Thursday, May 29, 2014

Last Day of Preschool 2014

on the left is the first day of preschool and the right is the last day! what a difference 9 months makes!

The Middle School Looms

2 weeks from today I will leave work early and go stand in the hallways of the elementery school and watch as my boys walk those halls for the last time. Next year they'll be going to the Middle School (how is that even possible). I won't have anyone in the elementery until Ryan goes in the fall of 2015.

Not that anyone has asked for my thoughts on elementery school but I'm going to offer them up anyway.

1. parents are being held responsible in the 4th grade (still) for their childrens homework. wrong answer. my 4th grader is responsible for his OWN homework. It is not my job to make sure it gets done, I will give them time to do it, and ask them if it's done. I should not supervise them getting it done, and should be able to ask them if it's done and if they need help. Make the child answer for his or her actions.

2. It is not the teachers responsibility to make sure the child does his or her schoolwork. The teacher should be able to give them time to do it (ample time), the tools needed to succeed and then assist if necessary. The child should be responsible for his or her OWN schoolwork. Supervision should be provided due to the distraction of other students. The child should be able to request assistance with the project. Make the child answer for his or her own actions.

3. Science fair is a lot of fun, the kids take a lot of time to study their subject, write their report, and learn about their chosen project. I would appreciate it if the school would allow other students to walk through the science fair and see what everyone has worked so hard on. Also require the 4th graders to stand with their project and explain it as the kids come through. We all know that if they can explain it, then they truly understand it.

4. Bullying is a real problem that does exist, however being called a name is NOT being bullied. The definition of bully is:
: a blustering browbeating person; especially :  one habitually cruel to others who are weaker
: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person) : to act like a bully toward (someone)
: to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force
I think it's time for not only kids to stop bullying but also for our kids to stand up to bullies and let them work it out among themselves!

I see a lack of independence in our kids in all the wrong areas! Kids have free range of the internet at all hours (!!!) but can't be trusted to do chores and homework independently. What? I think we have it backwards! I think chores and homework (etc) should be independent work and the internet should be a supervised activity.

Continuing Contact

Little Miss and Girlfriend have been gone for about 5 months. Ryan still asks for them. Sending them home is hard and Girlfriend takes it the hardest. Their dad is still offering visits occasionally. I don't know if I can continue to put Ryan through losing them. At some point he has to be able to heal. Todd has to be able to heal....we all do. And I am afraid if we continue visits, no one will truly heal. I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

4th Grade Science Fair Projects

Lane Michael decided he'd like to study magnetic north, the most acurate way to find magnetic north and how a compass works. He showed a free moving magnet on a wooden frame moving to the north, showed a magnetized needle on a leaf in a bowl of water moving to the north and a compass. Obviously the compass was most reliable as it's designed to be. He learned so much and had a great time with it. A friend commented that his was so scientific and very mature and well thought out....very book smart.

Ethan wanted to build mouse trap cars and study if the terrain would affect the distance the car would go, however after 2 days of working on the car it simply wouldn't run. So Sunday night we gave up and changed horses mid stream and I'm SO glad we did! Ethan instead studied the pigs, took the 2 fair Hampshires and the 2 fair Durocs and studied their rate of growth, looking at if 1 breed would grow faster than the other. We thought the Hampshires had grown faster but actually the Durocs grow faster. After doing some more research it turns out that Durocs are known for growing faster, needing less feed and having a great carcass. He was able to explain that in 6 weeks we had seen an 89% increase from the Hampshires and a 93% increase from the Durocs. It was a fun project and something he could speak about knowledgably.

I was SO impressed with how these boys through themselves into their projects, did some real independent thinking and learned so much! They really enjoyed this project!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mothers Day 2014

I traveled last week so we didn't have much time to prepare for Mothers Day ahead of time. I had such a wonderful weekend though. Friday night we played cards, one of my favorite things in the world. The kids played outside all evening and then came in for showers, we made dinner and just hung out...the guys worked in the fields and we just hung around the house...a good spring evening in our area.

Saturday morning I got up and went to the Mothers Day event at the church and watched my aunt present her apron show. Learned a lot, giggled through much of it, ate a great lunch and was able to go shopping with my Mom hadn't been shopped for yet (oops). Saturday evening we went to dinner at my Mom's house while Todd took our God Daughter to her Father Daughter dance since her Dad was in Reno for a bowling event. He was honored to be asked and had a great time watching her and her friends. And the boys and I got to spend some time with my Mom, Grandma and Cousin...tons of fun!

Sunday was a little hap hazard....we woke up late...I woke up to a text from the girls said "Happy Mothers Day from your M____ and Y______ families" I appreciate that text more than he'll ever know! We got to church too late to sit in "our seats" so we sat in the balcony...awkward. grabbed a quick lunch and ran to Grandma's for a work day...worked all day in the yard, clearing leaved out of flower gardens, berry bushes, trees that were too close to the foundation and starting a small shed for storage. A good day overall followed by a whirlwind evening of scince fair  projects, research, changing projects and more research! It was good overall, and looking back, fun to see all my guys hunched over ipads, computers, notebooks, research guides and data reports. I see a lot of this in my future!

A good Mothers day to say the least!

Monday, May 5, 2014


Lane Michael was baptized on Sunday. We are so proud of him! So proud to watch him take this step, to choose Christ as his Lord and Savior, to choose love, to choose salvation and dedication. A servants heart and sweet, loving spirit. Wants nothing more than to spend time with the people he loves!

This is the pastor who baptised Lane Michael (Pastor Bragg). We couldnt' ask for a better pastoral staff. Lane Michael's girlfriends dad is the worship pastor and lead the music so Lane Michael thought that was pretty special! Saturday night as we were talking to Lane Michael about how it'll all go down, our good friend was giving him a hard time and Lane was jazzing him and called him old. So Sunday while in the tank, word must have gotten back to the pastor and he announced that our friend had requested he hold him down a few extra seconds. Lane Michael cracked up! thought he was big stuff teasing with the pastor! it was adorable! He felt so special having most of his favorite people there, my mom was able to make it, his girlfriend came up for it and of course our friends. It was a wonderful day, one we won't soon forget!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Deciding What's Best

Everyone knows we moved to the country....but we still have our town house. and I've been really down lately about that house. Today I'm feeling much better and thinking more clearly. And I've come to the conclusion (for now) that we made a decision a year ago to do what WE FELT was best for our family. We over extended ourselves in so many aspects of our lives. We now have a feed bill nearing $200 a month, we pay 2 house payments, 2 sets of utilities, gas, supplies to fix up the Wapak house....we are so short on time, we spend so much time working in the Wapak house, and working with our animals, it leaves little time for down time, for relaxation, for...anything really. But we made what we thought was the best decision for our family and it's paying off. We're happy. We're active. Our kids are becoming the people we want them to be. There is nothing wrong with living in town, nothing wrong with town's simply not what we wanted for ours. So while we are SO thinly stretched, we're ok with it. God provides for our needs and so far it's working. I didn't know (since our renter isn't paying anything from rent to electric) where the money would come from to finish the house (her rent was what we were using to buy supplies for the house), well this morning I was reminded of the bags of concrete we need to return to the hardware store (left over from finishing the basement), we have the paint to finish the basement, all we need now is primer, ceiling pain, hall paint and new carpet on the stairs and upstairs hallway....things are really coming along!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


PIGS: the piglets are no longer piglets! They're HUGE! We are loving them! They're like puppies! Look how cute! This is Ethan with Bacon and Lane Michael with Gerdy! Now the downside to huge pigs is a HUGE feed bill! They are eating us out of house and home! The unfortunate part of that is that we'll have to slow their growth by feeding the fair pig oats in their feed, but the nice part is that this batch (the other 5) will be seperated out from the fair 4 and will be ready for butcher in probably June or July which is much faster than we had anticipated! But we're having SUCH a good time with them!

GARDEN STARTS:  The garden starts were probably started way too early! They're too bit and we had to move them out of their little pots and put them in cut off gallon milk jugs. I hope it gets and stays warm soon because they're simply too big to keep this up!!

Debt Free Progress: Epic FAIL! This summer will be better once we aren't paying for preschool but that's only a couple months! I'm really hoping the Wapak house sells quickly because maintaining 2 houses is killing us! We're making NO progress on becoming debt free but we are maintaining our current status so that's good but still frustrating. I know that our needs are met and even most of our wants...I think it's simply a level of comfort that a little cushion would provide.

Ethan has been slowly needing less of his meds, he's able to concentrate a little better and for longer periods of time, we are thinking of seeing a homeopath over the summer to see if she can't work with him. She said she would provide coping mechanisms for him to use, also foot and hand massage/stimulation, and a few techniques for him to practice and use. I'm putting some serious thought into it. He's started baseball and is LOVING it....he's really grown in his skill set this year, his batting is great, and seems to really enjoy it.

Lane Michael has been amazing with Ryan here lately, I think appreciating him more and just being kind and forgiving. Yesterday Ryan got left in the car with Lane Michael and me while Todd and Ethan went in to get a drink, Ryan suddenly decided he HAD to go in too so Lane Michael volunteered to take him and that's just one example, I'm amazed by the brother he is! He's also started baseball and while his hitting hasn't improved as much, his fielding has! Last night we were outside playing and he was throwing himself on the ground to stop the ball....which is a new skill for him.

Ryan is....God bless Ryan. He is funny, witty, sarcastic....on Easter Sunday we were all eating breakfast, he leaned over to his cousin Jack and said "come closer", so Jack leaned in. Ryan whispered (just loud enough for Jack and his mom to hear) "I watch you while you sleep", leaned back, took a bite, cocked one eye brow and just grinned at him. creepy little dude. He also told the whole school that the Easter bunny was just some guy in a suit. I am raising "that kid". Good news. He has little desire to hang out with the pigs, doesn't want to play baseball and is disgruntled by the disturbance it causes to his schedule. It's a good thing he's cute!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moving On

This weekend we had the pleasure of having our girlies. Their Dad is moving to Indiana so it may have been our last visit. We had a great time. Got in lots of hugs, lots of kisses, lots of snuggles. They've changes, grown, matured...but they haven't changed really...they're personalities shine right through! Stubborn as the day is long! Beautiful inside and out! Saying good-bye was impossible. Girlfriend was...sad. Genuinely sad. Cried, clung to us, screamed for Daddy Todd, wept, clawed at the door. Agonizing. I don't know, going forward if a visit is a good idea for her...maybe out of sight out of mind? I don't know. I worry about them so much. I never want them to think we've "moved on" from them, but we are moving on from fostering. We're closing our home, I'm ready to get rid of baby gear....sell the crib, high chair, car seat, stroller, dresser and toddler beds. and I'm not sad about it...Fostering was was everything I expected it to be, we had the dream situation...but nearly 2 years is too hard. so we're moving on.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Last Visit...Ever...?

Little Miss and Girlfriend are coming to visit this weekend. We were told (by someone other than their father) that he's moving to Indiana. Something about a support system and their older sister. I don't think the older sister being their should make a differnce...he has children here afterall...but my opinion of his moving does not matter to him...or anyone for that matter. We were glorified babysitters. The state, the agency, the caseworkers, the judges can't/won't recognize the bond formed in the nearly 2 years we raised them. They can't know the fundamental changes these babies made in our family! They don't see my children who still cry for the sisters. We weren't supposed to get attached afterall. We knew it was temporary. We knew what we were getting into, afterall. We don't stay in touch with their dad. We stay in touch with a friend of their mom's who gets to see them often. Any updates come through her, so those will stop. Good night I can't wait to see them!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting Excited and a Little Anxious!

Now that the basement at the Wapak house is starting to come together, we're starting to look at getting the house on the market...getting it on the market gets me excited about house hunting. The nice part about where we are currently, is that we don't have to move! We are not in a hurry to find a place, we have the luxury of staying and building up a savings (aka a down payment) But I'm just starting to get a little itchy to get it on the market. We still have to clean out the garage, clear out the back porch (which most of the stuff on the back porch is actually not ours but our renters so that will go when she goes), clear out the attic, and put the basement back together. It feels SO close! This week we'll start cleaning the basement and putting the bathroom down there back together, then we'll paint the walls, replace ceiling tiles, do a floor treatment, rebuild the basement steps, recarpet the basement steps, and the stairs to the 2nd floor as well as the upstairs hallway. So close I can almost taste it! I'm starting to look at comparable houses and what they're selling for so I can know what to put ours up for but I think we're going to have to ask a realtor and maybe an appraiser (lucky enough we're friends with a local appraiser who has offered to throw together some comps). We're so fortunate to have so much help from friends getting this done and ready!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Look how cute! 9 new additions! 7 Hampshires and 2 Durocs!  

See that dark brown or red looking pig (actually there are 2 in this picture), those are the Durocs. My absolute favorite! 

And this is Pops, he's like a puppy! He follows Todd and won't let anyone else get close to him, very protective, playful and loving! Has more personality than most of the others, but is a boar (meaning soon he will have testosterone running through those viens...we'll get him cut before long though so hopefully he remains comfortable and friendly).
Pigs so far are a pretty low maintenance animal, soon we'll have to get the boys out working them every day (twice a day through the summer) so that come fair time, they'll be ready to stand for the judges. But as of right now, we have a watering system that while messy is low maintenance (fill it every couple days and they're good to go) and their feed is in a dispenser and they self feed out of that and we just fill that every few days.

We were able to weigh our pigs this last Saturday and there's a pretty big gap from top to bottom, we have a couple who are only 60 lbs or so all the way up to 105 lbs! The 2 fatties weighing in at 105 will go to butcher sooner rather than later...they go at about 250-280. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stupid Radio Station

I don't often blog about diabetes anymore, I mean, there isn't much to say, highs, lows, shots and goes on. Anyway on the way to school today we were listening to a station we don't normally frequent (we usually listen to the Christian station) but we were half listening, kind of talking, dropped the big boys off (Thank goodness) and continued on to Ryan's school. The skit was some small character, it was strange...weird voice...whatever. He was talking about bad Christmas movies, the first one was rude but nothing tweaked my radar. The second one. oh my. "how do you know you're watching a bad Christmas movie? If Santa loses his foot because of diabetes it's a bad Christmas movie" Excuse me? seriously? I thank God that Lane Michael wasn't in the car, Ryan asked if that can happen...what do I say? I told him that if Lane Michael doesn't take care of himself then someday it can but not today. I'm angry. So I wrote to the radio station (I waited until I calmed down). I explained what happened, and how Lane Michael has a hard enough life and what they've just done is made him an easy target...made it cool for kids to joke about this...and told them how they've impacted my families life...I even explained how important ratings are, and I'm sure their concern is not my child but I just wanted them to know how they had effected us. they said the morning show is from Columbus Ohio and they'd address this as soon as possible. I hope they do.

Friday, March 21, 2014

1 Week Old Sprouts

If this is just a week, I can't wait to see what they can produce! I'm excited to see what we get this year out of these little starts!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Garden Sprouts already!

Planted the seeds last Thursday. Watered them that night, watered them Saturday and again today...when I went to water them today I noticed these little beauties! In the bottom row, the 2nd plot has a sprout and in the next row up the 1st and 4th have sprouts! That didn't take long! Ryan was so excited and honestly so was I! they started so fast! I'm excite to see what we get!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Garden Starts

Living in the country is NOT a foreign concept to me. I grew up in the country, my closest neighbor (our only neighbor) was on the other side of the cornfield. After living in the barracks and in apartments for most of our military career, I couldn't ask Todd to live in town. We bought a farm, a small 5 acre farm with 5 horses, a drafty house, and an over the road truck driver for a husband. I had 5 horses (mischevious, escape artist type horses), twin 2-4 year olds, and worked full time, there was no time for a garden. So this summer, while Todd and the boys are home for the summer, we want to put out a garden, a small one to start with, grow from there. When we get to our permanent home, we plan to put in a much larger garden. Planting enough to feed us through the summer and can for the winter. We also want a small orchard to eat and can from, we talked about it this weekend and I think we want 2 cherry, 2 apple, 2 peach, and 2 pear. I also want berry bushes...but that's someday. Last week Ryan and I started our garden starts. we planted rows of beans, snap peas, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, peppers, accorn squash, onions, and a few other odd and ends. Our best friends are putting in rows of sweet corn so we did not plant sweet corn but hope to trade for some. Ryan loved helping me plant the seeds, hope he enjoys weeding the garden just as much!  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Financial Progress

We are AGAIN credit card debt free....our tax return came in and we were able to pay off 3 credit cards. This time last year I had planned to get and stay credit card debt free. We got there...we just didn't STAY there. One credit card was used for supplies to renovate the Wapak house basement (still a work in progress), one was used to fix the transmission in the Suburban, and the 3rd was used to replace the front end of the Blazer. This set me pretty far back in meeting some pretty big goals. BUT new year, new goals. This year my goal is to maintain the NO credit card debt. I'm not worried about paying off the Suburban right now. I'm more interested in selling the Wapak house, and will reassess our financial goals once that is sold. I have a few things I'd like to accomplish but after we sell Wapak house the first is paying off the suburban and buying Todd a new vehicle (probably a jeep). I'd like to start paying cash for all our vehicles so to avoid going into debt but we all know that isn't an easy feat. A few things we're going to do this year to hopefully change our finances in big ways...obviously selling the Wapak house is going to be the big change. This summer getting pigs will short term increase our expenses (our feed bill should be HUGE), another batch of broiler chicks to butcher and maybe having a side (or 2) of beef butchered for the freezer. We have NO interest in having cows but we have enough friends that have cows we should be able to get one, we're also putting out a garden, nothing big, just enough to get some fresh veggies out of th1is summer....maybe increasing it as we go so that we have enough to can for the winter...last night I made a meal of eggs (from our chickens), potatoes, left over ham, ground turkey, onions, and peppers...this fall there's a chance that meal could be 100% from homegrown cool is that! Oh and dessert was apple crisp (made from apples I canned last fall). Renting a house in the country has really allowed us to trial and error what we are and are not interested in doing long term. We definitely want a fruit orchard (and 2 of each fruit tree is more than enough), we definitely want chickens for eggs and for meat, and I think we're going to love having hogs...the garden will be our next big can we go without getting in over our heads.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Country Living

There isn't anything easy, or convenient about living in the country. My boys don't have friends less than a block away. There's no 24 hour stores, and the closest gas station is 10 minutes away. There are no side walks, I can't go home for lunch every day and start dinner, can't run home to change clothes when I spill something on myself. The kids can't ride the bus home every day and we can't just take a long walk ending in a trip to the ice cream parlor. Instead we have chickens to feed and water every morning at 6 am and again at 4, we have endless yard to run and play. We have a pond to walk to in the summer and an orchard to enjoy in the fall. But most of all what I'm enjoying is this amazing transformation I'm seeing in my children. A few weekends ago we went out of town for the weekend leaving our children with my mom. My step dad was in the wood shop working, Mom was at her store working and all 3 boys were in the house hanging out, watching TV and relaxing. Ryan, about 4 oclock starts getting sick. Big boys jumped in and just handled it! Didn't run out to find Grandpa...they just handled him, getting him to the bathroom, and then settled in with a show, a blanket and a bucket (just in case); when my mom got home she found their bed folded up, their dishes in the sink and Ryan snuggled in. I'm so proud of them for handling this so well. The next day, Lane Michael came down with the same flu, without being asked Ethan fed and watered the chickens. When cleaning out the hog pen the boys worked in the barn for 5 hours straight and the next day an additional 3 hours...never complained, never whined, just worked. I know some of these changes are just mellowing into middle schoolers but honestly I've never been a fan of that age (5-8 grade) and with these guys I'm becoming more of a fan! Their sense of humor is changing, they'rebecoming more independent, they're thinking of ways to help and doing it before being asked! I think everyone might be at my favorite age to date!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Calm Before the Storm

This season, this end of winter...this is the calm before the storm. The period of time when we should be relaxing and enjoying this end of our season "off". Everyone has the change of season flutters, itching to get out and play, work, create, grow. The kids have cabin fever, the grown ups are waiting for the great thaw and  with each thaw we get hopeful...maybe this time it'll stay warm. It doesn't but...maybe? Spring and summer...even fall will be non-stop for us this year...perpetual movement. we'll start by getting pigs this spring. 15 to be exact. immediately after they arrive we'll start baseball, 4H has already kicked off, we'll get a new batch of broiler chickens to fatten up and butcher. baseball will end. the next week is fair, and a week later we start football! phew! are you tired yet!?

on a side note I just got off the phone with Little Miss and Girlfriend! I love love love them! It's so good to have a continued relationship with them! We are so grateful to have that continued connection!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

life with 3 kids is not like life with 5 kids

Last night Lane Michael and I were sitting the front seat, car relatively quiet (as it usually is these days) heading to Awana and Lane Michael mentioned the girls being gone. I asked what he thinks of life without the sisters. He was thoughtful for a moment, a tear threatened to form and fall, but it didn't. After a long pause he said 'life certainly is different'. Ethan piped in 'quieter'. I asked if they thought maybe life was easier (because lets be honest, it is easier without 3 year old twins), and Lane Michael answered "easier doesn't mean better mom". and he's right. easier doesn't mean better. quietter doesn't mean better. it just means things are different. In the evenings, there are 3 kids to send to the shower (instead of sending 2 to the shower, showering 2 and 1 playing in the bath to get some peace and quiet from the 2), there are 5 plates to fill at dinner not 7, 1 plate to cut instead of 3, 1 load of laundry each day instead of 2. I can now get my Bible study done, clean the kitchen without "help" and maybe even use the restroom alone. But that also means the sisters aren't chattering all through dinner, "helping" me clean up after, loading the washer "for" me, sitting on the tub talking to me while I try to (discreetly) use the potty, following me through the house playing with every toy I try to put away. There are no doll babies, no pink blankies, no pony-tails to fix, no sweet girl snuggles (makes me truly appreciate my boy snuggles), no one interupting Ryan as he tries to pray (every single night). quieter, easier, calmer is not better. it's just different.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Respite Care

We had a respite placement this's 2 of the 3 babies we were supposed to have a few weeks back (they never showed becuase their foster momma got sick), anyway we had Little Dude and Princess from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning. So much fun! I forget how much work toddlers are! Little Dude is mobile and is a go-go-go-er...the only time he sat still was meal time and bedtime! I love it because he's capable of going and eating normal foods! These babies are true miracle babies! What I did learn from this experience though is 1. we got VERY lucky with our girls (healthy, twins, no trauma and minimal neglect) 2. it's easier to send home 2 (there is a level of protection and they go together so not everything is changing) 3. 4 is our limit...5 pushes us out of our comfort zone...we will stop at 4.

This foster momma is doing an amazing job! As active as Little Dude is, he listened so well, did as he was told, ate veggies and fruit like it was going out of style and laid down awake and went to sleep without any fuss. Princess isn't terribly mobile so we didn't have to tell her to do anything but she too ate and slept like a champ! Their momma is certainly doing something right!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We are Project People

We have projects...lots of projects up in the air. all. the. time. Right now Todd has several DIYs going on...he has the Mustang (currently untouched at the Wapak house), he has the basement (currently going untouched ath te Wapak house), we have piglets coming this spring (which means lots of prep work between now and then) and I....I go along for the ride...until I find something to be passionate about. Right now that passion has been sewing...I'm not good at it but I enjoy it. I sewed (successfullly I might add) new stockings for all the kids this year...I sewed 5 coordinating stockings, the same size as Todd and I's stockings (Mr. & Mrs. Claus)...and was extremely happy with the results! And now? Now I want to tackle quilts/comforters for the boys...something simple and masculine...something handmade! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beginning the Wild World of Puppy Love

My Big Boys are entering the very scary, very broad world of opposite sex attraction. We've done minimal talks about what that means and it's leaving me feel a little ill-prepared for the subject. However, being big animal planet, Discovery and history channel watchers, combined with the ownership of chickens has helped pave the way if you will, teaching them some nitty gritty details of (as Ethan likes to say) mating. I've set up a few ground rules for myself when talking to my boys about their love interests.

Rule 1: Puppy love is still love to a puppy.

Rule 2: As Christians, we have very strict standards that we adhere to...even those experiencing puppy love.

Rule 3: If I'm uncomfortable having the conversation, imagine how uncomfortable they are.

Rule 4: Love is fun.

Rule 5: Be honest.

We have, what I consider to be, pretty standarad rules, but maybe they're only standard for us...for parents like us....for our friends boys have each found someone recently who has caught their eye. Very different girls, different families, interests and different stages of the game....they're so young, this is all cute, entertaining in the 4th grade...but then I see news reports about 6th graders getting pregnant, and it terrifies me. I guess all I can do is set ground rules, be open honest and ready to answer some tough questions.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Eleven Years

Eleven years ago, this was my life. I was still in the Army, my husband was gearing up for a deployment to Iraq and this is what he was leaving behind. So much uncertainty. So much to lose. And more pain and joy than we could have imagined. In eleven years we have moved from Texas to Ohio (while Todd was deployed), back to Texas (when Todd came home) and back to Ohio (when we bought the farm on Burnfield), we've welcomed Todd home and readjusted to having him in our family, Ethan's first set of tubes, we struggled through the first 3 months after Todd's accident when he fell out of the tree, Lane's being diagnosed with diabetes, selling the horses, losing Braden, moving to town, having my thyroid removed, losing my Dad, Ethan's 2nd set of tubes, Ethan diagnosed with ADD, welcoming Ryan into the family, becoming foster parents welcoming Little Miss and Girlfriend into our family, moving out of town, getting chickens, the death of our foster girls mother, losing our girls after a year and a half. Football, baseball, new crushes, learning to cook, responsibility, giggles, fights and make ups. and today, this is what our life looks like: so much joy, no pain. just pure, unending love and joy in these boys. Eleven years to get us here but I wouldn't give up a moment of it. These boys are my world, my sun rises and sets with them.  

Ethan, my amazing, forgiving, energetic boy. In class he's "the Man" and in football he's "little monster" in life he's an amazing kid who is strong and sensitive, he got the best traits from his dad and his worst of his mom's. I see so much of us in him. Funny, captivating, popular, sweet.
Lane Michael, my hero, my chef, loving and passionate. Truly and old soul, Taco in football, Ainsley's boyfriend, strong and sweet, always ready with a hug and a smile, my grudge holder and truly my Schwieterman man. Lane Michael is a true mix of my brother and my husband...very very different people. He's loyal to fault, when he falls, he falls hard, is kind, generous, naive, and appreciates the beauty in life. Wants nothing more than to grow up, go to culinary school, become a chef, marry and have a family. Truly wants the American dream.
These boys, best friends, amazing brothers, polar opposites and more than I could have ever imagined. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dipping a TOE Back In

Yesterday I had a doctors appointment and after signing in, I found myself a seat and pulled out my phone to kill the time until they called me back. I had missed a call. From CPS. I immediately panicked "are Little Miss and Girlfriend OK?!" Listened to the voicemail. Would we take a respite placement? 3 babies Friday through Sunday. two 1 year olds and an 8 month old. A baby fix if you will. I called Todd before calling the agency. No answer. I texted him and he couldn't call me until later. I called the agency back, they gave me a brief history of each baby and I accepted. I'm excited to hold babies this weekend! I messaged Todd that the agency had called us for respite for 3 babies for the weekend. and that I accepted. He was...shocked. He didn't think this would happen this fast...he thought we'd have more time off before being thrown back in. He's obviously come around to the idea, was just shocked at first. We've figured out sleeping arrangements and now we just wait until Friday.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Our License...what to do? what to do?

Our caseworker Ericka asked us last week what we wanted to do with our license. Our license is pretty open ended as of right now, we would take foster, respite and weekend/emergency placements. I contacted Todd and after lots of talking/praying/soul searching/numbers crunching/schedule considerations we were able to answer her. We have decided that right now we will leave our license open and have gone on the adoption list. So now we are on the list to receive 4 kinds of calls 1. emergency temporary 2. respite care 3. foster care 4. adoption.
We are not looking to accept any placements until at least spring, this is 2 fold. First we want to make sure bio-dad for Girlfriend and Little Miss is going to succeed (we have no doubts but just to be sure we want to be available to them if necessary) and also to give Todd time to get out of this first year of teaching. I'm sure teaching will never be easy but the first year of writing lesson plans, learning what to expect, getting his feet wet is bound to be (like any other job) the most emotionally exhausting. Ideally we'd love to get someone, just like the twincesses, right at the beginning of summer, giving everyone time to bond and readjust before going back to the full schedule of football and school (always our hardest season). Wed' also like to get our 28 hours of training done to maintain our license and avoid a break in our license. We will of course consider, and pray about every call we receive, just at this time we have no intentions of actively seeking placements. We'd have to hear God giving us the resounding green light before accepting a placement but God is not and never has been mysterious in my life. I seek only to please Him and He has plans for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me.  So I have NO doubt that I will hear him loud and clear when it's time.

Friday, January 10, 2014

An Annual Cycle

We set our sights too high. Our goals unattainable. And in the end, we don't buckle down, sacrifice and WORK for it. Debt free. I true desire. I hear God calling me to be debt free, and yet I continue to use credit cards (transmission went out in the Suburband and the Blazer required it's own set of repairs totalling about $4000 in credit card debt). I fall prey to the needs of the world, to material things. This year, I will set a REALISTIC goal. I am giving myself 3 years to be debt free. I have a plan in place. There is a plan A and a plan B. I will work plan A UNTIL plan B comes to fruition.

Plan A. I will take 3 years to slowly change our lifestyle.

Step 1. Cutting first the fast food and impromptu meals out.

Step 2. Stop buying snacks, coffee and non - essentials from the gas station

Step 3. Budget enough to buy my staff 1 lunch OR breakfast each week.

Step 4. Cut the grocery bill by lessening the meat in all but 1 meal each week and using other healthy alternatives to keep our meal quality higher.

Step 5. Communicate more effectively with Todd about our finances, our needs and our budget.

Step 6. Stick to my budget
a. I have $1798 coming in from the girls last month with us. I want to use that money to pay off our Care Credit card before it starts building interest, pay off right now is $1200 leaving $598 which will pay $500 for a weekend get away from my husband and I (essential) and put $100 in savings.
b. I have used a tax return calculator to see that our return SHOULD be close to $7000 but I will figure on $6500 because of the fees for H-&-R Block to do our taxes. I will use $4300 of that $6500 to pay off the suburban leaving us with $2200. I will put $1000 in savings, we will purchase a new TV (ours is literally 11 years old) and with the remaining money will buy new clothes for Todd and I (we are both in careers now that require us to dress a certain way - him a teacher and I'm the director...time to grow up). What is left will be snow balled into the remaining 2 debts.
c. our $7000 of credit card debt. When Todd is off for the summer, our fuel bill will be cut nearly in half and our child care costs will be down by about $400/month. I am hoping to leave the fuel money for him to do summer activities with the kids, and that $400 can be snow balled onto the larger credit card. but with also paying off the suburban, that frees up $150 to try to snowball, however when the girls went home, we lost their check (over $1700 a month which was used mainly for their care but also for the rent of the house we're living in now so we're really losing money from the budget making it harder to snowball that money when we don't really have it to use).

Plan B. Everything about Plan A goes out the window depending on HOW plan B goes. Plan B comes into effect WHEN we sell the Wapak house. If we can sell the house for what it's worth, it will have enough left after we pay the mortgage and realtor fees to pay off the credit card debt and maybe start a down payment for our next home, however since we use VA home loans, we don't need a down payment so we may use that for Todd's new truck (he's got his eye on one already).

Either way, life is changing. Right now. Not after the checks start coming in. Right. Now. We will make coffee before church and take it in our go cups. This is not any ones fault but my own. Todd is on board but I am the problem. He has the self control I lack. He is cooperative and forgiving. This is on me and it changes today.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sent Them on Their Way

January 3rd...quickly becoming my least favorite date. It now represents the day my son died and the day I gave my girls back to their biological father. We had scheduled Sunday night (when we picked them up) to meet Friday the 3rd at 5:30. Thursday evening he called and moved it 11. losing the last 6 hours with them was like a punch in the gut. Everyone who needed to say good-bye, said it Thursday night. Friday morning, we got up, had breakfast, finished packing their things, took some last minute pictures on the fresh fallen snow (in their princess dresses) and headed for Sidney. It was a quiet drive down. A torturous 20 minute wait while we waited for them to arive and excruciating 20 minute good bye. I thought my heart might break. And then, they were just gone. I looked in the back seat and I saw my 3 amazing children. My 3 Muskiteers. no 5 point harness car seats. no sisters. no trace of them having been there. they were just gone.