Posted in blessed, Faith, family, Hope, life, love, thankful

What would I say to a Younger Me? 

On the way to school this morning the kids and I were jamming out to our local Christian radio station.  The song Dear Younger Me came on and it got me to thinking about what I would say to my past self if there was a way.  Would I tell myself to do things different? Would I tell myself to stay away from certain people? What would I say if given the chance?  My answer surprised me.  

Earlier this month my ex husband turned 40.  I remember back when I was in high school and thinking 40 was sooooo old. (I turned 41 this year) Man time flies. Anyways, on that day I was standing in my kitchen making some lunch for my little ones and for some reason I walked by the calendar and it hit me. He turns 40 today.   I don’t think of him often but there are a few things that always remind me of him.  And if you have read my post Domestic Violence a Survivors story, My Story, you know we did not separate on good terms, but for a split second my old teenage heart sighed.  

When I was thinking about what I would say to my younger self, my first thoughts were Don’t fall for him. Don’t let him hurt you. Don’t believe him when he says it will never happen again. Don’t stay it will only get worse….get out now!!  Our marriage was nowhere near perfect. But if I had not fallen for him I would not have my oldest two children, my beautiful daughter or my amazing son.  If I were somehow able to change the past they would not be here. And they are my world.  The pain and hurt  I went through was numbing and I pray nobody ever has to go through it, however because of that hurt I now know what it truly means to be loved by someone not just used by someone. God has a plan for everything and His timing is always on time.  If I would have left my marriage earlier, weeks, or months, or even years earlier I would not be where I am today.  Todd teases me all the time if we would have met a few years earlier I would not have liked him much and likewise I am sure he would not have given me a second mind.  I am not saying God planned on me being in an abuse relationship for any amount of time, that’s not how He works. He does however take our darkest points in our lives and finds ways for His love and light to shine through. When He saw I needed someone He sent me my hero, my soulmate, my wonderful husband Todd (nine years and counting, love you sweetie) 

The truth is I am who I am because of my past.  My love for family comes from countless nights and weekends spent at both of my grandparents homes as a child.  My joy of helping others comes from watching my mom make a difference daily as she worked in the medical field for years. My love for the Green Bay Packers comes from watching games (both the good and the bad) over the years with my dad and cheering them on regardless of the outcome.  My love of food, even though I am not a good cook, comes from the many family reunions and family get togethers where love was spread one buttered roll at a time. 

We all have moments were we wish we could change something we did or something we said. And even though it would be nice to erase the bad we become stronger with each storm we face and with each valley we walk through. 

If I could change anything I would tell my younger self, life turns out alright.  I would say spend more time listening to Papaw W. tell his fishing and hunting stories, and watch one more scary movie with Mamaw S. even though you won’t sleep for a week.  I would tell me to let my brother and mamaw win one more game of Canasta against me and Papaw L because you will treasure those game stories forever.  I would tell me to fall in love with my ex even though there will be hurt because two of your greatest blessings come from that love. I would tell me to follow closer to God because you can’t even imagine how He blesses and grows your family later in life. I would say you will make some amazing friendships.  Embrace them while they are in their season and make memories to carry you through long after they are gone. Life happens and people drift apart. I would tell me there is so much more to you than you realize, believe in yourself, always have hope and never lose faith. Gods got this. 

I doubt my ex thinks of me much this days.  And I am perfectly okay with that. But I am sure I’m not the only person who hears a song or smells a certain food or even looks at what day it is and stops and reminisces of a time long ago, before life took a different direction. I have moved on and so has he. We are both remarried and as far as I know we are both happy now.  In order for me to heal from the past I forgave him I long time ago. Not for him but for me. Fear and hate will consume you if you allow it.  I will not live in fear and my heart has no room for hate.  I love life now. I love my kids, my husband, my family and myself. 

Dear younger me, you turn out pretty alright. Enjoy your life it’s an amazing ride. 

Posted in Being a mom, blessed, Children, Church, Faith, family, life, love, Mom life, thankful

I Am, I am Not….Where do I fit in with God’s Plan? 

 

Sunday mornings are Always crazy at our house.  Trying to get all our little loves ready and out the door in time for morning service can be challenging at best.  I knew yesterday would be no different.  If anything it would be more difficult once they realized they were going to their new Sunday school classrooms. 

It wasn’t one big thing but many little things that had me thinking It’s just one service, no one would miss us if we didn’t go today. What harm could it do by staying home?  Then I realized I had said those same words last week when our six year old autistic son simply refused to go so I stayed home with him, baby girl, and Big Al while my husband took our other two children to service.  It’s so simple to slip into the routine of not going when you have small children. There are days it just does not seem worth the fight to go. And it’s not that they dislike church, they really enjoy church, it’s just the getting ready without fighting they can’t seem to do. And we want them to go.  We want them to grow in their own faith. So as I looked at my little loves, two of which were fighting over what cartoon to watch, one still sleepy and wanting her bottle, and one refusing to put on a dress because she wanted to wear the pink shorts and green shirt she had picked out instead, I took a deep breath and said Not today devil I can handle whatever you throw my way.   

God knew I needed to be at that service.  

Our pastor’s message was on John the Baptist. I sat in the service with my husband by my side thinking about the mess our morning had been. Somedays I don’t feel I am enough or good enough.  The day in day out battles we face with our daughters RAD and our sons autism can be overwhelming at times, and let’s not forget we have three other little ones who are well under four so I will leave it at that.   We had made it to service and managed to get all of the kiddos to their new classes without to many tears but I was exhausted. I just wanted to go in set down relax for a few minutes without children hanging off me.  Not the best reason to go to church I know.  But as I sat there and listened to our pastor talk about how John was questioned  by the priests  as to “Who he was”  I could not help but question myself.  Who am I? John knew he was not Jesus and was quick to tell them he was not. He also told them he was not Elijah nor was he the prophet.  (John 1 19-28) It would have been easy for him to take credit and say Yes I am, but he did not. Instead he stayed humbled and followed the path God intended for him. 

So who am I? Where do I fit in to His master plan?  

I don’t know the whole answer, I may never know.  But I do know He placed me here in this moment for a reason. He made a way for me to be a mother to seven amazing children all uniquely made in His image. He blessed me with a truly wonderful husband. He knows my every flaw and still He loves me anyway.  I may second guess myself from time to time but God believes in me with all He has.  How truly awesome is that?

 I don’t always have the picture perfect family were everyone gets along and everyone is happy to see each other.  No in fact most days we have at least one mad at someone because they “looked at them weird.”  And I may get embarrassed and a little upset while trying to talk to someone on the parking lot and my kids are screaming in the car like crazy animals (side note there was a hornet in the van which set the screaming in motion, my husband was able to remove it but the screaming continued) I may feel unqualified to parent when I see others with their children so well behaved in the store while mine are…..well not behaving as  I wish.  It’s all okay because He is the Great I AM. 
For when I feel weak – He is strong

When I am tired – He gives me rest

When I am unlovable- He loves me anyway 

When I hurt- He is my comforter 

When I am lost – He will find me

When I simply can not go on- He will carry me

When I question why- He answers 

I am where I am suppose to be. God has placed us all here not to just wake up, go to work, pay bills, and sleep. He placed us here to love each other and to support each other.  And when life seems to be just to different for us to do alone He wants us to know He is there for us.  We must all be like John and find our place in History.  

I am so thankful we didn’t let the devil win yesterday morning. I am thankful we made it to church and heard the message. I am thankful the kids enjoyed their new classes and want to go back. I am thankful I could sing His praises yesterday, today and forever more.  Yehweh Yehweh 

Posted in blessed, domestic violence survivor, family, foster parent life, Home, Husband, life, love, thankful

My Happy Ever After

Ten years ago I was in a dark dangerous place.  I was depressed, hurt, scared,and trapped in an abusive loveless marriage.  I was alone. The few friends that did know what was going on turned out not to be my friends at all when I finally found the courage to take my children and get out.  11 years was enough.  I could not physically or emotionally take it anymore and my kids were getting old enough to see what was going on.  I did not know how we would make it I just knew if I stayed I would not survive. So with my two kids in my arms and faith in my heart I left the only life I had known.
I was not sure God would give me a second chance at being happy let alone falling in love.  I was not a bad person but I had not always been a saint either. There are things in my past I wish I could change but what’s done is done. I have asked for forgiveness and I truly believe God has forgiven me. I try each day to be a better person than I was yesterday hoping to make the world a better place for at least one person.  But I’m human and still did not feel I was worthy enough to be loved again.  That’s when God sent Todd into my life.

I don’t talk about him much on here.  He is a pretty private person.  However yesterday we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.  That completely blows my mind.  How did I go from unloved and broken 10 years ago to getting married to the love of my life 8 years ago?  I’ll tell you, it was Gods plan.  I’m not saying God planned on me being abused and getting a divorce. I’m saying He took the darkest point in my life and found away to shine His love through. 

Todd came back into my life when I needed someone to show me love, compassion, understanding, and friendship. He finds the good in me when I don’t see it. He makes me laugh and makes me feel safe. He is more than just a husband. He is a terrific father to all of our kids, my two older ones and the five we have adopted. In his eyes they are all his kids he does not show favoritism. He loves them all and cares for them as only a father can.  He taught our oldest two how to drive, cried as our oldest daughter graduated college, cheered as our oldest son played his sax at band competitions, he has changed his fair share of diapers and made more midnight bottles than most men I can guarantee. He works crazy hours to provide for us and always makes sure we have what we need.  He has stood by my side when friends and family questioned us about becoming foster parents, about adopting one more child, and about moving 300 miles away from everyone.  He has my back always and supports me in everything.  I am so thankful God crossed our paths again. 

We don’t do many gifts for each other, our focus is always on the kids but this year he has surprised me on a few occasions.  He knows the move was hard on me, I had lived in a 15 mile radius my whole life, moving out of state after 40 years was scary.  He has went out of his way to show me how much he appreciates me this year with little things.  Things I never expected but will forever treasure.  I am truly blessed to be his wife.  


The point of this sappy blog is this.  We all deserve happiness, we all deserve our happy ever after.  God is a God of second, third, tenth, and twenty chances.  He loves us so much that even in our darkest points He is working on a better brighter life for us.  Don’t lose faith.  You may not see Gods plan for your life, I know I didn’t, but it’s there waiting for you.  I am happier now than I’ve ever been. I know now what true love really is. I am now stronger, wiser, and beyond blessed. You can be too.  Just let go take that first step and trust that He will guide you through the storm and over whatever mountain you face.

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Don’t let their perfect posts fool you, You are a great mom too

Well I did it again, well almost. I let myself get caught up in the fake world of social media parenting.  You may know what I’m talking about. Thankfully I was able to snap out of it before I started questioning my parenting skills.

We all have people on our sites that seem to have it all together.  Their kids take the perfect family photos, they make the honor roll every semester, they go to the store and their kids are perfect little angels, their homes always spotless and clutter free, they go on lavish trips for vacations or take cruises multiple times a year. Their kids are perfect in every way. They are the perfect parents.  When I use to see post like this I could not help but question my own mom skills.  I would look around at my beautiful chaos and think were did I go wrong? What are they doing that I’m not? I would beat myself up about not being the perfect mom.  But you know what, I don’t do that anymore. Here’s why

I am the best mom I can be. My kids are the best kids they can be. And news flash no one is perfect.  I gave up on having the perfect family photo a long time ago. Trying to get five little ones to sit still and face the camera is hard enough let alone trying to get them all to show me their adorable smiles at the same time.  Our family photos have them being kids. Someone is always looking off in the wrong direction or someone has dirt or candy on their face.  And you know what, I love my family photos. To me they are perfect.


My kids play hard from the time they wake up till the time they go to bed. So we have toys everywhere. My house is never “spotless.”  If that’s what you are expecting when you come to visit please don’t come over.

The truth is we are all doing our best at this parenting thing.  We should not feel guilty or upset with ourselves when someone else seems to have it all together. We all have bad days but we also all have great days. Don’t compare yourself to the mom down the road or to the mom at football practice. You, YES YOU, are doing a great job.

So if you’re the mom who makes a five star breakfast every morning or you’re the mom who serves Cheerios and pop tarts. You are amazing.

If you’re the mom that makes it to every PTA/PTO meeting at school and serve as the homeroom mom or if you’re the mom that just sends in the snacks or cash when asked. You are wonderful.

If you’re the mom who takes your kids to Disney or the beach for vacation or if you’re the mom who blows up the kiddy pool for the backyard oasis for the stay at home vacation. You rock.

If you’re the mom who makes sure your child is spotless or if you’re the mom who let’s your kids play in the mud. You are fantastic.

If you’re the mom who homeschools or the mom who pays for private school or the mom who uses public schools. You are changing the world.

If you’re the mom the works outside the home or if you’re the stay at home mom. You are beautiful.

If you’re the mom that does crafts everyday or if you’re the mom that slips the kids an IPad. You are doing great.

If you’re the biological mom,or the step mom, or the foster mom, or the kinship mom.  If you have one child or ten or if you have a newborn, toddler, teenager, or an adult “child”. You are loved and so needed.

If you’re a mom that ever questions her worth just look at your children.  They are beautiful, they are loved, and they are happy.  They might not always see eye to eye with you and that’s okay.  (On those days I keep a Dr Pepper and chocolate on hand) It’s okay to have bad days every now and then.  Truth be told there are days I feel I fail my kids miserably. But God placed these little loves with me for a reason. He saw something in me that I do not see. He in trusted me with their lives and I will do my best to be the best I can be.

We are all in this together. Parenting is hard. Be happy for each other. Don’t let yourself get pulled into the world of “how I should be a better mom look at her”  that social media beats in our heads.  You are a good mom.  So post those pics of your kid covered in mud, or the ones were they have  turned the playroom upside down, or the family photo were little Johnny is picking his nose.  Those photos make your family perfect.  Those photos make you are terrific mom.

From our beautiful chaos to yours we moms have to stick together.  We should Build each other up not tear others down


Posted in autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Can We Stop with the Fireworks Already!?

I, like most Americans, love Independence Day.  My husband was in the Army and I have several other family members that have served in the military.  I love everything that the 4th of July stands for. This includes the fireworks displays.  But our neighbors are going on night 10 of their celebration and I’m starting to come unglued.


Last Friday, that would be June 30, the celebration kicked off.  My husband and I were prepared for it. With the 4th falling on a Tuesday we assumed the weekend prior would be filled with neighbors setting off their own magical displays.  We tried to prepare our six year son, who’s autistic, but he really didn’t understand what we were talking about until he heard “the loud giants fighting” outside.  No clue why he thought the fireworks sounded like giants but that’s what he came up with.  The sounds scared him to death, much like they scared my other neighbors poor little dog (we could hear him barking up into the wee hours of the night) Friday and Saturday came and went and we thought to ourselves “we made it through” until Sunday night rolled around. By 930 they were celebrating yet again. By the time The 4th actually came around I was sure they had to be out of fireworks.  

But I was wrong. 


The sky around our little neighborhood lite up in bright colors of reds, green, blues, and golds. For hours different neighbors took turns setting off their displays celebrating their Independence Day. Which would have been beautiful if we could have actually enjoyed looking out the window. However in our home it was different. My husband and I took turns holding not only our six year old but by that time one of our three year olds and our 20 month old joined him in being scared to death of the giants that continued to fight night after night.  “Why must the giants fight momma? Why are they so mad? What did we do to upset them?  What if they don’t see us they could step on us momma”  

My husband and I are exhausted and so are three of our babies.

Tonight we are going on night ten. I am hoping (fingers crossed) that tonight is the final night of celebration. For nine nights we have shared our bed with not one but three terrified kids. Sleep is not something that has happened much.  I have claw marks on my arms and neck where baby girl has literally climbed up me shaking to get away from the noise.  I have a place on my leg where wild man was squeezing me and refused to let go until he knew the giants were gone.  It’s been a long ten days.

Pray the fireworks stop tonight. 

From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s okay to celebrate it truly is, just please be considerate of your neighbors and their kids (or pets.) 10 days of fireworks is more than enough.   

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, Lesson learned, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Sam’s Club Pickup Service: Is it really that convenient? 

“Taking five kids to the store will be fun” are words that have never came out of my mouth….ever. Three I can do no problem. Four can be done but when I get all five together it does not seem to go so well. Grocery shopping is a must and with summer in full swing it seems to be the only thing I manage to get done weekly(sometimes twice a week)  The challenge is trying to push two buggies around the store with five children in tow.  To make things easier my husband and I have been taking turns running to the store.  But there are times taking all five just can’t be avoided.  We recently started exploring ways to make our shopping experience easier, or at least we thought it would be easier. 

I admit, I do my fair share of ordering off of Amazon. I like the convenience of my order showing up at my doorstep within a few days. But never really thought about ordering our groceries online. But when my husband said, Hey let’s try Sam’s Club pickup, I was willing to give it a try.  We sat down with a modified list and clicked away on the products we needed. Being our first pick up we keep things simple: paper towels, juice boxes for the kids, some snack foods for the kids and a few cleaning supplies.  We placed the order and even picked the time we wanted it ready for pickup. We selected between 11 and noon so I could pick the kids up some lunch while we were out. 

The next morning I received an email and text saying our order was ready for pickup. I loaded the kids in our van and headed down the road.  When I arrived at Sam’s I pulled in the drive-thru area marked Pickup orders. I quickly realized that there was no window, nor door, nor employee anywhere in sight.  I was the only vehicle in line so I waited a few minutes to see if maybe someone would come out. When I realized no one was going to come I pulled the van forward so I could see inside the store.  

By this time the kiddos have seen Walmart, its right beside Sam’s , and McDonald’s is now straight in front of us.   The three boys start chanting Walmart Walmart Walmart because they all want new Cars 3 toys.  Diva is screaming she wants a milkshake and the baby is now crying because she has been rudely awakened from her nap by all the commotion taking place in the van.  So much for an easy pick up.

I see a Sam’s employee walking into the store and start waving my arms like a crazy lady to get his attention (as if the screaming and crying from my van was not enough) I explained to him I had an order to pick up but was not sure what I needed to do.  He told me I would have to go in the store and report to the service center area. They would then check my ID and confirm my order before sending me back out to move my van to the loading area.

Say what??

Maybe we should have looked at the store prior to placing our order.  But there was nothing said anywhere about us having to go inside the store before we could pick up the order.  That was not my idea of convenience.   The whole point of me placing a pickup order was so I would not have to take all the kids in the store by myself.  I looked back through my van at what was taking place and I knew we would not be picking up the order. I think the guy knew that too. I thanked him and drove off. I called my husband and told him what was going on and he agreed to pick it up after work. 

The ride home was not enjoyable. The boys were upset we did not get new Cars 3 toys, but did calm down when I handed them the toys the happy meals provided.  Diva was mad and did not drink her milkshake because, even though I asked them not to put whipped cream on her shake they did.  And baby girl, well she was fussy because she needed more sleep. 

That evening my husband went back over to pick up our order. He went inside and went to the service counter. He waited over an hour and a half to pick up our things.  He could have shopped faster than that.  We won’t be doing that again.

We love Sam’s and I know we will shop in the store again but I feel the pick up service just was not for us. Maybe I was expecting to much. I love the idea just wish there would have been a button to push or a window that I could have showed my membership ID too and pulled up to get our stuff. I’m all about making it easier. We have heard some of the local grocery stores are doing their own versions of this type of service so I will be checking into them and seeing how they actually work.  Walmart also has a two delivery so I’m hoping to put that service to good use.  We will see. For now we will just take turns going to the store.  

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful, West Virginia, Where I come from

Our Last Day as WV Foster Parents, Oh What a Day it Was

A year ago today our journey as West Virginia foster parents came to an end. A year ago today we stood in front of the judge one last time surrounded by family, friends, caseworkers both old and new, Birth to Three workers, and lawyers as we welcomed our youngest daughter into our forever family.  As we slowly crawled our way towards adoption day I started posting a countdown on my Facebook page. These posts would eventually lead me to start my blog.  This blog contains those posts. As they popped up in my news feed this past week I could not help but remember the excitement that filled the air the days leading up to her adoption day.  We were excited about her becoming forever ours and we were excited about our big move. Our car was packed and ready for the move as soon as the adoption was complete.  I hope you enjoy a look back to our Countdown to Sadie’s Adoption Day.
A mother carries a child for 9 months. In that time she discovers things about herself as she falls in love with this tiny blessing from God. 9 is now the number that makes up my beautiful chaos. We have 9 more days till baby peanut is officially forever ours. Yesterday she turned 9 months old and she has been with us the whole time. And while I did not carry her in my womb I have carried her in my heart always. She was our daughter even before we knew each other for she was part of Gods bigger plan. As we close our journey in foster care through WV with her adoption I find my heart sad in some ways. I have grown through this experience for the better and will miss all those who have been there cheering us on. I will miss all the friends we have made along this crazy and sometimes frustrating ride. Thanks for the laughs, the words of encouragement and shoulders to cry on. I can only hope and pray that we were able to make a positive difference in a few lives as we move on to our next chapter. I am grateful for all the kiddos that now call me mom, momma C, or aunt Crissy. And if its Gods will who knows maybe down the road we will foster in Tennessee but for now 9 is a beautiful number.
8 days to go

There are now 8 photos that line our staircase. One from our wedding day and one of each of our seven children. Before our foster care days were over in WV we worked with 8 different caseworkers, a few we have had the privilege to work with multiple times over our foster care journey. The turnover rate for a social worker is high so having only 8 over the years is a miracle, I know a few families who have had three or four different workers on just one placement so we are thankful. Some of the workers have moved on to different jobs, some have since retired but I am grateful for the work they did at those moments in our children’s lives. Without them we would not be the family we are today. I heard horror stories about caseworkers not caring about the kids on their caseloads and while I am sure that happens, I am thankful we got to work with some of the best and I am honored to now call a few of these ladies my friend. I will never to able to thank them for everything they have done for our family.


7 days to go

We have 7 days until this beautiful blessing from God is forever ours. The number that in the Bible is identified with completion. Next Monday we will forever be the parents of 7 beautiful children. The number 7 has very biblical means. There were 7 pairs of clean animals on the Ark, 7 churches represent completeness of the body of Christ, Jesus told Peter (us) to forgive a wrongdoer 70 times 7. I could go on and on. 7 is a powerful number. The number that will complete our family and complete our journey in foster care. God has blessed us more than we deserve and more than we ever imagined. Our lives changed forever when we stepped out in faith and decided to follow Gods plan for us. We have lost friends and gained new ones. We get strange looks and hear nasty comments when we are out with our crew but none of that matters. We are blessed. God placed these precious children in our hands to raise as our own and there are not enough words to ever tell Him how thankful we are. To God be the glory.


6 days to go

After my divorce I went back to college and took courses in human services/social work. I dreamed of changing the world saving young lives daily as a social worker. I finished my associates shortly after marrying my now husband Todd. I started looking at going farther on with my dream when something hit me. One night as clear as day God spoke to me and said “My child I have shown you what my children go through so you now know, but you are to be on the other side of this. Protect those that come to you. Love them as I love you.” I got up and told Todd what had happened. We talked about it and without hesitation we decided to look into becoming foster parents. In August 2010 we started are PRIDE TRAINING CLASS. In November we were an approved foster home. We had our first placement before we received our certificates in the mail. 6 years ago my life was on a different path to help area kids. So thankful for a husband and older children who knew we had to step out in faith and follow Gods plan for our family.
5 days to go

5 the number of children we will have adopted through foster care come Monday. And while we have been blessed to add these precious little loves to our family many overlook the heartache and loss we have also experienced. We have fostered close to 20 long term placements in our 6 yrs. That means we have said goodbye to 15 children that at some point in time called us mom and dad. That means our kids have said goodbye to brothers and sisters. My heart still hurts for the ones that did not end up part of our forever family. But thanks to social media I can still see most of them through photos or read stories about them that their forever families share. We will all forever be connected because of the children that have past through our home. I am thankful for that. The downside (if there is such a thing) with being blessed with our adoption of 5 is the judgmental looks and negative reaction we get. Instead of people being happy for us and the kids we hear things such as “Must be nice you get to adopt as many as you want”, “They must pay you a lot of money for you to take in THAT many”, “If you can pick which ones you want why get one with special needs” Some of my personal favorites “It must be nice being the DHHR favorite” and “Surly they could find other homes for those kids your house is already full” , or “You don’t have to hog all the kids share some with the rest of us” and of course the “I could never foster I would love them to much and not want to give them back” yes these are all things we have heard on more than one occasion. Seriously!?!? Do we look like a cold hearted, baby hogging, money hungry people who have no feeling for the kids after they are removed? If you think so then you don’t know us at all. The fact of the matter is there are thousands and thousands of kids in foster care right now and not enough homes to place them. My heart breaks every time a child is removed and placed back with their family or placed with their forever home. They all hold a piece of my heart. Yes the system is awful at best sometimes and the kids are the ones that get jerked around and overlooked but don’t think for a minute that they are just a pay check or pawn to those who open their hearts and homes to give them, even if for a moment, the feeling of what it’s like to be part of a family. If God has placed it on your heart to become a foster family do not give up. Your forever child(ren) are out there. They may not be your 1st placement, 2 placement or even your 10th placement but if He called you to do it He has a plan for you. Don’t get discouraged by what is happening in other families, like I’ve said the system is not always far, but what you are doing for these kids is life changing. If your not a foster parent don’t judge those that are, you have know idea how hard it is to bring in a scared child in the middle of the night, deal with the court system, the visits, the birth parents, and the looks. Instead be supportive, pray for them, love them, and love the kids. Don’t judge them.


4 days to go

4 the number of my babies that were born with drugs in their systems. You watch as they go through withdrawals just as an adult would. The shaking, the screaming, the sleepless nights, and the delays in development.Then there are the unknown side effects that can happen down the road. How will the drugs affect them later in life? Countless drugs in their tiny systems that they did not ask for but must face the challenges handed to them anyway. Day by day we take them head on our kids are amazing.

4 is also the number of siblings that will get to grow up together. 4 of our children come from the same birth mom. She also has an older daughter that was adopted out before we came into the picture. Out of the 4 there are multiple birth father’s who all have additional children with other women. If you add up all the half siblings from all the different dad’s and add in the 4 we have the total number of siblings/half siblings is 18, or so we have been told. Let that sink in. My children have 14 half siblings they will never know, never get to love, never talk to, never see. So of course when the caseworker on call called us out of nowhere nine months ago to take baby peanut in we said yes. It was not about needing another baby fix it was about keeping a sibling group together. We feel siblings belong together if it is possible. Is it hard having five kids under the age of six, yes, yes it is sometimes. There are days all I want to do is find a quite spot in my room drink a cold Dr Pepper and eat a snickers bar that I’ve hid so no one would find. (Hey moms need snacks too lol) But I would not change a thing. We would did it all over again. Our Family is everything to us.

3 day to go

When I was in my early 30’s I found myself divorced and a single mom of two. After years of being told I was not good enough, pretty enough or smart enough to do anything with my life I found myself believing these things to be true. How was I suppose to take care of my kids when I was nothing? I prayed and looked for answers. That’s when my momma senses kicked in to overdrive. It was the 3 of us. I had to be good enough I had no choice. Sie, Dev and I survived the darkest time in my life. I was perfectly fine with just the 3 of us I didn’t want a man/husband, my focus was my children. But you see God has a way of giving us just what we need when we don’t realize we need it. That’s when God (with Sierras help) reintroduced me to Todd. Our happy little family of 3 became our happy 3 plus 1. Looking back I never pictured my life would turn out so full of love and laughter, and never dreamed I would be the mom of seven precious kids. After living in darkness and a loveless place for so long, I never thought I would be so loved or wanted but God knew. I am thankful for that. Come Monday I will officially be momma to my 3rd beautiful daughter and that is a wonderful feeling. We all go through storms in life. We have the choice to let the storm take over and make us feel worthless or miserable or we can ride out the storm and chase the rainbow on the other side. Life is to beautiful not to enjoy it.
2 days to go

2 the number of adoptions we have went through up till this point. Our first adoption was Sept 21, 2013. Todd and I were on our way to Walmart in early July 2013 when our lawyer called to give us the news about our adoption date. We were so excited. From the time JR was placed with us (5 yrs ago yesterday)( Elissa came 4 months later) the whole process took over 2 and a half years. There were many ups and downs. JR was extremely sick, the visits with the birth parents, Dr appts, court hearings, improvement periods, trips to Pittsburgh for JR’s surgeries, the list goes on and on. So when we heard we finally had a date we were thrilled. We talked and decided not to foster anymore. 2 kids plus our 2 older kids gave us 4 and four was a nice round number. Then God steps in, got to love how He works. Todd was at Wednesday night church and we got a call for a baby boy. My heart wanted to say yes but I told the worker no because Todd and i had just had the “no more kids” talk less than a week before. When I got off the phone I had an overwhelmingly sad feeling come over me. I prayed for the baby to be placed in a safe home and tried to go on with my evening. By the time Todd made it home I was a mess. He asked me what was wrong am I told him. Then he does the unthinkable he told me to call the worker back and tell her we would take the baby in. It was 1030 at night so I said I would call in the morning, after all it was a baby I was sure someone was loving him by then. I made it till 8 the next morning before calling. I had never called back, in fact this was the one and only time I did. I left a message on the workers phone saying something like ” Hey if by some small chance you didn’t find baby boy a home bring him to us we will take him”. That was Thursday. My phone rang Friday afternoon it was the worker she asked if we were serious about taking him and I said yes. I was expecting a 6 to 9 month old baby what we got was a 2 day old newborn straight from the hospital. We start getting use to having a baby in the house and three weeks later my phone rings again. This time they ask if I have JR but use is birth giving name. When I said yes they said great we have his little brother with us now. We will see you around 430. When the workers showed up they handed me a 3 week old little guy. Giving us what many people nicknamed “the twins” because they are only 8 days apart. The new additions joined us in the courtroom for the adoption of Elissa and JR . And then last year we adopted the boys together on June 21st. Making their adoption process 2 years long. At their adoption we knew we were done 6 kids is a great round number. But by now you all know that when they called us in September with yet another sibling to our crew we opened our hearts one more time and said yes. God’s plans for us are so much greater and better than what we could ever imagine. If we would have stuck to what we planned we would not have our 2 youngest boys and baby girl would not be here. Life is full of surprises and beautiful blessings. Many have judged us and flat out told us not to take in only more kids. The truth be told Todd and I are the ones who make that decision and when God says we are done we will be. For now we will love our beautiful 7. We all know 7 is a nice round number

1 more day.

Todd came up with a saying early on in our foster care journey. “What’s one more” We have run into several people that have asked us, why did you take in so many kids why not stop at one or two. Our answer, what’s one more. Our hearts have plenty of love to go around. When we started we had a three bedroom home that had an office over the master bedroom. After a few years we realized we needed not only a bigger house but also a bigger yard. God blessed us and we bought a bigger house that had a huge yard. We were there less than 1 month before it was full with little ones. That year we had calls for over 152 placements (children) but simply did not have room. How sad is that? So many kids in need but all we could do is pray for them and hope they were placed in a good foster home or group home. At some point you realize that it is possible to love more that just 1 or 2 kids at the same time. Our kids are our everything. Todd’s job has now landed him in Tennessee which is were we will be moving after baby girls adoption is complete tomorrow. This will bring our journey in foster care in WV to a close. We are not sure what Tennessee holds for us, but we are looking forward to the new adventure. And who knows maybe just maybe somewhere down the road God will look at us and say, “Whats one more” one more time. Guess we will have to wait and see.

It’s still hard to believe its been a year already.  We spent over six years as foster parents in WV.  We had 20 children in and out of our home, five of those little loves now forever call me mom.  There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care today, with more coming in daily. Many are waiting to be adopted by a loving family.  Our little loves spent a total of 104 months or 462 weeks or 3,237 days in the foster care system.  We were blessed to be their only homes.  We have had children come in our homes and we were their sixth or seventh home that year.  How sad is that?   If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent now is the time. Pray about it and if God still places the desire on your heart call you local DHHR or DCS or a local foster care agency or simply ask a foster parent how they got started.  Become someone’s chance at a brighter tomorrow.

From our beautiful chaos to yours allow God to open the doors He wants you to walk through and when He wants to close that door He will open another one for you to go through

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, college, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful

A Visit from Big Sis

I knew this summer would be hard on the kids. I have tried to make it as fun as possible but I am not the one they expect when it comes to summer time. See for the last four years every summer their big sissy loaded up her car and came home. (The importance in that being three of my kiddos aren’t even four yet so it’s been like this their whole life) For three full months they had her all to themselves and they loved it.  

I knew last summer would be her last full summer with us, but I didn’t tell the kids nor did I want to think about it much. So when she was here last summer worrying about not finding a summer job, her dad and I told her not to worry just relax and enjoy her summer.  Truth be told I didn’t want to share her with a summer job anyway, I knew our carefree summer days were limited.  She would graduate this past May. 


After her graduation she and her boyfriend took a vacation and then headed towards D.C., the area she will now call home.  I was excited when she called last week and asked if she could make a quick trip down to see us before getting completely settled into her new life up there. 

She takes her “job” as Big Sis very serious. She calls, FaceTimes, and checks in on the kids several times each week.  Wild man will tell you “Sissy is my most favoritest thing ever” She spends one on one time with them when she’s here and try’s her best to make sure to do something with them as a group. This visit was no exception. A few months ago when the Cars 3 trailer started playing she was talking to the boys and they asked if she would go with them to see it. She said she would love to go.  She was no more in our front door when the boys asked if she was ready to go see the movie.  They never forget a sissy promise.  After quickly freshening up from the seven hour car ride she help me load the excited little ones into the van and off we went. It was wonderful. It was the first movie experience with all five little loves so I was thankful to have the theater to ourselves, but to my surprise the kids did great. There were laughs, giggles, some tears (Sis and I cry at all movies) and of course popcorn. The kids had a ball. 

Next up we headed to the zoo.  It was drizzling the rain so the zoo was pretty empty.   I don’t mind going out with the kids in the rain. The rain normally keeps people in so we have don’t have to deal with the judgements stares that come from others when you have a child with autism or when they are judging you for having some many little ones. They can just be kids. Besides a little rain never hurt anyone anyways. I think the animals like that we ventured out as well. Many came up and playfully interacted with the kids. 

What could be better than the zoo with sissy?  How about seeing dinosaurs with sissy.   

On Friday we loaded up the van and headed out in search of dinosaurs. We were in luck when we stumbled across a dinosaur park not to far from us.  The boys loved seeing the big T-Rex and the longnecks. Elmo made sure we knew all the names of the dinosaurs as we followed the trails.  The kids dug for fossils and we took pictures of every dinosaur I knew and then some.  Another fun filled day had by all.


On Saturday morning Sis and I took Wild man to pick up McDonald’s. He always has to take a ride in her jeep. She said her goodbyes to the boys, dad, and baby girl before we headed out to watch diva at her dance recital. The recital date and time had changed from its original schedule making it possible for Sis to keep her promise to diva to see her preform.  Diva wanted Big Sis to do her hair so she did. We were both excited to see her perform.  She was able to dance in two numbers for her very first recital and she did a fabulous job .


After the recital it was time to say our goodbyes. She did not come back in the house for fear of upsetting the boys.  They realized what was going on as soon as I closed the door behind me. 

This summer will be different for all of us, but I am so thankful that I have a daughter to loves being a big sissy to all the little ones. I know things will be different, there suppose to be different. But I know in my heart she will always be their big sissy. No amount of miles will change that.  She may be all grown up and on her own now but she will always be my girl. So thankful she took a few days to come down and spend with them.  They loved having her here. The time may have been short but oh the wonderful memories that were made.  Thank you Sie, thanks for everything 

Posted in blessed, family, Home, Home state, life, love, Mom life, thankful, West Virginia, Where I come from

Happy Birthday West Virginia 


           Today my home state turns 154. 

Oh how I miss you, let me count the ways. 

I miss my parents 

I miss my brother, my niece, & nephew 

I miss my grandma 

I miss my aunts, uncles & all (yes all) my crazy cousins 

I miss my best friend her family 

I miss my foster care support group family

I miss my taekwondo family

I miss my friends and their families 

I miss Tudors

I miss good homemade pepperoni rolls

I miss the cool summer night breeze

I miss the two foot of snow on snow days

I miss actually having four full seasons

I miss the Friday night bonfire 

I miss the excitement of Mountaineer football on game day

I miss neighbors being neighborly

But most of all I miss home. 


I may live in Tennessee but you will always be my home. 

So here’s to you WV, my gold and blue. Happy 154th Birthday. Happy Birthday to you!!! 

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Celebrating Our Second Forever Family Day

Two years ago today my husband and I sat in a courtroom filled with family and friends as we prepared to welcome two little boys to our family. This is dedicated to them. 

Their story starts almost four years ago.  Like many children who find themselves in foster care, their stories start with a phone call.   My husband and I had just received word that we finally had an adoption date for our wild man and diva. From the time the caseworker placed wild man in my arms it would take two and a half years to get our happy ever after adoption day.   We received the news on a Friday and over the weekend we talked about all the ups and downs that we had experienced and made the decision to stop being foster parents after their adoption was complete.  The system was broken at best and we didn’t feel we could go through the pain of it all again. Seeing kids come in and out of our home was hard, every time a child left part of our heart went with them.  If you don’t fall in love with the kids that come in your home you’re not doing it for the right reasons.  The pain is real, the loss is real, the love is real.  It was a different decision but we had our minds made up.

Wild man and Diva’s adoption day. The boys were only two months old

So when our phone rang the following Wednesday evening I was at a loss for words.  My husband was at church and I had stayed home to visit with our oldest daughter who was in from college. I did not recognize the number but answered anyway.  The lady on the other end spoke quickly and I caught the words ” baby, boy, temporarily, can you take him?”  I asked her to repeat herself and she apologized and said she had a baby boy that needed a home for a few days and she knew we had a free bed.  As bad as I hated to I told her no. We had just discussed us not being fosters anymore over the weekend. There was no way my husband would agree no matter how temporary. She thanked me and hung up. Moving on to the next possible home for him I was sure.  I started crying immediately after the call, my daughter ran in to see what was going on. I told her what had happened and she told me she was sure they would find a place for him, after all he was a baby and babies are not hard to place. I knew she was right but my heart still ached.  After my husband came home I told him what had happened. He could tell I had been crying. He let me explain all that I knew and then in his soothing voice he said ” Call her back we will take him”. By this time it was 1030 so I knew it was to late to call.   The next morning I called the number back and had to leave a message. I figured she had already found him a place to stay but I had to check.  Thursday came and went with no call back.  Friday morning however the phone rang and it was the caseworker. She asked if we were still interested in taking him in and if so she would explain everything after she brought him to us.  By Friday afternoon he was in my arms. Not the six or eight month old I expected when she had said baby boy, but a sweet two day old baby boy.  He was beautiful with dark eye and dark eyes.  

One of Big Al’s first photos

Three weeks later we were getting ready for our family reunion when the phone rang. Again a number I did not recognize but I answered. It was another caseworker. She asked if I was the foster mom to wild man and diva. I told her yes and asked what was going on. My heart was beating fast, I just knew it was something about their upcoming adoption. She must of heard the panic in my voice and told me that nothing was wrong.  In fact, she said, we have a surprise for you. Their birth mom had recently had another baby. A boy this time. He had went home with his father but things were not going well and he had to be taken into state custody.  The dad was told, among other things, to stay away from the mom but he could not or would not. When it came time to choose between the baby and the mom the dad picked the mom. She was letting me know they would be at our house before 5 that afternoon.  I was in shock. All I could get out was that we already had a new placement, a baby, and we could not take another without a waiver.  She told me that our waiver had already been approved and we would see them shortly.  I called my husband and told him what was going on to which he replied “What’s one more”. When the worker showed up she handed me a small little fellow with big blue eyes.  Within three weeks we had went from a family of six to a family of eight.  

One of Elmo’s first photos

For the next two years we would go through the countless court hearings, visitations with the birth parents, MDT meetings, doctors appointments, therapy appointments, and Birth to Three visits. We had some type of specialist in our home three to four days a week between the two of them.  But after 698 days in foster care for Big Al and 669 days in foster care for Elmo we arrived at our second forever family (adoption) day.   

We thought we were finished with foster care but God looked down and said I am not finished with you yet. I look back and think about how different our lives would be if we had decided not to call that worker back.  Where would our Big Al be? Would we even have our Elmo?  Our lives are pure chaos most days but I would not trade it for the world.  These two precious little guys bring us so much joy and laughter it far outweighs the not so great moments.  I know foster care is not about adoption. I know that the main goal is reunification. But sometimes, sometimes no matter how many chances are given or how many improvement periods are awarded the parents just can’t seem to get their priorities in order. The judge and lawyers then have to make the call for what’s best for the child. And if your lucky…..not lucky if your blessed to be that foster parent for that child you get the opportunity to adopt the child(ren) that you have protected , nurtured, smiled with, cried with, laughed with and fell in love with. God blesses you for being His hands and feet. He blesses you for doing His work here on earth.  Foster care is not for everyone. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s sacrifice. It’s dealing with lawyers and courts. It’s being the one person who cares for the child daily but has little say in what happens to the child. It makes no sense to many.  You will lose friends and family members that just don’t understand why you do what you do. You will be criticized and accused of things you never that possible. Your priorities will change and your carefree life as you knew it will be but a blur. But it’s so worth it all.  It’s one of the greatest joys one can do. Giving everything to a child that feels as if they have nothing is worth every tear and every heartache. Without foster care we would not be the family we are today.
Happy second Forever Family Day Anniversary to my boys.  Momma loves you more than you will ever know. 
There is a major need for good foster homes nationwide. If you have ever thought about it I encourage you to pray about it and look into it. Call your local agencies or your local DHHR or DCS office see what classes need to be taken.  Don’t let the “I could never do that I would get to attached” or the “I just don’t think I could love a child and then have to give him or her back” statements fill your head. These children need someone that will fall in love with them and that will become attached to them.  They need to know they are worth loving.  I promise you it will not only make a positive change in their lives but it will also change yours.  Have faith take that leap.