Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year (and belated Merry Christmas)!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Olivers!

Happy first day of the new year! I trust you had a lovely Christmas holiday. Ours was pretty easy-going. It was just our little family for most of the day until we were joined for dinner by several family friends. Luther's gifts were definitely superhero-themed, while Sinclair's dreams of everything ballerina came true. It snowed that morning giving us our first white Christmas. It was a lovely day, although Piercen has requested we do more of a potluck next year so that I can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the family.

You know me, I love a good new year and the hopeful resolutions that come with it. However, when I tried to come up with a list of goals for 2018, I couldn't really think of any, at least not tangible, concrete ones. I think the problem is that I'm not really sure what this next year will hold. Now that we are a foster family, I don't know what children will come into our home, when they will arrive, when they will leave, or how they will affect our family. So the best I can come up with is some themes for the coming year; themes of efficiency, simplicity, and grace.

Efficiency: as a whole, fostering little babies works for our family (yeah, I know, I need to do a post on our experience with Baby A), so I'm expecting more babies to be placed with us. However, adding a baby to the mix makes normal, everyday tasks much more time consuming. I'm going to look for more efficient ways to do my (and our) necessary tasks. We already started this process in 2017; we streamlined our laundry system so we're not having to sort items as much, brought organizing structure to our coat closet so that we aren't wasting time trying to find this hat or those gloves, and were gifted a big freezer so that we could store frozen meals and leftovers to make cooking more efficient. I'm going to look for additional ways to cut down on steps and time needed for regular chores and activities.

Simplicity: while efficiency is kinda an easy one for me to find solutions for, simplicity is something I fight because it means I have to give stuff up, even if its just expectations. I have gotten a bit better about this; over the past year I cut my my showers down to one a day and moved them to nighttime, and this helped to cut my getting ready time in the morning to fifteen minutes. And just recently I've settled into the idea of daily "uniform" consisting of jeans, a teeshirt in pastel/earth tones, and a cardigan or sweater over top. This may not sound earth shattering to you, but I really, really care about clothes and one's "look", and it has taken me so very long to accept that silk blouses and ornate skirts do not work in my daily life of caring for children and running a home. Are there other areas of my life that I can relax my grip on or change my way of thinking about in order to simplify and make easier without sacrificing too much of myself? We'll see.

Grace: meaning accepting and forgiving the limitations of my husband, my children, my family, my friends, and mostly myself as we all grapple with the opportunities and challenges this next year will bring.

May Jesus bless you and keep you this coming year and may you feel his presence in your everyday life. Happy 2018, my friends!

For a look back at past years' resolutions, check out:
It appears I did not do a "New Years" post in 2015; I must have been way too pregnant for that.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Ode to Strawflowers

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One day last September, when we were visiting Piercen's family in Germany, his aunt Christa brought home a bouquet of strawflowers for the kitchen table. She said that she loved strawflowers, but that they always made her a little sad because seeing them at the flower stand meant that summer was ending.

Fast forward to February when I was paging through the spring seed catalog, and I found a listing for strawflower seeds. Fast forward to July, and those beauties started blooming. I got a stunning bouquet from them at least once, sometimes twice, a week. Even after the first frost, the flowers themselves stayed just as lovely while the stems were done for. I dried almost all of them and used over half to make a stunning wreath for the front door.

I never thought my favorite thing to grow would be a flower, but if I grow only one thing from now on, it will be strawflowers. And they will always make me think of Christa and our family's wonderful September in Germany. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

First Respite Care Placement

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A couple of weeks ago, 2-year-old Little A. was placed with us for for 10 days of respite care. I spoke with her regular foster mom on the phone before she arrived, but only realized when she pulled up at the front door that I had met and liked the foster mom from a brunch I had attended with the foster support group in our region.

A. had been with her foster mom since A. was 11-months old, and they are very attached to each other. So A. struggled for the first couple of days with her "mom" being gone, and would often ask "when is Mommy coming home?"

She is a lovely little girl, very sweet and well-behaved. She is also a great sleeper and a big eater. When I took her to our church's Reformation Celebration potluck dinner, she gobbled up the pot roast I put on her plate, so we went out and bought her some deli meat so she wouldn't have to abide by our pescatarian ways.

The kids loved her. She and Sinclair are very similar in age, and they played very well together overall; Sinclair was getting a little crabby with her towards the end, which wasn't surprising. A. joined us for our big Halloween party as few days before the actual holiday, and we took all three kids trick-or-treating.

It was interesting to watch other people's reactions to us going places with a child of another skin color. There were lots of double takes and questioning looks, and I think at one point, it was only the fact that both girls were wearing matching winter hats, that kept one woman demanding proof that A. was in my care.

The first couple of days were somewhat challenging. It's weird having someone new in your house for that long, you know? A. demanded more attention than my children do and that was a bit wearing to me. We discovered that our the way we do laundry just wasn't going to work for five people, so we had to devise a new way of organizing that. There were other, smaller, but similar revelations about how our family works and how things need to be streamlined. By the end of her time with us, we started to have things ironed out, and it all began to feel more normal.

And then, she was gone. I've talked to her foster mom a couple of times since, and she said it was clear that A. had a great time with us. As I thought would happen, Luther was really upset when she left, but the leaving was eased for all of us by the fact that we'll see A. again at our local DCF office and support groups again.

We couldn't have asked for a better first placement. As of right now, we are in the first few days of having a tiny, one-month old boy with us. He'll be here for at least a month, and we just adore him.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Apple Picking

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A couple of weeks ago, we went apple picking at our favorite apple orchard, Gould Hill Farm, up in New Hampshire. We took Piercen's mom there for the first time two years ago and were enthralled -- I think we're going to make it a yearly tradition. Keep on scrolling for a ridiculous number of ridiculously cute photos.

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