Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Baby B at One Month

Baby B helping me with some laundry

Baby B, you are one month old! When your foster brothers were babies, I would write updates about them to help myself remember how they changed. Babyhood goes by quickly, and if I don't write things out, they'll be gone from my memory forever. We don't know how long you'll be with us. We think you'll be with us for at least another seven more months, but only God knows the plans he has for you. So just in case you end up sticking around for the next eighteen years, I'm going to do monthly updates on your babyhood. If not, then we'll be able to look back have lots of great things to remember about your time with us.

For the first few weeks you were home with us, we were a bit worried about your weight. This was new territory for me because your foster brothers were always high on the growth charts. When we brought you home at two days old, you were a little peanut at barely 7 lbs, and you were slow to regain your birthweight of 7 lbs, 14 oz. You finally creeped up to 8 pounds just after your two-week checkup. I found myself rejoicing when you finally outgrew your newborn-sized baby clothes at three weeks old. Definitely new territory.

You were very sleepy for the first two and a half weeks of your life. You would usually fall right back to sleep after feedings. You could fall asleep anywhere and anytime, even in the middle of a diaper change. Then around the time you turned three weeks, you started being able to stay awake for up to an hour after your feeding. You love to ride in the Moby wrap. Now that you are awake more, you're very alert and curious when you're in it. You look all around and even lean your head way out to see all around you. I have to keep holding your head in so you don't hurt yourself (and so I don't accidentally bonk your head on something). 

You have sneezing fits at least once a day. You sneeze and then have a little baby sigh, then sneeze again. I'm not sure there's anything cuter than a little baby sneezing five times in a row. 

You are generally mellow and happy. You're slightly fussy in the evening. If we're out of the house in the evening, you're even more fussy. You seem to like being snuggled up in your crib when it's bedtime, instead of being somewhere else. I don't blame you.

Which reminds just recently transitioned to your crib full-time. When you first came home, you were in a bassinet in our room at the foot of our bed. You grunt loudly in your sleep and I was always popping awake thinking you were waking up to eat, only to find that you were just moving around. After a few days, we moved the bassinet into your room across the hall from us and we keep the doors open so we could hear you wake up at night. A few days ago, I tried napping you in your crib to see how you'd take to it. I put a blanket over the side of the crib to hide the bars so it resembled the closed coziness of the bassinet. You took to it! You've been sleeping exclusively in your crib for a few days now. (One less thing we need to wean you off of later!)

You like being swaddled. You're good about putting yourself to sleep. I just wrap you up and lay you down in your crib, and you usually go to sleep with just a minute or two of fussing. Once in a while I'll have to do relays of pacifier replacement, but it's rare. 

You've made a predictable routine for yourself: You wake up around 7:30am and eat/nap every two and a half hours after that until noontime. That's when you eat a bunch and then a nice long nap (which also happens to be the same time your foster brothers take their nap). Then you eat about every three hours the rest of the day. Your last feeding is around 9:30pm. For the past three weeks you've been waking up twice at night to eat, around 1am and 4am. But for the past week you've been waking up just once a night to eat, around 3:00am, and last night you woke up just once at 5:00am. I'm hoping this is a trend that continues! 

One thing you should know, Baby B: you are loved by so many. Your foster dad and I love you like you are our own. Your foster brothers adore you and always want to hold you and play with you. I pray constantly for you, that wisdom would be given to those in charge of making decisions about your future, and that God would protect you and keep you always.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I stopped doing my preschool updates here quite a while ago. The holidays came around and we took a break from doing structured things. I love routine, so towards the end of the holiday season I was really craving our routine again. Then we got a string of foster babies, and we had to tweak things a bit with each new arrival and departure. I changed our routine it a bit and now our days look slightly different than they did in the beginning of the year. Now that we have some stability with Baby B, we've hit on a new routine that is working really well.

Each morning generally looks the same: The boys wake up around 7:30am and eat breakfast. After eating, they get themselves ready for the day and tidy up their room and beds. Baby B also wakes up and eats at 7:30. By the time breakfast is over and the boys are ready for the day, it's time for B to take a nap around 8:30am. The boys and I settle on the couch for 'Bible time': singing hymns, memorizing a new catechism question, and Bible reading. Then it's time to read our chapter book, and the boys play quietly on the floor with Legos while I read. We're currently reading Farmer Boy, and for some reason it feels to me like it's taking us forever to get through it. Probably because I'm not reading as consistently as I'd like to think I am. :)

At some point during all this, Tommy will have his reading lesson; he finished all the books in the Bob Books series so now he is reading from a Bible reader I made. I copied and pasted sections from the New International Reader's Version Bible into a Word document, and divided the text into bite-size chunks for him, so he doesn't get overwhelmed. He's been doing this for a few weeks now and he's already read through the first chapter of Genesis. I got the idea to do this from another home schooling mom and I love it because he's reading something real and important. Early reader books are functional for new readers, but the text is boring and pointless. I love that Tommy is reading something rich and true instead of Dumpy to the Rescue!And yes, that's a real book.

One thing I've added to our days is learning about art and music. We started off with some of my favorite people: Vincent Van Gogh and Aaron Copland. We talk about the paintings during meal times, we've read some books about Van Gogh and his paintings, and we've tried to copy the paintings. In case you're wondering, a Van Gogh reproduction by a four year old ends up looking more like a Picasso. We listen to Copland's music a few times a week in the house (also during meal times, when they're relatively still and calm!) and in the car. So proud that my boys can identify a Copland piece within the first few seconds of the music.  

After 'school time', it's time for Baby B's next feeding. After her feeding we'll go out of the house, either for an errand, a play date, or just for a walk down the street. After this it's time for lunch, then naps for all - Baby B even naps at the same time the big boys have their quiet time. I'm really pleased with the rhythm of our day. I know that one of these days B will change and we'll have to tweak things a bit, but for now I'm really enjoying this sweet spot! 

Enjoying some creek splashing with friends.
Picnic lunch and books. A new tradition we've come up with is to have a lunch of peanut butter and honey sandwiches, apple slices, and popcorn, and eat it leisurely on the grass while I read books to them. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Foster Sister

We found out this week that we will most likely have Baby B for at least six more months, starting in April (so a total of seven to eight months). The likelihood of our adopting her has gone up a little, but there are still a lot of complicating factors. For now, we are excited that we will get to see many of her firsts - rolling over, sitting up, first foods, maybe even crawling and teeth. 

And since we will be seeing many of her firsts, we've started putting together a life book for her. This is an album-like book where we make notes about her personality, quirks, likes and dislikes, eating and sleeping habits, record milestones, and keep photos. The purpose of the book is so that when she moves on to her permanent home (whether it's an adoptive home or back with her birth-mom), she will be able to have a full picture of her first months while in foster care.

Please keep us in prayer over these next months. We are attaching to Baby B as if she was our own, which means lots of kisses, baby babbling (on our parts), holding, and snuggling. But it is always in the back of our heads that she will most likely move on to another home someday and we will have to say goodbye to her. Pray that our hearts would be full of love for her, but also guarded against any feelings of claim on her. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Baby Three

There's a new baby in the house!
Baby P left our home just over three weeks ago. We are supposed to call the assessment center (the facility that processes new children who come in the system and finds them foster parents) to let them know when a child has left our home, so they know that we're "open for placement" and can call us for new children. We didn't know we were supposed to do this. So for two weeks our home was very quiet, and frankly, pretty boring. Once I realized my oversight, I called the assessment center right away to let them know we were open for more kids. A few hours later, bam! New baby. We've had her for nine days now, and she's eleven days old.
She's been a happy, healthy little newborn so far. I'm thankful for so many things with her: she only wakes up twice (sometimes once!) at night; she eats well and goes straight back to sleep during those night feedings. She likes being held and looking around. She lets me know when she's ready for a nap by sucking her hand, rubbing her eyes, and giving small cries of complaint, and then she naps willingly in her bassinet during the day. She doesn't protest her carseat too much, and usually sleeps once she's installed. That's more than I can say for either of my boys as newborns! Or maybe I'm finally getting the hang of this baby thing.
People often ask me how the boys are liking the baby. I reflexively say, "Oh, they love her!" Which is true. But closer to the truth is that they barely notice when we have a baby, particularly a newborn. She sleeps most of the day. They give her gentle little hugs and kisses when it's her (or their) nap time. Truth be told, their life hasn't changed very much in the day-to-day things. We still do school time in the morning, we still have play dates and go for walks at the bike trail and to the park. There's been a few times when they want to do something with me and I have to say "We can do that a little bit later, right now I have to feed (or fill in the blank) Baby B". 
We've been so blessed by the generosity of friends throughout our short foster care experience: 
- a meal dropped off on the day of our first placement of newborn Baby A
- the many friends and family who have been willing to watch the boys anytime while I take care of errands related to foster care - whether it's visiting a baby in the hospital, taking a baby for a visitation, or picking up a new baby at the hospital. Foster care would be very difficult without this support.
- the new Moby Wrap that a friend from my moms group gave me (for free!). It is seriously the comfiest baby carrier I've ever worn and I regret not getting one for my boy babes. It would have made life so much easier. 
- Baby girl clothes we've been given by friends - pink outfits were certainly something lacking in my stockpile of clothing.
We've been asked how long we'll have Baby B. We know we'll definitely have her for two more weeks. At the end of March there is a court date that will decide how her situation will change: she may go back to her mom, she may stay with us for at least six more months, or there may be a search for an adoptive family (if this happens, we most likely won't be able to adopt her, for complex reasons I can't get into here).
For now, I'm so enjoying snuggling this fuzzy newborn head.