What to say.

Well frankly, 2013 felt like a nice slap in the face. Like the lingering tingly red hand print kind. And I’m glad to see it go. To be honest, I was ready to have it gone by February. We had to make decisions that I never thought we would have to make and we faced trials that I never thought we’d face. And it nearly drained the life out of me.

But in between all the bad, we had some really great things that helped us along the way.

With all Mike’s schooling done, we finally got to settle down and became first time homeowners in May! We love our house. We love our neighborhood. And we love having a place to officially call our own.
We went to Disneyland. And that’s the happiest place on earth, so how could I not add that into the list of awesome things for the year?
We got to welcome another niece into the family! And aren’t babies the best?
We made the decision to become foster parents! And talk about a whirlwind. Never having thought of doing foster care, it’s like God himself took control of our computer on that random Sunday back in September to guide us to this decision. {You can read about it here.} Still counting down the days of our first placement.
Now this is when I go on to say, “We got this, 2014!” or “2014 will be our year!”. But I guess the pessimistic side just got the best of me this year. So I guess I end with, “Just be better than 2013, okay?”

But really, let’s knock 2014 out of the park, yeah?


Clearance Racks Are Our Forte

And Mike was perusing through such racks on his lunch break today when he came across an incredibly beautiful, wooden hand-carved piece of art. And it was cracked right down the center. He immediately texted me a picture of it. He tells me that it's regular priced $130.00 and on clearance for $11.00 because of the crack. He loved it. I felt more of a need to see it in person. The thing was huge and I had no idea what we were going to do with it if we bought it. So once I got off work for the day, I headed straight to said clearance rack to do my own perusing. Of which I found a massive hand-painted clay pot that was 80% off. And I had just the place for it. Mike met me at the store to which we proceeded to buy both massive hand-painted clay pot and huge wooden hand-carved piece of art. Side note: Instead of bringing the car, Mike walked to meet me. Which means we had to walk back carrying a good 30+lbs each of art. Felt the burn.

So when we finally make it home, we flip over the stand that this large wooden ball is sitting on and there is a label explaining the origin of the art.
The last line says "Originally this decorative ball was made as a gift from the groom's family to the bride's family at the proposal ceremony."

Did I mention that exactly 7 years ago today, Mike proposed?

Isn't that awesome?

We had no idea that that label was even there, and it was taped upside down so we couldn't read it even if we had seen it. Amazing. And now some random, cracked, very large, very heavy, beautiful hand-carved ball of wood actually holds quite the place in my heart. Happy Engage-iversary Michael!



Day 5: Attachment/Separation/Grief/Loss

At our last foster care class, our instructor began by setting a timer. She didn't tell us how much time she set it for but when the timer went off, we were instructed to switch seats, and leave one thing behind. Then she set the timer again for an undisclosed amount of time. When the timer went off this time, we were instructed to switch seats and leave everything but one item behind. Once again, she set the timer. When the time expired we were instructed to leave everything, and switch seats. When we arrived at our new seat, she called out people by name and had them switch seats with each other. Mike was sent to the front of the room while I was left in the back. The guy that switched seats with Mike sat down and asked me if I could cook. Is that all that matters to you, dude? And yes, I did say that to his face. Okay, minus the dude part.

Was I uncomfortable? Extremely. And that was exactly the point. She separated me from my spouse, my things, my preferred spot on the third row, and left me vulnerable in the back of the room next to a man that only cares about food. And then she left us there while we watched this video...{speaking of food, grab a snack, it's a long one}
It just kills me. And yet, I love it so much. 

Attachment. Most children are attached to their biological parents. Therefore, we can assume that one of the most traumatic experiences a child can experience would be the loss of a parent. Many children seem to believe that they are somehow to blame for being separated from their parent only causing the expressions of grief to escalate. 

The two points of attachment are physical proximity and emotional. We most securely attach to people who "get it". As foster parents, we seek for that attachment while understanding that these children may have attachment difficulties resulting from prior attachment interruptions. Children know what they need to feel better. When they come to us in need, we must respond. 

Of the eight, I loved this class the most. 

And then it was over. I can't believe we've finished our 32 hours of training. I've been so enlightened and learned more than I could have ever expected to. Next step: home study!

{I promise that we do have a small semblance of a life outside of foster care. I just never seem to write about it. To summarize, Thanksgiving was great, I didn't shop at Target from Black Friday thru December 15 {wahoo!}, my Christmas tree is up and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, enter the best week of the year!}


Day 3: Abuse & Neglect/Sex Abuse

It is becoming more and more difficult for me to write these posts. I'm not sure if its the subject matter, or if I just don't know how to best put it into words. Our instructor is so eloquent. I'm pathetic in comparison. But I do my best in relaying the basic information to best inform my readers. 

One of the more difficult topics when preparing to become foster parents is abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of our four hours in class were spent talking about sexual abuse, however, information and training is key when you become the foster parent of a child that has been affected by this horrific event. Speaking of...has anyone read the Elizabeth Smart book? I hear it is a difficult read because of the subject matter but inspiring all the same and I wonder if her insight would better help me in my knowledge.

Here is an interesting fact for you. 18 percent of sex offenders were molested as children, which can be a small or large number depending on your perspective. But what is more interesting is people that come from violent homes are more likely to become pedophiles. All forms of sexual abuse involve some form of power and control. Even the smallest form of any type of abuse can completely alter the life and behavior and development in a child. 

So as the primary caregivers, what is our role in protecting children? 

Talk to them. The more open you are with them, the more open they will be with you. If someone makes them feel uncomfortable, then the child needs to know that they don't have to be around them. 

Let the kids decide who they want to show affection to. If they don't want to sit on Santa's lap, don't make them. If they don't want to give Grandma a hug, they shouldn't have to. We never want to make kids feel guilty for not wanting to show affection, because it teaches them that they must succumb to all forms of affection, even if it may be inappropriate. 

Teach kids the anatomically correct words of body parts. It will help in the event of identifying if a child has ever been sexually abused. Also, it will teach the kids that as a parent, you aren't embarrassed to talk about these kinds of things and that they can come to with anything. 

Occasionally ask the kids if they have anything that they need to talk about or if there is anything they are uncomfortable about. Remind the kids that if anyone has made a threat to keep the child quiet, we have more power and the law has more power. 

Tell your kids that you will believe them. And that you will stop it from happening. 

Remember that sexual abuse does not ruin the life of the child. It can be overcome. {Another reason I must read Elizabeth Smart's book.}

As foster parents, with the possibility of bringing children into our home that have been sexually abused and/or abused, we must be able to:

Discuss sex, sexuality and sexual abuse with relative comfort.

Be patient, as children need time to develop trust. 

Be flexible. Different children need different things at different times.

Must realize that bringing a child into our home will change it. 

Must be willing and able to provide high levels of supervision.

Must be open to seeking and using help from external sources. 

We may be asked to work with the child's family and must be able to do so with respect and empathy. Increasing contact with biological parents decreases the emotional impact on the child. {There are very rare instances of children hating their biological parents.} The more often the children see their parents, the less traumatic it will be each time they say goodbye.

One more class!


Day 2: Medical/Licensing/Policy

Well if the title alone didn't turn you away, our most recent foster care class was all about the rules. What we can and can't do and say. And in an effort to keep this post a little interesting all while talking about a rather boring topic, I have decided to write mainly on the things in which the general population would perhaps find interesting.

Like for instance, did you know that as foster parents, we cannot cut the child's hair? We can maintain a hairstyle. But if a boy comes to you with hair to his shoulders, embrace you must. {However, I find long hair on a boy rather adorable.}

We are not permitted to talk about the reason's in which the child has come into care. So please, do not ask us. Because the answer will be something like "...because the child's parents are working through some issues...". Vague, I know. So please don't ask. 

Let's say that one of the children breaks a lamp. But you don't know which one did and no one is admitting fault. As a foster parent, we would not be permitted to punish all the children. Meaning, I couldn't send them all to their rooms as a direct punishment of the lamp being broken. That is called joint punishment and is not allowed.

No child over the age of two can sleep in the parents bedroom. Nor can the parent sleep in the bedroom with the child. I know that may seem like an obvious one, but how often do parents find their four year old asleep on the floor in their bedroom?

Only children of the same sex can share a bedroom. Each must have their own bed, and there must be at least 60 square feet of living space per child in the bedroom. Bedrooms must be a minimum of 80 square feet. 

All household cleaning supplies {including laundry supplies}, medicines, and any possibly hazardous household items must be under lock and key. No fancy cabinet latches. Luckily, they have these awesome magnet locks that are installed on the inside of cabinet doors that are considered lock and key. Some hazardous items that we didn't initially think about were the gas cans and the bottles of oil in the garage. Or the cans of paint in the basement. It's amazing how so many things can slip your mind as "hazardous" when they usually would not cause any worry. 

Within 30 days of the child being placed in your home, you are required to take them to a pediatrician for a well check. 

Any injury, no matter how small, requires an incident report to be filled out and must be reported to the case worker . A paper cut? Yep. A bruise? You know it. {And considering kids are prone to small injuries, it will probably turn into a nightly email.}

You actually can take the children on out of state vacations. Which really actually surprised me. Of course, you must get permission from the biological parents before you do so. We were informed that the biological parents are usually pretty reasonable when considering this. You are allowed to take the children overnight anywhere in the state without any permission. Everything from camping in the mountains to a weekend in St. George. 

We were just informed that because of our history of living out of state, our licensing may actually take up to two months longer. I know, super. But it's just a big reminder that they have put all of these policies in place because once upon a time, they didn't have them. And the foster care system was in shambles. And I will follow every single policy. And wait patiently for every piece of the licensing to come through because at least that means that the system, and every person involved, is doing their job to make sure that these kids are getting the best care possible in the worst possible situation.

{As a side note: Any examples above are purely for explanation of the policy/rule and are not necessarily something that we would/wouldn't do in our home.} 


Day 7: Adoption Issues

First thing. Watch this video.

Wow. Isn't Shane amazing? There are so many things in this video that scream at me. Like when he says he still lives with the pain of being rejected over and over. But how sometimes that rejection could be replaced with hope, when there were potential adoptive families. And how that hope was quickly erased by disappointment. Like how he wondered why families would send him back. Because he would lie from time to time, or stole every once in a while, or acted out. Or when he says he felt as if he wasn't quite good enough. Not good enough to get a home. Or a family.

"Who wouldn't want to call me son, now? Who wouldn't be proud of having me as a part of their family? And how many children out there would say the same?"

Only 1 to 2 percent of the children that go into the foster care system are considered to have extreme behavior. So when Shane says that he perhaps acted out, what child doesn't act out? What child doesn't lie? One time I stole a piece of gum from a store. Among many other things I stole from my sister's growing up. Makeup, perfume, candy, you name it.

It's amazing to me that even among all the rejection, and never actually getting a family of his own, he was still able to rise above the odds. Do you want to hear the odds? 70 percent of teenagers that age out of the system {meaning they never get adopted, and are released from foster care at the age of 18} end up either dead, on drugs, or homeless. 70 percent! Now you can begin to understand the importance of stability in the lives of these children.

We have turned in our paperwork, of which states that we are willing to be the foster parents for children ages 0 to 10. If the biological parents of these kids end up having their parental rights terminated, then we are first in line for adoption. And highly encouraged to do so. Adopting a 10 year old is so different than fostering a 10 year old. Or is it? It's the exact same thing if I'm doing my job as a foster parent. How weird to think I could be the parent of a 10 year old. I could never do to a child what those foster parents and potential adoptive parents did to Shane and his little brother. This is when we have to dig deep and find what it is that God really wants us to do. It doesn't matter the age of these kids, or the individual behaviors, if God wants the kids in our home, who can argue with that?


Day 6: Discipline/Effects of Care Giving

"Too often we forget that discipline really means to teach, not to punish. A disciple is a student, not a recipient of behavioral consequences."
Dr. Dan Siegel, The Whole-Brain Child

And it came to pass, the class in which taught us how to become parents. As much as you can learn without actual hands on experience.

Several points taken from the class:

The ability to delay the gratification of a child is critical to their success. Remember the whole study with the kids and the marshmallow? They put a child in a room and place a marshmallow in front of them. They say that they can eat it then. But they can also wait. And if they do wait, then they will be rewarded with a second marshmallow. If we can delay the gratification of a child, we motivate them to do their very best, because they know that the second reward will be greater than the first.

For instance, when we were primary teachers, our primary presidency used marbles in a jar. When the kids were on their best behavior, they got a marble in the jar. When the jar was full, they received a reward. The instant gratification is the marble in the jar. And the delayed gratification is the reward once the jar is full.

As the parent, we should never take away something already earned. If we put a marble in the jar, and then they misbehave, we cannot take a marble away. The marble was placed for a good behavior. And bad behavior cannot cancel out the good behavior. If we make a mistake at work does our boss ask us for a portion of our paycheck to make up for our mistake? Makes sense now, right?

Discipline = Teaching
Discipline > Behavior Management

We are to discipline for good and bad behavior. Which means that good behavior and bad behavior provides us with good teaching opportunities as parents. And we need to be sure that we are taking opportunities to teach in all situations. Not just the good. Not just the bad.

The best consequences are the ones that get the child back on track. When we place children in time out, are they really learning from their mistake? Are they really sitting in the corner, pondering what they did wrong and what it is they can do better in the future so as to not end up in that situation again? We should be talking to our kids. Letting them take a break from the situation. An example was used as we talked about what we do as adults when we are in a stressful situation. Do we go sit in the corner, completely silent, for as many minutes as we are in age thinking about what we did wrong? {If you do.....therapy, my friend.} Of course we don't! We go for a walk. We go shopping. We eat some chocolate. We exercise. Give a child the opportunity to refresh themselves in a similar way.

I really enjoyed this class. It gave me a good opportunity to take what I was raised with, and mix it with the things that I learned to begin thinking about some ways I plan to teach the children that come into our home. As much as you can prepare without hands on experience, right?


Day 8: Cultural Issues/Primary Families

The final class of the series (not our final class, because we took them out of order). And how fitting that we talked about culture. After all the talk of development and behavior, we now focus on the differences in a family’s culture. We may share culture similarities with those around us, but all our families and home are different. We bring these children, that come from their own familial culture, into our home, into our family, which contains a completely different culture. We talked for hours about the different cultures that we may find through this process. Some are obvious. For instance, religion. Or food. But what about food, exactly? I’m not talking tortillas versus rice. I’m talking wheat bread versus white bread. We eat wheat bread in our house. That is the way we have chosen to live. It’s our food culture. But what about the kids that have never had wheat bread? Am I to think that when they come into my home they will just magically switch over to our culture? Most likely not. I will give them the chance to try wheat bread, and if they won’t try it or if they don’t like it, I will buy white bread. I mean really. Pick your battles, am I right? But what about those cultures that are less obvious. For instance, affection. Some of us were raised with hugs and kisses, but what about those that are raised with little to no physical affection? I mean, these are all things that we know in the back of our mind, but it’s bringing them to the front that really made me think how interesting of an experience this will be. It can’t be a ‘my way or the highway’ sort of thing. Which for me could be tough. I like things my way. But you know, if it’s not going to hurt or kill someone or something, then we are going to just have to let it go.

We talked about how because most of these kids come from such a different culture, we need to be careful about the effect we have on them. Because the ultimate goal is reunification with their parents, if our culture changes these kids too much, then when they go back, they may have a difficult time being placed back into their family’s culture. All while still having an influence on these children for the better. Such a complicated effort.

We discussed foster parents judging the culture of the biological parents. Just because we may feel that we can perhaps provide a better living, or a better education, or on and on, that does not make us the better option for the child. The goal is reunification. Once the biological parent has cleaned up their life, they will be eligible to get their children back. As long as they can provide a safe environment for them. And I think that is one point that is the most difficult for the foster parents. Perhaps knowing what they can provide and comparing it to what the biological parents could provide. Well that, my friends, is a cultural judgment. The best thing for these kids is to be with their biological parent, first and foremost. Any cultural differences are really just opinions. And opinions based on culture, do not count.

This was the first class that I sat through that really made me want to cry. I have had such a rollercoaster ride going through these classes. When we started, I was so ready to be a foster-to adopt parent. Could not even wait. Then I went completely opposite and was worried that I didn’t really want to do this at all. Luckily, I overcame that pretty quickly. When class was over last night, I told Mike that maybe we should just do foster care, and not adopt. Which I know is just to cover up the fact that I suddenly have found the compassion for these parents that have their kids taken away. What an awful thing, to have your child taken from you. I know, it is because of poor decisions by the parents that these things happen, but don’t we all make poor decisions every day? Maybe not on the scale that these parents do, but don’t we still feel bad when we screw up? Don’t we have guilt? When we have made mistakes, we do what we need to do to reconcile them. Whether that is an apology, repentance, etc., we do whatever we need to do to make it right. And then we hopefully never make the mistake again. So absolutely these parents need to be given second chances. And for a time, their children might come into my home and I might fall in love with them and want them to stay forever, but they were never mine to keep. I did not give birth to them. God did not place them in my home in the beginning, he just put me in the position to help these children when their parents could not.


Day 4: Impacts of Abuse on Development

I realize that there are 2 days of classes that I skipped, however, based on our crazy schedules, we weren’t able to attend days 2 and 3. Fortunately, you do not have to attend the classes in order, so we will be able to pick them up in December.
Did you know that it is worse for a woman to drink alcohol when she is pregnant than it would be for her to use illegal drugs? It’s true. Women that drink alcohol while they are pregnant have more of an effect on their baby’s development than any illegal drug would. And that includes crack cocaine, heroin, meth….you name it. It’s disgusting really how uninformed we are as a society. And yet, alcohol is not only legal, but it is also legal to drink while you are pregnant. I know, the whole thing seems backwards.
In class, we discussed the effects that an abusive home can have on the development of a child. We made comparisons of typical behaviors of children, and the ages in which they develop these behaviors {which just reminded me even further that even though I took child development courses in high school and even some human development courses in college, I definitely do not know when some specific behaviors are developed in children} to the behaviors of children that may be delayed in respect to children that have gone through some form of neglect and/or abuse.
It was reality smacking me in the face, really.
They compare children that enter the foster care system to members of the military that have served on active duty. These children, just like those in the military, suffer from PTSD. In any situation, suffering from PTSD is horrific, but these children unfortunately go through these traumatic situations while their brains are still developing. It literally becomes part of them. It’s molded into their brains. These kids are taken from everything they know {even if it isn’t that great} and placed in a world that is completely foreign to them, all while trying to cope with their traumatic past. And so how do we expect them to behave? Of course they will struggle. Of course they will act out.
I think I had my ah-ha moment.
It’s really getting down on their level. Having empathy for what they have gone through. Trying to understand why they do the things they do. Is it psychological or physiological? Did you know about 80% of kids in the foster care system are diagnosed with ADHD? Many of which are misdiagnosed. When we make this diagnosis, are we taking into account their developmental delays because of the abuse?
There were stories upon stories of food hoarding. How your primal brain takes over. It becomes livelihood. The instructor shared how her aunt would hide food throughout her entire house, and still does to this day, because of the effects the depression had on her. Because she remembers going to bed hungry when she was a kid. And another story of a lady that adopted 4 boys from Guatemala and once found a raw pork chop under one of their mattresses.
A lot of these kids have experienced some neglect, many times in the form of not being fed. And because they weren’t fed while their brains were developing, it stays with them. They will never be rid of the idea that they may not know when they are getting their next meal.
Awful, awful stuff you guys.
So let’s just say Mike and I have already decided that we will have a basket in the pantry with their name on it. It’s their basket. And they get to pick what’s in there. Healthy options of course. It’s their food. And no one else’s. We hope to not find any pork chops under mattresses, but if we do, we’ll deal with it. Because we need to understand where they are coming from. And hopefully we’ll be able to convince them to hide something a little less perishable next time.
These classes are amazing. We are learning so much. We actually think it would be good if all parents took these courses before having kids. So much you should know before you jump into parenthood.
And a bit of a side note, most of these posts are going to be super depressing. The instructor explained to us that in the classes, she doesn’t often talk about the good. Because it’s not the good times that we need to train for. It’s the bad times that we need to understand how to deal with.


Day 1: Orientation/Team Building

Orientation was last night. I was surprised with the number of couples in attendance. There were well over 50 people there. We sat next to the nicest couple. They have 4 boys and are looking to add a girl to the mix. I loved hearing about the other couples and what brought them into the foster care system.
Our instructor is fantastic. Sitting in 4 hour classes after a 9 hour work day seems daunting, but she somehow makes it bearable.
She said something that struck me. In discussing one of the keys to becoming a great foster parent {one of many, I’m sure}, she said that if your heart doesn’t break when the children leave your home, then you aren’t doing it right.
I’ve talked about this in an earlier post. How hard it is going to be to have these kids come into our home, and then have them leave. The average amount of time a child remains with a foster family is 15 months. 15 months! That’s Christmas. That’s a birthday. That’s family reunions, and new school years, and worn out jeans. That is a long time. And another statistic for you: nearly 70% of children return back to their families. And I’m scared I’m going to be a wreck when it’s all staring me in the face.
But then I remember what she said last night. If you aren’t a complete wreck, then you didn’t do something right. Then you didn’t love these children fully. Then you didn’t give them everything that you had. Then you didn’t provide them with what they needed to feel like they were a part of your family.
She says rid yourselves of anyone that thinks that you need to guard yourself. Or that tells you not to get too attached. The most successful children that come out of foster care were the ones that were loved.
We watched a video about a boy named Richard. Richard was in foster care from the age of 4 until he committed suicide when he was 17. Richard was shuffled through 28 different homes and shelters. {Mind you, this was in Canada in the 70’s and 80’s…and the foster care system has changed a lot since then.} Richard was also a journal writer. How unfortunate that Richard’s experience was so awful that he felt that suicide was the only way out but how fortunate for us that we have record of his thoughts and feelings so that we can learn from him. Richard wrote about love. Such a foreign concept to him that scared him yet fascinated him. He wrote about how he couldn’t remember the last time he was held by anyone, and how much he missed it. He wrote about learning how to block out emotions, guarding himself from those around him, to keep from getting hurt.
“Love can be gentle as a lamb, or ferocious as a lion. It is something to be welcomed. It is something to be afraid of. It is good, and bad, yet, people live, fight, die for this. Somehow, people can cope with it. I don’t know, I think I would not be happy with it. Yet I am depressed and sad without it. Love is very strange.”
This can’t happen. And I know we are just a drop in the bucket to the foster care system, but it matters.
Because these kids matter.

If you want to watch the documentary, click here. {Caution: there is a picture of Richard after he committed suicide within the first few minutes.}


This is an addition brought to you in part by Abby's husband.  I thought I would surprise Abby, she doesn't know that I have taken over her blog, and all of you with my thoughts. I suppose this may happen periodically now that I have done it once. 

I just wanted to share the realization I had while sitting in the orientation.  I realized that as much as these kids need me, I need them more. I need these kids to know that I am there to help them, that I am there to protect them and that I am there to love them.  These kids will become a part of my life as much as I will become a part of theirs.  They will teach me things, they will be my heroes and I will owe them so much.  I just want people to know that while the children are benefitted through this process, we too, as the foster parents will receive so much. 

I too anticipate feeling overwhelmingly sad when a child leaves our home but my consolation is the knowledge they have imparted to me during their time. 

I'm so happy that Abby is my willing partner and that she will give me the strength to work through this. 


On Our Decision To Become A Foster Care Family

Our 32 hours of foster care training will commence this evening. Sometimes I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I think those are lyrics to a song. But they seem so fitting at this time when I feel like my life is taking a path that I had never before considered.
I never really told you about how Mike and I came on this decision. Well one minute I was buying a shower curtain on Amazon and the next minute, Mike was sitting next to me and we were looking at the list of children waiting for adoption in the state of Utah through the foster care system. Honestly, I really don't even know how it happened. (Meant to be?)
We found these two adorable boys. And I instantly felt the need to help them. I dreamed of what it would be like to bring these two brothers in to our home. How would it be to suddenly be a mother of 6 and 9 year old boys? My heart ached for their sad situation. And then just as simple as seeing their faces, we felt pushed to inquire further and two days later we were in contact with the foster care system in Utah.
Those two boys are no longer on the list of available children. And I am sure they have been placed in a loving home. But I’m so glad that they were on the list that first time that we looked at it. Because it was those two boys faces that placed us where we are now. Prepared, or unprepared, to jump into this world of foster care.
We dream about that first phone call. Which we hope is only a mere few months away.


Talking About Being Married, Mormon and Not Having Kids. And What We Are Planning On Doing About It.

I think I was destined to be a mother. Since as long as I can remember, that's really all I have ever wanted to do. Be a mom. I mean, how could I not want to be a mom after having the most wonderful childhood experience, greatly because of my mother? We were, and still are, her everything. I have dreamed of having that kind of love for my own children.

Being LDS (Mormon, Latter Day Saint, etc.), has instilled this passion in me even more. As Mormon women, we believe that is why we are put here on the earth. To rear children that will continue to grow and teach and build upon what they were taught.

So where does that leave me?
27 years old. College graduate. Married to a college graduate. Homeowner.
Doesn't it just seem like the next thing on the list should say mother? I totally agree. We have done everything that we needed to do before we have kids. And believe me, I've wanted kids since about 3 months into this marriage! But it just wasn't the right time.

So now onto the whole, what we are planning on doing about it part of the conversation. After much prayer and thought for the best way to bring children into our home, Mike and I have decided that we will be going through the certification process to become foster parents, and eventually to adopt through the foster care system.

I know, right?!

We are extremely excited to be taking this next step in our lives. Since we have made this decision, we have had some concern, some questions, and a lot of excitement from our families and friends.

Don't you want to have your own kids?
Absolutely. We do want to have our own. But its just not the right time. But one day, we will.

Are you sure you want to do this?
Yes. So if you have negative comments, please take them elsewhere.

Do you have any idea how hard its going to be?
No I don't. Because you don't know how hard its going to be until you actually experience it. But I have mentally prepared myself as much as I can. Mike's mom said it best when she said that yes, these kids will have problems because of the issues that they have had to deal with, but who says that your own biological children won't have problems? You never really know what you are going to get even if you give birth to them.

What ages will you be having in your home?
Originally, we had decided 10 years old and younger would be good. We are considering changing that to 5 years old and under. We haven't really made the decision, but will be making it shortly.

Do you feel ready to be a parent of a child? You will be missing out on the gradual development of the baby, which means also the gradual development of learning how to be a parent.
I do feel ready. I never assumed this would be easy. I never claimed I knew how to be a parent. I've spent my fair share around kids throughout my 27 years, but I don't claim to know it all. But I'm comfortable with myself. And my abilities. And if I have no clue what I'm doing, neither does any first time parent. So that's when I call my mom.

Isn't that going to be hard to have kids come into your home and then have to let them leave and go back to their birth parents?
Yes. And originally, we weren't planning on doing foster care and we were just going to adopt a child that is currently in the foster care system. I was guarding my emotions. I didn't want to have a child come into our home, and just when things are falling into place, have them go back to their birth parents. But then I remembered it wasn't about me. It's about these kids. These kids needs structure. They need support. And they need parents that can love them. And that is something that Mike and I can provide. Even if it may be only temporarily.
So, now what?
Well, now, we begin our 32 hours of training starting at the beginning of November. Once we have completed the training (which can be done within one month, but will probably take us two based on our schedules) and a background check, we have a homestudy. When that is complete we wait for a phone call. Once you agree to have a specific child in your home, they could be there within hours. Which means, our life will change within a matter of hours. And we are elated.
So there it is. We wondered if this was something that we wanted to share or if we wanted to keep this particular part of our lives private. But we decided that this will be such a big part of who we are, and we want to share our journey of becoming foster care parents in effort to help and inform others along the way.
We plan to share each step of the way, of course, while regarding the privacy of the children. If you have questions, advice or positive comments, we would love to hear to from you.


Pictures of Pumpkins


We I had a blast this weekend learning all about my DSLR. I took over 300 pictures {most of which are of Mike's feet and our living room}. It also was a beautiful weekend to head to the pumpkin patch, with camera in tow. It was entirely too picked over, as most of what was left was either lopsided or rotting. But we found ourselves a couple of good carving pumpkins to light up our porch that will hopefully let our neighbors know that Hey, we have candy! and please come and get some because Abby bought over 200 pieces that she doesn't want finding a home some place between her hips and her thighs. {I know, I pretty much overdo it on everything....but you can't run out of candy on Halloween!}


This Week.

I remembered the significance of a deep breath.

I decided I'm going to be a nightgown mom.

I started running again after a 10 month hiatus. (But really, it was probably 12.)

I walked through a corn maze with teenage girls and remember how fun it was to be immature?

I bought my dream car.

I got a killer deal on a used DSLR.

I added "dump dish soap into a water fountain" to my bucket list.

I set a goal to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and failed. I don't even know how that happened.

I listened to my baby brother sing Beatles songs while clad in homemade tie-dye. That kids got quite the voice.

I read my Book of Mormon by the fireplace. Super dreamy, yeah?

I celebrated 7 years of dating with husband. Holy, where has the time gone?


I Leave You This Week With One Of My Favorite Views Of The City.

High rise window washers.

So they use these suction cup things to stay steady as they dangle hundreds of feet in the air.
These suction cups make a loud slapping noise when they hit your window.
Scares me every.single.time.
Those window washers come out of nowhere, and then they are gone as quickly as they came.
And have you ever actually seen them wash a window from the inside?
Professional squeegee handlers, I tell you.
It's pretty much an art.

Have a great weekend.


Today We Get To Celebrate A Birthday

There you are. Stealing your cousins snow cone.
All while he innocently poses for a picture.
Things have surely changed since then.
20ish years later and now I'm the one stealing food from you.
So glad you were born those 28 years ago.
And not just so I could steal your food.
You are my best friend.
And I love you to the moon and back and more.
Happy birthday!
Now let's celebrate!


I Hang Out With YouTube Sometimes On The Weekend

So Miley Cyrus. I know right? VMA's and all that drama. But once upon a time, very recently, Miley released a song called Wrecking Ball. Which I hadn't heard. All people talk about is her racy music video (which I haven't seen) and not the actual song itself. But then something beautiful happened. A cover was born. You guys, there is something about a guy and a banjo. I've already told Mike that this will be his new hobby. And we all know me, addict of small YouTube stars and covers alike. So watch. And then watch again and dance.

Oh and if you haven't seen this, you better jump on that hilarious bandwagon. And then go watch the clip of Ellen doing it. I die every time.


The Actually Busy, But Not So Busy, Month of September

These past two weeks have been seemingly crazy around our house. I'm not quite sure what it is that we are so busy doing, but hence, the time goes by and its another day in the life. I decided that the best that I could come up with was to document the house, as it were, in the midst of it all.

And then I realized as I was uploading these photos that it sure makes us look like we were doing a whole lot of nothing. Putting our feet up and watching a movie? Okay, so these pictures may not be the greatest of representations of our busy couple of weeks.

 At Mike's request, German Chocolate Brownies. That pan is disappearing faster than my hips would like.

So we don't have an ottoman. And yes, those are Christmas pillow cases....
 What the armrest next to me looks like while my feet are propped so nicely on my 'ottoman'.
 I love how the sun comes into my house in the late afternoon. Not looking forward to the end of Daylight Savings.
And I love the fields that I get to see when I look out my window.
 I couldn't really watch too much of this movie. Made me a bit too anxious. Hence, all the gear on the armrest to keep me busy.

Well. I wish I could say that things are slowing down, but I think it will be October before we get there. Hopefully this fall weather will stick around so I can actually enjoy some of it.


A Little Chill In The Air

Which led to me listening to my first Christmas song of 2013. Mike tells me that's not good. But it is. It is very very good.



Quote From The Weekend

During our walk to the library.

Mike: Did you know that if we could figure out how to harvest the inside of a tumbleweed, it could be used as packing peanuts?

So glad I married someone who keeps me guessing on what he’ll say next.


And for Labor Day?

I have to say it was pure happiness. I spent the entire day with husband, shopping and eating and erranding. We returned a lease, so now we get the adventure of playing marriage and life with only one car. Luckily we pretty much go everywhere together, including carpooling to work, so having one car should be smooth sailing. We just can't decided what we want! Four wheel drive. But that's about as far as we have taken it. We figure we'll just save ourselves a bit of money while we don't need a car and when an instance comes along where we need two cars, we'll get that second car. As soon as we figure out what car that is. Ah. I hate car shopping. What a crummy way to have to spend a beautiful autumn weekend. I'm gonna put it off until the snow hits.
Oh and somehow we made our way to the Herriman Reservoir. Along with the rest of the southern Salt Lake County population. Now Mike wants to learn how to paddle board. Yeah lets just add that to the golfing that we were supposed to be taking up this summer...


It's Friday. Thank The Heavens For That One.

Today has already been a doozy. So lucky that there are some moments when sitting on a computer at work that can be completely inspirational. You just have to find the right material. And inspiration is how I will lead into this lovely Labor Day weekend.

Read this.

Once you have read that, read this.


There Is A Lady In My Ward That Lived In New Zealand Awhile Back.

Her and her husband just decided they were sick of Utah and they needed to take themselves a little break. One day her husband comes home and says, I think we need to move to New Zealand. And so they did. How amazing is that? And how brave. How many of us would pick up and move to the opposite side of the world? They had no jobs, no connection, nothing for them when they got there. Except pure freedom. Peace of mind. I don’t recall how long she said they lived there. It wasn’t for very long. And then when they decided it was time to come back, they took the long way home. Stopped and traveled along the way.

For some reason I have been reflecting a lot on our time in DC last summer. I have found myself missing it. Because as much as I hated the droplets of sweat dripping down my back as soon as I walked out the door, what an amazing city to live in. To be surrounded at every turn by the things that built this country. Maybe it’s the itch of needing a little bit more variety in my life. Since we all know how much fun getting up and going to work every day is.:) Does anybody else get bored as quickly as Mike and I do? Maybe it’s the product of being on the go go go since we have been married. Things sure do slow down once school is over. And yet, in all my boredom, how nice it is to be settled. To be able to make plans. To be able to have stability. To be able to see the product of all the work that we put in. I feel so lucky to be where I am. We worked hard for this settled, stable life. I guess maybe I just need a few more picnics in the park and kitchen dance parties to keep things interesting


I Try, But I Admit, I Really Just Don’t Like Def Leppard...

...but please play me Elton John, all the day long.

Veggie Straws, eh? Nursery food if there ever was one, but I love them oh so much.

I have started to read blogs again. And I forgot how utterly addicting they are. Because now all I want to do is read blogs. Those debits and credits can wait….meanwhile, on Love Taza back in January 2008…

There was a fight at Mike’s soccer game last night. That was fun. And no, Mike wasn’t involved. I told him I would disown him as a child if he ever fought in a rec league soccer game.

Some fairies came and decorated our office overnight. The amount of pictures that is now hanging on the wall is border-line highly excessive. We've got some nature. Some are business related. And then some are like these:

Things just got weird, huh?
Does anyone else actually pray in their morning prayers that the workday will go by quickly? No? Just me?


Speaking Of

There is just something about people who tease. And I don’t mean tease in a brotherly sisterly love sort of way. And I also don’t mean the bullies at school way. I just mean those beyond irritating folk that find it just so fantastically fun to say things just to see if they can get a rise out of you. Well guess what? You won. You got a freaking rise out of me. And then I proceeded to absolutely blow up at them. Because when you try to get a rise one to many times out of this extremely stubborn person, you are absolutely gonna get a rise. Unfortunately, we work together. So that’s awkward. But someone had to teach them a lesson. You can’t act like a 13 year old forever.

And for the record, I am stubborn. Always have been, always will be. It’s in the genes. But at least I act like the adult that I claim to be.
Word to this beyond irritating folk spoken of above: probably should try just knocking it off. Teasing is for preteens and middle school. And one day someone is going to blow up in your face. And they are going to enjoy it. And you, you’re going to feel like a fool.



The county fair is such the place for nostalgia. Even though I don’t recall ever going to the county fair as a child, going to a fair makes you feel like a child again. Plus, I got to go on a date with my husband. And that right there makes me feel like a giddy school girl. To make it even more nostalgic, and to use that word in a sentence again, BlackHawk was playing at the county fair. A free concert. It’s as if it was meant for us. We saw BlackHawk play a few years ago at another local fair so we knew that we couldn’t pass up getting to see them live again. My love for BlackHawk runs deep into my childhood. My sister, our across the street neighbor friend Brooke, and I would sit on the floor in Brooke’s bedroom and sing the day away to her dad’s BlackHawk cassette tapes. We knew every word. And I don’t know about Brooke and my sister, but I still know every word. And I probably own a greatest hits CD too. So there Mike and I sat, on the bleachers at the fairgrounds, tapping our toes and slapping our thighs to some of the greatest tunes that BlackHawk has ever produced. Mostly I hate when I go to a concert and people sing along. But last night, I was my own personal pet peeve. I just couldn’t help belting it out right along with my favorite old country band.
There are so many things about this man that I love, that face being one of them. The fact that he will eat funnel cake with me at 9:30 at night is another. After the concert we wandered the fair with funnel cake in hand. Word to the wise: eating powdered sugar while walking creates a powdery effect all down the front of you. I was wearing white. Mike didn’t get so lucky.



Things that I do not approve of in a cubicle environment:

Finger Nail Clipping
Nose Blowing
Gum Popping
Loud Phone Conversations

All of which have happened in the last hour.

Pretty much I just don't even want to know that you are there. Stay home if you can't remember your manners.


The House That We Built

Living in the home that we built is such a blessing. It is exactly what we wanted. We are still putting things together as we slowly get rid of some older pieces and replace them with newer pieces. But I realized that we have lived in our home now for two months and I haven't posted any pictures of it now that it is complete. So here you have it, a very, very small home tour.



The last week of May, Mike and I and his whole family went to Disneyland. Mike had a niece that was going to be dancing in the park so my inlaws decided we should all go to Disneyland and support her. I didn’t put up a fight.


I hadn’t been to Disneyland since 2004 and Mike hadn’t been since he was a kid. We had such a good time watching the kids get so excited about each of the rides. And it was fun to finally go to Disneyland with my sweetheart! Mike was a good sport, but still wonders why people who don’t have kids would go to Disneyland. I guess he’s just outgrown all the magic. He needs some pixie dust or something.  



I lay in bed this morning contemplating my 27th year while I waited for the sun to rise over the mountains and shine its warmth into my bedroom window. It was quiet. Mike was out in the kitchen making the birthday girl her favorite breakfast of French toast. And I wondered. I wondered what this year would be like. I wondered what I would do this year. I wondered what God would have me do this year. I wondered what events would cause me to remember my 27th year; a whole year of possibilities just waiting to be had. I think it will be a good year. I think 27 will fit me nicely. I think that I will be sad to move on to my 28th year. Look at me, thinking about 28 when I just turned 27.

And isn't it quite sinister to blog about your own birthday?


May Days

Happy weekend! The girls are doing a spa day and the boys are out treasure hunting. We close on our house on Tuesday and we leave for Disneyland on Memorial Day!
Oh and our washer and dryer still works after being stored in the garage for a year. {Yes we did run a load in the driveway with hose water...} Yay for saving $1,000.


In Two Short Weeks...

 Home Sweet Home.