Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Court Again

There was court today for D and E. I went. It was a circus. Next court is not until April. And that will make a year of them being in care. My heart hurts for them. I want them to have a place to call home forever. The attorney that C had is representing one of the dads in this case and he was pleasant and said hi and asked what I was doing here. I had to explain that I just love these girls and am invested in their future. He smiled a knowing smile and nodded, but said nothing. He knows. I am in love with them. But that's dangerous in this line of service. 

I don't know why I am dragging myself through all of this. Why I can't just let these two girls go. I don't know if it's because they were the last ones in my home. Or if because I have no other extras right now. Or if because my heart really is strung out on a string for them. Probably a combination of all of that. And that E still calls me Mom when she sees me. I know her version of the word mom and my version of the word mom are very, very different. But I still feel like I want to be her mom in the way that I understand it. When I see her, I see the trusting girl she was when she came to me that first night. And I remember her fierce loyalty, as if she were a shadow. 

I wrote a letter to the school today about putting her and Alaska in the same class. What they don't know is that even if those two are not in the same class - I will still volunteer for both of them. I realized that as I wrote the letter.

To whom it may concern:

I have a daughter, Alaska Barnes, entering McBride as a kindergartner. I will be volunteering in her class. My husband and I are foster parents. We had E in our home for a couple months (May-July) while a placement was found that could take her, her sister, and their younger brother. I am requesting that E and Alaska be put in the same class. I will be volunteering in Alaska’s class and would like to do double-duty of being able to volunteer in E’s class, as well. I am invested in E and her future even though she is no longer in my predominant care.  

E will benefit greatly from having an adult actively involved and interested in her school life and this will improve her success. Her current foster mom is a working mom and does not have the flexibility to volunteer in the school. I would like to step in to fill that void and meet the need of E having an adult who is actively involved at school.

It would also be important to note that E has had many adults in and out of her life – not all of them the kind that you would want as a role-model. I believe that keeping the connection I have with E is important to her future and a simple way to strengthen that connection is to be involved in her classroom.

I have worked with E’s current foster parent to preserve the connection I have with E over the summer because I know how important a stable, present, adult figure is in her life.

Thank you for considering;
Jessica Barnes

And the eggs in the basket cracked

We didn't get it. The note accompanying the message was comforting.

Hi Jessica and Steve,

I wanted to thank you for submitting your application for the Nest program. You two are clearly exceptional foster parents and Columbia County DHS is lucky to have you.

Your application was very strong, as was your letter of recommendation. I know I had shared concerns with Jessica over the number of children you already have, in addition to the 3 foster children that will be placed in the main home. I looked further into that issue and unfortunately there is no way around the licensing restrictions. Basically, the total number of children (foster and bio combined) in a 2 parent foster home for this program can be no more than 5. Because the main home will serve up to 3 children at a time, that disqualifies your family at this time.

I truly appreciate the time you put into applying for this program and I know you will continue to make a difference in the lives of foster children in your community. 

I wish you two all the best!

But it was heart-stabbing in a drag you under the water and leave you there for a minute way. I was deflated and I very literally let the kids watch movies All Day. I didn't even have the energy to handle the aftermath later if I sent them loose on the house, so I didn't. Which is exactly why we don't watch a whole lot of t.v. Besides it being bad for the brain and all that jazz that they have done studies on - when I need it, I need it as a babysitter and it never fails because it is such a treat. So there it was. It babysat my kids while I took a nap, moped around the house and basically took twice as long to do everything that I can usually do. It was a no good day around here.

I don't know what our next step is. I am at an utter road block. And sure - I have three great kids of my own. But please don't point that out, as that is part of the frustration and definitely not going to make me feel better. They are great kids. There's not a whole lot of stretching on my part to be done to learn more about behavior or anything else. Frustrating.

And I know - tell me again how much more I could be doing for my kids that are already great. But I know that's when the mom guilt starts to creep in. Alaska was not even born yet when I resolved myself to never have mom guilt that comes quietly into the home in the form of magazines of 'Do this for your kids to make them X, Y and Z.' or watching other people's Facebook posts of their kid being potty trained at 18 months or reading at two. I just knew I wasn't going to go there because it is too much of a steep spiral. I am too much of a pusher to control myself to not push my kids - so I just stay away from all that. And also - I am pretty sure I would take it extremely personally if I did everything in my control and beyond my control to make my kids into something and then it didn't turn out. So I believe in letting them be who they will be and with gentle guidance, teaching by example.

The other thing. I feel so utterly complete and whole, helping and being there for the kids who have no one else. There is nothing that out-does that feeling and it's not something I can control. It just happens. They say service is never selfless. The person 'serving' is still getting something. They are filling a void somewhere in their being and I can totally tell you, that is a true fact for me in this situation.

Some people love animals, other people love reading. These loves of theirs create hobbies and articles of interest. I love being needed. I just do. Call it a hobby. There's nothing that fills me up the same. And there's nothing that breaks my heart more than a child that needs a home and a parent willing to figure them out and help them succeed despite all odds stacked against them. It's just in my blood. My own children. Yes, they need me. But not to the same extent and they are definitely fine without my constant supervision or mindfulness. I have a daughter who is independent and a boy who is loving. And a baby that is pretty chill, as far as babies go. I've got it simple.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Foster Care Opportunity.

Just because this is something that I am bursting at the seams with. I don't know if it will happen. I don't know if it will not happen. But I know that part of looking forward to something is the part of uncertainty. So in this cradle of uncertainty I am going to share that Steve and I applied for a professional foster care thing-a-ma-jig. It comes with a 6 bedroom house and a min-van in Portland. With $3000 incentive per month to keep do this and be willing to put our own careers on hold or drop down to part-time and then $60 per kid per night they are with us.

Right now Oregon is in a foster placement crises. Not enough homes. Which - when is there ever enough. But besides the point. It's been written about in the papers a couple times of kids being put in hotel rooms for a few nights or having to stay the night at the offices because there is no opening for them anywhere. Which just looks bad for the state. So this 6 bedroom house is supposed to act as the alternative to that. It would be used for only emergency placements and they would want to keep it open for more emergencies so the turn-over would be high. It sounds pretty ideal, actually. You get a kid for a few days - 2 weeks. They are usually in honey-moon mode at that point and if not - I have the skills to cope anyways.

There was a big application packet with some essay questions and I wrote my heart out. Maybe a little too much - but I need to be sure that we get an interview. We have the obstacle of having one too many kids of our own that we have to jump over. They want the cap to be 2, so that each kid gets the attention they need and all that. Which is fine. But they don't understand that I am super-mom and can do it all. It wouldn't be easy - but it is do-able and the program is funded right now for 2 years. I would think it would be hard to find anyone who was willing to do this kind of work for more than 2 years, anyways, so that's what I have my eye on. Alaska would be 7 when we come out of it, Talmage would be 5 and the baby would just over 2. It's not really that long.

We could really use this opportunity. $3000 a month would be amazing. It's more than I get when subbing so I could easily make this my full-time job. It would give us the house I so want and dream of. And it would allow for us to save a hefty amount of cash for a down payment on a house of our own when we are done with the two years. It's basically a dream come true and the best thing that I can think of. It's probably tied right up there with Steven promoting.

So I have all my eggs in this basket and will be crushed if it doesn't happen. But I already feel crushed where I am - so there is no matter. Right now, in our 2 bedroom apartment we honestly can't do any more foster care until we get a bigger place because with Alaska and Talmage sharing a room, that puts a girl and a boy in that room and you can't add in a stranger girl or boy into that room. So our only option to make fostering work is to have a 'boys' room - but that puts in the obstacle of where does Alaska go? Because she's too big for a portable-crib and I would feel bad putting her back into a crib mattress after her being on a twin. There is no room for a twin mattress in the master bedroom like there is room for a portable crib or a regular crib mattress. So we're stuck. At a total stand-still. Which just makes me angry. Because foster care has been the thing that keeps my head above water. Where I can feel like I am doing some extra good while I am stuck in this position of Steven not promoting and waiting to get on with life. And I say 'get on with' because I honestly don't want to be in a 2 bedroom apartment when Alaska is in middle school. You have to cut your losses somewhere and I am not interested in going to work full time. May as well have my own kids in foster care if it comes to that. Teaching life takes way too much personal time outside of the 8-4. And you know what else? I am honestly so tired of playing tetras to get everything to fit. Even getting a paintbrush out or some pom-poms for an art project is a huge deal of shuffling things around. It's draining. To fit this baby in we had to move a lot of stuff out to my parent's house. And I haven't been able to decorate for any holidays because it just makes our small space feel that much smaller. It's unbearable, basically. Nearly 5 years of this and I am just about done.

Anyways - here is what my essays look like. They ended up being two printed pages. Tell me I am not the best qualified with the most heart for this job. Dare you. And my family. Thank goodness I have great kids.

Why do you want to be a foster parent for The Nest program?

Foster care has been in my heart ever since reading the book, Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff, as a college student. I had overwhelming feelings of wanting to give a safe and welcoming place to a child who didn’t fit in anywhere else and wanting to make a lasting difference in a life otherwise torn apart. I knew that I had the love and acceptance to make that happen. I see this program, The Nest, as a way to fulfill that dream to its utmost potential. To give a secure and pleasant landing to those who come from hard places and to leave an impression of welcoming and unconditional love.

My husband and I began our foster care adventure a year and a half ago, becoming emergency certified while we were taking foundation classes through DHS in Columbia County. I quickly learned that in order to be the most effective foster parent possible I would need to put aside my own feelings of being needed and making a difference and align my focus on gaining the knowledge needed to help this particular population with trauma informed care. My perspective changed as I realized not only does a person need to have a willing heart on an emotional level, but also a willing heart on the cognitive level to learn how to make the most impact for these children who have been effected by trauma. I began to pursue knowledge and making myself the most capable and rounded person possible. My interest has been piqued and I enjoy the classes I have taken on emotional intelligence, trauma informed care and the weekly counseling I did for a year with our first placement. I see the program of The Nest as a way to become a more knowledgeable person, which will in turn make me more substantial and capable as a parent and member of society.

Describe previous paid, volunteer, or family experiences or training in working with children ages 0-9.

I have had the opportunity to work in multiple elementary schools as a substitute teacher, fill-in at my daughter’s pre-school and volunteer at headstart. These institutions have allowed me the chance to interact with children ages 4-9 and experience others’ routines and environments they have created for this specific elementary group.

Growing up, I was the oldest of four children. My younger brothers were born enough years after me that I was able to be a big help to my mom and was given a great deal of responsibility around the house and for the boys. I was a preferred babysitter for many families and babysat infants and toddlers as a highschooler.

My love for learning has motivated me to participate in a love and logic class, parent child interactive therapy, a training on how to teach emotional awareness and I regularly attend our foster parent support meetings where we discuss the needs of the children in our care and how to address them; most of them being in the 0-9 age range. Right now I am also signed up for a class titled Promoting Prosocial Behaviors in Preschoolers that will be held on August 19th. My interest in working with trauma inflicted children has also lead me to read, Love Me, Feed Me by Katja Rowell, Wounded Children Healing Homes by Jayne E. Schooler and a variety of memoirs written by adoptees. These books have allowed me insights that I otherwise would not have gained.

My personal experiences with my own children, and also the foster children we have had in our care, has allowed me my own opportunity to create routines, expectations and a pleasant environment. I am a competent mother who is able to enjoy my children because of the training I have put into them. I am looking for the next step to make myself an exceptional and more qualified parent. I see the program of The Nest as something that I can contribute to with my specific skill set and disposition and develop as a person at the same time.

Please describe the skills or attributes you have that you feel would be helpful for you to be a foster care provider, particularly for children who may be in crisis, struggling with emotional regulation, or are acting out behaviorally.

I have the skills to make a house into a home and realize that this will be a big factor in making the children that come into our lives through this program the most comfortable. I am proficient in the parent child interactive therapy process of building trust, giving directions and implementing effective timeouts.  I understand acutely that this therapy depends on one-on-one attention of five minutes per day. I have a poignant understanding of the necessity of one-on-one attention and am able to share my attention equally among the children in my home due to my strong inner compass directed by fairness. I know that behaviors are driven by emotions and if an adult can help a child express themselves the behaviors lessen. I also know that one-on-one attention and verbally acknowledging a child’s actions can lessen undesired behavior or increase desired behavior. These skills are what will make The Nest manageable, despite the children who come in with personal crisis, struggling with emotional regulation, or acting out behaviorally.

It is apparent that I have been given a strong sense of empathy, a great amount of patience and am capable of a generous outpouring of love – despite behavior or differences. I give great attention to detail and am an organized person who keeps a calendar of events. My calm demeanor makes it possible to look at situations with a broader perspective and pick my battles wisely, as it were.

This program is going to rely heavily on effective communication between myself, support staff and other professionals. I am pleasant to work with and am an effective communicator – most especially through written words. I know that I will excel at taking notes and passing along information about the children who enter and exit The Nest so as to help make the best possible outcome for them in the existing future.

I am flexible and understanding of last-minute changes, most especially in this industry where there are so many variables within hour-by-hour. I am committed to making the most of this program and am excited to be a part of something cutting-edge in the foster community.

Quick update

Today is D's birthday! Her new mom sent me a photo of her with all her morning presents. She is going to have the best day ever! But maybe not. Because her mom won't be there. She's had some anxiety about that, which is totally understandable. A mom is pretty connected to a person's birthday, considering they had to give birth in the first place and all that.

I am so excited to see her. We are going to her party later this afternoon and I haven't seen her or E since forever, it feels. Probably a month, I guess. Which is so sad to see the weeks stack up like that. But it's hard to plan a play date when life around here is just so busy and packed. Which would be fine if they were both living with us still - they would just do all the things with us. But the way it is - it's too complicated to schedule something.

Megan, Steven's sister, got home from her mission last Thursday. Nic and Heather came out and met us at the airport and then spent the week up at the Barnes' house. It was fun to have everyone together  - Alaska loves her cousins and was telling Talmage that Porter was her cousin and Millie was his cousin, as those are the ages that they are closest to. But really, they just all played together really nicely.

We did lots of playing. Some professional photos. A trip to the beach. A mini hike. I spent a day doing appointments with Axton. A 60th anniversary for Great Grandma and Grandpa Barnes. And the kids got a day in with their Nana during the week and I stayed at home and got to know Axton a little more. I even coaxed a couple of smiles out of him.

In Axton news. We are donesies with nursing. It lasted an excruciating two weeks and then I called it quits. Which I think is just fine. Talk about learning from adversity. It took a lot of tears and a lot of pride swallowing to just say, "Done." I like to say 'I did everything I could' and blah blah. Which I did. I just had to come to realization that with two other kids that need my love and attention and all that, my 'all' isn't what is used to be. I got his tongue clipped, sure. I made an appointment for him to see a chiropractor who was trained in cranial stuff. Did the lactation appointments faithfully. After two weeks of that I had to just realize it wasn't going to happen. Especially when the chiropractor suggested doing two appointments a week for him and going to a lactation group with a private lactation specialist rather than someone at the hospital. Those trips to Portland take about 3 hours - 4 hours if you count the time getting the kids to and from a sitter. So. I just don't have time for that multiple times a week. I can't do that indefinitely. Not to add on my own personal discomfort. I was ugly crying during nursing and then had tears streaming down my face during pumping. It hurt so excruciatingly bad!

So I guess what I learned about myself is that I am still willing to do all that I can, but I also know my own limits of what 'all I can' is.

The cutest things:

Talmage dropping kisses on Axton's head or his fingers or his toes - whatever he can reach easily and quickly as he runs by playing.

Alaska picking Axton up 'like momma' and moving him to the couch to hold.

This baby. He is the missing point on our triangle that makes these siblings come together.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Axton Birth Story

Pretty sure Axton's birth story is the most simple - the most 'here it is' birth story ever.

My water broke at 5 pm. And I remember freaking out when my water broke with Talmage. We got to the hospital in a hurry because we thought I would go into labor asap and I was freaked out by the idea of my water being broken and him suffocating in there. Should have looked into that second detail more - but whatevs. So we had rushed to the hospital. And then I had spent the next 12 hours wide awake and pacing the halls to make him come faster. Which didn't work. I wasn't doing that again.

Called the midwife up - let her know what was going on and she said she would have someone check on us in the morning.

I went to bed at 10. I meant to get to bed earlier, but I couldn't sleep because I was too excited/nervous. Steven went to bed even later than I did because he was so jittery. I had myself set up with a heat pack for my back because I had kinked something in the first trimester, dry-heaving into the toilet. It hurt something fierce and I was having back labor. The heat helped.

Woke up at 12:30 with a contraction that was hard enough to wake me up. Went back to sleep and was woken up once a hour until 4:00 - which is when they started getting closer together and harder. Did that until 5:00, by which they were 5 min. apart and I was having to breathe through them. Woke Steven up at 5:00, planning on him being just 5 minutes to get in the car. It took 20. We got to the hospital at 6:00 and Axton was born at 6:34. They didn't have a time to put in a saline drip or anything. Basically I stripped my clothes off in the bathroom, got a gown on and the midwife was there and I was ready to start pushing and out he came - 5 good contractions later.

I was actually a little disappointed. I had really wanted to do a water delivery and when we got there, everyone knew there wouldn't be time to set it up. The midwife joked as she was sewing me up a little, because I tear so easily, "I've never heard of anyone wishing their labor was a little longer. That just doesn't happen."

And that was that. The real story starts after we got put in our recovery room. A 9 lb 11 oz baby is a big one and Axton has to have his blood sugar checked every three hours for three times, and then if he passed that third one - he would be done. Well, he didn't pass it. So they had to stick him three more times every 2 hours to make sure he was maintaining and the nurse even put some glutose gel in his cheeks to help him out. And the nightmare of nursing began. Right there.

A big baby takes a lot of food and I just couldn't get him satisfied. I was terrified that he would be like Talmage. Not have enough energy to even complain about not having enough food. So we started giving him supplements, even at the hospital. And I requested a pump so I could start in on that. He had tongue tie and my nipples had blisters before they got someone in to cut his frenulum on Monday. The nipple shield didn't help a whole lot.

We had a lactation specialist come in a lot on Sunday and Monday and had an appointment made up for Wednesday to check in on things. And then it just makes my boobs ache to think about the rest of it. So we'll just leave it at that. But I HATE nursing. Know that.

2nd week of Summer

We celebrated Father's day with my parents and brothers the week after Father's Day - and it was beautiful. I wish it could be a family tradition every single Sunday.

It was stinkin' hot so things were planned for a campfire down at the creek. Complete with the hotdogs, pasta salad and s'mores. We got there late because I had been packing all morning for our week of staying out there and then was packing everything into the tahoe right after church, which gets out at 4. Thank goodness for all my little helpers or it would have taken forever. Each girl, and Talmage, took a bag and came back for more. I wasn't out to the car until the very last load and was amazed at how much I had given them to take out. It just added and added.  Steven had gotten caught up talking to someone after church and we were loaded by the time he got home. He had to change and do some other little things so we left, the carful of us, since we had to take two cars up anyways.

Everyone was there and I wish I would have thought to bring a camera for photos. The girls were charming as ever, besides splashing a little much close to everyone that was sitting. It was a day to remember. Steven and my mom and dad took the kids walking up the creek after dinner and that left me and the boys to sit and talk by the water. It's so nice to spend time with just siblings. Something that doesn't always happen, or happen often, but I love it when it does.

We didn't even get up to the house until 8:00 that night, and after strawberry shortcake and baths to get all the smoke and creek water/mud off, it was late. My mom had beds ready for everyone and it didn't take a whole lot to get everyone settled in for the night.

8:00 p.m.  became our standard for coming inside and getting dinner and then baths and stories for the week. Soaking the summer days in as much as possible. Summer only comes once a year and with all the rain we had in June, it feels good and will be an even shorter dry season that needs to be taken advantage of.

Monday morning came earlier than a lot of us were planning. I had swim lessons planned for 10:00, over at 11, eating lunch at the high school for their free lunch program, and then home for naps. We had to leave the house at 9:15 to get there to sign up and it takes half a hour drive anyways. Everyone was up, but it was a hustle to get breakfast in and then wake E up and throw a granola bar in the swim bag for her to eat on the way there. She's not much for eating breakfast in the morning - and I can always count on her to be the last one up.

Our routine was beautiful and it felt so good to nail that Monday down as done and fulfilled. Naps and rests were taken - lots of books were read and then a full day of playing outside. Snack at 3:30 when everyone was up and dinner at 8. It set the tone for the rest of the week and was just what a vacation should be.

Tuesday was a repeat - but a little crazier. I had invited the girls' brother out for a couple days. He's three. 4 days older than Talmage. Everything went smoothly until my 3:00 counseling appointment to get the girls set up. They call it an intake appointment - where I give the counselor the lowdown on them and set some goals and stuff. But when I got there, apparently they had tried to call and tell me that actually, it was canceled because the lady went home sick earlier in the day. I was fine - things happen, but as the next week unrolled I grew more and more upset because 1) I was out of cell range at my parent's house and it's hard to get ahold of people or for them to get ahold of me. And 2) I sent an e-mail and never heard back and 3) I made an appointment with the receptionist, and then called back a day later to confirm the time and apparently the counselor had cancelled it!!! Without letting me know or anything. I was livid at that point and asked to make another one and called that morning, even, to make sure it was still booked. But by this time things were a little messier because the girls' new foster mom wanted to be involved, too, which she should be. But it means more people to try to schedule to meet in one hour of the day. Near impossible and thank goodness the receptionist and I are friends or else I would have been driving her crazy with all my back and forth about yes this day will work, no, never mind, it won't work.

It was Talmage's birthday on Tuesday and we had plans to celebrate on Sunday. Except Steven's parents were going to be out of town that weekend for a wedding so they invited us out for dinner and cake that evening. I 'went' to my dumb 'cancelled' counseling meeting - had an extra hour to use so I swung by the house since I didn't have any kids and did some cleaning. The sweeping and mopping that are near impossible to do with little feet everywhere. Went and picked up the girl's brother - we'll call him Z - and then up to Tamera's house for dinner. Steven already had all the girls and Talmage up there and I had forgotten to tell them that I was bringing Z. It was a happy family reunion.

Tuesday night was a little crazy, getting everyone to bed. I ended up putting E in my parent's bed and then sitting between D and Z while they fell asleep before moving E back into bed with them. It's a double - so there was plenty of room for all of them.

And the days repeated themselves. Same routine. Steven did a strawberry run on Wednesday - I stayed home with the kids and Z just about ran everyone ragged. He had a lot more energy than I had anticipated and he was fast. Super fast. Like be on one side the house one minute and opposite side of the house the next minute, without me seeing the transit. It wasn't until later, talking to his foster mom, that we put it together that no, he isn't usually like that. But being with his sisters again triggered his behavior. When the girls moved in with him the next week, all of his eating training fell apart and he was grabbing food from everywhere again and gorging on stuff. These poor kids. It's so important to keep them all together - because when everything is ripped apart, at least you have your siblings. But they all trigger each other something horrible. They do so much better when separated.

Thursday I did a strawberry run - which I felt so bad about. I hadn't planned on there being berries left, but there was, and so I left my brave mom home with all the kids and drove around, delivering berries. I took Z home right after getting back from delivery.

Friday - we had planned on leaving that night. Turns out - it's hard to get up the motivation to leave your most awesome vacation. We had taken to calling the place, 'Nana's Resort' because it is absolutely the most perfect for kids. Sand box, swings, blueberries to pick, a Rapunzel tower and patio for riding bikes and drawing with chalk.

I packed everything up. Washed all the clothes - put them in the correct bags - and we were ready to go out the door. Except that it was already 9:30 and so we put a movie on for the kids and let them have a party in the living room - all sleeping together in a row. It was bliss to see them all out in front of me like that. My angels.

Saturday Morning I was dropping the girls off at 10 to start their new life with their new foster mom. We left my parent's house as if leaving a fairy tale and got to our house just in time for Steven's parents to pick up Talmage and Alaska so I could have an hour at home with just the girls - packing up their loose ends and stuff. I had known it was going to be a little crazy, getting them off with all their stuff after having spent a week away from home - but actually, it was pretty simple because I had kept everything super organized, knowing that they were only going to be with us a short while. The thing that took the most time was organizing their paperwork and highlighting a few things on reports and immunizations and putting things together like Kindergarten registration and camp registration and things like that. Where all the pieces needed to be together.

I wasn't chokey at all. I knew they were going to a good place and they were going to be reunified with their brother - all happy things. And they were excited. One thing about these kids in the system - their sense of relationships is so completely skewed it's almost unbearable. But I also knew that I would be able to keep close tabs on them and we already had plans to pick them up for Talmage's birthday party that Sunday. So things were going to be alright.

Their bedroom was already decorated for them in girl colors and butterflies on the walls and shelves filled with books and art supplies and a bed full of stuffed animals. It was all so comfy it made me wish I was the one moving in! D immedietely pulled herself to the top bunk and started rearranging her things. E was more cautious and it took me by surprise that I appreciated her being so loyal to me. Staying close until she was comfortable.

It wasn't until Sunday evening, when I dropped them off after Talmage's birthday party - that I felt my throat get tight as E held my hand and wanted to come home with me. I love that girl.

Naturally - I am writing this a few weeks after all this happened. And the happy ending is that we had the girls over once a week until Axton came into our lives and that last time they were over for just a few hours totally and completely wore me out and I knew - I knew that they were in the right place for the part of my life that I am in right now. I can't help it. But I love them and every time I see them I miss the energy and brightness they brought to our home.

Friday, June 23, 2017

First Week of Summer

Time just keeps running. And I prefer it that way. Gives me less time to hurt about these two girls leaving us. They have been at the mom's house that is going to have them come July 1st the past two Sundays and I just keep on getting all teared up and having a chokey throat. Two kids. It's such a small number. It's relaxing. And four. Four is fulfilling.

Like I said, it's easier to keep them out of the house than in the house so we've been doing some pretty outrageous things. Like the zoo and a hike around lost lake and the children's museum and lots of days after school at the park when it's been nice enough.

And now, school is out. Summer. And it's like our little hearts have just been waiting and waiting and now we're going super-speed full ahead! No filtering.

We have a week planned at my mom's house. Our first whole week of summer will be spent out there, doing swimming lessons at the pool and eating the free lunches they have at the school and then who knows from there. The canvas is open.

This week berry season started. I did a delivery on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and was absolutely worn out by Thursday evening. 75 flats, 45 flats and then 80 flats. Which. Of that 80. I had 7 that were homeless for awhile there and finally started giving them out like candy. There was no way I wanted that many berries to process at the end the night. I even basically payed a lady $2 to take one! She had come to get one and needed change and I just let her take the second flat instead of giving her change, even though she was $2 short. I lost money on that one. But the rest were fine - striking a little over even.