Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Week Out

We've had a week to process the events and emotions that came from our Foster Care Review Board.

We have a court date scheduled on August 25th where a judge will decide whether to terminate the parental rights of Little Man's parents or whether to send he and his siblings home. Although those things are on opposite ends of the spectrum, that is the decision before the Family Court of Greenville County. It's a hard thing, as it should be, to terminate parental rights. As our caseworker described to us, "In our world, it is equivalent to the death penalty." Because of this and many other reasons, we believe that on the 25th our Little Man will be sent back to his biological mother.

Our current struggle is with trust. It's hard for me to imagine that on the 25th I'll be able to look at God and say, "You're right. He's better off there." In my head I know God is good. I know He sees a bigger picture. I know He's pursuing Little Man's heart just as aggressively as He's pursuing mine. I know that Little Man's best interest are at the forefront of His mind. I know that, as we taught our children yesterday, He cares for the flowers and the birds--He cares for us and for our girls and for our Little Man. Even as I type all that out (it's good, to see it written out, by the way), tears are flowing, so I know that my heart hasn't quite caught up to what my head knows to be true.

My kids all sleep with "taggies," so I made Little Man one this afternoon while everyone napped. Unlike my kids, I appliqued his first initial on the front. As I stepped back to "admire my work," tears came to my eyes. Hopefully that "J" will set it apart as his in whatever Children's Home or Foster Home he ends up in throughout his life. Pretty pessimistic, huh? Sadly, in my mind, it's not a question of "if but when" he'll end up back "in the system." Our system is not perfect, but it's what we have to work with, so, again, we must trust.

So many of you have been on this journey with us as we've adjusted to this new normal. It's been a rocky road full of ups and lots of downs...probably, in all honesty, more downs than ups. We've learned much about ourselves as we've gone, and hopefully we look a little more like Christ than we did before we started. It sounds like I think it's already over, but one of our main goals over the next few weeks is not to "check out" before it's time...he deserves better than that.

Pray for us and for our girls and our Little Man as we all learn to trust in ways we never have been asked to before.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Worry--According to Annabelle

A little background. We've lost all three of our Beta fish in the past two weeks. They started swimming funny and died a few hours later. After the first one died, I tried to prepare the girls a little when I saw the others following the same path. In our conversation, I said something like, "I'm a little worried about Scarlett/Glow/Nemo; he's swimming kind of funny, and I think he might die."

Eric read the kids part of the Sermon on the Mount from one of our favorite Bible story books tonight. As we finished, we were talking about the flowers and the God loves us much more than these things and how we shouldn't worry about Him taking care of us. Annabelle's response:

"Well, except it's okay to worry just a little bit about our fish when they're looking a little silly?!?"

Eric was speechless in response.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Make-It Monday--Links!

This is my last Make-It Monday post! Remember, I said it was a summer-long experiment? Eric starts back to school later this week, thus ending our blissful summer! I thought I'd share some of my favorite places to get ideas:

Educational Printables:

First School

Educational Sites:

PBS Kids
Fisher Price

Crafty Sites:

Family Fun
Flipflops & Applesauce
Crafty Crow
Make & Takes
Let's Explore

Enjoy looking around and share any favorites of yours with the rest of us via "comments"!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Foster Care Review Board

Today Eric and I were a part of a proceeding called "Foster Care Review Board." It takes place every six months for each child who is in Foster Care. The room consisted of the board, a representative from the State Department, Little Man's caseworker, his parents, and Eric and I.

There aren't many details that are appropriate to share in this forum. It was an emotional experience for me...I was, in fact, really surprised at the emotions I felt.

This is, however, an appropriate place to thank God for showing up in real, tangible, obvious ways for me today. I know You were there, because, well, because, You're God...but You were there in person for me. The past few months have been a crazy ride--one in which I've questioned You daily. You have hung with me, though, and made it clear throughout that we are doing the right thing. The next few weeks promise more craziness--be near, Lord Jesus!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Make-It Monday: Magazine Art

Old magazines are great practice for cutting! Here are a few things we like to do with them:

Of course, there's this!

We also like this:

Yes, it's a basic collage, but much neater because we eliminated the need for glue and used the sticky side of contact paper...just taped the paper sticky side out to the easel, the kids cut and stuck away for hours! Of course, had we clear contact paper, we'd have covered our collages and used them for placemats...but we didn't.

This is great for when your child is learning alphabet recognition:

It's also fun to pick a theme like body parts, shapes, etc. This one is great for the grocery ads:
And, since we're on the subject of cutting: here is one of our favorite books on the topic!

Happy snipping!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sunset Beach

Snacktime (l-r): Ella Grace, Katie, Annabelle, Little Man

Sweet Ella Grace

Miss Hollywood-Annabelle

Our Katie Girl

When Things Don't Go As Planned

I sat in Downtown Greenville last Sunday night laughing with my best friends at the couples we saw with no kids. We remembered the spontaneity of those days fondly, realizing that they were good days, but so are these.

Nothing spontaneous about taking four kids to the beach for four days!

I made a list of things to pack before we left that was three pages long!

Eric and I sat earlier this week planning what we'd do each day, when the kids would nap, what we'd eat, what nights we'd go out, etc.

"Nothing spontaneous" means nothing went unplanned.

When Annabelle woke up Wednesday morning with a fever, my statement went something like, "Why can't anything be easy?" Honestly, a vacation isn't a vacation when you've got a sick kid.

Not wanting to have her out in the heat of the day, we sunscreened, suited, and loaded everyone up last night for a few hours at the beach. We stopped for dinner in the quaint, Calabash, NC. During dinner a storm blew in--the works, thunder, lightening and big, summer raindrops. Instead of heading to the beach, we headed to a Redbox for a movie and popcorn night.

As we tucked our kiddos in bed last night, I was discouraged that nothing had gone as planned. Rain was in the forecast for today, so Eric and I scoured the internet for things to do in case we couldn't be outside.

Today is Friday and it's the first time we've seen the beach! We woke this morning to a big sunshine and it was a beautiful morning at the beach. The breeze blew off the ocean making it almost chilly in the shade--the kind of day you could get super sunburned and never know it because you never really feel the heat. One of my favorite things to do is watch my kids play on the beach, and they didn't disappoint. It was Little Man's first time to see the ocean and the giant sandbox we call the shore! He loved the waves and was, like the rest of us, covered in sand before leaving! The girls giggled remembering the awe of God's vast ocean and understanding in a new way what their Daddy and I mean when we say, "I love you more than the sand on the beach and bigger than the ocean!"

Ironically, after we got back to our condo, it began to rain. It was God's gentle reminder to me that he's in control no matter how much I try to plan!

Thank you, Creator, for a wonderful morning full of memories!

Pictures to follow...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beach Bound!

After a visit to Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia...
We settled into our condo, had a quick dinner, and swam until bedtime! At which time, four sleepy kiddos fell asleep dreaming of tomorrow--a day at the beach!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Make-It Monday: Painting

Here are some of our favorite activities using paint:
(there are no pictures, sorry, remember our camera in Mexico?)
  • Car Painting: place a few blobs of paint on a sheet of paper and allow your kids to drive cars through the paint. This makes a fun design especially if you use cars with different wheels. If you use cardstock, this also makes a great card for grandma! When they're finished painting, my kids love filling the sink or water table and creating a car wash. I give them sponges, toothbrushes, rags, etc.--this is a nice activity that keeps them busy for a while! More detailed instructions can be found here.
  • Crayon Resist Painting: we haven't done much of this, but what we've done, my kids have been fascinated with. Check here for some ideas.
  • Painter's Tape: we use the blue tape meant for taping baseboards and ceilings before painting a room to make different pictures. I will say this works best when using cardboard to paint on instead of paper. I've made the kid's initials and let them paint around them, carefully removed the tape to reveal the first letter of their name still in white. We used painter's tape for the Fourth to make American flags--they turned out great! You can also practice shapes with small children or let older children make simple outlines like a house!
  • Rolling Pin Painting: we use old cereal boxes most often to paint on. A few weeks ago, when we'd reached the point of growing bored with "just painting," I got a few sheets of paper and the kids put it right on top of the pictures they'd been working on. They then passed my rolling pin around taking turns rolling the print from their painting onto the white paper. They LOVED this activity!
  • Outside Painting: the dollar store usually sells packs of regular size paintbrushes (like the kind you'd paint a wall with). These are great with a bucket of water. My kids love painting the driveway and are fascinated with watching their painting disappear.

There are so many other ideas out there that we haven't yet tried. These we've all tried with relative success...hope there's some success for you and your little Picasso too!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Summer's Greatest Invention

It's simply brilliant and works surprisingly well for both popsicles and ice cream cones!

And...uh...Katie really needs one!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Make-It Monday: Learning to Tell Time

Ella Grace has been very interested in the passage of time for . . . well, a long time. We made these clocks from the template found here a few weeks ago:

One thing we enjoyed doing was reading The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle, a story that mentions different times of the day throughout.