Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wait, it's a Boy!? Becoming Foster Parents

 
Before our baby girl arrives at the end of May, we're having a boy! A teenage boy.

As I was about to leave work on Tuesday, I received a call that a student I had been working with was placed at an emergency youth shelter, Orangewood. I can't discuss any of the circumstances surrounding why he was placed there not just because of confidentiality, but because it is his story. None of us would like our stories shared, and there is always misinformation and another side to things. Suffice to say, he was now in "the system" and would be looking at at least two months there (usually closer to eight or nine) before hopefully being placed with a foster family. 

That is, unless someone who was related to him or knew him stepped forward. I already knew that he had no one. I thought of how he had attended school every day the prior week, a first for the entire school year, and how he was just starting to smile and feel connected. I spoke to our campus police officer who has been instrumental in helping get him clothing, shoes and school supplies, and he said he was searching his mind for someone who could take him in. He said he would take him himself, except that he has four boys, and I knew he meant it. Everyone likes this kid. Right away, I wanted to say "We'll take him!" but knew I needed to talk to Nathan, who would probably tell me it wasn't good timing.

Without hesitation or even a whole lot of information, my husband was all for it said we should help. We were being called to do so. I was surprised by his response, but I probably shouldn't have been. On one of our first dates, he told me he believes service to others is his main purpose in life. He said that although he has never met this boy, he trusts my judgement. This means a lot to me, especially in light of the fact that I routinely loose my cell phone inside my own house and just the other day put the ice cream away in the fridge, overnight. We decided to move forward.

The first step was to speak to his social worker and give her all of the information needed on both of us to complete a criminal background check. She also asked the student if he would want to live with us, and his answer was yes. On Wednesday night, we spoke to him and set up our our first visit for the following day.

The fact that we are flying to Italy on Valentine's Day presented a problem because we can't very well leave him unattended for 10 days while we ride gondolas and eat lasagna. At first, the social worker said that we would just wait until the end of February, when we return. But that didn't seem right, and I searched for someone willing to take him while we were gone. I was amazed to find out that one of his teachers was willing to take him for the entire time we are gone. The social worker was in support, and they are moving forward with that background check as well.

Every day, Nathan and I have been talking about this and giving it careful consideration. Can we really commit to having him stay with us for six months to a year, possibly more? What if behavior problems arise? What will it be like with a newborn? With our backgrounds and experiences I feel that we are fairly well equipped to handle whatever is thrown our way. I told my husband that I love him more for being so open to doing this, and he said he is so happy he found someone who is willing to take this on. Being 5 months pregnant, it may not be the best timing, but its as good a time as any. We don't choose when we're called to serve, and the timing for something like this is probably never perfect.

We had our first meeting with him Thursday night and it could not have gone any better. He hit it off with my husband, talking about video games and baseball. We tried to get to know him, asking what his favorite things to eat are and what he likes to do. All three of us were a bit nervous. He smiled a lot, very shyly, while looking down. He seemed excited. When we asked him if he had any questions, he wanted to know what time he would need to go to bed, and if he could drink soda. If he was allowed to drink soda, how many could he have in a week? Rather than having set answers, we told him that we would all talk and figure out what was best with his input.

Toward the end of our visit, I told him that we are just here to help, and that he didn't choose to be in this situation and that it wasn't fair, or his fault. His response astounded me so much that I had to ask him to repeat himself. He said "Better me than someone else." We ended the visit on a positive note and told him we would be back to see him on Saturday.

This time, we were able to take him out of Orangewood for two hours. We walked around the Block at Orange and had lunch at TGI Fridays, a place he had never been. Again, it went really well and I think we can both now see ourselves in this role.

Our home visit is scheduled for next Wednesday, where they will open every drawer and peer into every cabinet. It's supposed to last two hours. They will also be asking us some pretty interesting questions I assume, because she already front-loaded us and told me not to be offended, "They're just questions we ask everybody."

The clothes that were given to him a few weeks ago did not make it with him to Orangewood, so we are in the process of contacting some people who may be able to help. While there eventually will be some funding that comes with him for clothing and food, it does not kick in for 6-8 weeks and his birthday is less than two weeks away. My friend Delia asked her friend Dave who has already made contact with some people at Hurley, Oakley and Vans.

We are both so excited about the possibility of making a difference, even a small one, in this young man's life. So many people care about him - more than he knows - and their caring and concern motivated us to take this leap. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

14 Days of Love - DIY with Printables

14DaysofLove-Pin
((This repost is from The Dating Divas who reposted from Six Sisters Stuff.))

I'm excited to do this for Nathan! Last year, I did a scavenger hunt for him on Valentine's Day. You can view that posting here. I like that this is for two weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, so it helps build the excitement while taking a little pressure off of the gift. I plan to leave these by the coffee pot or in his car in the morning, since I leave before he does. Or, around the house if it's something he won't be taking to work (like the sparkling cider). The printables are found here. I've made my shopping list, and have started picking up a few items each time I go to the store.

One or two of these could be used instead of the whole 14. You could also use some of them for children, friends or co-workers. "You are the apple of my eye" is great for a child, and "You are soda-mazing" could be given to just about anyone.
Enjoy! 

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You are the “apple” of my eye!
You could also use apple juice, candy apple rings or actual apples.

“Honey, comb” you’re hair, because we’ve got a date tonight!
If you’re not into cereal you could just use a regular comb.

You are one “hot tamale!”
You could also use Red Hots or any other cinnamon candy.

I’m “nuts” about you!
You could use any type of nuts, a Nutrageous candy bar, or Nutter Butter cookies.

I wouldn’t “chews” anyone but you!
You could also use Starburst fruit chews, Charleston Chews, or Chewy granola bars.

I think you are “soda” amazing!
You could also use Soda Candies or Soda Crackers.

We were “mint” to be together!
You could also use York Peppermint Patties, Butter Mints, or a mint flavored dessert.

We make a great “combo!”
These were my husband’s favorite growing up so I just had to use them!  They are found right by the checkout.
You could also use a combination flavored pizza or PB and J combo jars.

Thanks for “stick”ing by my side!
We lose chapstick as soon as we get it around here so this works well for us.
You could also use Chic-O-Sticks, Orange or Raspberry Sticks or super glue (or anything else sticky for that matter).

I’m “bananas” for you!
You could also use real bananas or banana flavored candy.

You have o”fish”ally stolen my heart!
You could also use gold fish crackers.

I would be so “mix”ed up without you!
You could use any flavor of Chex Mix, trail mix or other snack mix.

Life would be un”bear”able without you!
You could also use a honey bear or Klondike Bars with the bear on the front (just be sure to keep them in the freezer). :)

You make my heart “bubble” over!
You could use any type of carbonated beverage, Bubble Tape, or Bubble Yum.

Print your 14 day tags here!

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Linked up at: 
Blooming Homestead

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Christmas Gifts, From Mom

One of the reasons I blog is for the documentation and archival aspects. I've already gone back and reminisced reading Autumn Weekends with Mom, trying to assure myself that I made the most of our year together post-diagnosis. And I like imagining that our daughter will one day read this blog. She may not be interested until she's older, but if I had something similar written by my Mother or Grandmother, I certainly would. 

In doing so, I hope she will have just a glimpse into the planning and effort that went into trying to have her, and all of the excitement and anticipation surrounding her arrival. After IVF failed the first time, Mom told me "I'm going to hold that baby!" I want Autumn, as we have taken to calling her, to know how loved and wanted she was, even before we received that positive test. And how overjoyed my Mom was when I told her I was pregnant, both of us silently knowing and wishing that she could be here for more. 

A few weeks before Christmas, my Dad told me he asked Mom what to get me. My heart skipped a beat. Then he said "When you've been married as long as we have, you know what the other person would say." He wanted me to know that the gifts I was going to receive, for our baby girl, were from both of them.

Christmas Eve came, and traditionally we open one present. Dad knew the package, and handed me one wrapped in paper different from everything else under the tree. Inside were the most darling pink leather baby booties, with roses for Mom.


On Christmas morning, I did my best to cook up some sausages like Mom did, but they weren't as good. There was an emptiness in the air and in our hearts. The first holiday without a loved one is something to get through, not enjoy. But we did our best, as Mom would have wanted, and having this baby girl to look forward to helped. In my darkest days of grief, she is a bright spot.

I feel like the gifts that Dad picked out and had imported from England really were something Mom would have chosen. I will pack these away when she outgrows them, and like to imagine that Autumn may pass them on to her girl one day.






The mittens, booties and cap from Bonnie Baby are Cashmere, and super soft. She's all set for her baptism with the christening shawl and bonnet, which has intricate bead work on it. She will wear my gown, which Mom saved.

Another Christmas tradition in our family is that after all of the gifts have been opened, there's a special one, the best of all, from Santa. Sometimes it's hidden, or in another room. One year, a bike was left up on the roof, because Santa couldn't fit it down the chimney.

As in years past, this last gift was the most special. "Santa" had developed 15 rolls of film on disposable cameras that all belonged to Mom. When I switched to digital cameras around 2003, Mom's complaint was that the photos were never printed. So when we had an event or special occasion, she bought a disposable camera. It was amazing to look through the hundreds of pictures, most of them taken by her. Here are a few of few of my favorites. 


Her favorite Saint, Blessed St. Martin

I received that Tiffany anchor necklace that year, along with a note I saved that said I was the anchor of the family.
This was a dirt field when she started. Avenue G, Yucaipa.
Joking about having a double chin in photos. I miss her laugh, but can almost hear it when I look at this.