us to remember that Christmas is not about Santa Claus. It's about...whose birthday is on Christmas?
Sunshine: MRS. GEEN!!!! (her teacher...true story, her birthday IS on Christmas but....)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Query from Chickadee

"Mommy, 'member I got a flu shot?"
Yes.
"I cry for my flu shot?"
Yes.
"Cuz I don't know where it flew to!"

Where Has December Gone?

-to lots of glitter on homemade ornaments
-to many ornaments on the tree. On ONE branch of the tree.
-to four opportunities to see Santa and four failed attempts to get people to actually take a picture with him.
-to packing up and then unpacking Eagle in the most last minute change of plans I have had in 30 kids.
-to lots of bike riding in the cul de sac because it's been 70-something most days lately.
-to lots of work and school but we are all counting the days (2 more for me, 3 more for them) until we are off for Christmas break.

Eagle's New Chants

At bedtime. At the top of his lungs.

"TEXAS! FIGHT! TEXAS! FIGHT!"
"Momma, Mommy, Tammy, Speed, Chickadee, Sunshine, Stubby" (repeat)
"Yellow? Green? Blue? Green?"

Thursday, December 3, 2015

An Advent Project

Given to us by the kids' godparents is a little bucket with 25 sticks in it. Each stick has something to do written on it to prepare for advent. So far, we have sung songs, read about St. Nicholas, and said "Thank you, God!" to the night sky.

Tonight's task was to tell a gift you have that you share with others.

Sunshine: I am good at helping people get up when they fall.
Speed: I am good at vacuuming and helping people vacuum.
Chickadee: I help people carry stuff.
Eagle: HELP!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Eagle's New Skill

Eagle has developed enough language to tattle in his own way.

Mommy. Speed. Sticker. Table. (Speed put a sticker on the table).

Mommy. Chickadee. Kick. Arm.

and on and on and on. He is winning this week's award for Biggest Tattletale.

Our First Movie Experience...

...was one that doesn't need to be repeated for a good long while.

Theaters have gotten fancy and come with electronic recliners. This was the highlight for Speed and probably NOT the highlight for the kid in the chair next to him.

Up....
Down....
Up....
Down....
Up.....
Down.....

Attention spans of three year olds aren't long enough for a movie. I know this. This is why I have never EVER taken a 3 year old (there have been many!) to a movie in the past 8 years. After 30 minutes, Chickadee was done.

Can we go?
Is it over?
I wanna leave!
Take me home!
Can we pleeeeeeeease go home now?

Only Sunshine held in for the whole movie. She quietly munched popcorn and never took her eyes off the screen.

I. Love. Movies.

I. Love. My. Kids.

I do not, however, love the combo platter of the two!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hilarious

Speed learned a new word today, apparently.

Hilarious.

I think he said it forty times while I was cooking dinner.

It was, well, hilarious.

Chickadee's New Obsession

Move over, medical supplies.
Sorry, canula.
There's a new obsession in town:

Port-a-potties!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Six. Years. Old.

We celebrated Speed turning six today with a small party, a pinata, a new bike and his two favorite gifts: a spiderman lunchbox and a lanyard/keychain from a friend. The day was a bit chaotic since we celebrated Halloween AND a birthday on the same day, but we managed to eat our weight in junkfood and play as much as we could.

Six things to love about Speed:
6. He still has a vacuum obsession. This is proving to be very handy, especially as he gets older and does a pretty decent job.

5. Speed is a neat freak. He organizes his drawers regularly, will make your bed and arrange your stuffed animals if asked, and can fold a load of laundry as well as a grown up. He likes to be a helper and takes great pride in his chores.

4. Is a basketball pro. I'm not sure where he is learning all these tricks....afterschool care, maybe?...but he understands a free throw line, can do circles around the ball while dribbling, spin (sort of) the ball on his finger, and can shoot quite a few baskets on our Speed sized ball hoop. Occasionally, he will say he wants to play ball when he grows up.

3. Loves chapter books and bookmarks. The dude does not particularly enjoy sitting to read for very long, but the idea of "reading the next chapter" and marking that page with a bookmark is so appealing to him. We have numerous bookmarks made of paper, sticky notes, sticks, etc. floating around the house.

2. Is becoming much more social with his friends. We were trick or treating earlier this evening and ran into a classmate of his. They both shrieked each other's name and gave big hugs. I can't often get him to tell me things about school, but tonight made it obvious that he enjoys his classmates.

1. Is expecting to grow a beard and mustache this year. I jokingly said to him last night: "Tomorrow you will be six. I wonder if you will wake up with a mustache." He actually LOOKED IN THE MIRROR this morning to check. But tonight, as I was leaving his room, said "I might not wake up with a mustache or beard tomorrow. Maybe because I am not that old. Maybe I have to wait till I am 12."

Happy Birthday, Speed. Time to slow down on the growing up part, ok? I love you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Great TV Debate

Sunshine was home sick today. Usually she gets to watch my iPad if she is sick but it was charging. I actually turned on the TV for her.

As I opened the cabinet doors to expose the circa 2000 box style TV, I'm pretty sure she gasped. (and not like YOU would gasp...because it's so old. Nope. They had no idea we had a TV!)

Later today:

Sunshine: Speed, I got to watch the TV.
Speed: You watched the iPad?
Sunshine: No, the TV!
Speed: I thought you stayed home. Where did you watch TV?
Sunshine: HERE!! I DID stay home!!!
Speed: Sunshine! We don't have a TV!!
Sunshine: Yes, we do. It's in that box thing in the living room.

Dead silence.

Eyebrows raised.

"Mommy, do we really have a TV in our house?"
-Yes.

Then he turned back to Sunshine.
Him: How did you watch it?
Her: On the floor.
Him: No, I mean like did you put it on the table or bring it to the playroom?
Her: No, it stays in that box thing.

More questions about what she watched, how to turn it on, where she sat.

Never ever: Can we watch it sometime?
(answer would have been yes, sometime.)

If ever there were a conversation I wish I had on video, this would be it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

File This One Under...

"The struggle is real."

I did Chickadee's hair on Thursday night. Purple beads. Many, many, time sucking purple beads.

We were going to a wedding on Saturday.

On Friday, when I was packing for our trip, I realized that she has not one.single.nice.thing. that could match a head of purple.

It was easier to go to the store and hunt down a dress that would match than it would have been to redo her hair.

Waiting for wedding cake

Sunday, October 18, 2015

True Story

Speed is going to start taking part in "homework club" in the mornings before school to give him a bit of a boost.

Here's how the "sell" of this new "club" went:

"Ms. (teacher) and I decided that you would be a great kid to go to Homework Club. It's a special club where you get to do HOMEWORK in the morning before school. What do you think about that?"

"Does Sunshine get to go?"

"Nope. You have to be a big kid."

"Will all my friends be there?"

"Nope, only kids that Ms. Teacher thinks should go."

"I get to do it and not everyone else is going?"

"Yup."

"HA!"

And off  he went to gloat to Chickadee. Wonder if I can do this again in middle school...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Eight Years

 WHAAAAAAATTTTT???????


I celebrated 8 years and 30 kids today at a drive thru safari park with my three keepers, the Eagle, and two friends I wouldn't have if it weren't for foster care. It was a perfect day. As Speed said, "It was a most awesome day with most awesome things. It was a special treat!"

We celebrated with 3 kids out of car seats (sorry, Eagle...we're sticking to the rules for you!) driving 5 mph on a sunny Texas day. Chickadee parked herself on my lap and fed any animal that came along. ("EXCEPT THE ZEBRA! I DIDN'T FEED THE ZEBRA, MOMMY, BECAUSE OF HIS YUCKY TEETH!")

Sunshine scooted around between all four windows and the sunroof and was braver than expected when it came to feeding critters. Eagle was very patient from his seat and threw food out the window and Speed told us repeatedly that Eagle was very, very afraid (You sure it's EAGLE who is afraid?). The second time through, Speed loosened up but still only fed a couple animals.



At the end of the road (which we traveled twice), there was a small petting zoo filled with baby goats. The kids were VERY intrigued by goat butts and goats drinking milk.


We ended our journey with Chik fila and a stop at Buc-ees (because we can't set wheels on I-35 without stopping at Buc-ees..)

I wonder what my expectations were 8 years ago. I can't remember if I thought I'd be fostering for a long time or short time or what. I'm sure I didn't realize the number of people, not just the kids who would come through the door, but the number of people who would impact my life over the years. Grateful for all involved.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ish

from Sunshine:

Mommy, if something is kinda like something else, we call that -ish.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Speaking of School


I went to back to school night the other night without kids. I passed the principal, who unfortunately knows us all too well. She says: "So far, so good! right?"

Not sure that was a compliment, but whatever.

Short answer: Yes. So far, so good.

We are all off to a good start.

Speed is enjoying kindergarten and all the "big kid" responsibilities that come with it, like a daily planner and saying the pledge in the cafeteria before going to class in the morning.

Sunshine is in her glory in pre-k. She has the same teacher that Speed had last year so has been comfortable there from day one. Academics come easy for Sunshine so this is a nice opportunity to shine. (As an aside, I am amazed at the information I get about pre-k this year vs. last year. Boy vs. girl? Difference in language skills? Difference in personalities and desire to share? Who knows, but boy! What a difference!)

Chickadee and Eagle are still at their "hole in the wall but we love it anyway" daycare. Chickadee now brings her backpack and water bottle to school every day so she can be like the big kids.

And me? I changed jobs recently and am in a school myself. I may be the one having the hardest time adjusting...after nine and a half years at my previous job, I have different colleagues, work with a different population as far as needs go, and have a very different (very full-time, very not flexible) schedule that requires me to shop at HEB with four kids in tow every single Saturday morning. Every time I wonder why I made such a change, I think of next summer, when we can be footloose and fancy free for days on end.

Pajama Day

Speed's kindergarten class earned 100 links (some sort of behavior thing) so they got to have pajama day. Speed wore super tight, bright green and blue striped Olaf pajamas--the kind with the tag that says something about pajamas should fit tight/should be flame resistant/blahblah. He also had to wear his tennis shoes because it was PE day.

When I picked him up, he had changed into his extra clothing.

"Why did you change?"
"Because my shoes looked funny."

Nothing at all to do with the disney pjs...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pre-Med

Chickadee's new obsessions:
Wheelchairs
Cannulas
Oxygen
Artificial Limbs

All things she has been exposed to in one way or another over the past couple months, but ohhhhh the pretend play that comes with a phone cord as a cannula......

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sunshine's Rationale

for not driving a Ford Mustang when she is a grown up.

"I can't do that because I want to have a lot of babies and their carseats won't all fit back there. Plus, it would be hard to get them in and out because there is no door there."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Speech Assistants in the House

Overheard in the playroom:

Car. Yup, that's a CAR. It's BLUE. BLUE! BLUE CAR!!

And later from another kid:

First dinner. Then cars. Don't cry, Eagle. First dinner. Then cars.

Eagle is busting at the seams trying new words. His "talking" light has come on and the kids are having a blast with it. They can get him to copy many many words and delight in anything he says. It is clear that he understands a lot more from us as well.

He calls us all Mommy, though it seems to really be his word for help.

He labels purple as purple, and blue as purple, and yellow as purple.

He occasionally says something like Stubby.

And has mastered MINE!

Sunshine and Speed are pros at talking at his level, interpreting any grunt he makes into one word, and modeling a single word for practically everything they do.

Only if they are mad at him do they say something like: Eagle, you can't touch my stroller because I don't want you to have it because it's my turn.

"Uh-oh Sunshine, try again. He won't understand all that."

Eagle, first Sunshine, then Eagle. Ok?

They are such good teachers...



Friday, August 14, 2015

The Pretend Toothfairy

Speed lost his tooth on Tuesday night but refused to put the tooth anywhere for the toothfairy. Not even the front porch. On Wednesday, he took the tooth to show and tell at daycare. Someone must've pressured him about putting it under his pillow because he came home in great angst. He wanted that money sooooo badly, but was too afraid of the toothfairy "coming over" to see us.

The kid had to be put out of his misery. (and honestly the rest of us sort of needed that too).

"Do you want me to just pay your for your tooth? I can pretend to be the toothfairy if you want."

Um, ok.

So upstairs I went to dig out an old bridesmaid dress. Chickadee brought me her wings and wand and we'd just purchased a 24 pack of glitter.

"HERE COMES THE FAIRY!!!!" announced Chickadee.

And then all hell, or fun, broke loose. Glitter, money, running, sharing wings....

Way more fun that sneaking into his room at night to find a teeny little box hidden somewhere under a pillow on the top bunk.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Love Wins

My three amigos and I went to a wedding today. A wedding for two friends who have been together since NINETEEN EIGHTY ONE. That's 1-9-8-1. Two friends who were not able to marry until the Supreme Court said they could back in June.

The kids were sooooo excited to go to a wedding. They had never been to one before and this one was perfect. We were able to sit in the second row for great viewing. There were STRING INSTRUMENTS 6 feet away and oh my word is one kid a little enthralled by string instruments. The six-year-old children of the couple sang an adorable song about love coming and knocking on your front door, and (drumroll) we got to see two grown ups kiss. I had a preview tonight of the pretend play that will be taking place for the next week in our living room. Speed and Sunshine are already married, have already kissed, and even had a wedding cake.

I can't decide what delighted me more about today. That my friends were finally able to marry...to have each other's last name...to have the same last name that they gave their children....Or that my kids will never know a time where a wedding like this was not possible. Probably both of those things.

A Month with Our Eagle

Tomorrow will mark a month with the bald eagle (whose hair, thankfully, grows pretty fast). I am thankful that he has settled in as fast as he has and that he has about 1/3 the amount of energy as Junebug did. Eagle can be a bit tricky during transitions and bedtime...his screams are off the charts..but he is otherwise a pretty happy guy who wants to play with cars and balls day and night.

He has learned a few words...beep, go, and yum. He knows a few signs...all done, eat, more and sometimes milk. And when a month ago, he couldn't follow a single direction, yesterday I told him to "Go ask Speed to help you" and off he went.

Speed and Sunshine still love on this kid like he's a day old infant that fascinates them. Chickadee could still really care less. As with Junebug, as long as she gets to be held and babied, who cares if there's another "baby" in the house.

We farmed Eagle out today to go to a wedding. Multiple times throughout the afternoon, Speed or Sunshine asked what I thought Eagle was doing. I am so lucky, so so so lucky, that these guys are so on board with accepting another kiddo into the fray.

P.S. We finally got around to taking our feet picture. Eagle's feet are just as cute as the others.




Thursday, July 30, 2015

X-ray Vision?

Loudly, from the backseat of the car, in the McDonald's drive thru regarding the server:

MOMMY! WE KNOW HE IS A GENTLEMAN BECAUSE HE HAS A PENIS!

Today marks our last trip through that particular McDonald's drive thru....Thanks, Sunshine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another First

Sunshine is in a different swimming class than Chickadee and Speed. She doesn't often do well when separated from them. Last night at swim lessons, she went up to a girl in her class, addressed her by name, invited her to play a game, and proceeded to "teach" the girl this made up game.

There's no way to express what a step this was for the kid who waits several weeks, if not months, to talk to people.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Bit About Eagle

I thought Junebug was easy. And I suppose she was for a two-ish year old high energy kid. Eagle is a dream child. He is the most mild mannered kid I have ever met. He has one word (ball), laughs at everything and anything, only has a couple of things that make him cry (or scream sometimes), and is otherwise both silent and content.

The kids continue to love on him and teach him made up sign language that only they can understand. He now knows the real signs for "all gone" and "more". If I sign other words, he laughs at me as though I have no idea what I am doing (oh, but I do, dude.)

We went to a party yesterday and more than one person commented on how easy going our boy is. That is until he was refused more birthday cake. :)

Two Years, Two Months, Two Weeks and Four Days

Sunshine gave me her very first goodnight kiss tonight.


Friday, July 24, 2015

The Eagle Has Landed

Our new dude really needs the name "Buddy" but someone already took that name a few years back. We call him Buddy all the time because none of us are super proficient at pronouncing his name well. He really really should be Buddy.

That's what I thought at least....

Till he came home from a visit the other day with his head shaved.

Let's just put it out there:
Not all boys look awesome with a buzzed head.

Good thing he's cute. Our little Bald Eagle.

Another note about names: There was some confusion about what this dude goes by. It seems that different members of his family call him different things. Some are easier to pronounce than others. I was rooting for the middle name (but didn't win). Not only because it's easier for the masses to pronounce but because, would you believe it's in that same "category" as Sunshine, Chickadee, and Junebug? 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

An HEB Encounter with Chickadee

Checker: "Is that your granddaughter?"
Me: "No, she is my daughter."
Checker: "Oh, now I see it. She has your eyes."

Liar.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sweetest Statement of the Week

also from Chickadee, regarding my arm that was banged up quite nicely from my airbag in a car accident yesterday:

"Mommy, I really hope you feel better."


Question of the Week

from Chickadee:
"Mommy? Are you Jesus Christ?


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Toothfairy Drama

Nothing like a loose tooth and the idea of a fairy flying in his room to push a certain anxious kid over the edge.

Speed is extra worried about a loose tooth. He has already decided that the tooth fairy may not come in our house and he doesn't want any money. He wants to keep that tooth for show and tell and doesn't want anyone, even if she is small and magical, to come in the house.

(no, I don't plan on breaking the news to him early because he won't keep his trap shut for the girls or for any of his peers).

Discussion points at the lunch table:
How does she know the tooth is out?
Will she come take it out of my mouth even if it's not ready to come out?
Does she wear a costume or "real" clothing?
What does she do with the tooth?
Why does she put glitter everywhere?

I told him that tooth is not coming out today (so you might want to start eating or you will be really, really hungry) and that he has lots of time to decide what he wants to do.

My little worry wart.

On Roadkill

Sunshine saw a vulture eating a dead raccoon.

"Poor Raccoon! If he is dead, he cannot love on his mother anymore."

Monday, July 6, 2015

Kid #30

...arrived on Thursday in the form of a two-year-old boy. The kids are loving every bit of him and it has been much easier on Chickadee this go 'round than it was when Junebug arrived.

Our new friend has no words yet so Speed is teaching him to sign. Mostly, this looks like made up hand gestures that new friend nods to and pretends to understand (or maybe really does understand?), but there are a few signs that Speed knows and is working diligently to teach our new dude. These include: more, eat, book, no, longhorn and I love you. So cute.

On Outerspace

Speed (at dinner): I'm going to go into outer space.

Sunshine: You can't do that right now. It has to be dark out.

Speed: Why?

Sunshine (this is almost verbatim): Because it has to be dark so you can get to outerspace because outer space is only there in the dark. If it's daytime, you can't go because then you can't see the aliens and the aliens glow in the dark so you can't see glow in the dark aliens or other stuff in the day time when the sun is out. But when the sun goes down, you can see the aliens. That's when you want to go.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Overheard

Him: Sunshine, you need to listen to me.
Her: I AM listening to you!
Him: You say you listening to your baby! How can you listen to ME?
Her: Cuz I have TWO ears!
Him: Oh.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sunshine's Savings Plan

Sunshine announced at dinner tonight that she is saving her birthday money till she grows up so she can buy herself some deodorant. "I don't want you to buy that for me. I want to use my own money."

Putting it here so I can prove this to her later. Just saved myself a couple bucks. :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Speed's Negotiations for Continuing to Foster

Speed is getting impatient for a friend. He overheard me say "no" to a call the other day (for TWO kids) and started his negotiations.

These included:
Chickadee sleeping in my room "since her sneak in there all the time anyway" so the new friends could have her room.
One of the friends staying with their mom while the other one came to us.
He's even discussed car seat placement.

The calls have come in waves. When we aren't getting calls, he doesn't ask about anything but if he hears me say "no" to a call, he negotiates his little heart out. Thankfully, he is unaware of the times I have said yes, thinking that kiddo is a good fit for us, and things have fallen through.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Who's On First?

Speed: You're right, Sunshine! (about what, I don't know.)
Sunshine: I'm not WHITE!
Speed: No, not WHITE, RIGHT! You RIGHT!
Sunshine: Speed! I'm not white. Quit saying I'm white.
Speed: No, I mean like, you are smart. You know the right thing. You are so smart.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bedtime Technique #479

Tonight's bedtime stalling:

Chickadee: Mommy, I need a hug. Come give me a hug!
[gets hug]
C: I peed in Thomas (pull-up). Please change me please.
Me: Sure.
C: Take your time....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What Was I Thinking?

I was sizing up Chickadee this morning...all 27 pounds and 36 inches of her and something occurred to me.

She is roughly the same age as Big Sister was when Glamour Girl and Tiny arrived. Which means I had FOUR kids with the BIGGEST one being slightly older than Chickadee is now.

I have been gloating to a friend about how easy these guys are now....They are just at good ages where I can actually clean the kitchen after dinner while they play. Or occasionally pee alone. Or let Speed go ahead (at school to his class or at the museum to the next exhibit) and meet him there seconds or minutes later.

Damn, I must've been tired with the Fab Four. Good thing my memory has blocked that out!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

(Failed) Lessons in Kindness

Speed, while walking past a dog's droppings about 10 houses away from ours:
"You should pick that up."
I don't really want to pick up someone else's dog's poop, but thank you.
"Well, we could go home and get a bag and a shovel and scoop it with the shovel into the bag and then no one would step on it."
True, but I don't really want to pick it up.
"Well, it's being KIND and NICE."
Yes, it is. You are right. But I am still not picking up someone's dog's poop.

Some example I set.

Career Aspirations

Overheard in the playroom from Speed:

"I all done with college so now I can go work at McDonald's."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Grateful today for the 29 children who have made me a mother and the moms in my life who have shown me the kind of parent I want to be.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Two Years with My Three Amigos

Two years and one day ago, my placement agency called me.
"I have 3 kids...2 boys and a girl. (and gave more details)"
"Um, no thanks. School aged boys scare me and I'm not sure I want three kids."

The next night, my relentless placement agency called again.
"Ok, I know you said you didn't want three kids, but I want you to hear me out. I think this is a better fit for you and I want you to know what's out there."
"You 'want me to know what's out there', yeh, sure...... Ok, let's hear it."

And she proceeded to tell me all she knew. 3, 2, 1. Brief history. Idea of what their immediate needs would be. Probably short term.

And she was right. It was a better fit for me. The ages and needs were things that I was experienced with. Three packages filled with significant needs was a lot for one placement, but we both knew it could work.

"UGH!!! JESSICA!!! Why are you doing this to me when I said I didn't want three kids!!???"

I'm pretty sure she laughed.

A couple hours later, I carried a bucket car seat with a teeny baby into my house. Then went back out to the car and carried a teeny little 3 year old in while he peed on me. And last, I got my ray of Sunshine through the door.

Little did we know that that was the arrival of my future..the kids who would leave and then come back. The kids who would stay. My family.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Girl Parts

On the zoo train today while riding past a kangaroo:

Sunshine: Mommy, that's a girl kangaroo.
Me: How do you know?
Sunshine: She has girl eyes.

Chickadee is THREE!

My little baby is not really a little baby anymore. I'm not so sure she even qualifies as a toddler. When we were at the zoo today, people were oohing and aahing over kids smaller than her instead of telling me what an adorable baby I have.

Chickadee is growing up. She daily reminds me that she is "still Mommy's baby" but now she is a three-year-old Mommy's baby.

We did a two day split on celebrating her birthday. Yesterday was the real deal, but Speed didn't want to miss pre-k because of field day so we did low key things. Chickadee's meal of choice was hot dogs and macaroni. Her "field trip" of choice was the zoo.


Chickadee has a somewhat new (maybe 3 or 4 months) obsession with Thomas the Train, so her birthday party was Thomas. Thomas cake, plates, shirt. Thomas presents. Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. I love that she is opinionated about what she likes and it's not Frozen like every other girl in her class. :)

Things to remember about Chickadee as a two-year-old:
7. Chickadee can consume almost an entire red pepper in one sitting. She turns down fruit and starchy snacks for red peppers. I'm sure she inherited this from me.

6. Chickadee wanted only one thing for her birthday: Thomas pull-ups. I assume she knew they existed from a friend at school because we've never had them here. I chose not to give them to her for her birthday, but did get them when she was out of pull-ups the other day. I have never seen such a response to a pack of diapers as I did that night. Screaming and clapping over Thomas. He's proving to be a good night time potty training help as well because "Thomas not like it I pee on him!"

5. Chickadee requires far less sleep than Speed and Sunshine. As a result, we spend about 2 extra hours together every day. A chunk of this is getting ready in the morning. While I get ready, Chickadee plays with her "dogs" in my room. These would actually be a cell phone charger and an iPad charger that she pulls around by their "leashes" and puts in different parts of my room...the "vet", the "dog park", the "dog house", and their beds.

4. Chickadee is a bookworm like no child I have ever seen before. I hope this goes on throughout her life. If I can't find her or she isn't responding to her name, there are two little corners I can look in. More than likely, she will be reading a book or twelve and ignoring the rest of us.

3. Chickadee's teacher and peers call her by a different name. It's a gross mispronunciation of her real name, modeled regularly by her teacher. We finally had a chat with her teacher the other day to see if we can move in a closer direction pronunciation-wise. Chickadee is sure to report to me daily if Miss Loretta called her the right name and that she is not (mispronounced name) or (Chickadee + old last name), but that she is (first + middle+ last name).

2. Chickadee is still a leech. It's uncommon for me to cook dinner alone, shower without her in the room, or even take out the trash without her on my hip. She still loves the carrier. She would like for me to retell and replay parts of our day or stories of people we know every minute if I could. Her recent "story replay" is that my grandfather gets oxygen to help him breath and that we went to "his house" to see his bed.

1.  Chickadee has been such an easy two-year-old. I am not sure if it's because she really IS easy, or just easy in contrast to her siblings, or if she's just a regular ol' pain in the butt two-year-old whom I happen to adore so even her tantrums are easy. This kid brings all of us so much joy. She is silly and funny and sweet and so clearly sees Speed, Sunshine, Stubby and me as her world. It's hard for any of us to be mad at her for more than a split second.

Happy Birthday to my little Chickadee. I love you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

School Registration

...for Speed for the 2015-16 school year:



Foster Care: Not applicable.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Stalling Tactics

from Chickadee's bedroom:

"Mommmmmmmmy! I need help! I need you!"
What do you need?
"I need help with a hug."
Ok, hang on a second please.

(after more than a second when I didn't go in her room):
"Come ON, Mommy! You need to help me with my hug!!"

Enter room to help with the hug:
"Mommmy, you keep bothering me. Why you keep coming in here?"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's Not for Lack of Trying

...that our house still has a "vacancy" sign.

This week alone:
5 and 7 year old siblings
6 year old girl
3 and 6 year old siblings
5 and 7 year old sisters
and one missed call.

Anyone else want to sign up to foster? Apparently, there is still a need....

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Visit with Junebug

We got a surprise call this evening and an invitation to meet at a park to play with our Junebug. She lives far, far away from Austin, so that she was here was a lovely surprise.

The kids were so excited. They got Junebug's old cup out in case she wanted water and planned what she would want to do at the park.

We played for a few minutes before Junebug arrived, but when the kids saw her pull in, they ran.

When Junebug got out of her car, she ran.

She ran past Chickadee, who managed to grab a hug.

She ran past Sunshine, who tried to grab her hand.

She ran past Speed, who I thought was the real target.

She ran right into my arms and it felt like...I found my missing piece.

The kids fought over who would hold her hand, who would push her on the swing, who would sit beside her on the slide. Her mom said: They sure love them some Junebug!

And she wasn't lying at all.


We miss Junebug. She comes up in conversation every single day. We often laugh about things she used to do, or we just pretend that we are her (usually saying "no" over and over again). I am so grateful that her family actively seeks keeping us in her life.




Thursday, April 9, 2015

Not Three Yet

Chickadee is still a mouther. If it fits in her mouth, in it goes. She has been wanting beads in her hair for quite some time. I have told her that she has to wait till she is three because then I "know you won't put them in your mouth."

Last night was hair night. Her hair was already parted in many, many parts because she had box braids for easter. I decided that since the parts were already there, it was time for beads.

Over one hour later, a beaded Chickadee head was complete.

Chickadee's first words when looking in the mirror:

"I THREE NOW, MOMMY!!!!!"

Um, no, you are not three yet.

"Uh-huh. You say I be three, I get beads. I get beads now, so I three!!"

I'm not ready for you to be three, but you are ready for beads. That is called a compromise.

"Oh. Ok. Thank you, Mommy! I like my beads!"

Monday, April 6, 2015

The New Reason to Tantrum

Until about 2 weeks ago, Chickadee went into a tizzy if I flushed my own toilet. Or flushed her toilet. Or didn't flush it when she wanted me to.

I noticed the other day that I am finally flushing my own toilet. :)

Now the discussion is:
"Mommy, you wanna pee on my pee?" (as in, don't flush it before you pee?)
"Mommy, don't pee on my pee, K?"
"You go first. I like pee on your pee."
"You go first but then I flush it. I don't want to pee on your pee today, OK?"

One day, I might pee alone again.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Poop Patrol

At the Thanksgiving parade, the kids saw a man with a giant broom and dustpan walking behind the horses and cleaning up the poop.

They all thought this was the coolest thing ever.

And they still do. Only now, Poop Patrol happens every single day in the playroom with one kid being some sort of animal and the other two cleaning up the imaginary poop with some sort of toy.

It's now extended to our bedtime play routine. Now they pretend to be goats while I clean up imaginary "baby ball poops" and give them goat treats for pooping in the grass.

My kids are freaks. Freaks with good imaginations, but freaks nonetheless.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Brave

I first heard this song in my car less than a week after my kids arrived. My kids who didn't talk even though two of them knew how.

I wouldn't hear Speed really talk for a few weeks. I wouldn't hear Sunshine speak her own words and not echo those of someone around her for over a month.

Speed will occasionally be brave enough to talk about his past. Sunshine still won't.

I'm still hoping they can keep finding courage as we navigate through their, now our, story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4

A Very Talented Pre-K Teacher

This morning, in response to a question from Sunshine about where the eggs in the incubator at Speed's school came from:

"I didn't get to lay the eggs. Mrs. Teacher laid the eggs when I was at Miss Therapist's. I don't know how her lay eggs but her does."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Heartfelt Apology

from Chickadee, for biting my leg:

"Sorry, Mommy, for eating your leg right there."

So glad she didn't swallow it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Crickets are Kind of Chirping

We've had to turn down a handful of kids since we went "back on the list". Mostly because daycare is full. And while I know I dance close to crazy all the time, I am just on this side of SANE to say no to something that will require 3 daycare/school stops twice a day.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Well, DUH!

Sunshine: Mommy, before we moved here, you was just a lady.
Me: what am I now?
Sunshine: a MOMMY, silly turkey head!

Monday, March 2, 2015

So THERE!

Speed is still upset about his inability to birth a baby when he's older. He keeps looking for ways to piss the girls off about something that they cannot do. Most of his attempts are things that he can do now just because he's older (ex/ bike with no training wheels).

This morning's dig:
"Well, Mr. Ryan say soon I grow up, I get a ADAM APPLE! Girls can't have ADAM APPLES, right Mommy?"
Right.
"Ha!"

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Some Things Take Getting Used To

I'm sitting here working on Turbo Tax where the program auto fills things from last year.
Only, my kids' names are auto-filled as their old names. And finally, that looks weird to me.

Old names finally looking wrong. It's only taken five months.

Because really till today, if I saw their name attached to mine, it still looked funky.

When the girls and I walked into aftercare the other day and the teacher said: Now, THERE are the rest of the Russells!", I look around to see who he's talking about.

When people say to the kids something like: Give this to your mom. Instead of "Go give this to Tammy." I notice.

And today I noticed that the old last names look wonky and the new ones look just right. :)



His First Crush

"Ethan say Alexa my girlfriend."
Oh, yeah?
"Yeh, because he know I think her pretty. Her have pretty HAIR. And pretty FACE. And pretty BODY. And....pretty SHOES."
(And she gives him hugs every day when he leaves afterschool care AND hugs on the girls as well.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Five Hours with a Two-Week-Old

We did some pinch hitting the other night for another foster family. A two-week-old blob spent the evening sleeping, drinking, peeing, and burping in our house.

The kids were fascinated.

Sunshine wants to know when we are going to get one. (never)

Speed is irritated that boys can't have babies in their tummies. "That not fair! You say girls can wear a boy tie so boys have babies in their tummies. That fair." (life's not fair, dude)

Chickadee was interested and stayed very close. Multiple times over the evening, she would snuggle up beside me and say: "I Mommy's baby." Yes, you are.  "I Mommy's baby." Yup, you got it. Over and over.

First words out of her mouth when she woke up the next morning: That baby gone yet?

Five hours may have been just enough for the two of us to be around the tiny guy.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Even Speed Agrees

Speed asked me a question last night. I don't remember what it was, but Sunshine gave the answer.

"How come Sunshine know so much? Her always answer the question."

In awe, rather than in irritation, so that's good.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Parenting Fail

Question from Speed:
"How babies get in your tummy? Mommies and Daddies play and eat and then the baby grows?"
--Um, something like that.

Response from Sunshine:
"But WE play and eat and WE don't have babies in our tummies!"

Again, who needs Mommy when Sunshine is around?

(For the record, I did not describe "playing or eating" in our previous talks. We have only recently approached the idea that there needs to be a Daddy of some sort in the mix.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fur Hides Everything

Today at the breakfast table:

Speed: Does Stubby have a penis?
Sunshine: Yea, Mommy calls him a boy so he have a penis. You only a girl if you have a vagina.
Speed: Where IS it?
Sunshine: He have a lot of fur. It's under there somewhere.

Who needs Mommy when Sunshine is around?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Settling into Second Place

I have more than once read that adoption is the distant second place to staying (or returning) to one's family of origin. Distant. Second.


So we are here. Roughly four months past our adoptions and we are settling into second. I was worried with Junebug's exit that the kids would think they were leaving. Or wish they were leaving. Or wonder why things worked out differently for them than for her. None of that has happened so far as best I can tell. Instead, they keep bugging for another "friend".

Second place feels pretty much the same as fostering the three amigos for the most part. Except seeing their new last name still weirds me out. Except we don't have people visiting us every month and I can leave meds unlocked for now. Except that behaviors and challenges have moved OUT with 26 other children, but for these three, we get to plow through everything and hope that we do our best in working through all that we have on our plate.

We went to the "haircut store" tonight where everyone knows the kids' names, asks permission if they can offer the kids candy because they know I am a stickler, lets them go back behind the counter to watch more closely. The manager treats Speed as though he is the king for the 5 minutes it takes her to shave his head. Sunshine is plotting to work there when she is "a big girl" because she wants to sweep up all the hair. (ick) Every time one of them plans what they are going to do when they get bigger/grow up, I think: Yup, and I will get to see you do that.

Second place sucks only in that it shouldn't even exist. For the kids, first place should have been a given. When first place failed once, people should have rallied to make first place work. I imagine all of us will have to process that failure of the Firsts for the rest of our lives. But now that we are here, I think second is a perfect place to snuggle in and see what our lives will hold, regardless of how losing first has affected all four of us.




FaceTime with Junebug

Looks a lot like a ceiling fan spinning while we listen to Junebug name whomever she sees on the screen.

"MY Speed."
"MY Sunshine."
"MY Chickadee."
"Where my mommy?"

The other night the kids were already asleep when Junebug called. So who did she get to talk to?

"MYYYYY Stubby!!!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Speed's Sisters

Conversation between Speed and his new therapist today:

Her: Do you have sisters?
Him: Yes.
Her: How many?
Him: Three. No, two. Um, no three. Junebug doesn't live with us anymore but she still always a sister.

Stereotyping

Speed: Sunshine, do you want to be on my football team?
Sunshine: No.
Speed: Why? Cuz you busy cooking?
Sunshine: Yes.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Things to Love About Sunshine as a Three-Year-Old

It's so hard to believe that Sunshine is through with THREE! This time last year, our focus was so very far from "what fun things can we remember about this kid". So now we can CELEBRATE what a great girl she is:

5. Sunshine is the pet lover extraordinaire! Have I mentioned she wants to be a "sheep petter" when she grows up? Sunshine is Stubby's best friend (next to his owner/mother). One of my favorite memories Sunshine and Stubby was Stubby getting annoyed at Sunshine recently.
Me: Uh-oh Sunshine. His ears are back so he might need some space.
She got right in his face, patted his ears and said: Stubby, what do you NEEEEEEEED? (a la trauma parenting 101).

4. Despite never seeing the movie, Sunshine is obsessed with Frozen, Anna and Elsa. A friend asked her tonight what Anna and Elsa do. Sunshine's response was: Sing 'Let It Go'! (with an understood "duh!" attached).

3. Sunshine is still a pretty reserved, quiet kid who can shut down without warning. I always love the moments when she just suddenly decides to be DONE shutting down by doing something most random. One day, on the way home from school, she was not talking. Came home, put her lunch on the counter and knocked a loaf of bread off the counter. Picked it up. Said "sorry" to the bread. And then just started CRACKING UP, running around the house like ET saying "phone home": Sorry, bread! Sorry, bread! Sorry, bread!

2. Sunshine got a baby doll (her 200th if I am counting right) tonight for her birthday. She has decided to name her (yes, her) Baby Jesus.

1. The kids are given an option every night before bed of going to the pretend dentist, pretend face paint store, or the pretend hug store. Sunshine chooses the hug store every single night. She gives me 5 dollars for 5 hugs, and always chooses the "large" sized hug. The girl gives the best hugs.


Sunshine is FOUR!

It's not often that we get to have a birthday on a weekend. We were lucky to have the ENTIRE day to celebrate Sunshine. We started off at the Thinkery (Austin's Children's Museum) where three people got to be messy to their little hearts' content:



I think this place is brilliant and would stay all day if it weren't for the crowds.

Our day ended with friends, pizza, cake and ice cream.


Sunshine insisted that her cake be both Frozen and pink. A girl gets what a girl wants. True to herself, she refused any and all pictures that would at all resemble her smiling at the camera, so we have little proof that she had a fun day, but I think she did all the same.

Happy 4th Birthday, Sunshine! I love you!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Great Grammar Debate

Earlier this week between two 2-year-olds at the dinner table:

Chickadee: Mommy, I all done.
Junebug: Not "done". "Finished."
C: No. I all done.
J: No "DONE!!". Say FINISH!!
C: Mommy, Junebug say me no say all done.
J: NOT DONE, NOT DONE, NOT DONE!!!!!!

Junebug was reminding me of an elderly volunteer at an elementary where I worked years ago. She was often at the copier and you had to wait till she was finished to get a turn. (As in, she was ALWAYS there and wouldn't even let you "cut" for a single copy of a single form.) If you said to her: Are you done? Her response was consistently: Turkeys are 'done'. I am through.

This will be Junebug in 80 years.

Friday, January 16, 2015

FAQ #8

in Jeopardy style.

Answer: Yes. But we are taking a few weeks off for me to get some trainings done. The kids have been very specific about wanting another friend to live with us and at this stage of their lives, throwing one more into the mix is really not that hard (knock on wood). Speed is mildly disappointed that we cannot make Ethan C., his best friend at school, our next foster sibling.

Stay tuned.

Junebug's Ten

The girls and I said good-bye to Junebug in the daycare parking lot today. Speed had already said good-bye when we dropped him at school. Our constantly hugging girl was resistant to good-bye hugs but we snuck them in anyhow.

Junebug's was a great example of a successful case. I am thrilled with how this chapter of hers has ended and am hopeful that we will see her again (if not in real life, definitely over texts).

Ten things to remember:
10. Junebug earned the nickname "Thunder" because when she first arrived, she walked pretty THUNDER-Y and bulldozed any lego or duplo creation of the kids' down. Their warning to take cover or move their toys was "Watch out, here come's Thunder!"

9. Junebug's other nickname was "(first name) Loo Who" which was eventually shortened to Loo or LooLoo. The odd thing about this is that her mom later told me that their nickname for her was Lulu. We had been calling her that for weeks with no idea!

8. Junebug never once ate fruit despite my most desperate efforts. Not. One. Bite.

7 1/2. Biggest pain in the rear in church I have ever had. This nevvvvver changed in the almost 7 months she was with us.

7. She was our "leftover girl". The addition of Junebug to our family somehow made it that meals we could usually get enough leftovers out of to eat again didn't stretch far enough. But since Junebug liked cooked food so much more than sandwiches, I just put the leftovers in lunch containers and she kept our fridge clean that way.

6. I believe that Junebug loved us all but if she had to jump in front of a train for only one of us, it would have been Speed. The squeals out of that girl when we picked him up from school every day were ear piercing.

5. Junebug held my arm every night during dinner. If I took my hand away (because I wanted to eat every now and then), she would get upset.

4. Junebug became a pro at getting out of bed at night but had no idea how to get back in. Earlier this week, I didn't hear the THUMP of her getting out so wasn't aware she'd escaped till I found her sound asleep on the floor.

3 1/2. Junebug stole the heart of the daycare director. I'd go in the office to check out and Miss Ann would say: Do you want to hear about Junebug's latest? And she would proceed to tell me stories. Sometimes she laughed so hard through the stories that I had no idea what she said. I remember this part though: That Junebug! She's one of those who keeps you on your toes even when you want to be sitting!"

3. Junebug was a night owl and NOT an early bird. Speed is quite the early bird and was always so excited to wake Junebug in the morning. I am not sure she ever reciprocated his excitement at 6am, but that didn't stop him.

2. Junebug's favorite doll was one of Sunshine's, her favorite stroller was Speed's, her favorite purse was Chickadee's and her favorite phone was actually her own. The kids were very tolerant of her "claim" on their belongings.

1. Junebug was not a kisser at all. She did not like goodbye or goodnight kisses from me or the kids. Give the girl a hug though and her day was made. It was not uncommon to have your leg knocked into by the hugging machine and once or twice, she knocked down one of the kids when she was in her full hug mode.

Oh my little fireball, thank you for sharing this part of your journey with us. We will all be missing your crazy ways (except in church)! Love you, LooLoo.



Junebug's Goodbye Party

We had a family goodbye party for Junebug last night. It consisted of hot dogs mixed with macaroni, brocolli, a cupcake with a candle, and a round table discussion of why we love Junebug.

Here is what I remember from the kids:

Speed loves Junebug because Junebug loves HIM and because she will play whatever he asks her to.

Sunshine loves Junebug because she sees her at school and gives good hugs. She also thinks Junebug is funny and nice and nice and funny, except when she cries.

Chickadee loves Junebug because she is her friend and she "plops in her lap" to sit down. She also likes that Junebug sits in her car seat and lets Chickadee sit in Junebug's car seat.

We sang "We love you, Junebug" before she blew out her candle. Then everyone else took a turn blowing out candles. Then it was back to business as usual, except that for every routine we did, Speed announced that it was Junebug's last time to do whatever in our house and thought that she should go first (which, for him, is an amazing feat!).


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2AM Conversation

with Chickadee, who regularly comes to chat it up in my room in the middle of the night.

"Mommy, I the daughter."
Yes, you are.
"Mommy....Speed the son."
Yup. You are right.
"Sunshine the daughter."
You got it.
"Junebug not a Russell."
No, sweetie. Junebug is just staying with us. She is a (last name).
"Stubby is a cat."
silence.
"What you? What you, Mommy?"
I am the mommy.
"Oh. You the mommy. Night night, Mommy."

Monday, January 5, 2015

On Returning to School

after 2 solid weeks as a fivesome.

Speed to me: Are you ready to go back to work?
Me: No. I don't like getting up in the morning when it is dark outside.
Him: Oh, is that why you are crabby all the time?

Thanks.

Him to Sunshine: You excited to go back to school?
Her: No.
Him: Why? You supposed to be HAPPY! You get to LEARN and see your kids. And you get to LEARN and do calendar....
Her: silence.

Fortunately, at least one person in the house was thrilled to get up in the pitch black darkness, go out in the 30 degree weather, and spend time with his teachers and "kids". The rest of us are ready for summer.