Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy Holidays!


Happy holidays from me and Little Man!

It probably seems as if I've forgotten about this corner of the internet- it's been over two months since my last post.


I've actually started to write a handful of blog posts in the past several weeks, but- each time- have been sidetracked by a fountain of spit-up, a stinky diaper, the most pitiful cries of hunger (/sleepiness/boredom/any other thing babies cry about), or (on my end) a bout of narcolepsy. But, thanks to the holiday break, I've finally had enough time to write (and finish) an update!

A lot has happened over the past two months. Little Man has started smiling, laughing, cooing, and pulling my hair like a champ. We've celebrated three first holidays and survived one first trip to the ER! (Little Man, along with every child within a 50 mile radius of our home it seems, came down with RSV. Booooo.)

We were at the hospital until 2AM that night, and he was such a trooper!

He has also grown a lot. He's developed some serious rolls on his arms and legs and has gone up two diaper sizes. I'm convinced all of this growing happens from 3-6AM- the last stretch of sleep I get each night. I look at him in the morning, and I swear he's bigger than he was when I fed him at 2AM. These days he gives me the most heart-melting smiles when he sees me after waking up, but I suspect it's his way of distracting me from the fact that he gained an extra quarter pound of weight overnight. Carrying him around these days is no joke, guys.

Rolls on rolls on rolls!
On Christmas Eve, Little Man turned three months old- which amazes me. The time has flown by, and it's been incredible to watch him change and grow. I do miss the newborn days of constant snuggles, but it's so much fun to see him laughing and playing now.

I've definitely discovered that traveling is easier in those early days, though. Flying, specifically. We went to Portland for a wedding when he was two weeks old, and- despite my anxiety- he handled it like a true jet-setter.

Last week we flew to New York to celebrate the holidays, and it did not go quite so smoothly. Our first flight from Waco was filled with a lot of tears from him, and our brief layover was filled with a few more tears from me. (I was stressed, and there was a particular DFW employee who was not very empathetic.) I am not kidding when I say I strongly considered just taking a shuttle back to Waco at that point.

Thankfully, the second flight was a lot easier, and I was fortunate enough to sit by a father of three who was very understanding and helpful. He even offered to buy me lunch, which was so kind and generous! (This man recently started a company called "Golden Coast Mead," so if you like such beverages, support them- he is one of the nicest people and totally deserves it.)

Being up in NYC has been great- it's been nice to be with family. It's also allowed me to nap more, for which I am very thankful- particularly because he is not sleeping as well as he normally does. He's just too scared to miss anything going on in the Big Apple, I guess.

I'd say he enjoyed his first Christmas, but, honestly, he seemed pretty indifferent to the whole thing. He is only three months old, after all. He got a few toys he's not quite sure what to do with yet, but hopefully he'll appreciate them more within the next few weeks.

We're up here for a just a few more days before heading back to Texas on the 1st. (Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers then- I'm not sure I can handle the stress of last week's flight again...) Most of our plans involve staying cozy and warm in the apartment, but I'm sure we'll take another walk in Central Park- and hopefully one to a nearby bakery that I love.

I'm excited to to see what 2015 holds for me and Little Man. One year ago, I never would have guessed I'd be sitting here now as a foster mom to such a precious little boy. I had dreams of becoming a foster parent, but I didn't know at the time how soon it would happen. It's strange to think about how much my life has changed- and how much it could change in the weeks ahead- but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

It's been an amazing year- and an incredible journey. Thank you so much for sharing it with me! I cannot say enough how blessed I feel to have such incredible support from so many people near and far; the little guy and I are very lucky.

We hope you've had a wonderful holiday season, and, as we enter into 2015, we pray you have a year filled with peace, joy, love, and hope!

I cannot end this post- and begin the new year- with anything better than this sloth's advice. May we all keep it in our hearts throughout 2015:
My sister, Lauren, sent this to me before Little Man even arrived, and I've been trying to find the perfect occasion to use it.
This seems as perfect an occasion as any, I think.

Happy holidays!!!

Love,

Kaley and Little Man

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life with Little Man- Lessons I've Learned (So Far)



I’ve been a foster parent for almost a month (what?!) and am a little overdue on an update. As it turns out, having a newborn is somewhat time-consuming. And very exhausting. Who knew??

It is so exhausting, in fact, that when I sat down and started writing this post 2 weeks ago, I fell asleep whilst typing.

True story.

Little Man and I have been pretty busy since then. We have had a lot of guests stop by, started daycare and gone back to work, seen Patty Griffin in concert, and made a trip to Portland for a dear friend’s wedding. (I know- crazy.) Nonetheless, I’m finally coming back to this post.

And I’ve had two cups of coffee today, so hopefully I’ll be able to finish it!

(I cut out some of the intro since it was just notes on surviving two weeks, but it is significant to note that it included this: “As I type this, my head keeps drooping because I’m starting to fall asleep.” Two paragraphs later… Bam. Out. I know myself well.)


Although I am new to the whole “foster mom to a newborn” business, I have learned many important things since Little Man’s arrival. I thought I’d create a list of some of the big ones so I could share them with you all.

1.     All people can be grouped into one of two categories. Category one: people who love/are obsessed with babies. I am constantly stopped by strangers who want to look at Little Man, comment on his hair, ask how old he is, and tell me that he is “so tiny!” At a restaurant in Portland, an entire table of people had a whole conversation about how small and adorable he is. And, to be clear, I was not a part of that group. They just spotted him from across the room and couldn’t help themselves. Understandable. He really is that adorable.  Category two: people who are terrified of babies. Some people respond to Little Man as if I was holding a tarantula- they back up slowly but keep one eye on him- just in case he moves. This response always surprises me, but I have learned that people who don’t have much experience with infants have a crippling fear of breaking them. I really believe everyone falls into one of these categories- no one is neutral about newborns.
2.     Once you have a baby in your home, a lot of things that used to be really important to you- like having your bed made in the morning or showering on a regular basis- don’t even appear on your radar. The list of priorities automatically transforms to this: “1. Baby, 2. Sleep.” Those two things consume the majority of my thoughts these days.
My life right now.
3.     The insecurity parents feel about caring for a newborn fuels an incredible market for an unending variety of baby items. Did you know you can buy what is essentially a baby-bottle Keurig? You can use it to fill up one of the millions of types of bottles with one of the billions of types of formula. You can buy any number of sound machines, blankets, baby toys, DVDs, car accessories, diaper-changing items, etc- all of which will probably help your baby become a genius who sleeps through the night within the first month of life. Next time I head to the baby aisle, I fully expect to see some kind of machine that will burp your baby for you. And if it’s not there, I call dibs on inventing it.
As ridiculous as I find this, I do have to confess that walking through that aisle feeling as if I had no idea what I was doing made me also feel as if I needed to buy every item on every shelf. Insecurity breeds consumerism when it comes to caring for kids.
It is real.
4.     That being said, there are a few items I have become very dependent on in the past few weeks, and I would recommend them to anyone. 1. A baby-wrap/carrier. I use a Moby wrap and a Baby Bjorn, and I thank God for them daily. Especially when traveling, trying to do chores, and spending any time outside of my house. 2. A diaper genie (or other diaper-specific garbage can). Right now I have probably 30 dirty diapers sitting within 10 feet of me, and I cannot smell even a hint of them. It’s either because of the genius genie design or because I’ve gotten used to the smell, but I think it’s the first thing. 3. A swing/bouncy seat/something similar. These things have become invaluable to me because they give me a chance to nap every once in a while.
5.     Babies make really great faces. Little Man seems to be particularly expressive, and I am pretty sure I could stare at him all day. I am concerned he’ll have some serious premature wrinkles, though.
6.     When you have a newborn and people offer to help you with something, it is important to say, “Yes please thank you.” As much as I want to Wonder Woman this business, it is immeasurably helpful to have friends who are willing to pick up food for you or grab some formula so you can avoid hauling a baby to the grocery store. I, like Elizabeth Bennett, can sometimes be a bit prideful; I like to tackle and conquer enormous tasks by myself- or at least think I am able to do so. But living with a newborn has taught me this very important lesson: trying to do everything alone is a sure-fire way to fail. Or pass out on your keyboard at work.
7.     Waking up at 2AM to make a bottle is awful. But having a teeny baby fall asleep on your chest is the best.
8.     There are few bonds like the bond between a dog and its baby. RG still isn’t positive what to think of Little Man, but he gets anxious when he cries and is definitely protective. I’m not sure how aware Little Man is of RG’s existence, but I’m guessing that will change before too long- which will hopefully create a few precious photo-ops.
9.     It is possible to welcome a newborn into your home with 48 hours notice- IF you are surrounded by a lot of incredible people.
10.  I am surrounded by a lot of incredible people. Really and truly. By the time Little Man arrived home, my house looked like I’d been preparing for his arrival for 9 months. By the end of the weekend, we were flooded with baby necessities and baby nice-to-haves. We’ve been surrounded by an incredible amount of love and support, and- now that I’m almost two four weeks in- I can pretty much guarantee this would have been impossible without so many loving and lovely people. #blessed


(But seriously.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Welcoming #1

I know things have been a little bit quiet over the last few weeks; I'm sure a few folks out there have wondered how things have been going. So here's an update on things that have happened since my last post:

Three hours after I signed the papers to be officially licensed, I was almost given a placement. Unfortunately, it was a pretty complicated situation, so the agency decided to pass on it since I was so new.

I expected a phone call with a new placement later that week. I kept my phone on hand 24/7- just in case. But things stayed quiet. I kept going through my standard routine- trying to take advantage of my my pre-placement free-time but mostly just hoping my I'd get a phone call.
(I wrote a post about the waiting period in those first few days, but haven't posted it yet; I wasn't sure it accurately articulated the complexity of what I was feeling. I'll probably re-visit and share it soon, but essentially it touched on how hard it is to hope for something that- deep down- you hope won't happen. The ideal is that foster families wouldn't be needed, but at the same time I felt so ready (emotionally) to welcome a child into my home. And it was sometimes hard to reconcile those two desires.)

One week later I received another call. It was for a second potential placement- this time for two children under the age of two.

The agency I work with is incredibly supportive, and they want foster parents to make thoughtful and informed decisions about accepting placements. They encourage them to be honest about what they're thinking and feeling, and want them to only accept placements they feel confident they can really care for and support.

When I received this second phone call, I was in the midst of a miserable cold. As I answered, I was  typing a message to a friend about my plans to take NyQuil and go to bed the moment I got home.
When this opportunity came up, I immediately called my mom and sister to get their perspectives, and ultimately decided I didn't feel confident at that moment to accept two young children. I wasn't sure I'd be able to adjust so quickly to life with two youngsters while feeling awful, struggling to breathe normally, and battling a fever.

So I told them I wasn't ready. Which was incredibly difficult.

After that, my phone went silent again. I kept it close- again, expecting it to ring at any moment. (I mean, I almost got a placement within three hours of signing papers- why was it taking so long??)

On Monday night I was sitting with a new friend, drinking tea and sharing my frustration with the waiting. "I thought I'd have a placement by now," I lamented. "I thought the difficult part was over when I finished the licensure process, but waiting seems just as challenging in a lot of ways." She encouraged me to trust that, whenever a placement came, the timing and fit would be perfect. I agreed, really believing she was right, but still feeling exhausted with the process.

The next day- less than 24 hours later- my phone rang again.

I picked it up- thinking it would just be a request for more information to complete babysitter background checks. (I'd had to provide a few rounds of information earlier in the week.)

But it wasn't.

I was told there was a new potential placement. There was an expecting mom was set to be induced later in the week, but she wasn't ready to take care of her new baby at that time. So she was asking to have him placed.

And they thought I'd be a good fit.

"Of course, we'll have to figure out childcare. Most places won't take kids under 6 weeks of age. But if we're able to work that out, do you think you'd be interested?"

I didn't even have to think about this one. I felt ready (again- emotionally) and confident as I said, "Yes, I definitely would."

So I made some phone calls and the agency made some phone calls, and we kept hitting walls. I talked to several day cares, all of which stated they couldn't take in an infant so young. The one I found that could accept newborns was full.

So I started to feel discouraged again; I began to think this placement would't work out, after all.

The next day- on Wednesday- the agency told me they were working on a few possibilities.

That evening, they told me they'd figured out an option that would work.

They didn't have information about the mom/baby yet, so I still wasn't sure if things would pan out, but I was trying to remain hopeful.

On Thursday morning I got a text. "It's a boy!"

I may or may not have cried in my office.

I felt such a strange mix of emotions. On the one hand, I was so excited to welcome this new life into my home. I felt humbled at the thought of accepting such an significant role in the life of this child and his family.
At the same time, my heart broke for his mom. I couldn't image what she was feeling. I was so thankful for the way she was choosing to care for her child, but so devastated at the thought of the pain she was feeling.

I cannot even fathom what she was- and is- going through.

But I felt very ready to love that new baby boy.

We weren't sure when he would be released from the hospital, but- expecting it to be sometime over the weekend- I made a Target run that night to pick up the essentials. Diapers, wipes, etc.

As I stood in the baby aisle- overwhelmed by the sheer number of various bottles (how do I know what to choose?!), my phone rang again.

"He's being released tomorrow! Do you want to go with the case manager to pick him up?"

After frantic and frazzled phone calls to my employers, I excitedly agreed to go.

Twelve hours later- after a somewhat sleepless night- I was heading down to Galveston to meet my first foster child.

As we made the trip, everything felt surreal. I kept expecting to wake up and realize it was a dream. I stared at passengers in the cars passing by, thinking about how we were (probably) heading to such different places. They were just going about their day-to-day lives.

I was going to pick up a child.

My heart was racing when we pulled up to the hospital. We checked in at the nursery, and I stood awkwardly behind the case manager as he filled out paperwork. I kept glancing around- trying to figure out which crying baby would be coming home with me in just a few hours.

After signing a few forms, the nurse waved me over to a few infants lying in portable hospital cribs.

She pointed to the one closest to me, and I met my new foster son.

"I'm sorry- we're really busy today," the nurse explained. "Let me try to find you a room." She asked her co-workers if there was an empty room nearby. We were directed to the circumcision room.

Not an ideal location for our first moments together, but still.

I followed her as she wheeled this sweet little boy- less than 48 hours old- into the room. She told me he was probably ready to eat, handed me a bottle, and left to take care of her other patients. "Am I allowed to pick him up?" I asked as she left, but she didn't hear me.

There are really no words that can do justice to everything I felt in that moment.

Overjoyed.
Terrified.
Grateful.
Nervous.
Uncertain.
Peaceful.
And so, so full of love.

I stared at him for a moment- completely unable to process so many distinct thoughts and emotions- and then, very nervously, pulled him into my arms.

I cried as I sat there holding him.

I whispered to him while he slept in my arms- terrified I would wake him up. I told him how happy I was to meet, hold, and care for him. I told him about how loved he was- by me, by his mother, and by the countless people who had called and texted me over the past 24 hours to offer support, baby clothes, meals, etc. (I have amazing people in my life, guys.)

Despite the noise and chaos around us, it felt so quiet in that room. He lay there sleeping (and- based on the adorable faces he made- dreaming some crazy thing); I stared in awe and silently thanked God for the life in my arms.

About 15 minutes later, his case manager joined  us as we waited for the nurse to return. We sat together for two hours before she came back into the room carrying a bag of supplies and papers. "Okay, I'm just going to give you a really quick crash course on caring for newborns," she told me. She quickly flipped through a booklet, reminding me to put him on his back to sleep, make sure he was buckled up in the car, and stick to short sponge baths until his umbilical cord fell off. You know, the highlights of infant care.

She probably said a few other things, too, but she was talking quickly. It's all kind of a blur now.

"Well, any questions?" she asked.
"Umm... I don't... not that I can think of right now?"
"Okay, well- you can go ahead and change his diaper and then head out! Good luck!"

Five minutes later, we were carrying this tiny boy out to the car.

I was expecting someone to chase me into the elevator and stop us. Surely someone knew I didn't know what I was doing?!

But we made it to the car without anyone saying another word.

We buckled him into his carseat ("Is this right? Should this be at a different angle? He looks so scrunched up- can he breathe?!") and left.

About 4 hours later, I was pulling into my driveway, trying to comprehend the ways my life had changed in the past 24 hours.

Guys.

I'm a foster a foster mom.

To a perfect little boy.

And I am so, so happy.

And sleep deprived.

But mostly happy. And unbelievably grateful.

I'll share more about the past few days later, but for now I have a sweet little baby to hold.






I'm not allowed to show his face or use his name, but here are some photos of our first days together:
He held my finger for most of the ride home. He knows how to melt hearts, guys.

Right after we arrived home (I look exhausted and like I just gave birth, but I love this photo.) 


RG is still trying to figure out what to think about him.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's Official.


1:30PM (or a few minutes before, I guess).

That's the time I officially became a licensed foster parent.

I had to sign a form in front of a notary, so I ran by the office this afternoon to do so.

As I sat down at her desk, she hovered next to me chatting with the foster care program director.

"Okay," I told myself. "This signature counts. Make it a good one."

Luckily I'd practiced signing my name at least a hundred times that morning- one of the perks of being a social worker, I guess.

A moment later I was sitting there- staring at my signature, freshly scrawled in bright blue ink- when I heard a piece of the notary's conversation above me.

"So, if we were to get a call tonight about a placement, technically..."
"It could go to her, yes."

That's when it dawned on me:

They're talking about me.

This is really happening.

Holy *&^%.

This isn't an intimidating mountain of forms and tasks standing formidably in the distance.

I've hiked this beast and left it behind.

And now I'm sitting at the notary's desk, taking it all in, and (sort of) realizing what this means for me.

In a matter of hours, I could have a child in my home.

Or it could be a matter of days.
Or weeks.
Or even months, I guess.

But it's done.

I did it.

I'm a foster parent.

(On paper.)


Truth be told, I'm starting to panic a little.

That might be a strong word, but I'm asking myself questions like, "What do I actually do when a child shows up? How will I know what to feed it? What time should it go to bed? Will someone tell me those things, or am I just supposed to figure them out? How does someone figure those things out??
What will we do in our first moments together? How will I explain what's going on to a verbal child? How do I help a child feel at home in a totally new and strange place?
Should I take the kid out for frozen yogurt to ease the transition? No, I don't want to teach them to numb their feelings with food.
But froyo is so food.
And, seriously... what else do I do with a kid?"

I'm having visions of myself sitting across from a four year old- awkwardly asking, "So... what do you want to do?" before falling into an uncomfortable staring contest.

I mean... really...WHAT IF THAT HAPPENS??

Hopefully it won't. Hopefully some of this will come naturally. I mean, I've spent a LOT of time around kids in my life- how hard could this be, right?

Oh my goodness.

I'm going to be a foster parent.





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Tour of the Nest

Well...

I passed the inspections.

The box springs for the kids' room weren't delivered until an hour before the inspector arrived on Tuesday, but I was able to rush home from work and throw the beds together just in time.

After the rush, stress and manual labor, I might not have looked very put together- but my house sure did.

Here's a little tour, for anyone interested in the (pretty much) finished project:

Let's start in the kitchen...
You can't tell in the photo (because the lighting is terrible, my B), but the paint is a beautiful, bright blue. It's very cheery and lovely. Between the paint color, the coffee maker, and the "You deserve a donut" print (aka- an old donut bag. I'm all about recycling) by the sink, this is definitely one of my favorite rooms of the house.
The Emergency Exit Plan also adds a nice touch.

If you turn around, you run right into the dining room.
It's not very exciting, but it has a cute table with cute chalkboard placemats. (Thanks, mom!)
I'm working on spicing the table up a bit with some color, but it's a work in progress. I'll report back on that later.


The dining room opens up to the living room. I did a panoramic photo (obviously), so it's hard to tell from the photo how awkwardly long this room is.  But- despite it's awkward shape- it's very homey.
(Oh, and in case you were wondering, I DIYed the rug from a plain $15 Target rug. It's whatever.)

View two:
The dog bed really adds a classy flare to the room.
I also made the photo hanging things above the couch, but they're a little hard to see here. I'm really happy with them, though- especially because they include some really great photos of my twin and me as toddlers. Here's a sample:
I was a very bubbly child.


Next comes the kids' room, for which I am forever indebted to my mom. (See my last post if you don't understand why.)
Not pictured- the DIY lantern-style Christmas lights. Thanks, Pinterest!

The other kids' room is not totally put together... it sort of serves as the dogs' room for now.
They really enjoy antique furniture, though, so it works out.
#sorrysoblurry

 Then there's my room. I owe the cool wall paint to my old roomie, as it was once her room.
My favorite parts of this room: that chair and the artwork. And the natural light.
And my books.

So, that's my officially-inspected house. 
Which will soon be home to a small person.
 Or people.

Tomorrow is the final walk-through, and then it's pretty much a waiting game.

So that's pretty crazy.

And great.

Who knows? There could be some big updates pretty soon...

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Overdue Update


I know- my photo editing skills are amazing.

Hey, team!

I apologize for the delayed update; things have been a tad busy lately.

Here's what been going on in the past few weeks:
  • At the urging of co-workers, I went the doctor and got my leg checked. I was diagnosed with some type of stress fracture and sentenced to time on crutches.
No one was more stunned by this news than Mel.
Unfortunately for my still-bruised leg, my time on crutches lasted about a day, because soon afterward I…
  •  Was on a plane heading to New Orleans with my brother! It was a really fun trip. I got some good sibling time, ate a LOT of food, and listened to some great music. Plus, I tried beignets for the first time! They were delicious, but if I’m being honest- I think they might be a little over-hyped.  

I still enjoyed them enough to get powdered sugar all of the hotel room floor- like a true lady.
My favorite part of the trip was listening to the Preservation Jazz Hall band at Preservation Hall.
If you get a chance to visit this place, do it. 
They were incredible- such a talented group. And the drummer fell in love with me at a bar the next night. (True story- my brother can confirm.) If we lived in the same town and he wasn’t at least 40 years my senior, I definitely would have scored his digits.

Here's my favorite photo from the trip:
I think it's obvious why it's my favorite.
  •  A few days after I got back from NOLA, my mom came to visit! This was wonderful because a) she’s really fun, and b) she helped me organize and get the house ready. I am so, so thankful for her. Seriously- I’m not sure I’d be able to get through this process without her encouragement and support. We got a LOT of stuff done while she was here, which decreased my stress levels significantly.  We built a shed for the boxes of toys (remember that last post?) and then moved said boxes into said shed, checked smoke detectors, organized the living room, put up a gate in the backyard to block an entrance to a sketchy shed that belongs to my landlord, etc, etc. Then she did some MAGIC while I was at work on Monday and Tuesday.          
We're talking a Gob Bluth-level feat, here.


She (among a million other things) single-handedly set up and organized my old room. I mean, look at these pictures:


 BEFORE:
It's horribly lit and should have been in panoramic so you could get a full view of the disaster- but it was rough. Piles of stuff outside the frame- trust me.
AFTER:
Hindsight 20/20, guys. But look at this! Plus- she BUILT that bookshelf!

 And that was just on Monday! She knocked a bunch of stuff out for me on Tuesday, too. So please know- when I say I’m not sure I could make it through this process without her, I really, really mean it. I’d be drowning in children’s toys if it weren’t for her. I cannot say enough how grateful I am for her help, so if you see her around town, give her a hug and buy her a margarita, because she deserves it for being such a generous mom and person.

Since she left I’ve been trying to wrap up the items on my foster-parent-licensing to-do list. The main challenges this week: dealing with inspections.

Guys- this has been the WORST.

I was na├»ve enough to believe scheduling these would just involve a phone call in which I'd say, “Hey, can you guys come look at my house?” and they would respond with, "Of course! We'd be delighted."

Apparently that is not how it works.

I was similarly disappointed.

When I called and asked to schedule an inspection, I was told I needed to fill out an application and bring it in to the office first.

I got that news from both the Health Inspector and Fire Marshall’s offices.

So the next day, on my lunch break during CPR/First Aid training, I trekked around town to drop off applications.
I had to go to two different municipal buildings (why can’t we just group them together into one? They have almost exactly the same name!), wrote TWO separate checks to the City of Waco, and then was given approval to schedule my inspections.

Which I had to do by calling the office.

As in… the office(s) I was standing in.

When I called the Health Inspector’s office- literally within an hour of leaving- I was told the inspector would be out of town for two weeks. While I feel it would have been helpful to hear about that while I was actually standing in the office, I persevered and- after a few phone calls- was thankfully able to find another gentleman willing to do it.

Check.

I was told to wait 24 hours to call the fire marshal, so I did that during my lunch break at work on Friday. During this phone call, I was informed by a very nice man who was trying to be helpful that I needed to:
1) get the house’s gas appliances inspected by a certified plumber and 
2) get my over-five-pound- fire extinguisher inspected by a fire-extinguisher-inspector. (Something I didn’t know existed until that moment.)

Now, at this point, I’m starting to panic. These inspections are 2 of 5 things standing between me and a completed checklist, so I was hoping to get them taken care of by the end of this week. And since it was Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend, I felt like my window of opportunity to get these completed on time was quickly closing. (The other three things are taking pictures of the house, updating a pet’s shot records, and signing a final form- much smaller tasks.)

With the time I had left of my lunch break (who wants to eat anyway, right?), I found a plumber that could come out that afternoon after work. I also called the fire-extinguisher-inspector company and discovered they would close for the holiday weekend at 5PM on the dot.

Except for not at all. 

After a hectic afternoon at work, I was able to rush home at 3:30.

I arrived a few moments after the plumber (sorry, bro), who moved my oven/stove forward and lit a match by my water heater before declaring the appliances acceptable- a service that costs $100, by the way, in case you are considering a new career path.

When he left, I grabbed my fire extinguisher so I could rush to the inspection office only to discover-
it wasn’t over 5 lbs.


Apparently fire extinguisher makers don’t want to waste ink printing the weight on the box, so you can only know for SURE what it weighs by opening it. Fun.

I sprinted out the door, ran to Lowe’s, found an extinguisher I thought might be over five pounds based on its size relative to the first one, and then drove to a sketchy warehouse to have it inspected.

It was give the okay just before 5PM.


Suffice it to say, it was a hectic day. Really, it was a hectic 48 hours. But now both inspections are scheduled- for tomorrow and Thursday.
And hopefully I'll pass them.
With flying colors.
Because I’m not sure I can go through that again.

With those on the calendar, this weekend has been dedicated to going through inspection checklists and making sure everything is in order. I’ve baby-proofed my stove and the cabinets containing cleaning supplies, organized closets, mowed the lawn, hung up the officially inspected and approved fire extinguisher, found locations for the medicine lock-boxes, put up pictures and artwork to make the place look homey, and cleaned like there’s no tomorrow. There’s still a bit more cleaning to do, but I’m determined to have everything ready to go by the end of the night.

Please, Lord.

In all the stress of the past week, though, I can’t help but think about what this long checklist is leading up to.
And then I can’t help but feel really excited.
And then a little terrified.
And then back to excited again.

I am rapidly approaching the end of this stage of the journey, which means my life could look drastically different in the very near future.

To be honest, I still haven’t wrapped my mind fully around that fact.

It’s odd knowing my life is about to shift in such a profound way, but at the same time have no idea what that will look like. I can’t predict when kids might arrive, how many of them there will be, how old they are, or what they’ll like to do. And, since I don’t have kids of my own, I can’t really draw from experience to make a rough estimation of what having a child in my home will look like on a day-to-day basis.

It’s times like this that I realize how crazy it is that I’m doing this.

But, crazy or not, I feel so much joy and peace in this decision. Even in the midst of the stress and fear.

As Liz Lemon would say...
Things are happening...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Foster Parent Nesting




Nesting.

The urge to create a warm, safe and (in humans, particularly) aesthetically pleasing space in which to welcome a child.

Typically, this occurs later in pregnancy, spurred on by an influx of hormones. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Expecting parents will clean, organize and decorate their homes and nurseries in anticipation of the life that’s about to arrive.

But even without a surge of hormones, I have found myself overwhelmed by a desire to “nest” lately. I want to make my house as welcoming and lovely as possible for any future foster children.

However, I have discovered a key difference between a biological parent and myself:

I know absolutely nothing about the kid(s) who might live in my home.

Biological parents can go HAM picking out colors, clothes, and toys. If they prefer to keep the gender a surprise, they can choose some really trendy neutral items.
According to Google, this is a "gender neutral toy."
Yikes.

Regardless, they’ll know to get a crib, diapers, some onesies, and whatever else babies need these days.

But what do you do if you’re completely in the dark about not just the gender, but the age and even number of your future child(ren) as well?

What do you do if you know nothing about the child (or children??) you’re preparing for?


Even Oprah is unsure.

This is the dilemma I’m facing.

Sure, I can create a gender-neutral space like many parents do, but what furniture should I supply? A crib, or a bed? Do I need a highchair, booster seat, or neither? What kind of toys should I have available? Should I stock the bookshelf with picture books, squishy books that can be chewed and drooled on, or pop-up books? (That’s for you, Ben.) Will the child(ren) in my home even like books??

Although I want to create a space like this...

Thank, Pinterest, for continually inspiring to set unattainable interior design goals!

...the uncertainty of just about everything makes the task a little overwhelming.

Still, every once in a while, I am hit with waves of sheer determination.
That’s what happened last Sunday morning.

I woke up early, had a few hours before I wanted to head to church, and was feeling super ambitious as I thought about setting up my home, so I decided to start moving into my new room. (Logistically, with the set-up of the house, my old room and the guest room are the best fit for kids’ rooms. Plus my new room has a bigger closet, so there’s that.)

After drinking a cup of coffee and singing some Chaka Khan at the top of my lungs, I disassembled my bed, moved each piece to its new location, and started putting it back together. After reassembling the bedframe, I began moving the box spring mattress into place (by myself, in case you forgot)- confident my efforts would fill Geri Halliwell herself with pride.



That’s when- in some fluid motion I still don’t entirely understand- I tripped and fell backward. Caught on the previously mentioned reassembled bedframe, I was unable to fall out of the way as the very large and heavy box spring came crashing onto me.
Or my leg.

Although I cannot find one to do the moment justice, I am certain if someone caught my fall on tape it would become a gif sensation. It had to look ridiculous.

After lying on the floor for a bit- saying some words I would never use in front of future foster children- I gathered my pride, walked off my injury, and kept trucking through my to-do list.
Then, halfway through folding a load of laundry, I noticed I had an extra kneecap sticking out of my shin.
And that it was very painful.
And pretty disgusting.

In case you missed it last week.

Suffice it to say, I was confined to the couch for the majority of the day. (Except for when I took a break to hang curtains, because- seriously- who can sit on a couch all day?)

Since then, I managed to injure my other shin and receive multiple bruises by tripping over- or running into- miscellaneous pieces of furniture.

Obviously I am the picture of effortless grace.

This lady has nothing on me.

In spite of my injuries, I was finally able to finish organizing (mostly) on Thursday. My living room looked lovely, I used some magazine basket things (technical term) to organize my closet, my dishes were finally where they belonged- things were looking up!

Then I traveled home for the weekend, loaded a U-Haul with tons of toys, blankets, baby clothes and a few pieces of furniture (which were very generously donated by my mom- thanks, mom!), and drove back north. (Special shout out to my mom, grandparents, and friends- who were incredibly kind and helped me load and unload the truck in less-than-ideal Texas heat, and my friend who was unbelievably generous and drove me 3.5 hours south so I could make a one-way trip with the truck!)

This is the 14' truck I drove like a champ. Obviously while singing Chaka Khan again.
Also, I don't have many picture of myself, so that one will be on repeat for while.

Since unloading that truck, my once mostly-organized house looks like the aftermath of a tornado running through the North Pole.

These photos don’t quite do it justice, but here’s a glimpse:


Just days ago I could sit on that couch...

There’s a lot of stuff, guys. We’re talking about six kids’ worth of childhood toys/blankets/etc.

And the thought of sorting through it all and finding space for it has made me a feel a little bit anxious.
And by a little bit anxious, I mean I’ve had a few tearful breakdowns.

But bit by bit, my gimp leg and I are going through boxes of baby/toddler things from  the 1984-1998 years, trying to decide what might be useful for the unknown child(ren) who could be living in my house in one moth.

My goal is to have everything accessible in clearly labeled containers so they can be pulled out in a pinch if and when they’re needed.

I will always aspire to the perfection of Pinterest.
And, honestly, I feel very fortunate to be overwhelmed by everything I have available for future foster kids. I mean, there certainly are worse scenarios I could be facing.

I’m feeling more calm about it as I keep plugging away with the organizing, and in spite of its current disaster status, I’m confident my house will once again be an organized (and hopefully somewhat attractive) home- ready for any child welcomed into it, whenever that may happen.



In the meantime, I still have a lot to learn about how to prepare this place.
This is what my Amazon cart has looked like for a week:


Which of these things do I actually need??

If you’ve ever welcomed a child or children into your home (biological, adoptive, foster, babysitting- whatever), how did you prepare? What items were necessary (or extremely helpful) for you? What did you think would be necessary, but turned out to be pretty pointless?


Help me, people. I could use all the advice I can get.