On Hurt and the Pain of Risking our Hearts for Kids in the System

Two days ago we dropped off our two little guys, A2 and J1, at the educational care center we’ve been taking them to for the past 9 months and, with tears, we said good-bye, knowing we would likely never see them again.

Craig wrote about this here here in his post, The Comfort of Sovereignty. Shortly after leaving the care center, we received a text from Ben Nockles, of the 111 Project, and he asked us if we would share about this final chapter of our Oklahoma foster care story at the Foster Care Forum the next day. Here’s my portion of what we shared:

Three years ago I hosted a Compassion table at our then-fledgling church. Compassion is an organization I care deeply about and we’ve sponsored children through that program for over a decade. That Sunday, not one single person stopped by my table or picked up a packet. Not one. And, as a good Christian often does, I became self-righteously angry. I’m talking ANGRY. So angry that when our pastor, Doug, announced he was going to the 8308 conference later that week (what was then the Foster Care Forum) and that he hoped members of the church would also attend, I went out of spite, knowing that nobody else at our church would probably go.

That’s a great motive for going to something that is designed to soften your heart towards the cause of kids in crisis, right? Well, there it was. I went and God opened my heart up in a way I never expected. He opened up the hearts of my entire family in a way we never expected. And nine months later we welcomed a new child in our home. And over the course of the next 2.5 years we welcomed 13 more. Some we had for a very short time, some we had much longer. One set came to us twice. We loved and we lost and we loved again. And we lost again. That’s how this gig works. You can’t lose what you don’t love  and if you aren’t willing to love big and risk big then maybe you should think about a different cause to get behind. Foster care requires everything you have because it takes all of the good intentions of every program ever designed to help and it deposits them in your front door, at your kitchen table, in your spare bedroom and you have to do more than just know it’s what you should do…you actually have to do it.

That first year I wrote a lot about our experiences on my blog and I attended the Foster Care Forum again, this time to stand up here and give an account of our first few months. Last year Craig did the same.

Yesterday we said good-bye to the 2yo and 1yo we have cared for for the past 9 months and it was a fresh heartbreak for us because like so many of our plans that don’t go in the path we intended, it was never our desire to hand them over to another foster family and yet…that’s exactly what we had to do.

Shortly after we said our good-byes to two little boys who did not understand why we were crying, nor that we would not be back to pick them up, nor that we would likely never see them again, Ben asked us if we would share some final thoughts here today.

We said we would and the first thought that popped to mind came from Galatians 6:9 which says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

And that’s the thing: It’s so easy to get discouraged in this work, in spite of the worthiness of it, for it is work. And after 2.5 years of it combined with other real life heartbreaks like losing my mom last year to ALS and Craig losing his job earlier this year, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to become discouraged.

Discouragement comes when you give a child back to a broken system, or parents that are only JUST able to function well enough to keep their kids out of the system, or to new foster parents, you lose touch altogether. We have no idea what has become of the majority of the kids we’ve had and we likely never will.

And yet…we are told to press on, to not give up. The harvest will come, we just may not get to be the ones to see it happen.

If we’ve been asked once we’ve been asked a hundred times if we plan to step back into foster care when we move to Montana and for the longest time I’ve said I just don’t know. I gave away everything we have collected over the past 2.5 years (and when you need to be prepared for ages 0-5, boys and girls, all seasons it amounts to a LOT of stuff). The only things remaining right now are the small shirts and socks that are still working their way through the laundry cycle here and we still have our original baby crib left. Three months ago we were planning to hand that off too. Now it has reserved seating on our moving truck.

We don’t know what the next piece of the story looks like for us – could be respite care, could be fostering again, or could be in a support role, for we know how desperately those things are needed. Regardless of how it plays out there, one thing is for certain – we will not look back at our time here as a wasted one. We will hang our little green hand prints of all 14 kids on a new wall in a new state and we will pray – for those we’ve had as well as the thousands of other kids who are living that story. And we will pray for you, that you will step in and be a voice for the voiceless; a parent for the parentless, and that you would not grow weary in the work, for in due season we will all reap…if we do not give up.

Special thanks to Ben Nockels and the 111Project for this going-away gift you see up above (the HURT letters) acknowledging our foster care efforts in Oklahoma. Ben honed in on our family’s mantra that, “If it doesn’t hurt when we give kids back, we’re not doing it right,” and the large “R” represents our goal to redeem hurt in the lives of kids. This is easily the most “hipster” decorative piece we own, and we’re excited to hang it with the 14 framed handprints/footprints we’ll hang somewhere on a wall in Bozeman. Humbled.

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Fostering Expectations

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I don’t begrudge their mother their title. She is their mother. She should be called Mom. But they live with us and they hear our girls call me Mom and so I also get called Mommy. Craig gets called Daddy. And slowly, over time, the names start to lose their true meaning. The names have less to do with the people who will love them unconditionally and care for them for the whole of their lives and more about the people who are taking care of their basic immediate needs at this moment in time and likely will change a few times. Titles transfer. Attachments weaken.

When we began this foster care journey and had children in our home for 2 weeks or 10 days or 1 month, we loved and we lost, but we always knew it was coming and that knowledge built in a guard that made the leaving just a teensy bit easier than one would otherwise imagine it could have been.

But your heart can only do that so many times before it either grows too soft or too hard. And as hard as I tried to hold off, I gave in and I parented. I didn’t simply take care of them; I parented them. And I got burned and never wanted to do that again.

But then August came and we got two babies. And I’m not going to lie – they are sweet babies, but the sentinel keeping watch over my heart is very committed to the process of my protection. I’ve been caring for these boys, but not really parenting.

To parent is to risk. And it’s a risk I’ve not been willing to take with these little ones. Not yet. And here I stand, on the cusp between too soft and too hard and I’m feeling myself making a choice, one I am reluctant to make, but love calls for it. I must parent until their parents are better able to. I must provide love in addition to theirs. We must move forward in this hard life in a way that others do not, cannot, and will not understand.

As author and musician Michael Card says, “Jesus doesn’t accept volunteers; he calls disciples. Following is a command, not an invitation.”

And so we follow, even though we know what it eventually means for us. Again.

 

 

Stepping Back into a Scary Place

WritingSometimes sadness gives way to success, if you want to call it that. I can think of several gals who, after experiencing or currently experiencing really super hard things, started writing about it and became internet-famous. I remember praying once that I would be okay with a lifetime of mediocre blogging if it meant I didn’t have to experience the things those gals have had to. Because I’m super deep like that.

As it turns out, I have nothing to worry about. For me, sadness simply gives way. It dries me up. It takes me to a dark, lonely place where, even if there are people out there who understand and maybe want to walk me through it, I simply do not want to go there and thus I don’t.

I just looked back at my blog. The last post was April 8 and the post before that January 28. Prior to this year, it could be said I spent too much time on my blog. And now: nothing.

January ushered in a six-week period of hell in my heart. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is just such a terrible thing and no words can adequately describe how it feels to watch someone you love experience the devastation of that. When my mom died in February, I knew it was coming, so I felt like I should have been a little more prepared. People lose their parents every day, right? But I don’t. I hadn’t. And then suddenly I did and in truth, I wasn’t ready for it and I’m still angry about it. And it’s been almost six months. So six months shouldn’t still be preventing someone from writing about it, talking about it, crying about it, right? But there is a place deep inside me that feels like I used up all of my grief capital with people ages ago and I should really move on now.

Likewise, our foster care story turned the page into a really sad chapter in February as well. And as it happened during the same month of caring for my mom during her last days, we just closed the foster care book for a while. For almost six months.

Next week we open it back up again and add two babies to the chaos of our lives and I must say, it doesn’t feel nearly as romantic as it did the first time we welcomed a new child into our home for a short stay. Our experiences with the system have tainted me, frightened me, and made me second-guess our involvement altogether.

And yet, here we go. Life is just incessant in its constant ready-or-not-here-I-come railroading of my existence.

But then, what would it be if we just stayed in the same place forever?

I imagine…it would be death.

 

A dark and broken place

There’s a McDonalds I come to on Tuesday nights. I spend $1.08 and get a drink, sometimes tea, sometimes Coke. Sometimes I just get water. Once I ordered nothing at all. I sit here for 75 minutes while the girls are nearby attending choir. There is free wifi here and lots of fodder for the people are broken file. Last week I watched four teenagers eat burgers while two of them pawed each other the entire time and I wondered if they had parents or if their parents cared or if I would one day be foster parenting their not-yet-baby. Tonight there is a couple nearby. She’s crying. He’s yelling. Their toddler baby is wandering close by and their kindergarten age boy is climbing on the play place. I hear DUI and I hear you don’t care and I hear pain. A lot of pain.

On Sunday night Maddie and I stopped at another McDonalds on the turnpike. The options between Oklahoma City and Tulsa are pretty limited when you need gasoline and are hungry. We went in and as we were finishing up we saw a 40-something cowboy come in with a 10-something boy. The man hugged the boy. He hugged him again and again. And the boy was crying. And the boy walked across the restaurant towards the other door where his mother was waiting for him. And he held out his hand to his dad and waved one more time. And the dad held back tears and waved back and then turned around and walked out the door he came in.

And I broke down in tears right there in the McDonalds. Much like I’m about to do right now. Because there is so much that is dark and broken in this world I can hardly breathe.

I went to Owasso this weekend to file some will and trust parents at the county courthouse for my parents. It was the final step in what turned into six month process of me trying to help them get their legal lives in order. I mediated some tension between my dad and the hospice nurse who came out for the first time. Having hospice step into the story was not an easy move for my parents. It is a necessary one, but necessary does not equal easy.  And I watched my mom. And it was hard.

And I’ve been so quiet about the boys lately because they have grown right into my heart and their story is my story and when their story takes a turn next month it’s going to rip a hole right through me.

And there is so much that is dark and broken in this world I can barely breathe.

I can’t pray. I can’t talk. I can’t think. I can only cry.

And I have to hope that God hears my tears and translates them into the prayer I mean them to be.

Because there is just so much that is dark and broken in this world I can hardly breathe.

Family and Foster Care

We took the boys with us to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. They’ve been there before. We spent Easter there too. The boys tend to follow the lead of the girls in figuring out what to call various members of our family, so since they call us Mom and Dad, the boys call us Mom and Dad. They call my parents Nana and Papa, so the boys call them Nana and Papa. Lady Belle belongs to our family, so Lady Belle belongs to them. That’s just the way it is.

When the boys were with us in the spring, it was just the six of us. They saw pictures of the baby we’d had before them, but that’s a little too abstract for 3 and 4-year-old boys, so they didn’t understand. Then they came for a visit in August and it was the normal six of us plus one extra baby. Then they came back in October and it was still the six of us, only this time we also had a 13-month-old. They never asked why or what or how, but just accepted it as the weird way things seem to go sometimes. So I thought they understood that we care for other kids sometimes and they are in that group of other kids we care for. I thought they understood that the six of us live here all the time.

So it shocked the snot out of me today on our way home from Owasso when I heard A5 ask one of the girls, “So who is your mom?” She pointed to me and said, “She’s my mom!” He probed further, “I mean, who is your first mom? Is she your first Mommy?” Again she answered, “Yes! She’s my only mom. And she’s the only mom for all of us girls.” He said, “Really? Did you grow in her tummy?” She told him she did. He got quiet as he processed that.

And we all got quiet for a moment as we processed that. Because it never once occurred to me that he would think the girls are in the same situation he’s in, yet now that I think about it it makes complete sense.

And it makes me sad again. Because what he so desperately needs is a permanent, stable home, where he can love with confidence and live with security that the people he calls Mom and Dad will be Mom and Dad to him; today, next week, next year, and forever.

And I often wonder if he will ever get to experience that. We do our best to make the boys part of our family and treat them like part of our family and love them like family. Yet at the end of the day, they legally belong to the state of Oklahoma. And the state of Oklahoma can come in at any time and move them somewhere else and we have no say in that.

And I think that’s a tragedy. Because family doesn’t treat each other that way. Or it shouldn’t.

 

I carry your stories

Last Tuesday, the Tuesday that shall not be named, was a doozy on the schedule. Nevertheless, I knew I’d be in town anyway taking three kids to choir in spite of the fact that Maddie could not go that night because of her knee surgery. It just so happened that Citizens Caring for Children was hosting a Halloween party that evening for kids in foster care. It wasn’t far from the choir rehearsal and I had a feeling the boys would not be with us on the actual Halloween night, so I dressed them up and we headed over for some candy and booth game fun.

It was a super fun time for the boys and I was really glad I’d taken them even though I was drop dead tired. But once again I was struck by the number of kids there and the trade these kids’ lives have been forced to make, taking a series of fun events in place of the normalcy of consistent family living. When you stop to really think about it, it almost takes your breath away with the sorrow of it all.

Two days after this event I found myself in an unusual situation. I was simultaneously picking up Baby T from his parent visit while also dropping off A5 and R4 for one of theirs. I had probably the longest conversation with Baby T’s mom that I’ve ever had and she was casually volunteering some information about one of her other children that was simply heart breaking. Yet in the telling of the story there was no emotion present. She was just stating things as they happened, like this was normal life, and this was just the way things go sometimes.

And I wanted to cry for her. Later on I did cry for her. Because the story she handed over to me that night needed to be wept over.

Three and a half hours later I got inserted in the middle of another one that still hasn’t completely sorted itself out and I found myself consoling crying boys who found themselves stuck between loyalty and security. It’s an impossible place to find yourself, even when you are almost 40, let alone 4 and 5. On one hand, you know you *should* feel and do and be one way and on the other hand you know how safe and secure the other one is and you are conflicted. Do you give up one for the other? Is it possible to have both?

I see how easy it is for professional child welfare workers to distance themselves from the intense emotion of what they do. I’m not sure how you could really do that job any other way.

Yet it is a job that requires another way. Because we can’t just check these kids back into a file at 5pm on weekdays and say, “See you again tomorrow morning.”

Their lives require more. Their dignity deserves more. Their humanity demands more.

And so we give it. Because if we don’t give it, they aren’t going to get it. But in the giving of it, we are burdened by their stories.

And the weight is just almost unbearable.

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

 

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.

Prepping for Crazy

When A4 and R3 left us in June it came as a surprise and it didn’t. We knew that was possible, we just didn’t know they would call one morning, while I was out of town, and come get them that afternoon.

Poof. Gone.

I distinctly remember feeling desperate in April of this year. We were still an emergency-placement home and we never really thought they boys would be with us as long as they were with us, thus I didn’t really fully incorporate them into my family mindset like I might otherwise have done. At least I didn’t do that for the first month or two. By June it had pretty much happened. And our whole family has felt the gap those two stinkers left when they moved in with their relative.

But knowing their history and how many homes they’ve been in, I made clear to their case worker that if that placement failed we wanted them back. We said we would become a long-term family if that happened. We agreed to bring them into our family.

I got a call the first week of school asking if I was serious about that claim. I said we were. And then I heard nothing. Following an internal hunch, I called her back earlier this week to see what was going on with the boys. She said they were going to have to move. I said when do you want to bring them over?

From where we sit we have no idea what the future holds here. Will their situation deem them never able to be adopted, yet always in the system? And if so, are we willing to foster parent them as though we had adopted them for the sake of providing stability and family even when the system says otherwise?

And are we crazy for even thinking about doing this?

And then what if they are with us three years and suddenly become adoptable? What then? Do we hand them over to a family who has been waiting for such a moment or do we make official what we’ve been living all that time?

And who even knows what three years will hold?

And who even knows if what we’ve been told is going to happen is going to happen? We’re in the process of preparing for it anyway. Maddie has the biggest room. Chloe has the one best suited to brothers. The girls are taking this weekend to make the switch. Chloe is moving out all of her things from her room. Maddie is moving over and preparing to permanently share again.

And there are big, brave words being spoken and there are soft mixed feelings being whispered.

I think we’re all a little scared.

And yet we’re all a whole lot sure. This is the right thing and it seems to be the Lord’s leading and we will follow it.

Even when it’s hard.

Even when it doesn’t make sense.

Mr. Freeze

We have officially been the owner and disowner of three, count ’em, THREE previously owned freezers. I have cleaned more dried blood from warm freezers than one person should ever have to do. When our last freezer failed on me for the second time I cried UNCLE and went searching for a new one. I swore to never take another chance with someone else’s cast off freezer ever again. I loaded up both babies and headed first to Harry’s Appliance Store where I was hoping to buy it because I like Harry’s and I like local and I like their delivery and haul away feature, but their least expensive option was $150 more than I was willing to pay, so I loaded up both babies again and headed to Home Depot where I found another one that was smaller than this one, but matched my target price of $350 and told them I wanted it. While they were finding it in the back I quickly came to my senses and did a review check. Turns out that Magic Chef doesn’t necessarily make a magic freezer. I loaded up both babies again and just came home. Craig suggested I shop online which is what I usually do, but didn’t this time because I wanted to see the freezer in person before making a long-term commitment to it. However, having just been to two stores with freezers and taking mental notes of the sizes, I felt more confident in my online shopping skillz. Sears it was. I found this beauty for $379 including tax and they had one in stock and it was just the right length to be able to fit into the back of my van, though we weren’t exactly sure of that until we got there and we had to do some fancy maneuvering that included leaving Millie at home, giving Baby A back to his primary care giver, taking some seats out of the van, and loading up as many kids as we could into Craig’s Volvo. But we did it. And Craig put it together when we got home and now we have our new family member, Mr. Freeze.

He’s officially open for business and accepting donations of broccoli-free frozen meals from just about anyone. *grin*

I’m super happy to have him here!

Oh, and did you catch that above? We are back to just one baby again. We miss him, but I’m planning to sleep for the entire weekend.