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. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Charlotte 6 Months

I just love the Lindeen family! The last time I took pictures of these four miss Charlotte had just arrived and was a tiny little thing. Now she is six months old and just as cute and cuddly as can be! It's been awhile since I have done an actual family shoot and it was nice to jump right in and remember how much I enjoy it. Once life settles down a bit for my family I might just open up some session times after the new year, will keep everyone posted. 

Big brother Cooper was such a sweetie with his little sister. The second shot where she is grinning as he kisses her, oh goodness!

Those chubby baby rolls, just the best!

Happy six months baby girl, you are beautiful!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Saying Goodbye Part Four

  We have almost hit the two month mark since finding out that Bubba would be leaving our family and I "think" we finally have some direction on how things are going to move forward. I found out that the new ICWA unit case worker was assigned this week and just in time for her to make it to court. Yesterday there was an emergency placement hearing which I didn't know about until six days before it happened. This hearing took place because the tribe wants Bubba and his siblings moved to family on the reservation before they go back to their mom but their mom does not want them moved until they go back to her. Nothing was officially decided at the hearing but I did hear from my old case worker who was also there, she said that the new case worker would like Bubba to be reunited with his mom within the next two months. Until then they will be looking for a home that can take in Bubba and his two siblings so they can live all together. Not sure if that is a Navajo family they are looking for or not. If they can't find a home for all three kids then they will consider having the kids moved to the reservation until their mom gets them back. I really am not sure how long they will look for a home to take all three kids but it sounds like that seems to be important to have them all living together before they go back to their mom.

  It was nice to get some info and I am hopeful that this time what we are told is actually the plan. I am anxiously waiting (trying patiently) to hear from the new case worker so we can talk face to face about it all instead of me just hearing from someone else. If what I was told is the case then really Bubba could be leaving us any day now if they find a family to take all three kids or decide to move them to the reservation.  If they do find a family I have no clue how quickly they would move the kids, a week, a few days after we find out?? There is still also the possibility that he won't leave us until he goes back to his mom. Even though we got some news there is still no definite answer, so we wait...

  I wasn't originally going to share this news because it still gives no answers. I was thinking that maybe it could be getting redundant that I share things but then nothing happens. After talking with my sister about it this morning I realized that there are many people on this journey right along with us. Many of you who have graciously prayed for Bubba and his situation and have done tangible things to help our family during this time. So many of you do care and want to be in the loop. So I decided that I would share after all. And for those of you who are considering becoming foster parents I hope it is helpful that I share these things. Getting a feel for the system and all the waiting around you get to do is something I would have really liked to hear about from other foster parents. Thanks to all of you who are in this with us and please pray now that wherever Bubba and his siblings end up going next that it is a loving environment.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Month Fifteen - Saying Goodbye Part Three

  Well, I am not sure how many more parts there will be to the tagline "Saying Goodbye" on my posts because it is looking like things are for sure going to be dragging out now. I'm going to keep it though because it will be interesting to look back and see how long this process actually took. For now your guess is as good as mine.

  I quickly finished Bubba's life book in July after we were told he would be leaving rather soon because I wanted to make sure he would have it to take with him to his new home. Guess I will just have to print out additional pictures that I have taken and will continue to take before he leaves. The picture I chose for the front of the book is my favorite of him as a newborn taken just a few days after he came to our family as a tiny two week old. Sure wish I could show you the whole shot!

  Like I had said in my last post, I take lightly now what my case worker tells me. The latest update was that the paperwork still has not been received by the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) unit so our case worker is still in charge. Originally I was told we should get the new case worker around August 22nd. We won't be getting the ICWA case worker until the paperwork has been received AND thirty days have passed. Not sure why it is taking so long to get the paperwork through and also not sure why there is the thirty day rule. I am assuming nothing will really happen until the case is in the ICWA unit and we have the new case worker, so that could be another month plus. I'm amazed at how long just about everything takes in the system but I am also learning to get used to it. Once again, there is nothing we can do about it so we wait patiently. 

  At first I felt like a quick transition would be the best for our family and for Bubba. I remember thinking and telling my mom when we were in the thick of it that it's good in a way that we don't have to drag this out and we can begin to heal once he is gone. Well... here we are and that didn't happen! But what am I suppose to say really? I do try to find the good in every situation and now ours has changed. So, I am grateful that we get to have Bubba with us for an unknown amount of days/weeks/months. I am grateful that God has given us the peace and patience that we really need right now. I am grateful that Bubba is at such a fun stage at the moment and we would have never been able to experience him like this if he had gone when we thought he was going to. I am grateful that even though we are left in the dark again I don't feel stressed about it and God keeps reminding me that he is still in control. 

  We sing this song (The Lord Our God) at church and the last time we did the words in one of the verses stayed on my heart and they have given me peace... 

"In the silence, in the waiting, still we can know you are good.
All your plans are for your glory, yes we can know you are good."

  I've been asked a few times now if we will continue to foster once Bubba leaves. Jake and I have both been very sure in the fact that we will. We will be taking a break because of our new baby expected in November and then we will just wait and see from there. We will keep renewing our license until we decide to get back on the list. I really don't have a timeline as to when we would be open to another foster child because it depends on a few things. Even though it's been a rocky road this first time around being foster parents there have also been parts of it that have been a lot smoother than we could have imagined. Bubba has been a very easy going baby with no medical or other issues and I know that is not typical with a foster child. He has been an amazing sleeper since one month old and that is also not the norm. Everything about him being in our home has been really great and I think I can even say really easy. Learning about the system and dealing with everyone involved has been the tough part but I think that it's also because this is our first time getting used to it. Now that we have experience things won't be as surprising the next time around but we will have to prepare for a more challenging time at home because I think any child will have more issues than our little guy, because he has had zero:) Thanking God for that.

  Now that Ivy is going to Kindergarten I have had a lot of one-on-one time with Bubba the past few weeks. It's been so fun to grow our relationship as he is growing in his little personality. Here are just a few shots of the little/big guy at home.

This boy sure has a good arm! He's gotten so good at throwing a ball recently. Love these three next shots, typical daddy/Bubba play time routine.

Recently Bubba has been climbing into his bucket of books then getting stuck, he cries until one of us comes and gets him out. Well just seconds after I took this picture he climbed out all by himself, I was so proud:)

My brother Evan and sister-in-law Amber had us over to their place last weekend for swimming and a BBQ. Their sweet dog Jilly was so patient with the kids, she hardly even moved a muscle even with all the fur pulling and sitting on that she endured:)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten

Today we dropped Ivy off for her first day of Kindergarten! She was so ready for this milestone and I am a very proud momma. I can't wait to pick her up and hear all the stories she has to tell me. Ivy and I thought it was a great idea to give her teacher a nice red apple on the first day cause that's just what you do! After leaving the parking lot I prayed that God would protect her while she was away from me and that she would have such an awesome experience. I didn't feel sad, just thankful and excited. I did treat myself to a Starbucks because this is a big deal and even without the tears and sadness there were still a lot of emotions involved so I figured a treat would help and it did:)

To say Ivy was excited about her new backpack would be an understatement:) It's fun to find out what is important to her at each new stage. Last year when she went to Pre-K it was the Twinkle Toe shoes and this year it was the My Little Pony backpack with ALL the main characters on it. I was pretty happy that I actually found this while she was on her California trip. One of the first things she asked me when we got to her new school was, "Do you think there are any other pony girls here?" It was cute and I assured her there would most definitely be a few. When she went to Kindergarten boot camp  at the beginning of summer she made friends with some girls who were also fans of the show and she was happy to see some sporting similar backpacks this morning. And by the way, she has a My Little Pony lunchbox and water bottle inside the backpack as well as few MLP shirts and other accessories lined up to wear for the days to come. 

Ivy and some of her classmates lining up after the bell rang. We decided to stay until she walked to class since she was a little nervous and didn't feel like playing on the playground. She didn't cry which was awesome but she did tear up a little. I must admit, I did too watching her walk away to her classroom. It was just such a sweet moment.

And we couldn't leave Bubba out, he graduated from the diaper bag to his own little backpack!