Travels with Harvey – the Prep

We are T-minus however long it takes…til blast off! Most likely, we will leave tomorrow around noon – most likely. But then again.

Today has been a flurry of activity: me, pinging from project to project; Phil, steady and focused. All in all, we are making progress and I, for one, am starting to get giddy thinking of sunsets by a campfire, cups of coffee in the morning watching the sun rise, walks in the woods.

Here is Harvey today:

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Phil’s domain… creating order and packing the belly of our beloved beast.
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Pretty sure this is a death trap. It’s our dashboard…today. Likely, this will be the last piece put into place, as Phil is still tweaking our boy.
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Tee hee – starting to pack the essentials = books, puzzles, and a toy or two (or twenty.)
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This is one of my babies. Painted the table and the wall, pulled down the valance. It’s coming together. (Check out those windows!!!!! Love them.)
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Hours and hours and hours here…painting the walls and cabinets AND hinges AND screws AND handles, creating a faux marble countertop (oooo la la!)
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Uh, yeah. Not so much work done here…at all. Still, we love it!
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No, the kids will NOT sleep in the kennel. However, they will sleep on cots…in the closet.
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What My Girls Don’t Know

Grandparents Brunch for the girls at school. I just got the notice, and thought nothing of it.  But driving to school one gloomy morning, I started crying and just couldn’t stop. My mom would have LOVED attending a grandparents brunch. I mean LOVED. Cause that woman…she was fierce with her affections. And I am just so sad she missed the whole grand-parenting gig. I am sad for her. I am sad for me. But not so much for my girls. They don’t know. They don’t know that their grandmother would have made a bazillion ten-hour trips to see them – to be with them – to breathe them in. They don’t know that she would have made sure they had a softball, or basketball, or tennis racket in theirs hands as soon as they could walk. They don’t know that she would have brushed, braided, curled, and styled their hair. They don’t know that she would have played and played and played with them. They don’t know that she would have rocked them endlessly. They don’t know that her laughter might have frightened them because it was so full, robust, and LOUD.  They don’t know that she would have danced and danced and danced with them. They don’t know that she would have hummed them to sleep as she lovely gazed upon their faces. They don’t know that her hugs would have left them breathless. They don’t know that she would have loaded them up in the car and set off on adventure after adventure. They don’t know that she would have fought for them. They don’t know that she would have loved them well…so very well. They don’t know. But they will. One day, I will tell them. And we will laugh. And cry. Because right now…childhood…they are unaware of what they are missing out on. They don’t know.

Bringing Him Along

Today is the beginning of a new year. And it is my wedding anniversary. Well, one of them. The one that happened 24 years ago. This day is a day of sweet memories….of joy and tears. Always the tears.

One of the gifts of grief is the richness it adds – to all of life’s celebrations. And the comfort it promises – for all of life’s trials. The ones we lose – the ones who become a part of us – they stay. I remember during grief counseling, my wise adviser said, “The goal is to go back to the moments before death, to pick up the memory of your loved one, and bring him along for rest of your journey.” And I embraced that idea with all my heart. And because of that, Chuck is here. He was at my wedding to Phil. He was in the delivery room with Eden. He was at our adoption hearing for Denver. He was in all of the sweet moments of my life as a Tessier – and in all of the painful ones.

So today I celebrate – the union that began this glorious journey.

I miss you, buddy. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for helping to create the beautiful life that I now embrace.

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Our Heartbeat

Months ago, my friend and kindred spirit (fellow INFJ/introvert raising and extrovert/lover of Jesus, of learning, and of Jane Austen), Melissa Droegmueller, from Rolling Prairie Readers asked me to share my heart for fostering and adopting. The mission of fostering as a family has become the heartbeat of my life, or more accurately, my family’s life. We’ve been at it for almost four years now! In that time, we have fostered four little ones; one went home to Grandma, one joined our family forever, and two are currently teaching us a thing or two about the unbreakable bond of sisters. Speaking of currently, this what our family looks like today: one mama, one papa, one miracle brought to us biologically, one miracle brought to us through adoption, two miracles brought to us through foster care, and two dogs – by far the most needy of our children. Then there are the extensions…more miracles: our beloved Randee (Denver’s biological mamacita – we love her like a daughter) and Sugar Pea (our foster daughters’ brand new baby sister.) Yep, fostering makes like messy…deliciously messy…like a HUGE chunk of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Messy. But I digress…mmmm, chocolate.

When Phil and I started this fostering journey, we jumped in blindly, simply following a tug that we both felt on our hearts. Through the support and help of our church and its outstanding foster/adopt support group, we have grown and learned from the best. It is no doubt the influence of other folks on the front lines of fostering who have shaped and focused our vision. Our vision has shifted from loving on children to loving on families and helping them heal.

Now, before you get the wrong idea about me, know this…my heart and my parenting is as imperfect as the next person’s. In fact, I am not what one would call “a kid person.” As a people, they are noisy and messy…and they get in my introvert space. My methods of parenting are not always stellar, like that one time I banged a sippy cup of milk on the table yelling, “Stop screaming! Stop screaming! Stop screaming!” So, there’s that. Nonetheless, the beauty of fostering is, I am enough. Full of faults. I am enough to change a life.

Every family story is unique, and our is no exception. I have documented so much of our journey right here on my blog. And since it’s summer, I’m taking it easy and simply linking the heck out of this article. You may read as much or as little as you desire, by clicking on your topic of interest.

Thank you for your interest in fostering! I pray you are blessed by what you discover here. If you have questions, contact me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

That time we knew we could not NOT foster.

That time we decided to risk Eden’s heart in order to foster.

That time we realized fostering was not safe for our hearts, but it was good.

That time I dropped off Denver for her first visitation with Randee.

That time I fell in love with Randee.

That time Denver was relinquished to us.

That time our hearts melted with the beauty of watching Denver interact with Randee.

That time we realized we were the second choice.

That time we realized we had a heart for bio moms.

That time we expanded our family from four to six…overnight.

That time we counted the cost of fostering for the third time and how it could affect Eden and Denver.

That time we saw the Pea’s mom for the first time.

That time we realized God was growing us up a bit…shaping and humbling us.

 

You Know Better!

One of the delights and heartache of parenting is hearing your words come out of your children’s mouths. It cracks me up every time I hear Eden say, “No ma’am!” to her sisters who are being stinkers. However, these phrases…not so much, “You know better!” the worst being “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

Sigh. The beauty and wonder of this parenting gig is the chance to launch these kids into the world as a powerful source of love and light. But first, oh first…our own hearts need healing…so that the words that come out are a balm…not a vat of boiling oil. Ahem.

The deal with Eden’s words of admonishment…nay…condemnation toward her sisters, well, those words are my self-talk phrases…the very voice of self-condemnation. It makes me sad that the voice in my head and heart is so harsh…and it encourages me to be more gentle with myself. Cause like it or not, when I get squeezed, that is the voice that spills out of my mouth…out into the world…all over my spouse and my children. I want my words to bring life and not death.

And so, I endeavor to soften my responses to my own short-comings. Let’s see how this goes! Social experiment #921…in play. This should be good.

 

How Did You Get Me?

Denver’s questions come in waves. From the beginning, we have been open with her about her adoption. She sees her birth mom regularly, and just this year, she fell head over heels in love with Randee. She knows that she grew in Randee’s tummy. The thing is though…that the knowing comes in waves…followed by the questions.

So tonight at dinner, as I was passing her the raspberries, she asked, “How did you get me?” Honestly, in our home of little people, where games of chase and the like are BIG, “get me” could me any  number of things. And I was hoping she wasn’t asking what I thought she was asking…but she was.

“What do you mean, Denver?”

“I mean how did you get me?”

Eden, always ready to lend a helping hand, said, “Randee left you here,” which is totally not the way it went down. Seems someone watches way too much TV.

My heart fluttered and I just opened my mouth…praying, Jesus, make this good. Please.

“Randee loved you so much, but she was having a hard time being a mama. And she needed help. So some people called me and your daddy and asked if we’d take care of a sweet little girl. And we said YES. And these people brought you to us. Right to our front door.”

She was unfazed. “And Eden? How did you get Eden?”

“She grew in my tummy. And I went to the hospital to get her out, and brought her home. Right to our front door.”

Again, “How about Sweet Pea? How did you get her?”

“Well, you remember this part. Her mama needed help, so someone called me and your daddy to see if we would take care of a little baby girl. And we said yes. And you were here when she came, right to our front door.”

I guess she kind of petered out after that, because she did not ask about Chick Pea. Curiosity satisfied. Whew! That wasn’t too bad. We can totally do this. Right????

My Crazy Recognizes Her Crazy

Eden is, no doubt, her own person. But we share some similarities…our emotions run high. I’ve recently discovered that Eden, much like her mama, will lose her ever-loving mind if she feels rushed. I don’t recall exactly how I made this discovery. Likely, my crazy recognized her crazy…long-lost buddies. Anyhoo, one day I simply said, “Eden, there’s no rush.” BOOM…magic balm. It is amazing to watch. Here is today’s episode of “How to Tame a Frantic Heart:”

We were at the library. Eden was happy. We were all happy. Books. Yea!!! Cool air conditioning in this awful heat. Yea! It was about time to go, so I gave the ol’ “Five more minutes, girls.”

My precious bundle of Edenness lost it. Complete meltdown. Screaming. I mean…SCREAMING. She all but fell on the floor as she shrieked, “I DID NOT GET A DVD YET!!!” Scream, scream, scream. (Note, Eden is a perfectly delightful girl. We’re mostly done with stuff like this. But….) (Okay, second note, I have these very same reactions…but they typically take place in my head. Still…my crazy recognizes her crazy…best buds.)

And I pulled out my secret weapon. I came close, touched her, and quietly whispered, “There’s no rush, baby. No rush.” AND all the crazy melted away…and there was my girl, once again. Whew. She got her DVD and tra la la…happy.