Happy Halloween!


We are *just about* to age out of this stage, and that makes me a tad sad. But as long as we have school plays we have the need for mandatory costumes and if we have costumes anyway… So here we have:

Chloe, dressed as the elf in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Incidentally, she is also a unicorn and a woodland something or other. I only had to deal with the elf and unicorn costumes.

Millie, dressed as a bunny, also made for her participation in the school Narnia Festival earlier this year.

Maddie, dressed as the White Witch for the upcoming play

Katie, dressed as a mime. She has no particular reason for this other than that I felt sorry for her that she’s cobbled together costumes for the past couple of years from our dress up stash and really wanted to be something different this year. The beret cost a whopping $5 from Walmart and the face paint was cheap as well. Presto. Costume.

A5 and R4 were not with us tonight and Baby T slept through all the festivities.

So that’s a wrap on Halloween 2013. Hope yours was a happy one.


Knee Surgery

Maddie’s fall down the stairs at school earlier this year came full circle today when she finally went in for surgery to have it removed. That little piece that broke off when she fell has been causing quite a bit of pain for about the past 6 weeks or so. The procedure today was pretty routine and they even wheeled her back to begin about 30 minutes earlier than they intended to, so she was done earlier and home a little earlier than we’d planned as well.

After the surgery the doctor said the piece was actually a little bigger than he’d thought. It was about the length of an almond, though a little skinnier than an almond. And he said it looked like she really did fracture her knee cap back in January as well, though that part had healed up. There was no scar tissue in there (good) but he could see why the piece had been causing so much pain. Glad that’s out of there now.

She’s still in quite a bit of pain, but this time it’s from the surgery site. We’re hoping that in another couple of weeks this will all just be a thing in her past.

And now, just for fun, today’s schedule:

  • 6am: Wake, get ready
  • 6:30: Leave the house with Maddie and Chloe
  • 7:00: Arrive at surgery center
  • ¬†(Meanwhile, Craig gets A5, R4, and Baby T ready for the day with the help of Millie. He drops Millie off at a friend’s house to do school work for the day, then he takes A5 to school, then Baby T to his daycare, and meets a friend who takes R4 for the day. Katie spent the night with a friend last night, so she’s not a factor in the morning shuttle)
  • 8:00: Head back to the surgery prep center. Watch Maddie get the IV put in her arm and Chloe called a chicken by the nurse because she almost passed out during this process. Discover I apparently have a sensitivity to close range florescent lighting as I’m having trouble seeing for about 30 minutes (flashes and spots in my peripheral vision – serious bummer)
  • 8:30: Shed a handful of tears as I watch them take Maddie back to the surgery area. Yes, I know it’s routine. But nothing will ever be routine to me about having one of my kids undergo surgery. That’s just the way it is.
  • 9:15: Surgery complete, chat with doctor
  • 9:45: Go back to be with Maddie while she comes out of it. She’s actually fairly coherent and super chatty.
  • 10:30: Head home, get Maddie settled on the couch, give Chloe babysitting instructions for Maddie, go drop prescriptions off at Walmart, find out Walmart can only fill two of the three and make mistake of leaving those two at Walmart anyway. Still have to figure out what to do with the third. Go to our school’s north campus to switch the Volvo out for the Odyssey because I’m in charge of kid pick up in the afternoon.
  • 11:15: Check on Maddie, pick up Chloe, drive her to school for the afternoon
  • 12:30: Go back to Walmart to pick up prescriptions. Find out they still haven’t filled one of them. That ends up being a story too long and too stupid to waste the time writing about. Wait for prescriptions. Still haven’t had time to drop the third one off anywhere
  • 1:15: Go home, check on Maddie, give her her pain meds, leave again to drop third prescription off and pick up some lunch for Maddie
  • 1:45: Go home, check on Maddie; collapse in a chair for 15 minutes
  • 2:00: Leave to pick up Baby T and R4. Maddie begs to come with me and I make the mistake of letting her.
  • 2:30: We pick up the two younger boys then turn around and come back north to pick up A5
  • 3:00: Arrive at school, wait in car for 10 minutes, go inside to pick up A5 (Maddie waited with the boys in the van)
  • 3:20: Home. Get Maddie situated on the couch again, take boys and go pick up the third prescription
  • 4:00: Home. Pull out leftovers from fridge, maintain the circus of small children and wait for Katie and Millie to arrive.
  • 5:30: Leave the house with Katie, Millie, A5, R4, and Baby T. Maddie stays home
  • 5:50: Drop girls off at choir, slap hands with Craig and call, “TAG” while handing him the baby, and then take the other two boys to a Halloween Party for foster kids.
  • 6:00: Party with two little boys like we never have before
  • 7:30: Pick up girls from choir
  • 8:00: Get home, convince boys they need a bath, draw sympathy from Craig who takes the boys and gives them a bath
  • 8:30: Read to boys, then hand them over to Craig who sits with them while they fall asleep
  • 8:45: Sit on the couch for a moment and discover Millie isn’t quite done with her school work. Help Millie finish up her school work.
  • 9:00: Comment about how nonstop the day has been and then find myself being hoisted over Craig’s shoulders as he carried me toward the stairs (where I then made him put me down…). Collapse in bed, watch an episode of Breaking Bad with Craig and call it a day.

Edited to add:

  • 1:30am: Awake to Baby T babbling LOUDLY from his crib. Not crying, but definitely awake. Think, “He’s not waking the boys, so let’s let him babble himself back to sleep.”
  • 2:30am: Still awake because Baby T is STILL BABBLING LOUDLY from his crib. Haul myself out of bed to make him a bottle. He goes to sleep, but now I’m awake.
  • 3:00am: Zzzzzzzz


Daddy’s Home

What we have here happens to be two little boys who were OVER THE MOON excited when a certain someone walked in the door tonight. Though they’ve only been here since 10am yesterday morning, he was the primary person of interest for them and they asked repeatedly when he was coming back. Craig’s been out of town since Tuesday and we kept trying to explain he was out of town, but coming back tomorrow and they just couldn’t grasp it. At bedtime last night A5 was super mad at me because, in his words, “You promised Dad would be home tonight!” Well, obviously I never promised that since I knew he wouldn’t be back until the next night, but I was glad they were so wanting to see Craig again. And believe me, by 10:30 last night, I was wanting to see Craig again too…

So when Craig walked in the door at 5:45 tonight, they bolted for him yelling, “DADDY’S HOME!!”

And that made all of yesterday worth it.

The Boys are Back

It’s official: I signed papers today agreeing to care for A5 and R4 once more. We are now officially Dunham, party of 9, only Craig is still out of town until tomorrow. Today was a comedy of scheduling errors which culminated in a need to take both boys to an urgent care clinic after hours (which means ER) because of two issues I needed to get documented as having occurred before they came into our care.

I’m glad the boys are back. I’m also glad everyone is finally asleep. This has been one heck of a day.

Saturday Silhouette

I’ve been doing some legal work for my parents this week that requires I check my emotions at the door in order to engage with what I need to do here. This has happened more than I like to admit over the past 15 months and I’ve found that when I check my emotions at the door for one thing I check them at the door for everything. And then I can’t feel anything at all. I don’t like not feeling anything at all, but sometimes it beats feeling everything all at once.

Because once I start feeling I can’t stop and it’s ugly. It usually gets triggered by something unexpected. Yesterday it was triggered by this song by Owl City, so I thought I’d post this today and sign off.

Silhouette by Owl City

I’m tired of waking up in tears
Cause I can’t put to bed these phobias and fears
I’m new to this grief, I can’t explain
But I’m no stranger to, the heartache and the pain
The fire I began is burning me alive
But I know better than to leave and let it die
I’m a silhouette, asking every now and then
Is it over yet? Will I ever feel again?
I’m a silhouette, chasing rainbows on my own
But the more I try to move on, the more I feel alone
So I watch the summer stars to lead me home
I’m sick of the past I can’t erase
A jumble of footprints, and hasty steps I can’t retrace
The mountain of things I still regret
Is a vile reminder that I would rather just forget (No matter where I go)
The fire I began is burning me alive
But I know better than to leave and let it die
I’m a silhouette, asking every now and then (Now and then)
Is it over yet? Will I ever smile again?
I’m a silhouette, chasing rainbows on my own
But the more I try to move on, the more I feel alone
So I watch the summer stars to lead me home
Cause I walk alone (No matter where I go)
Cause I walk alone (No matter where I go)
Cause I walk alone (No matter where I go)
I’m a silhouette, asking every now and then (Now and then)
Is it over yet? Will I ever love again? (Love again)
I’m a silhouette, chasing rainbows on my own
But the more I try to move on, the more I feel alone
So I watch the summer stars to lead me home
I watch the summer stars to lead me home

C.S. Lewis on a Pumpkin


So there is a pumpkin decorating contest on Saturday and I turned my kids loose with their own pumpkins. And I did this one. And before I get flogged for destroying a book…a C.S. Lewis book no less, let me just say it was a second copy and it was pretty beat up. Also, I have a habit of rescuing really good books from thrift stores when I see them.

I really do wish I’d used a fake pumpkin, though. I didn’t think about that until I was already half-way done with this one. Ah, well, next time… *grin*

My Kitchen, My Nemesis

I have decided that this kitchen right here is a direct result of the fall of man. This black and white tile floor, while a good idea in the 1950’s is an absolute beast in the 2013’s. Seriously: if I wanted to bother keeping it clean all the time I would have to mop multiple times a DAY. I spent two hours in here today scrubbing all surfaces (white paint on kitchen cabinets…boo!), the baseboards, and the edges of this floor with two Mr. Clean Erasers. I then mopped it. And it stayed clean as long as nobody dared to walk in there and trust me, nobody dared to walk in there for at least one hour. But if you walk in there right now you would never know what went down in there earlier today. It’s just that tricky of a household villain.

Craig is fond of reminding me how much I loved the floor when we were looking at this house in 2011 and he’s right – from our one walk-through the house I saw it and loved it. It wasn’t until we moved in and I mopped it for the first time…and the second…and the third before I realized what we’d moved into.

But if I need a shot of perspective I can find one. Every day I drive through a depressed neighborhood. Just today I saw a man carrying a child and they were wrapped up in a red fleece blanket with teddy bears on it. He was headed in the direction of the elementary school and preschool but they were still pretty far from it and I had no idea where they’d started. No idea where they live or if they chose to make that journey by foot. My instinct tells me it wasn’t a choice and they would probably be happy if dealing with a hard-to-keep-clean kitchen floor was at the top of their list of daily annoyances.

So there. Now I’m not as frustrated with my lot in life. Though if anyone knows of a magical way to keep a black and white tile floor cleaner longer I’m listening. And the answer can’t be to get rid of any of the living beings that inhabit this house…

Broken, Hopeful Hearts

Back in June¬† A4 and R3 left to go to their “long-term” home. As that long-term home was deemed to no longer be suitable, the boys were supposed to be coming back to us this week. We’ve known this for about two weeks. We’ve prepared in a multitude of ways, including physical space, educational planning, and reopened hearts. I asked directly at least three times, “Are the boys for sure coming on Wednesday?” I was told yes each time. Wednesday came. No boys. “Oh, they ended up going to school today, so we’ll move them tomorrow.” Okay. Just tell me what time. Thursday came. No call. I pushed. I was ignored. I kept pushing. I kept being ignored. I finally pushed hard enough I got a call from a supervisor at DHS. The case got messy and more complicated. They aren’t sure now if the boys will be coming back to us or not. Oh, and they were sorry.

At the end of the call the bottom line was that the family member who has them wants to keep them. And we say that’s a good thing. We hope. Except the reason they decided to close the home in the first place likely will happen again, so what then? We were told that we would know by 5pm today if the boys were coming or not. At 3:30 I got the call just as I was pulling into the parking lot for Chloe’s last cross country meet in Shawnee today. I was on the phone listening to another explanation of why they still didn’t know what they were doing when the parking lot guy from OBU who was apparently trying to both teach me a lesson and tease me a little, decided to take that moment to lecture me about being on my phone while driving. He grinned as he punched me in the arm. Somewhere in the middle of that I thought I told the case worker I’d call her right back and I dropped the phone in my lap, stuck my head out the window at the retreating Mr. Smarty Pants and called out, “I was on the phone with my DHS Case Worker!” I then started crying as I proceeded to pull into the parking lot. Two minutes later I realized the case worker was still on the phone. I just hung up then and texted her back because, y’all, I was spent and sad and angry and embarrassed. We now won’t know one way or the other until “sometime next week.”

And here it is, several hours later on Thursday night and I’m left wondering why God would have us prepare to the extent that we did for something that is likely not going to happen. I knew loving these boys would be a risk. I stated in public just last week that anyone who loves these boys takes that risk because their entire future is staring straight ahead into the great big unknown. I knew that. I just didn’t know the heartache would happen before they even walked through our door.

So right now we have a bedroom set up, with boyish quilts and their names wikki-sticked to the walls (courtesy of my girls), with size 4 boy clothes in the closet on the left, and size 5 boy clothes in the closet on the right. We have two girls who have completely rearranged their household lives to move in together for this very reason. And we have hearts that grew two sizes over the past two weeks and are now aching from the stretch marks of disappointment left behind because our boys are not with us right now. And might not be coming back at all.

And all I can do right now is think, “Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me… let me be singing when the evening comes.”

Lord God, I want reasons and rationale. I want to know why you’d ask us to prepare like this and then not have it happen. I want to know you aren’t surprised by the broken system we’re in the midst of navigating in and that you care about these boys…even more than we do. I want to know the home they end up in is the one that will bring them up in a way that brings honor to you and restoration to their sad, sad stories. I want, I want, I want…what you want. Please shelter and protect and love on those boys and allow them to grow up knowing and loving you all the days of their lives no matter where they end up living. Please, God. Amen.

October 6: Happy Birthday Millie!


After a tiny family birthday celebration at home, Millie and I headed south. We checked into Great Wolf Lodge and have been having a super great time. She wanted to get the ear piercing out of the way, so we took a swimming break and went to the mall for a bit. Then back to the lodge for more swimming. Then dinner. Then more swimming.

The meaningful and the fun are both happening. The rest? Not so much. But that’s okay. She’s having a blast and that’s what matters.