I Saw You Today

I saw you today but could not say a word. You have grown since I last held you in my arms. You look like you’re doing well. I heard your grandma bragging that you are trying to roll over, she looks tried but her face lights up as she talks about how far you have come. She will never know who I am, and I’m ok with that. She did thank us though your caseworker when you went to stay with her. I’m sure it’s hard on her knowing her own child put you through this, I know she is grateful you came to us until she could get you home (she told your worker that). I wish I could have asked her to send me updates on your progress or if she would care to send me a picture every now and then. But I’m just a part of your story no one wants to talk about. Foster care is hard sometimes.

I will never know who you turn out to be. And that is hard. You will forever be our little guy. Sometimes we get to watch, thanks to social media, how our little loves are doing, we cherish the friendships that have come from the dark spots of foster care. Not all forever homes are willing to allow us to continue to be apart of our little loves lives and even though that’s hard it’s part of foster care.

So I will cherish our time we had together. I will remember how you giggled as I tickled your feet, how you loved to be held as you fell asleep, and how you fit in my arms. Those are our moments. You will forever be part of my heart and a part of our family. And who knows maybe one day we will see each other again, and just like today I will smile from afar. I’m so happy God placed us in your path to get you to your forever home. I am so thankful He called us to be your foster parents. Moments like today make it all worth it.

Blessed to be a foster momma even on the hard days ❤️

Missing A Call

Tomorrow is my birthday. Over the last 41 years I have heard the story of my birth from different points of view, but by far one of my favorites is the way my grandmother tells it or should I say never lets me forget.

It was Easter Sunday. And like most God fearing Baptist women, my grandmother had went out and purchased a new dress to wear for the Easter services at church. In today’s society we buy new clothes at the drop of a hat and think nothing of it but back then money was tight. Buying new clothes from the department store was not done often. In fact my grandmother made most of the clothes the family wore, but once a year, on Easter, well now that was a special day and my grandmother had sought out and found the perfect Easter outfit. That Easter however God had bigger plans for her than showing of her new dress at church. Grandma, me and all my kiddos

The story goes she was getting ready when they called to let her know my mom was in labor. Not wanting to get the smell of the hospital on her new dress she quickly changed before coming down to the hospital to wait the arrival of little ol me. She never made it to church that Easter, instead she welcomed a new granddaughter into the world.

She had a sense of humor about her and as I went though my twenties and thirties she would call me on my birthday, to wish me happy birthday and to remind me that she didn’t get to wear that pretty new dress. The conversation was always short and sweet, she didn’t see the need to stay on the phone to long. But her calling made my day. Grandmas are special.

As I was getting ready for bed this evening I realized I won’t be getting my call tomorrow. And that makes my heart sad. I miss her so much. But as I think back over the many things we shared the story of the day I was born makes me smile. We shared so many wonderful memories together. I was blessed to have her for 41 years my children had her in their lives. She taught me to love the Lord, to love my family, to enjoy game shows and candy. She taught me to quilt and she tried to teach me to cook (some things just can’t be done) She may not have got to wear that pretty new dress 42 years ago, but I bet you anything she is rocking an amazing dress just for me this year. And I’m sure she’s looking down laughing saying something like, Looky here baby girl isn’t it beautiful? I finally got to wear it.

Yes, yes you did grandma.

Grandma I’m sure your dress is gorgeous and I know you’re rocking those new angel wings. I know you can’t call me tomorrow but I know you’ll be with me. Let me fell your presence as only you can. Going though life without you these last few months has been hard, I miss you everyday. I will be looking for your sign to me tomorrow, I know if anyone can get a message from heaven to earth it will be you. Continue to guide me until I see you again. Love you ❤️

Fitting Room Fuss

Spring has finally arrived.  The birds are singing, the frogs ugh the frogs that noise, and the kiddos have discovered the creek that flows beside my parents house.  I love spring time.  Spring also means out with the old and in with the new….clothes that is.  Does anyone else dread trying on new shorts and bathing suits as much as I do?

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My oldest daughter, mother, and I are taking a cruise next month.  My mother has never been on a cruise so, my daughter and I thought it would be fun to take her on one for her birthday now that’s she retired and can actually take a few days for herself to relax. All three of us are looking forward to it.  My daughter was just excepted into grad school so it will be nice for her to get away before she’s bogged down with work and college and for me well, I jumped at the chance to spend five days with only adults.  I love my little loves but every mom needs some “me time” every now and then.

Our passports are in order, our luggage bags are prepacked with the essential goodies, all we need now are a few new pairs of shoes, some new shorts and of course the bathing suit. With only a month to go, I can’t wait any longer to go pick one out.  It is time.

We made a quick trip back to our hometown this weekend to get on our parents and to take part in a birthday celebration. While there I found a few hours to go shopping.  The fitting room can be such an interesting place, especially during the the changing of the seasons.  Today was no exception.

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I hate trying on clothes, but I hate buying clothes only to get them home and them not fit more. So like half of the shoppers in the store today, I gathered up my wish list items and made my way back to the tiny off white cubical’s that make up the fitting room. What is it about those little rooms that make people act so crazy?  In one stall, was a little boy maybe around the age of nine, he felt he was to old to be in the fitting room with his mom and  definitely to old to have her pick out his clothes while his mother seemed to think he was still two by the was she talked to him.  Sweetie, are you doing okay in there? Do you need mommy to come help you?  Sweetie, make sure the shorts aren’t to tight in your crouch area.  In another stall an exhausted mom was trying on dresses with her two very active toddlers.  The little girl was full of complements as her mommy tried on dress after dress, Mommy you look beautifulest in the flower one.  I love that one too mommy.  Let’s get them all.  While the little boy was not as impressed and entertained himself by crawling under the wall to the stalls next to him until little sis ratted him out and then he started crying, correction screaming.  Screaming that he was bored, screaming that he was starving.  Screaming that he should have stayed with daddy instead of coming with the girls.  I heard the mom let out a sigh.  I’ve been in her shoes more times than I care to count.  Shopping for yourself with the kids in tow is hard.  (Side note thank you mom and dad for watching my kiddos so I could get out of the house by myself for a few minutes today)  Still in another stall was a young lady, I’m guessing 15 or 16, with her cell phone in one hand and ten pairs or short shorts in the other she made her way to the fitting room.  She looked aggravated, and by the speed she was texting I’m sure she was telling someone about it, but that’s when I noticed her dad.  He clearly had no idea what he was doing but he was trying.  As the swarm of mother’s came in and out of the waiting area handing in new clothes and taking back clothes that didn’t fit here was this dad holding short shorts for his daughter.  She would bring a few pairs out and tell him to go get her some more and he would.  Clearly he did not feel comfortable doing what he was doing, but he was doing it for her.  He loved her enough to take on the chaos of the fitting room.  I had to smile.  I don’t know their story, maybe he told her the shorts were to short or maybe her mom got called out to work, or who know’s what was going on, but I do know that in that moment that dad was willing to take on one of the most hated places on the planet for most women for his daughter. And that was my reminder that there is still good in this world for the day.

I finished trying on my items and liked the way a few of them fit.  As I left the fitting room the one mom was still handing her son clothes over the top of the stall just as fast as he was shoving them under the door.  He was done trying stuff on, she just hadn’t figured that out yet.  The mom with the two toddlers was trying to load the little boy in the buggy while the little girl now cried because she was not getting a new dress like her mommy.  As I passed the brave dad, he smiled, Nice day out there isn’t it? , he said as his daughter handed him a few shirts.  It sure is, I said as I smiled back.

I made it back to my parents house and my little loves were ready to go outside. If the fitting room taught me anything its that we all of things going on.  We need to take time and enjoy what’s in front of us.  Our fussy little ones will be annoyed teens before we know it.  Take a few minutes to enjoy the present, be in the now.  I may be taking a cruise next month but until then the creek life is fine with me.

 

Beautiful Chaos is now AVAILABLE!!!

Hello everyone,

For those of you who have been following the release of my first book Beautiful Chaos Our Story about Foster Care, Adoption, Faith and Love, the wait is over!! It is now available.

I want to thank all of you who have supported this project in some way. For those that helped me fund the project THANK YOU!! For those that have prayed for the book and for me Thank you!! For those that gave me the encouragement to get it started and then to get it completed Thank you!! I am truly humbled by what is taking place.

Thank you to my beautiful family for allowing me to share a glimpse of our life with the world. Thank you to my wonderful husband who not only lives this crazy life with me but also has had to listen to me over the last few months give him play by play details as our story became a book reality. Mostly I want to thank God for allowing us to be a small part in His beautiful masterpiece. He has allowed us to be part of some many lives on this foster care adventure. He has been my comfort when a child is placed back with a birth parent or relative, He has been my guide when I did not know what to do, He has been my protector when situations have become unsafe, but above all He has been my friend that has walked with me every step of the way. To You oh Lord, be ALL the glory.

This book is for you!

If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent or have ever wondered what it takes to foster a child, if you have ever thought about adopting, or if you have ever questioned your plan in Gods story I encourage you to read our story. My hope is that it inspires at least one person/one family to open their heart to the idea of becoming foster parents. If one child gains a safe place to lay his or her head at night then everything struggle and every worry in making this book a reality was worth it. It’s all about the kids. Always

You can find the book at the following websites:

WestBowPress.com

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Check it out and let me know what you think

From our beautiful chaos to yours, may you find a way to make your mark In this great big world. One act of kindness at a time

Today was a Good Day

What a great day, just what we needed. Today was well overdue so I am thankful.  The last few months have been brutal.  This was the first weekend in over six weeks that everyone in the house was feeling well.  The month of February alone our little loves had four double ear infections, three cases of the stomach bug, two upper respiratory infections, four fevers, one cutting teeth, and then my husband had the “man cold”.  We all know that last one was the hardest on all of us, right ladies?  I don’t know how we didn’t catch the flu, but praise God it spared us.

On top of all of that we received test results back from the geneticist for Alex.  It has been confirmed he has Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND).  Eli with his chronic stomach issues was given the diagnosis of Underdeveloped Bowel Syndrome. And I was told I would have to have back surgery again.  When it rains it pours.

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Today it was time to get out of the house and forget about all the bad stuff and just have fun.

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I stumbled across a local autism group called Autism Site Knoxville (ASK).  They were hosting their fourth annual Day at the aquarium today.  When I saw the invite last week I thought it would be the perfect way for us to spend a Saturday morning. And how could we pass up the low cost of only 10 dollars per person?  As the day came closer however all the normal mom worries started coming to the surface.  We had not even made it to church in two months how in the world would the kids do at the aquarium? Would it be to crowed for JR?  How would he do with the noise? What is he had a meltdown? How would my husband and I handle it with all the other little loves in tow?  This would be the first big outing that we had done in months and we would be doing it without the help of our older children or grandparents.  Not going to lie I was a little overwhelmed.  But when your four hours away from family you got to go out on your own at some point. With our family its just a much larger challenge than most.

So this morning we loaded four very excited and two very sleepy children into our 12 passenger van at the wee hour of 6am so we could drive a little over two hours to be there when the aquarium at 8:00.  The event ran from 730 to 1030 but of course we were free to stay longer.  I am so glad we went.  The staff was super sweet and handed out goldfish, gummies, and water to the kids as we came in.  Being that early in the morning the kids were able to walk around and enjoy all the different tanks without being ran over by other people.

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The event organizers had different sensory stations set up throughout the aquarium so if JR or even our other kids wanted to take a break they could.  The lights were softened and the background music was turned off. Everyone there got it.  Everyone there was living in the world of autism.  There were no nasty remarks about behaviors, or looks when he made his unique noises, and no one stared at us.  Okay some people did look at us but it was not because of JR it was because of the size of our crew lol.  He rode in his stroller for a while then walked with me for a while. He pointed out the scary sharks and the huge sea turtles.  And he made it known he did not like the seahorses, after all real horses don’t look like that.

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He made friends with other people waiting outside and made sure to tell all the moms we passed just how cute their babies were.  And no one cared that he was talking to them or touching them.  Most told him thank you or even told him he was a cutie as well, to which he would just laugh and smile.  He really enjoyed himself. Our other kids had a great time as well.  We don’t get to do things like this often unless we have our backup team to help us in case he has a major meltdown or takes off running. He has no safety concerns at all.  So thank you ASK for making today possible.  Thank you for hosting events like this so that children and adults with autism can go and do everyday things.  Thank you for opening it up to all of our children so that we could attend as a family. Thank you for a day we will not soon forget. Thank you for giving us a day were all of our kids could just be kids. Thank you for helping this mom see her son really enjoy himself today.  Today was a good day and we so needed a good day.

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Education and Autism

Let me start off by saying fair/equal education should be available for ALL children. It’s that simple. No child (or their parent) should have to fight for an education that many take for granted. However, if you have a child with special needs I will warn you it’s a fight. Every. Single. Day.

I will say that where we live now seems to have a better system in place then where we once lived. But it’s still a struggle. All I want, all any decent parent wants, is for their son or daughter to succeed. That starts at home and at school.

My wild man is almost seven. He attends a public school. In order for his needs to be met we have an IEP in place (some states call it a 504) Basically it is a plan that lays out my sons strengths and weaknesses. His plan gives him scheduled speech times and OT times durning school. His plan also calls for an aid to help get him on task throughout the day. Sounds perfect right? I thought so at first.

Last year he was in an autism/special needs classroom. The class size was eight children and eight aids plus the teacher. There was a calming room, sensory toys and tools, and even an OT room. He’s teacher taught him to hold a pencil and he finally was able to write his name. He was excited to go to school. He loved his class and peers. It was perfect and he was doing amazing. To amazing according to the school. At the end of the year it was agreed (I went along with it thinking they knew what they were talking about) that he would be placed in a normal classroom for his first grade year.

Normal, an odd word in the land of autism. Nothing about our lives or wild man is normal. Why oh why did I think this would work. The first few weeks went okay. I think he was excited to be back at school. But as the days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months he slowly started hating going to school. One of the things that aggregate him (okay me) is that he is now expected to do spelling test. I know, I know all kids have to take spelling test. I get that. But he is still working on forming letters, how is he suppose to spell a word if he does not know all the letters to the word? In the last six weeks he has managed to get one word correct. One. One out of sixty. The word was frog. When he showed me his paper he beamed with pride. Look momma I did good. Frog ribbit ribbit. The nine red X’s did not phase him. But they crushed me. Another his personal aid has four other students. How is she suppose to care for my son’s needs when she has four other kids? Thank you budget cuts. He has sensory issues so he eats only a few foods. Two of those being peanut butter and Stage two peas, yes the baby food peas. Well he can’t take peanut butter because someone in the other class has a peanut allergy. As far as the peas, a boy in his class called him a baby for eating baby food so those are now out as well.

He is lost and I don’t know what to do. Part of me was so excited to hear he was doing so well at the end of last year, but part of me worried that he would get over looked and left behind in a regular classroom. My fear as become his reality. He hates going to school now. And even though he can’t articulate why he hates it I have a feeling I know why.

So, I started looking for a new school. And I thought I had found one. It was a private school so the classroom sizes were small and they worked on an individual plan based program virus the whole class learning the same thing. It seemed to be the perfect school, until I was told how much it would cost. One year over 12,000 dollars. Wow. We are a one income family currently with six little ones in the house. There is no way we can afford that kind of tuition or justify it. That’s when it hit me, we need public schools that specialize in special needs. Why should it cost so much more for them to receive a descent education?

It’s time for better education for my son and all the other children who have autism, or Down syndrome, or any special need. Why should they get left behind or overlooked? Why should their disability be a magnet for educators or providers to charge more for their services? Have you looked at the cost for some of the sensory products or equipment for those with special needs? It’s insane. What’s a mom to do?

We fight. Day in day out. We become the face the principal and staff at the school dread to see. We make sure our concerns are being heard and that they are being met. We become moms like Maya DiMeo off of Speechless. We go in demanding and we don’t back down. Ooooh good you’re here...again

The fact is I would love for my son to be what society defines as normal. I think all special needs parents feel that from time to time. It’s natural for us to want our children to fit in. But the reality is he is not. He was made to stand out. No matter how hard he tries or how much I pray he will never be “normal” and that’s ok. God made him in His image so my son is exactly how he is suppose to be. He may learn different,act different, and talk different but different does not make his less. As his mom it is my job to make sure everyone sees that.

I will fight for you, for your education, for your independence, and for you to be excepted. Mostly I will fight so others can see you the way I see you. My brilliant, creative, funny and loving son. Don’t worry wild man, momma’s got this!

Mamaw’s Chair

My brother and I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house when we were growing up. They lived just up the holler (up the road for you city folk) which make it easy to see them everyday. We spent our evenings there until mom and dad made it in from work and during school breaks they also watched us during the day. Most of my childhood memories come from that house. Many of those memories are centered around a chair. An old spinning leopard print chair.

For as long as I can remember the chair has been part of our family. From what I can remember my grandmothers brother, my great uncle, gave her the chair. After a few years my grandmother wanted to replace the worn out upholstery. Her brother offered to take it to where he worked and replace the fabric for her with some that the shop was trying to get off their shelf. The end result a leopard print chair that matched absolutely nothing.

My brother and I would spend hours spinning in that chair. I can remember many times we would be in the chair and our grandma was yell in and tell us, You better not be spinning in my chair. You know someone could fall off and get hurt. All the while our grandpa was the one spinning us faster trying not to laugh. Good times. Precious memories. As the years went by grandpa replaced the legs as they wore out. With four different legs the chair did not set level making the spinning even more exciting to my younger self. Keep in mind this was our entertainment, there were no IPhones back then.

After my grandparents passed away the chair ended up at my parents house and when I got married the chair moved in with me. And just like my brother and I, my daughter and son enjoyed countless hours spinning in the chair and using it to make the best living room forts.

Fast forward to three years ago and we were now we are foster parents/ parents to four new little loves that also loved this chair. The forty plus years of childhood spinning had caught up to the chair. And one day while wild man and Diva were playing the back broke completely off. My heart sank and I cried for days. I could not bear to throw the chair out but we could not find anyone willing to repair the chair. So I covered it and placed it in our garage.

The chair moved with us when we came to Tennessee. Everyday I would see it in the black plastic in our garage. After we were all settled in I called around looking for a furniture repair shop. A few could do the upholstery work but not the repair while others could do the repair but not the upholstery. I was being to think my grandmas chair would never be again. Then I found a man named Jack. He told me that he would be more than happy to reupholster the chair and that he was sure his good buddy could repair it. I was excited. So early in December I dropped the chair off to his shop. I gave him the background story and he said he would try to match the fabric. I knew that would be a long shot so I told him if he could not to just do a soft black, grandma always wished it would have been plain to match her other furniture. I was not surprised when he called and said he could not find the print anywhere. Sad but not surprised. He went with a solid black and it was ready to be picked up.

So a few days ago I made my way over to his shop and picked up my grandmas chair. When I walked in and saw it I cried. It was beautiful. He had not found the print to match but he had found the original legs. He loved the story behind the chair and even kept what he could of the leopard print so that I could make a pillow or something with it. I could not thank him enough for saving the chair for me.

I brought it home and it now has a new place in my living room.

I know it’s not the leopard print that it once was but I do believe grandma would be pleased with how it turned out. It still stands out and will now be able to withstand many more years of children giggling while they spin around. And who knows maybe one day down the road my future grandchildren will smile as they recall the good times they had at grandmas spinning in her old chair just as I do. To many this is just a chair, but to me it’s memories, it’s a piece of my grandmother. It’s love and laughter. It’s part of my childhood. I am so thankful to have it back. Me and Sadie girl in Mamaw Sadie’s chairThe next generation of spinners