Monday, May 30, 2016

22 Years

Today Shaun and I celebrate our 22nd anniversary! That's more than 8,000 days of living out I do...for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Each morning we wake up with breath in our lungs is a gift and we are quick to recognize it as such. I'm thankful for today...another chance to love and serve my best friend.

God's definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love. ~Francis Chan

Shaun, you have loved me well for more than 22 years. Thank you for spending your life by my side.

This is a video I made for our 20th anniversary. The words to the song hold more meaning than ever.

Friday, May 27, 2016

If Not Us, Then Who?

May is Foster Care Awareness Month and I wanted to at least recognize it before the month closes out because its such a part of our lives, a part of who I am. 

Our family has been licensed, with at least one child in our home for more than four years. Though the hard and messy don't ever go away, we've had a front row seat to watching God do some neat things. Most days I feel incredibly unqualified but God's grace and mercy somehow cover that (I spend a lot of time asking Him for an extra measure of both!). 

Foster care is a costly endeavor and requires great sacrifice and daily dying to self. Its just plain hard. We regularly question what we are doing but it always comes back around to the same question as we consider the great need....if not us, then who?

He trusts us enough to use us in this capacity and though I don't often don't feel up to "the call", He is always faithful to equip and enable us and give us the strength for one more day. 

The Archibald Project is an adoption blog that I sometimes read (who doesn't love a good adoption story??) and this month they did a fantastic job highlighting foster care. Here are a couple favorite quotes from the month:

Being a foster parent is worth the risk...My pain, my loss...they dissolve before the pain and loss of these children. My pain, my loss dissolve in light of the good my loss will yield. If I'm afraid, so a child feels safe; if I if I cry, so a child learns to smile; if I give of myself, so a child learns to receive.

I was certain I'd be too emotionally unstable to handle loving a child relentlessly and then saying goodbye. And you know what? I totally am. I'm way too emotionally unstable for this. But if I could emotionally handle it, something would be wrong with me. 
I think it's easy to forget that: foster care--100 percent of the time--begins because of a tragedy. It is never pretty, never tied up with a bow, never predictable. It's messy. 
But the mantra that runs through my mind on the good days and on the bad days is this: if not us, then who? 

But we are too afraid, in our humanness, of heartbreak and goodbyes that we can't bring ourselves to do something about it. Just because something is difficult and will (I guarantee) cause many nights of tears and anxiety...foster parents have the opportunity to shed those tears and carry the fears so that the child won't have to any longer. We get to sit in the uncertainty for them.

I may not be able to help all the foster kids in my county, but I sure can affect the life of one. And to that one, that’s all that matters. 
When I think about the generations that might be affected because I chose to help just one, I know I can make a difference.

I always thought I couldn't do it. I couldn't handle giving a child back to whom I was attached. And I've learned that I can't handle it, it breaks me. But I'm an adult, and I can handle being broken for a child who has known trauma and suffering. Foster Care isn't about me, it's about loving someone who desperately needs to be loved and feel safe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ginger Pup

Back in January 2015 our 4 year-old lab died unexpectedly, and the circumstances surrounding his death were about as bizarre as it was one of the super crazy tax weeks, it was chemo treatment week, we had a blizzard that dumped two feet of snow, my cousin (who is allergic to and therefore not fond of dogs) was staying with us and a friend was the one taking the dog back and forth to the vet. It was under those circumstances that we had to make some difficult decisions. We ended up having to put Trot down.

The kids, in particular Amanda, were devastated. She begged for another dog, but we knew with radiation and maybe surgery coming up, it was not the time. So we began to talk about the possibility of "next spring".

When "next spring" came, I began to do some research on breeders. Initially the information was overwhelming but I slowly weeded through. I wanted a quality dog that would be healthy and be a good family pet but was not willing to pay a for a pricey puppy. 

After much searching online I found a breeder that I thought would work. When I called, the owner said she had a litter that would be ready on June 25th. It all sounded good, but before putting down a deposit, I wanted to check out the place and meet the parents.

So, last Saturday after soccer Aiden, Avery and I made the two-hour trek to visit the breeder while Shaun stayed back with H and Amanda who had baseball and soccer games.

When we got to the breeder we were able to look around and see that it seemed like a reputable place, very nice actually. They said someone had backed out that day and they had just one puppy left from that litter, an 8 week-old female who was ready to leave. We met her, played with her and that was pretty much it. I sent a picture to Shaun and the kids. Over the phone we talked about the possibility of moving up our plans by five weeks, why we should and shouldn't. In the end, we decided to take her home (of course!).

It was kind of strange to do it with just half the family, but it didn't take long for everyone to approve. We've all taken to her, but Amanda in particular. Amanda needs a dog who will listen to her and who understands and she's found a good friend in Ginger. Shaun and I have found lost sleep in her. :)

We trust she will make a good pet and companion. If she lives to be 13, as old as Riley was when he died, she will be here while all the kids will have moved away. That's crazy to think about!

Welcome to our crazy household, sweet Ginger.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Project 365, Week 21

Lots of goodness and running around squeezed into this week. I wore my winter coat in the early part of the week, but now its just amazingly beautiful.

May 16
This Monday was the 5th and last day of school the kids had off because of the plumbing/air quality issue. Amanda really wanted to spend time with Alayna because she knows how to play barbies and horses. 

A little more playing than watching at H's baseball game.

May 17
Both girls had wellness visits. I'm so very grateful for healthy kids and good reports. And gosh...they're getting so big!

May 18
Ray turned 20 (!!) and we got to spend some of his birthday with him. He's come so far since that first day we met him when he was 17 and even more so in the last three months he's been living on his own. We're so proud of him!

(Also, Shaun had a major truck project underway).

May 19
My little sister was up from Texas and was able to spend an evening with us. Most of us were able to gather and it was so great to have everyone together!

All four of us, in age but clearly not height order. So blessed.

May 20
Fridays after school are nice because we don't have to dive right into homework. I love hanging out with this crew.

May 21's a kid holding a puppy. You know how that usually ends, right? Yeah. I'll share the story tomorrow.

May 22
The puppy and Amanda found a cozy spot on the lawn underneath the bed of the truck. BFFs!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Project 365, Week 20

Yesterday the picture loading part of Blogger was down so I didn't get my post up. Maybe I broke it trying to load this post of "a picture a day" ;). Would you believe me when I say so much of our week isn't pictured here?

For instance, I stopped to count...between baseball, softball and soccer (5 different teams) our family is averaging 20 (twenty!) practices and games a week! That's a lot of balls being kicked and hit and caught and skills being learned.

So yes, there are too many pictures but I love this active, outdoor, kids-being-kids, thank-God-its-spring time.

May 9
I got to attend a work event at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play. It was a really neat venue and lots of interesting information was shared. It was also good to see the people I only get to see at these events...such a great group.

At the end of the day, Joe Andruzzi, with his three Super Bowl rings got up to speak, though he barely touched on his success as a player. Instead he spoke of his battle with cancer at the age of 31 and how life-impacting that was for him. He spoke passionately about his foundation and the work they are doing to help those in the middle of fighting. He's the real deal. It was highly emotional and inspiring. 

May 10
A plumbing/air quality issue gone bad cancelled school for the remainder of the week. There was much celebrating around here (and morning snuggles)!

Thankfully the forecast was amazing and, lucky for us, we have lots of home-schooled cousins who are available by lunchtime.

May 11
We did a kid exchange for sleepovers.

Aiden needed a little break, so we ran an errand together. I'm so thankful to live close to downtown so we can do things "on foot".

Strong, healthy almost-7-year olds.

Work was real tough this week. ;) This was the view on the back patio of the restaurant where our team met for dinner.

May 12
Sitting on the porch steps talking life and taking in filtered sun.

May 13
Aiden brought his "Tu'ppence" to his broker daddy. He purchased Disney stock (which owns Star Wars :)

May 14
We were on the soccer field at 8:30 in the morning and the weather was glorious! Late spring in New England!!

H&R Block end of season party was at Uncle Nathan's house.

May 15
Our town held Little League opening ceremonies, which had gotten rained out the week before. H and Aiden are both playing.

We met my brother and sister at my moms to celebrate Mother's Day and explored a place my brother remembered from childhood.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Project 365, Week 19

I feel like I could intro each week with: there was some good, there was some hard. I've always felt like life is good but I now know that, right along with that, life is hard. That's why its important to be a seeker of good, a noticer of blessings, a thanker of gifts.

May 2
I went to check on Amanda who'd been in the shower for a while. She was all set up to be in there a while, complete with chorus music and her stuffed pals.

May 3
I had a fever come on suddenly that had me in bed under the covers all day feeling miserable, scared and sorry for myself.

Amanda and Avery were looking lovely for their school chorus concert. Shaun worked his daddy magic to avert a wardrobe crisis and Avery ended up wearing my dress. What?!?

May 4
My sweet boy...we have fun together. Anytime I want, I can make him laugh until he hiccups....before he started school I used to do it everyday. :)

May 5
The first grade was in charge of mass for Ascension Thursday. Aiden's class sang with the 8th graders and he did a reading from Ephesians.

A nurse came to do monthly maintenance on my port. It'd been a while since I'd used that company so he had to review my entire file. Its devastating to go over it with someone new, from the beginning. The story, my story, when summarized, sounds like it can't even be true, but I know it is and...that's hard.

Such a chilly, rainy week. Avery practiced twice in rain, wind and temps in the 40's.

May 6
Aiden looked like an old man reading the newspaper over breakfast.

May 7
It was supposed to be Opening Day for baseball. Instead, we got uniforms, took pictures and got drenched. By chance, the boys were assigned the same jersey number. :)

Amanda played two games and scored three goals. Shaun's really been working with her and some of it seems to be "clicking".

May 8
I found this present on the kitchen window when I came downstairs in the morning. Ray and H created it for me the night before while I was sleeping. So sweet!

I'm grateful that God chose me to be a mom and that He uses me despite my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my "not enough".  My heart overflows.

At the last minute, we got to see Shaun's mom and all his siblings. Thankful for family!