slide show

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Winner winner... Your Muse!

Picture {Perfect}

Ok, I won't kid you.  Picking a winner was WAY harder then I thought it was going to be!  I went back and forth between several favorites!  A few of them were so technically gorgeous!  And others had an image that just took my breath away!  And I started asking other folks which ones they liked... and somewhere around then I realized that I was really hoping the folks I consulted with would pick one particular image!  I really wanted this one image to win!  And somewhere about that time, it dawned on me that in the end, I'm the one who picks the winner! 


First off, thank you so very much for participating!  I was inspired to try some new things by several images!  Like the one with the colored ice cream cone!  Gotta try that!  And upside down kiddos should be fun too!  And Sharon's black & whites always leave me dreamy!


The First the Runner Up-
I kept going back to look at it, and a lot of you liked it too!
This image is from Amy of Whachootalkin'bout.  There's just something so simple about this image and that makes me like it all the more!  And truth be told, I am a SUCKER for gorgeous lighting, and this image is beautifully lit!  SO yummy!  And those eyelashes!  I love the way the depth of field is short and the hand holding the pencil is just in crystal clear focus!  So simple and straight forward.  It's the kind of photo we all hope to capture of our muse.  It's just beautiful Amy!

And drum-roll please... The winner of Picture Perfect April 2011 is...
...this is the little gem that I found myself unknowingly drawn too!
Is it the way the new daddy is leaning in and brushing his nose against her face?  Or is it her one eye that seems to make such eye contact that it seems to touch my soul?  Is it that fuzzy pink jacket?  Maybe it's her peaches and cream complexion?  Or the way his eyes are closed, and he's just trying to take in every scent and touch of her?  It just makes me swoon.  This angel is Hannah from Welcome to the Story of Us.  She's now at least a couple years older and still so adorable!  Oh Nicole, thank you so much for participating and showing me that not having the subject's whole face in the photo can sometimes convey the feelings and emotions even better!  I just adore this shot!  What a gift!  (I'm going to email you your Picture Perfect winner's badge for your blog-- as soon as I figure out how to do that!)

I'm planning on announcing the theme and starting May's Picture Perfect contest on the first Monday of the month, May 2nd!  Feel free to contribute suggestions!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And while we're on the subject of Jude...

There's a reason I take photographs.
1--I'm incredibly cheap.
2--It provides so much ammunition for future blackmail.
3--And this.
Amidst the hustle and bustle, I can't allow myself to {ever} forget this.
6:20am
in his PJs
3 1/2 years old

Captured in print; another ordinary miracle.
the long road

His journey to self

So my sweet boy and I were looking through books this morning.  We started with The Very Hungry Caterpillarmade it through Good Night Moon, and then we landed on another favorite, When You Were Born in VietNam.  As he always does, he starts with the picture on the cover of the book of an adorably cute Vietnamese toddler.

That's me when I was a baby!  
He identifies most all Asian children in photographs as either himself or Tess.
No, Jude.  That's not you. 
That's Tess?
No.  It's a little baby born in VietNam.  He looks a lot like you because he is from VietNam just like you and Tess.  
We flip the page.
There I am sleeping!
No, that's not you either.  That's a little baby who lives in an orphanage.  He's waiting for his mama and papa to come get him.
Who's that?  (pointing to a image of a nanny in the orphanage feeding a baby)
That's a nanny that takes care of the babies at the orphanage.  She loves the babies there very much.  She feeds them, and kisses them, and holds them, and makes sure they are healthy.


We have a brief conversation about how beautiful the people of VietNam are with their gorgeous dark hair and almond eyes.
He moves on to the next book.  His lifebook.  He opens it in the middle to a picture of a nanny holding him as a small baby, amidst a sterile room of metal cribs all full with babies.  The baby room.  He recognizes himself.  That's me!
Yes, it is Jude!  You were such a cute baby!
He points to the woman holding him.  There's my mommy!

He said it just like that.  He pointed to a Vietnamese woman holding him in an orphanage and identified her as his mama.  No questions.  To Jude is just was his mama at the moment.
Thoughts flew through my head.  He couldn't have confused her with me as we look nothing alike.  There was so much in those brief 3 words.  Did he really comprehend that he has 2 mamas that love him dearly?  Did he mean his "first mommy?"  His "birth mommy?"  His "real mommy?"  Where did that leave me?


No sweetie.  That's a nanny at the orphanage.  She loved you so much.  She was sad when you left the orphanage, but she was happy at the same time that you had your family.  
Oh.  
He flipped through a few more pages, closed the book, and moved on to Ira Sleeps Over.

Didn't we just talk about nannies?  Should I have pointed out that I was his mama forever and ever?  I didn't want to be confrontational in what was just a normal learning experience.  Should I have talked more about his "first mama?"  I don't know.  And although I've been literally preparing for years for these discussions, there was this sudden realization of how little I know about the actual words I'm suppose to have.  A fear that I'm going to say the wrong thing and risk this sweet boy's sense of self.

I guess this is just one of the first small steps in his journey.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Obligatory egg post

What's a holiday without a little stress thrown in?
The photos are here just to throw you off.  
Our home and our family has been ROCKIN'!  I mean we are busy and bending and stretching beyond normal, and all of us seem to just be hangin' on for dear life.  
Much of the busyness has been the result of big changes that are happening in our family.  On several fronts.  And change can be hard and stressful for little ones and big ones and saggy 40-year-old ones.  
Papa and I had a very quick moment together, (read-we locked the door to our bedroom door and stole 5 min to talk while the little ones tried to pick the lock with a skewer.) and talked about all the commotion in our home.  And by commotion I mean arguments, tears, fighting, and messy dirty sin ridden behavior... by us all.  
  
Throw in a holiday, lots of company, and a good bit of spring fever, and we've all been on a short fuse.  
Papa and I reminded each other that will all the things going on lately, baseball in full swing, Papa traveling out-of-town a lot, some new parenting strategies for Tess, and a couple other big things changing 'round here, that a lot of this is is probably normal.  Likely God providing us with some blessed opportunities to practice patience and grace when it's tough.  For these divine opportunities, we are truly blessed.  
I know these egg pics really don't look all that frazzled, but I promise there were some serious "eruptions" and tears just prior and just after this.   The eggs were an attempt to diffuse the situation and come together for some family fun.
And it worked!  Happy family... for about 30 minutes.  
Then it was back to scratching each other's eyeballs out.  
More Easter to come.  This was just the prep work.
Happy Easter, All!  The most glorious and sacred of all holy-days.  


Sunday Snapshot

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Just keepin' it real...

Found deep within my couch cushions...
2 hair bows/flowers
1 cotton ball (dirty)
1 drill bit
1 ice skating pass used in 2007
1 flosser-used
1 happy birthday cupcake topper
4 used Kleenix (Yes, used... I'm mortified now.)
1 whole yellow crayon
3 pencils-1 mechanical  (I swear I clean in our couch regularly.)
1 hacky sack (circa 1986?)
1 hot pink plastic knife
1 broken white crayon that has been carved
1 plastic golf tee
1 magnetic Tekh Deck
1 pink crayon-also carved (It's just that there we're depths of my couch I wasn't aware of till now!)
1 plastic spoon
1 phone-dead (Jackpot!)
1 Chapstick-plain
2 hair rubber bands
1 straw
2 clothing tags
1/2 wine cork--Cabernet
2 sucker sticks--chewed on
2 baby links
1 push pin  (I mean it's a very deep couch!)
2 otter pop wrappers
8 candy wrappers
1/2 of a school assignment-(graded)
1 spelling test-(graded-50%-from 2009)
1 shredded envelope
2 pachinko balls (There's a whole post to come on this nightmare!)
1 church attendance tag
2 bra straps (Really!  I couldn't make this stuff up!)
2 Gerber baby food lids (T&J haven't had baby food in a LONG time!)
4 Legos  (no surprise there.  Those things breed!)
2 markers (Thank you dear God for letting the lids still be on!)
2 batteries
1 knitting needle (Nobody in our home knits.)
1 plastic wrapper of unknown origin
1 brochure to a chocolate factory in NY  (not a clue)
1 comb
1 seating chart for table #21 (still not a clue!)
1 coupon for crystal light (expired 1 month ago)
3 pieces of tape
1 red golf tee
$2.04 in assorted change
And the coup de grĂ¢ce...


wait for it...


wait...


misc peanut shells, Cheerios, Mini Wheats, Chex cereal, Wheat Thins, french fries,
sunflowers seeds, popcorn, Oreo pieces, and orange peels
('cause nothing says Hoarders like lots of food left laying around for years on end)

Debating weather or not to move onto the love seat.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Super chalk & nothing special

Friday, will be the last day to participate it Picture Perfect!  Then I'll have to buckle down and choose a winner.  Head on over to submit a photo (by clicking the blue flower button over there on the right) and to see some wonderful photos that hopefully inspire us all to get out there and take more photographs.  There are already a few that I want to copy with my own kiddos!  
Photographers of all levels are encouraged to participate... really!

On to plain ol' life...
You know, it wasn't an earth-shattering event.  To be honest, it wasn't significant or even a memorable event!  No fancy or cute outfits or even even combed hair.  
But the older I get, the faster time passes, and I realize that these are the moments I want to remember the most.  Just the silly little nothing events that shape our days... months... years... lives.
Like sidewalk chalk.  
And tracing around one another's feet.  So simple.
e
Livy seems to be in this position at every turn.  Seems like she's the one always helping out.  
Her arms circling around a little one.  Teaching.  Guiding.  I want to make sure I always remember this.  
I love the way Tess has that hair hanging in her face.  And the way her shorts are on backwards.  
She put them on all by herself you know!  
And how she insists on wearing a jacket or a sweater almost all the time, regardless or the temperature.  
I wanna remember that too.  
I want to remember that there was a season when these boys started to really play together and enjoy each other's company.    Not a big brother and a little brother, just brothers.  
When Jude stopped being a baby, and started to become a little boy.  When did that happen?  
  
Nothing special.  Just the best stuff ever.
{sniff sniff}

the long road

Monday, April 18, 2011

Foster care training 101-thoughts of the week

  • Unlike the model of foster care and foster parenting in the past, today fostering is really a team project.  Foster parents are expected, and indeed it is their responsibility, to work as part of a large team to best help the child.  Other members of the team could include the child's social worker, lawyers and/or attorneys, CPS, CASA volunteers, and the child's biological parent(s).  Bio parents are not the adversary.  Bio parents are inherently part of the child is.  It is in the best interest of the child to not only maintain but develop good relationships with bio parents if possible.  If at all possible, foster parents should also develop a relationship with bio parents.  These relationships help the child.  This could include joint trips to the pediatrician, visits to your home for family dinner, and enabling and assisting your foster child in maintaining and growing a relationship with her birth mother and/or bio family.  Although these relationships aren't always possible, if possible they should be encouraged and developed even after the foster family adopts the child.  
  • Children from hard places often need parenting that looks different.  It can look so different, that it often looks "wrong" to folks who do not know the circumstances.  This resembles adoptive parenting in many ways.  
  • 1:2 foster families will eventually be reported (and thus investigated) for child abuse and/or neglect.  These allegations can come from birth families and foster children among other places.  We have been taught to expect to be reported as a part of fostering.  As a part of being investigated, our bio children will likely be taken out of class and questioned... without our knowledge.  {Now that's the kind of stuff they don't tell you on day 1 of foster-parent training!} 
  • Most children placed in foster care believe that healthy families never fight, argue, or have conflict.  They will likely have no healthy skills to resolve disputes.  Then these children can be surprised, angered, overwhelmed, shocked, disappointed, and/or scared when they with a foster family that does have normal disagreements.  
  • Our foster classes culminate in a huge homework assignment that lasts approximately 5 hours.  There have been smaller homework assignments throughout the classes, maybe an hour a week, but I am dreading this last one.  Papa and I have completed about the first 5 minutes worth.  Although this assignment won't be "graded," it will be reviewed for accuracy and content.  I hate homework.
  • There will be an "in depth" house inspection prior to licensing.  This is the home inspection that I was waiting for when we previously adopted that never came.  Previously, our prior case worker looked around our home a bit, at the pool fence, and introduced herself to our dogs.  But this new inspections will, among other things, include measuring the temperature of our hot water, examining extension cords, checking to make sure all medications (including all vitamins, OTC meds, and refrigerated meds) are behind a lock, ensuring that there is a working smoke detector in every bedroom, kitchen and living area, and practicing and documenting a home evacuation drill.
  • 9 out of 10 of our classes are complete.  3 of our 5 interviews are complete.  We are still aiming to be licensed and become active foster parents at the end of our summer break, most likely August or September.  Like the process of adoption, this process seems to be a lot of busy work in a system that moves as slow as molasses.  I'm feeling a bit useless these days.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

One vs The Other

Livy (14) & Sunny (17)
One wants to have a LOT of kiddos.
The other wants to have only 1... or not.

One was blessed with gorgeous teeth.  
The other is gonna cost so much money in orthodontics that I'm gonna have to sell one of the younger children to pay for it. 

One is fun-loving.
The other is sincere.

One wants to leave home yesterday.
The other says she'll never leave.
One is messy out in the open.
The other hides her messes in cupboards and closets.

One is a people pleaser.
The other calls it likes she sees it.

One craves the spotlight.
The other is most happy helping out behind the scenes.

One has tons of friends at every turn.
The other has a few really close best friends.
One says the hardest part of school is biology.
The other says the hardest part of school is stairs. 

One likes to cook spicy foods.
The other like to eat spicy foods.

One wants to live in the city.
The other wants to live in the country.
One wants to live in a penthouse.
One wants to live in a farm house. 

One has brown eyes.
The other has hazel.

Both want to be nurses.

Both want to adopt a dark chocolate brown baby that has a French accent.  {Don't ask}


















Both are dirty blonds.

Both have double pierced ears.

Both say the other is their best friend.

Both have shared a room for over 12 years and even a bed for the last 5 years.
Both are my beloved daughters.

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