Sunday, June 30, 2013

Project 365, Week 26

This week was nice and quiet in pictures...there was plenty of craziness behind the scenes but hopefully most of the DCF madness is coming to an end (for now) as we raise our white flag of surrender.  By principle, its hard to stop fighting for the things that are really important to us, but its become apparent that at this point in the game, its futile.

I don't mean to spread sour grapes, it was just a very disappointing, difficult week for us.  It also was very special because we celebrated a beautiful, sweet 8 year-olds birthday.  And, we experienced God's favor in a big way...can't wait to tell that story.

June 23
A beautifully warm day to play outside.  One of my life's great pleasures is watching these three have a blast in the kiddie pool.

 June 24
Happy Birthday, Avery May!
 June 25
Boston!  Such a fun story to go with this (soon!).

 June 26
Speaking of, not really.  Six hours of CPR/First Aid Training.  In a class of just five, it was a little awkward when I was the only one giggling through the choking demonstration.

 June 27
My guy, hard at work.  :)
 June 28
After a hard day's work.  He played in the tile saw tray and got the remnants all over his hands.  He smelled them, made a face and said, Eww...that smells.  Mom, smell your hands.  (sniff) I don't smell anything.  Come stand over smells.  (laughing) Aiden, I think its just your hands that smell.  :)
June 29
I was second shooter for a wedding.  Yay for peonies!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Z's Update

I have a big, blank screen staring at me, and I'm supposed to fill it up with a story that is condensed, discreet and makes some sort of sense.  Its an impossible task, but I'm going to give it a stab.

Back in February 2012, the day after we'd gotten licensed as foster parents, we got a call about a nine year-old boy and his two siblings, a one year old boy and a four year old girl, all who were in separate places.  The plan was to place the boy, Z with us, get him settled in and stable and then move the other two.

Among my first thoughts while on that initial phone call: um...our car doesn't hold 8 people, we'll have to get more beds, Shaun will never go for this, wow...six kids nine and under, how many other homes would be willing/able to take three together.

As it turned out, Shaun and I were on the same page immediately and, though the task was daunting, we knew we could sign up for it.  We gave the ok and days later we were meeting Z for the first time.

After a tedious transition process, he came to live with us and did well right from the get-go.  By early June it had been communicated to us that they were ready to move the siblings to us and that adoption, if we were willing, was probable.

Shaun began hours and days of research, looking for the right 8-passenger car for our soon-to-be-expanding family.  We set up a bunk bed and began preparing our hearts for these new souls.

For reasons unknown to us, the two siblings never got moved, but as the weeks turned into months, Z became more and more a part of our family.

In January, we were sat down and asked if we would be willing to adopt Z.  Though adoption was never our end goal with fostering, yes, we were willing to explore that.   All indications were when, not if.

Then, a couple weeks ago, on a conference call, the big DCF supervisor person blind-sided us by declaring that they'd run out of time on the case and Z, along with his two siblings, would be reunited with their mom by summer's end.

I'm not going to lie, it was a blow.  We were stunned by the turn of events.

In Shaun's words, this is what we signed up for.  And it absolutely is.  We were never looking to adopt.  Initially, we wanted our home to be a revolving door.  Touch a life, send them off, then pray they consider this home their place to return for holidays and a support system.  That is still how we feel.

We also signed up with a pretty good idea of how DCF was run.  We thought it was a too-big government-run agency and that's exactly what it is.

This, all of this, and so much in between is what we signed up for.  But its still hard.

As the plan goes now, Z will be gone by mid-August.  Once again, we find ourselves in a very tedious, pain-staking transition process.  There is a plan to add in weekly visits, then to make them unsupervised, then to do overnights, then to move in for good....if it all goes well.  Its a recipe for a tumultuous summer.  Oh Lord, give me grace!

From day one he's been part of our family, and now we are faced with the reality that he, in fact, is not.

I was talking with a new foster parent in training class this week, briefly sharing our story, ending with the fact that we've begun the reunification process with mom.  He lit up and said,'ve got a success story!

That was the first time I'd looked at it that way.  Yes, the system was designed to take a child out of the home so the parent has time and space to get their stuff together and then the child is returned to a new and improved parent....that's how its supposed to work, particularly under the current commissioner.

In my head, a "success" story looked different than this.

Several people have reminded me that God has a plan for Z.  I can't count the number of times I've sat on the edge of his bed and told him just that.  I don't understand the route God has chosen, but I know God loves Z and has a plan for his life.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Goodbye Grandpa

Last week we said goodbye to Grandpa C.  

Shaun has been blessed to know and grow up with all of his grandparents and each one has left a special mark on his life.

Years ago, Grandpa bequeathed some tools and golf clubs to Shaun and he has carried on those hobbies.  

Grandpa always expressed a keen interest in what was going on in our lives.  He was proud of Shaun's education and would always want an update on the goings on at church and with our rental properties and with the teams Shaun was coaching and playing on.

He and Shaun shared a love of sports, though they differed greatly when it came to baseball.  :)

Much later, when our kids joined the scene, he took great delight in playing with them as much as possible and catching up on their latest accomplishments.  He spoiled them shamelessly and the kids quickly caught on that there was popcorn and juice boxes and cake available at any time, in any amount, just for the asking.

Especially towards the end, I would watch him watch the kids and I could see him thinking about the legacy he would be leaving behind.  I'm so, so grateful they got to meet each other and enjoy the time they had.

He will be missed but never forgotten.

Here are a few of my favorites in random order....
Father's Day 2004 ish

 This was the last time we saw him, he came to church to see The Passion of the King in March.
Baby Aiden
 Four generations
 Always hugs.  If the kids didn't offer one he'd say, Where's my hug? in his deep but playful voice.

 Shaun with his grandfather, grandmother, dad and three siblings, taken November 2012.
 Baby Amanda, the day after she was born.

On Saturday, we all met up in the town where he grew up and then raised his family.  It was a beautiful morning with just family and close friends.

Shaun's dad asked my dad to do the service, which made it extra special for everyone, I think.

 Grandpa's great grandkids lead Psalm 23 so very sweetly.

George H. "Gitch"  86, of West Hartford, husband of Fay, died Monday, June 17, 2013 at John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington. Born in Windham, the son of the late George A. and Bertha, George grew up in Coventry. He enlisted with the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and served as an Electricians Mate for two years in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. After the war George returned home, married and moved to Albany, NY, eventually returning to Coventry. A Highly skilled machine repairman, he took a position at Pratt & Whitney where he retired in 1994. An accomplished craftsman, George excelled in woodworking and a variety of other hobbies including doll house furniture and eventually publishing his family's genealogy. George was an avid golfer and long time member of the Rockledge Golf Club men's league. He belonged to the West Hartford Regents and was a lifetime Mason. A devoted husband to Fay, his wife of 41 years, he leaves his sons and their spouses, Jeff and Diane of Chicago, IL and David and Helen of San Francisco CA, his daughter and son-in law Brenda and Jim of West Hartford and a legacy of six grandchildren, Shaun, Nathan & Micah, Sarah, and Shayla and Nicholas; and six great grandchildren. He was preceded by his son Thomas and his sister Catherine . 

Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”

Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.”

Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.”  John 11:21-27

Monday, June 24, 2013

House Project {Week 12}

This week went at a little bit slower pace because of the stuff going on in real life, but work was done nonetheless.  

People who see it are impressed by the progress being made.  In the day-to-day, it ends up feeling like our efforts are too little.  The 4 o'clock mornings, the late night taping, the seven days a still leaves us behind.  We are weary, but press on.  There IS an end and we CAN get there.  We HAVE to get there.

The windows came and it was great fun for Aiden to watch the unloading process.  Later in the week, Avery and I labeled all 22 windows so the guys know which room they belong in.  Twenty-two windows replaces nearly all of the second floor (two baths and three bedrooms), three busted garage windows and a couple miscellaneous kitchen and stairs windows.

 We primed and painted the basement.  It would seem like that project could wait until much later, but now that it is painted, Shaun is going to put some shelving in so I can start moving our stuff over.  The emptier we can make this house, the better.

 The kids are really good about entertaining themselves.  This day, as I was sitting in the driveway getting some air after being in the basement, the girls invited me to their French cafe.

 Family Lowes trip way past bedtime...what fun!
 The tile is gone on the master bath floor.
 Aiden was over the moon about his new work gloves.
 The alarm company came out.  There is a pretty advanced system already in place, we just needed to hook it up.  This just seems like a good idea with all the troubled teens we plan on having in and out of our home.
 Aiden snagged this one (and 15 others just like it) while we were shopping.  When I can, I check the clearance area for frames and such.  Unlike here, the new place has lots of wall space and I plan on using a combination of my photos and printables (I'm addicted!) to fill it up.
 A painted room!!  Feels really nice to have a nearly finished space.  It also serves as a reminder for how very far we still have to go. 
 I just love this color in the girls room.  Thinking I might use it in a couple more places throughout the house, like the downstairs half bath.

 This is our room, which Shaun completely finished sheetrocking and is beginning to tape.
 Same with our closet.  I keep fantasizing about making myself a little hiding place in here for those times when I just need to get away for a few minutes.  :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Project 365, Week 25

Gosh, so much to say about this week, more than I could possibly fit here.  Let me try bullets:

  • Shaun's grandfather passed away
  • Shaun's dad was here for the week from far away
  • Lots going on with Z...many of you have asked and I promise to update soon
  • The final, torturous countdown to school.  Just give me my kids back already!
  • Shaun's grandmother's visit was cancelled due to sickness
  • Beautiful, incredible weather
  • Lots of good family time
  • Aiden looking WAY too cute in his "fancy clothes".
  • Avery's coming-of-age event
  • Amanda's stitches out
  • No raccoon sitings  :)

June 16
After a nice breakfast out in Daddy's honor, we got to work on the yard at the new house.  It was an incredible day to be outside....actually, the whole week we had amazing welcome after all the rain!
 We took an extended lunch break and opened up cards.

 Earlier that morning, Avery wrote a song and after they'd practiced, they put on a show for us.
 Then it was back to work.
 June 17
Last day of uniforms.

Sadly, Shaun's grandfather, Grandpa, passed away early in the morning.  In the evening, we went to his Grandma's house to be together with family.
 June 18
Field Day!

 June 19
Wear Your OWN Special Clothes For Mass Day.
Shaun and his dad and his two brother went golfing, in honor of Grandpa.  Grandpa played on the course everyday for years.

June 20
Z was attending Sports Camp for the week and each morning he begged me to take him to the skate park before camp started at 8.  It just wasn't working with trying to get the girls off to school at that same time.

Finally, this morning, we agreed to just be late for camp so, after we got the girls to school, we hit the park.  GORGEOUS morning and we had the place to ourselves.

 My precious family, looking good for calling hours at the funeral home.  LOTS of discussion before and after.  We tried to answer the questions as best as we could.
 Shaun and I had decided earlier that it would be fun to surprise Avery and get her ears pierced BEFORE her birthday.  Since we were all together and near a mall, it was the perfect time.  She was SO surprised and SO happy.
 June 21
The night before, 9:30 PM at Lowe's, Avery said, Mom, you're making me cupcakes for tomorrow, right?  Ah yes...I made them and the girls decorated them so she could celebrate her birthday with her classmates.

While we were doing that, we made up a song/rap about it being the last day of school and the first day of summer.  I was completely giddy on both counts.
 No more school!
 THIS is exactly how I felt.  :)
 Possibly the only perk to having kids in two different elementary schools....TWO end-of-school celebrations at DQ!
 June 22
Graveside burial service.  These are five of Grandpa's great-grandchildren leading Psalm 23.
 Here's the sixth great, back at our house for the reception.  Off in the corner, you can see the coffee table that Grandpa made us many years ago.
Thankful for the gift of family.