So Much

There is so much going on with this case or should I say cases (sister is on a separate case). Yesterday, after what felt like a pretty good court hearing, I had the realization that this is going to drag way out. Like in to 2016 out. My heart breaks for these boys that they won't have permanency anytime soon but I also know they feel so secure, stable and loved. Baby girl continues to be a total blessing and sweetheart. No matter the days she spends with us, she will be adored and smothered with brother kisses. 
After the emotional court day, I drove home from an appointment in to this sunset. I feel that God painted it just for me to remind me that His plan is perfect and to keep hanging in there. 


A little catch up...

It's been nearly a month since I blogged and I blame exhaustion. The last thing I want to do when I finally get 4 kids tucked in to bed is try to use my brain. I don't want to forget these precious/crazy/fun moments though.

Declan is the sweetest brother to baby girl. Here, she got a few rounds of "You are my sunshine" (a favorite of all 3 boys at bedtime):
The boys both love to skateboard and skate school is that perfect place to burn some energy. I can't believe how tall they both look! 
I've never parented an easy-going baby so moments like this boggle my mind:
"L" came home from preschool so proud of his painting. Cracked us up. It's coffee grounds in case you were wondering:
I love catching Mark's tender moments with baby girl. Warms my heart...
Mark is hoping to pass down his love of playing guitar to the boys. He bought Declan this little Fender to start learning. 
The relationship between Declan and "L" has been a process. Now, they are besties and it's so fun to see how much they love spending time with each other:
I have seriously surprised myself by continuing to keep the gym a priority. Sometimes it takes extra coordinating but Mark's been awesome and he's super consistent as well. I think we finally realized how energizing and beneficial exercise can be.
I just love dressing my kiddos in coordinating clothes. I realize this won't be something they let me do forever, so I'll cherish it now. Celebrating Valentine's Day at Papa & Nana's:
I wish it wasn't a rare moment that all 3 boys play together but it is. "B" is usually hanging out with me while the older 2 play but, this night, they all built legos for an hour!
Eric & Bekah stopped over to meet baby sister and show us their gorgeous wedding pictures. I hope these two always have a special bond:
Uncle Shaun and baby girl on his birthday:


Black Belt

I have to admit, when we signed a contract with Declan's Tae Kwon Do studio, I chose the more expensive month-to-month option. His stick-to-it-ness isn't always rock solid (he was 5 after all). So a year long contract didn't seem like a good fit. Little man proved me so wrong and it was a joy to witness him climb the ranks and secure his black belt last night. The next step is Juniors and I'm really hopeful he stays focused there as well. The skills he learns in Tae Kwon Do are just the icing on the cake. I'm more thankful for all the listening skills they teach and the lessons about character.
Group of black belts:
 Declan's favorite instructor, Mr. Reed:




Baby girl is perfection. Seriously. I have never experienced a more easy, sweet baby in my life. Honeymoon period? Who knows but I don't care. I've totally slowed down (maternity leave...woot woot) and I just soak her in every chance I get. She loves to be snug in my Solly wrap:
With Declan and our foster twins, I was always ready for that last feeding so I could lay them down for the night. Baby girl just snuggles with me for a long time after that last feeding as I can barely convince myself to put her to bed. Something is magical about this sweet soul. It was easy to fall (fast) in love with her. 


Baby Girl

Every time we had court I swear mom's belly had grown. I wasn't the only one suspicious and it was confirmed this Fall that she was indeed pregnant. Our home was an obvious place for baby to go since we had 2 full bio siblings. One small hitch- we were done. D.O.N.E. Our family was complete and it had been a very hard year as the boys healed from some wrongs of their past. I started getting rid of baby stuff even though my heart was a teensy bit open (Marks was not at all). Crib gone, gear gone, everything pretty much gone. It felt liberating and I started looking forward to my 2 year old being out of diapers and all the fun next steps a young family takes when there are no more babies. 

Then I found out something that changed it all. A girl. My heart blew up and I couldn't stop thinking about her. Still, Mark was a huge NO. We prayed, we argued, we each made our points, prayed some more. Mom's due date was just around the corner when Mark decided he was finally on board. We gave our "yes" and just weeks later mom went in to labor early and baby girl joined our home just 1 day old last week. It's been amazing. She fits right in. The tenderness that comes out in the boys makes my heart leap. We are all so smitten. 

The uncertainties of this case can eat me alive if I let myself think too hard. My mantra has been to love on her as long as God allows. Some days I'm steady and trusting and some days the future scares me. I don't want to rip out the hearts of our boys. So, for now, she's our foster babe. My wise friend Maralee told me this: 

"Every day with a foster kid is a gift. It's a chance to invest in the woman she will become. I know it's incredibly tough, but do what you can to enjoy this day with her."

And I do. We do. At 4am when she's done feeding, I snuggle her extra long and stare at her little face that changes every day. I let each brother hold her as often as they ask. I worry less about noise and schedules and all the other things that consumed me when Declan was a newborn and just take time to soak her in. No matter how long she's with us, we are her safe place full of snuggles, hugs, songs, and sticky fingered brothers who vow to always protect her. 


January so far...

We celebrated Evie's 5th birthday party in Omaha at CoCo Keys (indoor game/water park). The boys loved it and so we'll need to go up again soon...maybe for L's 4th birthday in March.
That night Declan got some quality cousin and Nana/Papa time with an overnighter. This was the pic I got from my mom of Declan loving his hot cocoa. 
Sunday night movie night. Crosby and Declan chose to be fireside:
Sometimes my 2 year old looks 4. Amazing how quick kids grown. Sniff, sniff.
On the way home from skating, Declan was telling cute stories only a 6 year old could make up. Love him all deep in thought:
Ryan came over for our Monday Bachelor nights and the dogs immediately claimed his lap. Unfortunately, this season is a bore so I think I'm done.
I'm so happy my grandparents moved back from New York. Gie (what we call my grandma) and "B" are buddies. 
My aunt and cousin visited and we got to spend some quality time together. They joined in with the trainable fun.
Declan is so excited to test for his BLACK belt soon. Can't believe he's stuck with this so long. Hope he keeps it up! We see a ton of potential for him to do amazing in martial arts.
I don't want to nix anything but it's been unseasonably warm all month. It was over 50 several times this week and the boys drug all the toys over to the last patch of snow of course. 

January Christmas

Now that Mark's family is spreading out (Ohio and Colorado) we had to do a non-traditional time for Christmas so January worked for everyone. It was a fun and crazy day with 9 kids 7 and under. 

The day before we had our Colorado fam over for dinner and "L" was smitten with Violet:
These two boys are bestie. Cousins rock:
Uncle Jase and little Landry:
Sister-in-law's are the best...