Sunday, January 25, 2015

new! and seriously improved!


 
do you know what I haven't been able to do for six months? besides being able to up and leave the country, and being able to enjoy more than 24 hours of childless freedom- I haven't been able to post any pictures to my blog! I thought it was our internet connection- but we got that situation looked at- and still no blog pictures. and then we decided it must be our antiquated and awful computer. so my sweet hubs got me a new and shiny laptop for my birfday! I was sick for my birthday and did not get to go out foraging for free food, which is one of my favorite birthday activities, but I got INSANELY hooked up with some of the absolute best birthday presents a girl could ask for. man my friends and family are amazing!!!

speaking of amazing friends, my phenomenal friend, jenny, took our pics back in November. and they were soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo great! I really really really wanted little j to have beautiful pics to take home with her (wherever that may be and whenever she may happen to have to leave) and jenny delivered big time. and of course- I can't show you those pics. not because of my computer though- just privacy and protection of my little one.

so here are some pics I can show you. and I seriously restrained myself by only picking 10 to share with you:
Chris Watson. He's my fave.
tickle tim! I cn share this one beause you can't really make out J's face
fantastic mr. topher

cuties!
 
 
& beauties!

 

an attempt at a family pic without J. she's standing right behind us.

stop growing up child!

acting, and looking like a little angel.. at this specific moment ;)

our boy! love him so.

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jenny! i cannot get over how you capture our family's heart and soul with your camera! 
 you are amazing and i can't thank you enough for the fantastic blessing of your friendship,
 and for the incredible honor it is to be able to have your photographic masterpieces on the walls of our home.
 
for more info about jenny:
 




Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crazy Pants

i vaguely/distinctly remember the first time i ever saw someone wearing capri pants. i was in my car, in toronto, at yonge and bloor, with jeehon. as we sat at the red light, a person (i think it was a man!) walked in front of our car wearing pants that weren't long enough to be pants, but weren't short enough to be shorts. jeehon and i laughed and drove on. we thought it was so ridiculous. and then before we knew it- everyone was wearing capris, and my sister and i were certainly part of the everyone.

i remember the first time i ever tried on skinny jeans. i was at forever21, and i was with jeehon (man! you'd think from this post that we haven't spent most of our adult lives living on different continents!), and i came out of the dressing room and we just knew- it wasn't right. i was too short to pull this 'trend' off. and the pants were too tight. and i wasn't 21 any more so why was i shopping here? but guess what happened next? everyone and their mother (mine included!) started wearing skinny jeans. including me. and excluding jeehon. she's such a rebel sometimes. and i believe i have never seen Elisa Watson in skinny jeans either. i know two rebels.

but isn't it funny how sometimes you see something, and the first time you see it you are shocked/disgusted/amazed/annoyed. but then you see it over and over and over again and then you become numb to it. you even succumb to it. you even try the pants on again. and you convince yourself that you do in fact like those pants. that you do in fact somehow look good in those pants. and then you pay money for those crazy pants.

i remember, in my sweet, innocent, youth- thinking that divorce was for quitters and bad kids were a result of bad parenting,

i'm older now. it's fair to say that i'm jaded now. i wear crazy pants now for pete's sake. but i know that NO ONE knows what's going on in anybody's home except your own. and if you aren't paying attention- you (i!) might not even really know what's going on inside your own home.

i have seen marriages disintegrate/implode due to sin. i have seen marriages work through unfaithfulness. i have seen good parents struggle with bad choices that their kids have made. i have seen bad parents abandon their precious little ones to a very broken and sad foster care system, but somehow come out on the other side with very very good, responsible, amazing kids who grow to be amazing, responsible, good adults. i have learned you can't judge anybody because you have no idea what they have been through and what they are going through. you don't know why people are wearing the pants that they are wearing. did someone force them to put them on? or did they choose it themselves? were those the only pants available to them? is that even ever really an option or a complete cop out?

what pants are you wearing and why? were you appalled the first time you saw someone wearing those same pants- or were you amazed? i hope it's the second, and not the first. but here's the good news- you can always, always, change your pants. sometimes you need help getting out of them, and then you're gonna have to call some really good friends that you are comfortable enough with to have them see you in your undies. but call them. and change your crazy pants.

this post is dedicated to my absolutely amazing family and friends who have helped me out of some bad pants situations, and helped me into good pants. and i do still shop at forever21. even though i am almost 34.



2014

here is our Christmas letter from this year!
still can't get pictures to load cause my computer hates me!!!!

2014- A Year of Promotions

Chris- After having played the part of being a drug-addicted transient (very convincingly!) for two years, Chris decided to give up the beard and gave being a Sergeant a chance. After a very stressful (for me!) 3 week testing process, Chris did great, did five weeks of training, and has been Sergeanting his very own squad for about a month. With his promotion has come the joys of working midnights and weekends again. If you are ever in Scottsdale, driving aimlessly at 2 am on a Friday night- give Chris a call! Or better yet, buy him a donut. He loves those. ;)

Jihae- It only took her two and a half years to master being a mother of three, and that’s when Jihae got promoted to being a mother of four. And the fourth came with no morning sickness or painful labour- only thirty hours of classes, a home inspection, and still lots of anxiety- and BOOM! We got a sweet and sassy little 17-month old delivered to our doorstep! With this promotion has come less sleep, more joy, less patience, and more opportunities to practice being more patient. If you’re every driving aimlessly around Gilbert at 2pm any day of the week- give Jihae a call! Or better yet, bring her a coffee. Cause she needs one.

Lily and Topher- Though they absolutely deserve their own paragraph, their promotions looked very similar this year. So that’s why they aren’t getting their own paragraphs. This year was a mighty and major year for our eldest two as they both accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour, and were baptized at church in front of their friends, families, and a ton of strangers. It was the best!!!!! We are so exceptionally proud of the little people that Lily and Topher are. They are (usually) so helpful, especially with entertaining the younger two kids, and they are both doing really great in second and first grade respectively.

Mia- Her promotion was not one that she sought, but it happened nonetheless. She was booted from her lofty position as ‘baby of the family’, and was upgraded to being a big sister.  With her promotion has come a shared bedroom with Lily- which she loves, someone to boss around, and someone to scheme with/play with while the other kids are at school. Mia is so hilarious, so cute, and so stinkin temperamental!

J- I doubt that living at our crazy house is much of a promotion for our precious little foster daughter, but we are so glad she is with us! In the last five and a half months, she has grown four teeth and two molars, her vocabulary went from not much to too much, and she went from not hugging us back when we would hug her- to giving us the tightest, most life-affirming squeezes, topped off with an interesting version of ‘love you!’. It is hard to tell who has grown more in the last few months- her, or all the rest of us because of her.

Thanks to all of you for your continued friendship and support. When you think of us- pray for us!
And we are praying for you and wish you a blessed and wonderful 2015!

Thanks also to jennybishopphotography for taking our pictures again this year!
(which i can't seem to upload any pics to my blog. again...)


Monday, November 3, 2014

100 %

our church has a support group for foster and adoptive families. i actually love this group. everyone in it is so super duper amazing. what happens in group stays in group, but i think i am kinda allowed to talk about these people without naming names or being too specific... maybe? i'm just gonna.

there's one family there that had FOUR little girls living with them for about a year. i believe they were 5 and under. then there's this other family that has three biological high schoolers, and then they adopted twin 20 month olds and have a tiny little baby living with them too. then there's this other family that has three foster kids aged 3 and under. then there's this single mom who has one adopted almost-teenager and a school-age foster child. a single mom. the single women that i have met that feel called to be foster parents just make me want to bow down  at their feet and yell 'i am not worthy!' these families are amazing.

and they make me feel awful.

they don't MAKE me feel awful. i make myself feel awful. why? WHY????!!?!

when i was first married to my beautiful Chris almost a decade ago, i didn't have a job, i was working on my Masters, and learning how to be an awesome wife, and also learning how to cook. cause i didn't know how to cook. and even though i was home All the Time- i was a TERRIBLE cleaner. our house was not very clean- i am a maker of piles, and a mover of piles. i do not know how to not make piles. i hear some people throw things out. i try that, and yet the piles remain. i also happened to not finish my studies to get my Masters. sometimes i think about that year of my life and i wonder what the heck that was all really about...

then i quickly became a mama, and even more quickly i became a mama of two. having just Lily was actually not that hard. she was such a phenomenal baby, and everyone wanted to babysit her! it was awesome! and then Topher came and that was an ass-kicker. everyone else was starting to have kids and i had to start paying for babysitters to watch my two ridiculously young babes, When people would watch them, or I could just get out without them- i felt like i was high as a kite! but Chris and i didn't date regularly for a year or two, nor did i grow much in my homemaking skills- i was just trying to keep these little kids alive!

then came Mia. i was terrified of the thought of three kids, and i didn't think i was ever going to be able to leave my house, or clean it, or shower, or anything, but who knew- i was kind of an awesome mom of three! it helped that Lily and Topher were starting school, and Mia was also a phenomenal baby; and Chris and i decided we needed to date more regularly again. and somehow i found the time and energy to clean (lysol wipes!!!!), and still make lots of piles.

and then we added another kid. and there are so many moments when i don't feel like an awesome mom, of anyone. but i feed these kids, and get them dressed, and send two of them to school- on time!, and i have a cleaner (tho maybe not neater- and part of that is the toddlers' fault!) house than ever before, and Chris and i date more now than EVER before. what the heck!?!?!?! who would have thought that having four kids would not kill me, but is actually making me awesomer? i am awesome! and so are YOU! go look in the mirror. say that to yourself. You are awesome.

i don't judge others who have less kids than me. i don't think i am more awesome than them. everybody is called to something, and it is important for each person to fulfill that calling- with the support of LOTS of other people. when i was just a mama to Lily, i gave that 100%. and it was exhausting. as motherhood is. i gave being a mom of two 100%, a mom of three 100%, and the same is true being a mom of four. and i am tired, and i relish time by myself, or away from the kids, but i am getting those breaks much to my surprise and delight. and it makes giving 100% when i am with my kids a heck of a whole lot easier. my friends all give being moms, or working moms, or single moms, or a single Christian woman, or a wife, or whatever their lot in life is- 100% and i feel inspired and encouraged and rejuvenated when i hang out with each and every single one of them. i don't judge you for being a working mom, or a homeschooling mom, or a mom who has seven foster kids, and two adopted kids and you dig wells in africa on your summer breaks. so if i don't judge others that means i also can't compare myself. to anyone. and you can't compare yourself to me. nor should you (but as a bonus-i guarantee your house is neater than mine tho ;). i can only be the woman that God has called me to be, and that's all you can be too. and that is pretty fantastic.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Toddler life

did you know that i do not like toddlers?

i'm a baby person. i love babies. i love the weird way they look. i tolerate the weird way they smell.  i love the way they do NOTHING and can do NOTHING for themselves. i love that! i don't mind doing everything for them. changing their disgusting diapers. feeding them. burping them. wiping up their spit up. putting them to bed a million times a day. i love it all. unless they are cry babies. then that's a deal breaker.

toddlers think they are the opposite of babies, and that's why i don't like them. they usually look better as toddlers than they did as babies, and they usually smell less foul than their younger counterparts, but they think they can do EVERYTHING. by themselves. with no help. but in fact, they can still do NOTHING (right) and they cry about EVERYTHING, which i mentioned was a deal breaker for me.

but here is the absolute, positively worst thing about toddlers- they bring out the ugliest part of me. the. ugliest.

a good friend of mine told me long time ago that the most successful relationships were ones where each member brought out the best in each other.

case in point- chris and i. we honestly have an incredible relationship that i praise Jesus for daily. sure we disagree on stuff and occasionally annoy each other, but seriously, our relationship is so great. sometimes i feel like the world's best wife- selfless, serving, all that good stuff. but the more i inspect my soul these days, i find very little that is good, pure, and Christ-like in there. my love is not unconditional. it is heavily laden with conditions, rules, and stipulations.

chris works so dang hard, he loves his job, and he is really really good at it. but he loves his family more than anything in this world- more than money, more than football- and that's saying A LOT. chris also happens to adore me, and i know this despite the fact he is not a big words-of-affirmation kind of guy. i feel so secure in our relationship, and he really pushes me to be the best mom, wife, daughter, friend, aunt, foster mom, that i can be. i am a good wife cause he is the best husband!

then you have my kids. namely the toddlers. oh for the love. where do i begin... they make me feel... so inadequate. for example- i have been a mom for over seven years now. sure Lily and Topher occasionally throw me for a loop, but for the most part i know how to deal with them. Mia still has moments that make me question the kind of mom that i am and that i thought i was. i know every child is unique and you can't even parent your children- who are genetically identical, identically. i know this from having had Lily and Topher so close together, and i know this cause Mia is so different from Lily, and Topher, and LilyandTopher. she has suddenly become a not very good sleeper, and is becoming a pickier eater with every passing day. i have moments when i just want to quit, and then Mia says something so sincere, so simple, like: "mom, thanks for making me breakfast" or "mom, thank you for buying me that striped shirt that one time" and then i smother her with kisses and cuddles and chocolates. she's cute, and that's why she's still alive.

and then there's little miss J. we hit the foster kid jackpot with this one- and i am not saying this with a hint of sarcasm. she doesn't have any signs of neglect or abuse, though she has moments when i think it would be appropriate to get 'thug life' tattooed on her neck, but even those moments are so rare now that's she's been here for over three months. the only thing that seems to be 'wrong' with her, is her age. between still getting teeth, and learning to communicate, we've had a couple of rough days and weeks. and by rough, i mostly just mean annoying. this girl can throw a tantrum with the best of them, and whining is a very special talent she has as well. sometimes she just screams in my face and i want to scream back at her: "YOU'RE NOT INVITED TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" like i said- these kids aren't bringing out the best in me. they are bringing out the toddler in me.

but the scary thing to think about is- if they don't bring out the best in me- what if i am not bringing out the best in these kids??!?!??

that's the stuff nightmares are made of folks.

 there's a verse that gets to me, and gives me much hope. it's from lamentations 3:22-23, and it goes a little something like this:

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

something that kids do, that i as an adult-who-acts-like-a-child does not do, is that they forgive and forget very easily. i can yell and carry on like a complete lunatic (aka toddler), and the kids can scream back and cry and all that, and all seems lost, and then someone farts and there is much laughter. no laughter from me, but from the kids. even if i think it's funny too, i don't let myself laugh. cause i'm mad. i feel disrespected, or unappreciated, or both. and i want to hold a grudge. but these kids are so unintelligent- they don't even know how to hold a grudge for pete's sake. 

so, i'm trying not to teach my kids to be like me. i'm trying to teach them to be like Jesus, but the more i hang out with them, the more i realize they have a steadfast and unconditional love much akin to my Savior, and in that respect, maybe i should let my inner toddler out more. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

welcome to crazy town.

I haven't written in two months. no wait. more (i started this post a long time ago...) I didn't die. I didn't change residences. Lots has happened, and I have taken lots of great pictures, but my computer REALLY sucks, and I cannot upload pictures to my blog anymore. but that's ok, cause I am now in this strange place in my life where I can't take a ton of pictures and share them. have we re-entered the witness protection program? no. we have embarked on this very strange and wonderful and painful journey, and I want to invite you on this journey with us. but again- there will be no pictures. just lots of words. lots and lots of words. and some feelings. and probably a good amount of whining.


but before I tell you where we are going together, let me tell you how we got here:


a few years ago during the holidays I read a ton of annoying articles about these annoying families that wouldn't celebrate thanksgiving in the traditional way of gorging themselves and then going black Friday shopping (one of my favorite holidays!) instead, these crazy families would wake up at the buttcrack of dawn and make like a million sandwiches and vats of hot chocolate and then distribute them to the homeless and downtrodden of their city. and I read an absurd number of heart-breaking/warming articles about kids who had battled (and beat!) cancer and other life-threatening diseases and so they spent the bulk of their holidays in hospitals blessing other kids and families. but what was i to do? our family is healthy and i had too many little kids to be considering feeding AND fellowshiping with the homeless. so i prayed for God to give our family a mission. not for us to go to africa, but to make a difference in our community, and something that would help my kids to see how privileged and downright LUCKY they are, as well as to have an opportunity to serve alongside Chris and i.


fast forward a bunch of months. maybe even a year. no wait. i think it was about a year exactly cause i started reading those articles before thanksgiving and we had this epiphany right before thanksgiving... anyway, we decided to grow our family. i did not want to have another baby for the longest time, but Mia was already one (i guess for normal folks, contemplating having another baby when your baby turns 1 is not a LONG time, but remember i got pregnant with Topher when Lily was FOUR MONTHS OLD!!!) and she was such a FANTASTICAL little chubby baby. i felt prepared to try to recreate some of that magic! but God's sense of humor took over, and instead of preparing us to have one of our own babies, He was preparing us to have one of His babies. no, not like that. as in a ward of the state, aka a foster kid.

oh man, you should have seen me try to back pedal out of this corner!:
"what Lord? i don't want any more kids. yes Lord, i love you and would do anything for you. but not that. and still don't send me to africa. i did ask for a mission for my whole family to be involved in, but 'how bout we revisit that serving sandwiches on thanksgiving option again? i'll even do it twice a year!!! Lord? Lord????''

Chris felt CALLED. he was the driving force behind this train(wreck). we went to a 1 hour orientation, which lead to a 6 hour saturday all-day orientation type thing, which lead to us picking an agency (Christian Family Care Agency- and we ADORE them), which lead to 10 3-hour long thursday evening classes, which lead to more mandatory (and necessary) hoop-jumping, which led us to get licensed in June. whew.

the 10 week classes were actually pretty enjoyable because we had the two best instructors in the universe. they both work for our agency and one is an adoption specialist who has a foster-turned adopted grandson, and the other was the sweetest lady who had fostered for about 15 years and had over 30 kids live in her home over that period of time. their wealth of knowledge and experience was incredible. one thing that the adoption specialist said that stuck with me was this: "some of you are called to just foster. some of you are called to just adopt. some of you are called to foster and then adopt. and some of you are called to none of the above." (admittedly i hoped i was in the last category! fingers crossed...) but then he continued: "but you are all here, and i want you to make it through the whole ten weeks and see what God is calling you to do, and even if it isn't to do any of the three situations, EVERYONE has a role in the foster syster." oh man. by the end of the 10 weeks i, along with Chris, felt an overwhelming burden to become foster parents.

the reason i am blogging about this is cause we need your help. we need you to pray for us. often. and twice on sundays.

tomorrow is our three month anniversary of non-stop having a ward of the state living with us. we started off providing respite for another foster family by watching their little 2 year old boy for 5 days, which actually over-lapped with our watching our cousins' 6 year old foster daughter for 8 days by 2 days, and then we got our little girl, J, who is now 20 months old; we got her on a monday, and our cousins' foster daughter left the following day, so there were three days altogether when we had two foster kids living in our house! it was amazing madness! there are lots of moments of GREATNESS and wonder and unspeakable joy. chris and i feel such peace knowing we are right in the middle of where God wants us to be right now. BUT there are also LOTS of moments of tears and sadness and madness and loneliness and insanity. we are blessed, but man, we are also tired.

so, dear friend, when you think about it, please pray for us. we have a pretty phenomenal group of people who have helped us out SO VERY VERY VERY much over the last three months (no wait, longer than that.) but if God puts it on your heart to join our group- let me know! you want to watch the kids? great! you want to bring me a coffee? do it! you want to tell me that you prayed for me once and plan on doing it again- bring it on! there's room for you here at crazy town :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mister Topher is 6

Our precious son turned 6 a few weeks ago. (A LOT of weeks ago! my computer keeps shutting down as I get ready to post! oh I hate technology sometimes!!! ok. I just figured out that I cannot add pictures to this post is I actually want it to upload....)


And if I was a little awesomer I would have blogged about that closer to when it happened, but alas, not only did 2013 kick my blogging butt, but so did February, March, and now April of 2014.




Back to my boy. Topher really grew from a sweet little 5 year old, to a more mature, though still pretty nutty little 6.




We just had his 6  year old well-check and he is weighing in at a whopping 40 lbs and 4 oz (which puts him at the 15th percentile) and he is standing tall at three feet and 7 inches, which also puts him at the 15th percentile. I was impressed that he wasn't lower on the charts, but Chris was not as impressed as I was. That's ok, cause everything else about Topher's personality and brain and spirit impress both Chris and I.




So, Topher just learned how to ride his two wheel bike a few days before he turned 6. Lily actually learned how to ride her two wheel bike just a few weeks before she turned 7, which I realize is kind of late for both of them, but we don't challenge Topher enough physically, and I knew he could ride a two wheeler if we just made him. so we went outside with a balance bike, and a two wheel Spiderman bike that one of Chris' co-workers gave to him. and we tried to get Topher to balance on the balance bike, which went...ok... and then we got back on the two-wheel bike, and I hit Topher with his ultimate incentive- MONEY! I told him I would give him ONE DOLLAR if he could pedal 5 times on his bicycle. and guess what? he learned how to ride a bike that day!




On to way more important and awesome things- on February 16th, Topher accepted Jesus into his heart. it was just a lovely Sunday at the Watson house, and we had just come home from church and Topher was just full of questions about Jesus. We sat down and read this handy little book that our church gives out to the kids called 'How to say 'YES' to Jesus.' We read it, and Topher said that he wanted to say YES to Jesus! We prayed about it and invited Jesus into his heart. It was so beautiful. I was so proud of my precious sweet boy.




Topher at the age of 6 still loves Star Wars, and LEGOs, and Lego Star Wars, and is reading little chapter books, and writing hilarious little stories. He is SO AMAZING! the other day he was sitting at the table reading a book for school and he said: "look mom! this book is the same author and illustrator as the 'No, David, No!' books!" so I went over and picked up the book he was reading and I looked through all the pages to see where it said that. and I couldn't find anything. so I asked him how he knew that and he just pointed to the author's name on the front cover and said: "see? it says David Shannon." he just remembered the author and illustrator of the other book! he's so smart.


so, we had his birthday party on his birthday, right after school. it was a pretty small event at Peter Piper Pizza. it was pretty much all of his cousins and our next door neighbors- in other words- lots and lots of blond and blue eyed kids!




we are so blessed to be surrounded by so much awesome family, and friends, and to have such a phenomenal little boy as our son. Love you Topher Loafer!!!!