A million dreams. Health gain. 20 pounds lost. Foster care for real. This year versus last.

#2017 best nine,
The Greatest Showman,
snow,
school break,
sickness,
books read in 2017,
my health and wellness journey,
coffee and tea. 

Just a few of the little thoughts fighting for my attention and half of the reason I haven't dared stepped foot onto the blog at all.  Each time I've thought about writing too many things have rushed towards me at once wanting written about, much like when my 28 students used to all crowd around me, speaking fast and all at the same time. We've also been dealing with "the crud" as I've started calling the sickness going around. I think we're all finally well, but boy has it taken a while! For almost a month straight someone in our home was sick.  With five people to pass germs between it takes a while for it all to dissolve.  I even took a trip to the dr. to get a shot and antibiotic. (gasp!) I'm very anti-meds and very much into natural remedies usually but this year my body wouldn't have it.  A pesky, recurring fever and body aches told me to go and I'm glad I listened. We are on the up and up now! 

 The kids have been on school break and it has been such a fun holiday having all THREE of them home!  My girls have had a few "big girl" activities and adventures, like designing their graham cracker gingerbread houses and sledding and a date with their daddy.  Don't you worry though, little dude was right up close to the action the whole time!  He very much enjoyed sampling the candy for the houses and squealed in delight as the girls sledded down the hill with our tiny bit of snow. 

 In Arkansas, this is a big snow y'all.  At least for now! We haven't had a real good snow since Betsy was a baby and that was years ago!  We'll take what we can get and this was just enough for the kids to play in and go crazy with delight.  The girls made snowballs and sledded and my boy enjoyed eating the snow as well as romping through it as best as he could.  Such fun experiencing snow with kids! I am crossing my fingers and toes we get more before spring.  Lorelai Gilmore fills my thoughts when the fluffy, white snow starts to trickle down.  

Where are my Girlmore Girls fans at?  




 One of the biggest treats besides having everyone home over the break was not being so tied to my schedule.  With three kids in three different schools my day-to-day is typically very, very disciplined and scheduled.  Christmas break came with a bit of relief from watching the clock quite so much and I was able to fill my soul up a little with things like sneaking outside in the early morning to capture the snowfall.

 (do you see the heart?)






Of course if I led you to believe the whole entire break was full of movie-worthy moments, kind words, Hallmark memories, a perfect home and family, I'd be lying!  SO not the case.  We had many of those moments-yes.  But it is always an adjustment to go from having all of us home a few hours a day to having all of us home ALL day long. Together.  And sick a good part of the time.  Does any other family know what I mean or are we the only ones who have to work through all the togetherness sometimes?  

One tiny routine we did was have daily quiet time.  Betsy usually fell asleep on our bed, Anna would play upstairs in her room, and little man would take a nap.  Typically I would try to exercise during this rare, quiet moment but instead I rested by the fire several days in a row.  While I'm convinced it helped me heal faster from this sinus stuff, it also left my body in a sad shape when it came back to exercising! But The Greatest Showman soundtrack has been cheering me right back on to the treadmill and into my lunges. 

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MOVIE?! I casually mentioned I wanted to see it and the other night Brett suggested I go.  Off I went to the movies solo, a first for me. I am 34-years old and have never been to the movies alone! I quite enjoyed it.  But you all, this movie *almost* leaves me speechless.  One of the best movies I have ever seen in my life, and to top it off, it's a musical.  My dearest people know nothing gets me as excited as a musical.  I walked out of the movie theater in the most wonderful daze and promptly purchased the soundtrack on my phone while sitting in my car.  I haven't stopped listening since and I even confessed to Brett I wanted to go see it a second time with my twin. I have never, ever been to the theater twice to see the same movie.  Apparently 2018 is full of all kinds of new things!

 ...like this cat.  We got a new cat right before Christmas.  Her name is Kitty, which her bedazzled heart medallion proudly displays for all to see.  She's tough, a bit crazy, and a perfect farm cat.  Oh, and loves the kids! She even got herself stuck up HIGH in the tree one night and Brett had to climb the big ladder to get her down.  Did I mention how she clawed her way through the kitty take-out box they put her in and escaped in my car, running loose while I was driving with all THREE kids?! 

That was fun. 
 Brett celebrated a birthday and we feasted on biscuits and gravy! 
 Betsy and I made homemade marshmallows and our lives were forever changed. Homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows foreverrrrrr. 

To make our hot chocolate I do this: 
Put a bit of honey and unsweetened cocoa powder in a small pot on the stove, on medium heat. I stir for a few seconds until the two start to mix and bubble, then add unsweetened almond milk and a bit of vanilla.  I turn the heat up a bit and stir away until everything is nicely combined and the pot is steaming.  That's it! I don't ever measure the ingredients, I simply add more if I'm making enough cups for the girls and I or less if it's just a single cup for me.  

You can google homemade marshmallows and find plenty of healthier for you recipes than the store-bought ones.  They are delicious too! Way, way better than store-bought.  The homemade ones are essentially made from honey, water, arrowroot, and beef gelatin.  If you're turning your nose up at the thought I say don't knock it 'till you've tried it! 


 We had a wonderful Christmas! Again, my mama heart is missing being able to show the delight on my boy's face but it was there in radiant beams! The girls were delighted by Legos, full stockings, and a little surprise. 

 They each got an Amazon fire tablet and were VERY surprised.  We are loving them! Very kid-friendly and easy to use.  
We feel the most blessed to have such a large family to celebrate Christmas with.  We enjoyed time at my parent's house, Brett's mom's, our house, and have one last Christmas at my grandparents coming up.  Maybe this is showing my age by confessing this, but really the people not the presents are truly my most favorite part of the season.
 Now that the festivities, decorations and Christmas music have quieted down for another year my mind has had time to sift through the photographs and memories from the last year.  A step I find crucial before looking ahead. 

This year has been epic.  I don't use that word lightly either. It just simply has.  
Let me paint a scenario for you: Last year I was in poor shape physically and mentally, having been told I needed surgery to correct endometriosis.  Surgery that would also hand me a whole host of side effects like depression and other demons I was already fighting, pre-surgery. 

Last year we had just decided to close the door with our adoption agency and step into the foster care world instead.  We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, even though we thought we did. We still don't entirely, as the future isn't clear one bit.  But our love for our foster son is clear as day.

Last year I was dreading Anna starting kindergarten so much it would rack my body with anxiety and worry.  

 Now, this year. 

This year there is no comparison to my physical and mental well-being from last year to this one.  No comparison at all.  I am truly a changed person, both inside and out.  As my chiropractor puts it, the past year has been a "health gain", instead of focusing on a weight loss. Through visits to the chiropractor, essential oils, exercise, much prayer, daily, small decisions to choose wellness, and a major overhaul to my diet, I am feeling amazing.  My moods are level and rosier than ever before. (usually that is, I'm still human, lol!) My anxiety is gone. My depression is gone.  My endometriosis symptoms are MUCH better and much more manageable. 

The icing on the cake?
I've lost 20 pounds and am still on a journey to help my body become as strong as it can. 

Before! 


After :)




 This year we are all in with foster care.  We are on our fourth placement, and this one is a long-term placement.  We've had our little guy almost 3 months already! The first few weeks were unspeakably hard for him and us all.  It's another story for another time, too personal to share.  I'll just say I'm so, so, SO glad we stuck with our calling and that we get to love on this precious boy for now.  This process leaves me speechless and yet wanting to write a book, all at the same time.  I will say this: Loving people who are willing to do the hard work of foster care are needed.  Period.  And WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.  I am starting to cringe when I hear "I could never love them and give them back".  In fact, I'm not smiling and moving the conversation along politely any more when people say this to me.  (and yes, they say it, along with a host of other things)  This was my latest response to someone when they casually mentioned this is why they hadn't ever done foster care: By saying this you are essentially looking at a  child with no home, no parents currently, food and clothes needed and saying "I'm sorry, but this is going to hurt ME too bad to let you go so I can't help you." 

Ouch. 
Am I joining the bandwagon of unapologetic people who speak the truth without mincing words? 
Absolutely. There is too much need and I've seen too much to rosy this topic up.  I simply won't do it.  If me, a highly-sensitive, INFJ personality can hang with the system and help, so can you. If you've felt called to help, I compel you to search that out in 2018.  And it doesn't have to mean becoming full-time foster parents! We have been SO blessed by so many people in different capacities.  From delivering food to a foster family, loving on the whole family (including the bios!) with gift cards, watching kids so parents can have a date night, donating clothes, buying Christmas presents, sending an encouraging text, email, or card, volunteering at foster care meetings, there are literally so many ways you can help. It truly takes a village! 

My family who watches my kids while we go to court? 
Just as much a part of this process as us. 

My neighbor who brought me food the first few weeks? 
A part of this beautiful story. 

The friend who texts me encouragement? 
A part.
 As for dreading Anna starting kindergarten, well, she LOVES school! We all do! We just adore her teacher, school, and the whole shebang.  Now don't get me wrong, I still LOVE having her at home with me and already have my eye on the prize-summer! I will undoubtedly cry when Betsy goes to kindergarten next year.  I'm already tearing up at the thought! 
But really all my worry and fear were for nothing.  
Looking ahead to 2018, my word is "nourish". 
I'll share more soon, but for now the word needs to stay tucked a bit longer in my brain. 

I'm also excited to share what books I read in 2017 and see what else you'd like to read about on the blog.  Any ideas or thoughts? Have you picked a word for next year? 

Lean in close and share. I'll be waiting with a hot cup of tea. 


Comments

  1. What a lovely post and wrap up of the year. Thanks.

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  2. I love this post. I get the response thing. Kind of how I felt after hearing "Oh, I could never homeschool" about 5000 times over the years. After a while, you kind of just want to say what you're really thinking and let it sink in a while.

    I'm just curious - can you show even a shot of your boy's hands, back of the head, anything? I would love to see some beautiful pictures of him in the creative way that you can do. Hope you have a great 2018 Sara.

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