Thursday, August 13, 2015

the verdict is in

I love foster care!...

there is truly never a dull moment. every story is different, and every situation is so very very unique. our cousins who have been fostering a little elementary age girl for a year and a half, have been in the midst of a transition plan for months on end, with no actual end in sight. transition plans are ideal, but certainly not mandatory.

we went to court yesterday. twice actually. well, we thought we went to the right courthouse first, but fortunately we got there really early, and found out that they changed judges, and therefore courthouses. so chris and I jumped back in the car and drove 15 minutes away to the correct courthouse. we made it with time to spare- because they started late- which is understandable when you have about five different lawyers representing this one family. our case worker from Christian Family Care Agency came as well, and it was so perfect having her there. she is the best. I love our licensing agency with all my heart. they take such phenomenally good care of us. if I haven't completely scared you off of wanting to become a foster family, you should look into being licensed with them!!!! but back to court: it started, and the more people were talking- the more it sounded like J was going to be with us until the next court date, which probably would have been in December. when I was anxious about the unknown last week, I had the burden of not knowing whether or not we would be a family of 6 or 5 by the end of the week, but to be completely transparent, I was very VERY afraid that J would be staying with us for longer.

I don't know if you have picked up what i've been putting down about her this last year- but J and I are not kindred spirits. instead of being the apple of my eye, she was more like an eyelash in my eye, under my contact lens. this has had so very much more to do with the fact that she is a toddler, and that I too am a growing, developing, selfish being, and pretty much nothing to do with the fact that she is a 'foster child'. but nonetheless, I have struggled with dealing with this toddler that I have not been able to connect, and bond with. I have been her caregiver and provider for over a year, but I do not at all feel deserving of the title 'mommy', as she has been calling me, because, you know, I think she thinks i'm her mom... the whole thing. it's insane. it's maddening. it's why I am insane. did I mention that I love foster care?...

BACK TO COURT: after all 87 of the lawyers said their piece yesterday, the judge proclaimed that J would in fact return to her other four siblings, this weekend. it was the absolute best case scenario that we could have hoped for. had the judge told us to return her home that day, it would have been a rushed and unfinished mess of unsaid good byes. instead we get to really enjoy, cherish, and bless this little girl for a few more days, and then send her back to her family that has greatly been anticipating this reunion. I cried some sincere tears of sadness, but I cried some serious tears of joy and RELIEF. a HUGE burden had been taken off of my shoulders. it's a burden that I have put on myself- the burden of feeling like I HAVE had to love this kid as if I conceived her, and held her in my womb for nine months, and birthed her and got to know her and THEN had to deal with the terrors of being two. I don't know why I put this burden on myself. but I did. daily. and the guilt, and the feeling of falling short for the last year was crippling at times. so even if it makes me sound very heartless- I am glad to see J go.

I feel like I need to defend what I just now said. but i'm going to leave it there.

for now.

this is not my last post about J, because I have a lot to say about our first foster placement experience. but I have a ton of things I need to do to get this little girl ready to leave our home.

we really REALLY appreciate all the prayers and support we have gotten, especially this last week as we waited to find out J's fate, and in turn our own. keep on praying, especially for J, as she is being thrown into the deep end of life back with her family (transition plans are for chumps!) pray for her to somehow understand in her innocent mind, that we didn't abandon her, and that we did what we were supposed to do as her foster family. pray for her family to be ready for life with a toddler (good luck suckers! just kidding!!!! no I'm not.). and pray for us as we take a month off to rejuvenate and relax and enjoy some much needed calm before the next storm...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

next week

I absolutely realize that no one knows what will happen on any given day. sometimes the best things happen- like you run into an old friend you haven't seen in forever. or you find a $100 bill in your back pocket (that's never happened to me before, but I can only imagine how happy I would be if that did happen. actually, when I was in Toronto there really was a $100 bill AND a $5 in the washing machine and I almost pooped my pants with excitement. but then I bragged about finding it and my mom took it from me cause she 'claimed' it was hers. she let me keep the fiver though and I still felt like a lottery winner.) but on the flip side- terrible things can happen without any warning. I don't have to give examples of this because people are all too familiar with tragedy and pain.

but, as much as I can- I like to plan ahead. I have a big dry erase calendar in our dining room that has all the events of the month on there. I check it often, add things, occasionally erase things, and if it doesn't make it on the board- it doesn't exist. I have almost forgotten to show up somewhere for lunch more than once because it didn't make the calendar.

there is an event next week that is in bright green- which signifies all the things that have to do with J. the event is a court date. the last two court dates- one in January, the next in May- J's siblings were all returned to a kinship placement. J's siblings are all older than her, and so at present the kinship placement is just a 'guardianship'. in other words- they're still foster kids living in a foster home. so as soon as J's siblings went home in may (maybe it was april...) chris and I started mentally preparing ourselves for J to go home at the next court date- which is next week. BUT there are a bunch of things that are supposed to get done before J goes home, and I honestly have NO IDEA whether or not they've been done yet. NO IDEA. and no one has any answers for me. so, even though I am aware that we have to take it one day at a time, and we shouldn't be anxious about anything (phil 4:6), and that each day has enough troubles of it's own (matt 6:34)- I DON'T KNOW WHAT MY FAMILY WILL LOOK LIKE NEXT WEEK. it's very strange.

now mind you- we've been here before. J is our first foster babe, and she has lived with us for a year and a month. 43% of her life. before we got her- we were in this limbo of not knowing when we would get our foster baby and what they would be like and how long we would have her for. foster care is living in limbo. for foster kids, and for foster families. it's not normal. but nothing in this whole picture is. but we've generally known what to expect with J and her family situation. until the last few weeks when we were finding out things weren't really happening, but there was still a chance that they could get done. so we are operating as if J probably maybe isn't leaving, but also trying to be prepared for if she surprisingly perhaps by chance does... it's enough to cause a person to jump out of a moving vehicle. again.





Friday, July 24, 2015

Shasho On A Fesh

a few weeks ago we were driving home from our friend's house. J is two years old, and she LOVES to repeat herself. I don't know if she thinks we can't hear her, or if she just loves the sound of her voice, but she repeats herself to the extent that I often want to eject myself out of a moving vehicle.

J: "mom! mia has shasho on a fesh"
Me: "i'm sorry, what did you say?"
J: "mommy! mia shasho on a fesh!"
Me: "i don't know what you are saying sweetheart."
J: "mom!! mia has SHASHO ona fesh!"
Me: "OH! Mia has chocolate on her face. yes, I see that now. that's fine."
J: "mom! mom! Mia shasho on a fesh."
Me: "i know. thank you."
No Joke- she tells me about five more times. shasho on a fesh. shasho on a fesh. shasho on a fesh. shasho on a fesh. SHASHO ON A FESH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: "Ok J. Please stop telling me that Mia has chocolate on her face. I know that she does. and its not a big deal. but if you tell me that she has shasho on a fesh one more time I am going to lose my mind. do you understand?"
J: "mom?"
Me: "yes J?"
J: "mia shasho on a fesh."
Mia: "mom! did you just lose your mind?"
Me: unbuckling my seatbelt and preparing to jump out into oncoming traffic. cause yes, I have in fact lost my mind.

Friday, June 26, 2015

candor found in camping and canada

June was a whirlwind. we went camping for three days. then we came home. and then we went to Toronto for 9 days. and chris and I managed to go on a secret getaway for three days without any children to celebrate our ten year anniversary a little bit early. and Robert and Lindsay and their kids watched J that WHOLE time (with some help from Charles and Grace, and Barb and Jerry!) and now we are back to real life and 110+ degree days. and everything is so very great and wonderful.

except when it's not.

we are 11 days away from celebrating J being with us for a year. a whole year. 365 days. 40% of her whole life- she has spent with us.

admittedly, our honeymoon period with her lasted a pretty long time. and I am SOOOOOO very thankful for that. but man- when the honeymoon ended- about six months ago. it was a slap in the face.

speaking of slaps in the face, there is a story in the Bible that makes me so uncomfortable every time I read it. it's from Mark 10, starting at verse 35:

"And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and said to him,
"Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?"
And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." "

who do these guys think they are??? and more importantly- who do they think Jesus is? a freaking genie? "do for us whatever we ask of you." ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? that's ballsy!

it wasn't until I read that verse pretty recently that I felt uncomfortable for a different reason. I used to feel embarrassed for James and John for presenting/demanding such a ridiculous and presumptuous and vain request. I suddenly felt embarrassed because I have been just as presumptuous and pompous and vain when praying to the Lord. and I don't want to sit at Jesus' right hand. I don't need fame and acclaim. I want ease and permission to be lazy and QUIETNESS. and I feel like I deserve it. cause i'm a foster parent. and cause Jesus- can't you see how hard I am working over here, and how much I am giving to this little child who just takes and takes and screams and then takes some more?

chris took 17 days off of work to make our vacation marathon happen this month. it was so fantastic. I was SO excited to vacation. we went camping with chris' mom and step dad, and brothers, and their families. J came too. we camped with 4 kids. well, there were nine altogether, but I was responsible for four of them. and then I was SOOOO excited to go back to Canada to see my side of the family, and meet my newest nephew, Jordan, and eat, and be merry. and I was so happy to be with chris for our getaway. that guy is seriously my favorite.

but, here is a list of things that went wrong over the 17 days of our vacation:
-chris had an eye infection. it was like pink eye- only worse. he had to see an eye doctor in the middle of our camping trip because he was so uncomfortable and in pain. this infection lasted for a whole week.
-it rained so much during our four day camping trip that we had to cut it down to three days. and we were camping IN ARIZONA. the desert. you know- where it never rains...
-when going on our anniversary getaway, we realized that as a Canadian citizen, you MUST travel with your permanent resident card. failure to do so results in a $585 fine. FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS. fortunately they waived the fee because it was my first offense. BUT, our getaway was only three days and we were coming back to canada, and then would be coming back to the states again. so, I had to get my INCREDIBLE neighbor to look for my card and FedEx it to my parents' house and that cost $75.
-my period was two weeks late so I thought I was pregnant, even though I took four (negative!)pregnancy tests and chris got a vasectomy last month. my period showed up 14 days late.
-trying to get back to phoenix- we missed our connecting flight in dallas and had to sleep in the airport with our three kids. and mia peed her pants while she was sleeping and we threw her clothes in the garbage.
-Robert and Lindsay's daughter had salmonella and had to go to the ER while they were watching J! 
-when we got back to Arizona our new (to us) minivan had to go directly to the shop and get thousands of dollars of work done to it over a span of four days.

it was a lot. and every time something bad happened, and I prayed that it would stop, or that we would get some help, nothing happened. or at least nothing good happened. or at least, what I was expecting to have happen didn't happen.

but here is the silver lining to the bad things that happened and just some other great stuff that happened:

-coming home early from camping gave us plenty of time to do five loads of laundry and pack for our trip to Canada.
-I will never travel without my permanent resident card ever again. and paying $75 for FedEx is a lot less than paying $585 to the people who are always trying to deport me.
-I have the best next door neighbor in the universe.
-i'm not pregnant! but that two weeks led to lots of different conversations, and chris and I are glad to still be foster parents, and one day there will be tiny foster babies in our arms, but for now we need to be thankful for the big baby that kind of runs our home.
-chris bought a warranty for our van so we paid ZERO dollars for all the repairs that went into it. the warranty has already paid for itself, and then some.
-we were able to see a friend of ours while in Toronto, who I thought was going to lose his life to cancer last year. fortunately he is in remission and we were able to hang out with him and his wife and two kids.
-my nephew is tooooooo cute! we got to see him every day that we were in town. my sister-in-law is a wonderful new mama, but she is a phenomenal wife and I praise Jesus that my brother found her and married her!
-my younger brothers took great care of my kids while we were away, and the kids loved hanging out with their Samchoons.
-while at a mall in toronto one day, I was standing around with our family and before me stood one of my dearest friends in the universe. we went to high school and university together. she was supposed to be one of my bridesmaids but was in the middle of exams at MIT and couldn't make it. she lives in Beijing with her hubby and one year old son. it was the most unexpected and beautiful blessing to run into her and spend a few hours catching up.
-J did so great while at Tia Blanca (white aunt if your Spanish is no Bueno) and Tio Roberto's house. She slept through about half the nights she was there which was a major source of stress and anxiety for me (on Lindsay's behalf!) she had lots of fun hanging out with Barb and Jerry, and also Charles and Grace, and we are so blessed that our friends and family love on J so well.
-Robert and Lindsay are the best for watching J for ten days and not flinching when we were delayed an extra half a day.

it is so very very easy for me to get caught up in all that is bad, and hard, and exhausting. and when I am being a giant Ass, it's so easy for me to feel like I don't deserve any of these terrible things, because I am SO good and I am doing something SO GOOD.

this weekend, my brother in law preached a fantastic sermon about adding 'SO' into our prayers. (you can watch it here. it's pretty great!)
he gave examples of how to add 'So' and why we should do it:
"i want my kids to be good...SO... I don't have to parent them." that one hit me in the gut. there are some 'So's I have to remove from my vocabulary, while adding them to my prayers instead.

"But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." -Mark 10:43-45

Thank you Lord for being SO GOOD. thank you for not always answering my prayers, and thank you for blessing me SOOO much even though I don't deserve it at all. I pray that you would make me a better Christian, and a better mom, but especially a better, and more humble foster mom SO that all the kids who live in our home now, and in the future, would come to know you and accept you as their personal Saviour. we aren't a foster family so that we will have more blessings and riches in heaven, we know we will be in heaven because of You. we are doing this SO that these foster kids will be singing your praises up there with us.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

life lately

an update on life at our house:

-lily:

just successfully graduated from the second grade! even though she spells "succeed": "sexseed". i cannot believe she will be in the third grade in July! (sorry canadian friends: the kids got out of school on Thursday this week, and they will go back at the end of july. weird. I know.) I think she is going through a growth spurt because she has randomly fallen asleep and napped in the middle of the day twice this week!!! I need a growth spurt too... these kids are getting big fast.

lily is also more aware of fashion and concerned with what she wears. she will ask me to help her pick out an outfit, and when I show her two choices, she shoots them both down. needless to say- it is not my favorite thing to do with her. but when chris is putting the big kids down (90% of the time he is putting J down! superstar) lily will pull out two outfits and ask chris which one he likes, and he picks one- and she wears it. chris LOVES helping lily pick out her outfits! he is hoping that she consults him until she is 21.

-topher:

at the tender age of 7 years and 2 months, topher FINALLY lost his first tooth. he was ecstatic and terrified. he wrote the funniest letter to the tooth fairy:

"Dear: Tooth fairy
Today my tooth came out. it really hurted. it was pulled out by my Dad. my Dad is very strong. so it hurted more than if you hit your thumb nail with a hammer. Love, Topher."

this kid loves similes! and I love him.

topher's first grade class also had a talent show on their second to last day of school (aka, come to school to kill time.) topher's talent that he chose to share with his class was to tell jokes. he did SO GREAT!!!! chris and I were both able to go watch him because it was at 8:30am. this is my favorite joke from his set:

Q: what does a nosey pepper do?
A: it gets JALAPENO business!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the kids asked him where he got all of his jokes and he said: "my mom's phone."
true story.

-mia:

when I cut apple slices for mia, I hand them to her even though I know she doesn't like the seeds in them. I do this because as soon as I hand her a slice, she looks at it and then hands it back and says: "can you cut out the nuts?"

also, chris and I are officially those annoying people who aren't completely allergic to gluten, but have reactions to eating it (my psoriasis flares up, chris' insides get whacky). so we try to really watch our consumption of it. lily and topher have had classmates with gluten allergies this year, and so they have been SO considerate and always make me go to Trader Joe's to get a gluten free snack for their friends when they are bringing in glutinous treats for the rest of their class. they also often ask if their dad is allowed to eat something (it's almost always a donut) and ask whether it has gluten in it or not (yes. it still has gluten in it. that's why it's so delicious.)

the other day, mia looked at chris while he was drinking water: "dad! are you allowed to drink that? does it have gluten in it?" one day I will re-explain to all the kids what gluten is.

-j:

she was just starting to get back to sleeping through the night, and I was no longer sleeping on the floor in her room, and then she got the flu. so we stopped sleeping through the night again. but the last two nights have been AMAZING and I am hoping that she is really getting back on track again! her new things that she likes to do is hold hands while she falls asleep next to you on the recliner in her room; and she likes to pretend she is unamused when I am smiling freakishly at her by rolling her eyes and avoiding eye contact, all with a silly little grin on her face.

she is also slowly potty training, and can count to ten. she has also memorized most of "Good Night Moon" because we read that almost every night. when she isn't crying and whining, she is pretty awesome. I unfortunately have to remind myself of that pretty often.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

this skin i'm in

i'm going to be completely honest with you here- I do not struggle with my weight. never have, and i have a feeling that i never will.

am I bragging?

no.

do you know why? cause I don't have weight issues- I have a million other issues. and the biggest one is my skin. I hate my skin. almost always have. and i fear that i always will.

not my skin colour. do not get me wrong. I am yellow and I am proud! although if you saw me in action these days- you would just think that I was white. Mrs. Watson is kind of the perfect name for me.

but I digress. I hate my skin and I have for as long as I have been of the age where you are supposed to hate things about yourself.

when I was sixteen I discovered I had psoriasis. psoriasis is an UGLY skin disorder where your skin simply grows too fast and builds up and forms scales and dry patches. like, I am totally the flakiest person you have probably ever met. like, literally. there's a blog that I read on a occasion and he calls his fellow psoriasis sufferers 'flakers'. weird and gross and kind of funny.

psoriasis is "thought to be an immune system problem. triggers include infections, stress, and cold." this is from an article on the handy-dandy interweb that i found many weeks ago.

so, back in October, i got strep throat. and then i had a reaction to the penicillin i was taking. and my body EXPLODED into a sea of red bumps that would not, could not go away. and then chris' job/position/responsibilities/days/hours all changed. and then it was mia's birthday/the holidays/chris' birthday/our anniversary. and then it was my birthday. and then i got strep throat AGAIN. and then the bumps really wouldn't and couldn't go away. and then our little J turned 2. and then she turned into the spawn of satan. just kidding. that was a terrible thing to say. but she got REALLY HARD to be around. but at least she was sleeping through the night. and then she decided that sleeping through the night was for chumps. so she STOPPED sleeping through the nights. and then it was tax season so i was happily getting out of the house more, but seeing my husband a bit less. and then chris' schedule got a bit crazy. and then i thought he was cheating on me. (and for the record- Heis NOT.) but by this point I WAS SERIOUSLY CRAZY. and it didn't help that i also looked crazy. crazy on the inside and out.

i went to see doctors often. i went to the dermatologist twice, maybe thrice, and all to no avail. i felt so very hopeless. and sad. and tired. and UGLY. the only place i didn't have psoriasis were the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands. i even had it on my eyelids. MY EYELIDS. for pete's sake. i think i hated it on my scalp the most because that translated to me having the worst case of dandruff known to man. with my hair being as black as my heart was turning, the white flakes were impossible to hide. cue lots of head bands and hats and embarrassment.

i read lots of different articles on the internet and tried lots of 'natural' remedies. i was taking Epsom salt baths (which i think did help!), drinking organic apple cider vinegar, and pouring it on my head. i was rubbing bag balm (ointment to soothe cows' udders) all over my body, which did nothing to soothe me and my disintegrating self-image (because that crap makes you smell like a frickin cow's udders.) my precious friend Christie, who has Crohn's disease, gave me lots of practical advice on how to reduce my stress level (cause remember that doesn't help psoriasis, or anyone for the matter.) i started doing yoga and listening to meditation music. she isn't a crazy new age hippie- she was encouraging me to focus on the Lord and the Word and my health and sanity. all things that i needed to do.

the major turning point was when i texted a sweet friend of mine who is an acupuncturist. in my utter desperation, i asked if she worked with psoriasis patients. she said no (which was great cause i hate needles.) but she worked with a Chinese herbal doctor who did. i told my friend i would set up an appointment soon, and she told me to stop eating dairy, shellfish, fried foods, and spicy foods. what kind of a friend would tell another friend something so rude and so hurtful? it's like she wanted me to die or something.

so i met the Chinese doctor and she gave me some insanely disgusting herbs that i had to drink twice a day for two and a half weeks. she would have given me more, but i didn't want to keep paying a ton for the herbs (cause of course, our insurance only covers western medicine and doctors. you know- the stuff that didn't work for me even a little bit.) she gave me some advice when i walked out of her office with my magic bag of herbs: eat organic vegetables. that's it. i was thinking this woman was a sadist and definitely wanted me to die. but I absolutely understood that there must be things that i was eating that were holding me back from getting better. so, i took half of her advice. i started eating vegetables. not organic ones, cause we aren't independently wealthy. but i stopped eating everything else. for a time.

that's not why i am skinny. well, a bit. but i honestly lost about 5-6 pounds after getting strep throat the first time. and since i started this insane food-restriction plan, i have only lost 1-2 pounds. i am at my ninth-grade weight though. which is weird. and just makes me want to listen to sarah mc laughlin and the notorious b.i.g.

so, i was a vegan, gluten-free, caffeine-free-ish, spicy-free, fried food-less, joyless monster for a few weeks. it was pretty awful. i have heard people say that they feel more energized and healthier after cutting out all the crap from their diets. i call major B.S. on that. i felt like crap, i was tired all the time, i needed to snack constantly, and i was ready to prostitute myself for some Mc Donalds french fries and a Starbucks latte.

i started my 'cleanse' on February 17. the only good thing about starting from scratch was that once i ate an offending food, it was clear right away. i wasn't SUPERSTRICT with my diet (as in i ate veggie burgers, which sometimes contain gluten to hold all those weird veggies together. and i chose to eat gluten for the sake of eating something that reminded me of a hamburger and a simpler time when i wasn't such a high maintenance picky eater!) in the last two months, i have very slowly phased most foods back into my diet, and in limited quantities (just to be safe!!!). the happiness has also returned to my life and eating regimen. some of my weight has returned. and best of all, most of the bumps have disappeared! but in their wake is a landscape of new, white skin, littered all over my not-white body. i kind of look like a cheetah. and that's not a good or sexy thing. but, i will take cheetah over the disaster that i used to be, any day of the week. and twice on sundays.

so. the super shallow part of me has not been blogging, or doing much of anything besides keeping the kids alive, because i have been very wrapped up, in my skin- literally, figuratively, emotionally, spiritually. but it feels so good to be on the mend- emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally.   

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.

<3 p="">
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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: