Friday, July 18, 2014

Month Fourteen - Saying Goodbye

  Last week we got some news, sooner than we had expected and not at all what we had imagined. There was no trial just a change in Bubba's case plan, he will be returning to his biological mother. The reason there was no trial was because the state did not feel they could satisfy the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) requirements. Everything leading up to the past year and everything we were told kinda just got thrown out the window. The process didn't happen the way it normally does, but I guess in the world of foster care there isn't really a normal. Now that I have had a good few days to process everything it's easier to talk about and begin to plan things out. Our case worker came over on Wednesday and I was hoping to get some specifics on how long this reunification process takes and how much time we will have to begin to say our goodbyes. Unfortunately I didn't get any answers on what the plan is, just that it is expected to be a pretty quick move. So for now we are just waiting to hear what the next step is.

  We have already begun to feel the process of grief since the day we found out he was leaving us. It's hard right now not knowing what the plan is because I want to be able to make this a healthy transition for all four of us and being in the limbo stage makes it rough. The toughest part was initially telling Ivy and holding her as she wept at the reality of losing her brother. I have been constantly amazed at her open and loving heart towards the little guy and I am so thankful that they bonded so easily. Some good news is that Bubba has two biological siblings that are both around Ivy's age and they will also be reunited with their mother. We are trying to do our best to stay positive and find the good in this situation. More than anything we really want Bubba to be loved in his new home and we hope and pray that is the case.

  There have been so many reminders the past week that God is in control. I LOVE reading each day from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest and the subject from July 16th was "The Concept of Divine Control." I want to share a few quotes from this day that have stuck with me and this situation. "Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, 'My heavenly Father knows all about this!' Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God's will is behind it. Therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him." Thank you Jesus for this truth.

  It's been good for me to find stories on blogs and websites of families who have also gone through this process of saying goodbye to their foster child. Knowing we are not alone in this and getting ideas of how to make these last days special has been very important. I have begun to make a bucket list of sorts of the things we want to do together as a family before Bubba joins his new one. I have also began to finish his life book which is something we were told to do in our foster care licensing classes. I started making this photo book online from the moment I started taking pictures of his two-week-old little self because there was always the possibility of him leaving us and I want him to have pictures of his time with our family. I think it will also be great for his biological mom to see that he was truly loved in our home and that's also the purpose of this book which will be packed with his other items he will be taking to his new home. It will be therapeutic to finish the book for Bubba and to have one of our own to keep, remembering the good times is so important.

  We would appreciate your prayers for this sweet boy, his new home and future, and for our family as this big change takes place. God knew this was going to be the outcome from the start and I see so many wonderful and life changing possibilities in it. God is good and this time with Bubba has been SO good. We will forever be changed because of him and he will always be a part of our lives. We are going to make our last few days together as joyful as possible.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ella 6 Months

Little miss Ella is now half way to her first year and it was fun to photograph her cuteness last weekend. Her big sister Anneliese loves to play and laugh with her baby sister and it was adorable to see them interact. Enjoy the pictures!

Half way through the session the family did a little outfit change to show their sporty side.

A little cooling off was a great way to end the shoot.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Month Thirteen

We've been blessed with another full month with our Bubba. With the severance trial drawing near (next week and no sign of a date change) every day feels like a gift. We really have no idea what to expect as far as the outcome of the trial so we are just praying that whatever happens, this little boy will be loved and completely cared for wherever he ends up. Of course we want him to stay in our home and call him our son but that is completely in God's hands. We might not get any news from the judge for a few months after the trial so until we know anything we will keep on loving this boy and living as a family of four.

It's been a year and a month since Bubba came to live with us and the room he has been in has always been the foster baby's room. Well, I got tired of that and decided that it needed to become Bubba's room. So I've slowly started to add little boy things to make it his. He loves his little reading corner, board books are some of his favorite things. And every time I walk in his room and see his Mickey ears from our Disney trip I can't help but smile:)

He has started showing interest in little toy cars (loves this one green truck) so we got him a car rug, he loves it!

This is the bear Ivy made Bubba for Christmas from Build-A-Bear, he likes to give it kisses when the mask is off. Ivy insists that the mask must stay on...:)

Bubba has begun to explore the house and has recently started climbing up the stairs, Ivy is a great spotter. This is the kids' attire most of the time we are in the house, it's how we deal with the heat, all you Arizonans understand:).

This guy is officially done with bottles! I am so proud of him and the way he has easily transitioned with every new stage, he's a great baby...I mean toddler!

I love catching him sitting this way, I remember when Ivy used to do it.

And of course I have to share Ivy's most recent portrait of her brother. Gotta love the over exaggerated length of hair and ears. 

Fort building in the Bubb's room has been a reoccurring summer activity. Both kids think it's the best.

And lastly, thought it was time for a bump update:) I am officially half way through this pregnancy and it's seriously flying by! We recently got to see our little one squirming around during an ultrasound and we have decided to not find out the gender until the baby is born. It's actually been really fun not knowing and just day dreaming about what it would be like to have a boy or girl join our family. With so much going on with the other two kiddos I feel like this baby will be here in no time!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Meet Baby Ayden

This cute little guy was just one week old when I got to meet him and take his pictures. He is one beautiful baby with a head full of dark hair! I am so happy for Matt and Melissa and big sister Alayna. Congrats on the new addition to the family!

Such a sweet thing to see these two siblings together.

Love baby Ayden's dark locks:)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Month Twelve

This month we have celebrated so many things. Baby boy (last time I will call him baby!) had his first Birthday! We had a fun little family gathering at Joe's Farm Grill to celebrate him and I'll never forget the love that was felt for him that evening. A few weeks after his Birthday we celebrated the one year anniversary of the day Bubba came to our family! It's amazing what can happen in twelve months and we are so thankful the little guy has been with us this long. 

We recently got back from a family vacation to California. We were so very happy that Bubba could come with us on this trip! We celebrated my brother Brady's wedding the first day we arrived in Pine Valley which is where my parents live and were Brady and his new wife Shannon chose to have their ceremony and reception. It was a beautiful time and they are one adorable couple.

My two handsome boys.

So right before family pictures began Bubba fell and busted open his lip and soon after Ivy ran into a table and a nice-sized bruise showed up... I just had to laugh! This is a shot taken before the bruise became visible but you will notice it in the coming pictures:)

My sister and her family came for the whole week from Nashville. It was great to spend time with them because we don't get to see them too often. Ivy and her cousin Rock are just a few weeks apart and they played so well together! And little miss Ever is a cutie pie.

Pine Valley is Ivy's favorite place in the world to visit. The camp is so much fun for her to explore and she spent much of her time finding bugs and putting them in her bug house. One day she collected about 50 or so lady bugs with the help of her Uncle Haddon.

Having most of my 8 siblings around during the trip meant there was always a hip to hold the little ones.

We spent two of our days at Disney which was just so great! This was Ivy's fourth trip and Bubba's first.

On our way back to Pine Valley from Disney we just had to stop at the beach so Bubba could see the ocean for the first time. He was captivated by the waves. It was a hot day and we had just spent two full days out-and-about so he just stayed long enough to watch a bit and put his feet in the water which he enjoyed.

Ivy, on the other hand, could have stayed the whole day. She just loved collecting sea shells and she did find a nice little collection to take home.

One of our last days in Pine Valley just so happened to be Ivy's 5th Birthday so she got to have a "My Little Pony" party. If you don't know much about My Little Pony then you must not have a daughter :) This new generation of the show is all the rage in Ivy and her friends' little world. 

And the big surprise cake, she was pretty happy!

And lastly, we recently shared this month that we are going to have a baby! Little Norton is expected to arrive this November and we are all so thrilled! I am now into my second trimester and am thankfully getting past the nausea and all the other not so fun things you have to endure at the beginning. We can't wait to expand our family and are excited for all the new changes in our lives.