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Family Update

Our family has had a crazy couple of weeks! The crazy started when my dad had a hip replacement almost two weeks ago.  This surgery is remarkable.  He went from a terrible limp and extreme pain to feeling spectacular! Yesterday he didn’t need to use a cane or walker at all, which is amazing when you think that they took out his hip bone!

2 days after my dad’s surgery, my mom bumped his walker (he wasn’t using it at the time).  The walker flipped over onto her foot and broke it!  Thankfully the break is minor, and her foot will be fine in a few weeks.

On Sunday my mom experienced terrible chest pains and had to go to the ER.  Praise the Lord that her heart is fine!  She has pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of the lungs) and “mild” pneumonia.  This seems so strange because she hasn’t had a cough at all.  She is on IV antibiotics, and we are hoping that she will be discharged from the hospital soon.

My dad, however, has had a cough.  He went to the doctor about it on Monday.  And he has…. pneumonia too!  Interestingly, he seems to feel fine other than the coughing.

Did I mention that our church’s Passion Play is coming up, and Jeremy is playing Jesus?  He has been quite busy with practices.  J just started his new soccer season.  And S just started his Little League baseball season.

Needless to say, we are quite busy the last few weeks.  The grown ups are doing a lot of shuffling between work, hospital, and childcare.  Praise God for so many of His people who have stepped up to help us!  People have helped by taking the kids to practice, bringing dinner, and most importantly through prayer!

Lord willing, life will be calmer soon!  Foster care/adoption prep is going well (though it is postponed for a week or so).

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Home Visit and Interviews

We are making steady progress toward becoming licensed as a foster family!  Our two social workers from the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home came to take a tour of our house.  They are amazing.  (By the way our house is fully clean and organized, maybe for the first time ever!  With a lot of prayer and hard work, I hope it will stay that way!)  But the Department of Human Resources (DHR) is looking more for their certain safety requirements, rather than organization.  Overall everything is fine with the house; since we have three kids, our home is already quite safe.  We do have a few little things to take care of — some weird, some very logical, and some surprising.  Logical:  our social worker has to check in with the state DHR to make certain that our pool meets the safety standards.  Surprising:  all of our medicines have to be in lock boxes–even children’s Tylenol.  Weird:  I had to put decals onto our full-length bathroom mirror at a child’s eye level!  You know, in case a child turns a corner and walks into the mirror hanging on our wall.  We are happy to do whatever need to do though!  🙂

Jeremy and I each had individual interviews with our social workers.  We talked about our childhoods, past and current relationships with our families, and our relationships with our children and each other.  We also discussed how many foster children we want and what kinds of issues we feel that we can or cannot handle.  These questions are asked to us individually.  We are to talk about our answers with each other later and give the social worker our for certain answers at our marriage interview.

We turned in copies of our birth and marriage certificates, and our next step is…  More Paperwork!  I keep reminding myself that this is one step at a time, and that our homestudy could take a really long time.  But I have to be honest:  my hopes are up that we will move very quickly!  We will keep you posted.

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Reading Log: January

Clearly January is long over, but here is January’s Book List!  I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to read more yourself and with your family.

Amanda’s Book List

Becoming Jane:  The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen edited by Anne Newgarden                   I absolutely adored this book!  Becoming Jane is a book of short biographical information and Austen quotes.  Many of the quotes are from her books, but a lot of  them are from her personal letters.  As a big Jane Austen fan, I loved seeing a glimpse into her real personality–dedicated to family, witty, and a little bit cheeky!  My new favorite Austen quote is from a letter she wrote to her sister, Cassandra:  “What dreadful Hot weather we have!–It keeps one in a continual state of Inelegance.”  I can’t help thinking what she would say about our weather in Alabama!

Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay                                                                           This was a novel within a novel:  the story of a divorced author who begins to date again, and a fictionalized account of the relationship between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.  The two stories intertwined very interestingly.  That Brahms and Clara Schumann had an unusual and complicated relationship is historical fact, clearly seen in their letters and in the writings of those who knew them.  But what really happened between them, what their relationship truly was, we do not know.  In Good Things I Wish You the life experiences of the fictional characters cause their perception of the life and relationships of the historical characters to vary.  I found myself fascinated by the idea that what we learn of history is clearly colored by the perception of the author as well as our own beliefs and experiences.  I will say that this was not a feel-good book.  I believe that the author’s purpose was to make the reader feel as unsatisfied as the characters in her book.  This book also contained a smattering a bad language which I did not appreciate.

Tenderheaded:  A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories edited by Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson                                                                                                                                     I truly love stories, but non-fiction can be difficult for me.  This book was a struggle for me to finish, but I am glad I persevered.  Throughout our foster classes we regularly heard comments about how important hair is to people and families.  In fact we were told that if a child wants to make a large change to their hair, the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home tries to ask the birth parents for permission first.  Hair matters, and somehow it can separate or bring people together.  Tenderheaded dealt with the history of African-American hairstyles, hair care products, and the views that some people hold about various hairstyles.  Before reading this book, I had no idea that in the past the Afro was considered a political statement!  What I took away from this book is that hair is extremely personal, and respect and care for a person’s hair is a great way to show acceptance and love.  Sections of this book contained quite a bit of foul language.

Heroes for My Son by Brad Meltzer                                                                                                This book brought me so much joy!  I passed it on to Jeremy as soon as I finished it, and I couldn’t wait to share stories from it with my dad.  An easy read, the book has 2-page blurbs about 65 admirable men and women.  Some of these people are well-known–I shared the section about Martin Luther King, Jr. with my kids on MLK day.  Others you will never have heard of but are still amazing heroes.  Reading Heroes for My Son inspired me to think about my heroes, both the famous and the personal, and challenged me to share these heroic stories with my kids.

Persuasion by Jane Austen                                                                                                      Reading about Jane Austen earlier in the month led me to thinking that I was not as familiar with some of her works as I would like to be.  I have read them all at least once long ago, and I have read Pride and Prejudice more times that I can remember.  (I am an obsessive re-reader!)  But I realized that I could not remember the details of Persuasion whatsoever.  After picking it up, I am so glad I re-read it.  Persuasion has become my favorite Jane Austen book!

 

Jeremy’s Book List

Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer                                                                                          Jeremy’s take:  Distasteful language and not a Spirit-filled book.  Yet a call for men to stand and die for what they believe in.  Sadly I’m not sure this dear soldier died believing in the salvation of Jesus.

The Kids:  Both older boys have been obsessively reading The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series.  I won’t take the time to tell you the titles, just know that if the book is by Jeff Kinney they have read it or are hoping to read it very soon.   

For Christmas we gave J a copy of The Calvin and Hobbes Treasury by Bill Watterson.  He really seemed to like it.  I read along with him a little, and I was surprised at the complexity of some of the comedy.  In my mind Calvin and Hobbes was for young kids, but I think older kids really might enjoy it more.

For Christmas S received the first three books in the A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy.  There are 26 books in the original series, and each book begins with the next letter in the alphabet.  S found these to be easy and enjoyable reads, and he has already requested the rest of the series!

Family Read Alouds:  Along with picture books the kids and I are always reading through at least one chapter book.  Sometimes we read one book during homeschool and another at bedtime.  If a homeschool book is very well loved, sometimes that book will take both reading time slots!  Here are our read alouds for the month of January.

The Mysterious Howling from The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood                                                                                                                                   This was one of my personal, favorite books from last year, and I couldn’t wait to share it with the kids.  Unfortunately I was disappointed because they couldn’t seem to get into it!  As time went on they seemed to enjoy the story more, and the mystery intrigued them enough that they asked to move onto the next book in the series.  But after some thought I decided to put the series aside.  The book is so awesome and witty, but much of the wit and irony seemed to go over their heads.  I am planning to pick this book series up again in a few years when the kids can truly appreciate it!

The Blackstar of Kingston by S.D. Smith                                                                                          A prequel to The Green Ember series, my children loved this book as much as all of S.D. Smith’s others.  Filled with excitement, honor, and (of course) rabbits with swords, this book did not disappoint.  To those of you who don’t read children’s books, this may sound weird; but if you haven’t read The Green Ember you are missing out.  I recommend The Green Ember to everyone I know:  boys, girls, men, women.  You will love it!  Read it!  And then read the rest of the series!  Seriously.  You will be glad you did.

And that is all!  I apologize for the length of this blog, but I can promise you that we read a lot less in February!  🙂

 

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Can You Believe Amanda Got Booked?

In the past our blog has been almost totally adoption related (as you can tell from our name); but since we so rarely have adoption news, I thought we might start to add some other content.  In addition to foster care and adoption news, I will also be blogging on family life, homeschooling, and literature.

Many of you may not know that one of the things I love most of all is books!  I grew up in a reading family, and I read A LOT.  Books are special.  They take you outside of yourself, showing you new places and exposing you to new thoughts and ideas.  They can also help you to understand yourself and others better.

One of my favorite things about reading is how books can connect you with others.  The stories you share as a family become a part of your family culture in a unique way.  I can remember specific times that my parents read aloud to me as a child.  As I got older my parents would pass to me books that they loved.  Reading these books was like meeting an important friend of my parents and understanding more deeply what mattered to my family.  Then I got to develop my own relationship with those books, and that experience allowed my relationship with my parents to deepen.

When Jeremy and I first married, we moved to New Orleans which was about a twelve hour drive from our families.  We began to read aloud together on these long trips, and we developed a shared culture of books and memories.  What began as a way to pass the time became a bonding experience and a way to share feelings and ideas.  Though we are busier (and I am more trouble staying awake in the car!), we still read aloud to each other on trips and at other times.  Off the top of my head, I can remember fifteen books we have read together over the last thirteen years; but I know there have been many more.

I firmly believe in the power of reading aloud, and I read aloud with my kids daily.  Because G is small most of his books are picture books.  I LOVE, LOVE picture books; and when we read a special one, I will share it with you.  But those of you who know three-year-olds understand that they love repetition.  Since G and I will often be reading the same books over and over again, I won’t bore you with that information!  G does like to play nearby while I read to his older brothers, so he listens to at least parts of the chapter books we read.  I don’t know how much he always understands or processes, but I am glad that he is exposed to an extensive vocabulary and is seeing the power and joy of reading.

This school year the big kids and I started keeping book logs; and I would love to share with you what we are reading, individually and as a family.  Monthly I will post our book lists along with our recommendations.

I plan to share these lists in the following categories (but all in one monthly blog):

Amanda’s Books

Jeremy’s Books

The Kids’ Books

Family Read Alouds

J and A Read Aloud

 

My hope is that sharing about our reading life will inspire you to read more and to share books with those you love.  I hope you will decide to read aloud with your family, whether you have a spouse, young children, or teenagers.  Perhaps you will be interested in something we read.  Hopefully you can share recommendations with us!

Christ commonly taught through stories.  Story is powerful;  may the stories we read challenge us to look honestly and graciously at ourselves and others.  And may stories excite us to live lives of honor, bravery and compassion!

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I Didn’t Want to Foster

Becoming a foster family requires a lot of training!  We spent the Fall taking classes on how to care for children who have had traumatic experiences.  These classes were incredibly, emotionally draining but extremely important.  We feel so much more prepared and capable of caring for children’s needs, but we also know that we probably won’t feel that way when we are actually faced with being a foster family!

We are so blessed that our entire family is supportive of our call to foster and adopt!  Jeremy’s family is so encouraging of our journey.  In fact Jeremy’s brother and sister-in-love are fostering as well.  Since my parents live with us, they were required to take the classes with us, week after week of training and so much homework!  Our children are excited as well.  When we spoke to the kids about the difficulties of fostering, we asked them whether or not they wanted to foster.  One of them responded:  “Who wouldn’t want to be a foster family?!”

Honestly, for a long time I didn’t want to be a foster family.  Making the decision to foster was extremely hard for me.  On one hand I am tired of waiting for our adoption, and I want to help a child in need NOW.  On the other hand I felt like deciding to foster was giving up on our adoption.  Fostering can certainly lead to adoption, but that is not its purpose; the hope for fostering is that a child can return to their biological family.  I still hope and believe that the Lord will allow us to provide a forever home for a child, and that very well may happen through fostering.  But after much prayer, I knew that we were to foster.  How could we not provide a safe and loving home for a child who needs one, whether for a short time or a long time?  Thankfully the Lord has changed my heart, and I am now so very excited to foster!

So what are our next steps?  This week we will take a one day child/infant CPR and first aid class, as well as a water safety class (since we have a pool).  Then we will have to redo our homestudy, which will require background checks (for all those in the home over 18), clearance from our doctors, and for a social worker to do at least two home visits.

We are also working hard at getting our house ready to accommodate more children!  Many of you know that our home is commonly in various stages of disarray.  We are working so hard to get our home into a nice condition, not just for fostering but also to improve our everyday life.  I so want to be organized, and I think having a strict goal date is helping me to really get it together.  Our first homestudy visit is Tuesday, February 27.

We want this process to move super quickly, but we also know that life rarely works that way for us!  We have also decided to stay in relationship with our adoption agency because we do not want to close any doors to what God’s plan may be.

So here we are again, continuing to wait and trust the Lord!  This is truly the story of our lives and our faith.  As frustrating as the waiting can sometimes be, I know that is where the Lord so often grows me the most.  So grow us, Lord; and let Your will be done in our lives.  And help me to wait for You because sometimes it is so hard!

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We’re Back!

I knew that I had not blogged in a very long time, but when I logged into our blog site, I was shocked to realize that it had been more than a year!  I really love to blog, but I often struggle to know what to write since our adoption story seems to have so many long pauses.  So many long pauses!  I am going to try to write more often.  And thankfully, I do finally have some news to share.

First let me start with some family news.  We bought a house!  In all of our years of marriage, we have only ever rented.  Our new home is beautiful and perfect for us; we are thrilled and thankful that the Lord gave us this blessing!

Another awesome change is that my parents have moved in with us.  This decision has been a real blessing for us all!  Our home has an “in-law” area so that we all have our own personal space, but we share common areas.  The kids love seeing Mimi and Papa everyday!

And now for the adoption news:  After much prayer we have decided to become a foster family!  We are thrilled to be partnering with the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home (ABCH).  The ABCH will give us a great opportunity to care for children while providing us with amazing support, prayer, and encouragement.  We will be fostering and also hope we will foster to adopt.

In order to keep this blog from being crazy long, I am going to give you all of the foster care details in our next blog post.  Thank you to all of you who have prayed for us and supported us during this long, crazy journey.  Sometimes it seems like we will never get to adopt, but I know that God is on the move!

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Important Info on the Family Movie Event!

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A movie about time travel, weird inventions, singing frogs, and a kid who needs a family! What could be better?

The Family Movie Event is tomorrow–Saturday, January 21 from 3-5!  We will be at Frazer Church  in the Surge Children’s Ministry Room.  There will be a lot of traffic at Frazer that day because Distinguished Young Women is also being held there. Your best bet for parking will be to park in the lot behind the church.  Come into the atrium, and go up the stairs behind the submarine slide.  We can’t wait to see you there!

Concessions will be sold, and a love offering will be taken to support our adoption fund!

Remember that tickets are free and can be grabbed at the door, but reserving tickets helps us to plan ahead.  Reserve your tickets here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/family-movie-night-tickets-30467741836