Our New Happy Place

I am a planner…a five-year plan is my happy place. Well, it used to be. Life has a way of humbling us…and the thought of mapping out where I think we should be in five years has become a bit comical. Take the month of May, for example. Today is April 22. Within the next thirty days we will either say goodbye to our Peas; say hello forever to our Peas; just hang out with the Peas a bit longer (til the next court date); perhaps take on a additional Pea…as one is cooking and is due in May; AND welcome a new family member for a spell. So, uh, plans are really…not…ummm…conducive to our current way of life.

This kind of “uncertainty” is our new normal. And though it is true for all of us, we are keenly aware that we have no idea what the future holds. But our hope for our future is secure…because it now rests on the unchangeable shoulders of a good God. And that space of faith is our new happy place. Trusting the One who is immovable, unchangeable…and good. We feel such certainty that all will be well. All will be well. This place of peace beats the pants off a five-year plan.



So, we’ve been fostering for about three years. And in that three years’ time, we’ve been assigned the crème de la crème of case managers. I wish she could say the same for us…or for me. But she has informed me…laughingly, “Jan, you are not a good foster mom. You are a great mom. But you treat these foster babies like they are yours. And they are not. You must remember, they are not yours.” Yep. It is true. I struggle greatly with the disparity in my parenting style for my “own children” versus my parenting style for my precious fosters. Risk management? What’s that? I figure, as long as the consequence is not fatal…or near fatal…let ’em figure stuff out for themselves. Right? Let ’em play, and tumble and climb and explore. Let ’em be bold and courageous in the face of the play scape or the slide or the tree. Yeah. No bueno for my Peas. No. Bueno.

And in my quiet moments, I realize, I am NOT a good foster mom. There are aspects of this gig that I forget time and time again. But I am learning. Slowly. I am learning. The babies belong to another woman. And my haphazard approach to risk management probably leaves her frustrated…and worried. And I am starting to realize, my inattention to detail is…unkind. Sigh.

Though it will feel crazy unnatural, I am going to try to parent in a way that isagainst every instinct I have. Now, I won’t stop being me…and I’ll make mistakes…and the fact that I am currently parenting a dare-devil of a toddler comes into play. Up til now, my focus in parenting has been for the love of the babies in my charge. My passion for their good. I am going to try to parent in a way that is loving to my charges’ mama. A consideration for her vulverable position of leaving the care of her babies to another.

Here’s to becoming a more loving foster mom…a fit foster mom.

Chick Pea — TWO!

I am surprised to discover very few notes on Chick Pea this past month. So many of her changes have been…soft…unspoken. I’ve noted a vulnerability that is sweet…yet frightening. This impenetrable child has trusted her heart to us…she seeks gentle hugs in the quiet of day…she nuzzles my neck…seeking and finding comfort. I am undone.

At two years of age, Chick Pea:

  • names and narrates. This is one of my favorite stages. As she gets dressed, she names body parts…and explains what is happening, “Shirt on. Shoes on.”
  • is speaking so much. Her language has just exploded…in the best of ways.
  • signs like a pro. Miss Smarty Pants learns signs faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.
  • rubs soft foods, like yogurt and sour cream, all over herself. (This is likely a carry-over from her nighttime ritual. She has eczema, so we slather on the lotion each night. )Sneaky girl almost always waits until my back is turned or I’m out of the room. You’d think I’d learn.
  • lets me sing “Rock-a-bye Baby” to her and cradle her in my arms. (It occurred to me recently that she is the only one I have not sing lullabies to as a wee babe…and I went about remedying that!) The first time I held her like a baby and she relaxed into my arms, my heart ached. It ached for her…time I did not have with her…time her mother does not have now. I ached for all of the brokenness in her wee life.
  • tags along and imitates Denver in the sweetest of ways.
  • exhibits fewer strong-willed defiances…girl gets along. She gets along so well.
  • dotes on Sweet Pea…still. Such a sweet sister.
  • enjoyed a birthday party with her mom, her aunt, and her grandma. (We were invited to attend. Touching!)

Chick Pea — Twenty-Three Months!

Just one month shy of two, yet with the wit and wisdom of one MUCH older. This girl never ceases to amaze me with her fearless ambitions. I have rarely seen anyone move forward toward a goal with such unwavering faith that it will be accomplished. Whew. She keeps me on my toes!

At twenty-three months, Chick Pea:

  • loves to wipe up messes. This comes in handy around here. She’ll look at me, with a rag in hand, “Clean?” Oh yes, baby girl, you knock yourself out.
  • has caught the Paw Patrol frenzy that exists within our wall. Though it sounds like “Bubbles,” the girl is saying “Paw Patrol.” No doubt.
  • brushes her hair…just like the big girls. (I adore how proud she is to be just like Eden and Denver.)
  • says “Good night” with absolute clarity.
  • can count. It goes something like this, “two, free, bap!”
  • says “thank you,” of her own accord. Sweetie girl.
  • loves our new dog, Lady. Perhaps because Lady will let Chick Pea love on her…or more accurately, because I let her love on Lady. Sadly, I often find myself limiting Chick’s affections on others…cause girl likes to smother the baby…and poke at her eyes…so I’m forever saying, “Gentle, Chick Pea. Don’t hurt the baby.” But Lady is gentle enough, yet sturdy enough to happily endure Chick’s affections. Lady is going to be sooooo good for our girl.
  • throws the ball at the dogs to play fetch. It’s awfully cute.
  • likes to wear panties…over her clothes.
  • calls animal crackers “baubbs.” Funny how some words are crystal clear and others are garbled.
  • can sign so many words…I’ve lost count. Smarty pants can remember just about any sign she’s ever seen…even if only once. I would put her sign vocabulary right around 200 words. BOOM.

Chick Pea — Twenty-Two Months

This girl! She is certain to be an engineer…or a CEO…or an engineer CEO. The girl is crazy smart and fearless…except when it comes to garbage trucks. Garbage trucks send her over the edge. Nonetheless, this smart, resourceful girl is going places.


At twenty-two months, Chick Pea:

  • signs. A lot! We watch either Baby Signing Time OR Signing Time every morning. She eats it up. Makes my heart so happy.
  • plays kitty. And puppy. Too cute.
  • has the quickest hands in the west…especially if I am wearing her on my back. I’m always shocked to discover what she is holding…a book she grabbed off a shelf…a cup…a hairbrush. It’s always a fun surprise.
  • is teaching her baby sister to sign the word “more.” Swoon.
  • can remove the yard stick that we placed through the handles of the kitchen drawers…to lock her out of them. We’re in so much trouble.
  • whilst removing the yard stick one day, she took out the girls plates and cups from a drawer and set the table. Set the table, folks. This girl does not mess around. Did I mention she is twenty-two months??
  • is such a good mama to Sweet Pea. The other day I walked out of the room, leaving Sweet Pea in her high chair with a bowl of rice cereal nearby. When I returned, Chick was standing on a chair, feeding Sweet Pea cereal…and cleaning off her face with a rag.
  • likes to clean. I’ll give her a rag and let her loose to walk around the house to clean surfaces. She adores this activity. (And I adore her.)
  • spent time with our Picciuti family. I have an adorable photo of Chick Pea sitting in Gramps’ lap. They are making the same face. Toooooo cute.
  • has finally mastered the trampoline. For months now, she would sit on it…and maybe bend her knees…but no jumping. Such a joy to watch her play and laugh as she jumps.
  • calls all fruits and veggies “apple.” Wonderfully, the girl loves her “apples.” Glad to be raising a healthy eater!
  • is fascinated with “airpanes” and always points them out gleefully, “Airpane, airpane!”

Chick Pea — Twenty One Months

Chick Pea is so stinking smart. I know I’ve mentioned it, but WOW, her creative problem solving skills astound.

At twenty one months, Chick Pea:

  • is smart enough to run the show. Seriously…someone put her in charge, please.
  • gets her own boogies…cause she’s just that advanced. Got a boogie? Get a Kleenex and blow…like our big girl.
  • attended her first wedding…or so I think. Anyhoo…it was her first wedding with the Tessiers.
  • met her first cat. Confused her a bit…as she kept calling it a doggie.
  • loves the Happy Birthday Song. We went to a party in which the song was sung. The next day, she kept saying, “Happy to to!” and we didn’t get it for the loooongest time…cause we are not quite as sharp as the Chick. Once I caught on…we sang the song over and over and over and over….
  • says “I forgive you” when I tell her to say “I’m sorry.” We have a little script we follow to teach the girls how to make an apology…Chick Pea knows the script…so she just jumps straight to the end…”I forgive you!”
  • adores Baby Signing Time. She is picking up signs right and left.
  • HATES the swimming pool. Sniff, sniff. We’re working on it.
  • delights and confounds us…daily. We are so grateful she is part of our family…if only for a season.

Chick Pea — Twenty Months

Chick Pea is hands-down, the smartest kid I have ever met…and fiercely independent. I have not doubts, this girl could survive just fine with no help from me…the pesky grown up who makes her follow adult/child protocol. At twenty months, she has got it all over kids twice her age. She is a keen observer, a quick study, and an excellent mime. Oh, and charming. That smile. Those eyes. That giggle. I am completely captivated.

At twenty months, Chick Pea:

  • says “Thank you” now! We worked really hard on this one.
  • has two great loves: pushing objects…chairs, strollers, and pouring water. She can pour water from one container to another for about an hour…maybe more.
  • boldly opens doors and grabs the first thing she sees..as if she knows exactly what she’s doing…as if she knows precisely what is behind the closed door, even if it is her first time.
  • shushes others…finger on lips for emphasis.
  • can climb up most anything. Getting down is another matter. Several times a day, she needs rescue.
  • can say the sentence, “I want down!” This is great considering the aforementioned item.
  • mimics tones beautifully, even when she cannot get the words quite right. When I say “love you,” she repeats “yuh you.”
  • was nipped on the cheek by Two. Though it did not break the skin, this a big deal in “foster world.” I was worried Two’s life would be cut short. Alas, all that was required was a ten-day quarantine and a rabies check. Two passed…and lived to rule the Tessier home another day.
  • can escape her diaper. Oh joy.
  • loves to play “this litle piggy”, and will giggle “ya ya ya ya ya” for “wee wee wee, all the way home.”
  • is learning signs like crazy. We’re indoctrinating her with Baby Signing Time. When the DVD starts, she recognizes it and signs “Baby.” This one is crazy smart.
  • has started visits with her bio mom. She gets to see her twice a week for two hours each time. It’s a mixed bag, to say the least. It has changed the behavior of the little one we had just gotten to know. Now, I’m not sure which is the “real” Chick. Time will tell.
  • has started doing table chores with the big kids! She empties her plate and puts it in the sink.
  • calls me “Mommy Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma.” Pretty catchy.