Sunday, May 14, 2017

For the Mothers of my children... Blessings on Mother's Day

For the woman who sits alone today...
For the woman who doesn't know him...
For the woman who grieves...
For the woman who misses all her firsts...
For the woman who isn't reading a bedtime story tonight...
For the woman who doesn't know what it feels like to hold him...
For the woman who counts the days until the next visit...
For the woman who wonders about the future...
For the woman who gave birth to a beautiful, perfect, child...

This is for his Mother.
This is for her Mother.

This is for the Mothers of my children.

I am blessed by your child. Each and every day I see the works of God behind your child's eyes. There is love, wisdom, charisma, hope, faith, and joy behind those eyes. When your child smiles, I am right there smiling along. When your child cries, I'm ready to comfort, to hold, to wipe the tears away. When your child is scared, I do my best to wipe away those fears. When your child misses you...

I stop.

I breathe deep.

For I know, the blessings in my life are not out of joy, but out of sorrow. A sorrow that is so deep within your child, that I cannot even begin but scratch the surface of helping him through that grief. You are a part of your child's heart forever, as it should be, and always will be.

I will honor that love your child has for you. And I would like you to know, that I honor today the love I know you have for your child. Whether that love poured out before your child was even born, or was poured out just yesterday, I know you loved. I know you love.

Thank you for sharing your child with me and with my family. I know it was not by your choice, but please know I am doing the best I can to give the love to your child that is needed and wanted.

I love your child something fierce.

You can be confident I would cross oceans for your child and trudge in the murkiest of streams, if it means that your child is safe and loved.

A Child of God. A Miracle. You created this tiny human that is perfect in every way.

Today I would like to send a blessed Mother's Day to you. You have been on my thoughts all day and I have mourned knowing your day has looked nothing like mine. Your child sends love your way too, in thought, through actions, and in prayer.

He misses you.
She misses you.

God's blessings.






Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What's the buzz?

With Easter just passed, I was realizing that I never listened to Jesus Christ Superstar - one of my favorite past times during Lent, as the music has always led me to think about Christ and how he related with his family and friends in those last moments before his death. Plus, I'm a sucker for any music from a musical. Imagine that!? So - What's the buzz? Tell me what's happenin'....

This year I missed the Superstar boat though with little downtime at home; however, I did find myself listening to Godspell one day as I organized my bedroom and was reminded of one of my favorite songs and its' lyrics....

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above
So thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord
For all His love
I really want to thank you Lord!


All good gifts - my life is filled with so many. God is blessing us richly with a life that is full of truth, love, and spirit. Along with these blessings comes a multitude of new knowledge, some easy to grasp and hold onto, and some that makes me wiser in years than I'd like to be.

This Lent & Easter season, I have found myself pondering the sacrifices made on our worldly behalf and the joys that came from those sacrifices. Although my sacrifices are extremely minute compared to those our Father endured, I find myself pondering the sacrifices my family has chosen to make in this time of our lives and how this is changing our own outcome.

For those who follow my posts and know my family, you most likely know our story as a family, but here is a quick catch-up. Jon and I have been married almost 13 years and dated 4 years before that. Our oldest son was conceived after two years of worrying something was wrong, and he is our little miracle. Caleb is now 8 and a bold, bright, strong-headed child. After years of trying for another child and years of researching adoption options, we brought home our son Christopher "Tope" from the Philippines, at the age of 5 1/2. He is now 7 and brings intense joy to our lives. He also keeps us on our toes and on the edge of our patience level at all hours of the day, but he is worth it. Can't imagine our life without him. We now started a new journey for our family and have become a foster home with the intent of someday adopting again if a child placed with us needs a forever home. We did this for two reasons - 1. We weren't done growing our family. 2. We see a HUGE need in our community for children that need a safe and loving home, and we knew we could provide that safety and loving care. I thought I knew what it was like to sacrifice my wants and needs for my children, but not until we started being foster parents, have I truly started understanding the importance of my calling as a Mother.

Just over a year ago we started our journey as foster parents. It was a very abrupt start. We weren't completely done with the process (although we were in theory already licensed but in a different way) when we received a call about a sibling set of four children. We prayed. We discussed. We did both those things over and over and said "yes". Had I known what the next few months would look like, that "yes" would have been much harder to say. I have learned first-hand the ugly, ugly truth of what childhood-trauma looks like. Friends, when I say it is ugly, I'm not sure if that even covers what I'm trying to say. When trauma rears its' ugly head and places itself in a young child's body, a body that is still exploring and learning how to grow, and then we expect as a society for this child to go through life like it is all normal, wow. The end result is ugly. And scary. And confusing. And domineering. We learned through a ton of trial and error what the needs were for these children and how they needed love. I still love these children something fierce and I am so happy to know they are all in a great place in their lives now. We all miss them. We don't miss the trauma that came along and took over our household, but we miss the dear souls that were alive in this house. For a time we thought they may stay forever, but realized that was not to be the case, but that is ok because we realized God had put them here for a purpose so that we could help through some transitions that needed to happen so that healing could begin.

The children left and we then took time. Time to breathe. Time to re-coop. Time for our Caleb and Tope. Time for ourselves as a couple. Time for holidays with family. And re-thought what would be best for our family. Could we still do foster care? Are we equipped to bring more children into our house that have trauma? How do we keep our boys safe, especially Tope since he is going through his own big changes in life as an adoptee with his own traumas? There were no perfect answers to any of these questions, but we decided we weren't ready to stop providing a loving home for children in our community, but did realize we needed to set more parameters for our family so things can stay more stable. We called our caseworker and said we would only take children through the age of 4, possibly age 5 in an emergency.

We got a call on a baby boy and said yes. A BABY boy. The year prior I finally got rid of almost all our baby things. I thought we were done. I was tired of holding onto the prayer of asking God to give me the chance to care for another baby. It was hard seeing all of our baby things and realizing there was a very low chance we would ever use it again. So after 7 years of basically not touching it, it was all given away. So here comes baby boy and we are scrambling to get everything together again! lol! God answered my prayers. This baby boy, oh goodness, his smile... oh how I wish I could share it with the world. He is adored by all of us in the family and we can't get enough of his charismatic ways and sweet, sweet personality.

Baby boy actually spoiled us I think, because he was such a good baby, we thought - what the heck?! We can handle another child if we are called. We agreed to be on the emergency list on a Friday afternoon and got a call on Monday morning about a baby girl and 3-yr-old boy. By that afternoon, they were scared to tears, sitting in our living room, and trying to adjust to three other children, a dog, new beds, new toys, new food, new sounds. The first week they were here was tough. It was sad to see baby girl so sad and scared. We could hardly get her to smile and she cried almost constantly the first two days. And big brother wasn't doing much better, hardly speaking a word to us, making us wonder if we were meeting all his needs. But things have become better. They are both starting to show us their personalities and seem relaxed in our home and are becoming part of the family. Things aren't perfect of course - I mean how can they be when you have a 3-year old!?! (I swear age 3 is WAY worse than age 2!!!) But they are both starting to also take a piece of my heart that I'm very happy to share.

We know that just because they are young children, it does not mean that the ugly, disgusting, trauma junk won't rear its' ugly head - we already see plenty of trauma related type affects on these kiddos. However, we are much more equipped after more reading on the subject, taking a class on trauma, and knowing the younger the child, hopefully we can help make some healthier brain connections while they are living with us.

We are busy, but it is a Good busy. Unlike last year, I have learned that I still need to take time for myself among the busy. It isn't easy finding time, but I'm doing it with some running again and a goal of two half-marathons coming up. I've learned to give as much time to my two older boys as possible. I'm learning to set down my phone and leave it be until all are asleep so I can give my attention to everyone. I've learned to ask for help a little more - although this is a big work in progress. And I've learned that it is ok to do what we think is best for OUR family. We loved the older children we fostered last year, but it wasn't a good fit for us. I felt so guilty saying that and like I was betraying them by even thinking it. But now I understand that it needs to be a good fit for everyone or it isn't healthy. This year, although it is super crazy with now TWO 1 yr olds, a 3, 7, and 8 yr old, I'm happy. Thankful for what blessings God has put into our lives. Jon and I had discussed adoption years before having children, but I had no idea what God had in store for us.

This is one crazy marathon God has put us in! Some of the miles haven't been so bad, some have been all up-hill, some I feel like I'm getting a blister or  an upset stomach, and some of the miles have been smooth sailing. One thing is for sure though, this marathon isn't over. Our race has yet to be finished. Won't be surprised if God has an obstacle course or two awaiting us in the middle of this marathon, but I do know He is running alongside us in all of this crazy we have decided to call our lives.

My biological child. My adopted child. My foster children.
These kids are my passion. They are my calling. They are my life. They are my heart.
Any and all sacrifices I make for these kids, I think it is worth it.
And oh how I want to Thank You, Lord, for giving me this life... including the extra wrinkles I have now produced in the last year.  ;)


Thursday, September 8, 2016

6 Months as Foster Parents

So the title may have had wittier moments in my head, but in all reality, it is full and honest truth. Six months as Foster Parents. I would like to know where the last half of a year went...

This summer was quite the season.  Although it is supposed to be a season of warmth, relaxation, and vacations, we were in a Winter. A really long, brutal, stormy winter, where you hunker down in your house and wonder when the storm will pass. On the sunny days of this winter, we basked in the light and enjoyed the 30 degree temps. On the cloudy, sub-below temp kind of days - well, we made it through to the next day.

To say I have learned more in the last six months than just about any other six months in my life, would be a completely accurate statement. The learning curve my husband and I have been on has been huge. There are days we scored a perfect 10. And there have been many more days where we have scored a 2, if being gracious in the scoring.

Trauma is - well I have words for it, but since I have kept this blog PG, I won't say it.  :)

Trauma does really awful things to kids.

I think of myself on my "bad" days, and how my forethought is just to keep it together Mara. It's just a day. Life is good and tomorrow will be better. But even with those thoughts, oofta can I be a grump. I take out my frustrations on those I love and trust and I blame myself for "failures" that aren't really true.

Now take my bad days - take YOUR bad days - and put them into a young child. This child, has not been given the means to understand how to react to this bad day. This child does not understand how to control her emotions. This child does not understand that the person that loves and takes care of her is not the perpetrator that haunts her. This child wants nothing more than to have a good day, but her body tells her that good days are numbered. And this is what my kiddos deal with day in and day out. And when this all becomes too overwhelming, well, the behaviors begin. Behaviors that seem to make no sense to those around them. These traumas in their lives, they overtake these little ones, and we as the adults do our darndest to help them through, but we are human too and can't always figure out the best way to give of our love.

It has been a hard road, loving kiddos that push back from that love. Loving kiddos that don't trust your safety, because they've been unsafe before. Loving kiddos that want all of your time, and yet there is only so much to give. And yet, some how you just do it. You love these kids, no matter what the cost.

There have been many changes in the last six months. We started with four foster children, this summer had three, and right before school we now have two. By the end of October we may very well be back to our two boys, unless we get another call for another child - which is very possible. It is hard to see our kiddos leave, and yet, it is very bittersweet. They are all going to be in forever families very soon and for that, I am very grateful. They will all be safe and loved, and what more can I ask for. There are times I wish we could have said "yes" these children can be part of our forever family, but for multiple reasons, we realized it wasn't what was best for us or for them, and that is ok. It stinks. But it is ok.

We were a part of one of their seasons of life. Although at times it definitely felt like winter to us, I do believe it was one of the best summers they've ever had. We have a bond with these children that will always be a part of them and us. Our lives will never be the same now that they were a part of our family. The struggle was real over the last few months, but everyone's hearts grew and learned to accept and love new friends. There was a real and true reason these children came into our lives when they did. I have a strong sense that we were a part of their lives at just the right time and helped pave the way so that they could have open hearts when moving into their forever homes. My heart is oh so saddened to say good bye, but it also rejoices in the new journey they all get to begin, and I know their journeys will now be good ones.

So 6 months into a new crazy journey for us in the realm of foster care, and although a hard one, we have decided we aren't done yet. There are so many children still in need of a safe home and we feel called to continue providing this need. We also would love to add more to our Forever Family some day, and pray Caleb & Tope have more siblings soon. We are growing our family! It's completely a nontraditional way that has so many hoops and stumbles, but we are confident that this is all in God's hands and trust this path (even if I ask a million questions a day!).

Looking forward to what the next 6 months have in store. God sure knows how to keep me on my toes!

Mara





Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When silence is easiest



Life. Holy Toledo. Life has been, well, not sure if crazy really covers it at this point, but I'll go with that - Life has been crazy.

I've been silent for awhile. There are the obvious reasons for the silence -
A. I rarely have time to sit
B. I'm exhausted
C. Not a lot of time spent on me lately
D. There are things I legally cannot write about to keep our kiddos safe

But there are other reasons I've been silent. Silence is easy -  with silence, you don't have to answer the questions that haunt you. I think this silence comes from not knowing exactly what to say. The silence comes from this feeling of such overwhelming desire to have answers and knowledge of the unknown, that speaking outwardly of that unknown is - well - it's scary. About a month into our journey of welcoming four more children into our home, I read this article The Silence of Adoption  and I understood everything this woman was saying. Her words struck a chord. It was exactly everything that was going through my head but didn't know how to express...

"It's not because we are hiding. 
 
It's not because we want to gloss over our lives and give a false impression of adoption to the world.
 
It's because words are shabby and elusive and so much of the time I just don't know what to say and don't truly have the mental energy to chase after those elusive words.
 
It's the silence of adoption.
 
It's those early days with a traumatized child and a family in shock trying to wade through in a process where the handbooks are sadly inadequate. 
 
The truth. It is in that time that the family needs the support the most. The months of quiet.  The silent times.  When words are inadequate and thoughts are too jumbled to get onto paper.
 
It is those times when the family needs prayers.  They need the church, the neighbors, the friends, the family to step up. They need people to encourage.  Call. Ask. Listen. 
 
Without judgment.  With ears of understanding.  With a willingness to give the family a break so they can pass through this season free from guilt. And shame.  Because with the trauma comes layers of shame for the mom and the dad.
 
Wading through with a child lost in trauma is a humbling, scary and guilt-ridden process. There are times when the family struggles deeply with how to love. They struggle with questions and doubt. When they see the trauma affecting their other children the layers of guilt get ever deeper.
 
They feel shame for the anger and frustration they feel towards the hurting child in their midst. They feel shame that they aren't experts on raising this child despite many of them who have been there and done that with the other children in their family. They feel guilt that they can't even find the words to express their current world.
 
And one of the hardest parts - when the child who spins out of control at home, goes out in public and smiles and glad hands everyone in his or her path, charming the socks off the adults around him leaving the parents feeling ever more alone. How can they share about the battle when the child is obviously so sweet and easy?
 
It's a complicated bunch of mess in that silence. "

The first month of our family of eight was busy, had a ton of ups and downs, and became a blur. I focused on getting food on the table, everyone tucked in at night, and creating a new family unit out of two groups of people. After about the first two weeks, we started seeing signs of what was to come. By four weeks, things hit the fan. And here we were, a family of eight, wading through water five minutes at a time, sometimes struggling to breathe.

It was interesting when Tope came home a year ago from the Philippines. We had a wide array of support. Everyone knew what was going on. You all knew our story, where we were in the process, and we had constant questions of how life was. Fostering children has been a different experience. First, many people didn't know it had happened, as it happened much sooner than we had ever expected and when fostering children it is not ideal to parade around town sharing that your children are actually foster children. With Tope, even though most of our community doesn't understand adoption, we felt people were ready and willing to learn, and now here we were with foster children and we felt isolated. I felt alone. Like the author above said: "It's a complicated bunch of mess in that silence."

We lost our oldest foster child at two months into their time here. I cannot share why or how of course, but do know this was a huge decision to be made by our social worker, a decision that sat so sourly in my mouth. How I longed to be able to make everything "good" and "right" and "fix" this whole situation, but I knew it was much larger than us, and I'm very thankful for a social worker that could see this before everything completely crumbled. Although this was extremely hard for us all, I do believe it is the best decision for her and will ultimately be a very good thing for her and her siblings. But now to deal with the stress and loss that causes on the other children.

We now have three "foster" children that are part of our family. We have stumbles every day. There are effects of trauma in these children that severly effect how they cope with life each and every day. The therapists and textbooks say we must be doing things right. The children feel safe in our home and they trust us - we know this because they are starting to trust us with their grief. Every day is a day of trauma/loss/mourning for at least one of our children and they take it out in so many ways. It's tiring, mind-numbing, and some days I feel awful for how I deal with the behaviors. Then there are the days where I see the silverlining. There are days I feel I've got this. The days where meltdowns turn into cuddles, yells turn into talking, fearful hyper activity turns into a calm silence - these are the days where I say, yes, we can do it.

The truth -  It all takes a toll. I don't sleep well. Neither Jon or I have exercised really since they've joined our family. Boxes from moving into our house are still sitting in the living room and kitchen. The bags under my eyes get darker and darker and I am stress eating with the best of them. Tope is regressing in his behaviors some, which is hard to see (and handle), but then I remember how Caleb did the same thing when Tope came home and I truly do believe all is well. And we just have a lot of learning still to do.

But an even greater truth - It all has changed us. I am a mom of five kids now - busier than I ever was before - and I love having my house busy with imaginative play, girl's hair bows, laughter, new conversations, and new relationships forming. My son, Caleb, an only child for six years, now has four siblings and he is happy. He is very happy. Tope, who wasn't so sure about having a sibling younger than him, is now best buddies with the youngest. Both boys stay busier, are excited to play more, and are learning how to adjust and grow with our changing family. Jon - my husband - well he has been amazing. This is a lot, and he has more than stepped up to the plate. He is showing me more strength and courage than I've ever seen, and I appreciate being in this journey with him as a team.

Life is again changing as we head towards the end of the school year. I am looking forward to more bonding time with the kids, as well as becoming very nervous about dealing with behaviors more often, but I think overall the summer will prove to be a healthy time for us all. We have also been very thankful to our church. The ladies learned that we could really use some help with food and cleaning. I hated asking for help - so Jon, smart guy he is, he asked, and the ladies have provided. The first month I did so great keeping up on things, but when the behaviors began, all of my time has been devoted to spending time with the kids to either prevent fires or put them out, so cooking and cleaning became very hard to attain until 9:30 at night when I was physically and emotionally wiped. The last couple weeks the ladies and Jon's Mom have helped us out with food, laundry, and organizing some of our cupboards. I can't begin to express thanks for all that this has helped our family accomplish. It is a huge burden off of my shoulders and was just what this weary soul needed. It has given me a boost in confidence again and has gained me some time with the kids. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart ladies!

I've done it. I've finally broken my silence. It feels good and it feels scary.

Adoption and Foster care are not something to rush into. We thought long and hard about our decision to build our family in this way. Are there days I wish I could breathe and everything would be happy and honkeydorey? Absolutely. Are there days I wouldn't give it up for the world and can't wait to see these children grow and blossom? More than I can count.

God has blessed us richly. The struggles in our house right now are deep, hard, and scary at times, but the amount of love and faith in this house will outweigh these battles in the end. I may be tired and weary, but I do feel this is where God wants us to be, we just have to take it all a day at a time.

If you are one who likes to pray, could you please pray for God to guide us in patience and strength? All seven of us in this family need these two things right now, each in our own ways.

Thanks for being a part of our community. Thanks for reading. I'll write again soon.

God's Blessings~
Mara

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A new journey - foster care

I've been hinting there is another part to our journey as a family and we have officially began our next steps to growing our hearts and sharing our love. 

We have decided as a family that we are on board to be a part of the foster care community. Although we wish we could help even more orphans across the ocean, we realize there are many orphans right here in town that also need the love of a family. We do know our ultimate goal is to adopt again, but have no idea how soon or far away that time may be. 

Of course, although this alone sounds like a big new step, we ended up diving head first into this decision! Within a couple weeks of our first meeting, we have our first placement. We are still licensed as a foster family because Tope was considered by the state as a foster child until his adoption was legalized by the courts. Because of this, and because we knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone-we got a call Monday night asking if we would be willing to bring home four children Wednesday afternoon, they were desperate to find a placement. Yes, you read that correctly, 4 kiddos. 

Let that sink in. 

First placement. Double the size of our household. We moved into our house only two months ago, thus way too many boxes still unpacked. And we weren't expecting to get any calls until all our info was updated in a couple months. 

Many people had been called, none had said yes. We did. 

Crazy? Yes. But we didn't make this decision lightly. I did research on the kid's situation. We talked. We prayed. We talked more. We asked questions. We prayed more. And then said what felt like a very big "yes". 

We've now had six kids for just over three days. We are staying busy, but life has been good. It's been fun to hear the kids all get to know each other and I'm enjoying the big family feels. Not sure how long these kiddos will stay in our home and in our lives, but I know without a doubt that they have already blessed us richly. These kids deserve love and stability. That is all they are asking of us, and THAT I know I can give. 

Prayers are welcome for our four as they go through another change in their lives, and I ask that you please keep our boys in your prayers as well as they take in a new change too. We know and have faith that this next step in our lives will be a good one that can also be scary at times, but with support from our friends and family, it makes it all so much easier. Thank you for surrounding us with love and prayers. We will keep you updated on our newest adventure! (That is, when I can find the time among putting 6 kids to sleep! LOL!)

In Christ, 
Mara

Thursday, January 28, 2016

One Year Ago...


One year ago we met this little boy. 
One year ago, we became a family of four.


One year ago our lives shined a little brighter.
We learned our son had a smile that could light up a room and eyes that twinkled with love. 


One year ago we started a bond and an attachment with a child that will forever be ours. 
We officially became a Forever Family.



One year ago a brotherhood began.
Their ties are strong and become tighter every day.


One year ago...


We often say adoption is not for the weary. We not only had to run a race to bring our child home, but we ran a full marathon, a marathon riddled with twists, turns, and hills. The cheering along the way from our family and friends kept us going, and many prayers to our good Lord above kept us running even when we felt like catching a break. One year ago our lives completely changed and there has been no looking back. BOTH our boys are our world, our joy, our chaos, our fun, our love, our excitement, our laughter, our tears, our hearts, and our prayers. 


Here is to the next year of love and family.

#LoveAdoption
#OlderChildAdoptionRocks
#WeLoveThePhilippines
#ForeverOurs

In Christ~
Mara




Monday, January 18, 2016

Imagination (aka: 2016 is here)

It is a blast listening to our children and their imaginations. The boys are at the perfect age for creating all sorts of stories. Anything from Superheroes to pirates, filled backpacks to boxes of tinkertoys, legos to blankets taped under tables; these boys think of just about everything. Yesterday it hit me as I watched my two in action and I remembered how just about a year ago Caleb would say how bored and lonely he was. Although he had this imaginitave side, Mom and Dad just weren't as much fun to intrigue him with this kind of play.


Not going to sugar-coat it, raising two boys 8 months apart in age has its advandtages and disadvantages. Just as fast as these two can start having fun, they can also become very upset with eachother and have their moments of frustration, but through both happy and frustrated, I can tell that these two are most definetly brothers. It's what I had imagined and prayed for, to hear siblings laugh, bicker, sing, tease, jump, talk, dance, and love together.



I regularly look back at my lesson plans from the year before and it has been interesting looking at them from a year ago this time because the notes go from my handwriting to my substitutes handwriting. A year ago we were starting out on our journey to bring home our son! Could it really have been a year ago that we were frantically painting bedroom walls, packing bags, and buying new tennis shoes for our little one? It hardly seems possible this time could go so fast. Although, looking at the year we have had, it is no wonder time seems to be flying. We have adopted a child, I started a side photography business, we now have two children in school, Jon has been traveling abroad for his work, and we also moved to the country! Woofta, that made me tired just recalling our last year! Although I'm sure many of you could tell we've been busy with my lack of blog writing in the last 6 months.


So now I imagine new things and have started looking at what this new year, 2016, will be like. I imagine a new year where I pray our family can take it a little easier and enjoy the smaller things in life. I'm imagining the boys playing outside and us all starting a garden. I'm excited about upcoming visits with family and friends as well as look forward to quality time, just the four of us. We are also looking forward. What is in store for the Schack household in the next coming years? My guess is probably as good as yours, but I do know we aren't ready to stop adding to this clan. I'm excited and anxious to have more imaginations running wild in this household, but until then, I'll let the boys run me ragged (which they seem to do a pretty good job of most days! ha!).

We have things to work on during this year. Patience. We need a lot of that in this house, and we aren't always very good at giving it. With so much going on in the last year, we have slowly started to become frustrated about smaller things much too fast. We are all learning how to breathe more, think more, and not become frustrated so fast. Both of our boys are at a stage in life where they are learning how deal with their emotions and when they aren't happy with situations. They each handle their frustrations in different ways and we are trying to teach them how to work through their emotions and yet still know it is ok to have these emotions. In the meantime, I need to work on being a better example and not get as flustered when they are talking back or not listening. Tope continues to push many buttons, usually out of play as he finds things to be silly or funny, but slowly he is learning his expectations and that his antics are funny when done at the right time. There are days I'm sure he is still learning how to be a part of a family and live as a child that's a part of a household, and then there are other days that I see he is now so comfortable he wants to test us and see how safe he really is. Test away my boy! Although you may drive us to have gray hairs some days, this Mom and Dad could never stop loving you! Same to Caleb! Woofta he can become ornry. I really pray that he is in a phase and his sefl-sentric period will be over soon - fingers crossed.

But for every frustrating moment in our world, I swear there are a good 10+ amazing positive moments that outway the bad ones. Our boys have so many amazing qualities, senses of humor, energy, and love to share.These are the moments I want to cherish this year and fill our days with.  We have been starting January out right with a lot of time with family and friends, playing outside in the snow, organizing our new house, watching football, eating home-cooked meals, and letting the boys run around without shirts on (in the house) even though it is -33 degree windchill outside! We are letting our imaginations run wild and making memories. We aren't perfect in this household, but we are here. We are a family and so very happy to be one. Can't imagine this life without my two boys or my husband.

Without imagination, what would dreams be made of? I'm happy our imaginations keep going strong, it keeps me excited for what may come next.

Happy Cold day to you all! Was happy to find this extra time to write!
~Mara