Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Month Eighteen - Saying Goodbye Part 7 and Life With Three Kids

Life with three kiddos has so far been pretty great. It's definitely lots of work and we are super tired but there is also so much joy with a full household. Bubba's reaction to his new little brother has been so positive! Whenever we are downstairs he waddles over to the swing with a huge grin on his face and makes his little squeaky noise which means baby. He hasn't shown any signs of jealousy when Jake and I are holding Maccoy, he just smiles and points. It's been a little over a week now since Bubba came back from respite care and we are getting into a nice little routine. Ivy went through a bit of a rough patch just before Bubba came home, I think she was missing having him around. Since he has been back and we have all spent a good amount of time together everyone is doing really well.

I literally have zero updates to give concerning Bubba's case and plan for reunification. He is still not having visits (it's been over two months now) and we still do not have a date for when he will be returning to his mom. I have come to the realization that it's just going to take way longer than we have been told. At this point my mind is set on his transition taking place in the spring. I am just preparing myself for the long haul of silence so I won't be surprised if/when that happens. So this post will just be an update about our family life.

So very thankful for this smiling face whenever Bubba is around the baby. I remember thinking before the baby was born and before we knew the gender that it would be really fun to have a boy because he would be so close in age to Bubba. Of course this was also before we knew that Bubba would be leaving us sooner than we had anticipated. I would think about them growing up together and being best buds. That part of the daydreaming won't be happening but I am thankful that at this moment they do get to be together and so far they do like each other:) I haven't taken many pictures of the boys together yet because Bubba has had a cold since coming home and we have kept a good distance between the two. Hopefully soon the Bub will start feeling better and can hold his brother for the first time.

Ivy has been a great helper and big sister. Having a brother was just what she hoped for and it has been so sweet to watch the two of them bond. This is pretty much what she does every day after school, asks for some cuddle time with the baby.

There has been a good amount of coffee drinking going on in our home lately! We have a picture almost exactly like this one from when Ivy was a newborn:) I don't know what I would do without Jake. He has taken on the role of getting Bubba ready in the morning so I can get Ivy ready for school and take care of Maccoy. He also does all the diaper changes at night. I love him and am one lucky wife!

We have also been super blessed from all the help we have received from family. From coming over just to spend time with us and get some baby cuddle time in as well as taking the two older kids from time to time to give us a little more peace and quite. I am truly grateful! 

We have SO much to be thankful for and are soaking up this season of our life!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Maccoy's Newborn Session

The day after Maccoy was born we had a photographer come and take pictures of our family at the hospital. I am SO GLAD we decided to do this! I am thrilled with these shots and they will always be some of my very favorite. Chelsee Bingham at www.poppyseedphotographycb.com did an incredible job and I would highly recommend her. Now that I have cut back all of my previous clients should definitely book a session with Chelsee. Here are my favorite pictures from our session, I just love them!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Meet Baby Maccoy

We had a baby boy on November 3rd:) Maccoy Atwood Norton graciously decided to come early and I am thankful for it because he was a good ripe size of 9 pounds 3 ounces! It was such a fun surprise deciding to wait to find out the gender of the baby until the day he was born, I will never forget the shock and happiness I felt when my husband told me we had a baby boy. I was pretty certain I was carrying another girl, I think because this pregnancy was pretty similar to Ivy's and maybe also because I had a baby girl before so I just had a feeling we were having another one! I am so thrilled that Ivy has a brother and she is just smitten. Love these shots Jake took of her holding Maccoy for the first time. She was just so giddy and joyful.

I had Jake give me the camera so I could get a few shots of the three of them. It was the best moment ever.

I absolutely love staying in the hospital with a new baby. I remember how special it was when Ivy was born and I was really looking forward to it this time around. Of course the recovery is not enjoyable but the time you get to spend with just your new little one is priceless. We had a photographer come and get some pictures of the four of us in our room on the day after Maccoy was born and I can't wait to see them! Until then here are just a few shots I took during the few moments I put the babe down:) His little face was so red and chunky the first few days!

And here he is just before we were discharged. He has definitely lost a good amount of that brand new baby chub in the few days we have been home. We are so thankful for another safe and healthy birth and baby. Now I am going to go hold that sweet boy:)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Month Seventeen - Halloween Costumes, Saying Goodbye Part 6, and New Baby Update

I decided to get the kids in their Halloween costumes the other day so I could take some pictures, I figured I wouldn't have the energy to do this two weeks from now since I'll be full term at that point! Ivy chose to be Princess Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony, of course:) A full body pony costume is out of the question for an Arizona Halloween but thankfully that's not what we found anyway. The little figure she is holding is the character she is "dressed up as" with the sparkly dress, ears, and wings. And see all those sparkles on her hand? Yeah our house will be covered with it by the time November rolls around!

She is one happy girl dressed up as her favorite pony, although who her favorite is changes frequently.

Goodness I wish I could show you his adorable face in this costume! Bubba is going as the Ninja Turtle Michelangelo. The orange band tied around his head really makes the costume, you will just have to trust me:)

We are excited to spend Halloween this year with both kids, it's crazy that just a few months ago we didn't think we would be spending any more holidays with Bubba. Well, now it looks like we will also be spending Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas with him. It has been a little over a month since the new case worker gave me the plan and no surprise really that the plan is not going as we were originally told. Now it will be a longer time period before Bubba goes back to his mom. Two months from now (maybe???) because the past month not one thing has happened. Visits have stopped because an extension request was not sent before the parent aide was finished with the the amount of visits he was scheduled to supervise with this case. I don't know why it takes a month to get those starting up again but the timing of this is just awful. At this point Bubba should be having multiple visits with his mom every week so they can begin to bond even more, instead there have been zero. So until that begins to happen I know that we are not close to him reuniting with her. It's honestly just crazy to me that everything (and I mean everything) takes so long, and it seems to be mostly paperwork issues.

So, no progress has been made on the reunification but Bubba has started daycare and he really enjoys it. It only took him a few days to stop crying when we drop him off, and I think that is mostly because right when he gets there he gets his second breakfast:) I feed him a little something before Jake takes him and then he eats right when he is dropped off which he loves of course! Now with his new schedule he is only taking one nap a day which has been a bit of a struggle (because as you know this boy loves his sleep) so he ends up going to bed pretty early without a fuss because of it. It's been nice to be able to relax with Ivy at school and Bubba at daycare since my energy level is very low these days. It has also been good for me to transition from being Bubba's full time caregiver to letting someone else do it part time since that is what is ultimately going to happen, except he will be gone for good.

Lastly, an update on the new baby! My goodness look at that belly (and this was a week ago...). Baby is scheduled to arrive on November 13th although I would welcome anytime earlier at this point:) I am extremely warm at all times and it is supposedly due to the extra fluid in my belly. My doctor doesn't think the baby is too large but believes that I am carrying an extra amount of fluid which has made me pop out more than normal. I measure 1 to 2 weeks ahead at each appointment. I have pretty much spent my days indoors under a fan in order to keep my sanity. This little one has definitely been more active than I remember Ivy being, all those wonderful kicks and punches have constantly startled me becuase of how strong they are! I am extremely thankful for a healthy pregnancy (even with all the discomforts that are involved) and pray that this little one arrives soon!

We have Bubba set to be in respite care (staying with another foster family) the week our baby is scheduled to arrive. If the baby decides to come early I am thankful we have lots of family and friends who are willing to help us out. Now that we know Bubba is staying longer with us it is going to be another adjustment for him when the new baby comes. Please pray that everything goes smoothly. This poor boy has so much change coming his way the rest of this year. Our whole family does, some very exciting and some sad, but we are learning to just take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Mills Family

I recently met up with this sweet family of four to take their pictures. The last time I saw the Mills family was about a year ago after their youngest had recently arrived. Brothers Nixon and Noah are very close in age which is going to be so fun for them as they grow! My sister and I are 15 months apart and it was so great to always have a best friend around as a kid:) Brad and Annie were so awesome during the shoot getting the boys to smile and giggle. Love how these turned out!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Month Sixteen - Saying Goodbye Part Five

  Before I get into the specifics of new information we have on Bubba's situation I wanted to share some photos of the little guy with his new quilt. My husband's grandmother makes jean quilts for all her grandkids and great-grandkids and I was blown away when I found out she made one for Bubba! It has been incredible to watch both Jake's and my extended family accept and love Bubba completely. I've been humbled and blessed to see his relationship grow with many of our loved ones. I will forever treasure these pictures and be thankful that when Bubba leaves he will have this beautiful reminder that he was loved in those early times of his life.

Ivy wanted in on the action so we got out her quilt that great-grandma made for her when she was a baby and we laid it out next to Bubba's so she could sit on it for a picture. 

Oh my goodness, it is SO hard to take pictures of a sixteen-month-old! The boy never sits still, so that is all I've got:)

  I ended up contacting our new case worker a little over a week after finding out she had been assigned to us. I hadn't heard or gotten any e-mails in those seven days so I decided to reach out myself and find out if I could get some information. It turns out that just about half the time this is what I have had to do in order to know what is going on. I keep hearing how busy case workers are and that their loads are so full, maybe they just forget to keep us foster parents in the loop? At times it definitely has made me feel frustrated and unimportant. Considering that we have been his "parents" for the first 16 months of his life it just hurts at times when you are put on the back burner. Aside from those feelings I was thankful to get a quick response and a few days later an actual visit. I am very hopeful that our new case worker will really get things done and is taking Bubba's case seriously. She told me that she is very hard on the bio parents because she needs them to know she isn't kidding around and doesn't want her time to be wasted. She seems to really know what she is doing and has a plan. If all goes as she would like then Bubba will be reunited in two months with his bio mom. He will not be moved to a family member on the reservation or another foster home with his siblings before returning to his mom because she wants the transition to his mom to happen soon. She gave me a run down of how it will all happen and we talked about getting Bubba registered in daycare so he can get used to it since he will be going when he is with his mom. So, there is an actual plan now and the steps to make it happen have begun.

  This past month has been the hardest for me. Not emotionally, I feel that I am at the point where I have accepted the fact that Bubba is leaving and have been in a "lets get things going" mode. After going through the roller coaster of thinking he was leaving right away then waiting way too long to find out what the plan really is I just feel like things need to start actually happening. I think the emotional side of it will hit more once he actually leaves but right now it's more of a physical/mental struggle. I know for a fact that part of it is because I am 8 months pregnant. Everything that comes with growing a baby and caring for a toddler at the same time is a tough deal. I am beyond thankful that I have the privilege to do it, but most days I am completely exhausted. It's also been tough to mentally prepare for all the emotions that will come with the timeline we have been given for this reunification to happen. Bubba will be leaving right around the scheduled date we will be meeting our new one. It will be lots of changes all at once.  I often say to myself, "How am I supose to be feeling about it?" I don't think there is a correct answer. I know I will be completely overjoyed that we have a new baby, sad that Bubba is gone, hopeful that his new family life is good, relieved that all the waiting is over, probably guilty for feeling relieved, confused about those conflicting emotions. Goodness, that is a lot and I am sure it will be even more when it does take place. And then there is also the thought of maybe things will not go as planned and what my case worker would like to have happen doesn't end up happening. Many things are swirling in my head and I am doing my best to keep calm and just let it go. We are doing our part to prepare and now we just have to wait. Waiting, waiting, waiting, I have never had to have more patience in my life. I am sure I have said that in previous posts but really it just keeps up!

  A few days ago a good friend and I were discussing how no matter what you are waiting for in life it is hard. We have no control and it is a tough season when you are expecting or hoping for something to happen. No matter how long or short of a time period the struggle to be patient and just wanting it to happen already can be exhausting. I am so grateful to be able to turn my anxious thoughts to God when this tug of war takes place in my mind and heart. How lucky we are as God's children to have the freedom to come to Him when we are struggling to keep our sanity in times of waiting. In him I can find rest and trust whatever he has planned.