Hellloooooo.

I went through this time where life was so busy and so crazy that I didn’t even have one second to think about blogging.  I forgot I even had a blog.  But then I remembered that I used to love to blog, and I remembered this little space and I missed it.  Now life is so busy and so crazy, but I do have time to think about my blog.  Not think about it as in devote time and make it awesome — but think about it as in maybe I could actually write a little again.

So it’s Saturday night, and I’m laying on the couch watching the Olympics while Tommy finishes getting the big kids to bed.  I put the baby to bed, and I have the easy job for sure.  I haven’t felt well today and laid around a lot.  I was relieved to find out I had a fever because otherwise I would have just been plain lazy.  So now I’m giving myself permission to lay around and “rest” instead of the rest of the day when I was all like “lazy, lazy, lazy”.

I have so much to share and catch everyone up on.  So let’s see, where do I start?  Well I used to blog and then 2 years ago we became a foster family, and I stopped blogging because I lost any spare time I had.  In that time we have had 11 children in our home — some just for a night or 2 and some longer.  We have adopted our 2 precious daughters!!!  Jack has grown TONS.  Tommy has changed jobs, and we have moved to a new home.  The bulk of those things happened in just the last few months.  There are obviously many details and much I want to share, and I hope to break it down as I’m able.  I can’t wait to share more about the girls and their adoption stories.  They are the best additions to our family, and we couldn’t have 2 girls who fit perfectly with us more.

 

As for what is going on right now —  school starts in 11 days, and we’re all very excited.  VERY.  The kids are ready to go back, and I’m very ready for them to.  This summer started with some structure, but it just flew out the window pretty quickly with the move.  I learned that moving with 3 kids means just holding on and hoping everyone gets to the new house in one piece.  We still have lots of unpacking and settling in to do, but my expectations to unpack were low going in to this — just trying to be realistic.  I think I’ll accomplish more once school starts back.

We spend a lot of our week in therapies.  Sometimes when I mention that we do therapy, people think we sit on a couch and talk for hours a week.  I kind of wish – haha!  Our goal is to help our girls catch up and develop as best as they can in order to be the best they can possibly be.  Right now we are working on that by doing a whole lot of therapy.  We do occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy, play therapy, behavioral therapy, and have a developmental therapist.  It’s a lot.  And it gets overwhelming often.  We typically have 16 different therapy sessions a week.  It’s pretty crazy.  But I remind myself that it’s worth it and this season of intense therapy won’t last for too long.  Before I know it all of my babies will be in school, and we’ll be so thankful they had everything they could early in life to help them.

When we aren’t in therapy, we try to unpack.  Before we moved when we weren’t in therapy we were working on selling our house.  It’s been a crazy year.  But a good year.  We’re looking forward to some stability ahead and less chaos.  Although, I’m pretty sure I’ve been saying that for the last 4 or maybe 5 years, so….    Here are some recent pictures of our precious kiddos!  I hope you are all well!  xoxo!

JackTM5
Jack at 5 years old.  So handsome!  This summer he got a buzz cut for the first time!

 

Izzy 3
Izzy after her 3 year old check up last week.  She turns 3.5 next week, so we’re a little behind on that.  She was so proud of her finger prick that she had to show it off.

 

Cooper
Cooper June and her sweet self.  This was a big moment because she used to be terrified of swinging.  She doesn’t like to swing for very long, but she’s made huge progress!

A Reminder

I had a little Christmas reminder this morning.  I woke up in the middle of the night to feed the baby.  During the day, I use pre-made bottles that I put in the bottle warmer, but at night, she’s hungry and we don’t have 5 minutes to wait.  So I just make a bottle fresh at that time.  When I turned on the sink no water came out.  My first thought was “oh no, they think we didn’t pay our bill!” But we did 🙂  My next thought was something was wrong with our house, and we were going to be out of water for awhile and have to pay big bucks to have someone come fix it.  I waited until a reasonable time in the morning to text my neighbor to ask if they had water.  They didn’t either!  Whew.  Turns out there was a water main break and a lot of people were out of water.  And thankfully it wasn’t out for too long either.  It came back on later in the morning.  I was texting my neighbor telling her how I had trouble making a bottle and had to use cold water and then the bottle warmer.  And that I should have run my dishwasher last night.  And I wanted to take a shower first thing this morning but now couldn’t.  And I was going to start my washing machine first thing this am, so now my plans to be productive were ruined.  She was super gracious and super kind and replied.  And then she said she was thinking about how blessed we are and all of those who don’t have running water.  Wow.  It hit me so hard.  I was sitting here thinking about how I wasn’t going to be able to sanitize my baby’s 12 (expensive brand) bottles in my sanitizing cycle in my sweet dishwasher.  And that my hair might just have to go another day without washing.  And our piles of laundry (because we have that many clothes) would go unwashed for awhile.  And I’m so thankful that she reminded me of what’s important.  I forget.  And I forget really quickly, too.  What makes it even worse is that my daughter used to not have water.  My own daughter lived the first part of her life without running water.  Every day.  She never knew what water was until she came to us.  And it scared her pretty badly for awhile. 

I have debated so much how much to share of our sweet Firecracker’s story.  On the one hand, her story is one of redemption and God’s love.  If you can’t see God’s hand and love and redemption all over her story, then you aren’t going to be able to see it anywhere.  He has cared for her and loved her when no one else has.  Part of me feels that it’s this amazing testimony that needs to be shared.  Because it’s amazing.  And so many people don’t even know this happens in our own city.  I didn’t.  But then part of me wants to fiercely protect our girl.  I don’t want people to know that she was disadvantaged.  I don’t want anyone to look down on her because she has had a hard life.  I don’t want people to judge her or see her as dirty because of her story and her first family.  I struggle with this.  I never want to write words that she will grow up to read and be embarrassed of.  I never want to write words that anyone could use to harm her.  But I want her story to be told.  And to be known.  And I never want her for one second of one day to doubt how much God loves her and how much we love her.  I never want her to think that because of her hard life, she is loved any less.  I want to use her life to teach her and others how beautiful God is.  And how he can take ashes and turn them into beauty.  That’s what He has done and continues to do for our Firecracker. 

So today I choose to share this precious part of her story with you.  Not because it’s dramatic and I want to up the drama on how bad she’s had it.  Trust me — there is nothing I could add to her story to add drama.  It’s all there.  And there are a lot of parts that I will never ever write here.  There are a lot of parts that are so sacred and for her to know when she’s ready.  But for right now, I share with you that to say that I am thankful God gives me reminders.  How quickly I forget of what life is like for so many, including what life was like for my own daughter. 

Today I pray you are safe and learning lessons of your own that make your heart grateful. 

i’m baaaaaaaacccccckkkkkkk.

In my most excited voice, I say “I’m bbbbaaaaaaaaaccckkkk.”

After 8ish months away from blogging, I’m ready to come back to it.  I never intended to stop blogging.  If I had planned to, I would have posted a farewell.  And I’ve wanted to write and start back for quite awhile.  But the reason for this big time gap is life.  Man, we’ve been busy.  Lots and lots of life happening around here.  And it’s wonderful.  It’s so nice to have a full house — one that’s full of life — after having had an empty house, a sad house.  I’m assuming that most of you know what I’m talking about, although that assumption may not be correct. 

This time last year Tommy and I started the process of becoming a foster family.  We started attended training classes in July, through August.  Then we began our home study.  After several weeks of visits and interviews, we finally received our home study write up.  Then we were approved as a foster family in November.  It’s been non-stop since then.  We started getting calls for placements the very next day after finding out we were approved.  About 2 weeks later we took in our first placement — a teenage girl.  She was only here for a short while until they found another home better suited for her needs.  Then right after she left we got our little girl (still with us!).  A month after that we got a newborn.  We brought him home from the NICU when he was still weighing 4 pounds!!  He was tiny and precious.  He stayed with us for 4 months and then he went to family.  We have another baby in our home now who is so sweet!  We are really thrilled to have 2 girls here with Jack! 

Things are going well.  Right now we are tired.  Tommy has been working a lot, and I’ve not been sleeping a lot.  But everyone is doing great.  Considering all that baby girl has been through, she is doing remarkably well!  I could write a hundred blog posts on foster care.  And I just might one day.  I’m limited right now by confidentiality agreements, but additionally, I want to protect the hearts, the stories, and the people behind them.  My kids have been through a lot.  All of my kids have.  Jack has lost a brother and adjusted to being a big brother to kids who have high needs.  He’s also done amazing at saying hello and goodbye to new brothers and sisters.  He’s the best.  It goes without saying that our 2 foster daughters have been through a lot in their lifetimes.  I’m not equipped to help our children, but I pray every day God will help me.  The responsibility of parenting this tribe is not lost on me. 

That’s a quick little catch up on our life.  I have missed you all.  I’ve missed this community, and communicating with friends here.  I’m looking forward to being back and writing again — as often as I can. 

Happy Monday and I hope your week gets off to a good start! 

day 13 // four generations.

Tommy’s Grandma is in town visiting, so today Jack got to meet his Great-Grandma for the first time.  It’s so sweet to be able to know your great-grandparents, and Jack has had the privilege of knowing 2 great-grandmothers.  I love this picture of 4 generations!  Tommy, Jack, Grandma, and Tommy’s Uncle Will.

Grandma Schultz

 

 

Grandma Schultz

And the 3 of us with Grandma.

day 2 // beautiful in pictures.

I have a hard time seeing beauty in life a lot of the time.  I think there are people who are naturally good at seeing the beauty in life.  They see beauty in every day things like an acorn or a pattern in saw dust.  I am not one of those people.  I am the person who not only misses the beauty in every day things but also misses obviously beautiful things right in front of me.  I used to think I just wasn’t built to see beauty and that it wasn’t one of my gifts, but I’m learning to think differently about it.  I’m learning to see beauty.  I’m learning to explore beautiful.  I’m learning that you don’t just have to be a natural beauty see-er but that you can train to see beautiful things all around.  So throughout this month that’s what I want to do.  Just like how I’ve practiced being thankful  and I’ve lived hope, this month is going to be my diving board into all things beautiful.

The thought of just suddenly seeing beautiful is overwhelming to me.  And since I don’t know where to start, I am going to take baby steps today.  Here are some things I find beautiful through recent pictures.

 

beautiful butterfly

Jack sees beautiful all around him.  He really loves butterflies and when one landed on his hand this summer at the splash pad, his day was made.  He teaches me to see beautiful and to slow down to have a chance to hold it.

 

 

 

beautiful celebrations

On this day Tommy came home from work and said we were having a picnic at Gabriel’s grave for dinner.  I love his heart for our family and it’s a beautiful thing.  I also think it’s beautiful that we are able to celebrate G’s life and continue to teach Jack how we remember and love.

 

 

beautiful family

This family.  So fun.  Always there for us.  It’s beautiful.

 

 

beautiful generations

We are blessed to get to spend time with Grandfather.  It’s fun to see Jack and his great-grandfather enjoying some Icedream together.  I am thankful for the time they get to spend together.

 

 

beautiful rainbow

A double rainbow on our street.

 

 

beautiful

These people.  They make my life beautiful.

 

 

So I want to know what’s beautiful around you and how do you see beauty??

beautiful.adventuresofjackandme

 

This post is day 2 in Write 31 Days in October.  You can find all posts here.

so long september.

How is it possible that the last day of September is wrapping up?  The sun has gone down, and the last little bit of light is hanging on to the day.  September is almost over and with it comes the arrival of October.  I do not know how September, or really this whole year, has gone by so fast.  Also, it shocked me when I got on here and saw that it had been a couple of weeks since I posted.  Wow.  Time is flying by!

I wanted to share that I am going to be joining in with the Nester for her 31 days challenge again this year.  Tomorrow I will start my first post as an introduction + share my topic.  I’m excited!  This will be fun and certainly challenging for me to write every day of the month, especially since my blogging has been scarce since my summer break.

Here are a few pictures of what we’ve been up to lately //

lately.babyjack lately.gocards

lately.jackanddkdk lately.jackatTJs

Jack is such a good helper!  He helps me so much!  Grocery shopping, errands, stuff around the house.  He has been extra helpful lately, and I’m so thankful for him.  I sold a bunch of stuff in a big consignment sale around here this week, so going through all of the baby stuff was fun for Jack.  He liked pretending he was a baby.  He also was a super awesome amazing helper dropping stuff off which took us over 3 hours.  Misery.  I complained way more than Jack.  Plus he had a sweet ride.  Last week my parents went to Chicago and got to see the whole Cubs/Cards series.  Jack and I wore our Cards gear to support, and we are so happy the Cards won their division.  Whew, it was close.

So let’s catch up back here tomorrow for day 1!

it’s monday again + non-toy gifts.

This is going to get old, but wow, last week was crazy!  It just keeps happening.  Some how, the older Jack gets, the more we’re involved in, the busier we get.  And fall makes it that much worse!  Fall is my very favorite season — and yesterday felt like fall!  It was cool.  It was 59 degrees when we got dressed for church.  Jack wore a light sweater with elbow patches — ahhh!!  I wore boots and light sweater.  LOVELY.  I love fall!  All of that to say, we have been running around like crazy it feels like.  Last week was a blur, but we are good and had many good things happen.

Friday evening Jack and Tommy spent some time together — it was sweet!  Tommy has started taking Jack golfing.  Jack loves it!  It’s fun for them to spend time together, and I think Tommy has been waiting for this for awhile.  Saturday morning we woke up early to head downtown for a 5K.  It was the Sprint for the Prints 5K for Precious Prints.  A really great cause — they help provide comfort to families like ours who lose a child, so we were happy to support them.  It definitely is something that we would have loved to have for Gabriel.  Our friends the Parrishes, who we met last year after they lost their baby, did a video for Precious Prints [I shared on my facebook page a couple of weeks ago] and are a family who has a charm of their daughter’s thumbprint.  Jack rode in his stroller and then ran through the finish line with us.  He loved the 5K!  It’s right up his alley.  Afterwards, he checked out the food and had a bag of Cheetos, an orange, 2 donuts, and a water bottle.  Gotta refuel.

weekend 5k

Then we headed home to set up for Tommy’s sister and brother in law’s going away party that we hosted.  They move to Nebraska today, so we had a fun time Saturday afternoon celebrating them with all their people.  Then we went to mom and dad’s for burgers and came home, put Jack to bed and watched the Tennessee game.  It was a full day!  And so fun.  We will really miss Molly and Drew but are so happy for them and this big move in their lives.

weekend going away weekend molly and drew weekend party

So we had a great weekend, lots of fun celebrating and hanging out, and resting and playing on Sunday.  A great weekend!  Now on to a new week.  Today I’m over at the Knoxville Moms Blog sharing one of my very favorite list posts to date — 25 non-toy gifts for kids.  I’m ALL about this.  Head on over there and check it out!

non-toy gifts for kids

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Did it feel like fall where you are??

summer break and just going with it.

It is summer, and we are having a lot of fun.  We’ve been crossing things off our list and just going with the flow that summer naturally brings with it.  It’s been kind of wonderful.  For some reason I have always fought the easy-going spirit of summer.  Perhaps it’s in my personality.  I never found it very good to just sit and read instead of doing something that could accomplish things.  I never understood the fun in neglecting daily responsibilities to go explore something.  I’m sure some of you must find this so tightly wound and ridiculous.  It’s just how I am.  I prefer the structure of days and the schedule of things.  Spontaneously exploring a new area or just taking an afternoon off to read is so foreign to me.  But being a mom is changing me.  In so many ways — including this.

Summer 2014 rocking chairs

 

For the first time I am appreciating the slowness of summer.  The permission for a break.  The allowance of taking it slow.  It’s fantastic!  It’s like we’re given this season where responsibilities can be delayed or set aside for a few hours or few days and why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of that.  So this summer I am spending a little bit more time being open to those things.  Being open to taking the long way home.  Being open to jumping out of the car to explore somewhere we haven’t before.  Being open to sitting on my front porch and reading instead of heading to my laptop to be in the inter webs world.

Summer 2014 reading

 

That explains my absence lately and will explain my scarcity for the rest of the summer.  I have many things I want to share — recipes, weight loss, nutrition information, Jack, Gabriel, home life, other blogs — so much that I want to jump on here and share with you.  But each time I do it takes time away from my boys and time away from our freedom to take it easy this summer.  So I’m not saying that I won’t be blogging this summer, and I’m not saying that I will be.  How amazingly ambiguous, right?  But after spending several weeks stressing out over whether I will continue blogging this summer or whether I will take a break, I realized the stress was unnecessary and I would just allow myself the permission to be here as little as I want to be.

Summer 2014 fun

 

I think the break will be refreshing for me, and I hope it will allow me to come back as a stronger writer and blogger in the fall.  It also frees up some time and brain space to think through other areas like Project Gabriel.  And most importantly to focus on Tommy and Jack and our home.

Summer 2014

I wanted to share my thoughts with you and wish you a relaxing and easy going summer as well!  Here’s to taking advantage of enjoying the long days of summer.

making the most of summer.

It is summer.  School is out.  The air is heavy and warm.  Fireflies are starting to light our yard.  It stays light until late in the day and the sun is up early to greet us.  It is summer.

 

I am not a summer person.  In fact, out of the 4 seasons, it ranks in 4th place — and that’s only because there isn’t a 5th season.  Spring and fall are beautiful in East Tennessee.  It is hard to beat those seasons in this gorgeous part of the country.  I’ve always liked winter as well.  I love snow, I like bundling up and all things cold and associated with it make me happy and snuggly.  I hate being hot.  I hate sweating — which I do a lot of.  I don’t tend to tan, I usually burn.  Mosquitos eat me like I eat chocolate cake.  Summer is just not my season.

 

But it’s funny how having kids really does change everything.  Jack is changing how I feel about summer.  Over the past several years I have realized what a precious time this season is with my boy, and I’m kind of starting to love it.  I’m not a natural at this summer thing, and I’m not a naturally fun person so having a fun, intentional, and adventurous summer is out of my comfort zone and a stretch for me.  But I’m going to do it.  You see, I realized the other day that I only get 18 of these summers with my boy, Lord willing.  And I’m coming up on my 4th summer with him.  How is that even possible??  This realization made me catch my breath and hold back tears a little bit as I thought about how quickly time is passing.  I don’t want summer days with Jack to be wasted.  I want to teach him valuable skills, I want to show him amazing things, I want him to have a spirit for adventure, and I want him to look forward to an exciting time of year where our family shifts our focus into fun and adventure for a season.

summer park picnic

summer fun

 

In order for me to do that I have to set some goals + make some lists [because even if I am going to be adventurous, let’s face it — I’m still type A and need a good list to be adventurous 🙂 ].  So we have made up a family summer adventure list with the goal of crossing each thing off the list.  The first week of summer for us was last week, and it went really well.  I watched my friend’s son while she took care of her other son who was sick.  So we got to have some fun adventures with Jack’s buddy, too.  They had Icees and a picnic at the park to start the week.  Then the next day a Chick-fil-A picnic in Nan and Pops incredible back yard.  Jack has run errands with me and spent time outside blowing bubbles.  The first week of summer was a success!

 

Here is our list:

 

Family Summer Adventure List 2014

1. Get Icees and go swing at Bluegrass

2. Picnic at the park

3. Play in the sprinklers

4. Picnics at Nan and Pops

5. Play out in the backyard at Nan and Pops house

6. 69 cent Icees over and over

7. Anni-Jack-a-birthday week to kick off summer!

8. Celebrate Jack’s 3rd birthday!

9. Celebrate our 5th anniversary!

10. My birthday on Memorial Day this year

11. Go to the mountains

12. Go to the library

13. Go for walks

14. Play bubbles

15. Water gun fight

16. Slip-n-slide

17. 4th of July

18. Catch fireflies

19. Go to the zoo

Go to Dollywood

20. Ride bikes

21. Go to the park

22. Go fishing

23. Go hiking

24. Order pizza

25. Camp in backyard

26. Lay on driveway and watch the stars

27. Find our Gabriel star

28. Visit the cemetery lots

29. Go to Smokies game

30. Go to the beach

31. Go swimming

32. Pick blueberries

33. Make strawberry jam

34. Make blueberry jam

35. Get strawberries from Tidwells

36. Visit Daddy at work

37. Find a special place to serve

38. Go to Kingsport

39. See cows + visit Mamaw’s barns

40. Paint on the driveway

41. Paint on the fence

42. Take the dogs for walks

43. Jack’s birthday party at the farm!

44. Remember and celebrate Gabriel

45. Plant flowers

46. Fix up backyard

47. Grill out lots

48. Eat popsicles

49. Play with chalk outside

50. Rent a canoe

51.  Make homemade popsicles

52.  Swim in blow up pools in our yard

 

 

 

he’s 3!

I meant to post this on Sunday but got caught up in the celebrating!

 

Today is Jack’s birthday!  He is 3 years old!  We’ve been busy celebrating this boy and having so much fun!  It’s hard to believe how quickly 3 years can go by.  They’ve been the best 3 years of my life.

 

 

Morgan family jack kissesMorgan family softball

Morgan family maternitynaptime smiles

FamilyPicturesFall2013006_thumb.jpgg day 18 Jack and mommy.adventures.jpg first night without paci

 

Jack's birthday hayride

birthday hayride!   

 

 

 

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet boy!  He has the most tender heart I’ve ever seen.  He is sensitive but not soft.  He’s a rough and tumble boy with a heart for others and a heart that God uses to bring healing to those around him.  He’s the most precious human I’ve ever known, and I still can’t get over how blessed I am to be his mama.