2011: Year in Review

The little ones are napping and the rest of my family is busy doing this and that outside on this oddly warmish December day.  My mind is full of thoughts about our 2011.  It was quite an eventful and memorable year…

We picked up our foster baby girl from the burn unit at UNC hospital and began caring for her in our home.

We went camping with our best friends plus our foster baby girl at Hunting Island, SC.

Samirah’s brother joined our family unexpectedly.  We became a family of eight.

In the spring, our kids turned 11, 9, 7 and 5.

Madelyn, Kalen and Julian complete their first full year of school outside of our home.

We got to experience another summer at the pool.

Scott worked two teaching jobs, providing us money throughout the summer.

We gave up gardening for awhile in order to better meet the needs of our growing family.

We took all our kids to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July with my Dad’s side of the family.

The kids started school: Brayden started Kindergarden at Central Park!

Three of our kids played soccer.  Maddie scored more than she ever had, 12 goals (I think).

We got our first family pet in September, our Pomapoo Jasper.

I weathered several months of hardship during our fostering experience and continued to face uncertainties regarding M & S’s permanency plan.

A foxy lady and Olive Oyl took Mario, a Cat, Mad Scientist, Dragon, Tigger and little girl trick-or-treating.

We took our annual October vacation to the beach with three families from SC and VA.  This year we headed to Emerald Isle.

I started really wanting to write more.

Celebrated our foster baby girl’s 2nd birthday.

Scott finished teaching his fall semester at UNC.  Now he can center in on writing and researching for his dissertation and completing his last year at Carolina obtaining his PhD!

Celebrated 13 years of marriage.

Enjoyed a Christmas season we won’t soon forget with our two foster kids.

A lot of growth has come out of this year, including a lot of stories I could tell about hardship, growth, mishaps, milestones, fun and family.  When I step back and think of it all, I don’t have any regrets.  I look upon our year with gratitude, lessons learned and a smile.  I am quite thankful.

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This Little Light of Mine

This Little Light of Mine is a song that I used to sing as a child at my church.  I have always loved it and have enjoyed singing it with our kids throughout the years.  It has been fun to teach it to our foster children and watch them raise their little pointer fingers as they sing along.

Our family went to a candlelight service at our church on Christmas Eve.  The picture above captures a sweet moment when the entire congregation was holding their lit candles.  I enjoyed watching our children hold their candles.  Staring at the reflecting light on their faces made me think of the song This Little Light of Mine.

It can be difficult to be a light throughout daily tasks, moods, and disturbances.  Sometimes as a wife and mama to six kids and a dog I feel completely burned out.  Just now, I sit here with a tooth problem that won’t soon be fixed, and when it is it won’t be cheap.  It is definitely clouding my world, causing my patience to be low and consuming my every other thought.  And yet, when I think of that moment when our precious children sat in that pew on Saturday night and allowed their candles to shine brightly in our dark sanctuary, I feel a nudge to pick my chin up and at least try to smile.

When our foster baby girl sings This Little Light of Mine with me, she puts her finger in the air and closes her eyes and puts her chin up as she smiles wildly.  I can’t help but giggle, grin and be filled with joy.

There will always be people and tragedies in our lives that will dim our lights.  When my light is not shining very brightly, I think about our foster daughter.  Despite the early childhood trauma she has experienced, she still shines so brightly.

December Birthday Girls

There are two very important people in our lives that have birthdays this month; our foster baby girl and Scott’s mom, Jan.  We celebrated both birthdays this past weekend.

Our little girl just had her 2nd birthday!  We celebrate this little brave girl’s last year of recovery.  She is a light that never ceases to shine.  It is an amazing thing to share a foster child’s birthday with them.  I teared up many times within the last week.  Since last February we have seen this little girl go from a burn victim that could not walk, to a funny little vibrant character that is a walking/talking active member of our family.  Yes, she is still needy.  She and her brother both are full of challenges.  However, we see potential and growth.  We see that the love and attention we have given her and she deserves has helped her to bloom.

Here are some pictures from her last year with us (still can’t show her sweet little face).

She turned 2!

We took her to Build A Bear to get her very own stuffed animal.  Here are Julian and Brayden holding her hands as she is unsure about the whole process.

She loved it!  She is now the proud owner of Happy Joy, a beautiful stuffed bunny.

Delicious vegan cupcakes to celebrate our birthday girls

There was more celebrating to do.  We also celebrated Jan’s birthday with our family.  The picture below shows our family gathering to look at a photo album we put together for Jan.  We had such a nice time.

Twists

This past weekend, we had a friend of a friend come over and put twists in our baby girl’s hair.  This gal was so sweet and helpful.  She answered many of my questions and gave me some great tips in caring for hair so unlike my own.  I thought I would share some pictures.