Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Monday, February 25, 2013

Court and Staircases

First of all.   Where is the freakin' snow?  Everyone RUSHING me today to GET YO' KIDS, GET YO' WIFE, GET YO' SELF INSIDE, and then ppppfffffttttttt..... Nothing.

Now, yes, if I lived in Clinton or Weatherford or Vici or Guymon, I'd be whining like a stuck pig.  But I'm in Norman, with all of Norman shut down from 2:30  on, and REALLY?  

Remember in the good old days, when we just let it snow?  And no one freaked out?  And no one got excited and cancelled everything in the town before it even got here? No one preempts your favorite shows to talk about the snow that ISN"T EVEN HERE????    I miss those days.


Went to court today with the lovelies.  They were ready to testify against their parents.  Which is HUGE.  Dad had denied any wrongdoing at the first hearing, and insisted on a bench trial.  (What a whanker).  Last time through this process, the CASA and DHS dropped the ball, and dad, doing nothing, got them back eventually.  And nothing changed for those kids.  Mom lied, kids lied, dad walked free.

But today, after dad trying all his old tricks, and just about to make me burst my gizzard, the judge called him on his crap.  And finally, for the first time in his life, he took responsibility for his actions.  He was ordered to 52 weeks of rehab and anger management.  We'll see.  And mom has to go to classes too.  I hope they are for idiots that won't leave their crap husbands.  

I'm sorry.  Just yesterday I heard Pastor Craig talking about forgiveness and not to carry anger.  

Well.  OK.  

I'm going to try.

We celebrated with McDonalds, after I had to explain to Lovely that she didn't have to go home for quite a while (It took her a minute for it to soak in).  "My daddy say this before, and not mean it" was her plaintive wail.  

But this time kiddo, you got US in your corner.

BB is through the first level of approval for placement.  We will get to level 2 & 3 tomorrow, and then should sail on from there.  

That's incredible news.  

All of that good news, then my graceful swan self, was going UP the stairs at work, when I turned around to get something I had forgotten downstairs, and turned the corner of the stairs, and my foot slipped off the step and there was no recovering from that.  I was pitching forward and sideways, and my hand grazed the wood railing on the way down, grabbing it, but then my temple and side of face stopped my fall by whamming the banister.  

It was one of my most graceful moments.  It surpassed my skirt falling off, my skirt being stapled, my fall down the stairs at the cemetery, running into the wall on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and my fall while I was mowing with my out of control, self propelled lawnmower,  but not as intense as the fall in the pool at Cancun.  

So, yes.....  I am a swan.  A graceful swan.

Now I'm sitting here, with every joint in my body aching,   Yep, I'm a keeper. 

We. Kicked. This. Day. In the FACE.

Looking forward to 52 more weeks of fostering bliss.  

God is Good.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baby Brothers and Broken Hearts

This weekend went unbelievably well.

Baby brother was in complete heaven because he was with his siblings.  Watching LB, be a considerate, playful big brother to his baby brother, was something that made your heart hitch.  Lovely was the most peaceful I have ever witnessed her, since that very tense first day when she was fighting heaven and earth to get her LB here.  With the advent of BB here as well, she was one content gal.

He ate his weight in food.  He babbled NON STOP.  (and NO, I didn't understand anything).  He went straight to bed, without a fight, and slept like a champ.  He doesn't get any "Public" outings at his present foster home, so he still experiences high anxiety when he goes anywhere.

You have to think about this.  He was taken from his home, and put in a shelter.  Then he was taken from the shelter and put in a foster home.  He is thankfully with a stay at home grandma type, but he is the "college" kid in a house of 4 fosters.  (3 babies, and him).   When I rolled him into church this morning, I was taken aback that he melted down.  And then it occurred to Hallie and I almost simultaneously, that he was having shelter flashbacks.  Though content in our home, he still hasn't had time to build any type of trust with us.  For all he knew we were going to drop him off and never be back.

So he accompanied us to church and sang worship with me, and sat still as a church mouse during the service.  Then he went to his class with Hallie (she serves in there) and had fun about 30 minutes until something set him off, and he had to leave again.

I have a hard chore here.  What is the line of spoiling and the line of being firm but fair?  I think while he is "a guest", he gets the red carpet treatment.

I fed him and the family pizza, pasta and salad at Cici's and he carb loaded so hard, he passed out the minute he felt the motor start in the car.  We played at the park, and it was time to drop him back to his foster family.

It. Sucked.

It. Broke. My. Heart.

He wasn't mad, he wasn't scared.  BB was HEARTbroken.  Which got us all near bawling.  It also made the deciding vote for me, in that I am going to do the dang thang.

I WILL get BB.  I don't care that there are rules.  I DON'T care that I am freak old.  I DON'T Care that I have no idea what he is saying.

What I DO care about is that I can change these kids lives.  I've already made strides with the older two, and BB deserves the same treatment.

And he will get it here.  I will spend this week preparing for him.  If any of you out there have a carseat/booster seat that a 40 pound 3 year old can have, I need it.  I also need clothes, Size 3T-4T.  He has no winter coat, so if you have a boy that outgrew one, I need it.  I bought him toothpaste and soap and diapers this weekend.  (He HAS to sleep in diapers, until he wakes up dry.  End.of.story.)

And I know that you guys will help me.  With your encouraging words, and your non-stop prayers, and your unexpected drops of gifts.

So, though it's all on me, I know I have all of you too.

And that will be enough.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Public Speaking

Have I shared with you guys that I am going to be speaking at Wesley United Methodist Church in Shawnee, on March 26th?  There is a ladies event that evening and I will get to share our story of Laynie.

I AM PUMPED.  And you are ALL invited.

There is nothing I like better than to share that story with a whole room full of mommies and grandmas.  It's going to be especially awesome because it will be directly the Tuesday after we do the TEAM HOPE run in El Reno on March 23.

That's a WHOLE lot of HOPE.

What's amazing to me, as I watch my last speech and prepare my words, it's so humbling to see the "Full Circle" that our family has come.

And it all traces back to Laynie.  

She changed all our lives.  For the better.  And as much as I love to blog about it, I love telling it even more.  

So, I'm PUMPED.  I'm hoping that we have a packed house, because last time I gave this testimony, there was nary a dry eye, and I got 250 hugs.  

Yep, I loved them.  Even though I'm not a hugger.  

It humbled me, and never ceases to put me in awe, of the impact that tiny baby is still having.  It's because her mommy and I will never stop sharing her story, and our friends will never stop sharing her story, and because of her precious little life, I believe there will be more people in heaven.  

That gives me peace and happiness.

Today, as I helped a 87 year young man plan his funeral, he pulled out a picture when he was about 21 years old.  He said to me,  "I would LOVE to feel that young again".  And I smiled at him, and I said,  "You will.  When you get to heaven, you are going to be in that body."  He really didn't know what to say.  I told him, "You think heaven is full mainly of old folks??  I don't think so.  I think all your wordly pains and problems are taken away, and you are made new in your best body you had on earth".  He smiled and didn't say anything.  Sometimes I say more than I should, but I love God.  And I want everyone to have the same peace I have.  I showed them a picture of Laynie, and I asked him to look for her, and give her a squeeze.  

God gave me a message, and it's my job to be bold and share it.  I wrote the book, and I'm really glad that I waited a while, because I am being led to really re-write it and bring it around full circle.  Though I'm pretty sure that circle is non-ending.  It's just an all-encompassing sweep of God's love that never ends.  

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

God is Good, All the time.  


Friday, February 22, 2013

Baby Brothers and plates of spaghetti

The kids were near manic, anticipating BB coming this weekend.

Here's what I know after 4 hours of 3 Vietnamese kids.

I an a genius at blocking out sound.

And BB is getting much better at English. (couldn't speak a word when he went into custody).. and after our little old cranky dog got all sick of him being up in his business and snapped BB on the nose, and I tossed the old cranky dog outside and the dog proceeded to stand at the back door and howl, and I yelled, SHUT UP, SCOOTER, the babbling 3 year old spoke in clear concise, SHUT UP SCOOTER.

I'm sure his current foster mom will be thrilled I'm teaching him the important things.  He knows how to fist bump, and say Lolly (Lah-ee), and can clearly burp and say "I farted."


It's going to be a very interesting weekend.

They ate so much spaghetti between the three of them, I thought I was going to have to cook up more noodles.  And bath time was so fun, I had to mop the floor.  2 boys in the bathtub may not have been my smoothest move ever, but they sure had fun.

Now if I can ever get them to sleep, it will be a miracle.

BB likes me.  He minds me without question, and if I can get everyone to sleep tonight without too much heartache, I'll call this a successful evening.

I feel your prayers, and these sweet little lovelies sure enjoy being together.

It's as it should be.  Now If I Can Get On Freakin' Board.

And not say "Stupid" in front of the mimic'ing 3 year old.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I am finally working full time again.  January was a dismal failure since I had the flu, then the stomach virus all in quick succession.

So needless to say, I made no coin.

I made just enough to supply my needs.

Then just in time for my last paycheck I sold several funerals, and actually had money to go to the volleyball tournament this past weekend.

Last week, Nothing.

At All.

I had some bites, but no one signed on the line.

I talked to my manager this morning, and as always, she gave me "The pep Talk".   "YOU can do it.  IT will happen."

I had excellent appointments earlier in the week, but for one reason or another, I couldn't get the signature on the line, which is quite necessary for my ultimate paycheck.

I was laying in bed this morning, working toward hyperventilation, when a peace came over me, and I swear I heard, "Read your bible, I will ease your fears".

It was just as clear as if he had been sitting in the room with me.

I have no idea why I worry.  God has my back.  He has always supplied every need, every second of this journey.  And when I think about it, he has ALWAYS been there.

So, I'm happy to say that at my appointment today, I had an excellent outcome.  It makes me feel sheepish that I had to escalate to panic to realize that God never fails me.

He is there.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Knee Jerk

LB fell asleep in the chair tonight watching American Idol.  When I tried to rouse him to take him to bed, he came up swinging.  He sleepwalks at night, and is terrified while he is doing it.

It kills my heart.

This sunny little boy, with such a giving, pure heart, is terrified inside.  They both have such a hard time going to bed at night.  Lovely puts blankets all around the perimeter of her bed, like a fort, and feels comfort there. LB covers his head with his pillow and piles blankets and pillows all around him.

I think a lot of things happened to these precious souls at night.

They've learned at Lolly's house, there's a whole lot of sleeping going on.  And that's about it.

I would love prayers for them, for Monday they go to court and tell the judge their side.  Last time they were in this position, they lied.  They protected their parents and lied.

This time, it's going to be OH so very different.

Also, I'll take prayers because I am going to have Baby Brother (BB), age 3, over the next two weekends to see about transitioning him here too.

I'm freak old for a 3 year old.  Unless they are a grandchild I send home when I'm done spoiling.  Then I'm not old AT ALL.

So pray for me too.  Pray for my purpose to be revealed for these kids, and BB.  I need clarity and answers for this next step.

Pray for all involved in this decision for these kids.  It occurred to me that things could go very wrong in court, and they could go home next week.  I have to believe that with the kids testimony and the players involved, that surely that won't happen.

Just pray for us, friends.  And pray for the parents to take whatever answer is given to them, they accept it and yearn to live better, and do better for their kids.

Monday, February 18, 2013

14 Rox

After Hallie grew to almost 5'10" this year at the first of her 8th grade year, she decided volleyball would be a fun thing to do. 

She really enjoyed it, and I couldn't figure out how the other middle school girls were so amazingly excellent at volleyball.  I mean, they blew our socks off our feet, they were so much better than us.

That's when I was introduced to the concept of "Club Volleyball".


Your daughters try out for teams, and they are selected, and you basically pay out your noses to have them play other teams at tournaments.

And if you are lucky enough to have a fast growing 14 year old, that is hovering on the 6'1" line, you get selected for the team they call 1's.  14-1's.  That means, this team plays other 14 year old teams, that are #1's themselves. 

It can be challenging.  But oh so much fun.

Especially when you have a team like Hallie has.

Some of the girls playing this year have played club ball before.  They can all play and get the ball over the net, but Coach explained to me, as we were driving home from Topeka (last tournament) yesterday, that his job, as Coach of 14's, other than trying NOT to have a nervous breakdown, dealing with 14 year olds, is to prepare them to play 15's, 16's, 17's, 18's and on to college.  His job is to teach them positions, and plays and how to function as a team.  When they are 11, 12, and13, they basically learned how to get it over the net.  Now, as 14 year olds, they are starting to see there is more finesse involved.

Whoa.  Who knew?  Hit, Hit, Kill.  Isn't that how volleyball works?  So, I'm learning a bunch!

I highly enjoy the moms on the teams.  And the dads.  They are all pretty funny characters, and it's so much fun to see how much each child is just like their mom. 

Especially mine.   Big ole goofball.   "That's my kid".

See that really tall one?  Even taller than coach?   That's my kid.

This cutie patootie is Mary.  She goes to Moore schools, and this is her first year for club ball.  She has a mean serve that rarely gets returned, and is so smart on her feet.  She is also the quietest, nicest kid I have ever met.  I want to tickle her neck and ribs to get her cracked up.  She doesn't think I'm funny at all.  Her mom, LeAnn does though, so that's enough for me. 

This is Destiny.  (or "D" as I call her).  She is our offensive weapon.  She's really cute too.  The girl has some guns now.  Sometimes she serves and it ends up in Hawaii.  We never even see the ball again.  I think if D could make all three hits on our side, she would.  She is so determined to win the point, I think the "D" should stand for determined.  She's a machine.  She also goes to church with us, so we have the side benefit of seeing her little fun mug outside of church, along with her mom, Lucinda.  They are just an outstanding pair.  D likes to pray before eating, and I'm honored she always includes me in that.  It makes me uber happy.  Oh, and she's in MWC, and her 3rd year (I think) in club. 

This beautiful creature is Brittany.  You think she's all dimples and blond hair, and all perfect body and fingernails, and then she serves.  Or blocks.   Or sets.  And WHOA, the girl is just amazing.  She has a certain way she serves, and I LOVE to watch her.  She bounce bounce bounces, then she holds it, takes a deep cleansing breath, throws it up, points at it with the hand she just threw it up with, and WHAM, the other team has NO idea what just hit them.  She's an amazing setter, and so smart on the court.  And she looks so good while she is doing it.  Her mom, Katy shares the same cheetos addiction I have, so it's nice to have another mom that "Gets" the need for many bags of cheetos. Brit goes to Edmond schools.  

This is Teagan (with Brittany photobombing her in the background) and she and Hal switch out Middle block.  She is a gymnast and a musician, and wins "Team Curliest hair" award.  She also has a serve that sometimes slows down when it hits Canada.  She also yells when she blocks, which makes me weirdly happy, because it upsets the other teams to have a girl jump straight up in their business and yell at them.  She is the most likely to bust out a toe touch in the middle of a game, and will be found on the sidelines, bouncing in her chair.  The girl has some energy, now, and the power to do the dang thang.  She attends Classen Arts School.  Teagan makes me happy.  so does her  mom, Fawn, because Fawn sits on a bigger pillow than I do at games.  We both share the same bad hip affliction, so it's nice to have someone "Get" the whole need for a cushion thing.
It's only right to have these two in the same picture, because they are pretty much joined at the hip.  Kylie is in yellow, and Sophie is in blue.  and NO, Soph is not wearing the wrong jersey, she is our Libero, so she gets the joy of wearing fun different shirts.    The first time I saw Sophie, I thought, Whoa, that chick is tiny, and she may be the cutest thing I have ever seen. Then she returned one of our power houses serves without even breaking a sweat, dug deep and whammed it back over (a serve that would probably send me home crying to my momma, and put me in traction for weeks on end,  if I even could ever even get it), and she's all like,  "Oh, that was nothing".  And she serves like a crazy woman, and can be three places at once.  Plus she is a comedian.  And you KNOW I love that about her.  She and Hallie are the short and tall of the club, and I love to see them stand together. Sophie has played club ball for a couple of years, and she's just a great great kid.  She looks just like her mom, Pamela, and they are matching bookends in personality, and man, I like 'em. She goes to Christ the King.
Kylie, well, Kylie can do anything.  When I first started watching them practice, I thought, WHOA, she is 14??  How can that be?  She has so much maturity, and stays so calm, it's like she is ZEN.  Her mom, Rhonda,  is the "whole foods" mom that I blogged about a few blogs back, and I always can go to them for food advice and good snacks.  Kylie is vegan, and smart, and an artistic genius (she drew the waiter on the brown paper tablecloth at Zio's, actually DREW the waiter, like, with crayons) and she's just unbelieveably talented.  It's her first year of club, but she takes it so seriously, I'm sure she'll be back.  I see her and Hallie playing club together for many years to come.  She attends the Classen Arts School (Big shocker) and she can braid hair like no other. 

And then we have Megan.  (Or May May as only I call her).  She could probably be my kid.  She is random, and funny and spacey and can serve like a freakin' machine.  She also runs like tin man (this is coming from her mom, Barb, not me) and cracks, cracks, cracks me up.  She backs Brittany on setting, and leads the team in funny comments, and keeping it light.  Megan avoids drama at all costs, and I dig that solidly about her.  Her mom and I could be soulmates.  We are so much alike in personality.  Lacey says it's like she's talking to me when she talks to Barb.  Megan played club ball last year, and goes to Christ the King, too.  She's just a doll, and I adore her little mug. 

Teagan standing ready to do some serious blocking, with Sophie in the back, preparing to serve one up.

Preparing to do battle.....

Do you think that intimidates the other team?  The tall middle that can stand flat footed and reach the top of the net?  That tall middle had 20 BLOCKS this past tournament.  20!~  Some middles don't get 20 blocks for the SEASON, much less a tournament.

She's doing fantastic and LOVES her teammates.  The moms all play together nicely, and it's so weird to have a group of so many different personalities, and everyone get along so famously.  It's awesome.  Who knew that girls from so many different schools, could come together in a short while and learn to play like a team together?  They still have issues here and there, and are learning more and more to trust each other, and just play like the fantastic players that they are. 

Using ole Hal as a pillow. 

They took 3rd in their bracket, and 7th overall this past weekend in the huge tournament they were in.  They play 5 more tournaments and then the season will be over.  Hallie is already sad about not having volleyball.  Talking to me about summer ball, and more volleyball, and college ball, and beach volleyball, and the olympics.  I'm still trying to learn positions. 

Its' a blast, and I'm so happy I have so many fun moms to share it with.  It's also very therapeutic to be able to scream my head off at games.  Sometimes I go sit at other games and just yell there too.  All very soothing. 

Club Volleyball.  Fun stuff, maynard. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentines and happy Hearts

I don't embrace Valentines Day.  

In fact, I loathe it.

As a general rule.

But this year, with the advent of two little vietnamese lovelies, I have a different outlook.

Mainly because they have NEVER been able to participate in the holiday.   EVER.  And when I bought those dorky, little stupid valentines that come in a box, it was like I had bought them real estate.



Then when I went one step further and bought those ridiculous little heart boxes of Russell Stovers to give to their teachers.....Oh My Word.

Seriously, you would think I had gotten them both ipods.

Because you see, these little wonderful children LOVE more than anything to GIVE.   Precious children that have had literally nothing, and still get overwhelmed with gratitude when I get their hair cut.

It occurred to me today, as I realize that their parent's court day is coming up, that they might (highly unlikely, but weirder things have happened), just might, have to go home.

Have I equipped them enough?  Are they strong enough to face those problems?  And all the selfish thoughts of my past months, slipped away, as I realized I am NOT ready for them to go home, because they still have so much to learn before they are pulled back into that life.  

All I can do is pray over them and pray for all the people involved, and that God's love shines through them for these precious little ones.  

Bells and Buggies

We didn't get many plants and flowers when Laynie died.  We asked for all donations to be made to her trust, so we could give a big donation in her honor to the Children's Hospital (because we practically lived there for the last 7 months of her life).  We took the money from the support of our families and loved ones, and Lacey bought IV buggies.  When a child is getting a transfusion or stuck to a pole in a room getting any kind of therapy, they are pretty immobile.  So Lacey wanted to get these cute little buggies and call them Layniebuggies, so when a child was in the hospital they could hook their iv's to the pole on the buggies, put their "stuff" in the basket, and get to the playroom, walk the halls, be more mobile, etc.   It was genius.

The family gathered and brought the buggies to make the donation

I think the nurses loved them

I know that Lindsay sure did.

We hope that everyone that uses one at Children's Hospital reads about her, and the love we felt for her and the nurses at the hospital, rings through to the people using the buggy.

Before Laynie was born, I had never experienced a truly sick child.  Sure, we had ear infections, and pneumonia, and chicken pox, and all of those things brought their own worries into the picture, but I had no idea the amount of sick children, and I mean REALLY SICK children there are.  

The 10th floor of Children's Hospital introduced me to that world.  Little sweet bald headed children, with tired, worried parents are everywhere on that floor.  We made a lot of friends with many of the nurses, and the PA that took care of Laynie was just an exceptional human being, and the other families there...well... just precious friends.    We spent many hours in the transfusion room pouring life back into our girl.  And she would respond well for many weeks, and then we'd have to go back in for her "Fix" and get her blood tank filled back up.  It worked for 7 months.  

We met some exceptional parents up on that floor, and yesterday, I was honored to see Brock Hart ring his bell, signifying the end of his chemo treatments.   He has been on chemo for 3 1/2 years.  He is 5. 
Read all about Brock's journey here

 Toby Keith showed up and brought him a little guitar.  Brock wasn't starstruck at all.  I totally was. 

I remember July 4, 2010 watching the fireworks from bricktown with Lacey, and Brock and his mom and dad and sister from the windows in the transfusion room.  We pulled up all the blinds and watched the beauty.  Brock was so sweet with Laynie, they were both two, and had been so sick.  You become a family on that floor, all of you up there fighting the fight of living,  together.  You rejoice with the victories, and share in the pain.  A family.

So we were honored and thrilled that  Brock has reached the mark in his journey where he can go forward without chemo.   I'm so thrilled for his family and sisters.  Everyone pray for them, for Brock's continued healing, and their peace and encouragement as they start this new road.

Life is a gift.  Health is a gift.  We all take for granted our healthy children.  I am as guilty of it, as the next guy.  

But people, I am here to tell you.....  BE THANKFUL for your healthy perfect children.  And NEVER EVER take for granted ONE blessed day.

Hug them extra tight, and love them extra long today.....because today is your gift. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Straightening Nappy Hair and Self Esteem

I signed Lovely up for a "Pretty Tough" event for young girls at Journey church today.  She was NOT happy with me.  She likes her Saturdays.  She likes to sleep in, and lounge in her "majamas" all day.

So when I signed her up for a 9:45-4:30 event, she was a bit miffed at me.  I told her she'd have fun, and she basically grunted at me.

I tried to talk it up the whole way to the church, and I had stone cold silence greet me from the backseat.

Epic Fail.

Until we walked in the church, and a little girl ran up to her and called her by name, and my sulking pre-teen turned into Miss Congeniality... "Oh look, Lolly, all my homegirls are here".

LB spent the morning with his new Big Bro, and had a blast.  He could NOT quit talking about him, almost to the point of obnoxiousness.

Hallie spent all day in her room watching volleyball videos on Youtube, and taking notes.


I bought groceries with all the food stamp people and it was so much fun.  Don't even ask me WHY I waited until food stamp day to go to the store.  It's a gift of mine, called, perfect timing.

When we rolled in to pick up Lovely from her "Pretty Tough" day....she came running up to me with straightened hair, and the biggest smile.   "This so FUN, look what they do to my hair!" and handed me shampoo and conditioner and a sack of fun stuff.

Norman Police Department came and gave them self defense instruction in the am, and we were all front row seat spectators to watch the "Lovely Show" on what happens to anyone that EVER dares to grab her.

They are toast.

I love programs like this, that feed into our young girls and empower them to take pride in their appearance, and step up to knowing about how to act if someone asks you to a party, and asks you to drink or dares you to take drugs.  I know my little lady soaked it all in, and didn't stop talking for nary an hour after pick up.

It's all about the important things, and reinforcement of positive, over and over for these kids, and I thrill at the sight of their growth.

Parental visit tomorrow, prayers are coveted.  They are always quite traumatic.  The best part..every time they see them, the kids are more equipped and have healthier boundaries.  It's going to be a very interesting visit tomorrow compared to the first one.

You know why?  God.  is.  Good.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Big Brothers and Small Worlds

So, you all know that I've been wanting to get LB a big brother.  I had a couple of friends send me suggestions, and tonight, a very brave and adorable sophomore in college landed in my front room.

LB went NUTS.

I hope our big brother comes back.

This little boy has had so few positive male role models that he, just honestly, has no idea how to act.  It's exhausting and hilarious.

I hope that our big brother just thinks it's hilarious.

And not so exhausting.

We found out 2 very cool things about our big brother tonight.

1-  he is next door neighbors (at his parents house) with Rumble (or rather the man inside rumble)


2-  upon meeting Lacey, he kept saying, "You look like someone I know", and then I thought a minute, and knowing his love for helping others, I asked him, "Did you participate in the dance marathon?" to which he replied, "I sure did, I was on Exec committee last year"....and Lacey told him,  "I'm Laynie's mom", and his face fell off and rolled across the room.

I love it when that happens.

I love that students at OU know about our Laynie bug.

I love that her story, and her mom's love for her, rings through to soooo, sooo many people.

That's a small world, yo.

Upon leaving the insane asylum that is my house tonight, Lacey tossed over her shoulder, "This house makes me happy".

That sums it up pretty neat-o.

This happy.

And it doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Living Normal

Lacey's favorite saying after Laynie was born, was "Normal is just a setting on your dryer".

That kind of goes for foster care too.

Nothing about our life is "normal".  And yet, everything is.

Lovely won't  join in any of the games we play "I don't like games", and finally, when her favorite person in the world, Lacey, pushed her to play apples to apples with us, her shortcoming became very apparent.

Homegirl can't read.

Her little brother reads for her.

Well slap my face, and call me sheepish.

It blows my mind how she has slipped through the cracks, and how she has made it this far, with no ability to read.

I enlisted her favorite teacher at school, and she is now getting tutoring after school.  One on One.  I told her teacher to take her all the way back to phonics.  And to continue phonics until she gets it.

This kid isn't going to fail on my watch.

LB's need for a big brother didn't go unnoticed by all my friends that read my blog.  He is meeting with a new potential big bro on Friday night, and they are going to hang out and play soccer at the park on Saturday morning.  He is over the moon, and almost catatonic he is so excited.

That makes me happy.

I put them both in art therapy and they see a counselor once a week to work through their PTSD.  That's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, for those of you not familiar with acronyms.  PTSD pisses me off.  The fact that a 12 year old and a 9 year old suffer from it, pisses me off even more.

They are so frightened by the dark that I have to light my house up like Las Vegas at night.  All I need is Elvis, and a little more neon, and I'll need the Boulder dam to keep us lit.

We have come so far in many ways, and taken one tiny baby step in others.   LB is reading on his level now, and is totally caught up in math.  He is still struggling speaking English, and when he gets excited, it takes a much younger ear than mine to understand what he is trying to say.

Lovely is taking part of the Loveworks program put on by Journey church, and WOW that program is empowering to girls like her.  It's amazing.

Here's what I know.  If by some weird twist of fate, these children have to go home, they will be equipped.  They will NOT be the same kids that came here with no options or tools in their toolbelt of life.

They will be smarter, full of self esteem, knowing right from wrong, they will NEVER allow an adult to put their hands on them, and they will have knowledge how to junk punch the crap out of adult that dares to do that.

They will know God, and understand that NO MATTER the circumstance, HE IS THERE.

They will have options, and know how to use them.  And that is what POWERS me to keep going....

Because THESE children MATTER, and their lives are going to be different.

End.  Of.  Freaking.  Story.

Yes,  I'm venting.   Thank you for listening.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Small White Caskets

As I walked into the funeral home this morning to go to work, I looked in the chapel, and my heart seized as I saw a small, pristine white casket.

It made me remember a similar one.

And I was taken immediately back to that day.  I remember getting to the funeral home early, and not leaving all day.  I couldn't bear to leave her.  I knew that her earthly body would soon be leaving us, and I couldn't force myself to leave her.  

Even typing this now, I am so overcome with emotion, it's painful and comforting.  I'm so glad that people still know her story, that people still talk about her.  I know after Austin died, one of the conversations I had with Shannon, his mom, was her panic in people forgetting him, and not knowing how fantastic he was, and what a light he shined on all our lives.  

Grief is a weird, consuming beast.  You will think that you have finally gotten through the worst of it, when something small happens and it rears it's violent, ugly head.  I have the honor of talking to the families of people that have lost loved ones and I hear all kinds of stories, "I saw his stein in the freezer, and it set me off".   "I felt relieved, because the man I loved had died years ago when Alzheimers took him from me"  "I hear his voice when I sleep"   "I sat in her closet and took in her scent".   Every memory from every family is a treasure to me.  In helping others heal through their grief, it walks me through me own journey.

It's easy for me to visit with the widows that had 60 years to love their mate.  We reminisce, we share, we laugh, we have a lifetime of good things to sift through.

But when I have to sit with a family that lost a 3 year old, and her daddy, in a fire... I have trouble expressing my pain for them.  I stumble, and falter over the words to give comfort.  The family doesn't believe in God, so I can't walk them through with hope.  It overwhelms me. 

I'm thankful for my faith.  I'm thankful for my hope in eternity.  Without that, I can't imagine the loss.  As I walk closer and closer to my Lord and Savior, and let Him wrap me in comfort that only He has the power to give me, I am content.

The grave didn't have the victory, the Lord Jesus Christ did, and through Him, we are all made new. 

Volleyball shenanigans

All three of my daughters accompanied me to Hallie's volleyball tournament this weekend.

Of course, I am my mother's child, and could never get their names straight, so instead of a hybrid, Lacekiphal, as I attempted to talk to them, I just started using the numbers 1 (Lacey) 2(Kip) and 3 (Hallie).  

It worked.

I tell you, when I get the priviledge of having all three girls in the car for an extended amount of time, I am guaranteed several things. 

1) there will be arguing.  and then the comment, "Can we be kind"

2)  there will be movie quotes.  Lacey finally admitted addiction at some point.  "I've got a problem.  Every single circumstance in life, I have a movie quote for it".   She thinks it's a problem, I view it as a gift. 

3)  there will be sweet tea. 

4)  this weekend, there was massive coughing.  (from me).  I think I'm much better, but they viewed me as a gross atrocity.  Not once did I get to have the freedom to hack my lung without someone saying, "Gross", or "Do you have to do that", or "Nice one mom".


5) there will be comments on the hairy upper lip.  or chin hairs.  I am my mom's kid in every way, except for I inherited my dad's facial hair.  It's just glorious.  And everyone knows, the best time to take care of this heinous gift, is in the full sunlight.  The minute we landed in Ft Smith, I blazed into a nail salon and got a wax of my facial features, and of course they missed my chin.  So in sitting outside of Papa John's to get our luncheon fare, Lacey took the opportunity to use my handy tweezers, that I use for just this problem, and tweeze my stray chin hairs that were beginning to take over.  Hallie watched a minute, then exclaimed, "We are representing lifechurch, Charge, the state of Oklahoma, not to mention our we have to do this NOW?"  It's nice to know that 2 of my 3 daughters, embrace my crazy and don't get too embarrassed by me anymore, and join in my reindeer games. 

6)  there will be cheetos.  One of the other moms, monitors everyone's food intake, because there is a small thing called "protein" that is so imperative in athlete's diets.  Well, Hallie doesn't intake good food.  It's a law or something in her psyche that just rejects good food of any kind.  This other mom, is a "Whole Foods" mom, and I'm a "pop tart" mom, so it's a bit intimidating (to say the least) to open my snack bag and it's full of cheetos, cheezits, poptarts, club crackers and oreos.  She has the hummus, carrots, pretzels, organic fruit sticks, pears, bananas with organic nutella, etc.   After seeing what I SHOULD have had in our snack bag, I feebly threw out, "I have grapes".

7)  there will be dancing.  Lacey has been adopted by this team of girls, as the "Cool sister", and she spends a lot of time, talking, building up, and dancing with these girls.  They had a blast in the hall, between games, dancing and laughing with Lacey.  She might be amazing at movie quotes, but she rocks pretty hard in the "big sister" role too.

8) there will be steak.   To make up for my lack of healthy snack foods, I try to take Hallie and get her some meat after a long day of matches.  The kid eats a 12 oz ribeye without even taking a breath.  She did share that the only other meat eaten at the dinner table, by the other girls was a 6 oz sirloin, but that didn't bother her, she was very boastful. 

9) there will be an accident.  We were sitting almost ON the court this tournament, and we had barely said, "Wow we are close", when a ball whizzed over to us, and by the grace of all that is holy, Lacey's nose kindly slowed it down before it hit the side of my head and knocked my glasses to the ground, where it totally bent my nosepiece to the glass, it hit so hard.  I had been suffering from a touch of vertigo until that point, but after that solid THWACK I was cured.  It was a volleyball miracle.  Lacey sported a nice indention from the 100 mph ball striking her in the nose, but she did an amazing job of slowing it down before it made contact with me.  Kudos. 

10) there will be laughter.  We are ridiculous.  When we get the four of us together, it is chaos.  Kip just chortles the whole time.  Which sets off Lacey, and by the time Hallie joins in, there is snorting and guffaws, and when we finally take a breath to slow down, that sets us off again. 

11) there will be pictures.  If Kip or Lacey are involved, there are great pictures taken.  I think Lacey said that Kip took 163 pictures.  Something crazy.  I love this about us.  Every second documented.

Except maybe this.  I probably could have done without this one.

I know that in the reality of life, is that this will probably be the last trip we all four take together, just us.  I embraced, and loved, and cherished every second of it.  I'm so blessed to have such amazing, fun, loving, ridiculous daughters.  They are my best friends, my buddies, and my biggest critics.  They challenge me, they lift me up, they enrage me, they humble me, but mainly they delight me.   I am one blessed chick. 


Zi's HOME~

This is so special and good and I wanted to share this with my ten's of readers, so enjoy this.

It's such a joy to me to see God's love through His people.... And Zi's life is going to have a very different outcome.... Thank you God for people like Jenn, Josh and Katie....

(It was so much fun to see the Z squad representing at Zi's homecoming, Amaris, Dusty... so awesome to see your sweet faces)

You'll want to check this out.

Continue to pray for this precious family as they acclimate Zi to their home and lives.  I know God's blessings will flow abundantly, but I also know the struggles and differences that will happen.  Just pray for ease and grace. 

God.  Is.  Good.