Sunday mornings 

Alarm goes off at 5:30 I look around and everyone is sound asleep…finally.  The baby was up just an hour ago and one of the boys had to pee at 3. I could hit the snooze and get a few more minutes a sleep before the day begins but service starts at 9.  I lay in silence for another fifteen minutes before the baby starts stirring. Better get going before she wakes if not I will not get a hot shower.

Hop in the shower for what I like to now call the works. Hair (shampoo and conditioned), legs and underarms shaved, lathered from head to toe while standing and just letting the water fall down my back. The kids are still asleep so I can enjoy a few minutes without an audience of little eyes watching me. Good Lord knows this may be the only full shower I get all week having five kiddos under 6, you moms with young kids understand. Jump out of the shower to the sounds of two of our boys laughing. Hurry to throw on my Sunday best to get to my room to see what the fuss is all about. JR and Eli are now wide awake playing cars in our bed, baby Sadie is babbling in her crib and my hubby is still fast asleep. Wrangle the boys down the stairs while carrying baby girl to start breakfast and get the day going. Time 6:32.

Once downstairs pull ups and diapers are changed, the refrigerator is raided, and we finally decided on yogurt and Coco puffs to eat with milk to drink.  I place the baby in her bouncer go upstairs to find our six year old in the bathroom “chillin” I have her go downstairs while I pick out their clothes for the day. I should have done this last night but I didn’t. Next week I will remember to….. or so I tell myself.  Politely tell my husband it’s 7 time to get up and go to break up the first fight of the morning (she’s been up less than 3 minutes it’s going to be a long day) 

I get Elissa’s breakfeast ready, she only wants pop tarts this morning with juice, and go start getting the other children ready.  Start with baby girl by placing her in a rainbow dress and pulling up what hair she has in a “ponytail” on top of her head.  Start dressing Eli and hear JR and Elissa’s at it again, this time he looked at her wrong.ūüė£ Go back upstairs to not so politely tell my husband “its 7:30 get up already”  and go back downstairs. Finish getting Eli dress tell him to sit on the couch and not move. Go throw a load of laundry in the washer and a load of dishes in the dishwasher. Elissa decides the best time for her to “use to bathroom” is while I am trying to put on my makeup so I don’t look like someone off the cast of the Walking Dead. She poo’s and tells me why she’s NOT wearing the dress I picked out all while I try not to vomit from the oder that now consumes the bathroom.

Hubby walks down around 8:15 clean shaved and handsome in his dress shirt and sits on the couch and starts getting shoes on two of our three boys.  Fight three happen as I give Elissa the dress she is wearing and tell her “wear it or wear nothing” I am then nominated for “worst mom ever” as she graps the dress to put it on.  

JR ready check, Eli ready check, Sadie ready check, Elissa ready…..check, Alex where’s Alex??  Back up the stairs hubby and I go to find Alex fast asleep in his bed, time 8:35.  Pick him up carry him downstairs, stand in by the potty  and start dressing him while “He goes”  He is sleepy does not want anything to eat so shoes go on and out the door we go. 8:45

Load up the car to the sounds of Alex crying because Eli found a peice of candy (Smarties) in Alex’s set which should have given Alex clam to it. Quickly I run back into the house to get Smarties for everyone so we are not screaming as we pull into the church.

Arrive at church at 8:54 all kids in tow. I take baby Sadie in one arm, Eli in the other and Elissa holds my dress while Todd has JR and Alex who refuses to walk, he is still mad over the candy issue.

Walk into the church and we check the kids in their classes. Sadie is easy to drop off. The nursery worker smiles and says , “We are so happy to see you again Sadie” she checks her diaper bag in and we are off to the next rooms. Alex and Eli go in without a fight, shocking I know the tears have mysteriously disappeared, Elissa never looks back as she runs to show off her “beautiful new dress” smh I will never understand her lol.  Next is JR. We walk in and it’s a new teacher…crap.  JR does not like change.  He screams and throws Thomas the train across the table. I look at Todd and tell him to go on without me.  The teacher and I talk, she tries to get to know JR but he is having no part of her. Looks like I will be setting in with him today.  Then Ms Bethany comes by, JR smiles he likes her. She was just dropping off some other kids before she went to her class (the volunteers rotate rooms) The teacher goes over and asks who will be with her today and Bethany over hears. She asks the other volunteer to trade places with her and she comes in and JR smiles. She tells me she has him and says “Go enjoy service”

I get up to leave and he screams, tears rolling down his face. I go to pick him up and she says, “its ok I got him just go it will be fine” I walk out as he screams “Mommy no go, mommy no love JR”  I walk but tears are now rolling down my face.  Autism is hard no matter what day it is. I wipe off my face and head into service time 9:12. Good I haven’t missed all the music yet.  The music is playing people are worshipping and I see my husband. I quickly take my place by his side and we stand. I see the words on the board and hear the music play, but my mind is racing a thousand miles a minute. “Will he be ok?” “Did I leave her my number incase he needs me?” “Why did I wear this dress its so hot in here” “I should have pulled my hair up I’m burning up”  and of course “Now two of my kids think I’m the worst mom of the year and it’s not even 10am.”  I know I should have been more focused on the service, after all its the one hour my husband and I get to spend with each other worshipping our Lord, but I was exhausted.  Todd reaches for my hand and gives me that “it will be ok” look . I try not to stare at my phone the whole time but I worry.  I have an hour and 13 minutes before I pick the kids up, well that’s if I don’t recieve at text. 

The pastor comes out and starts the message for the today “Fear and Faith” how appropriate. I try to listen but I can’t and then I feel my phone vibrate. JR is having a meltdown I thought.  But to my surprise I recieve a picture. It’s JR playing with his cars at the table with a simple message said, “Mom he is doing fine”  I smile and sigh. He is fine, didn’t expect that message today.  I relax and hold Todds hand a little tighter. The message was great and exactly what I needed to hear.  A little after 10 my phone vibrates again. My heart tightens and I am afraid to look. This time it’s a picture of JR with his hands held high in praise. His smile speaks volumes.  All the chaos and the aggravation of the morning disappears.  God is good. Really good.
I have so many fears about our new journey. New state, new faces, new schools, new drs, the list goes on and on. But today I was reminded that even though everything is new here one thing remains the same…God.  He has always been with us and will continue to be will us no matter if we are in WV or Tennessee. He will protect us from the things we fear and if life throws new fears in our path He will be there to hold our hand all the way through the storm.  Our God is that good.

After service we loaded up and came home for lunch. The kids will fight against I am sure and they will be upset with me about something else before the day is over. And that’s all ok. Everything will be alright.  As the pastor said this morning “It is ok to be afraid or fearful as long as we walk in faith and trust in God”

From our beautiful chaos to yours enjoy the day God has given us. Turn your fears and frustrations over to Him and walk in faith.

Our Elmo

Our fourth son Eli celebrated his birthday a few weeks ago by turning the big 3.  He and Alex are known as “the twins” being that they are only eight days apart in age. His story with us started 3 years ago with coming Tuesday. Let me introduce you… 
Life was busy. We were in the process of adopting wild man and little Miss when we received the “we only need you to foster him till we find another Adoptive family” for our newest addition….that had been a month ago.  We were adjusting schedules to made life with five kids do able. I was packing clothes and suitcases for my family reunion. The reunion is on my mom’s side.  Every year aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters come together for four days of good food, laughs, games and fellowship. It’s the one weekend out of summer you don’t want to miss. Two to three hundred relatives coming together. We are blessed to have such a wonderful tradition that has lasted throughout many generations.  And this year I was excited to introduce our soon to be adopted daughter and son along with our newest little guy.

I remember standing in the kitchen placing dishes in the dishwasher when the phone rang.  It was the one call worker.  She asked if I had siblings “X and Y”  it throw me for a moment because we had not used Elissa and JR’s birth names since we found out we were adopting them, that had been over a year.  When I realized what she was saying I told her yes and asked what was going on.  She told me that birth mom had another baby and that the birth father had taken him home from the hospital. The birth dad was told if he wanted the baby he had to stay away from birth mom. Shockingly he did not so the baby was now in state care and they were bringing him to me since I had his half siblings.  I remember laughing and saying, ” We can’t.  We just took in a newborn and they still haven’t found him an adoptable home so we  are currently full…..sorry”  Then the worker laughed and said, “I already have the waiver for you. I will see you around 430” 

I was shocked, excited, scared and every emotion in between.  I know what this meant. Birth mom had already lost rights to our soon to be adopted daughter and son. And if the dad could not handle the baby he would be forever ours also.  I called my husband and his only question was “Do you think you can handle two newborns plus Elissa and JR(3 and 2 at the time) ?  And just like most foster moms I know I answered “Sure I can, it will be fun”  and with that we had six kids.  

The worker showed up right at 430. She carried his car seat in and sat it in the living room floor. Elissa quickly went over to the new baby and said, “Mommy it’s baby Elmo” we all laughed. I asked the worker what his name was and when she told me I looked over at Elissa and said “baby elmo it is”  I will never understand why birth mom gave all of her kids such odd names, maybe it’s because she know they would be changed after they were adopted or because she was so out of it they sounded good to her at the time. Either way he quickly became baby elmo, and in fact is still called elmo sometimes even now. 

We loaded up shortly after his arrival and headed out to the reunion where we surprised my mom and the rest of the family with “the twins”   The looks on many of their faces was priceless. Many wanted to know how they could adopt baby Al seeing that no one had stepped up to yet. Others questioned my sanity.  But it was all good.  I know they didn’t mean anything by it, they were just concerned.  

Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months and just like his brother and sister he was released for adoption.  It took two full years from the time he and Alex came into our home but on June 17, 2015 they became forever brothers on the same day.  

It’s funny. They are not related by blood at all, but they are the true definition of twins in the since. They started crawling together, walked days apart, and they even have their own language they use to talk to each other.  They don’t know any different.  People would come up to us when they were babies and ask if they were twins. At first we did the, “no they are not we are foster parents” answer. They people would want to know what they (the babies) did to end up in foster care. People can be ignorant. So we started saying, “No they are not. They are 8 days apart”  and walk off. The looks on people’s faces was priceless. You could hear them talking as we walked off “she was in labor for 8 days…that’s crazy” lol. We had fun with it.  Still do.

All of our kids have brought something different to our family. With Eli it’s his sweet personality and his contagious laugh.  He is definitely our class clown. He is always doing something to get the others to laugh. He is as rotten as they come but I would not trade anything for him.  I think back to that call, what if the worker would have said “Oh I didn’t know you had a new placement I will find someone else” What if we never met him?  Life would be so much different. I am thankful God had a plan for him and us. 

Life is to short to worry about what other people say. It use to get to me when asked how many kids we had, I would answer 6 and people would say oh sweetie I’m  sorry or don’t you know how to stop that.  Now when people ask I hold my head up high and say we have 7 beautiful children God blessed us with. The comments still come but I have spend many nights talking with God and asking him things and I have come to realize this is between my husband, myself and Him. God placed these childern with us. He trusted us with their life’s. He picked me out of hundreds of thousands to be their forever mommy. How cool is that? He loves the kids so much he placed them with me to watch over and love. I will forever be in awe of His plan for our family.
From our beautiful chaos to yours enjoy your little ones and have a great weekend

I Wonder….Do You Ever Think of Them?

A letter to our birth mom (s) ….
All the little ones are tucked into bed. I have finished the second round of check-ins to cover them back up, change diapers and kiss them once more. Life may be busy and at times overwhelming but I would not change a thing.

It’s in the moments like this I find myself thinking of our birth moms. Our adoptions were not the typical ones you see play out on TV or like the ones in the newspaper ads. ¬†We did not submit our story to an expecting mother for her to look over our file and pick us to be her child’s forever parents. ¬†We do not have an open adoption were we(the adoptive parents and birth parents)can share photos and stories about how the kids are and what we both hope their future holds. We do not share stories about our own childhood in hopes to give them the same type of wonderful memories. No our story is nothing like that….so I wonder.

I wonder if on their birthdays do you think of them? Do you ask yourself ” I wonder what toys they like now or how tall are they now?” ¬†I wonder if you think to yourself “School is starting soon, will she like her new teacher?” ” Will he ride the bus?” I wonder do you miss late night cuddles and having the magicial mommy kiss that can make the biggest boo boos all better? ¬†I wonder if you miss hearing the phrases I love you mommy or Can you tuck me in tonight? I wonder if you even realize what you have lost or have the drugs completely consumed you? I wonder and wait for the next call to come in saying ,”she’s had another baby.” I wonder if you miss them. I wonder do you ever cry yourself to sleep? Do you catch yourself looking in the crowd to see if anyone looks like what you picture them to look like. I wonder if friends or family still ask you about them? I wonder what their lives would be like if the state had not stepped in to save them. A million thoughts and questions run through my mind, especially late at night while I rock our youngest back to sleep or while our son is judged by outsiders on his actions, things he can not help because of the drugs and neglect he had to go through. I get so mad at you and the things you’ve done. You have no idea the damage you placed on their lives because of your choices you made without thinking of the outcome for them. ¬†But then God reminds me if it was not for you I would not have them with me. So I wonder what do you think of me?

I am thankful and grateful that I have been given the chance to be their mom. I am thankful for the few talks we had as we waited outside courtroom doors. I am thankful for a system, though broken sometimes, allowed us to keep 4 siblings together and also allowed us to adopted one who had no one. I could not picture my life without them so I wonder what your life is like without them. I wonder if they have your smile, your laugh, or if they have your personality. Does she get her unruly behaviors from you, does he think and solve problems like you? I wonder if they will ask me questions about you later in life. I wonder how I will answer these questions. I wonder if they will thank me for giving them a chance at a normal life or will they recent me for keeping you away from them? How will I handle that? I wonder if you pray for them and wish them well in their new life. Or if once they were removed from your care you never gave them a second thought?  I wonder if your ok. I wonder if you are safe.  I wonder if you even care.

I know you never planned for drugs and alchol to take over your life. I know that having your children removed and placed in state care was not how you saw things when you were a little girl. I know you must have been angry, scared, and maybe a little ashamed. But I need you to know they are okay. They are better than okay they are great. Know that I love them. All of them. I love them with every beat of my heart. I love early morning wake ups to giggling down the hall. I love story time and playtime and all the times in between. Know that they are happy, sassy, talented, and yes they fight with each other like all siblings do. Know that I vowed to each of them they will always know how special they are each and every day. Know that I am grateful you had them and did not abort them. Thank you for giving them the gift of life.  I am blessed to have them here. I am blessed to be their forever mom.

I may never know the answers to these questions. And I guess I will be ok with that. I am thankful God placed each of them in my arms. I am thankful He had a plan for them when life throw them a curve ball. I pray for you and your life choices. I pray things start to look up and help is received.

I will continue to pray for you ¬†I know the circumstances where not what either of us planned but because of you I am mom to my beautiful chaos. We are forever connected in God’s great plan.

From our beautiful chaos to yours its okay to question the unknown but dont get stuck there.Someday you may get the answers you are looking for. Until then just have faith in God’s greater plan.

New State, New School, New year….oh my

Today our six year old started her new journey at her new school. Our normally chatty girl was somewhat quiet this morning while getting ready.  She has adjusted well with our move to Tennessee, after all she is back to seeing her dad everyday and her big sis has been with us all summer, and normally is excited to try new things.  Today however you could tell she was a little nervous. 

She got up and dressed in her new pink shirt and shorts. She put on her socks and shoes. We brushed her teeth and brushed her hair. She grabbed her new backpack and out the door we went.  In the car as we waited for the bus we made a video to pass the time and we talked.

She worried no one would talk to her, or no one like her glasses (you know things all 6 year olds worry about)  My heart broken for her. The idea we had moved and she would not be with her friends had finally hit her.  How do you convince a first grader everything will be ok when you are worried about the exact same things?  I gave her the “You will be just fine, I know it” speech, but I worried all day.  Worried if anyone would talk to her, worried if she would feel all alone,worried because that’s what moms do.   She made it through the day and when we picked her up she was smiling. She loved her new teacher and breakfast was awesome she said. She said she had talked to a few new people and that she was sure she would have new friends soon.  She was more relaxed than she was this morning and could not wait to get home and show me all she had brought home.  She will be fine for she is strong, she is confident, she is a survivor.  I will still worry, it’s what I do, but she will not let anything get in her way. And because of that I know she will be just fine.

Tomorrow our five year old goes to his introduction to kindergarten at his new school. The two will not be in the same school. JR will be going to a school that has a special classroom for children with autism.  You can tell he is also nervous about going to a new school.  Back in WV I knew all the teachers at the school. My older kids had went there years ago and so did my neice and nephew. I was on a first name basis with most of them so the anxiety about sending him to school was there but I knew enough people to keep an eye on him making it bearable to let him go.Tonight he said  he will not be going to school tomorrow. He says he wants to stay little. I can tell he is scared even though he has few words to describe his feelings. He has cuddled more, kissed my forehead more and been by my side all night.  With our daughter I was able to give her a pep talk and send her on our way. It’s not that simple with him. I know he will have a better opportunity here to receive a top notch education, but the familiar faces of home is what I need tonight to help me tell him it will be ok, I need them to tell me it will be ok. 

So tonight as I did last night I will lay in bed praying for tomorrow. Praying he will be ok, that he will find his place in the new room, praying he will like his teacher and make new friends, praying for protection praying for comfort, praying because I don’t know what else to do. I worry about him. 
Moving can bring about many fears and unknowns especially when you have kids. The only thing I know for a fact is that God is in control.  He brought us here for a reason. He has been with us the whole way and He will be with us tomorrow. Our faith in His plan is strong even if we don’t know what the plan is. I am sure I will worry about him tomorrow but I know God would not have placed us here just to have me worry. I will hug him and love him as soon as he gets out and we will take this school year one day at a time. Pray for us.
From our beautiful chaos to yours may this school year be a success