Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The snack fairy cometh....

I have this friend my kids like to refer to as the snack fairy. Since not long after P & L came to stay with us she just started showing up intermittently with Costco size snacks for us. Usually several different kinds and most of the time not opened already by her boys. lol (there was one incident, maybe two...but in a year that is pretty good odds) It is always at the perfect time when I desperately need to go to the grocery. And I have never asked her to bring them and she has never asked what she can do. She just saw the need and filled it. Love that about her!

Anyway, this friend is one of those friends who you wish you could spend more time with, the kind that you really could see every. single. day. and not get tired of. She is witty and smart and faithful and frank and so is her sister and I really just love her and her sister:) She is busy with her life and I am busy with mine and our journeys have been different but because of our faith and how we handle struggle, through prayer and inappropriate laughter, we just are dear friends. I love that she can stop by totally unannounced and see me in my 'cleaning clothes' and love me anyway. In fact, my children were literally climbing the doorways this past stop and she doesn't even act like she notices. Then again, she may not, she does have 3 boys! She will sit at the table or lean on my island and push the dried up cheesestick out of the way and she will pet my smelly dog and laugh with me or hug me or just 'be' in my loud crazy home with me and has a way that makes me feel like it's normal. I love that about her.

I love that she shares her life with me and we can talk about the insanity of our lives or the latest reality television show or the unfortunate choice of cosmetic surgery some starlet has made or our deep to your toes faith in God. She lifts me up. Always. I hope I am that kind of friend to someone. I pray she knows she is that for me. And someday, someday we will have time to sit and talk and talk or road trip and visit without interruptions and no telling what trouble we might get into together....we'll drag her sister along with us whether she likes it or not.

But until then, I relish my little drop bys from her. She is that kind of friend.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The end of the JoJo era....

JoJo has been here for three weeks tomorrow and he will go home to his Mommy. He is very excited. We are going to miss him but are excited for him. I think some of us are more ready than others....the five year old population doubled in the house and I'm not sure the original five year old is diggin' that. His mother has been loving and kind and called to check on him often. I was able to take he and his siblings to see her in the hospital and meet their new baby brother. She was so nice and appreciative. I try not to judge the situations or put my own quality of life stamp on things. I am happy for him to be with her again. I pray that our 'friendship' continues and we are able to be a support and encouragement to them. In JoJo's nighttime prayers this week he asked that he never forget his new friends or Jen and Trevor. He thanked God for this place. He told God he was excited to go home. Just a perfect little prayer. A special little guy. I'm so glad we got the chance to love him. So, I'm back to only five kids tomorrow. What will I do with all my spare time?! :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In search of the elusive runner's high....

Today I ran and finished my first 5K! The runner's high still eludes me but finishing was the goal and finish, I did. My runner's group and I started in the back of the pack mainly because we were talking and didn't really realize they were starting the race. I had the cutest and one of the only cheering sections in the race. My parents met my husband there will all six of the kids and each of them held a sign. "Mom rocks" "Moms da bomb" Even little JoJo held one saying "Jen's the best" The best part was I saw them three times and they boosted everyone around me's spirits too! My oldest was at a sleepover and decided not to come but woke in the middle of the night and told the girl's mom she wanted to be there for her momma this morning. I loved that she made that choice on her own. The sweetest girl! So there were all my babies and my hot husband and my cute parents cheering me on and looking so proud! Love it!

I think this now makes me a runner.

So if you have never ran a 5K and plan to, let me give you some tips that I learned through my run or through my friend's experiences today.....friends that shall remain nameless.

Jen's top ten list of lessons learned at her first 5K

1.)Pin your bib number on your shirt while standing and looking at a mirror. If you try while sitting in the car on the way, you will not be able to see under your boobs or you may poke the pin into your muffin top.
2.)The person speaking over the microphone will call you athletes, it's okay to chuckle.
3.)There will be bagels after your race but there will be no toaster or cream cheese.
4.)If you have had more than one child or are over the age of 30 it is best to use the facilities before the race or it may be more of a 5P (if you know what I'm sayin')
5.)It is okay to use the cups of water to pour over your head like your 7 year old does at soccer. You will look ridiculous but you will feel cooler.
6.)There will be 13 year olds that pass you and the urge to trip them on mile 2 will come but you must fight it.
7.)There will be women with make up on. Again, no tripping.
8.)Strangers will become your friends and cheer you on and it will help immensely.
9.)If you are the biggest in your group, do not stand by the smallest in your group while taking pictures. just saying.
10.)Set a goal. Mine was to not walk at all. Maybe it's a time but set a goal and have fun!!! Okay, it won't be fun but you will feel good that you did it!

Having some friends to do this with has made all the difference for me. They held me accountable and made it fun and were so encouraging and motivating!

In my spirit of authenticity....
The official results are in. Turns out I am not a runner, I am evidently a jogger.
My time was 36:25. The average time was 32:28. There were 980 runners and I places 710th. (insert stifled laughter here) I had a friend that has been running for years and is about 50 pounds lighter and she ran it in 24:09!!!! But, the devil of comparison will not get my chunky jogging butt down! I've only been running, well jogging, for 8 weeks and I beat 270 people today and that is the way I will look at it:) It took my kids a bit to understand that I wasn't trying to win that I was just trying to finish the race and survive. As they were walking to the car my son turns to me and says "Mom there are still people running. You did great!" I wonder if he gets that those people still running on the walk to the car....they are the ones that are motivating...they won so much today. How cool is that?!

The jogger.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

When I was in the card section today it hit me how many card selections there were that spoke of 'you're like a father to me' or similar sayings. I think it is a telling tale of the time we live in and it makes me that much more greatful for my husband and my dad. It makes me that much more greatful for my heavenly Father. I have always loved to watch my husband with our children, from the first one that first time to each goodnight kiss. The gentleness he shows makes him so strong. The way he laughs with them or encourages them or guides them and loves them is a sight to behold. But, then I saw him love someone else's children....long before they were ours. Then I saw him welcome others into our home and love them and encourage them and guide them and laugh with them and it literally takes my breath away. I have been blessed. He was blessed with his father as an amazing example. My daddy showed me what a real man looked like and I am forever greatful that they all love our Heavenly Father. It is why they are who they are. It is why they are the best group of men I know. I don't think you realize how much a father means in your life until you see someone without one or with one that was hurtful or didn't get the magnitude of what Daddy means. I watch as these kids that have never have a daddy long to sit in Trevor's lap, run to the door when he comes home and wrestle and climb and high five. I watch as this man God sent me opens his arms wide, loves with a deep sincerity, and leads our family with grace. He is humble and God seeking and the man looks fine;) The best decision I ever made, the single greatest choice I ever made was to choose this man as the one who would be the father to my children. He is simply the best. Happy Father's Day Trevor.....from all of us!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beware the bunkbed!

Today at the pool, a little boy about the age of 7 comes up to me and asks, "Did you bring a school?" It was hilarious. I just laughed and said no, they're all mine and one friend. Just expanded his little world:) He'd really freak if he heard the latest!

We are getting a visitor for the weekend. Just a short placement. I think she will come on Thursday and leave on Sunday evening. JoJo's sister will be staying with us for a few days until her next placement is ready for her. What?! It's his sister!!! And we have bunkbeds:) I would keep her for the entire time except our van isn't big enough for me and the kids. I really need an 8 seater;( So, if you don't see me out and about, you know why. If you see any contest for a conversion van or suburban, sign me up!! We'll be having dance parties at home for a few days and swimming in the little blow up pool and dancing in the rain. That's how we roll. I am excited for him to see her. He talks about her a lot. Grace is happy to get someone over 3 ft. tall. I think she is 8 or 9. The coolest thing is that I lined up her next placement with a dear friend and she will come here when the parents are working and can see her brother. This little girl already has a relationship with this Safe Familiy mom because she was her school counselor at one point. So cool to see God at work in this family's life and to see the body of Christ reaching out to them.

A runner's tale.

Week eight of the Couch to 5K running program and all is well. I told myself if I stuck with it for six weeks I would allow myself new real running shoes. I got them this weekend. I ran with them for the first time last night and with my new very cute running shirt. I looked the part. It was the first time in this running adventure that I felt like a runner instead of a poser. I pictured myself like this photo with the beautiful stormy sky in the backdrop and my hair blowing in the wind. Yes I know my hair is only about 3 inches long but just go with me here. I didn't look like this. All that visualizing yourself is half of it stuff is garbage. I was brought back down to earth swiftly.

I didn't start my run until about 9:45 at night because of storms moving through the area. I went with my two dear friends that have me beat by at least 20, probably 30 pounds and that are always at the front of our running group while I bring up the rear. I was thinking, like I'm sure you would have been too, that I would be faster this night. I had my new shoes on, isn't that what you've been told your entire life and have chanted as a child since the new tennis shoes come home from the store. All of my children told me I would be faster. That is the last time I trust those little people. Plus I looked half way cute in my little running outfit. Had to be a great run!

I nearly died. It was only about four steps into the run that I realized my new shoes were making me run differently and I'm sure properly but that meant my legs were using muscles that they hadn't been using for the past seven weeks and for the first time my entire legs were crying out to me to stop from shin to hips. About a mile in ****TMI alert*** my body decides it needs to function in a way you don't want it to function on a 3 mile run. To add to my predicament, my very cute top was great for cuteness but not so great for breathability and although the evening was kind of cool, the humidity was not and I soon began to feel like I was going to have heat stroke and no one would know it because my skinny and way faster running partners were about a 1/4 mile ahead of me and it was too dark to see me if I hit the pavement. So the darkness of the night and the instinct for survival had me peeling my cute new shirt off and gasping for air. Instant relief. I started back up my tortoise pace and a glare from a passing car nearly blinded me as it hit my pastey white stomach that hasn't seen the light of day for a decade. I could just see the headlines.....chubby very white runner causes accident on Hazel Dell road in Hamilton County. So on went the cute shirt which has now turned ugly in my mind. I had to walk a few paces four different times and nature reminded me that I am still a poser. Fancy shoes or not.

I did survive though. It wasn't pretty but I survived. I finished a few minutes after my friends and they were telling me how great I did and that my hair looked cute even though it was soaking wet and sticking to my head with my bangs pulled back in a bobby pin. (dont' hate) I felt good that I had done it. Felt good that instead of a Dairy Queen run I was meeting these awesome women for a run and I felt even better that cute or not, runner or not, skinny or not, God has surrounded me with amazing friendships in my life and we sat in the parking lot and laughed about my body trying to function and encouraged one another in how far we've come in just a few short weeks and I felt a great sense of gratitude that I had lived to tell the tale.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

You're just gonna feel a pinch.

This morning I started the day with a run. It was so humid that it just sucked the energy right out of me. Seriously felt like I was breathing in air with concrete mixed in. When I got home I layed on the family room floor and started to drift off to sleep, in the middle of the chaos that is our life. As my thoughts began to get hazy I hear a little voice say, “we are going to have to cut off all her body parts. I’m so sorry, mam.” I peeked an eye open to see ‘Dr. Rubens and Dr. Gellen’ with their ‘scalpels’ in hand. One fashioned from a pick up stick and one a stylus from a Nintendo DS. These two beautiful little girls ages 3 and 5 proceeded to ‘cut’ each of my fingers off, followed by my arms and legs. Before I knew it, my running shoes and socks were being peeled off of me and off went the toes and the feet at the ankles. Just I thought I should maybe check into counseling for the giggles that were coming from these children as they dismembered their mother, I hear Dr. Gellen, the leader of the operation, say “next is her head.” My fears of therapy bills were soon diminished as the sweetest little kiss was planted on my nose before the pick up stick turned scalpel sliced my neck and and my head was pulled off by four little hands. I layed there still the entire time. Completely exhausted and oddly relaxed in the middle of my bizarre surgery……until the DS stylus was inserted into my nostril ‘by accident’ and my sinuses were nearly pierced. Time to get up and get going before someone loses an eye.

Friday, June 11, 2010

All is well. Really.

Day three with our new placement and all is well. This little guy is a total sweetie and is fitting in great. He is all boy and has lots of questions and stays very busy but listens to instructions and is so friendly and funny. It is way different going from 3 to 5 than 5 to 6. This seems easy:) I think the main difference is that I know this little guy will be going back to his momma and that she is doing what she needs to do to learn how to be the best mom she can be. She seemed very nice on the phone and was appreciative and kind. I already love this little guy and so do the kiddos. The best thing since he has stayed has been that he was crying himself to sleep at night at his prior placements but since he’s been with us hasn’t! I am so glad he feels comfortable……or maybe we’ve just worn him out and he doesn’t have any energy left!!

He has a great smile and offers it willingly to anyone passing by with a big hello. At dinner the first night he offered to pray and said a great prayer thanking God for our day, “something and everything” and it was so cute. When we all went to pray at night he immediately closed his eyes and bowed his little head. I still remember it taking weeks to teach P and L the nighttime prayer routine!

He’s a good eater just like the rest of them. Yesterday we went through an entire pack of poptarts, a few eggs, a few pancakes, four bowls of cereal, a container or cottage cheese and lots of milk and juice, eight pb&j sandwiches, two pounds of strawberries, an entire box of cheez it crackers, a 3 pound meatloaf, two boxes of family size mashed potatoes, a gallon of green tea and one and a half bags of family size broccoli! Throw in six popsicles and a gallon or more of water and I think we’re close to the daily consumption around here! Don’t even get me started on sunscreen and toilet paper How do the Dugger’s do it? Oh yeh, they are making the big bucks with that little show they have.

It’s funny, I do think I understand their slightly warped way of thinking. When you have five you begin to think, what’s one more? I am quite sure that I will not think that after six (don’t worry honey, I promise:)God made this transition happen with this momma’s one vice…the internet… broken down. Very funny, God.

The fact is that we have love to offer a child that needs it. We have support and encouragement to offer a mom that needs an example of family in her life. We don’t have the fancy. We don’t have the stuff. We never will. We have more than that. When you can let that all go….and sit on your slipcovered twenty year old couch and watch your 13 year old television in your family room that badly needs carpet…..when you can let that all go….it is so amazingly freeing. I know our priorities don’t look like most. I know our priorities don’t look like the worlds. We chose that. We chose this full of love and full of children home over the full of stuff life. I am so glad we did. That is not to say you can’t have both. Many do. It just hasn’t happened like that for us. And the day I welcomed contentment was the day I felt free.

In the past few days we have been to the pool and to visit friends and cut up our apple tree that didn’t survive the storm. We have weeded the garden and played on the swingset and watched movies and played wii. We have brushed many little teeth and given lots of baths (too bad the pool doesn’t count for that) and wiped lots of faces and broken up a few arguments and one little almost turned physical brouhaha. We have cooked and cleaned and made a pretty smooth transition. I will say that the support, prayers and encouragement from others is so great. I know we couldn’t do this if we didn’t have that.

One of the best things this has provided us so far, is a look into how far Logan has come. This little one reminds me so much of my little Logan walking through the door with the same insecurities and defenses and the inclination to melt down at the slightest inkling that things may not go exactly your way. Wow! What a difference a year makes.

(Since my writing this...a friend showed up at our door unannounced with a boatload of groceries. She has five children of her own. This is what I mean when I say how blessed we are and how I couldn't do this without that. I love it when the body of Christ shows up.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Sometimes God calls us to crazy. I know that now. I am in this world but not of this world. I claim God's world view and to many people that often makes me appear a bit,

Tomorrow we will be welcoming a five year old boy into our home for a short (2-3 week) placement with Safe families. I can't say alot because of confidentiality but his momma is about to have a baby and they don't have the support they need. It's funny but I first heard about this family a few months ago and it seems that God has been trying to put this family in our path for sometime. I am hoping it is an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to this family and to build trust and establish a relationship that will continue forever. I am hoping that we can become the family they need to support and encourage them. We all need that. Everyone deserves that and God intends for us to be in relationship with one another.

I got the call this evening around 7:40. Talked to Trevor and asked him what he thought and he said he was fine with it but I would be the person around the most and it was up to me if I thought I could handle it. I went for my run at 8:00 and prayed about it and it made me keep getting slower, my talking with God. I still wasn't sure but just felt like who am I to tell God that this would be hard. Wasn't it hard for him to have nails in HIS hands? To die for me? To forgive me for all my failures and messups and who am I to tell Him no. Who am I to tell this mom no. I have the room. I have the love but no. It'll put a cramp in my style. We'll have to take two cars everywhere. How will I take six kids to the pool or the zoo or the movie? How could I tell this child no. I couldn't. I won't. "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:5

So, welcome little man. I called Safe Families back at 9. We will be happy to love on you and encourage you and we hope to be able to build a relationship with your family so that we can continue to show you all the love of our Jesus. I cannot wait to meet you tomorrow and learn who you are.

Sometimes God calls us to crazy. Crazy looks good on me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

In HIS time

So today was not the day. I think God knew Ava needs her birthday to herself!:)It's a bummer but I am hopeful and feel God's peace in all of this. It was disappointing and I cried and layed on the couch for a power nap while Trevor picked up the kids from our friends. I had my moment of self pity and have moved on. I think it's just frustrating to me that MOM is still in control. But it's not about her or's about P and L and they are good. They are very very good.

When the summons for court was served to her she would not answer the door so they taped it to her door. Then they sent her a copy in the mail as well and she wrote undeliverable on it and sent it back. I think she knows the system well. The judge wants to protect the court and us and have us put notice in the paper for the next court hearing. He was very kind and told us if she doesn't show on the 13th of July that he will be signing the adoption decree that day and we don't even need to come if we don't want to. So it looks like we'll set our sights on the 13th of July.

God has had us in the palm of HIS hand in each moment of the past year and I felt HIS presence with us today and was encouraged by HIS words that you all reminded me of. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. We are completely confident in the plans God has for our family and in HIS perfect timing. What a celebration it will be! Now, I've got a new five year old to celebrate and we are trying out her very own new makeup!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This is it!

Okay ya'll, tomorrow at 2:00 is our adoption hearing. If you are a prayer warrior, fall flat on your face and plead on our behalf. If you are not a praying person, what better time to start?! :)

Our attorney is hopeful that it will be quick and over with with. I am nervous that MOM will come and I will nervously puke in the courtroom. But most of all, I am anxious to leave there knowing that P and L will forever and always be ours and I am looking forward to hugging and kissing them with abandon and tucking them in officially as their mommma. I am awaiting the feeling of freedom that not worrying about losing them will hold. I am excited to feel lighter. I am hopeful that the legal system will match our hearts definition of what our family is. I am hopeful that I will finally be the mother of five!

This is what this whole thing has brought us too. This is the culmination of a year of having my heart in two little people's bodies walking around outside of me. This past year is what happens when you tell God to break your heart for what breaks his, to open your eyes so you can see it and to use you. This past year has been the most difficult and most wonderful of my life. It is amazing to be in the center of God's will for your life. I highly recommend it.

2:00 tomorrow. Praying. To be continued.....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My sweet Ava will turn 5 on Monday...the same day as the adoption hearing. I don't want her to get lost in the shuffle so wanted to celebrate her with a posting of her own!

Since the child was born she has been SPUNKY! You've heard of the spirited child, right? Well times that by about ten and you have my Ava. She is full of life. She is one of a kind and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it. We joke that her determination and fiestiness will either make her the first female president or an inmate! She can do absolutely anything she sets her mind too. She is breathtakingly beautiful and has a heart for people who are hurting. She often will cry for her grandpa in Jamaica that she misses or for an area that has expereienced some kind of natural disaster or struggle. She prays for her grandpa and his caregivers every single day and often for children who have less than she has.

The past year she has had the biggest adjustment of not being the baby anymore and having to share mommma's lap with not one, but two other little ones and she has done a fabulous job of it. Not to say she hasn't had her "I am Ava hear me roar" moments but she has been a trooper.

She is intensely shy at times but wants to branch out. I'm sure that is something we'll see as she starts school in the fall. She loves to wear dresses and makeup but will hold a frog and wrestle a boy to the ground in an instant. She laughs easily and dances to the beat of her own drum and I am so thankful for her heart and her SPUNK. She is a true joy!

My Ava doesn't know how beautiful she is and doesn't know how funny she is and she has no real idea of how smart or athletic she is. She is just now starting to discover how much Jesus loves her and it is my prayer that she will feel that to the core of her soul. Happy Birthday Ava! Five is going to rock. Kindergarten here we come!